Britain’s Royal Navy is sending a nuclear-powered submarine to the Falkland Islands which have long been the subject of a sovereignty dispute between Britain and Argentina…

Earlier, Argentina reacted angrily to the Royal Navy’s decision to send its Dauntless destroyer to the South Atlantic. Prince William’s arriving in the Falklands in early February also infuriated Argentina, which described the move as a provocation, lamenting the fact that Prince William arrived on the disputable archipelago in the “uniform of a conquistador.”

Trafalgar class nuclear-powered submarine
According to the newspaper, the Trafalgar-class submarine is expected to be in the islands’ waters by April – the 30th anniversary of the start of the 1982 war between Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands which Argentina calls the Malvinas. During its upcoming mission in the South Atlantic, the sophisticated submarine, equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Spearfish torpedoes, is due to call at the Falkland Islands capital Port Stanley at least twice, several unnamed sources in the UK Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defense has declined to officially comment on sending its nuclear submarine to the South Atlantic, thousands of miles away from Britain. It is absolutely clear, our political commentator says, that the move is little more than London’s muscle-flexing in the region which is almost certain to exacerbate even further what are already tense relations between Britain and Argentina.
The two countries’ war of words has reached an apogee over the past few days. Earlier, Argentina reacted angrily to the Royal Navy’s decision to send its Dauntless destroyer to the South Atlantic. Prince William’s arriving in the Falklands in early February also infuriated Argentina, which described the move as a provocation, lamenting the fact that Prince William arrived on the disputable archipelago in the “uniform of a conquistador.” The British side, in turn, insists that the deployment of Prince William and the warships is “entirely routine”, while Argentina argues that this will damage its national security. It is accusing Britain of militarizing the Falkland Islands, with London bringing charges of “colonialism” against Buenos Aires.
It is worth noting that the two nations’ diplomatic friction over the Falkland Islands has intensified since 2010, when British-based oil companies began to show their interest in the South Atlantic seabed.
Late last year, Argentina and Brazil banned civilian ships flying the Falklands flag from entering their ports. Buenos Aires also blames London for failing to stick to the relevant UN resolution which urges both sides to sit down at the negotiating table in order to resolve their territorial dispute. The document also warns both sides against any unilateral projects in the waters around the Falkland Islands pending negotiations which are yet to be started. It seems, however, that London is reluctant to adhere to UN recommendations given the irreconcilable stance by top British officials, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who recently reiterated his unwillingness to discuss the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands with Argentina.
London proceeds from the assumption that the Falkland Islands have been an essential part of Britain since 1833. It is very unlikely that this drive will diminish in the future, our commentator says, referring to the fact that an abundant supply of natural resources was recently discovered on [and off] the Falklands. In the meantime, Britain’s former Energy Minister Chris Huhne admitted in late January that initial exploration for oil off the Falklands has proved “disappointing.”
It is safe to assume that the oil and gas that Britain is going to extract on the Falklands Islands is unlikely to cost even an ounce of the blood that almost 1,000 British and Argentinean servicemen shed for these islands in 1982, our political commentator concludes.

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Speaking publicly for the first time on the controversial CIA drone strikes, Obama claimed last week they were used strictly to target terrorists. However the new report counters this claim, with international law specialists fiercely positing that the strikes amount to little more than state-sanctioned extra-judicial executions, and going on to question just how the US government would react if another state such as China or Russia started taking similar “justified” action against those they declared enemies.

The upsurge in Washington’s unmanned war has been so dramatic that the US now has 7,000 drones in operation, with 12,000 more on the ground, while not a single new manned combat aircraft is under research or development at any western aerospace company.

ISLAMABAD: In what can only be described as a gross violation of the Geneva Convention, the CIA-sponsored drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of innocent civilians involved in either rescuing injured victims or partaking in funerals.

According to a report published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism with the Sunday Times, between 282 and 535 civilians, including 60 minors, have been credibly reported as killed as a result of drone strikes since US President Barack Obama took office three years ago.

“A three-month investigation including eyewitness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims,” affirmed the report. It went on to state that “More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”

Speaking publicly for the first time on the controversial CIA drone strikes, Obama claimed last week they were used strictly to target terrorists. However the new report counters this claim, with international law specialists fiercely positing that the strikes amount to little more than state-sanctioned extra-judicial executions, and going on to question just how the US government would react if another state such as China or Russia started taking similar “justified” action against those they declared enemies.

It has been reported that when the US attacks militants in Pakistan, the Taliban seals off the site and retrieves the dead. But an examination of thousands of credible reports relating to CIA drone strikes also showed frequent references to civilian rescuers. Mosques often exhort villagers to come forward and help, for example particularly following fatal attacks that mistakenly kill civilians.

The upsurge in Washington’s unmanned war has been so dramatic that the US now has 7,000 drones in operation, with 12,000 more on the ground, while not a single new manned combat aircraft is under research or development at any western aerospace company.

Noted expert on international law Ahmer Bilal Sufi told The News that the American administration will never be able to fully justify these brutal and illegal attacks carried out by technologically sophisticated and surgically precise killer robots since the “self-defense” theory holds little water in the eyes of legal experts.

“The US cannot carry out drone attacks in the Pakistani areas on the basis of self-defense because Pakistani forces had not attacked US targets, and if terrorist attacks are conducted by non-state actors against US forces then this does not permit a violation of international air space,” he said.

He went on to argue that the statement issued by the Foreign Office a few days ago indicated that Pakistan, too, views drone attacks as a clear violation of its sovereignty, adding “The statement clearly stated that drone attacks are unacceptable.” According to the South Asia Portal some 2,101 people have so far been killed in 217 drone attacks in the Pakistani since 2005.

A UN investigator on extra-judicial killings, Philip Alston, in his 29-page report has already raised concerns over these drone strikes: “In a situation in which there is no disclosure of who has been killed, for what reason, and whether innocent civilians have died, the legal principle of international accountability is, by definition, comprehensively violated,” wrote Alston.

PML-N Senator and legal practitioner Syed Zafar Ali Shah told The News that the US certainly violates the sovereignty of Pakistan by carrying out drone attacks on its territory, but in response “we only do lip-service by condemning these attacks with our statements.”

He went on to reiterate that no sovereign state can possibly stand these kinds of attacks, and that the Pakistani government in coordination with the international community should raise its legitimate objections on a more global platform.

INP adds from Washington: The report by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has confirmed that at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missiles. The Bureau counted more than 20 other civilians killed in strikes on funerals. The findings were published on the Bureau’s website and in The Sunday Times of London.

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Showdown in Syria: All roads lead to Tehran

February 7th, 2012 by Adrian Salbuchi

While Israel believes that the road to Tehran is a straight “pre-emptive” military attack super-highway, the US and UK seem to believe that the road to Tehran runs through Damascus.

­This might explain the growing turmoil in Syria that’s being used to try to promote a Libya-like UN Security Council resolution which, if passed, would certainly have Libya-like results…

In recent days, there has been horrific violence in the Syrian city of Homs, as more than 200 people have died in gunfights and bombings. For the Western mainstream media, all the blame lies with Bashar al-Assad’s government, with President Obama spelling out the official line: “Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now. He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately.” The Western Allies’ strategy of encroachment on Syria and Iran seems to run in parallel and sequentially. Its logic is: if Syria falls, Iran will follow.

As with Iraq and Libya, the US, UK and France tried to impose a UN Security Council resolution laying all the blame on the government, and calling for its immediate resignation. Only this time they’ve been vetoed by Russia and China, who are standing up to the west’s global bullying tactics.

No small matter indeed! For it hinges on how the western allies on one side, and the Russians and Chinese on the other understand the root causes of violence and turmoil in Syria and, by extension, throughout the region. On Syria, the official US/UK/French/Israeli line is that the “Arab Spring” has finally reached Syria. In their usual Hollywoodesque boxing match-like “Good Guys versus Bad Guys” worldview, they seem to tell global public opinion, “in this corner we have heroic freedom-fighters trying to bring “democracy” (US brand, of course!) to Syria; in that corner, we have the mean, fundamentalist antidemocratic Assad regime repressing the people”. It might sound like a great script for some teary-eyed Stephen Spielberg thriller, but the real world isn’t like that…

Rather than saying it’s simply the Assad government turning against its people, Russia and China take a more balanced stance on the internal affairs of Syria, where several factions are in conflict. There are the legal authorities of Syria, and there are armed terrorist throngs taking advantage of genuine social grievances and unleashing violence throughout the country, which in turn triggers police repression. With lesser intensity, similar scenes can also been seen on the streets of London, Manchester, New York, Oakland, Athens and other western cities.

In Syria, such groups are in all likelihood profusely armed, trained, financed and abetted by foreign players, pointing straight at US, UK, French and Israeli intelligence entities: public, private, official, unofficial, overt and covert.

Clearly, this is a much more complex view than Washington’s and London’s easier-to-grasp Walt Disney version of reality with its “bad cat fighting good Tweety Bird” rhetoric.

The UN resolution the western allies are trying to get imposed on Syria is based on a report and proposal emanating from the Arab League under its present Secretary General Nabyl El Araby, which has regressed into a pro-western political and diplomatic tool. Something similar happened to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under its present Director General Yukiya Amano, as it recently produced a damning report on Iran´s nuclear program based on “intelligence from member states”, implicitly, the US, UK, France and Israel.

What’s happening in Syria today is very bad news for the Syrians, who are becoming the victims of western-style state-sponsored terrorism. Alas! It is, however good news for the rest of the world. And it has made Russia and China stand up to the US, UK, France and Israel: Russia and China are not ready to tolerate a re-run of Iraq and Libya.

It seems today’s foremost geopolitical problem is that the forces running the United States, United Kingdom, France and Israel are increasingly out of control. They have no qualms in risking global nuclear war if that’s what it takes to achieve their political, financial – even Messianic! – objectives. They clearly must be stopped.

A year ago, the western allies launched clandestine operations triggering the so-called Arab Spring, which has brought hundreds of thousands of deaths, injuries, and the destruction and demise of Libya.
Would the western allies dare to include Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine in their list of Arab Spring countries, recommending that they too rise up in arms against their invaders?

Syria is yet another example of western double standards. The west complains about Bashar al-Assad fighting the very terrorists they finance, but says nothing when Israel launches cluster and phosphorus bombs over Gaza’s civilians. They overran Libya “to protect civilians”, but discretely looked the other way when their Egyptian military semi-allies repressed the people, kicking young women senseless on the streets of Cairo.

As US President Franklyn D Roosevelt once replied when an aide pointed out to him that Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was a complete SOB: “Yes! He is a SOB, but he’s our SOB…!”
Right now, Syria is being dragged towards civil war. Can we believe everything the western media report and western governments parrot? Remember the “take-out-Saddam-if-you-don’t-want-to-see-a-mushroom-cloud-over-one-of-our-cities” rhetoric?

Today, Syrian news agency SANA gives a very different story on the Homs episode, reporting that “armed terrorist groups on Monday attacked citizens and law-enforcement members at several areas in Homs… the authorities were pursuing and clashing with them. Armed terrorist groups exploded two explosive devices behind the building of the Technical Services at al-Dablan Neighborhood in Homs. Terrorists also shelled with mortars several quarters in Homs, while others broke into houses in Idleb Governorates. A number of citizens escaped from an armed terrorist group to a mosque in Rastan City, where the armed terrorist group burnt the mosque, killing and injuring some of the citizens”. Why doesn’t the western media report this?

Think of it: if Mossad, the CIA and MI6 are suspected of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists on the streets of Tehran in veritable exercises of blatant state-sponsored terrorism, couldn’t they be doing this on a much vaster scale inside Syria?

Every time we see horrendous, yet unclear, violence – whether in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Libya, 9/11 in New York or 7 July in London, – two key factors must be unraveled: (1) who benefits? (2) follow the money (who’s paying for the bombs, logistics, bullets, satellite and drone support?)


Perhaps the US, UK and France want to attack Iran, going first through Syria.

Perhaps Israel wants to attack Iran, going directly at it.

Probably, these are two sides of the same coin…

Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina.

The U.S. and Canada recently signed several bilateral agreements that will further strengthen continental security and defense cooperation. Deeper military integration between both countries is part of efforts to establish a North American security perimeter and better address common global threats.

Following the recent Permanent Joint Board on Defense (PJBD) meeting which took place in Ottawa, the Commander of Canada Command, Lt.-Gen Walter Semianiw and the Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Gen. Charles Jacoby, Jr. signed three military documents. The first was the Combined Defense Plan which a backgrounder described as a, “planning framework between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM, and NORAD for enhanced defense cooperation between Canada and the U.S. should governments require each other’s assistance.” The second is the Information Sharing Memorandum of Understanding, “an arrangement between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM and NORAD to identify and provide for ease of sharing information amongst the three organizations.” The Civil Assistance Plan, which was originally signed in 2008 and allows the armed forces of one nation to support the other during an emergency was also renewed for two years.

Lee Berthiaume of Postmedia News reported that, “The Combined Defense Plan has been under discussion for several years and would further integrate cross-border military co-operation at a time when the Harper government is trying to reassure Washington it has a reliable partner in Canada when it comes to security.” Defense Minister Peter MacKay is quoted as saying, “This agreement provides a framework for the combined defense of Canada and the U.S. during peace, contingencies, and war.” He added, “The plan describes the authorities and means by which the two governments would approve homeland military operations in the event of a mutually agreed threat, and how our two militaries would collaborate and share information.” In his speech in front of the PJBD, Minister MacKay also called for, “increased military involvement implementing the Beyond the Border strategy, saying the Canadian Forces and its American counterparts should be supporting civilian agencies monitoring the cross-border security.” Also on the agenda at the defense forum was security cooperation in the Arctic, along with Canadian and U.S. engagement in the Western Hemisphere.

In an article for iPolitics, Colin Horgan wrote that at the recent bilateral defense meeting, “MacKay noted that such initiatives as Beyond the Border and the Regulatory Cooperation Council Action Plan will work to ensure that the vital economic partnership that joins our two countries continues to be the cornerstone of our economic competitiveness and security.” Defense Minister MacKay emphasized that security is linked to the economy and called for even greater cooperation to support the dual action plans. He stated, “We need to increasingly focus our military forces in support of those civilian departments and agencies that have the lead.” MacKay also explained, “We need to all work together to mitigate capability gaps, share best practices and co-operate on new approaches.” He went on to say, “there is still room for more integrated collaboration – domestically and bi-nationally.”

The latest military agreements further promote a perimeter approach to security. They are part of the Tri Command Vision efforts to merge NORAD, USNORTHCOM and Canada Command into one. As for the PJBD, it has once again become more relevant as a venue for bilateral security and military dialogue. Created in 1940 the panel, “is the senior advisory body on continental defense. It is composed of military and diplomatic representatives from both nations.” Over the years, it has, “served as a strategic-level military board charged with considering, in a broad sense, land, sea, air and space issues.” This includes areas concerning, “policy, operations, financial, logistics and other aspects of Canada-U.S. defense relations.” The PJBD is well positioned to play a significant role in plans for a fully integrated North American security perimeter, as well as in other facets of the evolving Canada-U.S. partnership.

On January 6, the Obama administration released the new document, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense. The new strategy calls for maintaining a strong presence in the Middle East, as well as an expanding role in the Asia-Pacific region. Much of the focus will be on countering China’s rising power. This will include supporting large bases in Japan and South Korea, along with stationing troops in Australia. The U.S. will also continue efforts to forge stronger military alliances with the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Burma. While the plan envisions a leaner military force, there is little doubt that Washington will continue to police the world. How does Canada fit into this new realignment of American strategic priorities? It is clear that the U.S. will rely more on its allies during international missions. Canada may gain a greater voice in future military operations, but it will also mean that they will have to bear more of the burden. In the coming years, as NATO members begin cutting defense spending, Canada will be counted on to play an even bigger role in any possible overseas conflicts.

Whether it’s the perimeter security deal, the ongoing mission in Afghanistan or the bombing campaign that took place in Libya, the U.S. and Canada continue to enhance security and military cooperation. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, both countries have further deepened their defense relationship. In addition, Canada has pursued a more U.S.-style foreign policy. This includes imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, along with further expanding sanctions against Syria. Much like the U.S., Harper has singled out Iran as a threat to international peace and security. He has echoed the same sentiments that the regime is seeking a nuclear weapon and would be prepared to use it. Defense Minister Peter MacKay has also indicated that if necessary, Canada’s armed forces are ready to offer assistance in Syria. More than ever, the U.S, and Canada share a more common approach to advancing security interests in not only North America, but around the globe.
Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: [email protected]. Visit his blog at


Political Prisoners in the North American Homeland

February 7th, 2012 by J. B. Gerald

The legal systems of Canada and the U.S. make no separate recognition of “political prisoners.” This encourages police malfeasance and a bending of the legal system to cope with political protest in the same manner as crimes of self-interest. Confused by the difference, society prefers to sort its members into “good” and “bad”. As totalitarian controls by government increase, more people will probably assert their humanity and the numbers of political prisoners will grow, but in the process criminalize entire groups of people who have strong convictions, integrity, loyalty to community, and care deeply about what happens to their country, society, humanity.

In Canada the concept of what is a political prisoner, varies by community. Native people have been political prisoners for generations, as have the poor, confined by prison or circumstance. Due to the Canadian government’s Middle East policies which involve strong interface with Israel, media focus on political prisoners for the past ten years concerns Muslims as suspects in the ‘war on terrorism.’ The high profile political prisoners were arrested on Canadian Security Certificates which according to Canada’s Supreme Court , ignored the victims’ human rights and needed adjustment. The Conservative government’s compliance was minimal and inadequate. Held on a Security Certificate for 12 years in detention and house arrest, without charge or knowing his accusers, Mohammad Mahjoub was released from several limitations of his freedom, February 3rd, by Federal Court in Toronto which found the intrusive surveillance unreasonable. Mahjoub had previously chosen to return to prison rather than inflict the government’s surveillance on his family.

With current trials of G20 protestors and an “Occupy” movement which may last, Canada begins to field the edge of its conscience. June 2010 in Toronto, thousands of Canadians protested the G20 conference of global leaders and were met with illegal police tactics, massive pre-planned detention, threats, and abuse of the peoples’ human rights. With occasional possibly ‘staged’ exceptions, the protests were non-violent. According to The Dominion, of the more than eleven hundred arrested, 66 remain in legal battles while some still face charges. Seven are serving sentences for their participation: Ryan Rainville, Mandy Hiscocks, Alex Hundert, Leah Henderson, Peter Hopperton, Erik Lankin (released Jan. 26th), Adam Lewis, and Greg Noltie-Rowley.

Mandy Hiscocks, convicted of “Counseling to Commit Mischief and Counseling to Obstruct Police,” faced the judge before her sentencing and objected to his comparison of G20 protest tactics to the illegal and racist tactics of the Ku Klux Klan. She noted there’s no comparison between G20 protest tactics and the K.K.K.’s, and that it was tactics the judge objected to rather than the Klan’s insistence on White Supremacy. She is a credit to Canadians and was sentenced to from 20 months to 2 years.

A historical note about the Klan: a White Supremacist group in the U.S. South the Ku Klux Klan was one result of the U.S. Civil War and Northern Occupation. While the K.K.K. claimed to protect Southern values its insistence on White Supremacy betrayed the people’s tradition. In the old South insurrections of black slaves and poor whites joined forces and were an ongoing primary resistance to enslavement. This brought extreme control mechanisms to keep the groups apart. White Supremacy always serves the machinery of controls. The K.K.K. relied on lynching effected by mobs within a hierarchy of authority. By the 1960′s the murders became more clandestine with overt burning of crosses and gatherings as symbolic shows of assent. During the 1960′s the U.S. K.K.K. increasingly included FBI, Tobacco and Firearms, local law enforcement and other covert informants. These were implicated in the murders of civil rights workers and Blacks. The Klan’s effect on white communities through its code of silence, the fact that it denied its victims the chance to answer any accusations against them (familiar in current U.S. law on detentions and Canadian Security Certificates), and exclusion of non-white enterprises, provides an unspoken more polished interface with contemporary neo-conservatives in the U.S. and Canada. In Canada the subliminal strain of White Supremacy is rarely addressed directly, in a culture increasingly formed by intellectual management.

On the U.S. rolls of political prisoners the culture’s areas of intolerance remain constant. In this century so far Muslim suspects in a “war on terrorism” have been primary targets within a framework that has brutally suppressed Blacks and all dissidents, an ongoing oppression with repeating patterns of targeting, entrapment, or selective application of the law in crimes unrelated to the moral crime the dissident is addressing. Revolutionaries whose crimes are a result of being trapped into direct confrontations with police could be considered prisoners of war and granted nominal rights at least under Geneva Conventions.

Increasingly at risk are community leaders, “Occupy” activists, veterans, and any who subscribe to an internationally recognized code of human rights. Application of international laws, including the Geneva Conventions, is discouraged in the U.S., if permitted at all. Because application threatens the fabric of U.S. law, government targets are ‘processed’ with whatever grey area of crime can discredit them most effectively.

On Feb. 3rd U.S. Federal Court in Syracuse forfeited a chance to correct its injustice, and Dr. Rafil Dhafir was re-sentenced to his original term of 22 years in prison, with close to a million dollars restitution required. Dr. Dhafir had supplied Iraqi children with medicines and food in an attempt to save those he could. His actions affirmed Islamic religious law and Judeo-Christianity . His efforts were effectively stopped by prosecution and imprisonment. He was charged and convicted on 59 counts for breaking “Sanctions,” fraud, tax evasion, etc.. The thorough vetting of the case by all U.S. agencies involved, left out of the equation a genocide of the Iraqi people.

Community leaders are taken out of community by charges intended to disgrace them, rather than by confronting the necessity of their moral stands. It’s such a customary practice that in Boston, the incarceration of Charles Turner passed unnoticed by national media. A Harvard graduate in the days when Harvard accepted token people of colour, Turner was unpretentious, easy going but very careful. Years later, as a community leader in Boston representing Blacks and the poor he was elected to the Boston City Council. An effective outspoken Councillor he was provably targeted for disgrace by an FBI operation, then charged with extortion for accepting a campaign contribution from an informant applying for a liquor license, and then not telling FBI agents ‘the truth.’ Without guile and loyal to his constituency, Turner tried to explain the framing in court. He’s serving a three year sentence in West Virginia and Boston is left with the message: if they can do that to Charles Turner they can to anyone.

Mumia Abu-Jamal as a journalist was known as a “voice of the voiceless” covering the dispossessed of Philadelphia. He was taken out of paid work by a murder charge. After a corrupt trial and years on death row international pressure, community outrage, the U.S. court system and Philadelphia’s D.A., managed to grant him a reprieve. No longer subject to the death penalty and freed from death row Abu-Jamal was transferred to Mahanoy State Correctional Institution’s “Restrictive housing unit,” ie. solitary confinement, with no access to the media. Finally on January 27th Prison Radio [access:< >] could report his release into the general prison population.

Long-time political prisoner Dave Gilbert’s Love and Struggle: My Life in the SDS, The Weather Underground, and Beyond was published by PM Press, 2011 and is currently being launched at ‘alternative’ venues throughout North America. Gilbert grew out of Boston and New York student anti-war resistance in the Sixties, worked the Weather Underground during the Seventies, was arrested in 1981 with a unit of the Black Liberation Army. He’s serving a 75 year minimum sentence for involvement in the deaths of 2 police and a guard during a Brinks robbery to raise operating costs. His other published works include: AIDS Conspiracy?

Tracking Down the Real Genocide. Gilbert was one of a few North-eastern U.S. whites who could work with a Black American resistance that lacked the option of non-violence.
Marilyn Buck died August 3, 2010 in Brooklyn New York, shortly after her release on July 15, 2010, from federal prison. She was serving eighty years of sentences (accused of supplying arms to the Black Liberation Army, of complicity in Assata Shakur’s escape from prison, of bombings in the U.S. and internationally). With most of her co-defendants released (Susan Rosenberg received pardon from President Clinton), Bush’s Justice Department granted her an early release on presumptive parole. On Jan. 21, 2010 she wrote “…been battling since Oct. to be treated medically. Found out I have a sarcoma, just got out of hospit. post-surgery…” It was the last letter I received. She was transferred to a hospital prison, and dead less than seven months later. She was an American poet.

Lynne Stewart, the U.S. court appointed attorney for Islamic Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, is over 71 and fighting cancer as well as diabetes in a U.S. prison. Her appeal challenging the length of her sentence goes to court February 29th in Manhattan: the government extended her prison time from 28 months to 10 years after she bravely joked about the initial sentence on the courthouse steps. Her conviction: communicating on behalf of her blind and imprisoned client. She never should have been sentenced to jail. Known through her life’s work as an uncompromising lawyer for the disadvantaged of varying political beliefs, her case represents a clear public attempt to intimidate attorneys representing fundamental human rights.

There are other political prisoners who were/are thinking of the people, and without self-interest. There are a lot of them. There will be more, of all ages. The paradox is that many are in no way “criminal” but simply the articulate and deeply caring people of their communities.

Partial sources available online:

“My statement to the court ,” Mandy Hiscocks, Jan. 16, 2012,; “Mandy’s Blog,” current [access:< >];
“Mandy Hiscocks. given a 20-24 month sentence for Toronto 2010 G20 Conspiracy,” anon., Jan 19, 2012, Infoshop News;
“Girr Rowley sentenced to 9 Months for G20 Action,” Jan. 26, 2012 & “Erik Lankin Released!” Feb. 3, 2012,
Guelph Anarchist Black Cross; “G20 Fallout Continues,” Shailagh Keaney, Jan. 13, 2012, The Dominion;
“Dr. Dhafir was resentenced today to 22 years,” Feb. 3rd, 2012, DhafirTrial; “Dhafir Ordered to Serve 264-Month Jail Term on Resentencing,” FBI, Feb. 6, 2012,
7thSpace Interactive; “Court: Government fails to show that it is reasonable to keep Mahjoub under conditions,” Press release, Feb. 3, 2012,
People’s Commission Network apprec. nowar-paix; “Political Prisoners Update,” J.B.Gerald, Jan. 31, 2012,;
“Chuck Civil Hearing @ Monday @ 9am,” Admin., Feb. 3, 2012, Support Chuck Turner; “Support Chuck Turner,” website, Feb. 3, 2012 [access:< >]; Website, current, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner [access":< >];

“The Torture of Mumia Abu-Jamal Continues off Death Row,” Hans Bennett, Jan. 23, 2012, The Bullet; “David Gilbert, Political Prisoner,” current, Kersplebedeb; “Lynne Stewart Appeal Brief Filed,” April 1, 2011, and “Lynne Stewart Reply Brief Filed,” August 4, 2011, Justice for Lynne Stewart [access:< > ].

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PHONY DATA: America’s “January Jobs” are Statistical Artifacts

February 7th, 2012 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Last Friday the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in the first month of this new year 243,000  jobs were created and the unemployment rate (U.3) fell to 8.3 percent.  This good news is a mirage. It is due to faulty seasonal adjustments and to the BLS birth/death model. In a prolonged downturn, seasonal adjustments and the birth/death model produce nonexistent employment. 

The unadjusted data show a rise in the unemployment rate. The birth/death model, which estimates the net effect of jobs lost from business failures and jobs created by new start-ups was designed for a normal growing economy, not for a prolonged downturn four years old. Statistician John Williams ( reports that the BLS adds an average of 48,000 new jobs per month to the payroll employment report based on the birth/death model even though the economy has not  come out of the deep recession. In other words, over the course of a year, the birth/death model adds about 580,000 jobs to the reported jobs numbers.  End of year benchmark revisions quietly take the nonexistent jobs out of the totals, but these revisions do not receive headlines and pass largely unnoticed.

The reported January jobs gains are contradicted by other official reports. For example, The January payroll jobs report shows 50,000 new jobs in manufacturing, but according to the recently released 4th quarter GDP, 81% of the reported growth consisted of undesired inventory accumulation.  Normally, companies produce for sales not for inventories. Why would manufacturers be hiring people to produce goods for undesired inventories?

Most of the new reported January jobs are in services. The January jobs report has 24,500 new jobs in wholesale and retail trade and 13,100 in transportation and warehousing. However the data shows that inflation-corrected real retail sales are down. Why does it take more people to sell fewer goods?

The other remaining sizable components of the January jobs number are: professional and technical services (30,000), administrative and waste services (36,700), health care and social assistance (29,700), and leisure and hospitality (44,000) of which the largest component is food services and drinking places (32,800). 

The leisure, waitresses and bartender employment numbers seen high for January. Perhaps it was an excellent ski month in the US.  However, accommodation (hotels)  does not support this conclusion as accommodation lost 3,900 jobs.  

The BLS reports 21,000 new jobs in construction. However, the housing report says that housing starts dropped more than forecast in December, falling 4.1 percent. Why does it take more construction workers to produce fewer houses? Building permits, a proxy for future construction, were little changed.

As the adjusted data produce phantom jobs and employment, the BLS should headline the raw unadjusted data. With so many discouraged workers unable to find jobs, dropping discouraged workers out of the measure of unemployment seriously understates the true magnitude of the unemployment problem.  If Americans were aware of the double-digit unemployment rate, would they be as tolerant of Washington’s multi-trillion dollar wars?  Would Obama be facing a tougher re-election campaign? Would Republicans be pushing to reduce the federal budget deficit at the expense of the social safety net?  

The phony data serve many interests, but not those of the American people.

MUNICH: The world community has the right to interfere in the settlement of domestic conflicts only on the basis of Chapter7 of the UN Charter.

“Naturally we do not rule out situations when the world community is forced to interfere with the purpose of preventing or removing threats to international peace and security. But this should be done in strict compliance with Article 7of the UN Charter,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the Munich security conference last Saturday.

Speaking of the moves of foreign players in relation to domestic conflicts Lavrov said: “Military-political instability in certain regions should not become a magnet for the use of force in conditions of the weakening of customary levers of influence of leading nations on international developments.”

“Support for some one side to a domestic conflict or another, outside attempts of imposing patterns of political systems is a dangerous road leading to the expansion of zones of instability and strengthening of elements of chaos in international relations. One doesn’t have to go far to find examples of that,” he said.

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The American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and its strike group are running naval drills off the US East coast ahead of deployment to the Persian Gulf. And the drill scenario seems to indicate potential conflict with Iran.

The map, referring to Florida shores as “The Treasure Coast,” depicts nine countries, two of which – Garnet and North Garnet are identified as fundamentalist Islamic theocracies suspected of supporting terror groups.

The drill map also depicts a 56 km (35 miles) wide strait located some 320 km (200 miles) from the coast. The mock strait’s shape and width is identical to the Strait of Hormuz – the key oil shipping route, part of which is controlled by Iran.

Although US military officials deny the maneuvers are connected with escalated tensions around Iran saying strike group is “training for all the mission areas.” However, Rear Adm. Dennis Fitzpatrick, commander of Strike Force Training Atlantic told The Navy Times: “there obviously is an emphasis on where we think the ship will go.”

The 50-year-old aircraft carrier Enterprise, leading the naval exercise, is to join two other US strike groups in the Persian Gulf by March. This will be the final deployment for the oldest carrier in Washington’s fleet.

Meanwhile, Tehran has also launched ground drills near the Strait of Hormuz, which is used to transmit nearly a third of global oil exports. The Iranian military says the drill is preparing for a military conflict.

Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz if the international community imposes economic sanctions. The US and EU, tightening their diplomatic rhetoric, accuse Iran of building nuclear weapons, though no proof has ever been presented for such claims. Tehran denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is strictly for civil use.

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Is US-China collision inevitable?

February 6th, 2012 by S P Seth

As part of a new resolve to play a more assertive role, the US has reinforced and strengthened its strategic ties with Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Australia and Japan.

It is pertinent to remember that wars have often been caused by miscalculation rather than deliberation. And this is even more so when an emerging power is staking its claims impinging on the existing superpower’s perceived interests and/or seen to be threatening its regional allies. This is how the two World Wars started.

Even as Iran has come centre-stage of another likely military conflict in the Middle East with the US and its western allies determined to force it to forgo its nuclear programme, the Asia-Pacific region is emerging as another potential trouble spot pitting China against the US. With the US now disengaged from Iraq, and in the process of military withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014, it has dawned on Washington that China has strengthened its role in the Asia-Pacific and is slowly, but steadily, working to push it out of the region. China regards the Asia-Pacific as its strategic space and the US as an external power. The US has decided to hit back by declaring that it is not going anywhere and, indeed, will beef up its military presence in the region. Straddling both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, the US considers itself a legitimate Pacific country.

US-China relations have never been easy. They are likely to become even more complicated after the recent announcement of a US defence review that prioritises the Asia-Pacific region. Even though the review seeks to make sizeable cuts of about $500 billion in the US’s defence budget over the next 10 years, it would not be at the cost of its engagement with the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, as President Obama told reporters, “We will be strengthening our presence in the Asia-Pacific…”

Washington’s decision to make the Asia-Pacific a priority strategic area was presaged during Obama’s recent visit to Australia. He hit out at China on a wide range of issues, while announcing an enhanced US role, including the use of Australian bases/facilities for an effective military presence. He urged China to act like a “grown up” and play by the rules. Elaborating on this in an address to the Australian parliament, he said, “We need growth that is fair, where every nation plays by the rules; where workers’ rights are respected and our businesses can compete on a level playing field; where the intellectual property and new technologies that fuel innovation are protected; and where currencies are market-driven, so no nation has an unfair advantage.”

This catalogue of US economic grievances against China has been the subject of intermittent discussions between the two countries without any satisfactory results. On the question of human rights and freedoms in China, Obama said, “Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty.”

The US is upping the ante in its relations with China, with Asia-Pacific centre-stage. It does not accept China’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea and its island chains. This has caused naval incidents with Vietnam, the Philippines, and with Japan in the East China Sea, and a close naval skirmish or two with the US. As part of a new resolve to play a more assertive role, the US has reinforced and strengthened its strategic ties with Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Australia and Japan.

In announcing cuts to the defence budget over the next decade, President Obama seemed keen to dispel the notion that this would make the US a lesser military power. He said, “The world must know — the US is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”

The US’s continued military superiority has a catch though, which is that the US will be adjusting its long-standing doctrine of being able to wage two wars simultaneously. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta maintains that the US military would still be able to confront more than one threat at a time by being more flexible and adaptable than in the past.

Be that as it may, the increased focus on Asia-Pacific has upset China. Its hope of making the region into its own strategic backyard, with the US distracted in the Middle East and its economy in the doldrums, might not be that easy with the new US strategic doctrine prioritising Asia-Pacific. Not surprisingly, the Chinese media has not reacted kindly to it. According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, “…the US should abstain from flexing its muscles, as this will not help solve regional disputes.” It added, “If the US indiscreetly applies militarism in the region, it will be like a bull in a china shop [literally and figuratively], and endanger peace instead of enhancing regional stability.”

The Global Times called on the Chinese government to develop more long-range strike weapons to deter the US Navy.

Australia, the US’s closet regional ally, fears that China’s rising economic and military power has the potential of destabilising the region. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd hopes though (as he told the Asia Society in New York) that there was “nothing inevitable” about a future war between the US and China, emphasising the need to craft a regional architecture that recognised the coexistence of both countries, and the acceptance of US alliances in the region. He also saw hope (as a counterpoint to China) in the “collective economic might of Japan, India, Korea, Indonesia and Australia,” which means that, hopefully, China’s perceived threat might be balanced and contained with the US’s enhanced commitment to the region, and the rising clout of a cluster of regional countries.

There are any number of issues that could become a flashpoint for future conflict, like Taiwan, Korea, the South China Sea and its islands, the maritime dispute with Japan and so on. With China determined to uphold its ‘core’ national interests, and the US and others equally committed to, for instance, freedom of navigation through the South China Sea, it only needs a spark to ignite a prairie fire.

As it is, neither China nor the US wants military conflict between their two countries. China’s official position was expounded the other day in Beijing by its Vice-President Xi Jinping, who is also the country’s president-in-waiting. Xi, who is expected to visit the US next month, hoped that “the US can view China’s strategic intentions…in a sensible and objective way, and be committed to develop a cooperative partnership”. And he emphasised that: “Ultimate caution should be given to major and sensitive issues that concern each country’s core interests to avoid any distraction and setbacks in China-US relations.”

The problem, though, is that when it comes to ‘core interests’, objectivity is generally the first casualty. For instance, the US complains that China’s strategic doctrine, if there is one, lacks transparency. The double-digit growth in China’s defence budget, as viewed in Washington, is way beyond its defensive needs. On the other hand, the US has the largest defence budget of any country in the world. It is pertinent to remember that wars have often been caused by miscalculation rather than deliberation. And this is even more so when an emerging power is staking its claims impinging on the existing superpower’s perceived interests and/or seen to be threatening its regional allies. This is how the two World Wars started.

One can only hope that China and the US will carve out a new peaceful way of coexistence and cooperation, though the past experience in such situations is not very encouraging. Indeed, it points to the inevitability of a potential military conflict sooner or later.

The writer is a senior journalist and academic based in Sydney, Australia.

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Contro chi è rivolto in realtà  il cosiddetto “embargo petrolifero contro l’Iran” dell’Unione Europea? Si tratta di una importante questione geostrategica. Oltre a rifiutare le nuove misure dell’UE contro l’Iran come controproducenti, Teheran ha messo in guardia gli Stati membri dell’Unione Europea che l’embargo petrolifero contro l’Iran danneggerà loro e le loro economie, molto più che non l’Iran. Teheran ha così avvertito i dirigenti dei paesi dell’Unione Europea che le nuove sanzioni sono stolte e contrarie ai loro interessi nazionali e comunitari; ma ciò è corretto? Alla fine, chi beneficerà della catena di eventi che vengono messi in moto?

L’embargo petrolifero contro l’Iran è nuovo?

L’embargo del petrolio contro l’Iran non è una cosa nuova. Nel 1951, l’amministrazione del primo ministro iraniano Mohammed Mossadegh, con il sostegno del parlamento iraniano, nazionalizzò l’industria petrolifera iraniana. In risposta al programma di nazionalizzazione del Dr. Mossadegh, gli inglesi bloccarono militarmente  le acque territoriali e i porti nazionali dell’Iran con la Royal Navy inglese, e impedirono all’Iran di esportare il suo petrolio. Inoltre impedirono militarmente il commercio iraniano. Londra congelò anche beni iraniani e iniziò una campagna per isolare l’Iran con le sanzioni. Il governo del Dr. Mossadegh era democratico e non poteva essere facilmente diffamato internamente dagli inglesi; così cominciarono a ritrarre Mossadegh come una pedina dell’Unione Sovietica che avrebbe trasformato l’Iran in un paese comunista con i suoi alleati politici marxisti.

L’embargo illegale navale internazionale britannico fu seguito da un cambio di regime a Teheran, attraverso un colpo di stato progettato dagli anglo-statunitensi nel 1953. Il colpo di stato del 1953 trasformò lo Scià di Persia da figura costituzionale a monarca assoluto e in un dittatore, come i sovrani di Giordania, Arabia Saudita, Bahrain e Qatar. L’Iran fu trasformato in una notte da monarchia costituzionale democratica in dittatura.

Oggi, un embargo petrolifero imposto militarmente contro l’Iran non è possibile, come lo fu nei primi anni ’50. Invece Londra e Washington usano il linguaggio della giustizia e si nascondono dietro i falsi pretesti sulle armi nucleari iraniane. Come negli anni ’50, l’embargo sul petrolio contro l’Iran è legato al cambio di regime. Eppure, ci sono anche più ampi obiettivi che vanno oltre i confini dell’Iran, legati al progetto di Washington d’imporre un embargo petrolifero contro gli iraniani.

L’Unione Europea e la vendita del petrolio iraniano

Il principale cliente del petrolio iraniano è la Repubblica Popolare Cinese. Secondo l’Agenzia Internazionale dell’Energia (AIE) di Parigi, che fu creata dopo l’embargo petrolifero arabo del 1973 come ala strategica del Blocco occidentale dell’organizzazione per la Cooperazione Economica e lo Sviluppo (OCSE), l’Iran esporta 543.000 barili di petrolio al giorno verso la Cina. Gli altri clienti di grandi dimensioni dell’Iran sono India, Turchia, Giappone e Corea del Sud. L’India importa 341.000 barili al giorno dall’Iran, la Turchia 370.000 barili al giorno, il Giappone 251.000 barili e la Corea del Sud 239.000 barili al giorno.

Secondo il ministero iraniano del Petrolio, l’Unione europea rappresenta solo il 18% delle esportazioni di petrolio iraniano, il che significa meno di un quinto delle vendite di petrolio iraniano. Solo “collettivamente” l’Unione europea è il secondo cliente più grande dell’Iran. In tutto i paesi dell’UE importano 510.000 barili al giorno dall’Iran. La posizione collettiva che tutti i paesi dell’UE importatori di petrolio iraniano hanno, è stato evidenziato da coloro che vogliono sottolineare l’efficacia dell’embargo petrolifero dell’Unione europea contro l’Iran.

L’Iran può sostituire le vendite di petrolio verso l’Unione europea attraverso nuovi acquirenti o incrementando le vendite ai clienti esistenti, come Cina e India. Un accordo iraniano per cooperare con la Cina per lo stoccaggio delle riserve strategiche cinesi, riempirebbe gran parte del vuoto lasciato dall’Unione europea. Così, l’embargo del petrolio contro l’Iran avrà minimi effetti diretti contro l’Iran. Piuttosto, è più probabile che uno qualsiasi degli effetti che l’economia iraniana subirà, sarà legato alle conseguenze globali dell’embargo petrolifero contro l’Iran.

L’Iran e la guerra globale delle valute

Secondo il Fondo monetario internazionale (FMI), sia il dollaro che l’euro costituiscono insieme l’84,4% delle riserve valutarie mondiali scambiate alla fine del 2011. Il dollaro statunitense da solo, compone il 61,7% di questo dato, costituendo la maggior parte delle riserve valutarie mondiali scambiate nel 2011. La vendita di energia è una parte importante di questa equazione, perché il dollaro statunitense è legato al commercio del petrolio. Così, il commercio di petrolio attraverso quello che viene chiamato petro-dollaro, aiuta a sostenere il prestigio internazionale del dollaro statunitense. I paesi di tutto il mondo sono stati praticamente costretti a utilizzare il dollaro statunitense per mantenere le loro esigenze commerciali e le loro transazioni energetiche.

Per evidenziare l’importanza del commercio internazionale del petrolio per gli Stati Uniti, tutti i membri del Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Arabia Saudita, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman ed Emirati Arabi Uniti – hanno le loro valute nazionali ancorate al dollaro statunitense e sostengono il petro-dollaro col commercio petrolifero in dollari statunitensi. Inoltre, le valute di Libano, Giordania, Eritrea, Gibuti, Belize e di diverse isole tropicali nel Mar dei Caraibi, sono anch’esse tutte ancorato al dollaro statunitense. A parte i territori d’oltremare degli Stati Uniti, anche El Salvador, Ecuador e Panama ufficialmente utilizzano il dollaro statunitense come moneta nazionale.

L’euro invece è contemporaneamente sia un rivale del dollaro statunitense che una valuta alleati. Entrambe le valute lavorano insieme contro le altre valute, in molti casi, e sembrano essere sempre più controllati da centri di potere finanziario in fusione. A parte i diciassette membri dell’Unione europea, che utilizzano l’euro come moneta propria, il Principato di Monaco, San Marino e Città del Vaticano hanno la concessione di diritti e anche il Montenegro e la provincia serba a maggioranza albanese del Kosovo usano l’euro come valuta nazionale. Al di fuori dell’area dell’euro (zona euro), le valute di Bosnia, Bulgaria, Danimarca, Lettonia, Lituania, in Europa, e le valute di Capo Verde, Comore, Marocco, Repubblica democratica di São Tomé e Príncipe e le due zone CFA in Africa, e le valute di diverse colonie occidentali extraeuropee, come la Groenlandia, sono tutte ancorate all’euro.

Diverse zone monetarie sono direttamente legate all’euro. In Oceania, il franco Comptoirs Français du Pacifique (PCP), chiamato semplicemente Franco del Pacifico (franc pacifique), utilizzato in un’unione monetaria alle dipendenze francesi di Polinesia francese, Nuova Caledonia e Territorio delle Isole Wallis e Futuna è ancorato all’euro. Come accennato in precedenza, le zone CFA in Africa sono anch’esse ancorate all’euro. Così, sia il franco della Comunità Finanziaria dell’Africa (Communauté financière d’Afrique, CFA) o franco CFA dell’Africa occidentale, viene utilizzato da Benin, Burkina Faso, Costa d’Avorio, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal e Togo – che il franco della Cooperazione Finanziaria dell’Africa centrale (Coopération financière en Afrique centrale, CFA) o franco CFA dell’Africa centrale – viene utilizzato da Camerun, Repubblica Centrafricana, Ciad, Repubblica del Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Guinea Equatoriale e Gabon -, hanno il loro destino legato al valore monetario dell’euro.

L’Iran non è alla ricerca di un confronto militare tra le crescenti ostilità con gli Stati Uniti e l’Unione Europea. Nonostante la narrazione deformata che viene presentata, Teheran ha detto che chiuderebbe lo Stretto di Hormuz come ultima risorsa. Gli iraniani hanno anche detto che non lasceranno che le navi degli Stati Uniti o nemiche, attraversino le acque territoriali iraniane, loro diritto legale, e che invece le navi ostili possono attraverso le acque territoriali dell’Oman nello Stretto di Hormuz. Come nota a margine, tra l’altro, il problema per gli Stati Uniti e gli altri avversari dell’Iran, è che le acque dell’Oman nello Stretto di Hormuz sono troppo basse.

Invece di un confronto militare, Teheran sta reagendo  economicamente in diversi modi. Il primo passo, iniziato prima del 2012, sono stati la diversificazione della vendita e degli scambi internazionali del petrolio iraniano, riguardo le rispettive valute di transazione. Questo fa parte di una mossa calcolata dall’Iran per abbandonare l’utilizzo del dollaro statunitense, proprio come Saddam Hussein in Iraq fece nel 2000, come mezzo per combattere contro le sanzioni imposte all’Iraq. In questo contesto, l’Iran ha creato una borsa internazionale dell’energia in competizione con il New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) e l’International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) di Londra, che operano entrambe con il dollaro statunitense per le transazioni. Questa borsa dell’energia, chiamata Kish Oil Bourse, è stata ufficialmente inaugurata nell’agosto del 2011 sull’isola di Kish nel Golfo Persico. Le sue prime operazioni sono state effettuate utilizzando l’euro e il dirhem degli Emirati.

Nel contesto delle rivalità tra di euro e dollaro statunitense, gli iraniani in origine volevano mettere l’euro in un sistema di petro-euro, con la speranza che la competizione tra il dollaro statunitense e l’euro potesse rendere l’Unione europea un alleato dell’Iran e scollegare l’Unione europea dagli Stati Uniti. Con le tensioni politiche crescenti con l’UE, il petro-euro è diventato sempre meno allettante per Teheran. L’Iran ha capito che l’Unione europea è sottomessa agli interessi degli Stati Uniti ed è guidata da capi corrotti. Così, in misura minore, l’Iran ha anche cercato di allontanarsi dall’euro.

