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American Resistance To Empire

Trump Starts Regime Change War In S. America, By Giving Notorious Repub/Neocon War Criminal Elliot Abrams the Job of Venezuelan Dissection

US special envoy for Venezuela has long, controversial history in Latin America

“Few members of the Iran-contra crew more symbolized the lawlessness of the Reagan Administration than Mr. Abrams.”

 

Elliott Abrams
Elliott Abrams, who served in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, is a well-known and somewhat controversial figure in U.S. foreign policy circles. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images 

Elliott Abrams, a controversial neoconservative figure who was entangled in the Iran-Contra affair, has been named as a Trump administration special envoy overseeing policy toward Venezuela, which has been rocked by a leadership crisis.

Trump Commits Open War Crime, Sending Colombian Mafia and US Slave State Colombian Operatives To Kill Real Venezuelan Pres. Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Warns of CIA and Pentagon Assassination Plot–Mar 18, 2013

Mossad Trainer of Columbian Cartel Assassins Released From Russian Prison

Zionist torturers and Colombian oligarchs–(Yair Klien and MAS Death Squads)

Israel Recognises Guaido as Venezuela’s President – Netanyahu

Maduro claims Trump ordered Columbian government and mafia to kill him

Maduro claims Trump ordered Columbian government and mafia to kill him

“Without a doubt, Donald Trump gave the order to kill me, told the Colombian government, the Colombian mafia, to kill me. If something happens to me, Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque will be responsible,” Maduro told RIA Novosti.

Maduro, however, expressed confidence in his country’s security services.

“I am always protected by the Venezuelan people, we have a good intelligence service,” he said.

US pawn that can be discarded any time’– Max Blumenthal on ‘president’ Guaido

Maduro also claimed that White House National Security Adviser John Bolton has prevented Trump from communicating with the Venezuelan government. The Venezuelan president told RIA Novosti that he has repeatedly tried – but failed – to reach out to the US leader.

“For all these years, I have been trying on a personal level [to establish dialogue] … But Bolton prevented Donald Trump from initiating a dialogue with Nicolas Maduro. I have the information that he has prohibited this,” Maduro said.

US threatens ‘serious consequences’ if Venezuela arrests ‘president’ Guaido

 

Maduro and his government are currently being challenged by Juan Guaido, the US-backed leader of the country’s National Assembly. Guaido declared himself interim president last week, and has received open support from Washington and its Western allies.

Jordan Times Tackles Horribly Misguided Western Policies and Plans For Syria

MADRID — In March 2018, Syrian President Bashar Assad had himself filmed as he drove his car through the rubble-filled streets of Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus. At that time, seven years after the start of Syria’s civil war, Assad’s forces were gaining ground from rebel groups who had been under siege there for half a decade. The images, showing the triumphant return of an apparently relaxed Assad, were clearly propaganda. However, they also summarised these tragic years of conflict: Syria has been devastated, but Assad is still there.

Numbers alone cannot capture the magnitude of the humanitarian disaster, but they provide necessary perspective. In 2011, when the war began, Syria had 21 million inhabitants. Nearly eight years later, approximately half-a-million of them had died from violence, caused mainly by pro-Assad forces, more than 5.5 million have been registered as refugees, and more than 6 million are internally displaced. These numbers reflect the failure of an “international community” that, in Syria and so many other contexts, has proved unworthy of its name.

Profound divisions in the United Nations Security Council have prevented a concerted response to the Syrian crisis. To a large degree, these are the result of NATO’s military intervention in Libya, which was authorised by the Security Council, with Russia and China abstaining, just when hostilities in Syria were beginning. The intervention in Libya exceeded its humanitarian mandate and became fixated on removing the country’s leader, Muammar Qadhafi, who was brutally murdered shortly after rebels captured him.

That episode has made Russia and China even more distrustful, if that were possible, of any military intervention in the name of the “responsibility to protect”, a doctrine invoked in response to Gaddafi’s excesses. Vetoes in the Security Council have been increasing, with Russia having so far blocked 12 resolutions concerning Syria. China, which has used its veto power in the Security Council on only 11 occasions, has also blocked six of these resolutions. One of the joint vetoes by China and Russia prevented the case of Syria from being referred to the International Criminal Court, in contrast to an earlier unanimous Security Council resolution that had approved a referral in the case of Libya.

With multilateralism paralysed, the course of the war in Syria has been shaped by the geopolitical interests of the major international powers. Any semblance of humanitarianism has been limited to relatively minor and fairly unproductive resolutions, specific agreements such as that concluded by the United States and Russia to destroy the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons and questionable bombings intended to punish flagrant violations of the latter agreement. The only consensus that has proven to be moderately robust, and fruitful, has led to the fight against Daesh, which has left the organisation badly damaged, though not yet defeated.

Given these difficulties, diplomacy in Syria was obviously never going to be smooth sailing. In fact, the incessant dribble of accusations between the great powers was one reason why Kofi Annan renounced his position as special envoy of the UN and the Arab League to Syria. Yet, the failure of negotiations was not, and still is not, inevitable. Failure has stemmed not only from important contextual factors, but also from a series of strategic mistakes that the West has made, either by action or by omission.

For starters, although the US has been reluctant to intervene directly in Syria, it has not disguised its zeal to oust Assad. Shortly after the start of the war, the Obama administration explicitly declared that its objective was regime change, as did the European Union, undermining the diplomatic efforts led by Annan. And, as the late Patrick Seale, one of the most renowned chroniclers of Syria, observed, an obsession with regime change “is no plan for peace”. In fact, this approach served only to put Assad on the defensive and inspire unrealistic expectations among an extremely fragmented opposition. Having missed the opportunity presented by the first Geneva peace conference, convened by Annan in 2012, diplomatic efforts fell into a spiral of setbacks.

The EU, meanwhile, has been excessively passive in the face of a conflict affecting a country that participates in the European Neighbourhood Policy. Remember, it was the war in Syria that led to the terrible refugee crisis that in 2015 shook the foundations of the EU and, above all, caused immense human suffering. Despite this, the EU and its member countries have dragged their feet, applying patches, such as the agreement with Turkey on refugees, instead of resolutely addressing the problem at its root.

Today, Western disorientation regarding Syria is absolute. US President Donald Trump’s administration, in particular, is presenting a disgraceful spectacle with its chaotic messages regarding the withdrawal of the few American troops on the ground. It is still a mystery how the US intends to counterbalance Iran’s influence in Syria, and what guarantees will be offered to the Kurds, who have contributed so much to combating Daesh. What is clear is that the West is colliding with reality: As the dust raised by Daesh settles, it turns out that the Syria that is emerging is not all that different, in political terms, from its pre-war version.

This does not mean that Assad has come through the war completely unscathed, able to impose his will without restraint. But in the absence of viable alternatives, and despite the brutal crimes he has committed with the direct support of Russia and Iran, he will necessarily have a role to play in Syria’s immediate future. Clearly, the more time and resources are invested in the wrong policy, such as regime change, the harder it becomes to abandon that policy. But there is no other choice. The West must pierce its illusions and sit down to negotiate more seriously, and at all levels, about Syria.

Javier Solana, a former EU high representative for foreign and security policy, secretary general of NATO and foreign minister of spain, is currently president of the ESADE Centre for Global Economy and Geopolitics, distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe. Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2019.
www.project-syndicate.org

Pakistan Finally Plays Its Mullah Baradar Trump Card

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — When American and Pakistani agents captured Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s operational commander, in the chaotic port city of Karachi last January, both countries hailed the arrest as a breakthrough in their often difficult partnership in fighting terrorism.

But the arrest of Mr. Baradar, the second-ranking Taliban leader after Mullah Muhammad Omar, came with a beguiling twist: both American and Pakistani officials claimed that Mr. Baradar’s capture had been a lucky break. It was only days later, the officials said, that they finally figured out who they had.

Now, seven months later, Pakistani officials are telling a very different story. They say they set out to capture Mr. Baradar, and used the C.I.A. to help them do it, because they wanted to shut down secret peace talks that Mr. Baradar had been conducting with the Afghan government that excluded Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime backer.

In the weeks after Mr. Baradar’s capture, Pakistani security officials detained as many as 23 Taliban leaders, many of whom had been enjoying the protection of the Pakistani government for years. The talks came to an end.

The events surrounding Mr. Baradar’s arrest have been the subject of debate inside military and intelligence circles for months. Some details are still murky — and others vigorously denied by some American intelligence officials in Washington. But the account offered in Islamabad highlights Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan: retaining decisive influence over the Taliban, thwarting archenemy India, and putting Pakistan in a position to shape Afghanistan’s postwar political order.

Some American officials still insist that Pakistan-American cooperation is improving, and deny a central Pakistani role in Mr. Baradar’s arrest. They say the Pakistanis may now be trying to rewrite history to make themselves appear more influential. It was American intellgence that led to Mr. Baradar’s capture, an American official said.

“These are self-serving fairy tales,” the official said. “The people involved in the operation on the ground didn’t know exactly who would be there when they themselves arrived. But it certainly became clear, to Pakistanis and Americans alike, who we’d gotten.”

Other American officials suspect the C.I.A. may have been unwittingly used by the Pakistanis for the larger aims of slowing the pace of any peace talks.

At a minimum, the arrest of Mr. Baradar offers a glimpse of the multilayered challenges the United States faces as it tries to prevail in Afghanistan. It is battling a resilient insurgency, supporting a weak central government and trying to manage Pakistan’s leaders, who simultaneously support the Taliban and accept billions in American aid.

A senior NATO officer in Kabul said that in arresting Mr. Baradar and the other Taliban leaders, the Pakistanis may have been trying to buy time to see if President Obama’s strategy begins to prevail. If it does, the Pakistanis may eventually decide to let the Taliban make a deal. But if the Americans fail — and if they begin to pull out — then the Pakistanis may decide to retain the Taliban as their allies.

“We have been played before,” a senior NATO official said. “That the Pakistanis picked up Baradar to control the tempo of the negotiations is absolutely plausible.”

As for Mr. Baradar, he is now living comfortably in a safe house of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Pakistani official said. “He’s relaxing,” the official said.

Many of the other Taliban leaders, after receiving lectures against freelancing peace deals, have been released to fight again.

Exactly why the Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, became so alarmed at the Afghan peace talks is unclear. In retrospect, paranoia seems to have figured as much as national self-interest.

A senior Afghan official said that beginning late last year, his government had reached out to a number of Taliban leaders to explore the prospect of a deal. Among them were Mr. Baradar and another Taliban leader named Tayyib Agha. The Afghan official declined to say who met the Taliban leaders, but reports of such meetings have since surfaced. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s brother, reportedly met Mr. Baradar in January, according to a former Afghan official and a former NATO official. Mr. Karzai’s brother denies it.

In another overture, Engineer Ibrahim, then the deputy chief of the Afghan intelligence service, met with a group of Taliban leaders in Dubai, according to a prominent Afghan with knowledge of the meeting. Mr. Ibrahim, now with the National Security Council, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

A Pakistani spiritual leader close to the Taliban leadership said that, earlier this year, he had received a message through an intermediary that Mr. Karzai wanted to talk peace. “We rejected it,” he said.

The discussions with Mr. Baradar and the other Taliban were in their early phases, but they seemed promising, the Afghan official said. Their aim was to establish conditions under which formal talks could begin.

“It was the beginning of a negotiation, so both sides staked out extreme positions,” the Afghan official said. “But we sensed a readiness for peace.”

A man believed to be Abdul Ghani Baradar in a 1998 photo that was provided by a former photographer for the Taliban.
 

When Pakistani intelligence officials learned of the overtures, they became unnerved by what they saw as an attempt by the Afghans to strike a peace deal without them. In particular, the ISI suspected the Americans were orchestrating the talks.

In January, days before Mr. Baradar’s capture, a senior ISI official told The New York Times that his agency was hunting the Taliban leader because he was in contact with the Americans. The ISI official accused the Americans of disregarding Pakistan’s legitimate security interests.

“We are after Mullah Baradar,” the senior ISI official said. “We strongly believe the Americans are in touch with him.”

A second ISI official confirmed that the Pakistanis had decided to go after Mr. Baradar to shut down what they feared were blossoming peace talks.

“This is a national secret,” he said. “The Americans and the British were going behind our backs, and we couldn’t allow that.” American and British officials denied they were directly involved in talks with the Taliban.

Once the decision was made to detain Mr. Baradar, the Taliban leader was tracked to Karachi, a sprawling, violent city of nearly 20 million people. There, the Pakistani official said, ISI agents waited for him to activate his cellphone. After several days, the alarm went off, and the agency narrowed Mr. Baradar’s whereabouts to a densely populated area of about two square miles.

That was as far as the intelligence agency’s technology would go, the Pakistani official said. To pinpoint Mr. Baradar’s location, ISI agents turned to the C.I.A.

Since 2001, the C.I.A. and the ISI have maintained an uneasy relationship. They have cooperated on hundreds of operations and detained dozens of militants, but they have clashed over the ISI’s support for the Taliban.

Within minutes of Mr. Baradar’s cellphone activation, the C.I.A. sent two unarmed American technicians to join the Pakistani intelligence agency’s team, the Pakistani official said.

Activating a portable tracking device, the C.I.A. team quickly led the ISI to Mr. Baradar’s home. Only four hours after his cellphone went on, Mr. Baradar was in Pakistani custody, the Pakistani official said. According to the Pakistani official, the ISI did not inform the Americans of the identity of the target.

American officials disputed this account, saying the intelligence indicated that the target was related to Mr. Baradar. But they conceded that they did not know the identity of Mr. Baradar until after the arrest.

The Pakistanis refused to allow the C.I.A. to interrogate Mr. Baradar or even to be present when they spoke. Another Pakistani official said Mr. Baradar was taken to a safe house in Islamabad, where he was debriefed. It was only several days later that the C.I.A. learned of his identity and were allowed to question him.

The Pakistani official even joked about the C.I.A.’s naïveté. “They are so innocent,” he said.

Some American officials insist that while the C.I.A. may not have known whom the Pakistanis were capturing, the Pakistanis did not know either. They speculated that once the Pakistanis had Mr. Baradar, they may have decided to hold him to scuttle the peace talks. It was then, some American officials say, that the Pakistanis may have decided to detain the other Taliban leaders.

“We are not convinced that that was why Baradar was picked up,” an American official in the region said, referring to the Afghan talks. “But maybe that was why he was held.”

Yet other American officials said the Pakistani version seemed more credible than the C.I.A.’s. “Baradar is too high-profile for them not to have known who it was,” the senior NATO official said.

Within days of Mr. Baradar’s arrest, Pakistani agents picked up as many as 22 other Taliban leaders across Pakistan, according to an official with the United Nations in Kabul. The detentions included some of the most senior Taliban commanders, including Mullah Qayoom Zakir, Abdul Kabeer and Abdul Rauf Khadem.

“We know where the shadow government is,” the Pakistani security official said.

The official said the detained Taliban leaders were warned against carrying out future negotiations without their permission. A former Western diplomat, with long experience in the region, confirmed that the ISI sent a warning to its Taliban protégés.

“The message from the ISI was: no flirting,” he said.

Afghans close to the Taliban said the arrests of Mr. Baradar and the others illustrated the strained relationship between the Taliban and their benefactors in Pakistani intelligence. The ISI may protect the Taliban’s leaders, they said, but they also limit their freedom. “When we try to act on our own, they stop us,” the Pakistani spiritual leader said.

Since then, many of the Taliban leaders who were detained have been set free, officials said. Principal among them is Mr. Zakir, a Taliban commander who was released from the American prison at Guantánamo Bay in 2006.

Mr. Zakir, who took over for Mr. Baradar, is regarded as more brutal than his predecessor, unconcerned about civilian casualties — and less inclined to do a deal with the Karzai government.

Large number of Daesh terrorists Airlifted from Pakistan to the border with Tajikistan

Unidentified helicopters transported a large number of Daesh* terrorists from Pakistan to the border with Tajikistan, close to Russia’s southern borders, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said on Monday. Pakistan and Tajikistan are separated by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor region.

According to the Russian minister, there may be some preparations for a provocation that may affect Russia.

READ MORE: ‘We Are Surrounded’: 21 Terrorist Organizations Active in Afghanistan

“Daesh fighters in massive quantities were transported from Pakistani territory to the border with Tajikistan. In that area, perhaps, the militants might stage massive provocations that would result in huge amounts of refugees fleeing the territory. This would have an impact on Russia,” Zubov said.

This comes after earlier Col. Gen. Andrey Novikov, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Centre, stated that Daesh terrorists were being transported to Afghanistan and Pakistan after facing defeat in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that US helicopters evacuated Daesh leaders from several areas across the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor to the country’s northeast. The US-led coalition, in turn, denied all accusations.

*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State/IS), a terrorist group banned in Russia and a wide number of other countries.

Pakistan Produced Taliban Leader, Mullah Baradar, and Pushed Peace Talks In Afghanistan

Pakistan deserves credit for US-Taliban peace talks: FM Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan deserves credit for the ongoing Afghan peace talks in Doha, as the Taliban only came to the negotiating table due to Islamabad’s incessant efforts.

Speaking to reporters in Multan on Sunday, the foreign minister said Pakistan’s stance for a negotiated settlement to the Afghan conflict had been vindicated.

He said United States Senator Lindsay Graham had admitted that Islamabad had the right approach for peace in Afghanistan. “This is a milestone in Pakistan’s foreign policy domain,” said Qureshi.

