Syrian Opposition in Disarray

July 10th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

After 28 months of conflict, Assad defeated Washington’s best laid plans. Its Syrian National Coalition (SNC) opposition lacks effective leadership. It lacks legitimacy.

It’s an artificial construct. It operates extrajudicially. It resembles a gang that can’t shoot straight. On July 8, another leader resigned.

After four months, self-styled prime minister Ghassan Hitto announced he won’t “continue in (his) capacity as prime minister tasked with leading the interim government, though (he) emphasize(s he’ll) ‘continue working for the interests of the revolution and towards achieving its objectives.”

Washington’s war on Syria’s no “revolution.” There’s nothing civil about it. It’s US proxy aggression. Foreign death squad invaders want Islamofacism replacing Syrian sovereignty.

Hitto’s resignation came two days after SNC members elected Ahmad Asi-al Jarba president.

The post’s been vacant since Mouaz al-Khatib resigned in April. He cited frustration over lack of enough international support, internal divisions, and disarray among “rebel” factions.

Washington hoped he’d become Syria’s Hamid Karzai. Maybe Obama has similar aspirations for al-Jarba.

Repeated changing of the guard shows SNC ranks in disarray. Al-Khatib and Hitto couldn’t resolve SNC divisions. Don’t expect al-Jarba to fare better.

Just causes close ranks effectively. Rogue operations feature self-aggrandizing, power-hungry opportunists. They face overwhelming Syrian opposition.

Most Syrians support Assad. They do so for good reason. They alone want to decide who rule them. They deplore outside intervention.

Disorganized “rebel” ranks are no match for Syria’s superior military. It continues making impressive gains.

Regular Syrian National News Agency (SANA) reports repeat what the July 9 one said. It headlined “Army eliminates Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in several areas.”

Army units inflicted heavy losses on “armed terrorist groups” in and around Homs, Hula and other areas.

“Leader of an armed terrorist group, Obeid Hassan Obeid, nicknamed Abi Allaith, and terrorists Mossa al-Khaled, Mustafa Shamir and Osama Zabateh were identified among the dead.”

On July 8, FARS News Agency headlined “Syrian Army Continues Advance in Aleppo,” saying:

“Syrian Army units inflicted heavy losses on armed rebels in a series of concentrated military operations against their gatherings in Aleppo and took control of several parts of the city.”

Syrian forces continued mopping up operations. Areas have been totally cleared of foreign fighters.

Clashes continued around Aleppo’s central prison. Dozens of insurgents were killed. Many others were eliminated in other parts of the city.

On July 9, Press TV headlined “Syria invites UN officials to discuss claims of chemical weapons use,” saying:

Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari said:

“The Syrian authorities have discovered yesterday in the city of Banias 281 barrels filled with dangerous, hazardous chemical materials.”

Amounts found are “capable of destroying a whole city, if not the whole country,” he added.

Toxic substances include 79 barrels of polyethylene glycol (PEG), 67 barrels of mono ethylene glycol, 25 barrels of mono ethanol (or ethanolamine), 68 barrels of diethanolamine (DEA), and 42 barrels of triethanolamine (TEA).

Jaafari said chemicals found were “in a secret storage (area) controlled and monitored by the armed terrorist groups.”

Washington falsely accused Syria of using sarin and other chemical weapons “on a small scale.”

Damascus dismissed US allegations, saying:

“The White House published a statement full of lies about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, based on fabricated information, through which it is trying to hold the Syrian government responsible for such use.”

In mid-June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said so-called US evidence doesn’t meet longstanding Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) requirements.

Insurgents used chemical weapons multiple times. UN investigators confirmed sarin use. They did so before equivocating under heavy Western pressure.

In late May, Turkish police arrested 12 suspected Al Nusra fighters. They were seized in southern Turkey.

They were caught red-handed with a two gm cylinder of sarin nerve gas. Initial Turkish media reports said four and a half pounds of sarin were seized.

Other reports provided clear evidence. Insurgents used sarin and other chemical weapons multiple times.

On July 9, Russia Today headlined “Russian inquiry to UN: “Rebels, not Army behind Syria Aleppo chemical attack,” saying:

Moscow’s UN ambassador Vladimir Churkin said analysis of samples taken indicate “rebels” bear responsibility.

“I have just passed the analysis of samples taken at the site of the chemical attack to the UN Secretary General,” Churkin said.

“Evidence studied by Russian scientists indicates that a projectile carrying the deadly nerve agent sarin was most likely fired at Khan al-Assal by the rebels.”

More than 30 people died. Damascus straightaway asked for a UN investigation. Insurgents lied. They denied responsibility. They falsely blamed Assad.

Western sources consistently point fingers the wrong way. So do mainstream media. Assad’s falsely blamed for death squad crimes.

Syria’s conflict is far from resolved. Israeli involvement complicates things.

On July 6, Haaretz headlined “Report: Series of blasts heard near Assad arms depot in northern Syria,” saying:

Residents reported seeing “fighter jets near time of blasts.” A Syrian weapons depot was struck near Latakia. Lebanon’s Al Manar said rockets or missiles were fired.

Haaretz called the source of the strike “unclear.” It was Israeli aggression. It was Israel’s third attack on Syria since January.

Richard Silverstein explained what Haaretz omitted, saying:

“A massive explosion last Thursday at a major Syrian weapons depot in Latakia, not far from the main port of Tartus, completely destroyed the facility and munitions stored there.”

The Free Syrian army (FSA) falsely took credit. “(I)t was not the responsible party,” said Silverstein. It was done to divert attention from Israel.

“A confidential Israeli source (told Silverstein) Israeli forces attacked the site.” SA-300 anti-aircraft missile components were targeted.

Russia shipped them to Tartus. They’re stored in Latakia. What Israel destroyed, Russia will replace. Other military help is provided.

Russia has longstanding contractual obligations. It supports its Syrian ally. It does so against Western aggression. It wants Assad supplied with enough firepower to prevail.

Silverstein’s source said “the FSA coordinated with the IDF and launched a rocket attack on nearby government military installations in order to distract loyalist forces from the real target.”

Insurgents had no involvement in attacking Syria’s weapons depot. Israel bore full responsibility. Assad knows it. So does Russia.

Israel’s a key US regional imperial partner. It’s heavily involved in Washington’s war on Syria. It’s allied with Al Qaeda and Al Nusra insurgents.

It supplies arms and munitions. It treats wounded insurgents in Israeli hospitals. It remains to be seen what follows.

In late May, Syria warned Israel. Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Damascus won’t let “any (further) Israeli aggression go unanswered without retaliation.”

“The retaliation will be the same size as the aggression, and the same type of weapons will be used.”

We’ll know before long if he means it.

On July 9, Voice of Russia headlined “Russian, US experts disagree over many aspects of Syrian problem – Morozov.”

Syria and its regional implications were addressed at a bilateral seminar.

The Public Projects Institute (INOP) and Center for the National Interest (CNI) organized it.

Former Senator Gary Hart, General Charles Boyd, and Dmitri Simes represented America.

Parliamentarians and foreign policy experts spoke for Russia.

Discussion focused on Syria. Polar opposite opinions were expressed. According to Morozov:

“Our US partners said that it was possible to discuss Syrian issues and methods of solving them only in the case of the unconditional resignation of Bashar al-Assad.”

“They made themselves clear – ‘al-Assad must go’ before the formation of an interim government and elections of the new authorities are discussed.”

Russia believes otherwise. Syrians alone should decide who’ll rule them. “Counter-questions were asked”, said Morozov.

“We asked why al-Assad, a legitimate president, must go. He enjoys the support of many people in spite of the conflict.”

“He is in command of over 300,000 servicemen. And only one year is left until the next election.”

Russia categorically refuses to buy unacceptable US demands. It defends Syrian sovereignty. It supports rule of law principles

Washington’s ravaging Syria. It’s doing so ruthlessly. It’s doing it with impunity. Its imperial priorities matter most.

A Final Comment

US regional interests extend well beyond Syria and Egypt. Iran’s been unjustly targeted for decades.

On July 9, House Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency debated Iran’s alleged Western Hemisphere influence.

The 2012 Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act directs the Secretary of State to assess “threats posed to the United States by Iran’s growing presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere.”

Annual reports must be submitted to Congress. They’re classified. The latest dated June contains a two-page unclassified annex. It states in part:

“As a result of diplomatic outreach, strengthening of allies’ capacity, international nonproliferation efforts, a strong sanctions policy, and Iran’s poor management of its foreign relations, Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R. SC) chairs the House Oversight, Investigations and Management Subcommittee. He questioned the State Department report, saying:

It didn’t “reach reach out to even one country in the Western Hemisphere in the crafting of the threat assessment and strategy.”

“It makes no sense for the State Department to send (Congress an Iranian report on its alleged Western Hemisphere influence) without considering the views of our allies in the region.”

He cited Alberto Nisman’s May report. He’s an Argentinian prosecutor. The State Department debunked his findings.

He falsely linked Iran to regional terror attacks. He did so duplicitously. He did with no credible evidence.

His so-called “irrefutable proof” was rubbish. He left unaddressed an Iranian motive or interest in Latin American terrorism. What possible purpose could it serve?

Tehran’s got everything to lose and nothing to gain. Israel and America benefit hugely. Iran’s falsely linked to incidents bearing their fingerprints globally.

Reinventing history doesn’t wash. People like Nisman try anyway. Even the State Department dismissed his deception.

He was invited to testify before Duncan’s committee. Argentina’s Attorney General denied his travel request.

She and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner want no part of his bogus allegations. They know others about Iran’s nuclear program are false and misleading.

Targeting Iran continues maliciously. Washington wants another independent government deposed. It wants pro-Western puppet regimes throughout the region. It wants them everywhere. Unchallenged imperial dominance matters most.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/syrian-opposition-in-disarray/

It is an affront to democracy that the European Union is negotiating international free trade treaties in secret.

While the public are kept in the dark, big corporations are being given privileged access to influence the negotiations in their own interests.

These trade agreements are threatening people’s basic rights to safe food, affordable medicines, a healthy environment and decent work – no wonder the European Commission doesn’t want you to know about them.

Corporate Europe Observatory needs your help to shine a light on these important agreements being negotiated in secret, with big business in the driving seat. Please help us create a more just and transparent EU trade policy.

We have just appealed a court ruling which could deepen the secrecy and corporate influence over the EU’s trade negotiations, at the expense of the wider public interest. But we need your help to raise €5000 to cover our legal costs for the appeal.

We are sueing the European Commission in the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg for withholding information over the ongoing EU-India free trade talks from the public, even though the same information had already been shared with corporate lobby groups. In a ruling delivered in June, the court concluded that the Commission neither violated EU transparency rules nor discriminated against us.

Why are corporate lobby groups allowed access to information that the general public are denied?

We need your donations, however big or small, to be able to successfully appeal this ruling and put an end to the corporate capture of EU trade policy. This is not just about the EU-India free trade talks but the democratic accountability of future EU trade deals in general.

Thank you in advance for your support!

The CEO team

Here’s what others say about our legal action against the Commission

“The EU-India Free Trade Agreement could have adverse consequences for farmers, street vendors, fishers and others who have to survive on meagre income with no or little social security. The unabated power which free trade deals grant giant corporations over agriculture, industry and services needs to be reined in. CEO’s legal action for democratizing the trade policy processes is a significant move in this direction.”

Dharmendra Kumar, Director of India FDI Watch

 “Free Trade Agreements like the proposed EU-US trade pact have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people. It is unacceptable that they are negotiated in the interest of big corporations and in secret. I support CEO’s fight for more openness around EU trade negotiations and against big business being put in the driving seat.”

José Bové, Member of the European Parliament

 “The case brought to court by CEO challenges which documents can be kept away from the public according to EU access rules. It also highlights the power the EU institutions have to discriminate between different actors. This makes the case important not only for understanding ongoing trade talks, but for the fundamental question of democratic accountability as well.”

The current far-reaching free trade talks between the EU and India are being carried out behind closed doors. People and groups are therefore rightly concerned that proper accountability and effective public scrutiny are being sidelined in favour of a business-led agenda (1) Demands for transparency were however dealt a blow by a recent ruling.

It was discovered a while back that the European Commission (EC) withheld information about the EU-India talks from the public, even though it had already shared the information with corporate lobby groups. These documents include meeting reports, emails and a letter, all of which the EC had sent to large corporate lobby groups. Lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) had argued that information could not suddenly become confidential, which it did, when a public interest group asked for it (2).

Although the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg recently concluded that the EC did not violate EU rules by doing this (3), CEO has now appealed to the European Court of Justice on the ruling.

 In a press release, CEO trade campaigner Pia Eberhardt says:

“The real issue at stake is whether the European Commission can continue negotiating backroom trade deals, together with, and for, a tiny elite of corporate lobby groups. At a time when more and more people fear that trade agreements threaten their basic rights to safe food, affordable medicines, a healthy environment and decent work, we cannot sit by and fail to challenge a ruling that risks legitimising the privileged access that the Commission grants big business over its policies.”

In its appeal, CEO argues that the EU’s General Court made errors in law, including in assessing the role of the Commission’s internal rules on access to documents (4).

The appeal comes as the EU and India are reportedly trying to ink the proposed trade agreement before elections in both regions in 2014. Trade unions, farmers, patients’ organisations and other public interest groups have repeatedly sounded the alarm at the potentially devastating impacts of the deal, particularly on access to medicines, investment and procurement decisions and the livelihoods of Indian farmers and street traders. In effect, the deal could have detrimental implications for hundreds of millions of people in India by leading to the restructuring of much of Indian society for the benefit of foreign corporate interests (5).

This week, the EU and the US are also engaged in their first round of negotiations in Washington for a major trade deal between the two blocks, which bears a the same hallmark of secrecy and a similar template for corporate plunder (6).

Underlining the relevance of the lawsuit for the EU-US trade negotiations, Pia Eberhardt stated:

“For too long, the Commission has negotiated trade agreements in secret and catered for the needs of transnational companies. Corporate Europe Observatory is challenging this complicity, trying to redress the balance in favour of transparency and a trade policy in the interest of the many rather than the few.”

CEO’s appeal will now be reviewed by the European Court of Justice. The European Commission and Germany, which intervened in the case, will then respond in writing. Once the written procedure is declared closed, the European Court of Justice will either set a date for an oral hearing or forego a hearing and issue a ruling.

The EU-India (and EU-US) free trade talks raise two key questions.

Is it right that the EU is negotiating free trade treaties in secret, while the public is kept n the dark?

Is it right that big corporations are being given privileged access to negotiations?

Little wonder that the EC does not want us to know about the negotiations.

Corporate Europe Observatory has launched a donation call to cover the legal costs of the appeal at:

http://corporateeurope.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=4

Notes

1) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-corporate-driven-neocolonial-plunder/5338049

2) In the General Court of the European Union. Application for Annulment of Stichting Corporate Europe Observatory against the European Commission, 15 February 2011. A background article on the case can be downloaded at: 

http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/sites/default/files/files/article/lawsuit_backgrounder.pdf

A report about the hearing, which took place in January 2013 can be found at:http://corporateeurope.org/blog/commission-defends-privileged-access-big-business-court

3) Judgement of the General Court in case T-93/11, 7 June 2013,

http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=138132&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=665977

4) Corporate Europe Observatory argues that the General Court made three errors in law: a) in holding that the Commission’s internal rules on handling access-to-documents requests did not produce any external effects – because the rules were transmitted to Corporate Europe Observatory by the Commission and because the rules do have an automatic effect on third parties, as they determine how to deal with requests from third parties; b) in disregarding the presumption that the documents from the Commission were intended to be seen by a large number of people, which is why it was not necessary for Corporate Europe Observatory to demonstrate that the documents had actually be seen by persons other than the initial recipient; c) in holding that there was no implicit waiver of confidentiality when the Commission did not mark documents as confidential – because it would be unworkable for the Commission to protect confidentiality without prior care, once documents had already been sent out without a confidentiality marker.

5) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-india-up-for-sale-to-western-corporate-capital/5332214

6) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-free-trade-agreement-a-corporate-stitch-up-by-any-other-name/5339789

 

Egypt: A Pendulum of Chaos

July 10th, 2013 by Andrey Fomin

What is happening in Egypt? Is the overthrow of the country’s Islamist president a symbol of American failure? Will the military’s rise to power, followed by a new, perhaps secular government, help to normalize the situation?

