ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Kaspersky’s War On Crowdstrike Evangelist Dmitri Alperovitch

[I have discovered the following 2011 analysis by Eugene Kaspersky on the quality of the analysis work by Dmitri Alperovitch, the genius behind CROWDSTRIKE (former analyst for McAfee).  (SEE BELOW) It is totally negative.  Following that report is another Western media song of praise for the work of Crowdstrike…, for some reason, it can only be found in cache.  Between the two points of view, can we begin to understand what just happened w/Kaspersky’s man Ruslan Stoyanov?–(SEE: Head Of Investigations At Russia’s Biggest Cybersecurity Firm Arrested For Treason).]

kasperskys-blog

 

August 18, 2011

Shady RAT: Shoddy RAT.

Last week, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, sent a letter to Dmitri Alperovitch, Vice President of Threat Research at McAfee, requesting further information on his recently published report “Revealed: Operation Shady RAT.”

First of all I’d like to say straight out that we do not share the concerns surrounding the intrusion described in the report, which intrusion the report claims has resulted in the theft of sensitive information of multiple governments, corporations and non-profit organizations.

We conducted detailed analysis of the Shady RAT botnet and its related malware, and can conclude that the reality of the matter (especially the technical specifics) differs greatly from the conclusions made by Mr. Alperovitch.

We consider those conclusions to be largely unfounded and not a good measure of the real threat level. Also, we cannot concede that the McAfee analyst was not aware of the groundlessness of the conclusions, leading us to being able to flag the report as alarmist due to its deliberately spreading misrepresented information.

I’d like to give my own answers to the key questions posed in the letter, to firmly establish the assessment of the situation by Kaspersky Lab as global security researchers – not only for the US, but for all nations concerned with cybercrime and advanced threats.

The report suggests the high-profile intrusions of recent months are neither sophisticated nor novel. How do these unsophisticated intrusions differ from the intrusions that were the focus of your report?

Many of the so-called “unsophisticated” intrusions that the IT security industry has discovered recently and which have been so prominent in the news should in fact be labeled just the opposite: “sophisticated”.

These sophisticated threats – such as TDSS, Zeus, Conficker, Bredolab, Stuxnet, Sinowal and Rustock – pose a much greater risk to governments, corporations and non-profit organizations than Shady RAT.

For example, TDSS controls one of the world’s largest zombie networks, made up of more than 4.5 million computers worldwide. It contains extremely sophisticated techniques and implements a whole range of risky payloads that can lead to the theft of sensitive information and even funds in bank accounts, to spam distribution, DDoS attacks and much more.

On the other hand, most security vendors did not even bother assigning a name to Shady RAT’s malware family, due to its being rather primitive.

Are such intrusions something the government and private sector can effectively prevent or mitigate on a continuing basis?

Most commercially-available anti-virus software is capable of preventing infection by the malware involved in Operation Shady RAT; most doesn’t require a special update to do so either, capable of detecting the malware generically.

Did the logs analyzed by McAfee reveal novel techniques or patterns that would be helpful in our efforts to combat cybercrime?

We are fairly sure that the logs that McAfee analyzed did not differ from the logs all the other security vendors analyzed.

Here are our findings: unlike malware from the abovementioned sophisticated samples, we found no novel techniques or patterns used in this malware. What we did find were striking shortcomings that reveal the authors’ low level of programming skill and lack of basic web security knowledge.

In addition, the way the malware spread – via masses of spam messages with infected files attached – is now considered to be old hat; most modern malware uses web attacks to get to target computers. Shady RAT also never used any advanced or previously unknown technologies for hiding itself in the system, any countermeasures against anti-viruses, or any encryption to protect the traffic between the servers and infected computers. Needless to say, these are features inherent only in sophisticated malware.

What is the greater target: intellectual property and national security information, or consumer information that can be used to perpetrate identity theft?

There is no evidence showing what sort of data has been acquired from infected computers, or if any data has been acquired at all.

We can only understand what data (if any) has been stolen by conducting an in-depth investigation within an affected organization to examine the actual access rights of the infected computers.

The report suggests that the more insidious intrusions are more likely to occur without public disclosure. Would more public disclosure help or harm industry efforts to fight this type of cybercrime?

Some of the more insidious intrusions take place without the general public becoming aware of them. What’s more, they can go undetected for some time before being discovered by the IT security industry, and this is likely to continue due to the nature of the architecture of modern software and the Internet.

However, regarding Shady RAT, the IT security industry did know about this botnet, but decided not to ring any alarm bells due to its very low proliferation – as confirmed by our cloud-based cyber-threat monitoring system and by other security vendors. It has never been on the list of the most widespread threats.

For years now the industry has adopted the simple and helpful rule of not crying wolf.

A very important question that has slipped off the radar is what state is behind this intrusion?

It’s not possible to give a straight and clear answer to this question; however, it looks overwhelmingly likely that no state is behind the Shady RAT botnet. How the botnet operates and the way the related malware is designed reveals startling fundamental defects hardly indicative of a well-funded cyber-attack backed up by a nation state.

A good example of a cyber-attack most likely backed by a nation state is Stuxnet. Just compare the number of vulnerabilities used, special techniques, and the various assessments of the development cost. With Shady RAT we are dealing with a lame piece of homebrew code that could have been written by a beginner.

On the black market the Shady RAT malware would be valued at not much more than a couple hundred dollars. Even if an “evil” state were to decide to launch a targeted attack, it could buy much more sophisticated malware for just $2,000 – $3,000. And most certainly the evil state wouldn’t use the same command and control server for five years, and then keep it operating after it was revealed in the world media that it had been exposed – allowing security researchers to conduct in-depth analysis of the botnet.

We believe that this act was performed by rather novice criminals who were testing the ground, but who didn’t improve their skills much at all since the date they started the botnet.

To summarize the Shady RAT report:

Was it the most sophisticated attack ever?

No.

Was it the longest-lasting attack ever?

No.

Was it a historically unprecedented transfer of wealth?

No.

Is there proof that 71 organizations were compromised and had data leaked?

No.

Was it backed up by a state?

No.

Does Shady RAT deserve much attention?

No.

Useful link: Comment from Alex Gostev, Kaspersky Lab’s Chief Security Expert

Moscow’s cyber warriors in Ukraine linked to US election

Financial Times

 

 

 

Security firm accuses Russian intelligence’s ‘Fancy Bear’ hackers

crowdstrikeCrowdstrike
by: Demetri Sevastopulo and Courtney Weaver in Washington

The discovery of an alleged Russian government hack of a Ukrainian mobile phone app has boosted investigators’ confidence that Moscow was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers in the US before the presidential election, cyber security firm CrowdStrike said.

The firm, which was hired by the DNC to rebuild its cyber defences after the attack, said Fancy Bear — a code name it assigned to hackers that it believes are associated with Russian military intelligence, the GRU — had implanted malware in an Android mobile phone application used by anti-Russian forces operating in eastern Ukraine. Identifying the perpetrators of cyber intrusions is notoriously hard as attackers can conceal their identity. But Dmitri
Alperovitch, the co-founder of CrowdStrike, said his confidence level that the DNC hack was the work of GRU hackers had risen from “medium” to “high” because of the alleged Ukrainian hack between 2014 and 2016. Mr Alperovitch said the same malware was used for both the Ukraine attacks and the DNC hack. He said Fancy Bear was the only group of hackers that had previously used the malware, and that the source code was not publicly available, leading to the conclusion that the GRU-affiliated hackers were behind both of the cyber attacks. The emergence of more evidence of Russian hacking comes as Donald Trump, the president-elect, continues to dismiss as “ridiculous” suggestions from the CIA and other US intelligence agencies that the Kremlin orchestrated cyber attacks in the US to interfere with the presidential election. Several US congressional committees are probing the attacks, which President Barack Obama has blamed on the Russians. “My hope is that the president-elect is going to similarly be concerned with making sure that we don’t have potential foreign influence in our election process,” Mr Obama said last week at a press conference. Mr Obama has also ordered an investigation, which will be finished before he leaves office, into the hacks. Asked whether he believed Russian president Vladimir Putin had personally authorised the hacking, Mr Obama responded: “I’d make a larger point, which is, not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin. This is a pretty hierarchical operation.”
According to CrowdStrike, the hackers installed malware in an Android-based mobile phone application developed by the Ukrainians to improve the targeting of Soviet-era D-30 Howitzer artillery guns. The firm said the deployment of the Fancy Bear malware may have helped reconnaissance against Ukrainian forces. “The ability of this malware to retrieve communications and gross locational data from an infected device makes it an attractive way to identify the general location of Ukrainian artillery forces and engage them,” CrowdStrike said.

Mr Alperovitch said the target of the attack increased the certainty that it was affiliated with the GRU. While the evidence was not conclusive, he said Ukrainian forces lost 80 per cent of their Howitzers over a two-year period, but lost only 50 per cent of other artillery that did not rely on the app. Since 2014, Russia has been engaged in hybrid warfare in Ukraine where it has used cyber and informational campaigns to weaken the new western-backed government in Kiev and aid the pro-Russia separatists who currently control a swath of Ukraine’s east. Last year, Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of successfully shutting down several of the country’s power grids through a cyber attack. While Moscow denied the attack, several cyber security experts said the malware was likely the result of a group of Russian hackers called the Sandworm team, a group that previously had tried similar attacks in the US and Europe. Mr Alperovitch said CrowdStrike found evidence of the malware over the summer, but needed time to investigate fully. He said the conclusions had been handed to security officials in the US government. The increased focus on Russian cyber attacks comes after months of controversy in the US about the role that Mr Putin and the Kremlin may have played in the hacking of the Democratic party and its officials. Some members of the Clinton campaign have blamed the hacking, which resulted in the release of thousands of emails that had been provided to WikiLeaks, for their unexpected loss to Mr Trump. European countries, including Germany and France, are also increasingly alarmed about the potential for Russia to influence elections across Europe with everything from pure hacking to the use of botnets — networks of infected private computers — to accelerate the proliferation of fake news that can influence voters. Twitter: @dimi

Hafiz Saeed Allegedly Arrested In Pakistan Under Pressure From Trump

Hafiz Saeed arrested in PAK: Modi’s pressure told in the video, playing a trump friendship with India

dainik-bhaskar

Danikbaskrkcom | John thirty-one

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, house arrest, Pakistan media, national news in hindi, national news

Monday afternoon, the Home Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Nisar said that Saeed had been declared a terrorist by the US. Saeed Khan also said that Pakistan was to keep an eye on since 2010.

New Delhi / Islamabad. The Government of Pakistan Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed on Monday placed under house arrest. However, it released a video of himself arrested Hafiz Saeed said. He has blamed Modi for arrest. According to Pakistan’s Aarway channel, Saeed under house arrest for fear of the US’s new president is Donald Trump. The government of Sindh in Pakistan have confirmed the arrest of Saeed. It is said that Saeed in Lahore is placed on a secret location. What the Home Minister said Pakistan …

 

– Please tell the Monday afternoon the Home Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the media that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the US has declared a terrorist. Saeed Khan also said that Pakistan was to keep an eye on since 2010.
– Khan, Jamaat is clearly banned organization. The UN Security Council has banned him. The government will have to take action against him. Chowdhury said the action is pending against Saeed long time. Nisar’s statement came hours after Saeed was arrested.
– Asked about US President Trump Trump Khan said people who are the target of the victims of terrorism. Where the US has been targeting terrorists?
Trump took action, fearing Pakistan
– Pakistan’s media trump the fear of government step are told. Please tell the US citizens of the 7th Muslim countries have been banned from coming to America. It is believed that Pakistan is the US ban.
– Trump has clear ban will be imposed on countries that export terrorism. Saeed’s detention for fear of the US is seen as a step.
– Pakistani security expert said Arif Jamal Saeed telling herself that she was arrested because of Modi and the US.
After the arrest video released
Stunningly, after the arrest Saeed issued a video message to his supporters.
– In it he said, “brothers in Islam. Especially my Kashmir brethren. Where-as far as my voice rose. I want to say that international pressure Hukumat Pakistan decided to arrest me. Which I was informed. I think that all this is happening because of international pressure.
– “In Pakistan, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa is not a question of. We have made sacrifices to protect Pakistan. We Relief and Education (Education) has worked on. We have joined with their brothers in Balochistan. We also help people in Sindh. And especially we stood for Kashmir.
– “K for the year I made the program. February 5 was supposed to work on it. So I suspect that they will not tolerate talk of India. And that of course will put pressure. Since the time Trump and new US President (President) is made. And that he wants to be a great friendship. Their mutual cases. However, Americans are not our issues. Our issue is with India. The issue of Kashmir. But he put the emphasis.
Hafiz Saeed, who is? Saeed why we brought, which he lays eggs
– Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. 166 people were killed in the attack, including six Americans. India has asked Pakistan to hand him over several times.
– Not just the Mumbai attacks in India and Afghanistan clearly the hand of Hafiz Saeed but Pakistan denies it.
– The United States released a list of International Terrorist, which was also the name of Saeed. A million dollar US bounty placed on him eat. Interpol red corner notice against him was issued.

Drone/Commando Assault Upon Yemeni Compound Kills Daughter of Anwar Al-Awlaki

[Is the intentional elimination of a specific bloodline (a father and all his children and potentially, his grandchildren) a form of “genocide”?

anwar-al-awlaki

Consider the following, and the story of Anwar al-Awlaki, 1st American citizen killed by Pentagon/CIA drone.  The CNBC report at the bottom of this page relates the truth about the latest swarm of Yemen-based news reports.  This time, the vindictive drone killers went after the daughter of al-Awlaki, and even his brother-in-law.  The American raid was conducted while the Mocha battle raged, providentially providing bigger headlines than the commando/drone raids on al-Qaida.]

Times of IndiaClashes on Yemen west coast kill more than 100: Medics

The bodies of at least 90 Huthi rebels were taken to a hospital in the Red Sea city of Hodeida, which is controlled by the insurgents, while 19 dead soldiers were taken to the southern port city of Aden

Saba.netArmy kills mercenaries in Taiz

“Dozens of Saudi-paid mercenaries were killed and wounded when the army and popular forces foiled their attempt to infiltrate toward Mocha district of Taiz province overnight”

Saba.netDozens of Saudi-paid mercenaries killed in Jawf

“Dozens of Saudi-paid mercenaries were killed in a successful operation of the army and popular forces in al-Masloub district of Jawf province,”

New York TimesRenewed Fighting and Drone Strikes in Yemen Kill About 75

Gulf NewsOne US soldier dead, three injured in raid in Yemen: US military

“A local Yemeni official reported earlier that the raid left 41 suspected Al Qaeda militants and 16 civilians dead, among them eight women and eight children.”

CBC NEWSU.S. reportedly follows up Yemen commando raid with drone strike

“The officials said the pilotless plane targeted a vehicle travelling in Baihan in the province of Shabwa, in which two suspected al Qaeda members were travelling. Both men were killed.”

“A U.S. commando died and three were wounded during a dawn raid on Sunday in the rural Yakla district of central Yemen’s al-Bayda province.”

“An al-Qaeda official and an online news service linked to the terror group said the raid left about 30 people dead, including women and children.

nawar-al-awlaki Nawar al-Awlaki

Among the children killed was Anwaar, the eight-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Yemeni-American cleric killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen in 2011, according to the girl’s grandfather.
Nasser al-Awlaki told The Associated Press that Anwaar was visiting her mother when the raid took place. She was shot in the neck and bled for two hours before she died, he said.”

abdulrahman

–[al-Awlaki’s American-born son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed October 14, 2011, in another U.S. drone strike–ed.]

 

U.S. reportedly follows up Yemen commando raid with drone strike

cbc news

 

 

Among those killed in the raid was 8-year-old daughter of late U.S.-born radical al-Awlaki

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed two men believed to be al-Qaeda militants in central Yemen, local officials said early on Monday, hours after American commandos carried out the first military operation authorized by President Donald Trump.

The officials said the pilotless plane targeted a vehicle travelling in Baihan in the province of Shabwa, in which two suspected al Qaeda members were travelling. Both men were killed, they said.

Al-Qaeda has exploited a civil war in Yemen pitting the Iran-aligned Houthi movement against the Saudi-backed government of president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to recruit more followers and enhance its influence in the impoverished country.

The United States, which sees the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda as a major threat to its regional interests, conducted dozens of drone strikes in Yemen throughout Barack Obama’s presidency.

It has acknowledged drone strikes to target militants, but declines to comment on specific attacks.

Yemen is also one of seven Muslim-majority countries subject to a controversial travel and refugee ban, said to be temporary in nature, as part of an executive order signed by president Donald Trump in his first days in the White House.

A U.S. commando died and three were wounded during a dawn raid on Sunday in the rural Yakla district of central Yemen’s al-Bayda province. The U.S. military also said that at least 14 suspected al Qaeda militants were killed.

“Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump said in a statement.

“My deepest thoughts and humblest prayers are with the family of this fallen service member,” he said.

The names of the casualties were not released.

Planning for the clandestine counterterrorism raid began before Obama left office on Jan. 20, but Trump authorized the raid, according to a U.S. defence official, who was not authorized to discuss details beyond those announced by the Pentagon and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The raid was planned as a clandestine operation and not intended to be made public, but the loss of a service member changed that, the official said, adding that no detainees were taken in the operation.

An al-Qaeda official and an online news service linked to the terror group said the raid left about 30 people dead, including women and children. Among the children killed was Anwaar, the eight-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Yemeni-American cleric killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen in 2011, according to the girl’s grandfather.

Nasser al-Awlaki told The Associated Press that Anwaar was visiting her mother when the raid took place. She was shot in the neck and bled for two hours before she died, he said.

 

COMMENT FROM MR. AWLAKI’S FATHER

 

Trump’s First Brush w/Executive Orders Meets the Chaos of Reality

Jerry Markon, Emma Brown, Katherine ShaverThe Washington Post

A federal judge in New York blocked deportations nationwide late Saturday of those detained on entry to the United States after an executive order from President Donald Trump targeted citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Judge Ann Donnelly of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn granted a request from the American Civil Liberties Union to stop the deportations after determining that the risk of injury to those detained by being returned to their home countries necessitated the decision.

Minutes after the judge’s ruling in New York, another came in Virginia when U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a temporary restraining order to block for seven days the removal of any green-card holders being detained at Dulles International Airport. Brinkema’s action also ordered that lawyers have access to those held there because of the ban.

Trump’s order reverberated across the world Saturday, making it increasingly clear that the measure he had promised during his presidential campaign was casting a wider net than even his opponents had feared.

Confusion and concern among immigrant advocates mounted throughout the day as travelers from the Middle East were detained at U.S. airports or sent home. A lawsuit filed on behalf of two Iraqi men challenged Trump’s executive action, which was signed Friday and initially cast as applying to refugees and migrants.

But as the day progressed, administration officials confirmed that the sweeping order also targeted U.S. legal residents from the named countries – green-card holders – who were abroad when it was signed. Also subject to being barred entry into the United States are dual nationals, or people born in one of the seven countries who hold passports even from U.S. allies, such as the United Kingdom.

The virtually unprecedented measures triggered harsh reactions from not only Democrats and others who typically advocate for immigrants but also key sectors of the U.S. business community. Leading technology companies recalled scores of overseas employees and sharply criticized the president. Legal experts forecast a wave of litigation over the order, calling it unconstitutional. Canada announced it would accept asylum applications from U.S. green-card holders.

Yet Trump, who centered his campaign in part on his vow to crack down on illegal immigrants and impose what became known as his “Muslim ban,” was unbowed. As White House officials insisted that the measure strengthens national security, the president stood squarely behind it.

“It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “You see it at the airports, you see it all over. It’s working out very nicely, and we’re going to have a very, very strict ban, and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”

In New York, Donnelly seemed to have little patience for the government’s arguments, which focused heavily on the fact that the two defendants named in the lawsuit had already been released.

Donnelly noted that those detained were suffering mostly from the bad fortune of traveling while the ban went into effect. “Our own government presumably approved their entry to the country,” she said at one point, noting that, had it been two days prior, those detained would have been granted admission without question.

During the hearing, ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt informed the court that he had received word of a deportation to Syria, scheduled within the hour. That prompted Donnelly to ask if the government could assure that the person would not suffer irreparable harm. Receiving no such assurance, she granted the stay to the broad group included in the ACLU’s request.

A senior Department of Homeland Security official had no comment about the rulings late Saturday and said the department was consulting with its lawyers.

The official said enforcement of the president’s order on Saturday had created minimal disruption, given that only a small number of the several hundred thousand travelers arriving at U.S. airports daily had been affected.

Nationwide, he said, 109 people had been denied entry into the United States. All had been in transit when Trump signed the order, and some had already departed the United States on flights by late Saturday while others were still being detained awaiting flights. Also, 173 people had not been allowed to board U.S.-bound planes at foreign airports.

The official said that officers doing case-by-case reviews had granted 81 waivers so far to green-card holders.

DHS began implementing the president’s order immediately after he signed it, according to the official. He declined to say whether the department had an operational plan ready at that time.

Though several congressional Republicans denounced the order, the majority remained silent, and a few voiced crucial support – including, most prominently, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who had rejected Trump’s anti-Muslim proposals during the campaign. “This is not a religious test, and it is not a ban on people of any religion,” Ryan said Saturday. “This order does not affect the vast majority of Muslims in the world.”

The president’s order, signed Friday, suspends admission to the United States of all refugees for 120 days and bars for 90 days the entry of any citizen from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. That list excludes several majority-Muslim nations – notably Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia – where the Trump Organization, now run by the president’s adult sons, is active and which in some cases have also faced troublesome issues with terrorism.

According to the text of the order, the restriction applies to countries that have already been excluded from programs allowing people to travel to the United States without a visa because of terrorism concerns. Hewing closely to nations already named as terrorism concerns elsewhere in law might have allowed the White House to avoid angering powerful and wealthy majority-Muslim allies, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Amid widespread confusion on Saturday about how the order will be enforced, some administration officials acknowledged that its rollout had been chaotic. Officials tried to reassure travelers and their families, pointing out that green-card holders in the United States will not be affected and noting that the DHS is allowed to grant waivers to those individuals and others deemed to not pose a security threat. It can take years for someone to become a green-card holder, or lawful permanent resident authorized to permanently live and work in the country.

“If you’ve been living in the United States for 15 years and you own a business and your family is here, will you be granted a waiver? I’m assuming yes, but we are working that out,” said one official, who could not be more specific because details remained so cloudy. A senior White House official later said that waivers will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and that green-card holders in the United States will have to meet with a consular officer before leaving the country.

But officials made clear that the federal officers detaining refugees and migrants with valid U.S. visas and restricting them from entering the country were following orders handed down by top DHS officials, at the White House’s behest.

The order drew outrage from a range of activist and advocates for Muslims, Arabs and immigrants. More than 4,000 academics from universities nationwide signed a statement of opposition and voiced concern the ban would become permanent. They described it as discriminatory and “inhumane, ineffective and un-American.”

The executive action has caused “complete chaos” and torn apart families, said Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

At Dulles, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) addressed more than 100 people protesting Trump’s order. He said: “I remind everybody we are a land of immigrants. . . . Discriminatory tactics breed hatred.”

In New York, lawyers for two Iraqi men detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport – one of whom served the U.S. military mission in Iraq – filed a federal lawsuit challenging the order as unconstitutional.

One of the men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was released Saturday afternoon without explanation from federal officials. “This is the humanity, this is the soul of America,” he told reporters. “This is what pushed me to move, to leave my country and come here. . . . America is the land of freedom – the land of freedom, the land of the right.”

Other advocates promised further legal challenges. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) denounced the order and said it would file a lawsuit challenging it as unconstitutional.

In a conference call with reporters, immigration lawyers and advocates said Trump’s order violated the Constitution, along with U.S. and international laws that guarantee migrants the right to apply for asylum at the border and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which forbids discrimination in the issuance of visas based on race, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.

But Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower immigration levels, praised Trump.

“It’s a prudent measure,” he said. “It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the Statue of Liberty crying. The reaction has been hyperbolic.”

The effects of Trump’s order played out nationwide.

In Dallas, Behzad Honarjou, 43, was supposed to pick up his mother, 70-year-old Shahin Haffanpour, at the airport on Saturday. But when she arrived from Iran via Dubai, she was told that because of the executive order she would be sent back to Iran the next morning.

“I don’t know what to do,” Honarjou said. He said he was seeking an attorney to file an emergency habeas petition, but the courts were closed. Haffanpour has an immigrant’s visa issued by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, last year.

In Philadelphia, Sarah Assali said six relatives from Syria – two uncles, their wives and two cousins – were detained after arriving at the airport there early Saturday. Although they are Christian immigrants with valid visas to join family in this country, they were put on a plane back to Doha, Qatar, three hours later, Assali said.

She said her family members were not allowed to call or contact their family in the United States before being removed. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Philip Bump in Brooklyn, Louisa Loveluck in Beirut, and David Nakamura, Philip Rucker, Mike DeBonis, Lori Aratani, Carol Morello and Rachel Weiner in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune

China Ramps-Up Warnings of Trump-Instigated Conflict In S. China Seas

Donald Trump’s election as US president has increased the risk of hostilities breaking out, according to Chinese state media and analysts

China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US as the Donald Trump presidency has increased the risk of hostilities breaking out, state media and military observers said.

Beijing is bracing itself for a possible deterioration in Sino-US ties, with a particular emphasis on maritime security.

The People’s Liberation Army said in a commentary on its official website last Friday, the day of Trump’s inauguration, that the chances of war have become “more real” amid a more complex security situation in Asia Pacific.

The commentary written by an official at the national defence mobilisation department in the Central Military Commission said the call for a US rebalancing of its strategy in Asia, military deployments in the East and South China Seas and the instillation of a missile defence system in South Korea were hot spots getting closer to ignition.

“‘A war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” it said.

The official People’s Daily said in another commentary on Sunday that China’s military would conduct exercises on the high seas regardless of foreign provocations. China’s sole aircraft carrier Liaoning passed through the narrow Taiwan Strait last month.