In his recent trip to Pakistan, Graham pushed for a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump to reset Pak-US relations and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

‘We are a nation, not beggars’

Reiterating Pakistan’s desire for peace in the region, the foreign minister urged the public to gauge Pakistan’s success by its achievements on the foreign policy front, and not by the amount it had received in aid.

The foreign minister was particularly irked when asked if improving ties meant the US would restart discontinued aid. “We are a nation with principles and prestige. We are not beggars!” he said.

“Nations do not only hold talks to seek aid. We have strategies and a vision that we will continue to pursue. Financial help is not important; we are not seeking aid, we are seeking peace.”

Qureshi credits foreign policy ‘for investment windfall’

Highlighting the PTI-led government’s policy of global outreach, the foreign minister said it was unfortunate that people focused on the incoming aid and overlook the government’s achievements on the diplomatic front.

“Over the past few months, I went to Tehran, Beijing, Kabul, Moscow and Doha. Very soon I am heading to Oman and then to London on February 3.”

Qureshi said the outreach plan focuses on long-term global and regional peace and strengthening linkages for greater connectivity, enhanced trade and shared prosperity.

Brit Press Rehabilitates Saudi Brand w/Gift of “Saudi Independent”

‘Independent’ to expand Saudi Arabia’s international media influence

A Saudi media company has launched an Arabic-language version of the UK Independent headed by an ally of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Persian, Turkish and Urdu versions of the website will also be launched.

Independent Arabia will feature a mix of translated articles from the UK site and content written by the reporters from Saudi Arabia and other countries. The organization running it is the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), which owns Arab News and Asharq al Awsat media brands.

Adhwan Alahmary has been appointed editor of the Independent Arabia. Seen as an ally of the royal family, he defendedCrown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey in October.

“First of all, we are ‘Independent’ and we do not belong to any party,” Alahmary told al Arabiya, whose parent company MBC Group is 60 percent owned by the Saudi government. “We promise the readers objectivity and the highest journalistic standards. We will leave it to the readers to judge our coverage, and time will proof that we are independent.”

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud was director of MBC until he left to become Saudi minister of culture in 2018.

ALSO ON RT.COMCrown Prince MBS must be ‘dealt with’ before US-Saudi relations can move forward – Sen. GrahamThe Independent and SRMG signed a licensing deal in July, which outlined plans for SRMG to also launch a Persian, Turkish and Urdu version of the newspaper. A press release from the Independent says the new titles will adhere to the same standards and code of conduct as the UK version.

However, the Guardian reported in October that two journalists approached to work at the Persian language edition were unconvinced there would be editorial independence from Saudi Arabia.

“When I asked whether the consultant editor would be empowered to kill a story that did not meet the Independent’s editorial standards, I was told that it was not yet clear whether the consultant editor would have that authority,” one of them said. “It was pretty clear that the Independent’s editorial control would be nominal.”

Part of Independent Digital News and Media already belongs to Saudi Arabia, after Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel secured a stake of between 25-50 percent in 2017, according to company documents.

Independent editor Christian Broughton raised eyebrows when he visited Saudi Arabia for an economic investment conference in October, just weeks after the Khashoggi killing and as a number of media outlets pulled out of the conference.

ALSO ON RT.COMComedian Hasan Minhaj slams Netflix for censoring him in Saudi Arabia over Yemen criticismThis isn’t SRMG’s first foray into partnerships with western media outlets. In 2018 it announced a partnership with Bloomberg to create Bloomberg Asharq, an Arabic language business and finance news service.

MBC Group is also looking to compete with Netflix with its own streaming service, which comes after Saudi Arabia banned a Netflix comedy series for criticizing the Kingdom.

Venezuela Grants Russian Gold-Mining Concession, Trump Pounces…Just Like Obama and Syrian Gas Discovery

The same coincidence happened when Syria announced huge oil/gas bonanza, the next day Obama froze Syria’s assets…Syrian Oil Ministry Announces Huge Oil and Gas find offshore, the Next Day Obama Signs Ex. Order Freezing Syrian Assets   

Coincidence? Venezuela Green Lights Russia to Mine Gold, Days Later US Attempts Overthrow

Just like in Libya, the current conflict in Venezuela is far bigger than some humanitarian crisis as they are sitting on mountains of gold and oil.

The decades-long US infatuation with Venezuela came to a head on Wednesday as the United States, Canada, Brazil, and others all declared a man who never even ran for the office of presidency, much less got elected to the office, as the president of Venezuela.

On Wednesday, Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez took a public oath of office and swore himself in as the President of Venezuela. He assumed this office with zero democratic process—essentially making himself a dictator—and was immediately declared legitimate by Washington.

This move by Washington to recognize Guaidó as the official president is a page out of the book they’ve used over the last two decades to invade and destroy countries like Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The exact same rhetoric from the bipartisan warmongers in DC is being put out once more as shills like Marco Rubio threaten all out war. All of the sudden, Trump’s haters are coming together in solidarity, seething with their warmongering mucus over the  potential for a Venezuelan conflict.

Marco Rubio

@marcorubio

U.S. diplomats in should present their credentials to President @jguaido. Maduro has no authority to expel anyone.

And trust me on this one, if Maduro is stupid enough to test @realdonaldtrump by harming any U.S. diplomat, the consequences would be swift & severe.

For those who don’t remember, nearly the exact same tactics were used just before the US invaded Libya and turned this bastion of hope in Africa into a terror-infused hell-state in which human slaves are now openly sold in public. 

Just like Guaidó claimed to be president and was recognized by the US, in Libya, the head of the Libyan National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil threatened mass deaths if the West did not intervene and was quickly given control. Days later, the Libyan NTC was officially recognized as the Libyan government and the Gaddafi regime was out. Days after this, NATO powers, led by the US, proceeded to turn Libya into the war ravaged hell hole it is today.

View image on Twitter

Jacques Posobiets 🇫🇷

@JackPosobiec

As we look at Venezuela, let’s remember the last time Marco Rubio knocked off a regime he didn’t like and how that turned out. Fair is fair.

In the next few days, you can expect this move by the US to stoke potential for a civil war in Venezuela which would draw in other countries like Cuba and Brazil. The result of this potential civil war would be utterly catastrophic.

The Russian Foreign Ministry agrees and responded on Thursday to Washington’s recognition of Guaido as president, noting that it  “is aimed at deepening the split in Venezuelan society, increasing the conflict on the streets, sharply destabilizing the internal political system and further escalation of the conflict.” The Ministry then repeated claims it made just before the US invaded Syria and Libya by saying similar action in Venezuela would be “fraught with catastrophic consequences.”

The move by Washington and others even prompted a response from Putin himself on Thursday who said, according the Russian state media outlet, RT, that “foreign interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs grossly violates international law.”

To those who think this is about Nicolás Maduro, think again. No one here is arguing that Maduro is an angel. No one here is saying that his election wasn’t surrounded in controversy. And, no one here is claiming that the people of Venezuela do not have a right to contest his presidency. But to ignore every president’s meddling in the country since George W. Bush and the US desire to overthrow Hugo Chavez for a decade before this would be incredibly naive.

TFTP has long reported on the crimes against the Venezuelan people by the state. We have reported on the mass killing of citizens by police, the loyalists being armed while the opposition was disarmed, and the disturbing police state the country has become. But the current situation in Venezuela would look like a paradise compared to what will likely ensue following Western intervention.

Mehdi Hasan

@mehdirhasan

I’m no expert on Venezuela but I’m pretty sure you can think Maduro is a horrible/bad/authoritarian president *and* also think it’s bad for the US to back coups or regime change there.

Venezuela is not a tyrannical autocracy and its crisis is NOT organic; it is a deeply divided and polarized society—which the US is exploiting for special interests.

And no, socialism alone did not create the horrific plight currently faced by the Venezuelan people. Decades of sanctions and meddling have proven to be unbelievably effective at hurling their economy into a whirlwind of chaos, collapsing their currency, and cutting them off from the rest of the world—literally starving them to death.

Francisco Nunes@fcn_84

Venezuela has 2.5 billion dollars withheld in international banks as a result of US sanctions. This money would be used to import medicines and food.

Misión Verdad@Mision_Verdad

Un dato para comprender el asedio financiero y la crisis económica en Venezuela.

View image on Twitter
Make no mistake, this has likely long been the plan. As George Galloway, former 30 year member of the British Parliament noted, “before they drop the bombs, they drop the narrative, of course. And the disinformation bombardment in Venezuela has been one of the longest bombing runs in history. Massive sums of US money have been spent on media distortion, subversion, sabotage, military coups, and threats of invasion throughout the Chavez-Maduro era.”

For those who may be unaware, the proven oil reserves in Venezuela are known to be the largest in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels. In December, Caracas and Moscow signed a $5 billion investment deal to raise Venezuela’s oil production by one million barrels per day. This move was done to counter the effects of US sanctions which have been crippling the country and raised many neocon eyebrows.

What’s more, aside from their proven oil deposits, Venezuela is also known for its extremely rich gold deposits. Also in December, Caracas gave the green light to Russia to begin mining gold inside their country.

“As for Russia’s participation in gold-mining or other mining projects, Venezuela has made a wide range of interesting proposals that are currently under consideration by interested Russian operators,” the ambassador said.

Because of their rich deposits and need to subvert US sanctions and a weaponized US dollar, Venezuela has become the 25th largest holder of gold in the world making them a direct threat to the global banking system.

To think that the US interests in Venezuela are purely humanitarian is not only asinine but it blindly ignores decades of US interventionism highlighting the contrary—especially considering what happened in Libya.

As TFTP has previously reported, on October 20th, 2011, the West took it upon itself to use NATO to overthrow Gaddafi — not for any humanitarian threat to civilians as had been repeatedly claimed and is the alleged impetus behind the coup in Venezuela — but because his planned roll-out of a new currency to be used across Africa posed a palpable existential threat to central banks at the heart of the Western financial and political system.

In fact, before Washington’s endorsement of Guaido, Venezuela was carrying out a similar plan. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently launched a gold trade with Maduro. But this was not simply moving gold from one place to another. Maduro announced that he was moving his entire refining operation directly to Turkey in a direct move against the Western monetary controlled sanctions.

Now, we find ourselves on the precipice of an all out invasion of their country. Go figure.

As US sanctions continue to backfire due to an ever-increasing coalition of countries dedicated to fighting them, the American military industrial complex will have no other options for self-preservation other than war. Regardless of how you feel personally about what is going on with the Venezuelan people and their government, buying into another set of lies used for Western interventionism—in yet another country who “needs some freedom”—will undoubtedly be catastrophic, and 100 percent of recent similar situations proves this.

 

 Matt Agorist

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds.

 

Mainstream Media Giant, Newsweek, Breaks Ultimate Taboo, Mentions Jewish Domination of American News Media

Newsweek Reporter Calls Reporting on Israel and Jewish Organizations a ‘Third Rail’

The term ‘third rail’ refers to the deadly electrified rail on urban trains, implying that Israel-related issues are untouchable for American media

Cover of Newsweek Magazine reads #LASTPRINTISSUE
AFP

The phrase “third rail” refers to the untouchable rail on mass transit systems, suggesting negative stories about Jews and Israel are too hot to handle.

Burleigh did not respond to an inquiry from JTA asking her to elaborate on the tweet.

The tweet was in response to a thread by author Sarah Kendzior listing several stories she said were “undercovered.” A few of the stories involved President Donald Trump and Chabad, the Hasidic outreach movement; Black Cube, a private intelligence firm that employs former agents of Israel’s Mossad spy agency; and Jeffrey Epstein, a Jewish financier and registered sex offender.

Kendzior asserted that “the press seems particularly reluctant to pursue these [stories]. Which is not surprising since those who do write about them are threatened.” By whom, she did not say.

“Interesting thread,” Burleigh replied. “To answer your final question, Israel, mossad, Chabad and black cube … you’re hitting the third rail of American journalism, Sarah.”

Interesting thread. To answer your final question, Israel, mossad, Chabad and black cube… you’re hitting the third rail of American journalism, Sarah.

Yair Rosenberg, a Tablet magazine writer who tweets about anti-Semitism, wrote that Burleigh was suggesting that “the Jews are behind Trump.”

Burleigh is no stranger to Jews and Israel. She has reported on the ground from West Bank settlements for Time magazine and also covered the Barack Obama-era peace process. In 2008, she wrote a nonfiction book, “Unholy Business,” about archaeology and forgery in Jerusalem.

“A certain segment of stridently pro-Israel American Jewry has long been convinced that Obama is ‘bad for Israel’ – the single issue that can make or break a candidate seeking funds and votes from one powerful and politically active demographic,” she wrote. “Perhaps a historic pile of money wins them back, perhaps not.”

Israel Denies Trump Request To Abandon Illegal US Base At Al-Tanf, Syria

  • Al-Tanf in southeast Syria may host last U.S. troops to leave
  •  
    U.S., Israeli officials say base is key to countering Iran
Firearms training at the Al-Tanf military outpost in southern Syria in 2018.
Firearms training at the Al-Tanf military outpost in southern Syria in 2018. Photographer: Lolita Baldor/AP Photo

U.S. troops in one small outpost in the south of Syria may be preparing for a longer stay, even as administration and military officials try to work out the details of President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw.The American base at Al-Tanf, originally established as a southern foothold against Islamic State and a training ground for Syrian rebels, has become one of the main obstacles to the president’s plan to leave. Israeli and some U.S. officials argue that a continued American presence there is critical to interrupting Iran’s supply lines into Lebanon, where Hezbollah — Iran’s proxy and Israel’s enemy — has been building up its arsenal.

U.S. troops at the base established a 55-kilometer “deconfliction zone” including part of the strategic Damascus-to-Baghdad highway. The surrounding territory is controlled by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who’s backed by Iran and Russia.

The debate over what to do with Al-Tanf reveals U.S. goals in Syria that go beyond the official rationale of defeating Islamic State — complicating Trump’s desire to exit. The administration also wants to constrain Iran’s influence, including by limiting its ability to use Syria as a launching point for operations against Israel.

GRAPHIC: Syrian War map

Here’s who is still fighting in Syria.  Bloomberg

“It all depends on Trump,” said Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. “He ordered U.S. forces to leave Syria. There have been efforts to pare that back and to treat Tanf as separate from the northeast, but it’s unclear if the president will be convinced.”

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Speaks To Economic Club Of Washington

Benjamin Netanyahu,  Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been doing his best, and he has the president’s ear, according to one senior U.S. diplomat, who asked not to be named citing confidential discussions. Netanyahu has repeatedly urged the U.S. to keep troops at Al-Tanf, according to several senior Israeli officials, who also asked not to be identified discussing private talks. Even if they don’t do much, the mere presence of American troops will act as a deterrent to Iran, the Israelis say.

Iran Hawks

That argument holds sway with Iran hawks in the U.S. administration including National Security Adviser John Bolton, who’s been talking down a speedy U.S. withdrawal. On a recent trip to Israel and Turkey, Bolton indicated that there would be no rush to remove troops from Al-Tanf, although it wasn’t clear if he sought the kind of long-term U.S. presence there that Israel wants.

John Bolton,  Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

The Israeli demands seem to have been reflected in other public statements from the U.S., as the emphasis switched away from a speedy removal of all forces, and toward pulling out of the northeast. There are concerns in that part of Syria too, over the fate of Kurdish fighters supported by the U.S. but viewed as terrorists by Turkey, which is threatening to attack them.

It’s also unclear how the U.S. could maintain a relatively small presence of no more than a few hundred troops at Al-Tanf as Assad reimposes his grip on the rest of the country.

‘Once They’re In’

Russia has been skeptical of Trump’s announcement from the start.

“I don’t believe Americans will leave,” Frants Klintsevich, a member of the defense and security committee in the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said in a phone interview Friday. “Once they are in, they stay.”

But he predicted that “in the end the U.S. will just have this Al-Tanf base, and nothing more.” And he said that when that happens, “Russia and Syria will increase pressure on the U.S. to withdraw.”

Even if the U.S. resists that pressure, says Stein, it’s unlikely that its troops there will achieve much. He sees a mismatch between the grand geostrategic claims being made about the base, and the reality of a small, isolated outpost in the desert, surrounded by hostile forces.

Al-Tanf is “a vulnerable fire base that Iran and Russia fly over every day,” he said. “There is no strategy here.”

— With assistance by Glen Carey

Pakistan Pushes Mullah Baradar Into “Peace Negotiations”, the Same “Crime” They Arrested Him For 8 Years Ago

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar 

[SEE: Arresting Taliban To Cover  America’s Ass]

Taliban agrees to bar Al-Qaeda, Islamic state from entering Afghanistan

Taliban ‘Agrees to Make Ceasefire’ with U.S. as Qatar Talks Enter Fifth Day

Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar to lead negotiations with US

Militant leader released by Pakistan last year will head group’s political office in Doha (Mullah Baradar’s Release Met With Mixed Reaction–October 25,  2018)

Afghanistan’s Taliban have appointed the group’s co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as the head of their political office in Doha to lead talks with the United States on ending their 17-year insurgency.

“The esteemed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been appointed … chief of the political office,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement released late on Thursday.

“This step has been taken to strengthen and properly handle the ongoing negotiations process with the United States,” he said.

