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American Resistance To Empire

Another Death By Drone Near Wana, Another Haqqani Passes

Top commander of fearful Haqqani network killed in US drone strike

Russia-Today
A Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (AFP Photo/DOD)

A Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (AFP Photo/DOD)

A US drone strike in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan on Thursday killed at least seven militants, including Abdullah Haqqani, a top commander for the Haqqani Network, an Islamist insurgent group allied with the Afghan Taliban.

The strike occurred early Thursday about 18 miles (30 km) west of Wana, near the Afghan border, according to AFP.

Both Pakistan officials and a militant source confirmed that four foreign fighters and a top commander believed to be Abdullah Haqqani perished in the attack.

“At least seven militants were killed in the drone strike,” including a top Haqqani leader and four foreigners, an intelligence official in Wana told AFP.

Haqqani is known to have coordinated and sent suicide bombers to Afghanistan, the official added.

Another official in the nearby town of Bannu confirmed the number of fatalities and the commander’s death.

A militant source told AFP a vehicle full of arms and ammunition was also destroyed by the drone missile.

The Haqqani Network has been a consistent thorn in the side of NATO forces during the Afghan War, sending fighters over the border from their base in the Waziristan tribal areas of Pakistan. The group has also allied with Al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and other militant groups against NATO.

Former Taliban fighters stand with their weapons during a reconciliation process in Herat province (AFP Photo)

Former Taliban fighters stand with their weapons during a reconciliation process in Herat province (AFP Photo)

Top members of the Haqqani Network, a subgroup of the Afghan Taliban, have been targeted for death by the United States’ unmanned drone regime. The group’s former third-in-command Badruddin Haqqani – son of Haqqani Network founder and former mujahideen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, and brother of the Network’s operational leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani – was confirmed by the Taliban one year ago to have perished in a US drone strike in the summer of 2012.

The US has also successfully targeted top members of the Pakistani Taliban, including Hakimullah Mehsud.

Like Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network was borne out of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Both groups, among others, can credit US investment in militant fighters opposed to Soviet forces as a springboard for their rise ever since. The group has consistently targeted Western forces in the region during the US occupation of Afghanistan following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Haqqani Network was responsible for capturing American Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2009. Bergdahl was released earlier this year in exchange for 18 US-held Taliban fighters.

The United States has operated clandestine, CIA-run unmanned drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. The US justifies this violation of Pakistani sovereignty with the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a law the US Congress signed days after the 9/11 strikes that granted the US President the right to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those behind the attacks on America. In May 2013, nearly 12 years after the law’s signing, US President Obama – in promising reforms to the drone program that are difficult to verify based on the government’s secrecy – clarified who falls into that category as “Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its associated forces.”

Soviet soldiers stand in front of their tanks as they take one final look at local scenery, according to Soviet news agency Tass who released this picture October 15, 1986. Six Soviet regiments are said to be returning from Afghanistan to their permanent bases in the Soviet Union. (Reuters/TASS)

Soviet soldiers stand in front of their tanks as they take one final look at local scenery, according to Soviet news agency Tass who released this picture October 15, 1986. Six Soviet regiments are said to be returning from Afghanistan to their permanent bases in the Soviet Union. (Reuters/TASS)

Pakistan has denounced US drone activity, claiming it is illegal and counterproductive. Yet many believe the two nations collude in their mutual desire to eradicate Islamist militants from the semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border.

In June, Islamabad launched its own offensive in North Waziristan, site of many US drone strikes. The Pakistani military claims to have killed more than 1,100 extremist fighters since its assault began, with 100 of their own soldiers dying along the way, according to AFP. The offensive began after peace talks between the government and the Pakistani Taliban fell through.

This still image provided on December 7, 2010 by IntelCenter shows the Taliban associated video production group Manba al-Jihad December 7, 2010 release of someone that appears to be US soldier Bowe Bergdahl (L), who has been held hostage by the Taliban since his disappearance from his unit on June 30, 2009. (AFP/IntelCenter)

This still image provided on December 7, 2010 by IntelCenter shows the Taliban associated video production group Manba al-Jihad December 7, 2010 release of someone that appears to be US soldier Bowe Bergdahl (L), who has been held hostage by the Taliban since his disappearance from his unit on June 30, 2009. (AFP/IntelCenter)

Observers cite a pause in US drone strikes during those government-Taliban negotiations as proof of the collaboration between Washington and Islamabad, though Pakistan government and military officials deny these allegations.

US drone strikes have killed as many as 3,858 people, including as many as 957 civilians, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which conducts the most comprehensive accounting of drone activity in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

US officials avoid acknowledging CIA drone strikes, instead preferring to assure that any strikes are used against top Islamist militants when capture is not available. The New York Times reported in May 2012 that those targeted for strikes – Obama’s “kill list” – are cleared through the White House during weekly meetings dubbed “Terror Tuesdays.”

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo)

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo)

At the time, all military-age males were considered ‘militants’ to the US, thus eligible for a drone missile. The strikes have been divided into those in which intelligence guides who is killed by drone and those in which the eventual target is only suspected of wrongdoing based on his movements, associations, and the like. The latter brand of targeting is known as a ‘signature strike.’

Despite US claims that it just hits “confirmed terrorist targets” with drone missiles, only 84 of the at least 2,300-plus victims have been named Al-Qaeda members, a recent Bureau report revealed.

Russia, Ukraine and EU Sign Gas Supply Contract–Nobody Freezes In Europe

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak shakes hands with Ukraine's Energy Minister Yuri Prodan (R) after gas talks between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels October 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak shakes hands with Ukraine’s Energy Minister Yuri Prodan (R) after gas talks between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels October 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Ukraine, Russia, EU agree to natural gas supply deal

Reuters

BRUSSELS

(Reuters) – Ukraine, Russia and the European Union signed a deal on Thursday on the resumption of Russian natural gas supplies to Ukraine for winter after several months of delay during the conflict in Ukraine.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who witnessed the three-way signing ceremony in Brussels as he prepares to leave office on Friday, said: “There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter.”

Talks had been broken off in the early hours as Moscow sought more guarantees from the EU that it would help Ukraine pay for its natural gas. They resumed on Thursday evening.

EU officials said both Russia and Ukraine had bargained hard for commitments from the Western bloc, with Moscow looking for EU cash to help Ukraine pay off debts to Gazprom and the Kiev authorities anxious to get a deal that they could present to domestic voters as not overpaying for vital Russian supplies.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said in Kiev that the EU had agreed to serve as guarantor for Kiev in holding Russia to an agreement, notably on the price Ukraine would pay.

Yatseniuk, in figures later confirmed by Moscow, said Ukraine would pay $378 per 1,000 cubic meters to the end of 2014 and $365 in the first quarter of 2015. He said Kiev was ready to pay off debts for gas immediately after any deal was signed.

A total of $1.45 billion would be paid immediately and a further $1.65 billion paid by the end of the year, he said.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak insisted that Ukraine would still have to pay up front for new deliveries to see its 45 million people through winter. Moscow expects some $1.6 billion for gas to be supplied.

Some critics of Russia question whether its motivation is financial or whether prolonging the wrangling with ex-Soviet Ukraine and its Western allies suits Moscow’s diplomatic agenda.

Ukraine is in discussions with existing creditors the EU and the IMF.

The gas cut-off has had little impact for months. But pressure is mounting for a deal as temperatures start to drop below freezing.

European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who has been mediating, also leaves office on Friday, making way for a new European Commission.

“We can say to the citizens of Europe that we can guarantee security of supply over the winter,” he said of what he called the $4.6-billion deal to supply Russian natural gas to Ukraine.

EU member states west of Ukraine would also, he said, have stable supplies, passing through Ukrainian pipelines, while Russia would gain the benefit of payment for its energy.

The two sides came close to an agreement in September, but last week differences were wide.

Weekend elections returned a pro-Western parliament in Kiev, potentially stoking tensions with Moscow, although Russia’s EU envoy, Vladimir Chizhov, said on Thursday the mood could be more relaxed now the vote had taken place.

Ukraine’s Naftogaz company has set aside $3.1 billion in a special escrow account to pay the debt.

Kiev says it is working to raise more money from all possible sources of financing, including the EU. The Commission is considering Ukraine’s request, made last week, for a further loan of 2 billion euros.

Russia provides around a third of the European Union’s natural gas, roughly half of which is pumped via Ukraine.

Ukraine in turn relies on Russia for around 50 percent of its own natural gas and despite storage has a winter shortfall of around 3 billion to 4 billion cubic meters, depending on the weather.

For Russia, the natural gas sector contributes approximately a fifth of the national budget.

Sanctions on Russia, which EU officials decided to leave unchanged on Tuesday while the conflict in Ukraine continues, are sapping an already weak economy.

(Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova, Lidia Kelly and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow and Tom Koerkemeier, Phil Blenkinsop, and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels)

 

 

Russia, Ukraine, and the European Commission have signed an agreement on gas supply and transit conditions until March 2015 during talks in Brussels.

The agreement was signed by Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yury Prodan, and vice president of the EC in charge of energy, Guenther Oettinger. The signing was witnessed by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the EC’s new vice president in charge of energy, Marosh Shefchovich.

Ukraine will be able to receive the needed volumes of Russian gas until the end of March based on a pre-payment plan at a price of $385 per 1,000 cubic meters, Oettinger said during the press conference.

Speaking at a briefing after the signing of the deal, Oettinger assured that Ukraine said it is ready to pay $1.451 billion of its gas debt to Russia “immediately.”

According to Oettinger, Kiev will be able to pay back $3.1 billion of its gas debts before the end of the year. However, he added that the final figure will depend on the decision of the international Stockholm court of arbitration on the gas debt dispute.

Ukraine will get the money it is lacking with the help of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union, the EC official announced. Oettinger expects that the promised financial assistance from the IMF and the EU will be used by Kiev to pay for Russian gas.

“The advantage for Ukraine is that it confirms the role of a reliable partner in the center of Europe and IMF and EU’s programs of assistance would be used correctly to pay its gas debts,” Oettinger stressed.

Russian Energy Ministry confirmed the agreement on necessary documents for the winter package of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Energy Minister Yury Prodan also stated that the gas agreement on supplies of gas to Ukraine between Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission has been reached.

Thursday’s meeting in Brussels was another attempt to settle the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The parties have been struggling to agree on the final gas price and the payment schedule.

While Novak said on Thursday that key parameters of the gas deal, including a $385 price, had been agreed, it remained unclear where Ukraine was going to get money.

READ MORE: Basic parameters of gas deal agreed – Energy Minister

On Thursday, Gazprom left Brussels insisting Ukraine and the EU must first agree on the financial points between themselves.

Earlier, Russia rejected all payment schemes proposed by the EU, saying all of them were a hidden form of another gas loan to Ukraine.

Having smooth gas supplies from Russia is crucial for both Ukraine and the EU.

Kiev needs around 4 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to survive the coming winter, and over 15 percent of Russian gas to Europe travels via Ukraine.

Before Ukraine can begin receiving Russian gas again, it must first pay off its $1.45 billion debt in the coming days, and another $1.65 billion in an advance payment by the end of the year, making it a total of $3.1 billion.

Abdel Hakim Belhadj wins right to sue British government in open court

2013_10_23_PUB_Belhaj_Preliminary_Issues_Skeleton_FINAL

Claim No. HQ12X02603

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
MR JUSTICE SIMON
ABDUL-HAKIM BELHAJ
(2) FATIMA BOUDCHAR
– vs-  RT HON JACK STRAW MP

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Profile: Libyan rebel commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj

Libyan torture victim wins right to sue British government in open court

Russia-Today

Libya's Islamist military chief Abdel Hakim Belhadj. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal) Libya’s Islamist military chief Abdel Hakim Belhadj. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

 

A Libyan exile, who was allegedly tortured with the complicity of the British intelligence services, has won the right to have his case heard in open court, despite government attempts to prevent the case being heard in public.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj, and his wife Fatima Bouchar, accuse the British government of allowing the regime of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi to torture them in 2004, with MI6 and former Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw complicit in US-led rendition programs.

According to anti-torture charity Reprieve, who are assisting Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar in their legal challenge, Belhaj was tortured both in Libya and a CIA ‘blacksite’ in Bangkok. Al-Saadi was forced to board a plane in Hong Kong with his wife and four children before facing torture in Libya.

The allegations came to light during the 2011 uprising, in which both men fought with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, when documents relating to their transfer were uncovered.

The judgment, made by the Court of Appeal on Thursday, said the case was too “grave” to be heard in secret.

“The stark reality is that unless the English courts are able to exercise jurisdiction in this case, these very grave allegations against the executive will never be subjected to judicial investigation,” the statement said.

The judgment represents a major blow to the British government, which has previously denied or downplayed their involvement in joint rendition programs with the US.

The Foreign Office has told the BBC it was “considering” whether to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court, but is yet to take any formal action.

Belhaj, who is currently the leader of the Conservative Islamist al-Watan party in Libya, said he and his wife were “gratified” by the judges’ decision. Their torture was “as fresh and as painful for us as if it happened yesterday,” they added.

READ MORE: Tortured Libyans allege UK spied on legal talks

The statement follows demands from Belhaj’s legal representatives calling on the government to publish secret policies detailing when the communications of lawyers and journalists may have been intercepted.

Responding to the judgment, director of Reprieve Cori Crider said the UK had avoided hearing Belhaj’s case for too long, for fear of angering the US.

“The court [judgment] was right: embarrassment is no reason to throw torture victims out of court. The government’s dubious and wasteful delay tactics in this case need to end. Enough is enough,” she said.

UK ministers have been under significant pressure to unveil the true extent of government involvement in rendition and torture programs, particularly the use of Diego Garcia, a UK ‘black site’ with no formal jurisdiction, that campaigners say was used to transfer victims to be tortured overseas.

Repeating our Middle East mistakes, Hoping That Next Time They Will Work

Repeating our Middle East mistakes

baltimore sun

 

President Barack Obama’s latest foray into the Middle East is unfortunately reactive and uninformed and shows how very little he seems to take into account our bloody history in the region.

It’s as if the past quarter century never happened.

Where do we begin? After practically pushing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait in 1990 (by having Kuwait demand quick payment on Billions of dollars of previous loans to Iraq and having our Ambassador in Baghdad tell Hussein that the U.S. has no treaty obligations to defend Kuwait), American air strikes killed tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers in the first Persian Gulf War. This was followed by nearly 10 years of crippling economic sanctions against Iraq, resulting in the death of a half million Iraqi children for lack of medicine, sanitation and malnutrition.

All of this culminated a dozen years and two presidents later when, despite no connection to 9/11 or al-Qaida, the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, resulting in as many as 148,000 civilian deaths according to Iraq Body Count, economic collapse, a mass migration of doctors and scientists out of the country, massive pollution and a rollback of basic human rights. For years, Washington supported prime minister Nouri al Maliki, who is now blamed for setting the country on the path of sectarian violence, bolstering extremism and supporting the brutal crackdown by Bashar Assad on his own opposition in Syria.

Later in 2011, as the Muslim world reached a fever pitch of turmoil, the Arab Spring began in Tunisia and quickly spread to Egypt. Uprisings occurred in Syria and Libya, all against corrupt dictators and monarchs whom the U.S. had been propping up for years. Attempts to demonstrate for freedom in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia — all “allies” of America — were systematically snuffed out with brutal force. The West, under the leadership of the U.S., did nothing.

Meanwhile, when Europeans and the U.S. saw western oil interests in peril, they decided madman Muammar Gadhafi must go. Together they bombed Libya, hastened a civil war, and helped corner and kill Gadhafi in 2011. The oil may be secured for now, but the rest of the country is a no man’s land, virtually lawless and a breeding ground for extremists.

This takes us back to the beginning: Extremists born out of U.S. wars, interventions and support for tyranny in the region have created al-Qaida copycats, specifically the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL). As a result, after overlooking the Syrian plight for two years, Mr. Obama has initiated bombing campaigns in both Iraq and Syria, ostensibly to snuff out ISIL (also known as Islamic State or ISIS). It is a barbaric, inhumane organization. But we should ask the question: Why do so many Arabs, Muslims and foreign-born volunteers take so much risk to join such a nihilistic organization? Because many in the Middle East and around the world think ISIL is preferable to the corrupt regimes we support and are tired of interventions that have only protected authoritarians at the expense of the powerless.

And so it goes, a cyclical call to arms to which Mr. Obama seems alarmingly inured. The pro-war machinery here in the U.S. uses demagoguery, falsehoods and repulsive videos to terrify the U.S. population into supporting war in Middle East and likely soon, “boots on the ground” in Iraq. All of the same red meat — think WMD’s and “mushroom clouds” — used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The worst of it is, this current policy — if one could call it that — flies in the face of Mr. Obama’s early pronouncements of democracy building and tolerance, including his speech to the Muslim world from Cairo in 2009. Aside from attempting to free Iraqis and Kurds from the murderous hand of ISIL fighters, Mr. Obama seems to have abandoned the people of Middle East. Now they distrust American intentions more than ever, not because of some conspiratorial hypothesis but because of past deeds.

Mr. Obama is stumbling down a dead-end road littered with signs of history he seems hell-bent on ignoring. And it is to all of our peril, because this trajectory will increase hatred for us with a zealot’s passion.

Adil E. Shamoo is an associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, a senior analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus, and the author of “Equal Worth — When Humanity Will Have Peace.” His website is http://www.forwarorpeace.com.

Dutch Government Requests MH-17 Satellite Data from Russia and US

Netherlands calls on US and Russian data from their radars on MH17

el pais

Hague calls about 10 minutes before and after the fall of the flight

Several people at the scene of the MH17 in Ukraine in July. / D. faget (afp)

The Dutch government has officially assumed the tragedy of flight MH17 from Malaysian Airlines was not an accident, but a terrorist attack , and has requested assistance from the United States and Russia to try. Washington claims data collected by its satellites. Specifically, ten minutes before and after the downing of the plane on Ukraine, which killed 298 people, 196 of Dutch nationality . The Attorney General’s Office plans to do the same with Moscow, but with the information captured by their radars. The first installment could prove whether the aircraft was shot down by surface to air missile fired by pro-Russian rebels. Is the American thesis. The other would clarify whether, as Russia maintains, could have her guilt of Ukrainian fighter aircraft. The problem is that the Netherlands has not yet received a response from their partners, and the wait can be long.

This is just the government itself admitted in a letter sent to Parliament where he states that “from a legal point of view,” it is very complex to reveal US intelligence information. “ “However, prosecutors are seeking to find the relevant material necessary.” The Hague depends more than ever on the US and Russian cooperation because eastern Ukraine, in particular the province of Donetsk, which fell MH17, remains the scene of fighting between pro-Russian and Ukrainian troops.

So far, the only official report on the incident is provisional and signed by the Dutch Safety Board. According to experts, “there was no technical failure and the ship exploded in the air, probably due to the impact of various external objects with high energy that passed through the fuselage.” Given the magnitude of what happened and the national trauma suffered by Holland , families kept a respectful silence to not hinder the work of forensic (already identified 284 bodies). In early October, however, a sentence of the previous Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans (now vice president of the European Commission) , caused a scandal. He said one of the passengers was wearing an oxygen mask on when they took his body . Since the initial report claimed that “had no time to do anything” before he died, relatives were horrified. Since then, the national government demanding faster and results in research. An attitude reinforced by the statements of the German intelligence services have concluded that “the attack was perpetrated by rebel allies of Russia.” In the same parliamentary note, the Government of The Hague that its preference “draw their own conclusions.”

UK-Qatar Partnership To Revive Links with Muslim Brotherhood?

[SEE: Must we dance to Saudi tune over Muslim Brotherhood?  ; Qatar retreat from the expulsion of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood]

Qatar, UK sign partnership pact

gulf times

Qatar, UK sign partnership pact

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth meets HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani at Buckingham Palace in London yesterday. RIGHT: British Prime Minister David Cameron receiving HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at 10 Downing  Street yesterday.

 QNA/London

 

Qatar and UK signed a memorandum of understanding for establishing a new political framework following HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s meetings with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the country’s Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and HE the Foreign Minister Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah signed the new political framework – the UK-Qatar Sharaka (partnership in Arabic) – aimed at strengthening bilateral relations.

Hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, the meeting was part of the Guest of Government visit of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to the UK.

In a press statement, the British embassy in Doha said the UK-Qatar Sharaka creates a new forum to discuss important issues and will help strengthen the ties between the two countries across defence and security; culture and sport; education and research; foreign policy; trade and investment; health and energy.

“The UK values its close relationship with Qatar and is keen to further improve the existing strong links between both countries,” said British ambassador Nicholas Hopton.

He noted that the Sharaka will create a formal commitment to strengthen UK-Qatar relations across the board through a bilateral dialogue between the two governments.

The group will meet every six months under the leadership of Tobias Ellwood, Minister for the Middle East and South Asia, and Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In his talks with the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Emir discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations at all levels.

The official talks, which were held at the Prime Minister’s Office ‘No. 10 Downing  Street’ in London, also dealt with several current international and regional issues, especially the situation in the Middle East region.

The talks were attended by the members of the official delegation accompanying the Emir and several British ministers.

Also on the occasion, Qatar’s ambassador to the United Kingdom Yousuf bin Ali al-Khater handed over a letter to Nick Perry, Adviser to British Prime Minister, concerning a grant from Qatar to support the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust.

In his talks with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, the Emir discussed relations of friendship and co-operation between Qatar and the UK and means of enhancing them besides a number of topics of mutual concern.

Later the Emir attended a luncheon banquet hosted by Prime Minister Cameron at 10 Downing Street.

Members of the British cabinet also attended the banquet.

 

The Myth Of The Free Press–the Danger of Reporting the Truth About the Powerful

The Myth Of The Free Press

zero hedge

Authored by Chris Hedges, originally posted at TruthDig blog,

There is more truth about American journalism in the film “Kill the Messenger,” which chronicles the mainstream media’s discrediting of the work of the investigative journalist Gary Webb, than there is in the movie “All the President’s Men,” which celebrates the exploits of the reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal.

The mass media blindly support the ideology of corporate capitalism. They laud and promote the myth of American democracy – even as we are stripped of civil liberties and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of patriotism. They select the specialists and experts, almost always drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain policy. They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations, for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia. The role of the mass media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses. The corporations, which own the press, hire journalists willing to be courtiers to the elites, and they promote them as celebrities. These journalistic courtiers, who can earn millions of dollars, are invited into the inner circles of power. They are, as John Ralston Saul writes, hedonists of power.

When Webb, writing in a 1996 series in the San Jose Mercury News, exposed the Central Intelligence Agency’s complicity in smuggling tons of cocaine for sale into the United States to fund the CIA-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua, the press turned him into a journalistic leper. And over the generations there is a long list of journalistic lepers, from Ida B. Wells to I.F. Stone to Julian Assange.

The attacks against Webb have been renewed in publications such as The Washington Post since the release of the film earlier this month. These attacks are an act of self-justification. They are an attempt by the mass media to mask the collaboration between themselves and the power elite. The mass media, like the rest of the liberal establishment, seek to wrap themselves in the moral veneer of the fearless pursuit of truth and justice. But to maintain this myth they have to destroy the credibility of journalists such as Webb and Assange who shine a light on the sinister and murderous inner workings of empire, who care more about truth than news.

The country’s major news outlets—including my old employer The New York Times, which wrote that there was “scant proof” of Webb’s contention—functioned as guard dogs for the CIA. Soon after the 1996 exposé appeared, The Washington Post devoted nearly two full pages to attacking Webb’s assertions. The Los Angeles Times ran three separate articles that slammed Webb and his story. It was a seedy, disgusting and shameful chapter in American journalism. But it was hardly unique. Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, in the 2004 article “How the Press and the CIA Killed Gary Webb’s Career,” detailed the dynamics of the nationwide smear campaign.

Webb’s newspaper, after printing a mea culpa about the series, cast him out. He was unable to work again as an investigative journalist and, fearful of losing his house, he committed suicide in 2004. We know, in part because of a Senate investigation led by then-Sen. John Kerry, that Webb was right. But truth was never the issue for those who opposed the journalist. Webb exposed the CIA as a bunch of gunrunning, drug-smuggling thugs. He exposed the mass media, which depend on official sources for most of their news and are therefore hostage to those sources, as craven handmaidens of power. He had crossed the line. And he paid for it.

If the CIA was funneling hundreds of millions of dollars in drugs into inner-city neighborhoods to fund an illegal war in Nicaragua, what did that say about the legitimacy of the vast covert organization? What did it tell us about the so-called war on drugs? What did it tell us about the government’s callousness and indifference to the poor, especially poor people of color at the height of the crack epidemic? What did it say about rogue military operations carried out beyond public scrutiny?

These were questions the power elites, and their courtiers in the press, were determined to silence.

The mass media are plagued by the same mediocrity, corporatism and careerism as the academy, labor unions, the arts, the Democratic Party and religious institutions. They cling to the self-serving mantra of impartiality and objectivity to justify their subservience to power. The press writes and speaks—unlike academics that chatter among themselves in arcane jargon like medieval theologians—to be heard and understood by the public. And for this reason the press is more powerful and more closely controlled by the state. It plays an essential role in the dissemination of official propaganda. But to effectively disseminate state propaganda the press must maintain the fiction of independence and integrity. It must hide its true intentions.

The mass media, as C. Wright Mills pointed out, are essential tools for conformity. They impart to readers and viewers their sense of themselves. They tell them who they are. They tell them what their aspirations should be. They promise to help them achieve these aspirations. They offer a variety of techniques, advice and schemes that promise personal and professional success. The mass media, as Wright wrote, exist primarily to help citizens feel they are successful and that they have met their aspirations even if they have not. They use language and images to manipulate and form opinions, not to foster genuine democratic debate and conversation or to open up public space for free political action and public deliberation. We are transformed into passive spectators of power by the mass media, which decide for us what is true and what is untrue, what is legitimate and what is not. Truth is not something we discover. It is decreed by the organs of mass communication.

“The divorce of truth from discourse and action—the instrumentalization of communication—has not merely increased the incidence of propaganda; it has disrupted the very notion of truth, and therefore the sense by which we take our bearings in the world is destroyed,” James W. Carey wrote in “Communication as Culture.”

Bridging the vast gap between the idealized identities—ones that in a commodity culture revolve around the acquisition of status, money, fame and power, or at least the illusion of it—and actual identities is the primary function of the mass media. And catering to these idealized identities, largely implanted by advertisers and the corporate culture, can be very profitable. We are given not what we need but what we want. The mass media allow us to escape into the enticing world of entertainment and spectacle. News is filtered into the mix, but it is not the primary concern of the mass media. No more than 15 percent of the space in any newspaper is devoted to news; the rest is devoted to a futile quest for self-actualization. The ratio is even more lopsided on the airwaves.

“This,” Mills wrote, “is probably the basic psychological formula of the mass media today. But, as a formula, it is not attuned to the development of the human being. It is a formula of a pseudo-world which the media invent and sustain.”

At the core of this pseudo-world is the myth that our national institutions, including those of government, the military and finance, are efficient and virtuous, that we can trust them and that their intentions are good. These institutions can be criticized for excesses and abuses, but they cannot be assailed as being hostile to democracy and the common good. They cannot be exposed as criminal enterprises, at least if one hopes to retain a voice in the mass media.

Those who work in the mass media, as I did for two decades, are acutely aware of the collaboration with power and the cynical manipulation of the public by the power elites. It does not mean there is never good journalism and that the subservience to corporate power within the academy always precludes good scholarship, but the internal pressures, hidden from public view, make great journalism and great scholarship very, very difficult. Such work, especially if it is sustained, is usually a career killer. Scholars like Norman Finkelstein and journalists like Webb and Assange who step outside the acceptable parameters of debate and challenge the mythic narrative of power, who question the motives and virtues of established institutions and who name the crimes of empire are always cast out.

The press will attack groups within the power elite only when one faction within the circle of power goes to war with another. When Richard Nixon, who had used illegal and clandestine methods to harass and shut down the underground press as well as persecute anti-war activists and radical black dissidents, went after the Democratic Party he became fair game for the press. His sin was not the abuse of power. He had abused power for a long time against people and groups that did not matter in the eyes of the Establishment. Nixon’s sin was to abuse power against a faction within the power elite itself.

The Watergate scandal, mythologized as evidence of a fearless and independent press, is illustrative of how circumscribed the mass media is when it comes to investigating centers of power.

“History has been kind enough to contrive for us a ‘controlled experiment’ to determine just what was at stake during the Watergate period, when the confrontational stance of the media reached its peak. The answer is clear and precise: powerful groups are capable of defending themselves, not surprisingly; and by media standards, it is a scandal when their position and rights are threatened,” Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky wrote in “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.” “By contrast, as long as illegalities and violations of democratic substance are confined to marginal groups or dissident victims of U.S. military attack, or result in a diffused cost imposed on the general population, media opposition is muted and absent altogether. This is why Nixon could go so far, lulled into a false sense of security precisely because the watchdog only barked when he began to threaten the privileged.”

The righteous thunder of the abolitionists and civil rights preachers, the investigative journalists who enraged Standard Oil and the owners of the Chicago stockyards, the radical theater productions, such as “The Cradle Will Rock,” that imploded the myths peddled by the ruling class and gave a voice to ordinary people, the labor unions that permitted African-Americans, immigrants and working men and women to find dignity and hope, the great public universities that offered the children of immigrants a chance for a first-class education, the New Deal Democrats who understood that a democracy is not safe if it does not give its citizens an acceptable standard of living and protect the state from being hijacked by private power, are no longer part of the American landscape. It was Webb’s misfortune to work in an era when the freedom of the press was as empty a cliché as democracy itself.

Saudi Embassy Cars Burned With Molotov Cocktails In Egypt

Masked men burn 2 Saudi Arabia consulate cars in Egypt -sources

Reuters

Oct 24 (Reuters) – Masked men set fire to two cars belonging to the consulate of Saudi Arabia in the Egyptian city of Suez on Friday morning, local security sources and the state news agency reported.

Security sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters that at least four men threw crude fire bombs also known as Molotov cocktails at the cars, which were parked. State news agency MENA said the cars were parked in a lot in Suez’s Arbaeen district.

Saudi Arabia has been a strong backer of Egypt since then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last year, and the attack appeared to be the first on Saudi property or personnel in Egypt since then.

Major General Tareq al-Gazar, director of security in the city, said authorities were working to identify the perpetrators of the attack.

The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Cairo declined to comment on the incident.

Tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters are in jail as part of a security crackdown against the group on the Brotherhood since Mursi’s ouster.

The Muslim Brotherhood says it is a peaceful movement but authorities accuse its members of being involved in a Sinai Peninsula-based Islamist insurgency that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in the 15 months since Mursi’s overthrow.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab allies United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have given Egypt billions in cash and petroleum products since Mursi’s ouster. (Reporting By Omar Fahmy in Cairo and Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

 

Pentagon Pissed That Lebanon Resisting ISIS Coalition Orders

High-Ranking U.S. Military Official in Short Visit to Lebanon

naharnet

W460

Lieutenant General Raymond Thomas III, a senior official in the United States Army, arrived in Lebanon for a brief visit, An Nahar newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Thomas, the commander of Joint Special Operations Command, arrived in Lebanon at the head of a military delegation.

The purpose behind the visit is still unknown.

An Nahar newspaper reported that Thomas held talks with Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji.

Last week, media reports said that Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is expected to arrive in Lebanon during the upcoming days.

Earlier this month, Qahwaji attended a meeting for military leaders from more than 20 partner nations in the coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

However, a sharp debate emerged locally on whether Lebanon should enter the coalition and if its territories would be used to launch attacks on jihadists in neighboring country Syria.

John Allen, a retired four-star general and U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting Islamic State group, was expected to include Lebanon on his tour to the region.

Allen kicked off a visit to the Gulf countries on Monday.