The commentary referred to remarks by the US secretary of state Rex Tillerson hopeful that the US should stop China’s access to artificial islands it has built in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

New White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a press conference on Monday that the US would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.

Spicer told the press “the US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” when asked about US President Donald Trump’s position on the South China Sea. “It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” he said.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded by telling the US “to be cautious in what it says and does, so as to avoid harming the peace and stability in the region.”

The Chinese military is constantly prepared for possible military conflict whoever serves as US president, but Donald Trump’s possible “extreme approach” against China was dangerous, according to analysts.

Ian Storey, a senior fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said some of the comments from Trump’s key advisors and appointees suggest that the US may pursue a more hardline policy against Beijing in the South China Sea over the next four years

“As it’s highly unlikely that China will compromise its sovereignty claims in the face of US pressure, we can be sure that the dispute will increasingly become a risky point of contention between Beijing and Washington,” he said.

The comments come as President Xi Jinping is overseeing massive reforms within China’s military to improve its fighting capabilities. A huge reshuffle is also underway in the military’s top brass. Vice-Admiral Shen Jinlong, commander of the South Sea Fleet, is to replace retiring Admiral Wu Shengli as chief of the PLA Navy.

Meanwhile, Vice-Admiral Yuan Yubai, the former North Sea Fleet commander, has been promoted to head the Southern Theatre Command, which focuses on the South China Sea. “Promoting naval officers to command theatres is aimed at utilising them to the maximum and getting ready to win wars,” Song Zhongping, a military affairs commentator at Phoenix TV, said.

The navy has been the focus of recent developments within the PLA, with massive investment and the construction of large numbers of ships, Song said.

China is involved in other disputes beyond the South China Sea, particularly with Taiwan. Sovereignty disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and concerns over the deployment of the missile shield in South Korea are other potential flashpoints.

Russia’s knockout game in Syria

Russia’s knockout game in Syria

aljazeera

 

 

 

A series of successful wiles and meticulous manoeuvring allowed Russia to become the main architect of Syria’s future.

In the stratospheric realm of geopolitics  and fighter jets, Russia has run circles around everyone, writes Bell [Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters]In the stratospheric realm of geopolitics and fighter jets, Russia has run circles around everyone, writes Bell [Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters]

 

By @neopolitiks

 

Russia and Turkey recently concluded talks in Astana about Syria. It was a remarkable cooperation given that Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet just over a year ago, damaging relations between the two countries.

What tactics has Russia used to manage such delicate relationships and become the main architect of the future of Syria? If we look at the past and present, we can see a successful pattern of Russian manoeuvring.

In July 2015, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, visited Moscow, after which Russia entered the Syrian war. Russia then moved towards working with the Obama administration as co-partners in developing ceasefires, an International Support Group for Syria, and a United Nations-led Geneva process. The cooperation with the US did not work; however, Russia achieved its goal of appearing an equal to the US globally.

The US entered that game without a policy on Syria, nor any weight on the ground. Former US Secretary of State John Kerry’s words and techniques were no match for the Russian investment of hardware, and he effectively played into Russia’s process.

The US has since been unceremoniously dumped by Russia in regards to Syria. Once Russia’s goal of global parity was achieved, the Americans were no longer necessary. Russia invited the Trump administration to Astana (Iran rejected the American presence), but it was clearly a Russian defined process.

Russia used the UN deftly as well. The UN, and its envoy Staffan de Mistura, provided international legitimacy, and more cover for the Russian process, although the envoy initially garnered his credibility from being backed by Russian-American co-sponsorship.

But, once the UN process was no longer needed – and Mistura was a little too critical of Bashar al-Assad’s excesses – Russia declared that he was not fulfilling his mandate, creating an excuse to sideline him. Having played the UN game, Russia could afford to shed it.

A ‘political solution’

Today, Russia wants to first achieve a ceasefire, or, as some say, a “frozen conflict” in Syria, and Turkey is the key to getting armed opposition groups to agree. This is the logic that justifies the cooperation between the two today.

However, after a ceasefire, the next step will be a “political solution” to the conflict. The key to that file is Iran, not Turkey. It is the Islamic Republic that is closest to Assad and his security system, and with the highest stakes in his fate.

Will Turkey, like the US and the UN before it, then get knocked out of the game after Russia achieves its aims of a ceasefire. Will it be left behind as Vladimir Putin clambers up the ladder of control in Syria?

Some will say that Putin is clever enough to keep Turkey in the political game, needing it as a counterweight to Iran, and having it manage the opposition. Russia will also have probably made political promises to Turkey to seal today’s cooperation deal.

Turkey may not be knocked out, but its role may be geographically circumscribed to certain parts of northern Syria. The question is, can Russia square the circle of its promises to Turkey while also dealing with Iran?

It is far from certain whether Russian wiles can outdo Persian cunning for the future of Syria.

Iran is not fully happy with the Russian-Turkish approach today, as it wants a clearer and firmer victory for Assad, but it is smart enough to bide its time. It is the power on the ground and also the key for any serious future politics.

Iran and Assad needed Russia’s air force for military victory, but political and security control on the ground is their game. Lest we forget, President Assad has his own ideas about his future and that of Syria, probably closer to Iran’s than Russia’s. The successful Russian manoeuvres meet their match with the partner that had “invited” it to the conflict in July 2015.

Russia will have tough decisions ahead: Will it be an exit from Syria, leaving an incoherent mess, a managed frozen conflict, or real change? If Russia opts for any significant political change, the situation may end up a tough and dirty tactical tug of war between Iran and Russia for years to come, each pressuring the other to bend to its will.

The wild card

However, the Middle East is never that simple. There is still a wild card left. Israel has deftly stayed out of the Syrian war until now, and has developed quiet understandings with Russia so the two don’t get in each other’s way militarily.

If Israel increases its pressure on Assad and Hezbollah – and thereby Iran – in southern Syria, that would constitute an indirect message: don’t get too confident about “victory”. Donald Trump’s more anti-Iranian stance will abet this direction. The Obama holiday is ending for Tehran.

OPINION: How far is Russia willing to go in Syria?

It is far from certain whether Russian wiles can outdo Persian cunning for the future of Syria. What is clear however is that, through Syria, Russia has achieved the perception of global parity, if not supremacy, with the US, woven itself into international legitimacy through the UN, and deflated and co-opted a rival, Turkey.

In the stratospheric realm of geopolitics – and fighter jets – Russia has run circles around everyone. However, “the ground” is controlled by fighting forces and security systems created and nurtured by Iran. There, the visitor to Moscow in July 2015 and his country may have the final say.

John Bell is director of the Middle East programme at the Toledo International Centre for Peace in Madrid. He is a former UN and Canadian diplomat, and served as political adviser to the personal representative of the UN secretary-general for southern Lebanon and adviser to the Canadian government.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

3 Top Russian Cyber-Security Officials Arrested In US Related Treason Investigation

[FSB opened a criminal investigation after a hacker attack on the Russian financial sector in 2016 ; Russia Arrests Third ‘U.S. Spy’ in Cyber Treason Case]

Photo: Victor Korotaev / Kommersant

Lubyanka Consultant floating in Lefortovo

kommersant

The investigation around the CDC led to the arrest of FSB officer “Kaspersky Lab”

As the “Kommersant”, arrested a top manager, “Kaspersky Lab” Ruslan Stoyanov, head of the company to investigate cybercrime department, working closely with law enforcement agencies. According to “Kommersant”, the arrest may be linked to the investigation in respect of one of the deputy head of the Information Security Centre (CDC) of the FSB. In “Kaspersky Lab” argue that the case is not related to the company, but experts point out that it may affect the relationship of Internet business with the FSB.

Head of investigation of computer incidents “Kaspersky Lab” Ruslan Stoyanov to December 2016 is in custody in the detention center “Lefortovo”, a source told “Kommersant”, close to the FSB. The press service of “Kaspersky Lab” confirmed the arrest, adding that the investigation is not related to the company and “conducted against a private person.”

At the same time in the same case and arrested the head of one of the divisions of the FSB Sergei Mikhailov CDC, says “Kommersant” source. At the center of public relations, CDC and its own security management (SSG) of the FSB did not respond to “Kommersant” requests. To phone to Sergei Mikhailov his mobile failed line. One of his friends has confirmed that the number is not available from December. The accounts in social networks and online messengers evident that Mr. Stoyanov was last online 4 December, Mr. Mikhailov – December 5th.

The problems in the CDC, “Kommersant” said January 13 – According to unofficial information, the post may leave the head of Andrei Gerasimov units. “B” sides tied happening just with CSS FSB investigation against one of his deputies. According to them, among other things checked CDC relationships with private companies, which cooperated with the department in conducting examinations on Cybercrime.

CSS investigation conducted on suspicion of violation of Art. 275 of the Criminal Code ( “treason”), told “Kommersant” top managers and co-owners of three IT-companies and confirmed the source, close to the FSB, the former federal official, and head of one of the industry associations in the field of communication. Two of them made it clear that in the investigation to verify information on employee allegedly receiving money from the CIB one of the foreign companies by a member of a certain Russian company in the field of information security.

The situation in the CDC runs the risk of impact on cybersecurity and e-commerce markets, where participants may have to re-build the relationship with the state. Two companion “b” familiar with Sergey Mikhailov, argue that this is one of the key CDC employees who “in fact, in charge of the entire internet business in the country.” “This man, in my opinion, largely informally determines the policy throughout the industry cybersecurity and e-commerce” – confirms an old friend of Mr. Mikhailov, founder of the payment system Chronopay Paul Wroblewski. The impact, he believes events in the CDC on the industry, may be assessed only after the appearance of official data from the FSB.

Sergei Mikhailov also participates in the work of public organizations. He, in particular, is part of the Information Security cluster of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications. Cluster Coordinator and Director of Strategic Projects of the Institute of Internet Studies Irina leva told “Kommersant” that at the last meeting on December 12 Mr Mikhailov was not, though he is always present before. She calls it a “very competent” specialist, which “helps achieve understanding between Internet companies and security services.”

Department investigate computer incidents “Kaspersky Lab” in 2013 cooperated with the FSB and MVD within the cyber crime analysis and expert support of criminal cases in the field of cybersecurity. Ruslan Stoyanov to 2006 he worked in the management of special technical activities of the Moscow police ( “K” control). Other department staff also come from the management of the “K”, as well as of the Investigative Committee of Russia, previously reported in the company. “Ruslan Stoyanov is known as a man who knows how to build informal contacts I think that.” Kaspersky Lab “after the incident, think about the need to distance themselves from law enforcement agencies and to build a more formal relationship with the FSB”, – said the chief editor Andrei Soldatov Agentura.ru. FSB, according to him, in any case, and will continue to actively cooperate with the company in the investigation of cyber crime, because “nowhere to go – from” Kaspersky Lab “the best expertise.”

Maria Kolomychenko

Nusra Wages War Against FSA Participants In Russian Peace Talks

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A powerful jihadist group has crushed a Free Syrian Army rebel faction in northwestern Syria, in an attack that threatens to deal a critical blow to the more moderate wing of the Syrian rebellion and derail new Russian-backed peace talks.

The Jabhat Fateh al-Sham jihadist group, formerly known as the Nusra Front, launched an attack on a number of FSA groups in northwestern Syria on Tuesday, accusing them of conspiring against it at peace talks in Kazakhstan this week.

The fighting has engulfed the rebels’ last major territorial stronghold in northwestern Syria, prompting a major Islamist insurgent faction to warn on Wednesday that it could allow President Bashar al-Assad and his allies to capture the area.

Officials with two FSA factions said Fateh al-Sham had overrun areas held by the Jaish al-Mujahideen group west of Aleppo. One of the officials said he expected other FSA factions to face the same fate unless they could get better organised to defend themselves – something they have so far failed to do.

Fateh al-Sham later on Wednesday attacked the central Idlib prison on the outskirts of the city which has been controlled by another rebel group, partly in an attempt to free inmates there, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.

Fateh al-Sham said in an online statement the Alwiyat Suqour al-Sham group had handed it control of the prison, and rebel fighters guarding it had been allowed to withdraw without being detained. Reuters could not independently verify the statement.

The Syrian insurgency has been hamstrung from the outset by divisions among rebel groups fighting Assad, including the ideological split over whether to pursue Sunni jihadist goals or the more nationalist agenda backed by FSA groups.

“Nusra wants to end the FSA,” said the FSA official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. If it succeeded, “the ones who attended Astana will be finished”, he added, referring to the talks in Kazakhstan.

Those talks were backed by Assad’s two main allies – Russia and Iran – and by Turkey, which has supported many of the FSA groups in northern Syria. Russia mobilised the new talks after helping Assad to defeat the rebels in Aleppo last month.

ISLAMIST AHRAR AL-SHAM CALLS UP FIGHTERS

Fateh al-Sham was al Qaeda’s official wing in the Syrian war until it announced it had cut those ties last year. Internationally viewed as a terrorist group, it has been excluded from all diplomatic efforts to end the Syrian conflict, including a recent truce brokered by Russia and Turkey.

Since the new year, Fateh al-Sham has been targeted by a spate of U.S. air strikes. That included an attack by a B-52 bomber which the Pentagon said killed more than 100 al Qaeda militants.

Fateh al-Sham said in a statement published on Tuesday it had been forced to act preemptively to “thwart conspiracies” being hatched against it. It said “conferences and negotiations” were “trying to divert the course of the revolution towards reconciliation with the criminal regime (of Assad)”.

It also accused rebel factions that attended the Astana talks of agreeing to “isolate” and fight it, and said its foes were giving away its positions to the U.S.-led coalition.

Fateh al-Sham is one of the most powerful groups in the remaining territory held by the rebels in northwestern Syria, including Idlib province. While it has often fought in close proximity to FSA rebels against Assad, it also has a record of crushing foreign-backed FSA groups.

Ahrar al-Sham, a major Islamist faction that also fights in the Idlib area, issued a general call-up of fighters to “stop the fighting in any form”. Coming down on the side of the FSA groups, it accused Fateh al-Sham of rejecting mediation efforts that the FSA groups had accepted.

Ahrar al-Sham, a conservative Islamist group, is widely believed to be backed by Turkey. In a voice message posted on YouTube on Wednesday, Ahrar al-Sham leader Abu Ammar al-Omar said:

“If the fighting continues and if one party continues to do an injustice to another, then we will not allow this to pass, regardless of the cost, even if we become victims of this.”

(Additional reporting by John Davison and Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; Editing by Larry King and Dominic Evans)

“There Are No Moderate Rebels”–message from Syrian people

cns

 

img_9031

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) meets with Syrian religious leaders in Aleppo, led by Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of the Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, and joined by Archbishop Joseph Tabji of Maronite Church of Aleppo, Rev. Ibrahim Nseir of the Arab Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Aleppo, and others. Each called for peace, and an end to foreign support of terrorists who are trying to rid Syria of its secular, pluralistic, free society. (Photo from Gabbard’s website, courtesy of Abraham Williams)

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, says she made a secret, four-day trip to Syria — meeting with ordinary people and even President Bashar al-Assad — because the suffering of the Syrian people “has been weighing heavily on my heart.”

“I wanted to see if there was in some small way, a way that I could express the love and the aloha and the care that the American people have for the people of Syria, and to see firsthand what was happening there, to see that situation there,” Gabbard told CNN’s “The Lead” with Jake Tapper on Wednesday.

She returned with a message:

“I’ll tell you what I heard from the Syrian people that I met with, Jake, walking down the street in Aleppo, in Damascus, hearing from them.

“They expressed happiness and joy at seeing an American walking through their streets. But they also asked why the U.S. and its allies are providing support and arms to terrorist groups like al-Nusra, al-Qaida or al-Sham, ISIS who are on the ground there, raping, kidnapping, torturing and killing the Syrian people.

“They asked me, why is the United States and its allies supporting these terrorist groups who are destroying Syria when it was al Qaida who attacked the United States on 9/11, not Syria. I didn’t have an answer for them,” Gabbard said.

“The reality is… every place that I went, every person that I spoke to, I asked this question to them, and without hesitation, they said, there are no moderate rebels. Who are these moderate rebels that people keep speaking of?

Regardless of the name of these groups, the strongest fighting force on the ground in Syria is al Nusra, or al Qaida and ISIS. That is a fact,” Gabbard said.

“There is a number of different, other groups — all of them essentially are fighting alongside, with, or under the command of the strongest group on the ground that’s trying to overthrow Assad.

“The Syrian people recognize and they know that if President Assad is overthrown, then al Qaida — or a group like al Qaida, that has been killing Christians, killing people simply because of their religion, or because they won’t support their terror activities, they will take charge of all of Syria.

“This is the reality that the people of Syria are facing on the ground, and why they are pleading with us here in the United States to stop supporting these terrorist groups. Let the Syrian people themselves determine their future, not the United States, not some foreign country.”

Gabbard said initially, she didn’t plan to meet with President Assad: “When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that’s exactly what we talked about.”

Tapper noted that Assad is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of people being forced from their homes and even their country during the five-year civil war:

“Did you have any compunctions about meeting with somebody like that, giving him any sort of enhanced credibility because a member of the United States Congress would meet with someone like that?” Tapper asked.

“Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria,” Tulsi replied. “In order for any peace agreement, in order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him,” Gabbard said.

“The Syrian people will determine his outcome and what happens with their government and their future, but our focus, my focus, my commitment is on ending this war that has caused so much suffering to the Syrian people.”

In a speech on the House floor earlier this month, Gabbard criticized America’s “interventionist wars.”

“Our limited resources should go toward rebuilding our communities here at home, not fueling more counterproductive regime change wars abroad.”

She urged her fellow lawmakers to support her bill, the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act,” legislation that would stop the U.S. government from using taxpayer dollars to directly or indirectly support groups allied with terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda in their war to overthrow the Syrian government.

“The fact that our resources are being used to strengthen the very terrorist groups we should be focused on defeating should alarm every American,” Gabbard said.

I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation and stop this madness.”

Gabbard supported Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, but after the election, she was one of many people invited to meet with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York.

“President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him about our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as other foreign policy challenges we face,” Gabbard said about the meeting.

“I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government — a war which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families.”

 

Susan Jones
Susan Jones

Does Trump’s Idea of Syrian “Safe Zones” Include Permission From Bashar Assad?

Trump says he will ‘absolutely do safe zones’ in Syria

 

cnbc

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the staff at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC, on January 25, 2017.

Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images   U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the staff at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC, on January 25, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he “will absolutely do safe zones in Syria” for refugees fleeing violence in the war-torn country.

Saying Europe had made a tremendous mistake by admitting millions of refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern trouble spots, Trump told ABC News in an interview: “I don’t want that to happen here.”

“I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria for the people,” he added, without giving details.

According to a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday, Trump is expected to order the Pentagon and the State Department in coming days to craft a plan for setting up the “safe zones,” a move that could risk escalation of U.S. military involvement in Syria’s civil war.

The draft executive order awaiting Trump’s signature signaled the new administration was preparing a step that Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, long resisted, fearing the potential for being pulled deeper into the bloody conflict and the threat of clashes between U.S. and Russian warplanes over Syria.

“The Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, is directed within 90 days of the date of this order to produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement,” the draft order said.

Creation of safe zones could ratchet up U.S. military involvement in Syria and mark a major departure from Obama’s more cautious approach. Increased U.S. or allied air power would be required if Trump chooses to enforce “no fly” restrictions, and ground forces might also be needed to protect civilians in those areas.

Still, the document gave no details on what would constitute a safe zone, exactly where they might be set up and who would defend them. Jordan, Turkey and other neighboring countries already host millions of Syrian refugees. The Turkish government had long pressed Obama, without success, for creation of a no-fly zone in Syria on its border with Turkey.

The draft raised the possibility of establishing those safe havens in neighboring countries but did not elaborate.

Trump’s call for a plan for safe zones is part of a larger directive expected to be signed in coming days that includes a temporary ban on most refugees to the United States and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries deemed to pose a terrorism threat.

It represents a modified version of the blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States that Trump initially advocated on the campaign trail last year, sparking criticism from human rights groups and across the U.S. political spectrum.

Obama: Cannot claim we've been successful in Syria

Obama: Cannot claim we’ve been successful in Syria
U.S. military officials had long warned that the creation of no-fly zones inside Syria would require a large number of additional resources beyond the fight against Islamic State and it would be difficult to ensure that jihadist insurgents did not infiltrate those areas amid the chaos of Syria’s civil war.

Some Republican lawmakers have advocated the creation of such zones, especially to protect civilians fleeing the conflict against attacks by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

During and after the presidential campaign, Trump called for no-fly zones to harbor Syrian refugees as an alternative to allowing them into the United States. Trump accused the Obama administration of failing to properly screen Syrian immigrants entering the United States to ensure they had no militant ties.

Obama’s aides have insisted the vetting was meticulous and none of the Syrian refugees allowed in have been implicated in any attacks.

On the campaign trail, Trump gave no details as to how he might go about creating such havens, except to say that he would ask Gulf states to help pay.

“All the questions of setting up a safe zone are still there,” a U.S. official said. “If you’re going to declare a safe zone, there’s a lot of other things” that would have to be analyzed and put in place before it becomes feasible.

Among the biggest questions would be how to avoid confrontations with Russian forces in Syria helping keep Assad in power.

Under the broader executive order, which the draft document says is intended to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals,” Trump would impose a 30-day suspension of the entry of immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The temporary halt is aimed at giving the homeland security secretary, the secretary of state and the director of national intelligence enough time to determine what information is needed from each country to ensure visas are not issued to individuals that pose a national security threat, according to the draft.

Countries that do not provide adequate information about their nationals will be required to do so within 60 days or risk being blocked from entering the United States. That would exclude diplomatic visas, NATO visas and visas for travel to the United Nations.

It would also suspend the overall U.S. refugee program for 120 days so the government can study the process and determine if additional checks are necessary, but that could be waived on a case-by-case basis. It would completely stop refugee processing of Syrians until “I have determined that sufficient changes have been made” to the refugee program to ensure “its alignment with national interest,” the draft said.

Seymour Hersh Blasts Establishment Media for Pushing Russian Hacking Story w/Out Fact-Checking

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh said in an interview that he does not believe the U.S. intelligence community proved its case that President Vladimir Putin directed a hacking campaign aimed at securing the election of Donald Trump. He blasted news organizations for lazily broadcasting the assertions of U.S. intelligence officials as established facts.

https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Z0WYHMYc-biiQQJhC.html

The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill speaks with Seymour Hersh at his home in Washington, D.C. two days after Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Hersh denounced news organizations as “crazy town” for their uncritical promotion of the pronouncements of the director of national intelligence and the CIA, given their track records of lying and misleading the public.

“The way they behaved on the Russia stuff was outrageous,” Hersh said when I sat down with him at his home in Washington, D.C., two days after Trump was inaugurated. “They were just so willing to believe stuff. And when the heads of intelligence give them that summary of the allegations, instead of attacking the CIA for doing that, which is what I would have done,” they reported it as fact. Hersh said most news organizations missed an important component of the story: “the extent to which the White House was going and permitting the agency to go public with the assessment.”

Hersh said many media outlets failed to provide context when reporting on the intelligence assessment made public in the waning days of the Obama administration that was purported to put to rest any doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails.

The declassified version of the report, which was released January 7 and dominated the news for days, charged that Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election” and “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” According to the report, the NSA was said to have had a lower confidence level than James Clapper and the CIA about the conclusion that Russia intended to influence the election. Hersh characterized the report as full of assertions and thin on evidence.

“It’s high camp stuff,” Hersh told The Intercept. “What does an assessment mean? It’s not a national intelligence estimate. If you had a real estimate, you would have five or six dissents. One time they said 17 agencies all agreed. Oh really? The Coast Guard and the Air Force — they all agreed on it? And it was outrageous and nobody did that story. An assessment is simply an opinion. If they had a fact, they’d give it to you. An assessment is just that. It’s a belief. And they’ve done it many times.”

Hersh also questioned the timing of the U.S. intelligence briefing of Trump on the Russia hack findings. “They’re taking it to a guy that’s going to be president in a couple of days, they’re giving him this kind of stuff, and they think this is somehow going to make the world better? It’s going to make him go nuts — would make me go nuts. Maybe it isn’t that hard to make him go nuts.” Hersh said if he had been covering the story, “I would have made [John] Brennan into a buffoon. A yapping buffoon in the last few days. Instead, everything is reported seriously.”

Few journalists in the world know more about the CIA and U.S. dark ops than Hersh. The legendary journalist broke the story of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, the Abu Ghraib torture, and secret details of the Bush-Cheney assassination program.

In the 1970s, during the Church Committee investigations into the CIA’s involvement in coups and assassinations, Dick Cheney — at the time a top aide to President Gerald Ford — pressured the FBI to go after Hersh and seek an indictment against him and the New York Times. Cheney and then-White House Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld were furious that Hersh had reported, based on information from inside sources, on a covert incursion into Soviet waters. They also wanted retaliation for Hersh’s exposé on illegal domestic spying by the CIA. The aim of targeting Hersh would be to frighten other journalists from exposing secret or controversial actions by the White House. The attorney general rebuffed Cheney’s requests, saying it “would put an official stamp of truth on the article.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Spicer answered questions about the Dakota Pipeline, infrastructure, jobs and other topics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

White House press secretary Sean Spicer calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Jan. 24, 2017.

Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

Although critical of the Russia coverage, Hersh condemned the Trump administration’s attacks on the news media and its threats to limit the ability of journalists to cover the White House. “The attack on the press is straight out of national socialism,” he said. “You have to go back into the 1930s. The first thing you do is destroy the media. And what’s he going to do? He’s going to intimidate them. The truth is, the First Amendment is an amazing thing and if you start trampling it the way they — I hope they don’t do it that way — this would be really counterproductive. He’ll be in trouble.”

Hersh also said he is concerned about Trump and his administration assuming power over the vast surveillance resources of the U.S. government. “I can tell you, my friends on the inside have already told me there’s going to be a major increase in surveillance, a dramatic increase in domestic surveillance,” he said. He recommended that anyone concerned about privacy use encrypted apps and other protective means. “If you don’t have Signal, you better get Signal.”

