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American Resistance To Empire

Israel Apparently Source of Rumor About Iranian Pullout From Syrian Border

Israel aims to get Russia to agree to clearing Syrian border of Iranians

Russian President Putin (L) and PM Netanyahu
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Defense Minister Lieberman’s trip to Russia intended to reach security understandings to return control of border area to Syrian army, without the presence of Iran, Hezbollah forces; while Russia iterated support for notion, PMO stresses Iran should pull out all of Syrian territory.

Despite the security escalation on the Gaza border, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman embarked for Russia Wednesday, heading a defense establishment delegation in an attempt to reach an agreement to return control of southern Syria, and particularly the border with Israel, to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. 

Defense Minister Lieberman will be accompanied by the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Tamir Hayman, among others.

 

Russia was said to have accepted Israel’s fundamental demand for Assad’s army to resume control of the border region without the presence of any pro-Shiite militias.

 

PM Netanyahu (L) and Russian President Putin. Israel was pushing for an agreement with Russia to deploy only Syrian army soldiers near the border (Photo: AP)

PM Netanyahu (L) and Russian President Putin. Israel was pushing for an agreement with Russia to deploy only Syrian army soldiers near the border (Photo: AP)

 

Lieberman will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu Thursday, and his trip is considered an important attempt to reach understandings with the superpower on the matter, an issue that may have ramifications on ameliorating tensions along the northern front. 

The need to engender such understandings in the first place was born of preparations by Assad’s army to return to southern Syria and take position along the border with Israel. 

While Jerusalem consented to the army’s returned, they conditioned it on Iranian and Hezbollah forces not accompanying it. 

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov stated no foreign troops will be stationed along the Israeli border (Photo: EPA)

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov stated no foreign troops will be stationed along the Israeli border (Photo: EPA)

 

Confirmation for the nascent understandings came Monday in Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statements, who explicitly stated that no foreign troops will be stationed along the Israeli border except for Syrian army soldiers. 

The encouraging Russian statements notwithstanding, the Prime Minister’s Office was quick to clarify that Israel never consented to Iranian forces remaining elsewhere in Syria, and reiterated Israel’s demand for a full withdrawal of all Iranian and Hezbollah forces from the country. 

“Israel is uninterested in partial agreements, rather in an exit of all Iranian forces from Syria,” a source at the Prime Minister’s Office said. 

Russia Claims To Be Engineering Cruise Missile Counter-Measures From Captured Missiles From Syria

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – New Russian electronic warfare systems will be developed in three years on the basis of data obtained during the study of US Tomahawk cruise missiles that had been brought to Russia from Syria, Vladimir Mikheev, an adviser to the first deputy general director of Russia’s KRET, said in an interview with Sputnik.

The Syrian military found two unexploded Tomahawk missiles after a massive missile attack on Syria by the United States, Great Britain and France on April 14 and handed them over to Russia.

“On the basis of this experience [the missile strike by the Western coalition in Syria], technical tasks for new work are being prepared now. They will take into consideration all the information obtained to help us build prototypes of new electronic warfare systems,” Mikheev said.

“Having this missile in hand, we can clearly understand what channels of communication, information and control, navigation and range finding it has… And knowing all these parameters, we will be able to more effectively counter these cruise missiles at all stages of their combat deployment,” he stressed.Speaking about the timeframe for the development of new systems, Mikheev noted that according to the requirements of the state as customer, a full development cycle on electronic warfare systems takes about 2-3 years and these prototypes will not be an exception.

KRET (Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies) is a holding company within the Russian state-owned Rostec group that develops and manufactures military spec radio-electronic, state identification, aviation and radio-electronic equipment, as well as a variety of civil products.

Ex-ISI chief Asad Durrani Held By Govt. Travel Ban, For Co-Writing Tell-All Book w/Ex Indian Intel Chief

The name of a former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani — who recently co-authored a book with former Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Amarjit Singh Dulat — will be placed on the no-fly list, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced on Monday.

The statement followed Durrani’s summoning to General Headquarters (GHQ) on Monday to “explain his position on views attributed to him” in the book, titled The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace.

source

the spy chronicles Pdf download

The release of the book has sparked accusations of treachery against the former spy chief after his candid views on various matters of regional and global concern came under intense public scrutiny.

“The competent authority [has been] approached to place his [Durrani] name on the Exit Control List,” army spokesperson Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor announced on Monday via Twitter.

He added that “a formal Court of Inquiry headed by a serving Lt Gen has been ordered to probe the matter in detail”.

So far, no details have been shared about which statements attributed to Durrani in the book are considered a violation of the code of conduct.

Take a look: Spy book release spurs criticism of repression in held Kashmir

The book is mainly a series of discussions conducted between the two former adversaries on a range of topics, moderated by journalist Aditya Sinha.

The paperback has served as an ice-breaker of sorts between the two warring neighbours while also spurring criticism of Indian state repression in held Kashmir.

The two former spies have in the book touched upon some thorny issues which have kept Pakistan-India ties strained for decades and at times pushing them to the brink of war. The issues include terrorism — particularly the Mumbai attack — Kashmir and the influence of intelligence agencies.

Earlier, Durrani had said that the book was Dulat’s idea but at no time was it considered as an occasion to spill any secrets.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time instance of Durrani co-authoring something with Dulat.

In 2013, the two published a joint paper on Pakistan-India relations in the context of Kashmir titled Kashmir: Confrontation to Cooperation.

Durrani notes in The Spy Chronicles that the paper had not received any adverse reaction from the military establishment, even though it also dealt with some contentious themes.

Under fire for divulging ‘serious information’

However, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had drawn a parallel between his own recent statement on the Mumbai attack case and the contents of the said book. He had also called for the National Security Council (NSC) to re-convene on the matter as it had in his [Sharif’s] case.

Nawaz believes that the former DG ISI, through this book, has made public some “serious information” and that it was necessary to call an emergency NSC meeting to discuss the matter.

In a similar vein, Senator Raza Rabbani, while addressing the upper house last week, had remarked that if a politician had teamed up with an Indian counterpart to write a book like this, they would have been branded a traitor.

“It is shocking that on one hand Pakistan and India relations are at an all-time low and on the other hand, former spy chiefs of both the countries are teaming up to write a book,” the former Senate chairman was quoted as saying.

Who Controls the Media?–THE DIAGRAM

[CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN FULL SIZE]

Was he talking about Jews, or wasn’t he?

The media is the tribe.
And the opposition to humanity.
Their allegiance is with the egregore.

Who Controls Big Media?
Summary: Of the twelve (12) senior executives of the “Big Six” media corporations, nine (9) are Jews or have Jewish spouses. This is a numerical representation of 75%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews and spouses of Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the “Big Six” media corporations by a factor of 37.5 times (3,750 percent).

Who Controls Hollywood?
Summary: Of the sixty (60) senior executives of the major Hollywood studios, trade unions, and talent agencies, fifty (50) are Jews or have Jewish spouses. This is a numerical representation of 83%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews and spouses of Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the major Hollywood studios, trade unions, and talent agencies by a factor of 41.5 times (4,150 percent).

Who Controls Television?
Summary: Of the sixty-four (64) senior executives of the major television broadcast networks, cable networks, and production companies, fifty-seven (57) are Jews or have Jewish spouses. This is a numerical representation of 89%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews and spouses of Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the major television broadcast networks, cable networks, and production companies by a factor of 44.5 times (4,450 percent).

Who Controls Music?
Summary: Of the fifty (50) senior executives of the major music labels and trade organizations, thirty-nine (39) are Jews. This is a numerical representation of 78%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the major music labels and trade organizations by a factor of 39 times (3,900 percent).

Who Controls Radio?
Summary: Of the forty-six (46) senior executives of the major radio broadcast networks and station owners, twenty-eight (28) are Jews. This is a numerical representation of 61%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the major radio broadcast networks and station owners by a factor of 30.5 times (3,050 percent).

Who Controls Advertising?
Summary: Of the forty-six (46) senior executives of the major advertising corporations and trade associations, thirty-one (31) are Jews. This is a numerical representation of 67%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the major advertising corporations and trade associations by a factor of 33.5 times (3,350 percent).

Who Controls the News? (Part 1)
Summary: Of the sixty-seven (67) senior executives of the major television and radio news networks, forty-seven (47) are Jews or have Jewish spouses. This is a numerical representation of 70%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews and spouses of Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the major television and radio news networks by a factor of 35 times (3,500 percent).

Who Controls the News? (Part 2)
Summary: Of the sixty-five (65) senior executives of the major newspapers and news magazines, forty-two (42) are Jews or have Jewish spouses. This is a numerical representation of 65%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews and spouses of Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the major newspapers and news magazines by a factor of 32.5 times (3,250 percent).

Who Controls Social Media?
Summary: Of the twenty four (24) senior executives of the “Big Players” in social media corporations, eighteen (18) are Jews or have Jewish spouses. This is a numerical representation of 75%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews and spouses of Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the “Big Players” in social media corporations by a factor of 37.5 times (3,750 percent).

By declaring war on the media, Trump has in fact declared war on Jews. Of the four hundred & thirty four (434) senior executives of the “Big Six” media corporations along with Hollywood, Music, Radio, Television, Newspapers, News Magazines & Social Media Three hundred & twenty six (326) are Jews or or have Jewish spouses. The over representation by Jews as the CEO’s & senior executives in all these associations averages 3700% including the trade unions, talent agencies, production companies, broadcast networks, station owners, advertising corporations and trade associations. This is a numerical representation of 75%. Jews are approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Therefore Jews and spouses of Jews are over-represented among the senior executives of the aforementioned media corporations by a factor of 37 times (3,700 percent).

Good luck claiming otherwise.

Russian/Saudi Press Claims US Ready To Leave Al-Tanf Base, If Iranian Forces Leave Southern Border

Control over the southern borders of Syria, including the al-Tanf area, will be handed over to the government forces of Syria after the Paris talks, a source familiar with the situation told Sputnik.

“All areas on the (southern) border will be transferred to the government of Syria, an agreement on the UN Zone for Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) will be resumed on the Golas Heights, the presence of Iranian forces in the border areas is not stipulated,” the source told Sputnik.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to insist that Iran should leave the entire territory of Syria.

“We are working against the Iranian military presence in Syria and we will not be satisfied if it leaves only the southern part of Syria,” the prime minister said. “The long-range missiles that Iran is trying to deploy there threaten Israel from an even greater distance, and therefore Iran must leave the entire territory of Syria.”

Israel, Russia Agree on Syrian Forces Deployment

Earlier in the day, Israel and Russia have agreed to deploy the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad near the Israeli northern borders, the Channel 2 broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

In exchange for the Israeli concession, Russia promised to ensure that the Syrian pro-government troops deployed near the Israeli-Syrian border would not include Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, the Channel 2 broadcaster reported, citing a high-ranking political source.

The media report, however, has yet to be commented on by Syrian authorities.

However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov stated that Moscow had no information about the reported deal between the countries.

The report comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the Jewish state would never accept any Iranian military presence “anywhere” in Syria, thus, repeating his earlier statements warning Tehran against gaining a foothold in the Arab Republic.

READ MORE: Hypothetical War Scenario: Who Would Prevail, Iran or Israel?

The decades-long tensions between the countries have further escalated after the Israeli Air Force’s attack on dozens of what it called “Iranian targets” in Syria earlier in May. Its turn, Iran, has yet again reiterated that it has no bases in the Arab Republic, while exclusively its military advisors are present in the country in order to help the Syrian government fight terrorism.Commenting on the attack, Damascus stated that Syria would counter all the attacks by the Israeli forces on its sovereign territory and will not hesitate to strike Israeli military targets as it has a right for self-defense.

READ MORE: Netanyahu: Iran Should Be Denied Any Military Presence in Syria

The Golan Heights, seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed 14 years later, are also one of the main sources of tensions between Israel and Syria. The international community has not recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, with the UN condemning the move in 1981 and 2008 and Tel Aviv saying that it the territory, which has remained an apple of discord for Israel and Syria, would never be returned to Damascus.

Syria’s Turn To Chair UN Disarmament Conference, and It’s Driving Trump and Haley Nuts

[ U.S. calls on Syria to ‘stand down’ from UN forum ]

Syria to head UN Conference on Disarmament

Geneva, SANA- The Syrian Arab Republic will assume the presidency of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament from Monday, May 28 till June 26 for the third time since its accession in 1996.

Speaking to SANA, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Hussam Eddin Ala, affirmed the exceptional importance of Syria leading this important international forum, despite the opposition of the US and the failure of the Israeli media campaigns that have worked in recent weeks to cast aspersions on Syria’s new role.

Ambassador Ala, who will chair the Conference in the next four weeks, said Syria will maintain professionalism and responsibility when carrying out its duties and will work to defend the priorities and principles that it upholds, foremost among them is respect for the principles of international law, the UN Charter and the rules and principles of the Conference on Disarmament.

He emphasized the Conference’s role in working to dispel the threats to the international security which undercut the principles of security for all states.

He pointed out that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and areas free of the weapons of mass destruction, particularly in the Middle East, and the fight against chemical and biological terrorism have always been Syria’s priorities within the Conference.

The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1979, comprising 65 States, including the five nuclear-weapon States. It is one of the most important international bodies at the Palace of Nations in Geneva and the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.

The Conference’s current agenda includes the issues of cessation of the arms race, nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war, an arms race in the outer space and the new types of weapons of mass destruction.

Manar al-Frieh/Manal

Nutanyoohoo Claims To Be Taking Military Action In Lebanon Against Iranian Interests

Netanyahu: Israel taking action against arms manufacturing in Lebanon

Prime minister affirms Israel’s right to self-defense, says battle with Iran in Syria not over

A photograph of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jet flying over the Lebanese capital of Beirut, which was apparently leaked to Israel's Hadashot news. (Screen capture)

A photograph of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jet flying over the Lebanese capital of Beirut, which was apparently leaked to Israel’s Hadashot news. (Screen capture)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was taking action against arms manufacturing in Lebanon and threatened continued fighting with Iran Sunday.

Netanyahu’s stark threat against Lebanon came after Israeli officials have warned repeatedly that Iran may be trying to manufacture advanced missiles in Lebanon to be used against Israel by the Hezbollah terror group.

“We are working to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. At the same time we are working against the establishment of an Iranian military presence against us; to this end we are also operating against the transfer of deadly weapons from Syria to Lebanon or their manufacture in Lebanon. All of these weapons are for use against the State of Israel and it is our right – based on the right of self-defense – to prevent their manufacture or transfer.”

Netanyahu did not specify what action was being taken against the arms in Lebanon.

Israel has reportedly carried out dozens of airstrikes against targets in Syria, including Iranian military installations, but has mostly refrained from carrying out attacks in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a major player in the country’s government.

Last week, Israeli air force head Amiram Norkin showed visiting generals a picture of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying near Beirut, in what was seen as a direct message to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah responded Friday, saying his group did not want a war but would “assuredly win” one.

Israeli officials believe that Iran, failing to effectively transfer weapons to Lebanon via the so-called Shia crescent, is looking to manufacture the arms in Lebanon.

Israel fought a punishing war with Hezbollah in 2006. Jerusalem believes the group has since re-armed with tens of thousands of missiles that can threaten the whole country, but lacks guided missile technology.

In recent weeks, Israeli officials have also warned that Lebanon could suffer if Israel takes action against Hezbollah.

The Iran-backed terror group’s political arm has seen its political fortunes rise in recent years, including in a recent election that pit the group as prime minister Sa’ad Hariri’s main rival.

Israel has also consistently warned that Iran, while helping its ally Bashar Assad fight a longstanding insurgency in Syria, has been working to establish a powerful military presence in the country.

Israel’s airstrikes in recent months on Iran-backed military sites in Syria, which it rarely admits to openly, have led to increased tensions in the northern border region and earlier this month saw a barrage of several dozen missiles at northern Israel, apparently fired by Iranian-backed forces, drawing a massive Israeli reprisal attack.

Netanyahu told his cabinet meeting that the fighting with Iran, which has calmed in recent days, was not over.

“The Tehran regime is the main factor undermining stability in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem. “The campaign against its aggression has not ended; we are still in it.”

The prime minister also revealed he had personally thanked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for Washington’s firm stance against Iran over its nuclear weapons aspirations and missile program.

“I spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and I said to him that I thank him for the approach that the US is presenting against the Iran nuclear deal, and against the Iranian aggression in our region,” Netanyahu said.

Last week, Pompeo delivered an address laying out US demands for Iran for sanctions releif in the wake of the nuclear deal pullout, including ending destabilizing activity in the region and making threats against Israel.

Pompeo specifically threatened to “crush” Iran proxies such as Hezbollah.

On Wednesday, Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee the Trump administration would work with “as many partners, friends and allies as possible” to address Iran, but his plan has been met with widespread skepticism, especially from other signatories to the nuclear deal.

Iranian officials widely dismissed Pompeo’s demands and vowed to push ahead with their military programs. Netanyahu was the one of the few foreign leaders to publicly praise Pompeo’s rhetoric.

US President Donald Trump announced May 8 he was pulling the US out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in which heavy sanctions were lifted from Iran in exchange for Tehran agreeing to dismantle the weapons-capable aspects of its nuclear program.

Netanyahu also warned that Israel would not tolerate “aggression against us from the Gaza Strip,” referring to weekend exchanges across the restive Israeli-Gazan border.

Two members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were killed Sunday morning when and Israeli tank fired at one of the terror group’s position in the Gaza Strip in response to the planting of an explosive device along the Gaza border. Israel also carried out airstrikes Saturday in Gaza on Hamas terror group positions after Palestinians breached the border fence and entered Israeli territory.

It was the latest exchange in ongoing deadly violence at the border which has seen tens of thousands of Palestinians taking part in protests organized by Hamas. Israel says Hamas is using the protests as cover to storm the fence and carry out attacks inside Israeli territory.

Netanyahu began his comments by offering his condolences over the death of Ronen Lubarsky, a soldier from an elite army unit who died Saturday, two days after he was critically injured when Palestinians dropped a marble slab on his head from a third-story rooftop during an IDF operation to arrest suspected terrorists in the West Bank.

‘S. China Sea is not Caribbean’

‘S. China Sea is not Caribbean’: Chinese media slams ‘reckless’ US behavior in disputed waters

‘S. China Sea is not Caribbean’: Chinese media slams ‘reckless’ US behavior in disputed waters
Washington’s attempts to militarize the South China Sea and “tame the Chinese dragon” would see Beijing deploying weapons systems in the contested area, a state-run newspaper wrote in an op-ed addressed to the US military brass.

The article comes on the heels of heightened tensions between the two world powers in the South China Sea, a strategic region that houses important maritime routes and rich natural resources.

“Aren’t US carrier groups’ constant patrols in the South China Sea the most prominent militarization in the waters? Aren’t the public statements made by the US military, that all its moves were done to warn China, direct military threats?” the Global Times state-run daily wrote.

While saying Washington hopes Beijing “would grin and bear it,” the newspaper added: “the South China Sea is quiet now,” mentioning bilateral talks with neighboring Vietnam and the Philippines intended to mend ties.

Earlier in February, the US Navy deployed a strike group of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer to conduct “routine operations” in the South China Sea.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry described the deployment as “threatening and damaging the sovereignty and security of littoral countries under the flag of freedom of navigation and overflight,” adding that “China always respects the freedom of navigation and overflight all countries enjoy under international law.”

Aside from the US deployment, Reuters reported that Indonesia will discuss the prospect of joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea with Australia at a meeting between President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this weekend.

The Global Times editorial specifically mentioned the issue of the US patrols, but it also sent a broader message to the American military commanders; some of their bellicose remarks made earlier this year do not allow hopes to be set very high for US-China reconciliation.

“As long as the US does not carry out provocative moves in the waters, the South China Sea will be peaceful,” the Global Times stated. “If the US military insists on showing that it is capable of taming the China Dragon, they are bound to see all kinds of advanced Chinese weapons as well as other military deployments on the [South China Sea] islands.”

“The South China Sea is not the Caribbean. It is not a place for the US to behave recklessly. US generals said they are ready to fight when necessary. The People’s Liberation Army is also making preparations,” it said in conclusion.

China claims sizable parts of the South China Sea, while the area is also disputed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The US and its regional allies accuse Beijing of executing an elaborate land-grabbing plan, particularly by building artificial reefs and dual-use facilities in the South China Sea islands.

Saudis/Emiratis Inadvertently Expose Cover-Up Of Probably Dead Crown Prince, Posting Old Photos As New News

Incident in Saudi Arabia Sparks Tweets About Unconfirmed Possible Coup Attempt.

 

NATO Colonizes New World, Starting With Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed Colombia will become the latest member of NATO, and the first from Latin America, during a press briefing in Bogota on Friday.

“We are getting into the big leagues. We will be measured, compared and evaluated with the best,” Santos sid.

He went on to describe the problems posed by an increasingly globalised world but hailed the benefits Colombia recieves from the international community.

“We will formalise in Brussels next week, the admission of Colombia into NATO as a ‘Global Partner’ is very important,” he concluded.

Source: Ruptly

 

Mueller’s Trump Probe Inadvertently Exposing Juicy Center of Jewish Patronage

[SEE:  It Was Our Israeli “Allies” Who Helped Trump Hijack the 2016 US Elections ]

The Countless Israeli Connections to Mueller’s Probe of Trump and Russia

The Israel-lobbyists, Netanyahu cronies, psyops manipulators and well-connected oligarchs — could it all be just one big coincidence?

FILE PHOTO: Elliott Broidy, left, with Benjamin Netanyahu, right, at a gala banquet held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Feb.  27,  2008.

FILE PHOTO: Elliott Broidy, left, with Benjamin Netanyahu, right, at a gala banquet held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Feb. 27, 2008. AP Photo/HO/David Karp

 

The Israeli media usually takes scant interest in Robert Mueller’s investigations. It prefers to dwell on Donald Trump’s supposedly pro-Israeli policies. Last week’s report in the New York Times about the participation of Joel Zamel, the Australian-born “Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,” in an August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York was an exception to the rule. The FBI, the Times reported, had even come to Israel to search the offices of Zamel’s company. Here was a direct Israeli link to the scandal that has bewitched much of America since Trump was first elected.

The moment of fleeting interest was followed up by a report, published by Walla! News, that another Israeli-based company called Inspiration, run by former IDF intelligence officers, had been employed by a super PAC that supported Trump’s election. The report alleged that after retiring from the race, Housing Secretary and then-candidate Ben Carson personally presented Trump with Inspiration’s plan for voter manipulation in swing states. A source in the company told Walla! that Inspiration had received “enormous amounts” of information from the Super PAC, which it then used to compose strategies and slogans that would elevate Trump and “float all kinds of things” about Hillary Clinton.

The two separate cases of Israeli involvement fed into sometimes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that seek to place Israel on the same level as Russia in its intervention in the 2016 presidential elections. In Israel’s case, however, there is no indication or allegation of direct government involvement or of Mueller’s interest. Nonetheless, beyond Zamel and Inspiration, a disturbing number of the main players implicated so far in Mueller’s investigation, many of them of Russian origin, have a direct link to Israel in their past or present.

>> Who is Joel Zamel, the Australian-Israeli linked to Mueller’s Trump Probe?

There could be myriad reasons for the preponderance of actors with ties to Israel. In recent years, Israeli political strategists have developed an international reputation for election campaigns; many are employed by foreign political parties. Israeli intelligence services have certainly developed an expertise in psychological warfare; both Zamel and Inspiration are said to have employed former intelligence officers. And an estimated 10-15 percent of the million or so Russian immigrants who came to Israel from the 1970s onwards are known to have used the country as a way station to immigrate to the United States and other Western countries – but not before picking up Israeli citizenship, which remains with them for life. These included so-called Russian oligarchs, some of whom made their fortunes on the wrong side of the law.

Nonetheless, there is no denying that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was overjoyed at Trump’s election – if not before the fact, then certainly after. According to reports published in November and December of last year, Mueller is investigating lobbying efforts made in December 2016, before Trump’s inauguration, by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and presidential adviser Jared Kushner against the Obama administration’s intention to refrain from vetoing UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. Flynn’s indictment included an admission that he had lied to the FBI about his approach to Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergei Kislyak to delay the Security Council vote.

And while no direct link has been established, there was certainly a confluence of views and interests in the recently uncovered efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia to assist Trump’s campaign. According to the New York Times, in the August 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, the UAE representative, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. and other participants that Obama had left a “power vacuum” in the Middle East. The report also states that Nader had concocted a secret plan to destabilize the Iranian regime, an objective now being pursued, despite their denials, by both Israel and the United States.

The question of whether the Israeli involvement was merely coincidental or an indication of something more sinister could become clearer if and when Mueller presents his findings. In the meantime, here is a necessarily incomplete catalog of the numerous Israeli connections to some of the people named so far in Mueller’s probe:

* George Nader, the convicted pedophile who worked on behalf of UAE, is a Lebanese businessman who has worked for decades in the shadows of Middle East diplomacy. He has often been accused in the Arab press of being an agent for the Mossad.  In the 1980s, Nader reportedly mediated between Israel and Lebanon. At the same time, he established the journal Middle East Insight, which often arranged meetings in Washington between Israelis and Arabs. In July, 1996, Nader hosted Netanyahu shortly after his first election as prime minister. This video shows both on the same stage.

In this Oct. 25, 2017, photo acquired by The Associated Press, George Nader poses backstage with President Donald Trump at a Republican fundraiser in Dallas. Nader, a convicted pedophile, was told by the Secret Service that he could not meet the president. His business partner, Elliott Broidy, helped him secure this photo with the president. (AP Photo)
In this Oct. 25, 2017, photo acquired by The Associated Press, George Nader poses backstage with President Donald Trump at a Republican fundraiser in Dallas. Nader, a convicted pedophile, was told by /AP

Two years later, Nader forged even closer ties with Netanyahu and his bureau: he served as Ronald Lauder’s assistant in the cosmetic tycoon’s failed efforts to secure a peace deal between Netanyahu and Syria’s president at the time, Hafez Assad. Netanyahu’s advisers have acknowledged their contacts with Nader, who is said to have been especially close to Dore Gold, the prime minister’s aide and former UN ambassador.

* Nader’s partner in representing the UAE – and in pressing Trump to take a hard line on Qatar – was Elliott Broidy, the Los Angeles venture capitalist and GOP fundraiser.  Broidy made headlines in recent weeks for his lucrative lobbying efforts on behalf of the UAE, which included two personal meetings with Trump, as well as for his alleged role in Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s payment of $1.6 million to former Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard. Many commentators assume that it was Trump who actually had an affair with Bechard and got her pregnant, with Broidy volunteering to serve as his cover.

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at Federal Court in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 16, 2018. Cohen says he gave legal advice to three clients in the past year, including the president and Elliott Broidy, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg
Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at Federal Court in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 16, 2018. Cohen says he gave legal advice to three clients in the past year,Bloomberg

Broidy also has a long history with Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular. Together with Sheldon Adelson, he is a prominent member of the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which has taken hawkish positions on the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fifteen years ago, Broidy set up Markstone Capital Group which operated in Israel, investing in Israeli companies and attracting Israeli investors. In 2003, then-Finance Minister Netanyahu took credit for convincing the New York State pension fund to invest $250 million in Markstone. It later emerged that Broidy’s bribes to former New York State Comptroller and now-convicted felon Alan Hevesi also played a role in the pension fund’s largesse. By the time Broidy pled guilty to a misdemeanor after cooperating with Hevesi’s investigators in 2012, Markstone’s Israeli branch had essentially collapsed, taking with it the many Israelis’ investments.

* In January 2017, Nader took part in a meeting in Seychelles, which is also being probed by Mueller. In attendance were Erik Prince, Trump confidante, brother of Education Secretary Betsy Devos and founder of the security company Blackwater, as well as Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian government’s sovereign wealth fund Russia Direct Investment Fund. Dmitriev’s fund has in recent months been negotiating with Israeli government ministers on a $100 million project to open Israeli-run dairies in Russia.

* Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, who features in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, in which she is alleged to have offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton, represented Prevezon Holdings Ltd. in the money laundering case brought forth by former New York Southern District Attorney Preet Bharara. After Bharara was dismissed by Trump, Prevezon was allowed to pay a $6 million fine in May 2017 to avoid criminal prosecution. The owner of Prevezon is Denis Katsyv, another Israeli citizen, whose father Pyotr was a high municipal official in Moscow. In 2005, the same Katsyv reached a similar settlement with Israeli authorities, paying a fine of 35 million shekels after being indicted for money laundering at a Tel Aviv branch of Bank Hapoalim. The Cyprus-registered Prevezon was managed for a while by a Tel Aviv lawyer, who also represented the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

* Katsyv partnered with the Dutch branch of Africa-Israel Ltd., which belongs to Russian-Israeli diamond and real estate mogul Lev Leviev. Leviev’s apartments in New York were alleged to have served as a conduit for Prevezon’s money laundering. In 2015, Leviev sold four stories of the old New York Times building in Manhattan to Jared Kushner for $295 million, secured through a loan from Deutsche Bank, which is also being probed by Mueller.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Lev Leviev
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Lev Leviev

* Leviev and Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club who has recently run into visa problems with British authorities, teamed up in 1999 to set up the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia (FOR). They were responding to a request by Vladimir Putin to set up a group that would rival the Russian Jewish Congress, headed by Israeli-Russian oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky, who was close to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The head of the FOR is Italian-Russian Chabad Rabbi Berel Lazar. In April 2017, Politico alleged that Chabad and FOR were used by the Kremlin as conduits for their efforts to influence the U.S. elections. The report was denied and even dismissed as anti-Semitic. Interestingly, a BBC story published this week about payments made to Michael Cohen by Ukraine in order to secure a long White House meeting with Trump for Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko notes that the approach to Trump’s lawyer was made via the Chabad branch in Port Washington, New York.