Saudi Amb. Warns Lebanese Against Following Independent Policies

[After Nasrullah’s televised statement, that “Saudi Arabia bares the prime responsibility in the Islamic world for stopping the proliferation of this ideology,” the Saudis must have realized just how badly they were doing in Lebanon (see comments below).  Obama has promised to open American arsenals to the Lebanese Army and the Saudi king has promised to match his generosity with a shopping trip to France, but nothing more than a token US delivery of weapons has come through.  Into the resultant void, Iran comes forth with a promise of immediate delivery of all the weapons the Army requires, setting-off a firestorm of self-doubt from Washington to Riyadh.  This is the real reason behind the Saudi Ambassador’s warning…Lebanon cannot be allowed to make its own choices. 

Washington and Riyadh will have to start treating the rambunctious Lebanese govt. as adults…and equals, even if they freely choose to reject Iran, in favor of the Saudi/Sunni dictatorship.]

Saudi Ambassador Warns of Rift between Lebanon, Regional Countries–(+comments)

naharnet

W460

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri slammed on Wednesday statements that would cause contention with regional countries, calling on Lebanese politicians to avoid stances that harm the national interests.

“We urge all sides to be reasonable and avert rifts with nearby countries,” Asiri told reporters after talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail.

Asiri’s statement comes in light of remarks by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah that Saudi Arabia must shoulder a bigger responsibility in the fight against the extremist ideology of the Islamic State group.

“Saudi Arabia bares the prime responsibility in the Islamic world for stopping the proliferation of this ideology,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

The Saudi Ambassador said that “Lebanon deserves sacrifices by all its people. Efforts should be exerted to maintain stability and support the army.”

He considered the Lebanese army as a “source of comfort and stability to the people,” hailing politicians who voiced support to the military institution.

Asiri later met with Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel.

The Lebanese army has been cracking down on fugitives across Lebanon. The battle between the Lebanese army and extremists was widely expected after members of the Islamic State group and al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, launched several attacks over the past weeks in areas on the border with Syria.

In June, the IS declared an “Islamic caliphate” straddling vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, ordering Muslims worldwide to pledge allegiance to their chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The U.S. has formed a coalition of Western and Arab allies to battle IS, which has been accused of widespread atrocities in Iraq and Syria, including mass executions, beheadings, rape, torture and selling women and children into slavery.

Later on Wednesday, Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) reported that Asiri delivered a letter to Salam expressing his country’s desire to grant the state 15 million dollars to rebuild the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, which was leveled in 2007.

Around 31,000 refugees were left homeless by the Nahr al-Bared clashes, which also killed 400 people, including 168 soldiers.

In the aftermath of the battles between the Lebanese army and al-Qaida-inspired group Fatah al-Islam militants in 2007, donors pledged during a conference in Vienna 345 million dollars.

But until now, only 188 million dollars have been donated, Salam said in August, urging Arab and mainly Gulf countries to fund the project.

H.K.

M.T.

Comments 22
Thumb terrorist 5 hours ago

Don’t worry!

Bin laden, nasrallat, or Baghdadi don’t represent any of us, we never listen to them so do as we do!

Thumb _mowaten_ 4 hours ago

the saudi ambassador is not happy that the army is hitting his mercenaries in tripoli.
what with the 3bn$ aid to the army by the way? we went through all the terbih jmileh for a year, now are we going to see the actual weapons or shall we wait another year?

Thumb terrorist 1 hour ago

They’re not going to end up the hand hands of M8 militiamen, it takes time to find LAF servicemen loyal to their country now that qahwaji and rukoz divided the army by obeying to bashar Hafiz Assad.

Are you done polishing knives and chains? Yalla quickly mowaten! You have people to kill in Syria.

Default-user-icon geha (Guest) 1 hour ago

mowaten, you sound like an immature kid completely disconnected from reality, just trying to build some silly rationale based on bits & pieces of propaganda and lies.

Default-user-icon cityboy (Guest) 1 hour ago

You beat me to it mowaten. I was thinking the same thing, exactly the same! Where are those $3bn and where are those weapons? We are so so similar: we are both narcissists, both shia extremists who pretend to be moderates, both have an inferiority complex, both pretend to be secular, and both have multiple accounts. I just hope readers don’t think we are the same poster.

Missing –karim. 5 hours ago

The kingdom of terrorism is responsible in the first place for all the unrest, tension, and terrorism in Lebanon. This terrorist ambassador should be arrested for espionage and the promotion of terrorism, and war should be declared on the kingdom of terrorism.

Missing helicopter 5 hours ago

karim,
The PFLP armed Palestinians are not armed by KSA but by Bachar Assad.
HA is armed by Iran. So KSA might be responsible for the extremist Sunni but all of the above are source of terrorism and insatability for Lebanon. They all have attacked our LAF and killed our soldiers at one point or another.

Missing imagine_1979 4 hours ago

No helicopter, ksa armed fplp general comand, ksa sent us chaker el absi, ksa sent bombs with smaha, blew tripoli mosqs, assassinated hachem salman…, u know same the same way israel assassinated hariri,hawi,kassir… It is only logic man how can’t u see it???
U are blaming the very modern, secular, democratic islamic republic of iran man? U are so brainwashed, u should read more objective sources, u know sana/al manar/otv….
Anyway have a good day man

Thumb blablablablabla 3 hours ago

yah the PLO wasn’t financed by KSA. When they retreated, the LP crash wasn’t caused by the retirement of their funds in the lebanese banks and Amine Gemayel never accused them that in one day, 3 billions USD disappeared from Lebanon and were transferred to Tunis at that time. Syrian were giving weapons but these weapons were paid by KSA.

Thumb .Southern_. 3 hours ago

@helicopter,

we are talking about the terrorists who are spreading chaos in the country, attacking the army and supporting the thugs who kidnapped the military personals in Arsal.. and not the ones who are defending the country against intruders and occupiers, as the case of HA… try to be consistent next time.

Default-user-icon karim–. (Guest) 4 hours ago

Down with the iranian funded sectarian militia and its regional and local sponsors. God bless the Lebanese army

Missing imagine_1979 4 hours ago

The great secular islamic republic of iran and very modern suprem
Leader ayatollah is doing such a wonderful job spreading democracy, modernism, intelctual achievement all around our region…

Go have some chupachups karim

Thumb -phoenix1 4 hours ago

I agree with you Karim, but Iran is also deep in it, right up to the neck.

Missing helicopter 5 hours ago

Later on Wednesday, Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) reported that Asiri delivered a letter to Salam expressing his country’s desire to grant the state 15 million dollars to rebuild the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, which was leveled in 2007……….
15 Million is not even the price of 100,000 meters of land.
I would rather give KSA $150 Million and have them build the camp in Jedda.
Thanks KSA but no thanks

Thumb -phoenix1 4 hours ago

Excellent post Chopper, this is exactly the spirit of it all, since the Saudis love them Palestinians so much, let them take them and build for them everything these people want, but in Saudi and well away from our lands. fed up with liars. Good post man.

Thumb al.finique 4 hours ago

Excellent comment bro. I totally agree with you on this one bro. Good post man

Thumb blablablablabla 3 hours ago

here +1 from me on that point

Default-user-icon laba laba laba laba (Guest) 1 hour ago

Only +1 from you? that’s very conservative on your part since you normally give +30

Thumb .Southern_. 3 hours ago

@helicopter,
that’s fine!! but you have to criticise the M14 politicians, Hariri, GiGi and Samy who have permitted KAS through its ambassador to be as “the fifth power” after the executive, the legislative and the judiciary and now we add the KSA influence over the country.

Thumb speakfreely 4 hours ago

The problems of refugees, takfeeris, terrorists shooting at the LAF connot be solved by donations. In fact these fundings only prolong our problems.

Missing imagine_1979 4 hours ago

Indeed, how about making camps, with UN/LAF to ensure security, make sure no arms in, make sure who enters and leave, give shelter to refugiers so they donnot become cheap mercenaries?….
Any other ideas?…

Thumb Mystic 3 hours ago

Desperation can clearly be seen amongst the Saudis, their grip of influence in Lebanon is shaking.

How about those 3 billions that never reached the LAF? They never came, because they used those billions to arm takfiris around the world.

Russia Resupplies the Space Station After Our Rented Rocket Blew-Up

Antares rocket explosion

Robotic Russian Supply Ship Docks to International Space Station

space-logo

progress-docking
Russia’s Progress 57 vehicle docks to the International Space Station on Oct. 29, 2014. Credit: NASA

An unmanned Russian cargo spaceship successfully docked to the International Space Station this morning (Oct. 29). The docking comes a day after a private rocket in the United States exploded after attempting to launch on a similar resupply run to the orbiting outpost.

Russia’s robotic Progress 57 vehicle docked to the space station at 9:08 a.m. EDT (1308 GMT) after a six-hour journey that started atop a Soyuz rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The unmanned capsule delivered close to three tons of supplies to the station’s Expedition 41 crew.

Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket was expected to launch the company’s unmanned Cygnus spacecraft on a similar mission to the space station for NASA Tuesday night. However, the Antares exploded moments after launching from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. Officials are now investigating the root cause of the explosion. [See images of the Antares explosion

While NASA officials have expressed disappointment in the Antares failure, the six-person crew on the space station still has plenty of supplies onboard, Mike Suffredini, the head of NASA’s International Space Station program office said during a news conference yesterday.

Cygnus and Progress spacecraft are two of the many robotic ships that fly resupply missions to the space station. Orbital Sciences and SpaceX currently hold contracts with NASA to make supply runs to the space laboratory. Japan also uses its H-2 Transfer Vehicles to haul cargo to the astronauts and cosmonauts living and working in space.

British Claim Mediterranean Refugee Rescue Operation “Bad Example” Which Invites Others To Drown

UK will not support new migrants rescue operation, claiming ‘pull factor’

times of malta

Britain will not support any future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, claiming they simply encourage more people to attempt the dangerous sea crossing, The Guardian newspaper has reported.

It said refugee and human rights organisations reacted with anger to the official British refusal to support a sustained European search and rescue operation to prevent further mass migrant drownings, saying it would contribute to more people dying needlessly on Europe’s doorstep.

The British refusal comes as the official Italian sea and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, is due to end this week after contributing over the past 12 months to the rescue of an estimated 150,000 people. It is to be replaced by Operation Triton, an EU operation run by Frontex to which all member states have been asked to contribute.

The UK never provided any sustained support to any migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

The Guardian reports that British policy was quietly spelled out in a recent House of Lords written answer by the new Foreign Office minister, Lady Anelay: “We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean,” she said, adding that the government believed there was “an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths”.

“The government believes the most effective way to prevent refugees and migrants attempting this dangerous crossing is to focus our attention on countries of origin and transit, as well as taking steps to fight the people smugglers who wilfully put lives at risk by packing migrants into unseaworthy boats,” she said.

The Home Office told the Guardian the government was not taking part in Operation Triton at present beyond providing one “debriefer” – a single immigration officer – to gather intelligence about the migrants who continue to make the dangerous journey to Italy.

The Humanitarian Disaster Named Barack Obama

[SEE: The Obscenity of Humanitarian Warfare  THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS ; Obama Pushing the World To Embrace American Failure ;

Obama’s War-Generated Tsunami of Dark-Skinned People Turning Mediterranean Into Massive Watery Cemetery ; Securing the Fate of Refugees Will Pull the Plug On the Terror War ;  US Imperialist Wars of Aggression Have Created More Refugees Than Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan Combined ;  Turkish Plans To “Weaponize” Refugees from Syria, Exporting Them To Europe ;    

Germany says it misses ‘EU humanitarian flag’ in Syria crisis

Euractiv

Hundreds of thousands of refugees will be at risk for survival this winter. [UNICEF]
Hundreds of thousands of refugees will be at risk for survival this winter. [UNICEF]

Germany is accusing the EU of putting millions of refugee lives on the line in the Middle East, saying Brussels should allocate a “special one billion” to prevent mass mortalities this winter. EurActiv Germany reports.

In light of the refugee crisis in Syria, and in neighbouring countries, Germany is calling for greater commitments from its fellow EU member states.

“We are witnessing a disaster of the century. Many deaths will occur in the coming winter if we do not make a clear combined effort,” said German Development Minister Gerd Müller. He spoke on Tuesday (28 October) at the opening of a conference on refugees with representatives from more than 35 states.

Seven million children and minors are displaced due to the Syrian civil war and terror caused by the Islamic State (IS). Hundreds of thousands are forced to sleep in mud or are housed in precarious accommodations.

“I am missing the EU’s humanitarian flag,” said Müller. Germany has already done its homework and serves as a role model, he pointed out.

“If the remaining 27 member states would involve themselves according to their size and capability, like Germany, then we could secure the survival of families and children and offer them long-term prospects,” the German development minister said.

Germany is already carrying enough of the burden, echoed Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday (October 28). Since the start of the crisis, he said the German government has invested around €650 million in the region and taken in 70,000 Syrian refugees. And Steinmeier announced an additional 640 million euros to be contributed until 2017.

Müller called on the new European Commission to allocate a special billion euro fund from existing coffers like the European Development Fund (EDF) and funds for humanitarian aid and the neighbourhood.

“I am depending on Commission President Juncker to take the appropriate steps and set the course,” said Müller.

Refugee crisis is “a breeding ground for global terror”

At the Syria conference, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey made a dramatic appeal to the EU and the West. If the latter do not take over more of the burden soon, the entire region will collapse – a situation that would have a serious effect on Europe.

“We have given everything for the refugees but now we need aid ourselves,” said Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Tuesday. “Lebanon has reached the limit of its ability to take in more [refugees].”

Salam called on Europe and the West to accept more refugees than they have so far. The social tensions set in motion by the massive influx of Syrian refugees create an explosive breeding ground for extremism and violence, the Prime Minister said. This not only applies to the region, he added, but to the rest of the world.

Representatives from Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt painted a similar picture. “The enormous increase in individuals requiring aid has exceeded all of our capacities,” explained Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Many communities that have taken in refugees, were already on the verge of poverty. In addition, the demand for water has risen by 16%, although Judeh said his country already has the fourth-lowest water reserves in the world.

Turkey accused the international community of leaving the affected countries to deal with the financial burden on their own. Within just a few weeks Turkey had taken in more refugees than the entire EU, said the country’s deputy foreign minister Naci Koru, urging a fair division of burden on asylum seekers.

UN Refugee Commissioner Antonio Guterres called on the international community to accept more refugees and increase aid. “We must support Syria’s neighbours in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster,” Guterres warned. This could happen by means of setting up special resettlement measures or more flexible visa regulations.

Pro Asyl calls for open borders

The German activist organisation Pro Asyl criticised the conference’s “one-sided perspective”. Günther Burkhardt, managing director of Pro Asyl called on the EU to open Europe’s borders and instate a European sea rescue mission in the Mediterranean.

At the moment, refugees continue to be turned away at the border between Greece and Turkey, Burkhardt said. The closed borders force refugees to take the dangerous path across the central Mediterranean.

“While the foreign and development ministers advocate for measures to assist neighbouring states, the European Union’s internal affairs ministers continue to perfect their partitioning,” said Burkhardt.

The EU needs to conduct a parallel discussion on acceptance of Syrian refugees, the Pro Asyl chief said. Industrialised states have only committed to receiving around 42,000 people – a startling low number compared to the gravity of the situation, Burkhardt commented.

Even Germany could take in more refugees from Syria than it has so far, the asylum expert said. Pro Asyl demands that refugees from Iraq and Syria be given free passage to join their relatives in European countries.

EurActiv.de

Dario Sarmadi

translated from German

Erika Körner

The Grave Crisis of Islamic Civilization Brought On By American Foreign Policy

“The United States bears a terrible responsibility for having created this crisis with its (and Israel’s and the Europeans’) military and political interventions since 1948. Nothing can be done by the West that will solve this crisis in our generation. We must withdraw, and observe this tragedy with pity — and repentance for what we have so arrogantly and casually done.”

let me be clear

Obama War Strategy

William Pfaff

Paris, October 15, 2014 –Last Sunday, President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice was questioned on NBC about the American administration’s war strategy concerning the Islamic State in Syria, the aggressive and messianic self-proclaimed New Islamic Caliphate. Does a strategy exist; she was initially asked, since there are, to put it mildly, doubters among the crowd. She firmly replied that there is indeed a strategy, stated by the president, which is to degrade and ultimately “destroy” ISIS (or ISIL, which is the acronym apparently preferred at the White House).

However, to destroy ISIS is not a strategy; it is an objective. The strategy is what gets the new international coalition (a doubtful quantity thus far) formed by the U.S. from here to there. She described the strategy as forming the coalition (already done by the United States, which has appointed itself the coalition’s leader, although it has not yet been made clear what the leader will do, beyond carrying out air strikes against ISIS.)

What she emphatically stated was what it will not do, which is to send ground forces to fight the war. This is not entirely true, since there has already been a certain deployment of auxiliaries and counselors, and U.S. attack helicopters reportedly have been in action near Baghdad.

Ms. Rice then stated that the ground war must be fought by Iraq. “It’s got to be the Iraqis,” she said. “This is their fight. This is their territory.” She added that even in the past, “when we had over 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, it still came down to whether the Iraqis were willing and able to fight for their own country.” This is a sensitive point, because when Iraq’s army initially clashed with the ISIS offensive a few weeks ago it spectacularly fell apart, its commanders prominent among those who fled the field.

The President’s advisor explained that Iraq’s army had “atrophied” since United States forces had left the country, following a decade spent training this army, and the expenditure of who knows how much money creating this army, but it was ruined because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had been a “sectarian`” Shia, and he made the army into just an instrument of his own political power, failing to supply the leadership capable of inspiring the morale of the troops.

Now, Ms. Rice said, there is a new Iraq government that the Obama administration hopes will be able to rebuild the country’s armed forces so they can battle ISIS on their own and win. “It’s not going to be quick. It’s not going to be easy. But this is the only way to accomplish taking back territory.” This, according to White House sources, will take three years.

One felt embarrassment because she was saying all this to the American public and international audience despite the news piece from Iraq which had run on NBC shortly before “Meet the Press” with a report from Iraq by NBC correspondent Richard Engel, who declared that today “the Iraqi army is in no better shape than it was when it collapsed.” He added that it was “completely unrealistic” to think that the army and Iraqi government are in any better shape to confront an ISIS arrack now than they were then.

The notion that Iraq will “destroy” ISIS at American behest is an illusion, and so is the notion that the coalition just formed can do it. The plan Mr. Obama laid out last week is equally unconvincing and his administration must surely know it. The Pentagon surely knows it and leaked comments and assessments by retired officers all are saying that nothing seriously will be accomplished unless the United States goes in and does the job.

What is The Plan? Well, first we and others bomb ISIS. Then our coalition partners “roll back” the jihadist army. (At this moment, ISIS is “rolling up” friendly Kurdish forces on the Turkish border and seizing still more Iraqi and Syrian territory.) Then, according to Mr. Obama, we and the coalition forces all join together in “destroying” ISIS. Sounds good, eh? Not really.

Three things can happen. First, the United States will send forces comparable to those previously deployed in Iraq. This will solve nothing.

Second, Mr. Obama will very sensibly refuse to get into this third war to impose America’s will upon the Middle East. As he already has said, this is the Arabs’ war to win or lose.

I make the following argument: The United States must understand that a grave crisis of Islamic civilization is overtaking the Middle East, which can only be resolved by the Muslims themselves. The United States bears a terrible responsibility for having created this crisis with its (and Israel’s and the Europeans’) military and political interventions since 1948. Nothing can be done by the West that will solve this crisis in our generation. We must withdraw, and observe this tragedy with pity — and repentance for what we have so arrogantly and casually done.

© Copyright 2014 by Tribune Content Agency. All Rights Reserved.

Lebanese Army Restores Order In Tripoli–2 Insane, Clean-Shaven Mullahs On the Run

Order restored in Tripoli as Lebanese Army seizes last militant bastion

daily star LEB

https://i2.wp.com/dailystar.com.lb/dailystar/Pictures/2014/10/27/359946_img650x420_img650x420_crop.jpg

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Lebanese commandos, backed by helicopter gunships, seized the headquarters of an Islamist militant leader Monday, on the fourth day of clashes that have rocked Lebanon’s second city, leaving 42 people dead and some 150 wounded.

A military source confirmed that the Abdullah bin Masoud Mosque, the stronghold of Shadi Mawlawi and his partner Osama Mansour, militant commanders reportedly linked to the Al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, had fallen into the hands of the Lebanese Army.

The source told The Daily Star troops had combed the area around the mosque, which is inside the restive Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood.

Security sources told The Daily Star that soldiers found the mosque empty of militants. They believe the gunmen had melted away, their faces clean-shaven and dressed in civilian clothes, before the Army advance began early Monday morning.

They said that while the operation in Bab al-Tabbaneh was over, soldiers were still hunting for wanted men and other suspects in connection with attacks against the Army, after they fled into the orchards of the northern towns of Minyeh, Mhamra and Bhenin.

An army statement issued Monday evening confirmed the details of the operations, but added that one soldier was slightly wounded during a gunfight with militants in Bhenin.

By Monday evening, at least 162 gunmen had been arrested throughout the north since the fighting erupted, according to the Army statement.

Army helicopters continued to chase fugitive gunmen from Bhenin to the Oyoun al-Samak region, while Army surveillance aircraft flew over the towns and villages of Akkar, Minyeh and Dinnieh and Nahr al-Bared River.

The Lebanese Army called on gunmen to hand themselves in, or be hunted down.

In a statement, the military urged “remnants of fleeing armed groups” to surrender to the Lebanese Army.

It said the Army would hunt them down in their hideouts and vowed to continue pursuing them until they are arrested and brought to justice.

The sources said the Army was resolute in the crackdown on armed militants and was taking a no-compromise approach.

Security sources earlier told The Daily Star that the Army had sealed off all entrances to the vegetable market as troops prepared to storm the militants’ stronghold in Bab al-Tabbaneh.

As the soldiers surrounded the Abdullah bin Masoud Mosque, troops fanned out through the surrounding neighborhood, combing the streets for militants, the sources said.

They said the early morning push followed the evacuation of citizens from the neighborhood.

The sources said among the fatalities were 23 gunmen, 11 soldiers and eight civilians.

Among the wounded were 92 soldiers, and 63 gunmen and civilians.

There was no resistance from gunmen when the Army advance began around 6:30 a.m.

Earlier Monday, unknown assailants tossed a hand grenade towards a police station in the Tripoli neighborhood of Mina. No casualties were reported. However, three cars were damaged in the 5 a.m. attack.

The four days of running street battles between Lebanese troops and militants in Tripoli and the northern district of Minyeh represented the worst bout of Syria-related violence in Lebanon since ISIS and the Nusra Front briefly overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August, leaving dead 19 troops and dozens of militants.

The Nusra Front said it will postpone the execution of captive soldiers after guns fell silent in Tripoli.

On Sunday the jihadist groups threatened to kill Ali Bazzal, one of 27 Lebanese servicemen being held captive by the Islamist militants, after accusing the Lebanese Army of “cheating to gain time” and failing to meet its demand to end the offensive in Tripoli.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who pledged full political support for the Army in its battle against terrorism Sunday, chaired a security meeting Monday at the Grand Serail in Beirut with the heads of several security bodies.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab said Monday that public and private schools in Tripoli, Minyeh, and Akkar would remain closed on Tuesday. Measures to reopen the schools will be taken on Wednesday, he said.

Jordan Arrests Radical Islamist Sheikh al Maqdisi for Incitement of Radicalism

Jordan arrests influential al Qaeda scholar for ‘incitement’

TODAY

Jordan arrests influential al Qaeda scholar for 'incitement'
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada listens to Islamist scholar Sheik Abu Mohammad al Maqdisi during a celebration after his release from a prison near Amman. Photo: Reuters

AMMAN – Jordanian security forces arrested influential al Qaeda spiritual guide Abu Mohammad al Maqdisi on Monday on suspicion of fomenting terrorism on the Internet, security sources said.

They said Maqdisi was ordered to be held for 15 days after he was called in for questioning by the state security prosecutor. He was initially charged with “using the Internet to promote and incite views of jihadi terrorist organizations”.

The self-taught intellectual was seen as the spiritual guide of the slain al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the think tank of the U.S. West Point military academy has called him the most influential living Islamist mentor.

“He was arrested soon after he appeared at the prosecutor’s office and charged,” one security source told Reuters.

He has spoken out against Islamic State in recent months, saying their brutal methods of decapitations smeared the reputation of global jihadism. However, he has softened his criticism in the wake of U.S.-led air strikes against the group in both Iraq and Syria.

Although Maqdisi did not openly criticize Jordan and several Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia that joined the U.S. coalition against IS, he described it as crusader war against Islam.

“Don’t rejoice when one side or the other suffers from the aggression of crusaders,” Maqdisi said in a recent letter.

He was released from prison in Jordan last June after spending five years in jail for various terror-related charges. Some Jordanian officials suggested that authorities, fearful of militancy spilling across their own border, had agreed to free him so that he would speak out against the Islamic State.

The Islamic State emerged as an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq before expanding into Syria following the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad more than three years ago.

The expansion ignited battles with rival Islamist groups, including the al Qaeda-affiliate al-Nusra Front, in which thousands have died.

SPATE OF ARRESTS

Maqdisi has mocked the Islamic State’s proclamation of a caliphate, saying it only deepened already bloody infighting among jihadists and said their acts deviated from true Islam.

However, Jordanian security began worrying when Maqdisi and other jihadist scholars across the region sought to broker a truce earlier this month to end infighting among jihadist groups following the strikes, a source close to security thinking said.

The truce efforts failed after the Islamic State did not respond to a three-day deadline set by the scholars.

Maqdisi’s detention follows a recent spate of arrests in Jordan of scores of Islamic State sympathizers who have expressed their support for the group on the Internet.

A number of IS supporters have also been put on trial on charges of incitement and “promoting activities of terrorist organizations on social media”, judicial sources say.

In the last two months, the Jordanian intelligence services have tightened security around sensitive government zones and stepped up surveillance of Islamist fundamentalists, diplomats and officials say.

Jordanian security services have been a major U.S. partner in fighting radical Islamists for several decades.

Since the civil war erupted in neighboring Syria in 2011, hundreds of Jordanians have joined a Sunni Islamist-led insurgency against forces loyal to Assad.

The authorities are worried by widening support for Islamic State among Jordanian Islamist fundamentalists inspired by its advances in countries that border Jordan to the east and north. REUTERS

Crybaby British Jihadis Want To Go Home To Mommy–Daddy Baghdadi “Grounds Them”

ISIS threatens to kill British jihadists who want to go home – report

Russia-Today

Many British jihadists who travelled to Syria and Iraq and became embroiled with the Islamic State (IS) now want to return home but have been threatened with death by senior figures in IS, The Observer reported.

The newspaper has cited a source, who “has extensive contacts among Syrian rebel groups,” as saying that dozens of British men in Syria and Iraq wanted to return home but were in effect being held against their will by Islamic State.

“There are Britons, who, upon wanting to leave have been threatened with death, either directly or indirectly,” the source said.

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg told The Observer that he knew of at least 30 people who had gone over to fight Assad but had become involved with IS, many for language reasons, as IS has more English speakers in its ranks.

“When it becomes solidified as an Islamic State, a caliph, and you swear allegiance, thereafter if you do something disobedient you are now disobeying the caliph and could be subject to disciplinary measures which could include threats or death,” said Begg.

Reuters / Stringer

Reuters / Stringer

Begg has called on the UK government to introduce an amnesty for jihadists and to set up rehabilitation programs, like in Denmark, which help young men coming back to get their lives back on track without being prosecuted. Some members of the British government, have however, suggested that returning British jihadists should instead be tried for treason.

Begg, as well as spending years in Guantanamo, has also spent seven months in Belmarsh prison after being arrested for a trip he made to Syria in 2013. Begg was released earlier this month after it emerged secret intelligence material had been withheld from police, suggesting a strong possibility he has been in contact with MI5 about his Syria trips.

Begg is outreach director for Cage, an independent human rights organization which campaigns against the so-called War on Terror, and says a lot of Britons who went out to fight in Syria and Iraq are “between a rock and a hard place”.

“Some of the guys I met in Belmarsh had gone to Syria to help in a humanitarian defensive role, stayed for a few weeks and, crucially, didn’t want to get involved with the infighting between rebel groups yet the British government imprisoned them. If you come back because of the infighting it means you are not ideologically attached to groups like Isis,” he said.

Brainwashed kids or committed fighters?

It was revealed Friday that a fourth young British Muslim from the south coast town of Portsmouth has been killed in Syria, from a group of six men who called themselves the “Pompey lads” who left the UK to fight for ISIS.

READ MORE: Dozens of British jihadists killed in Syria, more travel to join militants

It is believed that Mohammad Medhi Hassan, 19, was killed in fighting to try and capture the border town of Kobani, which Kurdish fighters have refused to surrender.

Last Tuesday it was confirmed that another of the “Pompey lads”, 24 year old Manunur Roshid, had also been killed on the Syrian front line, most probably in Kobani. Of the six men who left Portsmouth to fight jihad in Syria, four are dead and one is prison.

Recently Hassan had phoned his mother and had tried to escape across the border to meet up with her in Turkey, The Daily Mail reports. He got within just a few kilometers of the Turkish border town of Urfa when he was reportedly recaptured by ISIS fighters who imprisoned him and threatened him with death should he try it again.

READ MORE: British mother rescues wounded jihadi son from Turkish-Syrian border

Hassan was not a typical disgruntled and ostracized youth, he attended an expensive private school in Portsmouth and was due to study international politics at Surrey University, before travelling to Syria over a year ago.

An estimated 500 British Muslims have already gone to Syria and Iraq. Of them, 24 are already believed to have died, according to King’s College London’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR).

Earlier this week, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, the Metropolitan Police Chief Commissioner warned that at least five Britons were joining ISIS every week.

READ MORE: 5 Brits join ISIS each month, 1 dies every 3 weeks

“Those are the minimum. Those are the ones we believe have gone. There may be many more who set out to travel to another country in a way that’s not always possible to spot when you have failed states and leaky borders,” he said, as quoted by the British media.

Jordanian Special Forces Battling ISIS So Obama Won’t Have To

Jordanian Special Forces are secretly fighting ISIS in Iraq, Syria, sources say

the arab daily news

By Ali Younes

Ali Younes

Sources in Jordan have told the Arab Daily News in Amman that Jordan has dispatched 4000 of its special forces to fight the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. According to the sources who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity that the brigade strength force has been instrumental in recent military victories against ISIS in Zimar, in the Kurdish region and in Jurf al Sakhar around Baghdad.

The source also said that the Jordanian Special Forces were battling ISIS while wearing military fatigues with Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga insignias around Baghdad, and in the Kurdish region in the north.

Although the Arab Daily News could not independently verify this information by the time this report is being published. it is however, widely suspected in Jordan that the Jordanian government and military have made some kind of secret deal with the US government to fight ISIS with Jordanian ground forces on the ground  with close US air support, therefore reliving  the US government of sending US forces and beefing up the weak and ineffective Iraqi army.

The Arab Daily News has reported last month that Jordan’s king Abdullah has offered the United States and NATO allies during NATO summit in Great Britain to send ground forces to battle ISIS in Iraq and Syria. US president Barack Obama, however, has ruled out sending US ground forces to Iraq to fight ISIS. Many in the US congress support Obama’s air campaign to “degrade and destroy” ISIS but oppose sending US ground forces to the region.

Moreover, and in an interview with CBS’s 60 minutes last month, King Abdullah commented on the threat ISIS poses to his country and Jordan’s efforts to confront that threat saying that “We have retaliated to several contacts over the past several months to those who have come across our borders or tried to come across our borders. So we have been somewhat aggressive to make sure our borders are defended.”

