We bring to the attention of our readers the following text of Osama bin Laden’s interview with Ummat, a Pakistani daily, published in Karachi on September 28, 2001. It was translated into English by the BBC World Monitoring Service and made public on September 29, 2001.
The authenticity of this interview remains to be confirmed. It is available in recognized electronic news archives including the BBC. Its authenticity has not been questioned.
The interview tends to demystify the Osama bin Laden persona.
Osama bin Laden categorically denies his involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden’s statements in this interview are markedly different from those made in the alleged Osama video tapes.
In this interview, Osama bin Laden exhibits an understanding of US foreign policy. He expresses his views regarding the loss of life on 9/11. He focusses on CIA support to the narcotics trade.
He also makes statements as to who, in his opinion, might be the likely perpetrator of the September 11 attacks.
This is an important text which has not been brought to the attention of Western public opinion.
We have highlighted key sections of this interview.
It is our hope that the text of this interview, published on 28 September 2001 barely a week before the onset of the war on Afghanistan, will contribute to a better understanding of the history of Al Qaeda, the role of Osama bin Laden and the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
This interview is published for informational purposes only. GR does not in any way endorse the statements in this interview.
Michel Chossudovsky, September 9, 2014
Full text of September 2001 Pakistani paper’s “exclusive” interview with Usamah Bin-Ladin
Kabul: Prominent Arab mojahed holy warrior Usamah Bin-Ladin has said that he or his al-Qa’idah group has nothing to do with the 11 September suicidal attacks in Washington and New York. He said the US government should find the attackers within the country. In an exclusive interview with daily “Ummat”, he said these attacks could be the act of those who are part of the American system and are rebelling against it and working for some other system. Or, Usamah said, this could be the act of those who want to make the current century a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity. Or, the American Jews, who are opposed to President Bush ever since the Florida elections, might be the masterminds of this act. There is also a great possibility of the involvement of US intelligence agencies, which need billions of dollars worth of funds every year. He said there is a government within the government in the United States.
The secret agencies, he said, should be asked as to who are behind the attacks. Usamah said support for attack on Afghanistan was a matter of need for some Muslim countries and compulsion for others. However, he said, he was thankful to the courageous people of Pakistan who erected a bulwark before the wrong forces. He added that the Islamic world was attaching great expectations with Pakistan and, in time of need, “we will protect this bulwark by sacrificing of lives”.
Following is the interview in full detail:
Ummat: You have been accused of involvement in the attacks in New York and Washington. What do you want to say about this? If you are not involved, who might be?
Usamah [Osama bin Laden]: In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who is the creator of the whole universe and Who made the earth as an abode for peace, for the whole mankind. Allah is the Sustainer, who sent Prophet Muhammad for our guidance. I am thankful to the Ummat Group of Publications, which gave me the opportunity to convey my viewpoint to the people, particularly the valiant and Momin true Muslim people of Pakistan who refused to believe in lie of the demon.
I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people.
Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel.
There is also a warning for those Muslim countries, which witnessed all these as a silent spectator. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya, and Bosnia?
Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers that America is an anti-Islamic power and it is patronizing the anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just a show, rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Put a glance all around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims .
The US has no friends, nor does it want to keep any because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates.
However, our case is different. We have pledged slavery to God Almighty alone and after this pledge there is no possibility to become the slave of someone else. If we do that, it will be disregardful to both our Sustainer and his fellow beings. Most of the world nations upholding their freedom are the religious ones, which are the enemies of United States, or the latter itself considers them as its enemies. Or the countries, which do not agree to become its slaves, such as China, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Syria, and the former Russia as received .
Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.
According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US government has stated. But the Bush administration does not want the panic to spread. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be any one, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the US itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction. Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who are annoyed with President Bush ever since the elections in Florida and want to avenge him.
Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This funding issue was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger.
They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usamah and Taleban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush administration approved a budget of 40bn dollars. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance.
Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US president, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks.
Ummat: A number of world countries have joined the call of the United States for launching an attack on Afghanistan. These also include a number of Muslim countries. Will Al-Qa’idah declare a jihad against these countries as well?
Usamah: I must say that my duty is just to awaken the Muslims; to tell them as to what is good for them and what is not. What does Islam says and what the enemies of Islam want?
Al-Qa’idah was set up to wage a jihad against infidelity, particularly to encounter the onslaught of the infidel countries against the Islamic states. Jihad is the sixth undeclared element of Islam. The first five being the basic holy words of Islam, prayers, fast, pilgrimage to Mecca, and giving alms Every anti-Islamic person is afraid of it. Al-Qa’idah wants to keep this element alive and active and make it part of the daily life of the Muslims. It wants to give it the status of worship. We are not against any Islamic country nor we consider a war against an Islamic country as jihad.
We are in favour of armed jihad only against those infidel countries, which are killing innocent Muslim men, women, and children just because they are Muslims. Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think as to what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and the Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan. The orders of Islamic shari’ah jurisprudence for such individuals, organizations, and countries are clear and all the scholars of the Muslim brotherhood are unanimous on them. We will do the same, which is being ordered by the Amir ol-Momenin the commander of the faithful Mola Omar and the Islamic scholars. The hearts of the people of Muslim countries are beating with the call of jihad. We are grateful to them.
Ummat: The losses caused in the attacks in New York and Washington have proved that giving an economic blow to the US is not too difficult. US experts admit that a few more such attacks can bring down the American economy. Why is al-Qa’idah not targeting their economic pillars?
Usamah: I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom.This system is totally in control of the American Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is simply that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel. In fact, it is Israel, which is giving a blood bath to innocent Muslims and the US is not uttering a single word.
Ummat: Why is harm not caused to the enemies of Islam through other means, apart from the armed struggle? For instance, inciting the Muslims to boycott Western products, banks, shipping lines, and TV channels.
Usamah: The first thing is that Western products could only be boycotted when the Muslim fraternity is fully awakened and organized. Secondly, the Muslim companies should become self-sufficient in producing goods equal to the products of Western companies. Economic boycott of the West is not possible unless economic self-sufficiency is attained and substitute products are brought out. You see that wealth is scattered all across the Muslim world but not a single TV channel has been acquired which can preach Islamic injunctions according to modern requirements and attain an international influence. Muslim traders and philanthropists should make it a point that if the weapon of public opinion is to be used, it is to be kept in the hand. Today’s world is of public opinion and the fates of nations are determined through its pressure. Once the tools for building public opinion are obtained, everything that you asked for can be done.
Ummat: The entire propaganda about your struggle has so far been made by the Western media. But no information is being received from your sources about the network of Al-Qa’idah and its jihadi successes. Would you comment?
Usamah: In fact, the Western media is left with nothing else. It has no other theme to survive for a long time. Then we have many other things to do. The struggle for jihad and the successes are for the sake of Allah and not to annoy His bondsmen. Our silence is our real propaganda. Rejections, explanations, or corrigendum only waste your time and through them, the enemy wants you to engage in things which are not of use to you. These things are pulling you away from your cause.
The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which make us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness.
Ummat: What will the impact of the freeze of al-Qa’idah accounts by the US?
Usamah: God opens up ways for those who work for Him. Freezing of accounts will not make any difference for Al-Qa’idah or other jihad groups. With the grace of Allah, al-Qa’idah has more than three such alternative financial systems, which are all separate and totally independent from each other. This system is operating under the patronage of those who love jihad. What to say of the United States, even the combined world cannot budge these people from their path.
These people are not in hundreds but in thousands and millions. Al-Qa’idah comprises of such modern educated youths who are aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system as they are aware of the lines in their hands. These are the very flaws of the Western fiscal system, which are becoming a noose for it and this system could not recuperate in spite of the passage of so many days.
Ummat: Are there other safe areas other than Afghanistan, where you can continue jihad?
Usamah: There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir. Then it is not the problem of my person. I am helpless fellowman of God, constantly in the fear of my accountability before God. It is not the question of Usamah but of Islam and, in Islam too, of jihad. Thanks to God, those waging a jihad can walk today with their heads raised. Jihad was still present when there was no Usamah and it will remain as such even when Usamah is no longer there. Allah opens up ways and creates loves in the hearts of people for those who walk on the path of Allah with their lives, property, and children. Believe it, through jihad, a man gets everything he desires. And the biggest desire of a Muslim is the after life. Martyrdom is the shortest way of attaining an eternal life.
Ummat: What do you say about the Pakistan government policy on Afghanistan attack?
Usamah: We are thankful to the Momin and valiant people of Pakistan who erected a blockade in front of the wrong forces and stood in the first file of battle. Pakistan is a great hope for the Islamic brotherhood. Its people are awakened, organized, and rich in the spirit of faith. They backed Afghanistan in its war against the Soviet Union and extended every help to the mojahedin and the Afghan people. Then these are the same Pakistanis who are standing shoulder by shoulder with the Taleban. If such people emerge in just two countries, the domination of the West will diminish in a matter of days. Our hearts beat with Pakistan and, God forbid, if a difficult time comes we will protect it with our blood. Pakistan is sacred for us like a place of worship. We are the people of jihad and fighting for the defence of Pakistan is the best of all jihads to us. It does not matter for us as to who rules Pakistan. The important thing is that the spirit of jihad is alive and stronger in the hearts of the Pakistani people.
Copyright Ummat in Urdu, BBC translation in English, 2001
Read about Osama Bin Laden in Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller
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The tragic events of September 11, 2001 constitute a fundamental landmark in American history. a decisive watershed, a breaking point. Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of 9/11.
September 11 2001 opens up an era of crisis, upheaval and militarization of American society.
A far-reaching overhaul of US military doctrine was launched in the wake of 9/11.
Endless wars of aggression under the humanitarian cloak of “counter-terrorism” were set in motion.
9/11 was also a stepping stone towards the relentless repeal of civil liberties, the militarization of law enforcement and the inauguration of “Police State USA”.
September 11, 2001 marks the onslaught of the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), used as a pretext and a justification by the US and its NATO allies to carry out a “war without borders”, a global war of conquest.
At eleven o’clock, on the morning of September 11, the Bush administration had already announced that Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon. This assertion was made prior to the conduct of an indepth police investigation.
CIA Director George Tenet stated that same morning that Osama bin Laden had the capacity to plan “multiple attacks with little or no warning.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell called the attacks “an act of war” and President Bush confirmed in an evening televised address to the Nation that he would “make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey, without mentioning Afghanistan, pointed his finger at “state sponsorship,” implying the complicity of one or more foreign governments. In the words of former National Security Adviser, Lawrence Eagleburger, “I think we will show when we get attacked like this, we are terrible in our strength and in our retribution.”
That same evening at 9:30 pm, a “War Cabinet” was formed integrated by a select number of top intelligence and military advisors. And at 11:00 pm, at the end of that historic meeting at the White House, the “War on Terrorism” was officially launched.
The tragic events of 9/11 provided the required justification to wage war on Afghanistan on “humanitarian grounds”, with the full support of World public opinion and the endorsement of the “international community”. Several prominent “progressive” intellectuals made a case for “retaliation against terrorism”, on moral and ethical grounds. The “just cause” military doctrine (jus ad bellum) was accepted and upheld at face value as a legitimate response to 9/11.
In the wake of 9/11, the antiwar movement was completely isolated. The trade unions and civil society organizations had swallowed the media lies and government propaganda. They had accepted a war of retribution against Afghanistan, an impoverished country in Central Asia of 30 million people.
The myth of the “outside enemy” and the threat of “Islamic terrorists” was the cornerstone of the Bush administration’s military doctrine, used as a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the repeal of civil liberties and constitutional government in America.
Amply documented but rarely mentioned by the mainstream media, Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA going back to the Soviet- Afghan war. This was a known fact, corroborated by numerous sources including official documents of the US Congress, which the mainstream media chose to either dismiss or ignore. The intelligence community had time and again acknowledged that they had indeed supported Osama bin Laden, but that in the wake of the Cold War: “he turned against us”.
The 9/11 Commission Report has largely upheld the “outside enemy” mythology, heralding Al Qaeda as the “mastermind” organization behind the 9/11 attacks.
The official 9/11 narrative has not only distorted the causes underling the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, it has also erased the historical record of US covert support to international terrorism, while creating the illusion that America and “Western Civilization” are threatened.
Without an “outside enemy”, there could be no “war on terrorism”. The entire national security agenda would collapse “like a deck of cards”. The war criminals in high office would have no leg to stand on.
After 9/11, the campaign of media disinformation served not only to drown the truth but also to kill much of the historical evidence on how this illusive Al Qaeda “outside enemy” had been fabricated and transformed into “Enemy Number One”.
The 911 Reader is composed of a carefully selected collection of key articles published by Global Research in the course of the last eleven years.
9/11 was an important landmark for Global Research. Our website was launched on September 9, 2001, two days prior to 9/11. Our coverage of 9/11 was initiated on September 12, 2001.
Within this collection of more than 60 chapters, we have included several important reports from our archives, published by Global Research in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. These articles provide a focus on issues pertaining to the 9/11 Timeline, foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, the attack on the Pentagon, the issue of insider trading on Wall Street in the days preceding 9/11 pointing to foreknowledge of the attacks.
What prevails is a complex web of lies and fabrications, pertaining to various dimensions of the 9/11 tragedy. The falsehoods contained in the official 9/11 narrative are manifold, extending from the affirmation that Osama bin Laden was the mastermind, to the assertion by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that the WTC buildings collapsed due to the impacts of fire. (see Part III).
Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001?
Is there any proof to the effect that Osama bin Laden, the bogeyman, coordinated the 9/11 attacks as claimed in the official 9/11 narrative?
According to CBS news (Dan Rather, January 28, 2002), “Enemy Number One” was admitted to the urology ward of a Pakistani military hospital in Rawalpindi on September 10, 2001, courtesy of America’s indefectible ally Pakistan. He could have been arrested at short notice which would have “saved us a lot of trouble”, but then we would not have had an Osama Legend, which has fed the news chain as well as presidential speeches in the course of the last eleven years.
DAN RATHER. As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11.
This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.
The foregoing CBS report which is of utmost relevance indicates two obvious facts:
1. Osama bin Laden could not reasonably have coordinated the 9/11 attacks from his hospital bed;
2. The hospital was under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani Armed Forces, which has close links to the Pentagon. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts were known to both the Pakistani and US military.
U.S. military and intelligence advisers based in Rawalpindi. were working closely with their Pakistani counterparts. Again, no attempt was made to arrest America’s best known fugitive. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed, at the time, that the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden were unknown. According to Rumsfeld: “Its like looking for a needle in a stack of hay”.
October 7, 2001: Waging America’s 9/11 War of Retribution against Afghanistan
The immediate response of the US and its allies to the 9/11 attacks was to the declare a war of retribution against Afghanistan on the grounds that the Taliban government was protecting “terror mastermind” Osama bin Laden. By allegedly harboring bin Laden, the Taliban were complicit, according to both the US administration and NATO, for having waged an act of war against the United States.
Parroting official statements, the Western media mantra on September 12, 2001 had already approved the launching of “punitive actions” directed against civilian targets in Afghanistan. In the words of William Saffire writing in the New York Times: “When we reasonably determine our attackers’ bases and camps, we must pulverize them — minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral damage” — and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror’s national hosts”.
This decision was taken by the Bush-Cheney war cabinet in the evening of September 11, 2001. It was based on the presumption, “confirmed” by the head of the CIA that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks.
On the following morning, September 12, 2001, NATO’s Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, endorsed the Bush administration’s declaration of war on Afghanistan, invoking Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
An act of war by a foreign nation (Afghanistan) against a member of the Atlantic Alliance (the USA) is an act of war against all members under NATO’s doctrine of collective security. Under any stretch of the imagination, the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon cannot be categorized as an act of war by a foreign country. But nobody seemed to have raised this issue.
Meanwhile, on two occasions in the course of September 2001, the Afghan government –through diplomatic channels– offered to hand over Osama Bin laden to US Justice. These overtures were turned down by president Bush, on the grounds that America “does not negotiate with terrorists”.
The war on Afghanistan was launched 26 days later on the morning of October 7, 2001. The timing of this war begs the question: how long does it take to plan and implement a major theater war several thousand miles away. Military analysts will confirm that a major theater war takes months and months, up to a year or more of advanced preparations. The war on Afghanistan was already in the advanced planning stages prior to September 11, 2001, which begs the question of foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
The repeal of civil liberties in America was launched in parallel with the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, almost immediately following 9/11 with the adoption of the PATRIOT legislation and the setting up of a Homeland Security apparatus, under the pretext of protecting Americans. This post-911 legal and institutional framework had been carefully crafted prior to the 9/11 attacks.
Al Qaeda is a US Intelligence Asset
Important to the understanding of 9/11, US intelligence is the unspoken architect of “Islamic terrorism” going back to the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war.
Bin Laden was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerrilla training camp. Education in Afghanistan in the years preceding the Soviet-Afghan war was largely secular. With religious textbooks produced in Nebraska, the number of CIA sponsored religious schools (madrasahs) increased from 2,500 in 1980 to over 39,000.
“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the [Islamic] Jihad.” (Pervez Hoodbhoy, Peace Research, 1 May 2005)
”The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings….The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..”, (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)
Under the Reagan administration, US foreign policy evolved towards the unconditional support and endorsement of the Islamic “freedom fighters”. This endorsement has not in any way been modified.
In a twisted irony, throughout the post 911 era, US intelligence in liaison with Britain’s MI6, an Israel’s Mossad, continues to provide covert support to the radical Islamist organization allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda and its various affiliated groups including the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and factions within the Free Syria Army (FSA) are directly supported by the US and NATO.
In a bitter irony, the US and its allies claim to be waging a “war on terrorism” against the alleged architects of 9/11, while also using Al Qaeda operatives as their foot-soldiers.
Front row, from left: Major Gen. Hamid Gul, director general of Pakistan’s
Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Willian Webster; Deputy Director for Operations Clair George; an ISI colonel; and senior CIA official,
Milt Bearden at a Mujahideen training camp in North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan in 1987.
Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)
The Collapse of the World Trade Center Buildings
Based on the findings of Richard Gage of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings was not caused by fire resulting from the crash of the planes:
In more than 100 steel-framed, high-rise fires (most of them very hot, very large and very long-lasting), not one has collapsed, ever. So it behooves all of us, as your own former chief of NIST’s Fire Science Division, Dr. James Quintiere, said, “to look at real alternatives that might have been the cause of these collapses.”
Let’s start with temperatures – 1,340° F. temperatures, recorded in thermal images of the surface of the World Trade Center rubble pile a week after 9/11 by NASA’s AVIRIS equipment on USGS overflights. Such temperatures cannot be achieved by oxygen-starved hydrocarbon fires. Such fires burn at only 600 to 800° F. Remember, there was no fire on the top of the pile. The source of this incredible heat was therefore below the surface of the rubble, where it must have been far hotter than 1,340 degrees.
Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Inc., who was hired for the Building 7 cleanup, said that “molten steel was found at 7 WTC.” Leslie Robertson, World Trade Center structural engineer, stated that on October 5, “21 days after the attacks, the fires were still burning and molten steel was still running.” Fire department personnel, recorded on video, reported seeing “molten steel running down the channel rails… like you’re in a foundry – like lava from a volcano.” Joe O’Toole, a Bronx firefighter, saw a crane lifting a steel beam vertically from deep within a pile. He said “it was dripping from the molten steel.” Bart Voorsanger, an architect hired to save “relics from the rubble,” stated about the multi-ton “meteorite” that it was a “fused element of molten steel and concrete.”
Steel melts at about 2,850 degrees Fahrenheit, about twice the temperature of the World Trade Center Tower 1 and 2 fires as estimated by NIST. So what melted the steel?
Appendix C of FEMA’s BPAT Report documents steel samples showing rapid oxidation, sulfidation, and intergranular melting. A liquid eutectic mixture, including sulfur from an unknown source, caused intense corrosion of the steel, gaping holes in wide flange beams, and the thinning of half-inch-thick flanges to almost razor-sharpness in the World Trade Center 7 steel. The New York Times called this “the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation.”
NIST left all of this crucial forensic evidence out of its report. Why? Because it didn’t fit in with the official conspiracy theory.
Last year, physicist Steven Jones, two other physicists, and a geologist analyzed the slag at the ends of the beams and in the samples of the previously molten metal. They found iron, aluminum, sulfur, manganese and fluorine – the chemical evidence of thermate, a high-tech incendiary cutting charge used by the military to cut through steel like a hot knife through butter. The by-product of the thermate reaction is molten iron! There’s no other possible source for all the molten iron that was found. One of thermate’s key ingredients is sulfur, which can form the liquid eutectic that FEMA found and lower the melting point of steel.
In addition, World Trade Center 7′s catastrophic structural failure showed every characteristic of explosive, controlled demolition. … The destruction began suddenly at the base of the building. Several first responders reported explosions occurring about a second before the collapse. There was the symmetrical, near-free-fall speed of collapse, through the path of greatest resistance – with 40,000 tons of steel designed to resist this load – straight down into its own footprint. This requires that all the columns have to fail within a fraction of a second of each other – perimeter columns as well as core columns. There was also the appearance of mistimed explosions (squibs?) at the upper seven floors on the network video recordings of the collapse. And we have expert testimony from a European demolitions expert, Danny Jowenko, who said “This is controlled demolition… a team of experts did this… This is professional work, without any doubt.”
Fire cannot produce these effects. Fire produces large, gradual deformations and asymmetrical collapses. Thermate can produce all of these effects used in conjunction with linear shaped charges. If the thermate is formed into ultra-fine particles, as has been accomplished at Los Alamos National Laboratory, it is called super-thermate, and is very explosive.(Richard Gage, January 2008)
The following AE911Truth Video provides evidence that the WTC center towers were brought down through controlled demolition.
According to David Ray Griffin:
“The official theory of the collapse, therefore, is essentially a fire theory, so it cannot be emphasized too much that fire has never caused large steel-frame buildings to collapse—never, whether before 9/11, or after 9/11, or anywhere in the world on 9/11 except allegedly New York City—never.” See David Ray Griffin).
According to Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, based on solid scientific analysis and evidence, the collapse of the WTC towers was engineered through controlled demolition. While AE11Truth does not speculate on who might be behind the conspiracy to bring down the WTC buildings, they nonetheless suggest that the carrying out such an operation would require a carefully planned course of action with prior access to the buildings as well as an advanced level of expertise in the use of explosives, etc.
The Collapse of WTC Building Seven
The most grotesque lie pertains to the BBC and CNN announcement in the afternoon of September 11, that WTC Building Seven (The Solomon Building) had collapsed. The BBC report went live at 5.00pm, 21 minutes before the actual occurrence of the collapse, indelibly pointing to foreknowledge of the collapse of WTC 7. CNN anchor Aaron Brown announced that the building “has either collapsed or is collapsing” about an hour before the event.
CNN anchor Aaron Brown seems to struggle to make sense of what he is seeing one minute after announcing that WTC Building 7, whose erect facade is clearly visible in his view towards the Trade Center, has or is collapsing.
Coverup and Complicity
The 911 Reader presents factual information and analysis which points to cover-up and complicity at the highest levels of the US government.
This body of articles by prominent authors, scholars, architects, engineers, largely refutes the official narrative of the 9/11 Commission Report, which is reviewed in Part IV. It dispels the notion that America was attacked on September 11, 2001 on the orders of Osama bin Laden.
This is a central issue because US military doctrine since 9/11 has been predicated on “defending the American Homeland” against Islamic terrorists as well as waging pre-emptive wars against Al Qaeda and its various “state sponsors”. Afghanistan was bombed and invaded as part of the “war on terrorism”. In March 2003, Iraq was also invaded.
Fiction prevails over reality. For propaganda to be effective, public opinion must firmly endorse the official 9/11 narrative to the effect that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks. A well organized structure of media disinformation (Part XI) is required to reach this objective. Perpetuating the 9/11 Legend also requires defying as well smearing the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Throughout the post 9/11 era, a panoply of Al Qaeda related events and circumstances is presented to public opinion on a daily basis. These include terrorist threats, warnings and attacks, police investigations, insurgencies and counter-insurgencies, country-level regime change, social conflict, sectarian violence, racism, religious divisions, Islamic thought, Western values, etc.
In turn, 9/11, Al Qaeda – War on Terrorism rhetoric permeates political discourse at all levels of government, including bipartisan debate on Capitol Hill, in committees of the House and the Senate, at the British House of Commons, and, lest we forget, at the United Nations Security Council.
September 11 and Al Qaeda concepts, repeated ad nauseam have potentially traumatic impacts on the human mind and the ability of normal human beings to analyze and comprehend the “real outside World” of war, politics and the economic crisis.
What is at stake is human consciousness and comprehension based on concepts and facts.
With September 11 there are no verifiable “facts” and “concepts”, because 9/11 as well as Al Qaeda have evolved into a media mythology, a legend, an invented ideological construct, used as an unsubtle tool of media disinformation and war propaganda.
Al Qaeda constitutes a stylized, fake and almost folkloric abstraction of terrorism, which permeates the inner consciousness of millions of people around the World.
Reference to Al Qaeda has become a dogma, a belief, which most people espouse unconditionally.
Is this political indoctrination? Is it brain-washing? If so what is the underlying objective?
People’s capacity to independently analyse World events, as well as address causal relationships pertaining to politics and society, is significantly impaired. That is the objective!
The routine use of 9/11 and Al Qaeda to generate blanket explanations of complex political events is meant to create confusion. It prevents people from thinking.
All of these complex Al Qaeda related occurrences are explained –by politicians, the corporate media, Hollywood and the Washington think tanks under a single blanket “bad guys” heading, in which Al Qaeda is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as “the cause” of numerous terror events around the World.
The Alleged Role of Iraq in the 9/11 Attacks
9/11 mythology has been a mainstay of war propaganda. In the course of 2002, leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, “Osama bin Laden” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” statements circulated profusely in the news chain. While Washington’s official position was that Saddam Hussein was not behind the 9/11 attacks, insinuations abounded both in presidential speeches as well as in the Western media. According to Bush, in an October 2002 press conference:
The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime’s own actions — its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. .,.. We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability — even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source [Iraq], that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America. President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat, October 7, 2002)
Meanwhile, a new terrorist mastermind had emerged: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
In Colin Powell’s historic address to the United Nations Security Council, in February 2003, detailed “documentation” on a sinister relationship between Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was presented, focussing on his ability to produce deadly chemical, biological and radiological weapons, with the full support and endorsement of the secular Baathist regime. The implication of Colin’s Powell’s assertions, which were totally fabricated, was that Saddam Hussein and an Al Qaeda affiliated organization had joined hands in the production of WMD in Northern Iraq and that the Hussein government was a “state sponsor” of terrorism.
The main thrust of the disinformation campaign continued in the wake of the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. It consisted in presenting the Iraqi resistance movement as “terrorists”. The image of “terrorists opposed to democracy” fighting US “peacekeepers” appeared on television screens and news tabloids across the globe.
Iran: Alleged State Sponsor of 9/11
In the wake of the Iraq invasion, the same alleged “state sponsorship” of terrorism accusations emerged in relation to Iran.
In December 2011, the Islamic Republic of Iran was condemned by a Manhattan court, for its alleged role in supporting Al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks.
The investigation into Tehran’s alleged role was launched in 2004, pursuant to a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission “regarding an apparent link between Iran, Hezbollah, and the 9/11 hijackers”. The 91/11 Commission’s recommendation was that the this “apparent link” required “further investigation by the U.S. government.” (9/11 Commission Report , p. 241). (See Iran 911 Case ).
In the December 2011 court judgment (Havlish v. Iran) “U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ruled that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case”.
According to the plaintiffs attorneys “Iran, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda formed a terror alliance in the early 1990s. Citing their national security and intelligence experts, the attorneys explained “how the pragmatic terror leaders overcame the Sunni-Shi’a divide in order to confront the U.S. (the “Great Satan”) and Israel (the “Lesser Satan”)”. Iran and Hezbollah allegedly provided “training to members of al Qaeda in, among other things, the use of explosives to destroy large buildings.” (See Iran 911 Case ).
This judicial procedure is nothing more than another vicious weapon in the fabricated “War on Terror” to be used against another Muslim country, with a view to destabilizing Iran as well as justifying ongoing military threats. It also says a lot more about the people behind the lawsuit than about the accused. The expert witnesses who testified against Iran are very active in warmongering neocon circles. They belong to a web of architects of the 21st century Middle-Eastern wars, ranging from high profile propagandists to intelligence and military officers, including former U.S. officials.
Ironically, while Washington accuses Iran and Afghanistan of supporting terrorism, the historical record and evidence indelibly point to the “state sponsorship” of Al Qaeda by the CIA, MI6 and their counterparts in Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Al Qaeda death squads have been recruited to wage America’s humanitarian wars throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
In Syria Al Qaeda units were recruited by NATO and the Turkish High command: “Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels.” (http://www.debka.com/article/21255/ Debkafile, August 31, 2011).
In Libya, jihadists from Afghanistan trained by the CIA were dispatched to fight with the “pro-democracy” rebels under the helm of “former” Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj:
Western policy makers admit that NATO’s operations in Libya have played the primary role in emboldening Al Qaeda’s AQIM faction (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). The Fortune 500-funded Brookings Institution’s Bruce Riedel in his article, “The New Al Qaeda Menace,” admits that AQIM is now heavily armed thanks to NATO’s intervention in Libya, and that AQIM’s base in Mali, North Africa, serves as a staging ground for terrorist activities across the region. http://www.globalresearch.ca/al-qaeda-and-natos-pan-arab-terrorist-blitzkrieg/
Table of Contents of the 9/11 Reader
In Part I, the 911 Reader provides a review of what happened on the morning of 9/11, at the White House, on Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, at Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM), What was the response of the US Air Force in the immediate wake of the attacks? Part II focusses on “What Happened on the Planes” as described in the 9/11 Commission Report.
Part III sheds light on what caused the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. It also challenges the official narrative with regard to the attack on the Pentagon.
Part IV reviews and refutes the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report.
Part V focusses on the issue of foreknowledge by Western intelligence agencies. Part VI examines the issue of how foreknowledge of the attacks was used as an instrument of insider trading on airline stocks in the days preceding September 11, 2001. The bonanza financial gains resulting from insurance claims to the leaseholders of the WTC buildings is also examined.
Part VII focusses on the history and central role of Al Qaeda as a US intelligence asset. Since the Soviet-Afghan war, US intelligence has supported the formation of various jihadist organizations. An understanding of this history is crucial in refuting the official 9/11 narrative which claims that Al Qaeda, was behind the attacks.
Part VIII centers on the life and death of 9/11 “Terror Mastermind” Osama bin Laden, who was recruited by the CIA in the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war. This section also includes an analysis of the mysterious death of Osama bin Laden, allegedly executed by US Navy Seals in a suburb of Islamabad in May 2011.
Part IX focusses on “False Flags” and the Pentagon’s “Second 9/11″. Part X examines the issue of “Deep Events” with contributions by renowned scholars Peter Dale Scott and Daniele Ganser.
Part XI examines the structure of 9/11 propaganda which consists in “creating” as well “perpetuating” a “9/11 Legend”. How is this achieved? Incessantly, on a daily basis, Al Qaeda, the alleged 9/11 Mastermind is referred to by the Western media, government officials, members of the US Congress, Wall Street analysts, etc. as an underlying cause of numerous World events.
Part XII focusses on the practice of 9/11 Justice directed against the alleged culprits of the 9/11 attacks.
The legitimacy of 9/11 propaganda requires fabricating “convincing evidence” and “proof” that those who are accused actually carried out the attacks. Sentencing of Muslims detained in Guantanamo is part of war propaganda. It depicts innocent men who are accused of the 9/11 attacks, based on confessions acquired through systematic torture throughout their detention.
Part XIII focusses on 9/11 Truth. The objective of 9/11 Truth is to ultimately dismantle the propaganda apparatus which is manipulating the human mindset. The 9/11 Reader concludes with a retrospective view of 9/11 ten years later.
Timeline: What Happened on the Morning of September 11, 2001
On the morning of September 11, Pakistan’s Chief Spy General Mahmoud Ahmad, the alleged “money-man” behind the 9-11 hijackers, was at a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
“Foreknowledge” and “Failure to act” upholds the notion that the terrorist attacks (“act of war”) “waged by Muslims against America” are real, when all the facts and findings point towards coverup and complicity at the highest levels of the US government.
On the morning of September 11, Pakistan’s Chief Spy General Mahmoud Ahmad, the alleged “money-man” behind the 9-11 hijackers, was at a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
The main justification for waging this war has been totally fabricated. The American people have been deliberately and consciously misled by their government into supporting a major military adventure which affects our collective future.
9/11 Ringleader connected to secret Pentagon operation
- by Dr. Daniele Ganser – 2005-08-27
Atta was connected to a secret operation of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in the US. A top secret Pentagon project code-named Able Danger identified Atta and 3 other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the attacks.
According to Chossudovsky, the “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.
On August 28 Sheikh Said Afandi, acknowledged spiritual leader of the Autonomous Russian Republic of Dagestan, was assassinated. A jihadist female suicide bomber managed to enter his house and detonate an explosive device.
The murder target had been carefully selected. Sheikh Afandi, a seventy-five-year old Sufi Muslim leader, had played the critical role in attempting to bring about reconciliation in Dagestan between jihadist Salafi Sunni Muslims and other factions, many of whom in Dagestan see themselves as followers of Sufi. With no replacement of his moral stature and respect visible, authorities fear possible outbreak of religious war in the tiny Russian autonomous republic.
The police reported that the assassin was an ethnic Russian woman who had converted to Islam and was linked to an Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist insurgency against Russia and regional governments loyal to Moscow in the autonomous republics and across the volatile Muslim-populated North Caucasus region.
Ethnic Muslim populations in this region of Russia and of the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and into China’s Xinjiang Province, have been the target of various US and NATO intelligence operations since the Cold War era ended in 1990. Washington sees manipulation of Muslim groups as the vehicle to bring uncontrollable chaos to Russia and Central Asia. It’s being carried out by some of the same organizations engaged in creating chaos and destruction inside Syria against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. In a real sense, as Russian security services clearly understand, if they don’t succeed in stopping the Jihadists insurgency in Syria, it will come home to them via the Caucasus.
The latest Salafist murders of Sufi and other moderate Muslim leaders in the Caucasus are apparently part of what is becoming ever clearer as perhaps the most dangerous US intelligence operation ever—playing globally with Muslim fundamentalism.
Previously US and allied intelligence services had played fast and loose with religious organizations or beliefs in one or another country. What makes the present situation particularly dangerous—notably since the decision in Washington to unleash the misnamed Arab Spring upheavals that began in Tunisia late 2010, spreading like a brushfire across the entire Islamic world from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Morocco—is the incalculable wave upon wave of killing, hatreds, destruction of entire cultures that Washington has unleashed in the name of that elusive dream named “democracy.” They do this using alleged Al-Qaeda groups, Saudi Salafists or Wahhabites, or using disciples of Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen Movement to ignite fires of religious hatred within Islam and against other faiths that could take decades to extinguish. It could easily spill over into a new World War.
Fundamentalism comes to Caucasus
Following the dissolution of the USSR, radical Afghanistani Mujahadeen, Islamists from Saudi Arabia, from Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic countries flooded into the Muslim regions of the former USSR. One of the best-organized of these was the Gülen Movement of Fethullah Gülen, leader of a global network of Islamic schools and reported to be the major policy influence on Turkey’s Erdogan AKP party.
Gülen was quick to establish The International Dagestani-Turkish College in Dagestan. During the chaotic days after the Soviet collapse, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation officially registered and permitted unfettered activity for a variety of Islamic foundations and organizations. These included the League of the Islamic World, the World Muslim Youth Assembly, the reportedly Al-Qaeda friendly Saudi foundation ‘Ibrahim ben Abd al-Aziz al-Ibrahim.’ The blacklist also included Al-Haramein a Saudi foundation reported tied to Al-Qaeda, and IHH,  a Turkish organization banned in Germany, that allegedly raised funds for jihadi fighters in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, and was charged by French intelligence of ties to Al Qaeda. Many of these charities were covers for fundamentalist Salafists with their own special agenda.
As many of the foreign Islamists in Chechnya and Dagestan were found involved in fomenting the regional unrest and civil war, Russian authorities withdrew permission of most to run schools and institutions. Throughout the North Caucasus at the time of the Chechyn war in the late 1990’s, there were more than two dozen Islamic institutes, some 200 madrassas and numerous maktabas (Koranic study schools) present at almost all mosques.
The International Dagestani-Turkish College was one that was forced to close its doors in Dagestan. The College was run by the Fethullah Gülen organization.
At the point of the Russian crackdown on the spread of Salafist teaching inside Russia at the end of the 1990’s, there was an exodus of hundreds of young Dagestani and Chechyn Muslim students to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other places in The Middle east, reportedly to receive training with the Gülen movement and various Saudi-financed organizations, including Salafists.  It is believed in Russia that the students trained by Gülen supporters or Saudi and other Salafist fundamentalist centers then were sent back to Dagestan and the North Caucasus to spread their radical strain of Islam.
By 2005 the situation in the Caucasus was so influenced by this Salafist intervention that the Chechen Salafist, Doku Umarov, cited by the UN Security Council for links to Al-Qaeda, unilaterally declared creation of what he called the Caucasus Emirate, announcing he planned to establish an Islamic state under Sharia law encompassing the entire North Caucasus region including Dagestan. He modestly proclaimed himself Emir of the Caucasus Emirate. 
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Part II: Salafism at war with Sufi tradition
Salafism, known in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism, is a fundamentalist strain of Islam which drew world attention and became notorious in March 2001 just weeks before the attacks of September 11. That was when the Salafist Taliban government in Afghanistan willfully dynamited and destroyed the historic gigantic Buddhas of Bamiyan on the ancient Silk Road, religious statues dating from the 6th Century. The Taliban Salafist leaders also banned as “un-islamic” all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Sharia.
Afghani sources reported that the order to destroy the Buddhas was made by Saudi-born jihadist Wahhabite, Osama bin Laden, who ultimately convinced Mullah Omar, Taliban supreme leader at the time to execute the act.
Before and…After Salafist Taliban …
While Sufis incorporate the worship of saints and theatrical ceremonial prayers into their practice, Salafis condemn as idolatry any non-traditional forms of worship. They also call for the establishment of Islamic political rule and strict Sharia law. Sufism is home to the great spiritual and musical heritage of Islam, said by Islamic scholars to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam, going back centuries.
As one Sufi scholar described the core of Sufism, “While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise–after death and the ‘Final Judgment’– Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness–while one is alive. Furthermore, the attainment of the knowledge that comes with such intimacy with God, Sufis assert, is the very purpose of the creation. Here they mention the hadith qudsi in which God states, ‘I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.’ Hence for the Sufis there is already a momentum, a continuous attraction on their hearts exerted by God, pulling them, in love, towards God.” 
The mystical Islamic current of Sufism and its striving to become close to or one with God is in stark contrast to the Jihadist Salafi or Wahhabi current that is armed with deadly weapons, preaches a false doctrine of jihad, and a perverse sense of martyrdom, committing countless acts of violence. Little wonder that the victims of Salafist Jihads are mostly other pacific forms of Islam including most especially Sufis.
The respected seventy-five year old Afandi had publicly denounced Salafist Islamic fundamentalism. His murder followed a July 19 coordinated attack on two high-ranking muftis in the Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan. Both victims were state-approved religious leaders who had attacked radical Islam. This latest round of murders opens a new front in the Salafist war against Russia, namely attacks on moderate Sufi Muslim leaders.