* Mueller is also said to be investigating connections between Russian oligarchs and Trump’s businesses in the years before he became president. One such partner in Trump’s failed Soho tower was the late Israeli-Georgian tycoon Tamir Sapir. In 2007, Trump hosted the wedding of Sapir’s daughter, Zina, with Rotem Rosen, then the director of the North American branch of Leviev’s Africa-Israel. The same year, Netanyahu listed Sapir as one of the potential donors to his Likud primary campaign in a handwritten note uncovered by the Yedioth Aharonoth daily.

* Another partner in the Soho project, and possibly the architect of Trump’s ties to Russia, was Felix Sater, who worked closely with Cohen. Sater is also an Israeli citizen, having passed through the country on his way to the United States with his father Mikhail, whom the FBI has named as a lieutenant for Russia mafia kingpin Sergei Mogilevich. Mogilevich came to Israel in 1990 and lived there for a few years. According to press reports, Mogilevich participated in a 1995 meeting of Ukrainian master criminals convened in Tel Aviv by another Russian oligarch with a shady reputation, Boris Birshtein. After several years in Israel, Birshtein left the country for Canada, after learning that he had turned into a target of the Israeli police. Subsequently, he partnered with Trump in a building project in Toronto.

Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, founder of Interpipe Group, poses for a photograph following a Bloomberg Television interview on day two of  the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 43rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the five day event runs from Jan. 23-27. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, founder of Interpipe Group, poses for a photograph following a Bloomberg Television interview on day two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland,Bloomberg

* Mueller is also said to be investigating a $150,000 contribution to Trump’s inaugural committee, in which Broidy played an active role, made by another Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk. Cohen, it is alleged, was the middleman. Pinchuk is a significant contributor to religious institutions in Israel, but is also well connected to its politicians. In 2008 he served as co-chairman of the Israeli Presidential Conference convened in Jerusalem by the late Shimon Peres.

* Another purported target of Mueller’s investigation is Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, an Israeli citizen with investments in Israel, for payments allegedly made to Michael Cohen. Vekselberg partnered with Israeli-Russian billionaires Len Blavatnik, who is invested in Israeli media, connected to Netanyahu and is also under Mueller’s spotlight, as well as Russian-Israeli billionaire Mikhail Fridman. One of their joint holdings was Alfa Bank, which, according to the Steele Dossier, owned a mysterious internet server found in Trump Tower. Fridman is also the main contributor to the Genesis Prize, in which Netanyahu regularly plays a prominent role, and which featured recently in the brouhaha surrounding Natalie Portman’s decision to decline the prize after she had earlier accepted it.

Loose Cannons

 

Back in the days of sword and sail, warships mounted heavy cannon on their decks in such a way as to maximize their range of fire. Out of necessity, this meant the cannon were not permanently fixed in place and needed to be properly lashed to the deck during high seas or violent maneuvers. The cannon, cast from iron, were extremely heavy weapons of war and wrought great death and destruction if they ever broke free from their restraints and got loose on deck.

Today, the phrase ‘loose cannon’ is used to describe an individual, usually a politician or other ‘authority’, who has become reckless and rash, lashing out senselessly at anyone and everyone within reach. Dangerously uncontrollable would be a proper description of both the loose cannon and the described individual.

But I am not referencing Donald Trump or any other individual for that matter. Instead I am speaking with regard to the faceless, nameless, uber powerful chameleon better known as the Deep State, the existence of which has been repeatedly mentioned in the mainstream and alternative press of late. However, I am not necessarily claiming the Deep State itself is the loose cannon. Read on for the answer.

While various forms of the phrase “Deep State” have been around for decades, I began to pay particular attention soon after the false flag event of 9/11, when I launched into deep study sessions reading the likes of Smedley Butler, John Perkins, Roger Stone, Michael Ruppert, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Engelhardt, Peter Dale Scott, Noam Chomsky, Webster Tarpley et al. The list is deep and varied and by no means does it represent strictly truthsayers. To truly know your enemy you must understand their tactics, methods and disinformation/propaganda.

I was aware of deeply hidden forces within the US for most of my adult life, based mostly upon my experiences within the counterculture movements of the late 60’s and 70’s. But my second and deeper awakening unfolded when I absorbed a wide and diverse swath of alternative authors and history. My rapidly expanding understanding of how deeply embedded and controlling the Deep State had been, and still remains today, was personally and emotionally unsettling to say the least.

Nobody wishes to admit they were conned. Even worse is the ego blow administered when we concede we have been compliant and complicit through a combination of gullibility, greed and narcissistic self interest. Navel gazing is rarely pretty when seen up close and personal. The bottom line is I didn’t know because I didn’t want to know. Any excuse to explain or justify my so-called ignorance is offered to sooth my tattered ego and falls on deaf ears when brutal honesty is pursued.

Just because I didn’t know doesn’t mean I couldn’t know if I had wanted to; a fact most of us avoid acknowledging under any and all circumstances. We simply cannot declare ourselves thinking and aware individuals if all we compute is preprogrammed propaganda trash. Garbage in equates to garbage out and results in a fetid garbage dump located between the ears.

Similar to how the martial arts expert leverages his opponent’s weakness to defeat him or her, so too does the Deep State leverage our ignorance and denial against “We the People”. Just because we acknowledge the phrase “Deep State” doesn’t mean we recognize, let alone understand, the Deep State itself.

Previously our collective ignorance was encouraged by clever disinformation, bald faced lies and outright denial of the Deep State by the Deep State itself through its various public organs, aka the mainstream media, various ‘think’ tanks and its multitude of managed authorities and officials. When a captive culture is dependent upon paternal authority for affirmation of its very existence, whatever the authority deems real (or not) carries great influence within the dependent herd.

This conditioned way of thinking, of being, is so deeply embedded within our ‘self’ that its existence is denied by nearly all, at least on a personal basis. Tragically, this is why even mentally strong individuals can rarely accept a promoted ‘truth’ for what it really is……a lie, particularly if the lie flies in the face of deeply engrained and conditioned beliefs.

This helps explain why so many people must continue to believe the official lie about 9/11 truth. To fully reject the lie is to reject themselves and what they believe in. You might as well ask them to cut off a pound of flesh as to get them to seriously question the official story.

Sure, many will say they don’t completely believe the promoted lie as the ‘truth’. But they have simply bargained with themselves by accepting lesser lies rather than fully rejecting the lie and all the ramifications that come with doing so.

This is also why people will remain lobsters in a pot, knowing full well the water’s getting warmer by the minute, and only panic when an ‘authority’ finally admits we will soon be served up with butter. Ultimately many simply cannot reject the public lie because doing so means rejecting the paternal hierarchy. This only becomes possible for many if they first seek out, and then receive, external affirmation from a substitute paternal figure/organization.

We cannot reject one paternal hierarchy without joining another, allowing the second to confirm our rejection of the first. The enslaved mind constantly craves affirmation to sooth its inured insecurity. What passes for strong individuals these days is often a deeply insecure mind flailing about in desperate need of external affirmation. Never underestimate the lengths to which we will go to assuage our deeply conditioned insecurity.

This is the supreme leverage constantly employed against us. Condition us to be the problem, poke and provoke us to create a reaction and then quickly provide a superficial solution that simply leads us back to the problem. Each successive generation of controllers only needs to perpetuate the insecurity to both confirm it and play upon it. There is no need to reinvent the wheel; just roll it on down the hill. Prior conditioning, like gravity, does the rest.

Loose Cannon

Set one of these loose and run for cover.

But lately the controlling meme is changing. Now the Deep State is acknowledging its very existence in the name of fighting tyranny and intolerance. In many ways this is a brilliant strategy because the first rule of politics is to accuse your opponent of being precisely what you are. He, who accuses first, accuses best.

The CIA, the covert muscle of the Deep State, is publically defying the chief executive of the political union we call America. While this is not surprising to those of us who understand the makeup and methods of the Deep State, it is very revealing to mainstream minions who (want to) know nothing about the ugly underbelly of the underworld.

Being overtly controlling violates basic Constitutional tenets we have long been conditioned to believe overrides all individual and governmental entities. This aberration can only be tolerated by the greater (still brainwashed) population if framed in a way that signals furtherance of truth, justice and the American Way. Essentially the Deep State is declaring they must destroy the village in order to save the village.

In effect, what the Deep State is promoting is the ultimate in Virtue Signaling to a specifically targeted and preprogrammed segment of the population. This is monstrously hypocritical to the nth degree. But morals and ethics only apply to the little people and are useless to the Deep State unless leveraged against us, something it does all the time via its compliant subordinates.

In the opinion of many on the political (far) right, the Deep State has just jumped the shark with its transition to open warfare against its perceived domestic enemies. They say it’s all just ineffective thrashings of a wounded and dying animal, desperate to maintain control in the face of significant opposition from Trump and Company.

Put simply, the thinking is the Deep State would not engage in such actions if it did not feel covert means were more effective. This means, in their opinion, that the USA has become a loose cannon, wrecking havoc on the decks of the nation’s ship of state. Regardless of whether this assessment is correct or not, the present day state of affairs is entirely intentional and planned.

I have written before how Trump was ‘created’ by the Deep State via its controlled propaganda organ, the MSM, rather than a ‘spontaneous combustion’ per a popular outcry of disenfranchised citizens seeking none of the above. Simply stated, if the MSM had not vilified Trump at every turn, thereby turning Trump into a blazing Roman candle signaling him as nothing like the above and a rebel with a cause, Trump would once again have sunk into the ignored wasteland shared by every other alternative candidate before him.

The mainstream media is the controlling propaganda arm of the Deep State. It assumes no major policy or political stance without the expressed consent and direction of its controllers. It could have ignored and marginalized Trump just as it has done to every other contrary candidate since Ross Perot was ‘allowed’ to run back in 1992.

Trump is no accident or political escapee who blew up in the face of the MSM, nor the deep state for that matter. But that is precisely the propaganda meme being vigorously promoted via every glowing screen from sea to shining sea. Even the political right has taken the bait, endlessly repeating Trump the ‘rebel’ mind meme.

So why would ‘they’ do this? What greater purpose, at least for them, is served erecting such a flawed and divisive candidate, then electing him to the highest office in the land?

In a word……control, as in continuing and near total.

While carefully hidden from the general public, the primary control mechanism of the Deep State (the fiat dollar as the world’s reserve currency) is rapidly waning in power and influence. Vast arrays of sleeping sloggers throughout the world are becoming increasingly aware of the corrosive financial policies directed against the many towards the few by the US and its captured co-conspirators. The zombie dead are slowly awakening.

A swirling feedback loop of additional financial excesses creating more social inequities could rapidly ignite in the Deep State’s lap if this explosive energy is not redirected towards division of the masses before they firmly unite. The 10,000 year old domination of the plebs playbook is clear; either control the opposition or fall to the opposition.

For the central entities of the Deep State, the impulse to escalate springs from the obsessive desire to survive their own decadent excesses. Power craves more power, and will not meekly tolerate less. The only purpose of power is to effectively use it to gain more power while maintaining the power already possessed.

If there’s one thing I learned from the alternative social movements of the 60’s and 70’s, it was the following lesson. What appears to be real and genuine on the surface is rarely what actually exists beneath the first few layers of illusionary fluff. Those who believe the music, drugs, fashion and symbolism of that period of time was entirely organic and natural, spontaneous even, needs to dig much deeper down into the rabbit hole.

 

Loose Cannon TwoThere’s not much holding that sucker in place.

Things rarely are as they seem. Rather than view that period of time (and today as well) as a series of events the mainstream media reports on in real time, or after the fact, recognize it as essentially a creation of the propaganda press controlled by the Deep State.

If anything, as then and again today, tiny organic embers which are always present in any large and diverse population, once fanned into flickering flames, attract alternative minded moths that move toward the light and embrace change they can believe in. The rest, as they say, is history.

Nine years ago it worked when Obama moved to corral a restless segment of the population. Now it’s working once again as Trump herds a contrary subdivision while giving the first segment renewed purpose and vigor opposing the second. This divide and control tactic is brilliant in its shameless audacity and imprudence.

It has been endlessly reported the horse pulls the cart. But in fact, the cart is placed in front of the horse and leads the horse to water, all while allowing the horse to think he’s the boss. When a conditioned absence of critical thinking meets up with controlling thought memes, the mind readily accepts as truth what it is told. Our bruised ego would allow us see it no other way.

There are no accidents in the Deep State. One does not need to micromanage in order to control. In fact, to micromanage destroys the ability to effectively control a ‘free’ culture because people will only fully engage and embrace that which they believe is organic, true and aligned with their conditioned belief system. This especially holds true for the alternatively aligned mind that is suspicious by nature and nurture.

Only when a prevailing meme is structured to allow infinite and minute modification by the individual, while remaining effectively whole in its basis, can it exercise overall control by allowing the target to believe they can fully embody it while still regulating it.

We must believe it is our idea if we are to ‘allow’ that idea to control us; though we will never permit ourselves to recognize this control as engaged within our ‘self’, only in other weaker, more susceptible individuals. Our ego, leveraged against our ‘self’, rarely if ever allows our true self to acknowledge we are the patsy at the poker table.

Of course, it then follows that everyone at the poker table is a patsy and only the house stands to gain long term. Even if aware of these circumstances, we grudgingly accept this fact so long as we are given a ‘chance’ to win short term, thereby affirming our participation rather than resorting to rejection and revolt. Nobody wants spilled red blood to stain the green table felt.

Naturally, after the house takes their cut off the top for providing the fertile plantation, we divide up the anted pot of our remaining money amongst ourselves. If there is a short tem winner, by extension everyone else is a short term loser. The key here is to understand we are never allowed to believe we are compelled to play the game. It all must appear to be voluntary if the illusion is to hold.

The concept of the intentionally seeded and subsequent gestation of a deeply implanted ‘original’ mind meme was the prevailing theme of the movie Inception, a brilliant propaganda piece itself. It is perfectly fine for the magician to show how his trick is performed if he convinces his audience they are too smart to ever be tricked by him. Only the most deeply reconditioned minds are capable of consistently rejecting the ultimate psychological double entendre.

The dirty little secret is found in the ‘re’-conditioning of the captured mind. A labyrinth this deeply layered and convoluted anticipates escapees leaking from the seams and edges. A system of opening and closing doors and passageways peppered with hidden treasure truths keeps the vast majority of smitten mice safely contained.

Most timid minds will merely penetrate one or two layers deep before exhausting their will and resolve to go deeper. Sated by the fact they have found an alternative universe of ‘truth’ already populated with an established, but growing, hierarchy, they settle in and dig their defensive trenches.

The craving for (more) power, even by those who dwell at the bottom, resides in all who submit to a paternal pecking order. Find a smaller crew and maybe you can eat better by moving up the power ladder.

Not only can we not handle the truth, but freedom to find the truth as well. We are trained from birth to believe only a fool, or a severely unbalanced mind, would dare leave the comforting confines of the reservation and strike out on our own. Those who feel the itch to explore are quickly sated by swapping one set of truths for another. Just make sure you close the cage door behind you once safely back within.

It is not the Deep State who is the loose cannon careening about the upper decks, soon to bring death and destruction to our front door. Instead it is “We the People” who are about to have our lashing silently slashed in the dead of night just before the storm to end all storms strikes broadside. We have met the enemy and he is us.

The Deep State and all that it encompasses, along with its large cast of conspiring characters, psychopaths and mindless enablers, is always and forever simply the hand holding the razor sharp knife poised to slash the rope and unleash terror and torment when the time is right for murder and mayhem to commence. It’s killing time in the pen.

The Deep State organized the mining and refining of the iron ore, designed the cannon casting and supporting substructure, trained the crew in its care and operation, directly supervised the lashing to assure competent conditioning and is now sharpening the knife for the final act of control and subversion.

We, you and I and they and them and all those blithering idiots on all sides of the political aisle are the collective loose cannon about to be set into violent motion. And here’s the rub that will rob you of sleep if you don’t quickly dismiss it all before the fall.

The only way to win is not to play at all.

 

03/16/2017

Cognitive Dissonance

New Study Provides Yet More Proof Of Saudi State Sponsorship Of ISIS

During the same week Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) admitted to the The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Saudi nationals have funded terror groups, a prominent Georgetown University counterterrorism expert and field researcher has published his findings based on extensive interviews with former ISIS members which identifies Saudi Arabia as a key source of the now defunct Islamic State’s prior rapid growth. 

The findings were summarized in the Government and Technology Services Coalition’s Homeland Security Today online journal, and authored by Georgetown University professor Ahmet Yayla, who during the past four years has interviewed over 40 ISIS defectors in Turkey while conducting on the ground research along Syria’s border.

Yayla’s findings entitled, To Truly Fight Terror, Counter Salafist Jihadist Ideology First, confirm that:

“The majority of the ISIS shaykhs (imams and teachers) who were preaching in ISIS-controlled territories and schools were from Saudi Arabia.”

Though documentation on Saudi Arabia’s role in financing global jihad has been abundant over the past years of war in Syria and Iraq, Professor Yayla’s field research provides yet further empirical confirmation and proof of Saudi Arabia’s role in fueling both ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorism. 


Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). Image source: Getty via Daily Express

The study focuses specifically on ‘Salafist jihadism’ – a term often used interchangeably with Wahhabism – as “the same root” shared by both al-Qaeda and ISIS:

Salafism is usually described as an ultraconservative, puritanical, grim and fundamentalist branch within Sunni Islam established on the teachings of the 13th-century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, whose ideas were introduced by puritanical scholar Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the Arabian Peninsula during the mid-18th Century. Wahhab advocated a return to the traditions of the first generations of Muslims (the salaf).

And as also summarized in a 2016 New York Times investigation, ISIS terrorists rely on official Saudi religious instruction books as primary sources informing their ideology.

Professor Yayla writes:

ISIS and al-Qaeda appropriate foundational texts of al-Wahhab, including The Book of Monotheism (Kitab at-Tawhid), in their curriculum, in their Sharia (ideological) training in military camps, online training and the school systems they control.

Additionally, several ISIS defectors I interviewed specifically told me how al-Wahhab’s Kitab at-Tawhid was the chief and the most important part of their training, a book also widely and historically adopted by today’s Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, I observed that Salafist literature and books were adopted by terrorists including al-Qaeda for their indoctrination and training during the investigations I carried out as a counterterrorism police chief in Turkey.

Notably, one of Saudi Arabia’s most visible sheikhs – who recently held the title of ‘Imam of Kaaba, the Grand Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca’ – admitted that ISIS is a product of Saudi Salafi/Wahhabi Islam, which has been described by scholars and historians alike as the official state religion of Saudi Arabia, despite MbS’ feigning confusion over the issue during his recent Atlantic interview.

Professor Yayla writes further while citing the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI):

Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani, the former Imam of Kaaba, the Grand Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca, and a Salafi himself, openly and sincerely admitted that “ISIS is a true product of Salafism” and we must deal with it with full transparency.

But the key section of the summary study Homeland Security Today, which links the highest levels of the Saudi state (including Saudi princes) with ISIS terrorism is worth quoting in full.

According to the below excerpt from the summary findings, Saudi Arabia spreads Salafist terror ideology “all over the world”:

“The fact is, some Saudi princes, clerics, and charities for decades have been pouring out billions of dollars to promote their understanding of Islam, Wahhabism. They have found willing partners among the vulnerable populations in the Central Asian and Afghan-Pakistani regions, Africa, the Balkans and even in Europe. These funders indirectly assist ISIS and al-Qaeda-friendly organizations to fast-track their recruitments process on their behalf. In the leaked U.S. embassy cables, it was openly addressed that Saudi Arabia was ‘a critical source of terrorist funding’ where the money is mostly spent on training of Wahhabi clerics, production and distribution of Wahhabi textbooks, media outreach and donations to local schools or cultural centers.

Thanks to the Saudis spreading Salafism all over the world, these terrorists reach ideologically ripe people among their targeted groups who are already educated by the Wahhabis.

For a more comprehensive and effective long-term counterterrorism policy, the world should understand that regardless of the political costs and outcomes there is no true dealing of jihadi terrorism without countering the Salafist jihadist ideology. The majority of the ISIS shaykhs (imams and teachers) who were preaching in ISIS-controlled territories and schools were from Saudi Arabia and hence had the kunya of ‘al- Jazrawi.’ Wahhabi teachings around the world with Saudi-supported Imams have established the grounds for easier jihadist terrorism recruitments.”

Though MbS was clearly lying as well as attempting to dodge the topic altogether when he awkwardly told Jeffrey Goldberg, “There is no Wahhabism, we don’t believe we have Wahhabism,” he was right about one thing: the US itself led the way in promoting the spread of Wahhabi jihad near the end of the Cold War.

The crown prince was recently quoted by the Washington Post while in DC: “Mohammed said that investments in mosques and madrassas overseas were rooted in the Cold War, when allies asked Saudi Arabia to use its resources to prevent inroads in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union.”

And MbS repeated these comments to The Atlantic: “This is what America wanted us to do.”

Trump Pins Medal of Honor Upon Disgraced and Disowned Navy Seal, Ignoring Interservice Dispute

Trump awards Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL accused of war crimes

“SEAL Team 6 added Slabinski to the “rock of shame,” a list of former members of SEAL Team 6 who were no longer welcome to visit the command. Already barred from serving at SEAL Team 6, Slabinski was now physically banished.”

The Crimes of SEAL Team 6

On May 7, the White House announced that President Donald Trump would award a retired SEAL Team 6 sniper the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest decoration for battlefield valor.

Normally, the presentation of the Medal of Honor is a solemn and meaningful recognition of bravery and heroism. But the announcement of the award for Britt Slabinski — and the concurrent decision to give the same award to John Chapman, a deceased Air Force combat controller — came after a yearslong campaign to recognize disputed events 16 years ago on a remote mountain in Afghanistan. The awards have exposed a rift in the special operations community, a long-running argument pitting the Air Force against the Navy SEALs. More significantly, the decision to award a Medal of Honor to Slabinski represents the enduring failure of the SEALs, the Pentagon, Congress, and the White House to reckon with the dark history of SEAL Team 6 in the post-9/11 wars. All these authorities have refused to conduct any meaningful or robust oversight of a group of elite commandos who have committed war crimes abroad and gone to great lengths to cover them up.

On March 3, 2002, a small SEAL Team 6 reconnaissance team led by Slabinski landed atop Takur Ghar, a 10,000-foot peak above the Shah-i-Kot valley in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. The mission was part of the U.S. military’s Operation Anaconda, a multi-day effort to squeeze out and kill the last large group of Al Qaeda militants and Taliban fighters hiding in the valley. As it attempted to land, the helicopter took fire from Al Qaeda fighters, and SEAL Neil Roberts fell from the back of the helicopter. The helicopter was heading back to a nearby base when Slabinski and his team realized they had lost a teammate.

For two hours, SEAL Team 6 and officers from the Joint Special Operations Command scrambled a rescue force to recover Roberts. Again their helicopter took fire as it landed near the top. Slabinski and his team, including John Chapman, rushed out amid small arms fire from the Al Qaeda militants. The team split and Chapman was hit two minutes after engaging the militants. With additional teammates severely wounded, and believing Chapman was dead, Slabinski ordered his SEAL team to retreat down the mountain. A quick reaction force, consisting mostly of Army Rangers, then engaged in a pitched battle for control of Takur Ghar, as Slabinski called in airstrikes from his position down the side of the mountain. Ultimately, Roberts, Chapman, and five others were killed over the course of the battle, which became known as Roberts Ridge.

john-chapman-1526929336

Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, who died at the battle of Roberts Ridge, March 3,  2002, in Afghanistan.   Photo: U.S. Air Force

These details are largely agreed upon. Chapman and Slabinski both received service crosses, the military’s second-highest award. After Roberts’s body was recovered, the military determined that he had been mutilated, a horrific act that led SEAL Team 6 operators to engage in a cycle of vengeance against enemy fighters in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

From practically the moment Slabinski and his team returned to Bagram Air Base, others in the special operations community questioned whether he had erred in his assessment that Chapman was dead and retreated with a member of his team still alive.

In 2016, after the Pentagon began reassessing silver stars and service crosses awarded during the war on terror, the Air Force put together forensics and drone video that they claimed showed Chapman got up after Slabinski and the SEALs retreated and continued to fight, alone and outnumbered, before succumbing to his wounds.

The SEALs disagreed, and Rear Adm. Timothy Szymanski, the commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare, pushed for an upgrade for Slabinski’s service cross. Both current and former military members say the inter-service fight between the SEALs and the Air Force special operations command has been ugly and unbecoming. According to a Navy officer, the SEALs made several efforts to block an upgrade for Chapman, infuriating the Air Force.

Presentations of the Medal of Honor are almost always fraught with questions about whether the awards are handed out to make those involved in operations feel better about a loss of life. There’s “always some kind of solace sought in decorating someone with the award,” said one of Slabinski’s former leaders at SEAL Team 6, who spent more than 30 years in Special Operations. “A lot of it has to do with politics and rank and stature and always, in my opinion, the more dynamic and public the screw-up, the more likely it is that someone is going to get highly decorated.”

Another of Slabinski’s former teammates said 25 years of experience as a SEAL convinced him that the award system for valorous action has little integrity. “One of my commanders told me point-blank: The bigger the fuck-up, the bigger the award.”

The retired SEAL leader, who studied the battle at Roberts Ridge extensively for the military and discussed the events with Slabinski, said the issue was not whether Chapman or Slabinski were deserving of a medal upgrade, but why the military was motivated to extend that honor so many years later. “This is the madness of the Medal of Honor,” he said. “Rarely is it granted when things go well.”

By awarding both Chapman and Slabinski the Medal of Honor, the Pentagon presents an impossible version of what happened on Roberts Ridge. By awarding it to Chapman, the military endorses the view that Chapman survived his initial injuries and fought with valor after Slabinski and his SEAL team retreated down the mountain. If that’s true, then Slabinski left his teammate behind, violating the first rule of special operations. By awarding Slabinski the Medal of Honor, the military essentially ignores the Chapman narrative and supports the notion that Slabinski’s actions that day were heroic.

Both versions of what happened at Takur Ghar cannot be true. But the argument over how Slabinski determined Chapman was dead, and when Chapman may have died, is really a distraction from the true significance  of what came down from Takur Ghar after the battle for Roberts Ridge.

Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski led the push for Britt Slabinski’s Medal of Honor and promoted him after he was barred from SEAL Team 6 for suspected war crimes.   Photo: U.S. Navy

No one pushed for the upgrade more than Szymanski, according to both current and former Navy officers. Members of SEAL Team 6 have told me they believe the award is meant, in large part, to help validate and cover up a series of ultimately fatal decisions taken by Szymanski and other senior SEAL Team 6 officers.As the SEAL Team 6 operations officer at Bagram Air Base, Szymanski was the mission planner for Slabinski’s reconnaissance team. Szymanski and his superior officers effectively limited Slabinski’s options, forcing him to land on what they later discovered was a well-established enemy position, rather than allowing the team to land lower on the mountain and clandestinely patrol the top. The former unit leader who served several years with Szymanski said he had no doubt that his former teammate pushed for the upgrade to assuage his own guilt about putting Slabinski and his team in what became a disastrous position.

Slabinski’s military career did not end on March 4, 2002. He spent another 12 years in the military, almost all of it at SEAL Team 6, where he ended up as a senior enlisted leader. For many, he was a legendary SEAL. Inside the secret world of what the military refers to as a “Tier 1” unit, however, Slabinski is part of another legacy, one which also stems from what happened during Roberts Ridge. That legacy involves Szymanski as well.

In the days after Takur Ghar, Slabinski and others in SEAL Team 6 sought “payback” for Roberts, Chapman, and the other casualties. Slabinski later told author Malcolm MacPherson, in a taped interview obtained by The Intercept, that a few days after the battle, his team ambushed and killed nearly two dozen Al Qaeda fighters headed toward the Pakistan border. After the militants had been killed, Slabinski described a form of “therapy”:

I mean, talk about the funny stuff we do. After I shot this dude in the head, there was a guy who had his feet, just his feet, sticking out of some little rut or something over here. I mean, he was dead, but people have got nerves. I shot him about 20 times in the legs, and every time you’d kick him, er, shoot him, he would kick up, you could see his body twitching and all that. It was like a game. Like, ‘hey look at this dude,’ and the guy would just twitch again. It was just good therapy. It was really good therapy for everybody who was there.

Audio from an unpublished interview with Britt Slabinksi conducted by Malcolm MacPherson, author of a 2005 book on the battle of Roberts Ridge.

For almost four years after Roberts Ridge, SEAL Team 6 intentionally limited Slabinski’s battlefield exposure. The trauma from Roberts Ridge was clear — and Slabinski has said that he still sees fighters moving in slow motion from that day.

In 2007, Slabinski was sent back to Afghanistan as a squadron master chief, which made him the senior noncommissioned officer of Blue Squadron. His two-year assignment at Blue came as the SEAL Team 6 leadership began receiving reports that small groups of SEALs were committing what they believed were war crimes: cutting, mutilating, and otherwise desecrating enemy fighters with knives and custom-made hatchets. In addition, SEAL Team 6 operators were “canoeing” dead or dying enemy targets — firing bullets at close range to the top of the skull, splitting it open at the forehead and exposing the brain matter.