When Mubarak was toppled, the military made no move to intervene.  And this was despite the fact that as a result of his ouster the army’s top brass lost power, and a large number of senior officers were later dismissed by President Morsi.  But the army did not defend Mubarak.  He was “surrendered” in exchange for the military elite’s peace of mind: there were several forced resignations, but no trials or reprisals.  In the coup that forced out Mubarak, the Islamists “stifled” the secular element of society and became the main force behind this political “change of course.”

But the goal of the global elites is to see Chaos in Egypt, as well as throughout the Middle East.  Thus, society’s secular element is now supposed to “bring down” the Islamists.  But secular, “European” Egyptians are less passionate than the Islamist radicals.  They need support.  The support for the Islamists who unseated Mubarak came from the West (money, weapons, instructions and information). But 18 months later the West cannot refuse to support other forces in Egypt, because in a year or two it will again be necessary to throw out the secular “European” Egyptians.

This means that the army was needed to support the secular element of society against the Islamists.  And this support was not long in coming.  Ultimatums were issued to the president, weapons were used to attack the demonstrators supporting President Morsi, and in general the conduct of the West was in keeping with the best traditions of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when no one gave any thought to human rights, and only sober, undisguised realpolitik held sway.

In other words, the army was afraid to defend one legitimate president, but now has shown it is not afraid to depose another legitimate president.  Where did such courage come from?  Or has the Egyptian military heard nothing about the court in The Hague?  Have they not seen the videos of Saddam’s hanging?

And what is the reaction of the West to this military coup d’état? None at all. Bashar al-Assad’s rule was declared illegitimate, although no one had stripped him of power.  But the Egyptian military has arrested a president whom the whole world viewed as legitimate, and no reaction is seen from the West.

Why? What’s going on?

This is the Pendulum of Chaos.  Secular forces will take power in order to lose it after a period of time in favor of the even-more-radicalized Islamists.  And so this pendulum will swing in order to further the wild oscillation of the forces of Chaos.  Like a seesaw.

egypt-flagAnd now a few words about economics and “the price of freedom.”Revolutions never solve any economic problems, they only aggravate them.  During this “time of change” in Egypt, the country’s foreign-exchange reserves have been practically wiped out and its grain reserves are once again getting dangerously low. But this time there is no hard currency to buy more abroad.

In May 2011, there was a remark in Russian press: “The victory of democracy in this Arab country is already demonstrating its first fruits.  Egypt is running out of food.  Along with “freedom,” the bankruptcy of the nation is knocking at the door of the Egyptian government.  War will be the next to knock.”

The result of Egypt’s “democratization” is its rapidly expanding debt.

The Russian news agency Novosti wrote earlier this week: “What prevented the Egyptian military from appointing competent people to the government during those 16 months when they were in power before Morsi was elected? And now, when the Egyptian president has accepted billions of dollars from his Arab neighbors (and spurned loans from the IMF), no meritocracy will be able to repay them.” (link in Russian)

Egypt has borrowed money from its Arab neighbors.  Now there has been a change in power and the “new Egypt” will accept loans from the IMF.  Tomorrow power will change hands again, and the latest “new Egypt” will once again accept loans from its Arab neighbors.  The Pendulum of Chaos.

Ultimately, the chaos magnifies with each political takeover.  The situation is only deteriorating – Egypt is in debt and no one is truly in power.

The Egyptian military became the agent of outside forces that wanted to destabilize the country.  Because this situation is being deliberately rockedto make the Pendulum of Chaos swing ever wider, Egypt will cease to exist as player on the political stage of the Middle East.  I doubt anyone needs me to specify who will benefit from these developments.

Andrey Fomin is a graduate of  Moscow State University (MSU), with a specialization in history and the Moscow School of Economics. He is the editor of the international journal for political analysis ORIENTAL REVIEW and frequent contributor to Moscow-based Strategic Culture Foundation. He can be reached at [email protected]

Big Banks Move Into Uranium Mining, Petroleum Products, Aluminum, Ownership and Operation Of Airports, Toll Roads, and Ports, and Electricity

Top economists, financial experts and bankers say that the big banks are too large … and their very size is threatening the economy.

They say we need to break up the big banks to stabilize the economy.

They say that too much interconnectedness leads to financial instability.

They also say that the big financial players are able to manipulate virtually every market in the world.

But the big banks have only gotten bigger – and more interconnected – than before the phony financial “reform” legislation was passed a couple of years ago.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, four congressmen point out that the big banks are not taking over the tangible economy as well … which allows them to control and manipulate the markets.

Specifically, Congressman Grayson wrote – and Congressmen Conyers, Ellison and Grijalva co-signed – a letter to the Federal Reserve which, in the words of a congressional aide:

Ask[ed] why large banks are engaged in a host of commercial activities, including power production, management of ports, oil drilling and distribution, and uranium mining. These activities have nothing to do with the business of banking and it’s unclear how the Fed or other bank regulators can actually regulate them. There’s useful and somewhat crazy information in the 10Ks of the banks about what they are currently doing. You can find that in the footnotes of the letter.

 

Here is their letter:

 

June 27, 2013

 

The Honorable Ben Bernanke
Chairman
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
20th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20551

 

Dear Chairman Bernanke,

We write in regards to the expansion of large banks into what had traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically, we are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining. [Isn't that a national security issue?]

Here are a few examples. Morgan Stanley imported 4 million barrels of oil and petroleum products into the United States in June, 2012.[i] Goldman Sachs stores aluminum in vast warehouses in Detroit as well as serving as a commodities derivatives dealer.[ii] This “bank” is also expanding into the ownership and operation of airports, toll roads, and ports.[iii] JP Morgan markets electricity in California.

In other words, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are no longer just banks – they have effectively become oil companies, port and airport operators, commodities dealers, and electric utilities as well. This is causing unforeseen problems for the industrial sector of the economy. For example, Coca Cola has filed a complaint with the London Metal Exchange that Goldman Sachs was hoarding aluminum. JP Morgan is currently being probed by regulators for manipulating power prices in California, where the “bank” was marketing electricity from power plants it controlled. We don’t know what other price manipulation could be occurring due to potential informational advantages accruing to derivatives dealers who also market and sell commodities. The long shadow of Enron could loom in these activities.

According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.[iv]  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. This shift has many consequences for our economy, and for bank regulators. We wonder how the Federal Reserve is responding to this shift.

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries. Such a dramatic intertwining of the industrial economy and supply chain with the financial system creates systemic risk, since there is effectively no regulatory entity that can oversee what is happening within these sprawling global entities.

Our questions are as follows:

1)      What is the Federal Reserve’s current position with respect to allowing Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to continue trading in physical commodities and holding commodity-related assets after the expiration of the statutory grace period during which they, as newly registered bank holding companies, must conform all of their activities to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956? What is the legal justification for this position?

2)      Has the Federal Reserve been investigating the full range of risks, costs, and benefits – to the national economy and broader society – of allowing these institutions (and, possibly, other large financial holding companies) to engage in trade intermediation and commercial activities that go far beyond pure financial services?  If so, please share the results of your investigation. If not, why not?

3)      What types of data do you collect about the regulated financial holding companies’ non-financial activities? How does the Federal Reserve interact with non-bank regulators who are in charge of overseeing the areas and markets in which banking institutions conduct their non-financial activities?

4)      How do your examiners review, monitor, and evaluate banking organizations’ management of potential conflicts of interest between their physical commodity businesses and their derivatives trading?

5)      If such an entity were to become insolvent, what complications are likely to arise in resolving a company with such a range of activities? Please share your analysis on the implications of resolution authority on the commercial activities of systemically important financial institutions. Please describe how these banks approach this issue in their resolution plans (or “living wills”).

 

6)      When your examiners work within these large institutions, what framework do they use to, say, consider the possibility that a bank run could ensue from a massive public oil spill by a Goldman Sachs-owned oil tanker or a nuclear accident at a plant owned by a bank?

7)      Does this relatively new corporate structure contribute to the likelihood of industrial supply shocks?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Alan Grayson

Raul Grijalva

John Conyers

Keith Ellison

Notes

[i] http://www.morganstanley.com/about/ir/shareholder/10k2012/10k2012.pdf

 

Morgan Stanley, according to its investment documents, is engaged “in the production, storage, transportation, marketing and trading of several commodities, including metals (base a  nd precious), agricultural products, crude oil, oil products, natural gas, electric power, emission credits, coal, freight, liquefied natural gas and related products and indices. In addition, we are an electricity power marketer in the U.S. and own electricity generating facilities in the U.S. and Europe; we own TransMontaigne Inc. and its subsidiaries, a group of companies operating in the refined petroleum products marketing and distribution business; and we own a minority interest in Heidmar Holdings LLC, which owns a group of companies that provide international marine transportation and U.S. marine logistics services.”

 

[ii] http://www.goldmansachs.com/investor-relations/financials/current/10k/2012-10-K.pdf

 

Goldman Sachs, according to its own recent investment reports, is engaged in “the production, storage, transportation, marketing and trading of numerous commodities, including crude oil, oil products, natural gas, electric power, agricultural products, metals (base and precious), minerals (including uranium), emission credits, coal, freight, liquefied natural gas and related products and indices.”

 

[iii] ibid

 

[iv] “The Merchants of Wall Street: Banking, Commerce, and Commodities” Omarova, Saule, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2180647&download=yes

For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of the U.S. government are turning Uncle Sam into Big Brother.

Now what?Continuing to expose and denounce the assaults on civil liberties is essential. So is supporting Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers — past, present and future. But those vital efforts are far from sufficient.

For a moment, walk a mile in the iron-heeled shoes of the military-industrial-digital complex. Its leaders don’t like clarity about what they’re doing, and they certainly don’t like being exposed or denounced — but right now the surveillance state is in no danger of losing what it needs to keep going: power.

The huge digi-tech firms and the government have become mutual tools for gaining humungous profits and tightening political control. The partnerships are deeply enmeshed in military and surveillance realms, whether cruise missiles and drones or vast metadata records and capacities to squirrel away trillions of emails.

At the core of the surveillance state is the hollowness of its democratic pretenses. Only with authentic democracy can we save ourselves from devastating evisceration of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

The enormous corporate leverage over government policies doesn’t change the fact that the nexus of the surveillance state — and the only organization with enough potential torque to reverse its anti-democratic trajectory — is government itself.

The necessity is to subdue the corporate-military forces that have so extensively hijacked the government. To do that, we’ll need to accomplish what progressives are currently ill-positioned for: democratic mobilization to challenge the surveillance state’s hold on power.

These days, progressives are way too deferential and nice to elected Democrats who should be confronted for their active or passive complicity with abysmal policies of the Obama White House. An example is Al Franken, senator from Minnesota, who declared his support for the NSA surveillance program last month: “I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people.”

 The right-wing Tea Party types realized years ago what progressive activists and groups are much less likely to face — that namby-pamby “lobbying” gets much weaker results than identifying crucial issues and making clear a willingness to mount primary challenges.

Progressives should be turning up the heat and building electoral capacities. But right now, many Democrats in Congress are cakewalking toward re-election in progressive districts where they should be on the defensive for their anemic “opposition” to — or outright support for — NSA surveillance.

Meanwhile, such officials with national profiles should encounter progressive pushback wherever they go. A step in that direction will happen just north of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend, when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appears as guest of honor to raise money for the party (up to $32,400 per couple) at a Marin County reception. There will also be a different kind of reception that Pelosi hadn’t been counting on – a picket line challenging her steadfast support for NSA surveillance.

In the first days of this week, upwards of 20,000 people responded to a RootsAction.org action alert by sending their senators and representative an email urging an end to the Insider Threat Program — the creepily Orwellian concoction that, as McClatchy news service revealed last month, “requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.”

Messages to Congress members, vocal protests and many other forms of public outcry are important — but they should lay the groundwork for much stronger actions to wrest control of the government away from the military-industrial-digital complex. That may seem impossible, but it’s certainly imperative: if we’re going to prevent the destruction of civil liberties. In the long run, denunciations of the surveillance state will mean little unless we can build the political capacity to end it.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

El Plan “B” de EEUU en Egipto: De regreso al Antiguo Régimen

July 9th, 2013 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

La ruta que se ha tomado en Egipto es peligrosa. Un golpe militar ha tenido lugar ahí mientras que millones de egipcios lo celebran con júbilo sin considerar que es lo que reemplazará a la Hermandad Musulmana y las ramificaciones que tendrá para su sociedad. Multitudes entusiasmadas han tratado el golpe militar en Egipto como una suerte de acto democrático. Erran en recordar para quienes trabajan los militares egipcios golpistas. Aquellos que se oponen ideológicamente a la Hermandad Musulmana también han celebrado la toma del poder por los militares sin darse cuenta que esa acción sirve en ultima instancia a los intereses imperialistas. El entusiasmo no les permite a las multitudes considerar el precedente negativo que ha sentado.

Egipto nunca fue saneado de las figuras corruptas por la Hermandad Musulmana, en su lugar se hicieron parte de ellas. Figuras claves en Egipto, como Al-Azhar’s Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb (quien fuera nombrado por Mubarak), criticaba a la Hermandad Musulmana cuando Mubarak estaba en el poder, luego denunció a Mubarak y apoyó a la Hermandad Musulmana cuando había llegado al poder y, luego denuncio a la Hermandad Musulmana cuando los militares la habían removido del poder. La Hermandad Musulmana ahora caída en desgracia ha sido reemplazada por un ensamblaje mucho más peor. Estas figuras, no importa cómo se hagan llamar, únicamente le han servido al poder y nunca a la democracia. Los militares que substituyen a la Hermandad Musulmana –ya sea el nuevo presidente interino o los líderes de la junta militar- o estuvieron trabajando con la Hermandad Musulmana o sirviéndole a ella, y aun antes de ella, lo hicieron para el régimen de Hosni Mubarak.

El círculo completo de la antidemocracia egipcia

Al contrario de las protestas, el golpe militar en Egipto es un golpe a la democracia. A pesar de la incompetencia e hipocresía del liderazgo de la rama egipcia de la Hermandad Musulmana, habían sido democráticamente elegidos al poder. Mientras que el derecho de todos los ciudadanos para protestar y demostrarse debe de ser protegido, y deben implementarse mecanismos bien estructurados y seguros en todos los sistemas políticos de Estado para remover a un gobierno impopular, gobiernos democráticamente elegidos no deben ser depuestos por medio de golpes militares. A no ser que un gobierno democráticamente elegido este arbitrariamente asesinando a su propio pueblo y actuando fuera de la ley, no existe excusas para removerlo del poder por medio de la fuerza militar. No hay nada malo con el acto de protesta, pero si hay algo de dañino cuando un golpe militar es iniciado por una fuerza militar corrupta que trabaja al servicio de Washington y Tel Aviv. Las cosas en el Cairo han retornado a su estatus original. El control militar sobre el gobierno en Cairo es exactamente lo que los corruptos líderes del ejercito de Egipto han querido desde las elecciones del 2012 que llevaron al poder al Partido Justicia y Libertad de la Hermandad Musulmana. Desde entonces ha existido una pugna por el poder entre el ejército egipcio y la Hermandad Musulmana.

Esperando ganar las elecciones del 2012, el ejército presentó como candidato a la presidencia de Egipto a uno de sus generales y ex miembro del gabinete de ministros de Mubarak, Ahmed Shafik, quien además había servido como el último primer ministro bajo las órdenes de Mubarak. Si no un leal per se de Mubarak, Shafik fue un colaborador del antiguo establishment político del régimen que le otorgó a él y a los militares poderes privilegiados. Cuando Ahmed Shafik resultó perdedor hubo tardanza en reconocer a Morsi como presidente electo, pues los militares estaban considerando rechazar los resultados de la elección y en su lugar anunciar un golpe militar.

El Consejo Supremo de las Fuerzas Armadas, que dirigía al ejercito de Egipto, se dio cuenta que un golpe militar después de las elecciones del 2012 no sería bien recibido por el pueblo egipcio y podría conducir a una rebelión total contra el liderazgo militar egipcio. Era improbable que muchos de los soldados de bajo rango y oficiales encargados siguieran las órdenes de los militares egipcios corruptos de la cúpula si el golpe se llevaba a cabo. De este modo los planes para un golpe militar fueron abortados. En su lugar los líderes militares egipcios decidieron intentar subordinar al gobierno civil de Egipto disolviendo el parlamento e imponiendo una constitución que ellos mismo habían redactado para garantizar el control militar. Su constitución militar subordinaba la presidencia y el gobierno civil de Egipto a la gestión militar. Morsi esperaría y luego reinstalaría al parlamento egipcio en julio del 2012 procediendo después a nulificar la constitución militar que limitaba los poderes de la presidencia y del gobierno civil, después colaboró con los EEUU y Qatar para pacificar a Hamas. Acto seguido, Morsi ordenó la renuncia del mariscal Tantawi, jefe del ejército egipcio y  del general Anan, el segundo general más poderoso en el ejército egipcio, ni el uno ni el otro eran amigos de la democracia o la justicia.

