ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Chinese Govt. Blames US For Hong Kong Protests and Masses Troops On HK Border

US monitoring Hong Kong border as Chinese forces gather en masse

 

 

The White House is closely monitoring a situation described by an administration official as a “congregation of Chinese forces on Hong Kong’s border,” according to a report Tuesday.

The reason for the buildup, which includes the Chinese military or armed police, was not clear but came amid violent protests in the region, Bloomberg reported.

Chinese mainland government claimed the violence was a “creation of the US,” an allegation the administration official denied.

The developments come as President Trump attempts to iron out a trade deal with China and just as the two nations resumed negotiations in Shanghai.

Protests began eight weeks ago when the city-state’s executive, Carrie Lam, tried to win passage of a law allowing extraditions to the mainland.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the Chinese to “do the right thing” in managing the protests that have seen tear gas deployed by police. Meanwhile, supporters have gathered outside a court in Hong Kong ahead of a court appearance by more than 40 protesters who have been charged with rioting.

With Post wires

If Not For the Little Zionist Irritant, There Would Be No Need For Islamist Terrorism

[SEE:  Why Hasn’t ISIS/Al-Qaeda Ever Attacked Israel? ; Why isn’t the Islamic State fighting Israel?  ]

Without Israel, Middle East would fall to ‘Islamic extremism,’ says Netanyahu

Without Israel, Middle East would fall to ‘Islamic extremism,’ says Netanyahu
Never one to mince his words, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel is the sole force fending off a radical Islamic takeover of the Middle East, arguing Tel Aviv is an indispensable defender of the entire region.

Netanyahu shared this insight with a delegation of Arab journalists and bloggers on a visit to Israel on Tuesday.

“I have told them one thing I believe in: the only force that prevents the collapse of the middle east from within it is Israel,” the prime minister said in a Facebook post quoting his remarks, adding “without Israel, the middle east would collapse under the yoke of the forces of Islamic extremism.”

Though the PM’s post only said the attending journalists had come from nations that “do not maintain any diplomatic relations with Israel,” a Knesset press release said that the visiting media figures came from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

The prime minister has previously made overtures to some of Israel’s Arab neighbors, telling an audience of diplomats in Israel last year that Tel Aviv was making “gradual normalization with leading countries in the Arab world,” particularly as a result of the 2015 nuclear accord signed between Iran and world powers, which Israel and Arab states like Saudi Arabia have slammed as a “bad deal.” Tuesday’s media visit appears to be another step in that process of normalization. Netanyahu also said some of the journalists “have expressed their desire for the Arab public to recognize the state of Israel,” and offered to make additional visits to strengthen relations, while the Knesset release quoted one delegate as describing the country as a “dreamland.”

Iraq Uses Old Trick To Get US Involved In Major Gas Hub

“Iraq under the auspices of Moqtada al-Sadr – the real power behind the [Adil] Abdul-Mahdi government is very good at playing the U.S. with the Iran card, so every time there is a hint that Iraq will continue with its historically close relationship with Iran, the U.S. comes in to offer the services of one of its companies at beneficial terms to Iraq.” 

 

“The U.S. government is holding a gun to our head”–Iraqi Govt. SpokesmanDonald Trump Strong-Armed Baghdad To Give Contract To Rebuild Iraqi Electric System To Bankrupt General Electric over Siemens

Iraq Uses Old Trick To Get US Involved In Major Gas Hub

Kirkuk oil field

Last week saw two apparently independent major events occur in Iraq centred on its gas sector but a senior oil and gas industry source who works closely with Iraq’s Oil Ministry told Oilprice.com they were a lot more connected than they seemed. The first was a statement by the Secretary General of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber, Seyed Hamid Hosseini, that Iran’s gas and electricity exports to Iraq are expected to reach US$5 billion by the end of the current Iranian calendar year, ending on 21 March 2020. The second was an announcement by Iraq’s Oil Minister, Thamir Ghadhban, that a U.S. consortium led by Honeywell has signed a memorandum of understanding for a huge deal that would reduce the country’s current level of gas flaring by nearly 20%.

“Iraq under the auspices of Moqtada al-Sadr – the real power behind the [Adil] Abdul-Mahdi government is very good at playing the U.S. with the Iran card, so every time there is a hint that Iraq will continue with its historically close relationship with Iran, the U.S. comes in to offer the services of one of its companies at beneficial terms to Iraq,” the source said.

The deal itself involves U.S. giant, Honeywell, partnering with another U.S. heavyweight, Bechtel, and Iraq’s state-owned South Gas to build the Ratawi gas hub In the first stage that is expected to last for three years this project will process up to 300 million standard cubic feet per day (scf/d) of ‘associated gas’ (generated as a by-product of crude production) at five southern Iraqi oil fields: Majnoon, Gharib al-Qurna, al-lhiss, al-Tubba, and al-Siba. It comes shortly after the granting of a new waiver from the U.S. for Iraq to import electricity from Iran, first awarded last November and subsequently renewed in December, March, and June, each time for 90 days. At the same time, Iraq has been steadily importing around one third of its total energy supplies from Iran, which equates to around 28 million cubic feet (mcf) of gas to feed its power stations.

With peak summer power demand in Iraq perennially exceeding domestic generation, Iraq’s dependence on Iran is acute – a highly troubling situation for the U.S. in all circumstances, let alone the current impasse – and made worse still for its capacity to cause major civilian unrest in the country. Last summer’s widespread protests across Iraq – including in the major oil hub of Basra – were widely seen as being prompted in part by chronic electricity outages. The situation also promises to become much worse as, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Iraq’s population is growing at a rate of over one million per year, with electricity demand set to double by 2030, reaching about 17.5 gigawatts (GW) average throughout the year.Related: Did Trump’s ‘Plan B’ For Iran Just Fail?

In addition to the ongoing dependence on Iran that this energy imbalance necessitates, Iraq is losing billions of dollars in two streams of revenue. The first is the oil that it is forced to burn burns crude oil directly at power plants in order to attempt to address the shortfall in power supplies accrued from other raw materials, such as gas. Although the average volume of crude oil used for power generation has fallen in the past two years from a peak of 223,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July and September 2015, it still averages around 110,000 bpd, or around US$2.5 billion per year in value.

The second reason is that the associated gas is largely flared rather than captured and either sold on as raw gas or used as feedstock for the production of value-added petrochemicals products. On the first point, according to the IEA, Iraq has around 3.5 trillion cubic metres (tcm) of proven reserves of gas, mainly associated with oil that is produced from the supergiant fields in the South hydrocarbon region. These reserves would be enough to supply nearly 200 years of Iraq’s current consumption of gas, as long as flaring is minimised. It added, though, that proven reserves do not provide an accurate picture of Iraq’s long-term production potential and that the underlying resource base – ultimately recoverable resources – is significantly larger, at 8 tcm.

On the second point, Oilprice.com was told recently by the managing director of a major foreign oil company operating in Iraq that the failure to capture this gas – more than half of the gas that is extracted in Iraq today is flared and it is the world’s second worst offender in this regard – is a key reason holding back the development of a viable petrochemicals sector in the country.

“Iraq needs to put into action its plans to develop a second gas hub away from Basra that would get the gas volumes up to an average of 800 million to 1 billion standard cubic feet per day so that the ethane can be extracted on a sustainable and reliable basis that would give sufficient volume for a major petchems plant to be viable,” he said. “Ethane should be the initial feedstock for Iraq’s first few plants in the same way that it was in the development of Saudi Arabia’s master gas system that captured associated gas, which was then fractionated and supplied as primary feedstock to the flagship Jubail Industrial City,” he underlined.

This latest project would build on the previous plans to address Iraq’s power shortfall and to monetise its oil and gas assets better, as was the original intention of Iraq last year stating that it was joining the United Nations and World Bank ‘Zero Routine Flaring’ initiative aimed at ending this type of routine flaring by 2030. Shortly after this, the Oil Ministry announced that it had signed a gas capture deal with U.S. oil services provider Baker Hughes to harness 200 million cubic feet (mmcf) per day from the Gharraf oil field – being developed by Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (JAPEX), Malaysia’s Petronas, and Iraq’s North Oil Co. (NOC) – and the neighbouring Dhi Qar site, Nassiriyah, plus other oilfields north of Basra. At that time, Baker Hughes stated that addressing the flared gas from these two fields would allow for the provision of 400 MW of power to the Iraqi grid.Related: Growing Fear Of Global Economic Slowdown Caps Oil Price Gains

The then- Oil Minister, Jabbar al-Luaibi, added at that point that Iraq was also currently negotiating a similar gas capture deal for the state-run Nahr Bin Umar field with Houston-based Orion Gas Processors and that there were similar plans to construct gas-processing facilities in the Missan and Halfaya fields that would have a combined capacity of 600 mmcf per day of gas when completed. This, in turn, was in line with an ambitious statement last January from al-Luaibi that Iraq would have ceased all gas flaring from its southern producing oilfields by the end of 2021, so additionally freeing up some of this gas capacity for export.

“By the end of last year, there had been some progress, with the Basrah Gas Company (BGC) processing and producing the equivalent of around 10 bcm of gas per year and earlier this year the shareholders in BGC [Iraq’s South Gas Company with 51%, Shell with 44% and Mitsubishi with 5%] stated that they’d increase the volume to around 14 bcm by 2021, with a target of 20 bcm of gas per year focussed on Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna,” the Iraq source told Oilprice.com last week. “Unfortunately, with Iraq there is often a big gap between what is said and what is done, with the space between filled by people looking to line their own pockets [] so it is difficult to be optimistic,” the Iraq source added. “Ironically it may be the man that the U.S. hates – and vice-versa – Moqtada al-Sadr, who forces these projects through, as he is a genuine nationalist and is clever enough to see that by monetising all of these resources properly, Iraq will be able to free itself of all foreign interference, which is exactly the message he ran on in the last election and which keeps him as the major power in Iraq,” he concluded.

By Simon Watkins for Oilprice.com

Covert Israeli Naval Unit Receives IDF Citation For Unnamed Deeds, During Ongoing Tanker War

Elite, secretive Israeli naval commando unit to receive big honor

–By World Israel News Staff 

The Shayetet 13 marine commando unit is to receive the Citation of Excellence from IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, according to media reports.

The elite and secretive Shayetet 13 operates “in the sea, on land, and in the air in a variety of daring and special activities,” says the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

“The fleet engages in various operational activities, including strategic damage to enemy maritime infrastructures, as well as gathering high-quality intelligence on enemy operations,” according to the IDF.

The commandos are cited for their “long and comprehensive infantry training with specialization in marine warfare, diving, and the operation of special vessels,” says the Israeli military.

The IDF points out that the unit “has won the Chief of Staff’s award several times for its contribution to fighting terror, for developing innovative operational capabilities, and for instilling high norms of behavior of excellence and striving for victory.”

The Shayetet 13 “combat teams are required to acquire a variety of abilities and training to carry out their missions, and therefore their training is long and comprehensive. Among other things, the fighters specialize in infantry fighting, counter-terrorism, and guerrilla warfare, operational parachuting, and naval assault methods,” according to the Israeli military.

“I salute you for receiving the Chief of Staff’s citation,” wrote MK Benny Gantz, who served as IDF chief of staff from 2011 to 2015.

“As one who participated and commanded soldiers on missions beyond enemy lines, I know how hard you work and how much effort you invest for Israel’s security,” wrote the former military chief turned politician.

World terrorism ends when we stop Israel’s injustice against Palestinians, says Dr M

“We are not against Jews but we cannot recognize Israel because of [its] occupation of Palestinian land,” Mahathir said during a three-day visit to Pakistan.

He stressed that his country enjoys friendly relations with every country in the world except Israel. “You cannot seize others’ lands and form a state. It is like a state of robbers,” he said.–Malaysia–Israel a ‘state of robbers’

 

At a Tuesday forum in London with the theme The Gaza Genocide: The World Community Must Act, Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim suggested Israeli military aggression against Palestinians to be worthy of prosecution.

“We drag a person to court to be prosecuted for his act of having killed someone. We use the maxim mens rea in determining his murderous intent,” noted the Malaysian diplomat.

“But we simply allow a neighboring state to marauder thousands with guns, air strikes, chemicals and tanks,” continued Rais, questioning the impunity Israel has enjoyed for sixty years.–Malaysia wants Israel dragged to court

 

World terrorism ends when we stop Israel’s injustice against Palestinians, says Dr M

Tun Dr Mahahir Mohamad had on many occasions defended his views against the Israeli State. — Bernama pic
Tun Dr Mahahir Mohamad had on many occasions defended his views against the Israeli State. — Bernama pic 

KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — The seizure of Palestanian land to form the illegal State of Israel has been the main cause of terrorism in the world, Tun Dr Mahahir Mohamad told Turkish news agency, Anadolu Agency, in a report today.

The prime minister said if the causes of terrorism is not dealt with, then it would be difficult to put a stop to it.

“The main thing that we think we should always stress is the causes of terrorism. Today, there is already a consensus almost to blame terrorism on Muslims.

“But the fact you said, after the seizure of Palestine, and the disregard of international law by Israel, this has led to so-called acts of terrorism. But in order to get rid of terrorism, we need to know the reason why they terrorise unless you treat the causes of terrorism, you are not going to be able to stop terrorism,” he was quoted in the report.

Dr Mahathir suggested that the State of Israel should allow the previous Palestinian people to return back to reclaim their property, or at least agree on the two-state solution and stop the Israelis from building settlements in the Palestinian territory.

“And if we know, beside this, the causes for terrorism, and we treat them, we take action to stop this injustice perpetrated on the Palestinians, I think there will be less terrorism or no terrorism all over the world,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said though there has not been enough news coverage and accurate reporting on the actual situation of the Palestinian problem, he said Malaysia and Turkey can continue to keep the issue alive in order for it to be addressed at the global stage.

“There is an attempt to just kill the issue completely as if nothing has happened. But the fact is that there is a great deal of injustice perpetrated against the Palestinians and we intend, I think both Turkey and Malaysia intend, to keep this problem alive, so that the world will appreciate the injustice that has been done to the Palestinians.

“With regard to the Palestinian problem, the clear truth about it is that it has not been given enough airing either in the media or on TV. That seems to be an agreement on the part of the media not to highlight the problems of Palestine,” said Dr Mahathir, citing the Israeli act against international law to have been omitted from news reports.

Dr Mahathir had on many occasions defended his views against the Israeli State and still held firm in calling Jews ‘hooked nosed’, an act that caused him to be previously accused of anti-Semitism.

The new Pakatan Harapan government has doubled down on its condemnations against Israel and Zionists while backing Palestinians amid the long-standing Middle East conflict.

Putrajaya was also firm in prohibiting Israeli athletes from participating in the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships to be held in Kuching later this year.

US Political Convulsions Followed the Govt Legalization of American-Focused Propaganda

How The U.S. Redoubled Its Propaganda Power, Overthrew Ukraine’s Government, & Restarted The Cold War

The American ruling class decided that it would be necessary to start a 21st century cold war with Russia and China when it became apparent that U.S. global hegemony was being replaced by a multipolar world. And even before this new level of warfare became the priority, it was apparent that a long-term era of tensions between great powers would require much greater government control over information than was previously the case.

This was the reasoning that the U.S. used when it carried out the early-to-mid 2010s policies which have since led to a new cold war. The story of how the current cold war started follows in the same pattern from the runup to the last one during the 1940s: the emergence of a threat to U.S. hegemony, a campaign to demonize Russia and its allies, and a period of escalating tensions that correlates with the creation of a new propaganda apparatus by the U.S. government.

Expanding the state’s propaganda power to get ready for upcoming geopolitical maneuvers

To assemble the propaganda arsenal that it would need throughout the first cold war, the U.S. created the CIA, an unaccountable institution that began covertly influencing world politics since its founding in 1947. In 1948 the CIA created a covert action wing, called the Office of Policy Coordination, which was led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. The office’s secret charter described its purposes as “propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.” Through these tools, CIA has since been spreading psyops within American foreign propaganda outlets like Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia, as well as assimilating much of the American press through projects like Operation Mockingbird.
With 2013’s amendment of key parts of the Smith-Mundt Act, the government freed this propaganda network to covertly broadcast messages to the American people with official legal impunity. Prior to then, the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 had banned the domestic dissemination of U.S. government-produced propaganda. But when representatives Mac Thornberry and Adam Smith passed the “The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012” by putting it into the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, that restriction was lifted, and on July 2nd of 2013 the government finally began spreading its messages under the new rules.
The change was immediately visible. In July of 2013, John Hudson of Foreign Policy reported that the U.S. had begun the “unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption.” Since then, the repeal of the propaganda ban has created many strange and troubling trends for the American media, such as the emergence of a revolving door between intelligence officials and cable news stations, the government assimilation of formerly independent outlets like Vice News, and the enablement of Silicon Valley oligarchs like Jeff Bezos to partner with the military/intelligence complex while exerting control over the media outlets they own.
“Since 2013, newsrooms across the country, of both the mainstream and ‘alternative’ variety, have been notably skewed towards the official government narrative, with few outside a handful of independently-funded media outlets bothering to question those narratives’ veracity” Whitney Webb Of MintPress News wrote last year about the propaganda ban repeal. “While this has long been a reality for the Western media (see John Pilger’s 2011 documentary ‘The War You Don’t See’), the use of government-approved narratives and sources from government-funded groups have become much more overt than in years past.”
It’s clear that the motivation behind the repeal of the ban was at least partly to get the U.S. government ready to manage a society which would soon be in an escalating state of great power conflict. In his initial press release on the bill, Thornberry said: “We continue to face a multitude of threats and we need to be able to counter them in a multitude of ways. Communication is among the most important. This outdated law ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible and transparent way. Congress has a responsibility to fix the situation.”
At a moment when the U.S. empire was already in a state of rapid decline, and when Russia and China were subsequently turning into perceived adversaries, this statement from a House neocon must have reflected a larger plan among the ruling class to create a propaganda apparatus for the coming new era of warfare.
Indeed, in the last six years it’s been very much necessary for the U.S. empire to expand its efforts to control the sentiments of its own citizens. This recent escalation of government-engineered mass persuasion has involved not just propaganda, but censorship as well. And its emergence six years ago correlated with the U.S.-created proxy wars that started the new cold war.
The ramifications of Washington’s coup in Ukraine and regime change war in Syria
 
The fact that another cold war between the U.S. and Russia was imminent became clear when Washington began its latest attempt at regime change in Syria. In 2011, the terrorist groups that the U.S. had been arming and training started an ongoing campaign to destabilize Syria, having provoked armed conflict with the Syrian government in an unnecessary attempt at violent revolt. Washington’s war on Syria was motivated both by a desire to advance Israel’s interests, and by its larger-scale need to maintain control over Eurasia amid China’s rise. So naturally Russia’s interests in Syria clashed with those of the U.S, and naturally this wouldn’t be the end of Washington’s provocations.
2013’s propaganda ban repeal, which served the U.S. well in its efforts that year to manufacture popular belief in a supposed chemical attack from Assad, then provided Washington with great help with its February 2014 coup in Ukraine. As Strategic Culture’s Eric Zuesse has written about coup’s origins:
The network behind this coup had actually started planning for the coup back in 2011. That’s when Eric Schmidt of Google, and Jared Cohen, also now of Google but still continuing though unofficially as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief person tasked to plan ‘popular movements’ to overthrow both Yanukovych in Ukraine, and Assad in Syria.
 
