Obama’s “al-CIA-da” Strategy–Fight ISIS To Give Al-Nusra Time To Grow Strong

[Al Golani is a creation of the intelligence agencies (SEE: The layers of fiction surrounding Al Nusra chief Abu Mohammed Al Jolani).  He is credited with leading one of the currents generated by the break-up of Al-Qaida In Iraq, the same terrorist outfit which has been holding Lebanese soldiers hostage, after beheading 4 of them.  Nusra is fighting a holding action on the Leb. Army, giving ISIS time to lay in supplies the mountains of the east, preparing for an anticipated major assault upon Lebanon from Qalamoun in Syria.  Lebanon is expected to join a US anti-ISIS coalition, while it fights al-Nusra without proper weapons. 

Truth be told, Lebanon is expected to fold-up and play dead in the face of a sustained assault by the offspring of al-Q In Iraq.  Both ISIS  and al-Nusra are “al-CIA-da.”]

Nusra Front Quietly Rises in Syria as Islamic State Targeted

daily star LEB

W460

The Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate, is consolidating power in territory stretching from the Turkish border to central and southern Syria, crushing moderate opponents and forcibly converting minorities using tactics akin to its ultraconservative rival, the Islamic State group.

But while the Islamic State group gets most of the attention largely because its penchant for gruesome propaganda, the Nusra Front quietly has become one of the key players in the four-year civil war, compromising other rebel groups the West may try to work with while increasingly enforcing its own brutal version of Islamic law.

Its scope of influence now abuts the Golan Heights bordering Israel, and its membership largely composed of Syrian nationals refuse any negotiations with the government of embattled President Bashar Assad, further complicating the brutal conflict.

“The Nusra Front will most likely outlast ISIS in Syria, and will represent a severe and existential threat to the aspirations of the Syrian people in terms of a pluralistic, democratic society,” said Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics, using an alternate acronym for the extremist group.

The Islamic State group helped create the Nusra Front, providing financing, manpower and military hardware in 2012. But the group and its patron eventually had a falling out in 2013 for ideological as well as strategic reasons. The Nusra Front, while loyal to al-Qaida, has cooperated with other Syrian rebel factions in the fight to oust Assad.

In recent months, the group has overrun rebel strongholds in Syria’s Idlib province, trouncing two prominent, U.S.-backed rebel factions, Harakat Hazm and the Syria Revolutionaries Front. Following the deadly clashes, SRF leader Jamal Maarouf fled to Turkey and Hazm announced it was dissolving.

A Middle East-based Western diplomat said the Nusra Front began its attacks on moderate, U.S.-backed rebel factions after the American-led coalition began airstrikes in September targeting both the Islamic State group and the Khorasan group, which Washington says is a special cell within Nusra plotting attacks against Western interests. U.S. officials last week said airstrikes have hit as many as 17 separate targets connected to the Khorasan group.

The Nusra Front responded with a series of spectacular attacks targeting moderate rebel groups and forces loyal to Assad in northwestern Syria, the diplomat said.

It “has now created coherent control of a strategic area between Idlib and Hama (provinces) in northwestern and central Syria,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists.

At the same time, the group has become increasingly aggressive toward local populations. In January, members of the group reportedly shot a woman dead in front of a crowd in Idlib after they accused her of being a prostitute. The group also has carried out public lashings, crucifixions and kidnappings — though it has not publicized the atrocities like the Islamic State group.

Activists in southern Syria say the Nusra Front was behind the January bombing that destroyed the shrine of a 13th century Muslim scholar. The Nusra Front issued a statement denying it was involved but activists say its members were seen placing the bombs.

“They’re trying to come across as rational, moderate, more dynamic,” Gerges said. “They don’t celebrate savagery in the same way like the Islamic State group.”

Residents say among the group’s most worrisome action so far is forcing members of the minority Druze sect living in Idlib’s Jabal al-Summaq region to convert to Sunni Islam.