¿Fue la administración de Morsi realmente un gobierno de la Hermandad Musulmana?

Antes de que fuera sacada del poder la Hermandad Musulmana enfrentó serias limitaciones estructurales en Egipto y tomó muchas decisiones equivocadas.  Desde su victoria electoral hubo una continua pugna por el poder en Egipto y su Partido Libertad y Justicia intentó torpemente consolidar su control político sobre Egipto. Los intentos de la Hermandad Musulmana por consolidar el poder significaba que tenía que convivir y trabajar con una vasta variedad de instituciones y organismos del Estado que estaban ocupadas por sus oponentes, figuras corruptas y viejos leales del régimen. El Partido Libertad y Justicia lentamente trató de purgar el Estado egipcio de los partidarios de Mubarak y de la viejas figuras del régimen, pero Morsi fue forzado también a trabajar con ellos simultáneamente. Esto hizo que los cimientos de su gobierno se debilitaran aún más.

La situación de la Hermandad Musulmana en el 2012 era en realidad similar a la que Hamas enfrentó en el 2006 después de su victoria en las elecciones de Palestina. De la misma manera que Hamas fue forzado por los EEUU y sus aliados a aceptar ministros de Fatah en posiciones claves en el gobierno palestino que formó, la Hermandad Musulmana fue forzada a hacer lo mismo si no quería que colapsara el Estado y ser aislada internacionalmente. La principal diferencia entre las dos situaciones es que la Hermandad Musulmana parecía muy entusiasmada en cumplir con los EEUU y trabajar con viejos segmentos del antiguo régimen que no la desafiarían. Quizás esto sucedió porque la Hermandad Musulmana temía un golpe militar. Independientemente de las razones, la Hermandad Musulmana a sabiendas compartió la mesa de gobierno con contrarrevolucionarios y criminales.

En parte, el gabinete de Morsi se ofrecía como vehículo al continuismo del antiguo régimen. El Ministro de  Relaciones Exteriores, Mohammed Kamel Amr, el diplomático de mayor rango de Morsi, fue ministro de gabinete bajo el mariscal Tantawi y sirvió en posiciones claves como embajador de Mubarak en los Estados Unidos y Arabia Saudita. El gabinete de Morsi únicamente tendría unos pocos miembros del Partido Libertad y Justicia de la Hermadad Musulmana, mientras que el portafolio ministerial para las posiciones claves del Ministerio del Interior, Ministerio de Defensa, y de la Autoridad del Canal de Suez serian otorgadas a los designados de Mubarak del ejército y del aparato policial de Egipto. Abdul-Fatah Al-Sisi, el jefe de la inteligencia militar de Mubarak y quien había trabajado estrechamente con los EEUU e Israel, sería promovido por Morsi como jefe del ejército egipcio y como nuevo Ministro de Defensa de Egipto. Sería Al-Sisi, irónicamente, pero no sorprendente, quien ordenaría el arresto y salida de Morsi después de extensas consultas con su contraparte estadounidense, Chuck Hagel, en julio 3,2013.

La Hermandad Musulmana y la administración de Obama: ¿Una alianza de conveniencia?

Como resultado de la colaboración de la Hermandad Musulmana con los EEUU e Israel, un gran componente de las protestas en Egipto resultó ser el estrepitoso sentimiento anti norteamericano e anti israelí. Esto tiene que ver con el papel que la administración de Obama ha jugado en Egipto y con la alianza regional que ha formado con la Hermandad Musulmana. En parte, también tiene que ver con el hecho de que los oponentes de Morsi -inclusive los que están colaborando con los EEUU e Israel- han capitalizado sobre el sentimiento anti norteamericano e anti israelí haciendo ver a Morsi como un títere de EEUU y de Israel. En realidad, ambos los Estados Unidos y la Hermandad Musulmana han tratado de manipularse uno al otro para su propio beneficio. La hermandad Musulmana ha tratado de usar a la administración de Obama para ascender al poder, mientras que la administración de Obama ha usado a la Hermandad Musulmana en la guerra de EEUU contra Siria y lentamente empujar al gobierno de Hamas en Gaza fuera de la órbita de Irán y sus aliados en el Bloque de Resistencia. Consciente e inconscientemente, la Hermandad Musulmana en términos más amplios ha ayudado, como una organización, a los EEUU e Israel y a los reinos petroleros árabes para tratar de alinear regionalmente el tablero del ajedrez en un proyecto sectario que busca que Sunitas y Chiitas se peleen unos con otros.

A causa de la lucha por el poder del Partido Libertad y Justicia  contra el ejército egipcio y los remanentes del antiguo régimen, la Hermandad Musulmana viró hacia los Estados Unidos por apoyo y rompió todas sus promesas. Algunos describen esto como hacer un trato con el “Demonio”. En el plano de la política foránea, la Hermandad Musulmana no hizo lo que dijo que haría. No terminó con el sitio de Israel sobre el pueblo de Gaza, no cortó sus vínculos con Israel, y no restableció relaciones con los iraníes. Su cooperación con los EEUU le permitió a Washington jugar con los diferentes bandos dentro de Egipto poniéndolos unos contra otros y minimizar los riesgos de la administración de Obama.

La Hermandad Musulmana erró en su cálculo político. Morsi demostró no solo no ser digno de confianza, sino que además insensato. Washington siempre ha favorecido al ejército egipcio por sobre la Hermandad Musulmana. Como la mayoría de los ejércitos árabes, el ejército egipcio ha sido utilizado como una fuerza policial interna que ha oprimido y suprimido a su propio pueblo. A diferencia de la Hermandad Musulmana, el ejército egipcio le facilita mayores garantías a los EEUU para la protección de sus intereses en Egipto, la seguridad de Israel, e influencia sobre el estratégico y comercialmente importante Canal de Suez. Más aun, la Hermandad Musulmana tenía su propia agenda y parecía improbable que continuara jugando el papel de subordinado a los Estados Unidos y Washington estaba consciente de esto.

¿Revolución o Contrarrevolución?

De hecho se ha sentado un precedente muy peligroso. Los eventos en Egipto pueden ser usados de conformidad con el mismo tipo de estándar que le permitió al ejército turco subordinar la democracia en Turquía por décadas interviniendo cada vez que no les gustaba un gobierno civil. El ejército egipcio ha tomado la oportunidad para suspender la constitución. Ahora puede monitorear todo el proceso político en Egipto, esencialmente con los poderes del veto de facto. El golpe militar no solamente va en contra los principios de la democracia y es anti democrático, sino que además marca el retorno al poder del antiguo régimen. El antiguo régimen de Egipto, y esto tiene que ser señalado, siempre ha sido fundamentalmente un régimen militar controlado por un círculo de generales y admírales que operan en colaboración con un puñado de civiles en sectores claves.

Las cosas en Egipto están retornando a su punto de partida. La judicatura está siendo de nuevo alineada con el ejército o con el antiguo régimen. El fiscal general de Mubarak, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, quien fue removido del poder en noviembre del 2012, ha sido reincorporado. El parlamento egipcio ha sido disuelto por los líderes  del Consejo Supremo de las Fuerzas Armadas. El presidente Morsi y muchos miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana han sido apresados por el ejército y la policía, como enemigos de la paz.

Adli (Adly) Al-Mansour, el juez nombrado por Mubarak y a quien el presidente Morsi fue legalmente forzado a nombrar como el jefe de la Corte Suprema Constitucional, ha sido nombrado presidente interino por el Consejo Supremo de las Fuerzas Armadas. Al-Mansour es sencillamente un figurón civil de una junta militar. Vale la pena mencionar además que la Corte Suprema Constitucional, como muchos de los nombrados de Mubarak en la judicatura egipcia, ha colaborado con el ejército egipcio en contra de la Hermandad Musulmana y trataron de disolver el parlamento egipcio.

A Mohammed Al-Baradei (El-Baradei / El Baradei), un ex diplomático egipcio y también ex director general de la políticamente manipulada Agencia Internacional de Energía Atómica (IAEA en inglés), los militares le han ofrecido el puesto interino de primer ministro de Egipto. Él había retornado a Egipto durante el comienzo de la llamada Primavera Árabe para postularse a un cargo público con el apoyo del International Crisis Group, que es una organización ligada a los intereses de la política foránea de los EEUU y vinculada a la Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, y el Open Society Institute de George Soros. Al-Baradei se ha deleitado cada vez que los militares egipcios han anunciado un  golpe; el apoyó la toma del poder por los militares en el 2011 y, para su beneficio, lo ha apoyado en el 2013. Donde él no pudo asegurar una posición para el mismo a través del voto, ahora en el 2013 le ha sido ofrecida antidemocráticamente una posición en el gobierno a través de los militares.

Muchos de los partidarios de la Hermandad Musulmana están enfatizando que hubo una guerra injusta de los medios de prensa en su contra. La rama egipcia de la cadena Qatarí Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr que había funcionado como vocero de la Hermandad Musulmana, ha sido sacada del aire por los militares egipcios. Parece que Arabia Saudita, que inmediatamente felicitó a Adli Al-Mansour, está encantada, lo que explica el por qué el Partido Nour apoyado por Arabia Saudita traicionó a la Hermandad Musulmana. Otros medios vinculados a la Hermandad Musulmana o partidarios de ella también han sido censurados y atacados. Gran parte de los medios de prensa privados en Egipto ya eran anti hermandad Musulmana. Como el Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb, muchos de estos medios de prensa eran partidarios de la dictadura de Mubarak cuando estaba en el poder, y solo cambiaron su tono cuando estaba fuera del poder. El punto que, sin embargo, no debe ser extraviado es que, la censura contra los medios de prensa favorables a la Hermandad Musulmana no equivale a la práctica democrática en lo absoluto.

Las figuras que han apoyado el golpe militar, en el nombre de la democracia, no son tampoco amigos de la democracia. Muchos de estos oportunistas fueron lacayos de Mubarack. Por ejemplo, el llamado líder de la oposición egipcia Amr Moussa fue muy favorecido por Hosni Mubarack y sirvió como su ministro de relaciones exteriores por muchos años. Nunca,  Moussa alguna vez se preocupó o se atrevió a cuestionar a Mubarak o su dictadura, inclusive cuando Moussa se convirtió en el secretario general de la inútil y en bancarrota moral, Liga Árabe.

La crisis egipcia repercutirá gravemente  en el imperio estadounidense

A pesar de los reportes y comentarios de los medios de prensa, la Hermandad Musulmana nunca estuvo completamente a cargo de Egipto o de su gobierno. Siempre tuvo que compartir el poder con segmentos del viejo régimen o con los hombres de “Washington y Tel Aviv”. Actores claves en diferentes ramas del gobierno y órganos del Estado del antiguo régimen se mantuvieron en sus puestos. Inclusive el gabinete del presidente Morsi tenía hombres del viejo régimen. Las discusiones sobre la ley Sharia fueron manipuladas por los oponentes de la Hermandad Musulmana para el consumo exterior principalmente de aquellos países no musulmanes  y para incitar a los  cristianos de Egipto y las corrientes socialistas en contra de Morsi. En cuanto a los problemas económicos que Egipto enfrentó,  estos fueron el resultado de una mezcla del legado del antiguo régimen, la ambición de las elites egipcias y de los líderes militares, la crisis económica global, y el capitalismo predatorio con el cual los Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea han discapacitado a Egipto. Aquellos que culparon a Morsi por los problemas económicos de Egipto lo hicieron equivocada u  oportunistamente. La incompetencia de su administración no ayudó la situación, pero ellos tampoco la crearon. Morsi estaba a cargo de una embarcación que se estaba hundiendo, que había sido devastada económicamente en el 2011 por estados foráneos y por prestamistas locales y extranjeros, especuladores, inversionistas y corporaciones.

Hubo un innegable y constante esfuerzo para sabotear el gobierno de la Hermandad Musulmana, pero esto no excusa su incompetencia y corrupción. Sus intentos por ganar respetabilidad internacional asistiendo  a eventos tales como la Clinton Global Initiative patrocinado por  la Clinton Foundation han servido unicamte en su declinamiento. Su titubeo en restaurar relaciones con Irán y su antagonismo hacia Siria, Hezbolá y sus aliados palestinos solo resultó en una lista reducida de amigos y partidarios.

Pareció que de muy buena gana la Hermandad Musulmana se permitió ser usada por los EEUU, Israel, Arabia Saudita y Qatar para pacificar a Hamas en un intento por desvincular a los palestinos en Gaza del Bloque Resistencia. Continúo con el sitio contra Gaza y con la destrucción de los túneles usados por los palestinos para contrabandear provisiones diarias. Quizás estaba temerosa o tenía muy poco que decir en el asunto, pero permitió que la seguridad y los aparatos de inteligencia del ejército de Egipto continuaran colaborando con Israel. Bajo la vigilancia de la Hermandad Musulmana los palestinos desparecían en Egipto y luego aprecian en las prisiones de Israel. El gobierno de Morsi también abandonó la amnistía que les había dado  a los partidarios de la Jamahiriya que llegaron de Libia para refugiarse en Egipto.

Los Estados Unidos e Israel siempre han querido que Egipto se vea internamente en un patético estado de parálisis. Washigton siempre ha tratado de mantener a Egipto como un Estado dependiente que se desmoronaría política y económicamente sin la asistencia de los EEUU. Ha permitido que la situación en Egipto degenere como un medio para neutralizar a los egipcios manteniéndolos divididos y exhaustos. Los Estados Unidos, sin embargo, serán perseguidos por los fantasmas del golpe contra Morsi.  Washington lamentará mucho las repercusiones de lo que ha pasado en Egipto. La caída de Morsi envía un mensaje negativo a todos los aliados de los Estados Unidos. Todos en el Mundo Árabe, corruptos y justos por igual, están más consciente que nunca que una alianza con Washigton o con Tel Aviv no los protegerá. En su lugar se están dando cuenta que aquellos que están alineados con los iraníes y los rusos son quienes están de pie.

Un imperio que no puede garantizar la seguridad de sus sátrapas es uno que eventualmente encontrará muchos de sus compinches volviéndole la espalda o traicionándolo. De la misma manera que el proyecto estadounidense de cambio de régimen en Siria está fracasando, su tiempo en el Medio Oriente esta llegando a su fin. Aquellos que han apostado al éxito de Washington, como la realeza Saudí, La Hermandad Musulmana y el Primer Ministro de Turquía Recep Erdogan, se encontrarán en el bando perdedor de la ecuación regional del Medio Oriente.

Traducido del inglés por Marvin Najarro.

Canadá siempre ha tenido la reputación de ser una tierra de acogida. Sin embargo, los recientes cambios en sus políticas migratorias están cerrando las puertas a mucha gente, entre los que se encuentran miembros de la comunidad de los Rom.

Grupos de defensa de los derechos humanos y la comunidad Rom denuncian las políticas restrictivas en inmigración del gobierno de Canadá.

Estas nuevas medidas están frenando el arribo de los roms en el país.

Canadá estableció una lista de 30 países considerados como seguros. El gobierno canadiense considera que en los llamados “países de origen designados” se respeta los derechos humanos y existe protección del estado.

Según Amnistía Internacional, los roms sufren en los países de la UE una creciente discriminación, violencia de carácter racista, expulsiones forzadas y diversas formas de segregación.

Jorge Zegarra, Montreal.

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This week’s resignation of Ghassan Hitto, the so-called “Prime Minister in waiting” of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, coupled with the July 6th election of Ahmed Assi al-Jarba to head the umbrella coalition of US-supported proxy groups attempting to topple the Assad government, has revealed further cracks in the edifice of the imperialist assault on Syria.

Qatar’s Man in the Middle

Ghassan Hitto, the Syrian expatriate and technocrat from Texas, was seen by most informed observers as the darling of the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar.  As noted by AFP shortly after Hitto’s election:

Some coalition members described Hitto as a consensus candidate pleasing both the opposition’s Islamist and liberal factions.  But some of the 70-odd Coalition members withdrew from the consultations before the vote could take place, accusing opposition heavyweight Muslim Brotherhood of imposing Hitto as a candidate.

Indeed, the imposition of Hitto as the political face of the foreign-backed opposition was seen by many inside the opposition and around the world as a power-play by Qatar to control the direction of the conflict in Syria and establish Doha as the real center of power in a post-Assad Syria.