These and the other pieces of evidence that Ukraine’s regime change was U.S.-engineered were hidden from Western media consumers, who only heard about a Ukrainian “democratic revolution” that prompted a heinous act of aggression in Ukraine by Vladimir Putin.
In reality, it was the U.S. that had caused the crisis in Ukraine, and it’s the U.S. that had consequently initiated a new cold war. After the Ukraine coup, Russia had reason to fear NATO nuclear missiles not just near, but on, Russia’s border. And Victoria Nuland, Barack Obama’s central agent behind the coup, had made sure that the new person to head Ukraine’s government would be the far-right and rabidly anti-Russian Arseniy Yatsenyuk. As a result, Ukraine’s government has since been a fascistic and agressive antagonist towards Russia, with the Nazi-tied regime carrying out anti-Russian war provocations, inflaming armed conflict with pro-Russian separatists at the behest of the Trump administration, and engaging in ethnic cleansing against Ukraine’s Russian-speaking communities.
The return of the cold war tensions is not Russia’s fault. Putin’s 2008 intervention in Georgia and 2014 intervention in Ukraine were done in response to NATO’s aggressive expansionism, and Russia’s efforts to militarily protect Syria and Venezuela are of course also the result of the U.S. empire’s belligerence. The new cold war is the result of America’s operations to strong-arm China and its allies Russia, SyriaVenezuelaIranCuba, and north Korea into submission. And the catalyst for this potential runup to nuclear annihilation was the 2014 regime change project in Ukraine, whose surrounding atmosphere of intensive state-manufactured propaganda has reflected the nature of the years since then.
An empire of illusion
 
Talking from my experiences as an American, the onset of the cold war has produced a dystopian new era, one where reality is constantly being twisted by powerful actors who seek to perpetuate a war that has no end in sight. This is a more extreme version of the War on Terror, whose dozen years of existence prior to the start of the new cold war had already primed the American people for a scenario where they would be told to fear not just terrorists, but also the world’s other major superpowers.
The messaging campaigns used to manufacture consent for all of these war campaigns have been carried out both through the dissemination of state propaganda itself, and through the suppression of information that contradicts this propaganda. The onslaught of online censorship throughout the last several years was begun with a statement from the U.S. government whose purpose was to declare war on voices which challenge the official narratives; in January 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published a report on Russia that devoted seven of its 25 pages to RT America, the television hub for America’s antiwar and socialist commentators. The report said that:
RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a ‘surveillance state’ and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use.
RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT’s hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and “corporate greed” will lead to US financial collapse.
 
This McCarthyist view of the critics of capitalism and imperialism is one that U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as the online companies that they hold influence over, have been applying to how they treat journalists who object to the war effort. Since the media sensation around supposed Russian interference began in 2016, the world has experienced the biggest wave of Internet censorship in history. The algorithm manipulations and content purges from the online companies have accompanied ambitious new projects from the U.S.and E.U. to police the Internet, which threaten to constrain Internet freedom all around the globe.
After Facebook’s big purge of alternative media accounts last October, a top neocon insider promised that the shutdown of the open Internet will go much further. Jamie Fly, director of the Asia program at the influential U.S. and NATO-funded think tank the German Marshall Fund, stated that “Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system. They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”
Fly and the other power players within the empire are playing the game of influencing world events by controlling the flow of information. It’s crucial to them that the Western public views the current geopolitical developments through the America-centric, pro-imperialist lens that the government presents everything within. Having fully expanded their propaganda operations, they’re now in the process of deplatforming the opposition press, which is their only obstacle to total control over the narrative.
The empire may try to insulate those within its sphere of control from reality, but reality will still catch up with it. The CIA’s propaganda, sophisticated as it is, can’t reverse the trend of imperial collapse that the United States has been set upon. No matter how much the think tanks, intelligence agencies, and corporations work to shut down dissenting voices, climate change and other threats to the system will continue to progress. The coming years and decades will be a period of great instability, where the collapse of global capitalism and the accelerating ecological crisis upends civilization as we know it.
We can’t let society’s collective mind during this upheaval be controlled by a circle of oligarchs who intend to deceive us into remaining docile in the face of an emerging dystopia. We must seize control of the narrative and take society in a different direction.

US private military companies plunder Syrian oil facilities — Russia’s General Staff

The Unholy Union Between US Energy Giants and US Govt. Comes Out In the Open

Captured ISIS Fighter Confesses Subordination To US Orders

In Syria, The Devil Is In the Gas

US private military companies plunder Syrian oil facilities — Russia’s General Staff

The US has been training up to 2,700 militants near al-Tanf base in Syria, the Russian General Staff stated

The Russian Defense Ministry Valery Sharifulin/TASS

The Russian Defense Ministry  © Valery Sharifulin/TASS

TASS/. US private military companies numbering over 3,500 personnel are plundering Syrian oil facilities under the cover of the international anti-terror coalition’s aircraft, Head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Department Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi told a Defense Ministry press briefing on Monday.

“Aside from training militants, the US structures in Syria are involved in plundering oil facilities and deposits in the area across the Euphrates that belong to the legitimate Syrian government. Lately, US private military companies have been observed to actively beef up their personnel. Today, the mercenaries of the private military companies in Syria exceed 3,500 people,” the Russian general stressed.

Specifically, the US military structures have organized the production and sale of Syrian oil from the Conaco, al-Omar and Tanak oilfields located east of the Euphrates River, the Russian general pointed out.

“A criminal scheme of Syrian crude cross-border deliveries is in effect. Actually, Syrian national wealth is being plundered,” Rudskoi stated.

A considerable part of revenues from the hydrocarbon smuggling is spent on maintaining illegal armed formations, bribing sheikhs of tribal unions and instigating anti-government sentiments, according to the Russian general’s data.

“All this activity by US private military companies is conducted under the cover of the international anti-terror coalition’s aviation. In actual fact, this is smuggling business seized by the Americans from the IS [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization outlawed in Russia],” Rudskoi explained.

The US incessant deliveries of armament and military hardware to the area across the Euphrates also cause concern, the Russian general added.

“In exchange for assistance in oil smuggling, the United States is beefing up both Kurdish and Arab formations with arms and they subsequently use them against each other,” Rudskoi said, adding that “all these factors are only exacerbating the situation in the war-torn region.”

Training of militants

The US military are training up to 2,700 militants from different groups at the al-Tanf base in Syria, according to Rudskoi.

“Within the 55-km zone around al-Tanf, US instructors are training a large armed formation, Magavir al-Saura, and some small militant groups for the so-called Army of Arab Tribes. The militants’ total numerical strength is 2,700 men,” the Russian general reported, providing footage obtained from drones.

A part of the militants trained at the al-Tanf base is being airlifted by US combat helicopters beyond the Euphrates, the Russian general added.

“The most trained saboteurs are being delivered to the territories controlled by the government troops to destabilize the situation and prevent the strengthening of the Syrian government’s positions there,” Rudskoi commented.

The basic goals of the militants trained by the US military instructors are to carry out subversive operations, destroy Syrian oil and gas infrastructure facilities and conduct terrorist attacks against government troops, he pointed out.

“Such groups have been spotted in the areas of the communities of al-Suwayda, Palmyra and Abu Kamal,” the Russian general specified.

The US military base near the settlement of al-Tanf is located at the junction of the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan. It also embraces the 55-km zone around the town.

Hong Kong Police and News Media Release Avalanche of Fake News

PHOTO: AFP

Chinese tanks at the border? False. Photo of a protester biting off a policeman’s finger? Misleading. In polarised Hong Kong, a fake news fight for public opinion has become as crucial a battleground as the city streets.

During weeks of pro-democracy protests that have involved millions of people and frequently turned violent, online rumours and conspiracy theories have sowed confusion and deepened distrust.

From 2011 footage of South Korean soldiers misrepresented as an impending Chinese “invasion” to doctored photographs exaggerating the size of rallies, Hong Kong citizens have been bombarded with conflicting claims from both sides of the political divide.

The numbers signalling the impact of the disinformation can be shocking.

Footage of a convoy of Chinese tanks that posts claimed were being sent “to suppress Hong Kongers and cause bloodshed” quickly racked up more than 800,000 views on one Twitter account alone.

Hong Kong authorities have been forced to repeatedly deny claims circulating on social media — most recently, that People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers had been brought in from the mainland to defend government buildings.

“There is absolutely no such thing and all these claims are totally false,” Hong Kong’s government said this week, responding to the allegations.

Police have also been the target of much fake news, including a video debunked by AFP that purportedly showed officers shooting a woman in the face.

“The spreading of numerous rumours about police operations will drive a wedge between the Hong Kong Police and community,” the force told AFP in a statement.

‘DEEP-ROOTED’ DIVIDE

Hong Kong police have been a magnet for fake news. PHOTO: AFP

Videos and images of protests or violent incidents, often selectively edited or doctored to support a particular viewpoint have circulated quickly on social media platforms, but also private chat groups such as on Weibo or WhatsApp.

In these closed environments, entrenched ideas are rarely challenged by facts, according to journalism professor and fake news expert Masato Kajimoto.

“The rather simple, one-sided views expressed in such content makes it harder to reconcile the difference,” between Hong Kong’s warring camps, Kajimato told AFP.

While a lot of disinformation originates and spreads on social media or chat groups, the mainstream press is also guilty of fanning the flames, according to Kajimoto.

“The excuse that journalists are simply reporting about what people are sharing and discussing is a cop-out,” he said, pointing to a widely reported recent conspiracy theory that claimed a policeman’s watch proved a press briefing was staged.

“In this age of misinformation and disinformation, the news media should not report anything they haven’t independently verified.”

Journalists themselves have complained of pressure to make events fit a certain narrative.

This month, the staff union for Hong Kong’s public broadcaster claimed reporters were instructed to spread misinformation about a protester using pliers to sever a police officer’s fingers.

The channel has said it is investigating.

China’s state-run media is a driving force behind discrediting pro-democracy events, according to lawyer Rachel Lao, who is a member of a pro-democracy legal group.

“The Chinese Communist Party is skilled at creating confusion among the public in China and shaming any such movements,” Lao told AFP.

But she said the bombardment of state-sponsored disinformation may have the opposite effect from what Beijing intends.

“Because the news is so obviously fake to Hongkongers, they are now very sceptical of any news they receive,” she said.

‘TOO MUCH INFORMATION’

Jeffrey Ngo, a pro-democracy activist, said the sheer volume of conflicting and false news circulating online left people confused.

“In a world with too much information, what is real and not real is very tricky (to determine),” Ngo said, adding the this may work better for authorities and the city’s pro-Beijing camp.

“It ultimately plays well for those in power, when ordinary people decide not to seek truth because they think it’s so hard to figure out what is true and what isn’t,” he added.

Dedicated fact-checking services, run by independent or mainstream media groups, have emerged in recent years across the globe.

AFP’s own Asia Fact-Check service has debunked more than a dozen false or misleading claims about the Hong Kong protests, published in English.

Some local independent media organisations have also published Chinese-language fact-check reports about the protests.

However, Hong Kong has yet to see the kind of strong fact-checking culture emerge as seen in India and Indonesia over recent years.

Suspicion and doubt, in the meantime, is filling the vacuum.

“There isn’t neutral, reliable media that can build a bridge between the two sides and win the trust of both,” Phillis Zhu, a mainland Chinese student living in Hong Kong, told AFP.

“Actually, media is causing the conflicts.”

Will US Agitation of Hong Kong Or Provocation of Taiwan Cause Chinese Military Response?

[SEE: Will China Invade Hong Kong? Or Taiwan Instead?]

Anti-extradition bill demonstrators react as riot police fire tear gas after a march to call for democratic reforms, in Hong Kong, China on July 21, 2019. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

US State Department Concerned Over Chinese Threats to Quell Hong Kong Protests Using Military

The U.S. State Department has expressed concern about recent statements from the Chinese regime that it could deploy its military to intervene in Hong Kong against protests directed at Beijing’s growing encroachment into the city, South China Morning Post reported.

“We note with concern the Chinese government’s statements,” a spokesperson for the state department told the outlet on July 25.

“We urge Beijing to adhere to its commitments in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law to allow Hong Kong to exercise a high degree of autonomy,” the spokesperson said, referring to the binding documents guaranteeing the city’s freedoms and autonomy under a policy known as “one country, two systems.”

See today’s news highlights at a glance. Download The Epoch Times app.

The statement comes days after China’s Ministry of National Defense acknowledged the possibility of deploying the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong to “maintain social order,” suggesting that soldiers could be sent in upon a request by Hong Kong leaders.

The warning came as Beijing released its first national defense white paper in four years, in which it threatened to use force in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and stressed the Chinese military’s role in “consolidating the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”

A spokesman of the ministry, Colonel Wu Qian, speaking at a press conference for the defense white paper on July 23, warned that the “behaviors of some radical protesters have challenged the central government’s authority” and was something “completely intolerable.”

He then pointed to a specific article in the city’s Garrison Law that allows Chinese troops to directly intervene to maintain law and order as the Asian financial hub enters its third month of mass protests against a controversial extradition bill.

The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) on July 24 slammed Beijing’s threats to deploy troops in Hong Kong.

“Threats of intervention by the People’s Liberation Army in Hong Kong are unacceptable and needlessly escalate tensions,” the statement by CECC chairs U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said.

The chairs also urged the U.S. administration to “strongly and publicly” condemn such threats of military intervention.

The widespread protests in Hong Kong, which started in early June, was sparked by an extradition bill proposed by the local government that would allow people to be transferred to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Critics say such a law would threaten Hong Kong’s fundamental human rights and autonomy given China’s conviction rate of more than 99.9 percent.

As the city government continued to deny all protester demands, including a withdrawal of the bill, protests escalated with increased volatility in clashes with police. Protesters, numbering millions, have increasingly directed their anger toward the city’s police force for firing tear gas and rubber bullets, and a government they say is the puppet of the CCP. The CCP’s consistent encroachments on Hong Kong’s governance has resulted in the flood of anger now seen from residents in the anti-extradition-bill crisis, with seemingly no end in sight.

The CECC chairs voiced support to protesters in Hong Kong “who are peacefully promoting democratic principles and the rule of law,” citing the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act, which grants the city trade and travel privileges due to its guaranteed level of freedom and autonomy under “one country, two systems” that separates it from communist China.

In addition to urging the U.S. government to condemn Beijing’s warnings, the committee also called for the Hong Kong government to condemn the brazen threats from Beijing as “unwelcome interference in Hong Kong’s affairs.”

The two chairs also addressed the alleged collusion between Hong Kong police and local triads in a violent mob attack on July 21, in which dozens of masked men in white shirts brazenly attacked defenseless passengers inside a train station with batons and metal bars. The attacks saw 45 people sustaining injuries.

An extensive delay in police response and footage taken by passersby showing officers interacting with alleged assailants but not making any arrests, have raised widespread speculations alleging ties between the police and triads to target protesters.

“Escalation of violence—whether on the part of organized crime thugs or the PLA—will only further undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and rule of law,” Rubio and McGovern wrote, urging the city government to avoid adopting such tactics. “Instead, the Hong Kong government should listen to the legitimate grievances of Hong Kongers and enter into substantive discussions,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, amid the torrent of condemnation of the beatings by local triads, China has taken a hostile tone in lashing out at foreign countries who have voiced their concerns regarding the anti-extradition- bill protests.

“Hong Kong belongs to China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in a June 24 briefing, while avoiding acknowledging the attacks. “We will not allow any foreign forces to mess with Hong Kong. We advise the United States to withdraw its dirty hands from Hong Kong as soon as possible.”

Rubio, in a video posted by his office on July 23, urged the world’s countries, including the United States, to condemn Beijing, which he alleged of being behind the July 21 mob attack that shocked the city with a level of violence rarely seen.

“The Chinese government has basically empowered these street gangs, these thugs associated with organized crime, to viciously attack these protesters, and not just the protesters, but whoever was standing around this train station,” Rubio said.

“It gives you great insight into the type of government that we are dealing with in the mainland of China, the Communist Party of China.”

Cathy He contributed to report.

 

Tanker War Expands To Black Sea, Ukrainian Navy Seizes Russian Tanker From Kerch Straits Incident

Moscow warns of ‘consequences’ after Ukraine seizes Russian tanker

A view shows the Russian tanker, now called Nika Spirit and formerly named Neyma, which was detained by the Ukrainian security services in the port of Izmail, Ukraine in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on July 25, 2019.

A view shows the Russian tanker, now called Nika Spirit and formerly named Neyma, which was detained by the Ukrainian security services in the port of Izmail, Ukraine in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on July 25, 2019.  State Border Guard Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS

Ukraine said on Thursday it had detained a Russian tanker for its alleged involvement in the seizure of three Ukrainian vessels by Russia in November, and Moscow threatened consequences if Russian citizens were “taken hostage.”

Ukraine’s security service maintained that the tanker in the Ukrainian port of Izmail was involved in an incident in November in the Kerch Strait that led to Russia seizing three Ukrainian vessels.

“The Ukraine security service and military prosecutors’ office detained (a) Russian tanker, the Neyma, which had blocked Ukrainian warships in the Kerch Strait,” the security service said in a statement on Thursday.

Russia captured the vessels and their crews in waters that separate the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and Russia. Moscow-Kiev relations have been tense ever since.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned Ukraine on Thursday that “there will soon be consequences” if any Russian members of the crew of the tanker detained by Kiev were “taken hostage,” RIA news agency reported.

Ukraine’s security service was not available for comment.

It said earlier that the Russian vessel had entered Ukraine under its new name, the Nika Spirit, “to cover its involvement in illegal actions,” but that it had identified the ship by its unique International Maritime Organization number (IMO).

“The above named vessel is considered to be a piece of material evidence, (and) a petition to a court for its arrest is being prepared,” the security service said in its statement.

In Moscow, senior Russian lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov described Ukraine’s detention of the tanker as “absolutely illegal” and said it was detrimental to relations between the two countries, RIA news agency reported.

In Kiev, Ukraine’s ombudswoman said negotiations on the release of the Ukrainian sailors from the three vessels seized by the Russian navy off Crimea’s coast had intensified after Russian and Ukrainian leaders spoke by phone earlier this month.

China Defense Policy Foresees War w/US To End Interference In Taiwanese Reunification Effort

[“One China principle” “One-China policy” is a policy saying that there is only one sovereign state under the name China, despite the fact that there are two states, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC).–WIKI]

[China’s White Paper strategy is based on maintaining the “1992 Consensus“, agreement to disagree on Taiwan’s status, while the PRC and the ROC, both continue to hold to the view that their govt. is the legitimate Govt. of “ONE CHINA”.–ed.U]

“The fight against separatists is becoming more acute. The Taiwan authorities, led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), stubbornly stick to “Taiwan
independence” and refuse to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle.”–WHITE PAPER

“The “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and their actions remain the gravest immediate threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the biggest barrier hindering the peaceful reunification of the country.

China adheres to the principles of “peaceful reunification”, and “one country, two systems”, promotes peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, and
advances peaceful reunification of the country. Meanwhile, China resolutely opposes
any attempts or actions to split the country and any foreign interference to this end.

China must be and will be reunited. China has the firm resolve and the ability to
safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will never allow the
secession of any part of its territory by anyone, any organization or any political party by any means at any time. We make no promise to renounce the use of force, and reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. This is by no means targeted at our compatriots in Taiwan, but at the interference of external forces and the very small number of “Taiwan independence” separatists and their activities. The PLA will resolutely defeat anyone attempting to separate Taiwan from China and safeguard national unity at all costs.

