The Empire Is Obsessed with Perverse Types Of Punishment
by Andre Vltchek
Western culture is clearly obsessed with rules, guilt, submissiveness and punishment.
By now it is clear that the West is the least free society on Earth. In North America and Europe, almost everyone is under constant scrutiny: people are spied on, observed, their personal information is being continually extracted, and the surveillance cameras are used indiscriminately.
Life is synchronized and managed. There are hardly any surprises.
One can sleep with whomever he or she wishes (as long as it is done within the ‘allowed protocol’). Homosexuality and bisexuality are allowed. But that is about all; that is how far ‘freedom’ usually stretches.
Rebellion is not only discouraged, it is fought against, brutally. For the tiniest misdemeanors or errors, people end up behind bars. As a result, the U.S. has more prisoners per capita than any other country on Earth, except the Seychelles.
And as a further result, almost all conversations, but especially public discourses, are now being controlled by so-called ‘political correctness’ and its variants.
But back to the culture of fear and punishment.
Look at the headlines of the Western newspapers. For example, The New York Times from April 12. 2018: “Punishment of Syria may be harsher this time”.
We are so used to such perverse language used by the Empire that it hardly strikes us as twisted, bizarre, pathological.
It stinks of some sadomasochistic cartoon, or of a stereotypical image of an atrocious English teacher holding a ruler over a pupil’s extended hands, shouting, “Shall I?”
Carl Gustav Jung described Western culture, on several occasions, as a “pathology”. He did it particularly after WWII, but he mentioned that the West had been committing terrible crimes in all parts of the world, for centuries. That is most likely why the Western mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists have been glorifying the ego-centric and generally apolitical Sigmund Freud, while ignoring, even defaming, Carl Gustav Jung.
Poster of human zoo at Military Museum in Paris (Photo: Andre Vltchek)
The extreme form of sadism is a medical condition; it is an illness. And the West has been clearly demonstrating disturbing and dangerous behavioral patterns for many centuries.
Let’s look at the definition of sadism, or professionally, Sadistic Personality Disorder (SPD), which both the United States and Europe could easily be diagnosed with.
This is an excerpt of a common definition of the SPD, which appears in Medigoo.com and on many other on-line sites:
…The sadistic personality disorder is characterized by a pattern of gratuitous cruelty, aggression, and demeaning behaviors which indicate the existence of deep-seated contempt for other people and an utter lack of empathy. Some sadists are “utilitarian”: they leverage their explosive violence to establish a position of unchallenged dominance within a relationship…
It is familiar, isn’t it? The Empire’s behavior towards Indochina, China, Indonesia, Africa, Latin America, Russia, the Middle East and other parts of the world.
US sponsored coup in Chile on 9-11-1973 (Photo: Andre Vltchek)
What about the symptoms?
…Sadistic individuals have poor behavioral controls, manifested by a short temper, irritability, low frustration tolerance, and a controlling nature. From an interpersonal standpoint, they are noted to be harsh, hostile, manipulative, lacking in empathy, cold-hearted, and abrasive to those they deem to be their inferiors. Their cognitive nature is considered rigid and prone to social intolerance, and they are fascinated by weapons, war, and infamous crimes or perpetrators of atrocities. Sadists classically are believed to seek social positions that enable them to exercise their need to control others and dole out harsh punishment or humiliation…
Just translate “sadistic individuals” to “sadistic states”, or “sadistic culture”.
Is there any cure? Can a sadist be effectively and successfully treated?
Treating a sadistic personality disorder takes a long time…
And many sites and publications carry a clear disclaimer:
The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency…
And humanity is right now clearly at the crossroads, facing annihilation, not only a ‘medical emergency’. The world may soon have to literally fight for its survival. It is because of the SPD of the West and its Empire.
So, what is in store for us now; for instance, for Syria?
What will the sadistic psychopath do to a country that refused to kneel, to prostitute itself, to beg for mercy, to sacrifice its people?
How horrible will the “punishment” be?
We have just witnessed 103 missiles being fired towards Damascus and Homs. But that is only what the Empire did to entertain its masses. It has been doing much more evil and cruel things to the nation which constantly refuses to glorify the Western imperialist and its neocon dogmas. For instance, the Empire’s ‘professionals’ have been manufacturing, training and arming the most atrocious terrorist groups and injecting them into the body of Syria.
The torture will, of course, continue. It clearly appears that this time the script will be based on some latter adaptation of the Marquise de Sade’s work, on his novel Juliette, not Justine. You see, in Justine, women were ‘only’ tied up, slapped and raped. In Juliette, they were cut to pieces, alive; they were burned and mutilated.
While Justine can still be read, no normal human being could go through the 700 pages of pure gore that is Juliette.
But our planet has somehow got used to the horrors that have been administered by the sick Western Empire.
People watch occurrences in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq or Libya as ‘news’, not as the medical record of a severely ill psychiatric patient.
The most terrible ‘novel’ in the history of our Planet has been written, for centuries, by the appalling brutality and sadism of first Europe and then by its younger co-author – the United States.
And the human beings in many parts of our Planet have gotten so used to the carnage which surrounds them that they do not throw up anymore; they do not feel horrified, do not revolt against their fate. They just watch, as one country after another falls; is violated publicly, gets ravaged.
The mental illness of the perpetrator is undeniable. And it is contagious.
Names of, and photos of, murdered Chilean people by pro-US military junta (Photo: Andre Vltchek)
In turn, the extreme violence that has been engulfing the world has triggered various neuroses and mental conditions (masochism, extreme forms of submission, to name just two of many) among the victims.
Exposure to the constant and extreme violence ‘prescribed’ and administered by the West, has left most of the world in a neurotic lethargy.
Like a woman locked in a marriage with a brutal religious fanatic husband in some oppressive society, the world has eventually stopped resisting against the Western dictates and tyranny, and ‘accepted its fate’.
Many parts of the planet have developed ‘Stockholm Syndrome’: after being kidnapped, imprisoned, tormented, raped and humiliated, the victims have ‘fallen in love’ with their tyrant, adopting his worldview, while serving him full-heartedly and obediently.
This arrangement, of course, has nothing to do with the healthy or natural state of things!
Poster of Human Zoo at Military Museum, Paris (Photo: Andre Vltchek)
In Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, bizarre things are happening! People from those nations that have been robbed and devastated for centuries by the European and North American despots, have been flying happily and proudly to Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid, New York and other Western cities, in order to ‘learn’, to ‘study’ how to govern their own countries. There is usually no shame, and no stigma attached to such obvious intellectual prostitution.
Many victims are still dreaming about becoming like their victimizers, or even more so.
Many former and modern-day colonies of the West are listening, with straight faces, to the Europeans preaching to them (for a fee) about ‘good governance’, an ‘anti-corruption drive’ and ‘democracy’.
The media outlets of non-Western nations are taking news reports directly from Western press agencies. Even local political events are explained by those ‘wise’ and ‘superior’ Europeans and North Americans, not by the local thinkers. Locals are hardly ever trusted – only white faces with polished English, French or German accents are taken seriously.
Perverse? Is it perverse? Of course, it is! Many servile intellectuals from the ‘client’ states, when confronted, admit how sick the continuous global dictatorship is. Then they leave the table and continue to do what they have been doing for years and decades; the oldest profession in short.
Freedom Equality Brotherhood. For French maybe but not for colonized Vietnamese (Photo: Andre Vltchek)
Such a situation is truly insane. Or at least it is extremely paradoxical, bizarre, absurd. Even a mental clinic appears to make more sense than our beloved planet Earth.
However, clinical psychiatrists and psychologists are very rarely involved in analyzing the neuroses and psychological illnesses of the brutalized and colonized planet. They hardly ever ‘analyze’ the perpetrators, let alone expose them for what they really are.
Most of psychologists and psychiatrists are busy digging gold: encouraging human egotism, or even serving big corporations that are trying to ‘understand their employees better’, in order to control and to exploit them more effectively. Other ‘doctors’ go so far as to directly serve the Empire, helping to oppress and to ‘pacify’ the billions living in the colonies and new colonies of the West.
In 2015, I was invited as one of the speakers to the 14th International Symposium on the Contributions of Psychology to Peace, held in Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa (hosted by legendary UNISA).
During that fascinating encounter of the leading global psychologists, I spoke about the impact of wars and imperialism on the human psyche, but I also listened, attentively. And I learned many shocking things. For instance, during his chilling presentation, “Human Rights and U. S. Psychologists’Wrongs: The Undermining of Professional Ethics in an Era of ‘Enhanced Interrogation’”, Professor Michael Wessells from Columbia University, New York, spoke about U.S. psychologists and their participation in torturing political prisoners.
Instead of diagnosing the Empire with SPD and other violent and dangerous conditions, many psychologists are actually helping to torture those who are opposing this unacceptable arrangement of the world.
Those who refuse to ‘learn from the West’, to fall in love with it, or at least to serve it faithfully, are being brutally punished.
Lashes are hitting exposed flesh. Entire nations are being destroyed, genocides distributed to all continents. East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq: it never stops.
I follow the discourses of the US and especially British UN delegations, ‘discussing’ Syria and even Russia. What comes to my mind is Punjab in India. I recall those old, historic photos of Indian men being hanged by the Brits, pants down, and flogged in public.
They have been doing this kind of stuff for centuries. They like it. It clearly excites them. This is their democracy, their respect for human rights and for other cultures!
If someone refuses to take his or her pants down, they catch the person, rape him or her, then do the flogging anyway.
I also recall what my Ugandan friend used to tell me:
When the Brits came to Africa, to what is now Uganda, their army would enter our villages and first thing they’d do was to select the tallest and strongest man around. They’d then tie him up, face towards the tree. Then the British commander would rape, sodomize him in front of everybody. This was how they showed the locals who is charge.
Brits enjoying Africa
How healthy is the culture that has been controlling our world for centuries!
One of the most frightening things about mental illnesses is that the patient usually does not realize that he or she is suffering from them.
It is about the time for the rest of the world to treat the West as a mental patient, not as the ‘leader of the free and democratic world’.
We have to think, to gather, to develop a strategy of how to deal with this unfortunate, in fact, terrible situation!
If we refuse to understand and to act, we may all end up in the most dangerous situation: as complacent servants of the perverse whims of a frustrated, extremely aggressive and truly dangerous SPD patient.
[Haaretz, like the rest of the Western press is reporting the strike as another attack on another pro-Syrian base, largely manned by Iranians, which Iran obviously denies. Iran reports the attack as a US/British missile attack from bases in Northern Jordan.]
Syria Military Bases Attacked by Missiles Fired from Jordan: Sources
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Several Syria military bases in the provinces of Hama and Aleppo were attacked on Sunday night reportedly by missiles fired from US and UK bases in Jordan
According to Syria’s state news agency on Sunday, “a new aggression with hostile missiles” happened at 10:30 pm local time, in which military positions in the Hama and Aleppo villages were targeted.
While the origins of the attacks are not clear yet, some Syrian media sources said the nine missiles had been fired from US and British bases in north of Jordan.
The attacks came several weeks after Russia and Syria said Israeli warplanes struck an air base in the Syrian province of Homs.
It also comes a few weeks after, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical attack against Douma. Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the suspected assault.
The Syrian government has strongly denied the allegation, calling on Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission for investigations.
SEOUL, South Korea: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told his South Korean counterpart at their historic summit that he would be willing to give up his nuclear weapons if the U.S. commits to a formal end to the Korean War and a pledge not to attack the North, Seoul officials said Sunday.
Kim also vowed during his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday to shut down the North’s nuclear test site in May and disclose the process to experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States, Seoul’s presidential office said.
While there are lingering questions about whether North Korea will ever decide to fully relinquish its nukes as it heads into negotiations with the U.S., Kim’s comments amount to the North’s most specific acknowledgement yet that “denuclearization” would constitute surrendering its weapons.
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton reacted coolly to word that Kim would abandon his weapons if the United States pledged not to invade.
Asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” whether the U.S. would make such a promise, Bolton said: “Well, we’ve heard this before. This is – the North Korean propaganda playbook is an infinitely rich resource.”
“What we want to see from them is evidence that it’s real and not just rhetoric,” he added.
Seoul officials, who have shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to broker talks between Kim and President Donald Trump that are expected in May or June, said Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons.
But there has been skepticism because North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of “denuclearization” that bears no resemblance to the American definition. The North has long vowed to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its 28,500 troops from South Korea and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.
During their summit at a truce village on the border, Moon and Kim promised to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula but made no references to verification or timetables.
Kim also expressed optimism about his meeting with Trump, Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan said.
“Once we start talking, the United States will know that I am not a person to launch nuclear weapons at South Korea, the Pacific or the United States,” Kim said, according to Yoon.
Yoon also quoted Kim as saying: “If we maintain frequent meetings and build trust with the United States and receive promises for an end to the war and a non-aggression treaty, then why would we need to live in difficulty by keeping our nuclear weapons?”
The Korean Peninsula technically remains in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War was halted with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The closing of the nuclear test site would be a dramatic but likely symbolic event to set up Kim’s summit with Trump. North Korea already announced this month that it has suspended all tests of nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistic missiles and plans to close its nuclear testing ground.
Still, Adam Mount, a senior defense analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said Kim’s comments were significant because they are his most explicit acknowledgement yet that denuclearization means surrendering his nuclear weapons.
“Questions remain about whether Kim will agree to discuss other nuclear technology, fissile material and missiles. However, they imply a phased process with reciprocal concessions,” Mount said in an email. “It is not clear that the Trump administration will accept that kind of protracted program.”
Analysts reacted with skepticism to Kim’s previously announced plan to close down the test site at Punggye-ri, saying the northernmost tunnel had already become too unstable to use for underground detonations anyway following the country’s sixth and most powerful test blast in September.
In his conversation with Moon, Kim denied that he would be merely clearing out damaged goods, saying the site also has two new tunnels that are larger than previous testing facilities, Yoon said.
Some analysts see Moon’s agreement with Kim at the summit as a disappointment, citing the lack of references to verification and timeframes and also the absence of a definition on what would constitute a “complete” denuclearization of the peninsula.
But Patrick McEachern, a former State Department analyst now with the Washington-based Wilson Center, said it was still meaningful that Moon extracted a commitment from Kim to complete denuclearization, which marked a significant change from Kim’s previous public demand to expand his arsenal of nuclear weapons in number and quality.
“The public conversation should now shift from speculation on whether North Korea would consider denuclearization to how South Korea and the United States can advance this denuclearization pledge in concrete steps in light of North Korea’s reciprocal demands for concrete steps toward an eventual peace agreement,” McEachern said in an email.
North Korea has invited the outside world to witness the dismantling of its nuclear facilities before. In June 2008, international broadcasters were allowed to air the demolition of a cooling tower at the Nyongbyon reactor site, a year after the North reached an agreement with the U.S. and four other nations to disable its nuclear facilities in return for an aid package worth about $400 million.
But the deal eventually collapsed after North Korea refused to accept U.S.-proposed verification methods, and the country went on to conduct its second nuclear test detonation in May 2009.
Yoon said Kim also revealed plans to sync its time zone with South Korea’s. The Koreas had used the same time zone for decades before the North created its own “Pyongyang Time” in 2015 by setting the clock 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan.
Yoon said the North’s decision to return to Seoul’s time zone was aimed at facilitating communication with South Korea and the U.S.
[American media is laying the groundwork to contest charges that the CIA and Pentagon have been active supporters of ISIS since its inception, first as Al Qaeda In Iraq, way back in Camp Bucca, Iraq, the acknowledged birthplace of ISIS (SEE: What Is the Truth About ISIS?). Preparing to perform the traditional Mainstream Media “JUDO FLIP of Truth”, this is where the Pentagon’s official press tries to lay the crime for creating ISIS on the doorstep of the Syrian Govt.
The Pentagon created Al-Qaeda In Iraq and used it to fill a propaganda hole in the Iraq narrative being produced by Washington’s Hollywood hit men, where it first convinced the people that it was a terrorist army, and then suffered the terrible JUDO FLIP, in the form of the Pentagon’s fiercest retribution, before being nearly wiped-out in 2010. Through huge injections of men, materiel and money into the protected Anbar terrorist nursery, the terrorist army which nearly perished as AQ In Iraq became Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), before the Pentagon facilitated its move into Syria. There, the new terrorist army ran on petrodollars and Pentagon/CIA direction, to nearly overrun the Syrian Army.
At that point, ISIS suffered its first JUDO FLIP, after they became a target for US bombers and missiles. ISIL put up token resistance, slaughtering plenty of innocent Syrian civilians, while the Pentagon used their antics as fodder for the Nightly News fake news, until Russia forced the Pentagon’s hand by eliminating all of the Pentagon’s terrorist army within bomber/missile range.
Now we are witnesses to the latest JUDO FLIP psyop, where Syria/Russia are blamed for all Islamist terrorism, all of it Sunni terrorism, having nothing to do with Iran.]
“We consider this aggression by regime forces to be a support for terrorism and falls within the attempts to impede the war on terrorism.”
Syrian government forces on Sunday briefly captured four villages east of the Euphrates River in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour after rare clashes with U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters before losing the area in a counteroffensive by the Kurdish-led force.
The area close to the border with Iraq has been the site of recent clashes between the two sides who had been focusing on fighting the Islamic State group. The IS had declared its caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq.
Crossings into the east bank of the Euphrates in eastern Syria by government forces have been rare.
State news agency SANA said the villages were held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, adding that they are close to the provincial capital, also called Deir el-Zour. The SDF said in a statement later that it regained control of the whole area it earlier lost.
Much of Deir el-Zour province was held by the Islamic State group but over the past year Syrian government forces captured most areas west of the Euphrates while SDF fighters took areas east of the river.
On Feb. 7, pro-Syrian government fighters attacked SDF positions east of the river and faced a ferocious U.S. counterattack that left dozens, including Russians, dead.
SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel said in a statement earlier Sunday that the Syrian army attack coincided with “our forces’ preparations to complete the Island Storm campaign” to liberate the remaining areas east of the river from IS. Gabriel said the Syrian army and pro-government fighters began targeting SDF fighters to impede “the launching of our campaign against terrorism. Our forces are responding in self-defense.”
“We affirm that we are determined to eradicate terrorism from its roots and to assert our right to self-defense,” Gabriel said about IS.
“We consider this aggression by regime forces to be a support for terrorism and falls within the attempts to impede the war on terrorism.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said Sunday’s offensive left six SDF fighters dead and 22 wounded adding that there were also casualties on the government side.
Gabriel issued another statement later saying all the area lost earlier was regained by SDF fighters. He said Syrian troops were backed by Russian fighters adding that after the SDF’s counteroffensive, government forces “are now far away.”
The Observatory’s chief Rami Abdurrahman said SDF fighters took back most of the area except for one village.
The fighting in eastern Syria came as Syrian state media and the Observatory reported that an agreement was reached between the Syrian government and several rebel factions to evacuate the last three rebel-held suburbs of the capital Damascus.
SANA said the deal will let opposition fighters who want to evacuate the area head to rebel-held regions while those who decide to stay can hand over their weapons and benefit from an amnesty.
The Observatory said rebels who will leave will head to the northwestern province of Idlib, the northern town of Jarablus, and the southern province of Daraa that borders Jordan.
The three suburbs of Babila, Beit Sahem and Yalda have been held by rebels for years and their capture would bring all suburbs of the capital under government control.
The agreement came as government forces captured more areas from the IS in the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and the neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad.
SANA said troops captured most of the Qadam neighborhood as well as the Assali and Joura quarters in Hajar Aswad.
Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef contributed to this report from Cairo.
Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. has basically eliminated the only real international authority the U.N. used to have. Here is how this was done:
The equivalent, in international law, to a domestic-law crime involving murder, rape, and theft, is an international invasion that’s purely for aggressive purposes and not at all authentically a defensive act against an authentic foreign threat that was coming from the invaded foreign country. Consequently, for the U.S. Government now to have removed the U.N. from any authority over international invasions, is, in domestic-law equivalency, like removing a national government from authority regarding murders, rapes, and thefts, which occur inside that nation. Such a ‘government’ is no government at all. But, tragically, this is what has happened; and, so, we are now careening into World War III, in this international “Wild West” world, which we live in (and may soon die in, as things thus head into WW III).
The U.S. Government no longer even nominally cares whether or not the U.N. authorizes its invasions; but, as recently as 2003, it used to, even if only nominally, care. The U.S. has thus effectively discarded the U.N. altogether, whenever violating the U.N. is the only way to impose its will against a given target-country.
In late 2002 and early 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush nominally expressed a desire for the U.N. to authorize an invasion of Iraq, but failed to receive that authorization and then did the invasion anyway, along with only UK, Australia, and Poland, joining the U.S.-led gang, in this destruction of Iraq.
At a press conference on 6 March 2003, just 11 days before he (on March 17th) ordered the U.N. weapons-inspectors to leave Iraq, and then invaded Iraq on March 20th, Bush said:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you said, the Security Council faces a vote next week on a resolution implicitly authorizing an attack on Iraq. Will you call for a vote on that resolution, even if you aren’t sure you have the vote?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, I don’t think — it basically says that he’s in defiance of 1441. That’s what the resolution says. And it’s hard to believe anybody is saying he isn’t in defiance of 1441, because 1441 said he must disarm. And, yes, we’ll call for a vote.
Q No matter what?
THE PRESIDENT: No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It’s time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.
Q Mr. President, are you worried that the United States might be viewed as defiant of the United Nations if you went ahead with military action without specific and explicit authorization from the U.N.?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m not worried about that. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to say the United States is defiant about the United Nations, when I was the person that took the issue to the United Nations, September the 12th, 2002. We’ve been working with the United Nations. We’ve been working through the United Nations.
Subsequent U.S. Presidents haven’t been even that respectful of the U.N.’s authority; and current U.S. President Donald Trump is blatantly dismissive of it, so that he’s not even requesting U.N. authorization for his invasions.
Thus, the lesson that the U.S. Government learned from the Iraq invasion isn’t that the U.S. Government should never again lie about what the evidence actually shows, in order to invade a country, but instead that the U.S. Government should simply ignore the U.N. whenever the evidence doesn’t persuade other Governments that an invasion would be authentically defensive instead of purely an act of international aggression.
What might turn out to have been “The Most Important U.N. Security Council Vote Ever” was the 10 April 2018 U.N. Security Council’s failure to require the U.S. and its allies to provide evidence to prove that Syria’s Government had gassed its own people in Douma on April 7th as the U.S. and its allies alleged, before the U.S. and its allies could, with even just possible legal justification, launch a promised massive bombing of Syria as supposed punishment for the gas-attack that they were alleging. The question of whether or not the U.N. would authorize the American invasion wasn’t even being raised; the question was only whether the alleged gas-attack needed to be independently verified before an invasion might possibly legally be launched — and no proposal was passed. Unlike in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. never tried to win U.N. authorization to invade Syria in 2018, but simply invaded, casually ignoring all laws, and even denying the need for evidence to back up its allegations against Syria.
If the Russian Government’s proposal that the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must investigate the case and issue a report on its findings, before any action, such as an invasion, is done by any country, had passed the Security Council, then that would be applying standard legal and juridical practice (that no punishment be imposed unless and until guilt has been proven), and likely no invasion of Syria (such as occurred on April 14th) would have been done, at least until the OPCW’s report is issued. But the U.S. and its allies refused to adhere even to this, the minimal legal requirement in any democracy. They instead demanded, and won, a U.S.-and-allied international dictatorship — a lawless, might-makes-right, international world.
A U.N. like this is, essentially, no U.N. at all, just a talking-forum — and that’s what now exists: it’s a forum merely for the constituent Governments to present their respective propagandas to the world, but no longer actually to negotiate anything, since the U.N. has no military, and now the U.S. Government has become effectively whatever the U.S. military (including its armaments corporations such as General Dynamics) want it to be — and, “To hell with the U.N.!” The way now to buy the U.S. Government has become to buy those corporations’ weapons, and then the U.S. Government will ally itself with that country. This is purely transactional, in the interests of America’s armaments-firms, not in the interests of the invading public, and certainly destructive of the interests of the invaded public, no matter how profitable it may be for the owners of those armaments-firms. (One can talk instead about “Wall Street,” but they’re mainly the sellers of stock in America’s armaments-firms and associated products and services; so, they are middle-men who represent the interests of the aristocracy, not really themselves necessarily principals — people who are within the aristocracy.)
President Trump came into office promising a rebirth of American manufacturing, but, so far, the vast majority of his boost to U.S. manufacturing has been only to the U.S. weapons-manufacturers — actually by far the largest international arms-sale in world history. On 21 May 2017, I headlined it “U.S. $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements U.S.-Jihadist Alliance” and reported that the day before, “
U.S. President Donald Trump and the Saud family inked an all-time record-high $350 billion ten-year arms-deal that not only will cement-in the Saud family’s position as the world’s largest foreign purchasers of U.S.-produced weaponry, but will make the Saud family, and America’s ruling families, become, in effect, one aristocracy over both nations, because neither side will be able to violate the will of the other. As the years roll on, their mutual dependency will deepen, each and every year.” That, sadly, has turned out to be true — and not only regarding America’s carrying the Sauds’ water (doing their bidding) in both Yemen and Syria, but in other ways as well.
, and reported what Trump had just negotiated with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, which was a step-up in that $350 billion sale, to $400 billion. CNBC associated the Sauds’ arms-purchases with ‘investments’ in the U.S., so as to mislead their audience to think favorably of these sales, but if these sales were actually investments in anything, it was in the ability of the Saud family to join even more fully with America’s aristocracy so as for them jointly to impose their will upon any country where they both want “regime-change” — control by themselves, instead of by that invaded country’s local aristocracy. (Then, the U.S. Government issues economic sanctions against Russia for ‘interfering in our democracy’. But the Sauds, and their allies, Israel’s aristocracy, actually do precisely that, routinely, and very effectively!) So: CNBC said: “During the Oval Office talks, Trump touted a creation of 40,000 American jobs due to Saudi military sales.
The president used several maps and charts of Saudi acquisitions to further make his point. The crown prince, likewise, added that last year’s Saudi pledge of $200 billion in investments will rise to approximately $400 billion and that a 10-year window to implement the deal was already under way.” That was a misleading statement about the amounts, too. Here is how Indian Express had headlined and reported on 18 May 2017: “Saudi Arabia to invest $200 billion in US, purchase arms worth $300 billion
”: “As President Donald Trump prepares for his first overseas trip, Saudi Arabia has announced to make a whopping USD 200 billion investment in the US and intends to purchase arms worth USD 300 billion from America, a senior administration official has said.” There, too, the Saudi masters got their propagandists to refer to “investments” in relation to “purchase arms worth $300 billion,” which turned out, just two days later, on 20 May 2017, to be actually $350 billion — and which amount of arms-purchases now has risen instead to $400 billion, which will be paid, as listed in that CNBC news-report to: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Honeywell, and Raytheon. When Trump campaigned for the Presidency, he had promised to be anything but a sales-person for America’s war-machine. But, he is so, and this is fascism: socialism for the rich, and ‘survival of the fittest’ for everyone else. Trump certainly isn’t a sales-person for the poor, anywhere. He’s what his fellow-fascists call a ‘populist’, in order to insult the public that they must appeal to for votes.
American ‘productivity’ thus will increase in the production of death and destruction; but, as economists view things, that is “productivity” and added “Gross National Product,” regardless of how much it actually immiserates the world (and, so, economic theory is part of the fraud that enables all of this, essentially, corruption). Thus, economic theory is as fraudulent as is the international ‘news’ that the propaganda-agencies spread to the public. It’s all a “pile of bull,” but lots of consumers are buying it, because it’s all that they know and it satisfies them — they’re not even looking for more than the myths.
Previously, the “Biggest Arms Deal in History” was between UK’s aristocracy and the Sauds, the Al-Yamamah deal, which boosted UK’s biggest weapons-maker, BAE, and in which the massive corruption became the subject of scandals and a Governmental inquiry, which Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud forced UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to close with no report being issued. And both the UK and U.S. claim to be ‘democracies’ — and both Governments accuse Russia of ‘interfering’ in their ‘democracy’!