Zabihullah (ذبیح الله م )@Zabihullah_4

Remarks by spokesman of Islamic Emirate regarding appointment of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradarhttps://justpaste.it/4vj4t

36 people are talking about this

The announcement came after the Taliban revealed that they had held four straight days of talks with US officials in Doha. Washington confirmed on Tuesday that talks were being held in Qatar between its envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and representatives of the Taliban, but not made any further comment.

It was not clear if the negotiations continued on Friday.

Mr Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with Taliban representatives since being appointed last year, including in Abu Dhabi last month, but the length of latest talks has raised hopes of progress towards organising peace talks.

The Taliban have so far refused to hold talks with the Afghan government, which they describe as a US puppet, and have continued to carry out attacks on Afghan security forces, including an assault on an intelligence services basethis week in which dozens of soldiers were killed.

Mullah Baradar, formerly deputy chief of the Taliban, helped Mullah Omar to found the Islamist movement that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until the US-led invasion in 2001.

He was arrested in Pakistan in 2010 and released in October after Mr Khalilzad reportedly held his first meeting with the Taliban in Doha. Mullah Omar died in 2013.

Kabul-based military analyst Ateequllah Amarkhail said Mullah Baradar was a “heavyweight” who also has influence over Mullah Muhammad Rasool, the leader of a Taliban breakaway faction.

“The appointment of Baradar could unify the Taliban movement,” Mr Amarkhail told Agence France-Presse.

The Taliban said that in addition to the appointment of Mullah Baradar, “multiple changes have also taken place in the military and civilian departments”.

Neither side has released details of the negotiations so far but the Taliban have repeatedly called for the withdrawal of the US-led Nato force in Afghanistan.

 

Russian Failure To Activate S-300 Systems Against IDF Attackers

BEIRUT, LEBANON–An Iranian official heavily criticized the Russian Federation on Thursday for leaving their S-300 system ‘inactive’ during the Israeli attack last Sunday.

The head of Majlis (parliament) national security and foreign policy commission Heshmatollah Falahat-Pisheh said on Thursday afternoon that the Russian S-300 system, which is deployed in Syria, was inactive during the Israeli attack on Damascus, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported this morning.

Following his return from Ankara, Falahat-Pisheh told the Islamic Republic News Agency that Russia is allowing Israel to attack Syria.

He said that if the Russian S-300 system could operate correctly, the Israeli military would not be able to strike Syria so easily.

Separately, Falahat-Pisheh told IRNA that Israel’s statistics on the Damascus attack were not correct, adding that they were highly exaggerated.

“I reached an area and I noticed that the statistics declared by the Zionist regime were not correct and they were bluffed,” he told IRNA today.

US Foreign Policy of Impoverishing Our Enemies, Only Multiplies the Number of Our Enemies

Keeping our Middle East rivals poor, weak, and divided does not serve our interests

A Syrian boy leans on new jerry cans as he watches aid items to cope with the winter weather being delivered to the al-Hol refugee camp in al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria on January 07, 2019. (Photo by Delil souleiman / AFP)DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images
DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
A Syrian boy leaned on new jerry cans as he watche aid items to cope with the winter weather being delivered to the al-Hol refugee camp in al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria.

Winter is rolling into Syria, but many families have no oil or gas to heat their homes. American sanctions prevent almost all trade, including petroleum shipments. They are part of our campaign to inflict pain on Middle Easterners who live under governments we dislike. A recent Treasury Department notice asserts that the United States is determined to “maximize pressure on the Assad regime,” and warns that any company sending petroleum to Syria runs “significant sanctions risk.” The same approach shapes our policy toward Iran. “We must confront the ayatollahs, not coddle them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared this month. To sharpen that confrontation, the United States has imposed sanctions designed to make life difficult for ordinary Iranians.

A foreign policy designed to keep children shivering through the winter is morally dubious at best. It is also strategically unwise. Keeping our Middle East rivals poor, weak, and divided does not serve our interests. The opposite is true. Our safety lies in strengthening states, not weakening them. Only strong states can carry out the counterterror operations that will continue to be necessary after the American military reduces or its presence in the region.

American policy toward the Middle East and Afghanistan is frozen into confused immobility. We are torn between two conflicting impulses. Americans are tired of our involvement in seemingly endless wars. Everyone from President Trump to Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to bring troops home. What holds us back — besides the powerful influence of war lobbies in Washington — is fear that ISIS and other terror gangs will re-emerge once we are gone.

The best way to resolve this dilemma would be to strengthen every government in the region that is dedicated to fighting those gangs. The Trump administration refuses to do that. Much of the bipartisan foreign policy elite in Washington supports his refusal. Its reasoning is simple. Among the countries most determined to fight groups like ISIS are several that we consider real or potential rivals, most notably Iran and Syria. Strengthening them is our ticket out of the Middle East — but we cannot bring ourselves to do it. Until we break out of that policy prison, we will feel compelled to keep our own armies in the fray.

From Central Asia across the Middle East to North Africa, the great twin challenges are defeating terror and stabilizing nations. They go hand in hand. Weak regimes cannot deal effectively with persistent security threats. If we ever want to withdraw from Middle East wars, we will have to leave functioning states behind. Leaders of those states may not like us — or rule the way we would have them rule — but they will serve our greater interest by fighting sectarian extremists. Stability and prosperity on Syria and Iran would not harm our interests nearly as much as sanctions-fixated Washington wants us to believe. The governments of both countries are obsessively dedicated to fighting jihadist terror, which mortally threatens them. We should strengthen them rather than seek to bleed their people.

Even if the United States cannot bring itself to cooperate militarily with Iran and Syria, we should at least stop our efforts to weaken their societies. Sanctions punish masses of innocent civilians and keep countries in upheaval. This is not a good long-term investment for the United States. Governments come and go, but nations carry memories with them over generations. As long as people in Middle Eastern countries are wretched, some will grow into violent radicals. If they conclude that United States sanctions are the reason they cannot heat their homes or buy medicine or rebuild their destroyed towns, their radicalism will naturally become anti-American.

State power remains humanity’s greatest guarantor of order. Even bad regimes provide more stability than anarchy does. The family that rules Saudi Arabia, for example, is harshly repressive and wages brutal war. Yet if somehow the family was suddenly overthrown and all the princes forced to flee, Saudi Arabia might dissolve into something far worse. Vladimir Putin is no model of benevolent rule, but would we want Russia to splinter instead and run the risk of a dozen Chechnya-style wars across the vast expanse of North Asia?

Some would say yes. After all, weakening your enemies sounds like a sensible strategy. More than a few geo-politicians in Washington would cackle in glee to see Russia — or China or Iran or Cuba — explode into violent turmoil. They would be mistaken. Today, foreign powers are not the principal threat to the United States. The dangers they pose are manageable. More deeply threatening are currents of violent terror that will continue to swirl across the Middle East and other regions for years to come. We are deploying troops around the world to confront that threat. If we ever hope to bring those troops home, we have to leave coherent governments behind.

Sometimes weakening unfriendly countries is in the national interest. In today’s Middle East it is not. Our overriding need there is to control terror groups. Only strong states can do that. We should be seeking to stabilize countries, not destabilize them. That would serve our national interest while keeping Syrians warm this winter.

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

Trump Intervenes In Venezuelan Elections…Violent Upheaval Certain

Pence calls Maduro a “dictator” and shows support to protesters in Venezuela

Venezuela protests: ‘Four dead’ as thousands rally against Maduro

Trump recognizes Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president 

Trump: Maduro is no longer president of Venezuela

As US threats increase, Vijay Prashad examines the current context in Venezuela.

Trump and National Security Advisor John Bolton have Venezuela in their sights. (AP)

Trump and National Security Advisor John Bolton have Venezuela in their sights. (AP)
By Vijay Prashad – Truthdig
Last Thursday—on January 10—Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for his second term as president of Venezuela. “I tell the people,” Maduro said, “this presidential sash is yours. The power of this sash is yours. It does not belong to the oligarchy or to imperialism. It belongs to the sovereign people of Venezuela.”

These two terms—oligarchy and imperialism—define the problems faced by Maduro’s new government.

Oligarchy

Despite 20 years of governance by the socialist forces—first led by Hugo Chavez and now by Maduro—the Venezuelan oligarchy remains firmly intact. It dominates large sections of the economy, holds immense amounts of the country’s social wealth and controls the main media outlets. A walk through the Altamira neighborhood in eastern Caracas is sufficient to gauge the resilience of the wealthy, most of whom have homes in Spain and in Florida as well. Pelucones is the name used to define them—bigwigs, a term with aristocratic connotations. They have resisted all attempts by the socialist Bolivarian movement to expand political and economic democracy in the country.

This oligarchy, through its media, controls the political and social narrative, defining the nature of Venezuela’s crisis to its advantage. For this small sliver of the population, all of Venezuela’s serious problems are blamed on the Maduro movement. None of the problems are laid on the doorstep of their long domination of Venezuela nor do they cast an eye at the United States, which has tried to suffocate the Bolivarian revolution since 1999.

Imperialism

Imperialism is a word that is rarely used these days. It is relegated to histories of colonialism in the distant past. There is little understanding of the suffocating way that financial firms and multinational businesses drive their agenda against the development aspirations of the poorer nations. There is even less understanding about the muscular attitude of countries such as the United States, Canada and the Europeans against states that they deem to be a problem.

The gunsights were once firmly on West Asia and North Africa—on Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran—but now they are focused on Latin America—on Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. These countries face economic sanctions and embargoes, threats of annihilation, covert operations and war. The definition of imperialism is simple: if you don’t do what we tell you to do, we’ll destroy you.

Pressure on Venezuela has been intense. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the overthrow of the Bolivarian government, led by Maduro. Sanctions have been ratcheted up. Economic warfare has become normal. Threats of a military invasion are in the air.

Lima Group

On January 4, the Lima Group of 13 Latin American governments and Canada said that it would not recognize Maduro as the president of Venezuela. Behind them sits the U.S. State Department, which has put pressure along the hemisphere for the isolation of Venezuela as well as Cuba and Nicaragua. The U.S. State Department characterized the inauguration of the new president as “Maduro’s illegitimate usurpation of power.” Diplomatic language has dissolved into this kind of crudity.

The Lima Group was set up for one reason: to overthrow the current government of Venezuela. It has no other purpose. Sanctions and diplomatic withdrawals are part of the Lima Group’s arsenal. Buoyed by the election of far right-wing politicians such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and enthused by the fulminations of Trump, the Lima Group has tightened the pressure.

Argentina’s Mauricio Macri went to Brasilia to meet Bolsonaro, where he condemned the “dictatorship” of Maduro, and accused him—personally—of being responsible for the difficulties in Venezuela. This is harsh language, rhetoric that sets in motion a dangerous push toward regime change in Venezuela.

The Lima Group’s violations of the UN Charter have been helped along by the Organization of American States, which held an extraordinary session to push its members to take economic and diplomatic steps for the “restoration of democratic order” in Venezuela. It perhaps needs to be emphasized that “restoration of democratic order” is a euphemism for regime change.

When U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tried to draw the UN Security Council into such language—of dictatorships and regime change—she was rebuffed by the other members. In November 2017, for instance, Bolivia, China, Egypt and Russia boycotted an informal meeting called by Haley. No other such meeting has been possible. There is worry that the Trump administration will attempt in Venezuela what the Obama administration conducted in Honduras, or worse, what the Bush administration conducted in Iraq.

It Begins

Maduro was not permitted to take his oath in the National Assembly. He was blocked by Juan Guaidó, leader of the opposition. That is why Maduro took his oath in the Supreme Court, a procedure that is validated by the Constitution.

Strikingly, the head of the Organization of American States—the Uruguayan politician Luis Almagro—sent out a tweet that welcomed Juan Guaidó as the president. Guaidó, to his credit, had not claimed the presidency. It was, instead, a foreign official from a regional body that has superseded the Venezuelan people and attempted to install a new president in Caracas.

More chilling has been the words from the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his department. Pompeo, in a tweet, wrote, “The time is NOW for a return to democracy in Venezuela.” The word “now”—in capitals—suggests that Pompeo is clear that there needs to be no procedures, only a coup. The day after this tweet, Pompeo’s department said, “It’s time to begin the orderly transition to a new government.” One does not need to read between the lines to know that this is a call for regime change, for a coup, and that it comes from Washington, D.C.

Trump’s national security adviser—John Bolton—coined the phrase “troika of tyranny” that includes Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. It is plain as day that the United States wants to overthrow the governments in each of these countries, and perhaps Bolivia as well. These are dangerous portents.

Those troops that Trump is withdrawing from Syria might not be going home anytime soon. They might find themselves deployed soon enough on the beaches of Punto Fijo, facing a Bay of Pigs style resistance from the Chavistas.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff.

Italy Nails French For Parasitic Colonization of African Nations, French Predictably Whine

Italy wants France sanctioned for 'creating poverty in Africa'

Maio’s remarks came hours after France summoned the Italian ambassador to Paris to protest the original assertions made over the weekend.

Speaking on Saturday in central Italy, Di Maio attacked France’s Africa policy, the latest chapter in a war of words between Rome and Paris since the anti-establishment 5-Star-Movement and far-right League won power last year.

“If we have people who are leaving Africa now it’s because some European countries, and France in particular, have never stopped colonizing Africa,” said Di Maio, who leads the 5-Star.

“If France didn’t have its African colonies, because that’s what they should be called, it would be the 15th largest world economy. Instead it’s among the first, exactly because of what it is doing in Africa.”

Di Maio added that France was manipulating the economies of 14 African countries that use the CFA franc — a colonial-era currency which is underpinned by the French Treasury.

“France is one of those countries that by printing money for 14 African states prevents their economic development and contributes to the fact that the refugees leave and then die in the sea or arrive on our coasts,” he said.

France reacts

Ambassador Teresa Castaldo was summoned on Monday afternoon by the chief of staff of European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, the French diplomatic source said.

“It’s not the first time the Italian authorities have made unacceptable and aggressive comments,” the French diplomatic source added.

France argues that the CFA franc has brought welcome monetary stability to the countries that use it, but French President Emmanuel Macron said in 2017 that it was up to African governments to decide what to do with the currency.

Italy wants France sanctioned

The new Italian government has frequently clashed with Paris, be it on immigration or policy in Libya, eager to mark the difference between itself and the previous center-left administration which had good ties with the French authorities.

“I’ve stopped being a hypocrite talking only about the effects of immigration and it’s time to talk about the causes,” Di Maio said at the weekend.

“The EU should sanction all those countries like France that are impoverishing African countries and are causing those people to leave.”

Suspicious Explosions On Two LNG Tankers At Kerch Strait, Sea of Azov

Last Port Call Actual time of Arrival (UTC)
Temryuk 2019-01-18 09:12
Kerch 2019-01-17 09:42
Temryuk 2018-12-30 02:10
Kerch 2018-12-14 07:26
Temryuk 2018-12-08 18:16

MAESTRO

PORT CALLS
Last Port Call Actual time of Arrival (UTC)
Temryuk 2018-12-05 19:55
Kerch 2018-12-03 12:44
Temryuk 2018-10-03 19:25
Kerch 2018-10-03 10:48
More Port Calls

Crimea disaster: 10 dead as EXPLOSION sets ships ablaze in Kerch Strait – rescue underway

TEN crewmen were killed when an explosion and fires tore through two ships as they sailed through the disputed Kerch Strait off the coast of Crimea, Russian transport ministry officials said.

 

Witnesses reported explosions aboard the stricken gas transporters and said desperate crew members were jumping into the sea to escape the flames on the blazing vessels.

Russian officials said the ships had crews of 31 people in total including Turkish and Indian citizens.

They said an emergency search and rescue operation was under way and at least seven ships had responded to mayday alerts and were heading for the scene.

Initial reports suggest the Tanzania-flagged vessels were in the process of transferring a cargo of liquefied natural gas when the explosion happened.

A ship ablaze in the disputed Kerch Strait (Image: YOUTUBE)

Clouds of black smoke can be seen billowing over a vessel engulfed by a blaze on YouTube footage.

Another ship can be seen floating nearby although it is unclear if it caught fire as well.

A spokesman for Russia’s Federal Agency of Sea and River Transport (Rosmorrechflot) said:

“According to preliminary information, an explosion occurred onboard of the vessels.

“Later on, fire spread to the other ship. A rescue boat is on its way to the scene.”

Kerch Strait ship fire

Witnesses reported crew members jumping from the burning ships (Image: YOUTUBE)

The spokesman said one of the vessels, the Candy, has a crew of 17, including nine Turkish citizens and eight Indian nationals.

The other ship, the Maestro, has a crew of 14 – seven Turkish and seven Indian citizens.

A spokesman for the Azov-Black Sea maritime rescue service said a rescue operation is underway.

The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov and is the sole access point for ships travelling to and from Ukraine’s eastern port cities, most notably Mariupol.

While both Ukraine and Russia agreed to the principle of freedom of movement through the strait and the Sea of Azov, Russia has controlled both sides of the strait since Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Tensions in the region boiled over last november when Russian warships opened fire on the Ukrainian naval vessels before seizing them and taking their 24 crew members captive.

Moscow insists the Ukrainians illegally entered Russian waters from the Kerch Strait.