China resolutely opposes the wrong practices and provocative activities of
the US side regarding arms sales to Taiwan, sanctions on the CMC Equipment
Development Department and its leadership, illegal entry into China’s territorial
waters and maritime and air spaces near relevant islands and reefs, and wide-range
and frequent close-in reconnaissance. However, in China-US relations, the
military-to-military relationship remains the generally stable one.”

US cruiser patrols Taiwan Strait in spite of ballyhooed China white paper

USS Antietam.

USS Antietam. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A large, heavily armed U.S. Navy warship sailed through the waters of the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday (July 24), the same day the Communist Chinese military released a white paper in which it threatened to use force against so-called pro-Taiwan independence “separatists.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Navy announced that it had sent the USS Antietam (CG-54), a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, through the Taiwan Strait that day. Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, told CNN the “USS Antietam conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit July 24-25 (local time) in accordance with international law.”

In China’s much-ballyhooed white paper [white paper on national defense in new era] released on Wednesday, it accused the U.S., which this month approved a sales package of tanks and Stinger missiles valued at approximately US$2.2 billion to Taiwan, of “undermining global strategic stability.” Doss countered China’s assertion by saying that “The (ship’s) transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” reported Reuters.

While the paper parroted China’s policy of “peaceful reunification” and “one country, two systems” toward Taiwan, it reiterated Beijing will not “renounce the use of force” against “separatists” and “foreign forces.” Meanwhile, Doss in his statement reiterated that “The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

The USS Antietam is a guided-missile cruiser, and it last sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Oct 22, 2018. Cruisers are the third-largest vessel in the US Navy’s fleet, after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.

Iran Releases Both Brit Tankers, Then Releases Video of Iranian Special Forces Boarding Stena Impero

MARINETRAFFIC.COM shows Stena Impero tanker currently underway, doing “13.9kn”, heading towards Saudi Arabia just as fast as it can go.

Position Received:  UTC
Vessel’s Time Zone: UTC +4
Area: AG – Persian Gulf
Latitude / Longitude: 26.76833° / 56.28255°
Status: Underway Using Engine
Speed/Course: 13.9kn / 308°
AIS Source: 5019 EIGHTH PETROLEUM

The other vessel, which Iran allegedly seized, the “Mesdar”, a.k.a., DAMMAM ANCH, is safeanchored offshore at Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

[Immediately preceding these two incidents, news reports from the Middle East claimed that the Panamanian-flagged tanker “RIAH” was allegedly stopped by Iranian forces…the latest MARINETRAFFIC.COM snapshot shows it moving at “2kn” off the coast of Iran, with no future course listed on site.]

Panama cites ‘deliberate violations’ as it disowns UAE-based tanker seized by Iran

Panama cites ‘deliberate violations’ as it disowns UAE-based tanker seized by Iran

Panama’s Maritime Authority on Saturday announced that it initiated the process of withdrawing its flag from the Emirati-based tanker Riah, which vanished south of Iran’s Larak Island.

In a statement cited by Reuters, the authority said that its own investigation into the tanker’s disappearance had found that it “deliberately violated international regulations” by failing to report an unusual situation, presumably its seizure by the Iranian Navy. The authority also condemned the use of Panama-registered vessels for “illicit activities” without ascribing any such specific activity to the Riah.

The tanker went missing from radar screens shortly before midnight last Saturday, when its tracking signal abruptly blinked out. On Tuesday, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported, citing the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the Iranian forces came to a foreign tanker’s rescue after it sent a distress signal. While the name of the tanker was not revealed at the time, the vessel was presumed to be the Riah.

ALSO ON RT.COMTehran: Oil tanker broke down in Persian Gulf, towed by Iran forces for repairsHowever, two days later, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps released footage showing the seizure of the ship with ‘Riah’ and “PANAMA” written on its hull, while accusing the vessel of smuggling fuel.

‘Smuggling fuel’: Iran state TV shows VIDEO of seized tanker days after UAE-based vessel vanishes

Semi-official news agency Fars reported at the time that the Iranian Navy had towed the tanker to the shore upon receiving a distress signal and discovered a haul of petroleum products, allegedly smuggled from Iran, after boarding the ship.

Despite airing the footage, Tehran has never acknowledged that the seized vessel was the Emirati-based Riah.

Other murky circumstances in the story have still not been clarified. While it has been widely reported that the Riah made frequent trips between different emirates of the UAE, that country has distanced itself from the ship.

“The tanker in question is neither UAE owned nor operated,” a UAE official told Emirates News Agency earlier this week.

There is also uncertainty over whether the ship asked for help, with the same official saying it “did not emit a distress call.”

At the moment, it’s still unclear who owns and operates the tanker. The Equasis maritime database shows the Riah’s last known owner as UAE-registered RIAH Shipping & Trading Inc., which appears to be based in Singapore.

Kurd/ ISIS Symbiosis – The Impending Destruction of Turkey

[SEE:  Imperial Plan To Use Civil War As Gas and Oil Valve–PART II]

Kurd/ ISIS Symbiosis – The Impending Destruction of Turkey.

What about this relationship between ISIS and the Kurds? (not brand Yazidi specific)

It’s seems to be a real working relationship. I have remarked on that symbiosis, more then once here at the blog. And elsewhere too! 

FWIW: I believe the Kurdish Pashmerga and ISIS to be joined at the hip to the American/Israeli evil twins.

It seems much more likely that there is cooperation and coordination between the Kurds and ISIS. It’s a thought that has been in the back of my mind for sometime now. When one takes a look at the land grabbed by ISIS and the desired Kurdistan one can’t help but see something taking shape. Something like a new nation.

Back in August 2014- ISIS took Mosul and then the Kurds took it back, including that all important dam!

The Kurds also kicked ISIS to the curb in Sinjar. Allegedly.

I wrote about the whole Sinjar situation at the time it occurred —The Yazidi genocide narrative strains credulity- No fly zone by stealth

 I’m going to be straight up- The Yazidi narrative? I don’t find it credible. I find it convenient. But, not credible.
*Why on earth would the Yazidi’s who are Kurds, however that is defined, head up to some mountain top on the border of Syria, when Kurdish territory is heavily guarded and virtually untouched?

And prior to that post- “Refugee camps” in Kurdish/Iraq- Kurds request No-fly Buffer Zone & Armed US Assist

“The camp will be ready in one week’s time and will be operated by Iraqi Turkmens, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Turkey had earlier set up another camp for Iraqi Turkmen in Sinjar.”

Sinjar where “ISIS” chased Kurds into a mountain.

It was the whole Yazidi saga that really solidified in my mind the collusion between the two largely SUNNI Muslim groups (we will get to that!) ISIS and the Kurds. I actually hold the opinion that the covert NATO army, that is labelled ISIS,  has Kurds within it’s ranks.
Thinking of the entire Sinjar narrative. On the Iraq side of the mountain you have Kurds and ISIS going in and on the Syrian side you have lots of Kurdish fighters and ISIS, coming out?

“To the east of Kobani, just across the Syrian border with Iraq, is the town of Sinjar. “
Writes Scott Ritter for Huffington Post. That can’t be a coincidence.

The desired state of Kurdistan-

http://kurdishguid.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/kurdistan-map.jpg?w=1200
Kurdistan and the borders as they exist today

We can see that ISIS is allegedly holding desired Kurdish territory. As it has on more then one occasion. Mosul. Sinjar. Kobane.  But the Kurds always emerge victorious. How can ISIS be portrayed as so threatening when the Kurds can beat them so handily?  By the way Kobane/Kobani is looking  about to be taken by the Kurds. As the Kurds make new gains, supposedly. As if there was any doubt this territory was going to be end up being held by the Kurds. Syria’s Kurds advance in the heart of Kobane/i

Israel, Kurds and that special relationship….

Notice how the Kurds rely on the Israeli creation myth to justify  their own nation?
Though historically…. same as Israel. Their claim to the land is questionable.

America Must Recognize Kurdistan
Just as they recognized Israel?

“Thus, just as Israel was re-established as a Jewish state in 1948, the Kurds have yearned for self-rule”

Israel was re-established? I had no idea there ever was a nation of Israel prior to it’s creation in 1948.
I thought Israel was a man, originally named Jacob? How is it Israel was “re-established”

“Perhaps a parallel history explains the longstanding friendship between Kurds and Jews, for the Kurdish experience (citing Sèvres) recapitulates Israel”s (citing Balfour)”

Related: September 24/2014 The Kurds: Israel’s not so improbable ally

It’s interesting, that nation destruction/re-creation precedent that was set when Israel was created. The fact that the two groups bolster one anothers narrative is obviously self serving for both groups and their interests. Both groups can choose to bolster the other, but that circular reasoning/begging the question doesn’t make Kurdish or Israeli claims true, correct or factual. It just makes them their claims.
So a parallel history? Perhaps? But of what type?

Who are the Kurds?

“Kurds are now largely Sunni Muslims” (From CNNKurd)
Say, what? “Kurds are now largely Sunni Muslims”

(Which means they can very easily live amongst their Sunni Muslim brethren in any nation)
Kurds are now largely Sunni Muslims?  So is ISIS. Wow!!!
Synchronicity?

How about another sync? 
We know Israel is very chummy with many a Sunni Muslim-  We know Israel is chummy with NATO mercs, who are Sunni Muslim. We know that Israel is chummy with the Kurds who are mostly Sunni Muslim.  Six of one/half a dozen of the other?

Last week there was an article in WSJ One of many in the WSJ, but this one really caught my attention.

Headline: Kurds Fight Islamic State to Claim a Piece of Syria

Sub-heading: A Kurdish paramilitary group will help the U.S. expel Islamic militants in exchange for a stretch of northern Syria to build its vision of utopia

All the way to the Mediterranean

That Kurdish paramilitary group is the YPG /PKK group. I am going to call them the PKK from here on in.The PKK have been mentioned here on more then one ocassion-
Pretty sure the last time was in this post?
Written before the no fly zone expanded from Iraq to Syria- you know the no fly by stealth zone? Boots on the ground pour into Syria- PKK appeals to Kurds to fight with ISIS 

Oh, does anyone find it odd that the US can just give another nations territory away?   
Anyone think that strange? Of course Israel sees this as perfectly acceptable because they were given land inhabited by other people. Northern Syria is not just occupied by Sunni Muslim Kurds. There are others resident in those areas. Do they want to live in this Utopia? Is anyone considering them?
The answer to that would seem to be NO, particularly when one thinks of Palestine.
That all said, it seems this is going to be an easy land grab for the sunni muslim brand kurds. Because it is a repeating pattern. Mosul, Sinjar and Kobane/i. And all that US/Israeli/NATO assistance.

So let’s read that WSJ article

RAS AL-AIN, Syria—A billboard of a 19-year-old Kurdish fighter brandishing a machine gun covers part of a bullet-marked building that once housed Syrian government offices. The building is abandoned and its officials long gone.

Hussein Kocher, the 40-year-old local commander of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in his makeshift command center in Ras al-Ain, Syria. His group wants to assist the U.S. in battling Islamic State in exchange for recognition of their control of towns and village in largely Kurdish areas of northern Syria.

Control of this town now belongs to a Kurdish paramilitary force that boasts of having more than 30,000 fighters ready to help the U.S. and its allies drive Islamic State and other militants from a broad stretch of northern Syria. The force belongs to the same Kurdish group defending embattled Kobani with the assistance of U.S. airstrikes.

This is the PKK and it’s 30,000 fighters. Ras al Ain seems to be the district that either houses Kobani or is near by? Seems to be some contradictory information around, just for clarification

One of the many political complications facing the U.S. in the arrangement is that these Kurdish fighters—an offshoot of agroup designated by the U.S. and Turkey as a terror organization—want to keep control of the territory they have seized to create their own vision of a utopian society.

So the Kurd brand of Sunni Muslim seized territory and is protected but the ISIS brand of Sunni Muslim seizes territory and must be thwarted?? Am I the only one who sees this as perception management or hiding in plain sight?

“We are ready to cooperate with anyone who respects the will of our people and accepts us as we are,” said Hussein Kocher, a 40-year-old local commander of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The Syrian Kurd has spent nearly half his life fighting for Kurdish independence, mostly against Turkey”

The YPG/PKK have committed acts of terrorism on many occasion in Turkey. Hence the designation.
In reality the PKK appears to have always functioned as a stay behind army. 
A NATO Stay Behind army.  Always at the ready to keep Turkey in check.

 PKK as Stay Behind Army Checklist

1-Keeping Turkish leadership in check- Yup

2-Involved in bombings etc., to terrorize the population and leadership into compliance- Yup

The PKK continued to demonstrate its nationwide reach with typical tactics and techniques that included ambushes of military patrols in the countryside, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along known military or police routes and bombings of both security and civilian targets in urban areas.

It seems terrorism does have it’s rewards. At least for the PKK. So, what does that suggest to us about the backers of the PKK?

3- The leader of the PKK stinks to high heaven of a CIA/NATO asset. The man at the forefront of the PKK stay behind has always been Ocalan- He has been ensconced safely in the embrace of the Turkish deep state and the CIA- Imprisoned but influential still.

WSJ-

The PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured by the Central Intelligence Agency and Turkish security forces in 1999. He remains in prison but his influence over followers, including YPG fighters, is unbroken.

The slogan of YPG fighters translates to “there’s no life without the leader,” referring to Mr. Ocalan. A large poster of him hangs at the command center here, next to a photo of Kurdish fighters at a military parade”

So influential that he actually threatened Turkish leaders regarding Kobane/i

Link and quote – Ocalan- “Should this massacre attempt succeed (in Kobane), it will both bring an end to the ongoing process of resolution and lay the foundations for a new coup that will last long,” 


How is it that Ocalan can threaten an overthrow of the Turkish government while being held allegedly like a criminal, and get away with it? Clearly he is protected as he visits with influential Kurdish politicians from his ‘prison cell” So, connected to ‘all the right people’? YUP!
Like I said PKK/YPG = Left behind army or Gladio if you please?

“YPG/PKK commanders and senior political leaders affiliated with the group said they were eager to join the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in return for recognition and support from Washington and its allies for the Kurdish-dominated self-rule administrations they have established in northern Syria. The ruling groups have already set up courts, passed laws and tapped oil revenues in the region, which is also populated by Syrian Arabs and Christians.

Mr. Kocher and other YPG/PKK commanders said in interviews during a recent visit that U.S. operatives inside Syria are exchanging intelligence and helping coordinate airstrikes against Islamic State—in northeast Syria near the Iraq border, as well as in nearby towns and villages by the Syria-Turkey border”

US operatives inside Syria- Exchanging intelligence and coordinating airstrikes-
Since we KNOW that the US is not sharing intelligence or coordinating airstrikes with the elected Syrian government, we can be dam sure that the US is colluding with a designated terror group.

“A senior State Department official praised the Kurdish forceand said Wednesday it was in the best interests of the U.S. to expand its joint effort with the YPG against Islamic State. The official said cooperation wouldn’t, however, be tied to political recognition of the self-rule areas now run by the YPG and its political affiliates. “We hope that everyone in Syria works together on a national unified project,” he said”

That’s just another  lie! We know that a ‘unified project’ means a weak, destabilized Syria. Same as a ‘unified Iraq’ means a destroyed Iraq

“Forging closer ties with the YPG and its affiliates would spare the U.S. and its coalition partners from deploying troops against Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. But the arrangement brings challenges and risk”

Did I not mention this exact scenario to you some months ago? Yes, I did! Have you forgotten? Did you miss it? August 28/14( linked above also) The US forging ties with a designated terror group aka left behind NATO army will spare the US and it’s coalition partners from deploying troops

Kurdistan being created right under our noses 

“After similar battles, the YPG and its political affiliates this year declared three self-rule administrations, or cantons as they call them, in northern Syria: Afreen, in the northwest, near the city of Aleppo; Kobani; and Jazeera in the northeast, which encompasses Ras al-Ain and the city of Qamishli. Their goal is to connect all three.

To unify Kurdistan

Recall that latest attack on Khorasan? Where did it take place? Were you paying attention?
See where Afrin is? Right at the border with Turkey. That is roughly where the US struck

US strikes Khorosan in Syria near the town of Samarda. Samarda appears to be very near Afrin, going in a southern direction Is the US softening targets in advance of a PKK onslaught?

Sarmada. Location, Location, Location? In fact look at the airstrikes along the Northern border of Syria?

The fight against ISIS looks very much like assistance for a terror groups land grab.
Kosovo?  The KLA?  Hashim Thaci? Ringing any bells? Noting any similarities?

Not everyone is impressed

Some residents worry about YPG control. “Their goal is to hold the ground at any cost and by any means,” said Asem Hasan, a 39-year-old schoolteacher from Qamishli.

Well, lets face it- the YPG/PKK is at it’s heart a terrorist organization created as a destabilizing force/Stay Behind style.  So they are not going to be nice fellows.

Interestingly the Kurds have been meeting with US officials in Berlin and Baghdad. 

Yes, you read correctly- BERLIN and BAGHDAD

 “Mr. Omar said he and other YPG officials carried that message to U.S. diplomats during meetings in Berlin this summer and in Baghdad in September.

Mr. Omar said he pressed U.S. officials during these meetings to support the Kurds’ self-rule administrations, which employ executive, legislative and judiciary councils that include seats for Arabs, local minorities and women.

“We basically told them ‘We are ready to work with you if you want to root out ISIS in Syria and you must coordinate with someone on the ground,’ ” Mr. Omar said.

U.S. officials declined to comment on the meetings in Baghdad and Berlin. The State Department confirmed an Oct. 12 meeting between the special envoy to Syria, Daniel Rubinstein, and Saleh Muslim, leader of the main political party affiliated with the YPG.

Meetings in September and October- That tells us all that there has been planning or conspiring!!

And of course, there is oil 

YPG military bases dot the oil fields around Rumailan, about 60 miles east of Qamishli, where about 40,000 barrels a day are produced—the group’s chief source of revenue. Some of the output goes to traders affiliated with the Syrian regime, said Suleiman Khalaf, who holds a post equivalent to that of oil minister in the local administration.

https://i0.wp.com/si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/BN-FN085_1112yp_P_20141112132534.jpg
Oil Wells in Northern Syria controlled by the Kurdish paramilitary

 Oil wells dot a stretch of northern Syria under the control of a Kurdish paramilitary force that says it is ready to help the U.S. and its allies defeat Islamic State and other Islamic militants in exchange for U.S. support of a plan to keep control of towns and villages. Sam Dagher/The Wall Street Journal

Ah yes, oil. Kurdistan will be oil rich and very strategically located

Stay tuned for more. Next up! The impending destruction destabilization of Turkey

Two Ships or Just One Seized by Iran?

Two Ships or Just One Seized by Iran?

 

We’re 2 ships seized or is Britain playing fast and loose with the truth?

The British owner of a second tanker reportedly seized by Iranian authorities in the Gulf on Friday said the ship had been temporarily boarded by armed personnel but was now free to leave.

“Communication has been re-established with the vessel and (the captain) confirmed that the armed guards have left and the vessel is free to continue the voyage. All crew are safe and well,” Norbulk Shipping UK said in a statement about the ship, the Mesdar.

The company said the Liberian-registered vessel was boarded by armed personnel at around 1630 GMT.

The British-operated, Liberian-flagged oil tanker Mesdar

It did not give any more details about the personnel but said the ship began heading north towards Iran.

The company said that by 2000 GMT the armed personnel had left and the ship was free to continue on its voyage. According to the website Marine Traffic, the ship was on its way from China to Saudi Arabia.