In late 2007, members of Blue Squadron were twice investigated by Naval Criminal Investigative Service and JSOC. The first investigation resulted from allegations that a SEAL had attempted to behead a Taliban fighter in southern Afghanistan after Slabinski told his men he wanted a “head on a platter.” As I reported in 2017, Slabinski told his superiors and later investigators that there had been no beheading, saying there was “no foul play.” A former investigator with direct knowledge of the case told me that it was clear from the beginning of the beheading investigation that SEAL Team 6 had brought in NCIS to conclude that no war crime had occurred. “We knew we’d been called in to give them the result they wanted — that everyone was clean,” the former Navy officer said. The NCIS investigation was part of the cover-up.

Shortly after the beheading incident, Slabinski’s team was accused of killing unarmed men in an operation. That investigation, too, resulted in the SEALs being cleared.

Three years later, in 2010, Slabinski was up for a promotion when SEAL Team 6 decided to re-examine his tour with Blue Squadron. The command confirmed that Slabinski had in fact covered up the attempted beheading. Slabinski also admitted he had given an illegal order for his men to shoot all males on an operation regardless of whether or not they were armed, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation. Ultimately, however, the military concluded all the men killed during that operation were armed. As a result of these inquiries, a group of 10 SEAL Team 6 leaders later voted unanimously to ban Slabinski from ever serving at the command again. After Slabinski’s admission, the most senior enlisted member of SEAL Team 6 told him, “That’s not what we’re about. We can’t have you here.”

As I reported in 2017, one of Slabinski’s former superiors said: “To this day, he thinks the guys turned on him. Well, they did. What we didn’t do was turn him in. You will step over the line and you start dehumanizing people. You really do. And it takes the team, it takes individuals to pull you back. And part of that was getting rid of Britt Slabinski.”

Naval Special Warfare has consistently stated that the allegations against Slabinski and SEAL Team 6 are “unfounded,” and that each has been “previously investigated and determined to be not substantiated.” Despite months of my repeated inquires to SEAL Team 6 and Naval Special Warfare, no one would answer a simple question: If no crimes had been committed, why bar Slabinski from SEAL Team 6? Syzmanski and Slabinski did not respond to requests for comment.

The answer lies in how effective and widespread the culture of lies and cover-ups has been at SEAL Team 6. In each of Slabinski’s 2007 investigations, both NCIS and JSOC found no evidence of violations of the laws of armed conflict, as they describe war crimes. But three years later, a small group of unit leaders quickly substantiated the allegations and even secured a confession. The command thus demonstrated that it was perfectly capable of determining the truth for internal purposes — and once again proved it was unwilling to expose even its pariahs to external scrutiny or justice.

After learning that he would never again serve at SEAL Team 6,  Slabinski was thrown a lifeline by Szymanski, then commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 2, who selected him to be his command master chief. His career should have been over, yet he was given a promotion. Some inside SEAL Team 6 were stunned. From their perspective, Szymanski had willingly requested a suspected war criminal to be his senior noncommissioned officer. When asked why he would bring in Slabinski after he was thrown out of SEAL Team 6 for alleged war crimes, a SEAL Team 6 leader told me that Szymanski told his fellow SEALs that their community could not shun a war hero.

In their time commanding Group 2, Szymanski and Slabinski helped craft what has become the unofficial Navy SEAL creed, which ends with this:

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

In 2015, after he retired, Slabinski gave an on-the-record interview to the New York Times in which he denied giving the illegal order to shoot any man. He also implied that it was his leadership and discipline that prevented the near-beheading in 2007. In the view of senior SEAL Team 6 leaders, Slabinski had lied. Even worse, he’d done so while speaking to the press. For that sin, SEAL Team 6 added Slabinski to the “rock of shame,” a list of former members of SEAL Team 6 who were no longer welcome to visit the command. Already barred from serving at SEAL Team 6, Slabinski was now physically banished.

“That’s what’s wrong with my community,” a former SEAL Team 6 leader told me last year. “Our sense of what’s right and what’s wrong is warped. No one was upset that he ordered a beheading or all the men shot even if they were unarmed. They were mad because he spoke to the New York Times and lied.”

One of the regulations governing military awards, including the Medal of Honor, states that “no medal, cross, or bar, or associated emblem or insignia may be awarded or presented to any person or to his representative if his service after he distinguished himself has not been honorable.”

By the military’s own standard, Slabinski should have been disqualified from the Medal of Honor for his actions in subsequent deployments to Afghanistan. But Slabinski’s dishonorable actions are only a part of a much larger problem. Senior officers of SEAL Team 6 bear the ultimate responsibility, both for tactical failures, such as the decisions that placed Slabinski’s team at the top of Takur Ghar, and for leadership failures, for turning a blind eye to a broad pattern of war crimes and other military misconduct. For 15 years, as SEAL Team 6 senior officers and leaders received reports that their operators were skinning, scalping, canoeing, and otherwise mutilating enemy corpses with custom-made hatchets in Afghanistan and Iraq, they either ignored the warnings or helped cover them up.

“By giving Slabinski the award, you close the door on our criminal history,” said the former SEAL Team 6 leader. “The cover-up wins. You’ve closed this ugly part of our command’s history, and everyone gets away with it. What everyone learns from this is that cover-ups work — don’t say anything bad about your teammates, keep quiet and we’ll get through it. It’s disgraceful.”

Correction: May 22, 2018

A previous version of this article stated that John Chapman’s Medal of Honor was announced by the White House on May 7  along with Britt Slabinski’s. Although Chapman’s medal had been approved, it has not yet been formally announced. 

Top photo: An undated official portrait of retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt K. Slabinski.

Syrian Diplomat Accuses US-led Coalition Of Bombing Oil Wells

Syrian Diplomat Accuses US-led Coalition Of Bombing Oil Wells

Jet fighter

The U.S.-led coalition is deliberately bombing oil wells in Syria to punish Damascus and make it pay millions of dollars to restore work at those fields, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told Russian news outlet Sputnik on Wednesday.

“They made it necessary to spend tens of millions of dollars to resume work at these [oil] fields,” Mekdad was quoted as saying by the Russian outlet.

Russia and Iran support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the complex Syrian conflict, which is now in its eighth year.

Heightened tensions in Syria last month highlighted the geopolitical risk premium in oil prices and started the oil price rally which has continued this month with the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. The increased probability of open conflicts in the Middle East as local players and global powers vie for influence has stoked fears over losses of crude oil supply from the key oil export region in the world.

Syria is not a major oil producer, but its strategic position in the Middle East and the various proxy conflicts within its territory add additional geopolitical risk premium to oil prices when tension escalates.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that Iran withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria, end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.

“Whether Iranian forces or Hezbollah withdraw or stay in Syria is not up for discussion because it’s the (business) of the Syrian government,” Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV quoted Syria’s Mekdad as saying on Wednesday.

“The U.S. is no longer the indispensable nation in the Middle East — it’s Russia. Putin has more control in this powder keg than American experts like to admit,” Sean McFate, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, wrote in a commentary for CNBC this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

Zionist Terrorist Air Force Warns Syrian Govt. NOT TO DEFEND ITSELF Against IDF Attacks

[SEE: Israel Becomes “Al-Qaeda’s Air Force” In Syria–Joins Arab Coalition, Then Bombs Syrian Govt. Targets]

A senior Israeli Air Force officer has said that his country’s military aircraft will continue to operate in Syrian airspace for as long as is deemed necessary.

“We’re not doing this because we’re aggressive, but because we constantly have to be actively defending the state of Israel,” the senior officer said, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity on Wednesday.

“This is the only thing preventing offensive measures by Iran,” he added.

The officer also warned Syria not to use its air defenses against Israeli warplanes. “All batteries that fire on Israeli aircraft will be destroyed. All batteries that do not fire on us will not be destroyed,” he said, noting that “this policy will continue.”

On Tuesday, the commander of the Israeli Air Force declared that Israel had become the first country in the world to use its US-made F-35 fifth-gen stealth fighter in combat.

“We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East and have already attacked twice on two different fronts,” Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin was quoted as saying by Israeli media.

Syrian-Israeli relations were brought to a boiling point earlier this month after the Israeli Air Force hit what it said were Iranian targets in Syria, following an alleged rocket attack against Israeli military positions in the occupied Golan Heights.

Earlier this year, Israeli jets repeatedly struck Syria’s T-4 air base, which Tel Aviv claimed contained “Iranian bases in Syria.”

On Wednesday, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad told Sputnik that the possibility of withdrawing Iranian military advisers and Hezbollah militia was “not even on the agenda of discussion, since it concerns the sovereignty of Syria.”

The Israeli Air Force has regularly violated Syrian airspace throughout the course of the Syrian civil war. Damascus has called these incursions acts of aggression and vowed to continue to “repel any aggression against Syria, regardless where it will take place.”

Source: Sputnik

 

8 Women Accuse the Actor Who Likes To Play God of Sexual Harassment…Morgan, Your Number Is Up

[SEE: Old Obama/God Impersonator Blames Lying National Media and Corrupt American Politics On Putin]

Morgan Freeman Accused of Sexual Harassment by Eight Women, Including Entertainment Journalists

Production workers and entertainment journalists allege Freeman would comment on their bodies and make inappropriate gestures and comments on set and during press interviews.

Morgan Freeman2018 PEN Literary Gala, New York, USA - 22 May 2018

Morgan Freeman

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Morgan Freeman has been accused of sexual harassment by eight women in a new exposé published by CNN. The women include production assistants and workers who interacted with Freeman on movie sets and entertainment journalists, including CNN’s own reporter Chloe Melas and a journalist from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

CNN’s report begins with an accusation from a production assistant on the 2015 movie “Going In Style,” a heist comedy starring Freeman opposite Michael Caine and Alan Arkin. The woman alleges Freeman subjected her to unwanted touching and comments on her clothing and body. She says Freeman would put his hand on her lower back and rub it around, and in one instance kept trying to lift up her skirt while asking if she was wearing underwear. The woman says she blocked Freeman’s multiple attempts to lift her skirt up.

A senior member of the production staff on the 2012 magician thriller “Now You See Me” also alleges Freeman sexually harassed her and her female assistant multiple times. Similar to the “Going In Style” worker, the woman says Freeman would make comments about their bodies on a daily basis.

“He did comment on our bodies,” the “Now You See Me” staff member said. “We knew that if he was coming by not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted.”

Overall, eight women spoke to CNN and said they were victims of Freeman’s harassment. The women said they did not report the actor’s inappropriate behavior because they feared doing so would cost them their jobs. Of the eight women who came forward, three are entertainment journalists who claim Freeman made sexual remarks to them during press junkets. CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas alleges Freeman harassed her during the “Going In Style” press junket.

According to Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, Freeman shook her hand, looked her up and down, and said variations of the line, “I wish I was there.” The report also claims Freeman said to her, “You are ripe.” CNN reports cameras recording the junket picked up Freeman saying, “Boy, do I wish I was there.” Melas reported Freeman’s behavior to CNN’s own Human Resources department, who reached out to Warner Bros. When contacted, Warner Bros. HR said they couldn’t corroborate the story.

Another journalist accusing Freeman of harassment is a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The unnamed woman said Freeman made comments about her legs and her skirt during two different press junkets. The report told CNN she wanted to remain anonymous as to not risk losing out on future interviews with other celebrities.

“I was just trying to do my job and I brushed it off,” the reporter said. “You don’t want to put him on the spot because one, he’s famous and two, it’s on camera and three, you just want to do your job.”

IndieWire has reached out to Freeman’s representative for comment. You can read CNN’s full report on the sexual harassment allegations facing Freeman here.

 

US Fights Pakistani Efforts To Sanction Dead? Terrorist Leader Khorasani, But It Offers Reward For His Arrest

[The fact that deceased Pakistani terrorist (according to all Western sources) Omer Khalid Khurasani is somehow back in the news is proof of Pentagon/CIA power to control the news.  This is just the latest case of American/Israeli psy-warriors using Islamist terrorists to shape or suppress truth, in order to control the global conversation. 

From the time of his alleged assassination on October 19, 2017, until now, it was more convenient for the Pentagon that the alleged ISIS in Afghanistan leader Khorasani be considered dead.  Since March 8, Wali has been featured on the US Rewards For Justice site.  Despite that, the US State Dept. blocked a Pakistani UN measure before the Security Council to sanction the Pakistani terrorist…Why? Wali’s case is unique in that he was first declared dead by the US STATE DEPT., before they declared him alive, and wanted, by them.  It is pretty obvious, because of this incident of US GOVT alchemy, raising a terrorist leader from the dead, that something big is planned around the media image of Omar Khorasani (US Secy of state Pompeo seeks crackdown on terrorist safe havens in Pakistan)  The Pentagon is obviously planning to dominate the joint Afghan/Pakistani agreement for joint action against terrorist havens, meaning Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, the locus of JuA and TTP, as well as designated hideouts in Pakistan.   

Before the alleged killing and resurrection of Pakistani journalist turned terrorist, Abdul Wali (Khorasani), there have been multiple cases of U.S. spokesmen declaring individual terrorists as drone kills, only to have the alleged victims show-up alive later (SEE partial list below–ed.).]

Another “Zombie” Terrorist Leader Comes Back from the Dead–This One In Pakistan

ISI Needs New Phantom Terror Leader to Chase–Qari Zafar, Back From the Dead

Killed, Then Rekilled, Then Killed Again–the truth about OBAMA’S MURDER BY DRONE IN YEMEN

US Claims, Once Again, Drone Kill of Leader of Afghan ISIS

LeJ Announces That Resurrected Terrorist Mastermind Qari Zafar Has Been Killed Again–(Last Killed In February)

Chad Claims It Has Killed “Al-CIA-da” Mastermind of Cigarette Smuggling

 

Pakistan claims US has blocked UN sanctions on JuA leader Khurasani

The Pakistani officials have claimed that the United States has blocked the UN sanctions on Jamaat-u-Ahrr (JuA) leader Umer Khalid Khurasani after it was revealed that the Pakistan had included Khurasani’s location as Afghanistan in its application to the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee, it has been reported.

Senior diplomatic sources have told Dawn News that the Foreign Office has informally learnt that the process has been held up because of an objection by the United States.

The sources have further added that the US objected to Pakistani request for Khurasani’s listing because of his location that has been mentioned as Afghanistan.

“The Americans inject politics into the sanctions regime and practice double standards. They are not listing the leader of a terrorist entity who is targeting Pakistan. Merely because he is operating from Afghanistan,” a Pakistani official has told Dawn News.

This comes as relations between Islamabad and Washignton remains strained following the announcement of the new US strategy for South Asia by US President Donald Trump last year.

President Trump had slammed Islamabad for remaining short to act against the terrorist and militant groups using its soil to plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

The Afghan and US officials believe that the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network still have safe havens in Pakistan from where they plan attacks in Afghanistan, a claim which has repeatedly been rejected by Islamabad.

 

March 8, 2018

Wanted

Information that brings to justice…

Abdul Wali

Up to $3 Million Reward

Abdul Wali is the leader of Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA), a militant faction affiliated with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). He reportedly operates from Afghanistan’s Nangarhar and Kunar Provinces.

Under Wali’s leadership, JuA has been one of the most operationally active TTP networks in Punjab Province and has claimed multiple suicide bombings and other attacks throughout Pakistan.

In March 2016, JuA conducted a suicide bombing at a public park in Lahore, Pakistan that killed 75 people and injured 340.

In August 2015, JuA claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Punjab that killed Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada and 18 of his supporters.

Wali is also known as Omar Khalid Khorasani. He was born in Mohmand Agency, Pakistan and is believed to be in his late-thirties. He is a former journalist and poet and studied at a number of madrasas in Karachi.

 

Saudi Expat Dissidents Talking Revolution Against Riyadh’s Royal Fascists

ANALYSIS: Saudis attack Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula is on the rise and has over 4,000 fighters despite a massive US-led crackdown.

Editor: Yochanan Visser

 

Mohammed Bin Salman

Mohammed Bin Salman  Reuters

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) should be removed from power, says Prince Khaled bin Farhan, a distant member of the royal family who lives in exile since 2013.

Bin Farhan, a former Saudi interior minister who lives in Germany today, says MBS and his ailing father King Salman have caused damage to the Saudi royal family beyond “the point of no return.”

The dissident prince claims there is a lot of resentment within the Saudi royal family after MBS arrested and detained prominent members of the House of Saud during a nationwide purge last year and robbed them of a part of their fortunes which the Crown Prince said were obtained by corruption.

“It was a shock for the entire family because prominent figures in the family were detained in a way that held a great deal of humiliation. It was a shock for the entire family. The family is now facing the undermining of its standing in the eyes of the people. And this will inevitably undermine its legitimacy,” Bin Farhan told The Middle East Eye news site.

The former Saudi politician, who admits he has a personal grudge against King Salman and his son Mohammed, also claimed MBS has developed “psychological problems”.

MBS has introduced sweeping reforms in the oil-rich kingdom including an overhaul of the religious education system and recently spent a month in the United Kingdom and the U.S. where he met with Jewish leaders.

During his visit to the U.S. MBS also met with Trump’s Jewish Mideast peace team Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt who are working with him on a comprehensive proposal to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

MBS was harshly criticized for his tour through the U.S. and his meetings with prominent Jews there – and not only by Al-Jazeera.

Al-Qaeda’s possible future leader Hamza Bin Laden, a son of Osama Bin Laden’s third wife Khairah Sabar, whose ancestry dates back to the Prophet Mohammed, labeled the current leadership in Saudi Arabia “agents of the Americans” and called for a revolt in Saudi Arabia.

After 9/11, Hamza Bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda operatives fled to Iran where he was educated in the spirit of his father Osama, killed by U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

In 2015, Hamza was introduced by current Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to the mastermind of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001.

Al-Zawahire called Hamza the “lion of the den,” after which the son of Osama swore to follow in the footsteps of his father and said there is no way to free al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem) “except by jihad in the name of Allah.”

The new Al-Qaeda leader later shifted his focus toward Saudi Arabia,where MBS announced his sweeping reforms. Hamza bin Laden released six anti-regime videos in which he promised he would lead Saudi Arabia to a “return of the Islamic Ummah (nation) to its glory.”

Al Qaeda’s bulletin Al-Nafir, meanwhile attacked MBS for introducing “American Islam” and for working with the “Crusader West” after the Crown Prince had said Saudis would not “waste 30 years of our lives dealing with extremist ideas.”

“We will destroy them today,” MBS said during his US tour about the Islamist ideology Wahhabism and promised Saudi Arabia would become a “normal country” again.

Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula is again on the rise and has today over 4,000 fighters despite a massive US-led crackdown on the group in Yemen.

The organization also has the support of a significant minority of the Saudi population.

A poll held in 2015 revealed that 28 percent of Saudi citizens think that groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda are “mostly wrong, but sometimes raise issues I agree with.”

Ten percent of the Saudis thought ISIS and Al Qaeda weren’t perversions of Islam at all.

Al-Qaeda is already active in Saudi Arabia and could have been involved in a mysterious attack on the royal palace in Riyadh on April 21.

The Iranian newspaper Keyhan, which is considered as the mouthpiece of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, even reported MBS could have been killed during the attack which involved heavy shooting.

The Saudi Crown Prince has not been seen in public since and also didn’t attend a cadets graduation ceremony in King Abdulaziz military college last Saturday night.

MBS holds the defense portfolio in Saudi Arabia. so his presence at the ceremony would have been natural, according to Fars News in Iran.

In an apparent attempt to refute the Iranian reports, Saudi officials on Sunday released a photograph showing MBS together with Egyptian president el-Sisi and the leaders of Abu Dhabi and Bahrain after a meeting in Egypt last week.

It is obvious, however, that MBS’ agenda of modernization in Saudi Arabia and his radically different approach to the Palestinian Israeli conflict has already made him a good many enemies and could lead to the come-back of Al-Qaeda.

Assad’s Army Is Holding 300 French Military +100s of Assorted Western Intel Officers

Syrian government army and militia fight for Palmyra

‘Trump Card’: Syrian Army Has Detained 300 French Military – Analyst

© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy

Sputnik has discussed the foreign military presence in Syria with Akram al Shalli, an expert from the Syrian Crises and Preventive Wars Office.

“Vladimir Putin’s statement during a meeting with Bashar Assad about the need to withdraw foreign contingents from Syria breaks the dreams of the aggressors, as if they could still try to accomplish their goals in the region by proxy criminal mercenaries,” Shalli told Sputnik.

Al Shalli went on to say that the Syrian army had detained hundreds of foreign intelligence officers, including from the United States, the United Kingdom, Arab states and Israel.

“For example, there are about 300 only French soldiers of different ranks. We see attempts to pressure the Syrian government to free the captive foreign soldiers. But these dreams are not destined to come true, because now the odds are in favor of the government’s forces and its allies,” he stressed.

The analyst has also touched upon the latest missile strikes by the US, France and the UK against Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by government forces in the city of Douma last month.

“Even the latest missile strike on Syria did not cause significant damage; the aggressors had reported the targets of the attack in advance. This was done so that the Western leaders could save face to their people,” the analyst said.

According to Shalli, the detention of foreign military officers gives a double advantage to the Syrian government: firstly, they failed to implement their goals, and secondly, it is an additional trump card at the negotiating table with foreign forces.

“The Syrian peace settlement directly depends on the situation on the battlefield. And now the aggressors are constantly retreating, they are unable to launch any offensive on the army’s position. Therefore, the Syrian government can set forward its terms,” the analyst concluded.

The US-led international coalition has been conducting airstrikes against Daesh* targets in Syria since 2014 without a UN mandate or authorization from the Damascus government.

READ MORE: French Troops Providing Artillery Support to Kurdish Militia in Syria — Reports

The US and France have reportedly enhanced their military presence in the war-ravaged country, with Paris in turn having promised support for the Kurdish militia, pressured by Turkish forces. The Syrian government has repeatedly stated that the coalition and Turkish forces in the country are “illegitimate” and has demanded that “invading forces withdraw immediately from the Syrian lands they have occupied.”

Instead, in early May, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced new operations to come, in addition to the Euphrates Shield, its first direct military intervention in Syria to push Daesh away from the Turkish border, as well as prevent the advance of local Kurdish groups, and Operation Olive Branch in the city of Afrin to clear Turkey’s Syrian border of Kurdish groups, which it believes are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara.On May 20, the Anadolu news agency reported that French special forces had installed six artillery batteries north of the Baguz village in Deir ez-Zor privince, held by Kurdish militia in line with President Emmanuel Macron’s earlier promise to support the Syrian Kurdish units.

READ MORE: Syrian Opposition Hails Statement on Foreign Troops’ Withdrawal From Syria

The United States has also repeatedly been reported to have dispatched military columns and set up new bases in Syria shortly after President Donald Trump declared that the American forces would be leaving Syria “very soon” and “let other people take care of it” instead. His remarks contradicted earlier comments made by high-ranking officials at the Pentagon and State Department, claiming that US troops would maintain an open-ended presence in Syria.

It Was Our Israeli “Allies” Who Helped Trump Hijack the 2016 US Elections

Russiagate Flopped but Now Comes the Real Scandal: “Israeli-Saudi-Emirati Gate”

Donald Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr. may soon be questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller over a possible conspiracy to collude with foreign entities in order to meddle in the 2016 US Presidential election which his father ultimately won.

While Mueller’s initial duty was to attempt and find collusion between the Trump campaign and entities from Russia, thus far the only evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was when the current US President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner ordered disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to essentially beg then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to delay a UN vote so that the incoming Trump administration could vote at the UN in favour of “Israel”. As it were, Russia did not take the bait and the lame duck Obama administration cast a vote in favour of the Palestinian position.

In this sense, what was supposed to be “Russiagate” turned out to be “Israelgate” as the Trump campaign lobbied foreign governments, including Russia on behalf of a foreign power which happened to be the Tel Aviv regime. Here Russia was the victim rather than a co-conspirator. 

Far from the US mainstream media picking up on this treacherous scandal among the Trump family, when a duel US-“Israeli” billionaire Haim Saban praised Kushner for colluding with a foreign regime and implying that he didn’t care whether or not Kushner broke US law, the media went silent.

Now though, it would appear that the Trump family’s collusion with foreign regimes in the alleged procurement of election meddling goes much deeper than that. A new report which first appeared in the New York Times suggests that Donald Trump Jr. met with men from Saudi Arabia, “Israel” and the United Arab Emirates in 2016 where the subject of online perception manipulation was the main topic of discussion. According to the New York Times report,

“Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor.

The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.

Erik Prince, the private security contractor and the former head of Blackwater, arranged the meeting, which took place on Aug. 3, 2016. The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president. The social media specialist, Joel Zamel [a high level “Israeli political media specialist], extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign; by that time, the firm had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.

The company, which employed several Israeli former intelligence officers, specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media….

...After Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Nader paid Mr. Zamel a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million. There are conflicting accounts of the reason for the payment, but among other things, a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.

The meetings, which have not been reported previously, are the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign in the months before the presidential election. The interactions are a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, who was originally tasked with examining possible Trump campaign coordination with Russia in the election”

This would indicate the strong possibility of collusion with an “Israeli” expert in the kind of things that the disgraced and now closed company Cambridge Analytica did – namely to use psychological manipulation techniques to brainwash US voters into voting for Trump. The report also implies that implicit in the alleged deal was that the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan would offer their backing for Donald Trump once the previously undisclosed alleged deal was sealed.

A lawyer representing Trump Jr. has admitted that such a meeting took place but has denied that any deals took place. According to attorney Alan Futerfas,

“Prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it”.

It is now imperative that Robert Mueller investigates the contents and possible outcomes of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with the foreign officials in question and to then make a determination about what kind of deal, if any was made.

What is already abundantly clear is that there are two parallel scandals occurring in the United States at the moment. The first is a fake Russiagate scandal that is based around falsehoods, conjecture and wishful thinking on the part of the US mainstream media establishment which seeks to both undermine Donald Trump’s administration as well as to undermine the increasingly remote prospect of even a minor rapprochement between the US and Russia. Such a prospect was unlikely in the first place due to overriding geopolitical disagreements, but now such a reality is almost impossible.

The second scandal and in many ways the more important scandal is that it remains clear that members of the Trump campaign team, including Donald Trump’s family members met with multiple high level representatives of foreign regimes. In the course of this meetings, it has already been established that Jared Kushner conspired with the “Israeli” regime to undermine the independence of the United Nations and now there appears to be a high likelihood that Donald Trump Jr. conspired with an “Israeli” psychological warfare expert as well as representatives of the Saudi and Emirati regimes.

This second scandal could prove that there was indeed illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and foreign agents during the course of the 2016 US Presidential election. Thus, the mainstream media are correct to point out the possibility of foreign collusion in the Trump campaign, but they are wrong in pointing to Russia. The reality is that the Trump family conspired with other regimes whose foreign policies are far less benign than that of the Russian Federation.

US Sanctions On Iran Threaten Vital Indian-Afghanistan-Iranian Chabahar Project

US Sanctions On Iran Threaten Vital India-Afghanistan Chabahar Project

Chabahar is among a number of projects of transport and energy networks projects designed to boost Afghanistan’s trade.

US Sanctions On Iran Threaten Vital India-Afghanistan Chabahar Project

India has pledged more than $500 million to develop the strategically located port of Chabahar.

WASHINGTON/KABUL:  US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord and re-impose sanctions on Tehran threatens to derail a project to help build Afghanistan’s economy, endangering a key goal of the US strategy to end America’s longest war.

The Chabahar port, which India is developing with a $500 million commitment, is being developed as part of a new transportation corridor for land-locked Afghanistan that could potentially open the way for millions of dollars in trade and cut its dependence on Pakistan.

Building Afghanistan’s economy would also slash Kabul’s dependence on foreign aid and put a major dent in the illicit opium trade, the Taliban’s main revenue source.

But Trump’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran and penalise financial institutions for doing business with Tehran is clouding Chabahar’s viability as banks, nervous they could be hit with crippling penalties, pull back from financing.

“President Trump’s decision has brought us back to the drawing board and we will have to renegotiate terms and conditions on using Chabahar,” a senior Indian diplomat said. “It is a route that can change the way India-Iran-Afghanistan do business, but for now everything is in a state of uncertainty.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Launched in 2016, the joint Iran-India-Afghanistan Chabahar project already was facing holdups. It has yet to see significant traffic apart from some containers of donated wheat from India, and the first shipments of Afghan dried fruit to India are not expected before July.

At least three contracts to build infrastructure at the port now have been delayed, with two Chinese companies and a Finnish group left hanging while bankers seek clarity from Washington before approving guarantees, a person close to the project said.

chabahar port iran india website

India is developing the Chabahar port with a $500 million commitment.

In addition, Afghan traders, who were hoping for an alternative to Pakistan’s port of Karachi, now find themselves cut off from funding and forced to rely on the traditional hawala money transfer system, which is insufficient on its own to transform an economy. Hawala is a trust-based system commonly used in Afghanistan that involves the movement of funds between agents in different countries.

“We know our correspondent banks would not let us pay for imports coming through that port,” said a senior executive at one major Afghan lender.

Chabahar is among a number of projects of transport and energy networks projects designed to boost Afghanistan’s trade and lay the foundations for a mining industry capable of exploiting its billions of dollars in untapped mineral reserves.

Bypassing the border with Pakistan, which last year was closed for some 50 days over various disputes, Chabahar is seen as a way for Afghanistan to consolidate its relationships with India and other regional powers.

“The only way to get India more involved” in Afghanistan’s economic development “is through Chabahar,” said Barnett Rubin, an expert with New York University’s Center for International Cooperation and a former adviser to the State Department and the United Nations. “Our Iran policy is headed for a train wreck with our Afghanistan policy.”

FOREIGN AID

Some 17 years after the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban from power, Afghanistan remains one of the world’s poorest countries, highly dependent on foreign aid.