If the reader wants to know why a web-search for the title of this article “How U.S. Has Virtually Destroyed U.N.” probably turns up no mainstream ‘news’media in the U.S.-allied world, and even very few “alternative news” sites, then the reason isn’t that they weren’t offered the article, because they all routinely receive the submission of each of my articles but routinely turn them down. The reason is instead that the most important truths are prohibited from publication in the U.S.-allied world — it’s a world dominated by lies. After all: we invaded and destroyed Iraq for no real defensive reason, and our Government has never apologized for that, much less been held accountable, at all, for it. And now, because of the U.S. Government, the U.N. isn’t even really a debating-forum, any more. It’s just a propaganda-forum, now.
Seven years after the popular uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and the NATO intervention that removed him from power, Libya is extremely fractured and a source of regional instability. But while Congress has heavily scrutinized the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi a year after Gaddafi’s overthrow and death, there has been no U.S. investigation into the broader question of what led the U.S. and its allies to intervene so disastrously in Libya.
However, a corruption investigation into former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is opening a new window into little-known motivations in the NATO alliance that may have accelerated the rush to oust the Libyan dictator.
Last month, French police detained and questioned Sarkozy about illicit payments Gaddafi is said to have made to Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign. A few days after Sarkozy was released from detention, he was ordered to stand trial for corruption and influence-peddling in a related case, in which he had sought information on the Gaddafi inquiry from an appeals court judge. The scandal has highlighted a little-appreciated bind that Sarkozy faced in the run-up to the Libyan intervention: The French president, who took the lead among Europeans in the military campaign against Gaddafi, was eager to compensate for diplomatic blunders in Tunisia and Egypt and most likely angry about an arms deal with Gaddafi that went awry. Sarkozy, it now appears, was eager to shift the narrative to put himself at the forefront of a pro-democracy, anti-Gaddafi intervention.
Libya today is divided between three rival governments and a myriad of armed groups backed by external powers like the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Security gaps have allowed terrorist groups to step up operations there and permitted a flow of weapons across the Sahara, contributing to destabilizing the Sahel region of northern Africa. The lack of political authority in Tripoli has also opened the door for the migrant crisis in Europe, with Libya serving as a gateway for migrants to escape Africa via the Mediterranean Sea. Although far fewer people have died in the Libyan conflict than in Iraq or Syria, the problems Libya faces seven years after NATO’s fateful intervention are no less complex, and often have more direct impact on Europe than what’s happening in Syria and Iraq.
A History of Corruption
The story of Sarkozy’s strange relationship with Gaddafi begins in 2003, when the United Nations lifted harsh sanctions against Libya that were imposed in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing.
After the sanctions were gone, Gaddafi looked to foster a cleaner, more legitimate image in Western circles. He found particularly eager suitors in British oil and gas companies, as well as Tony Blair, then the British prime minister, who saw lucrative business possibilities in the country. Libyan spy agencies also closely collaborated with MI6, their British counterpart, under the broad umbrella of counterterrorism.
France was also developing a close business and intelligence relationship with Libya. In 2006, Gaddafi bought a surveillance system from a French company, i2e, which boasted about its close ties with Sarkozy, who at the time was France’s interior minister. In 2007, after he was elected president, Sarkozy received Gaddafi for a five-day state visit, Gaddafi’s first trip to France in over 30 years.
During the visit, Gaddafi said Libya would purchase $5.86 billion of French military equipment, including 14 Rafale fighter jets made by Dassault Aviation. Military sales “lock in relations between two countries for 20 years,” noted Michel Cabirol, an editor at the French weekly La Tribune, who has written extensively on arms sales. “For Sarkozy, it was important to sell the Rafales because no one had sold them to a foreign country. In the case of Libya … it was one of his personal challenges at the time.” Cabirol reported for La Tribune that negotiations were still ongoing in July 2010, but Sarkozy never did complete the sale of the Rafales to Gaddafi.
Revelations about the Libyan payments to Sarkozy surfaced in March 2011, when the specter of an imminent NATO intervention loomed large. Gaddafi first asserted that he paid Sarkozy’s campaign in an interview two days before the first NATO bombs were dropped. His son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi made similar claims shortly thereafter. In 2012, the French investigative news website Mediapart published a Libyan document signed by Moammar Gaddafi’s spy chief, Moussa Koussa, arranging for 50 million euros to support Sarkozy’s campaign, which French authorities later found to be authentic.
Since the initial revelations, Ziad Takiéddine, a French-Lebanese arms dealer who had helped arrange Sarkozy’s visit to Libya when Sarkozy was interior minister in 2005, has testified in court that he fetched suitcases stuffed with millions of euros in cash in Libya and delivered them by hand to Sarkozy in late 2006 and early 2007, when Sarkozy was still interior minister but preparing his presidential campaign. Sarkozy’s aide at the time, Claude Guéant (who became interior minister after the election), had opened a large vault at BNP in Paris for seven months during the campaign. The former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi has asserted in media interviews that payments were made. French authorities have also examined handwritten notes by Gaddafi’s oil minister, Shukri Ghanem, that detailed three payments totaling 6.5 million euros to Sarkozy.
Austrian police found Ghanem’s body in the Danube in Vienna on April 29, 2012, one week after the first round of presidential elections that the incumbent Sarkozy was contesting, and one day after Mediapart revealed the document signed by Koussa. The American ambassador to Libya at the time, the late Chris Stevens, wrote in an email to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in June 2012 that “not one Libyan I have spoken to believes he flung himself into the Danube, or suddenly clutched his heart in pain and slipped silently into the river. Most believe he was silenced by regime members or else by foreign mafia types.”
One of the Libyans who is said to have organized the payments, the head of the Libyan investment portfolio at the time, Bashir Saleh, was smuggled out of Libya and into Tunisia by French special forces, according to Mediapart. Sarkozy confidante Alexandre Djouhri then flew Saleh from Tunis to Paris on a private jet shortly after Gaddafi was toppled. Saleh lived in France for about a year and reportedly met with Bernard Squarcini, head of France’s secret services, despite an Interpol arrest warrant against him. “The judicial investigation shows that within the Gaddafi regime, Bashir Saleh had the most thorough records relating to French funding,” said Fabrice Arfi, one of two Mediapart journalists who has covered the affair since 2011. “He is suspected of having swapped the records for help from France to save him from the jaws of the revolution.”
Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi listens to his private secretary at the Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on March 1, 2003. Photo: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images
In 2012, Paris Match published a photograph showing Saleh walking freely in Paris despite the arrest warrant, and he was forced to leave the city. He flew to Johannesburg, where he has been living ever since. In March, shortly after his ally, former South African President Jacob Zuma, was ousted from power, Saleh was shot while coming back to his house from the airport in Johannesburg. Saleh is wanted for questioning in the Sarkozy affair by French judges.
Even Sarkozy’s successor, François Hollande, has implied that Gaddafi funded the Sarkozy campaign. In Hollande’s book, “A President Shouldn’t Say That,” while comparing himself to Sarkozy, Hollande wrote that “as President of the Republic, I was never held for questioning. I never spied on a judge, I never asked anything of a judge, I was never financed by Libya.”
Sarkozy’s corruption in Libya is not the first time a French president or top political figure has received illicit funds in exchange for political favors. Indeed, “Sarkozy’s corruption fits into a deeply ingrained, time-honored tradition in Paris,” said Jalel Harchaoui, Libya scholar at Paris 8 University. “In the 1970s, you had the scandal of Bokassa’s diamonds, which President [Valéry] Giscard accepted and took. You also have the “Karachi affair” involving kickbacks paid to senior French politicians via French weaponry sold to Pakistan in the 1990s. You also had Omar Bongo’s tremendous influence in Paris politics for years on end.”
Sarkozy and the Bombing of Libya
Sarkozy was an early and vocal advocate of the Western decision to intervene in Libya, but his real military zeal and desire for regime change came only after Clinton and the Arab League broadcasted their desire to see Gaddafi go and showed that they “wished to avoid the limelight,” said Harchaoui. The Arab League had suspended Libya on February 22, 2011, and in the following days, calls for a no-fly zone grew louder. This “create[d] a framework in which France knows the war is likely to get initiated soon,” said Harchaoui.
By February 26, William Burns, under secretary for political affairs at the State Department, had spoken with Sarkozy’s top diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte. Burns reported in an email to Clinton’s team that “on Libya, French strongly supportive of our measures,” but that there were “Fr concerns on NATO role,” likely meaning that France didn’t want a full-blown NATO intervention at that point.
Two weeks later, Sarkozy made his first significant move to show that France, rather than being hesitant, had decided to take the lead in the fight against Gaddafi. On March 10, 2011, Sarkozy became the first head of state to recognize the National Transitional Council as Libya’s legitimate government. At the time, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said recognizing the NTC was “a crazy move by France.” Crazy or not, France was now in the lead in Europe. According to a British parliamentary inquiry into the intervention in 2016, “UK policy followed decisions taken in France.”
Sarkozy’s foreign minister at the time, Alain Juppé, then introduced United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for a no-fly zone over Libya, ostensibly in order to protect an impending massacre of civilians in Benghazi by Gaddafi. Although American diplomats drafted the resolution, Juppé was the Western diplomat who argued most passionately for it, telling the Security Council that “we have very little time left — perhaps only a matter of hours” to prevent a massacre against civilians in Benghazi. The French emergence to the front line of the diplomatic push was an apparent reflection of Barack Obama’s doctrine of “leading from behind” and letting Europe occupy the limelight. Arab League support for the resolution helped create a broad coalition of powers, beyond just the West, and the Libyan deputy ambassador to the U.N.’s defection against Gaddafi helped push the resolution forward.
Two days after the resolution passed, Sarkozy held a meeting at the Élysée Palace on May 19 to plan the military strategy with Obama, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, other NATO leaders, and leaders of the Arab League. According to Liam Fox, the British defense secretary at the time, the summit “finished mid-afternoon and the first French sorties took place at 16.45 GMT.” A gung-ho Sarkozy had sent 20 French jets to carry out the first sorties without informing Fox, four hours ahead of schedule; the U.S. and U.K. launched cruise missiles shortly thereafter. By showcasing the Rafale jets in the Libya campaign and other wars in Mali and Syria, France ended up attracting eventual clients in Egypt, India, and Qatar.
Left/top: British aircraft readies for action ahead of the first British combat mission in the bombing of Libya, on March 19, 2011 in Oxfordshire, England. Right/bottom: Seen through night-vision lenses, the guided missile destroyer USS Barry fires Tomahawk cruise missiles along Libya’s Mediterranean coast in 2011.Left/top photo: SAC Neil Chapman/MoD/Getty Images. Right/bottom photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Nathanael Miller/US Navy/Corbis/Getty Images.
“Sarkozy has done a great job in getting the Rafale out there and hitting a convoy early on,” Reuters quoted a defense executive from a rival nation as saying at the time. “He will go to export markets and say this is what our planes can do.”
Why Sarkozy Went to War
Sarkozy’s zeal for military action stemmed from more than humanitarian concerns for rebellious Libyans in Benghazi who were endangered by Gaddafi’s wrath. Sarkozy’s reasoning included a mix of domestic, international, and personal reasons.
Sarkozy had found his administration out of step when the Arab Spring broke out in Tunisia. He had a strong relationship with Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and when security forces fired on massive street protests in January, instead of condemning the violence, Sarkozy’s foreign minister offered to share the “savoir-faire” of France’s security forces “in order to settle security situations of this type.”
“Sarkozy’s image as a modern leader was sullied by the Arab Spring,” said Pouria Amirshahi, a former Socialist deputy in the National Assembly who in 2013 had called for a French parliamentary inquiry into the Libya intervention. The Libyan war allowed him “to forget his serious political mistakes during the Tunisian revolution of January 2011.”
Arfi, the Mediapart journalist, cautioned against treating Sarkozy’s involvement in the war as strictly personal, though it’s also a vital element. “I don’t believe that Sarkozy brought France and other countries to war in Libya exclusively to whitewash himself,” said Arfi, who co-authored a book, “Avec les compliments du Guide,” which details the Gaddafi-Libya investigation. But, Arfi said, “It’s difficult to imagine that there wasn’t some kind of personal or private dimension to Sarkozy’s pro-war activism in 2011.”
The personal dimension that Arfi refers to would be Sarkozy’s interest in shifting the narrative that he had initially cultivated — as close to Gaddafi — to one that distanced him from the regime and any questions about his former proximity to Gaddafi, once he realized just how seriously the U.S. and Arab states wanted to get rid of the Libyan leader. “Once the war was triggered, [Sarkozy’s] attitude is deeply impacted by the scandal that he is the only one aware of at the time. So, it gives rise to a very uncompromising France pursuing a scenario where everything would be destroyed and everything related to the Gaddafis would be discredited,” Harchaoui said.
However, Adam Holloway, a Conservative member of the British House of Commons who was on the Foreign Affairs Committee when it published its 2016 report on Libya, ruled out the personal angle, saying that “if Mr. Sarkozy had taken money from Gaddafi, you might expect it to make him less likely to intervene, if anything. For this reason, I don’t really think this is a factor. … Indulging in regime change had nothing to do with intelligence (which should have said ‘Don’t do it’), but with David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy’s need to ‘do something.’”
For the Obama administration, the intervention in Libya was a humanitarian decision to stop Gaddafi from carrying out an assault against the besieged city of Benghazi. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in his autobiography that “Hillary threw her considerable clout behind Rice, Rhodes, and Power” and tipped the scale in favor of intervention. Clinton, national security adviser Susan Rice, White House adviser Ben Rhodes, and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power were instrumental in pushing the war forward; regime change was the goal regardless of Sarkozy’s personal relationship with the dictator.
“They were aggressive in pushing for the resolutions because they felt that they were the right thing to do. … It seemed a very realistic possibility that the regime was going to re-establish control throughout the country, particularly in eastern Libya, and if they did, there would be very harsh consequences for people deemed to be rebels,” said Libya historian Ronald Bruce St. John. The “timing of the intervention was dictated by the move on Benghazi by Gaddafi’s armored column,” explained New Yorker journalist Jon Lee Anderson.
But civilian protection is not always enough to warrant a NATO intervention, as violent repression of protests in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Arab world have shown. The U.K. parliamentary inquiry found that there was little hard evidence that Gaddafi was actually targeting civilians in his campaign to take back cities held briefly by rebel forces. Gaddafi’s long antagonistic relationship with the U.S., the fact that there were no prominent Libyans advocating for him in the U.S., and the fact that Gaddafi didn’t have strong allies like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad does in Russia and Iran, made him an easy target to rally against, said St. John.
The French position was nonetheless notable. Rather than have a key ally oppose intervention, as France had done with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, France was pushing hard for military action. A country that had previously acted as a partial brake on American intervention was now serving the opposite purpose of encouraging an intervention that turned into a catastrophe.
(Former deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, Nicolas Sarkozy’s former diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte, former Director for War Crimes and Atrocities on the National Security Council David Pressman, former deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Jake Sullivan, William Burns, and French Ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud all either declined to comment or did not respond when contacted for this article.)
President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Saturday evening, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Saturday evening, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
American leaders like to portray the United States as an exemplar of ethical conduct in the international system. The reality is far different, and it has been for decades. Throughout the Cold War, the United States embraced extremely repressive rulers, including the Shah of Iran, Nicaragua’s Somoza family, Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, all the while portraying them as noble members of the “Free World.” Such blatant hypocrisy and double standards continue today regarding both Washington’s own dubious behavior and the U.S. attitude toward the behavior of favored allies and friends.
The gap between professed values and actual policy is especially evident in the Middle East. U.S. officials routinely excoriate Syria and Iran, not only for their external behavior, but for manifestations of domestic abuse and repression. Some of those criticisms are valid. Both Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Iran’s clerical government are guilty of serious international misconduct and human-rights violations. But the credibility of Washington’s expressions of outrage is vitiated when those same officials remain silent, or even excuse, equally serious—and in some cases, more egregious—abuses that the United States and its allies commit.
Following the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons in early April, President Trump painted Assad as an exceptionally vile enemy. He immediately issued a tweet describing the Syrian leader as “an animal” who gassed his own people. In his subsequent address to the American people announcing punitive air and missile strikes, Trump charged that the incident confirmed “a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime. The evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead.” The president also blasted Russia and Iran for their longstanding sponsorship of Assad. “To Iran and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”
TAC’s Daniel Larison provided an apt response to that question. “Trump should know the answer, since he just hosted one of the chief architects of the war on Yemen that the U.S. has backed to the hilt for the last three years. Britain welcomed the Saudi crown prince earlier on, and France just hosted him in the last few days. All three have been arming and supporting the Saudis and their allies in Yemen no matter how many atrocities they commit.”
Indeed, the United States has been an outright accomplice in those atrocities, which among other tragic effects, has led to a cholera epidemic in Yemen. The U.S. military refuels Saudi coalition warplanes and provides intelligence to assist them in their attacks on Yemen—attacks that have exhibited total indifference about civilian casualties. A recent revelation implicates Washington in even more atrocious conduct. Evidence has emerged that Saudi forces have employed white phosphorous munitions, and that the United States supplied those foul weapons that inflict horrible burns on their victims. For U.S. leaders to criticize Syria for using chemical weapons in light of such behavior may reach a new level of hypocrisy.
Washington’s double standard also is evident regarding the international conduct of another U.S. ally: Turkey. U.S. officials reacted with a vitriolic denunciation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, but the reaction was—and remains—very different regarding Ankara’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the occupation of that country’s northern territory. Washington’s criticism was tepid even at the beginning, and it has become more so with the passage of time. Indeed, there is greater U.S. pressure on the government of Cyprus to accept a peace settlement that would recognize the legitimacy of the puppet Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus that Ankara established (and has populated with settlers from the Turkish mainland) and countenance the continued presence of Turkish troops. Although the United States initially imposed mild sanctions on Turkey for invading and occupying its neighbor, they were soon lifted. Sanctions imposed against Russia are stronger, and there is little prospect that they will be lifted, or even eased, in the foreseeable future.
Washington’s criticism of Turkey’s repeated military incursions into northern Iraq and northern Syria likewise have been barely audible. That has been the case even though the targets in Syria are Kurdish forces that aided the United States and its allies in their war against ISIS.
The flagrant U.S. double standard also is apparent in the disparate assessments of the domestic conduct of Iran and such U.S. allies as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley verbally eviscerates Tehran at every opportunity for repressing its population. When anti-government demonstrations erupted in several Iranian cities earlier this year, Haley was quick to embrace their cause. “The Iranian regime’s contempt for the rights of its people has been widely documented for many years,” she stated during a Security Council session. Haley added that the United States stood “unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation.”
Iran certainly does not resemble a Western-style democracy, but its political system is vastly more open than either Egypt’s or Saudi Arabia’s. Although the clerical Guardian Council excludes any candidate for office that it deems unacceptable, competing elections take place between individuals with often sharply contrasting views. President Hassan Rouhani won a new electoral mandate over a decidedly more hardline opponent in the May 2017 presidential election. Compared to some U.S. allies in the Middle East, Iran resembles a Jeffersonian democracy.
The Saudi royal family does not tolerate even a hint of domestic opposition. People have been imprisoned or beheaded merely for daring to criticize the regime. Saudi Arabia’s overall human-rights record is easily one of the worst in the world, as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented. It is a measure of just how stifling the system is that the government finally allowing women to drive is considered a radical reform. A similar suffocating miasma of repression exists in Egypt, where President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has imprisoned thousands of political opponents, executed hundreds, and wins rigged elections by absurd margins reminiscent of those in Soviet satellite countries during the Cold War.
Yet, President Trump and other U.S. officials express little criticism of those brutal, autocratic allies. Trump’s demeanor during his state visit to Riyadh last year bordered on fawning. Washington approves multi-billion-dollar arms deals for both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, despite their legendary human-rights abuses. As noted, the United States even continues to assist Saudi Arabia in its atrocity-ridden military intervention in Yemen.
There may be plausible geo-strategic reasons for persisting in such double standards. Iran, for example, has been openly hostile to the United States and its policy objectives since the fall of the Shah. It is not illogical for Washington to be intent on countering the influence of Tehran and its Syrian ally, even if that requires making common cause with other repressive regimes in the region. But U.S. leaders need to be candid with the American people and acknowledge that their decisions are based on cold calculations of national interest, not ethical considerations. They should at least spare us their pontificating and the pretense that they care about the rights or welfare of Middle Eastern populations. Washington’s policies indicate otherwise.
Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at The American Conservative, is the author or coauthor of 10 books on international affairs, including Perilous Partners: The Benefits and Pitfalls of America’s Alliances with Authoritarian Regime.
We are increasingly seeing the House of Saud’s blatant anti-Muslim policies pursued by the regime under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Statement – Islamic Human Rights Commission
Saudi Arabia has now become the financers of all US colonial policies in the Middle East and beyond. Not only are they handing over money to finance US wars but they are also financing the USA by buying arms for the specific purpose of getting Muslims to kill Muslims and targeting innocent civilians in Yemen and elsewhere. At the same time Saudi Arabia deliberately ignores and even undermines the cries of Palestinians, Kashmiris and the Rohingya in Myanmar.
The Saudi regime is paying millions to market itself with a new liberal mask but the reality of the oppression of ordinary Saudis is clear. Thousands of political prisoners are rotting away in jail and countless facing execution. The regimes domestic tyranny exposes its hypocrisy and the mask of liberalism for those who want to look beyond the regimes public relations exercise.
At the same time we see the Saudi regime is becoming more aggressive in its efforts to control the Arab League and OIC (which has traditionally had its headquarters in Saudi) claiming that they seek stability and peace; their actions are having complete opposite effect. They are promoting conflict where there should be harmony and tranquillity. The OIC in particular was created to support the Palestinian cause but is now under the influence and leadership of the Saudis who have abandoned the Palestinians and become promoters of the Zionist regime. It warrants the whole of the Muslim world and OIC member states to recognise that to support and liberate Palestine, the OIC must first be liberated from Saudi leadership.
We have to recognise that without holding regimes like Saudi accountable, we will not be able to hold others – like the Zionist regime and oppressive colonial powers – accountable.
On Sunday last week, the Arab League summit called for an international probe into the “criminal” use of chemical weapons in Syria and condemned what it saw as Iran’s interference in the affairs of other countries. The meeting opened only 24 hours after a barrage of strikes launched by the United States, Britain and France hit targets they said were linked to chemical weapons development in Syria, which was suspended from the league seven years ago.
Leaders at the Arab League summit have failed to discuss the US-led strikes that came as a result of the “criminal” alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar have previously issued statements in support of the action while Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon expressed concern.
On Monday 9 April, Human Rights groups urged French President Emmanuel Macron to pressure visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the war in Yemen, warning that Riyadh used French weapons in the conflict. The day after,President Emmanuel Macron defended French weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, but said he was concerned by the humanitarian situation and would host a conference on the issue before the summer.
The same day, a human rights group filed a lawsuit in a Paris court against Saudi Prince Mohammed, accusing him of complicity in torture and inhumane treatment in Yemen.The complaint on behalf of Taha Hussein Mohamed, director of the Legal Center for Rights and Development (LCRD), said the prince,is Saudi Arabia’s defence minister, was responsible for attacks that hit civilians in Yemen.
The same day, a human rights group filed a lawsuit in a Paris court against Saudi Prince Mohammed, accusing him of complicity in torture and inhumane treatment in Yemen. The complaint on behalf of Taha Hussein Mohamed, director of the Legal Center for Rights and Development (LCRD), said the prince, is Saudi Arabia’s defence minister, was responsible for attacks that hit civilians in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia continues to commit widespread violations of basic human rights. The most pervasive violations affect persons in the criminal justice system, women and girls, migrant workers, and religious minorities. Persecution of peaceful dissidents and independent human rights advocates is widespread. The Saudi -led coalition in Yemen has also committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law since it began military operations in March 2015.
The Israeli military is examining the circumstances surrounding a video showing a sniper shooting a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip, after which exuberant cheers are heard. It was not immediately clear where and when the video was taken.
According to the IDF, the video appears to document an incident that occurred several months ago, and the military will thoroughly investigate it.
In the video, a man is heard asking “Do you have a bullet in the barrel?” and saying “is it on him?” Another voice is then heard saying “I can’t see because of the wire” and noting that “there’s a little boy there.” The sniper then shoots and hits the Palestinians, while cries of enthusiasm are heard in the background. “Wow, what a video! Yes!” a man shouts, who adds: “Son of a bitch. What a video, here, run and get him out of there. Of course I filmed it.” Later, someone else is heard saying “Wow, someone was hit in the head,” “what a legendary video,” “he flew in the air,” and “get out, you sons of bitches.”
According to military protocol, all live fire directed at protests requires approval by the most senior leadership in the field, usually on instructions from a brigade commander or battalion commander.
The video has provoked reactions on social media from both left and right wing Israeli lawmakers.
Jamal Zahalka of the Joint List said the video “indicates to the rule. Israeli snipers killed unarmed Palestinian protesters in cold blood who were participating in a non-violent protest,” adding that it’s no wonder soldiers act this way when ministers, MKs, the media and the public opinion join the celebration and cheer for the mass killing of Palestinians.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid wrote on his Twitter account that he has full faith in IDF’s Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and IDF commanders who will “investigate the sniper video without hesitating and according to the IDF’s principles and orders. Israel’s moral fortitude is part of the national security, and is what gives us the quality advantage over our enemies.”
Likud MKs also responded to the video. Yehuda Glick said the video was “very hard to watch,” and added that the atmosphere was “troubling and disappointing.” Suspended MK Oren Hazan twittted: “What’s all the fuss about? it was noted in advance: anyone who approaches the fence, armed or not, is gonna get it. As it should be!”
Hazan added he was proud of the soldiers defending Israel, and that he hopes the video sends “a clearer message to the other side.”
It was reported Sunday that the military will launch an inquiry into the conduct of troops in the recent incidents on the Gaza Strip border, in which several protesters were killed by sniper fire. The investigation is to be headed by Brig. Gen. Moti Baruch, head of the General Staff’s Doctrine and Training Division. The military has not yet decided how many of the deaths are to be probed, but it appears that the probe will center on incidents in which the casualties were civilians, including the death on Friday of Palestinian photographer Yaser Murtaja.
According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, 32 Palestinians have been killed and 1,296 wounded by live fire and rubber bullets since protests near the border fence began on March 30. The rules of engagement permits sniper fire towards anyone who approaches the border fence with the intention to penetrate Israeli territory, with the permitted distance from the fence being 100 meters (328 feet). There is another fence in front of the border fence, and the rules allow shooting only the lower body of anyone who enters the territory between the two fences.
GAZA CITY, Palestine: In a sit-in tent camp near the Gaza border with Israel, a lecturer answered questions from activists grappling with the concept of nonviolent protest.
They asked what’s allowed, listing different actions. Throwing stones and holding rallies is permitted, he said. Throwing firebombs is a “maybe” and using knives a definite “no.”
Such workshops – held amid weekly mass marches on the border for the past month – are the latest sign of the Hamas’ search for new tactics for breaking the debilitating blockade of Gaza. Israel and Egypt closed the borders after Hamas overran Gaza in 2007, and Israel blockades the sea and controls the skies, making it increasingly difficult for the group to govern.
The border protests were the idea of grass-roots activists several months ago, and the project, envisioned as nonviolent, was quickly embraced by Hamas. The group has led the organization and been careful to contain the protests by keeping its armed men far away and out of sight.
Hamas has been supportive, said workshop lecturer Issam Hammad, a self-described independent who runs a medical supplies company.
“They encourage young people to take part.”
The large-scale protests are the only card the group has left, three high-ranking Hamas officials told the Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal strategy.
They said Hamas rules out other options – either disarming or fighting another cross-border war with Israel. The last conflict, in 2014, devastated Gaza, a coastal territory with 2 million people squeezed into just 365 square kilometers.
