Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikdad said the only danger which poses a threat to the region is the Zionist entity, affirming that there is no justification to have doubt about this, except the Israeli acts, its allies in Europe and its tools in the region which circulate that there are other dangers.

“After reaching a framework deal between Iran and p5+1 in Switzerland on the Iranian nuclear file  which guarantees Tehran’s rights in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, it is natural to welcome such a deal because it will lead to easing tensions in the region,” Mikdad said in an article published on Lebanese al-Binaa newspaper on Saturday.

He added that all have become confirmed that the only side responsible for violating the principles of nuclear non-proliferation is Israel and the western countries which offered their capabilities to build Israel’s arsenal of chemical and nuclear weapon.

Mikdad went on to say that the cooperation showed by Syria and Iran in meeting the international community’s interests whether in relation to eliminating chemical weapons in Syria or to Iran’s coordination in the nuclear file confirms, once again, the true intentions of both countries which consider the use of such weapons an immoral matter that contradicts their religious values.

“Time has come for the international efforts to eliminate the Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction,” Mikdad said, adding that what encourages Israel to boost its weapon programs is the stance of some Arab regimes who connive with this entity.

Netanyahu Insists Iran Deal Includes His Demands

April 5th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

They want final say over any future agreement. Ideally, they want none at all. They want Iran isolated and weakened. They want its government ousted.

They want Israel’s main regional rival eliminated. They’re willing to wage war to achieve their objectives.

Netanyahu said any deal with Iran must include “a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf dismissed his demand out of hand saying:

Agreement with Iran “is only about the nuclear issue…(It) doesn’t deal with any other(s), nor should it.”

On April 3, The New York Times headlined “With Iran Deal in Hand, White House Makes Sales Pitch to Preserve It.”

Saying Obama briefed Republican and Democrat leaders by phone before agreement was announced.

He promised more updates as talks continue. Senior administration officials began promoting the deal.

“The intensity of the campaign reflects the steep challenge Mr. Obama faces in building support among lawmakers…skeptic(al about” any deal with Iran.

Fierce anti-Iranian sentiment may kill any eventual agreement. Congressional opposition could undermine months of administration efforts to achieve something it considers successful – true or false.

The Wall Street Journal reported cracks in the Democrat/Jewish alliance over any Iran deal and Obama’s dispute with Netanyahu.

Saying “(m)any US Jewish leaders are unnerved both by the new Iran nuclear agreement and the public falling out between President Barack Obama and his Israeli counterpart, developments that are creating a rift in the durable alliance between Jews and the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2016 elections.”

They continue warning about a nonexistent Iranian threat to Israel. They want Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu softened.

They want US/Israeli relations strengthened – regardless of its permanent war on Palestine and outrageous human rights violations.

Some want Iran held hostage to Israeli demands. Expect Tehran to face enormous obstacles ahead to achieve any kind of fairness.

Expect Israeli and US-controlled IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to invent fake claims of Iranian backtracking to obstruct lifting sanctions.

Expect things Washington accepted to be reinterpreted otherwise. Expect Iran to face an uphill battle ahead achieving much less than it deserves, including:

  • lifting all sanctions straightaway on completing a final deal with no triggering mechanism for reinstating them based on likely bogus backtracking claims;
  • ending the charade once and for all about an Iranian nuclear weapons program the whole world knows doesn’t exist – stating publicly there’s none now, earlier or likely ahead;
  • normalizing ties with Washington and other Western countries – including reestablishing diplomatic relations; and
  • recognition of Iran’s sovereign independence and right to be accepted like Western nations treat other countries.

It’s hard imagining any deal ending 36 years of intense US anti-Iranian sentiment.

Not as long as Congress, Israel and its Lobby maintain strong opposition to dealing with Iran fairly.

Or Obama demanding much more than he’ll give – on top of America’s duplicitous history of violating treaties, conventions and deals it agreed to.

It remains to be seen if business as usual continues. Odds strongly favor it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Russian geologists have tapped a fresh water supply in Crimea which will allow for the delivery of water throughout the peninsula via new pipelines; the Russian Defense Ministry has sought to provide Crimea with more water since Ukraine’s new authorities blocked access a year ago.

Units of the Russian Defense Ministry have started supply water to Crimea using new pipelines; the goal is to fill the main waterway of the Crimean Peninsula, the North Crimean Canal, and to create a network of pipelines to supply water to the largest cities in Crimea’s eastern areas, news reports said.At least forty kilometers of pipes have already been laid, with water being supplied to the North Crimean Canal, which was blocked by the Ukrainian authorities a year ago.A spate of wells have been drilled in the eastern part of Crimea, where geologists have discovered three aquifers located at a depth of 200 meters.

Water from these sources is expected to be delivered to the drought-stricken Kerch Peninsula in eastern Crimea; the projected capacity stands at 175,000 cubic meters per day.

Igor Val, head of the Crimean Committee of Water Resources, said that he remains optimistic about the peninsula’s water supply ahead of the beginning of the summer holiday season in Crimea.

The new network of pipelines is due to pump an average of forty million cubic meters per year; it will be enough to supply water to the 500,000 people who currently reside on the Kerch Peninsula.

We initially missed the story ourselves since so few reported on it, but have been able to find two useful reports since:

About two and a half thousand Ukrainians surrounded the US embassy in Kiev on the first of April. People who disagree with the appointment of foreigners to the Ukrainian government, as well as the intervention of the Americans and Europeans in the public administration of the country, holding banners saying “We are not cattle!” And they made sounds imitating animals.

 

Besides the protesters braying and bleating, they were eating cabbage, which was distributed by the organizers of the protest. They also kept two-meter carrots with the symbols of the European Union. By the end of the demonstration of dissent Kiev residents pelted the US embassy with manure.

 

It is noteworthy that the video from the protest was removed from all the Ukrainian sites and users were blocked. Local journalists hardly covered the event.

‘We are not cattle’

On April 1 US Embassy was picketed by more than two thousand Ukrainian people under slogan “We are not cattle!”

The phrases “We are not cattle!” on the posters were written in four languages: Russian, Ukrainian, English and Polish. Also people unrolled the big slogan with the quote of one famous Ukrainian writer Panas Mirny “Do oxen roar when the rack is full?”

For 2 hours, from 12 a.m. till 2 p.m. people were mooing and bleating in protest against the transformation of the Ukrainians into beasts by means of prices and rates increase, lowering salaries and standards of living, and banning freedom of speech and opinion. Mooing is the only thing people can do not to be arrested by the current government. But even despite these safety measures many people received physical threats from guarding US embassy right-wing radicals and USC officers.

The representative of the Embassy came to the picketing people and asked what they wanted. The answer was mooing and eloquent posters.

At the end of the picket a few activists began to throw the thing that beasts have enough – excrements at the plate of the Embassy. Several USC officers came up to them threatening by arresting and transferring to the nearest police buses.

The Ukrainian mass media headed by the Ministry of Propaganda of Ukraine ignored such an action and the information about this protest was blocked. Even bloggers who tried to place this information were instantly blocked (for example, Maxim Ravreba and Anatoly Sharij – he’s ready to give an interview on such theme, Anatoly was shocked, 2 minutes after placing the material the YouTube account was blocked).

Complete blockade, both forced and information is obvious. It’s obvious that American embassy in Kiev is guarded much better than other governmental buildings, because the US Embassy is the main institute of power in Ukraine.

Copyright Russian Insider 2015

The military forces of the Bashar al-Assad government have collapsed on two fronts. The capital of Idlib province in northwest Syria has been lost to Islamic State terrorists sanctioned by the United States, Israel and their Persian Gulf allies and mobilized by the CIA.

Government forces in the south have also lost the border crossing at Nasib, the only functioning crossing with Jordan—the key southern import/export route.  The surrender of this border to Al-Nusra Front Al-Qaeda terrorist “rebels”—CIA/Washington proxies—further threatens a Syrian economy already devastated by years of warfare, relentless US-led terrorism of every variety, and endless NATO economic and political terror.

Together, the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State—aka Washington and the CIA—now control roughly half of Syria.

As Al-Qaeda terrorists run rampant on the ground from both the north and south, Syria is bombed by American planes from Turkey. US air strikes are now called in by terrorists themselves. Behind a cover story of operations directed at the alleged Islamic State, the actual targets are (and will increasingly become) Syrian military targets and command/control— in support of the US-led Islamic State terrorists that Washington and NATO claim to be fighting.

Washington’s objective: the decapitation of the Assad government in the same manner as in Libya.

Can you hear the chortling coming from the halls of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and in the halls of Congress in Washington?

The empire has been foaming at the mouth to remove the Assad government for years, and enraged that their CIA/Al-Qaeda-led attempt at a regime change had, up to this point, stalled in humiliating fashion. It appeared to be a failure. The CIA struggled to stop infighting among its Al-Qaeda shock troops in southern Syria.  What should have been a finished job years ago has required arduous new political maneuvering among NATO allies, and the untold expenditure of yet more military/intelligence resources. The ISIS war of deception was created almost specifically to hasten the demise of Syria, to break the stubborn resistance of Assad.

With the addition of ISIS coming from the the north, Syrian defenses are split. The southern Al-Qaeda front has now been relieved.  Damascus is surrounded. It is now merely a matter of when and how the toppling of Assad’s regime will occur.

The Middle East and Central Asia are hell on earth.  The plan is diabolical. Nation after nation is threatened, subverted, terrorized. Those that refuse to obey will fall.  The entire map, burned. Entire populations, exterminated. The survivors, pacified. Governments, replaced with puppet regimes that relinquish its petro-spoils to the conquerors and their corporations. All trade routes, all pipelines, all geography, taken, so that Russia and China will be prevented from having any of it.

This is gangsterism on a planetary scale.

Iraq. Afghanistan. Libya. Somalia. Yemen. Kenya. Syria.  Iran has buckled to Western threats, and is in the process of being militarily disarmed. So-called nuclear negotiations are a joke.  And then what? Nuclear war with Russia over the Black Sea region.

The CIA has turned the entire Middle East into a giant international “finishing school” for foreign extremists.  It takes a special pathology for the war mongers to believe that this US-spawned Pandora ’s Box can be closed, or that the chaos unleashed can be controlled. The empire’s leaders are masters at destruction, but idiots at managing the aftermath.

If the conquest of the Middle East—including regime change in Syria and Iran— is not completed during the Barack Obama presidency, then it will be taken up with bloodthirsty glee by the deeply criminal Jeb Bush. The Bush crime family and their sadistic Republican neocon functionaries appear poised to return to the White House in 2016.

Despite its unprecedented thrashing, the Anglo-American empire is still no closer to petro-economic salvation or lasting geostrategic control. They will never achieve it because it is impossible. Desperate violence and wild political gambits do not change the fact that the days of easily recoverable oil and gas are over, and with them, capitalism itself. Recent actions by Saudi Arabia—for example, the disastrous manipulation of oil supplies and prices, and unprecedented joint military actions with Israel in Yemen—have only exposed the desperation behind the agenda, while exacerbating the long-term problem. The world economy shows no sign of lasting recovery, and severe internal stress. The system is criminal and bankrupt, financially as well as morally, while the disillusionment of the populace continues to grow. Yet, the violence continues.

The American empire continues to plant the seeds of its own eventual destruction. Any benefits its elite criminals reap from this bloodshed will be fleeting at best.

It has just been announced that, starting on April 20th, U.S. troops will start training troops of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion. 

The Azov Battalion was founded and its members were selected by Andrei Biletsky, a Ukrainian nazi (that’s an ideological term, meaning racist fascist — not a term referring specifically to the first political party with that particular ideology, the National Socialist Party of Germany). When Britain’s Guardian interviewed members, the reporter was shocked to find that they’re nazis (“neo-Nazis”).

Biletsky proudly explains his ideology as follows:

“Social Nationalism is based on a number of fundamental principles that clearly distinguish it from other right-wing movements. This triad is: socialism, racism, imperialism. … On the principle of socialism [in the sense that Hitler used it] follows our complete negation of democracy and liberalism. … Instead there is natural selection of the best representatives of the Nation — born-leaders as Ukraine’s leaders. … Racism: All our nationalism is nothing — just a castle in the sand — without reliance on the foundationstone of blood Races. … 

“The historic mission of our Nation, a watershed in this century, is thus to lead the White peoples of the world in the final crusade for their survival. It is to lead the war against Semites and the sub-humans they use.  … Social Nationalism raises to shield all old Ukrainian Aryan values, forgotten in modern society.”

Biletsky founded the Azov Battalion soon after Obama’s February 2014 coup in Kiev, which was led by Andriy Parubiy, who had co-founded the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine. Parubiy’s masked men in the coup dressed as if they were Ukrainian security forces, and fired onto demonstrators during the Maidan demonstrations against Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych. They were paid by the CIA at the U.S. Embassy, and they included both foreign mercenaries and troops who had been trained by Dmitriy Yarosh, who had founded another of Ukraine’s nazi parties, this one called Right Sector. Most of the coup’s perpetrators were members of Right Sector, which, in addition to being a party, has an estimated 7,000 troops of its own, who were trained under Yarosh’s command.

The Azov Battalion was established on 13 April 2014 by the newly appointed post-coup Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov, who had been appointed by the interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov, who had been appointed by the person anointed (nominally temporarily but actually) permanently as Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whose anointment came from the U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Pyatt, after Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland had instructed him on 4 February 2014, just 18 days before the coup, to do that.

So, this overthrow was well planned in advance. In fact, it had even been arranged prior to its alleged precipitating-event, which was Yanukovych’s having announced on 20 November 2013 that he was turning down the EU’s offer to Ukraine. Yanukovych turned it down because his advisors calculated that it would cost Ukraine $160 billion.

Apparently, the Obama regime had already known, ahead of time, that it would cost Ukraine so much that Yanukovych would have to reject it. And his saying no to it turned out to be a popular political move. Public sentiment in Ukraine on whether the nation was heading in the “right direction” or the “wrong direction” boomed just after the decision: the “right direction” score, which was at a nearly two-year low of only 15.4% just a month before the decision’s announcement (which was the period when it seemed likeliest that Ukraine was heading into the EU), shot up to a nearly four-year high of 26.1% just a month after the announcement and while the U.S.-engineered “Maidan” demonstrations against Yanukovych were raging against Yanukovych. But, Obama didn’t really care at all about Ukrainian public opinion. He already had the support of Ukraine’s nazis, and that’s all he actually needed.

So: now he is expressing his appreciation, by providing America’s best military training, to Ukraine’s best nazi troops.

Going back again to that coup, in order the better to understand this history: Nuland had probably been informed ahead of time, by the lawyer for Yulia Tymoshenko — she was the founder of the third nazi party of Ukraine, which is called “Fatherland” — that Tymoshenko (in prison at the time, on a corruption conviction) said that Yatsenyuk was her most loyal lieutenant and was the person who would be the most cooperative in relinquishing power to her if and when Tymoshenko would be released from prison immediately after the planned coup and after she would then run for the Presidency and win it. She was expected to win, because she had come in a close second to Yanukovych in the last, the 2010, Presidential election, and especially because she was expected to be even more popular after a coup in which the man who had gotten her convicted, Yanukovych, would himself now have been framed by the Obama regime for the violence that the U.S. had planned in order to bring him down.

Yatsenyuk, Turchynov, and Avakov, were all members of Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party; and, so, the entire security apparatus of the new, post-coup, state was under Tymoshenko’s control, from the very moment of the coup — which was why she was freed from prison by them on the very day of the coup.

But Tymoshenko, during her Presidential campaign, overplayed her hand: She got taped in a private phone-conversation during the campaign, saying (as this documentary excerpted and is transcribed here, and which was an accurate reflection of what she had said at the time):

 1:21:08 Obama’s failed choice to become the new Ukrainian President, Yulia Tymoshenko, is on the phone: “Damn, we’ve got to arm up and go kill these damn kitsaps [their term like for ‘niggers’ or ‘kikes’ but actually here for Russians].” [Question: “What do we do with eight million Russians who are left on the territory of Ukraine?” Tymoshenko’s answer:] … We[‘ve] got to shoot them.”

She wanted to eliminate the voters who had elected Yanukovych, and who were now rejecting the coup-regime, which she was expecting to lead. That’s the type of person, an extreme hater of pro-Russians, whom Obama wanted to be elected by Ukrainians as their President, and for whom the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine had tirelessly tried to get freed from prison — unsuccessfully, until they got Yanukovych overthrown by Tymoshenko’s fellow rabidly anti-Russian nazis, such as the ones whom Obama’s troops will now be training to kill all of the pro-Russians they possibly can. Even the right-wing voters of northwestern Ukraine found her to be too far-right.

Obama had pretended, until he got re-elected in 2012, that he opposed Mitt Romney’s idea that, concerning, “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe.”

And, so, in Obama’s second Administration, he put in place such people as Victoria Nuland, Jeffrey Pyatt, John Brennan, and Philip Breedlove — all rabid haters of Russians — in order to focus all of America’s foreign-policy efforts against “our number one geopolitical foe” and against all of its allies: the heads of state in primarily Russia but secondarily Libya, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, China, Brazil, India, Hungary, Czech Republic, and all other nations that oppose being ruled by the U.S. aristocracy, the American Empire.

However, Obama had been setting this up even during his first Administration. The hypothesis in Andrew Krieg’s Presidential Puppetry is that Obama has been secretly an agent of the CIA for decades, and was virtually raised in a CIA-and-U.S.-aristocracy-serving family, on both his mother’s and father’s sides — and that he’s probably the most deceiving President our nation has ever had.

In any case, the evidence thus far is that Obama prioritizes weakening Russia, even over weakening ISIS. And he was sufficiently obsessive about his war against Russia, for him to resort to getting the Ukrainian Government to shoot down the MH17 Malaysian airliner and to frame the pro-Russian separatists for doing it, just in order to be able to win the support of the EU for hiked sanctions against Russia. He is bending everything to his hatred of Russia. So, nobody should now be surprised that he is arming and training Ukrainian nazis for his anti-Russian war.

The question for the American people is whether they will tolerate this fraud? They tolerate, and tolerated, the fraud by his predecessor, that got America to invade Iraq in 2003. So, probably they will continue tolerating this fraud that can bring on World War III. But if not, then now is the time for the American people to change, which will require popular demonstrations far larger than those that were held against the Vietnam War. Because time, for the world, could well be running out, this time around.

Such phrases as this, probably sound like an extreme way to refer to what’s happening. But how extreme is it, actually, for the U.S. now to be training and arming nazi troops? And how extreme is it for the U.S. President to resort to shooting down a civilian airliner in order to turn the crank a bit more on economic sanctions against Russia — which are entirely based on frauds?

Will it stop in any way, short of WW III stopping all of us? How obtuse, and how unconcerned, and how deceived, are the American people? And what about the people in Europe — why aren’t they demanding their countries to abandon NATO, America’s anti-Russian military club, which should have ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union’s equivalent, the Warsaw Pact, terminated. Isn’t it enough that the U.S., alone, already has military forces stationed in 185 countries throughout the world? Maybe they should be kicked out, until that number is brought down to Russia’s number: 9. Maybe the nations of the world should be demanding this, and voting against the U.S. in every UN vote until it is achieved. Maybe that would do far more to advance and protect world peace than the UN itself currently does. Or, maybe, there should be international boycotts of all U.S.-based firms, until the U.S. Government (which represents those firms, no longer the American people) stops its proxy-wars against Russia.

 Instead, America’s most-watched cable-news channel, Fox ‘News,’ interviews their ‘military expert,’ who tells America’s fascists and nazis — which are their audience (it’s called “the Republican Party”) — that America’s policy in Ukraine needs to harden, and that it must be this: “Start killing Russians” until Russia runs out of “body bags.” Imagine if Russia’s most popular ‘news’ medium were to say that the ‘solution’ to the ‘Cuba problem’ is to “Start killing Americans” until America runs out of “body bags.” Shouldn’t Obama have apologized to Russians for that? Shouldn’t he have expressed outrage at it that he did not express? Shouldn’t he have had his FCC investigate Fox ‘News’ Channel, and its controlling owner — the nazi Rupert Murdoch — perhaps to yank their licenses? Why do Americans tolerate such a President as this, one who instead eggs-on such hatred, by his using the word “aggression” 18 times in his “National Security Strategy 2015” and 17 of those times are referring to Russia? How insane is that? He even rubs it in, by saying, repeatedly in speeches, that the U.S. is “the one indispensable nation,” which means that every other nation (including, but not only, Russia) is “dispensable.” Hitler said virtually the same thing about Germany: “Deutschland über alles.” Obama is as similar to that, in his nationalistic outlook, as his good-cop bad-cop partner, Rupert Murdoch, is — and that’s why the yanking of Murdoch’s licenses isn’t even being looked into.

It’s no wonder, then, why the U.S. is considered, throughout the world, to be by far the most dangerous nation. But when it’s training nazis to fight Russians, isn’t it far too dangerous? How long will this outrage, today’s far-right America, continue to be tolerated — by the American people, and by other national governments? It should be isolated, and shunned, until it no longer is the world’s leading fascist nation.

 Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko has submitted a bill to his country’s parliament allowing for the internment of Russian citizens living in Ukraine.

Russian citizens living in Ukraine can be interned in line with the bill on “The legal regime of martial law”, submitted by Ukrainian President  Petro Poroshenko to his country’s parliament on Friday.

According to a memorandum to the bill, “measures on the legal regime of martial law include internment (forced settlement) of nationals of a foreign state which threatens to attack or carries out aggression against Ukraine.”

On January 27, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a bill recognizing Russia as an aggressor country.

In February, the amendments to the bill on martial law were endorsed by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, which stressed the necessity of the new document being in line with current realities.

In late December 2014, President Poroshenko said that a martial law would be introduced if the ceasefire agreement on eastern Ukraine was violated. “No one will doubt even for a minute”, the Ukrainian President said at the time.

A set of measures for a peaceful settlement of the conflict on the territory of Ukraine’s Donbass region was reached during talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 12.

The parties agreed on a ceasefire and the withdrawal of artillery from the frontline of contact, as well as the exchange of prisoners.

The ceasefire regime, which has been in force in Donbass since February 15, is generally being observed, although though there are reports of shootings in some areas.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement: A Step in The Right Direction

April 5th, 2015 by Chandra Muzaffar

There is no guarantee that the preliminary agreement reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 2nd April 2015 between Iran, on the one hand, and the United States and five other world powers, namely, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, on the other, in relation to Iran’s nuclear programme will lead to a final accord at the end of June this year, as envisaged by the parties concerned.

There is considerable opposition to the agreement especially in the US. A lot of Republican lawmakers and some democrats are opposed to it. They allege that the deal does not protect Israeli interests. There are powerful Israeli lobbies in the US who have condemned it. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, an implacable opponent of any negotiations with Iran from the very beginning, has described the agreement as a threat to the very survival of Israel! Netanyahu and his allies in the US are mobilizing various groups and individuals to stop the signing of the final accord.

Some of the hardliners in Iran within religious, political and media circles are also unhappy with the Lausanne agreement. They feel that it imposes severe restrictions upon Iran’s nuclear programme and infringes upon the nation’s sovereignty. But the vast majority of Iranians — it appears from media reports — are in a celebratory mood. They are happy because the final accord will lead to the lifting of sanctions pushed forward by the US, the European Union and the United Nations in recent years that have weakened the Iranian economy and brought widespread suffering to the people.

The sanctions were terribly unjust because they were based upon the false premise that Iran was manufacturing nuclear weapons when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which had over years conducted the most intrusive and extensive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities failed to produce even an iota of hard evidence that suggested that Iran’s nuclear programme had some other ulterior motive. Doubts raised on a couple of occasions and accusations hurled by IAEA inspectors, highlighted by the global media, turned out to be hollow largely because they were inspired by fabricated “evidence” supplied by Israeli intelligence.

It is also important to emphasise that right from the outset Iran’s supreme leaders, first Imam Khomeini and then the current spiritual head, Ayatollah Khamenei, had declared on a number of occasions that manufacturing, storing and deploying nuclear weapons is “haram” ( prohibited) in Islam. Iran’s nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes with the focus upon generating electricity and undertaking medical research. The agreement recognizes Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy for such goals. Harnessing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is part and parcel of the national agenda of more than 40 countries — a right recognized under the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which Iran is a signatory.

To demonstrate in unequivocal terms its total commitment to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Iran should now lead a campaign to declare West Asia and North Africa (WANA) a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. No country and no entity in the region should be allowed to manufacture, keep or use nuclear weapons. Every country and every entity should be prepared to be subjected to IAEA inspections. This will put the only state in the region that is known to possess nuclear weapons to the test. Israel should not be treated as a special case in this instance. There should be a massive mobilization of public opinion within and without WANA to force Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal. It is grossly unfair that the one entity that has been most vocal in denouncing Iran’s unproven nuclear weapons has escaped scrutiny of, and censure about, its own nuclear weapons arsenal from the world community. After the Lausanne agreement we should all now turn our attention to Israel and demand that Israel demolish its stock of nuclear weapons immediately and pledge not to produce such weapons any more. A nuclear weapons free WANA is the best hope for peace and security for all the states in that region, including Israel.

Iran should also campaign to abolish other weapons of mass destruction such as biological and chemical weapons from WANA. There are a few states in the region that continue to stockpile such weapons. This again will help usher in an era where there is less barbaric violence and brutal massacres.

In this regard, Iran should also join groups in other parts of the world and campaign for the prohibition of war as a means of settling conflicts between and within nations. It would be amazing if such a campaign took root in WANA which has witnessed so many wars since the end of the Second World War. In fact, I had hoped when a revolution took place in Iran in the name of Islam in 1979 that Iran would pioneer a new approach to international relations by championing the cause of a world without war and a world without nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

It may still happen if the agreement of 2nd April evolves into a comprehensive accord at the end of June 2015 and politics in WANA slowly moves in a different direction.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

Greece’s newly elected government, led by the leftist Syriza coalition that swept into power in January on an anti-austerity platform, finds itself in a highly unenviable position. Athens is burdened by colossal debt, imminent liquidity problems and a looming banking collapse. What is at stake for Greece now is its very ability to survive economically within the euro-zone.

The Syriza coalition emerged from various offshoots of the Greek radical left, which set itself apart from the political mainstream by taking an anti-capitalist position emphasizing wealth redistribution and class struggle, while allying itself with alter-globalization movements and trade unions. The ascension of Syriza represents the most leftward shift in European politics in decades.

Once a negligible force at the ballot box, Syriza has gradually succeeded in commanding support among the wage-earning class and the urban unemployed, who view the coalition as the only political force capable of pulling the country off the trajectory of austerity, imposed by Greece’s creditors – primarily Germany.

The new government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has captured the broad popular support of Greek society as the country faces an asymmetric struggle to negotiate a restructuring of Athens’ debts and a reversal of austerity policies attached to a previous €240 billion bailout agreement, which Germany and the European Central Bank (ECB) remain inflexibly opposed to.

Austerity Assault

Greece’s debt crisis reflects the contradictions of the European monetary union, which has benefited the economies within the euro-zone’s core at the expense of those of the periphery. German banks, flushed with cash from Germany’s sizable trade surpluses between other euro-zone members, played a primary role spurring on the Greek insolvency dilemma.

Berlin, benefiting from lower exchange rates than it would have under its own currency regime, recycled capital from euro-zone export markets back into periphery economies in search of higher returns, fueling asset bubbles, predatory lending and severe deflation in debtor economies.

Greece’s public debt, the majority of it held by German banks, became unserviceable in 2010. In exchange for a €240 billion bailout agreement used to recapitalize the Greek banking sector, Athens was obliged to accept rigid austerity measures that mandated mass privatizations, drastic cuts in public expenditures, the selling-off of public assets and across-the-board deregulation.

Greece’s wage earners and pensioners have shouldered the burden of German-imposed austerity at great human cost. Since 2010, the Greek economy has contracted by 26 percent, while wages have declined at least 33 percent. Unemployment hasrisen from 8 to 26 percent, whereas youth employment has hovered at 60 percent. Spending cuts and tax increases have amounted to more than 45 per cent of household disposable income.

Homelessness increased by 25 percent from 2009 to 2011, imperiling members of the middle-class with medium or higher educational backgrounds. Access to healthcare has eroded, while incidents of suicide have reached record levels, increasing by 65 percent from 2009 to 2011. Greece is now cut off from markets, having endured thousands of job losses and the massive scaling-back of social protections.

Syriza’s Objectives

Syriza is committed to ending austerity in the belief that Athens’ ability to service its debt is conditional to growth-stimulating policies. The current gridlock between Germany and Greece can be explained as the latter seeking a window of financial stability to implement growth-inducing reforms and humanitarian policies, while the former has frozen the remainder of bailout financing until Syriza consents to continued austerity.

Yanis Varoufakis, the Syriza government’s finance minister, explained this position in his column in the New York Times: “The great difference between this government and previous Greek governments is twofold: We are determined to clash with mighty vested interests in order to reboot Greece and gain our partners’ trust. We are also determined not to be treated as a debt colony that should suffer what it must.”

The latest round of negotiations between the Greek government and its creditors in late February has been a major subject of contention within the Syriza coalition and the international left more generally. Some have characterized the Greek government’s negotiating strategy as capitulating to the Eurogroup, while others have argued that Syriza has opted for a tactical retreat that succeeded in buying time.

Syriza essentially entered into the negotiations with inadequate leverage, seeking financing to ease imminent liquidity fears and enact basic redistributive measures, but unwilling to play the ‘Grexit’ card. Athens is keenly aware that the effects of a disorderly exit from the euro-zone would be domestically destabilizing, at least in the near term, with ramifications that could potentially see other euro-zone debtor economies default, causing a humanitarian crisis and wider political upheaval.

Athens has resisted austerity in the short-term, but reluctantly consented to the February 20 agreement, committing it to continuing ongoing and outstanding privatizations, and measures that would require Greece’s creditors to approve prospective state policies to determine whether they can be implemented. It is on this basis that the European Commission condemned Greece for acting ‘unilaterally’ when it recently attempted to pass a law enabling social assistance.

Creative Solutions, Negotiated Exit

It is utterly untenable for Greece’s creditors to continue maintaining the delusion that the country would ever be able meet its obligations through tighter, growth-contracting austerity. German intransigence has inevitably raised the spectre of Grexit, having pushed Athens into a corner where it can only resist austerity and avoid a banking collapse by tapping into the cash reserves of pension funds and public sector entities.

Though the Greek leadership should certainly be encouraged to propose alternative solutions to ease deflationary pressures and address the liquidity crisis as practical measures to implement in the near term, the unwillingness of Athens’ lenders to concede to a modicum of relief for the social economy renders ineffective any strategy to restructure Greece’s debt within the euro framework.

If all options are exhausted, Syriza should be prepared to implement an alternative strategy that would imply a negotiated exit from the euro-zone, so as to regain sovereignty over monetary policy and open up a process of debt restructuring. Any exit would be chaotic due to the immense organizational and logistical challenges demanded by a new currency regime, which would allow Athens to regain a competitive advantage conducive to stimulating productive activity.

Strict public control would need to be exercised over the banking system, while a parallel currency denominated in euros could be utilized during a transition to provide short-term liquidity in concurrence with stringent capital control measures to prevent any excessive devaluation of a successor currency. Yanis Varoufakis has also discussed a variation of this option, advocating a state-backed cryptocurrency built on a transparent algorithm that could be utilized to hedge against deflation independent of the ECB.

If Germany and the Eurogroup intend to keep the monetary union together, which is certainly in their interest, a reduction in the nominal value of Greece’s outstanding debt and basic flexibility on social expenditure would be enough to ensure that Athens remained in the euro-zone. A growth-focused debt restructuring strategy centered on a repayment scheme tethered to GDP would be another measure in the interest of both Greece and its creditors.

There is no shortage of policy alternatives that can be explored to address the ongoing deadlock. If Syriza fails to steer Greece toward a new trajectory, elements of the extreme right – such as the Golden Dawn party, an openly neo-Nazi political force fast gaining momentum among disaffected segments of society  – will ultimately stand to benefit from the fallout. As it stands, the primary obstacle facing Greece is the rigid inflexibility at the heart of European institutions.

Nile Bowie is a political analyst based in Malaysia who has written for a number of publications, his expertise lies in a number of areas, with a particular focus on Asian politics and geopolitics, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

In 2010, the largest ever sale of US military equipment was carried out in favor of Washington’s indefectible Saudi ally.  The provision of the most advanced “offensive” weapons systems by the US to Saudi Arabia has contributed to the development of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Force with state of the art fighters jets, which are now being used on behalf of Washington against Yemen. (GR Ed. M.Ch.)

This Saudi-US agreement is outlined in a 2010 Global Research article by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar.  

The US plan to sell US 60 billion dollars worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia will not contribute to peace and security in the Middle East.

The biggest arms deal ever in history, it provides for the sale of jetfighters and helicopters to oil-rich Saudi Arabia over a period of 15 to 20 years. US officials have stated that it will enhance the security of its key allies in the region, especially in the context of the alleged threat from Iran. The Saudis, according to Pentagon sources, are worried about Iran’s missile arsenal.

Independent political analysts, however, do not regard Iran as a threat to its Arab neighbours. While the rhetoric of some of its leaders may be belligerent, Iran’s diplomatic moves since the late nineties have been aimed at strengthening its ties with states in the Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia.

There are perhaps other motives behind the US-Saudi deal which have not been highlighted in the mainstream media. The sale reinforces US military hegemony in a region that it perceives as vital for its triple interests—- Israel, oil and geopolitical control. Since the sale is huge, it will help to fill the coffers of corporate weapons manufacturers at a time when the US economy is in deep trouble

But the consequences for the Middle East could be dire. It could encourage both friends and foes of the US to increase their military expenditure. This could ignite an arms race in the region. An arms race in turn could intensify tensions in the Middle East which is already a cockpit of conflict. An arms race could also skew national priorities and lead to the subordination of other goals such as the eradication of poverty or the elimination of illiteracy, or the minimization of corruption.

This is why countries in Asia should be careful about expanding their military budget. They should not allow weapons manufacturers and arms merchants— supported by political leaders— to dupe them into making unnecessary military purchases. This danger is all the more real today than in the past since some of the countries in the region are rich and maybe the targets of those who are hell-bent on pursuing their business-cum-political agenda.

Indeed, escalating military expenditure is a global challenge. Global military expenditure in December 2009 stood at 1.5 trillion US dollars. This represents a six percent increase in real terms over 2008. Compared to 2000, it is a 49 percent increase!

Worse, the entire UN budget— the budget of the body charged with maintaining global peace— in 2009 was only 1.8 percent of global military expenditure in that year.

It is significant that the US alone accounted for 46.5% of global military expenditure in 2009. The respected Swedish peace institute, SIPRI, observes that massive US military expenditure is one of the contributory factors to the decline of the US economy since 2001.

There is no doubt at all that global military expenditure has to be curbed and controlled for the good of humankind. It will be no easy task. For the vested interests that sustain military budgets in most countries are powerful. Nonetheless, we have to persevere. Perhaps for a start, governments with low military budgets and anti-war, pro-peace civil society groups should come together to plan the mass mobilization of public opinion against mammoth military spending.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) and Professor of Global Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

First Published in June 2012, this article confirms the nature of the Saudi-NATO relationship. Saudi Arabia is a NATO proxy force.

On June 18 Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Nizar Madani at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The head of the Western military alliance extended an invitation to the Persian Gulf kingdom to join NATO’s partnership program in the region, stating “Saudi Arabia is a key player in the region and NATO would welcome the opportunity to engage the Kingdom’s government as a partner in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.”

The latter was launched in 2004 during the NATO summit in the Turkish city which gave the partnership its name, part of a series of sweeping measures that also saw the largest-ever one-time expansion of NATO membership – the absorption of seven new nations in Eastern Europe, including the first former Yugoslav and first three former Soviet republics – as well as committing the bloc to upgrading its other Middle Eastern military partnership program, the Mediterranean Dialogue (whose members are Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia), to that of the Partnership for Peace, which was used to elevate NATO’s 12 new post-Cold War members to their current status.

The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) is aimed at the West’s political and military partners in the Persian Gulf, the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All but Oman and Saudi Arabia have joined the ICI.

Over the past six years NATO naval groups have visited Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Leading NATO officials have paid visits to and the bloc has held conferences in ICI member states.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan, and Qatar and the United Arab Emirates supplied warplanes for NATO’s six-month air campaign against Libya last year.

Now, with the U.S. and its Western allies refocusing on the Persian Gulf and the threat of Western military action against Syria and Iran mounting, it is clearly NATO’s intention to recruit Saudi Arabia for the Persian Gulf partnership.

The Saudi diplomat, in addition to meeting with NATO chief Rasmussen, also met with the bloc’s deputy secretary general, the Atlantic Council (which consists of the permanent representatives – ambassadors – of its 28 member states) and other alliance officials “who provided him with an overview of NATO’s outreach and cooperation programmes with partner countries in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf region.” That is, with the seven Mediterranean Dialogue and four Istanbul Cooperation Initiative members. (To date. Libya will be the next member of the first, with Syria and Lebanon to follow if the West succeeds in overthrowing the government of Syria. Iraq and Yemen are prospective members of the second.)

As the NATO website wrote concerning the visit of the Saudi official, “For NATO, the security of its partners in the Gulf is a key strategic interest to the Alliance.”

Precisely how strategically important the Persian Gulf is to NATO and its leading member, the U.S., and in part why it is so was indicated on June 14 when Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro gave a briefing via teleconference on Global Economic Statecraft Day in which he demonstrated what the State Department in large measure exists for: To drum up business for American arms manufacturers.

His comments included:

“Global Economic Statecraft Day is a global event that we’re holding to highlight America’s commitment to put strengthening American jobs at the center of our foreign policy…Our work in the Political-Military Bureau, to expand security cooperation with our allies and partners, is critical to America’s national security and economic prosperity. And it is also an important part of the State Department’s economic statecraft efforts…[It is] the Secretary of State that is given the authority to oversee and authorize all arms sales in order to ensure they advance U.S. foreign policy.”

He also boasted:

“Today, I can confirm that this is already a record-breaking year for foreign military sales, which are government-to- government sales. We have already surpassed $50 billion in sales in Fiscal Year 2012. This represents at least a $20 billion increase over Fiscal Year 2011, and we still have more than a quarter of the fiscal year left.