So the ship was free to continue on it’s way after 3-1/2 hours or 210 minutes

The British government earlier accused Iranian authorities of seizing two vessels in the Gulf, including a UK-registered one, but did not name them.
“I’m extremely concerned by the seizure of two vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said

Were there two ships detained or was  it really just one and a whole lot of exaggeration from Jeremy Hunt ? Then further  spun by the media?

Britain claims two ships seized: Iran says one.

 Britain says Iran seizes two oil tankers in Gulf, Iran says captured one

“Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency said the second vessel, the British-operated Mesdar, had not been seized.  (As reported in opening news article) It said the ship had been allowed to continue its course after being given a warning over safety and environmental issues.

The Stena Impero and Mesdar changed direction sharply within 40 minutes of each other shortly after entering the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, taking up a course towards Iran, Refinitiv tracking data showed.

The data later showed Mesdar changing direction again, heading westward back into the Gulf.

MARITIME RULES

Iran’s Guards, an elite force under the command of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said they seized the Stena Impero at the request of Iranian authorities for “not following international maritime regulations,” state television reported.
Northern Marine Management, which is owned by Stena AB, confirmed the Stena Impero was heading towards Iran.”

Why was the Stena Impero heading towards Iran? I’m getting a real provocation vibe from this news…

“Norbulk, the manager of the tanker Mesdar, said the vessel had been boarded by armed personnel but was later allowed to continue its voyage. It said the crew were safe and well.”

 Reads to me like one ship, acting provocatively, may have been seized. 

“Refinitiv data showed the Stena Impero vessel is owned by Stena Bulk and indicated its destination had been the Saudi port of Jubail on the Gulf. The tracking map showed it veering off course about 1517 GMT and heading toward Iran.

The Mesdar made its shift toward Iran at about 1600 GMT.

“We received reports that the British Stena Impero oil tanker was causing incidents and, therefore, we asked the military to direct it to Bandar Abbas port for the necessary probes,” Allahmorad Afifipour, head of Hormozgan’s maritime authority, told Tasnim news agency”

Qatar Expands US Gift Base (Al Udeid Air Base), While Saudis Receive New Patriot Battery +500 Troops

[SEE: Trump Sending 500 Man “Tripwire” Force To Saudi Prince Sultan Air Base]

Trump further stressed that his country will not pay anything, noting that Qatari investments in the US are considered the largest

Qatar to fully pay for expansion of Al Udeid Air Base, Emir buys protection with money

CAIRO – 13 July 2019: United States President Donald Trump has expressed his gratitude for the expansion of the centerpiece of U.S.-Qatar ties, namely Al Udeid Air Base.

During a speech that Trump delivered amid a dinner banquet organized on the occasion of an official visit conducted by the Emir of the tiny emirate, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, he said Qatar will pay for the expansion of the air base.

Trump further stressed that his country will not pay anything, noting that Qatari investments in the US are considered the largest.

Al Udeid is home to scores of aircraft, including fighters, bombers, tankers and reconnaissance planes.

The boycott of Qatar by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain took place for its policies of supporting terrorism and meddling in its neighbors’ internal affairs.

Trump Sending 500 Man “Tripwire” Force To Saudi Prince Sultan Air Base

[Because of this deployment, Iran cannot strike Prince Sultan Base without risking killing a lot of Americans.  In this case, Trump proves that Saudi money is more important to him than the American soldiers he so often praises.]

[SEE:U.S. Military in Saudi Arabia Digs Into the Sand ]–NOV. 9, 1996

[SEE: America signals withdrawal of troops from Saudi Arabia–30 Apr 2003 ]

US to deploy 500 troops to Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions: report

The troops will be sent to the Prince Sultan Air Base in the country, which is in a desert east of Riyadh, CNN reported, citing two unnamed officials familiar with the plans.

The deployment plan comes as the US continues to respond to the downing of a US drone by Iran in the region. After the drone was shot down, Trump pulled back on a military strike of the country when he found out more than 100 people would be killed in a planned operation.

The US also announced it would deploy 1,000 troops in the region after an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the US blames on Iran.

“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said in a statement on June 17.

The plan also strengthens the Trump administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, even as congressional lawmakers have sought to punish the country, in part, for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a US national, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey, allegedly by agents of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

 

Ex-Saudi intelligence official attacks Qatar, threatens coup

Prince Bandar Bin Sultan [File photo]

Former Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, launched a fierce attack on Qatar, ruling out that things would return to normal with Doha unless it complies with Saudi demands.

The former Saudi ambassador to Washington warned Doha not to be deceived by the US presence on its territories.

Bin Sultan added in an interview with Independent Arabia that “the largest military base in the Middle East was Wheelus Air Base in Libya. When the revolution and coup broke out in Libya, one of the officers who carried out the revolution went to the US military base. The Americans then warned him of getting close to the base, so he told them that he came to inform them that that they carried out a coup against the Libyan king. The Americans responded saying that ‘this is a Libyan internal affair. The most essential thing is that no one gets close to the military base’.”

READ: What’s left of the Qatar siege?

Bin Sultan commented on that saying that “Doha is greatly deceived that the US air base is there to protect Qatar, while they do not know that it is there to serve Washington’s interests.”

He continued: “They can learn the lesson from what happened in Libya when Wheelus Air Base was the largest military base in the world, yet it did not protect the king from the coup.”

The Saudi official continued his threats by saying: “There is no guarantee for Qataris if they link this guarantee to the US base.”

Western reports previously revealed Saudi-UAE plans to carry out a military coup and overthrow the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani against the backdrop of the Gulf crisis that broke out on 5 June 2017.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt continue to cut ties with Qatar, for the second year in a row, accusing it of “supporting terrorism”, a charge Doha has repeatedly denied.

Religious Appeal To Fight the Immorality of the Military Industrial Complex

The spread of militarism does not just involve creating the specific apparatus of war

 

David James

 

As the Western allies flirt with starting World War III in Syria, it is worth examining some of the financial and business dynamics behind the United States’ ‘military industrial complex.’

War may not be good business, but it is certainly big business. And in contrast to Russia and China, the war industry in the US is heavily privatized, including the use of mercenaries.

First, some statistical context. America’s military spending, which will rise to US$716 billion in 2019, is almost half the total of the world’s military spending.

It is bigger than the next 15 biggest countries’ combined outlays, four times China’s level and ten times Russia’s. And that is just military spending.

As Alexander Nekrosov commented, the CIA’s budget is $US44 billion a year, which is about two thirds of Russia’s military budget. America is a warrior nation like no other: it has been at war 222 out of its 239 years.

Then there are the bases. Depending on how you count them, America has between 800 and 1000 military bases, giving it leverage, if not control, over 191 nations.

Russia has only a handful, mainly across Central Asia, although it has been establishing new ones in Syria. China has almost none. The US bases are presented as being part of America’s investment in defence, but it looks much more like offence.

Then there are the munitions output and the body count — what we might call the business operations. In the past 16 years, the US has invaded, occupied and dropped 200,000 bombs and missiles on seven countries.

If the overall impact is considered, and not just the immediate casualties from the combat (an epidemiological approach) the death toll is estimated to be more than two million (and maybe as high as five million).

Then there is the co-opting of public and political life. Military providers depend almost totally on sales to their governments, with of course America being the biggest buyer.

This represents an extremely lucrative market, but to make sure that it will buy it is necessary to persuade politicians and the media that there is a constant threat that must be met with ever higher spending.

This does not prove too difficult. Even basic logic is easily taken out. Thus we see the recent bombing of Syria justified as teaching Assad a lesson that goes something like this: ‘Because Assad appears to have killed Syrians, we have to punish him by killing more Syrians.’ Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts would thoroughly approve.

The spread of militarism does not just involve creating the specific apparatus of war. There is a huge parallel industry in false-fact creation and spin. This goes back decades, but a recent example was the revelation that in 2016 the Pentagon paid PR company Bell Pottinger to deliver propaganda during the Iraq war.

That is only one instance of many. Some of the people involved with the infamous Cambridge Analytica seem to have been involved in various types of psyops. The Pentagon lists control of information as one of its core operational activities, which encompasses heavy influence over the media (along with intelligence agencies) and influence over Hollywood.

It is true that there are bigger industries. Military expenditure, plus spending on veterans, only accounts for about a quarter of the total US federal budget. Defence equates with about 3.5 per cent of the nation’s GDP, smaller than finance and health.

But as a business, the military is distinct, and it has unusual effects. Economically, military investment is dead money. Unlike other industry sectors, there is no domestic multiplier effect, it does not stimulate further economic activity. Either the weaponry is used to destroy the economies of other countries, or it lies idle.

Because the business imperative is to fight wars, thus creating demand for its products and ‘services,’ it has an incentive to corrupt the rest of the polity. It is necessary to sustain a sense of urgency about resorting to violence, which has in recent times meant destroying moral conscience.

Thus we see the absurdity of action against the Assad government, because they have allegedly killed children, by a Western military that has specialised in killing children. Madeleine Albright’s infamous comment that killing 500,000 Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ said it all. The word hypocrisy hardly seems to cover it.

Such ethical failure is a measure of the military’s commercial effectiveness. The ultimate aim of the industry is to convince us that ‘we’ are the good guys and ‘they’ (the targets) are the bad guys. That way, no matter how illegal or unjustified the attack, it is always right.

To that extent, the military industry now represents the greatest threat to Western morality — a morality that is rendered meaningless if it is not also applied to our own actions.

David James is the managing editor of businessadvantagepng.com. He has a PhD in English Literature and is author of the musical comedy The Bard Bites Back, which is about Shakespeare’s ghost.

Rattling American Cages in the Propaganda War

It appears I have rattled some cages.

I recently appeared on RT to talk about how the United States weaponizes the dollar and wields it like a billy club to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives. I specifically mentioned how the U.S. can use the dollar-denominated SWIFT payment system as a tool and the threat that this kind of economic warfare poses to the U.S. domestic economy.

A couple of days after the interview, I got a somewhat contentious email from Voice of America asking for my comment because they are “fact-checking” the web story RT published based on my interview. VoA is a U.S. government-funded and operated media outlet.

The fact-checking arm of VoA (polygraph.info), asked if RT quoted me accurately. (They did.) The Polygraph reporter then stated, “We suspected there might be some inaccuracy because any expert on SWIFT would surely know that while the US has sought to influence it, it is primarily a European and European-based institution, which would of course limit the US’ ability  to ‘use’ it as a weapon as the article states.”

SWIFT  stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. The system enables financial institutions to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized environment. Since the dollar serves as the world reserve currency, SWIFT facilitates the international dollar system.

SWIFT and dollar dominance give the U.S. a great deal of leverage over other countries.

I didn’t respond to the Polygraph request because it’s clear that I am going to be cast in a bad light and my statements questioned. And I can tell you before they publish their article at least one fact they will present. They will tell you, “A U.S Treasury Department official confirmed to Polygraph.info that the U.S. does not control who SWIFT removes from its system.”

I know VoA will say this because it already has. I pulled that line from a 2017 VoA fact-check on a story relating to SWIFT locking a Russian bank out of the payment system.

It is undeniable that SWIFT has been used to support U.S. economic sanctions. A March 2019 article by Reuters reported on plans by Russian banks to “retain at least short-term access to the global financial system in the event that they are hit by fresh U.S. sanctions.”

“The two biggest threats to the banking sector in Russia are being cut off from the SWIFT banking messaging system and losing access to foreign currency, which they usually get from U.S. banks via correspondent accounts.”

Bloomberg article in November 2018 reported on SWIFT blocking access to Iranian banks and the fear that the same policy could be used against other countries. Bloomberg cites SWIFT officials indicating that the U.S. government put pressure on the payment system.

“The U.S. has ramped up sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and banking sectors as part of the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against the Islamic Republic. Swift has said its move is in the interest of keeping the global financial system stable after senior U.S. officials said that it could be penalized if it authorizes payments between sanctioned entities.” [Emphasis added]

Eurasia Review elaborated on the story, quoting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who told reporters that SWIFT is no different than any other financial institution.

“We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure.”

So, despite what VoA and the Treasury Department claim, the U.S. government clearly pressures SWIFT to serve as a foreign policy tool. It may be technically accurate to say the U.S. government does not “control” SWIFT. But the U.S. clearly applies political pressure on the institution and that pressure yields results. There is enough worry about this in other countries, including Russia and China, that there are verifiable and concerted efforts to find alternative outside of the dollar-denominated system.

The Treasury Department’s statement to VoA about its control over SWIFT feels a little like claims of Federal Reserve “independence” we get from government officials and central bankers pretending the Fed operates outside and above any kind of political pressure or influence. We all know that’s utter bullshit.

What about this assertion that SWIFT is primarily a European and European-based institution and that shields it from any kind of U.S. influence?

It is true that the Belgium-based organization operates under EU law. But as the Eurasia Review article points out, SWIFT’s board includes executives from U.S. banks subject to U.S. laws, “allowing the administration to act against banks and regulators across the globe.”

“Washington’s pressure has pushed Brussels to look at creating a SWIFT alternative. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on the European Union to set up an independent equivalent of the system.”

If the EU maintained significant control over the SWIFT system, why did it feel the need to create a payment alternative to SWIFT in order to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran? Why didn’t the EU assert its influence on this “European-based” institution and insist that it allow transactions with Iran to continue unhindered?

The new payment system called INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) will allow France, Britain and Germany, along with other EU nations, to continue trade with Iran outside of the dollar-based SWIFT payment system. When EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the plan, she said the new payment channel would allow companies to preserve oil and other business deals with Iran despite U.S. sanctions.

The creation of an EU alternative to SWIFT gives you a pretty strong indication about who holds the biggest sway over SWIFT.

RT receives funding from the Russian government and there’s no question it has an editorial bias slanted toward Russian interests. But every major media organization has its bias. If you don’t think U.S. corporate media like Fox News, CNN and the New York Times have an agenda heavily influenced by U.S. “interests,” you live in a fantasyland.

The fact the VoA feels the need to “fact-check” the RT article based on my interview indicates that I have stumbled over a narrative the U.S. government doesn’t want getting into the mainstream. That doesn’t make the narrative untrue.

The fact is the U.S. uses the dollar as a foreign policy weapon. End of story.

Not only that, debt monetization by the Federal Reserve makes American interventionist wars possible. U.S. wars since 2001 have cost each American taxpayer $23,000. if they had actually had to write a $1352.94 check to the Pentagon every year for the last 17 years, the foreign wars would have ended long ago. Thanks to the Fed, they don’t have to.

This economics of war and intervention undermine the U.S. economy and makes it vulnerable. The U.S. government has already run up more than $22 trillion in debt and counting. There is a limit to the amount of debt it can take on, and the central bank’s ability to effectively print money. At some point, the economic house of cards will collapse.

You may think the intervention and aggressive U.S. foreign policy is necessary. Regardless, you need to count the cost. But the government doesn’t even want you to know a cost exists.

US Propaganda Front, POLYGRAPH, Denies the Undeniable American Govt. Abuse of SWIFT Money System

[SEE: Obama Pushing Economic “Nuclear Option,” Extorting EU Partners To Cut Russia from SWIFT Program ; Anti-Russian Economic Warfare—Cutting Russia Off from SWIFT Is An Act of War ; EU Parliament Pulls a SWIFT One, Allows Probes By US ]

[Rattling Cages in the Propaganda War]


CANADA -- A man using a mobile phone passes the logo of global secure financial messaging services cooperative SWIFT at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, October 19, 2017
CANADA — A man using a mobile phone passes the logo of global secure financial messaging services cooperative SWIFT at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, October 19, 2017
RT

RT

Russian state-owned media outlet

“US is using SWIFT as a kind of ‘billy club’ in its foreign policy, expert tells RT”

MISLEADING

SWIFT is not an American organization.

On July 2, the Russian state-owned media outlet RT published an article in which an expert claimed the U.S. was using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) as a foreign policy “billy club.”

Polygraph.info reached out to the person cited in the RT article, Mike Maharrey of an organization called the Tenth Amendment Center, to verify if he’d been accurately quoted by RT and for clarification about a Russian “alternative” to SWIFT. While he declined to respond directly, Maharrey wrote a full response on the Tenth Amendment Center website. The response makes a number of claims beyond the scope of this fact check, but also refers to a number of points which will be brought up below.

For example, Maharrey writes: “It may be technically accurate to say the U.S. government does not ‘control’ SWIFT. But the U.S. clearly applies political pressure on the institution and that pressure yields results.”

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications or SWIFT was founded in 1973 by 239 banks in 15 different countries. The system provides a standardized, secure and reliable platform for interbank communication, replacing the old manual-input Telex system, which was prone to human error. SWIFT first went into operation in 1977, and the first U.S.-based SWIFT operation center opened in 1979. The organization’s headquarters is in Belgium.

Controversy about the ways SWIFT handled client’s personal information erupted in 2006 when it was revealed that SWIFT had been sharing data with U.S. authorities after the September 11 terrorist attacks, allegedly to help track the finances of suspected terror groups. The Washington Post quoted then-Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt as saying: “SWIFT finds itself in a conflicting position between American and European law.”

In 2009, an interim agreement on data sharing was negotiated between the U.S., SWIFT and some European Union member governments, but the European Parliament blocked it in early 2010, citing insufficient privacy protections. In February 2012, SWIFT responded to U.S. and international pressure and agreed to cut off Iranian banks from the system as part of sanctions against that country. This was the first time SWIFT denied a country access to the system. Access was restored to Iran after it signed onto the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding its nuclear program. However, after the Trump administration reneged on the Iran nuclear deal, some Iranian banks were again cut off from the system.

In this Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, photo, a shopkeeper arranges items inside the window display at the Kourosh shopping mall, in Tehran, Iran. The economy faces multiple struggles as the country marked the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
In this Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, photo, a shopkeeper arranges items inside the window display at the Kourosh shopping mall, in Tehran, Iran. The economy faces multiple struggles as the country marked the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

The consequences of losing access to SWIFT’s services can be dire: a country that is cut off is unable to pay for imports or receive payment for exports. Therefore, sanctions that curtail access to SWIFT are taken very seriously.

While the U.S. has the ability to pressure SWIFT thanks to its position in the global economy, it could be limited by potential costs that would be felt by U.S. businesses and those of U.S. allies. An Atlantic Council opinion piece warns the U.S. Congress to “be wary of taking unilateral steps to target SWIFT in future legislation,” adding the practice risks hampering the flow of financial data, “slowing global trade and transactions.” Moreover, the U.S. does not directly control SWIFT.

“SWIFT is owned and controlled by its shareholders – you’ll be aware that SWIFT is headquartered and incorporated in Belgium but its international governance and oversight reinforces the neutral, global character of its cooperative structure,” a SWIFT representative told Polygraph.info. “As a critical service provider, SWIFT is also overseen by the G10 central banks (since 1998) and with the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) acting as the lead overseer.”

It should also be noted that in 2014, it was the U.K., not the U.S., which proposed cutting Russia off from SWIFT for Russian military intervention in Ukraine. SWIFT refused to do so.

The RT piece quoted Mike Maharrey as saying Russia has developed its own alternative to SWIFT, which “has become very popular within the country.” The system he referred to is the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, whose development began after 2014. Since then, several hundred Russian companies have begun using the service, although experts say it will have limited appeal outside of Russia and therefore cannot be considered a true alternative to SWIFT.

Similarly, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom have created the “Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges” (INSTEX), which is intended to allow for the sale of food, medicine, and medical equipment to Iran. Rather than promoting the system as an alternative to SWIFT, however, it has been called a “special purpose vehicle” originally intended to dissuade Iran from continuing its nuclear program in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement.

