Trump verso il G-Nato di Taormina

May 24th, 2017 by Manlio Dinucci

Il presidente Trump, dopo essere stato in Arabia Saudita e Israele, domani è in visita a Roma, per poi andare il 25 al Summit Nato di Bruxelles e tornare in Italia il 26-27 per il G7 di Taormina e la visita alla base Usa/Nato di Sigonella. Quali sono gli scopi del suo primo viaggio all’estero? Principalmente tre, spiega il generale McMaster, consigliere del presidente per la sicurezza nazionale: lanciare un «messaggio di unità» a musulmani, ebrei e cristiani; costruire relazioni con i leader mondiali e proiettare la potenza americana all’estero. La visita a Roma è la terza tappa di quello che viene descritto come un «pellegrinaggio religioso nei luoghi santi delle tre grandi religioni». Il «pellegrino» ha iniziato il viaggio firmando a Riyadh l’accordo per la vendita all’Arabia Saudita di armi Usa per il valore di 110 miliardi di dollari, che si aggiungono a quelle già fornite dal presidente Obama per il valore di 115 miliardi. Armi impiegate, tra l’altro, nella guerra della coalizione a guida saudita, sostenuta dagli Usa, che fa strage di civili nello Yemen. Al «Summit arabo islamico americano» del 21 maggio a Riyadh, Trump ha chiamato a un rinnovato impegno contro il terrorismo l’Arabia Saudita e le altre monarchie del Golfo, ossia quelle che hanno finanziato e armato l’Isis e altri gruppi terroristi nelle operazioni sotto regia Usa/Nato, dalla Libia alla Siria e all’Iraq. In questa grande «battaglia tra il Bene e il Male», Trump include Hezbollah e Hamas nella lista dei «barbari criminali», insieme a Isis e Al Qaeda. Denuncia l’Iran di essere responsabile della instabilità del Medioriente, accusandolo di «finanziare, armare e addestrare terroristi e milizie che seminano distruzione e caos nella regione», di destabilizzare la Siria dove «Assad, sostenuto dall’Iran, ha commesso crimini indicibili». Una vera e propria dichiarazione di guerra all’Iran, che annulla di fatto gli accordi conclusi, massimamente gradita in Israele. Qui il presidente Usa è in visita il 22-23 maggio per rafforzare la cooperazione strategica. E mentre nelle carceri israeliane è in corso da 40 giorni lo sciopero della fame di migliaia di prigionieri politici palestinesi, Trump incontra Mahmoud Abbas per «sollecitare i leader palestinesi a fare passi costruttivi verso la pace». Portando questo «messaggio di unità», Trump discuterà con papa Francesco, domani a Roma, «una serie di questioni di mutuo interesse». Dopo l’incontro col presidente Mattarella, che ribadirà l’«ancoraggio storico» dell’Italia agli Stati uniti, Trump parteciperà al Summit Nato di Bruxelles. Qui sosterrà il piano del Pentagono per l’Europa (il manifesto, 9 maggio), ossia l’escalation militare Usa in Europa e il rafforzamento della Nato a fronte di «una Russia risorgente, che cerca di minare l’ordine internazionale a guida occidentale». Piano che Trump deve eseguire, rimangiandosi la sua affermazione di una «Nato obsoleta» e la sua promessa elettorale di aprire una trattativa con Mosca: pende infatti sulla sua testa la spada di Damocle dell’impeachment, con l’accusa di connivenza col nemico. Dal Summit Nato, Trump andrà al G7 formato dai sei maggiori paesi della Nato – Stati uniti, Canada, Germania, Gran Bretagna, Francia e Italia – più il Giappone, il principale alleato Usa/Nato nella regione Asia/Pacifico, dove il Pentagono schiera crescenti forze anche nucleari contro «una Cina aggressiva e una Russia revanscista». Il presidente degli Stati uniti visiterà infine la limitrofa stazione aeronavale di Sigonella, principale base delle guerre aperte e coperte Usa/Nato in Medioriente e Nordafrica, presentate quale «proiezione di stabilità nel Mediterraneo».

Manlio Dinucci

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UK police state laws already are some of Europe’s most draconian before Monday’s Manchester blast, including the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act, eviscerating longstanding legal protections.

Perhaps tougher legislation is coming. Following an emergency meeting, Prime Minister Theresa May acted as expected – elevating Britain’s threat level from severe to critical.

Claiming another attack “may be imminent” is part of her fear-mongering strategy, an effort to convince Brits they’ll be safer by sacrificing fundamental freedoms.

The opposite is true.

Thousands of UK armed forces personnel are being deployed in key public areas, Britain turned into an armed camp – perhaps permanently.

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More armed police are expected to be in evidence at high-profile venues (Source: ITV.com)

So-called Operation Temperer came in January 2015, following the Paris Charlie Hebdo and kosher market false flags.

It authorizes deployment of thousands of soldiers to “augment armed police officers engaged in protective security duties” in key UK areas.

Other European countries have similar plans to guard against alleged terror threats, Britain and the continent becoming armed camps, democratic rights disappearing in plain sight.

Incidents like Manchester, Charlie Hebdo, the July 2016 Nice, France false flag ISIS claimed responsibility for, others in Europe, and similar ones in America are used to enforce police state harshness – deception to convince ordinary people to accept what harms their fundamental rights and welfare.

ISIS claiming responsibility for Manchester and similar incidents is part of the deception. Claims without verifiable proof are baseless.

Anyone can claim anything for any reason and make it appear credible when it’s not.

For now, a Manchester police witch hunt is ongoing to round up convenient patsies, possibly connected to suspected “bomber” Salman Abedi.

Perishing in Monday’s blast, he’ll tell no tales, the official account alone reported – no witnesses or others so far available to refute it.

Skepticism is always warranted about government actions that harm the rights and welfare of ordinary people while claiming otherwise.

The Manchester tragedy occurred ahead of Britain’s June 8 snap elections with Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn narrowing Theresa May’s lead.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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In an initial public statement issued on their website, the RSPO’s Complaints Panel (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) condemned Plantaciones de Pucallpa (PdP) for its destruction of primary forests in violation of the RSPO’s code of practice. The RSPO’s findings come despite PdP’s withdrawal from the membership in October 2016. A full report from the complaints panel addressing the human rights impacts is still forthcoming.

The RSPO Complaints Panel has found Plantaciones de Pucallpa (PdP) (Peru) to be in breach of RSPO Code and Conduct and RSPO Principles and Criteria (RSPO P & C) during its membership period from 14 October 2013 to 12 October 2016.”

After over a year of deliberation and an independent satellite analysis commissioned by the RSPO, the Complaints Panel concurred with the complaint filed in December 2015 by the Shipibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya that PdP had deforested over 5000 hectares of forests, including primary forests.

In so doing, it had failed to comply with RSPO’s restrictions on the conversion of primary forests to plantations, measures to address risks to forests considered of High Conservation Value (HCV) and requirements to disclose all information about planting and conversion plans to the RSPO and affected communities.

The Complaints Panel rarely issues rulings after companies have withdrawn from membership of the RSPO. However, in this case the Complaints Panel found that there was

“clear evidence that compensation liability would have been incurred,” but notes that “these findings and decision are of moral and persuasive value only, and cannot be enforced in light of Plantaciones de Pucallpa’s resignation as a RSPO member.”

Peruvian government law enforcers and community representatives document continued and illegal deforestation in lands of Shipibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya by Peruvian palm oil company Ochosur Sac (ex Plantaciones de Pucallpa). FECONAU

Since its operations began in Shipibo territory, the operations of PdP, whose owners have created a new company called Ochosur SAC since leaving the RSPO, have been enveloped in controversy. Despite successive rulings, fines and suspensions on the part of different Peruvian government agencies, the operations continue and in recent weeks community members have reported further forest destruction to expand the plantation and more death threats.

One community member, Huber Flores Rodriguez, whose house and farm border the plantation, has recently reported [1] several incidents where he has been accosted at night by groups of men threatening him and his family if they didn’t abandon their house. Mr. Flores claims that these include individuals with close ties to the palm oil company and a local land trafficking mafia connected with the regional Ministry of Agriculture [2]. In February 2017, Mr Flores formally filed a request for physical guarantees from the Interior Ministry, but to date there has been no response.

Carlos Soria, head of the community of Santa Clara de Uchunya said: 

“We are practically living under siege in our own territory. Almost every day there is more expansion of the plantation and anyone who challenges them is threatened. Our lands are still untitled and the plantations continue to operate. It seems that they are growing bolder seeing that the government is doing nothing. Do we have to die like Edwin Chota before they do anything? Where are we supposed to live? If our home is destroyed what hope for us and our future generations?”

Robert Guimaraes the President of FECONAU added:

“After a year of deliberation the RSPO has determined that Plantaciones de Pucallpa destroyed primary forests and compensation should be paid. But what are our own authorities doing? There are lawsuits that were filed by the community almost three years ago that remain unresolved, the government ordered the suspension of the operations almost two years ago but the plantations and destructions continue to expand and the community and its allies are subjected to increasing aggression and threats while their lands remain untitled. Yet at the same time the government is receiving millions of dollars from the Norwegians, the Germans and the World Bank for its programme to protect Peru’s forests and title indigenous territories. What will it take for the government to finally step up and meet its promises to protect Peru’s forests and our rights as indigenous peoples?”

Conrad Feather from Forest Peoples Programme notes:

“We welcome the RSPO’s initial resolution and await the findings on the requirements to respect indigenous peoples’ customary land rights. However, what hope of justice or redress for communities if companies can neutralise a complaint simply by resigning? The RSPO must address this if it is to have any credibility in Latin America.”

Notes

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCY3_7LOBG4

[2] In 2015 some of the individuals threatening Mr Flores had been issued with ‘certificates of possession’ within the lands of Santa Clara de Uchunya by the regional Ministry of Agriculture which subsequently had to be annulled after an investigation by environmental prosecutors exposed that they had been issued fraudulently. See this link for more information: http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/rights-land-natural-resources/news/2016/05/peruvian-environmental-prosecutor-documents-planta 

*     *     *

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a not-for-profit association composed of stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry – oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs – to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. It was formed in 2004 in response to the urgent and pressing global call for sustainably produced palm oil. Producers of palm oil who are members must comply with its Principles, criteria and procedures and can subsequently secure certification of their product. There is a complaints panel that processes complaints presented by those affected by the actions of its members. The complaint mechanism is an essential element of a conflict resolution system and framework for accountability which the RSPO requires in order to ensure trust in its trademark.

For more information see: http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/responsible-finance/private-sector/palm-oil-rspo

The complaint and the subsequent evidence submitted included incontrovertible evidence that PdP had violated numerous RSPO’s procedures and principles including amongst others: The failure to respect the customary land rights of Santa Clara (2.2, 2.3, 6.3, 7.5) and its rights to  FPIC  (2.2, 2.3, 6.3, 7.5), the failure to conduct an EIA (5.1,7.1) or secure any of the required government authorizations (2.1), the failure to conduct participatory mapping or any adequate due diligence (2.2, 2.3, 7.5) and the failure to observe the principle of no clearance of primary forest (7.1).

Plantaciones de Pucallpa was ordered by the Peruvian government in September 2015 to suspend all its operations. Further government investigations in May 2016 highlighted a failure to comply with this order and they did not even allow access to environmental prosecutors triggering fines of over $150,000.

In April 2015 the RSPO issued a stop work order to Plantaciones de Pucallpa based on the complaint filed by Santa Clara de Uchunya.

In 2010 Peru adopted a pledge to secure net zero deforestation by 2020 which has now been backed by international donors including a $300 million accord with the governments of Norway and Germany. Current estimates of deforestation however have been rising rapidly. In 2015 annual rates of deforestation in Peru’s Amazon rose rapidly to over 150,000 hectares.

Featured image: Gestion.pe

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As suspected and as was the case in virtually all recent terror attacks carried out in Europe – including both in France and Belgium – the suspect involved in the recent Manchester blast which killed 22 and injured scores more was previously known to British security and intelligence agencies.

The Telegraph in its article, “Salman Abedi named as the Manchester suicide bomber – what we know about him,” would report:

Salman Abedi (image on the right, source: LDR), 22, who was reportedly known to the security services, is thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week.

While initial reports attempted to craft a narrative focused on a a “lone wolf” attacker who organized and executed the blast himself, the nature of the improvised explosive device used and the details of the attack revealed what was certainly an operation carried out by someone who either acquired militant experience through direct contact with a terrorist organization, or was directed by a terrorist organization with extensive experience.

A Thriving Terrorist Community in the Midst of Manchester 

The same Telegraph article would also admit (emphasis added):

A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range.

Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a father-of-four from Manchester, who left Britain to run a terrorist network in Libya overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of al-Qaeda. 

Azzouz, 48, an expert bomb-maker, was accused of running an al-Qaeda network in eastern Libya. The Telegraph reported in 2014 that Azzouz had 200 to 300 militants under his control and was an expert in bomb-making. 

Another member of the Libyan community in Manchester, Salah Aboaoba told Channel 4 news in 2011 that he had been fund raising for LIFG while in the city. Aboaoba had claimed he had raised funds at Didsbury mosque, the same mosque attended by Abedi.

Thus, the required experience for the recent Manchester attack exists in abundance within the community’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) members.

LIFG is in fact a proscribed terrorist group listed as such by the United Kingdom’s government in 2005, and still appears upon its list of “Proscribed terrorist groups or organisations,” found on the government’s own website.
The accompanying government list (PDF) states explicitly regarding LIFG that:

The LIFG seeks to replace the current Libyan regime with a hard-line Islamic state. The group is also part of the wider global Islamist extremist movement, as inspired by Al Qa’ida. The group has mounted several operations inside Libya, including a 1996 attempt to assassinate Mu’ammar Qadhafi.

Thus, astoundingly, according to the Telegraph, a thriving community of listed terrorists exists knowingly in the midst of the British public, without any intervention by the UK government, security, or intelligence agencies – with members regularly travelling abroad and participating in armed conflict and terrorist activities before apparently returning home – not only without being incarcerated, but apparently also without even being closely monitored.

LIFG also appears on the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Astoundingly, it appears under a section titled, “Delisted Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” and indicates that it was removed as recently as 2015.
Elsewhere on the US State Department’s website, is a 2012 report where LIFG is described:

On November 3, 2007, [Al Qaeda (AQ)] leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced a formal merger between AQ and LIFG. However, on July 3, 2009, LIFG members in the United Kingdom released a statement formally disavowing any association with AQ.

The report also makes mention of LIFG’s role in US-led NATO regime change operations in Libya in 2011 (emphasis added):

In early 2011, in the wake of the Libyan revolution and the fall of Qadhafi, LIFG members created the LIFG successor group, the Libyan Islamic Movement for Change (LIMC), and became one of many rebel groups united under the umbrella of the opposition leadership known as the Transitional National Council. Former LIFG emir and LIMC leader Abdel Hakim Bil-Hajj was appointed the Libyan Transitional Council’s Tripoli military commander during the Libyan uprisings and has denied any link between his group and AQ.

Indeed, a literal senior Al Qaeda-affiliate leader would head the regime put into power by US-led military operations – which included British forces.

Sen. McCain with a terrorist leader (Source: LDR)

Not only this, but prominent US politicians would even travel to Libya to personally offer support to Bil-Hajj (also spelled Belhaj). In one notorious image, US Senator John McCain is seen shaking hands with and offering a gift to the terrorist leader in the wake of the Libyan government’s collapse.

The US State Department’s report regarding LIFG ends with information about its “area of operation,” claiming (emphasis added):

Since the late 1990s, many members have fled to southwest Asia, and European countries, particularly the UK.

For the residents of Manchester, the British government appears to have categorically failed to inform them of the threat living openly in their midst. While the British population is divided and distracted with a more general strategy of tension focused on Islam, Muslims, and Islamophobia, the very specific threat of US-UK sanctioned terrorists living and operating within British communities is overlooked by the public.

However – for British security and intelligence agencies – it is unlikely that such an obvious security threat was merely “overlooked.” That extremists thrive within British communities without government intervention indicates complicity, not incompetence.

LIFG Terrorists Are Anglo-America’s Helping Hands

The Guardian in a 2011 article titled, “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – from al-Qaida to the Arab spring,” would claim:

British intelligence and security service interest in Libya has focused for 20 years on the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), whether it was opposing Muammar Gaddafi and working with al-Qaida, later renouncing its old jihadi worldview – or taking part in the armed uprising that has now overthrown the regime.

The article in reality is nothing more than an attempt to portray a listed terrorist organization as “reformed” ahead of increased public awareness regarding the true nature of Libya’s US and British-backed “rebels.”

LIFG members would not only assist the US and British governments in the 2011 overthrow of the Libyan government, they would also move on – with Western arms and cash – to NATO-member Turkey where they staged an invasion of northern Syria.

The Telegraph in a November 2011 article titled, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:

Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”

The article would continue by reporting:

The meetings came as a sign of a growing ties between Libya’s fledgling government and the Syrian opposition. The Daily Telegraph on Saturday revealed that the new Libyan authorities had offered money and weapons to the growing insurgency against Bashar al-Assad

Mr Belhaj also discussed sending Libyan fighters to train troops, the source said. Having ousted one dictator, triumphant young men, still filled with revolutionary fervour, are keen to topple the next. The commanders of armed gangs still roaming Tripoli’s streets said yesterday that “hundreds” of fighters wanted to wage war against the Assad regime. 

Revealed once again is a convenient intersection of terrorist and US-British interests – this time in pursuit of regime change in Syria in the wake of successful US-UK backed regime change in Libya.

Confirming that these plans to send Libyan extremists to fight in Syria were eventually executed is CNN’s 2012 article, “Libya rebels move onto Syrian battlefield,” which reported:

Under the command of one of Libya’s most well known rebel commanders, Al-Mahdi al-Harati, more than 30 Libyan fighters have made their way into Syria to support the Free Syrian Army rebels in their war against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Al Harati’s army of Libyan terrorists would expand to hundreds, possibly thousands of fighters and later merge with other Syrian militant groups including Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise – Jabhat Al Nusra. In Libya, LIFG fighters have divided themselves among various warring factions, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates.

Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), addressing fellow terrorists in Syria. (Source: Liwa Al-Umma Facebook Page)

As these terrorists filter out of Syria and back home, those hailing from LIFG are mainly returning to the UK where they have been known by US and British security and intelligence agencies for years to exist. With them they will be bringing back the technical knowledge and experience needed to carry out devastating attacks like the recent blast that targeted Manchester.

It is terrorism that follows as a direct result of British foreign and domestic policy – supporting terrorists abroad and deliberately refusing to dismantle their networks at home – all as they feed fighters and resources into the US-UK proxy war still raging in Syria.

The British government is directly responsible for the recent Manchester blast. It had foreknowledge of LIFG’s existence and likely its activities within British territory and not only failed to act, but appears to have actively harbored this community of extremists for its own geopolitical and domestic agenda.

The recent blast will only reinforce the unsophisticated “tolerance versus bigotry” narrative that has gripped British society, entirely sidestepping the reality of government sanctioned terrorism wielded both abroad and against its own people – not for ideological or religious purposes – but purely in pursuit of geopolitical hegemony.

That the US and UK are using terrorists to expedite their respective geopolitical objectives should come as no surprise – particularly in regards to LIFG – since the organization itself branched out of Washington’s mercenary fighters used against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

What is surprising is that the Western public continues to react emotionally to each terrorist attack individually rather than rationally, seeing the much larger picture and pattern. And until the Western public sees that bigger picture and pattern, fear, injustice, murder, and mayhem will continue to dominate their lives and futures.

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According to Gulf Times, The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (image on the left), called for a political settlement of the conflict in Syria, where millions of people had been forced to leave their homes.

Addressing the opening session of the two-day 17th Doha Forum, being held under the topic ‘Development, Stability and Refugees Issues,’ the Emir stressed that the international community must take responsibility for a huge number of migrants and finally solve this problem, and dialogue, he said, is the most suitable way for resolving all the regional and international conflicts.

Sheikh’s words on the Syrian refugees looks right, at a glance, but at least cynically, given the country’s vast contribution to financing terrorism. Throughout the conflict, Qatar contributed to the escalation of the conflict by supplying arms to the radical groups in Syria. It seems that Al Thani also ignores the fact that the State of Qatar in co-ordination with its powerful Al Jazeera’s disinformation campaign is one of the catalysts for a humanitarian disaster, refugee disaster. It was Qatar that became one of the key sponsors of the ‘Arab Spring’, which influenced the entire Middle East region for decades to come.

The refugee crisis could have been settled if Qatar really had wanted to help Syria. However, Doha will not refuse to support the Syrian anti-government forces under any circumstances. Why so?

According to El Mundo, there are members of the Muslim Brotherhood among the so-called moderate opposition and Sheikh maintains close ties with radical movements.

Do not forget that Doha granted political asylum to the former Syrian Prime Minister, Riyad Farid Hijab (image on the right). He actively called for a fight against B. Assad emphasizing the role of Qatar in defending and supporting Islamists, whom he even called “fighters for justice” from Al Jazeera TV studios afterward. Such a policy cannot be called friendly but surely can be called an escalation of the conflict.

It is an open secret that Qatar has long-standing plans to build a gas pipeline through the territory of Syria to Europe. This particular explains the Emir’s desire to arm and finance various radical groups. An expert in the field of Gulf States’ gas-oil geopolitics, James Durso, confirms this in his analysis of Qatar’s strategy on organizing direct gas supplies. He argues that irresponsible activity of the leaders of the country aimed at gaining super profits has led to the most serious and negative consequences for the entire Middle East.

Apparently, the appeal to help the Syrian people will remain unrealized. Speaking like that The Emir of Qatar only tries to create the image of the faithful country on the eve of the sixth round of the inter-Syrian talks in Geneva. Qatar seeks to present itself as a state with an ideal Islamic society, the main center of Arab and Islamic culture and as a state where the modern age, Islamic social justice, freedom and equality are successfully combined.

A coordinated approach to refugee crisis is something that perhaps should be pursued. But in fact, the leadership of this country does not make any efforts for a political settlement of the Syrian conflict, but only seeks to rekindle it with a renewed vigor in every possible way. Even The Washington Post accuses Qatar of supporting the Islamists in fact. It looks like Qatar is unlikely to abandon such an aggressive policy in the near future.

Al-Thani’s Background

Al Thani is the eighth and current Emir of Qatar. He is the fourth son of the previous Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. He became Emir of Qatar on 25 June 2013 after his father’s abdication. Qatar called for a military intervention of the Arab countries to end the bloodshed in Syria in 2012. Analysts expected that Al Thani would have been under immediate pressure to reduce Qatar’s support for the rebels in the Syrian Civil War,which Tamim had previously supported. In fact, Sheikh Tamim took a step back after taking charge, primarily in response to the irritation voiced by Western powers at Qatar’s operation to arm Syrian rebel groups which had been directed haphazardly.

Recently, under the aegis of a joint initiative with Saudi Arabia and Turkey promoted by Sheikh Tamim, Qatar has provided Syrian rebels with new weapons and forged a new opposition coalition in Syria known as ‘Army of Conquest. The Sheikh has also renewed his country’s support for the Syrian people’s demands for justice and freedom during a meeting with the chief of the Syrian National Coalition Khaled Khoja and his delegation in April 2015. In July 2014 Tamim renewed the defense agreement with the U.S. and confirmed Qatar’s cooperation with the United States in the Combined Air Operations Center (CENTCOM) at Al Udeid Air Base. Political analysts expected Tamim to be more conservative and risk averse than his father. Because Tamim is very close to the Muslim Brotherhood, preserving a national identity grounded in traditional values is expected to be Tamim’s first priority.

Hijab’s Background

He was Prime Minister of Syria from June to August 2012, serving under President Bashar al-Assad. From 2011 to 2012, he was Minister of Agriculture. On 6 August 2012, the Syrian government released a statement saying that Hijab had been dismissed. Shortly thereafter he had resigned and defected to the rebel side in the Syrian civil war. Hijab’s duties were fulfilled ad-interim by Syrian minister Omar Ibrahim Ghalawanji, who on 9 August 2012 transferred his duties to newly appointed Prime Minister of Syria Dr. Wael Nader al-Halqi, formerly Syrian Minister of Public Health, a Jasim-born Sunni Ba’ath Party official and professor of medical science. President al-Assad rated Hijab’s defection as rather positive by stating that it was “self-cleansing of the government firstly, and the country generally”. According to Der Spiegel, Hijab and other prominent Syrian defectors were bribed by the French secret services inside the country as well as by Qatar. Hijab was selected in Riyadh in December 2015 by Syrian opposition as a head of the Supreme Negotiations Committee (also called Higher Negotiation Committee) which selected negotiation delegation for Geneva III negotiation process. Hijab has said that he is against federalism in Syria.

Sophie Mangal is a special investigative correspondent and co-editor at Inside Syria Media Center.

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The US media has been paying increasing attention to the unfolding crisis in the South American nation of Venezuela. As the US media has done elsewhere, it is attempting to portray the unfolding crisis as a result of a corrupt dictatorship fighting against a “pro-democracy” opposition. 

In reality, it is simply a repeat of US-driven regime change aimed at toppling Venezuela’s independent state institutions and replacing them with institutions created by and for US special interests.

The “opposition” is comprised of US-backed political parties and US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) many of which are listed on the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website.

The UK Independent in a 2016 article titled, “Venezuela accuses US of plotting coup as Washington warns of ‘imminent collapse’,” would even admit:

…observers of the region point out that the US has a long history of seeking to interfere in the politics of Venezuela, as well as elsewhere in Latin America.

In addition to supporting those who ousted Mr Chavez in 2002, the US poured hundreds of thousands of dollars to his opponents via the so-called National Endowment for Democracy.

To understand America’s actual role amid Venezuela’s unfolding crisis, one must read policy papers produced by organizations called “think tanks” which devise and promote US policy.

The Brookings Institution is a Fortune 500-funded policy think tank. It is populated by policymakers who represent the collective ambitions of some of the world’s most powerful corporate-financier interests including big-oil, defense, agricultural monopolies, pharmaceutical corporations, media interests, and more.

Just some of the Brookings Institution’s corporate-financier sponsors. (Source: Land Destroyer Report)

Brookings and think tanks similar to it, have regularly produced policy and media guidelines later disseminated across the Western media and Western legislatures through public relations firms and lobbyists. Think tanks are where the real agenda of the West is agreed upon and promoted from.

A recent piece featured upon the Brookings Institution’s website titled, “Venezuela: A path out of crisis,” lays out a 5-point plan toward escalating Venezuela’s already precarious situation (emphasis added):

1. The United States could expand its assistance to countries that until now have been dependent on Venezuelan oil, as a means to decrease regional support for and dependence on the Maduro government.

2. The United States could increase monetary assistance to credible civil society organizations and nongovernmental organizations able to deliver food and medicines to Venezuelans. By doing so, the United States should make clear that international pressure aims to support democracy, not punish the Venezuelan people.

3. The United States could support efforts by the opposition in Venezuela to build an “off-ramp” that would split moderate elements of the government away from hardliners, encouraging the former to acquiesce to a transition to democracy by lowering their costs of exiting government.

4. The United States could coordinate with international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to offer financial incentives for holding free and fair elections in 2018, and for the opposition to unify and compete in those elections. Such coordination would also involve developing and publicizing a credible plan to restart Venezuela’s economy.

5. As a last resort, the United States could consider raising economic costs to the government through an expanded sanctions regime that aims to limit Venezuelan earnings from oil exports and block further financing. This policy is risky, given that the Maduro government would be able to more credibly shift blame for the economic crisis onto the United States, and should be accompanied by well-publicized efforts to deliver humanitarian aid through credible civil society and nongovernmental organizations.

It is a prescription for further economic isolation, US-funded political subversion, and with its reference to “a transition to democracy,” an oblique call for regime change.

The US media – particularly organizations operating from under right cover – have portrayed Venezuela’s economic crisis as primarily related to “socialism” and corruption. In reality, factors that would have only impeded the full realization of Venezuela’s economic progress have been intentionally compounded through US sanctions, economic sabotage, and political subversion to precipitate the currently unfolding socioeconomic and humanitarian crisis.

Venezuela would not be the first nation the US targeted for economic implosion in South America.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its own online archives available to the public under a section titled, “CIA Activities in Chile,” would admit (emphasis added):

According to the Church Committee report, in their meeting with CIA Director Richard Helms and Attorney General John Mitchell on 15 September 1970 President Nixon and his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, directed the CIA to prevent Allende from taking power. They were “not concerned [about the] risks involved,” according to Helms’ notes. In addition to political action, Nixon and Kissinger, according to Helms’s notes, ordered steps to “make the economy scream.”

These Cold War attitudes persisted into the Pinochet era. After Pinochet came to power, senior policymakers appeared reluctant to criticize human rights violations, taking to task US diplomats urging greater attention to the problem. US military assistance and sales grew significantly during the years of greatest human rights abuses. According to a previously released Memorandum of Conversation, Kissinger in June 1976 indicated to Pinochet that the US Government was sympathetic to his regime, although Kissinger advised some progress on human rights in order to improve Chile’s image in the US Congress.

With violence increasing in the streets of Venezuela and many of the rhetorical tactics used to set the stage for violent  regime change and humanitarian catastrophe in Libya and Syria now being used to topple the government in Caracas – the world must get ahead of the propaganda and begin exposing this open conspiracy against yet another sovereign nation.

Venezuela’s political system is for the Venezuelan people themselves to decide – without US interference. A government dominated by US-backed opposition members will leave Venezuela as an extension of US corporate-financier special interests, not an alternative or check against them This only serves in inviting further abuse by these interests not only in South America, but all around the world – Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Ukraine for example – where America’s unwarranted wealth and influence is sowing instability, conflict, and catastrophe.

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May 25 marks the 54th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union formed in 2002.

This continental organization brings together independent nation-states and the still colonized territory of the Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation.

With the readmission of Morocco into the AU during 2016, some have begun to question the anti-colonial mission of the organization. The Monarchy in Rabat has not made any commitment to the United Nations mandated supervised elections aimed at granting the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic the right to determine its own destiny.

Some African states opposed the reentry of Morocco for this very reason. Either the organization firmly supports the rights colonized peoples to self-determination or it does not. There is really no room for a middle ground.

At the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963, the divisions were largely centered on the issues of the character of the African unification process. Should Pan-Africanism be a gradual process of the merging of regional entities or should it develop at a rapid pace?

Africa being carved up during the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 and events leading up to that critical period in history, laid the basis for the contemporary crises of the 21st century. From France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, the imperialists drained the continent of its human and material resources creating the conditions for the development of Europe and North America and the instability and underdevelopment of the continent.

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Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Yet long before the dawn of the present century during the founding summit of the OAU, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and later president of independent Ghana, appealed in his address delivered on May 24, 1963 to the African heads-of-state for continental unity as the only viable solution to the problems of mass poverty, super exploitation and the consolidation of neo-colonialism. The events which took place in the former Belgian Congo in 1960-61 where the elected government of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was overthrown through the machinations of the Belgians, the U.S. and the UN, illustrated clearly the monumental tasks of acquiring genuine national independence and unity.

Lumumba was eventually driven from the capital of Leopoldville (Kinshasa) where he sought refuge among his supporters in the Congolese National Movement (MNC-Lumumba) in the East of the vast mineral-rich state. Eventually he was captured by the imperialists and their agents.

By late January 1961, Lumumba had been vilified by the western media, unjustly detained, beaten, tortured and executed. This series of events portended much for the future of the struggle for Pan-Africanism exposing fully the institutional resistance on a global scale to the forward advancement of the oppressed and exploited workers, farmers and youth of the continent.

Nkrumah emphasized in his 1963 speech in Addis Ababa that:

“A whole continent has imposed a mandate upon us to lay the foundation of our union at this conference. It is our responsibility to execute this mandate by creating here and now, the formula upon which the requisite superstructure may be created. On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.”

The Contemporary Challenges from Egypt to Nigeria

These words from Nkrumah were indeed prophetic. Looking at the situation today in the North African state of Egypt sheds enormous light on the present crises.

Egypt is the third-largest populated country on the continent. It is the gateway to Western Asia where there is an historic link with the ancient civilizations which shaped the scientific, cultural and intellectual foundations of the modern world.

Nonetheless, this potential is stifled due to the continued domination of imperialism. Egypt is faced with political divisions between Islamist and Nationalist forces. The military coup of July 2013 further solidified the role of the military within the state. There is an armed opposition based in the Sinai where natural gas resources abound. These assets cannot be fully utilized for the benefit of the African continent because of the dominate role of the State of Israel and the U.S.

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Military coup in Egypt (Source: worldbulletin.net)

The country of Egypt remains impoverished despite its enormous wealth. At present there is still the failure to resolve the issues surrounding the usage of the Nile River. Ethiopia is constructing a Renaissance Dam which could impact the access of this waterway from Egypt to other contiguous Nile basin states including Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. The peaceful resolution of these disagreements will determine the outcome of any development projects for the region.

In the West African state of Nigeria, the largest populated nation on the continent, with its gargantuan oil and natural gas resources, is battling a renewed economic recession. The price of oil has dropped precipitously over the last three years due to overproduction.

Since the post-colonial African states are dependent upon the purchasing power of the West which determines the price of commodities and the terms of trade, the currency values and foreign exchange reserves have dropped significantly. Nigeria as well is divided through the guerrilla war which has been raging in the Northeast since 2009 where Boko Haram has caused havoc among the people of this region of the country, often described as the least developed due to the legacy of British colonialism.

From Somalia to South Africa: The Problems of Water and Resource Harnessing 

The Horn of Africa has been a source of imperialist intrigue on the continent for at least four decades. In Somalia, where oil resources exist in abundance in the North and offshore in the Central and South of the nation, the country is undergoing a calamity of unprecedented proportions.

Millions are threatened with famine as a result of the lack of food and potable water. Crop failures stem from the lack of stability and security. The war between Al-Shabaab and the western-backed government in Mogadishu is by no means subsiding. This is the situation despite the presence of 22,000 African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops stationed in the country for the last decade. Obviously the wealth of Somalia is being siphoned off by the transnational corporations based in the West and their allies within government.

South Africa, the most industrialized state on the continent, is suffering from high unemployment, continuing poverty, declining currency values, inadequate service delivery and a burgeoning energy crisis. A sub-continental drought and lack of investment in infrastructure has rendered the nation without the proper capacity to generate power for the much-needed second industrial transformation. There has been a systematic disinvestment by capital since the ascendancy of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 1994 after decades of intense struggle against settler-colonialism and apartheid.

Considerable pressure has been brought on the society from international finance capital to the extent that now there are intense polemics within the tripartite alliance (the ANC, the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions) over how to proceed in the National Democratic Revolution. All the while opposition forces led by the objectively racist and pro-imperialist Democratic Alliance (DA), is being positioned for the staging of a political coup that would re-institute a form of neo-apartheid. The lessons of Congo (1960-61) and Ghana (1966) are not as far removed as many may surmise. Imperialism has never accepted the advent of genuine independence and socialist development over the last five or more decades.

As Nkrumah also stated in his OAU lecture of 1963,

“We are fast learning that political independence is not enough to rid us of the consequences of colonial rule. The movement of the masses of the people of Africa for freedom from that kind of rule was not only a revolt against the conditions which it imposed. Our people supported us in our fight for independence because they believed that African governments could cure the ills of the past in a way which could never be accomplished under colonial rule. If, therefore, now that we are independent we allow the same conditions to exist that existed in colonial days, all the resentment which overthrew colonialism will be mobilized against us. The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people.”

These are some of the lessons of the last 54 years that must guide the AU member-states into the concluding years of the second decade of the 21st century. The alternative to a totally liberated and unified Africa is imperialism in its most profane and exploitative phase.

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Additional details are emerging about President Donald Trump’s $109.7 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia that was formally signed on May 20. Some of the big winners in the deal include defense industrial giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon among others. The massive arms deal had been in the works for the past two years and was coordinated via the U.S.-Saudi Arabia Threat-Based Security Cooperation Working Group.

Lockheed Martin garnered a substantial portion of the massive deal. Altogether, the company netted more than $28 billion from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA):

– Letters of Offer and Acceptance and a Memorandum of Intent covering government-to-government sales of Lockheed Martin programs to include integrated air and missile defense systems, multi-mission surface combatant ships, radar systems, surveillance systems, tactical aircraft and rotary wing programs.

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Source: Lockheed Martin

– A Letter of Intent, between Lockheed Martin and Taqnia, to form a joint venture to support final assembly and completion of an estimated 150 S-70 Black Hawk utility helicopters for the Saudi government. The program supports work for more than 450 U.S. jobs including in Connecticut at Sikorsky and throughout the U. S. supply chain and also supports KSA’s Vision 2030 by creating an additional 450 jobs in the Kingdom, developing local capabilities through technology and skills transfer, thus enhancing the U.S.-Saudi global security partnership.

– A Memorandum of Understanding between Lockheed Martin and Saudi Arabian Military Industries for the parties to work together to build defense capabilities in the KSA to support Vision 2030 and provide for localization efforts associated with Multi-mission Surface Combatants and Aerostats.

Meanwhile, Boeing also captured a significant portion of the deal, although the company did not list a dollar value for its share of the spoils. Perhaps more interestingly, Saudi Arabia will be purchasing the potent Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Boeing listed the following as just a portion of its share of the Saudi deal:

– Agreements to purchase Chinook helicopters and associated support services as well as guided weapon systems.

– Saudi Arabia’s intent to order P-8 maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, which are based on the Boeing 737 commercial airplane.

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Source: Boeing

– A joint venture with the Kingdom to provide sustainment services for a wide range of military platforms. The agreement also supports Saudi Arabia’s efforts to grow its indigenous aerospace industry and ecosystem through its Vision 2030 initiative.

– A commercial registration certificate for the Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company, a newly formed joint venture between Boeing, Alsalam Aerospace Industries and Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries with bases in both Riyadh and Jeddah that will provide support for both military and commercial helicopters.

– An agreement between Boeing and SaudiGulf Airlines to negotiate the sale of up to 16 widebody airplanes.

Raytheon did not offer a detailed breakdown of what exactly it will sell to Saudi Arabia under the deal, but most of the equipment is related to command and control hardware.

– The agreement will enable continued global growth for Raytheon in key market areas such as Air Defense Systems, Smart Munitions, C4I Systems and Cyber Security of Defense Systems and Platforms. This partnership will also contribute directly to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s localized defense ecosystem with regional expert capabilities, and will provide a long-term foundation for Saudi Arabia’s economic development.

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Source: Raytheon

– As part of this new agreement, Raytheon today announced plans to establish Raytheon Arabia, a Saudi legal entity wholly-owned by Raytheon that will focus on implementing programs to create indigenous defense, aerospace and security capabilities in the Kingdom. The new company will be based in Riyadh and is expected to include in-country program management, supply and sourcing capabilities, improved customer access and centralized accountability. These programs will positively impact Saudi and U.S. economies including job creation.

Other defense contractors such as General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and others that have almost certainly gained substantially from the Saudi deal have not been as forthcoming. More detail will likely become available as time passes.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

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British elections are planned for 8 June 2017.

At the end of a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester, an enormous ‘controlled’ explosion killed at least 22 people and injured 59, as reported by British media. Many of them are children and adolescents, as most of the concert-goers were young people.