Bassem Naim, another senior Hamas official, believes the new method has refocused world attention on Gaza’s misery. The territory suffers from grueling power cuts and a two-thirds unemployment rate among young men.
“The momentum of the marches is going strong and will continue,” he said. “People can no longer endure the siege and will not stop until the siege is stopped.”
Each Friday, thousands of people have gathered in five tent camps near the border, while smaller groups throw stones and burn tires closer to the border fence.
Since protests began in late March, 41 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,500 wounded by Israeli soldiers firing across the border.
Rights groups say open-fire regulations are unlawful because they permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.
Israel says it’s defending its sovereign border, including nearby communities, and that troops only target instigators, a claim disputed by videos and witness accounts. There is considerable fear among Israelis of a mass breach in which Gazans stream across, wreaking havoc.
Nonetheless, the European Union urged Israel to stop using deadly force against unarmed protesters, and a senior U.N. envoy to the region called Israel’s deadly shooting of a Gaza teen last week “outrageous.”
Hamas has kept the pressure on Israel by telegraphing an embrace of nonviolence. For example, top leader Ismail Haniyeh recently spoke against the backdrop of posters of icons such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.
The senior Hamas officials said the movement has learned from mistakes, such as confronting Israel’s powerful military with crude rocket fire. They said Hamas is offering Israel an open-ended truce in exchange for lifting the blockade.
Hamas says it wants to keep its weapons for defensive purposes – a claim undercut by the group’s tunnel program. Hamas had built tunnels from Gaza into Israel in recent years, for attacks, before Israel began destroying them.
But Israel and Hamas’ main Palestinian rival, West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas, are skeptical because of the group’s refusal to disarm.
Hamas “is changing its tactics, but it’s not changing its nature and strategies,” Palestinian analyst Abdel-Majed Sweilem said.
Abbas has told Egyptian mediators that he will only return to Gaza if Hamas hands over all powers, including control over weapons.
Hamas drove out Abbas’ forces a year after it won 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections.
Organizers say that in addition to compelling an end to the blockade, the marches are meant to press for the “right of return” of refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes in the 1948 War over Israel’s creation, and march organizers see May 15, the anniversary of Israel’s founding, as a key target day.
Some Hamas leaders have called for a mass border breach, while others are vague.
Haniyeh told protesters that “we will return to Palestine,” without giving specifics.
Either way, Hamas faces a tough decision ahead of May 15.
If it stops short of a mass breach, momentum may falter.
Israel has warned that a mass breach could lead to many casualties. If huge crowds break through the fence, Israel could have a stronger case for using lethal force.
Hamas leaders would face renewed accusations of cynically exploiting Gaza civilians – especially if senior leaders stay back while desperate young men rush into danger. A high casualty toll also risks triggering another war.
Hammad, who began holding nonviolence workshops a week ago, offers a definition of nonviolence disputed by Israel, whose military considers stone-throwing and burning tires “acts of terrorism.”
However, it’s new to Gaza – where young people grew up with Hamas’ fiery rhetoric and lived through three wars, including massive Israeli airstrikes.
Participant Youssef al-Qishawi, 27, said he grew up thinking the use of force was the only language Israel understands, but has realized it only hurts Palestinians. “Now, we are learning about more ways and peaceful methods that are more effective,” he said.
The U.S.-backed Afghan military bombed a religious gathering in late March, killing 70 people and wounding 30. Afghan officials said they knew it was a religious gathering but decided to bomb it anyway because armed militants were in attendance.
What then do we have going on here? Is it only wrong to kill civilians using chemical weapons?
If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed civilians the same way the U.S.-backed Afghan military does, he would not be in trouble, apparently. If Assad used conventional bombs to kill civilians, the way the U.S. did in Mosul, what could the U.S. say?
This is simply a game to take attention away from U.S. government crimes against civilians in the Middle East. The U.S. government cares very little about the lives of civilians in the Middle East.
Do those in the West really believe they are more responsible than Assad because they blow up civilians using weapons not banned by international law?
The U.S. has utterly failed to provide hard evidence to substantiate its version of events.
By Elias Davidsson and Craig McKee
Scholars who attempt to elucidate the crime perpetrated on 9/11 – who are commonly referred to as 9/11 truthers – are often criticized for relying on conjecture and speculation in support of their claims. Such criticism may at times be justified, though often made in bad faith. There is actually no need to resort to speculative arguments that the official account of 9/11 is a fraud since there are hard facts that support this conclusion. Here are 10 such undisputed facts:
1. U.S. authorities have failed to trace, arrest, try (prosecute), and punish anyone responsible for the crime against humanity committed on 9/11.
The mass murder committed on September 11, 2001 represents, under international law, a crime against humanity. The State where it was committed – in this case the United States of America – bears the obligation to the international community to trace, arrest, try, and punish individuals responsible for that crime.
Since 2002, U.S. authorities admit they have detained a handful of persons at Guantánamo Bay who are accused of helping to orchestrate 9/11. Their identities remain in doubt; their alleged confessions were made behind closed doors; and their trial by a military court does not fulfill minimal international norms of due process.
U.S. authorities claim to have sentenced Zacarias Moussaoui to life imprisonment for not having warned the FBI about the preparations for 9/11, an allegation he denied. No evidence was presented that he was involved in the preparations for 9/11 or knew anything about these preparations. No evidence was presented that he even knew the alleged hijackers. U.S. authorities also claim to hold, since 2003, a man by the name of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM) in Guantánamo who allegedly confessed to have masterminded 9/11 and more than 30 other terrorist operations. He also allegedly confessed to having planned an attack on a bank in Washington State that did not exist until after he was already in Guantánamo. The man, whose identity remains murky and whose connection to 9/11 is limited to what he said in his ludicrous confession, has not been prosecuted, let alone sentenced. No one seriously expects him to be ever brought to trial, let alone a trial fulfilling international norms.
2. When announcing to the United Nations their decision to attack Afghanistan, U.S. authorities failed to provide evidence that the crime of 9/11 was in any way connected to Afghanistan. In fact, such evidence has still not been produced.
See the letter from U.S. Representative John Negroponte to the President of the UN Security Council, October 7, 2001 (mirrored on www.aldeilis.net/fake/569.pdf).
3. The United States government did not authorize an investigation of the events of 9/11 that could have fulfilled minimal international standards: The 9/11 Commission was neither independent nor impartial, and its investigation was neither thorough nor transparent.
4. Despite vilifying Osama bin Laden as a terrorist leader, judicial authorities in the United States have failed to charge him in connection with 9/11. He was not even wanted in connection with this crime.
The FBI admitted in June 2006 that it possesses no concrete evidence linking Osama bin Laden to 9/11. (See; Ed Haas, “FBI says, it has no ‘hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11,” Information Clearing House, June 18, 2006, mirrored on www.aldeilis.net/fake/853.pdf)
5. Authorities in the United States have failed to produce clear and convincing evidence that the 19 persons named by the FBI as 9/11 hijackers even boarded aircraft that they are alleged to have subsequently hijacked.
To be precise: U.S. authorities have failed to produce authenticated passenger lists that would include the names of the alleged hijackers; witnesses who saw these alleged hijackers in the airports or boarding the aircraft; authenticated security-camera videos proving their presence in the airports of departure; and DNA identification of these individuals’ bodily remains (see detailed analysis in Elias Davidsson, Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11 [Algora Publishers, New York, 2013], Chapter 2).
6. U.S. authorities have failed to produce clear and convincing evidence that passenger airliners crashed at the known landmarks on 9/11.
The FBI admitted in a letter to the Nevada District U.S. Court on March 14, 2008, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Rose, that records detailing the collection and positive identification of the wreckage of the crashed aircraft do not exist (Letter mirrored on www.aldeilis.net/fake/1083.pdf). He thus admitted that the FBI failed to formally identify the wreckage found at the various crash sites as belonging to the allegedly hijacked aircraft. It is, therefore, not established that the allegedly hijacked aircraft crashed at these locations.
7. U.S. authorities have failed to explain why more than 1,100 persons, who were present at the World Trade Center on 9/11, vanished into thin air.
Vast parts of the Twin Towers were literally pulverized as can be seen from video recordings, photos, and testimonies. Of more than 1,100 missing persons, not a single tooth, nail, or bone has been found as of 2011 (See, inter alia, Anemona Hartocollis, “Connecting with lost loved ones, if only by the tips of fingers,” The New York Times, September 11, 2011 [mirrored on www.aldeilis.net/fake/616.pdf]). U.S. authorities have never explained what could have caused more than 1,100 persons to vanish without leaving a trace. They bear the obligation, under human rights law, to determine the reason for such disappearances.
8. U.S. authorities compensated families of 9/11 victims that agreed to waive their right to further court action. The compensation exceeded by at least seven times what was paid to the families of firefighters who died in rescue operations on 9/11.
The families of 9/11 victims received from the U.S. Compensation Fund, established in October 2001, an average of $2.1 million if they agreed to waive their right to engage in civil proceedings (see, inter alia, Brian Bernbaum, “9/11 Fund Chief Faults Payments,” CBS News, 4.9.2003 [mirrored on www.aldeilis.net/terror/951.pdf]). As of 2013, spouses of firefighters who die in line of duty can obtain $333,605 under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Act (42 U.S.C. 3796). The figure for 2001 was undoubtedly lower. The 95 families, who did not apply to the Compensation Fund and preferred to let courts determine their rights, obtained an average of $5.5 million in out-of-court settlements (see, Ashby Jones, “The 9/11 Victim Settlements: A Chat with Skadden’s Sheila Birnbaum,” The Wall Street Journal, 13.3.2009 [mirrored on www.aldeilis.net/terror/959.pdf]).
9. U.S. authorities have failed to explain the effect of numerous military drills conducted on the morning of 9/11 – including the simulation of aircraft hijackings – on the commission of the mass murder.
Military drills caused confusion and surprised military and civilian personnel responsible for air traffic, as reported in U.S. media. For example, NORAD Major General Larry Arnold said that, “By the end of the day, we had twenty-one aircraft identified as possible hijackings.” (See, Eric Hehs, “Conversation with Major General Larry Arnold,” One Magazine, January 2002 [mirrored on www.aldeilis.net/fake/1052.pdf ]). Colonel Robert Marr, NEADS battle commander, said he had been told that across the nation there were “29 different reports of hijackings.” (See, Robert A. Baker, “Commander of 9/11 Air Defenses Retires,” Newhouse News Service, March 31, 2005 [mirrored on www.aldeilis.net/fake/1049.pdf ]). U.S. authorities failed to explain how these drills affected the commission of the crime, including the apparent failure to intercept hijacked aircraft.
10. U.S. authorities promoted numerous officials who, according to the official account on 9/11, had failed to carry out their duties with regard to 9/11. Not a single person has been held accountable anywhere in government for what went wrong on or prior to 9/11.
Here are few examples: Richard Myers, in charge of the Pentagon on 9/11, was promoted to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 2001; Ralph Eberhart, in charge of NORAD on 9/11, was promoted to head the new “Northern Command” a year after 9/11; Captain Charles J. Leidig, acting NMCC Director on 9/11, was promoted in 2004 to the rank of admiral; Brigadier General Montague Winfield, who on 9/11 was in charge of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), was promoted in May 2003 to the two-star rank of major general; Marion (Spike) Bowman, who blocked FBI investigations into the alleged hijackers before 9/11, was given an award for “exceptional performance” after a 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report claimed that his unit gave Minneapolis FBI agents “inexcusably confused and inaccurate information” that was “patently false.”
The above facts are sufficient to reject the official account of 9/11 and consider the administration of President George W. Bush as the main suspect for this crime against humanity. While the facts are not sufficient for leveling criminal charges against specific individuals, they permit general conclusions to be drawn regarding the dangerous nature of the U.S. regime and the complicity of the political class, mainstream media, academia, and the justice system of NATO member states in covering-up the crime of 9/11 and shielding those responsible for that crime.
The United States will expand its role in Syria, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said. The expansion comes in response to increased Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) offensives in the region.
“Right now we are not withdrawing,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We are continuing the fight, we are going to expand it and bring in more regional support. This is the biggest shift we’re making right now.”
In his statement, Mattis maintained that the US was not stepping in to take sides in the ongoing conflict in Syria. “No military solution is possible in the Syrian civil war,” Mattis said.
In his testimony, Mattis maintained that the US was not stepping in to take sides in the ongoing Syrian civil war. “No military solution is possible in the Syrian civil war,” Mattis said. “We continue to support a diplomatic solution as part of the UN-led peace process.”
President Donald Trump had previously stated that US forces would withdraw from Syria once Islamic State (ISIS) was defeated, but has not yet provided any kind of timeline for when that might be.
At a White House news conference on Tuesday, the president said that US troops would be “coming home relatively soon,” but he also wants to leave a “strong and lasting footprint” in the region.
Before running for office, Trump had repeatedly warned his predecessor, Barack Obama, against intervention in Syria. Intervention, he warned, would be costly and had “no upside and tremendous downside.” Even last month, Trump announced plans to bring US troops home, and said that the US would “let other people take care of it.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, addressing Congress on Wednesday, pledged that France and the US would “stand together in Syria.” Macron had cooperated closely with Trump in the runup to the missile attack on Syrian government targets earlier this month.
At Thursday’s hearing, Mattis said that US forces would launch “a re-energized effort” against targets in the middle Euphrates river valley in the days ahead, and increased operations on the Iraq side of the Syria/Iraq border, with the help of French special forces.
Since 2014, the US has lent its support to anti-government forces and Kurdish rebels in Syria, under the auspices of fighting ISIS. Following US intervention, and later Russian intervention in 2015, ISIS has lost roughly 98 percent of its territory throughout Syria and Iraq, and now controls only a few isolated pockets of desert.
Mattis assured Senators that the US would maintain communications with Russian forces, to ensure that the two powers do not come into conflict while both fight ISIS in Syria.
“Right now in Syria, we have an open and never interrupted deconfliction communication line that has worked pretty well to make certain we do not run afoul of one another’s forces or one another’s operations,” he said.
Heart breaking footage has emerged of a young boy clinging to his dead father following the Saudi bombing of a wedding in the northern region of Yemen yesterday.
The graphic footage has been widely shared on social media and has been published on the Voice of America YouTube channel. It originates, they suggest, with the Al-Masirah TV station.
The station is overseen by the armed Houthi movement which controls much of northern Yemen and shows the young boy clutching what the station claim is his father’s body in the Hajjah region.
The region was hit yesterday by a Saudi Arabian led air strike which killed at least 20 and injured up to 50 others attending a wedding.
WARNING: Graphic footage.
The bombing was the third deadly air strike in Yemen since the weekend. An attack on Sunday night hit a house elsewhere in Hajja, killing an entire family of five, according to al-Nadhri.
On Saturday, at least 20 civilians were killed when coalition fighter jets bombed a bus carrying commuters in western Yemen, near the city of Taiz, which has been locked in fighting for three years.
The Saudi-led coalition has declined to comment on the strikes.
The footage emerges as the chair of the International Development Select Committee in Britain urged the British government to bring forward a resolution on the conflict in Yemen to the UN Security Council.
Labour’s Stephen Twigg called on ministers to “lead the international community to put peace on the table” amid pleas to the Government to suspend arm sales to Saudi Arabia.
Mr Twigg, asking an urgent question on Yemen, said the country needs “peace and a political settlement”.
He asked: “Can I implore the Government to bring a resolution to the UN Security Council as a matter of urgency?
“Eight million people in Yemen are on the brink of starvation – surely the United Kingdom has a responsibility to lead the international community to put peace on the table?”
International Development Minister Harriett Baldwin urged all sides in the conflict to “exercise restraint” and to “continue to facilitate access for essential imports of food, fuel and medical supplies” into Yemen.
She added: “He (Mr Twigg) made some points about the important role that the UK can play in addition to the role as holding the pen at the United Nations in that peace process, and clearly it is in being a candid friend to those involved in the Saudi-led coalition, encouraging the process in terms of the joint investigative assessment team, the publication of those reports, 55 of which have been published so far, to recognise that we are not as the UK involved in any way in the targeting chain, and to reiterate the importance of the UK having the most rigorous export controls, and that involves the observation of international humanitarian law.”
British shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor called on the Government to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia in light of an air strike which hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, killing at least 20 people including the bride.
“Just yesterday appalling images emerged of an air strike hitting a wedding party. Twenty people were tragically killed, 45 more were wounded. The bride was killed and the groom taken to hospital,” she said.
“Time and time again the Government implies this suffering will happen with or without the UK. Well, surely now is the time to make it very clear that Britain will not be complicit?”
Ms Osamor asked: “Will the Government now in light of the weekend’s appalling air strikes on the wedding party finally suspend its arm sales to Saudi Arabia?”
An Air Force A-130 gunship in an undated photo. (REUTERS/U.S. Air Force)
The head of the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command said Wednesday that Air Force gunships, needed to provide close air support for American commandos and U.S.-backed rebel fighters in Syria, were being “jammed” by “adversaries.”
Calling the electronic warfare environment in Syria “the most aggressive” on earth, Army Gen. Tony Thomas told an intelligence conference in Tampa that adversaries “are testing us every day, knocking our communications down, disabling our AC-130s, etc.”
In February 2013, guarded by its well-paid ISIS mercenaries, New Jersey-based Genie Energy was granted an oil exploration permit in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights of southern Syria.
On October 31, 2011, just as the City of London banking cartel was launching its war against duly-elected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Genie was spun off from its parent IDT Telecom.
Genie was granted its license to drill in the Golan by the Israeli government in clear violation of the Annex to the Fourth Geneva Convention. It operates in the Golan via its Afek Israel Oil & Gas subsidiary.
Genie Oil President Efraim Eitam was instrumental in facilitating the Golan oil heist. He is a Brigadier General in the Israeli Defense Forces and a graduate of London’s Royal College of Defence Studies.
Eitam once stated, “We cannot be with all these Arabs and we cannot give up the land because we have already seen what they do there. Some of them may be able to stay under certain conditions but most of them will have to go.”
Eitam’s bosses are an even more interesting bunch of barbarians.
Genie Energy’s strategic advisory board includes Royal Dutch/Shell owner Lord Jacob Rothschild, former US Vice-President Dick Cheney, Newscorp (Fox News & Wall Street Journal) Chairman Rupert Murdoch, former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, former US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, former CIA Director & Dyncorp insider James Woolsey & former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.
All are investors in Genie as well.
A leaked CIA document from 1983 reveals the Rothschild plan for Syria. The document, written by CIA officer Graham Fuller, argues that the West should, “bring real muscle to bear against Syria” by toppling then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, replacing him with a pro-banker puppet, and cutting Syria’s weapons supply line from Russia.
This would then pave the way for a City of London-controlled oil & gas pipeline which would originate in Qatar. Exxon Mobil owns a big chunk of Qatar Gas, whose North Pars offshore gas field contains more natural gas than any other field in the world. This explains now-former Secretary of State and long-time Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s tilt towards Qatar in their ongoing dispute with the Saudis.
The pipeline is to run north through Bahrain, Saudi Arabia & Jordan before crossing Syria and entering Turkey on its way to Europe. Such a huge volume of gas would help the bankers end Russia’s Gazprom stranglehold on natural gas imports into Europe.
Russia, Iran, Iraq & Syria are promoting quite a different route which would originate in the adjacent South Pars Persian Gulf gas field owned by Iran. The pipeline would run north across Iran, then west across Iraq and Syria to the port of Homs, where it would be either piped under the Mediterranean Sea or shipped by tanker to Europe.
In 1982 Muslim Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama, before being bombarded into submission by Assad’s air force. Membership in the Muslim Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria because the ruling Baath Party stresses unity and the Brotherhood has always worked with its Freemason “brothers” in London to sew division in nationalist Arab nations.
With Genie Oil drilling in the occupied Golan and the race to build a City of London-controlled pipeline continuing apace, one can be sure that despite the upper hand which Assad and his Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah backers have gained in the Syrian war of late, Rothschild and his minions will be serving up more pretexts to keep a war-weary President Trump fighting for their empire in Syria.
It’s up the the American people to back the President’s urge to leave by making it loud and clear that its time for the US to get out of Syria, and out from under the thumb of the City of London banksters.
HE’S back. John Bolton, the Bush-era moustache best known for his burning desire to bomb five different countries, is now national security adviser. It’s not entirely unexpected: like most low-rent reality shows, the Trump presidency packs plot twists well into its second season.
What makes it ugly is the timing: Bolton returns the same week the US marks 15 years since the Iraqi invasion. They may soon say of America what they said of every super-bureaucracy going back to the Bourbons — that they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
But it would be best to start forgetting. Fifteen years ago, George W. Bush reduced Iraq to a pile of ash. “This is the guy that tried to kill my dad,” he said of Saddam Hussein. Since then, much of America’s warmonger class has dusted itself off and confessed.
It turns out that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. It also turns out that Saddam’s Ba’ath party had nothing to do with the jihadis that made up Al Qaeda. And it also turns out that if you disband a country’s army and replace it with a sectarian sock puppet, you end up with the militant Islamic State group.
Fifteen years ago, Bush reduced Iraq to a pile of ash.
And that’s what makes Year 15 so fascinating: America is selling Iraq to itself as an ‘error’, a ‘blunder’, a ‘quagmire’. Call it end-stage empire: bombing Baghdad is the coming-of-age story you avoid in polite company.
It also helps when there’s a new monster to fight in the form of Trump. As comedian Kumail Nanjiani tweeted rather gormlessly, “I support George W. Bush instead of tearing him down. We need all the allies we can get right now. He’s not blameless, but he’s here now.”
Which is odd, because Trump’s policies are largely the same as the Bush family’s, minus their Connecticut manners: the return of torture, Gitmo fetishisation, drumbeats of war, fear of the ‘other’. But that’s beside the point: between Bush’s rehab and Bolton’s recruitment, Iraq takes on the look of another sad goof-up.
That is a lie. Just as this horror movie began on a false premise, it now ends on a note that’s equally false. Iraq wasn’t a mistake. It was a hostile takeover that left a million Iraqis dead. And it not only wrecked the fabric of American society from within, it permanently poisoned the idea of America from without.
The fact is, the US had been in a bit of a flux since the death of communism. Between the Berlin Wall falling over and the twin towers falling in on themselves, there were no more worlds left to conquer. Gents like Fukuyama called it the end of history: the West had won, and we’d do best to hail the free market.
In that sense, Osama bin Laden’s rage aligned just fine with the ideas of the Republican Party, fighting a forever war with no end in sight. Terrorism seemed a permanent punching bag: in terms of a ‘war on terror’, how does one fight a noun?
It didn’t help that Bush ran into Washington’s most depraved double act while doing it: the ageless firm of Rumsfeld & Cheney. Don and Dick were empire-builders; inhaling oil via Halliburton, signing off on torture, and maiming civilians. “There aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan,” sighed Rummy, “And there are lots of good targets in Iraq.”
After all, Iraq was never about WMD in 2003, or liberty in 2004, or peace in 2007. It was about reshaping the Middle East and projecting Americana, and it was never really challenged.
The liberal press ate up the war; warlords like Blair and Hillary cheered it on; and Muslim brother Saudi Arabia offered itself up as a staging ground. As Bush lackey Karl Rove denied ever saying, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality […] we’re history’s actors, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
So it is, a generation later, that we study what they did — Iraq marked the fall of American supremacy. Ever since, Baghdad has escaped into Iran’s orbit, Syria has been ceded, Russia has resurged, and anger and misery have culminated in the age of Trump.
The story of the past 15 years is the story of the Free World descending into the torture chamber, the rise of kill-at-will drone strikes, and erosion of civil society to a heartless little nub.
It marks so much of our story as well: Pakistan paid a terrible price for these terror wars. The state’s since embraced the language with enthusiasm: extraordinary renditions, non-state actors, missing persons, IDPs, drone strikes.
But should it become a part of our permanent vocabulary, we’ll be left fighting a forever war too. Fifteen years after Iraq, and 17 after Afghanistan, a higher cost can hardly be imagined.
Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy announced that Russian specialists were examining rockets of the US-led coalition, including Tomahawk cruise missiles, captured in Syria and handed over to Moscow.
“Two [missiles] including a Tomahawk cruise missile and a high-precision aviation missile were delivered to Moscow… They are now being examined by our experts. The results of this work will be used to improve Russian weapons,” the military official told a briefing, showing the slides, featuring military parts of the rockets.
On April 14, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France fired over 100 missiles at multiple targets in Syria in response to an alleged use of chemical weapons by the government’s forces in the city of Douma.
Washington claimed that the majority of rockets had hit their designated targets, however, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, 71 out of the 103 missiles had been intercepted by the Syrian air defenses.
WASHINGTON: About 24,000 ‘madrassas’ in Pakistan are funded by Saudi Arabia which has unleashed a “tsunami of money” to “export intolerance”, a top American senator has said adding that the US needs to end its effective acquiescence to the Saudi sponsorship of radical Islamism.
Senator Chris Murphy said Pakistan is the best example of where money coming from Saudi Arabia is funnelled to religious schools that nurture hatred and terrorism.
“In 1956, there were 244 madrassas in Pakistan. Today, there are 24,000. These schools are multiplying all over the globe. These schools, by and large, don’t teach violence. They aren’t the minor leagues for al-Qaeda or ISIS. But they do teach a version of Islam that leads very nicely into an anti-Shia, anti-Western militancy.
“Those 24,000 religious schools in Pakistan – thousands of them are funded with money that originates in Saudi Arabia,” Murphy said in an address yesterday to the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank.
According to some estimates, since the 1960s, the Saudis have funnelled over USD 100 billion into funding schools and mosques all over the world with the mission of spreading puritanical Wahhabi Islam.
As a point of comparison, researchers estimate that the former Soviet Union spent about USD 7 billion exporting its communist ideology from 1920-1991.
“Less-well-funded governments and other strains of Islam can hardly keep up with the tsunami of money behind this export of intolerance,” Murphy said.
“The uncomfortable truth is for all the positive aspects of our alliance with Saudi Arabia, there is another side to Saudi Arabia that we can no longer afford to ignore as our fight against Islamic extremism becomes more focused and more complicated,” he said.
“The United States should suspend supporting Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, at the very least until we get assurances that this campaign does not distract from the fight against IS and al-Qaeda, and until we make some progress on the Saudi export of Wahhabism,” he said.
Murphy demanded that Congress should not sign off on any more US military sales to Saudi Arabia until similar assurances are granted.
He said that the political alliance between the House of Saud – Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family – and orthodox Wahhabi clerics is as old as the nation, resulting in billions funnelled to and through the Wahhabi movement.
The vicious terrorist groups that Americans know by name are Sunni in derivation, and greatly influenced by Wahhabi and Salafist teachings, Murphy said adding that leaders of both Democratic and Republican parties should avoid the extremes of this debate, and enter into a real conversation about how America can help the moderate voices within Islam win out over those who sow seeds of extremism.
But in so doing, he may be losing political control over his country
Iranian and local militias are forcing Assad to concede many governing powers
Syria is becoming a feudal kingdom, says some experts
By Ty Joplin
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, once thought to be on the way out from power in Syria, is now working to eliminate the last pockets of resistance around Syria’s capital, Damascus.
The countries that called for his departure in order to re-make the Syrian government have grown quiet as there appears to be no formidable or just opposition left to empower.
Assad is the emergent victor in the Syrian Civil War.
But what has received far less attention is the extant Assad went to ensure his regime’s survival. In giving more power to paramilitary groups, and relying almost entirely on Russia and Iran for support, Assad’s victory may be a Pyrrhic one, meaning he may win the war but essentially lose his sovereign control over Syria.
Experts who have studied Assad’s relationship to local militias and allying countries have pointed out the risk of a rising ‘warlordism,’ inside Syria whereby local militia commanders who are nominally loyal to Assad govern according to their own interests.
Assad, who has long had no choice but to rely on unofficial paramilitaries for help, will eventually have to embark down the long road of reigning in local commanders and outside powers’ interests, which will likely require concessions to his ability to unilaterally control his own military and policy decisions.