Backing the Bad Guys–America Is Helping To Sabotage the ‘New’ Arab Spring

Backing the Bad Guys: America Is Helping To Sabotage the ‘New’ Arab Spring

Months back, when protests rocked Algeria and Sudan, toppling two autocratic strongmen, observers almost immediately dubbed it a “New Arab Spring.” This, of course, was a reference to the popular demonstrations that rocked the Arab World in 2011, ranging from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya and Syria, Bahrain to Yemen. The results of Spring 1.0 were ultimately disappointing – Egypt’s elected president was ousted in a military coup, Libya remains in a state of near civil war, Syria’s Assad emerged victorious over the rebels, Yemen is a war-ravaged humanitarian disaster area, and the Saudi Army invaded and quashed unrest in nearby Bahrain. Only in Tunisia was there a semblance of (fragile) success and relatively limited violence.

Perhaps, then, it should come as little surprise that matters are shaking out in a similarly disappointing fashion in Algeria, and, especially, Sudan. Military juntas (they call themselves “transitional” governments) hold power in both states and, in the case of Sudan, soldiers and militiamen have taken to slaughtering their own people. It seems there shall be no Jeffersonian Democracies in North Africa any time soon. Pessimism aside, it’s still a tragic and rather disturbing state of affairs. Nevertheless, I’m no proponent of U.S. intervention – how’d that work out in Syria and Libya? – in these complex affairs in distant lands. Indeed, I’ve previously asserted that Uncle Sam ought to “keep his hands off” the New Arab Spring this time around.

Solutions, such as they are, must be Algerian and Sudanese solutions. Recent regional history firmly demonstrates that foreign meddling tends only to stoke already chaotic fires and make matters far worse. Here’s the problem: the US may not be directly engaged, but, rather than staying out completely, continues to back Arab autocracies – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE – that are actively destroying any hope for democracy in Sudan. It’s unconscionable. And, coming from a country that’s a self-proclaimed “city on a hill” and “beacon of democracy,” its also embarrassingly hypocritical.

What’s unfolding in Sudan, and America’s tacit role in these events, is far worse than it seems, and nearly ignored in US mainstream media. Want to get actual news on North Africa? Better tune into the BBC or Al Jazeera, because you’ll get minimal coverage and zero context from CNN. Here’s the rub: a mass uprising in April toppled the thirty year incumbent, indicted war criminal President Omar al-Bashir. Not a bad turn of events. Problem is the military – in tenuous alliance with government supported militias – took power and failed to hold democratic elections or transition to civilian rule. When the brave protesters refused to go home, a paramilitary group calling itself the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began slaughtering peaceful demonstrators, gunning down at least 100 on June 3rd alone.

Since then matters have turned from bad to gruesome. The RSF, which, incidentally, grew out of the infamous Janjaweed militia responsible for the genocide in Darfur a decade ago, has gone on a murderous rampage in the capital, Khartoum. Protesters have been thrown off bridges, shops looted, men and women raped. Just when it seemed matters could hardly get worse, well, that’s when America’s best buddies in the region stepped in. That’s right, our chums the Egyptians, Emiratis, and Saudis – all dictatorships themselves – actively back the Sudanese junta. They’ve offered a combined $3 billion in cash to the military regime. The Saudis go one step further, loading the notorious genocidal militiaman (and #2 leader in the junta) Hamdan Dagalo up with bundles of money and guns with which to slaughter the innocent.

So what, you might ask, does the US, does President Trump, have to say about all this? Crickets, that’s what. Washington has released paltry platitudes at best and done absolutely nothing to restrain – pay attention now – its brutally dictatorial “friends” from empowering a genocidal maniac and military junta whose foot soldiers toss peaceful activists screaming from bridges to their deaths. Trump has nothing but praise for the Egyptians and Saudis. He proudly pronounced that Egypt’s strongman, Abel Fattah al-Sisi is “doing a great job.” His son-in-law, Jared Kushner – nepotism incarnate – carries on a bromance with his literal pen pal, Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin-Salman (MBS). Trump even declared a national emergency so as to defy Congress and push through a hasty $8 billion arms deal to the Saudis. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that some of those guns and bombs are going to make their way into the clutches of the murderous RSF. That puts Sudanese civilian blood on Americans’ collective hands.

It gets just a bit worse. Why, one might ask, does MBS back the war-criminal-in-chief of Sudan? Well, beyond the crown prince’s general affinity for fellow Arab dictators, he’s especially fond of Dagalo. That’s because Dagalo’s militias reportedly supply thousands of mercenary Sudanese foot soldiers – including child soldiers – as cannon fodder for the Saudi terror campaign in Yemen. It is truly a twisted state of affairs when two states – Yemen and Sudan – that are already the world’s worst humanitarian disaster areas, are manipulated even further by the Saudi theocracy to add to the bloodshed and preclude any hope for democracy. And still we’re told the Saudis are our “friends.”

Let us review, then: the United States unconditionally backs a Saudi absolute monarchy that is terror bombing Yemeni civilians, and then trading guns to a genocidal Sudanese dictator in exchange for child soldiers that add to the fighting in Yemen. As such, any hope for democracy, or even basic human rights, dies in both locales. You can hardly make this up! One last thing, our friends the Saudis, well, they recently had a teenager on death row for a crime – simply protesting the government – that he allegedly committed when just ten years of age. What friends Uncle Sam makes these days; talk about running with a bad crowd.

Not that many Americans notice. Media silence, ample profits for the arms dealer corporations that own many congressmen, and public apathy about foreign affairs, combine to keep the despicable, twisted Saudi-Sudanese nexus off the American grid. Still, what we ignore, the global community – especially in the Mideast region – does not forget. The United States has widely come to be associated with imperialism and militarism. It’s certainly no friend of regional democracy. As such Washington acts as the terrorist recruiting sergeant’s best friend. This country of ours will one day reap the whirlwind for these sins. When it does, our government, and our people, will have no one to blame but themselves.

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.comHis work has appeared in the LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Truthdig, Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

Copyright 2019 Danny Sjursen

Wahhabism Confronted In Sri Lanka, Saudi Influence Curbed After Bombings

The Wahhabi Invasion Of Sri Lanka

KATTANKUDY, Sri Lanka (Reuters) – Sri Lanka is moving to curtail Saudi Arabian influence, after some politicians and Buddhist monks blamed the spread of the kingdom’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam for planting the seeds of militancy that culminated in deadly Easter bomb attacks.

On April 21, nine Sri Lankans blew themselves up in churches and luxury hotels, killing more than 250 people and shocking the country a decade after its civil war ended.

Sri Lanka has since arrested a Wahhabi scholar and is poised to take over a Saudi-funded school. The government also says it will monitor previously unchecked money flows from donors including prominent Saudi families to mosques on the Indian Ocean island.

“Nobody will be able to just make donations now,” said Muslim cabinet minister Kabir Hashim, who has urged Muslim communities to look at how radical ideas could have spread. He said the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs would oversee donations.

The outcry in Sri Lanka is the latest sign that Wahhabism, which critics deem a root cause of the jihadist threat, is under pressure internationally.

Jihadist organizations, including Islamic State – which claimed responsibility for the Easter bombings – follow an extreme interpretation of Islam’s Salafi branch, of which Wahhabism was the original strain.

Saudi Arabia rejects the idea that Wahhabism is problematic and defends its record by pointing to the detention of thousands of suspected militants. Riyadh in June sent back five Sri Lankans allegedly linked to the Easter attacks.

Saudi diplomats in Colombo have expressed “displeasure” over being targeted during a recent meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena, a Sri Lankan official told Reuters.

Sirisena’s office, as well as Saudi Arabia’s Colombo embassy and the kingdom’s communications office in Riyadh, did not respond to requests for comment on the backlash against Saudi influence.

MONKS’ INFLUENCE

That backlash has focused on one man in particular – Muhammad Hizbullah, a businessman and politician who was the governor of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province until he resigned in June following protests by hardline Buddhist monks.

The monks, who are influential on the island where 70 percent of the population are Buddhists, and some members of parliament say Hizbullah’s links to Riyadh contributed to the spread of militancy in his native Kattankudy, a Muslim-majority town.

Hizbullah’s family helped build Saudi-financed mosques and a Saudi-funded higher education institute, Batticaloa Campus, which has not opened yet, in the Eastern Province.

The mosque and school projects were led by the Hira Foundation, a non-profit owned by Hizbullah and his son Hiras.

Its financial statements show income of some $31,000 between 2014 and 2018, though Hizbullah told parliament Hira had received $2 million from foreign donors. He did not respond to a request from Reuters for further financial details.

In an interview with Reuters at his home in the capital, Colombo, Hizbullah, 56, said most funds come from the Juffalis, a leading Saudi merchant family. Reuters also found two wires from other Saudis but was not able to trace them. Hizbullah said they were pooled contributions from smaller donors.

The Sheikh Ali Abdullah Al Juffali Foundation Charity wired some $24.5 million (19.5 million pounds) to Batticaloa Campus between 2016 and 2017, bank statements and loan agreements seen by Reuters show.

Hizbullah warned the experience of the Juffalis, who he said have received hate mail, was spooking Saudi investors. He did not identify any investors.

Ongoing investigations have not shown that any Saudi money flowed to the plotters. And critics attribute moves against Saudi influence to burgeoning Islamophobia, including mob attacks on Muslim properties in May.

“Not a single Saudi institution, charity or individual gave even one rupee to terrorists,” Hizbullah said.

The charity did not respond to calls or messages seeking comment, and Reuters was unable to find alternative contact details for the Juffalis. The charity’s website lists the founders as Ali al-Juffali, a businessman and former member of the kingdom’s consultative assembly who died in 2015, and his four sons. The charity says its objectives include supporting orphans and activities that promote religious tolerance.

The Juffalis, who promised a total of $100 million to Batticaloa Campus, have halted loans over the school’s uncertain future, Hizbullah said. Construction of the sprawling campus, designed in Islamic architectural style, has been paused, he added.

Hira also connects mosques with donors.

The modest Siharam Mosque, for example, was rebuilt in 2015 thanks to some $56,000 from the Juffalis, according to a mosque plaque and its ex-president M.Y. Adam, who said Hira received a 10% commission. Hizbullah did not respond to questions about mosque funding.

SCAPEGOAT?

In the Reuters interview, Hizbullah also denied allegations made by some monks that he had links to the attacks, and no evidence has surfaced to support that claim.

His critics, however, point to a 2015 photograph that shows Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Zahran, who authorities say led the April suicide bombings and blew himself up at a Colombo hotel, grinning under his beard as he shakes Hizbullah’s hand.

Hizbullah said he was seeking support from Zahran, also a Kattankudy native, for a parliamentary election. Back then, Hizbullah stressed, Zahran was just a charismatic preacher who could deliver some 2,000 votes in the devout town of roughly 50,000.

His supporters – and even some opponents – say Hizbullah is a scapegoat. Ameer Ali Shihabdeen, an Eastern Province member of parliament from a rival party, said Hizbullah was being targeted despite a lack of evidence linking him to the attacks.

Wahhabism spread to Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province three decades ago, when the area was convulsed by conflict between mostly Hindu Tamil separatists and the Buddhist-dominated government, according to local religious leaders and politicians.

Muslim scholars received scholarships to study in Saudi Arabia, while impoverished farmers escaped clashes by becoming drivers or maids in the Middle East – often returning home with stricter Islamic practices, the sources said.

Saudi-funded mosques mushroomed. Women ditched their saris for all-enveloping black abayas. Some Sri Lankan Sufis, who follow a mystical form of Islam that Wahhabis consider heretical, said they began to be persecuted.

Hizbullah’s political career, which included stints in parliament, blossomed during this time. In Kattankudy, his name adorns schools, a public hall and roads.

Batticaloa Campus, the college funded by the Juffalis, initially planned to teach sharia, which some critics say limits women’s rights. Hizbullah said sharia only meant the academic subject of Islamic Studies, and that the discipline had been dropped from curriculum plans.

Students would pay half standard tuition fees, which Hizbullah said was partly why this long-neglected area welcomes Arab donors’ deep pockets.

A parliamentary committee last month called for authorities to take over Batticaloa Campus and compensate investors, citing incomplete documentation, possible violations of foreign exchange rules, and national security concerns.

No decision has been announced yet, but a presidential spokesman told Reuters that Sirisena, a Hizbullah ally who is on the back foot ahead of presidential elections this year, also favours a takeover.

WAHHABI SCHOLAR BEHIND BARS

Some Kattankudy Sufis link the advent of Wahhabism to the 1990 opening of the Saudi-financed Center for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, school, and library. Reuters was unable to trace Saudi donors, who had names common in the Middle East, thanked on a plaque at the centre.

The centre “brainwashed” youth and distributed flyers denouncing Sufism, according to H. M. Ameer, a community spokesman who said his house was destroyed during anti-Sufi unrest in 2004. Persecution intensified with the rise of Zahran, the suspected Easter bombings ringleader, whose followers attacked Sufis with swords in 2017, Ameer added.

Representatives of the centre did not respond to requests for comment about the Sufis’ allegations. They previously told Reuters the centre practiced “moderate Islam”.

The centre’s Riyadh-educated founder, Mohamed Aliyar, was arrested in May for allegedly funding Zahran.

The charge sheet, reviewed by Reuters, details his bank accounts but does not provide evidence of wrongdoing. A police spokesman did not respond to requests for details.

Aliyar’s lawyer Abdul Uwais said he was a victim of paranoia over Wahhabism.

Two sources from Kattankudy’s Muslim leadership said Zahran voraciously read Wahhabi texts from Aliyar’s centre, but that the men were not known to be close.

Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Omar Rajarathnam; Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin in Riyadh, and Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Martin Howell and Alex Richardson

It’s Time to Declare Your Independence from Tyranny, America

It’s Time to Declare Your Independence from Tyranny, America

John Whitehead’s Commentary

John Whitehead

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”—Thomas Paine, December 1776

It’s time to declare your independence from tyranny, America.

For too long now, we have suffered the injustices of a government that has no regard for our rights or our humanity.

Too easily pacified and placated by the pomp and pageantry of manufactured spectacles (fireworks on the Fourth of July, military parades, ritualized elections, etc.) that are a poor substitute for a representative government that respects the rights of its people, the American people have opted, time and again, to overlook the government’s excesses, abuses and power grabs that fly in the face of every principle for which America’s founders risked their lives.

We have done this to ourselves.

Indeed, it is painfully fitting that mere days before the nation prepared to celebrate its freedoms on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the City Council for Charlottesville, Virginia—the home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration—voted to do away with a holiday to honor Jefferson’s birthday, because Jefferson, like many of his contemporaries, owned slaves. City councilors have opted instead to celebrate “Liberation and Freedom Day” in honor of slaves who were emancipated after the Civil War.

This is what we have been reduced to: bureaucrats dithering over meaningless trivialities while the government goosesteps all over our freedoms.

Too often, we pay lip service to those freedoms, yet they did not come about by happenstance. They were hard won through sheer determination, suffering and sacrifice by thousands of patriotic Americans who not only believed in the cause of freedom but also had the intestinal fortitude to act on that belief. The success of the American revolution owes much to these men and women.

In standing up to the British Empire and speaking out against an oppressive regime, they exemplified courage in the face of what seemed like an overwhelming foe.

Indeed, imagine living in a country where armed soldiers crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials.

Imagine that in this very same country, you’re watched all the time, and if you look even a little bit suspicious, the police stop and frisk you or pull you over to search you on the off chance you’re doing something illegal.

Keep in mind that if you have a firearm of any kind (or anything that resembled a firearm) while in this country, it may get you arrested and, in some circumstances, shot by police.

If you’re thinking this sounds like America today, you wouldn’t be far wrong.

However, the scenario described above took place more than 200 years ago, when American colonists suffered under Great Britain’s version of an early police state. It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened, and arrested that they finally revolted against the tyrant’s fetters.

No document better states their grievances than the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

A document seething with outrage over a government which had betrayed its citizens, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, by 56 men who laid everything on the line, pledged it all—“our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”—because they believed in a radical idea: that all people are created to be free.

Labeled traitors, these men were charged with treason, a crime punishable by death. For some, their acts of rebellion would cost them their homes and their fortunes. For others, it would be the ultimate price—their lives.

Yet even knowing the heavy price they might have to pay, these men dared to speak up when silence could not be tolerated. Even after they had won their independence from Great Britain, these new Americans worked to ensure that the rights they had risked their lives to secure would remain secure for future generations.

The result: our Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

Imagine the shock and outrage these 56 men would feel were they to discover that 243 years later, the government they had risked their lives to create has been transformed into a militaristic police state in which exercising one’s freedoms—at a minimum, merely questioning a government agent—is often viewed as a flagrant act of defiance.

In fact, had the Declaration of Independence been written today, it would have rendered its signers extremists or terrorists, resulting in them being placed on a government watch list, targeted for surveillance of their activities and correspondence, and potentially arrested, held indefinitely, stripped of their rights and labeled enemy combatants.

The danger is real.

We could certainly use some of that revolutionary outrage today.

Certainly, we would do well to reclaim the revolutionary spirit of our ancestors and remember what drove them to such drastic measures in the first place.

Then again, perhaps what we need to do is declare our independence from the tyranny of the American police state.

It’s not a radical idea.

It has been done before.

The Declaration of Independence speaks volumes about the abuses suffered by early Americans at the hands of the British police state.

Read the Declaration of Independence again, and ask yourself if the list of complaints tallied by Jefferson don’t bear a startling resemblance to the abuses “we the people” are suffering at the hands of the American police state.

If you find the purple prose used by the Founders hard to decipher, here’s my translation of what the Declaration of Independence would look and sound like if it were written in the modern vernacular:

There comes a time when a populace must stand united and say “enough is enough” to the government’s abuses, even if it means getting rid of the political parties in power.

Believing that “we the people” have a natural and divine right to direct our own lives, here are truths about the power of the people and how we arrived at the decision to sever our ties to the government:

All people are created equal.

All people possess certain innate rights that no government or agency or individual can take away from them. Among these are the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The government’s job is to protect the people’s innate rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The government’s power comes from the will of the people.

Whenever any government abuses its power, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government and replace it with a new government that will respect and protect the rights of the people.

It is not wise to get rid of a government for minor transgressions. In fact, as history has shown, people resist change and are inclined to suffer all manner of abuses to which they have become accustomed.

However, when the people have been subjected to repeated abuses and power grabs, carried out with the purpose of establishing a tyrannical government, people have a right and duty to do away with that tyrannical Government and to replace it with a new government that will protect and preserve their innate rights for their future wellbeing.

This is exactly the state of affairs we are under suffering under right now, which is why it is necessary that we change this imperial system of government.

The history of the present Imperial Government is a history of repeated abuses and power grabs, carried out with the intention of establishing absolute Tyranny over the country.

To prove this, consider the following:

The government has, through its own negligence and arrogance, refused to adopt urgent and necessary laws for the good of the people.

The government has threatened to hold up critical laws unless the people agree to relinquish their right to be fully represented in the Legislature.

In order to expand its power and bring about compliance with its dictates, the government has made it nearly impossible for the people to make their views and needs heard by their representatives.

The government has repeatedly suppressed protests arising in response to its actions.

The government has obstructed justice by refusing to appoint judges who respect the Constitution and has instead made the Courts march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

The government has allowed its agents to harass the people, steal from them, jail them and even execute them.

The government has directed militarized government agents—a.k.a., a standing army—to police domestic affairs in peacetime.

The government has turned the country into a militarized police state.

The government has conspired to undermine the rule of law and the constitution in order to expand its own powers.

