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.