The singer is unharmed. The concert hall accommodates 21,000 people. After the blast, panic broke loose, resulting in a mass stampede. It is not clear whether people were also killed in the stampede.

Hours after the explosion, although BBC reported it was not evident what exactly happened, UK police and authorities talked immediately of an act of terror.

Early Tuesday morning, 23 May, British authorities said that the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the explosion. The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Ian Hopkins, stated investigators believe the attack was carried out by a lone suicide bomber “carrying” a homemade device. He was killed by the blast.

The IS-Propaganda agency Amak apparently issued the claim of IS’s responsibility for the deadly blast. Did an independent authority check whether this is indeed true?

The attacker, is now named by US officials (why US officials?) as Salman Abedi, 22, a British citizen, born in the UK. He is told having detonated the improvised explosive device.

Another 23-year-old suspect was apprehended in the south of Manchester. But so far, the Chief Police Officer refused to talk to the media about suspects.

Prime Minister, Theresa May raised the threat warning to the highest level, from ‘severe’ to ‘critical’, saying other attacks may follow. This is the highest security level in the UK. She also urged police to investigate whether the attacker was alone or may have acted as a member of a wider terror group.

The attack is the worst in the UK since 56 people were killed in the 7 July London bombings in 2005.

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A woman lays flowers for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack. (Source: BBC)

Both, Theresa May and her election opponent, Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed their deep sorrow to the victims’ families. All campaign activities for the 8 June elections have been suspended.

Mr. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, proclaiming on what the raised threat level means for the city, said,

“there will be additional police officers on London’s streets over the coming days – including additional armed officers. You will also see some military personnel around London – they are there to help our police service to keep us safe and guard key sites.”

The head of Counter Terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, Mr. Mark Rowley, informed that

“there has been an arrest and there are currently multiple searches and other activity taking place as I speak. However, at this stage it is still not possible to be certain if there was a wider group involved in the attack; 24 hours in we have a number of investigative leads that we are pursuing to manage the ongoing threat.”

All of this points to a rapid militarization of the UK, akin to France. What EU country will be next?

Was it The ISIS, Who is Behind the ISIS?

Why would the Islamic State kill children in England, when they know exactly that this provokes further NATO – EU – US military aggression against them?

And why in England, just before elections?

Do they not know that they incite election results unfavorable to them, unfavorable to Muslim society, electing the candidate that promises even more discrimination against Muslims? A candidate even less eager to find a peaceful solution in the Middle East?

Of course, they know.

Known and documented ISIS- Daesh, Al-Qaeda and most other terror groups fighting in the Middle East proxy-wars for the West, are constructs of  US intelligence. ISIS is financed by America’s staunched Middle East ally Saudi Arabia. This relationship has to be addressed. Who are the State sponsors of terrorism.

We, The People, should wake up to this reality.

Are these terror attacks being used to dupe the public into accepting more “protection”, like a gradual but ever accelerating militarization of the West. Even the installation of Martial Law is not far-fetched. Former French President Hollande tried to introduce it in France’s Constitution in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack; so far unsuccessfully.

See

Germany and NATO: Towards Martial Law, Preparing for a “Fascist Repression” in Europe?

By Peter Koenig, May 16, 2017

French Election Fraud? Will Macron be Able to Form a Government?

By Peter Koenig, May 09, 2017

This gives the Deep State-installed EU government, i.e. Brussels, the legitimacy to clamp down and if needed violently repress protests in European cities, as they may arise with increasing neoliberal financial domination of western economies, imposed austerities, privatization of public services, educations systems, health care – cuts in pensions, in brief, the imposition of a repressive economic system. We are almost there, just look at Greece.

***

As always, the question to ask is Cui Bono?

At first sight it looks like the tragic Manchester act of terror could benefit Theresa May and her conservative Tories. They propagate clamping down on terrorism, on immigration to keep ‘terrorists’ out. Snap-elections decided without much warning by PM Theresa May, are scheduled for 8 June, just 17 days away from the attack, but enough time to launch massive pro-conservative and anti-Labor propaganda.

Interestingly, Jeremy Corbyn has been making rapid gains lately in the polls. The supposed ‘terror’ attack, may set his gains back and advance the “pro-security” Tory leader, Theresa May. As if Jeremy Corbyn and Labor were against ‘security’ – This is the implied falsehood of the presstitute – foreseeable, like in The Theft of an Election Foretold.

Interestingly too, the recent French elections were also preceded by a terror attack. Just days ahead of the first round of elections, a gunman opened fire on a police car on Champs Élysées, killing one policeman and injuring two, the gunman was immediately killed by French police; the chief witness gone. End of story.

 

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

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Truth Has Become Un-American

May 24th, 2017 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Those of us who have exited The Matrix are concerned that there are no checks on Washington’s use of nuclear weapons in the interest of US hegemony over the world.

Washington and Israel are the threats to peace. Washington demands world hegemony, and Israel demands hegemony in the Middle East.

There are two countries that stand in the way of Washington’s world hegemony—Russia and China. Consequently, Washington has plans for preemptive nuclear strikes against both countries. It is difficult to imagine a more serious threat to mankind, and there is no awareness or acknowledgment of this threat among the Congress, the presstitute media, and the general public in the United States and Washington’s European vassal populations.

Two countries and a part of a third stand in the way of Greater Israel. Israel wants the water resources of southern Lebanon, but cannot get them, despite twice sending in the Israeli Army, because of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which is supplied by Syria and Iran. This is why Syria and Iran are on Washington’s hit list. Washington serves the military/security complex, Wall Street and the over-sized US banks, and Israel.

It is unclear if the Russians and Chinese understand that Washington’s hostility toward them is not just some sort of misunderstanding that diplomacy can work out.

Clearly, Russia hasn’t interfered in the US presidential election or invaded Ukraine, and does not intend to invade Poland or the Baltics. Russia let go the Soviet empire and is glad to see it gone, as the empire was expensive and of little benefit. The Soviet Eastern European empire comprised Stalin’s buffer against another Western invasion. The Warsaw Pact had no offensive meaning. It was not the beginning, as misrepresented in Washington, of Soviet world domination.

I see a lack of clarity about the threat that Russia faces in Russian media reports and articles posted on Russian English language websites. I see a lack of clarity in Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s continued efforts to work out an accommodation with Washington. How can Lavrov work out an accommodation with Washington when Washington intends to dominate or isolate Russia?

Lavrov and Russian media organizations do not always show awareness that it is not Washington’s intention to accommodate other national interests.

It cannot be otherwise for these three reasons:

  1. The budget for the US military/security complex is the largest in the world. It is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of many countries. It includes not only the Pentagon’s budget but also the budgets of 16 US intelligence agencies and the Department of Energy, which is the location of the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant and 16 other national laboratories. When all the elements are added together, the military/security complex has annually the power and profit from $1,000 billion. An empire of this sort just doesn’t give up and go away because some president or some part of the electorate want peace. The “Russian Threat” is essential to the power and profit of the military/security complex, about which President Eisenhower warned Americans 56 years ago. Just imagine how entrenched this power is now.
  2. The neoconservatives, who control both US foreign policy and the Western media’s explanation of it, are mainly Jews of Zionist persuasion. Some are dual Israeli-US citizens. The neoconservatives believe that the collapse of Soviet communism means that History has chosen the United States as the socio-politico-economic system, and that the US government has the responsibility to assert the hegemony of America over the earth. Just read the neocon documents. They assert this over and over. This is what it means that America is the exceptional and indispensable nation. If you are the indispensable nation, every other nation is dispensable. If you are exceptional, everyone else is unexceptional. The claim that the neoconservatives make for the US is similar to the claim that Hitler made for Germany.
  3. As Israel controls US Middle East policy, Israel uses its control to have Washington eliminate obstacles to Israel’s expansion. So far Israel has achieved the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government and chaos in Iraq, Washington’s war on Syria, and Washington’s demonization of Iran in the hope that sufficient demonization will justify war.

For the Russian Foreign Minister to believe that it is possible to reach an accommodation with Washington, other than a Russian surrender, is nonsense. Perhaps this is Lavrov’s use of diplomacy to delay the US attack while Russia prepares. Or perhaps Lavrov is just a diplomat who sticks to his last, despite the facts.

Much of the Russian media, both in Russian and foreign language broadcasts and websites, thinks that the Western misrepresentation of Russia is just a mistake and that that facts, once they are established, can rectify the mistake. These Russian journalists don’t understand that Washington could not care less about facts. Washington desperately needs an enemy, and Russia is the enemy of choice.

The Chinese government seems to think that Wall Street and US corporations are too dependent on the cheap Chinese manufacturing labor, which keeps the US system fueled with profits, to jeopardize these profits by going to war.

By underplaying the risk of war, Russia and China fail to mobilize world opposition to Washington’s recklessness and, thereby, enable Washington’s move toward war.

The presstitutes serving the National Security State continue to drive toward conflict. Consider Newsweek’s May 26, 2017, cover story with Putin on the cover and the caption: “The Plot Against America: Inside Putin’s Campaign to Destroy Democracy in the U.S.”

It is difficult to imagine such ignorant nonsense from a mainstream news magazine. Democracy in America has been destroyed by special interest groups, by a US Supreme Court decision that gave the reins of power to special interest groups, and by a hoax war on terror that has destroyed the US Constitution. And here we have the presstitutes saying that Putin is destroying American democracy. Clearly, there is no extant intelligence anywhere in the Western media. The Western presstitutes are either corrupt beyond belief or ignorant beyond belief. Nothing else can be said for them.

Consider Time magazine’s cover. It depicts Trump turning the White House into the foundation for the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, which rise above the White House, symbolizing America’s subservience to Russia under President Trump. This extraordinary propaganda seems to be readily accepted by the bulk of the Western populations, peoples who will die as a result of their insouciance.

Even writers critical of Washington, such as Paul Street’s recent article on CounterPunch and the English language Russian website, Strategic Culture Foundation, cannot bring themselves to state the truth that the US military/security complex needs a major enemy, has elected Russia for that role, and intends to defend this orchestration to the end of humanity on earth.

Street writes about “How Russia Became ‘Our Adversary’ Again.” According to Street, Russia became the enemy of choice because Russia protected part of the world’s population and resources from being exploited by global capital. Russia became the number one enemy of the US also because Putin stopped the American exploitation of Russia economically. Putin is in the way of Washington’s exploitation of the world.

Much of what Street says is correct, but he is hesitant to state it in a straightforward manner. He has to dilute his message by repeating the obligatory propaganda. Street calls Trump, who originally wanted normal relations with Russia, an “orange-haired brute . . . [who admires] Putin’s authoritarian manliness.”

Trump’s problems originated in his goal of normalizing relations with Russia. Hillary is the brute who intended to worsen the relations.

Putin is a democrat, not an authoritarian. The authoritarians are in Washington. Surely Paul Street and CounterPunch know this. But Street has to protect himself from speaking some politically incorrect truths about the US and Russia by throwing in some anti-Putin propaganda and denigrating President Trump.

That peace with Russia and China would undermine the justification of the $1,000 billion military/security budget, and that the military/security complex is the American government, is too much truth for most writers to state.

Truth is the most rare element in the Western world, and we will not be permitted to have much of it much longer. Increasingly, truth is difficult to find. Soak it up while it is still available.

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US-backed militant groups, often referred to as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), have declared the start of a counter-offensive against “the regime and its foreign militias” in the area east of Suweida in southeastern Syria.

The counter-offensive was dubbed operation “Desert Volcano”. Its declared goal is to expel government forces from the Syrian desert.

Since last weekend, the Syrian Army and its allies have made notable gains east of Suweida and along the Damascus-Baghdad highway. These advances posed a direct threat to the US-led plan aimed at building a buffer zone controlled by US-backed factions between Syria and Iraq. Now, the US-led forces are going to use force against the Syrian military in order to achieve their strategic goal.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition’s aircraft have reportedly dropped leaflets on the ISIS-held border town of al-Bakumal. The leaflets called on locals to avoid moving near ISIS objects in the area. This event could be linked with the coalition’s willingness to capture this border town and expand its influence along the Syrian-Iraqi border. However, this goal is complicated by the low number and quality of US-led militant groups operating in the area.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Liwa al-Quds, the 5th Assault Corps, and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have resumed their push against ISIS east of the ancient city of Palmyra, aiming to take control over the village of Arak and the nearby Arak gas field. Government troops have advanced over 3 km northeast of Palmyra and entered a number of hills in the area north of Arak. With this advance, government forces are going to outflank ISIS units in the area of Arak and are going to set a fire control over this area.

Pro-government forces, led by the Tiger Forces, continued their advance on the ISIS-held town of Maskkanah in the province of Aleppo. According to pro-government sources, 7 ISIS militants were killed and a vehicle destroyed in the recent clashes.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have isolated further the ISIS stronghold of Raqqah. SDF units have captured two main roads east and west of Raqqah and have continued their advance aiming to reach its vicinity from the northern and western directions. The only road from Raqqah under the control of ISIS is the road to the south.

Summing up the recent developments, it becomes clear that in the nearest future the main competition will take place in the Syrian border area with Jordan and Iraq and in the countryside of Deir Ezzor. If the US-led coalition is able to prevent the Syrian government from re-establishing control in these areas, it will achieve a strategic victory that will impact dramatically the situation in post-war Syria.

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US Journalism’s New ‘Golden Age’?

May 24th, 2017 by Robert Parry

The mainstream U.S. media is congratulating itself on its courageous defiance of President Trump and its hard-hitting condemnations of Russia, but the press seems to have forgotten that its proper role within the U.S. democratic structure is not to slant stories one way or another but to provide objective information for the American people.

By that standard – of respecting that the people are the nation’s true sovereigns – the mainstream media is failing again. Indeed, the chasm between what America’s elites are thinking these days and what many working-class Americans are feeling is underscored by the high-fiving that’s going on inside the elite mainstream news media, which is celebrating its Trump- and Russia-bashing as the “new golden age of American journalism.”

The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, view themselves as embattled victims of a tyrannical abuser. The Times presents itself as the brave guardian of “truth” and the Post added a new slogan:

“Democracy dies in darkness.”

In doing so, they have moved beyond the normal constraints of professional, objective journalism into political advocacy – and they are deeply proud of themselves.

The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Washington Post)

In a Sunday column entitled “How Trump inspired a golden age,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that

Trump “took on the institution of a free press – and it fought back. Trump came to office after intimidating publishers, barring journalists from covering him and threatening to rewrite press laws, and he has sought to discredit the ‘fake news’ media at every chance. Instead, he wound up inspiring a new golden age in American journalism.

“Trump provoked the extraordinary work of reporters on the intelligence, justice and national security beats, who blew wide open the Russia election scandal, the contacts between Russia and top Trump officials, and interference by Trump in the FBI investigation. Last week’s appointment of a special prosecutor – a crucial check on a president who lacks self-restraint – is a direct result of their work.”

Journalism or Hatchet Job?

But has this journalism been professional or has it been a hatchet job? Are we seeing a new “golden age” of journalism or a McCarthyistic lynch mob operating on behalf of elites who disdain the U.S. constitutional process for electing American presidents?

For one thing, you might have thought that professional journalists would have demanded proof about the predicate for this burgeoning “scandal” – whether the Russians really did “hack” into emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and then slip the information to WikiLeaks to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

You have surely heard and read endlessly that this conclusion about Russia’s skulduggery was the “consensus view of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” and thus only some crazy conspiracy theorist would doubt its accuracy even if no specific evidence was evinced to support the accusation.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (right) talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, with John Brennan and other national security aides present. (Photo credit: Office of Director of National Intelligence)

But that repeated assertion is not true. There was no National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE) that would compile the views of the 17 intelligence agencies. Instead, as President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8, the Russia-hacking claim came from a “special intelligence community assessment” (or ICA) produced by selected analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, or as Clapper put it,

“a coordinated product from three agencies – CIA, NSA, and the FBI – not all 17 components of the intelligence community.”

Further, as Clapper explained, the “ICA” was something of a rush job beginning on President Obama’s instructions “in early December” and completed by Jan. 6, in other words, a month or less.

Clapper continued:

“The two dozen or so analysts for this task were hand-picked, seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies.”

However, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion.

You can say the analysts worked independently but their selection, as advocates for one position or another, could itself dictate the outcome. If the analysts were hardliners on Russia or hated Trump, they could be expected to deliver the conclusion that Obama and Clapper wanted, i.e., challenging the legitimacy of Trump’s election and blaming Russia.

The point of having a more substantive NIE is that it taps into a much broader network of U.S. intelligence analysts who have the right to insert dissents to the dominant opinions. So, for instance, when President George W. Bush belatedly ordered an NIE regarding Iraq’s WMD in 2002, some analysts – especially at the State Department – inserted dissents (although they were expunged from the declassified version given to the American people to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq).

An Embarrassing Product

Obama’s “ICA,” which was released on Jan. 6, was a piece of work that embarrassed many former U.S. intelligence analysts. It was a one-sided argument that lacked any specific evidence to support its findings. Its key point was that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a motive to authorize an information operation to help Hillary Clinton’s rival, Donald Trump, because Putin disdained her work as Secretary of State.

But the Jan. 6 report failed to include the counter-argument to that cui bono assertion, that it would be an extraordinary risk for Putin to release information to hurt Clinton when she was the overwhelming favorite to win the presidency. Given the NSA’s electronic-interception capabilities, Putin would have to assume that any such undertaking would be picked up by U.S. intelligence and that he would likely be facing a vengeful new U.S. president on Jan. 20.

While it’s possible that Putin still took the risk – despite the daunting odds against a Trump victory – a balanced intelligence assessment would have included such contrary arguments. Instead, the report had the look of a prosecutor’s brief albeit without actual evidence pointing to the guilt of the accused.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Further, the report repeatedly used the word “assesses” – rather than “proves” or “establishes” – and the terminology is important because, in intelligence-world-speak, “assesses” often means “guesses.” The report admits as much, saying,

“Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

In other words, the predicate for the entire Russia-gate scandal, which may now lead to the impeachment of a U.S. president and thus the negation of the Constitution’s electoral process, is based partly on a lie – i.e., the claim that the assessment comes from all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies – and partly on evidence-free speculation by a group of “hand-picked” analysts, chosen by Obama’s intelligence chiefs.

Yet, the mainstream U.S. news media has neither corrected the false assertion about the 17 intelligence agencies nor demanded that actual evidence be made public to support the key allegation that Russia was the source of WikiLeaks’ email dumps.

By the way, both Russia and WikiLeaks deny that Russia was the source, although it is certainly possible that the Russian government would lie and that WikiLeaks might not know where the two batches of Democratic emails originated.

A True ‘Golden Age’?

Yet, one might think that the new “golden age of American journalism” would want to establish a firm foundation for its self-admiring reporting on Russia-gate. You might think, too, that these esteemed MSM reporters would show some professional skepticism toward dubious claims being fed to them by the Obama administration’s intelligence appointees.

That is unless, of course, the major U.S. news organizations are not abiding by journalistic principles, but rather see themselves as combatants in the anti-Trump “resistance.” In other words, if they are behaving less as a Fourth Estate and more as a well-dressed mob determined to drag the interloper, Trump, from the White House.

President Donald Trump being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

The mainstream U.S. media’s bias against Putin and Russia also oozes from every pore of the Times’ and Post’s reporting from Moscow. For instance, the Times’ article on Putin’s comments about supposed secrets that Trump shared with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House had the headline in the print editions: “Putin Butts In to Claim There Were No Secrets…” The article by Andrew Higgins then describes Putin “asserting himself with his customary disruptive panache” and “seizing on foreign crises to make Russia’s voice heard.”

Clearly, we are all supposed to hate and ridicule Vladimir Putin. He is being demonized as the new “enemy” in much the way that George Orwell foresaw in his dystopian novel, 1984. Yet, what is perhaps most troubling is that the major U.S. news outlets, which played instrumental roles in demonizing leaders of Iraq, Syria and Libya, believe they are engaged in some “golden age” journalism, rather than writing propaganda.

Contempt for Trump

Yes, I realize that many good people want to see Trump removed from office because of his destructive policies and his buffoonish behavior – and many are eager to use the new bête noire, Russia, as the excuse to do it. But that still does not make it right for the U.S. news media to abandon its professional responsibilities in favor of a political agenda.

On a political level, it may not even be a good idea for Democrats and progressives who seem to be following the failed strategy of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in seeking to demonize Trump rather than figuring out how to speak to the white working-class people who voted for him, many out of fear over their economic vulnerability and others out of anger over how Clinton dismissed many of them as “deplorables.”

And, by the way, if anyone thinks that whatever the Russians may have done damaged Clinton’s chances more than her colorful phrase disdaining millions of working-class people who understandably feel left behind by neo-liberal economics, you may want to enroll in a Politics 101 course. The last thing a competent politician does is utter a memorable insult that will rally the opposition.

The run-down PIX Theatre sign reads “Vote Trump” on Main Street in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. July 15, 2016. (Photo by Tony Webster Flickr)

In conversations that I’ve had recently with Trump voters, they complain that Clinton and the Democrats weren’t even bothering to listen to them or to talk to them. These voters were less enamored of Trump than they were conceded to Trump by the Clinton campaign. These voters also are not impressed by the endless Trump- and Russia-bashing from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC, which they see as instruments of the elites.

The political danger for national Democrats and many progressives is that mocking Trump and thus further insulting his supporters only extends the losing Clinton strategy and cements the image of Democrats as know-it-all elitists. Thus, the Democrats risk losing a key segment of the U.S. electorate for a generation.

Not only could that deny the Democrats a congressional majority for the foreseeable future, but it might even get Trump a second term.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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Syria is not experiencing a “civil war.” It is being targeted by both proxy and direct military force organized by the United States and its allies for the explicit purpose of dividing and destroying yet another Middle Eastern nation.

Worse than that, the United States is employing tactics to transform Syria’s heterogeneous multi-ethnic and religious communities into segregated ghettos, and using this as a means of dividing and conquering the nation and even the region.

The US is also widely employing the abhorrent tactics of socioeconomic, psychological, and armed terrorism to break the Syrian people completely and absolutely.

Unlike in Libya and Iraq, however, US plans in Syria have been confounded. And because of this, ample time has elapsed for independent journalists to travel to, record, and report what is actually transpiring versus the intentional, malicious, and continuous lies told by the West’s mainstream media.

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One of these journalists is Patrick Henningsen (image on the right, source: 21st Century Wire) of 21st Century Wire, whose recent trip to Syria had him cross paths and interview others frequently visiting and sharing their experiences and findings from the besieged nation.

The picture painted is one that cannot be ignored.

For those who have already decided to believe the Western media based on “activist accounts,” the accounts provided during a recent audio interview published by 21st Century Wire is at least as equally compelling. However, for those who truly desire to discover the truth, critical thought and additional research will reveal the latter to be telling a truth consistently and intentionally obfuscated by the Western media.

Imperialism’s Fingerprints: Weaponized Ethnic-Segregation

Image result for tom dugganIn an interview with British journalist Tom Duggan (image on the left), the process of terrorists from internationally designated terror organizations like Jabhat Al Nusra and the so-called “Islamic State” targeting communities along sectarian lines is described. While the Western media has confirmed the sectarian nature of the ongoing conflict, what Duggan and Henningsen’s accounts reveal is that Syria was multi-ethnic, with communities enjoying integration and diversity based first on being Syrian, then based on their respective religious and ethnic identities, long before the conflict began.

Intermarriage and sociopolitical exchanges were common before the conflict, and only since 2011 has ethnic and religious tensions begun to expose fault lines within communities based solely on fear created and perpetuated by foreign-backed terrorist organizations like Al Nusra and the Islamic State.

Pointed out was the fact that both US foreign policy regarding Syria and Al Nusra and the Islamic State’s goals, both aim to see a Syria divided along sectarian lines.

While Al Nusra and the Islamic State attempt to cut Syria’s sectarian-diverse communities up literally with bullets and blades, the US has repeatedly presented multiple maps over several years of Syria divided into sectarian-based micro-states – effectively eliminating Syria as a functioning and unified nation-state. While the US omits the “secret ingredient” to make its fictional maps a reality, it is demonstrably clear that terrorist organizations are the ones on the ground attempting to draw these new maps.

Libya – besieged, divided, and destroyed by US-led NATO aggression in 2011 – has suffered a similar fate and currently exists as a cautionary example of what may become of Syria should US plans succeed. Libya will no longer contest US special interests geopolitically or otherwise in its current form as a failed, divided, and destroyed state.

The premeditated and systematic nature of this attempted division and destruction of Syria matches verbatim the tactics employed for centuries by the British Empire – and before that – the Roman Empire.

It is a fundamental tactic not of humanitarian-motivated interventionists, but of imperialists. The crass nature of these tactics – simultaneously promoted by the West and designated terrorist organizations – explains why the Western media has attempted to portray Syria as ethnically and religiously divided before the conflict began, rather than as a process of intentional division and destruction unfolding as part of US foreign policy.

Similar tactics have been employed in Iraq as well, with much greater success. And even as far as Thailand in Southeast Asia, the groundwork is being laid for similar tactics to be employed to divide and weaken states targeted by Washington for regime change – highlighting the global nature of America’s neo-imperial proclivities.

Daily Terrorism Carried Out By “Rebels,” Not Against Them 

While the Western media has flooded headlines for years regarding the alleged atrocities carried out by the Syrian government and its allies against so-called “moderate rebels,” it has muted coverage of atrocities committed in turn by militants fighting the Syrian government and its people. These accounts are muted, because while they are technically “reported,” the obvious nature of these atrocities is often glossed over – sometimes even spun or lionized – rather than presented in a the same straightforward manner accusations against Damascus are.

During Henningsen’s interview with Duggan, the destructive and indiscriminate nature of improvised artillery systems used by terrorists in Syria was described. The narrative is one that equals any tale of “barrel bombs” employed by the Syrian government – perhaps even surpassing them – because while the Western media claims the Syrian government is using helicopters to drop ordnance into areas using direct line of sight, improvised artillery used by terrorists called “hell cannons” do not have direct line of sight to their targets.

This means that those using hell cannons have no way of knowing who, or even what they are hitting. They are blindly firing canisters full of deadly shrapnel – according to Western reports – up to a mile away.

The Daily Mail would describe the hell cannon as:

Firing improvised explosives with a range of around a mile, this is the homemade weapon of choice of the Free Syrian Army known as the ‘hell cannon’. 

The cannon has been widely used during the conflict in besieged cities such as Aleppo and usually fires out highly modified propane gas cylinders. 

The hell cannon could only ever be used as an absolutely indiscriminate weapon. With no way to reliably aim it, and no way to know definitively where rounds are landing, the result is predictable mayhem brought upon government forces and innocent civilians alike. With the vast majority of those living down range from the terrorists’ hell cannons being civilians, not soldiers, the likelihood of innocent people being maimed or killed by them is much higher.

For average readers of reports like the Daily Mail’s, “Syrian rebels strike back with the HELL CANNON: Aleppo fighters build devastating homemade weapon that shoots propane gas cylinders,” five minutes of critical thought will lead them to this conclusion.

Those operating among the West’s media – trained in journalism and in reporting events – when writing articles like those appearing in the Daily Mail, are thus making the conscious decision to intentionally, maliciously, and continuously lie regarding the methods and means used by terrorists they repeatedly refer to as “moderate rebels.” The double standards illustrated by the Daily Mail alone regarding “barrel bombs” versus “hell cannons” indicates concerted and serial attempts to misinform audiences and manipulate public perception.

Similar revelations are revealed during Henningsen’s interview with Duggan regarding the terrorists’ use of hospitals, schools, and mosques as military centers – knowing full well that any attempt by Damascus and its allies to target them would be politically exploited by their Western sponsors both from behind the podiums of public offices and within press rooms across the West.

Perhaps most ironic of all – is that US operations in Syria allegedly targeting terrorists, when hospitals, schools, and mosques are hit – produce admissions from across the Western media that – indeed – terrorists are using such facilities as military bases – admissions the Western media refused to make during the Syrian government’s operations to retake cities like Homs, Hama, and Aleppo.

Keeping an Open Mind

For those attempting to make sense of Syria’s ongoing conflict, or any other conflict being reported on by the Western media – the deep and concerted conspiracy that surrounded the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 alone should provide pause for thought before unquestioningly believing narratives produced from these same collection of Western media sources regarding other conflicts.

There are alternative organizations and media platforms operating in Syria, producing videos, audio interviews, and pages of information on a daily basis giving alternative insight into the conflict that people around the world can watch, listen to, and read. While no one is bound to believe Western or alternative narratives – for those genuinely pursing the truth – both need to be considered, researched, and vetted factually, rationally, and within a historical and logical context.

Narratives of a “humanitarian” motivated West seeking to end conflict and bring a brighter future to Syria simply does not add up in any context.

The special interests promoting regime change in Syria have a decades-long track record of deceiving the public, dividing and destroying nations, and leaving a path of destruction cutting across entire regions of the planet. While Western audiences are tempted to believe Western narratives regarding Syria in pursuit of US-backed regime change, nations like Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine smolder in the ruination of Western military intervention. By adding up the big picture, it is clear that alternative media sources are providing invaluable insight into global conflict the Western media has systematically and intentionally covered up for years.

Shifting in the minds of the global public the perceived reputation of Western media organizations versus their demonstrated serial deceptions is the first step toward truly ending conflicts like that raging in Syria, and truly bringing peace and a better future to the people trapped within these conflicts.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Featured image: New Eastern Outlook

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Twenty-Seven Hours: Donald Trump in Israel

May 24th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It was time to do the Zionist boogie within a mere period of 27 hours, and anyone wishing to see two muggers of history enjoying each other’s company found themselves peering at Donald Trump of the United States, and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, nearly arm in arm on the recent tilt in US policy. “We understand each other,” effused the Israeli leader, “and so much of the things that we wish to accomplish for both our countries.”

Not that Washington had been that savage in reneging on its general policy on Israel during the Obama years. Israel was still deemed firm bosom pal and supposed beacon of democracy in a sea of Arab savagery. One could hardly count the various gestures on the part of the Obama administration, notably those taken in the second term, as firm, sharp turns.

True, the Obama administration had veered at points, paying lip service to international law and the questioned status of the Israeli settlements. There had been a registered abstention in the UN Security Council. But effectualness was nowhere to be seen.

Notwithstanding that, the actions of the administration even as Trump was readying to move into the White House provoked Netanyahu, who was also in a habit of turning on the issue of whether the two-state solution ever had legs.

Any Trump promise comes with hazards, the most notable of which is flipping rapid change. It soon became clear, even within the short time the president was going to spend in Israel, that dangerous, even scandalous excitement was looming.

The issue about whether Trump had disclosed classified material to Russian delegates on Israeli intelligence capabilities reared its curious head, and was beaten down.

“Just so you understand, I have never mentioned the word or the name Israel.”[1]

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On his arrival in Israel on May 22, US President Donald Trump shook hands and posed for a selfie with controversial Israeli lawmaker Oren Hazan (Source: News.com.au)

Nothing about Trump is ever lofty. The philosophy of the gut and instinct prevail, a situation that is bound to provoke controversy. The supremely vulgar Israeli MP Oren Hazan, being a bird of such a feather, ploughed through in a successful effort to take a “selfie” with Trump. Not even Netanyahu could stop him.

Nor should he have. Hazan had been accused in a televised report in 2015 of pimping and drug taking, a situation which led to his suspension as deputy speaker of the Knesset. In December that same year, he was suspended for one month from any parliamentary activity after unwarranted behaviour towards a colleague with a disability. Such a fine resume would sail well in Trumpland.

The gut philosophy is certainly baffling seasoned operatives on the ground. Having expressed, in warm terms, his desire that the Israeli capital move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, doubts have crept in. An unnamed senior White House official told Bloomberg that,

“We don’t think it would be wise to do it at this time.”[2] There would be no provocations at a time “when everyone’s playing real nice.”

Nathan Thrall, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, suggests that

“both Israeli and Palestinian leaders – including Netanyahu – are made very nervous by Trump.”[3]

The baby risks being thrown with the bath water, and the diplomats and various politicians find themselves at odds with the status quo which emphasised paralysis over effort. The only thing to do is utter niceties and sweet words – for the moment.

Worried that the ground might be shifting before the spectre of the “ultimate deal” on peace, former Likud member Moshe Feiglin fears that the Trump-Netanyahu association would spell doom for Israel, fuming at his prime minister for pushing

“Israel’s strategic situation into the depths of an abyss that we have never known.”[4]

Such dabbling with Trump would thrill the progressives.

“Only Likud can fulfil the dreams of the most radical left.”

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US President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23 (Source: The Times of Israel)

On this reality show in the Holy Land, the Trump display reduces history to show and spectacle, usually within the shortest of bursts. This all came to a delightful head in the visit to Yad Vashem, where heads of state are scrutinised for their obeisance to the Holocaust credo. What words of grave import would Trump come up with? In all likelihood, it would have to be in less than 140 characters.

As a Presidential candidate, Barack Obama visited the memorial in 2008, and got on the horse of history to survey the world. The words in the guest book were lengthy, contemplating this

“powerful reminder of man’s potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world.”

In his 2013 speech at the memorial, now as president, Obama spoke of how

“our sons and daughters are not born to hate, they are taught to hate. So let us fill their young hearts with the same understanding and compassion that we hope others have for them.”

Trump, in contrast, delivered a more trimmed version, still sneaking in the necessary punch of horror:

“Millions of wonderful and beautiful lives, men, women and children were extinguished as part of a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people.”

Netanyahu’s response almost broke the solemnity with unintended satire, thanking the US president for a speech “that in so few words said so much.”

In the guest book of Israel’s national Holocaust memorial were penned words seemingly screaming in their self-referential, adolescent awe:

“IT IS A GREAT HONOR TO BE HERE WITH ALL OF MY FRIENDS – SO AMAZING & WILL NEVER FORGET!”

As Amir Tibon would conclude at the end, the first visit to Israel as the president of the United States saw Trump offer a diet to the Israeli people irresistible though unhealthy.

“It consisted almost entirely of sugar and sweets, with very little ‘protein’ in the form of actual substance.”[5]

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

Notes

[5] http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.791207

Featured image: Jerusalem Post

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Record high radiation levels that’s lethal even after brief exposure have been detected at a damaged reactor at the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Specialists also found a hole, likely caused by melted nuclear fuel.

Radiation levels of up to 530 Sieverts per hour were detected inside an inactive Reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex damaged during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami catastrophe, Japanese media reported on Thursday citing the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

A dose of about 8 Sieverts is considered incurable and fatal.

A hole of no less than one square meter in size has also been discovered beneath the reactor’s pressure vessel, TEPCO said. According to researchers, the apparent opening in the metal grating of one of three reactors that had melted down in 2011, is believed to be have been caused by melted nuclear fuel that fell through the vessel.

The iron scaffolding has a melting point of 1500 degrees, TEPCO said, explaining that there is a possibility the fuel debris has fallen onto it and burnt the hole. Such fuel debris have been discovered on equipment at the bottom of the pressure vessel just above the hole, it added.

The latest findings were released after a recent camera probe inside the reactor, TEPCO said. Using a remote-controlled camera fitted on a long pipe, scientists managed to get images of hard-to-reach places where residual nuclear material remained. The substance there is so toxic that even specially-made robots designed to probe the underwater depths beneath the power plant have previously crumbled and shut down.

However, TEPCO still plans to launch further more detailed assessments at the damaged nuclear facility with the help of self-propelled robots.

Speaking to RT, Yosuke Yamashiki, Doctor of Engineering from Kyoto University said the located leaking is “a great discovery.”

“This is a kind of progress,” Yamashiki said.

“There is a very small hole… and very small amount of the radiation is still leaking from the reactor. It’s not the fatal level but it is going on.”

“However, they haven’t established a proper means of how to decompose the meltdown reactor yet. There not so many ways to decompose it,” the expert noted, adding that he and his colleagues are providing a special technique using ice which, however, has not been approved yet.

Yamashiki warned that the complete reduction of the radiation will take hundreds of thousands of years.

However, looking on the bright side, he said,

“right now, the radiation level is much lower since the reactor hasn’t been active for a while.”

Earlier this week, hopes for a more efficient cleanup at Fukushima were high, as the plant operator announced a portion of nuclear fuel debris responsible for a lot of the lingering contamination from six years ago may have finally been found.

Featured image: Yoshikazu Tsuno / Global Look Press

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Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing a historic assault on jobs, wages and labor legislation, to be rammed through by presidential decree in the face of overwhelming public opposition.

Details of Macron’s plans emerged Monday in the run-up to his meetings Tuesday with trade union and business representatives at the Elysée Palace.

After next month’s legislative elections, Macron will demand an enabling act from parliament authorizing the president to decree changes in French labor law.

“The reform of the Labor Code has been well planned,” incoming Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told the Journal du Dimanche. “We will now discuss it to enrich it and explain it. This means discussions with the trade unions, which are indispensable, and a parliamentary discussion which will take place during the vote on the enabling act that will allow the government to impose decrees in a context defined by the parliament.”

Philippe said that he and Labor Minister Muriel Pénicaud would work closely with the trade unions and meet bilaterally with each of the major union confederations.

“But once the discussion has taken place,” he added, “we will have to act fast. We cannot wait two years to finish the job. Emmanuel Macron has heard the anger of the French people. He also knows how urgent it is to transform the country.”

The decrees being discussed indicate that Macron aims to tear up the entire framework of labor relations in France as they emerged from the liberation from Nazi occupation and the social concessions of the immediate post-World War II period.

Many of these decrees aim to re-introduce provisions into the 2016 labor law that the previous Socialist Party (PS) government removed in order to halt strikes and protests against the law. The PS rammed the law through without a parliamentary vote in the face of opposition from 70 percent of the French population, as riot police were sent under the state of emergency to assault protesters and striking workers. Nevertheless, in order to prevent a social explosion, many provisions favored by Macron were removed. He now wants to reinstate them. They include:

  • Placing a ceiling on the fines that labor courts can assess employers for illegally firing employees. It was widely feared that the imposition of low fine ceilings would emasculate the labor courts: bosses could simply foresee and incorporate the fine for firing employees “without real or serious cause” into the cost of doing business. According to Le Parisien, the ceiling Macron is considering, three months’ wages, is half the current minimum fine of six months’ wages. The goal is clearly to allow businesses to hire and fire at will.
  • Enabling individual firms to negotiate contracts violating industry-level contract agreements and the national Labor Code. Currently, firms can only negotiate contracts that are more beneficial to the workers. Macron’s decree would turn all this labor legislation into a dead letter, since firms could blackmail workers, threatening their jobs if they did not accept contracts inferior to the wages and benefits supposedly guaranteed by industry-level and national agreements.
  • Enabling employers who are proposing contracts supported by only a minority of trade unionists at the workplace to demand a referendum of the workers at the site on whether or not to accept the contract despite union opposition. Insofar as yellow unions are present in the vast majority of workplaces in France, this would effectively allow employers to dictate contracts, obtain minority support and then demand that workers accept the contract or face the loss of their jobs.

Other proposals backed by Macron are inspired by anti-social legislation elsewhere in Europe, notably the Agenda 2010-Hartz IV laws imposed by Germany’s Social Democratic Party. These include pushing workers to enter into supplementary private pension schemes, a step towards eliminating the right to a state-funded pension, and enforcing strict testing of workers claiming unemployment benefits. This would allow the state to kick workers off unemployment unless they meet stringent tests to prove they are looking for work.