KingAbdullahJordanian Special Forces are one of the best trained in the region and have been carefully designed to deal with different aspects of terrorist threats whether hostages rescue, or capture and kill operations. Jordan also trains regional forces on special operations in its King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center KASOTC which was jointly established and funded by the US Central Command in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Jordan has joined the US and other countries in fighting ISIS by conducting air strikes on ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq. Jordanian activist Mohammad Khalaf  al Hadid, meanwhile, issued a statement yesterday in Amman accusing the Jordanian government of “ hypocrisy” and “ double standards” in dealing with the crises in Iraq and neglecting the recent Israeli attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Al Hadid, moreover, accused the Jordanian government of “sending the Jordanian military to fight along the side the Kurds in Kobani against the Islamic state.” Al Hadid also rejected the use of Jordanian air force and troops to support the Shia militias in Iraq against the Sunni population.” According to local Jordanian press reports, Jordanians are strongly opposing their military intervention in Iraq and Syria saying that Jordan should not support the United States or other Western countries in fighting ISIS; for fear that it might make Jordan vulnerable to terrorist attacks by ISIS or its supporters. Jordan is also home to an active Jihadist and Salafist movement especially in the southern city of Maan.

Ali Younes is the Editor of the Arab Daily News. He can be reached at : aliyounes@thearabdailynews.com,

The British Are Going…From Helmand, But Obama’s Men Remain

Basra and Helmand caused the US to lose faith in the capability of the British Army and historians will probably conclude

Britain’s 13-year stay in Afghanistan is over. Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province — UK troops’ main Afghan base since 2006 — was handed over to Afghan control yesterday. The courage and fighting spirit displayed by our servicemen and women has been beyond praise and a matter of permanent national pride.

Some 453 soldiers have died, while many hundreds of others have lost limbs or been mutilated in other life-changing ways. They will always carry Afghanistan with them. Maybe this heroism and blood sacrifice has held the rest of us back from analysing our Afghan engagement.

By contrast, the Iraq war has already been the subject of four official investigations. The fifth and longest such study, the Chilcot Inquiry, now looks almost certain to be published early in the new year, and thus before the next general election.

There are some sound reasons for this contrast. The case for invasion in Iraq was quickly tainted by claims of lying and fabrication, augmented by doubts about the integrity of the government information machine. There have been far fewer accusations of bad faith in Afghanistan. In addition, voters have tended to see Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, as a relatively virtuous conflict.

Nevertheless there are important questions that now scream to be asked. These do not, as a whole, concern the original invasion of Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001. This was a brilliant and cleanly executed operation. The questions concern what followed.

Specifically, why was there no serious attempt to rebuild Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban? This failure created the power vacuum that British forces sought to fill when they took charge in Helmand five years later. In retrospect, it is obvious that neither the politicians nor the generals who reported to them knew what they were doing.

Britain had no serious knowledge or understanding of southern Afghanistan. As a result, we were blind to the difficulties which we were about to confront, and did not send in nearly enough troops. This fundamental ignorance was well expressed when John Reid, as defence secretary, notoriously stated that Britain’s involvement in Helmand was about reconstruction and that he would be happy if we left without firing a shot.

Disastrous inkspot strategy

Britain started out with an “inkspot” strategy. We hoped to concentrate our efforts in a tiny area between Camp Bastion and the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. This was doomed to failure and soon we were sucked into the problems of the entire province, meaning that British forces were far too thinly spread, and became targets.

This weekend, Afghanistan: The Lion’s Last Roar, a series of BBC films, broke the culture of relative silence that has surrounded the military presence in Afghanistan. I have had a preview of this fascinating and complex study, which exposes a great deal of the muddled thinking that fatally undermined the decision to send troops to Helmand.

The film establishes that as early as 2004, the British presence in Afghanistan had surprisingly little to do with what was going on within the country itself. Our presence there was determined by powerful external considerations. The first of these was the Iraq war, which by 2006 the British military detested.

Our troops were bogged down and surrounded in Basra, and the generals wanted an escape route. The politicians, however, were determined to maintain the visceral British partnership with the US — the mountains of Afghanistan appeared to offer a far more romantic situation than the urban squalor of Iraq.

A second consideration was even more significant. British generals were terrified of budget cuts. In their quest to avert them, they needed to prove to politicians that the Army was useful. The BBC film strongly suggests that senior military figures may have played down the risks of the Helmand entanglement as a result. One crucial piece of evidence concerns the small reconnaissance team that was sent into Helmand ahead of the main body of troops.

The BBC obtained an interview with the official in charge, Mark Etherington, who tells viewers: “We found a tremendously backward province largely lawless, corruption was endemic. The chief of police was illiterate, and I seem to remember the director of education was also illiterate. There was a single tarmac road, the areas were vast, it was clearly an extremely challenging environment.”

After two weeks there, Etherington bleakly concluded that the British objectives of establishing security, good governance and economic regeneration “were not going to be substantially possible”. But this warning was ignored. He suggests this was because the British Army didn’t want to listen. He recalls being told by one officer: “Don’t raise too many issues, or they won’t let us come.”

This view is confirmed by Ed Butler, former head of the SAS, who commanded British forces in Helmand: “My view was that the train had already left the station.”

General David Richards, head of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2006 and later Chief of the Defence Staff, remembers that: “We were actually hoping for the best and planning for the best.”

To sum up: British forces were ill-equipped, underprepared and, at the most senior strategic level, atrociously led. The men themselves were nevertheless brave as lions. The conflict in Helmand will be remembered for centuries as a shining example of astonishing heroism combined with pointless sacrifice. The province is now formally under the control of the Afghan army (ANA).

Those who have been there recently, though, tell me that “the ANA are in charge during the day, but the Taliban are in control during the night.”

It is doubtful that British generals bear all the blame. Neither Tony Blair nor John Reid, defence secretary when the deployment was made, agreed to be interviewed for the BBC programme. I suspect they were very sensible. Blair’s wars, which have dominated the first decade of this century, have collectively been a disaster. They even failed in their key strategic objective of maintaining our alliance with America.

Basra and Helmand have caused the United States to lose faith in the capability of the British Army. It may very well be that historians will look back on Helmand and conclude that it marked the moment when Britain’s ability to act as a global military power came to an end.

They will marvel, too, at the stoicism, patience, resource and raw courage of ordinary British soldiers, doing their best in the face of appalling odds. Let’s always remember those who have died and let’s always acknowledge the terrible scars, both mental and physical, which must be borne by those who have survived.

Let’s also remember the Afghans themselves, so many of whom have been entirely innocent victims of the dreadful conflict of the past 13 years. Have we made their lives better? It is still impossible to say.

— The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2014

Terrorists Hit Egyptian Army Hard…30 Dead…Sisi Blames Unspecified “Foreign Elements”

[Who is Al-Sisi implicating?  Iran?  Qatar?  Turkey?  (SEE: Qatar condemns Sinai explosions ; Egypt will not renew navigation agreement with Turkey)

‘Foreign elements’‪ supported Friday attacks: Al-Sisi

daily news egypt

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi accused on Saturday “foreign elements” of supporting the attacks on army checkpoints in North Sinai on Friday which left 30 army personnel dead and more than 25 injured. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far. (Photo Presidency handout\File)

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi accused on Saturday “foreign elements” of supporting the attacks on army checkpoints in North Sinai on Friday which left at least 30 army personnel dead and more than 25 injured. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.

The deceased will receive military funerals in the presence of Al-Sisi

“These terrorists’ attacks are aiming to break the will of the Egyptians,” said Al-Sisi.

In a speech, after his meeting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Al-Sisi said new security measures will take place on the border with the Gaza Strip to “face terrorism”.

He added that a military confrontation against what he called “terrorists” will take place, where casualties are expected. “The current war is a conflict of survival, where we are fighting to return the return of the Egyptian state and its institutions”

Al-Sisi praised the role of the armed forces and the police in their latest raids on terrorist cells in Sinai. “Without these operations which killed hundreds of extremist elements, the situation in Sinai would have been worse.”

On Saturday morning, Al-Sisi headed a meeting of the SCAF, where they confirmed their intention to fight terrorism and to provide the necessary measures to facilitate military operations in the Sinai.

The council added that a committee headed by top personnel in the armed forces is to investigate the attacks and cooperate with the police to discuss the situation in Sinai.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb on Saturday condemned the attacks, describing them as a “despicable terrorist act”, according to state media.

“The Egyptian people and all peace-loving peoples should stand together against the terrorism”

Mehleb stressed that Egypt has been waging a war against terrorism since the 30 June events, emphasising the importance of rallying behind the political leadership, the army, and the police”.

On Friday night, Al-Sisi met with the National Defence Council to issue a presidential decree declaring a state of emergency in North Sinai for a period of three months, including a curfew from 5pm to 7am.

The decree added that security forces are to be authorised to use force against any suspected danger. Also, starting on Saturday Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, until further notice.

Fazal-ur-Rehman Survives Another Bomb Attack In Quetta

Top Pak Islamic Politician Survives Attack, Mar 31, 2011

Monday, an explosion killed 18 people at a rally for Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal Ur Rehman, May 8, 2013

[Jundullah terrorist group takes responsibility for the attack.  Militant group vows to target JUI-F chief again  I guess that they have grown tired of just killing Iranians and Shia.]

Fazal Ur Rehman Narrowly Escapes Suicide Attack In Quetta

Fazal Ur Rehman Narrowly Escapes Suicide Attack In Quetta

Quetta: A suicide bomber detonated himself outside the rally of Jamiat-e-Ulama-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) on Mecongy road Quetta, on Wednesday.

Two people were killed and dozens wounded due to the suicide blast. Fazal ur Rehman and entire JUI-F leadership escaped unhurt.

JUI-F held Mufti Mahmood Conference today in Sadiq Shaheed ground. The bomb blast took place when the leadership of JUI-F entered Mecongy when the conference ended, learnt The Balochistan Point from credible sources.

juif

“My car was badly damaged, almost destroyed. The windscreen of my car was completely cracked, we received a big shock but me and friends inside the car are safe and alive,” Said Fazal ur Rehman while talking to a news channel

Jundullah, a proscribed organization, claimed responsibility for the attack on JUI-F rally.

Earlier today, 8 Hazara Vegetable Vendors were gunned down in Hazar Gunji area of Quetta and two people lost their lives on an attack on the convoy of Frontier Corp on Qambrani road Quetta.

The Truth About The Evil In Man

“There is no factual basis for thinking that something like the democratic nation-state provides a model on which the region could be remade.”

Our leaders talk a great deal about vanquishing the forces of evil. But their rhetoric reveals a failure to accept that cruelty and conflict are basic human traits

Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth circa 1939. Photograph: Heinrich Hoffmann/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

 

When Barack Obama vows to destroy Isis’s “brand of evil” and David Cameron declares that Isis is an “evil organisation” that must be obliterated, they are echoing Tony Blair’s judgment of Saddam Hussein: “But the man’s uniquely evil, isn’t he?” Blair made this observation in November 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq, when he invited six experts to Downing Street to brief him on the likely consequences of the war. The experts warned that Iraq was a complicated place, riven by deep communal enmities, which Saddam had dominated for over 35 years. Destroying the regime would leave a vacuum; the country could be shaken by Sunni rebellion and might well descend into civil war. These dangers left the prime minster unmoved. What mattered was Saddam’s moral iniquity. The divided society over which he ruled was irrelevant. Get rid of the tyrant and his regime, and the forces of good would prevail.

If Saddam was uniquely evil 12 years ago, we have it on the authority of our leaders that Isis is uniquely evil today. Until it swept into Iraq a few months ago, the jihadist group was just one of several that had benefited from the campaign being waged by western governments and their authoritarian allies in the Gulf in support of the Syrian opposition’s struggle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Since then Isis has been denounced continuously and with increasing intensity; but there has been no change in the ruthless ferocity of the group, which has always practised what a radical Islamist theorist writing under the name Abu Bakr Naji described in an internet handbook in 2006 as “the management of savagery”.

Ever since it was spun off from al-Qaida some 10 years ago, Isis has made clear its commitment to beheading apostates and unbelievers, enslaving women and wiping out communities that will not submit to its ultra-fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. In its carefully crafted internet videos, it has advertised these crimes itself. There has never been any doubt that Isis practises methodical savagery as an integral part of its strategy of war. This did not prevent an abortive attempt on the part of the American and British governments in August of last year to give military support to the Syrian rebels – a move that could have left Isis the most powerful force in the country. Isis became the prime enemy of western governments only when it took advantage of the anarchy these same governments had created when they broke the state of Iraq with their grandiose scheme of regime change.

Against this background, it would be easy to conclude that talk of evil in international conflicts is no more than a cynical technique for shaping public perceptions. That would be a mistake. Blair’s secret – which is the key to much in contemporary politics – is not cynicism. A cynic is someone who knowingly acts against what he or she knows to be true. Too morally stunted to be capable of the mendacity of which he is often accused, Blair thinks and acts on the premise that whatever furthers the triumph of what he believes to be good must be true. Imagining that he can deliver the Middle East and the world from evil, he cannot help having a delusional view of the impact of his policies.
Saddam Hussein fires a rifle
“But the man’s uniquely evil, isn’t he?” Tony Blair said of Saddam Hussein. Photograph: Reuters

Here Blair is at one with most western leaders. It’s not that they are obsessed with evil. Rather, they don’t really believe in evil as an enduring reality in human life. If their feverish rhetoric means anything, it is that evil can be vanquished. In believing this, those who govern us at the present time reject a central insight of western religion, which is found also in Greek tragic drama and the work of the Roman historians: destructive human conflict is rooted in flaws within human beings themselves. In this old-fashioned understanding, evil is a propensity to destructive and self-destructive behaviour that is humanly universal. The restraints of morality exist to curb this innate human frailty; but morality is a fragile artifice that regularly breaks down. Dealing with evil requires an acceptance that it never goes away.

No view of things could be more alien at the present time. Whatever their position on the political spectrum, almost all of those who govern us hold to some version of the melioristic liberalism that is the west’s default creed, which teaches that human civilisation is advancing – however falteringly – to a point at which the worst forms of human destructiveness can be left behind. According to this view, evil, if any such thing exists, is not an inbuilt human flaw, but a product of defective social institutions, which can over time be permanently improved.

Most western leaders reject the insight that destructive human conflict is rooted in flaws within human beings

Paradoxically, this belief in the evanescence of evil is what underlies the hysterical invocation of evil that has lately become so prominent. There are many bad and lamentable forces in the world today, but it is those that undermine the belief in human improvement that are demonised as “evil”. So what disturbs the west about Vladimir Putin, for example, is not so much the persecution of gay people over which he has presided, or the threat posed to Russia’s neighbours by his attempt to reassert its imperial power. It is the fact that he has no place in the liberal scheme of continuing human advance. As a result, the Russian leader can only be evil. When George W Bush looked into Putin’s eyes at a Moscow summit in May 2002, he reported, “I was able to get a sense of his soul”. When Joe Biden visited the Kremlin in 2011, he had a very different impression, telling Putin: “Mr Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.” According to Biden, Putin smiled and replied, “We understand each other.” The religious language is telling: nine years earlier, Putin had been a pragmatic leader with whom the west could work; now he was a soulless devil.
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It’s in the Middle East, however, that the prevailing liberal worldview has proved most consistently misguided. At bottom, it may be western leaders’ inability to think outside this melioristic creed that accounts for their failure to learn from experience. After more than a decade of intensive bombing, backed up by massive ground force, the Taliban continue to control much of Afghanistan and appear to be regaining ground as the American-led mission is run down. Libya – through which a beaming David Cameron processed in triumph only three years ago, after the use of western air power to help topple Gaddafi – is now an anarchic hell-hole that no western leader could safely visit. One might think such experiences would be enough to deter governments from further exercises in regime change. But our leaders cannot admit the narrow limits of their power. They cannot accept that by removing one kind of evil they may succeed only in bringing about another – anarchy instead of tyranny, Islamist popular theocracy instead of secular dictatorship. They need a narrative of continuing advance if they are to preserve their sense of being able to act meaningfully in the world, so they are driven again and again to re-enact their past failures.

Many view these western interventions as no more than exercises in geopolitics. But a type of moral infantilism is no less important in explaining the persisting folly of western governments. Though it is clear that Isis cannot be permanently weakened as long as the war against Assad continues, this fact is ignored – and not only because a western-brokered peace deal that left Assad in power would be opposed by the Gulf states that have sided with jihadist forces in Syria. More fundamentally, any such deal would mean giving legitimacy to a regime that western governments have condemned as more evil than any conceivable alternative. In Syria, the actual alternatives are the survival in some form of Assad’s secular despotism, a radical Islamist regime or continuing war and anarchy. In the liberal political culture that prevails in the west, a public choice among these options is impossible.

There are some who think the very idea of evil is an obsolete relic of religion. For most secular thinkers, what has been defined as evil in the past is the expression of social ills that can in principle be remedied. But these same thinkers very often invoke evil forces to account for humankind’s failure to advance. The secularisation of the modern moral vocabulary that many believed was under way has not occurred: public discourse about good and evil continues to be rooted in religion. Yet the idea of evil that is invoked is not one that features in the central religious traditions of the west. The belief that evil can be finally overcome has more in common with the dualistic heresies of ancient and medieval times than it does with any western religious orthodoxy.
* * *

A radically dualistic view of the world, in which good and evil are separate forces that have coexisted since the beginning of time, was held by the ancient Zoroastrians and Manicheans. These religions did not face the problem with which Christian apologists have struggled so painfully and for so long – how to reconcile the existence of an all-powerful and wholly good God with the fact of evil in the world. The worldview of George W Bush and Tony Blair is commonly described as Manichean, but this is unfair to the ancient religion. Mani, the third-century prophet who founded the faith, appears to have believed the outcome of the struggle was uncertain, whereas for Bush and Blair there could never be any doubt as to the ultimate triumph of good. In refusing to accept the permanency of evil they are no different from most western leaders.
Saint Augustine by Caravaggio. Saint Augustine by Caravaggio. Photograph: The Guardian

The west owes its ideas of evil to Christianity, though whether these ideas would be recognised by Jesus – the dissident Jewish prophet from whose life and sayings St Paul conjured the Christian religion – is an open question. The personification of evil as a demonic presence is not a feature of biblical Judaism, where the figure of Satan appears chiefly as a messenger or accuser sent by God to challenge wrongdoers. Despite the claims of believers and advances in scholarship, not enough is known to pronounce with any confidence on what Jesus may himself have believed. What is clear is that Christianity has harboured a number of quite different understandings of evil.

A convert from Manicheism, St Augustine established a powerful orthodoxy in the fourth century when he tried to distance Christianity from dualism and maintained that evil was not an independent force coeval with good but came into the world when human beings misused the gift of free will. Reflecting Augustine’s own conflicts, the idea of original sin that he developed would play a part in the unhealthy preoccupation with sexuality that appears throughout most of Christianity’s history. Yet in placing the source of evil within human beings, Augustine’s account is more humane than myths in which evil is a sinister force that acts to subvert human goodness. Those who believe that evil can be eradicated tend to identify themselves with the good and attack anyone they believe stands in the way of its triumph.

Augustine had an immense influence, but dualistic views in which evil exists as an independent force have erupted repeatedly as heretical traditions within Christianity. The Cathar movement that developed in parts of Europe in the 13th century revived a Manichean cosmogony in which the world is the work not of a good God but instead of a malevolent angel or demi-urge. A rival heresy was promoted by the fourth century theologian Pelagius, an opponent of Augustine who denied original sin while strongly affirming free will, and believed that human beings could be good without divine intervention. More than any of the ancient Greek philosophers, Pelagius put an idea of human autonomy at the centre of his thinking. Though he is now almost forgotten, this heretical Christian theologian has a good claim to be seen as the true father of modern liberal humanism.

In its official forms, secular liberalism rejects the idea of evil. Many liberals would like to see the idea of evil replaced by a discourse of harm: we should talk instead about how people do damage to each other and themselves. But this view poses a problem of evil remarkably similar to that which has troubled Christian believers. If every human being is born a liberal – as these latter-day disciples of Pelagius appear to believe – why have so many, seemingly of their own free will, given their lives to regimes and movements that are essentially repressive, cruel and violent? Why do human beings knowingly harm others and themselves? Unable to account for these facts, liberals have resorted to a language of dark and evil forces much like that of dualistic religions.

Aiming to exorcise evil from the modern mind, secular liberals have ended up constructing another version of demonology

The efforts of believers to explain why God permits abominable suffering and injustice have produced nothing that is convincing; but at least believers have admitted that the ways of the Deity are mysterious. Even though he ended up accepting the divine will, the questions that Job put to God were never answered. Despite all his efforts to find a solution, Augustine confessed that human reason was not equal to the task. In contrast, when secular liberals try to account for evil in rational terms, the result is a more primitive version of Manichean myth. When humankind proves resistant to improvement, it is because forces of darkness – wicked priests, demagogic politicians, predatory corporations and the like – are working to thwart the universal struggle for freedom and enlightenment. There is a lesson here. Sooner or later anyone who believes in innate human goodness is bound to reinvent the idea of evil in a cruder form. Aiming to exorcise evil from the modern mind, secular liberals have ended up constructing another version of demonology, in which anything that stands out against what is believed to be the rational course of human development is anathematised.

The view that evil is essentially banal, presented by Hannah Arendt in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), is another version of the modern evasion of evil. Arendt suggested that human beings commit atrocities from a kind of stupidity, falling into a condition of thoughtlessness in which they collude in practices that inflict atrocious suffering on other human beings. It was some such moral inertia, Arendt maintained, that enabled Eichmann to take a leading part in perpetrating the Holocaust. Arendt’s theory of the banality of evil tends to support the defence of his actions that Eichmann presented at his trial: he had no choice in doing what he did. She represented Eichmann as a colourless bureaucrat performing a well-defined function in an impersonal bureaucratic machine; but the Nazi state was in fact largely chaotic, with different institutions, departments of government and individuals competing for Hitler’s favour. Careful historical research of the kind that David Cesarani undertook in his book Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (2004) suggests that Eichmann was not a passive tool of the state, but chose to serve it. When he organised the deportation and mass murder of Jews, he wasn’t simply furthering his career in the Nazi hierarchy. What he did reflected his deep-seated antisemitism. Eichmann took part in the Holocaust because he wanted to do so. In this he was no different from many others, though his crimes were larger in scale.

No doubt something like the type of evil that Arendt identified is real enough. Large parts of the population in Germany went along with Nazi policies of racial persecution and genocide from motives that included social conformity and obedience to authority. The number of doctors, teachers and lawyers who refused to implement Nazi policies was vanishingly small. But again, this wasn’t only passive obedience. Until it became clear that Hitler’s war might be lost, Nazism was extremely popular. As the great American journalist William Shirer reported in his eyewitness account of the rise of Hitler, The Nightmare Years:

“Most Germans, so far as I could see, did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of their splendid culture was being destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism, or that their life and work were being regimented to a degree never before experienced even by a people accustomed for generations to a great deal of regimentation … On the whole, people did not seem to feel that they were being cowed and held down by an unscrupulous tyranny. On the contrary, they appeared to support it with genuine enthusiasm.”

When large populations of human beings collude with repressive regimes it need not be from thoughtlessness or inertia. Liberal meliorists like to think that human life contains many things that are bad, some of which may never be entirely eliminated; but there is nothing that is intrinsically destructive or malevolent in human beings themselves – nothing, in other words, that corresponds to a traditional idea of evil. But another view is possible, and one that need make no call on theology.

What has been described as evil in the past can be understood as a natural tendency to animosity and destruction, co-existing in human beings alongside tendencies to sympathy and cooperation. This was the view put forward by Sigmund Freud in a celebrated exchange of letters with Albert Einstein in 1931-32. Einstein had asked: “Is it possible to control man’s mental evolution so as to make him proof against the psychosis of hate and destructiveness?” Freud replied that “there is no likelihood of our being able to suppress humanity’s aggressive tendencies”.

Freud suggested that human beings were ruled by impulses or instincts, eros and thanatos, impelling them towards life and creation or destruction and death. He cautioned against thinking that these forces embodied good and evil in any simple way. Whether they worked together or in opposition, both were necessary. Even so, Freud was clear that a major threat to anything that might be called a good life came from within human beings. The fragility of civilisation reflected the divided nature of the human animal itself.
The crowd at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin raise their hands in the Nazi salute in tribute to Hitler’s arrival at the stadium.
The crowd at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin salute Hitler’s arrival at the stadium. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

One need not subscribe to Freud’s theory (which in the same letter he describes as a type of mythology) to think he was on to something here. Rather than psychoanalysis, it may be some version of evolutionary psychology that can best illuminate the human proclivity to hatred and destruction. The point is that destructive behaviour of this kind flows from inherent human flaws. Crucially, these defects are not only or even mainly intellectual. No advance in human knowledge can stop humans attacking and persecuting others. Poisonous ideologies like Nazi “scientific racism” justify such behaviour. But these ideologies are not just erroneous theories that can be discarded when their falsehood has been demonstrated. Ideas of similar kinds recur whenever societies are threatened by severe and continuing hardship. At present, antisemitism and ethnic nationalism, along with hatred of gay people, immigrants and other minorities, are re-emerging across much of the continent. Toxic ideologies express and reinforce responses to social conflict that are generically human.

Mass support for despotic regimes has many sources. Without the economic upheavals that ruined much of the German middle class, the Nazis might well have remained a fringe movement. Undoubtedly there were many who looked to the Nazi regime for protection against economic insecurity. But it is a mistake to suppose that when people turn to tyrants, they do so despite the crimes that tyrants commit. Large numbers have admired tyrannical regimes and actively endorsed their crimes. If Nazism had not existed, something like it would surely have been invented in the chaos of interwar Europe.
* * *

When the west aligned itself with the USSR in the second world war, it was choosing the lesser of two evils – both of them evils of a radical kind. This was the view of Winston Churchill, who famously said he would “sup with the devil” if doing so would help destroy “that evil man” Hitler. Churchill’s candid recognition of the nature of the choice he made is testimony to how shallow the discourse of evil has since become. Today, no western politician could admit to making such a decision.

In his profound study On Compromise and Rotten Compromises, the Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit distinguishes between regimes that rest on cruelty and humiliation, as many have done throughout history, and those that go further by excluding some human beings altogether from moral concern. Describing the latter as radically evil, he argues that Nazi Germany falls into this category. The distinction Margalit draws is not a quantitative one based on the numbers of victims, but categorical: Nazi racism created an immutable hierarchy in which there could be no common moral bonds. Margalit goes on to argue – surely rightly – that in allying itself with the Soviet Union in the struggle against Nazism, the west was making a necessary and justified moral compromise. But this was not because the Nazis were the greater evil, he suggests. For all its oppression, the Soviet Union offered a vision of the future that included all of humankind. Viewing most of the species as less than human, Nazism rejected morality itself.

There should be no doubt that the Nazis are in a class by themselves. No other regime has launched a project of systematic extermination that is comparable. From the beginning of the Soviet system there were some camps from which it was difficult to emerge alive. Yet at no time was there anything in the Soviet gulag akin to the Nazi death camps that operated at Sobibor and Treblinka. Contrary to some in post-communist countries who try to deny the fact, the Holocaust remains a unique crime. Judged by Margalit’s formula, however, the Soviet Union was also implicated in radical evil. The Soviet state implemented a policy of exclusion from society of “former persons” – a group that included those who lived off unearned income, clergy of all religions and tsarist functionaries – who were denied civic rights, prohibited from seeking public office and restricted in their access to the rationing system. Many died of starvation or were consigned to camps where they perished from overwork, undernourishment and brutal treatment.

Considered as a broad moral category, what Margalit defines as radical evil is not uncommon. The colonial genocide of the Herero people in German South-West Africa (now Namibia) at the start of the 20th century was implemented against a background of ersatz-scientific racist ideology that denied the humanity of Africans. (The genocide included the use of Hereros as subjects of medical experiments, conducted by doctors some of whom returned to Germany to teach physicians later implicated in experiments on prisoners in Nazi camps.) The institution of slavery in antebellum America and South African apartheid rested on a similar denial. A refusal of moral standing to some of those they rule is a feature of societies of widely different varieties in many times and places. In one form or another, denying the shared humanity of others seems to be a universal human trait.
An Islamic State fighter in Raqqa, Iraq. An Islamic State fighter in Raqqa, Syria. Photograph: Reuters

Describing Isis’s behaviour as “psychopathic”, as David Cameron has done, represents the group as being more humanly aberrant than the record allows. Aside from the fact that it publicises them on the internet, Isis’s atrocities are not greatly different from those that have been committed in many other situations of acute conflict. To cite only a few of the more recent examples, murder of hostages, mass killings and systematic rape have been used as methods of warfare in the former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Rwanda, and the Congo.

A campaign of mass murder is never simply an expression of psychopathic aggression. In the case of Isis, the ideology of Wahhabism has played an important role. Ever since the 1920s, the rulers of the Saudi kingdom have promoted this 18th-century brand of highly repressive and exclusionary Sunni Islam as part of the project of legitimating the Saudi state. More recently, Saudi sponsorship of Wahhabi ideology has been a response to the threat posed by the rise of Shia Iran. If the ungoverned space in which Isis operates has been created by the west’s exercises in regime change, the group’s advances are also a byproduct of the struggle for hegemony between Iran and the Saudis. In such conditions of intense geopolitical rivalry there can be no effective government in Iraq, no end to the Syrian civil war and no meaningful regional coalition against the self-styled caliphate.

But the rise of Isis is also part of a war of religion. Nothing is more commonplace than the assertion that religion is a tool of power, which ruling elites use to control the people. No doubt that’s often true. But a contrary view is also true: politics may be a continuation of religion by other means. In Europe religion was a primary force in politics for many centuries. When religion seemed to be in retreat, it renewed itself in political creeds – Jacobinism, nationalism and varieties of totalitarianism – that were partly religious in nature. Something similar is happening in the Middle East. Fuelled by movements that combine radical fundamentalism with elements borrowed from secular ideologies such as Leninism and fascism, conflict between Shia and Sunni communities looks set to continue for generations to come. Even if Isis is defeated, it will not be the last movement of its kind. Along with war, religion is not declining, but continuously mutating into hybrid forms.
Iraqi Yazidis Iraqi Yazidis, who fled an Islamic State attack on Sinjar, gather to collect bottles of water at the Bajid Kandala camp in Kurdistan’s western Dohuk province. Photograph: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

Western intervention in the Middle East has been guided by a view of the world that itself has some of the functions of religion. There is no factual basis for thinking that something like the democratic nation-state provides a model on which the region could be remade. States of this kind emerged in modern Europe, after much bloodshed, but their future is far from assured and they are not the goal or end-point of modern political development. From an empirical viewpoint, any endpoint can only be an act of faith. All that can be observed is a succession of political experiments whose outcomes are highly contingent. Launched in circumstances in which states constructed under the aegis of western colonialism have broken down under the impact of more recent western intervention, the gruesome tyranny established by Isis will go down in history as one of these experiments.

The weakness of faith-based liberalism is that it contains nothing that helps in the choices that must be made between different kinds and degrees of evil. Given the west’s role in bringing about the anarchy in which the Yazidis, the Kurds and other communities face a deadly threat, non-intervention is a morally compromised option. If sufficient resources are available – something that cannot be taken for granted – military action may be justified. But it is hard to see how there can be lasting peace in territories where there is no functioning state. Our leaders have helped create a situation that their view of the world claims cannot exist: an intractable conflict in which there are no good outcomes. •

Vladimir Putin Speech–Valdai International Discussion Club’s XI session

Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club

president of russia

Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s XI session. The meeting’s theme is The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules.

This year, 108 experts, historians and political analysts from 25 countries, including 62 foreign participants, took part in the club’s work.

  the Presidential Press and Information Office At meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. October 24, 2014

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the XI meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.

I hope that these changes in organisation and content will bolster the club’s influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the ‘Valdai spirit’ will remain – this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.

Let me say in this respect that I will also not let you down and will speak directly and frankly. Some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting in this way. It would be better in that case just to keep to diplomatic get-togethers, where no one says anything of real sense and, recalling the words of one famous diplomat, you realise that diplomats have tongues so as not to speak the truth.

We get together for other reasons. We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.

Today’s discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.

Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion’s participants have already said. It’s practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants’ views on some points and differ on others.

As we analyse today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons. First of all, changes in the world order – and what we are seeing today are events on this scale – have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.

The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.

Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system’s ‘founding fathers’ had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.

The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world’s current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.

It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.

What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations.

But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.

The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.

Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group’s ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.

The very notion of ‘national sovereignty’ became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world’s sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime’s legitimacy.