“To put this in context, Fiscal Year 2011 was a record-setting year at just over 30 billion. This fiscal year will be at least 70 percent greater than Fiscal Year 2011…”

Sixty percent of the arms sales abroad so far this fiscal year resulted from a $30 billion weapons contract with Saudi Arabia signed last December for 84 F-15 fighter jets and assorted weaponry. Which is part of a $67 billion deal struck with the Saudis in 2010 for the multirole warplanes, 2,000-pound bunker-busting bombs, 72 Black Hawk and 70 Apache Longbow attack helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-2 and other missiles, and warships. The largest bilateral arms transaction in history.

And that in turn is part of an $123 billion arms package with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates announced in the same year. The “Iranian threat” may be the most lucrative public relations scheme ever devised.

Last December 25 the U.S. signed a deal to sell 96 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor missiles to the United Arab Emirates, the first THAAD missiles to be deployed outside the U.S. It was also announced last year that the United Arab Emirates will become the first Arab state to open an embassy at NATO Headquarters.

On June 11 the U.S. and Turkey began the second round of this year’s Anatolian Eagle air combat exercises in the second country, whose purpose is, in the words of the Pentagon’s press service, “to conduct a variety of air missions to include interdiction, attack, air superiority, defense suppression, airlift, air refueling and reconnaissance. ”

The joint U.S.-Turkey Anatolian Eagle-2012/1 was held in March. The ongoing Anatolian Eagle-2012/2 also includes the participation of NATO and warplanes from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Pakistan and Italy.

A U.S. Air Force report, not mentioning Saudi Arabia’s involvement, offered this description of the exercise:

“The Blue Force, consisting of the United States, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Turkey and NATO, will perfect their large force employment skills against the Red Force of F-16s, F-4s and F-5s piloted by Turkish pilots.”

The same source quoted a U.S. Air Force official as contending, “If there’s ever another (Operation) Allied Force, these are the people we’re going to fight with side by side.”

There can be little doubt about who the victims of the next Allied Force, the name of NATO’s 78-day air war against Yugoslavia 13 years ago, would be in the current geopolitical context. Turkey borders Syria and Iran, which are the two main impediments to Turkey and Saudi Arabia further expanding their influence in the Middle East

Late last month the two nations, both invested in overthrowing secular, republican Arab governments from Libya to Syria and beyond, signed a military training agreement in Riyadh. The pact provides for training Saudi soldiers in Turkish (NATO standard) military schools for participation in joint military operations.

In initiating her campaign against Russia and China over Syria in February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invoked the Arab Spring and the Arab Awakening (the capital letters are hers): “They must understand they are setting themselves against the aspirations not only of the Syrian people but of the entire Arab Spring, the Arab Awakening.”

What in fact she and her Western counterparts are promoting in the Arab world from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf is a lethal mixture of militarism, monarchism and theocracy.

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This article by Julie Levesque published 3 years ago by Global Research points to the size of the Saudi military arsenal now being used against Yemen as well as the underlying vested interests of EU weapons producers in fuelling war in the Middle East. 

According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, the European Union is the most important weapons exporter to Saudi Arabia. Of all EU member states, France comes first with Euro2168.6 million of exports in 2010. Italy is in second place with Euro435.3 million, before Great Britain, with Euro328.8 million.

Graphic: EU Weapons Exports to Saudi Arabia
Source: Der Spiegel

By arming the Saudi kingdom, the member states of the European Union are breaking prevailing EU rules regulating the exports of weapons, notes Der Spiegel. The magazine quotes the relevant section of the legislation on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament titled Security-related export controls II – Military equipment, which states:

[...] Member States have once again shown their determination to prevent the export of military technology and equipment which might be used for undesirable purposes such as internal repression or international aggression or contribute to regional instability.

It is worth noting, in this regard, that a large quantity of the weapons sold to Saudi Arabia by EU member states has ended up in the hands of Libyan and Syrian “rebels” including terrorists, thus largely contributing to fuelling international aggression and regional instability. According to Finian Cunningham: “Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were also instrumental in driving events in Syria and Libya, providing financial support, weapons, covert fighters and strident diplomatic backing for the self-styled “transitional councils”.

Der Spiegel confirms that Saudi Arabia participated in the violent repression of popular revolts in Bahrain, an issue which was largely ignored by the Western mainstream media.

While the European Union member states, especially France, have expressed their “concern for human rights” in Syria and Libya, they have turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s contempt for those same human rights. The EU member states are the main weapons providers of the Al Saud Monarchy, one of the World’s most repressive regimes, serving the strategic interests of the US and NATO in the Middle East. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has also channeled weapons and financial support to Al Qaeda affiliated brigades in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa.

The German magazine notes that the global weapons trade is booming, and “has increased by 24 percent over the last five years — despite efforts to curb it.” (EU Nations Sell the Most Arms to Saudi Arabia, Der Spiegel, March 19, 2012.)

In a bitter irony, the world’s top weapons traders (US, Russia, Britain, France, China) are the countries designated under the UN Charter to “preserve peace”, namely as permanent members of the UN Security Council. (See Richard F. Grimmett, CRS Report for Congress; Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003-2010 , September 22, 2011.)

In 2010, the “war business” reached 1.6 trillion dollars according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

On Tuesday, The Associated Press reported The United States plans to send soldiers to Ukraine later this month to train the country’s national guard, which includes groups expressly espousing support for far-right and Nazi ideology.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the units to be trained include the Azov Battalion, a volunteer force that has attracted criticism for its far-right sentiments including brandishing an emblem widely used in Nazi Germany.

As the BBC would describe the Azov Battalion last December:

The volunteer Azov Battalion is a case in point.

Run by the extremist Patriot of Ukraine organisation, which considers Jews and other minorities “sub-human” and calls for a white, Christian crusade against them, it sports three Nazi symbols on its insignia: a modified Wolf’s Hook, a black sun (or “Hakensonne”) and the title Black Corps, which was used by the Waffen SS. Azov is just one of more than 50 volunteer groups fighting in the east, the vast majority of which are not extremist, yet it seems to enjoy special backing from some top officials.

That the United States is supporting neo-Nazi factions is nothing particularly new. Indeed, Alternet’s Max Blumenthal (as well as other outlets) have  documented this fact for well over a year. What is of note is that (A) the United States military is now doing so openly and seemingly without much shame and (B) deciding, in a perverse irony, to begin this latest partnership on Hitler’s Birthday. As the AP would explain:

Avakov said the training will begin April 20 at a base in western Ukraine near the Polish border and would involve about 290 American paratroopers and some 900 Ukrainian guardsmen.

Surely, someone in either the Ukrainian or American chain of command or in the Pentagon’s PR department could see why this was a bad idea, no?

Adam Johnson is a freelance journalist; formerly he was a founder of the hardware startup Brightbox. Follow him on Twitter at @adamjohnsonnyc.

Russia intends to become the first country among the BRICS group of the world’s five leading emerging economies to ratify an agreement on the group’s foreign currency reserve pool, Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador-at-Large Vadim Lukov said on Friday.

“An agreement will be ratified soon on establishing a pool of foreign currency reserves. Russia will most likely be the first country to do this,” the Russian envoy said.

The foreign currency reserve pool of the BRICS group, which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will total $100 billion, the Russian diplomat said.

“The distribution will be as follows: South Africa will contribute $5 billion, Russia, India and Brazil will allocate $18 billion each while China will provide the remaining funds,” the envoy said.

The BRICS member states will be able to urgently replenish their liquidity from this pool in different proportions to resolve problems with their balances of payments, he said.

“Specifically, China will be able to take out only 50% while Russia, India and Brazil will be entitled to 100% and South Africa to 150%,” Lukov said.

The envoy’s statement comes after Russia assumed the BRICS rotating presidency from April 1.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday Russia’s BRICS presidency would focus on establishing the group’s New Development Bank and currency pool.

US-Israel Wage War on Iran in Syria

April 4th, 2015 by Tony Cartalucci

The ongoing conflict in Syria has always been a proxy conflict aimed at  Iran, as well as nearby Russia, and more distant China. As far back as 2007, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh warned in his 9-page New Yorker report “The Redirection Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” that a region-wide sectarian war was being engineered by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel – all of whom were working in concert even in 2007, to build the foundation of a sectarian militant army.

The report would cite various serving and former US officials who warned that the extremists the West was backing were “preparing for cataclysmic conflict.”

In retrospect, considering the emergence of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), Hersh’s warning has turned out to be prophetic. The destabilization of Syria and Lebanon were noted in particular as prerequisites for a coming war with Iran. Confirming this would be the lengthy policy treatise published by the Brookings Institution in 2009 titled, “Which Path to Persia?”

In it, it is openly discussed that regime change for the purpose of establishing regional hegemony is the only goal of the United States and its regional partners, with attempts to frame the conflict with Iran as an issue of “national security” and “global stability” serving as mere canards.

Throughout the document, US policymakers admit that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program are merely one of several pretexts being used to foster political subversion from within and justify war from beyond Iran’s borders.

More importantly, Brookings details explicitly how the US will wage war on Iran, through Israel, in order to maintain plausible deniability. It states specifically under a chapter titled, “Allowing or Encouraging an Israeli Military Strike,” that:

…the most salient advantage this option has over that of an American air campaign is the possibility that Israel alone would be blamed for the attack. If this proves true, then the United States might not have to deal with Iranian retaliation or the diplomatic backlash that would accompany an American military operation against Iran. It could allow Washington to have its cake (delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon) and eat it, too (avoid undermining many other U.S. regional diplomatic initiatives).

Various diplomatic postures are discussed in consideration of the best formula to mitigate complicity amid a “unilateral” Israeli strike on Iran. Of course, and as the report notes, US-Israeli foreign policy is unified with Israel’s defenses a product of vast and continuous US support. Anything Israel does, therefore, no matter the political or diplomatic facade constructed, it does with America’s full backing – hence the inclusion of “encouraging” in the title of the chapter.

Today, an alleged “fallout” between the US and Israel has been grabbing headlines. Beyond the most superficial of political commentary, there have been no real manifestations of this “fallout.” Israel is still receiving immense aid both military and political from the United States, and Israeli foreign policy is still one with Washington.

The purpose of the feigned “fallout” is to produce room between the US and Israel, so that possible upcoming “unilateral” actions taken by Israel can be disavowed by a “cold” US.

The BBC’s article, “Netanyahu row with Obama administration deepens,” reported that:

A row between the US and Benjamin Netanyahu has deepened, with the Israeli leader accusing America and others of “giving up” on trying to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. The US secretary of state questioned Mr Netanyahu’s judgement on the issue.

This is precisely the political charade implied by the Brookings Institution in their 2009 report as being necessary before any so-called “unilateral” action by Israel could be taken. In reality there is no row, simply a need for establishing plausible deniability ahead of an egregious act of unwarranted, unjust military aggression.

The War on Syria: Containing Iran Before, During, and After Airstrikes 

I6745645333Such theatrics are but one troubling sign that aggression toward Iran is still very much in the cards, that current negotiations are but a smokescreen for preparations to strike Iran anyway regardless of what concession it is willing to make, and that such aggression may take place once the US and its regional partners believe Syria has been reduced to its weakest state possible – if outright regime change is seen as impossible.

Brookings states clearly that:

As the conclusion discusses, an air campaign against Iran’s nuclear sites would likely have to be coupled with a containment strategy—before, during, and especially after the strikes. Containment would be necessary to hinder Iran from reconstituting its nuclear program, prevent it from retaliating against the United States and its allies, and to deal with Iran’s support for violent extremist groups and other anti-status quo activities.

Admittedly, part of that containment strategy have been attempts to destroy Syria and Lebanon – where the majority of Iran’s regional support is based and where Iran would marshal support from in the immediate aftermath of an unprovoked attack on its territory by US-Israeli aggression.

In addition to propping up terrorists across the region to attack Iran’s allies abroad, the Brookings report dedicated an entire chapter to “Inspiring an Insurgency: Supporting Iranian Minority and Opposition Groups.” Here, Brookings talks about backing the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its military wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – the latter being a verified terrorist organization, previously listed by the US State Department as such, and guilty of killing not only Iranian civilians throughout decades of terrorism, but also US military personal and US civilian contractors.

For those who have difficulties believing the US would back Al Qaeda terrorists for the purpose of overthrowing the governments of Libya, Egypt, and Syria, they need only look at overt and continuous support for MEK terrorists in a bid to overthrow the government of Iran to uncover the reality of Washington’s willingness to sponsor terrorism.

Brookings would openly admit that:

…even if U.S. support for an insurgency failed to produce the overthrow of the regime, it could still place Tehran under considerable pressure, which might either prevent the regime from making mischief abroad or persuade it to make concessions on issues of importance to the United States (such as its nuclear program and support to Hamas, Hizballah, and the Taliban). Indeed, Washington might decide that this second objective is a more compelling rationale for supporting an insurgency than the (much less likely) goal of actually overthrowing the regime.

Brookings describes in exceptional detail how the US would organize its proxy terrorists. It would claim:

Insurgencies take a long time to succeed, when they succeed at all. It takes time for insurgents to identify leaders and recruit personnel, establish bases and gather equipment, and learn tactics and proficiency with weapons. It takes even longer to win popular support, erode the morale of the government’s armed forces, and then undermine the government’s legitimacy.

It would also claim:

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could take care of most of the supplies and training for these groups, as it has for decades all over the world. However, Washington would need to decide whether to provide the groups with direct military assistance…

And finally, it would admit:

To protect neighboring countries providing sanctuary to the insurgents. Any insurgency against the Iranian regime would need a safe haven and conduit for arms and other supplies through one or more of Iran’s neighbors.

This precise strategy has been implemented regarding Syria. Material support for terrorists operating in Syria has been provided for years by the West, with the West’s vast media monopolies providing rhetoric to undermine the legitimacy of the Syrian government, and US-created sanctuaries outside of Syria (primarily in Turkey and Jordan) for terrorists to to seek safe havens in and through which a torrent of arms, cash, equipment, and fighters flow.

When understanding that the war in Syria is but a lead up to a larger conflict with Iran – with a literal signed confession created by US policymakers clearly serving as the foundation for several years of American foreign policy across the Middle East – one begins to understand the urgent imperative incumbent upon those who, for the sake of their own self-preservation, are tasked with stopping it.

Russian and Chinese efforts to obstruct US designs in Syria are about more than selfish regional interests, they are a matter of self-preservation, stopping the conflict in Syria from spilling into Iran next, southern Russia afterwards, and eventually enveloping western China as well.

That the US has committed itself to fueling chaos in Syria despite the unlikelihood of actually overthrowing the government in Damascus, costing tens of thousands of innocent people their lives, illustrates the callousness of US foreign policy, highlighting that Western sponsorship of terrorism around the world constitutes perhaps the most egregious, continuous, and most horrifically demonstrable threat to global peace and stability in our age.

As the US and Israel conduct their latest diplomatic charade, a harbinger of even more chaos to come, those concerned must read the policy papers of the West and understand the true nature of their methodology if ever they hope to expose it and stop it.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

In Order To Beat ‘Em, You Have to Know Their Game …

In order to beat Internet trolls, you have to know their strategies.

Below are 17 common games played by trolls to disrupt our power to learn, inform, and organize on the web …

1.  Threaten those who speak out, to try to intimidate them and their readers into silence.

2. Misquote the Bible to pretend that God commands us to be obedient slaves to authority … even if the powers-that-be are downright tyrants.

3. Start a partisan divide-and-conquer fight or otherwise push emotional buttons to sow discord and ensure that cooperation is thwarted. Get people fighting against each other instead of the 3corrupt powers-that-be. Use baseless caricatures to rile everyone up. For example, start a religious war whenever possible using stereotypes like “all Jews are selfish”, “all Christians are crazy” or “all Muslims are terrorists”. Accuse the author of being a gay, pro-abortion limp-wristed wimp or being a fundamentalist pro-war hick when the discussion has nothing to do with abortion, sexuality, religion, war or region. Appeal to people’s basest prejudices and biases. And (as explained by H. Michael Sweeney’s 25 Rules of Disinformation) push the author into a defensive posture:

Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule … Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as “kooks”, “right-wing”, “liberal”, “left-wing”, “terrorists”, “conspiracy buffs”, “radicals”, “militia”, “racists”, “religious fanatics”, “sexual deviates”, and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.

(The person trying to smear reputation may not be a random knucklehead … he may, in fact, be a government agent, or a member of the group he’s smearing.)

4. Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could so taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive. Or accuse the author of being a narcissist.

5. Pretend it’s hopeless because we’ll be squashed if we try. For example, every time a whistleblower leaks information, say “he’s going to be bumped off”. If people talk about protesting, organizing, boycotting, shareholder activism, spreading the real facts, moving our money or taking other constructive action, write things to scare and discourage people, say something like “we don’t have any chance because they have drones and they’ll just kill us if we try”, or “Americans are too stupid, lazy and greedy, so they’ll never help out.” Encourage people to be apathetic instead of trying to change things.

6. Demand complete, fool-proof and guaranteed solutions to the problems being discussed. For example, if a reporter breaks the story that the big banks conspired to rig a market, ask “given that people are selfish and that no regulation can close all possible loopholes … how are you going to change human nature?”, and pretend that it’s not worth talking about the details of the market manipulation. This discourages people from reporting on and publicizing the corruption, fraud and other real problems. And it ensures that not enough people will spread the facts so that the majority know what’s really going on.

7. Suggest extreme, over-the-top, counter-productive solutions which will hurt more than help, or which are wholly disproportionate to what is being discussed. For example, if the discussion is whether or not to break up the big banks or to go back on the gold standard, say that everyone over 30 should be killed because they are sell-outs and irredeemable, or that all of the banks should be bombed. This discredits the attempt to spread the facts and to organize, and is simply the web method of the provocateur.

8. Pretend that alternative media – such as blogs written by the top experts in their fields, without any middleman – are untrustworthy or are motivated solely by money (for example, use the derogatory term “blogspam” for any blog posting, pretending that there is no original or insightful reporting, but that the person is simply doing it for ad revenue).

9. Coordinate with a couple of others to “shout down” reasonable comments. This is especially effective when the posters launch an avalanche of comments in quick succession … the original, reasonable comment gets lost or attacked so much that it is largely lost.  Use “forum sliding” and “topic dilution” to so dilute and distract the conversation that people forget the original point.

10. Use technology and numbers to gain leverage.  You can either hire low-wage workers in India or other developing countries to “astroturf” (see this and this) or – if you work for the government – you can use military personnel or subcontractors to monitor social media and “correct” information which you don’t like (and see this). You can pay students to post pro-government comments online.  You can even use software which allows you to quickly create and alternate between numerous false identities, each with their own internet address.  Or program software to write the comments itself.

11. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit.

12. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.

13. Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with. Where it can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually them be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues — so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.

14. Censor social media, so that the hardest-hitting information is buried. If you can’t censor it, set up “free speech zones” to push dissent into dank, dark corners where no one will see it.

15. When the powers-that-be cut corners and take criminally reckless gambles with our lives and our livelihoods, protect them by pretending that the inevitable result – nuclear accidentsfinancial crises,terrorist attacks or other disasters – were “unforeseeable” and that “no could have known”.

16. Protect the rich and powerful by labeling any allegations of criminal activity as being a “conspiracy theory”. After all, it was the CIA itself which created the perjorative term “conspiracy theorist” and gave advice on how to attack people on that basis. For example, when Goldman gets caught rigging markets, label the accusations as mere conspiracies. Throw in the tired out cliches “tinfoil hat” and “live in your mom’s basement.”

17. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain the criticism — simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent’s viewpoint.

Postscript: Over a number of years, we’ve found that the most effective way to fight disruption and disinformation is to link to a post such as this one which rounds up disruption techniques, and then to cite the disinfo technique you think is being used.

Specifically, we’ve found the following format to be highly effective in educating people in a non-confrontational manner about which game the troll is playing:

Good Number 1!

Or simply:

#7

(include the link so people can see what you’re referring to.)

The reason this is effective is that other readers will learn about the specific disruption tactic being used … in context, like seeing wildlife while holding a wildlife guide, so that one learns what it looks like “in the field”. At the same time, you come across as humorous and light-hearted instead of heavy-handed or overly-intense.

Try it … It works.

Aullido en Ucrania oriental

April 4th, 2015 by Pepe Escobar

El corresponsal itinerante de Asia Times, Pepe Escobar, acaba de volver de un viaje de reportaje a la República Popular de Donéts (DPR), el enclave prorruso en la provincia Donéts Oblast de Ucrania oriental. El área ha sido la escena de duros combates entre rebeldes prorrusos y los militares ucranianos.

Acabo de estar en la República Popular de Donéts. Ahora estoy de vuelta en la espléndida arrogancia e insolencia de OTANstán.

Bastante gente –en Donbás, en Moscú y ahora en Europa– me ha preguntado lo que más me impresionó durante esta visita.

Podría comenzar parafraseando a Allen Ginsberg en Aullido, “Vi las mejores mentes de mi generación destruidas por la locura”.

Pero eso fue en la Guerra Fría a mediados de los años 50. Ahora nos encontramos a principios del Siglo XXI en la 2ª Guerra Fría.

Por lo tanto lo que vi fueron los espantosos efectos colaterales de las peores mentes de mi generación –y una subsiguiente– corroídas por la locura (de la guerra).

Vi a refugiados al lado ruso de la frontera, en su mayoría familias europeas promedio de clase media cuyos hijos, al llegar al refugio, se ocultaban bajo mesas al oír un avión en el cielo.

Vi al Dylan de Donéts atrincherado en su habitación solitaria en un asilo de veteranos convertido en albergue de refugiados que combatían la tristeza y la desesperanza cantando canciones de amor y de heroísmo.

Vi familias enteras recluidas en refugios antiaéreos enteramente decorados de la era soviética, demasiado temerosas para salir incluso de día, traumatizadas por bombardeos orquestados por las “operaciones antiterroristas” de Kiev.

Vi una hacendosa ciudad industrial moderna, vacía por lo menos a medias y parcialmente destruida pero no doblegada, capaz de sobrevivir por su valor y su astucia con un poco de ayuda de convoyes humanitarios rusos.

Vi hermosas muchachas cerca de la estatua de Lenin en una plaza central lamentando que su único intento de divertirse era fiestas familiares de alguna de ellas porque la vida nocturna había desaparecido y “estamos en guerra”.

Vi virtualmente todo el vecindario de Oktyabrski cerca del aeropuerto destruido por las bombas como Grozny y prácticamente abandonado con la excepción de algunas babushkas [abuelas] que no encontraban dónde ir y demasiado orgullosas como para renunciar a sus fotos de familia de héroes de la II Guerra Mundial.

Vi puestos de control como si estuviera de vuelta en Bagdad durante la “oleada”’ de Petraeus.

Vi al principal traumatólogo en el hospital central de Donéts que confirmó que no ha habido ayuda humanitaria internacional o de la Cruz Roja para la gente de Donéts.

Vi a Stanislava, policía de la DPR y experta francotiradora, a cargo de nuestra seguridad, llorando mientras depositaba una flor en el terreno de una feroz batalla en la cual ella y su equipo fueron blanco de fuego intenso, veinte gravemente heridos y uno muerto, y ella fue herida por metralla y sobrevivió.

Vi iglesias ortodoxas completamente destruidas por los bombardeos de Kiev.

Vi la bandera rusa que seguía izada sobre el edificio opuesto a Maidan que es ahora la Casa de Gobierno de la DPR.

Vi la resplandeciente arena Donbás, la casa de Shaktar Donéts y un OVNI en una ciudad desgarrada por la guerra, desierta y sin un alma en la arena de espectadores.

Vi la estación de ferrocarril de Donéts bombardeada por los terroristas de Kiev.

Vi a un hombre sin hogar gritando “¡Robert Plant!” y “¡Jimmy Page!” cuando descubrí que seguía enamorado de Led Zeppelin y conservaba sus discos de vinilo.

Vi una hilera de libros que nunca se rindieron tras las ventanas resquebrajadas de Oktyabrski bombardeada.

Vi las tumbas frescas donde la DPR entierra a los héroes de su resistencia.

Vi la cima del monte en Saur-mogila que perdió y reconquistó la resistencia de la DPR, con una solitaria bandera roja-blanca y azul que ondea ahora.

Vi a Superman saliendo de la destrucción en Saur-mogila – la estatua caída en un monumento a los héroes de la II Guerra Mundial, quienes hace setenta años combatían el fascismo, y que ahora ha sido alcanzado, pero no destruido, por fascistas.

Vi a lo lejos Debatsevo y entonces pude apreciar, geográficamente, cómo la táctica de la DPR rodeó y expulsó a los desmoralizados combatientes de Kiev.

Vi a los militares de la DPR entrenándose al borde de la ruta de Donéts a Lugansk.

Vi al Ministro de Exteriores de la DPR esperanzado de que se encontraría una solución política en lugar de guerra, mientras admitía personalmente que sueña con la DPR como nación independiente.

Vi a dos agresivos comandantes de cosacos que me dijeron en una granja de cría de caballos en sagrada tierra cosaca que la verdadera guerra ni siquiera ha comenzado.

No vi el totalmente destruido aeropuerto de Donéts porque los militares de la DPR estaban demasiado preocupados por nuestra seguridad y no nos dieron permiso mientras el aeropuerto era atacado –en violación de Minsk 2: pero vi la destrucción y el montón de cuerpos del ejército ucraniano en el teléfono móvil de un combatiente serbio de la resistencia de la DPR.

No vi, como tampoco lo hicieron los observadores internacionales de la Organización por la Seguridad y Cooperación en Europa, las filas y filas de tanques y soldados rusos invadiendo Ucrania una y otra vez que el actual Dr. Strangelove a cargo de la OTAN, general Breedhate, ve cada día en sus exaltados sueños.

Y no vi la arrogancia, la ignorancia, la desvergüenza y las mentiras que deforman esas caras maquilladas en Kiev, Washington y Bruselas mientras insisten, una y otra vez, que toda la población de Donbás, incluyendo babushkas traumatizadas y niños de todas las edades, no son otra cosa que “terra-ristas”.

Después de todo, son cobardes empoderados por la “civilización” occidental, que nunca se atreverían a mostrar sus caras maquilladas a la gente de Donbás.

Por lo tanto este es mi regalo para ellos.

Solo un aullido de ira y de desprecio ilimitado.

Pepe Escobar

 

Fuente: http://atimes.com/2015/03/pepe-escobar-in-eastern-ukraine-howling-in-donetsk/

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

 

Casi todo Oriente Próximo se sume en guerra con el lanzamiento de una intervención militar en Yemen aprobada por Washington, una situación sin precedentes salvo las dos guerras mundiales del siglo XX.

Los medios de comunicación y los grupos de reflexión estadounidenses, por no mencionar los supuestos aliados de Washington en Europa, critican «la incoherencia estratégica» de la política estadounidense.

Afirmar que las contradicciones que minan la política exterior estadounidense en Oriente Próximo son flagrantes es un eufemismo.

En Yemen el gobierno Obama apoya firmemente– con ayuda logística, armas (incluidas las bombas de racimo) e información sobre el objetivo – una intervención emprendida por Arabia Saudí, las demás petromonarquías sunníes y el régimen egipcio del general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Esta coalición de dictaduras y de tiranos coronados declara la guerra al país más pobre del mundo árabe. Bombardeando ciudades y masacrando civiles quieren contener la influencia del Irán, que ha proporcionado apoyo a los rebeldes huti chiíes zaydistas* que derrocaron al presidente Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, un títere instalado por Washington y Riyad.

En Iraq los aviones de guerra estadounidenses bombardean Tikrit, la ciudad natal del presidente iraquí destituido y asesinado Sadam Husein, ciudad controlada actualmente por el Estado Islámico (EI). Esta operación aporta apoyo aéreo al asedio de la ciudad llevado a cabo mayoritariamente por milicias chiíes que operan con el apoyo de Irán.

El Pentágono afirma que efectúa estos ataques aéreos a condición de que se retiren estas milicias, algunas de las cuales lucharon contra la ocupación estadounidense de Iraq, pero está claro que lo hacen únicamente para salvar las apariencias. Las milicias chiíes siguen siguen siendo la principal fuerza de combate sobre el terreno.

Mientras tanto, al otro lado de la frontera en Siria, Washington tiene una política aparentemente contradictoria. Por una parte, arma y forma milicias para derrocar al presidente Bachar al-Assad, cuyo aliado más cercano es Irán; por otra, emprende ataques aéreos contra el EI y el Frente al-Nosra afiliado a Al-Qaeda, dos de los principales oponente armados al régimen de Assad.

Paralelamente, el secretario de Estado estadounidense John Kerry se encuentra en Suiza para negociar la última oportunidad de un acuerdo con Irán que limitaría su programa nuclear a cambio del levantamiento (parcial) de las sanciones económicas impuestas por Washington y sus aliados europeos. El fracaso de este acuerdo podría marcar un giro hacia una agresión militar estadounidense de Irán. Su éxito también podría resultar ser la preparación táctica de una guerra.

Se cumple actualmente el duodécimo aniversario de la guerra emprendida por el gobierno Bush contra Iraq. En aquel momento Bush afirmó que emprendía esta guerra de agresión para eliminar las «armas de destrucción masiva» y la amenaza que suponían las relaciones entre Sadam Husein y Al-Qaeda. Ambas afirmaciones eran falsas, no había ni armas ni relaciones con Al-Qaeda, salvo la hostilidad mutua entre el régimen laico de Bagdad y el grupo terrorista islamista.

Al mismo tiempo, Bush describía la intervención estadounidense como una misión liberadora para llevar la «democracia» a Iraq y a otros países. «El establecimiento de un Iraq libre en el centro de Oriente Próximo será un acontecimiento decisivo en la revolución democrática mundial», proclamó al inicio de la ocupación estadounidense.

Es innegable que la ocupación estadounidense ha sido un «acontecimiento decisivo». Las masacres que siguieron a este acontecimiento decisivo costaron la vida a más de un millón de iraquíes, [la ocupación] destruyó además la economía y la infraestructura social del país y provocó unas encarnecidas luchas sectarias entre chiíes, sunníes y kurdos, mientras que Washington trataba de dividir a la población para controlarla mejor.

La guerra ha sido una catástrofe para Iraq y una debacle para Estados Unidos. Costó la vida a 4.500 soldados estadounidenses e hirió a otras decenas de miles, además de dilapidar miles de millones de dólares, y creó unas condiciones sociales y políticas que han permitido al EI (una emanación de Al-Qaeda) conquistar un tercer país, mientras que antes de la invasión de 2003 en Iraq no había habido una presencia islamista significativa.

La guerra en Iraq debilitó profundamente toda la región. Washington aceleró este proceso emprendiendo unas guerras por procuración en Libia y Siria, apoyando a las milicias islamistas vinculadas a Al-Qaeda para derrocar los gobierno laicos de Gadafi y Assad con el fin de sustituirlos por títeres de los estadounidenses. De igual modo, estas guerras se han transformado en debacles sangrientas que han costado cientos de miles de vidas y han devastado ambos países.

No queda nada de los pretextos utilizados por el gobierno Bush para justificar la guerra hace 12 años. Tampoco el gobierno Obama puede pretender de manera creíble que sus guerras agresivas en Oriente Próximo (vinculadas a milicias sectarias y terroristas, a monarquías y dictaduras militares) constituyan una «guerra contra el terrorismo» o una cruzada por la democracia.

La Casa Blanca ni siquiera trata de explicar estas operaciones al pueblo estadounidense y menos aún de conseguir que las apoyen. En el caso del apoyo de Washington a la guerra en Yemen, su explicación consiste en una «lectura» de una conversación telefónica entre Obama y el rey Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud en la que el presidente estadounidense afirmó su «sólida amistad» con la despótica monarquía, su «apoyo» a su intervención y su «adhesión a la seguridad de Arabia Saudí».

Tras esta política temeraria, ad hoc y sin aparente relación con el imperialismo estadounidense en Oriente Próximo sigue habiendo una constante: la agresiva continuación de la hegemonía estadounidense en Oriente Próximo y sus vastas reservas de energía.

La estrategia elaborada desde la disolución de la Unión Soviética en 1991, el que Washington pudiera seguir utilizando su inigualada potencia militar para proseguir con sus intereses mundiales, no ha hecho sino arraigarse más a medida que el peso relativo y la influencia económica del capitalismo estadounidense han seguido disminuyendo.

Se vislumbra el resultado de esta política en la implicación de casi todos los países de Oriente Próximo en una u otra guerra y la amenaza palpable de que estos conflictos se transformen en una conflagración regional que, a su vez, podría provocar una tercera guerra mundial.

Bill Van Auken

 

* El zaydismo es otra rama chíi más moderada (N. de la t.)

Fuente: https://www.wsws.org/fr/articles/2015/avr2015/pers-a01.shtml

Guerre Moyen-Orient

Douze ans après l’invasion de l’Irak: Le Moyen-Orient sombre dans la guerre

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos.

Obama’s Dirty War on Yemen Murdering Civilians

April 4th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Civilians suffer most in all wars. Yemen is no exception. Sanaa is becoming a ghost town.

One shopkeeper said “(t)here are very few people left here. Everyone has fled, and those who have stayed live alone without their families.”

“So hardly anyone comes to buy anything anymore.Now I’m lucky if I make $20 a day.”

“How can I pay my rent or even my electricity bills? If the situation stays like this then I’m sure I’ll be out of business within days.”

According to Yemeni Post editor-in-chief Hakin al-Masmari, “(a)t the beginning they were targeting only Sanaa, so people were fleeing to the provinces.”

“However, now they have expended to the suburbs as well.”

Yemenis in attacked areas are trapped in their homes. They face shortages of essentials to life – including food, water, medical supplies, and power.

Yemen already is the region’s poorest country. War exacerbated things greatly.

Even where food and other products and services are available, most Yemenis can’t afford them. Survival for many is threatened.

A growing refugee and unemployment crisis compounds things. Human misery affects millions.

The World Food Program says about 13 million Yemenis have only polluted water for drinking and other uses.

Around a million aged-five or under Yemeni children are malnourished. Expect the number to grow exponentially in coming weeks and months.

The Pentagon is coordinating Saudi-led terror-bombing – choosing targets, supplying munitions, providing intelligence, refueling attacking warplanes, and providing other services.

Sputnik News reported US warships shelling Yemeni targets. Air attacks struck residential neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, power stations, a Hodeida dairy plant, and other nonmilitary sites.

Reports indicate growing shortages of everything essential to life.

Areas being attacked are paralyzed. On April 2, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos issued a statement saying:

“I am extremely concerned for the safety of civilians caught in the middle of fierce fighting in Yemen.”

“I call on all parties involved to meet their obligations under international law and do their utmost to protect the ordinary women, children and men who are suffering the consequences of the conflict.”

“Reports from humanitarian partners in different parts of the country indicate that some 519 people have been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in the past two weeks – over 90 of them children.”

“Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, some by crossing the sea to Djibouti and Somalia.”

“Electricity, water and essential medicines are in short supply.”

“Those engaged in fighting must ensure that hospitals, schools, camps for refugees and those internally displaced and civilian infrastructure, especially in populated areas, are not targeted or used for military purposes.”

“Despite the grave dangers, United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners are coordinating with the Yemen Red Crescent and local authorities to deliver emergency health kits, generators so that people can get clean water, food and blankets.”

Much more than delivered is needed. Bombing and blockade prevent access to Yemeni territory.

“Before this recent escalation in the violence, millions of Yemenis were already extremely vulnerable,” said Amos.

“I hope that peace, security and stability will be restored as soon as possible.”

Chances to achieve it are virtually nil. With Saudi-led ground forces mobilized to invade, expect bloodbath conditions to follow.

Hundreds of thousands already were displaced – maybe heading for millions.

UN Children Fund Yemen representative Julien Harneis calls what’s ongoing “a terrible situation, and it is moving so fast.”

“We are heading toward a humanitarian disaster” on top of others Washington bears full responsibility for throughout the region.

Scores are dying daily, many others injured. Children are gravely affected.

Half of Aden’s electricity was knocked out. Conditions in many areas are disastrous after only nine days of terror-bombing

US imperial arrogance is systematically ravaging and destroying another country.

High crimes against peace are being committed daily. Arab lives and welfare don’t matter.

Washington and its area proxies slaughter them in cold blood.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

The Sacramento police have outrageously charged ANSWER Coalition activist Maile Hampton, a young Black woman, with felony “lynching.” After holding her initially on $100,000 bail, Maile is now out of jail but faces the threat of four years in prison on false charges following an aggressive police disruption of a peaceful Black Lives Matter march in Sacramento. But we are fighting back!

Read about Maile Hampton’s case in the media:

Sacramento Bee: Woman’s ‘lynching’ charge sparks call for change 

Sacramento News & Review: The young and the relentless: Sacramento’s next generation of activists is up in the establishment’s face

The Guardian: African American woman faces jail in California over ‘lynching’ charge

What you can do:

1) Click here to sign the petition demanding that the Sacramento County District Attorney drop all charges against Maile Hampton now.

2) Contact the Sacramento County District Attorney and demand that the charges be dropped. Email [email protected] and in your email CC both [email protected] and [email protected].

3) Maile’s first court appearance was originally set for March 16 and was now postponed until April 9. Join us at the Sacramento County Courthouse to show your support!

Read More

The police and county DA falsely claim that Maile is guilty of obstructing justice and removing a person from police custody — “lynching” under California law.

Lynching is what mobs of white racists committed against thousands of Black people in the United States. They took Black people from the custody of the police with the tacit consent of the cops and state. The mobs then beat, mutilated, tortured and hanged them. This ironic plot to charge an anti-racist Black protestor with lynching screams arrogance on the part of the cops and the DA. The people see through these charges. We charge the state with lynching. We charge the state with attempting to lynch the Black Lives Matter Movement.

In fact it is the police who are guilty of obstructing justice, in this case and historically. These charges against Maile are in reality “revenge” charges against leading activists of the Black Lives Matter movement. We in the ANSWER Coalition, along with a wide network of endorsing organizations, are mobilizing to fight back against this police repression.

The story that the police and DA present is entirely different from the facts of what actually happened. In reality, on Jan. 18, a peaceful march was disrupted by police who wanted to shut it down because of its political content. The police violated the protestors’ right to free speech and arrested several people. The police were the aggressors, not the activists. The police obstructed justice, not the protestors.

Get involved!

Click here to sign the petition demanding that the Sacramento County District Attorney drop all charges against Maile Hampton now.

KPFA Evening News Anchor Anthony Fest: Rwandan exiles in Canada and their Canadian allies, all of whom are well-known critics of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, held a press conference earlier this week in Montreal to call on Canadian authorities to protect them from attacks by Rwandan government agents. The dissidents said they’d been warned by allies within the Rwandan government that so-called diplomats assigned to Rwanda’s embassy in Canada were actually there to intimidate or assassinate dissidents.