A Quick History of Assad’s Declining Military Power
An Iranian proxy militias suspected of recruiting from Afghanistan (AFP/FILE)
When the Arab Spring-inspired protests began in Syria, Assad sought to silence the movement with the force of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), just as his father, Hafez al-Assad, had done to quell a rebellion against him in 1982.
But while Hafez al-Assad was able to put down the attempted revolt using a massive, swift show of force that killed up to 40,000 people in less than a month, Bashar’s attempts to do the same was met with nationwide outrage that boiled over into an armed resistance movement.
A civil war began, and defections from the SAA began bleeding his military numbers. From a pre-war count of about 300,000 personnel, Assad’s official army dwindled to a total between 80,000 – 100,000. His armored divisions, once one of the most formidable and largest in the world, lost between 200 and 500 vehicles a year. Defections to the opposition ran rampant, desertion became nearly uncontrollable, and losses were steadily mounting.
The Assad family had long-relied on Alawite sect of Shia Islam to fill up the senior ranks in their regime military. Although they only make up about 12% of the country’s population, they constitute roughly 70-80% of career soldiers. But after years of Sunni defections from the military and Alawite deaths on the battlefield, even they became draft-dodgers and refused to serve in his army.
Knowing he could not hold onto power by relying on his official military, Assad facilitated the creation of paramilitary groups, or loyalist militias. These militias, such as the Desert Hawks or the organized crime syndicate, the shabiha, or ghosts, buttressed his struggling armed forces.
Still in force, many militias often recruit from the local townships where they have a presence, tying them more firmly to the territory they control. They represent a vast array of ethnic, ideological and material interests.
One of the biggest paramilitary groups is the National Defense Forces (NDF), which draws commanders from local areas and has roughly 100,000 soldiers. Iran is one of its biggest funders. More broadly, Iran funds much of the Syrian paramilitaries.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah has also maintained a consistent ground presence since nearly the beginning of the war.
But even with Iranian funding, logistical support, and boots on the ground, Assad was caught in a stalemate with the opposition. Iranian-backed militias may actually out-number the number SAA soldiers.
So he turned to Russia for support.
In late Sept. of 2015, Russia began intervening militarily on Assad’s behalf, and has relentlessly bombed targets throughout Syria ever since. Russia effectively turned the tide for the war, and has ensured Assad remain in power. But Russian and Iranian involvement has strings attached; conditions that may hamper Assad’s ability to rule without their input.
An Emerging, Feudal Syria
A soldier inside Syria (AFP/FILE)
In his desperation to save his regime, Assad may have given life to a new set of local and international rulers that he will have difficulty controlling.
“The pre-war centrality of Assad’s power changed early on in the Syrian war; whereas before all decisions big and small ran through Damascus the situation now is much more decentralized and more akin to a feudal empire,” said security analyst Nick Grinstead in an interview for Al Bawaba.
“Today the big decisions are made or approved by Assad and his inner circle but many matters regarding local governance and, in some instances security, have been farmed out to the regional or local level. Issues of water management and sanitation, for example, have been largely left up to local council across much of regime-held territory. In addition, security provision away from the frontlines has been farmed out to loyalist militias such as the NDF and Eagles of Whirlwind,” Grinstead added.
In addition, Assad has granted many militias a relatively large amount of autonomy so long as they do not directly challenge his rule. Because his army is still spread thin around all of Syria, Assad simply cannot afford to assert power over militia-held territory.
“The NDF has become central to Assad’s survival strategy, but while it officially operates under the regime’s control, its localized character has created new centers of authority and local powerbrokers,” argues Chris Zambelis, a security analyst for the Middle East.
These militias operating under the umbrella of the NDF, have clashed with each other over territorial control and will not likely cede power to Assad without demanding major concessions that would limit Assad’s ability to govern those areas centrally.
Although he has succeeded in disbanding militias that sought to offset Assad’s powers directly, like the Desert Hawks, some groups have direct ties to Iran, making them much more formidable to Assad and thus much less subordinate to his regime.
According to Grinstead, Russia appears far more willing to see paramilitary groups integrate into Assad’s post-war military. Satisfied that it has access to a warm-water port on the Mediterranean Sea and indefinite military installations inside Syria, Russia will be satisfied to see Assad remain a central power-holder.
Iran, on the other hand, wants a bigger piece of the regime pie.
For an example of how Iran organizes its proxy militias in relation to official armies, Iraq is a helpful analogy to what may happen in Syria.
A soldiers from the Iranian-backed PMU in Iraq (AFP/FILE)
After ISIS began its blitzkrieg through the deserts of northern Syria and Iraq, Iran reacted by forming the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU), a mostly Shia militia group led by Iranian commanders. They, in conjunction with Kurdish fighters, fought ISIS back and steadily won back much of Iraq.
Once ISIS was all but beaten, former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for their disbandment as he claimed it was an Iranian violation of Iraqi sovereignty to have Iranian militias running rampant throughout the country and governing territory. In response, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi defended the PMU and formally integrated it into Iraq’s military.
In essence, al-Abadi legalized Iran’s command over much of the Iraq army, making permanent and official Iranian influence in the country’s politics. Iran will likely push Assad to do the same, compelling him to formally integrate Iranian-backed militias into Assad’s post-war military.
This would guarantee that Iran has a dominant presence in the country and that part of Assad’s mandate as Syria leader would come from Iran. Decisions then, will need to go through Damascus and Tehran.
A Limited Ruler
Bashar al-Assad (AFP/FILE)
Assad may have in fact sacrificed his position as sovereign leader of Syria at the outset of the war, when he called on Iran for help.
“Assad sacrificed Syria’s absolute sovereignty early on in the war when he permitted Iranian security officials to advise on the suppression of the non-pro-Assad protests,” Grinstead said in an interview.
“From then on he has allowed greater Iranian involvement and the intervention of Hezbollah units and Russian military as a means to prevent the complete collapse of the Ba’ath regime to the pantheon of Islamist and rebel groups fighting against it. These friendly interventions… mean that these countries will have spheres of influence in Syria for the foreseeable future.”
This does not mean that Assad will be one of among many rulers governing Syria, but it does mean that in key decisions in structuring post-war Syria, he will likely need the consent of Russia, Iran and local militia leaders before continuing, dissipating his once central power to a number of local and international players.
For Syrians on the ground, Assad’s concessions will likely mean empowered militias will be free in conducting extortion activities from them, demanding money in exchange for protection, according to Grinstead.
As these militias transition from wartime mobilization to postwar local governance, community leaders will likely need their blessing in order to help govern civil society. Businesses may need to pay a portion of their revenues to these groups. They will likely be able to enforce their own set of laws, as is often the case in fragile post-war environments.
In making sure he remained as President of Syria, Assad has transformed Syria into a kind of client-state for Russia, Iran and local militias that utterly dependent upon them for support.
This month marks 15 years since the US-led invasion of Iraq. With all the talk of ‘totalitarianism’ in the Trump era, let’s not forget what came before
People talk a lot about “totalitarianism” in the Trump era. I’ve never really loved the category: it seems to paper over some pretty deep differences between the entities one might call totalitarian. But if there was a “totalitarian” moment in my lifetime, it is unquestionably the period between 9/11 and the Iraq war.
It’s not simply that war criminals enlisted the aid of the press and every other ideological apparatus in our country to launch a massively destructive, destabilizing, and completely unwarranted war of aggression (the principal crime against humanity), although they did.
It’s not simply that after 9/11 thousands of people were rounded up and preventively detained, despite not having any ties to terrorism, although they were (and with nary a word, except for a few brave souls, of protest). It’s that there was a palpable shift in what were now unutterable but real conditions for everyday life.
Suddenly, there were soldiers on the streets, and also little American flags everywhere, even in places where they would never have been before. Unanimity in the press and – with very, very few exceptions – unanimity from all political elites. But strangest of all, a bizarre performance from some that this was the way things had always been. When you could literally point to a flag or an obsequious gesture to loving the military and know that, say just a week or two before, it hadn’t been there and yet the conversant would insist no, it always had been that way.
The Iraq war was not the result of “inexperience”. Indeed, its architects were adults in the room of the highest order. The Iraq war and its calamitous outcomes were not “unknowable”; outside of what passes for “expertise” and “experience” in Washington and the op-ed pages of leading newspapers there was near-unanimity among incredibly disparate analystspredicting nearly every horrific outcome that came to pass.
And it did not in fact come about without protest. There were the largest protests in human history but they were easily integrated into a narrative woven together by political elites, national security apparatchiks, and the media working in lock-step.
Some Americans (knowing little about, say, China) like to point and laugh at a near-unanimous vote for removing term limits for Xi Jinping. There was exactly one vote in Congress – cast by Barbara Lee – three days after 9/11 against granting universal, unequivocal war powers to Bush II (beyond the already nearly limitless war powers the president had).
Although Trump still has plenty of time to catch up (and I fear he will), his crimes do not come close to the crimes against humanity committed by members of our ruling class from political leadership to the media in our lifetime. I won’t list names here because it would be too inflammatory, but there are dozens, hundreds, who would be facing tribunals if they were not American.
They not only walk free but are rewarded for their complicity in one of the key moments that is the short walk to now. Watching the sickening rehabilitation of political and media figures of this period – and for some the simple continuity – is also a reminder of the partial utility of that term “totalitarian”.
No matter how much they destroy, how many lines they cross, whom they murder en masse, their respectability is unaffected, their leadership de rigueur. This was not the failure of the rule of law: this is the rule of law in a system in which any attempt to transform power or even challenge it has been silenced.
This was not because “norms” or the constitution were violated; this was the absolute functioning of norms and the constitution. This was the America that some tell me was already great.
After the abolition of slavery, Britain paid millions in compensation – but every penny of it went to slave owners, and nothing to those they enslaved. We must stop overlooking the brutality of British history. By Kris Manjapra
On 3 August 1835, somewhere in the City of London, two of Europe’s most famous bankers came to an agreement with the chancellor of the exchequer. Two years earlier, the British government had passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which outlawed slavery in most parts of the empire. Now it was taking out one of the largest loans in history, to finance the slave compensation package required by the 1833 act. Nathan Mayer Rothschild and his brother-in-law Moses Montefiore agreed to loan the British government £15m, with the government adding an additional £5m later. The total sum represented 40% of the government’s yearly income in those days, equivalent to some £300bn today.
You might expect this so-called “slave compensation” to have gone to the freed slaves to redress the injustices they suffered. Instead, the money went exclusively to the owners of slaves, who were being compensated for the loss of what had, until then, been considered their property. Not a single shilling of reparation, nor a single word of apology, has ever been granted by the British state to the people it enslaved, or their descendants.
Today, 1835 feels so long ago; so far away. But if you are a British taxpayer, what happened in that quiet room affects you directly. Your taxes were used to pay off the loan, and the payments only ended in 2015. Generations of Britons have been implicated in a legacy of financial support for one of the world’s most egregious crimes against humanity.
The fact that you, and your parents, and their parents in turn, may have been paying for a huge slave-owner compensation package from the 1830s only came to public attention last month. The revelation came on 9 February, in the form of a tweet by HM Treasury: “Here’s today’s surprising #FridayFact. Millions of you have helped end the slave trade through your taxes. Did you know? In 1833, Britain used £20 million, 40% of its national budget, to buy freedom for all slaves in the Empire. The amount of money borrowed for the Slavery Abolition Act was so large that it wasn’t paid off until 2015. Which means that living British citizens helped pay to end the slave trade.”
The tweet, which the Treasury says was prompted by a Freedom of Information Act request submitted in January, generated a storm of anger and crowdsourced corrections. First, the British slave trade was not abolished in 1833, but in 1807. Second, slavery was not abolished in all parts of the British empire in 1833. The new law applied to the British Caribbean islands, Mauritius and the Cape Colony, in today’s South Africa, but not to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) or British India, for instance. Third, no freedom was “bought” for plantation slaves in 1833, as the enslaved were compelled to work in unfreedom, without pay and under the constant threat of punishment, until 1838. Most importantly, the Treasury’s tweet did not mention that generations of British taxpayers had been paying off a loan that had been used to compensate slave owners, rather than slaves.
The tweet, which was hastily deleted, had the stench of British historical amnesia and of institutionalised racism. A few days later, the historian David Olusoga wrote: “[This] is what happens when those communities for whom this history can never be reduced to a Friday factoid remain poorly represented within national institutions.”
The tweet was no aberration. It was emblematic of the way legacies of slavery continue to shape life for the descendants of the formerly enslaved, and for everyone who lives in Britain, whatever their origin. The legacies of slavery in Britain are not far off; they are in front of our eyes every single day.
We can only begin to understand slavery’s influence on Britain today by first allowing 500 years of human history to flash before our eyes. Beginning in the last decades of the 1400s, we see African people kidnapped from their families, crammed into the dark pits of slave forts, and then piled into the bowels of ships. We see voyagers and traders, such as John Hawkins in the 1560s, becoming some of the first British men to make massive fortunes from this trade in kidnapped Africans. By the late 17th century, we see the British coming to dominate the slave trade, having overtaken the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch. We see tens of thousands of merchant ships making the “middle passage”, the voyage across the Atlantic that transformed captives from Africa into American slave commodities. Half of all the Africans transported into slavery during the 18th century were carried in the holds of British ships.
From the 15th to the 19th centuries, more than 11 million shackled black captives were forcibly transported to the Americas, and unknown multitudes were lost at sea. Captives were often thrown overboard when they were too sick, or too strong-willed, or too numerous to feed. Those who survived the journey were dumped on the shores and sold to the highest bidder, then sold on again and again like financial assets. Mothers were separated from children, and husbands from wives, as persons were turned into property. Slaves were raped and lynched; their bodies were branded, flayed and mutilated. Many slave owners, in their diaries, manuals, newspaper writings and correspondence, readily admitted the punishments and violations they exacted on black people on the cane fields and in their homes. Take, for example, the unapologetic recollections of violence and predation that comprise the diary of Thomas Thistlewood, a British slave owner in Jamaica in the mid-1700s. Thistlewood recorded 3,852 acts of sexual intercourse with 136 enslaved women in his 37 years in Jamaica. In his 23 July 1756 entry, he described punishing a slave in the following manner: “Gave him a moderate whipping, pickled him well, made Hector shit in his mouth, immediately put a gag in it whilst his mouth was full and made him wear it 4 or 5 hours.”
In Barbados, the British established one of the first modern slave societies. Slavery had certainly been practised in many parts of the world since ancient times. But never before had a territory’s entire economy been based on slave labour for capitalist industry. Beginning in 1627, the enslaved were put to work in the intense cultivation of sugar cane, working in chain gangs in shifts that covered a 24-hour production cycle. In one of the greatest experiments in human terror the world has ever known, this system of plantation slavery expanded over the following centuries across the Caribbean, South America and the southern United States. Fear and torture were used to drive black workers to cut, mill, boil and “clay” the sugar, so it could be shipped to Britain as part of a lucrative “triangle of trade” between the west coast of Africa, the Americas and Britain. The trade in slaves, and the goods they were forced to produce – sugar, tobacco and eventually cotton – created the first lords of modern capitalism.
Britain could not have become the most powerful economic force on earth by the turn of the 19th century without commanding the largest slave plantation economies on earth, with more than 800,000 people enslaved. And the legacy of such large-scale, prolonged slavery touches everything that is familiar in Britain today, including buildings named after slave owners such as Colston Hall in Bristol; streets named after slave owners such as Buchanan and Dunlop Streets in Glasgow; and whole parts of cities built for slave owners, such as the West India Docks in London. The cultural legacy of slavery also infuses British tastes, from sweetened tea, to silver service, to cotton clothwork, to the endemic race and class inequalities that characterise everyday life.
Britain’s central role in 500 years of the slave trade and plantation slavery is often dissolved like a bitter pill into the much more palatable tonic of the nation’s role in the story of abolition. This narrative often begins in the pews of Holy Trinity Church in Clapham, where the cherubic William Wilberforce worshipped. Today, he can be seen on the stained glass above the altar of that church, giving the news of the 1807 abolition of the slave trade to a black woman who kneels before him. Around Wilberforce coalesced a group of Church of England social reformers, known as the Clapham Saints, who led the campaign against the slave trade, and then pressed onward to fight for the abolition of plantation slavery in 1833. Over the past few decades, scholars have also stressed the ways in which the antislavery movement depended on expanding democratic participation in civic debate, with British women and the working classes playing a crucial role in the abolitionist ranks. British parliamentarians were inundated with thousands of petitions from ordinary people pressing them to pass laws that eventually brought slavery to an end.
Abolitionists in Britain maintained that slavery was a violation of God’s will. Since every human being possessed a soul, they argued that no human being could be made into another man’s possession without also perverting the divine plan. To encourage their fellow citizens to look into the face of the enslaved and see fellow human beings, British abolitionists distributed autobiographies of people who had experienced slavery, such as works by Ignatius Sancho, Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince. If only the British public could hear the voices of black people through their writing, then they could empathise with their oppression. It would then become possible to look into the eyes of the enslaved and see a person staring back.
But narratives of abolition cannot be reduced to a story of angelic white benefactors gifting freedom to their black wards. (There are 32 images of William Wilberforce in the National Portrait Gallery, but just four images of black abolitionists and antislavery activists from the same period.) In Britain, the popular narrative too often ignores the fact that blacks on the plantations were convinced of their own personhood long before anyone else. Rebellions were endemic to slavery, and by the 1810s and 20s, many slave societies in the British Caribbean were experiencing insurgencies. Enslaved people rebelled in Barbados in 1816, and Demerara (today’s Guyana) in 1823. Shortly after Christmas 1831, an audacious rebellion broke out in Jamaica. Some 60,000 enslaved people went on strike. They burned the sugar cane in the fields and used their tools to smash up sugar mills. The rebels also showed remarkable discipline, imprisoning slave owners on their estates without physically harming them.
The British Jamaican government responded by violently stamping out the rebellion, killing more than 540 black people in combat, and later with firing squads and on the gallows. The uprising sent shockwaves through the British parliament and accelerated the push for the abolition of slavery. Henry Taylor, head of the West India division of the British Colonial Office, later commented, “this terrible event [of the rebellion]… was indirectly a death blow to slavery”.
Not only did blacks mobilise for their own liberation, but by the 1820s slavery was also beginning to clash with an economic principle that was becoming an article of faith for British capitalists: free trade. Eric Williams, a historian of slavery who also became the first prime minister of independent Trinidad in 1962, has argued that slavery in the British empire was only abolished after it had ceased to be economically useful. Many British merchants involved in selling Cuban, Brazilian and East Indian sugar in Britain wanted to see an end to all duties and protections that safeguarded the West Indian sugar monopoly. British capitalists also saw fresh possibilities for profit across the globe, from South America to Australia, as new transportation and military technologies – steamships, gunboats and railways – made it possible for European settlers to penetrate new frontiers. The economic system of British slavery was moribund by 1833, but it still needed to be officially slain.
By 1830, debates were raging in the British parliament, and in the public sphere, about ending slavery. The powerful West India interest – a group of around 80 MPs who had ties to Caribbean slavery – opposed abolition. They were joined by an additional group of some 10 MPs who did not possess slaves themselves, but still opposed any proposal to tamper with slave owners’ right to property – that property, in this case, being human beings. The faction presented “compensated emancipation”, or the payment of money to slave owners at abolition, as a way of upholding property rights. Beyond parliament, many thousands of Britons across the country – slave owners, West India merchants, sugar refiners, trade brokers, ship owners, bankers, military men, members of the gentry and clergymen – actively championed the principle of compensation by attending public rallies organised by various West India Committees.
This notion of “compensated emancipation” was relatively new. When slaves were emancipated in northern US states in the years before 1804, no compensation to their owners was paid. Only in the 1810s did the British government take the unprecedented step of paying compensation to Spain, Portugal and some West African states to solicit their cooperation in the suppression of the slave trade. The attempt failed, however, as Spain and Portugal pocketed British money and continued their slave trading until the later 19th century. British slave owners nonetheless demanded, in the 1830s, that this international precedent be applied to them.
The argument for slave-owner compensation relied on perverse logic. Under English law, it was difficult to claim compensation for the loss of chattel property, since rights to movable things – such as household possessions, or tools, or livestock – were considered inherently unstable, expendable and ambiguous. So, the West India interest in parliament, led by the likes of Patrick Maxwell Stewart, a rich London merchant who owned slaves in Tobago, made fanciful arguments to align the enslaved more with land or buildings, or even with body parts, than with human beings. According to one line of argument, because the government paid money to landowners when it took over fields for public works such as docks, roads, bridges and railways, so too it had to pay slave owners for taking over their slaves. According to another argument, because the government paid soldiers for the injury to organs or the loss of limbs during war, so too it had to provide slave owners aid for cutting them off from their slaves, which maimed slave owners’ economic interests.
Many mainstream abolitionists felt uncomfortable about the compensation of slave owners, but justified it as a pragmatic, if imperfect, way to achieve a worthy goal. Other abolitionists, especially a vanguard group within the Anti-Slavery Society called the “Agency Committee”, railed against the idea. “It would reconcile us to the crime,” wrote one contributor to the Anti-Slavery Monthly Report in 1829. “It would be a sap on public virtue,” wrote another the following year. Some activists even demanded that compensation be paid to the enslaved. “To the slave-holder, nothing is due; to the slave, everything,” said an antislavery pamphlet in 1826. Many antislavery members of parliament, such as Thomas Fowell Buxton and William Clay, spoke out vociferously against slave-owner compensation. Hundreds of petitions were also sent in by the corps of abolitionists beyond the ramparts of the political elite, insisting that no money go to the perpetrators of crimes against God’s will.
The decision to compensate slave owners was not just an inevitable expression of the widespread beliefs of those times. Political decisions reflect who is in the room when the decisions are being made. The Reform Act of 1832 drastically transformed the British electoral system and extended the franchise, to the detriment of the West India interest. But even in the reformed House of Commons, scores of MPs still had close financial or family ties to slave ownership. On the other hand, it bears remembering that the first black Britons were not elected to the House of Commons until near the end of the following century, more than 150 years later.
Other slave-owning states, including France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Brazil, would follow the British example of compensated emancipation in the coming decades. But the compensation that Britain paid to its slave owners was by far the most generous. Britain stood out among European states in its willingness to appease slave owners, and to burden future generations of its citizens with the responsibility of paying for it.
The owners of slaves in British society were not just the super-rich. Recent research by historians at University College London has shown the striking diversity of the people who received compensation, from widows in York to clergymen in the Midlands, attorneys in Durham to glass manufacturers in Bristol. Still, most of the money ended up in the pockets of the richest citizens, who owned the greatest number of slaves. More than 50% of the total compensation money went to just 6% of the total number of claimants. The benefits of slave-owner compensation were passed down from generation to generation of Britain’s elite. Among the descendants of the recipients of slave-owner compensation is the former prime minister David Cameron.
The decision to emancipate slaves by treating them like property, and not like persons, was no mere theoretical exercise. Rather than putting a sudden end to their suffering, the process of emancipation marked a new phase of British atrocities and the terrorisation of blacks.
The emancipation process was minutely orchestrated by government bureaucrats. In September 1835, less than a month after the government received its loan, slave owners began their feeding frenzy as they obtained compensation cheques at the National Debt Office. Payment amounts were determined based on application forms that asked claimants to itemise the number and kinds of enslaved people in their possession, and to provide certificates from the slave registrar. There were some 47,000 recipients of compensation in total.
In addition to money, slave owners received another form of compensation: the guaranteed free labour of blacks on plantations for a period of years after emancipation. The enslaved were thus forced to pay reverse reparations to their oppressors. At the stroke of midnight on 1 August 1834, the enslaved were freed from the legal category of slavery – and instantly plunged into a new institution, called “apprenticeship”. The arrangement was initially to last for 12 years, but was ultimately shortened to four. During this period of apprenticeship, Britain declared it would teach blacks how to use their freedom responsibly, and would train them out of their natural state of savagery. But this training involved continued unpaid labour for the same masters on the very same plantations on which they had worked the day before.
In some ways, the “apprenticeship” years were arguably even more brutal than what had preceded them. With the Slavery Abolition Act, the duty to punish former slaves now shifted from individual slave owners to officers of the state. A state-funded, 100-person corps of police, jailers and enforcers was hired in Britain and sent to the plantation colonies. They were called the “stipendiary magistrates”. If apprentices were too slow in drawing water, or in cutting cane, or in washing linens, or if they took Saturdays off, their masters could have them punished by these magistrates.
Punishments were doled out according to a standardised formula, and often involved the most “modern” punishment device of those times: the treadmill. This torture device, which was supposed to inculcate a work ethic, was a huge turning wheel with thick, splintering wooden slats. Apprentices accused of laziness – what slave owners called the “negro disease” – were hung by their hands from a plank and forced to “dance” the treadmill barefoot, often for hours. If they fell or lost their step, they would be battered on their chest, feet and shins by the wooden planks. The punishment was often combined with whippings. The treadmill was used more during the apprenticeship period than it ever was under slavery, precisely because it was said to be a scientific, measurable and modern form of disciplinary re-education, in line with bureaucratic oversight. One apprentice, James Williams, in an account of his life published in 1837, recalled he was punished much more after 1834 than before. Indeed, it is likely that slave-owners sweated their labour under apprenticeship, in order to squeeze out the last ounces of unpaid labour before full emancipation finally came in 1838.
While the British state, even after emancipation, still failed to see black people as persons, the enslaved themselves inhabited a complex society of their own creation. Enslaved people called the experience of slavery “barbarity time”. And during the barbarity, they developed their own internal banking and legal systems. They created extensive trading relations between towns and villages, and across plantation enclaves. They had their own spiritual practices, such as Obeah, an Afro-centric repertoire of divination and social communion cultivated alongside the religion bestowed by the Christian missionaries. Slaves had their own rich musical forms and traditions of storytelling. They were engineers, chemists and medics on the plantation fields they inhabited. Many of their innovations contributed to making life under slavery livable, such as the architectural design of the tapia house in Trinidad. Even if the official white gaze could not see the 800,000 persons that lived in the plantation colonies, those persons still persisted.
Benjamin Disraeli, the great Tory prime minister of the late 19th century, once described the “forlorn Antilles”, or Caribbean, as millstones around the neck of Britain. Here in Disraeli’s remark, is the British habit of externalising the problem of slavery as playing out in some distant place, rather than within Britain’s own heart of darkness. Today, evading the question of British slave legacies takes the form of celebratory national narratives about British abolition, and in the nervous reflex of switching the topic to “modern slavery” whenever the history of British slavery is raised for discussion. Slavery becomes comfortable for the British nation if it can be situated “out there”, among the dark-skinned peoples of the earth, in countries far away.
It is hardly surprising, then, that the British establishment has been so resistant to hearing calls for reparations for slavery. In 1997, manacled human remains were found on a beach in Devon. It was soon determined that the bones were those of enslaved blacks who had probably been kept in the hold of The London, a vessel shipwrecked in 1796. The enslaved people, who were probably from the Caribbean, were supposed to be sold on the British slave market. Labour MP Bernie Grant, a reparations advocate and one of the first black members of parliament, took the occasion to make a pilgrimage to Devon, and to renew the call for reparations.
Grant’s programme began with the demand for an apology from the British state for the legacies of British slavery. “I am going to write to the Queen,” Grant had said in a speech in Birmingham in 1993. “I know she is a very reasonable woman.” He died in 2000 without ever receiving that very reasonable apology.
In 2013, a powerful renewed call for reparations arose among representatives of Caribbean nations, stimulated by the publication of the book Britain’s Black Debt. The following year, its author, Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, and chair of the Caribbean Reparations Commission, gave an address to a group of British MPs and peers in the UK parliament’s British-Caribbean all-party group. His voice booming across Committee Room 14, Beckles argued that Britain has a “case to answer in respect of reparatory justice”.
He anchored his demand for reparations in the need for the British state to admit its role in forcefully extracting wealth from the Caribbean, impeding industrialisation and causing chronic poverty. The Caribbean, by the late 20th century, became one of the largest centres of predatory lending, orchestrated by the IMF and World Bank, as well as by European and American banks. Even today, the economies of Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua find themselves dangling precariously between life and debt, suspended by their historically enforced dependence on foreign finance.