We will have a free discussion afterwards and I will be happy to answer your questions and would also like to use my right to ask you questions. Let someone try to disprove the arguments that I just set out during the upcoming discussion.

The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times. They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of ‘supra-legal’ legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or toppling inconvenient regimes. Of late, we have increasing evidence too that outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders. It is not for nothing that ‘big brother’ is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.

Let’s ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States’ exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?

Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.

A unilateral diktat and imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.

Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.

They once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists’ invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region’s countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.

During my conversations with American and European leaders, I always spoke of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces using double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists.

Only the current Egyptian leadership’s determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?

As for financing sources, today, the money is coming not just from drugs, production of which has increased not just by a few percentage points but many-fold, since the international coalition forces have been present in Afghanistan. You are aware of this. The terrorists are getting money from selling oil too. Oil is produced in territory controlled by the terrorists, who sell it at dumping prices, produce it and transport it. But someone buys this oil, resells it, and makes a profit from it, not thinking about the fact that they are thus financing terrorists who could come sooner or later to their own soil and sow destruction in their own countries.

Where do they get new recruits? In Iraq, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the state’s institutions, including the army, were left in ruins. We said back then, be very, very careful. You are driving people out into the street, and what will they do there? Don’t forget (rightfully or not) that they were in the leadership of a large regional power, and what are you now turning them into?

What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels’ ranks. Perhaps this is what explains why the Islamic State group has turned out so effective? In military terms, it is acting very effectively and has some very professional people. Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states’ affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals. We insisted on having the groups fighting the central Syrian government, above all the Islamic State, included on the lists of terrorist organisations. But did we see any results? We appealed in vain.

We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created, and pay an ever-greater price.

Colleagues, this period of unipolar domination has convincingly demonstrated that having only one power centre does not make global processes more manageable. On the contrary, this kind of unstable construction has shown its inability to fight the real threats such as regional conflicts, terrorism, drug trafficking, religious fanaticism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism. At the same time, it has opened the road wide for inflated national pride, manipulating public opinion and letting the strong bully and suppress the weak.

Essentially, the unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries. The unipolar world turned out too uncomfortable, heavy and unmanageable a burden even for the self-proclaimed leader. Comments along this line were made here just before and I fully agree with this. This is why we see attempts at this new historic stage to recreate a semblance of a quasi-bipolar world as a convenient model for perpetuating American leadership. It does not matter who takes the place of the centre of evil in American propaganda, the USSR’s old place as the main adversary. It could be Iran, as a country seeking to acquire nuclear technology, China, as the world’s biggest economy, or Russia, as a nuclear superpower.

Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: “We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, the centre of evil, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course.” In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US’] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.

But these attempts are increasingly divorced from reality and are in contradiction with the world’s diversity. Steps of this kind inevitably create confrontation and countermeasures and have the opposite effect to the hoped-for goals. We see what happens when politics rashly starts meddling in the economy and the logic of rational decisions gives way to the logic of confrontation that only hurt one’s own economic positions and interests, including national business interests.

Joint economic projects and mutual investment objectively bring countries closer together and help to smooth out current problems in relations between states. But today, the global business community faces unprecedented pressure from Western governments. What business, economic expediency and pragmatism can we speak of when we hear slogans such as “the homeland is in danger”, “the free world is under threat”, and “democracy is in jeopardy”? And so everyone needs to mobilise. That is what a real mobilisation policy looks like.

Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property. They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalisation based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries. And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalisation. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary? After all, the United States’ prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities. This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalisation are visible now in many countries.

The well-known Cyprus precedent and the politically motivated sanctions have only strengthened the trend towards seeking to bolster economic and financial sovereignty and countries’ or their regional groups’ desire to find ways of protecting themselves from the risks of outside pressure. We already see that more and more countries are looking for ways to become less dependent on the dollar and are setting up alternative financial and payments systems and reserve currencies. I think that our American friends are quite simply cutting the branch they are sitting on. You cannot mix politics and the economy, but this is what is happening now. I have always thought and still think today that politically motivated sanctions were a mistake that will harm everyone, but I am sure that we will come back to this subject later.

We know how these decisions were taken and who was applying the pressure. But let me stress that Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone’s door. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation. Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.

Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today. We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky. We are always open to dialogue, including on normalising our economic and political relations. We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and position of business communities in the leading countries.

Some are saying today that Russia is supposedly turning its back on Europe – such words were probably spoken already here too during the discussions – and is looking for new business partners, above all in Asia. Let me say that this is absolutely not the case. Our active policy in the Asian-Pacific region began not just yesterday and not in response to sanctions, but is a policy that we have been following for a good many years now. Like many other countries, including Western countries, we saw that Asia is playing an ever greater role in the world, in the economy and in politics, and there is simply no way we can afford to overlook these developments.

Let me say again that everyone is doing this, and we will do so to, all the more so as a large part of our country is geographically in Asia. Why should we not make use of our competitive advantages in this area? It would be extremely shortsighted not to do so.

Developing economic ties with these countries and carrying out joint integration projects also creates big incentives for our domestic development. Today’s demographic, economic and cultural trends all suggest that dependence on a sole superpower will objectively decrease. This is something that European and American experts have been talking and writing about too.

Perhaps developments in global politics will mirror the developments we are seeing in the global economy, namely, intensive competition for specific niches and frequent change of leaders in specific areas. This is entirely possible.

There is no doubt that humanitarian factors such as education, science, healthcare and culture are playing a greater role in global competition. This also has a big impact on international relations, including because this ‘soft power’ resource will depend to a great extent on real achievements in developing human capital rather than on sophisticated propaganda tricks.

At the same time, the formation of a so-called polycentric world (I would also like to draw attention to this, colleagues) in and of itself does not improve stability; in fact, it is more likely to be the opposite. The goal of reaching global equilibrium is turning into a fairly difficult puzzle, an equation with many unknowns.

So, what is in store for us if we choose not to live by the rules – even if they may be strict and inconvenient – but rather live without any rules at all? And that scenario is entirely possible; we cannot rule it out, given the tensions in the global situation. Many predictions can already be made, taking into account current trends, and unfortunately, they are not optimistic. If we do not create a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements, if we do not build the mechanisms for managing and resolving crisis situations, the symptoms of global anarchy will inevitably grow.

Today, we already see a sharp increase in the likelihood of a whole set of violent conflicts with either direct or indirect participation by the world’s major powers. And the risk factors include not just traditional multinational conflicts, but also the internal instability in separate states, especially when we talk about nations located at the intersections of major states’ geopolitical interests, or on the border of cultural, historical, and economic civilizational continents.

Ukraine, which I’m sure was discussed at length and which we will discuss some more, is one of the example of such sorts of conflicts that affect international power balance, and I think it will certainly not be the last. From here emanates the next real threat of destroying the current system of arms control agreements. And this dangerous process was launched by the United States of America when it unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, and then set about and continues today to actively pursue the creation of its global missile defense system.

Colleagues, friends,

I want to point out that we did not start this. Once again, we are sliding into the times when, instead of the balance of interests and mutual guarantees, it is fear and the balance of mutual destruction that prevent nations from engaging in direct conflict. In absence of legal and political instruments, arms are once again becoming the focal point of the global agenda; they are used wherever and however, without any UN Security Council sanctions. And if the Security Council refuses to produce such decisions, then it is immediately declared to be an outdated and ineffective instrument.

Many states do not see any other ways of ensuring their sovereignty but to obtain their own bombs. This is extremely dangerous. We insist on continuing talks; we are not only in favour of talks, but insist on continuing talks to reduce nuclear arsenals. The less nuclear weapons we have in the world, the better. And we are ready for the most serious, concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament – but only serious discussions without any double standards.

To be continued.

Syria–Turkey, Saudi Arabia giving WMDs to ‘terrorists’

Thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani, Syria

Thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani, Syria, as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State militants Photo by AP

Syria: Turkey, Saudi Arabia giving WMDs to ‘terrorists’

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Turkey financing and supplying arms to more than 100 militant groups, Syria’s UN envoy says.

 

Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations has accused Turkey and Saudi Arabia of supplying chemical weapons to “terrorist organizations” operating in his country.

Bashar al-Jaafari told a UN committee last week that Turkey and Saudi Arabia should examine their own involvement in the Syrian conflict before making “null and baseless accusations [against] the Syrian government,” Syrian and Iranian news outlets reported.

Jaafari said the two countries are “directly involved in providing these terrorist organizations with chemical weapons.”

He also said they help finance groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, and singled out Turkey for supporting more than 100 militant organizations active in Syria.

Instead of lending “a helping hand to Syria to overcome the crisis…this Turkish government…became one of the main support bases for these terrorist organizations,” Jaafari said, according to Syria’s official news agency, SANA.

He called for all countries that arm militant groups in Syria to be held accountable according to international resolutions.

Jaafari’s remarks come after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden reportedly criticized Turkey earlier this month for allowing militants to cross the border into Syria.

Biden later apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth” of militant groups involved in the Syrian civil war, the White House said in a statement.

Kurds In Kobani Deny Reports of FSA Reinforcement from Turkey

Kurds reject Erdogan report of deal with Syrian rebels to aid besieged Kobani

Reuters

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 24, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 24, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

 

(Reuters) – A senior Syrian Kurdish official on Friday rejected a report from Turkey’s president that Syrian Kurds had agreed to let Free Syrian Army fighters enter the border town of Kobani to help them push back besieging Islamic State insurgents.

The Free Syrian Army is a term used to describe dozens of armed groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad but with little or no central command. They have been widely outgunned by Islamist insurgents such as Islamic State.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is a leading opponent of Assad and has allowed his more secular, Western-backed opponents such as FSA fighters to use Turkey as a base and sanctuary.

Erdogan said on Friday said 1,300 FSA fighters would enter Kobani after the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) agreed on their passage, but his comments were swiftly denied by Saleh Moslem, co-chair of the PYD.

“We have already established a connection with FSA but no such agreement has been reached yet as Mr. Erdogan has mentioned,” Moslem told Reuters by telephone from Brussels.

Turkey’s unwillingness to send its powerful army across the Syrian border to break the siege of Kobani has angered Kurds, and seems rooted in a concern not to strengthen Kurds who seek autonomy in adjoining regions of Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

Ankara’s stance has also upset Western allies, as Islamic State’s capture of wide swathes of Syria and Iraq has caused international shock and U.S.-led air strikes began in August to try to halt and eventually reverse the jihadist advance.

Erdogan told a news conference on a visit to Estonia that Ankara was working on details of the route of passage for the FSA fighters, indicating they would access Kobani via Turkey.

But Moslem said talks between FSA commander Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi and the armed wing of the Kurdish PYD were continuing about the possible role of FSA rebels. “There are already groups with links to the FSA in Kobani helping us,” he said.

The FSA, however, is little more than an acronym used to describe dozens of tenuously affiliated rebel groups who complain of a lack of arms and resources leaving them unable to effectively confront Assad and better-armed Islamist rebels.

Moslem said the FSA would be more helpful if it opened a second front against Islamic State elsewhere in Syria. “Politically we have no objections to FSA….But in my opinion, if they really would like to help, then their forces should open another front, such as from Tel Abyad or Jarablus,” he said.

He was referring to two nearby Syrian border towns captured by Islamic State as part of its lightning military campaign in which it has beheaded or crucified prisoners, massacred non-Sunni Muslim civilians in its path and declared a mediaeval-style caliphate spanning eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq.

FSA commander Al-Oqaidi, speaking to Reuters in Suruc, a Turkish border town across from Kobani, said there had been an agreement to begin establishing a united defense force and initially 1,350 FSA fighters were to go to Kobani for help.

“These fighters will come in two or three days,” he said.

“The fighters will come from the northern Syrian countryside. These fighters are not coming from the fighting fronts against the Assad regime. These are reserve fighters.”

U.S. officials said on Thursday that Kobani, nestled in a valley overlooked by Turkish territory, seemed in less danger of falling to Islamic State after coalition air strikes and limited arms drops, but the threat remained.

Turkey has been loath to join the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State but, after mounting pressure from its Western allies, Erdogan said on Wednesday that some Kurdish peshmerga fighters from Iraq would be allowed to transit Turkey to Kobani.

CREDIBILITY TEST

Although Turkish and U.S. officials acknowledge Kobani itself is not especially strategically important, the fate of the town has become a credibility test of the international coalition’s response to Islamic State.

Over the weekend, U.S. warplanes air-dropped small arms to Kobani’s defenders, against the wishes of Turkish authorities who have described them as terrorists because of their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long separatist insurgency in Turkey.

The PYD’s Moslem said he was disappointed with Turkey’s response so far. “When I conducted my meetings in Turkey, I was hoping the help would come in 24 hours. It’s been more than a month and we’re still waiting,” he said.

In a separate interview published in a pan-Arab newspaper, Moslem said that the battle for Kobani would turn into a war of attrition unless Kurds obtained arms that can repel tanks and armored vehicles.

He told Asharq al-Awsat that Kurds had recently received information that Islamic State wanted to fire chemical weapons into Kobani using mortars, after having surrounded it with around 40 tanks.

“If we were to receive qualitative (stronger) weapons, we would be able to hit the tanks and armored vehicles that they use – we may be able to bring a qualitative change in the battle,” Moslem said.

The FSA’s al-Oqaidi echoed Moslem’s call for better weapons, saying that FSA fighters had only light arms. “Our main problem is not numbers of the fighters but the quality of weapons…The fighters in Kobani need good quality weapons too.”

Elsewhere in Syria’s civil war, government forces retook a town on the highway linking Hama and Aleppo cities in the west of the country after months of battles with insurgents, Damascus state television and a monitoring group said.

The recapture of Morek, 30 km (19 miles) north of Hama, is part of Assad’s campaign to shore up control of territory in the west stretching north from Damascus while U.S.-led forces bomb Islamist militants in the north and east.

(Additional reporting by Dasha Afanasieva in Suruc, Turkey, Ece Toksabay and Jonny Hogg in Istanbul, Tom Perry in Beirut; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

China Creates International Development Bank, To Compete with World Bank

China devel bank

President Xi Jinping of China met with government officials on Friday to sign a memorandum to start the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Takaki Yajima-Pool/Getty Images

China Signs Agreement With 20 Other Nations to Establish International Development Bank

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BEIJING — China and 20 other countries signed a memorandum Friday agreeing to start an international development bank that Beijing hopes will rival organizations like the World Bank. But some important Asian economies refrained from joining the project, which the United States has been quietly lobbying against.

Japan, Australia, South Korea and Indonesia were not represented at the signing ceremony in Beijing for the bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. India did join the bank, as did Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, news agencies reported.

The development bank, proposed a year ago by President Xi Jinping of China, is to offer financing for infrastructure projects in underdeveloped countries across Asia. China, which has promised to contribute much of the initial $50 billion in capital, sees it as a way to increase its influence in the region after years of fruitless lobbying for more say in other multinational lending organizations.

But the United States has campaigned against the project with allies like Australia and South Korea, characterizing it as an attempt to undercut the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which are dominated by the United States and Japan.

Mr. Xi, meeting with representatives of the founding members following the signing ceremony, said that the new bank “will help to improve global financial governance,” according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.

He also said that all countries were welcome to join the bank, which should work together with existing multilateral organizations, Xinhua reported.

Australia has yet to make a final decision on joining the bank, Gemma Daley, a spokeswoman for Joe Hockey, the Australian treasurer, said Friday. The South Korean finance minister, Choi Kyung-hwan, said earlier this week that Seoul was willing to participate if certain conditions were met, such as a commitment to meet international standards on issues like the environmental impact of projects funded by the bank. “If such issues are resolved, there will be no reason for us not to join” the bank, Mr. Choi said Wednesday.

Still, the countries’ absence Friday was a blow to the project.

Chinese officials have said that the bank is designed to complement existing lending organizations, not to compete with them. In March, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said the bank would “mainly focus on infrastructure construction,” whereas the World Bank and Asian Development Bank “put their priorities more on poverty reduction.”

The Asian Development Bank’s president, Takehiko Nakao, disputed that Thursday. “There’s a misunderstanding that the A.D.B. is for poverty reduction and the A.I.I.B. is for infrastructure, but the majority of our banking is to infrastructure,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

Mr. Lou, the finance minister, said at the Friday ceremony that the bank’s headquarters would be in Beijing.

China already directly finances many infrastructure projects in the developing world, and many Chinese analysts see the bank as a sensible next step.

Wang Yong, director of Peking University’s Center for International Political Economy Research, said it was “very natural” for China to work with other countries to “fill the investment gap in infrastructure,” which he called “tremendous.” The Asian Development Bank estimated in 2009 that the region would need about $8 trillion in infrastructure investment by 2020.

Mr. Wang said that the United States and some of its allies were concerned “for understandable reasons” about “the increasing influence of China in the Asia Pacific.”

Zha Daojiong, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said projects funded by the bank could be less prone to corruption than ones financed directly by China.

“Good old-fashioned aid, with China doing everything by itself, meaning Chinese money, Chinese companies, Chinese construction materials and even Chinese workers — frankly speaking, that is an invitation to malpractice and outright corruption,” Mr. Zha said.

Capitalism–The Zombie System

The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails

der spiegel

By Michael Sauga

Photo Gallery: The Deline of Capitalism?
Six years after the Lehman disaster, the industrialized world is suffering from Japan Syndrome. Growth is minimal, another crash may be brewing and the gulf between rich and poor continues to widen. Can the global economy reinvent itself?

A new buzzword is circulating in the world’s convention centers and auditoriums. It can be heard at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. Bankers sprinkle it into the presentations; politicians use it leave an impression on discussion panels.

ANZEIGE

The buzzword is “inclusion” and it refers to a trait that Western industrialized nations seem to be on the verge of losing: the ability to allow as many layers of society as possible to benefit from economic advancement and participate in political life.The term is now even being used at meetings of a more exclusive character, as was the case in London in May. Some 250 wealthy and extremely wealthy individuals, from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to Unilever CEO Paul Polman, gathered in a venerable castle on the Thames River to lament the fact that in today’s capitalism, there is too little left over for the lower income classes. Former US President Bill Clinton found fault with the “uneven distribution of opportunity,” while IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde was critical of the numerous financial scandals. The hostess of the meeting, investor and bank heir Lynn Forester de Rothschild, said she was concerned about social cohesion, noting that citizens had “lost confidence in their governments.”

It isn’t necessary, of course, to attend the London conference on “inclusive capitalism” to realize that industrialized countries have a problem. When the Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago, the West’s liberal economic and social order seemed on the verge of an unstoppable march of triumph. Communism had failed, politicians worldwide were singing the praises of deregulated markets and US political scientist Francis Fukuyama was invoking the “end of history.”

Today, no one talks anymore about the beneficial effects of unimpeded capital movement. Today’s issue is “secular stagnation,” as former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers puts it. The American economy isn’t growing even half as quickly as did in the 1990s. Japan has become the sick man of Asia. And Europe is sinking into a recession that has begun to slow down the German export machine and threaten prosperity.

Capitalism in the 21st century is a capitalism of uncertainty, as became evident once again last week. All it took were a few disappointing US trade figures and suddenly markets plunged worldwide, from the American bond market to crude oil trading. It seemed only fitting that the turbulence also affected the bonds of the country that has long been seen as an indicator of jitters: Greece. The financial papers called it a “flash crash.”

Running Out of Ammunition

Politicians and business leaders everywhere are now calling for new growth initiatives, but the governments’ arsenals are empty. The billions spent on economic stimulus packages following the financial crisis have created mountains of debt in most industrialized countries and they now lack funds for new spending programs.

Central banks are also running out of ammunition. They have pushed interest rates close to zero and have spent hundreds of billions to buy government bonds. Yet the vast amounts of money they are pumping into the financial sector isn’t making its way into the economy.

Be it in Japan, Europe or the United States, companies are hardly investing in new machinery or factories anymore. Instead, prices are exploding on the global stock, real estate and bond markets, a dangerous boom driven by cheap money, not by sustainable growth. Experts with the Bank for International Settlements have already identified “worrisome signs” of an impending crash in many areas. In addition to creating new risks, the West’s crisis policy is also exacerbating conflicts in the industrialized nations themselves. While workers’ wages are stagnating and traditional savings accounts are yielding almost nothing, the wealthier classes — those that derive most of their income by allowing their money to work for them — are profiting handsomely.

According to the latest Global Wealth Report by the Boston Consulting Group, worldwide private wealth grew by about 15 percent last year, almost twice as fast as in the 12 months previous.

The data expose a dangerous malfunction in capitalism’s engine room. Banks, mutual funds and investment firms used to ensure that citizens’ savings were transformed into technical advances, growth and new jobs. Today they organize the redistribution of social wealth from the bottom to the top. The middle class has also been negatively affected: For years, many average earners have seen their prosperity shrinking instead of growing.

Harvard economist Larry Katz rails that US society has come to resemble a deformed and unstable apartment building: The penthouse at the top is getting bigger and bigger, the lower levels are overcrowded, the middle levels are full of empty apartments and the elevator has stopped working.

‘Wider and Wider’

It’s no wonder, then, that people can no longer get much out of the system. According to polls by the Allensbach Institute, only one in five Germans believes economic conditions in Germany are “fair.” Almost 90 percent feel that the gap between rich and poor is “getting wider and wider.”

In this sense, the crisis of capitalism has turned into a crisis of democracy. Many feel that their countries are no longer being governed by parliaments and legislatures, but by bank lobbyists, which apply the logic of suicide bombers to secure their privileges: Either they are rescued or they drag the entire sector to its death.

It isn’t surprising that this situation reinforces the arguments of leftist economists like distribution critic Thomas Piketty. But even market liberals have begun using terms like the “one-percent society” and “plutocracy.” The chief commentator of the Financial Times, Martin Wolf, calls the unleashing of the capital markets a “pact with the devil.”

They aren’t alone. Even the system’s insiders are filled with doubt. There is the bank analyst in New York who has become exasperated with banks; the business owner in Switzerland who is calling for higher taxes; the conservative Washington politician who has lost faith in the conservatives; and the private banker in Frankfurt who is at odds with Europe’s supreme monetary authority.

They all convey a deep sense of unease, and some even show a touch of rebellion.


If there is a rock star among global bank analysts, it’s Mike Mayo. The wiry financial expert loves loud ties and tightly cut suits, he can do 35 pull-ups at a time, and he likes it when people call him the “CEO killer.”

The weapons Mayo takes into battle are neatly lined up in his small office on the 15th floor of a New York skyscraper: number-heavy studies about the US banking industry, some as thick as a shoebox and often so revealing that they have enraged industry giants like former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, or Stan O’Neal in his days as the head of Merrill Lynch. Words of praise from Mayo are met with cheers on the exchanges, but when he says sell, it can send prices tumbling.

Mayo isn’t interested in a particular sector but rather the core of the Western economic system. Karl Marx called banks “the most artificial and most developed product turned out by the capitalist mode of production.” For Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, they were guarantors of progress, which he described as “creative destruction.”

But financial institutions haven’t performed this function in a long time. Before the financial crisis, they were the drivers of the untenable expansion of debt that caused the crash. Now, focused as they are on repairing the damage done, they are inhibiting the recovery. The amount of credit ought to be “six times faster than it has been,” says Mayo. “Banks now aren’t the engines of growth anymore.”Mayo’s words reflect the experience of his 25 years in the industry, a career that sometimes sounds like a plot thought up by John Grisham: the young hero faces off against a mafia-like system.

He was in his late 20s when he arrived on Wall Street, a place he saw as symbolic of both the economic and the moral superiority of capitalism. “I always had this impression,” says Mayo, “that the head of a bank would be the most ethical person and upstanding citizen possible.”

Obama Pushing the World To Embrace American Failure

How To Start A War, And Lose An Empire

zero hedge

CLUBORLOV

A year and a half I wrote an essay on how the US chooses to view Russia, titled The Image of the Enemy. I was living in Russia at the time, and, after observing the American anti-Russian rhetoric and the Russian reaction to it, I made some observations that seemed important at the time. It turns out that I managed to spot an important trend, but given the quick pace of developments since then, these observations are now woefully out of date, and so here is an update.

by Dmitry Orlov via Club Orlov blog,

At that time the stakes weren’t very high yet. There was much noise around a fellow named Magnitsky, a corporate lawyer-crook who got caught and died in pretrial custody. He had been holding items for some bigger Western crooks, who were, of course, never apprehended. The Americans chose to treat this as a human rights violation and responded with the so-called “Magnitsky Act” which sanctioned certain Russian individuals who were labeled as human rights violators. Russian legislators responded with the “Dima Yakovlev Bill,” named after a Russian orphan adopted by Americans who killed him by leaving him in a locked car for nine hours. This bill banned American orphan-killing fiends from adopting any more Russian orphans. It all amounted to a silly bit of melodrama.

But what a difference a year and a half has made! Ukraine, which was at that time collapsing at about the same steady pace as it had been ever since its independence two decades ago, is now truly a defunct state, with its economy in free-fall, one region gone and two more in open rebellion, much of the country terrorized by oligarch-funded death squads, and some American-anointed puppets nominally in charge but quaking in their boots about what’s coming next. Syria and Iraq, which were then at a low simmer, have since erupted into full-blown war, with large parts of both now under the control of the Islamic Caliphate, which was formed with help from the US, was armed with US-made weapons via the Iraqis. Post-Qaddafi Libya seems to be working on establishing an Islamic Caliphate of its own. Against this backdrop of profound foreign US foreign policy failure, the US recently saw it fit to accuse Russia of having troops “on NATO’s doorstep,” as if this had nothing to do with the fact that NATO has expanded east, all the way to Russia’s borders. Unsurprisingly, US–Russia relations have now reached a point where the Russians saw it fit to issue a stern warning: further Western attempts at blackmailing them may result in a nuclear confrontation.

The American behavior throughout this succession of defeats has been remarkably consistent, with the constant element being their flat refusal to deal with reality in any way, shape or form. Just as before, in Syria the Americans are ever looking for moderate, pro-Western Islamists, who want to do what the Americans want (topple the government of Bashar al Assad) but will stop short of going on to destroy all the infidel invaders they can get their hands on. The fact that such moderate, pro-Western Islamists do not seem to exist does not affect American strategy in the region in any way.

Similarly, in Ukraine, the fact that the heavy American investment in “freedom and democracy,” or “open society,” or what have you, has produced a government dominated by fascists and a civil war is, according to the Americans, just some Russian propaganda. Parading under the banner of Hitler’s Ukrainian SS division and anointing Nazi collaborators as national heroes is just not convincing enough for them. What do these Nazis have to do to prove that they are Nazis, build some ovens and roast some Jews? Just massacring people by setting fire to a building, as they did in Odessa, or shooting unarmed civilians in the back and tossing them into mass graves, as they did in Donetsk, doesn’t seem to work. The fact that many people have refused to be ruled by Nazi thugs and have successfully resisted them has caused the Americans to label them as “pro-Russian separatists.” This, in turn, was used to blame the troubles in Ukraine on Russia, and to impose sanctions on Russia. The sanctions would be reviewed if Russia were to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Trouble is, there are no Russian troops in Ukraine.

Note that this sort of behavior is nothing new. The Americans invaded Afghanistan because the Taleban would not relinquish Osama Bin Laden (who was a CIA operative) unless Americans produced evidence implicating him in 9/11—which did not exist. Americans invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein would not relinquish his weapons of mass destruction—which did not exist. They invaded Libya because Muammar Qaddafi would not relinquish official positions—which he did not hold. They were ready to invade Syria because Bashar al Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people—which he did not do. And now they imposed sanctions on Russia because Russia had destabilized and invaded Ukraine—which it did not do either. (The US did that.)

The sanctions against Russia have an additional sort of unreality to them, because they “boomerang” and hurt the West while giving the Russian government the impetus to do what it wanted to do all along. The sanctions infringed on the rights of a number of Russian businessmen and officials, who promptly yanked their money out of Western banks, pulled their children out of Western schools and universities, and did everything else they could to demonstrate that they are good patriotic Russians, not American lackeys. The sanctions affected a number of Russian energy companies, cutting them off from Western sources of technology and financing, but this will primarily hurt the earnings of Western energy companies while helping their Chinese competitors. There were even some threats to cut Russia off from the SWIFT system, which would have made it quite difficult to transfer funds between Russia and the West, but what these threats did instead was to give Russia the impetus to introduce its own RUSSWIFT system, which will include even Iran, neutralizing future American efforts at imposing financial restrictions.

The sanctions were meant to cause economic damage, but Western efforts at inflicting short-term economic damage on Russia are failing. Coupled with a significant drop in the price of oil, all of this was supposed to hurt Russia fiscally, but since the sanctions caused the Ruble to drop in tandem, the net result on Russia’s state finances is a wash. Oil prices are lower, but then, thanks in part to the sanctions, so is the Ruble, and since oil revenues are still largely in dollars, this means that Russia’s tax receipts are at roughly the same level at before. And since Russian oil companies earn dollars abroad but spend rubles domestically, their production budgets remain unaffected.

The Russians also responded by imposing some counter-sanctions, and to take some quick steps to neutralize the effect of the sanctions on them. Russia banned the import of produce from the European Union—to the horror of farmers there. Especially hurt were those EU members who are especially anti-Russian: the Baltic states, which swiftly lost a large fraction of their GDP, along with Poland. An exception is being made for Serbia, which refused to join in the sanctions. Here, the message is simple: friendships that have lasted many centuries matter; what the Americans want is not what the Americans get; and the EU is a mere piece of paper. Thus, the counter-sanctions are driving wedges between the US and the EU, and, within the EU, between Eastern Europe (which the sanctions are hurting the most) and Western Europe, and, most importantly, they drive home the simple message that the US is not Europe’s friend.

There is something else going on that is going to become more significant in the long run: Russia has taken the hint and is turning away from the West and toward the East. It is parlaying its open defiance of American attempts at world domination into trade relationships throughout the world, much of which is sick and tired of paying tribute to Washington. Russia is playing a key role in putting together an international banking system that circumvents the US dollar and the US Federal Reserve. In these efforts, over half the world’s territory and population is squarely on Russia’s side and cheering loudly. Thus, the effort to isolate Russia has produced the opposite of the intended result: it is isolating the West from the rest of the world instead.

In other ways, the sanctions are actually being helpful. The import ban on foodstuffs from EU is a positive boon to domestic agriculture while driving home a politically important point: don’t take food from the hands of those who bite you. Russia is already one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and there is no reason why it can’t become entirely self-sufficient in food. The impetus to rearm in the face of NATO encroachment on Russian borders (there are now US troops stationed in Estonia, just a short drive from Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg) is providing some needed stimulus for industrial redevelopment. This round of military spending is being planned a bit more intelligently than in the Soviet days, with eventual civilian conversion being part of the plan from the very outset. Thus, along with the world’s best jet fighters, Russia is likely to start building civilian aircraft for export and competing with Airbus and Boeing.

But this is only the beginning. The Russians seem to have finally realized to what extent the playing field has been slanted against them. They have been forced to play by Washington’s rules in two key ways: by bending to Washington’s will in order to keep their credit ratings high with the three key Western credit rating agencies, in order to secure access to Western credit; and by playing by the Western rule-book when issuing credit of their own, thus keeping domestic interest rates artificially high. The result was that US companies were able to finance their operations more cheaply, artificially making them more competitive. But now, as Russia works quickly to get out from under the US dollar, shifting trade to bilateral currency arrangements (backed by some amount of gold should trade imbalances develop) it is also looking for ways to turn the printing press to its advantage. To date, the dictat handed down from Washington has been: “We can print money all we like, but you can’t, or we will destroy you.” But this threat is ringing increasingly hollow, and Russia will no longer be using its dollar revenues to buy up US debt. One proposal currently on the table is to make it impossible to pay for Russian oil exports with anything other than rubles, by establishing two oil brokerages, one in St. Petersburg, the other, seven time zones away, in Vladivostok. Foreign oil buyers would then have to earn their petro-rubles the honest way—through bilateral trade—or, if they can’t make enough stuff that the Russians want to import, they could pay for oil with gold (while supplies last). Or the Russians could simply print rubles, and, to make sure such printing does not cause domestic inflation, they could export some inflation by playing with the oil spigot and the oil export tariffs. And if the likes of George Soros decides to attack the ruble in an effort to devalue it, Russia could defend its currency simply by printing fewer rubles for a while—no need to stockpile dollar reserves.