Apart from illegal opium exports estimated at some $2 billion by the International Monetary Fund, its main products are dried and fresh fruits, and carpets, none of which amount to more than a fraction of the value of the drugs trade.

Initially Afghanistan would export agricultural produce – such as pomegranates and grapes – through Chabahar, utilizing a section of a road India paid for and then an extension to the Iranian border that New Delhi built, experts said.

Eventually, those exports could expand to mineral resources, something Trump has expressed an interest in gaining for U.S. firms.

For India, this would mean using a planned railroad to Chabahar to export iron ore from two tracts at the Hajigak iron mine in central Afghanistan that it won the rights to exploit, the experts said.

“The economic piece is really important to get a glimmer of hope for Afghanistan to move beyond a land-locked, poppy-based economy. We are now shooting that in the head,” said Thomas Lynch, a National Defense University expert and a former U.S. Army officer who advised the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on South Asia policy.

“There is no other legitimate and reliable way to do that. You can’t do it by air, you can’t do it through Pakistan because they just extort for everything they do,” said Lynch. “The lifeline runs through Chabahar.”

In addition, by hindering the development of Chabahar, the US will leave Afghanistan dependent on Pakistan, historically its main trade partner and outlet to the world.

That would undermine another Trump goal of pressuring Islamabad to shutter Afghan insurgent sanctuaries on its side of the border and force the terrorists into peace talks.

Afghan officials have lobbied hard for exemptions to the sanctions for Afghan companies operating though Chabahar without success and are waiting for clarity from Washington.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

U.S. Sells Thousands of Really Big Bombs To Tiny “Piss Ant” Excuse For A Real Country, Bahrain…(for protestors or Iranians?)

US approves $45mn sale of 3,200 bombs & bunker busters to Bahrain

US approves $45mn sale of 3,200 bombs & bunker busters to Bahrain
The US has cleared the sale of 3,200 bombs valued at about $45 million, including powerful bunker busters, to Bahrain. The Persian Gulf monarchy is hosting the US 5th Fleet and has been involved in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen.

The order would consist of 1,500 Mark-82 [500 pounds] general purpose bombs; 600 Mark-83 [1,000 lb] bombs; 600 Mark-84 [ 2,000 lb ] bombs; and 500 BLU-109 [2,000 lb. Penetrator] “bunker busters,”  bombs armed with special warheads designed to penetrate hardened targets, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on Friday.

The ordnance is intended for Bahrain’s US-made F-16 combat jets, and would come directly from US government stocks. Bahrain “will use these munitions as a deterrent to regional threats, strengthen its homeland defense, and execute counter-terrorism operations,” the agency said, as well as “operate with US-led and US-supported coalition operations.”

It was not immediately clear where the US-supplied bombs might be used, and against whom. Bahrain is part of both the US-led coalition fighting against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and the Saudi-led coalition that has fought in Yemen since 2015. As only a handful of IS-held pockets remain in the desert of eastern Syria, it is far more likely the US-supplied bombs will be used in Yemen.

The US does not track whether ordnance it supplies to the Saudis and their allies is used in Yemen, often against civilian targets.

Human rights activists in the US have also condemned Washington for its support for the gulf monarchy, citing its record of suppressing dissidents. In 2011, when Shia Muslims of Bahrain organized protests inspired by “Arab spring” events in Tunisia and Egypt, the monarchy cracked down on them with the help of the Saudi military. Washington has not raised objections to the crackdown, as Bahrain is the home base of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

In March, the US announced it would sell $1 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including $670 million worth of anti-tank missiles, after the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), lifted an eight-month moratorium on arms sales to Gulf Cooperation Council states.

The State Department is required by law to notify Congress of any arms sales approvals. The final sale has to be cleared by the Senate.

China Set To Launch World’s First and Only Communication Satellite Into Stationary Orbit On Moon’s Dark Side

China Launching Relay Satellite Toward Moon’s Far Side Sunday

 

An artist’s illustration of China’s Queqiao relay satellite, which will relay data between controllers on Earth and China’s Chang’e 4 lander-rover pair on the moon’s far side. Queqiao is scheduled to launch on May 20, 2018; the Chang’e 4 duo will lift off in November or December.

Credit: CNSA

China will launch the next piece of its ambitious robotic lunar-exploration program on Sunday (May 20), if all goes according to plan.

The nation’s Queqiao relay satellite is scheduled to lift off atop a Long March 4C rocket on Sunday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province at about 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT; 5 a.m. on May 21 local Xichang time).

Queqiao will then make its way to the Earth-moon Lagrange point 2, a gravitationally stable spot located 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the lunar far side. From that perch, Queqiao will relay signals and data between Earth and China’s pioneering Chang’e 4 lander-rover duo. That pair will launch late this year and attempt to become the first spacecraft ever to land on the far side of the moon. [China’s Moon Missions Explained (Infographic)]

The moon is tidally locked to Earth, meaning it always shows the same face (the near side) to our planet. So, a relay link is necessary to communicate with spacecraft on the far side, which would otherwise have to send their signals through the moon’s rocky bulk.

Queqiao will also carry an astronomy experiment called the Netherlands-China Low-Frequency Explorer, which will search for radio signals from the universe’s very early days and characterize the solar wind near the moon, among other work. And Queqiao won’t launch alone; the Long March 4C will also loft two small satellites called Longjiang-1 and Longjiang-2, which will perform radio-astronomy research of their own.

The Chang’e program has already achieved a string of successes. The Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 probes reached lunar orbit in 2007 and 2010, respectively, and the Chang’e 3 mission put a lander and rover on the moon’s near side in late 2013. The next year, China launched Chang’e 5 T1, a mission that sent a sample-return capsule around the moon and back to Earth to demonstrate the technology needed to survive a fiery atmospheric entry. China plans to launch a bona-fide lunar sample-return mission, called Chang’e 5, in 2019.

The nation also aims to put people on the lunar surface before the end of the 2030s, Chinese officials have said.

The Chang’e program was named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, and “Queqiao” means “bridge of magpies.” This latter moniker comes from a Chinese folktale. In the story, as China’s state-run Xinhua news service explained last month, “magpies form a bridge with their wings on the seventh night of the seventh month of the lunar calendar to enable Zhi Nu, the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, to cross and meet her beloved husband, separated from her by the Milky Way.”

“Longjiang,” by the way, means “dragon river.” This is apparently a nod to the small satellites’ home base; they were developed by the Harbin Institute of Technology, which is located in Heilongjiang Province. “Heilongjiang” means “black dragon river”; it’s the Chinese name for the big, powerful river that Russians call the Amur, which forms part of the border between Russia and China.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

Google News Has Destroyed Their Own News Website

[I have used the Google News aggregator since 2008, searching for content for the ThereAreNoSunglasses website, but apparently, that will no longer be possible. 

Until now, Google allowed you to arrange a custom website, to search for the topics you prescribe. 

Until now, I searched the Worldwide Web for news on 20 topics, which I would change as needed, whenever news topics went cold…

 

BEFORE (sample): 

 

NOW:

WE SHOULD ALL EXPECT OUR ALTERNATIVE NEWS SITES WILL DRY-UP IN THE NEAR FUTURE.]

Israelis Must Begin By Acknowledging “the Nakba”, If Any of Them Really Think About Peace

Peace begins with Israel ending the Nakba

On Monday, the Trump administration broke with more than 70 years of official US policy and the position of the international community by moving its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As if to rub salt in their wounds, it was be inaugurated the day before Palestinians commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (the Catastrophe), when nearly a million Palestinians were displaced and became refugees during Israel’s establishment. In Israel, the Nakba is not only ignored, it is outright denied or even justified. Yet if there is to be peace in this region – and I think it is possible – it begins with acknowledging the Nakba, understanding it, and working to reverse it.

Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, which saw the transformation of half of Palestine’s population into stateless refugees, is not a mere historic event: it has persisted unabated until today.  Since 1967, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were either expelled from or denied re-entry when they traveled outside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, inside Israel’s recognized borders, its policy of “Judaizing” the south and north of the country often result in a quiet transfer of Palestinians through expropriation of land and demolition of villages, as is occurring in Umm al-Hiran today, where an entire Palestinian community is being destroyed so a town for Jewish Israelis can be built in its place.

Today more than six million Palestinians are homeless due to the 1948 Nakba and its subsequent chapters. Failing to acknowledge their rights will not only lead to continued instability in the region but also prevents any lasting peace. By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, President Trump is encouraging Israel to accelerate its dispossession of Palestinians in the city and elsewhere.

Only by revisiting the events of 1948 can one understand the essence of the conflict in Israel and Palestine, as well as the reasons for the failure to solve it. Even if there are still today, despite the clear archival evidence, people who refuse to acknowledge Israel’s responsibility for the catastrophe – the demolition of half of Palestine’s towns and villages and the exodus of 750,000 people – no one denies that the refugees were not allowed to return (in clear violation of the UN decisions and the international law).

The reasons for the expulsion and for the refusal to allow repatriation are the same. From the very onset of the Zionist project in Palestine, the main obstacle for the establishment of the Jewish state was the native population of Palestine. This still remains the problem for Israelis who regard themselves as Zionists, whether they are liberals, socialists or nationalists. The various political groups in Israel differ on the tactics of how to overcome the demographic reality of an Arab Palestinian country. They nonetheless concur on viewing the native Palestinians as a demographic existential threat simply because they are not Jewish.

The Palestinian leadership since the 1980s was willing to compromise on the territorial configuration of Israel, but could never, and will never, lend its consent to the overall Judaization of its homeland. Israeli laws that forbid Palestinians in Israel from commemorating the Nakba, Israeli demands that the Palestinians agree to recognize Israel as a “Jewish State,” – despite the fact that more than 20% of its population is Palestinian – are an insult added to an injury.  Israel is an established fact, but so are the circumstances of its establishment on the ruins of Palestine. For Palestinians territorial compromise does not include a license for a global amnesia or the acceptance of Israeli historical fabrications.

The Nakba defines many of the Palestinians who have been totally excluded by the “peace process”. This is particularly true about the younger generations. Whether in Israel, in the refugee camps or in the exile communities around the world, through cyberspace and actual meetings, these young Palestinians are creating a new vision for Palestine. While it is still not complete or articulated as a political program, it has a striking pair of messages:  a solution for Palestine has to include all Palestinians and cover all historical Palestine, and it has to rectify the worst consequence of the Nakba by implementing the Right of Return.

The Great Return march in Gaza, which was initiated and led by young people, has generated much excitement and enthusiasm. Many others are engaged in oral history projects, interviewing their grandparents and elders about the horrors of 1948, building models of villages and neighborhoods that were destroyed and imagining how the reconstructed ones would look like after they are finally allowed to return home.

American peacemakers, whether cynical or genuine in their efforts, have consistently failed to understand the essence of the conflict in Palestine. If they ever want to solve it, they need to revisit the dispossession of Palestinians that occurred in 1948 and understand its significance and the fact that 70 years later, Israel continues to systematically displace Palestinians from their homes.

With the collapse of the two-state solution, addressing the Nakba and events of 1948 should become the focus of a peace agenda. This is the original sin of the conflict in Israel/Palestine and it must be dealt with in an honest and just manner if we are ever to move forward.

And we should let this young generation lead us on that path. For them, rectifying what happened in 1948 and subsequently is an issue of human and civil rights and not of retribution, and their vision of the future is of a place where normal human life can be resumed, where it was denied for the last seventy years.

About Ilan Pappé

Professor Ilan Pappé is the Director of the European Center for Palestine Studies in University of Exeter and the author of 15 books among them The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2007), A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (2006), The War on Gaza (with Noam Chomsky) (2010) and his latest book in 2014 The Idea of Israel.

 

British Propaganda and Disinformation–An Imperial and Colonial Tradition

British Propaganda and Disinformation: An Imperial and Colonial Tradition

British Propaganda and Disinformation: An Imperial and Colonial Tradition

 

Wayne MADSEN

When it comes to creating bogus news stories and advancing false narratives, the British intelligence services have few peers.

In fact, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6) has led the way for its American “cousins” and Britain’s Commonwealth partners – from Canada and Australia to India and Malaysia – in the dark art of spreading falsehoods as truths. Recently, the world has witnessed such MI-6 subterfuge in news stories alleging that Russia carried out a novichok nerve agent attack against a Russian émigré and his daughter in Salisbury, England. This propaganda barrage was quickly followed by yet another – the latest in a series of similar fabrications – alleging the Syrian government attacked civilians in Douma, outside of Damascus, with chemical weapons.

It should come as no surprise that American news networks rely on British correspondents stationed in northern Syria and Beirut as their primary sources. MI-6 has historically relied on non-official cover (NOC) agents masquerading primarily as journalists, but also humanitarian aid workers, Church of England clerics, international bankers, and hotel managers, to carry out propaganda tasks. These NOCs are situated in positions where they can promulgate British government disinformation to unsuspecting actual journalists and diplomats.

For decades, a little-known section of the British Foreign Office – the Information Research Department (IRD) – carried out propaganda campaigns using the international media as its platform on behalf of MI-6. Years before Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir became targets for Western destabilization and “regime change.” IRD and its associates at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and in the newsrooms and editorial offices of Fleet Street broadsheets, tabloids, wire services, and magazines, particularly “The Daily Telegraph,” “The Times,” “Financial Times,” Reuters, “The Guardian,” and “The Economist,” ran media smear campaigns against a number of leaders considered to be leftists, communists, or FTs (fellow travelers).

These leaders included Indonesia’s President Sukarno, North Korean leader (and grandfather of Pyongyang’s present leader) Kim Il-Sung, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Cyprus’s Archbishop Makarios, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Chile’s Salvador Allende, British Guiana’s Cheddi Jagan, Grenada’s Maurice Bishop, Jamaica’s Michael Manley, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Guinea’s Sekou Toure, Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara, Australia’s Gough Whitlam, New Zealand’s David Lange, Cambodia’s Norodom Sihanouk, Malta’s Dom Mintoff, Vanuatu’s Father Walter Lini, and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.

After the Cold War, this same propaganda operation took aim at Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Somalia’s Mohamad Farrah Aidid, and Haiti’s Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Today, it is Assad’s, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s, and Catalonian independence leader Carles Puigdemont’s turn to be in the Anglo-American state propaganda gunsights. Even Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, long a darling of the Western media and such propaganda moguls as George Soros, is now being targeted for Western visa bans and sanctions over the situation with Muslim Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine State.

Through IRD-MI-6-Central Intelligence Agency joint propaganda operations, many British journalists received payments, knowingly or unknowingly, from the CIA via a front in London called Forum World Features (FWF), owned by John Hay Whitney, publisher of the “New York Herald Tribune” and a former US ambassador to London. It is not a stretch to believe that similar and even more formal relationships exist today between US and British intelligence and so-called British “journalists” reporting from such war zones as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Gaza Strip, as well as from much-ballyhooed nerve agent attack locations as Salisbury, England.

No sooner had recent news reports started to emerge from Douma about a Syrian chlorine gas and sarin agent attack that killed between 40 to 70 civilians, British reporters in the Middle East and London began echoing verbatim statements from the Syrian “White Helmets” and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In actuality, the White Helmets – claimed by Western media to be civilian defense first-responders but are Islamist activists connected to jihadist radical groups funded by Saudi Arabia – are believed to have staged the chemical attack in Douma by entering the municipality’s hospital and dowsing patients with buckets of water, video cameras at the ready. The White Helmets distributed their videos to the global news media, with the BBC and Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News providing a British imprimatur to the propaganda campaign asserting that Assad carried out another “barrel bomb” chemical attack against “his own people.” And, as always, the MI-6 financed Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad news front claimed to be operated by a Syrian expatriate and British national named Rami Abdel Rahman from his clothing shop in Coventry, England, began providing second-sourcing for the White Helmet’s chemical attack claims.

With President Trump bringing more and more neo-conservatives, discredited from their massive anti-Iraq propaganda operations during the Bush-Cheney era, into his own administration, the world is witnessing the prolongation of the “Trump Doctrine.”

The Trump Doctrine can best be explained as follows: A nation will be subject to a US military attack depending on whether Trump is facing a severe political or sex scandal at home.

Such was the case in April 2017, when Trump ordered a cruise missile attack on the joint Syrian-Russian airbase at Shayrat, Syria. Trump was still reeling from the resignation of his National Security Adviser, Lt. General Michael Flynn, in February over the mixing of his private consulting business with his official White House duties. Trump needed a diversion and the false accusation that Assad used sarin gas on the village of Khan Sheikoun on April 4, 2017, provided the necessary pabulum for the war-hungry media.

The most recent cruise missile attack was to divert the public’s attention away from Trump’s personal attorney being raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a sex scandal involving Trump and a porn actress, and a “tell-all” book by Trump’s fired FBI director, James Comey.

Although these two scandals provided opportunities for the neo-cons to test Trump with false flag operations in Syria, they were not the first time such actions had been carried out. In 2013, the Syrian government was blamed for a similar chemical attack on civilians in Ghouta. That year, Syrian rebels, supported by the Central Intelligence Agency, admitted to the Associated Press reporter on the ground in Syria that they had been given banned chemical weapons by Saudi Arabia, but that the weapons canisters exploded after improper handling by the rebels. Immediately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian rebel organizations operating out of Turkey claimed that Assad had used chemical-laden barrel bombs on “his own people.” However, Turkish, American, and Lebanese sources confirmed that it was the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that had badly bungled a false flag sarin nerve agent attack on Ghouta.

Few Western media outlets were concerned about a March 19, 2013, sarin nerve agent by the Bashair al-Nasr Brigade rebel group linked to the US- and British-backed Free Syrian Army. The rebels used a “Bashair-3” unguided projectile, containing the deadly sarin agent, on civilians in Khan al-Assal, outside Aleppo. At least 27 civilians were killed, and scores of others injured in the attack. The Syrian Kurds also reported the use of chemical weapons on them during the same time frame by Syrian rebel groups backed by the United States, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. The usual propaganda operations – Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Doctors Without Borders, the BBC, CNN, and Sky News – were all silent about these attacks.

In 2013, April 2017, and April 2018, the Western media echo chamber blared out all the same talking points: “Assad killing his own people,” “Syrian weapons of mass destruction,” and the “mass murder of women and children.” Western news networks featured videos of dead women and children, while paid propagandists, known as “contributors” to corporate news networks – all having links to the military-intelligence complex – demanded action be taken against Assad.

Trump, now being advised by the notorious neocon war hawk John Bolton, the new National Security Adviser, began referring to Assad as an “animal” and a “monster.” Bolton, along with Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff Irving Lewis “Scooter” Libby, helped craft similar language against Saddam Hussein prior to the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was not coincidental that Trump – at the urging of Bolton and other neocons – gave a full pardon to Libby on the very same day he ordered the cruise missile attack on Damascus and other targets in Syria. Libby was convicted in 2005 of perjury and illegally disclosing national security information.

The world is being asked to take, at face value, the word of patented liars like Trump, Bolton, and other neocons who are now busy joining the Trump administration at breakneck speed. The corporate media unabashedly acts as though it never lied about the reasons given by the United States and Britain for going to war in Iraq and Libya. Why should anyone believe them now?

US hiding thousands of terrorists in Syria

US hiding thousands of terrorists in Syria

A Russian diplomat says the public won’t hear a peep from the US about the several thousand terrorists detained in Syria whom Washington would like to get off the hook

© EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

KERCH, May 16. /TASS/. The United States has remained mum about several thousand militant extremists detained in Syria whom Washington would like to let off scot-free, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

“We have taken note of the fact the US administration is keeping quiet about the several thousand foreign terrorists, who have been detained by the US-led coalition and the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in Transeuphratia,” she said. “The explanation that it is allegedly impossible to agree on extradition procedures and parameters of legal assistance with the countries of origin are totally far-fetched.”

“Apparently this legal vacuum is being created deliberately with the aim to conceal the real aim: to let the militants dodge responsibility. It is noteworthy that in defiance of complicity in terrorism no charges are put forward or investigative measures taken.”

Zakharova said Russia knew well the number of militants and the conditions in which they were being kept.

“According to our sources, there are two or three thousand militants, mostly from Europe, Arab countries and the CIS,” she said. “The so-called restrictive measures are confined to limiting the freedom of movement. They enjoy three meals a day, medical assistance and the opportunities for exercise to stay in good physical shape.”

Such actions by the United States and its allies in the region, Zakharova believes, are fraught with the re-emergence of the terrorist state in the region.

“In view of President Donald Trump’s announcement of the forthcoming US pullout from Syria there emerge high risks of a Caliphate’s re-emergence in Transeuphratia under the Iraqi type scenario we saw when after the successful withdrawal of the US contingent in 2011 entailed the emergence of the group Islamic State (outlawed in Russia – TASS), she said. “By refraining from criminal prosecution of the mentioned militants the US administration in fact covers up their criminal activity.”

Moscow, Zakharova said, insists on inevitable punishment for the terrorists detained by the United States and the coalition it leads.

“In this context we would like to focus attention on the principle of inevitability of punishment of the detained terrorists for the committed crimes in accordance with the extradite-or-put-on-trial principle,” Zakharova said. “We believe it is utterly impermissible to manipulate with anti-terrorist tasks for using double standards to attain geopolitical aims.”.

The Syrian Conflict Is A Distraction From A Secret War

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

Back in March 2010 I published an article titled ‘Will Globalists Trigger Yet Another World War?’under the pen name Giordano Bruno describing what I felt would be the most effective triggers for a new global conflict. In that article I pointed to Syria as the primary powder keg, followed in close second by Iran and Yemen. This was written well before the Syrian civil war was engineered by establishment interests. I focused on potential false flags that could be used as a rationale by the U.S. or Israel to invade the region, thereby giving Russia and China reason to retaliate, for the most part economically. Ultimately, this scenario would play out perfectly as a cover for the deliberate collapse of the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency.

In August 2012 I reiterated my concerns in an article titled Syria And Iran Dominoes Lead To World War, right after the Syrian civil war began to gain momentum.

Needless to say, I have not changed my general thesis since those days; however, I would like to touch upon certain factors now that the dangers I examined in those articles are mostly coming to pass in 2018.

First, no hard evidence has been produced by western intelligence agencies to support the claim that Bashar Al Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. None. Therefore, there is no basis for the latest missile attacks on the regime. This same exact false flag tactic was attempted under the Obama administration to draw the U.S. people into open war in Syria, and it failed. Now the chemical weapon card is being played again, this time with a “conservative” president. The establishment must be hoping that Republicans will find excitement in becoming the war party so long after the Bush years.

As I queried the last time a chemical false flag was attempted, what exactly does Assad have to gain by initiating a chemical attack against innocent civilians when he has the tactical momentum and upper hand in the civil war?  The answer is nothing.  The only people that have anything to gain by asserting such an attack, either real or fabricated, are people seeking to create chaos for their own benefit.

The insinuation of neocon warmonger John Bolton into the Trump cabinet suggests that the neocons are very much back in charge and that ongoing war is guaranteed. At this late stage in the game, it is unlikely that our government or any other government involved in the Syrian theater even cares to explain its actions. When establishment criminals no longer care if their criminality is transparent to the public, THEN it is time for a large scale societal collapse.

Second, each successive Trump involved theater, from the trade tariffs to international war tensions, has become progressively more dramatic, and I believe this is meant to hide the effects of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet cuts and interest rate hikes. The real and secret war being waged is not against Syria or Syria’s allies, but against the American people and our economic stability.

In January of this year, I warned that central banks were preparing to enter into an accelerating process to deflate the massive market bubbles they created to prop up our fiscal system over the past several years. That process is indeed continuing, and each successive rate hike and balance sheet cut will act in a cumulative fashion. Meaning, central bankers are treating the global economy like an oversized Jenga tower, pulling blocks here and there until the system topples completely from lack of stability.

This latest event in Syria is yet another grand gesture of illusion, designed to provide cover for the banking cabal as they pull the plug on financial life support. It also is timed rather conveniently for the Fed’s next policy meeting on May 1-2. The meeting is likely to include yet another interest rate hike as well as a large reduction in the balance sheet, resulting in another sizable plunge in stocks. All negative moves in our manipulated markets will now be blamed on Trump administration activities as well as blamed on trade retaliations by eastern nations. The mainstream media will no longer discuss the reality that central banks are the true cause behind a systemic breakdown.

Third, the current pattern of events suggest there will be a joint economic retaliation by Russia and China. China has publicly admonished the U.S. government for its strike in Syria, and this is merely added to the increasing tensions over trade tariffs by Trump. Again, this is a perfect opportunity to undermine the U.S. economy, primarily through China and Russia initiating a dump of the dollar as the world reserve currency.

The dump of the dollar has already begun in a semi-covert fashion. China’s currency has been inducted into the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket system, and China has also launched the first international oil exchange that does not use the dollar as the petro-currency. What many people are ignoring is the fact that the shift away from the dollar is being championed and helped along by the globalists at the IMF itself.

An impending change in the global monetary framework is often referred to as the great “global economic reset” by IMF members like Christine Lagarde. This change will be facilitated by central banks as they sabotage their respective national economies through the creation and destruction of market bubbles. Ultimately, it will not be the Chinese Yuan that replaces the dollar as world reserve currency, but the SDR basket system, controlled by the IMF.

The question of how this can be done by the globalists without an unprecedented liquidity crisis often comes up. I’m not so sure they care if there is a liquidity crisis, at least for a short time. Yes, the U.S. dollar has some of the most liquid markets in the world, but it is wrong to assume the globalists will not sacrifice those markets in order to force the public into accepting one world centralization of monetary administration (the biggest and most important step in establishing global government).

People who argue that the dollar will never be demolished by the globalists cling to the false notion that there is no liquidity replacement for the dollar. In reality, there is a replacement — cyrptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

The IMF has recently applauded blockchain systems and crypto as a potential rejuvenating force in international money transactions. Far from being opposed to cryptocurrencies, global elitists have been piling into them with praise and with investment dollars.

The global economic reset is not about East versus West. It is not about trade wars and nationalism. No, the global reset is about banker centralization of assets and consolidation of power. Beyond that, it is about the public ACCEPTING the reset as necessary and “good” for society. Globalists want us to beg for their rule. When one understands this simple truth, all the current events and disasters of our era begin to make sense. Crisis is the quickest path to complacency and tyranny.

The Syrian quagmire is a path to engineered and guided calamity.  Its effects will continue to leach into the economic world as an international excuse for a trade war tit-for-tat.  Syria is a smoke and mirrors game.

The true war, a secret war, is being fought between liberty champions and lying globalists. For now it remains a cold war, a battle of principles and facts versus disinformation and fear. One day this war will become a hot one. Until that time, distractions will assail the public like a hailstorm. My hope is that we can educate enough people to see through the fog of this hidden war; enough people to come out the other side and change things for the better.

The Lies That Make America’s Interventions Possible

The Lies Behind America’s Interventions

No one wants to be manipulated into war. So why do we keep letting it happen?

President Bush accompanied by Secretary of State Colin Powell (far left), Vice President Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton (far right), President George W. Bush talks with the media, September 12, 2001, about the previous day’s terrorist attacks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House. (George W. Bush Presidential Library)

Official Washington and those associated with it have misrepresented the facts numerous times in the service of military actions that might not otherwise have taken place. In the Middle East, these interventions have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Arab civilians, brought chaos to Iraq and Libya, and led to the expulsion of a million Christians from communities where they have lived since biblical times.

The most famous of these episodes, of course, was the U.S. government’s assurance to the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which formed the basis for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The government also insisted Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda, bolstering the call to war. Of course neither was true.

But even before that there was the first Iraq war in 1991, justified in part by the story of Iraqi soldiers reportedly dumping babies out of incubators to die in a Kuwaiti hospital. The 15-year-old daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador cleverly lied to a set-up congressional committee. The Christian Science Monitor detailed this bizarre episode in 2002.

There were also the lies about the Iraqi army being poised to invade Saudi Arabia. That was the ostensible reason for the U.S. sending troops to Kuwait—to defend Saudi Arabia. Writing in the the Los Angeles Times in 2003, Independent Institute fellow Victor Marshall pointed out that neither the CIA nor the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency viewed an Iraqi attack on Saudi Arabia as probable, and said the administration’s Iraqi troop estimates were “grossly exaggerated.” In fact, the administration’s claim that it had aerial photographs proving its assertions was never verified because, as we later learned, the photos never existed. The Christian Science Monitor also reported on this in 2002 ahead of the second Iraq war.

America attacked Iraq in 1991, bombing and destroying that nation’s irrigation, sanitation, and electricity plants. (See here regarding Washington’s knowledge of and planning for the horrific mass contamination of Iraqi drinking water.) Then we blockaded reconstruction supplies for nine years while some half-million children died of disease and starvation. We blamed it all on Saddam, although we controlled Iraq’s money flows through the UN food-for-oil program. Fortunately, we have a rare admission by Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes about what was done.

Before that, there was the Kosovo war when America attacked Serbia on the basis of lies that 100,000 Kosovans had been massacred by Serbs in suppressing their civil war. This led to massive American bombing, brutally destroying much of that nation’s civilian infrastructure and factories, including most of the bridges in the country, and all but one of those over the Danube River. The Americans imposed peace, then expelled most Serbs out of their former province. Subsequently there was the mass destruction of hundreds of ancient Christian churches and the creation of a European enclave now filled with Saudi money that sponsors Wahhabi education, with its rote memorization of the Koran and its 13th-century hatred of Christians.

More recently there was the British, French, and American attack on Libya in response to lies that Moammar Gaddafi was planning to massacre civilians in Benghazi. The U.S. destroyed his armed forces and helped to overthrow him. Widespread looting of his weaponry subsequently filled black markets in Asia and Africa and contributed to the ability of Boko Haram terrorists to sow chaos in Nigeria and parts of Northern Africa. Masses of African refugees have been flooding Western Europe ever since, traveling through Libya. Some of those weapons also made their way into the hands of the Islamic State, which overran parts of Iraq and Syria.