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Emmanuel Macron names centre-right Edouard Philippe as French prime minister (Source: The Telegraph)

The Macron administration is trying to present these proposals as part of a plan to “modernize” France, notably by playing up policies ostensibly aimed at defending women’s rights. All of France’s different maternity leave programs would be combined into one, whose features, according to one proposal, will be “aligned on the most advantageous program.” There would also be random testing of workplaces, supposedly to check that bosses do not discriminate against women.

This is a reactionary fraud, however. The legislation is a massive step backwards, submitting all workers, including women workers, to the diktat of the bosses and the state. The fact that proposals on gender equality include anti-democratic restrictions on religious liberty at work, and a ban on “proselytizing,” are an ominous sign: they could be used to allow employers to fire veiled Muslim women and generally to feed anti-Muslim and pro-war hatreds.

The capitalist crisis and the austerity drive the European Union (EU) launched after the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and accelerated after the 2008 Wall Street crash, are undermining democratic forms of rule.

The Macron government has no mandate whatsoever to carry out the program it is proposing. The labor law was deeply unpopular even without its most controversial provisions. Former PS President François Hollande’s economic policy, which Macron helped formulate, had a 4 percent approval rating. Now Macron is advancing such a program after an election that he won largely by default, because he was facing the deeply unpopular neo-fascist candidate Marine Le Pen.

Macron, a former investment banker at the Rothschild bank, aims to impose the arrogant diktat of the banks. Under Hollande’s presidency, as workers’ living standards fell, the wealth of top French multi-billionaires like Liliane Bettencourt and Philippe Arnault nearly doubled. With the world economy still mired in crisis, however, and France’s economic position and its weight in world trade continuing to fall, the ruling class is determined to squeeze even more money out of workers and place it in the hands of the super-rich.

The working class is faced with a political struggle against an absolutely ruthless government that is willing to resort to forms of repression unseen in France since the 1940s in order to ram through the diktat of the banks. The new administration is aware that it faces massive popular opposition and is making detailed plans to crush strikes and protests.

Last week, the media revealed that the PS had made plans for a coup d’état after the presidential elections to be implemented had Marine Le Pen won. Its purpose would not have been to topple Le Pen, but to crush anti-fascist protests and suspend normal parliamentary procedure by imposing a PS government on Le Pen.

Incoming Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said on Friday that he will review the state of emergency and that he would support extending it yet again past its current expiration date, July 15.

“I think at some point we will have to end the state of emergency. But is now the right time? Maybe not right after the formation of the government,” Collomb told RTL.

Under the state of emergency, workers exercising constitutionally-protected rights to strike and protest can be targeted with bans on demonstrations, arbitrary detentions and house arrest by police. That is to say, the French capitalist class is repudiating the promises it made in the aftermath of World War II never to return to the arbitrary and unrestrained oppression of working people that characterized the Nazi occupation.

This situation vindicates the Parti de l’égalité socialiste’s call for a boycott of the second round of the presidential election between Macron and Le Pen. The PES argued that Macron was not an alternative to Le Pen and that the critical question was presenting a politically independent and revolutionary perspective on the basis of which the working class could fight the attacks of whatever president was elected. This position has been confirmed in the aftermath of Macron’s election.

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The awful bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was clearly an attack on girls and women – this was the demographic of the audience. Grande’s live concerts are largely populated by teenage girls and their mums. By attacking these young girls, the perpetrators, whoever they turn out to be, knew exactly what the result was going to be.

The incident happened exactly to the day, four years after British army soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered by two Islamic lunatics in London. Rigby was a native of Manchester – growing up just a few miles from this same arena. American officials are making much of this point by saying this was no coincidence.

US officials have stated within a few hours that the perpetrator was a suicide bomber. What evidence they have for that considering that Britain is the most heavily surveilled state in the world, one can only ponder.

One newspaper has already gone with the headline: “Masked jihadi claims ISIS responsible for Manchester terror attack” and stated with some confidence that “A WARPED masked jihadi has claimed the Manchester terror attack is “only the beginning” of ISIS attacks.”  Pure speculation of course. Click-baiting on the back of murdered teens out for some fun at a concert.

The Mail Online just about surpasses anything that can be remotely called factual. “ISIS supporters celebrate Manchester terror attack as Twitter user ‘predicts’ the blast FOUR HOURS before the explosion.” Click-baiting’s finest hour arrives where the Mail produces evidence – and here it is described as “A Twitter account – which was unverified – posted this four hours before the attack”

Business Insider reported with some degree of worry that corporate profits might be lost – “Some capital flows are moving into safe haven trades amid reports of the bombing in Manchester.  Oh dear!

The Daily Star thought it would be a great idea to show the badly bleeding leg of a victim at the event along with the top 12 hottest pictures of Ariana Grande – slightly less classy click-baiting one would have to say.

The Manchester Evening News pops up on search results and they thought it would be a good idea to make comparisons with the 1996 bombing in Manchester to add a positive spin on the outcome of terrorism:

the devastation it (1996 bombing) left across the city centre triggered one of the most ambitious and successful urban regeneration projects of its time

– I’m not sure this is quite the right time to tell that to Mancunians amid the blood, smoke and dust. That last bombing was huge and by some miraculous force killed no-one. This time, it was much worse.

MSNBC’s All In host Chris Hayes was speaking to NBC News foreign correspondent Kelly Cobiella when he thought that it was appropriate to more than just speculate with a possible connection between the attack and the June 8 Parliamentary election.

“We should also say the context here, which may or may not be germane, but just so folks know what’s going on, the background, of course, is an election. There’s political election coming up. We know that in France, in the run-up to the election there there was an attack. A believed-claim by ISIS on the Champs-Elysees. The timing, it seemed not coincidental to the election that’s happening there. They’re gearing up for a big election in the UK right now.”

David Leavitt, a reporter for CBS decided this was a great time to make sick jokes about the Manchester bombing. And many of his American followers thought this was funny too, looking at the ‘LIKES’ and ‘RETWEETS.’ There is nothing remotely amusing about the murder of citizens at the hand of terrorists no matter where they are.

Reddit are off the blocks quickly with a load of youngsters kicking off the usual conspiracy theories.

TMZ  speculates with some certainty that “the explosive device was a nail bomb in a backpack and it might have been a suicide mission” and that “the bomber was waiting around the exit area as people were streaming out of the building.” How they know this is anyone’s guess.

Counter IED Expert Jeff Parks told CNN that explosive devices such as nail bombs first came onto the scene in the early-2000s in Iraq, claiming it was a “very common appliance in the Middle East” and “very handy to place a large amount of explosives and shrapnel.” Nothing suspicious in that comment at all is there.

“It was definitely a bomb, the whole building shook. Body parts were everywhere, a torso, an ear. It was the worst thing I have ever seen. Bodies were everywhere,” a woman in Manchester, identified only as Emma, told BBC Radio.

In the end, one should not forget some real hard facts about this awful, devastating and very sad event. Someone planted a bomb either on themselves or otherwise with intent to kill children and teenagers in an environment where there were few adults.

The response to a British government, who with Machiavellian intent has brought terrorism to our shores from afar by sowing the seeds of hatred should be a strong one. The British people have been forced to pay billions to indiscriminately kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people forcing many to flee the eventual political vacuums that spawned the likes of ISIS. Some arrive with deadly vengeance in their hearts. The disaffected, disenfranchised and frankly some plain old psychopaths use the excuse. How we stop hate filled actions such as this, one can only speculate. One thing is for sure, the politician’s have little or no idea.

Their response will be to make political capital out of it and squander many more millions upon a domestic security system such as GCHQ, continue to strip us of our freedoms and civil liberties and treat us like the enemy, whilst our own die on the streets of Britain whilst a vile media takes full advantage.

In the meantime, our public services will take the strain with heroic effort and concern for those youngsters and their families to help pick up the pieces of this carnage, the devastation of which, will never leave them.

Featured image: True Publica

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The Military Pumps Out Staggering Quantities of Toxic Waste, Water and Air Pollution and Radiation

Environmentalists are ignoring the elephant in the room … the world’s largest polluter.

Newsweek reported in 2014:

The US Department of Defence is one of the world’s worst polluters. Its footprint dwarfs that of any corporation: 4,127 installations spread across 19 million acres of American soil. Maureen Sullivan, who heads the Pentagon’s environmental programmes, says her office contends with 39,000 contaminated sites.

Camp Lejeune is one of the Department’s 141 Superfund sites, which qualify for special clean up grants from the federal government. That’s about 10% of all of America’s Superfund sites, easily more than any other polluter. If the definition is broadened beyond Pentagon installations, about 900 of the 1200 or so Superfund sites in America are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise support military needs.

Almost every military site in this country is seriously contaminated,” said John D Dingell, a soon-to-retire Michigan congressman, who served in the Second World War.

The U.S. military is the third-largest polluter of U.S. waterways.

The Washington Post noted Monday:

The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of fuel in the world.

We use a highly-polluting form of nuclear power so the U.S. military can make bombs.  U.S. military considerations also drive nuclear policy in Japan (that didn’t turn out very well) and other countries.

The government has been covering up nuclear accidents for more than 50 years.

Above-ground nuclear tests – which caused numerous cancers to the “downwinders” – were covered up by the American government for decades. See this, this, this, this, this and this.

At least 33,480 U.S. nuclear weapons workers who have received compensation for health damage are now dead.

And the country’s main storage site for nuclear waste from military production may be in real trouble.

The Pentagon is also one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world … and yet has a blanket exemption from all greenhouse gas treaties.

The defense department also uses open-air burn pits which send a parade of horribles into the air.

Sealife is not exempt. Military sonar kills whales and dolphins.

And the military has long been a flagrant user of chemical weapons and depleted uranium … which can trash ecosystems and human health.

File:'Ranch Hand' run.jpg

Defoliant spray run, part of Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War by UC-123B Provider aircraft. (Source: Washington’s Blog)

Things Get Even Worse During Wartime

And then there’s actual war-fighting …

Then UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon pointed out in 2014:

The environment has long been a silent casualty of war and armed conflict. From the contamination of land and the destruction of forests to the plunder of natural resources and the collapse of management systems, the environmental consequences of war are often widespread and devastating.

The WorldWatch Institute notes:

An estimated 35 percent of southern Vietnam’s inland hardwood forest was sprayed [by the U.S. military with Agent Orange defoliant] at least once. Some areas-those bordering roads and rivers, around military bases, and along the forested transport route known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail-were hit up to half a dozen times.

***

With each spraying some portion of the trees failed to recover. Estimates ranged from about 10 percent in some forests sprayed only once to 80 percent or even more in those sprayed repeatedly. Denuded areas sometimes became desert-like, with blowing sand dunes.

***

About 14 percent of southern Vietnam’s teeming hardwood forests were destroyed ….

Vietnam’s coastal mangrove forests fared even worse: by a quirk of physiology, a single spraying could wipe out almost the entire plant community. Mangroves can live where other species cannot, at the brackish interface of land and sea, because their roots filter the salt out of seawater so that fresh water is drawn up into the plant’s leaves. The defoliants interfered with this filtering mechanism and allowed lethal doses of salt to accumulate in the plants.

Worse, the vegetation seemed utterly unable to regenerate, leaving bare mudflats even years after spraying.

Image result for agricultural spray

Agricultural spray pump (Source: The Dollar Business)

***

Pfeiffer later recalled “a vast gray landscape, littered with the skeletons of herbicide-killed mangroves.”

***

A mid-1980s study by Vietnamese ecologists documented just 24 species of birds and 5 species of mammals present in sprayed forests and converted areas, compared to 145-170 bird species and 30-55 kinds of mammals in intact forest.

The Guardian notes of the Iraq War:

Sewers flowed into the streets and rivers, and refineries and pipelines leaked oil into the soil. The sanctions that followed meant little was repaired and land and cities have been poisoned. One observer in Basra in 2008 said people “live amid mud and faeces… Childhood cancer rates are the highest in the country. The city’s salty tap water makes people ill. And there is more garbage on the streets than municipal collectors can make a dent in”.

Lutz says the images of 630 burning oil wells, torched by the retreating Iraqi army in Kuwait in 1991, advertised the inherent ‘ecocide’ of war. But this type of destruction is “the tip of the iceberg”, she says.

***

In all wars, displaced people congregate en masse without infrastructure to support their presence. Refugees turn to the environment in order to fulfil their basic needs. [i.e. they strip the land bare just to survive.]

***

“War is bad for wildlife in as many ways as for people.

***

In Afghanistan too, wildlife and habitats have disappeared. The past 30 years of war has stripped the country of its trees, including precious native pistachio woodlands. The Costs of War Project says illegal logging by US-backed warlords and wood harvesting by refugees caused more than one-third of Afghanistan’s forests to vanish between 1990 and 2007. Drought, desertification and species loss have resulted. The number of migratory birds passing through Afghanistan has fallen by 85%.

Syria and Yemen‘s environments have also been trashed by U.S.-backed wars.

So environmentalists who stay silent about imperial wars of adventure are totally ineffective.

Environmental Issues Cannot Be Separated From Defense Issues

Foreign Policy Journal explains:

No matter what we’re led to believe, the world’s worst polluter is not your cousin who refuses to recycle or that co-worker who drives a gas guzzler or the guy down the block who simply will not try CFL bulbs. “The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined,” explains Lucinda Marshall, founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange, solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury, and depleted uranium are among the many deadly substances used by the military.

***

The U.S. military and its fellow polluters—trans-national corporations—treat the planet like it’s a porta-potty…with little or no opposition from the general population. In fact, the military typically enjoys unconditional support even from those who identify as “anti-war.”Keep this in mind the next time you hear the phrase “war on terror”: Our tax dollars are subsidizing a global eco-terror campaign and all the recycled toilet paper in the world ain’t gonna change that.

Project Censored pointed out in 2010:

 The US military is responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet, yet this information and accompanying documentation goes almost entirely unreported. In spite of the evidence, the environmental impact of the US military goes largely unaddressed by environmental organizations  …. This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil.

***

According to Barry Sanders, author of The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, “the greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from one agency . . . the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Throughout the long history of military preparations, actions, and wars, the US military has not been held responsible for the effects of its activities upon environments, peoples, or animals.

***

As it stands, the Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined. Depleted uranium, petroleum, oil, pesticides, defoliant agents such as Agent Orange, and lead, along with vast amounts of radiation from weaponry produced, tested, and used, are just some of the pollutants with which the US military is contaminating the environment. Flounders identifies key examples:

– Depleted uranium: Tens of thousands of pounds of microparticles of radioactive and highly toxic waste contaminate the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans.

– US-made land mines and cluster bombs spread over wide areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East continue to spread death and destruction even after wars have ceased.

– Thirty-five years after the Vietnam War, dioxin contamination is three hundred to four hundred times higher than “safe” levels, resulting in severe birth defects and cancers into the third generation of those affected.

– US military policies and wars in Iraq have created severe desertification of 90 percent of the land, changing Iraq from a food exporter into a country that imports 80 percent of its food.

– In the US, military bases top the Superfund list of the most polluted places, as perchlorate and trichloroethylene seep into the drinking water, aquifers, and soil.

– Nuclear weapons testing in the American Southwest and the South Pacific Islands has contaminated millions of acres of land and water with radiation, while uranium tailings defile Navajo reservations.

– Rusting barrels of chemicals and solvents and millions of rounds of ammunition are criminally abandoned by the Pentagon in bases around the world.

***

Between 1946 and 1958, the US dropped more than sixty nuclear weapons on the people of the Marshall Islands. The Chamoru people of Guam, being so close and downwind, still experience an alarmingly high rate of related cancer.

***

Meanwhile, as if the US military has not contaminated enough of the world already, a new five-year strategic plan by the US Navy outlines the militarization of the Arctic to defend national security, potential undersea riches, and other maritime interests, anticipating the frozen Arctic Ocean to be open waters by the year 2030.

***
Linking the antiwar and environmental movements is a much-needed step. As Cindy Sheehan recently told me, “I think one of the best things that we can do is look into economic conversion of the defense industry into green industries, working on sustainable and renewable forms of energy, and/or connect[ing] with indigenous people who are trying to reclaim their lands from the pollution of the military industrial complex. The best thing to do would be to start on a very local level to reclaim a planet healthy for life.”

It comes down to recognizing the connections, recognizing how we are manipulated into supporting wars and how those wars are killing our ecosystem.

Postscript: War is also bad for the economy.

Featured image: Popular Resistance

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Supported by congressional hardliners, his agenda is all about benefiting Wall Street, war-profiteers and other corporate predators more than ever – at the expense of America’s most vulnerable.

His FY 2018 budget proposes enormous Medicaid and food stamp cuts, along with letting states cut safety net programs on their own.

His plan follows House members passing legislation to cut Medicaid spending by more than $800 billion over the next decade, ending benefits for at least 10 million impoverished Americans, endangering their lives.

Media reports suggest he wants $193 billion cut from the Supplemental Nutrition (food stamp) Assistance Program over the next 10 years, more than a 25% reduction in aid – on top of earlier Obama administration cuts, assuring food insecure households will have to be dependent on charity for much of their sustenance.

Many safety net programs run jointly by Washington and states require recipients to be employed to qualify – at a time of protracted Main Street Depression conditions, nearly a fourth of working-age Americans without jobs.

After entering office, Trump said

“(w)e want to get our people off welfare and back to work…It’s out of control.”

It’s because of federal thirdworldizing policies, compounded by force-fed austerity, creating an unprecedented wealth disparity, one of many national outrages.

Trump’s agenda, if passed by Congress, assures nightmarish conditions for tens of millions of Americans, better times than ever for business and high-net worth individuals.

Authorizing states on their own to cut or eliminate safety net programs jeopardizes the viability of what remains of social justice in America.

Will big Medicare and Social Security cuts follow? Both are insurance programs, not welfare, funded by worker/employer payroll tax deductions. They’re contractual federal programs for eligible recipients.

Hardliners in Washington want all social programs drastically cut or ended, Trump willing to go along. His proposed tax cuts, if enacted, will create a far greater wealth disparity than already.

According to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities president Robert Greenstein,

“(t)he indications are strong this budget will feature Robin-Hood-in-reverse policies on an unprecedented scale.”

Trump saying his budget proposal enables balancing the federal budget in 10 years by tax cuts for the rich stimulating economic growth is utter nonsense.

Enough Republicans may join with Democrats in blocking parts of his draconian plan.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image: Habarinet.com

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This article is originally published on Truthout

Given that life originated in the oceans, it should be cause for concern that a recently published study revealed that the depletion of dissolved oxygen in Earth’s oceans is occurring much faster than previously believed.

Anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is recreating the conditions that caused the worst mass extinction event on Earth, the Permian mass extinction that took place approximately 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of life on Earth. Dramatic oceanic warming and acidification were key components of this extinction event, and that is precisely what we are seeing today.

“The trend of oxygen falling is about two- to three-times faster than what we predicted from the decrease of solubility associated with the ocean warming,” Professor Taka Ito, a lead researcher on the study, said in a press release. “This is most likely due to the changes in ocean circulation and mixing associated with the heating of the near-surface waters and melting of polar ice.”

The fact that as CO2 warms the planet, oxygen in the oceans will decline, is not a new revelation. Basic physics tells us that water is unable to hold as much dissolved gas when it is warm compared to when it is cold.

But instead of taking studies like this one seriously, most global governments, with the Trump administration leading the charge, remain loyal to the agenda of the oil and gas industry.

Meanwhile, a recent study using updated projections of Antarctic ice mass loss revealed that global sea levels could rise by more than three meters (more than half a meter greater than previously believed) by 2100.

Meanwhile, most of the world’s glaciers continue to melt rapidly.

Climate Disruption Dispatches

In the US, the iconic Glacier National Park will need to consider changing its name, as a recent report reveals that there are already only 26 glaciers left there. In the latter 19th century, the park was home to 150 glaciers. The same report states that it is “inevitable” that the contiguous US will lose all of its glaciers by 2050.

Amid these developments, another recently published study shows us that ACD is set to accelerate. Natural cycles in the Pacific Ocean will switch from acting as a break to acting more like an accelerator. This pattern, known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation — a cycle that lasts 10-30 years and affects how much heat is absorbed in the Pacific — is set to shift to its “positive” phase, meaning Earth is set to reach higher temperature projections sooner than previously believed.

This is a sobering thought, given that, as this dispatch will demonstrate, our planet is already well along the path of runaway ACD.

Earth

Signs of ACD morphing the planet abound.

The warming Arctic climate has caused woody shrubs to spread far northward into the tundra, which has enabled several animal species that were previously foreign to the Arctic to move north. Moose and snowshoe hares had already established themselves there in response to the new woody growth, but now beavers have moved into the Arctic as well.

Meanwhile, a moose-killing tick infestation is spreading into the far north with the warming climate. The small but dangerous winter tick, which has already devastated moose populations across New England and the upper Midwestern US, is now in Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories and threatening to enter Alaska.

“Now that they’re moving farther north through Canada, north and west, they’re eventually going to arrive here, if they’re not here already,” Kimberlee Beckmen, wildlife veterinarian for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, told the Alaska Dispatch News. “We will be next. It’s only a matter of time.”

Tens of thousands of ticks attach themselves to a single moose, causing the animal to spend much time and energy scratching itself and wearing away their fur, instead of eating. Becken told the Alaska Dispatch News,

“It makes them waste away and eventually freeze and starve to death. … It’s pretty horribly devastating.”

Food crops are also under threat. Along with ACD-fueled droughts, humans are depleting vital groundwater resources across Earth, and now the international food trade is a massive contributing factor to the ongoing depletion. A study released at the end of March showed that staple crops like rice, maize, soybeans and wheat could vanish as ongoing groundwater depletion continues apace.

Water

As usual, the stunning progression of abrupt ACD is most evident in the watery realms.

Image result

Yukon River (Source: Flickriver)

An abrupt major change in the direction of the Yukon River due to a rapidly melting glacier in a mere four days was reported in a recently released study. The huge glacier, which was three-miles wide and covered 10,000 square miles, retreated so rapidly due to warming temperatures that its meltwater carved a new path that cut off the flow of one river and channeled most of the flow into a different river. Scientists named the phenomenon “river piracy” and linked it directly to the rapidly warming climate of that region of Canada, which is being dramatically transformed by ACD.

In fact, Canada is melting before our eyes. Thawing permafrost, which covers roughly half of the country, is melting at an accelerating rate, as is all of the Arctic permafrost in other countries.

“You can really see the effect of the permafrost,” Jim McDonald, mayor of the town of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories of Canada, told the CBC. “The seasonal thaw is getting deeper now, and that wreaks havoc.”

In the same report, permafrost expert Kumari Karunaratne with the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, spoke of the amount of methane being released in the area.

“It scares me,” she told the CBC. “This methane that’s being released is being released over huge areas across the north. And it’s continually seeping out.”

Adding to this issue, diseases and viruses that had been trapped in ice and permafrost for centuries are now being revived by the warming planet.

An anthrax outbreak in Siberia last year resulted in a death and 20 people being hospitalized, and experts warn that we may also see re-emergences of the Spanish flu, smallpox and even the bubonic plague, thanks to melting permafrost.

Meanwhile, scientists have reported that most alpine glaciers will be gone by the end of this century. In the Alps, glaciers have lost half their total volume since just 1900.

“Between October 2015 and September 2016, Austria’s glaciers receded by an average 14.2 meters (46.6 feet), with a record retreat of 65 meters (213 feet) measured at the Hornkees Glacier in the Zillertal Alps of western Austria,” reads a recent report, which added that of 90 glaciers that were being monitored, no fewer than 87 of them had retreated.

A survey of continental Antarctica published in April revealed water, literally, streaming across the surface of the ice continent.

“This is not in the future — this is widespread now, and has been for decades,” lead author of the study, Jonathan Kingslake, a glaciologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in a press release of the study. “I think most polar scientists have considered water moving across the surface of Antarctica to be extremely rare. But we found a lot of it, over very large areas.”

Polar scientist Robin Bell, a co-author of the study, added,

“This study tells us there’s already a lot more melting going on than we thought. When you turn up the temperature, it’s only going to increase.”

Based on new evidence, the Arctic Council — a cooperative effort among eight nations to monitor climate change — concluded that the Arctic warmed faster between 2011 and 2015 than any time on record, with glaciers and sea ice melting faster than expected. That means a United Nations estimate for sea rise, considered among the most conservative, could be off by as much as 10 inches. This means more flooding for already-vulnerable populated areas like South Florida.

University of Miami atmospheric scientist Ben Kirtman told Truthout that, since cities like Miami and Miami Beach are situated downstream in the ocean’s huge circulatory system, the Eastern Seaboard and South Florida in particular will experience “an excessive rise.”

“Certain parcels of land are going to have to be returned to the environment,” Kirtman told Truthout, while discussing future predictions of sea-level rise and what they would mean to South Florida. “What buildings are just not going to be resilient and not be invested in? Those are the decisions we are faced with in the regional adaptation problem.”

Data from a US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report from this January show that the federal government had increased its worst-case scenario for sea-level rise to up to an average of more than eight feet by 2100.

Some excellent graphics have been produced by Climate Central, based on that data, showing what certain cities will look like with that much sea-level rise. These are most assuredly worth looking at, as they provide a glimpse of the toll ACD will take over a relatively short period of time. They even include a visual of a submerged version of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago luxury resort. On a more somber note, under NOAA’s worst-case scenario, portions of New York City that are currently home to nearly 1 million people would be completely underwater, according to Climate Central’s analysis of the data.

On that note, a recent Bloomberg News report discussed some of the financial impact of the coming crisis: It is highly likely that demand and financing in South Florida could collapse long before rising sea levels consume their first home, which would be a nightmare scenario for coastal homeowners in Southern Florida. The aforementioned NOAA report showed that sea levels could rise by as much as three feet in Miami alone by 2060, and the Bloomberg article added,

“By the end of the century, according to projections by Zillow, some 934,000 existing Florida properties, worth more than $400 billion, are at risk of being submerged.”

However, several sea-level rise experts Truthout has interviewed recently predict that even the NOAA worst-case predictions for sea-level rise could fall far short of what reality could bring. (More on that to come in a feature story next month.)

Related imageMeanwhile in Canada, the Ottawa River (image on the right, source: allposters.com) has reached its highest level in decades, and a number of homes along the river were recently flooded.

Lastly in this section, a recent study published in the journal Nature showed that ACD is making oceanic algal blooms worse, due to warming ocean temperatures that are causing them to be more intense and have longer-lasting toxic outbreaks. Algal blooms are runaway algae growths that can kill marine ecosystems and wipe out coastal economies reliant upon them. The blooms can become toxic enough to kill marine life, and sometimes even turn the water different colors. This is the first time the increasing algal blooms around North America have been linked to ACD on an oceanic scale.

Air

Around the globe, our air continues to heat up. India saw incredibly hot temperatures beginning as early as February — two months earlier than normal — and by April life-threatening temperatures between 100 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit covered much of the country. This means that the length of the hot season has nearly doubled, and drought has continued to plague the country as well.

Desperate farmers across India have been engaged in nationwide protests, schools have had to close early due to the heat, and Kerala has seen water stress reach levels not seen in the last 115 years.

Rising temperatures around the globe are, of course, tied to CO2 emissions, and the direct evidence of those emissions continues to climb, too. Up in Alaska, thawing permafrost has been causing a surge in CO2 emissions, which are now outpacing the amount of CO2 they uptake during growing season, according to a recent study. This is critical news, as it means this region of the Arctic, which is vast, could well now become a net source of carbon emissions, rather than a region that pulls carbon from the atmosphere during the growing season.

A May report from Climate Central shows that a large number of US states have already been experiencing their hottest year to date. From New Mexico over to Florida and up to Ohio, this year has been a record hot year so far. And for the entire contiguous 48 states, 2017 has been the second warmest in records dating back to 1895.

Fire

On Earth Day, April 22, as large numbers of people marched in support of climate scientists who are besieged by the Trump administration, wildfires burned in Siberia. With some of the smoke even visible from space, the fires had already burned a large expanse of land. By the next day, one fire in central Siberia burned approximately 10,000 acres in only one day.

These events follow similar wildfire outbreaks in the region during the last three years, but this year’s fires are happening further north and over a wider area than previous years.

And speaking of being able to see wildfires from space, the same can be said about one burning in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which has consumed more than  130,000 acres. The so-called West Mims Fire, which is burning along the Georgia-Florida line, is one of at least 88 fires in Florida that have been caused by lightning this year, which is 83 percent more than in the same period last year.

Thus far, Florida has seen more wildfires this year than it has in the last several decades.

Denial and Reality

Now that we are living in Trumpistan, the denial section of this dispatch will never have a shortage of material.

In April, the Department of Energy headed by none other than Texas oil-fuel politician Rick Perry, was said to have plans in action to change its website to reflect Trump’s so-called climate agenda by cutting down on language that touted renewable energy sources as replacements for fossil fuels.

Not to be outdone, Oklahoma gas-man Scott Pruitt’s main ACD page at the EPA’s website was said to be “undergoing changes” to reflect “the agency’s new direction” less than 24 hours before thousands of protesters gathered in Washington, DC, and other US cities to speak out against US inaction around ACD.

Emboldened by the Trump junta, ACD deniers are now trying to make the case that carbon pollution is harmless.

Thankfully, there has been pushback.

The famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson recently slammed science deniers for, as he put it, the “dismantling of our informed democracy” in an online video that generated more than 16 million views.

Also recently, scientists who are under siege by Trump administration policies marched in Washington during a broadly supported March for Science.

Meanwhile, the progression of ACD is showing no signs of letting up, as atmospheric CO2 levels passed the 410 parts per million (ppm) threshold.

“In what’s become a spring tradition like Passover and Easter, carbon dioxide has set a record high each year since measurements began,” wrote Andrew Freedman on Climate Central. “It stood at 315 ppm when record keeping began at Mauna Loa in 1958. In 2013, it passed 400 ppm. Just four years later, the 400 ppm mark is no longer a novelty. It’s the norm.”

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Featured image: Jay Ruzesky; Edited: LW / TO

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In bowing and groveling before Saudi royalty and the all-powerful Israeli regime and Washington-controlling Israeli lobby, President Donald Trump continues to demonstrate that he is a puppet of globalist masters, the Deep State, and the existing international criminal political establishment. 

In signing over the single largest arms deal in US history with Saudi Arabia, “both the neo-cons in DC, as well as the all-powerful American Military-Industrial complex can declare a truly unprecedented victory”. It is also a triumph for the CIA, and the CIA’s international network of terror fronts, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda. This arms deal, globalism on super steroids, is on top of already immeasurable military-industrial lucre, a mushrooming Pentagon budget, and a CIA black budget that is uncounted as well as bottomless.

Image result for salman trump

President Donald Trump and Prince Mohammed bin-Salman (Source: Al Arabiya English)

It is a promise that the existing criminal Anglo-American war and terrorism agenda—the Bush-Obama-Clinton/New World Order blueprint for conquest—not only continues, but receives a super escalation, towards regime change in Syria, as well as continuing aggression towards Iran.

Trump essentially continues to massively fund terrorism, including future attacks on American targets via the CIA and the Deep State, while spewing nonsensical hot air about fighting terrorism. His performance was tantamount to lecturing a den of chuckling mafia godfathers about the dangers of crime, while paying them billions of dollars. Trump will do the same in Israel, where Jared Kushner, who is deeply connected to Netanyahu and Israeli interests, will cut yet more power deals on behalf of Tel Aviv.

Lee Stranahan is among many who is alarmed  by Trump’s 180 degree reversal from long-held views, and views pushed by Trump throughout his election campaign.

“Here’s what you wrote about Saudi Arabia in the past, POTUS. Your 180 on this subject is very distburbing.” Trump previously wrote:

“It’s the world’s biggest funder of terrorism. Saudi Arabia funnels our petrodollars, our very own money, to fund the terrorists that seek to destroy our people while the Saudis rely on us to protect them.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also blasted Trump with a series of Twitter posts:

“Trump refuses to acknowledge Saudi Arabia remains world’s largest sponsor of terror and Wahhabi Salafist ideology fueling al-Qaeda/ISIS.”

“Opening counter-terrorism center in Saudi is a farce; Saudi is #1 exporter of Wahhabi Salafi jihadist ideology that fuels grps like ISIS/AQ”

Even Trump’s most ardent supporters are worried.  Roger Stone was sickened by the sight of Trump bowing to the Saudis, and posted:

“While I support our President, disturbing 2 see @realDonaldTrump embrace those who financed 9/11 attack on America”

Alex Jones was similarly disturbed:

“The House of Saudi is the number one $ of terror. They better rollover after Trump bent over or I am pissed!”

Trip itself is capitulation 

Trump’s foreign junket amply demonstrates how little control Trump has over his own actions. According to Mike Cernovich was forced to make the trip by the globalists who actually control the White House, and who drive foreign policy: National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Habib Powell (and here) and Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn (and see here).

This neocon Saudi lobby has co-opted the White House, along with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (Dina Habib Powell is  Ivanka Trump’s advisor). This is the definition of an internal coup, and a continuing political suicide that Trump himself has enabled, and seems unwilling and unable to recognize or combat.

The arms and nuclear weapons deal itself was orchestrated by McMaster, according to Cernovich, all towards a ground war in Syria.

Powell is close to Hillary Clinton aide and Muslim Brotherhood-connected Huma Abedin, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, and others who are working to destroy Trump. Both McMaster and Habib Powell are suspected of leaking anti-Trump stories to the Washington Post and New York Times.

Between his continuing foreign policy capitulations, the appointment of dangerous Bush neocon and 9/11 fixer Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor to dog his presidency, and the looming appointment of another political enemy (such as Joe Lieberman) as FBI director, Trump’s sabotaged, bleeding presidency appears doomed.

Below is a video of Trump delivering his speech in the Arab Islamic American Summit.

Source: The White House (whitehouse.gov)

*     *     *

APPENDIX

Full text of Trump’s speech as sourced from The White House (whitehouse.gov)

Thank You.

I want to thank King Salman for his extraordinary words, and the magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting today’s summit. I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.

You also hosted me in the treasured home of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom who united your great people. Working alongside another beloved leader – American President Franklin Roosevelt – King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries. King Salman: your father would be so proud to see that you are continuing his legacy – and just as he opened the first chapter in our partnership, today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens.

Let me now also extend my deep and heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of the distinguished heads of state who made this journey here today. You greatly honor us with your presence, and I send the warmest regards from my country to yours. I know that our time together will bring many blessings to both your people and mine.

I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith.

In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.

Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity—in this region, and in the world.

Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.

And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect. To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce.

For Americans, this is an exciting time. A new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over 3 trillion dollars of new value, lifted the burdens on American industry, and made record investments in our military that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies – many of whom are here today.

Now, there is even more blessed news I am pleased to share with you. My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation.

Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.

This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase – and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.

We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond.

Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World. This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.

I have had the pleasure of welcoming several of the leaders present today to the White House, and I look forward to working with all of you.

America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all.

Here at this summit we will discuss many interests we share together. But above all we must be united in pursuing the one goal that transcends every other consideration. That goal is to meet history’s great test—to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.

Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred.

And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples.

God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East – and maybe, even all over the world.

But this future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it.

Few nations have been spared its violent reach.

America has suffered repeated barbaric attacks – from the atrocities of September 11th to the devastation of the Boston Bombing, to the horrible killings in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims.

But, in sheer numbers, the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence.

Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.

We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions. No description of the suffering and depravity can begin to capture its full measure.

The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.

The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures. It should increasingly become one of the great global centers of commerce and opportunity.

This region should not be a place from which refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock.

Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. In addition to ancient wonders, this country is also home to modern ones—including soaring achievements in architecture.

Egypt was a thriving center of learning and achievement thousands of years before other parts of the world. The wonders of Giza, Luxor and Alexandria are proud monuments to that ancient heritage.

All over the world, people dream of walking through the ruins of Petra in Jordan. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and is a land of natural beauty. And the United Arab Emirates has reached incredible heights with glass and steel, and turned earth and water into spectacular works of art.

The entire region is at the center of the key shipping lanes of the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Straits of Hormuz.

The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.

But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence.

There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.

Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith.

Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.

If we do not act against this organized terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism’s devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered.

If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.

This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.

This is a battle between Good and Evil.

When we see the scenes of destruction in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims – we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy.

But we can only overcome this evil if the forces of good are united and strong – and if everyone in this room does their fair share and fulfills their part of the burden.

Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land.

America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security.

But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.

It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.

For our part, America is committed to adjusting our strategies to meet evolving threats and new facts. We will discard those strategies that have not worked—and will apply new approaches informed by experience and judgment. We are adopting a Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.

Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination. Our partnerships will advance security through stability, not through radical disruption. We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.

We must seek partners, not perfection—and to make allies of all who share our goals.

Above all, America seeks peace – not war.

Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion.

The first task in this joint effort is for your nations to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil. Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.

Many are already making significant contributions to regional security: Jordanian pilots are crucial partners against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and a regional coalition have taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen. The Lebanese Army is hunting ISIS operatives who try to infiltrate their territory. Emirati troops are supporting our Afghan partners. In Mosul, American troops are supporting Kurds, Sunnis and Shias fighting together for their homeland. Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner. Our longstanding partnership with Kuwait and Bahrain continue to enhance security in the region. And courageous Afghan soldiers are making tremendous sacrifices in the fight against the Taliban, and others, in the fight for their country.

As we deny terrorist organizations control of territory and populations, we must also strip them of their access to funds. We must cut off the financial channels that let ISIS sell oil, let extremists pay their fighters, and help terrorists smuggle their reinforcements.

I am proud to announce that the nations here today will be signing an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism, called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center – co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, and joined by every member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is another historic step in a day that will be long remembered.

I also applaud the Gulf Cooperation Council for blocking funders from using their countries as a financial base for terror, and designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization last year. Saudi Arabia also joined us this week in placing sanctions on one of the most senior leaders of Hezbollah.

Of course, there is still much work to do.

That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.

Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED.

And political leaders must speak out to affirm the same idea: heroes don’t kill innocents; they save them. Many nations here today have taken important steps to raise up that message. Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030 is an important and encouraging statement of tolerance, respect, empowering women, and economic development.

The United Arab Emirates has also engaged in the battle for hearts and souls—and with the U.S., launched a center to counter the online spread of hate. Bahrain too is working to undermine recruitment and radicalism.

I also applaud Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees. The surge of migrants and refugees leaving the Middle East depletes the human capital needed to build stable societies and economies. Instead of depriving this region of so much human potential, Middle Eastern countries can give young people hope for a brighter future in their home nations and regions.

That means promoting the aspirations and dreams of all citizens who seek a better life – including women, children, and followers of all faiths. Numerous Arab and Islamic scholars have eloquently argued that protecting equality strengthens Arab and Muslim communities.

For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.

In that spirit, after concluding my visit in Riyadh, I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican – visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic Faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible – including peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them.

But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.

From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.

It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime – launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.

Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region.

The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.

Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.

The decisions we make will affect countless lives.

King Salman, I thank you for the creation of this great moment in history, and for your massive investment in America, its industry and its jobs. I also thank you for investing in the future of this part of the world.

This fertile region has all the ingredients for extraordinary success – a rich history and culture, a young and vibrant people, a thriving spirit of enterprise. But you can only unlock this future if the citizens of the Middle East are freed from extremism, terror and violence.