The legacies of slavery and racism are no less present in Britain, where black workers are more than twice as likely than white workers to work in temporary or insecure forms of employment. While 3% of Britain’s general population is black, black people comprise 12% of the incarcerated. And people of colour are still hugely underrepresented in positions of power in Britain – in politics, academia and the judiciary, in particular.
Six months after Beckles’ speech, the Treasury finally finished repaying the debt on its Abolition of Slavery Act loan. And a further six months after that, in July 2015, then-prime minister David Cameron travelled to Jamaica on an official visit. There, on behalf of the British nation, he took a big leap backwards. It is time to “move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future,” he stated glibly.
But how can you move on from something that has not yet stopped happening? Neither the history of British slavery, nor the process of emancipation that re-enacted slavery, nor the bones of the enslaved that wash up on British shores, nor the debt for slave-owner compensation that continued for so long to cycle through British national accounts, seem ever to be able to bring the nation’s representatives to acknowledge its crimes against humanity and to provide restitution.
The scholar Christina Sharpe has written about the “residence time” of black bodies thrown into the dark sea during the “middle passage”. This is the span of time, measured in thousands of years, that it takes for the atoms of jettisoned slaves’ bodies to pass out of the oceanic system. The Atlantic is one kind of vault of slavery’s aftermath. But so too is the ocean of British national debt, through which the ghosts of the enslaved circulated for centuries, waiting for their moment of due reckoning; waiting for an apology from the British state, and for its commitment to redress what British slavery sought to obliterate: the personhood of black folk who emerged out of this empire, like me and my ancestors.
MOSCOW, April 20 (Xinhua) — Russia will soon present evidence that the Syrian air defense forces shot down more than half of the missiles fired in the recent U.S.-led strikes, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.
Syrian forces used Soviet-era air defense systems and fired 112 surface-to-air missiles to repel the U.S.-led strikes, destroying 71 out of the 103 missiles launched by the Western coalition last week, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. [ However, the Pentagon said the missiles “successfully hit every target”.
“Our general staff has a very clear picture (of the strikes). We watched everything happening in real time. We are ready to be responsible for the statistics that our military provided,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russia Today.
He asked the United States and its allies to prove that their all missiles hit the targets.
Lavrov also said that earlier, Russia had decided not to supply its modern S-300 air defense system to Syria following the request of Western countries, which said the move could destabilize the situation, although the system is purely defensive.
“Now we have no such moral obligation,” he remarked.
The S-300 system was first deployed in the former Soviet Union in 1979 and has been upgraded several times since then to become one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world.
The United States, along with Britain and France, launched joint airstrikes on military targets in Syria on April 14 for the Bashar al-Assad government’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, the last rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta near the Syrian capital, earlier this month.
Syria denies the allegation, which has not been independently investigated and verified.
Damascus Countryside, SANA – As per the agreement for evacuating terrorists from al-Rheibeh, Jairoud, and al-Nasseriyeh towns in the Eastern Qalamoun region in Damascus Countryside, the terrorists handed over their heavy and medium weapons and ammo caches before leaving the area and heading north.
Video Emerging with Significant Gunfire Being Heard Near Palace; King Transferred to Airbase; Toy Drone shot down.
Twitter and news outlets came alive with spotty, unconfirmed news reports of an incident in Saudi Arabia that some sources were describing as a possible “coup attempt”. There has been no official verification of significant or organized action in the region and no reports have surfaced as of 00:30 Riyadh time on the BBC World News, but the volume of Twitter reports and private messages received by this reporter seem to indicate an incident of some significance.
Saudi Arabia has been so far successful in avoiding inclusion in the “Arab Spring” revolts that have toppled governments across the Middle East and began in Tunisia in 2010. Since then Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Bahrain have been subject to either government coups or coup attempts. The attempts at overthrowing the Syrian government have resulted in one of the bloodiest conflicts in the history of the region now in its seventh year.
The Daily Mail is one of the media outlets reporting the “heavy gungire near royal palace”.
As the minutes have passed during the last hour the volume of traffic about Saudi Arabia on Twitter has increased, but the region’s top Twitter reporter, @SamiAlJaber, has reported nothing specific about a “coup attempt”.
“An official Riyadh district police spokesman said that at about 19:50 p.m. on Saturday, 5/8/1439 a security screening point in the Al-Khuzama district of Riyadh noticed a small, remote-controlled recreational aircraft (drone) flying without being authorized to do so, which required security personnel at the security point to deal with it in accordance with their orders and instructions in this regard,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported according to Newsweek.
The following traffic was monitored in the aftermath of the reported gunfire. It might be completely unrelated to the alleged attempted coup, still it’s worth of note, considered that according to flight tracking authority @CivMilAir the GL4 has always shadowed the Crown Prince’s UK, USA, France tours.
For instance, the same aircraft, registration HZ-MS4B was part of the fleet that supported the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman during his U.S. tour. Here’s a tweet dating back to a couple of weeks ago:
Next one out from San Francisco – the flying hospital that accompanies the Crown Prince.
Concern about unrest in the country have been top of mind in the region for several years but the existing government has, to date, been mostly successful in moderating large, overt attempt at leadership change.
This story will be updated as information becomes available.
According to Viktor Murakhovsky, member of the advisory council of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission, two cruise missiles that had failed to detonate during the US-led strike on Syria and were reportedly handed over to Russia by the Syrian military may come in handy for Russian specialists.
“These findings may be very useful for our country. Russian experts do not copy western arms patterns, since we have our own development strategy, but it will be interesting for them to get acquainted with the latest western developments in this field. Some missiles, used to strike Syria, were not new, while others were exploited for the first time,” Murakhovsky told Sputnik.
Nearly a week ago, a trilateral alliance, comprised of the United States, France and the United Kingdom, delivered a massive missile strike on numerous Syrian targets as retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the Damascus government in the city of Douma which supposedly took place on April 7.
The West’s decision to hit Syria with over a hundred of missiles was triggered by reports, covered in several media outlets, citing militants in Douma claiming the Syrian government forces had dropped a chlorine bomb on civilians – information that was “substantiated” by the White Helmets-provided footage, showing the aftermath of the alleged use of chemical weapons.Both Damascus and Moscow dismissed the claims, slamming the entire incident as a false flag, with the Russian Defense Ministry sending a chemical corps commission to Douma to investigate the alleged use of toxic agents, days after the reports emerged on media; the expert group did not find any traces of chemical poisoning either with chlorine or sarin.
Earlier the White Helmets, a Western-backed NGO known for its ties with terrorist groups, released a video showing alleged victims of the false-flag chemical attack in Douma. The US and its allies used the video as a pre-text to conduct a missile strike on Syria.
The Russia 24 TV channel released an exclusive interview on April 18 with a boy, who participated in filming a fake video, as evidence of the false-flag chemical attack in Douma by the White Helmets. In the interview, Hassan Diab says that he and his mother heard loud voices on the street, urging everyone to rush to the hospitals. When Hassan entered the hospital, unknown people grabbed him, poured water on him and then put him with other patients.
“We were in the basement. Mom told me that today we don’t have anything to eat and that we will eat tomorrow. We heard a cry outside, calling “go to the hospital.” We ran to the hospital and as soon as I entered, they grabbed me and started pouring water on me,” Hassan Diab said.
His father continued the story. He was at his work when he heard that his son was in hospital. He rushed to the hospital and found his family there in good health. He added that he was on the street, smoking and didn’t feel any chemical weapon. According to him, it turned out militants gave all the participants food — dates, cookies and rice — and then released them.
“There were no chemical weapons. I smoked outside and felt nothing. I entered the hospital and saw my family. Militants gave them dates, cookies and rice for participating in this film and released everyone to their homes,” Hassan’s father said.
Нашли мальчика, которого 7 апреля заставили участвовать в инсценировке в больнице Думы. «Расплатились» финиками и печеньем. Подробности скоро на сайте КП. pic.twitter.com/rUfLslD805
The TV channel also broadcast an interview with a doctor who was in the hospital when the White Helmets filmed their fake video. He said that no patients with signs of chemical weapons-related injuries arrived that day, but there were many people with respiratory problems due to smoke and dust from the recent bombing. All doctors were busy taking care of them and didn’t have time to react to the White Helmets’ film crew.
The White Helmets is a Syrian NGO, financed by several Western countries, which is associated with staging and filming false-flag chemical attacks. They have been seen several times working with terrorist groups in Syria.
On April 9 the group published another video suggesting that doctors in one of the Douma hospitals were treating patients that had suffered from the chemical attack and accused Damascus of the ordeal. However, the information that later surfaced, as well as witness testimonies, demonstrated that it was staged, performed by the White Helmets.
Immediately after the alleged attack, Moscow dispatched its chemical corps to determine whether there was an actual attack and if there were victims in need of treatment. The Russian crew didn’t find any traces of chemical weapons or any victims in the nearby hospital. Moscow and Damascus invited the OPCW to come to Douma and investigate the incident.
“We reiterate our rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem,” the king said in a speech in Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia.
“East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories,” he added.
The move has sparked deep anger among the Palestinians, who see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and across the Arab world.
The King announced a $150-million (120 million euro) donation for the maintenance of Islamic heritage in East Jerusalem.
“Saudi Arabia announces a $150-million grant to support the administration of Jerusalem’s Islamic property,” the monarch said at the opening of the Arab League summit in the kingdom’s eastern city of Dhahran.
“I name this summit in Dhahran the Jerusalem Summit so that the entire world knows Palestine and its people remain at the heart of Arab concerns,” he said.
Islamic holy sites in the city, including the revered Al-Aqsa mosque, are administered by a Jordanian-run trust known as the Waqf.
King Salman also announced a $50 million donation to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
The organisation, which provides aid to more than three million people, faces serious financial difficulties after the US announced it was cutting its funding of the body.
In mid-March, UNRWA said it did not have the necessary funds to continue running until the summer.
UNRWA head Pierre Krahenbuhl recently said the agency was seeking $441 million to continue operating, but that donors had only pledged $100 million.
President Donald Trump walks with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Howard, commander of Joint Force Headquarters, at Arlington National Cemetery, May 29, 2017. Behind them are Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Flickr/CreativeCommons/DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate Monday would give the president sweeping authority to wage endless war anywhere in the world with limited congressional intervention.
Perversely billed as a plan to “reassert” Congressional power to “authorize where, when and with who we are at war,” the proposal for a new AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) falls way short of that promise. In fact, it achieves quite the opposite. The bill, if passed, would not only codify all of the authority the president has now to fight Al Qaeda and Taliban and “associated forces” as interpreted in the current 2001 AUMF, but allow the president to add as many targets as desired in the future. Congress can only reverse these add-ons with a veto-proof supermajority, and the White House is not mandated to fully disclose any new “associated forces” publicly or even to the full Congress. Nor is there a sunset provision requiring Congressional reauthorization, only a mere “review” every four years.
War critics on both the Left and Right were up in arms Tuesday over the details of the bill, which was introduced by Republican Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.). Unlike the 2001 AUMF, it names the Islamic State with the Taliban and Al Qaeda and five designated “associated forces” (Al Qaeda in Syria, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Shabaab, and the Haqqani Network), which would essentially allow the U.S. military to engage in hostilities in Yemen, several countries in East and North Africa, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else these and any new groups may pop up in the future.
In short, it’s a rubber stamp for the global war on terror.
“Beyond being all but a full abdication of war powers vested to Congress in the Constitution, an AUMF that encourages perpetual, indefinite war is fundamentally at odds with fiscal conservatism and wise use of taxpayer dollars, as well as with wise use of our armed forces and its men and women who deserve robust debate over when and where they are asked to put their lives on the line for their country,” exclaimed Sarah Anderson, policy analyst for FreedomWorks, one of the conservative groups in Washington lining up against the bill, in an email to TAC.
There have been many efforts over the years, particularly by Corker and Kaine, to update the legal framework for current military actions overseas—whether that be bombing, hunting or detaining terrorists abroad—so that the administration would not have to keep stretching the 2001 (signed after 9/11) and/or the 2002 AUMF (signed ahead of the Iraq invasion) to cover new targets. There’s a sense that Presidents Bush, Obama and now Trump have been using the old AUMFs to engage in unilateral war without Congressional debate or blessing, and many lawmakers want to weigh in. Heralding his bill on Twitter, Sen. Kaine said it would take away Trump’s “blank check” for those White House wars and open them up to debate in the Congress.
Sadly this proposal essentially gives him the entire bank, with Congressional approval.
“It’s a well-intentioned effort that is unfortunately going to achieve the opposite,” said Rita Siemion, international legal counsel for Human Rights First. Blame the competing interests on the Hill: everyone knows the hawks would rather keep the status quo and won’t go for a bill that appears to tie the president’s hands. Any legislation with sunsets or transparency or even a stronger Congressional hand would be dead on arrival under the current Republican leadership.
“They (lawmakers) think they will have weighed in, and there’s this idea that it’s better than not weighing in at all, but I just don’t share it,” she told TAC Tuesday. “It’s going to be handing over significant powers to President Trump and any future president with no limits on which groups the nation goes to war with.”
At a time when Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have been arguing that the Congress should have a vote on whether the U.S. continues to assist in the Saudi war on the Houthi in Yemen under the War Powers Act, this bill would in essence abdicate those powers. Here, the president gets to make war on anyone he wants with Congress only voting after the fact. And without a veto-proof two-thirds majority, Congress cannot overrule him.
“When the founders wrote the Constitution they understood that military conflict was a big deal,” charged Kurt Couchman, vice president for public policy at the conservative Defense Priorities, in an interview with TAC. “They saw sovereigns go bankrupt over a series of wars started by kings, and they did not want our president to be king. You need the people to be on board through their representatives. (This proposal) ensures wars will continue on auto-pilot only subject to the president’s discretion.”
If that doesn’t sound monarchical enough, consider this: under the current rules any new interpretations of the AUMFs—including new “associated forces”—can remain classified. While the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) finally incorporated some reporting procedures requiring that changes like new targets must be shared with key congressional committees and leaders, most of the important stuff has been redacted from the public record, said Siemion, and will continue to be classified under the new measure.
In a primer on the Corker-Kaine bill Tuesday, Robert Chesney at the Lawfare blog said the lack of transparency has been status quo for some time:
“…as things currently stand there is no requirement for the public to be told when new groups are so designated. To be sure, the public sometimes is told, but nothing in current law requires this, and the track record involves much less clarity than one might like. For a considerable time, even Congress apparently had trouble acquiring this information, though that seems to have changed recently.
So what will change under Corker-Kaine? Absolutely nothing, said Siemion. The president can initiate drone strikes against targets operating under new flags (there is some effort to define “associated forces” in the bill, but there is a lot of wiggle room), and only has to inform certain members of Congress. Furthermore that information will likely never see the light of day.
“At a minimum, the public, the American people, should know who we are going to war with,” said Siemion.
Mark-ups could begin as early as next week—without a hearing. Sources say that members are already lining up to load the bill with amendments that would put restrictions on the president’s power, including a sunset clause, and that might spell its doom. Or it could be pushed to a vote as is. Tensions are already running high after the president initiated strikes against Syria last week without Congressional approval.
“My fear is that this new authority will not constrain the president but expand presidential power,” Sen. Rand Paul told Fox News Tuesday morning, signaling his own opposition to the Corker-Kaine proposal.
Couchman said a rush to pass–or not pass–the proposal may gloss over serious debates the Congress should be having on war policy, including how effective the U.S. military strategy is for the safety and health of the nation.
“A broader debate needs to happen. It’s not necessarily about legal authority, because legal authority is not sufficient for these questions. We also need to get back to core issues—issues of national interest, diplomacy, the use of force, and other foreign policy tools—and how best to keep Americans safe, free, and prosperous.”
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is the executive editor of The American Conservative. Follow her on Twitter @Vlahos_at_TAC.
DONALD Trump is looking to end US engagement in Syria by forming an Arab military force to replace the US presence in the region and to help stabilise the north-eastern part of the country following the defeat of so-called Islamic State, it has been reported.
Donald Trump has asked Arab nations to contribute more to the ongoing conflict in Syria
The US administration has asked Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to contribute billions of dollars and a large number of troops to help reestablish stability in the war-torn country, and in particular in northern regions.
Expressing his growing concern surrounding the cost and duration of the military intervention in Syria, President Trump said: “We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing larger amounts of money.”
A US administration official confirmed this statement, saying: “Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.A.E. have all been approached with respect to financial support and more broadly to contribute.”
Trump’s new National Security Adviser, John Bolton, also reportedly contacted Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel to determine whether the North African nation would contribute to the effort.
We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing larger amounts of money
Certain US officials have been quick to highlight the large obstacles that the US faces in establishing an Arab coalition force in Syria.
Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, warned of external intervention, saying: “A new force has to be strong enough to face down Assad or Iran if either seeks to reclaim territory, perhaps with Russia’s help.”
And Charles Lister, a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute, cast doubt over the project, saying: “There is just no precedent or established basis for this shaping into a successful strategy.”
He also noted that Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia would be reluctant to enter into new military action, as they are currently involved militarily in Yemen.
The United States, France and Britain have launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.
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The destroyed Scientific Research Centre is seen in Damascus
This would be exacerbated by the uncertain role that the US would play in the project, with questions remaining surrounding whether the US would continue to provide training, support and air cover for troops.
US military officials however signalled in January that they were hoping to end their military campaign in Syria in a matter of months, but maintain a certain number of troops in the region to ensure the ongoing stability of key Islamic State locations such as Raqqa.
Mr Trump also said in early April that he desired a speedy withdrawal of the 2,000 US troops currently positioned in Syria.
This has caused rising fears among other military officials and international politicians that a rapid US withdrawal would create a power vacuum for ISIS to regain ground, or for nations such as Iran and Russia to gain further control.
GETTY Emmanuel Macron has tried to persuade President Trump to keep US troops in Syria
It is estimated that between 5,000 and 12,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Syria
French President Emmanuel Macron commented on President Trump’s desires to remove US troops from Syria, stating: “Ten days ago, President Trump was saying the United States of America had a duty to disengage from Syria.
“I assure you, we have convinced him that it is necessary to stay for the long term.”
It is estimated that between 5,000 to 12,000 Islamic State fighters still remain in eastern regions of Syria, with fighters still operating in a location south of the town of Al-Hasakah and in a 25-mile stretch along the Euphrates river near Abu Kamal.
Proposal covers applies to war on terrorism, not Syrian regime
Congress could use fast-track procedure to block new actions
A bipartisan group of senators proposed updating Congress’s authorization for U.S. military action in the Middle East, days after President Donald Trump ordered strikes on Syria to retaliate against a chemical weapons attack.
The authorization would apply to the war on terrorism and not action against the Syrian regime, said Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker Tennessee, who with Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine led the senators in introducing the measure.
“It’s very specific that it cannot be used against nation-states,” Corker said. “I don’t think the Syria issue helps or hinders” drawing support in Congress.
The measure would repeal an authorization Congress passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and would allow the use of military force against non-state terrorist groups abroad, including al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other associated groups. It would give Congress a fast-track opportunity to block the expansion of actions to new territories or groups, and would establish a process to review the measure every four years to prevent a lapse in authorization. Corker told reporters he hopes his committee will consider it on April 23.
Corker reiterated that he believes Trump has separate, existing authority to conducted the type of “surgical strike” the U.S., U.K. and France made against Syria. He said if administration requests authorization for it as part of the bill he is open to providing that.
Syrian Civil War
The possibility that the U.S. may become more deeply engaged in Syria’s seven-year civil war is reviving a longstanding and unsettled debate over Congress’s role in authorizing the use of military force. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, an authority it largely ceded to the president over the last 70 years.
So far, the administration — including Defense Secretary James Mattis — has operated under the assumption that the existing 2001 authorization for use of military force gives legal cover for military operations in Syria and elsewhere.
House members are scheduled to receive a classified briefing Tuesday from administration officials including Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford on last week’s military action in Syria, a House aide said. Senators will also get a briefing.
Resistance From Leaders
Any effort to update the use of military force could run into resistance from leadership in both chambers even if the Foreign Relations panel approves it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is unlikely to bring the measure up without a specific request from the Trump administration.
Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said Thursday that the existing AUMF gives the president “the authority he needs to do what he may or may not do” regarding Syria.
Corker said his first priority is to see if the proposal can get out of his committee. He acknowledged it has been “difficult” for many years to pass a new authorization.
Corker said the co-sponsors of his measure also include Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida and Chris Coons of Delaware, and Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and Todd Young of Indiana.
“Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against Syria without Congress’s approval is illegal,” Kaine said Saturday on Twitter. “We need to stop giving presidents a blank check to wage war.”
Democrats and Republicans have disagreed previously on new legislation. Democrats have sought limits to a new AUMF, while Republicans don’t want any caveats to tie the U.S. military’s hands in future operations.
President Donald Trump ignored important intelligence reports when he decided to attack Syria after he saw pictures of dying children. Seymour M. Hersh investigated the case of the alleged Sarin gas attack.
On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.
The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.
Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president’s determination to ignore the evidence. “None of this makes any sense,” one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. “We KNOW that there was no chemical attack … the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth … I guess it didn’t matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.“
Within hours of the April 4 bombing, the world’s media was saturated with photographs and videos from Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of dead and dying victims, allegedly suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning, were uploaded to social media by local activists, including the White Helmets, a first responder group known for its close association with the Syrian opposition.
The provenance of the photos was not clear and no international observers have yet inspected the site, but the immediate popular assumption worldwide was that this was a deliberate use of the nerve agent sarin, authorized by President Bashar Assad of Syria. Trump endorsed that assumption by issuing a statement within hours of the attack, describing Assad’s “heinous actions” as being a consequence of the Obama administration’s “weakness and irresolution” in addressing what he said was Syria’s past use of chemical weapons.
To the dismay of many senior members of his national security team, Trump could not be swayed over the next 48 hours of intense briefings and decision-making. In a series of interviews, I learned of the total disconnect between the president and many of his military advisers and intelligence officials, as well as officers on the ground in the region who had an entirely different understanding of the nature of Syria’s attack on Khan Sheikhoun. I was provided with evidence of that disconnect, in the form of transcripts of real-time communications, immediately following the Syrian attack on April 4. In an important pre-strike process known as deconfliction, U.S. and Russian officers routinely supply one another with advance details of planned flight paths and target coordinates, to ensure that there is no risk of collision or accidental encounter (the Russians speak on behalf of the Syrian military). This information is supplied daily to the American AWACS surveillance planes that monitor the flights once airborne. Deconfliction’s success and importance can be measured by the fact that there has yet to be one collision, or even a near miss, among the high-powered supersonic American, Allied, Russian and Syrian fighter bombers.
Russian and Syrian Air Force officers gave details of the carefully planned flight path to and from Khan Shiekhoun on April 4 directly, in English, to the deconfliction monitors aboard the AWACS plane, which was on patrol near the Turkish border, 60 miles or more to the north.
The Syrian target at Khan Sheikhoun, as shared with the Americans at Doha, was depicted as a two-story cinder-block building in the northern part of town. Russian intelligence, which is shared when necessary with Syria and the U.S. as part of their joint fight against jihadist groups, had established that a high-level meeting of jihadist leaders was to take place in the building, including representatives of Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaida-affiliated group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra. The two groups had recently joined forces, and controlled the town and surrounding area. Russian intelligence depicted the cinder-block building as a command and control center that housed a grocery and other commercial premises on its ground floor with other essential shops nearby, including a fabric shop and an electronics store.
“The rebels control the population by controlling the distribution of goods that people need to live – food, water, cooking oil, propane gas, fertilizers for growing their crops, and insecticides to protect the crops,” a senior adviser to the American intelligence community, who has served in senior positions in the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, told me. The basement was used as storage for rockets, weapons and ammunition, as well as products that could be distributed for free to the community, among them medicines and chlorine-based decontaminants for cleansing the bodies of the dead before burial. The meeting place – a regional headquarters – was on the floor above. “It was an established meeting place,” the senior adviser said. “A long-time facility that would have had security, weapons, communications, files and a map center.” The Russians were intent on confirming their intelligence and deployed a drone for days above the site to monitor communications and develop what is known in the intelligence community as a POL – a pattern of life. The goal was to take note of those going in and out of the building, and to track weapons being moved back and forth, including rockets and ammunition.
One reason for the Russian message to Washington about the intended target was to ensure that any CIA asset or informant who had managed to work his way into the jihadist leadership was forewarned not to attend the meeting. I was told that the Russians passed the warning directly to the CIA. “They were playing the game right,” the senior adviser said. The Russian guidance noted that the jihadist meeting was coming at a time of acute pressure for the insurgents: Presumably Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham were desperately seeking a path forward in the new political climate. In the last few days of March, Trump and two of his key national security aides – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley – had made statements acknowledging that, as the New York Times put it, the White House “has abandoned the goal” of pressuring Assad “to leave power, marking a sharp departure from the Middle East policy that guided the Obama administration for more than five years.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a press briefing on March 31 that “there is a political reality that we have to accept,” implying that Assad was there to stay.
Russian and Syrian intelligence officials, who coordinate operations closely with the American command posts, made it clear that the planned strike on Khan Sheikhoun was special because of the high-value target. “It was a red-hot change. The mission was out of the ordinary – scrub the sked,” the senior adviser told me. “Every operations officer in the region” – in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, CIA and NSA – “had to know there was something going on. The Russians gave the Syrian Air Force a guided bomb and that was a rarity. They’re skimpy with their guided bombs and rarely share them with the Syrian Air Force. And the Syrians assigned their best pilot to the mission, with the best wingman.” The advance intelligence on the target, as supplied by the Russians, was given the highest possible score inside the American community.
The Execute Order governing U.S. military operations in theater, which was issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provide instructions that demarcate the relationship between the American and Russian forces operating in Syria. “It’s like an ops order – ‘Here’s what you are authorized to do,’” the adviser said. “We do not share operational control with the Russians. We don’t do combined operations with them, or activities directly in support of one of their operations. But coordination is permitted. We keep each other apprised of what’s happening and within this package is the mutual exchange of intelligence. If we get a hot tip that could help the Russians do their mission, that’s coordination; and the Russians do the same for us. When we get a hot tip about a command and control facility,” the adviser added, referring to the target in Khan Sheikhoun, “we do what we can to help them act on it.” “This was not a chemical weapons strike,” the adviser said. “That’s a fairy tale. If so, everyone involved in transferring, loading and arming the weapon – you’ve got to make it appear like a regular 500-pound conventional bomb – would be wearing Hazmat protective clothing in case of a leak. There would be very little chance of survival without such gear. Military grade sarin includes additives designed to increase toxicity and lethality. Every batch that comes out is maximized for death. That is why it is made. It is odorless and invisible and death can come within a minute. No cloud. Why produce a weapon that people can run away from?”
The target was struck at 6:55 a.m. on April 4, just before midnight in Washington. A Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) by the U.S. military later determined that the heat and force of the 500-pound Syrian bomb triggered a series of secondary explosions that could have generated a huge toxic cloud that began to spread over the town, formed by the release of the fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement, its effect magnified by the dense morning air, which trapped the fumes close to the ground. According to intelligence estimates, the senior adviser said, the strike itself killed up to four jihadist leaders, and an unknown number of drivers and security aides. There is no confirmed count of the number of civilians killed by the poisonous gases that were released by the secondary explosions, although opposition activists reported that there were more than 80 dead, and outlets such as CNN have put the figure as high as 92. A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that “eight patients showed symptoms – including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation – which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.” MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there “smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.” In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force – as opposition activists insisted – had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.