Taliban Terrorists Target Afghan Intel Training Center–100+ Dead

[Over 100 security killed in Taliban attack on Afghan military training center – reports]

A damaged building on Monday after a militant assault on a training center in Wardak Province run by the Afghan intelligence agency.CreditCreditJawad Jalali/EPA, via Shutterstock

By Fahim Abed and Fatima Faizi

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 40 Afghans working for the country’s intelligence agency were killed Monday in a militant assault on their base in Wardak Province, officials said, making it one of the single deadliest attacks against the agency in the 17-year war with the Taliban.

Akhtar Mohammad Khan Tahiri, the head of Wardak’s provincial council, said the target was a training center for pro-government militia members run by the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency.

The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said its fighters had detonated an armored Humvee full of explosives that “destroyed large parts of the base,” on the outskirts of the city of Maidan Shahar, before other suicide bombers arrived to raid the facility.

Two senior Afghan officials put the number of dead at 40 or 45, while dozens more were wounded. But Mohammad Sardar Bakhtyari, the deputy chief of Wardak’s provincial council, said the number of dead was higher, with the attack killing 50 intelligence personnel from a newly arrived unit out of the unit’s 150 members.

“First, the Humvee full of explosives drove inside the base with high speed. Those intelligence officers who were at the first gate were wounded in the explosion, but the Humvee was detonated inside the base,” Mr. Bakhtyari said. “Then three other suicide attackers came with a white Toyota to kill those who were wounded, but those wounded N.D.S. members opened fire on them and killed all of them. There was no long shootout.”

It was unclear how many of the dead were officers of the Afghan intelligence agency versus local militia members they were training. While security officials said the casualties were a mix of both, a statement by the Afghan president’s office made no mention of the militia members and said intelligence agency “personnel” had been targeted.

Afghan intelligence officers are better equipped and trained than the regular police and army, and their casualties have generally been lower than those of other forces.

But in recent years, as regular forces have been stretched by intensifying fighting across the country, Afghan intelligence officers — particularly the agency’s special forces — have often found themselves operating like regular forces, deployed to different areas to hold the line and taking on other tasks they are not meant for.

The intelligence agency has also worked to extend its forces around the country by training local militias. In the past, security officials have played down those efforts, casting the militias as organic movements of locals who are staging “uprisings” against the Taliban. But on Monday, they acknowledged that many men killed in the attack were militia members they had been training.

The attack in Wardak Province began early Monday morning, said Sharifullah Hotak, a member of Wardak’s provincial council.

“The explosion was very big,” he said. “It destroyed the building and damaged some houses close to the training center.”

The intelligence agency was using the center to train and equip pro-government militia members before sending them to other parts of the province to support security forces, according to Mr. Hotak.

Despite the cold winter in most parts of the country and American efforts to persuade the Taliban to sit down for talks with the Afghan government, violence continues unabated across the country.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the American special envoy for facilitating Afghan peace talks, is on the latest of several trips to the region over the past couple of months to build momentum for talks. After visiting Pakistan, where Taliban leaders enjoy sanctuary, Mr. Khalilzad struck an optimistic tone.

“We’re heading in the right direction with more steps by Pakistan coming that will lead to concrete results,” he wrote on his Facebook page Monday.

The Taliban launched a similar deadly attack in neighboring Logar Province on Sunday, targeting a convoy of senior officials that included the provincial governor and intelligence chief.

Shams Larawai, the spokesman for the governor of Logar, said that both officials had “escaped the attack unharmed,” but that seven police officers and an intelligence officer had been killed and 10 members of the security forces — most of them police officers — had been wounded.

Mujib Mashal contributed reporting.

Anti-Boycott Movement Creating Awareness of Israeli Domination of US Congress

Anti-BDS bill: For Israel, the terrain is shifting unfavourably

#BDS

Photo: A protester holds a sign promoting BDS on 9 June 2018 in Berlin (AFP)

Dehumanising Palestinians used to be easier but decades of deep-rooted, civil society activism by Palestinian Americans and their allies is bearing fruit

Ben White

A battle over efforts to suppress the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has become headlines news in the United States, in the context of an ongoing federal government shutdown.

Last Thursday, the Senate failed for a second time to advance a bill that includes “The Combating BDS Act” legislation giving cover to states that penalise businesses and individuals who participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The main obstacles

While the Democrats have refused to back any legislation before the federal shutdown is resolved, a third attempt to advance the anti-BDS legislation is expected. Democrat Senator Bob Menendez has said that the bill “will come back and it will have very strong bipartisan support”.

Despite opposition, the anti-BDS bill may, ultimately, become law. But those pro-Israel advocacy groups, such as AIPAC, pushing such initiatives have faced – and will continue to face – three significant obstacles in their efforts to make an exception of Palestine and Palestinian human rights.

Pro-Israel advocacy groups have faced – and will continue to face – three significant obstacles in their efforts to make an exception of Palestine and Palestinian human rights

First is the cultural and constitutional commitment to freedom of speech in the United States. Such is the strength of this commitment that even some passionate opponents of BDS are vocally opposed to the criminalisation of the boycott campaign.

A significant element of the opposition to the bill has come via the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), with the veteran organisation denouncing what it has called “a measure intended to suppress protected political expression”.

While the ACLU has repeatedly stated that it takes “no position on Israel boycotts, the BDS movement or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, the organisation has maintained that “states should not be sanctioning businesses on the basis of First Amendment-protected expression and association”.

Palestinian activism

When bill sponsor, Senator Marco Rubio, defended the initiative by rejecting claims it was about free speech, this merely invited a public dressing down on his understanding of the constitution. A second obstacle for those seeking to criminalise BDS is the fact that boycott has a long tradition and history in the US as a form of popular protest and civil society mobilisation.

As the ACLU wrote: “Political boycotts, including boycotts of foreign countries, have played a pivotal role in this nation’s history – from the boycotts of British goods during the American Revolution to the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the campaign to divest from apartheid South Africa.”

In targeting BDS, pro-Israel groups have to make the case that Palestinians are not worthy of the same human rights as other people

Amjad Iraqi, writing in London Review of Books last July, cited an even wider tradition that includes “the Swadeshi movement’s boycott of British goods in India”, “the economic boycott of Nazi Germany” by European and American Jewish organisations in the 1930s, and the Delano Grape Strike in California in the 1960s”.

Iraqi correctly noted how “Israel insists that the Palestinian cause can’t be included in the venerable history of boycotts”. This means that Israel and pro-Israel advocacy groups have to argue that BDS is “different” – a task made harder by a third obstacle to the anti-BDS crackdown: Palestinian activism.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is interviewed by Claire Shipman during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference at the Washington Convention Center on 6 March 2018 in Washington, DC (AFP)

In targeting BDS, pro-Israel groups have to make the case that Palestinians are not worthy of the same human rights as other peoples, and in parallel, that Israel should not be held to the same standards that other countries are, including those subjected to sanctions by Congress.

Dehumanising Palestinians used to be easier – and it is still all too common – but decades of deeply rooted, civil society activism by Palestinian Americans and their allies is bearing fruit, with support for Palestinians increasingly expressed in the mainstream spaces of media, culture and politics.

Shifting terrain

As I describe in my book, Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel, one manifestation of these changes is the polarisation between Republican and Democrat voters over Israel and the Palestinians, with liberals and progressives being increasingly alienated from Israel.

These changes are no longer restricted to the grassroots. As The New York Times reported ahead of the Congressional mid-terms, newly elected representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib have all “dared to breach what has been an almost inviolable orthodoxy in both political parties”, namely “strong support for Israel”.

“Running on platforms that emphasize opposing discrimination against marginalized groups,” the paper added, “candidates have introduced the Palestinian issue as what they call a larger commitment to social justice.”

Why BDS is the right way to combat Israeli apartheid

Writing in Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week, correspondent Amir Tibon highlighted a “challenge” facing “Israeli diplomats and groups like AIPAC” in “the current political environment” – “the growing ‘progressive wing’ within the Democratic Party which is very critical of Israel, and now includes two members of the House of Representatives who openly endorse BDS”.

This is not to deny the very considerable energies being put into fighting the BDS movement at both state and federal level – not to mention the repression and censorship experienced by students and faculty at universities. And, to reiterate, this latest legislative effort may even ultimately be passed.

But the obstacles faced by those leading the legislative fight against BDS in the US are evidence that for Israel, long used to getting its own way, the terrain is shifting unfavourably.

– Ben White is the author of  Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide and Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy. He is a writer for Middle East Monitor and his articles have been published by Al Jazeera, al-Araby, Huffington Post, the Electronic Intifada, the Guardian’s Comment is Free and more.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

S.170 – Combating BDS Act of 2017

Cosponsors (48)

* = Original cosponsor
Cosponsor Date Cosponsored
Sen. Manchin, Joe, III [D-WV]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Crapo, Mike [R-ID]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Nelson, Bill [D-FL]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Hatch, Orrin G. [R-UT]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Cotton, Tom [R-AR]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Portman, Rob [R-OH]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Peters, Gary C. [D-MI]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Cruz, Ted [R-TX]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Stabenow, Debbie [D-MI]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Murkowski, Lisa [R-AK]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Bennet, Michael F. [D-CO]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Blunt, Roy [R-MO]* 01/17/2017
Sen. Wicker, Roger F. [R-MS] 01/24/2017
Sen. Lankford, James [R-OK] 01/24/2017
Sen. Young, Todd C. [R-IN] 01/24/2017
Sen. Capito, Shelley Moore [R-WV] 01/24/2017
Sen. Inhofe, James M. [R-OK] 01/24/2017
Sen. Perdue, David [R-GA] 01/24/2017
Sen. Heller, Dean [R-NV] 01/24/2017
Sen. Tillis, Thom [R-NC] 02/03/2017
Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS] 02/03/2017
Sen. McConnell, Mitch [R-KY] 02/16/2017
Sen. Grassley, Chuck [R-IA] 03/07/2017
Sen. Schumer, Charles E. [D-NY] 03/13/2017
Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [D-DE] 03/13/2017
Sen. Toomey, Pat [R-PA] 03/23/2017
Sen. Cantwell, Maria [D-WA] 04/24/2017
Sen. Ernst, Joni [R-IA] 04/24/2017
Sen. Fischer, Deb [R-NE] 05/18/2017
Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME] 05/22/2017
Sen. Boozman, John [R-AR] 06/07/2017
Sen. Sasse, Ben [R-NE] 06/13/2017
Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT] 06/20/2017
Sen. Roberts, Pat [R-KS] 07/12/2017
Sen. Kennedy, John [R-LA] 07/20/2017
Sen. Strange, Luther [R-AL] 07/24/2017
Sen. Gardner, Cory [R-CO] 07/25/2017
Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA] 07/25/2017
Sen. Scott, Tim [R-SC] 09/05/2017
Sen. Casey, Robert P., Jr. [D-PA] 11/28/2017
Sen. Risch, James E. [R-ID] 03/06/2018
Sen. Hyde-Smith, Cindy [R-MS] 08/23/2018

Reverse the trend toward world domination

Reverse the trend toward world domination

BOULDER, CO.

David Clifton

Join with other Americans in working toward a multi-polar world.

It is time for Americans to reject the federal empire’s quest for world domination, and to support people and nations in working together for the common good.

Doing so will reverse the trend begun when JFK’s assassins took over the country, and began their reign of terror against America and the rest of the world.

David Clifton

Boulder

Brit Press Pins Trump Syria Slow-Down On Fear For Troops’ Safety, Then Troops Are Bombed In Manbij, Syria

U.S. troops killed in Syria suicide attack claimed by ISIS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump was reeling from sharp rebukes at home and abroad over his surprise announcement last month to immediately pull American troops out of Syria when he flew into the al Asad airbase in neighboring Iraq the day after Christmas.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops in an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Inside a canvas Quonset hut, one of the arced prefabricated structures used by the military and surrounded by concertina wire, Trump received operational briefs from U.S. commanders suggesting a territorial victory against Islamic State was within sight, but the military needed just a bit more time, U.S. officials said.

“They were upbeat about their ability to wrap things up,” one of the officials told Reuters. “I definitely think that was a seminal meeting” in terms of influencing Trump’s thinking.

(Graphic: Islamic State in Syria and Iraq control zones – tmsnrt.rs/2S9TGpu)

Lieutenant General Paul LaCamera, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, explained to a president who had lost patience with the war why too rapid a withdrawal could not be done without putting troops at risk, according to three officials familiar with the briefing, the contents of which have not been reported in such detail.

In the chaotic aftermath of Trump’s Dec. 19 announcement, which was one of the reasons that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned, the 45-minute briefing appears to have helped crystallize an understanding between Trump and his top brass on the ground. Trump, in remarks to reporters, admitted that he felt better about the situation after talking to commanders in the theater instead of officials in Washington.

The briefing also helped win the U.S. military and diplomats some breathing room to plan a more deliberate exit from Syria.

It was a novel experience for the president, who was making his first visit to a war zone in his nearly two years in office, fresh from a political pummeling over his decision on Syria from fellow Republicans in Congress and U.S. allies.

Nearly three weeks after the briefing, no troops have withdrawn from Syria and only some equipment has moved out.

The Great American Foreign Policy Realignment

[The following article is a timely reminder from American Conservative that demonstrates a primary aspect of modern US electoral politics, the slippery policy of the Dem. Party to effectively impersonate the Republicans at election time.  The slippery policy adapted itself to each new election, with Dem. Pres. Clinton set the pattern as he adopted Republican war and monetary policies to establish his “global order”,  successfully maintaining the “continuity” of hard-line military and economic policies set by the Reagan Administration.  Obama prospered as a “pseudo-Republican”, advancing the Republican terror war agenda to the farthest reaches of the planet. 

The following post demonstrates that principle unfolding in the Tulsi Gabbard presidential campaign.]

Tulsi Gabbard and the Great Foreign Policy Realignment

Her anti-war candidacy, and Democrats’ growing hawkishness, show that the winds are blowing in a new direction.

“There’s one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace.” Those were the words of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat of Hawaii, appearing on CNN on January 12, as she threw her hat into the presidential ring.

Gabbard is one of the few Democrats in the 2020 mix who has experience as a combatant in war. Back in 2004, at the peak of fighting in Iraq, she volunteered for duty with the Hawaii National Guard as it was deployed to that country. So for her, as well as for all the other veterans of our recent wars of choice, America’s Middle East policy is more than an object for armchair strategizing.

Thus did Gabbard smile in agreement when CNN host Van Jones summarized her views as “hawk on terror, dove on regime change.” And most Americans would agree: that is, everybody wants an anti-terrorism policy, but few want more foreign wars and regime changes.

Interestingly, Gabbard’s words and related anti-war actions make her a controversial figure on today’s Left. As one Democratic activist tweeted to her nearly 27,000 followers, “She has defended and met with Assad. She sided with Putin over Obama regarding Syria.” It is true that Gabbard, a long-time critic of military intervention in Syria, went to Damascus in January 2017 to meet with Bashar al-Assad. Moreover, immediately after the 2016 election, Gabbard met even with the dreaded Donald Trump.

Some will say, of course, that this is what diplomacy is all about: one engages people in dialogue, including antagonists, foreign and domestic. For instance, during the Vietnam War, plenty of Americans traveled to North Vietnam—including, most notoriously, Jane Fonda—and while such trips caused storms on the Right, few on the Left were bothered.

Yet these days, the Left is bothered. For example, Rolling Stone, once at the vanguard of the anti-war counterculture, is now among those raining down thunder on the anti-war candidate. Its headline: “Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 Campaign May Be Over Before It Starts.”

Yes, times do change. Back in 1972, Senator George McGovern, himself a decorated combat veteran of World War II, ran on a strongly anti-Vietnam War platform—and Rolling Stone was right there with him. In the words of one writer for the magazine, “McGovern is indisputably a man of conscience.” Another RS writer went further: “George McGovern [is] the only candidate in either party worth voting for.”

As we all know, McGovern won the Democratic nomination that year, but was then crushed by Richard Nixon in the general election. And yet dovishness survived that defeat. In the 1970s and ’80s, grassroots McGovernites took over much of the Democratic Party.Of course, those were also the years when the Democrats had a hard time winning the presidency—even as they kept a firmer grip on Congress—and that fact was not lost on party insiders. So by 1992, when Bill Clinton won the presidential nomination, Democrats had refashioned themselves to be more hawkish (the preferred word was “muscular”).

Clinton himself didn’t have much standing as a hawk. He had, after all, avoided the draft during the Vietnam War, and had been a staffer on McGovern’s 1972 campaign. Nevertheless, from the comfort and safety of the Oval Office, he was happy to posture as aggressive.

Later, in 2002, Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, another ex-McGovernite, was joined by most Senate Democrats in supporting President George W. Bush’s Iraq war resolution.

Yet even as many Democrats were given over to the liberal version of neoconservatism, anti-war Democrats had hardly disappeared. For instance, Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential nomination in large part because had opposed the Iraq war. Of course, once he was in office, to the vexation of doves, he chose Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state, thereby giving over much of his presidency to Clinton-style military intervention.

One unexpected consequence of this Obama-Clinton hawkishness was the 2016 intra-party insurgency of Senator Bernie Sanders, a lifelong dove who had voted “no” on that same Iraq war resolution.

Enter Gabbard. Having been elected to Congress in 2012, she resigned her post as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 so that she could explicitly support Sanders. (This at a time when the DNC was implicitly supporting Hillary Clinton.)

In other words, looking to 2020, Gabbard can rightfully claim her share of the anti-war mantle—even if Sanders chooses to run again.