We in this room are the leaders of our peoples. They look to us for answers, and for action. And when we look back at their faces, behind every pair of eyes is a soul that yearns for justice.

Today, billions of faces are now looking at us, waiting for us to act on the great question of our time.

Will we be indifferent in the presence of evil? Will we protect our citizens from its violent ideology? Will we let its venom spread through our societies? Will we let it destroy the most holy sites on earth?

If we do not confront this deadly terror, we know what the future will bring—more suffering and despair.

But if we act—if we leave this magnificent room unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens the world—then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have.

The birthplace of civilization is waiting to begin a new renaissance. Just imagine what tomorrow could bring.

Glorious wonders of science, art, medicine and commerce to inspire humankind. Great cities built on the ruins of shattered towns. New jobs and industries that will lift up millions of people. Parents who no longer worry for their children, families who no longer mourn for their loved ones, and the faithful who finally worship without fear.

These are the blessings of prosperity and peace. These are the desires that burn with a righteous flame in every human heart. And these are the just demands of our beloved peoples.

I ask you to join me, to join together, to work together, and to FIGHT together— BECAUSE UNITED, WE WILL NOT FAIL.

Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless Your Countries. And God Bless the United States of America.

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces and their allied units are rapidly clearing the countryside Maskanah, a strategic town in the province of Aleppo, from ISIS terrorists.

So far, government troops have liberated Wadi Muwayih, Jub al-Ali, Tal Hasan, Nafiyah, Atirah, Mazyuna, the Thaletha farm, the railroad station, Samaljieh and the Al-Khazim Gas Station. The advance was supported by multiple airstrikes carried out by Russian and Syrian aircraft on ISIS targets in the Maskanah countryside.

According to pro-government sources, some 19 ISIS members died in the recent clashes. In turn, ISIS argued that 2 armoured vehicles belonging to the SAA were destroyed.

With these advances, the SAA is now in about 10 km from Maskanah with only 3 villages – Sain, Ras al-Ayn and Sakariyah – remaining on the government forces way to the entrance to the ISIS stronghold.

The SAA, Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces, Druze militias, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and other pro-government factions continued their advance east of Suweida in southern Syria. They liberated the area of Zuluf, the Zuluf dam and Dahra Umm.

South of the Zaza triangle on the Damascus-Baghdad road, the SAA and its allies reached the Scientific Research Battalion area ad also captured it.

Meanwhile reports appeared that large reinforcements arrived to SAA units operating in the Suweida countryside and at the Al-Tanf road area. The deployed units were from the National Defense Forces in Suweida, the Arab Tawheed Party, the Ibdal movement and the Iraqi Imam Ali Battalions.

On Saturday, the US-led coalition deployed units of the Norwegian Special Operations Forces at the Al-Tanf area in Syria. Norwegian troops had entered Syria from Iraq under a pretext of ISIS attack in the area. Thus, Washington and its allies continued efforts aimed at preventing the Damascus government from regaining control over the Syrian border with Jordan and Iraq.

On Sunday, a number of pro-government sources reported that Russia may deploy its Special Operations Forces in order to support Syrian government forces advancing in the border area. Experts believe that the presence of Russian military servicemen in the area will prevent further airstrikes by the US-led coalition. However, the reports still have to be confirmed by some evidence.

On Sunday, the last batch of militants and their supporters left the al-Weaer district of the city of Homs, transferring a full control of the area to government forces assisted by the Russian Military Police.

ISIS terrorists are reportedly preparing to withdraw from the Al-Yarmouk camp south of the Syrian capital of Damascus. According to unconfirmed reports, ISIS had reached an evacuation agreement with local Palestinian leaders. The agreement will allow the evacuation of ISIS militants and their supporters from the camp with the approval of the Syrian government. According to local sources, ISIS distributed leaflets to the people in mosques inside the Al-Yarmouk camp and called on those who wished to leave the camp to the ISIS-held areas in eastern Syria. The leaflets stated that ISIS opens the door for registration for civilians who wish to exit to “the lands of the Caliphate” east of the country. Fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) have also agreed to withdraw from their positions in Al-Yarmouk camp to Idlib province.

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The notion of a colonist as cannibal in Haiti is widespread. This idea, called manje moun (eating people), could hardly qualify as superstition, given the experience of colonialism. It is daunting to find a better description for those who grab control of water and food, and then calculate the minimum caloric intake a population needs so that a maximum of labor may be extracted from its emaciated and zombified workers without killing them. The neo-colonists may call themselves humanitarians, but their victims know exactly what they are.

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A Haitian front for a consortium of foreign aid and finance agencies, founded in 2009 and called DINEPA (Direction Nationale de l’Eau Potable et de l’Assainissement, or National Water and Sanitation Authority), has wrested control of all of Haiti’s drinking water from city authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGO). To handle the country’s water rehabilitation and distribution, DINEPA now calls on companies from Haiti’s former colonial masters. These include Spain’s INCATEMA Consulting and Engineering and the world’s top water privatizers, the French corporations Veolia Environnement and Suez Environnement.

Like other corporations, water-privatization companies make money for their investors by increasing their revenues, either by expanding their reach or seeking better prices for their products and services. Both Veolia and Suez reported growths of about 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to 2016; during the same period in 2017, their revenues were, respectively, a whopping $6.83 billion and $4.12 billion. Before you start to think that water-privatization companies might be a good investment, remember that you, personally, are 70 percent water and could not live without this liquid for more than three to four days. Consider also that the easiest way to profit from something as naturally plentiful as water is to create a shortage and sell it to the highest bidder. The logical outcomes are thirst, hunger, and water-borne diseases, all of which have already settled on places like Haiti. While you might be the kind of person who does not give a rat’s ass what happens in Haiti, you are probably not too keen on the idea of having your life ruled by water and paying through your nose for the taste or even the sight of it. What happens in Haiti doesn’t stay in Haiti.

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It is a little known fact that Haiti’s cholera epidemic of October 2010 started while the water network for the nearest city of Mirebalais was under repair. Both the water outage and the UN were responsible for the initial explosion of deadly disease, because the water cut-off forced people to collect their drinking water from the very stream that the Nepalese UN troops had contaminated with their untreated wastes. In other words, if Mirebalais’ potable-water system had been working as it should when the UN soldiers contaminated the stream, the casualties from the epidemic would probably have been low to negligible. The incentive to grant contracts to private companies to overhaul Haiti’s municipal water systems would have been trifling too, since there would probably not have been a humanitarian emergency for them to address.

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The work of water privatizers in Haiti did not really get the notice of the general public until the protests started in Ouanaminthe in summer 2011. The town had been without water for three months because the service to its center had been cut by INCATEMA. With funds from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Spain’s aid agency (Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion para el Desarrollo, AECID), in early 2011 DINEPA had contracted INCATEMA to extend Ouanaminthe’s water network by about 20 miles to a slum called Gaillard, where cholera was raging. DINEPA tried to placate the population with promises of a 300,000-gallon water tower and tap water in 6,400 homes in the immediate future, but there was no indication that the service would ever even be restored to its former status. Ouanaminthe had grown from a quiet border town that mostly cultivated peanuts and tobacco, to a so-called free-trade zone, because in the mid-2000s the IDB and Soros Economic Development Fund had financed the construction of an industrial park called CODEVI. In this consortium of sweatshops, six textile companies currently extract the labor of Dominicans and Haitians for about $0.45 per person hour. A network of slums surround the industrial park, which employs only 6,500 people, despite its presence swelling the city’s population more than three-fold, to about 100,000. There has hardly been any new infrastructure to keep up with the rapid rate of growth, and the nearby Massacre River has been polluted by the textile manufacturers: these two factors have created a perfect opportunity to squeeze a population of the poor for their drinking water.

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A taste of the money to be made from the sale of water might be all it took to decide that, for privatization to proceed, Haiti’s Constitution would have to go and the government become more centralized. Under cover of carnival, in February 2012, Haiti’s executive branch began, by decree, to dissolve all the local governments and dismiss the country’s elected mayors. The mayors held press conferences to alert the population of their removal and wrote open letters to inform the public about threats to their lives, but, with enforcement from the United Nation’s so-called peacekeeping force, the decree was shoved down Haitians’ throats. By July 2012, nearly all of the country’s departmental delegates (state governors) and 120 elected mayors had been replaced by presidentially appointed Interim Agents, some of whom where actively wanted by police for alleged crimes.

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Simultaneously with the decree to remove the mayors, and the continuing cholera epidemic, there began a rash of sabotage of the municipal-water systems. As a result, about 2.5 million residents of Gonaives and Cap Haitien, both large cities that were unaffected by the earthquake, lost their service of piped water. In Cap Haitien, some pipes under repair were cut and removed in December 2011. Around the same time in Gonaives, the control panels and electrical cables were yanked from three out of five pumping stations. In another section of Gonaives, the water pipes were accidentally damaged one year later by construction work. DINEPA, by then, had contracted Veolia to reconstruct the water supplies of cities outside of Port-au-Prince; it announced that it would study the networks of both cities and expand them. To date, there has been no report of the completion of either project.

Women collecting water in a makeshift camp inside the Saint-Louis de Gonzague school grounds which was strongly damaged.

Haiti’s smaller towns of about 30,000 to 40,000, untouched by the earthquake, were also not spared. In Hinche, the drinking water system was sabotaged at least three times in two years. In the border town of Anse-à-Pitres, several solar panels were removed from a system that had been installed by a local organization. In Belladère, all but two community faucets were damaged by road construction. These are but a few examples.

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Ouanaminthe endured three dry years. After that, the angry residents got their water from INCATEMA by confronting the UN troops and blocking, with walls of blazing tires, the streets to the CODEVI industrial park and a binational market. When the Haitian president finally came to inaugurate the supposed $9 million water project in August 2014, it was mainly to inform the townspeople that they would henceforth have to pay for their water. Two years after the inauguration, more than 85 percent of the homes still lacked water service, and DINEPA was requiring a $54 to $92 deposit, plus a monthly fee of $1.75 for water. People in the area, who earn slave wages in the sweatshops, now complain, not only about the impossibly high costs for them but also the quality of the water, which they say is often covered with yellow foam and reeks of chlorine.

Pools used for the treatment of water in its various stages to make it potable.

Where did the money go? Given the state of affairs, it is impossible to account for the contributions to DINEPA of more than $75 million from the World Bank, $10-15 million from the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) per year, $35 million from Spain, and $15 million from the IDB, all for water, sanitation, and the supposed fight against cholera. In my view, much of what has been achieved in Haiti is the dismantlement of the municipal potable-water networks and their replacement with a tanker-truck delivery system. DINEPA appears to have learned that desperately poor people will buy water from its trucks quite expensively, since they get it in smaller volumes. Between 2012 and 2014 alone, the price of a gallon of water, if it could be found, rose by 40 percent. All over Haiti, a country where water is plentiful, people travel for miles to rivers and water faucets. Some die in traffic accidents collecting their water. Others die from drinking it.

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Water-privatization companies, having gorged themselves initially on reconstruction contracts from agencies like the World Bank and IDB in countries like Haiti, have become too strong to control without a Herculean effort. In a Spanish scandal nicknamed pica en los pies,” which exploded in April 2017, INCATEMA is alleged to have paid bribes for public works contracts in Haiti. Veolia and Suez have both donated money to the Clinton Foundation. In an unprecedented move, a few days before the French second-round presidential elections, Veolia’s CEO endorsed Emmanuel Macron by attacking Marine Le Pen in a published statement. A donation from Suez to US President Donald Trump’s transition team was equally surprising for having a foreign origin. The long and short of it is that fights against water privatizers at the ballot box will probably be futile. In March 2017, Suez began to purchase the Philadelphia-based US utility, GE Water. In December 2016, Veolia took control of Europe’s longest beach, La Baule, in France, to the dismay of much of the population. Water privatizers are unlikely to have a shred of party loyalty or nationalism. They are modern-day vampires, and it is reckless to allow them to wander among us even as they lust after our lifeblood.

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This is the second of a series of articles that examine how water is snatched from cities and privatized.

Dady Chery is the author of We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation. | Photographs one and six from the archive of United Nations Photo; graphic three by Mark; photograph four from the archive of Direct Relief; seven from the archive of European Commission DG Echo; eight, nine, ten, and eleven from the archive of Pan American Health Organization.

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On the phony pretext of combating ISIS, America and its regional allies support, a so-called Riyadh Declaration was agreed to by 55 Muslim countries in the Saudi capital on Sunday.

Claiming it’s “to combat terrorism in all its forms, address its intellectual roots, dry up its sources of funding, and take all necessary measures to prevent and combat terrorist crimes in close cooperation among their states” is a statement of mass deception.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and America’s regional presence constitute the epicenter of regional and global state terrorism – supporting its scourge, not combating it.

The Saudi Press Agency, saying

“a global center for countering extremist thought…combating intellectual, media and digital extremism, and promoting coexistence and tolerance among peoples” based in Riyadh would be laughable if the threat posed by Washington, the Saudis and other regional rogue states wasn’t so grave.

Riyadh Declaration signatory countries committed to provide “a reserve force of 34,000 troops” – not “to support operations against terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria when needed,” as claimed.

They’ll partner with Washington’s destructive imperial agenda, a plot to eliminate Syrian and Iranian sovereignty, assuring endless Middle East wars.

Iran was especially singled out, the document saying signatories “confirmed their absolute rejection of the practices of the Iranian regime designed to destabilize the security and stability of the region and the world at large and for its continuing support for terrorism and extremism” – polar opposite Tehran’s agenda.

It’s targeted for its sovereign independence, a nation America doesn’t control, a Saudi rival. Imperial plans call for regime change.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted

“Iran – fresh from real elections – attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation (Saudi Arabia). Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480 billion?”

Separately in a London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed news network op-ed, Zarif said

Trump “must enter into dialogue with (the Saudis) about ways to prevent terrorists and Takfiris from continuing to fuel the fire in the region and repeating the likes of the September 11 incident by their sponsors in Western countries.”

“(T)he Iranophobia project (was) initiated and promoted by the Zionist regime for years…Iran (seeks) stability in the entire region because it knows that achieving security at home at the expense of insecurity among neighbors is basically impossible.”

Sadly as Zarif knows, US and Saudi policies foster terrorism, using ISIS and like-minded groups to further their imperial agendas.

Trump’s Sunday Muslim world address was an exercise in deception – exposed by longstanding US policies, its endless wars of aggression, and announced deal to sell Riyadh hundreds of billions of dollars worth of powerful weapons over the next decade, entirely for offense, not defense.

Washington’s goal isn’t “stamping out (terrorist) extremism,” as Trump claimed, it’s supporting and encouraging it to further US aims for unchallenged global dominance.

The Riyadh Declaration is part of the scheme to pursue this objective, polar opposite what its signatories claim.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image: thebaghdadpost.com

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Hypocritical Speech: Trump’s Saudi Soliloquy

May 23rd, 2017 by Richard Silverstein

Donald Trump just made one of the most hypocritical speeches in American political history: and that’s saying something.  The same person who told the American electorate that Islam was a religion of violence and evil, and that America must close its doors to all Muslims because, as far as he was concerned, they were all likely terrorists–this same guy fawned and curtsied before the Saudi monarch who’s the protector (not a very good one, I might add) of the Muslim holy sites.

This speech and his attendant business deals signed while in the Kingdom, are a triumph of commerce over values.  Jobs and lucre and the only things this President cares about. If he can hawk THADD missile systems to the Devil himself he’ll descend into Hell to do it.

As I’ve written here in the past week, the speech is the capstone to a major U.S. pivot away from rapprochement with Shia Iran and towards the Sunni kingdoms. In doing so, Trump will be forced to embrace all the vices of his new allies: their homophobia, misogyny, corruption, nepotism, intolerance, and brutality. He will also be forced to acknowledge something he’s conveniently avoided in this speech: that his new pals themselves have been the greatest supporters of terrorism in the region. Who founded al Qaeda? Whose money, recruits and leadership created it? Who funds the most vicious Islamist rebels of ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria? Yep, your pals in the glittering palaces of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

You think because you’ve called these Islamists bad boys that their patrons will immediately abandon them? Nah. It would be one thing if you called out the Saudis, told them to stop funding ISIS in Syria, and advanced a plan for peace there that would involve negotiations among the different players. But no, you didn’t do that. You merely denounced ISIS as if it was a separate, independent entity; and not dependent on the funding and weapons of its patrons in the very Kingdom in which he spoke.

The speech was not just ahistorical, it was bereft of the least understanding of the nature of terror in the Muslim-Arab world.  Here’s a choice example:

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between Good and Evil.

Of course it is a battle between different civilizations and faiths. Or at least a battle between extremists who embrace one religion and who have declared war on another.  The juxtaposition of the “us” who is “good” and “them” who is “evil” is not just useless as a tool for understanding this conflict–it is profoundly dangerous.  It lulls us into the false faith that we are good and all we do must be good, because we are fighting an enemy who is wholly evil.  You can see where this sort of thinking leads: to My Lai and Abu Ghraib.  And don’t worry, Trump will take us there is we give him enough time.

One of the most pitiable passages in Trump’s address is this:

Our partnerships will advance security through stability, not through radical disruption. We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes — not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms — not sudden intervention.

We must seek partners, not perfection…

Here read “stability” as brutal strongman rule and “radical disruption” as populist yearning for democracy.  Trump derides the “pointy-headed” concepts of human rights as the “inflexible ideology” of Pres. Obama.  But in reality, of course, it is Trump’s Islamophobia that constitutes one of the most rigid of ideologies.  And as for “gradual reforms,” that term is meaningless. It really means the stultifying, suffocating status quo. What Trump has endorsed here is a U.S. policy of crony capitalism: we give you all the weapons you need to kill each other. You give us your oil wealth and fund our military-industrial machine. Beyond that, we could care less what you do or how you do it.

You want to kill 10,000 Houthis? Go right ahead. Join with Bashar al-Assad to massacre 250,000 Syrians? You have my blessing. Go to war with Iran? No problem.

Above all, America seeks peace — not war.

What a joke. Says the president who just signed a $300-billion deal to send Saudi Arabia our most advanced weapons systems over the next decade.  What does he think those missiles will be used for? Building schools and hospitals?

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Signing ceremony at the Royal Court (Source: The Seattle Times)

Amidst all of Trump’s fulminations against “Islamist terrorism” (“That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires”), there was nary a word about western terrorism.  We too have our own homegrown terrorists: white supremacists and the alt-right.  They have killed almost as many westerners as Islamist militants have.  Yet why not a word of denunciation concerning them?  Why not admit that we have our own brand of terror to fight, just as Muslims do?  You know the answer without my telling you.

Here Trump rhapsodizes about refugees, calling them “human capital” for a “brighter future.”  Of course, while ignoring the massive suffering they endure in the god-awful present.  In the process he makes one of the most hypocritical statements in the entire address:

I also applaud Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees. The surge of migrants and refugees leaving the Middle East depletes the human capital needed to build stable societies and economies. Instead of depriving this region of so much human potential, Middle Eastern countries can give young people hope for a brighter future in their home nations and regions.

Well of course they can.  If Trump’s own allies hadn’t turned Syria into a killing field and charnel house.  But if you’re going to applaud Middle Eastern nations for accepting refugees, why not your own country?  Is the Middle East the only part of the world responsible for refugees generated there?  If there’s one thing we learn from civil wars wherever they happen: they are global phenomena.  You cannot build a wall around a failing state and isolate the suffering it generates to a small bit of territory.  All that suffering radiates outward and afflicts the entire world.  That’s why Trump’s view is mypoic and ahistorical.

The truly worst portion of the speech was reserved for Iran.  As you can see above, his rhetoric matched the false rhetoric of George Bush père et fils: the former called Saddam Hussein “the new Hitler.”

His rant begins thus:

For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.

It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (Source: The Times of Israel)

Actually, none of the above statements are true. I have no idea what Trump refers to as Iranian advocacy of “mass murder.” Nor has Iran ever vowed to destroy Israel. As for Iran’s supposed vow to “ruin” Sunni nations–that compliment has been returned many-fold by all those leaders listening to his speech. This is a Sunni-Shia religious conflict as well as a conflict for regional dominance. To divorce this rivalry from its historical-religious context is an offense against reality.  And it will perpetuate the noxious policies and rain of death which afflicts the region today.  Conflict may be mediated through discussion and negotiation. But if you demonize your rival, then only war and death is possible.  That is the path the Sunni states have chosen and which Trump has ratified.  Remember it is Iran which called for talks with Saudi Arabia over their differences; and the Saudis who rejected the offer.

Here’s another bit of false history akin to Trump’s painting of America’s minority communities as “ghettos” and “war zones” characterized by nothing but suffering and poverty:

…The people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.

If Iranians have endured hardship it is largely of the making of Trump and his western allies who’ve put the country under lockdown economically, financially and commercially.  And as for pursuit of conflict: Iran is not the only party pursuing conflict.  We have certainly done our share as has Israel and all those Sunni allies he was celebrating.  The failure to recognize blame as two-sided is yet another severe weakness of the Trump world-view.

Oh the irony of Trump calling for regime change in Iran, when it is one of the few democracies in the region:

…Pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.

Well, in fact Iran has the government it deserves.  The people just elected that government.  Something which has never happened in his host country, Saudi Arabia.  Trump’s arrogance and ignorance is unbounding.

Featured image: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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The Draft Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons

May 23rd, 2017 by Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

In a momentous step to create a safer and more secure world, a draft treaty to ban nuclear weapons was released today by the United Nations. The document is seen as an essential milestone in the years-long effort to ban these indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction and an important step toward their eventual elimination.

Over 130 countries participated in the first negotiation session that took place in March of this year in New York under the auspices of the United Nations. Participants shared initial positions and goals for the treaty language, focusing on the humanitarian cost of nuclear weapons use and the threat posed to every country. Most also compared a nuclear weapons ban to previous bans on chemical and biological weapons, land mines, and cluster munitions, which have had significant impact and changed international behavior.

David Krieger, President of the Santa Barbara-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, commented,

This draft treaty is a historic step on the road to a nuclear weapons-free world. It provides an excellent framework for the negotiations that will resume on June 15th. The arc of the nuclear threat is bending toward prohibition and abolition. It is time for the nuclear-armed countries and their allies to join with the active non-nuclear states in putting an end to the nuclear threat to humanity for their common benefit.

The world now faces 21st century threats and challenges — cyber attacks, pandemic disease, climate chaos and terrorism. These threats cannot be addressed by nuclear weapons or the logic of nuclear deterrence. More ominously, the spread of nuclear weapons technology and material only increases the chances of intentional or accidental nuclear detonation by states or terrorist groups.

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said,

Now that we have a draft, nuclear-armed and nuclear alliance states should take the opportunity to engage productively in these discussions. Failure to participate undermines any objection they might have once the document is complete. This is a test of their commitment to a world without nuclear weapons.

Countries will have the opportunity to finalize the treaty at the second negotiation session, which will take place from June 15 through July 7 at the United Nations in New York.

The draft treaty in its entirety can be found at http://www.icanw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BanDraft.pdf.

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Donald of Arabia: A Disgusting Spectacle

May 23rd, 2017 by Justin Raimondo

Has there been a more disgusting spectacle during the four months of this presidency than the sight of Donald Trump slobbering all over the barbarous Saudi monarch and his murderous family of petty princelings? It’s enough to make any normal American retch, especially when one remembers what Trump said about them during the election:

“Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!”

And then there was this tweet:

“Tell Saudi Arabia and others that we want (demand!) free oil for the next ten years or we will not protect their private Boeing 747s. Pay up!”

Now Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner, is calling up Lockheed-Martin to get a discount for the Saudis, personally brokering the biggest arms deal in US history. What a difference a presidency makes!

The old Trump told us that the Saudis were “mouth pieces, bullies, cowards,” who were “paying ISIS,” but now they’re our partners in the “war on terrorism.” Why it seems like only yesterday that he was calling out Saudi princes like Alwaleed bin Talal for thinking they can “control our US politicians” – today he’s kowtowing to them.

Most tellingly, it was Trump who made a campaign issue out of the missing 28 pages redacted from the Joint congressional report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In calling for their release, he painted a scenario in which the Saudi royals assisted the hijackers and said:

“You know, it’s sort of nice to know who your friends are, and perhaps who your enemies are.”

Does Trump know who are our friends and who are our enemies?

While the US government, under both Trump and Obama, has routinely maintained that Iran is the biggest exporter of terrorism, that is utter nonsense: the Saudis easily outdo the mullahs of Tehran. Riyadh funds radical madrassas throughout the world that preach pure hatred of the West: they are incubators of terrorism, and have been wreaking havoc from one end of the globe to the other for decades. The terrorist groups that have destroyed Syria are the progeny of the Saudis, and their allies among the Gulf states.

Most shameful of all, the Saudis have invaded nearby Yemen, slaughtering children and women with impunity, bombing funeral processions, and causing a famine that will kill hundreds of thousands of noncombatants: the very young, the sick, and the old. And they’re doing it with US assistance, a pact signed in blood under the Obama administration, now continued and beefed up under Trump.

In all fairness, this is nothing new as far as the US is concerned: our relationship with the Saudi monarchy goes all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt, who cemented the alliance in 1943 by declaring that the defense of their medieval dictatorship was “vital” to our national security: US taxpayer dollars flowed into the Saudi treasury via the Lend-Lease giveaway. The flow hasn’t stopped since that time: indeed, it has only increased.

And the flow will turn into a torrent if Trump’s wacky idea of an Arab NATO ever comes to fruition. We’ll be paying their “defense” bills unto eternity, while they send their army of head-chopping assassins out to murder infidels on a global scale – and US arms dealers rake in cash hand over fist.

Source: Antiwar.com

Yes, the US-Saudi relationship is one of the central pillars of our globalist foreign policy – but wasn’t Trump supposed to be different? Wasn’t he supposed to be putting America first? Of all the betrayals we’ve had to endure since he took the White House, his pilgrimage to the epicenter of world terrorism has got to be the absolute worst. As he kneels before the Saudi king, he humiliates all of us.

Trump’s next stop is Israel, and that’s no accident: the Jewish state is Saudi Arabia’s main ally in the region, although the relationship is supposed to be covert. They don’t even bother to keep it under wraps anymore. While the Saudis fund the head-chopping barbarians who have destroyed Syria, the Israelis succor them in their hospitals and then set them free to kill and maim again. Israeli officials openly state their preference for ISIS over Bashar al-Assad. If and when Trump’s loopy “Arab NATO” ever comes to pass, Israel will be a silent partner.

The third leg of Trump’s trip will be the Vatican, and there an ambush awaits him. This Pope is no friend of the White House, and he is likely to issue a public rebuke on the immigration issue, at the very least. The whole thing is a public relations disaster waiting to happen, and a testament to the very bad advice Trump is getting from his clueless advisors.

The mawkish idea of visiting the sites of the world’s three major religions is more appropriate for a television special than for a President on his first major trip abroad. Quite aside from the fact that it leaves out the Hindus, the Greek Orthodox, and the Buddhists, the whole concept is typical of the way this administration thinks in terms of mindless clichés, catchphrases without context or real meaning.

Speaking of which, the less said about Trump’s speech in Riyadh the better: it was a farrago of falsehood, kowtowing, and brazen hypocrisy. To top it off, he announced that a new “Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology” is to be opened in the Kingdom – which is, itself, the world capital of extremist ideology, having done more to spread religious hatred than any country on earth.

Of all Trump’s many betrayals – and they’re piling up at such a rate that he’s creating a veritable Mountain of Mendacity – this Saudi trip has got to be the one that will demoralize and alienate even his hardcore supporters. After rising to power on the strength of portraying Islam as inherently violent and dangerous, he’s now joining hands with the leaders of what he once described as “the hateful ideology of radical Islam.” It’s as if Mother Theresa had embraced the Church of Satan.

It’s been a very long four months – that seems more like four years. In voting for Trump, many of his supporters – some of whom are now among Antiwar.com’s regular readers and supporters – were hoping for a return to normalcy. What they got instead was a descent into Bizarro World.

Notes from the Author

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

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Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation

May 23rd, 2017 by PNN

When the Palestinian engaged the peace process in 1993, they anticipated the emergence of their Palestinian State within five years time on the 22% of Palestine’s land occupied by Israel on June 5, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital. It was way off the 43% designated to the Palestinians in the United Nations’ proposed partition plan in 1947.

However, during the interim period which was to last 5 years and lead to the establishment of the Palestinian State; the Israelis turned the Palestinian land and communities into disconnected cantons ravaged by the frequent collective punishment of closures, house demolitions (25,000+), uprooting of trees (689,000+) and land confiscations (741,000+ dunums {286 square miles} 13%+ of the West Bank total area), which brought the numbers since 1967 to 48,000+ houses, 2.5+ million trees and 2400 square km {927 square miles} 42%+ of the West Bank total area) respectively.

Furthermore, during the long dragged peace process Israel managed to manipulate the geography of the West Bank and force realities on the ground to hinder and ultimately end the peace process. To realize its objective; Israeli managed to multiply the settlements’ areas in the West Bank territory (including occupied East Jerusalem) by 185%; from 78 square km {30 square miles} in 1990 to 196.5 square km {76 square miles} in 2015 (respectively 1.2% – 3.5% of the West Bank area); and simultaneously triple the number of Israeli settlers for the same period from 240,000 to more than 763,000 in 2016; an increase by 218%.

Moreover, the Palestinian natural resources are also being exploited and manipulated by Israel; of which is the water that Israel used to as a tool to push the Palestinian farmers off their lands through systematic and calculated scarce distribution of water. In that sense; the average water supply per capita for Palestinians in the West Bank is 76 liter per day, at the same time it soars of to an average of 369 liter per day for illegal Israeli settlers.

The impact of Israeli impediments forced on the Palestinian economy in terms of direct losses or missed opportunities in 2015 exceeded 9.5 billion U.S dollars. Ultimately; the Israeli occupation of the West Bank remains the main obstacle to any Palestinian economic growth; as losses continue to accumulate by preventing Palestinians from accessing their natural resources, control of the border, hampering internal and external trade, destroying infrastructure and frustrates development attempts in area classified as “C” (61% of the West Bank total area).

A viable, contiguous Palestinian State remains a challenging concept, as Israel spared no efforts to undermine the peace process altogether and the “two state solution” with its persistence to continue with its land seizure policy, house demolition strategy, matrix of control on movement and sustaining dependent Palestinian economy, which ultimately eradicated the essence of the entire peace process and just restructured and repositioned the presence of the Israeli Army in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Featured image: Flick via PNN

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It turns out that getting off the U.S.’ and Canada’s terror watchlist is as simple as changing your name. While the terror watchlist in the U.S. has long been both secretive and controversial – as “reasonable suspicion” is enough to label any individual a “terrorist” – terrorist groups tied to al-Qaeda have found that getting off the watchlist only requires minor rebranding.

The terror group, long known to most as Jabhat al-Nusra or the al-Nusra Front, has continued to function as al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria long after Daesh (ISIS) renounced its allegiance to the group in 2014. It was first placed on the U.S. and Canadian terror watchlists in 2012.

But by changing its name to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the group has managed to secure its removal from terror watchlists in both the U.S. and Canada, allowing citizens of those countries to donate money to the group, travel to fight with them and disseminate the group’s propaganda without incident.

In response, Nicole Thompson of the U.S. State Department told CBC News last Monday that while

“we believe these actions are an al-Qaeda play to bring as much of the Syrian opposition under its operational control as possible, […] we are still studying the issue carefully.”

But the State Department is likely hesitant to label HTS a terror group, even despite the group’s link to al-Qaeda, as the U.S. government has directly funded and armed the Zenki brigade, a group that joined forces with al-Nusra under the HTS banner, with sophisticated weaponry.

Zenki Brigade

As CBC noted,

“For the U.S. to designate HTS now would mean acknowledging that it supplied sophisticated weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles, to ‘terrorists,’ and draw attention to the fact that the U.S. continues to arm Islamist militias in Syria.”

This is just the latest attempt by al-Nusra to rebrand itself as a “moderate” group, as it has used its commitment to being “anti-ISIS” and “anti-Assad” in order to convince the U.S. and its allies to arm them. Al-Nusra has been described by mainstream media as a “moderate opposition” group fighting against the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Their efforts have paid off, as the group is being supported to various degrees by foreign governments seeking to overthrow the Assad government. For example, take the words of Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah, who told the French publication Le Monde in 2015:

“we are clearly against all extremism, but, apart from Daesh [ISIS], all [sic] these groups are fighting to overthrow the [Assad] regime. The moderates cannot say to the Nusra Front … ‘We won’t work with you.’ You have to look at the situation and be realistic.”

The U.S. government has also accepted the rebranding of al-Nusra in recent years. The U.S. effort to do so began in earnest when former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated in 2015 that

“moderate rebels” were “anyone who is not affiliated with ISIL [Daesh, ISIS].”

Since then, al-Nusra’s top commanders have asserted that they have received U.S.-made weapons, such as TOW missiles and tanks, directly from foreign governments supported by the U.S. In a 2016 interview with the newspaper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, al-Nusra unit commander Abu Al Ezz stated that when al-Nusra was

“besieged, we had officers from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America here…Experts in the use of satellites, rockets, reconnaissance and thermal security cameras.”

When asked specifically if US officers were present, Al Ezz replied:

“The Americans are on our side.”

This assertion has been bolstered by evidence that the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes in Syria have only focused on Daesh and intentionally avoided al-Nusra positions.

With al-Nusra now officially removed from Western terror watchlists, foreign governments that are opposed to the Assad regime – particularly the U.S. – will be free to fund and arm al-Qaeda as they see fit, making the West’s alleged goal of creating a post-Assad “secular Syria” a remote possibility at best.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress contributor who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, 21st Century Wire, and True Activist among others – she currently resides in Southern Chile.

Featured image:  Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

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As Donald Trump arrives in Israel, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are participating in a hunger strike to protest their mistreatment. On April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, approximately 1,500 prisoners began refusing food, ingesting only salt water. That amounts to about a quarter of all Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel.Juan Mendez (Source: un.org)Their demands include increased visitation rights with humane treatment of family visitors; installation of a public telephone to communicate with families; and an end to medical negligence, solitary confinement and administrative detention.

Many of the striking prisoners have been taken to the hospital after their health deteriorated, the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs reported.

Marwan Barghouti, the imprisoned Palestinian activist who called for the hunger strike, wrote in a New York Times op-ed,

“Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.”

Barghouti added,

“Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and medical negligence.”

In a rare public statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) decried the “systematic suspension” by Israeli authorities of family visits for hunger strikers, and of permits for their families. Citing the Fourth Geneva Convention, the ICRC said Palestinians have a right to these visits, which can only be limited on a case-by-case basis for security reasons, not just for punitive or disciplinary purposes.

Approximately 40 percent of the Palestinian territory’s male population has been imprisoned or detained by Israel at some point. Hundreds of the 6,500 Palestinians who are currently incarcerated are women, children, journalists and elected officials.

“There is hardly a single family in Palestine that has not endured the suffering caused by the imprisonment of one or several of its members,” Barghouti wrote.

Solitary Confinement

The Israeli authorities have tried to break the strike by moving leaders into solitary confinement. Solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations, catatonia and even suicide, particularly in prisoners who are already living with mental illness.

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Juan Mendez (Source: un.org)

Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, concluded that prolonged solitary confinement may violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Israel is party to both treaties.

Administrative Detention

Many Palestinians in Israeli prisons are in custody under administrative detention, where they are held without formal charges for months, even years, based on secret evidence.

Administrative detention violates the ICCPR. It forbids arbitrary detention and mandates that prisoners be promptly informed of the charges against them and afforded due process.

Israel Considers Force-Feeding Striking Prisoners

Israeli officials have reportedly put food in front of striking prisoners, which a lawyer for the Palestinian Authority characterized as “psychological torture.”

Israel has threatened to force-feed prisoners participating in the hunger strike, but the Israeli Medical Association stands by the medical opinion that force-feeding is “never ethically acceptable.” As a result, Israel is reportedly considering importing foreign doctors to force feed hunger strikers. Physicians for Human Rights Israel asked the World Medical Association to tell doctors not to come to Israel to do what Israeli doctors will not.

The Declarations of Tokyo and Malta, the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association prohibit doctors from participating in force-feeding of prisoners capable of understanding the consequences of refusing food.

In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross guidelines state:

“Doctors should never be party to actual coercive feeding. Such actions can be considered a form of torture and under no circumstances should doctors participate in them on the pretext of saving the hunger striker’s life.”

Palestinians Live Under Illegal Occupation

Barghouti, a Palestinian political prisoner who has spent 15 years in an Israeli prison, is one of the most prominent Palestinian leaders. He launched the First and Second Intifadas against Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. In his op-ed, he wrote,

“Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions.”

Many international human rights experts concur. Richard Falk, former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and professor emeritus at Princeton University, and Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University and an authority on apartheid, co-authored a report commissioned and published in March by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The report concluded “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians constitutes “the crime of Apartheid,” which the authors characterized as a “crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

Falk and Tilley recommended participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), a nonviolent worldwide movement challenging the Israeli occupation.

The BDS movement was launched in 2005 by representatives of Palestinian civil society. They called upon

“international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era … [including] embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”

This call for BDS specified that “these nonviolent punitive measures” should last until Israel fully complies with international law by

1.) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier wall;

2.) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3.) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

The US Enables the Occupation

Israel exercises control over nearly every aspect of Palestinian life in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. That includes borders, airspace, ingress and egress of people and goods, and the seashore and waters off the coast of Gaza. The occupation violates the fundamental human rights of Palestinians.

In 2014, Israel invaded Gaza and killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians. Nearly 10,000 Palestinians were wounded, more than 2,000 of them children. Tens of thousands of Palestinians lost their homes and infrastructure was severely damaged. Numerous schools, UN places of refuge, hospitals, ambulances and mosques were intentionally targeted.

Flavia Pansieri, former UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, said that human rights violations

“fuel and shape the conflict” in the occupied Palestinian territories, adding, “human rights violations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are both cause and consequence of the military occupation and ongoing violence, in a bitter cyclical process with wider implications for peace and security in the region.”

Israel could not maintain the occupation without the support of its chief ally, the United States. Before he left office, Barack Obama promised Israel a record $38 billion in military assistance over the next 10 years.

In spite of Israel’s pervasive violation of Palestinian human rights, the US government walks in lockstep with Israel. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful United States-based organization that lobbies for Israel, heavily influences US foreign policy.

International criticism of Israel is opposed not only by Israel but also by the United States.

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, pressured UN Secretary-General Antonió Guterres to withdraw the Falk-Tilley report from the UN website, and Guterres capitulated. The chairperson of the UN agency that published the report resigned in protest against the withdrawal.

In April, all 100 US senators signed a letter to Guterres decrying “the UN’s anti-Israel bias” and “continued targeting of Israel by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and other UN entities.” The letter praised Guterres for “disavowing” the Falk-Tilley report and demanded the elimination or reformation of UN committees that support the BDS movement.

In the letter, the senators decried anti-Semitism but made no mention of Israel’s egregious violations of Palestinian rights. Any criticism of Israeli policy is labeled anti-Semitism, even though many Jews — including members of Jewish Voice for Peace, Jewish Center for Nonviolence and IfNotNow — oppose the occupation.

What Will Trump Do in Israel?