Most recently we had cable news inundating us with stories of a new poison gas attack in Syria. The “news” came from rebel sources. The American Conservative has published a detailed analysis by former arms inspector Scott Ritter questioning the evidence, or lack of it, that the Assad regime initiated the attack. The former British ambassador to Syria also cast doubts on the poison gas attack and its sources from rebel organizations.

It doesn’t make sense that Assad would use poison gas just as Trump was saying that he wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. It does make sense for the rebels to have staged a set up to get America to stay and attack Assad. This happened before in the summer of 2014 when President Obama nearly went to war over similar accusations. Only after asking Congress to vote on the matter did he decide against the attack because Congress wasn’t interested. Some congressmen’s mail was running 100-to-one against bombing. It was a welcome reminder of why Washington doesn’t want actual votes on starting wars: because most Americans don’t want more Washington wars.

Investigative journalists Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry expertly poked holes in the veracity of that 2013 attack. Other reports suggested that Syrian bombs unleashed poison gas the rebels had been storing in civilian areas. The New York Times finally published in December 2013 a detailed report that expressed doubts about its earlier conclusion that the 2013 “red line” gassing was carried out definitively by the Syrian military. False flag operations to goad America into war, it seems, can be successful.

After all the hundreds of thousands of innocents abroad killed by America and the human misery caused because of clever U.S. and foreign manipulations, one would think we might pause before attacking Syria and running the risk of killing Russians who are advising the Syrians. That could ignite an entirely new kind of war with a nuclear-armed Russia—all without congressional approval.

Obama, whose policies were predicated on the view that Assad must go, seemed to think Syrians would live happily after in some magically sprouting democracy. To believe this one would have to ignore the prior examples of Iraq and Libya. Nor do these war party advocates seem in the least concerned about the 10 percent of Syria’s population who are Christians, many of whom would surely by massacred after any overthrow of Assad.

Further, the so-called Free Syrian Army is a hodgepodge of rebel groups that include many Islamist radicals. With funding from fundamentalist Saudis and Turkey, they took over from more liberal forces early on. It’s worth noting also that Turkey provided the black market for ISIS to sell Syria’s captured oil.

Going back a hundred years there were the clever British lies that helped coax America into joining the Allies in World War I. England controlled the trans-Atlantic cables and most of our “news” about the war. That intervention resulted in the Treaty of Versailles instead of a compromise peace between Germany and England/France that would have prevented the wreckage of Europe out of which came the rise of communism and Nazism.

For an analysis of the risks of accidental nuclear war, see my 2017 January Publisher’s Report, in which I once wrote about how Osama bin Laden’s ultimate aim was to get Russia and America to destroy each other. It still could happen, triggered by false atrocity stories, cable TV’s 24-hour hyping of any and every threat, and Washington’s propensity to believe lies—and sometimes perpetrate them—to promote wars.

Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative.

Saudi crown prince goes into hiding since last month’s attack on royal palace

[SEE: Incident in Saudi Arabia Sparks Tweets About Unconfirmed Possible Coup Attempt.]

 

The handout provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on April 16, 2018, shows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman using binoculars to follow the "Persian Gulf Shield 1" military drills at their closing ceremony in the eastern Saudi region of Dhahran, on the sidelines of the 29th Arab League summit. (Photo via AFP)
The handout provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on April 16, 2018, shows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman using binoculars to follow the “Persian Gulf Shield 1” military drills at their closing ceremony in the eastern Saudi region of Dhahran, on the sidelines of the 29th Arab League summit. (Photo via AFP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has not been seen in public since heavy gunfire and explosions reported from outside the royal palace in the Saudi capital Riyadh late last month.

No new photo or video of bin Salman has been released by Saudi state media since that incident, which happened just after the young heir to the throne wrapped up a whirlwind global tour meant to advertise himself as the new power in the kingdom.

Bin Salman was not even seen on camera when new US Secretary of State Mike Popmeo paid his maiden visit to Riyadh in late April.

Although reports said the crown prince had hosted a working dinner with the top American diplomat, only images of Pompeo’s meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir were published.

The long disappearance has raised speculation about the fate of the crown prince.

Some sources claimed that the attack on April 21 was part of a coup led by Saudi royals who are opposed to King Salman, while other reports indicated that the shooting occurred when the palace guards targeted a small drone which came too close to Salman’s residence.

Saudi activists said that the shooting had nothing to do with the drone, but it was an attack from vehicles carrying heavy machine guns and shooting randomly.

It was claimed that bin Salman had been evacuated to a nearby bunker at a military base for his safety.

A number of journalists in Riyadh were reporting heavy fire outside palace compound.

Saudi opposition groups also suggest that the April shooting had forced Bin Salman to ban the royal family members from leaving the country for fear that his cousin and former crown prince, Muhammad bin Nayef, would try to topple him.

In addition to internal power struggle within royal family, Bin Nayef and Mutab Bin Abdullah, son of a late king, both were dissatisfied with Saudi-led aggression against Yemen and siege of Qatar.

The attack on palace came after a self-promoting campaign at home, which saw hundreds of royals and businessmen detained and tortured. Most of them were later released after reaching financial settlement deals with the kingdom.

Since the raids targeting hundreds of influential businessmen and the old political leadership, fear is present in every conversation, the fear of being the next one to be interrogated, arrested or even tortured.

Reports from those who were locked up, in addition to reports of a death at the Ritz, indicate that such fears may not be farfetched.

This is while bin Salman has refused to reveal his own wealth, saying it is a private matter amid reports of his opulent lifestyle at a time the oil-rich kingdom is introducing austerity measures.

Perhaps the strangest thing about this uprising against the wealthy and the powerful, though, is that it is coming from above, from a 32-year-old who is rebelling against his own class in the hopes of ultimately being the last man standing.

Although there has always been competition from within the royal family, and criticism of its behavior from outside, the approximately 15,000 princes and princesses and their hangers-on were widely seen as untouchable.

Bin Salman possesses a deep desire for power. But he also has little experience, which some consider to be a potentially dangerous combination.

The reckless crown prince has offended the Muslim nations by repeatedly taking an anti-Palestinian stance.

The warming of Riyadh-Tel Aviv relations has gathered pace since June 2017, when bin Salman became the crown prince.

In recent months, the kingdom has been gradually softening its public posture toward Israel in what analysts describe as an attempt by Riyadh to prepare public opinion at home and elsewhere for potential normal relations with Israel.

Last November, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar daily published a secret undated letter from Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to bin Salman, in which he outlined a roadmap for normalizing ties with Israel with the ultimate goal of uniting against Iran, their common enemy.

Bin Salman in March during his three-week tour of the United States also met with leaders of a number of pro-Israeli lobbying groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Bin Salman  during the US visit also  said that Palestinians should either accept peace proposals or “shut up.”

The remarks caused a storm of fury among Muslim nations.

Bin Salman is a close friend of US President Donald Trump’s aide and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Analysts believe that the great danger in the Middle East today is that bin Salman and Kushner appear to have a skewed and unrealistic understanding of the world around them.

Bin Salman and most of Arab leaders from the Persian Gulf states have largely remained silent after over 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on Monday in besieged Gaza.

Ivanka Trump and Kushner headed a US delegation which opened the new American embassy in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

The developments come as Saudi Arabia’s “dream” of becoming the dominant power in the Arab world has ended in “disastrous” failure.

The Saudis and their coalition of terrorists have not been able to achieve that in Syria.

Indirect Saudi intervention in Syria failed when Saudi-funded militants were defeated in their last big urban strongholds in the conflict-hit country  and Riyadh’s direct military intervention was botched, in Yemen, when it failed to reinstate a former ally as president .

Saudi Arabia’s aggression against Yemen has contributed to the country’s humanitarian crisis, damaging bin Salman’s image both internationally and regionally.

The House of Saud’s designated successor has also been attempting to portray himself as a “reformer” and an advocate of women’s rights.

On the economic front, analysts have cast doubt on bin Salman’s so-called Vision 2030 project, which aims to wean the Saudi economy off petrodollars and make the country more like “a normal non-oil state.”

Opinion Boston—When governments go looking for war

When governments go looking for war

Considering the lengthy history of “false flag” incidents laid out in Stephen Kinzer’s “Hoisting the false flag” [SEE ARTICLE BELOW], it’s important to question the truth of the chemical attacks in Syria. In an interview on CNN, Senator Rand Paul said, “I still look at the attack and say, you know, [Bashar al-Assad] either must be the dumbest dictator on the planet or maybe he didn’t do it.” The people of this country have been lied into war many times. The Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, which led to escalation in the Vietnam War, and misleading reports of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before 2003 are other examples of dishonesty by our government to garner support for war.

Unfortunately, I feel we’re striking at a branch rather than the root of the problem. The use of chemical weapons, whoever the culprit, is deplorable. But is that the issue in question? We are not at war with Syria, nor has Congress authorized the presence of our forces there. Yet thousands of our soldiers remain in Syria. Why? How is that legal?

The false flag that concerns me most is the one we’ve hoisted ourselves. It’s the flag of empire.

Brian Garvey

Brighton

 

Hoisting the false flag

 

 

A Syrian girl holds an oxygen mask over the face of an infant at a make-shift hospital following a reported gas attack on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on January 22, 2018.
HASAN MOHAMED/AFP/Getty Images
A Syrian girl holds an oxygen mask over the face of an infant at a makeshift hospital following a reported gas attack on Douma, the besieged rebel-held town on the outskirts of Damascus.

Brave Guatemalan air force pilots rebelled against a leftist regime in 1954 and used their planes to bomb the regime’s bases. Army commanders also rebelled; Guatemalans could hear them directing troop movements over the radio. Finally these patriots won their revolution. The United States trumpeted their victory around the world.

This was a “false flag” operation — staged by one force but made to look as if someone else did it. Planes that bombed targets in Guatemala were painted with Guatemalan air force insignia, but the pilots were CIA contractors. Radio messages about troop movements had been pre-recorded at a CIA base in Florida. A revolution that seemed to be emerging from one country, Guatemala, was actually the project of another, the United States.

False flag operations are a well-established tactic. Many intelligence agencies have staged them. Often they are successful. They lead the world to blame a crime or atrocity on an innocent party while the true culprit remains obscure. Computer technology has brought a host of new “false flag” possibilities, as hackers and counter-hackers compete to leave misleading electronic trails.

Some critics of American involvement in Syria’s civil war doubt that the recent poison gas attacks near Damascus were launched on orders from President Bashar al-Assad, as the United States and its allies have asserted. The last such attack came just days after President Trump vowed to pull American troops out of Syria. It led Trump to reverse course, denounce “animal Assad,” and order bombing instead. That brought cheers from those who wish for an open-ended American presence in Syria, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and leading Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Syria’s government again appeared demonic.

These events — along with the fact that intelligence agencies operating in the Middle East are highly sophisticated — raise the question of whether some other force could have staged gas attacks in order to cast blame on Assad. The French government produced an intelligence report concluding that “there is no plausible scenario other than that of an attack by Syrian armed forces.” One day more information may emerge. More than a few false flag operations have become public after they were botched, or after researchers discovered evidence that perpetrators tried to hide.

Throughout history, false flag operations have been used to provide casus belli — a justification for war. In 1788 a squad of Swedish soldiers dressed in Russian uniforms attacked a Swedish military outpost, giving King Gustav III grounds to attack Russia. Japan seized Manchuria in 1931 after its forces bombed its own rail line there and blamed the Chinese. In 1939 the Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich dressed concentration camp inmates in Nazi uniforms, had them shot, and then, seeking to win sympathy for the Nazi occupation of Poland, claimed that Polish partisans had killed them. That same year, Soviet forces bombarded a Russian village near the border with Finland, blamed it on the Finns, and four days later invaded Finland.

Some false flag operations require committing murder and other crimes that can be blamed on the enemy. The effect is greatest when the crime is especially horrific. During the 1970s, Africans working for an elite Rhodesian force called the Selous Scouts killed hundreds of civilians while disguised as Mozambican soldiers. Security forces in Turkey staged attacks and blamed them on Kurdish guerrillas. Algerian commandos disguised as terrorists carried out killings that were used to justify police repression. Security forces in Russia have been accused of staging bombings that they blamed on Chechen rebels.

Not all false flag operations come to fruition. In 1954, as the British were preparing to withdraw troops from Egypt, Israel tried to scare them into staying as protection against Arab nationalism. Israeli operatives recruited agents to set off bombs at American and British cinemas, libraries and schools. The bombings were to be blamed on Communists and the Muslim Brotherhood, but the plan was discovered. Israel’s defense minister was forced to resign.

In 1962, senior American officers proposed a large-scale false flag operation aimed at providing what one memo called “justification for US military intervention in Cuba.” At various stages, it involved plans for sinking a boat full of Cuban refugees, shooting down a civilian airliner, and assassinating Cuban exile leaders in Florida — all to be blamed on Cuba. One related proposal urged that if the launch of astronaut John Glenn failed, the United States should blame it on Cuba. Another suggested a military attack on a Latin American country staged to look as if Cuba had ordered it. Officers even proposed organizing an assault on the US base at Guantanamo so they could use it as proof of Cuba’s hostility. They presented these plans to President Kennedy at an Oval Office meeting, but he rejected them.

In the cyber age, intelligence services have become adept at staging attacks on computer systems that can be attributed to others. This is a modern permutation of an age-old technique. False flag operations succeed because many people reflexively jump to accept official narratives. Conveniently timed attacks that give pretexts for war, however, are not always what they seem. History suggests that we should await clear evidence before falling into well-laid traps.

 

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. Follow him on Twitter @stephenkinzer

Trump Threatens Economic Warfare Against Germany If Nord Stream 2 Is Built

Trump Presses Germany to Drop Russian Pipeline for Trade Deal

 

U.S. president is pushing Germany to pull the brakes on a major gas deal as the price for avoiding a trade war

Employees work on pipes at the Nord Stream 2 facility in Sassnitz, Germany on Oct. 19.
Employees work on pipes at the Nord Stream 2 facility in Sassnitz, Germany on Oct. 19. Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

BERLIN—President Donald Trump is pressing Germany to pull the brakes on a major gas deal with Russia as the price for avoiding a trans-Atlantic trade war, according to German, U.S. and European officials.

The officials said Mr. Trump told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in April that Germany should drop support for Nord Stream 2, an offshore pipeline that would bring gas directly from Russia via the Baltic Sea. This would be in exchange for the U.S. starting talks with the European Union on a new trade deal.

The White House pressure reflects its hard ball tactics on trade, moves that have contributed to rising tensions between Europe and the U.S. and raised fears in export-dependent Germany of a tit-for-tat on tariffs that could engulf its car industry.

Pipeline Dispute

The Trump administration is pushing against a new offshore pipeline that would increase Russian gas exports to Europe via Germany.

Vyborg
Nord Stream (existing) finland, Nord Stream 2 (planned) Narva Bay, sweden, estonia, russia, latvia, Baltic Sea, lithuania, BELARUS, russia, Lubmin Greifswald 100 miles, poland, germany 100 km
Source: Nord Stream 2

“Donald Trump is a deal maker…there is a deal to be made if someone (in Germany) stood up and said ‘Help us protect our auto industry a little bit more, because we’re great at it and we’re going to help you on Nord Stream 2’,” said one U.S. official, who was present at the April meeting between Ms. Merkel and Mr. Trump.

Raising the pressure further, Sandra Oudkirk, a senior U.S. diplomat, told journalists in Berlin on Thursday that as a Russian energy project the pipeline could face U.S. sanctions, putting any company participating in it at risk.

The Kremlin shot back immediately as spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the U.S. efforts “a crude effort to hinder an international energy project that has an important role in energy security.”

“The Americans are simply trying crudely to promote their own gas producers,” he said.

Ostensibly, Washington opposes the pipeline because it would make Ukraine—currently the main transit route for Russian gas headed west—and other U.S. allies in the EU more vulnerable to Russian pressure. German officials also say the U.S. is eager to displace Russia as a provider of gas to Europe.

How we got here: A history of U.S. steel wars before Trump

President Trump is considering imposing steep tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, sparking fears of a trade war. But he is not the first U.S. President to impose tariffs and quotas on imported steel.

“We are in principle open to that, but the question is what quantities the Americans can provide, and at what price,” said a senior German official.

While Ms. Merkel hasn’t dropped her support for the pipeline, she said on Thursday the EU had agreed at a summit Wednesday night to offer the U.S. “closer cooperation” in the field of gas in exchange for a permanent exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs.

Mr. Trump has been pushing for better access for U.S. companies to an EU market he has criticized as over-protected. Barring an EU offer to address Mr. Trump’s grievances, the U.S. will hit Europe with punitive steel and aluminum tariffs on June 1. The EU has promised retaliatory tariffs.

A senior White House official said Mr. Trump discussed the pipeline and tariffs with the German chancellor during their meetings, but never directly connected the two issues. “They are two separate issues,” the White House official said.

Mr. Trump has publicly criticized the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, saying at a meeting with Baltic State leaders at the White House this year that “Germany hooks up a pipeline into Russia, where Germany is going to be paying billions of dollars for energy into Russia…That’s not right.”

Ms. Oudkirk denied that Washington was opposing Nord Stream 2 in order to facilitate sales from the U.S.

A U.S.-German agreement on Nord Stream 2 may not be enough to resolve trans-Atlantic trade tensions. For trade talks to start, members of the EU would have to give the EU bureaucracy a mandate to start formal negotiations with Washington and not all members are interested in a new deal

Successive American administrations have pushed Europe, and Germany in particular, to create the infrastructure required to receive shipments of liquefied natural gas from the U.S.—a potential source of large revenues in a growing energy market.

Liquefied gas from the U.S. needs to be shipped over the Atlantic and would be considerably more expensive than Russian gas delivered via pipelines. A senior EU official working on energy regulation said Russian gas would be at least 20% cheaper.

“Trump’s strategy seems to be to force us to buy their more expensive gas, but as long as LNG is not competitive, Europe will not agree to some sort of racket and pay extortionate prices,” an EU official said.

Germany’s pipeline plan has long been controversial with Ukraine, as well as several EU countries on the bloc’s eastern edge who fear it gives Russian President Vladimir Putin power over gas deliveries—which Berlin has so far largely ignored.

But with fresh pressure from Washington and with Germany’s lucrative U.S. trade relationship at risk, Ms. Merkel is traveling to Russia on Friday to meet Mr. Putin in a bid to broker a compromise that would satisfy the U.S. and her European partners.

She will ask Mr. Putin for a deal that would preserve the lucrative transit trade—Ukraine gets a fee for letting Russian gas through its territory on the way to eastern Europe—even after Nord Stream 2 comes online in 2019, a German official said.

German government officials say that since all the permits for Nord Stream 2 have been issued, there is no legal way to stop the project, which is run by Gazprom , the Russian energy giant, under financing agreements with international companies such as Engie, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall.

Nord Stream 2 is the second phase of an existing pipeline that already channels smaller amount of gas from Russia to Germany. Construction for the second phase started this week in Germany, after investors committed €5 billion ($5.9 billion) to the venture.

Trump served legal notice warning of Israel false flag operation

Trump served legal notice warning of Israel false flag operation

US President Donald Trump [Gage Skidmore/Flickr]

US President Donald Trump [Gage Skidmore/Flickr]

 

US President Donald Trump has been served with a legal notice reminding him of his Constitutional duties with regard to the situation in the Middle East, especially his decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and warning him of an impending Israeli false flag operation likely to threaten the lives of US citizens. America’s responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council are also pointed out by the signatories to the notice, who are British journalist Sarah Jane (Lauren) Booth; former CIA Operations Officer Philip Giraldi; ex-Pentagon official Michael Maloof; Scott Bennett, a former US Army Officer and State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism; ex-US Diplomat and Attorney J. Michael Springmann; and Edward C Corrigan, a Canadian Barrister and Solicitor.

Their formal letter has been sent to Trump with copies going to the International Criminal Court, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, among others. The signatories give the US President “legal notice” of “a massacre beginning at the time of the Nakba anniversary in order for you to register a response and call upon the Israelis to cease and desist in your capacity as President of the United States and a Permanent Member of the Security Council and NATO.” The address for receipt of the notice to be acknowledged is given as International Delegates of the New Horizons Conference in Tehran.

READ: US ‘lost Middle East mediator role’ with embassy move

The US President is reminded that he is expected to advise the US Congress, the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court in The Hague) about this legal matter. He is warned “that ‘false flag’ attacks may be used by Israeli agents in order to assign blame to Palestinian factions and escalate the ongoing protests in Gaza and the West Bank into a larger conflict in order to falsely draw the United States and American military personnel into this artificially created conflict.” Such an attack, claim those behind the legal notice, “represents a clear and present danger to the citizens of the United States of America, because it may be designed to trigger and escalate American military actions against Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Russia, since these nations are opposed to the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem; and rising tensions already exacerbated by the US withdrawal from the [nuclear deal with Iran].”

#USEmbassy

The initiation of this impending attack, Trump has been told, will involve a new and higher level massacre of Palestinian civilians protesting against the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Furthermore, the letter serves as “Legal Notice [that] the United States can have no military alliance due to the fact that Israel has no internationally recognised fixed territorial borders which are required to be defined in such an agreement.” This notice, it is pointed out, will be “EXHIBIT 1 in any war crimes investigation and prosecution (past, present, future) relating to this matter.” There are, it is claimed, “national and international legal violations” involved.

The signatories cite a number of publications as evidence of the seriousness of their claims and warning to the President, and seek legal protection for themselves against “any retaliation, detainment, investigation, sequestration, interrogation, discrimination, imprisonment, torture, financial consequences, or any other negative or prejudicial consequences or actions taken against them.” Indeed, the former government and military officers and officials seek “whistle-blower protection” because they are “fulfilling [their] oaths to the US Constitution.”

The US embassy move to Jerusalem - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The US embassy move to Jerusalem – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Why America Will Never End Its Worldwide Wars of Aggression

Why the Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly, Part 1

Like the case of Rome before it, the Empire is bankrupting America. The true fiscal cost is upwards of $1.0 trillion per year (counting $200 billion for veterans and debt service for wars), but there is no way to pay for it.

That’s because the 78-million strong Baby Boom is in the driver’s seat of American politics. It plainly will not permit the $3 trillion per year retirement and health care entitlements-driven Welfare State to be curtailed.

The Trumpite/GOP has already sealed that deal by refusing to reform Social Security and Medicare and by proving to be utterly incapable of laying a glove politically on Obamacare/Medicaid. At the same time, boomers keep voting for the GOP’s anti-tax allergy, thereby refusing to tax themselves to close Washington’s yawning deficits.

More importantly, the generation which marched on the Pentagon in 1968 against the insanity and barbarism of LBJ’s Vietnam War has long since abandoned the cause of peace. So doing, boomers have acquiesced in the final ascendancy of the Warfare State, which grew like topsy once the US became the world’s sole superpower after the Soviet Union slithered off the pages of history in 1991.

Yet there is a reason why the end of the 77-year world war which incepted with the “guns of August” in 1914 did not enable the world to resume the status quo ante of relative peace and prosperous global capitalism.

To wit, the hoary ideology of American exceptionalism and the Indispensable Nation was also, ironically, liberated from the shackles of cold war realism when the iron curtain came tumbling down.

Consequently, it burst into a quest for unadulterated global hegemony. In short order (under Bush the Elder and the Clintons) Washington morphed into the Imperial City, and became a beehive not only of militarism, but of an endless complex of think-tanks, NGOs, advisories and consultancies, “law firms”, lobbies and racketeers.

The unspeakable prosperity of Washington flows from that Imperial beehive. And it is the Indispensable Nation meme that provides the political adhesive that binds the Imperial City to the work of Empire and to provisioning the massive fiscal appetites of the Warfare State.

Needless to say, Empire is a terrible thing because it is the health of the state and the profound enemy of capitalist prosperity and constitutional liberty.

It thrives and metastasizes by abandoning the republican verities of nonintervention abroad and peaceful commerce with all the nations of the world in favor of the self-appointed role of global policeman. Rather than homeland defense, the policy of Empire is that of international busybody, military hegemon and brutal enforcer of Washington’s writs, sanctions, red lines and outlawed regimes.

There is nothing more emblematic of that betrayal of republican non-interventionism than the sundry hot spots which dog the Empire today. These include the Ukraine/Crimea confrontation with Russia, the regime change fiasco in Syria, the US sponsored genocide in Yemen, the failed, bloody 17-year occupation of Afghanistan, the meddling of the US Seventh Fleet in the South China Sea, and, most especially, the swiftly intensifying contretemps in Iran.

As to the latter, there is absolutely no reason for the Empire’s attack on Iran. The proverbial Martian, in fact, would be sorely perplexed about why Washington is marching toward war with its puritanical and authoritarian but relatively powerless religious rulers.

After all, Iran hasn’t violated the nuke deal (JPAOC) by the lights of any credible authority – or by even less than credible ones like the CIA. Nor by the same consensus of authorities has it even had a research program for nuclear weaponization since 2003.

Likewise, its modest GDP of $430 billion is equal to just eight days of US output, thereby hardly constituting an industrial platform from which its theocratic rulers could plausibly menace America’s homeland.

Nor could its tiny $14 billion defense budget – which amounts to just seven days worth of DOD outlays – inflict any military harm on American citizens.

In fact, Iran has no blue water navy that could effectively operate outside of the Persian Gulf; its longest range warplanes can barely get to Rome without refueling; and its array of mainly defensive medium and intermediate range missiles cannot strike most of NATO, to say nothing of the North American continent.

The answer to the Martian’s question, of course, is that Iran is no threat whatsoever to the safety and security of the US homeland, but it has run badly afoul of the dictates of the American Empire.

That is to say, it has presumed to have an independent foreign policy involving Washington proscribed alliances with the sovereign state of Syria, the leading political party of Lebanon (Hezbollah), the ruling authorities (and US puppets) in Baghdad and the reining power in the Yemen capital of Sana’a (the Houthis).

These are all deemed by Washington to be sources of unsanctioned “regional instability” and Iran’s alliances with them have been capriciously labeled as acts of state sponsored terrorism.

The same goes for Washington’s demarche against Iran’s modest array of short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles. These weapons are palpably instruments of self-defense, but Imperial Washington insists their purpose is aggression – unlike the case of practically every other nation which offers its custom to American arms merchants.

For example, Iran’s arch-rival across the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, has more advanced NATO supplied ballistic missiles with even greater range (2,600 km range). So does Israel, Pakistan, India and a half-dozen other nations, which are either Washington allies or have been given a hall-pass in order to bolster US arms exports.

In short, Washington’s escalating war on Iran is an exercise in global hegemony, not territorial self-defense. What the proverbial Martian is really asking, therefore, is how did the Empire come about?

How did the historic notion of national defense morph into Washington’s arrogant claim that it constitutes the “Indispensable Nation” which stands as mankind’s bulwark against global disorder and chaos among nations?

As indicated above, Iran is just the case de jure of the Indispensable Nation in action. Yet the other hot spots of the moment are no less exercises in hegemonic aggression.

Thus, Washington started the Ukrainian confrontation by sponsoring, funding and recognizing the February 2014 coup that overthrew a Russia-friendly government with one that is militantly nationalistic and bitterly antagonistic to Russia. It reopened deep wounds that date back to Stalin’s brutal rein in Ukraine and Ukrainian collusion with Hitler’s Wehrmacht on its way to Stalingrad and back.

So doing, it triggered the fear-driven outbreak of Russian-speaking separatism in the Donbas and the 96% referendum in Crimea to formally re-affiliate with mother Russia (which originally purchased it from the Ottomans in 1783).

Even a passing familiarity with Russian history and geography would remind that Ukraine and Crimea are Moscow’s business, not Washington’s.

Even more hideous is the rhetorical provocations and Seventh Fleet maneuvers ordered by Washington with respect to China’s comical sand castle building in the South China Sea. Whatever they are doing on these man-made islets, it is not threatening to the security of America – nor is there any plausible reason to believe that it is a threat to global commerce, either.

After all, it is the mercantilist economies of China and East Asian that would collapse almost instantly if it attempted to interrupt world trade. That is, any theoretical red military shoe would first fall on the Red Suzerains of Beijing themselves because it is the hard currency earnings from its export machine that keep the Red Ponzi from collapsing and the Chinese people enthrall to their communist overlords.

Needless to say, none of these kinds of interventions were even imaginable in the sleepy town of Washington DC just 100-years ago. But it’s baleful evolution from the capital of an economically focused Republic to seat of power in a globally mobilized Empire ultimately sprung from the Indispensable Nation heresy.

So we intend to delve into the historic roots of that conceit in a multi-part series because it not only guarantees unending calamities abroad, but also an eventual fiscal and financial horror show at home.

Indeed, so long as Imperial Washington is stretched about the planet in its sundry self-appointed missions of stabilization, “peacekeeping”, punishment, attack and occupation, there is zero chance that America’s collapsing fiscal accounts can be salvaged.

The Indispensable Nation folly thus hangs over the rotten edifice of Bubble Finance like, in fact, a modern day Sword of Damocles.

But Empire is a corrosive disease of governance. It eventually metastasizes into imperial arrogance, overreach and high-handedness. Ultimately, like at present, it falls prey to the rule of bellicose warmongers and thugs.

John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are living proof of that.

For the moment, however, make no mistake: Trump’s withdrawing from the nuke deal and pending re-imposition of maximum sanctions is an act of war by any other name.