Whether or not Dagestan now descends into internal religious civil war that then spreads across the geopolitically sensitive Russian Caucasus is not yet certain. What is almost certain is that the same circles who have been feeding violence and terror inside Syria against the regime of Alawite President Bashar al-Assad are behind the killing of Sheikh Afandi as well as sparking related acts of terror or unrest across Russia’s Muslim-populated Caucasus. In a very real sense it represents Russia’s nightmare scenario of “Syria coming to Russia.” It demonstrates dramatically why Putin has made such a determined effort to stop a descent into a murderous hell in Syria.
Salafism and the CIA
The existence of the so-called jihadist Salafi brand of Islam in Dagestan is quite recent. It has also been deliberately imported. Salafism is sometimes also called the name of the older Saudi-centered Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a minority originally-Bedouin form of the faith originating within Islam, dominant in Saudi Arabia since the 1700’s.
Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism give the following description of Saudi conditions under the rigid Wahhabi brand of Islam:
“Women living under Saudi rule must wear the abaya, or total body cloak, and niqab, the face veil; they have limited opportunities for schooling and careers; they are prohibited from driving vehicles; are banned from social contact with men not relatives, and all personal activity must be supervised including opening bank accounts, by a male family member or “guardian.” These Wahhabi rules are enforced by a mutawiyin, or morals militia, also known as “the religious police,” officially designated the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) who patrol Saudi cities, armed with leather-covered sticks which they freely used against those they considered wayward. They raid homes looking for alcohol and drugs, and harassed non-Wahhabi Muslims as well as believers in other faiths.” 
It’s widely reported that the obscenely opulent and morally-perhaps-not-entirely-of- the-highest-standards Saudi Royal Family made a Faustian deal with Wahhabite leaders. The deal supposedly, was that the Wahhabists are free to export their fanatical brand of Islam around to the Islamic populations of the world in return for agreeing to leave the Saudi Royals alone. There are, however, other dark and dirty spoons stirring the Wahhabite-Salafist Saudi stew.
Little known is the fact that the present form of aggressive Saudi Wahhabism, in reality a kind of fusion between imported jihadi Salafists from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabites. Leading Salafist members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were introduced into the Saudi Kingdom in the 1950’s by the CIA in a complex series of events, when Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood following an assassination attempt. By the 1960’s an influx of Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia fleeing Nasserite repression, had filled many of the leading teaching posts in Saudi religious schools. One student there was a young well-to-do Saudi, Osama bin Laden. 
During the Third Reich, Hitler Germany had supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a weapon against the British in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Marc Erikson describes the Nazi roots of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood thus:
…as Italian and German fascism sought greater stakes in the Middle East in the 1930s and ’40s to counter British and French controlling power, close collaboration between fascist agents and Islamist leaders ensued. During the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, sent agents and money to support the Palestine uprising against the British, as did Muslim Brotherhood founder and “supreme guide” Hassan al-Banna. A key individual in the fascist-Islamist nexus and go-between for the Nazis and al-Banna became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini.
After the defeat of Germany, British Intelligence moved in to take over control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ultimately, for financial and other reasons, the British decided to hand their assets within the Muslim Brotherhood over to their CIA colleagues in the 1950s. 
According to former US Justice Department Nazi researcher John Loftus, “during the 1950s, the CIA evacuated the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia. Now, when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, some of the leading lights of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Dr Abdullah Azzam, became the teachers in the madrassas, the religious schools. And there they combined the doctrines of Nazism with this weird Islamic cult, Wahhabism.” 
“Everyone thinks that Islam is this fanatical religion, but it is not,” Loftus continues. “They think that Islam–the Saudi version of Islam–is typical, but it’s not. The Wahhabi cult has been condemned as a heresy more than 60 times by the Muslim nations. But when the Saudis got wealthy, they bought a lot of silence. This is a very harsh cult. Wahhabism was only practised by the Taliban and in Saudi Arabia–that’s how extreme it is. It really has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion. It always had good relationships with the Jews for the first thousand years of its existence.” 
Loftus identified the significance of what today is emerging from the shadows to take over Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, and the so-called Syrian National Council, dominated in reality by the Muslim Brotherhood and publicly led by the more “politically correct” or presentable likes of Bassma Kodmani. Kodmani, foreign affairs spokesman for the SNC was twice an invited guest at the Bilderberg elite gathering, latest in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this year.
The most bizarre and alarming feature of the US-financed regime changes set into motion in 2010, which have led to the destruction of the secular Arab regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the secular regime of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, and which have wreaked savage destruction across the Middle East, especially in the past eighteen months in Syria, is the pattern of emerging power grabs by representatives of the murky Salafist Muslim Brotherhood.
By informed accounts, a Saudi-financed Sunni Islamic Muslim Brotherhood dominates the members of the exile Syrian National Council that is backed by the US State Department’s Secretary Clinton and by Hollande’s France. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is tied, not surprisingly to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohammed Morsi who recently in a meeting of the Non-Aligned in Iran called openly for the removal of Syria’s Assad, a logical step if his Muslim Brothers in the present Syrian National Council are to take the reins of power. The Saudis are also rumored to have financed the ascent to power in Tunisia of the governing Islamist Ennahda Party, and are documented to be financing the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council against President Bashar al-Assad. 
Part III: Morsi’s Reign of Salafi Terror
Indicative of the true agenda of this Muslim Brotherhood and related jihadists today is the fact that once they have power, they drop the veil of moderation and reconciliation and reveal their violently intolerant roots. This is visible in Egypt today under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.
Unreported in mainstream Western media to date are alarming direct reports from Christian missionary organizations in Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already begun to drop the veil of “moderation and conciliation” and show its brutal totalitarian Salafist colors, much as Khomeini’s radical Sharia forces did in Iran after taking control in 1979-81.
In a letter distributed by the Christian Aid Mission (CAM), a Christian Egyptian missionary wrote that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood “announced they would destroy the country if Morsi didn’t win, but they also said they will take revenge from all those who voted for [his opponent Ahmed] Shafiq, especially the Christians as they are sure we did vote for Shafiq. Yesterday they began by killing two believers in el Sharqiya because of this,” the missionary added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
This report came only weeks after Egyptian State TV (under Morsi’s control) showed ghastly video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being murdered by Muslims. The footage showed a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. As one man was heard chanting Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity, another man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat began to cut, slowly severing the head amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”), according to transcripts. In the letter, the Egyptian missionary leader added that, “soon after Morsi won, Christians in upper Egypt were forcibly prevented from going to churches.” Many Muslims, the letter claimed, “also began to speak to women in the streets that they had to wear Islamic clothing including the head covering. They act as if they got the country for their own, it’s theirs now.” 
Already in 2011 Morsi’s Salafist followers began attacking and destroying Sufi mosques across Egypt. According to the authoritative newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (Today’s Egyptian), 16 historic mosques in Alexandria belonging to Sufi orders have been marked for destruction by so-called ‘Salafis’. Alexandria has 40 mosques associated with Sufis, and is the headquarters for 36 Sufi groups. Half a million Sufis live in the city, out of a municipal total of four million people. Aggression against the Sufis in Egypt has included a raid on Alexandria’s most distinguished mosque, named for, and housing, the tomb of the 13th century Sufi Al-Mursi Abu’l Abbas.
Notably, the so-called “democratically elected” regime in Libya following the toppling of Mohamar Qaddafi by NATO bombs in 2011, has also been zealous in destroying Sufi mosques and places of worhip. In August this year, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed “grave concern” at the destruction by Islamic Jihadists of Sufi sites in Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli and urged perpetrators to “cease the destruction immediately.”  Under behind-the-scenes machinations the Libyan government is dominated by Jihadists and by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, as in Tunisia and Egypt. 
The explosive cocktail of violence inherent in allowing the rise to power of Salafist Islamists across the Middle East was clear to see, symbolically enough on the night of September 11,th when a mob of angry supporters of the fanatical Salafist group, Ansar Al-Sharia, murdered the US Ambassador to Libya and three US diplomats, burning the US Consulate in Bengazi to the ground in protest over a YouTube release of a film by an American filmmaker showing the Prophet Mohammed indulging in multiple sex affairs and casting doubt on his role as God’s messenger. Ironically that US Ambassador had played a key role in toppling Qaddafi and opening the door to the Salafist takeover in Libya. At the same time angry mobs of thousands of Salafists surrounded the US Embassy in Cairo in protest to the US film. 
Ansar Al-Sharia (“Partisans of Islamic law” in Arabic) reportedly is a spinoff of Al-Qaeda and claims organizations across the Middle East from Yemen to Tunisia to Iraq, Egypt and Libya. Ansar al-Sharia says it is reproducing the model of Sharia or strict Islamic law espoused by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. The core of the group are jihadists who came out of an “Islamic state”, either in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, or among jihadists in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.
The deliberate detonation now of a new round of Salafist fundamentalist Jihad terror inside Muslim regions of the Russian Caucasus is exquisitely timed politically to put maximum pressure at home on the government of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Putin and the Russian Government are the strongest and most essential backer of the current Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and for Russia as well the maintenance of Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base at Syria’s Tartus port is vital strategically. At the same time, Obama’s sly message to Medvedev to wait until Obama’s re-election to evaluate US intent towards Russia and Putin’s cryptic recent comment that a compromise with a re-elected President Obama might be possible, but not with a President Romney,  indicate that the Washington “stick-and-carrot” or hard cop-soft cop tactics with Moscow might tempt Russia to sacrifice major geopolitical alliances, perhaps even that special close and recent geopolitical alliance with China. Were that to happen, the World might witness a “reset” in US-Russian relations with catastrophic consequences for world peace.
F. William Engdahl* is the author ofFull Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order
 Dan Peleschuk, Sheikh Murdered Over Religious Split Say Analysts, RIA Novosti, August 30, 2012, accessed in
 UN Security Council, QI.U.290.11. DOKU KHAMATOVICH UMAROV, 10 March 2011, accessed in http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI29011E.shtml. The UN statement reads: “Doku Khamatovich Umarov was listed on 10 March 2011 pursuant to paragraph 2 of resolution 1904 (2009) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “recruiting for”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” and “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” the Islamic Jihad Group (QE.I.119.05), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QE.I.10.01), Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03) and Emarat Kavkaz (QE.E.131.11).”
 David M. Herszenhorn, Putin Says Missile Deal Is More Likely With Obama, The New York Times, September 6, 2012, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/world/europe/putin-calls-missile-deal-more-likely-if-obama-wins.html. According to an interview Putin gave on Moscow’s state-owned RT TV, Herszenhorn reports, “Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed. On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true.
“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama. “For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”
Citizens across the globe are feeling the blade of austerity measures and corporate greed as they lose their jobs and their wages are reduced. Families worldwide are under increasing pressure as social services such as education are being eroded. We face an age of economic transformation, where the poor are becoming poorer and the rich are becoming richer. The middle class is shrinking and under increasing attack, too.
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A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:
“…there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France — the representative of Western power in the region — as a prime target for attack.”
What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya – providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.
As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:
Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.
“Crucially, still in 2007, then al-Qaeda’s number two, Zawahiri, officially announced the merger between the LIFG and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). So, for all practical purposes, since then, LIFG/AQIM have been one and the same – and Belhaj was/is its emir. “
“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.
Image: NATO’s intervention in Libya has resurrected listed-terrorist organization and Al Qaeda affiliate, LIFG. It had previously fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has fighters, cash and weapons, all courtesy of NATO, spreading as far west as Mali, and as far east as Syria. The feared “global Caliphate” Neo-Cons have been scaring Western children with for a decade is now taking shape via US-Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari machinations, not “Islam.” In fact, real Muslims have paid the highest price in fighting this real “war against Western-funded terrorism.”
LIFG, which with French arms, cash, and diplomatic support, is now invading northern Syria on behalf of NATO’s attempted regime change there, officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007 according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). According to the CTC, AQIM and LIFG share not only ideological goals, but strategic and even tactical objectives. The weapons LIFG received most certainly made their way into the hands of AQIM on their way through the porous borders of the Sahara Desert and into northern Mali.
A leading member of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group indicated the organization may have acquired some of the thousands of powerful weapons that went missing in the chaos of the Libyan uprising, stoking long-held fears of Western officials.”We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of the north Africa-based al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM], told the Mauritanian news agency ANI Wednesday. “As for our benefiting from the [Libyan] weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.”
It is no coincidence that as the Libyan conflict was drawing to a conclusion, conflict erupted in northern Mali. It is part of a premeditated geopolitical reordering that began with toppling Libya, and since then, using it as a springboard for invading other targeted nations, including Mali, Algeria, and Syria with heavily armed, NATO-funded and aided terrorists.
French involvement may drive AQIM and its affiliates out of northern Mali, but they are almost sure to end up in Algeria, most likely by design.
Algeria was able to balk subversion during the early phases of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011, but it surely has not escaped the attention of the West who is in the midst of transforming a region stretching from Africa to Beijing and Moscow’s doorsteps – and in a fit of geopolitical schizophrenia – using terrorists both as a casus belli to invade and as an inexhaustible mercenary force to do it.
Internal documents obtained by the Japan Times offer evidence that the contamination of local drinking water sources near a massive U.S. airbase in Japan is the result of years of repeated mishaps and “lax safety standards” by U.S. military forces.
Canada is selling weapons to a country which is supporting and sponsoring terrorist organizations. Moreover Saudi Arabia is currently involved in a war of aggression against Yemen in blatant derogation of international law.
Image: A P-3 Orion lands on the airstrip at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. (Photo: US Navy via flickr/cc)
Internal documents obtained by the Japan Times offer evidence that the contamination of local drinking water sources near a massive U.S. airbase in Japan is the result of years of repeated mishaps and “lax safety standards” by U.S. military forces.
The reports, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, “expose a spate of accidents at the [Kadena Air Base in Okinawa] during the past 15 years that have involved at least 21,000 liters of fire extinguishing agents—some of them toxic.”
The reporting cites several such instances, including a three-day period in 2001 when 17,000 liters of fire extinguishing agents were released and “attributed by base officials to mechanical and electronic malfunctions.”
It also cites an incident in 2015 when “a drunk U.S. Marine activated a firefighting system. It filled a hangar with more than 1,500 liters of JET-X 2.75 percent—a foam classified by the U.S. government as hazardous. It contains chemicals known to cause cancer, and neurological and reproductive disorders.” That foam made its way to local waterways, but the base did not notify Japanese authorities.
The U.S. Pacific Air Forces issued a statement in January that—despite the detection of toxic substance in the drinking water sources— the water was safe because it is adequately treated before consumer use.
“The base continues to comply with current Japanese Environmental Governing Standards [JEGS], which are equivalent to the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act that is enforced by the [Environmental Protection Agency]. Be assured that your drinking water is safe,”
Stars and Stripes reports the statement as saying.
The newly obtained documents, the Japan Times reports, highlight the flaws in the JEGS:
While JEGS requires the U.S. military to notify the Japanese government immediately when “a significant spill . . . threatens the local Japanese drinking water resource,” the decision on whether to categorize a spill as ‘significant’ is often left to the discretion of the U.S. military.”
the Kadena Air Base occupies over 80 percent of Kadena town and includes a 6,000-acre ammunition storage area.
The enormous base, built on land seized after World War II, contains the Air Force’s largest combat air wing, with two squadrons of F-15 fighters and an array of military aircraft that includes fighter jets, transport planes, refueling aircraft, helicopters, Ospreys, reconnaissance aircraft and anti-submarine patrol planes. According to the U.S. military, it is the “hub of airpower in the Pacific,” home to more than 9,000 U.S. service members and their families and contributes an estimated $700 million annually to the local economy.
The military lauds Kadena for promoting “regional peace and stability,” but many Okinawans see the base as a source of constant noise, pollution and tension.
The Washington Postreports this week on the ongoing protests that locals are staging to stop the planned expansion of a U.S. Marine Corps base on Okinawa, and notes that “the roar of jets” from the Kadena base “is constant and deafening.”
After a day of “rock solid” Lehman-isms, emergency bond buyback plans, and a stock price still unable to close green, Deutsche Bank is on the ropes (despite CNBC proclaiming that “it doesn’t feel like a Lehman moment.”) However, as dawn breaks across the motherland, something more insidious is breaking for Germany’s largest bank. Deutsche faces an uphill task rescuing its stock from record lows, especially, as Reuters reports, a top 10 shareholder exclaims “investors have completely lost faith in the bank,” and a fast recovery from this crisis was unlikely.
Given the way the credit market is trading, perhaps ‘the major shareholder’ has a point…
As Reuters details, Germany’s flagship lender has trailed its rivals in bouncing back from the 2008 financial crisis, hamstrung by having to pay out billions of dollars in fines to end a string of legal disputes and ageing technical infrastructure.
It is the last of the major European banks to embark on a painful restructuring of its bloated investment bank, in the face of tougher regulation that reduced profitability, and the cost of that overhaul contributed to it posting its biggest annual loss on record last month.
Shareholders are worried about the ability of management to execute a two-year turnaround plan, announced last October, against the backdrop of a deteriorating global economic outlook and negative interest rates.
“Investors have completely lost their faith in the bank,” a top 10 shareholder told Reuters, adding that a fast recovery in the share price was unlikely given the magnitude of the problems weighing on the company.
Several investors told Reuters they feared Deutsche would need to tap markets for more capital - despite raising a total of nearly 20 billion euros (16 billion pounds) from investors in 2010 and 2014 – to deal with regulatory and legal issues.
“We believe that Deutsche Bank has a capital shortfall of up to 7 billion euros, depending on the outcome of a range of litigation issues, which could necessitate a highly dilutive capital increase,” Citi analysts wrote in a note last week.
Sseveral investors said they felt time was running out for the bank to show successes – such as returning to profit or stabilizing its share price – after other large lenders had moved on and closed the chapter of financial crisis.
“There’s no benefit of the doubt,” another top 10 investor said, adding currently investors were voting with their feet. “Two years (as planned by Cryan for the revamp) is a long time. There’s no margin for error.”
Questions are also being raised about the quality of the bank’s supervisory board.
“We miss competence in financials on the supervisory board,” said the first top 10 shareholder, adding that support for Chairman Paul Achleitner was also waning and a new face was needed for a fresh start for the bank.
“However, at this stage, there’s no obvious candidate to succeed him, so he will likely be kept in charge until the end of his mandate in May 2017,” the shareholder said.
Of course there is always the “government put” but in this case – with Europe’s new bail-in “reforms” DB co-CEO Cryan’s hopes that “the government would intervene,” could well leave everyone from equity to depositors taking and haircut (to zero in the former case).
Recognize the problem. It is not oil, it is not in the banks..it is a run on central bank liquidity, especially dollar based and there needs to be much more ($) liquidity. Keynes said to deal with overinvestment boom you cut you don’t raise rates. QE is impractical but getting the dollar down would greatly lift dollar based liquidity. So for a starter Fed shd stop raising rates and clearly signal an extended time out.
Draghi shd follow up with a one 2 punch, not to get rates down but open the refi spigot to banks and ease liquidity concerns.
China needs to come clean. Devalue, stabilize reserves and then allocate 1 tn+ to short up strategically important institutions. Stop intervening in equity markets.
And Basel 3 (?4) should be delayed specifically regarding leverage ratios and threat of higher. As a token move there shd be deemphasis of the SSM/bail in rules until there is clarity from the ECB on liquidity sources for stressed banks.
how about some fiscal stimulus
on negative rates – instead of making them punitive on the banks allow the banks to earn the spread, make them punitive to savers.. Cash shd be charged interest – put the micro chip in large denom notes/tax cash withdrawals.. encourage spending not saving .. mortgage rates can be negative and banks can still earn a spread. The spread is the problem not the rate.
The existential fear in Deutsche Bank’s analyst is tangible, as is the implied threat: “don’t do these things, and if Deutsche Bank and its $60 trillion in derivatives blow up, it will be on you.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom recently suggested an inquiry into a surge in Israel’s reported extra-judicial killing of Palestinian demonstrators after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a harsh response and told his police and soldiers that those opposed to the continued occupation of the West Bank were “terrorists.”
Almost immediately, the Israeli government denounced Wallstrom as engaging in “political stupidity,” banning her from travel to Israel, while one newspaper close to the government suggested that she might be assassinated, as fellow Swede Count Folke Bernadotte was by Jewish militants in 1948, because anti-Semitism appears to be in the Swedish DNA.
All of that outrage and personal ridicule is pro forma for an Israeli government that reflexively smears and denigrates any and all critics, but the more interesting epilogue was the unanticipated discovery by the Swedish and international media that Wallstrom has not been paying the full rent on the subsidized government apartment that she occupies. The revelation follows a familiar pattern, where critics of Israel suddenly find themselves being discredited for something completely unrelated to the Middle East. President George H. W. Bush (the good Bush) suffered a similar come to Jesus moment in 1991 when he went on national television to denounce the pressure tactics of the Israel lobby.
The Israeli government was demanding U.S. Treasury backed loans to construct illegal settlements. President Bush, who was running for reelection and far ahead in the opinion polls, suddenly was confronted by a well-funded and organized opposition raising doubts about him and his record. And President Bush was not reelected, presumably learning along the way that one does not trifle with the Israel Lobby, to be replaced by the enthusiastically Zionist Bill Clinton.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also wondering about Israel’s alleged commitment to peace. On Tuesday he said “it was human nature to react to occupation,” following up with a comment on Wednesday regarding Israel’s “stifling” occupation of Palestine. Netanyahu reacted with his usual over the top rhetoric, stating that Ban “was encouraging terror.” One might also anticipate, as in the case of Wallstrom, a well-orchestrated media blitz questioning Ban’s motives or explaining how he has always been a closet anti-Semite. It is par for the course and fully expected when one criticizes Israel.
Indeed, it is a global phenomenon. Wherever one goes – Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – there is a well-organized and funded lobby ready, willing and able to go to war to protect Israel. Most of the organizations involved take at least some direction from officials in Tel Aviv. Many of them even cooperate fully with the Israeli government, its parastatal organizations and faux-NGOs like the lawfare center Shurat HaDin. Their goal is to spread propaganda and influence the public in their respective countries of residence to either hew to the line coming out of Tel Aviv or to confuse the narrative and stifle debate when potential Israeli crimes are being discussed.
Israel’s diaspora allies are backed up by a formidable government organized machine that spews out disinformation and muddies the waters whenever critics surface. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has a corps of paid “volunteers” who monitor websites worldwide and take remedial action and there is a similar group working out of the Prime Minister’s office. That is why any negative story appearing in the U.S. about Israel is immediately inundated with pro-Israel comments, many of which make exactly the same coordinated points while exhibiting the same somewhat less than perfect English. On sites like Yahoo they are actually able to suppress unwelcome comments by flooding the site with “Dislike” responses. If a comment receives a large number of dislikes, it is automatically blocked or removed.
The sayanim, local Jews in their countries of residence, are essential to this process, having been alerted by emails from the Israeli Foreign Ministry about what to do and say. The reality is that Israel has lost the war of public opinion based on its own actions, which are becoming more and more repressive and even inhumane and so are difficult to explain. That means that the narrative has to be shifted by Israel’s friends through subterfuge and the corruption of the information process in each country. In some places the key media and political players who are engaged in the process can simply be bought. In other places they can be intimidated or pressured into taking positions that are neither in their own countries’ interests nor morally acceptable. In large countries like the United States, Britain and France a combination of friendly suasion and coercive elements often come together.
In all cases, the objective is the same: to repress or misrepresent any criticism of Israel and to block any initiatives that might be taken that would do damage either to the Israeli economy or to the country’s perceived standing in the world. In some countries Israel’s advocates work right out in the open and are highly successful in implementing policies that often remain largely hidden but that can be discerned as long as one knows what to look for.
Recent Israel Lobby activity in the United States has included legislation at state levels to make illegal divestment from Israel or to promote boycott of Israeli products. A trade pact with Europe will reportedly include language requiring the United States to take retaliatory action if any European country tries to boycott Israel, to include the West Bank settlements, which the empowering legislation regards as part of Israel proper.
Israel is also working to create a mechanism for global censorship of the internet to ban “incitement,” which clearly is a euphemism for material that is critical of its policies. Recently Facebook has begun to delete from its site any “hate speech” and “terrorism” related material but what has not been widely noted is that the apparent restrictions also have involved sites critical of Israel including Christians United for Peace.
Many prominent critics of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) are unaware that AIPAC exists in various forms in a number of other countries. BICOM , the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is located in London. The French equivalent is the Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF). In Canada there is a Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) , in Australia a Zionist Federation of Australia and in New Zealand a Zionist Federation of New Zealand.
While AIPAC is specifically focused on the U.S.-Israel relationship, its counterparts in Europe often deal with a whole range of issues that they define as Jewish, but protecting Israel is always part of their agenda, particularly for those groups that label themselves as Zionist. The political power and financial muscle of the groups gives them access to government far beyond the actual numbers of their supporters. In France this has led to the legislation of hate crimes that de facto exist to protect Jews that have been also been interpreted as limitations on one’s ability to criticize Israel. In its most recent test, a French court declared that a peaceful protest promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) directed against Israel was illegal.
Many believe that France now has less free speech than any other European country. Recently, the alleged humor magazine Charlie Hebdo, ran a revolting cartoon showing the little Syrian boy Alan Kurdi who drowned in Turkey last summer as all grown up and sexually assaulting a woman in Germany. There was considerable outrage throughout the world but no sign that the French government will do anything to prosecute the magazines since it was Muslims who were being ridiculed. Charlie Hebdo frequently insults Muslims (and also Christians) but rarely lampoons Jews.
In Britain, Jewish organizations uniquely are allowed to patrol heavily Jewish neighborhoods in police-like uniforms while driving police type vehicles and there have been reports of their threatening Muslims who enter the areas. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, which is responsive to a Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, has also done its part to create official barriers to any spread of the BDS movement. It is proposing legislation that will enable it to overrule decisions by local government councils that seek to cut business or investment ties with Israel and, more particularly, Israeli settlements, under the pretext that such action interferes with the conduct of foreign affairs. The British government is also considering its own brand of hate speech legislation, banning from social media any commentary that is considered to be anti-Semitic, which will almost certainly extend to criticism of Israel.
Canada’s government has also threatened to use hate speech laws to block criticism of Israel and forbid BDS related activity. Australia meanwhile, has ceased referring to east Jerusalem as “occupied” and is apparently leaning towards similar “non-pejorative” language relating to the militarized occupation of the West Bank, preferring the neocon favored dodge “disputed.” New Zealand has proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that specifically demands that participants “refrain from referring a situation…to the International Criminal Court,” which would effectively decriminalize war crimes committed by both sides during the two recent invasions of Gaza. As a United Nations investigation determined that Israel was disproportionately responsible for what did occur, the proposal eliminates accountability and is effectively a get out of jail free card for some Israeli government officials.
And so it goes. Criticize Israel and there will be a comeuppance by virtue of a highly developed international system that relies on government direction as well as volunteer supporters who are able to shape both the media message and the political response. Accepting that as a given, I suppose one should be proud of being called an anti-Semite every time the label is misapplied to stifle dissent, but it all sadly reflects a lowering of the discussion to a dirt level. This might just be because there is no justification for Israeli behavior. The fact is that in terms of systematic human rights violations Israel is something beyond an apartheid state, frequently engaging in open racism and, in the opinion of many observers, crimes against humanity. It is furthermore a persistent source of instability in the Middle East and even beyond.
Israel is a liability to the United States and to the European nations that it has successfully manipulated into acquiescence regarding its bad behavior. When AIPAC and its overseas clones act for Israel the host nations in which these organizations exist should recognize exactly what is taking place. If Israel is truly first in their hearts and minds that is perfectly acceptable but its advocates should perhaps consider moving there and letting the rest of us be. Would that be too much to ask?
The military balance in Northern Syria is shifting rapidly. The Syrian Army and local militias supported by the Russian Air Force have cut terrorists from major supply lines from Turkey and almost encircled the militant forces in the Aleppo city. This has become possible due to the actions of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces which have been destroying the terrorists’ sources of funding since 2015. Thus, we could observe a breakdown on the battlefield which leads to a full collapse of the terrorists forces in Syria step by step. This also dished schemes of the foreign players interested in overthrowing of the Assad government.
In the contemporary situation the Erdogan’s regime acts as a main sponsor and creator of a terrorist threat in the Middle East. Turkey is a crucial part of terrorist logistics network which allows terrorist groups in Syria to receive arms supplies and reinforcements. The Turkish elites have a strong business ties predominantly oil smuggling with ISIS and other terrorists in Syria. The Erdogan’s imperial ambitions in the Middle East also plays an important role in the conflict. Erdogan believes that a breakdown of Syria will allow him to set a protectorate or even occupy the northern part of the Arab country.
The successes of anti-terrorist forces in Syria have destroyed a hope to realize these plans easily. Considering this, the Erdogan’s regime launched preparations for a direct intervention to the country without any legal mandate. A high-level of concentration of the Turkish military are already observed in the Syrian-Turkish border by civil and military sources. Furthermore, there are irresistible videos proofs that Turkey has been conducting a series of cross-border artillery shelling violating the Syrian sovereignty.
Experts suggest Turkey is ready to deploy some 18,000 troops with substantial artillery and air support to occupy a 30-kilometer deep territory across the border running from the city of Jarabulus westward to the city of Azaz. The operation would cover an area under ISIS control, and it would provide a direct military assistance to terrorists and facilitate establishing of a buffer zone for the vestiges of their forces in Northern Syria. It would drastically escalate the tensions with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). However, the Turkish military is fully capable of completing the first move aimed to push the SAA and the SDF from the aforementioned area and occupy a significant part of Northern Syria.
This step will likely face a hard answer of the Russian military grouping located in the country. The Russian land and navy air-defense systems and fighter jets are fully capable to neutralize the Turkish air force which will allow the Syrian government to counter-attack the Turkish intervention forces. Thus, the anti-terrorist forces will get a chance to exercise a counter-attack which will be likely supported by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces.
This situation leads to 2 main scenarios:
If the SAA with support by militia forces, Iran, and Russia isn’t able to push the Turkish military from Syria, the Erdogan’s regime will strengthen presence at the occupied territories and use gained time to receive at least air and intelligence support by NATO. In this case, the conflict could easily lead to a global war.
If the SAA supported by local militias, Iran, and Russia knock out the Turkish intervention forces from Syria, NATO will face the fact that Syria is de-facto liberated and the terrorists are cut from their main supplier. It could prevent a global escalation. However, the NATO countries would strengthen their presence in Iraq and use it as a foothold to launch further destructive actions against Syria. The situation will also become especially acute in Ukraine and in the Central Asia because a destabilization in these regions could be easily used against the Syria’s main allies: Russia and Iran.
That grand electoral ritual known as the US primaries has commenced. New Hampshire features, and on this occasion, customary uglies (Hillary Clinton) battle such new aspirants as Bernie Sanders, who has been deemed by Real Clear Politics to have a 53.3 percent lead to Clinton’s 40.5 percent. Donald Trump also does battle with his counterparts, hoping to pull ahead of the GOP field.
Politics is not a science, contrary to the entire legions of individuals who have made tenured careers out of that misguided assumption. Pollsters and many pundits, like the politicians they predict to win, ought to disappear with them in loss. But New Hampshire has been deemed an important feature of the US presidential system, if for no other reason it is the first in line.
That it has such a disproportionate measure of importance can be gathered from its population, a mere 1.3 million people, and demographic make-up. A combination of accident and invention have served to push up this small state’s importance. Weather proved to be that greatest of factors, held before the thaw had turned ice into mud.
Initially, the New Hampshire primary remained a fairly insignificant affair, hardly one to work a discomforting sweat over. New Hampshire delegates were part of a dull, seemingly inevitable procedure, sending their respective GOP and Democratic delegates to the national conventions. They did not vote directly for the presidential candidates by name, a process which changed in 1952 when Republican governor Sherman Adams instituted a presidential primary for a direct vote for the favoured candidate.
The Adams move was largely prompted by an obvious biast towards then candidate General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower’s victory was something of a defeat for the broader primary election process. But it brought Adams directly into the White House, becoming Eisenhower’s chief assistant in directing the daily operations of his administration.
His role was so formidable, it prompted a popular, if somewhat uncharitable standing joke: “What if Adams should die and Eisenhower becomes President of the United States?” Only the Vicuna Coat Affair, in which Adams accepted one such coat from a longtime friend Bernard Goldfine, tarnished the lustre of administrative supremacy.
The Democrats were caught off guard by this act of political creativeness. Harry S. Truman decided to treat it with contempt. The US Senator from Tennessee, Estes Kefauver, did no such thing and won against the incumbent president with some fanfare, making maximum photo mileage out of his victory. Truman’s refusal to campaign for what he regarded as a formality with little consequence saw him lose eight out of ten counties.
For all of that, Kefauver, provided something of an object lesson on enthusiasm in primaries, using it as a staging ground to win favourable delegates and obtain the maximum coverage for his positions. He chalked up more victories than not, losing only in Florida to Senator Richard Russell of Georgia and Averell Harriman in the District of Colombia. The Democratic Party machinery was stunned, and in the finest traditions of the Republic, did not let that popularity get in the way of their man, Adlai Stevenson.
For such curious reasons of electoral jockeying, New Hampshire’s electors have been described in various circles as the aristocrats of the electoral process. White picket candy and the media hunt for attractive backdrops assist. This is neat, settled America, reassured, comfortable and 94 percent white. And averse to raising taxes.
Conor Friedersdorf, writing in The Atlantic, suggests that, “The stereotypical Granite State dweller is a flinty, independent-minded Yankee.” Michael Barone, in a piece for the conservative American Enterprise Institute, detects the historical hand of Benning Wentworth, the governor of Hampshire from 1741 to 1766. The Wentworths would subsequently ensure the insulation of New Hampshire “from Massachusetts’s Puritan busybodies – and from its customs and tax collectors.”
This betrays, if nothing else, an innate conservatism in the US political system, one that is designed in rooting out those with direct ties to that great phantasm of speculative governance known as “the people”. The very language of sifting, sorting and ultimately restricting, is inherent in the electoral process, be it the convention delegates themselves, or the ultimate constitution of the Electoral College. The popular demagogues are supposedly zapped by that point.
This is sold otherwise, with primaries treated by some political commentators as the people’s democratic toffee. Individuals such as Robert Longley write about the value primaries in the manner of a folksy meeting. “During the primaries… voters get to hear from several Republican and Democratic candidates, plus the candidates of third parties.” Then, the next jaw-dropping suggestion that the process “provides a nationwide stage for the free and open exchange of all ideas and opinions – the foundation of the American form of participatory democracy.”
The froth and distillation of the US primary process ensures that such ideas and suggestions are far from free and certainly questionable on their openness. (Habituated, noisy lunacy and reactionary stances should not be confused with the same.) Fittingly, this process of scrutiny and entrenched distortion begins in New Hampshire, a place resident satirist P.J. O’Rourke would admit was “frankly, short on people who are black, gay, Jewish and Hispanic.”
Whether this process yields the surprises some members of the electorate crave, the more likely result is that tradition – one created and consistently re-enforced – will hold. New Hampshire politicians have certainly been determined to maintain that primacy – whatever other states will do regarding the process, that state will always have first digs at deciding who eventually gets to the conventions. In an unequal process, they are the first ones to exaggerate that principle.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
Last week’s game-changing triumph in northern Syria has moved the Russian-led coalition to within striking distance of a decisive victory in Aleppo. After breaking a 40 month-long siege on the cities of Nubl and Zahra, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has encircled the country’s industrial hub and is gradually tightening the noose. Crucial supply-lines to the north have been cut leaving the Sunni extremists and anti-government militias stranded inside a vast, urban cauldron. It’s only a matter of time before these disparate renegades are either killed or forced to surrender. A victory in Aleppo will change the course of the war by restoring government control over the densely-populated western corridor. This is why the Obama administration is frantically searching for ways to either delay or derail the Russian-led juggernaut and avoid the impending collapse of US policy in Syria.
Recent peace talks in Geneva were convened with one goal in mind, to prevent Syrian President Bashar al Assad and loyalist forces from retaking Aleppo. The negotiations failed, however, when Washington’s mercurial allies, the so called “moderate” rebels, refused to participate. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Syrian opposition withdrew “under pressure from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two of the main backers of the rebels.” The WSJ’s admission was later confirmed by Secretary of State John Kerry who according to a report in the Middle East Eye “blamed the Syrian opposition for leaving the talks and paving the way for a joint offensive by the Syrian government and Russia on Aleppo.”
“Don’t blame me,” Kerry said, “Blame the opposition. It was the opposition that didn’t want to negotiate and didn’t want a ceasefire, and they walked away.”
None of this will surprise readers who followed the talks closely. The meetings were surrounded by confusion from the very onset. The US delegation headed by Kerry was focused entirely on reaching an agreement that would involve a ceasefire and stop the government-led onslaught. The Saudis, Turks and opposition leaders, however, were on a different page altogether. They seemed oblivious to the dire situation on the ground where their jihadist foot soldiers were taking heavier losses by the day. Kerry, the realist, was looking for a way to stand-down and save US-backed militants from certain annihilation. But the Saudis and Turks felt they had a strong-enough hand to make demands. The clash in viewpoints was bound to produce disappointing results, which it did. The meetings were cancelled before they even began. Nothing was settled. Here’s more from the WSJ:
“About a half-dozen cities and towns targeted in the new regime offensives have one thing in common: All were held by a mix of Islamist and moderate rebel groups funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Complicating the picture is that some, but not all, of these groups collaborate with the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. That gives the regime and its allies fodder for their claim that they are fighting terrorism.”
This should dispel any illusion that that the fighters that are trying to topple the government are merely disgruntled nationalists determined to remove an “evil dictator”. That is not the case at all. While there are a fair amount of indigenous insurgents, the bulk of fighters are Sunni extremists bent on removing Assad and creating an Islamic Caliphate. This is why Moscow refused to implement a ceasefire during the talks in Geneva. Russia adamantly opposes any remedy that allows internationally-recognized terrorists from escaping their eternal reward.
Kerry has deliberately misled the public on this matter. Just last week, he said, “Russia has indicated to me very directly they are prepared to do a ceasefire… The Iranians confirmed in London just a day and a half ago they will support a ceasefire now.”
This is false and Kerry knows it. Moscow has tried to be flexible about other so called “moderate” opposition forces, but when it comes to ISIS, Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), Jaysh Al-Mujahiddeen, Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Russian leaders have repeatedly said that that they will not relent until the jihadists are either killed or captured. This is why Russia’s airstrikes continued during Geneva, because most of the fighters in Aleppo are dyed-in-the-wool terrorists.
It’s worth noting that the Russian-led military offensive clearly hews to UN resolution 2254 which states:
… for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terroristgroups, […] and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement.” (Thanks to Moon of Alabama)
In other words, Moscow is not going to comply with any ceasefire that spares homicidal jihadists or undermines UN resolution 2254. Russian military operations are going to continue until ISIS, al Nusra and the other terrorist militias are defeated.
Even so, Kerry has not abandoned the diplomatic track. In fact, Kerry plans to meet Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergei Lavrov in Munich on February 11 for a meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to discuss “all the aspects of the Syrian settlement in line with the UN Security Council resolution 2254.”