Inoltre, l’Iran ha ampliato il proprio abbandono dell’uso del dollaro statunitense e dell’euro, come politica nelle relazioni commerciali bilaterali. Iran e India discutono di pagamenti in oro per il petrolio iraniano. Il commercio iraniano-russo viene condotto in rial iraniani e rubli russi, mentre il commercio iraniano con la Cina e altri paesi asiatici, viene effettuato utilizzando il renminbi cinese, Rial iraniano, yen giapponese e altre valute che non siano il dollaro e l’euro.

Mentre l’euro avrebbe potuto essere il grande vincitore in un sistema di petro-euro, le azioni dell’Unione europea hanno lavorato contro ciò. L’embargo petrolifero dell’Unione europea contro l’Iran ha solo piantato i chiodi nella bara. A livello globale, la matrice emergente del commercio e delle transazioni eurasiatici e internazionali al di fuori degli ombrelli del dollaro statunitense e dell’euro, sta indebolendo entrambe queste valute. Il Parlamento iraniano ha appena passato una legge che tagliare le esportazioni di petrolio ai membri dell’Unione europea che faranno parte del regime di sanzioni, fino alla revoca delle sanzioni petrolifere all’Iran. La mossa iraniana sarà un duro colpo per l’euro, soprattutto perché l’Unione europea non avrà il tempo di prepararsi per i tagli energetici iraniani.

Ci sono diverse possibilità che possono emergere. Uno di queste è che ciò potrebbe essere parte di quello che Washington vuole, e che potrebbe essere giocata contro l’Unione europea. Un altro è che gli Stati Uniti e specifici Stati membri dell’UE, stanno lavorando insieme contro i rivali strategici economici e altri mercati.

Chi se ne avvantaggia? Gli obiettivi economici non sono l’Iran…

La fine delle esportazioni di petrolio iraniano verso l’Unione europea e il declino dell’euro vanno direttamente a beneficio degli Stati Uniti e del loro dollaro. Ciò che l’Unione europea sta facendo è semplicemente indebolire se stessa e consentire al dollaro statunitense di avere il sopravvento nella sua rivalità nei confronti dell’euro. Inoltre, qualora vi fosse il crollo dell’euro, il dollaro statunitense riempirà rapidamente gran parte del vuoto. Nonostante il fatto che la Russia possa beneficiare dei prezzi del petrolio e di una maggiore leva sulla sicurezza energetica dell’Unione europea come fornitrice, il Cremlino ha anche messo in guardia l’Unione europea che sta lavorando contro i propri interessi, subordinandosi a Washington.

Molte importanti questioni sono in gioco, circa le conseguenze economiche dell’aumento dei prezzi del petrolio. L’Unione europea sarà in grado di resistere alla tempesta economica o al collasso della valuta? Ciò che l’embargo petrolifero dell’Unione europea contro l’Iran farà sarà destabilizzare l’euro e creare una valanga globale, danneggiando le economie extra-UE. A questo proposito, Teheran ha avvertito che gli Stati Uniti mirano a danneggiare le economie concorrenti mediante l’adozione delle sanzioni petrolifere dell’UE contro l’Iran. All’interno di questa linea di pensiero, questa è la ragione per cui gli Stati Uniti stanno cercando di costringere Cina, India, Corea del Sud e Giappone in Asia, a ridurre o tagliare le importazioni di petrolio iraniano.

Nell’Unione Europea, saranno le economie dei membri più fragili e in lotta, come la Grecia e la Spagna, che saranno ferite dall’embargo  petrolifero dell’UE contro l’Iran. Le raffinerie di petrolio nei paesi dell’Unione europea che importano petrolio iraniano, dovranno trovare nuovi venditori come fonti e saranno costrette ad adeguare le loro operazioni. Piero De Simone, uno dei leader dell’Unione Petrolifera d’Italia, ha avvertito che circa settanta  raffinerie di petrolio dell’UE potrebbero essere chiuse e che i paesi asiatici potrebbero iniziare a vendere petrolio raffinato iraniano all’Unione europea a scapito delle raffinerie locali e della locale industria petrolifera. Nonostante le rivendicazioni politiche in sostegno all’embargo petrolifero contro l’Iran, l’Arabia Saudita non sarà in grado di colmare il vuoto delle esportazioni petrolifere iraniane verso l’Unione europea o altri mercati. Una carenza di forniture di petrolio e i cambiamenti della produzione potrebbero avere effetti a spirale nell’Unione europea e sui costi di produzione industriale, dei trasporti e sui prezzi di mercato. La previsione è che che l’UE effettivamente aggraverà la crisi nella zona euro o eurozona.

Inoltre, l’aumento continuo dei prezzi, che vanno dal cibo ai trasporti, non sarà limitato all’Unione europea, ma avrà ramificazioni globali. Coll’aumentare dei prezzi su scala globale, le economie in America Latina, Caraibi, Africa, Medio Oriente, Asia e Pacifico si troveranno ad affrontare nuove difficoltà, mentre il settore finanziario negli Stati Uniti e di molti dei suoi partner – tra cui i membri dell’Unione europea – potrebbe capitalizzare attraverso l’acquisizione di alcuni settori e mercati. Il FMI e la Banca Mondiale, in rappresentanza di Bretton Woods a Wall Street, potrebbero gettarsi nella mischie e imporre altri programmi di privatizzazione a vantaggio dei settori finanziari degli Stati Uniti e dei loro principali partner. Inoltre, come l’Iran decide di vendere il 18% del petrolio e di smettere di vendere ai membri dell’UE, sarà inoltre un fattore di mediazione.

I fantasmi dell’embargo petrolifero arabo del 1973: la Libia e l’AIEA

 Mentre i paesi in Africa o del Pacifico non hanno riserve strategiche di petrolio e saranno alla mercé degli aumenti dei prezzi mondiali, gli Stati Uniti e l’Unione europea hanno lavorato strategicamente cercando di isolarsi da questi scenari. Questo è dove l’International Energy Agency (IEA) di  Parigi entra in scena. Le riserve di petrolio libico sono anch’esse un fattore delle ostilità e della petro-politica che coinvolgono l’Iran.

L’AIE è stata creata dopo l’embargo petrolifero arabo del 1973. Come accennato in precedenza, si tratta dell’”ala strategica Blocco occidentale dell’organizzazione di Cooperazione e Sviluppo Economico (OCSE).” L’OCSE è un club di paesi che comprende Stati Uniti, Gran Bretagna, Francia, Germania, Spagna, Italia, Belgio, Danimarca, Giappone, Canada, Corea del Sud, Turchia, Australia, Israele e Nuova Zelanda. Si basa essenzialmente sui contorni del blocco occidentale, che è composto da alleati e satelliti degli USA. A parte Israele, Cile, Estonia, Islanda, Slovenia, e Messico, tutti i membri dell’OCSE, sono membri dell’AIE.

Dalla sua creazione nel 1974, uno dei compiti dell’IEA è quello di stoccare riserve strategiche di petrolio per i paesi OCSE. Durante la guerra della NATO contro la Libia, l’AIE in realtà ha aperto le sue riserve strategiche di petrolio per compensare il vuoto lasciato dalla mancanza di esportazioni di petrolio libico. Le uniche altre due volte cui questo è accaduto, fu nel 1991, quando Washington ha guidato la coalizione militare nella sua prima guerra contro l’Iraq, e nel 2005, quando l’uragano Katrina ha devastato gli Stati Uniti.

La guerra in Libia aveva molti scopi. I fini perseguiti sono stati i seguenti: (1) impedire l’unità africana, (2) scacciare la Cina fuori dall’Africa, (3) controllare le riserve strategiche energetiche più importanti, e (4) preservare le forniture di petrolio nello scenario di conflitti degli USA contro la Siria e l’Iran. Ciò che la guerra della NATO alla Libia aveva come scopo, era assicurarsi la produzione petrolifera dalla Libia, perché c’era la possibilità che la Libia del Colonnello Muammar Gheddafi potesse sospendere le vendite di petrolio all’Unione europea, a sostegno della Siria o dell’Iran in possibili conflitti con gli Stati Uniti, la NATO e Israele. E’ anche interessante notare che una delle figure libiche nelle Nazioni Unite, che hanno contribuito a permettere la guerra contro la Libia, vi è Sliman Bouchuiguir, il capo della Lega libica per i diritti umani (LLHR) e attuale ambasciatore libico in Svizzera, che ha lavorato a formulare una strategia per impedire che il petrolio venisse usato come arma strategica, per assicurarsi che la crisi petrolifera del 1973 si ripeta mai per gli Stati Uniti e i loro alleati.

A parte l’Iran, i siriani sono stati una fonte di importazioni di petrolio per l’Unione europea. Come l’Iran, l’UE ha anche bloccato il petrolio siriano attraverso un regime di sanzioni progettato dal governo statunitense. Con il petrolio iraniano e siriano escluso dall’UE, il valore strategico del petrolio libico aumenta. A questo proposito, le relazioni circa il dispiegamento di migliaia di soldati degli Stati Uniti nei giacimenti di petrolio libici, possono essere analizzate come coordinato o collegato alla crescente ostilità degli Stati Uniti e dell’Unione europea verso la Siria e l’Iran. Dirottare l’invio di petrolio libico verso l’UE prima destinato alla Cina, può anche essere parte di tale strategia.

La guerra psicologica

In realtà, il regime di sanzioni progettato dal governo statunitense contro l’Iran è andato fin dove può andare. Tutti gli interventi sull’isolamento iraniani sono bravate e sono lontane dalla realtà delle attuali relazioni e commercio internazionali. Brasile, Russia, Cina, India, Iraq, Kazakistan, Venezuela e altri paesi dello spazio post-sovietico, Asia, Africa e America Latina, hanno tutti rifiutato di aderire alle sanzioni contro l’economia iraniana.

L’embargo petrolifero dell’Unione europea, insieme alle più ampie sanzioni contro l’Iran, ha un aspetto più ampiamente psicologico. L’Iran e il suo alleato siriano, affrontano una guerra multi-dimensionale che ha scopi economici, occulti, diplomatici e psicologici. La guerra psicologica, che coinvolge i media mainstream come strumento di politica estera e di guerra, è un’opzione molto economica per gli Stati Uniti, a causa del suo costo molto basso. Maggiore enfasi viene inoltre data ad essa, nel contesto dell’attuale situazione economica del mondo.

Eppure, la guerra psicologica può essere combattuta su entrambi i lati. Gran parte del potere degli Stati Uniti è psicologico e legato alla paura. Come la geografia del Golfo Persico, il tempo è dalla parte dell’Iran e lavora contro gli Stati Uniti. Se l’Iran continua il suo corso attuale e resterà insensibile alle sanzioni, questo l’aiuterà a spezzare la soglia psicologica che scoraggia globalmente i paesi ad opporsi agli Stati Uniti. Nel caso in cui molti altri paesi continuino a rifiutarsi ad inchinarsi all’amministrazione Obamam, nell’imporre sanzioni contro l’Iran, questo sarà anche un duro colpo per il prestigio e il potere degli Stati Uniti, che si tradurrà nei campi economico e finanziario.

Inoltre, alla fine l’embargo petrolifero dell’UE colpirà l’UE invece dell’Iran. Nel lungo termine potrebbe anche danneggiare gli Stati Uniti. Strutturalmente, gli effetti dell’embargo dell’UE sul petrolio radicherà ulteriormente l’Unione europea nell’orbita di Washington, ma questi effetti catalizzeranno una crescente opposizione sociale a Washington, che alla fine si manifesteranno in ambito politico ed economico.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya è un sociologo e un autore pluripremiato. È ricercatore associato presso il Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. È specializzato sul Medio Oriente e l’Asia centrale. E’ stato collaboratore e ospite sul più vasto Medio Oriente in numerosi programmi e reti internazionali come Al Jazeera, Press TV, teleSUR e Russia Today. Nazemroaya è stato anche testimone della “primavera araba” in azione nel Nord Africa. Mentre era in Libia durante la campagna di bombardamenti della NATO, ha relazionato da Tripoli per diversi media. Ha inviato dispacci dai punti chiave della Libia per Global Research ed è stato inviato speciale per il programma investigativo della Flashpoints, trasmesso da Berkeley, California. I suoi scritti sono stati pubblicati in oltre dieci lingue. Scrive anche per Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) a Mosca, Russia.

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – 2 febbraio 2012
Testo originale in inglese – Strategic Culture Foundation - 31 gennaio 2012:
Currency Warfare: What are the Real Targets of the E.U. Oil Embargo against Iran?

Ripubblicazione è gradita con riferimento alla rivista on-line della Strategic Culture Foundation.

Nigeria, Afrikas bevölkerungsreichstes Land und größter Erdölproduzent, wird allem Anschein nach systematisch in Chaos und einen bürgerkriegsähnlichen Zustand getrieben. Die kürzlich unerwartete Entscheidung der Regierung von Goodluck Jonathan, abrupt die Subventionen für importiertes Benzin und andere Kraftstoffe aufzuheben, hat einen weit unheilvolleren Hintergrund als nur Korruption, und der in Washington angesiedelte Internationale Währungsfond IMF spielt dabei eine Schlüsselrolle. China und die Bevölkerung Nigerias scheinen die wahrscheinlichen Verlierer zu sein.

Die jüngsten Streiks gegen die plötzliche Aufhebung der Subventionen für Benzin und andere Kraftstoffe durch die Regierung, die Nigeria für eine kurz Zeit zum Stillstand brachte, kamen als Überraschung für die meisten Leute in Nigeria. Monate zuvor hatte Präsident Jonathan den größeren Gewerkschaften versprochen, dass er eine schrittweise Aufhebung der Subventionen in vier Stufen durchführen würde, um die wirtschaftliche Last zu verteilen. Stattdessen kündigte er ohne Warnung mit sofortiger Wirkung zum 1. Januar 2012 die volle Aufhebung der Subventionen an. Milde ausgedrückt war dies „Schocktherapie.

Nigeria ist weltweit heute einer der wichtigster Produzent von leichtem „süßen“ Rohöl – von der gleichen Qualität das Lybien und die Britische Nordsee produzieren. Das Land zeigt alle Anzeichen, in eine tiefe Unordnung abzugleiten. Mit einer Tagesproduktion von mehr als zwei Millionen Fass Rohöl ist Nigeria der fünft größte Öllieferant der USA und der zwölft größte Ölproduzent der Welt und damit auf gleichem Niveau mit Kuwait und nur etwas hinter Venezuela. [1]

Der erstaunliche Zeitpunkt der Forderung des IMF, die Subventionen aufzuheben

Trotz des Ölreichtums ist Nigeria immer noch eines der ärmsten Länder Afrikas. Die bekannten Ölfelder liegen hauptsächlich um das große Nigerdelta herum zwischen Port Harcourt und in Richtung der Hauptstadt Lagos, und mit neuen großen, in der Erschließung sich befindenden Ölfunden entlang des rohölreichen Golfes von Guinea. Nigerias Öl wird größtenteils durch die anglo-amerikanischen Giganten Shell, Mobil, Chevron und Texaco ausgebeutet und exportiert. Italiens Agip ist also anwesend. Seit kurzem und nicht überraschend begannen staatliche chinesische Ölgesellschaften Vereinbarungen mit der Lagos Regierung zur Explorationen und Errichtung von Ölanlagen zu suchen.

Ironischerweise und trotz der Tatsache, dass Nigeria mit seinem sehr vielen Öl Exporterlöse zur Finanzierung des Aufbaus seiner nationalen Infrastruktur hätte, hat die nigerianische Regierungspolitik absichtlich die Raffinerie-kapazität des Landes verkommen lassen. Als Folge davon muss Benzin und die anderen raffinierten Ölprodukte für Transport und die Industrie importiert werden, trotz des Überflusses an eigenem Öl. Um die Bevölkerung von den hohen Importkosten für Benzin und anderen raffinierten Ölprodukten zu schützen, hat die Zentralregierung die Preise subventioniert.

Das heißt, bis zum 1. Januar 2012. Das ist der Tag, an dem ohne Vorwarnung Präsident Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan die sofortige Rücknahme aller Subventionen auf Treibstoffe verkündete. Innerhalb von Stunden erhöhten sich die Benzinpreise um das nahezu dreifache von 65 Naira (35 US Cent) auf 150 Naira (93 US Cent) pro Liter. Die Wirkung war in der ganzen Wirtschaft einschließlich der Preise für Getreide und Gemüse zu spüren. [2]

Als Begründung dieser Entscheidung bestand der Gouverneur der Zentralbank darauf, dass „die Gelder für Sozialvergünstigungen sowie Infrastrukturmaßnahmen verwendet würden, die den Nigerianern mehr nützen und das Land vor einer wirtschaftlichen Spaltung schützen würden.“ [3] Präsident Goodluck Jonathan behauptet, er beende die Subventionen als Teil von Bestrebungen, „in der nigerianischen Regierung aufzuräumen.“ Sollte dem so sein ist nicht klar, wie er dabei vorgehen will.

Der große unerwartete Preisanstieg für inländischen Kraftstoff löste landesweite Proteste aus, die befürchten ließen, diese könnte Mitte Januar die Wirtschaft zum Stillstand bringen. Der Präsident nahm geschickt den Wind aus den Segeln der Protestierenden, indem er eine teilweise Rücknahme der Preiserhöhungen ankündigte, wobei die Preise jedoch immer noch auf doppelt so hohem Niveau verblieben als im Dezember. Die Gewerkschaften sagten daraufhin alle Streiks ab. Dann wies er bezeichnenderweise das Militär an, auf die Straßen zu gehen, um die Ordnung wieder herzustellen und de facto neue Proteste zu verhindern. All dies passierte während einer der blutigsten Welle von Bombenanschlägen und Mordexzessen durch die Boko Haram Sekte, die zu einem Zustand von extremem Chaos führte. [4]

Die heiße Spur zum IMF

Was in der internationalen Berichterstattung über die Unruhen verschwiegen wurde, ist die eindeutige Rolle, die der US-dominierte Internationale Währungsfond (IMF) in dieser Situation spielte. Wenige Tage vor der abrupten Zurücknahme der Subventionen durch Präsident Jonathan und damit zu einem verdächtigen Zeitpunkt befand sich die IMF Direktorin Christine Lagarde in Nigeria. [5] Dieses Mal waren nach allen Maßstäben der IMF und die nigerianische Regierung vorsichtig, die Forderung nach Beendigung der Subventionen nicht so krass und offen wie im Falle Tunesiens zu stellen, wo Nahrungsproteste der Auslöser für den Twitterputsch in jenem Land wurde.

Während ihres Besuches in Nigeria sagte Lagarde, Präsident Jonathans ‚Transformationsagenda‘ zur Deregulierung „ist eine Agenda für Nigeria, vorangetrieben von Nigerianern. Der IMF ist hier, um Sie zu unterstützen und um ein besserer Partner für Sie zu sein.“ [6] Wenige Nigerianer waren davon überzeugt. Am 29 Dezember schrieb Reuters: „Der IMF hat von Ländern West- und Zentralafrikas verlangt, Treibstoffsubventionen aufzuheben, da sie angeblich nicht effektiv als direkte Unterstützung der Armen sind, jedoch Korruption und Schmuggel förderten. In den vergangenen Monaten haben die Regierungen von Nigeria, Guinea, Kamerun und dem Tschad Treibstoffsubventionen gekürzt.“ [7]

Die Rolle, die die USA und der IMF beim Druck auf Nigeria spielten wurde zusätzlich von Jeffrey Sachs, Sonderberater des Generalsekretärs der Vereinten Nationen während eines Treffens mit Präsident Jonathan ein paar Tage nach der Entscheidung zu den Subventionen anfangs Januar in Nigeria bestätigt, als Sachs die Entscheidung Jonathans, die Subventionen auf Benzin aufzuheben als „eine mutige und richtige Politik bezeichnete.“ [8]

Sachs, ehemaliger Professor für Volkswirtschaft an der Harvard Universität, erwarb sich einen zweifelhaften Ruf, als er in den frühen 1990-er Jahren Polen, Russland, der Ukraine und anderen früheren kommunistischen Staaten Schocktherapien verschrieb, die Staatsvermögen von unschätzbarem Wert dollarreichen westlichen multinationalen Firmen zur de facto Plünderung öffneten. [9]

Die plötzliche Entscheidung, inländische Treibstoffsubventionen zu beenden, wird durch die Tatsache noch verdächtiger, als Washington und der IMF nur ausgesuchte Länder unter Druck setzen, ihre Subventionen zu beenden. Nigeria, dessen Benzin heute für den Gegenwert von einem Dollar pro Liter verkauft wird, ist alles andere als billig. Brunei, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrein, Katar und Saudi Arabien bieten alle ihrer Bevölkerung Benzin sehr billig an. Die Saudis verkaufen ihr Benzin für 16 Cents, Kuwait für 22 Cents. [10] In den USA kostet ein Liter Benzin im Durchschnitt 89 Cents. [11]

Dies bedeutet, der IMF und Washington haben eine der ärmsten Volkswirtschaften in Afrika gezwungen, ihren Bürgern eine sehr hohe Steuer mit dem nicht überzeugenden Argument aufzuerlegen, sie würde zur Abschaffung von Korruption im staatlichen Ölsektor beitragen. Der IMF weiß sehr wohl, die Aufhebung der Subventionen wird nichts zur Abschaffung der Korruption auf hoher Ebene beitragen.

Wäre der IMF und die Weltbank ernsthaft um die Gesundheit der nigerianischen Binnenwirtschaft besorgt, hätten sie die Modernisierung und den Ausbau der inländischen Raffinerieindustrie unterstützt, deren Niedergang zugelassen wurde, damit das Land nicht länger mit dem knappen Staatsbudget verarbeitete Ölprodukte importieren muss. Dies hätte am einfachsten durch Vorantreiben eines zwei Jahre alten Staatsvertrag zwischen der chinesischen und der nigerianischen Regierung erreicht werden können, der Investitionen von etwa 28 Milliarden Dollar zum massiven Ausbau des Ölraffineriesektors vorsah und damit zur Beendigung der bis dahin erforderlichen Importe von Benzin und anderen Raffinerieprodukten geführt hätte.

Genau das Gegenteil – der kriminelle Komplott innerhalb der Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) und der Regierung, der mit dem bestehenden Subventionssystem enorme Gewinne erzielt, verdoppelt oder möglicherweise verdreifacht diese plötzlich, womit das korrupte Importsystem aufrechterhalten, und natürlich, der chinesischen Bau von Raffinerien, der ihrem Treiben ein Ende setzen könnte, sabotiert wird.

Sich ins eigene Fleisch schneiden…

Anstelle dem gewöhnlichen Nigerianer von Nutzen zu sein, wie der IMF dies zu beabsichtigen vorgibt, hat nach Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, dem Gouverneur der Nigerianischen Zentralbank, die Abschaffung der Subventionen die 90 Prozent der von weniger als zwei Dollar pro Tag lebenden Bevölkerung zusätzlich verarmt. [12] In einem Land mit einer Bevölkerung von 148 Millionen sind schätzungsweise 40 Millionen Nigerianer arbeitslos.

Da Transportkosten ein wesentlicher Faktor bei der Versorgung der Städte mit Nahrungsmittel sind, ist die Inflation von Nahrungsmittelpreisen zusammen mit den Kosten des öffentlichen Transports für die Mehrheit der ärmeren Nigerianer steil angestiegen. Nach der Zeitung Leadership Sunday „sind die Preisanstiege für Güter als Folge der Preissteigerung an den Zapfsäulen nicht zurückgegangen.“ Jeder und jedes vom Straßenverkäufer für Gemüse, Autowaschen und Photographen spüren den vom Preisanstieg für Kraftstoffe verursachten Schock. Die Arbeitslosigkeit steigt im selben Maße, wie kleine Betriebe dicht machen. [13]

Der IMF und die Regierung Jonathan argumentieren, dass das Freigeben der Kraftstoffpreise Mittel für zusätzliche Sozialleistungen und für die Erneuerung von Nigerias Infrastruktur verfügbar machen würde. IMF und die Regierung wissen jedoch sehr wohl, dass es wirtschaftlich wesentlich nachhaltiger wäre, das gegenwärtige korrupte Importsystem für Benzin und Kraftstoffe durch Erneuerungsinvestitionen in Nigerias inländische Raffineriekapazitäten zu ersetzen.

Son Gyoh von der nigerianischen Organisation Awareness for Development erklärte, „Wäre es nicht angebrachter, die Regierung zu drängen, die Raffinieren wieder auf volle Produktionskapazität zu bringen, im Anbetracht der Auswirkungen auf die Fixkosten und die Konkurrenzfähigkeit der inländischen Industrien?“ [14]

Gyoh weist auf Ursache des Problems hin: „Warum haben nachfolgende Regierungen die Raffinerien verkommen lassen, während sie gleichzeitig Unsummen für Subventionen ausgegeben haben? Besteht eine Chance, dass die Beträge an einbehaltenen Subventionen direkt in die Erneuerung der Raffinerien fließen? Beinhaltet Deregulierung, dass NNPC nicht weiter ein Monopol beim Import von Raffinerieprodukten betreibt, oder ist diese Lobby ein Selbstbedienungsladen zur Fortsetzung seines Monopols?“ Er zieht den Schluss, „Auf jeden Fall gibt es gute Gründe zu bezweifeln, die Aufhebung von Subventionen würde den Mangel an Kraftstoffen beheben, da die Clique sich nur neu aufstellen und ihre Taktiken ändern würde, eine Tatsache, die Nigerianer nur zu gut kennen.“ [15]

Nachdem Nigeria in den späten 1970-er Jahren den Ölsektor teilweise verstaatlicht hatte, übernahmen sie auch die Kontrolle über Shells Port Harcourt Raffinerie I. 1989 wurde Port Harcourt Raffinerie II gebaut. Beide Raffinerien sind nach 1994 zunehmend herunter gekommen, nachdem die Abacha Militärdiktatur den Anteil von NNPC am inländischen Verkauf von raffinierten Rohölprodukten wie Benzin von 84% auf 22% kürzte. Dies führte zu einer Barmittelkrise von NNPC und zum Ende der Unterhaltung der Raffinerien. Heute ist nur eine von vier Raffinerien überhaupt in Betrieb. [16]

Seitdem entwickelte sich ein System, in dem NNPC ausländisches Benzin und andere Raffinerieprodukte für den inländischen Bedarf importierte, natürlich zu wesentlich höheren Kosten. Die Preissubventionen sollten diese höheren Importkosten abfedern, kaum eine vernünftige, dafür aber umso lukrativere Lösung für jene korrupten Elemente im staatlichen und dem privaten (ÖL-) Sektor, die mit dem Importieren einen Riesengewinn machten.

NNPC ein kriminelles Unternehmen

Der IMF kennt sehr wohl die wahren Ursachen für die Probleme von Nigerias Kraftstoffindustrie. Ein nigerianischer legislativer Ausschuss untersuchte die Ursachen der Probleme dieser Industrie und veröffentlichte vor kurzem einen Bericht, in dem dokumentiert ist, dass die Korruption der Treibstoffindustrie sich jährlich mindestens vier Milliarden Dollar von den Steuerzahlern nimmt, wobei die staatliche NNPC im Zentrum steht. Nach der Kommission „bringen die Treibstoffimporteure täglich 59 Millionen Liter Treibstoff in das Land. Das Land verbraucht jedoch nur 35 Millionen Liter. Dies überlässt Schmugglern 24 Millionen Liter zum Export, nach dem Bezahlen der Subventionen durch die Regierung. Nach Reuters kostet dies die nigerianische Bevölkerung etwa vier Milliarden Dollar jährlich. [17]

Die nigerianische Regierung hat gesagt, dass die jährlich für Kraftstoffe ausgegebenen Subventionen von 7,5 Milliarden zur Aufbau dringend benötigter Infrastruktur verwendet werden könnten. Sie vergisst jedoch das unkontrollierte Abzweigen und Verhökern von Öl für 4 Milliarden durch Schwarzmarktschmuggler in Nachbarländern zu einem satten Profit und offenbar mit Duldung hoher NNPC Regierungsvertreter, auch nur zu erwähnen. Die importierten Raffinerieprodukte werden angeblich in Nachbarländer wie Kamerun, dem Tschad und Niger geschmuggelt, in denen die Benzinpreise wesentlich höher sind, nach Information von Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Vizegouverneur des Bundestaates Kano. [18]

China als IMF Ziel?

Ein wichtiger geopolitischer Faktor, der in den jüngsten Diskussionen über die nigerianische Ölpolitik gewöhnlich ignoriert wird, ist die wachsende Bedeutung Chinas im Land. Im May 2010, nur wenige Tage nach der Vereidigung von Präsident Jonathan, unterschrieb China mit dessen Regierung einen beeindruckenden Vertrag mit einem Wert von 28,5 Milliarden Dollar zum Bau von drei neuen Raffinerien, was so gar nicht zu den Plänen des IMF, Washingtons oder den anglo-amerikanischen Ölmultis passte. [19]

Die China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited (CSCEC) unterschrieb den Vertrag zum Bau von drei Raffinerien mit der Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), der grösste Vertrag, den China bis dahin in Afrika gemacht hatte. Shehu Ladan, der Chef von NNPC, sagte während der Unterschriftszeremonie, dass die neuen Raffinerien die 10 Milliarden Dollar, die jährlich für den Import von Raffinerieprodukten ausgegeben würden, reduzieren würden. Im Januar 2012 sind die drei Raffinerien jedoch immer noch im Planungsstadium und angeblich von den machtvollen Interessen blockiert, die am bestehenden korrupten Importsystem verdienen. [20]

Ein Bericht vom letzten November im China Daily zitierte Nigerias Minister für Handel und Investitionen, Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga, dass Nigeria weitere chinesische Investoren für seine Industrien in den Bereiche Energie, Bergbau und Landwirtschaft suchen würde. Während seines Besuches im letzten September in Peking verkündete der Gouverneur von Nigerias Zentralbank, Lamido Sanusi, sein Land plane 5 bis 10 Prozent seiner Währungsreserven in Chinas Währung, dem Renminbi oder auch Yuan, anzulegen, mit dem Hinweis, er erwarte den Yuan in den Rang einer Reservewährung aufzusteigen. Sanusi stellte fest, in 2010 hätten Chinas Kredite und Exporte nach Nigeria 7 Milliarden Dollar überschritten, während Nigeria Rohöl im Wert von 1 Milliarde exportierte. [21]

Bis jetzt hielt Nigeria etwa 79% seiner ausländischen Währungsreserven in Dollar, den Rest in Euro und Pfund Sterling, wobei unter Berücksichtigung ihrer finanziellen und Schuldenprobleme alle als riskant zu betrachten sind. Nachdem Indien, Japan, Russland, Iran und andere Länder schon ähnliche Schritte unternommen hatten, wäre dieser Schritt eines weiteren wichtigen Ölproduzenten weg vom Dollar kein gutes Zeichen für die anhaltende Rolle des Dollar als wichtigste Weltreservewährung. Es besteht kein Zweifel daran, dass diverse Kreise in Washington mit dieser Entwicklung nicht glücklich wären.

Die Chinesen versuchen auch, einen direkten Anteil an Nigerias reichen Ölreserven zu bekommen, bisher eine anglo-amerikanische Domäne. Im Juli 2010 erhielt Chinas CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation) den Zuschlag für vier zukünftige Ölförderblöcke – zwei im Nigerdelta und zwei im Grenzbecken zum Tschad – und für Pläne, Hauptinvestor in der Kadunaraffinerie zu werden sowie für den Bau einer doppelspurigen Eisenbahnlinie Lagos-Kanu. 23 Darüber hinaus  besitzt Chinas Ölgesellschaft CNOOC Ltd ein wichtiges offshore Produktionsfeld in Nigeria.

Der Druck des IMF und Washingtons, die Subventionen auf importierte Kraftstoffe aufzuheben, wie auch die Zukunft Chinas in Nigerias Energieindustrie steht zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt in Frage. Es ist jedoch klar, dass die Aufhebung der Subventionen den Nigerianern in keiner Weise nützt. Alarmierender in diesem Zusammenhang ist jedoch die Orchestrierung einer neuen großen Welle von Terror- und Bombenschlägen durch die mysteriöse und verdächtig gut bewaffnete Boko Haram. Auf diesen Punkt werden wir demnächst im Zusammenhang mit Nigerias jüngster Verwandlung in einen wichtigen Drogenumschlagplatz näher eingehen.

F. William Engdahl ist Autor des Buches A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order

Übersetzt von Karl Kaiser.

Artikel auf Englisch: Nigeria: Thrown into Chaos and a State of Civil War: The Role of the IMF


1. John Campbell, Nigeria’s Turmoil and the Outside World, January 12, 2012, accessed in

2. Chika Otuchikere and Chibunma Ukwu, Nigeria: Aftermath of Subsidy Crisis Food Prices Hitting Roof Tops, 22 January, 2012, accessed in  

3. Mustapha Muhammad, Nigeria: Billions Siphoned by Corruption Could Have Been Used to Maintain Fuel Subsidy, Inter Press Service, January 11, 2012, accessed in  

4. Mike Oboh, Boko Haram Islamist Insurgents Kill at Least 178 in Nigeria’s Kano, January 22, 2012, International Business Times, accessed in  

5. Christine Lagarde, Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the Conclusion of her Visit to Nigeria, IMF, Washington, Press Release No. 11/478, December 20, 2011, accessed in  

6. Ibid.

7. Quoted in Idris Ahmed and Kate da Costa, Nigeria: IMF Pushing the Country to End Subsidy – - Report, 30 December 2011, accessed in  

8. Olutayo Olubi, Fuel subsidy: International conspiracy against Nigerians, National Daily, 15 January 2012, accessed in  

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Chika Otuchikere and Chibunma Ukwu, Nigeria Aftermath of Subsidy Crisis:  Food Prices Hitting Roof Tops, 22 January 2012, accessed in  

14. Son Gyoh, Nigeria: The case against removal of fuel subsidy and the argument for deregulated petroleum sub sector, accessed in  

15. Ibid.

16. MBendi, Oil Refining in Nigeria–An Overview, accessed in  

17. Heather Murdock, Nigeria finds 4 billion dollars in fuel corruption, January 20, 2012, accessed in  

18. Mustapha Muhammad, Nigeria: Billions Siphoned by Corruption Could Have Been Used to Maintain Fuel Subsidy, Inter Press Service, January 11, 2012, accessed in  

19. Kerri Shannon, China Continues Its Run on African Commodities With $23 Billion Nigeria Oil Deal, Money Morning, May 15, 2010, accessed in  

20. Gavin du Venage, Everyone is a loser in Nigeria’s fuel subsidy cut and partial restoration, The National, January 24, 2012, accessed in  

21. China Daily, Nigeria seeking Chinese capital, November 12, 2011, accessed in  

22. Xinhua, Nigeria bank chief sees yuan becoming reserve currency, September 6, 2011, accessed in  

23. Kayode Ekundayo, Nigeria: China, 2010 Budget and Oil Blocks, Daily Trust (Abuja), 12 July 2010, accessed in

The Munich Security Conference (MSC), known as the Davos of Defense, ended yesterday after three days of discussion on current and prospective security policy challenges.

On a panel themed  “America, Europe and the Rise of Asia” on Saturday, US Senator John McCain created a stir by tearing into China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun on a wide range of topics from China’s human rights record and “repression” of the Tibetans to China’s democracy, warning “the Arab Spring is coming to China.” McCain’s remarks obviously strayed away from the subject of the panel.

The MSC witnessed an important moment last year when Russia and the US decided to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). It marked the most significant disarmament treaty since the end of the Cold War and contributed to global stability.

Wise diplomats should create a favorable atmosphere for countries to reach an understanding on how to deal with security challenges rather than stirring up tensions.

In recent years, China has often seen US politicians taking potshots at it. Under the context of China’s rapid development, US anxiety is rising. In fact, the US also has its own problems concerning human rights and often turns a blind eye to other regimes that abuse human rights. There are Americans expecting the Arab Spring to extend to China, hoping chaos and turbulence could disturb China’s development. The US sees China as a threat, but until now China has never challenged the US’ core interests and has made a commitment to stick to peaceful development.

In shifting its strategic focus, the US is carrying out its Asia “pivot” strategy. China, as the implicit target of the strategy, is responding with reserve. Recently in the Diplomat magazine there were a series of articles discussing “why China isn’t freaking out” when faced with the US “reset” policy. The answer is simple: China understands the danger of confronting the current global order; it should cautiously and rationally deal with various challenges to pave the way for development. Of course, this does not mean China should be submissive when facing provocations and act in accordance with the Western will. 

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun refuted McCain’s attack, saying that a looming Arab Spring is “no more than fantasy” in China. US politicians slamming China only mirrors the country’s anxiety and lack of confidence. However, in a world with dynamic changes, anxiety does not help.

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The now-demobilized paramilitary organization AUC received the support of Colombia’s intelligence agency DAS, and helped the government of former President Alvaro Uribe in a conspiracy to discredit the country’s Supreme Court, ex-commander “Don Berna” testifies.

In his first testimony before Colombian prosecutors since late 2010, Diego Murillo, alias Don Berna, said that the AUC received protection from the DAS and that Don Berna’s subordinates helped coordinate the wiretapping of Uribe’s politcal opponents, Supreme Court magistrates, journalists and human rights groups.

“Don Berna” news archive According to the senior paramilitary chief, the AUC had been collaborating with the DAS “for a long time.”

“When [jailed DAS director] Jorge Noguera was appointed, [AUC] commander “Jorge 40″ told the majority of commanders that someone who had his full confidence had reached the top and that we could count on him for whatever we needed,” said Don Berna.

Jorge Noguera news archive According to the former paramilitary leader, the AUC and DAS worked together closely and the paramilitaries were offered logistical support and protection by the intelligence agency following Jorge Noguera’s appointment by Uribe in 2002.

Don Berna also corroborated allegations made by the DAS’ former ICT director Alvaro Garcia, who has testified that the DAS was involved in drug trafficking and the paramilitary killings of activists.

Rafael Garcia news archive In what Colombian media called an “explosive” testimony, Don Berna accused former Cauca governor and ambassador to the Dominican Republic Juan Jose Chaux Mosquera, and former press secretary and current ambassador to the Vatican Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, of arranging a 2008 meeting inside the presidential palace which caused great controversy after video footage of paramilitary aides entering the palace was leaked to the press.

The meeting was attended by Chaux Mosquera, Velasquez, Don Berna’s attorney Diego Alvarez, Don Berna’s subordinate “Job,” then-presidential adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria and DAS executive Marta Leal. Leal is now a key witness in the cases against officials allegedly involved in the wiretapping of the Supreme Court, journalists, human rights workers and political opponents of Uribe.

According to Don Berna, the meeting in the presidential palace “gave more solidity to the relations we had with the national government” and was the beginning of the collaboration between demobilized paramilitaries and the Uribe government to conspire against the Supreme Court, which was investigating ties between paramilitaries and dozens of Uribe allies in Congress.

Demobilized paramilitaries worked together with the DAS in the illegal wiretapping of the spy agency with the knowledge of then-director Maria del Pilar Hurtado. “Diego [Alvarez] told me that he had talked to her at one point and that she was informed about everything that was going on,” the extradited paramilitary added.

Del Pilar Hurtado is wanted by Colombian authorities, but fled to Panama where she received political asylum months before the Supreme Court ordered an arrest warrant. Uribe’s former chief of staff is in jail awaiting trial for his alleged role in the wiretap scandal.

Wiretap scandal news archive Don Berna aligned with the Castaño brothers, the founders of the AUC, when they were part of “Los Pepes,” a vigilante group formed in the early 1990s with the aim of killing drug lord Pablo Escobar. Following Escobar’s death, Don Berna inherited the Medellin cartel’s “Oficina de Envigado,” which still controls the city’s underworld, while the Castaños took over the cartel’s drug trafficking business.

Jorge Noguera was sentenced to 25 years in jail for his ties to the paramilitaries, while Chaux Mosquera and Moreno are in jail awaiting trial respectively for paramilitary ties and the wiretap scandal. Panama is considering Colombia’s request to extradite Del Pilar Hurtado and Uribe is being investigated for ordering the illegal wiretaps.

The former president has always defended his subordinates and has accused Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office and Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras of politically persecuting members of his administration.

For anyone paying attention, there is no shortage of issues that fundamentally challenge the underpinning moral infrastructure of American society and the values it claims to uphold. Under the conceptual illusion of liberty, few things are more sobering than the amount of Americans who will spend the rest of their lives in an isolated correctional facility – ostensibly, being corrected. The United States of America has long held the highest incarceration rate in the world, far surpassing any other nation. For every 100,000 Americans, 743 citizens sit behind bars. Presently, the prison population in America consists of more than six million people, a number exceeding the amount of prisoners held in the gulags of the former Soviet Union at any point in its history.

James Nachtwey / VII


While miserable statistics illustrate some measure of the ongoing ethical calamity occurring in the detainment centers inside the land of the free, only a partial picture of the broader situation is painted. While the country faces an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, business is booming in other fields – namely, the private prison industry. Like any other business, these institutions are run for the purpose of turning a profit. State and federal prisons are contracted out to private companies who are paid a fixed amount to house each prisoner per day. Their profits result from spending the minimum amount of state or federal funds on each inmate, only to pocket the remaining capital. For the corrections conglomerates of America, prosperity depends on housing the maximum numbers of inmates for the longest potential time – as inexpensively as possible.

By allowing a profit-driven capitalist-enterprise model to operate over institutions that should rightfully be focused on rehabilitation, America has enthusiastically embraced a prison industrial complex. Under the promise of maintaining correctional facilities at a lower cost due to market competition, state and federal governments contract privately run companies to manage and staff prisons, even allowing the groups to design and construct facilities. The private prison industry is primarily led by two morally deficient entities, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corporation).  These companies amassed a combined revenue of over $2.9 billion in 2010, not without situating themselves in the center of political influence.

The number of people imprisoned under state and federal custody increased 772% percent between 1970 and 2009, largely due to the incredible influence private corporations wield against the American legal system. Because judicial leniency and sentencing reductions threaten the very business models of these private corporations, millions have been spent lobbying state officials and political candidates in an effort to influence harsher “zero tolerance” legislation and mandatory sentencing for many non-violent offenses. Political action committees assembled by private correctional corporations have lobbied over 3.3 million dollars to the political establishment since 2001. An annual report released by the CCA in 2010 reiterates the importance of influencing legislation:

“The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.”

Considering today’s private prison population is over 17 times larger than the figure two decades earlier, the malleability of the judicial system under corporate influence is clear. The Corrections Corporation of America is the first and largest private prison company in the US, cofounded in 1983 by Tom Beasley, former Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. The CCA entered the market and overtly exploited Beasley’s political connections in an attempt to exert control over the entire prison system of Tennessee. Today, the company operates over sixty-five facilities and owns contracts with the US Marshal Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Prisons. The GEO Group operates 118 detention centers throughout the United States, South Africa, UK, Australia and elsewhere. Under its original name, the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation was synonymous for the sadistic abuse of prisoners in its facilities, resulting in the termination of several contracts in 1999.

The political action committees assembled by private prison enterprises have also wielded incredible influence with respect to administering harsher immigration legislation. The number of illegal immigrants being incarcerated inside the United States is rising exponentially under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency responsible for annually overseeing the imprisonment of 400,000 foreign nationals at the cost of over $1.9 billion on custody-related operations. The agency has come under heavy criticism for seeking to contract a 1,250-bed immigration detention facility in Essex County, New Jersey to a private company that shares intimate ties to New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie. Given the private prison industry’s dependence on immigration-detention contracts, the huge contributions of the prison lobby towards drafting Arizona’s recrementitious immigration law SB 1070 are all but unexpected. While the administration of Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer is lined with former private prison lobbyists, its Department of Corrections budget has been raised by $10 million, while all other Arizona state agencies are subject to budget cuts in 2012’s fiscal year.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this obstinate moral predicament presents itself in the private contracting of prisoners and their role in assembling vast quantities of military and commercial equipment. While the United States plunges itself into each new manufactured conflict under a wide range of fraudulent pretenses, it is interesting to note that all military helmets, ammunition belts, bulletproof vests, ID tags, uniforms, tents, bags and other equipment used by military occupation forces are produced by inmates in federal prisons across the US. Giant multinational conglomerates and weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Corporation employ federal prison labor to cheaply assemble weapons components, only to sell them to the Pentagon at premium prices. At the lowest, Prisoners earn 17 cents an hour to assemble high-tech electronic components for guided missile systems needed to produce Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles and anti-tank projectiles.

In the past, political mouthpieces of the United States have criticized countries such as China and North Korea for their role in exploiting prisoner labor to create commodity products such as women’s bras and artificial flowers for export. Evidently, outsourcing the construction of the military equipment responsible for innumerable civilian causalities to the prisons of America warrants no such criticism from the military industrial establishment. In utter derision toward the integrity of the common worker, prison inmates are exposed to toxic spent ammunition, depleted uranium dust and other chemicals when contracted to clean and reassemble tanks and military vehicles returned from combat. Prison laborers receive no union protection, benefits or health and safety protection when made to work in electronic recycling factories where inmates are regularly exposed to lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

In addition to performing tasks that can result in detrimental illnesses, prison labor produces other military utilities such as night-vision goggles, body armor, radio and communication devices, components for battleship anti-aircraft guns, land mine sweepers and electro-optical equipment. While this abundant source of low-cost manpower fosters greater incentives for corporate stockholders to impose draconian legislation on the majority of Americans who commit nonviolent offenses, it’s hard to imagine such an innately colossal contradiction to the nation’s official rhetoric, i.e. American values. Furthermore, prison labor is employed not only in the assembly of complex components used in F-15 fighter jets and Cobra helicopters, it also supplies 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services, with similar statistics in regard to products such as paints, stoves, office furniture, headphones, and speakers.

It is some twisted irony that large sections of the workforce in America’s alleged free-market are shackled in chains. Weapons manufactured in the isolation of America’s prisons are the source of an exploitative cycle, which leaves allied NATO member countries indebted to a multibillion-dollar weapons industry at the behest of the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon. Complete with its own trade exhibitions, mail-order catalogs and investment houses on Wall Street, the eminence of the private prison industry solidifies the ongoing corrosion of American principles – principles that seem more abstract now, than the day they were written.

Predictably, the potential profit of the prison labor boom has encouraged the foundations of US corporate society to move their production forces into American prisons. Conglomerates such as IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Victoria’s Secret, and Target have all begun mounting production operations in US prisons. Many of these Fortune 500 conglomerates are corporate members of civil society groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). These think tanks are critical toward influencing American foreign policy. Under the guise of democracy promotion, these civil societies fund opposition movements and train dissent groups in countries around the world in the interest of pro-US regime change. With naked insincerity, the same companies that outsource the production of their products to American prisons simultaneously sponsor civil societies that demanded the release of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest – an overly political effort in the on-going attempts to install a compliant regime in that country.