The Druze, a 10th century offshoot of Shiite Islam, made up about 5 percent of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million people. In addition to Syria, Lebanon and Israel have large Druze communities.

“The Druze in Idlib are being subjected today to religious persecution. The Nusra Front carried out shameful acts. They have dug graves and damaged shrines,” said former Lebanese Cabinet minister Wiam Wahhab, a Druze politician with close ties to the community in Syria.

Activists estimate several hundred Druze have been forced to convert. A purported Nusra Front document, posted online and dated Feb. 1, outlined an agreement that saw Druze in 14 villages in Idlib convert. Under the deal, the Druze will implement Islamic laws, destroy tombs, impose Islamic dress on women and stop having mixed-sex schools. Idlib-based activist Asaad Kanjo said many Druze there have fled.

“You are likely to see this sort of behavior from Nusra in Idlib province because they are increasingly the dominant party in this part of Syria, and are in the midst of a concerted effort to eliminate rivals there,” said Faysal Itani, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council. “Nusra ultimately wants to rule Syria.”

An opposition activist in Kafranbel, a town in Idlib, said the group has established an elaborate network of social services and Shariah courts and rules uncontested. Remaining rebel groups in the province operate only with Nusra’s approval, he said.

However, the group’s increasingly belligerent approach toward other rebel groups is starting to alienate former allies, said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The main Western-backed Syrian group, the Syrian National Coalition, which in the past has been wary not to criticize Nusra, has changed its tune.

“We are concerned over Al Nusra’s latest actions and abuses against civilians and (Free Syrian Army) fighters,” said spokesman Salem al-Meslet, adding that the abuses were akin to the Islamic State group and Syrian government forces’ “criminal behavior.”

The criticism has led the Nusra Front to issue a rare statement defending itself, saying its target are only those proven to have committed “crimes” against Muslims and fighters.

“It was not our intention on any day to spread influence and expand and control the worshippers and the country,” the statement from its Al-Manara Al-Bayda media arm said. “Rather, our goal and aim is to lift injustice from the oppressed, and push away every enemy that attacks the honor, religion, and sanctities of the Muslims.”

POLL–US Trust In Government and Its Lapdog Media Flatline

[There is a simple explanation for this trend…Most Americans have learned the hard way that government and US media only deal in lies. Government officials spoon-feed us the lies in “soundbite” format, while media expands upon govt. lies, fleshing-out the fabricated details of the latest “news” that they want us to believe. Neither can be trusted, yet the govt. keeps on making even bigger mistakes on our behalf, while the media creates the false narrative that is used to steer us all away from any real truth. We need citizens investigative committees to out the liars and correct the false “history” that they have been able to construct.]

US trust in govt, media at record low – poll

Russia-Today
Reuters / Shannon Stapleton

Reuters / Shannon Stapleton

Americans are less confident in the government than ever before and consider it a bigger problem than the economy and unemployment, according to a comprehensive social survey for 2014 and a just-released Gallup poll.

Only 10 percent of Americans consider the nation’s job situation to be the top problem. Eleven percent are most worried about the economy, according to a Gallup poll published Thursday. Meanwhile, 18 percent say the government is the biggest problem the country is facing.

‘Analysis of the General Social Survey for 2014,’ published Wednesday by the Associated Press, indicates that confidence in the government is at an all-time low. Only 11 percent of adult Americans interviewed had high confidence in the executive branch, and a record-high 44 percent said they had “hardly any confidence at all.”

AP-NORC Center and GSS

AP-NORC Center and GSS

Confidence in the US Supreme Court is at 23 percent, while only five percent are confident in Congress. Both are historical lows since the GSS survey was first conducted in 1972 by the NORC Center for Public Affairs at the University of Chicago.

While confidence in the White House tends to vary depending on party affiliation, the new survey reveals that confidence among Democrats decreased from 25 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2014.

Over half of Americans express hardly any confidence at all, while only 7 percent of Democrats, 5 percent of independents and 3 percent of Republicans have a great deal of confidence in Congress,” said the analysis by AP and NORC.