University of Quebec professor Emmanuel Hakizimana, left, attorney and former ICTR defense counsel John Philpot and Paul Kagame’s former Chief of Staff David Himbara hold a press conference in Montreal.

University of Quebec professor Emmanuel Hakizimana, left, attorney and former ICTR defense counsel John Philpot and Paul Kagame’s former Chief of Staff David Himbara hold a press conference in Montreal.

Last October, the BBC, in its documentary “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” reported that 12 prominent Rwandan exiles have been assassinated or disappeared in the past 15 years.

Two months after that, one of President Paul Kagame’s former bodyguards disappeared in Nairobi while on his way to France. He had planned to testify there that Kagame had ordered the assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents in April 1994.

Those assassinations are widely understood to have triggered the ethnic massacres that ensued in Rwanda. KPFA’s Ann Garrison filed this report on the history of assassinations and disappearances that’s causing Rwandan exiles and their Canadian allies to ask the government there to protect them.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: At their press conference in Montreal, Canadians and Rwandan exiles said they had to take warnings from insiders in the Rwandan government seriously because of all the precedents, In 2011, BBC Newsnight reported that the London Metropolitan Police had warned Rwandan exiles in London that they were in danger of being assassinated by agents of the Rwandan government.

BBC Newsnight: The Metropolitan Police have taken the extraordinary step of warning two British citizens from Rwanda, living in London, that they’re at risk of being assassinated by the Rwandan government. Legal notices were sent to a former Lib Dem candidate Rene Mugenzi and Jonathan Musonera. We’ve spoken with both men.

University of Quebec Professor Emmanuel Hakizimana, a member of the Rwandan National Congress, is among those threatened in Montreal.

Now it’s understood that a Rwandan suspected of being part of the plot against the exiles was prevented from entering Britain last week. The Embassy here has said the allegations are completely without foundation, but the story raises difficult questions for the British government, who give Rwanda 83 million pounds of aid a year.

KPFA: David Himbara, a Rwandan born Canadian citizen and President Kagame’s former chief of staff, said they could not take the warnings lightly and that even in the United States, the FBI have warned his friend, Colgate University Professor Susan Thomson, that she could be in danger:

David Himbara: The message to the Canadian government really is that we can’t take any of these things lightly. Even in the U.S., my friend, Professor Susan Thomson – she’s a Canadian teaching at Colgate University; she writes a lot on Rwanda – she has been warned by the FBI to be careful.

KPFA: Himbara also said that danger to Rwandans in exile has become a global problem and that Sweden felt compelled to expel a Rwandan diplomat.

Himbara: This is now becoming a worldwide problem. Even Sweden had to expel a Rwandan diplomat for endangering lives of Rwandan Diasporans.

KPFA: In October 2012, the BBC reported on the assassination of former Rwandan Intelligence Chief Patrick Karegeya and spoke with Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, who has survived four assassination attempts in South Africa.

BBC Producer Jane Corbin: Patrick Karegeya was buried with tight security in South Africa. Rwandan diplomats were expelled from the country, suspected of involvement in his killing.

Kayumba Nyamwasa: When I talk about Patrick being a man of principle … (Kayumba funeral oration, background to BBC narrative)

BBC: Gen. Nyamwasa has survived four assassination attempts and been badly wounded. Four men, two from Rwanda, have been found guilty in South Africa of trying to murder him. The judge said the attack was politically motivated. A dozen prominent Rwandan exiles have been killed or just disappeared in the last 15 years.

Patrick Karegeya was assassinated in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2014 in Johannesburg. He was buried there, amid tight security, his casket draped with the banner of the opposition Rwandan National Congress party.

Patrick Karegeya was assassinated in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2014 in Johannesburg. He was buried there, amid tight security, his casket draped with the banner of the opposition Rwandan National Congress partyA dozen prominent Rwandan exiles have been killed or just disappeared in the last 15 years.

Kayumba: We have a dictator; we have a man who is a serial killer, who enjoys killing his citizens, and he thinks he can keep himself in power by killing and imprisonment.

KPFA: John Philpot, a former ICTR defense attorney organized the press conference in Montreal, where he represents two of the Rwandans in danger. He said that a Belgian Canadian who had worked as a journalist and Red Cross staffer in Rwanda had been threatened and even run off the road during an ice storm in Canada in the late 1990s, but that he had remained safe after their group protested to the Canadian government and the Red Cross.

Philpot also said he would not be surprised if Kagame has now dared to order the assassination of Canadian or American critics of the Rwandan government.

John Philpot: They will attack, or they could attack people like us – white, middle class people. Now obviously, the very striking issue is, “Can a country like Canada or the U.S. allow a foreign commando to function on its territory and threaten or kill Canadians and residents?

KPFA: Their position, Philpot said, is that this is unacceptable. In Berkeley, Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News,CounterpunchColored Opinions and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening NewsKPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at [email protected]. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.

The headlines out of Yemen really say it all:

U.S. pulling last of its Special Operations forces out of Yemen (and destroy their equipment in the process)

Russia’s Yemen consulate damaged amid Saudi-led airstrikes – embassy source

Russian evacuation plane denied landing in Yemen, diverts to Cairo

Chinese military disembark in port of Aden, Yemen, to guard evacuation – official

Yemen crisis: Foreigners’ tales of escape

Saudi Arabia, Yemen won’t hamper Russians’ evacuation from Sanaa

All this can be summarized like so: the US made an unholy mess of yet another country, was the first to run, and now everybody runs, except for Russian and Chinese forces who try to evacuate their nationals.  Yet another major foreign policy success for Obama who had presented Yemen as the shining example of anti-terrorism done right.

In the meantime, the local al-Qaeda franchise is using the Saudi-lead aggression to liberate its members from  prison, the US continues to pretend to bomb al-Qaeda in Iraq while supporting the same al-Qaeda in Syria and Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Israel are jointly bombing the Shia in Yemen and Iran is accused of interfering in Yemeni affairs.  How utterly crazy AngloZionist policies have become?!

This would all be outright hilarious if people were not dying.  And it is going to get a whole lot worse if the Wahabi crazies in Riyadh go ahead with their plans for a suicidal and fully illegal land invasion of Yemen.  My hope is that the Saudis follow the typical American strategy and just bomb from high altitudes a country with only primitive air defenses  (the Yemenis still managed to shoot down at least 2, possibly 3, “coalition” aircraft and one drone!).

So now we have yet another “gangster mob” ganging up against one small country: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt and, of course, the USA and Israel, supported by al-Qaeda, all together against the Yemeni Shia.  And, of course, fighting the Yemeni Shia objectively means supporting al-Qaeda in Yemen.  Thus, it would be fair to say that Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, the USA and Israel are all supporting al-Qaeda.

A Middle-East without al-Qaeda/ISIS is possible, of course, this is the one Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are fighting to create.  But they are called “rogue states” and members of the “axis of evil” while the multi-national al-Qaeda support coalition would be the “axis of kindness” I suppose.

I will repeat this again and again, here we’re faced with yet another example of how the AngloZionist Empire is finally showing its true face: not the gentle face of human rights, democracy, international law and progress, but the ugly, brutal and stupid face of ignorant violence, support for the scum of the planet (Nazis, Zionists and Wahabis) and imperialism.  The period of “capitalism with a human face” is now clearly over and we are now living exactly what Lenin had predicted: imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism (and no, I am neither a Leninist nor a Marxist but, in the words of Malcolm X, “I am for truth, no matter who tells it”).

The risks of yet another major war are truly huge.  Make no mistake, Iran can make minced meat out of this “coalition of kindness” and if it comes to an overt conflict the US will have to bail out its numerous allies in the region: the comprador elites who sold out their own religion, country and people to the AngloZionist Empire.

Thus, not only is the USA taking the risk of starting a major continental war in Europe by supporting the Ukrainian Nazis, they are also taking the risk of starting a major regional war in the Middle-East by supporting the Saudi Wahabis and the Zionist Israelis.

I really wonder when our zombifed society will wake up to the dangers we are all now facing.

Laos: China’s “Pivot State” in Mainland ASEAN

April 4th, 2015 by Andrew Korybko

This tiny and impoverished Southeast Asian state is ever more becoming the geopolitical fulcrum for the entire mainland region. Combining close political relations to Vietnam with historical ties to Thailand, Laos is literally in the middle of ASEAN’s two strongest mainland states. 

Vientiane understands the geopolitical sway that it yields, and it’s thus tried to maintain a friendly balance between these two main actors while simultaneously increasing its importance as it prepares to inevitably pick a preferred partner.

Laos’ pivotal position in mainland ASEAN has attracted the attention of neighboring China, which has identified its best opportunity yet to establish a concrete foothold right in the heart of ASEAN. China’s moves in Laos are indicative of a much grander strategy, however, which aspires to deepen Chinese-Thai relations, counter Vietnam, and potentially even ‘flip’ Cambodia from Hanoi’s influence. If successful in any of these three ambitions, then this would represent a strategic victory for China’s ASEAN-directed pushback against the US’ Pivot to Asia and transform the geopolitical balance in Eurasia between Washington and Beijing.

Part I begins with a brief background on Laos and its ties to the region’s three principal actors – Thailand, Vietnam, and China. After that, it explores the energy and physical infrastructure projects in the country that are becoming pivotal factors in the region. The second part of the article connects all of the previous information together by describing China’s grand strategy, and it concludes with the two expected means which the US is expected to employ in blocking China’s coordinated breakout from the American-directed Pivot to Asia containment bloc.

A Little About Laos

This small former French colony is populated by around 6.7 million people, mostly concentrated on the Mekong River along the extreme Western border with Thailand. Laos’ untapped mineral wealth in copper, gold, potash, and iron ore, et al, makes it a valuable future supplier for the growing economies next door, each of which is eager to tap into its virgin mines. Additionally, Laos is the only Southeast Asian country to have five neighbors, thus giving it the potential to be “land-linked, not land-locked”.

Such a position didn’t always work out to its advantage in the past, since it was at times incorporated into or under the tributary of its larger and more powerful Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese neighbors. map-laosOther times, however, it was able to capitalize off of its location and strengthen its independence, as it did with the historical kingdom of Lan Xang. In the contemporary era, it appears as though the latter trend is on the upswing, but before addressing Laos’ two pivotal power plays that can shake up ASEAN’s continental arrangement, let’s look a bit more at Laos’ position within it:

Thailand:

Laos and Thailand share a long history and are thus culturally and linguistically close to one another. The two people were split during the period of French colonization and Paris’ occupation of modern-day Laos from Siam in 1893, and this fracture was exacerbated by the political antagonisms of the Cold War period. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1975 following a decades-long communist insurgency and an equally long unsuccessful CIA war to prop it up (which saw the US turn the country into the most heavily bombed in history), Laos hosted fellow Vietnamese communist forces that were hostile to Thailand, thus leading to a freeze in relations between the two formerly fraternal states. Both sides supported regime change elements against the other, and a brief border war exploded in 1987-1988. The end of the Cold War brought about a renaissance in relations, and the Australian-financed Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge became the first of a total of four similar projects linking the civilizational cousins across their Mekong River divide.

Vietnam:

Hanoi’s influence over Laos extends as far back as the early 1950s when the Pathet Laocommunist movement was created inside Vietnam. It was essentially under Hanoi’s direct control until its eventual victory in 1975, after which it allowed Vietnam free reign over the country’s affairs, including the stationing of troops. On paper at least, these were withdrawn in 1989, but Vietnam’s military still has close cooperation with its Laotian counterparts, showing that the common revolutionary struggle between them has not been lost throughout the post-Cold War years.Vietnam is currently the second-largest foreign investor in Laos, and the two sides havepledged to carry relations even further. It’s expected that the Thailand-Vietnam railroad traversing Laos will be a key component in actualizing this goal, since it symbolizes an understanding by both sides of Laos’ geostrategic goal in facilitating interregional trade.

China:

Finally, the last major regional influence in Laotian affairs is China, although constructive relations between the two are a relatively new phenomenon. Scarcely any tangible ties existed prior to the Pathet Laos’ victory in the Laotian Civil War, but after that occurred, the Vietnamese pressured their Laotian counterparts to officially downgrade relations as a result of the brief 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War, after which they became de-facto non-existent. All of that changed after the end of the Cold War when Vietnam’s grip on Laos loosened, and Beijing is now officially the largest foreign investor in the country. This sudden reversal of ties is predicated on Laos’ promotion of Chinese interests in ASEAN and its strong potential as the region’s pivot state. China plans to capitalize on its close relations with Laos in order to project its influence as far as possible throughout the rest of mainland ASEAN, and it will be seen in Part II how two major infrastructure projects currently being built in the country can extraordinarily facilitate this.

The Common Denominator:

The interests of Thailand, Vietnam, and China in Laos all have one thing in common, and it’s that the nation’s geopivotal placement gives its partners strategic depth and a forward operating location within the region. During and after the Vietnam War, Hanoi used Laos as a springboard for projecting influence along the Thai border and safeguarding its own vulnerable western flank. Having a satellite state along 81549.adapt.676.1its border (just as Cambodia was at the time) was necessary for insulating Indochina’s hegemon from conventional Western subversion, which was bound to occur due to Washington’s resentment over its humiliating defeat in the region.Nowadays, Vietnam’s strategy of trying to keep Laos snugly under its wing is thought to prevent Vientiane from taking unfriendly steps towards Hanoi, especially as regards the Mekong River dam projects (which seems to be a losing battle for Vietnam thus far).

Likewise, Laos fulfills a similar, albeit modernized, role for Thailand and China today. While there’s no realistic threat of a Thai-Vietnamese war any longer, Thailand’s restoration of civilizational ties with Laos gives it ‘breathing room’, if one will, and creates a friendly state along its border in which it could project soft power influence. More importantly, it also provides a direct land route to China and its gigantic market, which inversely also provides China with access to ASEAN’s, in what is certainly to Beijing’s benefit as well. Continuing along the Chinese perspective, Beijing recognizes the importance of Laos’ hydroelectric initiatives (to be described in the follow section) in exerting economic and political pressure on Vietnam and Cambodia, and it’s betting that if it fortifies its ties with Vientiane, then it can indirectly use these projects for its own advantage to ideally either ‘flip’ Cambodia from Vietnamese influence and/or asymmetrically counter Vietnam’s diplomatic belligerence in the South China Sea.

Small state, Big Pivot

It’s appropriate at this point to transition to Laos’ pan-regional infrastructural projects that it’s building within the country, since these major endeavors have the capability of becoming China’s battering rams in breaking out of the American-directed containment coalition being constructed along its southern flank. This section will describe those said projects and explain their significance to Laos, while the next part will examine their placement in China’s grand strategy towards mainland ASEAN.

Muddling The Mekong:

The most important indigenous infrastructure project ongoing in the country right now is the plan to build key hydroelectric power plants along the Mekong River, such as the Xayaburi and Don Sahongdams. Laos’ quest to become the ‘Battery of Southeast Asia’ has met with strong resistancefrom Vietnam and Cambodia, which allege that the projects will lead to dire environmental consequences downstream that could ravage their important fishing economies. Some Thai NGOs and local communities have also opposed the dam, although Bangkok has yet to publicly come out against it, indicating a pragmatic stance that may likely be coordinated with China’s long-term geopolitical considerations for the project.

The dams are thus important not only for their massive energy and revenue potential, but precisely because of the concerns they generate downstream with Cambodia and Vietnam. Laos can manipulate this issue to its advantage in order to elevate its regional importance vis-à-vis China and Thailand, which both have an interest in exerting pressure on Cambodia in order to bring it closer to their spheres, for instance. If Laos succeeds in its plans to become a regional energy exporter, then the countries it exports electricity to become stakeholders in its stability. This is exceptionally true in the case of Thailand, which has agreed to purchase 95% of the Xayaburi Dam’s electricity, so in view of this, Laos’ insistence on going against the will of its former Hanoi hegemon must be seen in the prism of its overall political diversification and general redirection towards its cultural cousin, with all of the relative political losses for Vietnam.

The Laotian Land Link:

Kunming-Singapore railroad.

Kunming-Singapore railroad.

Equal in importance to Laos’ pivot policy is its placement along China’s planned high-speed Kunming-Singapore railroad, which is intended to link Yunnan province with the island metropolis in 10 hours once it’s completed. Although it also envisions supplementary routes through Myanmar and Vietnam/Cambodia, the direct path through Laos is the quickest and most efficient, as well as being the one most relatively free from chaos and containment intrigueLaos and Thailand have already reached deals with China for its construction, which is set to begin this September, so even if Malaysia for whatever reason decides against it (perhaps if one of Washington’s Color Revolution attempts there finally succeeds), then China would still at least have access to the Andaman Sea (and consequently, the Bay of Bengal and henceforth the Indian Ocean) through the Isthmus of Kra.

Myanmar is currently too unstable and not politically reliableenough as a result of its recent flirtations with the West, and Vietnam is clearly involved in containing China, so it makes sense for Beijing to focus most of its infrastructure efforts in going through stable and friendly Laos en route to its projected Thailand hub. Laos understands these regional dynamics too, so it was no surprise to its decision makers when China approached it with its infrastructure plans. Additionally, Vientiane benefits from being the most important of China’s three gateways for the ASEAN Silk Road since it makes Beijing the ultimate stakeholder in its success, and ensures that it will stand by its Southeast Asian ally both politically and financially. Such support raises hopes that the ASEAN Silk Road can transform Laos’ economy and bring development to some of its more far-flung reaches, which would revolutionize the standard of living in one of the world’s least developed countries and decrease the chances that domestic destabilization can be instigated and thenceforth exploited for outside (American) benefit.

Concluding Thoughts

The most important role that Laos geostrategic position and pivotal infrastructure projects play is to connect China with Thailand, which is the objective of all three parties. No other country is as capable of bridging these two partners as directly as Laos is, and its hydroelectricity plans and Silk Road land linkage give both Beijing and Bangkok stakes in its success and stability. Considering the transformative consequences that Chinese-Thai strategic coordination would have for regional and global politics, Laos’ geostrategic position becomes of the utmost importance, and the final part describes exactly how China plans to utilize this to its maximum anti-containment advantage.

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Guantanamo prison ex-chief Geoffrey Miller has been summoned by a French court over the use of torture in the detention facility a decade ago, following a lawsuit from two French citizens who were former inmates of the infamous military jail.

French citizens Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali have filed a lawsuit in a French court against the former Guantanamo chief, demanding a criminal probe into his actions.

On Thursday, the court granted the complaint, summoning the former American general to France for a hearing.

The French judge’s decision might set a precedent for more prosecutions of US military personnel who served at Guantanamo Bay.

“The door has opened for civilian and military officials to be prosecuted over international crimes committed in Guantanamo,” the former Guantanamo prisoners’ lawyer William Bourdon said. “This decision can only… lead to other leaders being summoned,” Bourdon said as cited by AFP.

Sassi and Benchellali were some of the first prisoners incarcerated in Guantanamo in late 2001, after their arrest in Afghanistan by US forces. Sassi was released in 2004, Benchellali was set free in 2005, and both were brought back to France.

In a report submitted to a French court in 2014, the former Gitmo inmates accused Geoffrey Miller of “an authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their freedom without any charge and without basic rights.”

Geoffrey Miller, who was commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison from 2002 to 2004, “bears individual criminal responsibility for the war crimes and acts of torture inflicted on detainees in US custody at Guantanamo,” the French court claims. The ex-general headed the facility after President George W. Bush approved “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Despite President Barack Obama’s promises to shut the detention facility down, the prison that once held 779 detainees still houses more than 100 detainees. The US government is slowly releasing terror suspects, some of whom have spent over 10 years at Guantanamo without any charges brought against them.

In Russia, retired US Army Major General Geoffrey D. Miller is on a black list.

In 2013, in response to the so-called ‘Magnitsky list,’ Russia named 18 Americans banned from entering the Russian Federation over alleged human rights violations. Former commandant of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the organization that runs the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, was added to that list, along with other American governmental officials “involved in legalizing torture and indefinite detention of prisoners (The Guantanamo List).”

Yemen and The Militarization of Strategic Waterways

April 4th, 2015 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

This article was first published by GR more than five years ago sheds light on America’s unspoken military agenda: the control over strategic waterways  (GR Ed. M. Ch)

 

“Whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene.” (US Navy Geostrategist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayus Mahan (1840-1914))

The Yemeni archipelago of Socotra in the Indian Ocean is located some 80 kilometres off the Horn of Africa and 380 kilometres South of the Yemeni coastline. The islands of Socotra are a wildlife reserve recognized by (UNESCO), as a World Natural Heritage Site. 

Socotra is at the crossroads of the strategic naval waterways of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (See map below). It is of crucial importance to the US military.

MAP 1

Among Washington’s strategic objectives is the militarization of major sea ways. This strategic waterway links the Mediterranean to South Asia and the Far East, through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

It is a major transit route for oil tankers. A large share of China’s industrial exports to Western Europe transits through this strategic waterway. Maritime trade from East and Southern Africa to Western Europe also transits within proximity of Socotra (Suqutra), through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. (see map below). A military base in Socotra could be used to oversee the movement of vessels including war ships in an out of the Gulf of Aden.

“The [Indian] Ocean is a major sea lane connecting the Middle East, East Asia and Africa with Europe and the Americas. It has four crucial access waterways facilitating international maritime trade, that is the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb (bordering Djibouti and Yemen), Straits of Hormuz (bordering Iran and Oman), and Straits of Malacca (bordering Indonesia and Malaysia). These ‘chokepoints’ are critical to world oil trade as huge amounts of oil pass through them.” (Amjed Jaaved, A new hot-spot of rivalry, Pakistan Observer, July 1, 2009)

MAP 2

Sea Power

From a military standpoint, the Socotra archipelago is at a strategic maritime crossroads. Morever, the archipelago extends over a relatively large maritime area at the Eastern exit of the Gulf of Aden, from the island of Abd al Kuri, to the main island of Socotra. (See map 1 above and 2b below) This maritime area of international transit lies in Yemeni territorial waters. The objective of the US is to police the entire Gulf of Aden seaway from the Yemeni to Somalian coastline. (See map 1).

MAP 2b

Socotra is some 3000 km from the US naval base of Diego Garcia, which is among America’s largest overseas military facilities.

The Socotra Military Base

On January 2nd, 2010, President Saleh and General David Petraeus, Commander of the US Central Command met for high level discussions behind closed doors.

The Saleh-Petraeus meeting was casually presented by the media as a timely response to the foiled Detroit Christmas bomb attack on Northwest flight 253. It had apparently been scheduled on an ad hoc basis as a means to coordinating counter-terrorism initiatives directed against “Al Qaeda in Yemen”, including “the use [of] American drones and missiles on Yemen lands.”

Several reports, however, confirmed that the Saleh-Petraeus meetings were intent upon redefining US military involvement in Yemen including the establishment of a full-fledged military base on the island of Socotra. Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh was reported to have “surrendered Socotra for Americans who would set up a military base, pointing out that U.S. officials and the Yemeni government agreed to set up a military base in Socotra to counter pirates and al-Qaeda.” (Fars News. January 19, 2010)

On January 1st, one day before the Saleh-Petraeus meetings in Sanaa, General Petraeus confirmed in a Baghdad press conference that “security assistance” to Yemen would more than double from 70 million to more than 150 million dollars, which represents a 14 fold increase since 2006. (Scramble for the Island of Bliss: Socotra!, War in Iraq, January 12, 2010. See also CNN January 9, 2010, The Guardian, December 28, 2009).

This doubling of military aid to Yemen was presented to World public opinion as a response to the Detroit bomb incident, which allegedly had been ordered by Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

The establishment of an air force base on the island of Socotra was described by the US media as part of the “Global war on Terrorism”:

“Among the new programs, Saleh and Petraeus agreed to allow the use of American aircraft, perhaps drones, as well as “seaborne missiles”–as long as the operations have prior approval from the Yemenis, according to a senior Yemeni official who requested anonymity when speaking about sensitive subjects. U.S. officials say the island of Socotra, 200 miles off the Yemeni coast, will be beefed up from a small airstrip [under the jurisdiction of the Yemeni military] to a full base in order to support the larger aid program as well as battle Somali pirates. Petraeus is also trying to provide the Yemeni forces with basic equipment such as up-armored Humvees and possibly more helicopters.” (Newsweek,  Newsweek, January 18, 2010, emphasis added)


Existing runway and airport

US Naval Facility?

The proposed US Socotra military facility, however, is not limited to an air force base. A US naval base has also been contemplated.

The development of Socotra’s naval infrastructure was already in the pipeline. Barely a few days prior (December 29, 2009) to the Petraeus-Saleh discussions (January 2, 2010), the Yemeni cabinet approved a US$14 million loan by Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) in support of the development of Socotra’s seaport project.

MAP 3

The Great Game

The Socotra archipelago is part of the Great Game opposing Russia and America.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union had a military presence in Socotra, which at the time was part of South Yemen.

Barely a year ago, the Russians entered into renewed discussions with the Yemeni government regarding the establishment of a Naval base on Socotra island. A year later, in January 2010, in the week following the Petraeus-Saleh meeting, a Russian Navy communiqué “confirmed that Russia did not give up its plans to have bases for its ships… on Socotra island.” (DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia), January 25, 2010)

The Petraeus-Saleh January 2, 2010 discussions were crucial in weakening Russian diplomatic overtures to the Yemeni government.

The US military has had its eye on the island of Socotra since the end of the Cold War.

In 1999, Socotra was chosen “as a site upon which the United States planned to build a signal intelligence system….” Yemeni opposition news media reported that “Yemen’s administration had agreed to allow the U.S. military access to both a port and an airport on Socotra.” According to the opposition daily Al-Haq, “a new civilian airport built on Socotra to promote tourism had conveniently been constructed in accordance with U.S. military specifications.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania), October 18, 2000)

The Militarization of the Indian Ocean

The establishment of a US military base in Socotra is part of the broader process of militarization of the Indian Ocean. The latter consists in integrating and linking Socotra into an existing structure as well as reinforcing the key role played by  the Diego Garcia military base in the Chagos archipelago.

The US Navy’s geostrategist Rear Admiral Alfred T. Mahan had intimated, prior to First World War, that “whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean [will] be a prominent player on the international scene.”.(Indian Ocean and our Security).

What was at stake in Rear Admiral Mahan’s writings was the strategic control by the US of major Ocean sea ways and of the Indian Ocean in particular: “This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the twenty-first century; the destiny of the world will be decided in these waters.

MAP 4

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal,  which hosts the award winning website: www.globalresearch.ca . He is the author of the international best-seller “The Globalisation of Poverty and The New World Order”. He is contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, member of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission and recipient of the Human Rights Prize of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin, Germany. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

Related Global Research Article: See Rick Rozoff,  U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean, Global Research,  8 January 2010.


AMERICA’S “WAR ON TERRORISM”

by Michel Chossudovsky

CLICK TO ORDER

America’s “War on Terrorism”

In this new and expanded edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 best seller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”.  Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

The expanded edition, which includes twelve new chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarisation of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

September 11, 2001 provides a justification for waging a war without borders. Washington’s agenda consists in extending the frontiers of the American Empire to facilitate complete U.S. corporate control, while installing within America the institutions of the Homeland Security State.

Chossudovsky peels back layers of rhetoric to reveal a complex web of deceit aimed at luring the American people and the rest of the world into accepting a military solution which threatens the future of humanity.

The last chapter includes an analysis of the London  7/7 Bomb Attacks.

CLICK TO ORDER (mail order or online order)

America’s “War on Terrorism”

 

As concerned parents, on behalf of Gligoric Ethical Capital, we are publicly standing with the Citizens’ Initiative for Optional Vaccination in defence of the rights to life, liberty, and security of person, specifically as related to informed consent to medical treatment.

There are times when one’s professional duty mandates the protection of human rights. Our support in helping the Citizens’ Initiative for Optional Vaccination comes at the precise moment when important decisions are being made that affect the health and liberty of Serbian citizens. At Gligoric Ethical Capital, we strive to support the movement towards ethical and impact-focused investing, food security through natural and efficient organic agriculture, and ethical media that showcases meaningful change in the world. We cannot simply stand by and watch while the human rights of our friends and loved ones are trampled on by those who do not believe their professional duties extend to honoring the concerns of their constituents. By choosing to speak out, we are not judging any specific person or institution, we are simply requesting that our concerns be heard and validated and that international human rights be upheld.

We are concerned parents to two amazing children. We care about the Serbian people. Many of our friends and family members live in Serbia, and our children spend their time between both Canada and Serbia.

Thankfully, because our children are Canadian citizens, they are protected from mandatory vaccination as such is against the Canadian Constitution. However, our friends and loved ones in Serbia do not enjoy the same basic human rights to life, liberty, and security of person.

Please join us in supporting concerned parents in their campaign to ensure the right to informed consent in Serbia.

We have started a petition addressed to the Office of the  United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and will be personally delivering the petition and signatures. The petition was initiated by, and continues to be supported by, a group of concerned parents asking for freedom of choice when it comes to vaccination.

As you read this, lawmakers are paving the road towards the introduction of forced vaccination in Serbia. Laws that are in direct opposition to the Serbian constitution are being voted on right now. For these reasons, we asked the Ombudsman to protect our rights and the response we received is that, in Serbia, we do not have the right to “direct our own lives and health matters according to our own discretion”.

Please refer to the following statement made by the Ombudsman’s office:

“In addition, health protection laws have mandated obligatory individual submission to immunization; subsequently, it is the parents’/guardians’ obligation to submit to the immunization of the children in their care. “

For readers unfamiliar with the subject, we are not given “vaccine inserts” in Serbia. Serbian patients don’t get info sheets about the possible side effects of vaccination. Serbia doesn’t have a CDC that publishes a list of possible vaccine injuries. No medical association in Serbia has opposed mandatory vaccines (yet).  Read more about the American Medical Association’s position on mandatory vaccination here

Serbia doesn’t have a vaccine injury board that compensates injured families. Serbian citizens are being forced into “submission” by governmental and institutional officials who do not respect human rights, do not respect basic medical principles including, “do no harm”, and do not inform the people of either the contents of vaccines or the possible risks and injuries involved. Informed consent is the very basic requirement of medical practice and Serbian citizens are being denied both information and the right to consent.

We consider the mandatory vaccination of our children as being arbitrary interference with our families. We can interpret the Ombudsman’s letter as stating that we as parents cannot make decisions about our children’s medical care, and that those decisions are to be made by “professionals” and lawmakers. Therefore, we are essentially being told that our children are the property of those decision-makers and not our children or our families. This is arbitrary interference with the family. A mentally sound and concerned parent ought to have every right to question medical interventions and make decisions that weigh the risks and benefits of such interventions.

We are simply asking for freedom of choice when it comes to our health and well-being, and that of our children and families. We simply ask that our human rights be respected and that we are protected from being forced into “submitting” to medical interventions against our will.

Please join us in our campaign to preserve informed consent and human rights in Serbia. You can sign our petition here and you can share the Citizens’ Initiative for Optional Vaccination press release summary and full press release.

Miroslav and Mariah Gligoric

“We, parents and free citizens of the Republic of Serbia, request that decision-makers respect our inviolable human rights. While the right to choose on the matter of vaccination exists throughout the rest of the world, along with the existence of specific funds that provide compensation for vaccine injuries, in Serbia the situation is the exact opposite. Vaccination is unconstitutionally being propagated as mandatory, and injuries are not even acknowledged, let alone are any damages ever paid”.

- Dragana Basa, President of the Citizens’ Initiative for Optional Vaccination, via a March 31st press release 

On April 5th 2015, at the Nikola Pasic square in Belgrade at noon, concerned parents and their fellow citizens are coming together for a peaceful protest to express their concern about, and their disagreement with, the forced vaccination of children and unconstitutional law on the mandatory vaccination of the population.  Referencing the Serbian Constitution and fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by international conventions, on April 5th 2015, we are requesting the cancellation of mandatory vaccination and the nullification of laws related to this policy. We are further requesting the passage of laws modeled after 18 European Union states that allow for freedom of choice on the issue of vaccination for the purpose of the protection of our human rights as citizens of Serbia. Such amendments would protect the rights of parents to freely make decisions on important matters related to the health of their children. If we neglect to oppose the current infringement of individual rights to refuse vaccines that carry the risk of injury and death, if we, as a result, cannot make decisions for ourselves and on behalf of the children in our care, we then open the door to a new insidious era that will include the implementation of further mandatory medical interventions” -The Concerned Parents and Citizens of Serbia and the Citizens’ Initiative for Optional Vaccination.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)employee who worked as a locomotive engineer on the company’s oil-by-railtrain that exploded in rural Casselton, North Dakota in December 2013 has sued his former employer

Filed in Cass County, the plaintiff Bryan Thompson alleges he “was caused to suffer and continues to suffer severe and permanent injuries and damages,” including but not limited to ongoing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) issues.

Thompson’s attorney, Thomas Flaskamp, told DeSmogBlog he “delayed filing [the lawsuit until now] primarily to get an indication as to the direction of where Mr. Thompson’s care and treatment for his PTSD arising out of the incident was heading,” which he says is still being treated by a psychiatrist.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the oil-by-rail world, the only time to date that someone working on an exploding oil train has taken legal action against his employer using the Federal Employers’ Liability Act.

BNSF Engineer Casselton Lawsuit

Image Credit: State of North Dakota District Court; East Central Judicial District

“Run for His Life”

In the aftermath of the Casselton explosion, rail industry consultant Sheldon Lustig told the Associated Press that freight trains carrying oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin are akin to “bomb trains,” putting the now oft-used term on the map for the first time.

Since Casselton, several other oil-by-rail explosions and disasters have ensued in the U.S.

Thompson experienced the wrath of an exploding “bomb train” up close and personal.

Flaskamp told The Forum newspaper in Fargo, North Dakota that Thompson had to “run for his life” to escape the train he was manning once it derailed after colliding with an oncoming grain train.

“Behind him, tank cars were starting to derail, catch fire and explode,” Flaskamp told The Forum of Thompson, who is in his 30s and is currently in school to obtain a teaching degree.

The plaintiffs allege BNSF, owned by multi-billionaire Warren Buffett, violated the Federal Employers’ Liability Act in multiple ways.

They include “failing and neglecting to provide [Thompson] with a reasonably safe place to work” and “failing to warn [him] of the dangers of hauling explosive oil tank railcars and the tendencies of these railcars to rupture and explode upon suffering damage.”

BNSF Employee Casselton Lawsuit

Image Credit: State of North Dakota District Court; East Central Judicial District

BNSF’s Knowledge

In the aftermath of the Casselton explosion, DeSmogBlog reported that the company that owned the terminal intended to receive that oil — which owns a facility in Missouri that off-loads the oil into barges in the Mississippi River — notified the Missouri government on its permit application that the oil it planned to handle has high levels of volatile chemicals.

Put another way, BNSF may have known quite a bit more about the danger of carrying Bakken fracked oil than it ever told Thompson. And that will likely serve as a contentious point in the case as it snakes its way forward in Cass County court.

“BNSF knew or should have known of the dangerous nature of the cargo it required its crews to transport and should have exercised great care in its transport,” Flaskamp told DeSmogBlog. “The Answer to the complaint which will be filed by the BNSF will be telling as to their theories of defense.”

Photo Credit: Shawn Rode

According to Ukrainian news-accounts, Ukraine’s economy is rapidly falling. On April 2nd was reported that “Sales of new cars in Ukraine fell to the lowest in 15 years,” and that March’s sales-volume (number of cars sold) was 23% less than that in February. Even more startlingly, “The general decline in sales of vehicles in Ukraine in January-February 2015 compared to the same period in 2014 was 67%.” So, whenever comparisons go back not merely month-to-month but to the situation prior to the February 2014 coup by the Obama Administration in Ukraine (which was quite violent and surprised EU leaders, who knew nothing about it in advance), this automotive sales-decline is especially stark.

Broad-based polling also supports the conclusion that the Ukrainian population are suffering from the consequences of Obama’s 2014 coup. Ukraine’s pro-Western Razumkov Center think-tank has periodically since 2004 (“the Orange Revolution”) asked Ukrainians, “Is the situation in Ukraine developing in a right or wrong direction?” The latest “right direction” score, March 2015, is 17.5%, which is the lowest such score in nearly three years. The highest score in the past 10 years was 41.3%, in June 2010, right after the man whom Obama overthrew in 2014, Viktor Yanukovych, was elected President. The second-highest such score was 26.1%, in December 2013, which was their first poll taken after Yanukovych had turned down the EU’s offer because Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences had calculated that it would cost Ukrainians $160 billion — it would destroy the economy. (Maybe their economists got that right, after all.) But, though the Ukrainian public were relieved at that rejection of the EU’s offer, the U.S. CIA and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine were definitely not, and so they secretly organized public “Maidan” demonstrations against this turn-down, and used those public demonstrations as cover for their far-right, rabidly anti-Russian, mercenaries, to execute the actual coup, masked and cross-dressed as if they were government security forces shooting into the crowd so that the violence would be blamed on President Yanukovych. Here was Obama’s agent, Victoria Nuland, on the phone on 4 February 2014, telling America’s Ambassador in Kiev whom to get to be appointed to run the government after the coup; and her choice, “Yats,” was appointed 22 days later, on February 26th, and he still runs the country today, and probably for as long as Obama remains pleased with his performance.

Another recent news report, this one on April 1st, headlines “German business is ready to leave Ukraine” and it says: “German businesses are disappointed in Ukraine, and contracting. Most of the 600 companies operating in the country, are currently conducting an audit to determine the desirability of further functioning — exploring options for going out of business with minimal losses — according to the director of the Eastern Committee of German Economy, Chairman of the German-Ukrainian Forum, Rainer Lindner.”

However, yet another Ukrainian news-report, this one on April 2nd, headlines, “Merkel pledges to support investments of German business in Ukraine,” and it notes that, during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s joint press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Berlin on April 1st, she had said, “We talked about this a lot, and discussed ways that will encourage German companies to come to Ukraine,” not leave it.

Already, $40 billion from EU and U.S. taxpayers, through the IMF and other financial intermediaries, are propping up the post-coup regime in Ukraine, and yet that sum is still less than investor George Soros claims is needed: $50 billion. And, so, various ways are being sought to leave Russia holding the bag for these losses, as much as possible (and at least to the tune of that needed additional $10 billion).