The concept of privatizing prisons to reduce expenses comes at great cost to the inmates detained, who are subjected to living in increasingly squalid conditions in jail cells across America. In 2007, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) was sent to a West Texas juvenile prison run by GEO Group for the purpose of monitoring its quality standards. The monitors sent by the TYC were subsequently fired for failing to report the sordid conditions they witnessed in the facility while they awarded the GEO Group with an overall compliance score of nearly 100%. Independent auditors later visited the facility and discovered that inmates were forced to urinate or defecate in small containers due to a lack of toilets in some of the cells. The independent commission also noted in their list of reported findings that the facility racially segregated prisoners and disciplined Hispanics for speaking Spanish by denying their access to layers and medical treatment. It was later discovered that the TYC monitors were employed by the GEO Group. Troublingly, the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (WGYCF) operated by the GEO Group in Mississippi has been subject to a class-action lawsuit after reports that staff members were complicit in the beating and stabbing of a prisoner who consequently incurred permanent brain damage. The official compliant authored by the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center also highlights cases where the administration turned a blind eye to brutal cases of rape and torture within the facility.

The first private prison models were introduced following the abolishment of slavery after the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, which saw expansive prison farms replace slave plantations. Prisons of the day contracted groups of predominately African-American inmates to pick cotton and construct railroads principally in southern states such as Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. In 2012, there are more African-Americans engrossed in the criminal-justice system than any point during slavery. Throughout its history, the American prison system has shared little with the concept of rehabilitation. Like the post-Civil War prison farms, today’s system functions to purport required labor, largely on a racially specific basis. African-Americans consist of 40% of the prison population and are incarcerated seven times more often than whites, despite the fact that African-Americans make up only 12% of the national population. Once released, former inmates are barred from voting in elections, denied educational opportunities and are legally discriminated against in their efforts to find employment and housing. Few can deny the targeting of underprivileged urban communities of color in America’s failed War on Drugs. This phenomenon can largely be contributed to the stipulations of its anti-drug legislation, which commanded maximum sentencing for possession of minute amounts of rock cocaine, a substance that floods poor inner-city black communities.

Unbeknown to the vast majority of Americans, the US government has been actively taking steps to modify the legal infrastructure of the country to allow for a dramatic expansion of the domestic prison system at the expense of civil rights. On December 31st, 2011, Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) H.R. 1540. Emulating the rouge military dictatorships the US Government has long condemned in its rhetoric, the NDAA introduces a vaguely worded legislation that allows for US citizens to be arbitrarily detained in military detention without due process – might they be predictably be deemed radical, conspiratorial or suspected of terrorism. In a climate of rising public discontent, the establishment media has steadfastly worked to blur the line between public activism and domestic extremism.  In addition to the world’s largest network of prison facilities, over 800 located detainment camps exist in all regions of the United States with varying maximum capacities.

Facing economic stagnation, many Americans have been detained in responder camps as a consequence of publically demonstrating in accordance with the Occupy Wall Street movement launched in New York City. Under the guise of protecting Americans from a largely contrived and abstract threat of fundamentalist violence, citizens have been denied the right of peaceful assembly and placed in detainment apparatuses, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Documents have been released by the American Civil Liberties Union detailing the Pentagon’s widespread monitoring of public demonstrations and the targeting of individual activists under threat of national security. Co-authored by Senator Joe Lieberman, the Enemy Expatriation Act (HR 3166) gives the US government the power to detain nationals and revoke their American citizenship under suspicion of behavior perceived as terrorism.

This legislation becomes increasingly more dangerous as citizens can be labeled domestic extremists based on their constitutionally protected activism or personal political leanings. In January 2006, a contract to construct detention facilities for the Department of Homeland Security worth a maximum of $385 million was awarded to KBR, a subsidiary of Haliburton. Following the signing of NDAA earlier in 2012, leaked documents reveal that KBR is now seeking to staff its detention centers and award contracts for services such as catering, temporary fencing and barricades, laundry and medical services, power generation, and refuse collection. It would be reasonable to assume that these facilities could be managed in partnership with private corporations such as the GEO Group or the CCA, as many federal and state penitentiaries privatize sections of their facilities to privately owned companies. Declassified US Army documents originally drafted in 1997 divulge the existence of inmate labor camps inside US military installations. It is all but unexpected that the relationship between the upper echelons of government and the private prison enterprise will grow increasingly more intimate in the current climate of prison industrial legislation.

The partnership between the United States government and its corporate associates spans various industries however, they all seek the common pursuit of profit irrespective of the moral and ethical consequence – the human consequence. The increasing influence of the Prison Industrial Complex towards official legislation and economic undertakings signifies a reprehensible threat to basic human rights. Perhaps the issuance of government legislation that leads offenders into detainment for the benefit of private shareholders is the purest embodiment of fascism, as cited in Mussolini’s vision of a Corporate State. Perhaps we all (this author included) fail to grasp the seriousness of these legislations and their implications on our lives.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent over three decades on death row in the throngs of the American prison system. Prior to his conviction in 1981 for the murder of a white police officer, Jamal was a political activist and President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. Critical evidence vindicating Jamal was withheld from the trial prior to the issuance of the death penalty. Forensic experts believe he was denied a fair trial. On December 7, 2011, the Philadelphia District Attorney announced that prosecutors would no longer seek the death penalty for Jamal. He remains imprisoned for life without parole and continues his work as a journalist from his jail cell in Pennsylvania.

Anti-war organizations from across the United States and 6 other countries came together on Saturday, Feb. 4, to protest the rising crescendo of threats against Iran. In more than 30 states and 80 cities, large and small, groups joined forces to raise four key demands.
“No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations!” was the slogan on the lead banner of the New York demonstration, which was sponsored by an ad hoc committee of several groups. Many placards and hand-made signs also pointed to Wall Street and the banks as the real danger, not Iran.
The corporate media have been reporting for weeks that the Israeli regime is weighing an attack on Iran aimed at dismantling its nuclear program. Yet even former U.S. intelligence officers point out that Iran’s nuclear development is entirely peaceful; it is not building any nuclear weapons. (See “Divining the Truth About Iran” by Ray McGovern, published by Yet totally unsubstantiated claims to the contrary form the basis on which Israel, which itself has a large nuclear arsenal and has been armed and financed by the U.S., is now publicly claiming its right to launch a military attack on Iran.
The process has already begun in the major corporate media to give credibility to Israel’s charges and soften up public opinion to accept such a criminal act, which would unleash yet another devastating war in this oil-rich region so coveted by imperialism. A large crowd marched in New York from Times Square to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and then to the Israeli Consulate. The French press agency AFP estimated the protest at 500. Groups participating included the International Action Center, No War on Iran, American Iranian Friendship Committee, United National Anti-War Committee and Answer.
An Iranian explained that the most important issue was the thousands of assassinations that have taken place of Iranian scientists, state representatives and even parliament ministers, for which the Iranian people blame Israel and the U.S. This has united the Iranian people, he said, against foreign intervention and war. The war has already started because sanctions are an act of war. Even many of those who have opposed the Iranian government are now seeing that their main enemy is U.S. imperialism, he added.
In Los Angeles, some 200 rallied at the city’s busiest intersection by the Wiltshire Federal Bldg. Speakers included representatives from the Union of Progressive Iranians, CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), BAYAN-USA, ALBA-USA, Bail Out the People Movement, Workers World Party, Southern California Immigration Coalition and the International Action Center. Some people who had been at an Answer event several blocks away later joined the main rally.
In Boston, over 300 rallied and marched through downtown and rallied at the beginning, the end and at the Israeli Consulate. It was initiated by the Occupy Boston Action for Peace Working Group and had participation and speakers from Boston UNAC, Vets for Peace, the International Action Center, the Boston School Bus union, the Women’s Figthback Network, United for Justice with Peace, Dorcester Peace Action, and many others.
Other major cities with protests included Albany, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Tampa, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, Tucson, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu.
The demonstrations were pulled together on only two weeks’ notice, but they also inspired similar protests in Vancouver and Calgary, Canada, as well as in Bangladesh, India, Britain, Ireland and Norway

Heading for War on Syria

February 6th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

Washington’s longstanding policy is regime change in Iran and Syria. At issue is replacing independent regimes with client ones and securing unchallenged control of valued Middle East resources.

On February 4, Russia and China vetoed a largely one-sided anti-Assad resolution. A previous article called him more victim than villain. Yet he’s falsely blamed for months of externally generated violence.

In fact, he confronted a Western-backed armed insurgency replicating the Libya model. By so doing he acted responsibly against a heavily armed insurrection.

Imagine a similar scenario in America. Local police, National Guard forces, and Pentagon troops would confront it violently. Combined, they’d way exceed Assad’s response. 

Mass killing would follow. Western media scoundrels would approve. In contrast, the New York Times calls Syria’s self-defense state-sponsored “butchery.”

Its position substitutes disinformation for truth and full disclosure. They’re scrupulously avoided to misinform, misrepresent and betray readers. It’s longstanding major media policy. The Times featured it longer than others.

Since violence erupted last March, Syria was blamed for Western-backed insurgents against him. It’s part of Washington’s “New Middle East” project to control North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia to Russia and China’s borders.

For over a decade, regime change plans targeted Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria, and other countries outside the region.

Replicating Libya’s model is Washington’s template for future NATO aggression. Whether it’s employed fully in Syria remains to be seen.

So far, heavily armed insurgents entered from regional countries. Anti-government violence followed. Trapped between warring sides, civilian casualties mount. No end of conflict approaches. In fact, the worst is yet to come.

On February 5, Israel’s Mossad-connected DEBKA/file said Russia put “Rapid Reaction Force (aka Spetsnaz) units in Black Sea bases on (alert) to set out for Syria to defend Damascus.”

Russia’s determined to avoid another Libyan-style intervention. In response, Obama said Washington, key NATO partners, and Gulf allies will (in DEBKA/file’s words) “redouble their efforts to unseat Bashar Assad.”

On February 4, an official White House statement said:

“Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now. He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately.”

Fact check

Since WW II, no combination of nations caused more slaughter, destruction, and human misery globally that America. Moreover, Washington won’t tolerate democracy at home or abroad.

“Assad has no right to lead Syria, and has lost all legitimacy with his people and the international community. The international community must work to protect the Syrian people from this abhorrent brutality.”

Fact check

International law prohibits interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, including determining the legitimacy of their leaders. Moreover, Syria’s “abhorrent brutality” is entirely Western-backed. It was absent until Washington, key NATO partners, and rogue regional despots intervened, notably Saudi Arabia, and of course, Israel’s very much involved.

“We must work with the Syrian people toward building a brighter future for Syria….The suffering citizens of Syria must know: we are with you, and the Assad regime must come to an end.”

Fact check

Long-suffering Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Somalis, Bahrainis, Yemenis, Palestinians, and many others elsewhere understand the horrors when America intervenes. So do Syrians. They abhor Washington led meddling in their internal affairs and want no part of it.

In fact, a mid-December Qatar Foundation-funded YouGov Siraj poll found 55% of Syrians back Assad. It contradicts Western discourse of majority opposition. Except for the London Guardian, the findings were unreported in the West.

On February 4, Global Research editor Michel Chossudovsky explained “armed opposition groups” operating in Syria. They include the Western-backed Syria Free Army (FSA) “involved in criminal and terrorist acts.”

They’re killing civilians and security forces. They’re reigning terror blamed on Assad. They’re destroying state assets, including fuel pipelines, trains and vehicles carrying fuel, as well as buildings and other targets.

Their ranks include elements similar to Libyan insurgents, including “Al Qaeda affiliated” militants, “Muslim Brotherhood” members, and “Salafists. Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia” support them. So do other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States and Jordan.

Largely the same countries behind the Syria draft resolution backed Resolution 1973 against Libya. Once passed, war followed straightaway.

They include sponsor Morocco and co-sponsors:

  • Washington, Britain, France and Germany (the so-called NATO Quad – the key four) plus Portugal and Turkey; 

  • all six GCC states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, UAE, and Bahrain plus Jordan and Libya;

  • Colombia; and

  • Togo – its UN envoy Kodjo Menan holds the rotating SC presidency during February.

Russia and China stood firm against them. Washington’s UN envoy Susan Rice accused both countries of holding the Security Council “hostage.” Responding, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said:

The Security Council decision “should be exactly such because some influential members of the international community, including those sitting at this table, from the very beginning of the crisis in Syria undermined the opportunity of political settlement calling for change of the regime and setting the opposition against the power without shunning provocation and forcing for armed means of fighting.”

He added that the draft resolution didn’t reflect “reality in Syria,” nor did “co-authors” adopt Russia’s amendments to “distance” themselves “from (culpable) extremist groups” behind the insurrection.

On February 7, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov will meet Assad in Damascus.

On February 5, a Foreign Ministry statement said:

“Russia, including in interaction with other countries, is firmly set to seek the quickest stabilization of the situation in Syria along the paths of the quickest implementation of longstanding democratic transformations.”

Moscow also urged Arab League foreign ministers to continue their monitoring mission and report accurately on what they find. Russia and China stand firm against another “Libyan scenario.”

A Final Comment

Washington and key NATO partners plan intervention with or without Security Council cover. Doing so violates fundamental international law that prohibits interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, except in self-defense if attacked.

Syria threatens no one. Neither does Iran. Yet both are targeted for regime change. Plans are longstanding. With or without UN support, they’re coming. 

Expect the worst in 2012, preceded perhaps by false flag cover blamed on Assad. The strategy’s used as needed. It’s an America tradition to enlist public support for war. 

Electoral politics may influence timing, especially in a close presidential race. According to the latest February 4 Rasmussen poll findings, “Romney now ties Obama 45/45.” Moreover, “uncommitted voters (12% of its sample) have a distinctly sour take on the President,” though months remain until November.

Expect unfolding events to attempt to improve Obama’s chances, including perhaps war by scaring most people to support it. It’s generally effective when tried. In a close election year race, odds favor it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Währungskrieg: Richtet sich das Erdölembargo wirklich gegen den Iran?

February 6th, 2012 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Gegen wen richtet sich das sogenannte »Erdöl-Embargo« der Europäischen Union eigentlich wirklich? – Hierbei geht es in Wahrheit um eine wichtige geostrategische Frage. Teheran verurteilte die EU-Maßnahmen gegen den Iran nicht nur als kontraproduktiv, sondern richtete an die Adresse der EU auch die Warnung, das EU-Erdölimportembargo werde diese Länder und ihre Volkswirtschaften stärker treffen als den Iran. Aber ist diese Warnung an die führenden Politiker der EU, die neuen Sanktionen seien unsinnig und richteten sich gegen ihre nationalen Interessen und die Interessen der EU, wirklich berechtigt? Wer wird letzten Endes von den Ereignissen, die mit diesem Schritt in Gang gesetzt wurden, profitieren?

Erdölembargos gegen den Iran sind nichts Neues

1951 verstaatlichte die iranische Regierung unter Ministerpräsident Mohammed Mossadegh mit Zustimmung des iranischen Parlaments die Erdölindustrie des Landes. Als Folge dieses Schrittes blockierte Großbritannien die Hoheitsgewässer und die Häfen des Iran mit seiner Kriegsmarine und verhinderte so, dass der Iran Erdöl exportieren konnte. Zugleich brachten die Briten mit militärischen Mitteln den Handel des Iran zum Erliegen. London fror iranische Vermögen ein und versuchte das Land über Sanktionen zu isolieren. Die Regierung Dr. Mossadeghs war demokratisch gewählt worden und konnte von den Briten deshalb im Inland nicht so einfach in den Schmutz gezogen werden. Daher stellten sie Mossadegh als Vasall der Sowjetunion dar, der zusammen mit seinen marxistischen Verbündeten den Iran in ein kommunistisches Land verwandeln wolle.

Auf die völkerrechtswidrige britische Seeblockade folgte zwei Jahre später im Rahmen eines von den Anglo-Amerikanern herbeigeführten Sturzes Mossadeghs dann der »Regimewechsel« in Teheran. Dieser Putsch machte den Schah, der nach der Verfassung eigentlich ein konstitutioneller Monarch war, zu einem absoluten Herrscher und Diktator, vergleichbar mit den Königen Jordaniens, Saudi-Arabiens, Bahrains und Katars. Über Nacht wurde der Iran von einer demokratischen konstitutionellen Monarchie in eine Diktatur verwandelt.

Heute ist ein Erdölembargo gegen den Iran anders als Anfang der 1950er-Jahre mit militärischen Mitteln nicht durchzusetzen. Deshalb verschanzen sich London und Washington hinter rechtschaffenen Phrasen und schieben die angeblichen Bestrebungen des Iran, Atomwaffen zu entwickeln, als Vorwand vor. Aber wie in den 1950ern zielt das Erdölembargo gegen Teheran letztlich auf einen Regimewechsel ab. Aber hinter dem Vorhaben Washingtons, ein Erdölembargo gegen die Iraner durchzusetzen, stehen noch tieferliegende und weitreichendere Ziele, die über die Grenzen des Iran hinausreichen.

Die Europäische Union und die iranischen Erdölexporte

Die Volksrepublik China ist der größte Abnehmer iranischen Erdöls. Nach Angaben der Internationalen Energie-Agentur mit Sitz in Paris, die nach dem arabischen Erdölembargo 1973 als strategischer Arm der westlichen Organisation für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (OECD) aufgebaut wurde, exportiert der Iran täglich 543.000 Barrel Erdöl nach China. Weitere Großabnehmer sind Indien, die Türkei, Japan und Südkorea. Indien erhält 341.000 Barrel aus dem Iran, die Türkei importiert 370.000 Barrel täglich, Japan 251.000 Barrel und Südkorea 239.000 Barrel.

Nach Angaben des iranischen Erdölministeriums beträgt der Anteil der iranischen Erdölexporte in die Europäische Union lediglich 18 Prozent und damit weniger als ein Fünftel der gesamten iranischen Erdölverkäufe. Dieser Anteil, wohlgemerkt aller erdölimportierenden EU-Staaten zusammengenommen, wird von einigen als Beleg für die Wirksamkeit des EU-Erdölembargos gegen den Iran angeführt.

Der Iran könnte den Wegfall der europäischen Erdölimporte durch neue Käufer oder durch Erhöhung der Liefermengen an schon existierende Importländer wie China und Indien ausgleichen. Eine Vereinbarung des Iran über die Anlage strategischer Reserven mit China könnte einen großen Teil der Exportausfälle aufgrund des EU-Embargos ersetzen. Das Erdölembargo gegen den Iran wird daher nur minimale Auswirklungen auf das Land haben. Es ist sogar wahrscheinlich, dass negative Folgen eher von den weltweiten Auswirkungen des Embargos gegen den Iran herrühren werden.

Der Iran und der weltweite Währungskrieg

Nach Angaben des Internationalen Währungsfonds (IWF) machen Dollar und Euro zusammen etwa 84,8 Prozent der derzeitigen Devisenreserven weltweit aus (Stand Ende 2011). Für sich genommen nahm der US-Dollar mit 61,7 Prozent 2011 den Löwenanteil an den weltweiten Devisenreserven ein. Die Energieverkäufe machen dabei einen gewichtigen Anteil aus, da die Bezahlung der Energierohstoffe größtenteils in US-Dollar abgewickelt wird.

Dieses Petrodollar-System ist eine der wichtigsten Säulen des internationalen Wertes des Dollars. Fast alle Länder der Welt sind praktisch gezwungen, US-Dollar-Devisenreserven anzulegen, um ihre Energie- und Handelsbedürfnisse befriedigen zu können. Um die Bedeutung des internationalen Erdölgeschäfts für die USA zu verdeutlichen, sei nur darauf hingewiesen, dass alle Mitgliedsstaaten des Golf-Kooperationsrates (GCC) – Saudi-Arabien, Bahrain, Katar, Kuwait, Oman und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate – ihre jeweiligen Landeswährungen an den Dollar gekoppelt haben und das Petrodollar-System dadurch stützen, dass sie den Handel mit ihrem Erdöl in US-Dollar abwickeln. Darüber hinaus sind auch die Währungen des Libanon, Jordaniens, Eritreas, Dschibutis, Belizes und noch verschiedener anderer tropischer Inseln in der Karibik ebenfalls an den Dollar gebunden. Und neben den überseeischen Territorien der USA benutzen auch El Salvador, Ecuador und Panama den Dollar offiziell als ihre Landeswährung.

Der Euro steht einerseits im Konkurrenz zum US-Dollar, ist aber zugleich die Währung verbündeter Länder. Beide Währungen arbeiten in vielen Fällen Hand in Hand gegen andere Währungen und werden offensichtlich durch die immer enger zusammenrückende und konzentrierende Macht der Finanzzentren kontrolliert.

Neben den 17 EU-Mitgliedern, die den Euro als Einheitswährung verwenden, verfügen auch das Fürstentum Monaco, San Marino und der Vatikanstaat über Ausgaberechte, und sowohl Montenegro als auch die mehrheitlich von Albanern bewohnte serbische Provinz Kosovo setzen den Euro als Landeswährung ein. Außerhalb der Euro-Zone sind die Währungen Bosniens, Bulgariens, Dänemarks, Lettlands und Litauens in Europa, die Währungen Kap Verdes, der Komoren, Marokkos, der Demokratischen Republik São Thomé und Príncipe sowie die beiden CFA-Währungszonen in Afrika (die Coopération Financière en Afrique Central in Zentralafrika und die Communauté Financière d’Afrique in Westafrika) sowie die Währungen verschiedener westeuropäischer Überseegebiete wie Grönland alle an den Euro gebunden.

Auch andere Währungszonen sind direkt an den Euro gekoppelt. In Ozeanien sind der Comptoir Francais du Pacifique (CFP-) Franc, der auch einfach »Franc Pacifique« genannt und in einer Währungsunion der französischen Überseegebiete in Französisch-Polynesien benutzt wird, Neukaledonien und das französische Überseegebiet der Wallis- und Futuna-Inseln an den Euro gebunden. Wie schon erwähnt sind auch die beiden CFA-Zonen in Afrika eine Bindung an den Euro eingegangen. Damit haben sowohl die Finanzunion Westafrikas, dazu gehören Benin, Burkina Faso, die Elfenbeinküste, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, der Senegal und Togo mit dem westafrikanischen CFA-Franc, sowie die Finanzunion Zentralafrikas mit Kamerun, der Zentralafrikanischen Republik, dem Tschad, der Republik Kongo (Kongo-Brazzaville), Äquatorial-Guinea und Gabun mit ihrem zentralafrikanischen CFA-Franc, ihr Schicksal an den Wert des Euro geknüpft.

Der Iran strebt im Zusammenhang mit den zunehmenden Feindseligkeiten mit den USA und der Europäischen Union keine militärische Konfrontation an. Entgegen den immer wieder verbreiteten Berichten erklärte Teheran, die Blockade der Straße von Hormus sei nur das letzte Mittel. Zugleich haben die Iraner deutlich gemacht, dass sie amerikanischen Schiffen oder Schiffen ihnen feindlich gesonnener Länder die Durchfahrt durch die iranische Hoheitsgewässer nicht länger gestatten werden, was ihr gutes Recht ist. Schiffe dieser Länder könnten die Hoheitsgewässer Omans in der Straße von Hormus benutzen. Allerdings wirft das für die USA und andere iranische Gegner Probleme auf, da die Gewässer Omans in der Straße von Hormus zu flach sind.

Anstelle einer militärischen Konfrontation setzt sich Teheran wirtschaftlich auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen zur Wehr. Als ersten Schritt begann der Iran bereits vor 2012 damit, seine internationalen Erdölverkäufe und den -handel hinsichtlich der damit verbundenen Devisentransaktion zu diversifizieren. Mit diesem bewussten Schritt will sich der Iran aus der Abhängigkeit vom US-Dollar lösen, wie es auch schon Saddam Hussein 2000 getan hatte, um sich gegen die dem Irak auferlegten Sanktionen zur Wehr zu setzen. In diesem Zusammenhang errichtete der Iran in Konkurrenz zur New Yorker Warenterminbörse Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) und der in London sitzenden International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), die beide ihren Transaktionen den US-Dollar zugrunde legen, eine eigene internationale  Energiebörse. Diese iranische Börse, die Kish Oil Bourse, wurde offiziell im August 2011 auf der Insel Kisch im Persischen Golf eröffnet. Bei ihren ersten Transaktionen nutze sie den Euro und den Dirham der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate.

Vor dem Hintergrund der Konkurrenz zwischen Euro und US-Dollar wollten sich die Iraner ursprünglich für den Euro und ein Petro-Euro-System entscheiden, weil sie hofften, die Konkurrenz zwischen dem US-Dollar und dem Euro würde die Europäische Union langfristig zu einem Verbündeten des Iran machen und zu einer allmählichen Abkoppelung der EU von den USA beitragen. Aber mit den zunehmenden politischen Spannungen mit der EU verlor das Petro-Euro-System für Teheran an Attraktivität. Der Iran erkannte, dass sich die Europäische Union unter einer korrupten Führung  den amerikanischen Interessen unterordnet. Daher ist Teheran, wenn auch nicht in gleicher Intensität, bemüht, sich auch vom Euro zu lösen.

Darüber hinaus versucht der Iran den Einsatz von US-Dollar und Euro in bilateralen Handelsbeziehungen zu umgehen. Der Iran und Indien verhandeln derzeit über die Bezahlung für iranisches Erdöl in Gold. Der iranisch-russische Handel wird in iranischen Rial und russischen Rubel abgewickelt, während der Handel des Iran mit China unter Verwendung des chinesischen Renminbi, iranischem Rial, japanischem Yen oder anderen Währungen mit Ausnahme des US-Dollar und des Euro abgewickelt werden.

Eigentlich hätte der Euro große Vorteile aus einem Petro-Euro-System ziehen können, aber das Vorgehen der Europäischen Union hat diese Perspektive praktisch zunichte gemacht. Das Erdölembargo der EU ist praktisch nur der letzte Sargnagel. Auf weltweiter Ebene schwächt die sich abzeichnende zunehmende Abkehr des eurasischen und internationalen Handels von US-Dollar und Euro als Reservewährungen diese beiden Währungen. Das iranische Parlament berät derzeit über ein Gesetz, das solange einen sofortigen Stopp der Erdölexporte an die Mitglieder der EU, die sich an den Sanktionen gegen den Iran beteiligen, vorsieht, bis das EU-Erdölembargo aufgehoben wird. Ein solcher Schritt würde den Euro vor allem auch deswegen erheblich unter Druck setzen, weil die EU kaum Zeit haben würde, sich auf den Ausfall der iranischen Erdöllieferungen einzustellen.

Aber es zeichnen sich noch andere Interpretationsmöglichkeiten ab. Vielleicht sind diese Entwicklungen auch im Sinne Washingtons, das die Europäische Union schwächen will. Es könnte aber auch sein, dass die USA und bestimmte einzelne EU-Mitgliedstaaten gegen strategische wirtschaftliche Konkurrenten oder andere aufstrebende Märkte zusammenarbeiten.

Wer trägt den Nutzen? Die wirtschaftlichen Absichten reichen über den Iran hinaus …

Die Einstellung der iranischen Erdölexporte und der Wertverlust des Euro spielten direkt den USA und dem US-Dollar in die Hände. Das Vorgehen der EU trägt zu ihrer eigenen Schwächung bei und begünstigt den US-Dollar in seiner Konkurrenz zum Euro. Sollte der Euro tatsächlich zusammenbrechen, könnte der US-Dollar schnell zumindest teilweise einspringen. Obwohl Russland von höheren Erdölpreisen profitierte und als wichtiger Energielieferant seinen Einfluss noch stärken könnte, warnte der Kreml die EU, dass sie mit ihrem Vorgehen ihre eigenen Interessen zuwiderhandele und sich Washington unterordne.

Die wirtschaftlichen Folgen steigender Erdölpreise wiegen schwer. Ist die Europäische Union in der Lage, solchen wirtschaftlichen Turbulenzen oder sogar einem Euro-Zusammenbruch standzuhalten?

Das Erdölembargo der EU gegen den Iran wird den Euro destabilisieren und dann lawinenartig auch andere Volkswirtschaften außerhalb der EU in Mitleidenschaft ziehen. Teheran hatte gewarnt, die USA zielten eigentlich darauf ab, über die Durchsetzung des EU-Erdölembargos konkurrierende Volkswirtschaften zu schwächen. Vor dem Hintergrund dieser Überlegung ergibt es dann auch einen Sinn, dass die USA versuchen, in Asien China, Indien, Südkorea und Japan dazu zu bewegen, ihre iranischen Erdölimporte zu drosseln oder ganz einzustellen.

Innerhalb der Europäischen Union werden vor allem die schwächsten und angeschlagenen Volkswirtschaften wie Griechenland und Spanien am stärksten unter den Folgen des EU-Erdölembargos zu leiden haben.

Die Erdölraffinerien in den EU-Ländern, die bisher iranisches Erdöl verarbeitet hatten, werden sich neue Lieferanten suchen und ihr weiteres operatives Vorgehen den neuen Gegebenheiten anpassen müssen. Einer der führenden Manager der italienischen Unione Petrolifera, Piero De Simone, erklärte, es sei damit zu rechnen, dass bis zu 70 Erdölraffinerien geschlossen werden müssten. Möglicherweise würden dann asiatische Länder raffiniertes iranisches Erdöl zulasten der lokalen Raffinerien und Erdölindustrie an die EU verkaufen.

Trotz gegenteiliger politisch motivierter Stellungnahmen zur Unterstützung des Erdölembargos gegen den Iran wird Saudi-Arabien kaum in der Lage sein, die aufgrund des Embargos in der EU und auf anderen Märkten entstehenden Lieferlücken auszugleichen. Ein Engpass in der Erdölversorgung und die veränderten Produktionsbedingungen dürften sich in vielerlei Hinsicht verschärfend auf die Lage in der Europäischen Union auswirken und die Kosten für die Produktion industrieller Güter, den Transport und die Marktpreise in die Höhe treiben. Es ist daher damit zu rechnen, dass sich die Krise in der Euro-Zone noch weiter verschärfen wird.

Aber der Preisanstieg bei Gütern des alltäglichen Bedarfs, von Nahrungsmitteln bis zum Transport- und Verkehrswesen, wird nicht auf die EU beschränkt bleiben, sondern wird weltweit Auswirkungen nach sich ziehen. Und wenn die Preise auf weltweiter Ebene anziehen, werden sich die Volkswirtschaften Lateinamerikas, der Karibik, Afrikas, des Nahen und Mittleren Ostens und der Pazifik-Region neuen Schwierigkeiten gegenübersehen, die die Finanzwirtschaft in den USA und einige ihrer Partner, darunter auch EU-Mitgliedsstaaten, zu ihrem Vorteil ausnutzen und bestimmte Bereiche und Märkte in den genannten Regionen übernehmen könnten. Der IWF und die Weltbank könnten in ihrer Funktion als Bretton-Woods-Sachwalter der Interessen der Wall Street unter Ausnutzung der wirtschaftlichen Schwierigkeiten dieser Länder versuchen, dort weitere Privatisierungsprogramme durchzusetzen, die letzten Endes nur der Finanzwirtschaft der USA und ihrer wichtigsten Verbündeten zugute kämen. So gesehen wird viel davon abhängen, an wen der Iran seine durch das EU-Embargo frei gewordenen Erdölfördermenge von immer 18 Prozent der Tagesförderung verkaufen wird.

Die Folgen des arabischen Erdölembargos von 1973: Libyen und die Internationale Energieagentur

Viele Länder in Afrika oder der Pazifik-Region verfügen über keine strategischen Erdölreserven und sind daher weltweiten Preissteigerungen auf Gedeih und Verderb ausgeliefert. Demgegenüber haben die USA und die EU alles versucht, sich selbst in strategischer Hinsicht vor den Folgen derartiger nachteiliger Entwicklungen zu schützen. Und hier kommt nun die Internationale Energieagentur (IEA) mit Sitz in Paris ins Spiel. Auch die libyschen Erdölvorkommen spielen bei den Feindseligkeiten und der Erdölpolitik im Zusammenhang mit dem Iran eine wichtige Rolle.

Die IEA wurde nach dem arabischen Erdölembargo 1973 ins Leben gerufen. Wie schon erwähnt, ist sie sozusagen »der strategische Arm der westlichen Organisation für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (OECD)«. In der OECD haben sich wichtige Länder des »Westens« zusammengeschlossen: unter anderem die USA, Großbritannien, Frankreich, Deutschland, Spanien, Italien, Belgien, Dänemark, Japan, Kanada, Südkorea, die Türkei, Australien, Israel und Neuseeland. Die OECD besteht damit im Wesentlichen aus den USA und ihren Verbündeten und Vasallen. Mit Ausnahme von Israel, Chile, Estland, Island, Slowenien und Mexiko gehören alle OECD-Mitgliedstaaten auch der IEA an.

Seit ihrer Gründung 1974 gehört die Anlage strategischer Erdölreserven für die OECD-Länder zu den wichtigsten Aufgaben der IEA. Während des NATO-Krieges gegen Libyen stellte die IEA einen Teil ihrer strategischen Reserven zur Verfügung, um die Lücke, die durch die eingestellten libyschen Erdöllieferungen entstanden war, zu füllen. Zuvor hatte die IAE ihre Reserven nur zweimal angezapft: im ersten Irakkrieg der von Amerika angeführten Militärkoalition und 2005, als der Hurrikan Katrina die USA heimsuchte.

Mit dem Krieg in Libyen wurden zahlreiche Ziele verfolgt. Man wollte:

1. die afrikanischen Einheitsbestrebungen vereiteln;

2. China aus Afrika hinausdrängen;

3. die strategische Kontrolle über wichtige Energiereserven an sich reißen und

4. die Erdölversorgung für den im Fall eines von den USA angeführten Konflikts mit Syrien und den Iran sicherstellen.

Mit dem NATO-Krieg in Libyen wurden [aus anglo-amerikanischer Sicht] die Erdöllieferungen aus Libyen gesichert, denn es hatte die Gefahr bestanden, dass Oberst Muammar al-Gaddafi im Falle eines möglichen Konflikts der USA, der NATO und Israels mit Syrien oder dem Iran die Erdöllieferungen an die EU eingestellt hätte, um Syrien und dem Iran beizustehen. Zu den Personen, die wesentlich mit dazu beigetragen haben, dass die Vereinten Nationen dem Krieg gegen Libyen zustimmten, gehört interessanterweise der Libyer Sliman Bouchuigur, Vorsitzender der Libyschen Liga für Menschenrechte (LLHR) und derzeitiger Botschafter Libyens in der Schweiz. Bouchuigir war daran beteiligt, eine Strategie auszuarbeiten, mit der verhindert werden sollte, dass Erdöl als strategische Waffe eingesetzt werden könnte, um auf diese Weise sicherzustellen, dass sich eine Krise wie 1973 für die USA und ihre Verbündeten niemals wiederholen könnte.

Syrien gehörte wie der Iran ebenfalls zu den Erdöllieferanten der EU. Und wie im Falle des Iran hat die EU auch gegen Syrien auf Druck der USA im Rahmen der gegen Syrien verhängten Sanktionen ein Erdölimportverbot ausgesprochen. Aufgrund der fehlenden iranischen und syrischen Erdöllieferungen an die EU steigt die strategische Bedeutung der libyschen Erdölreserven. Vor diesem Hintergrund sind die Berichte über die Entsendung tausender amerikanischer Soldaten zu den libyschen Erdölfeldern auch so zu verstehen, dass diese Entsendung in einem direkten Zusammenhang mit der zunehmend feindseligen Haltung der USA und der EU gegenüber Syrien und dem Iran steht. Die Lieferung libyschen Erdöls, das eigentlich für China vorgesehen war, an die EU könnte ebenfalls Teil dieser Strategie sein.

Psychologische Kriegsführung

Die auf Druck der amerikanischen Regierung gegen den Iran verhängten Sanktionen stellen praktisch das Ende der Fahnenstange dar. Das ganze Gerede über die angebliche Isolation des Iran ist Übertreibung und hat wenig Bezug zu den tatsächlichen derzeitigen internationalen Beziehungen und dem Welthandel. Brasilien, Russland, China, Indien, der Irak, Kasachstan, Venezuela und noch verschiedene andere Länder des früheren Sowjetblocks, Asiens, Afrikas und Lateinamerikas haben sich geweigert, sich den Sanktionen gegen die iranische Wirtschaft anzuschließen.

Das EU-Importembargo entfaltet aber zusammen mit den weitergehenden Sanktionen gegen den Iran eine breite psychologische Wirkung. Der Iran und sein Verbündeter Syrien sehen sich beide einem auf vielen Ebenen stattfindenden Krieg gegenüber, der wirtschaftliche, verdeckte geheimdienstliche, diplomatische, mediale und psychologische Aspekte aufweist.

Die psychologische Kriegsführung, zu der auch die etablierten Medien als Werkzeuge der Außen- und Kriegspolitik zu zählen sind, stellt ein wirksames und zudem preisgünstiges Propagandainstrument der USA da. Aber psychologische Kriegsführung kann von beiden Konfliktparteien eingesetzt werden.

Ein Großteil der amerikanischen Macht ist psychologischer Natur und beruht auf Ängsten. Aber ähnlich wie die geografischen Bedingungen im Persischen Golf arbeitet die Zeit für den Iran und gegen die USA.

Wenn der Iran an seinem derzeitigen Kurs festhält und sich von den Sanktionen nicht beirren lässt, wird dies dazu beitragen, eine wichtige psychologische Barriere zu durchbrechen, die auf der ganzen Welt Länder davon abhält, sich gegen die USA zu stellen.

Auch die Weigerung vieler Länder, sich dem Druck der Regierung Obama zu beugen und sich den Sanktionen gegen den Iran anzuschließen, wird das Ansehen und die Macht der USA auf Dauer beschädigen, was dann wiederum auch wirtschaftlichen und finanzielle Auswirkungen nach sich zöge.

Darüber hinaus wird das EU-Erdölembargo gegen den Iran letztlich die EU stärker treffen als den Iran. Auf lange Sicht könnte auch die USA davon betroffen werden.

In struktureller Hinsicht werden die Folgen des EU-Embargos die EU noch stärker an die USA binden, aber diese Folgen könnten die gesellschaftliche Opposition gegen Washington stärken, was sich dann in der politischen und wirtschaftlichen Arena auswirken könnte.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya ist Soziologe und ein mit Preisen ausgezeichneter Autor. Er arbeitet für des Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) in Montreal und ist spezialisiert auf den Mittleren Osten und Zentralasien. Er hat als Autor und Gast für mehrere internationale Foren und Sender wie Al Jazeera, Press TV, Televisión del Sur (teleSUR) und Russia Today Beiträge über den Mittleren Osten verfasst. Seine Arbeiten wurden in mehr als zehn Sprachen veröffentlicht. Er schreibt auch für die Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) in Moskau.

Quelle: Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) vom 31.01.2012

بقلم: المهدي داريوس ناظم روايا/ المهدي داريوش ناظم رعایا
التاريخ: ٢٠- يناير-٢٠١٢

نشرت الـ “نيويورك تايمز” خبراً مفاده أن إدارة أوباما بعثت برسالة مهمّة إلى القيادة في إيران في 12 من يناير 2012. [1] وفي 15 من يناير أقر الناطق باسم الخارجية الإيرانية أن الرسالة وصلت إلى طهران عبر ثلاث قنوات دبلوماسية :

  • تمّ تسليم النسخة الأولى من الرسالة إلى السفير الإيراني في الأمم المتحدة محمد خزاعي عبر نظيرته الأميركية سوزان رايس في مدينة نيويورك. ة
  • وسلّم النسخة الثانية من الرسالة في طهران السفير السويسري إلى إيران ليفيا لو أغوستي. ة
  • أما النسخة الثالثة فوصلت إلى إيران عبر جلال طلباني العراقي. [2] ة 

شرح البيت الأبيض في الرسالة موقف الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في الوقت الذي أكّد فيه المسؤولون الإيرانيون أن الرسالة تعبّر عن واقع الحال أي عجز الولايات المتحدة عن شنّ حربٍ على إيران.

تضمّنت الرسالة التي كتبها الرئيس باراك حسين أوباما طلباً أميركياً لمباشرة المفاوضات بين واشنطن وطهران بهدف إنهاء الصراع الإيراني الأميركي. “أعلن أوباما في الرسالة عن استعداده لبدء المفاوضات وحلّ الخلافات المتبادلة” ,هذا ما أعلنه البرلماني الإيراني علي مطهري لوكالة الأنباء “مهر”. [3] وبحسب برلماني آخر، وهو نائب رئيس لجنتيّ الأمن القومي والسياسة الخارجية حسين إبراهيمي، تدعو الرسالة إلى التعاون بين إيران والولايات المتحدة وإلى بدء مفاوضاتٍ تنطلق من المصالح المشتركة لطهران وواشنطن. [4]

من جهة ثانية سعى أوباما في رسالته إلى التأكيد لطهران بأن الولايات المتحدة لن تبادر إلى أي عمل عدائي ضد إيران. [5]. في الوقت عينه قام البنتاغون بإلغاء أو تأجيل مناورات مشتركة واسعة النطاق مع “إسرائيل”.. [6] لكن بالنسبة للإيرانيين لا تعني هذه المبادرات أي شيء لأن أفعال إدارة أوباما لطالما ناقضت أقوالها في العلاقة مع طهران. علاوةً على ذلك تعتقد إيران أن الولايات المتحدة لن تهاجمها لأن هذه الأخيرة تدرك أن كلفة الحرب على خصمٍ مثل إيران ستكون مرتفعة جدّاً وأن عواقبها ستكون في غاية الخطورة.

لكن هذا لا يعني أنه قد تمّ تفادي المواجهة بين إيران والولايات المتحدة أو أن مثل هذه المواجهة لن تقع، إذ يمكن للرياح أن تعصف في أي اتجاه. كما أن هذا لا يعني أن إدارة أوباما ليست بصدد التهيئة لشن حربٍ على الإيرانيين وحلفائهم. في الواقع تخوض كتلتا إيران والولايات المتحدة حرب ظلال فيما بينهما من الشبكة الإلكترونية وأثير التلفزيونات إلى أودية أفغانستان وشوارع بغداد وبيروت المزدحمة.

الحرب على إيران بدأت منذ عدّة سنوات

لم تبدأ الحرب على إيران في العام 2012 ولا حتى في العام 2011 حتى أن “نيوز ويك ماغازين” أوردت على غلافها في العام 2010  “اغتيالات وهجمات إلكترونية وعمليات تخريب… هل بدأت الحرب على طهران؟”. قد تكون الحرب الحقيقية قد بدأت في العام 2006

بدل مهاجمة إيران بشكلٍ مباشر قامت الولايات المتحدة بشنّ حربٍ سرّية وبالوكالة. خيضت الأبعاد الخفية للحرب على جبهات الأجهزة الاستخبراتية والهجمات الإلكترونية وفيروسات الكومبيوتر والوحدات العسكرية السرّية والجواسيس والقتلة المأجورين وعملاء افتعال الشغب والمخربين. كانت عمليات اختطاف واغتيال العلماء والقادة العسكريين الإيرانيين، والتي بدأت منذ سنوات، جزءاً من هذه الحرب السرّية.

خلال حرب الظلال هذه تمّ اختطاف الديبلوماسيين الإيرانيين في العراق، وبات الإيرانيون الذين كانوا يزورون جورجيا والمملكة العربية السعودية وتركيا عرضة للخطف أو الاحتجاز. كذلك اغتالت حرب الظلال هذه العديد من المسؤولين السوريين بالإضافة إلى شخصيات فلسطينية عديدة والقائد في حزب الله عماد فايز مغنية.

بدأت الحرب بالوكالة حين هاجمت “إسرائيل” لبنان في العام 2006 بنيّة توسيعها لتشمل سوريا. الطريق إلى دمشق تمرّ عبر بيروت في حين تقع دمشق على طريق طهران. بعد فشلها في العام 2006 وإدراكها أن سوريا هي العمود الفقري لكتلة المقاومة التي تقودها إيران، أمضت الولايات المتحدة وحلفاؤها السنوات الست التالية في محاولة فصل سوريا عن إيران.

كذلك تشن الولايات المتحدة الحرب على إيران وحلفائها على الجبهتين الدبلوماسية والاقتصادية عبر التلاعب بالهيئات الدولية وتوكيل الحكومات الأخرى. ما بين عامّي 2011 و2012 شكّلت الأزمة في سوريا من الناحية الجيوسياسية جبهة من جبهات الحرب على إيران. حتى تحدي “دريل أوستير 2012″ الأميركي الإسرائيلي الموجّه نحو سوريا ونشر الولايات المتحدة لقواتها كانا في الواقع يستهدفان إيران.

سوريا في عين العاصفة

ما تقوم به واشنطن يهدف إلى ممارسة ضغط سايكولوجي على إيران لإبعادها عن سوريا حتى تتمكّن الولايات المتحدة وقطعانها من الانطلاق في عملية القتل. حتى بدايات يناير من العام 2012 كان الإسرائيليون يقومون بالتحضير لشن حرب تهدف إلى اجتياح سوريا كردٍّ على هزيمة 2006 ذلك في الوقت الذي سعى فيه المسؤولون الأميركيون والأوروبيون إلى إجراء مفاوضات مستمرة مع الجانب السوري لفصل سوريا عن كلٍ من إيران وكتلة المقاومة. لكن السوريون رفضوا بحزم وثبات هذه الطروحات.

نشرت الـ “فورين بوليسي” في أغسطس من العام 2011 مقالاً تحدّثت فيه عما يدور في خلد الملك السعودي حول سوريا في سياق الهجوم على إيران. : “يدرك جلالة الملك السعودي أن لا شيء قد يضعف إيران إذا استثنينا انهيار حكم الثورة الإسلامية فيها سوى خسارتها لسوريا“. ” [7] سواء جاء هذا التصريح بشكلٍ عفوي من عبد العزيز آل سعود أم لا فإن هذه النظرة الاستراتيجية تعبّر بشكلٍ دقيق عن الأسباب التي تقف خلف استهداف سوريا بهذا الشكل. أكّد مستشار الأمن القومي الشخصي لأوباما النظرة عينها بعد بضعة أشهرٍ من نشر ”فورين بوليسي” للمقالة الآنفة الذكر وذلك في نوفمبر 2011. ألقى مستشار الأمن القومي الرئاسي دونيلون خطاباً ورد فيه “سيشكّل انهيار نظام الأسد أعظم نكسة لإيران في المنطقة، إنها ضربة استراتيجية ستنقل ميزان القوة في المنطقة إلى الضفة المعادية لإيران“. ” [8]

كذلك أصدر الكرملين سلسلة من التصريحات أكّد فيها أن واشنطن تسعى إلى فصل سوريا عن إيران. وقد صرّحت شخصية أمنية روسية رفيعة المستوى أن سوريا تُعاقب بسبب تحالفها الاستراتيجي مع إيران. وقال الأمين العام لمجلس الأمن القومي في روسيا الفدرالية نيكولاي بلاتونوفيتش باتروشيف بشكلٍ علني إن سوريا تخضع لضغوطاتٍ كبيرة من واشنطن بهدف تأمين مصالح جيوسياسية لهذه الأخيرة وحلفائها لا تتحقّق إلا عبر فك الإرتباط بين سوريا وإيران وليس لأية أسبابٍ إنسانية أو سواها. [9]

من جهتها صرّحت إيران أنه في حال تعرّضت سوريا لأي هجومٍ عسكري فإن طهران لن تتردّد في التدخل عسكرياً لنصرة حليفتها. لا ترغب واشنطن بالطبع بحدوث ذلك إذ يفضّل البنتاغون ابتلاع سوريا أولاً قبل أن يوجّه كامل طاقته وتركيزه نحو إيران. يهدف البنتاغون في تحقيق أهدافه الواحد تلو الآخر. لأنه على الرغم من عقيدة الجيش الأميركي التي تقوم على مبدأ خوض حروبٍ متعددة في وقتٍ واحد وعلى عدّة جبهات وعلى الرغم من جميع المؤلفات التي أصدرها البنتاغون حول هذا النهج إلا أن الولايات المتحدة ليست جاهزة بعد لخوض حربٍ إقليمية تقليدية ضد كل من سوريا وإيران في الوقت عينه أو أن تخاطر بامتداد المواجهة لتشمل حليفا إيران روسيا والصين. على الرغم من ذلك ما زال السعي نحو الحرب أبعد ما يكون عن التوقّف. ستضطرّ حكومة الولايات المتحدة في الوقت الحالي إلى الاكتفاء بخوض حرب ظلال ضد إيران كما ستسعى إلى تكثيف الهجوم الإعلامي والدبلوماسي والاقتصادي على هذه الأخيرة.