Though confidence in the US military is dropping, it remains above 50 percent.

AP-NORC Center and GSS

AP-NORC Center and GSS

Trust in the media is low as well. Only seven percent of Americans polled have a large amount of confidence, while 44 percent have hardly any at all. Only three percent of Republicans and 10 percent of Democrats have a lot of confidence in the press. Only one in 10 Americans has a lot of confidence in television.

While only 10 percent are confident in organized labor, more Americans trust banks and financial institutions than before – 15 percent now, up from an all-time low of 11 percent in 2010. Only 10 percent have a lot of confidence in organized labor.

Not everything seems bleak, however. Thursday’s Gallup poll showed that 31 percent of Americans are satisfied with the country’s direction – a small drop from 33 percent during the 2012 presidential campaign. The all-time low was seven percent during the financial crisis in 2008, and the all-time high was in February 1999, during the dot-com boom.

Gallup polled 1,025 adults between March 5-8. The General Social Survey was based on interviews with a representative sample of 2,538 adults, conducted between March and October 2014.

Bemoaning the Human Tragedy of Syria, Without Blaming Obama For It

[The US military has created so many new wars throughout the region that it should have fully absorbed the lessons of those wars by now, in particular, the grieveous human cost of ill-advised, or outright foolish military adventurism. Unleashing tnunamis of war refugees is a bi-product of all war, contingencies should have been prepared years ago (before starting new wars) to humanely deal with the refugees in surrounding countries. Blaming any of this upon ISIS should be unacceptable since it was the US/Saudi sponsorship of Islamists within Syria that created the monster in the first place. The ISIS/refugee problems which arose offer proof that the Pentagon either suffers from a total lack of foresight or the slightest degree human compassion. It is no wonder that so many returning war vets suffer from PTSD. Any legislation passed to deal with the refugee crisis now, should have already been enacted after the first regime-change disaster in Iraq, or before the consecutive disasters in Libya, Syria, Yeman, and Ukraine (?).]

npr
Syrian girls, carrying school bags provided by UNICEF, walk past the rubble of destroyed buildings on their way home from school on March 7 in the rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. So many people have fled the city and so much of its infrastructure has been destroyed that nighttime satellite images show 97 percent less light compared to four years ago.

Syrian girls, carrying school bags provided by UNICEF, walk past the rubble of destroyed buildings on their way home from school on March 7 in the rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. So many people have fled the city and so much of its infrastructure has been destroyed that nighttime satellite images show 97 percent less light compared to four years ago.  Zein al-Rifai/AFP/Getty Images

 

The conflict in Syria is entering its fifth year, and two new reports suggest it just keeps getting worse for civilians there.

One United Nations agency says life expectancy has plummeted by 20 years in the once-developed nation, while another new study based on nighttime satellite imagery finds that, in the past four years, 83 percent of the country’s lights have gone off.

And that’s just the average, says Michael Klosson, vice president for policy at aid group Save the Children. In areas like Aleppo, where much of the populace has fled and infrastructure has been pulverized, researchers found that light has been reduced as much as 97 percent.

Klosson says he thinks the satellite images illustrate that the hopes for Syria’s children — his aid group’s focus — are darkening.

“You’ve got 5.5 million kids who need humanitarian assistance — that’s equivalent to the population of the entire state of Maryland,” he says. “That’s a lot of kids in need.”

Meanwhile the U.N. report says life expectancy has fallen from nearly 76 years to under 56 in Syria, that the nation’s education system has collapsed and that the country is descending into poverty.All that despite a UN Security Council resolution passed last year to open up aid routes. Activists say it’s had little impact.

“The U.N. and the world have failed, and things have gotten worse for civilians,” says Gawain Kripke, director of policy and research at Oxfam America. “Our ability to provide assistance has been limited, and there are more people in places that are hard to reach now, than there were before the U.N. took action.”