On April 1st, Britain’s Financial Times bannered, “Ukraine’s debt haircut showdown looms,” and reported that “academics say another option might be for Ukraine to make Russia’s debt unenforceable in English courts, arguing that Russia’s annexation of Crimea should be set off against the debt.” That way, when Ukraine’s citizens get their pensions and health care and other government-services cut back in order to pay the accumulated debts of the Ukrainian Government (which were largely pocketed by Ukraine’s aristocrats or “oligarchs”), those debt-payments will end up going to the new, Western, (post-coup) investors, and not to the former, (pre-coup) Russian (and Chinese), ones. Western investors don’t care about Ukrainians, but they absolutely hate Russians (and don’t much like Chinese, either). Any money that’s skimmed off of Ukrainian citizens should be heading westward, not eastward, they argue. Their chief argument right now is that Russia ‘stole’ Crimea, and that therefore Russians forfeit any right to anything from Ukraine — including the tens of billions of dollars that Russians had lent to Ukraine before Obama’s 2014 coup turned Ukraine into an anti-Russian military platform (for NATO missiles against Russia, according to the Obama Administration’s plans and anti-Russian propaganda).

The Cato Institute, of the libertarian Koch brothers, has even presented an extremely right-wing former economic advisor to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Andrei Illarionov, as being their chief spokesperson for this Russia-stole-Crimea argument against Illarionov’s former employer. Headlining in a February 2015 publication from the Razumkov Center think-tank, “The Point of No Return,” Illarionov argued:

“The fact that Russia should return Crimea to Ukraine is indisputable,” even though Russia disputes it. He went on: “It does not matter in any way how exactly Crimea was transferred from RSFR’s jurisdiction to that of the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, … since the entire transfer was executed based on the decisions of the supreme legislative bodies of the USSR, RSFR, and Ukrainian SSR, in full compliance with the legislation in force at the time. …

“Likewise of no relevance is the allegedly pro-Russian public opinion in Crimea, … even if the majority of its population really would vote for the annexation. …

“Neither is the Crimean jurisdiction an issue of the Crimean population. …

“The issue of Crimea’s ownership is the prerogative of only one subject of international law: the owner of the territory. The owner of the Crimean peninsula is the state of Ukraine.”

Here is the reason why he was dismissing what the people who live in Crimea wanted (and which they wanted even more after the coup): he knows that they had sound reason to be especially terrified of the people whom the Obama Administration had placed in control of Ukraine, and that more than 90% of Crimeans were enormously relieved for Crimea to be restored as part of Russia, which it had been part of from 1783-1954.

That’s how Crimeans came to be protected from the hell that has been imposed by Obama’s Ukrainian regime against the ‘terrorists’ who live in Ukraine’s Donbass region in the former Ukraine’s far-east, which had voted 90% for Yanukovych, and so who didn’t accept Obama’s coup overthrowing Yanukovych — for that rejection of Obama’s dictatorship over them, they are called ‘terrorists’ by Obama’s regime, which has now invaded and bombed there twice and will probably do it yet a third time, rather than grant the residents of Donbass what Britain recently (and with no bombing) granted the residents of Scotland: the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to continue being a part of that country. (But, inconsistently, Britain’s rulers won’t acknowledge the same basic human right to the residents of Crimea and Donbass, who have far more reason to reject Obama’s rule than Scotts did to challenge UK’s.)

In keeping with standard libertarian theory (such as at Cato), and with standard economic theory, which theory is that the sole real purpose of government is to enforce the rights of owners to their property, Illarionov (an admirer of the far-right economist Milton Friedman) says that a nation is its land and the physical property on and under it, not its residents (unless they are slaves; i.e., property themselves). He rejects basic democratic theory, such as is embodied in America’s own Constitution, which opens with its Sovereignty Clause as its Preamble:

“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Libertarians (and economists) assume that all rights reduce down to the right to property. But America’s Founders didn’t even include that right among its list of concerns upon which the USA was actually founded. Instead of sovereignty residing in property, or even in propertyholders, it resides in the people, and only in them (regardless of whether, or how much, property they might happen to own). This is a fundamentally different view of the purpose of the State, and of government — the view that government exists for the ruled, and not for the rulers (not for the benefit of the aristocracy). That the rulers are merely the elected representatives of the people, and can be dismissed by them, at will, by the people.

The RedCoats, the (troops hired by) British aristocracy in the 1700s, have apparently won the ideological war in more-recent times. Vladimir Putin will now necessarily be compelled by circumstances to decide whether or not he agrees with his former chief economic advisor on that fundamental matter; or, instead, with the Founders of the USA on it — this country which has unfortunately been subsequently conquered by a counter-revolution by the domestic aristocracy (especially after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decison), even without its people so much as knowing about (much less, understanding) the American counter-revolution that now is ruling us.

I develop this discussion further (in economics, law, ideology, and morality) in my just-issued book, Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics. It explains how this counter-revolution was waged in America and then went on to win the ideological war world-wide — and what must now be done in order to reverse the aristocracy’s victory and to restore democracy.

But it’s all summed up right here, in these very concrete news-events regarding Ukraine. Because: if what is at issue in government is the property, and not the people, then feudalism is again dominant, only under a more modern name. And that’s the question and choice which is now at issue, regarding Ukraine, Crimea, Russia, and the future of the entire human species. This little piece of history, then, is just a microcosm of the whole, of our lives, and of those that will come after us.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior Yemeni officials disclosed that the Riyadh government has used Israeli-made weapons in its airstrikes on Yemen.

“The Saudis are using Israeli weapons in their raids on Yemen,” Yemeni Army Commander Taher Rasoul Zadami told FNA on Thursday.

He pointed to the Saudi supports for Al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, and said, “I call on the Yemeni people to confront these terrorist acts through resistance and maintaining their unity.

Zadami underlined that Saudi Arabia and its allies are trying to stir a tribal and religious war in the region, and said, “Anyone who under such situation stands up against the Yemeni nation should be tried at an international criminal court.”

Commander: Saudi Arabia Using Israeli-Made Weapons in Aggression against Yemen
Commander: Saudi Arabia Using Israeli-Made Weapons in Aggression against Yemen
Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for eight days now to restore power to fugitive president Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi airstrikes have killed at least, 198, mostly women and children, and injured hundreds more.

Hadi stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Ansarullah revolutionaries of the Houthi movement.

Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi warplanes are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

Five Persian Gulf States — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait — and Egypt that are also assisted by Israel and backed by the US declared war on Yemen in a joint statement issued Thursday.

US President Barack Obama authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to the military operations, National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said late Wednesday night.

She added that while US forces were not taking direct military action in Yemen, Washington was establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support.

Yemen: Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam?

April 4th, 2015 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

An award-winning author and geopolitical analyst spoke to Sputnik about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen and its’ push to expand the war by involving troops from other Arab countries.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya an award-winning author and geopolitical analyst, who is also a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, spoke to Sputnik about the Saudi led coalition in Yemen.

Nazemroaya said that all military experts around the world including American ones and the ones in the Middle East agreed that airstrikes are never enough to defeat any force.

He also mentioned Libya saying that in that country airstrikes were not enough either. “You need operations on the ground.”

“The Saudis would be very foolish to embark on the ground operations. It will be their Vietnam in the Middle East, in the Arabian Peninsula. I can categorically tell you that airstrikes are not enough to stop any military action on the ground.”

He said that in fact Houthis have basically taken over Aden in the south and because of that he feels that Saudis are going to try and expand the war and bring in troops from Pakistan or mercenaries from other parts of the world.

“They might come under the flag of Saudi Arabia but they could be mercenaries and recruits from other parts of the world.”

He further elaborated, “They are pushing for the Egyptians to get involved. So alongside Saudi Arabia we have some countries that are nominally involved, their involvement is a token to make this look like a Pan-Arab operation, like it has a wider international support.”

He spoke about how Saudi Arabia will push to expand the coalition to get troops from other places. It is unknown whether there will be private security contractors or their own, but the coalition will likely expand.

He also said that he is quite certain that Saudi Arabia will push the Egyptians to get troops into Yemen, which according to him, would be a disaster because Egypt in the past did send troops to Yemen decades ago and it proved to be a disaster.

“It is going to be a disaster for Saudi Arabia. Back in 2009 and 2010 they invaded Yemen to fight Houthi and they lost. Houthi started taking over parts of Saudi Arabia.”

“Southern Saudi villages were actually taken over by the Houthi. So if they want to repeat a failed policy they are going to send troops on the ground into Yemen.”

“Any Arab county that gets involved in Yemen is going to create domestic instability, regional instability and ultimately it will hurt Saudi Arabia. It does not have the military capabilities to invade and occupy Yemen. Hence, they will push to broaden the war and get other actors involved. There are already others involved.”

Talking about other members he said that the US is already a member, there have been reports that Israelis have been helping them in the bombings.

“In fact in the past Saudi Arabia and Israel had an alliance where the Israelis were providing arms to the Saudis to provide to the Royalists in the northern Yemen during the Cold War, to create pressure on southern Yemen which at that time was allied to Moscow during the Cold War. So I mean there are broader interests involved,” Nazemroaya said.

 

Podemos and the Catalan Independence Process

April 4th, 2015 by Josep Maria Antentas

The rise of Podemos (“We Can”) in the Spanish state – and of its counterpart Podem in Catalonia – has presented a new challenge to both the Catalan independence movement and to the traditional left in that subordinated national component of the Spanish state. Pablo Iglesias and other Podemos leaders, while indicating sympathy for self-determination of Catalonia, do not support its independence.

A key issue now on the agenda in Catalonia is how to combine the social emancipatory perspective of Podem/Podemos with the ascendant popular support for sovereignty or independence as registered last November 9 in a referendum that was opposed by the central government in Madrid.

In the following article a leading participant in the revolutionary Marxist left in Catalonia, Josep Maria Antentas, suggests that the new context requires a recalibration of strategy of both the independence movement (which he supports) and the social layers primarily influenced by Podem/Podemos around a mutual strategy that combines support for self-determination of Catalonia and other national components of the existing state with a democratic and progressive social agenda.

A New Alliance?

This strategic orientation and alliance, if successful, would defeat the two-party centre-right governing coalition in Catalonia headed by Artur Mas’s Liberal party CDC and the Catalan independence party ERC, which currently stands as an obstacle to the further progress of the independence movement. And the establishment of a progressive independent republic in Catalonia could help to smash the remaining pillars of the post-Francoist central state as constituted by the Regime of 1978, which restored the monarchy and has been dominated up to now by the neoliberal alternance in government of the right-wing People’s Party (currently led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy) and the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), led by Pedro Sánchez.

Josep Maria Antentas suggests that the appropriate approach in the forthcoming Catalan elections, now scheduled for September 27, is to focus on pluralistic multiparty support for the constitution of a democratic and progressive Catalan Republic while leaving open the nature of the future relationship of this and other potential national republics with a possible reconstituted form of the Spanish state.

These strategic choices may resonate with anticapitalists in Quebec and English Canada who are now beginning to reflect on ways in which progressive support for independence of Quebec and self-determination of the indigenous peoples – the leading popular forces in articulating the need for alternative progressive constitutional and social change – can be combined with a democratic social agenda in the Canadian state around a common strategy that not only breaks with neoliberalism but poses the need to go beyond capitalism.

I have added a few explanatory notes to Antentas’ article, which I translated from the Spanish.

Richard Fidler is an Ottawa member of the Socialist Project. A version of this article was first published on his blog Life on the Left.

 

An estimated 1.8 million people demonstrated in Barcelona on September 12 for the right to vote on Catalonia’s political future on November 9. The demonstration had a V shape (the V standing for “votar” (voting) and “voluntat” (will)) and its participants also formed a human mosaic of the Catalan flag, with red stripes on a yellow background.

Podemos and the Catalan Independence Process

Josep Maria Antentas

The emergence of Podemos has politically awakened a section of the Catalan people that is, in its majority, outside of (which does not mean opposed to) the political and social imagination of the independentist process and the image and representation that it has outlined of Catalonia, one that is less heterogeneous as far as national identities are concerned than it really is.

This Catalonia, in fact, has been losing its protagonistic character since the workers’ movement broke up as a central political and social actor, to be replaced by other social movements with greater weight in the middle classes in the full meaning of the term. Suddenly there has appeared a more diverse Catalonia, which in some ways had already burst abruptly into the public squares in the course of the anti-austerity movement, providing a more complex image of what the country is, of its political system, and of the political alignments of its popular layers.

It was a Catalonia that has not been represented up to now (or which had been represented by forces in decline and unreported), led by an alternative and rising political instrument. And indirectly it has complicated even further the political strategy to be followed by the popular forces, which have a complex interaction between the social and the national and a complicated political architecture to devise as to which identities it refers.

A homogeneous people does not exist, nor does a linear “popular unity.” There is a diverse and heterogeneous people, whose collective identity is under construction and which, in so far as its national identity and its relation with the independentist process are concerned, has diverse inclinations or feelings. It was this “people” who enthusiastically attended the meeting with Pablo Iglesias in the Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona last December 21, like those who participated in the massive actions in the neighborhoods and cities by Teresa Forcades[1] and Arcado Oliveres,[2] or those who identify with David Fernández.[3] This is definitely a people who cannot be reduced to monolithic representations of “popular unity.”

An image of an overly homogenous “people,” at the decisive moment, can lead to representing what is politically a minority of these people, taking the part for the whole without generating an attractive pole, a sufficiently powerful magnet to serve as the nodal point of a majoritarian bloc that allows a collective congregation around a coherent but plural project in its (self-)representa­tions.

A New Political Synthesis?

How are we to synthesize politically the popular bloc that today looks to divergent possible futures and that remains partially divided as to its identification with the independentist project? This synthesis, as complex as it is essential, difficult but full of potential, is the winning formula in Catalonia. It is the equation that can defeat Mas and, at the same time, maintain the sovereigntist challenge in order to deal a well-aimed and perhaps decisive blow to the regime that Rajoy and Pedro Sánchez hope to keep afloat.

On the contrary, the risk to be avoided, and which has no future, is one of a fracture of the Catalan popular layers at the base of the sovereigntist process that results in a dual situation with no way out: on the one hand, a minority alternative left (CUP, the sectors more to the left of ERC, etc.) within a sovereigntist bloc (with a political and electoral majority precariously united in everything else), led by CDC and the ERC leadership; on the other hand, a democratic and anti-austerity pole, represented by Podem,[4] outside of the sovereigntist process and, despite its electoral relevance, without the capacity to have a political and electoral majority in Catalonia. That is the two-part losing formula, the formula that drives a bifurcated lethal spear into the heart of the strategy, provoking a political infarction with a tragic ending.

The synthesis perspective consists of defending after September 27 the realization of an act of effective sovereignty, both formal and substantive, by the Parliament of Catalonia, that breaks with the legality of the 1978 framework but without prefiguring the final result in so far as it refers to the relations between Catalonia and the Spanish state. That is, the opening of a Catalan constituent process that lays the bases for a new institutional framework and a new Catalan Republic, whose relationship to the Spanish state is to be discussed at the end of that process.

Those within the popular and working classes who have an independentist horizon, and those who do not, can now come together around the need for an act of unilateral sovereignty and the proclamation of a distinct Republic, an act that would have a dual consequence. First, it would open the door to discussing what model of country we want, in Catalonia, and therefore to “decide everything,” precisely what Mas does not want. Second, it would pose an unprecedented institutional challenge to the legal framework of 1978 and the Rajoy government, and substantively take a further step forward along the path expressed on November 9.

The correlation of that focus must be to insert the opening of a Catalan constituent process within the perspective of initiating on a state-wide scale particular national and sovereign constituent processes, and feedback processes, to put an end to the Regime of 1978. A Catalan constituent process is neither subsidiary to nor dependent on one that is Spanish, nor is it something that ignores what is happening in the state as a whole. To the contrary, a strategic articulation of the various sovereignties is what can help to smash the pillars that are still standing of the battered post-Francoist political and institutional framework.

The Independentist Process

Podemos and the independentist process pose a challenge to each other. On the one hand, Podemos is forced to a dual challenge. In the first place, to build a national-popular project in the state as a whole, compatible with a plurinational conception of what is now the Spanish state, with the right to self-determination of the distinct nations that are its components, and in the absence of any hierarchical, political or symbolic relationship among them. This necessarily implies a clear defense of the right of the Catalan people to decide, the guarantee of a binding referendum if it comes to govern the state, and above all the acceptance of the right (which does not necessarily imply agreeing with the exercise that is made of it) of the people of Catalonia to decide unilaterally their future given the impossibility of doing so now in a legal referendum under a mutually agreed process.

Secondly, in Catalonia Podem has to construct its own project, which inevitably must root itself in Catalanismo and relate (in order to attract them) to a sector of the social bases in the independentist process, beginning with those of an ERC that is having growing difficulties in justifying to a portion of its electorate its permanent subordination to Mas. Between backing the independentist process and moving only outside of its confines there is space for a relevant force in Catalonia, but not for one that aspires to be the prop of a winning majority.

On the other hand, Podemos and Podem propose to the independentist process, and to their principal political and social protagonists, beginning with the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the need to dialogue with an emerging political movement that crystallizes the discontent in a sense distinct from that of independentism. Podem galvanizes a social sector that is (at least partially) outside the independentist process (but that does not recognize itself in the Spain of Rajoy and Sánchez) and, at the same time, it speaks to sectors within that process that might swing away from it given the new possibilities of change offered by Podemos.

The new Catalan and Spanish political context forces a reposing of objectives and strategies for the independentist movement. The first and most important is to widen its popular social base, which is impossible without inserting an explicit social dimension in the movement, breaking with the strategic taboo that has led to doing precisely the contrary. The second is to be able to articulate a dialectical vision between a dynamic of accumulation of forces peculiar to Catalonia and the break at the state level from the institutional framework of the Regime of 1978, looking for mutual synergies and support through the defence of sovereign constituent processes. Unfortunately, both tasks have shone by their absence in the debate of recent months, which has been ridiculously centred around the advisability or not of a single independentist list on September 27, starkly illustrating the strategic limits of the approach of the ANC and the independentist mainstream. Very big challenges on the one hand, but strategic small-mindedness on the other. A bad combination, for sure.

With elections having been called for next September 27, the challenge is to put together a successful popular bloc that breaks with the Mas-ERC coalition. One that puts another alternative on the table, that points to new possibilities. This means breaking from the political and discursive framework fixed by Mas (and the other central actors of Catalan politics), but without pretending to play yet some other game or to stand alongside them but rather to reformulate the debate on independence and sovereignty, carrying those concepts to the end, drawing on the democratic thread, extending them to cover all spheres and thus proposing a democratic and participatory Catalan constituent horizon as a framework for shared convergence of all the processes of change.

Right to decide? Of course, but on all subjects, beginning with economic policy. Independence and sovereignty? Yes of course, but then let us talk about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Plebiscitary elections? Why not. But on all issues, not only on independence. On Mas itself, on the cutbacks, on austerity, on corruption.

With that focus, the possible futures, now bifurcated, can begin to be convergent. And from that point on there is no reason to limit the scope of our dreams or our confidence in our options. •

Josep Maria Antentas is a member of the editorial board of the magazine Viento Sur, and a professor of sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Source: blogs.publico.es/dominiopublico/12899/podemos-y-el-proceso-independentista-catalan

notes:

1. Teresa Forcades is a Catalan physician, Benedictine nun, and prominent social activist and supporter of Catalan independence.

2. Arcado Oliveres is an economist, Christian activist, advocate of degrowth, and co-founder, with Teresa Forcades, of a popular platform for the secession of Catalonia.

3. David Fernández is a member of the Catalan parliament representing the alternative left and radical independence party Popular Unity Candidates(Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, CUP).

4. Podem is the Catalan counterpart of Podemos.

According to a just released UN report that monitors al Qaeda and ISIS terrorist groups, from the time ISIS splashed onto the headlines last June in its infamous trek southward from Syria into Iraq to take over the second largest city Mosul without encountering any opposition, a whopping 20,000 foreign recruits from over 100 countries – that’s most nations on earth – have since converged on Iraq and Syria alone to join up as terrorists ostensibly fighting to rid the Middle East of the so called Western infidels. Another 5000 new recruits from foreign countries are additionally fighting in other war zones like Libya and now Yemen.

During the Reagan-Bush administration the US through the CIA created and began backing the terrorist organization that came to be known as al Qaeda in early 1980’s Afghanistan as the US proxy mercenary ally successfully fighting our cold war enemy the Soviet Union. Then the US-NATO under Clinton successfully deployed al Qaeda as the US proxy mercenaries in the Balkans  during the 1990’s. Then at the time of 9/11 when the Bush neocons used 19 box-cutting Moslem stooges (15 from Saudi Arabia) as their war on terror proxy mercenary ally to successfully carry out their false flag attack on the United States, an estimated al Qaeda core membership consisted of less than 1,000. The neocons in charge have since caused two costly US war defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, producing two devastated failed states that are still mired in US caused sectarian civil war violence. Now in 2015 if this UN report’s numbers are to be believed, the neocons finally turned what they had created into what they wanted all along – their forever war on terror.

An International Business Times article from last September estimated that only 2300 ISIS fighters were from foreign countries. In just a half year that number according to the UN has swelled apparently up to 25000, multiplying more than ten times. The latest UN figures cite a 71% increase in foreign recruits since mid-last year. In any event, if the UN report is at all accurate, an exponential increase in the number of foreigners from around the world are becoming Islamic State terrorists. What does that say about the West’s so called “war on terror?” Much like the so called war on drugs, it’s a contrived “war” that that’s never won, but has incarcerated millions most often poor minorities into the sprawling US prison industrial complex while the international crime syndicate called the US federal government continues profiting billions from another “unwinnable” war. War on terror is used much the same way, the only profiteers are the military industrial complex of the US arms industry, the sprawling private contractor industry, and the ever-growing security complex industry. The primary victims are mostly innocent Middle Eastern Moslems living in nations caught in an imperialistic blood for oil endgame.

Though most of the Islamic State forces are from the Middle East and North Africa, increasingly “radicalized” members from Western nations are entering Syria and Iraq through US ally-NATO member Turkey. Islamic extremists have been historically trained inside Turkey along with other allies like Jordan. The obvious concern is that after these recruited extremists hone their terrorist skills fighting in places like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, they will soon be returning home to commit terrorist acts on Western soil. Recall in January the Hebdo terrorists apparently had recently returned home from training in Yemen prior to initiating their killing spree in France. The likelihood of a false flag occurring inside the United States and/or Europe allegedly perpetrated by returning Islamic State terrorists remains high. At least that is what this latest UN report and the Washington feds would want us to believe. It’s all part of the fabricated war on terror. This scenario in turn would be the convenient crisis used to unleash martial law.

How much danger to us do these mounting numbers of Islamic jihadists pose is debatable. Part of the sinister propagandist strategy since 9/11 is to falsely inflate the risks of becoming a victim of terrorism as justification for eliminating civil liberties in order to create fascist totalitarian security states at home in Western nations. When Americans stand a 55 times more chance of being murdered by cops terrorizing their own fellow citizens they’re supposedly protecting than actually dying from so called terrorists, the predatory, gluttonously corrupt security state renders Americans far less secure than any Moslem terrorist. So artificially hyping up an alarming exponential growth rate of Islamic terrorists feeds right into the New World Order agenda to increase global totalitarianism and domestic tyranny while masquerading behind the litany of Western draconian counterterrorism laws.

Meanwhile, evidence that the US-Israeli-Saudi connection has not only created but continues to finance, arm and train al Qaeda and ISIS is undisputable. Over the last six months the US military has been caught repeatedly maintaining the ISIS supply line in both Iraq and Syria with regular air drops of arms, ammo and food supplies.

US Empire now has a long history of deploying al Qaeda/ISIS as its proxy war mercenaries on the ground in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and now Yemen. They have been covertly paid Empire ponds for the purpose of increasing US global hegemony and dominance on the geopolitics chessboard at humanity’s expense. Moreover, CIA and military intelligence from US Special Operations currently involved in dirty secret little wars in sub-Saharan Africa have been linked to al Qaeda offshoots like Boco Haram spreading southward across that continent.

Another question to ponder is why are so many young people from so many countries including the West willing to risk their lives fighting in some far off land? Some might claim that Islam attracts fanaticism and violent extremism. This Islamophobia is more a propaganda tool that with a broad bigoted stroke has turned the so called war on terror into a war on Islam. Moslems are being used as convenient scapegoats for the neocon criminal architects of this war on terror. The mercenary ISIS thugs that the US media propagandizes as Sunni Moslem militia are not religious at all.

Who are these newly enlisted ISIS recruits? Young adventurists, misguided lost souls and idealists, angry anti-American sentiment harnessed by ISIS propagandist social media outreach, spawned from poor economies worldwide that offer little stability or opportunity, and those individuals who have witnessed the US Empire’s brutality up close, all of these may become motivating factors that bolster the recent large recruitment numbers.

But the real senseless tragedy since 9/11 in all these years of growing violence and terror is the six plus trillion US taxpayer dollars that’s been wasted creating the deadly gridlocked mess in both Iraq and Afghanistan marking the two longest running wars in US history have only contributed to creating more terrorists and a far more armed and dangerous world. It’s no accident that where thousands of innocent lives have been lost to US terror from the skies that Obama’s killer drones continue inflicting is exactly where the number of ISIS forces are dramatically rising. So if drones are supposed to decrease the number of terrorists (at a killing rate of innocent civilians of 96%), clearly it’s having the reverse effect. The word if is used here because it’s more likely that US drone warfare is being waged to ensure that more terrorists are in fact created.

Always the US installed puppet governments never gain support or popularity from the people because they serve the larger interests of transnational corporations and US global hegemony rather than the well-being of their nations. Thus in every case populist movements inevitably emerge as freedom fighting groups opposing the corrupt, weak US puppet governments. These so called insurgents are righteously fighting to take back their homeland from their Western oppressors. We saw it in Vietnam, and more recently in Afghanistan twice, Iraq, Ukraine, and now Yemen. US imperialism is the true enemy of the people. Where no religious divisions occurred in the Middle East amongst various Muslim sects before, US imperialism has regularly used the old divide and conquer strategy to pit Moslem against Moslem, ethnicity against ethnicity, Western forces including fake ISIS enemy-mercenary ally against Eastern forces supported by Iran, Russia and China. Turning groups within a nation that co-existed peacefully for centuries into sudden enemies has been the Empire’s calling card.

With up to a million and a half Iraqis dead and hundreds of thousands more perished in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, and now in Yemen dying every day, the quality of life for the native populations in all these countries where the US-NATO forces have intervened is far worse than ever before, leaving demolished failed states in the West’s destructive path. The murderous aggression of US foreign policy has only created more terrorists who often understandably seek revenge from losing family members killed by US Empire. Yet ever since the inside job of 9/11, the Israeli-Saudi-US-NATO axis of evil as the globalist international crime syndicate that’s infiltrated and taken over the West has successfully and willfully spread its devastating lethal agenda to destabilize every targeted nation in the Middle East and North Africa and beyond, purposely polarizing the entire planet into a West versus East military confrontation now teetering on the edge of World War III. It has forced Russia, China, Iran and Syria into forming a defensive alliance for its very survival. The bottom line result of the neocons’ global war on terror has led directly to more global terror than ever before in human history. What is agonizingly clearer as time goes on is that it’s all been perpetrated by diabolical NWO design.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing and has a blog site at http://empireexposed. blogspot. com/.

As Binyamin Netanyahu tries to impose his will upon the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the U.S., UK, Russia, China, France plus Germany – will no one rid us of the opinions of this meddlesome, Middle East maverick with his undeclared nuclear arsenal? 

Just over 2 million Israelis voted for Mr Netanyahu in the recent elections for the Knesset – about 25% of an electorate that only totals just over 8 million in its entirety. This compares to a population of over 800 million in the US and EU alone i.e. without counting Russia and China. And this jumped-up, minority leader has the temerity to try to impose his political doctrine of Middle East supremacy upon Europe, America and Asia!

There is only one language that Mr Netanyahu understands, and that is international trade and the money it affords him to rush about Washington and Brussels with his arms, guns and dogma. However, there is virtually nothing that Israel exports that cannot be either sourced or replicated elsewhere.

Those being the facts, it is up to the EU Commission to impose trade sanctions on Israel until such time as it complies with international law and dismantles all illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories; ends the eight year blockade of essential supplies to 1.8 million men, women and children in Gaza and adopts a paradigm shift designed to bring peace, not war, to an unstable region.

In the meantime, Mr Netanyahu’s gratuitous opinions should be confined to the Israeli Knesset and he should leave important foreign policy decisions to those confirmed to have a genuine interest in peace and the ability, and will, to achieve it.

McCain Urges Preemptive Israeli Aggression against Iran

April 3rd, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

McCain is one of many neocon lunatics infesting Washington. He chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has considerable influence over US defense policy.

He wants war on Iran. He opposes resolving issues over its well-known peaceful nuclear program responsibly.

He issued a lengthy statement on Lausanne talks full of Big Lies.

“…Congress…recognize(s) the threat of the Iranian nuclear program,” he blustered.

“Although (terms of a possible deal) could modestly slow Iran’s nuclear program, I am concerned by certain elements of the proposed agreement including the continued development of advanced centrifuges capable of producing potential nuclear bomb material at a high rate.”

“I also want to see the military dimensions of the program and their domestic uranium enrichment capacity addressed and resolved responsibly.”

Fact: The whole world knows Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.

Fact: It has no military component.

Fact: Annual US intelligence assessments say so.

Fact: McCain knows it. He has access to US intelligence on Iran and other countries.

Fact: He wants S. 269 legislation enacted – imposing more lawless sanctions on Iran on top of existing ones.

Fact: He absurdly calls Iran’s peaceful/legitimate nuclear program “malign activity.”

Fact: He wants confrontation with Tehran – not responsible resolution of longstanding differences.

He urges Israel to “go rogue.” He supports bombing Iran – preemptively attacking a nonbelligerent country threatening no one.

Endangering millions of Iranians. Maybe incinerating them with Israeli nuclear weapons.

“The Israelis need to chart their own path of resistance,” McCain blustered.

He and numerous other hardline senators from both parties back Senate Res. 65. One analyst calls it a “Backdoor to War” bill.

Draft language later softened without changing its intent said Congress “urges that, if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”

McCain, likeminded congressional lunatics and former US officials like John Bolton support bombing Iran.

Imperial US policy and Israeli interests matter more than fundamental rule of law principles, humanitarian ones and common sense.

Attacking Iran risks setting the whole region ablaze. Washington already is doing it one country after another.

Iran has been on America’s target list for years. Whether war ahead follows remains to be seen.

Washington reserves the right to use preemptive military force against any nation for any reason or none at all.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said “(t)he military option certainly will remain on the table” against Iran – even if Lausanne talks achieve resolution on its nuclear program.

Longstanding US policy calls for regime change – including by war if other methods fail.

A Final Comment

Nuclear talks in Lausanne remain unresolved. On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said “(n)o agreement will be signed today.”

“No statement has yet been prepared. We hope to achieve results today.”

“If everything goes well, there will be a formal public statement by midnight.”

Final resolution remains elusive – even for a framework agreement ahead of hoped for final resolution by June 30.

After years of failure, key is whether resolving issues over Iran’s nuclear program changes anything.

Hegemons don’t compromise. America is all take and no give.

Longstanding US policy calls for regime change. Washington wants pro-Western stooge government replacing sovereign Iranian independence.

As long as this policy holds, normal relations with Iran remain impossible. Eventual confrontation looms. It’s likely just a matter of time.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz is one of many influential hardline Israeli lunatics. On Wednesday, he warned of a nonexistent Iranian threat.

Saying Israel will counter it militarily if necessary. “(T)he military option is on the table,” he stressed.

Attacking Iran means all bets are off. Regional war could follow.

Maybe Israeli lunatics will reveal their nuclear strength by using it. Millions of Iranian lives are at stake.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Will Yemen Kick Off the “War of the Two Blocs?”

April 3rd, 2015 by Sharmine Narwani

There is media confusion about what is going on in Yemen and the broader Middle East. Pundits are pointing out that the US is looking schizophrenic with policies that back opposite sides of the fight against al-Qaeda-style extremism in Iraq and in Yemen.

But it isn’t that hard to understand the divergent policies once you comprehend the underlying drivers of the fight brewing in the region.

No, it isn’t a battle between Shia and Sunni, Iranian and Arab or the much-ballyhooed Iran-Saudi stand-off. Yes, these narratives have played a part in defining ‘sides,’ but often only in the most simplistic fashion, to rally constituencies behind a policy objective. And they do often reflect some truth.

But the ‘sides’ demarcated for our consumption do not explain, for instance, why Oman or Algeria refuse to participate, why Turkey is where it is, why Russia, China and the BRICS are participants, why the US is so conflicted in its direction – and why, in a number of regional conflicts, Sunni, Shia, Islamist, secularist, liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, Arab and Iranian sometimes find themselves on the same side.

This is not just a regional fight – it is a global one with ramifications that go well beyond the Middle East. The region is quite simply the theatre where it is coming to a head. And Yemen, Syria and Iraq are merely the tinderboxes that may or may not set off the conflagration.

“The battle, at its very essence, in its lowest common denominator, is a war between a colonial past and a post-colonial future.”

For the sake of clarity, let’s call these two axes the Neo-Colonial Axis and the Post-Colonial Axis. The former seeks to maintain the status quo of the past century; the latter strives to shrug off old orders and carve out new, independent directions.

If you look at the regional chessboard, the Middle East is plump with governments and monarchies backed to the hilt by the United States, Britain and France. These are the West’s “proxies” and they have not advanced their countries in the least – neither in self-sufficiencies nor in genuine democratic or developmental milestones. Indebted to ‘Empire’s’ patronage, these states form the regional arm of the Neo-Colonial Axis.

On the other side of the Mideast’s geopolitical fault line, Iran has set the standard for the Post-Colonial Axis – often referred to as the ‘Resistance Axis.’ Based on the inherent anti-imperialist worldview of the 1979 Islamic revolution, and also as a result of US/UK-driven isolating sanctions and global politics, Tehran has bucked the system by creating an indigenous system of governance, advancing its developmental ambitions and crafting alliances that challenge the status quo.

Iran’s staunchest allies have typically included Syria, Hezbollah and a handful of Palestinian resistance groups. But today, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring counter-revolutions – and the sheer havoc these have created – other independent players have discovered commonalities with the Resistance Axis. In the region, these include Iraq, Algeria and Oman. While outside the Mideast, we have seen Russia, China and other non-aligned nations step in to challenge the Neo-Colonial order.

Neo-Colonial Axis hits an Arab Spring wall

Today, the Neo-Colonials simply can’t win. They lack two essential components to maintain their hegemony: economy and common objectives.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the Middle East, where numerous initiatives and coalitions have floundered shortly after inception.

Once Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in Libya, all parties went their own way and the country fractured. In Egypt, a power struggle pitted Sunni against Sunni, highlighting the growing schism between two Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) patrons Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Syria, a heavyweight line-up of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the US and UK could not pull together a coherent regime-change plan or back the same horse.

In the vacuum created by these competing agendas, highly-organized al-Qaeda-style extremists stepped in to create further divergence among old allies.

Western hegemons – the original colonials and imperialists – grew fatigued, alarmed, and sought a way out of the increasingly dangerous quagmire. To do so, they needed to strike a compromise with the one regional state that enjoyed the necessary stability and military prowess to lead the fight against extremism from within the region. That would be their old adversary, Iran.

But the West is geographically distant from the Mideast, and can take these losses to a certain extent. For regional hegemons, however, the retreat of their Western patrons was anathema. As we can see, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have recently rushed to resolve their differences so they can continue to design the region’s direction in this Western vacuum.

These counter-revolutionary states, however, share grandiose visions of their own regional influence – each ultimately only keen to achieve their own primacy. And the continued ascendance of Iran has really grated: the Islamic Republic seems to have moved from strength to strength during this ‘Arab Spring,’ picking up new allies – regional and global – and consolidating its gains.

A police trooper walks in a creater caused by an air strike on houses near Sanaa Airport March 31, 2015 (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)A police trooper walks in a creater caused by an air strike on houses near Sanaa Airport March 31, 2015 (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah) 

For Saudi Arabia, in particular, Iran’s incremental victories go beyond the pale. Riyadh has, after all, staked its regional leadership role on a sectarian and ethnic divide, representing Arab and Sunni stakeholders against “Iranian” and “Shiite” ones. Now suddenly, not only are the Americans, British and French dallying with the Iranians, but the GCC itself has been split down the center over the issue of ‘engagement vs. confrontation’ with the Islamic Republic.

Worse yet, the Saudi efforts to participate in the overthrow of Gaddafi, squash uprisings in Bahrain, control political outcomes in Yemen, destabilize Syria, divide Iraq and conquer Egypt seem to have come to naught.

In all instances, they have yet to see cemented, meaningful gains – and each quagmire threatens to unravel further and deplete ever more Saudi funds

Today, the Saudis find themselves surrounded by the sickly fruits of their various regional interventions. They have endured recent attacks by violent extremists on their Iraqi and Jordanian borders – many of these recipients of past Saudi funding – and now find themselves challenged on a third border, in Yemen, by a determined constituency that seeks to halt Saudi interventions.

Beyond that, Syria and Lebanon have slipped out of Riyadh’s grip, little Qatar seeks to usurp the traditional Saudi role in the Persian Gulf, Egypt dallies with Russia and China, and Pakistan and Turkey continue a meaningful engagement with Iran.

Meanwhile, the Iranians don’t have to do much of anything to raise the Saudi ire. Iran has stepped up its regional role largely because of the Saudi-led counter-revolution, and has cautiously thwarted Riyadh’s onslaughts where it could. It has buoyed allies – much like NATO or the GCC would in similar circumstances – but with considerably less aggression and while cleaving to the letter of international law.

The Saudis see Iranian hands everywhere in the region, but this is a fantasy at best. Iran has simply stepped into an opportunity when it arises, meet the threats coming its way, and utilize all its available channels to blunt the Saudi advances in various military and political theaters.

Even the US intelligence community’s annual security assessment – a report card that regularly highlights the “Iranian threat” – concludes in 2015 that the Islamic Republic of Iran has “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.”

Yet all we hear these days blaring from Western and Arab media headlines is “Shia sectarianism, Iranian expansionism and Persian Empire.”

Tellingly, the American intelligence assessment launches its section on “terrorism” with the following: “Sunni violent extremists are gaining momentum and the number of Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens is greater than at any other point in history.”

And US officials admit: many of these Sunni extremists have been assisted and financed by no other than Washington allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

The Yemeni theater – a final battleground?