So far, this all seems like typical economic warfare: the Americans want to get everything they want by printing money while bombing into submission or sanctioning anyone who disobeys them, while the rest of the world attempts to resist them. But early in 2014 the situation changed. There was a US-instigated coup in Kiev, and instead of rolling over and playing dead like they were supposed to, the Russians mounted a fast and brilliantly successful campaign to regain Crimea, then successfully checkmated the junta in Kiev, preventing it from consolidating control over the remaining former Ukrainian territory by letting volunteers, weapons, equipment and humanitarian aid enter—and hundreds of thousands of refugees exit—through the strictly notional Russian-Ukrainian border, all the while avoiding direct military confrontation with NATO. Seeing all of this happening on the nightly news has awakened the Russian population from its political slumber, making it sit up and pay attention, and sending Putin’s approval rating through the roof.

The “optics” of all this, as they like to say at the White House, are rather ominous. We are coming up on the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II—a momentous occasion for Russians, who pride themselves on defeating Hitler almost single-handedly. At the same time, the US (Russia’s self-appointed arch-enemy) has taken this opportunity to reawaken and feed the monster of Nazism right on Russia’s border (inside Russia’s borders, some Russians/Ukrainians would say). This, in turn, makes the Russians remember Russia’s unique historical mission is among the nations of the world: it is to thwart all other nations’ attempts at world domination, be it Napoleonic France or Hitleresque Germany or Obamaniac America. Every century or so some nation forgets its history lessons and attacks Russia. The result is always the same: lots of corpse-studded snowdrifts, and then Russian cavalry galloping into Paris, or Russian tanks rolling into Berlin. Who knows how it will end this time around? Perhaps it will involve polite, well-armed men in green uniforms without insignia patrolling the streets of Brussels and Washington, DC. Only time will tell.

You’d think that Obama has already overplayed his hand, and should behave accordingly. His popularity at home is roughly the inverse of Putin’s, which is to say, Obama is still more popular than Ebola, but not by much. He can’t get anything at all done, no matter how pointless or futile, and his efforts to date, at home and abroad, have been pretty much a disaster. So what does this social worker turned national mascot decide to do? Well, the way the Russians see it, he has decided to declare war on Russia! In case you missed it, look up his speech before the UN General Assembly. It’s up on the White House web site. He placed Russia directly between Ebola and ISIS among the three topmost threats facing the world. Through Russian eyes his speech reads as a declaration of war.

It’s a new, mixed-mode sort of war. It’s not a total war to the death, although the US is being rather incautious by the old Cold War standards in avoiding a nuclear confrontation. It’s an information war—based on lies and unjust vilification; it’s a financial and economic war—using sanctions; it’s a political war—featuring violent overthrow of elected governments and support for hostile regimes on Russia’s borders; and it’s a military war—using ineffectual but nevertheless insulting moves such as stationing a handful of US troops in Estonia. And the goals of this war are clear: it is to undermine Russia economically, destroy it politically, dismember it geographically, and turn it into a pliant vassal state that furnishes natural resources to the West practically free of charge (with a few hand-outs to a handful of Russian oligarchs and criminal thugs who play ball). But it doesn’t look like any of that is going to happen because, you see, a lot of Russians actually get all that, and will choose leaders who will not win any popularity contests in the West but who will lead them to victory.

Given the realization that the US and Russia are, like it or not, in a state of war, no matter how opaque or muddled, people in Russia are trying to understand why this is and what it means. Obviously, the US has seen Russia as the enemy since about the time of the Revolution of 1917, if not earlier. For example, it is known that after the end of World War II America’s military planners were thinking of launching a nuclear strike against the USSR, and the only thing that held them back was the fact that they didn’t have enough bombs, meaning that Russia would have taken over all of Europe before the effects of the nuclear strikes could have deterred them from doing so (Russia had no nuclear weapons at the time, but lots of conventional forces right in the heart of Europe).

But why has war been declared now, and why was it declared by this social worker turned national misleader? Some keen observers mentioned his slogan “the audacity of hope,” and ventured to guess that this sort of “audaciousness” (which in Russian sounds a lot like “folly”) might be a key part of his character which makes him want to be the leader of the universe, like Napoleon or Hitler. Others looked up the campaign gibberish from his first presidential election (which got silly young Americans so fired up) and discovered that he had nice things to say about various cold warriors. Do you think Obama might perhaps be a scholar of history and a shrewd geopolitician in his own right? (That question usually gets a laugh, because most people know that he is just a chucklehead and repeats whatever his advisers tell him to say.) Hugo Chavez once called him “a hostage in the White House,” and he wasn’t too far off. So, why are his advisers so eager to go to war with Russia, right now, this year?

Is it because the US is collapsing more rapidly than most people can imagine? This line of reasoning goes like this: the American scheme of world domination through military aggression and unlimited money-printing is failing before our eyes. The public has no interest in any more “boots on the ground,” bombing campaigns do nothing to reign in militants that Americans themselves helped organize and equip, dollar hegemony is slipping away with each passing day, and the Federal Reserve is fresh out of magic bullets and faces a choice between crashing the stock market and crashing the bond market. In order to stop, or at least forestall this downward slide into financial/economic/political oblivion, the US must move quickly to undermine every competing economy in the world through whatever means it has left at its disposal, be it a bombing campaign, a revolution or a pandemic (although this last one can be a bit hard to keep under control). Russia is an obvious target, because it is the only country in the world that has had the gumption to actually show international leadership in confronting the US and wrestling it down; therefore, Russia must be punished first, to keep the others in line.

I don’t disagree with this line of reasoning, but I do want to add something to it.

First, the American offensive against Russia, along with most of the rest of the world, is about things Americans like to call “facts on the ground,” and these take time to create. The world wasn’t made in a day, and it can’t be destroyed in a day (unless you use nuclear weapons, but then there is no winning strategy for anyone, the US included). But the entire financial house of cards can be destroyed rather quickly, and here Russia can achieve a lot while risking little. Financially, Russia’s position is so solid that even the three Western credit ratings agencies don’t have the gall to downgrade Russia’s rating, sanctions notwithstanding. This is a country that is aggressively paying down its foreign debt, is running a record-high budget surplus, has a positive balance of payments, is piling up physical gold reserves, and not a month goes by that it doesn’t sign a major international trade deal (that circumvents the US dollar). In comparison, the US is a dead man walking: unless it can continue rolling over trillions of dollars in short-term debt every month at record-low interest rates, it won’t be able to pay the interest on its debt or its bills. Good-bye, welfare state, hello riots. Good-bye military contractors and federal law enforcement, hello mayhem and open borders. Now, changing “facts on the ground” requires physical actions, whereas causing a financial stampede to the exits just requires somebody to yell “Boo!” loudly and frighteningly enough.

Second, it must be understood that at this point the American ruling elite is almost entirely senile. The older ones seem actually senile in the medical sense. Take Leon Panetta, the former Defense Secretary: he’s been out flogging his new book, and he is still blaming Syria’s Bashar al Assad for gassing his own people! By now everybody else knows that that was a false flag attack, carried out by some clueless Syrian rebels with Saudi help, to be used as an excuse for the US to bomb Syria—you know, the old “weapons of mass destruction” nonsense again. (By the way, this kind of mindless, repetitive insistence on a fake rationale seems like a sure sign of senility.) That plan didn’t work because Putin and Lavrov intervened and quickly convinced Assad to give up his useless chemical weapons stockpile. The Americans were livid. So, everybody knows this story—except Panetta. You see, once an American official starts lying, he just doesn’t know how to stop. The story always starts with a lie, and, as facts emerge that contradict the initial story, they are simply ignored.

So much for the senile old guard, but what about their replacements? Well, the poster boy for the young ones is Hunter Biden, the VP’s son, who went on a hookers-and-blow tour of Ukraine last summer and inadvertently landed a seat on the board of directors of Ukraine’s largest natural gas company (which doesn’t have much gas left). He just got outed for being a coke fiend. In addition to the many pre-anointed ones, like the VP’s son, there are also many barns full of eagerly bleating Ivy League graduates who have been groomed for jobs in high places. These are Prof. Deresiewicz’s “Excellent Sheep.”

There just isn’t much that such people, young or old, can be made to respond to. International embarrassment, military defeat, humanitarian catastrophe—all these things just bounce off them and stick to you for bringing them up and being overly negative about their rose-colored view of themselves. The only hit they can actually feel is a hit to the pocketbook.

Which brings us all the way back to my first point: “Boo!”

Canadian Parliament Attacker was Son of Libyan Muslim Jihadist

Canadian Parliament Attacker was Son of Libyan Muslim Jihadist

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xisis-photo-shooter.jpg.pagespeed.ic.CXIdDljPAK

While Zehaf-Bibeau is still being referred to as a Muslim convert, it appears that he is the son of a mixed marriage between a Canadian woman and a Libyan father.

He was a Muslim who was raised Western, but returned to his father’s religion.

Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999.

The irony of that marriage is obvious. And its product is the story of the death of the West.

His father’s history offers a hint of what Mr. Bathurst was concerned about. In 2011, a Montrealer named “Belgasem Zahef” was quoted in a Washington Times dispatch from the front in Libya, where he had travelled to join the rebel fight. The man described being detained at the Zawiyah oil terminal, where he witnessed torture.

This story, like most mainstream media accounts, is already infested with the accounts of Bathurst, another defector to Islam, who claims that Zehaf was mentally ill. That may or may not be the case. It’s certainly a convenient excuse. Claiming that the devil is after you may be considered mental illness in Western circles, but not in Muslim ones where stoning the devil is part of the pilgrimage to Mecca.

More to the point, Zahef did not carry out an attack against the Canadian government because he was mentally ill. He did it because he followed the call of ISIS to Jihad. We might as well dismiss Hitler as mentally ill and the invasion of Poland as a mental breakdown.

There are few details on Zehaf Sr. or who he was aligned with, but considering that the Libyan Civil War was dominated by Islamist militias, it probably wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that this is a case of, like father, like son.

Chinese/Iranian Navies Working Together, Run Joint Maneuvers

[SEE:  China Cuts Back On Saudi Oil Imports]

China's Defense Minister Chang Wanquan looks on during the welcoming ceremony in Warsaw, Poland.

China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan looks on during the welcoming ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Photo by AP

China seeking closer military ties with Iran

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Earlier this week, two Chinese warships docked for the first time at Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to take part in joint naval exercises.

By Parisa Hafezi, Ben Blanchard

REUTERS – China wants to have closer military ties with Iran, the Chinese defence minister told the visiting head of the Iranian navy on Thursday, state media reported, reaffirming diplomatic links despite controversy over Iran’s nuclear plans.

Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan told Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari that the two armed forces have seen “good cooperation on mutual visits, personnel training and other fields in recent years,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

“Exchanges between the two navies have been fruitful and their warships have paid successful visits to each other,” it cited Chang as saying.

“Chang… stressed China is willing to work with Iran to further pragmatic cooperation and strengthen military-to-military ties.”

Xinhua cited Sayyari as saying Iran attached great importance to its ties with China and was “ready to enhance bilateral exchanges to push forward cooperation between the two armed forces, especially in naval cooperation.”

For the first time ever, two Chinese warships docked at Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to take part in a joint naval exercises in the Gulf, Iranian state media reported on September 20.

Naval cooperation between Iran and China is aimed at reinforcing Iran’s military capability in the Gulf, analysts say, as well as displaying China’s plan to exert greater influence and presence beyond East Asia.

“The [port] call reflects China’s military-to-military relationship with Iran,” said Christian Le Mière, a naval expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank.

“It is the most explicit sign of Beijing’s acknowledgment of this relationship, which has remained relatively covert until now.”

China’s People’s Liberation Army Daily separately reported that Sayyari had been given tours of a Chinese submarine and warships, where he “listened to an introduction on equipment ability and weapons systems.”

Sayyari said he hoped Iran and China could cooperate on anti-piracy operations, the newspaper said.

China is Iran’s top oil buyer and has been the most aggressive in raising its crude purchases after an easing of the Western sanctions aimed at ending Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.

Iran and the United States said last week they made some progress in high-level nuclear talks aimed at reaching a final resolution to the decade-old dispute but that much work remained to clinch a deal by a late-November deadline.

China, a participant at the nuclear talks with Iran, has consistently urged a negotiated solution and decried efforts to place sanctions which have not been endorsed by the United Nations on Iran.

China Cuts Back On Saudi Oil Imports

[SEE:  Saudis Wage Economic War Against Russia and Iran]

China Cuts Saudi Oil Imports Amid Colombia Shipment Boost

BLOOMBERG

China reduced oil imports from Saudi Arabia even as the world’s largest crude exporter cuts prices to lure Asian customers amid intensifying competition from Colombia to Oman.

Oil deliveries from Saudi Arabia fell 2.7 percent to 4.74 million metric tons last month from a year earlier, according to data released today by the General Administration of Customs in Beijing. Shipments from Colombia surged 389.6 percent, while Russian deliveries increased by 56.8 percent.

Asian consumers are benefiting from a wider choice of suppliers offering cheaper crude, from Venezuela to Alaska and Nigeria, as the highest U.S. production in almost 30 years cuts American demand. Saudi Arabia reduced prices for oil for Asia to the lowest in almost six years as it aims to maintain market share even as global benchmark prices have dropped about 25 percent from June.

“Chinese refiners are favoring supplies from Oman and South America over Saudi Arabia as their prices relative to output are more competitive,” Amy Sun, an analyst with Shanghai-based ICIS-C1 Energy, a consultant, said by phone from Guangzhou. “China is also increasing imports from Russia with a new contract signed last year.”

Crude supplies from Colombia cost on average $94.56 a barrel last month and Brazilian imports were $95.27, while Saudi shipments were at $102.30 a barrel, Bloomberg calculations based on customs data show. PetroChina Co.’s Liaohe plant in northern China refined about 30,000 tons of Colombian crude as of Oct. 30 for the first time, its parent China National Petroleum Corp. said in a newsletter on its website yesterday.

Price Cut

State-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. on Oct. 1 cut prices for all grades and to all regions for November. The Asian price of Arab Light was cut by $1 a barrel to a discount of $1.05 to the average of Oman and Dubai crudes, the benchmark published by Platts, the energy-information division of McGraw-Hill Cos.

China Petroleum, Asia’s biggest refiner known as Sinopec, said it completed the expansion of its northern Shijiazhuang plant on Sept. 4, almost doubling the capacity to 8 million tons a year.

“Chinese refiners are also upgrading their facilities so that they can process heavier crude and cut the oil costs,” Sun said.

China trails only the U.S. in oil demand globally, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris. The Asian nation will import as much as 26 million tons a month of crude in the fourth quarter, forecasts ICIS-C1.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jing Yang in Shanghai at jyang251@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pratish Narayanan at pnarayanan9@bloomberg.net Aaron Clark

Canadian Parliament Attack–update

Canada’s parliament attacked near where prime minister was speaking, Harper safe

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(Reuters) – At least one gunman entered Canada’s parliament buildings on Wednesday and many shots were fired just outside the room where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was addressing a meeting of legislators.

Harper was safely removed from the building but parliament was locked down. Eyewitnesses said at least 30 shots were fired in dramatic scenes in the heart of the Canadian capital.

“PM (Harper) was addressing caucus, then a huge boom, followed by rat-a-tat shots. We all scattered. It was clearly right outside our caucus door,” Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement said.

A spokesman for Harper said: “While the prime minister stated that facts are still being gathered, he condemned this despicable attack.”

The suspected gunman was shot dead inside the parliament building, Ottawa police said.

Minutes before the shooting there, a soldier had been shot and fatally wounded at the nearby National War Memorial in Ottawa.

But the incidents, shocking in Canada’s normally tranquil capital, were not over.

Ottawa police were searching for more suspects near the war memorial in central Ottawa, and on nearby Parliament Hill, a police spokesman said. Residents were warned to stay away from downtown Ottawa.

Dramatic video footage posted by the Globe and Mail newspaper showed police with guns drawn inside the main parliament building. At least a dozen loud bangs can be heard on the clip, echoing through the hallway.

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, a former policeman, told the Toronto Sun that parliament’s head of security, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, shot dead a suspected gunman.

“All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this,” Fantino said.

Canadian cabinet minister Jason Kenney said a guard in parliament buildings had also been wounded in the incident.

‘DANGER HERE’

There was no word yet on the identity of any suspect or suspects or of any motive for the shooting.

It was also unclear whether there was any connection to an attack on Monday when an Islamic convert ran down two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal, before being shot dead by police in the first fatal attack on Canadian soil tied to Islamic militants.

Canada announced this month it was joining the battle against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

The attacks took place as the Canadian government prepared to boost the powers of its spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney said last Thursday the new legislation would let the agency track and investigate potential terrorists when they travel abroad and ultimately prosecute them.

As the drama in Ottawa unfolded, police in dark bulletproof vests and carrying automatic rifles flooded the streets near parliament.

Some took cover behind vehicles and shouted to people to clear the area, saying: “We do not have the suspect in custody. You are in danger here.”

Police quickly cleared several blocks of downtown Ottawa. By noon ET (1600 GMT), the streets were empty.

Several police cars were parked on the lawns outside the parliament buildings. Small groups of police could be seen sheltering behind at least two cars.

Members of parliament were told to lock or barricade themselves in their offices, and stay away from the windows.

At the time of the shooting the opposition New Democrats were holding their weekly caucus meeting in parliament’s Centre Block, where the shooting took place. A tweeted picture sent from the room showed a pile of chairs jammed up against the main door to prevent anyone from entering.

Police told people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and off roofs.

The soldier who died in the shooting was taken into an ambulance in which medical personnel could be seen giving him cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. CBC News reported that he was a reservist who had been serving in Hamilton, Ontario.

‘DOUBLE-BARRELLED SHOTGUN’

In Washington, a White House official said U.S. President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation. He said the United States had offered assistance to Canada.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States. Compared with Capitol Hill in Washington, security on Parliament Hill is also fairly low key. Anybody could walk right up to the front door of parliament’s Centre Block with arms and explosives without being challenged before entering the front door, where a few guards check accreditation.

A construction worker who was on the scene in Ottawa when the shooting began told Reuters he heard a gunshot, and then saw a man with a scarf over his face running towards parliament.

“He was wearing blue pants and a black jacket and he had a double barrelled shotgun and he ran up the side of this building here and hijacked a car at gunpoint,” construction worker Scott Walsh told Reuters.

The driver got out safely, then the man drove the car to the Centre Block on Parliament Hill, where construction work is underway, Walsh said.

The suspected gunman rushed past a woman with a child in a stroller, who ran away screaming. He did not attack the woman or child, he said.

Centre Block is the main building on Parliament Hill, a sprawling complex of buildings and open space in downtown Ottawa. It contains the House of Commons and Senate chambers as well as the offices of some members of parliament, senators, and senior administration for both legislative houses.

One member of parliament, Mark Strahl, tweeted from inside parliament: “Very tense situation in Ottawa this morning. Multiple gun shots fired outside of our caucus room. I am safe and in lockdown. Unbelievable.”

The Canadian military closed its bases across the country following the events in Ottawa, CBC TV said.

(Additional reporting by Allison Martell and Andrea Hopkins in Toronto; Jeff Mason and Steve Holland in Washington; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Amran Abocar; and Peter Galloway)

 

Soldier Shot Ottawa, 30+ Shots Fired Inside Canadian Parliament

Soldier shot near Canadian parliament, multiple shots inside reported

Russia-Today
This October 22, 2014 photo shows police and medical personell moving a wounded person into an ambulance at the scene of a shooting at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada. (AFP Photo/Michel Comte)

This October 22, 2014 photo shows police and medical personell moving a wounded person into an ambulance at the scene of a shooting at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada. (AFP Photo/Michel Comte)

A soldier has been shot at a war memorial in Ottawa, Canada, prompting a lockdown of Parliament Hill as police try to locate the gunman. Further local reports have stated that shots were also fired inside the Parliament building.

“So I’m locked down in Center Block on Parliament Hill after at least one shooter burst in and opened fire,” local reporter Josh Wingrove stated. “I heard dozens of gunshots and the smell of gunpowder is heavy in the hallways right now.”

Wingrove also reported seeing a motionless body inside the parliament building, which he could not confirm to be either dead or alive.

Some 30 shots were fired inside the building, an eyewitness told Reuters. The gunman was subsequently chased by police into the center block of the building.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper managed to exit the building safely.

Associated Press Television News journalist Jorge Barrera reported that police are in possession of a photograph of the gunman, who reportedly has dark skin and long black hair. Barrera also tweeted that police have the suspect’s cellphone.

There are reports that more than one assailant is active in the area. “There are multiple assailants,” police reportedly told local columnist John Invision, adding “move back, they’re targeting first responders.”

The incident comes a day after another soldier from Canada died in a road accident suspected to have been caused by an Islamic militant. He was one of two soldiers involved in the incident which was the first of its kind in Canada since it joined the fight against the Islamic State.

READ MORE: Canadian soldier dies after suspected Islamic radical’s car attack

Saudi rogue lobby in Pakistani establishment using Deobandi terrorists against Iran

Saudi rogue lobby in Pakistani establishment using Deobandi terrorists to spoil Pakistan-Iran relations

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rogue

It is with deepest concern that we notice Deobandi terrorists transnational terrorist operations against Iran and Pakistan on the Iran-Pakistan border. In the last few days, scores of Iranian security personnel have been killed by Deobandi terrorsits based in Pakistan who cross the Iranian border to conduct terrorist attacks in Iran and then return to their safe refuge in local Deobandi mosques and madrassas in Balochistan. We would like Pakistan and Iran governments and army to beware of the Saudi-CIA plans against both countries in this region.

The interests of the Pakistan army and Iran converge when it comes to the issue of the fanatical Islamic State (aka IS or ISIS) which is currently operating in Paksitan in the shape of banned Deobandi takfiri terror outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP aka ASWJ aka LeJ aka Jundullah).

The Pakistan army under General Raheel Sharif has been trying to get rid of the Ziaist generals’ influence from his institution – those who support banned terrorist outfits such as ASWJ-LeJ aka Jundullah to achieve Jihadist geostrategic gains in Afghanistan and elsewhere. By raising the specter of Iran, these Takfiri-inspired Ziaists in Pakistani establishment want to create a divide between Iran and the Pakistan army and also take the attention away from the domestic violence that the Taliban  (TTP-ASWJ) are wreaking in Pakistan.

The most important Saudi proxy in Pakistan, a fact that is publicly boasted by the Saudi monarchy, is Nawaz Sharif.  Contrary to the propaganda of a certain lobby of commercially-motivated liberals, Nawaz Sharif is not “anti-establishment” but an important plank of the Saudi establishment that is intent on re-making Pakistan into an image of its intolerant and bigoted society. Nawaz Sharif never actually called for an army action against the Taliban – that decision was clearly taken by the new Army Chief.  Nawaz Sharif, through his brother Shahbaz Sharif always kept close contacts with the previous pro Taliban army chief, General Kiyani. However, General Raheel clearly does not share the same reluctance to take on the Taliban that General Kiyani did and that has pitted him against the Saudi establishment stooge, Nawaz Sharif. 

The Deobandi militants in various garbs have openly given their allegiance to IS. By creating the specter of Iran, the Ziaists want to deflect the army’s attention away from the IS-related activities in various parts of Pakistan. Under the instructions of their Saudi masters, the pro-takfiri loyalists of Generals Kayani, Aslam Beg and Hamid Gul, i.e., rogue elements in Pakistan military establishment continue to support banned sectarian terror outfit ASWJ-LeJ-Jundullah. The same group was responsible for the Jihadi alliance of Deobandi and Salafi-Wahhabi terror groups known as the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC). Particularly in Balochistan, the ASWJ-LeJ terrorists are operating as Jundallah under the leadership of Ramzan Mengal Deobandi, the provincial head of ASWJ-LeJ.

Ramzan Mengal Deobandi has visible and tacit support of Pakistan Army’s Frontier Corps and the ISI in Balochistan. He enjoys full protocol and protection of the provincial government and Pakistan army’s intelligence.

Salafi Deobandi Terror Roots in Pakistan

The Ramzan Mengal Group has been given three tasks by the Saudi takfiri rogue lobby of the establishment:

1. Radicalize the peaceful Sunni Baloch Muslims to convert them into bigoted takfiri Deobandi and Wahhabi terrorists. These brainwashed terrorists are then used to target kill secular Baloch nationalists, Sunni Sufis and Hazara Shia Muslims of Balochistan. The aim is to somehow weaken the Baloch nationalist movement but also to contain the Sunni Sufi and Shia influence in Balochistan.

2. Cross-border attacks on Iranian border security personnel and other officials. The aim is to spoil the brotherly relations between Pakistan and Iran.

3. Expand the dangerous Saudi-CIA plan to export ISIS to Pakistan and Iran.

It is high time that Generals Kayani, Aslam Beg, Hamid Gul be arrested, the provincial chief of FC and ISI must be investigated to explain their links with the ASWJ-LeJ-Junduallah complex, particualrly with Ramzan Mengal and Rafiq Mengal and their role in target killings of Hazara and other Shia Muslims, secular Baloch activists and cross-border atacks on Iranian officials.

Here’s a relevant news report from the New York Times:

TEHRAN — Sunni (Deobandi) insurgents in Pakistan increased attacks on Iranian border posts in the southeast of the country this week, employing methods similar to those used by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

In one instance, a car bomber struck a fortified base near the city of Saravan, killing a senior officer and prompting Iranian commanders and politicians Thursday to call upon Pakistan to control its borders. On Tuesday, three police officers were killed in an ambush after responding to a distress call.

These were only the latest in a series of attacks. Last month, insurgents rammed a vehicle laden with more than 1,000 pounds of explosives into one of the outer walls of a central base before launching a surprise attack with a convoy of pickup trucks carrying 70 insurgents, a senior military official told the Fars news agency this week.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/10/world/asia/pakistan-sunni-insurgents-step-up-attacks-in-iran.html

The Reaction from Iran:

Iran has summoned the Pakistani ambassador and demanded immediate steps to stop attacks by “terrorists and rebels” that sparked deadly clashes on the countries’ border, state media reported Sunday.

Noor Muhammad Jadmani was called to the foreign ministry on Saturday evening following the deaths in the restive border province of Sistan-Baluchistan, the official IRNA news agency said,.

Two Iranian border guards and a Pakistani paramilitary officer were killed in a shooting on Thursday evening, sources on the two sides said. Iran said rebels had tried to infiltrate the country.

“It is unacceptable that terrorists and rebels attack our country from Pakistani territory and kill our border guards,” the foreign ministry’s western Asia director, Rasul Salami, told IRNA.

He asked the Pakistani government to “take serious steps to prevent any recurrence of such incidents,” the news agency said.

Thursday’s border shooting came after rebel attacks killed five people in Sistan-Baluchistan province earlier this month, four of them security personnel.

Iranian media said 14 people were arrested in connection with those attacks.

Last month, an Iranian soldier was killed and two pro-government militiamen wounded in an attack authorities blamed on Deobandi extremist group Jaish-ul Adl (Army of Justice).

The same group captured five Iranian troops in February, four of whom were released in April. The fifth soldier is presumed dead but his fate remains officially unknown.

Sistan-Baluchistan has a large Sunni Muslim community in otherwise predominantly Shiite Iran and it has been plagued by violence involving Sunni extremists and drug smugglers.

Ethnic Baluchis straddle the border into Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, where a long-running separatist conflict was revived in 2004.

The nationalists charge that the central government in Islamabad has exploited the region’s natural resources and committed human rights abuses.

But the idea of giving greater autonomy to the province, the size of Italy but with only nine million inhabitants, is highly sensitive in a country still scarred by the independence in 1971 of its eastern portion, now Bangladesh.

http://www.france24.com/en/20141019-iran-summons-pakistani-ambassador-over-border-killings/

Pakistan Army should not fall prey to the old tactics of Ziaist Generals like Aslam Baig and proceed to do joint operations with Iranian Army against Deobandi Terrotists of TTP,Sipah Sahaba (ASWJ LEJ)  and Jandullah in Balochistan.

 

Sheikh Rasheed Maulana Samiul Haq  Hamid Gul Munawar Hasan Ahmed Ludhianvi Ijazul Haq General Aslam Beg

Ziaist Takfiiri Eestablishment

– See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/324913#sthash.9rd7Hdwj.dpuf

Saudi Spy Chief Warns “There are no moderate democratic forces” In Syria

[SEE:  Saudi royal decree terminates Prince Bandar’s political career ]

Saudi intelligence chief warns of danger of King training militants, “the Syrian opposition”

NAKHEL NEWS THE PALM

Palm-picked sites local Saudi press yesterday statements attributed to Prince Khalid Bin Bandar, head of intelligence Al Saud, on the Syrian opposition and trained militarily within the territory of the Kingdom, expressed his objection to this decision, which it sees a threat to internal security in Saudi Arabia.
She also noted that statements to Prince Khalid bin Bandar told King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz that any fighter will enter Syrian territory Saudi Arabia is at the end of the Islamic currents “jihadist”, stressing that there are no moderate democratic forces within the territory of the Syrian armed. He stressed that allowing the entry of Syrian territory to Saudi Arabia for training and processing is the danger will threaten the Saudi internal security must be taken into account with great interest, as he put it.
The Chairman of the intelligence that the Al-Saud to open camps for Syrians in Saudi Arabia may appeal the Iranians who may pay the Houthis to the complexity of the situation between Saudi Arabia and Yemen after the Houthis has become a force to be reckoned with, and after that are on the outskirts of Bab el Mandeb, he said !!.

Obama’s Capitulation To Saudi Arabia, In Order To Destroy Putin

OPEC

A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing

zero hedge

For those to whom the recent US campaign against Syria seems a deja vu of last summer’s “near-war” attempt to ouster its president Bashar al-Assad, which was stopped in the last minute due to some very forceful Russian intervention and the near breakout of war in the Mediterranean between US and Russian navies, it is because they are. And as a reminder, just like last year, the biggest wildcard in this, and that, direct intervention into sovereign Syrian territory, or as some would call it invasion or even war, was not the US but Saudi Arabia – recall from August of 2013 – “Meet Saudi Arabia’s Bandar bin Sultan: The Puppetmaster Behind The Syrian War.” Bin Sultan was officially let go shortly after the 2013 campaign to replace Syria’s leadership with a more “amenable” regime failed if not unofficially (see below), but Saudi ambitions over Syria remained.

That much is revealed by the WSJ today in a piece exposing the backdoor dealings that the US conducted with Saudi Arabia to get the “green light” to launch its airstrikes against ISIS, or rather, parts of Iraq and Syria. And, not surprising, it is once again Assad whose fate was the bargaining chip to get the Saudis on the US’ side, because in order to launch the incursion into Syrian sovereign territory “took months of behind-the-scenes work by the U.S. and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when. The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh U.S. commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority.

In other words, John Kerry came, saw and promised everything he could, up to and including the missing piece of the puzzle – Syria itself on a silver platter – in order to prevent another diplomatic humiliation.

 When Mr. Kerry touched down in Jeddah to meet with King Abdullah on Sept. 11, he didn’t know for sure what else the Saudis were prepared to do. The Saudis had informed their American counterparts before the visit that they would be ready to commit air power—but only if they were convinced the Americans were serious about a sustained effort in Syria. The Saudis, for their part, weren’t sure how far Mr. Obama would be willing to go, according to diplomats.

Said otherwise, the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to “bless” US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America’s desire – what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

But back to the Saudis and how the deal to bomb Syria was cobbled together:

The Americans knew a lot was riding on a Sept. 11 meeting with the king of Saudi Arabia at his summer palace on the Red Sea.

A year earlier, King Abdullah had fumed when President Barack Obama called off strikes against the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. This time, the U.S. needed the king’s commitment to support a different Syrian mission—against the extremist group Islamic State—knowing there was little hope of assembling an Arab front without it.