The internet swung into action within hours, and gruesome photographs of the victims flooded television networks and YouTube. U.S. intelligence was tasked with establishing what had happened. Among the pieces of information received was an intercept of Syrian communications collected before the attack by an allied nation. The intercept, which had a particularly strong effect on some of Trump’s aides, did not mention nerve gas or sarin, but it did quote a Syrian general discussing a “special” weapon and the need for a highly skilled pilot to man the attack plane. The reference, as those in the American intelligence community understood, and many of the inexperienced aides and family members close to Trump may not have, was to a Russian-supplied bomb with its built-in guidance system. “If you’ve already decided it was a gas attack, you will then inevitably read the talk about a special weapon as involving a sarin bomb,” the adviser said. “Did the Syrians plan the attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Absolutely. Do we have intercepts to prove it? Absolutely. Did they plan to use sarin? No. But the president did not say: ‘We have a problem and let’s look into it.’ He wanted to bomb the shit out of Syria.”
At the UN the next day, Ambassador Haley created a media sensation when she displayed photographs of the dead and accused Russia of being complicit. “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?” she asked. NBC News, in a typical report that day, quoted American officials as confirming that nerve gas had been used and Haley tied the attack directly to Syrian President Assad. “We know that yesterday’s attack was a new low even for the barbaric Assad regime,” she said. There was irony in America’s rush to blame Syria and criticize Russia for its support of Syria’s denial of any use of gas in Khan Sheikhoun, as Ambassador Haley and others in Washington did. “What doesn’t occur to most Americans” the adviser said, “is if there had been a Syrian nerve gas attack authorized by Bashar, the Russians would be 10 times as upset as anyone in the West. Russia’s strategy against ISIS, which involves getting American cooperation, would have been destroyed and Bashar would be responsible for pissing off Russia, with unknown consequences for him. Bashar would do that? When he’s on the verge of winning the war? Are you kidding me?”
Trump, a constant watcher of television news, said, while King Abdullah of Jordan was sitting next to him in the Oval Office, that what had happened was “horrible, horrible” and a “terrible affront to humanity.” Asked if his administration would change its policy toward the Assad government, he said: “You will see.” He gave a hint of the response to come at the subsequent news conference with King Abdullah: “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies – babies, little babies – with a chemical gas that is so lethal … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line . … That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me. Big impact … It’s very, very possible … that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”
Within hours of viewing the photos, the adviser said, Trump instructed the national defense apparatus to plan for retaliation against Syria. “He did this before he talked to anybody about it. The planners then asked the CIA and DIA if there was any evidence that Syria had sarin stored at a nearby airport or somewhere in the area. Their military had to have it somewhere in the area in order to bomb with it.” “The answer was, ‘We have no evidence that Syria had sarin or used it,’” the adviser said. “The CIA also told them that there was no residual delivery for sarin at Sheyrat [the airfield from which the Syrian SU-24 bombers had taken off on April 4] and Assad had no motive to commit political suicide.” Everyone involved, except perhaps the president, also understood that a highly skilled United Nations team had spent more than a year in the aftermath of an alleged sarin attack in 2013 by Syria, removing what was said to be all chemical weapons from a dozen Syrian chemical weapons depots.
At this point, the adviser said, the president’s national security planners were more than a little rattled: “No one knew the provenance of the photographs. We didn’t know who the children were or how they got hurt. Sarin actually is very easy to detect because it penetrates paint, and all one would have to do is get a paint sample. We knew there was a cloud and we knew it hurt people. But you cannot jump from there to certainty that Assad had hidden sarin from the UN because he wanted to use it in Khan Sheikhoun.” The intelligence made clear that a Syrian Air Force SU-24 fighter bomber had used a conventional weapon to hit its target: There had been no chemical warhead. And yet it was impossible for the experts to persuade the president of this once he had made up his mind. “The president saw the photographs of poisoned little girls and said it was an Assad atrocity,” the senior adviser said. “It’s typical of human nature. You jump to the conclusion you want. Intelligence analysts do not argue with a president. They’re not going to tell the president, ‘if you interpret the data this way, I quit.’”
The national security advisers understood their dilemma: Trump wanted to respond to the affront to humanity committed by Syria and he did not want to be dissuaded. They were dealing with a man they considered to be not unkind and not stupid, but his limitations when it came to national security decisions were severe. “Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts,” the adviser said. “He doesn’t read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He’s a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says: ‘Do it.”’
On April 6, Trump convened a meeting of national security officials at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The meeting was not to decide what to do, but how best to do it – or, as some wanted, how to do the least and keep Trump happy. “The boss knew before the meeting that they didn’t have the intelligence, but that was not the issue,” the adviser said. “The meeting was about, ‘Here’s what I’m going to do,’ and then he gets the options.”
The available intelligence was not relevant. The most experienced man at the table was Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who had the president’s respect and understood, perhaps, how quickly that could evaporate. Mike Pompeo, the CIA director whose agency had consistently reported that it had no evidence of a Syrian chemical bomb, was not present. Secretary of State Tillerson was admired on the inside for his willingness to work long hours and his avid reading of diplomatic cables and reports, but he knew little about waging war and the management of a bombing raid. Those present were in a bind, the adviser said. “The president was emotionally energized by the disaster and he wanted options.” He got four of them, in order of extremity. Option one was to do nothing. All involved, the adviser said, understood that was a non-starter. Option two was a slap on the wrist: to bomb an airfield in Syria, but only after alerting the Russians and, through them, the Syrians, to avoid too many casualties. A few of the planners called this the “gorilla option”: America would glower and beat its chest to provoke fear and demonstrate resolve, but cause little significant damage. The third option was to adopt the strike package that had been presented to Obama in 2013, and which he ultimately chose not to pursue. The plan called for the massive bombing of the main Syrian airfields and command and control centers using B1 and B52 aircraft launched from their bases in the U.S. Option four was “decapitation”: to remove Assad by bombing his palace in Damascus, as well as his command and control network and all of the underground bunkers he could possibly retreat to in a crisis.
“Trump ruled out option one off the bat,” the senior adviser said, and the assassination of Assad was never considered. “But he said, in essence: ‘You’re the military and I want military action.’” The president was also initially opposed to the idea of giving the Russians advance warning before the strike, but reluctantly accepted it. “We gave him the Goldilocks option – not too hot, not too cold, but just right.” The discussion had its bizarre moments. Tillerson wondered at the Mar-a-Lago meeting why the president could not simply call in the B52 bombers and pulverize the air base. He was told that B52s were very vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in the area and using such planes would require suppression fire that could kill some Russian defenders. “What is that?” Tillerson asked. Well, sir, he was told, that means we would have to destroy the upgraded SAM sites along the B52 flight path, and those are manned by Russians, and we possibly would be confronted with a much more difficult situation. “The lesson here was: Thank God for the military men at the meeting,” the adviser said. “They did the best they could when confronted with a decision that had already been made.”
Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were fired from two U.S. Navy destroyers on duty in the Mediterranean, the Ross and the Porter, at Shayrat Air Base near the government-controlled city of Homs. The strike was as successful as hoped, in terms of doing minimal damage. The missiles have a light payload – roughly 220 pounds of HBX, the military’s modern version of TNT. The airfield’s gasoline storage tanks, a primary target, were pulverized, the senior adviser said, triggering a huge fire and clouds of smoke that interfered with the guidance system of following missiles. As many as 24 missiles missed their targets and only a few of the Tomahawks actually penetrated into hangars, destroying nine Syrian aircraft, many fewer than claimed by the Trump administration. I was told that none of the nine was operational: such damaged aircraft are what the Air Force calls hangar queens. “They were sacrificial lambs,” the senior adviser said. Most of the important personnel and operational fighter planes had been flown to nearby bases hours before the raid began. The two runways and parking places for aircraft, which had also been targeted, were repaired and back in operation within eight hours or so. All in all, it was little more than an expensive fireworks display.
“It was a totally Trump show from beginning to end,” the senior adviser said. “A few of the president’s senior national security advisers viewed the mission as a minimized bad presidential decision, and one that they had an obligation to carry out. But I don’t think our national security people are going to allow themselves to be hustled into a bad decision again. If Trump had gone for option three, there might have been some immediate resignations.”
After the meeting, with the Tomahawks on their way, Trump spoke to the nation from Mar-a-Lago, and accused Assad of using nerve gas to choke out “the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many … No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” The next few days were his most successful as president. America rallied around its commander in chief, as it always does in times of war. Trump, who had campaigned as someone who advocated making peace with Assad, was bombing Syria 11 weeks after taking office, and was hailed for doing so by Republicans, Democrats and the media alike. One prominent TV anchorman, Brian Williams of MSNBC, used the word “beautiful” to describe the images of the Tomahawks being launched at sea. Speaking on CNN, Fareed Zakaria said: “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States.” A review of the top 100 American newspapers showed that 39 of them published editorials supporting the bombing in its aftermath, including the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Five days later, the Trump administration gathered the national media for a background briefing on the Syrian operation that was conducted by a senior White House official who was not to be identified. The gist of the briefing was that Russia’s heated and persistent denial of any sarin use in the Khan Sheikhoun bombing was a lie because President Trump had said sarin had been used. That assertion, which was not challenged or disputed by any of the reporters present, became the basis for a series of further criticisms:
– The continued lying by the Trump administration about Syria’s use of sarin led to widespread belief in the American media and public that Russia had chosen to be involved in a corrupt disinformation and cover-up campaign on the part of Syria.
– Russia’s military forces had been co-located with Syria’s at the Shayrat airfield (as they are throughout Syria), raising the possibility that Russia had advance notice of Syria’s determination to use sarin at Khan Sheikhoun and did nothing to stop it.
– Syria’s use of sarin and Russia’s defense of that use strongly suggested that Syria withheld stocks of the nerve agent from the UN disarmament team that spent much of 2014 inspecting and removing all declared chemical warfare agents from 12 Syrian chemical weapons depots, pursuant to the agreement worked out by the Obama administration and Russia after Syria’s alleged, but still unproven, use of sarin the year before against a rebel redoubt in a suburb of Damascus.
The briefer, to his credit, was careful to use the words “think,” “suggest” and “believe” at least 10 times during the 30-minute event. But he also said that his briefing was based on data that had been declassified by “our colleagues in the intelligence community.” What the briefer did not say, and may not have known, was that much of the classified information in the community made the point that Syria had not used sarin in the April 4 bombing attack.
The mainstream press responded the way the White House had hoped it would: Stories attacking Russia’s alleged cover-up of Syria’s sarin use dominated the news and many media outlets ignored the briefer’s myriad caveats. There was a sense of renewed Cold War. The New York Times, for example – America’s leading newspaper – put the following headline on its account: “White House Accuses Russia of Cover-Up in Syria Chemical Attack.” The Times’ account did note a Russian denial, but what was described by the briefer as “declassified information” suddenly became a “declassified intelligence report.” Yet there was no formal intelligence report stating that Syria had used sarin, merely a “summary based on declassified information about the attacks,” as the briefer referred to it.
The crisis slid into the background by the end of April, as Russia, Syria and the United States remained focused on annihilating ISIS and the militias of al-Qaida. Some of those who had worked through the crisis, however, were left with lingering concerns. “The Salafists and jihadists got everything they wanted out of their hyped-up Syrian nerve gas ploy,” the senior adviser to the U.S. intelligence community told me, referring to the flare up of tensions between Syria, Russia and America. “The issue is, what if there’s another false flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria? Trump has upped the ante and painted himself into a corner with his decision to bomb. And do not think these guys are not planning the next faked attack. Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He’s incapable of saying he made a mistake.”
The White House did not answer specific questions about the bombing of Khan Sheikhoun and the airport of Shayrat. These questions were send via e-mail to the White House on June 15 and never answered.
[2/4] Yet the OPCW inspected Barzah twice in 2017–most recently last Nov–and found nothing out of the norm. In a report issued just in Mar. of this year, OPCW confirms the Syrian govt was cooperating in the process of demolishing the facility. (p.2 of https://t.co/d4o1nuSFYw)
[3/4] Of Syria’s former 27 CW-related facilities, the Barzah and Jamrayah compounds were the last 2 standing (before last night). Deal in 2013 had all other declared facilities destroyed or decommissioned.
Since Syria gave up its chemical weapons under a 2013 deal Barzah lost its mission. The purpose of the complex could have been changed but the OPCW preferred demolition and Damascus said okay and cooperated.
So not only was the building being inspected regularly but it was going to be torn down by the Syrians themselves shortly.
Instead the US claims it fired $150 million worth of flying bombs at it.
Damascus, SANA- Few of the missiles of the tripartite US-British-French aggression on Syria have hit the scientific research center specialized with cancer medicine in Barzeh, causing extensive damage to the scientific facility.
The facility, called the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries Research Institute, works on preparing the chemical compositions for cancer drugs, and conducts chemical analyses of the materials entering Syria which are used in pharmaceutical and food industries.
The geopolitical record of both countries is clear. The Russian Federation never attacked another country.
America wages permanent wars of aggression, targeting all sovereign independent states, wanting them replaced by pro-Western puppet rule.
Countless millions of corpses, other casualties, and vast destruction attest to US ruthlessness.
America is the greatest human rights abuser on a global scale in world history, an out-of-control hegemon seeking unchallenged dominance, ignoring rule of law principles, no matter the human toll, treating its most vulnerable citizens inhumanely, a nation heading toward full-blown tyranny, threatening humanity’s survival.
As OPCW inspectors begin their work in Douma, Russia’s office at the organization accused Washington of trying to “undermine (its) authority…to probe the alleged (CW incident) before the mission even arrived in the city,” adding:
“Russia reiterates its adherence to provide the mission’s security and won’t interfere with its work.”
US envoy to the OPCW Kenneth Ward lied, saying Moscow “may have tampered” with the Douma site, urging the organization to condemn Syria’s (nonexistent) “reign of chemical terror.”
If OPCW inspectors find no evidence of a Douma CW incident, as falsely claimed by Washington, Britain, and France, it’s clear what’s coming.
Russia will be falsely accused of destroying evidence. The official falsified narrative will remain unchanged, perhaps another false flag CW incident staged elsewhere in Syria for emphasis.
Following overnight Friday US-led aggression on Syrian sites, Vladimir Putin said the following:
The attack was “(a)n act of aggression against a sovereign state that is on the frontline in the fight against terrorism…committed without a mandate from the UN Security Council and in violation of the UN Charter and norms and principles of international law.”
“(T)he US used as a pretext a staged chemical attack against civilians…in Douma.
“…Russian military experts (visiting the alleged site) did not find any traces of chlorine or any other toxic agent. Not a single local resident was able to confirm that a chemical attack had actually taken place.”
The OPCW “dispatched its experts to Syria in order to investigate all the circumstances. (I)n a sign of cynical disdain, (America, Britain and France launched) military action without waiting for the results of the investigation.”
“Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria, where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate government in its counterterrorism efforts.”
Much more than strong condemnation is needed to challenge US-led imperial ruthlessness in Syria and everywhere else.
Russia has yet to show its willing to do anything more than continue pursuing worthless diplomacy with rogue state America.
US administrations haven’t negotiated cooperatively and equitably with Russia on key geopolitical issues since the Reagan/Gorbachev era.
Washington demands all nations bend to its will, wanting all sovereign independent ones eliminated – Russia and China its key targets.
Is eventual nuclear war inevitable? Will US hubris and arrogance doom us all?
Last night’s attack on Damascus was chilling. No question. It dredged up the worst possible scenarios from our sub-conscious and for a few hours made them real. Now that the dust has settled, and we see what’s occurred (and what hasn’t) it’s time to draw some conclusions.
First thing’s first. I reiterate what I said earlier in the week. Trump is finished. Read my article carefully, then overlay two things I didn’t talk about. One, Trump is impulsive and easily manipulated. Two, Trump is ultimately a coward and an appeaser, just like The Saker pegged him to be after bombing Al-Shairat last year.
All bullies are cowards. That’s why they bully.
Because of these personal defects, he gave his resignation speech last night. Be it later this year when he’s impeached/forced to resign for a war crime or in January 2021 after losing to a baked potato, the anti-interventionist crowd who elected him will remember this for a long time.
I want to remind you of what happened last year with Al-Shairat. Trump bombed it while having dinner with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. A light show of sound and fury which ultimately did very little damage. But, it did not signify nothing.
It signified that Trump is out of his depth in foreign policy.
A few months later Seymour Hersh, one of the few journalists left in the U.S., published his expose of what actually happened which led to the decision to bomb Syria. It was at this point I realized Trump wasn’t fit to conduct foreign policy. Trump wanted to go to war fully and was talked out of it by his military advisers, namely Gen. James Mattis.
Mattis of Grave Import
Mattis gave Trump the option he took. A big light show which the Russians allowed to occur so Trump could get some relief from his detractors and satisfy himself that he did something in response to what he perceived to be a morally reprehensible act.
No 4-d chess. No, back door coordination with the Russians. Just a man with a deep sense of morality that needed to feel powerful.Now fast forward to last night. Same story. Different circumstances since now Trump is even more isolated, more paranoid, more betrayed at every level by his political opposition. Do you think he hired John Bolton because he’s become more nuanced in his foreign policy approach?
If you do, then you aren’t just an idiot. You are an heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots.
Sometimes when we do this type of analysis we forget about the men we are actually dealing with versus who we are personally. It’s easy to overlay our own abilities onto a public figure and think that if we can see this, he has to be able to.
But, that’s the wrong approach. Trump is what he is. And re-reading Hersh’s account from last year reminded me of what we’re dealing with here.
They were dealing with a man they considered to be not unkind and not stupid, but his limitations when it came to national security decisions were severe. “Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts,” the adviser said. “He doesn’t read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He’s a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says: ‘Do it.”’
His refusal to act against his domestic enemies who are obviously guilty put him in the position he’s in now, having to trust the word of the worst people in U.S. policy-making, the John Bolton wing of the establishment.To survive last year, Trump made a deal with them. The military would be in charge of foreign policy. Trump would get to play president working on domestic issues. But, during that time things got even worse.
Yes, he got some major domestic wins. He outlasted his opposition long enough to reveal the depths of their depravity and mendacity. But, all that time the center of the foreign policy establishment in Washington closed in on him. And the siren’s call of moralistic intervention to stop Iran and/or Russia was consistently impressed on him.
He has a near obsession with being the anti-Obama. It defines so many of his actions.
It’s why he’s willing to tweet out a complete reversal of what he advocated for in 2013, for Obama not to bomb Syria. He was right then. But, as president, he’s defined Obama as his shadow, everything he’s not. And with good reason, Obama is likely behind much of the opposition he’s dealing with every day.These things build up over time. They paralyze a man as self-absorbed as Trump. He’s no angel, but he was the best option we had in 2016. Our options were Hillary Clinton or him. We chose Trump.
But, make no mistake, we still elected DONALD TRUMP.
And that leads me to where we are now.
Yesterday I wrote that I thought Mattis and Trump were trying to run out the Neoconservatives clock on bombing Syria. I was half-right. Trump had already gone fully over to the neocons approach and Mattis talked him out of it.
Bolton pushed for a broader attack hard and Mattis put the kibosh on it because he’s the adult in the room.If not, the Neocons would finally have the war they’ve been salivating for these past forty plus years. But, things have changed.
Russian anti-missile systems are too strong for us to deal with. It would take the kind of saturation bombing reserved only for Defcon 1 scenarios to attack Syria with the intention of ‘winning.’
The Syrians claim to have shot down 70% of the incoming missiles using old Russian anti-missile batteries, S-200’s, Buks, etc. Even if they are exaggerating and only shot down half of the missiles. It only makes the next steps clearer. Russia will sell Assad S-300’s now.
Only Winning Matters
Looking at the results of the attack last night I fully believe it was another ‘Goldilocks Option’ from Mattis like last year. While we may not have informed the Russians the attack was coming, France may have. Moreover, France may have backed out of actually firing missiles at all.
We didn’t hit any Iranian, Russian or Hezbollah installations. The Israelis will be incensed. In fact, this was a no-winner outcome. Everyone was weakened by this to some degree in the short term, except the target of the attack itself, Bashar al-Assad.
Assad will now move on to the next victory in the campaign to re-form Syria. While Mattis just gave the rebels carte blanche to stage another chemical weapons attack in Dara’a, which is the next likely area to be cleansed of ‘rebels.’
But, that’s where Mattis is smarter than Trump. He knows that even if one of Assad’s commanders went off the reservation and used chlorine gas here, something I give a 5 to 10% probability of, it’s not worth World War III over. He knows that horrible things happen in war. And that leaders and civilian populations cannot be held accountable for the deficits of one man or small cadre of men.
There’s no real option for us to go deeper into Syria, despite what the Israeli lobby and the Neocons in the U.S. want. This attack didn’t help them. By doing this Mattis continues to let Trump blow off steam, make his points and hasten the day that we can actually get out of the Middle East.
Meanwhile Trump just ensured that he has no bargaining power in North Korea, is aligned with the criminal U.K. government in illegally bombing a sovereign nation in violation of all international law and pushed Russia, Iran and China into a closer alliance.
His opponents will hang him with this strike. Even if he was coerced into this against his will, it signals to the world he isn’t in control of anything and has no real power. So much for the Art of the Deal.
Up until now, much of Trump’s successes have come from his allies supporting him by leaking damaging material domestically or covering for his mistakes internationally. They did this because they believed him to be sincere in wanting to devolve the U.S. empire and bring rationality back to international politics.
And I still believe he is.
But, with his unwillingness to evolve and become better they aren’t going to let him get his wins anymore. There’s no upside for Putin to let Trump take the credit for purging Syria of ISIS or brokering peace with North Korea anymore.
Trump is hopeless on the international stage. Another false flag, another impotent light show. He’s not Orange Jesus, he’s a deeply flawed, if well-intentioned man. And it’s time we stopped the cult of personality and begin the hard work of Draining the Swamp.
That’s why he’s done. And that’s why we’re not out of the woods yet. For now, we can let out a breath but this isn’t over.
The neocons will push for Trump to fire Mattis next. If that happens, duck.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s foreign ministry lashed out at the Israeli regime for its missile strikes on the T4 airbase in Syria’s Homs province, warning that Tel Aviv will be punished for its aggressive action.
“I think that the usurper and occupying Zionist regime will sooner or later receive the necessary responses which will make them regret their deeds. They cannot do something and escape punishment,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters in Tehran on Monday.
He underlined that aggression against the Syrian territories and sovereignty is “unacceptable”, and said, “The resistance and Syrian military forces can defend their territorial integrity and national sovereignty and will do so.”
In relevant remarks last Tuesday, Iranian Supreme Leader’s top aide for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati cautioned that Israel should be waiting for a powerful response to its April 8 airstrikes on the T4 airbase in the Syrian province of Homs.
Velayati was quoted by the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel as saying upon arrival in Damascus that the Israeli missile attack on the Syrian T4 airbase “will not remain unanswered”.
He also lauded the Syrian army for its “vital” victories against the terrorists in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus.
Velayati is in Damascus at the invitation of the Syrian officials for the latest coordination in the fight against the terrorist groups.
Tehran declared last Monday that four of its military advisers have been martyred in Israel’s overnight airstrikes on T4 airbase in Homs, although later reports said the number of the Iranian casualties stand at 7.
Two Israeli fighter jets attacked the Syrian army’s T4 military base in Homs province from the Lebanese airspace, killing and wounding over a dozen militaries, including 7 Iranian military advisers.
The Russian Defense Ministry said last Monday that Israeli F-15 fighter jets targeted Syria’s airbase. The warplanes fired eight guided missiles, but Syrian air defense units shot down five before they could hit the airfield. Three of the missiles reached the Western part of the airfield.
The Israeli fighters did not enter Syrian airspace and launched the strikes while flying over Lebanon.
The Tel Aviv regime has launched sporadic attacks against various targets on Syrian soil over the past few years, in assaults slammed by Damascus as attempts to boost terrorist groups who have been suffering heavy defeats on the battlefield with President Bashar Assad forces.
The latest such attacks took place in mid-February when Israel bombed a Syrian Army facility in Central Syria. Damascus shot down at least one Israeli F-16 returning from the bombing raid.
The Syrian army has seized Israeli-made arms and military equipment from militants fighting pro-Damascus forces on numerous occasions ever since the war of militancy started in the country. Israel has also been providing medical treatment to the militants wounded in the Arab country.
TEHRAN (FNA)- A number of British military men were held captive by the Syrian army in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus, media reports disclosed on Wednesday, saying that they had infiltrated the region for the last month US plot to attack Damascus in collaboration with terrorists and NATO forces that failed.
The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel’s correspondent in Moscow reported that a number of British forces have been captured during the military operations in Eastern Ghouta.
Earlier reports had disclosed last month that foreign military forces were deployed in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus to launch a ground assault against Damascus in cooperation with the US.
The US and Israel planned to launch attacks on Damascus from several fronts in collaboration with the NATO and Jordan, but the plot failed after the Syrian army scored rapid, major victories in Eastern Ghouta.
Informed sources disclosed that the US and Israel intended to support the terrorists in Eastern Ghouta by airstrikes so that they could capture vast areas of Damascus to pave the ground for the Syrian government’s collapse.
“After the plot was disclosed, the Syrian-Russian military commanders started operations in Eastern Ghouta to repel it,” the sources said.
After the failure of the plot in March, the US and Turkey sought to rescue the foreign militants trapped in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus and take them to Idlib as they were facing the Syrian army’s rapid advances in the region.
After the army’s expanding march in Eastern Ghouta and failure of the US-Israeli plot to conduct an effective offensive on Damascus, the US command center rushed to evacuate allied militants and agents operating for Israel, Jordan and NATO from the region.
Informed sources then said although the Turkish officials said they were ready to help evacuation of al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay’at or the Levant Liberation Board) terrorists from Eastern Ghouta to take them to Idlib, this seemed to be a cover as they really meant to rescue their special foreign forces that were among the ranks of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra in Syria.
“Therefore, the US has ordered Jeish al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman and other terrorist groups to allow evacuation of civilians from Eastern Ghouta to army-held regions in a bid to provide the ground for these foreign agents to also leave Ghouta in disguise and enable the Turkish intelligence service to send them to specified regions in al-Tanf and Northern Syria which are under the control of the US troops,” they said.
Yet, the US operations room in al-Tanf base ordered end of all operations by the aforementioned allied forces after the terrorists were defeated in Eastern Ghouta and the collapse of the two towns of al-Nashabiyeh and al-Mohammadiyeh on the first days of the Syrian army’s offensives in Eastern Ghouta.
Also the US CENTCOM urged withdrawal of allied forces from Eastern Ghouta to Arabayn, Zamalka and Douma before dividing Ghouta into three areas to pave the ground for their withdrawal from Ghouta region.
Militants allied to the US troops in Eastern Syria had revealed in March that the US planned to stage the attack in a different region further to the East between the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzur.
As the US prepares further sanctions against Russia in response to its support for the Syrian regime, Moscow is still struggling to find ways to retaliate for the first salvo imposed this month.
Measures to be debated in Russia’s parliament this week propose banning US companies from working with Russia’s aerospace and nuclear energy industries, potentially affecting big US groups such as Boeing and General Electric, which would endanger bilateral trade worth almost $30bn a year.
“We can choose from a set of measures depending on the situation, depending on what actions our detractors are taking,” Arkady Dvorkovich, Russia’s deputy prime minister, said of the proposal put to parliament late last week. “Among other things, we will use separate restrictive measures against those countries that imposed sanctions against us to reduce supplies from them . . . Of course, we will do everything so that domestic production does not decrease, but grows.”
Russia has nowhere near the global clout of the US, limiting its options to strike back. But the draft law targets sectors where US companies rely on Russian products. Senior officials have stressed that Vladimir Putin will make the final decision and that measures adopted will not damage local companies.
Lawmakers behind the proposals said restrictions on co-operation in the nuclear energy, aerospace and rocket manufacturing sectors could be most effective given Russia’s heightened importance in these areas, spooking the Russian companies that stand to lose out on lucrative US exports.
Rosatom, the national nuclear energy monopoly, supplies large amounts of enriched uranium to the US, accounting for about 5 per cent of the country’s total electricity supply. The monopoly also works with US nuclear companies in repatriating and processing radioactive materials from third countries and co-operates with GE in nuclear fuel fabrication.