The emergency meeting underscores the Obama’s administration’s utter desperation in the face of the inexorable Russian-led military offensive. It’s clear now that Obama and his lieutenants see the handwriting on the wall and realize that their sinister plan to use proxy armies to remove Assad and splinter the country into three powerless regions is doomed to fail. Here’s how the ISW summed it up on the Sic Semper Tyrannis website:
“Battlefield realities rather than great power politics will determine the ultimate terms of a settlement to end the Syrian Civil War. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Russia and Iran have internalized this basic principle even as Washington and other Western capitals pinned their hopes upon UN-sponsored Geneva Talks, which faltered only two days after they began on February 1, 2016. Russian airpower and Iranian manpower have brought President Assad within five miles of completing the encirclement of Aleppo City, the largest urban center in Syria and an opposition stronghold since 2012. …The full encirclement of Aleppo City would fuel a humanitarian catastrophe, shatter opposition morale, fundamentally challenge Turkish strategic ambitions, and deny the opposition its most valuable bargaining chip before the international community.” (“ISW recognizes reality in western Syria“, Institute for the Study of War (ISW)
Last week’s fighting in northern Aleppo has transformed the battlespace and shifted the momentum in favor of the government, but it has not yet dampened support for the jihadists in places like Ankara or Riyadh. In fact, the Saudis have offered to deploy ground troops to Syria provided they are put under US command. As for Turkey, according to The Hill: “Moscow’s Defense Ministry (has) accused Turkey of planning a military invasion of Syria.” Here’s more from the same article:
“The Russian Defence Ministry registers a growing number of signs of hidden preparation of the Turkish Armed Forces for active actions on the territory of Syria,” ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement….Russia claimed (to) have “reasonable grounds to suspect intensive preparation of Turkey for a military invasion” of Syria.” (The Hill)
Turkish officials have denied that they are preparing for an invasion, but at the same time, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has admitted that Turkey will not stay on the sidelines if it is asked to participate in a future campaign. This is from Bloomberg News:
“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country should not repeat in Syria the same mistake it made in Iraq when it turned down a U.S. request to be part of the coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein.
“We don’t want to fall into the same mistake in Syria as in Iraq,” the president said, recounting how Turkey’s parliament denied a U.S. request to use its territories for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. “It’s important to see the horizon. What’s going on in Syria can only go on for so long. At some point it has to change,” he told journalists on the return flight from a tour of Latin America, according to Hurriyet newspaper.” (“Erdogan Signals Turkey Won’t Stay Out of Syria If Asked to Join“, Bloomberg)
While it’s impossible to know whether Turkey, Saudi Arabia or the US will actually invade Syria, it’s clear by the panicky reaction to the encirclement of Aleppo, that all three countries feel their regional ambitions are more closely aligned with those of the jihadists than with the elected government in Damascus. This tacit alliance between the militants and their sponsors speaks volumes about the credibility of Washington’s fake war on terror.
Finally, in less than five months, loyalist forces aided by heavy Russian air cover, have shifted the balance of power in Syria, forced thousands of terrorist insurgents to flee their strongholds in the west, cleared the way for the return of millions of refugees and displaced civilians, and sabotaged the malign plan to reshape the country so it better serves Washington’s geopolitical interests.
The war is far from over, but it’s beginning to look like Putin’s gamble is going to pay off after all.
Featured image: Benjamin Netanyahu visited the security fence which is being constructed on Israel’s border with Jordan. (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
“For he said unto Judah: ‘Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars; the land is yet before us, because we have sought the LORD our God; we have sought Him, and He hath given us rest on every side.’ So they built and prospered.” (2 Chronicles 14:6)
Israel must surround itself with a security fence on all of its borders in order to keep out the “beasts” in the neighborhood, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. He announced the plans for constructing this barrier while touring a new security fence near Eilat which is being built along Israel’s border with Jordan.
“We are preparing a multi-year project to encircle Israel with a security fence, to defend ourselves in the Middle East as it is now, and as it is expected to be,” he said. “At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all.”
“They will say to me, ‘This is what you want, to protect the mansion?’ And the answer is yes. ‘What, we will encircle the whole country with fences and barriers?’ The answer is yes,” Netanyahu asserted.
“In the neighborhood in which we live, we need to protect ourselves against beasts.”
Plans are also being drawn up to fill in gaps in the security fence in Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu added, though the details have yet to be worked out. While a large fence is planned for the highly-populated settlement blocs of Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, and Gush Etzion, as of now, only a small section has been built.
Netanyahu tours the fence under construction every few months to monitor its progress. In recent years, Israel has built a barrier stretching for 242 kilometers (88 miles) along the Egyptian border. The barrier includes the fence, whose height is five meters, or about 16 feet, and a thin, sensitive strip used by IDF trackers to identify footprints. Another length of fence, stretching for 103 kilometers (64 miles), has gone up in the northern Golan Heights, and 500 kilometers (310 miles), of fence have been erected in Judea and Samaria.
The prime minister also made reference on his tour to another border security concern: terror tunnels. In recent weeks, Hamas’s tunnel-building efforts have escalated to the point where residents near the Gazan border say they can feel the vibrations of tunnels being dug beneath their homes. The frenzied digging has also led to five tunnel collapses in Gaza.
Netanyahu pointed out that one of the advantages of building a fence on Israel’s southern borders with Egypt and Jordan is that the areas are open, without buildings nearby which could camouflage the construction of terror tunnels.
“That is not the situation in Gaza, or potentially in Judea and Samaria,” he said. “If you weigh whether to build a fence there you have to take into consideration that they could dig tunnels underneath.”
On February 4, tens of thousands of people protested throughout New Zealand against the formal signing of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement by representatives from 12 countries. The signing follows years of secret negotiations between the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Approximately 20,000 people marched through Queen Street and thousands rallied outside the SkyCity Casino in Auckland where the deal was signed. Protesters held placards and chanted slogans denouncing the TPP as a power-grab by US-based multinational corporations.
The rallies reflected widespread opposition to the TPP in the working class. The agreement will strengthen multinational corporations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, giving them greater power to outsource jobs and attack workers’ conditions. A study published last month by Tufts University researchers estimates that intensified competition under the TPP could cost 450,000 US jobs, 75,000 Japanese jobs, 58,000 Canadian jobs and 5,000 New Zealand jobs by 2025.
Image: A section of the Wellington protest
Under the TPP, companies will be able to sue governments in special investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals, if legislation cuts into their profits. Protesters in New Zealand denounced the ISDS clauses as an attack on democracy and a means for corporations to dictate the elimination of environmental and health regulations.
Many told reporters that they were concerned the cost of medicines will increase due to stronger patent protections for pharmaceutical companies under the TPP. The agreement will also strengthen intellectual property and copyright laws, potentially restricting access to information and entertainment.
Anti-TPP protests in Chile, Peru and Malaysia in recent weeks have also attracted thousands of people. In Lima and Santiago, protesters have highlighted that the TPP will increase the power of US-based agricultural giant Monsanto to impose patents on seeds and drive up food prices and costs for local farmers.
The TPP is not a “free trade” agreement. It will create a trade and investment bloc dominated by the US and its main regional ally Japan—the world’s first and third largest economies—covering 40 percent of the global economy.
The deal is the economic front of Washington’s strategic “pivot to Asia,” aimed at rolling back China’s economic influence in the Asia-Pacific region. As Barack Obama put it, the TPP will allow “America—and not countries like China—to write the rules of the road in the 21st century.” The agreement goes hand-in-hand with the US military encirclement and preparations for war against China, which has involved strengthening military alliances with countries including Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand.
The TPP will only come into force when enabling legislation is passed by each member country. It is unclear when the deal will be passed by the US Congress. If it is not voted on by July, then its ratification will likely be delayed until after the new president takes office next year. The decision to push ahead with the signing reflects Washington’s determination to ram through the deal regardless of opposition within the US.
The selection of New Zealand to host the signing of the TPP underscores the country’s integration into Washington’s war plans, despite close economic ties with China. The government is pushing to host a permanent TPP secretariat to help implement the agreement.
Prime Minister John Key declared at the signing that the TPP “will enhance the prosperity of our people.” In reality, the agreement will only benefit sections of big business and finance capital at the expense of working people whose jobs and living standards will be sacrificed to the never-ending drive for “international competiveness.”
The New Zealand political parties and trade union bureaucracy which organised the anti-TPP protests under the nationalist slogan “It’s Our Future” have consciously sought to prevent opposition to the agreement from becoming part of a broader movement against austerity and war. While there are divisions in the ruling elite over the TPP, the entire political establishment supports NZ’s alliance with US imperialism.
The protest organisers have denounced the TPP as an attack on New Zealand’s national “sovereignty” that favoured overseas businesses at the expense of local ones. They do not speak for the working class but express the interests of less competitive sections of business that fear losing out to global rivals.
Labour Party MP Grant Robertson told a rally in Wellington that the agreement gave up “the right to make laws and policies in our interest, and that is wrong and we cannot accept that.” Green Party foreign affairs spokesman Kennedy Graham declared: “It is not in New Zealand’s interests—it’s there for global corporates, it’s not there for national citizens.”
Such statements promote the lie that New Zealand capitalists and the government are kinder than their foreign counterparts, and that their interests are the same as those of the working class. In reality, thousands of jobs have been shed from the public service and private companies, with the assistance of the trade union bureaucracy, in response to the global economic crisis. These include mass redundancies at the state-owned companies Solid Energy, NZ Post and KiwiRail.
The right-wing perspective of the organisers is underscored by the fact that the Maori Party, which represents the indigenous business elite and is a partner in the National Party-led government, has been welcomed at anti-TPP rallies alongside the Labour, Green and Mana Parties. The Maori Party has supported all the National government’s austerity measures and attacks on the working class over the past eight years. It fears that the TPP will cut across the close relationship between the government and Maori tribal-based businesses.
The anti-immigrant New Zealand First Party also had a significant presence at the protests. Along with Labour and the Mana Party, NZ First has repeatedly scapegoated Chinese immigrants and investors for New Zealand’s social crisis, including soaring housing costs. The xenophobic campaigns have served to align the country more closely with the US build-up to war. One of Labour’s main objections to the TPP is that it will prevent future governments from banning house sales to foreigners.
The Labour Party is divided over the TPP, with three former leaders—David Shearer, Phil Goff and former Prime Minister Helen Clark—supporting the deal. Current leader Andrew Little admitted to Radio Live on February 5 that Labour would seek to renegotiate aspects of the TPP but would not pull out of the agreement if it wins next year’s election.
The announcement that the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence have been assigned the leading role in the pseudo-left Syriza government’s handling of the refugee crisis is part of a deliberate and systematic expansion of the domestic role of the military in Greece.
Greece must set up “hotspots” on the islands bordering Turkey and relocation centres on the mainland by February 15, three days ahead of the European Union (EU) leaders’ summit in Brussels. Hotspots are essentially concentration camps on the EU’s external borders, where stranded refugees fleeing the war zones of the Middle East and North Africa are detained and have their fingerprints taken.
Those deemed to have a “genuine” asylum claim will be transferred to the relocation centres on the mainland, while the rest will be sent to detention centres and ultimately deported.
The demand to set up the camps is part of the three-month ultimatum issued by the European Commission to expel Greece from the Schengen Agreement for passport-free travel in Europe unless the government demonstrates that it can stop the influx of refugees fleeing the war zones of the Middle East and North Africa.
The announcement follows the recent clampdown by Greek authorities against NGOs and volunteers that are helping refugees stranded on Greek islands on the sea border with Turkey.
Details of the plans were outlined in a February 2 press conference by Defence Minister Panos Kammenos alongside his deputy, Syriza’s Dimitris Vitsas, and the chief of staff of the Greek armed forces, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.
Kammenos is the leader of the right-wing xenophobic Independent Greeks (ANEL), Syriza’s junior coalition partner. Control of the Ministry of Defence was one of the preconditions set by Kammenos last year before entering into coalition with the pseudo-left party.
Kammenos explained that army and air force engineers will assist contractors in setting up hotspots on the islands of Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros. On Lesbos where there is a hotspot already in place since October, the army will assist in expanding existing infrastructure.
Relocation centres will also be set up in two army camps on the mainland of Greece in Schisto (near Athens) and Sindos (near Thessaloniki). Once established, both centres will be administered and guarded by the army.
In 2015, over 850,000 people made the boat crossing from Turkey to Greece, with 60 percent of them going to Lesbos. More than 250 people have so far died this year attempting to make the same crossing. This includes more than 39 people who drowned on the morning of January 30 after their boat capsized between Greece and Turkey.
More than 52,000 people made the crossing in January, 35 times more than the same month last year.
The plan to allow the military to intervene in the handling of the refugee crisis is testament to how far right Syriza has travelled since it was swept to power in January 2015 on an anti-austerity mandate. Just seven months later, it betrayed this mandate, signing the most severe austerity memorandum yet with the EU in July.
Whether enforcing the EU’s reactionary agenda on the refugee crisis, or implementing austerity, Tsipras’ government is now reliant on the police and armed forces to force through its measures.
Kammenos announced that the operation—the biggest ever undertaken by the Greek Armed Forces in peacetime—will be managed by the newly established “Coordinating Organ for Managing Immigration”. This will be headed by Major General Konstantinos Floros. Floros is a Special Forces Officer who has served both as a Paratrooper and Navy Seal (OYK).
Kammenos justified Floros’ appointment stating, “The choice for a Special Forces Officer as a coordinator implies that special circumstances require special people who can make decisions quickly.”
The OYK was one of the bastions of the military junta that ruled Greece between 1967-1974. In more recent years it has developed strong links with the fascist Golden Dawn. Last year an OYK detachment shouted fascistic slogans during the annual March 25 Greek Independence Day parade in Athens.
Floros currently heads the National Operations Centre, which is located in the Ministry of Defence and is where operations are coordinated in times of war. Normally, it can only be accessed by officers with special clearance, and it is where the Coordinating Organ will be centred. According to Kammenos, civilians participating in the operation will only have access to a special designated area.
The involvement of the armed forces has been justified as the only viable way of meeting the tight deadline for setting up the hotspots and relocation centres. However, the plan announced by Kammenos goes far beyond merely assisting with construction projects, with a remit that extends in areas of civilian policy. For example, the Coordinating Organ will include:
* A transportation department, “which will monitor existing arrangements to transport refugees and migrants from the islands and hotspots to the reception centres”
* A health department headed by army and police doctors
* A catering department made of 10 different catering corps units
* An NGO department, which will coordinate all registered volunteers
While Kammenos was at pains to stress that the Armed Forces’ intervention is only temporary, the plans he announced are essentially a framework for establishing martial law on the pretext of the refugee crisis. This in a country that was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship between 1967 and 1974.
Since the crisis began in Greece six years ago, leading members of the Armed Forces have been increasingly active in public affairs, something that was taboo until recently.
In the run-up to the July referendum on EU austerity called by the Syriza-ANEL government last year, retired General Fragkoulis Fragkos, a former defence minister and one-time head of the Greek army general staff, called for a “loud yes vote”. In 2011, Fragkos was cashiered by then-Prime Minister George Papandreou amid rumours of a coup.
A “yes” vote was also endorsed by a group of 65 retired high-ranking officers, who issued a statement warning that “by choosing isolation, we place the Fatherland and its future in danger.”
The use of the refugee crisis to justify the far-reaching intervention of the armed forces must serve as a warning to the Greek working class and youth.
As opposition mounts to the government’s austerity policies, as seen by the farmers’ blockades and ongoing strike wave, culminating in last Thursday’s general strike, any crisis can and will be used by the ruling elite to impose its agenda by any means necessary, including a military coup.
Participando (como se tornou obrigatório) no encontro dos ministros da Defesa da União Europeia (UE) no dia cinco de fevereiro em Amsterdã, o secretário geral da Otan Jens Stoltenberg elogiou o “plano dos Estados Unidos de aumentar substancialmente sua presença militar na Europa, quadruplicando os financiamentos para esse efeito”.
Os EUA podem assim “conservar mais tropas na parte oriental da Aliança, posicionar previamente ali armamentos pesados e efetuar mais exercícios, além de construir mais obras de infraestrutura”. Deste modo, segundo Stoltenberg, “fortalece-se a cooperação entre a UE e a Otan”.
É bem outro o objetivo. Imediatamente após o fim da guerra fria, em 1992 Washington sublinhava a “importância fundamental de preservar a Otan como canal de influência e participação estadunidenses nos assuntos europeus, impedindo a criação de dispositivos unicamente europeus que minariam a estrutura de comando da Aliança”, a saber, o comando dos Estados Unidos.
Missão cumprida: 22 dos 28 países da UE, com mais de 90% da população da União, fazem hoje parte da Otan, sempre sob comando dos EUA, o que é reconhecido pela UE como “fundamento da defesa coletiva”. Fazendo pressão sobre os governos do Leste, mais ligados aos EUA que à UE, Washington reabriu a frente oriental com uma nova guerra fria, quebrando os crescentes laços econômicos entre a Rússia e a UE, perigosos para os interesses estadunidenses.
Em toda a Europa Oriental está içada no mais alto mastro a bandeira estrelada ao lado da bandeira da Otan. Na Polônia, a nova primeira-ministra Beata Szydlo nas suas coletivas de imprensa tem arriado a bandeira da UE, frequentemente queimada nas praças pelos “patriotas” que apoiam o governo na sua recusa a acolher os refugiados (fruto das guerras dos EUA e da Otan, qualificados de “invasores não brancos”. À espera da Cúpula da Otan, que terá lugar no mês de julho em Varsóvia, a Polônia criou uma brigada conjunta de 4 mil homens com a Lituânia e a Ucrânia (de fato já na Otan), treinada pelos EUA. Na Estônia o governo anuncia “uma área militar Schengen”, que permite às forças dos EUA/Otan entrar livremente no país. Na frente meridional, unida à oriental, os Estados Unidos estão a ponto de lançar desde a Europa uma nova guerra na Líbia para ocupar, sob o pretexto de libertar do chamado Estado Islâmico, as zonas costeiras econômica e estrategicamente mais importantes.
Um golpe para reconquistar terreno, depois que na Síria a intervenção russa em apoio às forças governamentais bloqueou o plano da dupla EUA/Otan de destruir este Estado, utilizando como na Líbia em 2011, grupos islamitas armados e treinados pela CIA, financiados pela Arábia Saudita, apoiados pela Turquia e outros.
A operação na Líbia “sob condução italiana” –que, como adverte o Pentágono, requer “boots on the ground”, ou seja forças terrestres – foi feita num acordo dos Estados Unidos não com a União Europeia, inexistente neste plano enquanto sujeito unitário, mas individualmente com as potências europeias dominantes, sobretudo a França, a Grã Bretanha e a Alemanha. Potências que, em concorrência entre elas e com os Estados Unidos, se unem quando entram em jogo interesses fundamentais.
É emblemático aquilo que veio à tona dos e-mails de Hilary Clinton, secretária de Estado em 2011: os EUA e a França atacaram a Líbia antes de tudo para bloquear “o plano de Kadafi de utilizar as enormes reservas líbias de ouro e de prata para criar uma moeda africana alternativa ao franco CFA”, divisa imposta pela França a suas 14 ex-colônias.
O plano líbio (nós o demonstramos no jornal Il Manifesto em abril de 2011) visava mais além, libertar a África da dominação do FMI e do Banco Mundial. Por esta razão é que foi destruída a Líbia, onde as mesmas potências se preparam agora para desembarcar para “a paz”.
Partecipando (come ormai d’obbligo) all’incontro dei ministri della difesa Ue il 5 febbraio ad Amsterdam, il segretario della Nato Jens Stoltenberg ha lodato «il piano degli Stati uniti di accrescere sostanzialmente la loro presenza militare in Europa, quadruplicando i finanziamenti a tale scopo».
Gli Usa possono così «mantenere più truppe nella parte orientale dell’Alleanza, preposizionarvi armamenti pesanti, effettuarvi più esercitazioni e costruirvi più infrastrutture». In tal modo, secondo Stoltenberg, «si rafforza la cooperazione Ue-Nato». Ben altro lo scopo. Subito dopo la fine della guerra fredda, nel 1992, Washington sottolineava la «fondamentale importanza di preservare la Nato quale canale della influenza e partecipazione statunitensi negli affari europei, impedendo la creazione di dispositivi unicamente europei che minerebbero la struttura di comando dell’Alleanza», ossia il comando Usa. Missione compiuta: 22 dei 28 paesi della Ue, con oltre il 90% della popolazione dell’Unione, fanno oggi parte della Nato sempre sotto comando Usa, riconosciuta dalla Ue quale «fondamento della difesa collettiva». Facendo leva sui governi dell’Est, legati più agli Usa che alla Ue, Washington ha riaperto il fronte orientale con una nuova guerra fredda, spezzando i crescenti legami economici Russia-Ue pericolosi per gli interessi statunitensi. In tutta l’Europa orientale sventola, sul pennone più alto, la bandiera a stelle e strisce assieme a quella della Nato. In Polonia, la nuova premier Beata Szydlo ha ammainato dalla sue conferenze stampa la bandiera della Ue, spesso bruciata nelle piazze da «patrioti» che sostengono il governo nel rifiuto di ospitare i rifugiati (frutto delle guerre Usa/Nato), definiti «invasori non-bianchi».
In attesa del Summit Nato, che si terrà a Varsavia in luglio, la Polonia crea una brigata congiunta di 4mila uomini con Lituania e Ucraina (di fatto già nella Nato), addestrata dagli Usa. In Estonia il governo annuncia «un’area Schengen militare», che permette alle forze Usa/Nato di entrare liberamente nel paese.
Sul fronte meridionale, collegato a quello orientale, gli Stati uniti stanno per lanciare dall’Europa una nuova guerra in Libia per occupare, con la motivazione di liberarle dall’Isis, le zone costiere economicamente e strategicamente più importanti. Una mossa per riguadagnare terreno, dopo che in Siria l’intervento russo a sostegno delle forze governative ha bloccato il piano Usa/Nato di demolire questo Stato usando, come in Libia nel 2011, gruppi islamici armati e addestrati dalla Cia, finanziati dall’Arabia Saudita, sostenuti dalla Turchia e altri.
L’operazione in Libia «a guida italiana» – che, avverte il Pentagono, richiede «boots on the ground», ossia forze terrestri – è stata concordata dagli Stati uniti non con l’Unione europea, inesistente su questo piano come soggetto unitario, ma singolarmente con le potenze europee dominanti, soprattutto Francia, Gran Bretagna e Germania. Potenze che, in concorrenza tra loro e con gli Usa, si uniscono quando entrano in gioco gli interessi fondamentali.
Emblematico quanto emerso dalle mail di Hillary Clinton, nel 2011 segretaria di Stato: Usa e Francia attaccarono la Libia anzitutto per bloccare «il piano di Gheddafi di usare le enormi riserve libiche di oro e argento per creare una moneta africana in alternativa al franco Cfa», valuta imposta dalla Francia a sue 14 ex colonie. Il piano libico (dimostravamo sul manifesto nell’aprile 2011) mirava oltre, a liberare l’Africa dal dominio del Fmi e della Banca mondiale. Perciò fu demolita la Libia, dove le stesse potenze si preparano ora a sbarcare per riportare «la pace».
America Latina e Caraibi affrontano uno dei suoi momenti più critici della crisi globale scoppiata nel settembre 2008. Le economie della regione non solo sono rallentate, ma i Paesi del Sud America hanno subito gravi contrazioni, soprattutto Brasile e Venezuela. Nell’ultimo vertice della CELAC a Quito, Ecuador, s’è rivelata la necessità di serrare le fila sull’unità dell’America Latina e, allo stesso tempo, sul funzionamento dei vari strumenti di cooperazione finanziaria regionali: Banca del Sud, Fondo del Sud e uso delle valute locali nel commercio.
Inevitabilmente, al quarto vertice della Comunità degli Stati dell’America Latina e dei Caraibi (CELAC) del 27 a Quito, in Ecuador, economia, sviluppo e integrazione regionale erano tra gli argomenti più discussi. Non è un segreto che le economie latino-americane sono gravemente colpite del drastico calo dei prezzi delle materie prime (‘commodities’).
Nel 2015 il PIL dell’America Latina si è ridotto dello 0,4%, registrando la peggiore performance dalla recessione del 2009. E secondo la Commissione economica delle Nazioni Unite per l’America Latina e i Caraibi (CEPAL) il tasso di crescita di quest’anno sarà solo dello 0,2%. La situazione economica è ancora più triste nei Paesi esportatori di materie prime: il PIL del Sud America è sceso dell’1,6% lo scorso anno e sarà negativo nel 2016.
Senza dubbio, il boom legato all’esportazione di materie prime (commodities) è esaurito. Nel 2015 il commercio extra-regionale dell’America Latina è sceso del 14%, ed il commercio intra-regionale è crollato del 21%. La deflazione (caduta dei prezzi) ha colpito anche i flussi degli investimenti diretti esteri sullo sfruttamento delle risorse naturali (agricoltura, metalli, minerali, petrolio, ecc), scesi di oltre il 20% nei primi sei mesi dell’anno scorso. I prezzi delle materie prime continueranno ad essere bassi, quindi si deve puntare sulla diversificazione.
Non c’è tempo da attendere, i leader dell’America Latina devono passare dalle parole ai fatti, altrimenti la crisi economica sarà ancor più profonda. Se il Federal Reserve System (FED) degli Stati Uniti alza il tasso d’interesse dei fondi federali, i Paesi latino-americani rischiano una crisi di liquidità di enormi proporzioni. Se tale scenario s’impone ci sarà una grave battuta d’arresto sociale: centinaia di migliaia di persone ridiventeranno povere.
Quindi ci si chiede cosa fare. Per far fronte al terremoto finanziario le azioni congiunte sono più efficaci di quelle singole. In questo senso, gli ultimi vertici della CELAC hanno nuovamente messo sul tavolo la necessità di applicare a pieno le potenzialità dell’architettura finanziaria regionale. Ad esempio, per smorzare la massiccia fuga di capitali va attuato il Fondo del Sud. E’ inconcepibile che i risparmi dei Paesi dell’America Latina siano utilizzati per finanziare il Gruppo dei 7 (G-7, composto da Germania, Canada, Stati Uniti, Francia, Italia, Giappone e Regno Unito). Invece, le riserve internazionali delle banche centrali dell’America Latina dovrebbe essere usate congiuntamente per stabilizzare la bilancia dei pagamenti ed evitare di cadere nella trappola delle svalutazioni competitive.
D’altra parte va notato che da un paio di settimane sostengo che, cedendo alle pressioni delle aziende, il Ministero degli Esteri brasiliano è il principale responsabile della marmellata burocratica della Banca del Sud, la nuova banca di sviluppo regionale per finanziare progetti produttivi e infrastrutture. I Paesi latino-americani devono investire ogni anno 320 miliardi di dollari per rispondere alla domanda di infrastrutture entro il 2020, secondo le stime del CEPAL.
Le decisioni più importanti sull’integrazione regionale in America del Sud devono essere approvate dai Paesi più grandi: Brasile, Argentina e Venezuela. Purtroppo la mia ipotesi s’è avverata: firmata otto anni fa, solo cinque dei sette Paesi hanno ratificato la Carta di fondazione. Brasile e Paraguay non l’hanno ancora fatto, secondo Andrés Arauz, rappresentante dell’Ecuador al consiglio della Banca del Sud.
Quindi, anche se su regolamenti, dettagli tecnici e contributi i Paesi sono già d’accordo, l’istituto è inesistente. Secondo Veronica Artola, Vicedirettrice per la Programmazione e il controllo della Banca centrale dell’Ecuador, per attivare la Banca Sud il prerequisito è nominare almeno quattro dei sette membri del consiglio esecutivo. Bolivia, Ecuador e Venezuela hanno già i loro rappresentanti. Mentre nel caso dell’Uruguay manca la ratifica del nuovo governo di Tabaré Vázquez. Argentina, Brasile e Paraguay non hanno ancora avanzato le loro proposte.
In conclusione, il calo dei prezzi delle materie prime aggrava la situazione delle economie della regione. Oggi è chiaro più che mai che il costo dell’inerzia di alcuni governi è troppo alto. Devono rapidamente sbloccare il Fondo e il Banco del Sud, gli strumenti dell’America Latina per affrontare le turbolenze finanziarie…
La región de América Latina y el Caribe enfrenta uno de sus momentos más críticos desde que estalló la crisis global en septiembre de 2008. Las economías de la región no solamente se han desacelerado, sino que los países sudamericanos han sufrido graves contracciones, principalmente Brasil y Venezuela. Durante la cumbre más reciente de la CELAC celebrada en Quito, Ecuador, se puso de manifiesto la necesidad de cerrar filas en torno a la unidad latinoamericana, y al mismo tiempo, poner en funcionamiento los distintos instrumentos de cooperación financiera de la región: el Banco del Sur, el Fondo del Sur y el uso de monedas locales en los intercambios comerciales.
De modo inevitable, en la IV cumbre de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC) llevada a cabo el pasado 27 de enero en la ciudad de Quito, Ecuador, la economía, el desarrollo y la integración regional fueron los temas más discutidos entre los asistentes. Para nadie es un secreto que las economías latinoamericanas se han visto severamente afectadas a raíz de la drástica caída de los precios de las materias primas (‘commodities’).
En 2015 el Producto Interno Bruto (PIB) de la región latinoamericana se contrajo 0.4%, con lo cual, registró su peor desempeño desde la recesión de 2009. Y según las estimaciones de la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) este año la tasa de expansión será de apenas 0.2%. La situación económica ha sido todavía más deprimente en los países exportadores de productos primarios: el PIB de América del Sur se desplomó 1.6% el año pasado y volverá a ser negativo en 2016.
Es indudable, la etapa de auge vinculada a la exportación de materias primas (‘commodities’) está agotada. En 2015 el comercio extrarregional de América Latina cayó 14%, mientas que los intercambios intrarregionales se desplomaron 21%. La deflación (caída de precios) ha golpeado también a los flujos de inversión extranjera directa orientados a la explotación de recursos naturales (agricultura, metales, minerales, petróleo, etc.), que se contrajeron más de 20% en los primeros seis meses del año pasado. Los precios de las materias primas (‘commodities’) van a seguir siendo bajos, por eso debe apostarse por la diversificación productiva.
No hay tiempo para contemplaciones, los mandatarios de América Latina necesitan pasar del discurso a la acción, o de lo contrario la recesión económica será más profunda. Si el Sistema de la Reserva Federal (FED) de Estados Unidos vuelve a subir la tasa de interés de los fondos federales (‘federal funds rate), los países latinoamericanos corren el riesgo de padecer una crisis de liquidez de enormes proporciones. Si este escenario llega a consumarse habría un gran retroceso en términos sociales: cientos de miles de personas regresarían a engrosar las filas de la pobreza.
Surge entonces la pregunta sobre qué hacer. Para sobrellevar un temblor financiero las acciones conjuntas son más efectivas que las individuales. En ese sentido, en la cumbre de la CELAC más reciente se volvió a poner sobre la mesa la necesidad de sacar el máximo potencial de la arquitectura financiera regional. Por ejemplo, para amortiguar la fuga masiva de capitales de cartera se debe poner en marcha el Fondo del Sur. Es inconcebible que los ahorros de América Latina sirvan para financiar a los países del Grupo de los 7 (G-7, integrado por Alemania, Canadá, Estados Unidos, Francia, Italia, Japón y Reino Unido). En lugar de ello, las reservas internacionales de los bancos centrales de América Latina deben administrarse de manera conjunta a fin de estabilizar las balanzas de pagos y evitar caer en la trampa de las devaluaciones competitivas.
Por otro lado cabe destacar que hace un par de semanas sostuve que por ceder ante las presiones de los empresarios, la cancillería brasileña era la principal responsable del atasco burocrático del Banco del Sur, un nuevo banco regional de desarrollo que apoyaría el financiamiento de proyectos productivos y de infraestructura. Es que los países latinoamericanos necesitan realizar inversiones anuales por 320 000 millones de dólares para satisfacer sus demandas de infraestructura hasta 2020, de acuerdo con los cálculos de la CEPAL.
Las grandes decisiones sobre la integración regional de América del Sur necesitan la aprobación de los países más grandes: Brasil, Argentina y Venezuela. Lamentablemente mi hipótesis terminó por verificarse: a más de ocho años de haberse firmado, solamente cinco de siete países han ratificado el acta fundacional. Brasil y Paraguay todavía no lo han hecho, según Andrés Arauz, representante de Ecuador ante el directorio del Banco del Sur.
Por eso aunque los reglamentos, los detalles técnicos y las aportaciones por país ya están pactados, en los hechos la institución es inexistente. De acuerdo con Verónica Artola, subgerente de Programación y Regulación del banco central de Ecuador, para poner en funcionamiento el Banco del Sur es requisito indispensable que se nombren por lo menos cuatro de los siete miembros del directorio ejecutivo. Bolivia Ecuador y Venezuela ya cuentan con sus representantes. Mientras que en el caso de Uruguay falta la ratificación de parte del nuevo Gobierno encabezado por Tabaré Vázquez. Argentina, Brasil y Paraguay aún no mandan sus propuestas.
En conclusión, la caída de los precios de las materias primas (‘commodities’) ha puesto en un serio predicamento a las economías de la región. Hoy está más claro que nunca que el costo de la inercia de algunos Gobiernos ha sido demasiado alto. Se necesitan destrabar a la brevedad el Fondo y el Banco del Sur, las herramientas de América Latina para salir avante de la tormenta financiera…
Ariel Noyola Rodríguez
Ariel Noyola Rodríguez : Economista egresado de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Hillary Clinton “won” the Iowa caucuses, in part because of 6 coin tosses all of which she won! Six precincts, at least, ended up with a dead tie between the two candidates. The tie was broken and a winner declared based on a coin toss in each case.
What are the odds of one of two candidates winning all six coin tosses if the outcomes are random, that is, if the tosses are fair, unbiased and with honest coins?
The calculation is so simple that a schoolboy or schoolgirl can do it. The formula is simply 1/2 raised to the power of 6 – that is, 1/2 taken six times and multiplied.
The probability of winning all six tosses by chance alone is 1/64. That is 0.016 or 1.6 in 100 or 1.6%. Not even 2%! In many areas of science including many areas of biology, one must demonstrate that the result of one’s experiments is unlikely to happen by chance alone. If the probability of getting the results by chance alone is less than less than 5%, the result reported is considered to be “significant,’ that is, not likely to be a chance finding. Such a result is publishable in highly respected journals.
Since the probability of the outcome in Iowa was 1.6%, it is quite unlikely, highly improbable that the coin tosses resulted from chance and were honest. And if the results did not occur by chance alone, then the coin tosses were manipulated, fixed! Why has no one in the mainstream media looked into this?
It is not unusual for results of an election to be questioned based on what the facts of the matter really are. For example some may claim that voting machines are rigged but others will say no. However, everyone agrees on the fact of the six coin tosses, and the simple calculation above is based on the fundamental laws of probability, i.e., counting. That gives the conclusion that the results were rigged very strong standing. At the very least, the probabilities demand a thorough investigation.
A good scientist would, however, not rest with simply one set of results that satisfied the probability criteria outlined above. He or she would look for other observations that would shore up the conclusion and make it more convincing. Similarly we may ask whether there were other indications of cheating in the Iowa Dem primary. And indeed there were. As Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com pointed out in his essay, “The Establishment’s Last Stand,” Democratic results went missing from nearly 100 precincts, which accounted for 5% of the vote according to the Sanders campaign. That 5% was more than enough to hand the race to Sanders. This led the Sanders to lament that the real results may never be known. And we should note that ballots have gone missing before in Iowa, notably in the 2012 Republican caucuses where Mitt Romney was falsely declared the winner.
Is it not strange that Hillary was so very lucky? It was very clear going into the polling that Sanders and Clinton were in a dead heat. Might we conclude that she and her supporters anticipating a tie in some precincts were prepared for a coin toss or to disappear some ballots, the latter having happened before in Iowa. Is Hillary’s reputation for honesty so sterling that we cannot possibly suspect that? You can answer that for yourself, dear reader.
The Obama Administration is expanding its military power and threats against Russia and China as well as increasing its war efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria while preparing to restart Washington’s old war in Libya.
Most of this has been revealed in the first six weeks of the 2016 election year and President Barack Obama’s last full year in office without any significant new provocations against the United States. At least part of the White House motive must be to undercut right wing Republican campaign rhetoric alleging Obama and the Democrats are “soft on defense,” and creating a more robust martial entry into the president’s legacy.
On Feb. 9 the White House revealed that it is sending up to 800 more soldiers to Afghanistan to join some 10,000 U.S. troops already in the country, according to an account in the Guardian, which reported: “In keeping with Barack Obama’s formal declaration that the U.S. is not engaged in combat — despite elite forces recently participating in an hours-long battle in Helmand province — defense officials said the additional troops would not take part in combat. But they will help the existing Helmand force defend itself against Taliban attacks, officials said.”
Nearly five years after the U.S., Britain and France launched a bombing campaign against the Libyan government to bring about regime change, President Obama is now preparing a second military intervention in that country. Washington’s initial intrusion resulted in the murder of the country’s leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and unexpectedly sparked a civil war between two factions that seek to rule the country. The chaos induced the Islamic State to enter Libya, becoming a powerful force in recent years. The use of U.S. special forces troops and airpower are soon expected.
On Feb. 2 Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addressed the Economic Club of Washington about the new military budget and its uses, noting: “We don’t have the luxury of just one opponent, or the choice between current fights and future fights. We have to do both.” This evidently means fighting in the Middle East now and preparing for a much bigger war in the future against a more formidable force. Who might that be?
The Washington Post’s Missy Ryan wrote the next day: “Carter previewed the Pentagon budget proposal for fiscal 2017, making a case for why China’s rapid military buildup and Russia’s intervention beyond its borders pose a bigger danger to U.S. security, and merit larger investments, than does the immediate threat from the Islamic State…. The proposal reflects Carter’s attempt to broaden the military’s focus to include not just the insurgent conflicts of the post-2001 era but also ‘higher-end’ threats from Russia and China, whose military innovation U.S. officials acknowledge has at times out-paced the United States.
Almost half of the new investments… are related to what officials see as a growing threat from Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated his willingness to employ Russian military might from Ukraine to Syria…. A senior defense official said the advances made by Russia and China do ‘force a competition that has to be confronted in the next decade.
The proposed Pentagon budget for 2017 is $583 billion and if passed will go into operation Oct. 1. The separate national security budget, which also includes war-related expenses, will be about the same size, bringing such expenditures to about a $1 trillion annually.
Money for “securing Europe” will grow to at least $3.4 billion. There are presently about 75,000 U.S. military personnel in Europe. On Feb. 2 The New YorkTimes revealed that Obama “plans to substantially increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a move that administration officials said was aimed at deterring Russia from further aggression in the region.” The war budget for the fight against the Islamic State is expected to reach $7 billion, an increase of 35%.
Speaking on the John Batchelor Show Feb. 2, Nation contributing editor and long time Russian analyst Steven F. Cohen argued that the Obama Administration’s actions will further militarize the “new Cold War” between the countries, making it more confrontational and likely to lead to actual war with Russia. According to the program notes paraphrasing Cohen’s remarks: “The move is unprecedented in modern times…. Russia will certainly react, probably by moving more of its own heavy weapons, including new missiles, to its Western borders, possibly along with a large number of its tactical nuclear weapons.”
Cohen pointed out that a new and more dangerous U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race has been under way for several years, which the Obama Administration’s decision can only intensify. The decision will also have other woeful consequences, undermining ongoing negotiations by Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for cooperation on the Ukrainian and Syrian crises and further dividing Europe itself, which is far from united on Washington’s increasingly hawkish approach to Moscow.
On Jan. 29 it was reported that President Obama is in the process of intensifying U.S. military engagement in Iraq. There are further reports Obama has revised the “terms of engagement” in Afghanistan to enable remaining U.S. forces to once again undertake combat missions. At the same time, in the name of “freedom of the seas,” Washington sent a Navy destroyer to intrude on a small China Sea parcel of territory claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The United States spends far more annually on military matters than the combined war budgets of the eight other highest spenders, including China and Russia, and this doesn’t include non-Pentagon war and national security spending. While there may be a need for increasing spending for the Obama Administration’s several ongoing wars, where there have been setbacks and surprises, nothing remotely justifies the warlike rhetoric and war spending aimed at China and Russia. The U.S., NATO and other allies are inestimably more powerful in combination than these two countries — not that Beijing and Moscow have provided any evidence of an intention to eventually attack Washington.