Aid groups can’t get to about 4.8 million people in Syria, Kripke says, 2.5 percent higher than in 2013. The rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State certainly plays a role, but Kripke says Washington has been too focused on that.

“We’re spending a lot of time, money and resources focusing on parts of the problem — like ISIS — but it’s not a comprehensive solution to the conflict,” he says. “And it’s ignoring the suffering that’s going on.”

The problem is so enormous — former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday said, “What is happening on the ground in Syria is a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe of the first order” — that some worry people may decide it’s a lost cause.

“It has the danger of people switching off, because it’s hard to imagine what can be done,” says Nigel Pont, who is stationed in Beirut for Mercy Corps. “While we are not able to put an end to this war, and while we can’t alleviate everyone’s suffering, we are able to help millions of people a year.”

Save the Children’s Klosson also worries that the world’s attention is shifting away, and is urging the U.S. and other world powers to step up humanitarian assistance and work harder to find a solution the conflict.

“That’s how you get the lights back on,” he says.

Dumb-Ass Republican Leadership Frothing At the Mouth For MORE WAR!

[SEE:  Half of the US Senate Publicly Undermines and Embarasses the President of the United States (Cotton and 46 Fellow Senators to Send Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran)]

GOP’s New Foreign Policy Hero Is a Surveillance-Loving Interventionist Nightmare

reason

In soviet America, Cotton picks you! |||
Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton wants to invade Iran and Syria, jail journalists and whistleblowers, eavesdrop on Americans, and keep the ‘savages’ locked up in Gitmo.

Matt Welch

He’s “the star of the 2014 Senate class,” proclaims The Washington Post. A “conservative superstar,” deems The Atlantic. The “leading GOP national security hawk,” says The Washington Post again. Even a “dark horse” 2016 candidate for president, says The New Republic. So just who exactly is the new letter-writing chairman of the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee, and what does his prominence say about the contemporary GOP?

Beyond being a Harvard-educated Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol’s biggest new political protégé, and also a target of sustained affection from National Review, Cotton is a politician who has already taken plenty of policy positions. Among them:

* That the U.S. should pre-emptively invade Iran, topple the mullahs, and ensure “replacement with [a] pro-western regime.”

* That “we should be proud for the way we treated these savages at Guantanamo Bay,” and that “the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is that there are too many empty beds.”

* That we should keep at least 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the forseeable future to finally get the job done there.

* That the U.S. should deploy ground troops against ISIS.

* That President Barack Obama should have taken “decisive, effective military action” against Syria after the regime crossed the administration’s “red line” in 2013.

* That the National Security Agency needs to be able to collect bulk metadata on unsuspecting Americans, because “Folks, we are at war. You may not like that truth … Do not take this tool away from our warriors on the front lines.”

* That Edward Snowden is a “traitor.”

* That defense spending needs to be jacked up: “We need to restore money not only cut by the sequester but the $1 trillion [reduced before that].”

* That, “Far from restraining the use of drones […] through unwise and unconstitutional mechanisms, we should continue and probably expand their use in our war against radical Islam.”

* That Iraq was a “just and noble war.”

* That, concerning pre-emptive military intervention, “George Bush largely did have it right, that we can’t wait for dangers to gather on the horizon, that we can’t let the world’s most dangerous people get the world’s most dangerous weapons, and that we have to be willing to defend our interests and the safety of our citizens abroad even if we don’t get the approval of the United Nations.”

* That ending President Barack Obama’s negotiations with Iran “is very much an intended consequence” of Cotton’s efforts in the Senate; “a feature, not a bug.”

* That, concerning the Obama administration’s November 2013 agreement with Iran in Geneva, “I fear that future generations may view what happened in Geneva as we have viewed Munich for 75 years. What makes this moment worse is that the West appeased Hitler at Munich out of fear and weakness. President Obama capitulated at Geneva even though we were in a position of strength given the sanctions regime. One can only imagine the thinking behind this grievous, historic mistake.”