Yet these days, it remains to be seen how many Democrats count themselves as anti-war. Indeed, according to a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll, just 29 percent of Democrats support withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, while 50 percent oppose. As for Afghanistan, by a one-point plurality, Democrats count themselves as hawks.

So what’s going on with the Democrats? Is dovish McGovernism dead? Part of the phenomenon, of course, is knee-jerk opposition to Trump. That is, if the president says he wants to get out of Syria and to draw down in Afghanistan, well, that’s the cue for Democrats to take the opposite position. Such is the nature of partisanship.

Yet it’s also true that the Democrats are changing. That is, many neoconservatives, having supported Bush 43 and Republicans, then turned against Trump and the GOP in 2016; they have, in effect, joined the Democratic Party. And in so doing, they’ve given the Democrats a distinctly Hillary-like—if not Bush 43-like—aspect. Most notably, MSNBC, which styles itself as the most progressive of the cable news channels, has become a haven for Bush 43 alums.

Writing in The Intercept on January 11, Glenn Greenwald summed up the new tendency in the Democratic Party:

What’s happening here is far more insidious. A core ethos of the anti-Trump #Resistance has become militarism, jingoism, and neoconservatism. Trump is frequently attacked by Democrats using longstanding Cold War scripts wielded for decades against them by the far right: Trump is insufficiently belligerent with U.S. enemies; he’s willing to allow the Bad Countries to take over by bringing home U.S. soldiers.

Will that sort of rhetorical pile-driving open up a path for Gabbard as the dovish candidate—or will it simply harden the opposition to her? We’ll have to see.

In the meantime, as the hawks have migrated to the Left, the doves have migrated to the Right. According to that same Politico/Morning Consult poll, 73 percent of Republicans support getting out of Syria: that’s a whopping 44 points more than the Democrats. And 76 percent of Republicans endorse reducing our footprint in Afghanistan.

In other words, within the GOP, the foreign policy positions of, say, Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Justin Amash—joined by, on some days, Trump himself—are in the ascendancy. Indeed, the same survey shows that the bulk of voters take dovish positions on the two foreign conflicts.

Of course, Gabbard is running for the Democratic nomination—and as we have seen, the Democratic Party now abounds with newly arrived hawks. Yet it’s still hard to believe that rank-and-file Democrats are really getting excited about foreign military adventures.

In the meantime, Gabbard is undeniably progressive on most issues. For instance, in 2017, long before Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal was a thing, Gabbard introduced legislation to eliminate fossil fuels by 2035.

In these times, of course, nobody’s crystal ball is working well. And yet it does seem fair to say this much: if Gabbard could somehow win the 2020 Democratic nomination, she’d likely be formidable in the November election. That is, she’s a woman, she’s “diverse”—she was the first Hindu elected to Congress—and she’s a combat veteran with a no-nonsense attitude toward terrorism. And yes, she’s pro-peace. These days, among Americans overall, that’s a winning hand.

Indeed, ever since 2016, when the candidacies of Trump and Sanders seemed to run parallel to each other—and in opposition to their respective party establishments—observers have wondered whether the two political insurgencies, still ongoing, might not ultimately discover that they have much in common. That is, both are more focused on domestic policy than on foreign policy; one might even say that both are more nationalist than globalist.

We might add that such a fusion is already occurring in Europe, where the anti-establishment Right and Left are finding common ground against, most immediately, the European Union—and international institutions in general. Such an alliance has already happened in Italy, where the right-leaning League and the left-leaning Five Stars, joined in an upstart coalition, have taken power in Rome.

Today, in Gabbard’s candidacy, one sees a glimmer of the same sort of possible fusion here in the United States.

Yes, it’s only a glimmer. Yet Gabbard is just 37. She has time.

James P. Pinkerton is an author and contributing editor at The American Conservative. He served as a White House policy aide to both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

US Spends $5.9 Trillion To Quadruple the Number of Sunni Islamist Terrorists Worldwide

Yes, America Is Exporting Terrorism

Most World Terrorism Is By Sunni Terrorists, 4 Years Running

USA, CIA Created Sunni Islamic Terrorism

Mission accomplished? Number of Sunni terrorists worldwide quadrupled from Sept 11, 2001 – study

Mission accomplished? Number of Sunni terrorists worldwide quadrupled from Sept 11, 2001 – study

Despite Washington’s extremely costly worldwide ‘War on Terror’, nearly four times as many Sunni Islamic militants are operating around the world today as on September 11, 2001, a new study has found.

As many as 230,000 jihadists are spread across 70 countries, with the largest concentrations of terrorists located in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington DC think tank.

The shocking reported spike in the number of Sunni jihadists worldwide raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the US-led Global War on Terrorism, which was launched in the wake of the deadly attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Reverse effect: Number of global Jihadists quadrupled since ‘War on Terror’ began

US taxpayers have already forked over a mind-melting $5.9 trillion to fund the massive and increasingly secretive war – but the noble pursuit of eradicating terrorism has apparently had the opposite effect. Ironically, the think tank has called for the US to double-down, arguing that withdrawing forces from Africa and the Middle East would only embolden terrorist groups.

If America Stopped Destroying The World, The Bad Guys Might Win

If America Stopped Destroying The World, The Bad Guys Might Win

 MEDIUM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Saturday that the government under Venezuela’s recently re-inaugurated president Nicolas Maduro is “illegitimate”, and that “the United States will work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country.”

Pompeo’s remarks, which were echoed by Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, are interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is because Venezuela’s presidential election in May of last year (which incidentally was found to have been perfectly legitimate by the international Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America) was actively and aggressively meddled inby the US and its allies. The second is that while the US government is openly broadcasting its intention to keep interfering in Venezuela’s political system, it continues to scream bloody murder about alleged Russian interference in its own democratic process two years ago.

What is the difference between the behavior of the United States, which remains far and away the single worst offender in foreign election meddlingon the planet, and what Russia is accused of having done in 2016? According to a comment made by former CIA Director James Woolsey last year, it’s that the US interferes in foreign democracies “for a very good cause.”

And that’s really the only argument that empire loyalists have going for them on this subject. The US is different because the US has moral authority. It’s okay for the US to continue to interfere in the political affairs of foreign nations while it would be an unforgivable and outrageous “act of war” for a nation like Russia to do the exact same thing, because the US is countering the interests of the Bad Guys while Russia is countering the interests of the Good Guys. Who decided who the Good Guys and Bad Guys are in this argument? The US.

This “What we do is good because we’re the Good Guys” faith-based doctrine was regurgitated with full-throated zealotry in a recent speech given by Pompeo in Cairo, in which he cited “America’s innate goodness” in making the absolutely ridiculous claim that “America is a force for good in the Middle East” which has been “absent too much” from the region previously. America’s nonstop deadly interventionism in the Middle East is “good”, because America is “innately good”.

America’s constant military interventionism, election interference and other nastiness are painted as Good Things done by Good Guys to fight the Bad Guys. The argument, when you boil it right down, is that if America wasn’t constantly starting wars, invading sovereign nations, staging coups, sponsoring proxy conflicts, arming terrorists, bombing civilians, torturing people, implementing starvation sanctions on impoverished populations, pointing nuclear weapons everywhere, spying on us all with a globe-spanning Orwellian surveillance network, interfering in foreign elections, and patrolling the skies with flying death robots, the Bad Guys might win.

Sort of makes you wonder who the Bad Guys really are, huh?

Lee Camp [Redacted]

@LeeCamp

Things our foreign policies are not about:
* values
* freedom
* terrorism
* democracy
* human rights

Things our foreign policies are about:
* profit
* Wall Street
* Imperialism
* natural resources
* global economic dominance

The theme of Good Guys fighting Bad Guys resonates with a population that has been raised for generations on Hollywood films featuring a handsome action hero emerging victorious after a ninety-minute struggle and karate kicking an ugly villain off a cliff before kissing the pretty girl, but it doesn’t accurately reflect the reality we actually live in. Our world is dominated by extremely powerful people who are motivated not out of interest in good or evil but a drive toward power and profit which is completely disinterested in morality of any kind, and the empires they build for themselves have their foundations on the backs of ordinary people who are just trying to get by. The majority of those extremely powerful people either live in the United States or have formed alliances with US power structures, and all their agendas in Asia, South America, the Middle East and elsewhere have nothing to do with “protecting democracy” or being a “force of good”, and everything to do with amassing more power.

Even among those who recognize that the US-centralized empire isn’t a shining beacon of virtue in our world, the notion remains prevalent that if American power ceases to be a unipolar dominator then someone worse will take over the world. This fear-based mindset ultimately underlies all establishment manipulation and all educated support for it: the idea that someone needs to rule and dominate the world to prevent someone else from doing the same. But what are the fruits of this mindset? A corporatist Orwellian dystopia hurtling toward climate collapse if nuclear war doesn’t kill us all first.

We can’t keep doing this. We literally can’t; we’ll evolve beyond this fear-based dominator paradigm or we’ll all perish beneath its feet very soon. We are now in a position where our irrational fear of being invaded by China has pushed us to the brink of extinction, so it isn’t even a gamble to step off that train and try something else instead.

It is entirely possible that the US is capable of functioning like a normal nation and simply defending its own shores and sustaining itself without interfering in world affairs. It is entirely possible that the threat everyone imagines of some foreign power stepping in as the unipolar dominator should America vacate that role is the product of fearful imaginings with no bearing on reality and a fundamental misunderstanding of humanity. It is entirely possible that we are capable of creating a world where nobody dominates anybody, and no iron-fisted world leader of any kind is needed. Either way, the train we’re on is headed for a brick wall, so we’ve now got nothing to lose by stepping off.

Trump Threatens To Intensity the Economic War Against Turkey, If Strike On Kurds Occurs

KEY POINTS

  • “Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions,” he said on Twitter late Sunday.

  • “Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” he added.

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded, saying that nothing could be achieved with economic threats and that partner nations shouldn’t communicate over social media, Reuters reported Monday.

GP: Donald Trump Rose Garden 190104
President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 4, 2019 following a meeting with Congressional leaders on the government shutdown.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump issued a threat to NATO ally Turkey while defending his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.

“Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions,” he said on Twitter late Sunday. “Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….”

”…Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey,” the president added in a further tweet.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….

The White House, State Department and Pentagon did not respond to CNBC requests for comment or elaboration at the time of publication.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded, saying that nothing could be achieved with economic threats and that partner nations shouldn’t communicate over social media, Reuters reported Monday. The minister added that Trump’s Syria tweets stemmed from domestic politics.

American support for Kurdish militias in Syria has been a major thorn in relations between Washington and Ankara, as the latter views the Kurds as terrorists and a threat to their security.

The militias, known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), are the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an offshoot of the designated terrorist group called the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has carried out a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state. They are also America’s primary partners on the ground in Syria: The Pentagon has been supplying the YPG with weaponry, air support and training to battle IS since 2015, and the militias have suffered thousands of casualties fighting for the U.S.-led coalition.

Ankara has for months threatened a military offensive against the Kurds in northeastern Syria, refusing to view their presence as legitimate. Thousands of Turkish troops have taken positions along the Syrian-Turkish border amid warnings from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of an “imminent” Turkish attack.

Following a torrent of domestic and international criticism for what many called an abandonment of its partners, Trump administration officials last week framed the withdrawal of the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops deployed in Syria as contingent on a guarantee of Turkish non-aggression and protection for the Kurds.

Turkey’s politicians, including Erdogan, have flatly rejected the American efforts.

Thorny relations between NATO partners

The last year was a largely fraught one between the longtime NATO allies thanks to heightened tensions over Syria policy, Turkey’s purchase of Russian weapons systems alongside American ones, and Ankara’s detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. The latter diplomatic crisis prompted Trump in August to announce sanctions on Turkish officials and threaten new tariffs.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!

Last summer, Turkey’s lira — already falling due to a gaping current account deficit, over-leveraged banks and its president’s refusal to raise interest rates despite double-digit inflation — tanked further after Trump threatened to double tariffs on Turkey’s steel and aluminum. By August, the currency had depreciated by some 40 percent against the dollar since the start of 2018.
Economic threats revisited?

On the news of Trump’s tariff threat, it lost 30 percent of its value in a single day. Erdogan accused the U.S. of launching “economic warfare” and hit back with his own tariff threats, while S&P Global Ratings that month issued a recession warning for Turkey for 2019.

The lira has since rebounded, though not to its mid-2017 levels of roughly 3.5 lira to the dollar. The currency saw major relief after Ankara agreed to release Brunson to the U.S. in October and the tariff threats were walked back.

The dollar was up percent against the lira on Monday at 12:40 p.m. London time, with a buck buying 5.5130 lira.

Speaking to CNBC Monday, James Jones, a former U.S. national security advisor and former supreme allied commander of NATO forces in Europe, said the conflicts between Washington and Ankara should not be litigated in public, but rather by careful discussion between the two governments.

“You really have to have serious meetings at both capitals with the intent of fixing what right now is somewhat fractured,” he said.

— CNBC’s Shirley Tay contributed to this report

On a Path Toward WW III

On a Path Toward WW III

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

A war able to end all future wars may happen – because of the destructive power of today’s super-weapons, making pre-nuclear age ones seem like toys by comparison.

The possibility of WW III is real – perhaps inevitable the way scary events are unfolding.

If launched, global war 3.0 most likely will be waged with nuclear weapons and other WMDs – a doomsday scenario, crossing a Rubicon of no return, humanity’s survival up for grabs.

Bipartisan US hardliners dominating policymaking in Washington are hellbent on colonizing and controlling all countries worldwide – Russia and China the only ones able to challenge their imperial agenda, especially united.

Washington’s diabolical agenda involves consigning rule of law principles and democratic values to the dustbin of history, establishing ruler-serf societies worldwide (no middle class anywhere), waging endless wars, US dominated NATO operating as a global military force, the UN and other international agencies operating more as imperial tools than already.

The brave new world powerful interests in America envision will be more unsafe and unfit to live in than already. That’s where thing are heading unless increasingly likely global war kills us all.

Unfolding events should scare everyone. Endless US wars rage, other planned to be waged – Russia, China, and Iran key nations Washington targets ahead, wanting them and all others transformed into US vassal states.

Bipartisan hardliners in Washington operate by their own rules, no others. The Trump regime’s pullout of the JCPOA and INF Treaty were shots across the bow, indicating what’s likely coming.

Russian Security Council official Alexander Venediktov warned about the US seeking to radically change the nuclear missile balance of power in its favor.

Vladimir Putin warned that if the Trump regime leaves the INF Treaty as expected, and deploys missiles able to carry nuclear warheads near its borders, Russia will develop new missiles to counter them, adding:

“(W)e…have sea and airborne (missiles), and there will be no difficulty to carry out research-and-development and make them land-based if needed.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the following:

“Washington publicly announced its plans to withdraw from the (INF) treaty in October. Through the high-level bilateral channels, it was confirmed to us that this decision was final and wasn’t an attempt to initiate dialogue,” adding:

“We’ll be forced to come up with effective compensating measures. I’d like to warn against pushing the situation towards the eruption of new ‘missile crises.’ ”

“Russia isn’t threatening anybody, but has the necessary strength and means to counter any aggressor.”

Its super-weapons exceed the Pentagon’s best, including Avangard hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missiles (coming in early 2019) – able to carry multiple nuclear warheads and strike targets anywhere with pinpoint accuracy.

According to Tass, these weapons are “capable of flying at hypersonic speed in the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense.”

Last June, Putin said “the Avangard system is already in the process of its manufacture and has entered its serial production, and in 2019 we are planning to deliver it to the Armed Forces.”

Trump regime hardliners falsely accused Russia of breaching the INF Treaty. Putin accused Washington of “blatantly violat(ing)” the landmark agreement by deploying its Aegis Ballistic Missile system in Romania and Poland.

Trump officials “made hypothetical unfounded claims against us” – a pretext for likely greater US belligerence than already, the risk of military confrontation with Russia, China and Iran.

The US pullout “is one step towards an arms race,” Putin warned. Trump regime policies got the Bureau of the Atomic Scientists to move its Doomsday Clock to less than a full minute to midnight.

It was an unprecedented action, signifying the risk of catastrophic nuclear war or ecocide over the Trump regime’s threat to world peace and contempt for ecosanity.

Following Trump’s announced INF Treaty pullout last October, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the landmark agreement he and Ronald Reagan signed in 1987 means a “new arms race” has begun, adding:

Trump wants the US “release(d) from any obligations, any constraints, and not just regarding nuclear missiles.”

His belligerent agenda risks the demise of all post-WW II agreements to prevent another global war.

“There will be no winner in a ‘war of all against all’ – particularly if it ends in a nuclear war. And that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out,” Gorbachev ominously warned, adding:

“Faced with this dire threat to peace, we are not helpless. We must not resign. We must not surrender. Russia must “take a firm but balanced stand” with other nations worldwide – aiming for peace, wanting catastrophic nuclear war avoided.

The threat of its eruption is real, a doomsday scenario if waged with nuclear weapons. They’ll be no safe havens anywhere. Nuclear war risks ending all life forms on earth.

If waged, it’ll prove higher human intelligence is a curse, not a blessing.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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

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

Israel Demands Billions From Its Neighbors For Post-“Nakba” Eviction of Arab Jews

[After witnessing large swathes of the U.S. Govt acting as Israeli spokesmen and women, the introduction of bills in Congress and the state Congresses to outlaw criticism of Israel (SEE: The controversy over laws punishing Israel boycotts, explained).  Now the Hebrew Tribe spokesmen and their chorus of barking dogs are demanding for “reparations” from its Arab neighbors for the inhospitable treatment directed at Arab Jews, after the Jewish ethnic cleansing of Palestine, “Nakba“.]