مهدي داريوس نازمروايا

[1] Elisabeth Bumiller et al., “US sends top Iran leader warning on Hormuz threat,” The New York Times, January 12, 2012.

[2] Mehr News Agency, “Details of Obama’s letter to Iran released,” January 18, 2012.




[6] Yakkov Katz, “Israel, US cancel missile defense drill,” Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2012.

[7] John Hannah, “Responding to Syria: The King’s statement, the President’s hesitation,” Foreign Policy“, August 9, 2011.

[8] Natasha Mozgovaya, “Obama Aide: End of Assad regime will serve severe blow to Iran,” Haaretz, November 22, 2011.

[9] Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer, “Russia Says NATO, Persian Gulf Nations Plan to Seek No-Fly Zone for Syria,” Bloomberg, January 12, 2012.


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¿Contra quien realmente apuntó la Unión europea en el llamado “embargo de petróleo sobre Irán”?

Ésta es una importante pregunta geo-estratégica. Aparte de rechazar las nuevas medidas de la Unión Europea contra Irán como contra-productivas, Teherán ha advertido a los estados miembro de la Unión europea que  el embargo de petróleo de la Unión Europea contra Irán herirá a sus economías mucho más que a Irán.

Teherán ha advertido así a los líderes de países de la Unión Europea que las nuevas sanciones son tontas y contra sus intereses nacionales y de bloque. ¿Pero es esto correcto? ¿Al final del día quien se beneficiará de la cadena de eventos que están siendo puestos en  movimiento?

¿Son nuevos estos embargos de petróleo contra Irán?

Los embargos de petróleo contra Irán no son nuevos. En 1951, el gobierno Iraní del primer ministro Mohammed Mossadegh con el apoyo del Parlamento Iraní, nacionalizó la industria de petróleo Iraní. Como resultado del programa de nacionalización del Dr. Mossadegh, los británicos obstruyeron militarmente las aguas territoriales y los puertos nacionales de Irán con la Armada Real británica y previnieron a Irán de exportar su petróleo.

Ellos también previnieron militarmente el comercio Iraní. Londres también congeló los recursos iraníes y empezó una campaña para aislar a Irán con sanciones. El gobierno del Dr. Mossadegh era democrático y no podría difamarse fácil y domésticamente por los británicos, así ellos empezaron a retratar a Mossadegh como un peón de la Unión Soviética que convertiría a Irán en un país comunista junto con sus aliados políticos Marxistas.

El ilegal embargo naval británico fue seguido por cambio del régimen en Teherán vía un coup d’etat diseñado por angloamericanos. El golpe de 1953 transformó al Shah de Irán de una cabeza de figura constitucional en un monarca absoluto y dictador, como los monarcas de Jordania, Arabia Saudita, Bahrein, y Qatar. Irán se transformó en una noche de una monarquía constitucional democrática en una dictadura.

Hoy, un embargo de petróleo militarmente impuesto contra Irán no es posible como este era en los tempranos 1950s. En cambio Londres y Washington usan el idioma de la rectitud y detrás esconden pretextos falsos sobre las armas nucleares iraníes. Como en los años cincuenta, el embargo de petróleo contra Irán se ata al cambio del régimen.

Hay también todavía, objetivos más anchos que van más allá de los límites de Irán atados al el proyecto de Washington para imponer un embargo de petróleo contra los iraníes.

La Unión Europea y ventas de petróleo iraní

El cliente más grande de Irán para el petróleo es la República Popular de China.

Según la Agencia de Energía Internacional basada en París (IEA) que se creó después del Embargo de Petróleo árabe 1973  como el ala estratégica de la Organización del Bloque Occidental de Cooperación Económica y Desarrollo (OCDE), Irán exporta 543,000 barriles de petróleo por día a China.

Los otros clientes grandes de Irán son India, Turquía, Japón, y Corea Sur.

India importa 341,000 barriles por día de Irán, Turquía importa 370,000 barriles por día de Irán, Japón importa 251,000 barriles por día de Irán, y Corea del Sur importa 239,000 barriles por día de Irán.

Según el Ministerio Iraní de Petróleo la Unión europea considera sólo por 18% de exportaciones de petróleo iraníes que significa menos del quinto de ventas de petróleo iraníes.

Sólo “colectivamente” la Unión Europea es el segundo cliente más grande de Irán.

Todos los países juntos de la Unión Europea importan 510,000 barriles por día de Irán. Esta línea de colectividad es todo el petróleo Iraní que importa Unión Europea y los países han estado resaltándose juntos por eso de la necesidad para dar énfasis a la efectividad del embargo de petróleo de la Unión Europea contra Irán.

Irán puede reemplazar ventas de petróleo a la Unión europea vía nuevos compradores o a China y a India como aumentar las ventas a los clientes existentes. Un acuerdo iraní para trabajar con China para acumular reservas estratégicas chinas llenaría una porción grande del vacío dejado por la Unión europea. Así, el embargo de petróleo contra Irán tendrá efectos directos mínimos en Irán.

Más bien, probablemente es que cualquiera de los efectos que la economía iraní sienta se atará a las ramificaciones globales del embargo de petróleo contra Irán.

Irán y la Guerra de la Moneda Global

Según el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI), el dólar americano y el euros constituyen juntos 84.4% de las reservas de intercambio de moneda del mundo (fecha fin de 2011).

El dólar americano solo, consiste en porción más grande de las reservas de intercambio de moneda del mundo en 2011, a saber 61.7%.

Las ventas de energía son una parte importante de esta ecuación, porque el dólar americano se ata al comercio de petróleo. Así, el comercio de petróleo, a través de lo que se llama el petro-dólar, está ayudando a sostener el lugar internacional del dólar americano.

Los países alrededor del mundo han sido obligados virtualmente a usar el dólar americano para mantener sus necesidades de comercio y transacciones de energía. Para resaltar la importancia del comercio de petróleo internacional para EEUU, todos los miembros del Consejo de Cooperación de Golfo (GCC) – Arabia Saudita, Bahrein, Qatar, Kuwait, Omán, y los Emiratos árabes Unidos – tienen sus monedas nacionales clavadas al dólar americano y por eso sostienen el petro-dólar comerciando el petróleo en dólares americanos.

Es más, las monedas de Líbano, Jordania, Eritrea, Djibouti, Belice, y varias islas tropicales en el Mar Caribe también están todas clavadas al dólar americano. También aparte de los territorios extranjeros de los Estados Unidos, El Salvador, Ecuador, y Panamá todos usan oficialmente el dólar americano como sus monedas nacionales.

El euro es por otro lado un rival del dólar americano así como una moneda aliada. Ambas en muchos casos monedas trabajan en tándem contra otras monedas y parecen ser controlados uniendo cada vez más centros de poder financiero.

Aparte de los diecisiete miembros de la Unión europeos que usan el euro como su moneda, el Principado de Mónaco, San Marino, y la Ciudad del Vaticano también tienen derechos emisores y Montenegro y la mayoría albanesa en la provincia serbia de Kosovo usan el euro como sus monedas nacionales.

Fuera de del área del euro (Euro zona), los monedas de Bosnia, Bulgaria, Dinamarca, Letonia, y Lituania en Europa; los monedas de Cabo Verde, Comoros, Marruecos, la República Democrática de Sao Tomé y Príncipe, y las dos zonas CFA en África; y los monedas de varias dependencias extranjeras de Europa Occidental, como Groenlandia, están todos clavados al euro.

Varias zonas monetarias se atan directamente al euro. En Oceanía, el Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique (CFP) el franco, simplemente llamado el franco del Pacífico (pacifique del franco), usado en una unión monetaria de las dependencias francesas de Polinesia francesa, Nuevo Caledonia, y el Territorio de las Islas de Wallis y Futuna se clava al euro.

Como mencionó antes, ambas zonas en África del CFA en también se clavan al euro. Así, ambos la Comunidad Financiera de África (Communauté financiere d’Afrique, CFA) franco o el franco del Oeste CFA africano en África – Oriental usado por Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Malí, Níger, Senegal y Togo – y la Cooperación Financiera en África Central (Cooperation financiere en Afrique central, CFA) franco o el franco de CFA africano Central – usado por Camerún, la República africana Central, Chad, la República del Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), la Guinea Ecuatorial, y Gabón – tienen sus destinos atados al valor monetario del euro.

Irán no está buscando ninguna confrontación militar en las hostilidades crecientes con los Estados Unidos y la Unión europea. A pesar de la narrativa torcida presentada, Teherán ha dicho que sólo cerrará el Estrecho de Ormuz como un último recurso. Los iraníes también han dicho que ellos no permitirán a EEUU o las naves hostiles pasar por agua territorial iraní que es su derecho legal y que naves hostiles podrían navegar en cambio a través de aguas territoriales de Omán en el Estrecho de Ormuz.

Como una nota lateral, entre otras cosas, el problema para EEUU y los otros adversarios de Irán son que las aguas en el lado omani del Estrecho de Ormuz son demasiado poco profundas. En lugar de la confrontación militar, Teherán está luchando económicamente de varias maneras.

El primer paso que empezó antes del 2012 era diversificar las ventas internacionales de petróleo iraní y comercios respecto a sus transacciones de moneda. Ésta es parte de un movimiento calculado por Irán para dejar de usar el dólar americano sólo como Saddam Hussein de Irak lo hizo en 2000 como un medio para luchar contra las sanciones impuestas sobre Irak.

En este contexto, Irán ha creado un intercambio de energía internacional o bourse que compite con el New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) y el International Petroleum Exchange de Londres (IPE), qué ambos operan usando el dólar americano para las transacciones.

Este intercambio de energía, llamado Kish Oil Bourse, se abrió oficialmente en agosto de 2011  en la Isla de Kish en el Golfo Pérsico. En sus primeras transacciones que se hicieron usaron el euro y el dirhem Emirati.

En contexto de las rivalidades de euro y dólar americano, los iraníes originalmente quisieron volverse al euro y un sistema del petro-euro con la esperanza que la competencia entre el dólar americano y el euro haría a la Unión Europea un aliado de Irán y se des-uniría la Unión Europea de los Estados Unidos.

Cuando las tensiones políticas han aumentado con la Unión Europea, el petro-euro se ha vuelto menos atractivo para Teherán. Irán ha comprendido que la Unión Europea es sumisa a los intereses americanos bajo líderes corruptos. Así, en menor grado, Irán ha intentado también marcharse del euro. Es más, Irán ha ensanchado su movimiento para alejarse del uso del dólar americano y el euro como política en relaciones de comercio bilaterales.

Irán e India están hablando sobre pagos en oro para el petróleo Iraní. El comercio iraní y ruso se hace en rials iraníes y rublos rusos, mientras el comercio iraní con China y otros países asiáticos se hace usando el renminbi chino, rial iraní, yen japonés, y otras monedas no-dólar y no-euro.

Mientras los euros pudieran ser un gran ganador de un sistema del petro-euro, las acciones de la Unión europea han trabajado contra esto. El embargo de petróleo de la Unión Europea contra Irán está meramente martillando los clavos en el ataúd. Globalmente, la matriz emergente comercio internacional y transacción de Eurasia y fuera de de los paraguas del dólar americano y el euro está debilitando a ambos monedas. El Parlamento Iraní está aprobando ahora la legislación para cortar la exportación de petróleo a los miembros de la Unión Europea que será parte del régimen de las sanciones hasta que ellos rescindan las sanciones de petróleo iraní.El movimiento iraní será un golpe al euro, especialmente desde que la Unión Europea no tendrá tiempo para prepararse para los cortes de energía Iraníes.

Hay varias posibilidades que podrían surgir.

Una de ellos es que ésta pudiera ser parte de lo que Washington quiere y podría estar jugando en sus manos contra la Unión europea. Otro es que los americanos y específicamente los miembros de la Unión Europea están trabajando juntos contra rivales económicos estratégicos y otros mercados.

¿Quién se beneficia?
El fin de la exportación de petróleo iraní a la Unión europea y el declive del euro beneficiará directamente a los Estados Unidos y el dólar americano. Lo que la Unión Europea está haciendo está meramente debilitándose y está dando la mejor mano al dólar americano en su rivalidad de moneda contra el euro. Es más, si los euros deben derrumbarse, el dólar americano llenará mucho más rápidamente el vacío. A pesar del hecho que Rusia se beneficiará de los precios de petróleo más altos y la mayor influencia sobre la seguridad de energía de la Unión Europea como proveedor, el Kremlin también ha advertido la Unión europea que está trabajando contra sus propios intereses y está subordinándose a Washington. Muchas preguntas importantes están juego sobre las consecuencias económicas de precios de petróleo aumentados.

¿Podrá la Unión europea enfrentar la tormenta económica o un derrumbe de la moneda?

Lo que hará el embargo de petróleo de la Unión Europea Irán es desestabilizar el euro y la bola de nieve hieren globalmente las economías no-Unión Europea.

En esta vista, Teherán ha advertido que los objetivos americanos hieran las economías rivales a través de la adopción de sanciones de petróleo de la Unión Europea contra Irán. Dentro de esta línea de pensamiento, ésta es la razón por qué EEUU está intentando forzar a China, India, Corea del Sur, y Japón en Asia para reducir o cortar importaciones de petróleo iraní.

Dentro de la Unión europea, serán las más frágiles y esforzadas economías, como Grecia y España que serán heridas por el embargo de petróleo de la Unión Europea contra Irán.

Las refinerías de petróleo en los países de la Unión Europea que importan petróleo Iraní tendrán que encontrar nuevos vendedores como fuentes y también se obligarán a ajustar sus operaciones. Piero De Simone, uno de los líderes de la Unione Petrolifera de Italia, ha advertido que casi setenta refinerías de petróleo en la Unión Europea pueda ser que cierren y que los países asiáticos podrían empezar vendiendo petróleo iraní refinado a la Unión Europea a costa de las refinerías locales y las industrias de petróleo locales.

Ni a pesar de las demandas políticas que apoyan un embargo de petróleo contra Irán, Arabia Saudita no quiere ni puede llenar el vacío de las exportaciones de petróleo iraní a la Unión Europea u otros mercados. Un déficit en suministros de petróleo y cambios de producción podría tener efectos en espiral en la Unión europea y en los costos de producción industrial, transporte, y precios de mercado.

La predicción es que la Unión Europea estará ahondando eficazmente la crisis en el área del euro o Euro zona. Es más, el levantamiento en los precios cotidianos va de la comida al transporte y no se limitará a la Unión Europea, sino tendrá ramificaciones globales.

Cuando el aumento de los precios en una escala global, las economías en los países de Latinoamérica, Caribe, África, Medio Oriente, Asia, y Pacífico enfrentarán nueva penalidad que el sector financiero en el EEUU y algunos de sus socios – incluso los miembros de la Unión europea – podría capitalizar en adelante tomando ciertos sectores y mercados. El FMI y Banco Mundial, como los apoderados Breton Woods de Wall Street, podrían entrar en la mezcla e imponer programas de más privatización beneficiando a los sectores financieros de EEUU y sus socios principales. Además, cómo Irán decide vender los 18% de petróleo que dejará de vender a los miembros de la Unión Europea también será un factor mediando.

Las Fantasmas del Embargo de Petróleo árabe de 1973: Libia y la Agencia de Energía Internacional

Mientras los países en África o el Pacífico no tienen ninguna reserva estratégica de petróleo y estarán a merced de aumentos de precio globales, EEUU y la Unión europea han trabajado e intentado aislarse estratégicamente de tales escenarios. Esto es donde la Agencia de Energía Internacional basada en París (IEA) entra en el cuadro.

Las reservas libias de petróleo también son un factor a las hostilidades y petro-política que involucran Irán.

El IEA se creó después del Embargo de Petróleo árabe 1973. Como mencionado antes es un “ala estratégica de la Organización del Bloque Occidental de Co-operación Económica y Desarrollo (OCDE)”. La OCDE es un club de países que incluyen a EEUU, Gran Bretaña, Francia, Alemania, España, Italia, Bélgica, Dinamarca, Japón, Canadá, Corea del Sur, Turquía, Australia, Israel, y Nueva Zelanda.

Está esencialmente basado en los contornos del Bloque Occidental que se comprende de los aliados y satélites de América.

Aparte de Israel, Chile, Estonia, Islandia, Eslovenia, y México todos los miembros de la OCDE son miembros del IEA. Subsecuentemente su creación en 1974, uno de las responsabilidades del IEA ha sido abastecer reservas de petróleo estratégicas para los países de OCDE.

Durante la guerra de OTAN contra Libia el IEA abrió realmente sus reservas de petróleo estratégicas para compensar por vacío dejado por una falta de petróleo libio para exportaciones. Las únicas otras dos veces que esto pasó fue en 1991, cuando Washington lideró una coalición militar en su primera guerra contra Irak, y en 2005, cuando el Huracán Katrina devastó los Estados Unidos.

La guerra en Libia tenía muchos propósitos:

(1) previniendo unidad africana;

(2) Echar a China fuera de África;

(3) controlando la reserva de energía estratégicamente importante; y

(4) mantener suministros de petróleo en el guión de cualquier conflicto liderado por EEUU contra Siria e Irán.

Lo que la guerra de OTAN ha hecho en Libia es seguro el rendimiento de petróleo de Libia, porque había una oportunidad que la Jamahiriya árabe Libia bajo el coronel Muammar Qaddafi podría suspender ventas de petróleo a la Unión europea en apoyo de Siria o Irán en posibles conflictos con EEUU, OTAN, y Israel.

También es interesante notar que una de las figuras de Libia que ayudaron a habilitar la guerra contra Libia en los Naciones Unidas era Sliman Bouchuiguir, cabeza de la Liga de Libia para los Derechos Humanos (LLHR) y actual embajador de Libia en Suiza que trabajó en formular una estrategia contra permitir al petróleo usarse como arma estratégica para asegurar que la crisis de petróleo 1973 nunca se repita para EEUU y sus aliados.

Aparte de Irán, los sirios han sido también una fuente de importaciones de petróleo de la Unión europea.

Como Irán, la Unión Europea también ha cortado su bloque del petróleo sirio vía un régimen de sanciones diseñado por el gobierno americano. Con el petróleo iraní y sirio cortados de la Unión Europea el valor estratégico de petróleo libio se levantó.

En esta vista, los informes sobre el despliegue de miles de tropas americanas al petróleo libio también pueden analizarse los campos como estando coordinado o atado a las crecientes hostilidades de EEUU y Unión Europea con Siria y Irán. El Re-direccionamiento de embarques de petróleo libio a la Unión Europea que quiso China también puede ser parte de tal estrategia.

La Guerra Psicológica

Realidad el régimen de sanciones diseñado por el gobierno americano contra Irán ha entrado hasta donde puede ir. Todos los discursos sobre aislamiento Iraní son bravata y lejos de la realidad de las relaciones internacionales y comercio actuales.

Brasil, Rusia, China, India, Irak, Kazajstán, Venezuela, y los varios países en el espacio post-soviético, Asia, África, y América Latina, todos se han negado a unirse a las sanciones contra la economía Iraní.

El embargo de petróleo de la Unión Europea, acoplado con las sanciones más anchas contra Irán, tiene implicancias psicológicas anchas. Irán y su aliado Siria los dos encaran una guerra multi-dimensional que tiene alcances económicos, encubiertos, diplomáticos, medios de comunicación, y psicológicos.

La guerra psicológica que involucra los medios de comunicación de la corriente principal como una herramienta de política extranjera y guerra, constituye un instrumento de propaganda eficaz para la deuda americana a sus costos más bajos. Todavía, la guerra psicológica puede lucharse en ambos lados.

Mucho del poder del EEUU es psicológico y atado para temer. Como la geografía del Golfo Pérsico, tiempo está del lado de Irán y trabajando contra los Estados Unidos.

Si Irán continúa en su curso presente y no es disuadido por las sanciones, esto ayudará a romper un umbral psicológico crítico que alrededor del mundo tiende a descorazonar países de confrontar y oponerse a los Estados Unidos.

Si muchos países deben continuar negándose a doblarse bajo a la Administración de Obama que pertenece a la imposición de sanciones contra Irán, éste también será un golpe al prestigio y poder de EEUU que también tendría implicancias económicas y financieras. Es más, al final del día, el embargo de petróleo de la Unión Europea herirá a la Unión Europea en lugar de Irán. En el largo plazo también podría herir a los Estados Unidos.

Estructuralmente, los efectos del embargo de petróleo de la Unión Europea se atrincherarán más en la Unión Europea. En la órbita de Washington, pero estos efectos catalizarán la creciente oposición social a Washington que se manifestará en el futuro en las arenas políticas y económicas.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya es sociólogo e investigador asociado del Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), con sede en Montreal. Está especializado en temas de Oriente Próximo y Asia Central. Ha sido colaborador e invitado en las discusiones sobre Oriente Medio en numerosos programas y redes internacionales como Al Jazeera, Press TV, teleSUR y Russia Today. Permaneció en Libia durante la campaña de bombardeos de la OTAN, informando desde allí para varias cadenas de noticias. También es corresponsal especial de Flashpoints, un programa con sede en Berkeley, California. Sus artículos se han publicado en más de diez idiomas. Escribe también para la Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) de Moscú.
Texto original en inglés – SCF - 31 enero 2011:
Currency Warfare: What are the Real Targets of the E.U. Oil Embargo-against Iran?

¿Quién está detrás de los “rebeldes” en Siria?

February 5th, 2012 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Varios artículos en los medios de comunicación británicos confirman que las Fuerzas Especiales Británicas están asistiendo y entrenando a los grupos alineados en contra del gobierno del presidente sirio, Bashar al-Assad. 

El patrón subyacente es similar al de Libia donde las Fuerzas del SAS británicas estaban en el terreno antes de la intervención militar de la OTAN. 

Los informes confirman que el ejército británico y agentes de inteligencia ya están dentro de Siria. 

Informes de noviembre pasado indican que las Fuerzas Especiales británicas se han reunido con miembros del Ejército Libre de Siria (FSA por sus siglas en inglés), el brazo armado del Consejo Nacional Sirio. 

El aparente objetivo de este contacto inicial fue establecer la fuerza de los grupos armados y allanar el camino para alguna operación de entrenamiento en el futuro. 

Informes más recientes han indicado que las Fuerzas Especiales británicas y francesas han estado activamente entrenando a miembros del FSA, desde una base en Turquía. 

Algunos informes señalan que el entrenamiento también se está llevando a cabo en Libia y el norte de Líbano. 

Agentes del MI6 y personal del UKSF (SAS/SBS) han estado entrenando a los “rebeldes” en guerra urbana como también suministrándoles armas y equipos. 

Se cree que agentes de la CIA y Fuerzas Especiales están suministrando asistencia en comunicaciones a los “rebeldes”. 

Estos informes confirman inequívocamente la injerencia extranjera en los asuntos de un estado soberano. 

Este no es un levantamiento popular. 

La insurrección como también los asesinatos de civiles fueron patrocinados por los poderes occidentales desde el principio. 

Agentes de EE. UU., Reino Unido y Turquía están suministrando armas a los “rebeldes” violando las leyes internacionales. Informes indican que los rebeldes son hombres armados entrenados como también miembros de organizaciones afiliadas con Al Qaeda: 

“Gran Bretaña se está preparando para el combate que podría ser más grande y sangrienta que la batalla contra Gaddafi. El ministerio de Defensa está diseñando planes secretos para una zona de exclusión aérea patrocinada por la OTAN pero primero necesita el respaldo del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU. 

Mientras el conflicto y los asesinatos aumentan en el país, agentes de la CIA y el MI6 están ya en Siria evaluando la situación, reveló un oficial de seguridad. 

Las Fuerzas Especiales también están conversando con soldados disidentes sirios. Ellos quieren saber acerca de equipos de armas y comunicaciones que los “rebeldes” necesitarán si el gobierno decide ayudar. 

“El MI6 y la CIA están en Siria para infiltrar y llegar a la verdad”, dijo la fuente bien ubicada. 

“Tenemos al SAS y SBS no muy lejos que quieren saber que está pasando y están encontrando cuáles equipos necesitan los soldados disidentes”. 

Traducción Ivana Cardinale 

* Michel Chossudovsky es un analista de Global Research



Nonostante le divergenze e le rivalità tra Mosca e Tehran, i legami tra Russia e Iran si stanno infittendo. I due Paesi hanno già molto in comune: entrambi sono tra i maggiori esportatori di energia fossile, hanno interessi profondamente radicati nel Caucaso meridionale, si oppongono allo scudo missilistico NATO e desiderano impedire il controllo europeo e statunitense dei corridoi energetici nel bacino del Mar Caspio. Tra i punti di contatto anche molte alleanze condivise, da quelle con l’Armenia, il Tagikistan e la Bielorussia a quelle con Siria e Venezuela. Senza contare il vincolo che lega più saldamente le due repubbliche, l’essere entrambe tra i principali obiettivi geo-strategici di Washington.

La  triplice intesa eurasiatica: toccate l’Iran e ve la vedrete con Russia e Cina

La triplice intesa eurasiatica e il valore dell’Iran per Russia e Cine

Cina, Russia e Iran sono ormai considerati alleati e partner. Federazione Russa, Repubblica Popolare Cinese e Repubblica islamica d’Iran formano, insieme, una barriera anti-statunitense, consolidatasi con una triplice alleanza, la quale rappresenta il nucleo di una coalizione euroasiatica volta a resistere alla penetrazione statunitense in Eurasia e, più in generale, al desiderio americano di egemonia mondiale. In questo quadro, i cinesi si occupano principalmente di fronteggiare l’avanzata statunitense in Asia Orientale e nel Pacifico, mentre gli iraniani controllano l’area sud-occidentale dell’Asia lasciando ai russi l’onere di vigilare sull’Europa orientale. In Asia centrale si congiungono gli sforzi di tutti e tre gli Stati, che guardano con estrema diffidenza alla presenza militare USA e NATO in Afghanistan.

In tutto questo, l’Iran rappresenta l’elemento cardine dell’intero scacchiere geopolitico. L’intera equazione geo-politica in Eurasia cambierà infatti al variare dell’orbita politica iraniana. Una possibile alleanza tra Stati Uniti e Iran, il quale diventerebbe così ostile a Pechino e a Mosca, potrebbe seriamente destabilizzare Russia e Cina con effetti devastanti per entrambe. Ciò a causa dei forti legami etnico-culturali, linguistici, economici, religiosi e geo-politici tra l’Iran e le regioni del Caucaso e dell’Asia centrale.

L'Iran e l'Estero Vicino russoL’Iran, essendo a ridosso del lato più vulnerabile della Russia, il ventre molle meridionale (o “Estero Vicino”), potrebbe anche trasformarsi nel più grande canale utile a favorire l’influenza e l’espansione degli Stati Uniti nel Caucaso e nell’Asia centrale. In un simile scenario, il ruolo della Russia quale corridoio energetico verrebbe seriamente turbato e sfidato da Washington, che sbloccherebbe il potenziale iraniano di primo corridoio energetico nel bacino del Mar Caspio difendendo gli oleodotti iraniani. Parte del successo della Russia in questo senso è stato infatti finora dovuto agli sforzi statunitensi, concretizzatisi nel blocco del passaggio di energia in territorio iraniano, finalizzati all’indebolimento dell’Iran e del relativo corridoio energetico.

Il passaggio di campo iraniano causerebbe seri danni anche all’economia e alla sicurezza nazionale cinesi, le quali sarebbero fatte ostaggio da almeno due fattori: da un lato l’insicurezza delle riserve energetiche iraniane, a quel punto anche soggette agli interessi geopolitici degli Stati Uniti, metterebbe a serio rischio la sicurezza energetica cinese; dall’altro l’Asia centrale potrebbe ri-orientare la sua orbita se Washington dovesse aprire un canale forzato e diretto che attraversi l’Iran arrivando fino al mare aperto.

Per questo motivo, sia la Russia sia la Cina sono interessate ad un’alleanza strategica con l’Iran quale mezzo per tutelarsi dall’avanzata di Washington sullo scacchiere geo-politico. Il fronte occidentale della “Fortezza Eurasia” sarebbe vulnerabile senza l’Iran. Questo è il motivo per cui né Russia né Cina potrebbero mai accettare una guerra contro l’Iran. Se l’Iran orbitasse all’interno della sfera di influenza di Washington, Russia e Cina sarebbero in pericolo.

Fraintendere il sostegno di Cina e Russia alle sanzioni approvate dal Consiglio di Sicurezza dell’ONU

C’è molta confusione in merito al sostegno concesso in passato da Russia e Cina alle sanzioni ONU contro l’Iran. Se Pechino e Mosca hanno permesso l’approvazione di sanzioni da parte del Consiglio di Sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite contro il loro alleato iraniano, lo hanno fatto per motivi strategici volti a mantenere l’Iran al di fuori dell’orbita di Washington. In realtà, gli Stati Uniti preferirebbero di gran lunga cooptare Teheran come partner satellitare o minore che esporsi inutilmente ai pericoli che comporterebbe l’arrischiarsi in una guerra totale contro l’Iran. Il sostegno russo e cinese alle passate sanzioni ha consentito che una più ampia frattura emergesse tra Tehran e Washington. A questo proposito, la realpolitik è all’opera. A mano a mano che le tensioni irano-statunitensi si amplificano, si stringono le relazioni tra Iran, Russia e Cina, e l’Iran è sempre più trincerato nella sfera di Mosca e Pechino.

Russia e Cina non avrebbero mai sostenuto delle sanzioni paralizzanti o qualsiasi forma di embargo economico che potessero minacciare la sicurezza nazionale iraniana. Questo è il motivo per cui sia Cina sia Russia hanno rigettato l’obbligo, imposto da Washington, di sostenere nuove sanzioni unilaterali nel 2012. I russi hanno anche messo in guardia l’Unione Europea dal continuare ad agire come una pedina nelle mani di Washington, giocando in maniera autolesionistica secondo gli schemi imposti dagli Stati Uniti. La Russia si è così espressa in merito ai piani, considerati inattuabili e difficilmente gestibili, dell’UE per un embargo petrolifero contro l’Iran. Anche Teheran si è pronunciata in simili ammonimenti, accantonando l’ipotesi di un embargo petrolifero appoggiato dall’UE quale semplice tattica psicologica destinata a fallire.

Russia e Iran unite nella cooperazione per la sicurezza e nel coordinamento strategico

L'incontro Jalili-PatrushevNell’agosto 2011, il capo del Consiglio Supremo di Sicurezza Nazionale dell’Iran, il Segretario Generale Said Jalili, ed il capo del Consiglio Nazionale di Sicurezza della Federazione Russa, il segretario Nikolaj Platonovich Patrushev, si sono incontrati a Teheran per discutere in merito al programma energetico nucleare iraniano ed alle possibilità di cooperazione tra i due Paesi. La Russia ha così voluto aiutare la Repubblica islamica a respingere le accuse con cui Washington si preparava nuovamente ad attaccare l’Iran. Poco dopo l’arrivo a Teheran di Patrushev e del suo team russo, il ministro degli esteri iraniano, Ali Akbar Salehi, sarebbe volato a Mosca.

Nel settembre 2011 Jalili e Patrushev si sarebbero incontrati di nuovo, questa volta in Russia. Jalili si sarebbe recato a Mosca per poi attraversare gli Urali arrivando nella città russa di Yekaterinburg. L’incontro di Yekaterinburg ha avuto luogo a margine di un vertice sulla sicurezza internazionale ed è risultato particolarmente rilevante poiché, in quel contesto, è stato annunciato che i maggiori enti di sicurezza nazionale russi ed iraniani avrebbero, da quel momento, coordinato le proprie attività tramite riunioni periodiche, sulla base di un protocollo firmato a tal proposito da entrambi gli Stati. A Yekaterinburg, sia Jalili sia Patrushev avrebbero inoltre incontrato la loro controparte cinese, Meng Jianzhu. Uno degli incontri avrebbe avuto come risultato l’accordo, siglato tra Jalili e Jianzhu, secondo il quale i due avrebbero chiesto l’adozione di misure analoghe da parte dei Consigli di Sicurezza Nazionale di Iran e Cina. Cinesi e iraniani avrebbero anche sollecitato l’istituzione di un Consiglio di sicurezza sovranazionale nell’ambito dell’Organizzazione per la Cooperazione di Shanghai, al fine di affrontare congiuntamente le minacce comuni a Pechino, Teheran, Mosca e al resto dei Paesi facenti parte dell’organizzazione eurasiatica.

Sempre nel settembre 2011, Dmitrij Rogozin, l’inviato russo presso la NATO, annunciava che avrebbe visitato Teheran di lì a poco, per discutere del progetto relativo allo scudo missilistico NATO, osteggiato sia dal Cremlino sia dall’Iran. Nel giro di poco tempo, fecero la loro comparsa articoli in cui si ipotizzava l’esistenza di progetti per la creazione di uno scudo missilistico congiunto da parte di Russia, Iran e Cina. Rogozin, che nell’agosto 2011 aveva allarmato le controparti circa la possibilità di un attacco a Siria e Yemen come passo preliminare ad un confronto con Teheran, rispose smentendo pubblicamente l’esistenza di piani per la creazione di uno scudo missilistico sino-russo-iraniano.

Il mese seguente, nell’ottobre del 2011, i Ministeri degli affari esteri di Russia e Iran annunciavano l’intenzione di rafforzare le relazioni tra i due Paesi in tutti gli ambiti possibili. Poco dopo, nel novembre 2011, Iran e Russia firmavano un accordo di partnership e di cooperazione strategica tra i rispettivi più alti organismi di sicurezza, in merito a questioni economiche, politiche e di sicurezza, incrementando i legami di intelligence ed il proprio coordinamento. Ciò era stato ampiamente anticipato da un documento a cui entrambe le parti stavano lavorando da tempo. L’accordo è stato firmato a Mosca dal Segretario generale del Consiglio Supremo di sicurezza iraniano, Ali Bagheri (Baqeri), e dal Sottosegretario del Consiglio di Sicurezza Nazionale della Russia, Evgenij Lukjanov.

Nel novembre 2011, il presidente del Comitato per gli affari internazionali della Duma russa, Konstantin Kosachev, aveva inoltre annunciato che la Russia avrebbe dovuto fare tutto il possibile per impedire un attacco al vicino Iran. Alla fine del novembre 2011 un ulteriore comunicato ha confermato che Dmitrij Rogozin avrebbe visitato sia Teheran sia Pechino nel 2012. In particolare, sono state divulgate informazioni secondo le quali Rogozin e un team di funzionari russi si sarebbero recati in Iran e Cina per intavolare discussioni strategiche relative alle strategie collettive da attuare in risposta a minacce condivise.

Il legame tra sicurezza nazionale russa e sicurezza nazionale iraniana

Il 12 gennaio 2012, Nikolaj Patrushev ha esternato a Interfax i propri timori circa la possibilità che una grande guerra stesse per esplodere e che Tel Aviv spingesse gli Stati Uniti ad attaccare l’Iran. Ha respinto le voci insistenti che vedrebbero l’Iran alle prese con la fabbricazione clandestina di armi nucleari, sottolineando come l’ipotesi che, dall’oggi al domani, l’Iran si sarebbe potuto dotare della bomba atomica fosse ormai stata ripetuta al mondo fino alla nausea. I suoi commenti sarebbero stati seguiti da un terribile avvertimento pronunciato da Dmitrij Rogozin.

Il 13 gennaio 2012, Rogozin, che il Cremlino annunciava prossimo a divenire vice-Primo Ministro russo, ha dichiarato che qualsiasi tentativo di intervento militare contro l’Iran avrebbe rappresentato una minaccia per la sicurezza nazionale russa. In altre parole, attaccate Teheran e attaccherete Mosca. Nel 2007 Vladimir Putin, trovandosi a Teheran per un summit sul Mar Caspio, si era pronunciato in maniera similare, cosa che aveva spinto George W. Bush Jr. ad innalzare l’allarme in merito al fatto che a causa dell’Iran sarebbe potuta scoppiare una Terza Guerra Mondiale. Tuttavia, l’affermazione di Rogozin è semplicemente una dichiarazione relativa a quella che è stata la posizione della Russia per tutto questo tempo: se l’Iran dovesse cadere, la Russia sarebbe in pericolo.

L’Iran concentra su di sé l’ostilità degli Stati Uniti non solo a causa delle sue vaste riserve di energia e delle sue risorse naturali, ma anche poiché importanti considerazioni geo-strategiche lo rendono un trampolino di lancio ideale contro Russia e Cina. Le strade per Mosca e Pechino passano per Teheran, così come la strada per Teheran passa per Damasco, Baghdad e Beirut. E gli USA non vogliono acquisire il controllo degli oleodotti e gasdotti iraniani per mere ragioni economiche o di consumo. Washington vuole mettere la museruola alla Cina attraverso il controllo della sicurezza energetica cinese e desidera che i dollari USA siano la moneta di scambio per le esportazioni energetiche iraniane, in modo da assicurare l’uso continuo del dollaro nelle transazioni internazionali.

Come se non bastasse, l’Iran ha stipulato accordi con partner commerciali come la Cina e l’India, in cui le transazioni commerciali non avranno luogo in euro o in dollari statunitensi. Nel gennaio 2012, Russia e Iran hanno sostituito, per i propri scambi bilaterali, il dollaro statunitense con le rispettive monete nazionali, il rublo russo e il rial iraniano, sferrando un duro colpo al cuore economico e finanziario degli Stati Uniti.

La Siria al centro delle preoccupazioni sulla sicurezza nazionale di Iran e Russia

Russia, Cina e Iran supportano fermamente la Siria. L’assedio diplomatico ed economico contro la Siria è legato alla posta geo-politica in gioco per il controllo dell’Eurasia. L’instabilità della posizione siriana è legata all’obiettivo di combattere l’Iran e di trasformarlo, infine, in un partner degli Stati Uniti contro Russia e Cina.

Lo spiegamento di migliaia di truppe statunitensi in Israele per Austere Challenge 2012, poi cancellato o posticipato, era finalizzato a far aumentare la pressione contro la Siria. Sulla base di un rapporto pubblicato da Voice of Russia, alcuni media russi hanno riferito erroneamente che Austere Challenge 2012 si sarebbe tenuta nel Golfo Persico. La notizia è stata ripresa, altrettanto erroneamente, da organi di informazione di altri Paesi del mondo. Ciò ha contribuito a far cogliere con maggiore enfasi un possibile nesso tra l’esercitazione e la minaccia rappresentata dall’Iran, facendo passare in secondo piano il ruolo di Siria e Libano. Il dispiegamento delle truppe statunitensi era principalmente rivolto contro la Siria, per isolare e contrastare l’Iran. Presumibilmente, le esercitazioni missilistiche israelo-statunitensi, poi cancellate o posticipate, sarebbero state finalizzate alla preparazione della difesa da attacchi di missili e razzi provenienti non solo dall’Iran, ma anche da Siria, Libano e Territori Palestinesi.

A prescindere dall’esistenza di porti navali russi in Siria, la Russia teme che la Siria sia strumentalizzata al fine di re-indirizzare i corridoi energetici del bacino del Caspio e del Mediterraneo. Se la Siria dovesse cadere, tali rotte verrebbero riviste in modo da riflettere la nuova realtà geo-politica. A spese dell’Iran, l’energia proveniente dal Golfo Persico potrebbe infatti essere dirottata verso Libano e Siria, nel Levante, per giungere così al Mediterraneo.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, ricercatore associato al Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), è membro del Comitato Scientifico di GEOPOLITICA.
Traduzione di Nijmi Edres - 31 gennaio 2012
Testo originale in inglese - 22 gennaio  2012:
The Eurasian Triple Entente: Touch Iran in a War, You Will Hear Russia and China.
Ripubblicazione è gradita con riferimento alla rivista on-line della Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF).

GEOPOLITICA. Rivista dell’Istituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliarie è stata fondata nel dicembre 2011 allo scopo di diffondere lo studio della geopolitica e stimolare in Italia. È la rivista ufficiale dell’Istituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliarie (IsAG) di Roma. Si tratta di un’associazione di promozione sociale, senza fine di lucro, nata nel 2010. La redazione di GEOPOLITICA è composta dai ricercatori associati all’IsAG. Direttore è Tiberio Graziani, condirettore Daniele Scalea. Garante della qualità della rivista è un Comitato Scientifico di rilievo internazionale.

Los casos de Alan Gross y de los Cinco Cubanos

February 5th, 2012 by Salim Lamrani

Salim Lamrani & Wayne S. Smith*

Center for International Policy

Es posible un cambio en las relaciones entre La Habana y Washington. Estados Unidos levantó todas las restricciones relativas a los viajes de los cubanos-estadounidenses a la isla y las remesas destinadas a las familias. Al mismo tiempo, el gobierno cubano favorece el establecimiento de pequeñas empresas privadas. Esta realidad abre el camino al fortalecimiento de los vínculos entre ambas comunidades, y más precisamente –como subrayó un observador- a «un flujo de capital de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba».

No obstante, por un lado el caso de Alan Gross, arrestado el 3 de diciembre de 2009, y por otro lado el de los Cinco Cubanos, representan un obstáculo mayor a la mejora de las relaciones.


¿Quién es Alan Gross?

Alan Gross es un ciudadano estadounidense de Potomac, Maryland, de confesión judía, de 61 años, que trabaja para el gobierno de Estados Unidos. Es un empleado de la Development Alternative, Inc (DAI), subcontratista de la Agencia Estadounidense para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID), la cual a su vez depende del Departamento de Estado. En diciembre de 2009, cuando Gross estaba a punto de salir de Cuba con una simple visa turística –en lo que constituía entonces su quinto viaje del año– los servicios de seguridad lo detuvieron en el aeropuerto internacional de La Habana. Una investigación había permitido establecer vínculos estrechos entre él y la oposición interna al gobierno cubano, a la cual distribuía computadoras portátiles y teléfonos satelitales, en el marco de un programa del Departamento de Estado de «promoción de la democracia en Cuba». [1]

Experto en tecnología de comunicación de larga distancia, Gross dispone de una gran experiencia en este campo. Ha trabajado en más de cincuenta naciones y ha elaborado sistemas satelitales de comunicación durante las intervenciones militares estadounidenses en Irak y Afganistán para eludir los canales controlados por las autoridades locales. [2]

La posesión de un teléfono satelital está rigurosamente prohibida en Cuba por razones de seguridad nacional. Por otra parte, el sector de las telecomunicaciones es un monopolio del Estado en Cuba y está prohibida cualquier competencia. [3]

¿Ayuda a la comunidad judía de Cuba?

El Departamento de Estado estadounidense, que exige la liberación del detenido, afirma que «Gross trabaja para el desarrollo internacional y viajó a Cuba para ayudar a los miembros de la comunidad judía de La Habana a conectarse con otras comunidades judías del mundo». Según Washington, las actividades de Gross eran legales y no han violado la legislación cubana. [4]

En octubre de 2010, con ocasión de la reunión anual de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, Arturo Valenzuela, secretario de Estado asistente para los Asuntos Interamericanos, se entrevistó con Bruno Rodríguez, ministro cubano de Relaciones Exteriores, a propósito de Gross. Se trataba entonces del más importante encuentro diplomático entre representantes de ambas naciones desde el inicio de la era Obama.[5]

La familia de Alan Gross también aseguró que sus frecuentes viajes a la isla se destinaban a permitir que la comunidad judía de La Habana pudiera conseguir acceso Internet para poder comunicarse con los judíos del mundo entero. [6] Su abogado, Peter J Kahn, ratificó esas palabras: «Su labor en Cuba no tenía nada que ver con la política, sino que simplemente se proponía ayudar a mejorar la vida de los miembros de la pequeña, pacífica y no disidente comunidad judía en ese país».[7]

Seguramente Gross tenía contactos con algunos miembros de la comunidad judía en Cuba, aunque la propia comunidad judía de La Habana contradice la versión oficial de Estados Unidos y de la familia de Gross. En efecto, la comunidad afirma que no conoce a Alan Gross y que nunca se ha reunido con él a pesar de sus cinco estancias en Cuba en 2009. Adela Dworin, presidenta del Templo Beth Shalom, rechazó las afirmaciones de Washington: «Es lamentable […].Lo más triste es que se haya querido involucrar a la comunidad judía de Cuba, que es totalmente ajena».