Yes, the feinschmeckers of the foreign policy establishment consider economic sanctions to be some kind of benign instrument of enlightened diplomacy – the carrot that preempts resort to the stick. But that is just sanctimonious prattle.

When you hound the deep water ports of the planet attempting to block Iran’s oil sales, which are its principal and vital source of foreign exchange, or cut off access by its central bank to the global money clearance system known as SWIFT or pressure friend and foe alike to stop all investment and trade – that’s an act of aggression every bit as menacing and damaging as a cruise missile attack.

Or at least it was once understood that way. Even as recently as 1960 the great Dwight Eisenhower (very) reluctantly agreed to lie about Gary Power’s U-2 plane when the Soviets shot it down and captured its CIA pilot alive.

But Ike did so because he was old-fashioned enough to believe that even penetrating the air space of a foe without permission was an act of war – and that he did not intend, the CIA’s surveillance program notwithstanding.

Today, by contrast, Washington invades the economic space of dozens of foreign nations with alacrity. In fact, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) proudly lists 30 different sanctions programs including ones on Belarus, Burundi, Cuba, Congo, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe – along with the more visible programs against the alleged malefactors of Iran, Russia and North Korea.

These, too, are the footprints of Empire, not measures of a homeland defense befitting a peace-seeking Republic. That would cost around $250 billion per year, and would rely on an already built and paid for triad nuclear capacity for deterrence, and a modest Navy and Air Force for protection of the nation’s shorelines and air space.

The $500 billion excess in today’s Trump-bloated national security budget of $750 billion is the cost of Empire; it’s the crushing fiscal burden that flows from the Indispensable Nation folly and its calamitously wrong assumption that the planet would descend into chaos without the good offices of the American Empire.

Needless to say, we do not believe that the planet is chaos-prone absent Washington’s ministrations. After all, the historic record from Vietnam through Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran suggests exactly the opposite.

More pointedly, the Indispensable Nation meme originates not in the universal condition of mankind and the nation-states into which it has been partitioned, but in the one-time, flukish and historically aberrant circumstances of the 20th century that gave raise to giant totalitarian states in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, and the resulting mass murder and oppressions which resulted there from.

But as we will outline in greater detail in Part 2, Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany were not coded into the DNA of humanity – a horror always waiting to happen.

To the contrary, they were effectively born and bred in April 1917 when the US entered what was then called the Great War. And it did so for absolutely no reason of homeland security or any principle consistent with the legitimate foreign policy of the American Republic.

So you can put the blame for this monumental error squarely on Thomas Woodrow Wilson – a megalomaniacal madman who was the very worst President in American history; and who took America into war for the worst possible reason – a vainglorious desire to have a big seat at the postwar peace table in order to remake the world as God had inspired him to redeem it.

The truth, however, was that the European war posed not an iota of threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE, or Worcester MA or Sacramento CA. In that respect, Wilson’s putative defense of “freedom of the seas” and the rights of neutrals was an empty shibboleth; his call to make the world safe for democracy, a preposterous pipe dream.

Indeed, the shattered world after the bloodiest war in human history was a world about which Wilson was blatantly ignorant. And remaking it was a task for which he was temperamentally unsuited – even as his infamous 14 points were a chimera so abstractly devoid of substance as to constitute mental play dough.

Or, as his alter-ego and sycophant, Colonel House, put it: Intervention positioned Wilson to play “The noblest part that has ever come to the son of man”.

America thus plunged into Europe’s carnage, and forevermore shed its century-long Republican tradition of anti-militarism and nonintervention in the quarrels of the Old World. From Wilson’s historically erroneous turn – there arose at length the Indispensable Nation Folly, which we shall catalogue in the balance of this series.

For now, suffice it to say that there was absolutely nothing noble that came of Wilson’s intervention.

It led to a peace of vengeful victors, triumphant nationalists and avaricious imperialists – when the war would have otherwise ended in a bedraggled peace of mutually exhausted bankrupts and discredited war parties on both sides.

By so altering the course of history, Wilson’s war bankrupted Europe and midwifed 20th century totalitarianism in Russia and Germany.

These developments, in turn, eventually led to the Great Depression, the Welfare State and Keynesian economics, World War II, the holocaust, the Cold War, the permanent Warfare State and its military-industrial complex.

They also spawned Nixon’s 1971 destruction of sound money, Reagan’s failure to tame Big Government and Greenspan’s destructive cult of monetary central planning.

So, too, flowed the Bush’s wars of intervention and occupation, their fatal blow to the failed states in the lands of Islam foolishly created by the imperialist map-makers at Versailles and the resulting endless waves of blowback and terrorism now afflicting the world.

And not the least of the ills begotten in Wilson’s war is the modern rogue regime of central bank money printing, and the Bernanke-Yellen-Powell plague of bubble economics which never stops showering the 1% with the monumental windfalls from central bank enabled speculation.

As to how all this transpired, stay tuned!

David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.

Photos from Jerusalem and Gaza as Trump’s Folly Martyrs Dozens of Palestinians

Pomp and bloody chaos: photos from Jerusalem and Gaza as embassy opens

Palestinians ran for cover from tear gas near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Jabalia, on Monday, as they protested the opening of the US embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem.
Palestinians ran for cover from tear gas near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Jabalia, on Monday, as they protested the opening of the US Embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem.
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and President Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump unveiled an plaque during the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and President Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump unveiled an plaque during the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
Palestinians carried an injured protester during the protests on Monday near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City.
Palestinians carried an injured protester during the protests on Monday near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images
Among those attending the embassy opening were, from left, Sara Netanyahu; her husband, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s son-in-law and daughter; US ambassador to Israel David Friedman; and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Among those attending the embassy opening on Monday were, from left, Sara Netanyahu; her husband, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s son-in-law and daughter; US ambassador to Israel David Friedman; and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
Palestinians transported a demonstrator injured near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Monday.
Palestinians transported a demonstrator injured near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Monday.
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin clapped as US President's daughter Ivanka Trump unveils an inauguration plaque at the embassy on Monday.
Mnuchin clapped as Ivanka Trump unveiled a plaque at the embassy on Monday.
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
A Palestinian pushed a burning tire during the protests on the Gaza-Israel border on Monday.
A Palestinian pushed a burning tire during the protests on the Gaza-Israel border on Monday.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images
Miriam Ochsorn (right), and her husband Sheldon Adelson (center), the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and his wife arrived ahead of the embassy ceremony on Monday.
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
Palestinians ran for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli security forces along the Gaza border on Monday.
Palestinians ran for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli security forces along the Gaza border on Monday.
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman spoke at the embassy opening in Jerusalem on Monday.
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman spoke at the embassy opening in Jerusalem on Monday.
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke billowing from burning tires at the protest along the Gaza border on Monday.
Smoke billowing from burning tires at the protest along the Gaza border on Monday.
MSMAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images
A demonstrator scuffled with Israeli police outside the new US Embassy in Jerusalem as the ceremony to open it began on Monday.
A demonstrator scuffled with Israeli police outside the new US Embassy in Jerusalem as the ceremony to open it began on Monday.

Israeli Fascists Are Now Killing 5 Palestinians Per/Hour…, At What Point Does Netanyahu Become Bashar al-Asad?

[SEE: Momentous, Potentially Catastrophic Upcoming Weekend In Palestine–Remember the Nakba]

 

41 Palestinian Protesters Killed, Gaza Officials Say, As U.S. Opens Jerusalem Embassy 

[5 HOURS LATER]

55 Palestinian Protesters Killed, Gaza Officials Say, As U.S. Opens Jerusalem Embassy

[Israeli Fascists are presently killing 5 Palestinians an hour…, at what point does Zionist/Jewish barbarism equal that shown by Bashar al-Asad in his initial brutal defense of the Syrian state?]

The Latest: Syrian FM condemns ‘massacre’ in Gaza

 

[THE NAKBA]

 

 

 

 

41 Palestinians Killed This Morning In Jerusalem Embassy Protests

Palestinian demonstrators take cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against the U.S. move of its embassy to Jerusalem, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip.   Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are protesting the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, and Israeli army forces have killed 41 protesters, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The ministry also says more than 1,000 people have been hurt in demonstrations and clashes.

More than 35,000 people are protesting along the Gaza border, the Israel Defense Forces say. The army says it killed three protesters who were trying to set a bomb next to the security fence in Rafah. It’s the most deaths in one day the area has seen since the summer of 2014, when more than 2,000 Palestinians died.

The number of casualties rose steadily on Monday, as the opening of the American embassy at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) neared.

YouTube

As news of the violence spread, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – who is slated to visit President Trump in Washington on Friday – said he is “particularly worried” about what he called “the high number of people killed,” according to the AP.

The embassy’s controversial opening comes as Israel marks its creation 70 years ago – an event that Palestinians refer to as Nakba – Catastrophe – because that development also turned more than 700,000 Palestinians into refugees.

“A great day for Israel!” President Trump tweeted on Monday. He also told his followers to watch Fox News for coverage of the embassy’s opening.

Discussing the dozens of deaths today, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that the rising number “doesn’t indicate anything – just as the number of Nazis who died in the World War doesn’t make Nazism something you can explain or understand. There is one truth.”

That quote comes from Haaretz, which says Erdan also blames Hamas for encouraging a “cynical and malicious use of bloodshed.”

Palestinian demonstrators run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City.  Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Trump announced last December that he would break with the consensus of America’s allies and decades of tradition by recognizing Jerusalem as the official capital, and moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

“The rioters are hurling firebombs & explosive devices, burning tires, throwing rocks, & attempting to ignite fires in Israeli territory,” the army said via Twitter. “IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means and fire, and are operating according to standard operating procedures.”

Both sides of the conflict had been preparing for today’s events. In Hamas-ruled Gaza, violent protests have erupted every Friday since March, venting anger over Israeli’s blockade. The Israeli Defense Forces say that terrorists are using civilians to cover their actions; military jets have been dropping leaflets warning Palestinians not to come near the security fence.

“We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law & human rights in Gaza,” Amnesty International said of Monday’s violence. The organization says six of the dead are children, and more than 500 people were wounded by live ammunition, adding, “This must end immediately.”

A much calmer demonstration took place in the streets outside the new U.S. embassy’s location in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood. There, protesters marched, chanted slogans, waved Palestinian flags and held up signs, amid a large security presence.

The U.S. delegation visiting Israel for the opening includes the president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, along with Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and Ambassador David Friedman.

On Sunday, that group dined with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the Israeli leader also welcomed Florida Gov. Rick Scott, along with members of Congress, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Joe Wilson.

As NPR’s Camila Domonoske reported when Trump announced the change in December, the president said that “his announcement does not mean the U.S. is taking a position on any possible future peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians or on the ‘final status’ of Jerusalem after such talks.”

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious,” Trump said. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.”

To thank Trump for his decision, Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, renamed a square near the new U.S. outpost. Secretary Mnuchin received a plaque today bearing its new name: “United States Square in honor of President Donald J. Trump.”

Indonesian Christian Church-Bombing Family Recently Returned ISIS Volunteers In Syria

Indonesia church attacks: Family of bombers ‘had been to Syria’

The police said the family were among hundreds of Indonesians, who had returned from Syria, where IS has been fighting government forces.

Debris are seen outside Santa Maria church where an explosion went off in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia. (AP)

 

By IANS

JAKARTA: A family of six, who carried out three church bombings in Indonesia killing 13 persons, had returned from Syria, police said.

The Islamic State (IS) terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks that took place on Sunday, the BBC reported.

A mother and two daughters blew themselves up at a church, while the father and two sons targeted two others in Indonesia’s second city, Surabaya.

National police chief Tito Karnavian said they belonged to an IS-inspired network, Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

The police said the family were among hundreds of Indonesians, who had returned from Syria, where IS has been fighting government forces, the BBC reported.

No details were given about the family’s alleged involvement in that conflict.

The bombings are the deadliest in Indonesia in more than a decade, and also left more than 40 people injured.

Visiting the scene of one of the attacks, President Joko Widodo described them as “barbaric”, adding that he had ordered police to “look into and break up networks of perpetrators”.

The police identified the father as Dita Oepriarto, saying he was the head of a JAD cell in the area. He reportedly dropped off his wife, Puji Kuswati, and their two daughters — aged nine and 12 — at Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church, where they blew themselves up.

He then drove off, launching his own bomb-laden car into the grounds of Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church, the police said.

The sons — aged 16 and 18 — rode motorcycles into Santa Maria Catholic Church, and detonated explosives they were carrying. It was their attack that came first, at around 7.30 a.m. The other two attacks followed five minutes apart, the police said.

Later on Sunday, another bomb exploded at an apartment complex in Surabaya, killing three persons. East Java’s police chief, Mahfud Arifin, said that those killed were the perpetrators, not victims.

It is not yet known if this bombing was connected to the other attacks.

Officials reportedly foiled attacks against other churches, too. Also on Sunday, police said they killed four suspected members of JAD in Cianjur, in West Java province, and arrested two others.

Pentagon Policy of Inadequate Training Lost Iraq, Then Libya And Ultimately, Afghanistan

US Spec. Forces (Green Berets) Killed In Niger Died Because They Were Poorly Trained

OCT 2017 NIGER AMBUSH, SUMMARY OF INVESTIGATION

Pentagon Foists More Toy Attack-Helicopters On Afghan Army, After $28 Million Uniform Fiasco

Pentagon’s Perpetual Inability To Train Foreign Proxy Armies

Libya Fiasco Exposes Chain of Incompetent Generals In Charge At the Pentagon

A Brilliant Pentagon Plan for Spreading Perpetual “Persistent War” Looks Just Like A “Failed” Terror War

A veil of secrecy fuels doubts on Afghan war

JALIL REZAYEE/EPA/Shutterstock   Afghan soldiers at their graduation ceremony in Arpil.

WASHINGTON — It is challenging enough that the war in Afghanistan has gone on for almost 17 years. But now the Trump administration is raising hackles in Congress by cloaking in official secrecy an unusual amount of data about the longest armed conflict in American history, including, until very recently, the dwindling size of the beleaguered Afghan military.

Information contained in a recently issued government report provides a window into what the Pentagon has been keeping secret since last year: The Afghan army has shrunk by 11 percent and insurgents have gained territory, raising questions about whether the Pentagon has been concealing a strategy gone awry.

President Trump, who called the war “a complete waste” as a candidate, announced his plan for keeping up the fight last August, saying he shared the American people’s “frustration” with seemingly endless conflict, but was committed to sending more troops to the area without a timetable for withdrawal.

But just as the Pentagon began sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan, it also began classifying key war metrics it had previously made public. That included ways of measuring the success or failure of America’s mission: training and funding the Afghan military so it can beat back the Taliban and other insurgents.

The latest report by John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction — who objected strongly to the new program of secrecy and pried some of the data out of US military leaders in Afghanistan — contained some worrisome figures.

Afghan troops shrank by about 36,000, to 296,409 from January 2017 to January 2018. Taliban and other insurgents increased their territory from 11 percent to 14.5 percent of the country over the same period. Multiple terror attacks in April killed dozens in Kabul, with the Islamic State claiming credit.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration still is refusing to disclose the number of Afghan military personnel dying in action, or those deciding to leave their jobs. Detailed performance assessments of Afghan troops also remain classified.

“I’m still trying to figure out just exactly what the strategy that we’re implementing is other than what they’ve done before,” said Leon Panetta, who served as secretary of defense, under Barack Obama. “I think sometimes they use the classified approach in order to cover up the fact that they really don’t have a strategy.”

Representative Stephen Lynch, the South Boston Democrat who is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said detailed metrics on the Afghan military are crucial to understanding the success of the mission.

“It’s a canary in the coal mine,’’ Lynch said of attrition and casualty numbers. “It’s an early indicator of how things are going there.”

Lynch also complains that the military is making in-person oversight harder for members of Congress visiting Afghanistan, with greater restrictions on areas soldiers will secure to ensure safe travel.

Lynch has visited Iraq and Afghanistan more than 20 times. On the trips, he visits infrastructure projects the United States is investing heavily in to ensure they are functioning, and questions contractors and members of the military about conditions on the ground.

“We don’t want to go to Iraq or Afghanistan and just get a PowerPoint presentation we could get in Washington — we want to be out there,” Lynch said. “I’m seeing a decidedly more limited ability to do that, to do my work.”

The Pentagon’s secrecy has extended beyond the Afghan military, making it more difficult for the public to find out precisely how many Americans are deployed there.

‘I think sometimes they use the classified approach in order to cover up the fact that they really don’t have a strategy.’

— Leon Panetta, former defense secretary 

Starting this year, the Pentagon stripped the number of US troops deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria from quarterly reports available online.

Members of the press can ask for the figures from Defense Department officials, but they are no longer publicly posted. The nation currently has about 14,000 military personnel in Afghanistan, according to a Defense Department spokesman, up from 9,000 in 2016.

The Pentagon insists it is not trying to hide bad news out of Afghanistan.

Army General John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, has said the Afghan military data was classified at the request of Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani.

President Trump looked on as Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke at the White House in March.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images/File
President Trump looked on as Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke at the White House in March.

Defense Secretary James Mattis brushed off the shrinking Afghan military in testimony to senators last week, saying the United States is focusing on “quality not quantity” of the forces. But the combination of secrecy and the negative numbers that are trickling out are prompting fresh questions about the Trump administration’s strategy.

Trump, like George W. Bush and Obama before him, is confronted with what his own commanders have called a stalemate in the region, where Taliban fighters continue to defy the Afghan government despite Washington pouring tens of billions of dollars into a reconstruction effort to prop up the local military.

Obama increased US troop levels to more than 100,000 in a surge in 2010 and 2011, and cut them to less than 10,000 before he left office. The Taliban were beaten back to rural areas but successfully waited out the surge.

It’s unclear how Trump’s sending a far more modest surge of a few thousand more troops now is expected to change the tide.

The current strategy is to force the Taliban to the negotiating table, through training the Afghan military to the point of self-reliance and persuading Pakistan to crack down on insurgents. The Afghan government is in control of territory where 65 percent of the country’s population lives. The US military has set a goal of bumping that to 80 percent by the end of 2019.

Representative Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina and a longtime member of the Armed Services Committee, said he feels as if he is hearing the same story in classified briefings from the Pentagon on Afghanistan that he did five years ago.

“Nothing has changed since 2001 and all they’re trying to do is to keep the truth from the American people, and I think that’s wrong,” Jones said.

Jones, once a gung-ho supporter of the war who led the charge to rename french fries “Freedom Fries” in the House cafeteria after France opposed the Iraq War, has since had a radical change of heart and is a vocal opponent of the continuing presence in Afghanistan. He has unsuccessfully pushed for the House to have a debate about withdrawal.

“Congress just sits by like Nero watching Rome burn,” Jones said.

Trump tweeted repeatedly before becoming president that the United States should get out of the war in Afghanistan, which he characterized as a “total disaster.” But once in office, his national security team presented him with the bleak prospect of withdrawing from the area and then watching the Taliban declare victory and endanger US allies.

Firefighters in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, battled flames after oil tankers were allegedly bombed by suspected militantsearlier this month.
GHULAMULLAH HABIBI/EPA/Shutterstock
Firefighters in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, battled flames after oil tankers were allegedly bombed by suspected militantsearlier this month.

The many years of the US military engagement, the nearly $900 billion spent, and the lives lost — more than 2,400 American fatalities since 2001 — would look more like a tragic squander than the necessary response to the Sept. 11 attacks it was at the start.

The chokehold on detailed Afghanistan information reflects Trump’s penchant for surprise in warfare.

He refused to say how many additional troops he was sending to Afghanistan in August, saying “America’s enemies must never know our plans” and criticizing Obama for allowing the Taliban to wait him out by setting a withdrawal date of 2017 in advance.

Even lawmakers were initially in the dark about the new plan. Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, held up key Defense Department nominations to pressure the Pentagon to release more information about their Afghanistan strategy last fall. He relented after Mattis held a private briefing for senators.

The new strategy’s one year anniversary is approaching this summer, at which point restive lawmakers are likely to clamor for updates and assurances from the administration that progress is being made and a potential exit plan is laid out.

“How long is this war going to go on with no resolution in sight?” said Representative Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont who is also on the Oversight Committee.

Under occasionally pointed questioning last week in the Senate, Mattis conceded the mission of training Afghan troops under the mini-surge would take a while.

“It’s going to take time, senator,” he said. “And I don’t refute this has been a long fight.”

Liz Goodwin can be reached at elizabeth.goodwin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizcgoodwin.

The militarization of AI and Our Desolate Future

terminatorgenisys-fb

Everybody knows that artificial intelligence is an exceptionally weaponizable technology. So it’s no mystery why militaries everywhere are racing to exploit AI to its maximum potential.

Autonomous vehicles, for example, will become the most formidable weapon systems humanity has ever developed. AI gives them the ability to see, hear, sense, and adjust real-time strategies far better and faster than most humans. AI will orchestrate fleets of unmanned tanks, artillery, reconnaissance and supply vehicles. It will almost certainly produce casualty counts in future battles that are staggering and lopsided, especially when one side is almost entirely composed of AI-powered intelligent weapons systems equipped with phalanxes of 3-D camera, millimeter-wave radar, biochemical detectors and other ambient sensors.

There’s no point in dancing around a huge and growing controversy in the AI industry: the appropriateness of tech vendors such as Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Amazon Web Services Inc. assisting the U.S. Department of Defense in developing AI technologies not just for offensive purposes, but also for defensive and back-office applications that can sustain this country’s war-making bureaucracy. All the “AI safety” guardrails on Earth can’t protect us from applications of this technology that are explicitly designed to project deadly force, even when that force is exercised in what one might regard as a “just war.”

As with recent privacy protection and “fake news” controversies, the issue of AI’s weaponization is revealing Silicon Valley’s very strong cultural bias toward libertarian and left-wing causes. Whatever your ideological slant, recent protests by Google employees over that firm’s AI research and development subcontract with the DoD call attention to yet another political crossroads that this firm, and its closest rivals, face in pursuing new avenues for making money from their AI expertise.

In early April, Google employees signed a letter objecting to the company’s involvement in a Pentagon pilot program that uses AI to flag drone-captured video images for more efficient human review. The technology could easily be applied to offensive purposes such as targeting drone strikes for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism uses. Google responded that its work is intended for “nonoffensive” uses, such as improving identification of innocent civilians to reduce the likelihood of becoming casualties of war. Both Google and DoD stated that the AI being developed would not be for drones or other autonomous weapons systems that could be activated without human guidance.

But that’s cold comfort, considering that it could easily be repurposed by other projects — perhaps not involving Google — for just such applications. No “ground rules” for commercial AI vendors’ engagement with the military can realistically stop the underlying approaches from being used in weapon systems for offensive purposes. In fact, the likelihood of that possibility is underlined by the fact that the project’s underlying AI technology — TensorFlow, open-source object recognition software and unclassified image data — is available to anyone.

Google has no easy avenues to follow, and it alone can’t stand in the way of AI’s spiraling weaponization. If it persists and expands its AI-related work with DoD, it risks alienating many of its deep pool of AI developers, who have plenty of career opportunities in the U.S. and elsewhere. It can take the unlikely move of justifying the work by arguing that withdrawing from this and potential future DoD opportunities would effectively hand this business to competitors such as Microsoft and AWS, both of which are avidly growing their Pentagon business.

In the unlikely scenario that all AI solution providers walk away from projects with the United States’ and other nations’ military establishments, that would still open an opportunity for universities and nonprofit research centers to pick up the work. Considering how much money the military is likely to funnel into such contracts, which would focus on developing highly sophisticated AI tools, that scenario could easily reverse the brain drain that’s been causing the best and brightest AI researchers to leave academia and seek their fortunes in the private sector. Some of these contracts could conceivably go to research hubs in U.S.-allied nations, such as NATO members that are trying to keep their smartest, albeit underappreciated, AI professionals from moving to Northern California.

In the even more unlikely scenario that the DoD develops Oppenheimer-grade pangs of conscience about developing a new generation of AI-fueled superweapons, it can’t turn back. Geopolitical forces would compel the U.S. to carry forward with such R&D, considering that China and other nations — and even U.S. allies such as the U.K. and France — have placed a high priority on developing their national AI competencies. This is a hard fact that Google’s Eric Schmidt, who sits on a DoD advisory board, openly acknowledges, referring to this as a “Sputnik moment” for the U.S. and allies:

In some ways, the Google employee protests are reminiscent of the late 1960s student demonstrations against Dow Chemical’s on-campus recruiting. The bone of contention was that company’s role in developing the napalm incendiary gel for DoD, which was responsible for some of the most horrifying casualties in the Vietnam War.

Those protests didn’t stop development of that or any other weapon. But they put into stark relief the moral dilemmas that some educated people may confront when applying specialized engineering skills to military projects.

Image: Terminator Genisys Facebook page

 

Vets Rag On Cops Using Unprofessional Tactics, Tactics Learned In Israel

militarization veterans dislike police officers

The Long March

Cops And Veterans: The Real Problem May Be The ‘Pseudo-Militarization’ Of American Police

By Jonathan Blanks

I was not aware that veterans had particular animosity or resentment for police, but I can’t say it surprises me if that’s true. Anecdotally, I’ve heard and read comments by veterans that echo those in the T&P piece complaining about how American police treat the public and how it differs from how soldiers treat non-combatants in war zones, particularly regarding the pointing of weapons and the use of force. Moreover, speaking as a civilian gun owner, seeing officers point rifles at peaceful protesters just​ to use the scope is an appalling violation of the most basic tenets of gun safety.

These comments have led me to wonder whether we’ve misnamed the problem as “police over-militarization” rather than “police pseudo-militarization.” Everything I’ve read about rules of engagement and how military personnel engage non-combatants is far more restrained and respectful than what American police often do. Thus, calling American police behavior “militarization” assigns an unwarranted professionalism and respect to what the American police are doing and simultaneously misrepresents how our servicemen and women treat others abroad.

For more on this I recommend a recently released a short policy paper by R Street’s Arthur Rizer, a veteran and former police officer, suggesting we arm police more like Batman and less like GI Joe.   I also recommend a longer economic paper published in 2017 that shows departments that acquire equipment through the 1033 program have more uses of force and, specifically, more fatal officer-involved shootings.

Jonathan Blanks is a Research Associate in Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice and a Writer in Residence at Harvard University’s Fair Punishment Project. His research is focused on law enforcement practices, overcriminalization, and civil liberties.

Pakistan Prevents Latest US Defense Attache Charged In Killing Locals From Fleeing Islamabad

April 08, 2018US diplomat briefly held for killing biker in road accident in Islamabad
May 11, 2018–US travel ban on Pak officials, families begins 

May 11, 2018Pakistan imposes restrictions on movement of US diplomats
May 13, 2018–
US diplomat’s bid to fly out of Pakistan foiled

“The US Air Force C-130 flew into Islamabad at 11.15am from Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. Col Hall accompanied by around eight people from the embassy reached the air base around five minutes later for boarding the aircraft.

The FIA officer on duty after finding out that it was Col Hall, held back his passport and sought directions from his high-ups, according to a source. The permission for Col Hall to leave was not granted and the special aircraft returned to Bagram at around 4pm.”

Diplomatic licence to kill

 

THE killing of a motorcyclist and injuring of another by the reportedly intoxicated Col Joseph Emmanuel, US military attaché to Pakistan, gave one a sense of déjà-vu. In 2013, a speeding US embassy vehicle hit two local residents killing one, and in 2011 another US diplomat similarly killed a motorcyclist in a traffic accident.

We also had the highly publicised Raymond Davis episode, in which an embassy vehicle coming to help Davis killed a local man in a hit-and-run while speeding on the wrong side. There is anger in Pakistan because of the frequency of these killings and public sentiment reflects the view that US officials stationed in Pakistan have little respect for domestic laws or — more alarmingly — the value of human life other than their own.

Under international law, diplomatic agents are entitled to the privileges and immunities associated with their status and are, therefore, exempt from both the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state. While there exist a few exceptions relating to private immovable property and certain acts relating to private commercial activity, a diplomatic agent, under Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 (VCDR), cannot be prosecuted or punished by a receiving state, nor can orders and regulations of the police be enforced against him.

Public sentiment reflects the view that US officials stationed in Pakistan have little respect for domestic laws.

This, however, does not mean that a diplomatic agent can do as he pleases, because he has a duty to respect the law of the land under Article 41 of the convention as well as a fiduciary duty to represent the sending state in the best light possible. The preamble of the VCDR states that the purpose for complete immunity for diplomats is “to ensure the efficient performance of diplomatic mission as representing states”.

Unlike diplomatic immunity, consular immunity as defined in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 (VCCR), is not absolute and extends only to acts performed in the exercise of consular function. Consular staff thus only possesses functional immunity and not the personal immunity enjoyed by diplomatic agents. Pakistan has signed both the VCDR and VCCR and has implemented these laws through the promulgation of the Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act, 1972. Because Col Emmanuel is a diplomatic agent the only reactive action Pakistan can take against him is to declare him persona non grata and require him to leave the country.

In lieu thereof, Pakistan also has a few other arguments. For one, it can request the United States to waive the immunity currently enjoyed by Emmanuel, arguing that he has abused his diplomatic privileges, so that it can exercise jurisdiction over him and/or execute a judgement against him. Sending states — though rarely — do waive diplomatic immunity when sufficient political pressure is exerted by the receiving state or because of reputational loss — or the risk of such loss — in the international community. In 1997, for instance, Georgia waived immunity for one of its diplomats who killed a teenaged girl in Washington, D.C. in a drunk-driving incident.

While not, strictly speaking, a case of waiving diplomatic immunity, the US military, after a series of rapes committed by its servicemen in South Korea, now lets its soldiers stationed there to be tried by South Korean courts. This is a marked change given that it had previously prevented this by arguing that a status of forces agreement between the two nations only allowed US courts to have jurisdiction over its service members in South Korea.