Israel to seek reparation from Middle East nations

Daesh destroys Mosque of Biblical Prophet Jonah, Younis in July 2014 [Wikipedia]

Israel is seeking hundreds of billions of dollars in compensation from Middle Eastern countries where Jewish people fled or were expelled from.

The Jewish state has hired an unnamed international accounting company to estimate the damages it should seek per an expected US peace plan, according to a Hahadashot TV report.

Claims for assets in Iraq, Morocco, Syria, Egypt, Iran and Yemen are expected to reach $200 billion.

READ: Ancient Persian artifacts may become compensation for a bombing in Jerusalem

Those in Tunisia and Libya will reportedly reach $50 billion.

Iraq was long a historical home to the Jewish people. Additionally, relics of synagogues, Jewish homes, buildings, and other artifacts can be found throughout Kurdistan.

Between 1948 and 1951, more than 121,000 Jews left Iraq for the Holy Land in the so-called Operation Ezra and Nehemiah as Israel airlifted tens of thousands of Jews following the Iraqi government’s intensified persecution following the establishment of the State of Israel.

READ: PA calls for probe into Israel theft of Palestinian antiquities

It is not clear how many Jewish families remain in Iraq, but estimates have put the figure at just a handful. Iraq continues not to recognize the country and forbids the central and regional government from having diplomatic relations.

Heritage sites of Muslims, Christians, and Jews were targeted and/or destroyed by Daesh.

The consequences of Daesh – Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

China Targets S. China Sea Region With Deadly Carrier Killer Missile After Last U.S. Naval Incursion

[SEE: China’s Carrier Killer Missile Complicates US Navy Plans]


File photo taken on Sept. 3, 2015 shows DF-26 missiles attending a military parade in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua) 

China’s far-reaching, anti-ship ballistic missile the DF-26 has been mobilized to Northwest China’s plateau and desert areas, reported China’s national broadcaster on Tuesday after a US warship trespassed into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea on Monday.

The DF-26 is China’s new generation of intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of targeting medium and large ships at sea. It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

The DF-26 is attached to a brigade under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force that operates in Northwest China’s plateau and desert areas, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

The report said the missiles are now capable of mobile operations across the country. It was unclear from the CCTV report when the missiles were mobilized.

A mobile missile launch from deep in the country’s interior is more difficult to intercept, a Beijing-based military expert, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

During the initial phase of a ballistic missile launch, the missile is relatively slow and not difficult to detect, making it an easier target for enemy anti-missile installations, the expert noted.

After the missile enters a later stage, its speed is so high that chances for interception are significantly lower, the expert said.

This is also the first time the missile has made a close-up public appearance since it came into service with the PLA, cctv.com reported.

The timing of the report sparked discussions among Chinese military observers online, as it came after the USS McCambell, a US guided missile destroyer, trespassed into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands on Monday without permission from the Chinese government.

China dispatched aircraft and warships to warn the US vessel and has lodged a solemn representation with the US, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Monday.

The report is a good reminder that China is capable of safeguarding its territory, the anonymous expert said. “Even when launched from deeper inland areas of China, the DF-26 has a range far-reaching enough to cover the South China Sea.”

It can hit targets 4,500 kilometers away, china.com reported, making it capable of striking targets including US naval bases in Guam in the western Pacific.

In April 2018, Ministry of National Defense announced that the missile has officially joined the PLA Rocket Force.

 

Pompeo Effectively Delivers Israeli Ultimatum On U.S. Occupation of Syria

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:30 P.M.) – The U.S. will not be providing any reconstruction funds to Syria until all Iranian troops are withdrawn from the country, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a press conference in Cairo on Thursday.

According to Pompeo, the US will work with allies to “expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria.

Pompeo continued that due to former President Barakat Obama’s Middle East policies, Iran was able to strengthen their presence inside the region.

The U.S. Secretary of State would then add that the U.S. will not retreat from its terror fight until all Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) and Al-Qaeda terrorists were eradicated.

“America will not retreat until the terror fight is over. We will labor tirelessly alongside you to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadists that threaten our security and yours,” he added.

Three Different, Allegedly “Non-Terrorist” Explosions In As Many Days, In Magnitogorsk, Russia

Magnitogorsk: after all the terrorist attack …

[According to this report, the three attacks are linked in the following manner…investigators viewing previous night’s explosion at the apartment complex, observed a suspicious individual digging through a dumpster at the nearby Continental mall, where he was seen removing a cell phone from a device, evidently wired to blow…detectives detained the man and recovered an IED device from the Continental dumpster, and then traced the man’s previous path and numbers in the cell phone, leading them to the subjects in the Gazelle minivan, who opened fire upon the police, before detonating a suicide bomb, to end the firefight.

Obviously, terrorism, all linked to a single terrorist cell.]

Russian investigators deny explosives caused building blast that killed 39 in Magnitogorsk

Explosives in the shopping center, four dead and silence of the security forces

The truth will always win. Even if you die in battle

From the collapse of the house to the explosion of the “Gazelle”: a version linking the events of recent days in Magnitogorsk

In Magnitogorsk, a search operation is being completed to retrieve the bodies of the dead in the collapse of a house on Karl Marx Avenue, 164. Tomorrow is a funeral. The city is heartbroken and alarmed by the silence of the siloviki. Until now, there is no final official version of the explosion and collapse, there are no statements from the Russian IC on the explosion of a minibus and three killed in it. Meanwhile, a power source provided Znak.com with information that links together the events taking place in the city. This is unofficial information coming from anonymous interlocutors, so the degree of confidence in it must be appropriate. Although we are confident in our sources, we propose for the time being to treat the above as one of the possible scenarios, version.

The explosion of house number 164

On December 30, a lonely man (presumably a native of Central Asia) rents an apartment on the third floor of entrance number 7 in the house at Karl Marx, 164. At 6:08 am on December 31, an explosion thunders in the house, causing the entrance the man.

The security forces begin to work on emergency situations, checking all possible versions, although it was immediately announced that household gas was pulled.

“To make an explosion of such a force, it is not enough to forget to turn off the burner and strike a match. There must be a huge concentration. This can actually be achieved only intentionally. Or it’s not gas, ”says a source at Znak.com, who has worked for many years in the gas service in one of the cities in the Chelyabinsk region.

Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation / RIA News

Vladimir Putin arrives at the scene

On the evening of December 31, President Vladimir Putin arrives in Magnitogorsk. Appears a statement about the departure to the city of the head of the TFR Alexander Bastrykin, but in fact he will fly only in a day.

The head of state flies away after spending several hours in Magnitogorsk. At this time there is no information that the incident could have been a terrorist act.

Vladimir Putin in MagnitogorskVladimir Putin in MagnitogorskKremlin.ru

Explosives in shopping centers

Meanwhile, security officials look at the recordings of cameras located near the collapsed house, and notice a man coming out in the morning of December 31st without things from the house just before the explosion. The man is suspicious. Conduct operational activities and establish that he may be involved in extremist activity.

Then urgently throughout the city begin to check objects with a massive stay of people – you never know what. In the Continent shopping center, the cameras see that on January 1, during the day, a man resembling a person without a certain place of residence goes and inspects bins around the shopping center. In one of them suddenly stretches a hand, something gets and leaves. Man find and detain. The device he took turned out to be a cell phone with wires attached to it and an object similar to an improvised explosive device.

“The homeless man decided to steal the phone and somehow managed to break the wires so that he actually disarmed the explosives. As a result, it did not work, ”says the source of the site.

Immediately after the found phone, which was supposed to trigger the bomb in the urn, the special services began to work. And contacts were made of persons possibly involved in the appearance of explosives in a shopping center. The special operation begins.

Special operation and the explosion of “Gazelle”

As a result, security forces near the shopping center “Continent” go to the private “Gazelle” [minivan]. In it were several men. When they were arrested, they started shooting back, as a result, three were killed, and the Gazelle itself exploded. Previously, in the “Gazelle” criminals also had explosives with striking elements: shells. According to unconfirmed information, it exploded.

The explosion of a minibus. YouTube frameThe explosion of a minibus. YouTube frame

The fourth suspect managed to escape. So far we have no information whether he was near the “Gazelle” or rented an apartment in an exploding house. But there is evidence that on the night of January 2 a large-scale operation to detain him was launched in the city. Because of this, it is possible that people were watching riot police and dog handlers in the homes of Lenin 91 and 91/1.

The fourth suspect was killed during a detention at a rented apartment only on the afternoon of January 2, the source said. The results of the inspection of his apartment is not known.

Many questions

So far there are a lot of ambiguities and questions to law enforcement agencies. There is no answer. What kind of people were in the “Gazelle”: their age, occupation. At least – if it’s still simple citizens – do their families need help? How will the incident be qualified, because in 100% of such cases (if we talk about the banal explosion of a gas cylinder), the SC publishes information about the organization of the pre-investigation investigation into the death of people. Yet again: where and when was the fourth member of the group disarmed? Why did they block half of the city on the night of January 2 and frighten the inhabitants of the houses on Lenin Street? What happened to the house on Karl Marx Avenue – did a gas or a detonated explosive device explode? If all versions are nothing more than someone’s sick imagination and desire to invent small details for the sake of stuffing in the media – where is the refutation and argument.

It is unofficially known that the security forces still bind all the events, but so far have not given them any legal assessment. The whole picture restores the GCU IC of Russia. The operational support is provided by the FSB office in the Chelyabinsk region.

The press service of the UFSB for the Chelyabinsk region has so far refrained from commenting. The SU TFR in the Chelyabinsk Region was advised to contact Moscow for information. The press service of the Russian IC is silent on the evening of January 1. Due to the lack of information in Magnitogorsk, and indeed throughout the country, a variety of rumors and versions of what happened are discussed.

Sources Znak.com in the FSB of Russia in Moscow while confirming the version of the attack.

Is Trump’s Turnaround On Syria In Reaction To Bolton’s Overstepping His Authority Under Trump?

Bolton’s Hawkish Syria Plan Backfired, Pushing Trump to Get Out

The national security adviser expanded U.S. goals in Syria to challenge Iran. But Trump wasn’t on board, senior officials say, and Turkey took an opportunity to push the U.S. out.

EXCLUSIVE  Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

A fateful decision by National Security Adviser John Bolton to expand the United States’ goals in Syria backfired, and is a key reason why President Donald Trump ordered a total withdrawal of U.S. troops, two senior administration officials told The Daily Beast.

Bolton in September added a second mission to the already open-ended operation in Syria: In addition to destroying the so-called Islamic State, U.S. troops would stay in Syria indefinitely, forcing Iranian forces there to eventually withdraw.

Trump adopted a bellicose stance towards Tehran long before he became president. But he was never comfortable with an indefinite stay in Syria yoked to Iran. The officials said that Trump was willing to tolerate fighting ISIS, but was already uncomfortable with the duration of the war for that purpose. In the spring, he told audiences that he was willing to pull out of Syria “very soon,” something his senior advisers had to expend political capital to reverse.

Yet in September, Bolton—known as one of Washington’s most hawkish foreign policy hands, especially towards Iran—effectively reshaped the war, with a new goal. “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias,” he told reportersduring the United Nations General Assembly.

Some leading Pentagon officials were uncomfortable with Bolton’s anti-Iran goals in Syria. Days after Bolton’s statement, senior Pentagon officials signaled to Congress that they weren’t on board. “In Syria, our role is to defeat ISIS. That’s it,” Brig. Gen. Scott Benedict, an officer on the Joint Staff, testified to the House Armed Services Committee.

Bolton’s revised policy led to broad and public articulation by the State Department’s envoy on Syria, Ambassador Jim Jeffrey. But officials said Jeffrey was implementing what he thought was a policy Trump endorsed. “The president wants us in Syria until [Iran’s withdrawal] and the other conditions are met,” he said in late September.

“In Syria,” added Brian Hook, the State Department’s Special Representative for Iran, “we have three goals. It’s to defeat ISIS, it’s to remove all forces under Iranian control from Syria, and to advance an irreversible political process under UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”

“Bolton and Jeffrey repeatedly said U.S. forces are in Syria to counter Iran; the Defense Department never defined the mission that way. It was always about defeating ISIS,” a senior administration official said. “They were adamant about countering Iran, but the president never signed off on that mission.”

After initial publication of this story, a senior White House official told The Daily Beast in an email, “This is another instance of fake news. The basis of this article is inaccurate. The President has been clear that once the territorial caliphate was defeated, he would bring our troops home.”

But other officials said the expanded, open-ended mission was provocative to the Turks, who saw confirmation of their suspicions that the U.S. was presiding over the de facto creation of a northeastern Syrian Kurdish mini-state on its border, a prospect it considered intolerable.

The U.S. officials said that Turkey used Bolton and Jeffrey’s expanded mission as an opportunity to manufacture a crisis that proved to be decisive.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began threatening an invasion east of the Euphrates, where 2,000 U.S. troops were stationed alongside the Syrian Kurdish forces pivotal to fighting ISIS. Jeffrey traveled to Turkey on Dec. 4 for meetings about setting up a working group on Syria that would work out the political future of northeast Syria. Reportedly, the Turks were already dissatisfied with Jeffrey’s position that a Russia-Iran-Turkey diplomatic alliance to settle the Syrian civil war should be wound down.

During a Dec. 14 phone call first reported by the AP, Erdogan told Trump that his anti-ISIS mission was accomplished, and questioned the rationale of a prolonged U.S. deployment, with the prospect of a Turkish invasion hanging overhead. Erdogan, who requested the call, told Trump that Turkey could handle the ISIS threat in the future and then asked him: if ISIS is 99 percent defeated, “Why are you still there?”

One of the senior administration officials confirmed those details to The Daily Beast.

“Erdogan was like, look, I’m going in and the president was like OK, I’ll come out,” the senior official said—a response that shocked both U.S. officials and even Erdogan, who warned Trump against a precipitous pull-out.

In his first public statement following the call, Erdogan said Friday that Turkey will postpone its military operation “for a while.” But the damage is done, with Trump committed to his snap decision to withdraw U.S. troops.

“This is not real estate he cares about. He wasn’t thinking about the broader coalition,” the official said of Trump. “Everyone understood we would change our posture, but this was seemingly so knee-jerk, especially not having a plan with respect to the Kurds,” the official said.

The decision to pull out had immediate consequences in the fight against ISIS, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told The Daily Beast, “One thing that hasn’t been reported is, we were six weeks away from a major clearing operation [against ISIS] that has been planned for a long time. I got briefed on this a year ago—with ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley,” the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, referring to the area where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to be hiding.

The day after the Trump-Erdogan talk, a senior adviser to Erdogan warned that the expanded U.S. mission in Syria was turning the region into “another theater for proxy games” and that the de facto mini-state “poses a direct threat to our national security” that Ankara would not tolerate. He directly referenced the expanded U.S. mission.

“They say that now they are in Syria for three main reasons: one is the enduring defeat of [ISIS]; number two is to provide stability and secure Syria’s territorial integrity; and number three is, now they say it publicly, to get Iran and its forces out of Syria,” Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish presidential spokesperson, told the global policy-focused Doha Forum on Dec. 15, according to the Anadolu news agency.

Kalin was quoted at the forum as telling his “U.S. counterpart” that “Look, I can understand the first two goals, but good luck with the third one… That means [the] Syrian issue is no longer about [the] Syrian issue.”

The Pentagon is still negotiating to keep U.S. air power in the fight over Syria, in support of British and French troops who Pentagon officials hope will backfill departing U.S. troops on the ground. “The decisions are still in process,” the official said.

One source directly involved in the conversations about troop withdrawal from Syria said troops on the ground have been briefed on the announcement. Forces were told that some would withdraw to the U.S. base at al-Qaim, on the Iraqi side of the Syrian border, while others would be redeployed elsewhere. The New York Times reported Friday that the Pentagon is considering cross-border special operations raids into Syria staged from neighboring Iraq to mitigate an ISIS resurgence.

Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria prompted a contemptuous resignation from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the most internationally respected member of his administration. (“The most decorated Marine and thought leader on the military basically just said, ‘Fuck this,’” a source close to Mattis told The Daily Beast.) Several officials appeared blindsided—including Jeffrey, who on Monday gave a speech indicating he understood the expansive U.S. presence in Syria was still operative.

“D.C. seems in disarray now, especially after the Syria announcement,” one senior European official told The Daily Beast, echoing the reaction of allies in both the Middle East and NATO. “We are alarmed. It used to be Russia that was unpredictable.” Now, he said, it’s U.S. foreign policy that’s unpredictable.

And that volatility could have lethal consequences for the Kurdish forces—as well as Kurdish civilians—who sacrificed on behalf of the U.S. to fight ISIS once the final U.S. troops depart.

“They’ve done the majority of the fighting against ISIS in Syria,” one of the senior administration officials said. “How do you treat a partner like this?”

—with additional reporting by Roy Gutman and Erin Banco

UPDATE 10:47PM: This story has been updated with a comment from a White House official.