Por su parte Mayra Levy, portavoz del Centro Hebraico Sefardí, aseguró que ignoraba quién era Gross y que éste jamás se había presentado a su institución. La Agencia estadounidense Associated Press señala por su parte que los «líderes de la comunidad judía de Cuba negaron que el contratista estadounidense Alan Gross […] hubiera colaborado con ellos». [8] Del mismo modo, la Agencia Telegráfica Judía precisa que «los principales grupos judíos de Cuba han desmentido cualquier contacto con Alan Gross y cualquier conocimiento de su programa». [9]

El reverendo Odén Marichal, secretario del Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba (CIC), que agrupa las instituciones religiosas cristianas así como a la comunidad judía de Cuba, ha ratificado esta posición durante una reunión con Peter Brennan, coordinador de los Asuntos Cubanos en el Departamento de Estado. Con ocasión de la Asamblea general de las Iglesias de Cristo de Estados Unidos en Washington, en noviembre de 2010, el líder religioso refutó las alegaciones de Gross. «Lo que sí dejamos bien claro es que la comunidad hebrea de Cuba, que es miembro del Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba, nos dijo: ‘Nosotros jamás tuvimos relación con ese señor, jamás nos trajo equipo de ninguna clase. Negaron cualquier relación con Alan Gross’». [10]

En efecto, la pequeña comunidad judía cubana, lejos de estar aislada, está perfectamente integrada en la sociedad y mantiene las mejores relaciones con las autoridades políticas de la isla. Fidel Castro, aunque se muestra sumamente crítico con respecto a la política israelí en los territorios ocupados, declaró al periodista estadounidense Jeffrey Goldberg que «nadie ha[bía] sido tan difamado como los judíos» en la historia. «Fueron rechazados de su tierra, perseguidos y maltratados en todo el mundo. Los judíos tuvieron una existencia mucho más dura que la nuestra. No hay nada que pueda compararse con el Holocausto», añadió. [11]

El presidente cubano Raúl Castro participó en la ceremonia religiosa de Hanuka –Fiesta de las Luces– en la sinagoga Shalom de La Habana en diciembre de 2010, la cual se transmitió en directo por la televisión cubana y fue primera plana del diario Granma. Aprovechó la ocasión para saludar a «a comunidad hebrea de Cuba y la fabulosa historia del pueblo hebreo».[12]

Por otra parte, la comunidad judía cubana dispone de todas las facilidades tecnológicas necesarias para comunicarse con el resto del mundo, gracias a la ayuda que proporcionan otras entidades judías internacionales como el Benai Brith and the Cuban Jewish Relief Project, el Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), la World ORT, el Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) o el United Jewish Committee (UJC), con el acuerdo de las autoridades cubanas. [13]

Arturo López-Levy, secretario de Bnai Brith en la Comunidad Judía Cubana entre 1999 y 2001 y actualmente profesor de la Universidad de Denver, también se muestra escéptico a propósito de la versión estadounidense sobre el caso Gross. Al respecto, afirma lo siguiente:

Gross no fue arrestado porque sea judío ni por sus supuestas actividades de ayuda tecnológica a la comunidad judía cubana, que ya disponía de un laboratorio informático, de correos electrónicos y de acceso a Internet antes de su llegada a La Habana.

[Los judíos de Cuba] no se reúnen en una sinagoga para conspirar con la oposición política pues ello pondría en peligro la cooperación con el gobierno que es necesaria para las actividades como el programa de emigración a Israel, el proyecto de Derecho de Nacimiento, mediante el cual jóvenes judíos cubanos viajan a Israel cada año, o para tratar de la ayuda humanitaria. Para proteger lo más importante, se apartan todo lo posible de los programas de injerencia política estadounidenses en los asuntos internos cubanos.

«Gross viajó a Cuba no para trabajar con alguna organización judía sino para la USAID».[14]

Por su parte Wayne S. Smith, embajador estadounidense en Cuba entre 1979 y 1982 y director del Programa «Cuba» del Centro de Política Internacional de Washington, señala que «Gross, en otras palabras, estaba implicado en un programa cuyas intenciones son claramente hostiles a Cuba ya que el objetivo es nada menos que el cambio de régimen». [15]

Actividades ilegales según las autoridades cubanas

Por parte de las autoridades cubanas, la versión oficial no ha convencido y Gross es sospechoso de actividades de espionaje y de subversión interna. [16] Ricardo Alarcón, presidente del Parlamento cubano, afirmó que el ciudadano estadounidense había violado la legislación del país. «Él violó leyes cubanas, la soberanía nacional, cometió delitos que en Estados Unidos son muy, muy castigados». [17]

En efecto, el empleado de la USAID proporcionaba equipos tecnológicos altamente sofisticados. La distribución y el uso de teléfonos satelitales están reglamentados en Cuba y está prohibido importarlos sin autorización. Por otra parte, el Artículo 11 de la Ley 88 cubana estipula que «El que, para la realización de los hechos previstos en esta Ley, directamente o mediante tercero, reciba, distribuya o participe en la distribución de medios financieros, materiales o de otra índole, procedentes del Gobierno de Estados Unidos de América, sus agencias, dependencias, representantes, funcionarios o de entidades privadas, incurre en sanción de privación de libertad de tres a ocho años».[18]

Este rigor no es específico de la legislación cubana. En efecto, la ley estadounidense prevé sanciones similares para este tipo de delitos. La Ley de Registro de Agentes Extranjeros (Foreign Agents Registration Act) sanciona a todo agente no registrado por las autoridades que «en Estados Unidos solicita, recolecta, proporciona o gasta contribuciones, préstamos, dinero u otro objeto de valor en su propio interés», con una pena de cinco años de prisión y una multa de 10.000 dólares.[19]

La legislación francesa también sanciona este tipo de actuación. Según el Artículo 411-8 del Código Penal, «el hecho de ejercer, por cuenta de una potencia extranjera, de una empresa u organización extranjera o bajo control extranjero o de sus agentes, una actividad con el objetivo de conseguir o proporcionar dispositivos, informaciones, procedimientos, objetos, documentos, datos informatizados o ficheros cuya explotación, divulgación o reunión tengan la naturaleza de atentar contra los intereses fundamentales de la nación se castiga con diez años de cárcel y 150.000 euros de multa». [20]

El 4 de febrero de 2011, el fiscal de la República de Cuba acusó formalmente a Alan Gross de «actos contra la integridad y la independencia de la nación», y pidió una pena de veinte años de cárcel. El 12 de marzo de 2011, Gross recibió finalmente la sentencia de quince años de prisión tras su juicio. [21] El abogado defensor, Peter J. Kahn, lamentó que su cliente estuviera «atrapado en el medio de una larga disputa política entre Cuba y Estados Unidos».[22]

El New York Times recuerda que Gross «fue arrestado en diciembre pasado durante un viaje a Cuba en el marco de un programa semiclandestino de la USAID, servicio de ayuda extranjera del Departamento de Estado destinado a socavar al gobierno de Cuba». El diario neoyorquino subraya también que «las autoridades estadounidenses han reconocido que el señor Gross entró en Cuba sin visa en regla, y han declarado que distribuía teléfonos satelitales a disidentes religiosos». [23]

Desde 1992 y la adopción de la ley Torricelli, Estados Unidos admite abiertamente que su objetivo con respecto a Cuba es un «cambio de régimen» y uno de los pilares de esta política consiste en organizar, financiar y equipar a una oposición interna. [24]

La USAID, encargada de la administración de este plan, admite que financia a la oposición cubana en el marco de este programa. Según la Agencia, para el año fiscal 2009, la suma de la ayuda destinada a los disidentes cubanos se elevó a 15,62 millones de dólares. En total, desde 1996, se han dedicado 140 millones  de dólares al programa destinado a derrocar al gobierno cubano. «La gran mayoría de esta suma se destina a individuos que se encuentran en Cuba. Nuestro objetivo es maximizar la suma del apoyo del cual se benefician los cubanos en la isla». [25]

La organización gubernamental enfatiza también el siguiente punto: «Hemos formado a centenares de periodistas en un periodo de diez años cuya labor ha aparecido en grandes medios de comunicación internacionales». Formados y estipendiados por Estados Unidos, responden ante todo a los intereses de Washington, cuyo objetivo es un «cambio de régimen» en la isla. [26]

Desde un punto de vista jurídico, esta realidad ubica de hecho a los disidentes que aceptan los emolumentos ofrecidos por la USAID en una situación de agentes al servicio de una potencia extranjera, lo que constituye una grave violación del código penal en Cuba. La Agencia es consciente de esta realidad y se limita a recordar que «nadie está obligado a aceptar o formar parte de los programas del gobierno de Estados Unidos». [27]

Judy Gross, la esposa de Alan Gross, fue autorizada a visitarlo en prisión por primera vez en julio de 2010. [28] Aprovechó la ocasión para transmitir un correo al presidente cubano Raúl Castro. Expresó su arrepentimiento y pidió disculpas por los actos de su marido. «Reconozco hoy que el gobierno cubano no aprecia el tipo de trabajo que Alan hacía en Cuba. Su intención nunca ha sido dañar a su gobierno».[29]

Judy Gross acusa al Departamento de Estado de no haber explicado a su esposo que sus actividades eran ilegales en Cuba. «Si Alan hubiera sabido que algo le pasaría en Cuba, no habría hecho eso. Pienso que no lo han informado claramente de los riesgos». [30]

¿Una salida de la crisis ?


Obviamente Groos violó la ley. No hay dudas al respecto. Por otra parte no parece que haya ocasionado un verdadero perjuicio y su encarcelamiento no beneficia en nada a Cuba. En cambio su liberación podría mejorar sensiblemente las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos, sobre todo si Gross pidiese disculpas por sus actos.

El asunto Gross-USAID parece vinculado a la suerte de los cinco agentes cubanos condenados a severas penas de prisión en Estados Unidos y encarcelados desde 2008. Igual que Estados Unidos, que señaló que no ocurrirá ningún cambio sustancial mientras no se solucione el caso de Gross, las autoridades cubanas también parecen renuentes a cualquier acercamiento mientras los Cinco Cubanos permanezcan en prisión. Después de una serie de atentados con bombas contra los centros turísticos de La Habana, el gobierno cubano envió a los cinco agentes para que se infiltraran en los grupos terroristas anticastristas de Florida y recogieran información sobre sus planes. La idea era entregar después dicha información al FBI para que pudiera neutralizar a los grupos terroristas. En junio de 1998 tuvo lugar en La Habana un encuentro de varios días entre representantes del FBI y las autoridades cubanas. Se entregaron casi 42 informes al FBI. Entonces las autoridades cubanas esperaban que Estados Unidos actuara contra los terroristas, pero no ocurrió nada de eso. Poco después el FBI arrestó a los cinco agentes cubanos, es decir, encarcelaron a los que proporcionaron las pruebas en vez de a los terroristas. Los Cinco Cubanos fueron «juzgados» y declarados culpables. El juicio fue un escándalo. La fiscalía no tenía pruebas, por esa razón acusó a los Cinco de «conspiración» para cometer actos ilegales (cargo que no requiere pruebas, basta con convencer al jurado). Además los juzgaron en Miami, donde el sentimiento anticastrista está tan exacerbado (véase el caso de Elián González) que resultaba imposible reunir un jurado imparcial. Los abogados de la defensa solicitaron una deslocalización del juicio pero, contra toda previsión, se la denegaron.

El caso de Gerardo Hernández, acusado de «conspiración» de asesinato –en relación con la destrucción por el ejército cubano de dos aviones de la organización anticastrista «Hermanos al Rescate» en febrero de 1996- y condenado a dos cadenas perpetuas más 15 años, es sin lugar a dudas el peor de todos. El hecho de que no se pudiera presentar ninguna prueba que demostrara su implicación no fue importante para el jurado. Gerardo sigue tras las rejas, a veces en aislamiento, y después de tantos años todavía no le han autorizado a ver a su mujer ni una sola vez.

Esta injusticia contradice la fama de Estados Unidos de estar al servicio de la ley. Hay que encontrar una solución. El mantenimiento en prisión de esas personas después de tantos años, sin ninguna prueba que las incrimine salvo el hecho de ser agentes sin registrar de una potencia extranjera, es digno de la Guerra Fría (una práctica injustificable incluso en aquella época). Ahora, después de más de dos décadas del final de la Guerra Fría, mientras aparece una oportunidad sin precedentes de instaurar una nueva relación entre Cuba y Estados Unidos, esta detención es moralmente injustificable y singularmente contraproducente. Ya es hora de emprender un proceso de revisión de todos esos casos y permitir a esas personas que se reúnan con sus familias. Uno de ellos, René González, ya fue liberado tras cumplir su pena. Todavía tiene que cumplir una condena de tres años de libertad condicional. Por increíble que parezca, no le han autorizado el regreso a Cuba para encontrarse con su esposa, a la que no ve desde hace más de una década. Permitirle regresar a Cuba debería ser la primera decisión a tomar en este proceso de reconciliación. Si Estados Unidos decide actuar con respecto a los Cinco Cubanos, naturalmente Cuba también deberá liberar a Alan Gross para que se reúna con su familia.

Conviene señalar que el propio Alan Gross sugirió una iniciativa de ese tipo, «Cuando se enteró del reciente intercambio de Gilad Shalit (el soldado israelí) por más de 1.000 palestinos encarcelados (Gross) expresó su idea de que Estados Unidos y cuba podían hacer lo mismo con respeto a él y los Cinco Cubanos», explicó el rabino David Shnever que había visitado a Gross en La Habana. [31]


[1] Jeff Franks, «Scenarios-U.S. Contractor Jailed in Cuba Still in Limbo», Reuters, 24 de octubre de 2010.

[2] Phillip J. Crowley, «Statement on Anniversary of Alan Gross’ Incarceration in Cuba», U.S. Department of State, 3 de diciembre de 2010; Saul Landau, «The Alan Gross Case», Counterpunch, 30 de julio de 2010. (sitio consultado el 18 de febrero de 2011).

[3] Ibid.


[4] Phillip J. Crowley, «Statement on Anniversary of Alan Gross’ Incarceration in Cuba», op. cit.


[5] Paul Haven, «U.S., Cuban Diplos Met About Jailed U.S. Man», The Associated Press, 18 de octubre de 2010.

[6] Anthony Broadle, «Exclusive: American Held in Cuba Expresses Regret to Raul Castro», Reuters, 24 de octubre de 2010.

[7] Juan O. Tamayo, «Pedirán 20 años de cárcel para Gross», El Nuevo Herald, 5 de febrero de 2011.

[8] Andrea Rodríguez, «Judíos niegan haber colaborado con Alan Gross», The Associated Press, 2 de diciembre de 2010.

[9] Jewish Telegraphic Agency, «Cuba to Seek 20- Year Prison Term for Alan Gross», 6 de febrero de 2011.

[10] Andrea Rodríguez, «EEUU pide Iglesias de Cuba interesarse por contratista preso», The Associated Press, 2 de diciembre de 2010.

[11] Jeffrey Goldberg, «Castro: ‘No One Has Been Slandered More Than the Jews’», The Atlantic, 7 de diciembre de 2010. (sitio consultado el 18 de febrero de 2011).

[12] The Associated Press, «Raúl Castro Celebrates Hanukkah With Cuban Jews»; Juan O. Tamayo, «Raul Castro asiste a fiesta de Janucá en sinagoga de La Habana », El Nuevo Herald, 6 de diciembre de 2010.

[13] Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba, «Quienes ayudan». (sitio consultado el 18 de febrero de 2011).

[14] Arturo López-Levy, «Freeing Alan Gross: First Do No Harm», Agosto de 2010. (sitio consultado el 18 de febrero de 2011).

[15] Wayne S. Smith, «The Gross Case and the Inanity of U.S. Policy», Center for International Policy, marzo de 2011. (sitio consultado el 18 de febrero de 2011).

[16] Paul Haven, «U.S. Officials Ask Cuba to Release Jailed American», The Associated Press, 19 de febrero de 2010.

[17] Andrea Rodríguez, «Contratista de EEUU violó soberanía de Cuba, dice alto dirigente», The Associated Press, 11 de diciembre de 2010.

[18] Ley de protección de la independencia nacional y la economía de Cuba (LEY N˚. 88), Artículo 11.

[19] U.S. Code, Title 22, Chapter 11, Subchapter II, § 611, iii <<Definitions>>, § 618, a, 1 <<Violations; false statements and willful omissions>>.

[20] Code Pénal, Partie législative, Livre, Titre Ier, Chapitre I, Section 3, Article 411-8.

[21] William Booth, «Cuba Seeks 20 Year Jail term for Detained American», The Associated Press, 4 de febrero de 2011.

[22] Paul Haven «Cuba Seeks 20-Year Jail term for Detained American», The Associated Press, 4 de febrero de 2011.

[23] Ginger Thompson, «Wife of American Held in Cuba Pleads for His Release and Apologizes to Castro», The New York Times, 24 de octubre de 2010.

[24] Cuban Democracy Act, Titre XVII, Article 1705, 1992.

[25] Along the Malecon, «Exclusive: Q & A with USAID», 25 de octubre de 2010. (sitio consultado el 26 de octubre de 2010); Tracey Eaton, «U.S. government aid to Cuba is the spotlight as contractor Alan Gross marks one year in a Cuban prison», El Nuevo Herald, 3 de diciembre de 2010.

[26] Ibid.


[27] Ibid.


[28] Jessica Gresko, «U.S. Man Jailed in Cuba Can Call Home More Often», The Associated Press, 26 de octubre de 2010.

[29] Anthony Boadle, «Exclusive: American Held in Cuba Expresses Regret to Raul Castro», op. cit.; Jeff Frank, «Factbox: Jailed U.S. Contractor, Sour U.S.-Cuba Relations», Reuters, 24 de octubre de 2010.

[30]Anthony Boadle, «Exclusive: American Held in Cuba Expresses Regret to Raul Castro », op. cit., EFE, «EEUU no negocia liberación de Alan Gross», 8 de febrero de 2011.

[31] Agence France Presse, «Contratista de EE UU en Cuba sugiere intercambio de espías», 8 de noviembre de 2011.

Salim Lamrani : Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor encargado de cursos en la Universidad Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV y en la Universidad Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Etat de siège. Les sanctions économiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba, París, Ediciones Estrella, 2011, con un prólogo de Wayne S. Smith y un prefacio de Paul Estrade. Contacto: [email protected]


Wayne S. Smith :Diplomático de profesión, Doctor de la Universidad de George Washington, Wayne S ; Smith es profesor en la Universidad Johns Hopkins de Washington y Director del Proyecto Cuba del Centro de Política Internacional. De 1979 a 1982, fue jefe de la Sección de Intereses de Estados Unidos en Cuba. Es autor de varios libros sobre Cuba entre los cuales se encuentra The Closest of Enemies (New York: W. W. Norton, 1987).


En inglés:

La Primera Solución: Trabajar por la Paz.

February 5th, 2012 by Nora Fernández

Por todos lados nos golpean situaciones graves, guerras, crisis ecológica, financiera, económica. Para la gente en general el problema central es el subempleo y la falta de empleo –en todas partes el endeudamiento es alto y preocupa la incapacidad de pagar, ya sea básicos diarios o hipotecas. Pero es la gente en zonas ocupadas o en guerra, la que enfrenta los desafíos más serios. El asunto allí es sobrevivir –bombardeados y ocupados, o bajo gobiernos impuestos por los invasores, nadie atiende al bien común. La situación mundial es compleja y agota. ¿Quién puede culparnos de tratar de escapar a o de no querernos enterar de lo que pasa? Es tentador huir de la realidad cuando la complejidad nos deja aparentemente sin soluciones. Pero la solución está implícita: hay que terminar con estas guerras imperiales y trabajar por la Paz.

La globalización se nos ha impuesto sin pedirla. Muchos que quizás pensamos en el valor de alentar un proyecto global de liberación, uno que contribuyera a la humanización favoreciendo los derechos humanos y económicos de todos,  despertamos de un golpe a la hipnótica emergencia de la globalización corporativa. Trabajar en pos de derechos humanos y económicos desafía la opresión reinante y favorece a la gente en todas partes. Pero el proyecto global que se nos vino encima no es el de los pueblos, ni requiere ni respeta consulta popular alguna, se impone desde arriba y con picana, aguijoneándonos como si fuéramos vacas…Se cumple así la dorada ambición de los más ricos ya no de manejar los estados desde atrás de las bambalinas sino de directamente ocupar las estructuras políticas para integrar a los estados del mundo bajo un mando único. Se trata de una dictadura global y la Casa Central parece estará en donde la Banca quiera.

El problema de los pueblos, la satisfacción de necesidades básicas –de alimentación, vivienda, salud, educación, no es el problema que este proyecto viene a atender. La dictadura global se preocupa de consolidar el poder de los más ricos e implementar su obsesión fundamental de controlar el crecimiento de la población. Este miedo, un miedo viejo y quizás “natural” para una minoría tan absoluta como esta -muchos menos que el 1 por ciento de la población, pasa a dominar la agenda. La exterminación, natural (dejarlos morirse de hambre, ser presa de infecciones prevenibles o curables, no atender necesidades sanitarias básicas) o artificial (transformarlos en daños colaterales de la Guerra) de poblaciones “menos valiosas” se vuelve la meta no publicitada de este proceso globalizador.   

Un periodista canadiense que generalmente leo, Murphy Dobbin, usa una frase explicatoria de lo que hoy sucede en el “mundo rico” y dice: “the chickens are coming home to roost” –o sea ha llegado la hora de que el Primer Mundo sufra lo que hasta ahora ha venido sufriendo el Tercer Mundo. Es un mensaje que el Primer Mundo se niega a escuchar: “a nosotros no”  -tenemos otros recursos, educación y hasta tradición democrática. Olvidan que “quien a hierro mata, a hierro muere,” un poco la traducción no literal de la expresión que Dobbin usa. Esos prejuicios de que a nosotros no puede pasarnos esto bloquean la visión de la gente en el Primer Mundo, no ven lo que es muy obvio. Esos prejuicios, además, se unen a otros prejuicios como el de de que la Banca es “justa” y vuelven todo lo que sabemos sobre sus confabulaciones y robos es “teorías de conspiración.”  Es tan grande el mito de la “Banca justa y conocedora” en el Primer Mundo, que cuando cursaba cursos en la Universidad de Alberta, recuerdo que una instructora, que no era otra que la jefa de nuestro departamento, durante un momento informal en una de sus clases compartió que la economía canadiense funcionaría mejor si dejaran eso en manos de los bancos, que al fin saben de economía mucho más que nadie. Creyendo que su comentario era una broma, me reí con muchas ganas, pero ella no estaba bromeando, esa era su perspectiva y ella era una investigadora seria canadiense y su foco era la realidad de las familias rurales. 

Para los más ricos, cada vez más centrados en las altas esferas financieras y en la Banca, la guerra mata varios pájaros de un tiro: es un negocio enorme de por sí, y un medio medianamente efectivo de apropiación de los recursos de otros, además elimina poblaciones percibidas como redundantes y/o problemáticas para esa élite, encima se puede transformar en un método  “ejemplarizante” efectivo para otras poblaciones problemáticas y además puede re-establecer el control afuera de un imperio económicamente debilitado, quebrado incluso, y la fe adentro de ese imperio de sus ciudadanos que ya sufren directamente los efectos de la debilidad económica en casa.

Guerras imperiales: negocio, distancia y muerte…

La guerra es atroz. Las guerras que vivimos son imperiales y evitables. Deberían de estar prohibidas y bastaría con que la comunidad de naciones detuviera, en vez de promoviera o afianzara a los agresores. Estos buscan constantemente, y a hasta ahora encuentran, la forma de encaminarnos por esa senda que lleva al asalto de un país debilitado y a la degradación general no sólo del atacado sino de todos nosotros. El asalto, que puede usar muchas excusas, es generalmente un asalto para la apropiación de los recursos del otro, pero además favorece el negocio de la guerra y promueve la imagen del matón que se impone sobre toda lógica. La guerra es una experiencia destructiva y traumática, una que marcan a los sobrevivientes de por vida.

En la guerra, atacantes y atacados sufren, aunque no sufren igual, siempre sufren ambos, incluso aunque no siempre lo saben. Y sufrimos también los que ni participamos de ella, porque nos deshumanizamos al presenciar o recibir su herencia, es un descenso general de la humanidad. El ciclo de destrucción de cualquier guerra no termina simplemente con la firma de acuerdos de paz, o con la desocupación por parte de las fuerzas invasoras, la sociedad golpeada desciende entera al infierno y a veces se queda simplemente allí. Y nosotros con ellos, aunque pensemos estar a salvo, porque lo que “por allí anda, por aquí llega,” más tarde o más temprano.

Que el mundo está en guerra es obvio para mí y sin embargo, cuando hablo semanalmente con mi madre ella, inocente total, me dice siempre que debemos agradecer no sufrir una guerra. Quizás porque ella no entiende claramente lo conectado que todos estamos. Hoy, la guerra es una realidad para millones de habitantes del planeta, pero los medios hablan poco y muy sesgadamente de ellas y se focalizan en algunos conflictos convenientes, enfocándolos siempre desde una perspectiva occidental y blanca.

Las intervenciones de occidente, como la invasión de Libia, presentadas como “acciones humanitarias” o actos en defensa propia transmiten una perspectiva favorable al agresor, pero no debemos engañarnos, sospechamos que las razones de todos estos asaltos son totalmente otras, por eso no estamos libres del pecado que en nuestro nombre se comete diariamente. Entre nosotros, occidentales, se ha hecho común que los ataques a otros usen el cuento de que nos estamos defendiendo ya no de un ataque dado sino de la “posibilidad” de uno. Nos gusta demasiado ser siempre los “buenos de la película” y culpar a los otros de nuestras acciones de muy mala fe. Ellos son los “malos” porque nosotros buenos como somos no podemos imaginarnos haciendo ninguna maldad. Pero si nos detenemos un poco nos podemos más que reconocer que los agresores usan la mentira de la autodefensa para golpear duro al otro sin tomar responsabilidad por su agresión.  

Detrás de la guerra, o delante quizás, están las armas. Nadie ha invertido en armas tanto como occidente, y hemos dedicado bastante esfuerzo a la creación de sofisticadas formas de matar, y de torturar también. En 1934 el “eje del mal” de productores de armas era totalmente europeo: Krupp en Alemania, Schneider en Francia y Vickers en Inglaterra. Hoy Estados Unidos va a la cabeza. En lo que va del 2012 ha exportado 8641 millones de dólares, segunda está la Unión Europea con 6950 (incluyendo a Alemania, Francia, Reino Unido, Italia, España y Suecia) y luego está Rusia con 6039 millones de dólares, bastante lejos está China con 1423 millones de dólares y luego Israel con 627 millones de dólares. 

Los equipos de guerra son bien caros, el costo de un F22 raptor es de 133 millones de dólares y el de un B2 bombardero de 2.200 millones de dólares. El desarrollo de tecnologías de armas es costoso: el costo de desarrollo y producción del F35 para la población de los Estados Unidos se estima en 382 000 millones de dólares. Es un monto suficientemente grande como para cubrir los gastos de educación de los Estados Unidos por los próximos cinco años. Con inversiones de tal magnitud como puede sorprendernos ese afán por guerrear, la guerra se ha tornado un modo de vida, y no sólo para los militares, también para los civiles que trabajan en la industria. Si prestamos atención a quienes son los principales vendedores de armas notamos que el mercado de ventas de armas de los Estados Unidos ha venido aumentando desde, en  el 2006, cuando vendía casi un tercio de las armas del mundo, al 2010 cuando el monto había aumentado hasta ser el 52.7 por ciento del total -más de 40 000 millones de dólares. El 2011 la suma alcanzó los 46 000 millones de dólares. La guerra se transforma en una plataforma de exposición, digamos que una especie de pasarela de modas del armamento mundial, el que no tiene armas efectivas las desea porque el precio de no tenerlas es muy caro. Es obvio que nadie ataca a los mejores armados. La venta de armas continúa y recientemente el presidente Obama anunció que venderá armas a Iraq por un valor de 11 mil millones de dólares y aviones a Arabia Saudita por 30 mil millones más. 

El mundo se sigue armando. Una de esas terribles guerras de las que escuchamos poco ha sido la Guerra de la República Democrática del Congo (RDC). Esto aunque se estima que han muerto en ella casi 5 millones de personas desde 1998, y algunos hablan de incluso más. Ha sido el conflicto más letal desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Ahora, convencionalmente la Guerra de la RDC ha terminado, pero eso no quiere decir que la muerte se haya retirado a descansar. El ejército ha llevado adelante ejecuciones y ha arrasado poblados enteros en tiempos de “paz.” La RDC, asediada por malas condiciones sanitarias y peor nutrición y sufriendo desplazamientos poblacionales, sucumbe ante enfermedades tratables. Para el 2006 morían 1250 congoleses por día; el corazón de África, dicen algunos poéticamente, ha sido quebrado.   

La conexión entre la guerra brutal y los fabricantes de armas clara. Entre 1950 y 1989 los Estados Unidos le vendió a África armas y entrenamiento por 1500 millones de dólares; y, entre 1991 y 1998 el monto fue de 227 millones de dólares. Al mismo tiempo le continuó cortando la asistencia para el desarrollo. Armada y pobre África se ha vuelto un polvorín. Los países africanos receptores entre 1950 y 1989 de esas armas y entrenamientos norteamericanos, Liberia, Somalia, Sudán, y Zaire –hoy República Democrática del Congo, son justamente los involucrados en conflictos. Estados Unidos ha ayudado a construir los arsenales y a entrenar las fuerzas militares de ocho de los nueve países envueltos en la Guerra del Congo. Le vendió armas al dictador Mobutu (armas y entrenamiento por 400 millones de dólares) y este las usó contra la población para postergar la caída de su régimen y cuando Mobutu cayó, la Administración Clinton le ofreció armas y entrenamiento a Laurent Kabila, el jefe al mando de las fuerzas que en el 97 voltearon a Mobutu.  

Como la guerra es cruel y la venta de armas no es un negocio como para pavonearse se silencian muchas cosas, o se distorsiona la verdad.  El presidente Obama pretende que no hace la guerra, dice Ford (Black Agenda Report), él habla de acciones humanitarias para la paz pero no es diferente de Clinton o de Bush: “El primer presidente negro es totalmente compatible con la vieja escuela imperialista de Europa, ahora renacida y rejuvenecida a través de la OTAN como los amos, sin desafiantes, de África.”  El reinado europeo-americano vuelve a Libia, argumenta Ford, pero no gracias a la guerra sino a una “intervención humanitaria.” 

Tampoco todas las guerras son definidas como tal, reciben el título de  “guerras” solamente aquellas por las que occidente paga un precio. Ford lo explica así: “…el robo sin piedad y la despoblación de las Américas y de África fueron vendidas como Cristianización o misión “civilizadora” –pero no como guerras. El medio milenio del gran estado de sitio a Norte América, durante el cual el 95 por ciento de la población aborigen muere, fue un proyecto de “asentamiento” para “domar” al continente – no una serie de guerras de ocupación y aniquilación.” Sólo unos pocos encuentros armados con los colonizadores blancos, explica, son definidos como “guerra:” –las Guerras Seminolas y las de los Indios de las Praderas- y esto, dice, porque los blancos perdieron algunas batallas y sufrieron algunos muertos y heridos. “Son las muertes de los blancos las que santificaron las guerras como tales.” 

Igual que para Teddy Roosevelt, explica Ford, para Obama si no mueren europeos no hay guerra. “La muerte de millones de pueblos aborígenes fue una ocurrencia natural, una extinción “inevitable” por el contacto con la “superior raza blanca” decía Roosevelt (quien también recibió un Premio Nobel de la Paz).” La guerra es entendida como una actividad entre “iguales” -europeos o americanos, por lo que es guerra sólo si afecta a los blancos.  “Cuando los europeos pelearon uno con otro sobre los despojos de África y Asia –o sea, sobre el derecho de seguir ocupando y expropiando la tierra, y explotando y asesinando a los nativos del Mundo No-Blanco a su antojo, esas si fueron consideradas guerras. Pero, cuando los nativos murieron por millones –posiblemente diez millones en el Congo bajo el reinado belga del Rey Leopoldo- era por su propia falla por no asimilarse a las demandas de la “civilización,” no era guerra.”  

La guerra es un negocio jugoso, oportunidad de quedarse con recursos y construir imperio. Tiempo después de la invasión a Iraq, en mayo del 2003, Paul Wolfowitz declaraba en Singapur que en realidad “la diferencia entre Corea del Norte e Irak es que, económicamente, en Irak no teníamos alternativa. El país nada en un mar de petróleo.”  Y más tarde Alan Greenspan, ex presidente del Banco Central de los Estados Unidos o Reserva Federal, aseguraba en su libro de memorias que el verdadero motivo para invadir Iraq era la captura del petróleo y no las razones expresadas públicamente respecto a las supuestas armas de destrucción masiva que tuviera, o a la liberación del pueblo iraquí de la dictadura de Saddam Hussein y el establecimiento de una democracia. 

Las guerras son una actividad imperialista rentable porque es  difícil perder cuando uno le vende a los dos lados, y, de paso, no sólo se debilitan ambos contrincantes mientras obtenemos pingües ganancias sino que además es posible quedarnos con los recursos de los dos.  Las armas son, además, crecientemente destructivas y unilaterales. Por lo que cuando occidente las usa corre pocos riesgos: es bastante seguro para quien dispara hacerlo desde Arizona y con aviones sin piloto que destruyen infraestructura y gente al otro lado del planeta.  Implementada de esta forma la guerra puede verse casi como un juego para el agresor, uno no tan diferente de los que nuestros propios hijos juegan en sus computadores –preparación, quizás,  para la aceptación de las crecientemente guerras robóticas del futuro. El costo de terminar con uno, o varios seres humanos, no se hace demasiado evidente para quien dispara de lejos, lo que contribuye a deshumanizar al otro y a la propia deshumanización. Para el país agresor hay además maneras de limitar complicaciones en casa, por eso cuando se requieren acciones en terreno y costosas en hombres se usan mercenarios –gentes sin derecho a patalear porque van voluntariamente y reciben buena paga. Los romanos tampoco querían dejar Roma para ir a guerrear y en los finales del imperio hasta sus generales eran bárbaros germanos. Además se “ablanda” al contrario antes de ir a terreno bombardeándolo desde cielo y tierra, particularmente de noche cuando la gente duerme lo que crea substantivos “daños colaterales” (civiles muertos) que contribuyen a “desestabilizar” al contrario, todo pretendiendo que el asalto es “quirúrgico” (vale recordar aquellas mortecinas luces verdes sobre Iraq).

A lo que el precio de la guerra para los agresores disminuye se hace crecientemente dificultoso crear frentes por la paz en casa del o los agresores, cuesta que florezca un movimiento anti-guerra porque no llegan a casa ni heridos ni afectados en masa desde el frente. Pero los costos para los agredidos son enormes. Cuesta mucho crear un nivel de consciencia pública, esta puede emerger años después de que el mal está hecho. Por ejemplo, recién ahora estamos entendiendo más masivamente los resultados que sobre la población civil ha tenido la invasión a Iraq -la destrucción reinante, la miseria, el nivel de mortalidad, el número creciente de abortos, malformaciones, leucemia y cáncer.  

Con una prensa domesticada, o directamente en manos de quienes se benefician de la guerra, el internet se ha vuelto quizás un medio donde encontrar información alternativa en favor del trabajo por la paz. La guerra no es, en general, promovida directamente sino que se usa un discurso centrado en la necesidad de “protegernos” de los ataques de los otros y en el miedo a supuestos ataques. Esto aunque el agresor fundamental resida en casa.  En esto hay elementos comunes entre los intrigantes promotores de guerras y quienes usan violencia en casa contra mujeres y niños. El agresor impone o trata de imponer el aislamiento de sus víctimas, para que los argumentos que usa en controlar su casa no sean quebrados por el cuestionamiento de otros. Es fundamental cuestionar los mitos creados sobre esos “otros” que los agresores definen como el “enemigo” y mostrarlos y verlos como lo que son, gentes que como nosotros quieren vivir en paz, y trabajan en pos de proveer las necesidades básicas de sus familias.  Debemos analizar y cuestionar el papel y la ideología de occidente. Dejarnos de dividir el mundo entre buenos y malos y entender que de ambos todos tenemos un poco. Focalizarnos en la creación y mantenimiento de la paz. El mundo hierve y nosotros con él, se nos ha impuesto la maldad y la locura. Podemos aún dar vuelta la globalización y transformarla en globalización para la gente, a favor del respeto de los derechos humanos y económicos de nosotros, los habitantes del planeta. Es tiempo de unirnos para exigir la paz, y el fin de los negocios de la guerra y la producción de armamentos crecientemente dañinos y eficaces en exterminarnos. 

Global Research Weekend Review: War, Social Justice and the Global Economic Crisis

Selected Articles

Empowerment Now Means Peace for the Future
- 2012-02-07


The Noose is Tightened Around Iran
“Israel could strike Iran this spring”, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated in an interview
- by Ilya Kharlamov – 2012-02-05


Lawsuit against Cheney, Rumsfeld: Going after Powerful People Who Think they’re Above the Law is “Frivolous”
Sanctions in Gallop 9/11 lawsuit send a message: seek justice at your own risk
- by Craig McKee – 2012-02-05


Romancing the Drone…
Military renaming and rebranding
- 2012-02-05


On Black History Month
- by Devon DB – 2012-02-05


The Globalization of War: The “Military Roadmap” to World War III
- by Michel Chossudovsky, Finian Cunningham – 2012-02-05

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

TARGETTING IRAN: The Dogs of War are off the Leash
Israel to the US: ‘We’ll Give You the War, You Give Us the Cannon Fodder”
- by Tom Burghardt – 2012-02-05


Employment report masks depth of US jobs crisis
- by Barry Grey – 2012-02-05


Israel threatens war against Iran within months
- by Peter Symonds – 2012-02-05


VIDEO: Protesters Slam War Threats Against Iran
Find out what’s happening on GRTV
- 2012-02-05


“Iran Will Not Start a War”, but Will Defend Itself
Panetta: “A strong possibility” that Israel will launch a military strike against Iran in April
- 2012-02-05


INTERNET FREEDOM: Europe Rises Up Against ACTA
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-02-05


The Morgellons’ Disease Coverup
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls Morgellons’ Nanoworms….
- by Rady Ananda – 2012-02-05


Magnitude 5 Earthquake Strikes Near Iran’s Bushehr Nuke Plant
- 2012-02-05


Nuclear Power Plants and the Dangers of Radiation in North America
Reader’s Comment
- by Hugh Fairney – 2012-02-05


Home Foreclosures and Shadow Banking: Why All the “Robo-signing”?
Why the AGs Must Not Settle: Robo-signing Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
- by Ellen Brown – 2012-02-05


Lies and Double Standards: Crimes against Humanity: Syria or the US?
Russia and China Veto Syria Resolution
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-02-05


CIA Claims Release of its History of the Bay of Pigs Debacle Would “Confuse the Public.”
- by Nate Jones – 2012-02-05


IRAN WAR: U.S. Leak on Israeli Attack Weakened a Warning to Netanyahu
- by Gareth Porter – 2012-02-05


Bradley Manning: 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination
- 2012-02-05


RUSSIA CHINA DOUBLE VETO: Veto of UN draft aims at political solution to Syrian crisis
- by Yu Zhixiao – 2012-02-05


The March to War against Syria: The Long Shadow of the 2006 Israeli War on Lebanon
- by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2012-02-05

The current events in Syria fall into the shadow of the 2006 Israeli attacks on Lebanon, which had regime change in Damascus as a key objective.

NATO War Games in the Mediterranean
- by Global Research – 2012-02-04


Armed Groups Inside Syria: Prelude to a US-NATO Intervention?
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-02-04


BREAKING: Russia Points to “Armed Groups” in Syria, Vetoes UN Security Council Draft Resolution
- 2012-02-04


NATO Versus Syria: NATO Clandestinely Engaged in Syrian Conflict
CIA Analysts Skeptical Regarding March to War
- by Philip Giraldi – 2012-02-04


- 2012-02-04


Russia, China Veto UN Resolution on Syria: Moscow to Send Top Foreign Policy and Intelligence Officials to Damascus
- 2012-02-04


BREAKING NEWS: Text of proposed UN Security Council Resolution on Syria, to be Vetoed by Russia and China
- 2012-02-04


SPREAD THE WORD: In 79 Cities: NO War! NO Sanctions! NO Intervention! NO Assassinations against IRAN
- 2012-02-04


Sovereign Debt and “Triple A Ratings”: The People’s AAA : Audit, Action and Abolition of Neoliberal Economic Policies
- by Damien Millet, Eric Toussaint – 2012-02-04


UN Security Council Showdown on Syria
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-02-04


The Euro Zone and the Crisis of Sovereign Debt
- by Bob Chapman – 2012-02-04


“Responsibility to Kill” (R2K): Washington Gives Green Light to Toxic Terror in Bahrain
- by Finian Cunningham – 2012-02-04


Iraq War Crimes: Haditha: Another Small Massacre – No One Guilty
- by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2012-02-04


In The “Real Non-Propaganda World”, Does Iran Constitute a Nuclear Menace?.
- by William Blum – 2012-02-03


SYRIA: Arab League Suspends Observer Mission for Revealing Media Disinformation
- 2012-02-03


Anti-war groups to hit the streets
- by John Catalinotto – 2012-02-03


SUPERPOWER: Behind the Scenes of America’s National Security Apparatus
A not-to-be-missed feature documentary
- 2012-02-03


VIDEO: SYRIA: Armed Opposition Groups Supported by “Foreign Powers”
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-02-03


BREAKING: Stalemate at the UN: Moscow Says NO to a “Humanitarian War” on Syria
- by Global Research – 2012-02-03


SYRIA: Fabricating a Pretext to Launch a US-NATO Sponsored “Humanitarian War”
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-02-03


TOWARDS THE MILITARIZATION OF THE SOUTH ATLANTIC? The Falkland Islands in Britain’s Imperialist Claws
- by Dr. Ismail Salami – 2012-02-03


SYRIA: New Flawed UN Security Council Resolution: Evidence of Terrorist “Armed Entity”
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-02-03


U.S.-Israeli-NATO Attack On Iran: Threat To International Stability
- by Ilya Kharlamov – 2012-02-03


U.S. Preparing Military Action Against Iran
- by Gen. Gennady Yevstafyev – 2012-02-03


Proposal to Remove All Tactical Nuclear Weapons from European Combat Bases
- by Global Zero Commission – 2012-02-03


Week in Review: Death of U.S. Economy, Media Lies and “Cops Without Borders”
- 2012-02-02


“Hydrauliic Fracturing”: Poland Gives Green Light to Massive Fracking Efforts
- by John C.K. Daly – 2012-02-02


HUMAN VOCATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE: Contributing to Society, Realizing Oneself as a Human Being
Part V
- by Prof. John McMurtry – 2012-02-02


VIDEO: Syria. The Lies of the UN Security Council are Revealed
New interview now on GRTV
- by Michel Chossudovsky, Maria Portnaya – 2012-02-02


VIDEO: Syria Resolution Part of Proxy War Against Iran
Learn more about the situation on GRTV
- by Neil Clark – 2012-02-02


DANGEROUS CROSSROADS: Will the U.S. Bomb Iran From Georgia?
- 2012-02-02


The Real Economic Picture: “There is No Recovery”
- by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-02-02


Palestinian protesters in Gaza throw shoes at UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon
- 2012-02-02


BUILDING A POLITICAL CONSENSUS FOR WAR: Former US Policymakers Promote War on Iran
- by Stephen Lendman – 2012-02-02


Shortages of rare minerals: China’s strategic control over terbium, yttrium, dysprosium, europium and neodymium
- by John Vidal – 2012-02-02


US, Britain, France Prepare for War in the Persian Gulf
- 2012-02-02


WHEN WAR BECOMES PEACE: Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Win Leads to Formal Investigation of Award
- 2012-02-02


THREATENING RUSSIA: NATO Missile Shield Command Post To Be Deployed To Germany
- 2012-02-02


Diet Drinks: America’s Passion for Poison
- by Charles Foerster – 2012-02-01

The voices of medical doctors and research scientists who are aware of the health impacts of artificial sweeteners…

The Noose is Tightened Around Iran

February 5th, 2012 by Ilya Kharlamov

The US [says it] is against the strike and believes that the current sanctions are more than sufficient.

However, these statements are at odds with the growing US and NATO presence in the Persian Gulf. Their troops and military hardware have already been moved to bases in Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

The campaign could also affect innocent bystanders like China, which is the biggest consumer of Iranian oil. Thus, Beijing is actively calling for a resumption of a dialogue on Iran’s nuclear program. Russia also strongly opposes violence.
Israel could strike Iran this spring, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated in an interview with The Washington Post. According to the official, the Israeli government seems to have already made a decision on this.

Panetta believes that Israel can strike Iran after the latter crosses into the so-called “zone of immunity” and starts building a nuclear bomb.

Earlier, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated that his country would consider launching a military operation if the sanctions fail to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program.

The US [says it] is against the strike and believes that the current sanctions are more than sufficient.

However, these statements are at odds with the growing US and NATO presence in the Persian Gulf. Their troops and military hardware have already been moved to bases in Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

Recently, a senior US official stated that Washington and Tel Aviv shared the same stance on the Iranian threat. The US could justify its potential campaign against Iran by claiming that Tehran’s nuclear capacity is obviously on the increase.

In this case, the US and Israel would be the only ones to assess Iran’s nuclear potential while at the same time preparing their troops for a special operation.

The notorious IAEA report has shown that the US and Israel don’t need to show any proof of the existence of nuclear weapons in Iran. Mere suspicions would be enough to claim that Iran poses a danger for the whole world.

An Israeli strike on Iran would do more harm than good, believes political analyst Georgy Mirsky:

“This is unlikely to happen this year. Israel realizes that its strike wouldn’t guarantee a destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Even if it strikes Iran on its own, the Islamic world will be certain that the US was behind it. This will drastically change the situation in Afghanistan and  shatter Obama’s plans to improve ties with the Muslim world.”

Such statements are aimed at undermining Tehran’s regime, believes expert in Oriental studies Sergey Demidenko:

“This is a long-term strategy. Neither the US nor Israel is placing stakes on a military scenario. Israel is incapable of even halting the Iranian nuclear program as one needs vast military and financial resources to do this. Iran in its turn is so far incapable of producing nuclear weapons or even nuclear fuel.”

However, Tehran perceives this threat as a real one. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned the West against attacking the country and stated that Iran “would harm America ten times more than Iran.” He also pledged to support Israel’s foes, thus this campaign could hit Israel and spread tension to the entire region.

The campaign could also affect innocent bystanders like China, which is the biggest consumer of Iranian oil. Thus, Beijing is actively calling for a resumption of a dialogue on Iran’s nuclear program. Russia also strongly opposes violence. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is planning to discuss the issue with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 48th Munich Security Conference scheduled for February 4.

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The message is loud and clear. Go after justice for 9/11 in the courts, and not only will you lose, you’ll be punished.

That’s what April Gallop and her lawyer, William Veale, found out as their lawsuit against former vice-president Dick Cheney, former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard Myers concluded with a final slap in the face. This came in the form of a $15,000 fine levied against Veale for filing a “frivolous” appeal (the appeal had already been turned down in April of last year).

The decision was handed down by a three-judge panel headed by Justice John M. Walker, who just happens to be George W. Bush’s cousin – proving that the American justice system has a twisted sense of humour at times.

In March 2010, a lower court threw the original case out, stating that it was based on “cynical delusion and fantasy.”

Gallop, a former U.S. Army executive administrative assistant and her then two-month-old son were injured in the Pentagon event on 9/11 when an explosion in her office brought the ceiling down on them. Gallop’s desk was in the Pentagon’s E Ring, the outermost of the building’s five rings. Her desk was reported to be just 40 feet from where Flight 77 is supposed to have hit the building shortly after 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 11.

Gallop reports she carried her child to safety through the hole in the building where the plane was supposed to have entered. She says she saw no evidence of a plane having hit: no wreckage, no bodies, no jet fuel, nothing. She says she thought her computer had triggered the explosion, reporting that there were “flames coming out of the computers.”

Gallop’s original suit pointed to the fact that no alarm was ever sounded at the Pentagon even though it appeared that Cheney and others were tracking a plane’s progress towards the Pentagon. She has stated that there were frequent alarm drills in the Pentagon in the days leading up to 9/11 but none on that day.