This is an election year, and the Democratic Party must display martial prowess in its confrontation with the same reckless chest-beating Republican opposition that heedlessly launched the new wave of wars since 2001 that President Obama has been continuing these last seven years. It is also an escalation of the U.S. threats to China and Russia, warning of the potential military consequences of disrespecting the leadership of the global superpower.
Following the recent gains in North Aleppo, the Syrian government has got a chance to use again its forward position at the Kuweires Airbase as a foot-hold to conduct offensive operations against ISIS.
West of Kuweires Airbase the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are conducting a military operation aimed at encircling an ISIS pocket that threatens the key logistical hub of Al-Safira and the supply route to the city of Aleppo. Another offensive direction is the ISIS-controlled town of Al-Bab. After desruction of the Rayyan pocket, the loyalists’ forces will have an optimal position to liberated this major urban center.
The Kurdish YPG is advancing on the Mennagh Military Airport located near the town of ‘Azaz. On Feb.8, the YPG captured the Kafr Antoun and Muraniz villages and the Al-Ajjar Camp near the airport after clashes with the militants of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Clashes are also ongoing at the towns of Meranaz and Der Jamal where the YPG is advancing on the positions of al Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.
ISIS claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that hit the main gate of the security center for the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in al-Hawl town in the province of Hasakah on Feb.8. The terror attack killed 9 SDF fighters and injured 4.
According to reports, four military airplanes of the Syrian Army carrying weapons and munitions for Kurdish fighters arrived in Qamishli Airport in Hasaka province on Feb.7. The weapons have been delivered in order to support a Kurdish advance amied to liberated the town of al-Shadadi from ISIS.
In the Homs province, the SAA and the NDF captured the strategic hilltop of Taloul Al-Sid located in the Al-Hazzm Mountains. It overlooks the city of Quraytayn. This development is a part of the SAA’s offensive against ISIS in the area of Maheen and Quraytayn. If this area is liberated, the SAA will get a chance to take control of the Tanf border-crossing into the Iraqi province of Al-‘Anbar.
Military operations are continuing in the Daraa province. According to reports, on Feb.8 the SAA killed at least 20 terrorists, injured 28 and destroyed 7 vehicles. The main clashes were observed in al-Karak and al-Abasyia neighborhood and n the area surrounding Khrbit Ghazala town. Mohamed Ali Abu Nuqta, militant commander of Katibat Hamza Assad Allah was killed In Tafas.
In Latakia, the Syrian forces liberated 4 villages: Al-Hawr, Al-Ruweisat, Al-Sweida, and Wad Al-‘Zaraq. By these actions, the pro-government forces are aiming to liberate the strategic town of Kinsibba located near the Turkish border.
Whether it’s Al Shabaab, Burundi, or Zanzibar, a handful of regional issues are lining up to undermine East Africa’s stability and offset the most ambitious series of integrational projects in the continent’s history.
The five-nation East African Community (EAC) of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania plans to transition into a formal federation sometime in the near future, catapulting its significance from a regional to a global actor.
The integrational bloc is betting that its East African Railway Master Plan, partially financed and constructed by China, will not only do wonders for its own economic cohesiveness, but will stimulate broader sub-Saharan cooperation. The vision is that this strategic blueprint will link the prospective East African Federation (EAF) together with Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with the ultimate goal being to bridge Africa’s transoceanic divide by connecting to the Atlantic Ocean via the Congo River and the modernization and expansion of existing railway infrastructure in Zambia and Angola.
This enterprising and unprecedented endeavor is not without its fair share of risks, however, since the problems of Al Shabaab, Burundi, and Zanzibar might endanger the federalized integration of the EAC. Without the emergence of a coordinated geopolitical core to manage the region’s strategic infrastructural potential, China’s investments in East Africa might disappointingly fail in their forecasted multipolar function and never become anything more significant than a few scraps of steel.
The African Pivot
The EAC plans to follow in the footsteps of other regional integrational organizations such as the EU, Eurasian Union, and ASEAN by tightening the relations between its members and formally becoming a factor in world politics. If it succeeds in forming a federation, then the newly consolidated unit would have enormous economic and geopolitical promise simply by means of its expanding population and favorable location alone.
These two critical factors are maximized when one recognizes that the countries which would constitute the EAF are located at the center of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), a proposed pan-continental economic space combining the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the EAC, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Air Cargo World, one of the logistics industry’s most highly esteemed publications, had this to say about its sheer scope of what was agreed to:
…the new zone was formally established in June 2015, comprising 26 nations, with a combined population of 632 million people, or 57 percent of Africa’s population. Altogether, the TFTA bloc has a combined GDP of US$ 1.3 trillion, representing 58 percent of Africa’s total GDP. The vast size of the area represented – about 17 million square kilometers – is roughly equal to that of Russia, making it one of the largest free-trade zones in the world, forming an unbroken corridor from Cairo to Cape Town.
In all obviousness, the EAF’s centrally positioned location within this framework would make it the pivot state for the entire TFTA and allow it to control trade in either direction.
Silk Roads From Sea To Sea
The EAF wouldn’t just be the gatekeeper of North-South trade within Africa, but of East-West trade between its Indian and Atlantic Ocean coasts as well, thus turning it into the continent’s most strategic geopolitical actor. Whereas the TFTA is essentially the 21st-century institutional iteration of the British Empire’s unfulfilled Cape to Cairo Railway, China’s transoceanic Silk Road vision for Africa is entirely unprecedented. The foundational concept exists in the East African Railway Master Plan, after which it is expanded via riparian and rail innovations in order to reach the Atlantic.
The East African Railway Master Plan:
LAPSSET Project map
Kenya and Tanzania serve as the terminal starting points for this strategy, with the former’s infrastructure largely having to be built while the latter’s simply needs to be revitalized and slightly expanded. Kenya’s Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor aims to connect the three countries and give the two landlocked ones reliable access to the sea, complementing and possibly even sone day connecting with the other Chinese-financed and –constructed one running from Djibouti to Addis Ababa. Moreover, LAPSSET isn’t only about rail, since both South Sudan and Uganda are exploring options for connecting oil pipelines to the route.
The second Kenyan Silk Road connection is the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that’s anticipated to run from Mombasa to the Ugandan capital of Kampala before breaking into two other lines that go to Kisangani in the DRC and to the Rwandan and Burundian capitals of Kigali and Bujumbura, respectively. The SGR is the most directly pertinent of the two projects to the EAC/EAF’s integrational goals, and it already naturally connects to Tanzania via existing railways between the two countries.
Tanzania’s application of the Railway Master Plan visualizes a Central Corridorthat would expand off of already-constructed rail routes inside the country and link the capital of Dar es Salaam withBurundi and Rwanda, the second of which would serve as a junction in connecting the Tanzanian and Kenyan projects into a full loop. There was earlier talk that Uganda might reprioritize its rail plans and try to link up with its comparatively larger export market in South Sudan instead of focusing on Rwanda, so if that turns out to be the case, then Tanzania would be the sole provider of Rwanda and Burundi’s railway maritime access route. Consequently, Tanzania would come to trump Kenya’s influence over these states in any forthcoming federation, thus tacitly leading to the development of intra-organizational spheres of influence between the two states.
Both the Kenyan- and Tanzanian-originated projects have the potential to connect to the Atlantic and spearhead Africa’s first-ever transoceanic mainland corridors. The SGR could utilize Kisangani’s port access on the Congo River to connect the city downstream to the DRC capital of Kinshasa, where afterwards it would only need to make a short rail trip to Matadi in reaching the Atlantic (the Congo’s rapids are unpassable between these two points). The intermodal transportation necessary to connect the two ocean coasts (rail-boat-rail) isn’t logistically efficient and is only attractive because it provides access to the DRC’s huge labor and resource pools, but the prospective transoceanic route between Tanzania and Angola is much more alluring because of its relatively simpler feasibility.
Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam capital port is already connected to the copper-rich transit country of Zambia via the Chinese constructed TAZARA railroad from the 1970s, and from there it also has access to the DRC’s mineral-rich southeastern province of Katanga. On the Atlantic side of things, China just recently completed its $1.9 billion investment in rebuilding Angola’s Benguela railroad and reconnecting the port of Lobito to the DRC-bordering town of Luau. This rail route was rendered inoperable ever since the Angolan Civil War of the 1970s, but now that it’s back in action, all that it needs to happen for transoceanic rail access to become a reality is for the Dilolo-Kolwezi-Lubumbashi line in the DRC to be modernized and/or for Zambia to complete its North West Railroad project (financed in part by a $500 million loan from BRICS-member South Africa).
Crashing The Party
The TFTA’s North-South connective feasibility and China’s plans to link Africa’s Indian and Atlantic Ocean coasts are farsighted but realistically attainable, although current and forthcoming events might foreseeably derail these ambitions. Here are the threats that might destabilize the EAC and throw its transoceanic hopes into jeopardy:
This terrorist group operates in close proximity to Kenya’s Lamu port and could attack LAPSSET’s workers and infrastructure in the Somali-populated areas.
Rwanda is accused of providing insurgent training to refugees so that they can overthrow the Burundian President, and it also wants the African Union to invade the country. Tanzania has backed off from its former pro-invasion rhetoric and is in favor of a domestic political solution. The Burundian Crisis has damaged the EAC/EAF’s erstwhile strategic unity and exposed large divisions between its members.
The October 2015 elections in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous archipelago wererendered invalid after purported irregularities and will held once more on 20 March. The opposition is campaigning for full autonomy so that they can receive all the potential profits from Tanzania’srecently discovered and copious offshore oil and gas reserves adjacent to its territory, so if they win and carry through on their threat, then it would unquestionably lead to a constitutional crisis that might eventually evolve into a full-blown secessionist one.
Although numerically small, the native people that inhabit this contiguous swath of Kenyan and Tanzanian coastland have a unique cultural identity and history from their hinterland counterparts. If this feeling of separateness continues to prevail and become irreparable (punctuated by some already existing religious differences), then organizations such as the secessionist Mombasa Republican Council and the terrorist Uamsho Group might acquire new followers and feel more emboldened in their actions.
The Burundian Crisis was precipitated by an electoral one, and with controversial leadership votes being scheduled for Uganda and the DRC later this year and in Rwanda the next, it’s possible that any of these could descend into an “African Spring” Burundi-like Hybrid War.
Activists in Zambia’s traditional western and Angola-bordering region of Barotseland has been more assertive in their autonomy and secessionist claims these past few years, and this could potentially lead to a conflict that would one day delay or suspend the North West Railroad project.
There’s no doubt that China is placing a heightened strategic focus on Africa, as can be evidenced by President Xi’s $60 billion commitment to the continent that he announced in December 2015. China’ssecond policy paper on Africa, released at the same time, confirms the seriousness with which Beijing is taking its relations in this sphere, intending to develop its established bilateral and multilateral ties to a full-spectrum strategic partnership. China’s interests in Africa aren’t solely altruistic, however, since the East Asian giant urgently needs to build up and access new markets in order to sustain its domestic growth. Seen in this light, the transoceanic African Silk Roads that it’s constructing are crucial pieces in this larger geo-economic game, albeit ones that are susceptible to various geopolitical dangers that can be triggered by the US and its intelligence, information, and NGO networks.
The recent rumors about a forthcoming regime change operation in Malawi are a perfect case in point, as they indicate how the US is actively working to undermine African governments in order to gain a relative geopolitical gain against China. It might even be that Washington wants to turn Malawi into the ‘next Burundi’ in order to complicate the socio-humanitarian situation on both sides of the Tanzanian-Zambian border and attack the existing TAZARA and prospective Tanzania-Zambia-Angola railroads via asymmetrical means, perhaps via a destabilizing overflow of refugees and/or the potential infiltration of armed militants into this transnational transit corridor.
This is but one example of the many scenarios that the US is planning as a means to subvert China’s transoceanic projects, and all developments in the bicoastal and Central African space must be seen through the prism of the US’ anti-Silk Road Hybrid War strategy. Be it Al Shabaab terrorism in northeastern Kenya or a Color Revolution in the Congo, every ongoing and forecasted event of major importance in the outlined area is absolutely linked to the New Cold War that the US is waging against China, with Africa’s future as a unipolar neo-imperial colony or a multipolar center of influence hanging in the balance.
Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.
Former Attorney General Questions the Legitimacy of American Democracy, Points to Roadblocks Against Full Participation of Voters and Candidates as Well as Lack of Information and the Dominance of the Wealthy
“We talk about democracy but our action to make our country a true democracy where there is full participation, full knowledge, and full independent choice is still a long way to go . . . we’re not a real democracy when an elite sect of the society determines the election outcomes and money in the campaigns. We need to take money out of politics so that the merit will decide not money.”
These were among the comments were made by Ramsey Clark, who served as Attorney General under President Lyndon Johnson, when he was interviewed by Christina Tobin, the executive director of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, an organization which seeks to broaden electoral choices through education.
In his career, Mr. Clark was involved in drafting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Inspired by civil rights activists such as Amelia Boynton Robinson, Mr. Clark believes we can overcome racism and war, and although we have made progress in some racial issues while uncovering more, he believes that America has not yet solved the issues of war.
Mr. Clark has staunchly supported the right to vote and the creation of a participatory democracy through removing money from politics and curbing its influence over our elections. He has also dedicated his life to standing for justice and accountability, and along with Ms. Robinson, Mr. Clark supports the mission of Free and Equal by bringing awareness to the inequality of our electoral system. In order to overcome the odds, we must unite together to bring truth to the land and power to the people.
Mr. Clark has also announced his intent to speak at the United We Stand Fest’s Open Presidential Debate at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Coors Event Center, which will take place this October co-hosted by #StudentVoicesCount.
Nor have they even stimulated spending. As ValueWalk points out:
Japan has had ultra-low rates for years and its economy has been terrible. Trillions of debt in Europe now trades at negative interest rates and its economy isn’t exactly booming. Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland all have negative interest rates, but consumer spending isn’t going up there. In fact, savings rates have been going up in lockstep with the decrease in interest rates, exactly the opposite of what the geniuses at the various central banks expected.
Why is this happening? Simply, savers are scared. Lower interest rates have wrecked their retirement plans. Say you were doing some financial planning 10 years ago and plugged in 3% from your savings account. Now its 0%. You still have to plan for your retirement. Plug in 0%. What happens to your planning now? 0% compounded for X years is 0%. The math is simple. So in order to have your target savings at retirement, you need to save more, not spend more. But for some reason, the economists that run central banks around the world can’t see this. They are all stuck in their offices talking to one another and self-reinforcing this myth that they can drive spending up by reducing the rate of return on investments. Want to see consumer spending go up? Don’t wreck their savings plans so that they are too scared to spend. But that’s too simple. Instead, central banks use a chain of causation that doesn’t exist to try to create change 3 or 4 steps down the line. It hasn’t worked, and it won’t work. It isn’t in an individual’s self-interest to go out and spend their money on more “stuff” in order to spur economic growth.
So what’s really going on? Why are central banks worldwide pushing negative interest rates?
Economics professor Richard Werner – the creator of quantitative easing – notes:
The experience of Switzerland [shows that] negative rates raise banks’ costs of doing business. The banks respond by passing on this cost to their customers. Due to the already zero deposit rates, this means banks will raise their lending rates. As they did in Switzerland. In other words, reducing interest rates into negative territory will raise borrowing costs!
If this is the result, why do central banks not simply raise interest rates? This would achieve the same result, one might think. However, there is a crucial difference: raised rates will allow banks to widen their interest margin and make their business more profitable. With negative rates, banks’ margins will stay low and the financial situation of the banks will stay precarious and indeed become ever more precarious.
As readers know, we have been arguing that the ECB has been waging war on the ‘good’ banks in the eurozone, the several thousand small community banks, mainly in Germany, which are operated not for profit, but for co-operative members or the public good (such as the Sparkassen public savings banks or the Volksbank people’s banks). The ECB and the EU have significantly increased regulatory reporting burdens, thus personnel costs, so that many community banks are forced to merge, while having to close down many branches. This has been coupled with the ECB’s policy of flattening the yield curve (lowering short rates and also pushing down long rates via so-called ‘quantitative easing’). As a result banks that mainly engage in traditional banking, i.e. lending to firms for investment, have come under major pressure, while this type of ‘QE’ has produced profits for those large financial institutions engaged mainly in financial speculation and its funding.
The policy of negative interest rates is thus consistent with the agenda to drive small banks out of business and consolidate banking sectors in industrialised countries, increasing concentration and control in the banking sector.
It also serves to provide a (false) further justification for abolishing cash. And this fits into the Bank of England’s surprising recent discovery that the money supply is created by banks through their action of granting loans: by supporting monetary reformers, the Bank of England may further increase its own power and accelerate the drive to concentrate the banking system if bank credit creation was abolished and there was only one true bank left – the Bank of England. This would not only get us back to the old monopoly situation imposed in 1694 when the Bank of England was founded as a for-profit enterprise by private profiteers. It would also further the project to increase control over and monitoring of the population: with both cash and bank credit alternatives abolished, all transactions, money creation and allocation would be implemented by the Bank of England.
If this sounds like a “conspiracy theory”, the Financial Times argued in 2014 that central banks would be the real winners from a cashless society:
Central bankers, after all, have had an explicit interest in introducing e-money from the moment the global financial crisis began…
The introduction of a cashless society empowers central banks greatly. A cashless society, after all, not only makes things like negative interest rates possible, it transfers absolute control of the money supply to the central bank, mostly by turning it into a universal banker that competes directly with private banks for public deposits. All digital deposits become base money.
The Canadian government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the object of a class action lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court pertaining to the $15 billion sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. An action in Federal Court is also contemplated.
Opponents of Canada’s $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia are taking Ottawa to court in an attempt to block shipments of the combat vehicles, a move that could force the governing Liberals to explain how they justify the sale to a human-rights pariah under weapon-export restrictions.
The action is led by law Professor Daniel Turp together with students of the University of Montreal:
He will announce the legal challenge on Saturday and intends to file it with the Federal Court within three weeks.
Mr. Turp and his group are calling on critics of the deal across the country to rally behind their challenge, which they are calling operation Armoured Rights, pointing to how poorly Saudi Arabia treats its own citizens and the civilian carnage of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. (Globe and Mail)
Amply documented, Saudi Arabia is the state sponsor of Al Qaeda affiliated “opposition groups” in Syria including the Islamic State (ISIS). Riyadh –acting in liaison and on behalf of Washington– plays a central role in the financing of the Islamic State (ISIS) as well as the recruitment, training and religious indoctrination of terrorist mercenary forces deployed in Syria and Iraq.
What this signifies is that Canada is selling weapons to a country which is supporting and sponsoring terrorist organizations. Moreover Saudi Arabia is currently involved in a war of aggression against Yemen in blatant derogation of international law.
The links of Saudi Arabia to the terrorists are amply documented and will no doubt be raised in the class action court hearings.
According to London’s Daily Express “They [the Islamic State terrorists] had money and arms supplied by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”
“The most important source of ISIS financing to date has been support coming out of the Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia but also Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates,” (According to Dr. Günter Meyer, Director of the Center for Research into the Arabic World at University of Mainz, Germany, Deutsche Welle)
…[M]eet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.
From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles. (Robert Fisk, The Independent, June 12, 2014)
Moreover, in 2013, as part of its recruitment of terrorists, Saudi Arabia took the initiative of releasing prisoners on death row in Saudi jails. A secret memo revealed that the prisoners were being “recruited” to join jihadist militia (including Al Nusrah and ISIS) to fight against government forces in Syria.
The prisoners had reportedly been offered a deal — stay and be executed or fight against Assad in Syria. As part of the deal the prisoners were offered a “pardon and a monthly stipend for their families, who were allowed to stay in the Sunni Arab kingdom”.
Saudi officials apparently gave them a choice: decapitation or jihad? In total, inmates from Yemen, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, and Kuwait chose to go and fight in Syria.(See Global Research, September 11, 2013)
Weapons “Made in Canada”
Ottawa’s deal with Saudi Arabia is coordinated with Washington. It essentially serves the Pentagon’s military agenda in the Middle East, it channels billions of dollars to the US military industrial complex..
The weapons are “Made in Canada” produced by General Dynamics Land Systems, London, Ontario., a subsidiary of US defense contractor General Dynamics.
General Dynamics has subsidiaries in 43 countries including Canada.
Ottawa’s official stance is that these weapons which include “combat vehicles with machine guns and anti-tank cannons” are to be used by Saudi Arabia solely for purposes of national defense. They are not be used against civilians.
There are pictures of mothers cradling babies with shallow skulls in Brazil. The Brazilian health authorities have reported more than 3,500 microcephaly cases between October 2015 and January 2016. These babies are badly disabled because their brains are grossly underdeveloped as scans have shown. The Zika virus is considered to be the agent for this catastrophic condition. The focus is on the mosquito as the vector.
I inquired about a garden insecticide two years ago. The powder called Py was made by Vitax. It contained pyrethrins extracted from the pyrethrum flower. With effort, I found it contained a potent synergist, piperonyl butoxide, (PBO) which acts by inhibiting detoxification in the insect’s nervous system. I was very disturbed to read a punctilious study in New York City by Horton et al (1) which showed reduced mental capability measured at 3 years in the children of mothers who had been exposed to this chemical in pregnancy. The mothers were black or Dominican. They living in a low income part of NYC. This chemical was shown to be present in the expired air of these mothers during pregnancy and in their plasma at delivery.
I brought my concerns to the manufacturer but they were brushed aside by the ‘Customer Services Manager’. I had asked that a warning be printed on the pack for women who were pregnant. All that happened was that the Wikipedia entry for PBO was edited to exclude reference to the Horton paper!
Several studies followed. Notable was that by Wang and co workers (2). This exquisite research shows the infinite horizons of today’s science. Their main conclusion was this -
Overall, our study demonstrates that PBO is a Smo antagonist that inhibits the Hedgehog signaling pathway, a critical regulator of stem cell proliferation, organ development and homeostasis, cancer, and central nervous system development. Considering (1) the widespread presence of PBO in the environment, (2) the recent epidemiologic association of PBO exposure with delayed mental development in children, and (3) our findings that PBO inhibits the Hedgehog signaling pathway, the safety profile of PBO needs to be investigated further.
In the last few days, Global Research has posted two relevant papers. Is it Zika ‘Virus’ or Pesticides and Birth Defects? asks Cal Crilly. (3)
Pesticides in Brazil and Pernambuco state are more likely to be the cause of microcephaly and birth defects than Zika virus and the links below speak for themselves.
“The farmers of Brazil have become the world’s top exporters of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry and soybeans. They’ve also earned a more dubious distinction: In 2012, Brazil passed the United States as the largest buyer of pesticides.
The most obvious cause of birth defects in this area is direct contact and absorption of pesticides.
The Zika Virus, the Brazilian Microcephaly Outbreak. Covering-up Another Iatrogenic Disorder – Dr Gary G Kohls. (4)
He questions whether the aluminium adjuvant in vaccines is not the cause. He concludes –
“Rather than (irrationally) calling for a fast-tracked Zika virus vaccine against a benign mosquito virus that is the least likely to be the causative agent, these authorities have kept quiet about the really sensible thing to do until more is known: immediately stop vaccinating pregnant women with neurotoxic substances!”
The causes of microcephaly are many (5). Inherited by gene defect, infection including rubella and toxoplasmosis, lead poisoning, maternal hypothyroidism etc. 7 out of 11 poor women at 11-17 weeks of pregnancy who were irradiated massively by the Nagasaki bomb had little ones with microcephaly. The massive neutron flux from the latter was the cause.
An association between the virus and the failure of the brain to develop, would surely have become obvious over the years given the dramatic appearance and gross mental retardation. It seems unlikely that a virus that was first isolated in Uganda in 1947 is now the cause for this epidemic of deformity and deficiency.
Furthermore, the expression, from all accounts, does not vary. This is the important point. Take into account that the Zika virus disease lasts only a few days. The viraemic phase would hardly be longer. Is the supposed effect of this viraemia on multiplying neural tissue at a varying date in pregnancy, likely to cause this ‘fixed’ expression? One would expect variation in degree if the virus was the cause.
Is it not more likely that a chemical is the cause? It is of great concern that PBO (among other chemicals no doubt) could be recovered from the cord blood of the mothers in the study of Horton et al or in the expired air. If there is poison in the women in Brazil, it will be constantly present in their systems but with some variation of those levels. If an agent, like PBO, is at the bottom of this, that continued presence is highly likely to give rise to a more constant expression of this catastrophe because the ‘inhibitor’ is constantly present around the stem cells.
It is hoped that great skill and energy is put to the study of the chemicals in both the internal and external milieu of these women, as well as studying the Zeka virus and the vector.
Footnote. One example of the chemical contaminants/’residues’ in cereals as detected in the EU. (6)
Dr. David Halpin FRCS is a retired orthopaedic and trauma surgeon. Of course, he had a medical and scientific training but the sophistication of the work by Wang and co-workers is mostly over his head.
Although Shot by Sirhan, Paul Schrade Calls for His Release
On Wednesday morning in San Diego, Sirhan Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Bobby Kennedy, will once again be considered for parole. Sirhan was originally scheduled for release in 1984 but after intense political pressure, his parole date was rescinded and he has since been denied 13 times.
At the hearing, Sirhan will come face-to-face with Paul Schrade for the first time — a close friend of the Kennedy family who, on June 5, 1968, was walking behind the senator when the shooting started.
For over 40 years, Schrade, now 91, has been campaigning to reopen the case, based on eyewitness evidence that Sirhan could not have fired the fatal shot described in Kennedy’s autopsy and an analysis of the only known audio recording of the shooting which indicates that 13 shots — and two guns — were fired.
Schrade plans to tell the parole board that new evidence shows Sirhan shot him and several others — but did not shoot Kennedy. In a short statement released in advance of the hearing, he says:
The LAPD and LA DA knew two hours after the fatal shooting of Robert Kennedy that he was shot by a second gunman and they had conclusive evidence that Sirhan Bishara Sirhan could not and did not do it. The official record shows that [the prosecution at Sirhan’s trial] never had one witness – and had no physical nor ballistic evidence – to prove Sirhan shot Robert Kennedy. Evidence locked up for 20 years shows that the LAPD destroyed physical evidence and hid ballistic evidence exonerating Sirhan, and covered up conclusive evidence that a second gunman fatally wounded Robert Kennedy.
Schrade argues that a closer look at the bullet that hit him proves a second gun was fired and Sirhan could not have killed Robert Kennedy.
As labor chairman of Kennedy’s presidential campaign, he stood beside the senator during his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, on the night of the crucial California Democratic primary that kept hopes of an RFK Presidency alive.
Paul Schrade on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel pantry after the shooting Photo credit: California State Archives
After the speech, Schrade was walking six to eight feet behind Kennedy through a kitchen pantry, en route to a late-night press conference, when the shooting started. The senator stopped to shake hands with some busboys and had just turned to walk forward again when Schrade saw flashes, heard “a crackling sound like electricity” and thought he was being electrocuted by wet television cables. He was hit in the center of the forehead, fell to the floor and blacked out.
Later, he said “I was lucky. If the bullet that hit me in the forehead had been a fraction of an inch lower, I would have been killed instantly.”
The autopsy concluded one bullet passed through the right shoulder pad of Kennedy’s jacket without entering his body, two bullets hit him under his right armpit at a sharp upward angle, and the fatal shot entered one inch behind the ear and penetrated the brain.
Kennedy was hit four times and five others were injured, so the LAPD had to account for how nine shots were seemingly fired from Sirhan’s eight-shot revolver.
LAPD criminalist Dewayne Wolfer’s solution was to claim Sirhan’s second bullet “passed through the right shoulder pad of Kennedy’s suit coat…and traveled upward [at an 80-degree angle] striking victim Schrade in the center of his forehead.”
As Schrade later told author Dan Moldea, the only way a bullet could do this would be “if I was nine feet tall or had my head on Kennedy’s shoulder.” As Wolfer had already accounted for all eight bullets in Sirhan’s gun, this meant a ninth shot was fired, and two more bullets were found in the center divider of the pantry door frame by FBI agent William Bailey within hours of the shooting.
Fired From Only An Inch Away
LAPD criminalist Dewayne Wolfer (left) and L.A. County Coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi (center) trace the trajectories of the bullets fired at Robert F. Kennedy Photo credit: California State Archives
Four shots were fired at Kennedy from behind, and to his right, with the fatal bullet fired from only an inch away.
Eyewitnesses placed the barrel of Sirhan’s gun two to five feet in front of Kennedy, to his left.
Hotel maître d’ Karl Uecker, who was leading Kennedy through the pantry while holding his right arm, insisted he grabbed Sirhan after two shots — and diverted his gun hand away from the senator. Sirhan, his gun hand pinned to a steam table, nonetheless continued to fire wildly. But Uecker insisted that Sirhan could not have fired the four shots that hit Kennedy.
Uecker’s colleague Eddie Minasian confirmed Uecker grabbed Sirhan after the second shot and saw Paul Schrade fall before the senator, suggesting Schrade was actually hit with the first shot.
“It wasn’t that gun”
Frank Burns, an attorney who was standing beside him in the pantry, also had a clear view of Sirhan, and told Dan Rather: ‘It wasn’t that gun.’
As Kennedy lay on the floor and Paul Grieco tried to staunch the flow of blood behind his right ear, the senator looked up and asked, “Is Paul all right?” A photograph taken at the scene shows Schrade’s right shoe by the pool of blood around the senator’s head.
Robert F. Kennedy on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel pantry after the shooting. Paul Schrade’s shoe can be seen in the foreground. Photo credit: California State Archives
In 1993, Dan Moldea interviewed coroner Thomas Noguchi about the sequence of Kennedy’s wounds. Noguchi said the fatal bullet, striking an inch behind Kennedy’s right ear “would have taken him off his feet,” so he concluded Kennedy raised his arm to protect himself after seeing a gun or hearing the first shot, and that the fifth shot was what killed him.
If Uecker grabbed Sirhan’s hand after the second shot, how could the fatal shot have been fired by Sirhan?
Phil van Praag’s analysis of the Pruszynski recording – the only known recording of the shooting – supports two firing positions, in front of and behind Kennedy.
There’s a second-and-a-half pause after the first two shots, giving Uecker reaction time to lunge at Sirhan and grab his gun hand.
Between shots three and four, and shots seven and eight, Van Praag found “double shot intervals” – shot sounds so close together, they could not have been fired from the same gun.
Five shots – numbered 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 – display a “frequency anomaly” which indicates a different gun firing in the opposite direction from Sirhan’s weapon.
Paul Schrade first called for a reinvestigation of Robert Kennedy’s murder in December 1974. Two years later, after he brought a civil suit with CBS News, the firearms evidence was retested but the results were inconclusive.
He led the campaign to declassify the police investigation files on the case, and their eventual release in 1988 exposed Wolfer’s failings and the LAPD’s systematic destruction of evidence.
He recently worked with the Kennedy family to turn the derelict Ambassador Hotel into the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex, but still believes justice has not been served in this case. He will address Sirhan directly at the end of the hearing and is expected to call for his release and a new investigation into Robert Kennedy’s murder.
In March, Sirhan will turn 72 years old, having spent two-thirds of his life in prison for a crime he has consistently said he cannot remember committing.
On the first day of testimony at his trial, Sirhan’s attorney led him through the charges and asked: “Did you shoot Paul Schrade?” “That is what the indictment reads. I must have,” replied Sirhan. “Were you aware of the fact that you shot Mr. Schrade?” “I was not aware of anything.”
For three years prior to his last parole hearing in 2011, Dr. Daniel Brown of Harvard Medical School spent over sixty hours with Sirhan trying to recover his memory of the shooting. Dr. Brown concluded Sirhan’s amnesia for events before and during the shooting was real, but his findings were ignored by the parole board, who noted “some degree of…distrust, quite frankly [in] you remembering parts of this and not remembering others.” They claimed the gaps in Sirhan’s memory show he still lacks remorse and has not accepted full responsibility for his crime.
The parole board is obliged to accept Sirhan’s first-degree murder conviction and only the courts have the power to retry the case. Sirhan’s parole denials repeatedly cite the “RFK must die” automatic writing in his notebooks as evidence of the cold, callous, premeditated nature of the crime, even though Sirhan claims no memory of writing in the notebooks or the shooting itself, and the defense and prison psychiatrists who have worked most closely with him over the years believe both were done in a dissociated state.
Following Sirhan’s parole denial in 2011, his attorneys William Pepper and Laurie Dusek vigorously pursued a habeas corpus petition started by the late Larry Teeter in 1997 and their court filings in their battle with the state of California are now available online.
At the heart of the petition are detailed declarations concerning two major new pieces of evidence developed over the last ten years that crystallise the second gun and Manchurian candidate theories that first emerged in the early seventies.
• Forensic audio expert Phil Van Praag documents his findings that at least 13 shot sounds can be heard on the only known recording of the shooting; and
• A declaration by Dr. Daniel Brown that authenticates both Sirhan’s amnesia and the hypnotic programming that generated the “RFK must die” repetitions in his notebooks and triggered the assassination. In January 2015, the Central District Court of California denied the petition, refusing to grant Sirhan even an evidentiary hearing to assess the merits of this new evidence.
The parole criteria present a number of Catch 22 scenarios for Sirhan. How can you show remorse and insight into the crime when you can’t remember what happened? How can you accept full responsibility for the crime when you’re still contesting the case, and the state’s version of events has been superseded by new exculpatory evidence the court refuses to hear?
Sirhan Sirhan in his jail cell, August 1968 Photo credit: California State Archives
In 1975, the California state legislature moved to introduce fixed sentences and give those on indeterminate life sentences “a date certain” for their release. After deductions for his time in jail during the trial, Sirhan was given a parole date of March 1, 1985.
Other prisoners convicted of first-degree murder had been freed, on average, after 11 years. Given Sirhan’s record of good behavior, they couldn’t justify giving him more time because of who he killed.
The chairman of the panel told the press he was “proud as hell that [they] didn’t search for some bogus reason to deny him…This should prove we don’t have any political prisoners.”
An Exemplary Inmate
With the support of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, I recently published all available transcripts of Sirhan’s parole hearings dating back to 1978. They chart Sirhan’s life in prison over the last 48 years and show he has been an exemplary inmate, with no prison violations since 1972 and an excellent work record.
The earliest progress review hearings from 1978 to 1980 show that while working towards his release date, Sirhan was a straight A student at Hartnell College, going on to obtain an A.A. degree from the less than ideal learning environment of a protective housing unit. He received laudatory commendations from the prison staff and the prison psychologists and the parole panel deducted a further six months for good behavior.
Then came the 10-day parole rescission hearings in 1982 that changed all that and in his closing statement, Sirhan sensed the inevitable:
I sincerely believe that if Robert Kennedy were alive today, he would not countenance singling me out for this kind of treatment. I think he would be amongst the first to say that however horrible a deed I committed 14 years ago, it should not be the cause for denying me equal treatment under the laws of this country.
His parole date was rescinded and Deputy District Attorney Larry Trapp later told the press, “Political assassination in America must never be rewarded by freedom.”
Trapp was the guiding hand behind the rescission hearings and ever-present at Sirhan’s parole hearings in the eighties and nineties. But as William Klaber notes in his book, Shadow Play (St. Martin’s Press, 1997), Trapp made serious factual errors, repeatedly claiming Sirhan began to plot Kennedy’s death on January 31, 1968. He based this false claim on automatic writing Sirhan produced under hypnosis eight months after the shooting in preparation for trial.
In a television interview after the infamous 1985 hearing – when the assembled press accidentally listened in to a jokey three-minute deliberation and heard a member of the parole board discuss transferring Sirhan to another prison and say, “we’ll send his ass down there for as long as possible” – Sirhan made his frustration clear:
This country is governed by the rule of law, it is not governed by terrorist tactics. Now, if you want to deprive me of my rights under your own established rules and your own laws, at least come out and tell me that outright rather than to tell me that you didn’t go to Alcoholics Anonymous programs and on that basis, we’re going to deprive you of your liberty. Tell me that you’re a terrorist and we don’t want you out of our prison, I can live with that. But all these deceptions and devious ways of denying me parole, I don’t think it’s fair.
From 1989 to 1992, Sirhan was chairman of the Alcoholics Anonymous group in his unit, even though before the four Tom Collins cocktails he consumed on the night of the shooting, he had only touched alcohol a couple of times in his life. When the AA meetings clashed with his prison work roster, he had to drop them. And since his relations with the parole board soured in the nineties, he openly questioned why he should jump through hoops for them when they showed no sign of ever granting him parole.
In 1992, the prison guards told Sirhan he had to wear chains and manacles in the hearing room, so both he and his attorney refused to attend. Two years later, Larry Teeter took over as Sirhan’s attorney. His habeas corpus petition was filed two days after the 1997 hearing, in which Sirhan proclaimed his innocence for the first time, based on new exculpatory evidence in Teeter’s petition.
The commissioner almost threw Teeter out of the hearing when he skillfully tried to apply some of this new evidence to Sirhan’s parole criteria. Sirhan was left fuming that his attorney had been repeatedly told to shut up, and subsequently refused to cooperate with the parole board or attend his next three hearings.
The First “Arab Terrorist?”
New York City on September 11, 2001 Photo credit: Comer Zhao / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Then, a month after 9-11, the Washington Post published the following scurrilous leak from the California prison system in its ‘Reliable Source’ column:
The Post’s Petula Dvorak reports that prison authorities in California wonder why Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan shaved his head and requested a television on Sunday, Sept. 9, two days before the terrorist attacks. “These are unusual requests for him; he is usually pretty much isolated and reclusive,” prison spokesman Lt. Johnny Castro told Dvorak. The 57-year-old Palestinian immigrant . . . frequently mails letters to outsiders, and the FBI is probing whether Sirhan’s letters were not monitored because they were written in Arabic. But Sirhan lawyer Lawrence Teeter said his client “was outraged at the terrorist attacks and remarked spontaneously in a letter to his brother he hopes that the people who did this are burning in hell.”
According to Sirhan’s brother Munir, a departing prisoner had given Sirhan his television two days before 9-11. And when the prison guards saw Sirhan watching 9-11 coverage with a towel on his head after a shower, they branded him an Arab terrorist who had foreknowledge of the attacks.
Solitary Confinement for a Year
Prison spokesperson Sabrina Johnson later confirmed they had “documentation” to show that Sirhan was a threat, and he was disciplined accordingly. Sirhan’s brother said this meant “he was thrown into solitary confinement for the next year until we were finally able to prove he was innocent of their claims and get him out. He was allowed out of his cell, I think it was seven minutes twice a week to shower, and he was shackled, hands and legs.”
Later parole hearing transcripts show this episode had a profound effect on Sirhan’s welfare in prison. He stopped cooperating with the parole board and according to psychological reports, became increasingly withdrawn.
Since 9-11, he has been demonised as the first Arab/Islamic terrorist, even though he was raised and still is a practicing Christian. He has never had any ties to terrorist organisations.
In 2011, Sirhan appeared in public for the first time in 14 years, with renewed hope after his sessions with Dr. Brown and the new court filings by Pepper and Dusek but once more, he was denied. Self-help programming options have always been limited in his protective housing unit, so the parole board again touted the AA 12-step program as the best tool to give him insight into his crime and seemed to ignore the insight gained through his three years of sessions with Dr. Brown.
If released, Sirhan would be deported to Jordan, where he claims he would be a danger to nobody. But as The Marshall Project recently discovered in a year-long examination of America’s parole boards, parole decisions are often driven not by public safety but by politics. Since 1982, California has treated Sirhan like a political prisoner who will never be released, not a human being who has served his time and has the right to a fair hearing and the rule of law.
Since Sirhan’s interview with David Frost for Inside Edition in 1989, recorded interviews with inmates have been banned in California, so parole hearings are his only chance to publicly state his case for release. While Court TV covered the 1994 proceeding live, generally Sirhan’s hearings get only the briefest mention on the news but the parole board in California recently banned audio and video recording of the hearings, censoring Sirhan’s voice from the continuing debate about his case. At this rate, the public may never see or hear from him again.
