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American Resistance To Empire

Rothschildlessness

[SEE: Jacob Rothschild is Guilty for the Conspiracy Against Humankind ]

Rothschildlessness

Karl Marx and Jewish Power” (Guyénot):

“Marx redefines Jewish religion as the cult of money: “Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist.” He does the same for Jewish nationality, in one short sentence: “The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general.” It follows naturally, according to Marx, that if you abolish money you will solve the Jewish question:

“Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time. An organization of society which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society.”

Jews will be emancipated when all men will be emancipated, for there is no other emancipation than emancipation from money.

Marx makes the radical claim that love of money and economic alienation came to the world from the Jews. He equates economic alienation to Jewish influence:

“the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian nations. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews. … The Jew is perpetually created by civil society from its own entrails. … The god of the Jews has become secularized and has become the god of the world”

And so, “In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.” That sounds terribly anti-Semitic, from today’s standards. Because of these essays on the Jewish Question, Marx’s biographers have been more concerned by the question, “Was Marx an anti-Semite?” (see Edmund Silberner’s 1949 book of that title) than by the issue of his Jewish background, environment, and mindset. This is best illustrated by this article by Michael Ezra, “Karl Marx’s Radical Antisemitism.”

But in the context of the time, Marx’s view of the Jews as money worshippers was rather banal. It was almost unanimously shared among socialists, as Hal Draper reminds us in “Marx and the Economic-Jew Stereotype.”[18] It was especially common among revolutionary Jews as well as among Zionists who were generally socialists. Moses Hess himself, for instance, wrote in “The Essence of Money”: “The Jews, who in the natural history of the social animal-world had the world-historic mission of developing the beast of prey out of humanity have now finally completed their mission’s work.”

What Marx did was to push the stereotype to its limit: he made the love of money not just an attribute of some Jews, but the very essence of the Jews. But by doing so, he was in effect dissolving the Jewish question into a socio-economic question: the Jew becomes the archetypal bourgeois. By this sleight of hand, Marx eliminated the Jewish question once and for all. He would never come back to it.[19]

In fact, never again would Marx target specifically Jewish financiers. Nesta Webster draws attention to that anomaly in her World Revolution: The Plot Against Civilization (1921):

“The period of 1820 onwards became, as Sombart [Werner Sombart, The Jews and Modern Capitalism, 1911)] calls it, ‘the age of the Rothschilds,’ so that by the middle of the century it was a common dictum, ‘There is only one power in Europe, and that is Rothschild.’ Now how is it conceivable that a man who set out honestly to denounce Capitalism should have avoided all reference to its principal authors? Yet even in the section of his book dealing with the origins of Industrial Capitalism, where Marx refers to the great financiers, the stock-jobbing and speculation in shares, and what he describes as ‘the modern sovereignty of finance,’ he never once indicates the Jews as the leading financiers, or the Rothschilds as the super-capitalists of the world.”[20]

and (my emphasis in red):

Jewish movements seem to be working history through dialectical antagonisms that ultimately advance the Big Project. The capacity of the Jewish community to present itself either as a religion or as a nationality, depending on the circumstances, is the prime example. After gaining political emancipation in the name of religious freedom in the first part of the 19th century, European Jews were in the position to reclaim their special nationhood. For a few decades, reformed rabbis would ostensibly oppose Jewish nationalism, proclaiming in the 1885 Pittsburgh Conference: “We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religion community.”[25] Yet the same Pittsburgh Conference saw no contradiction in adopting the theory of German rabbi Kaufman Kohler, that “Israel, the suffering Messiah of the centuries, shall at the end of days become the triumphant Messiah of the nations,”[26] which amounts to say that Israel is not an ordinary nation, but the super-nation. In the 20th century, any trace of a contradiction between Reformed Judaism and Zionism was removed.
The early collaboration between Marx and Hess and the late encounter between Marx and Graetz both prefigure another dialectical opposition between Communism (the International revolution aimed at destroying Christian nations) and Zionism (the national project aimed at building the Jewish nation). Both movements developed in the same milieu. Chaim Weizmann recounts in his autobiography (Trial and Error, 1949) that in early twentieth-century Russia, revolutionary communists and revolutionary Zionists belonged to the same milieu. Weizmann’s brother Schmuel was a communist, and that was not a source of family discord. These divisions were relative and changeable; many Zionists were Marxists, and vice versa. The borderline was all the more vague that the Communist Bund, born the same year as Zionism (1897), inscribed in its revolutionary agenda the right of the Jews to found a secular Yiddish-speaking nation. As Gilad Atzmon recently wrote, the Bund was “also an attempt to prevent Jews from joining the ‘Hellenic’ route by offering Jews a tribal path within the context of a future Soviet revolution.”

But the most important thing to note is that, from the early days, Jewish revolutionary activity provided Zionists with a diplomatic argument in favor of their alternative program for the Jews. Herzl mentions in his diary (June 4, 1900) that “intensifying Jewish Socialist activities” was a way to “stir up the desire among the European governments to exert pressure on Turkey to take in the Jews” (Palestine was then under Ottoman control). He hawked Zionism as a solution to the problem of Jewish revolutionary subversion when meeting Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898, and again when meeting Russian ministers in St. Petersburg in 1903.[27] The next generation of Zionists continued the stratagem.

Churchill, who spoke with one voice with Chaim Weizmann,[28]dramatized the opposition between the “good Jews” (Zionists) and the “bad Jews” (communists) in his 1920 article “Zionism versus Bolshevism: A struggle for the soul of the Jewish people.” He referred to Bolshevism as “this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization” and to Zionism as the solution “especially in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire.” (Churchill’s later alliance with Stalin proves that his Zionism was stronger than his anti-communism.)
In the aftermath of World War II, the rivalry between the Communist and the Capitalist worlds remained the indispensable context for the creation and expansion of Israel. That explains why Roosevelt’s administration, largely controlled by Jews, helped Stalin conquer half of Europe and thwarted all attempts to stop him. Curtis Dall, Roosevelt’s son-in-law, has revealed a secret diplomatic channel demonstrating that the White House went out of its way to give the USSR all the time and the armament necessary to invade Central Europe.[29] Thus the Second World War was completed with the determined aim of laying the foundations for the Cold War, that is, a highly explosive polarization of the world that would prove crucial for Project Zion. In fact, during this whole period, it is almost impossible to distinguish, among the Jewish advisors of Roosevelt and Truman on foreign policy, the pro-Communists from the pro-Zionists, as David Martin remarks in The Assassination of James ForrestalA case in point is David Niles (Neyhus), who was guilty of spying for the Soviets while advising Roosevelt, but then played a key role in Truman’s support of the U.N. Partition Plan and the recognition of Israel.[30]
The Cold War proved instrumental when Nasser, Israel’s most formidable enemy, was pushed into the communist camp in 1955, setting off an intense Zionist campaign to present him as a danger to the stability of the Middle East, and to present Israel, by contrast, as the only reliable ally in the region. The Cold War was also the crucial context for Israel’s defeat of Egypt in 1967 and Israel’s annexation of territories stolen to Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

Hindu Racism Is Alive and Thriving In Modern, “Democratic India”

[(The world has forgotten the extreme, bloody violence of Hindu racism…Remember Gujarat Riots)

SEE:  31 Convicted In Gujarat Riots Case for Burning 33 Muslims Alive]

Don’t Blame Victims Burning in Delhi’s Violence, Again

Anti-Muslim violence in India reaches alarming proportions

Worst riots after 1992 Babri demolition stains Delhi

Editorial: The BJP Has Wilfully Let Delhi Burn

Nobody should be under any illusion that the Delhi communal riots of 2020 are not a product of deliberate attempts by the BJP to polarise the country on religious grounds.

For three days, northeast Delhi has been in the grip of armed vigilantes mobilised by Hindutva politicians to attack and terrorise those protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Given the nature of the mobs and their leaders, the violence quickly lost any pretence of a ‘political’ motive and descended into crude, generalised communal violence against Muslims.

The utter chaos and lawlessness which reigned unchecked on the watch of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre – which controls law and order in the national capital – has left at least 21 people dead, including a policeman, and several hundred injured. Ordinary working people – both Hindus and Muslims – have died in the orchestrated mayhem.

 

There can be no doubt that the ultimatum issued by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra on Sunday for the anti-CAA protestors to clear the streets of northeast Delhi or face dire consequences was the immediate trigger to the violence. But there are also deeper underlying factors – institutional and political – which helped push Delhi into the abyss.

The first and most obvious factor is the partisanship of the Delhi Police, encouraged and sustained in large part by the support of the ruling BJP at the Centre. From university campuses to the streets, it is now a matter of habit for the Delhi Police to stand by and watch mobs whose political agenda squares with the BJP run amok.

Ordinary citizens, particularly Muslims – the primary targets of the ruling party’s polarising politics around the question of citizenship – can expect no succour from such partisan law enforcers. As in other recent episodes of violence in Delhi, here too, instead of protecting the vulnerable, the police could be seen backing the Hindutva mobs in their attacks Muslims. The fact that the Delhi high court’s intervention was needed before the police agreed to ferry victims of the violence to safety tells its own appalling story.

The continued dereliction of duty without fear of punitive action has created a situation that is alarming for any civilised nation. The images flooding television screens for the past few nights, along with reports by journalists from numerous organisations who had all been subject to the mob’s vicious attacks, brought back stark memories of 1984 – the last time Delhi was in the throes of such organised communal violence – or 2002, when the state of Gujarat under Narendra Modi burned for weeks.

Second, the role of BJP and Sangh parivar leaders throughout this period has been reprehensible. Apart from Kapil Mishra, party legislators and functionaries have either openly inciting anti-Muslim hatred or helped demonise the anti-CAA protests – which have all been peaceful – as anti-national. While Union home minister Amit Shah has been missing in action, the junior home minister has now set his sights on the media – demanding action against news platforms whose reports of the violence have proved embarrassing for the government.

Regrettably, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which won a landslide against the BJP in Delhi’s assembly polls last month, has also miserably failed to rise to the occasion. Granted, law and order is not in the state government’s hands. But rather than mark their presence in the embattled parts of the city, AAP leaders appeared to vanish from the scene. It would have been befitting of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to send out his legislators to the strife-torn areas where people were desperately seeking help.

The image of the chief minister alongside his deputy, Manish Sisodia, paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat added further insult to injury. Rather than take a proactive stance, the AAP chose to retreat into the shadows while Delhi was burning.

To be sure, AAP’s retreat pales in significance before the direct culpability of the BJP. Nobody should be under any illusion that the Delhi communal riots of 2020 are not a product of deliberate, attempts to polarise the country on religious grounds. The party leadership and its governments at the Centre and in states like Uttar Pradesh have, directly and indirectly, stoked hatred against Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hosted US President Donald Trump while Delhi burned, finally tweeted a tepid appeal for “peace and harmony” on Wednesday.

Given Delhi’s history, and his own, Modi’s silence for three days tells its own story.

Democrats See Trump As the Devil, But Bernie Is Something Worse…A Socialist!

At a raucous debate, Bernie Sanders was the target, but who really got hurt?

Bernie Sanders defended his progressive agenda in the debate on Tuesday.
Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times 

In case you were at all confused, Bernie Sanders is the apocalypse. Or something very close to it.

That was the message from his six rivals on Tuesday night at the latest and perhaps nastiest Democratic debate, which devolved at times into an oratorical melee of overlapping voices, overheated tempers and dire warnings about what would happen if Sanders, the current front-runner in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, becomes the party’s nominee. President Trump would get four more years. Several of the Democrats on the stage in Charleston, S.C., essentially guaranteed it.

And they scared the hell out of me. That’s only partly because I fear that they’re right about Sanders, whose past and even present are gold mines for material that Trump can use to portray him as an ideological fringe figure. It’s also because the candidates did it in an angry, panicked way that, if I were Trump, I’d edit into a campaign commercial and blanket the airwaves. Its tag line would be: “Even Democrats don’t trust Bernie Sanders. Why should you?”

Nomination contests often get ugly, with candidates in the same party — candidates with some of the same core values — belittling one another. But this felt different. This felt worse. This felt like a genuine freakout.

Sanders’s competitors weren’t just desperate to reverse his progress before Super Tuesday next week, when roughly a third of all delegates are awarded, so that one of them can overtake him. They seemed to be in the grip of some larger existential crisis, their understanding of their party’s dynamics challenged, their sense of its destiny upended and their dread of blowing an immeasurably consequential election profound.

Within the first 15 minutes, Mike Bloomberg attacked Sanders and then Elizabeth Warren did, and then Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Tom Steyer got in on the action. Amy Klobuchar joined the fray late but with no less exuberance. Together they pressed the case that Sanders’s proposals — for health care, education and more — were too uncompromising, too disruptive and too expensive, and that he had shown an inexplicable, suspicious softness toward authoritarian regimes around the world.

A few of them made clear that they don’t merely see Sanders as a less-than-ideal adversary for Trump. They see him as political suicide.

And as the candidates gave voice to that dark vision, they occasionally vaulted past fierce to feral. There were episodes when they spoke over one another, not just for a few sentences but for entire paragraphs, while the journalists moderating the debate watched helplessly. The worst of these involved Sanders and Buttigieg, who perhaps devoted the most energy to sounding the Sanders alarm.

After Bloomberg charged that Russians were interfering in the primary on Sanders’s behalf as a way of handing Trump his weakest opponent, Buttigieg chimed in: “They want chaos, and chaos is what is coming our way. I mean, look, if you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump. Think about what that will be like for this country.”

He later told Sanders that his nomination would jeopardize Democrats’ hard-won control of the House, saying that the scores of Democrats whose victories in 2018 gave the party its majority “are not running on your platform. They are running away from your platform as fast as they possibly can.”

Sanders, red-faced, shook his head. He did so much of that on Tuesday night it was as if he were a pioneer in neck aerobics.

But he also kept his cool and stood his ground, so that a night devoted in large part to wounding him probably left him with little more than a nick or two. He was able to say, correctly, that he beats Trump in polls that posit a hypothetical matchup of the two. He was able to cite, accurately, his impressive favorability ratings.

He was also able to step back during stretches of the debate when the ugliness didn’t focus on him — when the generally foul atmosphere pitted Biden against Steyer or Warren against Bloomberg, or Klobuchar against Biden.

Nobody really looked good, and that’s another big part of what spooked me. I was watching a political party devour itself. It was all so unpleasant — and so unflattering — that candidates took to commenting on how unpleasant and unflattering it was.

“I guess the only way you do this is to jump in and speak twice as long as you should,” Biden groused, as he delivered yet another debate performance in which he was obsessed with the clock, the rules and whether he should follow them when others didn’t.Klobuchar cautioned: “If we spend the next four months tearing our party apart, we’re going to watch Donald Trump spend the next four years tearing our country apart.” But before I could cheer, she proceeded to tear Sanders down. That’s the bind that she and other moderate Democrats are in. To press for a nominee less divisive than Sanders, they’re forced to behave in a manner that’s, well, divisive. It’s a Catch-22. Make that a Catch-2020.

The debate wasn’t just scary but sad, because when the vitriol waned, there were glimpses of just how much more prudent and better prepared than Trump all of these candidates are. There were glimmers of just how much more serious than the Republican Party the Democratic Party is.

Asked about the threat of the coronavirus, the candidates spoke authoritatively and compellingly about the Trump administration’s missteps and America’s vulnerability. They discussed science, something with which Trump has barely any relationship. They mentioned international cooperation, something for which Trump has scant respect.