While expressing fears about Trump’s agenda, Hersh also called Trump a potential “circuit breaker” of the two-party political system in the U.S. “The idea of somebody breaking things away, and raising grave doubts about the viability of the party system, particularly the Democratic Party, is not a bad idea,” Hersh said. “That’s something we could build on in the future. But we have to figure out what to do in the next few years.” He added: “I don’t think the notion of democracy is ever going to be as tested as it’s going to be now.”

In recent years, Hersh has been attacked for his investigative reports on a variety of policies and actions authorized by the Obama administration, but he has never backed down from his aggressive approach to journalism. His reporting on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden dramatically contradicted the administration’s story, and his investigation on the use of chemical weapons in Syria cast doubts on the official claim that Bashar al Assad ordered the attacks. Although he has received many awards for his work, Hersh said praise and condemnation have no impact on his work as a journalist.

Jeremy Scahill’s interview with Seymour Hersh can be heard on The Intercept’s new weekly podcast, Intercepted, which premieres January 25.

Top photo: Journalist Seymour Hersh in Perugia, Italy, on April 1, 2009.

Grandmaster Putin

We will never go down the path of self-isolation, xenophobia, search for enemies or suspiciousness. These are all signs of weakness. We are strong and confident in ourselves.

Grandmaster Putin

(Grandiose multi-step operation lasting 16 years)

vinyard of the saker

 

by RoSsiBaRBeRa

Translated by Eugenia (a huge THANK YOU to Eugenia for this huge and complex translation! The Saker)

Source: https://cont.ws/post/269818

The 1990s are behind us, as is the breakup of the Soviet Union. The 2000s balancing over the cliff, the years of the debt slavery to IMF, unlimited rule of the oligarchs, the status of the regional power, gangs of non-systemic opposition by the American embassy, isolation and haughty attitude – all of this is in the past.

It is very important today, having finished that part of our path, to learn lessons from the past. Particularly because the war itself hasn’t disappeared, and the pressure of the collective West on our country is very much in evidence right now.

The most important conclusion appears to be that the deepest and the most prolonged depressions in the history of Russia coincide not with wars but with the periods of revolutions. Nineteen seventeenth, nineteen ninety first, and, finally, the aborted one, two thousand twelfth.

The dynamics of the GDP per capita in Russia from 1885 through 2011. The value for 1913 is 100%.

To destroy our country, our “friend and partners” were counting precisely on revolutions. And we have to admit that relying on a revolution in Russia rather than on a military confrontation with it, they have created the largest number of problems and difficulties for us.

If the Bolsheviks managed to reach the pre-war level after the WWI and civil war in the first 5-year period, and the losses after the Great Patriotic war were already recouped by 1955, we are still recovering after the catastrophe of 1991 with great difficulty.

GDP of Russia – USSR – Russian Federation in % of the GDP of the USA

Only at the end of two thousand twelfth after the defeat of the most dangerous attempt at revolution, Russia succeeded in transferring the battle for its sovereignty to the international front. The country did not only succeed in defending itself but also developed immunity to further attempts by the West to arrest the Russia’s development using the traditional Western tools – regime change and incitement of internecine conflicts. The country has come to understand the most important thing – the mortal danger of a stab in the back administered within its own borders.

Thanks to that, we have gained time and are continuing to develop successfully.

Even the enormous pressure the West consolidated against us, its sanctions, engineered drop in the oil prices, economic sabotage and juridical outrage in 2015 – the pressure that would have brought down any other country – in Russia only resulted in 3% reduction in GDP. Furthermore, by the end of this year, according to the European estimates, Russia is to expect positive growth.

Wars, crises, pressure, maligning – all of this does not really scare us. We have always weathered storms and have always emerged from them stronger than before.

Table: Three crises in comparison

Our chief enemy has always been the “5th column” inside the country. Those “our people” that betrayed our country at some time or other and, for the money of their sponsors, deceived their former compatriots. Fortunately, today we have become much more experienced, everyone has Internet available, and the Russian society is united by the deep sense of patriotism and generally is much more cohesive that even a few years ago.

All of this gives us a good chance to move our country to a new level of development.

Today, we already are in possession of an outstanding army.

We are one of the recognized leaders in technological innovations. We are again welcoming more little compatriots as the population growth is being restored after catastrophic 1990s.

Population growth in 1961-2016.

The geopolitical, diplomatic and military multi-step combinations devised by the Russian leadership time and again win the upper hand over the multibillion dollar analytical and specialized “agencies” of the Western countries.

But all these achievements are not the accidents of fate but the results of the tremendous effort, sophisticated analysis, well-calculated tactics and brilliant strategy.

Putin’s operation of 16 years duration

In the West, propaganda is usually considered connected with two phenomena – war and power, but it is recognized that propaganda by itself is unable to guarantee the loyalty of the people or popularity to any leader. That is why powers that be often ensure loyalty by force. Since the Western world is convinced that it is the “Crown of Creation”, it explains the Putin’s popularity rating by either propaganda, or the authoritarian nature of the regime, or by both. The ordinary people in the West are restricted by biased Western media to the view of reality in those simplistic terms. Only these paradigms are discussed or described in interviews.

That is precisely how propaganda operates, not imagined one but the real Western propaganda. The truth is hidden behind the different types of lie, and an ordinary person living, say, in the US has a hard type understanding the real situation.

In 2000s, Russia was of no interest to the world’s media. In 2007 at the Munich conference, tough words of President Putin perplexed the West. The media exploded with the headlines “Who is mister Putin?” arousing in the West a certain amount of interest towards Russia. However, since Putin’s words were addressed to the leaders of the Western countries and not to their citizens, the interest did not last long. In his speech that had the effect of turning the international relations upside down, Putin stated the most important idea – “enough is enough, Russia will no longer follow recommendations and demands from the outside. Period”.

The West was not slow to react: in 2008 the West decided to teach a lesson to that not particularly important “former superpower”. A puppet regime was used to destabilize the most vulnerable region of the country – the Caucasus. This was done in a traditionally underhanded dishonorable manner during the Olympic games, the event, for which for centuries wars used to be stopped. A signal to our country was sent.

Unexpectedly, however, a ruined fragment of once powerful country sent “rusted leftovers” of its once powerful military beyond its borders and crushed the Western-trained “invincible” army. That was unexpected, but, on the other hand, quite typical of the Russians. After all, we have always been considered the best warriors in the world, and the US did not see in the events anything menacing for itself. They understood very well that the important thing wasn’t who won on the ground but what would be told to the world about the conflict. The winner would be the one named the winner by the world media. As a result, after successfully forcing Georgia to accept peace settlement, the US easily won the information war over Russia and supplanted reality with a fiction.

Everything quieted down. Russia kept doing something in its “regional corner” without bothering the serious people of the world. The leader that said such dangerous things in 2008 left the position of the President and, judging by the reports, the current President was quite acceptable for the West. The US did not see much sense to do anything at all about Russia. Why bother pressuring the country if it is not doing anything and is incapable to overcome its own deficiencies?

The years passed, and the new elections approached. The 5th column of the country started to send alarming report, and the West decided to check them out. The disintegrated army kept buying the Western military equipment; the minister of defense was clearly incompetent individual; the economy was slowly growing but still the money was being spent incompetently. The treasuries were being bought as usual; the foreign corporations have unlimited access – so, there was no cause to worry. One thing bothered, though – the popularity rating of that same Putting who had several times defeated the western schemes. Using the data of the liberal 5th column, which has always been the conduit of the Western influence in Russia, anglo-saxons decided to use their favorite well-tested method.

After the elections to the State Duma, right in the middle of the presidential campaign, the civil unrest was initiated in the country; billions of dollars were poured into the Russia via the non-government organization (NGO), which had not been closed during the entire preceding period, via the agents of influence and embassy officials. The entire network in Russia was activated at once. The liberal puppets delivered exultant reports; local non-government media night and day broadcasted interviews and speeches of the opposition figures, and not only the ones controlled by the West but also politicians that decided it was time to join them. Everything was going according to plan, and the final hour was coming.

The first annoying sign was the refusal to grant the permission to hold the meeting on the Triumphal Square. The opposition had to settle for the permission to conduct their action on the Bolotnya Square. However, the 5th column felt on top of the world expecting total success and did not pay attention to this fact. . .

The second sign, which caused serious anxiety among the Western field agents, was the meeting of Vladimir Putin with the population that demonstrated clear disgust of the society with the opposition politicians and desire to demonstrate support for the President. But since Putin took no steps to use the popular support, these demonstrations were declared by the opposition-controlled media to have been staged, and the preparation for the meeting on Bolotnya continued according to the all too familiar plan . . .

The decisive action occurred 2 kilometers away from Bolotnoya, on Manezh Square . . . And the whole grandiose operation failed at once, within several hours . . .

All the events at that time and the actions of our President were a dangerous game. Many Russian citizens still do not appreciate how dangerous the events of that day were. Putin’s game was a complex intrigue and very risky.

It is well known that the greater the risk, the greater the prize. Net result of that operation was outing of the whole network of Western influence in the country, full takeover of the media fed by Western funds, full control over politicians and others who then acted on the side of the West, and the ability to control liberal faction in the government, which still lives under the Damoclean sword of compromising information obtained back then.

These events, a complete defeat of Anglo-Saxons in a game they were considered great masters of, caused total prostration of the collective West. The West put in a considerable effort to determine the real situation in the country, as it clearly saw the discrepancy between the reports of the “5th column” and reality. However, as the network of Western influence and its sources were “cleaned up” by the Russian special services, and every step of known agents of Western influence in power was controlled, this work was slow…

But the longer was the analysis, the more dreadful looked the reality…

It turned out that the army, which was presumably being destroyed by one “economist”, in reality had been thoroughly reformed; the industry serving the military was regularized; engineering teams had lots of contracts; military units that were thought to increase only a little were rearmed at incredible pace, and all that after reports that the country cannot produce anything and is buying Western samples for that reason. But the worst (for the West) situation was in the economy. How did in just ten years a country that was 69th by GDP surpass Germany, fifth economy in the world and #1 in Europe! How did the economy grow almost at Chinese speed!

Dynamics of Russia GDP per capita from 1885 through 2011 (The value for 1913 is 100%)

The strategy of containment was revived, specialists were reassigned to this direction, a huge army of special services personnel was directed against this old and still unbroken competitor. The West knew full well that if it does not stop the Russian revival now, while Russia is still not quite stable on its feet, it could lose not only the influence over Russia, but also the world hegemony.

From 2014 to 2015, Russia was subjected to assaults that no country was supposed to withstand, particularly not a country that just had a pre-revolutionary situation.

The project, which is at least 600 years old, of making part of the Russian people a weapon against Russia, is revived. Ukraine, which was quetly being destroyed by the West during all this period, using an example that worked in the middle of the XXth century, is rapidly converted into a military battering ram against Russia.

The West acts quickly, often sloppily, and at the beginning the Russian special services successfully counteract this. However, the pressure and financing turns out to be so great, with so many countries involved, that the situation changes dramatically. Several operations, including Maidan, are conducted in rapid succession. The majority of European countries unexpectedly support the creation of the temporary government, depriving Russia of the claim of illegitimacy of the new powers, whereas the media organize an unprecedented operation of whitewashing the coup in Ukraine. Under the circumstances, Russia has to wash its hands off the Ukrainian political process. Although in this the West won, it does not stand to reason to accuse Russia of doing nothing in Ukraine during the last 20 years.

In the 90s, Russia was in many ways weaker than separated from it Ukraine, and could only focus on its own survival. The Western media wrote with glee that the military potential of military Ukraine was greater than that of the Russian Federation. Indeed, as far as military hardware is concerned, Western analysts were right. One has to wonder how this colossal potential, essentially stolen from the Soviet people by “independent” Ukraine, could be wasted in just 20 years… Next, in the 2000s, Russia with great effort but quietly was restoring itself and did not have the capacity to interfere with the affairs of a foreign state. Only after 2012, Russia reemerges on the international stage.

What could have been done in just two years, when by that time the West had more than two decades to nurture in Ukraine a generation of its admirers?

Everything cannot be done at once.

However, Russians do not surrender, so, having distanced itself from the events in Kiev, Russia concentrated on Crimea.

The first actions of the new power in Kiev caused protests in Crimea, where the majority of the population is Russian-speaking. In parallel, Russian influence was mobilized via public organizations, such as “Russian community of Crimea” and party “Russian Unity”. In addition, direct dialog with the local powers in the autonomy was established. Few people know that, by Crimean peninsula, being an autonomy within Ukraine, right after Maidan events received an ultimatum from new Kiev authorities. The leadership of Crimea was told that within a day a plane will depart in the direction of Crimea, with new administration, and that military hardware is moving towards Crimea. The leadership was strongly recommended to leave before the arrival of the new administration. The details of the military operation prepared against them by the junta were forwarded to the Crimean authorities by Russia, and the Crimean authorities immediately asked the Russian Federation for the help.

In the morning of February 23, Putin tasked the heads of the armed forces and police to begin preparatory work for the return of Crimea to Russia. On March 1, Russian solders with local volunteers blocked all installations of the Ukrainian military on the peninsula. In the early morning of February 27, in response to an attempt of supporters of Mejlis and new Ukrainian powers to take over the building of the Crimean parliament, Russian special forces took over the defense of Crimean administrative buildings, and Supreme Soviet of Crimea decided to conduct an all-Crimea referendum. Sergey Aksenov, the leader of “Russian Unity” party, became the head of the new Crimean government. He announced that Crimea does not recognize new the Ukrainian government and asked Russia to “help ensure peace and quiet in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea”. The referendum about the status of Crimea was held on March 16. Based on its results, Republic of Crimea signed a treaty about joining Russia.

After that huge fiasco with the loss of the most valuable for the West part of its new colony and inglorious retreat of the battleship “Donald Cook” sent to “help”, the US became furious.

Virtually immediately, in April, the West showed its true colors by initiating a hot conflict. Using its puppets and supported by a part of Ukrainian population, Kiev starts an aggression against Eastern Ukraine bordering Russia. The operation verges on genocide of Russian population in the area. Ukraine uses prohibited by international conventions phosphorus bombs, cassette bombs, burns people alive, deliberately targets civilians, and so on. All this demonstrated cruelty has one purpose: to force Russia to invade the territory of a foreign country. Everything was done to achieve this, but even more was done to close the trap thus prepared for the “Russian bear” once it is in it …

The world media were on the ready; engaged politicians froze with microphones near their mouths, the world public opinion was prepared, and in Russia the game “Putin, move in the troops!” was played out…

The world stopped in anticipation… And… nothing happened…

Nothing that the West expected happened, but something else did happen. Putin withstood enormous pressure, but dozens of spy satellites observing Russian-Ukrainian border showed that Russian army remained on its positions. While collective West held the trap open and looked at it, in a different place, a bit to the side, two independent republics were declared unexpectedly, which unexpectedly had armed militias. Every day the quantity and quality of these militias, their supplies and support, grew. Since then the army of the aborigines in the new colony, Ukraine, taught by the US, suffered shameful defeats, encirclements, and surrenders. In the meantime, the West pretended to be a second Napoleon trying to convince the world without a modicum of proof of Russian involvement that one of the most powerful armies on the planet fights in Ukraine with its invisible ghost divisions…

The military path turned out to be a dead end for the US, and to prevent further defeats, which tarnished the image of the world “policeman”, the West, as is its wont, asked to start negotiations…

At the same time, the collective West conducted in another part of the world a greatest military operation since WWII – the creation of controllable tools –the terrorist armies.

Thing is, right now we live in the world with a military balance. The nuclear potential of the two powers does not allow the West to start a war for absolute world domination. The probability of mutual destruction for many years prevents the US and its satellites from starting a global war against Russia and its allies. Russian breakthrough in the development of hypersonic weapons (read here) makes the prospect of military success against it even less likely.

Even incorporation of new colonies the West has to conduct via financial expansion, which is slow, expensive, and not as effective as it would like. Thus, on the background of weakened Russia, with unprecedented provocation on September 11, the grand operation of destabilizing whole parts of the planet was launched, and the policy of controlled chaos was initiated. After staged events with twin towers, the world was told that terrorism is the main enemy. Interestingly, in 2001 terrorism was not a great threat; futheremore, few countries were familiar with it, except Russia and Israel. Importantly, the influence and spread of terrorism increased as the US, under the pretext of war on terrorism, occupied one country after another. While Russia, after taking over new territories, leaves universities, culture, economy, and life in its wake, the US taking over countries leave anarchy, chaos, and always the armies of ORGANIZED terrorists.

Thus, on the one hand, the US got a pretext to invade resource-rich countries and the ability to print more money to finance these wars, while, on the other hand, forming terrorist armies controlled by them.

There were several reasons for this plan.

First – the American debt. And ever increasing problems of servicing it, as it grows.

Second – the creation of chaos. By creating it everywhere except at home the US forms an impression that it is a “safe haven” for capital, attracting enormous financial flows to the US from destabilized regions.

Third, which is the most important, terrorist groups are not state armies. They cannot be attacked with nukes, as they act on the territories of countries. The terror does not maintain a traditional frontline, but it has commanders. This makes them a controllable tool. The only party that could stop terror, according to the Western plan, was the US, and any disobedience towards the US would immediately precipitate a terrorist attack.

Forth – TTIP. The treaty needed by the shadow financial rulers, corporations and finance groups. To stimulate its signing, millions of migrants, created by controlled chaos, were sent to Europe. The final act was getting close and everything was ready.

On September 29, 2015, the US and terrorist and mercenary groups controlled by them are within 20 km of Damascus. The key piece of the American operation, Syria, was almost ready to take its appointed place, the US is celebrating…

All of a sudden, on September 30, 2015, Russian air force starts airstrikes against terror groups all over the Syrian territory, which the world community and its special services did not expect. Bombers and strikers, protected by fighter jets and helicopters, Russia-based planes of Russian strategic air force, launches of cruise missiles from ships of Black Sea and Caspian fleets, salvos of newest cruise missiles “Calibr” of various modifications nobody knew about. The Russian airbase was protected by marines, paratroopers of the Russian airforce an army special forces. Also, the base was protected by arriving systems of PRO, radio-electronic warfare, whereas Russian warships entered the Mediterranean. Military transport planes, which Russia, according to presumably reliable intelligence, could not have in such quantities, created a “bridge” between the two countries, transporting unbelievable quantities of military supplies.

The seemingly successful Western operation of creating an arc of instability and forming from the remnants of Libya, Syria and Iraq of a new state controlled by the US, which was supposed to supply terrorism, that was almost competed, was ruined. More than 10 years of work, several states, many hundreds of billions of dollars, with the endgame in Syria, were crushed by the Polite Army…

Naturally, nothing is over yet. While in Syria mile after mile of the territory is taken away from terrorists, and the country, thanks to Russia, got a peace of sorts, the US still has Libya and Iraq.

But these are geopolitical issues, which will be dealt with in due time. The Russian Syria, meanwhile, is a question of our security, a foothold beyond the state borders. With this foothold, Western plans to push controlled terror by it to the Central Asia, the Russian underbelly, became much less acute and dangerous.

Still, it is guaranteed that right there we should expect the next “gift” from our foreign “friends and partners”.

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS

Unfortunately, lots of people still do not think about why the US and England now pressure our country so fiercely. One can find the answer above. As well as in evaluating what exactly did stop the first large-scale military operation of post-Soviet Russia outside of its territory.

There is no doubt that Western attempts to put pressure on our economy, destabilize our civil society, lure Russia into anti-Russian unions, and play on inter-ethnic tensions will continue.

However, we must acknowledge that the fears of Western states are quite justified…

Huge territory, colossal resources, intelligent population, high morality – Russia has everything to become a dominant state. History shows that every time Russia overcame one aggression or another and the pressure on it temporarily weakened, a period of furious development followed. Getting rid of “shackles and burdens” that held the country down, Russia invariably responded by numerous actions, accomplishments, successes, and rapid growth.

Thus, it is hardly surprising that during these periods the West hastily united and collectively put pressure on our country. In other words, it did exactly what we see today.

Luckily, excellent diplomacy, masterful actions in geopolitics and a well-reasoned approach to internal enemies, as well as the best in the world nuclear defense force, in addition to the highly mobile and professional army, allow Russia to strengthen its constructive role as a Eurasian super-power, the role of the main counterbalance to imperial hegemony of the US and liberal madness of the EU.

Taken together, all of this can in the foreseeable future make our country a recognized leader of the world resistance to corporatocracy, globalization, false tolerance and political correctness, turn it into the main defender of traditional spiritual, religious, moral, and historic values of all peoples on Earth against the West that lost all bearings.

19,000 Taliban Attacks In 10 Months?…DAMN!!

Taliban launch nearly 19,000 attacks in 10 months

the economic times

 

Waziri told reporters at a briefing in the capital, Kabul, that 2,021 Taliban militants were arrested in the past 10 months and 365 Taliban commanders were killed. There was no way to independently confirm Waziri's figures.
Waziri told reporters at a briefing in the capital, Kabul, that 2,021 Taliban militants were arrested in the past 10 months and 365 Taliban commanders were killed. There was no way to independently confirm Waziri’s figures.
KABUL: An Afghan Defense Ministry official says the Taliban have launched nearly 19,000 attacks throughout the country in the last 10 months.

By comparison the Afghan National Security Forces carried out roughly 700 counter-insurgency operations during the same period.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said today he didn’t have a comparative figure from the previous year, “but this year it was much worse for the number of attacks by the Taliban.”

While fighting traditionally eases during the winter months, observers say the attacks this year have continued at a steady pace.

Waziri told reporters at a briefing in the capital, Kabul, that 2,021 Taliban militants were arrested in the past 10 months and 365 Taliban commanders were killed. There was no way to independently confirm Waziri’s figures.

Does a Rogue Deep State Have Trump’s Back?

Rather than being the bad guys, as per the usual Liberal world-view, the Armed Forces may well play a key role in reducing the toxic influence of neocon-neoliberals within the Deep State.

Suddenly everybody is referring to the Deep State, typically without offering much of a definition.

The general definition is the unelected government that continues making and implementing policy regardless of who is in elected office.

I have been writing about this structure for 10 years and studying it from the outside for 40 years. Back in 2007, I called it the Elite Maintaining and Extending Global Dominance, which is a more concise description of the structure than Deep State.

The Deep State is the complex network of state-funded and/or controlled institutions, agencies, foundations, university research projects, media ties, etc.

You can’t separate these network nodes. They are all tied together by funding, information flows, personnel and a thousand other connections.

For the past few years, I have been suggesting there is a profound split in the Deep State that is not just about power or ideology, but about the nature and future of National Security: in other words, what policies and priorities are actually weakening or threatening the long-term security of the United States?

I have proposed that there are progressive elements within the sprawling Deep State that view the dominant neocon-neoliberal agenda of the past 24 years as a disaster for the long-term security of the U.S. and its global interests (a.k.a. the Imperial Project).

There are also elements within the Deep State that view Wall Street’s dominance as a threat to America’s security and global interests.

So let’s dig in by noting that the warmongers in the Deep State are civilians, not military. It’s popular among so-called Liberals (the vast majority of whom did not serve nor do they have offspring in uniform — that’s fallen to the disenfranchised and the working class) to see the military as a permanent source of warmongering.

These misguided souls are ignoring that it’s civilians who order the military to go into harm’s way, not the other way around. The neocons who have waged permanent war as policy are virtually all civilians, few of whom served in the U.S. armed forces and none of whom (to my knowledge) have actual combat experience.

These civilian neocons were busily sacking and/or discrediting critics of their warmongering within the U.S. military all through the Iraqi debacle. Active-duty service personnel have borne the brunt of civilian planned, ordered and executed warmongering.

So let’s move on to the split between the civilian Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the DoD (Department of Defense) intelligence agencies:

Though we have to be careful not to paint a very large agency with one brush, it’s fair to say that the civilian leadership of the CIA has long loved to “play army”. The CIA has its own drone (a.k.a. Murder, Inc.) division, as well as its own special ops (“play army” Special Forces).

Meanwhile, it’s not exactly a secret that when it comes to actual combat operations and warfighting, the CIA’s in-theater intelligence is either useless, misleading or false. This is the result of a number of institutional failings of the CIA, number one of which is the high degree of politicization within its ranks and organizational structure.

The CIA’s reliance on “analysis” rather than human agents (there’s a lot of acronyms for all these, if you find proliferating acronyms of interest), and while some from-30,000-feet analysis can be useful, it’s just as often catastrophically wrong.

We can fruitfully revisit the Bay of Pigs disaster, the result of warmongering civilians in the CIA convincing incoming President Kennedy that the planned invasion would free Cuba of Castro’s rule in short order. There are many other examples, including the failure to grasp Saddam’s willingness to invade Kuwait, given the mixed signals he was receiving from U.S. State Department personnel.

Simply put, if you are actually prosecuting a war, then you turn to the services’ own intelligence agencies to help with actual combat operations, not the CIA. This is of course a sort of gossip, and reading between the lines of public information; nobody is going to state this directly in writing.

If you want documented evidence of this split in the Deep State — sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Nobody in the higher echelons of the Deep State is going to leak anything about the low-intensity war being waged because the one thing everyone agrees on is the Deep State’s dirty laundry must be kept private.

As a result, the split is visible only by carefully reading between the lines, by examining who is being placed in positions of control in the Trump Administration, and reading the tea leaves of who is “retiring” (i.e. being fired) or quitting, which agencies are suddenly being reorganized, and the appearance of dissenting views in journals that serve as public conduits for Deep State narratives.

Many so-called Liberals are alarmed by the number of military officers Trump has appointed. Once you realize it’s the neocon civilians who have promoted and led one disastrous military intervention after another, then you understand Trump’s appointments appear to be a decisive break from the civilian warmongers who’ve run the nation into the ground.

If you doubt this analysis, please consider the unprecedentedly politicized (and pathetically childish) comments by outgoing CIA director Brennan against an incoming president.

Even if you can’t stand Trump, please document another instance in which the CIA director went off on an incoming president — and this after the CIA spewed a blatant misinformation campaign claiming a hacked Democratic Party email account constituted a successful Russian effort to influence the U.S. election — a surreal absurdity.