The company’s deputy head told the FT last year that international co-operation was a crucial part of the company’s strategy. Rosatom is working on 34 potential new nuclear plants, the largest order book in the world, and often works with western rivals to source equipment or fuel.
“It is clear that the draft bill is very raw and ill-thought [through], not just to do with nuclear but also regarding other sectors too,” said a person briefed on the company’s stance. Rosatom declined to comment.
We can choose from a set of measures depending on the situation, depending on what actions our detractors are taking
Proposed measures would ban exports of titanium to the US, a move designed to hurt Boeing, the aerospace company, which buys about 35 per cent of all its titanium from VSMPO-Avisma, Russia’s titanium monopolist, a subsidiary of state defence conglomerate Rostec.
Boeing has a Russian joint venture with VSMPO and plans to buy $18bn in Russian titanium in the next decade, the company’s Russia chief said last year. VSMPO, which sells 70 per cent of its titanium abroad, is opening a factory for Boeing’s titanium parts this year that will triple capacity. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, which the company produces at a rate of 12 a month, uses 56 different titanium parts produced in Russia.
The aerospace company said it was aware of the “anti-American” legislation, adding that it was “monitoring the situation to understand what impact there may be to our ongoing business and partnerships in the region”.
VSMPO said in a statement that any sanctions would affect its export sales and 20,000 employees: “We are hoping for wisdom and foresight from Russian lawmakers, who, we are convinced, could not take a decision that may negatively affect the Russian titanium sector and the country’s economy as a whole.”
As with Russia’s earlier so-called counter sanctions against western food imports, it is the Russian people who would be most harmed
Lawmakers are also exploring banning US-Russian co-operation in the rocket engine sector. The move appears aimed at banning the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, from acquiring the Russian-made RD-180 engines the US Air Force uses to launch the Atlas 5 rocket. The Pentagon has said switching to US-made rockets would cost between $1.5bn and $5bn. The United Launch Alliance did not respond to a request for comment.
The bill also includes a proposal to allow Russian companies to ignore selected US intellectual property rights, essentially legalising pirating of copyrighted products. In 2016, Russia paid $5bn for usage of all foreign intellectual property.
Proposals also include restricting imports of US pharmaceutical products, alcohol and agricultural products, while also banning US auditing companies from the market. The US is Russia’s fourth-largest trading partner, with 2017 imports from the US of $12.7bn and exports to the country of $17bn.
A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said: “We are tracking the Duma’s consideration of these measures. As with Russia’s earlier so-called counter sanctions against western food imports, it is the Russian people who would be most harmed by these measures, as they would lose access to high quality US products.”
Additional reporting by Patti Waldmeir and Shawn Donnan
The latest action in Syria is that policy in action. Let’s take a step back and understand this critical but boringly predictable development in Syria, the players involved, their respective relevant histories, and what markets can expect.
First let’s look at War Inc. or the Military as a business, or as we have outlined in a detailed article “Cult of War” (a good primer read if you’re not up on this topic). With 800 Billion + per year and a likely real spend of well over a Trillion USD, the US taxpayer needs to get something for their money. The Military is in a constant state of self-justification. The US outspends the enemy by such a large figure, there are stockpiles of bombs, planes, tanks, guns, logistic supplies, boats, aircraft carriers, satellites, and just millions of expensive assets getting dusty. The US could fight World War 2 on 2 fronts and a war in Space and still have assets left over. There are hundreds of military bases, millions of personnel, it has become just a massive super entity above Presidents, above the Elite, above Governments. By itself, as a form of Artificial Intelligence, the Military will do anything to prove the need it serves and survive. The glaring problem – no enemies! The number of real enemies is dwindling. But Syria has been on the CIA’s hit list for some time, controlling key Oil transport sites and other resources. Not to mention Israel has wanted to destroy the unfriendly regime for a long time. Cult of War needs to create conflicts of any size, it’s a ‘use it or lose it’ mentality. There’s no better training drill than the real thing.
The Lusitania set sail for Liverpool on May 1st, 1915 from New York harbor. It was carrying millions of rounds of ammunition and shrapnel. The previous captain Daniel Dow had resigned because of mixing civilian passengers with munitions. The ship was to have a British battleship escort called the Juno but was recalled before the rendezvous in spite of the knowledge that a Uboat was active in the path of the Lusitania.
False Flag operations are nothing new, Hitler burned down the government building and claimed to be able to catch the terrorists and restore order in Germany, finally naming himself Chancellor. Every powerful regime has a False Flag that they ‘own’ in order to justify their 10 year run in power. Their time is limited, people forget, so a new event is necessary every few years, custom tailored to the situation.
This false flag was planned and executed by MI5 (British Intelligence), although the details of the operation are as yet unclear. What is clear is that it is a Hollywood style staged event which was put together in the last minute with many mistakes and inconsistencies (they didn’t have a script supervisor!) as pointed out by countless fact-based witnesses and other governments:
Speaking with EuroNews, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizov, said “Russian military specialists have visited this region, walked on those streets, entered those houses, talked to local doctors and visited the only functioning hospital in Douma, including its basement where reportedly the mountains of corpses pile up. There was not a single corpse and even not a single person who came in for treatment after the attack.””But we’ve seen them on the video!” responds EuroNews correspondent Andrei Beketov.”There was no chemical attack in Douma, pure and simple,” responds Chizov. “We’ve seen another staged event. There are personnel, specifically trained – and you can guess by whom – amongst the so-called White Helmets, who were already caught in the act with staged videos.” “All these facts show… that no chemical weapons were used in the town of Douma, as it was claimed by the White Helmets.” “All the accusations brought by the White Helmets, as well as their photos… allegedly showing the victims of the chemical attack, are nothing more than a yet another piece of fake news and an attempt to disrupt the ceasefire,” said the Russian Reconciliation Center.
Of course, US warmongers will say that the Russians are protecting the Assad regime. There’s plenty of video and other evidence for internet sleuths to sort through in the coming days. But we have seen this so many times before we can guess the outcome fairly easily. It was a false flag, done by the British, in a sad and pathetic last attempt to save what remaining Elite aristocrats have over the masses, post Brexit. Although actual war is unavoidable in Syria now, one possible outcome of this is a populist movement against such politics, as is happening in Hungary.
Support of the US Dollar
So what’s the real reason the US chooses Syria to bomb and not Greenland for example?
“The Chinese have recently issued the gold backed Yuan, which they, and others, have vowed to use to sell/purchase oil (amongst other things). The last two nations that tried to introduce a currency to compete against the petrodollar were Libya and Iraq. The US needs that pipeline through Syria even more than ever now, especially if they are to compete for European gas/oil markets (presently controlled by Russia and their pipeline) and the Chinese Yuan. But i’m sure none of that has anything to do with it…”
It’s not only about Syria itself, you see. The GDP of Syria won’t make a difference on the USD. It’s about stopping a revolution. If Syria uses a Russian – Chinese financial and energy system perhaps it will spread to Jordan, Lebanon, and who next? If half the world is suddenly using a Yuan denominated trading market, it would threaten US hegemony. So all alternatives need to be stopped in their tracks, period. That isn’t an opinion it is the policy in DC based on research by companies like RAND.
Trump seems to be a victim of the international cabal that was a step ahead of him the whole time. In the opinion of this author, Trump is not a ‘plant’ from the beginning meant to deceive the voters. The UK is the master planner of this operation, including but not limited to the false flag. When domestic attempts by the deep state to derail Trump failed, they realized a coordinated effort from abroad was a better approach, one that Trump would be defenseless against, as his experience in international politics is zero (before getting into the White House). Hence, Trump’s involvement in this quagmire is meant to ensnare him in a series of decisions that will weaken his domestic position, alienate his base, while achieving goals of the War Party, Zionists, the Oil industry, and other interests in this confluence. Trump was forced with a choice: pick sides, choose the Russian facts (there was no chemical attack) or the British lies. Being attacked by the domestic media by idiotic yet influential forces, staging a dangerous trade war, and coming to the conclusion of a Russian collusion investigation, backed Trump into a corner. If he had chosen to side with Russia, it could have backfired and blown up in his face. Democrats, Leftists, and other Trump enemies would have pounced on the issue accusing him of being Putin’s lap boy all along. Being that this is Trump’s first rodeo, he doesn’t have the complex knowledge base or pool of advisers to deal with this strongly and independently. In fact he hasn’t been able to build a strong team of advisers independent of deep state snakes working against him. This is not his fault, it is just the reality of how intertwined everything is in DC. “Drain the Swamp” is a great marketing slogan, and a noble idea – but implementing it may prove impossible. And on the surface, everyone loves the hero story – an evil monster gassed innocent people, and we are ‘saving’ them. This is a great excuse to spend billions on bombs we don’t need and use them. He bought the party line of the MIC “We have to bomb the village to save it”:
“The United States will be a partner and a friend, but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.”
“Tonight, I ask all Americans to say a prayer for our noble warriors and our allies as they carry out their missions. We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria.”
God will bring comfort to those we are bombing? Really? Can he be any more offensive?
This is the beginning of a series of events that Trump cannot dig himself out of. The MIC won’t stop until the majority of Syria is destroyed and key resources are controlled by US forces. Some of us remember in the 90s there was ‘chatter’ that the NeoCons were planning a false flag in a major US City that was ‘nuclear’ – whether that was 911 or an event that never happened we’ll never know. But one thing is clear – they have the weapons, so they will kill all that stand in their way. Whether he is one of theirs or is being manipulated by them is irrelevant for his base which was largely anti-establishment and anti-war, anti-globalist, which he has proven to be the opposite.
World War 3
With the ascent of Russia, China, and smaller states building their armed forces without reason, it is only inevitable that they are used. War between China, Russia, the US and allies is inevitable. But wait – it’s not what you are thinking! There will not likely be strikes on US, Chinese, or Russian soil. Rather, as in the Hunger Games, war games will be played in theaters such as the South China Sea, Syria, and other hotspots.
World War 3 will likely last 50 – 100 years, like the cold war, it will be an going unresolved war in places like Syria. Flare ups and skirmishes will be the extent of the action. Nukes may be used but tactical nukes in a limited, regional capacity. PROBABLY. Of course, it could completely spiral out of control. But deep analysis indicates not. There needs to be just enough war to justify the military and not enough to destroy it. In the same way the MIC needs a war to justify its own existence, a complete obliteration of a major player would also be an endgame (including but not limited to a humanitarian outcry if a major city was destroyed in one bombing such as London or Berlin.)
Remember folks there was only one country that has used nuclear bombs to kill millions and that country is the United States of America.
The War Inc. model – 2 new players
China and Russia are both copying the War Inc. model from the United States. Both countries do not have any real threats (except from the United States, but as a game) with the exception of terrorism. Japan has no army and is not a threat to China. China has destroyed all the regional competitors and has no real major state enemy. Domestic politics may be a bigger threat to China than any foreign military (as China was once a chaotic, multi-state region). China is a little bit like the Soviet Union, but through the prism of their culture of course. The point is multi-ethnic super states usually collapse given enough time, as there are competing domestic interests at play. That is China’s focus not to be a military power, their external show of force is to play the American game. America needs an enemy. The China ‘copy and paste’ model, a threat to the IP of US tech companies, is also at play with War Inc.
Russia is an interesting case here. During the Soviet Union Russia was a defense oriented country that did little in foreign countries outside of the Iron Curtain. After decades of high quality propaganda, at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, Russia realized that if they wanted to be a major player in the world and participate in the new growing economic power center they needed to switch to Capitalism, which they did in 1991. This was a hard shift, it is difficult for those outside Communist countries to understand what it means to ‘switch’ from a state controlled economy to ‘free market’ economy. Russia’s markets were so free in the 90s it led to massive growth by organized crime which was borderline legit business (they were like the Robber Baron’s of the industrial age in USA). Basically Russia is 80 years behind the US, socially. Since 1991 Russia has taken all the advice given to them by their Western economic advisers. They have implemented a stock market, there are entrepreneurs in Russia starting businesses on a daily basis, they even have a Silicon Valley style incubator in Moscow Skolkovo (and others – see more info on starting a venture in Russia here). Russia has implemented many reforms in their plan to make Russia a market leader. They have a long way to go, their manufacturing standards have become a joke when Putin opened the door of a Russian car and the handle came off. But the world seems to forget that this was the ‘Communist’ country that the West sold on a better, capitalist life. One of the trimmings of a Capitalist society is War Inc. The partnership between Syria and Russia is a natural one; there are critical oil pipeline routes in Syria and Syria is a Christian foothold in a predominantly Muslim region. Russia didn’t invent the War Inc. model however it is now operating it based on a business plan that was sent to them by Washington during the Cold War. It should come as no surprise that they are doing what they were convinced to do by Capitalist Generals in Washington. Billions upon billions were spent on Hollywood produced propaganda programs including films, radio (Air America), Television programs, news, and later internet campaigns. They are influenced by reports such as “What the bombing of Syria means for your 401k” and other reports. Russia is playing the role of War Inc. – a model copied directly from US interventions in Iraq and other places (Iraq is most similar). There is no real skin in the game for either country, Syria is just a proxy state to be used and abused for the war profiteers. This is the first time Russia is playing this role and it is playing it well. It wouldn’t be surprising if Russian and US generals were exchanging encrypted communications on their competing computer game theory simulations while contemplating their next moves with each others open feedback.
Vacuum dirt analogy
Why are vacuum cleaning manufacturers honest and politicians are not? Because when you buy a vacuum, you immediately see how it works (the dirt and particles are caught in the transparent tank). If a vacuum didn’t work or had poor suction it would be immediately apparent and people would return them or complain. Politicians control the information flow, especially during war, because they have power. This is especially true of government employees who are publicly elected. In private business there is a lot of oversight and ultimately you will fail or succeed, you can’t lie to investors quarter after quarter.
Armchair Intellectuals and the Great American Hobby
Finally, there is this class in America not sure how to describe them, perhaps “Saturday Night War Experts” – they support any show of US force. They are mostly middle aged males with health issues, mostly on multiple prescriptions, they enjoy watching infographics explaining the differences between cruise missiles and smart bombs, right after their 5th glass of Merlot. This class isn’t completely handicapped, but they choose to spend their free time sitting in Lazyboy chairs watching Fox News and other sources during wartime. When they’re not tuned in, they enjoy to debate with their friends different methods how the US could use its arsenal to completely destroy Syria or “Make it GLASS” as I’m sure all readers have heard someone say once. This grotesque hobby is what gives those in DC power to enact such measures. You don’t read headlines that Norway has unilaterally destroyed Sweden. In New Zealand for example there is a ban on Nuclear anything.
The info trade
During the last Iraq was there was an interesting correlation between US strikes, war actions and info, and the US Dollar. It was caused by speculators not real money flows. War is information and the markets live on information. All markets will be impacted by this war, it can even be a trading strategy by itself. Defense stocks will have a boost on successful missions. Key victories will lead to USD being bid up. It’s a busy time and there’s a lot happening. War traders must be tuned in 24/7 as the smallest bit of info that hasn’t hit the wires yet can cause markets to move. Traders need to become information junkies.
Don’t skip over the obvious facts that are staring us in the face. This is the beginning of World War 3 – but don’t worry – it’s good for the economy. Game on!
What just happened this morning in Syria was nothing more than a carefully “choreographed” dance between the US and Russia that allowed both rivals to “save face” and avoid further escalating the situation.
The US launched over 100 cruise missiles at Syria together with its French and British allies, although the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that 71 of them were intercepted by the targeted country’s Soviet-era air-defense systems.
“Superficial” vs. “Substantial”
As predicted, the strike was mostly “superficial” and lacked the “substance” needed to escalate tensions further between the West and Russia over their Syrian proxy war, but so too was the response somewhat “superficial” as well.
It’s difficult to imagine how such decades-old defense systems downed so many state-of-the-art cruise missiles, especially when considering that Iraq’s similar systems were largely ineffective during the 2003 “shock and awe” campaign against comparatively more dated munitions.
It was widely reported in the run-up to this strike that the US intended to target certain facilities in Syria, and this “leak” was deliberately planned in order to “telegraph” the locations to Russia and its on-the-ground partners.
In addition, it has also been confirmed that the US and Russia were communicating this entire time through the so-called “deconfliction channel, so it’s very possible that Washington warned Moscow in advance of the exact targets that it planned to hit and maybe even when.
This would explain why Syria’s Soviet-era air-defense systems were surprisingly more effective against modern-day cruise missiles than Iraq’s exact same ones were 15 years earlier against much more dated weapons at the time.
Not only that, but this “choreographed” exercise of “military statecraft” allowed both Great Powers to “save face”, with the US being able to prove that it delivered on its threats while Russia can say that its Soviet-era systems indirectly defended Syria.
None of this is untrue either, and each party can therefore claim “victory” while defending themselves from their rival’s accusations that they actually suffered a crushing “soft power defeat” by dismissing such claims as nothing more than “propaganda”, a defense that’s very convincing to their respective publics given the New Cold War tensions and resultant distrust between both sides.
Taking this “show” of “military statecraft” even further, Russia has now suggested that it might sell S-300 missiles to Syria, which on the surface might sound like a “game-changing” development but upon further examination it can be argued that this is just another “soft power” move.
After all, if Syria’s Soviet-era air defenses were already so effective, then Damascus would have little need for anything more advanced, nor would many other countries in the world who have relatively newer defense systems.
The S-300 announcement should therefore be taken very cautiously since it implies that this morning’s events were just a “show” and that Syria’s old defense weapons are in practice pretty ineffective unless the military knows in advance what the targets will be (as is now proven) and potentially (as is speculated) when they’ll be hit.
Preserving The “Balance Of Power” With “Israel”
This sobering realization nevertheless is the reason why so many countries are still interested in Russia’s S-400 air-defense systems precisely because they promise to be exponentially more effective than their decades-older Soviet counterparts.
That said, Russia is reluctant to sell these units to Syria because it doesn’t want to upset the “balance of power” between the Arab Republic and Moscow’s “Israeli” ally, as that would undermine the 21st-century “balancing” act that forms the basis of Russia’s grand strategy by providing much too effective of a deterrent to any future “Israeli” strikes.
In redirecting the Syrian public’s attention away from this “politically inconvenient” — and arguably from Damascus’ perspective, “unpopular” — fact, it can be expected that Russia will resort to hard-hitting but eloquent rhetoric at the UN in denouncing the US’ naked and illegal aggression against a sovereign state that’s doing its utmost to fight terrorism on humanity’s behalf, though these moving words will be ineffective in getting the globalist body to do anything of tangible significance because of the certainty that the US will veto any Security Council resolution.
“Victory” For Everyone
Altogether, the “choreographed” dance that occurred this morning will be seen as more of a “victory” for Russia and Syria than for the US, though none of this means that the American-led aggression will stop anytime soon because the driving reason behind it still hasn’t been addressed.
The US and its allies want Iran & Hezbollah removed from Syria, and they can be expected to continue staging false flag chemical weapons and other provocations in order to invent the pretext for carrying out more “surgical strikes” in pressuring Damascus to request their “phased withdrawal”.
Russia has already proven and officially said through its diplomatic and military representatives that it will not intervene unless its its troops are endangered, which is unlikely to ever happen so long as the “deconfliction channels” continue to function as effectively as they have in ensuring that this tripwire for action isn’t triggered.
The Coming “Suggestions” For Compromise”
Regardless of the public’s personal feelings on this matter, Russia will not sacrifice its servicemen just for the sake of keeping Iran & Hezbollah in Syria when its military mandate has always strictly been to carry out anti-terrorist missions and never to protect either of those two or the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
Now that President Putin declared on several occasions that Daesh has been militarily defeated, Russia sees no reason to continue committing its military to Syria on the same scale as before, hence the large-scale withdrawal in December of last year and Moscow’s dedicated focus on advancing a so-called “political solution” to the conflict.
To that end, while the US and its allies’ strikes were totally uncoordinated with Russia despite Moscow being made indirectly (and possibly directly via the “deconfliction channel”) aware of where these missiles would hit and speculatively even when, there’s a chance that this morning’s events might actually advance Russia’s peacemaking objectives if they serve to pressure Damascus into “compromising” on its hitherto “obstinate” position in refusing to seriously countenance any of the proposals set forth in the Russian-written “draft constitution” that was first unveiled 18 months ago.
From the author’s personal interpretation of Russia’s developing attitude towards the peace process, Damascus’ “dilly dallying” risks unraveling the elaborating “balancing” act that Moscow is attempting as it seeks to “manage” the Mideast in the wake of the “vacuum” that was left by the US’ “Pivot to Asia”, so it may cynically hope that America’s aggression backfires on it by inadvertently stimulating the Russian-led peace process.
Even so, a “solution” would have to inevitably be found in removing the “trigger” for external aggression against Syria, which has always been predicated on “containing” Iran, but with the SAA and its Iranian & Hezbollah allies unable to conventionally (key word) counter and ultimately put a stop to US-led attacks while Russia & Turkey sit on the sidelines and refuse to get dragged into this dimension of the conflict, Moscow will more than likely “suggest” behind closed doors that Damascus “compromise” on this issue as well unless it “wants” the war to indefinitely drag on.
At this point there’s no telling whether the uncoordinated combination of US-led multilateral aggression and Russian “suggestions” about various “compromises” will succeed in changing Damascus’ calculations towards the “Resistance”, but all that’s known so far is that the Syrian “show” that’s evidently on display will continue to go on, with the ball being in President Assad’s court over how much longer the world will have to watch this multisided “military statecraft”.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
Moscow, SANA – Head of the Operations Authority of the Russian General Staff, Sergey Rodzkoy, said that the Syrian Air Force downed more than 70 missiles of the tripartite US, British and French aggression on several military sites in Syria on Saturday at dawn.
He added that the strike was directed on the day that the fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was scheduled to start work regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma.
Earlier today, Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that the timing of the aggression, which coincides with the arrival of a team from OPCW fact-finding to investigate claims related to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, mainly aims at impeding the work of the mission, anticipating its results and putting pressure on it in an attempt to uncover their lies and fabrications.
President Donald Trump has promised to support legislation protecting the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the drug, a move that could lift a threat to the industry made by the U.S. attorney general just three months ago.
Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said Friday that Trump made the pledge to him in a Wednesday night conversation.
It marked the latest flip by the president who pledged while he was campaigning to respect states that legalized marijuana but also criticized legalization and implied it should be stopped.
Gardner has been pushing to reverse a decision made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January that removed prohibitions that kept federal prosecutors from pursuing cases against people who were following pot laws in states such as Colorado that have legalized the drug.
Marijuana has been fully legalized in eight states, and 24 states allow some form of marijuana use.
“President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all,” Gardner said in a statement.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Gardner’s account was accurate and the president supported states’ rights in the matter.
Gardner hopes to introduce bipartisan legislation keeping the federal government from interfering in state marijuana markets.
Marijuana legalization advocates were ebullient.
“We may now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mason Tvert, who spearheaded the 2012 ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado. “This is one more step toward ending the irrational policy of marijuana prohibition, not only in Colorado but throughout the country.”
Other marijuana supporters were wary given the president’s record of reversing positions and pledges of legislative support.
“This cannot be another episode of @realDonaldTrump telling somebody whatever they want to hear, only to change directions later on,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter.
Opponents of legalization said they were concerned. “We hope the president — who doesn’t want to be known as the ‘Pot President’ — will reverse course soon,” said Kevin Sabet, founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “This reckless plan will not go unanswered.”
During his campaign, Trump said states should be able to chart their own course on marijuana. “I’m a states person, it should be up to the states, absolutely,” he told one television interviewer in Colorado in 2016.
However, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015, Trump said he supported medical marijuana but called recreational pot “bad.”
He singled out Colorado, the first state in the nation to allow recreational marijuana sales. “They’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado – some big problems,” Trump told the crowd.
When he selected Sessions, a former federal prosecutor and U.S. senator from Alabama, as his attorney general, marijuana supporters girded themselves for a crackdown. But Gardner said Sessions had promised him he’d do nothing to interfere with Colorado’s robust marijuana market.
Gardner said he was blindsided when Sessions made his announcement in January regarding pot prosecutions.
In retaliation, Gardner used his power as a senator to prevent consideration of any nominees for the Department of Justice — an extraordinary step for a senator to use against an administration run by another member of his party.
Some of Gardner’s fellow GOP senators groused at the impact of the hold, and Gardner allowed some nominees to proceed in a “good-faith” gesture last month. On Friday, he said he was fully releasing his holds on Department of Justice nominations.
The action came amid widespread speculation that Trump will remove Justice officials overseeing the Russia investigation. Replacements of any of those officials would require new nominations.
Gardner and the Department of Justice have been in discussions for months to get the holds lifted. Gardner has met with Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official overseeing the Russia probe who has been the target of Trump’s ire.
Legislation to protect states where marijuana is legal is still being drafted.
It may be modeled on a 2014 budget amendment that prevented the Department of Justice from spending money to enforce federal laws against marijuana users and businesses in states that legalized the drug and were following all applicable state laws.
Gardner’s office is hopeful of getting enough bipartisan support for the bill to pass the GOP-controlled Congress — something the president’s backing would aid.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.
Facilities would stand on proposed canal zone isolating Qatar
Plan would turn Saudi border with Qatar into nuclear dump
Saudi Arabia plans to build a military base and nuclear dump on a proposed project that would turn the peninsula of Qatar into an island, the Al Riyadh newspaper reported.
On Thursday, the Sabq online newspaper reported that authorities are considering digging a 60 kilometer (37.5 mile) canal, measuring 200 meters wide and up to 20 meters deep, running the entire length of the strip of Saudi territory that borders Qatar. Al Riyadh, citing people familiar with the venture, reported that Saudi Arabia would earmark part of the canal zone for the base and a facility for nuclear waste from its planned reactors.
The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.A.E. appeared to confirm the canal project, with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeting that Qatar’s “silence on the canal project is proof of their fear and confusion.”
Construction of the canal would deepen the rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, which cut trade and diplomatic ties with the emirate in June. Qatar denies their charges that it supports terrorism and meddles in their affairs.
According to Sabq, the 2.8 billion riyal ($750 million) project is awaiting licensing, with construction expected to be completed within 12 months of approval. Al Riyadh reported that the Saudi-Qatar border post has been cleared of customs and immigration personnel so border guards can take over management of the region.
The project will be financed by private Saudi and Emirati investors, with Egyptian companies carrying out the digging, Al Riyadh said. Separately, Emirati authorities also plan to build a nuclear waste dump “at the closest point to Qatar on the Emirati border,” the paper reported.
PARIS (Reuters) – A Russian warplane this weekend flew over a French warship at low altitude in the eastern Mediterranean, a deliberate breach of international regulations, a French naval source said on Tuesday.
The incident, first reported by Le Point magazine, comes as tensions mount between Russia and Western nations following a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria on April 7. At least 60 people were killed in the attack, according to a Syrian relief agency.
France, the United States and their allies are considering a coordinated military response after accusing the Russia-backed Syrian government of being behind the attack. Damascus and Moscow have denied a chemical attack took place.
The weekly magazine said the Russian plane had flown over frigate Aquitaine over the weekend and was fully-armed.
The Aquitaine is equipped with 16 cruise missiles and 16 surface-to-air missiles. It is currently operating off Lebanese shores alongside U.S. ships as part of France’s contingent fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
“The flight took place several days ago,” a French naval source said, adding that France had contacted Russian authorities over the matter.
“Passes by military aircraft over warships are things that happen at sea. When it is deemed too close, the opposing party is notified,” the source said.
The Russian air force has already carried out such “aggressive” flights over Western warships in the past.
In April 2016 two Russian warplanes flew simulated attack passes near a U.S. guided missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea, so low they created wake in the water.
Phone calls to the Russian defence ministry in Moscow were not answered after business hours on Tuesday.
US Planning a Terrorist False Flag Chemical Attack to Justify Bombing Syria: Russia Says It Will Respond
Events in Syria increasingly resemble a direct confrontation between major powers rather than a proxy war. Lavrov’s words, delivered a few days ago, reveal the critical phase of international relations the world is going through, with a potentially devastating conflict ready to ignite in the Middle East region.