Bloomberg, so awful when he made his debate debut last week, answered a question about public health and then a subsequent one about the legalization of marijuana in a nuanced, knowledgeable fashion, demonstrating that Trump’s problem isn’t that he’s a plutocrat. It’s that he’s an ignorant one.

But do Democrats have the antidote to that ignorance? I fervently believe that the vigor and durability of our democracy depend on it, and the debate’s rancor and noise filled me with apprehension.

Maybe there’s solace in Sanders’s final remarks, when he quoted Nelson Mandela: “Everything is impossible until it happens.” He meant that as an answer to his candidacy’s detractors. But I’ll interpret it as an assertion that Democrats will find their way through this mess.

Israeli Murder By Caterpillar Dozer—continuing, long-running saga

[Notice in this Rachel Corrie death scene video at 1:25, you see the dozer driver celebrating the brutal smashing of the little blonde “object”, i.e., Ms. Corrie.–ed ]
[Remember Rachel Corrie? (SEE: Remember Rachel Corrie–March 16, 2003)]

Israel hangs dead Palestinian from bulldozer

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian near the Gaza-Israel fence yesterday then carried his body away on a bulldozer, a video that has sparked outrage shows.

Filmed by a photographer working with the West Bank-based news agency Al-Hadath, the video show the lifeless body of 27-year-old Mohammed Al-Naem hanging from the bulldozer after he was shot dead along the Gaza-Israeli fence.

Al-Naem was a member of the Gaza-based Al-Quds Brigades, an armed wing of the resistance faction Palestinian Islamic JihadSafa news agency reported yesterday.

The bulldozer approached the body as Palestinians tried to recover Al-Naem’s corpse to avoid it being detained by occupation forces.

They were forced to flee as the vehicle approached them at speed, picked up Al-Naem’s body by his clothing and carried him away, he lifeless body is clearly visible as a tank nears to protect the Israeli machinery.

A number of Palestinians were injured in the attack, with one seen hopping away after he was shot in the leg by occupation forces.

Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett defended the military action stating that the military was trying to retrieve the body of “a terrorist”.

“This is how it should be done, and this is how it will be done,” he wrote.

“Israel intended to kill an unarmed young man, in front of the cameras of the whole world,” Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said.

“The abuse of his body right before the eyes of the entire world is a heinous crime that can be added to the other crimes against our people.”

Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has demanded a criminal investigation into the incident and sent a letter to the Israeli Chief Military Advocate General Sharon Afek, detailing that the actions “depicted in the video were viewed as war crimes and blatant violations of international criminal law, and international human rights and humanitarian law.”

WATCH: Israel bulldozes Palestinian protest in the West Bank

Turkish Brinkmanship Reaches A Dead End In Syria

It’s time to reclaim Syria’s road to recovery

Erdogan de facto supports al-Qaeda remnants while facing either humiliating retreat from or total war against Syria

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Syria’s main transport artery, the M5 highway, links Damascus with Aleppo. Image: iStock

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, neo-Ottoman extraordinaire, is not exactly inclined to commit seppuku, the Japanese act of ritual suicide.

But if not through the perspective of neo-Ottomanism, how to explain the fact he is de facto supporting al-Qaeda remnants in Syria while facing two unsavory options – a humiliating retreat from or total war against the Syrian Arab Army?

Everything about the slowly evolving, messy chessboard in Idlib hinges on highways: the imperative for the government in Damascus to control both the M5 highway between Damascus and Aleppo and the M4 highway between Latakia and Aleppo. Fully reclaiming these two crucial axes will finally turbo-charge the ailing Syrian economy.

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Very few players nowadays remember the all-important Sochi memorandum of understanding signed between Russia and Turkey in September 2018.

The Western spin was always about whether Damascus would comply. Nonsense. In the memorandum, Ankara guaranteed protection of civilian traffic on both highways. It’s Ankara that is not complying, not only in terms of ensuring that “radical terrorist groups” are out of the demilitarized zone, but especially on point number 8: “In the interests of ensuring free movement of local residents and goods, as well as restoring trade and economic ties, transit traffic along the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored before the end of 2018.”

Vast stretches of Idlib are in fact under the yoke of Hayat Tahrir al Shams (HTS), shorthand for al-Qaeda in Syria. Or “moderate rebels,” as they are known inside the Beltway – even though the United States government itself brands it as a terror organization.

For all practical purposes, the Erdogan system is supporting and weaponizing HTS in Idlib. When the SAA reacts against HTS’s attacks, Erdogan goes ballistic and threatens war.

The West uncritically buys Ankara propaganda. How dare the “Assad regime” take back the M5, which “had been under rebel control since 2012”? Erdogan is lauded for warning “Iran and Russia to end the support for the Assad regime.” NATO invariably condemns “attacks on Turkish troops.”

The official Ankara explanation for the Turkish presence in Idlib hinges on bringing reinforcements to “observation posts.” Nonsense. These posts are not meant to go away. On top of it, Ankara demands that the SAA should retreat to the positions it held months ago – away from Idlib.

There’s no way Damascus will “comply” because these Turkish troops are a de facto occupation body-protecting “moderate rebels” fighting for “democracy” who were decisively excluded by Moscow – and even Ankara – from the Sochi memorandum. One can’t make this stuff up.

Got airpower, will travel

Now let’s look at the facts on the ground – and in the skies. Moscow and Damascus control the airspace over Idlib. Su-34 jets patrol all of northwest Syrian territory. Moscow has warships – crammed with cruise missiles – deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The whole SAA offensive for these past few months to liberate national territory has been a graphic demonstration of top Russian intel – planning, execution, logistics.

What’s being set up is a classic cauldron – a Southwest Asia replica of the cauldron in Donbass in 2014 that destroyed Kiev’s army. The SAA is encircling the Turks from the north, east and south. There will be only one way out for the Turks: the border crossing at Bab al-Hawa. Back to Turkey.

Facing certified disaster, no wonder Erdogan had to talk “de-escalation” with Putin on Tuesday. The red lines, from Moscow’s side, are immutable: the highways will be liberated (according to the Sochi agreement). The neo-Ottoman sultan can’t afford a war with Russia. So, yes: he’s bluffing.

But why is he bluffing? There are three main possibilities. 1) Washington is forcing him to, pledging full support to “our NATO ally.”  2) The Turkish Armed Forces cannot afford to lose face. 3) The “moderate rebels” don’t give a damn about Ankara.

Option 1 seems the most plausible – even as Erdogan is being actually forced to directly confront a Moscow with which he has signed extremely important economic/energy contracts. Erdogan may not be a General Zhukov, but he knows that a bunch of jihadis and only 6,000 demoralized Turkish soldiers stand no chance against the SAA and Russian airpower.

It’s enlightening to compare the current Turkish predicament with the Turk/Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxy gang alliance when they were fighting the Kurds in Afrin.

Ankara then had control of the skies and enormous artillery advantage – from their side of the border. Now Syria/Russia rules the skies and Turkish artillery simply cannot get into Idlib. Not to mention that supply lines are dreadful.

Neo-Ottomanism, revisited

So what is Erdogan up to? What’s happening is Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood network is now managing Idlib on the ground – a fascinating repositioning gambit able to ensure that Erdogan remains a strongman with whom Bashar al-Assad will have to talk business when the right time comes.

Erdogan’s partial endgame will be to “sell” to Assad that ultimately he was responsible for getting rid of the HTS/FSA jihadi nebulae. Meanwhile, circus prevails – or, rather, a lousy opera, with Erdogan once again relishing playing the bad guy. He knows Damascus has all but won a vicious nine-year proxy war – and is reclaiming all of its sovereign territory. There’s no turning back.

And that brings us to the complex dynamics of the Turkish-Iranian puzzle. One should always remember that both are members of the  Astana peace process, alongside Russia. On Syria, Tehran supported Damascus from the start while Ankara bet on – and weaponized – the “democratic freedom fighter” jihadi nebulae.

From the 16th century to the 19th, Shi’ite Iran and the Sunni Ottoman empire were engaged in non-stop mutual containment. And under the banner of Islam, Turkey de facto ruled over the Arab world.

Jump cut, in the 21st century, to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who codified neo-Ottomanism. Davutoglu came up with the idea that eastern Anatolia did not end with the borders with Armenia and Iran but extended to the western coast of the Caspian Sea. And he also came up with the idea that eastern Anatolia did not end at the borders with Iraq and Syria – but extended all the way to Mosul.

Essentially, Davutoglu argued that the Middle East had to be Turkey’s backyard. And Syria would be the golden gate through which Turkey would “recover” the Middle East.

All these elaborate plans now lie in dust. The Big Picture, of course, remains: the US determined by all means necessary to prevent Eurasian unity, and the Russia-China strategic partnership from having access to maritime routes, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean through Syria via Iran.

The micro-picture is way more prosaic. It comes down to Erdogan making sure his occupying troops do not get routed by Assad’s army. How the mighty (neo-Ottoman) have fallen.

Trump Reinforces Republican Anti-Cannabis Bias…Look For Inevitable “Witch Hunt” To Eliminate Medical Marijuana

Donald Trump previously supported states considering marijuana legalization, but that could be changing.
Donald Trump previously supported states considering marijuana legalization, but that could be changing. (Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images)

Analysts previously predicted Donald Trump might support marijuana legalization to boost his chances of re-election this year. Instead, the opposite has happened. The Trump Administration has proposed removing medical marijuana protections in the 2021 fiscal budget and leaked audio revealed the President’s belief that smoking weed makes you dumb.

Trump has done little to reverse this appearance of an anti-marijuana sentiment building in the White House. Rather, a top Trump campaign spokesman doubled down and said marijuana should remain illegal at the federal level. During an interview with Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS-TV, Marc Lotter, who serves as director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, was asked about the President’s stance on changing federal cannabis laws.

“I think the president is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent—a parent of a young person—to make sure we keep our kids away from drugs,” Lotter said. “They need to be kept illegal. That is the federal policy.”

This complicates what Trump stated during his 2016 campaign and time in the White House. Previously, Trump supported leaving marijuana legalization to the states and voiced support for the STATES Act, bipartisan legislation that would prohibit federal prosecution for those living in states with legal cannabis.

“I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level. I know many states have taken a different path,” Lotter said.

It could also signal a change in political strategy from the president in the upcoming election. Outside candidates Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg, the Democratic presidential nominee will support legalizing cannabis at the federal level. Trump could see it as an advantage to position himself opposite of his eventual opponent. For now, Trump appears comfortable allowing himself being seen as someone who will uphold federal cannabis prohibition.

Said Lotter, “If he changes that, obviously that would be something I wouldn’t want to get out in front of him on that.”

The Fresh Toast is a daily lifestyle platform with a side of cannabis. For more information, visit www.thefreshtoast.com.

Copyright: © 2020 The Fresh Toast.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

Turkey Asks U.S. For 2 Patriot Missile Batteries, To Block Russian Air Support To Syrian Troops

US official confirms Turkey asked for Patriot missiles

Anonymous official says request was made ‘recently’
Kasim Ileri   |21.02.2020
US official confirms Turkey asked for Patriot missiles

WASHINGTON

The Turkish government recently asked the U.S. to deploy Patriot air defense systems on Turkey’s southern border, a U.S. official said Thursday.

“We’re aware of a request for Patriot systems but understand no decision has been made,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said the request had been made “recently.”

Earlier in the day, citing a Turkish official in Ankara, Bloomberg reported that Turkey asked the U.S. to deploy two Patriot missile-defense batteries “to free it to punish any future attacks” by Syrian regime forces backed by Russia.

In the latest exchange between Turkish and Syrian regime forces Thursday, two Turkish soldiers were martyred and five injured in airstrikes on Turkish elements in Idlib, northwestern Syria, said Turkey’s National Defense Ministry.

In retaliation, Turkish forces neutralized more than 50 regime elements and destroyed five tanks, two armored personnel vehicles, two armed pickups and one howitzer, the ministry said on Twitter.

Responding to Turkish soldiers being martyred by Assad regime forces in recent weeks, Turkey has swiftly retaliated, neutralizing hundreds of Syrian troops and warning that it will not tolerate any Turkish soldiers coming to harm.

*Servet Gunerigok contributed to this story

NYT Publishes Opinion Letter From Taliban Leader Sirajuddin Haqqani Urging Support For New Peace Deal

I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop, the deputy leader of the Taliban writes.

By 

Mr. Haqqani is the deputy leader of the Taliban.

A man waving an Afghan flag during an Independence Day celebration in Kabul in 2019.
Credit…Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press

When our representatives started negotiating with the United States in 2018, our confidence that the talks would yield results was close to zero. We did not trust American intentions after 18 years of war and several previous attempts at negotiation that had proved futile.

Nevertheless, we decided to try once more. The long war has exacted a terrible cost from everyone. We thought it unwise to dismiss any potential opportunity for peace no matter how meager the prospects of its success. For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day. Everyone has lost somebody they loved. Everyone is tired of war. I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop.

We did not choose our war with the foreign coalition led by the United States. We were forced to defend ourselves. The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand. That we today stand at the threshold of a peace agreement with the United States is no small milestone.

Our negotiation team, led by my colleagues Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Sher Mohammed Abas Stanekzai, has worked tirelessly for the past 18 months with the American negotiators to make an agreement possible. We stuck with the talks despite recurring disquiet and upset within our ranks over the intensified bombing campaign against our villages by the United States and the flip-flopping and ever-moving goal posts of the American side.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second from left, with members of a Taliban delegation in Russia in 2019.
Credit…Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

Even when President Trump called off the talks, we kept the door to peace open because we Afghans suffer the most from the continuation of the war. No peace agreement, following on the heels of such intensive talks, comes without mutual compromises. That we stuck with such turbulent talks with the enemy we have fought bitterly for two decades, even as death rained from the sky, testifies to our commitment to ending the hostilities and bringing peace to our country.

We are aware of the concerns and questions in and outside Afghanistan about the kind of government we would have after the foreign troops withdraw. My response to such concerns is that it will depend on a consensus among Afghans. We should not let our worries get in the way of a process of genuine discussion and deliberation free for the first time from foreign domination and interference.
It is important that no one front-loads this process with predetermined outcomes and preconditions. We are committed to working with other parties in a consultative manner of genuine respect to agree on a new, inclusive political system in which the voice of every Afghan is reflected and where no Afghan feels excluded.

I am confident that, liberated from foreign domination and interference, we together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected, and where merit is the basis for equal opportunity.

We are also aware of concerns about the potential of Afghanistan being used by disruptive groups to threaten regional and world security. But these concerns are inflated: Reports about foreign groups in Afghanistan are politically motivated exaggerations by the warmongering players on all sides of the war.

It is not in the interest of any Afghan to allow such groups to hijack our country and turn it into a battleground. We have already suffered enough from foreign interventions. We will take all measures in partnership with other Afghans to make sure the new Afghanistan is a bastion of stability and that nobody feels threatened on our soil.

We are conscious of the immense challenges ahead. Perhaps our biggest challenge is to ensure that various Afghan groups work hard and sincerely toward defining our common future. I am confident that it is possible. If we can reach an agreement with a foreign enemy, we must be able to resolve intra-Afghan disagreements through talks.

Another challenge will be keeping the international community interested and positively engaged during the transition to peace and after the withdrawal of foreign troops. The support of the international community will be crucial to stabilizing and developing Afghanistan.