Let me translate for you: our chosen Insider lost the election; how dare you!

A number of observers are wondering if the CIA and its Deep State allies and cronies will work out a way to evict Trump from office or perhaps arrange a “lone gunman” or other “accident” to befall him.

The roots of such speculations stretch back to Dallas, November 1963, when a “long gunman” with ties to the CIA and various CIA proxies assassinated President Kennedy, an avowed foe of the CIA.

Setting aside the shelf loads of books on the topic, both those defending the “lone gunman” thesis and those contesting it, the unprecedented extremes of institutionally organized and executed anti-Trump campaigns is worthy of our attention.

Given my thesis of a profound disunity in the Deep State, and the emergence of an element hostile to neocons and neoliberalism (including Wall Street), then it’s not much of a stretch to speculate that this rogue Deep State opposed to neocon-neoliberalism has Trump’s back, as a new administration is pretty much the only hope to rid the nation’s top echelons of the neocon-neoliberal policies that have driven the U.S. into the ground.

Rather than being the bad guys, as per the usual Liberal world-view, the Armed Forces may well play a key role in reducing the utterly toxic influence of neocon-neoliberals within the Deep State.

If you have wondered why academics like Paul Krugman and the CIA are on the same page, it’s because they are simply facets of the same structure. Krugman is a vocal neoliberal, the CIA is vocally neocon: two sides of the same coin. I invite you to ponder the possibility that the Deep State is not monolithic, but deeply divided along the fault lines.

We can speculate that some of these progressive elements view Trump with disdain for all the same reasons those outside the Deep State disdain him, but their decision tree is simple: if you want to rid America’s Deep State of toxic neocon-neoliberalism before it destroys the nation, you hold your nose and go with Trump because he’s the only hope you have.

Regards,

Charles Hugh Smith
for The Daily Reckoning

US Components of D-5 Nuclear Missiles Malfunctioned In British Trident Test-Firing

[D-5 Missiles are backbone of controversial US anti-missile network.]

Obama government asked UK to keep Trident ‘malfunction’ secret – reports

bt_logo

 

The United States asked David Cameron’s government to keep details of the alleged failed Trident missile test launch secret, according to reports.

The test saw an unarmed Trident missile reportedly malfunction off the coast of Florida in June

The United States asked David Cameron’s government to keep details of the alleged failed Trident missile test launch secret, according to reports.  American technology was to blame for the problems in the June 2016 test and Barack Obama’s administration pressed the UK not to reveal details, The Times said.

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed she was informed about the test before addressing MPs ahead of the July vote, which came just days after she entered office.

A British military source told the newspaper: “It was the Obama administration that asked the Cameron administration not to comment on this.

“The US administration may have been worried that there could be similar problems on other missiles.

“The British submarine successfully carried and launched the missile; the bit that went wrong was the US proprietary technology.”

Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence refused to comment on the claims.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon was summoned to the Commons on Monday to update MPs on the incident, but repeatedly refused to discuss details of the launch.

As he was speaking, CNN reported an unnamed US defence official with direct knowledge of the incident had confirmed the unarmed Trident II D5 missile veered off course after being launched from a Royal Navy submarine off the coast of Florida.

The US official was reported to have said the altered trajectory was part of an automatic self-destruct sequence triggered when missile electronics detect an anomaly.

Sir Michael told MPs that a demonstration and shakedown “concludes each time with an unarmed missile firing”, adding: “HMS Vengeance successfully concluded that shakedown operation.”

He added: “There are very few things that we cannot discuss openly in Parliament, but the security of our nuclear deterrent is certainly one of them.

“It has never been the practice of governments to give Parliament details of the demonstration and shakedown operations.”

The Ministry of Defence has repeatedly publicised successful launches of Trident missiles in recent years.

Sir Michael said: “It may well be that earlier governments in different situations, indeed in more benevolent times, might have take different decisions about how much information they were prepared to reveal about these particular demonstration and shake-down operations.

“But these are not, of course, as benevolent times.”

NATO–A Criminal Organization

NATO: A criminal and a liar

pravda
NATO:  A criminal and a liar. 58374.jpeg

Using a Goebbels-style mechanism to whitewash the truth, repeating lies and inventing non-existent threats to perpetuate itself, NATO uses the media to brainwash a gullible western public, employing a manipulation of fear to implement its trans-national policies, parading Russia as the eternal ogre. Let us take a look behind the scenes.

It is difficult to know whether it is more sad, or ridiculous, to hear Western commentators speaking about Vladimir Putin as a tyrant, and Russia as a threat. It is even sadder to hear a gullible western public, fed on a menu of barefaced lies, reiterating such utter nonsense as if they had received the Truth from some kind of oracle. As NATO’s rhetoric reaches hysterical proportions, perhaps it is time to search for this Truth by examining the facts, rather than believing in fairy stories.

The NATO ploy is in fact quite primary, and runs along the lines of a medieval witch-hunt, or a mass-lynching in a primitive society after someone has pointed at a passer-by and shouted out “He’s a wizard!” or “She’s a witch!”. The story goes like this: (drum roll) (dramatic orchestrated music, beginning piano and reaching a crescendo) Russia has threatened all its neighbors. Russia has seized Crimea from Ukraine after attacking Georgia and forcing Chechnya into submission. Russia then invaded Ukraine. Now Russia is threatening the Baltic States. Next stop… Manchester. Then (drum roll) Texas!! Silence. (violins) But NATO is here to protect you (Vivaldi’s 4 seasons). NATO has the clout to rout, to install democracy over plutocracy, to usher Russia into a corner, to protect Europe and European values, NATO values, against the hordes from the East. (Large photo as a backdrop, showing Tony Blair grinning inanely among a hundred Albanian boys named ToniBler in his honor. Camera pans into his face. Something sinister lunges behind his eyes, which burn red as he hisses “Told you so! I got that trillion-dollar deal!”

“Cut!! Cut!! Cut that Blair bit out! Finish it on the word East, put it on track seven, and give it an echo, like East east east east and fade out. Cool. OK that should do the trick”.

Brainwashing

Funny? Not really, they actually managed to sell the story, because supposedly intelligent, cultured and informed people are repeating it with great authority. Sky News is even today peddling Theresa May as the best option for the next Prime Minister of the UK because she has the authority “to stand up to Putin over the Baltic States” or some such nonsense.

As Goebbels did, if you invent a lie and repeat it ad nauseam, people get brainwashed into believing it, and we see this on the pages of this very newspaper, Pravdareport,  in the “freedom of expression” comments section, where Russophobic messages of hatred accompany every single article, complete with insults against Russia and its people and President. OK such is par for the course when you practice freedom of expression but the intention is clear.

So let us tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but and out NATO’s strategy for what it is, namely an attempt to create a raison d’être, an exercise in self-perpetuation because after all, what is NATO? It is the cutting edge of the Sinister Six Sisters, the BARFFS (Banking, Arms, Energy, Finance, Food, Pharmaceuticals Lobbies), implementing their policies in its target states and at the same time paying the bills of its board of directors, those involved in the arms trade. NATO’s official budget, it announces, is around one billion USD – quite obviously this would not fill a cavity in a crocodile’s tooth but it serves to pull the wool over the eyes of the willing gullible fools who swallow everything NATO says without question. The real figure is the collective military spending of all NATO countries, which is around one point two trillion USD each and every year, that is one point two thousand billion dollars, or 1.2 x 10 to the power 12 or 1,200,000,000,000 USD. No money for your healthcare, Mr. Tomlinson? No place at school for little Johnny, Mrs. Browne? No funding for Master Bates’ dental plan?

NATO’s budget: 1.2 trillion USD each and every year

So with a budget three times higher, annually, than the amount of cash it would take to eradicate global poverty, for good, in a single payment, it makes sense that NATO wishes to perpetuate itself, does it not? And let’s be honest, Serbia was small fry. Iraq was a foreign policy disaster (did anyone hear them speaking about Russia invading people back in 2003?), the intervention in Libya was a re-run of Iraq and the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa is today a failed State crawling with terrorists. Burkina Faso? Chad? Too small, no resources. So then they remembered Russia.

The intercepted radio messages during the Chechen Wars revealed some classic American English accents while under Eltsin, the whole affair was bungled as some people were more interested in making business by prolonging the war, until a real leader appeared, sorted out the mess and organized a free and fair referendum. Over 95% of the Chechen population voted to remain inside the Russian Federation. Fast Forward, after Iraq, to Georgia. Remember 2008? The western media outlets showed footage of missiles fired by the Georgian Armed Forces traveling north into Russian-held positions, labeling them as Russian missiles firing southwards.

Again, the clear soundbites among the Georgian Armed Forces in American English as the NATO-led protégés were routed “OK Come on guys, get back inside!” Georgia attacked and murdered the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, Russia responded with a very measured reply which re-established order.

Now Ukraine. An illegal coup staged in Kiev in what is known as Maidan Square ousted the democratically elected President, Yanukovich, and installed a motley group of Ukrainian politicians, some of which had links to Fascist groups, another boasted about links to Al-Qaeda. They remained silent while Ukrainian Fascists perpetrated massacres against Russian-speaking Ukrainians, forcing the people of Donbass to take up arms to defend themselves. For the ignorant, Russian-speaking Ukrainians equals Russians, so any soldier speaking Russian is a Russian soldier.

NATO lies

It is simply not the case. While there may have been unofficial visits by Russians to their family in south-east Ukraine to help out, or visits by Russian militants to help out their fellows, this does not mean Russia invaded Ukraine, any more than it means the USA is fighting for ISIS just because a handful of volunteers turn up in Syria and declare themselves as terrorists.

As regards Crimea, in the absence of the legal entity in force, namely the democratically elected President, the entity with the due authority was the Crimean Legislative Assembly, which decided to hold a free and fair referendum on status outside Russia or inside Russia, and the people expressed their will to rejoin Russia.

Nobody in NATO complained when the USA was giving logistical support to the United Kingdom when Argentina invaded/reclaimed the Falklands/Malvinas, nobody complained in the UK when the population of these islands voted in a referendum to retain their British status.

So as we see, each and every one of the accusations levelled against Russia are totally untrue. The Soviet Union always had good relations among its member states and always fostered friendly relations with its neighbors. Actions taken in the COMECON States were taken by the governments of those States, formed by nationals of these states allied with the USSR and any such actions must be taken in context, namely when NATO was spending trillions of dollars annually in plans to assassinate leaders, support fascist dictatorships which perpetrated massacres across the globe, perpetrating acts of sabotage, terrorism and provocation.

In the 1990s, footage shown by Italian TV station RAI UNO of NATO warplanes strafing the Iraqi fields of cereals to burn the crops to starve the civilians were zapped off the internet, but they were seen. Let us entertain the notion that NATO is not what it claims to be.

Remember the lies over Iraq? The Weapons of Mass Destruction? The forged documents linking Saddam to Yellowcake Uranium and Nigeria? Remember the chemical warfare facilities, which were powdered milk plants? Remember the stories about Gaddafi bombing his own people? Remember when Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi took SKY News to the locations they said the Libyan Air Force had bombed, with the cameras, and asked them where the damage was? Remember the photos copied and pasted from the Net showing hundreds of Syrian children murdered by Assad, when in fact they were taken from a decade earlier in Iraq, the victims of NATO bombing? Remember when they showed mass protests against Russian banks, when in fact the backdrop showed Athens and Greek banks?

So why should we believe NATO, when their accusations are totally false and when they have a history of shitfaced lies?

And now let us examine these “plans” to over-run the Baltic States. Er…why would Russia want to assimilate the Baltic States? These three States during the second world war had a human rights record which vied with Hitler’s in terms of cruelty. In Latvia the Latvian Waffen SS Division was staffed by Latvian officers and troops, not Germans, and these carried out acts of almost indescribable cruelty in the concentration and extermination camps. Indeed, the Latvians began building concentration camps long before Hitler arrived on the scene – the Fascist dictator Karlis Ulmanis began building one in 1934.

The concentration and extermination camps in Latvia were not one or two. Apart from the infamous Mezaparks Camp at Kaiserwald near Riga, there were Daugavpils, Lenta, Liepaja, Strazdu Manor, Dundaga, Jelgava, Valmiera, Salaspils and Jumpravmuita. Between 70,000 and 85,000 Latvian Jews were exterminated in these camps, which counted on the willing collaboration and active participation of a substantial number of Latvians.

Now Estonia. Most of Estonia’s 4,500 Jews managed to escape before the Nazi Panzers rolled over the border. However, sadly most of the 1,000 to 1,500 who remained were murdered. As in Latvia, this extermination policy counted on the willing participation of national citizens, the Estonian SS Division and the 287th Estonian Police Battalion bearing witness to this.

Estonia had even more concentration and extermination camps than Latvia:  Auvere, Aseri, Dorpat, Ereda, Goldfields, Idu-Virumaa, Illinurme, Jagala, Johvi, Kalevi-Liiva, Kivioli, Klooga, Kukruse, Kunda, Kuremae, Lagedi, Narva, Narva-Joesuu, Petschur, Putki, Saka, Stara Gradiska, Sonda, Soski, Tartu, Vaivara, Viivikonna and Wesenburg. A violent anti-Romany policy was also carried out in this country, virtually annihilating all the country’s gypsy population.

And Lithuania. Here, complicity with the Germans in annihilating the Jewish population saw the extermination of between 135,000 and 220,000 people. Few survived the horrors of the camps at Kovno (Kaunas), Kauen, Slobodka, HKP at Vilna and Prawienischken.

Groups of Lithuanian youths began attacking Jews in Kovno even before the Germans invaded on 24th June 1941 and during the occupation, the Lithuanian auxiliaries of the Einsatzgruppe and the Lithuanian Security Police willingly carried out acts of mass butchery.

So rather than assimilate these countries, Russia would much rather build a wall and a fence and stock up thousands of canisters of disinfectant. There are no plans whatsoever to attack these countries, and looking at the vast territory of the Russian Federation, what possible purpose would the “invasion” of such territories serve? Russia has access to the Baltic through the Russian territory of Kaliningrad and further north, from Russian territory in the Gulf of Finland.

As regards fly-bys with military aircraft, it is NATO’s aircraft on Russia’s borders, not Russian aircraft off the coast of Liverpool or Florida that we are speaking about… and anyway these games have been played by pilots on both sides for decades. For those of us in the know, it’s a bit of fun.

NATO breached international law in invading Iraq. NATO has breached international law in several locations during the last two decades, involving itself in the internal affairs of sovereign States, breaching the terms of the UN Charter itself. Let us see the criminal record of NATO.

It has breached the UN Charter Chapter VII, Article 46: “Plans for the application of armed force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee” every time military action took place without this Committee being convened.

In its intervention in domestic affairs of  sovereign states, NATO breached UNSC Resolution 2131 (XX) of 21 December 1965, containing the Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States, backed up by Resolutions 31/91 of 14 December 1976, 32/153 of 19 December 1977, 33/74 of 15 December 1978, 34/101 of 14 December 1979 and 35/159 of 12 December 1980 on non-interference in the internal affairs of States.

In its bombardment of undefended buildings and structures, NATO breached Article 3 of the Statute of The Hague International Penal Court which states clearly that one criterion for indictment for war crimes is:

“Attack or bombardment, by whatever means, against undefended cities, towns, villages, buildings or houses”.

Also, the same Article 3 cites “Massive destruction of cities, towns or villages or destruction not justified by military necessity”.

NATO has attacked civilian structures with military hardware, including electricity grids and water supply networks. NATO has supported terrorist groups on its own liss of proscribed organizations.

Under the UN Charter, Chapter VI, Article 33, member states must “seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice”. NATO has systematically refused to adhere to this.

In using mercenaries, NATO breached UNSC Resolution 1973 (2011), in its Chapter on Protection of Civilians, in paragraph 4,  which states: “4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council.

In the transportation of rebel forces to enter the theatre of operations:

UNSC Resolution 1970 (2011): In the Chapter on Enforcement of the arms embargo, Paragraph 13. NATO has also breached the Geneva Conventions. Article 14 of the second Protocol to the Geneva Conventions states, “Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited. It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless for that purpose objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations, and supplies and irrigation works.”

The 4th Geneva Convention prohibits all forms of attacks on civilians and the collective punishment of civilian populations.

To sum up, NATO’s record is not that good, is it? Compare that with the lies invented against the next intended victim, Russia, which has done not one single act in the long list levelled against it, and we see the one with a lot of explaining to do is NATO, not Russia.

NATO is a criminal organization which serves as a front for the sinister lobbies that control its policy. Its lies are the siren’s song, the harbinger of the war lobby which wishes to grow rich on the back of the misfortune of others. Russia has the right to conduct military operations within its own territory, wherever it chooses, whenever it chooses and however it chooses. The fact that Russia is willing to accommodate NATO and its arrogance is a telling example of attempted diplomacy in the face of shitfaced arrogance.

Thank goodness for the international community that Vladimir Putin is so patient and that the Russian Federation insists on following international law.

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Photo

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Pravda.Ru 

Twitter: @TimothyBHinchey

 

*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.

Syrian Forces Seize Large Shipment of American RPGs, Tow Missiles and Ammo Headed For Islamists

Syrian intelligence agents seize US-made missiles from Islamist militants in Damascus

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BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:30 A.M.) – Syrian Air Force Intelligence agents confiscated a large amount of weapons destined for the Damascene suburb of Barzeh on Sunday, a military source told Al-Masdar News.

The intelligence agents reportedly seized a large cache of RPG-29 rounds and US-manufactured anti-tank TOW missiles that were supposed to be delivered to the Saudi-backed “Jaysh Al-Islam” (Army of Islam) group in Barzeh.

According to a military source in Damascus, the Islamist rebels are lacking anti-tank missiles in the East Ghouta region; this is one of the reasons why they took a risk in attempting to smuggle guided missiles on Sunday.

 

 

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The military source added that Sunday’s seizure of these missiles is good indication of Jaysh Al-Islam’s desperation in the East Ghouta.

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The military source added that Sunday’s seizure of these missiles is good indication of Jaysh Al-Islam’s desperation in the East Ghouta.

Mullah Abdul Salam, Taliban Shadow Gov. For Kunduz

[The following report from Khaama News quoting VOA, tells of a terrorist attack upon a Taliban leader in Kunduz, calling him, “Taliban’s shadow governor for Kunduz Mullah Abdul Salam Akhund“.  The problem with that, is that Abdul Salam Akhund is the notorious Taliban warlord from Musa Qala (Helmand), Taliban defector/collaborator w/British MI6.  Apparently, there are many guys named “Mullah Abdul Salam”, one of them is recognized as the Taliban shadow governor for Kunduz (Pakistan Arrests Germany’s Enemy Number One).  This picture of Salam below is courtesy of Der Spiegel DW, German forces were responsible for the Kunduz area.]

Mullah Abdul Salam has been taken into custody in Pakistan. [This guy is a lieutenant in the Mullah Mansour faction of Taliban.  This would support the idea of another escalation in the Taliban civil war.  Now if we knew for certain which side was being wooed in Kandahar when the UAE guys were hit, then we might understand this war within a war.]

[One would think that Khaama press site would have their facts straight, if they were not quoting propaganda website VOA.  Abdul Salam Akhund below has been attacked by the Taliban before for his duplicity.  For that reason, I suspect that Western forces are up to their old games in Afghanistan, you know, the ones which got British agents booted out before?]

[ British in Negotiations with Taliban–27 Dec 2007  ;  The British-American War Continues: MI-6 Agents Expelled from Afghanistan ; Our Deal With Mullah Abdul Salaam–14 Jan 2008 ; Which Mullah Abdul Salaam Does Pakistan Have In Custody?–March 8, 2010 ; Unknown Gunmen Attack Taliban Former Envoy House In KabulDec 24, 2016 ]

www.reuters.com

Suicide attack target Taliban leader in Kunduz leaving 4 dead

Khaama

 

A suicide attack targeted a top Taliban leader in Kunduz province in north of Afghanistan, leaving at least four people dead.

According to the security officials, the incident took place on Saturday night in Dashti Archi district after a suicide bomber detonated himself among the Taliban fighters.

Commander of the 808 Spinzar Zone, Sher Aziz Kamawal, told VOA’s Afghanistan service that four Taliban insurgents were killed in the attack.

He said Taliban’s shadow governor for Kunduz Mullah Abdul Salam Akhund was wounded in the attack.

According to Kamawal, the suicide bomber had came from the restive Achin district of Nangarhar for the suicide attack.

Local residents have said Mullah Abdul Salam was invited in a party in Tark village where he was targeted by the bomber.

No group has so far claimed responsibility behind the attack which comes as the infighting among the Taliban group has been rise during the recent years.

Taliban is also facing threats from the loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group who are mainly based in Achin, Kot, Haska Mina and some other remote districts of Nangarhar.

Tens of Thousands of Hezb-e Islami Fighters Ready to Fight Against Terrorism

Tens of Thousands of Hezb-e Islami Fighters Ready to Fight Against Terrorism

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Thousands of Hezb-e Islami fighters will be ready to fight against terrorism in cooperation with the Afghan government, Hezb-e Islami chief negotiator said.

“One of the articles of the peace agreement was the elimination of military activities of the Hezb-e Islami party. The practical process of registration has been started in Logar, Maidan Wardak and Laghman provinces and the their numbers will be reached to tens of thousands,” said Muhammad Karim Amin, Afghanistan’s Hizb-e-Islami party’s senior political board member.

Karim Amin says that the Hezb-e Islami has effective programs for changing the current situation of the country.

“Hezb-e Islami has an effective and specified program for improvement of the situation which has been presented to the government. If the government cooperates with the party, more than 50 percent of the violence will be reduced. And the situations will be changed in the provinces,” Karim Amin added.

According to Hezb-e Islami, the new solutions of this party are not for the continuation of war and the peace scheme and public relations can be effective for reducing war in Afghanistan.

Pakistani Anti-Shia Terrorism Resumes In Parachinar–20 dead in market blast

heart-of-asia

 

A bomb exploded Saturday in a market in a northwest tribal region that borders Afghanistan, killing 20 people and wounding at least 50, officials said.

 

Dr. Sabir Hussain at the main hospital in Parachinar, the capital of Pakistan’s Kurram tribal region, said two wounded victims died during treatment, raising the death toll.

Shahid Khan, an assistant tribal administrator, said the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables from a wholesale shop. He said the attack was being investigated.

Lashker-e-Jhangvi, a banned sectarian militant group that has attacked minority Shiites Muslims in the past, claimed responsibility for the attack. The bombing took place in a predominantly Shiite area of Kurram, which has seen attack by Sunni militants who have hideouts there. Shiites are a minority in Pakistan.

“That was our combined work with Shahryar group of Mahsud Taliban,” Ali Sufyan, a spokesman for the banned group, wrote in a text message to an AP reporter.

Kurram has been the scene of increased militant activities in recent years and the Army carried out a massive operation against extremists in the region but they still have the capacity to strike.

Khan said some of the wounded would be airlifted to hospitals in Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Hospitals in tribal regions and rural areas of Pakistan typically are not equipped to handle such emergencies.

Ashiq Hussain, who was lightly wounded, was being treated in Parachinar hospital. He said he was among the people purchasing fruits and vegetables loaded on a van when the explosion took place. “There was a big bang and I saw a dark cloud of smoke and dust before passing out,” he said.

Ashiq Hussain said he saw bleeding bodies and severed limbs and heard cries when he came back to his senses. “I was just bleeding from my leg,” he said. “Thank God I am alive.”

Initially, seven people were brought dead from the vegetable market blast site and more than 60 wounded, according to Dr. Hussain. Eleven of the critically wounded died earlier while being treated, he said.

Shiite leader Faqir Hussain said all the bodies were brought to a Shiite mosque.

Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, the provincial governor, told local Geo television that the remnants of militant groups targeted by security forces were trying to show their existence by such attacks.

“Terrorists largely eliminated by our security forces and the remaining will soon meet their fate if we all together rise against them,” he said.

Afghans Blame Pakistan, But Expose Own Games–(updated)

The suicide attack was plotted at a suicide training center called “Mawlawi Ahmad Qandahari” in the city of Quetta, Pakistan, the NDS said.

[Mawlawi Ahmad of Kandahar is a lieutenant in the Mullah Rasoul Taliban faction.   

“Mawlawi Ahmad, originally lived in Kandahar but now resides in Quetta.”–Afghan Biographies, Mullah Mohammad Rasul Akhund, a.k.a., Mullah Rasool.  By blaming Ahmad, is Afghan govt shooting itself in the foot? (Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?).]

 

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The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on Wednesday the National Unity Government (NUG), NATO and the United Arab Emirates will probe the suicide bombing last week at the Kandahar governor’s guesthouse in which five UAE diplomats were killed.

In a statement released by the NDS, based on the orders of President Ashraf Ghani a joint delegation of Afghan security experts in collaboration with UAE research groups and international coalition forces led by NATO have started investigations into the Kandahar guesthouse suicide bombing.

According to initial investigations the attack was planned outside Afghanistan, NDS said.

The suicide attack was plotted at a suicide training center called “Mawlawi Ahmad Qandahari” in the city of Quetta, Pakistan, the NDS said.

The blast occurred inside the Kandahar governor’s high-security guesthouse where the UAE diplomats, including Ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi, had gathered for dinner. No group claimed responsibility and the Taliban denied any involvement.

The Kandahar police chief Gen Abdul Raziq blamed the Haqqani Network while the Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar claimed that the attack was planned ‘outside’ the country.

However, Head of General Security for the Emirate of Dubai Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim disputed the claims by the Afghan security officials and said Afghan officials are responsible.

A UAE delegation recently visited Afghanistan to get a briefing about the circumstances that led to the serious security lapse and the progress in the investigation. An Arab diplomatic source said the UAE officials have “conveyed their serious objections at the failure of the Kandahar security officials including Gen Raziq, to ensure security for the UAE ambassador and diplomats.”

Raziq had walked out of the guest house just three minutes before the bomb exploded inside the guest house. Sources close to the Taliban say that Taliban representatives from the Qatar office were scheduled to travel to the UAE on Sunday to meet officials and clarify that they had no role in the attack.