Alternatively, Pakistan can request the US to try Emmanuel for violations of American law in its domestic courts. Vehicular assaults arising out of traffic infractions and drunk driving are serious crimes in the US and diplomats do not enjoy immunity within their own states. In 2002 for example, a Russian diplomat was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Russia for killing a woman in Canada while driving drunk, and even though in 2006 the US did not waive the immunity of a marine stationed at its embassy in Romania for killing a Romanian musician in a drunk-driving accident, it did court martial him — eventually clearing him of negligent homicide, though finding him guilty of lesser crimes.

The law of diplomatic immunity is contentious be­ca­use of conflicting concerns. At one extreme, its critics view it as a remnant of archaic laws that is no longer equitable today; indeed, cynics argue that it is less a law stricto senso and more an expression of the messy realpolitik that governs international affairs.

For others, however, the view is that diplomats cannot engage in effective diplomacy without the benefit of such protections. Harassment from a hostile host state towards diplomats of a sending state can often bring diplomacy between the two states to a standstill, as has been witnessed between Pakistan and India.

When it comes to vehicular assaults committed by diplomatic personnel, some countries have also found ways to compensate victims without diluting the diplomatic immunity enjoyed by their representatives. For instance, both the US and the UK require all diplomatic vehicles to maintain insurance against third-party risks in order to financially compensate victims for loss of property and/or life.

To further minimise such risks, countries can also attempt to regulate or restrict the movement of diplomats or accept diplomatic appointments and credentials only after making careful assessments of the potential threat posed to civilian life and national security in the host country by the official concerned. Countries might even attempt to enter into a bilateral treaty laying out a framework for reciprocally waiving immunity for diplomatic agents if serious crimes — including vehicular assaults — are involved.

In the present scenario, however, it seems Pakistan will be unlikely to use any of these approaches for holding Emmanuel to account for his criminal recklessness. Recently, the Trump administration has cut aid and threatened punitive measures against Pakistan over its alleged support for the Afghan Taliban insurgency; it has also succeeded in getting Pakistan placed on a global terror-financing watch list in June. From the muted reaction of the Foreign Office, it seems Pakistan does not want to antagonise the US over the killing of 22-year-old Ateeq Baig.

The writer is former legal adviser to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, and faculty, Lums Law School.

 

First, Home To Bomb-Grade Uranium Plant, Now Nuclear Dump?–My Town, “Cancer Capital of Ohio”

‘Worse than what the public knows’

By Tom Corrigan – tcorrigan@aimmediamidwest.com

 


Former workers at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon claim the sickness they are now experiencing is a direct result of their employment at what is commonly referred to as the A-Plant.

Former workers at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon claim the sickness they are now experiencing is a direct result of their employment at what is commonly referred to as the A-Plant.

PIKETON — An outcry of opposition from local governments and residents may or may not be enough to stop construction of a permanent on-site waste disposal facility – or radioactive trash dump, it’s proper title depending on your point of view – at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon.

But there is another battle being fought over the plant, a battle that has been going on for far longer and likely could be considered more intense and certainly more personal than any argument over the waste facility.

On a recent Tuesday, about 25 to 30 persons on the frontlines of that second battle gathered as they do once a month at Ritchie’s Marketplace Grocery and Restaurant in Piketon. All claim they are sick. Sadly, some claim they are dying. They all claim their sickness is a direct result of their employment at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, also commonly referred to as the A-Plant.

Among the visitors is “Julia,” not her real name. Julia complains of COPD, skin cancer and other issues. Her complaints are not unusual. “Henry,” again, not his real name, talks about hearing loss, COPD and possibly Parkinson’s disease. Henry says the hearing loss is due not to any loud noise inside of the plant, the same type of noise one might encounter in any industrial setting, but blames his hearing loss directly on chemicals to which Portsmouth workers were exposed, allegedly without their knowledge.

Vina Colley is becoming well-known as the leader of Portsmouth-Piketon Residents for Safety and Security (PRESS.) She says, while the government has denied some of Henry’s health claims, they have approved some payment for his hearing loss, supposedly specifically allowing that loss was due to some type of exposure other than noise in the plant.

As you might expect, Colley and the others have numerous complaints against the government and, specifically, the program that governs compensation for persons who worked in nuclear facilities of some type or another. “It’s worse than what the public knows,” Colley says. She and the others allege the government shredded, along with other documents, badges workers were required to wear. The badges were supposed to measure levels of exposure to radiation or chemicals. In the opinion of the workers, having access to those badges, or at least the records of what those badges measured, obviously would be extremely helpful in proving their health claims.

About halfway through an interview, Julia claims she isn’t doing well and needs to leave the restaurant. As the conversation continues among those still present, one major topic on the minds of some of the former workers, including Colley, is whether plutonium was present at the Piketon plant. Colley admits the government, specifically the Department of Energy (DOE), now readily acknowledges there was plutonium in the plant. But she also insists they lied about it for some time, and still claims any plutonium present was diluted. She produces a letter sent to the DOE from the offices of then-senators Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, which alleged the plant’s own records showed there was undiluted plutonium in the plant.

In terms of any compensation due to workers, whether there was plutonium in the plant or not, may be a moot point. Energy worker compensation for health problems is governed by the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA.) Under the act, the Department of Labor (DOL) uses a site metric system (known as the SEM) which is intended to spell out what substances were present at various DOE sites and what site work processes might have caused workers to be exposed to those substances. The SEM also lists health problems potentially resulting from any exposure. The Portsmouth plant SEM lists numerous specific buildings at the site where plutonium was present along with over a dozen different jobs which may have exposed workers to the substance.

Under the heading “specific health effects,” the SEM lists none, stating the National Institute of Health hazard map “has not identified any occupational disease related to exposure to the substance.”

A DOL spokesperson did not respond in time for the deadline for this issue to questions about how the DOL can claim occupational exposure to plutonium carries no risk for disease. As you might expect, the SEM is not very popular with Colley and her cohorts.

“As you know, the database was set up to help identify workers exposures, yet in practice is being leveraged to deny compensation,” Colley said during her April 26, 2016, testimony to a Washington, D.C. committee.

According to the DOL website, 5,646 workers have made claims connected to their work at the diffusion plant. The compensation act divides claims into a couple of different categories. For what are called Part B filings, 3,013 claims have been approved, while 3,059 were denied. For Part E claims, 3,079 were approved; 3,817 denied. Again, according to the DOL, of the top 20 DOE sites nationwide where workers are eligible for compensation, the Portsmouth plant ranks 15th in terms of the number of claims submitted. Total compensation paid reaches more than $865 million. Despite what might seem like a large dollar amount in payouts, Colley and her group argue the government stacks the deck against workers. Colley flat out claims the government tries to delay compensation until a former worker dies, since survivor payments are cheaper than medical bills.

Tiffanee Moyer is a nurse for Critical Nurse Staffing, Inc., which works directly with local former energy workers. She said the government does indeed make workers jump through a lot of hoops to earn compensation.

“It takes a very long time for people to win approvals,” said Sydney Ehmke, outreach coordinator for the Atomic Resource Coalition (ARC), a national nonprofit which works to help former energy workers.

In the end, Colley and the others may never be satisfied. For every claim one side makes, the other side has a counterclaim. Colley swears there is a pipe pumping contaminated water from the Portsmouth plant directly into the Scioto River, something officials overseeing the dismantling of the plant flatly denied. (Colley even provided a photo of an open pipe with water flowing out of it, though there is no way to tell where that pipe sits from the photo alone.) Colley and the others also worry rank-and-file workers helping to take down the plant and build the waste disposal site are exposed to hazards of which they are not being told. A request for a response from current plant management was not recieved in time for this story. It is unclear if current workers would be eligible for compensation should problems arise.

As for the opposition to the storage facility, which would house debris from the plant and other sources on the grounds of the plant, a DOE spokesperson recently said her department would need to see a “fatal flaw” in the plans for the storage facility to reopen the record of decision approving construction of the storage site. In an email sent to The Daily Times, Piketon Mayor Billy Spencer said the fatal flaw is that the DOE lied to the public about the porous nature of the bed rock beneath the site of the proposed storage facility. Spencer did not respond to several requests for further comment. Piketon, Portsmouth and several other surrounding communities all have passed resolutions opposing construction of the storage site.

“Our federal government continues to ignore the people of southern Ohio, who are very clearly requesting the record of decision be reopened. We didn’t know they lied to us until after they made this decision,” Spencer said in his email.

Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931

STATEMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN ON U.S. GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWAL FROM THE JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION

MIN. FOREIGN AFFAIRS ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

STATEMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN ON U.S. GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWAL FROM THE JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION


STATEMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

ON U.S. GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWAL FROM THE JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION

TEHRAN, 10 MAY  2018

 

 

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful,

 

The unlawful withdrawal of the U.S. President from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) is but the final of long and persistent violations of this accord on the part of the United States, and especially since the coming into office of its new extremist Administration. Mr. Trump’s absurd insults against the great Iranian nation indicates the extent of his ignorance and folly. Moreover, his baseless charges against the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in fact befits a regime which has through its interventions dragged the Middle East into chaos and ignited terrorism and extremism; whose Zionist ally is engaged in unprecedented cruelty, violations of human rights and aggression; and whose regional clients gave birth to and nurtured terrorist groups, which Mr. Trump in a ridiculous claim linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is regrettable that this kind of individual now governs the civilized and peaceful American people.

Ever since his election campaign, Mr. Trump has declared his hatred of the JCPOA, an accord recognized as a victory of diplomacy by the international community. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has not only made explicit and official statements against the agreement in violation of its provisions, but has in practice also failed to implement U.S. practical – and not merely formal commitments under the JCPOA. The Islamic Republic of Iran has recorded these violations in numerous letters to the Joint Commission convened under the JCPOA, outlining the current U.S. Administration’s bad faith and continuous violations of the accord. Thus Mr. Trump’s latest action is not a new development but simply means the end of the obstructionist presence of the United States as a participant in the JCPOA.

The JCPOA is a multilateral accord adopted unanimously in a United Nations Security Council resolution, which in contrast with the claims of Mr. Trump, is not merely an agreement of his predecessor whose implementation can be ignored by a succeeding U.S. Administration.

This action on the part of the U.S. President is not limited to the JCPOA. Indeed, violations of law and breaking of commitments have become a pattern under the current U.S. Administration, going from the Paris Climate Accord to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was only due to the global consensus on the JCPOA and the accord’s inner strength that it took the United States Government sixteen months to explicitly and officially pull out.

Beyond further damaging the credibility of the United States on the world stage, the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA has put into question the foundation of international relations in today’s world, the credibility of accords entered into with the U.S. – whether bilaterally or multilaterally – and also put the present system of international law in serious danger.

Unlike the U.S., the Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to its international obligations and sees the upholding of such commitments as a fundamental religious principle and an incontrovertible norm which underpins international law. So far, Iran’s fulfilment of all its commitments under the JCPOA has been verified by the only  internationally recognized authority, namely the International Atomic Energy Agency, and repeatedly acknowledged by all parties to the JCPOA, including the U.S. As such, unfounded claims and ludicrous propaganda shows have no value or credibility within the JCPOA, especially since the International Atomic Energy Agency, following the accusations made by Trump and his accomplices, has again reiterated that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the accord.

Iran, as a country that has remained committed to its legal obligations, will pursue the U.S. Government’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA as provided by the mechanisms and provisions of the accord, and if the U.S. withdrawal is not fully compensated and the full interests of the Iranian people are not met and guaranteed – as stated in the accord and as outlined by Iran’s Leader on 9 May  – it will exercise its legal right to take whatever reciprocal measures it deems expedient. Other parties to the JCPOA, and especially its three European signatories, must take necessary action to safeguard the accord and to implement their commitments – which they proved incapable of fully performing even while the U.S. was nominally a party to the deal, due to the obstructions by the Trump Administration – and to proceed from giving pledges to taking practical action without any preconditions.

None of the provisions or timeframes within the JCPOA, which were the subject of twelve years of negotiations, are negotiable in any manner. The U.S., which has through its meddling and erroneous policies ignited extremism, terrorism, destruction, war and child killing in our region, is in no position to issue any diktat about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s lawful presence within its own region nor its effective support for the peoples of Syria and Iraq in their endeavor to fight extremists. The U.S. and its allies, which through their support for the regime of Saddam Hussein, including equipping it with chemical weapons and the most advanced military equipment while blocking Iran’s access to any means of defense victimized the Iranian people for eight years, and currently turning our region into a powder keg through their sale of hundreds of billions of dollars of useless advanced weaponry  devouring the financial resources of the region, are in no position to impose restrictions on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s lawful means of defense, including defensive ballistic missiles which have been designed to carry conventional weapons based on the bitter experiences of the war with the regime of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, such efforts explicitly violate the principles of international law, and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s legitimate right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

 

As announced by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 8 May, the Foreign Minister has been tasked with the duty of taking the necessary measures to obtain required guarantees from the remaining parties to the JCPOA as well as Iran’s other economic partners, and to immediately report the results of this mission. Meanwhile, the President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has been tasked with taking all necessary steps in preparation for Iran to pursue industrial-scale enrichment without any restrictions, using the results of the latest research and development of Iran’s brave nuclear scientists.

 

The people of Iran will with calm and confidence continue their path towards progress and development and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has foreseen all necessary measures to facilitate this under any circumstance.

 

The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a secure and powerful state, which derives its security and economic development from within, relying on the prudent participation and resilience of its brave and civilized people, seeks constructive and dignified engagement with the world, and as shown by its implementation of the JCPOA despite the United States’ continuous violations, is a trustworthy and committed partner for all who are prepared to cooperate on the basis of shared interests and mutual respect.


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Obama’s/Trump’s Syrian Kurds Guard Syrian Oil Assets Until Westerners Take Over

U.S. Builds Military Garrison At Largest Syrian Oil Field
The Battle for Palmyra, the Gem of Syrian Oil and Gas Industry
Syrian Oil Ministry Announces Huge Oil and Gas find offshore, the Next Day Obama Signs Ex. Order Freezing Syrian Assets
Rothschild’s Syria Oil Play
United States strongly helped Daesh in attempt to gain control over Syria’s oil
Today’s Drama Centers Around the Syrian Al-Tabiya Gas Field, 100 Syrian Soldiers Killed For Gas
Pentagon’s War Crimes Grow, They Just Laid Claim To Central Syria, Where Syria’s Oil Is

Syrian Kurds build on a ramshackle oil industry


This April 6, 2018 photo shows former farmer at a primitive refinery in a village controlled by a U.S-backed Kurdish group, in Rmeilan, Hassakeh province, Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

RMEILAN, Syria: Driving along the roads of northeastern Syria, one would imagine there is a massive economic boom in the war-ravaged area. Convoys of oil trucks, as many as 50 trucks in each, line the highways. They haul oil extracted from fields held by the Kurds, transporting it across the territory they control since driving out Daesh (ISIS).

But the oil industry is in shambles. After seven years of war, infrastructure is broken down and antiquated, there is no investment in the fields and the fight over control of oil resources is far from over.

Along the roads, old-style pump jacks bob up and down on wells. Kilometers away on the landscape, dark pillars of smoke rise from primitive, ramshackle refineries that look like giant piles of scrap metal. At one, workers covered in sludge operated burners to separate oil components. Large puddles of leaked crude dot the area.

The workers are locals, many of them farmers who can no longer earn a living from their fields. Kurdish authorities sell crude to private refiners, who then sell fuel and diesel back to them.

For maintenance, workers use spare parts that often date back to the ’60s, piled up in nearby warehouses. No new exploration is possible, so old wells are drying up, they say.

The Kurdish self-rule administration seized control of these oil fields in northeastern Hassakeh province after the government pulled out of most of the Kurdish-majority regions in 2012 to fight rebels elsewhere.

Abdel-Karim Malak, the Kurdish oil minister, said oil and gas are the self-rule administration’s main revenue source, though he wouldn’t divulge figures.

The Syrian government has vowed to eventually retake all the oil fields, but for the time being there is a quiet arrangement between it and the Kurds. Damascus buys much of the surplus oil that the Kurdish-run areas don’t use. Also, many employees of the government oil company have returned to work, still receiving their salaries from Damascus.

But the two sides have been in fierce competition further down the Euphrates River in Eastern Syria. Over the past months, the Kurds and government forces raced to capture Daesh territory, both aiming for the country’s biggest oil fields, in Deir al-Zor province.

The Kurds got there first, seizing the fields from Daesh. But they haven’t been able to operate them, because they are still battling Daesh remnants and have come under attack from government forces just across the Euphrates.

The Kurds eventually may try to keep oil fields or use them as a bargaining chip in negotiations. In the meantime, they are exploiting them as best they can.

Malak pointed to the lack of investment. Without modern refineries, “we are polluting the air here, we are polluting the environment,” he said. “But we are forced to do this.” If developed, he said, oil fields they control can produce more than half of Syria’s needs.

He said discussions with the Americans about future investment are ongoing, adding, “Our contracts will go to those who support us politically.”

Iran has another plan: a war of attrition that could be costly in human life to America and Israel

Is War at Hand Yet Again in the Middle East?

 

Hundreds of Protesters Wounded Amid Fresh Protests on Gaza-Israel Border

Rabat- Iran has probably lied about its nuclear program. But hasn’t Israel also?

It seems that the geographical name the Middle East is truly inappropriate for the region that has been unstable for over seven decades, experiencing many regional wars between Arabs and Israelis, between Iraqi Arabs and Americans, between Arabs and Iranians, and of course, Arab civil wars in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The region should probably be renamed the Warring East instead of the Middle East.

As a matter of fact, many Arab political analysts have tongue in cheek changed the name Middle East in Arabic (sharq al-awsat) into the humiliating name (sharq al-awsakh), meaning “the dirty east.”

The Middle East is, yet again, gearing up for another war, but this time it will probably be more destructive. A new war could last longer than protagonists’ plans on paper because, once ignited, nobody will be able to stop it unilaterally. The risks are very high and the gains are probably very low.

The drumbeat of war sounds again

On April 30, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented to the Israeli people, and by extension to the world, what he called evidence that Iran is lying. The media exercise was well-orchestrated to come just before the American campaign to disengage from the nuclear agreement with Iran and to engage in a potential war with it afterwards. The war-to-be will  be waged by America, Israel and all Saudi Arabia-allied Arab Sunnis in the region.

The conclusion was foreshadowed by an article in the British paper The Guardian, February 23, 2015, titled Leaked cables show Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad,” written masterfully by Seumas Milne, Ewen MacAskill and Clayton Swisher.

In the past, the Obama administration  was willing to give Iran a regional leadership role just short of becoming a nuclear power, but the current administration has other plans for the country: an Iran without nuclear capabilities and mullahs, a secular Iran that will not export its revolution or religion to neighboring countries and thereby threaten their stability.

The play within the play

In reality, Netanyahu did not come up with anything new; the whole world knows that Iran is working hard to become a nuclear power. It is no secret. It is an old dream that started with the Shah of Iran in the 1960s and continues today with open support from Russia, which wants to build an eastern coalition to counter American hegemony.

Nevertheless, it seems the coming war is fully scripted by Washington, and especially by the Trump administration. The main actors in the play are Trump himself in the leading role with Mohamed Ben Salman (MBS)  and Benjamin Netanyahu in support roles.

Since arriving in the Oval Office, Trump has been demonizing Iran and expressing willingness to pull the US out of the nuclear agreement. MBS, who recognized Israel’s statehood, joined Trump on stage to make the American-Israeli-Saudi alliance legitimate and official. In an interview with the Atlantic newsmagazine, he called the Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Hitler, imitating President Bush’s actions before declaring war on Saddam’s Iraq. And last, but not least, Netanyahu who, “brought to light” Iran’s hidden game, appears on stage.

Now that every actor has pronounced his faith, action will probably ensue after the holy month of Ramadan. The war will be executed by America and Israel, but Saudi Arabia’s role will be to finance the effort (or, if you will, produce the play). What else can Saudi Arabia do, anyway?

Netanyahu’s speech and the previous actions of MBS in recognizing Israel and demonizing Iran is similar to “the play within the play” in Shakespeare’s  Hamlet. Hamlet’s instruction on proper delivery to the actors could be seen as Trump coaching Netanyahu and MBS.

How is the war going to unfold?

America and Israel are hoping to conduct an aerial war, short and sweet. They will bombard the strategic locations where the nuclear installations are and destroy military targets to cripple Iran’s potential to respond adequately in the initial stages of the military operation.  America and Israel are not planning to commit ground forces to avoid colossal troop losses. They are banking on crippling the enemy with a massive initial blow that will probably lead to a popular uprising in the major cities of Iran that will finish off the regime.

But Iran has another plan: a war of attrition that could be costly in human life to America and Israel, and an uprising of Shiites in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. Iran will wage a total war. Attacks will come from Syria and Lebanon where Hezbollah will play a major role. Indeed Hezbollah’s missiles will rain on northern Israel and aim to maximize casualties.

If America and Israel are planning on a short war, Iran is planning a long and costly attrition war, which will reduce the Middle East to an inferno for a long period of time. There will be no navigation of the Persian Sea, no security in the air and no peace on land.

Iran’s strengths are:

1- Geographical depth

2- Shiite sense of sacrifice

3- Religious fervor and discipline

4- Military discipline and combat-readiness

Iran’s weaknesses are:

1- Aerial power weakness

2- Land encirclement

3- Lack of active alliances

Iranians are planning to wreak havoc on the Arab world, whom they suspect to be aligned with America and Israel. The Iranians will activate their dormant cells in the Arab world, and probably also in the West, to punish those who support the war. If Iran  has to go down the drain, they will incur as much damage as possible a la après moi le deluge.

Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of Foreign Policy and senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy and Energy Security and Climate Initiative, wrote in an article titled “After dumping the nuclear deal, Trump has no strategy for Iran” in Brookings:

“The premeditated American dismantling of an agreement that was the product of more than a decade of intense diplomacy and economic pressure marks a staggeringly counterproductive step. That it was undertaken over the vocal objections of Washington’s closest allies and without a clear strategy of mitigating the newly heightened risks of Iranian proliferation and conventional retaliation represents an abdication of American leadership on the international stage that is unparalleled in recent history.”

Expectations

The war might be destructive for Iran but that alone will not end the regime of the mullahs because they can rely on the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij to protect them from any internal uprising. So, the onslaught might diminish the mullahs’ power but it will not put an end to the theocracy at the country’s helm.

However, a weak Iran in the Middle East will be good news for Israel and its Arab allies, because it will lead to the probable downfall of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Alawites in Syria and the Houthis  in Yemen, ultimately destroying the Shiite Crescent in the Middle East and ending Iran’s expansionist dreams once and for all.

Consequently,  Israel will come out of the painful war as the only power in the region and even as a co-protector of Arab countries alongside America. The demise of Iran will foretell the demise of Hamas in Gaza, and Abbas will take over the strip and sign, under gentle pressure, a peace agreement  with Israel. Saudi Arabia will regain its leadership of the Muslim world, but will be totally broken.

All in all, if everyone plays his cards right, Israel will probably pay the biggest price in human casualties but will undoubtedly win big, destroying Hamas, reining in Abbas and emasculating the Arabs, gaining peace in the Middle East and a huge market for its exports.

A make-believe scenario

America, Israel and Saudi Arabia are probably heading to war for fear of destabilizing a region that already has so many problems: the Palestinian problem, the Syrian conflict, the Yemeni war, etc. What if these three countries are only putting pressure on Iran to make it abandon its nuclear program entirely, without firing a single shot?

These countries are attempting to create a North Korean scenario, whereby the Americans used tremendous pressure on North Korea to make it accept talks, first with South Korea, and later with the US, in order to arrange future denuclearization.

Will such pressure bring the mullahs to their senses and make them abandon their threats towards Israel and destabilization schemes vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia and the Sunni world?

The mullahs have always been practical and sensible in politics, and chances are they will choose moderation and negotiation to avoid annihilation. If they do so, Trump will have won a political gamble, adding to his apparent present success on the Korean peninsula. These two political breakthroughs will probably ensure his reelection against the odds and will prove him right by making America great again.

The war on Iran will, probably, be costly as all wars are anyway, but in the end it will probably be worthwhile if it brings peace to the region and a new era of much-needed cooperation and goodwill.

Will the war, if it ever happens, bring democracy to the Arab world, at long last? Or will Arabs continue to prefer bread over a political system of representation and full accountability? It is difficult to see the outcome because the horizon is very hazy. Only time can tell.

You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter:@Ayurinu

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.

Which side lies about Israel’s May 9th missiles-invasion of Syria?

Which side lies about Israel’s May 9th missiles-invasion of Syria?

Eric Zuesse

 

By

On the night of May 9th, Ynetnews, which is the online English-language website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-widely read newspaper, headlined an “Analysis” article, “A Preemptive Strike in Syria” and opened:

Even if Iran had no intention of launching missiles at Israel on Tuesday, the alleged Israeli strike came along and conveyed the following message to the Iranians: You raised the likelihood of an attack on Israel, so we’re raising the threat level, despite the tensions.

Their reporter said that the issue now would be, “We’re waiting to see what the Iranians will do: Will they continue the preparations for an attack” or stand down?

Also late on May 9th, Russian Television bannered, “Israel Launches Massive Missile Strikes in Syria” and opened:

Syrian air defenses have been deployed to thwart an attack by the Israeli rockets, Syria’s state SANA news agency reported. The bombing is reportedly being carried out by Israeli warplanes from Lebanese airspace. …

SANA has released footage of Syrian air defense systems responding to incoming missiles.

The Israeli strikes are seen as a continued retaliation to what Israel claims were some 20 rockets launched by Iran’s Quds Force from Syrian territory into the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights earlier in the night. The Israel Defense Forces said its Iron Dome systems intercepted some of the projectiles and the reported attack resulted in no injuries.

Also late on May 9th, the New York Times reported that,

A missile strike, apparently by Israel, south of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Tuesday

[May 8th], an hour after Mr. Trump’s announcement about the nuclear deal, killed 15 people, at least eight of them Iranians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

That strike, on the area of Al Kiswa, targeted facilities for the Syrian military and their Iranian allies. Israeli news media said that one of the targets was a convoy of missiles taken out of storage and heading to a launching site, and that the strike was pre-emptive.

That alleged Israeli “missile strike” against Damascus on Tuesday — which Israel did not deny — could have been the provocation for the alleged retaliation against Israel by Iranians in Syria late on Wednesday May 9th, which could have provoked Israel’s claimed “massive” missiles-retaliation soon thereafter.

The following day, May 10th, the BBC reported that, “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, confirmed that rockets were fired towards the occupied Golan. But it said the attack came after Israeli forces bombarded Baath, a town in the demilitarised zone.”

Also on May 10th, the Times of Israel newspaper bannered “Iranian military official denies firing rockets at Israel” and reported that Iran’s Government said it didn’t know anything about any missiles that might have been fired from Syrian territory into any Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights. Presumably if that rocket-firing had actually happened, Iran’s Government would have known about it, but they said they knew nothing about any such thing.

Also on May 10th, CNN reported, “Israel said more than 20 rockets were launched by Iranian forces in Syria in the direction of Israel late Wednesday, often criss-crossing in the clear night skies.” This allegation suggests that, if, as Israel alleged, 20 Iranian rockets were being fired from Syria into the Golan Heights on the night of May 9th, then simultaneously the Syrian anti-missiles were being fired against Israel’s missiles that were attacking Syria. In that scenario, during at least a portion of those exchanges, simultaneously both Syria’s anti-missiles and Israel’s (“Golden Dome”) anti-missiles would have been firing, in opposite directions.

However, as of yet, no evidence has been presented by Israel that any attack from Syria against any Israeli facility on the Golan happened. Israel says that it happened and that this alleged Iranian missiles-hit against an Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights caused Israel’s massive missiles-attack against Syria on May 9th.

So, thus far, that alleged Iranian hit by 20 missiles against Israel on the Golan is a ghost attack, which Israel cites to justify its massive ‘response’ — which no one disputes. Was it instead simply Israel’s unprovoked provocation, Israel’s sudden and unannounced and unjustified missiles-invasion against Syria, late on May 9th? Syria’s Government claims to have fired anti-missiles against the incoming Israeli missiles, but nothing else.

Neither side is yet presenting key evidence regarding which side fired first, and which side was the actual aggressor. Are both sides lying? However, during what seems to have been the beginning of the missile-exchanges, Israel’s leading newspaper did run the headline “A Preemptive Strike in Syria”. “Preemptive” means like George W.Bush’s 20 March 2003 invasion of Iraq was. That Israeli newspaper believes in ‘preemptive’ invasion now, and so did Americans believe in it in 2003. Today’s Israelis seem to be like Americans were in 2003 — and during America’s invasion of Libya in 2011, and invasion of Syria in 2012-, and invasion of Yemen in 2015-.

Momentous, Potentially Catastrophic Upcoming Weekend In Palestine–Remember the Nakba

Embassies, Nakba, Ramadan: All You Need to Know About Israel’s Roller-coaster Week

Now that the shooting has subsided with Iran in Syria, the focus is on a possible mass storming of the Gaza border on Nakba Day, just hours after the United States moves its embassy to Jerusalem

 

Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire near Gaza on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinians.
Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire near Gaza on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinians. Menahem Kahana / AFP

Israelis are no strangers to short stretches packed with historic and transformative events. But even for a country that has experienced turbulent times, the potential highs and lows of the upcoming week feel unprecedented.