Pak/China Acquire Trail of Targeted BLA Baloch Leader After Publicized Treatment In New Delhi Hospital

[SEE: Baloch Separatist Leader Killed In Kandahar Attack: Reports]

Chinese consulate attack ‘mastermind’ being treated at New Delhi hospital

November 23, 2018

Sources say Aslam alias Achu is a BLA commander. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Sources say Aslam alias Achu is a BLA commander. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Mastermind of today’s terrorist attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi that resulted in martyrdom of two policemen is currently receiving medical treatment at a hospital in New Delhi.

Aslam alias Achu is a commander of proscribed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), who is being treated at Max Hospital in the Indian capital, sources told Express News on Friday.

They said Achu had fled after getting injured in an encounter with the Pakistani security forces 18 months ago. Several members of BLA were killed in the shootout, they added.

Photos of the BLA commander hospitalised in the New Delhi hospital have gone viral on social media after today’s incident in Karachi.

Attack on Chinese consulate foiled; two policemen martyred

The terrorist attempt was foiled by security forces and all staff members of the foreign mission were reported safe in today’s attack.

Two policemen were martyred in an exchange of fire with the terrorists. All three attackers were also killed in the ensuing gunfight with security forces.

DIG Karachi South Javeed Alam Odho elaborated that a terrorist with suicide vest was gunned down by security forces and the other two were also killed in the ensuing gunfight. A female police officer, SSP Suhai Talpur, led the operation against the terrorists.

A suicide jacket, arms and ammunition were recovered from the attackers.

US Forces Continue To Dominate Iraq’s Anbar Province, On Pretense of “Fighting ISIS”

[SEE: Outraged Iraqi Lawmakers Demand U.S. Troop Withdrawal, After Trump’s Insulting, Fly-In]

Abdul Mahdi’s claim on absence of pure US bases denied

mahdy

Council member Eid Ammash said in a press statement that US forces have a base in the Qa’im district north and south-east of the Euphrates River, a base in Rutba city, a base in Khan al-Baghdadi and a number of other bases in the desert of Anbar.

Ammash asserted that only the US combat forces are using these bases.

The US forces did not allow Iraqi forces to enter or to be present in the Anbar bases, whatever the reasons, Ammash said, noting that the province is witnessing intense US movements that the American troops have not informed the Iraqi government about.

Abdul Mahdi’s claims

Abdul Mahdi said on Sunday that there are no “pure”in the country.

This came during a press conference held after a governmental meeting in Baghdad, as major Shiite political forces and IMIS factions in the called for ending the US military presence in the country, and the closure of US bases.

Trump’s visit

Just one day after Christmas, US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrived in Anbar to visit the US troops serving in the region, which is his first such visit since taking office in January 2017.

Following Trump’s secret visit, many political parties, most of whom believed to be loyal to Iran voiced anger for what they described as violating diplomatic norms.

Head of the Shiite Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Qais Khazali condemned the visit, threatening to expel the US troops from Iraq either by law or by other ways.

“Trump’s visit to a US military base without regard to diplomatic norms reveals the reality of the American project in Iraq,” Khazali wrote on Twitter.

“The response of the Iraqis will be [translated to a] decision of the Parliament to remove your military forces by force,” Khazali stated.

Abdul Mahdi said that he was supposed to meet with the US President Donald Trump during his visit to Iraq, but the meeting was cancelled due to “disagreement over how to conduct the meeting,” the two leaders spoke by phone instead.

Truth behind US Military bases

The Anbar Provincial Council revealed that US forces have set up two new military bases in the province, including one near the Syrian border.

Council member Farhan al-Dulaimi said in a press statement that the two bases were established on empty land in Anbar, adding that the first was built at the Qa’im district on the Syrian border, while the second was set in the city Rutba, less than 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.

“The aim of the two bases is to help Iraqi forces control the country’s borders and to prevent the infiltration of ISIS terrorist gangs from entering the liberated cities,” Dulaimi explained.

The move comes about a week following US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw his country’s troops deployed in Syria. The announcement came following Trump’s surprise visit to US troops in Baghdad.

The spokesman for the Joint Operations Command Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul denied on Thursday reports on the establishment of the new bases.

“The recent statement of [the US-led] Coalition [against ISIS] confirmed that no new bases were established and that the military forces at the base of Ayn al-Asad are working within the framework approved by the Iraqi government and parliament,” Rasoul was quoted as saying.

Concerning the possibility that US forces stationed in Syria may move to Iraq with the start of the withdrawal process, Rasoul explained that “there has been no coordination between the US and Iraqi sides so far, and that he will announce any new steps or agreement in this regard.”

Rasould denied the existence of any US troops on the Iraqi-Syrian border, and explained that the forces stationed on the Syrian-Iraqi border consist of border guards,  the army and IMIS along 650 kilometers, which he said works to secure the border.

 

Another Medieval Arab War By Starvation, This One Waged By Saudis, For Us

Aid stolen as Yemen starves, investigation reveals–1 NEWS NOW, NZ

U.S.-Backed Troops Are Stealing Yemen’s Food Aid–DAILY BEAST

Yemen war: WFP accuses Houthi rebels of diverting food aid–BBC

Both sides in Yemen’s war steal food aid as people starve

ASSOCIATED PRESS
TAIZ, Yemen
In this Oct. 1, 2018, photo, a malnourished boy sits on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen. (AP Photo)

In this Oct. 1, 2018, photo, a malnourished boy sits on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen. (AP Photo)

Day after day Nabil al-Hakimi, a humanitarian official in Taiz, one of Yemen’s largest cities, went to work feeling he had a “mountain” on his shoulders. Billions of dollars in food and other foreign aid was coming into his war-ravaged homeland, but millions of Yemenis were still living a step away from famine.

Reports of organizational disarray and out-and-out thievery streamed in to him this spring and summer from around Taiz — 5,000 sacks of rice doled out without record of where they’d gone . . . 705 food baskets looted from a welfare agency’s warehouses . . . 110 sacks of grain pillaged from trucks trying to make their way through the craggy northern highlands overlooking the city.

Food donations, it was clear, were being snatched from the starving.

Documents reviewed by The Associated Press and interviews with al-Hakimi and other officials and aid workers show that thousands of families in Taiz are not getting international food aid intended for them — often because it has been seized by armed units that are allied with the Saudi-led, American-backed military coalition fighting in Yemen.

Across Yemen, factions and militias on all sides of the conflict have blocked food aid from going to groups suspected of disloyalty, diverted it to front-line combat units or sold it for profit on the black market, according to public records and confidential documents obtained by the AP and interviews with more than 70 aid workers, government officials and average citizens from six different provinces.

The problem of lost and stolen aid is common in Taiz and other areas controlled by Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is supported by the Saudi-led military coalition. It is even more widespread in territories controlled by the Houthi rebels, the struggling government’s main enemy during the nearly four years of warfare that has spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Some observers have attributed the near-famine conditions in much of the country to the coalition’s blockade of ports that supply Houthi-controlled areas. AP’s investigation found that large amounts of food are making into the country, but once there, the food often isn’t getting to people who need it most — raising questions about the ability of United Nations agencies and other big aid organizations to operate effectively in Yemen.

This year the U.N., the United States, Saudi Arabia and others have poured more than $4 billion in food, shelter, medical and other aid into Yemen. That figure has been growing and is expected to keep climbing in 2019.

Despite the surge in help, hunger — and, in some pockets of the country, famine-level starvation — have continued to grow.

An analysis this month by a coalition of global relief groups found that even with the food aid that is coming in, more than half of the population is not getting enough to eat — 15.9 million of Yemen’s 29 million people. They include 10.8 million who are in an “emergency” phase of food insecurity, roughly 5 million who are in a deeper “crisis” phase and 63,500 who are facing “catastrophe,” a synonym for famine.

Counting the number of people who have starved to death in Yemen is difficult, because of the challenges of getting into areas shaken by violence and because starving people often officially die from diseases that prey on their weakened conditions. The nonprofit group Save the Children estimates that 85,000 children under the age of 5 have died from starvation or disease since the start of the war.

In the northern province of Saada, a Houthi stronghold, international aid groups estimate that 445,000 people need food assistance. Some months the U.N. has sent enough food to feed twice that many people. Yet the latest figures from the U.N. and other relief organizations show that 65 percent of residents are facing severe food shortages, including at least 7,000 people who are in pockets of outright famine.

Three officials with the coalition-backed government told the AP that they would provide replies to questions about the theft of food aid, but then didn’t provide answers.

Officials at the agency that oversees aid work in Houthi territory — the National Authority for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs — did not return repeated phone calls from the AP.

U.N. officials have generally been cautious in public statements about the Houthis, based in part on worries that the rebels might respond by blocking U.N. agencies from access to starving people. But in interviews with the AP, two top U.N. relief officials used strong language in reference to both the Houthis and their battlefield adversaries.

“This has nothing to do with nature,” Cappelaere told the AP. “There is no drought here in Yemen. All of this is man-made. All of this has to do with poor political leadership which doesn’t put the people’s interest at the core of their actions.”

David Beasley, executive director of the U.N.’s food program, said “certain elements of the Houthis” are denying the agency access to some parts of rebel territory — and appear to be diverting food aid.

“It’s a disgrace, criminal, it’s wrong, and it needs to end,” Beasley said in an interview Sunday with the AP. “Innocent people are suffering.”

The rebels and the coalition forces have begun peace talks in recent weeks, a process that has led to a reduction in fighting and eased the challenges of getting food aid into and out of Hodeida, the port city that is a gateway to the Houthi-controlled north. But even if donors are able to get more food in, the problem of what happens to food aid once it makes landfall remains.

The war in Yemen began in March 2015 after Houthi rebels swept out of the mountains and occupied northern Yemen, forcing the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.

After the rebels began pushing farther south, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states formed a coalition to take on the Houthis, describing their involvement as an effort to stop Iran, which has ties to the Houthis, from gaining sway over Yemen.

The coalition launched a rolling campaign of airstrikes and imposed an air, land and sea embargo on the rebel-held north. The Houthis, in turn, have blocked a key access route to Taiz, making it difficult for aid groups to get food and other supplies into the city.

The Houthis, a Zaidi-Shiite religious movement turned rebel militia, control an expanse of northern and western Yemen that is home to more than 70 percent of the country’s population. In these areas, officials and relief workers say, Houthi rebels have moved aggressively to control the flow of food aid, putting pressure on international relief workers with threats of arrest or exile and setting up checkpoints that demand payments of “customs taxes” as trucks carrying aid try to move across rebel territory.

Each month in the rebel-governed city of Sanaa, he said, at least 15,000 food baskets that the education ministry was supposed to provide to hungry families were instead diverted to the black market or used to feed Houthi militiamen serving on the front lines.

Half of the food baskets that the U.N. food program provides to Houthi-controlled areas are stored and distributed by the ministry, which is chaired by the brother of the rebels’ top leader.

Moain al-Nagri, a managing editor at the Houthi-controlled daily newspaper, al-Thawra, told the AP that the paper learned last week that hundreds of its staffers had been falsely listed for more than a year as receiving food baskets from the education ministry. It’s not clear where those food baskets went, he said, but it’s clear that few of his employees received them.

A senior U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the issue, told the AP that enough aid is coming into the country to meet the demands of the hunger crisis, but much of it is stolen.

“If there is no corruption,” he said, “there is no famine.”

BLACK MARKETS

Throughout Yemen, food that is supposed to be given for free to starving families ends up for sale in markets.

The Houthis’ ministry of industry has documented hundreds of sacks of World Food Program flour being sold commercially after being repackaged by merchants, according to Abdu Bishr, who previously served as head of the ministry. Bishr, now a member of rebel-controlled parliament, says both sides in the war are to blame for failing to prevent the diversion of food aid.

“We have found entire stores packed with U.N. aid,” said Fadl Moqbl, head of an independent advocacy group, the Yemeni Association for Consumers’ Protection.

Because the war has wrecked the country’s economy, many Yemenis don’t have jobs or enough money to buy food in stores. Al-Hakimi, who worked for much of this year as the executive manager of the coalition-backed government’s local relief committee in Taiz, said Yemenis will need more than short-term handouts. They need help to rebuild the country’s economy and create jobs that will allow families to buy their own food.

When officials in Taiz asked al-Hakimi to take over as the relief committee’s manager, he hoped he could help turn around the hunger crisis that has been building in the city since the war began. He soon discovered the scale of challenges facing him.

“Here the only means to achieve anyone’s goals is through weapons,” he said. “Who gets on the beneficiaries’ lists? Those who have weapons. The poor, the most miserable, and the weak can’t get their names on the lists of beneficiaries, so the aid goes to the powerful.”

LION’S SHARE

Coalition bombing campaigns and guerrilla fighting on the ground have demolished homes, factories, water works and power plants and killed more than 60,000 combatants and civilians. More than 3 million people have been displaced, increasing the demand for food and other help from outside the country.

In a 2017 survey funded by the European Union, two-thirds of displaced Yemenis who responded said they hadn’t received any humanitarian aid, even though people forced from their homes are supposed to be key targets of U.N. relief efforts.

In displacement camps in the Houthi-controlled northern district of Aslam, barefoot children and mothers whose bodies have been reduced to skin and bone live in tents and huts made of sticks and sackcloth. The camps are not far from villages where the AP reported in September that families were trying to stave off famine by eating boiled tree leaves.

The U.N. and other global aid organizations estimate that 1.5 million Yemeni children are malnourished, including 400,000 to 500,000 who suffer life-threatening “severe acute malnutrition.”

One-year-old Nasser Hafez, who lived with his family in a camp called al-Motayhara, died Dec.12 from malnutrition and other complications at a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. He was in a coma for five days before his tiny body gave up.

His father and 16 members of his family have moved at least six times since the start of the war. Before, the father said, he had been a tailor, earning enough to feed his family meat, chicken and vegetables. He said he hasn’t received a single food basket from the U.N.’s World Food Program.

“They register us every month, maybe up to five times, but we never get food,” he said.

He said the family has gotten cash transfers every few months equal to $50 from the relief group Oxfam. It costs almost half that amount, he said, to buy 50 kilograms of World Food Program wheat from a market, which lasts his family only a week or two.

The Houthi rebels maintain tight control on how much food goes to which districts and who gets it. They manipulate the official lists of beneficiaries by giving preferential treatment to Houthi supporters and families of slain and wounded soldiers, according to relief workers and officials.

“Some areas in Yemen take the lion’s share and other areas receive a trickle,” said Bishr, the member of the Houthi-controlled parliament.

Five relief workers told the AP that they believe the U.N. and other international groups have been forced to sacrifice their independence in order to maintain access as they try to deliver aid to as many people as possible.

The Houthis “threaten decision-makers and international employees through permits and visa renewals,” a senior aid official told the AP. “Those who don’t comply will have their visas rejected.”

He said that he discovered his employees were tipping off the Houthis about the contents of his conversations and emails. When he complained about the spying, he said, the rebels pulled his visa and forced him to leave the country.

Beasley, the top official at the U.N. food program, said he believes some of the rebels in key positions do care about the welfare of struggling families and have worked well with his agency, but there are others “who don’t care about the people.”

“Anytime you are in a war zone, it’s a difficult situation and obviously when it comes to the United Nations we are neutral,” he said. But when it comes to making sure that food aid gets to the people who need it, “we can’t be neutral. We need to speak out in strongest voice, condemn it in every way.”

STRUGGLE IN TAIZ

Even before al-Hakimi took over as manager of Taiz’s relief committee, officials and activists complained about intrigues and outrages relating to donated food.

In September 2017, the relief committee sent a warning to the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, a charity run by the Saudi government and one of the key donors in Yemen. The letter said many of the 871,000 food baskets that the King Salman Center claims it has provided to Taiz and surrounding areas had been “lost and unaccounted for.” It said local groups that were supposed distribute the food were refusing to answer questions from the committee, apparently because they wanted to make sure “the truth never comes out” about where the food goes.

In the spring of 2018, the government in Taiz turned to al-Hakimi, who holds a doctorate in strategic development planning and has years of experience in training aid workers. Three relief workers in Taiz told the AP that al-Hakimi is known for being a principled person who won’t go along with corrupt deals.

He took the job after providing the committee a list of 14 conditions aimed at addressing the flaws in the aid distribution system, including a requirement that the committee approve and coordinate all aid deliveries in Taiz.

One problem al-Hakimi and other relief workers faced was the Houthis’ partial blockade of the city. The Houthis — who had taken over Taiz in the spring of 2015 but were pushed out by coalition forces in late 2016 — still control a key highway leading into the city. This slows the transport of aid into the city and limits how much can get in.

Despite the challenges, he won some victories after he started his new job. In one instance, he reached out to a military commander and secured the return of 110 sacks of flour that had been snatched from trucks in the highlands north of the city.

But in most cases, once the aid was gone, it was gone for good.

In early June, al-Hakimi and a local official demanded, to no avail, that an army unit known as Brigade 17 return 705 food baskets that had been lifted from a warehouse — as well as the “personal weapon” of the guard who had been trying to protect the goods.

“I talked to everyone but there was no action,” al-Hakimi said. “The commander acted as if he wasn’t in charge.”

Brig. Gen. Abdel-Rahman al-Shamsani, the commander of Brigade 17, denies that his unit took the food baskets. He told the AP that recipients who had grown tired of waiting had “raided” the warehouse and taken food that was intended for them anyway.

As problems piled up, al-Hakimi aimed a flurry of complaints at bureaucrats and military officers. In a letter to a top army commander and an internal security chief, he wrote: “This is about your negligence in failing to take the necessary measures to bring back looted World Food Program aid.”