A senior official within a Resistance Axis state tells me: “The biggest mistake the Saudis made is to attack Yemen. I didn’t think they were that stupid.”

In the past week, the Saudis have cobbled together yet another Neo-Colonial ‘coalition’ – this time to punish Yemenis for ousting their made-in-Riyadh transitional government and pushing into the southern city of Aden.

The main Saudi adversaries are the Houthis, a group of northern, rural highlanders who have amassed a popular base throughout the north and other parts of Yemen over the course of ten years and six wars.

The Saudis (and the US) identify the Houthis as ‘Shiites’ and ‘Iranian-backed’ in order to galvanize their own bases in the region. But Iran has had little to do with the Houthis since their emergence as a political force in Yemen. And WikiLeaks showed us that US officials know this too. A 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Riyadh notes that Yemen’s former Saudi-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh provided “false or exaggerated information on Iranian assistance to the Houthis in order to enlist direct Saudi involvement and regionalize the conflict.”

And allegations that Iran arms the Houthis also fall flat. Another secret cable makes clear: “Contrary to ROYG (Republic of Yemen Government) claims that Iran is arming the Houthis, most local political analysts report that the Houthis obtain their weapons from the Yemeni black market and even from the ROYG military itself.”

Saleh was deposed in 2011 as a result of Arab Spring pressures, and in a twist worthy of the complicated Middle East, the wily former president now appears to be backing his former adversaries, the Houthis, against his old patrons, the Saudis.

The Houthis are adherents of the Muslim Zaydi sect – which falls somewhere between Sunnism and Shiism, and is followed by around 40 percent of Yemenis. Saleh, who fought the Houthis in half a dozen wars, is also a Zaydi – evidence that Yemen’s internal strife is anything but sectarian.

In fact, it could be argued that the Houthi – or Ansarallah movement – are a central constituency of Yemen’s ‘Arab Spring.’ Their demands since 2003 have, after all, largely been about ending disenfranchisement, gaining economic, political and religious rights, eliminating corruption, railing against the twin evils of America and Israel (a popular Post-Colonial Arab sentiment), and becoming stakeholders in the state.

To ensure the balance continued in their favor during the Arab Spring, the Neo-Colonial Axis installed a puppet transitional leader upon Saleh’s departure – an unelected president whose term ran out a year ago.

Shi'ite Houthi rebels man a checkpoint at the southern entrance to the city of Sanaa (Reuters / Mohamed al-Sayaghi)Shi’ite Houthi rebels man a checkpoint at the southern entrance to the city of Sanaa (Reuters / Mohamed al-Sayaghi) 

Then a few months ago, the Houthis – allegedly with the support of Saleh and his tens of thousands of followers – ousted their rivals in the puppet regime and took over the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. When the Saudis threatened retaliation, the Houthis pushed further southward…which brings us to the war front amassing against Yemen today.

This is not a battle the Saudis and their Neo-Colonial Axis can win. Airstrikes alone cannot turn this war, and it is unlikely that Riyadh and its coalition partners can expect troops on the ground to be any more successful – if they are even deployed.

The Houthis have learned over the past decade to fight both conventional and guerilla wars. This relatively small band of highlanders managed in 2009 to push 30 kilometers into Saudi territory and take over several dozen Saudi towns. When coalition-partner Egypt last fought a war with ground troops in Yemen, it became Gamal Abdel Nasser’s ‘Vietnam’ and nearly bankrupted the state.

Even majority-Sunni Pakistan, a traditional pipeline for staffing GCC armies, seems wary about this conflict. It too is fighting elsewhere on the same side as the Houthis, Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis – against violent Sunni extremists inside its borders and from their bases in neighboring Afghanistan. No amount of Saudi money will quench the anger of militant-weary Pakistanis if their government commits to this Yemeni fight – against the very groups (Houthis) that are battling al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

And, yes, it is ironic that the United States is now providing assistance and intelligence for the Saudi-led coalition – against the Houthis, who are fighting al-Qaeda.

But as mentioned earlier, this is not Washington’s neighborhood, and it does not approach this fight with the same goals of its close ally, Saudi Arabia.

The Resistance Axis official explains:

“The Americans see all outcomes as good: If the Houthis win, they will help get rid of al-Qaeda in Yemen. If the Saudis win, well, these are still the US’s allies. And if both sides enter a protracted war, that is “not a problem either,” referring to the ever-present US interest of selling weapons in conflict zones.

Despite a global ban, the United States has sold the Saudis $640 million worth of cluster bombs over the past two years, some of which have been used to carpet bomb parts of Yemen in the past few days. The cluster munitions were part of an overall $67 billion worth of arm deals with Saudi Arabia since the Arab uprisings kicked off in 2011.

The Iranians, meanwhile, are not doing much of anything, except insisting – like the Russians and others – that the bombardment of Yemen is criminal and that Yemenis need to solve their own problems via an internal dialogue.

And why should they make any moves? The Saudis are digging their own graves right now – and hastening the demise of the entire Neo-Colonial project in the Middle East, to boot.

“Tehran realizes that the fact that Riyadh had to bring together a major coalition to fight a group that is only on the outskirts of Iranian influence is a victory in itself,” says the US-based, conservative risk-analysis group, Stratfor.

Riyadh’s move to attack Yemen has just dragged the not-so-financially-flush Kingdom into yet another military quagmire, and this time directly, bypassing proxies altogether. Every airstrike in Yemen – and it is clear in the first few days that dozens of civilians, including children, have been killed – threatens to draw more adherents to the Houthi cause.

And every day that the Houthis are tied up in this battle, AQAP gets an opportunity to cement its hold elsewhere in the country. The net winner in this conflict is unlikely to be Saudi Arabia, but it may just be al-Qaeda – which is guaranteed to draw the Post-Colonial Axis into the strategically vital waterways surrounding Yemen.

The Arab League, under Saudi Arabia’s arm-twisting, just upped the ante by demanding that only a complete Houthi surrender (laying down weapons and withdrawing) would end the airstrikes. This ultimatum leaves very little room to jumpstart dialogue, and shows shocking disregard for the normal goals of military engagement, which try to leave ‘negotiation windows’ open.

It may be that the Saudis, who have rapidly lost influence and control in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, and other states in the past few years, have decided to go to the wall in Yemen.

Or it may just be some posturing to create momentum and bolster bruised egos.

But conflict has a way of balancing itself out – as in Syria and Iraq – by drawing other, unforeseen elements into the fray. With all the conflicts raging in the Middle East and encroaching on their borders, the Post-Colonial Axis has been forced to take a stand. And they bring to the field something their adversaries lack: common objectives and efficiency.

This is possibly the first time in the modern Mideast we have seen this kind of efficiency from within. And I speak specifically of Iran and its allies, both regional and external. They cannot ignore the threats that emanate from conflict, any more than the west can ignore the jihadi genie that threatens from thousands of miles away. So this Post-Colonial Axis moves further into the region to protect itself, bringing with it lessons learned and laser-focused common goals.

The Neo-Colonials will hit a wall in Yemen, just as they have in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Their disparate objectives will ensure that. The main concern as we enter yet another storm in Yemen is whether a flailing Empire will turn ugly at the eleventh hour and launch a direct war against its actual adversary, the Post-Colonial Axis. The Saudis are a real wild card – as are the Israelis – and may try to light that fuse. When the threat is existential, anything goes.

Yes, a regional war is as much a possibility over Yemen as it was over Syria. But this battle lies on a direct border of Saudi Arabia – ground zero for both violent extremism and the most virulently sectarian and ethnocentric elements of the anti-Resistance crowd – and so promises to deliver yet another decisive geopolitical shift in the Mideast. From Yemen, as from any confrontation between the two global blocs, a new regional reality is likely to emerge: what the Americans might call “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

And Yemen may yet become the next Arab state to enter a Post-Colonial order.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine said on April 1 it declined Tbilisi’s request for extradition of Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who now serves as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s adviser.

Saakashvili is wanted by the Georgian authorities on multiple criminal charges, which he denies as politically motivated. Court in Tbilisi ordered Saakashvili’s pre-trial detention in absentia in August, 2014.

“As a result of review of [Georgia’s extradition request] Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has concluded there is a significant risk that extradition request for Saakashvili was made by the competent Georgian agency with the purpose of his prosecution for political motives,” Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement on April 1, adding that extradition of Saakashvili would be in conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights.

It also said that the Georgian chief prosecutor’s office has been notified about its decision to reject the extradition request.

A close ally of Saakashvili, former Georgian MP from UNM party, Davit Sakvarelidze was appointed as Deputy General Prosecutor of Ukraine on February 16, joining several other former Georgian officials who took senior government posts in Ukraine, among them Eka Zguladze, who is Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister; Gia Getsadze, who is Ukraine’s Deputy Justice Minister, and Alexander Kvitashvili, who is Ukraine’s Healthcare Minister.

On February 13 Saakashvili himself was appointed by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko as his adviser and head of International Advisory Council on Reforms.

Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office complained in February that despite its request, Ukraine had “not cooperated” with Georgia and refused to extradite Saakashvili.

Copyright Civil Georgia, 2015

Mumia Abu-Jamal: Execution by Medical Neglect?

April 3rd, 2015 by Dave Lindorff

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical Philadelphia journalist convicted of killing a white Philadelphia police officer in a trial fraught with prosecutorial misconduct, witness coaching and judicial prejudice back in 1981, spent nearly three decades in solitary confinement in the deliberately designed hell of Pennsylvania’s supermax SCI Green prison before a panel of federal Appeals Court judges eventually ruled that he’d been unconstitutionally sentenced to death.

He, of course, received no apology for the state’s making him illegally and improperly spend all those years in solitary waiting to be wrongfully executed. Instead, with that ruling (after a few years of legal stalling by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office), he was simply switched over to a sentence of life without possibility of parole and moved to the SCI-Mahoney prison in central Pennsylvania.

Now, it appears the state, which lost its chance to execute him, may be trying to kill him another way, as word comes that this world-renowned political prisoner had to be rushed to the hospital this week, unconscious from an undiagnosed case of severe diabetes.

Incredibly, despite his having already spent the past two weeks in the prison infirmary, where he was suffering from a severe case of eczema, painful itching all over his body, lethargy, and frequent urination — all well-known side effects signaling possible diabetes — he was never tested for sugar in his blood or urine (or if was tested, nothing was done about the results). He was only finally diagnosed with the disease after his blood glucose level had risen to 779 — a level far above the normal range of 70-120 — at which point, unconscious, he was rushed to the Schuylkill Health Medical Center’s ICU and put on an insulin drip.

Supporters of Abu-Jamal say that since January he had been ill, complaining of chronic fatigue, painful itching and erupting skin, which only grew worse when the hospital doctors prescribed a topical ointment.

For years, as a prisoner, Abu-Jamal has enraged the state’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, and law-and-order politicians of both parties, first by successfully battling his death sentence and his conviction, and second by using his journalistic skills to expose the horrors of the state’s, and the nation’s brutal prison system, which he has properly labeled a “prison-industrial complex.”  Now this high-profile prisoner is shining a bright spotlight on another ugly aspect of that network of organized horror houses: the medical neglect of the incarcerated.

Whether there was a deliberate attempt to “execute” Abu-Jamal slowly through neglect of his diabetes — a disease that can be brought on by poor diet and/or stress, among other things, and that can kill if left untreated — or whether it was just an example of the standard neglect and incompetence faced by all those locked up by the state, Abu-Jamal’s current crisis, and the way it is being handled by prison authorities, should make any person with a shred of humanity furious.

When Abu-Jamal was put in the infirmary initially, his family and his attorneys were not notified. Nor were they notified when he lost consciousness and was rushed out of the prison to a hospital ICU. According to Abu-Jamal’s family and legal team, they only learned about his situation because fellow inmates, concerned about what was happening to him, alerted them.

Legal team member Johanna Fernandez says she and others were up in the capital of Harrisburg at the time for a court hearing on a legislative bill that was passed specifically to silence Abu-Jamal, but ultimately all state prisoners to prevent them from publicizing what they considered their wrongful imprisonment. That’s where they got the word of his hospitalization.

At that point, she recounts, they had to use “detective work” to figure out where he was, since prison officials of the State Department of Corrections (sic) would not volunteer the information.

After they raced to the hospital, they managed to locate his room in the ICU, identifying it by the two prison guards at the door barring killingtimethem entry to his room (where there reportedly were two more guards, though he was chained to his bed.

Though Abu-Jamal’s wife Wadiya and his older brother Keith Cook were present a the hospital, they were denied permission to see him. The hospital management, reportedly, said it was deferring to the wishes of the DOC, while prison officials for their part claimed it was the hospital following federal Health Information Privacy rules (though these are normally not applied to immediate relatives — particularly a spouse).

I called the hospital myself to check on who was limiting access to the patient. A  spokesman would not even confirm that Abu-Jamal was in the facility. But then when I asked why his wife and brother were being denied access to him, I was told to contact the DOC. The DOC did the same when called, referring me to the hospital. The bottom line was that for a day and a night, while Abu-Jamal was being treated for a critical condition in the ICU, his wife and brother, just 20 feet away, were denied access to him — and denied information about his condition. Yesterday, they were finally granted brief access after a global campaign of calls flooded prison authorities. Abu-Jamal’s wife Wadiya was granted 30 minutes with her husband, who was at the time seated chained to a chair. She was able to give him ice cubes for his dry mouth. But a day later, on April 1, his relatives were again reportedly being being denied access, with the prison authorities saying they could only see him one time per week.

This kind of abusive treatment of family members of a seriously ill prisoner is gratuitous cruelty by a prison bureaucracy which thrives on a culture of punishment and oppression. Objectively, it makes no sense to punish the relatives of a convict. The only conceivable purpose of such tactics would be to further punish the inmate by making his loved ones suffer at his expense.

A cover article in the New York Times this past Sunday about the federal supermax prison in Colorado, Florence ADMAX, detailing a regime of inmate isolation and abuse, makes it clear that the purpose of prison in the US is punishment, pure and simple, with inmate torture and abuse — and inmate family torture and abuse — the logical outcome.

Abu-Jamal’s current health crisis clearly illustrates this national atrocity, faced at any given time by some 2.2 million men, women and children.

Pennsylvania’s new governor, Tom Wolf, to his credit, has ordered a moratorium on executions in the state, which has one of the largest death row populations in the country. But he needs to go further and look at the broader horror of the state’s massive and sadistic prison complex.

Contribute to Mumia’s medical fund at: bit.ly/rise4mumia

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press) and author of Killing Time: an Investigation Into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu Jamal.

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced all parties agreed on framework principles. 

Enough agreement to let further negotiations continue toward trying to reach final resolution by June 30.

Despite upbeat comments, much remains to be accomplished. Important details are unresolved.

Talks will continue with no guarantee of success. Congressional neocon lunatics, Israel and its US Lobby intend going all-out to prevent normalizing relations with Iran. More on this below.

Much of what was agreed on remains confidential. The devil is always in the details – perhaps enough to prevent final resolution ahead. What’s known calls for:

  • removing all Security Council imposed political, economic, financial, and nuclear-related sanctions as well as those imposed by America and EU nations;
  • P5+1 countries committed to refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions on Iran as long as agreement terms aren’t violated;
  • all Iranian nuclear facilities will remain operating; none will be shut down or suspended – including Natanz, Fordow, Isfahan and Arak;
  • uranium enrichment will continue inside Iranian territory;
  • industrial fuel production to run Iranian nuclear plants will continue;
  • a nuclear enrichment joint action plan covers a 10-year period; it permits over 5,000 centrifuge machines to keep producing enriched uranium up to a 3.67% level – a major reduction 19,000 existing ones;
  • Iran can either use its enriched stockpile to produce nuclear fuel or swap it for uranium in international markets;
  • R&D on advanced centrifuge machines will continue, as well as  work on IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 machines during the 10-year period of agreement;
  • Fordow will be transformed into a research center for nuclear science and physics; over 1,000 centrifuges will be kept at this facility, as well as two centrifuge cascades kept operating;
  • about half of Fordow’s operations will be involved in advanced R&D, as well as production of stable isotopes with important industrial, agricultural and medical science applications;
  • Arak’s heavy water reactor will be redesigned for increased efficiency and greatly reduced plutonium production;
  • terms of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Safeguards Agreement will be ratified by Iran’s parliament and implemented – granting IAEA inspectors greater monitoring authority;
  • Iran will have access to global markets through international trade, finance, energy, as well as obtaining and sharing technology;
  • negotiations will continue toward achieving a Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action by June 30 - to be adopted by Security Council resolution if and when completed;
  • terms if agreed on will be binding all UN member states;
  • they’ll be adopted under the UN Charter’s Chapter 7, Article 41, stating:

“The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures.”

“These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”

  • previous anti-Iranian Security Council resolutions will be rescinded;
  • if at any time Washington and/or EU nations claim Iran breached terms agreed to, “sanctions will snap back into place;”
  • besides implementing all terms agreed on, Iran must “address the IAEA’s concerns about possible (nonexistent) military dimensions” of its nuclear program.

The same scheme was used against Saddam Hussein. Bush officials demanded he prove a negative regarding nonexistent WMDs. Compliance was impossible. War followed.

Thursday’s framework agreement is a small step ahead of major remaining hurdles to be overcome to resolve longstanding issues over Iran’s nuclear program.

AIPAC signaled its action plan going forward. It intends intensive congressional lobbying, saying:

“Concerns that the new framework announced today by the P5+1 could result in a final agreement that will leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state and encourage a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”

“Iran’s long history of cheating on its international obligations and its leading role in sponsoring terrorism and violating human rights should disqualify it from possessing the infrastructure for a nuclear weapons program.”

Fact: No evidence whatever suggests Iran intends developing nuclear weapons.

Fact: Its government is a leading proponent of a nuclear weapons-free region.

Fact: Israel is the Middle East’s only nation known to have a menacing nuclear weapons arsenal.

Fact: Western nations hypocritically ignore its major threat to world peace.

Fact: No evidence suggests Iran violates international law or treaties it agrees to.

Fact: America and Israel are known major international scofflaws.

Fact: Claims about Iranian terrorism and human rights violations are Big Lies.

Fact: America and Israel are the world’s leading terror states and human rights violators.

Fact: Iran has as much right to develop its legitimate nuclear program as dozens of other nations not criticized by P5+1 countries, Israel or others.

AIPAC operates illegally. It’s an unregistered foreign agent representing Israel.

It works against the interests of all peace-loving people worldwide.

It wants Congress given final say over any eventual nuclear agreement reached with Iran.

It endorses S. 615: The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

Initial language later softened without changing its intent called for supporting Israel if it feels “compelled (to take) military action in legitimate self-defense against a nuclear threat from Iran.”

Current language calls for “revers(ing) (Iran’s) illicit nuclear infrastructure and permit(ting) on-site and short-notice inspections.”

Initial language stipulated “dismantl(ing)” Iran’s “illicit nuclear infrastructure” and maintaining “continuous, around-the-clock” monitoring.

Nonbinding “sense of Congress” stipulations include:

Reinstituting frozen sanctions if no deal is reached by July 6.

New sanctions on Iran’s energy sector without resolution by August 3.

Countries buying Iranian oil would have to reduce purchases by September 7 if no deal is reached.

Additional Iranian officials will be sanctioned without resolution by October 5.

Foreign banks doing business with Iran’s central bank or other Iranian financial institutions will be sanctioned if no deal by November 2.

Additional sanctions will be imposed on other “strategic sectors” of Iran’s economy if no resolution by December 7 - Including automotive, construction, engineering and mining ones.

Legislative language prevents Obama from waving sanctions until Congress has “30 days of continuous session” to review any agreement reached.

In January, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Democrat Robert Menendez lied at a hearing titled Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Status of Talks and the Role of Congress:”

Saying “Iranians are playing for time. (They’re) deceiv(ing) the international community and violat(ing) UN Security Council resolutions to arrive within weeks of achieving nuclear break-out capacity.”

No evidence supports these or similar accusations. Big Lies about Iran’s nuclear program substitute for hard truths.

On Thursday, Obama and Netanyahu discussed framework terms agreed on.

Unsurprisingly, the Israeli prime minister repeated his Big Lie about them posing a “grave danger to Israel, the region and the world.”

“This deal will legitimize the Iranian nuclear program, strengthen the Iranian economy and bolster the Iranian aggression and terror across the Middle East and beyond,” he ranted.

“Such a deal will not block Iran’s path to the bomb. To the contrary, it will pave it.”

Terms agree to will increase chances for regional nuclear proliferation and war, he added.

“The alternative is to…increase the pressure on Iran until a better agreement is reached.”

Netanyahu wants Iran denied the right to develop its peaceful nuclear program.

He wants current sanctions maintained. He wants tougher ones imposed. He wants a major rival eliminated. He wants unchallenged Israeli regional dominance.

Israel’s security and intelligence officials will meet over the weekend to discuss how they intend responding to Iranian nuclear agreement terms reached.

Expect all-out efforts to sabotage things going forward – including bogus claims about Iran violating terms agreed on.

Perhaps a major false flag wrongfully blamed on Iran. Possible military action if other alternatives fail.

Most important is longstanding US policy toward Iran. It bears repeating what other articles stressed.

Washington tolerates no independent governments. It wants regimes in charge it controls.

It wants all nations serving US interests. It wages naked aggression to accomplish objectives not achieved other ways.

Longstanding US/Iranian relations overall remain unchanged – no matter what happens ahead on Tehran’s nuclear program.

America’s sordid deal-making history shows it can’t be trusted. It says one thing. It does another.

Iran has every reason for concern. No matter how well it complies with nuclear terms agreed on, Washington and Israel will likely find ways to sabotage its good faith.

Expect anti-Iranian hostility to continue. Given longstanding US/Israeli belligerence, possible war may follow.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Dozens of unidentified foreign troops reported disembarking in the port of Aden turned out to be Chinese soldiers maintaining security as an unknown party opened fire on a vessel evacuating foreign citizens, a Yemeni official told Sputnik.

A Chinese military ship arrived in the port to evacuate Chinese citizens…a skirmish which occurred during the evacuation led to the disembarkation of Chinese soldiers stationed on the ship to protect civilians,” said Abd ar-Rabb al-Khalyaky, the deputy head of the port union council. After the evacuation, the soldiers returned to the vessel, he said adding that the situation has calmed down.

He said that Chinese soldiers have already left the port, though reportedly they did not manage to take with them all the people intended to evacuate, not all of the Chinese nationals.

An unnamed Yemeni official confirmed to Reuters that the people who disembarked from the Chinese ship were armed guards aiding civilians, not ground troops.

The city of Aden has turned into battlefield as violent street-to-street fighting between advancing Houthi rebels and pro-president troops making a stand.

The data from medics and military suggest that up to 44 people have been killed in street clashes, AFP reports.

Earlier member of the Houthi political council Daifullah Shami told Sputnik that the foreign troops in Aden disembarked from Saudi and Egyptian vessels.

“The number of troopers who landed in the Yemen port of Aden is unknown, but we are talking about dozens. They were covered by several airplanes. They disembarked from Saudi and Egyptian ships,” said a member of Ansar Allah movement, Ahmad Al-Shami.

Saudi Arabian forces, joined by nine other countries, launched a military operation in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels in March.

The Saudi-led coalition has declared Yemeni airspace a “restricted zone.”The allies also claim to control the maritime area adjoining the port of Aden, allegedly captured by the Houthis.

Ships in the region have also been urged not to approach Yemen’s ports due to the ongoing military operation.

Yemen’s ousted officials have requested a ground intervention to bolster the air offensive. On March 31, Saudi authorities said they had gathered troops along the border with Yemen in preparation for any possible ground offensive, according to Reuters, adding that no exact time to send the troops in has yet been stipulated.

Meanwhile, amember of the political council of the Ansar Allah group, the armed wing of the Houthi rebels, has declared as cited by RIA Novosti that in case the airstrikes of the Saudi-led coalition on the Yemeni territory continue, the Houthis will have to attack Saudi Arabia.

“We have the power for a retaliatory strike, but the decision will be made when other options are exhausted,” Daifullah Shami, a member of the Houthis’ Ansar Allah political council told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

If killing of innocent Yemenis continues, Houthis prefer death on the battlefield to dying in bombs strikes, Shami said, commenting on the possibility of an attack on Saudi Arabia.

Skirmishes on the Saudi-Yemeni border have already begun. One Saudi soldier has been killed and up to 10 have been wounded in shootouts, reports Al-Arabia. The firefights took place near a border check point, reports RIA Novosti.

People stand on a tank that was burnt during clashes on a street in Yemen's southern port city of Aden March 29, 2015. (Reuters/Stringer)People stand on a tank that was burnt during clashes on a street in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden March 29, 2015. (Reuters/Stringer)

Despite airstrikes delivered by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, the Houthis have been continuing their offensive against the loyalists of ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled to Riyadh.

The Houthis captured the central district of Aden on Thursday, Reuters reported, citing residents. This southern port city remained the last stronghold of forces loyal to Saudi-backed President Hadi. Heavy fighting in the city started early in the morning and the rebels have now allegedly deployed tanks and patrols in several parts of the city.

“The victories in Aden today embarrass this campaign and silenced the aggressor states,” Houthi spokesman Mohammad Abdulsalam told the group’s al-Maseera TV channel. The fighting in Aden means that Saudi Arabia’s military intervention has failed, the spokesman insisted late on Wednesday.

The rebels claim they now control up to 90 percent of Aden’s territory, reports RIA Novosti.

The Shiite Houthi rebels, believed to be backed by Iran, are not the only non-governmental force operating in Yemen. While rebels were busy capturing the port of Aden, Al-Qaeda militants have stormed the center of the coastal city of Al-Mukalla and captured the local prison, setting free about 300 inmates, many of whom are militants, AP reported.

The port of Al-Mukalla reportedly remains under control of the jihadists who have blocked all the roads leading to the city.

The situation in Yemen in general remains chaotic, with fighter jets of the coalition inflicting airstrikes throughout the areas under control of the Houthi rebels, including the capital, Sanaa.

Though the allied Air Force target mostly military facilities, weapon depots and infrastructure, the strikes befell on civilians too. Forty-five people were killed and another 65 injured in an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition at a refugee camp in Houthi-controlled northern Yemen on Monday, the International Organization for Migration (IMO) said.

Should We Obey Authority … No Matter What?

A number of Christian leaders say that Christians must obey the government … no matter what.   For example, Robert Deffinbaugh – pastor at Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas – says:

Whether the government be totalitarian or democratic, the Christian’s obligation to submit to it is the same.

Many ministers tell us we should act like slaves, blindly submitting to the government:

Some even allege that the U.S. government is coordinating with Christian ministers nationwide so that – if the government imposes martial – the ministers will urge their flocks to obey the government. See thisand this.

This is not an unrealistic or abstract concept. After all, most churches in Nazi-era Germany supported the Nazis.    The German clergy used the same rationale to support Hitler that many American churches are using today to demand obedience to authority … Romans 13:

The German Christians were strongly nationalistic, and adopted … respect for state authority. This passage in Romans 13 was often cited as proof of a correlation between the Church and State:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists the what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

German church leaders even criticized Christians for disobeying their “governing authorities” … by protecting Jewish refugees by hiding them in their homes.

And Hitler shows how tyrannical rulers view those who obey a demand for obedience … he ridiculedGerman Christians behind their backs for being so submissive in obeying the Nazis:

The Protestants haven’t the faintest conception of a church. You can do anything you like with them– they will submit. These pastors are used to cares and worries… they learnt them from their squires…. They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.

The Bible Urges Us to CHALLENGE – Not Obey – Bad Government

In reality, Christian (and Jewish) leaders throughout history have explained that we must disobeytyrannical governments.

The Book of Maccabees – an ancient Jewish book purporting to document the events which Chanukah celebrates - apparently says:

Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.

(Thomas Jefferson agreed.)

Gordan Runyan – pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church – points out numerous instances in the Bible of men and women who disobeyed their government rulers, and were rewarded by God and praised as holy.

Indeed, the Bible mentions “justice” more than almost any other topic. The Bible demands that we do justice and to stand up to ANYONE — including the rich or powerful — who do injustice or oppress the people.

Baptist minister Chuck Baldwin writes:

Did John the Baptist violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he publicly scolded King Herod for his infidelity? Did Simon Peter and the other Apostles violate God’s principle of submission to authority when they refused to stop preaching on the streets of Jerusalem? Did Paul violate God’s principle of submission to authority when he refused to obey those authorities who demanded that he abandon his missionary work? In fact, Paul spent almost as much time in jail as he did out of jail.

Remember that every apostle of Christ (except John) was killed by hostile civil authorities opposed to their endeavors. Christians throughout church history were imprisoned, tortured, or killed by civil authorities of all stripes for refusing to submit to their various laws and prohibitions. Did all of these Christian martyrs violate God’s principle of submission to authority?

So, even the great prophets, apostles, and writers of the Bible (including the writer of Romans Chapter 13) understood that human authority – even civil authority – is limited.

Plus, Paul makes it clear that our submission to civil authority must be predicated on more than fear of governmental retaliation. Notice, he said, “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” Meaning, our obedience to civil authority is more than just “because they said so.” It is also a matter of conscience. This means we must think and reason for ourselves regarding the justness and rightness of our government’s laws. Obedience is not automatic or robotic. It is a result of both rational deliberation and moral approbation.

***

Therefore, there are times when civil authority may need to be resisted. Either governmental abuse of power or the violation of conscience (or both) could precipitate civil disobedience.”

(Baldwin also notes that Romans 13 teaches that any government that is a “terror to good works” is acting beyond its authority and must be resisted. Therefore, Romans 13 compels us to resist and remove from power all elements of government which are corrupt.)

Reverend Howard Bess writes:

As modern New Testament scholars have reconstructed the context in which Jesus lived and taught, they have realized that Jesus was not simply a religious figure. He was a severe critic of those who controlled the temple, those who controlled the empire, and those who controlled the economic systems that starved and robbed the poor and left the orphan and the widow to fend for themselves. To Jesus, these issues were all tied together.

***

He advocated overthrow of a corrupt system. He believed the days of the oppressors were numbered. But he believed the overthrow could be accomplished by love, mercy and kindness.

Family Guardian Ministry notes:

The entire basis of the Reformation was that of disobedience to the “governing authorities” of Rome– the Pope and the Emperor, who both demanded submission to the Roman Catholic church as the religious and political establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth. When it was demanded of Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms to recant of his opposition to papal authority, his only response was as follows:

Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments… I am conquered by the Holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the word of God: I can not and will not recant any thing, since it is unsafe and dangerous to do any thing against the conscience. Here I stand. God help me! Amen.  [See Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church]

Luther’s courageous stand against tyranny literally set off the spark which would eventually ignite the Protestant Reformation. As stated by Church historian, Philip Schaff:

Luther’s testimony before the Diet is an event of world-historical importance and far-reaching effect. It opened an intellectual conflict which is still going on in the civilized world. He stood there as the fearless champion of the supremacy of the word of God over the traditions of men, and of the liberty of conscience over the tyranny of authority….

When tradition becomes a wall against freedom, when authority degenerates into tyranny, the very blessing is turned into a curse, and history is threatened with stagnation and death. At such rare junctures, Providence raises those pioneers of progress, who have the intellectual and moral courage to break through the restraints at the risk of their lives, and to open new paths for the onward march of history…. Conscience is the voice of God in man.

***

This principle of the primacy of the Scripture-bound conscience over human tradition, whether it be magisterial or ecclesiastical, resounds throughout the writings of the most prominent Protestant leaders whom God raised up to defend the faith after Luther. Not one of these great men interpreted Romans 13:1-7 in the way it is so often interpreted today, and that should be sufficient reason to at least reconsider what is so commonly taught from the modern pulpit on the subject of civil obedience and disobedience. Without succumbing to the error of traditionalism, we are nevertheless to look upon the views of godly men of times past with respect.

John Calvin, known even by many of his theological opponents as the “prince of exegetes,” advocated the same position with regards to civil disobedience previously set forth by Luther.

***

He concluded his exhortations to Christians to submit to the authorities who have been placed by God over them with the following qualifications:

But in that obedience which we hold to be due to the commands of rulers, we must always make the exception, nay, must be particularly careful that it is not incompatible with obedience to Him to whose will the wishes of all kings should be subject, to whose decrees their commands must yield, to whose majesty their sceptres must bow. And, indeed, how preposterous were it, in pleasing men, to incur the offense of Him for whose sake you obey men!

The Lord, therefore, is King of kings. When He opens His sacred mouth, He alone is to be heard, instead of all and above all. We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us not pay the least regard to it, nor be moved by all the dignity which they possess as magistrates– a dignity to which no injury is done when it is subordinated to the special and truly supreme power of God. [Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion.]

Calvin’s purpose for writing his commentary on Romans 13:1-7 was entirely different than that which prompted his discussion of civil government in the Institutes. Therefore, when we turn to the commentary, we find a somewhat different tenor of thought. While still maintaining that it is the duty of Christians to submit to the “governing authorities,” we more clearly see that it is the legitimate rule of the magistrate to which we are to submit ourselves:

The reason why we ought to be subject to magistrates is, because they are constituted by God’s ordination…. [T]yrannies and unjust exercise of power, as they are full of disorder, are not an ordained government; yet the right of government is ordained by God for the well being of mankind…. [T]hey are the means which he designedly appoints for the preservation of legitimate order….

…[Paul] speaks here of the true, and, as it were, of the native duty of the magistrate, from which however they who hold power often degenerate. [Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle to the Romans.]

To ensure that Calvin’s point was not missed, Henry Beveridge, the editor of the Scottish publication of the Commentaries wrote the following:

…[I]t is remarkable, that often in Scripture things are stated broadly and without any qualifying terms, and yet they have limits, as it is clear from other portions. This peculiarity is worthy of notice. Power is from God, the abuse of power is from what is evil in men. The Apostle [i.e. Paul in writing Romans] throughout refers only to power justly exercised. He does not enter into the subject of tyranny and oppression. And this is probably the reason why he does not set limits to the obedience required: he contemplated no other than the proper and legitimate use of power. [Henry Beveridge, in John Calvin, ibid., p. 478 (footnote).] ***

Even the Westminster Confession of Faith is agreed on this point:

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to His Word…. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also…. [Westminster Confession of Faith.] ***

When a civil magistrate becomes a tyrant and commands us to do that which the Bible forbids, either explicitly or by necessary implication, then we are not to either fear him or honor him.

Pope Francis recently criticized governments which allow financial corruption:

The scandalous concentration of global wealth is possible due to the connivance of public leaders with the powers that be. The corruption is itself a process of death … when life dies, there is corruption.There are few things more difficult than opening a breach in a corrupt heart: “So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich with God” (Luke 12:21). When the personal situation of the corrupt becomes complicated, he knows all the loopholes to escape as did the dishonest steward of the Gospel (cf. Lk 16.1 to 8).

***

The corrupt does not perceive his corruption. It’s a little like what happens with bad breath … it’s hard for those who have it to know, unless someone else tells them.

For this reason, the corrupt can hardly get out of their internal state by way of remorse of conscience. Corruption is a greater evil than sinMore than forgiven, this evil must be cured.

Corruption has become “natural” to the point of getting to statehood linked to personal and social custom, a common practice in commercial and financial transactionsin public procurement, in any negotiation involving State agents. It is the victory of appearances over reality …

***

There are now many international conventions and treaties on the matter … not so much geared to protect the citizens, who ultimately are the latest victims – particularly the most vulnerable – but how to protect the interests of operators of economic markets and financial companies.

Criticizing such governments is the opposite of obeying them simply because they are the authorities.

The influential Christian writer Francis A. Schaeffer said:

If we as Christians do not speak out as authoritarian governments grow from within or come from outside, eventually we or our children will be the enemy of society and the state. No truly authoritarian government can tolerate those who have real absolute by which to judge its arbitrary absolutes and who speak out and act upon that absolute.

Mark Lewis Taylor – the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary – said:

The power of Jesus is one that enables us to critique the nation and the empire. Unfortunately, that gospel is being sacrificed and squandered by Christians who have cozied up to power and wealth.

Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. castigated the modern-day church for being “so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.”

King noted:

There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators” … They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry explains:

What about the bad governments like the Nazis or the communist regimes where they killed millions?  If God is the one who sets up governments, are we supposed to obey those bad governments?

The answer is no.

***

If a government were to declare that we should kill all Asians or immigrants or people with Down’s syndrome, we should disobey.  Governments are run by people and often become corrupt.

Finally, Runyan notes that believing that Romans compels us to blindly obey authority is absurd … as it would mean that we have to obey the devil and to commit spiritual treason:

If we assert that God approves of all governing authority, regardless of how it came to be or what it does once it gets there, what we are really saying is that we think Might Makes Right.

***

This is not materially different from the old-world idea of the Divine Right of Kings. All lovers of liberty, and especially those who know their Bibles, should be repulsed by this idea.

As Willson decries concerning this ridiculous idea:

“No doctrine could be more agreeable than this to tyrants, and to all that panders to unholy power; for, if this be Paul’s meaning, there is no despot, no usurper, no bloody conqueror, but could plead the divine sanction and, more than this, the devil himself could lay the teachings of Paul under contribution to enforce his pre-eminently unholy authority.

***

There is nothing in this about serving tyrants, or offering them a passive non-resistance. To insert a wicked government into this Bible text not only overturns the text itself, but would end up committing spiritual treason, by giving aid and comfort to the enemies of God and His Christ. Surely no one having the Spirit of God within would receive an idea like that with anything other than revulsion.

Has Romans Been Mistranslated?

Runyan argues that Romans may have been mistranslated:

Every person is to submit to the “governing” authorities. The word translated “governing” there by the ESV is the Greek word huperecho. It means to excel, to be superior, or better than; to surpass. The King James at this place has “higher powers,” which makes room for the idea of being better than something else.

The reason this is of some interest is that huperecho appears four other times in the New Testament. Once is in 1 Peter 2:13in that letter’s passage about civil government. The majority of uses occur, however, in Philippians, where Paul uses it three times, at 2:3;3:8; and 4:7. These are quoted below. For ease of understanding, I’ve put the English words in ALL CAPS which are the renderings of huperecho.

Philippians 2:3 — “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others MORE SIGNIFICANT than yourselves.”

Philippians 3:8 — “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the SURPASSING worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

Philippians 4:7 — “And the peace of God, which SURPASSES all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

As you can see, the Greek word means that which is morally better or excellent or weighty.