This connection between Hitto, the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar was the source of much tension within the opposition.  The NY Times reported that:

[Hitto] faced several challenges: he was seen by some rebels and activists as out of touch with the country, and some members of the often-squabbling coalition complained that he was a favorite of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and of its main foreign backer Qatar.  Many in the opposition say Qatar wields too much influence in the movement.

What became clear during the course of Hitto’s short tenure as the public face of the foreign-backed opposition was that he was less a political leader than a proxy of Qatar and the United States.  This despite what can only be called competition between its allies in Doha and Riyadh who at times collaborate and at other times compete for power and influence among the extremist jihadi elements throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  Essentially then, Hitto must be understood as a placeholder, a man whose responsibility was not to lead, but simply to act as a foothold for the al-Thani regime and the Muslim Brotherhood within the leadership of the opposition.  The goal was of course to have Hitto in place for the potential fall of Assad, so that Qatar could immediately secure its control over the country in a post-Assad scenario.

Saudis Reclaiming Dominant Role?

Hitto’s resignation places even more significance on last week’s election of Ahmed Assi al-Jarba as head of the Syrian Opposition Coalition.  Whereas Hitto was understood to be a proxy of Qatar, Jarba can be correctly characterized as a proxy of Saudi Arabia.  As McClatchy News explains:

Jarba is a chief of the Shammar tribe, one of the Arab world’s most powerful clans with members stretching from southern Turkey to Saudi Arabia…He was jailed early in the revolt against Assad…After being released from prison in August 2012, he fled to Saudi Arabia where his tribal connections put him into close touch with senior members of the Saudi intelligence services.

It should be noted that the innocuous-sounding phrase “close touch with senior members of Saudi intelligence” is a euphemism for Saudi agent, which is precisely what Jarba is.  Note the fact that, like Hitto, Jarba has already stated publicly his opposition to peace talks with the Assad government, thereby perpetuating the cycle of violence that benefits Riyadh and Doha and costs more innocent Syrians their lives.

Jarba has said that “Geneva in these circumstances is impossible.”  However, one must consider precisely which “circumstances” he was referring to.  Keen political observers who have been following events in Syria for some time understand the “circumstances” to be the continued military defeats of the foreign-backed rebels and jihadis by the forces of the Assad government.  Jarba and his Saudi handlers understand quite clearly that they must first achieve substantive military victories on the ground before they can even pay lip service to peace talks.

It is precisely this desperate need for tactical victories by the rebels that has driven Saudi Arabia to become even more involved in fomenting this war.  Using Jarba as their proxy, the Saudis have attempted to launch a new and perhaps even deadlier phase of the war against Syria.  In his first two days as head of the coalition, Jarba has already announced that the rebels will soon receive “a new shipment of sophisticated weapons from Saudi Arabia” as well as proposing a truce during Ramadan.

However, these announcements should be interpreted as cynical ploys designed to buy time for Saudi arms to reach their destination and for the rebels to train in their use.  Jarba said as much when he proclaimed to Reuters, “I will not rest until I procure the advanced weapons needed to hit back at Assad and his allies.  I give myself one month to achieve what I am intent to do.”  So, while proposing a one-month truce under the cover of religious piety in the observance of Ramadan, Jarba gives himself exactly that same one month window to procure advanced weapons.  The hypocrisy and duplicity needs no further explanation.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have a complicated relationship, at times friendly and at other times acrimonious.  Throughout the course of the destabilization and subversion of Syria, the two countries have collaborated in the funding, arming, and importation of jihadi elements from throughout the Muslim world.  They have both been linked to intelligence agencies of the imperial Western powers while maintaining close contact with terror networks foreign and domestic.  As such, both countries have played the indispensable role of intermediary between these disparate forces.  However, now that the threat to their terrorist proxies in Syria is an existential one, and Assad victories become ever more decisive, it seems the bond between the monarchies is fraying.  The recent changes in the political leadership of the so-called opposition merely reflect this.

Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.com.  He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City.  You can email him at [email protected].

Photo: Oxfam acknowledges Israel’s settlements are illegal but doesn’t call for ban on their products. (Magne Hagesæter / Flickr)

Calls to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people are gathering momentum. Words such as “boycott” and “apartheid” are no longer taboo and fast becoming mainstream.

Why, then, are well-respected charities such as IKV Pax Christi, a Dutch civil society organization in the Netherlands, and Oxfam working against efforts to hold Israel, and complicit corporations, accountable for serious human rights violations and war crimes?

On 17 June, IKV Pax Christi organized a seminar titled “Playing and Paying: EU responsibility and the two state-solution for Israel and Palestine.” The event kicked off with a stirring and principled speech by Nikolaos Van Dam, a co-author of a recent report on Palestine that had been commissioned by the Dutch Senate (“Between words and deeds: Prospects for a sustainable peace in the Middle East,” Advisory Council on International Affairs, March 2013 [PDF]).

Van Dam argued it was “naïve” to expect Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza“without enormous pressure from the outside.”

Under international law, he added, the Netherlands and the European Union were obliged to take action against Israel for its behavior. He stated that this obligation ought to mean that trade restrictions are introduced not only on products emanating from Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, but also on products from Israel itself.

“Sanctions should be imposed on those who are responsible for Israel’s policies, and that is the Israeli state, not just the Jewish settlers illegally residing on land forcefully expropriated from Palestinians,” he said. “We should finally put our political positions into practice” (“What should the European Union do to save the two-state solution,” 17 June 2013 [PDF]).

“More love”

Van Dam’s contribution received enthusiastic applause from the audience. But then the event took a strange and unexpected turn.

Without exception, all of the panellists invited by IKV Pax Christi to respond to the report launched strong and sometimes personal attacks against Van Dam.

Ilan Baruch, a former Israeli diplomat and military commander, argued that Van Dam’s report would “wash away support” for Israelis who criticized the government.

Walid Salem, director of a Palestinian organization called Panorama, remarked that a two-state solution would not be accomplished by “harming Israel.” Han Ten Broeke, a member of parliament (MP), claimed that “finger-pointing doesn’t work” and that Israel doesn’t need “tough love” but “more love.”

Another MP, Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, was less caustic in his response. He said that both “carrots” and “sticks” were needed in order to break the current impasse in negotiations, but also maintained that the “time was not right for sticks” at this stage and that “Israel should be given an opportunity to show its commitment” to a two-state solution.

Both Baruch and Salem have been engaged in so-called dialogue projects between Israelis and Palestinians, some of which IKV Pax Christi has funded. Such projects are widely opposed by Palestinian political activists, who believe that they “normalize” Israel’s decidedly abnormal occupation and its apartheid policies.

In an email message which he sent me during an exchange of views about the organizing of this seminar, Matthieu Hermans of IKV Pax Christi defended Salem’s work. “Mr. Walid Salem is one of our esteemed Palestinian partners, whose openness towards constructive, solution-oriented dialogue with ‘the other side’ have gained him vicious anonymous threats from the so-called anti-normalization camp; threats from people whom — I would hope — you would not want to be associated with,” he wrote.

Counterproductive

Hermans’ stance was ill-informed. Far from promoting a sinister agenda, opponents of normalization insist that Israel be held accountable for its violations of human rights and advocate that Israel be subject to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) until this is achieved.

During a recent national BDS conference in Bethlehem, numerous Palestinian campaigners denounced such normalization projects (“Report on the fourth national BDS conference,” Palestinian BDS National Committee).

Unlike the conference in Bethlehem, the seminar organized by IKV Pax Christi was not about justice or peace. It was not about serious, critical, open debate of issues that concern Palestinians and Israelis, and indeed all of us. It was about how Europe should play a role both in order to maintain Israel as an exclusive “Jewish state” and to continue its support to the discredited Palestinian Authority.

IKV Pax Christi is not alone in pursuing a counterproductive strategy.

Oxfam International has been campaigning in Britain, the Netherlands and elsewhere that products emanating from Israeli settlements ought simply to be labeled as such. Oxfam has refused to argue that Israel and companies profiting from the occupation face sanctions.

Barbara Stocking, the chief executive of Oxfam in the UK, has said: “We support the right of consumers to know the origin of the products they purchase. Trade with Israeli settlements — which are illegal under international law — contributes to their economic viability and serves to legitimize them. It is also clear from our development work in West Bank communities that settlements have led to the denial of rights and create poverty for many Palestinians” (“UK issues new guidance on labelling of food from illegal West Bank settlements,” Guardian, 10 December 2009).

While Oxfam clearly acknowledges that the settlements are illegal, it doesn’t appear to regard products from the settlements as illegal. It has not called for a ban on these products.

When faced by accusations that labeling amounts to a singling out of Israeli products and may lead to a boycott, Oxfam has quickly stepped in to emphasize that it is not in favor of boycotting Israeli goods (“Oxfam agrees to conditions on Israel set by UK Jewry,” The Times of Israel, 12 January 2013).

Incomprehensible

Oxfam’s argument is not only self-defeating, it is contrary to international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention provides that any exploitation of resources from occupied territories — beyond the immediate needs of the occupying army, and that is not in the interests of the local population — is illegal and could amount to the crime of pillage.

In February 2009, IKV Pax Christi director Jan Gruiters argued that trade privileges granted to Israel by the EU should be suspended (“Nioscoop,” 1 February 2009 [Video, in Dutch]).

It is therefore incomprehensible, both in light of Gruiters’ earlier statements and the stated mission of IKV Pax Christi, that the organization has seemingly dropped this position and now supports normalization.

The broad-based Palestinian-led BDS movement is striving towards a lasting and just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. Through nonviolent critical engagement and insisting on Israel and companies’ compliance with international law, the BDS movement explicitly rejects the perpetuation of the international crime of apartheid. Why then are groups that claim to champion the dispossessed opposed to this movement?

Unless Oxfam and IKV Pax Christi seriously engage with the movement and reconsider their counter-productive positions, they risk being perceived as irrelevant to the realization of a just peace.

Jeff Handmaker is a senior lecturer in law, human rights and development at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University, Rotterdam. He has worked closely with both IKV Pax Christi and Oxfam in the past.

The first details surrounding the secret body of law created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) as part of the US government’s massive surveillance operations were made public yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. The information, which was leaked by “current and former administration and congressional officials,” gives a partial indication of the depth of FISC’s unprecedented secret powers.

The leaked material shows how FISC has employed an Orwellian re-working of the meaning of a “relevancy” standard to justify the creation of a separate body of law aimed at justifying government actions that violate the Bill of Rights.

Following the passage in 2006 of a series of amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act, the standard for approving FISA surveillance orders under the “business records” provision of §215 was updated so as to require “a statement of facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation.”

Though “relevancy” has historically required a showing that there is a “reasonable possibility” that a FISA surveillance order will lead to information related to a pending investigation, FISC has been given the power to establish its own clandestine standard that overrides the former, public standard.

Instead, FISC’s interpretation of “relevant” has nothing in common with the actual meaning of the word. According to The Wall Street Journal: “In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the court accepted that ‘relevant’ could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people…”

According to the Journal, the specific program that this change was designed to justify is one that allows the government to collect the phone records (“metadata”) on hundreds of millions of Americans, which can allow it to contract detailed social and political networks for almost everyone in the United States. This is only one part of a much larger spying operation carried out by the government, including the storage of the content of all phone calls, emails, text messages and Internet communications and activity.

The creation of an upside-down meaning of “relevance” highlights the deeply authoritarian nature of FISC, which has developed into a star chamber that operates entirely outside of the bounds of traditional bourgeois legality. Under the guise of the “special needs” doctrine, FISC claims that the overriding public danger of the “war on terror” gives it the power to abrogate basic democratic rights provided by the Constitution.

Though the recent leaks point toward the content of the series of clandestine decisions made public over the weekend in an article published by the New York Times, the decisions themselves remain under lock and key. (See: “Secret laws, secret government”)

The courts with the support of the Obama administration have struck down lawsuits challenging the constitutionality and secretiveness of FISC decisions.

In a 2013 case, Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, et al. v. Amnesty International USA et al., the Supreme Court struck down a Fourth Amendment challenge to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which created FISC. The Court ruled that the civil rights groups that challenged the law did not have standing because they could not prove they were actually being spied on. The decision was reached less than four months before the Snowden revelations were first made public.

Additionally, a request made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in August 2012 to force the release of FISC opinions under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was denied by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice.

Last month, the Department of Justice responded to the EFF’s FOIA request by saying that “[a]ny such release would be incomplete and quite possibly misleading to the public about the role of this [FISC] Court and the issues discussed in the opinion.”

In March 2013, FISC Presiding Judge Reggie B. Wilson responded to Congressional requests for written summaries of FISC opinions by explaining that there are “serious obstacles that must be considered” regarding making summaries of the opinions public.

Wilson added that he feared releasing the summaries would be “much more likely to result in misunderstanding or confusion regarding the court’s decision or reasoning,” ostensibly because “[s]ummarizing a judicial opinion of any length or complexity entails losing more nuanced or technical points of a court’s analysis.”

This reasoning is a hollow excuse for keeping the programs secret. What the courts, the Obama administration and Congress all fear is that the publication of the decisions would generate mass opposition to their doubtlessly authoritarian content.

This is made all the more clear when considering the questionable nature of the recent release of information to the Wall Street Journal, as well as the earlier article in the New York Times It is entirely possible that the information was revealed intentionally by the Obama administration in an attempt to preempt the anticipated leak of the full court decisions by Snowden.

The fact that multiple administration and congressional figures both past and present were apparently part of the “leaks,” and that the details provided were vague and minimal, indicates a level of state planning.

Regardless of the immediate source, the leaks make clear that the material contained in the decisions is deeply anti-democratic, involving decisions made by an unaccountable court, entirely behind the backs of the population.

The claim by European governments that they were unaware of the extensive wiretapping undertaken by the US intelligence agency NSA is simply a lie. In fact, various European intelligence agencies, and in particular Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), work closely with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the surveillance of electronic communications.

This is clear from an interview with former NSA sub-contractor Edward Snowden published in the latest issue of the news magazine Der Spiegel .

To the question: “Are the German authorities and German politicians involved in the monitoring system”, Snowden answered: “Yes, of course. They [NSA people–Ed.] are in cahoots with the Germans, as with most other Western countries.”

The interview is based on written questions submitted by encryption specialist Jacob Appelbaum and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras in mid-May to Snowden, before he went to Hong Kong and began revealing the comprehensive monitoring activities of the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters).

In the responses from Snowden, now published for the first time, he suggests that such international intelligence cooperation also serves to bypass national legal restrictions and shield political leaders.

Intelligence agencies that exchange information never ask where it originates, he explains. “In this way, they can protect their political leaders from the backlash, if it should come out how massively people’s privacy is being violated worldwide.”

According to Snowden, the NSA has its own department for managing the collaboration with foreign intelligence agencies, the Foreign Affairs Directorate. Among others things, the NSA developed the Stuxnet Internet virus together with Israeli intelligence, which was then used to sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities.

The NSA collaborates particularly intensively with Germany’s BND. Der Spiegel lists a variety of already known and new information, exposing claims by the German government that it had been surprised and outraged by Snowden’s revelations as sheer hypocrisy.

As early as 2001, the European Parliament published a 200-page report on the “Echelon” surveillance programme, which was jointly run by the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The report came to the conclusion that “within Europe, all communications, such as emails, phone and fax traffic, are regularly monitored by the NSA.”

As long as the system was used “solely for intelligence purposes,” this was not a breach of EU law, the parliamentary committee found at the time. If, however, it was abused for economic espionage and to gain competitive advantages, “this stands in stark contrast to the obligation of member states to loyalty to the concept of free competition in the common market.”

In 2004, an important part of the Echelon programme, the wireless monitoring system in the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling, was officially closed down on the recommendation of the parliamentary committee, because it was mainly used for industrial espionage.

As Der Spiegel now writes, the site where the listening devices were housed was never released for civilian use. Instead, signals traffic was intercepted and routed via a cable to the Mangfall barracks, just a few hundred metres away. There, the BND, “in close cooperation with a handful of NSA wire-tapping specialists” analysed “telephone calls, faxes, and everything else transmitted via satellite”.

According to Der Spiegel, the banking metropolis of Frankfurt is “something like a nerve centre” for spying on data that travels via fibre optic cable. It is here that fibre optic cables from Eastern Europe and Central Asia meet the data lines from Western Europe. International providers such as the US company Level 3 and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom maintain their digital hubs.