We are ready to work on the basis of mutual respect with our international partners on long-term peace-building and reconstruction. After the United States withdraws its troops, it can play a constructive role in the postwar development and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

We acknowledge the importance of maintaining friendly relations with all countries and take their concerns seriously. Afghanistan cannot afford to live in isolation. The new Afghanistan will be a responsible member of the international community.

More immediately, there will be the challenge of putting into effect our agreement with the United States. A degree of trust has been built through our talks with the American negotiators in Doha, Qatar, but just as the United States does not trust us completely, we too are very far from fully trusting it.

We are about to sign an agreement with the United States and we are fully committed to carrying out its every single provision, in letter and spirit. Achieving the potential of the agreement, ensuring its success and earning lasting peace will depend on an equally scrupulous observance by the United States of each of its commitments. Only then can we have complete trust and lay the foundation for cooperation — or even a partnership — in the future.

My fellow Afghans will soon celebrate this historic agreement. Once it is entirely fulfilled, Afghans will see the departure of all foreign troops. As we arrive at this milestone, I believe it is not a distant dream that we will soon see the day when we will come together with all our Afghan brothers and sisters, start moving toward lasting peace and lay the foundation of a new Afghanistan.

We would then celebrate a new beginning that invites all our compatriots to return from their exile to our country — to our shared home where everybody would have the right to live with dignity, in peace.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is the deputy leader of the Taliban.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

US/Taliban To Sign Reduction of Violence Agreement

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the Council of Ministers on Monday said that the peace agreement between the Taliban and US has been “finalized.”

“The agreement between the Taliban and US has been finalized and the signing of the agreement is based on the reduction in violence over seven-days and then it will continue,” Abdullah said.

“It also an opportunity for the opposite side to show that they want peace in the country,” Abdullah said.

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan’s Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, tweeted updates about progress in the peace process, noting the reduction in violence agreement between the US and Taliban, but stressed that “success cannot be guaranteed.”

Khalilzad reported on Twitter that he had met with President Ashraf Ghani in Munich on Friday and held a series of meetings with leaders and representatives from different countries.

Khalilzad also mentioned a “prolonged and fruitful” trip to Doha before attending the Munich Security Conference.

During a meeting with President Ghani, Khalilzad said the two “spoke about the opportunity of this reduction in violence and the imperative of preparing for an inclusive Afghan peace process.”

“We urge all Afghans to seize the moment and end the misery of more than four decades of war,” Khalilzad said.

Khalilzad said he briefed leaders at the Munich Security Conference about the peace process and “also discussed next steps and committed to working together on the difficult and complicated road ahead.”

PRO-ISRAEL LOBBY CAUGHT ON TAPE BOASTING THAT JEWISH MONEY BUYS INFLUENCE IN WASHINGTON

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), participated in a panel discussion, at the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 5, 2018. (Photo by Cheriss May)(Sipa via AP Images)
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., participated in a panel discussion, at the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference, in Washington, D.C., on March 5, 2018. Photo: Cheriss May/Sipa via AP Images

A DEBATE ABOUT the power in Washington of the pro-Israel lobby is underway, after Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., responded sharply to reports that Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was targeting both Omar and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan.

Omar quoted rap lyrics — “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” — to suggest McCarthy’s move was driven by the lobby’s prolific spending. Asked specifically who she was referring to, Omar responded, “AIPAC!”

The debate over the influence of pro-Israel groups could be informed by an investigation by Al Jazeera, in which an undercover reporter infiltrated the Israel Project, a Washington-based group, and secretly recorded conversations about political strategy and influence over a six-month period in 2016. That investigation, however, was never aired by the network — suppressed by pressure from the pro-Israel lobby.

In November, Electronic Intifada obtained and published the four-part series, but it did so during the week of the midterm elections, and the documentary did not get a lot of attention then.

In it, leaders of the pro-Israel lobby speak openly about how they use money to influence the political process, in ways so blunt that if the comments were made by critics, they’d be charged with anti-Semitism.

“Congressmen and senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them.”

David Ochs, founder of HaLev, which helps send young people to American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference, described for the reporter how AIPAC and its donors organize fundraisers outside the official umbrella of the organization, so that the money doesn’t show up on disclosures as coming specifically from AIPAC. He describes one group that organizes fundraisers in both Washington and New York. “This is the biggest ad hoc political group, definitely the wealthiest, in D.C.,” Ochs says, adding that it has no official name, but is clearly tied to AIPAC. “It’s the AIPAC group. It makes a difference; it really, really does. It’s the best bang for your buck, and the networking is phenomenal.” (Ochs and AIPAC did not immediately return The Intercept’s requests for comment.)

Without spending money, Ochs argues, the pro-Israel lobby isn’t able to enact its agenda. “Congressmen and senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them, and the only way to do that is with money,” he explains.

He describes a fundraiser for Anthony Brown, a Democrat running for Congress in Maryland, as typical. “So we want the Jewish community to go face to face in this small environment, 50, 30, 40 people, and say, ‘This is what’s important to us. We want to make sure that if we give you money, that you’re going to enforce the Iran deal.’ That way, when they need something from him or her, like the Iran deal, they can quickly mobilize and say look, we’ll give you 30 grand. They actually impact,” Ochs tells the reporter.

Such a claim is not so different from what Omar was describing, and for which she was roundly condemned. In the wake of Omar’s tweets, the Washington Post, for instance, reported, “The American Jewish Committee demanded an apology, calling her suggestion that AIPAC is paying American politicians for their support ‘demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic.’” (On Monday, Omar apologized for her tweets, but insisted that AIPAC and other lobbyist groups are harmful to U.S. politics.)

In the censored documentary, Ochs went on to describe a fundraiser hosted by Jeff Talpins, a hedge fund giant, as similar as well. “In New York, with Jeff Talpins, we don’t ask a goddamn thing about the fucking Palestinians. You know why? ’Cause it’s a tiny issue. It’s a small, insignificant issue. The big issue is Iran. We want everything focused on Iran,” Ochs says. “What happens is Jeff meets with the congressman in the back room, tells them exactly what his goals are — and by the way, Jeff Talpins is worth $250 million — basically they hand him an envelope with 20 credit cards, and say, ‘You can swipe each of these credit cards for a thousand dollars each.’”

Ochs explains that the club in New York required a minimum pledge of $10,000 to join and participate in such events. “It’s a minimum commitment. Some people give a lot more than that.”

AIPAC, on its own website, recruits members to join its “Congressional Club,” and commit to give at least $5,000 per election cycle.

Eric Gallagher, a top official at AIPAC from 2010 to 2015, tells the Al Jazeera reporter that AIPAC gets results. “Getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did,” he notes at one secretly recorded lunch. “Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress.”

The film, called “The Lobby,” was produced by Al Jazeera’s investigative unit, and features hidden-camera footage obtained by the reporter, who posed as a Jewish, pro-Israel activist from Britain who wanted to volunteer with the Israel Project.

Outfitted with a luxury apartment in Dupont Circle, the reporter hosted multiple gatherings and otherwise socialized broadly within the pro-Israel community, winning the confidence of senior officials, who divulged insider details, many of which have been leaked and created international news.

A companion version of the film, which looked at the Israel lobby’s influence in the United Kingdom, did make it to air and was the subject of intense controversy. It exposed a plot by an Israeli embassy official in the United Kingdom to “take down” pro-Palestinian members of Parliament, leading to his resignation.

That film, however, included a snippet of footage from the United States. Officials here quickly realized that they, too, had been infiltrated. In the U.K., the Israel lobby lodged an official complaint claiming the series was anti-Semitic, but the U.K.’s communications agency rejected the claim, finding that “the allegations in the programme were not made on the grounds that any of the particular individuals concerned were Jewish and noted that no claims were made relating to their faith.”

Pro-Israel officials in the United States, rather than file an official complaint, exerted political pressure. A bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers wrote to the Justice Department requesting an investigation into “the full range of activities undertaken by Al Jazeera in the United States,” and suggesting that the organization be made to register as a foreign agent. Ultimately, Qatar bent to the pressure and killed the documentary.

Trump Mafia Invokes Emergency Economic Powers In Attempt To Steal Nord Stream 2 Gas Market

  • Gazprom won’t complete Nord Stream 2 link, Brouillette says
  • Trump administration will continue efforts to halt project
A section of pipe at the landing site of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, operated by Gazprom PJSC, in Lubmin, Germany. 
A section of pipe at the landing site of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, operated by Gazprom PJSC, in Lubmin, Germany.  Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s top energy official said he’s confident that Russia won’t be able to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea — and signaled that the U.S. will press forward with its opposition to the project.

Asked about Russian efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions on the pipeline by completing it on its own, U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said “they can’t” — and dismissed claims that project owner Gazprom PJSC will face only a short delay.

“It’s going to be a very long delay, because Russia doesn’t have the technology,” Brouillette said in an interview at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. “If they develop it, we’ll see what they do. But I don’t think it’s as easy as saying, well, we’re almost there, we’re just going to finish it.”

The pipeline, which would pump as much as 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from fields in Siberia directly to Germany, has become a focus for geopolitical tensions across the Atlantic. Trump has assailed Germany for giving “billions” to Russia for gas while it benefits from U.S. protection.

Nord Stream 2’s owners had invested 5.8 billion euros ($6.3 billion) in the project by May 2019, according to company documents.

“It’s distressing to Americans that, you know, Germany in particular and others in Europe would rely upon the Russians to such a great degree,” Brouillette said, adding that he is unaware of additional sanctions should Russia move to defy the U.S.

Even as he spoke, signs emerged that Gazprom’s attempts at completion may be underway. A Russian pipe-laying vessel, the Akademik Cherskiy, left the port where it had been stationed in Nakhodka on Russia’s Pacific coast last Sunday. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak last year mentioned that vessel as an option to complete the pipeline in Denmark’s waters. The vessel is now expected to arrive in Singapore on Feb. 22, according to ship-tracking data on Bloomberg.

relates to U.S. Says It Has Thwarted $6 Billion Russia-Germany Gas Pipeline

Akademik Cherskiy pipe-laying vessel started moving, only to indicate Singapore as its next indication

While Gazprom has said it’s looking at options to complete the pipeline, it hasn’t given any details on where it will find the ship to do the work. One of the pipeline’s financial backers, Austrian gas and oil company OMV AG, has predicted that the Russians will follow through.
relates to U.S. Says It Has Thwarted $6 Billion Russia-Germany Gas Pipeline

 

The pipeline was just weeks away from completion, with 94% already constructed, when U.S. sanctions halted work. There’s a small section in Denmark’s waters that needs to be finished. Before the halt, Nord Stream 2 hoped to finish construction by the end of 2019 or in the first few months of this year. That would allow gas deliveries in time to supply Europe by winter 2020-2021.

Besides OMV, Nord Stream 2’s other European backers are Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Uniper SE, Engie SA and Wintershall AG.

 

 

Why Isn’t the Next Election About War and Peace?

Give Us One Debate About War and Peace

We need to know what the candidates think about the global chaos of undeclared wars, ill-defined missions, and the abandonment of those missions in places like Syria.

Fifty years ago today, millions of Americans joined epic anti-war protests in Washington, DC, and across the United States. Organized by young activists who had cut their teeth on the peace politics of the 1968 Democratic primary between candidates Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy, the October 15, 1969, Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam took the movement back to the streets for mass demonstrations, as students activists joined newly formed “Veterans for Peace” chapters, civil rights activists, migrant farmworkers, CEOs, and socialists to declare that it was time to give peace a chance.

The Moratorium was everywhere, from the steps of the Douglas County Courthouse in Omaha, Nebraska, to Trinity Church at the head of Wall Street in New York City. In Washington, a quarter-million Americans joined in a candlelight march from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House. They were led by Coretta Scott King, who hailed the nonviolent protests as a continuation of the campaigning of her late husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., for an end to the war that had diverted so much energy and so many resources from the struggle for economic and social justice at home.

It is by chance that the 50th anniversary of the Moratorium falls this year on the same day as the fourth round of Democratic presidential debates. Today’s Democratic Party leadership is neither so historically inclined nor so prescient to have timed a debate with an eye toward highlighting the contribution of peace movements and peace candidates.

This Democratic Party is different from the one that rejected its anti-war contenders in 1968. But it’s still a party that struggles to define itself when it comes to questions of war and peace, interventions abroad, and bloated military budgets. That’s just one reason it makes sense to demand what we will not get tonight: a debate focused exclusively on issues of war and peace, militarism and imperialism, instead of anecdotal discussions that touch on a past vote or the latest crisis created by President Trump, Democrats need to have a full and robust debate on these issues and issues like them.

I have argued before and will keep arguing that the Democrats should schedule an issue-focused debate on the climate crisis. It is absurd for the candidates to refer to climate change as the existential crisis of our time and yet hold debates in which the crisis is discussed for a few minutes on the way to another review of where the candidates stand on the issues they have already pontificated upon.

The climate debate deserves its own debate night because it’s about the future of our species. The war-and-peace debate deserves its own night for the same reason.

Anyone who doubts this should pause and consider the complex questions that have arisen since President Trump ordered US troops to leave northern Syria, giving Turkey the green light to attack the Kurds and create violent chaos that extends with each passing day. Should the United States have had troops in Syria in the first place? Why were those troops dispatched to Syria without a formal congressional debate and declaration of war? And what responsibility does a president have—once troops have been sent into a conflict zone and alliances have been formed—to end the deployment thoughtfully and ethically?

Now, multiply those questions out to cover all the regions of the world to which US troops have been deployed. Start asking about all the expenses—human, diplomatic, and economic—that result from those deployments. And get a simple “yes” or “no” from each presidential candidate on whether they agree with Representative Ro Rhanna when he says that “Congress decides when we go to war. That is a fundamental aspect of our system of checks and balances.”

It is clear that there are more than enough topics for what would be much more than a single-issue debate. It would pin down former vice president Joe Biden, who seems to be a bit confused about the meaning (and lasting consequences) of his vote to authorize the Iraq invasion. That’s just one of the issues Biden needs to more thoroughly address.

But it’s not just about Biden. A war-and-peace debate would give candidates who have thought these issues through a chance to shine—and to help advance the conversation. I’ve talked with a number of the contenders about war-and-peace issues and, frankly, I’ve been impressed. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is right when he says, “We need to rethink the militaristic approach that has undermined the United States’ moral authority, caused allies to question our ability to lead, drained our tax coffers, and corroded our own democracy.”

So, too, is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who made a lot of sense in September when she told the Council on Foreign Relations, “Our repeated mistake has been to ignore the relationship between a strong and vibrant America and our effectiveness at advancing our interests abroad. By treating foreign policy as separate from domestic policy, we have repeatedly misspent our strength overseas while leaving vital needs at home unattended. We have the world’s largest economy but have failed to pursue foreign policies that prioritize American workers. We have the world’s strongest military, but we fight too many wars.”

A lot of the signals that are being sent by these candidates are good. But it is one thing to present a position paper or answer a few questions. It is something else altogether to debate the issues, to identify differences between the contenders and to see how comfortable the candidates are with these issues. That’s a debate that the Democrats need to have.

US Airstrike hits Syria regime military bases in Hasakah

US hits Syria regime military bases in Hasakah

Syrian Air Force fighter jet [file photo]

Syrian Air Force fighter jet [file photo]

US forces killed a Syrian regime fighter and targeted two regime military bases in air strikes in Al-Hasakah, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

“A civilian was killed by the American occupation forces shooting at the residents of Khirbat Amo village, east of Qamishli, who gathered at a Syrian Arab Army checkpoint to prevent US vehicles from passing,” the agency quoted its correspondent in Al-Hasakah saying.