The government has allowed its militarized police to invade our homes and inflict violence on homeowners.

The government has failed to hold its agents accountable for wrongdoing and murder under the guise of “qualified immunity.”

The government has jeopardized our international trade agreements.

The government has overtaxed us without our permission.

The government has denied us due process and the right to a fair trial.

The government has engaged in extraordinary rendition.

The government has continued to expand its military empire in collusion with its corporate partners-in-crime and occupy foreign nations.

The government has eroded fundamental legal protections and destabilized the structure of government.

The government has not only declared its federal powers superior to those of the states but has also asserted its sovereign power over the rights of “we the people.”

The government has ceased to protect the people and instead waged domestic war against the people.

The government has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, and destroyed the lives of the people.

The government has employed private contractors and mercenaries to carry out acts of death, desolation and tyranny, totally unworthy of a civilized nation.

The government through its political propaganda has pitted its citizens against each other.

The government has stirred up civil unrest and laid the groundwork for martial law.

Repeatedly, we have asked the government to cease its abuses. Each time, the government has responded with more abuse.

An Imperial Ruler who acts like a tyrant is not fit to govern a free people.

We have repeatedly sounded the alarm to our fellow citizens about the government’s abuses. We have warned them about the government’s power grabs. We have appealed to their sense of justice. We have reminded them of our common bonds.

They have rejected our plea for justice and brotherhood. They are equally at fault for the injustices being carried out by the government.

Thus, for the reasons mentioned above, we the people of the united States of America declare ourselves free from the chains of an abusive government. Relying on God’s protection, we pledge to stand by this Declaration of Independence with our lives, our fortunes and our honor.

That was 243 years ago.

In the years since early Americans first declared and eventually won their independence from Great Britain, we—the descendants of those revolutionary patriots—have through our inaction and complacency somehow managed to work ourselves right back under the tyrant’s thumb.

Only this time, the tyrant is one of our own making: the American Police State.

The abuses meted out by an imperial government and endured by the American people have not ended. They have merely evolved.

“We the people” are still being robbed blind by a government of thieves.

We are still being taken advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots and monsters.

We are still being locked up by a government of greedy jailers.

We are still being spied on by a government of Peeping Toms.

We are still being ravaged by a government of ruffians, rapists and killers.

We are still being forced to surrender our freedoms—and those of our children—to a government of extortionists, money launderers and corporate pirates.

And we are still being held at gunpoint by a government of soldiers: a standing army in the form of a militarized police.

Given the fact that we are a relatively young nation, it hasn’t taken very long for an authoritarian regime to creep into power.

Unfortunately, the bipartisan coup that laid siege to our nation did not happen overnight.

It snuck in under our radar, hiding behind the guise of national security, the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on immigration, political correctness, hate crimes and a host of other official-sounding programs aimed at expanding the government’s power at the expense of individual freedoms.

The building blocks for the bleak future we’re just now getting a foretaste of—police shootings of unarmed citizens, profit-driven prisons, weapons of compliance, a wall-to-wall surveillance state, pre-crime programs, a suspect society, school-to-prison pipelines, militarized police, overcriminalization, SWAT team raids, endless wars, etc.—were put in place by government officials we trusted to look out for our best interests and by American citizens who failed to heed James Madison’s warning to “take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.”

In so doing, we compromised our principles, negotiated away our rights, and allowed the rule of law to be rendered irrelevant.

There is no knowing how long it will take to undo the damage wrought by government corruption, corporate greed, militarization, and a nation of apathetic, gullible sheep.

The problems we are facing will not be fixed overnight: that is the grim reality with which we must contend.

Frankly, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we may see no relief from the police state in my lifetime or for several generations to come.

That does not mean we should give up or give in or tune out.

Remember, there is always a price to be paid for remaining silent in the face of injustice.

That price is tyranny.

As Edmund Burke, the eighteenth-century British statesman and author who supported the American colonists warned, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

WC: 2379

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

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John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

Syrian Ally Iran To Construct Railroad Line From Iran, To Iraq, To Latakia, Syria

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:00 A.M.) – Iran is preparing to begin construction on a large railway that links their capital city of Tehran to the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, the Director of Syrian Railways Najib Al-Fares said on Wednesday.

According to Fares, the new railway will promote regional trade between Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

The new project is expected to be funded by the Iranian government, with support from both Syria and Iraq.

The Director of the Iraqi Railway Company, Jawad Kazim, said that Iraq had previously signed contracts to implement projects with Iranian companies, but most were delayed.

For Syria, the new railway system is expected to help ease their economic issues that have derived from the U.S.-led sanctions on the Levantine nation.

While this should be beneficial for all parties, this new railway system will face heavy criticism from the U.S. and its allies, most notably Israel.

Israel has paid close attention to the Iranian developments in Syria and has often acted when they suspect weapons are being transported across borders.

The U.S. likely opposes the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) control over the border city of Albukamal in Deir Ezzor because it allows Iran to build a land bridge along the international highway.

Soros and Koch Create Bipartisan Destabilization Effort, Under Pretext of Ending “Forever War”

In an astonishing turn, George Soros and Charles Koch team up to end US ‘forever war’ policy

George Soros (left) and Charles Koch are teaming up on the effort.
George Soros (left) and Charles Koch are teaming up on the effort.(ASSOCIATED PRESS/FILE PHOTOS)

BESIDES BEING BILLIONAIRES and spending much of their fortunes to promote pet causes, the leftist financier George Soros and the right-wing Koch brothers have little in common. They could be seen as polar opposites. Soros is an old-fashioned New Deal liberal. The Koch brothers are fire-breathing right-wingers who dream of cutting taxes and dismantling government. Now they have found something to agree on: the United States must end its “forever war” and adopt an entirely new foreign policy.

In one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history, Soros and Charles Koch, the more active of the two brothers, are joining to finance a new foreign-policy think tank in Washington. It will promote an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions, and bombing. This is a radical notion in Washington, where every major think tank promotes some variant of neocon militarism or liberal interventionism. Soros and Koch are uniting to revive the fading vision of a peaceable United States. The street cred they bring from both ends of the political spectrum — along with the money they are providing — will make this new think tank an off-pitch voice for statesmanship amid a Washington chorus that promotes brinksmanship.

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“This is big,” said Trita Parsi, former president of the National Iranian American Council and a co-founder of the new think tank. “It shows how important ending endless war is if they’re willing to put aside their differences and get together on this project. We are going to challenge the basis of American foreign policy in a way that has not been done in at least the last quarter-century.”

Since peaceful foreign policy was a founding principle of the United States, it’s appropriate that the name of this think tank harken back to history. It will be called the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, an homage to John Quincy Adams, who in a seminal speech on Independence Day in 1821 declared that the United States “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” The Quincy Institute will promote a foreign policy based on that live-and-let-live principle.

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The institute plans to open its doors in September and hold an official inauguration later in the autumn. Its founding donors — Soros’s Open Society Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation — have each contributed half a million dollars to fund its takeoff. A handful of individual donors have joined to add another $800,000. By next year the institute hopes to have a $3.5 million budget and a staff of policy experts who will churn out material for use in Congress and in public debates. Hiring is underway. Among Parsi’s co-founders are several well-known critics of American foreign policy, including Suzanne DiMaggio, who has spent decades promoting negotiated alternatives to conflict with China, Iran, and North Korea; the historian and essayist Stephen Wertheim; and the anti-militarist author and retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich.

“The Quincy Institute will invite both progressives and anti-interventionist conservatives to consider a new, less militarized approach to policy,” Bacevich said, when asked why he signed up. “We oppose endless, counterproductive war. We want to restore the pursuit of peace to the nation’s foreign policy agenda.”

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In concrete terms, this means the Quincy Institute will likely advocate a withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and Syria; a return to the nuclear deal with Iran; less confrontational approaches to Russia and China; an end to regime-change campaigns against Venezuela and Cuba; and sharp reductions in the defense budget.

It aims to issue four reports before the end of 2019: two offering alternative approaches to the Middle East and East Asia, one on “ending endless war,” and one called “democratizing foreign policy.” Its statement of principles asserts that the United States “should engage with the world, and the essence of engagement is peaceful cooperation among peoples. For this reason, the United States must cherish peace and pursue it through the vigorous practice of diplomacy . . . The use of armed force does not represent American engagement in the world. Force ends human life, destroying engagement irreparably. Any resort to force should occur only as a last resort and should remain infrequent. The military exists to defend the people and territory of the United States, not to act as a global police force.”

The depth of this heresy can only be appreciated by recognizing the meretricious power that nourishes Washington’s think-tank ecosystem. These “talk shops” employ experts who pop up to advise politicians, journalists, Congressional staff members, and the public. They write opinion columns and bloviate on news channels. In foreign policy, all major Washington think tanks promote interventionist dogma: the United States faces threats everywhere, it must therefore be present everywhere, and “present” includes maintaining more than 800 foreign military bases and spending trillions of dollars on endless confrontations with foreign countries. That, with some variation, is the ethos that moves conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation as well as liberal ones like the Center for American Progress and the Brookings Institution. Just as pernicious as their relentless support of the global-hegemony project is the corruption that lies behind it. Many Washington think tanks are supported by industries and foreign powers eager to inflate threats in order shape American law, policy, and public opinion. Their “experts” are often paid shills who cloak themselves in institutional respectability so they can masquerade as independent analysts.

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When foreign crises like the war in Yemen break out, critics of US policy emerge and are given space to air their views. These protests, however, are episodic. Little continuity ties one burst of outrage to the next. The Quincy Institute aims to offer a corps of experts in Washington who will promote a unified foreign-policy paradigm based on statecraft and cooperation. Its founders plan to become involved in grass-roots campaigns, especially in minority communities. They hope their specialists will eventually move on to populate Congressional staffs and the executive branch — as alumni of pro-intervention think tanks have been doing for decades.

“Some interesting currents are emerging in American politics and we want to capture this moment, but we’re in it for the long haul,” said Parsi. “We’ll be a failure if in 10 years we’re still criticizing. In 10 years, we want to be driving the bus.”

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Correction: An earlier version of this column said the Koch brothers are financing the Quincy Institute. Only one of the brothers, Charles, is backing the think tank.


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

Saudi “Lady Liberty” and the Perverse Royal Image of America On Display In Jeddah

Statue of Liberty installed at Jeddah's Al Hamra Corniche in Saudi Arabia

SOURCE

SAUDI DICTATORSHIP ERECTING STATUE OF LIBERTY IS PERFECT SYMBOL OF TRUMP-MBS BROMANCE

You couldn’t think of many countries more incongruous with the word “freedom” than Saudi Arabia, but there she is—Lady Liberty herself, lifting her torch high above the kingdom’s port city of Jeddah. Only in the Trump era could such a potent symbol of freedom as the Statue of Liberty be hijacked by a dictatorship like Saudi Arabia.

For the millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island as they entered America over 100 years ago, the torch that Lady Liberty held up was a beacon of hope.

How then has she come to be used at a month-long festival in Jeddah, a port city in a country which could not be more undeserving of “The Lady in the Harbor”?

For, if you live in Saudi Arabia you have no hope if you are a woman, gay, in favor of free speech or democratic rule.

That the Statue of Liberty can be associated with such a place is an insult to those who cherish everything it represents: America the beacon of the world, America the melting pot of nations, America the land of the free.

But the fact that the Saudis feel emboldened enough to use her to claim some sort of solidarity with America is all down to Donald Trump.

When the rest of world recoiled in horror at the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the imprisonment of women rights activists, the execution of people for being gay or the bombing of school buses in Yemen, he was not swayed.

Despite the most heinous of crimes, Saudi Arabia was still a “great ally” and a great supporter of America, he would say.

As long as lucrative arms deals are providing jobs back home, the bromance will continue with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of whom a UN report last month said there was ‘credible evidence’ he was involved in the killing of the Washington Post journalist, Khashoggi.

It’s not surprising that the Saudis carry on regardless.

However, if you accept that the Statue of Liberty represents the very best of America and her place in the world, then by extension you have to also accept that Donald Trump is an “un-American” President.

Lady Liberty and he just do not share the same values.

Thankfully, most American senators and congressmen still know what being a true American means, as they continue to pass laws saying the US should punish those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder and end its support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

According to the UN, by November 2018 nearly 7000 civilians had been killed there and 10,768 injured, most by Saudi Arabia-led air strikes, with 10 million more on the brink of famine.

But on Yemen, Trump exercised his veto and on Khashoggi he just chose to ignore the Magnitsky Act.

On migrants and the border wall, he tried to block a $4.5billion aid bill which included new standards for migrants in custody following reports that children were being kept in terrible conditions.

The problem is not that there aren’t any “American” politicians on Capitol Hill, it’s that there aren’t enough of them to override an ‘un-American’ presidential veto.

So, for now, we’re treated to the grotesque spectacle of the Statue of Liberty being wheeled out on the Jeddah Corniche as part of some tacky display of Americana, along with a Hollywood sign, a Welcome to Vegas sticker, an Uncle Sam hat and an Elvis Presley statue—all set to the Bruno Mars song, Uptown Funk.

The truth is that if Liberty were to suddenly get down off her pedestal and start reading the poem inscribed on it she would be arrested and thrown behind bars before she could say: “I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

The whole thing gets even more perverse when you consider that in New York the “Mother of Exiles” was welcoming poor and downtrodden immigrants, and today Saudi Arabia uses the hated kefala system of sponsored labor, described as modern-day slavery.

Take Nepalese workers, for example. In 2016 the country was responsible for the most Nepalese labor deaths from natural causes in the world, including 60% of traffic accidents, according to the International Labor Organisation.

Last year, Saudi Arabia cited a United Nations job application as evidence against the women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, still behind bars for campaigning for women’s right to drive and an end to the male guardianship system.

Loujain also allegedly “confessed” to being in contact with human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Since when did applying for a job at the UN and being in touch with human rights groups amount to a criminal offence?

Anthony Harwood is a former foreign editor of the Daily Mail and US Editor of the Daily Mirror

The US Has Blocked UN Resolution Naming Haftar Forces For War Crime of Bombing Refugee Center

Haftar forces admit to Libya migrant camp airstrike

Pro-Haftar forces claim Tripoli-based GNA “brought migrants to what was previously military brigade base, arms depot”

US prevents Security Council resolution condemning airstrike on migrants center in Libya

L that, if passed, would have condemned the airstrike and called for a ceasefire and a return to the political process, diplomatic sources reported.

US banks on Libya strongman Haftar, experts say

AFP  

Libyan Strongman Khalifa Haftar 

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar salutes during a military parade in Benghazi on May 7, 2018. PHOTO | ADDULLAH DOMA | AFP 

In Summary

  • United States blocked the UN Security Council from adopting a unanimous statement condemning an airstrike on a detention centre that killed dozens of migrants.
  • The US representatives at the UN gave no explanation for the Trump administration’s decision not to condemn the outrage.
  • After Haftar began to wage war on the country’s west, US President Donald Trump called him to praise his “significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” and “shared vision”.
Dubai,

Washington’s refusal to condemn an airstrike on a detention centre that killed dozens of migrants blamed on Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar by his rivals shows tacit US support, experts say.

The decision could prove damaging for the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj — as well as for the UN’s influence and human rights in war-torn Libya.

Washington’s move “should not come as a surprise”, said James Dorsey, a researcher at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. “It is a sign of US policy changing towards Libya.”

Following more than two hours of deliberations on Wednesday, the United States blocked the UN Security Council from adopting a unanimous statement condemning the incident.

Bodies were strewn on the floor of a hangar in Tripoli’s Tajoura suburb, mixed with the blood-soaked clothes of migrants following the strike condemned by UN chief Antonio Guterres as “horrendous”. At least 44 people were killed and more than 100 injured.

TURN A BLIND EYE

The US representatives at the UN gave no explanation for the Trump administration’s decision not to condemn the outrage.

The British-drafted text did not lay the blame with either side of the bitter conflict that has pitted Haftar’s eastern power-base against forces aligned with the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

Instead it called for a ceasefire and a resumption of talks.

But Washington refused to give the final go-ahead for the text to be adopted, according to a European diplomatic source.

“This latest US stand is perfectly consistent with the policies of the past few years which have turned a blind eye to egregious human rights violations when committed by US allies,” said Karim Bitar, a senior fellow at the Paris-based IRIS think-tank.

“The Trump administration and its Gulf allies have fully embraced Haftar’s heavy-handed methods and authoritarian agenda.”

CONTACTS WITH HAFTAR

Mired in chaos since the 2011 toppling of Muammar Gadhafi, Libya is ruled by two rival factions — Sarraj’s GNA in the west, and Haftar’s in the east.

The UN has previously failed to agree a unified position after Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an assault on GNA-held Tripoli in April.

“The US have not withdrawn in any form or sense their recognition of — nor revoked their support to — the GNA, but de facto there has been contacts with Haftar at the highest level,” added Dorsey.

After Haftar began to wage war on the country’s west, US President Donald Trump called him to praise his “significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” and “shared vision”.

“Haftar fulfils two criteria in the eyes of Washington. One, he is projecting himself against the Islamists. Two, he is backed by the US’s two closest allies in the region, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia,” said Dorsey.

LOBBYING
Haftar has also received more subtle support from Egypt and France — while even Russia has unusually sided with Washington and tilted towards him even as the GNA won backing from Turkey and Qatar.

“The last two months have witnessed a massive lobbying offensive in Washington with Haftar being represented by his own public relations firm backed by the extensive lobby apparatus of the UAE,” said Andreas Krieg, a lecturer at King’s College London.

“It looks as if the joint Haftar-UAE lobbying of Trump over the past months has been successful in convincing the White House that Haftar’s LNA might be a partner to work with — despite growing evidence of war crimes committed.”

Haftar, 75, has sought to present himself as Libya’s saviour while his rivals accuse him of once again seeking to subject Libya to a military dictatorship.
The US, which previously granted Haftar political asylum, knows him well.

Bitar, the IRIS analyst, summed up Washington’s position by recounting the apocryphal comments of former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza.

“He may be a son of a bitch,” the 32nd president reputedly said. “But he’s our son of a bitch.”

Iran Calls For Reciprocity In Tanker War…Demanding the Seizure of British Tanker

TEHRAN – Secretary of the Expediency Council (EC) has said Iran should seize a British oil tanker if London doesn’t release the Iranian tanker which was illegally seized by its forces.

“The Islamic Revolution has never been an initiator of tension during its 40-year-old history, however, it has not hesitated to respond to bullies and thugs,” Mohsen Rezaee tweeted on Friday.

The former IRGC chief added, “If Britain doesn’t return the Iranian tanker, the duty of responsible [Iranian] bodies is to seize a British oil tanker in a retaliatory measure.”

The British Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday for trying to take oil to Syria allegedly in violation of EU sanctions, a dramatic step that could escalate tensions between Iran and the West.

Hours later, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Britain’s ambassador to Tehran, Rob Macaire, for the act.

“Following the illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar by British Royal Marines, the British envoy to Tehran has been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Thursday.

Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has said Gibraltar detained the supertanker Grace 1 after a request by the United States to Britain.

He added that Spain was looking into the seizure of the ship and how it may affect Spanish sovereignty as it appears to have happened in Spanish waters.

(updated 7/6) Iranian Tanker Seized At Gibraltar, While Offshore Syrian Pipeline Blown-Up At Baniyas Refinery

[The US is obviously behind both attacks upon Iranian Oil deliveries to Syria.  Iran can be expected to launch some form of reprisals (SEE: Spain Says Syria-Bound Tanker Was Seized Near Gibraltar on US Orders, Checks if Sovereignty Violated).]