Taliban and UAE—Who Opened the Kandahar Crater Between Them?

[I have been following Pakistani and Afghan news for many years, leading me to question “Why does everyone there shy away from naming names?” It is like a pact of silence is shared by everybody in the region, where neighbor refuses to point a finger at his neighbor. Even news reports like this article on the Kandahar attack leave readers wondering why it is that even the Taliban refuse to name the real bombers of Kandahar, despite the fact that they obviously know?]

Hidden Links?

the nation pakistan

Hidden Links?

No terrorist group claimed the massacre in the southern city of Kandahar, Afghanistan that killed five UAE diplomats and injured the ambassador.

However, the Afghan authorities were quick to condemn the Afghan Taliban who had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Kabul Parliament, as well as Pakistani intelligentsia.

In the aftermath, senior Taliban officials have sought to reassure the United Arab Emirates that it was not behind the Kandahar attack, claiming that, “We have very cordial relations with some of the Islamic world including the UAE and we would never want to target them.

More than a dozen Afghan and foreign officials were killed last week and the Taliban have denied responsibility, instead accusing “covert intelligence circles” close to the Afghan government of carrying out the attack to “damage relations between the insurgents and a friendly Arab government.

” While foreign diplomats should be afforded maximum security, the Taliban statement points to some support in the Gulf State for the Afghan Taliban.

The UAE was one of the few countries to recognise the former Taliban government in the 1990s although it broke relations in the wake of the September 11 attacks on US targets in 2001.

A number of senior Taliban members live in Qatar, where the movement opened a political office in 2013.

It is surprising that these Arab states are not criticised or questioned for their open links with the Afghan Taliban that continue to be a problem for the stability of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban blame the Afghan Government, which in turns blames Pakistan.

Yet there are many other players in the game, including India and Arab states.

While we know India’s hegemonic plans, where do the loyalties of these Arab states lie and to what extent are their relations cordial with the Afghan Taliban? No one asks these pertinent questions, while Pakistan has been made to unfairly take responsibility for all crises in the region.

Full Transcript–Donald Trump’s full inauguration speech

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Transcript: Donald Trump’s full inauguration speech

baltimore sun

 

 

Full text of the inauguration speech as delivered by Donald J. Trump:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.

This is your day. This is your celebration.

And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.

These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;

Subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;

We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own;

And spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.

But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.

We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.

In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over.

Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.

We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.

It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:

You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, We Will Make America Strong Again.

We Will Make America Wealthy Again.

We Will Make America Proud Again.

We Will Make America Safe Again.

And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America.

War On Kandahar Police Continues–16 Policeman Killed In Overnight Gunbattle

[Afghan Govt Blames “Foreign Hand” (code for Pakistan) For Kandahar Bombing ; Kandahar : Afghan Police Suffer Casualties In Taliban Attack]

16 police killed in S. Afghanistan’s Kandahar province

Xinhua net

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) — Up to 16 police were killed as militants stormed police checkpoints in Miwand district of the southern Kandahar province on Friday, a local official said.

“A group of Taliban rebels attacked some security checkpoints in Sarabaghal area of Miwand district at around 03:00 a.m. local time today triggering gun battle which lasted for a while during which 16 police personnel including commander of checkpoints Sardar Wali were martyred,” the official told Xinhua but declined to be identified.

Nearly two dozen Taliban fighters were also killed and some others injured in the firefight, the official said.

Meanwhile, Samim Khapalwak, spokesman for Kandahar provincial government, has confirmed the fighting in Miwand district, saying the clash occured in “Sarabaghal locality early morning during which several enemies” had been killed. Khapalwak, however, declined to make comment on the possible casualties of security personnel.

However, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit in the southern region, in contact with media, claimed that the armed militants inflicted huge casualties to police personnel in Miwand district.

Kandahar, the former stronghold of Taliban militants, has been the scene of insurgency over the past several years.

Pakistan Has Very Strange Ideas About Development and Counter-terrorism

[Pakistan has developed a very strange theory of counter-terrorism, an amalgam of competing ideas, borrowed from their two greatest benefactors, the United States and Saudi Arabia.  Pakistan has Created  its own synthesis of the American idealistic efforts to “win the hearts and minds” of the heavily-punished Vietnamese, and the Saudi theories on Islamist terrorist rehabilitation and reconditioning.  Believing that it was possible to “wean” a tribal population away from violence with highways, development and economic opportunities, Pakistan convinced its Arab and American friends (Asian Development Bank) to sponsor a massive infrastructure development project in the FATA Tribal Region.

Under authority of FATA Long-Term Governance Action Plan 2015-2025, Pakistan has given the Tribal Regions to the Pak Army, empowering them to not only make most life and death decisions for the population there, but giving the Army control over international development projects which were being planned for the region, as well.]

How To Spot A Militant: Pakistan Army Removes Roofs In Waziristan

Pakistan’s Idea of Counter-Terrorism

“Pick-up the burden of building a new Pakistani state…this is the message being delivered to graduates of Balochistan’s schools and universities by government shills…that it was ‘incumbent on them to do their best and strive for national development.”–Population Welfare Minister Zakia Shahnawaz

[The biggest problem with that civilian government decision is that the Pak Army has some very strange ideas about counter-terrorism, concerning the cause and effect of Pakistan’s terrorist infestation.  The Pak Army operates on the principle of “good terrorists and bad terrorists”, creating a category of terrorists who are basically immune from military action.  For everyone else in FATA, Army leaders preach the theory that economic stagnation and deprivation are the primary causes of terrorism, claiming that terrorists are a bi-product of their environment. 

In their view, the “terror war” must be driven by efforts to bring development and prosperity to the Tribal Regions, by converting “tribal areas rural to urban centers”.  In their view, you simply take international development funds and invest them in the FATA Region, expecting that to create an economic miracle and full-employment and to pacify all enmity. The militants would then, theoretically, simply lay down their guns and pick up some tools, if offered the opportunity. 

This drove Pakistan’s megalomaniacal generals to believe that they could simply do something so radical as to evict the entire Mehsud Tribe from Wana and South Waziristan, in order to allow workers time to concentrate upon building roads, schools and new homes.  Operation Rah-e-Nijat and Operation Zarb-e-Azb were the first stages of Pakistan’s militarized development, sweeping (bad) terrorists from FATA.  This also meant the flushing of the entire Mehsud tribe from S. Waziristan, for their deep connections to the outlawed TTP.  The Army’s demonstration project was to be built in the Mehsud area around Wana. 

All, or most, of the TTP terrorists were either flushed into Afghanistan or killed.  The result has totally eliminated Afghanistan’s meager abilities to defend itself, since the TTP Taliban served to reinforce the Afghan Taliban and to provide mercenaries to be hired by ISIS.]

Tribal Areas Rural To Urban Centers Conversion Initiative (TARUCCI)

FATA Long-Term Governance Action Plan 2015-2025

FATA Return and Rehabilitation Strategy (2015)

(SEE:  Obama’s Practical Joke On Gen. Kayani–”Quick Impact Projects” Don’t Repopulate Ghost Towns
Analysis: Pakistan army tries to win over population in war-torn tribal region
The Pak Army’s Alternate Reality Awaits Returning Tribes In S. Waziristan
The Effort To Disarm and Develop South Waziristan
Pak Army Fights Terrorism With Fish-Farming and Vocational Training–The Lunacy of “Rehabilitating Terrorists”)


Pakistan’s misguided obsession with infrastructure

the economist

The government is building more airports, roads and railways, even though the existing ones are underused

Jam tomorrow?

NEARLY 20 years after it opened, Pakistan’s first motorway still has a desolate feel. There is scant traffic along the 375km link between Islamabad and Lahore (pictured). Motorists can drive for miles without seeing another vehicle, save perhaps for traffic cops manning speed traps. As the two cities are already connected by the Grand Trunk Road, which is 90km shorter and toll-free, there is simply not much demand for a motorway.

Yet this $1.2bn white elephant is one of the proudest achievements of Nawaz Sharif, who was prime minister when it opened in 1997 and is once again running Pakistan. Mr Sharif, who enjoys comparisons to Sher Shah Suri, a 16th-century ruler who renovated the Grand Trunk Road, never tires of talking about it. He regained power in 2013 with a campaign which both harked back to his famous road and promised more infrastructure to come. He even pledged bullet trains that would enable pious passengers to leave Karachi after dawn prayers and arrive in Peshawar, more than 1,000km to the north, in time for evening worship.

It is an article of faith for Mr Sharif and his party, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), that investment in infrastructure is a foolproof way of boosting the economy. His government is racing to finish umpteen projects before the next election, due by mid-2018, including a metro line in Lahore and a new airport for Islamabad. The likelihood is that the new airport (which has been plagued with problems, including runways that have been built too close together) will be as underused as most of the country’s other airports, many of which are modern and spacious.

Pakistan’s infrastructure is underused because the economic boom it was meant to trigger has never arrived. Over the past three years the government has successfully staved off a balance-of-payments crisis, achieving some measure of macroeconomic stability. It has trimmed the budget deficit, partly by broadening the tax take and partly by cutting energy subsidies. That, along with lower oil prices, has narrowed Pakistan’s trade deficit and allowed it to begin rebuilding its foreign-exchange reserves. The stockmarket has risen by 50% since the end of 2015.

But terrorism and insurgency have put off investors, both foreign and domestic. The country is also held back by inefficient and often cartelised industries, which have fallen behind rivals in India and Bangladesh. Exports, 60% of which are textiles, have been shrinking for years. Much more needs to be done to create an educated workforce. Almost half of all those aged five to 16 are out of school—25m children. Health, like education, is woefully underfunded, in part because successive governments shy away from taxing the wealthy. Only 0.6% of the population pays income tax. As the World Bank puts it, Pakistan’s long-term development depends on “better nutrition, health and education”.

Cement to be

But Mr Sharif’s government is pinning its hopes on yet more infrastructure to fix the country’s economic problems, in the form of a $46bn investment scheme known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Much of it is being financed on commercial terms, including several power plants. Pakistan undoubtedly needs to relieve a chronic shortage of electricity. But critics fear the country will struggle to pay back the debt, especially if foreign-exchange earnings from exports continue to dwindle. At the very least, the government will need to continue chasing deadbeat customers to pay their bills and cutting expensive subsidies—steps that are deeply unpopular.

In addition to boosting Pakistan’s power supply, CPEC is supposed to link China by land to Gwadar, a deep-water port on the Arabian Sea, in the hope of creating a lucrative new trade route. New or upgraded roads will stretch the length of the country. The Karakoram Highway between the two countries, which was built in the 1960s at vast expense over a high and crumbly mountain range, is being upgraded as part of the trade corridor. But it forever needs patching up and is little used. Sceptics say Xinjiang, China’s westernmost region, is still too poor for better transport links to make much difference to Pakistan’s economy. Securing isolated stretches of road from separatist rebels in Balochistan is also gobbling up large amounts of cash.

Lijian Zhao, a Chinese diplomat, says China is all too aware that Pakistan needs more than just big-ticket infrastructure if it is to flourish. Disarmingly, he praises the efforts of Britain and other countries to improve Pakistan’s “software”, such as education and the rule of law. “But China’s expertise is hardware,” says Mr Zhao.

It may not concern Mr Sharif unduly if the next generation of roads is as deserted as the last. Civilian governments have often struggled to get much done in between military coups, but voters are impressed by gleaming new projects, even if they never use them. It’s an approach that has worked for Mr Sharif’s brother, Shehbaz, the popular chief minister of Punjab province. He has lavished resources on endless sequences of over- and underpasses to create “signal-free” traffic corridors in Lahore, the provincial capital, that are of most benefit to the rich minority who can afford cars.

There are limits, however. Khawaja Saad Rafique, the railways minister, recently admitted to parliament that the country would not be getting a bullet train after all. “When we asked the Chinese about it, they laughed at us,” he said.

Russian Aero Forces Conduct Joint Bombing Runs w/Turkey In North and w/Syria In South

“Russian-Syrian offensive in the region of Palmyra” The chief of staff Rudskoi:

“The Caliphate has moved a large quantity of explosives to destroy the artistic heritage of the city”

in-terris

 

palmira

The troops of the Syrian government, with the support of the Russian air force, launched an offensive in the Palmyra area against militants Isis. He dettp Russian General Sergei Rudskoi. “We have received information, confirmed by several sources, about moving a large amount of explosives in the Palmyra area carried out by terrorists Isis in order to destroy the old-world heritage,” said the official, adding that “currently in Palmyra area government forces, with the support of the Russian Space forces, perform offensive actions against militants Isis “.

The same Rudskoi reported that the air forces of Moscow and Turkish ones are carrying out a first joint air operation against Daesh in the suburbs of the town of El Bab, in the Syrian province of Aleppo. Raids “by nine assault aircraft of the Russian Space Forces, in particular four Sukhoi Su-24M, four Sukhoi Su-25 and Sukhoi Su-34 bomber, as well as eight aircraft of the Turkish forces, four and four F16 F4. They are hit 36 goals “. The general explained that all objectives had been previously agreed by the two States and more groups of air commands of the two countries and that “over the last few days is an additional recognition” of these objectives “is performed using the drones and the Media space observing “.

But the Caliphate does not give up and continues to press around Deir ez-Zor. “The garrison of the city – said Rudskoi – is continuing to resist the terrorists Isis with the support of the Russian Space Forces.” According to the general, “if the city is captured, a true genocide awaits the people” and “the people of Deir ez-Zor could be completely decimated.”

Rudskoi has also warned that the maneuvers in Iraq of the US-led coalition are pushing towards the eastern part of Syria jihadists that they are now located in the Iraqi city of Mosul. “The actions of coalition units led by the United States near the Iraqi city of Mosul – said – you are mostly limited to push in eastern Syria Isis considerable forces that almost unimpeded move weapons, explosives and men in the direction of Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor and the town of El Bab, near the border with Turkey. “

 

A Deep State Storm the Day After Tomorrow?

By Stephen Lendman

After the most unprecedented denigration of a presidential candidate in US history, the worst may be yet to come, beginning Friday with Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president.

Pro-Hillary dark forces call him illegitimate. Media scoundrels beat on him relentlessly. Whatever he does or says or doesn’t do or doesn’t say is criticized.

Nothing in memory resembles what’s gone on since mid-2015. The problem isn’t Trump. It’s America’s debauched system – fantasy democracy, not the real thing.

Leaders like Obama govern by the script handed them, doing the bidding of powerful dark forces running the country. Trump’s anti-establishment sounding rhetoric scares them, especially talk of getting along with Vladimir Putin – anathema in neocon infested Washington.

Days before his inauguration, a disgraceful Huffington Post article contemptuously headlined “Hillary Clinton is the Legitimate President,” saying:

“The evidence is clear. Hillary Clinton is the rightful president-elect, and courts must use the broad discretionary powers with which they are vested to enjoin an illegitimate president from taking office.”

Shocking stuff, here in America, not in some faraway tinpot dictatorship. The evidence is very clear. Trump won convincingly. Hillary lost whining, whimpering, simpering and groaning, believing it was her turn as a woman to claim the nation’s highest office.

Her defeat let humanity dodge a possible nuclear bullet. Huffpo saying US courts should intervene on her behalf is seditious or treasonous – despicably promoting coup d’etat action to prevent an elected US president from taking office.

Huffpo: “Every major intelligence agency in the country has reached the same conclusion: Russian hackers engaged in cyber attacks with the express purpose of helping Donald Trump win the election.”

“They operated at the directive of Russian President Vladimir Putin, apparently motivated by his hatred for Clinton.”

Fact: This is what passes for mainstream news and information – utter rubbish, knowing, or should know, not a shred of evidence suggests Russian US election hacking.

The whole dirty story was fabricated – a disgraceful scheme to delegitimize Trump and prevent normalizing ties with Russia.

Promoting the notion of Hillary as America’s legitimate president is scandalous, stuff commonplace in banana republics or despotic monarchies.

It’ll likely continue after Trump enters office – instead of focusing solely on how he governs, judging him by what he does or doesn’t do for good or ill.

A rough ride awaits him. Fidel Castro’s advice to Hugo Chavez before his death applies to Trump, saying “(t)ake care what you eat, what they give you to eat. They inject you with I don’t know what.”

Watch your back is also sound advice, including carefully vetting security personnel assigned for protection.

Threatening dark forces make survival Trump’s top priority.

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: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

The Psyop To Neutralize “the Rebel”

The psyop to neuter The Rebel–(Notes on the evolution of caricatures)

The psyop to neuter The Rebel

jon-rappaport

 

If you want to track a civilization as it collapses, watch what happens to the concept of the rebel.From the 1960s onward—starting with Lee Oswald and the assassination of JFK—the whole idea of “the rebel” with power has been sequentially updated and repackaged. This is intentional.

The objective is to equate “rebel” with a whole host of qualities—e.g., runaway self-serving paranoia; random destruction; out-of-control drug use; generalized hatred; the commission of crimes…

On a lesser, “commercialized” level, the new rebel can define himself by merely showing up at a concert to scream and drink heavily and break something, having already dressed to make a dissident fashion statement. He can take an afternoon off from college classes and have his arms tattooed. All the while, of course, he functions as an avid consumer of mainstream corporate products.

You even have people who, considering themselves rebels of the first order, support a government that spies on its people 24/7, launches military attacks all over the world, and now funds a Manhattan Project to map every move of the 100 billion neurons of the brain, for the ultimate purpose of controlling it.

Even going back as far as the 1950s, the so-called decade of conformity, psyops professionals sculpted notions of The Rebel: He was the person who didn’t want to take part in the emerging bland corporate culture.

He was imagined and presented as troubled, morose; a wobbly unfocused JD Salinger Holden Caulfield, or a beatnik, a Madison Avenue caricature of somebody who opposed Madison Avenue.

In other words, the people who were shaping the consumer culture were creating the image of the rebel as a cartoon figure who just didn’t want to buy into “the good life.”

Time Magazine ran a cover story on the beatniks, and characterized them as a disaffected trend. Marlon Brando, heading up a bunch of moronic motorcycle riders, invaded a town of pleasant clueless citizens and took it over, wreaking destruction. The 1953 movie was The Wild One. James Dean, who had the same trouble Brando did in articulating a complete sentence, was “the rebel without a cause” in the “iconic film” of the same name. He raced cars toward cliffs because his father couldn’t understand him.

These were all puff pieces designed to make rebels look ridiculous, and they worked. They also functioned to transmit the idea to young people that being a rebel should be a showbiz affectation. That worked, too.

Then the late 1960s arrived. Flower children, in part invented by the major media, would surely take over the world and dethrone fascist authority with rainbows. San Francisco was the epicenter. But Haight-Ashbury, where the flowers and the weed were magically growing out of the sidewalks, turned into a speed, acid, and heroin nightmare, a playground for psychopaths to cash in and steal and destroy lives. The CIA, of course, gave the LSD culture a major push.

For all that the anti-war movement eventually accomplished in ending the Vietnam war-crime, in the aftermath many of those college students who had been in the streets—once the fear of being drafted was gone—scurried into counselors’ offices to see where they might fit into the job market after graduation. The military industrial complex took its profits and moved on, undeterred.

The idea of the rebel was gone. It later resurfaced as The Cocaine Dealer, the archangel of the 1980s.

And so forth and so on. All these incarnations of The Rebel were artificially created and sustained as psyops. At bottom, the idea was to discredit the Individual, in favor of The Group.

Now, in our collectivist society of 2016, The Group, as a rapidly expanding victim class, is the government’s number one project. It’s a straight con. “We’re here to make you worse off while we lift you up.”

In the psyop to demean, distort, and squash the rebel, there is a single obvious common denominator: the establishment media are doing the defining; they are the ones who are setting the parameters and making the descriptions; they are the ones who build the cartoons; looking down their noses, pretending to a degree of sympathy, they paint one unflattering picture after another of what the rebel is and does and says; they have co-opted the whole game.

These days, the ultimate rebels, the media would have you believe, are “gun-toting racist bitter clingers who have religion.” Another attempt to shape a distorted unflattering portrait

You can take a whole host of political films and television series of the past 50 years, and look at them for signs of the Rebel: Seven Days in May, Advise and Consent, The Candidate, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, Dave, Primary Colors, The Contender, Good Night and Good Luck, The American President, West Wing, Scandal, The Newsroom…

Good acting, bad acting, drama, message—at the end you’re looking for the core. What do the rebel heroes really stand for? What are their principles? It’s all bland. It’s vague. It has the posturing of importance, but little else.

As I was finishing this piece, a friend wrote with a quote attributed to Robert Anton Wilson: “The universe is a war between reality programmers.”

This is exactly where the real rebel enters the scene. He’s not trying to program people. Freedom means cutting loose from programming.

The Rebel doesn’t go to the market and choose which reality program he wants. They’re all used up as soon as they come out of the package.

Albert Camus once wrote: “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience. It would be easy, however, to destroy that good conscience by shouting to them: if you want the happiness of the people, let them speak out and tell what kind of happiness they want and what kind they don’t want! But, in truth, the very ones who make use of such alibis know they are lies; they leave to their intellectuals on duty the chore of believing in them and of proving that religion, patriotism, and justice need for their survival the sacrifice of freedom.”

“THIS or THAT” is the history of Earth: choose reality program A or B. The choice was always a con.


Exit From the Matrix

(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Exit From The Matrix, click here.)


We’re well into a time period when the experts and scientific authorities are settling on the human being as a biological machine that can only respond to programming. That’s their view and their default position.

It’s sheer madness, of course, but what else do you expect? We’re in an intense technological age, and people are obsessed with making things run smoother. They treat their precious little algorithms for control like the Crown Jewels. They’re terribly enthusiastic about the problem they’re solving, and that problem is us.

We’re the wild cards, a fact which they take to be result of our improper and incomplete conditioning. They aim to fix that.

“Why not stop diddling around and just make the whole thing over? Why not reshape humans?”

Having decided that, the battle begins between competing programmers of the mind. Which program for humans is better?

The rebel is against all such programming, no matter how “good and right” it sounds. “Good” and “right” are the traps.

“Well, certainly we could make a list of qualities we want all people to have. You know, the best qualities, like bravery and determination. Who could be against that? So suppose we could actually program such qualities into humans? Wouldn’t that be a fine thing? Then people would just BE that way…”

The ultimate rebellion is against programming, whatever it looks like, wherever it occurs.

Programming is someone else’s idea of who and what you should be.

It is never your idea.

Your idea is where the power is.

Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX,

Hekmatyar/Taliban Open War May Be About To Resume In Afghanistan

[Hekmatyar’s Peace Envoy Targeted By Taliban Suicide Bomber, Apr 7, 2012 ; US/Pakistani “Peace” Scam In Afghanistan Negotiates With Terrorist Hekmatyar To Preserve Plot ; ENTER THE HEKMATYAR—Afghanistan Signs “Peace Agreement” with Notorious Warlord ]

house-of-parliament-member-mir-wali

Afghan men inspect the remains of their belongings at the house of parliament member Mir Wali in the aftermath of gunmen’s attack last night in western Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo: AP)–[Anti-Taliban Afghan Parliamentarian’s Home Scene of Taliban Suicide-Attack ; Afghanistan Offer of Taliban Sanctuary Which Precipitated Series of Large Bomb Blasts]

Taliban, Hezb-i-Islami moving towards confrontation
Story Highlights
  • Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami confront each other
  • Afghan Hezb-e-Islami has now struck a peace deal with its government
    Attack in Kabul at parliamentarian’s house was due to the feud 

PESHAWAR: The Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami (Hekmatyar) are gradually confronting each other following the latter’s peace deal with the Afghan government in September last year.

The Hezb-i-Islami, led by former mujahideen leader Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, is now an ally of the unity government of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah and, therefore, an enemy of the Taliban.

Though Hekmatyar hasn’t yet gone to Kabul and is still in hiding waiting for removal of his name from the UN ‘blacklist’ his party is now bound in an agreement with the government under which it would support the existing political dispensation, Constitution and most of its policies.

Taliban are angry over the peace agreement,  but they don’t want to give it much importance due to Hekmatyar’s insignificant military power and the splintering of his party into at least three factions.  The recent suicide attack in Kabul on the house of Muallim Mir Wali, an MP from Helmand province who was previously part of Hezb-i-Islami during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupation forces, contributed to the growing feud between the Taliban and Hekmatyar’s supporters.

Though Taliban claimed they attacked important participants of a security meeting held in Muallim Mir Wali’s home to discuss the situation in Helmand, the death of women and children in the incident fuelled anger against the Taliban.

It also prompted Hezb-i-Islami’s military commanders and MPs to issue a joint statement, condemning the attack and criticizing the Taliban for targetting a house with women, children and other civilians. They said it showed Taliban’s enmity with Hezb-i-Islami.

Recently, there have been two other attacks on Hezb-i-Islami figures. There were no claims of responsibility though some may see Taliban hands in these two killings.

In one incident in the Baghlan province in Khwajagan village, unidentified gunmen shot dead Qand Agha, a former Hezb-i-Islami commander who didn’t occupy any position in the government.  Another Hezb-i-Islami commander was recently gunned down in Kapisa province.

Meanwhile, Taliban continue to strictly implement the judgements of their courts in Afghanistan. In Farah province, two men were hanged publicly in the Khak-e-Sufaid district for kidnapping and killing a minor.

A Taliban spokesman said the case was heard in a Shariah court for a month and the charges were proved against them.   In another case in the Ghazni province, a six-member gang accused of committing theft was caught by the Taliban red-handed, tried in court and sentenced to punishment of 39 lashes each. The punishment was publicly awarded in the Qarabagh district in Ghazni.

Also recently, a Taliban court sentenced a girl and a boy to death by stoning on charges of committing adultery in the northern Sari-e-Pul province. Eyewitnesses said the punishment would be awarded publicly as the Taliban had invited the people to come to Pashani village in Kohistanat district to watch the stoning of the boy and girl. The punishment hasn’t been awarded yet.  The government showed its helplessness by arguing that this area wasn’t in its control for the last several years. However, some government officials said efforts were being made to stop the Taliban from carrying out the punishment.