Tensions have soared in Al-Hasakah Governorate of northeastern Syria in recent weeks, as the continued presence of US military personnel has angered locals.

US troops began building a military base in Al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria at a time when the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) have increased their presence along the Syrian-Iraqi border. 

The area is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which are backed by America.

Saudi Prince Turki Blasts Trump “Peace Plan” For Palestine “A Frankenstein Creation”

  • The U.S. unveiled its long-awaited peace initiative for an Israeli-Palestinian deal with great fanfare late last month.

  • The proposal, which Trump delivered standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would give Israel most of what it has sought during decades of conflict.

  • “What I have seen so far of that deal is that it is trying to make of Palestine what I can call a Frankenstein creation,” Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki Al Faisal told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Tuesday.

Saudi politician: Trump’s Middle East deal a ‘monstrous conception’ of Palestine

President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan is a “monstrous conception” of a Palestinian state that is not going to progress any further, according to a former chief of Saudi intelligence.

The U.S. unveiled its long-awaited peace initiative for an Israeli-Palestinian deal with great fanfare late last month.

The proposal, which Trump delivered standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would give Israel most of what it has sought during decades of conflict. This includes the disputed city of Jerusalem and recognition of Israeli sovereignty over settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Palestine has rejected the U.S. proposal outright, while Israel strongly supports it.

“What I have seen so far of that deal is that it is trying to make of Palestine what I can call a Frankenstein creation,” Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki Al Faisal told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the Milken Institute MENA Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

It is “generally just a monstrous conception of a Palestinian state. It’s rightful capital Jerusalem is stripped from it, so that takes away its heart, and its borders are undefined and that takes away its soul.”

“So, it is not going to go very far — not only in our part of the world — but the whole world has rejected it,” Al Faisal said.

The White House was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC on Tuesday.

A ‘step back’ on Palestine

His comments come one week after the European Union rejected parts of Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East.

The bloc, which took time to respond in order to allow for unanimity from all of its members, said on Feb. 4 that the plan departed from “internationally agreed parameters,” Reuters reported.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has since described the EU’s position as “regrettable and, to say the least, odd.”

When asked about the perception of the Trump administration in the region, Al Faisal replied: “On Palestine, definitely it is a step back, as I told you. They have abandoned all of the legitimate history and weight of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and adopted a course that is very much one-sided.”

“As far as Iran is concerned, he’s definitely, in my view, taken the right course. Because the nuclear deal allowed Iran, instead of becoming a constructive partner in the Middle East, to be a destructive player in the Middle East.”

“So, reconvening that negotiation and that deal is what he’s offering. The Iranians have not accepted renegotiating the deal and I think they should,” Al Faisal said.

America the Blind Empire…voluntarily blind and self-hypnotized

[Great find by Greencrow]

The United States of America’s Doll House – The Foundational Philosophy of this Blog has finally been Written

Good Reading for a Saturday morning over coffee. Edward Curtin has finally assembled a comprehensive philosophy of the Internet Truthers’ tiny but vocal minority in our Western society. I was going to snip relevant passages of the article below and comment on them but Curtain’s tour de force demands to be read in full and absorbed in its richness of prose and ideas.

All I can say is that I’m glad to have lived long enough to see all the drums I’ve been beating on since 2006 when I started this blog brought together in magnificent cohesion. It all DOES date back to November 22, 1963...as I’ve said over and over again. Please read:

*****************

The United States of America’s Doll House

 

A Vast Tapestry of Lies and Illusions

Edward Curtin

“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” – Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 2005

While truth-tellers Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning sit inside jail cells and Edward Snowden lives in exile in Russia, the American people hole up in an illusionary dwelling constructed to reduce them to children afraid of the truth. Or is it the dark? This is not new; it has been so for a very long time, but it has become a more sophisticated haunted doll’s house, an electronic one with many bells and whistles and images that move faster than the eye can see. We now inhabit a digital technological nightmare controlled by government and corporate forces intent on dominating every aspect of people’s lives. This is true despite the valiant efforts of dissidents to use the technology for human liberation. The old wooden doll houses, where you needed small fingers to rearrange the furniture, now only need thumbs that can click you into your cell’s fantasy world. So many dwell there in the fabricated reality otherwise known as propaganda. The result is mass hallucination.

In a 1969 interview, Jim Garrison, the District Attorney of New Orleans and the only person to ever bring to trial a case involving the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, said that as a result of the CIA’s murderous coup d’état on behalf of the military-industrial-financial-media-intelligence complex that rules the country to this day, the American people have been subjected to a fabricated reality that has rendered them a nation of passive Eichmanns, who sit in their living rooms, popping pills and watching television as their country’s military machine mows down people by the millions and the announcers tell them all the things they should be afraid of, such as bacteria on cutting boards and Russian spies infiltrating their hair salons. Garrison said:

The creation of such inanities as acceptable reality and unacceptable reality is necessary for the self-preservation of the super-state against its greatest danger: understanding on the part of the people as to what is really happening. All factors which contribute to its burgeoning power are exaggerated. All factors which might reveal its corrosive effect on the nation are concealed. The result is to place the populace in the position of persons living in a house whose windows no longer reveal the outside but on which murals have been painted. Some of the murals are frightening and have the effect of reminding the occupants of the outside menaces against which the paternal war machine is protecting them. Other murals are pleasant to remind them how nice things are inside the house.


But to live like this is to live in a doll’s house. If life has one lesson to teach us, it is that to live in illusion is ultimately disastrous.

In the doll’s house into which America gradually has been converted, a great many of our basic assumptions are totally illusory.[1]Interview with Jim Garrison, District Attorney of Parish of Orleans, Louisiana, May 27, 1969, kennedysandking.com

Fifty years have disappeared behind us since the eloquent and courageous Garrison (read On the Trail of the Assassins) metaphorically voiced the truth, despite the CIA’s persistent efforts to paint him as an unhinged lunatic through its media mouthpieces. These days they would probably just lock him up or send him fleeing across borders, as with Assange, Manning, and Snowden.

It is stunning to take a cue from his comment regarding the JFK assassination, when he suggested that one reverse the lone assassin scenario and place it in the U.S.S.R. No American could possibly believe a tale that a former Russian soldier, trained in English and having served at a top Soviet secret military base, who had defected to the U.S. and then returned home with the help of the K.G.B., could kill the Russian Premier with a defective and shoddy rifle and then be shot to death in police headquarters in Moscow by a K.G.B. connected hit man so there would be no trial and the K.G.B. would go scot free. That would be a howler! So too, of course, are the Warren Commission’s fictions about Oswald.

Snowden, Assange, and Manning

If we then update this mental exercise and imagine that Snowden, Assange, and Manning were all Russian, and that they released information about Russian war crimes, political corruption, and a system of total electronic surveillance of the Russian population, and were then jailed or sent fleeing into exile as a result, who in the U.S., liberal, libertarian or conservative, would possibly believe the Russian government’s accusations that these three were criminals.

Nevertheless, Barack Obama, the transparency president, made sure to treat them as such, all the while parading as a “liberal” concerned for freedom of speech and the First Amendment. He made sure that Snowden and Manning were charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, and that Assange was corralled via false Swedish sex charges so he had to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (a form of jail). He brought Espionage Act prosecutions against eight people, more than all former presidents combined. He hypocritically pardoned Manning on his way out the door as if this would polish his deluded liberal legacy after making her suffer terribly through seven years of imprisonment. He set the stage for Trump to re-jail Manning to try to get this most courageous woman to testify against Assange, which she will not do, and for the collaborationist British government to jail Assange in preparation for his extradition to the United States and a show trial. As for Snowden, he has been relegated to invisibility, good for news headlines once and for a movie, but now gone and forgotten.

Obama and Trump, arch political “enemies,” have made sure that those who reveal the sordid acts of the American murderous state are cruelly punished and silenced. This is how the system works, and for most Americans, it is not happening. It doesn’t matter. They don’t care, just as they don’t care that Obama backed the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras that has resulted in so many deaths at the hands of U.S trained killers, and then Trump ranted about all these “non-white” people fleeing to the U.S. to escape a hell created by the U.S., as it has been doing throughout Latin America for so long. Who does care about the truth? Has anyone even noticed how the corporate media has disappeared the “news” of all those desperate people clamoring to enter the U.S.A. from Mexico? One day they were there and in the headlines; the next day, gone. It’s called news.

The Sleepwalkers

But even though a majority of Americans have never believed the government’s explanation for JFK’s murder, they nevertheless have insouciantly gone to sleep for half a century in the doll’s house of illusions as the killing and the lies of their own government have increased over the years and any semblance of a democratic and peaceful America has gone extinct. The fates of courageous whistle-blowers Assange, Manning, and Snowden don’t concern them. The fates of Hondurans don’t concern them. The fates of Syrians don’t concern them. The fates of Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis, Palestinians don’t concern them. The fates of America’s victims all around the world don’t concern them. Indifference reigns.

Obviously, if you are reading this, you are not one of the sleepwalkers and are awake to the parade of endless lies and illusions and do care. But you are in a minority.

That is not the case for most Americans. When approximately 129 million people cast their votes for Donald Trump and HilIary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, you know idiocy reigns and nothing has been learned. Ditto for the votes for Obama, Bush, Clinton, et al. You can keep counting back. It is an ugly fact and sad to say. Such a repetition compulsion is a sign of a deep sickness, and it will no doubt be repeated in the 2020 election. The systemic illusion must be preserved at all costs and the warfare state supported in its killing. It is the American way.

It is true that average Americans have not built the doll’s house; that is the handiwork of the vast interconnected and far-reaching propaganda arms of the U.S. government and their media accomplices. But that does not render them innocent for accepting decades of fabricated reality for so-called peace of mind by believing that a totally corrupt system works. The will to believe is very powerful, as is the propaganda. The lesson that Garrison spoke of has been lost on far too many people, even on those who occasionally leave the doll house for a walk, but who only go slightly down the path for fear of seeing too much reality and connecting too many dots. There is plain ignorance, then there is culpable ignorance, to which I shall return.

Denying Existential Freedom

One of the first things an authoritarian governing elite must do is to convince people that they are not free. This has been going on for at least forty years, ever since the Church Committee’s revelations about the CIA in the mid-seventies, including its mind-control program, MKULTRA. Everyone was appalled at the epiphany, so a different tactic was added. Say those programs have been ended when in fact they were continued under other even deeper secret programs, and just have “experts” – social, psychological, and biological “scientists” – repeat ad infinitum that there is no longer any mind control since we now know there is no mind; it is an illusion, and it all comes down to the brain. Biology is destiny, except in culturally diversionary ways in which freedom to choose is extolled – e.g. the latest fashions, gender identity, the best hair style, etc. Create and lavishly fund programs for the study of the brain, while supporting and promoting a vast expansion of pharmaceutical drugs to control people. Do this in the name of helping people with their emotional and behavioral problems that are rooted in their biology and are beyond their control. And create criteria to convince people that they are sick and that their distress has nothing to do with the coup d’état that has rendered them “citizens” of a police state.

We have been interminably told that our lives revolve around our brains (our bodies) and that the answers to our problems lie with more brain research, drugs, genetic testing, etc. It is not coincidental that the U. S. government declared the 1990s the decade of brain research, followed up with 2000-2010 as the decade of the behavior project, and our present decade being devoted to mapping the brain and artificial intelligence, organized by the Office of Science and Technology Project and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). How convenient! George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump — what a difference! But this is science and the welfare of the world. Science for idiots.

Drip by drip, here and there, in the pattern of the best propaganda, as the French sociologist Jacques Ellul says – “for propaganda is not the touch of the magic wand. It is based on slow, constant impregnation. It creates conviction and compliance through imperceptible influences that are effective only by continuous repetition”[2]Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul, Vintage Books, 1973, pp. 17-18 – articles, books, media reports have reiterated that people are “determined” by biological, genetic, social, and psychological forces over which they have no control. To assert that people are free in the Sartrean sense (en soir, condemned to freedom, or free will) has come to be seen as the belief of a delusional fool living in the past , a bad philosopher, an anti-scientist, a poorly informed religionist, one nostalgic for existential cafes, Gauloises, and black berets. One who doesn’t grasp the truth since he doesn’t read the New York Times or watch CBS television. One who believes in nutty conspiracy theories.

The conventional propaganda – I almost said wisdom – created through decades-long media and academic repetition, is that we are not free.

Let me repeat: we are not free. We are not free.

Investigator reporter John Rappoport has consistently exposed the propaganda involved in the creation and expansion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) with its pseudo-scientific falsehoods and collusion between psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry. As he correctly notes, the CIA’s MKULTRA mind-control program has morphed into modern psychiatry, both with the same objectives of disabling and controlling people by convincing them that they are not free and are in need of a chemical brain bath.[3]“CIA mind control morphed into psychiatry?” Jon Rappoport, com, July 11, 2017

Can anyone with an awareness of this history doubt there is a hidden hand behind this development? Once you have convinced people that they are not free in the most profound sense, the rest is child’s play. Convinced that they are puppets, they become puppets to be willingly jerked around.

“He played with me just as I used to play with dolls,” says Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

Now who would want to get people to believe they were not free? The answer is obvious given a minute of thought. It is not just Nora’s husband Torvald.

Perfect examples of the persistence of the long-term, repetitive, impregnating propaganda appear in news headlines constantly. Here is an egregious example concerning the little understood case of the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. On Friday, August 30, 2019, Sirhan, who has been in prison for fifty-two years for the murder of RFK that he did not commit, was stabbed by another prisoner. A quick click through the MSM headlines reporting this showed the same words repeated by all the corporate media as they fulfilled their function as CIA stenographers. One example, from CBS News, will suffice: “Robert Kennedy assassin hospitalized after prison stabbing.”[4]“Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan hospitalized after prison stabbing,” Caroline Linton, CBS, August 31, 2019 RFK assassin, RFK assassin, RFK assassin … all the media said the same thing, which they have been doing for fifty-two years. Their persistency endures despite all the facts that refute their disinformation and show that Senator Kennedy, who was on his way to becoming president, was murdered, like his brother John, by forces of the national security state.

Sartre and Bad Faith

Lying and dissembling are ubiquitous. Being deceived by the media liars is mirrored in people’s personal lives. People lie and want to be deceived. They choose to play dumb, to avoid a confrontation with truth. They want to be nice (Latin, nescire, not to know, to be ignorant) and to be liked. They want to tuck themselves into a safe social and cultural framework where they imagine they will be safe. They like the doll’s house. They choose to live in what Jean Paul Sartre called bad faith (mauvaise foi): In Existential Psychoanalysis he put it thus:

In bad faith it is from myself that I am hiding the truth. But with this ‘lie’ to myself, the one to whom the lie is told and the one who lies are one and the same person, which means that I must know in my capacity as deceiver the truth which is hidden from me in my capacity as the one deceived.

Such bad faith allows people to fabricate a second act of bad faith: that they are not responsible for their ignorance of the truths behind the government’s and corporate media’s lies and propaganda, even as the shades of the prison house ominously close around us and the world edges toward global death that could arrive in an instant with nuclear war or limp along for years of increasing suffering.

Those of us who write about the U.S. led demented wars and provocations around the world and the complementary death of democracy at home are constantly flabbergasted and discouraged by the willed ignorance of so many Americans. For while the mainstream media does the bidding of the power elite, there is ample alternative news and analyses available on the internet from fine journalists and writers committed to truth, not propaganda. There is actually far too much truth available, which poses another problem. But it doesn’t take a genius to learn how to research important issues and to learn how to distinguish between bogus and genuine information. It takes a bit of effort, and, more importantly, the desire to compare multiple, opposing viewpoints and untangle the webs the Web weaves. We are awash in information (and disinformation) and both good and bad reporting, but it is still available to the caring inquirer.