As Snowden has revealed, in Frankfurt and at other German hubs, the NSA captures half a billion communications every month. The BND also eagerly helps itself to data here, working closely with the American secret services. In this way, the BND circumvents the so-called G-10 law, which governs the constitutionally protected privacy of post and telecommunications secrecy.

Foreign intelligence agencies, on the other hand, work “largely uncontrolled on German soil”, Der Spiegel notes.

The NSA provides the BND with special tools to analyse data from the Middle East, the news magazine reports, asking: “Does the US service receive access to the data in return?”

Given this close collaboration, it is totally implausible that the German secret services and government knew nothing about the NSA’s wiretapping activities, as they repeatedly claim.

Just last week, the French newspaper Le Monde had also revealed that the French foreign intelligence service DGSE (General Directorate of External Security) was systematically spying on data traffic.

“The whole of our communications traffic is being spied upon,” the newspaper wrote. The DGSE collects the metadata of millions of telephone calls, emails, SMS, faxes and all Internet activities on Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo, thus building up a huge database.

When it comes to the protection of privacy and the defence of basic democratic rights, the European governments have no more scruples than their counterparts in the United States. They only become nervous when the collected data is used for industrial espionage or political blackmail against them.

Faced with growing social tensions European governments regard their respective populations as potential enemies which must be monitored. This is why not a single European government is prepared to grant Edward Snowden asylum, despite their feigned outrage.

Middle East Continues to Boil

July 9th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

A previous article called it the curse of oil and gas. Independent countries are targeted. Washington’s war on Syria rages.

It’s been ongoing for 28 months and counting. It continues because America, key NATO allies, Israel, and rogue Arab states pour arms into Syria. They do so lawlessly. They’re responsible for tens of thousands of deaths.

Dozens more die daily. Conflict persists. Obama bears full responsibility. Imported death squads serve US interests. Mainstream media don’t explain.

Mercenary killers are called freedom fighters. Syrian defenders are called terrorists. Truth is turned on its head. It’s done so irresponsibly. Mainstream media support Washington’s imperium. They betray their readers and viewers in the process.

Egypt’s on the boil. Washington’s very much involved. So is Israel. Both countries have important issues at stake.

Egyptians have legitimate grievances. They’re longstanding. They’ve been unaddressed for decades. Political and socioeconomic ones are key.

Things are worse now than ever. Bread and butter issues matter most. Widespread poverty, unemployment and extreme deprivation persist. Conditions are intolerable.

Ousting Morsi doesn’t matter. Neoliberal harshness is policy. So is police state repression. Junta power rules. It does so brutally.

Democracy’s an illusion. It exists in name only. It’s fiction, not fact. Street protests won’t work unless sustained. Days and weeks won’t help. Months and years are needed.

Whether Egyptians are up to the challenge remains to be seen. Mubarak’s ouster accomplished nothing. Nor does changing the guard now.

Entrenched power rules Egypt. Washington exerts enormous influence. It’s waning but still important. Change won’t come easily or quickly. Lots more blood may be spilled.

It’s true across the region. Breaking free takes commitment. It requires longterm struggle. Palestinians have been at it on and off for decades. Civil and labor rights in America took years of painful struggles.

Street protests raged. So did work stoppages, battling police, and paying with blood and lives before real gains were won.

Doing so’s half the battle. Lost energy turns triumphs into tragedies. It happens more often than not. Odds for success in Egypt short-term are nil. Longer term’s far from sure. Eventually perhaps is possible.

It’s true everywhere. Palestinians one day will be free. They’ve struggled too long to quit. They’re on their own. They’ll get no help from America. They never did. They won’t now. Washington sustains Israel’s killing machine.

Kerry’s heading back for more peace talks. He’ll arrive sometime this week. It’s his sixth visit since February. He represents US/ Israeli interests. He spurns what Palestinians most want.

He’ll shuttle between Jerusalem and Ramallah. His diplomacy is thin-veiled. It’s one-sided. It’s duplicitous. It demands, bullies and threatens. Decades of so-called peace talks accomplished nothing.

Netanyahu calls them a waste of time. Israel’s government is its most hardline ever. It’s vicious. It’s fascist. It’s no democracy. It’s all take and no give.

Since Kerry’s late June visit, Frank Lowenstein stayed behind. He’s Kerry’s senior regional peace talks advisor. He’s been shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

He held daily talks with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu’s envoy Isaac Molho. He met with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Nothing he proposed washes. Reports suggest a reformulated plan. It’s old wine in new bottles. It’s duplicitous. It’s meaningless. It says one thing. It means another. It calls for:

  • freezing construction outside major settlement blocs; words belie longstanding policy; Netanyahu prioritizes expanded development; so do most Knesset members;
  • releasing 103 Palestinian prisoners within six months; multiples more will be arrested; freed ones are rearrested;
  • advancing Palestinian economic projects; ones planned benefit Israel and Western interests alone; and
  • talks based on 1967 borders.

Netanyahu prioritizes permanent occupation, settlement expansions, expanded development; exploiting Palestinian resources, and militarized rule.

He refuses final status talks. He wants all valued Judea and Sumaria areas Judaized. He wants Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive capital.

He wants unchallenged Israeli domination. He prioritizes Israel’s Greater Middle East agenda. Divide, conquer and control define it.

Israel’s the only country without fixed borders. It wants them expanded. It wants parts of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

It wants Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Arabs comprise one-fifth of its population. They’re marginalized, denied and persecuted. They’re persona non grata. They’re virtual non-people.

Peace talks were stillborn from inception. Israel deplores it. Subverting it is prioritized. Longstanding policy prioritizes:

  • permanent militarized occupation;
  • “maximum land with minimum Arabs;”
  • dispossessing Palestinians from areas Israel wants exclusively for Jews;
  • annexing all valued parts of Judea and Sumaria;
  • controlling Greater Jerusalem;
  • claiming it as Israel’s exclusive capital;
  • establishing settlements, military bases, free-firing zones, commercial locations, tourist sites, nature reserves; no-go areas, Jews-only roads, checkpoints, other barriers, and other exclusively Jewish areas;
  • stealing Palestinian resources; and
  • cracking down hard on resisters.

So-called “territorial compromise” and “land for peace” are code terms. They’re meaningless. Equity, justice, and Palestinian liberation are non-starters.

From 1967 to today, Israel rejected the PLO as a legitimate peace partner. Negotiations were rigged to fail. Israel took full advantage. It still does.

Peace process deception is policy. It’s a charade. It’s always been that way. It’s no different now. Oslo was a spectacular failure. Israel planned it that way. Arafat went along. He betrayed his own people. He did so disgracefully.

Abbas was chief Palestinian negotiator. He’s a longtime Israeli collaborator. He sold out for benefits he derives. He amassed enormous wealth.

He’s Israel’s man in Palestine. He’s Palestine’s illegitimate president. Israel rigged his election. His term expired in January 2009.

In January 2006, Palestinians elected Hamas to govern. Israel prevents their parliamentarians from doing so.

They’re isolated in Gaza. They’re treated like criminals. They’re arrested and imprisoned. They’re excluded from peace talks. Doing so alone dooms them.

Lowenstein represents Kerry. He does so in his absence. He’s been pressuring Abbas to go along. Washington wants unconditional surrender. Don’t bet it won’t happen. It did before. It may now.

Israel concedes nothing. Promises made are broken. Israeli deals aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Israel’s a rogue state. So is America. They’re no peace partners. They never were. They aren’t now.

The prophet Mohammed once said “Deeds are examined by the intentions behind them.” Israeli ones were never good. They’re one- way. They’re duplicitous. They’re unbending. They’re hardline. They’re unforgiving. They’re ruthless.

Palestinian liberation depends on them alone. It’s always been that way. It’s no different now. Their longterm struggle continues. Hopefully one day they’ll succeed.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/middle-east-continues-to-boil/

Last year, the then British Agriculture Minister Jim Paice told the Cereals 2012 conference that the public is softening its views towards GM crops (1). He said more work needed to be done to communicate the ‘full facts’ about GM crops. He stated:

“GM is not the panacea and it isn’t going to produce all the food on its own, but it has a role to play as long as it is applied safely and all the tests on its application are properly carried out… But yes… I do believe that the famous tanker is beginning to turn.”

Reality check for Jim Paice: the public is not ‘softening’ its views, no matter how hard the GM sector tries to soften us up. Moreover, just whose version of the ‘full facts’ are we to be subjected to? Those of the GM sector?

As if Paice’s words were not worrying enough, even more alarming were the comments last year from the British Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson. He called concerns over the use of GM foods “complete nonsense” in an attack on public concerns about GMOs (2):

“Emphatically we should be looking at GM … I’m very clear it would be a good thing… The trouble is all this stuff about Frankenstein foods and putting poisons in foods. There are real benefits, and what you’ve got to do is sell the real environmental benefits. Those benefits include a reduction in the use of pesticides because some GM crops are pest-resistant.”

Paterson also said that consumers were already unwittingly eating GM food on a regular basis, so concerns about human health are misplaced:

 “There’s about 160 million hectares of GM being grown around the world. There isn’t a single piece of meat being served [in a typicalLondon restaurant] where a bullock hasn’t eaten some GM feed. So it’s a complete nonsense. But, the humbug! You know, large amounts of GM products are used across Europe.”

 So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth, or more aptly, from a minister acting as a front for the pro-GM lobby – GM foods are safe simply because people do not know they are eating it, have no say in eating it and have not dropped dead from eating it. Perhaps Patterson would like to consult the mounting research that contradicts his assertions pertaining to the health impacts.

 Such playground logic may wash well in certain quarters, but should we expect such inanity from a senior politician? You do not have to necessarily be a dyed in the wool sceptic to conclude that Paterson’s knowledge of the issues is limited at best and that his words have all the subtlety of a glossy pro-GM brochure.

 In a June 2013 speech, Paterson was still peddling the same line and stated that “seven million children” had gone blind or died over the past 15 years because “every attempt” to introduce a GM rice fortified with sight-saving vitamin A had “been thwarted.” Very emotive and simplistic stuff, which conveniently overlooks wider more complex issues related to food poverty.

Surpringly, however, one of the most damning indictments of Paterson’s recent speech came not from expected anti-GM sources, but from millionaire MP Zac Goldsmith, who is a member of the Conservative Party to which Paterson also belongs. Goldsmith accused his fellow party member of making “nonsensical” claims about the benefits of GM technology, claiming that Paterson is a puppet of the industry and does not understand the dangers genetically modified crops pose to the ecosystem.

Speaking to The Independent newspaper on 3 July, Mr Goldsmith said:

“Any half-way decent GM enthusiast with a scientific background would have blushed during much of the speech Owen Paterson made. You have to wonder about the government’s gung-ho attitude to GM… It undermines his credibility on this issue and makes the government look very silly… I think he’s falling into a trap over GM and I don’t think he understands the issue. He’s swallowed the industry line hook, line and sinker without talking to anyone with a different view. When designing policy that’s a dangerous thing, and I’m concerned big business is framing the debate for the government… The story so far suggests that GM is predominantly about the industry getting greater control over the food chain, rather than alleviating poverty or environmental concerns.” (3)

Is Paterson unaware of the issues related to the hijack of food and agriculture by powerful agribusiness, the lax regulations concerning its activities and the seed patenting and monopolies and resultant difficulties faced by farmers in places like India (4,5)?

Is he also unaware of the documented health risks or the actual efficacy or lack of agricultural benefits derived from GMOs (6,7,8,9,10)?

 Or is he content to become part of the problem by kowtowing to the massive well-documented GMO industry pressures and its global PR machine, which receives full and active support from the US State Department (11,12)?

 Based on the overwhelming evidence, it is Paterson who is talking complete nonsense. In response to Patterson, Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said:

“GM crops are not cheaper, they use more pesticides in America not less, and they haven’t increased yields – so Mr Paterson has got most of his facts wrong. He talks about embracing new technology, but there are better ways of breeding crops now that do produce bigger yields, are resistant to drought and salinity. They are helping produce high yields in Africa right now. The minister’s obsession with GM really is backward-looking.” (13)

Melchett also says:

“Owen Patterson is wrong to claim that GM crops are good for the environment.  The UK Government’s own farm scale experiment showed that overall the GM crops were worse for British wildlife. US Government figures show that overall pesticide use has increased since GM crops have been grown there because, as scientists opposed to GM predicted, superweeds and resistant insects have multiplied. The recent British Science Association survey showed public concern has not changed, and the number of people saying that GM food should be encouraged dropped from 46 per cent in 2002 to 27 per cent in 2012. Owen Patterson says that people are eating meat from animals fed of GM feed without realising it. That is because the British Government has consistently opposed moves to label to give consumers accurate information, and he should put that right by immediately introducing compulsory labelling of meat and milk from animals fed on GM feed.” (2)

Friends of the Earth’s senior food and farming campaigner Clare Oxborrow has said:

“Owen Paterson’s claims that we need GM crops simply don’t stack up. The industrial farming system, which GM aggravates, has been instrumental in causing the global food crisis we currently face. A fresh approach to agriculture is urgently needed to serve up sustainable diets globally, including reduced meat-consumption in wealthy nations and an end to food crops being used for biofuels.” (14)

Eight European countries have banned the production of GM crops: Poland, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, and Bulgaria. In nearly 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and most of the countries in Europe have either banned GM crop production outright, or have put in place extremely tight restrictions on the production and use of GM products.

Even though GM crops are prevalent in the US, there was significant concern from scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to the FDA allowing GM products into the food chain. The concerns of the scientists were ignored, and by the time the public became aware, the GM products were firmly embedded into the US food production chain (15).

FDA scientists had continually warned regulators that GM crops could create unpredictable and hard to detect side effects, including allergies, toxin production, nutritional problems, and new diseases. They recommended that long-term studies were needed to fully assess the effect of GM foods on other crops, the ecosystem, and animal and human health, but these warnings were ignored.

In India, continued use of GM modified cotton has reduced yields, and the cotton bollworm has developed a resistance to the GM crops which contain the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) toxin (16).

The claims that the use of GM crops reduce the use of pesticides do not hold up in either. Research by a Washington State University team found that the use of herbicides and insecticides has increased dramatically since GM crops were introduced in the US in 1996 (17).

Researchers at the University of Arizona found that multi-toxin GM crops (which are the most technologically advanced crops in use) quickly lose their ability to fend off pests, which is likely to lead to a complete failure of the GMO (18).

Moreover, there has been no proper research or monitoring by the companies producing GM crops of the effects on humans consuming products made with GM crops. Scientists like Professor Seralini in France who have published studies critical of GM crops and food have suffered a wave of designed to undermine their work by supporters of the technology.

Minister Patterson’s pro-GM attitudes come as little surprise, though. The cosy relationship between governments and the biotech companies is well known, especially in the US (19), where there has been legislation passed that allows biotech companies to be totally free of any legal ramifications if their products cause harm (20).

In the UK, Genewatch UK has revealed how Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, and BASF (all biotech companies) under the guise of the ‘Agricultural Biotechnology Council’ held a meeting in June 2012 with government ministers and academics to formulate a ‘strategy’ to promote GMO in schools, to ‘educate’ the public, to ‘improve’ the regulatory framework favouring GMOs, and encouraging farmers to change their farming methods to fully accommodate the GMO products the companies produce.

Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK said:

“This dodgy deal shows breath-taking arrogance by Monsanto and its friends, who seem to think that British farming must be destroyed to suit their own commercial interest and British children should be brainwashed to support their business strategies. It is shocking that the Government has done a secret deal to promote GM in Britain and abroad when US farmers are struggling to tackle superweeds and superpests caused by growing GM crops. Ministers should not prop up this failing industry by pushing Monsanto’s propaganda in British schools at taxpayers’ expense.” (21)

Despite recent euphoric claims by some quarters that Monsanto has been placed on the back foot, this is far from the truth. The biotech sector continues to try to hijack legislation for its own gain, as evidenced by the 2013 Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India bill 2013 (22), and is determined to continue to push it global agenda (23).

Maybe politicians such as Owen Paterson are content to be willing servants for the wider military-industrial complex agenda that GMOs (and big dam, oil-dependent chemical agriculture) are tied to. And that agenda encompasses an integrated strategy that involves the (near) monopoly ownership and control of all water, seeds, food and food retail, land and energy, which in turn both fuels and is fuelled by conflict, debt and dependency (24,25,26,27). From Syria and Pakistan, to Egypt, India and Europe, we see this agenda being played out via conflict or war, trade agreements (28,29) and the molding of political agendas (30).

For the big corporations and the families and individuals behind them, profit and ‘full spectrum global dominance’ of resources, nations and people is the ultimate aim.