Taliban have been carrying out such tough punishments in areas controlled by them and people have been sentenced to death, imprisoned, amputated and lashed.

Those punished include persons accused of murder, causing injuries, theft, adultery, drinking liquor and spying for the Afghan government or the US-led foreign forces.

—Originally published in The News

Afghanistan Offer of Taliban Sanctuary Which Precipitated Series of Large Bomb Blasts

[Are Kabul Blasts War Within Afghan Govt, Or Taliban Reply To Abdul Raziq’s Invitation?]

How Afghanistan is trying to outflank Pakistan over Taliban

times of india

 

 

AFP

A file picture of Taliban insurgents.

A file picture of Taliban insurgents.

KABUL: Afghan officials are pushing to create a “safe zone” for Taliban insurgents in a bid to wean them away from traditional sanctuaries inside Pakistan, in a radical and contentious strategy to de-escalate the conflict.

The plan underscores desperation in Afghanistan for out-of-the-box solutions to tackle the 15-year insurgency, as peace bids repeatedly fail and US-backed forces suffer record casualties in stalemated fighting.

If implemented, the strategy — aimed at undercutting Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban — could, for better or for worse, be a game changer in a strife-torn nation where ceding territory to insurgents is seen as tantamount to partition.

“I urge the Taliban to return to Afghanistan. We should make a safe zone for them and their families,” Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq told a gathering of religious scholars and tribal elders last month.

“We can no longer rely on foreign governments and embassies to end the war. The Taliban belong to this country, they are sons of this soil.”

That Raziq, arguably the most powerful commander in southern Afghanistan and long one of the staunchest anti-Taliban figures, would suggest such an idea amplified the shockwaves it created.

“The government shouldn’t be giving safe zones to terrorists,” warned former Helmand governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, while some observers dismissed the strategy as “illogical” as the Taliban already control vast swathes of Afghan territory.

Raziq did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but a senior security official told AFP the government’s goal “is to bring the Taliban from Pakistan to Afghanistan”.

“We will separate a territory for them to come with their families. Then whether they want to fight or talk peace, they will be relieved from the pressure of Pakistan,” he said, speaking anonymously.

Pakistan began supporting the Taliban movement of the 1990s as part of its policy of “strategic depth” against nemesis India.

Seen by many Afghans as the biggest obstacle to lasting peace, Islamabad has long been accused of playing a “double game” in Afghanistan: endorsing Washington’s war on terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, while nurturing militant sanctuaries.

After years of official denial, a top Pakistani official in 2016 admitted for the first time the Taliban enjoys safe haven inside his country, which Islamabad uses as a “lever” to pressure the group into talks with Kabul.

However, Pakistan has hosted multiple rounds of talks ostensibly to jumpstart a peace process — without result.

The “safe zone” strategy appears to have taken shape as prominent Taliban figures call to make the insurgency independent of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, which they accuse of manipulating the group.

“The presence of our movement’s key decision makers and institutions inside Pakistan means they can impose things that are against the interests of our movement and Afghanistan,” Sayed Tayyeb Agha wrote in a letter last year to Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.

“To be able to make independent decisions, our leadership… should leave Pakistan,” the former head of the Taliban’s political commission added in the letter seen by AFP.

Afghanistan’s National Security Council did not officially confirm the government strategy, saying only: “The Taliban are allowed to relocate to Afghanistan under state protection.”

The Afghan security official said the government was in contact with Taliban leaders over the proposal, a fact corroborated by militant sources in Pakistan.

He refused to specify the potential location for the safe zone, and whether it will be immune from aerial bombardment or ground assault, but insisted no areas with military installations will be handed over.

Speculation that the government was furtively trying to cede territory recently grew when local media cited secret military documents revealing Afghan forces were planning to retreat from two Helmand districts during a winter lull in fighting.

Afghan officials dismissed the report, while also rejecting longstanding claims that the Taliban leadership council — Quetta Shura — has relocated to Afghanistan.

But multiple insurgent sources told AFP that prominent members, including the Taliban’s military chief Ibrahim Sadr, recently moved to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

“Ibrahim also urged Haibatullah to come to Afghanistan but he refused,” a top Quetta Shura member told AFP.

Obaidullah Barakzai, an MP from Uruzgan province, argued that giving the Taliban a permanent address in Afghanistan would make it easier to convince them to participate in an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace dialogue without interference from our neighbour”.

However Timor Sharan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the strategy was flawed.

“It’s like asking the Taliban to leave their brick-built houses and settle in a tent in the desert with half-hearted guarantees that they will not be bombed,” Sharan told AFP.

“The Taliban need to receive a strong assurance from coalition forces, in particular the US, before making the move.”

But the Afghan security official insisted there was no military solution to the conflict.

“If this plan does not work, Afghanistan will be ready for another tough year of fighting,” he said.

Authorities Find Multiple Rifles and Handguns Hidden Among Debris In Northwest D.C.

canal

 

Several guns and ammunition were found along the C&O canal near Fletcher’s Boathouse in Northwest D.C. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Large Cache of Weapons Found in D.C. just Before Trump Inauguration

Weapons found by walker along the Potomac River

In a little noticed news article, the Associated Press reported days ago that a large cache of weapons, including guns and ammunition, were found along the Potomac River.

The short report claims that a walker came across two guns hidden in a violin case before calling the police who eventually found “several” other weapons.

“U.S. Park Police said a woman walking in the woods near the C&O Canal, which runs along the river, found the case. When law enforcement officers arrived, they found more guns and ammunition — some in pails, others in plastic garbage bags.”

d-c-guns

Guns hidden in violin case

A police spokeswoman told the AP that they had no idea how the weapons got there or why they were put there in the first place. According to the report, both long guns and pistols were found.

Interestingly, a witness also noted that no one regularly hikes in the area that the weapons were found, pointing to the possibility that they could have been originally hidden there to be picked up weeks later.

Obviously this is shocking considering the Trump inauguration is only four days away and an unprecedented series of riots are planned in an attempt to stop the president-elect from ever taking office.

Intellihub’s Alex Thomas reported late last week that organizers of one of the main protests have openly admitted that they do not believe in a peaceful transfer of power and are therefore planning criminal acts to stop Trump.

Legba Carrefour, an organizer for DisruptJ20, told Reuters Wednesday that her group planned predawn blockades and disruptions during the evening inaugural balls on top of the protests during the actual inauguration.

It was then made clear that this is not about peacefully protesting but rather part of a larger attempt to literally steal the election.

“Some 300 DisruptJ20 volunteers will work to mobilize demonstrators for a series of protests the group has dubbed the “Festival of Resistance,” reported Reuters.

“We are not in favor of a peaceful transition of power, and we need to stop it,” Carrefour continued.

On top of that, Trump is also dealing with a massive disinformation campaign aimed at him by elements of the intelligence community who have leaked numerous details to the eager corporate media while also threatening Trump through the same mockingbird media outlets.

It has gotten so bad that one former intelligence officer even publicly admitted that the CIA is attempting to take down Donald Trump.

“John Schindler not only confirmed that the CIA is leading a massive, possibly illegal, operation against the president-elect, he also revealed that a noted Washington Post columnist is getting the information he reports from the intelligence community and thus at least indirectly supporting the coup attempt against Trump.

“The intelligence community spies on Flynn’s calls, then anonymously reports what they claim to have been in them through a Washington Post columnist.”

Additionally, celebrities such as Rosie O’Donnell have openly called for the end of the Constitution in America by publicly supporting martial law as a means to stop Trump from becoming president. According to O’Donnell, the one way to stop Trump is to effectively end the Constitution and set up a military dictatorship, all because of documented disinformation spread by the corporate media about supposed Russian ties to the president-elect.

While its obviously possible that the weapons cache had absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming inauguration, the fact that it was found so close to January 20th, coupled with the above documented attacks on Trump from all angles, is alarming.

Our Benevolent Shadow Government

Our Benevolent Shadow Government

the-concourse

 

Photos: AP

This week, Mark Zuckerberg’s $45 billion philanthropic foundation announced it is bringing on David Plouffe and Ken Mehlman, two of America’s most prominent political operatives. It is worth reflecting on the vast, vast power being wielded by the unaccountable foundations of the rich. Let’s do it!

Because private philanthropic foundations generally do philanthropy, they are often regarded as straightforwardly good, or at least benign. Why should be be upset that billions of dollars going to some kind of charities? Well. The short answer is that private foundations represent private power, as opposed to public power. Even though you may feel that a particular private foundation is doing something that you view as good at a particular point in time, the fact is that they represent a structure for the exercise of private power—and the stronger and wealthier they are, the more power over public affairs is concentrated in the hands of a tiny number of extremely wealthy people.

American society has always been a mix of public and private power. The pendulum swings. But if you believe in the basic ideas of democracy—power by the people, for the people—then you should generally want the important issues we face to be decided in the public realm. That means that, in some form, we all get a say in them. A world in which the U.S. government feels fine outsourcing large parts of the social safety net to private foundations is a disaster waiting to happen, because it means that the safety net is then operated at the whim of a few people with no accountability to everyone it serves. You don’t have to believe “charity is bad.” You just have to believe that little things like, I don’t know, public health should be the responsibility of public institutions, not of some guy who had a good website idea when he was 19.

How powerful are private foundations in America? Very powerful. The 50 largest foundations in this country each have assets of more than $1.8 billion. Just two organizations—The Gates Foundation (which is also getting an enormous infusion of money from Warren Buffett) and the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative—have combined assets of about $90 billion. That is more than the annual budget of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And the entire charity world is reflective of the same growing economic inequality that plagues our nation as a whole. In the past decade, “charitable giving deductions from lower income donors have declined significantly, at almost the same rate that contributions from higher income donors have increased.”

Since Congress is one of our most unpopular institutions, it can be hard to get people excited over this, a structural issue that aims to bring capital and its uses under more democratic control. But the solution to “those clowns in Congress” is not “turn over the whole damn system to a bunch of tech billionaires and heirs of old-timey industrialists and hope that their good nature prevails.” The solution is to fix the undemocratic parts of our system. (Kill gerrymandering! Campaign finance reform! And the other usual suspects!) Instead of begging billionaires to give their money to good causes—rather than to, say, plastering their names on various cultural institutions—it makes much more sense to tax these outrageous fortunes into the public till, then empower our elected government to spend it where it’s actually needed. Private foundations with huge resources can do a lot of good things. They are also, by their very nature, tools of the ultra-rich, exercised by the ultra-rich to fulfill the wishes of the ultra-rich. And as Mark Zuckerberg’s stable of political operatives shows, these private entities are quite comfortable influencing public policy. Not the other way around.

Praying that the ultra-rich remain generous and benevolent is not what equality and democracy are about. Rich people with more wealth than they can spend have always been willing to give away money. That’s nice. Unfortunately, if we want a healthy system we’re going to need them to give up something much more dear: power.

Russia Has Bought-In To the Libyan War, Siding w/Gen. Khalifa Haftar

Maltese FM warns of uncontrollable migrants influx to EU after Russian-Haftar deal

libya-observer

 

The Foreign Minister of Malta, George Vella, has warned that the newly surfaced relationship between whom he described as the Libyan warlord, Khalifa Haftar, and the Russians will be very dangerous to the EU as it would cause massive migrants influx into European countries.

Vella told the Maltese press on Friday that the advances of Haftar-led forces toward Tripoli and the western region could see Libya plunged into a fatal civil war, which he said would be disastrous, “because it would create civil war and it would create more refugees running away from Libya,” he indicated.

“I’m not comfortable. We all know the Russians’ dreams have always been to have military bases in the Mediterranean.” The Maltese FM was cited as saying.

Khalifa Haftar visited Wednesday the Russian aircraft carrier, , which was positioned off the Libyan coast, according to the Information and Communication Administration of the Russian Defense Ministry.

It added that Haftar had engaged in a closed video conference with the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, on Wednesday, when they discussed fighting international terrorist groups in the Middle East.

11-2013-4-airtractor-turret-bomb

 

Haftar has contracted US Blackwater military company to help in war on Benghazi

https://www.libyaobserver.ly/sites/default/files/16115004_1402465816464204_2505716356551429153_n.jpg

In defiance to western powers, Russia courts eastern military man with arms deal

Russia has stepped up its military presence in the Mediterranean by showing off its military support for the eastern forces of the rogue General, Khalifa Haftar, thus kicking the door open and entering Libya’s conflict by arms deals signed with Haftar in a crystal clear challenge to the western powers, according to a report by the UK’s The Times.

According to the report, Haftar discussed the arms deal with high profile Russian officials onboard the Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, including the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu.

“In the past seven months, he has also met the Russian foreign and defence ministers to seek support and weapons.” The Times reported on Monday.

It also indicated that one of Haftar’s aides, Akram Abu Haliga, disclosed that Haftar told the Russian officials that his forces in the east are in need for more assistance from Moscow.

“Russia sees Libya as a strategic country that it could use to secure its grip on the Mediterranean, after having a base in Syria.” Abu Haliga was cited by the Times as saying.

“Libya’s security is  an essential matter to Moscow.” He added.

The chief researcher at Dialogue of Civilizations Institute, a think-tank with close ties to the Russian leadership, Alexei Malashenko, was reported by Reuters on Tuesday as saying that Russia sees Libya as a way to anchor its return to the Middle East.

“One single Syria is not enough. That is why we need one more state for the Russian presence not only in Syria but also generally in the Middle East. Libya is a convenient territory for it. It is complete chaos and you can always say that Russia helps to fight terrorism.” Reuters quoted Alexei Malashenko as saying.

Obama’s Red-Headed UN Screamer Slams Putin For Undermining “New World Order”

samantha-powerObama UN rep rips Russia, rejects attack on intel agencies

cnn

 

Washington (CNN)US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power on Tuesday rapped President-elect Donald Trump for his defense of Moscow and delivered a stark warning about Russian efforts to undermine the international order.

Power’s remarks, at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, are just the latest warning by outgoing Obama administration officials of the need to be wary of Russian intentions as Trump repeatedly asserts his desire for better ties with Moscow, sometimes criticizing US intelligence services in the process.
Power made indirect reference to Trump, who denigrated US intelligence agencies after their conclusion that Russia had hacked the US election in an attempt to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“What is not healthy is for a party or its leaders to cast doubt on a unanimous, well-documented assessment of our intelligence community that a foreign government is seeking to harm our country,” Power said.
Citing Russia’s invasion of Crimea, it’s interventions in Syria and Ukraine as well as what she called its meddling in European democracies, Power warned that a balance had to be struck between cooperating with Russia where possible, while confronting the threat it poses in a clear-eyed fashion.
“Russia’s actions are not standing up a new world order,” Power said, “they are tearing down the one that exists. This is what we are fighting against — having defeated the forces of fascism and communism, we now confront the forces of authoritarianism and nihilism.”
Trump suggested that intelligence services may have leaked information compiled by opposition researchers — and circulating widely in Washington — that found Russia might have compromising personal and financial information about Trump that could be used to influence him.
Power’s remarks come after John Brennan, the Director of National Intelligence, delivered a thinly veiled warning to the President-elect on FOX News on Jan. 15.
“I don’t think he has a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia’s intentions, and actions they are undertaking in many parts of the world,” Brennan said. “I think he has to be mindful that he does not yet, I think, have a full appreciation and understanding of what the implications are of going down that road, as well as making sure he understands what he’s doing.”
Trump, who likened the intelligence community to Nazi Germany, has said often that he seeks a better relationship with Russia and praised President Vladimir Putin. Putin, speaking in Moscow on Tuesday, said that there was clearly an ongoing effort “to undermine the legitimacy of the elected president.”

Stop Obama’s Parting Act of Taking-Away Soc. Sec. and Disability Recipients’ Gun Rights

Gun-rights groups hope Trump nixes Social Security role in background checks

foxnews

 

 

Istanbul Nightclub Massacre Mastermind Arrested w/Money, Guns and Drones

 

“…two drones were also seized during the operation.”

Shocking detail about the Reina attacker!
http://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/e229cb211b8c3b15ad08172c48f9a706?width=650It was stated that Abdulkadir Masharipov, who code ‘Abu Muhammed Horasani’ who organized Reina’s attack and killed 39 people, entered Turkey through Iran and received education in Afghanistan.

Turkey has begun to reveal details about the Reina massacre Abdulkadir Masharipov, who struggled for the New Year’s Eve. Masharipov, who was seized with the operation in Esenyurt, was taken to the Istanbul Police after the health control in Haseki Training and Research Hospital.

HAS BEEN BUILDED FOR DEAS

In this first question, it was stated that the terrorist accepted the attack on behalf of the terrorist organization DEAS. While Masparipov entered Turkey through Iran and received training in Afghanistan, it was noted that the terrorist knew four languages.

Which CIA Are We Talking About, the National Spy Agency, Or the International Clearinghouse for Islamic Terrorism?

which-cia

Trump’s Intelligence Showdown Over Russia

Peter Chamberlin

Which CIA are we talking about, the one assigned to protecting American security through the acquisition of vital strategic information, or the one assigned to creating wars throughout the world, in order to create work for the Pentagon?

The introduction of the “Fake News” meme within both the “legitimate press” and the “alternative” Internet media was a strategic move, intended to disrupt the Internet press and to enforce the ownership of “the news” by the authoritarian “Mainstream News.”  It did not expose the abject failure of the old established news sources to maintain the principle of integrity in reporting, but it did highlight the fact that the majority of Internet alternative news sources have lacked integrity, been devoid of factual information and often perpetuated hoaxes as a form of satirical entertainment.  The frequent mixing of news and entertainment has given rise to thousands of bits of “Fake News,” which readers of the Internet must constantly wade through in order to intercept an accurate sampling of “real news,” that news which is based on facts and is sound in reason.  An old, leather-bound Black Book calls this process “discernment,” the learning of right from wrong, developing the natural capability to discern truth from lies.  In other words, we learn to recognize “bullshit” whenever we step in it, or have it thrown in our faces.

But these drawbacks to keeping track of reality in the age of cyber-streaming news, cannot be used by the lying Mainstream press as an obscuring shield to hide the inherently dangerous nature of the “Nightly News” that the legitimate press is drip-feeding into the minds of our unsuspecting friends and relatives.  If American and world popular opinion is to be led down a rabbit hole in a witch-hunt for Fake News, it cannot become the end of Truth itself.  The alternative press provides Americans access to foreign news, some of it untainted by American and Western news filters.  This is the single reason that the Establishment has determined to either destroy the alternative press, or to censor the Internet.  This is the objective of the Fake News witch-hunt.

Alternative news sources must continue to debunk and destroy Fake News whenever the Western media puts out a patently false report, with the intention of coercing their viewers into accepting whatever doctored news that the Govt wants NBC, CNN, etc. to put-out.  The alternative press has, so far, made great strides in “scooping” real news, revealing much truth which the powers that be would normally ignore, preferring that none of us see anything which would demand explanation.

Even though a large percentage of our media lies usually come from the NYT, or the Wash. Post stable of writers, the majority of all Western fake news reports seem to ooze out of the British press or its large international coterie of surrogate writers.  Most of the British Empire disappeared long ago, except for the British media empire, which is still strung throughout the world in London’s last vestiges of colonialism. Its longstanding reputation as the global standard for “news” automatically sanitizes whatever propaganda emerges from the BBC, Reuters, etc., convincing most of “the free world to accept it as “Gospel.”

(Donald Trump wants summit with Russia’s Putin in Reykjavik ; Russian embassy in UK denies info that Putin to meet Trump in Reykjavik)

(Donald Trump denies he will meet Putin on first foreign trip as President)

Over and over, the various Western news sources create false Trump/Putin love stories in order to pump-up the volume of the press (SEE: Brit Press Turns Real Trump Interview By NYT and De Bild Into Disinformation Piece ).  It is the primary mission of the alternative news fighters to teach the American/Western viewing public “discernment”, and to instill within them a hunger for truth which rejects all fake news.]

 

peter.chamberlin@hotmail.com

Brit Press Turns Real Trump Interview By NYT and De Bild Into Disinformation Piece

[Below the two links you will see the only words uttered by Trump in that interview referring to either Russia or Syria.  He said nothing about “condemning Russia” or anything at all about “shooting old ladies.”  According to the Brit report, all in attendance agreed that Trump could speak “OFF THE RECORD” on Syria, either the NYT Big Dogs flat-out lied about whatever Trump then said to them, or they lied to him, in order to obtain unsupportable confidential exchange w/Trump, to use against him later.]

trump-fist.jpg[Trump condemns Russian military campaign in Syria and says Putin’s nuclear arsenal should be reduced]

“I mean when you see them shooting old ladies walking out of town — they can’t even walk and they’re shooting ’em — it almost looks like they’re shooting ’em for sport — ah no, that’s . . . a terrible situation.”

[SEE: Donald Trump’s New York Times Interview: Full Transcript]

TRUMP: I don’t think we should be a nation builder. I think we’ve tried that. I happen to think that going into Iraq was perhaps … I mean you could say maybe we could have settled the civil war, O.K.? I think going into Iraq was one of the great mistakes in the history of our country. I think getting out of it — I think we got out of it wrong, then lots of bad things happened, including the formation of ISIS. We could have gotten out of it differently.

FRIEDMAN: NATO, Russia?

TRUMP: I think going in was a terrible, terrible mistake. Syria, we have to solve that problem because we are going to just keep fighting, fighting forever. I have a different view on Syria than everybody else. Well, not everybody else, but then a lot of people. I had to listen to [Senator] Lindsey Graham, who, give me a break. I had to listen to Lindsey Graham talk about, you know, attacking Syria and attacking, you know, and it’s like you’re now attacking Russia, you’re attacking Iran, you’re attacking. And what are we getting? We’re getting — and what are we getting? And I have some very definitive, I have some very strong ideas on Syria. I think what’s happened is a horrible, horrible thing. To look at the deaths, and I’m not just talking deaths on our side, which are horrible, but the deaths — I mean you look at these cities, Arthur, where they’re totally, they’re rubble, massive areas, and they say two people were injured. No, thousands of people have died. O.K. And I think it’s a shame. And ideally we can get — do something with Syria. I spoke to Putin, as you know, he called me, essentially …

UNKNOWN: How do you see that relationship?

TRUMP: Essentially everybody called me, all of the major leaders, and most of them I’ve spoken to.

FRIEDMAN: Will you have a reset with Russia?

TRUMP: I wouldn’t use that term after what happened, you know, previously. I think — I would love to be able to get along with Russia and I think they’d like to be able to get along with us. It’s in our mutual interest. And I don’t go in with any preconceived notion, but I will tell you, I would say — when they used to say, during the campaign, Donald Trump loves Putin, Putin loves Donald Trump, I said, huh, wouldn’t it be nice, I’d say this in front of thousands of people, wouldn’t it be nice to actually report what they said, wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia, wouldn’t it be nice if we went after ISIS together, which is, by the way, aside from being dangerous, it’s very expensive, and ISIS shouldn’t have been even allowed to form, and the people will stand up and give me a massive hand. You know they thought it was bad that I was getting along with Putin or that I believe strongly if we can get along with Russia that’s a positive thing. It is a great thing that we can get along with not only Russia but that we get along with other countries.

JOSEPH KAHN, managing editor: On Syria, would you mind, you said you have a very strong idea about what to do with the Syria conflict, can you describe that for us?

TRUMP: I can only say this: We have to end that craziness that’s going on in Syria. One of the things that was told to me — can I say this off the record, or is everything on the record?

SULZBERGER: No, if you want to …

TRUMP: I don’t want to violate, I don’t want to violate a …

SULZBERGER: If you want to go off the record, we have agreed you can go off the record. Ladies and gentlemen, we are off the record for this moment.

[Trump speaks off the record.]

Who’s More Anti-American, Russia Today or the US Director of National Intelligence?

Someone should take US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper aside for a talk. He desperately needs to be told that when you’re deep in a hole, the first step toward getting out is to stop digging.

Clapper’s been in such a hole since 2013, when he got caught lying to Congress about the National Security Agency’s surveillance of and data collection on Americans. Oops.

On January 6, he fired up a backhoe and dug himself six feet deeper when his office issue a report on alleged Russian hacking in relation to the 2016 US presidential election.

Like previous such reports, this one – “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” – offers no actual evidence of Russian state cyber warfare on America’s election systems or political parties. If any such evidence exists, it remains a state secret. Most of us have hopefully learned by now that when the US intelligence community says “trust us,” that’s the very last thing we should do.

In lieu of the missing evidence, the report offers definitions of foreign propaganda that should chill any any freedom-loving American to the bone.

The ODNI report takes on Russian state media – specifically, Russia Today, the Putin regime’s global television equivalent of US propaganda outlets like Radio Free Europe and Radio y Television Marti.

A few excerpts from the report’s criticisms of RT:

“RT ran numerous reports on alleged US election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities, contending that US election results cannot be trusted and do not reflect the popular will.”

Oddly, this seems to be precisely what American mainstream media have been telling us for the last two months … and blaming the Russians for!

“In an effort to highlight the alleged ‘lack of democracy’ in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham.’”

So Russia Today does what American media mostly refuse to do: It allows third party candidates to be part of the public discussion. And this is a bad thing exactly how?

“RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a ‘surveillance state’ and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use …”

Does anyone seriously doubt that characterization or those allegations?

Most Americans are presumably politically savvy enough to understand that media financed and/or operated by governments will support those governments’ agendas. Of course we should be skeptical of Russia Today … and of National Public Radio. But not as skeptical of either as we should be of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida. This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

Statement by India on the death of several UAE nationals and injury to UAE Ambassador in terrorist attack in Kandahar

india-ministry-of-external-affairs

 

 

Statement by India on the death of several UAE nationals and injury to UAE Ambassador in terrorist attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan on 10 January 2017

January 12, 2017

We are deeply saddened with the news of the death of several UAE nationals, among others, and the serious injuries suffered by the UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan resulting from a bomb blast that took place at a guesthouse in Kandahar on 10 January during a meeting between senior Afghan officials and UAE diplomats.