Trump has naïvely expressed a desire to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet his choice for US ambassador was David Friedman, who opposes Palestinian statehood. Friedman is a major patron of the illegal settlements Israel continues to build on Palestinian land: not an honest broker.

Israel is likely reeling from Trump’s provision to the Russians of intelligence Israel gave the US in secret. Still, Israel will probably maintain the pretense of cordiality in order to keep the gravy train running.

We will see what Trump does and says during his visit to Israel. He sent 59 Tomahawk missiles to Syria to avenge the chemical attack allegedly carried out by the Syrian government. Will Trump express concern about Israel’s human rights violations, including those underlying the prisoners’ hunger strike?

There has been a painful silence from the international community about the hunger strike. The Global Palestinian Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Network said in a statement,

“The lack of international response to the mass hunger strike of over 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners who are in need of immediate intervention and protection symbolizes the dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinian people in their struggle for dignity, justice and freedom.”

As Barghouti wrote,

“Freedom and dignity are universal rights that are inherent in humanity, to be enjoyed by every nation and all human beings. Palestinians will not be an exception. Only ending occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace.”

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Visit her website: MarjorieCohn.com. Follow her on Twitter: @MarjorieCohn.

Featured image: Joe Catron/Flickr

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The election on 9 May 2017 of Moon Jae-in as president of the Republic of Korea may have applied the brakes to a dangerous increase in tensions between the two Korean States, the USA, China, Japan, and Russia. Moon Jae-in, 64 years old, formerly a human rights lawyer, has long been a political figure having come in second in the 2012 presidential elections just behind Ms Park Geun-hye, recently ousted on corruption charges thus provoking early elections. There are 10 or so candidates in the elections for president, the person receiving the highest percentage of votes is elected. Thus the 41% of the votes for Moon Jae-in is a strong victory, due in part to his popularity among young voters and also a reaction to the levels of corruption in the administration of his two predecessors, Park and Lee Myung-Bak.

Moon follows in the tradition of Presidents Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Mu-hyun. Kim was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his “Sunshine Policy” of tension reduction with North Korea.  Moon had served as a chief administrator for Roh. During the decade of the Kim and Roh administrations from 1998 to 2007, inter-Korean conciliation and cooperation made unprecedented progress.  The highpoint was the 15 June 2000 North-South Joint Declaration signed in Pyongyang by Kim Jong-Il for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Kim Dae-Jung for the Republic of Korea.

The Declaration set out reunification as a chief goal along with economic cooperation and building

mutual confidence by activating cooperation and exchanges in all fields, social, cultural, sports, public health, environmental and so on.”  Furthermore “The North and South agreed to hold dialogues between the authorities as soon as possible to implement the above-mentioned agreed points in the near future.”

While there was a second inter-Korean summit between Kim Jong-Il and Roh Moo-hyun again in Pyongyang in October 2007 reaffirming the spirit of the joint declaration of 2000, the road has been downhill since 2000 to the point that the image of a car stopping just at the brink of a cliff is more than a poetic image.

Now, there may be a possibility of small steps that build confidence between the two Koreas and that do not overly worry the USA and China who watch events closely and who may do more than watch.  The one program that did follow the 2000 Declaration was a greater possibility for short meetings among family members from North and South, many of whom have been divided since the 1950-1953 War.  Such meetings do not undermine either system and have a humanitarian character. Cultural cooperation could also be undertaken since cultural events are of short duration.

Cooperation for work in industrial zones has had a very up-and-down history and needs to be restarted almost from nothing today. Nevertheless, the Tumen River Area Development Project (TRADP) now often called the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) is probably the best framework for rapid cooperative development. The planning of a Tumen River economic zone at the mouth of the river had been drawn up in the early 1990s by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  The project calls for a vast free economic zone which would involve parts of Mongolia, China, Russia and the two Korean States as well as Japan as a logical regional development partner. However, development has fallen far short of initial expectations for reasons both internal and external to the participating States.

Image result for Greater Tumen Initiative

Vice Ministers of the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) member countries met in Vladivostok on10 October 2012, marking the occasion of the 13th Meeting of the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) Consultative Commission (CC) to share their visions on regional economic development. (Source: tumenprogramme.org)

The one security issue on which some progress might be made concerns the Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) and the maritime boundaries of the two States in the West Sea of the peninsula, the sea limits having created tense confrontations between North and South Korean war ships in the past. (1)

It is unlikely that any progress will be made in the foreseeable future concerning denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula or unification. Small steps are probably the “order of the day”. However Track II – informal discussions which are not negotiations but a clarification of possible common interests can be helpful.

Relations with the external nuclear powers (USA, China, Russia) will remain difficult, but the “rules of the game” which have held since 1954 may continue if care is taken to strengthen the modalities of crisis management.

René Wadlow, a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and of its Task Force on the Middle East, is president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.

Note

(1) See Johan Galtung and Jae-Bong Lee Korea: The Twisting Road to Unification (Oslo: Kolofon Press, 2011, 173pp.)

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U.S President Trump’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia, the fountainhead of terrorism, and the decision to sell $350 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, even as he preaches against terrorism, couldn’t possibly be more ironic.

Saudi Arabia is a chief weapons dealer and financier to the terrorists in Syria – all in coordination with U.S –led NATO.

The amended project Timber Sycamore details explicitly that the U.S trains and provides lethal assistance to terrorists and that Saudi Arabia provides money and weapons.

Canada, with its military hardware deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also guilty.

It isn’t difficult to find evidence that the weapons flow directly to terrorists. NATO weapons caches were found in liberated Aleppo. More recently, ISIL weapons caches found in Mosul, Iraq were of Saudi Arabian origin.

Saudi Arabia is a tyranny where women aren’t allowed to drive motor vehicles, but that is irrelevant since human rights are anathema to the West’s support for anti-democratic head-chopping terrorists.

If human rights and democracy were a concern, the West would be supporting democratic, pluralist, secular Syria instead of Saudi Arabia.  Similarly, the West would be fighting rather than supporting terrorism if human rights were a concern.

Any country that represents democracy and sovereignty and independent decision-making.  Any country that chooses to use its resources for the benefit and uplift of its citizens – a country such as Syria for example (or Libya, or Honduras, or Venezuela, or countless others) is subject to find itself at the receiving end of the West’s terror campaigns.  This is the evidence-based reality.

The decision to pursue criminal warfare in alliance with the most reprehensible regimes to satisfy the wishes of often un-elected dark state megalomaniac cabals — and to spread death, poverty, and terrorism globally – contradicts everything that is sane and Life-enhancing.

Ask any Syrian. They know first-hand what it’s like to be victimized by NATO’s sectarian, anti-democratic terrorists, by illegal terror sanctions, and by criminal bombing campaigns that target civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Any political economy such as ours, that requires vast outlays of public monies to support a Life-destroying globalized agenda, is surely a system that is best suited for the trash can.

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New York Times columnist Tom Friedman outraged many readers when he wrote an opinion piece on 12 April calling on President Trump to “back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria”. The reason he gave for that recommendation was not that US wars in the Middle East are inevitably self-defeating and endless, but that it would reduce the “pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah”.

That suggestion that the US sell out its interest in counter-terrorism in the Middle East to gain some advantage in power competition with its adversaries was rightly attacked as cynical.

But, in fact, the national security bureaucracies of the US – which many have come to call the “Deep State” – have been selling out their interests in counter-terrorism in order to pursue various adventures in the region ever since George W Bush declared a “Global War on Terrorism” in late 2001.

The whole war on terrorism has been, in effect, a bait-and-switch operation from the beginning. The idea that US military operations were somehow going to make America safer after the 9/11 attacks was the bait. What has actually happened ever since then, however, is that senior officials at the Pentagon and the CIA have been sacrificing the interest of American people in weakening al-Qaeda in order to pursue their own institutional interests.

‘The only game in town’

It all began, of course, with the invasion of Iraq. Counter-terrorism specialists in the US government knew perfectly well that US regime change in Iraq through military force would give a powerful boost to Osama bin Laden‘s organisation and to anti-American terrorism generally. Rand Beers, then senior director for counter-terrorism on the National Security Council staff, told his predecessor Richard Clarke in late 2002,

“Do you know how much it will strengthen al-Qaeda and groups like that if we occupy Iraq?”

After it quickly became clear that the US war in Iraq was already motivating young men across the Middle East to wage jihad against the US in Iraq, the chief architect of the occupation of Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, came up with the patently false rationalisation that Iraq would be a “flytrap” for jihadists.

But in January 2005, after a year of research, the CIA issued a major intelligence assessment warning that the war was breeding more al-Qaeda extremist militants from all over the Middle East and even giving them combat experience that they would eventually be able to use back home. In a 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, the intelligence community warned that the number of people identifying themselves as jihadists was growing and was becoming more widespread geographically and even predicted growing terrorist threats from “self-radicalized cells” both in the US and abroad.

The war managers continued to claim that their wars were making Americans safer. CIA director Michael Hayden (image on the right) not only sought to sell the flypaper argument on Iraq, but also bragged to the Washington Post in 2008 that the CIA was making great progress against al-Qaeda, based mainly on its burgeoning drone war in Pakistan.

But Hayden and the CIA had a huge bureaucratic interest in that war. He had lobbied Bush in 2007 to loosen restraints on drone strikes in Pakistan and let the CIA launch lethal attacks on the mere suspicion that a group of males were al-Qaeda.

It soon became clear that it wasn’t really weakening the al-Qaeda in the northwest Pakistan at all. Even drone operators themselves began privately criticising the drone attacks for making many more young Pakistanis hate the United States and support al-Qaeda. The only thing Leon Panetta, Hayden’s successor as CIA director, could say in defence of the programme was that it was “the only game in town”.

Covert wars

Barack Obama wanted out of a big war in Iraq. But Centcom Commander Gen David Petraeus and Joint Chiefs of Staff director Gen Stanley A McChrystal talked Obama into approving a whole new series of covert wars using CIA drone strikes and special operations commando raids against al-Qaeda and other jihadist organisations in a dozen countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. At the top of their list of covert wars was Yemen, where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had just been formed.

Rubbles from drone strikes in Yemen

Since 2009, the Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA have launched 16 cruise missile strikes and 183 drone strikes in Yemen. Unfortunately, they lacked the intelligence necessary for such a campaign. As many as one-third of the strikes killed innocent civilians and local notables – including the cruise missile strike in December 2009 which killed 41 civilians and an attack on a wedding party in December 2013.

Virtually every independent observer agrees that those killings have fed Yemeni hatred of the US and contributed to AQAP’s lustre as the leading anti-US organisation in the country.

The CIA again claimed they were doing a splendid job of hitting AQAP, but in fact the Yemeni offshoot of al-Qaeda continued to be the primary terrorism threat while the covert war continued. Three times between late 2009 and 2012, it mounted efforts to bring down airliners and nearly succeeded in two of the three.

Sharpened contradictions

In late 2011 and early 2012, the contradiction between the US pretension to counter-terrorism in its Middle East policy and the interests sharpened even further. That’s when the Obama administration adopted a new anti-Iran hard line in the region to reassure the Saudis that we were still committed to the security alliance. That hard line policy had nothing to do with a nuclear deal with Iran, which came more than a year later.

At first, it took the form of covert logistical assistance to the Sunni allies to arm Sunni anti-Assad forces in Syria. But in 2014, the Obama administration began providing anti-tank missiles to selected anti-Assad armed groups. And when the Nusra Front wanted the groups the CIA had supported in Idlib to coordinate with the jihadist offensive to seize control of Idlib province, the Obama administration did not object.

The Obama national security team was willing to take advantage of the considerable military power of the Nusra Front-led jihadist alliance. But it was all done with a wink and a nod to maintain the fiction that it was still committed to defeating al-Qaeda everywhere.

When the Saudis came to Washington in March 2015 with a plan to wage a major war in Yemen against the Houthis and their new ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the deep state was ready to give Saudi a green light. A predictable consequence of that decision has been to fuel the rise of AQAP, which had already emerged as the primary threat of terrorist attack on the US, to an unprecedented position of power.

The biggest winner

As documented by the International Crisis Group, AQAP has been the biggest winner in the war, taking advantage of state collapse, an open alliance with the Saudi-supported government and a major infusion of arms – much of it provided indirectly by the Saudis.

Endowed with a political strategy of playing up AQAP’s role as champion of Sunni sectarian interests against those Yemenis whom they wrongly call Shia, AQAP controlled a large swath of territory across southern Yemen, with the port of Mukalla as their headquarters. And even though the Saudi coalition recaptured the territory, they maintain a strong political presence there.

AQAP will certainly emerge from the disastrous war in Yemen as the strongest political force in the south, with a de-facto safe haven in which to plot terrorist attacks against the US. And they can thank the war bureaucracies in the US who helped them achieve that powerful position.

But the reason for the betrayal of US counter-terrorism interests is not that the senior officials in charge of these war bureaucracies want to promote al-Qaeda. It is because they had to sacrifice the priority of countering al-Qaeda to maintain the alliances, the facilities and the operations on which their continued power and resources depend.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Featured image: AFP

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Trumped Up Diplomacy in the Middle East

May 23rd, 2017 by Richard Falk

In his first overseas trip since moving into the White House, Donald Trump is leaving behind the frustrations, allegations, rumors, and an increasing sense of implosion that seems to be dooming his presidency during its second hundred days. At the same time, a mixture of curiosity and apprehension awaits this new leader wherever he goes making his visit to the Middle East and Europe momentous occasions for the host governments, wide eyed public, and rapacious media. We need to remember that in this era of popular autocrats and surging right-wing populists, Trump is a ‘hero of our time.’

Even if all had gone smoothly for the new president in his home country, there should be expressions of deep concern about his travel itinerary. He visits first the two countries with which the United States has ‘special relationships’ in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Israel. What has long made them ‘special’ are a series of pre-Trump departures from realist and normative foreign policy orientations by successive American presidencies. These departures were motivated by oil geopolitics, arms sales and strategic alliances, hostility to Iran, and a disguised American sweet spot for foreign royalty. It is has long been obvious that uncritical deference to Israeli priorities has seriously undermined U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, which would have benefited much more from policies designed to encourage peace and stability by refraining from regime-changing interventions, massive arms sales, and a diplomacy of respect for the politics of national self-determination.

Most remarkably, the U.S. Government has for decades winked at the billions of support given by Saudi members of the royal family to Wahhabism, that is, to promote fundamentalist Islam, throughout the Muslim world. The first words uttered by Trump on his arrival in Riyadh were that it is ‘an honor’ to be visiting.

Trump delivering his speech in the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh (Source: Jornal O Globo)

Then came signed deals adding up to US$110 billion in arms sales and the declaration of a common strategic vision, that is, a super-alliance, called an ‘Arab NATO’ in some circles, a dagger aimed at Iran’s heart. Why turn a blind eye toward the Saudi role in fanning the flames of jihadism while ramping up a military threat to relatively passive Iran that reelected Hassan Rouhani as its president, who has consistently championed moderation at home and normalization abroad.

How can we explain this? Trump has been critical of most aspects of the foreign policy agenda of his predecessors, but on the promotion of the special relationships he seems intent on doubling down on the most misguided aspects of earlier approaches to the region. The shape of his travel itinerary during his days confirms this impression. In this regard, Trump repudiates Obama’s hesitant, but in the end successful, efforts to bring Iran in from the cold, while trying to please Saudi Arabia by ignoring its extreme denial of human rights to its own people as well as its contributions to anti-Western terrorism.

If Trump was truly intent on putting America first, as he insistently asserts, then he could do so very directly and effectively by taking three major steps toward the protection of national interests: first, demand a firm commitment from the Saudi government to cease using private funds and public diplomacy to spread Wahhabism beyond its borders. Any credible public statement along these lines would weaken ISIS and other terrorist movements throughout the world far more than cascades of Tomahawk missiles dumped on a Syrian airfield. Such a challenge to Saudi policies also raises the possibility, however remote, of an endgame in the ‘war on terror.’ If such a reset of Saudi relations could be coupled with an indefinite freeze on arms sales to the Gulf countries that would have been even better, sending a signal throughout the region that America will no longer engage with the bloody conflicts that have brought so much suffering and devastation to the Middle East. This might give some belated meaning to ‘America first.’

US president Donald Trump and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The second step would have been even harder for an American president to take. It would require Trump to tell Mr. Netanyahu that no further military assistance for Israel would be authorized until an unconditional freeze on settlement expansion was in place and enforced, and the blockade of Gaza lifted once and for all.

It does not require a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies to appreciate that the establishment of a nuclear free zone in the region and the adoption of effective steps to minimize the sectarian divide between Sunni and Shia Islam would improve future prospects for these horrendously disrupted political realities, at last reducing tensions and risks of wars. Nor does it require special knowledge to identify the obstacles such actions—the one government that already possesses nuclear weapons and the government that feels threatened by a challenge to its regional preeminence. Saudi Arabia and Israel both regard Iran as enemy number one, although it poses no existential threat to either one, and Israel will not even discuss giving up its nuclear arsenal despite being assured by Washington that its qualitative edge in conventional weaponry relative to its neighbors will be upheld.

The special relationships block even the consideration of enlightened initiatives; take them entirely off the table. This contrasts with the American proclivity for coercive diplomacy, which always assertively leaves the military option on the table. Without tension-reducing measures, a few false moves could easily give rise to a major war with Iran, which might bring smiles to leaders in Riyadh and Tel Aviv, but would be disastrous for the societies involved and for the United States, as well as for the region.

Given the leverage and militancy of pro-Israeli lobbies in the United States, more realistically pursuing American national interests toward Israel and the Middle East, seems tantamount to issuing invitations to Trump’s beheading, and despite his wildly gyrations of policy and mood, he has shown no disposition whatsoever to take on AIPAC, inc. Quite the contrary.

Of course, I am not so naïve to think that the advocacy of rationality in foreign policy will have the slightest echo in Washington in the course of Trump’s current diplomatic foray into uncharted territories. What I wish to point out is that this kind of foreign policy fantasy, however desirable if it were to be enacted, has become a species of political suicide. Any political leader who moved in more rational directions would be risking his own life, at least politically. The proposals mentioned above tells us what an American president should do if a rational and humane political system was in place and organized in such ways as to allow the pursuit of national interests, the realization of values associated with peace and human rights, and to attain the benefits of just and sustainable Israeli/Palestinian peace arrangements.

As long as these dysfunctional special relationships are relied upon to define American national interests in the Middle East, violent extremism and turmoil will persist, the authority of the United Nations and international law will suffer, and the credibility of American regional and global leadership will further erode. And maybe worst of all, the mounting ecological and nuclear challenges of global scope and apocalyptical risk will be remain unattended in what has become the greatest display of species indifference to its own survival throughout human history.

Mainstream advice on the Middle East being proffered to the Trump presidency by Beltway sharpshooters takes for granted the geopolitical status quo questioned above. The problems presented by the two special relationships are not even mentioned. Given these perspectives there are three broad kinds of approaches recommended for the region:

(1) don’t aim too high, lower expectations, and don’t touch raw nerves in Israel or the Arab world (e.g. moving the American embassy to Jerusalem or telling Israel to dismantle the separation wall, stop expanding settlements, or handle the ongoing hunger strike humanely)[See Aaron David Miller, “From My Twenty Years of Failing at Middle East Peace,” Foreign Policy online, May 19, 2017];

(2) gang up on Iran, which will please both Israel and Saudi Arabia, and will have some positive resonance back in the United States [e.g. Michael Doran, “A Trump Plan for the Middle East,” NY Times, May 19, 2017];

(3) adopt the Israeli hard right view, now pushed within the United States, that the best road to ‘peace’ is to give Israel a green light to exert even greater pressure on the Palestinians to the point of their surrender. [a position repeatedly advocated by Daniel Pipes on the online listserv Middle East Forum and elsewhere, see Pipes, “The Way to Peace: Israeli Victory and Palestinian Defeat,” Commentary, Jan. 2017; Pipes boasts of his work with the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus that wants the U.S. Government to stop talking about ‘the two state solution,’ and support an Israeli shift from managing the status quo to launching a campaign to defeat Palestinians so decisively as to end the conflict.]

The first of these approaches is a cautionary warning to Trump the maker of grand deals not to exceed the boundaries of the feasible. The Israel/Palestine conflict is not ripe for resolution, Israel has no incentive or inclination to reach a fair compromise and even if it were, the Palestinians are currently too fragmented and poorly led to provide a reliable negotiating partner. The second geopolitically oriented approach makes matters worse, pushing the sectarian and secular divides in the direction of a regional confrontation, even combat. The third is geopolitically triumphalist, assuming that the Palestinians can be induced to give up their century old struggle, and go the way of other indigenous lost causes that have succumbed to predatory settler movements.

As Trump dominates the news by his visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel we should not be tricked into thinking that his ‘achievements’ are hopeful developments. The only true beacons of hope for the peoples of the Middle East are the contrarian affirmations of the Palestinian hunger strike, the Rouhani electoral victory, and the BDS Campaign. The fact that such developments are ignored or condemned by the dominant political forces in the West should at least alert us to gathering storm clouds in that tormented region and elsewhere.

Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, an international relations scholar, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, author, co-author or editor of 40 books, and a speaker and activist on world affairs. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies, and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).

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A report in Sunday’s edition of the Washington Post accuses the Pentagon of operating a multi-billion dollar slush fund which it has accrued over the past seven years by overcharging the armed forces for the cost of fuel purchases. The $5.9 billion it has built up since 2010 has been used to fund military operations in Syria and Afghanistan, effectively avoiding any of the budgetary oversight requirements necessary to obtain additional funding from Congress.

The most significant expenditures from the fund identified by the Post were a total of $1.4 billion used in 2016 to maintain the United States’ brutal occupation of Afghanistan and the use of $80 million to train Islamist militias in Syria in 2015 with the aim of toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

The explosion in spending on the Afghan war illustrates the deepening crisis of the more than 15-year-old US occupation of the impoverished, war-torn country.

Billions of dollars have been spent on waging a ruthless counter-insurgency war against the resistance of the local population to the US presence, led by the Islamist Taliban. This has included the expenditure of vast sums of money to establish and prop up a corrupt puppet regime in Kabul, which is struggling to exercise authority over more than a few major cities, is deeply reviled by wide sections of the population, and is losing ground to the Taliban. Just last month, Taliban fighters carried out their bloodiest attack on the Afghan army since 2001, killing upwards of 200 soldiers.

The $80 million redirected by the Pentagon to Syria helped continue to fund a US training program to create a Sunni militia capable of fighting ISIS and ousting Assad. The program proved to be an unmitigated disaster, managing to train only 150 of the original target of 5,000 fighters. Most of these fighters were captured by al-Qaida or other groups when they were sent into Syria, or deserted.

This setback only caused Washington to intervene even more aggressively, first by funneling aid through its Gulf allies and the CIA to Jihadi proxy forces to wage war in Syria, and later by bolstering the presence of US ground forces. Under President Trump, the number of US ground forces in Syria has more than doubled and he has relaxed restrictions on airstrikes, leading to a dramatic spike in civilian casualties.

The sharpest criticism of the Pentagon’s slush fund came from Navy officials, who described the surplus built up by the Pentagon as a “bishop’s fund.”

The Post noted that the Defense Logistics Agency, the body responsible for selling fuel, sets a fixed price which is often substantially higher than the commercial rate and is intended to remain in place for a year. Before 2009, no major discrepancies arose, but from 2010 onwards, the DLA began setting prices at levels sometimes $1 per barrel above the commercial rate.

A review of Pentagon purchasing data found that the branches of the armed forces had been charged $23 billion more for fuel between 2010 and 2016 than commercial airlines would have paid.

While Pentagon officials acknowledged that around three-quarters of this covered additional costs, such as specialized fuel requirements and overheads, this still left a $5.9 billion surplus. The only time Congress appears to have directly intervened was in 2015, when it requested the Pentagon to return $1 billion to reflect reduced fuel prices.

The Defense Department’s use of such a fund to meet the costs of military operations is only the latest example of the increasing ability of the military-intelligence apparatus to act outside of any accountability to Congress. Despite the US gargantuan defense budget, which dwarfs those of all of its nearest competitors, the Pentagon has over recent years taken advantage of accounting methods to allocate tens of billions more in funding to military operations beyond the funds approved by Congress.

Under the Obama administration, Democrats and Republicans included a so-called parity regulation as part of their 2011 budget deal which stipulated that any increase in defense spending had to be accompanied by a corresponding rise in domestic budgets. To avoid this requirement, the Pentagon increasingly relied on Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, which is designed to cover the costs of foreign wars. Reports suggest that the Pentagon now uses $30 billion of OCO annually to supplement its base budget.

Such developments could only take place under conditions where there is a bipartisan consensus to retain the US military as a force capable of waging war around the globe. Both the Democrats and Republicans, speaking on behalf of the super-rich oligarchy in the United States, are fully committed to the increasing resort to military violence in a desperate bid to offset Washington’s economic decline and retain its hegemonic position against its geopolitical rivals in every region of the world. Under conditions in which Washington has been waging virtually uninterrupted war for a quarter-century, the maintenance of even a semblance of democratic control over the military’s operations is increasingly impossible.

President Obama initiated the US intervention in Syria, expanded the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, launched air and drone strikes on at least eight countries across the Middle East and North Africa, and facilitated the bloody Saudi onslaught on Yemen, where tens of thousands of civilians have died.

In a revealing finding that shows how routine the waging of war has become for the US military, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Pentagon’s accounting systems do not recognize a difference between wartime operations and routine expenditure, which was traditionally covered by the base defense budget.

The GAO wrote that the Defense Department internally reallocated $146 billion in operations and maintenance (O&M) funding between 2009 and 2015, but added,

“[T]he effects of such realignments on base obligations were not readily apparent because DOD did not report its O&M base obligations to Congress separately from its O&M overseas contingency operations (OCO) obligations used to support war-related programs and activities.”

Even greater sums of money are to be allocated to the military under Trump’s budget proposal, to which the Democrats have offered virtually no opposition, of an annual defense spending increase of $54 billion, equivalent to almost 10 percent of the existing budget. Such additional funds will pay for the escalation of the conflict in the Middle East, where the US is seeking to maintain its dominance over one of the most energy-rich regions of the world against its chief rivals, Russia and China.

On Friday, Defense Secretary James Mattis put forward a plan for the waging of war by the US across a region stretching from Central Asia to West Africa.

Presented as a fight against Jihadi “terrorism,” it is in reality only one step in the global military strategy of US imperialism, which carries the increasing risk of triggering a catastrophic world war between the major powers.

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Trump in Israel: Not Remembering the USS Liberty

May 23rd, 2017 by Ray McGovern

It is safe to assume that when President Donald Trump lands in Israel Monday, he will not have been briefed on the irrefutable evidence that, nearly 50 years ago – on June 8, 1967 – Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty in international waters, killing 34 U.S. sailors and wounding more than 170 other crew. All of Trump’s predecessors – Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – have refused to address the ugly reality and/or covered up the attack on the Liberty.

It is not too late for someone to fill Trump in on this shameful episode, on the chance he may wish to show more courage than former presidents and warn the Israelis that this kind of thing will not be tolerated while he is president.

A new book by Philip Nelson titled: Remember the Liberty: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas, is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand what actually happened to the Liberty and to contemplate the implications.

As I wrote in the book’s Foreword: Even today, scandalously few Americans have heard of the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, because the cowardly U.S. political, military, and media establishments have managed to hide what happened.  No one “important” wanted to challenge Israel’s lame “oops-mistake” excuse.  Intercepted Israeli communications show beyond doubt it was no “mistake.”

Chief Petty Officer J.Q. “Tony” Hart, who monitored conversations between then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Sixth Fleet Carrier Division Commander Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis, reported McNamara’s instructive reply to Geis, who had protested the order to recall the U.S. warplanes on their way to engage those attacking the Liberty. McNamara:

“President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally (sic) over a few sailors.”

The late Adm. Thomas Moorer after interviewing the commanders of the U.S. aircraft carriers America and Saratoga confirmed that McNamara ordered the aircraft back to their carriers. Moorer called it

“the most disgraceful act I witnessed in my entire military career.”

USS Liberty (AGTR-5) receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967. (US Navy photo)

Thanks to this book, those who care about such things can learn what actually happened 50 years ago:

(1) On June 8, 1967, Israel attempted to sink the US Navy intelligence collection ship USS Liberty and leave no survivors. The attack came by aircraft and torpedo boat, in full daylight in international waters during the Six-Day Israeli-Arab War;

(2) The U.S. cover-up taught the Israelis that they could literally get away with murder; they killed 34 U.S. sailors (and wounded more than 170 others); and

(3) As part of an unconscionable government cover-up, the Navy threatened to court martial and imprison any survivor who so much as told his wife what had actually happened. (This, incidentally, put steroids to the PTSD suffered by many of the survivors.)

One Stab at Truth

The only investigation worth the name was led by Adm. Moorer, who had been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He led a blue-ribbon, independent commission to examine what happened to the Liberty. Among the findings announced by the commission on October 2003:

“…Unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm canisters on the USS Liberty bridge, and fired 30mm cannon and rockets into the ship; survivors estimate 30 or more sorties were flown over the ship by a minimum of 12 attacking Israeli planes. …

“…The torpedo boat attack involved not only the firing of torpedoes, but machine-gunning of Liberty’s firefighters and stretcher-bearers. … The Israeli torpedo boats later returned to machine-gun at close range three of the Liberty’s life rafts that had been lowered into the water by survivors to rescue the most seriously wounded.”

Shortly before he died in February 2004, Adm. Moorer strongly appealed for the truth to be brought out and pointed directly at what he saw as the main obstacle:

“I’ve never seen a President … stand up to Israel. … If the American people understood what a grip these people have on our government, they would rise up in arms.” [As quoted by Richard Curtiss in A Changing Image: American Perception of the Arab-Israeli Dispute.]

Echoing Moorer, former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, who served many years in the Middle East, condemned Washington’s attitude toward Israel as “obsequious, unctuous subservience … at the cost of the lives and morale of our own service members and their families.”

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

And the Six-Day War? Most Americans believe the Israelis were forced to defend against a military threat from Egypt. Not so, admitted former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin 35 years ago:

“In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” [The New York Times quoting an August 1982 Begin speech.]

Adm. Moorer kept asking why our government continues to subordinate American interests to those of Israel. It is THE question.

The War in Syria

Fast forward to the catastrophe that is now Syria. U.S. policy support for illusory “moderate rebels” there – including false-flag chemical attacks blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – can only be fully understood against the mirror of U.S. acquiescence to Israeli objectives.

New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief in 2013, Jodi Rudoren, received an unusually candid response when she asked senior Israeli officials about Israel’s preferred outcome in Syria. In a New York Times article on September 6, 2013, titled “Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria,” Rudoren reported the Israeli view that the best outcome for Syria’s civil war was no outcome:

“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.

“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile from the Mediterranean Sea into Syria, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price)

Obama may have read or been briefed on Rudoren’s article. In any event, last year he told journalist Jeffrey Goldberg how proud he is at having resisted strong pressure from virtually all his advisors to fire cruise missiles on Syria in September 2013. Instead, Obama chose to take advantage of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to get the Syrians to surrender their chemical weapons for destruction, verified by the U.N., aboard a U.S. ship configured for such destruction. President Trump, in contrast, chose to go with his “mad-dog” advisors. It is not yet clear whether he was successfully mousetrapped, or whether he saw the April 4 chemical incident in Syria as an opportunity to “retaliate,” and get a bump in popularity.

There are wider ramifications of rank dishonesty and cover-up, at which Establishment Washington excels. Have we not seen this movie before?  Think Iraq. Once again, the “intelligence” is being “fixed.”

Back to the Liberty, Adm. Moorer is right in saying that, if Americans were told the truth about what happened on June 8, 1967, they might be more discriminating in seeing through Israel’s rhetoric and objectives. Moorer insisted that we owe no less to brave men of the USS Liberty, but also to every man and woman who is asked to wear the uniform of the United States. And he is right about that too.

This book makes a huge contribution toward those worthy ends.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He served as a CIA analyst for 27 years, and was “on duty” when the USS Liberty was attacked.

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The recent strike on a Syrian military convoy within Syrian territory by US military forces represents another incremental escalation by Washington within the region, and another example of American unilateral military aggression worldwide.

The tactical scope of the attack was relatively limited, but strategically, the stakes particularly along Syria’s territorial boundaries have been raised significantly.

Regarding the attack, US geopolitical analysts appear unanimous regarding the rhyme and reason behind it.

Foreign Policy magazine in a recent article claimed that the strike “showed American commanders are willing to use force to maintain de facto safe zones in the country’s east.” The article also attempts to claim these “safe zones” are being used to stand up forces to fight the Islamic State.

In reality, the Islamic State was a creation of the US and its regional allies and meant specifically to “isolate the Syrian regime,” according to a 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency report.

Considering this, the Islamic State’s presence in Syria and narratives depicting US efforts as being aimed at fighting the terrorist front are simply being used as rhetorical cover for the more obvious and original purpose of US intervention, regime change in Damascus.

By attacking Syrian forces and asserting US control over Syrian territory, Washington is attempting to permanently “isolate” Damascus even further.

The Atlantic was even more specific in its analysis.

It’s article, “The Scramble for Post-ISIS Syria Has Officially Begun,” states clearly:

[The strikes] sent a message that the area around the base—al-Tanf in southeastern Syria, near the borders with Iraq and Jordan—was an “American sphere of influence and area of operations.”

The article also claimed:

Just as Assad and Iran look to be winning the ground war in Syria, the U.S. and its Syrian opposition partners in the south have intensified their own anti-ISIS activities, exerting more and more of an influence and presence in the south.

Of course, if “Assad and Iran” are poised to win the ground war in Syria, that includes the defeat of the Islamic State, which in theory would mean Washington should be augmenting Damascus and Tehran’s efforts, not impeding them with military strikes that not only tactically setback forces fighting the Islamic State and other extremist groups, but also raises the risk of a wider regional war between Washington, Damascus, Tehran and even Moscow that would create more extremism, not less.

US is Using the Islamic State as a Pretext for Regime Change

In reality, however, Washington is not interested in defeating the Islamic State, but rather using the terrorist front’s existence in Syria as a pretext for the incremental expansion of both its military presence in Syria and its use of military force directly against the government in Damascus where indirect methods (including the use of the Islamic State itself) have failed to topple it.

In the image on the left provided by the U.S. Air Force, an F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, as the U.S. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, launched its first airstrikes by Turkey-based F-16 fighter jets against Islamic State targets in Syria, marking a limited escalation of a yearlong air campaign that critics have called excessively cautious. (Krystal Ardrey/U.S. Air Force via AP)

Still, both Foreign Policy and The Atlantic, along with many others within US foreign policy circles admit that these activities will only be useful in establishing “safe zones” along Syria’s peripheries, not expedient regime change.

However, US policymakers have long planned to use such “safe zones” as starting points for a much more patient and long-term “deconstruction” of the Syrian nation-state. In fact, explicit plans to do so are included in a 2015 Brookings Institution report literally titled, “Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country.”

Plans to “gradually expand” territory seized from Syria by US forces and its allies go back even further, to 2012, before the Islamic State even rose to prominence. Reports like Brooking Institution’s March 2012 “Middle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change,” reveal that US intentions are not to fight terror or an “Islamic State” that didn’t even exist at the time, but simply to achieve “regime change.”

The aforementioned articles from Foreign Policy and The Atlantic attempt to frame US operations in Syria as “anti-terrorist” in nature, only alluding to obvious attempts by the US to carve out and permanently hold Syrian territory before the conflict concludes.

The Atlantic even references Iranian claims of a “US plot’ to establish a buffer zone in southern Syria ‘to protect terrorists.’”

If, as the US admits, the Syrian government is engaged in combat operations against the Islamic State and other US designated terrorist organizations, then for what other purpose could these “safe zones” be used but to harbor terrorists who would otherwise be liquidated upon the conflict’s conclusion in favor of the government in Damascus?

Acknowledging that nothing of the sort in regards to “moderate rebels” actually exists in Syria, what options would the US have regarding desired regime change upon the Islamic State and other extremist groups’ liquidation? Thus, Iranian claims represent the most sober and realistic analysis included in The Atlantic’s article.

The truth is fully revealed and reaffirmed with each and every US strike upon Syrian forces, that terrorism as it was in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan, was likewise brought to Syria by the US for the explicit purpose of fighting a proxy war against Damascus and failing that, serving as a pretext for an enduring US military presence within the country and for direct US military aggression against the government in Damascus itself.

With the US currently sealing an unprecedented armament deal with Riyadh, noted by both US intelligence agencies and prominent US political leaders as one of the premier state sponsors of terrorism (including of both Al Qaeda affiliates and the Islamic State itself in Syria) in the world, claims that its military presence in Syria is aimed at “defeating the Islamic State” begs belief.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

Featured image: New Eastern Outlook

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What is the Universal Periodic Review?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe. Currently, no other mechanism of this kind exists. You can get more information about the UPR though its website.

(http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/BasicFacts.aspx)

You can also see the full context the committee submitted on the English website. (http://en.savelee.kr/?p=1162)

The document was submitted at the end of March and will be reviewed during the month of November. The Committee is looking forward to positive feedback from all over the world.

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5th Representative Meeting of the Korean Committee to save the victims of ‘Lawmaker Lee Seok-ki Insurrection Conspiracy Case’

In April, 18, the meeting was held in the center of the National Council of Churches in Korea. Most delegates attended and mainly discussed organizing for the release of prisoners of conscience. And they decided to organize the committee for releasing the prisoners of conscience.

Background of the organization

In Korea’s modern history, the release of “prisoners of conscience” has been a representative reform task as one of the common demands of civil society and progressive camps. There is the case in which more than one hundred people were rehabilitated during the former president Roh Moo-hyun’s term of office. In light of this, the demand for “release of conscience” over the past decade has not have that phase. On the other hand, in the process of candlelight vigorous revolution, it is clear that the demand for it has ventured public opinion. In particular, the issue of the release of prisoners of conscience has gained a socially recognized achievement included in the ‘100 Actions of Resigning Park’ as a victim of Park Geun-hye‘s a deep-rooted evil. To become one of the priority tasks of social reform after the regime change, there is a need to expand the power and develop a more centralized practice.

Purpose of the organization

By establishing the “Prisoner Freedom Promotion Committee” (tentative name), we intend to mobilize various forces and collect a wide range of opinions though various activities. Thus, it pursues to make further advance the release of prisoners of conscience.

***

English Homepage Renewal and German Website Open

English -> http://en.savelee.kr

German -> http://freilassunglee.de

Please visit a lot and tell a lot of people who are interested.

***

2017 International Signature Campaign

The 2017 International Signature Campaign Movement will be launched to release the victims. Please check the attached document below for details, and ask for your many signatures. The signing exercise online will soon link to the English Homepage.

***

Join the Committee!

You can be the member of our committee by submitting your information in the Website.

Here’s our English version of the website: http://en.savelee.kr

Here’s our German version of the website: http://freilassunglee.de

Here’s our SNS accounts:

www.instagram.com/freedom2lee

www.facebook.com/Freedom2Lee

Please visit them for more detailed information!

***

Please support us!

We really need your support and partnership.

Through your help, we will be able to improve the situation regarding on human rights and peace in Korea.

Here’s our bank account:

Kukmin Bank (국민은행): 292501-01-212646 Jung Jin Woo (정진우 구명위)

Thank you!