An alarming warning by Sergei Lavrov and Chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, was announced via the RT broadcaster and several Russian media. The content is explosive and deserving of the widest possible dissemination. Gerasimov claimed that Moscow had “reliable information that fighters are preparing to stage the use by government troops of chemical weapons against the civilian population.” He alleged that the US intends to accuse Assad’s troops of using chemical weapons against civilians, and then “carry out a bombing attack” on Damascus. Gerasimov warned that Russia would “take retaliatory measures” if the US targeted areas where its military are located in the Syrian capital. “Russian military advisers, representatives of the Center for Reconciliation and members of military police” are currently in the Syrian capital, Gerasimov said, adding that in the event that the lives of Russian military personnel are placed in danger, the Russian Armed Forces will respond with certain measure to both “missiles” and their “launchers”. A few hours earlier, Lavrov responded, “criticizing the remarks by the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, about Washington’s readiness to “bomb Damascus and even the presidential palace of Bashar Assad, regardless [of the] presence of the Russian representatives there.” “It is an absolutely irresponsible statement,” the Russian top diplomat added.
The words of Gerasimov are even more dire, since he explains how the United States and its allies are preparing the ground to justify an attack on Syria. According to reports, terrorists stationed in Al-Tanf (an illegal US military base in Syria) received 20 tons of chlorine gas and detonators, disguised as cigarette packs, in order to attack in an area under the control of the terrorists that is densely inhabited by civilians. What would then happen is already obvious, with the White Helmets (AKA Al-Qaeda) and mainstream media ready to broadcast the images of the victims of the attack, tugging at the heartstrings of Western viewers otherwise unaware of the conspiracy being played out. Efforts to frame Russia have already reached the highest alert levels, with the false-flag poisoning of the Russian spy in the United Kingdom. It seems that there is a significant effort by the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany to provoke a military confrontation with Moscow. How else are we able to interpret threats from Macron to strike Damascus, together with his ominous advice to foreign journalists not to go to Damascus in the coming days and, for those already there, to leave the capital immediately? There has even been chatter within diplomatic circles that suggest that UN personnel are leaving Damascus. This could be psychological warfare, or it could be a prelude to war. With the stakes so high, we cannot afford to ignore any detail, even if it may be disinformation. The American attack seems imminent, with mounting signs of movements of American and Russian warships in the Mediterranean in attack formation.
Russian military representatives have reiterated that in the event of an attack, they will respond by hitting both the missiles launched as well as the ships from which the missiles were launched. Things are getting pretty dicey, and the risk of a direct confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation are rising with every passing hour. The transfer of numerous US aircraft from Incirlik, Turkey, to Al-Azrak, Jordan, is another indication of preparations for an attack, since the forces moved to Jordan are close to the Al-Tanf base. The proposed strategy could involve an assault on the city of Daraa, for the purposes of securing the borders between Syria and Jordan and Syria and Israel.
The warnings raised by Lavrov and Gerasimov appear unprecedented, given that they detail a plan already set in course, evidently approved at the highest levels and aimed at provoking and justifying an attack on Syria; and attack that would encompass the Russian forces in Syria. Tensions continue to grow, following Russia’s shooting down of a drone by two surface-to-air missiles launched from its Hmeimim Air Base. Moscow has even deployed to the Mediterranean the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate Admiral Essen and the Krivak II-class anti-submarine frigate Pytivyy. Both are prepared for anti-ship and anti-submarine operations. Sources claim that this deployment was planned some time ago and is part of a routine deployment of the Russian navy. But during such a delicate moment, it pays to focus on every detail. Without resorting to excessive alarmism, if Lavrov said that “the movements of the warships of the United States and its allies in the Mediterranean seem compatible with the strategy of using this chemical attack to justify an attack on the Syrian Arab army and government installations”, then it is reasonable to speculate on whether the Russian ships are moving in to the area to counter any provocations.
There are two fundamental flaws in the reasoning of US policy-makers and the US military establishment. They are convinced that an American demonstration of strength (involving a large number of cruise missile launched against Syria through a significant involvement of aircraft carriers as well as bombers) would stun Russia into passivity. Furthermore, US military generals are convinced that Syria and Russia do not have the ability to defend themselves for an extended period of time. They seem to be fooling themselves with their own propaganda. As their Israeli colleagues have already learned, such an assumption is mistaken. While the idea that a high level of firepower would meet with some kind of success, the possibility of a response from Syrian and Russian forces remains. And this possibility seems not to have been given sufficient weight by the US and her allies.
How would the American military and the Trump presidency react to a US warship being sunk by anti-ship missiles? It would only serve to demonstrate how vulnerable American naval forces are when confronted with such advanced weapons. It would represent a tremendous shock for the US military, possibly the biggest shock since the end of WWII. What would Trump and the generals in charge do? They would respond with further bombardment of Russian forces, leaving themselves open to a devastating Russian response. The conflict could escalate within the space of a few minutes, leading to a situation where there could be no possible winners.
The normal reasoning I employ when considering total annihilation is placed to one side when US special forces deliver 20 tons of chlorine gas to Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria order to execute a false flag for the purposes of blaming Damascus and Moscow. If we connect this event to what is currently happening in the United Kingdom, and the hysteria in the United States surrounding alleged Russian hacking during the American elections, we can understand just how much international relations have deteriorated. This situation is reminiscent of Ukraine in 2015. Ukrainian forces suffered repeated defeats at the hands of the Donbass resistance, being contained in the thousands in different “cauldrons. Within NATO headquarters in Brussels during that time, there were open discussion over sending a contingent to support Ukrainian troops. The plan, however, was never realized, given the possibility of direct confrontation in Ukraine between the Russian Federation and NATO.
In recent months, the possibility of a war on the Korean Peninsula has also been evoked and perhaps simultaneously averted by the unpredictable consequences for both Seoul and the American forces in the region.
In Syria, the approach of Washington and its diplomatic and military emissaries seems more reckless and less tied to a chain of command where the buck stops at the American president. It seems that the US deep state in Syria has a greater and more hidden control over American forces, sabotaging every agreement made between Moscow and Washington. We saw this during the Obama presidency, where the US Air Force bombed government troops in Deir ez-Zor only a few hours after a ceasefire had been reached between Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry.
The grave circumstance about which we write seem to be without precedent, seeming as they do to lead towards a direct confrontation between nuclear-armed powers. Alas, in such circumstances, we can only hope for the best but prepare for the worst; we can only wait to read on the mainstream media notifications of the latest chemical attack in Syria. We can only hope that there is someone in Washington retaining enough sense to factor in the devastating consequences of an attack on Damascus and the Russian forces in the region.
Never before has the region been on the verge of such an explosion as in the next few hours — as a result of the typically reckless actions of the United States.
WASHINGTON- U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned Russia of a forthcoming response to suspected chemical attack in Syria, declaring that missiles “will be coming” and blasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
The events in Syria are likely to escalate into a regional conflict. USS Donald Cook already deployed in the Mediterranean can deliver a limited missile attack against Syria but a large-scale operation is unlikely to be launched until USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group (CSG) arrives in roughly 10-14 days. The CSG left the home base in Norfolk on April 11. The land strike-capable USS Portercan reach the Syria’s shore pretty soon. USS Laboon and USS Carney, two more Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, as well as USS Georgia and USS John Warner submarines, are in close proximity to add more punch if an order to strike is given.
The composition of the carrier group includes at least five warships (one cruiser and 4 destroyers) capable of cruise missile attacks against land targets. Each US destroyer or cruiser can carry over 50 land attack missiles. It could be more, depending on the mission. USS Georgia is an Ohio class submarine (SSGN) to carry 154 land attack missiles. USS John Warner is a Virginia-class submarine to carry 12 Tomahawks. The USS Iwo Jima amphibious strike group can deploy to Syria in a few days from the Arabian Sea.
The UK, France, perhaps some other NATO and Middle East allies, including Israel, will join a US-led operation in Syria. The British Air Force can operate from Cyprus. A RAF KC2 air tanker is already there. The talks between the US, the UK and France are underway. Syrian armed forces are taking precautionary measures expecting strikes any time now.
US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hailey, sounds like if a sustained operation, not a one-off strike, is a done deal. The envoy says America will strike with or without a UN resolution. The voices are heard calling for striking Syrian command and control sites as well as “regime’s political centers”, despite the fact that where Russian advisers could be there. That’s something the US military has not done before.
A proposal to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty to contain Moscow without military actions has been floated. No actual war, but Russia will be considered an enemy. John Bolton’s warnings that an Islamic State ouster would allow Syrian President Assad to remain in power, with Iranian influence intact in Iraq are remembered to bolster the calls for action. In 2015, the newly appointed national security adviser called for carving out an independent Sunni Muslim state in northeastern Syria and western Iraq. He has his chance now.
A US-led multinational operation in Syria has become a predominant idea in Washington. On April 10, President Trump postponed his visit to Latin America because of the events in Syria. One can assume that the provocation in Douma was staged to make President Trump reconsider the decision to pull forces out in favor of confronting Russia, Syria and Iran. Those who did it hoped the US president would bite it. And bite he did.
There is no way to get rid of Assad but launch an international invasion. Washington’s global standing has received a strong blow after the unimpressive operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A US-led intervention could boost it if it were a success. America would present itself as a defender of Syrians suffering from the “atrocities of Assad’s dictatorship”. Heading an international coalition would help restore America’s image as the world leader. This is the way to make Washington a friend of Sunni Muslims who allegedly need protection from Tehran.
Invading Syria is the way to weaken Iran’s influence in Iraq. Such an operation would meet the goals of the Russia containment policy. An intervention could bring the US-led force and Turkey together in their desire to oust Assad. That would distance Ankara from Moscow, which will not leave its Syrian ally in lurch. From Washington’s view, these are the pros to bolster the plan to invade.
And now about the cons. After the failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, you name it, the US would once again get tied up in the messy situation in the region. It may need to go beyond the Syria’s borders. For instance, the US-led coalition would have to strike Hezbollah in Lebanon. There is a big chance the US and its allies would get involved in another protracted bloody war with no final victory in sight.
Suppose, the intervention ends up as a quick, victorious operation in purely military terms, what about the prospects of winning war to lose peace, like in Iraq? Washington will be responsible for the outcome of nation building in a country divided along religious and ethnical lines. The US will be rebuked for failure and accused of depriving Syria of the chance provided by the Astana peace process. Invading Syria means fighting Iranians. The Washington’s goal is to incite them to rebellion. An invasion of Syria could backlash to make all Iranian people united behind the ayatollahs’ regime.
Finally, invading Syria is a great risk as Russia would not stand idly if the lives of its servicemen were threatened there. The possibility of clash will grow immensely. But if the US-coalition applies de-confliction efforts, there will be no containment. To the contrary, the world will see that Moscow cannot be ignored. It isn’t now. Despite all the tensions souring, Russia’s Chief of General Staff will meet the NATO Supreme Commander in a few days. No doubt, they will discuss Syria.
If Iran gets united and stronger, Russia remains to be an actor to reckon with, nation building fails and Assad keeps on fighting back to make the coalition suffer casualties, then there will be only cons with no pros. And that will take place against the background of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Risks are too great to ask the question – why should the US get involved in the faraway Syria’s conflict at all? By no stretch of imagination could such an operation be considered a move to enhance US and West’s security and meet the goals of “America First” policy.
Airmen aboard the USS Harry S. Truman, which has been dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean. / Reuters
Eurocontrol, an EU body responsible for handling air traffic over the continent, has issued a Rapid Alert Notification to flight operators in the eastern Mediterranean, warning them to be ready for NATO rocket launches into Syria.
“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and / or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean / Nicosia FIR area,” the alert said.
The alert warns pilots to be ready for specific NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen), concerning flight risks and obstacles that may arise.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump said that he was “very strongly, very seriously” considering military action against the government of Bashar Assad over the alleged chemical attack in Douma in Syria on April 7. Trump said that a “major decision” would be taken within the following 24-48 hours.
An air strike was already carried out against a Syrian air base on Monday, although no state has claimed responsibility. Damascus, Moscow and Tehran say that the attack was carried out by Israel from Lebanese airspace.
Russia has reportedly deployed electronic warfare equipment that is successfully jamming small US military surveillance drones.
Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes.
One official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria.
Russian electronic warfare tactics have been observed in past war zones like Ukraine and have recently shown signs of getting more advanced.
The Russian military has deployed jamming tactics against US drones that have affected the US military’s ability to operate in the region, NBC News reports.
US officials told NBC News that the Russian military has been jamming smaller US drones. The jamming is focused on the GPS systems of drones, which can result in things like the operators not knowing where the drone currently is, to more extreme results like crashes.
Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes as a result of the jamming, but one official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria.
The drones that have been targeted are smaller surveillance drones, and not the larger ones with strike capability like the MQ-1 Predator or the MQ-9 Reaper, according to NBC News. US military drones are encrypted and are supposed to have defenses against electronic counter measures, suggesting that Russian capabilities are more advanced than previously thought.Russia’s ally in Syria, Iran, also reportedly has hacking capabilities. In 2011 it claimed that it hacked into a US RQ-170 Sentinel and forced it to land after it gained access to its GPS.
Al-Jaafari : Some UNSC permanent members try to lie to create pretext for aggression against Syria
New York, SANA- Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, said that the Israeli aggression against Syria would not succeed in protecting Israel’s agents from terrorist organizations, pointing out that some of the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members are trying to lie to defame Syria and create pretexts for attacking it.
Al-Jaafari, during the UN Security Council session on the situation in Syria on Monday evening, condemned in the strongest terms the Israeli aggression on T-4 Airport in Homs province as a flagrant violation of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 350 of 1974 and relevant UN Security Council resolutions on combating terrorism.
He confirmed that the Israeli aggression represents an indirect response to the success of the Syrian Arab Army in expelling the terrorist groups from the suburbs of Damascus City and its countryside and other Syrian areas.” The repeated Israeli aggressions will not dissuade the Syrian Arab Army from continuing the decisive military achievements in combating terrorism,”
Al-Jaafari stressed that it has been proven that the campaigns launched by some states including member states at the Security Council on the deterioration of the humanitarian conditions in the Eastern Ghouta have been just lies.
The Permanent Representative said that the governments of some states are accustomed to lying, yet they fortunately lack the preciseness in making their lies, adding that the effects of lying policy adopted by some of the Security Council’s member states have become like mass destruction weapons.
He clarified that the evidence on their lies and allegations is that the locals of Douma exited safely and the terrorists chose to reach an agreement with the Syrian state.
The Representative wondered whether the goal behind the call by France, Britain, and the US for holding a session of the Security Council is to legitimize the Israeli aggression on Syria which took place on Monday morning or to stop the implementation of the agreement which its tools wanted.
“ Before the Sarin gas attack launched by the terrorist groups on Khan al-Asal in Aleppo in on March 19th 2013, Syria informed the Security Council on December 10th 2012 that the US, England and France have launched a campaign of allegations on the possibility of launching such an attack by the Syrian Government, and we warned that these allegations pave the way for providing chemical weapons to the armed terrorist groups by the governments which sponsor them,” al-Jaafari said.
He reiterated that Syria has warned many times of the fact that the terrorist groups are preparing for using chemical weapons against the innocent Syrians and that they work through their media tools to fabricate evidence on such attacks.
“We note in every chapter of the scenario of the alleged use of chemical materials that these materials do not target militants at all but only target children and women,” al-Jaafari said.
He confirmed that Syria is ready to facilitate the entry of a fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to Douma as soon as possible to verify the allegations of the attack as it supports the Russian demand on holding a session for listening to a briefing on the visit by assessment mission to Raqqa.
“Today we directly accuse Washington, Paris, London, Riyadh, Doha and Ankara on supplying Daesh (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman and scores of other terrorist groups affiliated to them with poisonous chemical substances to use them against the Syrian civilians, al-Jaafari said.”
He stressed that the threat of the United States Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley to Syria at the Security Council means that she pays no heed neither to the Council nor to the international law or the UN Charter.
Responding to her speech that Russia is spending resources to support what she called the regime in Syria, al-Jaafari asked her whether the United States is spending on sending milk and medicine to Syrian children or on sending weapons and ammunition to its terrorist gangs which practiced the worst crimes against the Syrian people or on the aircraft of its alliance which destroyed many places in Syria, especially Raqqa city.
Moscow, SANA – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow will propose a draft resolution for the UN Security Council on sending experts to Douma to investigate allegations of using chemicals.
In a press conference following a meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Ri Yong-ho in Moscow on Tuesday, Lavrov said “we have heard statements from the Hague that they have launched an investigation into the Douma incident.
“However, the use of chemical weapons has not been confirmed yet. Members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and Russian representatives to the relevant agencies visited the site of the alleged attack in Douma but did not find any traces of chemical weapons.
“We cannot take the results of remote investigations for granted anymore. This is what happened in Khan Shaikhoun, when a remote investigation resulted in a flimsy report containing expressions such as ‘highly possible’ and ‘highly likely.’ We know the true price of such expressions and will never again take them for granted.”
Lavrov pointed out that according to the charter of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), it should conduct an investigation at the same place and take samples for laboratory study in a transparent manner, adding that the Russian draft resolution will require precisely this sort of inquiry.
The top diplomat added that the Syrian government has agreed to send experts to investigate the alleged incident in the city of Douma, which was freed from terrorists, noting that the Western states are not interested in establishing the truth either in this case, or in Khan Shaikhoun, or in the Skripal affair.
BEIRUT — Missiles struck an air base in central Syria early Monday, its state-run news agency reported. Both Russia and Syria said Israel was responsible for the attack.
The agency previously said said it was likely ‘‘an American aggression,’’ Pentagon officials said the US had not launched airstrikes on Syria.
The missile attack followed a suspected poison gas attack Saturday on the last remaining foothold for the Syrian opposition in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. At least 40 people were killed, including families found in their homes and shelters, opposition activists and local rescuers said.
SANA reported that the missile attack on the T4 military air base in Homs province resulted in a number of casualties.
Russia’s Defense Ministry says two Israeli fighter jets launched the attack from Lebanon’s air space in the early hours on Monday.
The ministry says Syria shot down five out of the eight missiles that targeted the base. It says the other three landed in the western part of the T4 base.
Syrian state TV meanwhile quoted the unnamed military official as saying Israeli F-15 warplanes had fired several missiles while flying over neighboring Lebanon. It gave no further details.
On Sunday, President Trump had promised a ‘‘big price to pay’’ for the suspected chemical attack. After the airstrikes were reported, however, Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood said in a statement, ‘‘At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria.’’
The US launched several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base last year after a chemical attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people. Israel has also struck inside Syria in recent years.
The suspected poison gas attack Saturday on the besieged town of Douma came almost exactly a year after the US missile attack prompted by the Khan Sheikhoun deaths.
In response to the reports from Douma, Trump on Sunday blamed Syrian government forces for what he called a ‘‘mindless CHEMICAL attack.’’ In a series of tweets, Trump held Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief sponsors, responsible.
The Syrian government denied the allegations, calling them fabrications.
Once again, in accordance with their devout beliefs, the rulers of the Bani Saud regime took their heads out of the hole to rescue their mercenaries, who spread them in the corners of the earth to corrupt them and spread terrorism among their people to serve their dirty interests.
The groups of terrorist mercenaries invented by the dark minds of the sons of Saud reached a dead end in Syria and were pushed by the Syrian Arab Army to the edge of the abyss. This necessitated an intervention by the Saudi regime to adopt the representation of its mercenaries in the city of Duma. Media and politically in a new desperate attempt to distort the image of the Syrian Arab army in its fierce war on terrorism.
An informed source told SANA that “the Bani Saud regime must stop supporting terrorists in Syria and other parts of the world where we know the world well and knows the role of this system in the formation, funding and sponsorship of terrorist Takfiri ideology from Afghanistan to Syria and Iraq.”
The source added that “all calamities suffered by the peoples of the region and the region is the result of the policies of Bani Saud and its ideology, which is compatible with the ideologies of terrorist organizations in various names.”
“The bin Said al-Wahhabi regime, which created al Qaeda, is trying to preserve the life of its terrorist organization, Army of Islam, by trying to re-promote the chemical fabrications and shed crocodile tears on the eastern Ghouta,” the source concluded.
An official source confirmed yesterday that “the media arms of the organization / Army of Islam / terrorist regain reinvigorated the use of chemical weapons to accuse the Syrian Arab Army in an open and failed attempt to obstruct the advance of the army.” He pointed out that “the army that progress quickly and with determination and determination does not need to use any kind of chemicals As some of the terrorist stations are called. “
The source said that “the plays of the chemist did not benefit in Aleppo or in the eastern towns of Ghouta and the terrorists and their sponsors will not benefit today. The Syrian state is determined to end terrorism in every inch of its territory.”
Some of the media known to support the terrorists claimed that the army used chemical weapons in the city of Douma during its operations in response to the attacks carried out by the terrorist organization on the various neighborhoods of Damascus and its surroundings.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian state TV said on Monday the United States was suspected of striking an air base hours after U.S. President Donald Trump warned of a “big price to pay” as aid groups said dozens of people were killed by poison gas in a rebel-held town.
The United States denied attacking the Syrian base.
“At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable.”
When asked about the explosions, an Israeli spokeswoman declined to comment. Israel has struck Syrian army locations many times in the course of the conflict, hitting convoys and bases of Iranian-backed militias that fight alongside Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s forces.
Syrian state TV said there were casualties in what it said was a suspected U.S. missile attack on the T-4 airfield near Homs, which is close to the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria.
“An aggression was perpetrated on T-4 air base in several strikes that is most likely to be an American attack,” state television said in a news flash.
A Syrian military source was quoted as saying air defenses shot down eight missiles fired at the base.
Defense analysts say there are large deployments of Russian forces at the base, and jets fly regular sorties from there to strike rebel-held areas.
The Syrian state broadcaster said there were several dead and wounded in the strike.
The Syrian opposition blamed the suspected chemical attack on Saturday in the town of Douma on government forces.
As international officials worked to try to confirm the chemical attack, Trump took the rare step of directly criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with the incident.
Trump said on Sunday there would be a “big price to pay” after medical aid groups reported dozens of civilians, including many children and women, were killed by poison gas in the besieged rebel-held town of Douma.
“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The Syrian government denied its forces had launched any chemical assault. Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, called the reports fake.
The Russian Foreign Ministry warned against military action on the basis of “invented and fabricated excuses”.
The Syrian government launched a fierce air and ground assault on Douma, the last rebel-held town in the eastern Ghouta district, last Friday.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Trump by telephone and the two agreed that they would work together to establish clear responsibility for what Macron’s office said they had agreed was a confirmed chemical attack.
Macron said in February “France will strike” in the event of lethal chemical weapon attack on civilians by government forces in Syria.
The medical relief organization Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the civil defense service, which operates in rebel-held areas, said in a joint statement 49 people had been killed in the suspected gas attack.
One video shared by activists showed bodies of about a dozen children, women and men, some with foam at the mouth. “Douma city, April 7 … there is a strong smell here,” a voice can be heard saying.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
The United States launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base a year ago in response to the killing of dozens of civilians in a sarin gas attack in an opposition-held town in northwest Syria. The gas attack was blamed on Assad.
U.S. government sources said Washington’s assessment of the Saturday attack was that chemical weapons were used.
The European Union also said evidence pointed to the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces.
A man is washed following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters TV via REUTERS
A European diplomat said Western allies would work on building a dossier based on photos, videos, witness testimony and satellite images of Syrian flights and helicopters. However gaining access to samples on the ground would be difficult.
The U.N. Security Council will meet twice on Monday following rival requests by Russia and the United States.
U.N. war crimes investigators had previously documented 33 chemical attacks in Syria, attributing 27 to the Assad government, which has repeatedly denied using the weapons.
Reporting by Nayera Abdallah and Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Additional reportin by Matt Spetalnick in WASHINGTON; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Martin Howell
Earlier, the US State Department had expressed concern about the reports of chemical weapons use in Douma that allegedly led to deaths of 40 people, claiming that Russia was accountable for targeting Syrians; the Russian military has refuted the allegations, saying they were aimed at disrupting of Jaysh al-Islam militants’ evacuation from E Ghouta.
“Hoaxes of attacks using chlorine or other poisonous substances by Syrian government forces are continuing to emerge. Another such hoax that has supposedly taken place is the alleged chemical attack in Douma yesterday. At the same time, references have been made to the notorious NGO “White Helmets,” which has been repeatedly caught acting with terrorists, as well as other so-called humanitarian organizations based in the United Kingdom and the United States,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry went on to say that it had repeatedly warned about possible provocations involving the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Their major aim is to accuse Syrian government forces of chemical weapons use and justify possible military intervention in Syria from abroad, according to the ministry’s statement.
“It is necessary to warn once again that military intervention under far-fetched and fabricated pretexts in Syria, where the Russian servicemen are deployed at the request of the legitimate government, is absolutely unacceptable and might lead to very severe consequences,” the statement said.
This comes as several media outlets, citing Syrian militants, have accused Damascus of using chemical weapons in Douma. Jaysh al-Islam also claimed that government forces had dropped a chemical bomb on the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta. The US State Department has expressed its concern with the news, rushing to blame Russia “for the brutal targeting of countless Syrians.”
Syrian authorities and the Russian military have denied the reports. The Russian defense ministry said that Western countries and NGOs like the “White Helmets” are trying to undermine the evacuation of Jaysh al-Islam militants by resorting to allegations of chemical weapons use. Damascus has said it doesn’t need chemical weapons to stop terrorists in Eastern Ghouta.The media has also reported Syrian army had discovered earlier a clandestine plant in Eastern Ghouta that was used by the terrorists to produce military-grade agents. Prior to the discovery, Syrian authorities had sent more than 100 letters to the UN Security Council confirming that terrorist groups own chemical substances that they use against civilians.
Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…
Following a peace truce that only lasted for a couple of days, the city of Douma was again under heavy shelling that resulted in tens of casualties and hundreds of injuries. The attacks included the systematic targeting of medical centers and civil defense teams, heavily paralyzing the medical capacity of the city due to the destruction of the majority of the civil defense centers and a large number of ambulances and rescue vehicles, leaving them completely out of service.
On Saturday, 07/04/2018 At 7:45 PM and with the continuous bombardment of residential neighborhoods in the city of Douma, more than 500 cases -the majority of whom are women and children- have reached the medical centers with symptoms of exposure to chemicals. Cases have shown signs of respiratory distress, central cyanosis, excessive oral foaming, corneal burns, and the emission of chlorine-like odor.
On clinical examination, bradycardia, wheezing and coarse bronchial rales were observed. One of the injured was dead on arrival. Other patients were treated with humidified free oxygen and bronchodilators after which most have improved. In several cases, where the exposure to chemicals was on a larger scale, patients, including 4 children were put on ventilators. Six casualties were reported, one of which is a woman with symptoms of convulsions and pinpoint pupils.
Civil defense volunteers have reported more than 42 casualties with similar clinical symptoms of cyanosis, excessive oral foaming and corneal burns that were found dead in their homes/shelters. Civil defense teams were unable to evacuate the bodies due to the intensity of the odor and the lack of PPE. The given symptoms indicate that the victims suffocated from the exposure to toxic chemicals; most likely an organophosphate element.
Following the chemical attack, the target site and the surrounding area of the hospital receiving the injured were attacked with barrel bombs, which hindered the ability of ambulances to reach the victims.
The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) have documented more than 200 uses of chemical weapons in Syria since 2012. Previous Security Council Resolutions on this matter have failed in stopping the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The Syrian Civil Defense Organization and the Syrian American Medical Society demand an immediate cease-fire in the city of Douma and the entry of international investigation teams from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate the facts of the crime. The organizations also call for the immediate intervention of the International Community to prohibit the use of chemical weapons in Syria and stop the tragedy of Ghouta and the city of Douma, so as to ensure the protection of personnel and humanitarian facilities to enable them to continue their life-saving work.