In these places, modern English translations usually have some combination of “important,” “significant,” and “surpassing” to translate huperecho. The KJV has “better,” “excellency,” and “passeth” (as in going beyond or surpassing) in the Philippians texts.

All this is simply meant to show that huperecho may legitimately refer to moral excellence, and does in fact, in most of its New Testament appearances. The modern use of “surpassing” in the Philippians passages is a moral surpassing. It is being better, rising above, doing well.

***

So that, when Romans 13:1 enjoins subjection to the huperecho powers, it’s not out of the question that this could be referring to surpassing morality.

On this idea, Willson writes, “Hence, some expositors have been disposed to lay no little stress upon this epithet, as distinctly defining the character of the powers here intended, and as limiting to such the subjection here enjoined, the ‘excelling powers;’ that is, powers possessing a due measure of the qualifications requisite to the rightful exercise of the power of civil rule.” [p.11, The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government.]

Some have suggested that to put “governing” instead of “higher” or “excelling” for huperecho in this place is really more of an interpretation than a word-for-word translation.

Similarly, Family Guardian Ministry argues:

It should be noted that most modern translations, the New King James Version included, have erroneously rendered the Greek phrase “exousias huperechousias” (literally, “authorities above”) as “governing authorities,” rather than “higher powers,” as it appears in the older King James Version.

Whether or not the actual words were mistranslated, one thing is for sure … the spirit and meaning of Romans has been forgotten.

Despite attempts to portray the work of the “big three” as globally oriented, the rating agencies maintain a close link to the US financial institutions. The 2008 economic crisis sent their reputations reeling. Now the global market for making ratings needs to be de-monopolized and equipped with new, transparent tools for working with risk.

Currently, Fitch, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s enjoy almost complete legal immunity for their evaluations and are guaranteed high profits, regardless of the consequences. According to the French edition of Le Monde, between 2000 and 2007, Moody’s earnings quadrupled, thanks to CMBS, ABS, CDO, and other securities that had become the main source of the company’s financial gains, with a profitability margin of 52%. Unfortunately, accurate data on S&P and Fitch are not published, although it would be interesting to look at the accounting records of these organizations that insist on full transparency for everyone but themselves.

In any event, the US taxpayer makes up for any discrepancy between the rating and the reality – suffice it to recall the 2008 scandal over the ratings of “toxic” assets within the US banking system just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The way it works

Rating agencies act as a “filter” regulating the movement of investment capital from developed markets into developing ones. The mechanism is simple – any rating assigned by the “Big Three” that is used by the head of a major investment fund affects the default risk. Actual business practice is often ignored. For example, the retirement accounts of America’s senior citizens can be invested into crazy foreign financial schemes, as long as their ratings are properly pitched. The rating system is designed so that cash from banks and investment funds passes only into the “right” hands under favorable terms. This creates a type of political road map for investors, which has little to do with the real macroeconomic indicators.

But this does not stop the experts from the “Big Three.” “Imagine a large group of people arguing strenuously with each other,” David Levey, a former managing director of Moody’s, told Foreign Affairs. “It could sometimes get to that. These were very exciting meetings and often there were substantial disagreements. In every case, the ultimate decision was made by majority vote.” But were any of the people involved in these debates elected? And on what basis did they wield such influence?

In 2011, this question was answered by William Harrington, a former senior president at Moody’s (a voice in the wilderness, indeed). “This salient conflict of interest permeates all levels of employment, from entry-level analyst to the chairman and chief executive officer of Moody’s corporation,” Harrington said in a filing to the US financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The myth that the rating agencies are a “global” business.

With a single stroke of a pen, highly rated players are given a significant competitive advantage based on their proximity to the source of investment. To ensure political control over developing markets, the analyses of all three ratings agencies always include assessment criteria that affect the overall result. At Moody’s, for example, those criteria are called “institutional strength” or “susceptibility to event risk.”

At their own risk and peril, agency analysts evaluate the stability of the institutions of a sovereign player, on the basis of some kind of “global” paradigm of historical development. Not one of the agencies is entirely forthcoming about its methodology for assigning ratings. And this is hardly surprising – how else to explain high ratings to the press, given sovereign bankruptcies, in, for example, Iceland?

The idea of global development, as part of a neoliberal world order, arose only recently (in the late 1980s) and is, like many ideological concepts, a political tool. The agencies, however, use this idea in all their documents, all the while professing objectivity. To evaluate developing markets, regardless of the local conditions, the “universal” IMF criteria are used, such as the degree of privatization and liberalization of the national economy. The crises in Latin America offer clear evidence of what happens when a government is prompted by the “ratings racket” to sell off its liquid assets during a period of financial instability.

For example, in February 2015, the rating agency Moody’s downgraded the credit rating of the Brazilian oil and gas company Petrobras from Baa2 to Ba2, and as a result the company plunged from “investment grade” to “speculative.” The influential Brazilian edition of Jornal do Brasil calls that decision “absurd and premeditated robbery” and asks – what is more significant, the three million barrels per day produced by Petrobras or the opinion of a group of anonymous Moody’s analysts who upheld Greece’s high rating until the bitter end.

The “good” and “bad” guys

It has long been noted that if a more or less sovereign government comes to power in a country that has been exhausted by the neoliberal economic programmes, the “Big Three’s” ratings begin to drop as if by magic. The most remarkable story in recent times has been seen in France. In 2012 the French market, one of the most highly developed in the EU, found itself on the rating agencies’ “bad guys” list, due to its “incorrect” tax policy and the government’s refusal to relegate its local culture to the mercies of the anonymous forces of the financial market.

According to the journalist Édouard Tétreau, (Le Monde) in his article “The United States of Europe vs. the dream of Standard & Poor’s,” ratings are manipulated in order to “Balkanize” Europe. To counter this, he prescribes the creation of real banks in Europe that can “send the brokers on Wall Street and the City of London packing.” During the assaults on the EU’s credit, Antonio Tajani, a former vice president of the European Commission, told El País that the rating agencies “work for the dollar.” In short, when it comes to evaluating the real economic indicators, old Europe is doing its best to distance itself from the ratings.

Among Europe’s “good guys,” the rating agencies list only the minuscule economies of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, which in 2014 received upgraded investment ratings from S&P for their progress in tax reform.

In the US, the “Big Three” are evidence of the miracles of lobbying. On January 12, 2003, the state of Georgia passed strong anti-fraud laws drafted by consumer advocates. Four days later, Standard & Poor’s announced that if Georgia passed anti-fraud penalties for corrupt mortgage brokers and lenders, packaging including such debts could not be given AAA ratings. S&P’s move meant Georgia lenders would have no access to the securitization money machine. It is interesting that this situation arose five years before the time bomb known as the subprime crisis went off.

Is there an alternative?

The rating market is in dire need of de-monopolization. “We can’t have private companies, whose primary goal is maximizing profit, behaving like sovereign judges passing down opinions that are binding for disinterested third parties,” believes Thomas Straubhaar, the director of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics. The BRICS countries are solidly united with Europe in the search for alternatives to the “Big Three.”

New, transnational rating agencies, such as the Universal Credit Rating Group (UCRG), will be an important milestone in the rating market. UCRG was created in 2012 as a partnership between the Chinese rating agency Dagong, Russia’s RusRating, and United States’ Egan-Jones. The fundamental principle behind the formation of new transnational actors must be the requirement that they are unbiased and unaffiliated with any state or corporate entity.

Ian Blohm is the economist and international financial adviser of the Polish origin. He is currently based in Moscow and can be reached at i[email protected]

Between 29 and 45 people were reported killed by an apparent air attack at the al Mazraq camp – some were said to have been burned beyond recognition. Depressingly, the victims also included children.

Although the attack came shortly after Saudi Arabia had launched an aerial bombardment of Yemen, Yemen’s foreign minister, speaking from Riyadh, blamed artillery fired by the Houthi militia which stormed the country’s capital Sanaa late last year. A Saudi spokesman meanwhile said that rebels had been firing from a residential area in response to a question about the bombing.

Before answers could be found about what happened at al Mazraq, the violence quickly moved on elsewhere. Dozens of civilians were were reported killed by an attack on a dairy factory in Hodeida the following day. Again, the details are still unclear.

The potential for more such atrocities to be carried out with impunity is increasing as the Yemeni state collapses and regional powers pile in.

Saudi Arabia, convinced that the Houthis are backed by Iran, is leading an air campaign with a coalition of 10 Gulf neighbours and North African allies. Warships thought to belong to Egypt have reportedly shelled Yemen from the sea. US officials have pledged that drone strikes will continue. And al Qaeda is taking advantage of the chaos, springing hundreds of criminals from a prison in the east of the country.

It has never been more important, nor more challenging, to ensure proper mechanisms for the recording of casualties are in place.

The UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) is doing the best it can. It is collecting, aggregating and publishing reports of casualties from any sources it can find. Its situation reports are providing vital insights into the bloodshed.

But it remains extremely difficult to record casualties from armed conflict accurately, even for the UN, which actually has its own staff in Yemen.

As Erich Ogoso, public information officer for Ocha Yemen, told the Bureau: “The biggest challenge is verifying information coming out of Yemen.”

The challenges stem, in part, from the lack of independent on-the-ground reporting to corroborate the proliferation of videos and tweets.

Perhaps paradoxically in the digital age, the fog of war has never been denser.

These are also the challenges the Bureau has faced over the past four years in recording deaths from the US’s ongoing war on terror in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen itself.

We have tallied more than 400 US drone strikes in Pakistan since they began in 2004. And we have marked each reported drone, air and cruise missile strike in Somalia since 2007, and in Yemen since 2002.

The Bureau’s casualty data includes information gleaned from court documents and leaked government databases. But it is built on open source information harvested from thousands of media and NGO reports. Our work relies on the brave work of journalists and researchers risking their liberty and lives.

In conflict situations, it’s often simply not possible to get on-the-ground information. When US and Yemeni forces slowly forced al Qaeda out of its enclave in southern Yemen in 2012 for example, the ferocity of the fighting meant few details of specific drone attacks escaped the maelstrom.

And even when investigators have the opportunity to go back to the site of a strike after it has occurred, it can be difficult to pinpoint responsibility for it.

After a catastrophic air strike in the southern al Bayda governorate in September 2012, it took Human Rights Watch months of work to identify 12 civilians killed.

Blood money was paid in secret to the victims’ relatives and a US official anonymously admitted Washington was responsible. But he wouldn’t say if a drone or a jet carried out the strike – an important factor in determining who should be held to account. The airstrikes with fast jets in Yemen were under the control of the US military, whereas drone strikes hit Yemen at the behest of the CIA and the military command.

For all the frustrations, casualty recording is essential when confronted by official obfuscations or outright denials. Marking the deaths of people in conflict gives families and communities the chance to seek justice.

But gathering empirical evidence of deaths in conflict is also essential for scrutinising policy and challenging the government line when it deviates from the evidence.

When now CIA director John Brennan claimed in 2011 that the CIA had not killed a single civilian in Pakistan for almost a year, the Bureau’s credible record of casualties enabled us to investigate this claim and demonstrate it was untrue.

A common code of practice in the recording of casualties by civil society organisations has evolved since Iraq Body Count first started in 2003, and the Every Casualty’s International Practitioners network can offer practical help to organisations looking to do this work.

The UN’s efforts to record casualties as part of its overall reporting on Yemen are important and should be supported. But to produce an authoritative record, they need to be complemented with more information, and with cross-referencing and fact-checking.

One contribution has recently been launched by the Global Voices network, which uses Checkdesk, an open-source tool that enables journalists to sort, analyse and verify the torrents of material produced by traditional and citizen journalists.

Scores of people have been killed already in Yemen and it appears many more may perish before stability is returned. These lives need to be marked, and the manner of their deaths recorded. Only in this way, can those responsible be held to account.

The Bureau’s Naming the Dead project is supported by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Cold War 2.0

April 3rd, 2015 by William Blum

Tom Cotton, Senator from Arkansas

Cold War 2.0, part I

In last month’s Anti-Empire Report I brought you the latest adventure of US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki trying to defend the indefensible. She said then:

“As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means,” which prompted me to inform my readers: “If you know how to contact Ms. Psaki, tell her to have a look at my list of more than 50 governments the United States has attempted to overthrow since the end of the Second World War.”

On March 13 her regular attack on all things Russian included this exchange with Associated Press writer Matthew Lee:

Lee: On this issue, did you get any more about this request to the Vietnamese on Cam Ranh Bay and not allowing the Russians to – and not wanting them to allow – you not wanting them to refuel Russian planes there?

Psaki: Well, just to be clear – and maybe I wasn’t as clear yesterday, so let me try to do this again – it’s – our concern is about activities they might conduct in the region, and the question is: Why are they in the region? It’s not about specifically refueling or telling the Vietnamese not to allow them to refuel. [emphasis added]

Lee: So there hasn’t been a request to stop refueling them, or there has?

Psaki: It’s more about concerns. It’s not as much about Vietnam as much as it – as it is about concerns about what activities they would be in the region for.

Lee: Okay. Well, you – I mean, there are U.S. planes flying over there all the time.

Psaki: Sure, there are.

Lee: So you don’t want Russian planes flying there, but it’s okay for U.S. planes to fly there? I mean, I just – it gets to the point where you – the suggestion is that everything the Russians are doing all the time everywhere is somehow nefarious and designed to provoke. But you can’t – but you don’t seem to be able to understand or accept that American planes flying all over the place, including in that area, is annoying to the Chinese, for one, but also for the Russians. But the suggestion is always that the American flights are good and beneficial and don’t cause tension, and that other people’s flights do cause tension. So can you explain what the basis is for your concern that the Russian flights there in the Southeast Asia area are – raise tensions?

Psaki: There just aren’t more details I can go into.

Cold War 2.0, part II

On Saturday, the Obama administration released a series of satellite images that it said showed the Russian army had joined the rebels in a full-scale assault to surround troops in the area around the city. Russia has denied that it is a party to the conflict, and it was impossible to verify the three grainy black-and-white satellite images posted to Twitter by the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.
According to the United States, the images, commissioned from the private Digital Globe satellite company, showed artillery systems and multiple-rocket launchers Thursday in the area near Debaltseve.
“We are confident these are Russian military, not separatist, systems,” Pyatt tweeted. (Washington Post, February 15, 2015)

When the time comes to list the ways in which the United States gradually sunk into the quicksand, slowly metamorphosing into a Third-World state, Washington’s campaign of 2014-15 to convince the world that Russia had repeatedly invaded Ukraine will deserve to be near the top of the list. Numerous examples like the above can be given. If I were still the jingoistic nationalist I was raised to be I think I would feel somewhat embarrassed now by the blatant obviousness of it all.

For a short visual history of the decline and fall of the American Empire, see the video “Imperial Decay” by Class War Films (8:50 minutes).

During Cold War 1.0 the American media loved to poke fun at the Soviet media for failing to match the glorious standards of the Western press. One of the most common putdowns was about the two main Russian newspapers – Pravda (meaning “truth” in Russian) and Izvestia (meaning “news”). We were told, endlessly, that there was “no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia.”

As cynical as I’ve been for years about the American mainstream media’s treatment of ODE (Officially Designated Enemies), current news coverage of Russia exceeds my worst expectations. I’m astonished every day at the obvious disregard of any kind of objectivity or fairness concerning Russia. Perhaps the most important example of this bias is the failure to remind their audience that the US and NATO have surrounded Russia – with Washington’s coup in Ukraine as the latest example – and that Moscow, for some odd reason, feels threatened by this. (Look for the map online of NATO bases and Russia, with a caption like: “Why did you place your country in the middle of our bases?”)

Cold War 2.0, part III

Following the murder of Russian opposition leader, and former Deputy Prime Minister, Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on February 27, the West had a field day. Ranging from strong innuendo to outright accusation of murder, the Western media and politicians did not miss an opportunity to treat Vladimir Putin as a football practice dummy.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution urging an international investigation into Nemtsov’s death and suggested that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Council, and the United Nations could play a role in the probe.

US Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham introduced a Senate Resolution condemning the Nemtsov murder. The Resolution also called on President Obama and the international community to pursue an independent investigation into the murder and redouble efforts to advance free speech, human rights, and the rule of law in Russia. In addition, it urged Obama to continue to sanction human rights violators in the Russian Federation and to increase US support to human rights activists in Russia.

So it went … all over the West.

Meanwhile, in the same time period in Ukraine, outside of the pro-Russian area in the southeast, the following was reported:

  • January 29: Former Chairman of the local government of the Kharkov region, Alexey Kolesnik, hanged himself.
  • February 24: Stanislav Melnik, a member of the opposition party (Partia Regionov), shot himself.
  • February 25: The Mayor of Melitopol, Sergey Valter, hanged himself a few hours before his trial.
  • February 26: Alexander Bordiuga, deputy director of the Melitopol police, was found dead in his garage.
  • February 26: Alexander Peklushenko, former member of the Ukrainian parliament, and former mayor of Zaporizhi, was found shot to death.
  • February 28: Mikhail Chechetov, former member of parliament, member of the opposition party (Partia Regionov), “fell” from the window of his 17th floor apartment in Kiev.
  • March 14: The 32-year-old prosecutor in Odessa, Sergey Melnichuk, “fell” to his death from the 9th floor.

The Partia Regionov directly accused the Ukrainian government in the deaths of their party members and appealed to the West to react to these events. “We appeal to the European Union, PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe], and European and international human rights organizations to immediately react to the situation in Ukraine, and give a legal assessment of the criminal actions of the Ukrainian government, which cynically murders its political opponents.”

We cannot conclude from the above that the Ukrainian government was responsible for all, or even any, of these deaths. But neither can we conclude that the Russian government was responsible for the death of Boris Nemtsov, the American media and politicians notwithstanding. A search of the mammoth Nexus news database found no mention of any of the Ukrainian deceased except for the last one above, Sergey Melnichuk, but this clearly is not the same person. It thus appears that none of the deaths on the above list was ascribed to the Western-allied Ukrainian government.

Where are the demands for international investigations of any of the deaths? In the United States or in Europe? Where is Senator McCain?

Torture via sanctions

Discussions on constraining Iran’s nuclear program have been going on for well over a year between Iran and the P5+1 (the five nuclear powers of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany), led by the United States. Throughout this period a significant stumbling block to reaching an agreement has been the pronouncements of Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA is the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, and its inspections are considered a key safeguard against countries using civilian nuclear energy technology to produce weapons. Amano has consistently accused Iran of failing to reply fully and substantially to queries about “possible military dimensions” of present and past nuclear activities, or failing to provide sufficient access to nuclear facilities.

Failure by Iran to comply fully with IAEA demands undermine Tehran’s efforts to win the lifting of crippling UN, US and other sanctions, which currently prohibit foreign companies from doing business with Iran and deny access to the global financial system. Media coverage of the negotiations regularly emphasize Amano’s claims of Iran’s insufficient responses to IAEA’s demands. It is thus worth inquiring just who is this man Amano.

In 2009 Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano became the head of the IAEA. What the Western media routinely fail to remind its audience is that a US embassy cable of October 2009 (released by Wikileaks in 2010) said Amano “took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded the [American] ambassador on several occasions that … he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”

Even if Iran makes a superior effort to satisfy IAEA and Washington’s demands on all issues, it would remain questionable to what extent and how rapidly the sanctions would be removed, particularly under a Republican-controlled Congress. Iran specialist and author Gareth Porter recently wrote that “the United States and its allies have made no effort to hide the fact that they intend to maintain the ‘sanctions architecture’ in place for many years after the implementation of the agreement has begun. Last November, administration officials explained that US sanctions would only be removed after the International Atomic Energy Agency had verified that ‘Tehran is abiding by the terms of a deal over an extended period of time’ in order to ‘maintain leverage on Iran to honour the accord’.”

To appreciate the extraordinary degree of pressure and extortion the United States can impose upon another country we should consider the case of Libya in the decade-plus following the destruction of PanAm Flight 103 in 1988 over Scotland. To force Libya to “accept responsibility” for the crime, Washington imposed heavy sanctions on the Gaddafi regime, including a ban on international flights to Libya and payment of billions of dollars to the families of the victims. Libya eventually did “accept responsibility” for the crime, although it was innocent. As difficult as this may be to believe, it’s true. Read my account of it here.

Even after Libya accepted responsibility it still took years for the US to wipe out the sanctions, and it’s not clear that at the time of Gaddafi’s death in 2011 all of them had been removed. Once a nation becomes an Officially Designated Enemy of the empire the methods of torture can be exquisite and endless. Cuba is presently negotiating the end of US sanctions against Havana. They will need to be extremely careful.

“Like others of his ilk – such as David Horowitz and Christopher Hitchens – he learned too much in college and too little since.” Sam Smith

I’ve never been too impressed by what college a person went to, or even if they attended college at all. Gore Vidal did not attend any college; neither did H. L. Mencken; nor did Edward Snowden, who has demonstrated a highly articulate and educated mind. Among the many other notables who skipped a college education are George Bernard Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Then we have graduates from Ivy League colleges like George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Tom Cotton. I don’t have to present the case for Bush’s less-than educated mind; we’re all only too familiar with its beauty. But Obama has matched Georgie Boy for stupidity and inanity time and time again. My favorite, which he’s used on at least five occasions, is his reply to questions about why his administration has not prosecuted Bush, Cheney, et al for torture and other war crimes: “I prefer to look forward rather than backwards”. Picture a defendant before a judge asking to be found innocent on such grounds. It simply makes laws, law enforcement, crime, justice, and facts irrelevant. Picture Chelsea Manning and other whistle blowers using this argument. Picture the reaction to this by Barack Obama, who has become the leading persecutor of whistleblowers in American history.

Is there anyone left who still thinks that Barack Obama is some kind of improvement intellectually over George W. Bush? Probably two types still think so: (1) Those to whom color matters a lot; (2) Those who are very impressed by the ability to put together grammatically correct sentences.

And now we have Mr. Cotton, Senator from Arkansas and graduate of Harvard undergraduate and law schools. He’ll be entertaining us for years to come with gems like his remark on “Face the Nation” (March 15): “Moreover, we have to stand up to Iran’s attempts to drive for regional dominance. They already control Tehran and, increasingly, they control Damascus and Beirut and Baghdad. And now, Sana’a as well.”

Heavens, Iran controls Tehran! Who knew? Next thing we’ll hear is that Russia controls Moscow! Sarah Palin, move over. Our boy Cotton is ready for Saturday Night Live.

Notes

  1. Washington Post, February 15, 2015, “Amid doubts, truce in Ukraine appears to take hold
  2. RT, March 12, 2015, “EU lawmakers demand international investigation into Nemtsov’s death
  3. John McCain website, Press Release, “Senators John Mccain And Lindsey Graham Introduce Resolution Condemning Murder Of Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov
  4. Research for this section was done by a person who was raised in the Soviet Union and now lives in the United States.
  5. Middle East Eye, March 27, 2015, “Sanctions and the fate of the nuclear talks

The U.S.-spawned whirlwind of carnage and destruction has wrecked the societies of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, yet most Americans feel themselves blameless. “The people, the corporate media and the political system all accept that their government has the right to intervene in the affairs of other nations and that it is always right and moral in its claims.” They behave like zombified cogs in an imperial death machine.

American imperialism and the war of terror unleashed on that region are ultimately at fault and continue to destroy nation after nation.”

The United States used the Al Anad airbase in Yemen as the staging area for drone attacks which killed some 1,000 people since 2009. Those crimes were committed under the guise of fighting terrorism but now that same place is the location of karmic justice for the American government and its ally, Saudi Arabia. United States Special Forces fled from Al Anad before it was overrun by Ansar Allah rebels, also known as the Houthis.

It is true that Saudi Arabia bombed Houthi positions and threatens to start a ground invasion with the help of Egypt. Both of these countries are American client states and would not contemplate these actions without having a green light from Washington.

The story of Yemen and the shifting international alliances which have brought it to civil war are somewhat complicated. The Houthis ousted the American and Saudi backed president Hadi who is now on the run. His predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was at one time also a Saudi favorite but is now leading the Houthi advance. While the details can be confusing, one thing is simple. American imperialism and the war of terror unleashed on that region are ultimately at fault and continue to destroy nation after nation.

In its zeal to have and maintain hegemony the United States resorts to brute force and supports others who do likewise. The result is dead bodies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, but the decisions that lead to these crimes are endemic to American policies.

America fights with al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria but against those same two groups in Iraq.”

To say that Barack Obama and his Oval Office predecessors made a mess of the Middle East is the very definition of understatement. Because America’s goals are never benevolent its policies lurch from one awful decision to the next with human suffering being the only common denominator.

Washington used jihadists in Libya to overthrow the Gaddafi government only to have those same groups kill the American ambassador. Now the U.S. is fighting the same people it supported there just a few years ago. America fights with al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria but against those same two groups in Iraq. Washington eventually chose to accept the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt but now supports the restoration of a dictatorial regime with another leader. The United States calls the president of Sudan a war criminal but now fights on the same side in Yemen. When imperialism is the intention, events will never turn out as predicted.

The chaos makes sense only when the true nature of American foreign policy is acknowledged. The shifting alliances and seemingly strange bedfellows are part of the longstanding doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny asserts that the United States has the right to expand its reach anywhere it wants to. The term originally referred to the conquest of North America in the 19th century, but the thinking behind it is still a part of this country’s consciousness.

Most Americans know little or nothing about Yemen or Saudi Arabia, but still happily refer to themselves in the first person plural when speaking of their government. They ask, “What should ‘we’ do about Syria/Iraq/Yemen/Libya?”

Manifest Destiny asserts that the United States has the right to expand its reach anywhere it wants to.”

While presidents go in and out of office, the people, the corporate media and the political system all accept that their government has the right to intervene in the affairs of other nations and that it is always right and moral in its claims. The numbers of Americans who question whether Barack Obama ought to be in the business of ousting the president of Syria or supporting the president of Ukraine are quite slim.

The examples of foolish decisions are endless. President Reagan made deals with Iran but then instigated an Iraqi attack on Iran. Later the U.S. attacked Iraq in two different wars. The destruction of that country led to a brutal sectarian war, and to the rise of the Houthis in Yemen.

Yemen is now the epicenter of imperialism run amuck. The Saudis fear that the Shi’a Houthis will be supported by their rival Iran, which the United States now wants to come to terms with in nuclear energy negotiations. Saudi Arabia is therefore on the side of Israel in attempting to scuttle any agreement. There is still no honor among all the thieves.

Whatever policy decisions Washington chooses to make will result in unintended consequences and more violence. Every escalation brings greater danger and America still has no rival for bringing destruction to millions of people. Violence and chaos have become not just the means to certain ends, but ends in and of themselves. That is just how America rolls.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Al Shabaab, the Islamic terrorist group that has just laid siege to a Kenyan university, killing nearly 150 people, benefited from the 2011 Western aggression that backed al Qaeda and affiliated militias to destroy the state of Libya:

The Telegraph:

Libyan arms that went missing during the fighting to remove Col Muammar Gaddafi are now spreading even further afield…

The new report by a special UN security council committee suggests that they have now travelled even further, with Libyan ammunition showing up in the continuing war being waged by al-Shabab [pictured above], an al-Qaeda offshoot in Somalia.

Somalia borders Kenya, where Al Shabaab has just attacked a university.

Al Shabaab has “Wahhabi roots”; Wahhabism is the extremist version of Islam exported by missionary theocracy Saudi Arabia, which is itself currently carrying out US-coordinated terrorist attacks against people in Yemen.  “Al-Wahhab’s teachings are state-sponsored and are the official form of Sunni Islam in 21st century Saudi Arabia”.

In addition to support for Saudi Arabia dating to the 1930s, the US has on numerous occasions openly or indirectly supported al Qaeda and other Wahhabi terrorist groups.

The Western aggression that destroyed Libya also benefitted other al Qaeda and al Qaeda linked militias, such as Boko Haram:

  • Al Jazeera: “…heavy weapons such as SAM-7 anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles…were either surreptitiously obtained by posing as Gaddafi’s supporters or indirectly purchased from mercenaries who had acquired these arms from Libyan depositories. …these arms have been transferred to groups such as Ansar Dine, Boko Haram and MUJAO, emboldening and enabling them to mount more deadly and audacious attacks.
  • Human Rights First: “Unsecured Libyan stockpiles empower Boko Haram and destabilize African Sahel”
  • NBC News: “Apart from benefiting from sympathizers in the Nigerian military, the Islamic terror group is able to purchase small arms and occasionally some larger weaponry in nearby conflict zones, ‘probably Libya’ … The collapse of Libya has further flooded the market”
  • Reuters and United Nations: “The Libyan civil war may have given militant groups in Africa’s Sahel region like Boko Haram and al Qaeda access to large weapons caches, according to a U.N. report released on Thursday. … Boko Haram killed more than 500 people last year and more than 250 this year in Nigeria.”
  • Washington Post: “Boko Haram … militants, who traveled to northern Mali last year to join the fight there, have returned with heavy weapons from Libya, presumably from former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s arsenal.”

Robert Barsocchini, reporter and UK-based colleague on Twitter

Image: Op-eds in the Washington Post (left) and New York Times called for unprovoked military attacks on Iran.

After the New York Times printed John Bolton’s “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” (3/26/15; FAIR Blog, 3/26/15), following theWashington Post publishing Joshua Muravchik’s “War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option” (3/13/15), veteran investigative reporter Robert Parry made an excellent point (Consortium News, 3/28/15):

If two major newspapers in, say, Russia published major articles openly advocating the unprovoked bombing of a country, say, Israel, the US government and news media would be aflame with denunciations about “aggression,” “criminality,” “madness” and “behavior not fitting the 21st century.”

But when the newspapers are American – the New York Times and the Washington Post – and the target country is Iran, no one in the US government and media bats an eye. These inflammatory articles – these incitements to murder and violation of international law – are considered just normal discussion in the Land of Exceptionalism.

Advocating for war is not like advocating for most other policies because, as peace activist David Swanson points out, war is a crime. It was outlawed in 1928 by the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Britain, Germany, France, Japan and 55 other nations “condemn[ed] recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce[d] it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.”

Image: Defendants at Nuremberg were found guilty and hanged for carrying out the policies advocated by the Washington Postand New York Times op-ed pages.

Kellogg-Briand was the basis for the “crimes against peace” indictment at the Nuremberg Trials for Nazi leaders, several of whom were hanged for “planning, preparation, initiation, or waging a war of aggression.” At Nuremberg, chief US prosecutor Robert H. Jackson declared:

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

The spirit of Kellogg-Briand was embodied in the formation of the United Nations, whose charter commits its signers to renouncing war and the threat of war:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

So to advocate for war, as the Washington Post and New York Times op-ed pages have done, is to incite a crime–“the supreme international crime,” as Jackson noted. How would we react if leading papers were to run articles suggesting that genocide was the best solution to an international conflict–or that lynching is the answer to domestic problems? Calling for an unprovoked military attack against another nation is in the same category of argument.

Notes:

The Washington Post can be reached at  [email protected]   or viaTwitter @washingtonpost. The New York Times‘ email is :[email protected] and Twitter account is @nytimes. Remember that respectful communication is most effective.

A major bombshell has dropped concerning the failed cleanup efforts at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The shuttered plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), has apparently been hiding for an entire year the fact that radioactive waste has been quietly pouring into the ocean from an onsite drainage ditch.

Sputnik News reports that TEPCO, which is also managing remediation efforts at the site (with guidance from the Japanese government), concealed from the public the fact that highly contaminated radioactive water has been flowing from the drainage ditch directly into the ocean. Local fishermen and others have since expressed outrage over the news.

“I don’t understand why you (TEPCO) kept silent about the leakage even though you knew about it,” stated Masakazu Yabuki, chief of the Iwaki fisheries cooperative, according to Sputnik. “Fishery operators are absolutely shocked.”

The news comes as TEPCO continues to sustain criticism over the way it’s handled cleanup efforts since the 2011 tsunami and earthquake took their toll. In recent months, TEPCO has been exposed for attempting to cover up the fact that U.S. Navy sailors were exposed to harmful radiation, as well as concealing true levels of radioactive waste releases into the Pacific Ocean.

And this latest revelation only reiterates TEPCO’s tarnished legacy, proving that the company can’t be trusted with adequately addressing the looming problems that are still present at Fukushima more than four years since the disaster occurred.

“This was part of an ongoing investigation in which we discovered a water puddle with high levels of radiation on top of the Reactor No. 2 building,” contended a TEPCO spokesman as to why the company delayed reporting the leak, adding that “because this also happens to be one of the sources for this drainage system, we decided to report everything all at once.”

Promises that Fukushima radiation is “under control” broken; TEPCO still sponsoring 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

Since samples of ocean water collected from near the drainage pipe allegedly didn’t show any “substantial” radioactive spikes, TEPCO claims that it didn’t feel the need to report the leak, at least until now. This, as the company struggles to continue building radioactive waste storage tanks onsite at the plant to address the never-ending stream of waste pouring from the failed reactor buildings.

As you may recall from back in September 2013, when Tokyo was announced to be the site of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised the International Olympic Committee and the world that all radiation leaks at Fukushima were “under control.” TEPCO was also named to be the primary sponsor for the Olympic Games.

But this latest disclosure proves that this simply isn’t the case, regardless of whether or not this latest leak situation violates the regulations set forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (which TEPCO claims it doesn’t).

“The trust of the people in Fukushima is the most important thing” to us, explained a company spokesperson in an apology. “We’ve been working with that in mind, but unfortunately, we have damaged that trust this time.”

Meanwhile, a major investigation is currently underway to assess how Fukushima radiation, as it continues to make it’s way into soil, water and eventually into food, is affecting the safety of what people are eating both in Japan and abroad. More on this is available in a recent report published in Nature:
Nature.com.

Sources for this article include:

http://sputniknews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.zerohedge.com

http://www.gizmodo.com.au

http://www.nature.com

With the recent military operations on the part of the Arab League against the Yemeni Houthi rebels, much has been made of the operation in the mainstream media outlets. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of information provided regarding this act of military aggression is inaccurate, skewed, or an outright falsehood.

The Western mainstream press is reporting the Arab League operation in precisely the manner in which the State Department and related government agencies prefer for the operation to be reported – as if it were an attempt by the Arab League to put down a violent rebellion that threatens “stability” and “democracy” in the Middle East and to combat a proxy war that was initiated and controlled by Iran.

While a detailed discussion of the situation in Yemen is beyond the scope of this article, there are nevertheless a number of facts that must be addressed.

The Houthis Are Not Iranian Proxy Forces

While the general representation of Houthi forces in the Western mainstream press is that they are proxy forces created and controlled by Iran in order to fight against the Sunni nations and the US-allied Gulf State monarchies, the truth is that the Houthis are not Iranian proxies at all. The Houthis are an entirely indigenous force made up of Yemenis who have been fighting government oppression since the so-called Arab Spring found its way into Yemen.

There are, of course, ideological and religious similarities between the Houthis and the ruling governmental structure of Iran, both being Shiite and both opposing the US-Saudi alliance. Indeed, the Houthis and Iranians are brothers in arms in much the same way as Iran and Hezbollah maintain similar allegiances, though clearly not to the extent of the Hezbollah/Iranian relationship. Still, Iran has apparently provided some assistance to the Houthis in their battle against Western puppets and Western-backed al-Qaeda groups as well as financial and, presumably, intelligence assistance.

However, the provision of minimal assistance – while clearly geopolitically motivated – is not the same as maintaining a proxy force. To that end, there has been no evidence to show that Iran controls the Houthis and directs their fighters as a proxy army.

As Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com writes,

The Houthi movement has its origins in the 1993 parliamentary elections. Longtime dicator Ali Abdullah Saleh’s GPC party won a plurality, but in trying to ensure a weakened opposition Saleh negotiated a deal with Hussein al-Houthi, a powerful member of the opposition al-Haq Party. Houthi was to distance himself from Haq and back the GPC in return for support from the ruling party.

Houthi did as he was asked, and was stabbed in the back in the 1997 election, when Saleh’s office heavily campaigned against him, costing him his seat in parliament. Out of office, Hussein decided to travel abroad to complete his doctorate.

He returned in 2001, and quickly became an influential religious leader, aiming to unite the various independent clerics of Zaidi Shi’ism under a single banner. Successful in this, he began publicly condemning Saleh as a US puppet, while harshly condemning the US invasion of Iraq.

By 2004, the Yemeni military was moving against Houthi and his followers, and Hussein was killed on September 10, 2004, putting a temporary end to hostilities.

Hussein’s father, Badr al-Din Houthi started an uprising in 2005, and his brother Abdul Malik Houthi started an even bigger one in 2007. Their demands centered around equal treatment for their homeland, around Sadaa, which always got the short end of infrastructure investment.

By 2009 the region was in full-scale war, with Saleh vowing to defund public schools and all other basic social spending to pay for weapons to wipe the Houthis out.

Even the US State Department admits that Iran does not control the Houthis as a proxy force. Ambassador Stephen Seche wrote in a 2009 cable that was leaked by WikiLeaks that “Contrary to ROYG claims that Iran is arming the Houthis, most analysts report that the Houthis obtain their weapons from the Yemeni black market and even from the ROYG military itself.”

Hadi Was A Western Puppet, Saleh Was A Western Puppet

The leader that the Saudis, with the backing of the United States and NATO, have rushed in to protect was by no means a “democratically-elected” President. Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was placed into power by a deal brokered by the GCC after the previous President was overthrown. Hadi was “elected” but was the only candidate running for office, meaning that he was, for all intents and purposes, placed into power by the GCC. The previous President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to resign as a result of the Western-controlled Arab Spring color revolution in 2011.

Hadi himself was not only complicit with the geopolitical goals of the United States and Saudi Arabia but he was involved in the support of Western-backed groups like al-Qaeda and their activities inside Yemen.

It should also be noted that, while Saleh was deposed by protests directed by the West, Saleh was himself largely controlled from Washington, D.C. Saleh worked with the United States in their drone bombing program inside Yemen, as well as ceding territory to al-Qaeda terrorists. Saleh was notoriously oppressive in his rule and was rewarded for killings and torture of protesters by a lavish hotel room in the United States after he was removed from power to make room for the new boss who was the same as the old boss.

GCC Action Is Illegal, It Is An Invasion/Illegal War

No one should be capable of executing enough mental gymnastics to convince themselves that Saudi Arabia is in the slightest concerned with democracy or human rights. Indeed, the country itself has neither. Clearly, Saudi Arabia or the Arab League is not concerned with the will of the Yemeni people either.

The reason that Saudi Arabia has jumped at the opportunity to invade Yemen is not to defend against Iranian influence, but to prevent it.