Cotton first came to prominence as an Army lieutenant in Iraq in 2006, when he wrote a soon-to-be-viral open letter to then-New York Times executive editor Bill Keller and reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau criticizing the paper’s investigative piece about administration efforts to disrupt terrorist financing. The letter closes with a desire to see the journalists deprived of their freedom:

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others — laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

It is no wonder that neoconservatives such as Washington Free Beacon founder Michael Goldfarb wish “there were 20 Tom Cottons.” The open question, as it pertains to the new GOP majority, is whether Goldfarb is correct in his assessment that “At the end of the day, the Republican base is for bombing bad people.”

 

China’s Ambassador To Belgium Blames Ukraine Crisis On Big Powers Playing Games

qu xingInterview: Chinese diplomat calls powers’ game root cause of Ukraine crisis

Xinhua net

BRUSSELS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — A senior Chinese diplomat has said that the nature and root cause of Ukraine crisis was the game between Russia and western powers, including the United States and the European Union.

“There were internal and external reasons for the Ukraine crisis. Originally, the issue stemmed from Ukraine’s internal problems, but it now was not a simple internal matter. Without external intervention from different powers, the Ukrainian problem would not develop into the serious crisis as it be,” Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Qu Xing told Xinhua in a recent interview.

POWERS’ GAME ROOT TO UKRAINE CRISIS

Qu said that from the perspective of Ukraine’s internal affairs, the eastern and western regions in Ukraine differed in culture, ethnic groups, understanding of history, and social and economic development, so the relationship between the two parts had long been affected by external forces.

Moreover, in recent years, as Ukraine underwent repeated changes of regime, politicians focused more on partisan struggle rather than improving people’s livelihood. Thereby weak economy and severe corruption further intensified internal contradictions.

Qu noted that Russia would felt anxious that the West may squeeze its geographical space by extending influence in eastern European countries including Ukraine.

In addition, Qu said that the involvement of the United States in Ukraine crisis would become a distraction in its foreign policy, including its “re-balancing strategy”.

“The United States is unwilling to see its presence in any part of the world being weakened, but the fact is its resources are limited, and it will be to some extent a hard work to sustain its influence in external affairs, ” Qu said.

TO RETHINK CONCEPTS IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS

“The major powers need to seek a win-win situation rather than zero-sum security,” Qu said, pointing out that countries needed to rethink the concepts in international affairs and learn a lesson from the Ukraine crisis.

He said for the West’s own part, although its military strength had been comparatively powerful, it still felt no absolute security with taking continuous steps to cement security, including moves to enhance the global distribution of ballistic missile defense systems.

An example of west powers’ high sensitivity about their own security could be that the United States had a national security review system for foreign investors’ mergers and acquisition activities in the United States. But its definition of “national security” was not clear enough and the process of the review should be more transparent to the public, Qu said.

If a country is highly sensitive to its own security, while ignoring other countries’ basic security needs and concerns, it will cause lots of problems, and the phenomenon would be a serious issue in nowadays international society. If this problem cannot be solved, the Ukraine issue and some other similar global problems would not be solved, he said.

If the western powers do not have the same acknowledgment of Russia’s security concerns and security needs, Russia will feel that it has not been equally treated by the West, and its security interests and development interests have not been respected by the West, he said.

“The West should abandon the zero-sum mentality, and take the real security concerns of Russia into consideration,” said Qu.

Against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, the international community must re-think over the concepts of international relations. Major powers must get along with each other following the principle of equality, cooperation, and mutual benefits and trust, so as to realize win-win situation in the global scenario, he said.

EU MORE PRAGMATIC THAN US OVER UKRAINE ISSUE

As to the U.S. and Europe’s stance on the issue of Ukraine, Qu said the United States and Europe essentially had the same strategy, but their tactics were different, as their geopolitical interests were different, said Qu.