At the palace, Secretary of State John Kerry requested assistance up to and including air strikes, according to U.S. and Gulf officials. “We will provide any support you need,” the king said.

But only after the Saudis got the abovementioned assurances that Assad will fall. And to do that they would have to strongarm Obama:

Wary of a repeat of Mr. Obama’s earlier reversal, the Saudis and United Arab Emirates decided on a strategy aimed at making it harder for Mr. Obama to change course. “Whatever they ask for, you say ‘yes,'” an adviser to the Gulf bloc said of its strategy. “The goal was not to give them any reason to slow down or back out.”

Arab participation in the strikes is of more symbolic than military value. The Americans have taken the lead and have dropped far more bombs than their Arab counterparts. But the show of support from a major Sunni state for a campaign against a Sunni militant group, U.S. officials said, made Mr. Obama comfortable with authorizing a campaign he had previously resisted.

To be sure, so far Obama has refrained from directly bombing Assad, it is only a matter of time: “How the alliance fares will depend on how the two sides reconcile their fundamental differences over Syria and other issues. Saudi leaders and members of the moderate Syrian opposition are betting the U.S. could eventually be pulled in the direction of strikes supporting moderate rebel fighters against Mr. Assad in addition to Islamic State. U.S. officials say the administration has no intention of bombing Mr. Assad’s forces”… for now.

But why is Saudi Arabia so adamant to remove Assad? Here is the WSJ’s take:

For the Saudis, Syria had become a critical frontline in the battle for regional influence with Iran, an Assad ally. As Mr. Assad stepped up his domestic crackdown, the king decided to do whatever was needed to bring the Syrian leader down, Arab diplomats say.

In the last week of August, a U.S. military and State Department delegation flew to Riyadh to lay the ground for a military program to train the moderate Syrian opposition to fight both the Assad regime and Islamic State—something the Saudis have long requested. The U.S. team wanted permission to use Saudi facilities for the training. Top Saudi ministers, after consulting overnight with the king, agreed and offered to foot much of the bill. Mr. Jubeir went to Capitol Hill to pressed key lawmakers to approve legislation authorizing the training.

And once the US once again folded to Saudi demands to attack another sovereign, it was merely a matter of planning:

Hours before the military campaign was set to begin, U.S. officials held a conference call to discuss final preparations. On the call, military officers raised last-minute questions about whether Qatar would take part and whether the countries would make their actions public.

Mr. Kerry was staying in a suite on the 34th floor of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, where he was meeting leaders attending United Nations gatherings. He called his Gulf counterparts to make sure they were still onboard. They were.

The UAE, which some defense officials refer to as “Little Sparta” because of its outsized military strength, had the most robust role. One of the UAE’s pilots was a woman. Two of the F-15 pilots were members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Khaled bin Salman, son of the crown prince. In the third wave of the initial attack, half of the attack airplanes in the sky were from Arab countries.

The best news for Obama: it is now just a matter of time to recreate the same false flag that the Saudi-US alliance pushed so hard on the world in the summer of 2013 to justify the first attempt to remove Assad, and once again get the “sympathy” public cote behind him, naturally with the support of the US media.

But how does one know it is once again nothing but a stage? The following blurb should explain everything:

Saudi players in attendance for the Sept. 11 meeting included Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who as the king’s spymaster last year ran afoul of Mr. Kerry over Syria and Iraq policy. U.S. officials interpreted his presence as a sign the king wanted to make sure the court was united, U.S. officials said.

Actually, his presence is a sign that the same puppetmaster who pulled the strings, and failed, in 2013 to remove Assad, and as noted above was at least officially removed from the stage subsequently, is once again the person in charge of the Syrian campaign, only this time unofficially, and this time has Obama entirely wrapped around his finger.

Abdullah Al-Bishi, the Head Saudi Beheader

Saudi Arabia: Who is Abdullah Al-Bishi

American bedu

1392_execution

His name may not be widely known or recognized. Abdullah Al-Bishi is a Saudi national who inherited the position as an executioner from his father. Yes; this is one of the men who have learned the art of beheading. He is an executioner for Makkah and his son, Badr, has been accepted in the same kind of profession in Riyadh. I find it interesting that here are three consecutive generations who not only have chosen but take pride in their position and the skill required to conduct (execute) a clean execution.

Saudi Arabia uses public beheading as the punishment for murder, rape, drug trafficking, sodomy, armed robbery, apostasy and certain other offences.  2007 has been the record year for executions with 153 men and three women executed. Forty five men and two women were beheaded in 2002, a further 52 men and 1 woman in 2003 and 35 men and a woman in 2004.  Executions rose in 2005 with 88 men and 2 women being beheaded and then reduced to 35 men and four women in 2006.
The condemned of both sexes are given tranquillisers and then taken by police van to a public square or a car park after midday prayers. Their eyes are covered and they are blindfolded. The police clear the square of traffic and a sheet of blue plastic sheet about 16 feet square is laid out on the ground.
Dressed in their own clothes, barefoot, with shackled feet and hands cuffed behind their back, the prisoner is led by a police officer to the centre of the sheet where they are made to kneel facing Mecca. An Interior Ministry official reads out the prisoner’s name and crime to the crowd.
Saudi Arabia uses a traditional Arab scimitar which is 1000-1100 mm long. The executioner is handed the sword by a policeman and raises the gleaming scimitar, often swinging it two or three times in the air to warm up his arm muscles, before approaching the prisoner from behind and jabbing him in the back with the tip of the blade, causing the person to raise their head. (see photo) Then with a single swing of the sword the prisoner is decapitated.
Normally it takes just one swing of the sword to sever the head, often sending it flying some two or three feet. Paramedics bring the head to a doctor, who uses a gloved hand to stop the fountain of blood spurting from the neck. The doctor sews the head back on, and the body is wrapped in the blue plastic sheet and taken away in an ambulance. Burial takes place in an unmarked grave in the prison cemetery.
Beheadings of women did not start until the early 1990’s, previously they were shot.  Forty three women have been publicly beheaded up to the end of 2007.
Most executions take place in the three major cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dahran. Saudi executioners take great pride in their work and the post tends to be handed down from one generation to the next.

Beheading is as humane as any modern method of execution if carried out correctly and a single blow is sufficient to decapitate the prisoner. Consciousness is probably lost within 2-3 seconds, due to a rapid fall of the “intracranial perfusion of blood” (blood supply to the brain). The person dies from shock and anoxia due to haemorrhage and loss of blood pressure within less than 60 seconds. However, because the muscles and vertebrae of the neck are tough, decapitation may require more than one blow. Death occurs due to separation of the brain and spinal cord, after the transection (cutting through) of the surrounding tissues, together with massive haemorrhage.
It has often been reported that the eyes and mouths of the decapitated have shown signs of movement. It has been calculated that the human brain has enough oxygen stored for metabolism to persist for about 7 seconds after the head is cut off.

Beheading requires a skilled headsman if it is to be at all humane and not infrequently, several blows were required to sever the head. It took three blows to remove Mary Queen of Scot’s head at Fotheringhay Castle in 1587.  In Britain, beheadings were carried out by the “common hangman” and were relatively rare so he had very little practice or experience, which often led to unfortunate consequences.
Saudi executioners pride themselves on their skill and efficiency with the scimitar.
The prisoner is usually blindfolded so that they do not see the sword or axe coming and move at the crucial moment. Again, this is why in both beheading and guillotining it was not unusual for an assistant to hold the prisoner’s hair to prevent them moving.
In any event, the results are gory in the extreme as blood spurts from the severed arteries and veins of the neck including the aorta and the jugular vein.
All the European countries that previously used beheading have now totally abolished the death penalty.

 

Iran threatens to turn Saudi Arabia into hell If They Crucify Sheikh al-Nimr

[SEE:  Inhuman Saudi Court Sentences Famous Shia Cleric Al-Nimr To Crucifixion]

https://i0.wp.com/www.islamtimes.org/images/docs/000187/n00187401-b.jpg

Iran threatens to turn Saudi Arabia into hell

ya libnan

Reza NaqdiCommander of Iran’s Basij force Brigadier-General Mohammad Reza Naqdi

Iranian leaders threatened “to turn Saudi Arabia into hell,” over the last few days in response to a decision by a Saudi court to sentence the Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr to death. A day later Iran carried out a wave of arrests against Sunni clerics.

The tit-for-tat exchange comes as the West scrutinizes Tehran’s involvement in the Syrian and Iraqi arenas.

Al-Nimr was found guilty a week ago of seeking “foreign meddling” in Saudi Arabia, disobeying its rulers and taking up arms against the Saudi security forces. Al-Nimr was a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that erupted in eastern Saudi Arabia three years ago.

Commander of Iran’s Basij force Brigadier-General Mohammad Reza Naqdi (pictured) threatened revenge if the Saudis execute the cleric, “If the Al-Saud commits such a crime against Ayatollah Sheikh al-Nimr, its move will not remain unanswered and Muslims will change this world to a hell for them.”

Moreover, according to some Arabic reports, a wide campaign of arrests against Sunni clerics in Iran was launched by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

The recent developments in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are in sharp contrast to reports from various media outlets about a recent rapprochement between the two countries, based on the desire for a common struggle against the Sunni extremist organization ISIS. In fact, on Friday, an Iran official accused Riyadh of creating ISIS. The Iranian IRNA news agency reported

Tehran Substitute Friday Prayers Leader Seyyed Ahmad Khatami criticized Saudi officials for supporting extremist groups in the region… He blamed Riyadh for advocating the terrorist group of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its failed attempts to topple legal governments of Syria and Iraq.

They’ve Taken Our Kenny (Kenny’s Sideshow)…Those Bastards!

Now I understand why the links have stopped coming from Kenny’s Sideshow

Kenneth Ray Kirkham is dead and his shoes will not be easily filled.  Others may come, or stand ready, to take-up the slack, but they cannot fill the void left by his passing.  May God be there to comfort his family in their time of need.   

Kenneth Ray Kirkham

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Kenneth Ray Kirkham, 62, who passed away suddenly, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014 at Stones River Hospital E/R. He was a native of Gallatin, TN. He was preceded in death by his Father, Leonard Kirkham and his daughter, Christiana Patrick.

Mr. Kirkham is survived by his wife, Deborah Hurt Kirkham of Auburntown; Mother: Helen Kirkham Gomez of Gallatin, TN.; Daughter: Joan (Ricky) Bryson of Auburntown; Grandchildren: Travis & Ryan Baines; Jake (Melissa) Bryson and Josh (Lekeisha) Bryson; Sister: Deborah Lynn (Jim) Stephenson of Bethpage, TN.; Nephews & Niece: Sam (Dana), Amanda and Eli Stephenson.

A member of the Union Hill Church of Christ, he was retired from Greer in La Vergne and worked with his son-in-law, at Bryson Cell Tower Ground Maintenance. He was a wonderful man who loved his family more than anything. He also loved his fur children, his Jack Russells, Taz and Tessa. Kenneth enjoyed music and played guitar, mandolin and drums.

Russia On the Right Side of History

Russia: On the Right Side of History

SteveLendmanBlog

by Stephen Lendman
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comments reflect Russia’s position on geopolitical issues. Especially major ones mattering most.
He explained them following discussions days earlier with John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris.
He’s a world-class diplomat. He embarrasses his Western counterparts. They’re no match for his forthrightness. Straight talk. Candor. Telling it like it is. Explaining what everyone needs to know.
Paul Craig Roberts is right calling Russia the world’s moral leader. At a time America descends into tyranny. Waging war on humanity. At home and abroad.
Risking the unthinkable. Possible global war. Nuclear war. Mushroom cloud denouement.
Neocons infest Washington. They’ve been around for decades. Political and military ones. Advocating permanent wars. Wanting all US rivals eliminated.
Obama serves their interests. He gives rogue leadership new meaning. He’s no Jack Kennedy.
JFK transformed himself in office from warrior to peacemaker. He wanted all nuclear weapons abolished. A “general and complete disarmament.”
Rapprochement with Soviet Russia. The Cold War ended. All US forces out of Vietnam by December 1965.
He regretted the gap between intellectuals and politicians. Working cooperatively improves chances for responsible policies, he believed.
He deplored “craz(ies)” urging war. Wanting Soviet Russia nuked while America was advantaged. Even at a cost of a few US cities.
During the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, he “never had the slightest intention” of attacking to remove them.
It bears repeating. Obama is no Jack Kennedy. He’s polar opposite on major issues mattering most. John Kerry reflects his views.
So does Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He outraged Moscow saying “we must deal with a revisionist Russia – with its modern and capable army – on NATO’s doorstep.”
Anti-Russian propaganda drowns out what everyone needs to know. It’s intense. Unprecedented.
Worse than Cold War vitriol. Malicious misinformation substitutes.
Lavrov’s comments are important. He’s on the right side of history. He champions peace and security. Ukrainian crisis conditions reflect Western European/US contradictions.
“Pardon us for our country’s existence in the middle of your military bases,” he said.
“Washington has openly declared its right to use military force unilaterally and wherever it sees fit in order to protect its own interests.”
“The Western alliance, led by the United States, while defending democracy and human rights, on the global arena assumes an opposite stance, disregarding the principle of the sovereign equality of states, as stipulated in the UN Charter, and trying to decide for others what is good and what is bad.”
“Western partners have ignored our numerous warnings, concerning the inadmissibility of breaking the UN Charter and Helsinki Final Act principles, consistently evaded proper collaboration on creating a zone of equal and undivided security and cooperation in the area from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans,” he added.
“The United States and the European Union supported the coup in Ukraine, blindly approved any actions taken by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that directed their efforts at violently suppressing the part of the Ukrainian people that rejected the attempts to impose on the country anti-constitutional order and wanted to defend its right to native language, culture and history.”
US-led Western countries proliferate violence and instability. Imperialism works this way.
Lavrov discussed his Paris Kerry/Fabius meeting. It covered a wide range of issues, he said. Including strained bilateral relations.
Differences remain, he explained. It’s “in our common interests to seek” responsible solutions. “(T)hrough a respectful dialogue based on equal agreements and taking into account each other’s interests.”
Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan an Ukraine were discussed. “We talked about the efforts Russian leadership is exerting to ensure complete and comprehensive compliance with the agreements achieved with our support and with the cooperation of the OSCE between the Kiev authorities and the representatives of the self-defence forces,” Lavrov said.
“I am referring to the Minsk Protocol, signed on 5 September, and the Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014.”
“The main thing now is to not ‘water down’ the process that has been set in motion, not to divert attention to some artificial formats being proposed but to get the participants in the Minsk process to fully comply with the accords between Kiev, Lugansk and Donetsk.”
“This applies to the cease-fire, the separation of forces, the pulling back of heavy weapons and, most importantly, the start of a comprehensive political dialogue that the Ukrainian authorities promised as early as April of this year when the foreign ministers of Russia, the US and Ukraine met in Geneva and proclaimed the need for an immediate start to a political dialogue involving all the regions and political forces in Ukraine.”
He elaborated further on what he called “the Ukrainian tragedy,” saying:
“We have constantly and at all levels reaffirmed our position and demanded a concrete reaction on the part of the relevant international organisations.”
“Our position is that all the crimes perpetrated during the course of the Ukrainian crisis must be investigated, beginning with the ‘snipers’ case’ on Maidan Square, including the tragedies in Odessa and Mariupol, the Malaysian plane catastrophe, the mass graves and many other incidents that have become known to the public.”
“We believe that international organisations, notably the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN human rights bodies, must take the initiative and assume a greater share of the responsibility for carrying through with these investigations because the Ukrainian authorities obviously are not doing enough.”
“One would not like to suspect anyone of anything, but one does have the impression that they have something to hide. The international organisations must not allow this to happen.”
“(T)he Ukrainian crisis can only be resolved through direct talks and the reaching of an accord between the conflicting sides. This is precisely what the Minsk process implies.”
Beginning with ceasefire and political dialogue, Lavrov stressed. “(W)hich has yet to begin,” he added.
Kerry and other Western officials shouldn’t “try to invent something new.” The should “fully and honestly comply with the existing accords.”
Lavrov hopes ongoing P5+1 talks on Iran’s nuclear program will “achieve an early an comprehensive agreement…” Remaining issues to be resolved aren’t “all that complicated,” he said.
Russia “consistently” fights terrorism. It’s done so for many years. It helps other countries address their threats.
Including Syria and Iraq. It’ll continue these efforts, said Lavrov. Not through so-called ” ‘coalitions’ created without” Security Council consent. Doing so violates international law.
An anti-terror group was established under the auspices of the Russian/US Bilateral Presidential Commission. Both sides agreed to share relevant information.
Washington unilaterally terminated Commission activities. And all its mechanisms. It bears repeating rogue states operate this way.
On October 16, Lavrov addressed the 10th ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) summit Second Plenary Session, saying:
“(T)he future of humankind depends on our ability to develop equitable and productive cooperation.”
“Mutual trust as an element of international relations is decreasing at an alarming pace amid deep structural changes in the world, and the skill of finding compromises and mutually acceptable solutions, which alone can provide the basis for effective cooperation, is being eroded.”
“Some countries still interpret agreement solely as the acceptance of their views and think that they can ignore the legitimate interests of their partners and dictate their rules in the economy, politics, finance and trade.”
“This is deepening chaos in international relations and expanding the area of crises to vast territories in the Middle East and North Africa, and now to Ukraine.”
Russia consistently supports strengthening global alliances. Including responsible governance mechanisms, Lavrov explained. Ongoing efforts should comply fully with international law.
Nothing less is acceptable. Equal security and mutual respect for all parties’ interests are essential. Preventing regional and global conflicts depend on them.
“We firmly stand for harmonising integration processes in Europe, Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific Region,” said Lavrov.
“Russia is ready to use its geographic position, resources and human capital towards this end.”
It’ll “continue to increase its contribution to the development of practical cooperation between the ASEM member-countries based on a balance of interests, including by advocating the global agenda for post-2015 development, enhancing the effectiveness and coordination of emergency response cooperation, searching for sustainable solutions to climate change and energy efficiency issues, and by promoting dialogue on human rights issues based on mutual respect.”
“In these tumultuous times, it is vitally important to strengthen the ethical foundations of international relations by relying on traditional values that constitute the moral basis of universal solidarity.”
“Russia is willing to continue cooperating with all the ASEM partners to strengthen ASEM’s role in the effort to create a safer and more democratic and effective international system.”
Lavrov’s comments are genuine. He reflects Moscow’s views. For world peace and stability. Respect for nation-state sovereign inviolability. Rule of law principles. Mutual cooperation on issues mattering most.
In contrast, Washington’s rhetoric rings hollow. Obama, Kerry, Hagel and other US officials lie. They say one thing. They do another.
They ravage and destroy one country after another. Murdering millions in cold blood. Inflicting appalling human misery.
For unchallenged dominance. Resource control. The right to exert might because who’ll stop it. Exploiting world populations.
At home and abroad. Force-feeding police state harshness. Serving monied interests only. Spurning popular ones.
Inflicting “a plague upon the world,” says Paul Craig Roberts. Governed by “two-bit punks.”
Declaring itself world sovereign. Demanding all nations bend to its will. Mindless of rule of law principles.
Or sovereign independent rights. Or right over wrong. Or doing the right thing because it matters.
Hegemons operate this way. They do what they damn please. None in world history match US ruthlessness. Thankfully Putin’s Russia exists.
“Attempts to…pressure (it) and…compel it to abandon its values, truth, and justice have no prospects whatever for success,” Lavrov stresses.
US “polic(ies) of ultimatums and supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21st century, and run counter to the objective process of developing a polycentric and democratic world order,” he added.
Washington’s unilateral use of military force threatens world peace. Russia is polar opposite. It deplores war. It champions peace and stability.
It goes all-out to achieve them. It’s maliciously bashed for doing so. Big Lies substitute for explaining its responsible policies.
WW II horrors inspired UN Charter principles. Its preamble vowed to:
  • “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…;”
  • “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights…;”
  • assure justice and international law is respected; and
  • “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…”
Failure followed on all counts. Hamstrung by US imperial lawlessness. Its violation of fundamental civil and human rights. Its contempt for democratic values. Its rage for war.
Conditions today are more perilous than ever. World peace hangs by a thread.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Western Media Claims Dutch Sub Is Russian, Creates Massive “Stink” Out of Thin Air

Mysterious ‘Russian sub’ off Sweden may be Dutch – Defense Ministry source

Russia-Today

Submarine HNLMS Bruinvis (screenshot from youtube video)

Submarine HNLMS Bruinvis (screenshot from youtube video)

Swedish authorities reportedly searching for a Russian submarine in its waters are probably looking in the wrong direction. The sub is probably Dutch, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told RT.

Earlier Swedish media reported that the nation’s navy is looking for a submarine in the Baltic Sea, possibly belonging to Russia.

Russia said there was no substance in reports of the Russian connection in the story.

“On Sunday the Russian Defense Ministry provided whatever aid it could to the Swedes in their futile search,” the source commented.

The source added that if the Swedish Navy wanted to spare taxpayers’ money and nerves, they should turn to The Netherlands.

The country’s Walrus-class diesel-electric submarine Bruinvis was in the Baltic Sea last week, not far from Stockholm.

Photos of the emergency surfacing procedure by this submarine were leaked to Swedish media and reported as an emergency surfacing by a Russian submarine, the source said.

“Bruinvis has been docked in the Estonian capital Tallinn since Friday last week and is about to sail back. Hopefully, this report will help the Swedish Navy locate it as it travels back to one of the Dutch naval bases,” the source said.

Swedish media reported that the country’s navy deployed search parties on Friday after receiving reports of an identified submarine.

Reports said a communication in Russian was intercepted at a frequency reserved by the Russian Navy for emergencies, which prompted the conclusion that a Russian submarine was in trouble on a secret mission in Swedish waters.

But Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad told reporters that the search was prompted by a photo sent to the Defense Ministry by a man, who witnessed it surface and dive again. He said the Navy didn’t single out Russia as the foreign nation behind the submarine activity.

“From the information we have, we cannot draw the same conclusion as the media that there is a damaged U-boat. We have no information about an emergency signal or the use of an emergency channel,” he said.

An amateur photo made available and taken on October 19, 2014 by Swedish Defence shows a dark object in a white wake in the sea. (AFP Photo / Swedish Defence)

An amateur photo made available and taken on October 19, 2014 by Swedish Defence shows a dark object in a white wake in the sea. (AFP Photo / Swedish Defence)

The admiral confirmed that a Swedish naval exercise, involving a submarine from the Netherlands, had been under way off the Stockholm coast at the time of the first sighting.

Weapons and Ammo Airlifted To Kurds In Spite of Erdogan Showing His Ass

ErdoganObama’s decision to aid Kobani puts him squarely at odds with Turkey’s Erdogan

McClatchy

By Roy Gutman

ISTANBUL — In air-dropping weapons and ammunition to Kurdish defenders of a Syrian town, President Barack Obama has embroiled the United States all the more deeply in two very different confrontations – one with the Islamic State extremists and the other with NATO ally Turkey.

That combination complicates Obama’s prospect for success at Kobani, even with a coalition of more than 60 countries behind him.

The main clash is with the Islamic State, which has been pouring reinforcements into the Kobani area and shows no sign of letting up. The U.S. response, 135 airstrikes through Sunday, hasn’t secured the nearly-empty town, and indeed on Sunday, the Islamic extremists stepped up their battle, raining rockets and mortars on the Kurdish defenders.

Kobani desperately needs troop reinforcements, but because the Islamic State controls the Syrian territory between Iraqi Kurdistan, which might be willing to provide them, and Kobani, there’s almost no way to send in additional forces except via Turkey.

And this is where Obama’s second confrontation comes in — with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two now are in flat disagreement over the fate of the enclave, which lies directly on the Syrian-Turkish border. Ankara is willing to let it fall, and Washington clearly isn’t.

The rulers of Kobani, the Democratic Union Party or PYD, are affiliated with the separatist Kurdistan Worker’s Party or PKK, which has waged a 30-year guerrilla war against the Turkish state. Turkey, the United States and the European Union all have labeled the PKK as a terrorist organization.

So Erdogan has strong domestic political reasons for not coming to Kobani’s rescue.

“As far as we are concerned, the PKK is the equivalent of ISIS. Therefore it is wrong to consider them separately,” Erdogan said early this month, referring to the Islamic State by one of its alternative names. His remarks made clear that so long as the PKK affiliate controls Kobani, Turkey would provide no military assistance.

Ten days ago, Erdogan said it was likely to fall, a statement that enraged Turkey’s Kurdish population and may have given the signal to the Islamic State to go for the kill by sending more fighters and heavy weaponry. U.S.-led airstrikes stepped up dramatically, turning Kobani into the single biggest battle of the U.S.-led war with the Islamic State.

Shortly before the U.S. began its weapons drops from C-130 cargo aircraft, Erdogan said he would have no part of it.

“At the moment, the PYD is equal with the PKK for us. It is also a terrorist organization. It would be very wrong for America – with whom we are allies and who we are together with in NATO — to expect us to say ‘yes’ after openly announcing such support for a terrorist organization,” Erdogan told reporters on board his plane returning from a visit to Afghanistan.

The United States, he said, “cannot expect such a thing from us and we cannot say ‘yes’ to such a thing either.”

Erdogan, a self-confident leader, is unlikely to back down, and now that Obama has doubled his bets by air-dropping weapons to Kobani, seems equally unlikely to retreat.

Erdogan has been a reluctant partner in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, charging that the U.S. has no strategy in Syria for removing President Bashar Assad, whom it views as the major reason for the rise of the Islamic State.

Bordering Iraq and Syria and with a major U.S. air base at Incirlik, Turkey is ideally located to provide military facilities and every other sort of assistance in the battle against the Islamic State.

But on Sunday, Erdogan made it clear that he still is holding out on the use of Incirlik in the air war against the Islamic State – the Obama administration’s foremost request.

“The Incirlik issue is a separate issue,” he told reporters on his plane. “What are they asking for with regard to Incirlik? That’s not clear yet. If there is something we deem appropriate, we would discuss it with our security forces, and we would say ‘yes.’ But if it is not appropriate, then saying ‘yes’ is not possible for us either.”

Erdogan’s defiance of his U.S. ally may have a limit. Obama’s move to save Kobani is bound to be welcomed by Kurds, who comprise at least 12 million of Turkey’s 78 million population.

Erdogan has to be careful not to touch off another round of demonstrations that could turn into riots as they did two weeks ago, when at least 35 people died in protests against his failure to help save Kobani.

Email: rgutman@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @roygutmanmcc.

 

Brand New hair-brained ideas in the Middle East

New hair-brained ideas in the Middle East

daily star LEB

Analysts in the United States this week are debating the precise meaning of the statements Wednesday by John Allen, the ex-Marine general who now coordinates the U.S.-led coalition’s response to ISIS. He said that the United States is not coordinating with the Free Syrian Army, and instead plans to develop from scratch new local ground units in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS on two fronts.

I have always felt that neither Allen’s recent track records in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and CENTCOM nor the legacy of U.S. training of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan provide any comfort about the current American strategy to defeat ISIS. His announcement that the United States plans to create what American press reports call “a homegrown, moderate counterweight to the Islamic State” should cause new concerns for Iraq, Syria, the United States any many others around the world who one day may be targets of ISIS reprisal attacks, or victims of the chaos it spreads in the region.

Sadly, and based on actual recent history, I suspect that the United States in fact cannot train Iraqi and Syrian forces to achieve this specific goal, because it continues to inadequately assess and respond to the frightening underlying trends across much of the Middle East that have seen the birth and expansion of groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the first place.

I wish that were not the case, because ISIS-like fighters are knocking on the door of Lebanon, where I live; and the chaos that has emerged from Syria and Iraq in recent years to threaten the integrity of many Levant states is to a great extent the consequence of … well, of the policies that well meaning folks like Gen. Allen and his colleagues and superiors have practiced since 2003, along with their Arab “allies” in the “coalition” that is now fighting ISIS after midwifing the conditions for its birth.

So when Gen. Allen says that the United States and its coalition partners will aim to strengthen the political opposition and make sure it is associated with “a credible field force” that would be intensely vetted, my eyes roll and my heart aches for the millions of people in the Arab region who will become refugees in the years ahead. The United States has tried to do precisely this kind of thing in recent years in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, spending billions of dollars over 10 years – but it has failed miserably on most fronts.

This is not because the U.S. lacks technical capabilities or good intentions – it is amply endowed with both. It is rather because the U.S. allows broadly ignorant and politically constrained political figures in Washington to come up with strategies that are simultaneously hair-brained, unrealistic, inappropriate, detached from reality and therefore unachievable – even predictably unachievable, and repeatedly predictably unachievable, at that.

Gen. Allen warned that, “It’s not going to happen immediately. We’re working to establish the training sites now, and we’ll ultimately go through a vetting process and beginning to bring the trainers and the fighters in to begin to build that force out.”

Of course it’s not going to happen immediately; that is because foreign policy catastrophes never happen quickly, but rather they build up over time as ignorance, arrogance, ordinance, confusion and romanticism all blend together to generate foreign policy failures so dramatic that politicians in Washington inexplicably seem to need to repeat them again quickly, perhaps to make sure that their initial failures were not a fluke.

The prevalent skepticism about this latest American plan is not about the U.S. or Iraq-Syria. It is about human nature and history, and the proven inability of a superpower’s army to travel halfway around the world and reconfigure local conditions to its liking. This lesson has been repeatedly reconfirmed since approximately the fourth century B.C., largely because local folks do not take kindly to foreign armies that come in and try to reshape their society according to alien values and goals. Why does the U.S. repeatedly ignore the fact that the single biggest driver of the birth and growth of criminal groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS in the past quarter century has been the direct involvement of foreign armies – mainly the USSR and the U.S. – in Arab-Asian-Islamic lands, like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Lebanon and others?

Why does the U.S. repeatedly discard the relevance of human nature and history when it unleashes its guns and goes into action around the world? There are no indications that the U.S. today has any more clear appreciation than it did a decade ago of the critical political, strategic, cultural, historical and psychological contexts of Arab lands where it seeks to undertake larger-than-life military and political missions that have serially failed in recent years; they failed and will continue to fail, I fear, because American policymakers failed to understand what their armed forces were doing so far away from home, in those always confounding realms of real life and society beyond McDonalds and Disneyland.

Rami G. Khouri is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR. He can be followed on Twitter @RamiKhouri.

Mikheil Saakashvili Investigated Over Intention To Organize Riots In Georgia

Georgian Interior Ministry investigates former ruling party’s activity

Trend

Photo: Georgian Interior Ministry investigates former ruling party’s activity / Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia, Oct. 15
By Nana Kirtzkhalia – Trend:

The Georgian Interior Ministry is investigating the activity of the former ruling party “United National Movement”.

The investigation is conducted under Article 315 of the Georgian Criminal Code (conspiracy or rebellion to change the constitutional order by using force), Georgian Deputy Interior Minister Levan Izoria told Rustavi-2 TV company.

“In early September, Interior Minister Alexander Chikaidze accused ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili of an intention to organize riots in Georgia,” he said.
The minister claims that the ex-president instructed his colleagues to create a group of 500 people for organizing provocations in the country.

“These groups were to provoke the police to force majeure situations, to carry out aggressive protests by manipulating different themes, such as the crime situation, social and economic issues, relations with Russia, the problems of internally displaced persons, to provoke strikes at strategic facilities and so on.

“The investigation is underway,” Izoria said.

Kiev Establishes National Holiday To Honor Pro-Nazi WWII Forces

Russian lawmakers angry Kiev declares pro-Nazi force creation date as national holiday

itar tass
Legislators in Moscow call this move blasphemous and ditching the memory of the best representatives of the Ukrainian people, who gave their lives struggling with Nazism
© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin

MOSCOW, October 15. /TASS/. Many Russian legislators are deeply angered by Kiev’s decision to declare October 14, the day when the pro-Nazi Ukrainian Insurgent Army was created during World War II in 1942, as Defender of the Nation Day and a public holiday. The UIA gained notoriety as an active collaborator with the Nazi force of occupation and participant in many WW II massacres of civilian population. Members of both houses of the Russian parliament interpreted this move as Kiev’s official confirmation of its commitment to Nazi ideas.