While the Iranians do not have control over the Houthi movement today, a total seizure of power of the Yemeni government by the Houthis would no doubt produce that influence in the very near future, thus causing Saudi Arabia to be partially surrounded by the Iranian arc of influence, scant and geographically broken as it may be. This is precisely why the United States and Israel are behind the GCC and Arab League in this maneuver as well as to protect the US puppet leader that has been removed as figurehead of Yemen, a slight glitch in the power matrix that the West would very much like to remedy as soon as possible.

The truth is that the Arab League, GCC, Saudi Arabia and its US/NATO/Israeli backers are engaging in direct military action against Yemen now is because its ability to control the affairs of the state via political puppetry, bribery, and color revolutions has ceased to produce results. In other words, hard power is being employed because soft power has failed.

Hypocritical Action

The military action and the stance taken by NATO, the US, and the West in regards to Yemen versus Syria and Ukraine is yet another openly hypocritical position taken by these powers in an attempt to justify their geopolitical goals.

For instance, in Yemen, it is considered an offense worthy of a “coalition” invasion from the Arab League if the Houthis overthrow a president that was essentially placed in his position by a foreign power after that foreign power had coordinated the revolt that sent him packing in the first place. It is considered a violation of international law if the Houthis oust this “leader” and replace him with someone else.

In Syria, however, there is no barbaric atrocity or literal crime against humanity that is not justified in order to facilitate the destruction of the government of Bashar al-Assad. While Yemenis are condemned for overthrowing their corrupt and oppressive government, the legitimate, secular, and reforming leadership of Bashar al-Assad is considered illegitimate. The so-called “rebels” in Syria are considered the representation of democracy. The rebels in Yemen are considered a threat to international order.

In Ukraine also, the US instigated a color revolution that saw the ousting of a democratically (relatively speaking) elected President. In Ukraine, however, unlike Yemen, the individuals on the ground who overthrew that government engaged in a campaign of attempted extermination of select members of their countrymen and were hailed as heroes and worthy of support, even to the point of pushing the possibility of nuclear war with Russia by the United States.

Clearly, some “rebels” are more equal than others. The concept of “international law,” “democracy,” “human rights,” and “self-determination” are obviously one-way streets.

The representation of Iran’s involvement in the rebellion in the Western mainstream press is equally hypocritical. Remember, in both Ukraine and Syria, the United States has been not only the initiator of the destabilization but an open supporter of it. In Yemen, however, Iran is being painted as an international terrorist and destabilization artist. Although there is little evidence to point to Iran as being behind the Yemeni rebellion, its role has been painted as a meddler. The US, NATO, and the GCC, however, are painted as friends of democracy and human rights.

Is Syria Next?

The Arab League aggression in Yemen has now created a dangerous precedent for the crisis growing across the Middle East, particularly in Syria. With the Arab League, particularly Saudi Arabia, granting itself the authority to invade countries at will based on phony pretexts (in true American fashion), many are beginning to wonder whether or not the same type of action will soon take place in Syria. While the pretext is not likely to be the “rebels” that the Saudis, Qataris, Kuwaitis, Jordanians, and other feudal monarchies have been openly supporting since the beginning of the foreign-backed terrorist invasion, it may very well be based upon alleged claims of Assad’s “crimes against humanity,” “chlorine bombs,” “barrel bombs,” or other phantom atrocities.

With the Western public so out to lunch, a Saudi invasion of Syria based on human rights concerns will no doubt go unnoticed. After all, their own country’s invasion of foreign countries has gone unnoticed in the past, so there is no reason to think the American people will be awake at the wheel for a Saudi act of war and aggression.

With that in mind, it is unfortunately believable to wonder whether or not the Arab League may in fact use the presence of ISIS or al-Qaeda in Syria as a means to initiate a bombing campaign against the Syrian government since absolutely ridiculous narrative of Assad’s “cooperation with” or “indirect support” to ISIS has been floated with relative success amongst the general public.

Regardless, the actions of the Arab League in Yemen are a bad omen for Syria and Assad.

Conclusion

In the end, the Yemeni operation is nothing more than another move on the geopolitical grand chessboard by team NATO and its allies and associates in the GCC and the Arab League including Israel. The Anglo-American goal in Yemen is to restore the “order” that was disturbed when Western puppet Hadi was removed by the Houthi rebellion. It is also designed to prevent any entrenchment of Iranian influence in Yemen. Unfortunately, not only has Yemeni self-determination been attacked by the Arab League and the Anglo-Americans, but a dangerous precedent has been set for other potential battlefields across the Middle East, particularly for Syria.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

Image: Johns Hopkins and Rockefeller Center officials knowingly infected victims with syphilis and other STDs without their consent, a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges. (Photo: AP)

More than 750 plaintiffs are suing Johns Hopkins University over its alleged role in a series of medical experiments in Guatemala in 1940s and 50s, which involved knowingly infecting participants with sexually transmitted diseases without their consent.

The claim, which was filed in Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday and seeks $1 billion in damages for the 774 plaintiffs and their families, charges that Johns Hopkins Hospital System Corp. officials had “substantial influence” over federal spending on the experiments, with crucial roles on government panels that reviewed and approved funding for the tests.

Also named in the suit are the Rockefeller Foundation and pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Between 1945 and 1956, U.S. researchers infected Guatemalan subjects with syphilis, gonorrhea, and chancroid without their consent. Participants in the studies were primarily sex workers, soldiers, and prisoners. Orphans, mental patients, and children who attended state-run schools were also exposed to the disease.

Along with the infamous Tuskegee and Terra Haute prison experiments, the Guatemala tests were conducted to determine how to stop the spread of STDs, particularly among soldiers at war. The lawsuit is the latest effort to obtain reparations for the victims. A previous federal lawsuit was dismissed in 2012 on the grounds that the U.S. government cannot be held accountable for actions committed in other countries.

President Barack Obama in 2010 apologized for the country’s role in the experiments, which he called “clearly unethical.”

Johns Hopkins has described the experiments as “deplorable” and “unconscionable,” but maintains that it had no role in designing, funding, or conducting the research. The Rockefeller Center, which said the tests were “morally repugnant,” said the same.

Bristol Myers-Squibb did not comment on the lawsuit.

Despite those denials of wrongdoing, the lawsuit charges that the experiments were conducted with the “support, knowledge and approval of agents, servants and employees of Hopkins and the Rockefeller Foundation.” It notes that a Johns Hopkins doctor chaired a committee of the National Research Council focused on venereal diseases and that three other committee members with ties to Hopkins were on the panel when it reviewed a proposal for the Guatemala tests.

It also notes that a doctor employed by the Rockefeller Center who in 1947 was named “responsible investigator” for the experiments.

Paul Bekman, one of the attorneys on the case, told the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that the lawsuit is about more than just resolving the injustices for the victims. “This is about accountability and responsibility,” he said.

To the Associated Press, he added,

“The people involved were icons at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Rockefeller foundation They knew about it, they were architects of it, they planned it, they sought funding for it, they kept it under the radar. Hopkins provided syphilitic rabbits that were used to inject individuals with syphilis.”

Why Iran Distrusts the US in Nuke Talks

April 3rd, 2015 by Ray McGovern

Image: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took a stroll in downtown Geneva and along the Rhone River for almost 15-minutes on January 14, 2015 during an earlier stage of bilateral talks that continue this week in the Swiss town of Lausanne. (Photo: AP file)

The Iranians may be a bit paranoid but, as the saying goes, this does not mean some folks are not out to get them. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his knee-jerk followers in Washington clearly are out to get them – and they know it.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the surreal set of negotiations in Switzerland premised not on evidence, but rather on an assumption of Iran’s putative “ambition” to become a nuclear weapons state – like Israel, which maintains a secret and sophisticated nuclear weapons arsenal estimated at about 200 weapons. The supposed threat is that Iran might build one.

Israel and the U.S. know from their intelligence services that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program, but they are not about to let truth get in the way of their concerted effort to marginalize Iran. And so they fantasize before the world about an Iranian nuclear weapons program that must be stopped at all costs – including war.

Among the most surprising aspects of this is the fact that most U.S. allies are so willing to go along with the charade and Washington’s catch-all solution – sanctions – as some U.S. and Israeli hardliners open call for a sustained bombing campaign of Iranian nuclear sites that could inflict a massive loss of human life and result in an environmental catastrophe.

Iranian women attending a speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Iranian government photo)

On March 26, arch-neocon John Bolton, George W. Bush’s Ambassador to the United Nations, graced the pages of the New York Times with his most recent appeal for an attack on Iran. Bolton went a bit too far, though, in citing the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of November 2007, agreed to unanimously by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Perhaps he reasoned that, since the “mainstream media” rarely mentions that NIE, “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities,” he could get away with distorting its key findings, which were:

“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. … We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons. …

“Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran’s decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”

An equally important fact ignored by the mainstream media is that the key judgments of that NIE have been revalidated by the intelligence community every year since. But reality is hardly a problem for Bolton. As the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, Bolton made quite a name for himself by insisting that it was the proper function of a policy maker like him – not intelligence analysts – to interpret the evidence from intelligence.

An ‘Embarrassment’

So those of us familiar with Bolton’s checkered credibility were not shocked by his New York Times op-ed, entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Still less were we shocked to see him dismiss “the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate” as an “embarrassment.”

Actually, an embarrassment it was, but not in the way Bolton suggests. Highly embarrassing, rather, was the fact that Bolton was among those inclined to push President Bush hard to bomb Iran. Then, quite suddenly, an honest NIE appeared, exposing the reality that Iran’s nuclear weapons program had been stopped in 2003, giving the lie not only to neocon propaganda, but also to Bush’s assertion that Tehran’s leaders had admitted they were developing nuclear weapons (when they had actually asserted the opposite).

Bush lets it all hang out in his memoir, Decision Points. Most revealingly, he complains bitterly that the NIE “tied my hands on the military side” and called its findings “eye-popping.”

A disgruntled Bush writes, “The backlash was immediate. [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad hailed the NIE as a ‘great victory.’” Bush’s apparent “logic” here is to use the widespread disdain for Ahmadinejad to discredit the NIE through association, i.e. whatever Ahmadinejad praises must be false.

But can you blame Bush for his chagrin? Alas, the NIE had knocked out the props from under the anti-Iran propaganda machine, imported duty-free from Israel and tuned up by neoconservatives here at home.

In his memoir, Bush laments: “I don’t know why the NIE was written the way it was. … Whatever the explanation, the NIE had a big impact — and not a good one.”

Spelling out how the Estimate had tied his hands “on the military side,” Bush included this (apparently unedited) kicker:

“But after the NIE, how could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

It seems worth repeating that the key judgments of the 2007 NIE have been reaffirmed every year since. As for the supposedly urgent need to impose sanctions to prevent Iran from doing what we are fairly certain it is not doing – well, perhaps we could take some lessons from the White Queen, who bragged that in her youth she could believe “six impossible things before breakfast” and counseled Alice to practice the same skill.

Sanctions, Anyway, to the Rescue

Despite the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community, the United States and other countries have imposed unprecedented sanctions ostensibly to censure Iran for “illicit” nuclear activities while demanding the Iran prove the negative in addressing allegations, including “intelligence” provided via Israel and its surrogates, that prompt international community concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

And there’s the rub. Most informed observers share historian/journalist Gareth Porter’sconclusion that the main sticking point at this week’s negotiations in Lausanne is the issue of how and when sanctions on Iran will be lifted. And, specifically, whether they will be lifted as soon as Iran has taken “irreversible” actions to implement core parts of the agreement.

In Lausanne, the six-nation group (permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) reportedly want the legal system behind the sanctions left in place, even after the sanctions have been suspended, until the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officially concludes that Iran’s nuclear activities are exclusively peaceful – a process that could take many years.

Iran’s experience with an IAEA highly influenced by the U.S. and Israel has been, well, not the best – particularly since December 2009 under the tenure of Director-General Yukiya Amano, a Japanese diplomat whom State Department cables reveal to be in Washington’s pocket.

Classified cables released by Pvt. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning and WikiLeaks show that Amano credited his success in becoming director-general largely to U.S. government support – and promptly stuck his hand out for U.S. money.

Further, Amano left little doubt that he would side with the United States in the confrontation with Iran and that he would even meet secretly with Israeli officials regarding their purported evidence on Iran’s hypothetical nuclear weapons program, while staying mum about Israel’s actual nuclear weapons arsenal.

According to U.S. embassy cables from Vienna, Austria, the site of IAEA’s headquarters, American diplomats in 2009 were cheering the prospect that Amano would advance U.S. interests in ways that outgoing IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei never did.

In a July 9, 2009, cable, American chargé Geoffrey Pyatt – yes, the same diplomat who helped Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland choose “Yats” (Arseniy Yatsenyuk) to be the post-coup prime minister of Ukraine – said Amano was thankful for U.S. support for his election,” noting that “U.S. intervention with Argentina was particularly decisive.”

A grateful Amano told Pyatt that as IAEA director-general, he would take a different “approach on Iran from that of ElBaradei” and that he “saw his primary role as implementing” U.S.-driven sanctions and demands against Iran.

Pyatt also reported that Amano had consulted with Israeli Ambassador Israel Michaeli “immediately after his appointment” and that Michaeli “was fully confident of the priority Amano accords verification issues.” Pyatt added that Amano privately agreed to “consultations” with the head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission.

In other words, Amano has shown himself eager to bend in directions favored by the United States and Israel, especially regarding Iran’s nuclear program. His behavior contrasts with that of the more independent-minded ElBaradei, who resisted some of Bush’s key claims about Iraq’s supposed nuclear weapons program, and even openly denounced forged documents about “yellowcake uranium” as “not authentic.” [For more on Amano, see Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Debt to Bradley Manning.”]

It is a given that Iran misses ElBaradei; and it is equally clear that it knows precisely what to expect from Amano. If you were representing Iran at the negotiating table, would you want the IAEA to be the final word on whether or not the entire legal system authorizing sanctions should be left in place?

Torpedoing Better Deals in 2009 and 2010

Little has been written to help put some context around the current negotiation in Lausanne and show how very promising efforts in 2009 and 2010 were sabotaged – the first by Jundullah, a terrorist group in Iran, and the second by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If you wish to understand why Iran lacks the trust one might wish for in negotiations with the West, a short review may be helpful.

During President Barack Obama’s first year in office, the first meeting of senior level American and Iranian negotiators, then-Under Secretary of State William Burns and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, on Oct. 1, 2009, seemed to yield surprisingly favorable results.

Many Washington insiders were shocked when Jalili gave Tehran’s agreement in principle to send abroad 2,640 pounds (then as much as 75 percent of Iran’s total) of low-enriched uranium to be turned into fuel for a small reactor that does medical research.

Jalili approved the agreement “in principle,” at a meeting in Geneva of representatives of members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. Even the New York Times acknowledged that this, “if it happens, would represent a major accomplishment for the West, reducing Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon quickly, and buying more time for negotiations to bear fruit.”

The conventional wisdom in Western media is that Tehran backed away from the deal. That is true, but less than half the story – a tale that highlights how, in Israel’s (and the neocons’) set of priorities, regime change in Iran comes first. The uranium transfer had the initial support of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And a follow-up meeting was scheduled for Oct. 19, 2009, at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

The accord soon came under criticism, however, from Iran’s opposition groups, including the “Green Movement” led by defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, whohas had ties to the American neocons and to Israel since the Iran-Contra days of the 1980s when he was the prime minister who collaborated on secret arms deals.

At first blush, it seemed odd that it was Mousavi’s U.S.-favored political opposition that led the assault on the nuclear agreement, calling it an affront to Iran’s sovereignty and suggesting that Ahmadinejad wasn’t being tough enough.

Then, on Oct. 18, a terrorist group called Jundullah, acting on amazingly accurate intelligence, detonated a car bomb at a meeting of top Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders and tribal leaders in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan in southeastern Iran. A car full of Guards was also attacked.

A brigadier general who was deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards ground forces, the Revolutionary Guards brigadier commanding the border area of Sistan-Baluchistan, and three other brigade commanders were killed in the attack; dozens of other military officers and civilians were left dead or wounded.

Jundullah took credit for the bombings, which followed years of lethal attacks on Revolutionary Guards and Iranian policemen, including an attempted ambush of President Ahmadinejad’s motorcade in 2005.

Tehran claims Jundullah is supported by the U.S., Great Britain and Israel, and former CIA Middle East operations officer Robert Baer has fingered Jundullah as one of the “good terrorist” groups benefiting from American help.

I believe it no coincidence that the Oct. 18 attack – the bloodiest in Iran since the 1980-88 war with Iraq – came one day before nuclear talks were to resume at the IAEA in Vienna to follow up on the Oct. 1 breakthrough. The killings were sure to raise Iran’s suspicions about U.S. sincerity.

It’s a safe bet that after the Jundullah attack, the Revolutionary Guards went directly to their patron, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, arguing that the bombing and roadside attack proved that the West couldn’t be trusted. Khamenei issued a statement on Oct. 19 condemning the terrorists, whom he charged “are supported by certain arrogant powers’ spy agencies.”

The commander of the Guards’ ground forces, who lost his deputy in the attack, charged that the terrorists were “trained by America and Britain in some of the neighboring countries,” and the commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guards threatened retaliation.

The attack was front-page news in Iran, but not in the United States, where the mainstream media quickly consigned the incident to the memory hole. The American media also began treating Iran’s resulting anger over what it considered an act of terrorism and its heightened sensitivity to outsiders crossing its borders as efforts to intimidate “pro-democracy” groups supported by the West.

Despite the Jundullah attack and the criticism from the opposition groups, a lower-level Iranian technical delegation did go to Vienna for the meeting on Oct. 19, but Jalili stayed away. The Iranians questioned the trustworthiness of the Western powers and raised objections to some details, such as where the transfer should occur. The Iranians broached alternative proposals that seemed worth exploring, such as making the transfer of the uranium on Iranian territory or some other neutral location.

But the Obama administration, under mounting domestic pressure to be tougher with Iran, dismissed Iran’s counter-proposals out of hand, reportedly at the instigation of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and neocon regional emissary Dennis Ross.

If at First You Don’t Succeed

Watching all this, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw parallels between Washington’s eagerness for an escalating confrontation with Iran and the way the United States had marched the world, step by step, into the invasion of Iraq.

In spring 2010, hoping to head off another such catastrophe, the two leaders dusted off the Oct. 1 uranium transfer initiative and got Tehran to agree to similar terms on May 17, 2010. Both called for sending 2,640 pounds of Iran’s low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for nuclear rods that would have no applicability for a weapon. In May 2010, that meant roughly 50 percent of Iran’s low-enriched uranium would be sent to Turkey in exchange for higher-enriched uranium for medical use.

Yet, rather than embrace this Iranian concession as at least one significant step in the right direction, U.S. officials sought to scuttle it by pressing instead for more sanctions. The U.S. media did its part by insisting that the deal was just another Iranian trick that would leave Iran with enough uranium to theoretically create one nuclear bomb.

An editorial in the Washington Post on May 18, 2010, entitled “Bad Bargain,” concluded wistfully/wishfully: “It’s possible that Tehran will retreat even from the terms it offered Brazil and Turkey — in which case those countries should be obliged to support U.N. sanctions.”

On May 19, a New York Times’ editorial rhetorically patted the leaders of Brazil and Turkey on the head as if they were rubes lost in the big-city world of hardheaded diplomacy. The Times wrote:

“Brazil and Turkey … are eager to play larger international roles. And they are eager to avoid a conflict with Iran. We respect those desires. But like pretty much everyone else, they got played by Tehran.”

The disdain for this latest Iranian concession was shared by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was busy polishing her reputation for “toughness” by doing all she could to undermine the Brazil-Turkey initiative. She pressed instead for harsh sanctions.

“We have reached agreement on a strong draft [sanctions resolution] with the cooperation of both Russia and China,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 18, making clear that she viewed the timing of the sanctions as a riposte to the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement.

“This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” she declared. Her spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, was left with the challenging task of explaining the obvious implication that Washington was using the new sanctions to scuttle the plan for transferring half of Iran’s enriched uranium out of the country.

Obama Overruled?

Secretary Clinton got her UN resolution and put the kibosh on the arrangement that Brazil and Turkey had worked out with Iran. The Obama administration celebrated its victory in getting the UN Security Council on June 9, 2010, to approve a fourth round of economic sanctions against Iran. Obama also signed on to even more draconian penalties sailing through Congress.

It turned out, though, that Obama had earlier encouraged both Brazil and Turkey to work out a deal to get Iran to transfer about half its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for more highly enriched uranium that could only be used for peaceful medical purposes. But wait. Isn’t that precisely what the Brazilians and Turks succeeded in doing?

Da Silva and Erdogan, understandably, were nonplussed, and da Silva actually released a copy of an earlier letter of encouragement from Obama.

No matter. The tripartite agreement was denounced by Secretary Clinton and ridiculed by the U.S. mainstream media. And that was kibosh enough. Even after Brazil released Obama’s supportive letter, the President would not publicly defend the position he had taken earlier.

So, once again. Assume you’re in the position of an Iranian negotiator. Trust, but verify, was Ronald Reagan’s approach. We are likely to find out soon whether there exists the level of trust necessary to start dealing successfully with the issue of most concern to Iran – lifting the sanctions.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

El Estado Islámico y la leyenda de Gilgamesh

April 3rd, 2015 by Ahmed Bensaada

“Voy a presentar al mundo a aquél que lo ha visto todo, Que conoció toda la tierra, penetró en todas las cosas y exploró en todas partes todo lo que está oculto”
(La epopeya de Gilgamesh)

gilgamesh

 

Según la leyenda, Gilgamesh era un rey terrible, sanguinario y cruel. Movido por el deseo de hacerse conocer en el mundo entero, era despiadado con sus adversarios. Este sádico soberano no era más que un vil tirano que se complacía en oprimir a su pueblo hasta el punto de abusar de toda recién casada en su noche de bodas. Queriendo igualarse a los dioses, persiguió largo tiempo su búsqueda de la inmortalidad, pero en vano…

Esta historia “tan cierta como que el cielo está poblado de pájaros y el mar de peces” (1) se ha transmitido a lo largo de todas las épocas sin cosechar una sola arruga. La obra literaria conocida más antigua fue grabada en caracteres cuneiformes sobre una docena de tablas de arcilla.

 

Esta joya de la literatura asiria y humana que según los especialistas dataría del siglo XVIII A.C. fue descubierta en 1853 entre una colección de unas 25 mil tablas de arcilla que conformaban la biblioteca del rey Asurbanipal (siglo VII A.C.). El descubrimiento se realizó durante las excavaciones dirigidas por Hormuzd Rassam, el más célebre de los arqueólogos iraquíes, en el lugar que ocupaba la antigua Nínive, en las afueras de la actual Mosul. Fue, por otra parte, donde nació, en esta ciudad del norte de Irak, Rassam, de padre iraquí (nacido en Mosul) y de madre siria (natural de Alepo) en el seno de una familia cristiana. Con esta ascendencia Rassam habría podido ser un perfecto ciudadano de Daesh (acrónimo de “Dawla Islamiya fil Iraq wa Cham”) o Estado Islámico de Irak y el Levante, que se correspondería con la histórica “Gran Siria”. Sin embargo, aunque los verdugos de Daesh le hubieran perdonado la vida, habría sido juzgado por doble herejía: por su confesión cristiana y, sobre todo, por su pasión por la diosa asiria Ishtar.

Hormuzd Rassam (1826/1910)

 

La diversas excavaciones realizadas por Hormuzd Rassam permitieron descubrir otros muchos tesoros del genio humano, entre otros el célebre “Cilindro de Ciro” (539 A.C.), considerado la “primera carta sobre los derechos humanos”. En 1971 este documento grabado en un cilindro de arcilla fue traducido por la ONU en cada una de sus cinco lenguas oficiales. (2)

 

      El cilindro de Ciro (Museo Británico)

Rassam fue iniciado en Asiriología por el ilustre arqueólogo inglés Austen Henry Layard cuyas importantes investigaciones en Nínive fueron registradas en “Las ruinas de Nínive” (Nineveh and its Remains, 1849) un verdadero superventas de su época. Es de destacar que este gran “cuneinólogo” hizo resurgir de la noche de los tiempos a Nimrud (la antigua Kalhu), ciudad situada a unos 30 km de Mosul. Además de inestimables tesoros arqueológicos, Layar descubrió la lente óptica más antigua nunca antes fabricada por la mano del hombre. Esa lente data de hace unos 3mil años. Fue analizada por el eminente físico escocés David Brewster de cuyo minucioso análisis surgió una detallada descripción y la conclusión de que aquel objeto debía ser considerado “como destinado a ser usado como una lente destinada tanto a incrementar a para concentrar los rayos solares (…)” (3).

Austen Henry Layard

La lente de Nimrud (Museo Británico)

 

¿Qué podemos pensar entonces de los actos bárbaros y “culturicidas” de Daesh y sus matones? ¿Se puede imaginar la construcción de un “Estado” sobre los escombros de los vestigios arqueológicos de su propio pueblo? ¿O cortando cabezas humanas y destruyendo las de piedra? Quienes quieren hacer desaparecer la cultura siria ¿no se están comportando peor que el sanguinario Gilgamesh? La demolición mediante buldóceres del Nimrud o la masacre de las esculturas del museo de Mosul es más que un signo de incultura: es la manifestación de una actitud retrógrada del ser humano y de su extraordinaria creatividad. Es necesario decirlo: a la inversa de la construcción, la demolición no es más que la exclusividad de los depredadores, de los débiles y de los insignificantes.

[Ver vídeo: Destrucción de las estatuas del museo de Mosul (febrero 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cH5QP4wcFHA]

Esta locura destructora que desafía el buen sentido resulta mucho más chocante por el hecho de llevarse a cabo en el corazón de la creciente medialuna de las tierras fértiles, cuna de la civilización humana. Muy cerca de esta ciudad de Mosul de donde importaba Europa los ricos tejidos de seda y oro que Marco Polo llamó “muselina” (originaria de Mosul) (4), Mosul, donde nació el enorme Ziryab (789-857), uno de los creadores de la música árabe-andaluza que maravilló al joven califa abásida Harum al Raschid. Hacia 822, bajo el reinado de su hijo el califa Al-Mamún (786-833) Ziryab se trasladó a Córdoba (Andalucía) donde fue recibido con honores por el emir Abderramán II (792-852). Creó el primer conservatorio de música de Europa, revolucionó el canto tanto como la música y la moda, el refinamiento y los buenos modales contribuyendo de manera indiscutible al auge sin precedentes de la civilización árabe-musulmana en el mundo (5).

¿De dónde ha salido esa gente instalada en Mosul y que ha proferido la ofensa de dinamitar la mezquita del profeta Younes (AS) en donde se encuentra la tumba de ese profeta conocido por todos los seguidores del Libro (6)?

[Ver vídeo: Daesh hace explotar la tumba del profeta Jonás en Mosul (24/07/14) https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NDW8bnbtl-g]

Muchos observadores vinculan acertadamente esta destrucción a la de los Budas de Bamiyan llevada a cabo por los talibán afganos en el 2001 o la de los mausoleos musulmanes arrasados en 2012 en Tumbuctú (Mali) por el movimiento yihadista de Ansar Eddine (7).

Y pudieron haber sucedido cosas peores. En 2012 bajo el gobierno del presidente Morsi, perteneciente a la cofradía Hermanos Musulmanes, Morjan Salen Al-Johary un líder islámico egipcio había solicitado “la destrucción de la Esfinge y de las pirámides de Giza” (8).

[Entrevista (en árabe) con Morjan Salem Al-Johary (noviembre 2012). https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sGSazXtSTCU]

Se plantean algunas preguntas: ¿por qué se encuentran aún en pie los vestigios arqueológicos faraónicos pese a que Egipto fue ya islamizado en el siglo VII? ¿Cómo es que todos los dirigentes musulmanes que gobernaron Egipto, comenzando por el primero Amr Ibn Al-As, preservaron este inestimable patrimonio de la humanidad?

Para Al-Johary (y probablemente para todos los yihadistas) la respuesta es simple: en esa época tales vestigios estaban prácticamente cubiertos de arena, aunque solo fuera parcialmente y tampoco existían medios eficaces para su destrucción (sic!).

Algo absolutamente falso en la medida de que algunos de esos vestigios, sobre todo los más imponentes, aunque semicubiertos de arena estuvieron siempre aunque parcialmente visibles. Por otra parte, las primeras excavaciones alrededor de las pirámides se han atribuido al califa Al-Mamoun, en las que los obreros lograron en el 820 la primera abertura de la gran pirámide de Keops que aún hoy se sigue utilizando. (9)

 La entrada “Al-Mamoun” de la pirámide de Keops (Giza, Egipto)

Agreguemos también que el historiador, médico y filósofo árabe Abd Al.Latif Al-Baghdadi (1162 -1231) hizo una detallada descripción de los vestigios faraónicos. En su obra “Relatos de Egipto” considerada como una de las primeras obras sobre egiptología, describió muchos detalles sobre la cabeza de la Esfinge, cuyo cuerpo estaba casi oculto por la arena en la época (10).

Okasha El Daly, profesor de arqueología de la Universidad Colegio de Londres, refiere con relación a Abd Al-Latif que era muy consciente del valor de los antiguos monumentos para estudiar el pasado y que expresó además su admiración por los dirigentes musulmanes que protegieron los artefactos y los monumentos preislámicos (11).

Por su parte el historiador egipcio Ahmed Al-Makrizi (1364-1442) explica que la mutilación actualmente visible del rostro de la esfinge se debe a un fanático sufí llamado Mohammed Saim Al-Dahr. Dicho incidente fue fechado por Al-Makrizi alrededor de 780 de la hégira, es decir, entre el 30 de abril de 1378 y el 18 de abril de 1379 (12). Según un relato del historiador e islamólogo alemán Ulrich Haarmann, Al-Dahr fue linchado por los habitantes de los alrededores, indignados por su sórdida actitud, y lo enterraron de inmediato cerca del monumento que había saqueado (13).

Esta historia confirma que no solamente era posible destruir los vestigios arqueológicos sino que era evidente que la población local no permitía que se destruyera impunemente ese patrimonio histórico.

Además de Abd Al-Latif y Al- Makrizi, también se interesaron otros historiadores árabes por los tesoros de la arqueología egipcia y han hecho detalladas descripciones sin dejar de maravillarse. Citemos por ejemplo a Al-Idrissi (muerto en 1251) que estudió las pirámides en forma sistemática y describió minuciosamente el interior de la gran pirámide cuatro siglos antes de que el astrónomo inglés John Greaves (1602 -1652) la presentara a Occidente en 1646 a través de su libro “Pirámidographia” (14).

Y para contradecir a los iluminados de Daesh, los dinamitadores talibán, los demoledores de Ansar Eddine, los yihadistas de la gentuza de Al-Johary, Al-Idrisi mencionó que los Sahabas (compañeros del profeta Mahoma –SAWS) no solamente no atacaron los históricos monumentos faraónicos sino que les gustaba reposar a su sombra (15).

Hay que reconocer también que la sombra de las pirámides no ha corrompido a lo largo de los siglos el islamismo de Egipto, todo contrario: a lo largo del Nilo existen actualmente miles de mezquitas y especialmente la más prestigiosa institución académica dedicada a las ciencias islámicas del mundo, la Universidad Al-Azhar del Cairo (fundada en el siglo X).

Entre las numerosas y eminentes personalidades formadas por esta venerable institución es interesante citar al “decano de la literatura árabe” Taha Hussein. Ciego desde muy joven, es considerado el más importantes de los intelectuales árabes del siglo XX. Luego de haber sido separado de su cargo de decano de la facultad de letras de la Universidad del Cairo, fue reincorporado triunfalmente por los estudiantes nacionalistas. Quienes se oponían a su regreso, los estudiantes islámicos, propagaron un eslogan belicoso llamándole “el decano ciego”. Él les respondió: “Agradezco a Alá el haberme hecho nacer ciego para no poder ver vuestros horribles rostros” (16).

En febrero de 2013 el memorial de Taha Hussein fue destruido en la ciudad de Al-Minya y su busto arrancado de su zócalo. El hecho se atribuyó naturalmente a los islámicos egipcios ya que nunca estuvo para ellos en olor de santidad, aún en nuestros días (17)

 El memorial de Taha Hussein en Al-Minya (Egipto)

 

Luego de haberse medido con todas las fuerzas de la naturaleza, Gilgamesh se rindió ante la evidencia de su ineluctable mortalidad. Él, que se creía igual a los dioses, comprendió que para lograr la gloria eterna era necesario realizar grandes obras humanas. De modo que a fuerza de buscar la inmortalidad, Gilgamesh encontró finalmente la sabiduría.

Está claro que jamás se erigirá un memorial en recuerdo de los cortadores de cabezas y de los sepultureros de la Historia como Daesh y sus seguidores porque contrariamente a Gilgamesh al finalizar su periplo se han pertrechado en los recovecos de la humanidad muy lejos de la sabiduría, la verdad y la sensatez.

Con lo único que contribuirá será al reemplazo de la palabra “vandalismo” por la de “daeshismo”. Vale la pena decir que el “daeshismo” no apareció ni se desarrolló como un tumor maligno de velocísimo crecimiento sin el apoyo, la ayuda y la connivencia de algunos países occidentales y árabes, como también la de ciertos vecinos de Siria e Irak.

Pero esa es otra historia.

Ahmed Bensaada

ahmedbensaada.com

Artigo em francés:

gilgamesh

Daech et la légende de Gilgamesh

 Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Susana Merino

Notas: 

1. Jean Massin, «Don Juan», Éditions Complexe, Bruselas (1993), p. 85.

2. Jacques Poulain, Hans-Jörg Sandkühler, Fathi Triki, «Justice, droit et justification: perspectives transculturelles», Éditions Peter Lang (2010), p. 146.

3. Sir Austen Henry Layard, «Discoveries Among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon», Édition Harper & brothers (1871), p. 167.

4. Philippe Menard, «Marco Polo, Le Devisement du Monde», Tomo 1, Librairie Droz (2001), p. 197.

5. FSTC Limited, «Ziryab, the Musician, Astronomer, Fashion Designer and Gastronome», Muslim Heritage, http://www.muslimheritage.com/article/ziryab-musician-astronomer-fashion-designer-and-gastronome

6. Nasma Réda, «Le patrimoine irakien crie au secours», Al-Ahram Hebdo, 13 août 2014, http://hebdo.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1037/32/97/6601/Le-patrimoine-iraqien-crie-au-secours.aspx

7. Le Monde, «Mali: les islamistes rasent trois mausolées près de Tombouctou», 18 de octubre de 2012, http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2012/10/18/mali-nouvelle-destruction-de-mausolees-par-les-islamistes-a-tombouctou_1777726_3212.html

8. Cavan Sieczkowski, «Murgan Salem al-Gohary, Egyptian Jihadist, Wants Pyramids And Sphinx Destroyed», The Huffington Post, 13 de noviembre de 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/pyramids-sphinx-destruction-murgan-salem-al-gohary-egyptian-jihadist_n_2121446.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

9. Giza Pyramid, «A Picture Tour of the Great Pyramid of Giza», http://www.gizapyramid.com/newtour2.htm

10. Abd Al-Latif Al-Baghdadi, «Relation de l’Égypte», traducción al francés, Imprimerie impériale, París (1810), pp. 179-180.

11. Okasha El Daly, «Egyptology: The Missing Millennium: Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings», Éditions Routledge (2004), p. 10.

12. Al-Makrizi, « Description topographique et historique de l’Égypte», traducción al francés, Éditions Ernest Leroux, París (1895), pp. 352-353.

13. Ulrich Haarmann, «Regional Sentiment in Medieval Islamic Egypt», The University of London’s Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (BSOAS), vol.43 (1980) p.55-66, http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=4120372

14. Peter J. Ucko et T. C. Champion, «The Wisdom of Egypt: Changing Visions Through the Ages», Éditions Cavendish, Londres (2003), pp. 44-45.

15. Caleb Heart Iyer Elfenbein, «Differentiating Islam: Colonialism, Sayyid Qutb, and Religious Transformation in Modern Egypt», Éditions ProQuest, Ann Harbor (2008), p.126

16. Djaber Asfour, «Un feuilleton qui mérite le respect (2)», Al-Ahram, 19 septembre 2011, http://digital.ahram.org.eg/articles.aspx?Serial=639076&eid=444

17. Nevine El-Aref, «Is nothing sacred now?», Al-Ahram Weekly, 21 février 2013, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/1533/17/Is-nothing-sacred-now-.aspx

Fuente: http://www.mondialisation.ca/daech-et-la-legende-de-gilgamesh/5437620

En Quebec, Canadá, la posible expulsión de estudiantes de la UQAM, en la primera semana de huelga estudiantil, genera indignación en la comunidad universitaria de Montreal.

 

En Canadá, los estudiantes quebequenses respondieron a un sector de la opinión pública que cuestiona la validez de la actual huelga estudiantil.

Una gran manifestación se realizó en Quebec (Canadá) contra el presupuesto de austeridad del gobierno liberal.

The Destructive Legacy of Arab Liberals

April 3rd, 2015 by Joseph Massad

Image: Arab liberals have allied with Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia to wreak an unparalleled record of destruction. (Ahmed Asad / APA images)

It has become commonplace to present Arab Islamists of all political stripes (liberals, conservatives, radicals, neoliberals, moderates, extremists, nonviolent, violent, etc.) as a most, if not the most, dangerous political force in the Arab world since the 1967 War.

In fact, and as the following will show, it has been a new brand of Arab liberals — secularists and Islamists (though the former have been far more dangerous) — who have been and continue to be a most dangerous and destructive political force in the post-1967 Arab world.

The Western, Israeli and Saudi war against Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and anti-imperialist Arab nationalism required the birth of a new liberal intelligentsia. Their emergence on the scene in the late 1950s and in the 1960s, before the war, was part of the American-sponsored “cultural Cold War,” which financed intellectuals across the world for the anti-communist and anti-socialist liberal imperial crusade that also targeted anti-imperialist Third World nationalisms.

This was part and parcel of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which the Americans inaugurated in 1957 to intervene militarily and in every other way in the Middle East to fend off Soviet influence. It was in this context that the US intervened in Lebanon in 1958 against Arab nationalism with Saudi- and US-funded Lebanese liberals cheering on in the liberal press.