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This article was first published in September 2014.

Evidence amply confirms that NATO is behind the recruitment of “jihadist” terrorists.

The same Western governments which are waging a “war on terrorism” are the unspoken State Sponsors of Terrorism involved directly or indirectly in the financing, recruitment and training of “jihadists”.

While NATO leaders in Newport Wales [September 2014] debate the Atlantic Alliance’s role “in containing a mounting militant threat in the Middle East”, it is worth recalling that in 2011 at the outset of the war in Syria,  NATO became actively involved in the recruitment of Islamic fighters.

Reminiscent of the enlistment of the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO headquarters in Brussels in liaison with the Turkish High command, according to Israeli intelligence sources, was involved in the enlisting of thousands of terrorists:

“Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (Debkafile, August 31, 2011 emphasis added).

Confirmed by Israeli intelligence News, NATO played a key role in the delivery of weapons to Al Qaeda affiliated rebels in the Aleppo region bordering onto Turkey:

NATO and a number of European governments, most significantly the UK, have started airlifting heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels poised in Aleppo to fend off a major Syrian army offensive, according to debkafile’s exclusive military sources. They disclose that the first shipments were landed Monday night, June 17 [2013], and early Tuesday in Turkey and Jordan. They contained anti-air and tank missiles as well as recoilless 120 mm cannons mounted on jeeps. From there, they were transferred to rebel forces in southern Syria and Aleppo in the northwest. (Debkafile, June 18, 2013)

“Terrorists R Us”

Ironically, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron (who is hosting the NATO Summit in Wales), have asserted that they “will not be cowed by barbaric killers”:

“We will not waver in our determination to confront the Islamic State If terrorists think we will weaken in the face of their threats they could not be more wrong.” (Barack Obama and David Cameron, Strengthening the NATO alliance, op ed published in the London Times, September 4, 2014, emphasis added)

But these “Barbaric Killers” were created by the Western military alliance. They are serving the strategic interests of the U.S., Britain, not to mention Israel.

[file photo]

“They are Our Terrorists“. Without the terrorists, the “Global War on Terrorism” would fall flat. 

The Obama-Cameron narrative borders on ridicule. It is not only absurd, it is criminal.

What they are proposing is an all encompassing NATO mandate to “Go after Terrorist Entities” which they themselves created as part of an insidious intelligence operation to destabilize and destroy both Syria and Iraq.Inline images 1

British and French Special Forces have been actively training Syria opposition rebels from a base in Turkey.

Israel has provided a safe haven to Al Qaeda affiliated rebels including ISIS and Al Nusrah rebels in the occupied Golan Heights.

Netanyahu has met up with jihadist leaders in the Golan Heights. The IDF top brass acknowledges that  there are “global jihad elements inside Syria” supported by Israel.

Image left: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Shakes Hand with a wounded Al Qaeda Terrorist in occupied Golan.

Lest we forget, Al Qaeda was at the outset a creation of the CIA. Who is behind the ISIS terrorists?  The mainstream media is mum on the subject, despite mountains of evidence that they are creations of the Western military alliance.

 

Islamic State funded by Saudi Arabia enters Iraq

NATO’s Criminal Agenda

What we are dealing with is a criminal agenda under NATO auspices. The evidence amply confirms that the US and Britain in liaison with the Atlantic Alliance have relentlessly supported both the creation as well as development of an Islamic Terror Network which now extends from the Middle East and North Africa into sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia.

And now Obama and Cameron, whose governments are the architects of the Islamic State, are calling upon the Atlantic Alliance as well all on the governments of the 28 NATO member states to endorse the bombing campaign on Iraq and Syria as part of “counter-terrorism” operation.

The ISIS brigades are “intelligence assets” supported by US-NATO-Israel. They will not be the object of the bombings. Quite the opposite.

What is envisaged as part of the propaganda campaign is to use the “threat of the Islamic State” as a pretext and justification to intervene militarily under a “humanitarian” “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) mandate. The civilian population will not be protected.  Under this diabolical military-intelligence operation, The Islamic State (ISIS) brigades with Western Special Forces within their ranks are slated to be “protected”.

The War on Syria

From the outset of the war on Syria in March 2011, member states of the Atlantic Alliance as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have  (covertly) supported the terrorists –including al Nusrah and the ISIS– with a view to destabilizing Syria as a nation state. These actions were implemented in liaison with NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The process of recruitment and training of mercenaries had been sub-contracted to private security companies operating out of the Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Reports point to the creation of training camps in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Zayed Military City (UAE), “a secret army is in the making” was operated by Xe Services, formerly Blackwater. The UAE deal to establish a military camp for the training of mercenaries was signed in July 2010, nine months before the onslaught of the wars in Libya and Syria. (See Manlio Dinucci, A Secret Army of Mercenaries for the Middle East and North Africa, Il Manifesto. 18 May 2011)

Moreover, confirmed by CNN, security companies on contract to NATO member states were involved in training  Syria “opposition” death squads in the use of chemical weapons:

“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

NATO Supported the Terrorists in Libya

From the outset of NATO’s  2011 “humanitarian war” on Libya, the Atlantic alliance was working in close liaison with the “pro-Al Qaeda brigades” led by “former” Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leader Abdul Hakim Belhhadj  (Debka, Pro-Al Qaeda brigades control Qaddafi Tripoli strongholds seized by rebels, August 28, 2011 )

Abdul Hakim Belhhadj  received his military training in a CIA sponsored guerrilla camp in Afghanistan. He constitutes a CIA “intelligence asset” operating in the Libyan war theater. A 2011 report suggested that he had some 1,000 men under his command. (Libyan rebels at pains to distance themselves from extremists – The Globe and Mail, March 12, 2011)

The US-NATO coalition is arming the Jihadists. Weapons are being channeled to the LIFG from Saudi Arabia, which historically, since the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war, has covertly supported Al Qaeda. The Saudis are now providing the rebels, in liaison with Washington and Brussels, with anti-tank rockets and ground-to-air missiles. (See Michel Chossudovsky  “Our Man in Tripoli”: US-NATO Sponsored Islamic Terrorists Integrate Libya’s Pro-Democracy Opposition, Global Research, 3 April 2011)

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Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat, has delineated the real problem about what’s going on in Washington, DC, and the deliberately created political kabuki theater regarding President Trump. Kucinich says President Trump is under attack by “Deep State” bureaucrats who want to take out Trump!

Governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican, congratulates Congressman Kucinich for his openness and willingness to discuss the issue in a level-headed manner, something that seemingly is not prevailing in the roiling political landscape of ‘Get President Trump at any and all costs’.

Granted, President Donald J. Trump may not be their cookie-cutter-genre president to play according to the Deep State’s dictates; however, it is the Deep State individuals Congress, any and all Independent Counsels, plus all of Washington, DC, should be going after to identify, as those individuals—whoever they are and at whatever levels, bar none—need to be identified, neutralized and prosecuted legally, if we ever are to stop having war after war after war.

Catherine J. Frompovich

Here’s is Congressman Kucinich, Governor Mike Huckabee on Fox News discussing the “Deep State Constitutional crisis” in the United States.

Catherine J Frompovich (website) is a retired natural nutritionist who earned advanced degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice plus Paralegal Studies. Her work has been published in national and airline magazines since the early 1980s. Catherine authored numerous books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic healthcare professionals. She has been a consumer healthcare researcher 35 years and counting.

Catherine’s NEW book: Eat To Beat Disease, Foods Medicinal Qualities ©2016 Catherine J Frompovich is now available.

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“During the last 10 years, there has been one death from measles, but that patient was an adult woman who was on immunosuppressive medications and had other serious health problems. (But between) 2000 and 2017, there were 156 deaths related to the MMR vaccine.” – David Brownstein, MD – Holistic Family Practitioner

“Up to 90% of the total decline in the death rate of children between 1860-1965 because of whooping cough, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and measles occurred before the introduction of immunisations and antibiotics.” – Archie Kalokerinos, MD

“According to the records of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, from 1911 to 1935 the four leading causes of childhood deaths from infectious diseases in the U.S.A. were diphtheria, pertussis, scarlet fever, and measles. However, by 1945 the combined death rates from these causes had declined by 95% before the implementation of mass vaccine programs.” – Harold Buttram, MD

Critical thinkers and knowledgeable readers who have no ulterior motivation to blindly promote current over-vaccination agendas will agree that the Somali parents who have witnessed the devastating epidemic of Autistic Spectrum Disorders decimate so many of their children since coming to Minnesota, made a wise choice in refusing MMR vaccinations.

The Somali community has seen an alarming incidence of ASD (currently 1 out of every 32 of their children are afflicted, the worst prevalence rate in any Minnesota demographic group, even exceeding the 1 out of 48 among the fully vaccinated white male children in Minnesota). Recall that concurrent with the alarming epidemic of ASD was a dramatic increase in live virus vaccines, mercury-containing vaccine and aluminum-containing vaccines. The incidence of ASD before 1986 (when the vaccine industry was exempted from liability for vaccine deaths or injuries) was 1 in every 10,000 Minnesotan children and the rate went to 1 out of 68 by the time the number of antigens injected routinely into Minnesotan children went from a dozen or so to upwards of 80!

Something more than coincidence is at work. As noted vaccine researcher Dr Christopher Shaw has stated:

“Parents refusing to vaccinate according to the recommended CDC schedule are supported by the science.”

Somali children never came down with autism in their native land. It was only after they became war refugees and emigrated to Minnesota and started accepting CDC- and Minnesota Department of Health-mandated MMR live virus-containing vaccinations (often combined with mercury-containing and aluminum-containing vaccinations) that the epidemic devastated the community.

By refusing the MMR, they were accepting the risk of acquiring benign measles infections but they were decreasing the risk of allowing their children to acquiring the dreaded (likely vaccine-induced) autism that would ruin their lives forever. Their decision makes imminent sense and they should be applauded instead of vilified.

At least now their temporarily measles-afflicted children will be immune for life from that normally benign disease. Everybody else has to get periodic “booster” shots that only temporarily enhance one part of the immune system: serologic immunity. Vaccination actually impairs the equally important cellular immunity that makes the vaccinated more susceptible to illnesses in several other ways, including contracting autoimmune disorders. The lucky 50 or so who got the wild-type measles will not have to worry about becoming permanently sickened from MMR-related chronic illnesses.

Below is an important chart to ponder:

The chart above tells us that the lethality of measles outbreaks had already declined to near zero years and decades before a measles vaccine was introduced into the US in 1963.

And yet the CDC, the FDA, the AMA, the AAFP, the AAP and the mainstream media have been deceiving us when they claimed over and over again that vaccines were the reason that benign – and ubiquitous – childhood illnesses such as measles were eliminated as the deadly diseases that they occasionally had been in the distant past.

The truth is that those above-mentioned vaccine-selling groups (who have increasingly been in bed with giant pharmaceutical corporations like Merck and GlaxoSmithKline since the 1950s [who are now their serious paymasters]) have deceived us by not giving credit to the real reasons for the decline in the lethality of common childhood viral illnesses such as measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and scarlet fever: improved nutrition, improved sanitation, improved access to refrigeration and improved understanding of epidemics.

There are similar graphs that also show the declining incidence of diphtheria, mumps, whooping cough and chickenpox that occurred before vaccines were introduced! It is useful to note that scarlet fever declined in a similar fashion and there never was developed a scarlet fever vaccine that was introduced by public health entities.

Shame on the CDC and Big Pharma for their acts of deception! Recalling the truism that says:

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool be twice, shame on me”, how can we ever trust them again?

All of us obedient – and frequently duped – blind believers in whatever authoritarian “experts” like the CDC say, need to wise up and do our own research that is independent of entities that have ulterior motives (especially economic ones such as in the case of corporate-controlled Big Government, Big Medicine, Big Pharma, Big Vaccine, Big Media, Big Finance, etc).

It is also important to study the unbiased research literature that reveals that measles (or more accurately “measles-like”) outbreaks can occur among fully vaccinated individuals (such as occurred in the infamously deceptive Disneyland outbreak last year that freaked out so many people to rush to get their boosters – a windfall for Big Pharma and Big Medicine – and the CDC).

Image result for measles outbreak

Source: AFP

Honest research will reveal that the live measles virus in the MMR vaccine can actually cause a generalized rash, fever, malaise and measles-like symptoms, but also contagion, inflammatory bowel disorders and neurodegenerative disorders.

Not only that, but the live mumps virus that is also in the MMR inoculum can cause encephalitis and any number of chronic neurological illnesses, including autism. There are also many examples of clusters of measles and mumps outbreaks over the past few decades in fully vaccinated individuals – a reality that no TV “medical experts” or health journalists ever mention when they try to freak out the public to get their “booster shots”.

Read this important item about the measles vaccine from vaccine expert, physician, scholar and author, Dr Suzanne Humphries: and watch her many well-documented videos and other informative videos that are also on YouTube, starting with this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frCcvw3yy98.

And then listen to the powerful testimony from the slandered Dr Andrew Wakefield himself, who was infamously smeared by GlaxoSmithKline (the makers of Britain’s dangerous MMR vaccine) and the media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s mercenary journalist Brian Deer, who eventually, through a relentless series of Big Lies, managed to get Dr Wakefield de-frocked and exiled to the United States, much to the delight of the sociopathic corporations who benefitted from the “neutralization” of Wakefield and his truths (or so they thought).

The interview is at:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/10/wakefield-interview.aspx.

Honest listeners will be appalled at how the mainstream media has refused to do its independent investigative journalism and instead has blithely gone along with the libel and slander of an honorable physician and researcher that shined a light on an unwelcome truth: that there is a tight connection between the live measles virus in Glaxo’s MMR inoculum and severe inflammatory bowel disorders in severely afflicted autism patients, who only became autistic and started suffering with abdominal pain and diarrhea after their MMR shots.

*     *     *

The Somali Measles “Epidemic” in Minnesota and The Brady Principle
Dr. David Brownstein – Holistic Family Practitioner – May 17, 2017

Somehow, a measles outbreak of unvaccinated Somali citizens in Minnesota is supposed to drive a stake in those of us who raise questions about the safety and efficacy of FDA-approved vaccines. According to the powers-that-be, this outbreak of measles is proof that we need more vaccinations, not less.

I beg to differ. And, I will make my argument citing the Brady principle. I am sure most adults over the age of 50 are very familiar with the Brady Principle.

For those unfamiliar, let me provide you with the information you will need to understand the Brady Principle.

Image result for brady bunch

Source: Playbuzz

From 1969-1974, the Brady Bunch ran weekly as a sitcom. I watched every episode and can still recall most of them. The Brady Principle refers to the episode where all six Brady kids became ill with the measles. What happened to the Brady kids? They stayed home from school, played Monopoly, and Alice cooked for them, and they recovered from the measles infection.

During the episode, Marsha Brady stated,

“If you have to get sick, sure can’t beat the measles.”

The Brady Principle would indicate that measles is not a dangerous disease for most who become ill from it. When I was a child, measles was treated as an illness similar to chickenpox; most children became ill with these childhood diseases and most recovered uneventfully. Back then, measles and chickenpox were not feared illnesses in the U.S.

Back to the Brady’s. The good news for the Brady kids, and the Somali children, is that they will have life-long immunity from measles. And, the female Brady children (Marsha, Cindy, and Jan) passed their immunity on to their children so that their newborn children would not become ill if there was a measles outbreak. However, this is not the case with vaccinated children as the measles vaccine does not provide life-long immunity and it does not provide antibodies to their newborn children to protect them during a vulnerable time in their lives.

The pro-vaccine cartel is screaming that the Somali measles epidemic is an example of why we need more vaccines.

They are wrong.

Yes the measles vaccine is successful at lowering the incidence of measles. However, this creates a vaccinated population that does not have life-long immunity to a fairly benign illness. Yes, measles can be associated with severe adverse effects and even death. So can the measles vaccine. During the last 10 years, there has been one death from measles, but that patient was an adult woman who was on immunosuppressive medications and had other serious health problems. (1) I performed a search on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and found that from 2000 to 2017, there were 156 deaths related to the MMR vaccine.

Somali mothers were not too familiar with autism when they came to the U.S. An article in the Globe and Mall quotes a Somali mother stating,

“In Somalia, we had kids with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. But nobody had ever heard of autism,” Ms. Hassan recalls. “And believe me, it’s not something you can hide.”

In the article, Somalis are calling autism the “western disease” or the “vengeance from abroad.” (2) Approximately 40 years ago, autism rates in Africa were reported to be much lower than the U.S. (3)

However, things changed quickly for Somali parents when they came here and started raising their children. The autism rate in Somali children in Minnesota came to the forefront in 2008-2009 when a Minnesota Department of Health study found that Somali preschoolers, when compared to other children, were two to seven times more likely to receive autism services from the Minneapolis school system. (4)

The Somali mothers apparently felt that their children were being affected by the MMR vaccine and began to decline the vaccination. The Somali mothers should have been concerned about the relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism as this was reported by a senior CDC scientist nearly three years ago. (5) The CDC scientist has claimed whistleblower status as he has stated, under oath, that the CDC destroyed, hid and falsified data that showed a clear link between the MMR vaccine and autism. And, the altered CDC data revealed that the most affected group of children were African American boys.

Now you can see why some Somali mothers were concerned and chose not to vaccinate. What parent would subject their child to a medical procedure knowing that it could cause a life-long neurological injury in order to prevent a relatively benign illness for the vast majority who become ill with it?

Folks, saying vaccines are safe and effective does not make it so. Repeating this line over and over does not make it so.

There is nothing wrong with questioning vaccine safety. There is nothing wrong with wanting vaccines to be properly studied for the safety and effectiveness-which has not been done. And, if a parent decides that their child is not going to be vaccinated, there is nothing wrong with that as well.

Image result

Source: Daikhlo

There is something wrong when parents are vilified for trying to make the best medical decisions for their children. In the case of the MMR vaccine, we may have less measles and less measles-associated problems, but we may have other unintended conditions.

Our children are the least healthy when compared to other Western countries. Our children are the most vaccinated. Where is the data that more vaccines are going to help them?

It is time to let your Congressperson know your thoughts on these issues. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the Office of Government Reform has been aware of the CDC whistleblower for nearly three years now. It is up to him to call a Congressional hearing to investigate the whistleblower’s claims. Mr. Chaffetz refuses to do so. I was happy to hear he will not seek reelection as we do not need more Congressmen like Mr. Chaffetz. We already have enough Congressmen and women who do nothing.

What can you do? Call the Office of Government Reform (OGR) and demand a hearing on the CDC whistleblower. The OGR can be reached here: 202.225.5074. I have been calling on a frequent basis for nearly three years. I can assure you that the OGR staffers neither like hearing my voice nor do they like speaking with me. Tell the OGR to call a hearing on the CDC whistleblower after you ask them why they have not acted on this matter before.

Make you views heard. We already have over a million U.S. children with autism. This is a new phenomenon. Something is causing this epidemic increase. If it is vaccine related and we do nothing, our Republic may not survive.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, USA. In the decade prior to his retirement, he practiced what could best be described as “holistic (non-drug) and preventive mental health care”. Since his retirement, he has written a weekly column for the Duluth Reader, an alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns mostly deal with the dangers of American imperialism, friendly fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, and the dangers of Big Pharma, psychiatric drugging, the over-vaccinating of children and other movements that threaten American democracy, civility, health and longevity and the future of the planet. Many of his columns are archived at http://duluthreader.com/search?search_term=Duty+to+Warn&p=2; http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/gary-g-kohls; or at https://www.transcend.org/tms/search/?q=gary+kohls+articles

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War and Oil Reserves: Trump’s US-Saudi Partnership

May 22nd, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

Saudi Arabia: super-rich from vast oil reserves, partnered with America’s imperial agenda, waging terror-war on Syria, Yemen and its own people. Its appalling human rights record doesn’t deter close ties with America, Britain and other EU countries. 

Trump’s visit cashed in big on Saudi wealth, sealing a $110 billion arms deal, signing a memorandum of intent to supply Riyadh with weapons worth around $350 billion over the next decade.

They’ll be used for regional wars and domestic repression, its agenda like America’s, waging war on humanity, both countries partnering in high crimes.

US and Saudi officials signed a separate memorandum between the Saudi Corporation for the Development of Information Technologies and Apple, other agreements for cooperation in electricity projects, mining and air transportation, the latter deal for Boeing to supply Saudi Arabian Airlines with commercial aircraft.

Image result for saudi aramco

Saudi Aramco agreed to deals worth around $50 billion. Projects were approved for joint investments in US technology, infrastructure and housing, along with Riyadh’s petrochemical industry.

Continuation of long-term US/Saudi economic, political and military partnership was affirmed, the latter on the phony pretext of combating terrorism both countries support.

All of the above explains why Trump made Saudi Arabia his first foreign visit, officials from about 50 US corporations accompanying him, concluding agreements with dozens of Saudi companies.

Together with his Saudi counterpart, Rex Tillerson expressed

“pr(ide) (in) strengthening of the US-Saudi partnership and relationship” – calling Trump’s visit “a historic moment in (bilateral) relations.”

Claiming both countries intend “charting a renewed path toward a peaceful Middle East” was a bald-faced lie – plans in place for escalated wars, not resolving them diplomatically.

Tillerson stressed

“new initiatives will bolster our joint efforts to deter regional threats from Iran in Syria (and) Yemen…” No threats exist.

Tehran’s president was noticeably excluded from joining dozens of other Muslim heads of state from Middle East, African and Asian countries, the snub part of wanting Iran isolated, its government toppled.

Ahead of his trip, Trump tweeted

“(g)etting ready for my big foreign trip. Will be protecting American interests – that’s what I like to do!”

On day one in Riyadh, he made few public comments, one tweet saying

“(g)reat to be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead.”

On Sunday, he’ll address Muslim leaders and participate in a Twitter forum. Photo-ops and images will mostly define his entire trip for US and other Western audiences.

Image result for saudi arabiaSaudi Arabia is a family dictatorship, responsible for horrendous civil and human rights abuses.

Monarchical rule is despotic, lawless and ruthless, enforced by police state terror. Human rights defenders, political reform activists, and religions other than Sunni Islam aren’t tolerated.

So-called Wahhabi Muslims persecute and denigrate Shias, the deplorable way Israel treats Palestinians.

Unreported by Western media scoundrels, Saudi forces have been terror-bombing and shelling Awamiya Shias, killing and injuring its own citizens, Trump oblivious or silent about what’s gone on.

Nor did he comment on genocidal Saudi war on Yemen, joint US/Riyadh aggression.

Washington has close ties to numerous despotic regimes, partners in imperial lawlessness, enriching war-profiteers enormously – the more raging conflicts, the more lucrative arms deals sealed.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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US Coalition Attacks Syrian Forces, To the Rescue of ISIS

May 22nd, 2017 by Patrick Henningsen

On Thursday, the US-led coalition announced it had launched an air strike against “pro-Assad forces” inside Syria killing several government-aligned militia soldiers and destroying numerous military vehicles near the al-Tanf region where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan meet. The US coalition claim that Syrian forces inside of Syria posed a threat to US and NATO troops and the ‘rebels’ they are training and arming on the Jordanian side of that border region.

The US-led attack comes as UN officials and diplomats are meeting in Geneva to discuss a solution to Syria’s six year war. According to one Syrian official, the attack was a “flagrant aggression launched by the international coalition exposes the falsity of its allegation about fighting terrorism and undoubtedly demonstrates the reality of the Zionist-American project in the region.”

The move by the US also poses an indirect threat to the stability of the Astana Peace Agreement signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey which guarantees “de-escalation zones” inside Syria in order to bring an end to major ground hostilities in the country.

21WIRE’s Patrick Henningsen spoke with RT International as the story broke on Thursday evening GMT, telling newscasters in Moscow that this week’s attack by the US, like many others previously – seems to strategically benefit ISIS terrorist forces on the ground in Syria. WATCH:

Other reports are also suggesting that thousands of Hezbollah troops are being deployed to the al-Tanf passageway at the Iraq-Syria border. Fars News reports:

“Hezbollah has deployed 3,000 forces in al-Tanf region to participate in Badiyeh operations in Syria. Most of the forces had earlier been stationed in al-Zabadani, Madhaya and Sarqaya regions as well as the Western parts of the town of al-Tofail and Brital, Ham and Ma’araboun heights in the Eastern mountain.”

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Selected Articles: Trump’s Visit to Saudi Arabia

May 22nd, 2017 by Global Research News

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President Donald Trump, together with the first-lady and Ivanka, has arrived in Saudi Arabia for the first leg of his international trips. Read the suggested articles below to uncover what was in the speech that he delivered to an assembly of despots and monarchs.

Trump’s Speech in Riyadh Signals US Escalation Against Iran

By Bill Van Auken, May 22, 2017

Much in Trump’s half-hour address echoed the speech delivered by Barack Obama in Cairo eight years earlier. Both presidents declared their desire to reset US relations with the Middle East, while absurdly posturing as leaders of a pacifist nation seeking only good for the region and offering to head up a united struggle against “violent extremism.”

U.S. $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements U.S.-Jihadist Alliance

By Eric Zuesse, May 22, 2017

The U.S. government officially blames Iran for the 9/11 attacks and has fined Iran $10.5 billion for those attacks. The Sauds hate Iran and claim that Iran poses an “existential threat” to them. These new weapons will, the Sauds claim, “protect” them from Iran. Right after Trump won the 2016 election, he staffed the top level of his incoming Administration with people who consider Iran to be the main source of terrorism.

Trump Accuses Iran of Supporting Terrorists and Spreading Instability

By South Front, May 22, 2017

US President Donald Trump has directly accused Iran in supporting terrorists and spreading instability in the Middle East during his speech at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Saudi Arabia.

Trump Signs “Single Largest Arms Deal in US History” with Saudi Arabia Worth $350 Billion

By Tyler Durden, May 22, 2017

When all other sources of economic growth appear tapped out, there is always the military-industrial complex coming to the rescue of US GDP with the sale of arms and equipment to the world’s biggest purchaser of weapons: Saudi Arabia. Because when one looks beyond the pageantry, pomp and circumstance of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the main purpose behind the president’s visit is precisely that: selling weapons, some $350 billion over the next decade, according to estimates.

Trump in Riyadh – A Gulf NATO to Gang Up Against Iran and Syria

By Jan Oberg, May 22, 2017

Here is what the United Arab Emirates’ daily The National reported on January 24, 2017. Interestingly, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE are members of ICI – the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative – while Saudi Arabia and Oman plan to join. This is exactly the coalition we have mentioned above.

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New French President ‘Will Not Recognise Palestine’

May 22nd, 2017 by Middle East Monitor

Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron has reiterated that he will not recognise Palestine as a state as it would hinder good relations between Israel and France.

Prior to his election win, Macron said he backs a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that recognising Palestine would cause instability and he would not risk France’s relationship with Israel to serve the Palestinian agenda. At a political rally Macron said:

Unilateral recognition of Palestine, right now, will undermine stability,

That’s right. France’s new liberal president would rather maintain good relations with Israel than recognize “Palestine.”

French Jews may have voted en masse for Emmanuel Macron in the final round of France’s presidential elections, but that doesn’t make him their dream president.

Like many other supporters of the 39-year-old former investment banker, who became the youngest French president in recent history, Jews voted for Macron mainly to block his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen. The centrist won with 65 percent of the vote, to 34 percent for Le Pen.

Featured image is sourced from Mustafa Yalçın/Anadolu Agency.

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US President Donald Trump said Thursday he would work with Colombia to “fix” Venezuela, as he slapped Caracas with new sanctions.

The sanctions targeted Venezuela’s chief judge and seven other members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ). The sanctions were in retaliation to a controversial TSJ ruling that effectively granted the court with the power to pass legislation without parliamentary approval. The ruling was quickly reversed, but kicked off a wave of opposition violence that has so far left 54 people dead.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the judges

“are responsible for a number of judicial rulings in the past year that have usurped the authority of Venezuela’s democratically-elected legislature, the National Assembly”.

“By imposing these targeted sanctions, the United States is supporting the Venezuelan people in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance in their country,” the treasury head and former Goldman Sachs banker said.

The sanctions on the judges responsible for the ruling include travel bans and the freezing of their alleged assets in the US.

Venezuela has responded by condemning the sanctions.

“It’s unheard of and unacceptable for the US to impose sanctions on a sovereign and independent public … [institution], violating international and Venezuelan laws,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez stated on Thursday.

Then on Friday, she said Venezuela will take action against the sanctions, describing the judges as “victims of imperial aggression”.

“The United States power structure never misses an opportunity to violate international law,” she said.

President Nicolas Maduro also weighed in, accusing the US of “leading” the “destabilisation of Venezuela”.

The announcement of the new sanctions came after Trump held a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. During the conference, the US leader claimed the world hasn’t seen any political crisis as bad as Venezuela’s in “decades”.

“People don’t have enough to eat. There’s great violence. We will do whatever is necessary … to help with fixing that,” he said.

Trump didn’t elaborate on what his administration plans on doing to resolve Venezuela’s crisis, though he said he would work with countries like Colombia.

“As you know, our nations have had for a long time a strategic alliance, an extraordinary friendship,” he said.

Colombia and Venezuela have long had a fickle relationship, occasionally dipping into tension. Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has repeatedly called for the overthrow of Venezuela’s government by force, including proposing an international armed intervention. During his time in office, Uribe’s administration sparked a tense diplomatic stand-off with its neighbours, after bombing a FARC guerilla camp in Ecuador. The incident led to both Ecuador and its ally Venezuela mobilising troops on their borders with Colombia, while similar military preparations were made by Uribe’s government.

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Once in a while, think tanks such as the Brookings Institute are able to deal with highly strategic and current issues. Often, the conferences held by such organizations are based on false pretenses and copious banality, the sole intention being to undermine and downplay the efforts of strategic opponents of the US. Recently, the Brookings Institute’s International Strategy and Strategy Project held a lecture on May 9, 2017 where it invited Bobo Lo, an analyst at Lowy Institute for International Policy, to speak. The topic of the subject, extremely interesting to the author and mentioned in the past, is the strategic partnership between China and Russia.

The main assumption Bobo Lo starts with to define relations between Moscow and Beijing is that the two countries base their collaboration on convenience and a convergence of interests rather than on an alliance. He goes on to say that the major frictions in the relationship concern the fate that Putin and Xi hold for Europe, in particular for the European Union, in addition to differences of opinions surrounding the Chinese role in the Pacific. In the first case, Lo states that Russia wants to end the European project while China hopes for a strong and prosperous Europe. With regard to the situation in the Pacific, according to this report, Moscow wants a balance of power between powers without hegemonic domination being transferred from Washington to Beijing.

The only merit in Lo’s analysis is his identification of the United States as the major cause of the strategic proximity between Moscow and Beijing, certainly a hypothesis that is little questioned by US policy makers. Lo believes Washington’s obsession with China-Russia cooperation is counterproductive, though he also believes that the United States doesn’t actually possess capabilities to sabotage or delimit the many areas of cooperation between Beijing and Moscow.

What is missing in Lo’s analysis are two essential factors governing how Moscow and Beijing have structured their relationship. China and Russia have different tasks in ushering in their world order, namely, by preserving global stability through military and economic means. Their overall relationship of mutual cooperation goes beyond the region of Eurasia and focuses on the whole process of a sustainable globalization as well as on how to create an environment where everyone can prosper in a viable and sustainable way. Doing this entails a departure from the current belligerent and chaotic unipolar world order.

Moscow and Beijing: Security and Economy

Beijing has been the world’s economic engine for over two decades and shows no signs of slowing down, at least not too much. Moscow, contrary to western media propaganda, has returned to play a role not only on a regional scale but as a global power. Both of these paths of military and economic growth for China and Russia have set things on a collision course with the United States, the current global superpower that tends to dominate international relations with economic, political and military bullying thanks to a complicit media and corrupt politicians.

In the case of Beijing, the process of globalization has immensely enhanced the country, allowing the Asian giant to become the world’s factory, enabling Western countries to outsource to low-cost labor. In this process of economic growth, Beijing has over the years gone from being a simple paradise for low-cost outsourcing for private companies to being a global leader in investment and long-term projects. The dividends of years of wealth accumulation at the expense of Western nations has allowed Beijing to be more than just a strategic partner for other nations. China drives the process of globalization, as recently pointed out by Xi Jinping in Davos in a historic speech. China’s transition from a harmless partner of the West to regional power with enormous foreign economic investments place the country on a collision course with Washington. Inevitably, Beijing will become the Asian hegemon, something US policymakers have always guaranteed will not be tolerated.

The danger Washington sees is that of China emerging as a regional superpower that will call the shots in the Pacific, the most important region of the planet. The United States has many vested interests in the region and undeniably sees its future as the leader of the world order in jeopardy. Obama’s pivot to Asia was precisely for the purposes of containing China and limiting its economic power so as to attenuate Beijing’s ambitions.

Unsurprisingly, Washington’s concerns with Moscow relate to its resurgence in military capabilities. Russia is able to oppose certain objectives of the United States (see Ukraine or Syria) by military means. The possibility of the Kremlin limiting American influence in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Eurasia in general is cause for concern for American policy makers, who continue to fail to contain Russia and limit Moscow’s spheres of influence.

In this context, the strategic division of labor between Russia and China comes into play to ensure the stability of the Eurasian region as a whole; in Asia, in the Middle East and in Europe. To succeed in this task, Moscow has mainly assumed the military burden, shared with other friendly nations belonging to the affected areas. In the Middle East, for example, Tehran’s partnership with Moscow is viewed positively by Beijing, given its intention to stabilize the region and to eradicate the problem of terrorism, something about which nations like China and Russia are particularly concerned.

The influence of Islamist extremists in the Caucasian regions in Russia or in the autonomous region of Xinjiang in China are something that both Putin and Xi are aware can be exploited by opposing Western countries. In North Africa, Egypt has signed several contracts for the purchase of military vehicles from Moscow, as well as having bought the two Mistral ships from France, thereby relying on military supplies from Moscow. It is therefore not surprising that Moscow and Egypt cooperated with the situation in Libya and in North Africa in general.

In Southeast Asia, Moscow seeks to coordinate efforts to reach an agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) of New Delhi and Islamabad (Tehran will be next), with the blessing of Beijing as the protagonist of the 2017 SCO meeting, is a keystone achievement and the right prism through which to observe the evolution of the region. Moscow is essentially acting as a mediator between the parties and is also able to engage with India in spite of the dominating presence of China. The ultimate goal of Moscow and Beijing is to eradicate the terrorist phenomenon in the Asian region with a view to what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East with Iran and Egypt.

Heading to a Multipolar World Order

The turning point in relations between Moscow and Beijing concerns the ability to engage third countries in military or economic ways, depending on these countries’ needs and objectives. Clearly in the military field it is Moscow that is leading, with arms sold to current and future partners and security cooperation (such as with ex-Soviet Central-Asian republics or in the Donbass) and targeted interventions if needed, as in Syria. Beijing, on the other hand, acts in a different way, focusing on the economic arena, in particular with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at its center.

Initiatives such as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) and the Maritime Silk Road have the same strategic aim of the Russian military initiative, namely, ensuring the independence of the region from a geo-economic perspective, reaching win-win arrangements for all partners involved. Naturally, the win-win agreement does not mean that China wins and then wins again; rather, a series of bilateral concessions can come to satisfy all actors involved. An important example in this regard that explains the Sino-Russian partnership concerns the integration of the Eurasian Union with the Chinese Silk Road. The Russian concerns over the predominant status of the Chinese colossus in Central Asia have been assuaged by a number of solutions, such as the support of the OBOR infrastructure program to that of the Eurasian Union. Beijing is not interested in replacing Moscow’s leading role the post-Soviet nations in Central Asia but rather with providing significant energy and economic development to particularly underdeveloped nations that are in need of important economic investment, something only Beijing is able to guarantee.

The linking of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with the One Belt One Road initiative guarantees Moscow a primary role in the transit of goods from east to west, thereby becoming the connecting point between China and Europe while expanding the role and function of the EEU. All participants in these initiatives have a unique opportunity to expand their economic condition through this whole range of connections. Beijing guarantees the money for troubled countries, and Moscow the security. The SCO will play a major role in reducing and preventing terrorist influence in the region, a prerequisite for the success of any projects. Also, the AIIB, and to some extent the BRICS Development Bank, will also have to step in and offer alternative economic guarantees to countries potentially involved in these projects, in order to free them from the existing international financial institutions.

One Belt One Road, and all the related projects, represent a unique occasion whereby all relevant players share common goals and benefits from such transformative geo-economic relationships. This security-economy relationship between Moscow and Beijing is  the heart of the evolution of the current world order, from the unipolar to the multipolar world. The US cannot oppose China on the economic front and Russia on the military front. It all comes down to how much China and Russia can continue to provide and guarantee economic and security umbrellas for the rest of the world.

Federico Pieraccini is an independent freelance writer specialized in international affairs, conflicts, politics and strategies.

Featured image is sourced from Strategic Culture Foundation.

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Israel’s Genocide Towards Palestinian Arabs

May 22nd, 2017 by Irwin Jerome

Inspired by the honesty and integrity of Ilan Pappe’s new book, Ten Myths About Israel, this writer penned a book review that has already appeared on a number of sites.

(See: www.countercurrents.org/2017/05/19/Israeli-genocide-and-racism-unmasked; and www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/253276388/Israeli-take-on-promised-land-challenged).

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Read also

Ten Myths About Israel: Genocide and Racism Unmasked

By Irwin Jerome, May 21, 2017

However, by the subsequent intense, sometimes heated, always thought-provoking, responses these reviews have elicited, several truths soon became manifestly evident: namely, how contentious are whatever term one ever chooses to use – be it ‘invasion’, ‘colonialism’, ‘imperialism’, ‘apartheid’, ‘ethnic cleansing’, or ‘genocide’ – to describe the past seven decades of turmoil that has occurred between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs since the Zionists incursions into Palestine in 1948.

If one ever dares to raise the specter of ‘genocide’, or even ‘ethnic cleansing’ or ‘apartheid’, to describe what Israel has done to the Palestinian peoples, like the massacre of the village of Kafr Qasim in 1948, they are immediately challenged by the counter-charge of genocide committed by the Arabs who killed 100 Jews after they surrendered at Kfar Etzion. If one raises the charge of genocide by Israel’s use of the ‘Wall of Separation’, or its forcing Palestinians out of their homes and villages into refugee camps throughout the Middle East, there are those who will also argue that Pre-Holocaust Nazi’s also wanted to drive Jews out of Germany and ask, “Was that also genocide?” Still others will contend that what is happening between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs isn’t genocide at all, but simply mutual unfortunate acts of war and atrocities that happen in every war. They ask, in turn,

“So is every war a genocide? Is every mass killing a genocide?”

Others will contend that there hundreds of genocide currently going on in different parts of the world, and challenge,

“So how is what is happening to the Palestinian’s any different or more special than what is happening to many others?”

But what such defenders of Israel’s many genocidal atrocities don’t get is that, just like what has happened to every indigenous peoples who have ever been invaded by an outside aggressor (Native Americans, First Nation peoples, Australian Aboriginals, etc), the difference between them and their aggressors is that they weren’t invading anyone until they simply had to defend themselves, their families, villages, people and entire way of life from those invaders who wanted to take it all away from them.