 Notes

1)  http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/arable/britain-beginning-to-accept-gm-technology-%E2%80%93-paice%C2%A0/47649.article

2) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9733589/Food-minister-Owen-Paterson-backs-GM-crops.html

3) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-mp-says-progm-environment-secretary-owen-paterson-is-industry-puppet-8686133.html

4) http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=573

5)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ9vAULNFzc

6) http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/new-study-confirms-wheat-autism-link-0

7) http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/it-time-acknowledge-roundup-herbicide-contraceptive

8) http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers

9) http://vidarbhatimes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/maharashtra-reports-btcotton-failure-in.html?m=1

10) http://www.globalresearch.ca/india-genetically-modified-seeds-agricultural-productivity-and-political-fraud/5328227

11) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/15/diplomatic-cables-gm-lobbying-us

12) http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Biotech_Report_US.pdf

13) http://www.naturalproductsonline.co.uk/melchett-slams-patersons-backward-looking-patronizing-obsession-with-gm/

14) http://www.tbfreeengland.uk.com/index.php/patterson-says-gm-crops-are-a-good-thing/

15)  http://www.nongmoreport.com/articles/october2011/FDAignoredscientistswarningsGMfoods.php

16) http://www.globalresearch.ca/harvest-of-hypocrisy-farmers-being-blamed-for-gmo-crop-failures/5322807

17) http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/10/how-gmos-ramped-us-pesticide-use

18)http://www.naturalnews.com/040120_gm_crops_monsanto_chemical_resistance.html

19) http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-controls-both-the-white-house-and-the-us-congress/5336422

20) http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-protection-act-signed-by-obama-gmo-bill-written-by-monsanto-signed-into-law/5329388

21) http://orderoftruth.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/uk-government-patterson-calls-gm-food-concerns-complete-nonsense-and-humbug-we-take-a-closer-look-at-his-lies-monsanto-gm/

22) http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/Press/Controversial-BRAI-Bill-introduced-in-Lok-Sabha/

23) http://rt.com/op-edge/monsanto-deception-game-europe-gmo-261/

24) http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?280234

25) http://www.globalresearch.ca/sowing-the-seeds-of-famine-in-ethiopia/366

26) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-india-up-for-sale-to-western-corporate-capital/5332214

27) http://www.globalresearch.ca/genetic-engineering-and-the-gmo-industry-corporate-hijacking-of-food-and-agriiculture/5317339

28) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-free-trade-agreement-a-corporate-stitch-up-by-any-other-name/5339789

29) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-free-trade-agreement-a-corporate-stitch-up-by-any-other-name/5339789

30) http://www.countercurrents.org/todhunter100213.htm

The State Department’s decision to hand over control to the oil industry to evaluate its own environmental performance on the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has led to a colossal oversight.

Neither Secretary of State John Kerry nor President Barack Obama could tell you the exact route that the pipeline would travel through countless neighborhoods, farms, waterways and scenic areas between Alberta’s tar sands and oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

A letter from the State Department denying an information request to a California man confirms that the exact route of the Keystone XL export pipeline remains a mystery, as DeSmog recently revealed.

Generic maps exist on both the State Department and TransCanada websites, but maps with precise GIS data remain the proprietary information of TransCanada and its chosen oil industry contractors.

Thomas Bachand, a San Francisco-based photographer, author, and web developer discovered this the hard way. A year and a half after he first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the GIS data for his Keystone Mapping Project, Mr. Bachand received a troubling response from the State Department denying his request.

In the letter, the State Department admits that it doesn’t have any idea about the exact pipeline route – and that it never asked for the basic mapping data to evaluate the potential impacts of the pipeline.

Where will KXL intersect rivers or cross ponds that provide drinking water? What prized hunting grounds and fishing holes might be ruined by a spill? How can communities prepare for possible incidents? 

The U.S. State Department seems confident in letting the tar sands industry – led in this instance by TransCanada, whose notorious track record with Keystone 1 includes more than a dozen spills in its first year of operation - place its pipeline wherever it wishes.

“[State] does not have copies of records responsive to your request because the Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone pipeline project was created by Cardno ENTRIX under a contract financed by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP, and not the U.S. government,” reads the State Department’s letter denying Bachand’s information request.

“Neither Cardno ENTRIX nor TransCanada ever submitted GIS information to the Department of State, nor was either corporation required to do so. The information that you request, if it exists, is therefore neither physically nor constructively under the control of the Department of State and we are therefore unable to comply with your FOIA request.”

As Mr. Bachand pointed out in a July 3 blog post: ”Without this digital mapping information, the Keystone XL’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) are incomplete and cannot be evaluated for environmental impacts.”

When Mr. Bachand asked TransCanada for GIS data, the company said it couldn’t supply it due to “national security” concerns.

Mr. Bachand’s failed attempt to obtain basic information on the pipeline route exemplifies the recurring problems with the Obama State Department’s botched review of the environmental and climate impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline: huge information gaps, conflicts of interest, industry lobbying muscle and bureaucratic bungling of the process.

As it turns out, TransCanada and its contractors have complete control over critical aspects of the review process, calling into question what else we don’t know thanks to the Obama administration’s poor handling of the most controversial pipeline decision in recent history.

API Dues-Paying Member Did Latest SEIS

The State Department handed over responsibility for preparing the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to an American Petroleum Institute (API) dues-paying member, Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM Group) – a firm with historic ties to Big Tobacco, as well as two other Big Oil-tied contractors.

State originally redacted the biography of one of the co-authors of the environmental study, Andrew Bielakowski, who had worked on three previous TransCanada-sponsored studies for ERM Group. Adding to the scandal, ERM has a history of rubber-stamping ecologically hazardous pipelines, including two high-profile projects in the Caspian Sea and in Peru.

Since TransCanada’s June 2008 Keystone XL proposal, API has spent over $22 million lobbying at the federal level for the pipeline and tar sands expansion. Furthermore, two of API’s lobbyists tasked to do KXL influence peddling also have close ties to the Obama Administration.

Marty Durbin, the nephew of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), formerly lobbied for API on behalf of Keystone XL. Durbin was President Obama’s former U.S. Senate colleague from Illinois before Obama won the presidency in 2008.

API also hired Ogilvy Government Relations to lobby for Keystone XL in 2012, and one of Ogilvy’s key hired guns lobbying on behalf of API on KXL is Moses Mercado. In addition to serving as a key aide to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and as a super delegate representing Texas for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Mercado also served as campaign director in New Mexico for Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Unresolved Questions Plague State Department Review

Thomas Bachand asked all the right questions in his blog post reacting to the denial of his FOIA requesting the GIS route data.

“Did the DOS, TransCanada, and Cardno ENTRIX all fail to perform due diligence in this case only – or is this standard operating procedure?,” he asked. “Why hasn’t TransCanada supplied, Cardno ENTRIX seen fit to include, or the DOS requested, electronic data of such national importance? How does the DOS evaluate such national security, economic, and environmental interests without the electronic data?”

These are important questions that Secretary Kerry, and ultimately President Obama, must answer. The fact that neither man has any clue where TransCanada intends to place the Keystone XL pipeline is a troubling revelation that demands immediate and thorough scrutiny.

Without this basic information on where the pipeline would be located, how can the State Department and the White House form an educated analysis of the potential impacts of a tar sands dilbit spill in a neighborhood like Mayflower, Arkansas?

How many schools, backyards, drinking water sources and treasured fishing and hunting spots might be in danger of being ruined by a spill? The answer is, nobody knows, except the oil industry.

Imagine that concerned citizens in northern states hadn’t raised their voices to question TransCanada’s intention to run the pipeline across the heart of the Ogallala Aquifer, their drinking water supply and the spigot for huge swaths of American agriculture. What else wouldn’t we learn about the potentially devastating impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline?

Keystone XL is not only a dangerous gamble with our health and climate, it is also turning out to be a great example of the oil industry’s iron grip on our democracy.

Obama, Mandela and Dangerous Mythology

July 9th, 2013 by Margaret Kimberley

The Obamas’ visit to South Africa, for people of color on both sides of the Atlantic, is heavy on symbolism and photo-ops, but devoid of any substance for those who hunger and thirst for justice. The ANC won the flag at the end of apartheid, but South Africa’s white elite kept the land and the money, after allowing a few well-connected black faces into high places.

Centuries of oppression have made black people particularly susceptible to the tempting siren song which comes with the image of black success. It is harmless to want a black person to win some coveted acclaim like a Pulitzer prize or even an Oscar, but quite another to be rendered stupid by the sight. Our history teaches us that we must be wary lest we be carried away by emotion that is without substance.

Barack Obama is the most obvious example of this phenomenon and its pernicious influence. A black man being elected as president of the United States was long hoped for but seemingly impossible. The realization of what had long been imagined and the often racist attacks against this dream create common cause with Obama and intense personal happiness on his behalf. Yet what seems inspirational is in fact anything but. The feelings of affection for Obama have been a negative force which impede rational thought and political common sense. The people who most epitomized the American search for true democracy have given it up completely because they love seeing a black man wearing a POTUS jacket and get angry when white people don’t like seeing it.

That history of struggle and the group identity it creates have not been limited to the American experience. The decades long fight against the racist apartheid system in South Africa was supported by millions of people in this country too. Jim Crow was America’s own apartheid. It is only logical that the sight of black people being treated cruelly in the name of white supremacy would elicit feelings of affinity in this country and around the world.

Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years of imprisonment and his subsequent election as president created a surge of pride and joy among black people everywhere. Unfortunately we did not truly understand what we were witnessing. These events came about as a result of forces unacknowledged in America and they also came with a very high price.

The name of the Angolan town Cuito Cuanavale means little to all but a handful of Americans but it lies at the heart of the story of apartheid’s end. At Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 Cuban troops defeated the South African army and in so doing sealed apartheid’s fate.

It is important to know how apartheid ended, lest useless stories about a miraculously changed system and a peaceful grandfatherly figure confuse us and warp our consciousness. Mandela was freed because of armed struggle and not out of benevolence. He was also freed because the African National Congress miscalculated and made concessions which have since resulted in terrible poverty and powerlessness for black people in South Africa. By their own admission, some of his comrades concede that they were unprepared for the determination of the white majority to hold the purse strings even as they gave up political power.

Now the masses of black South Africans are as poor as they were during the time of political terror. The Sharpeville massacre of 1960 which galvanized the world against South Africa was repeated in 2012 when 34 striking miners were killed by police at Marikana. The Marikana massacre made a mockery of the hope which millions of people had for the ANC and its political success.

Obama’s recent visit to South Africa when the 94 year old Mandela was hospitalized created a golden opportunity for analysis and a questioning of long held assumptions about both men but the irrefutable fact is this. The personal triumphs of these two individuals have not translated into success for black people in either of their countries.

The victory of international finance capital wreaks havoc on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. In the U.S. black people have reached their political and economic low point during the Obama years. The gains won 50 years ago have been reversed while unemployment, mass incarceration, and Obama supported austerity measures have all conspired to undo the progress which was so dearly paid for.

Obama’s visit to Africa as Mandela lay critically ill brought very sincere but very deeply misled people to remember all of the wrong things. It isn’t true that black people benefit from the political success of certain individuals. It isn’t true that role models undo systemic cruelty or that racism ends because of their presence or that white people see or treat the masses of black people any differently when one black person reaches a high office.

The maudlin sentiment was all built on lies. Mandela fought the good fight for many years and is worthy of respect for that reason alone. But his passing should be a moment to reflect on his mistakes and on how they can be avoided by people struggling to break free from injustice. Obama’s career is a story of ambition and high cynicism which met opportunity. There is little to learn from his story except how to spot the next evil doer following in his footsteps.

It is high time that myths were called what they are. They are stories which may help explain our feelings but they are stories nonetheless and they do us no good.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.

Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

At least 54 people have been reported killed outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo on the morning of July 8. Witnesses from the ongoing sit-in organized by the Muslim Brotherhood demanding the return of President Mohamed Morsi to office say that the shooting was unprovoked and resulted in the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which seized power on July 3 immediately denied responsibility for the massacre and claimed that their soldiers were attacked by armed people within the crowd. Military spokespersons say that their forces were merely acting in self-defense against purported “terrorists.”

Medical witnesses on the scene of the shooting said that a field hospital had been established prior to the massacre. During the early morning hours, tear gas had been fired in an effort to prevent additional people from joining the sit-in.

President Morsi is rumored to be held in the Republican Guard building and the protesters are demanding his immediate release and restoration to office. Participants were conducting morning prayers when the tear gas and firing of live ammunition began.

According to a report published by the state-run Ahram Online, “At first, around dawn, we had live ammunition wounds coming in; one guy was shot in the neck. We had over 40 dead, including a ten-month-old child and a 65-year-old woman,” said Dr Hassan Ahmed, an emergency medic at Cairo’s Qasr Al-Aini hospital, who had been manning the field hospital at the sit-in. (July 8)

“We had many birdshot wounds to the face, seven to the eyes. Ambulances were getting in but only a handful, we had hundreds who needed proper medical assistance, so we had to deal with the patients here and make priorities.”

Developments on July 8 have taken the political and class conflicts in Egypt to new levels. With the military removing the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) government of President Mohamed Morsi from office on July 3, the polarization between the political forces opposed to the ousted administration and its supporters has risen substantially.

Not only is the struggle being waged between the supporters and opponents of the FJP government but Islamist parties outside the Muslim Brotherhood have also broken with Morsi. The Al Nour Party, a Salafist group, appeared at the press conference where Gen. Abdul Fatah al-Sisi announced the formation of an interim governing council on July 3.

The military had given the FJP government a 48-hour ultimatum on July 1 to either form a broader government moving towards new elections within six months or face removal. The Tamarod or Rebel movement has been credited with launching a petition campaign and mass demonstrations which demanded the resignation of the president.

Although millions were reported to have demonstrated in support of the demand that Morsi be forced to call early elections, it was the SCAF that acted decisively in taking control of the presidential office, refusing to take orders from the president, closing down media outlets that support the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting key political leaders including the president and announcing to the people of Egypt and the internationally community that the government of the FJP was no longer in charge of the state.

Since the developments of July 3 various parties and coalitions in opposition to President Morsi have supported the military actions and characterized these developments as part of the ongoing revolutionary process in Egypt which began on January 25, 2011. On February 11, 2011, after weeks of strikes, rebellions and mass demonstrations, the SCAF took control and forced the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak out of office, jailing the former leader, members of his family and other key figures in the government.

Although on both occasions the military and other political forces inside the country have said that the army was acting on behalf of the people in an effort to preserve the Egyptian state, these scenarios reveal a key weakness in the democratic movement and that is the question of the seizure of power. One element missing from the uprisings of 2011 and 2013 is the inability of the workers, youth, farmers, intellectuals and other democratic forces to seize power in their own names.

Impact of the July 8 Incident on the Current Crisis

Since the July 3 coup by the military, new problems have surfaced in the attempt to form the proposed interim governing council. Later in the aftermath of the installation of interim President Adly Mansour, chief of the Constitutional Court, another announcement was made on July 6 by the SCAF that former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, had been appointed as prime minister of the purported transitional body.

Yet there were problems associated with this appointment of ElBaradei when leaders from the Al Nour Party objected. Later it was reported that Ziad Bahaa of the Social Democratic Party had agreed to take the position of premier.

Nonetheless, after the massacre on July 8, the Al Nour Party withdrew from talks on the formation of the interim government and national reconciliation. Two other Islamist parties, the Strong Egypt and Al Wasat have also condemned the killings.

ElBaradei condemned the shooting at the Republican Guard headquarters ahead of the announcement by the SCAF of a military-appointed commission to investigate the killings. However, the military continued to justify its actions by releasing a video that claimed to show a gunman outside the building attacking the military.

Internationally throughout the region there have been statements of condemnation against the massacre. The governments of Turkey, Gaza, Qatar, the European Union and Iran deplored the killings and called for restraint by all political forces inside the country including the military.

Although there have been differences of opinion over whether to characterize the military actions of July 3 as a “coup”, the massacre on July 8 will inevitability change the course of the debate. In whose interests would the military be acting by unleashing such violence on the people when in fact the FJP government had already been overthrown?

The Role of the U.S. Government in the Egyptian Crisis

Since the late 1970s, successive U.S. administrations have poured tens of billions of dollars into the Egyptian military and economy. The defense forces have played a dominant role within the Egyptian state since the seizure of power by the Free Officers Movement headed by Gamel Abdel Nasser and Mohamed Naguib in 1952.