This dastardly terrorist attack is all the more condemnable as the UAE Ambassador was in Kandahar on a humanitarian mission to lay foundation stone for the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan centre for orphans.

We offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and wish speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.

These cowardly attacks once again bring in sharp focus the inhumane suffering inflicted on the peace loving people of the region by the abominable phenomenon of international terrorism, which sadly continues to have its epicentre in our region and is pursued brazenly as an instrument of state policy to achieve narrow political objectives.

We stand by the people and the government of UAE and Afghanistan in our common fight against this menace which threatens all societies across the globe.

India remains firmly committed to working closely and actively with the UAE and Afghanistan to eradicate the curse of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

New Delhi
January 12, 2017

Syria’s SANA Reports Israeli Airstrike On Damascus Airport In Support of Al Nusra Forces

Israeli enemy launched several rockets on the western perimeter of Mezze Damascus airport

In the framework of its support for terrorist organizations

Sana

 

Damascus , ( SANA )

In the framework of its support for terrorist organizations and raise the morale enemy Israeli aircraft attacked a site on the western side of Damascus.

A military source told SANA: “In a desperate attempt to support terrorist organizations oldest enemy Israeli aircraft at 00:25 after midnight on the launch of several missiles north of Lake Tiberias landed in the vicinity of Mezze airport which led to a fire in the place.”

The source added that “the general command of the army and the armed forces warn the Israeli enemy of the repercussions of this blatant assault and confirm the continuation of the war on terror even eliminate it and amputated arms behind it.”

Pak Ret. Army Chief Sharif Hasn’t Accepted Saudi Job As of Today

 

Former Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif (Retd) has not yet formally accepted the offer to lead the 39-member Islamic Military Alliance and negotiations are still underway on three important terms: inclusion of Iran along with other Muslim countries in the alliance, said a close aide of the former military chief.

Lieutenant General Amjad Shoaib (Retd), while talking to Business Recorder said that he himself spoke to General Raheel Sharif (Retd) who contradicted the claims made by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif that a decision has been taken that General Sharif would lead the alliance after an NoC [No-objection certificate] was given by the GHQ.

He further revealed that the Saudi government will send a formal proposal to the government of Pakistan, mostly likely by March this year, and it will be the prerogative of the government of Pakistan to give the go ahead to General Sharif(Retd) or not. “I personally spoke to General Raheel Sharif. He [General Sharif] has not yet accepted the offer but negotiations are still underway”, Shoaib said, adding the former army chief has placed three important terms to be met before he will consider the offer.

The terms, he added, include that Iran and other Muslim countries like Iraq and Syria be part of the membership; secondly, he [General Sharif] would be the Commander of the forces and not under the command of anybody; and thirdly, in case of any conflict between two Muslim countries, he will act as a mediator.

Lieutenant General Amjad Shoaib Retd) further maintained that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself had welcomed the offer which was earlier made to General Raheel Sharif by the Saudi government. Civilian and military analysts on condition of strict anonymity told Business Recorder that the alliance, formally known as Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, was announced by Saudi Arabia on December 15, 2015, initially with 34 member states; however several governments included in the coalition, including Pakistan, expressed surprise at their inclusion as they were not consulted.

And more importantly they point out that at present it is unclear whether the coalition would have an army to enforce its decisions, or merely act as a diplomatic mission that may well be as ineffectual as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The coalition did not include Iran, Iraq and Syria -countries traditionally in conflict within the region.

Lieutenant General Talat Masood Retd), a senior defence analyst, said that it is not yet clear whether Pakistan and other Muslim countries would send their troops or take ground action in countries where Daesh is very active like Syria and Iraq or al Qaeda in Yemen.
He said that the position offered to General Sharif is itself a controversial one, since important countries of the regions including Iran, Iraq and Syria are not part of the coalition.

“It is strange that the coalition reportedly claims to be set up to fight Daesh and al Qaeda, especially in Iraq and Syria but these countries are not even included in the coalition…it is tantamount to fighting against another Muslim country, which is in conflict with the 12-point resolution passed by the joint sitting of parliament held from April 6 to 10, 2015”, he added.

The resolution passed by parliament underscored: “the need for continued efforts by the government of Pakistan to find a peaceful resolution of the crisis, while promoting the unity of Muslim Ummah, in co-operation with the leaders of other Muslim countries; [It] desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis”.

In such situation, he added that it was up to the government to decide whether accepting any such offer will benefit the country’s interest or go against our own interests. Lieutenant Colonel Inam-ur-Rahim (Retd), a retired military lawyer and legal expert, pointed out that it is mandatory for a retired military official to get an NoC from GHQ prior to accepting any job abroad or a foreign funded job within the country, within two years of retirement.

“If General Reheel Sharif is going to accept the offer in his personal capacity, it would be deemed illegal, as it requires a formal NoC from the GHQ and the military has so far not issued any such statement”, he added. He said that after obtaining NoC from the GHQ, it is the prerogative of the Ministry of Defence to allow any military official to accept the offer.

Informed sources told Business Recorder on condition of anonymity that getting a NoC from the GHQ is unlikely to pose a problem. There is a long history of protecting retired officials and particularly retired chiefs of army staff, they stated adding that the civilian government too is susceptible to pressure from the establishment and is not likely to refuse if the army puts pressure in this regard. The objective of the alliance was stated as follows: “to protect the Muslim countries from all terrorist groups and terrorist organisations irrespective of their sect and name in countries including Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan”.

US tanks and soldiers in Poland pose threat to Russia

US tanks and soldiers in Poland pose threat to Russia – Kremlin

Russia-Today

 

 

US tanks and soldiers in Poland pose threat to Russia – Kremlin
Russia sees the deployment of US tanks and other military vehicles, along with army personnel, as a threat to its national security and interests, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

“We see this as a threat. These actions pose a threat to our interests and security,” Peskov told journalists on Thursday, stressing “especially, when a third country is beefing up its military presence along our borders with Europe.”

Read more

© Michael Dalder

“And this is not even a European country,” he added.

Eighty-seven battle tanks, 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, and over 3,000 soldiers are on their way from Germany to Poland. An official ceremony to mark the arrival of the US servicemen was scheduled to take place on January 12.

The brigades are to be deployed mainly in the western part of Poland, but drills have been planned that are to be conducted across the whole country.

After the military exercises, the soldiers are to be distributed among Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Baltic countries. A headquarters unit will be stationed in Germany.

The arrival of American military equipment and personnel in Poland is another step in Operation Atlantic Resolve, a large-scale military undertaking that the US launched in April of 2014, right after Crimea voted to join Russia, as a demonstration of “continued US commitment to the collective security of Europe.”

NATO describes the buildup along Russia’s borders as a defensive measure justified by Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

Peskov stressed that “any country may and will take a buildup of foreign military presence along its borders negatively.”

“This is exactly how we take it,” Peskov said.

“Be it one thousand or ten thousand [soldiers], it’s all the same. That’s a buildup of military presence and I have nothing to add,” he concluded, after being asked whether the new US deployment presented a real threat or was simply annoying to Russia.

Russia has repeatedly called the bloc’s moves aggressive, while stressing that they are undermining security in Europe. In response, Moscow has been conducting large-scale military drills on its home soil and stationed its most modern weaponry and armaments on its western borders, including in the enclave region of Kaliningrad, which is between Poland and Lithuania not far from Western Europe.

Trump Brands CNN As “Fake News,” Refuses To Take Their Reporters’ Questions

In first press meet after election, Trump assails ‘fake news’ dossier

The Hindu

 

 

Facing the nation: President-elect Donald Trump with son Eric Trump, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner ahead of a press conference on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit:

Blasts U.S. intelligence agencies for reports that Russia has compromising information about him

 

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump slammed the country’s intelligence agencies for allegedly leaking uncorroborated information about his ties with Russia and the media for reporting what he called was “fake news”.

“It would be a tremendous blot on their record if they did that,” he said about the intelligence agencies that obtained reports prepared by a private political consultant that suggested Russian agencies had filmed Mr. Trump with prostitutes. Their reports also suggested Mr. Trump and his employees had secret contacts with Russian agents during the campaign.

“A thing like that should never have been written, it should never have been had and it certainly should have never been released,” Mr. Trump said, calling out CNN and BuzzFeed, platforms that carried the reports based on the intelligence dossiers that were submitted to President Barack Obama and Mr. Trump himself. “You are fake news,” he told the CNN reporter, in his first press conference after being elected President.

The interaction turned stormy as reporters sought a categorical answer on whether any official from the Trump organisation interacted with Russian agents during the election process. Mr. Trump called BuzzFeed “a failing pile of garbage” and refused to allow the CNN reporter a question.

Mr. Trump, however, admitted publicly for the first time that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic Party’s computer networks during the election campaign.

“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” he said, reversing his position that has always been sceptical of the intelligence report that accused Russia. “But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people,” he added.

Asked what would be his message to Russian President Vladmir Putin, Mr. Trump said: “He shouldn’t be doing it. He won’t be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I’m leading it than when other people have led it…. We have to work something out, but it’s not just Russia. Take a look at what’s happened. You don’t report it the same way. 22 million accounts were hacked in this country by China, and that’s because we have no defence. That’s because we’re run by people that don’t know what they’re doing.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State-nominee Rex Tillerson, parried questions relating to his relationship with Russia and Mr. Putin at a Senate hearing for his confirmation. He refused to agree with Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s suggestion that Mr. Putin was a “war criminal”.

“I would not use that term,” Mr. Tillerson said. He also refused to state his position on recent sanctions announced by Mr. Obama against Russia for alleged interference in the U.S. election process. The incoming Secretary of State said he needed to examine the details of existing and proposed sanctions. “I think it is important that those be dealt with on a country-by-country basis.”

At his press conference Mr. Trump dismissed calls by Republican Senator Lindsay Graham for stronger sanctions against Russia. “Lindsay Graham has been competing with me for sometime. I hope he grows beyond the one per cent [support] level that he has,” Mr. Trump said, without directly responding to the demand for further sanctions.

Suspected Taliban hand could strain UAE-Pakistan ties

[It Looks Like the ISI Hit Both the UAE Govt and the Afghan NDS In Kandahar]

Suspected Taliban hand could strain UAE-Pakistan ties

times of india

 

Suspected Taliban hand could strain UAE-Pakistan ties
The explosions that killed five Emirati officials in Kandhahar could increase tensions between UAE and Pakistan with Taliban suspected for the attack which is being seen in some quarters as a signal to the Gulf monarchies.

The Taliban denied they were behind the three explosions in the Kandahar governor’s compound on Tuesday that killed UAE officials who were involved in humanitarian projects but security sources point out that the area is a stronghold of the terror group, virtually a spiritual centre of the movement. It is possible the attack was a signal to the Emirates as UAE has changed its position on terrorism and extremist Islamic movements in the past few years.

UAE has been deeply worried by the spread of IS in Syria and Iraq and its appeal among their citizens with the radical movement gaining adherents and donors. Differences have emerged between Pakistan and UAE over Islamabad’s refusal to send troops to fight a Shia insurgency in Yemen. Pakistan’s close links with Taliban and related groups and its record of strikes against select targets in Afghanistan can only deepen the faultlines.

Indian officials say that UAE’s stand today on terrorism is closer to India’s than ever before, being possibly the only Arab country to support the India-sponsored Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism in the UN.

The shock of the attack evoked strong reactions from Afghan and UAE governments. The Taliban, which owned up to two attacks in Kabul, curiously, blamed the Kandahar attack on “local internal rivalry” among Afghan officials. “(UAE) mourn today the humanitarian efforts of the Emirates in Afghanistan,” Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of the Dubai emirate, wrote on Twitter. Those killed were “helping the weak, children, and the needy,” he said.

The attack against UAE officials might be hard for the Taliban to own up. The UAE has been a big supporter of the Karzai and Ghani governments in the past 15 years. But earlier, UAE was one of three countries that extended diplomatic recognition to the Taliban government between 1996 and 2001.

While UAE drifted away from Pakistan, it has grown closer to India. After PM Narendra Modi visited Abu Dhabi in August 2015, the crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, will be the first UAE leader to be chief guest for India’s Republic Day.

Top Comment

send back all Paki from UAE. no more lip service from UAE. Unless you take action, they will bite the hand, which feeds them.JETK I

 

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has ordered an investigation but if the perpetrators or planners are seen to have links with Pakistan, it will open a whole new level of questions about Pakistan’s terror games.

Dubai Axis of Captagon Mind-Control Drug Network

[SEE:  CAPTAGON—Saudi Mind Control Drug of Choice]

dubai-with-more-than-4-6-million-captagon

Police apprehend three men in Dubai with more than 4.6 million pills of the amphetamine fenethylline, also known as Captagon, which has a street value of Dh115 million. Courtesy Dubai Police–December 22, 2013

 

Two arrested in Abu Dhabi Police drugs bust

the national

 

ABU DHABI // Police arrested two suspects with 2.6 million captagon tablets outside a villa in the capital.

Abu Dhabi Police said on Tuesday that the suspects, both from Arab countries, were arrested while loading the drugs into a lorry from a villa under construction on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

Brig Gen Rashid Boursheid, director of CID, said investigations and surveillance in coordination with the Dubai Police anti-narcotics department showed that the drugs had been brought to the UAE illegally and were going to be smuggled abroad.

This was the latest in a series of seizures involving captagon, an illicit amphetamine-type substance whose chemical name is fenethylline.

In December, Dubai Police arrested three Saudi Arabians caught with more than seven million captagon pills, while two Arab suspects were caught with 6.5 million capsules in the same month. Last year’s largest raid took place in November, involving three Syrian men trying to smuggle 17 million captagon pills through the UAE via Jebel Ali port.

Also on Tuesday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, issued a law forming the Irada Rehab and Treatment Centre.

The centre will offer rehabilitation and treatment to drug users and help them reintegrate into society, the Dubai Media Office said.

The centre will also develop policies for rehabilitation and treatment for drug addiction.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae

Trio ‘caught with more than 7 million amphetamines in Dubai’

the national

 

DUBAI // Three Saudi men were caught with more than seven million amphetamine pills after a tip-off, a court was told on Tuesday.

Prosecutors charged the trio with possession of 1,183kg of amphetamines, including crystal meth and Captagon, with the intent to distribute after a tip-off about their activities sparked an investigation in July. One of them, a 33-year-old, was also charged with consuming marijuana.

An Emirati police officer said the tip related to the 22-year-old defendant — a tourist in the country — and who was said to be in possession of drugs to be delivered to another man who would smuggle them to Saudi Arabia.

“We knew he was part of a gang that receives and smuggled drugs to Saudi. We monitored him near Dragonmart and he met with the other defendants, who gave him four bags, before they went on their way,” said the 45-year-old officer.

Officers arrested the 22-year-old in Al Rigga, Deira and found 135.8kg of methamphetamine in his car.

Police arrested the two others, brothers aged 30 and 33, in a villa in Al Warqa.

A Yemeni policeman said officers found a large amount of drugs in one of the villa’s rooms.

“We raided the villa and found the suspects asleep. We then executed the search warrant and found a large quantity of pills in a locked room,” said the 36-year-old.

A total of 1047.2kg worth of amphetamines were found. It was unclear where the remainder of the drugs total in the charge came from.

At Dubai Criminal Court on Tuesday, the three defendants denied possession of drugs with the intent to use. The 33-year-old defendant said he consumed marijuana in Saudi but not here.

The next hearing is on January 3.

tzriqat@thenational.ae

Afghan Govt Blames “Foreign Hand” (code for Pakistan) For Kandahar Bombing

“He asked why the militants distanced themselves from the attack on the Kandahar governor’s office when they claimed responsibility for the killing of innocent people in Kabul and Zabul.”

Atmar sees foreign hand behind Kandahar bombing

Pajhwok1

 

 

 

KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar has said a technical team had been tasked by the president with investigating the attack on the governor house in southern Kandahar province.

Atmar and other high-level officials of interior and defence ministries arrived in Kandahar City, the provincial capital, on Wednesday. He also spoke to reporters at the 205the Atal Military Corps headquarters.

Atmar said he had arrived in Kandahar following directives from the president to step up the investigations, condole the death of senior officials and inquire after the health of the wounded.

He added preliminary information showed the attack was perpetrated by the foreign enemies of Afghanistan against foreign guests who had come to the province to help the people.

The advisor called the attack a high-profile and painful incident that targeted Afghans and foreign diplomats. Without naming any country or group, he said after a few days it would be known who carried out the heinous attack.

He said the most important question for investigators to answer was how the explosive were carried into the guesthouse. He hoped an answer to the query would be found soon.

“Reconstruction work has been ongoing at the governor’s house over the past few months and we should know the enemy got the opportunity; whether they exploited the reconstruction project or used some other technique to transfer explosive into the guesthouse.”

Atmar also acknowledged a security lapse and said: “Yesterday there were attacks in Helmand, Kabul and Kandahar. All of these attacks were coordinated. It was not a coincidence.”

He asked why the militants distanced themselves from the attack on the Kandahar governor’s office when they claimed responsibility for the killing of innocent people in Kabul and Zabul.

The enemy, who previously targeted common people, had started attacking the friends of Afghanistan, the advisor said, adding UAE Ambassador Juma Al Kabi and Governor Humayun Azizi were in stable condition.

It Looks Like the ISI Hit Both the UAE Govt and the Afghan NDS In Kandahar

[SEE:  Did the Divided Afghan Govt Just Blow-Up In Kandahar?–Or Is It Open War w/Pakistan’s ISI?]

No role in ‘Dubai initiative’: Qatar-based Taliban leaders

The decision to have an army contingent from UAE parade alongside the Indian armed forces during the Republic Day celebrations is expected to send a “clear strategic signal” to Pakistan of its growing strategic bonding with the Gulf region.

UAE minister warns Pakistan of ‘heavy price for ambiguous stand’ on Yemen

“Tehran seems to be more important to Islamabad and Ankara than the Gulf countries,”

Pakistanis face strict UAE visa policy

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) toughened its visa policy for Pakistanis, particularly for those holding official and diplomatic passports.

Official passport holders are required to wait for a longer time to get visas, contrary to the norms that accord priority to such passport holders.

No role in ‘Dubai initiative’–Qatar-based Taliban leaders

No role in ‘Dubai initiative’: Qatar-based

Taliban leaders

gulf-times

 

 

March 08 2014

The Taliban office in Doha.-File photo
The Taliban office in Doha.-File photo


By Salman Siddiqui/Staff Reporter

The Qatar-based Afghan Taliban leaders have not participated at any level in the so-called ‘Dubai initiative’ even though some of their members were present in the UAE during that time to carry out another “important task” of the ‘Islamic Emirate’, a top Taliban source told Gulf Times.
The official, who chose to remain anonymous, requested not to reveal what and with whom the other “important” matter was discussed on behalf of the ‘Islamic Emirate’ in the UAE until the “right time” came.
He, however, stressed that the  Karzai-led administration in Kabul was trying its best to divide their ranks by using people  such as the “former official of The Islamic Emirate” Agha Jan Mutasim, but he said that all such ‘tactics’ would fail and only further complicate efforts of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“It is true that Aga Jan Mutasim in the past had held senior posts in the Emirate, including that of finance minister and also headed our political delegation before Tayeb Aga was tasked with his present responsibilities, but it should be clear to everybody now that he is not one of us and has no authority whatsoever to speak on behalf of the Taliban leadership,” the source said.
Tayeb Aga, a close aide of Taliban chief Mullah Omar, was appointed as head of the Taliban delegation based in Qatar, when the group opened its political office in June last year. The office was “temporarily” shut down after the Taliban “boycotted” talks when differences arose over the naming of the office and hoisting of their flag.
The former Taliban senior official Agha Jan Mutasim moved to Turkey after he survived an assassination attempt in Karachi in 2010. Last February, he claimed to have organised a high-level meeting in Dubai that was attended by current and former senior Afghan Taliban leaders. Further, it was said that Karzai’s High Peace Council members also met with these Taliban officials to work out an acceptable solution to the Afghan crisis in the aftermath of the US and Nato troops withdrawal from Afghanistan post 2014.
The Afghan Taliban had also issued a formal rebuttal statement to deny the ‘Dubai initiative’ and said: “The Islamic Emirate has delegated officials and a political office to conduct its political activities and if a need arises for contacts with any party, a responsible organ will be tasked with the permission of its head, under the guidance of its leadership and on the practical needs of Jihad.”
The issue is clearly of trust as the Afghan Taliban officials believe that their former comrade Agha Jan Mutasim is being used against them by the current Afghan administration.
Speaking about another senior leader of the Taliban movement, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is regarded as the co-founder of the group along with Mullah Omar, the senior Taliban source told Gulf Times that all reports that he was set free by Pakistan were false.
“The entire world now knows that Mullah Barader was never set free and he remains in [Pakistan’s] custody,” he said.
The Taliban officials believe that extreme pressure was being applied on their senior leader Mullah Barader to join the camp of their erstwhile members such as Aga Jan Mutasim in Turkey in order to start a parallel peace process by sidelining the main Afghan Taliban leadership.
“But all their efforts have so far failed and Mullah Barader has remained loyal to the cause and refused to give in to any pressure,” the source said.
Also, the Taliban believe that the Karzai-led  administration “in cahoots with Pakistan” was still trying to change the location of their talks from Qatar to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. “We chose Qatar to open our political office only because of its role as a neutral mediator and any plans to forcibly change the location of talks will only lead to failure of the peace process,” he said.

Did the Divided Afghan Govt Just Blow-Up In Kandahar?–Or Is It Open War w/Pakistan’s ISI?

–Or, is that what Raziq (and factions of the Afghan Govt) want us to believe?

[It is astounding that the man escaped, apparently unscathed, the same Kandahar blast which killed five UAE diplomats, among 11 dead (High-Ranking Officials, Diplomats Victims Of Kandahar Attack).  This is an obvious response to his plan to create a Taliban “safe area,” taunting the ISI and their Haqqani minions…the same people he now publicly blames for the attack.  Either Raziq WAS the target and Pakistan missed, or Raziq was the author of the attack upon the UAE Emiratis and personal adversaries in the Kandahar political establishment.  It would be very interesting to find-out anything about UAE activity in Kandahar and Raziq’s relation to it.]

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The victims of Tuesday’s deadly Kandahar guesthouse attack were all high-ranking officials and diplomats that had gathered to welcome the UAE ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi.

[Raziq Points Finger At Haqqani And ISI For Deadly Kandahar Blast(SEE STORY BELOW)–
‘Kandahar’s police chief General Abdul Raziq on Wednesday accused Haqqani Network and ISI of plotting Tuesday’s deadly suicide attack that killed 11 people, including five UAE diplomats.”]

[SEE:  Are Kabul Blasts War Within Afghan Govt, Or Taliban Reply To Abdul Raziq’s Invitation?]

[Taliban reacts at Kandahar blasts targeting governor, UAE ambassador–
“Overnight #Kandahar incident is enemy internal dispute, not connected with Mujahidin; we did not have any op in Kandahar last night,” Ahmadi said in a Twitter post.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi (2009). covering Nimruz, Nimroz, Farah,  Kabul, Zabul, Kandahar  ]

 

The provincial police chief said intelligence received two months ago indicated there was a plot against the military leadership in Kandahar.

raziq

Kandahar’s police chief General Abdul Raziq on Wednesday accused Haqqani Network and ISI of plotting Tuesday’s deadly suicide attack that killed 11 people, including five UAE diplomats.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon in Kandahar, Raziq said that an intelligence report received two months ago showed that Haqqani network wanted to target the military leadership of province.

“We had our preparations in place but despite this the insurgents were able to place the explosives inside the sofas in the governor’s guest house,” Raziq said.

He added that “the guesthouse was being renovated at the time and because of this a number of workers have been arrested on suspicion of having links to the incident.”

“Eleven people have been killed in the incident and 13 others were injured,” he said. However other officials confirmed 16 people had been wounded.

 

s.

Are Kabul Blasts War Within Afghan Govt, Or Taliban Reply To Abdul Raziq’s Invitation?

[The following report actually broke before the blasts in Kabul.  The statement by Kandahar strongman Abdul Raziq was made last month…the attack may have been upon the Kandahar governor, who was wounded, but it is probably no coincidence that Raziq was also in the meeting where the gov was nearly killed ( 9 Killed, 16 Injured In Kandahar Guesthouse Explosion).]

Afghans push for Taliban ‘safe zone’ to outflank Pakistan

the economic times

If implemented, the strategy - aimed at undercutting Pakistan's influence over the Taliban - could, for better or for worse, be a game changer in a strife-torn nation where ceding territory to insurgents is seen as tantamount to partition.
If implemented, the strategy – aimed at undercutting Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban – could, for better or for worse, be a game changer in a strife-torn nation where ceding territory to insurgents is seen as tantamount to partition.
KABUL: Afghan officials are pushing to create a “safe zone” for Taliban insurgents in a bid to wean them away from traditional sanctuaries inside Pakistan, in a radical and contentious strategy to de-escalate the conflict.

The plan underscores desperation in Afghanistan for out- of-the-box solutions to tackle the 15-year insurgency, as peace bids repeatedly fail and US-backed forces suffer record casualties in stalemated fighting.

If implemented, the strategy – aimed at undercutting Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban – could, for better or for worse, be a game changer in a strife-torn nation where ceding territory to insurgents is seen as tantamount to partition.

“I urge the Taliban to return to Afghanistan. We should make a safe zone for them and their families,” Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq told a gathering of religious scholars and tribal elders last month.

“We can no longer rely on foreign governments and embassies to end the war. The Taliban belong to this country, they are sons of this soil.”

That Raziq, arguably the most powerful commander in southern Afghanistan and long one of the staunchest anti- Taliban figures, would suggest such an idea amplified the shockwaves it created.

“The government shouldn’t be giving safe zones to terrorists,” warned former Helmand governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, while some observers dismissed the strategy as “illogical” as the Taliban already control vast swathes of Afghan territory.

Raziq did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but a senior security official told AFP the government’s goal “is to bring the Taliban from Pakistan to Afghanistan”.

“We will separate a territory for them to come with their families. Then whether they want to fight or talk peace, they will be relieved from the pressure of Pakistan,” he said, speaking anonymously.