President Poroshenko on Tuesday moved the holiday called Ukraine Defender’s Day from February 23, the date which in the territory of the former Soviet Union is still widely celebrated as the anniversary of the army that bore the brunt of the struggle against Nazism, to October 14.

“Certainly, each country has the right to introduce its own memorable dates, but the fact that October 14 was selected to cater to the tastes of the followers of Stepan Bandera (UIA founder) regrettably shows once again that Kiev is officially supportive of Nazi ideology,” said State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergey Zheleznyak. “It also confirms the dependence of the Ukrainian authorities in their decision-making on radical nationalists and the attempt to trample underfoot the common history of our countries and peoples, and ridicule World War II veterans and the memory of millions of people who gave their lives for the sake of our great victory in those awesome battles.”

“Mr. Poroshenko has instituted a special holiday honouring Ukraine’s number one Nazi henchman. He did that in a very cynical way by abolishing the existing holiday, revered by many millions of officers and men, both retired and still in active service,” Zheleznyak said.

The chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, Viktor Ozerov, has slammed Poroshenko’s decree as blasphemous.

“In this vulgar, blasphemous way the Ukrainian authorities change memorable dates with others, suiting time-serving trends in order to upset the spiritual matrix of our people’s unity, to axe the roots of spiritual and historical unity of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples,” Ozerov said at a full-scale meeting of the Federation Council.

Ozerov believes that “Poroshenko’s decree ditches the memory of the best representatives of the Ukrainian people, who gave their lives in the struggle with Nazism.

“His decree is yet another step towards the betrayal of his nation and its further split,” he said.

 

Jihadi On Jihadi Action Proves Hezbollah Adaptability

Battles against jihadists pose new challenges for Hezbollah

daily star LEB


File – In 1996 photo shows Hezbollah fighters in Iqlim al-Tuffah in south Lebanon. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: With cries of “Allahu Akbar,” militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front faction fired mortar rounds and machine guns as they overran a Hezbollah outpost in the barren mountains east of the Bekaa Valley village of Brital.

Moments later, a Nusra Front cameraman shakily filmed the interior of the compound, showing a small bunker of sandbags and rock-filled oil drums, a 14.5mm heavy machine gun and the bodies of at least four Hezbollah fighters.The seizure of the outpost located on a rocky bluff above Nabi Sbat was part of a coordinated attack on Oct. 5 by the Nusra Front against 10 Hezbollah compounds strung along the rugged limestone mountains near the border with Syria.

There was a certain irony to the Nusra Front’s videotaped assault on the Hezbollah compound. Twenty years ago, it was Hezbollah that was the mobile guerrilla force staging hit-and-run attacks against hilltop compounds. Back then, the defenders of the outposts were Israeli troops and their Lebanese allies, the South Lebanon Army, who manned positions across the south of bulldozed earth walls and dirt-packed oil drums, not dissimilar to those Hezbollah is today erecting across the rugged limestone mountains of east Lebanon.

Even the Nusra Front’s filming the attack is an homage to Hezbollah’s pioneering use of combat cameramen to further its propaganda war against the Israeli occupiers of south Lebanon. In the early 1990s, Hezbollah’s combat footage was filmed with clunky video cameras for later broadcast on Al-Manar. Today, it is a Nusra Front militant with a smart phone and an Internet connection to upload the results to YouTube.

Although Hezbollah quickly recaptured the outpost and successfully defended the other nine, the group reportedly lost eight combatants, underlining that the party’s intervention in Syria is exacting a high toll among the ranks of what is considered to be the most formidable nonstate armed actor in the world.

Hezbollah earned its reputation through three decades of fighting the Israeli army, successfully ousting Israeli troops from occupied south Lebanon in 2000, and then fighting them to a standstill in a monthlong war six years later.

Since Hezbollah intervened in Syria in earnest around two years ago to defend the regime of President Bashar Assad, the party is estimated to have lost several hundred fighters, perhaps close to 1,000, including veteran combatants and commanders. Hundreds more have been wounded.

By comparison, Hezbollah officially claims 1,284 “martyrs,” who died resisting Israel’s 18-year occupation of Lebanon between 1982 and 2000.

Obviously the scale and intensity of fighting is far greater in Syria than the battlefields of south Lebanon in the 1990s, when much of the daily combat involved relatively safe long-range mortar and rocket attacks against Israeli and SLA outposts. But Hezbollah also is facing a very different enemy to its traditional Israeli foe.

Since Hezbollah emerged in the wake of Israel’s 1982 invasion, its cadres have trained to fight a very specific enemy – Israel – in a very specific environment – the hills and valleys of south Lebanon.

Hezbollah became very good at developing a skill set that helped level the playing field to a certain extent against the most powerful military force in the Middle East. It built bunker and tunnel networks to stash weapons, launch ambushes and evade Israeli aerial power; it acquired advanced Russian anti-armor missiles for use against Israel’s Merkava tanks, anti-ship missiles to threaten Israeli naval assets, and, today, mid-range guided ballistic missiles that can strike designated targets as far south as Tel Aviv.

However, most of these tactics are of little use when confronted by lightly armed guerrilla fighters, some of whom have gained three years’ combat experience in the bloody Syrian theater, and who, like Hezbollah, also seek inspiration from the Quran.

As appears evident from the fighting in the barren mountains along the Lebanon-Syria border, Hezbollah and its Sunni militant foes are more evenly balanced.

“Hezbollah has a pickup truck with a heavy machine gun in the back. Well, guess what, [ISIS] also has a pickup truck with a machine gun in the back,” said a European diplomat in Beirut.

Hezbollah has been on a sharp learning curve the past two years as its cadres learn new skills in Syria, such as fighting in urban and rural environments and in territory with which it is unfamiliar. It has learned how to fight in larger combat units than was traditionally the case against Israeli troops, and alongside non-Hezbollah units, such as the Syrian army and the loyalist National Defense Forces militia.

The key advantages Hezbollah has over the Syrian militants are the organized and extensive training programs undertaken by new recruits, strong sense of unit discipline, intensive operational planning and clear command and control.

Still, despite the relatively heavy casualties, the rate is sustainable for now and does not appear to have had any impact on the morale of Hezbollah’s combatants.

“We are in a regional war now, so the casualty rate is still acceptable,” said Abu Khalil, a veteran Hezbollah fighter who has served multiple combat tours in Syria. “We are fighting a war against terrorism and there will be martyrs. We do not go to Syria to pose for pictures. We go to fight.”

Clinton’s Bosnian Islamists Still Looking for Infidels To Kill

[SEE: Bosnia and Clinton’s Radical Islamists  ; Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base]

The One Muslim Country That Loves America Is Developing an Extremist Problem

Kosovars are traveling to the Middle East to fight the same U.S.-led forces that once helped secure their country’s freedom.

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Musli Musliu’s Facebook page looks much like any other 20-something’s profile: He posts selfies along with videos uploaded from YouTube, and he has an app for playing Texas Hold ‘Em with his friends. But his profile is not actually one of a typical millennial. The videos Musli posts call for jihad, urging his friends to join the fight against the enemies of Islam. One photo shows a man with a balaclava covering his face. In another, a man holds an assault rifle with a bullet belt wrapped like a scarf around his neck.

His family says that the photos were likely taken in the Middle East, where Musli and his brother, Valon, both natives of Kosovo, traveled to join militant groups. In April, Musli called home to inform his family that Valon had been killed during the Islamic State’s campaign in Fallujah. Valon, who would have been 22 now, studied in a madrasa, or Islamic high school, in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, before moving to Egypt to study at Al-Azhar University. (The family did not discuss Musli’s background.) Eight months after leaving for the Middle East, Valon came home to visit his family, who tried to talk him out of going back.

“We discussed this with him, and so did our uncles,” Selman, another brother, said in an interview in his village of Tushile, about 30 miles from Pristina. “We explained to him that there are manipulative people out there, and that it is usually the innocent ones who suffer.”

The family has not received any notification of Musli’s death, but they are nervous, because as of late September, they had not heard from him in three months.

Valon and Musli are two of the 150 Kosovo Albanians — the ethnic majority in the Balkan country of nearly 2 million, where Islam is the dominant religion — who, according to the Kosovo officials, have traveled to Iraq or Syria to fight alongside various groups. Forty have reportedly died. Fifteen years ago, Kosovo was embroiled in its own war: Led by the United States, NATO waged a bombing campaign that paved the way for Kosovo to declare independence from Serbia in 2008.

Now a collection of young Kosovars are in the Middle East, and some of them are opposing the very forces that helped secure their country’s sovereignty.

Now a collection of young Kosovars are in the Middle East, and some of them are opposing the very forces that helped secure their country’s sovereignty. The government has moved to stem the migration of potential fighters: In recent weeks, Kosovo police have arrested dozens of people suspected of having fought in Iraq and Syria or of inciting terrorism, including 14 imams. Still, the flight of extremist volunteers is seen by some as an embarrassment for a country that is still trying to find its footing on the international stage — and one that largely owes its freedom to Western intervention.

***

For many years after the NATO bombing, extremist Islam was not a concern in Kosovo. “We spent 15 years worried about all of the unlicensed drivers causing car accidents,” says a senior Kosovo intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, describing the need to build even basic public services from the ground up. But as Kosovo emerged from war in the 2000s, several foreign, conservative Islamic aid organizations established schools and funded the construction of mosques in the country. Then, around the time the war in Syria began, radical Islam became a cause for real worry, according to the intelligence official.

From the start, this concern was focused on mosques and, before long, the worry became that some religious leaders might be influencing Kosovars to go fight in Syria. In 2012, for example, Enes Goga, a Kosovar imam, delivered a fiery sermon about Syria, with quotes from the Prophet Muhammed. “I command you to go to the Sham lands because it’s a chosen land from Allah and in that land live all the great believers of Allah,” Goga said, referencing Muhammed. “Allah’s angels have spread their wings above the lands of Sham.”

“Though he did not explicitly order people to take up arms,” says local journalist Artan Haraqija, who has received death threats for his reports about the Islamic community in Kosovo, “to me [it] is a clear call for anyone to join the fighters in Syria.”

Names began emerging around the same time: In September 2012, a Kosovar named Naman Demolli, who had served in the guerilla Kosovo Liberation Army in the war against Serbia, died in Syria. Later, in March 2014, a German-born Kosovar, Blerim Heta, who went to fight with extremist rebels in Syria in August 2013, allegedly killed 52 people in a suicide attack in Baghdad, where he was known as Abu Al Khabab Kosovo, according to the news portal Balkan Insight.

In June 2014, footage appeared online of Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a Kosovo Albanian fighting with the Islamic State, giving an impassioned speech in Arabic before a cheering crowd in what is purported to be Fallujah. He vowed to conquer Jerusalem, Rome, and Andalusia before ripping up his Kosovo passport and piercing it with a saber. The following month, Muhaxheri uploaded gruesome images on Facebook allegedly depicting him preparing to decapitate a Syrian teenager. Another photo showed him holding the severed head.

In September, the U.S. government included Muhaxheri, who for a time was thought to be dead, on its list of “specially designated global terrorists,” a distinction that comes with financial sanctions. Muhaxheri reportedly has a history with Americans: He once worked at the U.S. military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, where 800 American service members are deployed on active duty. He later worked as a contractor for two years in Afghanistan, according to local media reports.

Many Muslim leaders have been outspoken in denouncing those who have joined extremist groups in the Middle East. The Kosovo Islamic Community, an independent religious organization, has called for Kosovar fighters in Syria “to go back to their families and the country as soon as possible.” The organization has also criticized groups that have recruited in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, the government, which remains intensely loyal to Western countries, has sought to weed out alleged supporters of radical groups. In an op-ed in the Guardian on Sept. 30, Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci vowed to “crush any cells that believe, wrongfully, that they can find cover in Kosovo.”

In addition to the recent arrests, the government has also shut down 14 Islamic NGOs and is investigating whether any of the organizations have ties to radical Islamic groups.

In addition to the recent arrests, the government has also shut down 14 Islamic NGOs and is investigating whether any of the organizations have ties to radical Islamic groups. “We are paying back our allies,” says the senior intelligence official. He notes that the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, the country’s equivalent of the CIA, does not oppose the United States targeting Kosovo citizens fighting for the Islamic State; at least eight Kosovars were reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike in September. “They freed us, and now we are responding to their call,” the official says, referencing the recent domestic efforts to stem the flow of fighters.

Between three and six Kosovars have returned from Iraq and Syria each month on average over the past few months, according to the Kosovo Intelligence Agency. But the intelligence official is optimistic that the recent arrests, coupled with active warrants for 30 believed still to be fighting in Syria, will help restrict the migration of radical extremists to the region.

Yet some people are concerned that the arrests could backfire and radicalize more people.

“Kosovo needs a more proactive approach,” says Abit Hoxha, a security analyst with the Kosovo Center for Security Studies. “Arresting these people and accusing them without having done anything [to improve governance] will become a boomerang.”

A young Kosovar from Kacanik, Muhaxheri’s hometown, agrees. “People are dismayed because this is unjust,” the 24-year-old says after Friday prayer. “This worsens the situation. Wouldn’t you be annoyed if your brother were arrested? We Muslims are all brothers.”

Some Kosovars are frustrated that the government is not addressing the root causes of extremism: poverty, a poor education system, and a dysfunctional government. “Our education system is inadequate, and it leaves people susceptible to religious propaganda,” Hoxha says.

Kosovo’s unemployment rate is 45 percent, according to the World Bank; among youth, it soars to 60 percent. Half the country’s population is under the age of 25. Those who do have a job earn on average $470 per month.

Muhamet, the eldest brother in the Musliu family, says Kosovo’s dire economic straits are partially to blame for his brother’s death. “Kosovo is turning upside down,” he says. “If my brothers had a job here, perhaps they would have not thought of going there.”

“But the state,” he adds, “did not care.”

ARMEND NIMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Gang Warfare On German Streets Between ISIS Creeps and Kurds

German Police Respond to Savage Battle Between Kurds, ISIS Supporters

guardian express lv

Added by Graham Noble

German police were forced to respond to a Kurdish protest that ended in violence
In the German city of Hamburg, a savage battle erupted last week as ISIS supporters attacked a protest by Kurds, prompting police to respond with water cannons and batons. The level of violence shocked police and residents alike and was described, in reports, as “unprecedented” and as ferocious as any unrest the country had witnessed in years.

On the evening of October 7, Kurds had gathered outside the Al-Nour mosque in a central district of the city. Numbering around 400, they had come to protest the continuing Islamic State assault on the town of Kobane in northern Syria. Kobane, close to the Turkish border, is a Kurdish town that, after weeks of heavy fighting between ISIS and Kurdish fighters, has seen the civilian population driven out and may be close to falling into the hands of the Islamic extremists. Although the Islamic State’s advance upon the town has been slowed by US and allied airstrikes, the Kurdish defenders have made little progress in their efforts to stave off an ISIS takeover.

According to reports, the Kurdish demonstration in Hamburg had begun peacefully but protesters were accosted by a large group of ISIS supporters armed with bats, machetes, bricks and skewers. In the ensuing violence, one man was stabbed and another was attacked with a machete, sustaining serious injury to his legs. Over a dozen injuries were reported and hundreds of weapons were eventually seized by police, who also made 22 arrests. The violence lasted through the night and around 1,300 police officers deployed with batons and water cannons in an effort to quell the unrest.

On the same day, violence also erupted between Yazidis and Chechen immigrants in the town of Celle, about one hour south of Hamburg. Police have accused radical Muslim preachers of using social media to incite the Chechens. Yazidis are not Muslims but are a Kurdish-speaking people who have been heavily persecuted by ISIS. There is a large Yazidi community in Celle. The confrontation in Celle resulted in nine injuries.

Germany has a large Muslim population and it is estimated that at least 100 Muslims, who traveled from Germany to the Middle East to fight with ISIS have now returned to Germany. More than one of the country’s leading politicians have been threatened with death by Islamists. Tobias Huch of the Free Democratic Party [FDP], who has been actively raising money to provide humanitarian aid to the besieged Kurds in Iraq, was threatened with beheading. Huch is currently being protected by German police and says that he is not afraid, but has taken additional security precautions to avoid a potential assassination attempt.

Addressing the recent violence in Hamburg, German Police Union chairman Rainer Wendt said that police in the city had “experienced life-threatening brute force” and went on to warn that the continued clashes between supporters of the Islamic State and the Kurdish community was “threatening to unleash a proxy war on German soil.” Joachim Lenders, head of the Police union in Hamburg, said “The violence in the early hours of Wednesday was of a ruthless and inhuman brutality as I have rarely experienced.”

The night of savage violence in Hamburg is not expected to be the last confrontation between Kurds and ISIS supporters in Germany and the nation’s police remain in a state of readiness, in anticipation of further confrontations.

Graham J Noble

Sources:

Gatestone Institute
Assyrian International News Agency
SF Gate

Saudi Oversupply Intended To Drive Underpriced US “Fracked” Oil from Market

[SEE: What is the real cost of shale gas?]

Saudi Arabia tests US ties with oil price

Financial Times

A worker looks at journalists during a media tour of the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km (99 miles) from Riyadh, June 23, 2008. State oil giant Saudi Aramco is adamant the biggest new field in its plan to raise oil capacity will arrive bang on schedule in June next year. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (SAUDI ARABIA)©Reuters

By encouraging oil prices to fall, Saudi Arabia is taking a calculated gamble in its already strained relationship with the US, hoping that the potential damage to America’s shale industry will be offset by the geopolitical and economic prizes on offer to Washington.

At a time when the US and Saudi Arabia are fighting a new war together in Iraq and Syria, the Saudis have taken the bold step of asserting their pivotal role in the oil market and subtly squeezing the finances of some of America’s fledgling shale companies.

Yet, at the same time, the falling oil price will deliver a de facto tax cut for American consumers and – if sustained – will hit both Russia and Iran at a time when Washington is trying to pressure both countries.

Deborah Gordon, director of the energy and climate programme at the Carnegie Endowment, sees the Saudi pressure on oil prices as a carefully calibrated move that will not alienate allies but will cause problems for rivals and foes such as Russia and Iran.

“The Saudis seem to have concluded that this could be a game-changer for them,” she says. “They get several benefits without hurting the people they do not want to hurt.”

With global demand for oil slowing sharply and US production surging, Saudi Arabia faced a choice. It could have cut production to stabilise the market, shouldering the burden itself. Instead, it appears so far to have decided to let the price fall, indicating that it would be happy with an oil price around $80, rather than the $100 it has previously backed.

With new oil production in the US and elsewhere calling into question the future of Opec, the Saudis have reminded the oil market of their central role in determining prices.

Sustained lower prices could push the Saudi budget into deficit – raising new questions about political stability – but many analysts believe the kingdom’s huge foreign exchange reserves allow it to withstand a period of reduced revenue.

The Saudi decision comes at a time of high tension in its relationship with the US. For the past year, the two countries have been at loggerheads over the Obama administration’s attempts to strike a nuclear deal with Iran, which the Saudis see as a naive accommodation of a perennial rival. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has become a key part of the US-led coalition fighting Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria.

By pushing oil prices lower, Saudi Arabia is helping to orchestrate some geopolitical outcomes that will be very welcome in Washington. The plunging price will create further problems for the Russian economy, which is already suffering under the weight of US and European sanctions in response to its intervention in Ukraine.

Iran’s economy will also be affected by lower oil prices although the impact for the nuclear talks is harder to judge. While Saudi Arabia would like the negotiations to fail, it is possible that the prospect of lower oil revenues could encourage Tehran to make concessions to the US because it will be even keener to win relief from international sanctions.

With global growth slowing, lower oil prices are good news for the weakening economies in Europe and China – who are also among Saudi Arabia’s biggest customers – and will bring direct benefits to US consumers. In spite of the shale boom, the US is still one of the world’s largest net importers of oil.

The Saudis seem to have concluded that this could be a game-changer for them. They get several benefits without hurting the people they do not want to hurt– Deborah Gordon, Carnegie Endowment

Ed Morse of Citigroup estimates that $80 Brent crude is equivalent to a tax cut averaging almost $600 for every household in the US. Jason Bordoff, a former energy official with President Obama’s administration, now director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said: “For the US economy and US consumers, lower oil prices are a great thing. They will create winners and losers in different places. There is a downside. But the upside is greater than the downside.”

“There is not a whiff of collusion” between the US and the Saudis, says Bob McNally, a former George W Bush administration official now president of the Rapidan Group, unlike in the 1980s when lower prices helped pressure the Soviet economy amid rumours of a deal between Riyadh and the Reagan administration. “But for the US, there are pleasing aspects to this.”

Against all those potential benefits for the US, however, the lower prices also appear to be designed to put a brake on the shale oil boom, which has been the most significant upheaval in global energy for a decade.

Interactive map

Mapping the US oil boom

New extraction techniques boost US oil production

The International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries’ governments, reported recently that US production of liquid petroleum, including crude oil and natural gas liquids such as propane, had drawn level with that of Saudi Arabia over the summer.

Prices at these levels or lower will put financial strain on US shale producers, and several of them are already talking about having to cut back their capital spending. If they do cut, then next year US oil production growth will slow, and could even go into reverse if prices fall even lower.

The Unsustainable Fracking Bubble

they tell us

we’re on the cusp of an oil & gas revolution.

But what if it’s all just a short-term bubble?

The Story

time-coverWe’re being told that – thanks to technological advances like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – the US is undergoing an energy revolution, leading us in a few short years to become once again the world’s biggest oil producer and an exporter of natural gas. According to the Oil & Gas Industry and their proponents, “fracking” will provide the US with energy security, low energy prices for the foreseeable future, more than a million jobs, and economic growth.

“There’s no doubt that we’re seeing an industrial revolution… taking place because of the shale revolution.”
–Ed Morse, Global Head of Commodities Research at Citigroup

“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years, and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.”
–President Barack Obama

“[The Utica Shale is] the biggest thing economically to hit Ohio, since maybe the plow.”
–Former Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon

“[The surge of U.S. oil and gas production] is the biggest change in the energy world since World War II.”
–Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency

“Many people in the oil industry were skeptical [that we had reached peak oil], and the extraordinary recent expansion of unconventional gas and oil production in North America proved the optimists to be correct.”
–Christof Rühl, Group Chief Economist at British Petroleum

Pointing to record low natural gas prices and increased production, policymakers and the media on both sides of the political aisle, as well as investors and utilities, have bought the hype and are shifting their plans and proposals with the expectation that the shale revolution is here to stay.

The Reality

The Reality is that the so-called shale revolution is nothing more than a bubble, driven by record levels of drilling, speculative lease & flip practices on the part of shale energy companies, fee-driven promotion by the same investment banks that fomented the housing bubble, and by unsustainably low natural gas prices. Geological and economic constraints – not to mention the very serious environmental and health impacts of drilling – mean that shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) are far from the solution to our energy woes.

Diminishing Returns

Shale plays suffer from the law of diminishing returns. Wells experience severe rates of depletion, belying industry claims that wells will be in operation for 30-40 years. For example, the average depletion rate of wells in the Bakken Formation (the largest tight oil play in the US) is 69% in the first year and 94% over the first five years.

The Drilling Treadmill

This steep rate of depletion requires a frenetic pace of drilling, just to offset declines. Roughly 7,200 new shale gas wells need to be drilled each year at a cost of over $42 billion simply to maintain current levels of production. And as the most productive well locations are drilled first, it’s likely that drilling rates and costs will only increase as time goes on.

Unsustainable Prices

Wall Street promoted the shale gas drilling frenzy which resulted in prices lower than the cost of production and thereby profited [enormously] from mergers & acquisitions and other transactional fees. The oil and gas industry is now demonstrating reticence to engage in further shale investment, abandoning pipeline projects, IPOs and joint venture projects.

A Shale Bubble

As a result of these realities – high depletion rates, the need to drill ever more wells to maintain production, decreasingly productive wells as the best locations are drilled and depleted, and the higher prices required to justify this investment – our country will have drilled and fracked our way down a blind alley (with huge associated economic and environmental costs) for a short-lived energy boom.

Pakistani Woman Sentenced To HANG For Saying, “Jesus Is Alive”

Family photo of Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.
Family photo of Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.
[Miss Bibi has been sentenced to hang for saying the following: ]
“Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins…Our Christ is alive.”
“On June 19, 2009 there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam, and, according to VOM sources, Asia responded by telling the Muslim women that Jesus is alive.”

By John Hall for MailOnline and Jack Crone for MailOnline

A Pakistani Christian woman has been sentenced to hang after she was accused of making ‘blasphemous’ comments about the prophet Mohammed during an argument.

While working as a berry picker in 2009, 46-year-old Asia Bibi got into a dispute with a group of Muslim women who objected to her drinking their water because as a Christian she was considered ‘unclean’.

Hours after the incident one of the women reported mother-of-five Ms Bibi to a local cleric, claiming she had made disparaging remarks about the prophet Mohammed during the row.

As a result of the allegations, a furious mob arrived at Ms Bibi’s home and savagely beat her and members of her family.

She was later arrested, charged with blasphemy and eventually sentenced to death – with her entire family forced to go into hiding after receiving threats on their lives.

This week, despite international outrage and hundreds of thousands of people signing a petition for her release, Ms Bibi lost an appeal to have her sentence overturned, meaning she now faces death by hanging.

The shocking case hit global headlines after two prominent politicians who tried to help Ms Bibi were assassinated, one by his own bodyguard.

Lawyers showered the killer with rose petals when he appeared in court and the judge who convicted him of murder had to flee the country.

Ms Bibi’s lawyer, Naeem Shakir, said her accusers have contradicted themselves many times since first raising their complaint.

Two witnesses allegedly involved in the incident did not appear in court, he said.

A Muslim prayer leader did appear, saying he did not witness the original altercation, but that Ms Bibi had confessed to the supposed crime in front of him.

Russian Air Force Opens New Air Base In Belarus In 2016

Russian Air Force base in Belarus to open in 2016

Russia- beyond the headlines

Interfax A Russian airbase accommodating Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets will open in Bobruisk, Belarus, in 2016, Russian Air Force Commander Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said. “The Russian Air Force base in Belarus will open in 2016. Su-27 fighters will be stationed there,” Bondarev told reporters during a three-day tour of new facilities of the Russian Air Force. He said Russian jets would be stationed at a military airfield in Bobruisk and specifications for the airfield’s renovation had already been drafted. A number of Su-27 fighters of the Russian Air Force will be deployed at another Belarusian airfield, Baranovichi.

Serbian (Политика) Interview with Vladimir Putin–October 16, 2014

Политика (Serbian)EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: VLADIMIR PUTIN, President of the Russian Federation

Obama’s approach to Russia is hostile

politika политичка

COMPLETE INTERVIEW Russian-Serbian relations are on the rise. – Western sanctions will force many countries to reconsider the wisdom entrust their funds the American banking system

(Photo Kremlin)

In the first interview with a medium to post-Yugoslav space, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin stressed the importance of a worthy celebration of the great anti-fascist anniversaries such as the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade. By creating an open allusion to the contemporary political context and relations with the United States, Putin said that “conviction in their own exceptionalism” can lead to horrific consequences.

This is not the first time that the Russian president in a foreign media criticizing the American belief in its own exceptionalism – he did it a year ago in the “New York Times” – but never before “conviction in their own exceptionalism” is not put on the same level with the criminal ideology that was demolished seventy years ago.

Due to high occupancy, Vladimir Putin questions the “Policy” answered electronically, as it has in recent years the custom when giving interviews in written media.

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What are your views on the Russian-Serbian relations today? What’s in this field has made ​​in the last 20 years and what are your expectations for the future?

Serbia has always been and remains one of the key partners of Russia in southeastern Europe. Our countries and peoples combines centuries old traditions of friendship and fruitful cooperation. Developing these relationships contribute to the common interests in politics, economy, culture, as well as in other spheres of life. Today, the Russian-Serbian relations on the rise. It is possible that the President Tomislav Nikolic 2013 interstate sign declaration on strategic partnership, which was confirmed by a common focus towards the development of comprehensive cooperation in all key areas. We support active political contacts during which the trust discuss current bilateral issues and international issues, we agree on a common practical steps. Our countries cooperate closely in the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe and in many other organizations.

D and you satisfied with the current level of cooperation between Serbia and Russia?

We are pleased with the consequent development of economic ties, where contributions are existing free trade regime between the two countries. In 2013, mutual trade exchange increased by 15 percent and amounted to 1.97 billion dollars, but only after the first half of 2014, trade between the povećanaza another 16.5 percent, and for that period it has already amounted to 1.2 billion. We estimate that the value of trade, according to results from the first half of this year will amount to two billion dollars.

Positive dynamics is reflected in the investment sphere. The overall scope of Russian investments in Serbia surpassed the amount of three billion dollars. Fundamental part of these resources is in a strategically important energy industry. The best example of our successful cooperation is the company “Petroleum Industry of Serbia”, which is the loss-making company into a main payer -punioca Serbian state budget. Implementation of the project “South Stream” must make Serbia more than two billion of new investment, but also substantially enhance energy security zemlje.Uz share an open joint stock company, “Russian Railways” and our credit support to realize the projects and renovation and modernization of railway infrastructure in Serbia . talks about a possible reduction of Russian gas supplies to Europe due to the debts of Ukraine. Whether European consumers expect a cold winter?

Firstly I would like to point out that Russia fully complies with its obligations in connection with the delivery of gas to European consumers. We are focused towards further deepening of cooperation with the EU in the energy sector, where we are natural partners in a transparent and predictable basis. Since 2000, together with our European partners we have managed to achieve a number of significant projects, including the “Nord Stream”, which allows to minimize transit risks and to ensure uninterrupted supply of gas to European countries. Over the past months, “Gazprom” is rapidly increasing gas supplies to the European underground storage. These measures were taken to prevent interruptions in gas transit and to provide comfortable conditions for overcoming peak consumption during the winter. Of course, no doubt take into account the risk that is related to the crisis in Ukraine. We were forced to cut gas supplies to Ukraine in June of this year because the Kiev authorities refused to pay for delivered gas. In late summer and early fall of this year, a series of intensive consultations in the trilateral format of Russia-EU-Ukraine, during which they discussed the possible mutually acceptable Raspleti on issues of regulation of Ukrainian debts for gas, restarts fuel deliveries to Ukraine, which is itself suspended the Ukrainian side and stable transit of hydrocarbons – energy for Europe. We are ready to continue constructive negotiations on these issues. But if we are talking about further prospects of gas exports from Russia to Europe then it is obvious that the problem of transit through Ukrainian territory still exists. One of the obvious decision is to diversify supply routes -tranzita. In connection with this we calculate that the European Commission will soon regulate the final question on the use of the full capacity of the gas pipeline OPAL.–[Editor’s note:  European Commission postpones decision on OPAL gas pipeline capacity until mid-Sept]

What is the future of the project “South Stream”, for whose realization and Serbia have very zainter e Sovana?

It is necessary to unblock the situation with the “South Stream”. We are confident that this project will provide an important contribution to overall energy security of Europe. Of that will get everyone, and Russia and European consumers, including Serbia.

What do you think is the ultimate goal of economic sanctions the EU and the United States against Russia?

This question would be more appropriate to place the United States and the EU, whose logic is difficult to understand. For any man who has no preconceived ideas, it is clear that Russia has not supported the coup in Ukraine, the coup that led to immediate and serious internal political crisis and the civil schism. It is unconstitutional takeover of the storm has become a starting point for future events, including events in the Crimea. Understood the complicated and unpredictable developments residents of Crimea, defending their right to mother tongue, culture and history, they decided, in full accordance with the UN Charter, to hold a referendum, according to the results of the referendum peninsula of Crimea is united with Russia. Therefore, our partners must clearly understand that all attempts to pressure Russia over illegitimate unilateral and restrictive steps, not approaching the regulation of our relationship, but only hinder dialogue.