Dr. Shane O’Sullivan is an author, filmmaker and researcher at Kingston University, London. His work includes the documentaryRFK Must Die (2007) and the bookWho Killed Bobby? (2008). He blogs on the Sirhan case at
Featured image: A Palestinian man walks past a newly erected temporary concrete wall that measures around 10 meters in length, in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Ammar Awad – RTS52AL
Translated by Ruti Sinai
In the coming days, a small group of men and women will gather in the office of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The guests, founders of a new movement called Saving Jewish Jerusalem, will present Rivlin with a manifesto detailing their vision for the city. The president, who usually begins radio interviews with the greeting, “Good morning [or evening] from Jerusalem,” will hear their plan for the unilateral separation of part of East Jerusalem.
The principles for such a plan were laid out in an interview that Mazal Mualem conducted with Zionist Camp Chairman Isaac Herzog, published Jan. 22 in Al-Monitor. The interesting new element in Saving Jewish Jerusalem’s plan lies in the list of the nascent movement’s activists. The driving force and most intriguing name on the list is that of former Cabinet minister Haim Ramon.
Ramon had quit politics and lay low after being convicted of sexual misconduct involving a female soldier in 2007. The rest of his friends in Kadima, of which he was a co-founder in 2005 and which has since folded, went their separate ways. Several of his friends in the new group are wondering whether the movement to save Jewish Jerusalem is also intended to save the political career of a man once considered a rising star in the Jerusalem sky.
Saving Jewish Jerusalem’s platform, which will also be presented to the public, calls for handing control of 28 Palestinian villages in East Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The villages in question had been an integral part of the West Bank until Israel annexed them in 1967. Some 200,000 people live in these villages. With the annexation, the Palestinians there were given permanent residency and gained the rights of Israeli citizens, including social security benefits, freedom of movement west of the green line, entitlement to study in Israeli institutions of higher learning and access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, among other things.
Members of the movement contend that the Palestinian villages are massively detrimental to the prosperity of the Israeli capital in terms of security, demographic balance, standard of living and economic well-being. They view the violent incidents in Jerusalem that intensified in September 2015 as underscoring the need to immediately reverse the (erroneous) annexation of the villages to Jerusalem.
The manifesto’s authors explain that by removing some 200,000 Palestinians from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, the city’s Jews will constitute more than 80% of its residents, and the percentage of Palestinians will drop to less than 20%, from the nearly 40% today. Not only that, they stress, revoking the Palestinians’ Israeli residency permits will ease the economic burden these villages impose on the Israeli taxpayer — some 2-3 billion Israeli shekels ($500-$750 million) in revenue and municipal taxes annually. The remaining residents of East Jerusalem, Arabs and Jews, would maintain their current residence and citizenship status.
Saving Jewish Jerusalem also proposes the immediate establishment of a “consecutive security fence” between the “extraneous villages” and Jerusalem. The fence would be linked to the separation barrier dividing Israel and the settlement blocs from other parts of the West Bank. After the villages’ separation from Jerusalem, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and other security agencies would operate in them the way they currently do in the rest of the West Bank. To implement the plan to ensure Jerusalem’s security and its Jewish character, the Knesset, according to the manifesto, will amend the Basic Law Jerusalem, Capital of Israel. The entire plan would be implemented unilaterally, without consulting the Palestinians or obtaining their consent.
One of the founders of the movement, who requested anonymity, told Al-Monitor that a public opinion poll his group had commissioned indicated that 85% of the Jewish public, as well as a significant number of Arabs in Israel, support the separation from the peripheral Palestinian villages. The Zionist Camp’s Herzog, who studied the poll results, was quick to adopt the plan’s principles. “Peace is unobtainable right now, so let’s achieve security so that we can talk about peace,” Herzog said in the Al-Monitor interview. “I met with [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas last August and there, too, I am sorry to report, I didn’t find the courage or leadership skills needed to agree to painful concessions.”
When Herzog emerged from his meeting with Abbas on Aug. 18, he had had quite a different message, however. The opposition leader reportedly said with confidence at the time, “If there’s good will, we can reach an agreement protecting Israel’s security; there is a rare regional opportunity that has arisen in recent months.” He even provided an accelerated timeline of “within two years.” According to Herzog, the opportunity shouldn’t be missed: “It enables support from neighboring countries for a direct diplomatic move between us and the Palestinians,” he said. Herzog also reported that he had promised Abbas that he would keep trying to convince the Israeli public, which was gradually losing faith in peace, of the necessity of such a process and the need to speedily move it forward.
Now, not even six months later, the leader of the opposition has lost his faith in a dialogue with the Palestinians (under the auspices of the Arab League) in favor of unilateral measures. Do experienced political figures such as Herzog really believe that such a dramatic move should be promoted in the powder keg that is Jerusalem without coordination and agreement with the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic sides? Do they not understand that removing the 28 Arab villages from East Jerusalem will be interpreted by the world as perpetuating Israel’s annexation of the other parts of East Jerusalem, including the Holy Basin?
What of the thousands of Palestinians who will find themselves on the other side of the fence, with reduced incomes from the loss of their residency rights, to which they have been entitled for nearly 50 years. Might they seek relief in the recruitment centers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Might they import tunnel digging techniques from the Gaza Strip into the East Jerusalem Shuafat refugee camp en route to the adjacent Jewish neighborhoods?
Another of the plan’s originators, also requesting anonymity, told Al-Monitor, “We know there’s no way that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu will even consider adopting the blueprint. Our main goal is to show the public that there are people on our side who initiate plans rather than sticking to the status quo.” He also said the group is fully aware that the left might tear the proposal and its authors to bits. “That’s our second goal,” he said, half smiling, “to get a kick from the left that will propel us toward the right.”
It is doubtful whether the political movement and its plans will slightly slow the voter drain of the Israeli constituency from the Zionist Camp. It is more likely that they will accelerate the rate of the drain of the Palestinian constituency from Abbas’ shrinking camp.
An article published in the September 2011 edition of the prestigious publication Foreign Affairs suggests that there are Israeli leaders who believe (or at least believed at the time) that there is another, better way to end the conflict with the Palestinians. According to the plan presented in the article, Israel would vote in favor of Palestine becoming a full member of the United Nations. Immediately thereafter, negotiations on a permanent settlement would be renewed with the backing of the international community. The agreement would be based on the parameters laid out by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and expanded by President Barack Obama in May 2011: the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with an exchange of territories and security arrangements. It doesn’t get any better.
This is probably a culmination of nearly a decade’s reviewed study of our history. At some point, beyond the singular stories, cases and arguments, I feel something unequivocal and very generally encompassing needs to be said about our Israeli “miracle”, the manifestation of the Zionist “dream”.
I will not write this in Hebrew, although that would probably have been the most direct idiomatic tool to reach your minds. I will not do so, because I have had enough of dirty laundry recycled amongst us “self-understanding” Israelis. Whilst I write to you, my hopes of change coming from within us Israelis have regrettably declined in the years – and thus, I am also, if not more so, placing my bets upon the involvement of the international community – whose help we need so badly – not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic “understanding”, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix. The attitude which I thus exhibit here is an extremely unpopular one in Israeli and Jewish culture. It is the vein of the “moser” – the one who “snitches” against the “Jewish nation” towards the goyim.
Well, get over it. There are far more serious issues at hand.
I have to tell you first that our evaluation of Israeli history omits so much atrocity from our side. Indeed, much of it is still classified – even back to 1948.
Yes, you may have heard about the Deir Yassin massacre, it is often taught in school books, yet portrayed as an aberration, perpetrated by “extremist”, “rogue” factions before the Declaration of Independence (although the leaders of those extremist factions became our Prime Ministers). But what of the dozens of other massacres perpetrated by – us – in 1948, indeed by the very IDF? Have you read about Al Dawayima, which was apparently worse than Deir Yassin? Yair Auron just wrote about it in Haaretz, I translated and put it out here and on my Facebook page. Go and read. It’s a letter which is out for the first time in full, but it’s no secret as such – excerpts of it have been out for decades – as have many other testimonies and documents, for those who care to seek and look.
When you sum up the systematic mass executions, the many gang-rape cases (which have been slow to be uncovered, because they involve shame on both fronts), the crushing of children’s skulls with sticks, the ripping out of fetuses from their mothers’ wombs – all, and many more, perpetrated by “us”, the “good guys”, the “cultured elite” – often in situations which presented no danger, just out of pure gratuitous sadism and hate for the “Arabs” – then you may begin to realise, that Israel is not in a war of survival, a war of an elite and advanced culture in a “bad neighborhood” of backwards Arab sub-culture.
Let me put it out there, clearly and directly:
We have been acting like animals, with barbarism of a degree which indeed could be, and should be, and has been, compared to those whom we love to hate – the Nazis – whose cruelty is supposed to exonerate ours. As Golda Meir told MK Shulamit Aloni: “After the Holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything.” NO. Damn well not. We’ve used this excuse, with those words or others, together with a systematic cover-up of our own cruelties, since the start. And because we have largely succumbed to our own propaganda in this, we have failed to perceive the historical trace, which, if followed honestly, will show us that we are essentially AT THE SAME PLACE as before – still subjugating, still massacring, still torturing.
This is not a chain of events forced upon us as an inevitable consequence of trying to “survive”. This is nonetheless a predictable outcome of our inherent state-religion – which is not Judaism, as many mistakenly think – but rather Zionism.
We were brainwashed to think that Zionism is our savior. That as Jesus died on the cross for the Christians, our soldiers have died for our country. No – they died primarily for Zionism. “Our country”, as is mostly perceived by us, is not really “our country”. It is the country of so many others, whom we have not only expelled with unfathomable brutality, but whom we also now keep locked up in cages of various forms, shapes and styles, as well as under horrendous Apartheid regime in various degrees – in order to maintain our sacred “demographic balance” – whilst we continue, rather unabated, in our expansion over the “promised land”.
Our occupation did not begin in 1967, neither did our cruelty and crimes. We have established a state on the mass graves of others. This was not forced upon us. Just as Begin said in 1982, concerning the 1967 war “we must be honest with ourselves…we decided to attack.” So must we be honest with ourselves about all of our other portrayals of “self-defense”. Indeed, the whole Zionist venture is essentially portrayed as a “struggle for survival”, a “struggle for self-defense”.
Had we not hidden our crimes so well, so deep, and with so much propaganda “deterrence” rhetoric, it would perhaps be easier to believe our sincerity. On the other hand, when those crimes are exposed for what they are, it also becomes impossible to justify our moral righteousness. Indeed, as the world media became much more instantly transparent, the reality of our crimes became impossible to hide – so we put an extra focus on propaganda – to twist it all into “self defense”. We indiscriminately shelled houses and leveled neighborhoods in Gaza, for “self-defense”. We torture children, for “self-defense”.
Let’s just say it outright: We torture and terrorize the hell out of Palestinians in order to deter them and make their lives so miserable so they will want to leave – or to revenge, which will justify our next blow.
We have created a monster. Who on earth would want to “survive” if this is how “survival” looks? How vile is this “survival” which maintains itself upon the death and destruction of “others”? Indeed, who are those “others”? Are we not really the “others”, who came with our “better knowing” culture to “make the desert bloom”? And as this desert “blooms” with yet another settlement, another fictitious “military zone”, another “expansion” – the people who are there, the “others”, are gradually removed, encircled, or killed.
We Jews have thus created a violent legacy to last for centuries, even if it were to stop now. If all stories were now revealed, all archives declassified (1948, 1967 and all others), it is certain that this Zionist venture would constitute another shocking and substantial chapter of barbarism and cruelty in the annals of world history.
But it is not over – for worse, but also for better. We have the ability to stop it now. No, this does not mean our annihilation, as the propagandist Zionist hysterics would reflexively profess. It is an option, standing before us – to relinquish the reign of exclusivity, to separate the Jewish from the State, and to live in peace, with all the challenges that may face every human and every state.
But WE are not a state. A state is not “people”. A state is a regime, a paradigm of governance. A state may belong to its citizens – but then neither “we” nor Israel constitute a real state. For the State of Israel is the state of those who hold Jewish Nationality – which supersedes their citizenship. And I refuse to be a part of this “we” if that means some ethnic-religious-national mishmash superiority. Does that necessarily mean divorcing Judaism? No, of course not. It simply means divorcing the ostensibly inextricable tie that Zionism has made between itself and Judaism, in monopolising Judaism, using a mafia-style coercion of all those who speak against it, with the (too often) applied ultimate rhetoric WMD– of “anti-Semitism”.
This is a scare tactic that needs to be fought. If we do not rise above the intellectual atavism that this ideology submits us to, we will continue to be committing grave crimes and exonerating them as we go, in the name of this “religion”.
There is a future. Zionism, nonetheless, is a dead-end. I realise that saying these things today, is far, far from consensus, and is in no uncertain ways a recipe for societal exclusion. I’ll take that. I’m already resolved to it. But this is not some prophetic martyrdom that I submit myself to. It is actually the only right path that I see. If you want to hope for a good future with Zionism, at least do the minimum to really see what it has meant for Palestinians. That is, surprisingly, perhaps the easier part. The harder part is to look the horrors in the eye, and then look yourself in the mirror, and see what Zionism has done to you.
Jonathan Ofir is an Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.
African Americans continue to fight for human dignity and self-determination
After the passage of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865, which supposedly eliminated involuntary servitude, a series of Civil Rights Acts were passed by the Congress beginning in 1866.
Prior to the 13th Amendment, President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation which had ostensibly eliminated chattel slavery in the antebellum South beginning on January 1, 1863. However, the Civil War over the secession of the slave-holding states from the Union was far from resolution. It would take another two years for the collapse of the Confederacy to take place.
In the concluding months of the Civil War the question of how the nearly four million enslaved Africans and some five hundred thousand others designated as “free” were to be treated when the states rejoined the country under the leadership of Washington. This was a major cause of concern to ruling interests. Even Lincoln himself was not convinced that Africans should be given full citizenship rights and could perhaps be deported to Africa or Haiti.
As a result of the heroic role Africans played in the breakup of the plantation system and the defeat of the Confederate military, the demand for land and reparations emerged from the advanced ranks of the African resistance forces who were by no means willing to accept a form of neo-slavery after the surrender of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee. Therefore, prior to the issuance of General William T. Sherman’s Field Order No. 15 of January 1865 and other subsequent military, administrative and legislative actions, Africans were seeking to liberate themselves from human bondage and national oppression.
W.E.B. Du Bois in his seminal work entitled “Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880, published during the Great Depression in 1935, reflects on the liberation process initiated by the African people in a chapter entitled “The General Strike” saying: “This was not merely the desire to stop work. It was a strike on a wide basis against the conditions of work. It was a general strike that involved directly in the end perhaps a half million people. They wanted to stop the economy of the plantation system, and to do that [Africans] left the plantations. At first, the commanders were disposed to drive them away, or to give them quasi-freedom and let them do as they pleased with the nothing that they possessed. This did not work. Then the commanders organized relief and afterward, work.” (p. 67)
The chapter continues noting, “The Negroes were willing to work and did work, but they wanted land to work, and they wanted to see and own the results of their toil. It was here and in the West and the South that a new vista opened. Here was a chance to establish an agrarian democracy in the South with peasant holders of small properties, eager to work and raise crops, amenable to suggestion and general direction. All they needed was honesty in treatment, and education. Wherever these conditions were fulfilled, the result was little less than phenomenal. This was testified to by Pierce in the Carolinas, by Butler’s agents in North Carolina, by the experiment of the Sea Islands, by Grant’s department of Negro affairs under Eaton, and by Banks’ direction of Negro labor in Louisiana. It is astonishing how this army of striking labor furnished in time 200,000 Federal soldiers whose evident ability to fight decided the war.”
Sherman met with several African leaders many of whom were minister of churches in Savannah, Georgia to facilitate the transfer of 400,000 acres of land to the formerly enslaved. These developments took place after what was called the “March to the Sea” from Atlanta to Savannah which eventually created the conditions that cleared out the Confederate troops across the coastline of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina including the South Sea Islands.
Radical Republicans in the Congress had already been discussing land redistribution plans aimed at disempowering the planters and creating a political base for their party in the aftermath of the War. Nonetheless, after the assassination of Lincoln and the ascendancy of Vice-President Andrew Johnson to the head-of-state, the Order was nullified and the confiscated land was returned to the former slave owners.
From Reconstruction to Peonage
During the years of 1866-1875, the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were passed along with other Civil Rights legislation. Nonetheless these laws were not enforced with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and other white terrorist organizations which re-instituted conditions that were quite similar to slavery, known as peonage.
Starting with the Federal Hayes-Tillman Compromise of 1876 and continuing through the close of the 19th century, reactionary legislation within the southern state governmental structures largely excluded African Americans from voting and holding public office keeping all political power within the control of the white ruling class. The lynching of African Americans became a routine mechanism of social control aimed at the super-exploitation of Black labor.
Despite the widespread institutionalized repression of the African American masses, resistance movements sprang up through the latter decades of the 19th century through the early 1950s. The Women’s Club Movement; a vibrant independent press; the Niagara Movement, the NAACP co-founded by Du Bois, the UNIA formed by Marcus Garvey, along with the thousands of African Americans who joined the Communist Party and other left organizations between World War I and World War II, represented a continuation of the rebellions initiated during slavery and the Civil War.
Although these efforts mobilized and organized millions of African Americans and their allies there was limited progress over the course of the period after the failure of Reconstruction until the ending of the second world war. After 1945 with the rise of national liberation struggles and socialist revolutions internationally, the movement against racism in the U.S. gained impetus sparking the unprecedented decades of gains after a century of strife.
The Modern Civil Rights Era and the Struggle for Socialism
Starting in 1957 another cluster of Civil Rights legislation was approved by Congress including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. The failure of the Civil Rights Act of 1966 focusing on fair housing suffered defeat amid the rise of the Black Power Movement and urban rebellions.
The Fair Housing Act was not passed until 1968 in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Since the late 1970s through the present period, a series of federal court decisions and failure to enforce existing anti-racist laws, have led to tremendous setbacks for African Americans.
This election year of 2016 is marked by a total absence of discussions and debates by the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates over the status of African Americans and oppressed peoples inside the U.S. Should there be a new push for renewed legislation as opposed to a greater emphasis on mass civil disobedience, boycotts, urban rebellions and general strikes or combination of all of these tactics aimed at total equality and full national liberation? What is obvious is that the present system of declining capitalism and imperialist militarism offers no future for the African American people and the working class in general.
Only the realization of socialism where the people control the means of production will there be any possibility of eliminating racism, national oppression and economic exploitation. There can only be freedom for the oppressed with the expropriation of the ruling class and the radical redistribution of wealth to the working people.
Tim Anderson has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government.
No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation.
This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists. -James Petras, Author and Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
Tim Anderson’s important new book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” discusses US naked aggression – “rely(ing) on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory,” he explains.
ISIS is the pretext for endless war without mercy, Assad the target, regime change the objective, wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.
There’s nothing civil about war in Syria, raped by US imperialism, partnered with rogue allies. Anderson’s book is essential reading to understand what’s going on. -Stephen Lendman, Distinguished Author and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
Professor Anderson demonstrates unequivocally through carefully documented research that America’s “Moderate Opposition” are bona fide Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists created and protected by the US and its allies, recruited and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in liaison with Washington and Brussels.
Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “State sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking.Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Ottawa.
The Dirty War on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. In seeking ‘regime change’ the big powers sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies of ‘Islamists’, demonising the Syrian Government and constantly accusing it of atrocities. In this way Syrian President Bashar al Assad, a mild-mannered eye doctor, became the new evil in the world.
The popular myths of this dirty war – that it is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or a sectarian conflict – hide a murderous spree of ‘regime change’ across the region. The attack on Syria was a necessary consequence of Washington’s ambition, stated openly in 2006, to create a ‘New Middle East’. After the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Syria was next in line.
Five years into this war the evidence is quite clear and must be set out in detail. The terrible massacres were mostly committed by the western backed jihadists, then blamed on the Syrian Army. The western media and many western NGOs parroted the official line. Their sources were almost invariably those allied to the ‘jihadists’. Contrary to the myth that the big powers now have their own ‘war on terror’, those same powers have backed every single anti-government armed group in Syria, ‘terrorists’ in any other context, adding thousands of ‘jihadis’ from dozens of countries.
Yet in Syria this dirty war has confronted a disciplined national army which did not disintegrate along sectarian lines. Despite terrible destruction and loss of life, Syria has survived, deepening its alliance with Russia, Iran, the Lebanese Resistance, the secular Palestinians and, more recently, with Iraq. The tide has turned against Washington, and that will have implications beyond Syria.
As western peoples we have been particularly deceived by this dirty war, reverting to our worst traditions of intervention, racial prejudice and poor reflection on our own histories. This book tries to tell its story while rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, ethical principle and the search for independent evidence.
To understand the complex web of deceit aimed at luring the American people and the rest of the world into accepting a military solution which threatens the future of humanity, get your copy of Michel Chossudovsky’s international bestseller:
America’s War on Terrorism
by Michel Chossudovsky
Our Price: US$17.00
(List price: US $24.95, Canada C$29.95)
In this expanded edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 best seller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”. Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.
The expanded edition, which includes twelve new chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarization of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.
According to Chossudovsky, the “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalization is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.
September 11, 2001 provides a justification for waging a war without borders. Washington’s agenda consists in extending the frontiers of the American Empire to facilitate complete U.S. corporate control, while installing within America the institutions of the Homeland Security State.
“Chossudovsky starts by dispelling the fiction that the US and Al Qaeda have been long-term adversaries. [He] also probes US oil policy, which is obviously of particular concern to George W. Bush. Chossudovsky argues that the US has a much different relationship between Russia and China than is ever indicated in the mainstream (or progressive) press. Simply put, the US is moving into the countries which neighbor Russia and China in order to plunder natural resources and expand the reach of the US Empire. Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been playing a key role in destabilizing the region as well as offering support in other intelligence matters… War and Globalization is full of surprises, even for those of us who consider ourselves well-informed. Chossudovsky is examining the true nature of US foreign policy and arguing that the terrible events of 9/11/01 have changed little of it… Material this provocative and well-researched is ignored by the left at great peril.” - Scott Loughrey, The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel
“Canadian professor of economics Michel Chossudovsky contains that rare gift of a writer who can compile massive documentary evidence, then propound it in a succinct, lucid manner. In this illuminating work the host of the critically acclaimed Global Research website takes widely acclaimed and often repeated media assumptions and sharply refutes them, providing a chronology and road map behind 9-11 and related events… A large part of the book involves a necessary topic area that has been nervously glossed over by conventional American media sources for good reason; it hits too close to home and indicts the largest international energy conglomerates. The author spends much time examining the link between big oil and public policy. In terms of providing vital information, this compact volume provides more valuable information in one chapter than so many contemporary volumes do with many pages on 9-11 and related events… Chossudovsky demonstrates that the frequently repeated and fallacious Bushie shibboleths of getting Saddam before he gets us are rhetorical sallies designed to inflame public opinion by skirting around the important truths that only a few courageous authors such as himself dare reveal… Its bulls-eye clarity cuts through the morass of Bush verbage, daring readers to examine the pure, unvarnished truth of a nation using its military and intelligence capabilities to control the global oil market on the pretext of making the world a safer place.” - William Hare, Florida United States
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In a report published February 3, international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), has denounced the abuses of the Police and the French State under the State of urgency. HRW’s report points to the systematic, arbitrary denials of basic democratic rights by the French police, unchecked by the judiciary under the terms of the state of emergency, and targeting of people of Muslim descent.
“France has carried out abusive and discriminatory raids and house arrests against Muslims under its sweeping new state of emergency law. The measures have created economic hardship, stigmatized those targeted, and have traumatized children.”
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) data, supported by many reports in the French media, attacks on democratic rights are taking place on a vast scale. In over 3,289 warrantless searches of homes and buildings, police SWAT teams and gendarmes have broken in, attacked occupants, hand-cuffed them and assaulted them. They routinely and wantonly damage doors, furniture and people’s possessions, leaving them to repair the damage without any hope of state compensation.
HRW referred to the case of Mr. Alami, a 64-year-old of Moroccan descent who lives with his wife and three of their children. Six policemen broke the door in at 2 a.m. on November 26, 2015:
“They didn’t give us a chance to speak. They pushed me, put my hands behind my back, and put me on the floor, face down. One of them put his knee on my back. I felt like I was being broken in half. I said, ‘You’re hurting me!’ He pulled me by the hair and pushed my head down to the floor, breaking four of my teeth. They searched the apartment until 5:45 a.m., then they asked my wife and me for our identity documents. Their chief said, ‘We’ve made a mistake.’ […] They didn’t apologize.”
Alami said that the warrant was for his daughter, who lives elsewhere with her husband, and whose home was raided at the same time. His front door is still broken, and policemen told him: “It’s the state of emergency. We have the right to break things. We can do whatever we want.”
The state of emergency declared after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris is about to be renewed for a further three months, bringing its total to six and a half months. Prime Minister Manuel Valls has already warned that it will be maintained permanently until the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militia is destroyed—that is, for all practical purposes, indefinitely.
Reports by human rights groups make clear what is at stake with moves to create a permanent state of emergency. It would amount to the creation of a authoritarian regime, in which basic democratic rights are flouted, and the people has no redress if they are attacked or assaulted by police.
The day after the HRW report, Amnesty International (AI) published its own report, “Upturned Lives, The Disproportionate Impact of France’s State of Emergency.” It states,
“This report reviews a number of cases highlighting the flaws in the implementation of emergency measures, in particular house searches and assigned residence orders, and concludes that these measures have been applied in an overly-broad manner and, in some instances, arbitrarily. In particular, French authorities have restricted human rights, and more specifically the rights to liberty, private life, freedom of movement and freedom of assembly, beyond what was strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.
“Moreover, in some instances, the measures were applied in a discriminatory manner. Some Muslims were targeted mainly on the basis of their religious practice, with no evidence pointing to their involvement in any criminal offence.”
AI, like HRW, details many cases of violence, discrimination mainly against the Muslim population by state forces. In one example,
“A member of the association running a mosque in Aubervilliers (Paris region), which was searched on 16 November, said: ‘The search was very violent, for us it was a desecration, it hurt our feelings and it scared us […] The head of the mosque was also put in pre-charge detention afterwards…but no charges were pressed against any of us, there were no concrete elements. That’s the worst… If there were serious suspicions, they would have launched an investigation….but at the moment it’s like we’re being punished for nothing’.”
Another incident was reported by Rue89 in Strasbourg: on Saturday, November 21 at 4 p.m., a Police SWAT team blew open the door to an apartment in Strasbourg. Living there were an 80-year-old man with his 46-year-old mentally disabled daughter. The man jumped up with the sound of the blast and immediately fainted.
He had just returned from being hospitalized for renal failure and a pulmonary infection. The police lifted him up and handcuffed him face down on the floor with his daughter. The two were then put in a room whilst they searched the house. The apartment was devastated; holes were even punched in the ceiling of the home, which had just been refurbished. The man had to return to hospital for 5 days.
The search had been triggered by the interrogation of two of the man’s sons on the way to visit one of the brothers’ wife and daughter in Basel, Switzerland. Though the two were released without charge, Swiss customs reported the interrogation to Strasbourg prosecutor’s office with the man’s address.
The thousands of warrantless searches and hundreds of house arrests imposed since November are having a devastating impact. More than 407 house arrests have been imposed, and HRW reports that as of February 2, 303 were still in force. Such house arrests, which impose reporting to a police station 3 or 4 times a day, make it impossible for people to work. Many have lost businesses or jobs.
Remarkably, while 488 supplementary investigations have been opened pursuant to the searches, none of these are related to terrorism. Only five terrorist-related investigations have been initiated, and 21 investigations for “apology for terrorism” (excusing terrorism), which does not however imply any terrorist activity.
The failure of the mass anti-terror dragnet, operating without judicial restrictions and with the full gamut of mass electronic spying technology at its disposal, to find more than a handful of terror suspects raises serious questions about the police build-up now taking place in France.
After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, intelligence forces and mass spying programs were strengthened with thousands of new recruits. The fact that their activity has turned up only five terror suspects raises the question: what are the real targets of their spying activity?
The six-to-one verdict handed down by Australia’s High Court last week,upholding the Australian government’s indefinite detention of asylum seekers on remote Pacific islands, has far-reaching legal and political implications, not just for refugees but for the working class as a whole.
The majority dismissively rejected a challenge to the constitutional validity of Australia’s “offshore” detention regime on Nauru. The case was brought by a Bangladeshi woman—identified only as M68—who was transferred from Nauru to Australia to give birth to a child in 2014.
All six majority judges based their judgments on legislation pushed through parliament last June by the current Liberal-National government, with Labor’s support, to retrospectively legalise the detention regimes on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.
Before the amendment to the Migration Act, no legislation authorised the detention. Instead, when the previous Labor government reopened the Nauru and Manus camps in 2012 it simply asserted that it had “executive power” under the Australian Constitution to make such arrangements with Nauru and Papua New Guinea or any other designated “regional processing country.”
None of the judges raised any objection to the retrospective amendment, backdated to 2012, even though it was clearly aimed at shutting down M68’s legal challenge, which was already underway.
Moreover, the sweeping amendment aimed to strip all offshore detainees of any right to challenge their imprisonment. The new section 198AHA of the Act gave the government open-ended powers “to take, or cause to be taken, any action in relation to … regional processing.”
As an immediate result of the ruling, 267 men, women and children, in similar situations to the young Bangladeshi mother—suffering serious trauma and health problems or having recently given birth to babies—face being transported back to Nauru.
Throughout their judgments, the judges referred to the refugees only as UMAs (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals)—the official terminology designed to dehumanise them and deny their fundamental right, recognised by international law, to flee persecution and seek asylum.
The ruling sets a new global benchmark for the incarceration of innocent and desperate people in what amounts to Guantanamo Bay-style legal black holes—“offshore” facilities outside the jurisdiction of the courts.
In terms of domestic law, the majority judgments sidestepped previous, limited, constitutional restrictions on arbitrary executive detention. They effectively extended the powers of the state to detain refugees, and potentially other prisoners, without trial, in camps that are directly under Australia’s control, but run by other governments on Canberra’s behalf.
Despite a damning dissent by one judge, the other six members of the court relied on two legal fictions. First, that Nauru, a tiny impoverished former Australian colony of about 10,000 inhabitants, is the sovereign power detaining the refugees, not the Australian government, which orchestrates, finances and polices the detention.
Australian participation in the detention was “indisputable,” according to the joint opinion of Chief Justice Robert French and justices Susan Kiefel and Geoffrey Nettle. Justice Stephen Gageler conceded that Australia “procured” the detention of asylum seekers on Nauru through its contractors, which exercised physical control over them. Justice Virginia Bell held that Australia “exercised effective control.”
Despite these undeniable facts, the majority judges concluded, employing legal sophistry, that as soon as the Bangladeshi woman was forcibly transported by the Australian government to Nauru, she was “thereafter detained in custody under the laws of Nauru, administered by the Executive government of Nauru.”
Justice Michelle Gordon’s sole dissenting judgment demolished this claim in detail. She listed 12 facts demonstrating that, in reality, the Australian government “detained the plaintiff on Nauru.” She cited the presence in the camp of uniformed Border Force officers, Canberra’s supply of “security infrastructure,” such as perimeter fencing and guard posts, and the provision of “garrison services” by an Australian government contractor, Transfield. Under its agreement with Nauru, the Australian government also retained the right to terminate the arrangement and “step in” and take over the Nauru Regional Processing Centre (RPC).
“The acts and conduct of the Commonwealth [Australia] just set out demonstrate that her detention in the Nauru RPC was ‘facilitated, organised, caused, imposed [or] procured’ by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth asserted the right by its servants (or Transfield as its agent) to apply force to persons detained in the Nauru RPC for the purpose of confining those persons within the bounds of the place identified as the place of detention, the Nauru RPC. To that end, the Commonwealth asserted the right by its servants or agents to assault detainees and physically restrain them.”
The second legal fiction was that detention on Nauru is simply for the purposes of refugee visa processing, and therefore not “punitive.” That fiction was critical because “punishment” can be imposed constitutionally only by a judicial trial.
In reality, the previous Labor government of Julia Gillard reopened the Nauru and Manus camps in 2012, for the explicit purpose of punishing asylum seekers in order to deter others from trying to reach Australia. The Labor government refused to put any time limit on detention. It insisted on a “no advantage test”—namely, that refugees would be detained for the same length of time that other asylum seekers were forced to wait to be processed in refugee camps in Africa or the Middle East. That could mean detention for up to 20 years.
This intent was embodied in the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Nauru’s government. It specified the need for “a disincentive against Irregular Migration” and to ensure that “no benefit is gained through circumventing regular migration arrangements.”
Yet, in the words of Justice Patrick Keane, another member of the majority, this deterrence was just an “intended consequence,” not the “immediate purpose” of the transportation of refugees to Nauru, and therefore not “punitive.”
By means of the two legal fictions, the judges evaded even the minimal limits on refugee detention set out in the court’s 1992 Chu Kheng Lim v Minister for Immigration decision, which rubberstamped the mandatory imprisonment of all asylum seekers introduced by the Keating Labor government. In the Limcase, the court permitted the indefinite detention without trial of “aliens” (the Australian Constitution’s term for non-citizens), on the reactionary basis that it was “reasonably necessary” for visa processing or deportation.
Australia’s constitution has no bill of rights, but it contains a separation of powers between the executive, parliament and the judiciary. Because of that, the Lim ruling said “punitive” detention—beyond that necessary for processing or removal—would be illegal, unless ordered by a court.
Last week, however, the majority judges said these constraints did not apply to detention on Nauru because the Australian government no longer detained the refugees once they had been transported there. According to French, Kiefel and Nettle: “ Lim has nothing to say about the validity of actions of the Commonwealth and its officers in participating in the detention of an alien by another State.”
Only Justice Gordon objected, pointing out that the contract with Nauru meant extending the “aliens” power of the federal government to permit “offshore” detention that would be unlawful within Australia. This, she said, presented “a fundamental question about the power of the Parliament to provide for detention by the Commonwealth outside Australia.”
None of the judges, including Gordon, called into question the underlying framework of repelling or incarcerating refugees. All accepted as “undoubted” the Australian government’s legal power to forcibly remove the refugees to Nauru.
Four members of the court went further. They indicated that offshore detention could be constitutionally valid under the vague “executive power” of the government, even without the specific retrospective legislation adopted last June. But because of that amendment, the current government’s continued assertion that it possessed such executive power, over and above statutory provisions, was now “hypothetical” or not “necessary” to be decided, they stated.
Only Gageler, a member of the majority, joined Gordon in rejecting the government’s claim of non-statutory executive power. After a lengthy discourse on the importance of habeas corpus (no detention without judicial process), however, Gageler effectively backed the use of the retrospective amendment to overturn the principle. Despite the indefinite character of the detention, he asserted—without explanation—that its duration was “capable of objective determination by a court at any time and from time to time.”
By means of such pseudo-legal justifications, the judges further evisceratedhabeas corpus, which dates back to the Magna Carta of 1215 and became a critical principle in the 17th and 18th century struggles against arbitrary imprisonment by the absolute monarchies.
Confronted by widespread public revulsion to the ruling, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government might ultimately decide, for purely electoral reasons, to allow some of the 267 refugees to remain in Australia. But more than 2,000 detainees will remain on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, and Australia’s entire anti-refugee regime will stay in place, sanctioned by the High Court.
Successive Australian governments, Labor and Liberal-National alike, have made asylum seekers and immigrants scapegoats for the worsening social conditions being imposed on the working class. Some of the world’s most vulnerable people, many fleeing wars unleashed by the US and its allies, are being subjected to ever-more cruel and lawless imprisonment, setting precedents for wider use, not only in Australia but around the world, against growing opposition to war, austerity and repression.
Featured image: Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi, who attempted to prevent the 66th destruction of the village in 2014
The Israeli occupation authorities have told the Palestinian owners of homes destroyed by security forces to pay the demolition costs, Safa news agency reported on Sunday. Israeli magistrates sat in a special session in Be’er Sheva on Sunday to consider the case filed by the Israeli authorities versus the Palestinians living in the village of Al-Araqeeb.
Al-Araqeeb is an old Palestinian village in the lands occupied by Israel in 1948. Since then, successive Israeli governments have refused to recognise the village, which means that it is not connected to local public services. It has been knocked down by the Israelis 92 times and the authorities are demanding that the residents pay the costs of the demolitions. An amount of 2 million New Israeli Shekels (around $515,000) is being demanded.
This was the cost of just one demolition, on 27 August 2010. Residents face the prospect of having to pay much more in respect of the other occasions when the Israelis have destroyed their homes.
In addition to Al-Araqeeb, there are 40 other Palestinian villages facing the same fate.
Featured image: The Clean Up The Mines! team gathers at Riley Pass, South Dakota. Activist Charmaine White Face is in the foreground. (Photo: Ellen Davidson)
It’s hard to miss the water contamination that residents in Flint, Michigan, are experiencing. Television footage shows family members holding bottles of yellow, orange or brown water. They could see and taste the change in their water quality shortly after Gov. Rick Snyder ordered the switch to supply water from the polluted Flint River, rather than Lake Huron, without adding anti-corrosives to prevent leaching from lead pipes in early 2014. Thanks to a few dedicated researchers from Virginia Tech, the elevated lead in Flint’s water has been exposed.
Since national attention has turned to Flint, information from other cities is coming to light showing similar problems. Sebring, Ohio, is one city where residents have been warned not to drink the water because of elevated lead levels. And it was recently revealed that there are high levels of lead in water in Jackson, Mississippi, even though the results of the tests were available six months ago.
In Flint, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not inform the public about the high lead levels in the water when they learned about it, even though the state provided bottled water to public employees. The governor also reconnected General Motors to Lake Huron when they complained, just a few months after the transition in early 2014. The state knew, but continued to allow toxic water – which qualified as “hazardous waste” by EPA standards – for Flint residents without telling them.
Not talked about, perhaps because it is harder to see, is a national water contamination crisis that has been going on for decades. It is invisible and tasteless and the mainstream media won’t cover it. This contamination is caused by the United States’ secret Fukushima, radioactive and other heavy metals leaking from the more than 15,000 abandoned uranium mines, as well as other sources related to energy extraction throughout the United States.
Measuring radiation levels at an elementary school in Ludlow, South Dakota, April 2014. (Photo: Klee Benally)
We need a national public health mobilization to assess all drinking water sources in a transparent way and a plan to protect the health of residents and the future of our water supply. Water should be tested for radioactivity, as well as for heavy metals such as lead. In addition, the toxic byproducts of our dirty energy system are another of many compelling reasons why we need to transition rapidly to a cleaner, sustainable green energy economy.
The Biggest Nuclear Accident You’ve Never Heard About
Most people in the United States know about the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in March 1979. Although the official reports stated that an “insignificant” amount of radiation was released (this understatement has since been refuted), it is called “America’s worst nuclear accident.” Very few people know about the actual worst nuclear accident in the United States, which happened three months later in Church Rock, New Mexico. Perhaps this is because it mostly impacted people of the Navajo (Diné) Nation.
On July 16, 1979, the wall of a tailings pond for a uranium mill broke open and released 93 million gallons of radioactive waste into the Arroyo Pipeline, a tributary to the Puerco River. The waste traveled 80 miles down the Puerco River into Arizona. Not only is it amazing that this spill was not reported in the media, but it is also remarkable that the governor of New Mexico refused to issue a state of emergency. It took days for people who live along the Puerco River to be told about the accident, and though they were warned not to use the water for themselves or their livestock, they were not given access to sufficient clean water.