If they did not quickly arrest the culprits and bring back the stolen items within 24 hours, he said, he would hold them “fully responsible for depriving Taiz of aid” and for “any humanitarian disaster in Taiz” that followed.

There was no response, al-Hakimi said.

By September he’d had enough.

“It’s very important to do this work — but also important to have the power and authority to do it,” al-Hakimi told the AP.

He tried to resign, but a top city leader talked him out of it, promising that officials would address the problems.

Nothing changed, al-Hakimi said. So in October he quit for good.

Two months later, an analysis from the U.N. and its aid partners estimated that 57 percent of Taiz’s residents face emergency- or crisis-level food insecurity. The group’s year-end breakdown says as many as 10,500 people in and around Taiz are living and dying in areas overtaken by full-blown famine.

Outraged Iraqi Lawmakers Demand U.S. Troop Withdrawal, After Trump’s Insulting, Fly-In

Both blocs in Iraq’s divided parliament call for a vote on the expulsion of U.S. forces in wake of Trump’s brief, ‘arrogant’ trip

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

Reuters
President Donald Trump delivers remarks during his first-ever visit with troops in a military zone.

BAGHDAD (AP) — President Donald Trump’s surprise trip to Iraq may have quieted criticism at home that he had yet to visit troops in a combat zone, but it has infuriated Iraqi politicians who on Thursday demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

“Arrogant” and “a violation of national sovereignty” were but a few examples of the criticism emanating from Baghdad following Trump’s meeting Wednesday with U.S. servicemen and women at the al-Asad Airbase.

Trips by U.S. presidents to conflict zones are typically shrouded in secrecy and subject to strict security measures, and Trump’s was no exception. Few in Iraq or elsewhere knew the U.S. president was in the country until minutes before he left again.

But this trip came as came curbing foreign influence in Iraqi affairs has become a hot-button political issue, and Trump’s perceived presidential faux-pas was failing to meet with the prime minister in a break with diplomatic custom for any visiting head of state.

On the ground for only about three hours, the American president told the men and women with the U.S. military that Islamic State forces have been vanquished, and he defended his decision against all advice to withdraw U.S. troops from neighboring Syria, He declared: “We’re no longer the suckers, folks.”

The abruptness of his visit left lawmakers in Baghdad smarting and drawing unfavorable comparisons to the occupation of Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

“Trump needs to know his limits. The American occupation of Iraq is over,” said Sabah al-Saidi, the head of one of two main blocs in Iraq’s parliament.

Trump, he said, had slipped into Iraq, “as though Iraq is a state of the United States.”

While Trump didn’t meet with any officials, he spoke with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi by phone after a “difference in points of view” over arrangements led to a face-to-face encounter between the two leaders getting scrapped, according to the prime minister’s office.

The visit could have unintended consequences for American policy, with officials from both sides of Iraq’s political divide calling for a vote in parliament to expel U.S. forces from the country.

The president, who kept to the U.S. air base approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad, said he had no plans to withdraw the 5,200 troops in the country. He said Ain al-Asad could be used for U.S. air strikes inside Syria.

The suggestion ran counter to the current sentiment of Iraqi politics, which favors claiming sovereignty over foreign and domestic policy and staying above the fray in regional conflicts.

“Iraq should not be a platform for the Americans to settle their accounts with either the Russians or the Iranians in the region,” said Hakim al-Zamili, a senior lawmaker in al-Saidi’s Islah bloc in parliament.

U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State group. American forces withdrew in 2011 after invading in 2003 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of the Iraqi government to help fight the jihadist group. Trump’s visit was the first by a U.S. president since Barack Obama met with then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at a U.S. base outside Baghdad in 2009.

Still, after defeating IS militants in their last urban bastions last year, Iraqi politicians and militia leaders are speaking out against the continued presence of U.S. forces on Iraqi soil.

Supporters of the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won big in national elections in May, campaigning on a platform to curb U.S. and rival Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs. Al-Sadr’s lawmakers now form the core of the Islah bloc, which is headed by al-Saidi in parliament.

The rival Binaa bloc, commanded by politicians and militia leaders close to Iran, also does not favor the U.S.

Qais Khazali, the head of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia that fought key battles against IS in northern Iraq, promised on Twitter that parliament would vote to expel U.S. forces from Iraq, or the militias would force them out by “other means.”

Khazali was jailed by British and U.S. forces from 2007 to 2010 for managing sections of the Shia insurgency against the occupation during those years.

Trump’s visit would be a “great moral boost to the political parties, armed factions, and others who oppose the American presence in Iraq,” Iraqi political analyst Ziad al-Arar said.

Still, the U.S. and Iraq developed considerable military and intelligence ties in the war against IS, and they continue to pay off in operations against militants gone into hiding.

Earlier in the month, Iraqi forces called in an airstrike by U.S.-coalition forces to destroy a tunnel used by IS militants in the Atshanah mountains in north Iraq. Four militants were killed, according to the coalition.

A hasty departure of U.S. forces would jeopardize such arrangements, said Iraqi analyst Hamza Mustafa.

Relations between the U.S. and Iraq also extend beyond military ties. U.S. companies have considerable interests in Iraq’s petrochemical industry, and American diplomats are often brokers between Iraq’s fractious political elite.

Iraq’s Sunni politicians have been largely quiet about the presidential visit, reflecting the ties they have cultivated with the U.S. to counterbalance the might of the country’s Iran-backed and predominantly Shiite militias.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Abdul-Mahdi accepted Trump’s invitation to the White House during their call, though the prime minister’s office has so far refused to confirm that.

Trump’s visit to Iraq and Washington’s never-ending war in the Middle East

Trump’s visit to Iraq and Washington’s never-ending war in the Middle East

Donald Trump’s brief, unannounced visit to Iraq on the day after Christmas was staged with a patent political motive. His appearance with assembled troops—for a grand total of 45 minutes—was aimed at shoring up support within the Pentagon as well as among rank-and-file soldiers in the wake of the resignation in protest of his defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, following Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.

The performance was the latest in a long line of such trips, beginning with one staged by George W. Bush just a year after the US launched its catastrophic and criminal war against Iraq.

Like Trump, Bush and his successor, Barack Obama, saw the utility of appearing before captive uniformed audiences, bound by military discipline to cheer at the appropriate moments for speeches riddled with lies and stupidities in defense of unending wars of aggression opposed by the majority of the population.

Improbably dressed in a bomber jacket, the New York real estate speculator-turned president gave a performance in line with this tradition, though somewhat more buffoonish. He marveled at having to fly into Iraq under the cover of darkness with the lights off and window shades down on Air Force One, which was heavily escorted by US fighter planes.

“Pretty sad when you spend $7 trillion in the Middle East and going in has to be under this massive cover,” Trump stated.

The results of a quarter-century of US war in the Middle East are “pretty sad” indeed. Aside from vast resources spent in the US imperialist effort to dominate the region, there are the consequences for those who live there, over a million of whom lost their lives as a consequence of Washington’s interventions, while tens of millions have been turned into homeless refugees.

The US invasion of Iraq and the wars for regime-change initiated by Washington and its NATO and regional allies in Libya and Syria have reduced entire societies to chaos and rubble.

Ever the irrepressible liar and braggart, Trump boasted to the troops that when he took office they had not received a pay raise for 10 years and that he overrode his aides to deliver a hike of more than 10 percent. All of this was a crude fabrication, obvious to those in the audience who receive their pay from the Pentagon. Trump’s pay raise was 2.4 percent, in line with similar raises that have been provided every year over the past decade. “I got you a big one. I got you a big one,” Trump repeated idiotically.

He also used his speech to denounce his political opponents in the Democratic Party for failing to appropriate funds for his proposed border wall. He told the troops: “You know, when you think about it, you’re fighting for borders in other countries, and they don’t want to fight—the Democrats—for the border of our country. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Afterwards, he signed red “Make America Great Again” hats and other campaign paraphernalia for soldiers, a direct violation of military rules barring active duty personnel from engaging in “partisan political activities.” The violation was not an oversight, but part of a deliberate effort by Trump’s fascistic administration to build up an extra-constitutional base within the US armed forces.

The thrust of Trump’s speech was the “America First” agenda that he has promoted since the 2016 campaign. He cast US military interventions–and the US deployment in Syria in particular—in starkly transactional terms. “America shouldn’t be doing the fighting for every nation on Earth, not being reimbursed, in many cases, at all,” he said. “If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price—and sometimes that’s also a monetary price—so we’re not the suckers of the world. We’re no longer the suckers, folks.”

At the same time, he boasted of the massive US military budget, which already exceeds the amount spent on armaments by the next eight major powers combined. “You’re getting such new equipment, your eyes are popping, right?” he said to the troops in Iraq.

While Trump’s nationalist and populist appeals about ending US wars in the Middle East may enjoy a measure of support among soldiers who have been subjected to unending deployments, the most significant element of his speech was the vow that the US will not withdraw its troops from Iraq. He added that the al-Asad airbase in western Iraq between Baghdad and the Syrian border, where he spoke to the troops, could be used “if we wanted to do something in Syria.”

As the Washington Post reported, “The decision allows the United States to maintain a presence in the heart of the Middle East and a bulwark against Iranian influence, while also keeping a nearby staging ground should American troops be forced to reenter Syria and engage a resurgent Islamic State.”

The utter contempt for Iraqi sovereignty that characterizes these plans was in evidence throughout Trump’s entire trip. Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, failed to meet with Trump after being given just two hours’ notice of his visit and being summoned to the US air base. The two major blocs in the Iraqi parliament denounced the visit and called for an emergency session to vote on expelling US troops from the country.

The political firestorm unleashed in Washington over Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria is driven entirely by tactical differences within the US ruling establishment and its two major parties over US imperialism’s global effort to utilize its military might to offset the decline of American capitalism’s position in the world economy.

Trump’s “America First” policy reflects the orientation of a significant section of the US ruling class, which sees the concentration of American military might in the Asia Pacific region to offset the growing influence of China as the most pressing priority. This faction disdains longstanding alliances in favor of a nationalistic policy dedicated to the naked pursuit of US financial and commercial interests around the globe.

Trump’s Democratic opponents are not bothered by the slaughter that has been carried out in the Middle East, including under the banner of the struggle against ISIS, in which the cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria have been razed to the ground, with countless thousands of civilians buried under the rubble.

On the contrary, they are demanding a more aggressive policy directed at regime-change in Syria and the preparation of a direct confrontation with the main allies of the Damascus government, Iran and Russia. Their differences over Syria are bound up with allegations of Trump’s supposed collusion with Moscow to win the 2016 election, which in turn are directed at forcing a more aggressive policy against nuclear-armed Russia.

This was expressed clearly by Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who declared on Sunday that Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria constituted “a great big Christmas gift to Vladimir Putin of Russia and to the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.”

There is no faction within the US ruling establishment opposed to war, and Trump’s decision on ending the US deployment of troops in Syria signals no end to the drive to assert US hegemony over the Middle East’s oil reserves, no matter what the cost in civilian lives. It is merely part of the tactical preparations for far more devastating wars to come, first and foremost against the countries branded by the Pentagon and the national security apparatus as “revisionist powers” and “great power” rivals—Russia and China.

The absence of a mass antiwar movement in the United States and internationally is bound up with the role played by the pseudo left—groups claiming to be socialist while providing justifications for imperialist intervention and slaughter under the cynical banner of “human rights,” as well as claims that the operations of CIA-funded Islamist militias in Syria constitute a “democratic revolution.”

These groups, such as the International Socialist Organization and the Democratic Socialists of America in the United States, have maintained a discreet silence over the political crisis unleashed by Trump’s Syria withdrawal announcement and the resignation of Mattis, apparently waiting to see which way the wind blows within establishment foreign policy circles.

The struggle against war, including the mounting threat of a nuclear Third World War, must be undertaken by the working class. The demand must be raised for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US troops not only from Syria, but also from Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and all of the hundreds of US military bases scattered across the globe.

Those who are responsible for the killing and maiming of millions in US imperialism’s wars of aggression must be prosecuted for war crimes, including Bush, Obama, Trump and their top generals and civilian aides.

This requires the building of a new mass antiwar movement that is based on the working class and fights for a program of socialist internationalism to unify workers all over the world in a common struggle against the capitalist system.

Bill Van Auken

U.S. military industrial complex’s perpetual warfare

TEHRAN – Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on 10 December 2018 released its report on the sale of weapons and other military hardware by the world’s largest 100 weapon manufacturers. The U.S. weapon manufacturers dominated the ‘top hundred list’ with a 57 percent share of arms sales. According to the report, the U.S. companies benefitted from the U.S. Department of Defense’s ongoing demand for weapons.

The pro-war U.S. foreign policy is meant to serve the interests of military industrial complex as the U.S. has a long history of waging unilateral, belligerent wars across the globe from Vietnam to Syria and constant escalation from the South China Sea to the Black Sea and from Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Kerch.

The creation of al-Qaeda, scraping peace treaties, sanction game and orchestrating Shia-Sunni conflicts are all part of the U.S. military industrial complex agenda. The former CIA Director Robert Gates and former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski began funding extremists in 1979, barely six months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Osama Bin Laden, Maktab al Khidmat and Afghan Mujahideen received about $1 billion from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia through Pakistan’s ISI. The brainchild of CIA by the name of al-Qaeda waged its war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Later during the 1990s, al-Qaeda extended its reach to Bosnia that in turn justified the NATO air strikes against the country. After that al-Qaeda extended its network further to Kosovo and helped ‘Kosovo liberation army’ fight against Yugoslavia and Serbia for the creation of Greater Albania. The Kosovo Liberation Army was an Albanian terrorist faction backed by the U.S. and NATO and is responsible for ethnic cleansing of 90% of Serbians, while western corporate media portrayed Albanians as victims of Serbian aggression.

Another puppet of the U.S. military industrial complex, Saudi Arabia was brainwashed by the U.S. regime to fight against communism rather than the Israeli aggression against the Arab States. Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. from 1983 to 2005 and also the de-facto leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who helped in arming various terrorist factions all across the Middle East on the behalf of U.S. military industrial complex.

Back in 2013, Hamid Karzai stated that the U.S. is collaborating with the Taliban that is regularly conducting suicide attacks inside Afghanistan as it provides a pretext for the U.S. military presence inside the country. So the expansion of al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups from Afghanistan to Syria has provided an excuse to western war machine for conducting military aggression against different countries.

The creation of ISIS was meant to serve the interests of Israel in addition to war profiteering. According to a former CIA contractor Steven Kelly, the U.S. intention behind the perpetual war in the Middle East is to eliminate any opposition against Israel from its neighboring states like Syria. Kelly in a Press TV interview stated that the creation of ISIS was meant to nullify any opposition to Israel by the complete destruction of Syria and Iraq.

In addition to this, a perpetual war in the Middle East provides a fertile ground for the U.S. military industrial complex to reap huge profits by selling weapons to both the U.S. and terrorist factions. Additionally, the expensive Iraq war drained the U.S. treasury; still the pro-Israel power configuration and military industrial complex have been batting for endless wars.

The scraping of peace treaties is also the agenda of the military industrial complex. Recently President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty of 1987. Back in 2002, the U.S. scrapped the Anti-Ballistic missile (ABM) treaty. According to Russian MP Alexi Pushkov, the abandoning of INF and ABM would bring humanity close to the ground zero.

The downfall of the Soviet Union in late 1980 brought an end to excessive military spending and the funds were diverted towards civilian purposes. Now it is obvious that Trump wants to revive the Cold War era as it will enormously benefit the U.S. weapon manufacturers.

According to a 2014 study by Morgan Stanley, the major U.S. arms manufacturers have witnessed a growth of 27,699% in the last 50 years. From 2010 to 2013 Northrop Grumman has returned 114%, Raytheon 124%, and Lockheed Martin 149% to their investors.

In April of 2017 and April 2018, the U.S. fired Raytheon manufactured Tomahawk missiles on Syria. Soon after the attack the Raytheon shares surged by 3% and closed above its 50 days moving average. The shares of other U.S. weapons manufacturers like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman also edged higher. From 11 April 2018 to 17 April 2018, the shares of Raytheon went from $219 to $228 per share.

The sanction game is yet another trump card of the U.S. military industrial complex as it is trying to exclude Russia from the international arms market. According to Rostec spokesperson, Washington’s sanction against Russia is “just an excuse for pushing Russia out of the global arms market.” The U.S. weapons manufacturers are losing their market even in the U.S. friendly states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and also in Turkey and India. So the U.S. is targeting Russian defence industry as back in 2017 more than 30 Russian arms manufacturers were included in the list of potential sanctions target.

A 2008 report by the RAND Corporation under the title “Unfolding the Future of the Long War: Motivations, Prospects, and Implications for the U.S. Army” warned that the U.S. will engage the Muslim world in unjustified warfare at least up to 2020. According to the report, the US military industrial complex will capitalize on the Sunni-Shiite conflict in order to sway the U.S. enemies. The report mentioned that the U.S. will provide a full-fledged support to pro-U.S. regimes by selling them sophisticated weaponry in order to contain the influence of Iran in the Middle-East.

It is obvious that the “iron triangles” of the U.S. political system is the intersection of corporations, pro-war lobbies, and government officials. So, at least in near future, the U.S. will favor pro-war strategies, instead of negotiations.

Mudasir Sheikh is a Kashmir-based writer and independent researcher.