What kind of tendency toward escalation of the conflict in Ukraine can speak, if the decision on the new set of sanctions adopted sanctions introduced almost simultaneously with the achievement of an agreement on the initiation of the peace process? If the main goal of isolating our country, it is quite absurd and illusory goal. It is clear that this goal is impossible to achieve, although, of course, the economic health of Europe and the entire world at all that can be inflicted enormous damage.

Do you and sanctions against Russia can last and how much can harm Russia?

Regarding the duration of periods of restrictive measures, it also depends on the United States and the EU. From our side, we will access a balanced assessment of risks and consequences of sanctions, and we react to them, starting with the national interest. It is obvious that the reduction of mutual trust can not and do not make a negative impact both on general international business environment, and the activities of European and American companies in Russia, which will not be easily liquidated damages its reputation. At the same time, there are other countries imagine how smart entrust their funds the American banking system and strengthen the dependence of economic cooperation with the United States.

How do you see the future of Russian-Ukrainian relations?

For Russia, relations with Ukraine have always been and continue to be of great importance. Our peoples are inextricably linked common spiritual, cultural, and civilizational roots. For over a century we are living in a single state, and this vast historical experience, interconnectivity million destiny is not possible to cross out or forgotten. Although it is now created complicated stage in Russian-Ukrainian relations, we are interested in the progressive, equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation with Ukrainian partners. In practice it will be possible after achieving a stable peace and stabilization of the situation in Ukraine. Therefore, we hope to overcome the prolonged deep political and economic crisis. For today appeared a real possibility for the termination of armed conflict, and in fact the civil war. The first steps in this direction have already been made. It is urgently required to start a real dialogue in Ukraine with the participation of representatives of all regions, of all political forces. Such an approach has been recorded in the Geneva declaration of 17 April this year. Within the framework of such opštenacionalnog dialogue is necessary to discuss the relevant issues of constitutional order and the future of the country, in which all citizens of Ukraine, without exception, be able to live comfortably and safely.

Whether between Russia and the United States after all that’s happened again a strategic partnership, or relations will be placed on some other basis?

As for the prospects of Russian-American relations, we have always sought to open, partner relations with the United States. However, in return we of the United States received various complaints and attempts to interfere in our internal affairs, and what is happening from the beginning of the year even more depressing. Washington has actively supported the “Majdan” in Kiev, and, after his charges in Kiev its unrestrained nationalism provoked resentment significant part of Ukraine and threw the country into civil war, began to blame Russia that she provoked the crisis. Then he and President Barack Obama stands with the UN General Assembly included “Russian aggression in Europe” in the list of the three main threats to mankind today, along with the deadly Ebola fever and terrorist group “Islamic state.”

Together with the restrictions directed against entire sectors of our economy, such an approach is difficult to name different from hostile.

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Important center in Nis

I’m glad you and Serbian entrepreneurs vigorously conquer promising Russian market, delivering high-quality agricultural and industrial products. No, I would like to point out another important sphere of bilateral cooperation. Experts of Russian-Serbian humanitarian center in Nis in the last year have repeatedly participated in the mitigation of consequences of emergency situations in the Balkans. In May this year, at the time of the great flood, Russian rescuers helped to evacuate the residents of flooded areas. Via several flights of aircraft of the Ministry for Emergency Situations of Russia in Serbia was delivered more than 140 tons of Russian humanitarian aid. Thus, evidence of growing mutual interest of citizens of Russia and Serbia, not only humanitarian contacts, there is a cultural area. During the autumn of this year in Serbia successfully conducted Days of Russian Spiritual Culture, the central event of the exhibition “Russia and Serbia. History spiritual connection XIV-XIX century “. We want to expand the practice of cultural, educational, scientific and youth exchanges, to encourage tourist travel and sports događaje.Siguran I will visit Belgrade to give a new impetus to serious traditionally friendly Russian-Serbian relations. Which year after year growth and strengthening.

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Unreasonable to blackmail Russia

In the United States došloi to public statements about the suspension of cooperation with us in the conquest of space and nuclear energy. Americans have frozen activity of Russian-American Presidential Commission, which was formed in 2009 and in whose composition is entered 21 working groups, including those dealing with the issues of combating terrorism and illicit drug trafficking.

But the current chill in relations between our countries is not the first. We hope that the partners understand the unreasonableness of attempting to blackmail Russia, and will not remember what was fraught with discord between the two major nuclear states when the strategic stability of the world at stake. From our side, we are ready for the development of constructive cooperation based on the principles of equality and respect for the real interest of both …

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Gratitude to the Serbian leadership

Arriving in Belgrade to mark the 70 th anniversary of liberation from German fascists. How important are these commemorations?

First of all I want to express my gratitude to the Serbian leadership for the invitation to come to visit the Republic of Serbia to take part in festive events dedicated to the 70 anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from the German-fascist invaders.

We are sincerely grateful Serbian friends on careful comparison to the memory of Soviet soldiers, who, together with the fighters of the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia fought against Hitler’s occupying forces. During the Second World War on the territory of the former Yugoslavia were killed, wounded or missing more than 31,000 soldiers and officers of the Red Army. About 6,000 Soviet citizens fought against the invaders in the ranks of the People’s Liberation Army. Their accomplishment is closer to our common victory over Nazism, and will forever remain in the memories of the people as an example of courage, strong will, self-sacrificing service to the fatherland.

The significance of the upcoming events is difficult to overestimate. Seventy years ago, our nations together brought down the criminal ideology misanthrope who threatened the existence of civilization. Even today, it is important that people in different countries and on different continents to preserve the memory of the kind of terrible consequences may result in the conviction of his own excellence, striving to achieve by any means questionable geopolitical aims, neglect of basic principles of law and morality. Must do everything in order to prevent future similar tragedies.

Unfortunately, the “vaccine” of the Nazi virus that during the Nuremberg process developed in some countries of Europe, losing strength. Clear evidence of the open appearance of neo-Nazism which has become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic countries. Of particular concern in this context causes the situation in Ukraine, where he performed in February unconstitutional coup that did nationalists and other radical groups.

Today is our common obligation – to oppose Nazism to worship. To strongly resist attempts to audit the outcome of the Second World War. To consistently fight against all forms of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism.

I am convinced that it will contribute to the jubilee celebrations in Belgrade, which should become more an expression of sincere friendship between our peoples, based on feelings of mutual sympathy and respect the spiritual closeness of the brotherhood-in-arms in the Second World War. We expect our preservation of historical memory and continue to work together to help strengthen peace, stability and prosperity of the common European space.

Miroslav Lazanski
Published: 10.16.2014.

Свет

ЕКСКЛУЗИВНИ ИНТЕРВЈУ: ВЛАДИМИР ПУТИН, председник Руске Федерације

Обамин приступ Русији је непријатељски

КОМПЛЕТАН ИНТЕРВЈУ Руско-српски односи су у успону. – Западне санкције натераће многе земље да преиспитају колико је паметно поверавати своја средства америчком банкарском систему

У првом интервјуу неком медију на постјугословенском простору, председник Руске Федерације Владимир Владимирович Путин истакао је значај достојног обележавања великих антифашистичких јубилеја попут 70. годишњице ослобођења Београда. Правећи отворену алузију на савремени политички контекст и односе са Сједињеним Америчким Државама, Путин је истакао да „убеђеност у властиту изузетност“ може да доведе до стравичних последица.

То није први пут да руски председник у неком страном медију критикује америчко уверење у сопствену изузетност – учинио је то пре годину дана у „Њујорк тајмсу” – али никада пре „убеђеност у властиту изузетност“ није ставио у исту раван са злочиначком идеологијом која је срушена пре седамдесет година.

Због велике заузетости, Владимир Путин је на питања „Политике” одговорио електронским путем, што му је последњих година обичај кад даје интервјуе писаним медијима.

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Како гледате на руско-српске односе данас? Шта се на том плану постигло у последњих 20 година и каква су ваша очекивања за будућност?

Србија је увек била и остаје један од кључних партнера Русије на југоистоку Европе. Наше земље и народе уједињује вишевековна традиција пријатељства и плодне сарадње. Развоју таквих односа доприносе заједнички интереси у политици, привреди, култури, као и у другим сферама живота. Данас су руско-српски односи у успону. То ми је омогућило да са председником Томиславом Николићем 2013. потпишем међудржавну Декларацију о стратешком партнерству, која је потврдила заједничко усмерење према развоју свеобухватне сарадње у свим кључним областима. Подржавамо активне политичке контакте током којих са поверењем разматрамо актуелна билатерална питања и међународне проблеме, договарамо се о заједничким практичким корацима. Наше државе тесно сарађују у УН, ОЕБС-у, Савету Европе и у више других организација.

Да ли сте задовољни садашњим степеном сарадње Србије и Русије?

Задовољни смо доследним развојем економских веза, чему доприносии постојећи режим слободне трговине између наше две земље. У 2013. години узајамна робна размена се повећала за 15 одсто и износила је 1,97 милијарди долара, а само после прве половине 2014. године робна размена је повећаназа још 16,5 одсто, односно само за тај период она већ износи 1,2 милијарде долара. Процењујемо да ће вредност робне размене, према резултатима из прве половине ове године, износити две милијарде долара.

Позитивна динамика се огледа и у сфери инвестиција. Свеукупни опсег руских улагања у Србију надмашио је износ од три милијарде долара. Темељни део ових средстава је усмерен у стратешки важну енергетску привредну грану. Најбољи пример наше успешне сарадње јесте компанија „Нафтна индустрија Србије“, која се из предузећа губиташа претворила у главног платишу –пуниоца српског државног буџета. Реализација пројекта „Јужни ток“ мора да донесе Србији више од две милијарде евра нових улагања, али и да суштински појача енергетску сигурност земље.Уз учешће отвореног деоничког друштва „Руске железнице“ и нашу кредитну подршку остварују се и пројекти реновирања и модернизације железничке инфраструктуре Србије.Говори се о могућем смањивању испорука руског гаса за Европу због дуговања Украјине. Да ли европске потрошаче очекује хладна зима?

Пре свега желим да истакнем да Русија потпуно испуњава своје обавезе у вези са испоруком гаса европским потрошачима. Усмерени смо према даљем продубљивању сарадње са ЕУ у сфери енергетике, где смо и природни партнери на транспарентној и предвидљивој основи. Почев од 2000. године заједно са европским партнерима успели смо да остваримо низ значајних пројеката, укључујући „Северни ток“, који омогућавају да се минимизирају транзитни ризици и да се обезбеди непрекидно снабдевање гасом европских земаља. Током последњих месеци „Гаспром“ убрзано повећава залихе гаса у европским подземним складиштима. Ове мере су предузете да би се спречили прекиди у транзиту гаса и да се обезбеде комфорнији услови за превазилажење врхунца потрошње у зимском периоду. Наравно, несумњиво узимамо у обзир и ризик који је у вези са кризним појавама у Украјини. Били смо приморани да прекинемо испоруке гаса Украјини у јуну ове године јер су кијевске власти одбиле да плаћају већ испоручени гас. Крајем лета и почетком јесени ове године одржан је низ интензивних консултација у трилатералном формату Русија–ЕУ–Украјина, током којих су  разматрани могући узајамно прихватљиви расплети о питањима регулисања украјинског дуговања за гас, поновног покретања испорука горива за Украјину, што је суспендовала сама украјинска страна, и стабилног транзита угљоводоника – енергената за Европу. Спремни смо за наставак конструктивних преговора по овим темама. Но, ако говоримо о даљим перспективама извоза гаса из Русије за Европу онда је очигледно да проблем транзита преко украјинске територије још увек постоји. Једна од очигледних одлука јесте диверзификација маршрута испорука –транзита. У вези с тим рачунамо да ће Европска комисија у скорије време регулисати коначно питање о коришћењу у пуном капацитету гасовода ОПАЛ.

Каква је будућност пројекта „Јужни ток“, за чију је реализацију Србија врло заинтересована?

Неопходно је деблокирање ситуације са „Јужним током“. Убеђени смо да ће овај пројекат дати битан допринос свеобухватној енергетској безбедности Европе. Од тога ће добити сви, и Русија и европски потрошачи, укључујући и Србију.

Шта је по вашем мишљењу крајњи циљ економских санкција ЕУ и САД против Русије?

Ово питање било би исправније да поставите САД и ЕУ, чију је логику тешко схватити. За било ког човека који нема предубеђења јасно је да није Русија потпомагала државни удар у Украјини, државни удар који је довео до тренутне и озбиљне унутрашњополитичке кризе и до цивилног раскола. Управо антиуставно преузимање власти на јуриш постало је полазна тачка за наредне догађаје, укључујући и догађаје на Криму. Разумевши компликован и непредвидљив развој ситуације становници Крима, бранећи своје право на матерњи језик, културу и историју, одлучили су, у пуном складу са Повељом УН,да одрже референдум, а према резултатима тог референдума полуострво Крим се ујединило са Русијом. Зато наши партнери морају прецизно да разумеју да сви покушаји притиска на Русију, преко једностраних нелегитимних и рестриктивних корака, не приближавају уређење наших односа већ само отежавају дијалог.

О каквој тежњи према деескалацији сукоба у Украјини може да се говори, ако се одлуке о новим пакетима санкција доносе и санкције уводе скоро истовремено са постизањем договора о покретању мировног процеса? Ако је главни циљ изоловање наше земље, онда је то сасвим апсурдан и илузорни циљ. Јасно је да је тај циљ немогуће остварити, иако, наравно, привредном здрављу Европе, па и читавог света при свему томе може да буде нанесена велика штета.

До када те санкције против Русије могу да трају и колико могу да нашкоде Русији?

Што се тиче рокова трајања рестриктивних мера, то такође зависи од САД и ЕУ. Са наше стране, ми ћемо избалансирано приступати процењивању ризика и последица примене санкција, па ћемо на њих реаговати полазећи од националних интереса. Очигледно је да снижење узајамног поверења не може а да не изврши негативан утицај како генерално на међународну пословну климу, тако и на делатност европских и америчких компанија у Русији, за које неће бити лако да ликвидирају штету свом угледу. Истовремено ће се и друге земље замислити колико је паметно поверавати своја средства америчком банкарском систему и јачати зависност од економске кооперације са САД.

Како видите будућност руско-украјинских односа?

За Русију су односи с Украјином одувек били и даље ће бити од великог значаја. Наши народи су нераскидиво везани заједничким духовним, културним и цивилизацијским коренима. У току више столећа смо живели у јединственој држави па ово огромно историјско искуство, узајамну повезаност милиона судбина није могуће прецртати, нити заборавити. И поред тога што је сада настала компликована етапа у руско-украјинским односима, заинтересовани смо за прогресивну, равноправну и узајамно корисну сарадњу с украјинским партнерима. У пракси ће то бити могуће након постизања стабилног мира и стабилизације ситуације у Украјини. Зато се и надамо превазилажењу продужене дубоке политичке и економске кризе. Јер, данас се појавила стварна могућност за престанак оружаног сукоба, а фактички грађанског рата. Први кораци у овом правцу су већ направљени. Неопходно је што пре почети реални дијалог унутар Украјине уз учешће представника свих регија, свих политичких снага. Такав приступ је забележен у Женевској изјави од 17. априла ове године. У оквирима таквог општенационалног дијалога потребно је предметно расправити питања о уставном поретку и будућности земље,у којој ће сви држављани Украјине без изузетка моћи да комфорно и безбедно живе.

Хоће ли између Русије и САД после свега што се догодило опет бити стратешког партнерства, или ће односи бити постављени на неке друге основе?

Што се тиче перспектива руско-америчких веза, увек смо тежили отвореним, партнерским односима са САД. Међутим, заузврат смо од стране САД добијали различите примедбе и покушаје мешања у наше унутрашње послове, а оно што се дешава од почетка ове године депримира још више. Вашингтон је активно подржао „Мајдан“ у Кијеву, те је, након што су његови штићеници у Кијеву својим разузданим национализмом изазвали нерасположење значајног дела Украјине и бацили земљу у грађански рат, почео да криви Русију да је она испровоцирала кризу. Затим је и председник Барак Обама са трибине Генералне скупштине УН укључио „руску агресију у Европи“ у списак три главне претње за човечанство данас, заједно са смртоносном грозницом еболом и терористичком групом „Исламска држава“.

Заједно са ограничењима усмереним против целих сектора наше привреде, такав приступ је тешко назвати другачије него непријатељским.

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Важан центар у Нишу

Драго ми је да и српски предузетници енергично освајају перспективно руско тржиште, испоручују квалитетне пољопривредне и индустријске производе. Но, желео бих да истакнем још једну важну сферу билатералне сарадње. Стручњаци руско-српског хуманитарног центра у Нишу током последњих година више пута су учествовали у санацији последица ванредних ситуација на Балкану. У мају ове године, у време великих поплава, руски спасиоци су помагали у евакуацији становника поплављених подручја. Путем неколико летова авиона Министарства Русије за ванредне ситуације у Србију је допремљено више од 140 тона руске хуманитарне помоћи. Дакле, доказ растућих узајамних интереса држављана Русије и Србије, нису само хуманитарни контакти, ту је и област културе. Током јесени ове године у Србији се успешно одвијају Дани руске духовне културе, централни догађај је изложба „Русија и Србија. Историја духовних веза XIV–XIX век“. Желимо да проширимо праксу културних, образовних, научних и омладинских размена, да подстичемо туристичка путовања и спортске догађаје.Сигуран сам да ће посета Београду дати нови озбиљан подстицај традиционално пријатељским руско-српским односима. Који ће из године у годину расти и јачати.

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Неразумно уцењивање Русије

У САД је дошлои до јавних изјава о суспендовању сарадње са нама у освајању свемира и у нуклеарној енергетици. Американци су замрзли делатност руско-америчке Председничке комисије која је била формирана 2009. године и у чији је састав улазила 21 радна група, укључујући и оне које су се бавиле питањима борбе против тероризма и нелегалног промета дроге.

Али садашње захлађење у односима између наших земаља није прво. Надамо се да ће партнери схватити неразумност покушаја да уцењују Русију, те да ће се сетити чиме је бременита неслога између две велике нуклеарне државе кад је стратешка стабилност света у питању. Са наше стране, спремни смо за развој конструктивне сарадње на принципима равноправности и стварног поштовања интереса једних и других…

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Захвалност српском руководству

Долазите у Београд поводом обележавања 70-годишњице ослобођења града од немачких фашиста. Колико су важне такве комеморације?

Пре свега желим да изразим захвалност српском руководству на позиву да дођем у посету Републици Србији и да узмем учешће у свечаним догађајима посвећеним 70-годишњици ослобођења Београда од немачко-фашистичких освајача.

Искрено смо захвални српским пријатељима на брижљивом односу према сећању на совјетске војнике, који су се заједно са борцима Народноослободилачке војске Југославије борили против Хитлерових окупационих снага. Током Другог светског рата на територији бивше Југославије погинуло је, рањено или нестало више од 31.000 војника и официра Црвене армије. Око 6.000 совјетских држављана борило се против освајача у редовима народноослободилачке војске. Њихов подвиг је приближио нашу заједничку победу над нацизмом и заувек ће остати у сећању народа као пример храбрости, чврсте воље, пожртвованог служења отаџбини.

Значај предстојећих догађаја тешко је преценити. Пре седамдесет година наши народи заједно су срушили злочиначку идеологију човекомрзаца која је претила постојању цивилизације. И данас је важно да људи у различитим земљама и на различитим континентима чувају сећање на то до каквих стравичних последица могу да доведу убеђеност у властиту изузетност, настојање да се било којим средствима постигну сумњиви геополитички циљеви, занемаривање елементарних начела права и морала. Мора се учинити све како би се у будућности спречиле сличне трагедије.

На жалост, „вакцина” од нацистичког вируса која се током нирнбершких процеса развила у неким државама Европе, губи снагу. Јасан доказ су отворене појаве неонацизма који је већ постао уобичајена појава у Летонији и другим балтичким земљама. Посебну забринутост у овом контексту изазива ситуација у Украјини, где је у фебруару извршен антиуставни државни удар који су извели националисти и друге радикалне групације.

Данас је наша заједничка обавеза – да се супротстављамо хероизацији нацизма. Да се чврсто одупремо покушајима ревизије исхода Другог светског рата. Да се доследно боримо против свих облика расизма, ксенофобије, агресивног национализма и шовинизма.

Убеђен сам да ће томе допринети и јубиларне свечаности у Београду које би требало да постану још један израз искреног пријатељства наших народа, заснованог на осећајима узајамне симпатије и поштовања, на духовној блискости, на братству по оружју у Другом светском рату. Рачунамо да ће нам очување историјског сећања и даље помагати да заједно јачамо мир, стабилност и просперитет заједничког европског простора.

Мирослав Лазански

Inhuman Saudi Court Sentences Famous Shia Cleric Al-Nimr To Crucifixion

Saudi cleric sentenced to death, crucifixion

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Sheik Nimr al-Nimr’s brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, announced the verdict Wednesday on Twitter

Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr

A picture taken on July 8, 2012 shows Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr wounded in the back of a police car, following his arrest.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES—A well-known Shiite cleric was sentenced to death Wednesday by a court in Saudi Arabia, sparking fears of renewed unrest from his supporters in the kingdom and neighbouring Bahrain.

Sheik Nimr al-Nimr’s case has been watched closely by minority Saudi Shiites in the eastern region of the majority Sunni kingdom. The 54-year-old cleric’s case was seen as a barometer for Saudi Arabia’s handling of Shiite grievances over the past years.

His brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, announced the verdict on Twitter. He had told The Associated Press earlier Wednesday that he would be in the courtroom for the verdict. He could not be immediately reached again for comment.

The cleric had faced charges that also include disobeying the ruler, firing on security forces, sowing discord, undermining national unity and interfering in the affairs of a sisterly nation. A statement by the cleric’s family described the verdict as discretionary, suggesting that what the court found al-Nimr guilty of could have been eligible for a lighter sentence.

The family said the verdict sets a “dangerous precedent for decades to come.”

Prosecutors asked for execution followed by crucifixion. In Saudi Arabia, most death sentences are carried out by beheading. Crucifixion in this context means the body and head would then be put on display as a warning to others.

Al-Nimr had not denied the political charges against him, but denied ever carrying weapons or calling for violence. He can appeal the sentence.

Public figure and renowned activist Jaafar al-Shayeb in eastern Saudi Arabia said the verdict appears to have been handed down for “sedition” and “incitement” of Shiite protests in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

“There’s a big chance there will be a reaction,” al-Shayeb said. “There could be protests, marches, statements of condemnation. … The situation is tense.”

Bahraini activists posted pictures of the Saudi cleric in Shiite strongholds there overnight, but authorities quickly painted over them Wednesday.

Al-Nimr was a key leader of Shiite protests demanding equal rights in 2011. Protests are banned in Saudi Arabia, where many ultraconservatives view Shiites as heretics.

He also openly criticized the Sunni government of Bahrain’s handling of Shiite protests there. Saudi Arabia sent troops to help Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy quell its Shiite uprising in the tiny island nation.

Al-Nimr was arrested in July 2012 when he was shot by security forces in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Four security officers said he had weapons and fired on them first, prosecutors said.

Defence lawyers did not cross-examine security forces because they were not at the hearing they testified in. The lawyers said they were not told of the hearing.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 1,040 people were detained in Shiite protests between February 2011 and August 2014. There are at least 280 still imprisoned.

“I think the message that Saudis are saying is: ‘We will arrest anybody. We don’t care how high profile they are. … nobody is above this. We don’t have any tolerance. We don’t have any flexibility,’“ Human Rights Watch Gulf researcher Adam Coogle said.

Coogle said fears about Iran, the Middle East’s dominant Shiite power, also played into the trial. He said that Saudi authorities view what happened in Bahrain and the Eastern Province of the kingdom as “meddling” by Iran.

“Talking up the Iranian threat is also an excuse to perpetuate systematic discrimination against Shiite citizens,” he said.

Back-Out of Iraq–FORBES Mag.

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Nouri al-Maliki meets with George W. Bush. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. Now Reaping The Iraqi Whirlwind: Washington Should Back Out Of Iraq’s New Civil War

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Image 3 Doug Bandow Contributor

I write about domestic and international policy.

George W. Bush’s foolish invasion of Iraq sowed the wind. Now Iraq, its neighbors, and America are reaping the whirlwind. Some Iraqi officials are calling for the return of U.S. combat troops. Washington should respond with a clear and unequivocal no.

American conservatives traditionally rejected domestic social engineering. Despite its best efforts, government cannot easily remake society and reform humanity—at least for the better. Attempts to do so usually end up going spectacularly wrong, proving to be both destructive and expensive.

But the neoconservative takeover of the Republican Party’s foreign policy pushed the GOP into social engineering on a global scale. Just loose the military, argued the conservative Generalissimos, and all would be well. Peace and democracy would triumph, evil would disappear, the lion would lie down with the lamb, and former opponents would hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

Alas, it didn’t work out that way in Iraq. The dictator, Saddam Hussein, was quickly dispatched, but nothing else went according to plan. At the cost of several thousand dead the U.S. opened a geopolitical Pandora’s Box, unleashing a sectarian-guerrilla conflict which claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives and destroyed minority religious communities. Bush’s legacy was a corrupt, authoritarian, and sectarian state, friendly with Iran and Syria, Washington’s prime adversaries in the Middle East.

Even worse was the emergence of the Islamic State, ripping Iraq apart, seizing large chunks of Syria, threatening Kurdistan, committing murder and mayhem, and threatening to destabilize Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Few imagined that the unintended consequences of Bush’s grand crusade could be so bad.

Most Americans came to recognize that the Iraq invasion had been a debacle, a dramatic demonstration of hubris and incompetence. The disaster’s architects, however, doubled down. Nothing had been their fault, the neocons insisted. If only President Bush had used more troops. Invaded additional countries. Engaged in more killing. Conducted a longer occupation. Then all would have been well.

Indeed, Iraq hawks claimed, the fault for Iraq’s collapse was entirely President Obama’s since he followed the Bush withdrawal schedule. After all, given the disastrous experience of the Bush foreign policy, what responsible U.S. official would conform to the Bush timetable? President Obama should have known the result would be failure. Thus, he should have told the war-weary American people that the U.S. could never leave Iraq, even if the Iraqi people also rejected a continuing U.S. military presence. His failure to do so obviously is why everything fell apart in Iraq.

In fact, even had the administration succeeded in maintaining a garrison, little likely would have changed. Absent an American threat to launch a coup, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would have had no reason to abandon his sectarian course. Washington’s only leverage would have been to threaten to withdraw its troops, which, of course, would have frustrated its objective of staying.

Worse would have been deploying American troops against the Maliki regime’s domestic enemies. That would have made Washington an active combatant in sectarian conflict, tied America even closer to Maliki, and turned U.S. forces into a lightning rod for discontented Iraqis. Maybe the Islamic State would not have developed. But a repeat Baathist-Sunni insurgency targeting American forces might have arisen.

Of course, recognizing that the Bush administration bears the greatest responsibility for the rise of ISIL gives little guidance on how Washington should respond today. However, experience suggests that renewed American intervention is no less likely than before to stir the whirlwind. Bombing jihadist radicals, supporting authoritarian regimes, taking sides in sectarian conflict, playing multiple sides in Syria, hectoring allied states, and pursuing new but still unattainable objectives in the Middle East offer a multitude of opportunities for bloody blowback. Those designing and implementing Middle Eastern policy should display at least a modicum of humility.

In fact, the Islamic State became a significant U.S. interest only because Washington termed it one. Contra the Obama administration’s deceitful claims, ISIL’s fighters are insurgents, not terrorists. The Islamic State stands apart from al-Qaeda because the former is seeking to become an organized government rather than a terrorist group. Acting like the latter, especially against America, would risk forfeiting the former.

Of course, the Islamic State’s objectives could change. But butchering two Americans who fell into its hands illustrated the group’s monstrous philosophy, not its threat potential. Nothing required the U.S. to turn ISIL into an American priority. Indeed, Washington’s attempt to thwart the group’s regional ambitions might push the group back toward al-Qaeda and the terrorism business. The Islamic State is an underfunded government, but would be an uncommonly wealthy terrorist operation.

Moreover, if the administration truly believed ISIL to be such a serious threat, its strategy is a bust. U.S. airstrikes have not prevented the group from advancing within 15 miles away of Baghdad Airport and threatening the Syrian-Kurdish town of Kobani on the Turkish border. More effective ground forces are needed, but the administration refuses to take that step. Yet its tepid intervention has discouraged countries with the greater interest in defeating the Islamic State, most notably Turkey, from taking action as well.

Worse, Washington has stepped up its commitment to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad is an ugly character, but his army is the best force currently opposing ISIL troops. Aiding the so-called “moderate” insurgents in Syria isn’t likely to give them the wherewithal to defeat both ISIL and Assad, but could be enough to tie down more government forces, enabling the Islamic State to win. If ISIL’s black flag eventually flies over Damascus as a result, the president would be pressed to commit combat forces. He could scarcely allow the Islamic State to triumph against America.

The only serious alternative to fully reentering Iraq is to step out, making clear that ISIL’s neighbors will bear the cost of any further advances. Iraq desperately requires a political solution, one which either radically decentralizes government control or formally dismembers the country. Anti-Baghdad Sunni tribes and former Baathists must be separated from their unnatural ally of convenience with a group dedicated to recreating the 7th century.

Jordan and the Gulf States also have much at stake and have military forces available for use. Most important is Turkey, which alone has some 400,000 men under arms. It fears Kurdish separatism and supports the overthrow of Assad. But a functioning Islamic State on the border would create even bigger problems for Ankara. Washington should inform Turkey that there will be no NATO involvement in a problem Ankara can and should confront.

The administration’s Iraq policy has failed. The U.S. is more entangled in conflict and war; Americans have been killed in retaliation for Washington’s intervention; the Islamic State is still advancing; U.S. allies continue to free ride on America; Washington hopes to square a nonexistent circle in Syria.

Alas, those most responsible for the ongoing debacle in Iraq are most insistent on even more extensive and intensive military intervention. This almost certainly would make the problem worse, much worse.

Indeed, Washington’s strategy has failed almost everywhere in the Middle East. And U.S. missteps continue, with policy seemingly set on permanent repeat. American officials should back out of Iraq, not jump in. This may be President Obama’s final opportunity to avoid a lengthy war which could come to define his legacy as the 2003 Iraq War came to define that of George W. Bush.

Medvedev Warns Obama of Things That Cannot Be Undone

Calling Russia ‘threat to humanity’ puts Obama’s sanity in doubt – Medvedev

Russia-Today

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, left, gives interview to CNBS in Moscow. Right: journalist Geoff Cutmore.(RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, left, gives interview to CNBS in Moscow. Right: journalist Geoff Cutmore.(RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

The Russian PM has suggested that Obama’s charges against Russia were caused by a “brain aberration” and added that such rhetoric saddened him.

I am very upset by the fact that President Obama, while speaking from the United Nations’ podium and listing the threats and challenges humanity is currently facing, put Ebola in first place, the Russian Federation second and the Islamic State organization was only in the third place. I don’t even want to comment on this, this is some sort of aberration in the brain,” Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with CNBC television.

The top Russian official stressed that his country was not isolating itself from the rest of the world, but sought mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign nations. “We want to communicate with all civilized peoples on friendly grounds. Of course, this includes our partners from the United States of America, but for this the situation must be leveled,” Medvedev said.

However, the Russian PM also noted that the Western sanctions have inflicted considerable damage to Russia’s cooperation with the US, and without cancellation of this policy there can be no return to partnership.

Let us be frank, it was not us who invented these sanctions, they were invented by our partners in the international community. As our saying goes, let God be their judge. Without any doubt we can survive these sanctions, I am sure that sometime later the sanctions will evaporate, simply cease to exist. But there is no doubt that they have dealt some damage to our relations.”

Medvedev ruled out the possibility of an immediate reset in relations between Russia and the West, adding that he expected the process to composed of at least two stages.

What sort of reset can be there under such conditions? We must first distance from this all and return to a normal position, at least to the starting position and only then we can start elaborating on the development of relations in the future,” he said.

The Russian PM also stressed that Russia can and will find new partners for routine trade and normal investment projects.