To this day, people who live downstream from the mill drink water that is polluted by uranium and other radioactive and heavy metals. Tommy Rock, cofounder of Diné No Nukes and a doctoral student at Northern Arizona University, has been testing the water that people around Church Rock, New Mexico, drink. He is finding high levels of uranium in some of the wells – even wells that are regulated and supposed to be tested routinely.
Tommy Rock, of Diné No Nukes, meets with US Department of Agriculture staff in January 2016. (Photo: Klee Benally)
One of the wells that showed levels of uranium at twice the maximum limit serves the Sanders Unified School District in northern Arizona, which has a thousand students. The community did not know about the high uranium content until Rock informed them.
“State and federal regulators knew about the contamination for years, and our community is concerned about the long-term chronic exposure to uranium because we have been consuming this contaminated water without being notified,” said Sanders resident Tonya Baloo, a member of the Diné people.Now Rock is working with the Sanders community to find clean water.
There are roughly 1,000 abandoned uranium mines in and around the Navajo Nation, and very few of them have been cleaned up. None of them have been taken care of adequately. Klee Benally, who lives in Arizona and coordinates the Clean Up The Mines! campaign, calls it “toxic landscaping.” Benally adds that the Gold King Mine spill, which polluted the 215-mile segment of the San Juan River that flows through the Navajo Nation last August, further compels the urgent need to clean up abandoned mines before they destroy more rivers with toxic waste.
Uranium is the radioactive metal that is used to power nuclear plants and to make nuclear weapons. When it is mined, 85 percent of the radioactivity is left behind in the waste rock. That waste and exposed ore continue to emit radiation for hundreds of thousands of years. As the uranium breaks down to become lead in its final form, it also releases radon gas, which causes lung cancer. Exposure to uranium and other radioactive metals by drinking contaminated water, breathing contaminated dust or eating food produced in contaminated areas causes cancer, birth defects, kidney disease and autoimmune diseases. Children and the elderly are most affected. These mines are located in the breadbasket of the United States, which provides food to the country and many parts of the world.
When the Clean Up The Mines! campaign was launched nearly two years ago, we toured abandoned uranium mines in South Dakota with Klee Benally and Charmaine White Face of Defenders of the Black Hills. Many of the abandoned mines are open pits. One that we visited was very close to an elementary school in Ludlow, South Dakota. We measured high levels of radiation – over 150 counts per minute in the playground area.
White Face has been working for years to raise awareness of the radioactive contamination in the Great Sioux Nation, which includes North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and parts of Nebraska. She has asked for studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but has been denied because she was told there aren’t enough people in the area. However, she is certain that people are being impacted. Communities close to the mines suffer high cancer and miscarriage rates.
Like Tommy Rock, White Face has also been testing drinking water and is finding high levels of uranium as well as thorium, a radioactive metal not regulated by the EPA. The composition of the uranium shows that it is coming from the abandoned mines rather than being naturally occurring. Despite the contamination, communities continue to drink the water because they have no choice. This has been going on for decades.
Klee Benally chants in front of the Environmental Protection Agency in January 2016. (Photo: DC Indymedia)
Recently, White Face, Rock and Benally traveled to Washington, DC, with other Indigenous people from the Southwest and Northern Great Plains to sound the alarm about radioactive pollution. They call themselves the “miner’s canary” because they are trying to alert the public about the impacts of this national problem. In addition to the 15,000 abandoned uranium mines, there are other sources of radioactive pollution that are not being monitored.
The largest coal mine in the United States, the Black Thunder Mine in Wyoming, provides 40 percent of the nation’s coal. Its uranium-laced coal is shipped both to the East and the West, where it is burned in power plants and turned into radioactive coal ash. Fracking is another concern, because the wastewater from fracking wells in the Bakken oil and other shales bring radioactive metals up from deep underground. This wastewater is held in open ponds, is sometimes discharged into waterways and is sprayed on roads during ice and snowstorms.
A National Problem That Needs a National Solution
Charmaine White Face at Red Shirt Village press conference. (Photo: Jill Stein)
The solution to the water contamination crisis requires an urgent public health response. Water must be tested regularly for contaminants, including radioactivity; the public must be notified immediately when there are concerns; and clean drinking water must be provided when public water is not potable, no matter the size of the affected population. Sources of contamination must be cleaned up.
This may sound like a lot to require, but consider the flip side. Governor Snyder in Michigan changed the water source for Flint in order to save money. However, the result of that decision will be much more expensive than doing the right thing from the start. The state has already authorized $28 million to address the problem. Flint’s mayor says it will cost up to $1.5 billion to replace the city’s aging pipes. Expensive medical care will be required for the 6,000 to 12,000 children who have been exposed to lead poisoning. Altogether, it is estimated that this crisis will cost $10 billion.
One of the problems exposed by the Flint water crisis is the inadequacy of water testing and notification systems. Some municipalities meet their clean water requirements by conducting tests that violate EPA guidelines. They only test areas that are known to be clean or flush out the pipes prior to testing. According to the Guardian, “A report published [in 2015], commissioned by the American Water Works Association, found that if the water was tested directly from lead pipes, up to 96 million Americans could be found to be drinking water with unsafe levels of lead.”
Another problem is that utilities conduct their own testing without adequate oversight by local EPA regulators. It is a scenario that is seen all too often in the United States: close relationships between regulators and the entities they are supposed to regulate that lead to lax oversight.
An EPA task force issued recommendations in 2015 on lead and copper monitoring in water. Those recommendations have not yet been adopted. That needs to be expedited. And there needs to be a task force that will test water for radioactivity and issue rules to protect the public from radioactive pollution in water.
Tommy Rock reports that the standard for radioactive pollution in water is higher than what was originally recommended because utilities didn’t want to have more stringent requirements, and they are pushing to raise the maximum allowable levels for radioactive pollutants to be higher. This must be prevented; as Physicians for Social Responsibility reports, “There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period.”
Steps must also be taken to stop the leaking of uranium and other radioactive metals into water, and that means cleaning up the thousands of abandoned uranium mines. Legislation is being drafted that would require a single high standard of clean up for the mines. You can learn more about that bill and how to support it at CleanUpTheMines.org.
Access to Water Is a Public Good
Warning at Riley Pass mine. (Photo: Jill Stein)
Clean water is a necessity. People cannot survive without access to water. There are many threats to our water system beyond contamination, such as the climate crisis, overuse and privatization. Water is quickly becoming our most precious resource, one that needs to be managed in a holistic way so that there is enough water to meet everyone’s basic needs.
As physicians, we are concerned about the future of our water supply. The Flint water crisis should provoke a public debate at the national level about the best ways to protect clean water, including what type of water infrastructure is required and how water is owned and managed.
With the reality of the climate crisis upon us, corporations view water as a commodity that will increase in value. In 2013, almost 70 percent of water systems in the United States were privately owned. A report by Food & Water Watch shows that private water companies charge higher prices and cut corners, such as using poor construction materials and not hiring sufficient staff. Privatization of water must be prevented and reversed because corporations do not treat water as a public good, but as a profit center for their investors.
The invisible crisis of radioactive metals in our water raises the question of the impacts of fossil fuel and nuclear energy extraction on our water quality and availability. The extractive energy industry is one that consumes tremendous amounts of water and pollutes it with chemicals and radioactive metals. This means that protecting our fragile water future also means transitioning rapidly to a clean and green carbon-free and nuclear-free energy economy.
We need a national plan to manage this precious necessity, clean water. That includes an integrated approach to preserve and protect clean water in a way that involves coordinated but decentralized decision-making, transparency and participation by local communities. We will need to conserve wetlands, manage agricultural use, reduce water demand and reuse water. We can no longer take clean water for granted. These crises are a wake-up call to create a 21st century water policy that treats water as a public good, not a commodity for corporate profit.
This article was first published by Truthout
Margaret Flowers, M.D., is a Maryland pediatrician seeking the Green Party nomination for the US Senate. She is co-director of PopularResistance.org and a board adviser to Physicians for a National Health Program and is on the Leadership Council of the Maryland Health Care Is a Human Right campaign.
Jill Stein, M.D., is a Massachusetts internist seeking the Green Party nomination for the presidency. She was the 2012 presidential nominee of the Green Party. She is an internationally known public health advocate and a former co-chair of her state’s Green Party.
Now that the Iran nuclear deal is being implemented, it is perhaps time to ask, what does it mean for Iran, for other nations in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), for Israel, for the United States of America, for Europe? What does it mean for the world as a whole?
With the lifting in mid-January 2016 of years of crippling economic sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, Iran is now able to trade openly with the rest of the world including exporting its oil. Both the Iranian government and private companies are purchasing goods and equipment from abroad. Iran is also now re-connected to the international financial system. All this hopefully will strengthen the Iranian economy and improve the standard of living of the people.
As Iran embraces the international financial system, it should be cautious about embarking upon massive privatization, deregulation, and liberalization, accompanied by the elimination of essential subsidies, as demanded by certain global financial institutions and actors — in short pursuing a “neo-liberal” agenda — which invariably works to the detriment of the majority of the populace. The Rouhani government should ensure that some of the pillars of post-1979 Iran such as people’s cooperatives and Waqf (bequeathal) enterprises remain at the forefront of the planned economic transformation, albeit with fundamental changes aimed at enhancing professionalism and curbing corruption.
How will these economic changes impact upon Iranian politics? If the lower and middle classes benefit significantly from the post-nuclear deal economic scenario, it is conceivable that the reform oriented Rouhani government will become politically stronger but as it is the conservative forces linked to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are still quite formidable. This is why one of their organs, the 12 member Guardian Council has been able to exclude thousands of candidates from contesting the Majlis (parliamentary) election and the election to the 88 member Assembly of Experts expected at the end of February 2016.
One of those aspiring for a seat in the powerful Assembly of Experts which not only monitors the Supreme Leader but also picks his successor who has become a victim of the power play of the conservatives is Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hassan is known to be close to former President, Muhammad Khatami, the charismatic icon of the reform movement.
In fact, Khatami himself continues to be subjected to various restrictions engineered by the conservatives, including a ban on the use of his picture in the state media and orders prohibiting him from speaking at public universities. Two reformers who stood for the controversial 2009 Presidential Election, former Prime Minister Hossein Mousavi, and former Parliamentary Speaker, Mehdi Karroubi, are still under house arrest. Though conservative, authoritarian structures and personalities hold sway at this juncture, the post nuclear deal environment may yet help the seeds of change to bear fruit faster than many think.
Turning from Iran to WANA, the immediate reaction of Iran’s adversary, Saudi Arabia, to the nuclear deal has been to assert its power. The intensification of its bombing in Yemen and its execution of the respected Saudi Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, on 2nd Jannuary 2016 — in spite of advice from its own allies to refrain from such action against a peaceful dissenter — show a determination to flex its muscles whatever the consequences. Qatar, like most of the other Gulf monarchies, is also lukewarm towards the nuclear deal. Turkey however has formally welcomed the deal.
The attitude of most of Iran’s neighbors may have a lot to do with what a number of them perceive as Iran’s growing influence and power in WANA. After the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Shia majority Iraq in 2003, a Shia leadership has emerged in Baghdad which in spite of Washington’s patronage, does not conceal its deep religious and even political attachment to Tehran. At the same time, the concerted often clandestine attempt by the US and Israel, later aided by Britain and France and abetted by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to oust Bashar Al-Assad through arms in the wake of a small uprising in Daraa in 2011, actually strengthened Iran’s hand in Syria as the latter became more dependent upon the former for military and economic assistance. The Syrian conflict also reinforced Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah, the dominant political actor in Lebanon which is also fighting on behalf of Assad. By the same token, the armed Saudi suppression of the popular majority Shia revolt against the Bahraini ruling elite in 2011, drew the Bahraini Shias closer to their fellow religionists in Iran. Even in Yemen, it is Saudi intervention to protect the ruler against a complex network of dissenting groups with different agendas that has persuaded some of them to gravitate towards Iran.
Expanding Iranian influence in WANA, it is apparent, is the consequence of circumstance and situation often ignited by the political maneuvers of others which in some instances had ironically undermined their own interests. Of course, some Iranian leaders have also taken advantage of these situations. The upshot of it all is a changing political landscape in which Iran is a significant actor especially in those states with an important Shia element. Faced with this reality, some Sunni governments in the region led by Saudi Arabia fear that the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions will enable Iran to exercise even more clout and threaten its neighbors.
While there is no justification at all for such fears, Iran would do well to assuage this negative sentiment towards it. ‘Iranophobia’ assiduously cultivated by the Saudi elite in particular which at its root is about Saudi power is intertwined with the Sunni-Shia dichotomy, and an Arab-Persian divide. These two schisms especially the former stirs deep emotions in much of the Muslim world. This is why the Iranian leadership should tread carefully, holding on to its principles in confronting this irrational fear and yet displaying flexibility manifested through skillful diplomacy — as it has illustrated in the negotiations leading up to the nuclear deal.
In approaching the Sunni-Shia challenge, the present Iranian government should perhaps take a leaf from Imam Khomeini’s book. He tried to bridge the chasm between the majority Sunnis and minority Shias globally through certain historical and contemporary events that could bring them together. The commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday was one such instance. Al-Quds Day which he inaugurated — the last Friday of Ramadan is now dedicated to the liberation of Jerusalem from Israeli Occupation — was another such occasion.
Within WANA, there is another actor that is also fiercely hostile to the nuclear deal. This is WANA’s only nuclear-armed entity. The Israeli elite’s antagonism to the deal has been much more organized than Saudi’s. Since Iran from the days of Khomeini has been a committed champion of the Palestinian cause, steadfast in its opposition to Israeli occupation and Zionism, Israel has always viewed Iran as a foe. Even when there was no evidence to indicate that Iran was developing nuclear weapons, Israeli intelligence manufactured so-called ‘data’ to prove to the world that Iran posed a nuclear threat to Israel and the rest of the region. This is why it went all out to try to stop the US and other Western powers from coming to an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.
Though it failed, Israel has not ceased to try to wreck the deal. Immediately after sanctions were lifted, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “Iran has not relinquished its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons and continues to —spread terror throughout the world”. Netanyahu is hoping that a new US President at the end of the year will reverse the nuclear deal. It is worth noting in this regard that the Republican frontrunners in the Presidential race are totally against the deal and are vehemently opposed to any rapprochement with Iran.
The United States
The organized, sustained opposition of a segment of the Washington political elite is something that Iran will have to take into account in the implementation of the deal. The longstanding relationship between policy-makers and lobbyists in Washington, on the one hand, and Zionist interests and Israel, on the other, is part of the explanation. In recent years Christian Zionists in the US have played a major role in reinforcing and perpetuating this relationship. Their role today is perhaps more significant than that of the conventional Jewish interest groups which in any case were split on the nuclear deal with some of them endorsing it as an effective mechanism for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. For that reason the deal, they argued, will keep Israel safe. This was also one of President Barack Obama’s main arguments for pushing for Congressional endorsement of the deal. He also argued that the US’s Arab allies notably Saudi Arabia would feel secure if Iran is stripped of its ability to acquire nuclear weapons.
Some of the other reasons for the deal have not been so publicly ventilated. The US leadership cannot ignore the fact that Iran today is a significant player in a region where US interests are entrenched. As we have shown, from Syria, to Iraq, to Lebanon, to Bahrain, to Yemen, Iran is a force to reckon with. It is also quite conceivable that Washington realizes that its special relationship with Israel, on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, on the other, has its minuses. Backing a bellicose Netanyahu blindly does not always serve the US agenda in WANA. Similarly, a Saudi elite that is deeply embroiled in sectarianism and terrorism can sometimes be an embarrassment.
The changing power balance in WANA is one of the reasons why the European Union and most European states warmly welcomed the nuclear deal. A more compelling factor would be the economic benefits that they hope to reap from an Iran that is open to trade and investments. Iranian President Rouhani has already visited Italy and France and forged a whole range of business deals with both countries. One can expect the Iranian government to do the same with other European states in the near future. There will be obstacles. Influential Zionist lobbies exist in both Britain and France but they do not wield the sort of power that the Christian Zionists command in the US.
There are other countries too from China and Russia to India and Brazil that will also feel the impact of an Iran that is free to trade and interact with the world. But Iran’s ties with them were never problematic which is why they are not on our radar screen.
We are now in a position to draw some important conclusions from our reflections on the post- Iran nuclear deal scenario.
One, the impact of the deal upon Iranian politics and to a lesser extent the Iranian economy is still unclear though it has the potential to wrought significant changes.
Two, while the deal has intensified conflicts in WANA, the changing political landscape also offers hope: a more influential Iran may be in a position to address issues such as the Sunni-Shia divide and thereby reduce friction in the region.
Three, since the deal circumscribes Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons — an aspiration which the leadership has always maintained was never its goal given the Islamic prohibition against such weaponry — Iran should now be in the forefront of a vigorous campaign to ensure that WANA becomes a nuclear weapons free zone in every sense of the term in the shortest possible time.
Four, since Iran together with the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany managed to resolve one of the most contentious contemporary issues in international politics through diplomacy, and in the process, succeeded to avert war, Iran should now take the lead in tabling a resolution at the UN General Assembly banning war forever as a means of settling bilateral, regional and international disputes. War would then be regarded as a crime against humanity.
Five, when war is viewed as a crime against humanity, military arsenals everywhere should also be dismantled. A massive global disarmament movement should be initiated with citizen groups from every nook and cranny participating. It should not be forgotten that disarmament was the revered goal of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the sixties and seventies. Iran is the current Chair of NAM. Shouldn’t disarmament become one of the principal aims of NAM once again?
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
The echoes of both Bear and Lehman are growing louder with every passing day.
Just hours after Deutsche Bank stock crashed by 10% to levels not seen since the financial crisis, the German behemoth with over $50 trillion in gross notional derivative found itself in the very deja vuish, not to mention unpleasant, situation of having to defend its liquidity and specifically assuring investors that it has enough cash (about €1 billion in 2016 payment capacity), to pay the €350 million in maturing Tier 1 coupons due in April, which among many other reasons have seen billions in value wiped out from both DB’s stock price and its contingent convertible bonds which are looking increasingly more like equity with every passing day.
DB did not stop there, but also laid out that for 2017 it was about €4.3BN in payment capacity, however before the impact of 2016 results, which if recent record loss history is any indication, will severely reduce the full cash capacity of the German bank.
Ad-hoc: Deutsche Bank publishes updated information about AT1 payment capacity
Frankfurt am Main, 8 February 2016 – Today Deutsche Bank published updated information related to its 2016 and 2017 payment capacity for Additional Tier 1 (AT1) coupons based on preliminary and unaudited figures.
The 2016 payment capacity is estimated to be approximately EUR 1 billion, sufficient to pay AT1 coupons of approximately EUR 0.35 billion on 30 April 2016.
The estimated pro-forma 2017 payment capacity is approximately EUR 4.3 billion before impact from 2016 operating results. This is driven in part by an expected positive impact of approximately EUR 1.6 billion from the completion of the sale of 19.99% stake in Hua Xia Bank and further HGB 340e/g reserves of approximately EUR 1.9 billion available to offset future losses.
The final AT1 payment capacity will depend on 2016 operating results under German GAAP (HGB) and movements in other reserves.
The updated information in question:
As a reminder, the last time serious “developed market” banks had to publicly defend their liquidity, the result was a multi-trillion taxpayer bailout.
However, there is probably some time before that happens: first German regulator Bafin will likely ban short selling in Deutsche Bank shares. That always is the first step in the endgame.
For now, however, the market is no longer asking questions but merely selling: Deutsche CDS has entered the dreaded “viagra” formation at 245 bps and going vertical.
Hundreds of oil workers from a state-owned petroleum corporation in the West African state of Ivory Coast walked off the job in a three day strike on February 2. They were protesting against the lay-offs of nearly 10 percent of the firm’s employees.
Some accounts of the situation say that as many as 200 workers could lose their jobs out of work force of approximately 600 employees. Company officials are offering a severance package which has been rejected by the union representing the workers.
Reuters press agency reported that “Petroci offered to pay 10 dismissed managers six months of their salaries while the 40 other laid-off employees were to receive eight months. However, a member of the company’s management said the union was demanding 20 months.” (Feb. 5)
“That’s not possible. We don’t have all that money,” a company official told Reuters without revealing their name.
Workers at Petroci announced after three days of striking on February 5, that they would extend the industrial action for another 72 hours hoping that their demands would be met. The company is a relatively small oil and natural gas producer but controls 36 percent of petroleum distribution along with 30 filling stations.
Petroci has joint operations with companies engaged in production and exploration operations as well as manages a base for logistical support for offshore production blocks. The union, SYNTEPCI, represents employees from 16 companies in addition to Petroci.
Efforts are underway by the union leadership to win the cooperation of other workers who could be called upon to strike out of solidarity. These other entities include the state-owned Societe Ivoirienne de Raffinage (SIR), which manages a refinery with the production capacity of 65,000 barrels per day. Other logistical firms and fuel retailers are also involved in Ivory Coast such as the French-based Total.
Geremie N’Guessan Wondje, secretary general of the SYNTEPCI union said on February 5, “Next week we will intensify the strike and see if other employees from other companies in the sector join the Petroci employees in this strike.” (Reuters)
Ivory Coast is suffering from the overproduction of oil globally which is impacting other developing states in Africa as well. After substantial foreign direct investment in the oil and natural gas exploration industries, prices have drastically declined driving down currency values and bond prices in so-called emerging economies not only on the continent but in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America as well.
A website focusing on oil and gas production said of the country that is the world’s largest producer of cocoa and a significant coffee grower that “Cote d’Ivoire lies on the West Africa Transform Margin, which has yielded oil discoveries in the multi-hundred-million-barrel range in its neighbor Ghana to the east. Cote d’Ivoire has set a goal of producing 200,000 booed by 2020, more than three times the current 60,000 boe/d.” (info.drillinginfo.com, Nov. 6, 2014)
In the aftermath of the war of regime-change led by France resulting in the overthrow former President Dr. Laurent Gbagbo and the installation of the current leader Alassane Ouattara, multi-national oil and gas firms began to increase their investments in production. President Ouattara was a former functionaries of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) based in Washington, D.C.
This same above-mentioned website declared “New mining contract terms were recently implemented and earlier this year the UN lifted its ban on Cote d’Ivoire diamonds. The prime minister also said he expects the boundary issue with Ghana to be ‘peacefully resolved’ in short order. On the oil and gas front the petroleum code was amended in 2012, while improvements were made to both the Production Sharing Contract model and the governance of the hydrocarbon sector. Investment credits are now offered for explorers in deep and ultra-deep waters, and 20 PSCs have been awarded since 2011.”
Imperialism and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
This oil workers’ strike is taking place while former left-leaning President Laurent Gbagbo and youth leader Charles Ble Goude are standing trial in the Netherlands in front of the controversial and pro-imperialist International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
Gbagbo and Goude have pleaded not guilty to a host of charges which their defense lawyers say have no merit. The leader of the Popular Front of Ivory Coast (FPI) is the highest-ranking government official ever tried by the ICC.
The court has been heavily criticized by the regional 54-member African Union where a proposal for withdrawal from the so-called Rome Statute, since its application has proven to be biased against Africa where all of the cases have been centered with the exception of Georgia, remains before the continental body. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta presented the proposal related to the ICC after a case against him collapsed due to lack of evidence.
Illustrating the incompetency of the ICC, the names of witnesses which may be called in the trial against Gbagbo were inadvertently released to the press complicating further the political atmosphere surround the legal proceedings. The Court claims that the protection of the identities of witnesses is essential to the process of their prosecutorial conduct.
An article published by Agence France Press (AFP), notes on February 5 “a closed session of Gbagbo’s crimes against humanity trial was mistakenly broadcast on the court’s public channel,” and that this incident “will be investigated”, according to the ICC’s director of public information Sonia Robla.
The AFP reveals that a “clip of the hearing (was) widely circulated on social media including on YouTube, showing ICC Judge Cuno Tarfusser calling for the trial to go into a closed session at the request of lead prosecutor Eric MacDonald. But the microphones are left open and MacDonald can be heard saying that he wanted to raise the issue of witness protection.”
This incident on February 5 was not the first of its kind in the trial. On February 3, the prosecution’s initial witness, labelled “P547,” accidentally blurted out his name later indicating that he would be testifying on behalf of the prosecution.
Soon enough ICC Judge Tarfusser suspended proceedings and ordered reporters not to utilize the witness’s name. Journalists were then required to give their names to ICC security agents.
Reeling from pressure generated by criticisms from inside the AU and other organizations, the western-installed current President Ouatarra has told his French counterpart Francois Hollande that there was no need for any other Ivorians to be tried by the ICC. Ouattara said that the country was capable today of handling its own legal issues.
During the course of a brief visit to Paris, Ouattara told Hollande, “The ICC has played the role it should. Coming out of the electoral crisis, we did not have justice, the country was completely in tatters … Now we have a justice system that is operational and has begun to judge everyone without exception.” (Africanews.com, Feb. 5)
Nonetheless, the wife of Laurent Gbagbo, Simone, was sentenced to 20 years in prison under conditions that were biased and legally questionable. Simone Gbagbo, the former first lady of Ivory Coast, is a political figure in her own right having served as the President of the Parliamentary Group for the FPI.
First lady Gbagbo was arrested alongside the former president in April 2011 by gendarmes in the capital of Abidjan led by French paratroopers occupying the country to maintain its colonial interests. She was tried and convicted of “undermining state security” for defending the country against the western-backed seizure of power.
Although Ivory Coast has been lauded for its foreign direct investment from the capitalist states, economic problems persists prompting industrial unrest. The trial of Gbagbo could serve to destabilize the state since the former president maintains broad support inside the country.
Americans may have a reason not to trust New Hampshire as the barometer it has become for the viability of presidential candidates. The reason? Doubts about the security of the state’s voting system.
Historically, the New Hampshire primary has been extraordinarily significant in the selection of presidential candidates. A good performance here can catapult contenders to the front of the field while a bad one has brought the campaigns of one-time frontrunners to a screeching halt.
The people of New Hampshire are aware of the important role they play. Taking into account the Granite State’s size and population, no other group of Americans gets to know the presidential candidates better. In this election cycle, Republican candidates visited New Hampshire more than 300 times and spent nearly 600 days there.
But in spite of the state’s significance, it seems that New Hampshire’s government is not doing all it can to ensure the integrity of their “first-in-the-nation” primary.
These discrepancies may have perfectly legitimate explanations. In 2008, a partial recount on the Democratic side uncovered nothing suspicious. On the Republican side, Romney and the big business policies he promoted might be expected to do better in cities than in rural districts.
Without Checks, Foul Play Cannot Be Ruled Out
Yet without further investigation foul play cannot be ruled out. After all, New Hampshire often holds the keys to the kingdom for nominees, and voting machines have notoriously bad security. With billions of dollars now being spent on presidential elections — and with the ultimate power in the land at stake — would it be surprising if a campaign or a Super PAC or other interested party tried to gain an advantage through tampering with voting machines?
And that’s why concerned citizens of the Granite State are petitioning their government to make some simple fixes that could ensure this important primary is won by the candidate who actually receives the most votes. However, the state government does not appear to be responsive to the concerns of its citizens. Why?
“We have a duty to our state, the country and even the world to get the count right in New Hampshire,” Deborah Sumner, who has been an activist on this issue for nearly a decade, told WhoWhatWhy. “Our system lacks the checks and balances that the people of New Hampshire deserve as well as the candidates.”
A Simple Solution
The solution, Sumner and others claim, is simple. If all jurisdictions with voting machines would do a parallel hand count, then there would be no doubt about the outcome.
Wally Fries, a former election moderator for the city of Danville, pioneered this type of verification method. He explained to WhoWhatWhy that the parallel hand count simply consists of cross-checking the results in a few select races. If the hand count for this sample matches the machine result, then election officials can be virtually certain that no foul play is involved.
“All machines are subject to error,” said Fries, who managed engineers for a living and therefore has a lot of expertise in the area. That is why, during his 25 years as election moderator, he set out to create a verification protocol that is virtually foolproof.
“I wanted to create a mechanism so that voters could have complete confidence,” he said.
In fact, all election moderators in New Hampshire have the right to order this type of verification. Or at least they used to, according to a 2010 directive that gave moderators broad discretion to initiate procedures they deemed necessary to ensure a fair count.
Recently, Sumner and others charge, state officials have discouraged some jurisdictions from using the parallel hand count.
Last year, residents of the city of Keene even sent a letter to Stephen LaBonte, the assistant attorney general in charge of election law, asking if the 2010 directive was still valid. LaBonte never responded. He also did not reply to an inquiry from WhoWhatWhy.
This unresponsiveness is one of the many reasons Sumner lacks faith in the state’s voting system. She feels too many officials value the convenience that voting machines provide over the accuracy of a hand count verification. She does have faith in the moderators, however.
A Firewall against Tampering
Elected by their local jurisdiction, New Hampshire moderators play a crucial role in the primary process, which represents an important stream of revenue for the state. Moderators put in long hours during election season and get paid next to nothing, Peter Webb, a moderator and attorney, told WhoWhatWhy.
Prior to the election, they test the voting machines and count the ballots received from the state. “Election Day is at a minimum a 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM shift, without break, for the volunteer election workers,” Webb said. Among their responsibilities are ensuring that all laws are adhered to, that the seals of the voting machines haven’t been broken, that only registered voters with the right type of ID cast ballots, that write-in votes are counted and, at the end of the day, that the numbers add up and that the ballots are boxed, sealed and safeguarded.
“We have conducted random arbitrary hand counts in the past and in each case determined that our machine count was accurate,” said Webb. “I don’t believe that [after their long day] the election officials have either the physical energy or remaining cognitive capacity to then hand count all the ballots to verify the results. An army of fresh volunteers might… do so, but practical realities such as the availability of volunteers, time constraints, human error, purity of the process, the need for finality can make that impractical.”
Fries, however, noted that even in his large jurisdiction, the parallel hand count never took more than an hour and it allowed all involved to go home knowing that the election had been properly conducted.
Everyone WhoWhatWhy spoke to for this article praised the many Granite State election volunteers. Sumner pointed out that they all swear an oath of office on Election Day. “The computer has not taken an oath and the people programming it have not,” she added.
Without the cross-checking process of the parallel hand count, Sumner believes the New Hampshire vote can be manipulated.
“It’s easy to exploit a New Hampshire election,” she told WhoWhatWhy. For example, memory cards in the machines could be switched out or software could be written in a way that allows an AccuVote machine to function perfectly during the pre-election test but then to skew the results of the actual voting.
Sumner likened this to the Volkswagen software that allowed cars to perform one way during emissions tests and another when on the road.
She would also want ballots to be made available to the public before the actual voting but Fries does not agree. In the smaller jurisdictions in New Hampshire, pre-balloting would make it too easy for a large employer to instruct employees to vote a certain way and mark their ballots so that their boss would know they had done as told.
Barring a parallel hand count, Sumner says she cannot be certain that the vote will be clean. To do her part, she has alerted the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Rand Paul of potential problems. Only Clinton’s people got back to her. Still, Sumner hopes that the others are putting pressure on New Hampshire officials through back channels.
When asked what would be a red flag for her that the voting had been rigged, she said: “If Bush pulls an upset.”
Featured image: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands after a news conference after a UN Security Council meeting on Syria at the United Nations in New York on 18 December, 2015 (AFP)
The major developments on the Syrian battlefield in recent months have brought a corresponding shift in the Obama administration’s Syrian policy.
Since the Russian military intervention in Syria upended the military balance created by the victories of the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and its allies last year, the Obama administration has quietly retreated from its former position that “Assad must go”.
These political and military changes have obvious implications for the UN-sponsored Geneva peace negotiations. The Assad regime and its supporters are now well positioned to exploit the talks politically, while the armed opposition is likely to boycott them for the foreseeable future.
Supporters of the armed opposition are already expressing anger over what they regard as an Obama administration “betrayal” of the fight against Assad. But the Obama policy shift on Syria must be understood, like most of the administration’s Middle East policy decisions, as a response to external events that is mediated by domestic political considerations.
The initial Obama administration’s public stance on the Russian air campaign in Syria last October and early November suggested that the United States was merely waiting for Russia’s intervention to fail.
For weeks the political response to the Russian intervention revolved around the theme that the Russians were seeking to bolster their client regime in Syria and not to defeat ISIS, but that it would fail. The administration appeared bent on insisting that Russia give into the demand of the US and its allies for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad from power.
But the ISIS terror attacks in Paris focused the political attention of Europeans and Americans alike on the threat from ISIS terrorism and the need for cooperation with Russia to combat it. That strengthened the position of those within the Obama administration – especially the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA – who had never been enamored of the US policy of regime change in the first place. In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, they pressed for a rethinking of the US insistence on Assad’s departure, as suggested publicly at the time by former acting CIA director Michael Morell.
The political impact of the Paris attacks has now been reinforced by the significant gains already made by the Syrian army and its allies with Russian air support in Latakia, Idlib and Hama provinces.
The bombing and ground offensives were focused on cutting the main lines of supply between the areas held by ISIS and the Nusra-led coalition and the Turkish border, which if successful would be a very serious blow to the armed opposition groups.
Dramatic successes came in late January, when Syrian government troops recaptured the town of Salma in Latakia province, held by al-Nusra Front since 2012, and the strategic al-Shaykh Maskin, lost to anti-Assad rebels in late 2014, thus regaining control of Daraa-Damascus highway. Even more significant, the Syrian army has cut off the lines of supply from Turkey to Aleppo, which is occupied by al-Nusra and allied forces.
By the time Secretary of State John Kerry met with the head of the Syrian opposition delegation, Riyad Hijab, on 23 January, it was clear to the Obama administration that the military position of the Assad regime was now much stronger, and that of the armed opposition was significantly weaker. In fact, the possibility of a decisive defeat exists for the first time in light of the Russian-Syrian strategy of cutting off the supply lines of the al-Nusra front.
What Kerry told Hijab, as conveyed to the website Middle East Briefing, reflected a new tack by the administration in light of that political-military reality. He made it clear that there would be no preconditions for the talks, and no formal commitment that they would achieve the departure of Assad at any point in the future. He was unclear whether the desired outcome of the talks was to be a “transitional government” or a “unity government” – the latter term implying that Assad was still in control.
The armed opposition and its supporters have been shocked by the shift in Obama’s policy. But they shouldn’t be. The administration’s previous Syria policy had been based in large part on what appeared to be a favourable political opportunity in Syria. As described by Washington Post correspondent Liz Sly’s official US source, the policy was to put “sufficient pressure on Assad’s forces to persuade him to compromise but not so much that his government would precipitously collapse….”
The Obama administration had seen such an opportunity because a covert operation launched in 2013 to equip “moderate” armed groups with anti-tank missiles from Saudi stocks had strengthened the Nusra Front and its military allies. American Syria specialist Joshua Landis estimated last October that 60 to 80 percent of the missiles had ended up in the hands of the Nusra Front in Syria.
Those weapons were the decisive factor in the Nusra-led Army of Conquest takeover of Idlib province in April 2015 and the seizure of territory on the al-Ghab plain in Hama province, which is the main natural barrier between the Sunni-populated area inland and the Alawite stronghold of Latakia province on the sea. That breakthrough by al-Nusra and its allies, which threatened the stability of the Assad regime, was serious enough to provoke the Russian intervention in September.
But given the new military balance, the Obama administration now recognises that its former strategy is now irrelevant. It has been supplanted with a new strategy that is equally opportunistic. The idea now is to take advantage of shared US-Russian strategic interests regarding ISIS – and downgrade the objective of forcing a change in the Syrian regime.
A signal fact of the war against ISIS in Syria that has been ignored in big media coverage is that the United States and Russia have been supporting the same military forces in Syria against ISIS. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) the leading party in Syrian Kurdistan, controls a large swath of land across northern Syria bordering Turkey. Its military force, the Peoples Defence Units (YPG), has been the most significant ground force fighting against ISIS.
But the YPG has also fought against al-Nusra Front and its allies, and has made no secret of its support for Russian air strikes against those forces. Moreover, the PYD has actively cooperated with the Syrian army and Hezbollah in northern Aleppo province. It is both the primary Syrian ally of the United States against ISIS but also a strategic key to the Russian-Syrian strategy for weakening al-Nusra and its allies.
US NATO ally Turkey has adamantly opposed the US assistance to the PYD, insisting it is a terrorist organisation. The United States has never agreed with that, however, and is determined to exploit the strategic position of PYD in the fight against ISIS. But that also implies a degree of US-Russian cooperation against the main armed opposition to the Assad regime as well.
The Obama administration is no longer counting on a military balance favourable to the armed opposition to Assad to provide a reason for concessions by the regime. Whether military success against the armed opposition will be decisive enough to translate into a resolution of the conflict remains to be seen. In the meantime, the Syria peace negotiations are likely to be at a standstill.
-Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.
Riled by a meeting between a US official and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which controls the Syrian town of Kobane, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Washington to choose between Turkey and, as he put it, the “terrorists.”
A delegation featuring Brett McGurk, the United States’ envoy to the coalition it leads against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), met the YPG over the last weekend in January. The YPG took full control of Kobane late last June, in what was a powerful symbol of Kurdish resistance.
“He [Brett McGurk] visits Kobane at the time of the Geneva talks and is awarded a plaque by a so-called YPG general?” Erdogan told reporters on his plane while returning from a trip to Latin America and Senegal, the Beser Haber newspaper reported.
“How can we trust [you]?” Erdogan said.
“Is it me who is your partner, or the terrorists in Kobane?” the Turkish president said, adding that both the PYD and the YPG are “terrorist organizations.” Ankara considers them to be part of the PKK, banned in Turkey as a terrorist group.
According to US officials, the trip appeared to be the first of its kind to northern Syria since 2013. It took place after the YPG’s political wing, Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), was excluded from new peace talks in Geneva. Ankara had threatened to boycott the talks if the PYD were invited.
The conflict between the Turkish government and Kurdish insurgent groups demanding greater autonomy for the large ethnic group has been continuing for decades. With several failed ceasefires between the sides, Ankara has been blamed by a number of human rights groups for putting civilian lives at risk in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.
In August, Ankara launched a ground operation to crack down on Kurdish fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The violence ended a two-year truce with Kurdish militants fighting a guerrilla war for independence.
“Turks have a phobia of Kurds because they are scared of their Turkish Kurds, some 20 million of them living in Turkey,” Abd Salam Ali, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party’s representative to Russia, told RIA Novosti, adding that “Kurds have interfered with Erdogan’s plans in Turkey.”
“Islamic State has military bases in Turkey, and is using it as a corridor. Turkey currently plays a role similar to the one Pakistan played in the 1980s. When the Soviet forces were stationed in Afghanistan, jihadists arrived there through Pakistan, along with the money and arms,” Abd Salam Ali noted.
“Now Turkey is exactly the same corridor [for militants in Syria], and it plays its own game. But Kurds appeared to stand in [Ankara's] way. They have forced IS away from Rojava [also known as Syrian Kurdistan]. There’s only one piece left, a 90km-long territory between the Kurdish towns. If we force IS out of there and reconnect the Kurdish cantons, Turkey won’t be able to influence [the situation in Syria].”
Late last month, President Erdogan once again refused to search for a peaceful solution to the conflict, which began back in 1984 and has taken at least 40,000 lives, mainly Kurds. He pledged that “those with guns in their hands and those who support them will pay the price of treason,” referring to the Kurdish militants, deemed terrorists by the government.
According to Turkey’s General Staff, the number of PKK members killed during military operations in the southeastern districts of Cizre and Sur reached 733 on Sunday. But according to Amnesty International estimates, at least 150 civilians, among them children, have been killed during the Turkish operation, with more than 200,000 lives put at risk.
Turkey’s security operations in the mainly Kurdish southeast resemble a “collective punishment,” the human rights watchdog said last month. Amnesty slammed the international community for choosing to turn a blind eye to what Ankara has been doing to the Kurds.