Massacre in the village of Kafr Qasim, situated on the Green Line, the border between Israel and the Jordanian West Bank (Source: worldbulletin.net)

So when does the ethnic cleansing and apartheid of the Palestinians in Palestine ever become genocide? Or does it mean that Israel’s ‘ethnic cleansing’ of them will simply go on indefinitely until the Israeli Wall of Separation corrals every last Palestinian into tiny Bantustans with no real collective political, cultural, economic, religious/spiritual independence or self-determination until they finally cease to be? When that occurs will that not constitute the genocidal massacre of an entire culture and race of people?

Yet in spite of whatever arguments and appeals to reason and logic can ever be made, many supporters of Zionism, to this day, give their unwavering allegiance to: the historic unfolding of the Israeli Kibuttzim in Palestine: that began as utopian communities that combined socialism and Zionism, that, in turn; led to the rise of the Jewish kibbutznik’s settler movement in the occupied Palestinian territories of Greater Jerusalem, the occupied Syrian territories of the Golan Heights and occupied Egyptian territories in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. No amount of Geneva Convention violation protests, U.N. Security Council Resolutions or declarations of ‘illegality’ under international law by the international community (United Nations, International Court of Justice, European Union, Organization of Islamic Cooperation) has ever made one iota of difference.

The response to the use of the term ‘genocide’ in the title of this companion article to the original book review of Ilan Pappe’s work reflects the same hostility that exist in the world and the stone deaf ear that has been shown for decades towards all the civil rights and human justice violations of Palestinian sovereignty and right of self-determination and independence that is every people and nation’s inherent right.

Still, there are many others who have sought to remain truthful to the historical record and to themselves, and who have undertaken a serious read of the original imperialistic designs and intent of those early Zionist visionaries and plotters towards Palestine in the late 19th century and 20th century; and those who have come after them in Israel’s settler movement since 1948 who have held to their vision for Palestine, the Levant and the creation of an ever-greater Eretz Israel. They know that this vision that has driven and motivated Zionist visionaries and plotters since day-one has never made any real distinction between what some would balk at either being called racism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid or genocide.

They would be the first to deny that Israel’s imperialistic designs were and are as ruthless as any Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Adolph Hitler or any other conqueror of the past who was prepared to do whatever had to be done, without any sense of guilt or culpability, to sweep away or eliminate all those peoples who got in their way. An Andrew Jackson in America’s early frontier wasn’t any different than a David Ben-Gurion of early Zionist Israel, who was prepared to do whatever was required to remove or eliminate the sub-humans in question that represented an impediment to their greater megalomaniacal designs. No fundamental difference exists between a Republican Party President who once cleared out the American South of all its Native American’s, and put them on a forced Trail of Tears death march to some distant, uninhabitable land, and those actions taken by hardliner Likud Party leaders and their followers towards the Palestinian Arabs in Palestine. No matter how one construes it, the actions of the original Zionists, and the settler movement that came after them, are as ruthless and criminal as any so-defined ‘terrorist’ movement in 2017. To read a history book of some early American frontiersman justifying his or her right to kill Native Americans – whether men, women, children or babies – on the basis that nits grow lice, one can’t help but be reminded of those modern-day Zionists who justify taking the same action on the basis that Palestinian Arabs are nothing more than ‘snakes’ who must be eliminated, young and old alike, along with all their homes, villages and towns so that “no more little snakes can continue to be bred.”

SO, the ultimate questions that always have to be answered about the ethnic-cleaning, genocidal actions of whatever conquering, imperialistic power begins with asking,

“When does all the ethnic-cleansing turn into genocide? How many must die to qualify the difference? Who decides? How arbitrary are such distinctions?”

If a whole village or town is massacred, like at Kafir Qasim and other villages, does that qualify as genocide in the specific or in the main? A dual side to these questions, as in the case, of every conquering power and all those peoples it subdues and robs of all their lands, resources and way of life is,

“When do such stolen lands ever become un-stolen lands?”

Do they become un-stolen only so long as they have the power to hold onto them until some other, even greater, conquering power comes along and in turn steals them again?; which begs the further question,

“Is this the sum total of what it means to be fully human and what human history has been, and always will be, about until that final predicted Biblical Rapture Up that is so often talked about, and for which so many pray?”

Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer and author of “The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey” (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com), a three volume account of his travels as a spiritual sojourner, during the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s among Native Americans & First Nations in North America. It encompasses the Spiritual Renaissance & Liberation Movements among native peoples throughout North America during the Civil Rights era. More recently, Irwin authored a series of articles on the “NODAPL/KEYSTONE XL/CLIMATDE CHANGE protests against the United States government. Irwin also is the publisher of The Wild Gentle Press.

Featured image is sourced from Genocide Text.

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The day Greek workers and employees went on general strike, protesting against a new barrage of so-called “reforms” imposed by the “creditors” in the context of a program that is destroying Greeks and their country, a statement on Greece was issued by the Presidents of the Social Democratic, Green and the “Radical Leftist” Groups in the European Parliament Gianni Pitella, Ska Keller and Gabi Zimmer. 

We still hope the Eurodeputies of those three groups will repudiate this unbelievable and shameful statement. For the time being they have not done so. (1) [Note: As we were posting this article, we were informed of the courageous statement by the MEP Fabio de Masi of Linke on the Eurogroup meeting of today. We hope other MEP’s do also disagree with the positions adopted by the three Presidents on Greece. For de Masi statement look here…].

Those three “Leftist” leaders have not found, in their statement, one word of solidarity for the families of tens of thousands of Greeks who have been driven to end lives they could not tolerate any more, as a result of the “reforms” imposed on Greece by the German and other European governments, the EU and the IMF.

They did not find a word of solidarity for the 1.5 million Greeks living in conditions of extreme poverty as a result of the policy endorsed and applied by Frau Merkel, M. Juncker and Mme. Lagarde.

They did not find a word of solidarity for pensioners who now see their pensions  being cut by another 30% in the 17th successive pension reduction in seven years, imposed by the creditors and voted by the Greek Parliament in a context of threat and blackmail. On the contrary, they supported the legislation cutting these pensions.

They did not find a word of sympathy for poor Greek cancer patients who will die because they don’t have the money to pay for treatment in a private hospital, at a time when the Greek health system is crumbling under the cuts imposed as a consequence of the reforms imposed by Germany, the EU and the IMF.

But these allegedly Leftist Eurodeputies did find words to urge the Greek government to proceed with continuation of the so- called reforms, imposed through an alliance of German and other European elites with international finance, reforms which have already caused – and keep causing – one of the greatest economic and social catastrophes in the whole history of international capitalism.

One wonders if anybody in Europe needs such a Left and if yes what for.

EU-IMF Reforms in Greece – how to destroy an economy!

It is enough to remember that Greece, as a result of a program supposedly designed to help it, has seen a fall of 27% in its economic output, its GDP. This is more, in relative terms, than the material losses of France or Germany during the First World War. It is more than what we witnessed during the depression of 1929-33 in the USA or the crisis of the Weimar Republic in Germany. Greece is approaching ten years of continuous recession, which is probably an absolute record in history.

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Herr Schaeuble (Source: B.Z. Berlin)

The German Finance Minister, Herr Schaeuble, a figure who seems to have escaped from the pages of Marquis de Sade and, unlike M. Juncker or Mme. Lagarde, is unable to hide it, explained these facts at the Davos conference last year by calling the Greek PM, and indirectly all Greeks, “stupid”. He said that his reforms were a great idea, but what was stupid was the way Greeks were implementing them.

I don’t know and I don’t care whether Herr Schaeuble is intelligent or stupid. What I know is that Mr. Shaeuble is a liar.

One day it crossed my mind that, as I am a Greek, most probably I am also stupid. So I decided to ask a German, the head of the “European Task Force” for Greece, Mr. Reichenbach, why there is such a difference in the outcome of the Troika programs for Greece and, for example, Portugal. Mr. Reichenbach responded by saying

“We obtained these results in Greece because we subtracted three times more demand from the Greek economy than from the Portuguese economy”.

Indeed. As simple as that. This deep, unprecedented, depression was and is the ineluctable result of the economic measures imposed by the Troika.

A Crime and an Act of War, not a Mistake

The Greek disaster has nothing to do with intelligence or stupidity. Neither was it or is it a mistake because

1. If it was a mistake it would have been corrected long ago.

2. It is difficult to believe that some of the finest economists in the world, very well paid by the IMF, the EU or the German and French governments can make such “mistakes”, that is to say, to destroy a whole European country by accident, as it were, without understanding what they are doing. (2)

3. As we know now from published revelations and internal reviews of the IMF itself, this program was adopted by virtue of a coup d’état within the IMF itself in 2010, leading to its circumventing of its own rules and statutes. Such a coup d’état was necessary precisely because the economists were able to predict the outcome, not because they were not able to, and such an outcome was clearly unacceptable even in terms of neoliberal orthodoxy.

For such a coup to happen inside the IMF would be simply impossible without the consent of the German, French and US governments, of the EU Commission and of the Captains of international high finance.

This is why the Greek Reform Program was no mistake but was and remains the premeditated assassination, by economic and political means, of a European nation and its state, for reasons of much wider significance than the significance of the country itself.

If they went so far in Greece and not in the other southern European countries, this was also done on purpose, because if they tried to apply such a program in all southern countries they would run the risk of consolidating an alliance and triggering a revolt of half of Europe. This is why they had to choose just one country as a site for their  experiment, using it as a scapegoat for all European ills and a threat or warning, by implication, for all the others. (In this they were successful, if we are to judge from the behavior of Mr. Pitella, who seems not to remember what happened to Italy in the past, as a consequence of its alliance with Germany). All this has been very well explained in past texts of the European Radical Left (3).

They said in 2010 that they want to help Greece solve its problems. They keep repeating that Greece has received an enormous amount of financial help from its European partners and the IMF. That is true. But what they don’t say is that more than 95% of that money went back to Deutsche Bank, PNB Paribas and other European and US banks.

The Greek bail-out program was truly a bail-out program,  but not for Greece. It was a bail-out program for European and US banks, who were able to write off their losses by writing them into the Greek state budget, making the Greek sovereign debt more “unsustainable” and destroying Greece’s productive and social infrastructure.

At the same time Germany and other northern countries made a huge direct, net financial gain out of the destruction of Greece, in terms of the rates paid for their state bonds, not to speak of the profit out of the looting of Greek public and private property and not to speak also of the profit from the postponement, through the destruction of Greece, of the always looming crisis of the European banking sector.

In 2010 they said that Greece had to adopt the bail-out program because it was over-indebted. As a result of those policies the Greek sovereign debt climbed from 115% of the GDP to 185% of GDP and, at the same time, an equally important private debt bubble has been created. Putting aside the theory that the people running the European economy are stupid and don’t know what they are doing, the quite obvious conclusion is again that what the designers of this reform program had in mind is exactly what they achieved. Their objective was to increase Greek sovereign and private debt and then use it, as they have done, to appropriate Greek public and  private property and Greek state sovereignty.

This is why the German government persistently refuses serious debate on debt and any serious and definite solution to the problem. It is not so much that Schaeuble does not want Germans “to pay for Greeks”, as Germany and its banks have already made a lot of money, both directly and indirectly, from the destruction of Greece. It is that Berlin wants to keep this weapon in its permanent possession and use it to loot and subjugate Greece.

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Source: NowThis via Youtube

The IMF also wants to keep it, but it also wants more stability in the whole program and also its gradual transposition from Greece to the whole of Europe. This is why it wants to see some kind of  alleviation, but of course not alleviation that will make Greece a sovereign country again. And this is why the “medium-term debt- alleviation measures” currently under negotiation between the IMF and Berlin not only will be insufficient but will also involve neocolonial regulations that will remain in force for many decades.

This situation surrounding Greek debt and the position of the country inside the Eurozone is provoking enormous instability in itself. Only vulture hedge funds want to “invest” in a country when nobody knows what and where it will be tomorrow.

The term “reforms” is the invention of contemporary Orwells and Goebbels to denote what is clearly a crime and an act of looting and of war, albeit not conventional but political and economic: a “debt war” against the Greek people, Greek democracy and sovereignty.

Now Mr. Schaeuble has imposed on Greece the requirement of obtaining surpluses of 3.5% to 4% per year for many years, something clearly impossible. And he keeps pretending that Greece will be able to pay 100 billion euros, to reimburse its debt, at the beginning of the next decade.

Again it is not a question of intelligence or stupidity. It is a question of lies told not only to Europeans in general, but also to the German citizens themselves, who, sooner or later, will pay the bill for the actions of their leaders, as it has happened twice in the 20th century.

The European policy of the German Right is not to the social advantage of the German popular classes, because the money Germany is making out of Greece, is not fairly distributed to them. But it is also against the national interest of Germany, as it spends all the political capital it has accumulated after 1945 to destroy and subjugate a small European country. Germans can already see the results in the Brexit and in the rise of the French Far Right. But this is only a prelude to the coming crisis.

Now the question arises again. What is the policy of German and the European “Left”? Do they have one? Did they learn something from the collapse of PASOK in Greece, of the Dutch Labour Party or of the French Socialists. Or they are so dependent from Finance, they are ready to commit suicide?

Maybe, instead of accusing European citizens for turning to the Far Right, it would be more useful for leaders of the European Left to look to a mirror?

A coup against European Democracy

Those Greek “reforms”, supported in the above statement by the supposed  “Socialists”, “Ecologists” and “Leftists” in the Europarliament, are not a simple, neoliberal experiment, even a very harsh one. Greece has become a terrain for experimentation in “regime change” and even what we might call “country change” in the West. What they are attempting to do is to transform the regime of Western democracy into a mechanism for direct rule by Finance.  The external forms of parliamentary democracy are kept intact, but emptied of content.

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Source: Socio-Economic History Blog

Every day the Troika is laying down the law in Athens. Its representatives call government officials every day and shout at them for every word or action, even the smallest, which they deem to be running counter to the “reform program”. As for the representatives of the “Greek government”, they cannot even protest, because to do this would be to run the risk of revealing the degree of servitude they have already accepted.

Thousands of pages of legal text (and nobody knows who  prepared it, and on whose orders) are introduced to Greece,  translated by automatic translation computer programs from English into often incorrect Greek and then voted by a simulacrum of Parliament, under the pressure ultimatums of a maniac German Minister of Finance and IMF economic assassins. All this in opposition to the will of the Greek people, as directly expressed in the referendum of July 5th, 2015 and to the most fundamental provisions of the Greek Constitution and of the Treaties of the EU.

The creditors have usurped even the day-to-day running of the most important business of government by creating a galaxy of “independent authorities”, which are “independent” of the Greek government and the Greek people, but also very much dependent on them.

This is the way things are now run in a member-country of the EU which the Financial Times calls a “Western protectorate”, but others have introduced the perhaps more accurate term of “debt colony” to describe it.

It is not even a straightforward colony.  It is a colony subjected to permanent destruction and looting, in the process of being transformed into a variety of slave economy and slavesociety. More than half of young Greeks do not have a job or the prospect of finding one, in spite of the demolition, in both law and practice, of salaries and of any rights formerly possessed by working persons. Greek parents, and especially mothers, who are probably  the most overprotective in all of Europe and until recently loved  to keep their children as close as possible to themselves, now have one great dream: to see their offspring emigrate, even if they have to live in Australia, Africa or the Emirates.

Those who emigrate are the best educated and most active, precisely those whom this country needs if it is to survive. Thousands of very well educated (at the expense of the Greek state) doctors and nurses are, for example, now staffing German hospitals, as the Greek health system crumbles under the weight of to the so-called “reforms”.

Once again, there is no mistake. Mr. Strauss-Kahn, at that time  head of the IMF, explained to Greek parliamentarians in 2011 that the solution to the problem of unemployment would be for young Greeks to emigrate “temporarily”.

By supporting this kind of “reform”, the statement of the three “Leftists” is endorsing the return of Greece to Medieval social conditions and abolition of democracy in the country where it was invented and named, for the first time in human history.

Is such an outcome in any way useful for German, Italian and other European working people and ordinary citizens?

If Finance succeeds, with the help of European political elites, including so-called Leftists, in imposing such a regime on Greece, it will not try to expand it, sooner or later, first to Southern, then also to Northern Europe?

The Looting of Greece

The statement unfortunately not only supports the economic and social destruction of Greece and the abolition of democracy. It also supports the looting of this country. Its words on free competition coincide with the pressure being placed upon the Greek government to abandon its last resistance to the selling off of all Greek public property, including the selling off of the country’s main electricity producing company, the Public Power Corporation. They speak of competition, but in fact what they want to ensure is that German and not Chinese economic interests should be the owners of the Greek energy company!

Who is really writing such communiques like the one signed by the three Presidents? They themselves do it, their assistants do it or representatives of private interests are doing that?

Now the European Central Bank is excluding Greece from quantitative easing. As a result perfectly healthy and successful Greek enterprises are in the situation of not being able to obtain financing and are in a very disadvantageous position by comparison with their foreign competitors who, with the help of this unfair competition, are conquering the Greek market, or what remains of it.

They have acquired, or they are acquiring, the communications, the airports, albeit only the profitable ones, the tourist industry, the real estate. They are taking over everything, including the private property of Greeks, through exorbitant taxation, imposed by the necessity of serving a unsustainable debt.

You don’t need to be a leftist or a socialist to revolt against the return of relations between European nations to the situation prevailing during the opium wars of British imperialism against China.

To revolt it is enough to have elementary human dignity.

Unfortunately things can get even worse. If these policies continue they will achieve in the long run what Mikis Theodorakis once called “Greece without Greeks”. Many people avoid having  children. Young people are emigrating, Greece is in continuous demographic contraction, with its population becoming weaker and weaker in every possible way.

If this process continues  Greece will become a country ruled by foreigners, owned by foreigners, inhabited by fewer and fewer old and sick natives. The empire of Finance will have triumphed exactly where the Acropolis still stands as a reminder of the defeated saga of the Athenian democracy, the first, and to the present day not surpassed, effort of human beings to rule themselves.

The IMF and Debt

The three representatives of the “European Left” are also supporting, indirectly but clearly, continuation of the presence of the IMF in Europe in the role of supreme economic governor. I wonder since when exactly such an organization, which, by its activities in the Third and the ex-”Socialist” world, has earned a far worse reputation than, for example, the CIA, and which constitutes nothing other than the collective expression of the will of international finance capital and the United States of America, is the right tool to govern the economy of any European state.

Our three “Leftists” are also supporting some vague “medium- term Greek alleviation scheme” now being discussed between Germany and the IMF. Do they know what it is all about? Because the previous restructuring, known as PSI, turned out to be the first debt restructuring in living memory to go so clearly against the interests of the debtor.

In the context of this PSI they first obliged Greek hospitals, pension funds, universities to write off their state bonds, thus losing the greater part of their property. They then embarked on radical transformation of the legal terms of the Greek sovereign debt, to the disadvantage of Greece, by changing it from debt to private entities to debt to states, introducing British colonial law and the jurisdiction of foreign courts over questions related to debt disputes.

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Source: Covert Geopolitics

Before the 2011 PSI debt restructuring the Greek debt was denominated in the Greek national currency, so it goes without saying that it would be converted automatically into a Greek currency if Greece had decided to leave the Euro. After 2011 it was denominated in euros. Previously the Greek Parliament and Greek courts were responsible for it. Now, British colonial law is applicable and foreign courts have the jurisdiction to judge the relevant conflicts.

Again, this debt restructuring did not lead to diminution but to  increase in the Greek debt as a percentage of GDP.

The creditors introduced, and had the Greek Parliament adopt, measures as suicidal as this by taking advantage of the fact that the two main Greek parties of this time, PASOK and New Democracy were, as has now been amply proved, on the payroll of the German company Siemens and many other firms. Even if they wanted to, Greek politicians could not do anything to resist foreign pressure, because they would immediately run the risk of their bribery being disclosed and prosecuted.

Why did these “Leftist” Europarliamentarians not ask for an international commission to be established to investigate the Greek question as a whole, the origin of the Greek debt, the Goldman Sachs swaps, to ask Mr. Draghi, a veteran of this bank to explain what h knows about all that, the role of the German government and of the Brussels Commission, the connections between business leaders in France and in Germany and the corrupted Greek political class, and many other things that could help European citizens understand what is happening.

Now the empire of Finance has been able to transform its own crisis into an intra-European debt war. European citizens would most probably unite in opposition if they became conscious of what  Finance has done and how it is using intra-European antagonisms.

Do these “Leftist” parties have a position on the crux of the matter, the Greek Debt and the neocolonial agreements imposed by Berlin, the EU, the ECB and the IMF on Greece? Or do they not?

The solution to the Greek question

To summarize our own position:

There are three and only three things that all decent economists in the world would agree on:

– the Greek “reform” program was and continue to be a disaster

– the Greek debt is unsustainable

– the Earth is flat and it is rotating around the Sun

You don’t need to be a leftist, a socialist or a communist to understand this. It is enough to read the newspaper of German industrialists, Handelsblatt or the studies of German economic institutes. Careful reading of both would be very useful to anybody wishing to make a government career in Berlin.

The nature of the policies applied in Greece is objective, it does not change because the Greek PM calls himself a “radical Leftist”.

Tsipras will, after all, be judged for the way he prepared, or rather did not prepare, the Greek people to resist the forces attacking them. But whatever Greek governments say or do, it does not alter the responsibilities of the attacking forces: Berlin, Brussels and the IMF.

Anyone who wants to propose a solution to the Greek problem must, first of all, answer these questions. And that includes Grexit supporters, because these problems are the problems which are literally killing Greeks and Greece and they will not disappear if tomorrow Greece leaves the Euro and/or the EU.(4)

For various reasons a great deal of confusion prevails in the discussions about Greece, along with great oversimplification, as the Greek problem is presented mainly or solely as a problem of belonging or not belonging to the eurozone. While very important per se, this discussion obscures the fact that  any progressive, democratic solution to the Greek crisis, any solution with the potential to save Greece and curb the offensive of the new European Financial Totalitarianism, has to include three elements irrespective of the currency question:

– the need to revoke the agreements between Greece and the creditors

– the need for very serious alleviation of the Greek sovereign debt or, at minimum, a moratorium on payments until the country makes a firm return to the road of development

– a Marshall Plan to repair the damage done and open new prospects for this country.

These are not socialist or communist policies. They are the policies the United States of America introduced after World War II as a means of dealing with the German question.

They are policies that should be integrated into a serious political program for the whole of the continent (something which the European Left now lacks) and linked to the effort to build a  European political subject to complement the national political subjects and struggle for that program. Like it or not, objectively Europeans are living more and more in a single state. But our political and public life is, subjectively, confined to national contexts that are becoming more and more irrelevant. There is an urgent need for this gap to be overcome. A federation of European national-popular leftist movements, able really to act as a European political subject, is more necessary now than at the time of the Zimmerwald conference.

Dimitris Konstantakopoulos is a journalist and writer. He has been the Secretary of the Movement of Independent Citizens Spitha, a member of the Central Committee and of the Secretariat of SYRIZA, a member of its Program Drafting Committee and of the Secretariat of the Committee on Foreign and Defense Policy of SYRIZA.

Notes

(1) It is probable that this communique was issued because of anxiety about the outcome of the Eurogroup meeting of May 22nd. We would like also for such a crisis not to happen now for one reason: the Greek people and the European democratic and progressive forces are completely unprepared to handle it. But, if it happens, it will happen because of the very structure of the program and because of the stubborn attitude of the German Finance Minister, who wants to humiliate the Greek government and oblige it to leave the Eurozone against its own will and who refuses to discuss anything related to the Greek debt. One can criticize Schaeuble for what he is doing without endorsing a program which is tantamount to a disaster for Greeks and Greece.

(2) In fact, the German government and German or French private firms like Siemens or banks or their friends of Goldman Sachs always knew much better than the Greek government and the Greek people what is happening in Greece, for a quite simple reason. For years they were regularly paying the majority of Greek politicians, parties and high state officials, as has been revealed and publicized in both Greece and Germany. It is simply ridiculous to state that Greece falsified the statistical data to enter the eurozone, with the help of Goldman Sachs swaps, without the German government or the European Commission knowing anything. Yuncker himself, in a lapse into sincerity, went on the record in 2011, to say, “we all knew what was happening in Greece. But we were not speaking because of French and German exports.”

(3) Mrs. Zimmer can find a lot of information about what it is going on in Greece in texts of her own party Linke or of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation or in declaration signed by nearly all leaders of European Left and known as the “Mikis-Glezos” appeal http://www.defenddemocracy.press/common-appeal-for-the-rescue-of-the-peoples-of-europe/

(4) We cannot in the context of this article discuss the very important question of Grexit. An exit of Greece from the Eurozone may be necessary, even if it does not seem to be the best solution, under today’ s concrete circumstances, but by itself is not going to address either the debt question or the consequences of the agreements signed in the past with the creditors. Those two questions, which directly threaten the survival of the Greek people and their state, will remain in place, inside or outside the Eurozone and the EU. This is why, to discuss the Greek problem as mainly or exclusively a euro problem, is, at best, a dangerous oversimplification.

This is also the case because it does not take into account that what we face in Europe is not simply a problem of a “badly” designed currency zone. What we face is an ongoing war of  Finance against European democracy and the social welfare state, an offensive which will be felt whether you are inside or outside the eurozone and/or the EU, with or without the EU.

If tomorrow there appears in Greece a political subject and a mass movement which, in the context of a struggle for social survival and consequent elaboration of a coherent and comprehensive project for the salvation of the country, develops such a capacity, then it must prepare itself for introducing a national means of payment. But such a political subject and mass movement simply do not exist now, especially after the disaster of SYRIZA and ANEL.

There can be many “Grexits” and they may have very different economic and geopolitical consequences, from very progressive to very reactionary. It is one thing for a Grexit to be prepared by a serious and strong popular movement and another for it to be prepared in accordance with the preferences  of  Herr Schaueble and the most extremist wing of the international establishment after Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen. The second type of Grexit  could lead not to a recovery of a degree of Greek national sovereignty but to the destruction of even the last remnants of the Greek state, in the context of wider, very radical geopolitical designs. If you live in Berlin or in Brussels, geopolitics often do not exist. But it is very different if you are located in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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The political noose is tightening around Trump’s neck, and he’s got only one way out: war. The U.S. involvement in the Syrian war is accelerating as Trump’s talons dig deeper into the conflict.  If he successfully clutches his prey he stands a chance of clinging to the presidency.  

The Democrats, now circling a wounded Trump, will happily feast instead on a rotting Syria: the only thing that can keep the Democrats from destroying Trump is if Trump destroys Syria.

Trump’s strategy is based on how Democrats reacted after his first attack on the Syrian government on April 6th: they paused their toothless “resistance” to celebrate his bombing. Trump, at his most dangerous, exposed the Democrats at their weakest.

Now Trump has struck the Syrian government again: on May 18th U.S. fighter jets attacked the Syrian military in Eastern Syria, from a new U.S. military base functioning inside Syrian territory controlled by the Syrian Kurds, where there are at least 1,000 U.S. active troops.

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Although the U.S. media underplayed Trump’s recent attack —— or ignored it completely — legendary U.K. Middle East journalist Robert Fisk (image on the right, source: Online Journalism Blog) explained the significance:

“…what was described by the Americans as a minor action was part of a far more important struggle between the US and the Syrian regime for control of the south-eastern frontier of Syria…”

Yes, the U.S. is already at war with the Syrian government for control of Syrian territory. The U.S. war on ISIS in Syria was never about ISIS, but about gaining a foothold directly inside Syria. Many pundits dismissed Trump’s initial attack on the Syrian government as “symbolic,” when in fact it began a new war. The New York Times confirms the motive of Trump’s war:

“Two competing coalitions that aim to defeat the Islamic State — one [Kurdish and U.S. fighters] backed by American air power, the other [the Syrian government] by Russian warplanes — are racing to the same goal.”

What is this goal?

“…[there is an] urgency among the competing coalitions fighting the Islamic State to be the first in southeast Syria to defeat the group [ISIS] and to occupy the power vacuum that its defeat would leave….Eastern Syria and the area around Deir al-Zour are mostly unpopulated desert, but they have Syria’s modest oil reserves…The area is strategically important to the United States, which wants to stabilize Iraq where it has a long-term military and political investment, and to Russia, which wants to strengthen the Syrian government’s control of as much territory as possible.”

In summary: the U.S. military wants to “occupy” the “power vacuum” left by ISIS, because Syrian territory is “strategically important” to the United States.

The war isn’t about ISIS because the U.S. military isn’t needed to defeat ISIS in Syria, since the group was doomed the day that Turkey decided to close ranks against them — by sealing their border with Syria — instead of openly supporting them as they had for several years.

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US Army armoured vehicles in Syria (Source: Twitter)

Consequently, the Syrian government — with Russian and Iranian support — has no problem mopping up ISIS in Syria, and they’re racing to do it first before the U.S.-Kurdish alliance claims the territory for itself.

Establishment Democrats are cheer-leading Trump’s war goals in private, which is why they’re not denouncing them in public. The Democrat-friendly New York Times published a revealing op-ed entitled “A Trump Doctrine for the Middle East?” In it the writer applauds Trump’s war aims:

“Despite the controversies at home, Mr. Trump may come away with a legacy-cementing achievement: a Trump Doctrine for the Middle East…it is false that American ‘soft power’ is the key to stabilizing the [middle east] region. Our ideals, such as promoting democracy, will work to our advantage only if we first restore order — a project that rests on American hard power [military intervention]. What’s more, the use of force is not inherently counterproductive…”

The article explains that Obama’s “soft power” (the Syrian proxy war) failed and that Trump aims to “restore order” with “hard power” (direct military intervention). As Trump’s bombs fall heavier Democrats will scramble to support a wider war that, crazily, increasingly threatens direct confrontation with Russia.  The Russian government loudly denounced Trump’s most recent bombing against the Syrian government, and sent more Russian troops to the region in response.

The U.S. war against ISIS in Syria has always been a pretext to undermine the Syrian and Iranian governments. Robert Fisk explains:

“Cutting Syria off from Iraq – and thus from Iran – appears to be a far more immediate operational aim of US forces in Syria than the elimination of the [ISIS] Sunni ‘Caliphate’ cult that Washington claims to be its principal enemy in the Middle East.”

How might this “race to defeat ISIS” end? Trump’s ominous trip to Saudi Arabia gives some insight into the Trump Doctrine. Trump made an enormous arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $350 billion over 10 years, and wants the Saudis to use the money to co-lead an “Arab NATO” [military alliance]. Who will this alliance be aimed against? The Trump administration made it known that Iran was the main target, and thus Syria is the appetizer.

In a separate article Robert Fisk discussed Trump’s Saudi visit:

“The aim, however, is simple: to prepare the Sunni Muslims [the gulf monarchy U.S. allies and others] of the Middle East for war against the Shia Muslims [Iran, Syria, Hezbollah]. With help from Israel, of course.”

This is the real reason Trump prioritized Saudi Arabia as the always-important first stop on his initial trip abroad: Trump is clearly stating his commitment to the totalitarian monarchies, who main priorities are the destruction of its regional enemies: Yemen, Syria, and Iran.

This “Arab NATO” is meant to act as a U.S. puppet army in the way that ‘official’ NATO does in Europe,  and the African Union’s “Standby Force” does in Africa, where U.S. allies share the responsibility of repressing neighbor states who defy U.S. interests, i.e. they refuse to abandon their political-economic self determination.  

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Source: Middle East Institute

A U.S.-led “Arab NATO” wasn’t previously impossible because the U.S. is universally hated across the Middle East, for its longstanding alliance with Israel combined with its recent annihilation of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The openness in which the Gulf monarchies are trying to form this alliance shows just how distanced from and hated by their own residents, who are prevented from expressing their hatred through elections or public protest.

The Trump-led alliance is especially foreboding because U.S. allies in the region feel deeply betrayed by Obama’s Middle East approach; they want concrete assurances the betrayal won’t be repeated, since U.S. allies risked a lot in regime change in Syria after Obama ensured them that regime change would be a safe bet. Trump’s visit means, in practice, a fresh commitment to Assad’s downfall and renewed hostilities with Iran, nuclear deal be damned.

Trump’s current war strategy in Syria is similar to President Bush Sr.’s experiment in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War: he used a no-fly zone in Kurdish-majority northern Iraq that de-facto partitioned the country, allowing the Kurds to take power where they remain in power today, as an important U.S. puppet. The partitioning of Iraq helped weaken the country prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion.

The Syrian Kurds are now being armed with U.S. weaponry and given similar promises as their Iraqi counterparts received, but the Syrian Kurds are rightfully nervous about their new alliance.

In their desperate fight against ISIS the Kurds have accepted an alliance with the world’s military superpower: the Kurdish homeland is infested with rats and they invited a tiger to deal with the problem; but once the rats are dead the tiger will stay hungry.  The Kurds also live next to another starving Tiger, the Turkish Government.

The history of the Kurds is one of constant betrayals by larger powers. And now they are pleading on the pages of The New York Times not to be betrayed again, since they see the writing on the wall:

“…[President Trump] give us your word that even after Raqqa’s liberation [in Syria] you will prevent attempts by Turkey to destroy what we’ve built here.”

Of course Trump’s “word” is meaningless (and even this he won’t give publicly). The Kurds are being used as battlefield pawns in a greater game. As Trump aligns with the Kurds in Syria, he simultaneously calls the Turkish Kurds “terrorists,” even though the Turkish and Syrian Kurds are closely aligned ideologically and militarily.

Like all “boots on the ground,” the Kurds are most useful to the U.S. as cannon fodder, while more powerful people profit from the fighting. The political power of the Kurds pales in comparison to their enemy Turkey, whose government has long-term interests (the destruction of the Kurds) that will outlast the short-term military objectives Trump.  

The above contradictions are sharpening across the Middle East, nearing the point of yet another explosion. The Trump Doctrine is a flamethrower at a gas station that can instantly spark an even greater conflagration, beyond the horrors we’ve already witnessed across the Middle East. If the Trump resistance movement in the United States doesn’t quickly prioritize a real anti war strategy, there will be little resistance left to speak of as we descend into war.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected].

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A bomb was detonated at Phramongkutlao Hospital – a military medical facility in the heart of Thailand’s capital Bangkok – injuring at least 20. The attack was carried out on the third anniversary of a military coup that ousted the regime of Yingluck Shinawatra who openly ran the country as a proxy for her convicted criminal brother, fugitive, and former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Source: Land Destroyer Report

The attack targeted a waiting area where retired military personnel and their families were waiting for medication.

The Usual Suspects

The bombing is not the first violent act committed by Shinawatra and his supporters. His time in power, beginning in 2001, has been dominated by coercion, intimidation, mass murder, and terrorism. Despite a 2003 “war on drugs” that left nearly 3,000 extrajudicially executed in the streets, serial human rights abuses, the muzzling of local media, and repeated use of assassination and terrorism to coerce political opponents, Shinawatra has enjoyed Western support.

Thaksin Shinawatra has – for over a decade – represented US-European interests in Thailand and currently enjoys broad political, media, and material support from the West. He still serves as the most promising vector into Thailand for US and European interests versus the current government which has decidedly leaned in favor of regional allies including China, and global allies including Russia.

Since his own ousting from power in 2006, Shinawatra has led from abroad, multiple violent attempts to seize back power and topple Thailand’s independent institutions including the constitutional monarchy, the courts, and the military.

In 2009 street violence would leave two dead and widespread damage from arson and looting. The following year, Shinawatra would deploy not only mobs, but also heavily armed militants wielding assault rifles, grenade launchers, improvised explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, and hand grenades in violence that would span weeks and leave nearly 100 dead including soldiers, police, and innocent by-standers.

The violence also featured Shinawatra’s supporters storming Chulalongkorn Hospital in downtown Bangkok, prompting the hospital’s evacuation and temporary shuttering until security in the city was restored.

Source: Soichiro Koriyama via Land Destroyer Report

Between 2013-2014 protesters attempting to oust Shinawatra’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra from office faced daily attacks from these militants. Up to 20 would die and many more would be injured.

When in May 2014 Shinawatra was finally ousted from office by a military coup, a nationwide sweep would uncover weapon caches staged by Shinawatra’s supporters in preparation for Syrian or Libyan-style violence.

UDD leaders accompanied by scores of thugs, muscled their way into Chulalongkorn Hospital in downtown Bangkok in 2010. The raid necessitated the evacuation of the hospital and its temporary shuttering until security was later restored by city-wide military operations.  Source: Land Destroyer Report

The preparations were coordinated with Western media organizations who attempted to promote a narrative involving a looming “civil war.” In reality, Shinawatra had few actual supporters, and a very limited pool of armed militants. Widespread terrorism was possible – but a civil war was not. Attempts by the Western media to portray the violence – had it unfolded – as a “civil war” would have given the US and Europe the ability to intervene diplomatically and covertly in a more direct manner.

Similar tricks have been used everywhere from Ukraine to Libya and even Syria where a lack of local support necessitated the importation of terrorists from across the planet to fuel the conflicts.

Ultimately the military coup in 2014 thwarted these plans in Thailand and relative peace and stability have been restored to the nation. Time is on Thailand’s side. With each year, Shinawatra and his political networks grow weaker and the swamps of poverty and ignorance he exploited to regularly win elections are being drained through economic development.

Reminding what remains of Shinawatra’s shrinking support base that they are still a force to be reckoned with has been regularly done through small-scale bombings like the one that just rocked a Bangkok hospital. That a hospital has been targeted once again, and on the anniversary of a coup that ousted Shinawatra’s regime from power is of little surprise.

US Fingerprints

Like many other opposition fronts around the world seeking to take power in a nation deemed “undemocratic” by the United States and its European allies, Thailand’s “pro-democracy” opposition consists of a political party – Pheu Thai Party, and a street front used for violent sedition – the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD or “red shirts”).

This political party and its accompanying street front are augmented and actively supported by a collection of US State Department-funded fronts posing as student groups, academics, or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). A partial list of these fronts can be found on the US National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) webpage. They include Prachatai, Thai Laywers for Human Rights, Thai Netizen, Democracy Cafe, and many others frequently cited by the Western media and presented to the public as independent “human rights” advocates.

Source: Land Destroyer Report

Thaksin Shinawatra himself has been supported by US and European lobbying firms since 2006.

And like many other nations targeted by US-backed regime change, Thailand has witnessed these attempts coupled with terrorism, street violence, assassination attempts, and attempts at sociopolitical sabotage aimed at Thailand’s global standings and economic viability – often done through coordinated media campaigns.

Just as the US used a combination of political opposition parties, street fronts, violence, and US-funded NGOs to sow instability in nations like Libya and Syria ahead of full-blown regime change operations and even direct military intervention, the US is probing Thai unity and stability through the use of these tools in Thailand as well.

The bombing of a hospital in downtown Bangkok is a reminder of who and what the Thai opposition really represents – and the familiar pattern of instability and violence that stalks nations slated for “regime change” by Wall Street and Washington.

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Riddled with hypocrisy, clichés and absurdities, President Donald Trump’s speech Sunday before an assembly of monarchs and despots in Saudi Arabia spelled out an agenda of escalating US militarism throughout the Middle East and a buildup in particular toward war with Iran.

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Stephen Miller (Source: ChicagoNow)

Hailed by a fawning American media as “presidential”–supposedly eclipsing for the moment the crises and factional struggles engulfing the administration–the speech was reportedly drafted by Stephen Miller, the extreme right-wing ideologue credited with being the chief architect of Trump’s abortive executive order banning people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the US.