As Ukraine and Europe share geopolitical proximity, Ukraine’s chaos will definitely cause instability in Europe. Also, the EU had energy dependence on Russia. Therefore, the EU held more pragmatic attitudes than the United States over the Ukraine issue, he said.

The fact that the United States did not participate in the latest round of negotiations in Minsk precisely reflected the Western parties’ concerns and tactics. On the one hand, the absence of the United States raised the negotiation leverage for European partners to force other parties to make more concession. On the other hand, this left the West further action maneuver.

“Even though a latest ceasefire agreement had been achieved, it is still possible for the Western parties to change the original decisions in the future for the excuse that the United States was not involved in the negotiations,” he said.

Qu said China hopes the Ukraine crisis could be solved in the political way. On the one hand, China and Ukraine are traditional friendly countries. China has always pursued the principles of non-interference, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And on the other hand, China acknowledges that the issue involved complicated historical elements.

Editor: Tian Shaohui

Playing Nuclear Chicken in Kiev

Playing Nuclear Chicken in Kiev

pacificfreepress

by Robert Parry – Consortium News

Ready for Nuclear War over Ukraine?

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of 

Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a 
Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV.)
A senior Ukrainian official is urging the West to risk a nuclear conflagration in support of a “full-scale war” with Russia that he says authorities in Kiev are now seeking, another sign of the extremism that pervades the year-old, U.S.-backed regime in Kiev.
During a recent visit to Canada, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told CBC Radio that “Everybody is afraid of fighting with a nuclear state. We are not anymore, in Ukraine — we’ve lost so many people of ours, we’ve lost so much of our territory.”
Prystaiko added, “However dangerous it sounds, we have to stop [Russian President Vladimir Putin] somehow. For the sake of the Russian nation as well, not just for the Ukrainians and Europe.” The deputy foreign minister announced that Kiev is preparing for “full-scale war” against Russia and wants the West to supply lethal weapons and training so the fight can be taken to Russia.
“What we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little,” Prystaiko said.
Yet, what is perhaps most remarkable about Prystaiko’s “Dr. Strangelove” moment is that it produced almost no reaction in the West. You have a senior Ukrainian official saying that the world should risk nuclear war over a civil conflict in Ukraine between its west, which favors closer ties to Europe, and its east, which wants to maintain its historic relationship with Russia.
Why should such a pedestrian dispute justify the possibility of vaporizing millions of human beings and conceivably ending life on the planet? Yet, instead of working out a plan for a federalized structure in Ukraine or even allowing people in the east to vote on whether they want to remain under the control of the Kiev regime, the world is supposed to risk nuclear annihilation.
But therein lies one of the under-reported stories of the Ukraine crisis: There is a madness to the Kiev regime that the West doesn’t want to recognize because to do so would upend the dominant narrative of “our” good guys vs. Russia’s bad guys. If we begin to notice that the right-wing regime in Kiev is crazy and brutal, we might also start questioning the “Russian aggression” mantra.
According to the Western “group think,” the post-coup Ukrainian government “shares our values” by favoring democracy and modernity, while the rebellious ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine are “Moscow’s minions” representing dark forces of backwardness and violence, personified by Russia’s “irrational” President Putin. In this view, the conflict is a clash between the forces of good and evil where there is no space for compromise.
Yet, there is a craziness to this “group think” that is highlighted by Prystaiko’s comments. Not only does the Kiev regime display a cavalier attitude about dragging the world into a nuclear catastrophe but it also has deployed armed neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists to wage a dirty war in the east that has involved torture and death-squad activities.

Not Since Adolf Hitler

No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet, across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality, even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established.