The case laid out by Veale addressed the 9/11 official story and why the evidence points to it being false. It dealt with events at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and in Shanksville, Penn. The complaint pointed to a number of areas where the defendants clearly lied about where they were on the morning of 9/11 and what they were doing. It also looked at the evidence that neither Flight 77 nor any other 757 hit the Pentagon:

“One of those possibilities is that there was a plane substituted for Flight 77, possibly while flying over West Virginia, that was fitted and painted to look like Flight 77, which plane actually flew over the building while some other plane or missile exploded into the building on a slightly different flight path.  There is the further possibility that no flying object hit the building at all, that the damage there was done by pre-placed explosives.   Parts of an aircraft found in the rubble could have been planted in the building before the attacks so they could be found afterward.  It will take an honest investigation and subpoena power to learn the truth.”

I guess lawyers and their clients will think twice before using the courts to go after very powerful people who think they’re above the law – that’s because it appears they ARE above the law.

But why should the court system be any different from all the other corrupted institutions in the country? Law enforcement won’t do its job, the media won’t do theirs, the politicians are bought and paid for, and much of the population is looking the other way while it all happens.

It seems that with every new attack on civil liberties and Constitutional freedoms in America, the enemies of truth get bolder. The corporate media continue steering the public away from what’s really being done to them and to their country with the deft use of fear and distraction.

Fortunately, there is a determined minority that continues to fight for truth. But it’s up against a population that is complacent and obedient and a powerful elite that feels invincible. It’s up to the sincere members of the 9/11 Truth movement to find a way to prove that they aren’t.

Romancing the Drone…

February 5th, 2012 by Global Research


Pretty in Pink: public to be reassured by painted drones?

Anyone with even a passing interest in the military soon discovers the peculiar phenomenon of ‘military speak’, in which a spade can never quite be called a spade. 

Bombs and bullets are called ’ordnance consumables’, a missile strike or bombing raid is known as a ‘kinetic event’, and despite its offensive purpose, the industry and its business must always be described as ‘defence’.  Military speak is essentially about maintaining a psychological distance between the day-to-day sanitized business of planning, preparing (and profiting) from armed conflicts and the awful brutal reality of warfare.   

The same coyness over language applies of course to drones.  Over the past few years I‘ve lost count of the number of times I been told not to call drones ‘drones’.  The current preferred term in the military is ‘Remotely Piloted Air System’ (RPAS) after they rejected ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’ (UAV) as being ‘off message’ (“such a generic term can be unhelpful, particularly when working with an uninformed audience” said the MoD last year). 

The term ‘drone’, though widely used and understood by the public and media alike, is snubbed both by the military and those wanting to get a civil drone industry of the ground.  Not only is it seen as too dull a name for such a ‘sophisticated piece of kit’ but its association with death and destruction is of course problematic.

This week the Guardian revealed that the Unmanned Aerial Systems Association, a UK lobby group, is planning a public relations offensive to counter the negative image of drones.  This website (Drone Wars UK) was cited by the lobby group as part of the problem to be overcome.   They recommend  that drones deployed in the UK “be decorated with humanitarian-related advertisements, and be painted bright colours to distance them from those used in warzones”  As the Guardian reports:

“John Moreland, the general secretary of UAVSA, said the industry was uncomfortable with the word “drones” and wanted to find new terminology. “If they’re brightly coloured, and people know why they’re there, it makes them a lot more comfortable,” he said.

The idea that the public could be persuaded to accept drones by painting them bright colours has rightly been mocked across the blogosphere.

A more serious strategy in the attempt to rebrand drones is for advocates to play up their potential to be used by green or human rights groups. Last week the New York Times carried a think piece arguing that drones should be used to monitor human rights abuses. Like many drones themselves however, the idea has come crashing down to earth after being comprehensively rubbished by human rights advocates (see the excellent post from Laurenist and also from Mark Kersten).  Even one noted supporter of drones, @drunkenpredator,  ridiculed the idea on twitter.

Drones do not have a negative image because of the work of Drones Wars UK, but because of the awful impact that they have in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, and because of the serious concern that remote warfare will mean more warfare. 

The public will not be reassured by any renaming or rebranding exercise.  What is needed is for the legitimate concerns about drones in warfare and their impact on civil liberties to be taken seriously.

On Black History Month

February 5th, 2012 by Devon DB

The month of February has been set aside to celebrate the struggles and achievements of African-Americans in the form of Black History Month. While I, as an African-American, take pride in this month, there are some issues that need to be bought up such as the problem many have with their even being a Black History Month.

There are those who argue that Black History Month should be abolished on the grounds that  black history is a part of American history. I will not tread around the fact that many such people happen to be white. However, it  may also be due to the fact that many whites dislike being lumped into a category of evil, being lumped with racists, slaveowners, and segregationists. However, what such people do not understand is that BHM is not an attempt to demonized whites, but rather to acknowledge and understand the experience of a marginalized group of people whose oppression continues to this day. 

I acknowledge that black history is a part of American history. Yet at the exact same time, I think that if we are going to abolish Black History Month, then we need to readily incorporate the accomplishments of black America into the overall historical narrative. The knowledge of black history also needs to be expanded to other events, figures, and movements rather than just learning the same basic things about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Not that those things are bad.) We need to remember that Black History Month is: 

not a subgenre of history. Nor does it stand apart from other histories. It makes no more or less sense than American history, Jewish history or Tudor history. Nor is it any more or less diverse – black historians don’t agree on everything just because they’re black. Partial, interconnected, necessary, it is simply the world’s history told either about or through the prism of a particular group of people.

We need to realize that the teaching of what occurred to all oppressed peoples (such as Native Americans, blacks, and Jews) is important to learn about and those also need to be much more incorporated into the history books. It could make students more open to different narratives of history and increase their analytical and thinking skills as they would be more able to examine situations in history and the present day from other people’s perspectives.

To go back to matter of expanding history, a knowledge and awareness of radical and revolutionary movements and figures should be greatly increased in schools. I am tired of the demonization of such groups as the Black Panthers and revolutionary intellectuals such as Malcolm X. These people are regularly ignored. If they are discussed, the focus is only on a certain part of their life, making it seem as they are evil racists, while ignoring the overall life of these groups and individuals.

We need to encourage the learning of radical groups in general such as the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, and the Feminist Revolution as without these we do not have a fuller understanding of our nation and what occurred, but rather more patriotic indoctrination that doesn’t teach people how to critically look at history and our society but rather to blindly support their country.

Overall, we need a fuller view of history that acknowledges the faults and mistakes of other because if we have a history that encourages us to, as WEB DuBois describes it, “not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer” and “forget that George Washington was a slave owner … and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring,” we will end up lying to ourselves about our history and that will make American history meaningless.

TARGETTING IRAN: The Dogs of War are off the Leash

February 5th, 2012 by Tom Burghardt

In meeting rooms in London, Tel Aviv and Washington the dice have been thrown: snake eyes.

Flashback, 1963: When John F. Kennedy decided not to escalate the soon-to-be disastrous Vietnam war and issued National Security Action Memorandum 263 (NSAM 263), he signed his death warrant.

Scarcely six weeks after vowing to pull all American forces out of South Vietnam by 1965, Kennedy was dead, the target of an “executive action” orchestrated by the CIA, a coup d’état on behalf of America’s corporatist masters–the military-industrial cabal of hardline cold warriors who stood to lose billions if Kennedy lived.

That sweet little deal to “win” the war in Southeast Asia cost some two million Vietnamese lives, 58,000 dead Americans and precipitated an economic crisis which dealt a death blow to post-World War II prosperity and launched the United States on its inexorable glide path towards becoming a failed state.

Flash forward to 2012: We have Barack Obama in the White House; a fraudster who promised “hope and change” and instead led his wilfully blind constituents into embracing the third term of a George W. Bush administration.

Comparing Obama with Kennedy one can only conclude: They don’t make bourgeois politicians like they used to!

Following on from a decades-long drive to transform the Gulf into an “American lake” (under provisions of the so-called “Carter Doctrine,” another “peace loving” Democrat), the coming war with Iran is a transparent scheme to ensure U.S. hegemony over the vast petroleum resources of Central Asia and the Middle East–to the detriment of their geopolitical rivals.

U.S. and NATO naval forces on high alert threaten the free flow of oil in the Persian Gulf, the life’s blood of the global capitalist economy.

A war will lead to an oil price spike as Iranian, but perhaps also Saudi and GCC oil is removed in one fell swoop from the market, thereby setting-off a chain reaction that will exacerbate the West’s economic decline–to the benefit of financial jackals waiting in the wings who will gobble up what remains of America and Europe’s publicly-owned assets at fire sale prices in a desperate move to stave off the crisis.

Currently, Iran is ringed with military bases. American, British and Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles keep silent watch. Aircraft carrier battle groups carry out provocative maneuvers. U.S. and Israeli drones routinely overfly Iranian territory. Scientists are murdered in orchestrated terror attacks. Defense installations are bombed.

Economic sanctions, universally recognized as a prelude to war, strangle the Iranian people and their economy, all in the quixotic hope of inducing (coercing) “regime change” in Tehran.

The U.S. media, reprising their role during the run-up to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, are chock-a-block with scare stories that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States.

Indeed, the Shiite regime “may have” given “new freedoms” to Sunni Salafist extremists, including members of the “management council” of the Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets also known as “Al Qaeda” detained in Iran and “may have provided some material aid to the terrorist group,” if an account published last week by The Wall Street Journal can be believed, which of course it can’t.

Meanwhile, the CIA and Mossad recruit, train and then unleash Salafist terrorists such as Jundallah or Saddam Hussein’s former henchmen, the cultic Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) for terror ops, just as they did in Libya when former Al Qaeda “emir,” the MI6 asset Abdelhakim Belhaj was appointed chief of Tripoli’s Revolutionary Military Council.

And what “evidence” did U.S. officials offer for these dastardly Iranian plots to murder us all in our beds? Why the now-discredited FBI fable which had a failed Texas used-car dealer, Manssor Arbabsiar, and a still-unnamed DEA snitch posing as or actually a member of the notorious Zetas narcotrafficking cartel, plotting to murder the Saudi ambassador by blowing up a tony Georgetown restaurant, that’s what!

Former CIA chief Leon Panetta, who replaced Robert Gates, also a former CIA chief, now helms the Defense Department.

Corporate media in Europe and America report that Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, have tried to “cool” the Israeli’s ardor for a preemptive strike and deny that the U.S. is preparing for war.

This too, is a carefully contrived disinformation campaign.

In a syndicated column for The Washington Post, war hawk David Ignatius wrote Thursday that “Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June–before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb.”

According to Ignatius, “the administration appears to favor staying out of the conflict unless Iran hits U.S. assets, which would trigger a strong U.S. response,” and that Washington’s alleged disapproval of an Israeli first strike “might open a breach like the one in 1956, when President Dwight Eisenhower condemned an Israeli-European attack on the Suez Canal.”

Ignatius’ unnamed “senior administration official,” since identified as Panetta, “caution that Tehran shouldn’t misunderstand: The United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israel’s population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel’s defense.”

In other words, should America’s “stationary aircraft carrier in the Middle East” launch a sneak-attack on Iran, hitting their civilian nuclear and defense installations, thereby inflicting “collateral damage,” i.e., the wanton slaughter of innocent Iranian citizens, if Tehran has the temerity to defend itself and strike back, the full military might of the imperialist godfather will be brought to bear.

Inter Press Service reported Wednesday that JCS Chairman Dempsey, “told Israeli leaders Jan. 20 that the United States would not participate in a war against Iran begun by Israel without prior agreement from Washington, according to accounts from well-placed senior military officers.”

According to journalist Gareth Porter, “Dempsey’s warning, conveyed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, represents the strongest move yet by President Barack Obama to deter an Israeli attack and ensure that the United States is not caught up in a regional conflagration with Iran.”

Claiming that “Obama still appears reluctant to break publicly and explicitly with Israel over its threat of military aggression against Iran, even in the absence of evidence Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon,” Porter alleges that “the message carried by Dempsey was the first explicit statement to the Netanyahu government that the United States would not defend Israel if it attacked Iran unilaterally.”

Holding onto the thinnest of reeds, Porter writes that Panetta “had given a clear hint” of the U.S. position “in an interview on ‘Face the Nation’ Jan. 8 that the Obama administration would not help defend Israel in a war against Iran that Israel had initiated.”

When asked by CBS host Bob Schieffer, who pressed the issue of a unilateral Israeli attack, Panetta said, “If the Israelis made that decision, we would have to be prepared to protect our forces in that situation. And that’s what we’d be concerned about.”

What are we to make of these claims?

If their purpose was to force Israel to rethink their attack plans, it clearly isn’t working. If however, Panetta’s remarks were meant to disarm domestic opponents of U.S. war plans, then mission accomplished!

“Speaking at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center’s annual conference,” The Christian Science Monitor reported that “Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak compared the current standoff with Iran to the ‘fateful’ period before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt.”

“The temperature is rising in Israel,” Iran analyst Meir Javedanfar told the Monitor. “He says that if the defense minister sees the current period as similar to the run-up to the [1967] Six-Day War, ‘that gives credibility to those who think Israel is going to launch an attack’.”

In a follow-up piece published Saturday by IPS, Porter now suggests that Panetta’s leak to Ignatius “had a different objective,” namely that the “White House was taking advantage of the current crisis atmosphere over that Israeli threat and even seeking to make it more urgent in order to put pressure on Iran to make diplomatic concessions to the United States and its allies on its nuclear programme in the coming months.”

Indeed, the “Panetta leak makes it less likely that either Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Iranian strategists will take seriously Obama’s effort to keep the United States out of a war initiated by an Israeli attack.”

Moreover, Panetta’s leak to The Washington Post “seriously undercut the message carried to the Israelis by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last month that the United States would not come to Israel’s defence if it launched a unilateral attack on Iran.”

Although there is trepidation amongst military planners in Tel Aviv and Washington should Israeli officials opt for a preemptive attack on Iran–and a retaliatory counterstrike by the Islamic Republic would have devastating effects on both Israel’s civilian population and U.S./NATO military forces in the Persian Gulf and beyond–should such disastrous orders be given, it is a certainty that Washington would follow suit.

This in fact, is what the Israeli leadership is banking on and, contrary to sanctioned leaks to media conduits like Ignatius, is fully in keeping with Washington’s strategy of employing Israel as a cats’ paw to “drag” the United States into a war with Iran.

As the World Socialist Web Site points out, “any differences between the US and Israel are purely tactical.”

“Washington could of course use its considerable influence to veto an attack by Israel, which is heavily dependent on the US, diplomatically, economically and militarily,” leftist critic Peter Symonds writes.

Ignatius’ column however, “makes no mention of this possibility. In effect, the Obama administration appears to be giving Israel a tacit green light for an illegal, unprovoked attack on Iran, and threatening its own military action if Iran retaliates.”

Indeed, the right-wing Israeli publication Debkafile reported Saturday that while Panetta “has been outspoken about a possible Israeli offensive against Iran taking place as of April … no US source is leveling on the far more extensive American, Saudi, British, French and Gulf states’ preparations going forward for an offensive against the Islamic Republic.”

Accordingly, Debkafile’s “military sources” (read high-placed intelligence and military officials favoring an attack) “report a steady flow of many thousands of US troops for some weeks to two strategic islands within reach of Iran, Oman’s Masirah just south of the Strait of Hormuz and Socotra, between Yemen and the Horn of Africa.”

Debkafile also noted that “the Saudis this week wound up their own intensive preparations for war. Large forces are now deployed around Saudi oil fields, pipelines and export facilities in the eastern provinces opposite the Persian Gulf, backed by anti-missile Patriot PAC-3 batteries. American, British and French fighter-bombers have been landing at Saudi air bases to safeguard the capital, Riyadh.”

And with the Pentagon speeding-up arms sales to repressive Gulf monarchies and Saudi royals (with tens of billions in profits flowing into the coffers of American and European death merchants), the stage is now set for a bloody military confrontation.

On the so-called diplomatic front, as “useful idiots” and “accessories before the fact” in the drive towards war, the shameful part played by the International Atomic Energy Agency must be underscored.

Despite, or more likely because Iran’s top leadership have expressed their willingness to reopen stalled talks over their civilian nuclear program and have taken steps to do so, the United States and NATO are stepping-up their propaganda offensive, with the IAEA playing a leading role.

Indeed, The New York Times reported Sunday that “American and European officials said Friday that a mission by international nuclear inspectors to Tehran this week had failed to address their key concerns, indicating that Iran’s leaders believe they can resist pressure to open up the nation’s nuclear program.”

Times’ stenographers Robert F. Worth and David E. Sanger averred that an unnamed “senior American official described the session between the agency and Iranian nuclear officials as ‘foot-dragging at best and a disaster at worst’.”

Why is the onus solely placed on Iranian negotiators?

Because “members of the I.A.E.A. delegation were told that they could not have access to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an academic who is widely believed to be in charge of important elements of the suspected weaponization program, and that they could not visit a military site where the agency’s report suggested key experiments on weapons technology might have been carried out.”

What Worth and Sanger fail to mention in their report is that Iranian officials asserted that before Roshan’s murder he “had talked to IAEA inspectors, a fact which ‘indicates that these UN agencies may have played a role in leaking information on Iran’s nuclear facilities and scientists’,” Russia Today reported at the time.

Protesting the killing before the UN Security Council last month, Iranian deputy UN ambassador Eshagh Al Habib said there was “‘high suspicion’ that, in order to prepare the murder, terrorist circles used intelligence obtained from UN bodies.”

According to the deputy ambassador’s charge, “this included interviews with Iranian nuclear scientists carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the sanction list of the Security Council,” RT disclosed.

Sound far-fetched, the product of Iranian “conspiracy theories”? Better think again!

As former UNSCOM Iraq weapons’ inspector Scott Ritter revealed in his 2005 book, Iraq Confidential, “The issue of uncovering incriminating documentation suddenly took on a higher priority, and the CIA, supported by activist elements within the Department of State, pushed for more direct involvement in the operations of UNSCOM and the IAEA. For the first time, the darkest warriors in the CIA’s covert army, the Operations Planning Cell (OPC), were getting actively involved in preparing intelligence for UNSCOM’s use.”

According to Ritter, “The secret warriors of the CIA were accustomed to plying their trade in the shadows, far away from prying eyes. UNSCOM inspections, however, were carried out in full view of the Iraqi government, representing the antithesis of covert action. The existence of the OPC, as with any CIA affiliation with UNSCOM, was a carefully guarded secret. Officially, therefore, all OPC personnel were presented to UNSCOM as State Department ‘experts’.”

In light of past practices by the CIA, or for that matter the IAEA itself, Iranian fears that their scientists are being set-up for liquidation are fully justified.

Indeed, the “cautious” U.S. Secretary of Defense, former CIA chief Leon Panetta, speaking at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, echoed Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s claim that Israel would need to “consider taking action” should nuclear inspections and sanctions fail.

“My view is that right now the most important thing is to keep the international community unified in keeping that pressure on, to try to convince Iran that they shouldn’t develop a nuclear weapon, that they should join the international family of nations and that they should operate by the rules that we all operate by,” Panetta asserted. “But I have to tell you, if they don’t, we have all options on the table, and we’ll be prepared to respond if we have to.”

One of those “options,” passed by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Friday were demands made to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT.

“The new Senate package,” Reuters reported, “seeks to target foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran’s national oil and tanker companies, and for the first time, extends the reach of Iran-related sanctions to foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies.”

The new legislation would target SWIFT with wide-ranging penalties if they failed to exclude sanctioned Iranian banks from the international system.

The bill now goes to the full Senate “where the likelihood of passage is considered strong,” The New York Times reported.

With the Orwellian title, the “Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act” Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) said that “Iran can end its suppression of its own people, come clean on its nuclear program, suspend enrichment and stop supporting terrorist activities around the globe. Or it can continue to face sustained, intensifying multilateral economic and diplomatic pressure deepening its international isolation.”

Now if only Senator Johnson offered similar demands on America’s Israeli allies who possess upwards of 200 nuclear weapons, refuse to join the international nonproliferation regime and carry out worldwide terrorist attacks with impunity, perhaps then diplomacy would operate on a level playing field!

SWIFT officials were quick to cave to U.S. pressure. “SWIFT fully understands and appreciates the gravity of the situation,” Reuters disclosed.

In its statement, “SWIFT said it is working with officials and central banks to find ‘the right multilateral legal framework’ to ‘expedite’ a response to the issues.”

“This is a complex situation, and SWIFT needs to ensure that it takes into consideration the implications to the functioning of the broader global financial payments system, as well as the continued flow of humanitarian payments to the Iranian people,” the organization said.

Needless to say, a boycott of Iranian financial institutions by SWIFT would be catastrophic to Iran’s economy, a provocation fully intended as a step towards war.

As the World Socialist Web Site noted, “if Israel does attack Iran, it will not simply be ‘a surgical strike’ that destroys Iran’s key nuclear facilities. Any Iranian retaliation will be used by the US as a pretext for a massive air war aimed at destroying the country’s military and infrastructure. As a result, any conflict carries a real danger of becoming a regional war that could embroil the major powers.”

Despite the evident madness of countenancing an Iran attack, political calculations by capitalist elites during a critical election year in the United States, with “conservative” and “liberal” factions angling for advantage by currying favor with the powerful Zionist and U.S. defense lobbies, Israel’s unambiguous message to the White House is: “We’ll give you the war, you give us the cannon fodder.”

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

Employment report masks depth of US jobs crisis

February 5th, 2012 by Barry Grey

President Barack Obama on Friday hailed the Labor Department’s January employment report, calling it “good news.” Speaking in Arlington, Virginia, he declared that the economy is “growing stronger” and “the recovery is speeding up.”

This supposedly “good news” will be used to justify doing nothing to seriously address the jobs crisis and proceed after the November elections with the imposition of unprecedented austerity measures that will further shred social programs for working and poor people.

Obama’s words will be cold comfort to the 12.8 million workers acknowledged by the government as being unemployed, including the 5.5 million out of work for more than six months and the 4 million who have been unemployed for over a year. Adding the 8.2 million people recorded last month as working part-time but wanting full-time employment, and the 2.8 million wanting work but having given up looking, the ranks of the “underemployed” remain at the depression level of 24 million.

Despite this social disaster, administration officials and the bulk of the media are presenting the January report as a major improvement in the jobs situation. The report showed a modest growth in non-farm payrolls of 243,000 jobs, with an upward revision of previous estimates for 2011 of 180,000. The official unemployment rate was reduced from 8.5 percent in December to 8.3 percent, the lowest level since February 2009.

The headline payroll and unemployment rate figures, however, obscure data reflecting the growth of entrenched joblessness and, along with it, poverty and social desperation. The broader official measure of unemployment, which counts involuntary part-time and “marginally attached” workers, was 15.1 percent. This is 6.3 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession in December 2007. (The government claims that the recession ended in June, 2009).

The US labor market began 2012 with fewer jobs than it had 11 years ago in January 2001. There are 5.6 million fewer jobs today than there were at the start of the recession. Adding the more than 5 million jobs needed to account for the normal growth in the working-age population, the jobs deficit comes to 11 million. According to the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute (EPI), at January’s job growth rate it would take until 2019 to return to full employment.

The share of jobless workers who have been unemployed for more than six months actually increased in January over the previous month, from 42.5 percent to 42.9 percent. This compares to an average figure of 17.5 percent in 2007. There are still four unemployed workers for every job opening, and long-term unemployment remains at an historic high level.

A more accurate measure of unemployment than the government’s official figure is the rate of labor force participation—the percentage of people 16 and over working or actively looking for work. In January, this figure fell to 63.7 percent, its lowest point since the current slump began and its low-point since 1983.

The proportion of the population with a job was 58.5 percent in January, down from 62.7 percent in December 2007.

The EPI points out that if the 2.8 million “marginally attached” workers—those wanting a job but discouraged from actively looking for one—were counted by the government as part of the labor force, January’s unemployment rate would be 9.9 percent instead of 8.3 percent.

Moreover, the official figures must be taken with a grain of salt. As the New York Times’ economics writer Floyd Norris pointed out Friday, the Labor Department actually estimated that the economy lost 2,689,000 jobs in January. It arrived at the “seasonally adjusted” estimate of a net payroll gain of 243,000 by factoring in the normal loss of temporary holiday season jobs.

The January jobs report also comes in the midst of devastating layoff announcements. This week, American Airlines submitted a cost-cutting plan to the bankruptcy court calling for the elimination of 13,000 jobs, or 16 percent of its work force, together with the termination of its pension plans and cuts in health benefits for both current and retired workers. Proctor & Gamble announced 1,600 job cuts.

The outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas report Thursday that planned corporate job cuts climbed 28 percent in January to reach more than 53,000.

Then there is the issue of the quality of the new jobs being created. The Labor Department reported that average hourly earnings for private-sector employees rose in January by 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, and increased over the past 12 months by 1.9 percent. The latter figure is well below the 3.0 percent rise in the consumer price index, resulting in a further lowering of workers’ real wages.

The so-called “recovery” in job-creation is directly linked to a ferocious government-backed assault on workers’ wages and benefits. In last week’s State of the Union Address, Obama touted the revival of US auto industry profits and a modest growth of jobs as a model for the entire economy. With characteristic cynicism, he failed to mention that this rebound is due to the 50 percent cut in wages for all newly hired workers imposed on General Motors and Chrysler in 2009 by his Auto Task Force.

In an article Friday, the New York Times pointed to the link between protracted mass unemployment and the decline in the wages and social position of workers, on the one hand, and the surge in corporate profits, on the other. It noted that the latest available data, for the third quarter of 2011, shows workers receiving just 44 cents in wages of every dollar of income earned in the US. This is the smallest share since the government began keeping these figures in 1947.

Corporations, in contrast, received more than 10 cents, up from 7.3 cents per dollar of income five years ago when the recession officially began—an increase of 37 percent.

Israel threatens war against Iran within months

February 5th, 2012 by Peter Symonds

Even as the US and its European allies intensify punitive economic sanctions against Iran, there are growing signs that Israel is threatening military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities in the coming months. While the Obama administration has cautioned Israel against military action at this stage, there is no indication that Washington has vetoed such an attack.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported yesterday that US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta “believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May, or June—before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb.”

Panetta, who had no doubt briefed Ignatius directly or indirectly, refused to comment on the column. But he did not deny the substance of the report. Questioned further, Panetta confirmed: “Israel indicated they’re considering this [a strike], we’ve indicated our concerns.”

Any differences between the US and Israel are purely tactical. While, publicly at least, the US is appealing for more time for sanctions to bite, Israel is pressing for immediate action, on the pretext that Iran’s Fordo uranium enrichment plant is nearing completion and could be “immune” from attack. Both countries have repeatedly declared that “all options are on the table”—that is, including all-out war—unless the Iranian regime bows to their demands.

Ignatius also reported: “The White House hasn’t yet decided precisely how the United States would respond if the Israelis do attack. The administration appears to favour staying out of the conflict unless Iran hits US assets, which would trigger a strong US response.” He also noted that “administration officials” have warned that “if Israel’s population centres were hit [in retaliation by Iran], the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel’s defence.”

Washington could of course use its considerable influence to veto an attack by Israel, which is heavily dependent on the US, diplomatically, economically and militarily. The article makes no mention of this possibility. In effect, the Obama administration appears to be giving Israel a tacit green light for an illegal, unprovoked attack on Iran, and threatening its own military action if Iran retaliates.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak argued again on Thursday that military action had to be taken soon. “The Iranian military nuclear program is slowly but surely reaching the final stages,” he claimed, declaring that if the project entered “the immunity stage” it could be completed “without any effective intervention.” Stressing the urgency, Barak warned: “Those who say ‘later’ may find that later is too late.”

Barak provided no evidence that Iran has a military nuclear program, let alone that it is nearing completion. Tehran has repeatedly denied any plan to build a nuclear weapon. Panetta recently acknowledged that the Iranian regime had taken no decision to build a nuclear bomb.

Israeli moves toward attacking Iran are driven by other considerations, not least of which is to maintain an unchallengeable military superiority in the Middle East. Israel, which has its own sizeable stockpile of nuclear weapons, is determined to prevent Iran or any other country from having even the potential to build a nuclear device.

Moreover, as Ignatius pointed out, “Israeli leaders are said to accept, and even welcome, the prospect of going it alone, and demonstrating their resolve when their security is undermined by the Arab Spring.” Sections of the ruling elite want to plunge the region into conflict, in order to demonstrate Israeli military might and derail the growing movement of working people for democratic rights and social equality, including in Israel itself.

The Obama administration has broader aims to secure its hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East and regards the Iranian regime as the chief obstacle to American ambitions. Since the beginning of the year, the US has been steadily increasing the pressure on Iran through harsh new sanctions, a naval build up in the Persian Gulf and the targeting of Tehran’s regional allies, especially the Syrian regime of President Bashir al Assad.

A US Senate committee on Thursday approved a new battery of sanctions against Iran, likely to be adopted by Congress. The package is aimed against foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran’s national oil and tanker companies, as well as any companies or individuals involved in the mining or transportation of uranium in Iran. In particular, the legislation would require the US administration to penalise the Belgium-based company Swift, used by many banks to shift funds electronically around the world, if it failed to shut out Iran’s central bank and other financial institutions.

The US confrontation with Iran is being accompanied by what can only be described as an escalating propaganda war to vilify the Iranian regime and create the political climate for war. As in the months leading up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, a compliant American and international media is the vehicle for a deluge of distortions, half truths and outright lies designed to poison public opinion.

Yesterday, for instance, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, “US fears Iran’s links to al Qaeda,” based on claims by unnamed American officials that Tehran was about to release five Al Qaeda leaders detained since 2003. Despite the obvious conflict between the Shiite fundamentalist regime in Tehran and the Sunni extremist Al Qaeda, the article reported as good coin that “some officials and experts worry conditions may be ripe for a more direct partnership.”

Likewise, the “inspection game” has begun. At Tehran’s invitation, UN inspectors visited Iran this week for discussions about its nuclear programs. Instead of taking up the offer to tour existing nuclear facilities, including the Fordo plant, the team demanded access to the Parchin military complex to investigate unsubstantiated nuclear allegations. Not surprisingly, given the US and Israeli threats of war, Tehran refused. The refusal was then highlighted in the American media, along with claims of “secret arms programs.” All of this recalls the never-ending demands for greater access to Iraq’s military bases, presidential palaces and “secret” facilities that preceded the US invasion.

This media campaign contributes directly to the intensifying tensions in the Persian Gulf, heightening the risk of war. If Israel does attack Iran, it will not simply be “a surgical strike” that destroys Iran’s key nuclear facilities. Any Iranian retaliation will be used by the US as a pretext for a massive air war aimed at destroying the country’s military and infrastructure. As a result, any conflict carries a real danger of becoming a regional war that could embroil the major powers.

VIDEO: Protesters Slam War Threats Against Iran

February 5th, 2012 by Global Research

“Iran Will Not Start a War”, but Will Defend Itself

February 5th, 2012 by Global Research

Iran will never start a war, but it will react severely to any threat or attack, said on Sunday a senior military commander on the occasion of the military exercises started here on Saturday.

The commander of ground forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, stressed Sunday that the country’s defense doctrine is based on deterrence and that “Iran will not start a war.”

At the begining of the main phase of military maneuvers of ground forces, also known as Velayat-e Hamiyan (Velayat Supporters), Pakpour stated that under a hypothetical U.S. or Israeli attack “our reaction will be swift.”

U.S. media quoted Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, saying that intelligence sources believe there is “a strong possibility” that Israel launch a military strike against Iran in April, May or June 2012.

The eventual aggression would take place before Tehran enters what Tel Aviv described as “an immunity area” by allegedly beginning to build an atomic bomb.

Pakpour stressed that Iranian troops will act as a deterrent and added that those military exercises meant to show the readiness of the nation to deal with threats.

On the other hand, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized Western powers on Sunday for using their scientific capabilities to dominate other nations, in contrast to Iran’s view of science and technology for human society.

The president delivered his speech at the 25th Kharazmi International Festival in Tehran.

INTERNET FREEDOM: Europe Rises Up Against ACTA

February 5th, 2012 by Washington's Blog

Widespread Protests Are Starting to Turn the Tide Against Anti-Democratic Bill

The widespread protests against the anti-democracy bill ACTA by the Polish people have forced Poland’s prime minister to stall – or perhaps even back out – of the treaty. As TechDirt notes:

Following the growing protests about ACTA in Europe, as well as signs of US meddling, Poland’s prime minister is making it clear that Poland will not ratify ACTA for the time being, leading to speculation that the EU may not actually join ACTA.

Tusk’s backtracking could spell the end of ACTA for the entire European Union. If Poland or any other EU member state, or the European Parliament itself, fails to ratify the document, it becomes null and void across the union. As it stands, there are already five member countries that have not even signed ACTA.

“I share the opinions of those who from the beginning said that consultations were not complete,” Tusk said, according to a report in Wirtualna Polska. The 54-year-old prime minister added that a Polish rejection of ACTA is now on the table, and admitted that he had previously approached the agreement from a “20th century” perspective, due to his age.

The Slovenian ambassador to Japan has apologized to her country and her children for signing ACTA, saying she signed it because her government told her to, and “out of civic carelessness” in not bothering to understand what ACTA meant before signing it.

Bulgarian and Polish MPs wore Guy Fawkes masks to protest ACTA. Again, from TechDirt:

We recently pointed out that a bunch of Polish politicians wore Guy Fawkes/Anonymous masks in Parliament to protest ACTA:

SO53v Europe Rises Up Against ACTA

It appears that some politicians in Bulgaria thought that was a good idea, and have done the same thing:

V22Lv Europe Rises Up Against ACTA

Indeed, even the elderly are wearing Guy Fawkes masks in protest of ACTA:

z6qZu Europe Rises Up Against ACTA

European Parliamentarian Marietje Schaake writes:

As a Member of the European Parliament, I very much welcome the increased attention the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has received in the past weeks. It has taken a while for massive outcry to emerge, but we are seeing protest voices getting louder and louder.

ARS Technica reports that the Greek Ministry of Justice was hacked by anonymous:

The Greek Ministry of Justice had its Web site defaced by Greek and Cypriot Anonymous-affiliated hackers (a mirror of the defaced site is available here). The hackers included a video message (now removed) complaining that the Greek government had abandoned the democratic will of its people and was instead bending to the will of the IMF and the EU.

Greece is expected to accept IMF funds in an effort to allow its government to bring some semblance of sustainability to its finances, but Anonymous believes that this move will “introduce a new dictatorship upon [the Greek] people’s shoulders and allow the bankers and the monarchs of the EU to enslave them both economically and politically.”

The defaced site itself focused on an anti-ACTA message. It warned that Greece had two weeks to “stop ACTA,” and that if it failed to do so, some 300 sites would be defaced. The next targets will include both media and ministry sites, with the hackers announcing that they already had passwords for most sites and that this was “JUST the BEGINING [sic].”

Swedes are out in force protesting ACTA. As The Local reports:

Over 10,000 Swedes had pledged to take part in demonstrations in Stockholm and other cities on Saturday to protest against the ACTA anti-piracy legislation which is set to go before the Riksdag later this year.

The demonstration, held at midday on Sergels Torg in the centre of Stockholm, featured speeches from MEPs Christian Engström of the Pirate Party, Carl Schlyter of the Green Party and Mikael Gustavsson of the Left Party.

Over eleven thousand people had signed up to attend the Stockholm demonstration on Facebook by 10am on Saturday.

Christian Engström told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily that with indications that Poland’s parliament is set to reject the controversial international anti-piracy legislation, the pirate movement had wind in its sails.

“1.4 million signatures have been collected through an online petition and there have been riots in Poland. There now seems to be a commitment among citizens so I feel very hopeful,” he told DN.

By all accounts, the number of ACTA protests in Europe is overwhelming:

7Vj5G Europe Rises Up Against ACTA

But that only tells half of the story.

As Pirate Party found Rick Falvinge reports:

Just look at this map. I’ve never seen anything like it in terms of people all across Europe demanding their freedom of speech and being angry against backroom corporativist deals that steals their most basic civil liberties.


This is not Hollywood versus Silicon Valley, as oldmedia likes to frame it. This is Hollywood versus The People. For decades, they have trained us to think in black and white, in good versus evil fighting for domination of the free world. And now, they’ve gone and put themselves in the role of evil villain.

The copyright cartel thought they were battling Google.

They’re not.

They’re waging war against the people, with the help of the politicians.

And we’re not standing for it. We can’t change the copyright cartel, but we can send a clear message to the politicians that 250 million Europeans sharing and preserving contemporary culture is not a problem. It is a power base of 250 million voters that will kick you out of office if you dare so much as touch the net.

And there are visible cracks in the façade, especially seeing Poland falter and the copyright cartels visibly shaken from the SOPA defeat in the US, with the politicians having started to pay attention to what the Internet wants. We can win this.

Today, Sweden rallies. List of rallies below (via Christian Engström, Member of European Parliament):

  • Stockholm: Sergels Torg, 12 noon. [Facebook]

  • Göteborg: Götaplatsen, 12 noon. [Facebook]

  • Malmö: Stortorget, at the Karl X Gustav statue, 12 noon. [Facebook]

  • Helsingborg: at the Magnus Stenbock statue, 13:00. [Facebook]

  • Umeå : Apberget, 12 noon. [Facebook]

  • Kalmar: Giraffens Köpcentrum, 12 noon. [Facebook]

  • Sundsvall: Torget, 12 noon. [Facebook]

  • Karlstad: Stora Torget, 12 noon. [Facebook]

  • Borlänge: Jussi Björlings torg, 12 noon. [Facebook]

(The observant will note that less than half of these rallies are marked on the already-impressive map of European rallies. Makes me wonder what the map would look like if all rallies were included.)

Most of Europe will rally next Saturday, on February 11. That’s going to be something, too. Let’s give Europe the best of precursor to those rallies from Sweden that they could possibly get!

As of early morning on February 4, 11,000 people have committed to coming to the Stockholm rally, with another 3,500 maybes. Those are numbers that would overfill the Plattan plaza by a wide margin. I’ll be at the rally in Stockholm, Sweden, and will be taking plenty of imagery and will follow up here.

UPDATE AT 1500: ***

anti ACTA stockholm Feb04 621x349 Europe Rises Up Against ACTA

Rally at the Sergels Torg plaza in Stockholm, Sweden. Anna Troberg, leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, speaking (at left) and maybe 1/3 of the crowd.

The turnout was like nothing I’ve seen for a February rally in Sweden. In -20°C, there were well over a thousand people protesting corporate rights over their freedom of speech; normally, you’re lucky getting 50.

Also, there was a very clear recurring theme among the Members of European Parliament speaking, MEPs from three different parties. They all told the story of how software patents had been defeated in Europe, followed by the crucial “amendment 138″ in the Telecoms Package, which aimed to shut people off en masse from the Net. Well, thanks to diligent activists and people on the inside, we managed to get as strong safeguards in place as possible against shutting people off. But the monopoly lobbyists never quit. Now they’re at it again, this time saying that if authorities can’t shut people off en masse due to that “amendment 138″, maybe they can get private corporations – the ISPs – to do it instead through third-party liability forcing certain terms of service and wiretapping. Hence, ACTA.

Fortunately, and this was a consistent message from all Members of European Parliament, we have the blueprint for defeating ACTA. We need to repeat what we did with the software patents and with the Telecoms Package. It takes hard work, it takes tons of activism, but we know exactly what to do and how to do it, and most importantly: we know that we can win.

As the rally concluded, everybody was determined to win this fight, having heard the clear message that it takes work but is perfectly doable.

UPDATE 2: There are more photos from Christian Engström, Member of European Parliament here. Free for any use (CC0 / Public Domain). Here’s one of his photos, showing the protester crowd:

IMG 1790 621x349 Europe Rises Up Against ACTA

The Morgellons’ Disease Coverup

February 5th, 2012 by Rady Ananda

Imagine having the mental prowess to be able to create living filaments heretofore unknown, that can reproduce themselves, some of which come with identifying letters embossed on them, and then to make them extrude from beneath your skin, all against your conscious will. [Image]

Sound like science fiction? It’s not, says the US Centers for Disease Control.

Despite having spent four years and $600,000, and using the world’s largest forensic database, the premier health agency reports it is unable to identify the source of the fibers emanating from those suffering with Morgellons. [1]

The CDC suggests that four out of a hundred thousand people, the rate of infection in Northern California, are imagining these filaments into existence.

Comprising an array of physical and mental symptoms [2], Morgellons is distinguished by novel fibers that protrude from the skin, causing lesions and sores that do not heal, or that heal very slowly. Though clustered in California, Florida and Texas, it is found in every state and around the planet.

“We conducted an investigation of this unexplained dermopathy to characterize the clinical and epidemiologic features and explore potential etiologies,” the paper explains. The only potential etiology suggested was that the patients were delusional:

“No common underlying medical condition or infectious source was identified, similar to more commonly recognized conditions such as delusional infestation.”

The CDC provided more information in its press releases [3] hyping the study than it did in the 300-word study published last week. Its Unexplained Dermopathy webpage goes beyond what was reported in the actual study, saying there is “no evidence of an environmental link,” and promised to do no further studies. [4]

“People who suffer from Morgellons disease are NOT delusional no matter what the CDC or the mainstream press would have you believe,” says Jan Smith of She’s suffered with Morgellons for over 13 years.

The image above is on her home page. “Ponder why a person with Morgellons disease would have tissue coming out of their body with embossed letters on it. This photo is real and the sample has not been altered in any way. It is available for research and DNA testing.” [5]


A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck near the Bushehr nuclear power plant in south Iran, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website on Sunday.

The earthquake struck at 9:40 a.m. local time (06:10 GMT) on Sunday some 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Bushehr, with its epicenter registered at a depth of 10 km.

There were no reports so far of any casualties or damage to the nuclear power plant caused by the quake.

The deadliest quake in Iran was in June 1990, which measured 7.7 points on the Richter scale. About 37,000 people were killed and more than 100,000 injured in the northern provinces of Gilan and Zanjan. The quake devastated 27 towns and about 1,870 villages, according to IRNA news agency.

Bushehr, Iran’s first nuclear power plant, is expected to go online on March 20, 2012.

The plant’s construction began in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high-technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy siege in Tehran.

Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1998 to complete the plant.

I was reading an excellent article entitled, Fukushima: A Nuclear War Without A War,  by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Editor of Global Research, Canada. His concern expressed over the inability of the mainstream political arenas and press to emphasize and prioritize this very urgent issue seems to mirror my own feelings on this issue. Certainly, it appears that both the political policy and mainstream media statements up to now appear to be protecting the nuclear industry in North America.

This issue has been buried in the back pages, when it should be front page news for all to see. It also reminded me of an incident that took place last summer and what I consequently learned, as a result.

Last summer, a dear friend and I were speculating on where we would retire, if we had the financial resources to do so. One of the best retirement centres I read about unfortunately had a problem. It was well known, as a former mining centre for uranium. Because of these uranium mines, we both had concerns about the entire area. So I decided to do some research on the issue of radiation in various forms affecting the health and safety of the North American population.

What I found in various research documents and reports shocked me. I realized that with the assistance of our governments and mainstream media, we have been deliberately kept in an illusory world of their making.

I wasn’t too shocked to find that the retirement community in question and the surrounding area had higher than normal levels of radon gas seeping out of the ground, which I understand that even with the safeguards used can be harmful to the health and safety of those residing there over a long period of time. However, I was very surprised and shocked to find that there are substantially significant areas throughout all of North America that had what were considered by some reports to be unacceptable levels of naturally occurring radon gas seeping out of the ground.  US Map (County Specific) of Radon Zones.  Both US and Canadian Maps

I didn’t know about this. I will lay odds that many others didn’t know either.

I also found that there are scientific reports stating that governments raised the acceptable level or limit of radon gas seeping out of the ground near nuclear facilities of various types, so that the populations could continue to live there. – What are acceptable levels of radon gas?

This really made me shake my head in disbelief that our governments would actually do this to their jurisdictional populations.

Then on top of all this, the disaster at Fukushima occurred. The question of whether or not it was safe around the nuclear plant and elsewhere was blown out of the water so-to-speak from the following announcement purportedly made by Tepco that was picked up by Jiji Press and sent through ENENEWS to each one of us. 

Now I think it is fairly safe to say from all the news announcements that Tepco has been involved in, since the Fukushima Disaster started with the earthquake/tsunami that; their reputation for accurate statements is not high on the list that people note, when thinking about Tepco.

“The total amount of radioactive cesium that leaked from the containment vessels of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors reached 70 million becquerels per hour, up 12 million becquerels from the December level [...]

It seems that radioactive dusts were stirred up because plant workers went inside reactor buildings and removed rubble [...]

Last month, the leaked amount was put at 10 million becquerels each for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors and 40 million becquerels for the No. 3 reactor.”

However, the above statement does ring true to me, based on what has happened since the start of this disaster. Regardless of the excuse given for having higher radiation counts since December 2011 re: radiation leakage from their damaged reactors – take a look at what they admitted too. They have actually admitted to radiation leakage of at least 58,000,000 becquerels (bq)/hr. without even stirring up the rubble creating radioactive dust for example, as Tepco has claimed in the latest readings.

Now I am not in any way an expert; but if somebody tells me that radiation to the overall accumulative level of 58,000,000 bq/hr; is leaking from the various containment vessels of the damaged reactors out into the air; I would have a hard time with anyone saying that what is leaking isn’t dangerous to Japan and possibly, the entire human population. Wouldn’t you think so?

Further, if I then take a look at what appears to be the government sanctioned maps in Professor Michel Chossudovsky’s “Fukushima: A Nuclear War Without A War” article, I really have to shake my head in wonderment. Based on what I have seen so far, they were and are totally incorrect in regards to the spread of radiation throughout all of North America.

Last fall, if I remember correctly, an individual decided to test the waters so-to-speak and travelled across Canada to check on the levels of radiation, which he reported over the Internet. He found higher than normal levels of radiation, to such a significant degree across the entirety of Canada that they should have been noticed by our governments.

Yet how can the governments do so, when even they purportedly don’t know! You see they have deliberately shut off all the radiation sensors in Canada and the U.S. Is it not just amazing how intelligent our political representatives are? Or is it simply that they are deliberately withholding the data from us?

A couple of days ago a person, who, if I remember correctly, lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan; took readings with his Geiger counter and then showed others on the web what he found out. The Geiger counter had a reading of 45 before the rain started. During the rain, the Geiger counter reading went all the way up to 240 – approximately 5 times greater than normal!

What am I saying here? We have finally got an acknowledgement that a highly significant amount of radiation/hour is going up into the air currents that are being taken around the world on the jetstream. We know from reports that there is a high likelihood or possibility of radiation entering the water or ocean on a possibly higher than significant level and being carried by the ocean currents around this world of ours.

Not one of our national governments around the world is insisting on shutting down Tepco, after forcing Tepco to do the right thing. On the other hand, the Russian people exhibited tremendous courage, honour, integrity as well as incurring a tremendous cost in lives and in the sacrifices they made to do the right thing at Chernobyl.

Why aren’t the national governments on a global basis, forcing the Japanese government and TEPCO to do the same? Yet, nothing is being done.