Many of these liberal Arab intellectuals were lackeys of US intelligence and they and their newspapers were financed by the US and Gulf regimes, especially the Saudis. They would exalt the virtues of the liberal West against Soviet and non-Soviet forms of communism and socialism and would attack Nasserist Arab nationalism.

While some would argue that Arab liberals are not true to the liberal tradition, I am less concerned with how well they approximate an imaginary Western liberalism, or whether they are “true” or “false” liberals, than with the fact that they present themselves and are presented by others as adhering to “liberal” principles. These include free parliamentary and executive elections, freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of association, civilian control of government and the military, a capitalist economy and varying degrees of separation between government and religious authorities.

Out of Egypt

In the post-1967 War period, the emergence of this new brand of Arab liberals was seen as confined to the Egyptian Sadatist intelligentsia whose main aim was to combat Nasserism in both its socialist and nationalist aspects and promote pro-Americanism. As the new century dawned, the Egyptian example became widely generalized across the entire Arab world.

The 1970s Egyptian liberals sang the praises of American power and imperialist capitalist penetration of their country and pushed for full surrender to the Israeli Jewish settler-colony under the banner of the “peace” negotiated by Nasser’s successor, President Anwar Sadat.

They insisted that Israel should be forgiven all its sins and that rendering Egypt its lackey and the lackey of the US would bring about many economic and political benefits to Egyptians. The Muslim Brotherhood, whose liberal transformation in the 1970s allowed them a seat at the Sadatist table, would join the political contest on the side of the liberal secularists against the Nasserist legacy.

Aside from state intellectuals, prominent litterateurs and artists pushed for this campaign. These extended from writers Yusuf Sibai to Naguib Mahfouz, and lesser figures like playwright Ali Salem, not to mention famous composer and singer Mohammed Abdel Wahab, intellectuals and academics of the ilk of Anis Mansour and Saad Eddin Ibrahim and many others. While Mahfouz and Abdel Wahab belong to an earlier generation of Egyptian liberals that have little in common with the post-1960s liberals, including mediocre state functionaries like Mansour, who edited the state-owned magazine October, they all joined the Sadatist ideological project in one way or another.

In this context, it should be mentioned that while the earlier generation of Arab liberals that emerged in the early part of the twentieth century and prospered in the 1920s and 1930s were mostly pro-European in their “civilizational” outlooks, they were not always pro-colonial, though a good number of them were. Indeed some, like Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, the “father of Egyptian liberalism” and anti-Arab Egyptian nationalism, were even friendly to Zionism. Al-Sayed would go as far as attending the celebrations of the opening of Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1925.

While the Sadatist liberals were condemned and excommunicated across the Arab world (indeed Sibai, who served as minister of culture under Sadat, was assassinated by the Abu Nidal group on account of his visit to Israel and his support for the Sadatist surrender), their alliance with the US and Israel and their promotion of the selling out of Egypt to a new business class would not bring prosperity. Rather, it brought enormous poverty to most Egyptians and destroyed whatever achievements in education and healthcare the pre-liberal Nasserist order had achieved.

The only thing that increased and became more advanced in this liberal-supported Egypt was the level of political and economic repression for decades to come and the alienation of millions of Egyptians who lost even the possibility of an economic future, except for the hundreds of thousands (later upwards of four million Egyptians) whose employment was subcontracted to neighboring countries — Libya, Jordan, Iraq and the Gulf states. Meanwhile, tens of millions of Egyptians languished at home in dire poverty.

Liberalism spreads to Palestine

Soon, and by the late 1980s, the political and economic line the Egyptian liberals pushed for, let alone the international alliances they favored, would be adopted wholesale by a new class of Palestinian, Iraqi and, to a much more limited extent, Algerian intellectuals, who had until then been solid anti-imperial leftists and socialists.

In this vein, West Bank and Gaza-based Palestinian intellectuals pushed for a two-state solution that would grant those territories an independent state at the expense of diaspora Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

It was the rights of the latter two groups of Palestinians that these intellectuals, under the sponsorship of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), wanted to barter for an independent state granted exclusively to the one-third of the Palestinian people that lives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Indeed, many began to predict that the US-sponsored “peace process,” which they supported, would turn the West Bank and Gaza into a new “Singapore,” an economic miracle that would transform the lives of these Palestinians at the expense of the rest.

Once the PLO adopted this line of thinking fully, Palestinian liberal intellectuals became advisors, consultants, negotiators and ministers in the Palestinian Authority and brought about more massive poverty across the West Bank and Gaza, the erosion of international support for Palestinian rights and multiplied the forces of repression of the Palestinians by adding the PA security forces to the Israeli occupation army. This has led to the squandering of Palestinian political and economic achievements during the first intifada.

Imperial invasions

Simultaneous with the rise of this liberal intellectual class among Palestinians, the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait unleashed a new class of Iraqi liberals who were allied with American imperial geostrategic interests and who immediately called, in the name of democracy and the end of dictatorship, for an imperial invasion of Iraq.

The US-led invasion in 1991 expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait, but left Saddam Hussein’s government in place, albeit under sanctions that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives — a price US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright notoriously deemed “worth it” to pursue American aims.

The 2003 US-led invasion, under the pretext of locating “weapons of mass destruction,” finally granted the liberals’ wish, and as a consequence cost the lives and livelihoods of untold millions and destroyed the entire country while enriching this class of comprador intellectuals and the new and old business classes they serve.

Indeed, many of them went into service for the US occupation of the country and the ensuing regime it established. While the Iraqi liberals were the first Arab liberals to call openly for an imperial invasion of their country, one could point to the precedent of Gibran Khalil Gibran and pro-French Lebanese liberal expatriates based in New York who had called in 1918 for a French invasion or “protection” of Syria to liberate it from the Turks.

Concomitant with these developments was the Algerian military coup against the elected Islamists in early 1992, which unleashed a massive civil war and military violence that led to upwards of 200,000 dead Algerians. Some of the extremist liberal secularists, like the Rally for Culture and Democracy party, supported the army’s “eradication” of the Islamists.

Sectarian incitement

Ironies abound. Terrified by the popular Arab schadenfreude expressed in massive demonstrations across the Arab world in solidarity with Iraq, demonstrations that did not sympathize with Kuwait and other oil-producing Gulf countries, the illiberal Saudis launched pan-Arab newspapers and satellite channels that bombarded the Arab world with pro-Saudi and pro-US liberal propaganda to reverse this Arab anti-imperial nationalist tide that also opposed the Arab regimes allied with US imperialism.

Intellectuals from across the Arab world joined the effort, abandoning old leftist, communist, Nasserist and Islamist positions and adopted the much, much more profitable pro-US and pro-Israel liberal line politically, and the neoliberal economic order being globalized. By the dawn of the new century, the Saudis and the Americans issued new orders to their media and agents to spread an unprecedented sectarian campaign against Shiites inside and outside the Arab world.

The campaign would be first articulated in 2004 by the new and neoliberal King Abdullah of Jordan, a self-styled “liberal” monarch who possesses absolute and unchecked power. The king expressed his and others’ fear of the rise of a “Shiite crescent” in the region.

It is in this regional context that Syrian liberals joined the fray. Upon the long-awaited death of President Hafez al-Assad in 2000, they launched what they called a “Damascus Spring” from intellectual salons and from the halls of the US embassy in Damascus, whose cultural attaché was a main sponsor of their “Spring.”

While they would soon be suppressed by the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syrian liberals would re-emerge in 2011 claiming to speak for “revolutionary” forces that have, with the full participation of the repressive Assad regime, caused the death of hundreds of thousands and destroyed the country.

The US ambassador would also aid in their efforts by making appointments and assigning roles within the Syrian exile opposition. Not unlike their Iraqi counterparts, the Syrian liberals — secularists and Islamists alike — called for imperial intervention in the name of democracy and to end the Syrian dictatorship. They got what they wished for in the form of the draconian Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS — also known as ISIL or just “Islamic State”).

Not to be outdone, Lebanese liberals and former Lebanese leftists, communists and Arab nationalists would also have their own “Spring” following the assassination of the corrupt and corrupting neoliberal billionaire, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005. They would help launch a local sectarian anti-Shiite campaign in the country and would call for more imperial intervention to save them from their powerful Syrian, but not their more dangerous Israeli, neighbor. They would also relaunch anti-Palestinian campaigns by cheering the Lebanese army’s destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in 2007. While their country was under heavy Israeli bombardment in 2006, many of these liberals cheered on the Israelis privately and publicly and prayed for the destruction of Hizballah fighters to restore a “liberal” Lebanese order that they longed for.

Liberal extremism

The proliferation of Arab liberals through the good offices of their US and Saudi patrons would lead to more liberal extremism. Saudi-financed newspapers (both print and electronic, like Asharq Al-Awsat and Elaph) began to espouse openly Zionist and pro-Israeli positions without apology.

Arab liberals would also abet an anti-democratic Palestinian Authority coup in 2007 against the democratically elected Hamas, a coup that was successful in the West Bank but failed in Gaza. This Palestinian liberal and comprador class of intellectuals also sought to fully submit to US and Israeli political, military and economic diktat (then neoliberal Prime Minister Salam Fayyad best exemplified this submissiveness) and hoped that the 2008-2009, 2012 and the 2014 Israeli invasions of Gaza would finish off Hamas, a hope that would be dashed by the steadfastness of Hamas and other groups committed to military resistance.

It is with this as background that Arab liberals — secularists and Islamists among them — would emerge during the so-called Arab “Spring” of 2011 as leaders of the revolts of Egypt and Tunisia (and Syria and Libya, Bahrain and Yemen). In the telling case of Tunisia, the liberal Islamists’ (mainly the al-Nahda party) and secularists’ infighting brought about a modus operandi that led to the partial restoration of the ancien régime.

In Egypt, the secularist liberals were transformed into outright fascists overnight and allied themselves openly with the Mubarakist forces, both in government, the military and the business sector against the liberal and neoliberal Muslim Brotherhood, which was only able, during its brief stint in power, to ally itself with the Mubarakist army, which ended up toppling its government.

The communists and the Nasserists joined the liberal ranks by transforming themselves, like the liberals, into fascists who fancy their fascism as a form of “liberalism.” They argued tirelessly and still argue that supporting a military coup against the elected and liberal Muslim Brotherhood, and the massive massacres that the coup authorities committed, were the epitome of liberalism and the restoration of a liberal order.

Arab liberals have gone as far as launching a war against European Muslims and Arabs, demanding that they ought to assimilate into their “host” Christian and secular societies. The liberal Sheikh of al-Azhar, the chief cleric of this central Muslim institution, demanded that French Muslim women abide by French laws and not wear the hijab. Yet it is the same Arab and Muslim liberals who demand that Arab Christians must not be made to submit to the majority Muslim culture of their societies and that respect by Muslims and Muslim states must be accorded to their differing Christian religious traditions.

One is dumbfounded by what Saudi and US money and political power (and the crucial Israeli role) can do in a short period of time. The proliferation of US- and European-funded nongovernmental organizations across the Arab world since the early 1990s (as is the case elsewhere around the globe) has successfully conscripted whole armies of Arab intellectuals and technicians into US-, Israeli- and Saudi-style liberalism.

It is these Arab liberals — especially and mostly the secularists among them — who helped bring about and justify such massive levels of destruction across the Arab world. The Islamist liberals in turn called for and cheered NATO intervention in Libya, which took place directly, and in Syria, which took place indirectly through massive infusions of cash and weapons. These levels of destruction are unprecedented in scope even in colonial times.

Tallying these Arab liberal achievements, we find that the horror they visited or helped visit on the Arab world is enormous. The death and injury of millions from Iraq to Syria, to Algeria, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt, to Yemen and Libya, the complete destruction of Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Libya and now Yemen, the massive poverty in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Syria, let alone in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Sudan, among others, have all been abetted by a majority of Arab liberals.

In fact, many of these events came about as a direct result of policies that liberals in government service or in the opposition and among intellectuals called for and helped bring about. These liberals continue to work assiduously to justify the destruction and shift the blame for these crimes onto others and to justify all sorts of crimes committed by their patrons.

Neither the radical and extremist ISIS nor its precursor al-Qaida can lay claim to such a stellar record of destruction and misery. The destruction wrought by and with the backing of liberals has been so immense that even the horrors that the Baath party, in its Iraqi and Syrian versions, has visited on Syria and Iraq and on their neighbors, is smaller in comparison. Yet it is these same liberals who continue to speak of freedom, peace and prosperity while they bring about more repression, war and poverty.

Arab liberals and Arab liberalism have been a principal enemy of social, political and economic justice across the Arab world during the last half-century. To claim otherwise would be to ignore their criminal record and to remain oblivious to the horrific reality they helped engender.

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University in New York. He is the author most recently of Islam in Liberalism (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

On Wednesday, four former elementary school teachers, two principals and five administrators in Atlanta, Georgia were convicted on state racketeering charges for inflating the results on standardized tests taken by public school students. The brutal and vindictive treatment meted out to the educators is a watershed in the campaign to vilify teachers and further dismantle the public education system in the United States.

The Fulton County prosecutor argued that charging educators under the state’s Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which is ordinarily reserved for organized crime cases, was warranted because the educators personally benefited from changing the answers on the tests through bonuses and promotions. They face 20 years or more in prison.

In fact, an investigation by the Georgia governor’s office in 2009 found that a “culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation infested the district,” led by then-Superintendent Beverly Hall, with teachers facing humiliation, demotion and firing if they did not meet student achievement targets.

The convictions followed an unprecedented seven-year probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that was characterized by a “Salem witchcraft mentality,” according to the defense attorney for elementary school teacher Dessa Curb, the educator acquitted of all charges.

The seven-month court case had the air of a show trial, with police mug shots of the defendants plastered across the web site and pages of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which launched the initial investigation into rising test scores and demanded that an example be made of the educators who did not make plea bargains.

With a certain glee, the newspaper reported the chilling scene after the jury rendered its decision, when the middle-aged educators handed their jewelry and personal belongings to attorneys and loved ones before they were handcuffed by deputies and hauled off to jail to await sentencing.

Scandals involving doctoring test scores are the inevitable outcome of the punitive “teacher accountability” schemes that have been promoted by both big business parties to scapegoat teachers for the consequences of decades of budget-cutting, teacher layoffs and the growth of poverty, which the best teachers in the world cannot possibly overcome.

The obsessive promotion of standardized testing began with former President George W. Bush’s 2001 “No Child Left Behind Act,” which was co-authored by Democrat Edward Kennedy. It has been accelerated under Obama’s Race to the Top program, which rewards school districts that tie teachers’ pay and jobs to “performance” and “valued added” targets, while accelerating the closing of “failing schools” and their replacement with for-profit charter operations.

It has long been the reactionary argument of these so-called school “reformers” that the needs of children are being sacrificed to the supposed selfishness of teachers, by which they mean demands for decent pay, smaller classroom sizes, more supplies and a measure of job security.

The campaign against teachers is above all aimed at destroying what remains of the egalitarian and democratic character of public education and intensifying the drive toward a class-based school system, where the children of the wealthy enjoy the best that money can buy, while the sons and daughters of the working class are relegated to 19th century-style “poor schools.”

If anyone should be held accountable for conspiring to undermine and destroy education, it is those who have systematically starved the public schools of resources in order to provide more tax breaks and business opportunities to the super-rich. These include the billionaire oligarchs Eli Broad and Bill Gates, the Pearson textbook and testing empire, and other corporations seeking to cash in on the $1.3 trillion “education market.”

Along with them should be President Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, who have overseen the wiping out of hundreds of thousands of teachers’ jobs and the closing of more than 4,000 schools. Not to be left out are the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, who have not only sided with the Atlanta witch-hunt, but facilitated the attack on teachers and promoted the expansion of charter schools.

While workers are persecuted without mercy, the perpetrators of crimes that have destroyed the lives of tens of millions continue to operate with impunity. The entire US economy is based on “racketeering” and conspiracy against the people.

The Wall Street banks, credit rating agencies, federal regulators, news media and politicians from both big business parties conspired to cover up the financial criminality that led to the 2008 economic crash. While millions lost their homes, jobs and savings, the financial aristocracy was not only not held accountable, it was made richer than ever.

The US government launches wars based on lies, invades countries, and organizes “regime change” operations in blatant violation of international law. The highest levels of the state and military-intelligence apparatus are implicated in torture, yet no one is held accountable.

The Obama administration dispatches drones to assassinate anyone it chooses, including American citizens, and deploys the largest domestic spying apparatus in history, and the only ones who are made to pay are those who expose these unconstitutional crimes, such as Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. The police brutalize and murder unarmed citizens with no fear of prosecution, while the full weight of the capitalist state, including militarized police departments, falls upon those who dare to protest.

This is class justice in America.

Iran and the P-6—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany—announced Thursday that they have finalized the “parameters” for an agreement to “normalize” Iran’s civil nuclear program.

Reached after eight days of heated bargaining, during which time the US twice threatened to quit the talks, yesterday’s agreement will form the basis for a final agreement to be reached no later than June 30.

Should a final agreement be reached, it would represent a significant shift in US-Iranian relations, bound up with US efforts to bring Iran more closely in line with its operations in the Middle East. At the same time, the deal places onerous restrictions on Iran, while holding out the possibility for a resumption of the US-backed war drive at any time in the future.

While the first paragraph of the US fact sheet outlining the parameters’ agreement stipulates “important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon,” the four pages that follow contain sweeping concessions on the part of Iran’s clerical-bourgeois regime.

These include:

* Submitting to the most intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection ever devised. IAEA inspectors will have carte blanche to enter any site or facility in Iran that they deem “suspicious” in perpetuity.

* Dramatically curtailing Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium and its existing stockpile of enriched uranium. For the next 10 years, Iran will be allowed to operate just 5,060 of its 19,000 centrifuges and those it does operate must be “first-generation,” i.e., extremely slow.

* The dismantling of much of Iran’s civil nuclear infrastructure. The core of the heavy reactor at Iran’s Arak heavy water research reactor is to be “destroyed or removed from the country” and the facility redesigned and rebuilt so as to prevent the production of weapons-grade plutonium.

The punishing US and EU sanctions that have halved Iran’s oil exports since 2011 and frozen it out of the world banking system will be “suspended”—not permanently removed. Moreover, their suspension will begin only when Iran has made good on all parts of the deal that are immediately applicable.

If it any time the US and EU declare that Iran has not complied with any aspect of the agreement, the “sanctions will snap back into place.”

Tehran will have to fulfill even more onerous conditions before the UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted. Iran will not only have to implement all the above-enumerated “key nuclear steps,” but also “address the IAEA’s concerns about the Possible Military Dimensions” (PMDs) of its nuclear program. The US used this device against Saddam Hussein, demanding that he prove Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

Even were the PMDs issue to be resolved to the satisfaction of the IAEA—an international body dominated by the US and its allies—the UN Security Council Resolutions that target Iran will in reality no more be eliminated than the punishing US-EU economic sanctions. Tehran has agreed that the “core provisions in the UN Security Council resolutions” limiting Iran’s access to “sensitive technologies” and providing a host of punitive measures will be incorporated in a new UN Security Council resolution.

Should a still-to-be-defined “dispute resolution process” fail to resolve a complaint about Iran’s implementation of the final nuclear deal levelled by any of the P-6 powers, the way will be open, under the parameters’ agreement, for the re-imposition of all previous UN sanctions.

Yesterday’s agreement was announced in Lausanne, Switzerland by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif. US President Barack Obama, however, quickly seized center stage.

In a White House appearance early Thursday afternoon, Obama touted the agreement as a huge diplomatic coup for the US, while boasting that Iran had been brought to heel by the “toughest sanctions in history.”

He underlined that if the “parameters” are not transformed into a final accord acceptable to the US, or if Iran violates any element of the final deal, “all options” will be on the table for him and any future US president. “All options on the table” is a favorite US euphemism for punitive action up to and including all-out war.

Speaking to sections of the political establishment that oppose an accommodation with Iran—this includes virtually the entire Republican Party and much of his own Democratic Party—Obama argued that the only realistic alternative was “another war in the Middle East.”

Obama went out of his way to reassure Washington’s traditional Mideast allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia. He announced that he is inviting the leaders of the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council to a summit at Camp David. Later, he called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reportedly told him that “there is no daylight (between us) when it comes to our support for Israel’s security and our concerns about Iran’s destabilizing policies.”

Iran’s government is also claiming victory. Foreign Minister Zarif said the agreement demonstrated that the Iranian people “will never bow to pressure.” The reality is that the Iranian bourgeoisie, reeling under the sanctions’ devastating impact on Iran’s economy and terrified of a challenge from the working class, is desperate for a rapprochement with US and European imperialism.

The US ruling elite and their corporate media speak ominously of Iranian “aggression” and failure to adhere to international law. What hypocrisy!

It is the US that has waged an unrelenting campaign against Iran since the 1979 revolution overthrew the tyrannical regime of the US-backed Shah. This has included supporting and arming Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War, a decades-long economic embargo, numerous threats of military attack, and a covert war against Iran’s nuclear program involving cyber-warfare and, in collaboration with Israel, the assassination of Iranian scientists.

While the US repeatedly threatens Iran with war if it does not demonstrate to Washington’s satisfaction the peaceful character of its nuclear program, it turns a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Obama’s attempt to effect an accommodation with Iran has angered Washington’s traditional Mideast allies and is being bitterly contested within the US military-security and political establishments.

Israel’s Netanyahu, who, like the Saudi oil sheiks, fears that an Iranian-US rapprochement will erode his state’s regional influence, lost no time yesterday in railing against the agreement. “This deal,” proclaimed Netanyahu, “would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.”

The Republican Party leadership was also quick to denounce the agreement. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk claimed, “Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler,” while Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton termed yesterday’s agreement “a list of dangerous concessions that will put Iran on the path to nuclear weapons.” Cotton authored an “open letter” signed by 47 Senators to Iran that claimed any deal entered into by the Obama administration could be repudiated by Congress or a future president.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would press forward with legislation requiring Congress endorse any final agreement with Iran before it can take effect.

Obama and his domestic critics share the same basic strategic goal, i.e., shoring up US hegemony over the Middle East and the entire globe. They differ at present on the tactics to be employed in regards to Iran in pursuit of that aim.

Under conditions where repeated US wars have blown up the Middle East and there already is a tacit Washington-Tehran alliance in opposing the Islamic State in Iraq, Obama calculates that the Iranian regime can be enlisted in helping restabilize the region under US dominance.

Even more importantly, the proponents of a deal with Iran calculate that if this oil-rich country can be brought into Washington’s strategic orbit, it will greatly strengthen the US’s hand in confronting its more significant and formidable adversaries, Russia and China.

Can Evil Be Defeated?

April 3rd, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

John W. Whitehead is a constitutional attorney. As head of the Rutherford Institute he is actively involved in defending our civil liberties. Being actively involved in legal cases, he experiences first hand the transformation of law from a shield of the American people into a weapon in the hands of the government.

American civil liberty was seriously eroded prior to 9/11 and the rise of the police / warfare state, a story I tell in How America Was Lost. Lawrence Stratton and I documented the loss of law as a shield of the American people in our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions (2000, 2008). Whitehead in his book, A Government of Wolves (2013) and in his just released Battlefield America (2015) shows how quickly and thoroughly the police state has taken root.

We live in an electronic concentration camp. We are addicted to images on screens that disinform and propagandize us to accept and even welcome the police state activities that have destroyed our autonomy, privacy, and independence.

I write many columns on this subject. The advantage of a book is that it all comes together under one cover, and that is what Whitehead has done in Battlefield America.

«The outlook for civil liberties grows bleaker by the day, from the government’s embrace of indefinite detention for US citizens and armed surveillance drones flying overhead to warrantless surveillance of phone, email and Internet communications, and prosecutions of government whistle-blowers. The homeland is ruled by a police-industrial complex, an extension of the American military empire. Everything that our founding fathers warned against is now the new norm. The government has trained its sights on the American people. We have become the enemy. All the while, the American people remain largely oblivious».

Whitehead gives it to us straight. We are continually abused in the name of protecting us. Just ordinary Americans are subject to far worst abuse from government than they ever could be from criminals and terrorists, both of which are bogymen used to justify the government’s terrorism of the citizenry.

Four-year old children are handcuffed by police. Ninety-five year old citizens with walkers are body-slammed with their neck broken by police. War veterans without legs and wheelchair bound are shot and murdered by police. The police always justify their abuse and criminal acts by claiming they felt threatened. What kind of heavily armed police, usually together in gangs, is threatened by a four-year old, a 95-year old, a double amputee? The fact that police get away with this brutality shows their total lack of humanity and the total transformation of the purpose of police. Today a paranoid police protect not the public but the police state and themselves from the public. We pay them to abuse and murder us.

On September 6, 7, and 8, 2014, the Washington Post reported that state and local police had become bandits, as in Mexico, who stop drivers in order to rob them. In «Stop and Seize,» the Washington Post reported that «aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes». http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/09/06/stop-and-seize/

There are now training courses in which police are trained in the art of highway robbery. September 11, 2001, was used to create an industry that trains police in the aggressive techniques of highway interdiction. It is now routine for a traffic stop, whether justified or not, to result in the confiscation of your cash, other possessions, and your car itself. You can be robbed by police on the basis of their assumptions without being ticketed or chargedwith a crime.

Whitehead reports that in fiscal year 2012 the federal government alone seized $4.2 billion in assets despite the fact that in 80 percent of the cases no charge was issued.

Did you know that the school security industry is a $4.9 billion annual business that instills in youth acceptance of tyranny and punishments for infractions that are simply the normal behavior of youth?

Did you know that in 2006 a Halliburton subsidiary, Dick Cheney’s firm, was awarded a $385 million federal contract to build concentration camps in the US?

Did you know that Republicans have privatized the prison system and turned it into a $70 billion per year industry that demands ever more incarceration of citizens in order to drive profits. Consequently, 2.7 million American children now have at least one parent in prison, often on charges that would not constitute crimes in a civilized country.

US prison labor is now the cheapest form of labor available with prisoners paid between 93 cents and $4.73 per day. Prisoners make office furniture, work in call centers, fabricate body armor, take hotel reservations, work in slaughterhouses, manufacture textiles, shoes, and clothing, process agricultural products like milk and beef, package Starbucks coffee, shrink wrap software for Microsoft, sew lingerie for Victoria’s Secret, produce the military’s helmets, shirts, pants, tents, bags, canteens, and a variety of other equipment, make circuit boards for IBM, Texas Instruments and Dell. Sew McDonald’s uniforms, and perform labor services for Boeing, Motorola, Compaq, Revlon and Kmart.

Even the «mainstream» presstitute media has reported the US military drills in South Florida where military teams working with local police practiced rounding up American citizens for detention. The media has also reported the upcoming military occupations in Texas and Utah. There are protests but not on the level that a people conscious of the threat to their liberty would mount.

It seems clear that these are federal troops practicing control of the population which is being stripped of the constitutional right to hold government accountable. The pointless lockdown of Boston and its suburbs and the gratuitous house to house searches, a martial law exercise clearly prepared prior to the Boston Marathon Bombing, used fear created by the bombing, possibly a false flag operation, to teach the population compliance with, and acceptance of, martial law. The insouciant American population went along with it. If someone points out how they were manipulated, the fools scream «conspiracy theorist».

The official explanation of the military exercises practicing population control in South Florida, Texas and Utah is that the military is practicing for overseas actions. Why then are local police involved? More likely we are witnessing drills described in the US Army’s 2010 publication, «Internment and Resettlement Operations».

It is now routine for police to amuse themselves by carrying out strip searches and vaginal searches of women. Police go out of their way to provoke resistance so that they can beat, taser, and murder. If they can’t provoke it, they beat, taser, and murder anyway and claim their victim resisted arrest or threatened them. Have you noticed how the police find everyone threatening?

Whitehead shows that the educational system, entertainment, and television serve to indoctrinate and teach compliance. Television can do more than form public opinion. It is used to alter the worldview of the population. Our cars, household appliances, and smart homes are becoming devices designed to spy on us and report noncompliance. A society is being created in which there can be no autonomy and no freedom.

The technology that permits the electronic concentration camp is produced by thoughtless people who have no concern for liberty. How, Whitehead asks, do we maintain our humanity in the face of technologies designed to dehumanize us?

America now has preemptive prosecution. Whitehead reports that 95 percent of those convicted of terrorism between 2001 and 2010 were prosecuted not for deeds, but for beliefs, ideology, or religious affiliations.

The two most engaging chapters in Battleground America are «The Matrix» and «The Posthuman Era», together a mere 17 pages. The fusion of machines with humans to which trans-humanists are committed will destroy human sensibility, memory, and morality, and probably humans themselves.

Corporate America is in it for the money. Whitehead tells us: «With every smartphone we buy, every GPS device we install, and every Twitter, Facebook, and Google account we open, we’re helping Corporate America build a dossier for its government counterparts on who we know, what we think, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time».

Whitehead quotes Bill Joy, a cofounder of Sun Microsystems: «I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of evil».

Jim Edwards says, «we humans are now data bits».

In the penultimate chapter, Whitehead tells us what we can do, a question that I am forever asked by readers. Whitehead says that armed revolt is not an option. He believes that the tens of millions, perhaps 100 million, Americans who have pistols, rifles, and shotguns are not only unorganized, but outgunned. The 21stcentury has been used to militarize state and local police forces and to brutalize their attitude toward the American public. Even police in small towns now have helicopters, armored personnel carriers, tanks, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, drones, night vision, heat sensors, sensors that can see through the walls of houses and into cars.

If this is not enough, in comes the National Guard or federal troops, Army Rangers, Navy Seals. Or simply the release of germs. Washington can deal with its citizens the same way it dealt with the indigenous peoples we call Indians. Washington has retained in its hands live smallpox, a deadly killer, and there now have been several generations of Americans who have not had smallpox vaccination, because the disease was eliminated by vaccination. All the government has to do is to release smallpox on resistant populations, and, of course, the government has numerous other such means.

How did it come to this?

In my opinion, as I so often write, Americans are distracted by sex, entertainment, the difficulty of providing for themselves and for families. They are locked into the disinformation that sustains the American Matrix, blinded by their patriotism and the 4th of July speeches and by their indoctrination that Americans are «exceptional and indispensable». And, of course, by their ignorance and arrogance. Americans simply have no clue.

The purpose of the evil that masquerades as a government in Washington is to prevent those few Americans who do have a clue from informing the rest of the population. Whistleblowers are arrested and falsely prosecuted and imprisoned. Journalists have been intimidated into silence.

Now, to Whitehead’s answer to what can we do. He says that we can mount «militant nonviolent resistance». This worked for Christians in the decomposing Roman Empire.

It worked for Mahatma Gandhi in India against the British colonialists. It was working for Martin Luther King in America before he was assassinated, most likely by the FBI.

Whitehead says that the mass of the citizenry cannot be assassinated. If citizens simply stop cooperating by listening to the lies on TV, by purchasing the devices used to control them, by amusing themselves in front of propaganda screens, by learning again how to think, how to be human, how to be moral, the American police state can be defeated.

It worked in the past, and possibly it can work again. If not, Washington will remain the home of Sauron, a threat to every American citizen and to the entire world.

It is pretty much a given that we are living the end times of a three ring financial circus.  If you doubt this, only a small amount of research on your part will confirm this.  The odds in my opinion are quite high that we will witness some sort of military confrontation as usually occurs when business deals go bad. 

The three leading acts today are Greece, Ukraine and special guest under the Big Top is Austria.  We don’t want to slight the tensions in the Middle East but that is already in the military stage, today let’s look more closely at the financial stage.

Greece has already begun raiding public pensions to run even day to day operations.  The current estimate is they will run out of cash before the end of April.  It is no wonder they are having high level meetings with Moscow and will meet with Mr. Putin this coming Monday.  It has been said they are not looking for a handout.  This may be so but they will certainly be talking about running a pipeline through their country.  As I have said all along, broke is broke, they simply cannot make payment on what they have already borrowed from the West.

The West, led by Germany may be able to restructure terms or even offer the Greeks more current cash.  Any deal made will not solve anything as whatever Greece accepts (if they do) will also need to be paid back.  Paying one credit card off with another one does not lower your balance, on the contrary, the total balance rises and this is the problem.  Greece as recently as 2010 was the shining star of Europe, just as a bank rated AAA on a Friday afternoon is bankrupt on Monday morning, so went Greece.

What is being missed here is Greek debt is held widely by German and French banks …and by the ECB itself.  When Greece does finally default, these already undercapitalized banks will capsize, but this is only part of it.  Just as happened back in 2008, there may be 10 times the amount of CDS (insurance) written versus their debt, now we are talking $3.5 trillion.  Do you know of any entity on the planet that could make good on this policy?

Before finishing on Greece, James Turk did an interview yesterday with King World news where he theorizes there will shortly be a “crossover” of debt owed the ECB and Greek banking deposits.  The banks have bled down to 130 billion euros while the ECB holds nearly 100 billion worth of Greek debt.  James believes a “bail in” of Greek banks will occur before the bank balances are too small to cover the debt. http://kingworldnews.com/ecb-to-steal-greek-bank-deposits-as-greece-to-default-within-two-weeks-sending-shockwaves-around-the-world/ .  I believe this “crossover” has already happened.  I say this because many of the deposits are small.  I just don’t believe there are enough large deposits left to steal in order to cover the debt owed the ECB.  Can they really bail in small deposits of widows or retirees without a massive proletariat revolt?  I can envision small depositors of all ages out in the streets with pitchforks hunting down anyone who even looks like a banker!

Another financial tent which will fold is Ukraine.  The situation here is less cut and dry than Greece because Russia is involved.  A little refresher for you, Russia lent Ukraine $3 billion+ at the end of 2013.  They did this to try to help stabilize the country, within two months “their guy” was out and “our guy” was in.  Ukraine has payments due on debt in June and they do not have the funds (nor their gold as this has already been pilfered).   This debt held by Russia comes due at the end of this year and because it was written under “English law”, any restructuring must be approved by Russia.

The odds of Russia allowing a restructuring are virtually zero because they know any extra funds will be used to restart Ukraine’s assault on the Russian population of the east.  The risk of a default by Ukraine has risen greatly.  Just as with Greece, it is not only so much about the amount of debt itself, it’s about how much CDS “insurance” has been written.  Just as Greece is just another link in the derivatives chain, so too is Ukraine.  Any default will involve $1 trillion plus when derivatives are taken into account, are there a spare trillion or more (or even multiples of this) for any of these links should they break?

It is much more complicated than this but Russia will not aid the West at their own expense.  Please understand this, it is not about the money for Russia, the entire episode is about leverage, both financial and political.  You can add the leverage gained of debt problems to the fact Russia is a huge supplier of gas to Europe, who do you think Europe will side with when push comes to shove?

Under the Big Top but receiving the least amount of attention or press coverage is Austria and their banking problems.  It seems the collapse of Hypo-Alpe Adria bank is reaching the next level, it was only a matter of time.  Pfandbriefbank Oesterich AG is the next potential casualty http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-27/black-swan-2-next-critical-chapter-austrian-banking-system-story .

They have a 600 million euro payment in June (lots of June deadlines?) but won’t be able to make this without invoking “guarantees”.  One of these guarantees comes from the state of Carinthia itself, already unwilling and they say unable to perform.  This is not even a large number, but, it affects the whole system in a domino effect where bank A owes bank B who owes bank C and down the line.

You should look at this as an illustration of just how thin the margins really are, a 600 million euro shortfall can have such a large impact?  The fear is if Hypo doesn’t pay, Pfandbriefbank will not be able to either.  What is really interesting is the 2 year debt of Pfandbriefbank is trading at around 95 cents, down nearly 15% since just last week.  The debt market is already smelling this one out!  Also please keep in mind that Austria was supposed to be one of the “strong” European countries (rated AAA) and Hypo was highly rated right up until their announcement of impairment, what other overnight surprises might we see?

To refresh your memory, Austrian bank problems were triggered when Switzerland broke their peg with the euro.  Many real estate loans were taken out in Swiss francs because the interest rate was so low.  Once the franc revalued higher, many of these loans were greater in value than the underlying real estate itself through no fault of the borrower other than to have borrowed in francs.  Obviously another area where the revaluation has done damage is to the bank’s balance sheets.  The lenders are now effectively short francs while those whom have sold derivative insurance against a lower euro or higher franc are now sitting on huge losses.  Trust me when I use the term “chain reaction” because this is already in motion!

This “three ring circus” as I have dubbed it is by no means all there is, it does however have a finite time frame.  Greece and Ukraine owe monies before the end of June.  Pfandbriefbank also has a payment due in June.  Will any of these payments actually get done?  None of them?  I’d like to point out the obvious here, in neither of these three situations does the ability to pay exist without “help” from another source.  How long will these “sources” be available and what happens when they are no longer?  To this point it has been a hell of a show, it is best not to stay to watch the final act!

I will never apologize for deserting the American army. I deserted an injustice and leaving was the only right thing to do. I owe one apology and one apology only, and that is to the people of Iraq.” -Joshua Key in The Deserter’s Tale

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Joshua Key is one of dozens of US GIs who sought refuge in Canada rather than be forced to serve in a war they considered legally and morally wrong.

He served from April to November of 2003, the first year of the war. He then went AWOL during a visit to the United States. By March of 2005 he had made it up to Canada and sought refugee status.

Ten years ago, Canada had earned respect around the world for refusing to officially join then President Bush’s ‘Coalition of the Willing.’

Times have changed since those early years. The Canadian government under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is arguably the most bellicose Western leader with regard to military offensives, supposedly against ISIS/ISIL in Iraq. This same government is now determined to return all military deserters back to the US where they face lengthy prison sentences, especially if they have been outspoken against the war.

Joshua Key was the very first US GI to write a memoir of his time in Iraq, let alone a critical account.

Key is not allowed to utilize Canada’s medicare system nor is he allowed to earn an income, leaving he, his Canadian wife and Canadian-born children to rely on donations.

A fund-raiser was held for Mr. Key and his family in Winnipeg on Sunday March 29. Also speaking at the event were Michelle Robidoux, organizer with the Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign, and Alyssa Manning, a legal representative for Joshua and his fellow War resisters.

This week’s Global Research News Hour, a special holiday edition featuring contributor and guest host Jonathan Wilson, airs audio from the March 29 fund-raiser.

Michelle Robidoux brings audience members up to date on the campaign, including the negative actions being taken against the cases of several war resisters.

Alyssa Manning provides legal precedents which furnish a case for letting war resisters stay in Canada.

Finally Joshua Key provides his first person account of his time in Iraq, his abandonment of the war, and his efforts to live in peace in Canada.

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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The  show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario – Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border. It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.