“While the Turkish authorities appear determined to silence internal criticism, they have faced very little from the international community. Strategic considerations relating to the conflict in Syria and determined efforts to enlist Turkey’s help in stemming the flow of refugees to Europe must not overshadow allegations of gross human rights violations. The international community must not look the other way,” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program Director, pointed out.
Up to 21 academics were detained by Turkish authorities in mid-January for signing a petition demanding that Ankara abandon its military crackdown on Kurdish rebels in the southeast of the country. The petition denouncing Turkey’s military operation against Kurds was signed by as many as 1,200 academics. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they all sided with the Kurdish militants, who are considered terrorists by the government. “Unfortunately these so-called academics claim that the state is carrying out a massacre. You, the so-called intellectuals! You are dark people. You are not intellectuals,” he stated.
February 9th, 2016 by Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB)
The beginning of 2016 is marked by the announcements of a “cataclysm”, expected to happen this year on the stock markets. What is different now compared to 2008 is that, this time, it is not some contrarian analysts who say so (the way LEAP did in its early publication of GEAB in February 2006) and who launch these alerts. It is the high ranking institutions which shout out loud: BIS, Fed (through Richard Fisher’s voice of the Dallas Federal Bank), the IMF, and some very important banks: Société Générale, RBS and UBS. These actors have thus joined the other analysts, like us, who denounce the creation of this financial bubble even more inflated than the previous one, and a Western economic recovery which is not even real.
Yet, as soon as the heart of the system broadcasts this anticipation, it is infinitely more likely not to happen than when marginal players say it. Remember, the paradox of a successful anticipation relies in the fact that it should not happen, since a collectively anticipated problem is a solved problem. Still, are the alerts launched by the heart of the system real anticipations, or more like simple descriptions of factual situations? In the same way, repeating after us, Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Bank of Dallas says: “We are out of ammunition.”
According to our team, the panic which seems to worry the major operators of the “western system” is too late to support a smooth transition, but their avowed awareness still allows anticipation of radical changes within the crisis management strategies made by an “establishment” which will tighten its ranks.
Unfortunately, the lack of imagination of this “establishment” particularly allows the introduction of protectionist measures. The tendency of hardening is to combine with another trend, which we have often spoken about in the first half of 2015: unlike 2008, the creation of a new system is an operation advanced enough to allow us to anticipate that instead of an outright collapse into nothingness, the 2016 crisis will primarily correspond to a “hard-landing” in a new reality to which big players of the old reality will try willy nilly to adapt. This adaptation attempt will nevertheless require them to take some tactical retreat.
Timeline of a Financial Crisis
January 13th, the indicators show a widening deflationary storm, like a barometer: the GSCI Commodity Index : 284.7 (the lowest value since 2004); the Baltic Dry Index : 402 (the lowest value since 1985, creation date of the index!);
the Chinese central bank has been emptying its dollar foreign exchange reserves since June 2014 to a continuous rhythm of 37 billion dollars a month, which is quicker than it initially filled it; the Saudi central bank is in the same situation; the central banks of Brazil, Japan and Russia, the BoE or the ECB see their reserves decrease, even if the rhythm is slower. The most important states holding dollar debts are selling dollars simultaneously.
Monthly evolution of foreign exchange reserves in China, 1980-2015; source: tradingeconomics
Is the financial crisis coming from China?
This is the analysis encountered in all mainstream media. First of all, let’s compare the index of the Chinese stock market and the evolution of the Dow-Jones, over a period of two years…
Featured image: Albright, a fanatical advocate for genocidal sanctions and bombing campaigns, is in no place to lecture young women on “feminism.”
I am writing as a working woman, feminist, socialist, and candidate for President of the United States, and I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms the outlandish attacks by Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright on any woman working in support of the political campaign of Bernie Sanders. This attack, particularly on young women who are supporting Sanders in such large numbers, is a shameful and opportunist attempt to use the historic struggle for women’s rights for the narrowest political gains.
In a desperate attempt to reverse the growing support among young women and men for her opponent in the Democratic Party primaries, Hillary Clinton has enlisted the support of notorious war monger and advocate of mass murder, Madeleine Albright.
As Clinton looked on laughing and clapping, Albright told the media on February 6: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
If indeed there were such a “special place,” Madeleine Albright would most assuredly be going. And going along with her would be candidate Clinton.
As UN Ambassador and the Secretary of State in the Bill Clinton regime, Albright was a fanatical advocate of the genocidal sanctions blockade that killed more than a million women, children and men in Iraq, and of the 1999 U.S./NATO bombing war against Yugoslavia.
On May 12, 1996, nearly six years into the U.S./UN sanctions, Albright was interviewed on CBS “60 Minutes” by Lesley Stahl, who had just returned from Iraq, about the impact on the Iraqi population:
Lesley Stahl: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”
Albright’s astoundingly flippant answer was nothing less than a confession to one of the most horrific war crimes in history, indicting not just herself but all the leaders of the Bush I, Clinton and Bush II administrations who were fully aware of the lethal impact of sanctions on the people of Iraq.
In 1999, Albright played a key role in the war on Yugoslavia, engineering the failure of the negotiations that preceded the war. Albright presented the Yugoslav government with an “agreement” that would have allowed NATO to forces to occupy the entire country, with the unheard of provision that Yugoslavia would pay for the expenses of the occupation!
After the talks broke off, a “top official” (Albright) told reporters in an off-the-record session: “We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They need some bombing, and that’s what they are going to get.” When the Yugoslav government predictably rejected the ultimatum disguised as a “proposal,” the bombing began and continued for three months.
Thousands of civilians were killed, wounded and made homeless. As was true in Iraq, the entire population was traumatized, with women and children most severely impacted.
Like the assault on Iraq, the attack on Yugoslavia was a war crime, a “crime against peace,” the most serious of all violations of international law, a war of aggression against another state that poses no threat to the country launching the war.
According to her own words, Hillary Clinton joined in the war chorus: “I urged him [President Clinton] to bomb.”
In 2003, Senator Clinton supported invasion and occupation of Iraq. In 2011, as Secretary of State, she was chief advocate in the Obama administration in calling for the bombing war that killed, wounded and displaced unknown numbers of Libyans and devastated the country.
After the torture and murder of Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi, Clinton laughingly told a CBS interviewer: “We came, we saw, he died.”
Albright and Clinton thus share much in common both with each other and their far more numerous murderous male counterparts in the top levels of the U.S. imperialist state machine. That they who have worked to destroy the lives of so many millions of women would now presume to lecture young women on “feminism” and attempt to shame them into supporting Clinton is a despicable travesty.
For decades the US has sought to stitch together a united front stretching from Central Asia, across Southeast Asia, and even into East Asia itself to encircle and contain China.
From the 70 year occupation of Japan, to the Korean and Vietnam wars, to the 15 year occupation of Afghanistan, to political meddling and attempted regime change in Southeast Asia up to and including today, the United States has invested untold of sums in its bid to maintain what US policymakers openly call American “primacy” in Asia.
The most recent manifestation of this policy of encirclement and containment has focused prominently on Southeast Asia, both through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, and the US’ sponsorship of an ongoing South China Sea dispute.
A summit with Southeast Asian leaders that US President Barack Obama is hosting later this month is “not anti-China”, a State Department official said.
The meeting will bring leaders from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) at the Californian resort of Sunnylands on February 15-16.
It is the same venue where Obama and President Xi Jinping held an unusually informal summit in 2013. This time, however, China is not invited.
However, several lines down, AFP admits:
The US administration has focused on bolstering Asean as a counterpoint to Chinese regional power.
AFP then mentions the ongoing conflict in the South China Sea:
Several Asean states are embroiled in an increasingly bitter spat with China over disputed territory in the South China Sea.
AFP admits that US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Daniel Russel has this “bitter spat” in mind as the summit nears:
“This is a direct challenge to the question of whether the countries in the region and the claimants in the South China Sea, and particularly China… would be guided by the universal principles and the rule of law.”
And of course, it is the United States who has declared itself arbiter in all maters regarding “universal principles and the rule of law.” In fact, the chief justification the United States cites regarding its continued presence in Asia Pacific is the perceived need of its military and political might to preserve international “rule of law,” even as it tramples such principles both in Asia, and worldwide.
The upcoming summit is most certainly anti-China – at least from Washington’s point of view – but the “cruising altitude” Assistant Secretary Russel claims is being achieved in the region by American foreign policy may be more wishful thinking than actual, tangible gains.
Sino-ASEAN Tensions Prodded Along by Washington
For the US to claim its intentions in Southeast Asia have nothing to do with China, but then to showcase its only apparent success, the continued dispute in the South China Sea with China, is the first indication of just how deeply in trouble US foreign policy is in the region.
It claims that “several ASEAN states” are embroiled in the dispute, but upon closer examination it is revealed that the United States itself is spurring these confrontations on, even going as far as assembling US-led legal teams to represent nations like the Philippines in international cases brought up against Beijing. Such moves are then followed by incensed op-eds in Western newspapers complaining about how half-hearted nations like the Philippines appear to be regarding the dispute, despite America’s stalwart backing.
In other instances, the US has attempted to coerce nations into joining the dispute – most notably Thailand – who, after ousting US-backed dictator Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006 and his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014, has repeatedly refused to become involved, and instead, has bolstered ties with Beijing in a series of economic and even military deals that have invited both covert terrorism aimed at Bangkok, as well as open condemnation and political meddling by Washington.
In 2015, the NATO-terrorist organization, the “Grey Wolves,” were implicated in a bombing in downtown Bangkok that killed 20, mostly Chinese tourists, after Bangkok extradited several suspected terrorists back to China who were en route to Turkey and eventually onward to the battlefield in Syria. Along with Western-backed terrorism, Bangkok has suffered from ongoing campaigns aimed at undermining both its tourist and export industries.
Indonesia has also been targeted by an array of political and terroristic attacks from Western-sponsored NGOs and militant groups as Jakarata increasingly drifts away from Western influence, and toward at least a more balanced relationship with Beijing.
Likewise, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Laos have all become pivotal battlegrounds where economic pressure, political meddling, and terrorism have been employed by the West to coerce politicians to abandon strengthening ties with Beijing, and in hopes of hamstringing a growing number of pan-Asian infrastructure projects initiated by China ranging from roads and rail, to dams, ports, and pipelines.
In exchange, the US has only entangling military commitments, domineering “free trade agreements,” and constraining political requirements to offer its potential “allies” in the region.
Talk is Cheap, But Necessary to Buy Time
The terrorist-economic-political front opened up against states across Southeast Asia for their unwillingness to “rebalance” the region hand-in-hand with Washington is probably why most ASEAN states are attending the otherwise provocative US-ASEAN summit in the first place.
It is unlikely they will bring with them anything more than the most minimal amount of lip-service required to prevent more bombings, political sedition, and further economic warfare from being aimed at them both individually and collectively.
In the meantime, the summit can be a reminder to Southeast Asia of just how important it is to find alternatives to America’s “primacy” in Asia – requiring both stronger ties with China, and stronger ties with other nations beyond Washington’s influence to balance both China’s growing power and Washington’s dangerous desperation as its power wanes.
The summit also serves as impetus for each respective nation in ASEAN to look within themselves to find new sources of economic and political strength.
Washington’s many policymakers have increasingly admitted all they can do is buy time in Asia and that the rise of China is inevitable. Their “buying time” at the expense of Southeast Asia’s prosperity and stability will leave a dominant China with weakened neighbors exhausted from years of attempting to fulfill Washington’s doomed containment strategy.
Instead, Southeast Asia must rise with China to ensure a more balanced geopolitical equation exists when all of Asia reaches the top, together. This cannot be done within the confines of Washington’s containment strategy. An alternative must be found, and it will not be found amid any US-ASEAN summit.
Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.
You might assume that such statements are over-the-top … or that the results come from partisan pollsters.
But a group of Republican and Democratic pollsters and political strategists reviewed polling data last week, and revealed some stunning results:
84% of all Americans believe political leaders are more interested in protecting their power and privilege than doing what is right
81% percent believe the power of ordinary people to control our country is getting weaker every day as politicians of both parties fight to protect their own power and privilege
80% believe the federal government is its own special interest primarily looking out for itself
79% of all voters believe we need to recruit and support more candidates for office, at all levels of government, who are ordinary citizens, rather than professional politicians and lawyers
78% believe that the Democratic and Republican Parties are essentially useless in changing anything, because both political parties are too beholden to special interests to create any meaningful change
76% of Americans agree with the statement that America cannot succeed unless we take on and defeat the corruption and crony capitalism in our government
75% believe that the US government is NOT working for the people’s best interest
75% believe that powerful interests have used campaign and lobbying money to rig the system for themselves
74% see the biased and slanted coverage of the media as part of the problem
72% of Americans believe the U.S. has a two-track economy, where most Americans struggle every day, where good jobs are hard to find, and where huge corporations get all the rewards
72% believe that the reason families in our middle class have not seen their economic condition improve for decades and economic growth is stalled is because of corruption and crony capitalism in Washington
71% believe our government is not only dysfunctional, it is collapsing right before our eyes
70% believe the government in Washington does not govern with the consent of the people
The majority – 56% – say they wish there were a third party with a chance of success to fight for their interests
Only 15% say the “values and principals of my political party are so important that I strongly prefer to vote for the candidates of my party…”
The country [is] in a prerevolutionary moment.
This election could mark the beginning of the end of two-party duopoly in the United States.
The people believe the real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between mainstream America and the ruling political elites of incumbent politicians, lobbyists, big business, big unions, big banks, big special interests and the big media. [The people are correct.]
The power elite asks, “When will this be over?” Although this is seen as a chaotic and temporary situation by most of the political and media establishment, our research shows a strong, evolving tidal wave of discontent and growing pressure for real and dramatic change.
Real change is what that the establishment fears most and fights hardest against. It is ultimately a losing battle.
According to this report from Middle East Eye U.S. Secretary of State blamed the opposition for the continuing bombing in Syria:
US Secretary of State John Kerry told Syrian aid workers, hours after the Geneva peace talks fell apart, that the country should expect another three months of bombing that would “decimate” the opposition.During a conversation on the sidelines of this week’s Syria donor conference in London, sources say, Kerry blamed the Syrian opposition for leaving the talks and paving the way for a joint offensive by the Syrian government and Russia on Aleppo.
“‘He said, ‘Don’t blame me – go and blame your opposition,’” one of the aid workers, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her organisation, told Middle East Eye.
“He said that basically, it was the opposition that didn’t want to negotiate and didn’t want a ceasefire, and they walked away,” the second of the aid workers told MEE in a separate conversation and also on the basis of anonymity.
“‘What do you want me to do? Go to war with Russia? Is that what you want?’” the aid worker said Kerry told her.
The hapless State Department spokesperson claimed that the story was wrong:
John Kirby Verified account @statedeptspox
@Charles_Lister Story wrong. @JohnKerry didn’t blame oppo for collapse of talks, doesn’t have comms w/regime & hasn’t wavered on Asad.
But this lets me believe that the report of Kerry chastising the opposition is right on point:
U.S. Embassy Syria @USEmbassySyria
#SecKerry on bombardment of civilians in #Syria: This has to stop. But it’s not going to stop by walking away from the table or not engaging
So while the State Department spokesperson denies that the U.S. blames the opposition, another part of the State Department does exactly that: “it’s not going to stop by walking away from the table or not engaging”. Kerry is clearly embarrassed that the Saudi opposition group ran away from the UN talks in Vienna. He should blame his “allies”.
The Wall Street Journal says the opposition group ended the talks before they began on Turkish and Saudi orders:
The Syrian opposition abruptly withdrew from peace talks in Geneva this week under pressure from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two of the main backers of the rebels, according to diplomats and at least a half-dozen opposition figures.
After sabotaging the talks the Saudis came out with an offer to send ground troops to invade Syria if the U.S. would take the command of such an operation. No one is taking that offer seriously. The Saudi troops who try to invade Yemen get beaten to pulp. The Saudis themselves say they had to closed 500 school and evacuate 12 villages with 7,000 people in Saudi Arabia because the Yemenis are now invading them. Their army has lots of expensive toys but is clearly not able to put them to use. The offer to send troops is simply to goad the U.S. into starting a war with Russia.
That is not going to work. The U.S. is now trying to find some end to the conflict in Syria. Someone finally told Kerry that Russia is not in a “quagmire” in Syria but is winning. The U.S. is in a hurry now as it knows that it will have zero influence left on the issue should the Syrian government and Russia have the time to kill off the opposition. It needs a ceasefire to stay relevant. As Kerry says himself that “whining” about the situation and skipping negotiations will not help the opposition. It will kill it.
Secretary Kerry also called on the Russians to stop their bombing campaign in Aleppo province. But that contradicts the UN resolution 2254 under which the talks in Geneva are held. That resolution clearly calls for a continuation of the Russian and Syrian campaign: THE UNSC
[r]eiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, [...] and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement;
The insurgents in Aleppo province as well as in Idleb province are officially allied with the Nusra Front which is Al-Qaeda in Syria. They are clearly a target of the above resolution and thereby a legitimate target of Russian bombs.
Indeed those who criticize Kerry for blaming the opposition because it ran away from Geneva ignore the resolution. It is the plan the U.S. and Russia have agreed to follow. That plan ends the war in Syria in a ceasefire but only when the opposition agrees to one AND cuts all ties with al-Qaeda and ISIS. As the opposition, and its sponsors, are unwilling to do so the Syrian-Russian campaign against them will continue, as agreed upon by the UNSC, until their end.
Last weekend, the Syrian government forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces, predominantly Kurds supported by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces launched a joint offensive in Northern Aleppo. On Feb.7, the Kurdish troops secured several kilometers of the Gaziantep-Aleppo road and captured the town of Deir Jamal. The SAA also reached this crucial supply line from Turkey after an intense battle with the terrorists near the contested villages of Bayanoun, Kafr Naya, and Hayyan. Meanwhile, the Kiffin village has been liberated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). According to reports, the SDF and the SAA have set up a joint checkpoint near Kiffin which is a clear evidence of the cooperation.
We remember, the Kurdish YPG has announced it’s going to launch a military operation in order to connect Afrin with Kobane and Hasakah. This gain will be hardly possible without a support of Russian warplanes and the pro-government forces pulverizing the terrorists’ manpower which could be used to prevent the Kurdish offensive.
Meanhwile, the pro-government forces secured the Ezaz-Aleppo road and liberated the town of Mayer. This road was formerly used by the terrorists to transfer their forces and hardware.
In a separate development, the SAA took control of the town of Ta’ana in the Eastern part of Aleppo province. It is close to the industrial region of Sheikh Najjar.
ISIS and Jabha al-Shamiya terrorist group, defined by the US as a moderate rebel group, has reportedly signed an alliance in Northern Aleppo in order to prevent the advance of the SAA and its allies. It’s reported that the groups concluded a cessation of hostility, opening “borders”, supply oil to rebels, exchange prisoners. It isn’t clear how these groups will coordinate military actions in the area.
Separately, militants in the Aleppo province set a coalition called ‘Jaish al-Halab’. It includes such groups as Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Jabhat Al-Shamiyah, Jaysh Al-Islam, and Jaysh Al-Mujahiddeen and also aims to oppose the Syrian forces.
More than 500 new recruits gathered in central Latakia, having passed a basic training course to joint the Syrian forces. They are now awaiting deployment. According to the province governor, Ibrahim Khodr Salem, this is the fifth set of volunteers.
On Feb.7, 133 militants laid down arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian army in the towns of Talbiseh and al-Rastan in the Homs province. In the very same time, the SAA advanced against the ISIL militants in the Eastern part of Homs province and deployed forces around the town of Quaryatayn. The final storm of the town is expected in the nearest future.
“Princes of the Yen: Central Banks and the Transformation of the Economy” reveals how Japanese society was transformed to suit the agenda and desire of powerful interest groups, and how citizens were kept entirely in the dark about this.
Based on a book by Professor Richard Werner, a visiting researcher at the Bank of Japan during the 90s crash, during which the stock market dropped by 80% and house prices by up to 84%. The film uncovers the real cause of this extraordinary period in recent Japanese history.
Making extensive use of archival footage and TV appearances of Richard Werner from the time, the viewer is guided to a new understanding of what makes the world tick. And discovers that what happened in Japan almost 25 years ago is again repeating itself in Europe. To understand how, why and by whom, watch this film.
“Princes of the Yen” is an unprecedented challenge to today’s dominant ideological belief system, and the control levers that underpin it. Piece by piece, reality is deconstructed to reveal the world as it is, not as those in power would like us to believe that it is.
“Because only power that is hidden is power that endures.”
A film by Michael Oswald
You can follow Richard Werner (Author of the Book) on Twitter at @ProfessorWerner
The British Army aims to work through an armoured troops shift to the Eastern Europe in case of a conflict between Russia and the NATO.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Jordan will be the terminus of this route, where 1,600 British troops and 300 military vehicles will be dispatched. The Shamal Storm exercise can be ‘a dry run for one day having to send a large armoured force of British troops to Eastern Europe if there was ever a Russian confrontation with Nato’.
Moscow from its part interpreted the NATO drills as an obvious signal. ‘The largest NATO Air Force exercise since the World War II are aimed to send the world an expressive signal on the Alliance peaceableness,’ Aleksey Pushkov, head of the foreign-affairs committee in the State Duma, claimed in his Twitter.
Leonid Ivashov, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, believes that the NATO manoeuvres are provocative ones and are carried out in order to trigger retaliatory actions of Russia. ‘If talking about these NATO drills in Europe, which are the most large-scale ones after the Cold War, that is only one exercise out of a series of the US and NATO military activities this year, and it’s not the last one. There will be conducted more in Ukraine. The whole complex of these exercises and activities on the military power build up evidences that the NATO and first of all the US prepares to something more serious and tries to provoke Russia,’ Ivashov explained.
He also reminded that the US has already carried out joint naval exercise with Georgia on the Russian border as well as taken part in the Baltops drills in the Baltic States. According the the expert, six operative NATO bases have been already deployed to the North-West of Russia.
Despite this, the fighting prediction of the Bear Spear operation conducted by the US Strategic Command, ended up quite sadly. Its aim was to simulate a quick and partially nuclear strike against Russia. In the result, the world turned out to be in ruins, while the US was wiped off the face of the earth, as well as Russia.
If the Canadian government were to live up to its campaign promises of “real change” and evidence-based policy-making, then it would start with the truth.
It may not be politically correct, and it would certainly displease Canada’s corporate and NATO masters, but it would go a long way in improving our country’s credibility and leadership in this era of permanent, illegal warfare, and catastrophic global warming.
In the realm of foreign policy, disclosure and acceptance of the truth would be a simple matter. If we were to simply reverse all the lies, the truth would emerge.
The truth about the Ukraine is that an illegal, CIA-orchestrated junta, spearheaded by “parallel”, neo-Nazi polities, including the “Azov Battalion” – now given the green light for overt congressional funding —is creating death and chaos at the behest of its NATO masters and their Project for the New American Century (PNAC) ideology.
The recently released documentary by Paul Moreira ably demonstrates the reality of the mess we have made.
Real change would mean that we respect ourselves and our sovereignty by saying NO to supporting neo-Nazis and the illegal government in Kiev. Victoria Nuland, a U.S architect of the engineered, color-coded fake revolution that spawned the junta, might want to “F the EU” but we, unlike Victoria and her neo-con cabal, remember the carnage of WW2, and we will not stand by for a repetition of history.
In Syria, an inversion of the official lies would also illuminate the truth, and represent “Real Change”. We should recognize that the elected President of the now-destroyed, but still secular, and pluralist, Syria, has far more popular support amongst Syrians than any Canadian prime minister could ever hope to have. For example, Eva Bartlett explains in “The Myth of ‘moderate terrorists’: Desconstructing the NATO narrative on Syria” that:
On March 29, 2011 (less than two weeks into the fantasy “revolution”)over 6 million people across Syria took to the streets in support of President al-Assad. In June, a reported hundreds of thousands marched in Damascus in support of the president, with a 2.3 km long Syrian flag. In November, 2011 (9 months into the chaos), masses again held demonstrations supporting President al-Assad, notably in Homs (the so-called “capital of the ‘revolution’”), Dara’a (the so-called “birthplace of the ‘revolution’”), Deir ez-Zour, Raqqa, Latakia, and Damascus.
We should also acknowledge that Assad is fighting against Western-supported, foreign mercenaries, including CIA/Wahhabi Death Squads – that recall military assassination/torture operations in Vietnam, as described by author Doug Valentine in The Phoenix Program – and that he is unquestionably on the right side of history. We should be supporting the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia in Syria, not ISIS, al Nursra Front, and all the other Western-backed mercenaries currently destroying Syria and its peoples. Refugees need to return to rebuild Syria to its former greatness. Western ambitions of partitioning the country into ethnic enclaves is a retrograde, illegal, and diabolical plan to weaken the country so it can be a safe haven for extremists and terrorists. Have we already forgotten Libya and Iraq? Both countries have been completely destroyed by this Western-created holocaust.
Apart from telling the truth and acknowledging that we are the bad guys, we should take the immediate, small step of cancelling the sale of any military equipment to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. We need new friends.
We also need “real change” domestically. Corporate sovereignty deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) rob us of jobs and sovereignty and impede our aspirations to make real change in addressing catastrophic global warming. Any promises made at the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) about carbon –reduction goals are completely empty when Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses such as the one in the TPP can be used to challenge domestic laws that are perceived to interfere with projected future earnings of a foreign company. Again, a small, immediate step towards sovereignty, self-determination, and a habitable planet would be to reject the TPP. Once freed from the shackles of impoverishing, job-destroying , corporate sovereignty deals, we would be in a better position to make “real (positive) change”.
On foreign issues, we should apologize for helping to destroy Iraq, Libya, Syria, and the Ukraine. Then we should make amends.
Domestically, we should renounce transnational corporate sovereignty deals. The New World Order that empowers the totalitarian oligarch class should be relegated to the garbage bin of history.
It seems that Putin is about to invade the Baltics. Again.
With journalists and commentators distracted by Syria and Europe’s refugee crisis, Putin’s enduring desire to dash Westwards across the continent “recreating the Soviet Union” was seemingly put on the media’s back burner for a while. In fact, journalists had been oddly quiet on the subject of the Baltic states and a potential Russian invasion for months.
A piece published by the Financial Times last July admitted that the “consensus” among diplomats and analysts was that Putin had “not embarked on a rampage” to recreate an empire “as some feared last year”.
Given that new-found consensus, one might have suspected that the lull in stories about a forthcoming invasion could be chalked up to journalists deciding to put the subject to rest — but one would have been wrong. For they were back last week with a vengeance.
On February 2, the Pentagon announced it would seek to quadruple its budget for Europe in 2017 to deter “Russian aggression”. On February 3, the UK’s BBC aired a fictitious ‘war gaming’ account of a Russian invasion of Latvia, complete with a nuclear strike on a Royal Navy warship and a planned strike on London — an exercise which one expert termed“psychological warfare”. On the same day, an American think tank, the RAND Corporation — which is partly funded by the US Department of Defense — claimed that Russia would be able to “overrun” the Baltics in 60 hours.
In the weeks leading up to the new media blitz, the Atlantic Council — whose primary founding aim is to defend NATO interests — had gotten the ball rolling again with a piece about Putin’s “next potential target” — which, you guessed it, was the Baltics. The piece was then re-published by Newsweek with the headline: “Counting down to a Russian invasion of the Baltics”.
This happens every time the Pentagon wants more money to play with. Various ‘studies’ about the danger posed by whichever bad guy is in fashion start appearing. Experts suddenly realize that the US military is drastically underfunded in said area of immediate strategic importance. Officials begin making even more outlandish statements than usual. And the media eat it up, apparently completely unaware of the fact that they are being taken for a ride.
Odd coincidence that just when the Pentagon is looking for more money there’s a new round of ‘Putin might invade the Baltics!’ in the media
Once a theme has been set in motion like this, the venom spreads fast. And the accusations become more and more absurd. The Pentagon had a helping hand from op-ed writers near and far last week. Paul Goble was back with his trusty Hitler comparison in a piece which inexplicably tried to compare the support Hitler received from Germans during World War II to the support Putin enjoys among the Russian public today. The implication again is that it’s only a matter of time before the Russian president begins his Westward march.
Not wanting to neglect Russia’s wrongdoings in Syria, one op-ed in the Guardian did its utmost to place blame for all escalations in the crisis at Putin’s doorstep, contending that his policies have brought “chaos” and will force Europe to pay an “increasing price”. Readers were left with the impression that Russia had attempted a “strategic weakening” of Europe (presumably to allow the “revisionist” power to sneakishly invade the Baltics?) and that Syria would be a picture of democratic peace had Moscow not intervened in the crisis last September.
Nowhere was there any mention of the strategic interests of the US, UK or Saudi Arabia. Nor was there any acknowledgement that perhaps the chaos Europe finds itself facing was the result of more than Russian involvement in Syria. Although, we ought not to have expected much else from the same author that brought us: “Europe is in crisis, once more America will have to step in to save us”.
Another Guardian op-ed argued that the BBC must “do more” to “counter” Russian propaganda — as if the BBC isn’t already currently engaged in its most vicious anti-Russia campaign in years. “Putin must be stopped,” the op-ed writer wrote, calling for a ratcheting up of economic sanctions and arming Ukraine. But the best moment came when he wrote that the British government could even “chip in” some extra funding for the BBC “without compromising” the channel’s independence. He never explains how this would not compromise its independence, he just states it. I wonder how he feels about Russian state-funded TV?
Then, he ends in the most patronizing way of all; in the style of the do-gooder who selflessly wants to help those poor Russians in need of some Western truth. “If ever there were people in need of accurate, fair, balanced information,” he writes, it is Russians and Ukrainians. Remember, this is the same writer that a few paragraphs earlier suggested escalating economic warfare on the poor Russians he apparently cares about so deeply.
Anyway, one wonders exactly what more the BBC could be doing to help “stop” Russia that it is not doing already. Bar running a documentary about how Putin probably/may have/definitely kidnapped Madeleine McCann, complete with reenactments and interviews with Pussy Riot, I’d say they’re doing pretty well on that front.
Baltic Invasion, coming to a theater near you
All of the above dramatizations and over-the-top statements make you wonder a little bit about the human condition. Two things we know about people are 1: They like to be outraged about something, and 2: They don’t like to be bored. This is a recipe for op-ed disaster.
Just think about it. A Baltic invasion would keep the moral police on the editorial boards of the New York Times and Washington Post going for months, if not years. It would be exciting, wouldn’t it?
Another war they egged on, but could now pretend they were devastated over. Some more bloody color for their front pages. Another information war to tweet about all day; maps with red circles and ‘proof’ of Russia’s military misdeeds from some ‘expert’ on his couch thousands of miles away.
With absolutely zero evidence to back up the idea that Putin would be stupid enough to wake up one day and randomly invade the European Union, it’s almost like they’re trying to will it to happen just for a bit of entertainment.
Rational, balanced voices sidelined
Meanwhile, saner, expert voices calling for rational thinking rarely get heard, and when they do, they appear as a mere footnote to the drama. Take Kent University Professor Richard Sakwa’s letter to the Guardian last week, in which he called for a calmer assessment of Russia and argued that its constant ‘demonisation’ would serve to make no one safer.
“We need to understand more and condemn less,” he wrote, arguing that the country’s portrayal as an aggressive power only increases its own perception of threat from outside. He warned that such portrayals “fail to take into account its defensive posture”.
Guardian gives op-ed space to people with very little knowledge of Russia. Sakwa, a real expert, only allowed letter https://t.co/y00Pcyxtoc
Understand more and condemn less. That’s not really very catchy, is it? It doesn’t involve the phrase “dangerous psychopath” so it’s a bit bland, really. No one’s going to click on that. We’ll just stick it over here in the ‘Letters’ section that no one reads and forget about it.
Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance journalist and media analyst. She has lived in the US and Germany and is currently based in Moscow. She previously worked as a digital desk reporter for the Sunday Business Post in Dublin. She studied political reporting at the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism in Washington, DC and also has a degree in business and German. She focuses on US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias.
“There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?” For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full.
On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron [pictured left], which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The massacre is of Al Dawayima, west of Al-Khalil (which is often referred to as Hebron). In a 2004 interview with Haaretz, Israeli historian Benny Morris refers to this as a massacre of “hundreds”.
After the massacre, a letter was sent to the editor of the leftist affiliated newspaper Al-Hamishmar, but never published. As Auron notes, there are still many archives of the time which are classified. Auron also states that there was an investigation that was never concluded and “died out” as a massive amnesty was provided to military personnel in February 1949.
This is a very exhaustive article, but I found it useful enough to translate this letter in full on its own. The letter, which first “disappeared,’ was provided to Auron by historian Benny Morris. Although these matters have been referred to in passing in historical summaries, the letter has never been published before in full.
To comrade Eliezer Peri, good day,
Today I have read the editorial of “Al Hamishmar” where the question of our army’s conduct was aired, the army which conquers all but its own desires.
Historian/sleuth Benny Morris
A testimony provided to me by an officer which was in [Al] Dawayima the day after its conquering: The soldier is one of ours, intellectual, reliable, in all 100%. He had confided in me out of a need to unload the heaviness of his soul from the horror of the recognition that such level of barbarism can be reached by our educated and cultured people. He confided in me because not many are the hearts today who are able to listen.
There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. There was not a house without dead. The second wave of the [Israeli] army was a platoon that the soldier giving testimony belongs to.
In the town were left male and female Arabs, who were put into houses and were then locked in without receiving food or drink. Later explosive engineers came to blow up houses. One commander ordered an engineer to put two elderly women into the house that was to be blown up. The engineered refused and said he is willing to receive orders only from his [own] commander. So then [his] commander ordered the soldiers to put the women in and the evil deed was performed.
One soldier boasted that he raped an Arab woman and afterwards shot her. An Arab woman with a days-old infant was used for cleaning the back yard where the soldiers eat. She serviced them for a day or two, after which they shot her and the infant. The soldier tells that the commanders who are cultured and polite, considered good guys in society, have become vile murderers, and this occurs not in the storm of battle and heated response, but rather from a system of expulsion and destruction. The fewer Arabs remain – the better. This principle is the main political motive of [the] expulsions and acts of horror which no-one objects to, not in the field command nor amongst the highest military command. I myself was at the front for two weeks and heard boasting stories of soldiers and commanders, of how they excelled in the acts of hunting and “fucking” [sic]. To fuck an Arab, just like that, and in any circumstance, is considered an impressive mission and there is competition on winning this [trophy].
We find ourselves in a conundrum. To shout this out in the press will mean to assist the Arab League, which our representatives deny all complaints of. To not react would mean solidarity with moral corruption. The soldier told me that Deir Yassin [another massacre, by Irgun militants, April 1948] is not the peak of hooliganism. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?
It is necessary to initiate a scandal in the internal channels, to insist upon an internal investigation and punish the culprits. And first of all it is necessary to create in the military a special unit for the restraint of the army. I myself accuse first of all the government, which doesn’t seem to have any interest to fight the phenomena and perhaps even encourages them indirectly. The fact of not-acting is in itself encouragement. My commander told me that there is an unwritten order to not take prisoners of war, and the interpretation of “prisoner” is individually given by each soldier and commander. A prisoner can be an Arab man, woman or child. This was not only done at the exhibition windows [major Palestinian towns] such as Majdal and Nazareth.
I write this to you so that in the editorial and in the party the truth will be known and something effective would be done. At least let them not indulge in phony diplomacy which covers up for blood and murder, and to the extent possible, also the paper must not let this pass in silence.
An organization representing Palestinian victims of Israeli state-terror invited Joint (Arab) List Members of the Knesset (MKs) to meet with surviving family members – a responsible thing to do, deserving praise.
Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas paid their respects to fallen martyrs. The meeting focused on pressuring Israel to return bodies of victims they murdered in cold blood.
Netanyahu and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein lodged an unprecedented complaint to the body’s ethics committee, saying Arab MKs fostered “incitement (and) encourag(ed) murder,” the usual Israeli Big Lie, blaming victims for its high crimes.
According to Edelstein:
“(i)t is inconceivable that at a time when innocent citizens are being slaughtered (polar opposite what’s happening), these MKs go to console the families of the murderers and with unbelievable insolence dare to bring the families’ demands to the government.”
“I see this as a severe injury to the Israeli legislature and the State of Israel and hope that these actions will finally be noted by the judges of the High Court of Justice the next time they discuss an appeal against disqualifying unworthy candidates from running for office as lawmakers.”
State-sponsored misinformation and Big Lies repeated enough gets most people to believe them. Israel wants an Arab-free Knesset, reserved exclusively for Jews, showing its self-declared democracy is phony, pure fantasy, proving it in numerous other ways.
Netanyahu is a notorious Arab-hating racist. MKs who…comfort the families of terrorists (freedom fighters vilified for opposing lawless occupation harshness)…do not deserve to be in the Israeli Knesset,” he ranted – asking Edelstein to examine ways to remove them.
Arab MKs defended their honorable action, Hanin Zoabi blasting Israel’s refusal to return bodies of fallen martyrs. “It is our duty to do our utmost to” oppose this outrage, she stressed.
Basel Ghattas slammed Israeli viciousness, saying “(w)hen the trumpets of fascism incite against us, it means that we are protecting human values.”
“We condemn the incitement against party members perform(ing) their duty to help families to return the bodies of their children, which the Israeli authorities hold contrary to international laws and values.”
Israel is a fascist police state, institutionalized racism official policy, democracy for Jews alone. Arabs are unwanted, persecuted and murdered in cold blood, defenseless against its killing machine.
Try this at home. Dress up corporate. Stand on a corner with a clipboard. Hover a drone with a video camera nearby. Ask passersby:
1. Who’s in the Super Bowl?
2. Who should be president next year?
3. What was just signed in New Zealand that, if ratified, will let corporations overturn U.S. laws, speed up the destruction of the environment, outsource jobs, encourage slavery, eliminate food safety standards, make medicine cost even more, censor and restrict the internet, impede reform of Wall Street, and make those 20 people who own as much as half the country even richer at your expense?
This is a clear-cut case where Meatloaf is just wrong. Two out of three really is bad.
Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and others who had seen all or part of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, used to say that just making it public would stop it dead. But that depends on a number of factors, I think. The TPP has now been made public. Twelve nations have just gone ahead and signed it. And their hope is to see their governments ratify it during the next two years.
The destruction wreaked by NAFTA can be seen in thousands of hollowed out towns across the United States, if you trust the bridges to get you there and are willing to risk drinking the water. But public discussion of NAFTA’s impact is not a popular topic in the corporate media, consolidated post-NAFTA and worsened ever since.
The 1993 corporate media debate over whether or not to create NAFTA looks bizarre to us today. You can go back and watch Vice President Al Gore (pro-NAFTA) debate wealthy crank Ross Perot (anti-NAFTA) on television. That such a thing existed is crazy enough to contemplate in this anti-democratic day and age. But then watch Perot make the debate about the damage NAFTA was going to do to the people of Mexico. You know as well as I do what the universal response to that line of reasoning would be today across the political spectrum of media-approved voices. Say it aloud with me: Who the hell cares what happens to Mexicans!
In fact, the TPP is almost entirely ignored and avoided. When it’s mentioned it’s as something our authoritarian government knows better how to handle than we do. Its defenders, including President Barack Obama, present it as a way to jab a finger in China’s eye. Its opponents argue that it attacks U.S. sovereignty and benefits foreign nations. What, if anything, it does to Vietnamese workers, for example, is just not registering, and the idea of a U.S. billionaire in 2016 bringing that to public attention as a moral concern would get you mocked as a dreamer faster than Hillary Clinton changes positions when a check book is opened.