Do I have the right to express my opinion here about this issue? Yes I do. Our various governments around this world of ours; appear to be deliberately withholding information that is vital to the health and safety of every human being on this planet. Somebody had to start the ball rolling. I am thusly, very glad that Professor Michel Chossudovsky along with others mentioned in his article have started the process. It really is about time!

However, what do I know? I am just one of the so-called “great unwashed.” It appears our various governments are more concerned with their own illusory opinions than the opinions of the ordinary soul. So what conclusion can I now reach?

Since the advent of the Fukushima disaster, every single person in this world now lives on an increasingly radiated planet. Perhaps the retirement community my friend and I discarded, as not feasible due to radon levels is now appropriate to consider.

After all, thanks to TEPCO, it doesn’t matter where one now lives. It can easily be said that on a global basis, we are being significantly radiated, wherever we live!!! What a marvellous thought to have to consider and live with!

In the meantime, all I can say is that until this issue affecting the health and safety of everybody on this planet becomes front-page news; we will continue to be conned in our governments’ deliberately created illusory world, while our planet becomes slowly over time, uninhabitable for human life, as it now is.

A foreclosure settlement between five major banks guilty of “robo-signing” and the attorneys general of the 50 states is pending for Monday, February 6th; but it is still not clear if all the AGs will sign.  California was to get over half of the $25 billion in settlement money, and California AG Kamala Harris has withstood pressure to settle. 

That is good.  She and the other AGs should not sign until a thorough investigation has been conducted.  The evidence to date suggests that “robo-signing” was not a mere technical default or sloppy business practice but was part and parcel of a much larger fraud, the fraud that brought down the whole economy in 2008.  It is not just distressed homeowners but the entire economy that has paid the price, resulting in massive unemployment and a shrunken tax base, throwing state and local governments into insolvency and forcing austerity measures and cutbacks in government services across the nation.

The details of the robo-signing scam were spelled out in my last article, here.  The robo-signing fraud and its implications are expanded on below.

Why All the Robo-signing?

Over half the homes in the country are now held in the name of an electronic database called MERS—Mortgage Electronic Registration Services.  MERS is a smokescreen behind which mortgages were sold to trusts that sold them to investors.  The mortgages were chopped into pieces and sold as “mortgage-backed securities” (MBS), which traded in a supposedly liquid market.  That meant the investors could sell them in the money market at any time on a day’s notice.  Yale economist Gary Gorton gives this example:

Suppose the institutional investor is Fidelity, and Fidelity has $500 million in cash that will be used to buy securities, but not right now. Right now Fidelity wants a safe place to earn interest, but such that the money is available in case the opportunity for buying securities arises. Fidelity goes to Bear Stearns and “deposits” the $500 million overnight for interest. What makes this deposit safe? The safety comes from the collateral that Bear Stearns provides. Bear Stearns holds some asset‐backed securities [with] a market value of $500 millions. These bonds are provided to Fidelity as collateral. Fidelity takes physical possession of these bonds. Since the transaction is overnight, Fidelity can get its money back the next morning, or it can agree to “roll” the trade. Fidelity earns, say, 3 percent.

That is where the robo-signing came in.  Foreclosure defense attorneys armed with the tools of discovery have discovered that robo-signing — involving falsified signatures assigning mortgages back to the trusts allegedly owning them — occurred not just occasionally or randomly but in virtually every case.  Why?  Because the mortgages had to be left free to be bought and sold on a daily basis in the money market by investors.  The investors are not interested in making 30 year loans.  They want something short-term with immediate rights of withdrawal like a deposit account. 

The Hazards of Borrowing Short to Lend Long

The problem is that when panicked investors all exercise that right at once, there is no cheap funding available to back the 30 year mortgage loans, rendering the banks insolvent.  And that is what happened on September 15, 2008, when Lehman Brothers, a major investment bank like Bear Stearns, went bankrupt. 

According to Representative Paul Kanjorski, speaking on C-SPAN in January 2009, the collapse of Lehman Brothers precipitated a $550 billion run on the money market funds.  A report by the Joint Economic Committee pointed to the fact that the $62 billion Reserve Primary Fund had “broken the buck” (fallen below a stable $1 per share) due to its Lehman investments.  The massive bank run that followed was the dire news that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson presented to Congress behind closed doors, prompting Congressional approval of Paulson’s $700 billion bank bailout despite deep misgivings.

The sleight of hand that brought the banking system down was that the mortgages backing the money market were supposedly held by trusts that had lent money to homeowners for 15 years or 30 years.  It was the classic “borrowing short to lend long,” a shell game in which banks have engaged for hundreds of years, routinely precipitating bank panics and bank runs when the depositors or the investors all pull their short-term money out at the same time. 

The Shadow Banking System Is Still Unregulated

Periodic bank panics were averted in the conventional banking system only when the government agreed to insure the deposits of individual depositors in 1933.  But FDIC insurance covered only $100,000 (now $250,000), and large institutional investors had far more than that to invest.  The shadow banking system, in which deposits were “insured” with mortgage-backed securities, developed in response.  But the shadow banking system is unregulated and is just as prone to another collapse today as it was in 2008.  The Dodd-Frank banking “reforms” barely touched it.  As noted in an article titled “Risky Debt Use on Repo Market Hits 2008 Levels” in today’s Financial Times:

In the repo market, banks pledge their securities as collateral for short-term loans from money managers and other investors.  The market played a key role in the build-up to the 2008 financial crisis. Banks used toxic assets, such as repackaged subprime loans, to secure trillions of dollars worth of cheap funding. 

When the US housing bubble burst, the banks’ trading partners refused to accept such securities as collateral and the repo market rapidly contracted.

However, a study by Fitch Ratings says the proportion of bundled debt being used as security in repo transactions has returned to pre-crisis levels. 

Using the repackaged loans can increase risk in the repo market, the rating agency says. This is because the securities may be prone to sudden pullbacks such as the one experienced in 2008.

We could be looking at another banking collapse at any time; and to fix the problem, we first need to know what is going on.  The AGs should not agree to drop the curtain on the robo-signing scandal until all the evidence is on the table.  It is not just a matter of punishing the guilty; it is a matter of a banking scheme based on fraud, one that ultimately does not work and has jeopardized the homes, savings and investments of the public not just recently but for hundreds of years. 

The Way Out

There is another way to design a banking system.  The deposits of large institutional investors do not need to be backed by sliced and diced pieces of our homes to be “safe” (something that has proven not to be safe at all).  The large institutional investors seeking safety are largely “us” – the pension funds and mutual funds in which we have stored our savings and on which we rely for support when we can no longer work.  Hundreds of years of history have demonstrated that the only reliable guarantor is the government itself. 

Our pension funds and mutual funds need a government guarantee just as much as our individual deposits do.  But we don’t want to be guaranteeing the gambling and derivatives schemes of too-big-to-fail, for-profit Wall Street banks playing fast and loose with our money.  Banking and credit need to be public utilities, operated for the benefit of the public in plain sight of the public.   

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute,  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back.  Her websites are and

Shortly before 1PM EST, February 4, Reuters headlined, “Russia, China veto UN resolution telling Assad to quit,” saying:

The diplomatic “setback” came the day after “Syrian opposition (elements) accused Assad’s forces of killing hundreds of people (in) Homs, the bloodiest night in the 11 months of upheaval in the pivotal Arab country.”

Like other pro-Western media, Reuters pointed fingers the wrong way. Throughout the conflict, Assad was blamed for Western-backed externally generated violence. In fact, he’s more victim than villain, but don’t expect media scoundrels to explain.

Shortly before the Security Council vote, Obama called the Homs violence “unspeakable,” demanded Assad step down immediately, and urged Security Council action against his “relentless brutality.”

His public statement falsely claimed:

“Yesterday the Syrian government murdered hundreds of Syrian citizens, including women and children, in Homs through shelling and other indiscriminate violence, and Syrian forces continue to prevent hundreds of injured civilians from seeking medical help.”

“Any government that brutalizes and massacres its people does not deserve to govern.”

Since 1991 alone, Obama, Bush I and II, as well as Clinton, murdered millions of Iraqis, Serbians, Kosovars, Afghans, Libyans, Somalis, Yemenis, and many others ruthlessly and maliciously.

Today, Obama supports atrocities in Bahrain, Yemen, Somalia, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, as well as Israel’s decades-long war on Palestine. Major media scoundrels ignore them. Instead, they cheerlead imperial US wars. Power takes precedence over truth and full disclosure.

John Pilger once called journalism the first casualty of war, adding:

“Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship (and deception) that goes unrecognized in the United States, Britain and other democracies; censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries….”

In their book titled, “Guardians of Power,” Davids Edwards and Cromwell explained why today’s media are in crisis, putting free societies at risk. It’s because fiction substitutes for fact. News is carefully filtered, dissent marginalized, and supporting wealth and power replaces full and accurate reporting.

For over a century, The New York Times notoriously served as America’s lead print propaganda instrument. On February 4, it headlined, “Russia and China Block UN Action on Syrian Crisis,” saying:

Hours before the Saturday Security Council vote, “the Syrian military attack the ravaged city of Homs in what opposition leaders described as the bloodiest government assault” so far.

Hours later, “(t)he Security Council voted 13 to 2 in favor of a resolution backing an Arab League peace plan for Syria, but the measure was blocked by Russia and China (as a) potential violation of Syria’s sovereignty.”

In fact, calling for “further measures” if Assad failed to comply gave Washington and rogue partners enormous wiggle room for military intervention. It also largely pointed fingers one way, absolving Western-backed insurgents.

Current Security Council members include the five permanent members plus Azerbajan, Colombia, Germany, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, South Africa and Togo.

On February 4, Russia Today ( reported:

“Russia and China were the only permanent Security Council members opposing the draft, reminding others that it was not their place to intervene in another country’s domestic affairs.”

Under international law, it’s illegal. Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said:

“The co-sponsors of the resolution have not, in the wording of the draft, taken into account that the Syrian opposition must distance itself from extremist groups committing acts of violence or called on states with the ability to use their influence to prevent such acts.”

As a result, “(t)he Russian delegation was forced to vote against this draft resolution. We seriously regret this outcome of our joint work.”

Attending a Munich security conference, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov diplomatically condemned the resolution for making false accusations and “taking sides in a civil war.”

In response, US envoy Susan Rice said she was “disgusted” by vetoes “prop(ping) up desperate dictators.” French ambassador Gerard Araud said “history will judge (Assad supporters) harshly.”

In Munich, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a notorious war goddess, said, “To block this resolution is to bear the responsibility for the horrors on the ground in Syria.”

Throughout his tenure as UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan was a notorious imperial tool. So is Ban Ki-moon. He called vetoing the Security Council resolution “a great disappointment to the people of Syria and the Middle East, and to all supporters of democracy and human rights.”

He said doing so “undermines the role of the United Nations and the international community in this period when the Syrian authorities must hear a unified voice calling for an immediate end to its violence against the Syrian people.”

Ban serves at the behest of Washington. He hasn’t disappointed supporting years of imperial crimes, as well as Israel’s against Palestine. No wonder Gazans pelted him with shoes during his February 2 visit.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) UN director Philippe Bolopion called last October’s vetos by Moscow and Beijing “irresponsible,” but today, “after weeks of Russian diplomatic game-playing and in the middle of a bloodbath in Homs, they are simply incendiary.”

More often than not, HRW speaks for power, not human rights. Amnesty International also falls far short of its founding principles. Urging Russia’s anti-Assad support, it called on Moscow to back Security Council actions against him instead of blaming perpetrators, not victims. It also falsely accused Gaddafi of Western-backed crimes. Libya’s now ravaged. Will Syria be next? Veto power does little to stop it.

A Final Comment

On Press TV Saturday, this writer said Washington prefers diplomatic cover for planned aggression. However, with or without it, imperial wars aren’t deterred. In 1999, it bypassed Security Council approval against Serbia/Kosovo. It claimed NATO authorization alone mattered.

Obama plans regime change in Syria and Iran. As a result, expect a similar scenario to unfold.

Perhaps a false flag incident will precipitate conflict. What Washington wants, it gets, using whatever pretext fits the plan.

With major media support, getting away with murder is simple as bombs away. Expect it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] .

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

When Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius this week that he believes Israel was likely to attack Iran between April and June, it was ostensibly yet another expression of alarm at the Israeli government’s threats of military action.

But even though the administration is undoubtedly concerned about that Israeli threat, the Panetta leak had a different objective. The White House was taking advantage of the current crisis atmosphere over that Israeli threat and even seeking to make it more urgent in order to put pressure on Iran to make diplomatic concessions to the United States and its allies on its nuclear programme in the coming months. 

The real aim of the leak brings into sharper focus a contradiction in the Barack Obama administration’s Iran policy between its effort to reduce the likelihood of being drawn into a war with Iran and its desire to exploit the Israeli threat of war to gain diplomatic leverage on Iran. 

The Panetta leak makes it less likely that either Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Iranian strategists will take seriously Obama’s effort to keep the United States out of a war initiated by an Israeli attack. It seriously undercut the message carried to the Israelis by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last month that the United States would not come to Israel’s defence if it launched a unilateral attack on Iran, as IPS reported Feb. 1. 

A tell-tale indication of Panetta’s real intention was his very specific mention of the period from April through June as the likely time frame for an Israeli attack. Panetta suggested that the reason was that Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak had identified this as the crucial period in which Iran would have entered a so-called “zone of immunity” – the successful movement of some unknown proportion of Iran’s uranium enrichment assets to the highly protected Fordow enrichment plant. 

But Barak had actually said in an interview last November that he “couldn’t predict” whether that point would be reached in “two quarters or three quarters or a year”. 

Why, then, would Panetta deliberately specify the second quarter as the time frame for an Israeli attack? The one explicit connection between the April-June period and the dynamics of the U.S.-Israel- Iran triangle is the expiration of the six-month period delay in the application of the European Union’s apparently harsh sanctions against the Iranian oil sector. 

That six-month delay in the termination of all existing EU oil contracts with Iran was announced by the EU Jan. 23, but it was reported as early as Jan. 14 that the six-month delay had already been adopted informally as a compromise between the three-month delay favoured by Britain, France and Germany and the one-year delay being demanded by other member countries. 

The Obama administration had also delayed its own sanctions on Iranian oil for six months, after having been forced to accept such sanctions by the U.S. Congress, at the urging of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. 

The administration recognised that six-month period before U.S. and EU sanctions take effect as a window for negotiations with Iran aimed at defusing the crisis over its nuclear programme. So it was determined to use that same time frame to put pressure on Iran to accommodate U.S. and European demands. 

By the time the news of the postponement of the U.S.-Israeli military exercise broke on Jan. 15, Panetta was already prepared to take advantage of that development to gain diplomatic leverage on Iran. 

Laura Rozen of Yahoo News reported that U.S. Defence Department officials and former officials, speaking anonymously, said Barak had requested the postponement and that they were “privately concerned” the request “could be one potential warning signal Israel is trying to leave its options open for conducting a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the spring.” 

The Israelis were not on board with that Obama administration tactic. In fact, Netanyahu seemed more interested in portraying the Obama administration as favouring a soft approach on Iran in an election year. 

Instead of reinforcing the effort by Panetta to use the six-month window to bring diplomatic pressure, Defence Minister Barak, speaking on Army Radio Jan. 18, said the government had “no date for making decisions” on a possible attack on Iran and, adding “The whole thing is very far off. . . ” 

Another indication that the Ignatius column was not intended to increase pressure on Israel but to impress Iran is that it did not reinforce the message taken by Gen. Dempsey to Israel last month that the United States would not join any war with Iran that Israel had initiated on its own without consulting with Washington. 

Ignatius wrote that the administration “appears to favor staying out of the conflict unless Iran hits U.S. assets which would trigger a strong U.S. response.” But then he added what was clearly the main point: “Administration officials caution that Tehran shouldn’t misunderstand: the United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israeli population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel’s defense.” 

Ignatius, who is known for reflecting only the views of the top U.S. defence and intelligence officials, was clearly reporting what he had been told by Panetta in Brussels. 

Further underlining the real intention behind Panetta leak, Ignatius went out of his way to present Netanyahu’s assumptions about a war as credible, if not perfectly reasonable, hinting that this was the view he was getting from Panetta. 

The Israelis, he wrote “are said to believe that a military strike could be limited and constrained”. Emphasising the Israeli doubt that Iran would dare to retaliate heavily against Israeli population centres, Ignatius cited “(o)ne Israeli estimate” that a war against Iran would only entail “about 500 civilian casualties”. 

Ignatius chose not to point out that the estimate of less than 500 deaths had been given by Barak last November in response to a statement by former Mossad director Meir Dagan that an attack on Iran would precipitate a “regional war that would endanger the (Israeli) state’s existence”. 

After that Barak claim, Dagan said in an interview with Haaretz newspaper that he assumes that “the level of destruction and paralysis of everyday life, and Israeli death toll would be high.” 

But Ignatius ignored the assessment of the former Mossad director. 

The Panetta leak appears to confirm the fears of analysts following the administration’s Iran strategy closely that its effort to distance the United States from an Israeli attack would be ineffective because of competing interests. 

Reza Marashi, research director at the National Iranian-American Council, who worked in the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs from 2006 to 2010, doubts the administration can avoid being drawn into an Israeli war with Iran without a very public and unequivocal statement that it will not tolerate a unilateral and unprovoked Israeli attack. 

“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And sometimes the only way to ensure that a friend doesn’t endanger you or themselves is to take the away the car keys,” Marashi said. 

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006

Bradley Manning: 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination

February 5th, 2012 by Global Research

February 1 2012 the entire parliamentary group of The Movement of the Icelandic Parliament nominated Private Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize. Following is the reasoning we sent to the committee explaining why we felt compelled to nominate Private Bradley Manning for this important recognition of an individual effort to have an impact for peace in our world.

Our letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee:

We have the great honor of nominating Private First Class Bradley Manning for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. Manning is a soldier in the United States army who stands accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and imperialism by the United States government in international dealings. These revelations have fueled democratic uprising around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S.troops from the occupation in Iraq.

Bradley Manning has been incarcerated for well over a year by the U.S. government without a trial. He spent over ten months of that time period in solitary confinement, conditions which experts worldwide have criticized as torturous. Juan Mendez, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, has repeatedly requested and been denied a private meeting with Manning to assess his conditions.

The documents made public by WikiLeaks should never have been kept from public scrutiny. The revelations – including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq – have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about America’s overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement. Citizens worldwide owe a great debt to the WikiLeaks whistleblower for shedding light on these issues, and so I urge the Committee to award this prestigious prize to accused whistleblower Bradley Manning.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir
Margrét Tryggvadóttir
Þór Saari

Members of the Icelandic Parliament for The Movement

Related Articles on the Nobel Prize

Obama and the Nobel Prize: When War becomes Peace, When the Lie becomes the Truth
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2009-10-11

When fiction becomes truth and truth becomes fiction. When a global military agenda is heralded as a humanitarian endeavor.

Insanity and the Nobel Peace Prize: Obama and the Rule of Law
- by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2009-10-27

BEIJING: Russia and China’s double veto of an Arab-European draft resolution on Syria Saturday was aimed at further seeking a peaceful settlement of the chronic Syrian crisis and preventing possible drastic and risky solutions to it.

It was the second time since last October that Russia and China used a double veto to block a UN Security Council draft on Syria, which they deemed was not the best choice to promote peace in the Middle East country.

The unadopted draft meant to say the UN Security Council “fully supports” the Jan. 22 Arab League plan to ask Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, one of the major stumbling blocks in pre-vote consultations.

With the veto, Russia and China believed more time and patience should be given for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, which would prevent the Syrian people from more turbulence and fatalities.

Hours before the Security Council’s vote on the draft, Russia circulated an amended resolution, which it said “aims to fix two basic problems.” The first was the imposition of conditions on dialogue, and the second was that measures must be taken to influence not only the government but also anti-government armed groups.

“The draft resolution that was put to a vote did not adequately reflect the real state of affairs in Syria and has sent an unbalanced signal to the Syrian parties,” Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said after the vote.

For his part, Li Baodong, the Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, regretted the Russian amendments were ignored.

“China supports the revision proposals raised by Russia,” Li told the council, adding the request for continued consultation on the draft by some council members is reasonable.”

“To push through a vote when parties are still seriously divided over the issue will not help maintain the unity and authority of the Security Council, or help resolve the issue,” he said.

The United Nations put the total death toll in Syria during the months-long unrest at more than 5,400, while the Syrian government said more than 2,000 army and security personnel have been killed.

In order to deter fresh bloodshed and violence, an inclusive political process should be started immediately in Syria, and it is the Syrian people instead of outside forces that should decide its fate.

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Syria has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board for years, largely because of its important geo-strategic placement in the Middle East. 

The process of cornering the Syrian Arab Republic started with earlier accusations pertaining to the alleged development of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). From 2003 to 2004, George W. Bush Jr. even considered using this as a pretext to invade Syria after the fall of Baghdad as “Phase III” of the “Global War on Terror.” These pretexts later gave way to accusations of “Syrian interference” in Iraq as well as the alleged role of Damascus in the 2005 Hariri Assassination in Lebanon. 

In 2007, these various allegations evolved towards accusations of support for Fatah Al-Islam near the Lebanese city of Tripoli and, in league with Israel’s Operation Orchard, claims that Damascus was involved, with the support of Tehran and Pyongyang, in a secret nuclear weapons program. The latter was allegedly part of a “Syria-Iran-North Korea nuclear proliferation axis.”  Now in 2011-2012, the humanitarian “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) card is being played.

The road to Damascus goes through Beirut. Washington’s roadmap against Syria always involved Lebanon as a multi-faceted springboard. In fact, Washington and its allies wanted the deployment of UNIFIL troops, mostly comprised of NATO soldiers, being sent to Lebanon to be stationed on the Lebanese-Syrian border in 2006. Feeling threatened, Damascus warned that it would close the borders with Lebanon and the idea was scrapped.

Syria was the main target of the 2006 Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Regime change in Damascus was the key objective. Tel Aviv’s 2006 defeat in Lebanon by Hezbollah and its allies spared Syria from an attack and probably prevented a broader regional war involving Iran and NATO.

It is after the 2006 events in Lebanon that Washington took the initiative to negotiate with Damascus in the diplomatic arena. These attempts lasted up until 2011 and were aimed at de-linking Syria from Iran and the Resistance Bloc or “Axis of Resistance.” During this diplomatic engagement, which attempted to distance Damascus from Tehran,  Tom Lantos, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, visited Damascus and warned the Syrian regime to join ranks with Saudi Arabia and the United States against Iran. 

Lantos threatened President Al-Assad while intimating that a few years down the road that there would be a new geo-political reality: “Sunni Muslims and not Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be in control in the region, and it is to the advantage of Damascus to know which side to be on.”

2007 was slated for an Israeli rematch against Lebanon that never happened. Very telling is the fact that talks of war were also aimed at Syria too. Washington and Tel Aviv also realized that after 2006 they could no longer launch separate wars against Syria and in Iran. Damascus and Tehran would not fight in isolation from one another. A war against Syria would equate to a war with Iran and vice-versa.

Looking through the timeline of events and all the important dates, it would appear that Washington originally had planned on going to war with Iran by late-2007 or in 2008. This is clear from all the statements being made by both sides in 2007 about war preparations. This also roughly fits into the timeline formed by U.S. military exercises, official statements, rumours of war, and General Wesley Clark’s historic 2001 statement (in the wake of the invasion of Afghanistan) that Syria was included in a list of targeted countries for U.S. military intervention on the basis of a five-year military roadmap. The Israeli defeat in Lebanon, however, upset the timeline of the Pentagon’s military roadmap.

In 2007, when all sides were talking about a regional war igniting, Washington and its allies did launch their war. It is in this period that the destabilization and shadow wars against Lebanon, Syria, and Iran commenced. President George W. Bush Jr. authorized the beginning of this shadow war, which included a combination of “colour revolutions” and covert attacks.

In Lebanon, Fatah Al-Islam emerged in the Shamal (North) Governate, imported into the area by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance to fight Hezbollah and its allies in Lebanon. In parallel, an intense spy war against Hezbollah and its allies had also begun. 

In Iran, the terrorist organization known as Jundullah (established in 2003), intensified its attacks in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan using Afghanistan and Pakistan as launch pads. 

The struggle to establish the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) would also intensify and become a factor in the backdrop of the 2008 internal Lebanese fighting between Hezbollah’s camp and Hariri’s camp.

Having failed to launch another war in 2007 or 2008, Tel Aviv would renew talks with Damascus. Under the framework of deepening Syrian-Turkish ties, Ankara would facilitate the indirect talks between Damascus and Tel Aviv. The stumbling block between the Israelis and Syrians, however, would always be Syrian foreign policy and Syria’s membership in the “Axis of Resistance.”

In 2008, events in Lebanon would once again hamper Washington’s agenda. Under the guise of the Siniora government the Hariri camp was actively working on systematically weakening Hezbollah in coordination with the interests of Washington and Tel Aviv. Hariri and his allies had already given their tacit support to Israel during its 2006 aerial bombardment of Lebanon with the hope that Hezbollah would be eliminated as an outcome of the war. The efforts by Hariri’s camp to remove Hezbollah’s Iranian-installed communication network would have crippled Hezbollah logistically and tactically. Finally, the growing internal tensions between both Lebanese sides over the issue would result in the outbreak of fighting in May 2008. 

The internal fighting in Lebanon in 2008 would result in a tactical victory on the ground for Hezbollah and a political victory for it and its coalition with the Doha Accord. Hezbollah would defeat the private army that the Hariri camp had been building, keep its communication network, and also gain a veto in the new Lebanese national unity government.

While both Hezbollah and the Hariri camp played down the fighting that occurred between them in 2008, there was much more at stake. A heated secret battle involving intelligence agents from Jordan, NATO countries, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries took place in and around Beirut. Hezbollah would effectively route these forces. It was in this context that U.S. and Israeli officials would later vaguely comment by describing the events in Lebanon as a “major setback” and “ruining years of work in Lebanon.”

The use of Lebanon via anti-Syrian elements as a political weapon to “roll back Syria” geo-strategically, as proposed by Richard Perle and other neo-conservatives in an Israeli policy paper, had come to a virtual standstill. Walid Jumblatt and his Progressive Socialist Movement would leave the March 14 Alliance and Hariri would also be forced to retract his accusations against the Syrians about the murder of his father in 2005. Hariri would go on to tell the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat, a mouthpiece for his Al-Saud patrons, in an interview that his claims against Damascus were motivated by politics. He would state: “This was a political accusation and it has finished.”

The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq has made removing Syria from the orbit of Iran critical for Washington and Tel Aviv. In 2011, diplomacy was openly cast aside in favour of “regime change.” The groundwork for this probabily started in 2010 after the summit in Damascus between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar Al-Assad, and Hassan Nasrallah when Washington realized its diplomatic efforts to de-link Syria from Iran were in vain. 

While the political dimensions of Lebanon as a springboard against Syria were greatly reduced after Hezbollah’s victory in 2008, the 2009 Lebanese parliamentary elections, and finally the removal of Hariri from the premiership in 2011, Lebanon’s logistical aspects as a base for destabilizing Syria were not given up by Washington and its allies. Segments of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) of Lebanon, which are informally controlled by the Hariri camp, almost certainly were preparing for the use of Lebanon as a weapons hub for the so-called “Free Syrian Army” and other forces from late-2010 to mid-2011.

There is also an increasing and diabolical push to paint the events in Syria along sectarian Shiite-Sunni lines. Syria’s alliance with Iran is being questioned because Iran is a non-Arab country predominantly populated by Shia Muslims and Syria is an Arab state mostly inhabited by Sunni Muslims. This is mere propaganda. Using this logic, those that fiendishly push these talking points would never be able to justify the Saudi, Qatari, Jordanian, and GCC alliances with Turkey, NATO, and the United States under the same standards. These are all non-Arab countries and, aside from Turkey, are predominantly non-Muslim, let alone Sunni Muslim. Yet, the same disingenuous discourse is never applied when speaking about their foreign relations. 

In geo-political terms, NATO and GCC support for armed insurgency and civil strife in the Syrian Arab Republic is trying to achieve what the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon failed to achieve: the surrender of Damascus. Using Syria’s borders with Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq, armed groups are being supplied and supported. Amongst the foreign fighters are members of Fatah Al-Islam from Lebanon and co-opted members of the Awakening Groups, which was initially funded by the U.S. when it was founded in 2005, entering Syria from Al-Anbar, Iraq.

Above: Two of Syria’s allies, Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, join President Bashar Al-Assad for a summit in Damascus on February 25, 2010.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Sociologist and award-winning author. He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He has been a contributor and guest discussing the broader Middle East on numerous international programs and networks such as Al Jazeera, Press TV, teleSUR and Russia Today. His writings have been published in more than ten languages​​. In 2011 he was awarded the First National Prize of the Mexican Press Club for his work as a war correspondent in Libya. He also writes for the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow.

NATO War Games in the Mediterranean

February 4th, 2012 by Global Research

According to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Allied Command Operations Press Release, eleven NATO member states will be involved in naval exercises in the Mediterranean from the 14th to the 24th of February. The timing of these exercises coincide with the showdown with Syria.

The naval exercise is described as ”NATO’s largest Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercise”.

“The exercise will take place in the Ionian Sea to the southeast of Sicily. Forces are provided by Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Five submarines from France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey are scheduled to join the exercise.”

The MANTA Series Exercise is intended to provide ”for operational experimentation with new technology and tactics,” in support of 21st Century warfighting capabilities.

For further details see

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Armed Groups Inside Syria: Prelude to a US-NATO Intervention?

February 4th, 2012 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Russia and China have vetoed the UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria pointing to the existence of armed groups involved in terrorist acts including the killing of civilians.

These armed groups have been involved since the outset of the “protest movement” in Daraa, southern Syria, in March 2011.

The statement of Russia’s envoy to the UN Viktor Churkin remains within the realm of international diplomacy. It does not mention who is behind these armed groups and the fact that NATO is supporting an armed insurrection.

“Churkin said that resolution’s Western co-sponsors had not included key proposals such as isolating the Syrian opposition from violent extremist groups or a call to arms for other states to use their influence to prevent such alliances”. (Russia Today, February 4, 2012)

Ironically, Russia’s decision to veto the resolution is consistent with the report of the Arab League’s Observer Mission to Syria, which confirms the existence of  an “Armed Entity”.

Unexpectedly, however, neither Washington nor the Arab League, which commissioned the Observer Mission to Syria in the first place, have accepted the interim report presented by the AL Mission. 

Why?  Because the Mission –integrated by independent observers from Arab League countries– provides a balanced and objective assessment of what is happening on the ground inside Syria. It does not serve as a mouthpiece for Washington and the governments of Arab states. 

It points to the existence of an “Armed Entity”; it acknowledges that “armed opposition groups” including the Syria Free Army are involved in criminal and terrorist acts.

“In some zones, this armed entity reacted by attacking Syrian security forces and citizens, causing the Government to respond with further violence. In the end, innocent citizens pay the price for those actions with life and limb.

“In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed. ”

“Such incidents include the bombing of buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil and explosions targeting the police, members of the media and fuel pipelines. Some of those attacks have been carried out by the Free Syrian Army and some by other armed opposition groups.”

While the Mission does not identify the foreign powers behind “the armed entity”, its report dispels the mainstream media lies and fabrications, used by Washington to push for “regime change” in Syria.

The AL Mission report also intimates that political pressure was exerted by officials of Arab League states to unreservedly support Washington’s political stance.

Moreover, the Mission was also pressured into upholding the lies and fabrications of the mainstream media, which have been used to demonize the government of Bashar al Assad:

“Some observers reneged on their duties and broke the oath they had taken. They made contact with officials from their countries and gave them exaggerated accounts of events. Those officials consequently developed a bleak and unfounded picture of the situation.”

In recent development, the Arab League has announced that the Observer Mission will be withdrawn from Syria.

Armed Groups Inside Syria

There is ample evidence that the armed groups including Salafists, Al Qaeda affiliated militia as well as Muslim Brotherhood are covertly supported by Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia. 

The insurgency in Syria has similar features to that of Libya, which was directly supported by British Special Forces operating out of Benghazi. British and French Special forces operating out of Turkey are training Syrian rebel forces.

According to former CIA official Philip Giraldi:

NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davitoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so. The intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was invoked to justify Libya. Turkish sources suggest that intervention would start with creation of a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border and then be expanded. Aleppo, Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, would be the crown jewel targeted by liberation forces.

Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army. Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers.

The Role of US Ambassador Robert Stephen Ford

US Ambassador Robert Stephen Ford, who arrived in Damascus in January 2011, played a central role in setting the stage for an armed insurrection in Syria. As “Number Two” at the US embassy in Baghdad (2004-2005) under the helm of Ambassador John D. Negroponte, Ford played a key role in implementing the Pentagon’s “Iraq Salvador Option”. The latter consisted in supporting Iraqi death squadrons and paramilitary forces modelled on the experience of Central America in the early 1980s.

Ford’s mandate in Damascus is to replicate the “Salvador Option” in Syria, by promoting covertly the development of an armed insurrection. In this context, the killings of civilians perpetrated by armed gangs (supported covertly by the Western military alliance) are casually blamed on the Syrian government, thereby upholding the US-NATO mandate to intervene on “humanitarian grounds”.  

Reports point to the development of a full-fledged and well organized armed insurgency supported, trained and equiped by NATO and Turkey’s High Command. According to Israeli intelligence sources:

NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Turkish high command are meanwhile drawing up plans for their first military step in Syria, which is to arm the rebels with weapons for combating the tanks and helicopters spearheading the Assad regime’s crackdown on dissent. Instead of repeating the Libyan model of air strikes, NATO strategists are thinking more in terms of pouring large quantities of anti-tank and anti-air rockets, mortars and heavy machine guns into the protest centers for beating back the government armored forces. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011)

A US-NATO led intervention, which would inevitably involve Israel,  is already on the drawing board of the Pentagon. According to military and intelligence sources, NATO, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been discussing “the form this intervention [in Syria] would take” (Ibid).

Related Articles

Commentary by Michel Chossudovsky
- 2012-02-01

NATO Versus Syria: NATO Clandestinely Engaged in Syrian Conflict
CIA Analysts Skeptical Regarding March to War
- by Philip Giraldi – 2012-02-04

BREAKING: Russia Points to “Armed Groups” in Syria, Vetoes UN Security Council Draft Resolution
- 2012-02-04

VIDEO: SYRIA: Armed Opposition Groups Supported by “Foreign Powers”
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-02-03

The United Nations Security Council has voted on a draft resolution concerning the ongoing violence in Syria.

The United Nations Security Council has just voted on a draft resolution concerning the ongoing violence in Syria. Russia and China were the only voting members to oppose the draft. And as permanent members of the UNSC, they had the option to use veto power to block the draft’s passage. Beijing and Moscow have both taken issue with the draft’s vague wording, which they say leaves the door open for possible international military intervention in Syria and creates a picture of the current situation that favors opposition forces over the Assad government. American Ambassador Susan Rice told the Security Council following the vote that the US was “disgusted” at Russia and China’s decision to go against the resolution. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also warned that more blood would be shed in Syria if a resolution was not reached soon.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin commented maintained that Russia’s suggestions were not considered in the draft resolution.

“The Russian delegation was forced to vote against this draft resolution. We seriously regret this outcome of our joint work.” Churkin said that resolution’s Western co-sponsors had not included key proposals such as isolating the Syrian opposition from violent extremist groups or a call to arms for other states to use their influence to prevent such alliances

“Unfortunately, some of our colleagues choose to make rather bizarre interpretations of the Russian proposals,” the Russian UN Ambassador said.

Churkin said the Russian delegation has been accused of rewriting the Arab League texts adopted months ago in the Security Council. “Indeed, they were adopted months ago and since that time the situation has evolved,” he said, pointing out that Syrian rebels used previous withdrawals of the Syrian troops to their benefit, occupying cities during cease-fires. “There is no rule that the Security Council should repeat verbatim all resolutions adopted by the original organizations. They are neither Koran nor Bible, and we can express our own views on texts adopted month ago.”

Russia and China reminded others that it was not their place to intervene in another country’s domestic affairs. The news follows days of heated political debate in the UNSC, with many members supporting a Western-backed draft calling for foreign nations to put an end to what some called the “Syrian killing machine.”

And in a statement to the UN, US President Barack Obama urged the international community to protect the Syrian people from “abhorrent brutality.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told an audience at the Munich Security Conference that there are too few demands being placed on Syria’s armed opposition, and that the resolution could affect the outcome of political dialogue between the conflicting sides. Lavrov is set to visit the Syrian capital next Tuesday to conduct talks with President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, Syria Tribune editor Ali Mohamad told RT that he doesn’t believe the Western backers of a UN Security Council resolution on Syria “are working for the best interests of the Syrian people.” Mohamad says “there was a very good chance this week to find a draft that could satisfy all sides – but it was not supported by Western countries.” ”The Arab league initiative, supported by the Security Council, wants to portray an image where the problem is between Assad and the Syrian people, but this is not the reality.” Instead, Mohamad says, the problem lies between opposing parts of Syrian society – and has nothing to do with Assad’s removal. The vote came after the latest reports of government crackdowns on the western city of Homs on Friday in which an estimated 200 hundred people were killed, with eyewitness testimony of tanks and heavy artillery. The Syrian government denied involvement, dismissing the claims as an attempt to drum up international support for the draft resolution.

Video: Churkin’s statement 


Americans should be concerned about what is happening in Syria, if only because it threatens to become another undeclared war like Libya but much, much worse. Calls for regime change have come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who several weeks ago predicted a civil war.

That is indeed likely if the largely secular and nationalist regime of Bashar al-Assad falls, pitting Sunni against Shia against Alawite. Indigenous Christians will be caught in the meat grinder. Ironically, many of the Christians in Damascus are Iraqis who experienced the last round of liberation in their own country and had to flee for their lives.

NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davitoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so. The intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was invoked to justify Libya. Turkish sources suggest that intervention would start with creation of a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border and then be expanded. Aleppo, Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, would be the crown jewel targeted by liberation forces.

Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army. Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers.

CIA analysts are skeptical regarding the march to war. The frequently cited United Nations report that more than 3,500 civilians have been killed by Assad’s soldiers is based largely on rebel sources and is uncorroborated. The Agency has refused to sign off on the claims. Likewise, accounts of mass defections from the Syrian Army and pitched battles between deserters and loyal soldiers appear to be a fabrication, with few defections being confirmed independently. Syrian government claims that it is being assaulted by rebels who are armed, trained, and financed by foreign governments are more true than false.

In the United States, many friends of Israel are on the Assad regime-change bandwagon, believing that a weakened Syria, divided by civil war, will present no threat to Tel Aviv. But they should think again, as these developments have a way of turning on their head. The best organized and funded opposition political movement in Syria is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.



A broad spectrum of U.S.-based anti-imperialist and anti-war organizations, including the IAC, agreed on a Jan. 17 conference call to hold coordinated protests across the country on Saturday, Feb. 4. The demands will be: “No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations against Iran.”

The ad-hoc group that took part in the call decided that although there are only two weeks to organize, it will invite anti-war forces around the world to join in to make this emergency protest a global day of action.

All agreed on the need to stop U.S. imperialism and/or Israel from launching a military attack on Iran. There was also a consensus that the new sanctions President Barack Obama signed into law on Dec. 31 — with the goal of breaking the Iranian central bank — were themselves an act of war aimed at the Iranian people. The political activists on the call raised the danger of a wider war should fighting break out in or around Iran.

While the organizations involved had varied assessments of the Iranian government, they all saw any intervention from U.S. imperialism in the Southwest Asian country as a threat to the entire region and to peace. Some of the people on the call who are originally from Iran and who were in touch with family and friends there conveyed the Iranian people’s anger at the recent assassination of a young scientist.

There was agreement to make “no assassinations” one of the demands to show solidarity with the Iranian population as well as to condemn the U.S. and its allies for criminal activities against Iran and its people.

As of Jan. 19, the organizations that called the actions or endorsed later included the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), the International Action Center (IAC), SI! Solidarity with Iran, Refugee Apostolic Catholic Church, Workers World Party, World Can’t Wait, American Iranian Friendship Committee, ANSWER Coalition,, Peace of the Action,, St. Pete for Peace, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality-Virginia, WESPAC Foundation, Peace Action Maine, Occupy Myrtle Beach, Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, Twin Cities Peace Campaign and Bail Out the People Movement (BOPM).

Individual endorsers include authors David Swanson, “When the World Outlawed War,” and Phil Wilayto, “In Defense of Iran: Notes from a U.S. Peace Delegation’s Journey through the Islamic Republic”; and U.N. Human Rights Award winner Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general.

The list is expected to grow steadily as word spreads. Right now people can follow developments on the Facebook link:
No War On Iran: National Day of Action Feb 4,

Donate to support actions in solidarity with Iran.


UN: Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that calls on President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Thirteen of the council’s 15 members voted in favor of the resolution aimed to stop the violence in Syria.

At least 5,400 people have been killed in the Syrian government’s 11-month crackdown on protesters, according to the UN. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.

The West has been trying to persuade Moscow to support a resolution effectively authorizing a military operation but Russia has repeatedly insisted that the Western drive for a stronger crackdown on Syria is preparation for a “Libyan scenario.”

Russia, one of President al-Assad’s firm supporters during the uprising against his regime, indicated earlier this week that it would veto the draft resolution calling on Assad to step down. Moscow has proposed its own draft, which the West criticized as being too soft.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier on Saturday he and Foreign Intelligence Service head Mikhail Fradkov will visit Syria and meet with President Bashar Assad on February 7.

The visit will be made on instructions from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Lavrov did not reveal any details of the upcoming the visit.

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Text of the U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria

List of Co-Sponsors: Morocco, France, United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Portugal, Colombia, Togo, Libya, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Turkey.

The Security Council,

Recalling its presidential statement of 3 August 2011,

Recalling General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/176 of 19 December 2011, as well as Human Rights Council resolutions S/16-1, S/17-1 and S/18-1,

Noting the League of Arab States’ request in its decision of 22 January 2012,

Expressing grave concern at the deterioration of the situation in Syria, and profound concern at the death of thousands of people and calling for an immediate end to all violence,

Welcoming the League of Arab States’ Action Plan of 2 November 2011 and its subsequent decisions, including its decision of 22 January 2012, which aims to achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis,

Noting the deployment of the League of Arab States’ observer mission, commending its efforts, regretting that, due to the escalation in violence, the observer mission was not in a position to monitor the full implementation of the League of Arab States’ Action Plan of 2 November 2011, and noting the subsequent decision of the League of Arab states to suspend the mission,

Underscoring the importance of ensuring the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in safety and with dignity,

Mindful that stability in Syria is key to peace and stability in the region,

Noting the announced commitments by the Syrian authorities to reform, and regretting the lack of progress in implementation,

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, emphasizing its intention to resolve the current political crisis in Syria peacefully, and noting that nothing in this resolution authorizes measures under Article 42 of the Charter,

Welcoming the engagement of the Secretary-General and all diplomatic efforts aimed at addressing the situation, and noting in this regard the offer of the Russian Federation to host a meeting in Moscow, in consultation with the League of Arab States,

1. Condemns the continued widespread and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities, such as the use of force against civilians, arbitrary executions, killing and persecution of protestors and members of the media, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence, and ill-treatment, including against children;

2. Demands that the Syrian government immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, protect its population, fully comply with its obligations under applicable international law and fully implement the Human Rights Council resolutions S-16/1, S-17/1, S-18/1 and the General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/176;

3. Condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and in this regard demands that all parties in Syria, including armed groups, immediately stop all violence or reprisals, including attacks against State institutions, in accordance with the League of Arab States’ initiative;

4. Recalls that all those responsible for human rights violations, including acts of violence, must be held accountable;

5. Demands that the Syrian government, in accordance with the Plan of Action of the League of Arab States of 2 November 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012, without delay:

(a) cease all violence and protect its population;

(b) release all persons detained arbitrarily due to the recent incidents;

(c) withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks;

(d) guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations;

(e) allow full and unhindered access and movement for all relevant League of Arab States’ institutions and Arab and international media in all parts of Syria to determine the truth about the situation on the ground and monitor the incidents taking place; and

(f) allow full and unhindered access to the League of Arab States’ observer mission;

6. Calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation and extremism, and aimed at effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria’s people, without prejudging the outcome;

7. Fully supports in this regard the League of Arab States’ 22 January 2012 decision to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition under the League of Arab States’ auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States;

8. Encourages the League of Arab States to continue its efforts in cooperation with all Syrian stakeholders;

9. Calls upon the Syrian authorities, in the event of a resumption of the observer mission, to cooperate fully with the League of Arab States’ observer mission, in accordance with the League of Arabs States’ Protocol of 19 December 2011, including through granting full and unhindered access and freedom of movement to the observers, facilitating the entry of technical equipment necessary for the mission, guaranteeing the mission’s right to interview, freely or in private, any individual and guaranteeing also not to punish, harass, or retaliate against, any person who has cooperated with the mission;

10. Stresses the need for all to provide all necessary assistance to the mission in accordance with the League of Arab States’ Protocol of 19 December 2011 and its decision of 22 January 2012;

11. Demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and with the Commission of Inquiry dispatched by the Human Rights Council, including by granting it full and unimpeded access to the country;

12. Calls upon the Syrian authorities to allow safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance in order to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to persons in need of assistance;

13. Welcomes the Secretary-General’s efforts to provide support to the League of Arab States, including its observer mission, in promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis;

14. Requests the Secretary General to report on the implementation of this resolution, in consultation with the League of Arab States, within 21 days after its adoption and to report every 30 days thereafter;

15. Decides to review implementation of this resolution within 21 days and, in the event of non-compliance, to consider further measures;

16. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

From International Action Center –

Build this movement! Stop another war! Spread the word! 