This photo, published by the official Syrian news agency SANA, shows the damage to undersea pipelines off the coastal city of Banias, Syria, on June 23, 2019. © AP published by the official Syrian news agency SANA

Mysterious blasts off Syria’s coast disrupt Iran oil delivery

The sabotage operation was ‘qualitative and professional,’ the deputy head of the Syrian Company for Oil Transport says

Russian naval vessels taking part in a Russia Navy Day celebration in the Syrian port of Tartus, located 40 kilometres south of Baniyas where the alleged attack took place, on July 29, 2018. SANARussian naval vessels taking part in a Russia Navy Day celebration in the Syrian port of Tartus, located 40 kilometres south of Baniyas where the alleged attack took place, on July 29, 2018. SANAA mysterious attack on pipelines off Syria’s coast, which a Syrian official said was conducted with the help of a foreign state, disrupted an Iranian crude oil delivery.

On June 22, explosive devices damaged underwater pipelines used to deliver crude oil from tankers to the Baniyas refinery, in the western Syrian governorate of Tartus, causing an oil spill, the official Syrian news agency Sana reported.

The sabotage was “qualitative and professional”, the deputy head of the Syrian Company for Oil Transport told a local radio station, adding that a foreign state co-ordinated with the perpetrators to send a message to Damascus.

TankerTrackers.com, a US company that closely follows Iranian oil shipments to Syria, saw the Iranian-flagged Stark I oil tanker arriving off the Baniyas coast a day after blasts disabled the pipelines.

nw0407 baniyas-refinery
nw0407 baniyas-refinery

The vessel briefly turned on its transponder in the Suez Canal on June 19, but otherwise has been offline since May 12, when it was seen off Iran’s Larak Island, an export point for Iranian crude, TankerTrackers.com said.

The Stark I sailed into position to offload its crude through the pipelines to the Baniyas refinery by June 27, the website said.

A pipeline below the tanker appeared to be still damaged at the time.

The pro-Syrian government Al Watan newspaper reported that a tanker that arrived at Baniyas was unable to discharge its cargo because of the pipeline damage, leading the Baniyas refinery to cease operations on June 25 as repairs were under way.

TankerTrackers co-founder Samir Madani said that, in the short term, the sabotage of the pipelines does little to slow down Iranian deliveries, but might prompt Syria to increase coastal defence.

“It seems that someone was trying to send both Tehran and Damascus a message,” Mr Madani said. “If they can take out the pipelines, what’s next?”

The pipeline attack comes amid escalating tension between the US and Iran, with Washington accusing Tehran of being behind the May 12 sabotage of commercial vessels and June 13 attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, while Iran shot down a US drone on June 20.

The Stark I left Baniyas on Tuesday, TankerTrackers.com said, adding that “more tankers may likely arrive”.

Tartus hosts a Russian port about 40 kilometres south of Baniyas.

Meanwhile, Al Watan reported the following day that repairs had been completed on the pipelines and a million barrels of crude were unloaded from a tanker.

The arrival of another tanker is expected within a week and the Baniyas refinery was due to restart operations on Wednesday.

Iran restarted crude oil deliveries to Syria in May, in defiance of US sanctions, after a lull in shipments since the end of 2018.

In April, Al Watan blamed a severe fuel crisis racking the war-torn country on the lack of Iranian shipments, saying Syrian production could only cover 24 per cent of the war-torn country’s needs.

The Iranian shipments had stopped after Tehran froze a credit line to Damascus in October 2018.

Washington has moved to impede Syria’s ability to import oil, issuing advisories to shippers in November 2018 and March 2019 highlighting the “significant US sanctions risks for parties involved in petroleum shipments to Syria”.

In the past year, the US has also sanctioned a network of Russian and Iranian figures and two Lebanon companies for enabling Iranian oil shipments to Syria.

The Stark I and its registered owner, Atlantic Shipping and Transportation in Belize, were sanctioned by the US in November 2018 for their links to National Iranian Tanker Company.

The Saudi-UAE axis has destabilizing plans beyond the Gulf

The Saudi-UAE axis has destabilising plans beyond the Gulf

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are putting their bets on Trump’s re-election to realise their vision for regional hegemony.

by

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed receives Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Abu Dhabi on November 22, 2018 [File: Reuters]
Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Abu Dhabi on November 22, 2018 [File: Reuters]

As the situation in the Middle East continues to escalate, with Iran and the US-Saudi axis trading accusations over sabotaged vessels in the Gulf, Qataris quietly marked two years of living under siege.

Although the land, sea and air blockade the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed on Qatar in June 2017 has taken a backseat because of the Iranian crisis, the confrontation at its heart has by far not diminished.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi continue lobbying against Doha on international platforms and are showing no sign of easing their economic siege. This became apparent once again at the three summits the Saudi king hosted in Mecca last month, to which Qatar was invited.

During the proceedings, Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said a solution to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis would only be possible if Doha goes back to the “right path” – that is, if it heeds to the Saudi and Emirati regional agenda.

Despite having failed to subdue their neighbour thus far, both Abdu Dhabi and Riyadh seemingly believe that hostile measures can still yield the desired outcome. Their persistence with the blockade is part of their larger plan to establish regional hegemony in the long term. The success of their plan, however, is very much wedded to US President Donald Trump securing a second term.

Internal friction

Since June 2017, there have been several attempts to resolve the GCC crisis, with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah leading regional efforts, but no progress has been made to date.

Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly clear that various power centres within the blockading quartet are growing disaffected with the current situation.

Dubai, for example, appears to be deeply frustrated with the prolongation of the crisis and the policies of its oil-rich neighbour, Abu Dhabi. The emirate, which built its success story on a liberal and open business model, is increasingly forced to choose politics over business.

Up until now, Dubai – not Doha – has been the biggest loser in the crisis. Many international firms which were managing their Qatar businesses from regional offices in Dubai had to relocate to Doha due to the blockade restrictions. The emirate’s logistics and trade sectors also took a hit, as Qatari companies which used to import goods through the Jebel Ali port had to reroute the supply roots through the Port of Salalah in Oman.

Last year, Dubai’s stock exchange saw its worst collapse since the 2008 financial crisis and this year it may not fare any better, especially as renewed US sanctions on Iran have caused it lose billions of dollars.

In Saudi Arabia, there has been growing concern over the leverage Abu Dhabi and its de facto ruler Mohamed bin Zayed (MBZ) have over the kingdom’s decision-making. His influence over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has worried some quarters and so has the aggressive behaviour of the young heir to the throne. In the aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi‘s gruesome murder and the series of public reports linking the crime to the crown prince, Riyadh was forced to “clip his wings” and have King Salman take back a number of key portfolios.

In Bahrain, the GCC crisis has become one more factor in the game of thrones between the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and his uncle, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa who has occupied this position since 1971.

Last month, the prime minister phoned Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. This was the first direct high-level contact between an official from the Saudi-led bloc and Sheikh Tamim since September 2017. The initiative triggered a strong reaction from Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, prompting the Bahraini king to intervene and issue a statement reassuring his allies that his country is still committed to the “common position” on Qatar.

Just like the former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Bahraini prime minister is said to have opposed the blockade and the way it was imposed. Dissatisfied with his stance, MBZ reportedly sought to overthrow Khalifa in Bahrain and substitute him with one of the king’s young sons who is more in line with Abu Dhabi’s politics.

The Saudi-Emirati endgame

Despite the growing friction within the quartet, MBZ and MBS have managed to keep it united enough to continue pressuring Qatar. The blockade on their fellow GCC-member is a key part of their plan for regional hegemony.

So far it hasn’t been just Doha’s resilience that has thwarted their efforts to bring the GCC under their full control. It has also been the refusal of both Kuwait and Oman to join the blockade. Kuwait’s Sheikh Al Sabah and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos have stood their ground and refused to cave in to pressure. As a result, there are increasing signs that Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are seeking to influence the succession processes in both Gulf countries and ensure that the successors of the two ageing monarchs are more willing to join their alliance and follow their cue on GCC and regional politics.

At the same time, with the help of the Trump administration, MBZ and MBS are hoping to weaken the two other contenders for regional influence: Iran and Turkey. Both played an important role during the initial stages of the blockade on Qatar, with Ankara sending troops to help boost the security of the small Gulf country.

Iran is now the target of a relentless diplomatic onslaught by the Saudi-Emirati alliance, backed and encouraged by the US. The reimposition of the US sanctions has pushed the Iranian economy to the brink.

Meanwhile, Turkey is also experiencing growing political and economic difficulties. The Trump administration has recently escalated its pressure on Ankara over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system and threatened sanctions which have affected negatively the already faltering Turkish economy.

The Saudi-Emirati axis has also sought to influence events in SudanLibya, and Algeria, as dangerous upheaval has gripped all three countries over the past few months. It has attempted to undermine popular movements for freedom and democracy with the intention of replicating the notorious Egyptian military dictatorship model.

All these efforts are aimed at removing all obstacles to Saudi-Emirati regional hegemony and securing the following outcomes: Kuwait and Oman abandoning neutrality in the GCC crisis and falling in line with the axis; Turkey and Iran being contained and weakened; Sudan, Libya and Algeria seeing the consolidation of military regimes loyal to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi; and Qatar caving in to pressure and submitting to Saudi and Emirati domination, after being isolated and abandoned by allies.

The success of this plan largely depends on Trump being re-elected in 2020 and continuing the anti-Iran campaign, the pressure on Turkey and the support for Saudi and Emirati interests in the crises in North Africa. MBZ and MBS hope that another four years of Trump in the White House would give them enough time to reshape the regional geopolitical landscape in their own favour.

But according to the latest polls in the US, a Trump re-election is far from certain. And even the incumbent comes back for another term, that still does not guarantee that the Saudi-Emirati plan would work.

The Middle East is a complicated and unpredictable region. In its history, there are many examples of how the efforts of regressive and counter-revolutionary forces have backfired. There are also many variables in the region which Riyadh and Abu Dhabi would find hard to control or even influence.

MBZ and MBS may appear to be on the offensive, but in reality, they are on the defensive. Their plan perfectly illustrates the many insecurities the two regimes harbour and their desperate attempt to preserve them. Change in the Middle East, however, is inevitable.

Why Won’t The Media Criticize US Aggression?

Authored by Tom Engelhardt via TomDispatch.com,

Despite military involvement in 75% of the world, mainstream news outlets always stop short of calling out American aggressions…

Headlined “U.S. Seeks Other Ways to Stop Iran Shy of War,” the article was tucked away on page A9 of a recent New York Times. Still, it caught my attention. Here’s the first paragraph:

“American intelligence and military officers are working on additional clandestine plans to counter Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, pushed by the White House to develop new options that could help deter Tehran without escalating tensions into a full-out conventional war, according to current and former officials.”

Note that “Iranian aggression.” The rest of the piece, fairly typical of the tone of American media coverage of the ongoing Iran crisis, included sentences like this: “The C.I.A. has longstanding secret plans for responding to Iranian provocations.” I’m sure I’ve read such things hundreds of times without ever really stopping to think much about them, but this time I did. And what struck me was this: rare is the moment in such mainstream news reports when Americans are the “provocative” ones (though the Iranians immediately accused the U.S. military of just that, a provocation, when it came to the U.S. drone its Revolutionary Guard recently shot down either over Iranian air space or the Strait of Hormuz). When it comes to Washington’s never-ending war on terror, I think I can say with reasonable confidence that, in the past, the present, and the future, the one phrase you’re not likely to find in such media coverage will be “American aggression.”

I mean, forget the history of the second half of the last century and all of this one so far. Forget that back in the Neolithic age of the 1980s, before Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein turned out to be the new Adolf Hitler and needed to be taken down by us (no aggression there), the administration of President Ronald Reagan actively backed his unprovoked invasion of, and war against, Iran. (That included his use of chemical weapons against Iranian troop concentrations that American military intelligence helped him target.) Forget that, in 2003, the administration of George W. Bush launched an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, based on false intelligence about Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction and his supposed links to al-Qaeda. Forget that the Trump administration tore up a nuclear agreement with Iran to which that country was adhering and which would indeed have effectively prevented it from producing nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. Forget that its supreme leader (in fatwas he issued) prohibited the creation or stockpiling of such weaponry in any case.

Forget that the Trump administration, in a completely unprovoked manner, imposed crippling sanctions on that country and its oil trade, causing genuine suffering, in hopes of toppling that regime economically as Saddam Hussein’s had been toppled militarily in neighboring Iraq in 2003, all in the name of preventing the atomic weapons that the Obama-negotiated pact had taken care of. Forget the fact that an American president, who, at the last moment, halted air strikes against Iranian missile bases (after one of their missiles shot down that American drone) is now promising that an attack on “anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force… In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”

Provocations? Aggression? Perish the thought!

And yet, just ask yourself what Washington and the Pentagon might do if an Iranian drone were spotted off the East Coast of the United States (no less in actual U.S. air space).  No more need be said, right?

So here’s the strange thing, on a planet on which, in 2017, U.S. Special Operations forces deployed to 149 countries, or approximately 75% of all nations; on which the U.S. has perhaps 800 military garrisons outside its own territory; on which the U.S. Navy patrols most of its oceans and seas; on which U.S. unmanned aerial drones conduct assassination strikes across a surprising range of countries; and on which the U.S. has been fighting wars, as well as more minor conflicts, for years on end from Afghanistan to Libya, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Niger in a century in which it chose to launch full-scale invasions of two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), is it truly reasonable never to identify the U.S. as an “aggressor” anywhere?

What you might say about the United States is that, as the self-proclaimed leading proponent of democracy and human rights (even if its president is now having a set of love affairs with autocrats and dictators),Americans consider ourselves at home just about anywhere we care to be on planet Earth.  It matters little how we may be armed and what we might do. Consequently, wherever Americans are bothered, harassed, threatened, attacked, we are always the ones being provoked and aggressed upon, never provoking and aggressing. I mean, how can you be the aggressor in your own house, even if that house happens to be temporarily located in Afghanistan, Iraq, or perhaps soon enough in Iran?

A Planet of Aggressors and Provocateurs

To mine the same New York Times piece a little more, here’s another paragraph:

“Some officials believe the United States needs [to] be willing to master the kind of deniable, shadowy techniques Tehran has perfected in order to halt Iran’s aggressions. Others think that, while helpful, such clandestine attacks will not be enough to reassure American allies or deter Iran.”

Of course, such clandestine American attacks would, by definition, not be “aggression,” not given that they were directed against Iran. Forget the grim historical humor lurking in the above passage, since the present Iranian religious hard-liners probably wouldn’t be there if, back in 1953, the CIA hadn’t used just such techniques to overthrow a democratically elected Iranian government and install its own autocrat, the young Shah, in power.

As that Times piece also emphasizes, Iran now uses “proxy forces” throughout the region (indeed it does!) against U.S. (and Israeli) power, a tactic Americans evidently just hadn’t thought about employing themselves in this century — until now. Americans naturally have no proxy forces in the Greater Middle East. That’s a well-known fact. Just out of curiosity, however, what would you call the local forces our special ops guys are training and advising in so many of those 149 countries around the planet, since obviously they could never be proxy forces? And how about the Afghan and Iraqi militaries that the U.S. trained, supplied with weaponry, and advised in these years? (You know, the Iraqi army that collapsed in the face of ISIS in 2014 or the Afghan security forces that have been unable to staunch either the growth of the Taliban or of the Afghan branch of ISIS.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Yes, the Iranians can (and sometimes do) provoke and aggress. It’s an ugly planet filled with aggression and provocation. (Take Vladimir Putin’s Russia in Crimea and Ukraine, for instance.) The Chinese are now aggressing in the South China Sea where the U.S. Navy regularly conducts “freedom of navigation” operations — though no provocation there, as the Pacific’s an American lake, isn’t it?

In short, when it comes to provocation and aggression, the world is our oyster. There are so many bad guys out there and then, of course, there’s us. We can make mistakes and missteps, we can kill staggering numbers of civilians, destroy cities, uproot populations, create hordes of refugees with our never-ending wars across the Greater Middle East and Africa, but aggression? What are you thinking?

One thing is obvious if you follow the mainstream media: in our world, no matter what we do, we’re still the good guys on a planet filled with provocateurs and aggressors of every sort.

War to the Horizon

Now let’s think for a moment about that remarkable American comfort level, that unprecedented sense of being at home practically anywhere on Earth we choose to send armed Americans — and while we’re at it, let’s consider a related subject: America’s wars.

If, in the early 1970s, you had told me or any other American that, in the nearly half-century to come, the U.S. would fight wars and other lesser conflicts of almost every imaginable sort in startling numbers of places thousands of miles from home, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, countries most Americans couldn’t then (or now) find on a map, I guarantee you one thing: we would have thought you were nuts. (Of course, if you had described Donald Trump’s White House to me then as our future reality, I would have considered you beyond delusional.)

And yet here we are. Think about Afghanistan for a moment. In those distant days of the last century, that country would undoubtedly have been known here only to small numbers of young adventurers eager to hike what was then called “the hippy trail.” There, in a still remarkably peaceful place, a young American might have been greeted with remarkable friendliness and then spaced out on drugs.

That, of course, was before Washington’s first (covert) Afghan War, the one the CIA oversaw, with the help of Saudi money (yes, even then!) and a major hand from the Pakistani intelligence services. Do you remember that conflict, which began in 1979 and ended a decade later with the Red Army limping out of Kabul in defeat, heading for a land, the Soviet Union, which would implode within two years? What a “victory” that proved to be for America, not to speak of the groups of extremist Islamic militants we helped to fund and support, including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden.

And keep in mind as well that that was our “short” war in Afghanistan, a mere decade long. In October 2001, soon after the 9/11 attacks, instead of launching a police action against Osama bin Laden and crew, the administration of George W. Bush decided to invade that country. Almost 18 years later, the U.S. military is still fighting there (remarkably unsuccessfully) against a thoroughly rejuvenated Taliban and a new branch of ISIS. It now qualifies as the longest war in our history (without even adding in that first Afghan War of ours).

And then, of course, there’s Iraq. By my count, the U.S. has been involved in four conflicts involving that country, starting with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in 1980 and the ensuing war, which the administration of President Ronald Reagan supported militarily (as the present one does the Saudi war in Yemen). Then there was President George H.W. Bush’s war against Saddam Hussein after his military invaded Kuwait in 1990, which resulted in a resounding (but by no means conclusive) victory and the kind of victory parade in Washington that Donald Trump can only dream of. Next, of course, was President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq (mission accomplished!), a grim and unsatisfying eight-year conflict from which President Barack Obama withdrew U.S. troops in 2011. The fourth war followed in 2014 when the U.S.-trained Iraqi military collapsed in the face of relatively small numbers of ISIS militants, a group that was an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which didn’t exist until the U.S. invaded that country. That September, President Obama loosed the U.S. air force on Iraq and Syria (so you can add a fifth war in a neighboring country to the mix) and sent U.S. troops back into Iraq and into Syria where they still remain.

Oh, yes, and don’t forget Somalia. U.S. troubles there began with the famed Black Hawk Down incident amid the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 and never, in a sense, really ended. Today, U.S. Special Operations forces are still on the ground there and U.S. air strikes against a Somali militant Islamic group, al-Shabaab, have actually been on the rise in the Trump era.