The problem is the will to know. But why? Why the refusal to investigate and question; why the indifference? Stupidity? Okay, there is that. Ignorance? That too. Willful ignorance, ditto. Laziness, indeed. Careerism and ideology? For certain. Upton Sinclair put it mildly when he said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on not understanding it.” Difficult? No, it’s almost impossible.

But then there are many very intelligent people who have nothing to lose and yet adamantly refuse to entertain alternative possibilities to the reigning orthodoxies that have them in their grip. As do many others, I know many such people who will yes me to death and then never fully research issues. They will remain in limbo or else wink to themselves that what may be true couldn’t be true. They close down. This is a great dilemma and frustration faced by those who seek to convince people to take an active part in understanding what is really going on in the world today, especially as the United States wages war across the globe, threatens Russia, China, and Iran, among many others, and expands and modernizes its nuclear weapons capabilities.

As for Assange, Manning, and Snowden, their plight matters not a whit. In fact, they have been rendered invisible inside the doll’s house, except as the murals on the windows flash back their images as threats to the occupants, Russian monsters out to eat them up. As the great poet Constantine Cavafy wrote long ago in his poem “Waiting for the Barbarians” and they never come: “Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? Those people were a kind of solution.” Then again, for people like U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who knows the Russian barbarians have and will come again, life must be terrifying as he tries so manfully to bar the gates. The Russians have been the American solution in this fairy tale for so long that it’s hard for many Americans to believe another story.

The Two-Headed Monster

On the one hand, there is the massive propaganda apparatus operated by American intelligence agencies in conjunction with their media partners.

On the other, there is the human predilection for untruth and illusions, the sad need to be comforted and to submit to greater “authority,” gratefully to accept the myths proffered by one’s masters. This tendency applies not just to the common people, but even more so to the intellectual classes, who act as though they are immune. Erich Fromm, writing about Germans and Hitler, but by extension people everywhere, termed this the need to “escape from freedom,” since freedom conjures up fears of vertiginous aloneness and the need to decide, which in turn evokes the fear of death.[5]Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm, Rinehart & Company, Inc., 1941 There are also many kinds of little deaths that precede the final one: social, career, money, familiar, etc., that are used to keep people in the doll’s house.

Fifty years ago, the CIA coined the term “conspiracy theory” as a weapon to be used to dismiss the truths expressed by critics of its murder of President Kennedy, and those of Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK. All the media echoed the CIA line. While they still use the term to dismiss and denounce, their control of the mainstream media is so complete today that every evil government action is immediately seconded, whether it be the lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001, the wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, etc., the coups disguised as color revolutions in Ukraine, Venezuela, Bolivia, Hong Kong, the downing of the Malaysian jetliner there, drone murders, the Iranian “threat,” the looting of the American people by the elites, alleged sarin gas attacks in Syria, the anti-Russia bashing and the Russia-gate farce, the “criminals” Assange, Manning, Snowden – everything. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Fox News, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, etc. – all are stenographers for the deep state.

So much of the ongoing propaganda travels under the banner of “the war on terror,” which is, of course, an outgrowth of the attacks of September 11, 2001, appropriately named and constantly reinforced as 9/11 in a wonderful example of linguistic mind-control: a constant emergency reminder to engender anxiety, depression, panic, and confusion, four of the symptoms that lead the DSM “experts” and their followers to diagnose and drug individuals. The term 9/11 was first used in the New York Times on September 12, 2001 by Bill Keller, the future Times’ editor and Iraq war cheerleader. Just a fortuitous coincidence, of course.

Jacques Ellul on Propaganda

Jacques Ellul has argued convincingly that modern propaganda in a technological mass society is more complicated than the state and media lying and deceiving the population. He argues that propaganda meets certain needs of modern people and therefore the process of deceit is reciprocal. The modern person feels lost, powerless, and empty. Ellul says, “He realizes that he depends on decisions over which he has no control, and that realization drives him to despair.” But he can’t live in despair; desires that life be meaningful; and wants to feel he lives in a world that makes sense. He wants to participate and have opinions that suggest he grasps the flow of events. He doesn’t so much want information, but value judgments and preconceived positions that provide him with a framework for living. Ellul wrote the following in 1965 in his classic book Propaganda:

The majority prefers expressing stupidities to not expressing any opinion: this gives them the feeling of participation. For they need simple thoughts, elementary explanations, a ‘key’ that will permit them to take a position, and even ready-made opinions….The man who keeps himself informed needs a framework….the more complicated the problems are, the more simple the explanations must be; the more fragmented the canvas, the simpler the pattern; the more difficult the question, the more all-embracing the solution; the more menacing the reduction of his own worth, the greater the need for boosting his ego. All this propaganda – and only propaganda – can give him.[6]Ellul, op cit., p. 140

Another way of saying this is that people want to be provided with myths to direct them to the “truth.” But such so-called truth has been preconceived within the overarching myth provided by propaganda, and while it satisfies people’s emotional need for coherence, it also allows them to think of themselves as free individuals arriving at their own conclusions, which is a basic function of good propaganda. In today’s mass technological society, it is essential that people be convinced that they are free-thinking individuals acting in good faith. Then they can feel good about themselves as they lie and act in bad faith.

Culpable Ignorance

It is widely accepted that political leaders and the mass media lie and dissemble regularly, which, of course, they do. That is their job in an oligarchy. Today we are subjected to almost total, unrelenting media and government propaganda. Depending on their political leanings, people direct their anger toward politicians of parties they oppose and media they believe slant their coverage to favor the opposition. Trump is a liar. No, Obama is a liar. And Hillary Clinton. No, Fox News. Ridiculous! – it’s CNN or NBC. And so on and so forth in this theater of the absurd that plays out within a megaplex of mainstream media propaganda, where there are many shows but one producer, whose overall aim is to engineer the consent of all who enter, while setting the different audiences against each other. It is a very successful charade that evokes name-calling from all quarters.

In other words, for many people their opponents lie, as do other people, but not them. This is as true in personal as well as public life. Here the personal and the political converge, despite protestations to the contrary. Dedication to truth is very rare.

But there is another issue with propaganda that complicates the picture further. People of varying political persuasions can agree that propaganda is widespread. Many people on the left, and some on the right, would agree with Lisa Pease’s statement in her book on the RFK assassination, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, that “the way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time.”[7]A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease, Feral House, 2018, pp.500-501 That is also what Garrison thought when he spoke of the doll’s house.

If that is so, then today’s propaganda is anchored in the events of the 1960s, specifically the infamous government assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK, the truth of which the CIA has worked so hard to conceal. In the fifty or so years since, a vast amount of new information has made it explicitly clear that these murders were carried out by elements within the U.S. government, and were done so to silence the voices of four charismatic leaders who were opposed to the American war machine and the continuation of the Cold War. To turn away from this truth and to ignore its implications can only be described as an act of bad faith and culpable ignorance, or worse. But that is exactly what many prominent leftists have done. Then to compound the problem, they have done the same with the attacks of September 11, 2001.

One cannot help thinking of what the CIA official Cord Meyer called these people in the 1950s: “the compatible left.” He felt that effective CIA propaganda, beside the need for fascist-minded types such as Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton, depended on “courting” leftists and liberal into its orbit. For so many of the compatible left, those making a lot of money posing as opponents of the ruling elites but often taking the money of the super-rich, the JFK assassination and the truth of September 11, 2001 are inconsequential, never to be broached, as if they never happened, except as the authorities say they did. By ignoring these most in-your-face events with their eyes wide shut, a coterie of influential leftists has done the work of Orwell’s crime-stop and has effectively succeeded in situating current events in an ahistorical and therefore misleading context that abets U.S. propaganda. They truncate the full story to present a narrative that distorts the truth.

Without drawing a bold line connecting the dots from November 22, 1963 up to the present, a critique of the murderous forces ruling the United States is impossible.

Among the most notable of such failures are Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Howard Zinn, and Chris Hedges, men idolized by many liberals and leftists. And there are many others who have been deeply influenced by Chomsky, Cockburn, and Zinn and follow in their footsteps. Their motivations remain a mystery, but there is no doubt their refusals have contributed to the increased power of those who control the doll’s house. To know better and do as they have is surely culpable ignorance.

From Bad to Worse

Ask yourself: Has the power of the oligarchic, permanent warfare state with its propaganda and spy networks, increased or decreased in the past half century? Who is winning the battle, the people or the ruling elites? The answer is obvious. It matters not at all whether the president has been Trump or Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, Barack Obama or George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter. The power of the national security state has grown under them all and everyone is left to moan and groan and wonder why. All the while the doll’s house has become more and more sophisticated and powerful with the growth of electronic media and cell phone usage.

The new Cold War now being waged against Russia and China is a bi-partisan affair, as is the confidence game played by the secret government intended to create a fractured consciousness in the population. This fragmentation of consciousness prevents people from grasping the present from within because so many suffer from digital dementia as their attention hops from input to output in a never-ending flow of mediated, disembodied data. Trump and his followers on one side of the coin; liberal Democrats on the other. The latter, whose bibles are the New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, Democracy Now, The Guardian, etc. – can only see propaganda when they can attribute it to Trump or the Russians. The former see everything as a liberal conspiracy to take down Trump. The liberals have embraced a new McCarthyism and allied themselves with the deep-state forces that they were once allegedly appalled by, including Republicans. Their embrace of the formerly despised war-monger John Bolton in the impeachment trial of Trump is a laughable case in point, if it weren’t so depraved and slimy. It surely isn’t the bloodthirsty policies of the Trump administration or his bloviating personality, for these liberals allied themselves with Obama’s anti-Russian rhetoric, his support for the U.S. orchestrated neo-fascist Ukrainian coup, his destruction of Libya, his wars of aggression across the Middle East, his war on terror, his trillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization, his enjoyment of drone killing, his support for the coup in Honduras, his embrace of the CIA and his CIA Director John Brennan, his prosecution of whistle-blowers, etc. The same media that served the CIA so admirably over the decades became the liberals’ paragons of truth. It’s enough to make your head spin, which is the point. Spin left, spin right, spin all around, because we have possessed your mind in this spectacular image game where seeming antinomies are the constancy of the same through difference, all the presidents coined by the same manufacturer who knows that coin flipping serves to entertain the audience eager for hope and change.

This is how the political system works to prevent change. It is why little has changed for the better over half a century and the American empire has expanded. While it may be true that there are signs that this American hegemony is coming to an end (I am not convinced), I would not underestimate the power of the U.S. propaganda apparatus to keep people docile and deluded in the doll’s house, despite the valiant efforts of independent truth-tellers.

How, for example, is it possible for so many people to see such a stark difference between the despicable Trump and the pleasant Obama? They are both puppets dancing to their masters’ tunes – the same masters. They both front for the empire.

In his excellent book, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State, Jeremy Kuzmarov assiduously documents Obama’s crimes, including his CIA background.[8]Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State, Jeremy Kuzmarov, Clarity Press, 2019 As Glen Ford, of Black Agenda Report, says in the first sentence of his forward, “Barack Obama may go down in presidential history as the most effective-and deceptive-imperialist of them all.” Read the book if you want all the details. They form an overwhelming indictment of the con artist and war criminal that is irrefutable. But will those who worship at the altar of Barack Obama read it? Of course not. Just as those deluded ones who voted for the reality television flim-flam man Trump will ignore all the accumulating evidence that they’ve been had and are living under a president who is Obama’s disguised doppelganger, carrying out the orders of his national security state bosses. This, too, is well documented, and no doubt another writer will arise in the years to come to put it between a book’s covers.

Yet even Jeremy Kuzmarov fails to see the link between the JFK assassination and Obama’s shilling for the warfare state. His few references to Kennedy are all negative, suggesting he either is unaware of what Kennedy was doing in the last year of his life and why he was murdered by the CIA, or something else. He seems to follow Noam Chomsky, a Kennedy hater, in this regard. I point out this slight flaw in an excellent book because it is symptomatic of certain people on the left who refuse to complete the circle. If, as Kuzmarov, argues, Obama was CIA from the start and that explains his extraordinarily close relationship with the CIA’s John Brennan, an architect, among many things, of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, and that Obama told CIA Director Panetta that the CIA would “get everything it wanted,” and the CIA killed JFK, well, something’s amiss, an enormous gap in the analysis of our current condition.

The doll’s house is a mind game of extraordinary proportions, orchestrated by the perverted power elites that run the show and ably abetted by their partners in the corporate mass media, even some in the alternative press who mean well but are confused, or are disinformation agents in the business of sowing confusion together with their mainstream Operation Mockingbird partners. It is a spectacle of open secrecy, in which the CIA has effectively suckered everyone into a game of to-and-fro in which only they win.

Our only hope for change is to try and educate as many people as possible about the linkages between events that started with the CIA coup d’état in Dallas on November 22, 1963, continued through the killings of Malcolm X, MLK, RFK and on through so much else up to September 11, 2001, and have brought us to the deeply depressing situation we now find ourselves in where truthtellers like Julian Assange, Chelsey Manning, and Edward Snowden are criminalized, while the real perpetrators of terrible evils roam free.

Yes, we must educate but also agitate for the release of this courageous trio. Their freedom is ours; their imprisonment is ours, whether we know it or not. The walls are closing in.

Lisa Pease is so right: “The way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time, and too few recognize this. We can’t fix a problem we can’t even acknowledge exists.”

If we don’t follow her advice, we will be toyed with like dolls for a long time to come. There will be no one else to blame.

Notes

[1] Interview with Jim Garrison, District Attorney of Parish of Orleans, Louisiana, May 27, 1969, kennedysandking.com

[2] Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul, Vintage Books, 1973, pp. 17-18

[3] “CIA mind control morphed into psychiatry?” Jon Rappoport, com, July 11, 2017

[4] “Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan hospitalized after prison stabbing,” Caroline Linton, CBS, August 31, 2019

[5] Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm, Rinehart & Company, Inc., 1941

[6] Ellul, op cit., p. 140

[7] A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease, Feral House, 2018, pp.500-501

********************
Greencrow concludes:  Yes, I consider myself fortunate to have lived long enough to read the above article.  It concisely sums up what I’ve found so difficult to write as a blogger over the past 14 years…that it all leads back to the assassination of JFK.  This is the dot connection that’s studiously avoided by the mainZtream media.  This is the cotton batting that Americans and citizens of their vassal states like Canada have been bundled, some would say suffocated, in since the 1960’s.  We can look at it that way, being suffocated by layers of swaddled cotton batting…or we can look at it like we’ve been rendered brain-damaged and somnolent, methodically wrapped by spiders in propaganda cocoons for 50+ years.  Perhaps some day we [or our descendants] will emerge from these cocoons.  Flexing our new wings of conscious/courageous awareness, we’ll fly away to freedom, escaping the CIA Ziomonsters who now imprison us in their Dolls’ House of Smoke and Mirrors, where we hang suspended from the walls in propaganda cocoons.

Or, more likely, some saviour will come to free us.  Salvation has been granted to humanity in the past.

ISI/CIA Replaying Pak Taliban Option, Release Terror Spokesman and Family

By 

It was The Sunday Guardian, which on January 18, first broke the news that former Tehreek e Taliban (TTP) and Jamaat ul Ahrar (JA) spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan who was being kept under detention by the Pakistan army had escaped.