Much in Trump’s half-hour address echoed the speech delivered by Barack Obama in Cairo eight years earlier. Both presidents declared their desire to reset US relations with the Middle East, while absurdly posturing as leaders of a pacifist nation seeking only good for the region and offering to head up a united struggle against “violent extremism.”

In what was meant as a rhetorical invocation to action against terrorism, Trump told his audience,

“Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth.”

Like Obama before him, Trump had no interest in dealing with who brought Al Qaeda and similar forces in, as the historical trail leads directly to the CIA in Afghanistan and US imperialism’s longstanding support for right-wing Islamist organizations and terrorist groups as a counterweight to left nationalist and socialist influence in the Arab and Islamic world. Jointly, the US and Saudi Arabia continue to fund and arm such forces in their drive for regime-change in Syria.

Both speeches were laced with flowery tributes to Islamic culture. Trump noted in particular how impressed he was with the “splendor” of Saudi Arabia and the “grandeur” of the palace in which the so-called Arab Islamic American Summit had been convened.

What separated the two addresses were the different shifts in strategy by Washington. While Obama sought to repair the damage done by the Bush administration’s criminal war in Iraq by offering a new face for US imperialism, Trump traveled to Saudi Arabia to make clear his administration’s break with his predecessor’s policy of seeking a rapprochement with Iran based on the 2015 nuclear deal. He adopted an openly confrontational stance toward Tehran.

“Above all, America seeks peace–not war,” Trump proclaimed, in what stood out as the most blatant of the many lies in his brief address.

US Navy

The reality is that US wars in the region have killed millions over the past decade-and-a-half. And the thrust of the US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his first stop in a nine-day foreign tour, is the preparation for new and even bloodier conflicts.

This was made plain by the principal agreements forged between Trump and the Saudi monarchy, which included a $110 billion arms deal that incorporates the option to purchase $350 billion worth of weapons over the next 10 years.

The arms agreement “supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, told reporters in Riyadh, “in particular in the face of the malign Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats which exist on Saudi Arabia’s borders on all sides.”

In his speech, Trump painted Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism, accusing Tehran of providing terrorists with “safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment,” and fueling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” all charges that could be leveled, with justification, against his Saudi hosts.

He portrayed the US cruise missile attack on Syria last month–followed just last week by the US bombing of a pro-government militia in the southeastern part of the country–as part of a wider struggle against Iranian influence. He went on to call upon “all nations of conscience” to “isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.” That he was speaking in Saudi Arabia, a brutally repressive absolute monarchy, just two days after more than 70 percent of Iranian voters participated in a sharply contested election, did nothing to blunt Trump’s call for regime-change.

He specifically praised Saudi Arabia and its allies for having “taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen.” The near-genocidal Saudi war has killed some 12,000 Yemenis, while destroying basic infrastructure in the Arab world’s poorest country, leaving over 7 million people on the brink of starvation and unleashing a cholera epidemic that threatens a massive death toll.

In March, US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis issued a memo calling for stepped-up US support for this criminal war, in which the Pentagon is already supplying intelligence and logistical backing to the Saudi bombing campaign.

Part of the weapons deal signed by Trump involves the shipment of precision-guided munitions that had been cut off in a highly limited gesture of disapproval of Saudi tactics in Yemen by the Obama administration, which itself concluded over $100 billion worth of weapons deals with Riyadh. Also included in the new deal are tanks, artillery, helicopters and other weaponry that can be directly funneled into the slaughter in Yemen.

In addition to his speech and the signing of arms and investment deals, Trump participated in a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudi-led coalition of Gulf oil sheikdoms. Trump administration officials have raised the objective of using the GCC as the foundation of a Sunni Arab version of NATO directed at military confrontation with Iran.

Beyond the drive to militarily confront Iran, a principal regional rival of US imperialism in the Middle East, and the huge profits that Saudi arms purchases reap for the US military industrial complex, there are broader strategic considerations in the US turn toward a closer alliance with Riyadh.

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Anthony Cordesman (Source: CSIS)

Some of these issues were outlined on the eve of Trump’s trip in a piece published by the influential Washington think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies and authored by Anthony Cordesman, a longtime Pentagon adviser. First among them is, according to Cordesman, “the continued level of US dependence on Saudi help in securing the stable flow of Gulf oil.”

While US imports from the Gulf have fallen sharply over the past quarter-century, Cordesman cites “indirect dependence” in terms of the impact a disruption in oil exports would have on global energy prices and the world capitalist economy. In particular, he points to the dependence of Asian economies on Gulf petroleum exports.

If the United States failed in “providing power projection forces and arms” to the region, he writes, its principal global rival, China, might fill the void.

“China may not yet be ready to try to assume the role, but the entire South China Sea crisis would pale to near insignificance if China became the de facto guarantor of Gulf stability.”

Cordesman continues:

“The real-world nature of US influence and power in the Pacific would be cut massively, China’s leverage over other major Asian economies like Japan and South Korea would be sharply increased, and the potential rise in tension between China and India–and cut in India’s relative position–would have a massive impact on the balance of power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.”

In other words, the turn toward closer relations with Saudi Arabia and the related Gulf oil sheikdoms is bound up with US imperialism’s mounting conflict with China, which it has identified as the principal challenge to the drive for American global hegemony. Washington is determined to dominate Asia, including China, by maintaining the military power to choke off the region’s energy imports.

The fact that the sclerotic House of Saud, one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, has become a lynchpin of Washington’s imperialist strategy, not only in the Middle East but globally, is a measure of the crisis of American and world capitalism.

Oil revenues, which account for fully 90 percent of the kingdom’s export earnings, have been cut nearly in half since 2014. Last month, the government was forced to reverse itself on austerity measures that hit the military and public employees over fear that declining living standards and rising unemployment are creating the conditions for social revolt.

In the predominantly Shia Eastern Province, the center of the kingdom’s oil production, security forces laid siege to the town of Awamiyah, a center of resistance to the regime, during the week preceding Trump’s visit. Combined with the failure of the Saudi bid to topple the Assad regime in Syria by supporting Al Qaeda-linked militias and the regime’s inability to retake Yemen from the Houthi rebels, the deepening domestic crisis is creating the conditions for revolutionary upheavals against Washington’s principal ally in the Arab world.

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On Saturday, May 20th, U.S. President Donald Trump and the Saud family inked an all-time record-high $350 billion ten-year arms-deal that not only will cement-in the Saud family’s position as the world’s largest foreign purchasers of U.S.-produced weaponry, but will make the Saud family, and America’s ruling families, become, in effect, one aristocracy over both nations, because neither side will be able to violate the will of the other. As the years roll on, their mutual dependency will deepen, each and every year.

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Source: Zero Hedge

Sixteen years after the Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud (who was nicknamed “Bandar Bush” for his intimacy with the Bush family) served in Washington as Saudi Arabia’s U.S. Ambassador and he and his wife personally paid tens of thousands of dollars to the Sauds’ minders who paid for the apartments and for the pilot-training of 9/11 jihadists, and the U.S. government hid this fact from the U.S. public for fifteen years until it was made public but suppressed by the U.S. press so that Americans still don’t know about it, the U.S. and Saudi aristocracies are now becoming bound together even more strongly than before, because of this record-shattering deal that Trump’s team negotiated with the Sauds.

The U.S. government officially blames Iran for the 9/11 attacks and has fined Iran $10.5 billion for those attacks. The Sauds hate Iran and claim that Iran poses an “existential threat” to them. These new weapons will, the Sauds claim, “protect” them from Iran. Right after Trump won the 2016 election, he staffed the top level of his incoming Administration with people who consider Iran to be the main source of terrorism. In a 5 February 2017 Super Bowl television interview, Trump was asked what his policies would be regarding Iran, and he answered (video here, transcript here):

“They have total disregard for our country. They are the number one terrorist state.”

But he provided no specifics. This ‘defense’ deal is a big specific part of the answer, to that question. The U.S. will now be even more tightly allied with the Sauds (the world’s wealthiest family) than was previously the case.

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Source: Lockheed Martin

According to a report in the New York Times on May 18th, President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner participated importantly in these negotiations, when he spoke by phone with the CEO of the biggest American weapons-maker, Lockheed Martin, to request her to discount a crucial radar-system, so that the deal could be accepted by Saudi Prince Muhammed bin Salman al-Saud, and she said yes, which was necessary in order for the entire $350 billion package to be accepted. Unreported, however, about this matter, was whether any concession was made by the Trump Administration to Lockheed Martin, in order to be able to win from them this crucial discount. Whether any such verbal commitments were made, might never become publicly known, but this is the way that deals are made.

The intensifying U.S.-jihadist alliance will be bad news for the governments that have been fighting consistently against jihadists (who are supported by the Sauds), such as Russia in Chechnya and Syria. The Saudi regime will now be able to stand behind the U.S.-backed Al-Qaeda-led forces in Syria that are fighting to overthrow and replace Syria’s existing government, which is backed by Russia.

As I had headlined on May 16th about this gargantuan trade-deal that had already been negotiated but was to be withheld from official announcement until President Trump would meet with Prince Salman on May 20th to sign it, “Trump’s Plan Finally Becomes Clear”, and this plan really is the center-piece for fulfilling Trump’s campaign-promise to restore American manufacturing. Thousands of new American workers will need to be hired in order to make the weapons that will be used to further destroy Syria, Yemen, and other countries where the public resist becoming ruled by fundamentalist Sunnis and Sharia law, such as the Saud family prefers. Russian Television (RT) has reported extensively about this, and on May 19th even reported bombings by the Sauds’ regime against a Shia town inside Saudi Arabia itself, headlining “‘You might get shot any time’: Saudi forces raid Shia town as Riyadh welcomes Trump”. Video was shown there of buildings that had been wrecked by the Sauds’ bombings and mortars. ‘News’media in U.S. and allied countries are not reporting anything of this. The Washington Post (in line with U.S. ’news’media generally) says that Russian Television is not to be trusted because RT provides ‘fake news’. As regards those bombings, perhaps the U.S. government’s view is that no news is good news. Reporting on this would certainly not be good for business — not in the United States, anyway.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Footage emerged on Saturday of Iraqi pro-government fighters using anti-aircraft weaponry to shoot at US coalition jets near the Al-Tanf border crossing in eastern Homs.

The amateur video was published by a fighter of the Badr Movement, an Iraqi contingent which operates alongside the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), 313 Forces (Syrian militia), Hezbollah (Lebanese paramilitary), Harakat al-Abdal (Iraqi paramilitary), Kata’ib al-Imam Ali (Iraqi paramilitary), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Iraqi paramilitary) along the Damascus-Baghdad highway.

Watch the video here

The Shi’ite fighters from Iraq have controversially been bombed by the US Air Force on two separate occasions; this is explained by their blitz offensive targeted an area controlled by US vetted rebels.

In the weeks to come, the SAA – heavily assisted by foreign fighters – hopes to capture the Al-Tanf border crossing. If succesful, land trade between Damascus and Baghdad will resume for the first time in years.

With more reinforcements arriving on the M2 highway frontier, pro-government forces have now advanced within 30 kilometers of the Al-Tanf border crossing.

Meanwhile, a unit of Norwegian special forces entered the Al-Tanf region to reinforce US and British troops. However, with the SAA and Iraqi volunteers fixated on retaking the border, coalition forces may be forced to abort mission.

Featured image: Al Masdar News

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On Al Nakba Day of all days, the Israeli Navy killed another Palestinian fisherman, Muhammad Majid Bakr. The second in this year alone. The Israeli Navy claims Bakr’s fishing trawler responded neither to their calls, nor warning shots, after deviating “from the designated fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip.”

The boundaries of the fishing zone off Gaza are arbitrarily determined by Israel and enforced by its Navy. These boundaries follow neither international law (12 nautical miles (nm); 22.2 km; 13.8 mi), nor the Oslo Accords that Israel signed (20 nm; 37.0 km; 23.0 mi).  “In the years before 2006, fishermen could go out 10 nm to 12 nm, but from 2006 until 2012 the zone was limited to 3 nm.” In 2012, Israel agreed to increase the zone to 6 nm, but later cut it back. The cease-fire agreement to the 2014 assault on Gaza restored the 6 nm zone.  Since then the zone’s boundaries have changed too.  he difference between 6 nm and 9 nm is significant.  Within the 6 nm zone, the fishing areas are sandy and not conducive to larger fish. The best fishing is found in rocky areas which extend into the 9 nm area.

Since Israel follows neither the international boundaries of territorial waters, nor the boundaries that it agreed to at Oslo, Israel’s Navy is imposing an illegal blockade. This is an act of war. Further, even if the blockade was legal, to fire upon and kill unarmed civilians that pose no threat is a war crime.

This was not the only incident of the day. “In the hours before Bakr was slain, Israeli forces detained six Palestinian fishermen and confiscated two boats.” This is another violation of international law – piracy. As the Electronic Intifada reports,

“the Palestinian Center for Human Rights recorded 126 incidents in which fishing vessels were fired on by Israel [in 2016], and 130 arrests of Palestinians aboard fishing vessels during that period.”

Clearly Israel’s naval blockade, its attacks upon civilians and its piracy are not one-off incidents. They are the implementation of Israeli policy to oppress, injure and kill Gaza’s fishermen.

These unarmed fishermen, who are trying to earn a living to feed their families, and feed the people of Gaza, have no idea when the Israeli Navy will attack. The arbitrary patrols of the Israeli Navy do not even respect their own boundaries at times. Meanwhile the fishermen of Gaza have no recourse against such overwhelming military force and the willingness to use it lethally. Thus the fishermen of Gaza are often deprived of going to the more abundant fishing areas. The resulting lower yielding catches deprive Gaza of much needed food for the 2 million people living in their open air prison created by Israel. Therefore Israel’s implementation of its naval blockade results in yet another war crime – collective punishment against a civilian population.

There is also the specter of Israel’s designs on natural gas fields off the coast of Gaza. Under the Oslo Accords, Gaza was supposed to have control of the territorial waters where natural gas was later found. In 2000, the Palestinians signed “a modest contract to develop . . . confirmed fields” with British Gas (BG). It was at this point that “Prime Minister Ehud Barak [implemented] Israel’s naval control of Gazan coastal waters and nixed the deal with BG.” Israel unlawfully blocked Gaza’s ability to develop its own natural gas field and the associated economic opportunity that went with it. Since Gaza would have benefited from the supply of natural gas, this also constituted another act of collective punishment.  Further, Israel tried to develop natural gas fields in disputed water itself.

Fishermen ride their boat into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea near Gaza City, April 6, 2017. (AP/Adel Hana)

Fishermen ride their boat into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea near Gaza City, April 6, 2017. (Source: AP/Adel Hana)

Perhaps most pernicious about these attacks is that they are completely unnecessary. The Gazan boats attacked are typically small, wooden fishing trawlers as shown in the picture above. The Israelis are employing modern, heavily armed and armored naval vessels. There is no physical threat from the trawlers and therefore no need for the Israeli Navy to apply any kind of force, let alone lethal force.

How is it then that the Western Media will report the firing of a defiant, homemade rocket with an insignificant payload, if any, that harms no one, but won’t report persistent Israeli attacks and the murder of unarmed fishermen on the seas off Gaza? The former is the act of a desperate people under a complete siege by Israel. That siege itself is an act of war. The assault on fishermen constitute regular, deliberate and unprovoked attack on civilians from Gaza.

Israel’s routine provocations in Gaza extend far beyond the fishing zone and attacking fishermen. Israeli provocations include:

* shelling by tanks, artillery and naval batteries,

* military border incursions with tanks and heavy equipment,

* bulldozing of fields inside Gaza’s border,

* spraying pesticides on Palestinian crops,

* flooding Palestinian crops,

* shooting unarmed farmers from border walls because they may enter a 300 m perimeter within Gaza,

* restricting Gaza’s main export of produce,

* restricting the import of necessary building supplies and other goods,

* leaving 65,000 people still displaced from the 2014 massacre, and

* using live ammunition against unarmed protestors.

All of this is of course in addition to the complete siege entering its second decade and periodic massacres such as those in 2008-9, 2012 and 2014.

So while the West remains silent, are we really surprised at the rockets of defiance? President Obama famously said the Israeli talking point in 2014, “no country would tolerate rockets being launched into their cities.” He made similar statements prior to that too. This begs the question though, which countries would tolerate these all too frequent Israeli provocations that President Obama failed to acknowledge.

Last worth noting is that since the attacks upon Mr. Bakr and his fellow fishermen targeted civilians, isn’t that a textbook example of terrorism?

Ian Berman is an entrepreneur and former corporate banker at leading global banks in New York City.  He now focuses on renewable energy, financial advisory services and writing about representative government, equitable public policies and ending American militarism and Israel’s continuing colonization of Palestine.  He is the Co-Founder of Palestine 365, the Ongoing Oppression and its predecessor, Palestine 365, on Facebook.

Featured image: EPA/ALI ALI/VIN

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On Saturday, Iraqi military commander Shakir Abid said a unit of Norwegian special forces had been allowed to enter Syria through the Al-Waleed border crossing in western Anbar.

The Norwegian unit arrived at the Al-Tanf region on the Syrian side of the border, home to US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) that have become the target of an ongoing offensive by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) along the Damascus-Baghdad highway.

The Iraqi Army, Iraqi border guards and Iraqi Federal Police notably provided the Norwegian contingent safe passage to link up with US and British forces already deployed inside eastern Homs, despite vocal objections by the government in Damascus.

Shakir Abid also said the Islamic State was present 50 kilometers north of the border crossing area and that fighting continued in that desert region.

According to Washington, US-led coalition forces have been active in the Al-Tanf border region for months alongside vetted FSA fighters originally from Deir Ezzor province.

With the SAA and paramilitary contingents advancing ever closer to the Al-Tanf border crossing as we speak, the United States Air Force has responded with force on two occasions.

Featured image: Al Masdar News

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On the Nuclear Wasting of South Carolina

May 22nd, 2017 by J. B. Gerald

The Canadian shipments of nuclear waste to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site are currently underway. Without effect, the Anishinabek Nation and Iroquois Caucus have asked the Canadian Government to forego transporting the hazardous materials, and to downgrade the nuclear waste at home in Chalk River. This was also suggested by Savannah River Site Watch in South Carolina to spare from the chance of irradiation of people, land, rivers and water between the two sites.

With Department of Energy permission (sic) Indonesia is able to downgrade its nuclear waste at home. An environmental coalition of Savannah River Site Watch, the Sierra Club, Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Lone Tree Council, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Environmentalists Inc., has tried unsuccessfully to stop the transport through court action. American courts remain unable to protect the people from the risks of nuclear energy. Joining the American groups in requests to government were the Canadian groups of Sierra Club Canada Foundation, National Council of Women of Canada, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Durham Nuclear Awareness, whose combined efforts proved equally ineffective.

The transport of the 23,000 litres scheduled is considered hazardous due to the distance, through populated areas, and possibly faulty lead “pigs” (containers). In the first batch delivered to the Savannah River Plant this April a “hot spot” was found in the side of a container. Supposedly the site has facilities to re-process highly enriched uranium. Yet it is also said that the State has no way to dispose of the plutonium waste already on hand at the site, modestly estimated at 13 tons in 2016 (Unofficial estimates of plutonium at SRS run as high as 30 tons). In March 2016 there was public resistance to the shipment of 331Kg of weapons grade plutonium waste from Japan to the Savannah River Site. In 2014 Nights Lantern noted the report of agreement between the German nuclear industry and U.S. Department of Energy to store German nuclear waste. See also “Nuclear Notes: the Savannah River Watershed”.

Historical note: as South Carolina becomes an irrecoverable holding area and dumping ground for nuclear waste, scarred since the 1950’s by radiation from uranium processing, overburdening the Savannah River Site is likely to further endanger the habitat of Georgia and South Carolina. Families of all races are victim. Both white and Black Racism and the hatreds of historically separated groups work against the South cohering in a unified resistance. Actions such as the Georgia Prison Strike or the Free Alabama Movement suggest there is unity when the oppression becomes terminal. The region’s people need to be informed. Background.

Partial sources online:

“South Carolina governor urges U.S. to divert plutonium from Japan,” Aaron Sheldrick & Megan Cassella, Mar 24, 2016, Reuters;

“Highly Radioactive Liquid Shipments Have Begun – But Can Still be Stopped,” Gordon Edwards, May 14 2017, Eaglewatch;

“2016/03/18 NGO Joint Statement Against Secret Plutonium Shipment in Tokai-mura,” March 18, 2016, Greenpeace;

“First shipment of radioactive liquid waste from Canada received at Savannah River, hotspot detected,” Virginia Daffron, May 15, 2017, Mountain Xpress;

“Liquid Nuclear Waste Convoys A Threat to the Waters of the Great Lakes,” Press release, Oct. 3, 2016, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

Featured image: Mic Smith/postandcourier.com

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Is NATO in a tailspin or is Trump going to rejuvenate it in Afghanistan? US generals believe a summer war with the Taliban is just what he needs. But who will call the shots?

The impeachment of Donald Trump is a subject now permeating American news outlets as the number of those who believe the US president won’t make it to the end of his term increases. Yet, it may well be his own bungling, capricious foreign policies, marked not by their idiotic rationale but more by their stark U-turn on what he has stated himself in the run-up to the US elections, which could prove to be the fatal blow to his presidency.

Afghanistan is a country so vast and so ungoverned that Alexander the Great struggled to conquer it in three bloody years. Even the British in their heyday period of glory lost three wars there in what became more recently called the ‘graveyard of empires’ by scholars and historians. And Russia knows only too well the price of intervention after the former Soviet Union pulled out of the Central Asian country in 1989.

Even President Obama knew the only smart thing to do for US troops was to get out of the wretched place. During George W’s time in office, the US had at one point a staggering 100,000 troops stationed there, yet still failed to have any real impact on both destroying the Taliban or even, remarkably, securing the Afghan capital.

Trump himself scolded Obama in his last days in office and tweeted that the US should get out of these “middle east wars which had cost six trillion dollars.” Remarkably, he even tweeted 13 times that Obama should not bomb Syria, which he has himself done just this week and of course before with the Assad airfield Tomahawk attack.

Afghanistan is like a mesmerizing gem or some kind of addiction for many who cradle it. Once this heroine has consumed you, you can never see anything in a clear light again.

And so Trump has got the Afghan fever, but it is hard to see how he will come out of Afghanistan a winner, as the stakes are so stacked against him, it may well be what Iraq was to Tony Blair: a self-prescribed suicide pill.

Just recently, there have been a growing, if not an alarming, number of NATO inconsistencies which have been confusing US media with regards to Trump. Can his earlier churlish endeavors to threaten to break up the Brussels-based defense organization really be taken seriously in the light of recent developments in the Middle East – plus also a meeting in May of NATO chiefs who have a new blueprint for Afghanistan?

At first glance, Trump’s support of a ‘Muslim NATO’ seemed logical, in that throwing his weight behind such an organization – which will be led by Saudi Arabia – kills many birds with just one stone. However, that view not only shows NATO he is serious about being its number one adversary, but it also enriches the relations he has with the Saudis, who dream of nothing more than delusional glory and influence. If Trump can make the House of Saud powerful and give it an imperial patina in the Middle East, as it was years before when Iran was crippled by Western sanctions, then he can ask whatever he wants for in return from Riyadh. It also angers the Europeans who will, in theory, never be allowed under a NATO mandate to carry out ill-conceived sorties, like bombing Libya, for example, which for many was a new low point for Russia-US relations, despite the jets used being British and Italian.

The Germans are coming

Despite its identity crisis and poor performance, dismantling NATO is not as easy as it seems and, like most of what Trump threatens to do, is not likely to be wound down. The Germans flatly refused at the end of March to pay the two percent of GDP criteria on defense, arguing that international aid should be bundled into the equation. They have also harbored a few delusions themselves about having their own NATO-type organization, which they would lead and other EU member states would support.

And so what is Trump up to? Divide and rule the old NATO? In Afghanistan, the NATO-led coalition was always top heavy with American troops and awkwardly had a great many non-NATO members that made up the ISAF. Perhaps Trump believes that if the US is running a NATO-led campaign there once again, with a new, febrile momentum to scale back the Taliban, then he can use that as leverage in Brussels: ‘Hey, we’re running the Afghanistan campaign which has NATO as merely a name,’ might be the rhetoric. He may also be thinking foolishly along the lines of the neocons in the late 80s who wrongly believed that the US had won a proxy war against the Russians. Can he win in Afghanistan against Russia, who some in his administration say is supporting the Taliban?

Command hierarchy vague

The important thing about the Afghanistan, NATO-led campaign is that NATO does not really lead it. The set up of international foreign armies is so loose and open to interpretation that in 2007, the EU even harped on about a new ‘pillar’ to the command hierarchy. And just for good measure, the Americans always had an entirely separate contingent of soldiers there in the event that they could go rogue and do their own thing when the politics didn’t go their way. Arguably, it is this ambiguity what Trump will hope to capitalize on and so far from supporting NATO in Afghanistan; he could set out to further its demise.

Taliban season kicks off, but who’s got the ammo?

But he just doesn’t understand what he’s getting into. I would argue that the US president is confused and bewildered. To think that after so much ground has been lost to the Taliban, who now control something like 60 percent of the entire country, that a small increase in the numbers of US troops there will make a difference is imbecilic.

These days there is no strategy to win any war. The US generals in NATO are just talking about making sure that the Americans don’t lose any more ground. There is no macho game plan with any bold title. The current initiative is entirely illogical, as now the Taliban have so much control, and the current 13,000 ISAF coalition has only proportioned something like 2,000 to actually fight the group – the rest are there training the Afghanis. Despite one small victory in Kunduz province against the Taliban, in reality, it is taking longer than anyone could have imagined. Afghanistan is the fourth most corrupt country in the world and graft plays a huge role in Taliban gains.

Trump’s generals have also got the numbers wrong and can’t be planning a major turn around but small, bite-sized victories. They are in a hurry because the weather has changed and the fighting season has started. But their furor has clouded their judgment.

An extra 15,000 over the entire country might make some small waves (if these are all fighting), but it will, in the long run, only fan the flames of the insurgency and give the Taliban the oxygen it needs to fight to the end. To make things even more complicated, not only would US forces have to fight against much higher numbers of Taliban, but now ISIL and Al-Qaeda are also there as well. Although ideologically array, these three groups will inevitably form an unwritten pact to pool their resources against American soldiers.

Expect US body bags, more US journalists using ‘graveyard of empire’ in their copy and endless references to Tom Hanks in the ‘Charlie Wilson’ Hollywood movie. It’s going to be a hot summer.

Martin Jay is an award winning British journalist now based in Beirut who works on a freelance basis for a number of respected British newspapers as well as previously Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle TV. Before Lebanon, he has worked in Africa and Europe for CNN, Euronews, CNBC, BBC, Sunday Times and Reuters. Follow him on Twitter @MartinRJay.

Featured image: Abdul Malik / Reuters

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US President Donald Trump has directly accused Iran in supporting terrorists and spreading instability in the Middle East during his speech at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Saudi Arabia.

But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.

From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.

It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime—launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.

Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region. The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.

Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve. 

Some people see a controversy in Trump’s claims.

Pics from a Saudi “counter-terrorism” center could be seen below. One of the center’s tasks is to combat the so-called online extremism. Considering that a big monitor behind Trump allows to see a video and a pic with Syrian government forces operating in the Palmyra countryside (most likely) and in a desert area east of Suweida, it’s easy to suggest what kind of “counter-terrorism” actions the Saudi center conducts.

Trump Accuses Iran In Supporting Terrorists And Spreading Instability During Speech In Saudi Arabia

Trump Accuses Iran In Supporting Terrorists And Spreading Instability During Speech In Saudi Arabia

Featured image: Jornal O Globo

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The chief Rebbe of Dnepropetrovsk and the Dnepropetrovsk region Shmuel Kamenetsky, one of the most influential religious figures in the post Soviet space, organizes the International Judaic University (IJU), at which the dogmas of “Habad-Lubavitch” will be taught. According to the Rebbe, 50,000-60,000 Jews live in Dnepropetrovsk, the number of worshipers of the main synagogue of Dnepropetrovsk – about 30,000. The Jewish diaspora of Dnepropetrovsk is the second in numbers in Ukraine, but the communitarian center “Menora” – with an area of nearly 122,000 sq.m – is the largest such construction in the post Soviet space in Europe, and possibly, in the world. (The Moscow Jewish communal center in Maryina Roshcha has an area of only 17,000 sq.m).

Dnepropetrovsk Jews are Hasidic. Hasidism, the doctrine of Ashkenazi Jews, was born on the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and extended together with Jews across all Russia. The word “Hasid” itself is close with the word “kind”. Hasidism – righteousness, the doctrine of piety. In Hasidism there are various directions, at the head of which stands Tzadik (teachers, righteous persons, saints). According to the doctrine of Hasidism, God is present everywhere, in each phenomenon and event. The task of the person is to merge with divine light. Hasidim consider joy as the greatest virtue, consider singing and dancing as a way to serve the supreme. It is exactly from here that Jewish music and dances originate. Hasidim consider it correct to comprehend God through emotions. Generally, the doctrine looks certainly positive, but don’t be in a hurry to get in line eager to get into the Kingdom of Heaven through this door. As is known, this road is opened only (with rare exception) for representatives of people chosen by God. I won’t go into details, as the danger of belief in your national exclusiveness is a subject for a whole book, or perhaps not just one.

I already wrote that the Hasidism consists of a number of branches – Karlin-Stolin, Bratslav, Satu Mare, and other Hasidim. In the basis of everyone there was a righteous person. The most powerful network on the distribution of their version of Judaism was created by Hasidim of Habad (Habad-Lyubavich). Their network totals about 3,000 Rebbes — “messengers of the Rebbe” worldwide. According to information from the media, the turnover of Habad reaches $1 billion a year. (For comparison – 10 years ago Deputy Mitrokhin estimated the income of the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole at approximately $500 million. The income of the Pope and all his administrative facilities (curia) – investment in shares, bonds and real estate, and also the means received as donations from devout Catholics in all corners of the world – is about $1 billion).

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Hasidic Community (Source: The Forward)

Its name, Habad, was taken from the little town Lyubavichi in the Smolensk region. The first Rebbe from Lyubavichi arrived to Lyubavichi two hundred years ago. Since then the rank of Lyubavichi’s Rebbe was passed on. Ponder – the position and status of one of the most influential people of the world is descended, like in a monarchy!

The ideological concept of Lyubavichi’s clan is set out in the book “Tanya” written by the founder of the movement Habad-Lyubavich Rebbe Schneour Zalman Schneersohn.

If you see a person in a long black coat or the same color frock coat, trousers from under which white socks are seen, in a black hat from under which long curls of hair protrude, then you have Hasid in front of you. On the footwear there shouldn’t be laces or buckles. Some people tuck their trousers into their socks, which symbolizes distance from terrestrial dirt. It is a lot of men with beards.

Of course, there is no need to observe all rules, for example, women in Habad have to shave their head and wear wigs. Fortunately, now there is not many who do it.

In total there were seven Lubavitcher Rebbe. The most dramatic destiny belonged to the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn. In the 30’s, despite the fact that traditional Judaism continued to exist on Soviet territory, it is said that, on Stalin’s personal order, the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe was nearly shot. However, thanks to the protection of the international organizations, in particular, the Red Cross, he was left alive, but deported to Poland. Thus, Habad was forbidden in the USSR as an ultra-orthodox sect. For the second time the clouds became dark over the Rebbe in 1939. This time the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe managed to survive thanks to the protection of the US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and the head of Abwehr the Admiral Canaris.

Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn without any obstacles crossed the territory of the Reich and moved to the United States. Since the 1940’s the headquarters of the movement Habad-Lyubavich is in New York, in Brooklyn. From 1950 to 1994 the organization was led by the Seventh, the last, Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson – Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn’s son-in-law, who took his surname and continued the dynasty of Lubavitcher Rebbe. During the governance of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Habad reached unprecedented political and financial power. For reference: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is a Habadnik. Trump’s daughter Ivanka passed through giyur (procedure by means of which the non-Jew can accept Judaism) and now follows the rules of Habad. It is precisely on this line that Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov, who are one of the main sponsors of the Dnepropetrovsk Habad, built a new relationship with the new American President.

Habad returned to the post-Soviet space after Perestroika, and cemented itself as the dominating structure of the Jewish world. The father of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe is from Dnepropetrovsk (Ekaterinoslav), even his house remains. Here he was arrested by Bolsheviks. Exactly here, in Dnepropetrovsk, he sent the then future Rebbe of Dnepropetrovsk Kamenetsky. And it is also because of this that Dnepropetrovsk became the Habad capital of Ukraine.

The Jewish world is a part of our big world. A very significant part. The processes happening in the Jewish world have a serious impact on culture, economy and politics, on the processes happening around the world. Jewish society is very non-uniform and conflictual. Conflicts are inherent in any human society, and its Jewish part is not an exception. Even in the doomed Warsaw ghetto there were two Jewish underground organizations clashing with each other. The relationship between the quickly growing Habat and the rest of the Jewish world are not at all simple. Their American Jewish relatives denied my Dnepropetrovsk acquaintances when they knew that they are Habadniks. It doesn’t belong to the topic of this article, but without an understanding of the deep internal processes happening in the Jewish world there will be no opportunity to understand many global political processes.

Ukrainian, and especially Dnepropetrovsk Jews, in their main mass adopted and supported Maidan. I don’t know what caused this. Maybe it’s because Habad and its Tzadiks at the time were forcibly obliged to leave Russia. Maybe it’s because the Dnepropetrovsk Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky is mentally American. When he arrived to Dnepropetrovsk, he wasn’t able to speak Russian. He couldn’t rent an apartment for a long time because, according to him, the employees of the KGB impeached him. According to him, the employees of the KGB didn’t allow him to communicate with the only Jew in Dnepropetrovsk who spoke Hebrew.

Or perhaps the reason is in something else. During Maidan one of my good acquaintances, a businessman and politician, a member of Habad, told me that I didn’t choose the good side. That, according to reliable information from the US, the Russians in Ukraine will lose. That, supposedly, hard times will come to Russia, and it isn’t clear if Russia will remain. He had no purpose to convert me. He simply advised me as it seemed to him what was better for me. You remember how in “Taras Bulba” Yankel was surprised that Bulba became angry at Andrey, who came over to the side of the Poles:

“And you didn’t kill him immediately there on the spot, the devil’s son?” exclaimed Bulba.

“For what to kill him? He went under his own will. What is he guilty of? There it is better for him, so he went there.”

I think that it seemed to my acquaintance in this situation that it was logical to side with the winner. For him it was organic as it was for me to organically take my position. Especially in such a situation and in light of such prospects for my Motherland, as my acquaintance described it myself.

It is interesting that the emergence of Habad is connected with the fact that in 1800, at the time when a part of the Jewish leaders supported Napoleon and France, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe (which then still didn’t live in Lyubavichi) supported Alexander I by word and actions. Under his call the Jew Hasidim participated in the Patriotic war of 1812 on the side of the Russian army as scouts. It is precisely because of his position at the time that his family and a part of his followers, fleeing from the coming Napoleon’s army, were compelled to leave Liadi and to move to Lyubavichi. The contribution of the Rebbe in Russian history was noticed and evaluated by the Tsar, who awarded the Rebbe with the title “Hereditary Honourable Citizen”, and then five generations of the head of Habad used this privilege. It is remarkable that after two hundred years of their history, in front of Hasidim appeared the same choice, like before the Jews in 1800, and it is a pity if Jews of the religious Habad in this world confrontation will make not the same choice that was adopted for himself and his followers – the founder of the movement Habad-Lyubavich, the honourable hereditary citizen of Russia Rebbe Shneur-Zalman Schneerson.

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Shmuel Kamenetsky (Source: theapricity.com)

Nevertheless, Shmuel Kamenetsky himself repeatedly publicly spoke about the fact that in Ukraine the Jewish world in its main mass supported nationalist Maidan. Moreover, he considers that Russian Jews are zombified by television and intimidated by the authorities. Many Dnepropetrovsk synagogue sponsors, such as Korban and Kolomoisky, created and supported nationalist battalions “Donbass”, “Azov”, “Dnipro-1”. Many of my Jew acquaintances after Maidan passed in everyday life from Russian to Ukrainian. The help of Jewish activists in supplying ATO fighters is unprecedented in volumes. It is amusing to see in the newsfeed on social networks a photo of my some acquaintances in which they alternate their clothes from lapserdak to vyshyvanka, depending on what holiday is on the street – Ukrainian or Jewish.

It is necessary to say that ideas of the Ukrainian nationalism are clear for habadniks, after all, it is they who most actively among all the Jewish world resist the process of assimilation of Jews and are fighters for the purity of blood. Rebbe Shmuel repeatedly stated that their main objective is the “preservation of Jewry and the fight against assimilation”.

It is obvious that such peace and friendship can continue only until the Ukrainian power is able to keep Ukrainian nationalism from aggression in relation to Jews. From communicating with fellow countrymen from Dnepropetrovsk it is seen that the Jewish community is now alarmed. Many are afraid that the activity of the Ukrainian authorities, in which there are so many Jewish people, can strengthen the already-present everyday anti-Semitism. They are afraid of the fact that the impoverishment of the population against the background of the growth in quantity of armed Ukrainian Nazi can lead to pogroms. They are afraid, and seriously, that the anti-terrorist training that in large quantities is carried out now in universities and high schools and the hysteria that now is fomented concerning possible terrorist attacks aren’t accidental. That the power, for the consolidation of the people, will organize acts of terrorism itself, as a result of which children will suffer. Let’s agree that it looks strange that the authorities for nearly three years every week state the alleged detention of tens of Russian terrorists and about alleged hundreds of prevented acts of terrorism against the background of the fact that no act of terrorism was carried out.

As a result many Jews start taking their families out from Ukraine. A symptom of such fears became the increase of security measures in synagogues and bodyguard allocation to Kamenetsky, according to the decision of leaders of the community. Such precautionary measures are introduced for the first time in 18 years of work of the Rebbe Shmuel Kamenetsky in Dnepropetrovsk.

Recently in Jerusalem 64-year-old high-ranking Rabbi Menachem Mendel Deitsch died. Consequences of injuries that he received as a result of an attack in Zhytomyr became the reason of his death. Boris Steklyar – a 94-year-old Jewish veteran of the Soviet Army, is on trial in Ukraine, who fought against Nazism without knowing that not much historical time will pass and the grenade that he threw in 1952 into a cache with nazi-Banderists will be recognized as a war crime.

Coming back to the beginning of the article. The organising in Dnepropetrovsk of the International Judaic University will lead to the fact that all the world Habad’s Rebbenate will receive a start in life from Dnepropetrovsk. And the financing of the University not only come from Dnepropetrovsk – patrons appeared in the US, Israel, Canada. Many already anyway said that Dnepropetrovsk is the new Hasidic capital of the world, but the opening of the university constitutes what was earlier simply spoken about. In fact, after that Shmuel Kamenetsky can safely apply for the status of the eighth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Shmuel Kamenetsky can become one of the most influential people in the World. But it will happen only in case the stake that was placed on Ukrainian nationalism at the time is correct – if the nationalism that transformed into Nazism will not devour those who were so welcoming to it at the time and helped its establishment.

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard.

Featured image: UkraineTrek.com

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