The New York Times and the Washington Post have spearheaded this journalistic malfeasance by putting on blinders so as not to see Ukraine’s neo-Nazis, such as when describing the key role played by the Azov battalion in the war against ethnic Russians in the east.
On Feb. 20, in a report from Mariupol, the Post cited the Azov battalion’s importance in defending the port city against a possible rebel offensive. Correspondent Karoun Demirjian wrote:
“Petro Guk, the commander of the Azov battalion’s reinforcement operations in Mariupol, said in an interview that the battalion is ‘getting ready for’ street-to-street combat in the city. The Azov battalion, now a regiment in the Ukrainian army, is known as one of the fiercest fighting forces­ in the pro-Kiev operation.
“But … it has pulled away from the front lines on a scheduled rest-and-retraining rotation, Guk said, leaving the Ukrainian army — a less capable force, in his opinion — in its place. His advice to residents of Mariupol is to get ready for the worst.
“‘If it is your home, you should be ready to fight for it, and accept that if the fight is for your home, you must defend it,’ he said, when asked whether residents should prepare to leave. Some are ready to heed that call, as a matter of patriotic duty.”
The Post’s stirring words fit with the Western media’s insistent narrative and its refusal to include meaningful background about the Azov battalion, which is known for marching under Nazi banners, displaying the Swastika and painting SS symbols on its helmets.
The New York Times filed a similarly disingenuous article from Mariupol on Feb. 11, depicting the ethnic Russian rebels as barbarians at the gate with the Azov battalion defending civilization. Though providing much color and detail – and quoting an Azov leader prominently – the Times left out the salient and well-known fact that the Azov battalion is composed of neo-Nazis.
But this inconvenient truth – that neo-Nazis have been central to Kiev’s “self-defense forces” from last February’s coup to the present – would disrupt the desired propaganda message to American readers. So the New York Times just ignores the Nazism and refers to Azov as a “volunteer unit.”
Yet, this glaring omission is prima facie proof of journalistic bias. There’s no way that the editors of the Post and Times don’t know that the presence of neo-Nazis is newsworthy. Indeed, there’s a powerful irony in this portrayal of Nazis as the bulwark of Western civilization against the Russian hordes from the East. It was, after all, the Russians who broke the back of Nazism in World War II as Hitler sought to subjugate Europe and destroy Western civilization as we know it.
That the Nazis are now being depicted as defenders of Western ideals has to be the ultimate man-bites-dog story. But it goes essentially unreported in the New York Times and Washington Post as does the inconvenient presence of other Nazis holding prominent positions in the post-coup regime, including Andriy Parubiy, who was the military commander of the Maidan protests and served as the first national security chief of the Kiev regime. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass.”]

The Nazi Reality

Regarding the Azov battalion, the Post and Times have sought to bury the Nazi reality, but both have also acknowledged it in passing. For instance, on Aug. 10, 2014, a Times’ article mentioned the neo-Nazi nature of the Azov battalion in the last three paragraphs of a lengthy story on another topic.

“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat,” the Times reported.

“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Whites Out Ukraine’s Brownshirts.”]Similarly, the Post published a lead story last Sept. 12 describing the Azov battalion in flattering terms, saving for the last three paragraphs the problematic reality that the fighters are fond of displaying the Swastika:

“In one room, a recruit had emblazoned a swastika above his bed. But Kirt [a platoon leader] … dismissed questions of ideology, saying that the volunteers — many of them still teenagers — embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of ‘romantic’ idea.”
Other news organizations have been more forthright about this Nazi reality. For instance, the conservative London Telegraph published an article by correspondent Tom Parfitt, who wrote: “Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’… should send a shiver down Europe’s spine.
“Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”
Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.
Andriy Biletsky, the Azov commander, “is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly,” according to the Telegraph article which quoted a commentary by Biletsky as declaring: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
The Telegraph questioned Ukrainian authorities in Kiev who acknowledged that they were aware of the extremist ideologies of some militias but insisted that the higher priority was having troops who were strongly motivated to fight.
Azov fighters even emblazon the Swastika and the SS insignia on their helmets. NBC News reported: “Germans were confronted with images of their country’s dark past … when German public broadcaster ZDF showed video of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets in its evening newscast.”
But it’s now clear that far-right extremism is not limited to the militias sent to kill ethnic Russians in the east or to the presence of a few neo-Nazi officials who were rewarded for their roles in last February’s coup. The fanaticism is present at the center of the Kiev regime, including its deputy foreign minister who speaks casually about a “full-scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.