NOW in 79 Cities –


NO War! NO Sanctions! NO Intervention! NO Assassinations against IRAN

(Alphabetical order by State in US, then other dates and countries listed)


1.     Huntsville, AL 10am, Whitesburg and Airport, 5001 Whitesburg Drive

2.     Phoenix, AZ, 2pm at Cesar Chavez Plaza, 200 W Washington.

3.     Tucson, AZ 6pm at Unitarian Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22 St.

4.     Los Angeles, CA 2 pm at Westwood Fed Building, next to UCLA campus.

5.     Los Angeles, CA Noon at Wilshire & Western Metro Stop.

6.     Palm Springs, CA 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive

7.     San Francisco, CA, Noon at Powell & Market, BART Plaza

8.     Sacramento, CA Noon, Demonstration at 16th & J Streets

9.     Truckee, CA Noon, at Donner Pass Rd/ Highway 89.

10.  Colorado Springs, CO, Acacia Park 115 E. Platte Ave

11.  New Haven, CT 11:00am at New Haven Green, 141 Church St

12.  Tampa, FL, Noon March on McDill Air Force Base-CentComm, Rally at Gandy Bivd. & Dale Mabry Highway

13.  Atlanta, GA 4:30 – 5:30pm at CNN Center, Marietta & Centennial Olympic Park.

14.  Honolulu, HI 7pm in Heart of Waikiki, Kalakaua Ave & Seaside Ave

15.  Des Moines, IA 6pm at Nollen Plaza, Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St

16.  Chicago, IL Noon at Federal Plaza

17.  Champaign-Urbana, IL 2pm at Neil and Main St.

18.  Highland, IN Highway of the Flags Veterans Memorial SE corner Indianapolis Blvd & Ridge Rd

19.  Wichita, KS Wichita Public Library, Main and William

20.  Boston, MA 1pm at Tremont & Park St, March to Israeli consulate & Copley Square

21.  Detroit MI 2pm at Grand Circus Park – Woodward Ave at Adams.

22.  Kalamazoo, MI 4pm, March from Urban Blend Coffeehouse, 14 N Burdick St.

23.  Kochville MI 12 noon at Bay Rd & Tittabawassee Rd.

24.  Grand Rapids, MN 12 noon, Peace vigil at Pokegama Avenue Bridge

25.  Minneapolis, MN 3 pm at 3rd St & Cedar Avenue South.

26.  Omaha, NE 72nd and Dodge Dodge St & S 72nd St

27.  Brevard, NC Noon, Transylvania Courthouse Lawn, E. Main Street & N. Broad St.

28.  Jersey City, NJ 2:30pm Vietnam Veterans Community Center, Central Ave & Manhattan Ave, then march.

29.  Montclair, NJ 10:30am, Near corner of South Fullerton Ave.

30.  Plymouth, NH Weekly Plymouth Common Peace Vigil,Plymouth Town Common


32.  Albuquerque, NM 1pm, Assemble at UNM Bookstore Corner of Central and Cornell

33.  Albany NY Noon at Wolf Road & Central Ave, March 1pm to mall recruiting station.

34.  Buffalo, NY 3pm at City Hall Square, then marching.

35.  Delhi, NY Town Square, across from Delaware County Office Building

36.  NYC, NY 1pm at North end of Times Square – Duffy Square.  March to the US & Israeli missions to UN.

37.  Rochester, NY 11am at The Public Market, 280 North Union Street

38.  Saratoga, NY Noon at Broadway by Post Office, Weekly Vigil Site.

39.  Syracuse, NY 1:30pm, Fayette St. and Salina St.

40.  Cincinnati, OH 2pm, Piatt Park, E. 8th St and Vine St.

41.  Columbus, OH 4pm at 15th St. & N. High St.

42.  Defiance, OH Noon at Defiance County Courthouse, 221 Clinton Street

43.  Tulsa, OK Noon at Southwest Corner of 41st and Yale Ave,

44.  Astoria, OR Noon, The Post Office in Astoria, 8th and Commercial

45.  Harrisburg, PA Noon at State Capitol Steps, 3rd Street Side at North & Walnut

46.  Lewisburg, PA 2pmm Post Office 3rd and Market St.

47.  Philadelphia PA Noon at 5th & Market, Independence Hall.

48.  Rock Hill, SC 7pm at Byrnes Auditorium at Winthrop University, 701 Oakland Ave.

49.  Nashville, TN 2pm, Teach-in / Rally at Legislative Plaza, 6th Ave. between Charlotte & Union

50.  Amarillo, TX 3pm, NE corner of Elwood Park then march to Congressman Thornberry’s office at 905 S. Fillmore

51.  Austin, TX 1pm, Intersection of 6th St. and Lamar Blvd.

52.  Dallas, TX 3:30pm, Rally at Harry Moss Park, SE corner of Greenville Ave & Royal Lane

53.  Houston TX 3:30pm Westheimer & Post Oak

54.  Waco, TX 1pm, Valley Mills & Waco Drive

55.  Salt Lake City, UT 3pm at Downtown Federal Building, 125 S. State St

56.  Blacksburg VA Noon at Federal Building.

57.  Norfolk, VA 1pm at City Hall Ave at Saint Paul Blvd.

58.  Richmond VA, 2pm Main Post Office.

59.  Seattle, WA 1:30 at Westlake Center, March to Military processing center.

60.  Madison, WI 3pm, State St. and the Capitol, 2 E. Main Street

61.  Milwaukee, WI Noon  at East Capitol Dr. Bridge just east of Capitol Ave & Humbold Blvd.

62.  Green Bay, WI Noon at Lambeau Field.

63.  Racine, WI 10am NW Corner of Highways 20 & 31

64.  Washington DC Noon at Lafayette Square, White House


Feb 02 NO War on Iran Actions

1.     Bloomington, IL 5:30pm at Center for the Performing Arts 600 East Street

2.     Oklahoma City, OK, 4:30pm at Gold Dome corner, 1112 Northwest 23rd Street

FEB 3 NO War on Iran Actions

1.     Baltimore, MD. 5pm McKelvin Sq, Pratt & Light Street

2.     Raleigh, NC 4:30pm Federal Building, 310 New Bern Ave

3.     Nashville TN 2pm, Nashville Legislative Plaza, 6th Ave & Deaderick St.


Feb 5

Vista, CA 2pm ,Vista Village Dr. and S. Santa Fe

Feb 12

Portland, OR 3pm The Corner of Salmon St and Park Ave SW

Other Countries organizing for NO War on Iran actions on Feb 4: 

Canada F

1.           Calgary, AB 11am, Consulate General of USA, 615 Macleod Trail S.E., 10th Floor

2.           Lethbridge, AB 2pm, City Hall, 910 4th Ave. South

3.          Vancouver,BC: Picket and rally in front of US consulate, downtown, 3-6pm

Bangaldesh capital Dacca rally and march; 

India message of actions in several cities including Calcutta. 

Ireland at Shannon Air Base, forward base for NATO, 

Norway, Oslo, Rally initiated by Iranians in Diaspora, Supported by Peace Initative Norway, Party Red & others.

UK Leeds, University of Leeds 8pm, Parkinson Steps Woodhouse Lane Leeds Sydney Town Hall 483 George Street

Let us know if you are also planning an action on Feb 4 or On the Feb 4 weekend and we will also post it, so that others can link up with you. 


Or join a local action listed above.



A broad spectrum of U.S.-based anti-imperialist and anti-war organizations, including the IAC, agreed on a Jan. 17 conference call to hold coordinated protests across the country on Saturday, Feb. 4. The demands will be: “No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations against Iran.”

The ad-hoc group that took part in the call decided that although there are only two weeks to organize, it will invite anti-war forces around the world to join in to make this emergency protest a global day of action.

All agreed on the need to stop U.S. imperialism and/or Israel from launching a military attack on Iran. There was also a consensus that the new sanctions President Barack Obama signed into law on Dec. 31 — with the goal of breaking the Iranian central bank — were themselves an act of war aimed at the Iranian people. The political activists on the call raised the danger of a wider war should fighting break out in or around Iran.

While the organizations involved had varied assessments of the Iranian government, they all saw any intervention from U.S. imperialism in the Southwest Asian country as a threat to the entire region and to peace. Some of the people on the call who are originally from Iran and who were in touch with family and friends there conveyed the Iranian people’s anger at the recent assassination of a young scientist.

There was agreement to make “no assassinations” one of the demands to show solidarity with the Iranian population as well as to condemn the U.S. and its allies for criminal activities against Iran and its people.

As of Jan. 19, the organizations that called the actions or endorsed later included the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), the International Action Center (IAC), SI! Solidarity with Iran, Refugee Apostolic Catholic Church, Workers World Party, World Can’t Wait, American Iranian Friendship Committee, the Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII). ANSWER Coalition,, Peace of the Action,, St. Pete for Peace, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality-Virginia, WESPAC Foundation, Peace Action Maine, Occupy Myrtle Beach, Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, Twin Cities Peace Campaign and Bail Out the People Movement (BOPM).

Individual endorsers include authors David Swanson, “When the World Outlawed War,” and Phil Wilayto, “In Defense of Iran: Notes from a U.S. Peace Delegation’s Journey through the Islamic Republic”; and U.N. Human Rights Award winner Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general.

The list is expected to grow steadily as word spreads. Right now people can follow developments on the Facebook link: 
No War On Iran: National Day of Action Feb 4,

Visit  www.----escape_autolink_uri:72c03f718c528732aedcc69bbf9ce20c----


AAA … three letters that ring like a sardonic laugh denoting the top credit rating given by the ratings agencies. A company or a State with an AAA rating is considered credit-worthy by lenders and speculators and can borrow at more favourable rates. But to obtain – or maintain – this symbolic grade, European governments will go to any lengths, including the application of austerity policies that place their economies under the diktat of creditors. The AAA is a front that conceals social regression on a grand scale, human rights violations, and blood, sweat and tears for the most vulnerable citizens. 

AAA… Three letters that ring like the laugh of the hyena as creditors reap profits while people’s rights are sacrificed with the active complicity of the heads of European States, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the Central European Bank. Lenders and speculators have taken the most reckless risks, convinced that the public authorities would bail them out in time of crisis. Up to now they have been right. Bank bailouts have been organised, States have provided guarantees amounting to thousands of billions of euros, the wishes of creditors have been pandered to. States have spent colossal sums to bail out banks before imposing massive austerity measures which the people often oppose with determination. Street protests, general strikes, the Outraged (Indigné) movement and social struggles are reasons for hope if they can succeed in federating at European level. It is time for peoples of Europe to unite.  

For three decades, neo-liberal policies have raised indebtedness to an intolerable level for the middle and lower-middle classes who largely carry the burden of repayment. The public debt of European countries has two main causes: on the one hand, the fiscal counter-revolution starting in the 1980s that favoured the richest, and on the other hand, the responses of States to the present crisis brought about by unbridled investments by bankers and hedge funds. Financial deregulation has removed essential safeguards and enabled the creation of  increasingly complex products, leading to serious excesses and a global economic and financial crisis.   

The present policies protect those responsible for the crisis and oblige the victims – in other words the people – to pay the cost. For this reason the debt is largely an illegitimate one. As long as the current logic persists, the diktats of creditors will bring constant social regression. A citizens’ audit of the public debt, together with a penalty-free moratorium on repayments, is the only solution for determining the illegitimate, or even odious, part of the debt. This part must then be unconditionally abolished. And for this illegitimate debt to be Abolished, the people must continue to mobilise and by their concerted Action impose a different policy that finally respects fundamental and environmental rights.    

This Action must be the way to building a Europe based on solidarity and co-operation, a Europe that refuses the competitive dictates of the present system. The neo-liberal logic has brought about the crisis and revealed its own failings. This logic, which underlies all the founding documents of the European Union, in particular the Stability and Growth Pact and the Stability Mechanism Treaty, must be vigorously undermined. Budgetary and fiscal policies should not be uniform, since European economies are very disparate, but should rather be coordinated in order to find a solution that raises the standard. Europe must also drop its under-siege attitude towards immigration applicants and become a just and supportive partner for peoples in the South. The first step must be to unconditionally cancel Third World debt. It is clear that the present European treaties must be repealed and replaced by new ones in the context of a genuine democratic constituent process that will be the cornerstone for a different Europe. 

Audit-Action-Abolition: this is the AAA we want, an AAA of the people, not the ratings agencies. We place this demand at the very heart of the public debate to affirm that alternative political, economic and financial choices are possible. Only powerful social struggles can make this “peoples’ AAA” a reality and a means of effecting a radical change in logic.    

Translated by Judith Harris.

UN Security Council Showdown on Syria

February 4th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

Slowly things are coming to a head. America, Israel, rogue NATO partners, and regional despot allies are itching for a fight with Syria. Russia and China stand firmly opposed.

On February 3, Reuters headlined, “UN council to vote on Syria resolution Saturday,” saying:

Britain’s UN mission said the “UN Security Council is set to meet 9:00 a.m. Saturday. Plan is to vote on Syria resolution.”

Reuters said “(o)ther missions confirmed the announcement.”

On February 3, Deputy Foreign Minister Gannady Gatilov said resolution revisions were “not enough for us to be able to support….”

Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani accepts no further draft resolution changes, saying:

“The version which we have is the minimal which we can accept.”

On February 4, Lebanon’s Al-Manar satellite TV (Lebanese Media Group Company, Beirut) reported Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying:

“If they (the West) want yet another scandal on the Security Council for themselves then we cannot stop them.”

At issue is an expected Saturday Security Council vote Russia opposes. Lavrov added:

“The draft does not suit us at all and I hope that is is not put to a vote.”

Russia’s views are well known. “There can be no doubt about the sense and the objectivity of (its) amendments. I hope that a prejudiced approach does not prevail over common sense,” Lavrov stressed.

On February 4, AP headlined, “Russia warns UN vote on Syria will end in scandal,” saying:

Interviewed on Russian state television, Lavrov was blunt, saying Russia’s prepared to use its veto.

Calling the current Syrian resolution draft unacceptable, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gatilov said:

“Some of our concerns and the concerns of those who think the same as (we do) have been taken into consideration, but all the same (it’s) not enough for us to be able to support it in this form.”

At issue is what major media scoundrels ignore – a Western-backed externally generated insurgency responsible for most violence.

Washington plans regime change in Iran and Syria. At issue is replacing current leaders with pro-Western ones. Syria’s target one to isolate Iran. Escalated measures against Tehran will follow.

Strategy involves whatever it takes to achieve longstanding objectives, including war. Pressure’s building. Expect it perhaps later in 2012.

Meanwhile, conditions in Syria keep deteriorating. Under attack, its currency lost half its value. Ordinary people suffer most. Hunger and severe privation threaten. Escalated violence promises worse, including full-blown Western-backed war.

To achieve unchallenged Middle East hegemony, including control of its oil and gas resources, Washington won’t quit until the entire region burns.

In 1970, Richard Nixon ordered making Chile under social democrat Salvador Allende “scream.” Seventeen reign of terror Pinochet years followed.

Middle East plans today are worse, including full-blown war for control. Expect it, with or without Security Council help. Hardball Washington tactics don’t compromise.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected].

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

The Euro Zone and the Crisis of Sovereign Debt

February 4th, 2012 by Bob Chapman

The creation of the euro zone may have given participants one currency, but it created other problems as well. One interest rate was supposed to fit all. Those sovereigns on the financial periphery of the 17 nations found low interest rates too good to be true. As a result, the borrowed funds they shouldn’t have borrowed to finance current debt, was thrown off by the economy. During the 1990s we wrote that one interest rate for all would destroy the euro, but as usual no one wanted to listen. The reason was simple, each nation was and is at a different stage of development and a nation paying 2% rates could now borrow at 4%, which is a giant difference. As debt grew the credit crisis occurred and the rules changed externally. As rates rose sovereigns got into more and more trouble.

European banks were allowed to purchase sovereign bonds leveraged at 40 to one versus their existing capital. Normal prudent leverage is 9 to one. That means any sort of trouble was mega trouble. The result of this is what you are seeing today.

That is why Greece and others are in such trouble today. The banks created too much money and in their greed buried themselves and the sovereigns who the bankers know should have never had those loans in the first place. The result of the bank lending and political borrowing has led to the current state of affairs, insolvency. The size of debt cannot be sustained.

In the case of Greece, discussions are talking in terms of defaulting on 70% of debt, which we do not believe will solve the problem. Greece will have 50 years of austerity and poverty, all this to remain in the euro zone where hopelessly they cannot compete. If they can’t compete why would they stay in the euro zone? It is all about Greek leadership and its connection to bureaucrats, bankers and others that demand their inclusion into world government.

As of late interest rates have been falling from their lofty heights with the help of a $1 trillion loan from the Federal Reserve. We suppose that will continue over the next year. The rates will depend on internal events as well as external. Pushing against interest rates will be inflation, massive money creation, growing debt, stagnant economies, the threat of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Italy going into default and a possible lack of credit that will restrict world trade. Lenders already see European banks cutting back in the commercial loan area as the spectra of tariffs, particularly in Europe and England stalk our world. A reflection of the above is that European banks won’t even lend to each other, due to lack of trust. The EU and the euro zone were bad ideas from the very beginning. It has been one vast orgy of spending, debt, and trade imbalances, showcased in all the profligacy of banking. Germany is in a really difficult spot, austerity reins, losses from bond holdings face them, and the weak countries such as Greece need even more money to survive. If Germany lends and funds losses they can extend the game. If they do not the system comes unglued. If you look at the numbers you will see that Portugal is where Greece was last year and that Italy is where Portugal was last year. Thus, if little changes it could be that along with Spain they could fail one after another year by year and they probably will. That will allow the bankers to greatly string out their problems, which they are very adept at doing. A country like Greece even with a 70% debt write off, and staying in the euro, as we have said before, will live in poverty for the next 25 to 50 years. A full default and exit from the euro would leave them with a 5 to 10 year depression. At first the latter will be disastrous. The barter system and a rampant black market will flourish. Then austere normality will occur. The next Greek election is two months away and the opposition has been dragging their feet trying to get more bailout support and then put their own touch on to develop the future.

If Greece does a partial default they will be on life support for years within the euro zone. Their partners won’t like it, but their thought process is aid in perpetuity in exchange for economic and financial existence, as a part of the euro zone – EU units. EU members know that if Greece leaves, Portugal and Ireland will follow, perhaps followed by Belgium, Spain and Italy. If that happens the EU could fail and the Illuminists’ dream of world government could end. Yes, there is no doubt in our minds that the Greeks are stalling until their April election. In the meantime they want Germany to financially carry them. We do not see any option for Germany but to carry them. Otherwise, the euro and EU may blow-up as a result of that default. All these noises that Germany is making are for show. They know what we know. The euro zone position is weak and they know it. Greece fails and the avalanche follows, as Portugal and Ireland follow the same path.

Making things more difficult are the French elections. Can France’s Sarkozy and Merkel’s Germany take the political risk of saving Greece at this late date? Yes, we think they have too. The loss of Greece, Ireland and Portugal would cause chaos and they know it. Thus, there will be a stopgap financing before the end of March. Waiting in the wings are the debt of Spain and Italy of some $4 trillion. Italy has to roll $455 billion in current debt this year. Does one think that is possible? We think Italy and Spain will use ECB loans to roll their bonds and fund their governments. That means that debt is really being transferred from respective governments to the ECB, which is to the people. The next year, 2013, the same could happen – it’s either the Fed supplies more money or the banks fractionalize. There is no question the sovereigns would choose the ECB because of 1% interest rates and the reluctance of the ECB to call default on the loans. Needless to say, such actions would cause the euro to decline versus all currencies and particularly versus gold and silver. You can see again why you do not want to be in currencies.

We see Portugal wobbling again and Ireland just waiting to pull the plug on its debt laid upon the people by the previous government. They unbelievably assumed all the foreign bank debt they had no part in creating. Where is the IRA when we need them?
We expect that this sovereign debt this year will be bought up by banks, sovereigns of the ECB. Thus, from a funds’ flow point of view the roll over and new debt will be covered. In addition there are the bailout funds under EFSF and perhaps ESM. Due to those backstops Europe is comfortable and the public doesn’t understand what is going on. That gives a relief to French banks that hold almost half of Italian debt. France is losing competitiveness and that doesn’t help one bit. Their taxes already onerous are not high enough and outgoing President Sarkozy wants a financial transaction tax and an increase in the VAT. He will try to get these past the legislature before leaving office after April’s election.

Since last September the banks have been demanding more and more money in Europe. They just received $1 trillion and they want $1 trillion more, which we believe they will get, so they will have received $3.3 trillion since September. What the banks want beyond that is just another $2 trillion. This is a totally nationalized banking system. Money just falls out of the sky via the Fed and the ECB. It is inconceivable that banks would want a total bailout and that is what this is. They have no compunction about demanding the funds and their exhausted position remain in tact. This is the way these people think. They have lost touch with reality.

Olli Rehn, EU Economic & Monetary Affairs Commissioner says EU members will have to make a slightly larger contribution to keep Greece afloat. Greece needs the funds and they will receive them, because their are not getting them could force Greece out of the euro zone and perhaps even the EU is something the one-worlders do not even want to contemplate. The debt is unpayable, but these elitists do not care, as long as the end result is world government. They are not paying for the bill anyway, you are. As far as getting money from Germany for Greece there is no problem. The elitists will end run Germany by getting the funds elsewhere. Maybe the IMF might even pop for the additionally needed funds.

Germany believes the banks should be picking up these bills, but anyone of sound mind knows that cannot happen, because the banks are broke. The burden will be distributed among all the players. That is why Europe’s elitists have a strategy of continuing the policy no matter what the costs.

“Responsibility to Protect ” (R2P) or “Responsibility to Kill” (R2K)?

Just as Bahrainis are being poisoned in their homes from indiscriminate firing of massive teargas by regime forces, Washington is showing its approval by going ahead with an arms sales deal to the Persian Gulf kingdom.

The number of civilian deaths has also risen dramatically since the appointment of two American and British police chiefs in December who were assigned – officially – to improve the human rights record of the Bahraini forces.

Last year, the Obama administration put on hold the sale of $53 million worth of weapons to Bahrain amid uproar by human rights groups.

Ostensibly, the White House said that the shipment would only go ahead if the US-backed Sunni monarchy enacted democratic reforms to benefit the heavily discriminated Shia majority on the tiny oil-rich island state. The appointments of former Miami police boss John Timoney and his British counterpart, John Yates, were a tacit part of the reform package.

Since a pro-democracy uprising began last February, the unelected Al Khalifa ruling family has cracked down brutally on largely peaceful demonstrations. More than 50 people have been killed by regime forces, and thousands have been injured and incarcerated – huge numbers proportionate to the indigenous population of less than 700,000.

However, far from improving human rights, the Bahraini regime has stepped up repression over the past two months. Nine people have died in the past two weeks alone.

A marked change in regime tactics is the massive increase in teargas being deployed by the Saudi-backed riot police. Every night whole villages are submerged in toxic fumes resulting in a number of deaths, especially among the very young and elderly.

The youngest victim was a five-day-old baby girl, Sadiya Faisal, who died in the village of Balad Al Qadeem; the oldest was an 82-year-old woman, Salma Muhsin, from Barbar. Both victims, as with many others, died from suffocation in their homes. When relatives tried to eject the gas canisters from the dwellings, regime forces threw them back in. There is no doubt that the state forces are acting under orders for such systematic deployment. Bahrainis are convinced that Timoney and Yates are giving the orders, which in turn means Washington and London.

Also, the teargas being used now is a far more toxic than the previous variety. The new type gives off distinct yellow fumes and is reckoned to be 10 times stronger than regular CS gas. Residents say that their homes are constantly laced with the acrid smell even long after riot police have vacated the area. The number of deaths does not reflect the thousands of injuries from intoxication. There are reports of many pregnant women losing babies from miscarrying.

As pointed out by London-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade, teargas is supposed to be used in riot control situations, not in confined areas, and certainly not in civilian homes.

In Bahrain, the gas is being used more like a chemical weapon against civilians. Its indiscriminate, massive use in mainly Shia villages and residential districts in the capital, Manama, is patently a policy of “toxic terrorism” and “collective punishment” against the 70 per cent of the population demanding that the Western-backed regime gives way to democratic government.

When the assignments of Timoney and Yates were announced by Bahrain’s King Hamad Al Khalifa at the end of last year, it was mooted then that the move was a whitewash to burnish the regime’s badly soiled international image [1]. This is now evidently the case.

Latest figures show that more than half of all deaths – 21 – from teargas poisoning in Bahrain over the past year have occurred since the arrival of Timoney and Yates to their posts.

The deterioration in human rights should not be surprising as both police chiefs are hardly exemplars of good conduct. John Yates was forced to resign from Scotland Yard last year over a phone-tapping scandal involving police officers and Rupert Murdoch’s gutter press. British police sources say that Yates has been personally involved in many other forms of corruption and embezzlement. Sources say that Yates was a top mover in a financial scam in the Cayman Islands.

Meanwhile, Irish-American John Timoney is notorious for his gratuitous disregard for civil liberties and use of savage policing tactics. Five years ago, the Miami New Times dubbed him “America’s worst cop” [2].

If the green light for repression needed to be any brighter, then Washington just turned the switch with the latest approval of the $53 million arms deal to Bahrain.

Preposterously, Washington is maintaining that the weapons do not include means for internal repression, and are only for national defence. (The British government maintains a similar cynical fiction about its arms sales to its former colony.) A pertinent question is why is such “national defence” material needed since the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is moored in Bahrain?

A sleight of hand by the Obama administration now adds a new twist. Because the US government is releasing the arms to Bahrain in a series of packages worth around $1 million each rather than the originally scheduled complete consignment, it is not obligated to disclose what the weapons inventory includes.

Of course, all this only seems incongruous and contradictory if we believe the rhetoric from Washington (and London) about their commitment to democratic freedom and human rights. Bahrain is a classic case study of how Western geopolitical interests are closely aligned with repression and violation of human rights, and of how deeply disingenuous is Washington and London’s rhetoric.

The truth is that Washington’s oil interests are entwined with repressive regimes in the Persian Gulf and are fundamentally opposed to the cause of democracy in these sheikdoms. The other factor, as Michel Chossudovksy points out in his forthcoming book Towards A World War III Scenario, is that the Arab regimes are being reinforced and tooled up by Washington as part of its war plan in the region towards Iran and beyond.

So the notion that Washington is painstakingly trying to cajole the Bahraini regime (or any other regime) to enact democratic reforms is a crass delusion. Indeed, any moves by the Bahraini people to establish democracy on their island must be choked off. And from the massive amounts of teargas being fired into homes, it is evident that Washington’s minion in the Gulf is following those orders exactly to the letter.

Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent

[email protected]  


[1] Bahrain: Car Bomb in Capital Follows Appointment of American and British Police Chiefs to Lead ‘Reforms’  

[2] John Timoney, America’s Worst Cop  

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected round the world.” (President Barack Obama, State of the Union address, 24th January 2012.)

On the 24th January, the day President Obama delivered his last State of the Union speech to Congress before the election, citing the: “selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces (their) focus on the mission at hand”, the “selfless” Staff Sgt., Frank Wuterich, leader of the massacre at Haditha, in Iraq, became the seventh soldier to walk free – from the mass murder of twenty four unarmed men, women and children, in three homes and a taxi.

It was another chilling, ruthless, cold blooded, up to five hour rampage, revenge for the death a colleague, in a roadside bomb – which had nothing to do with the rural families that paid the price.

The youngest to die was one year, the oldest was seventy six year old, wheelchair-bound amputee, Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali. He died with nine rounds in the chest and abdomen.

Other children who died were aged 3,4,5,8,10 and 14.

On May 9th 2007, Sergeant Sanick De la Cruz received immunity from prosecution in return for testimony in which he said that he had watched Wuterich shoot five Iraqis attempting to surrender. He further stated that he and Wuterich had further fired in to the dead bodies – and that he had urinated on one of the dead Iraqis.

“Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed (US troops) example”, pondered the President in his speech – in a week which worldwide revulsion was expressed at a video of Marines, allegedly with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, urinating on dead bodies in Afghanistan.

It was, of course:“behaviour … not in keeping with the values of the US Armed Forces … not consistent with out core values (or) indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps”, said a Defence Department spokeswoman.(i).

Ross Caputi – a former Marine who took part in another massacre, Falluja, exactly a year before Haditha, was sickened at what he saw and experienced, and now campaigns tirelessly for Iraq and for reparation for Falluja – disputes the Defence Department’s sunny view of “core values.

”These attitudes are common in the Marine Corps. The guys who peed on the poor dead Afghans were not ‘bad apples’, they were average Marines”, Caputi told this publication. For his outspokenness, Caputi has received such volume of chilling and obscene threats from former colleagues and US Service personnel (seen by the writer) that they stand testimony to his words.

As Afghanistan,the litany of Iraq’s blood-lettings are silent witness to “core values” of an altogether different kind. In an expression disturbingly mirroring “cleansed”, homes are “cleared.” Grenades are thrown in and then troops storm in, automatic rifles (and more grenades) blazing.

A description of the assault on one Haditha home, from a Lt. William T. Kallop records:

“The Marines cleared it the way they had been trained to clear it, which is frags (grenades)first … It was clear just by the looks of the room that frags went in and then the house was prepped and sprayed like, with a machine gun, and then they went in. And by the looks of it, they just … they went in, cleared to room, everybody was down.” (ii)

“Most of the shots … were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed in to walls or floors.” (iii)

As Marjorie Cohn’s meticulous, eye watering piece (see iii) points out, days after the mass murders at Haditha became public: “US forces killed eleven civilians, after rounding them up in a room in a house in Ishaqi”, in Salahuddin Province. All were handcuffed (presumably not the six month old) and executed. They were:

Turkiya Muhammed Ali, 75 years

Faiza Harat Khalaf, 30 years Faiz Harat Khalaf, 28 years

Um Ahmad, 23 years

Sumaya Abdulrazak, 22 years

Aziz Khalil Jarmoot, 22 years

Hawra Harat Khalaf, 5 years

Asma Yousef Maruf, 5 years

Osama Yousef Maruf, 3 years

Aisha Harat Khalaf, 3 years

Husam Harat Khalaf, 6 months

“A report by the US military found no wrongdoing by the US soldiers”, writes Professor Cohen.

There are Falluja’s football fields of mass graves, Najav’s hotel and hospital parks, turned graveyards, the pathetic uncounted ones in gardens, in yards, the lost buried in the family home, across Iraq, by families who would be also shot if they ventured with their beloved, to the cemetery.

In Falluja, reminiscent of other historic “cleansings”, categorized war crimes, men between fifteen and fifty five were forbidden to leave or enter their city.

Iraqi families shot in their cars by US service personnel are beyond counting – and indeed have not been: “It is not productive to count Iraqi deaths”, as the inimitable General Kimmit reminded the world.

Deaths included the family of Ali Abbas, by rogue US missiles, in the residential Zafaraniya suburb of Baghdad, with its evocative Convent and ancient Catholic church. Ali lost his pregnant mother, father, brother and thirteen other family members. He also lost his arms. He was twelve years old.

Allegations of summary executions have emerged from Tel Afar, whose blood drenched toddler, her parents shot by troops in their car, remains a never to be erased image; Samarra, Quaim, Taal al Jal, Mukaradeeb, Hamdaniya, Ramadi, Tikrit, Mosul – and throughout the country.

In Mahmudiya, in 2008, fourteen year old Abeer Quasim Hamza, was gang raped then killed by five US servicemen – after they had murdered her mother, Fakriyah (34) father Qasim (45) and six year old sister. All were burned in an attempt to cover the crime. There were two convictions.

And never forget Abu Ghraib.

Long forgotten are the wedding and funeral massacres, a particular target for the US military, a litany. One, early in the invasion, was just a month after the first Falluja onslaught.

On 19th May 2004 forty six people celebrating a wedding in Mugrideeb village were mown down by assault helicopters, other attack planes and Marines.

USMC Major General James Mattis at the time simply commented: “How many people go to the middle of the desert to celebrate a wedding …?” He later said that it had taken him thirty seconds to decide to attack.

Eman Khammas of Iraq Occupation Watch braved the dangerous road out to the village as soon as she heard. She found carnage – and remains of the musicians’ instruments, decorations, pots, sacks of rice, improvised bread ovens, sacks filled with leftovers for the animals – all who had been shot – and surviving eyewitnesses.

There were blood stained toys, clothes, childrens’ hair slides, camera batteries. The family were sheep traders. Khammas recalled:

“The ground was full of bullets holes of different sizes, spots of blood every where, some a meter wide. In some of them the remains of human flesh were drying in the sun. . . . In one of these remains there was a long black lock still attached to the flesh. I could not see any more. I ran away back to the demolished house.”

Those mown down, of the Rakaad Naif family, as they celebrated were:

1. Mohammad Rekaad, 28

2. Ahmed Rekaad, 26

3. Talib Rekaad, 27

4. Mizhir Rekaad, 20

5. Daham Rekaad, 17

6. Saad Mohammad Rekaad

7. Marifa Obeid, Rekaad’s wife

8. Fatima Madhi, Rekaad’s daughter in law

9. Raad Ahmed, grandson, 3

10. Ra’id Ahmed, grandson, 2

11. Wa’ad Ahmed, grandson, 1 month

12. Inad Mohammad, grandson, 6

13. Anood Mohammad, granddaughter, 5

14. Amal Rekaad, daughter, 30

15. Anood Talib, granddaughter, 2

16. Kholood Talib, granddaughter, 6 months

17. Hamid Monif, son in law, 22

18. Somayia Nawaf, wife, 50

19. Siham Rekaad, daughter, 18

20. Hamda Suleiman, wife, 45

21. Rabha Rekaad daughter, 16

22. Zahra Rekaad daughter,15

23. Fatima Rekaad daughter, 4

24. Ali Rekaad son, 12

25. Hamza Rekaad, 6

Five from a family called Garaghool also died, thirteen of the band and three photographic crew. Forty six, mown down for celebrating a wedding..

Kholood, 8 months, Sabha, 22, Iqbal 14, Mouza, 12, Feisal and Adil (children, ages unknown) were hospitalized.

There were no prosecutions.

General Mark Kimmit, questioned on the liquidation of the party goers – the dead womens gold also torn from their necks by the troops, according to consistent survivors accounts – simply replied: “Bad people have parties too.” Asked about the near countless other acts of carnage, he responded:

“Change the channel.”

As the cost in Iraqi lives at the hands of US troops briefly hits the headlines again, some of the names that are known, in the perhaps 1.7 million lost, should be remembered. They are not “collateral damage” or “regrettable incidents”, each one is a unique human being, often a small, fledgling one.

In Haditha the victims were:

House One:

1. Abdul Hameed Hassin Ali, 76.

2. Khamisa Tuma Ali, 66, wife of Abdul.

3. Rashid Abdul Hamid, 30.

4. Walid Abdul Hamid Hassan, 35.

5. Jahid Abdul Hamid Hassan, middle aged.

6. Asma Salman Rasif, 32.

7. Abdullah Walid, 4.

Injured: Iman, 8 and Abdul Rahman, 5.

Escaped: Daughter-in-law, Hiba, with 2 month old Asia.

House Two:

8. Younis Salim Khalfif, 43.

9. Aida Yasin Ahmed, wife of Younis Salim, died shielding her youngest daughter, Aisha.

10. Muhammad Younis Salim, 10, son.

11. Noor Younis Salim, 14, daughter.

12. Sabaa Younis Salim, 10, daughter.

13. Zainabl Younis Salim, 5, daughter.

14. Aisha Younis Salim, 3, daughter.

15. One year old girl staying with the family.

Survived: Safa Younis Salim, 13, who pretended to be dead.

House Three:

16. Ajamal Ahmed, 41.

17. Marwan Ahmed, 28.

18. Qahtan Ahmed, 24.

19. Chasib Ahmed, 27. Brothers.

Taxi: Passengers were students at the Technical Institute in Saqlawiyah:

20 Ahmed Khadir, taxi driver.

21.Ahram Hamid Flayeh.

22.Khalid Ayada al-Zawi

23.Wajdi Ayada al-Zawri

24.Mohammad Battal Mahmoud.

Lance Corporal Roel Ryan Briones, who, seemingly, was not involved, was ordered to photograph the bodies. He picked up a little girl, shot in the head. The contents of her small skull spilled out on to his trousers. “I need immediate help”, he said.

What of help for then thirteen year old Safa, pretending to be dead amongst her family’s bodies. Of Hiba, lone survivor of her home, and her now six year old daughter?

What of the heroic Taher Thabet al-Hadithi, young journalist and human rights activist, who filmed every minute, bloody detail the following day, and amassed the truth of what had really happened, as the Defence Department were busy trying to cover their tracks? He fled to Syria in fear of his own life expectancy, should the US military learn of his evidence.

It was his witness materials that made its way in to Time magazine, engendering an “inquiry.” Evidence that was indisputable..

The reaction of Major General Steve Johnson, Commander of US Forces in the Province was salutary: “It happened all the time … it was just the cost of doing business …”

Routine massacres.

“The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe”, said President Obama, concluding his address, citing : “… the enduring power of our moral example … tyranny is no match for liberty.”

On the wall of the deserted house of one of the Haditha families, silent witness to this “moral example”, is written: “Democracy assassinated the family that was here.”





As we all know only too well, the United States and Israel would hate to see Iran possessing nuclear weapons. Being “the only nuclear power in the Middle East” is a great card for Israel to have in its hand. But — in the real, non-propaganda world — is USrael actually fearful of an attack from a nuclear-armed Iran? In case you’ve forgotten …

In 2007, in a closed discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that in her opinion “Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel.” She “also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears.” 1

2009: “A senior Israeli official in Washington” asserted that “Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation.” 2

In 2010 the Sunday Times of London (January 10) reported that Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, war hero, pillar of the Israeli defense establishment, and former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, “believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons.”

Early last month, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a television audience: “Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.” 3

A week later we could read in the New York Times (January 15) that “three leading Israeli security experts — the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz — all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel.”

Then, a few days afterward, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio (January 18), had this exchange:

Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?

Barak: People ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case.

Lastly, we have the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in a report to Congress: “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons. … There are “certain things [the Iranians] have not done” that would be necessary to build a warhead. 4

Admissions like the above — and there are others — are never put into headlines by the American mass media; indeed, only very lightly reported at all; and sometimes distorted — On the Public Broadcasting System (PBS News Hour, January 9), the non-commercial network much beloved by American liberals, the Panetta quote above was reported as: “But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us.” Flagrantly omitted were the preceding words: “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No …” 5

One of Israel’s leading military historians, Martin van Creveld, was interviewed by Playboy magazine in June 2007:

Playboy: Can the World live with a nuclear Iran?

Van Creveld: The U.S. has lived with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear China, so why not a nuclear Iran? I’ve researched how the U.S. opposed nuclear proliferation in the past, and each time a country was about to proliferate, the U.S. expressed its opposition in terms of why this other country was very dangerous and didn’t deserve to have nuclear weapons. Americans believe they’re the only people who deserve to have nuclear weapons, because they are good and democratic and they like Mother and apple pie and the flag. But Americans are the only ones who have used them. … We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us. We cannot say so too openly, however, because we have a history of using any threat in order to get weapons … thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany.”

And throughout these years, regularly, Israeli and American officials have been assuring us that Iran is World Nuclear Threat Number One, that we can’t relax our guard against them, that there should be no limit to the ultra-tough sanctions we impose upon the Iranian people and their government. Repeated murder and attempted murder of Iraqi nuclear scientists, sabotage of Iranian nuclear equipment with computer viruses, the sale of faulty parts and raw materials, unexplained plane crashes, explosions at Iranian facilities … Who can be behind this but USrael? How do we know? It’s called “plain common sense”. Or do you think it was Costa Rica? Or perhaps South Africa? Or maybe Thailand?

Defense Secretary Panetta recently commented on one of the assassinations of an Iranian scientist. He put it succinctly: “That’s not what the United States does.”6

Does anyone know Leon Panetta’s email address? I’d like to send him my list of United States assassination plots. More than 50 foreign leaders were targeted over the years, many successfully. 7

Not long ago, Iraq and Iran were regarded by USrael as the most significant threats to Israeli Middle-East hegemony. Thus was born the myth of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the United States proceeded to turn Iraq into a basket case. That left Iran, and thus was born the myth of the Iranian Nuclear Threat. As it began to sink in that Iran was not really that much of a nuclear threat, or that this “threat” was becoming too difficult to sell to the rest of the world, USrael decided that, at a minimum, it wanted regime change. The next step may be to block Iran’s lifeline — oil sales using the Strait of Hormuz. Ergo, the recent US and EU naval buildup near the Persian Gulf, an act of war trying to goad Iran into firing the first shot. If Iran tries to counter this blockade it could be the signal for another US Basket Case, the fourth in a decade, with the devastated people of Libya and Afghanistan, along with Iraq, currently enjoying America’s unique gift of freedom and democracy.

On January 11, the Washington Post reported: “In addition to influencing Iranian leaders directly, [a US intelligence official] says another option here is that [sanctions] will create hate and discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways.”

How utterly charming, these tactics and goals for the 21st century by the leader of “The Free World”. (Is that expression still used?)

The neo-conservative thinking (and Barack Obama can be regarded as often being a fellow traveler of such) is even more charming than that. Listen to Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at America’s most prominent neo-con think tank, American Enterprise Institute:

The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately.” … And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem. 8

What are we to make of that and all the other quotations above? I think it gets back to my opening statement: Being “the only nuclear power in the Middle East” is a great card for Israel to have in its hand. Is USrael willing to go to war to hold on to that card?

Please tell me again … What is the war in Afghanistan about?

With the US war in Iraq supposedly having reached a good conclusion (or halfway decent … or better than nothing … or let’s get the hell out of here while some of us are still in one piece and there are some Iraqis we haven’t yet killed), the best and the brightest in our government and media turn their thoughts to what to do about Afghanistan. It appears that no one seems to remember, if they ever knew, that Afghanistan was not really about 9-11 or fighting terrorists (except the many the US has created by its invasion and occupation), but was about pipelines.

President Obama declared in August 2009: “But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.” 9

Never mind that out of the tens of thousands of people the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001.

Never mind that the “plotting to attack America” in 2001 was devised in Germany and Spain and the United States more than in Afghanistan. Why hasn’t the United States bombed those countries?

Indeed, what actually was needed to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? A room with some chairs? What does “an even larger safe haven” mean? A larger room with more chairs? Perhaps a blackboard? Terrorists intent upon attacking the United States can meet almost anywhere, with Afghanistan probably being one of the worst places for them, given the American occupation.

The only “necessity” that drew the United States to Afghanistan was the desire to establish a military presence in this land that is next door to the Caspian Sea region of Central Asia — which reportedly contains the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world — and build oil and gas pipelines from that region running through Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is well situated for oil and gas pipelines to serve much of south Asia, pipelines that can bypass those not-yet Washington clients, Iran and Russia. If only the Taliban would not attack the lines. Here’s Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, in 2007: “One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between South and Central Asia so that energy can flow to the south.” 10

Since the 1980s all kinds of pipelines have been planned for the area, only to be delayed or canceled by one military, financial or political problem or another. For example, the so-called TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) had strong support from Washington, which was eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran. TAPI goes back to the late 1990s, when the Taliban government held talks with the California-based oil company Unocal Corporation. These talks were conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration, and were undeterred by the extreme repression of Taliban society. Taliban officials even made trips to the United States for discussions. 11 Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on February 12, 1998, Unocal representative John Maresca discussed the importance of the pipeline project and the increasing difficulties in dealing with the Taliban:

The region’s total oil reserves may well reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels … From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, leaders, and our company.

When those talks stalled in July, 2001 the Bush administration threatened the Taliban with military reprisals if the government did not go along with American demands. The talks finally broke down for good the following month, a month before 9-11.

The United States has been serious indeed about the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf oil and gas areas. Through one war or another beginning with the Gulf War of 1990-1, the US has managed to establish military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The war against the Taliban can’t be “won” short of killing everyone in Afghanistan. The United States may well try again to negotiate some form of pipeline security with the Taliban, then get out, and declare “victory”. Barack Obama can surely deliver an eloquent victory speech from his teleprompter. It might even include the words “freedom” and “democracy”, but certainly not “pipeline”.

Love me, love me, love me, I’m a Liberal (Thank you, Phil Ochs. We miss you.)

Angela Davis, star of the 1960s, like most members of the Communist Party, was/is no more radical than the average American liberal. Here she is recently addressing Occupy Wall Street: “When I said that we need a third party, a radical party, I was projecting toward the future. We cannot allow a Republican to take office. … Don’t we remember what it was like when Bush was president?” 11

Yes, Angela, we remember that time well. How can we forget it since Bush, by all important standards, is still in the White House? Waging perpetual war, relentless surveillance of the citizenry, kissing the corporate ass, police brutality? … What’s changed? Except for the worse. Where’s our single-payer national health insurance? Nothing even close. Where’s our affordable university education? Still the most backward in the “developed” world. Where’s our legalized marijuana — I mean really legalized? If you think that’s changed, you must be stoned. Where’s our abortion on demand? What does your guy Barack think about that? Are the indispensable labor unions being rescued from oblivion? Ha! The ultra-important minimum wage? Inflation adjusted, equal to the mid-1950s.

Has the American threat to the environment and the world environmental movement ceased? Tell that to a dedicated activist-internationalist. Has the 50-year-old embargo against Cuba finally ended? It has not, and I can still not go there legally. The police-state War on Terror at home? Scarcely a month goes by without the FBI entrapping some young “terrorists”. Are more Banksters and Wall Street Society-Screwers (except for the harmless insider-traders) being imprisoned? Name one. The really tough regulations of the financial area so badly needed? Keep waiting. How about executives of the BP Oil Spill Company being arrested? Or war criminals, mass murderers, and torturers with names like … Oh, I don’t know, let’s see … maybe like Cheney or Bush or Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz or someone with a crazy name like Condoleezza? All walking completely free, all celebrated.

“A major decline of progressive America occurred during the Clinton years as many liberals and their organizations accepted the presence of a Democratic president as an adequate substitute for the things liberals once believed in. Liberalism and a social democratic spirit painfully grown over the previous 60 years withered during the Clinton administration.” — Sam Smith 12

“A change of Presidents is like a change of advertising campaigns for a soft drink; the product itself still tastes the same, but it now has a new ‘image’.” — Richard K. Moore


  1. (Israel), October 25, 2007; print edition October 26
  2. Washington Post, March 5, 2009
  3. “Face the Nation”, CBS, January 8, 2012; see video
  4. The Guardian (London), January 31, 2012″
  5. “PBS’s Dishonest Iran Edit”, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), January 10, 2012
  6. Reuters, January 12, 2012
  8. Video of Pletka making these remarks
  9. Talk given by the president at Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, August 17, 2009
  10. Talk at the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC, September 20, 2007
  11. See, for example, the December 17, 1997 article in the British newspaper, The Telegraph, “Oil barons court Taliban in Texas“. For further discussion of the TAPI pipeline and related issues, see this article by international petroleum engineer John Foster.
  12. Washington Post, January 15, 2012
  13. Sam Smith was a longtime publisher and journalist in Washington, DC, now living in Maine. Subscribe to his marvelous newsletter, the Progressive Review.

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at

Damascus, Jan 30 (Prensa Latina) The Syrian Human Rights Network (SHRN) criticized the Arab League (AL) for suspending the mission of observers, only because it showed objectivity and neutrality.

In a statement published on local media on Monday, the SHRN urged to take into account the reports on human rights and that from the observers at any roundtable discussion on the Syrian case.

It stated that the main guarantee to find a solution to the crisis must come from within Syria.

After the AL Ministerial Council agreed to extend the mission of observers in Syria, and the head of its Operations Office on Friday even denounced that 30 observers will travel to Damascus this week to reinforce it, the general secretary of that regional organization unexpectedly announced on January 28 the cancellation of the mission.

Immediately, the Syrian government warned that Nabil El-Arabi’s decision is in tune with the boycott carried out by oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf, led by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to create an atmosphere unfavorable to Syria in the roundtable discussions taking place at the UN Security Council.

The SHRN also condemned the attacks on Syrian delegations in Cairo, as well as the vandalistic action against the Syrian Embassy in Egypt by individuals linked to the so-called Council of Istanbul, which proves its relation with the terrorists.

The non-governmental organization urged opposition groups abroad to stop talking on behalf of the Syrian people, because they are not their legitimate representatives.