But since there was no mention of this ‘breaking news’ in the Pakistani media, this report generated no debate or discussion. Au contraire, it was treated with such skepticism that people overlooked the fact that the otherwise very hyperactive Director General Inter Services Public Relations (DGISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor didn’t even come out to rebut this report that appeared in an Indian newspaper and openly ridiculed the professional abilities of Pakistan army.

But now that an audio tape purportedly released by Ehsan has emerged in which he has confirmed his escape, the question which arises is that how did this high-profile terrorist (who belonged to the group that targeted Malala Yousafzai and besides numerous other terrorist attacks in Pakistan had also carried out the despicable Army Public School (APS) Peshawar massacre of innocent school children manage to escape from military custody?

The answer reveals shocking laxity on the part of Pakistan army. Quoting “sources in Pakistan,” Daily Times has confirmed that Ehsan had “escaped from a safe house where he was detained along with his wife and two daughters” and that “The Pakistan Army got to know about his escape on January 12.”

That Ehsan not only managed to escape with his entire family but also succeeded in fleeing the country raises serious doubts about the Pakistan army’s sincerity regarding its war on terror. Even though DGISPR vehemently denied it, but right from the time of his so called ‘surrender’, there were deep suspicions that Pakistan army had struck some sort of a secret deal with Ehsan.

These fears were strengthened when the army (which otherwise boasts about its professionalism and efficiency), failed to file a charge sheet against him even after nearly years and the degree of suspicion of complicity was so intense that the distraught parent of a APS Peshawar victim even approached Peshawar High Court to ensure that  the army doesn’t manipulate the system to get clemency for  Ehsan and thereby facilitate his release!

Now that Ehsan has escaped, those who have lost their near and dear ones in the numerous terrorist attacks carried out by TTP and JA would obviously want to know why didn’t the army incarcerate a hard core terrorist like Ehsan in a high security prison  and instead put him up in a “safe house” where he could enjoy the company of his wife and children?

How could Rawalpindi be so casual is something that Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has to explain to the people and ensure stern action against those guilty of omissions and commissions that allowed Ehsan to escape and flee the country. Not filing a charge sheet in itself is a clear indication of premeditated reluctance on the part of Pakistan army as regards bringing Ehsan to justice is concerned and his escape only further reinforces suspicions of organisational complicity.

In his audio message Ehsan has confirmed that he had surrendered to the Pakistan army in 2017 under “an agreement.” This revelation confirms that the Pakistan army was being economical with the truth while announcing his “surrender” and explains why it never charge-sheeted him. But this is just the tip of the iceberg and more skeletons from Rawalpindi’s cupboard will come tumbling out as the former TTP and JA spokesperson has said, “I will also mention on whose approval this accord (to surrender) was made with me. And what were the terms and conditions of the agreement and which prominent figure had assured me that the agreement will be implemented.”

Ehsan’s claim of having made some sort of an “accord” or “agreement” with Pakistan army officials doesn’t appear to be far-fetched as Rawalpindi has a long history of making Faustian deals with terrorists and one is reminded of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s observation about Pakistan keeping ‘snakes in its backyard’ and US President Donald Trump’s tweet about “lies & deceit” that Islamabad has been peddling for the “last 15 years.”

The international community has turned a blind eye to Rawalpindi’s perfidy in regards to going soft on certain terrorists for too long and in order to make the world a safer place to live-in, concerted action for compelling Pakistan to cease patronising terrorist groups is the crying need of the hour.

Tailpiece- Since Ehsan has ‘confessed’ working at the behest of Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), Pakistan army’s decision to keep him in a ‘safe house’ is in itself highly suspect. So, if Rawalpindi continues to hold that Ehsan is a R&AW operative, then it has to admit that by executing the successful ‘covert extrication’ of its ‘asset’, R&AW has outwitted Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).  But if this isn’t the case, then it’s obvious that that his so called ‘escape’ has been clandestinely orchestrated by certain influential and powerful elements within the Pakistan army for whom Ehsan was proving to be a hot potato?

Nilesh Kunwar

Nilesh Kunwar

Nilesh Kunwar is a retired Indian Army Officer who has served in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. He is a ‘Kashmir-Watcher,’ and now after retirement is pursuing his favorite hobby of writing for newspapers, journals and think tanks.

Turkey Manipulates Mercenary Army To Loot Libyan Gas and Oil

While Idlib burns, Turkey pushes Syrians to fight its war in Libya

How Turkey achieves its goals is by offering a few of its solders to train Tripoli’s forces and send the same Syrian rebels Turkey was recently using to fight Kurds in eastern Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad visits Syrian army troops in war-torn northwestern Idlib province, Syria, October 22, 2019 (photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Syrian President Bashar al Assad visits Syrian army troops in war-torn northwestern Idlib province, Syria, October 22, 2019
(photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Turkey is pushing a new “road map” for Libya, focusing on a conflict 1,000 km from Ankara, while a few kilometers from Turkey’s border refugees are being driven from their homes in Idlib by a Moscow-backed Syrian offensive. It is part of the Turkey’s new policy of sending Syrian rebels to fight in Libya so that Ankara can receive rights to exclusive energy exploration off the coast of North Africa. In exchange the Syrian regime appears to have received a free hand to bomb Syrian rebels in Idlib into submission.

On Tuesday Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on an Africa tour that has seen him travel to Algeria and then Gambia to discuss Turkey’s growing footprint in Africa and his desire to take over the Libyan conflict. Libya is in the midst of an none-year civil war. One side is led by Khalifa Haftar, an aging general who controls most of Libya. The other is run by the Tripoli-based embattled and weak government that claims UN backing. Haftar is backed by Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Turkey recently signed a deal with Tripoli and has been sending drones, armored vehicles and now paying Syrian rebels to fight as mercenaries in Libya, in exchange for the Tripoli government giving Turkey a deal in the Mediterranean. Turkey wants to get rights to an exclusive economic zone that overlaps with Greek and Cyprus claims in the Mediterranean.
How Turkey achieves its goals is by offering a few of its solders to train Tripoli’s forces and send the same Syrian rebels Turkey was recently using to fight Kurds in eastern Syria. Since 2017  Turkey has hijacked the Syrian rebel cause and used them to fight its wars, while working with Russia to get S-400s and sell out the  Syrian opposition to the Syrian regime in  exchange for Russian military hardware and other bits and pieces of northern Syria. Turkey’s goal last year was to destroy the US-backed Syrian  Democratic Forces by forcing the US to withdraw from parts of northern Syria. Turkey argues that the SDF is linked to the Kurdish PKK which it calls terrorists and as such it wants the “terrorists” removed from its border. It wants to replace them with a mostly Sunni Arab Syrian buffer, but  taking Syrian rebels from Idlib  and refugees from Turkey and inserting them into formerly Kurdish-run areas like Afrin or Tel Abyad. That stokes Kurdish-Arab tensions and gives Ankara power.

Having accomplished its task in Tel Abyad Turkey now wants to move Syrians to Libya, getting them further away from Idlib so that they will fight Haftar, while the Syrian regime bombs Idlib. The Syrian regime has acted  in concert with Turkey’s agenda, attacking Idlib increasingly since the fall of 2019 and driving tens  of thousands of Syrians from  their homes. Around 2,000 Syrians are now in Libya.

Turkey’s overall goal isn’t to win the war in Libya, but create another Syrian scenario where it uses Syrians to hold on to small parts of Libya to create a balance with the Egyptian-backed Haftar and brings Haftar to the peace table. Once an agreement or ceasefire can be worked out with Haftar then Turkey can declare victory and leave the Syrians in Libya to do whatever they like there. Accordingly Ankara has fed its pro-government media like  Daily Sabah a narrative describing Haftar as a “putschist” and claiming that  Erdogan is now involved in “truce talks in Moscow and Berlin.” Haftar is portrayed as violating the ceasefire that Turkey wants. Turkey claims that the war in Libya can’t be solved  by military means, which roughly translates as: Turkey has sent forces to Libya so Haftar will not be able to take Tripoli. Since Haftar won’t take Tripoli now that Turkish forces are there, he will be encouraged to sign a deal, similar to the deal that Turkey and Russia signed over Idlib in September or the one Turkey and  Russia signed over eastern Syria, partitioning parts of Libya to Turkish and Russian spheres of influence.

Erdogan is putting miles under his belt to achieve the goal. He flew to Africa even as thousands were  being displaced from Idlib, ignoring the crises close to home to get a piece of the much larger pie in Libya. The Africa trip is one of several recent Turkish initiatives with Algeria and Tunisia designed to show that Ankara now has major influence in North Africa. The larger context is that Ankara wants to balance Egypt. Erdogan’s AKP party is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt has banned the Brotherhood after overthrowing the Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi in 2013. This means that the larger goal is a proxy war between the Saudi-UAE-Egypt entente and the Turkey-Qatar-Hamas-Brotherhood alliance system. The war is afoot in Libya to see which grand alliance will  win. As such each must send proxies and arms.

Turkey’s goal is also a gamble for European support. Turkey uses Syrian refugees to threaten Europe and has asked Germany to sign on for its plans to continue taking over places like Afrin where Kurds have been ethnically cleansed. Turkey uses the same threats regarding Libya, arguing that if Tripoli falls then extremists might flow to Europe. Europe, fearful of refugees and right wing populism, is willing to keep paying Turkey to keep the refugees away.  The only  problem for Turkey now is Greece and Cyprus. Greece has a role in the EU and NATO and Greece is angry over Turkey laying claim to waters off Libya and frustrating  its own gas pipeline ideas. Turkey says its drill ships will go where they please and has sent drones to Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus to enforce its power at sea. Turkey calls this the “blue mortherland” strategy to resurrect the power of Ottoman times. Greece hopes it can work with Egypt and the Gulf to stop the slide towards more Turkish domination of the seas.

Now Russia may swoop in as it has in Syria to  find a compromise. Russia has energy interests  in Turkey via the TurkStream pipeline and the S-400 deal. Russia  wants a Turkish ally and it wants Turkey to work with Iran in the Astana process for Libya. Together Turkey and Russia can partition spheres of influence in Libya and Turkey can give up some bits of Idlib where it has a dozen observation points. Allowing the Syrian regime to crush the Syrians in Idlib aids Turkey by making the Syrians more dependent on Ankara’s good will and enables Ankara to funnel them to Afrin, Tel Abyad and even to Libya. Recent videos  of the poor Syrians who went to fight in Libya show them waving money around and drinking tea with Ak-47s saying they don’t know why they are in Libya but they are being paid and they have little else to do. After having channeled the same Syrian rebels to fight Kurds, the next logical step was to get them as far away from home as possible so that they won’t see the slow strangulation of Idlib that is taking place.

Neoliberalism’s Legacy–American Fascism, Masquerading As “Democracy”

Bill Clinton Stone Mountain Feature photo

A Neoliberal Legacy: America’s Fascism Problem Runs Much Deeper Than Trump

In recent years, the press reports of racist young whites attracted to far-right persuasions including flirting with fascism. But are they the cause or the consequence?

Peculiar institution of US racism

Trump has been reprehensible in pandering to white racism. But the Republicans have no monopoly on this franchise. We should remember the legacy of Jim Crow and Dixiecrat Democrats in high office, including six U.S. senators and two Supreme Court justices who were members of the Ku Klux Klan. FDR, arguably the most liberal U.S. president and a Democrat, force relocated and incarcerated in concentration camps 120,000 Japanese Americans, including orphaned children and people with as little as one-sixteenth Japanese ancestry.

Unfortunately, Trump’s performance has had precedents such as Bill “the first black president” Clinton’s Stone Mountain photo op at the birthplace of the modern KKK with a group of mostly African American prisoners used as props. Clinton followed with the mass incarceration 1994 crime bill and “ending welfare as we know it.” Trump is on the same continuum as past presidents, only more vulgar, more overt, and more virulent.

Racism is institutionalized in the “land of the free;” it is not simply a personality disorder. Institutional racism pervades current politics. Trump’s Protect and Serve Act, making attacks on police a federal hate crime, placed killer cops in a protected class. The heinous act passed with a near-unanimous 382-35 vote, including three-quarters of the Black Caucus and a bipartisan f**k you to the Black Lives Matter movement. Surely racism is endemic in the DNA of the U.S. polity.

The peculiar institution of U.S. racialized politics does not stop at the border. Wherever there are flashpoints of racial or ethnic conflict, the U.S. government can be found fanning the flames to the advantage of the empire, be it Sunni versus Shia in the Middle East or indigenous versus European ancestry in Latin America. Jeanine Añez, the self-proclaimed president of Bolivia after the recent U.S.-backed coup, had announced it was time to take the indigenous out of not only the government but out of the capital city.

Institutional racism is particularly lethal because it intersects with, and is reinforced by, class. Police brutality, mass incarceration, welfare assistance, quality public education, and so forth are called “black issues,” but are of concern to all working people and not just working African Americans. White racism is used to obscure the common interests of working folks by creating the illusion that somehow a white Amazon warehouse worker has common cause with Jeff Bezos.

Specter of fascism

In recent years, the press reports of racist young whites attracted to far-right persuasions including flirting with fascism. Were a significant fascist movement to arise in the U.S., these dispossessed youth – called “deplorable” by Hillary Clinton – could serve as its base. But are they the cause or the consequence?

Central casting could not have done better than Donald Trump in finding a picture-perfect caricature of a blonde, bullying fascist. But tacky cosmetics and bad table manners, which Trump has in abundance, do not alone qualify him for the Aryan brotherhood. Now three years into the reign of Trump and despite dire predictions to the contrary, the republic has not yet goose-stepped into fascism.

Racism and narrow nationalism have been historically associated with fascism. Yet Trump’s Muslim ban, however odious, pales in magnitude to the perfidy of Roosevelt’s Japanese internment.

The specter of fascism entails more than white nativism. Fascism takes political form as a specific form of governance. As a form of governance, fascism “arises when, in face of working class challenge, finance capital can no longer rule in the old way,” as Greg Godels explains.

Yes, there was Trump’s Charlottesville comment about “some very fine people” regarding angry young men with shaved heads and swastika tattoos. But these marginalized, barely post-adolescents are not the ruling class. The resentful dispossessed are the byproduct of neoliberal policies and the potential recruits for a fascist movement. They are the tinder, but not the match. The danger of fascism comes from the ruling circles and not from the popular classes.

The downward trajectory of neoliberalism

In the 1930s, capital was initially forced by a militant trade union movement in the U.S. to include labor as a junior partner with the New Deal, which was a diluted form of social democracy. New Deal liberalism was eclipsed around the time of Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency, when he first espoused deregulation and small government, meaning abandonment of the social welfare function of the state. The gospel of neoliberalism got legs with the Reagan revolution. Liberalism’s coffin was nailed shut with the Bill Clinton’s New Democrats as labor was demoted to a special interest group even though it constitutes a vast majority of the citizenry.

Not since Nixon’s presidency has any major liberal legislation been enacted, while the “new liberals” – that is, the neoliberals – are the orthodoxy of both parties of capital. The trajectory of neoliberalism has been ever downward as evidenced by increasing austerity for working people, a more aggressive imperialist extension of U.S. hegemony abroad, and a deepening of the national security state.

UAW Caterpillar Strike

Workers from Caterpillar strike against wage and bonus cuts at a Caterpillar plant in Mossville, Ill, April 7, 1992. Seth Perlman | AP

This downward trajectory of neoliberalism is tied to the concentration of economic power. An ever more authoritarian state serves the interests of ever more concentrated capital.