An Orwellian World

In a “normal world,” U.S. and European journalists would explain to their readers how insane all this is; how a dispute over the pace for implementing a European association agreement while also maintaining some economic ties with Russia could have been worked out within the Ukrainian political system, that it was not grounds for a U.S.-backed “regime change” last February, let alone a civil war, and surely not nuclear war.

But these are clearly not normal times. To a degree that I have not seen in my 37 years covering Washington, there is a totalitarian quality to the West’s current “group think” about Ukraine with virtually no one who “matters” deviating from the black-and-white depiction of good guys in Kiev vs. bad guys in Donetsk and Moscow.
And, if you want to see how the “objective” New York Times dealt with demonstrations in Moscow and other Russian cities protesting last year’s coup against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, read Sunday’s dispatch by the Times’ neocon national security correspondent Michael R. Gordon, best known as the lead writer with Judith Miller on the infamous “aluminum tube” story in 2002, helping to set the stage for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Here’s how Gordon explained the weekend’s anti-coup protests: “The official narrative as reported by state-run television in Russia, and thus accepted by most Russians, is that the uprising in Ukraine last year was an American-engineered coup, aided by Ukrainian Nazis, and fomented to overthrow Mr. Yanukovych, a pro-Russian president.”
In other words, the Russians are being brainwashed while the readers of the New York Times are getting their information from an independent news source that would never be caught uncritically distributing government propaganda, another example of the upside-down Orwellian world that Americans now live in. [See, for example, “NYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop.”]
In our land of the free, there is no “official narrative” and the U.S. government would never stoop to propaganda. Everyone just happily marches in lockstep behind the conventional wisdom of a faultless Kiev regime that “shares our values” and can do no wrong — while ignoring the brutality and madness of coup leaders who deploy Nazis and invite a nuclear holocaust for the world.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Obama Dancing On Reagan’s Grave, Running Tanks Up To Putin’s Doorstep

Cross-Eyed-Bill-Clinton--58648

[SEE:  BILL CLINTON: FIRST NEOCON PRESIDENT ]

Bill Clinton’s Epic Double-Cross: How “Not An Inch” Brought NATO To Russia’s Border

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“It began as a pledge by the first Bush Administration to Gorbachev that in return for German unification and liberation of the “captive nations” there would be “not an inch” of NATO expansion. It ended up its opposite, and for no plausible reason of American security whatsoever. In fact, NATO went on to draft nearly the entire former “Warsaw Pact”, expanding its membership by 12 nations. So doing, it encroached thousands of kilometers from its old Cold War boundaries to the very doorstep of Russia.”

“Bill Clinton used NATO enlargement to advertise his assertiveness in foreign policy and America’s status as the “world’s indispensable nation.” Clinton bragged about proposing NATO enlargement at his first NATO summit in 1994, saying it “should enlarge steadily, deliberately, openly.” He never explained why.”

“Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”–George Kennan, father of the “containment” doctrine and Truman’s aggressive anti-Soviet policy,

US armor paraded 300m from Russian border

Russia-Today

U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia's Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia’s Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.

Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia’s Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.

Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).

Estonia also showed off its own howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.

The parade is an obvious snub at Estonia’s eastern neighbor Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. The Estonian government is among several vocally accusing Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.

Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving the differences through dialogue.

NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian aggression. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.

Russia sees it as yet another proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that had been enlarging towards Russia’s border and compromised its national security.

The Estonian government defended its right to hold whatever military maneuvers it wants in its territory.

“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said in a speech in capital, Tallinn.

Historically Narva was a point of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.

The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered. Narva took turns between being governed by the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic, occupying German troops and the Red Army until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.

It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.

The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now by Russia to saw dissent. Commenting on the issue in an interview with Washington Post, President Ilves said seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”