Pakistan began supporting the Taliban movement of the 1990s as part of its policy of “strategic depth” against nemesis India.

Seen by many Afghans as the biggest obstacle to lasting peace, Islamabad has long been accused of playing a “double game” in Afghanistan: endorsing Washington’s war on terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, while nurturing militant sanctuaries.

After years of official denial, a top Pakistani official in 2016 admitted for the first time the Taliban enjoys safe haven inside his country, which Islamabad uses as a “lever” to pressure the group into talks with Kabul.

However, Pakistan has hosted multiple rounds of talks ostensibly to jumpstart a peace process – without result.

Dozens Killed And Injured In Twin Blasts In Kabul

Hospital officials have confirmed 21 people were killed and 45 wounded after explosives detonated outside parliament offices in Darulaman Road.

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Two explosions rocked Kabul at about 4pm on Tuesday afternoon in the PD6 area in Darulaman Road, killing 21 people and wounding 45 others.

Officials said the bombers targeted parliament staff leaving for the day.

He said one explosion came after a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the entrance to the offices and the second explosion was a car bomb.

Officials said the bombers targeted a convoy of vehicles carrying government staff leaving the offices.

Hospital officials confirmed 21 people had been killed and 45 wounded. The wounded had been admitted to various hospitals around the city.

MPs said a female member of parliament from Herat was among those wounded while reports indicate that the NDS head for the zone covering PD6 was among those killed.

Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack and said the target had been a mini bus carrying government staff.

 

Officials confirm four Arabs are among those killed while UAE ambassador and Kandahar governor were both wounded
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At least nine people were killed and 16 wounded in an explosion at a provincial government guesthouse in Kandahar city on Tuesday night. 

The governor’s spokesman Samim Khpolwak, who is himself injured, told TOLOnews the UAE ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi, another UAE envoy and the Kandahar governor, Hamayun Azizi, were wounded in the explosion.

He also said at least four Arabs, who were bodyguards, were among those killed.

A source told TOLOnews the governor is in serious condition.

He said the Kandahar police chief, General Abdul Raziq, who was also at the guesthouse at the time of the explosion,  was unharmed.

The wounded are being treated at Kandahar hospitals.

Officials said the explosion happened during a high-level meeting at the guesthouse. They said survivors claimed explosives had been placed in a couch in the lounge of the guesthouse where the officials had gathered.

No group has claimed responsibility yet for the attack.

China Tries the Other Path, Fighting the Feminization of Little Boys w/Ideology of “Manhood”

BEIJING — With enormous economic clout and a powerful military and a strongman president, the image that China projects to the outside world is one of strength and confidence.

At home, however, some believe the nation’s over-protected young boys are becoming physically and emotionally weak — leaving China facing what is being called a “crisis of masculinity.”

Image: Chinese children attending class Image: Chinese children attending class
Children attend a class in Shanghai, China. JOHANNES EISELE / AFP-Getty Images, file

Some commentators in China, where gender identity is much less blurred than in Western culture, suggest it could lead to social problems and even imperil the country’s national security.

A new school textbook that aims to teach boys how to be “masculine” men has been released. Called “Little Men,” the book covers the differences between boys and girls, the importance of the father-son relationship as well as the importance of interacting with nature and managing money.

The colorfully illustrated book was first published in December 2015 by Shanghai Educational Publishing House and has been approved for fourth and fifth grade classes across the country, after a trial period in selected schools.

“This course is necessary for boys,” Miao Li, 36, a businessman, told NBC News while waiting to pick up his daughter recently outside a Beijing primary school. “They are so over-protected by the family they don’t do physical activities anymore.”

“Nowadays, girls are becoming more like boys while the boys are becoming more like girls, introvert and shy,” echoed another parent called Huang, a hotel employee.

“The boys are now less masculine than when I was of their age,” said a retired worker named Tian, a grandfather to an eight-year-old boy.

Image: Children at a school in Beijing Image: Children at a school in Beijing
Children gather after class outside of the Beijing Fangcaodi Primary School on Dec. 22. Eric Baculinao / NBC News

Another retiree named Huang, with a seven-year-old grandson, noted that boys are “more fragile emotionally and physically due to too much homework.”

The roots of China’s masculinity crisis can be traced to a number of areas, one of which is the country’s One Child policy, implemented between 1979 and 2015. The policy restricted the number of children families were allowed to have in order to curb the country’s surging population growth. It was replaced with a two-child limit last year.

“The problem is that the family spoils the kid with love and care,” said a hotel management worker surnamed Sheng, mother of a first-grader, suggesting that over-indulgence and parents’ fear of losing their only child has stunted the natural adventurous character of boys.

Discussion about this effect of the One Child policy has been rife in China for years. Commentators have long lamented social phenomena such as so-called “Little Emperor Syndrome” or “Prince Syndrome,” where a life of pampering and constant praise led many Chinese only-children to develop poor social skills and become egocentric and over-reliant on their parents.

FROM OCT. 2015: Young People in Beijing React to End of One-Child Policy0:51

Some sections of the Chinese media have also suggested that the popularity of effeminate Korean and Japanese actors and pop stars is a factor in the supposedly diminishing masculinity of Chinese youth. Last month, a headline in a prominent English-language Chinese newspaper blamed a “‘gender crisis’ on effeminate men in Japanese, Korean culture.”

China’s education system may also have played a role in bringing about the current state of affairs, with some commentators blaming an acute shortage of male teachers in the country, depriving young boys of male role models. Four out of five teaching positions in urban areas of China are held by women.

According to Tiantian Zheng, a professor of anthropology at State University of New York at Cortland, the issue of “masculinity” and the upbringing of boys is being treated as a priority at state level educational policy.

Measures that could result from this include “the establishment of all boys’ middle schools, the textbook you cited [‘Little Men’], experts’ psychology clinics and media discourse,” she told NBC News.

In a study published last year, Zheng observed that Chinese experts have called for stronger “gender-difference education,” arguing that “the crisis of masculinity in effeminate men is considered a peril to the security of the nation because it reflects powerlessness, inferiority, feminized passivity, and social deterioration reminiscent of the colonial past when China was defeated by the colonizing West.”

Chinese media has portrayed the “lack of manhood not only as a public menace and a threat to the family, but also as a metaphor for passive masculinity and national crisis,” she wrote. Distinctive gender roles and strong manhood were considered “crucial in safeguarding the security of the nation,” she noted.

But not everyone believes there is a problem. “I see diversity of human beings as something to celebrate, rather than repress,” Zheng told NBC News.

“It would benefit our society and make the world a better place if we all could critically evaluate and challenge, rather than perpetuate and reinforce the entrenched cultural notions of femininity and masculinity that imprison us all,” she added.

Researchers Dawn Liu and Sami Tseng contributed to this report.

Does the River of Secret Salafists Justify Return of German Police State?

Foolish Angela Merkel, whose soft-headedness might be pitiable were she not so cocksure of her position, is now reaping the rewards of Germany’s “welcoming culture”:

Germany’s domestic security chief warned Sunday that the country’s radical Islamist scene is not only growing, but becoming more decentralised, posing greater challenges to surveillance operations.

In an interview with national news agency DPA, Hans-Georg Maassen also defended security officials under fire after it emerged that Berlin truck attack suspect Anis Amri had slipped through their net, saying they had done everything they could.

Overall, the number of Salafists — or fundamentalist Sunni Muslims — in Germany has risen to more than 9,700, sharply up from 3,800 people in 2011, said Maassen. “It’s of great concern to us that this scene is not only growing, but it is also very diversified. There is not just one, two, three or four people who have a say,” he warned.

“Rather, there are many people who dominate this Salafist scene. And all these people have to be watched.”

Well, turning an entire country into a neighbor-snitching police state is something that, shall we say, both Germany and Mutti Merkel have some experience with. But is this what American soldiers sacrificed their lives for as they salvaged the nation from Hitler and the National Socialists and helped establish the Bundesrepublik Deutscheland?

In a defence of security officials under pressure for failing to stop Amri, Maassen said that although officers had watched the Tunisian over a long period of time, they found no evidence to arrest him. “I believe that the security forces, in particular the police, have done everything in their power to assess the danger posed by Amri. But it is also clear that we live under the rule of law, and the legal framework must be respected,” he said.

The “legal framework” applies to real Germans, not the horde of Islamic “refugees” who have flooded into the country seeking women, welfare and the opportunity to conquer the old Holy Roman Empire in the name of Allah. So if your legal framework can prevent that, great. Otherwise, it might be time for more drastic action:

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel thinks the country needs to adopt a tougher approach to Islamism by banning Salafist mosques and expelling extremist preachers. The Salafist movement in Germany nearly doubled from 3,800 members in 2011 to 7,500 in 2015, according to government estimates. After a series of terror attacks in 2016, Gabriel says he has “zero tolerance” for Islamism.

“Salafist mosques must be banned, communities dissolved, and the preachers should be expelled as soon as possible,” Gabriel, who is the leader of the Social Democrats, said in a Friday interview with magazine Der Spiegel. “Those who encourage for violence do not enjoy the protection of religious freedom.”

Gabriel said a “cultural fight” is needed to make sure entire communities don’t become “degenerate.” “If we are serious about the fight against Islamism and terrorism, then it must also be a cultural fight,” Gabriel said.

Saudi Arabia Has Just Bought Itself A Brand New Pak Commander-In-Chief

[Retiring Pak Army Chief Sharif Becomes Saudi’s Commander of Global Islamist Army]

General Raheel Sharif should reconsider commanding the ‘Islamic military alliance’

the nation pakistan

 

 

General Raheel Sharif should reconsider commanding the ‘Islamic military alliance’

This would not only be a very risky undertaking militarily but a fiasco in the political sense for Pakistan at least


The media is agog with the news of General Raheel Sharif’s likely appointment as the Commander of the 39 nation Islamic Military Alliance ostensibly being created to fight terrorism, at the behest of the ambitious and aggressive Saudi Defence Minister and son of the King, Prince Muhammad Bin Salman al-Saud.

Keeping in view the Saudi led war against Houthis in Yemen and obvious demonization of Iran as being behind them in order to spread her influence in the Middle East, to the obvious exclusion of Iran, Iraq and Syria from this Islamic Military Alliance , this move is drawing mixed reactions from various quarters.

Obviously, those who favour Saudi Arabia and criticize Iran on the basis of their sectarian bias are seen congratulating the General while those who feel otherwise are clearly expressing their displeasure.

On the other hand, those among the Muslim Intelligentsia who desire the Muslim World to come together in this fight against terrorism, and also support the need for these two very important countries to mend their fences for the sake of peace, friendship and prosperity of the Muslim World, are uneasy about the Saudi-Iran tensions. They are either skeptical of things going from bad to worse vis-a-vis Pakistan’s relations with Iran or expect something good to come out of this decision believing in General Raheel Sharif’s abilities sense in bridging this unfortunate Saudi-Iran divide.

Whether this news is really true is still not confirmed officially, except for the Pakistani Defence Minister’s revelation about it in a TV program with a private TV channel, as well as the media reports or footage received from Saudi Arabia which shows the General enjoying full military protocol in the public eye!

Although social media is also awash with comments about this news, and as usual some people are very excited at the prospects of General Raheel performing some miracles in his new role, while others are skeptical. Since this is purely a matter of conjecture let’s not waste much time on it. However, we can offer a few comments based on historical precedence and realpolitik.

Kings, princes, dictators who nurse a pathological dislike for a perceived rival, seldom – if ever – accept sound advice based on strategy, ethics or for promotion of peace, rather they want action which satisfies their ego or desire for revenge? Here, the terrorism that this military alliance wants to fight has been spread at least in Libya, Iraq And Syria by those organizations or groups which owe their birth and finances to Saudi  Arabia, Qatar and other Arab countries.

Majority of those who hold the reins of power in most of the Islamic countries which form part of this military alliance are usurpers of power in their own countries and serve at  best as  pawns in the game of world power politics between the United States and Its European allies versus Russia. Meanwhile those which also show a semblance of economic freedom like Turkey, Iran And Saudi Arabia are involved in a tight rope act to balance their relations between these two power centers. China prefers taking a back seat in this big power rivalry in order to expand and solidify its economic and political reach and build up its clout as the third power.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is already feeling fatigued by its exertions in Yemen and by the fall in its revenues due to the steep fall in oil prices as well as the turn of events in Syria. How and what role can another armed meddling in Syria and Iraq play appears quite uncertain as the Americans and her European allies have already been outsmarted by the Russians in Syria.

The only place where this new found military alliance can be asked to play some role is in Yemen. For which the Saudis may ask General Raheel Sharif to cobble some sort of mercenary force to rout the Houthis, who have proved to be quite a hard nut to crack and thus shortchange the Iranians.

But, this would not only be a very risky undertaking militarily but a fiasco in the political sense for at least Pakistan! Thus, I very much doubt that General Raheel Sharif would go for such an option as In-charge of this military alliance.

With regards to fighting the ISIS (or Daesh), which is the actual threat to the peace, progress and stability of all Muslim countries, it appears highly unlikely that Saudi Arabia, Qatar or UAE would commit their forces to do so in Syria or Iraq. They are already at loggerheads with the governments, as they consider the majority population of Iraq and the ruling clique in Syria as their ideological foes, rather, as heretics or apostates. Moreover, their intervention in the Syrian conflict in support of various jihadist factions is already an established fact.

Thus, they won’t mind these two countries to keep suffering due to disunity, instability and bloodshed till the possibility of a change of regime along-with ideological change remains even remotely possible.

Hence, we should all hope and pray that nothing of the sort happens and the general avoids falling into a quagmire because Houthis are not the Taliban and Yemen is not North Waziristan!

Syed Fazl-e-Ali Naqvi retired as Lieutenant Colonel from Pakistan Army in April 2000 after serving in various command, staff and instructional appointments, while having put in 26 years of meritorious service in the Corps of Signals, Pakistan Army and Deputations to Civil/CAF. He was rewarded with Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Military)

Mullah Rasool’s Anti-Taliban Still Fighting the Main Taliban Body

https://i1.wp.com/www.khaama.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Taliban-commanders-arrested-in-Pakistan.jpg

Taliban factions clash in West of Afghanistan leaving 10 dead

Khaama

At least ten Taliban insurgents were killed in the latest infighting among the Taliban factions in western Farah province of Afghanistan.

According to the local officials, the latest infighting was ignited following a roadside bomb explosion that left several militants dead.

The officials further added that the incident took place in Bakwa district after a landmine planted by Taliban group targeted the other rival group as they were on their way from Helmand to Farah.

District administrative chief Ghawsuddin confirmed the incident and said the latest infighting took place between the supporters of Mullah Rasool and Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

He said it is yet not clear the supporters of which group was targeted in the blast but confirmed that both the explosion and infighting left at least 10 Taliban insurgents dead.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

This is not the first time infighting takes place among the main Taliban and dissident group supporters in Afghanistan.

Several deadly clashes have taken place across the country, specifically in western provinces following the death of Taliban found and supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The clashes normally take place due to differences among the Taliban group leaders over the appointment of supreme leader.

United States Re-Packaged Al Qaeda As ‘Khorasan Group’ To Sell Attack

United States Re-Packaged Al Qaeda As ‘Khorasan Group’ To Sell Attack

shadowproof

 

United States officials misled the public about a Syrian terrorist group, the Khorasan Group, in the run up to air strikes in the country in 2014. The group was not new, as officials suggested, but essentially a group of reinforcements for the country’s Al Qaeda affiliate.

In September 2014, just prior to a United States military strike in Syria, the mainstream media began reporting on the Khorasan Group.

Even close observers of the U.S. War on Terror were unaware such a group existed, let alone that it was so powerful as to “pose a more direct and imminent threat to the United States” than ISIS, as was attributed to anonymous U.S. government national security officials speaking to the Associated Press

The rest of the mainstream media echoed the AP in their reporting, and, suddenly, the homeland was facing a new existential threat. But, after the US strikes in Syria against the Khorasan Group, national security officials began offering a “more nuanced picture” on the threat that verged on being outright defensive.

Both FBI Director James Comey and Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby admitted their intelligence in Syria was weak, but stood by the claim that the group existed. Comey said, “What I could see concerned me very much that they were working toward an attack.” Kirby gave a better safe than sorry rationale for the attack: “We hit them. And I don’t think we need to throw up a dossier here to prove that these are bad dudes.”

Journalists began calling bullshit and wondering if the group even existed, let alone posed such an imminent and serious threat to the United States.

A recent interview conducted by Shadowproof brought back up some old questions about U.S. military operations in Syria and the Khorasan Group.  In our interview with veteran war reporter and terrorism expert Elijah Magnier, we asked if such a group existed and if they mattered. Magnier responded (around 42:15):

Shadowproof: Do you remember when Obama launched this bombing he talked about something called The Khorasan Group? […] Many experts were scratching their heads. […] Did you know who that group was? Are they still active?

Elijah Magnier: The Khorasan Group is, basically, the group that came from Khorasan. This is where Ayman al-Zawahiri is believed to be based and they form the old core of Al Qaeda who joined the emir of Jabhat al-Nusra—or Al Qaeda in Syria—following the request of Ayman al-Zawahiri himself, who asked all of Al Qaeda to join Julani, to support him and to support Al Qaeda in Syria.

So the core group of Al Qaeda, many elements of the core group, form what is called the Khorasan Group and this is what the United States was targeting. Yes, they were targeting genuine targets there and they were targeting elements that have a long list of activity against the West, against the United States and Europe and that were involved in different kinds of relationships with at the time with Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and in Yemen, and in other parts of the Middle East. So yes, they exist.

These details were completely left out of the explanation during the run up to the 2014 U.S. strikes in Syria. Rather than being a new separate, menacing group, the Khorasan Group were essentially seasoned reinforcements for the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, known as Jabhat al-Nusra (recently rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham).

Now, in 2017, the U.S. has changed course and is arming groups in alliance with the Al Qaeda affiliate. And, again, the U.S. mainstream press is mindlessly repeating government talking points. The only constant is bad journalism.

Futurist Predicted Collapse of American Empire By 2020, Before Trump

johan-galtung

US Power Will Decline Under Trump–Futurist Johan Galtung

covert-geopolitics

 

Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, warned that US global power will collapse under the Donald Trump administration.

The Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace and conflict studies as a scientific discipline. He has made numerous accurate predictions of major world events, most notably the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

Written by Nafeez Ahmed Columnist

Back in 2000, Galtung first set out his prediction that the “US empire” would collapse within 25 years.

Galtung has also accurately predicted the 1978 Iranian revolution; the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989 in China; the economic crises of 1987, 2008 and 2011; and even the 9/11 attacks—among other events, according to the late Dietrich Fischer, academic director of the European University Center for Peace Studies.

Back in 2000, Galtung first set out his prediction that the “US empire” would collapse within 25 years. After the election of President Bush, though, he revised that forecast five years forward because, he argued, Bush’s policies of extreme militarism would be an accelerant.

After the election of Trump, I thought it might be prudent to check in with Galtung to see how he was feeling about the status of his US forecast. Galtung told Motherboard that Trump would probably continue this trajectory of accelerated decline—and may even make it happen quicker. Of course, with typical scientific caution, he said he would prefer to see what Trump’s actual policies are before voicing a clear verdict.

The model

Galtung has doctoral degrees in both sociology and mathematics, and some decades ago developed a theory of “synchronizing and mutually reinforcing contradictions”, which he used to make his forecasts. The model was based on comparing the rise and fall of 10 historical empires.

In 1980, Galtung used his theoretical model to map the interaction of various social contradictions inside the Soviet empire, leading him to predict its demise within 10 years.

“Very few believed him at the time”, writes Dietrich Fischer in the main biography and anthology of Galtung’s works, Pioneer for Peace, “but it occurred on November 9, 1989, two months before his time limit, 1990.”

For the USSR, Galtung’s model identified five key structural contradictions in Soviet society which, he said, would inevitably lead to its fragmentation—unless the USSR underwent a complete transformation.

The model works like this: the more those contradictions deepen, the greater the likelihood they will result in a social crisis that could upend the existing order.

In the case of the USSR, the main structural contradictions were as follows: the working class was increasingly repressed and unable to self-organise through trade unions (ironic given the country’s Communist pretensions); the wealthier ‘bourgeoisie’ or elite had money to spend, but nothing to buy from domestic production, leading to economic stagnation; Russian intellectuals wanted more freedom of expression; minorities wanted more autonomy; and peasants wanted more freedom of movement.

The model works like this: the more those contradictions deepen, the greater the likelihood they will result in a social crisis that could upend the existing order.

Eventually, as the highly centralised structures of the Soviet empire were unable to accommodate these intensifying pressures, the top-down structures would have to collapse.

Galtung later began to apply his model to the United States. In 1996, he wrote a scientific paper published by George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution warning that “the USA will soon go the same way as [previous] imperial constructions… decline and fall.”

Fascism?

But the main book setting out Galtung’s fascinating forecast for the US is his 2009 book, The Fall of the American Empire—and then What?

The book sets out a whopping 15 “synchronizing and mutually reinforcing contradictions” afflicting the US, which he says will lead to US global power ending by 2020—within just four years. Galtung warned that during this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary “fascism”.

He argued that American fascism would come from a capacity for tremendous global violence; a vision of American exceptionalism as the “fittest nation”; a belief in a coming final war between good and evil; a cult of the strong state leading the fight of good against evil; and a cult of the “strong leader”.

Galtung warned that during this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary “fascism”.

All of which, Galtung said, surfaced during the Bush era, and which now appear to have come to fruition through Trump. Such fascism, he told Motherboard, is a symptom of the decline—lashing out in disbelief at the loss of power.

Among the 15 structural contradictions his model identifies as driving the decline, are:

  • economic contradictions such as ‘overproduction relative to demand’, unemployment and the increasing costs of climate change;
  • military contradictions including rising tensions between the US, NATO, and its military allies, along with the increasing economic unsustainability of war;
  • political contradictions including the conflicting roles of the US, UN and EU;
  • cultural contradictions including tensions between US Judeo-Christianity, Islam, and other minorities;
  • and social contradictions encompassing the increasing gulf between the so-called ‘American Dream’, the belief that everyone can prosper in America through hard work, and the reality of American life (the fact that more and more people can’t).

Galtung’s book explores how the structural inability to resolve such contradictions will lead to the unravelling of US political power, both globally, and potentially even domestically.

Global collapse

Trump has made clear that he thinks US troops are still needed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even proposed sending more troops to Iraq. He also said that we should have ‘grabbed’ the country’s oil. But he has also heavily (and incoherently) criticized US military policies.

Domestically, Trump has promised to deport 11 million illegal migrants, build a wall between the US and Mexico, compel all American Muslims to sign up to a government register, and ban all Muslim immigration to the US.

On the one hand, Trump might well offer an opportunity to avoid potential conflicts with great power rivals like Russia and China—on the other, he may still, stupidly, fight more unilateral wars and worsen domestic contradictions relating to minorities.

For Galtung, Trump’s incoherent policy proposals are evidence of the deeper structural decline of US power: “He [Trump] blunts contradictions with Russia, possibly with China, and seems to do also with North Korea. But he sharpens contradictions inside the USA”, such as in relation to minority rights.

On the one hand, Galtung said, Trump might well offer an opportunity to avoid potential conflicts with great power rivals like Russia and China—on the other, he may still, stupidly, fight more unilateral wars and worsen domestic contradictions relating to minorities.

Motherboard asked Galtung whether he thinks Trump would speed up his forecast of “collapse”, or slow it down.

Even if we give Trump the benefit of the doubt, he said, and assume that he “prefers solving underlying conflicts, particularly with Russia, to war—in other words for the US not be imperial—then yes, that still speeds up the decline from above, and from the center… Of course, what he does as a President remains to be seen.”

But what exactly is collapsing?

“An empire is more than violence around the world,” said Galtung. “It is a cross-border structure with a center, the imperial country, and a periphery, the client countries. The point about imperialism is to make the elites in the periphery do the jobs for the center.”

The center country may be a dictatorship or a democracy. So for Galtung, the collapse of the US empire comes “when the periphery elites no longer want to fight US wars, no longer want to exploit for the center.”

For Galtung, a key sign of collapse would be Trump’s attitude to NATO. The President-elect has said he would be happy to see NATO break-up if US allies aren’t willing to pay their dues. Trump’s ‘go it alone’ approach would, Galtung said, accelerate and undermine US global empire at the same time.

“The collapse has two faces,” said Galtung. “Other countries refuse to be ‘good allies: and the USA has to do the killing themselves, by bombing from high altitudes, drones steered by computer from an office, Special Forces killing all over the place. Both are happening today, except for Northern Europe, which supports these wars, for now. That will probably not continue beyond 2020, so I stand by that deadline.”

US break-up?

But this global collapse, also has potential domestic implications. Galtung warned that the decline of American power on the world stage would probably have a domestic impact that would undermine the internal cohesion of the United States:

“As a trans-border structure the collapse I am thinking of is global, not domestic. But it may have domestic repercussion, like white supremacists or even minorities like Hawaiians, Inuits, indigenous Americans, and black Americans doing the same, maybe arguing for the United States as community, confederation rather than a ‘union’.”

Galtung warned that the decline of American power on the world stage would probably have a domestic impact that would undermine the internal cohesion of the United States.

Galtung is not pessimistic about his forecasts, though. Having always seen the collapse of the “US empire” as inevitable—much like the collapse of the Soviet empire—he argues that there is real opportunity for a revitalization of the “American republic.”

The American republic is characterised by its dynamism, its support for the ideals of freedom and liberty, its productivity and creativity, and its cosmopolitanism toward the ‘other.’

Might Trump help revitalize the American republic?

Galtung’s answer is, perhaps, revealing: “If he manages to apologize deeply to all the groups he has insulted. And turn foreign policy from US interventions—soon 250 after Jefferson in Libya 1801—and not use wars (killing more than 20 million in 37 countries after 1945): A major revitalization! Certainly making ‘America Great Again’. We’ll see.”

That’s a big if.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/us-power-will-decline-under-trump-says-futurist-who-predicted-soviet-collapse