The increasingly coercive state is obscured behind the electoral charade, where spending obscene amounts of money to buy politicians is protected as free speech and corporations are given the constitutional rights of persons. While nearly half the populace does not vote, the U.S. leads the world in incarceration and military spending.

Given the death of liberalism in mainstream U.S. politics, why would the owners of capital and their bought politicians (the 2016 elections cost $6.6 billion) want to change to brand “fascism”? Brand “bourgeois democracy” has been so terrifically successful in sheep-dogging the people into accepting elite rule and believing they are enjoying real democracy.

Under bourgeois democracy, electoral candidates are allowed to compete to prove who can best serve the ruling elites. Only if the left is strong enough to challenge that agenda and to seriously contest for political power would the ruling circles consider fascism and do away with the façade of elections.

The Sanders Insurgency

Bernie Sanders is not a Marxist revolutionary, but a remnant New Dealer who is soft on imperialism. Sanders, in the context of today’s politics, nevertheless represents a welcome challenge to neoliberal austerity. For now, the establishment is betting that a rigged electoral process (e.g., super delegates), dirty tricks (e.g., the spat with Elizabeth Warren), and a gatekeeper corporate press – all of whom might risk four more years of Trump rather than running a putative progressive against him – will keep Sanders out of serious contention.

But if, say, the Sanders-inspired Our Revolution really became revolutionary and mounted a third-party challenge with prospects of winning, a section of the ruling elites could consider fascism. Neither side of the class barricade is there now. Because maintaining a fascist dictatorship is costly and the elites themselves have to give up some of their privileges, the option for trying to impose fascism would likely be made by a just faction of the ruling elites, rather than a unified class.

For the moment, the “f” card is held in distant reserve by those in power in case the insurgency evidenced by the Sanders phenomenon truly ignited, were able to break out of the institutional constraints of the Democratic Party apparatus, and the Resistance ceased being the assistance. Then the struggle could develop in the direction of a choice between socialism and its barbaric alternative.

Preparatory stages of fascism

A critical harbinger of fascism is the growing preeminence of the national security state, which is now seen by the DNC Democrats as a bulwark of democracy rather than the precursor of fascism. The Democrats helped renew the Patriot Act by a landslide, handing President Trump wartime authority to suspend constitutional civil liberties. (Ironically, around the same time, the partisan wargames known as the House impeachment hearings were raging.)

Meanwhile, the internet is being weaponized against the left. Elizabeth Warren has proposed censorship of the web overseen by the government in cooperation with big tech companies. These developments, extending the ubiquity of the surveillance state, are the “preparatory stages” of fascism.

The FBI is currently trusted “a great deal” by a 3:1 margin by Democrats compared to Republicans. The saintly visage of former FBI director Robert Mueller and not the snarly appearance of Trump may prove to the face of fascism in the U.S. But at least for now, the “f” word is still correctly understood to refer to procreation.

Feature photo | Bill Clinton stands in front of black prisoners in Stone Mountain, GA. to preach the need to get tough on crime, March 3, 1992. Greg Gibson | AP

Roger D. Harris is on the state central committee of the Peace and Freedom Party, the only ballot-qualified socialist party in California.

Russia’s Own “Blackwater” Type Mercenaries, a.k.a., “Wagner,” Match US “Deniability” In Hybrid War

Libyan conflict (AFP File Photo)

The war in Libya is one that might have ended a long time ago, if not for the intervention by a variety of actors, including foreign states and, all too often, their proxies, including private military companies (PMC) and outright mercenaries, who are fighting for both sides and enabling a war that might already have ended to continue, with all the attendant suffering for the Libyan people.

Increasingly, it resembles a real life version of Abbot and Costello’s Who’s on First comedy routine.

Since last fall, Russia’s Wagner Group has been supporting renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which is bankrolled by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE – the same countries that are using mercenaries and PMCs in Yemen – as well as France, Egypt, and Jordan.

Russia’s main goal is to secure port and energy access, regardless of how many Libyans have to die to accomplish it. Russia has reportedly flown hundreds of fighters to Libya, most likely via Cham Wings airlines from Damascus to Benghazi.

Wagner fighters have reportedly supported Haftar’s assault on the Libyan capitol of Tripoli. It is no secret why Russia uses companies like Wagner. Using PMCs allows Putin to lower the political costs of achieving his goals in North Africa. Using such groups avoids the political scrutiny that comes with the deployment of conventional armed forces.

When PMCs increase Russia’s prestige abroad, the state can acknowledge and take credit for their actions; when they do not, the state can distance themselves. Over 30 Russians have died fighting there. The first of those casualties started arriving back in Russia last fall. As a reflection of the sensitivity surrounding those killed, neither the Russian government nor Wagner itself has formally notified the families of any combat deaths. This is contrary to Wagner’s typical practice, which is to send death certificates and any military decorations to the relatives of combatants who are killed.

Last month it was reported that Russian contractors fighting in Libya and Syria had received treatment at an elite St. Petersburg hospital owned by individuals close to Putin. According to analysis by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Wagner’s forces include drone jamming capabilities and snipers on the frontlines who have killed forces associated with the Government of National Accord (GNA), as Libya’s internationally recognised government is known.

The analysis also notes that Wagner poses command and control problems: Their behaviour does not fit within standard western military definitions. Their activities overlap between contractors, mercenaries, and other categories – there is no clear separation between military and private like one sees in the west. There is also no clear policy or legal framework for Moscow’s actions; technically, PMCs are illegal even under Russian law.

One must also keep in mind that Russian PMCs are not entirely controlled by Putin – the interests of the various cronies and oligarchs in his circle can differ from his own, since they are chiefly interested in money.

For instance, Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner PMC firm, is mainly focused on Libya’s energy resources. Last month, it was reported that two other Russian companies, including Moran Security Group, have joined Wagner in supply mercenaries to fight in Libya. Russia has been coy about Wagner in Libya.

President Putin recently said, “If there are Russian citizens there, they do not represent the interests of the Russian state and do not receive money from the Russian state.” But, Wagner is, at least theoretically, considered a private military company acting at its own peril and risk, and also at its own interest. So officially it is not representing the Russian state.

The presence of Wagner has made some difference on the battlefield, causing the Libyan government to rely even more on Turkey, its only foreign military sponsor. Just like Russia, Turkey also has economic motives. Ankara signed a deal in November with the GNA that gives it exploration rights to offshore oil and gas fields in the Mediterranean.

Turkey, as part of its support for the GNA, has reportedly sent at least 2,000 fighters mainly from the Free Syria Army (FSA), from Syria to Libya to join pro-government forces. The FSA is reportedly paying a salary of US$2,000 a month to each fighter. The FSA is reportedly not just sending fighters but also civilians who are poor and willing to go. The Turkish mercenaries have also suffered casualties.

Last December it was reported that Pro-Turkey armed factions in northern Syria opened four centres in the city of Afrin to attract militants to register and to go to Libya. Ironically, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, now a Libyan politician and military leader, but formerly head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was banned worldwide as an affiliate of al-Qaeda, is reportedly helping Turkey send fighters to Libya, primarily flying fighters into Libya from Turkey, via the Libyan Wings Aviation Company.

But Syrians are hardly the only fighters to be imported. Recently, Sudanese protested in Khartoum, “alleging that their relatives had been recruited by UAE firm Black Shield as security guards but were despatched to war-zones in Libya and Yemen.” This has actually been going on for some time. The United Nations said in a December report that five Sudanese and four Chadian armed groups had contributed thousands of combatants to fight in Libya.

A separate UN report on Sudan released in January also found that many Arabs from the conflict-wracked region of Darfur were fighting as “individual mercenaries” alongside Libyan warring parties.

Although it is difficult to be definitive about all the African mercenaries, most of them seem to be supporting Haftar.

Some think that their involvement could be destabilising for their home countries in the future. An article published last December by Turkish state-backed international news outlet TRT World noted, “Years ago, officials in Khartoum raised the alarm over the Minnawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement’s participation in Libya’s conflict because of concerns about what this group could potentially do after returning to Darfur.”

David Isenberg is an independent researcher and writer on U.S. military, foreign policy, and national and international security issues.

Copyright @ 2020 The New Arab.

Israeli Jets Nearly Down Another Russian Jet, Once Again Using It As Shield In Air Attack

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:10 A.M.) – The Russian Ministry of Defense said on Friday that a plane carrying 172 passengers was preparing to land, when it nearly came under fire from the Syrian air defenses who was repelling an Israeli attack on Damascus that evening.

READ ALSO: Israel F-35 accidentally reveals location over secret nuclear facility 

The Russian Ministry of Defense’s statement said: “After 2 A.M. on Thursday, four Israeli F-16 warplanes, without entering the Syrian airspace, launched a surprise attack with eight” air-to-surface missiles in the outskirts of Damascus.”

The ministry said that while repelling an airstrike by the Israeli Air Force, the Syrian government forces activated their air defense systems.

At the same time, as the analysis of data on the objective status control system showed, at the time of the Israeli combat aircraft attack on the outskirts of Damascus, an Airbus-320 passenger plane with 172 passengers on board was preparing to land at Damascus International Airport.

“Thanks to the operations of the Damascus airport controllers and the effective operation of the automated air traffic control system, we were able to remove the Airbus-320 passenger plane from the Syrian air defense fire zone and land safely at the nearest alternative airport – at the Russian Hmeimim air base,” the statement said.

On September 17th, 2018, the Syrian air defenses accidentally shot down a Russian military aircraft that was flying off the coast of Latakia during an attack by the Israeli Air Force.

The Russian Ministry of Defense accused the Israeli Air Force of using the Russian aircraft as cover during their confrontation with the Syrian air defenses; this led to Moscow’s decision to arm Syria with their S-300 system.

Pelosi and Her “Wild Bunch” Democrats Just Re-Elected Trump

“When do the House Democrats bring another impeachment?”

[Probably Never.

Most likely, the overexcited Democrats have blown their only shot at taking Trump down.]

House Democratic impeachment manager, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leaves the Senate chamber after the acquittal of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 5, 2020.
House Democratic impeachment manager, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leaves the Senate chamber after the acquittal of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 5, 2020. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The partisan impeachment of President Donald Trump finally passed, mercifully, like a kidney stone, with Democrats grimacing helplessly during acquittal in the Senate on Wednesday.

It’s over.

The cable news networks loved it because they love a show but there was no real drama. Americans knew for months how this would turn out. They knew Democrats didn’t have the votes in the Senate. It was all about targeting select Republican senators in the next elections.

The people turned off this farce of Democratic Impeachment Theater long ago.

Americans aren’t as dumb as some politicians think they are. They paid attention for a while. They read the transcript of his phone call to Ukraine — which needed military assistance — asking for an investigation into the Bidens.

But they figured this thing out. They saw the flaws in the arguments. Independent voters didn’t think the call — which didn’t ultimately prevent Ukraine from getting military aid and didn’t lead to a Ukraine investigation into the Bidens — was grounds to remove a president.

Many Republicans don’t think Trump’s call was “perfect,” as he insists, but they didn’t want to remove him from office for it. And they knew that a presidential election was less than a year away. So, they decided to move on.

“Right now, this is a political loser for them,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, referring to the Democrats. “They initiated it. At least for the short term it has been a colossal political mistake.”

Now there are three questions:

When do the House Democrats bring another impeachment?

Can Trump, who can handle adversity, handle success? Or will he self-destruct?

And what about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who cemented herself in the American mind as a petulant child, angrily ripping up her copy of Trump’s State of the Union speech?

The impeachment did backfire. When it began, on the heels of the Mueller report’s failure to prove Trump was a secret Russian agent, the president’s approval ratings began to rise.

His poll numbers have skyrocketed, climbing to the highest they’ve ever been. A new Gallup poll shows him with 49% support, his highest level since taking office. And he has an astounding 63% approval rating for his handling of the booming economy, according to the poll.

During his State of the Union speech the other night, Trump didn’t mention the impeachment once.

With Pelosi sitting behind him, muttering to herself like some angry bag lady alone on a night train, he didn’t have to mention it.

He focused instead on his accomplishments and the economy, which infuriates his enemies. When he was done, Pelosi grabbed Trump’s speech, and in a fit of petulance, theatrically ripped it to shreds.

That partisan rage will last in the American mind and be featured in Trump political commercials, just as CNN anchor Don Lemon’s laughter mocking Trump voters as illiterate rubes will last until November.

To some of her most ardent, childlike fans, Pelosi’s temper tantrum made her seem like something of an epic heroine.

Oddly, many adults don’t see Pelosi as a heroine. They don’t see her as the Childlike Empress of “The NeverEnding Story.” And they probably don’t even see Pelosi as Boudica, the fierce warrior queen of the Celts.

They might see her for what she is, a politician who grew up in politics in the family of a Democratic political boss and who likes to hold the levers of power.

Her tantrum could have been calculated. It could have been her understanding that she’s inexorably losing control of House Democrats, and that this may have been her last State of the Union speech.

Or it may have been frustration.

Pelosi reads the polls; she can see her impeachment gambit caused Trump to rise. She heard him masterfully weave emotion into his showmanlike speech:

He reunited the soldier with his family; he accepted the thanks of that 100-year-old Tuskegee airman who proudly stood to salute his president. He awarded the Medal of Freedom to conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh.

Most worrisome for the Democrats, he cast himself on the side of African Americans struggling with the criminal justice system. He took the side of a mother whose daughter was sentenced to substandard urban public schools. He called these “government schools.”

Perhaps Pelosi, after this long ordeal, could no longer suppress her rage and she just cracked.

Pelosi once wisely said she wanted no part of a purely partisan impeachment, that it would be wrong for the country and her party. But power is like sugar, once the body is hooked on blueberry pie, it always wants more.

So, Pelosi capitulated to the urgings of her wild-eyed Inspector Javert, Adam Schiff and pushed impeachment.

Schiff blew it. He hid the identity of the so-called whistleblower rather than allow him to testify and explain the political motivation behind his complaints about the Ukraine call.

Was the whistleblower a plant of Obama administration intelligence officers? Had the whistleblower talked to other witnesses, or Schiff’s staff, or Schiff himself, and helped set the whole thing up?

Americans don’t believe in political fairy tales. And this was the glaring fault of the House Democratic impeachment.

House Democrats didn’t take the time to go to court and compel White House witnesses to testify, but then whined about the lack of witnesses in the Senate trial. They brought vague charges that were not crimes.

It was partisan. It backfired and it ended in pain, like a kidney stone.

Listen to “The Chicago Way” podcast with John Kass and Jeff Carlin — at www.wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway.

Twitter @John_Kass

Iraqis Question U.S. Claim That Iran-Backed Militia Attacked Base

The United States blamed Khataib Hezbollah for an attack that killed an American contractor, setting off a chain of events that pushed America and Iran to the brink of war.

Iraqi soldiers surveying the launch site of a rocket attack that killed an American contractor on a military base near Kirkuk.
Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

NEPTIS, Iraq — The white Kia pickup turned off the desert road and rumbled onto a dirt track, stopping near a marsh. Soon there was a flash and a ripping sound as the first of the rockets fired from the truck soared toward Iraq’s K-1 military base.

The rockets wounded six people and killed an American contractor, setting off a chain of events that brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war.

The United States blamed an Iraqi militia with close ties to Iran and bombed five of the group’s bases. Angry Iraqis then stormed the American Embassy. The United States then killed Iran’s top general. Iran then fired missiles at American forces and mistakenly shot down a passenger jet, killing 176 people.

But Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets that started the spiral of events, saying they believe it is unlikely that the militia the United States blamed for the attack, Khataib Hezbollah, carried it out.

Iraqi officials acknowledge that they have no direct evidence tying the Dec. 27 rocket attack to one group or another. And elements of Iraq’s security forces have close ties to Iran, which might make them reluctant to blame an Iranian-linked force.

American officials insist that they have solid evidence that Khataib Hezbollah carried out the attack, though they have not made it public.

Iraqi officials say their doubts are based on circumstantial evidence and long experience in the area where the attack took place.

The rockets were launched from a Sunni Muslim part of Kirkuk Province notorious for attacks by the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group, which would have made the area hostile territory for a Shiite militia like Khataib Hezbollah.

Khataib Hezbollah has not had a presence in Kirkuk Province since 2014.

The Islamic State, however, had carried out three attacks relatively close to the base in the 10 days before the attack on K-1. Iraqi intelligence officials sent reports to the Americans in November and December warning that ISIS intended to target K-1, an Iraqi air base in Kirkuk Province that is also used by American forces.

And the abandoned Kia pickup was found was less than 1,000 feet from the site of an ISIS execution in September of five Shiite buffalo herders.

These facts all point to the Islamic State, Iraqi officials say.

“All the indications are that it was Daesh,” said Brig. General Ahmed Adnan, the Iraqi chief of intelligence for the federal police at K-1, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “I told you about the three incidents in the days just before in the area — we know Daesh’s movements.

“We as Iraqi forces cannot even come to this area unless we have a large force because it is not secure. How could it be that someone who doesn’t know the area could come here and find that firing position and launch an attack?”

Khataib Hezbollah has denied responsibility for the attack, and no group has claimed it.

American officials, however, said they had multiple strands of intelligence indicating that Khataib Hezbollah carried it out.

American investigators examined the Kia pickup, which yielded evidence that helped attribute the attack to Khataib Hezbollah, two American officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. They did not say what about the truck connected it to the group.

One American official said they also had intercepted communications showing the group’s involvement.

The American officials said that there had been 11 rocket attacks in November and December against Iraqi bases used by American or coalition forces. One official said that for more than half of those attacks, including the Dec. 27 attack, the United States had high confidence that Khataib Hezbollah was responsible.

The United States has not presented any of its intelligence publicly. Nor has it shared the intelligence with Iraq.

“We have requested the American side to share with us any information, any evidence, but they have not sent us any information,” Lt. Gen. Muhammad al-Bayati, the chief of staff for former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, said in an interview.

The director general of Iraqi Intelligence and Counterterrorism, Abu Ali al-Basri, said the United States did not consult Iraq before carrying out the Dec. 29 counterattacks on Khataib Hezbollah.

“They did not ask for my analysis of what happened in Kirkuk and neither did they share any of their information,” he said. “Usually, they would do both.”

Despite the fact that American and Iraqi forces work side by side on counterterrorism, American intelligence and defense officials said that the United States does not always share sensitive intelligence with Iraq because Iranian operatives have penetrated the Baghdad government and will feed intelligence to Tehran.

Iraqi intelligence officials said it was difficult to assess the American assertions without seeing the American intelligence.

They said they saw nothing unusual about the truck or the rockets used in the Dec. 27 attack that would have connected them to Khataib Hezbollah. The truck was a standard Kia pickup, except that its bed had been fitted with rocket launchers, they said. The rockets — 107 mm katyushas — are used by all sides in Iraq.

General Adnan said he delivered the truck to the Americans, and that American investigators removed any rocket fragments and one unexploded rocket from the Iraqi side of the base, so it would be difficult for the Iraqis to conduct a deeper forensic investigation of their own.

One discrepancy in the intelligence concerns the number of rockets fired. The Americans said that 31 rockets were fired.

Iraqi witnesses, including General Adnan, who was the first to reach the truck, counted 11.

Several Iraqi officers on the K-1 base thought there might have been as many as 16 but definitely not 31.

Ali Farhan, a farmer and the mayor of Neptis, a tiny village about four miles from K-1 and barely a mile from the launch site, said he happened to be outside talking to his brother about the next morning’s plowing when he saw a truck coming from the southwest — territory friendly to the Islamic State. The truck veered onto a dirt track, went another half mile or so, stopped and turned off its lights.

About 35 minutes later, at 7:20 p.m., he saw the first rocket arc into the sky. So did General Adnan, whom the mayor had called for help and who was driving as fast as he could on the dirt road toward the truck to stop it.

“I immediately called headquarters and warned them that rockets had begun to launch toward our base,” General Adnan recalled.

When he reached the truck, he found that the attack could have been worse. There were three racks of 12 launchers, but fewer than half appeared to have had rockets in them and of those four had failed to launch. That would mean a maximum of 14 rockets were fired.

The attack was hardly unanticipated. On Nov. 6, Iraq’s National Security Council sent a report to the Americans noting that since last October, “ISIS terrorists have endeavored to target K-1 base in Kirkuk district by indirect fire (Katyusha rockets).”

An intelligence brief sent to United States officials on Dec. 25 said that Islamic State fighters were trying to gain ground northwest of K-1.

General Adnan said he had warned the Americans about the possibility of a rocket attack on K-1 as recently as lunch the day of the attack when the Iraqis had invited the American commanders at the base for security talks over chicken tikka, rice and kebabs.

One Iraqi Federal Police commander, Col. Talib Madhloum al-Tamimi, said he had beseeched the Americans to keep their reconnaissance balloon in the air to help prevent an attack, but the balloon was down that day for maintenance, he said.

General Adnan said three rockets fell on the Iraqi side of the K-1 base, one on the perimeter fence and about seven on the American side. At least one hit a munitions store on the American side, causing a large secondary explosion.

Unlike most of the attacks against Iraqi and American targets, this one had casualties. Four American soldiers and two Iraqi federal police officers were wounded. The civilian contractor who was killed, an Iraqi-born American named Nawres Waleed Hamid, was working as an interpreter for the Americans.

For the chief of staff of the Iraqi side of the base, Brig. Gen. Amer Isa Hassan, the logical conclusion was that the Islamic State was responsible. “The villages near here are Turkmen and Arab,” he said. “There is sympathy with Daesh there. Why do we resort to blaming Hezbollah or others?”

The Islamic State has been increasingly active in this part of Kirkuk Province in the past year, carrying out near daily attacks with roadside bombs and ambushes using small arms.

Six days after the attack on the base, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper told reporters, “As you know, last Friday, U.S. forces were attacked by Khataib Hezbollah in — at a base near Kirkuk.”

When American officials informed the Iraqi prime minister they were about to bomb Khataib Hezbollah bases in retaliation, the Iraqis were startled.

Iraqi officials said the group had not had a presence in Kirkuk Province in years. The only time it was active there, they said, was in 2014 during the early days of the fight against the Islamic State.

Muhammad Muhi, the spokesman for Khataib Hezbollah, denied that the militia was responsible for the attack on K-1. The group was only in Kirkuk Province for 80 days in 2014, he said in an interview.

If the Americans had proof that Khataib Hezbollah carried out the attack, he said, they should “share it.”

American officials said that the group has operated throughout Iraq, and has routinely conducted attacks in Sunni territory.

The American attacks on Khataib Hezbollah on Jan. 2 and the drone attack that killed the Iranian and Iraqi military leaders at the Baghdad airport the next day led to widespread anger against the American presence in Iraq and a vote in Iraq’s Parliament to expel all American forces.

The United States has about 5,000 troops in Iraq, whose primary mission is fighting the Islamic State and training the Iraqi military. The Iraqi government has not yet formally asked the Americans to leave but officials on both sides report that relations have been strained.

Iraqi officials say many unanswered questions remain about who was responsible for the K-1 attack.

“The identity still has not been confirmed,” said Abdul Hussain al-Hunain, an aide to Mr. Abdul Mahdi who served as prime minister until Saturday. “There are certain suspicions and I do not claim to know everything, but it be could ISIS or the Baath Party,” he said, referring to disgruntled remnants of the Sunni establishment that held sway over Iraq before the American invasion of 2003. “The situation is complicated in Iraq.”

Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Falih Hassan from Baghdad.

Military “Free-for-all” Brewing Around Idlib, Coincidentally With Upsurge In Al-Nusra Terror Attacks

Foreign Ministry blames terrorists for death of Russian, Turkish military experts in Syria

More than 1,000 attacks have been recorded in the past two weeks alone, the Russian Foreign Ministry said

Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

Russian Foreign Ministry

© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, February 6. /TASS/. Increasing terrorist activities in Syria have led to the death of Russian and Turkish military experts, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the ministry, Syrian government forces had to react to the unacceptable rise in terrorist activities. In particular, terrorists from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terror group [the new name of the Jabhat al-Nusra group outlawed in Russia – TASS], who seized the de-escalation zone, stepped up their attacks on Syrian troops and nearby cities, primarily, Aleppo, in December 2019 and January 2020.

“In mid-January, the Russian and Turkish militaries made another effort to introduce a ceasefire in the Idlib de-escalation zone. However, instead of reducing their military activities, terrorists increased attacks,” the statement said. “More than 1,000 attacks have been recorded in the past two weeks alone. Hundreds of Syrian troops and civilians have been killed and wounded. Russian and Turkish military experts have died tragically. Drone attacks on Russia’s Hmeymim Air Base are ongoing,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.

According to the document, all this points to an unacceptable increase in terrorist strength in Idlib, where militants have complete impunity and free hands, while the movement of armed groups first to northeastern Syria and then to Libya has taken the number of radicals to dangerous heights. “Government forces had to react to these developments in order to protect hundreds and thousands of Syrians from terrorist violence. A thing to note is that the Syrian army is fighting on its own soil against those designated as terrorists by the UN Security Council. There can be no interpretations. It is the Syrian government’s right and responsibility to combat terrorists in the country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry emphasized.

Commitment to agreements

Moscow remains committed to the agreements reached by the Astana trio (Russia, Iran, Turkey) and will continue coordination with Ankara and Tehran for the sake of achieving security in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out.

“We reaffirm our commitment to the agreements reached at the Astana talks, which envisage fighting terrorist groups in Syria on the condition of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. We will maintain close coordination with our Turkish and Iranian partners for the sake of achieving lasting stability and security on the ground and advancing the political process conducted by the Syrians themselves with the assistance of the United Nations and in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2254,” the statement added.

US Disinformation Website Forced To Report the Truth, Refutes Turkish Report Claiming Attack On Syrian Troops

[SEE: Turkey Claims Syrian Shelling of Turkish Troops, Then Turkish Counterattack–Russia Reports Nothing Happened]

SYRIA -- A Turkey Armed Forces convoy is seen at a highway between Maaret al-Numan and Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, August 19, 2019
SYRIA — A Turkey Armed Forces convoy is seen at a highway between Maaret al-Numan and Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, August 19, 2019

Hulusi Akar, Turkish Defense Minister

“Turkey struck over 50 targets in retaliation and killed 76 Syrian soldiers.”

LIKELY FALSE
The casualty numbers may have been exaggerated; an earlier count by Turkey’s president was far lower.

On Feb. 3, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar claimed his forces in Syria “neutralized” 76 Syrian regime soldiers in a series air and artillery strikes. The attacks were retaliation for the killing of six Turkish soldiers and three civilian contractors by Syrian regime shelling a day earlier.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already claimed the strikes killed 30-35 regime soldiers. Moreover, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death count even lower, at 13.

Russia’s defense ministry denied that such strikes took place. The Russian state news agency TASS quoted a ministry statement that said, “Turkish Air Force aircraft did not violate Syria’s borders, no airstrikes on the positions of Syrian troops have been recorded.”

On Feb. 4, an independent Syrian journalist Harun Alaswad reported that a Turkish F-16 had crossed the border near Idlib, but did not mention any casualties. Syrian regime media also have not reported any deaths.

In sum, there is scant evidence from independent sources to support Turkey’s claims that it hit over 50 targets in Syria in attacks that killed 76 regime soldiers.

Observers typically track regime loyalist deaths based on social media posts from family members or community groups.

Trent Schoenborn, of International Review, a volunteer analytical organization which has been tracking military losses in Syria, told Polygraph.info by email the claim of 76 Syrian regime troops killed is doubtful.

“Our observations over the last couple of days have given no indication that that many Syrian government personnel have been killed in action overall in Idlib province, much less by Turkish strikes,” Schoenborn wrote.

“There is no information that we have seen to suggest that any of the casualties inflicted in this time period were caused by Turkish strikes or not, as most reports don’t give specifics about the nature of the death.”

According to Schoenborn, 16 pro-government personnel were killed in Idlib province over Feb. 2-3, eight on each day. The Turkish attack and Defense Minister Akar’s claim of 76 dead were reported on Feb. 3.

“We are still getting data in from these two days so the full picture is not yet available, but the current observations suggest the numbers are nowhere near what the Turkish claim was,” Schoenborn wrote.

Since the incident, Erdogan has promised that Turkey will continue its military observation posts in Idlib, the Syrian opposition’s last major holdout. The area has been designated a “de-escalation zone” per an agreement between Russia, the regime, Turkey, and some of the Syrian opposition.

Erdogan also said there is “no need to be in collision with Russia” and listed various strategic partnerships between the two countries, including the Turk Stream gas pipeline.

Russian and regime airstrikes continue to hit civilians in the area around Idlib. On Feb. 5, Erdogan demanded that Syrian regime forces pull back from Idlib by the end of this month or face further action from Turkish forces. A day earlier, the U.S. State Department issued a statement in support of Turkey’s intervention.

Turkey Claims Syrian Shelling of Turkish Troops, Then Turkish Counterattack–Russia Reports Nothing Happened

Syrian govt shelling kills Turkish troops in Idlib, Ankara says, prompting retaliatory strike

Turkey hits back at 54 regime targets after Syrian shells kill Turkish troops

Russian Defense Ministry denies reports of Turkish air strikes on Syrian troops

Erdogan said earlier that F-16 fighters from the Turkish Air Force and artillery crews had carried strikes on 40 targets in Idlib

Russian Defense Ministry Stoyan Vasev/TASS

Russian Defense Ministry

© Stoyan Vasev/TASS

MOSCOW, February 3. /TASS/. Turkish aircraft did not enter Syrian airspace to carry out airstrikes on the positions of Syrian government forces, the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria (part of the Russian Defense Ministry) said in a statement on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier at a press conference in Ankara that F-16 fighters from the Turkish Air Force and artillery crews had carried strikes on 40 targets in Idlib in response to an attack on the Turkish positions, which had killed four troops. According to Erdogan, the retaliatory attack killed 30-35 Syrians. However, the Turkish president did not specify if they were military servicemen.

 

 

US Makes Effort To Muscle Russia Out of Belarus Oil and Gas Markets

US offers to supply Belarus with oil and gas

US officials have told Belarus they would be happy to supply all oil and gas the Eastern European nation needs after its usual supplier — Russia —  turned off the spigot.

“The United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a joint presser with Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei “Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100% of the oil you need at competitive prices. We’re the biggest energy producer in the world and all you have to do is call us.”

Once a close Russian ally, Belarus has become more afraid of being absorbed by Russia after the nations couldn’t agree on new oil prices in 2020. Russia had insisted on greater economic integration as a condition for reduced rates.

The United States has historically had a fraught relationship with Belarus, imposing sanctions for more than a decade over human rights abuses. The country was called “Europe’s last dictatorship” by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served in the administration of George W. Bush.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has held power since 1994.