Much of what will happen has been planned carefully, though surely no one behind the planning expected that the festivities and commemorations would follow the first significant exchanges of fire across the Syrian border in 40 years — which also marked the first military aggression on Israel directly attributable to Iran.

The drama on Israel’s border has yet to play out fully — neither has the previous week’s figurative bombshell — President Donald Trump’s announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and the reestablishment of economic sanctions.

The next chapter in this eventful week — and month — begins when the Jewish Sabbath ends Saturday evening and continues through Sunday: Jerusalem Day, the holiday marking the victory in the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel gained territory including the Old City of Jerusalem and the rest of East Jerusalem.

Increasingly, Jerusalem Day events have become a rallying point for the religious-Zionist community. In the Flag March, thousands pass through the Old City, entering from the Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate and gathering at the Western Wall. The growth of the event has been accompanied by unrest between the marchers and Palestinian residents of the Old City, including racist chants and physical harassment by the marchers as well as stone-throwing and scuffling between the two sides.

Last year’s event drew a record 60,000 participants — as well as hundreds of leftist activists and Palestinians who clashed with marchers and whose demonstration was violently dispersed by the police.

On Sunday evening, Jerusalem Day will transition into the celebration of the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The guest list for the Foreign Ministry reception includes Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other U.S. officials.

Israeli attendees will include the cabinet, the heads of Knesset committees, members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and members of the governing coalition. Also on hand will be some 30 foreign diplomats — out of 86 who were invited. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there drew sharp criticism from the Arab world and U.S. allies, who said the unilateral step could spark violence and damage peace prospects.

Men gather at the Western Wall on May 11, 2018 after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and to celebrate the moving of the embassy.
Men gather at the Western Wall on May 11, 2018 after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and to celebrate the moving of the embassy. Thomas Coex / AFP

Peace Now prepares

The embassy move is slated for Monday at 4 P.M. Israel time; 800 guests received gold-edged invitations from U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and his wife Tammy. The event marks the relocation of a limited number of offices from the Tel Aviv embassy, including Friedman’s office. The event will be attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Ivanka Trump, Kushner and Mnuchin. Other attendees include Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, and members of Congress.

At least one major demonstration is expected. Peace Now plans to gather outside the dedication ceremony for the new embassy, protesting the move and warning that it may harm Israeli security and chances for peace, given that the Palestinians want their future capital in Jerusalem as well.

On Tuesday, Nakba Day events begin. Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe; the Palestinians mark Nakba Day every year on May 15 — Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. The embassy move was deliberately set for this 70th anniversary. Israel celebrates its Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, so its festivities took place on April 18, leaving May 14 free for the embassy fest.

For Palestinians, Nakba Day is a day of mourning and anger, lamenting the more than 700,000 Arabs who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1947-49 war. Nakba Day commemorations locally and internationally often call for a full return of the refugees, and in some cases, Israel’s destruction.

Hamas threatens the border

Events are scheduled to take place across the West Bank and Israel itself, including a large march in Nablus, several events in Ramallah and a ceremony in front of Tel Aviv University. But this year the spotlight will be on Gaza, where Hamas’ leaders have threatened a mass storming of the border to destroy the border fence, symbolizing the suffering in Gaza and the Palestinian refugees’ claim to a right of return to Israel. Israel is bracing for a mass event that day that could lead to more deaths; more than 40 people have been killed in clashes with the Israeli army since March 30.

The announcement in February that the United States had chosen the day before Nakba Day for the embassy move angered Palestinians.

A demonstrator uses a racket to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops at the border in southern Gaza, May 11, 2018.
A demonstrator uses a racket to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops at the border in southern Gaza, May 11, 2018.Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

“They deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, the Nakba, as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury,” tweeted a Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, when the date was first announced. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has said it would “provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people, as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe.”

As if the scheduling weren’t potentially explosive enough, the evening of Nakba Day — Tuesday — also marks the beginning of the month-long observance of Ramadan, when Muslims embark on a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts. In recent years, encouraged by calls from the Islamic State to show devotion to religion through violent action, Ramadan has seen an increase in Islamist-inspired terrorist incidents around the world.

Last year’s Ramadan, while starting peacefully in Israel and the West Bank, was marred by an attack that killed a woman in the Border Police, Hadas Malka, and wounded a number of others. Israel then revoked permits letting Palestinians visit Israel for the holiday. Normally, during the month-long observance, Israel gives thousands of Palestinians special permission to enter Israel to visit family on weekdays, allowing them greater access to the Temple Mount.

Finally, following Nakba Day, there will be another embassy move to mark. Although technically Guatemala moved its embassy to Jerusalem’s Malha Technology Park last week, the ceremony celebrating the event is set for Wednesday — two days after the U.S. ceremony. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is expected to be on hand.

Paraguay also announced plans last week to move its embassy to Jerusalem. President Horacio Cartes will attend the ceremony, which the country says will take place by the end of May — though presumably not during the already action-packed upcoming week.

Did Russian For. Min. Ryabkov Fly To Teheran Before Israeli Missile Strike To Warn Iran, Or To Save Face?

Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran Abbas Araghchi

10-05-2018

On May 10, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov held consultations with Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran Abbas Araghchi in Tehran.

The sides focused on prospects for the further implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Iranian nuclear programme after the withdrawal of the United States from it. The Russian side underscored its commitment to preserving the agreement. Russia and Iran agreed to continue closely coordinating their efforts on this matter in the interests of ensuring bilateral cooperation.

They also discussed some other issues of mutual interest.

Putin Afraid To Cross the Jews, Surrenders To Netanyahu Demands To Break S-300 Missile Contract and Promises w/Syria

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is not in talks with the Syrian government about supplying advanced S-300 ground-to-air missiles and does not think they are needed, the Izvestia daily cited a top Kremlin aide as saying on Friday, in an apparent U-turn by Moscow.


FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 9, 2018. Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool/File Photo via REUTERS

The comments, by Vladimir Kozhin, an aide to President Vladimir Putin who oversees Russian military assistance to other countries, follow a visit to Moscow by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, who has been lobbying Putin hard not to transfer the missiles.

Russia last month hinted it would supply the weapons to President Bashar al-Assad, over Israeli objections, after Western military strikes on Syria. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the strikes had removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold the missiles and Russia’s Kommersant daily cited unnamed military sources as saying deliveries might begin imminently.

But Kozhin’s comments, released so soon after Netanyahu’s Moscow talks with Putin, suggest the Israeli leader’s lobbying efforts have, for the time being, paid off.

FILE PHOTO: An S-300 air defense missile system launches a missile during the Keys to the Sky competition at the International Army Games 2017 at the Ashuluk shooting range outside Astrakhan, Russia August 5, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

“For now, we’re not talking about any deliveries of new modern (air defence) systems,” Izvestia cited Kozhin as saying when asked about the possibility of supplying Syria with S-300s.

The Syrian military already had “everything it needed,” Kozhin added.

The Kremlin played down the idea that it had performed a U-turn on the missile question or that any decision was linked to Netanyahu’s visit.

“Deliveries (of the S-300s) were never announced as such,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call, when asked about the matter.

“But we did say after the (Western) strikes (on Syria) that of course Russia reserved the right to do anything it considered necessary.”

The possibility of missile supplies to Assad along with its military foray into Syria itself has helped Moscow boost its Middle East clout. with Putin hosting everyone from Netanyahu to the presidents of Turkey and Iran and the Saudi king.


FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive for the Victory Day parade, marking the 73rd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

ISRAELI LOBBYING

Israel has made repeated efforts to persuade Moscow not to sell the S-300s to Syria, as it fears this would hinder its aerial capabilities against arms shipments to Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah. Israel has carried out scores of air strikes against suspected shipments.

On Thursday, Israel said it had attacked nearly all of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria after Iranian forces fired rockets at Israeli-held territory. S-300s could have significantly complicated the Israeli strikes.

The missile system, originally developed by the Soviet military, but since modernised and available in several versions with significantly different capabilities, fires missiles from trucks and is designed to shoot down military aircraft and short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

Though since been superseded by the more modern S-400 system, the S-300s are still regarded as highly potent and outstrip anything that the Syrian government currently has.

Syria currently relies on a mixture of less advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft systems to defend its air space.

Russian media on Friday were actively circulating a video released by the Israeli military which showed an Israeli missile destroying one such system — a Russian-made Pantsir S-1 air defence battery — on Thursday in Syria.

Additional reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Richard Balmforth

US Spec. Forces (Green Berets) Killed In Niger Died Because They Were Poorly Trained

[SEE: OCT 2017 NIGER AMBUSH, SUMMARY OF INVESTIGATION]

US Soldiers Died In Niger Due To Poor Training, Pentagon Report Concludes

A month-long military investigation into the ISIS ambush in Niger last October found “individual, organizational, and institutional failures” led to the deadly attack, which claimed the lives of four U.S. soldiers — Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright and Sgt. La David T. Johnson.

Apart from the four, five Nigerian soldiers were killed and eight Nigeriens and two Americans were wounded when a group of armed Islamic State militants attacked them in Tongo Tongo, Niger, on Oct. 4 while they were returning to base after a mission.

An eight-page report, released by the Pentagon on Thursday, listed insufficient training, lack of rehearsals, poor planning and command mistakes as reasons that resulted in the deadly incident. It said the soldiers “did not conduct pre-mission rehearsals or battle drills with their partner force [Nigerien soldiers]” prior to the mission.

As part of the investigation, the team “examined documentary, photographic, audio, video, and testimonial evidence to make findings of fact. It interviewed 143 witnesses, including survivors of the attack, one of whom accompanied the team back to the battlefield to explain what happened during the 4 October 2017 incident.”

The probe team, however, said “no single failure or deficiency was the sole reason for the events.”

The report also states the mission didn’t get required senior command approval. On Oct. 3, two junior officers “inaccurately characterized the nature of the mission” to get approval from a higher ranking officer for an operation targeting a local ISIS leader. The officials did not inform about this mission to the higher-ups and instead, a much lower risk mission was submitted and approved, it added.

“The initial concept of operations submitted for this mission was not approved at the proper level of command,” the report stated.

However, Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, who led the Pentagon probe, said Thursday it “wasn’t a deliberate intent to deceive.”

Members of the 3rd Special Forces Group, 2nd battalion cry at the tomb of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson at his burial service in the Memorial Gardens East cemetery in Hollywood, Florida, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo: GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking to journalists at the Pentagon on Thursday, U.S. Africa Command (Africom) head Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said necessary changes were made following the incident to make U.S. forces deployed in Africa safer.

“We are now far more prudent in our missions,” said Waldhauser. “The missions we actually accompany on have to have some type of strategic value in terms of the enemy we’re going against.”

“I will ensure that lessons learned [from the incident] are communicated to all levels within Africom as well as within the component commands, and integrate these changes into our daily operational activities. I take ownership of all the events connected to the ambush of 4 October. Again, the responsibility is mine,” he added.

Speaking about lack of training, he said: “In an operation where you’re under enemy contact, you need to be able to operate like clockwork without having to speak because you know the drills. In this particular case, the team did not conduct those basic soldier level skills that would, that are really necessary to go on an operation such as this.”

(Reality Reversal) Israeli airstrikes have minimal impact–Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

“Abdurrahman, who is linked with a network of activists inside Syria, added that 40-45 percent of incoming Israeli missiles were destroyed by the Assad regime and their allies’ air defenses.”

Israeli airstrikes have minimal impact, says Syrian monitoring group

File photo showing soldiers loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad forces at Al-Qadam area near Damascus, Syria. (Reuters)

LONDON: Israeli strikes on Iranian and Assad regime army bases in Syria sending a strong message that Tel Aviv will not allow militias loyal to Iran to threaten Israel’s security have been dismissed as having “minimal impact” by a Syrian monitoring group in London.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,told Arab News that last night’s strike by Israel on Iranian and Syrian targets was for media consumption.

Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the SOHR, said the Israeli defense minister’s comments on the scale of the strike were “mere publicity.”

Abdurrahman, who is linked with a network of activists inside Syria, added that 40-45 percent of incoming Israeli missiles were destroyed by the Assad regime and their allies’ air defenses.

He added that all options remain open, but the world must watch to see how Russia, with its extensive presence in Syria, reacts.

“One could say that Russia succeeded in containing the situation, preventing further military escalation, but Iran has a large presence in Syria from the Iraq border at Al Bo Kamal all the way to Lebanon”.

The Syrian Observatory earlier listed more than 12 sites targeted in the Israeli raids, including several air defense sites around south western Damascus and the military air strips of Masseh, Shuerat and Khalkhaleh.

The Israelis also attacked two elite army divisions loyal to the Assad regime, the 4th Armored Division, the Republican Guard, and 60th Brigade and hit Kesweh, a high security area that houses key regime and Iranian intelligence units.

Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad Interview w/Greek Kathimerini News–FULL INTERVIEW

Exclusive interview with Syria’s Assad in Kathimerini on Thursday [VIDEO]

President al-Assad to Greek Kathimerini newspaper:

“Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the army of the Turkish, US, and Saudi regimes”–Pres. Bashar al-Assad

 

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad said that France, Britain, and the US, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey are responsible for the war in Syria due to their support of the terrorism, describing the Western allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Army as a farce and a very primitive play whose only goal is to attack the Syrian Army after the defeat of terrorists.

In an interview given to the Greek Kathimerini newspaper, President al-Assad said that Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the army of the Turkish, US, and Saudi regimes, stressing that any aggressor and any army, whether Turkish, French, or whoever, they are all enemies as long as they came to Syria illegally.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. It’s a pleasure to be here in Damascus.

President Assad: You’re most welcome in Syria.

Question 1: Let me ask you first of all, you know, there’s been accusation by the US and the Europeans about the use of chemical weapons, and there was an attack after that. What is your response to that? Was there a chemical attack? Were you responsible for it?

President Assad: First of all, we don’t have any chemical arsenal since we gave it up in 2013, and the international agency for chemical weapons made investigations about this, and it’s clear or documented that we don’t have. Second, even if we have it, we wouldn’t use it, for many different reasons. But let’s put these two points aside, let’s presume that this army has chemical weapons and it’s in the middle of the war; where should it be used? At the end of the battle? They should use it somewhere in the middle, or where the terrorists made advancement, not where the army finished the battle and terrorists gave up and said “we are ready to leave the area” and the army is controlling fully that area. So, the Western narrative started after the victory of the Syrian Army, not before. When we finished the war, they said “they used chemical weapons.”

Second, use of mass destruction armaments in a crammed area with a population like Douma – the supposed area, it’s called Douma and they talk about 45 victims- when you use mass destruction armaments in such an area, you should have hundreds or maybe thousands of victims in one time. Third, why all the chemical weapons, the presumed or supposed chemical weapons, only kill children and women? They don’t kill militants. If you look at the videos, it’s completely fake. I mean, when you have chemical weapons, how could the doctors and nurses be safe, dealing with the chemical atmosphere without any protective clothes, without anything, just throwing water at the victims, and the victims became okay just because you washed them with water. So, it’s a farce, it’s a play, it’s a very primitive play, just to attack the Syrian army, because… Why? That’s the most important part, is that when the terrorists lost, the US, France, UK, and their other allies who want to destabilize Syria, they lost one of their main cards, and that’s why they had to attack the Syrian Army, just to raise the morale of the terrorists and to prevent the Syrian Army from liberating more areas in Syria.

Question 2: But are you saying that there was an incident of chemical attack and someone else is responsible, or that there was nothing there?

President Assad: That’s the question, because, I mean, the side who said – allegedly – that there was a chemical attack, had to prove that there was an attack. We have two scenarios: either the terrorists had chemical weapons and they used them intentionally, or maybe there was explosions or something, or there was no attack at all, because in all the investigations in Douma people say “we didn’t have any chemical attack, we didn’t see any chemical gas, or didn’t smell” and so on. So, we don’t have any indications about what happened. The Western narrative is about that, so that question should be directed to the Western officials who said there was an attack. We should ask them: where is your concrete evidence about what happened? They only talk about reports. Reports could be allegations. Videos by the White Helmets, the White Helmets are funded by the British Foreign Office, and so on.

Question 3: President Trump, in a tweet, used a very strong expression. He said “animal Assad.” You remember that? What is your response to that?

President Assad: Actually, when you are in that position, I mean president of a country, you have first of all to represent the morals of your people before representing your own morals. You are representing your country. Question: does this language represent the American culture? That is the question. This is very bad, and I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s a community in the world that has such language. Second, the good thing about Trump is that he expresses himself in a very transparent way, which is very good in that regard. Personally, I don’t care, because I deal with the situation as a politician, as a president. It doesn’t matter for me personally; what matters is whether something would affect me, would affect my country, our war, the terrorists, and the atmosphere that we are living in.

Question 4: He said that his mission was accomplished. He said “mission accomplished in Syria.” How do you feel about that?

President Assad: I think maybe the only mission accomplished was when they helped ISIS escape from Raqqa, when they helped them, and it was proven by video, and under their cover, the leaders of ISIS escaped Raqqa, going toward Deir Ezzor just to fight the Syrian Army. The other mission accomplished was when they attacked the Syrian Army at the end of 2016 in the area of Deir Ezzor when ISIS was surrounding Deir Ezzor, and the only force was the Syrian Army. I mean, the only force to defend that city from ISIS was the Syrian Army, and because of the Americans’ – and of course their allies’ – attack, Deir Ezzor was on the brink of falling in the hand of ISIS. So, this is the only mission that was accomplished. If he’s talking about destroying Syria, of course that’s another mission accomplished. While if you talk about fighting terrorism, we all know very clearly that the only mission the United States have been doing in Syria is to support the terrorists, regardless of their names, of the names of their factions.

Question 5: But, I mean, he was using such language with the North Korean leader, and now they’re going to meet. Could you potentially see yourself meeting with Trump? What would you tell him if you saw him face to face?

President Assad: The first question you should ask, whether to meet or to make contact or whatever, what can you achieve? The other question: what can we achieve with someone who says something before the campaign, and does the opposite after the campaign, who says something today, and does the opposite tomorrow, or maybe in the same day. So, it’s about consistency. Do they have the same frequency every day, or the same algorithm? So, I don’t think in the meantime we can achieve anything with such an administration. A further reason is that we don’t think the president of that regime is in control. We all believe that the deep state, the real state, is in control, or is in control of every president, and this is nothing new. It has always been in the United States, at least during the last 40 years, at least since Nixon, maybe before, but it’s becoming starker and starker, and the starkest case is Trump.

Question 6: When is your mission going to be accomplished, given the situation here in Syria now?

President Assad: I have always said, without any interference, it will take less than a year to regain stability in Syria; I don’t have any doubt about this. The other factor is how much support the terrorists receive; this is something I cannot answer, because I cannot foretell. But as long as it continues, time is not the main factor. The main factor is that someday, we’re going to end this conflict and we’re going to re-unify Syria under the control of the government. When? I cannot answer. I hope it’s going to be soon.

Question 7: Now, there was some criticism lately, because you apparently have a law that says that anybody that doesn’t claim their property within a month, they cannot come back. Is that a way to exclude some of the people who disagree with you?

President Assad: No, we cannot dispossess anyone from their property by any law, because the constitution is very clear about the ownership of any Syrian citizen. This could be about the procedure. It’s not the first time we have such a law just to re-plan the destroyed and the illegal areas, because you’re dealing with a mixture of destroyed and illegal suburbs in different parts of Syria. So, this law is not about dispossessing anyone. You cannot, I mean even if he’s a terrorist, let’s say, if you want to dispossess someone, you need a verdict by the judicial system, I mean, you cannot make it by law. So, there’s either misinterpretation of that law, or an intention, let’s say, to create a new narrative about the Syrian government in order to rekindle the fire of public opinion in the West against the Syrian government. But about the law, I mean, even if you want to make a procedure, it’s about the local administration, it’s about the elected body in different areas, to implement that law, not the government.

Question 8: Now, who are your biggest allies in this fight? Obviously, they are Russia and Iran. Are you worried that they might play too an important role in the future of the country after this war is over?

President Assad: If you talk about my allies as a president, they are the Syrian people. If you talk about Syria’s allies, of course they’re the Iranians and the Russians. They are our strongest allies, and of course China that supported us politically in the Security Council. As for them playing an important role in the future of the country, these countries respect Syria’s sovereignty and national decision making and provide support to insure them. So, it doesn’t make sense for these countries to take part in a war to help Syria defend its sovereignty, and at the same time violate or interfere with this sovereignty. Iran and Russia are the countries which respect Syria’s sovereignty the most.

Question 9: How about Turkey now? Turkey did an intrusion, an invasion of part of your country. You used to have a pretty good relationship with President Erdogan. How is that relationship now after that intrusion?

President Assad: First of all, this is an aggression, this is an occupation. Any single Turkish soldier on Syrian soil represents occupation. That doesn’t mean the Turkish people are our enemies. Only a few days ago, we had a political delegation coming from Turkey. We have to distinguish between the Turks in general and Erdogan. Erdogan is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Maybe he’s not organized, but his affiliation is toward that ideology, I call it this dark ideology. And for him, because, like the West, when the terrorists lost control of different areas, and actually they couldn’t implement the agenda of Turkey or the West or Qatar or Saudi Arabia, somebody had to interfere. This is where the West interfered through the recent attacks on Syria, and this is where Erdogan was assigned by the West, mainly the United States, to interfere, to make the situation complicated, again because without this interference, the situation would have been resolved much faster. So, it’s not about personal relations. The core issue of the Muslim Brotherhood anywhere in the world is to use Islam in order to take control of the government in your country, and to create multiple governments having this kind of relation, like a network of Muslim Brotherhoods, around the world.

Question 10: In an election campaign rally, he said that two days ago, that he’s going to do another intrusion into Syria. How are you going to respond to that if it happens?

President Assad: Actually, since the very beginning of the war, Erdogan supported the terrorists, but at that time, he could hide behind words like “protecting the Syrian people, supporting the Syrian people, supporting the refugees, we are against the killing,” and so on. He was able to appear as a humanitarian president, let’s say. Now, because of these circumstances, he has to take off the mask and show himself as the aggressor, and this is the good thing. So, there is no big difference between the Turkish head of regime Erdogan sending his troops to Syria, and supporting the terrorists; this is his proxy. So, we’ve been fighting seven years his army. The difference actually between now and then is the appearance; the core is the same. At that time, we couldn’t talk about occupation, we could talk about supporting terrorists, but this time we could talk about occupation, which is the announcement of Erdogan that he’s now violating the international law, and this could be the good part of him announcing this.

Question 11: But how can you respond to that?

President Assad: First of all, we are fighting the terrorists, and as I said, the terrorists for us are his army, they are the American army, the Saudi army. Forget about the different factions and who is going to finance those factions; at the end, they work for one agenda, and those different players obey one master: the American master. Erdogan is not implementing his own agenda; he’s only implementing the American agenda, and the same goes for the other countries in this war. So, first of all, you have to fight the terrorists. Second, when you take control of more areas, you have to fight any aggressor, any army. The Turkish, French, whoever, they are all enemies; as long as they came to Syria illegally, they are our enemies.

Question 12: Are you worried about the potential third world war starting here in Syria? I mean, you have the Israelis hitting the Iranians, you know, here in your own country. You have the Russians, you have the Americans. Are you concerned about that possibility?

President Assad: No, for one reason: because fortunately, you have a wise leadership in Russia, and they know that the agenda of the deep state in the United States is to create a conflict. Since the campaign of Trump, the main agenda was against Russia, create a conflict with Russia, humiliate Russia, undermine Russia, and so on. And we’re still in the same process under different titles or by different means. Because of the wisdom of the Russians, we can avoid this. Maybe it’s not a full-blown third world war, but it is a world war, maybe in a different way, not like the second and the first, maybe it’s not nuclear, but it’s definitely not a cold war; it’s something more than a cold war, less than a full-blown war. And I hope we don’t see any direct conflict between these super powers, because this is where things are going to be out of control for the rest of the world.

Question 13: Now, there’s a very important question about whether Syria can be a unified, fully-sovereign country again. Is that really possible after all this that has happened?

President Assad: It depends on what the criteria of being unified or not is. The main factor to have a unified country is to have unification in the minds of the people, and vice versa. When those people look at each other as foreigners, they cannot live with each other, and this is where you’re going to have division. Now, if you want to talk about facts and reality, not my opinion, I can tell you no, it’s not going to be divided, and of course we’re not going to accept that, but it’s not about my will or about my rhetoric, to say we’re going to be unified; it’s about the reality. The reality, now, if you look at Syria during the crisis, not only today, since the very beginning, you see all the different spectrums of the Syrian society living with each other, and better than before. These relationships are better than before, maybe because of the effect of the war. If you look at the areas under the control of the terrorists, this is where you can see one color of the Syrian society, which is a very, very, very narrow color. If you want to talk about division, you have to see the line, the separation line between either ethnicities or sects or religions, something you don’t see. So, in reality, there’s no division till this moment; you only have areas under the control of the terrorists. But what led to that speculation? Because the United States is doing its utmost to give that control, especially now in the eastern part of Syria, to those terrorists in order to give the impression that Syria cannot be unified again. But it’s going to be unified; I don’t have any doubt about that.

Question 14: But why would the US do this if you’re fighting the same enemy: Islamic terrorism?

President Assad: Because the US usually have an agenda and they have goals. If they cannot achieve their goals, they resort to something different, which is to create chaos. Create chaos until the whole atmosphere changes, maybe because the different parties will give up, and they will give-in to their goals, and this is where they can implement their goals again, or maybe they change their goals, but if they cannot achieve it, it’s better to weaken every party and create conflict, and this is not unique to Syria. This has been their policy for decades now in every area of this world. That’s why, if you see conflicts around the world, after the British, the Americans are responsible for every conflict between different countries everywhere on this globe.

Question 15: Do you feel you’ve made any mistakes in dealing with this crisis and the civil war, when it started, if you look back?

President Assad: If I don’t make mistakes, I’m not human; maybe on daily basis sometimes. The more you work, the more complicated the situation, the more mistakes you are likely to make. But how do you protect yourself from committing mistakes as much as possible? First of all, to consult the largest proportion of the people, not only the institutions, including the parliament, syndicates, and so on. But also the largest amount of this society, or the largest part of the society, to participate in every decision.

While if you talk about the way I behaved toward, or the way I led, let’s say, the government or the state during the war, the main pillars of the state’s policy were to fight terrorism – and I don’t think that fighting terrorism was wrong – to respond to the political initiatives from different parties externally and internally regardless of their intentions, to make a dialogue with everyone – including the militants, and finally to make reconciliation; I don’t think we can say that this was wrong. So, about the pillars of our policy, I think the reality has proven that we were right. About the details, of course, you always have mistakes.

Question 16: Now, how much is it going to cost to reconstruct this country, and who is going to pay for this?

President Assad: Hundreds of billions, the minimum is two hundred, and in some estimations it’s about four hundred billion dollars. Why it’s not precise? Because some areas are still under the control of the terrorists, so we couldn’t estimate precisely what is the number. So, this is plus or minus, let’s say.

Question 17: Now, there is a lot of speculation, people say in order for a political solution to be viable, you might have to sacrifice yourself for the good of the country, you know this, that kind of speculation. Is that something that crosses you mind?

President Assad: The main part of my future, as a politician, is two things: my will and the will of the Syrian people. Of course, the will of the Syrian people is more important than my will; my desire to be in that position or to help my country or to play a political role, because if I have that desire and will and I don’t have the public support, I can do nothing, and I will fail, and I don’t have a desire to fail. After seven years of me being in that position, if I don’t have the majority of the Syrian people’s support, how could I withstand for more than seven years now, with all this animosity by the strongest countries and by the richest countries? Who supports me? If the Syrian people are against me, how can I stay? How could I achieve anything? How could we withstand? So, when I feel that the Syrian people do not want me to stay anymore, of course I have to leave without any hesitation.

Question 18: But you know, there is a lot of blood that has, you know, taken place, and all that, so can you see yourself sitting across from the opposition and sharing, you know, power in some way?

President Assad: When you talk about blood, you have to talk about who created that blood. I was president before the war for ten years, had I been killing the Syrian people for ten years? No, definitely not. So, the conflict started because somebody, first of all part of the West, supported those terrorists, and they bear the responsibility for this war. So first of all the West, who provided military and financial support and political cover, and who stood against the Syrian people, who impoverished the Syrian people and created a better atmosphere for the terrorists to kill more Syrian people. So, part of the West – mainly France, UK, and US, and also Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey are responsible for this part. It’s not enough to say there is blood; this is a very general term. Of course there is blood; it’s a war, but who’s responsible? Those who are responsible should be held accountable.

Question 19: Now, it’s been a few years since you visited Greece. Your father had a very close relation with some of the Greek political leaders. How have the relations been between Greece and Syria these days, and what kind of message would you like to send to the Greek people?

President Assad: At the moment, there are no formal relations between Syria and Greece; the embassies are closed, so there are no relations. At the same time, Greece wasn’t aggressive towards what happened in Syria. It always supported a political solution, it never supported war or attacks against Syria. You didn’t play any role to support the terrorists, but at the same time, as a member – and an important member – of the EU, you couldn’t play any role, let’s say, in refraining the other countries from supporting the terrorists, violating the international law by attacking and besieging a sovereign country without any reason, without any mandate by the Security Council. So, we appreciate that Greece wasn’t aggressive, but at the same time, I think Greece has to play that role, because it’s part of our region. It is part of the EU geographically, but it’s a bridge between our region and the rest of Europe, and it’s going to be affected, and it has been affected by the refugee situation, and the terrorism now has been affecting Europe for the last few years, and Greece is part of that continent. So, I think it’s normal for Greece to start to play its role in the EU in order to solve the problem in Syria and protect the international law.

Journalist: Thank you very much Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you.