The Free Trade Area of the Americas and other post-NAFTA corporate deals have been stopped by public pressure, and the TPP can be as well. What is it up against?
First, the text of the thing reads like a stack of phone books filled with this sort of gripping drama:
“Article 14.1: Definitions — For the purposes of this Chapter: computing facilities means computer servers and storage devices for processing or storing information for commercial use; covered person 1 means: (a) a covered investment as defined in Article 9.1 … “
I know you can’t wait to find out what happens next, but I suspect there’s a section somewhere criminalizing quoting too much of the document. The problem is not just dryness, but also vacuity. We sometimes imagine that politicians save their vague platitudes for speeches and then pack concise substantive and enforceable policies into actual legislation. Not true. The TPP is a pile of substantive policies scattered into an enormous pile of meaningless blather, with no color coding to tell you which is which.
There are people with expertise who will decode it for you, but there is not room for them in corporate news reporting, given the possibility that Ben Carson might say something stupid soon. Even the massive , nonviolent resistance in New Zealand in the face of preemptive arrests and intimidation, and demonstrations all over the United States, doesn’t seem to make good news copy when a lineup of monsters want to announce their support for torturing people.
How dare I call them monsters? Well, exactly. Election distraction doesn’t just distract. It also divides and conquers. Donald Trump actually opposes the TPP, but his fans will consider me evil for objecting to his racism. Bernie Sanders credibly opposes the TPP, unlike Hillary Clinton, but to mention that is to bring down thunder on your head from both Clinton and Jill Stein backers.
Margaret Flowers explained some TPP facts recently on the aptly named Real News Network. The entire document fails to mention climate change, she said. “This is a binding agreement,” she points out, “whereas the agreement that was made in Paris, the climate treaty, is a voluntary agreement. So this actually supersedes that voluntary agreement.” Corporations, she said, “under TPP, can sue governments if our laws interfere with their expected profits. So if we pass a law that basically provides protection of the environment in some way, maybe we ban fracking. That would be great. Or stop offshore drilling. A foreign company can then sue our government and say that that law interfered with their profits and sue us for loss of expected profits. Now, what this typically does and has done in the past is that it actually changes the country’s law, because rather than facing billions of dollars in fines, countries would just rather repeal those laws and not have to deal with that.”
Flowers had this advice on what to do:
“People will be particularly focused on their members of Congress during the break, February 14-21. So we really encourage people to get involved, to learn more about this. We need to stop this. And they can do that at FlushTheTPP.org.”
Other good targets are President Obama and media executives. The wrong targets are presidential candidates. Organizations that have steadfastly resisted putting any resistance up to Obama for seven years have been heavily involved in pressuring people like Hillary Clinton who hold no public office and whose every campaign promise should be carefully ignored as not worth the breath that articulates it. Hillary Clinton’s State Department helped create the TPP, and she consistently praised it, calling it the “gold standard,” right up until she began claiming to “oppose” it without committing to stop it.
Some of us recall eight years ago when Clinton and Obama and all the Democratic primary candidates promised to fix NAFTA, except for Congressman Dennis Kucinich who promised to undo it entirely on his first day as president. Obama never lifted a finger to fulfill that promise, and neither has Clinton had a word to say about it. Bernie Sanders, like Dennis Kucinich, is actually credible, so electing him might actually make a difference on this issue. But spending the next 12 months as spectators to an election will be fatal.
We need principled, issue-based activism. You can start by signing this petition, and finish by shaming out of TPP support any office holder who doesn’t want to be voted out of office.
Michael Hudson is the best economist in the world. Indeed, I could almost say that he is the only economist in the world. Almost all of the rest are neoliberals, who are not economists but shills for financial interests.
Washington must be getting nervous with the latest announcement from Iran’s state-owned oil company, the National Iranian Oil CO (NIOC) which declared that Iran will replace US dollars with Euros for its oil trades according to a Reuter’s news article…
Two years ago, Russian officials discussed plans to privatize a group of national enterprises headed by the oil producer Rosneft, the VTB Bank, Aeroflot, and Russian Railways. The stated objective was to streamline management of these companies, and also to…
Housing in many countries, especially Britain is no longer an investment, it’s now made up of three fundamentals; consumption, crime and concern. The general public getting on the bandwagon with cheap loans is consumption. The crime slot is taken now…
Consider that India had for generations sustained one of the highest densities of population on earth, without any chemical fertilisers, pesticides, exotic dwarf strains of grain or ‘bio-tech’ inputs. And it did it without degrading the soil.
Housing in many countries, especially Britain is no longer an investment, it’s now made up of three fundamentals; consumption, crime and concern. The general public getting on the bandwagon with cheap loans is consumption. The crime slot is taken now that over 40% of Britain’s housing stock is bought in cash with property used as an international laundrette to wash hundreds of billions and concern comes from savers who quite rightly think that the banks and government will steal their hard earned (low or negative savings rates), tax paid money that drives a reluctant middle class into becoming landlords.
Cheap loans will prevail but credit is drying up the world over. The criminals have stopped buying in over-heated Britain and even George Osborne, who has fuelled the bubble, is taking action against amateur landlords that make up the vast majority of property investors in Britain.
But don’t take my word for it. Predictions of a house price crash in 2016 are now mounting thick and fast, something unheard of in previous property recessions and particularly back in 2007 just before the last epic fall.
We kick off with consumption. The Week has a piece from Pete Redfern, the chief executive of Taylor Wimpey, Britain’s biggest house builder who says that “The UK is in a “borderline place” on home ownership as a result of rampant price rises and more needs to be done to rein in the pace of (property) inflation”. It also makes the observation that “London, where the housing market is becoming so detached from the wider UK that it has been called “another country”.
Then we have dodgy dosh from overseas; As RT reports:
“Asian and Russian luxury homebuyers are deserting London’s property market amid economic uncertainty. Property buyers from Asia made up 26 percent of those buying homes in wealthy areas of London such as Kensington, Chelsea, and Belgravia in the first three quarters of last year. That figure has dropped to 6 percent according to figures compiled by estate agent Hamptons for the Financial Times”.
And not forgetting those poor fearful middle class reluctant landlords about to lose their shirts. From Industry expert Letting Agent Today – “Osborne has slashed rental sector confidence ‘to below crisis levels’. Landlords’ confidence in the buy to let sector has collapsed to an all-time low and is now “worse than levels witnessed during the financial crash” according to a trade body. Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Landlords Association, says confidence in landlords’ business expectations has tumbled by more than a third over the past year – down from 67 per cent to an all-time low of 43 per cent. The current level of confidence in the BTL sector is now five per cent lower than levels witnessed after the financial crash in 2007”.
The property bubble will burst and London will be its epicentre. But it’s not just London that is causing it. Back in the early 1990’s I was already a few years into my 25 year career in residential property. Chancellor Nigel Lawson decided to abolish MIRAS in 1988 – a mortgage relief scheme which saved homeowners thousands on their payments. Stupidly, Lawson gave about six months notice. This pushed up prices as buyers rushed to snatch up a property before the tax break disappeared, much the same as Osborne’s increase in tax and subsequent epic run by property investors to beat the deadline this April.
On that day in April 1988 I saw the entire property industry implode. Property prices fell by around a third, 1.5 million homeowners declined into negative equity, annual repossessions doubled, tripled and then quadrupled in a matter of months. At one point repossessions represented 1 in every 130 households of Britain.
A few years later I switched from selling property to renting and ended up managing one of the biggest residential rental portfolio’s in the UK. I had 11,000 repossessions to manage because the government had offered tax breaks to banks and building societies to stop these units reaching the market via auctions (called Business Expansion Scheme Companies or BESCo’s) and utterly destroying what little remained of the housing market. I also had another 2,000 high-end units where building companies had gone bust with no-one to buy them. We filled them with all those that had lost their homes or where the government were paying housing benefit – obviously.
Over 40% of Thatcher’s right-to-buy disaster ended up being repossessed. Cameron has just made the same mistake, except he’s a bit late in the game announcing it this time around.
Like last time, the bubble will burst where the price is most inflated – London. Unlike previous deflations, this one is predicted, and the writing is large and loud.
“So it is not just the world’s dubious billionaires / oligarchs who have been flooding London with their wealth for safety from corrupt regimes. Average UK house prices have now risen by 30% from the 2009 bear market low with London soaring 70% as it looks like we are witnessing the peak of the London property bubble mania. London over the next 3 years will probably turn out to be Britain’s worst performing region”.
The FT – “Collapsing confidence in the buy-to-let market will lead to half a million properties coming on to the housing market in the next year”.
International Business Times – “London house prices: Sales of prime property crash”, with agents complaining of a dramatic 64% drop in transactions
UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index – highlights that London and Hong Kong the two worst, opining that “London (property) is by far the most overvalued market in Europe, at risk of a bubble as a result of explosive price behaviour” and “It risks a substantial price correction“.
“The worry is that as interest rates finally begin to rise off record lows, buy-to-let landlords will struggle to meet mortgage repayments and all sell-up at the same time. The flood of housing stock on the market could lead to a price crash.”
Just at the point you decided all this was nothing more than speculation, Lancaster University’s UK Housing Market Observatory report scientifically says:
“If London house prices keep growing at the current pace of 2.75% every quarter year, there will be a full-blown bubble in early 2017 – This will be followed by a sudden crash in prices.”
And, if you just weren’t absolutely sure that the whole pack of cards is precariously shivering in a cold and blustery breeze, here is some research from Aviva about how we’re all doing:
“All-time low interest rates have fuelled a borrowing spree that has seen Britons rack up a mind-boggling debt of £40billion. The latest figures show family that household debt rose by 42 per cent in the last six months alone, according to research from Aviva. The average family now owes £13,520 on credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts, up from £9,520 last summer. Throw in a 20 per cent increase in average mortgage debt over five years and households are more vulnerable than ever. Worse, family incomes are falling and many have lost the savings habit as their finances are stretched.”
Finally, some comforting words from the 12th largest bank in the world. As the Telegraph reports: “RBS has advised clients to brace for a “cataclysmic year” and a global deflationary crisis, warning that major stock markets could fall by a fifth and oil may plummet to $16 a barrel. The bank’s credit team said markets are flashing stress alerts akin to the turbulent months before the Lehman crisis in 2008. “Sell everything except high quality bonds. This is about return of capital, not return on capital. In a crowded hall, exit doors are small,” it said in a client note“. To be fair, RBS should know, they have a lot of experience of completely screwing up investments having lost £46billion in a tax payer bail-out and £45billion of their own since then.
The word deflationary is key as it relates to all asset classes – property included. All the signs are there for a classic house price crash, inflated property prices, unsustainable household debt, low savings and banks up to their necks in it – again. The difference is that property prices are much higher than 2007, so is personal debt but your wages aren’t.
Batten down the hatches – the perfect storm is bearing down upon us all.
After nearly 15 years of Mideast war – with those conflicts growing ever grimmer – you might expect that peace would be a major topic of the 2016 presidential race. Instead, there has been a mix of warmongering bluster from most candidates and some confused mutterings against endless war from a few.
No one, it seems, wants to risk offending Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment that is ready to castigate any candidate who suggests that there are other strategies – besides more and more “regime changes” – that might extricate the United States from the Middle East quicksand.
Late in Thursday’s Democratic debate – when the topic of war finally came up – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued toeing the neocon line, calling Iran the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world, when that title might objectively go to U.S. “allies,” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom have been aiding Sunni jihadists fighting to overthrow Syria’s secular regime.
Israel also has provided help to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which has been battling Syrian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters near the Golan Heights – and Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians has played a key role in stirring up hatred and violence in the Middle East.
Image: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)
But Clinton has fully bought into the neocon narrative, not especially a surprise since she voted for the Iraq War, pushed the disastrous Libyan “regime change” and has sought a limited U.S. military invasion of Syria (to prevent the Syrian army from securing its border with Turkey and reclaiming territory from jihadists and other rebels).
In Thursday’s debate – coming off her razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses – Clinton painted Iran as the big regional threat, putting herself fully in line with the neocon position.
“We have to figure out how to deal with Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Clinton said.
“They are destabilizing governments in the region. They continue to support Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon against Israel. …
“If we were to normalize relations right now [with Iran], we would remove one of the biggest pieces of leverage we have to try to influence and change Iranian behavior. … I believe we have to take this step by step to try to rein in Iranian aggression, their support for terrorism and the other bad behavior that can come back and haunt us.”
Iran, of course, has been a longtime neocon target for “regime change” along with Syria (and before that Iraq). Many neocons were disappointed when President Barack Obama negotiated an agreement to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remained peaceful (an accord reached after John Kerry replaced Clinton as Secretary of State). The neocons had been hoping that the U.S. military would join Israel in an air war to “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” — as Sen. John McCain once famously declared.
Yet, there were other distortions in Clinton’s statement. While it’s true that Iran has aided Hezbollah and Hamas in their resistance to Israel, Clinton ignored other factors, such as Israeli acts of aggression against both Lebanon, where Hezbollah emerged as resistance to an Israeli invasion and occupation in the 1980s, and the Palestinians who have faced Israeli oppression for generations.
Silence on the ‘Allies’
In the debate, Clinton also avoided criticism of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for their military and financial assistance to radical jihadists, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. At the urging of Clinton, the Obama administration also approved military shipments to Syrian rebels who then either turned over or sold U.S. weapons to the extremists.
Iran’s role in Syria has been to help support the internationally recognized government of Bashar al-Assad, whose military remains the principal bulwark protecting Syria’s Christian, Alawite, Shiite and other minorities from possible genocide if Al Qaeda-connected jihadists prevailed.
Clinton also ignored her own role in creating a haven for these terror groups across the Middle East because of her support for the Iraq War and her instigation of the 2011 “regime change” in Libya which created another failed state where Islamic State and various extremists have found a home and started chopping of the heads of “infidels.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who battled Clinton to a virtual tie in Iowa, took a somewhat less belligerent position at Thursday’s debate, repeating his rather naïve idea of having Sunni states lead the fight against Sunni jihadists. On the more reasonable side, he indicated a willingness to work with Russia and other world powers in support of an anti-jihadist coalition.
“It must be Muslim troops on the ground that will destroy ISIS, with the support of a coalition of major powers — U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Russia,” Sanders said.
“So our job is to provide them the military equipment that they need; the air support they need; special forces when appropriate. But at the end of the day for a dozen different reasons … the combat on the ground must be done by Muslim troops with our support. We must not get involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.”
“We cannot be the policeman of the world. We are now spending more I believe than the next eight countries on defense. We have got to work in strong coalition with the major powers of the world and with those Muslim countries that are prepared to stand up and take on terrorism. So I would say that the key doctrine of the Sanders administration would be no, we cannot continue to do it alone; we need to work in coalition.”
Sounding Less Hawkish
While Sanders clearly sought to sound less hawkish than Clinton – and did not repeat his earlier talking point about the Saudis and others “getting their hands dirty” – he did not address the reality that many of the Sunni countries that he hopes to enlist in the fight against the jihadists are already engaged – on the side of the jihadists.
Clinton, as she seeks to cut into Sanders’s lead in New Hampshire polls, has been stressing her “progressive” credentials, but many progressive Democrats suspect that Clinton could become a neocon Trojan Horse.
Arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, has praised Clinton’s aggressive foreign policy.
Kagan, who was made an adviser to Clinton’s State Department (while his wife Victoria Nuland received big promotions under Clinton), said in 2014: “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue … it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” [For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?”]
Not only did Clinton vote for the Iraq War – and support it until it became a political liability during Campaign 2008 – but she rejoined the neocon/liberal-hawk ranks as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. She routinely sided with neocon holdovers, such as Gen. David Petraeus, regarding Mideast wars and Israel’s hardline regime in its hostilities toward the Palestinians and Iran.
In 2011, Clinton pushed for “regime change” in Libya, chortling over Muammar Gaddafi’s torture-murder in October 2011, “We came. We saw. He died.” Since then, Libya has descended into a failed state with the Islamic State and other jihadists claiming more and more territory.
Clinton also favored an outright (though limited) U.S. military invasion of Syria, setting up a “safe zone” or “no-fly zone” that would protect militants fighting to overthrow the secular Assad government. Over and over again, she has adopted positions virtually identical to what the neocons prescribe.
But Sanders, although he opposed the Iraq War, has hesitated to challenge Clinton too directly on foreign policy, apparently fearing to distract from his focus on income inequality and domestic concerns. He apparently has chosen fuzziness on foreign policy as the better part of political valor.
GOP Neocons Score
On the Republican side, the first week of the presidential delegate-selection process saw two candidates who mildly questioned the neocon conventional wisdom face reversals. Billionaire Donald Trump was upset in the Iowa caucuses and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul shut down his flailing campaign.
Trump has noted his opposition to the Iraq War and his willingness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against jihadist terror, while Paul pushed a libertarian-style approach that questioned neocon interventionism but not as aggressively as his father did, apparently hoping to avoid Ron Paul’s marginalization as “an isolationist.”
While Trump and Paul stumbled this week, neocon favorite Marco Rubio surged to a strong third-place finish, catapulting past other establishment candidates who – while largely me-too-ing the neocon orthodoxy on foreign policy – are not as identified with pure neoconservatism as the youthful Florida senator is.
However, even the non-neocons have opted for visceral warmongering. Tea Party favorite and winner of the Republican Iowa caucuses, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has vowed to “carpet bomb” Islamic State strongholds and promised to see “if sand can glow in the dark,” as he told a Tea Party rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The phrase “glow in the dark” popularly refers to the aftermath of a nuclear bomb detonation.
However, as hardline as Cruz is, he still received a tongue-lashing from the neocon-flagship Washington Post for not doing a “full-neocon” when he suggested that the United States should not focus on “regime change” in Syria. Cruz has worried that overthrowing Assad’s government might pave the way for a victory by the Islamic State and other Sunni jihadist terrorists.
In a Dec. 31, 2015 editorial, the Post’s editors instead hailed neocon favorite Rubio for arguing “forcefully” for Assad’s removal and castigated Cruz for saying Assad’s ouster was “a distraction at best – and might even empower the jihadist.”
A Beloved ‘Group Think’
It is one of Official Washington’s most beloved “group thinks” that Syrian “regime change” – a neocon goal dating back to the 1990s – must take precedence over the possible creation of a military vacuum that could bring the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda to power.
After all, it won’t be the sons and daughters of well-connected neocons who are sent to invade and occupy Syria to reverse the capture of Damascus by the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda. So, the Post’s editors, who in 2002-03 told the American people as flat fact that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD, engaged in similar exaggerations and lies about Assad in demonizing Cruz for his apostasy.
“Mr. Cruz is arguing for a stridently anti-American and nakedly genocidal dictator who sponsored terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq and serves as a willing puppet of Iran,” the Post wrote.
That is typical of what a politician can expect if he or she deviates from the neocon line, even if you’re someone as belligerent as Cruz. Any apostasy from neocon orthodoxy is treated most harshly.
There is, by the way, no evidence that Assad is “nakedly genocidal” – his largely secular regime has never targeted any specific ethnic or religious group, indeed his government is the principal protector of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities that have been targeted by Sunni extremists for death.
Nor did Assad sponsor “terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq.” By definition, terrorism is political violence against civilians, not against a military occupation force. Assad also sought to collaborate with the Bush-43 administration in its “war on terror,” to the point of handling torture assignments from Washington.
But distortions and falsehoods are now the way of the modern Washington Post. The newspaper will say anything, no matter how dishonest or unfair, to advance the neocon cause.
But the most dangerous outcome from these pressures is that they prevent a serious debate about a most serious topic: what the next president must do to bring the costly, bloody and endless wars to an end.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon andbarnesandnoble.com).
Originally published by GR in November 2011, this report outlines the 2011 judgment of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal. It is of particular relevance to the role of Tony Blair in the Iraq war, which is currently the object of controversy and debate in the UK.
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A Malaysian tribunal has found former US President George W Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of committing crimes against humanity during the Iraq war, Press TV reported.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal found the former heads of state guilty after a four-day hearing. A seven-member panel chaired by former Malaysian Federal Court judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman presided over the trial.
The five panel tribunal unanimously decided that the former US and British leaders had committed crimes against peace and humanity, and also violated international law when they ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The prosecutors at the hearing ruled that the invasion of Iraq was a flagrant abuse of law, and act of aggression which amounted to a mass murder of the Iraqi people.
“Bush and Blair are found guilty under the same law that applied to the Nazis after the end of the World War II. So, they are international (war) criminals guilty of Nuremberg crimes against peace; and they should be prosecuted by any state in the world that gets a hold of them. We will continue our efforts to bring Bush and Blair to justice and put them in jail,” Francis Boyle, an international law expert and prosecutor, told Press TV.
The judges in the verdict said that that the United States, under the leadership of Bush, forged documents to claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Bush and Blair were tried in absentia by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal at the end of the hearing. The participants also demanded that the findings of the tribunal be made available to members of the Rome Statute and that the names of the two former officials be entered in the register of war criminals.
“There is also a recommendation that this (the findings) be circulated to the states because all states have universal jurisdiction. Therefore, whenever Bush or Blair appear within their shores there is an obligation on the international law to commit these international war criminals through the justice system,” Gurdial Singh Nijar, a prosecutor, told Press TV.
Lawyers and human rights activists in Malaysia have described the verdict issued by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal against Bush and Blair as “a landmark decision.”
They say that they would lobby the International Criminal Court to charge the pair for war crimes.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal is scheduled to hold a separate hearing next year on charges of torture linked to the Iraq war against former US officials including ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Press TV’s Mahi Ramakrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Image: Photo relating to prisoner abuse released by DoD on February 5, 2015 in long-running ACLU lawsuit.
The Pentagon on Friday was forced to release nearly 200 photographs of bruises, lacerations, and other injuries inflicted on prisoners presumably by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The record-dump was the result of a Freedom of Information Act request and nearly 12 years of litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which fought to expose the Bush-era torture.
The images, the group says, prove that there was “systemic abuse of detainees.” And while troubling, attorneys say that even more problematic is the roughly 1,800 photographs that the government refused to disclose.
“The disclosure of these photos is long overdue, but more important than the disclosure is the fact that hundreds of photographs are still being withheld,” said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, one of the attorneys in the case.
“The still-secret pictures are the best evidence of the serious abuses that took place in military detention centers,” Jaffer continued. “The government’s selective disclosure risks misleading the public about the true extent of the abuse.”
Eliza Relman, a paralegal with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said that documents and emails that the government has been forced to release over the course of the litigation give an idea of what the remaining images may contain.
“We have found more than 100 documents that either reference photos related to cases of abuse or actually contain photos that were redacted before they got to us,” Relman said.
The photos still being withheld include those related to the case of a 73-year-old Iraqi woman detained and allegedly sexually abused and assaulted by U.S. soldiers. According to the Army report detailing the incident, the soldiers forced her to “crawl around on all-fours as a ‘large man rode’ on her,” striking her with a stick and calling her an animal. Other pictures depict an Iraqi teenager bound and standing in the headlights of a truck immediately after his mock execution staged by U.S. soldiers. Another shows the body of Muhamad Husain Kadir, an Iraqi farmer, shot dead at point-blank range by an American soldier while handcuffed.
The Department of Defense argues that the release of the remaining images would jeopardize national security and “may incite others to violence against Americans and US interests,” the ACLU explains.
“What the photos that the government has suppressed would show is that abuse was so widespread that it could only have resulted from policy or a climate calculated to foster abuse,” said ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo, who noted that no senior official has been held accountable “or even investigated” for these abuses.
“That is why the government must release all of the photos and why today’s selective disclosure is so troubling,” Abdo added.
The ACLU first filed its request six months before the notorious Abu Ghraib images wereleaked by the press in March 2006.
In 2009, then-defense secretary Robert Gates issued a blanket certification preventing hundreds of photographs from being made public. An identical certification was issued in 2012 by Gates’ successor, Leon Panetta.
In March 2015, a U.S. district court judged ruled in favor of the ACLU, which argued that the certifications are “unsupported and overbroad.” Defense Secreatry Ashton Carter certified the photographs again last November, with the exception of the 198 now made public.
As the tide of public opinion goes, so goes Hillary Clinton’s campaign rhetoric.
Note the term “campaign rhetoric” here since it is not Clinton’s true positions that change, it is only her words that ride the political wind.
If America is sick of war, Hillary is sick of war (except for the new one). If America is angry at banks, Hillary is angry at banks (except when she votes to bail them out). If Americans are beginning to question vaccine safety, Hillary questions their safety. If trendies are afraid of getting sick and there is a temporary false consensus that vaccines work, Hillary is pro vaccine. The list goes on and on.
Below are only a few points on which Hillary Clinton has made an about-face in regards to her alleged positions on the campaign trail.
Vaccines - In stark contrast to candidate Clinton in 2008 when questions over the safety and effectiveness of vaccines were coming to the political consciousness of the American people, Hillary has now become a vocal cheerleader of Big Pharma and vaccinations.
While her opinion is odious enough on its face, it is quite the change from the opinion she held as acandidate in 2008 when she stated that there was the possibility that vaccines were linked to autism. In fact, she wrote in a campaign questionnaire that she was committed to finding out the causes of autism, including “possible environmental causes like vaccines.”
In 2015, however, when it became clear that questions surrounding vaccines was not going to remain a part of the “fringe” of society among both the right and the left and the propaganda campaign began full-steam ahead to cut off any mass movement against vaccination, Clinton began showing her true colors, coming out in favor of the pro-vaccine crowd and suggesting that anyone who question the safety or effectiveness of vaccines was a luddite and an anti-science crackpot.Clinton was one in a long line of presidential hopefuls who made sure to take part in the propaganda campaign against concerned parents, affected individuals, and informed citizens.
Her actual position? In favor of the pharmaceutical companies and banks that make up such a sizeable portion of her campaign donations.
Iran Nuclear Deal – While Hillary has come out publicly and endorsed the Iran nuclear deal clenched by Barack Obama, Republicans were probably too busy calling for nuclear World War Three to have noticed. Likewise, Democrats were too busy kneeling at the feet of Obama to pay too much attention to Clinton’s statement. However, for a few observers who were of the mistaken belief that Clinton’s rhetoric is to be believed more than her behavior and track record, her statements came as a bit of a shock.
This is because Hillary’s past statements were much more pro-war and hawkish than her tepid endorsement of the Obama deal, itself nothing more than theatre to set the Iranians up for an eventual US invasion once NATO is done with Syria.
Clinton brought a hard-line background to the topic of Iran. In April 2008 she warned that the U.S. could “totally obliterate” Iran in retaliation for a nuclear attack on Israel—prompting Obama to chastise her for using “language that’s reflective of George Bush.”
In Obama administration debates about Tehran’s nuclear program, Clinton opposed talk of ‘containment,’ a policy option that plans for a world in which Iran possesses a nuclear weapon. Preparing for containment implies a decision not to use military force to prevent an Iranian bomb in the event that diplomacy fails.
I’ve always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right. I am well aware that I am not at the negotiating table anymore, but I think it’s important to send a signal to everybody who is there that there cannot be a deal unless there is a clear set of restrictions on Iran. The preference would be no enrichment. The potential fallback position would be such little enrichment that they could not break out.”
Of course, there is a right to enrich. There is a right to enrich up to the levels that would indeed allow for the capability to create a nuclear weapon but stopping short of actually doing so. In other words, since Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it is entitled all avenues of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, including uranium enrichment.
Obviously, judging by her track record, Clinton is anything but anti-war. Going from “totally obliterate” to “willing to work with” is quite the turnaround. Indeed, only last year, Clinton was boasting that “I voted for every sanction that came down the pike against Iran.”
As a Senator in 2007, she backed a resolution to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
In February, 2007 Clinton had proclaimed, that “You don’t refuse to talk to bad people. I think life is filled with uncomfortable situations where you have to deal with people you might not like. I’m sort of an expert on that. I have consistently urged the president to talk to Iran and talk to Syria. I think it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.”
However, after Obama proclaimed that he would do just that if elected President, Clinton responded “I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naïve.”
Clinton has shifted back and forth on the Iranian issue but only in the directions in which the winds tend to be blowing. Overall, considering her track record with Syria, Iraq, Libya, and any other possible war she can support, it’s doubtful that her endorsement of the recent deal is genuine in any way.
Her real position? Undoubtedly Pro war.
Gay Marriage – Hillary Clinton has always supported equal rights for same-sex couples, except when she hasn’t. In 2016, Clinton is known as someone who supports gay marriage on practical and conceptual basis. However, that hasn’t always been the case.
Hillary Clinton praised the Supreme Court decision to guarantee same-sex marriages on Friday night and forcefully condemned the Republicans’ response to the ruling, warning the GOP presidential field not to turn LGBT issues into a “political football for this 2016 campaign.”
“It was an emotional roller coaster of a day, Clinton said. “This morning, love triumphed in the highest court in our land. Equality triumphed, and America triumphed.”
“Instead of trying to turn back the clock,” Clinton continued, Republicans “should be joining us in saying no to discrimination once and for all.”
Clinton’s comments on Friday evening were her first public remarks in the wake of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that the Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry. Her campaign issued a statement Friday in support of the decision and touted it on social media.
Clinton’s comments were indeed her first since the Supreme Court decision but they were not her first regarding the issue.
In 1996, when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, Hillary was right there at his side. Indeed, his position and hers were the same.
In 2000, when she was running for NY Senate, Clinton stated that “Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.”
In 2004, after winning her Senate campaign, Hillary took to the Senate floor and stated clearly that she believed marriage was only between a man and a woman. She stated “I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.” She continued by stating “..the fundamental bedrock principle that [marriage] exists between a man and a woman, going back into the midst of history as one of the founding, foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principal role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society into which they are to become adults.”
Clinton continued her opposition to gay marriage through her 2008 Presidential campaign and even all the way up until 2013, when the tide of public opinion had shifted enough that such a stance was politically safe to do so.
Her real position? Most likely that Gay marriage is a political football. It is only as important as the gay population’s value on the political chessboard.
Iraq – Hillary Clinton was one of the most vociferous Democatic supporters of the illegal and immoral invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. Hillary Clinton not only supported the push for war in Iraq, she voted for invasion. In fact, she was fervent in her support for the war, delivering impassioned speeches on the Senate floor in order to convince members of Congress who might have been on the fence, as well as the general American population and a handful of Democrats and liberals who valued her opinion on the topic. Indeed, Hillary’s speech promoting war in Iraq rivaled in George W. Bush who was campaigning night and day on American television.
“I believe the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who has tortured and killed his own people, even his own family members, to maintain his iron grip on power. He used chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and on Iranians, killing over 20,000 people.”
Clinton then began to detail not only why she believed the United States should begin their invasion, but also insinuated that the operation, if the first Gulf war was anything to go by, would not result in a long drawn out conflict but one more like the first. Although Clinton did not state this directly, the implication was that it was time go in and finish the job but also that much of the work was already done.
She also rushed to point out that international community (“everyone”) knew that Saddam did have weapons of mass destruction. She stated that
“The [U.N.] inspectors found and destroyed far more weapons of mass destruction capability than were destroyed in the Gulf War, including thousands of chemical weapons, large volumes of chemical and biological stocks, a number of missiles and warheads, a major lab equipped to produce anthrax and other bioweapons, as well as substantial nuclear facilities.”
Although Clinton now attempts to brush off her treasonous assistance to drum up an illegal and immoral war in Iraq as a mistake, the truth is that anyone with any political judgement knew that the war itself was based on lies and would be a tragic adventure. They knew all of this at the time. Although she also attempts to blame the “faulty intelligence” of the Bush administration, it was Hillary Clinton herself who once referred to the intelligence as “undisputed.”
Her real position? As always, pro-war.
The above issues are merely three examples of Hillary Clinton’s epic flip-flopping. Any examination of her prior positions – particularly when they are stated just before an election – reveal that, like the weather, Hillary is constantly changing and, like the wind, she is always shifting from one direction to the other. That is, she is always shifting her position in terms of her public stances. For her genuine positions, however, one need only look to the banks, corporations, foundations, and related organizations that fund and support her.
Much has been made of the $10 billion in aid pledged by world leaders for Syria’s refugees at a donor’s conference held in London last Thursday. United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the conference a “great success,” saying, “Never has the international community raised so much money on a single day for a single crisis.”
It would be more accurate to say, never have the imperialist powers offered so much cash to keep a crisis they created away from their doors. Syria has been devastated by a civil war instigated by the United States and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, producing a flood of refugees of historic dimensions.
At least half the Syrian population, 11 million people, are internally displaced, and a further 4.6 million people have fled to neighbouring countries, where they are surviving under the most desperate conditions. The vast majority of these refugees are in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. The purpose of the London meeting was to ensure that the refugees stay there, and do not attempt to travel further west and north, into Europe.
The European Union (EU) pledged $3.3 billion for this year and intends to “maintain this level of financing” for 2017 and beyond. Britain pledged an extra $1.7 billion until 2020, Germany committed $1 billion this year and a further $1.3 billion by 2018, France said it would give $1 billion, while the US pledged an extra $925 million for 2016.
Their motivation was clear, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel telling the conference that the shortfall in food aid in 2015 had prompted the increase in the number of Syrians seeking refuge in Europe.
This money, from the richest countries in the world, is a drop in the ocean. Only $6 billion of this is for 2016—much less than the $8.5 billion the UN had sought—with the remainder for 2017 to 2020. This amounts to less than $400-500 per person per year, assuming the donors honour their pledges. Previous conferences have failed to deliver, leading the World Food programme and other aid agencies to cut back on their already meagre support for Syrian refugees last year, plunging millions into even greater misery and hardship.
Such parsimony contrasts sharply with the amount being spent by Washington and its allies on the war to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The US Department of Defense alone is spending about $14 million a day on its operations in Syria and Iraq supposedly combating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in addition to the $187 million it is spending on the Iraq war every day.
Conditions for the refugees in the countries bordering Syria, where they are not legally entitled to work, are dire. Many Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon work as casual labour in informal day jobs for low wages.
Shanta Devarajan, World Bank chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa, said, “Unemployment is high among refugees, especially women, and those who do work often work in the informal sector with no protection.”
She added, “About 92 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon have no work contract and more than half of them work on a seasonal, weekly or daily basis at low wages.”
Many children are forced to work because their parents cannot or because they cannot earn enough if they do work.
Turkey, by far the largest and most prosperous of the three countries, has taken in the largest number of Syrian refugees, around 2 million. This along with the economic recession in Europe, its largest export market, has led to unemployment rising to 10 percent, food prices soaring by 12 percent and inflation rising to 9.5 percent.
Lebanon and Jordan, far smaller and more impoverished countries, have taken proportionately more refugees per capita.
Lebanon, with a population of around 3.5 million before the Syrian conflict and youth unemployment of around 35 percent, is hosting around 1.8 million Syrians. This has served to push up rents and decrease wages, leading to an 11 percent decline in per capita income.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who came to London at the head of the Lebanese delegation, said that the refugee crisis had cost his country more than $20 billion. He needed at least $11 billion—more than the entire $10 billion pledged over several years at the London conference—to cope with the crisis.
Jordan’s population is now around 8 million, following an influx of about 1.6 million Syrians, of whom only about 680,000 are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The World Bank estimates that this is costing Jordan over $2.5 billion a year.
All three countries are now closing their borders to refugees, leaving desperate Syrians stranded. Jordanian officials have said that they will not admit any more refugees without additional aid.
The donors are also making the aid dependent upon the three countries opening up their job markets to refugees to provide a million new jobs.
While Lebanon reluctantly agreed to do so, it refused to grant citizenship, residency rights or legalise their status in Lebanon. Jordan was similarly reluctant, citing the lack of opportunities for its own citizens. In the event, it agreed to measures aimed at creating 200,000 jobs, a further five development zones to be set up around the country, the formalisation of Syrian-owned businesses and the lifting of restrictions on commercial activities within the refugee camps.
It is far from clear that formal employment, should it be available, will provide the refugees with higher wages, while in Turkey, which has agreed to increase the number of work permits, employers have said that the additional cost of national insurance contributions will lead to workers being fired.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who chaired the conference along with leaders of Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the UN, said that the neighbouring countries had made a “courageous commitment” to open their economies to provide more jobs, “helped” by $40 billion of loans and the opening of European markets that would create one million new jobs in the region.
This was a reference to visits by the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the UN to Jordan and Lebanon last week to broach the possibility of “development loans” to shore up their debt-laden economies, something that Jordan rejected.
Imad Fakhoury, the Jordanian planning minister, said that while Jordan welcomed potential offers of concessionary financing, including for development programs that the country had to postpone after the Syria crisis began in 2011, Jordan expects grants—not loans—to address the needs of refugees and of host communities in Jordan that had to absorb large numbers of displaced Syrians.
The London conference, attended by politicians and the aid industry, was a cheap and cynical attempt to ensure that the refugees stay where they are and do not attempt to reach Europe, and is recognised as such.
Doctors Without Borders refused to attend the conference. Vickie Hawkins, the NGO’s UK executive director, said, “We object to the policy of containment that is an undercurrent to this conference.” She continued, “The conference is sending a clear message: don’t come to Europe.”
US military commanders are preparing to expand US operations in Afghanistan, including through the deployment of more US troops in a front-line combat role and stepped up air strikes, General John Campbell, the outgoing US commander in Afghanistan, told the Washington Post in an interview Friday.
“We shouldn’t sugarcoat it,” Campbell said. “I’m not going to leave without making sure my leadership understands there are things we need to do.
“In the last few months of 2015 it became so obvious that we had to make a decision to go back to what we should have done in the first place.” Campbell added, “We need to stay for years.”
Campbell’s statements are the latest in a series of announcements by the White House and Pentagon that amount to a public acknowledgment that the American military is planning a permanent military occupation of Afghanistan.
Senior unnamed US officers recently told the Post that the Pentagon is basing itself on assumptions that US forces will remain there for “decades.” US forces must stay in Afghanistan for “a very long time” in order to support the Afghan security apparatus with a combination of air strikes, intelligence gathering, logistical assistance and direct participation in ground combat.
General Campbell met with Obama personally on Thursday to discuss his proposed revisions to the administration’s “drawdown” schedule.
The White House visit followed Campbell’s Congressional testimony, during which the general said that “Afghanistan has not achieved an enduring level of security and stability that justifies a reduction of our support.” He demanded Congressional support for daily US air raids.
Referring to the Obama administration’s Afghanistan policy, Campbell criticized the White House for earlier plans to “drawdown” US forces in the country. “They banked on hope instead of reality, and now they’re paying the piper,” he said.
Campbell’s comments, which flout the basic principle of civilian control of the military, are part of growing pressure from sections of the political and military establishment for expanded war in Afghanistan and throughout Central Asia and the Middle East. For its part, the Obama administration, which has sought to focus military resources in East Asia, has responded by pledging to intensify operations in Afghanistan.
Last October, the Obama administration reversed its earlier proposal to reduce US troop presence, announcing that 10,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan at least through the end of his presidency. Behind the scenes, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has been active in planning the expansion of the “secret war” in the country.
In January, the Obama administration authorized the de facto expansion of the war nominally targeting the Islamic State, waged since 2014 across Syria and Iraq, into portions of northeastern Afghanistan.
These moves are also a repines to the intensifying crisis of Washington’s puppet regime in Kabul, which has undercut the administration’s efforts to maintain the US grip over Afghanistan through a minimal exertion of US ground strength.
The Kabul regime has been incapable of securing key cities throughout the country, including Kunduz, where new Taliban assaults are anticipated, central areas of Helmand province and even its own capital. US imperialism has responded by bolstering its presence in the country.
Also of concern to Washington are the efforts of China to secure more of a strategic foothold in Afghanistan, which the US considers a stronghold of its military-political agenda in Central Asia. Reports Sunday that Kabul has accepted Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing’s proposals for projects to enhance railway and other infrastructure linking the two countries have underscored the growing tensions within Afghanistan produced by the growing US-China struggle.