As for Yemen, from the first U.S. drone strike there in 2002, the U.S. had been in an on-again, off-again low-level conflict there that included commando raids, cruise missile attacks, air strikes, and drone strikes against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, another offshoot of the original al-Qaeda. Since, in 2015, the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates launched their war against Houthi rebels (backed by Iran) who had come to control significant parts of the country, the U.S. has been supporting them with weaponryintelligence, and targeting, as well as (until late last year) mid-air refueling and other aid. Meanwhile, that brutal war of destruction has led to staggering numbers of Yemeni civilian casualties (and widespread starvation), but as with so many of the other campaigns the U.S. has involved itself in across the Greater Middle East and Africa it shows no sign of ending.

And don’t forget Libya, where the U.S. and NATO intervened in 2011 to help rebels take down Muammar Gaddafi, the local autocrat, and in the process managed to foster a failed state in a land now experiencing its own civil war. In the years since 2011, the U.S. has sometimes had commandos on the ground there, has launched hundreds of drone strikes (and air strikes), often against a branch of ISIS that grew up in that land. Once again, little is settled there, so we can all continue to sing the Marine Hymn (“…to the shores of Tripoli”) with a sense of appropriateness.

And I haven’t even mentioned PakistanNiger, and god knows where else. You should also note that the American forever war on terror has proven a remarkably effective war for terror, clearly helping to foster and spread such groups, aggressors and provocateurs all, around significant parts of the planet, from the Philippines to the Congo.

Addicted to war? Not us. Still, all in all, it’s quite a record and let’s not forget that looming on the horizon is another possible war, this time with Iran, a country that the men overseeing the invasion of Iraq in 2003 (including present National Security Advisor John Bolton) were eager to go after even then. “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad,” so the saying reputedly went in Washington at the time. “Real men want to go to Tehran.” And it’s just possible that, in 2019, Bolton and crew will be able to act on that much delayed urge. Considering the history of American wars in these years, what could possibly go wrong?

To sum up, no one should ever claim that we Americans aren’t “at home” in the world. We’re everywhere, remarkably well funded and well armed and ready to face off against the aggressors and provocateurs of this planet. Just one small suggestion: thank the troops for their service if you want, and then, as most Americans do, go about your business as if nothing were happening in those distant lands. As we head into election season 2020, however, just don’t imagine that we’re the good guys on Planet Earth. As far as I can tell, there aren’t many good guys left.

Brit Forces Storm Supertanker Loaded w/Crude Headed For Syria

[SEE: Imperial Plan To Use Civil War As Gas and Oil Valve–PART II]

Royal Marines storm super tanker using helicopters and speed boats

No shots were fired during the mission which saw an air and sea-based assault on the Grace 1

Authorities said there was reason to believe the ship, called the Grace 1, was carrying crude oil to the Baniyas Refinery in Syria.

A “bold” mission to seize a super tanker taking crude oil to Syria was carried out by a team of Royal Marines who rappelled onto the ship from a helicopter.

Backed by other troops from 42 Commando on inflatable speedboats, the operation off the coast of Gibraltar was carried out with no shots fired.

Around 16 Royal Gibraltar Police officers were also involved in the mission following suspicions the tanker, named Grace 1, was breaching EU sanctions.
Oil supertanker Grace 1 bound for Syria detained in Gibraltar
Image:The ship was boarded by Royal Marines and Gibraltarian authorities

The 30 Marines were flown out to lead the mission at the request of the Gibraltar police.

Mapping data shows the tanker had sailed from Iran. If the oil on board is confirmed to be Iranian, the tanker would also be violating a US ban on Iranian oil exports.

Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo said: “We have reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria.

“That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria.

He added: “I want to thank the brave men and women of the Royal Marines, the Royal Gibraltar Police, Her Majesty’s Customs Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Port Authority, for their work in securing the detention of this vessel and its cargo.

“Be assured that Gibraltar remains safe, secure and committed to the international, rules-based, legal order.”

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter: “Congratulations to Gibraltar & @RoyalMarines for this bold move to enforce Syria sanctions.

“Their swift action has denied valuable resources to Asad’s murderous regime.”

Oil supertanker Grace 1 bound for Syria detained in Gibraltar
Image:Grace 1 is believed to have been bound for Syria

However, his counterpart in Spain, Josep Borrell, said it was looking into the seizure of the ship as it appears to have happened in Spanish waters.

European Union sanctions against the government of Syria took effect in May 2011, shortly after the start of President Bashar al Assad’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators that has led to the country’s protracted civil war.

Iran, a close ally of Assad, is also under a US sanctions regime meant to bar all international sales of Iranian oil.

It was imposed after President Donald Trump withdrew Washington last year from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

Deconstructing the perpetual war machine

Deconstructing the perpetual war machine 

How Democrats and Republicans keep us constantly engaged in conflict

The perpetual war machine is a bipartisan creation, fed by Republicans and Democrats alike. - MARIA OSWALT/UNSPLASHThe perpetual war machine is a bipartisan creation, fed by Republicans and Democrats alike.

MARIA OSWALT/UNSPLASH

I know it’s bad form to say anything positive about President Donald Trump. But his decision to call off a planned air strike against Iran last month should be applauded.

The decision was made, according to the New York Times, with planes already in the air and targets picked out. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, urged the strike to retaliate against Iran for shooting down an American surveillance drone. The easy thing for Trump to do would have been to let the generals blow things up and kill people.

Trump explained in a tweet thread that he canceled the planned attack after being informed by a general that roughly 150 people would die in the assault. He decided that the possible loss of life was “not . . . proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

In the corporate press, there was some recognition that Trump’s calculation might be correct—the downed drone was not worth 150 lives and a potential new war in the Mideast. Yet the New York Times editorial board expressed concern with Trump’s “chaotic decision-making process,” finding it “strange and disturbing” that Trump would have considered the “possible death toll only at the last minute.”

While I don’t endorse chaotic thinking about foreign policy, it is worth recalling what normal-thinking foreign policy looks like. Past wars in the Mideast were professionally sold to the American people with massive propaganda campaigns run through the press. Normal presidents first dehumanize the enemy, then ignore civilian casualties.

In 1990, when Iraqi troops led by Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, a PR campaign was launched to convince Americans to send our troops halfway around the world to defend the oil-rich fiefdom. We were told again and again about babies torn from incubators by Iraqi soldiers. Years later, it was quietly reported that the incubator story was a lie told by a member of the Kuwaiti royal family who’d been coached by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton. Corporate media sanitized its coverage of the war, known as Desert Storm, almost entirely ignoring the human cost.

The campaign of lies and propaganda that got us into the second war against Iraq in 2003 is well known. Besides false reporting about mobile chemical weapons labs and shipments of uranium from Africa, we were fed more reports of brutality, rape, and torture by Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay.

The two Iraq wars combined were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops and civilians, and thousands of American soldiers.

The same pattern was repeated in 2011 by the Obama administration to get us geared up for the NATO war in Libya. There, the official lies were that Muammar Gaddafi was supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape, and that he was planning to massacre civilians in Benghazi. The NATO bombing plunged Libya into a humanitarian disaster, killing thousands of people and displacing hundreds of thousands more, transforming Libya from the African country with the highest standard of living into a war-torn failed state.

Today, Democrats are raising questions about Trump’s authority to bomb Iran without getting authorization from Congress. In response, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that Trump can use the 2001 AUMF—the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed after 9/11—as justification for a new war with Iran.

Democrats dispute Trump’s reading of the AUMF, which only authorizes attacks against the terrorists who attacked us on September 11, 2001. But their position is weakened by the fact that President Obama used the AUMF 19 times to justify new bombing campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Somalia, all without any action by Congress. Obama even used the AUMF to justify the killing of a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen in September 2011. Then ten days later, another drone strike killed al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also an American citizen. No justification has ever been given for the attack on the boy.

The perpetual war machine is a bipartisan creation, fed by Republicans and Democrats alike. It is the inevitable result of a capitalist system that lets private companies profit from killing and war coupled with a political system that allows our national leaders to take campaign checks from these same war merchants. The result is a vicious cycle of wars that can never end because they are designed to spread violence and chaos. Then later, more military spending and war are required to deal with the new dangers created by the past wars.

Under this dysfunctional system, the main job of a commander in chief is to maintain enough conflict zones around the globe to keep the war machine funded to the tune of about a trillion dollars annually. On June 19, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a nearly $1 trillion appropriations bill, the vast majority of which was for defense funding.

Trump deserves credit for at least acknowledging the influence of the for-profit war industry on his foreign policy. “Don’t kid yourself,” Trump told Fox News, “you do have a military industrial complex. They do like war.”

As an example, why are we helping Saudi Arabia and its murderous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fight its cruel and brutal war in Yemen, targeting civilians, bombing hospitals, factories, mosques, schools, using starvation and disease as weapons of war? Trump will tell you why. We do it for the weapons contracts with the Saudis. But Obama, the president who got us into the war in Yemen, while he also negotiated huge weapons contracts with the Saudis, never offered any coherent explanation.

Accepting that you have a problem is the first step to changing course. Remember, Trump won the White House promising a noninterventionist foreign policy. “Look, I said I want to get out of these endless wars, I campaigned on that, I want to get out,” he told reporters in the Oval Office on June 20. Normal thinking about foreign policy has produced a cycle of endless wars for corporate profit. Chaotic thinking may be what it takes to break that cycle.  v

Leonard C. Goodman is a Chicago criminal defense attorney and co-owner of the newly independent Reader.

Concentration Camps For Illegal Immigrant Children In the Good Ole’ U.S.A.

A Central American migrant family recently released from federal detention waits to board a bus in McAllen, Texas, on June 12.Photo: LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images

The third week in June began with a broad political discussion on whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s designation of migrant detention centers as “concentration camps” was the correct nomenclature for holding rooms in which 41 detainees live in a cell built for eight. It ended with heinous reports of the conditions at said camps, where undocumented migrant children are being held away from their families in conditions “worse than jail,” according to physician Dolly Lucio Sevier, who wrote up a medical declaration obtained by ABC News after visiting Border Patrol holding facilities along the border in Texas. Here’s everything we know about conditions in the detention camps.

Conditions in a McAllen, Texas Facility “Could Be Compared to Torture Facilities”

Sevier, a private-practice physician in the Rio Grande Valley, was granted access to a facility in McAllen, Texas, after attorneys discovered a flu outbreak that sent five infants to a neonatal intensive-care unit. At the detention center — the largest such Border Patrol facility in the country — Sevier examined 39 children under the age of 18 facing conditions including “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.” All 39 exhibited signs of trauma.

Sevier told ABC News that the teenagers she observed were not able to wash their hands while in custody, which she called “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.” Teen mothers in custody described to her not being able to clean their children’s bottles: “To deny parents the ability to wash their infant’s bottles is unconscionable and could be considered intentional mental and emotional abuse,” Sevier wrote. In summary, she determined that “the conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities.”

Children “Had to Sleep on the Floor … as Punishment for Losing the Comb”

Outside of El Paso, attorney and children’s-rights advocate Warren Binfordgained access to a Border Patrol facility where 351 migrant children were detained; over 100 were under 13, and the youngest was just over 4 months. Binford reported that many of the kids had been held for three weeks or longer, and that guards had created a “child boss” who was rationed extra food in an attempt to control the other children. Binford told The New Yorker about the Clint, Texas facility’s treatment of a lice outbreak.

So, on Wednesday, we received reports from children of a lice outbreak in one of the cells where there were about twenty-five children, and what they told us is that six of the children were found to have lice. And so they were given a lice shampoo, and the other children were given two combs and told to share those two combs, two lice combs, and brush their hair with the same combs, which is something you never do with a lice outbreak. And then what happened was one of the combs was lost, and Border Patrol agents got so mad that they took away the children’s blankets and mats. They weren’t allowed to sleep on the beds, and they had to sleep on the floor on Wednesday night as punishment for losing the comb. So you had a whole cell full of kids who had beds and mats at one point, not for everybody but for most of them, who were forced to sleep on the cement.

Speaking with ABC News, Binford also described a devastating example of a 2-year-old without diapers who had “several other little girls” looking after him. “When I asked where his diapers were, she looked down and said, ‘He doesn’t need them,’ and then he immediately peed in his pants right there on the conference chair and started crying,” Binford said. “So children are being required to care for other very young children, and they are simply not prepared to do that.”

Almost 300 Children Removed From the Clint Facility, Though a Third Were Brought Back

After reports of the appalling conditions at the detention center outside of El Paso, close to 300 children were removed on June 24, according to the Department of Homeland Security. According to NBC News, some of the children who were removed “were wearing dirty clothes covered in mucus or even urine, said Elora Mukherjee, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School. Teenage mothers wore clothing stained with breast milk. None of the children had access to soap or toothpaste.”

But the next day, June 25, 100 of the detained children were brought back to the Clint detention center.

Politicians Visit the Border Patrol Facilities

Over the last weekend in June, Democratic 2020 hopefuls including Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and Julián Castro visited camps along the border, with several other Democratic representatives appearing on Monday:

The most controversial visit was from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was also told migrants were directed to drink from toilets if they wanted water. Anna Giaritelli — the reporter for the Washington Examiner who promoted the unsubstantiated “prayer rugs” story — claimed that “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., screamed at federal law enforcement agents ‘in a threatening manner’ during a visit to a U.S. Border Patrol facility in El Paso, Texas, Monday afternoon and refused to tour the facility, according to two people who witnessed it.” Later, Ocasio-Cortez’s communications director provided a different angle to the exchange:

The Border Patrol Facebook Group

As CBP officers dealt with the increased attention brought by the lawmakers at the border, the agency scrambled to cover an online crisis, after a ProPublica report of a 9,500-member Facebook group where current and former Border Patrol agents “joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant.”

In one exchange, group members responded with indifference and wisecracks to the post of a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, “Oh well.” Another responded with an image and the words “If he dies, he dies.”

In another thread, a group member posted a photo of father and his 23-month-old daughter lying face down in the Rio Grande. The pair drowned while trying to ford the river and cross into the U.S.; pictures of the two have circulated widely online in recent days, generating an outcry.

The member asked if the photo could have been faked because the bodies were so “clean.” (The picture was taken by an Associated Press photographer, and there is no indication that it was staged or manipulated.) “I HAVE NEVER SEEN FLOATERS LIKE THIS,” the person wrote, adding, “could this be another edited photo. We’ve all seen the dems and liberal parties do some pretty sick things…”

On Monday, Customs and Border Protection officials announced an investigation into the Facebook group. U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said the posts “completely inappropriate” and that they were “contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out.” But Joaquin Castro, head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, expressed a different sentiment in a statement given to ProPublica: “It confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection. These are clearly agents who are desensitized to the point of being dangerous to migrants and their co-workers.”

Protests at Fort Sill, Site of a Former Japanese Internment Camp

As New York’s Eric Levitz wrote in his survey of the “what to call the intentionally cruel camps” debate: “Progressives shouldn’t need to invoke the Holocaust to place migrant-detention centers in their proper context. The border separating the United States from lands dominated by nonwhite peoples has been a site of white-nationalist violence since the founding of our republic.” Indeed, reports emerged earlier in June that the Office of Refugee Resettlement planned to hold 1,400 migrant children at the Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma, the site of an internment camp for around 700 Japanese-Americans during World War II.

On Saturday, around 200 protesters and survivors of the internment camps arrived to protest the use of Fort Sill to detain migrant children. (In 2014, there were also protests over the detention of children at the site.) “We are here to say, ‘Stop repeating history,’ ” said 75-year-old Satsuki Ina, who was detained at the Fort Sill tent city as a child during WWII. At one point in the day, protesters also shouted, “No more concentration camps!”

Trump Delays Massive ICE Action

To add to last week’s chaos, Trump surprised Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers by announcing by tweet that the agency would within a week “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.” Throughout the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the president had a back-and-forth over the actions that would begin Sunday in a dozen cities, impacting at least 2,000 migrant families. Pelosi called the possibility of the raids “heartless” and a “brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities.”

Hours after defending the planned actions on Twitter, the president decided to delay the raids “for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.” It’s unclear why Trump pulled back from the plan, although Politico reports that some ICE officers had pushed back after Trump made it public, fearing for officer safety and child welfare.

U.A.E., Supported By U.S., Named As Primary Culprit In Destabilization of N. Africa

Khalifa Haftar, CIA Frontman In Libya, Supported By All Sides, Except For Turkey and Qatar

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

CIA’s Man In Libya, Gen. Haftar, Backed By Russia, Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia

Russia + Saudi Arabia + Qatar, Except When In Syria

Pentagon Plans To Turn Anti-ISIL Efforts Into N. Africa Offensive Against Someone

[Why Spend $54 Billion More on the Pentagon? To Start a War, Obviously.] [Is the Pentagon moving to block ISIS or Russia in N. Africa (SEE: Russia Has Bought-In To the Libyan War, Siding w/Gen. Khalifa Haftar)?] The Pentagon wants to keep ground troops in Libya and go on offense in Somalia

Libyans Strike Egyptian and UAE Embassies In Tripoli

[Both Egypt and UAE have recently been implicated in mystery airstrikes against Tripoli militants.] Bombs Explode Near Egyptian, United Arab Emirates Embassies In Tripoli The wreckage of a car, which was destroyed when a bomb exploded, is pictured next to the Egyptian embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli November 13, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Stringer TRIPOLI

Imperial Plan To Use Civil War As Gas and Oil Valve

Trump Taking War of Terror/Color Revolution Road Show To Africa–(updated)

Carving Africa Up

US Criticizes Wahhabi Evangelism In Africa, But Embraces It Everywhere Else

 

Tripoli-based Government of National Accord

Haftar vows attacks on Turkish assets in Libya

Both sides accuse each other of using foreign mercenaries and receiving military support from external powers, despite a UN arms embargo in place since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew Moamer Kadhafi’s regime.

Haftar has the backing of the UAE and Egypt and accuses Turkey and Qatar of supporting the GNA.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed his country backs the GNA and provides weapons to it under a “military cooperation agreement”….

…Mesmari said orders had been given to the LNA’s air force “to target Turkish ships and boats in Libyan territorial waters”.

“Turkish strategic sites, companies and projects belonging to the Turkish state (in Libya) are considered legitimate targets by the armed forces,” he added.

“All Turkish nationals on Libyan territory will be arrested (and) all flights to and from Turkey will be banned”.

Libya’s GNA says US missiles found at captured Haftar base

Libya's GNA says US missiles found at captured Haftar baseLibyan media airs footage appearing to show markings that indicate the weapons were originally sold to the UAE in 2008.

“The GNA is fostering its forces defending Tripoli with armored vehicles, ammunition and quality weapons,”

“The GNA is fostering its forces defending Tripoli with armored vehicles, ammunition and quality weapons,” the pro-GNA coalition said on one of its Facebook page, without giving further details about the origin of the military equipment.

Pictures and videos posted by the coalition on its Facebook pages showed what appeared to be dozens of Turkish-made BMC Kirpi armored vehicles in Tripoli port.

The GNA and the Turkish Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier this month, a Tripoli government spokesman said his administration was talking to its ally Turkey to obtain “anything that is needed to stop the assault,” including military and civilian help.

The LNA, which is allied to a rival administration in eastern Libya, launched an offensive to control Tripoli in early April. As the fighting drags on, 75,000 people have fled their homes and 126 civilians have been killed, according to the latest U.N. figures.

Since 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt have provided the LNA with military equipment such as aircraft and helicopters, helping Haftar to gain the upper hand in Libya’s eight-year conflict, according to previous U.N. reports.

Turkey and Qatar are at loggerheads with the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia over several regional issues including support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Libyan Army’s spokesman says “one country” is providing Haftar with US weapons

Saudis and UAE Responsible For Sudanese Rebellion, Taking Fight w/Qatar To Africa