Later a split between the nationalist forces headed by Nasser and the Muslim Brotherhood which supported Naguib resulted in the banning of the Islamist group by the Revolutionary Command Council then headed by Nasser. The Muslim Brotherhood was accused of attempting to assassinate Nasser on more than one occasion.

The struggle between the Soviet Union and the U.S. was also played out within the framework of developments in Egypt after 1954. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal which was built and owned by Britain and France in 1956 prompting an invasion by London, Paris and Tel Aviv.

The war ended soon when the U.S. demanded the withdrawal of British troops. The U.S. viewed the French and British actions against Egypt as an effort to reclaim Europe’s supremacy within world imperialism after being supplanted by Washington in the aftermath of World War II.

Nonetheless, under Anwar Sadat, who took over after the death of President Nasser in 1970, Egypt moved further towards the U.S. position. By 1977-78, Egypt had negotiated a separate peace treaty with the State of Israel becoming isolated for years within Africa, the Arab world and the Islamic community in general.

In exchange for this separate peace treaty, known as the Camp David Accords, Egypt became the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance only second to Tel Aviv. The Pentagon and the CIA still welds tremendous influence within the Egyptian military which maintains business interests that converge with capitalist corporations based in North America.

Consequently, the U.S. does not want a genuine revolution in Egypt. The implications of the seizure of power by workers, youth, revolutionary intellectuals and farmers would reverberate throughout the continent and the entire region.

In response to the coup, the Obama administration has refused to characterize the military overthrow of the elected government of the FJP as a putsch. Nonetheless, various media reports indicated that there were close consultations between the Pentagon and the Egyptian top military brass in the days leading up to their taking control of the government.

On July 8, the White House through its spokesman, refused to make a political assessment of the situation in Egypt. It had already been stated by a leading member of the U.S. Congress that Washington would not suspend aid to the government in Egypt despite the overthrow of an elected government.

Contrasting this approach was that of the African Union (AU), the continental organization that represents 54 states. The AU took immediate action to suspend Egypt from this regional body pending the holding of elections and the return to civilian government.

In all probability, as within the tradition of the U.S. and other imperialist-allied states, Washington and its partners in North Africa and the Middle East will not follow the political direction of the AU. Although some political forces opposed to the administration of Morsi have welcomed the coup by the SCAF, it remains to be seen how long this alliance will continue.

During 2011 and 2012, most of the principled forces within the democratic movement worked to expedite the rule of the military. The problems associated with the candidacy of former Air Force Commander Ahmed Shafik during the June 2012 run-off elections was that Shafik had been a leading official in the Egyptian military under the National Democratic Party government of the deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.

Military rule during such a profound economic and political crisis may not be capable of maintaining the confidence and support of the Egyptian people. New alliances may soon emerge in efforts to foster national reconciliation and the realization of genuine democracy.

The Class Character of the Military in Africa

As mentioned above, the leadership of the Egyptian military has been closely allied with the Pentagon, the CIA and the State of Israel for three decades. The top echelons of the army constitute a major and dominate element within the national bourgeoisie of the country.

Perhaps the most accurate and profound analysis of the class position and role of the military in Africa was advanced by the former President of the First Republic of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. In his book entitled “Class Struggle in Africa”, published in 1970, a chapter in this work, “Reactionary Cliques Among Armed Forces and Police,” Nkrumah draws a direct link between the military leadership and the imperialist bourgeoisie.

According to Nkrumah, “The majority of Africa’s armed forces and police came into existence as part of the colonial coercive apparatus. Few of their members joined national liberation struggles. For the most part, they were employed to perform police operations against it.” (p. 41)

This same chapter continues pointing out that “A large number were men who had held educational positions in the army, and were drawn from among the educated petty bourgeoisie. These and other older officials at present serving in Africa’s armies were trained by colonialists or in military colleges of the West, and are therefore oriented towards Western norms and ideals. They may be said to form, because of their rank, part of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie, with a stake in the capitalist path of development.”

Nkrumah goes on to observe also “When neocolonialist coups take place, members of the armed forces, the police and the bureaucracy work together….Bureaucrats alone cannot overthrow a government; and the military and police have not the expertise to administer a country. Therefore they combine, and bring about a state of affairs strikingly similar to that which operated in colonial times, when the colonial government depended on the civil service, on the army and police, and on the support of traditional rulers.” (p. 42)

Therefore under capitalism and imperialism the military works against the interests of the people. When the capitalist state is overthrown and the people under the leadership of the workers and farmers take political control of the revolution, the military leadership must either act against its own class interests or be swept aside. Elements within the lower ranks of the army may join the revolution but they must be aligned with the interests of the workers and other democratic forces inside the country.

Nkrumah stresses that “The solution to the problem lies in the politicizing of the army and police. Both must be firmly under the control of the socialist revolutionary party, and commissions entrusted only to those who are fully committed to revolutionary socialist principles. ..When the army intervenes in politics it does so as part of the class forces and the struggle between imperialism and socialist revolution.” (p. 43)

Moreover, Nkrumah points out “The army, after it seizes power, gives its weight to one or the other side. In this respect, the army is not merely an instrument in the struggle, but becomes itself part of the class struggle, thus tearing down the artificial wall separating it from the socio-economic and political transformations in society. The theory of the ‘neutrality’ of the armed forces, consistently propagated by the exploiting classes, is thereby proved to be false. (pp. 43-44)

If Egypt is to overcome its political crisis the national democratic forces must forge alliances that place the interests of the workers and farmers at the center of the revolutionary movement. As the military was eventually opposed by the democratic forces in 2011 and 2012, this same set of circumstances in 2013 has illustrated even clearer the need for independent revolutionary political organizing and mass mobilization.

The military leadership realizes that the question of legitimacy, as has been raised by the FJP and its allies in reference to the SCAF, will be a major source of debate and struggle in the aftermath of the events of both July 3 and July 8. Revolutionary legitimacy can only be guaranteed by the leadership of the workers and the national patriotic forces organized into a political party or alliance that is principled in its objectives and organizational practice.

Of course the Egyptian people have the right to reach their own solutions based upon the concrete conditions inside the country. Anti-imperialists and anti-war forces must insist upon the non-interference in the internal affairs of the country and the region.

A rapid diminishing of imperialist influence in Egypt will provide the political space for the masses to reach their own solutions to the problems of the state and society. The character of these solutions will have a profound impact on the people’s struggles throughout the region and indeed within the imperialist states themselves.

Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire

 

In order to discuss the use of armed private military and security companies toprotect UN personnel and UN premises in the field as well as the use of such companies in United Nations peace and humanitarian operations, the UN is convening an Expert Panel Event in its New York Headquarters, on 31 July2013.The present Working Group on the use of mercenaries organizes the Panel.

 In other words, the privatization of UN peace and humanitarian operations to theprivate sector: an objective of several billion dollars annually the cartel of privatemilitary and security companies have coveted for many years.

Since Gregory Starr became United Nations Under-­Secretary General for Safetyand Security in 2009 and started to outsource UN security to the private sector,the UN Department of Safety and Security has been elaborating guidelines andcriteria to legitimize the use private military and security companies since the useof such companies has had a negative image due to their implication in humanrights violations.

In 2012, the Department published a United Nations Policy on Armed PrivateSecurity Companies and Guidelines on the Use of Armed Security Services fromPrivate Security Companies.According to the organizers the objective of this Expert Panel is to foster discussion and elicit responses from civil society on the Guidelines. The results will be included in the next annual report of the Working Group to the General Assembly. However, one may raise the question as to whether one of the main objectives of the July Expert Panel is not to present and endorse such UN Guidelines by achieving a further step in legitimizing the use of private military and security companies by the UN system.

It is interesting to note that Gregory Starr before joining the United Nations wasFormer Director of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in the State Department. He was one of the prime movers to outsource the security of USAdiplomats to private companies such as Blackwater.

Within this context one should remember that two former UN Secretary-­Generals,have made proposals to provide the World Organization with a small group of permanent forces that could be at the disposal of the Organization in accordancewith the UN Charter spirit.

Indeed, UN Member States have yet to implement a standing UN army orstanding UN police force as originally envisioned in the UN Charter. As a result,UN peace operations have been based on ad hoc coalitions of willing states witha number of dysfunctions of UN peace and security operations such as the lackby UN Member States to make available standing peace operations personneland resources[1].

The UN Department of Safety and Security seems to have opted for privatizingUN security.

However, one should not forget that Private Military and Security Companies(PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers ofphysical force, including corsairs, privateers, and mercenaries[2].

In the XIX and beginning of the XXth. century, nations adopted internationalinstruments to regulate the activities of corsairs, privateers, and buccaneers[3].

Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the nineteenth andtwentieth centuries, reappeared in the 1960s during the decolonization periodoperating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under UN auspices, a Convention wasadopted which outlawed and criminalized their activities[4].

In order to avoid the stigma of the labeling name “mercenaries”, these non-­state entities of free-­lance fighters have changed it from “dogs of war” to “private military companies” in the 90s, when Executive Outcomes and Sandline were created, to “private contractors” and “private security companies” with the intervention of United States in Afghanistan and Iraq and the development of the security industry at the beginning of the XXIst century and more recently to“private security service providers” with the development of a security industry cartel.

The widespread outsourcing of military and security functions to private military and security companies (PMSCs) by governments, intergovernmental and non-­governmental organizations, and multinational companies in situations of low-­intensity conflict, armed conflict, post conflict, international relief, and contingency operations has been a major phenomenon in recent years.

 In many instances private companies are contracted in order to avoid direct responsibility. The useof these private contractors to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thehuman rights violations in which they have been involved have been the focus ofinternational attention. It has generated debate about the roles of PMSCs, thenorms under which they should operate, and how to monitor their activities.

The United Nations Commission of Human Rights, the predecessor the UN Human Rights Council, alerted by such trends established in 2005 the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries with the mandate to analyze these modern trends of mercenarism.

In 2010, the UN Working Group, after having completed its six-­year mandate,submitted to the United Nations a draft convention it had elaborated to regulateand monitor private military and security companies.

There have been a number of cases in Afghanistan and elsewhere of collusion of international security companies in government corruption and illegal businesses. Such activities included creating insecurity with the objective of securing their business and expanding contracts by providing anti-­government groups with bribes to ensure the movement of military and humanitarian convoys,as well as providing havens for suspects or alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and crimes against humanity and recruitment facilities of security companies. There is also information indicating that a number of PMSCs,contracted by the US government, have a privileged relationship with the Talibans.

The draft convention contains a series of procedures to regulate these companies at the national and international levels. It also envisages measures of control for intergovernmental organizations such as United Nations and NATO as well as the prohibition to outsource to the private sector a number of inherently state functions relating to the sovereignty of states.

 In many countries the number of private security personnel per 100,000inhabitants is much larger than the active police. Among these countries are; Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Coted’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala,

Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg,Panama, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey and the U.S.A.[5]

 Following the UN Working Group’ proposal of an international instrument toregulate and monitor the activities of private military and security companies, the United Nations Human Rights Council established an Intergovernmental openended working group to discuss and negotiate a possible convention.Although a majority of UN Member States is in favor of regulatory and control measures,the position of Western States is a total rejection of regulation and oversight mechanisms. Their position is understandable since the new booming and flourishing security industry is located in Western countries and particularly in the UK and the USA where seventy percent of PMSCs are found.

 It should be pointed out that parallel to the creation of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries and in order to avoid any international or state regulation as well as criticism for committing human rights violations, backed by the governments ofUnited Kingdom, United States and Switzerland the security industry with groups such as the Stability Operation Association (ISOA) of United States and theBritish Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC) launched in 2006the Swiss Initiative.

It comprises a number of self-­regulating agreements including the MontreuxDocument and the International Code of Conduct which has already been signedby almost 700 private military and security companies.

Among the almost 700 PMSC signatories of the Code one can find companies-such as Blackwater (which now figures as Academi after having changed twice its name), United Resources Group, G4S and its affiliate Armor Group or Triple Canopy, all involved in grave human rights all violations;  companies such as DynCorp, Blackwater, and Aegis (another company that has changed from Sandline), all with a troubled past; the Ugandan company Saracen Uganda Ltd. allegedly involved in training paramilitaries in Puntland, Somalia.

 All signatories of the International Code of Conduct have done it without yet anycontrol whatsoever. Oversight mechanisms, such as: (i) certification; (ii) auditing and monitoring; and (iii) and reporting will only be applied once the InternationalCode of Conduct Association is established.

Since the private military and security industry is not controlled by governments but regulates itself, and has generally been operating in a vacuum without respecting international humanitarian and human rights instruments, the latestdevelopment under the Swiss Initiative has been the establishment of an international association -­cartel-­ in Geneva to provide the legitimacy it needs inorder to obtain contracts from United Nations and intergovernmental organizations for peace and humanitarian operations.

 A conference is scheduled to take place in Geneva on 19-­20 September 2013 atwhich the Association will be formally established under Swiss Law and the firstBoard of Directors will be selected.

The Swiss Government, as the host state for the ICoCA, has pledged $467,500p.a. for the first two years, and indicated the possibility of further funding after thatperiod. The UK Government has committed GBP 300,000 as its initialcontribution. The United States and Australia also have indicated their intentionto contribute to the Association. This is in addition of the funding by the security industry, namely the subscription due for joining the Association and their annualfee in accordance with the company’s level of revenue.

The timing for convening the United Nations Expert Panel Event in its New York Headquarters, on 31 July 2013 to discuss the use of armed private military and security companies by the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies appears to be excellent unless  it has all been unintelligibly coordinated.

Notes

[1] Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, UN document A/55/305 – S/2000/809.

[2]Hin-Yan Liu, Leashing the Corporate Dogs of War: The Legal Implications of the Modern Private Military Company, 15 J. CONFLICT &SEC. L., 141–168 (2010).

[3]The 1856 Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law states in Article 1: “Privateering is, and remains, abolished.” Declaration of Paris (Apr. 16, 1856), in CONVENTIONS AND DECLARATIONS BETWEEN THE POWERS CONCERNING WAR, ARBITRATION AND NEUTRALITY 10 (1915) available at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/105?OpenDocument.

The 1907 Hague Convention Relating to the Conversion of Merchant Ships into Warships further expands on this rule. Article 1 of the Convention stipulates, “A merchant ship converted into a war-ship cannot have the rights and duties accruing to such vessels unless it is placed under the direct authority, immediate control, and responsibility of the Power whose flag it flies.” Convention Relative to the Conversion of Merchant Ships into War Ships (1907) in JAMES BROWN SCOTT, 2 THE HAGUE PEACE CONFERENCES OF 1899 AND 1907 423 (1909), available at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/210?OpenDocument.

[4]International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries art. 1, December 4, 1989, 2163 U.N.T.S. 75

[5]See Nicolas Florquin, Small Arms Survey 2011: States of Security, Geneva.

 

Reports suggest that 22 member of staff have resigned from the Egyptian arm of Al Jazeera after complaining of pro-Muslim Brotherhood bias within the organisation

Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, the Egyptian arm of the Qatari-funded broadcaster has suffered major embarrassment today after 22 staff members walked out over accusations of bias.

The 22 staff resigned on Monday over what they alleged was coverage that was out of sync with real events in Egypt, according to a report by the Gulf News website.

Anchor Karem Mahmoud announced that the staff resigned in protest against “biased coverage” of the recent events in Egypt. He explained that there was a lack of commitment and Al Jazeera professionalism in media coverage, stating, “the management in Doha provokes sedition among the Egyptian people and has an agenda against Egypt and other Arab countries.”

Mahmoud added that the management used to instruct each staff member to favour the Muslim Brotherhood.

He said that “there are instructions to us to telecast certain news”.

In February of this year, Ghaffar Hussain, contributing editor to The Commentator wrote, “Since the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power in Egypt, Al Jazeera has done all in its power to portray the group in a favourable light. Protests against the Brotherhood-dominated regime are presented as being led by violent thugs with no political grievances, while Morsi’s poorly constructed and shallow speeches are given positive coverage.”

Haggag Salama, a correspondent of the network in Luxor, had resigned on Sunday accusing it of “airing lies and misleading viewers”. He announced his resignation in a phone-in interview with Dream 2 channel.

Meanwhile, four Egyptian members of editorial staff at Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha resigned in protest against what they termed a “biased editorial policy” pertaining to the events in Egypt, Ala’a Al Aioti, a news producer, told Gulf News by phone.

Original reporting by Ayman Sharif for Gulf News

Copyright Gulf News, 2013

UNITED NATIONS, July 8 (RIA Novosti) – The Syrian government’s ambassador to the United Nations on Monday told reporters in New York that a cache of toxic chemicals, “enough to destroy a city” and presumably left by opposition forces, was discovered in northwestern Syria.

Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the cache included about 280 containers filled with various toxic substances, such as ethylene glycol, ethanolamine, diethanolamine and triethanolamine.

“This is enough to destroy a whole city, if not the whole country,” Ja’afari said, without mentioning the date when the discovery was made. “At the moment, an investigation is underway with regard to this batch of chemical weapons.”

The Syrian flag flies over Damascus

All the substances mentioned by Ja’afari are indeed harmful for humans, but are extensively used in various industrial and consumer products. None of them is considered a chemical weapon.

The Syrian ambassador said the cache was “controlled and supervised by armed anti-government groups.”

Both sides in the ongoing Syrian civil war have traded allegations regarding chemical weapons in recent months, with government officials accusing opposition forces of using chemical weapons against Assad’s military in a March attack outside of the northern city of Aleppo.

The Syrian diplomat invited a UN commission investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the organization’s high representative for disarmament affairs, Angela Kane, to visit his country with another inspection.

However, he said, inspections would only be possible in Aleppo, but not in other Syrian regions as previously proposed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Some 93,000 people are believed to have died since fighting broke out between Syrian government forces and rebels in March 2011, according to the latest UN figures.

Obama: El Más efectivo entre dos males

July 8th, 2013 by Arnold August

Primera parte:  “Democracia cubana” versus “democracia estadounidense”

Arnold August es politólogo, autor y conferencista, residente en Montreal.  Es autor del libro “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections” (La democracia en Cuba y las elecciones de 1997-98) publicado por la editorial José Martí.  Además aportó el capítulo “Socialism and Elections” (Socialismo y Elecciones) para el volumen titulado  “Cuban Socialism in a New Century:  Adversity, Survival and Renewal” (El socialismo cubano en un nuevo siglo: adversidad, supervivencia y renovación) de la University Press of Florida. Su más reciente libro se titula “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion” (Cuba y sus vecinos: Democracia en movimiento).

Julie Lévesque: Con respecto a la democracia en los EE.UU., en su libro “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion”, usted se refiere al menor de los dos males y a la ilusión sobre el cambio. ¿Podría ofrecernos un breve comentario sobre su análisis de Barack Obama?

Arnold August: En este libro se describe de manera detallada lo que yo llamo “el estudio de caso Obama” porque uno de mis principales temores y preocupaciones no está tan relacionado con la llamada “derecha”, sino más bien con las ilusiones que existen entre los liberales y entre algunos partidarios de izquierda con respecto a Obama. Por ende, realicé un análisis pormenorizado de todo lo que escribió Obama en sus dos primeros libros; el que escribió en 2004 durante su campaña para senador y el de 2008, justo antes de ser nominado. Ahora, volviendo al caso, ahí se revela claramente que Obama, con el apoyo de otros que fueron los responsables de diseñar la imagen del cambio, envió una señal clara a la oligarquía de que él no estaba a favor de cambiar el estatus quo; y a la vez, dio indicios de que la gente podría verlo como la fuente de un cambio.

Pero, si uno lee cuidadosamente sus libros, particularmente los aspectos esenciales, como es el tema de Vietnam, vemos que mantiene una posición firme a favor de la agresión estadounidense contra ese país. Ridiculiza a los partidarios de la izquierda, a los liberales que rechazaron la guerra contra Vietnam.

JL: Como el Doctor Martin Luther King.

AA: Exacto. Obama asumió una posición contra Vietnam. No ridiculizó a Martin Luther King pero sí a los miembros de la izquierda que se opusieron. Por ejemplo, sobre el caso de Chile, Obama se proyecta en su libro contra los partidarios de izquierda, o los liberales, porque proclamaban la necesidad de apoyar la lucha del pueblo chileno contra Pinochet, cuando a la vez, afirma que esas personas ignoraban que existía una dictadura en la Unión Soviética y en otros países del bloque Socialista de Europa oriental. Y por tanto, sugiere muy claramente a los círculos de poder, que en lo concerniente a los fundamentos básicos de la política exterior y doméstica de los EE.UU., él es su hombre. Paralelamente, da la impresión de estar a favor del cambio. Y para presentarse como una persona que favorece el cambio, cuenta con un asistente muy particular, David Axelrod, que mantiene vínculos muy estrechos con los círculos de poder. Axelrod está especializado en lograr que los Afro-norteamericanos sean electos a posiciones de poder. Lo logró con el alcalde de Washington D.C. y su próximo cliente fue Obama.

JL: Usted explica en su libro que Barack Obama trataba de reducir el vacío de credibilidad con respecto a los afro-norteamericanos. ¿Podría comentar como lo hacía?

AA: Este es un aspecto realmente importante. Por ejemplo, Brzezinski, que fue asesor de Bill Clinton, muy hábilmente apuntó—y estaba en lo cierto—que existía una considerable brecha de credibilidad entre los círculos pudientes en los Estados Unidos y América Latina, particularmente con respecto a países como Venezuela y el movimiento que allí se desarrollaba, así como con respecto al Medio Oriente antes de la rebelión que tuvo lugar en Egipto, y también con respecto a otras partes del mundo. Entonces tenían que vestir a la política exterior de los EE.UU. con un nuevo rostro para recuperar esa credibilidad y es por eso es que Brzezinski dijo “Estoy proponiendo a Obama; él puede lograrlo.”

Lo mismo sucede en a la política doméstica. Creo que uno de los factores principales era que los Estados Unidos siempre temieron, y con mucha razón, una rebelión por parte de los afro-norteamericanos contra los círculos de poder. Ahora, cuando Obama hizo su famoso discurso, creo que fue cuando su campaña para senador, apuntó que no existía una tierra de  afro-americanos, ni de latinoamericanos, sino tan solo los Estados Unidos de América. En otras palabras, olvidemos el racismo, especialmente si soy electo a la Casa Blanca. Y de esta forma, aparece el más efectivo entre dos males, es un factor importante.

JL: Usted dice esto porque cuando uno critica a Obama, muchos dicen: “bueno, él es mejor que Bush”. Pero esto no es realmente un argumento, sino una manera de evadir cualquier crítica.

AA: Correcto. Este es precisamente el problema, particularmente entre los que se autodenominan liberales y, desafortunadamente, muchas personas de izquierda dicen: “bueno, él es mejor que Bush; es el menor de dos males”. Mire, yo soy de Montreal; no soy estadounidense, y para analizar la crítica que se hace a Obama y esa manera en que normalmente se ven las cosas, he investigado cuidadosamente a  escritores estadounidenses, así como  por ejemplo el Black Agenda Report (Informe de la Agenda Negra) en los Estados Unidos, que se encuentra en California. Esta gente representa lo mejor entre los africanos-norteamericanos, la tradición progresista y revolucionaria que data de los tiempos de la lucha contra la esclavitud, allá en las décadas de 1960 y 1970.

JL: Y ellos son muy críticos con respecto de Barack Obama.

AA: Si, porque existe una fuerte presión por parte de los círculos de poder para que se diga: “Nosotros, los de izquierda, liberales o progresistas, no debemos criticar a Obama porque está bajo la crítica de la derecha.” Quiere decir, que me uno, si así lo quiere ver, al Black Agenda Report y otros intelectuales estadounidenses ocupados con las libertades civiles, abogados africanos-norteamericanos como Michelle Alexander, que escribió un excelente libro sobre la situación actual de los africanos-norteamericanos. Y estoy de acuerdo con Black Agenda Report en que Obama, lejos de ser el menor entre dos males, es el más efectivo de los dos males. Uno de los temas principales en el capítulo de mi libro es que Obama no representa en realidad la continuidad de las políticas de Bush. Más bien es lo contrario; Obama representa una ofensiva, una nueva ofensiva en nombre de los círculos de poder estadounidenses, tanto en el ámbito doméstico como en la arena internacional.

JL: Todo eso y ¿a la vez promueve la ilusión sobre un cambio positivo?

AA: Así es, y aun les da resultado, porque por segunda vez, muchos aún decían: “bueno, él es mejor que Romney”.  Sin embargo, representa una ofensiva, solo si recordamos por ejemplo el surgimiento del Movimiento Wall Street, no mucho después de los acontecimientos en Egipto, Madison, Wisconsin y España, tres países, uno detrás del otro, que siguieron los pasos de la revolución egipcia. Hubo muchas cosas positivas sobre el movimiento Occupy Wall Street, y por cierto, no es un movimiento homogéneo, ni lo era entonces, ni lo es ahora; algunos de ellos se manifiestan abiertamente contra el sistema bipartidista, otros no, otros inconscientemente se convierten en presas fáciles para la administración Obama. Pero el movimiento principalmente se nutre de la clase media blanca o de miembros de la clase media-baja en los EE.UU. Por lo que podrá imaginarse que si la población africana norteamericana hubiera dejado atrás la ilusión de que Obama, estando en la Casa Blanca, significaba la salvación para los africanos-norteamericanos y se hubieran unido al Movimiento Occupy Wall Street, habría sido un gran problema para los círculos de poder estadounidenses. Esto es lo que Brzenzinski tenía en mente, la brecha de credibilidad tanto en lo doméstico como en lo internacional.

La reforma del sistema de salud es otro ejemplo. No fue nada más que otra manera de incrementar los beneficios a las compañías de seguro—no era otra cosa, más que otra ofensiva por parte de los círculos de poder. Y mientras dan la imagen que él está a favor del cambio, Obama es quien juega la carta africana-norteamericana cada día. Cada vez que sucede algo, digamos que estén rindiendo tributo a Martin Luther King o a Rosa Parks, él aparece diciendo “si no hubiera sido por Marti Luther King” o por “Rosa Park, yo no estaría aquí”. Nunca pierde la oportunidad de realzar el hecho de que él es un africano-norteamericano. Y a la vez, cuando los africanos-norteamericanos son asesinados en la calle, no tiene nada que decir. Por tanto en realidad, y cito a algunas personas, intelectuales estadounidenses y otros dedicados a los derechos legales y civiles, Obama contribuye al asesinato de africanos-norteamericanos, por un lado, dando la  impresión de que ellos gozan de seguridad porque un africano-norteamericano vive en la Casa Blanca, y por otro al no decir nada cuando los asesinan.

Tomemos como ejemplo el famoso asunto del llamado control de armas. En mi libro, que se publicó antes del ataque de Newton, escribí que esos actos de violencia continuarían porque en los círculos de poder nadie dice que la segunda enmienda es un gran problema. Ahora están inmersos en este falso debate a favor o en contra del control de armas, más la controversia entre las fuerzas de Obama por un lado, y las llamadas “fuerzas de derecha” por el otro, sólo gira alrededor del tema de cuál de estas dos fuerzas es más fiel a la segunda enmienda. Ninguna de las dos ni siquiera piensa o da el menor de los indicios sobre la necesidad de cuestionar la segunda enmienda porque, en mi opinión, la pregunta que debería hacerse al respecto del control de armas es “¿Cómo es posible que en los Estados Unidos podamos tener una industria que produce armas de todos tipos, las más devastadoras armas, y que se vendan en el mercado?” Pero ni Obama, ni las otras fuerzas son capaces de cuestionar este asunto.

Obama sigue diciendo: “nuestra Constitución es la constitución democrática más antigua del mundo”. Es cierto que es una constitución antigua, pero es algo negativo. ¿Acaso no es hora ya de actualizar esa constitución?; que la gente tenga el derecho de decir cómo debe ser la constitución de los Estados Unidos de América?, y que las cláusulas básicas, como el derecho a poseer armas, sean reconsideradas para eliminar esta plaga de la sociedad estadounidense?

JL: Usted también se refirió al hecho de que el complejo militar industrial tampoco enfrenta cuestionamientos  de ninguno de los dos partidos.

AA: Ahora, por ejemplo, si usted ve la CNN u otro canal estadounidense, verá que siempre repiten que en los Estados Unidos tenemos demócratas y republicanos, la izquierda y la derecha, los liberales y los conservadores. Siguen dando la impresión de que existen dos fuerzas opuestas en los Estados Unidos de América. Más no es el caso. Básicamente es la misma fuerza que cambia su apariencia de tiempo en tiempo. Cuando una fuerza es desacreditada, ponen la otra en su lugar.

JL: ¿Quiere decir que detrás de los dos partidos existe un único interés económico?

AA: Exacto. Ha habido muchos debates sobre el tema del presupuesto en los últimos tiempos, cantidades de dinero que son necesarias; sin embargo, varios académicos estadounidenses, a quienes menciono en mi libro, dicen que uno puede emitir cualquier criterio sobre el presupuesto del país, o sobre los gastos del mismo, pero ni siquiera puede tocar el asunto de los gastos militares. Yo creo que una de las debilidades del movimiento Occupy Wall Street es que ellos hablan de los bancos de manera general sin tratar o sin enfatizar en la proporción de los gastos militares debido al hecho de que los Estados Unidos son una potencia imperial. Como resultado de la existencia de este imperialismo, los EE.UU. necesariamente invierten dinero en armamentos, con la fusión del poder militar, la industria y los bancos, dando lugar al gasto militar. Toda la economía de los EE.UU. se construye sobre la base del gasto militar, pero nadie lo cuestiona, y esto incluye a Obama. Pueden hacer algunos ajustes, unos cuantos dólares menos aquí, otros dólares menos allá, pero no se permite la discusión sobre las razones por las que una parte importante del gasto de los EE.UU. está vinculado a las esfera militar.

JL: Y si ambos partidos concuerdan en ese aspecto, ¿ello no significa que cuando se trata de la política exterior, coinciden también en que los EE.UU. necesitan mantener e incrementar su poderío militar en todas partes del planeta?

AA: Exactamente. En realidad, Obama desde los primeros momentos dijo que los Estados Unidos, herederos de los puritanos de finales del siglo XVIII, son una luz para el mundo; es el país más poderoso del planeta, la mejor nación del mundo; incluso después de que los soldados estadounidenses cometieran atrocidades contra ciudadanos en Iraq o en Afganistán, o en cualquier otro lugar, dijo: “poseemos el mejor ejército del mundo’’—la mejor nación del mundo”. Y en algunas ocasiones ha sido acusado de estar en contra del “excepcionalismo estadounidense”, la noción de que los EE.UU. son un país excepcional. Pero no es cierto que Obama sea contrario a este concepto. Incluso dijo que está de acuerdo con el excepcionalismo estadounidense; y que este nació al final del siglo XVII con los puritanos. Dijo además: “somos una nación excepcional y tenemos un papel especial que desempeñar en el mundo para traer la democracia, la civilización y la cultura a los pueblos del mundo.”

Por tanto, no existe diferencia alguna entre él y personas como Palin, Romney or McCain. La única diferencia es que el enfoque de Obama, diseñado por Axelrod y otros, es mucho más efectivo a la hora de engañar a mucha gente; y mi principal conclusión es que la democracia en los EE.UU. ahora funciona muy bien, no está en crisis. Ha podido recuperarse después de Bush y ponerle un rostro totalmente nuevo a una política que incrementa los ataques a escala mundial en el nombre de Obama. Solamente tenemos que ver lo que ha hecho Obama en los últimos cinco años con sus ataques contra Iraq,  Afganistán, y otros países. Poco después de haber sido electo para su primer mandato, ocurrió un golpe de estado en Honduras.

Bush, McCain, Palin no habrían podido salirse con la suya, pero Obama sí lo logró en el caso de Honduras porque existía y aun existe en algunos países Latinoamericanos, en círculos progresistas, cierto grado de ilusión con respecto a Obama, sobre que él es diferente a los republicanos o a la derecha. Sin embargo, él se puso en función del golpe de estado en Honduras al utilizar el mejor lenguaje de la Ivy League o altamente académico, y corporal para dar la impresión de que no estaba detrás de ese acontecimiento. Pero ¿qué dijo Obama cuando ocurrió el golpe de estado en Honduras? Una vez que el presidente Manuel Zelaya fue secuestrado y forzosamente sacado de Honduras, y que el pueblo tomara las calles durante más de cien días arriesgando sus vidas mientras protestaban contra el golpe y la presencia militar apoyada por los EE.UU., Obama continuó insistiendo (así como Clinton y otros) en la distención de las partes. Es algo muy interesante. Por un lado tenemos allí a los militares en el poder, por otra Zelaya fuera del país, la gente tratando de resistir a manos limpias, y aún así Obama pone a las dos partes al mismo nivel—ambas partes deben recurrir a la distención.

JL: ¿Trató de aparecer como neutral?

AA: Correcto. Pero en realidad, Obama nunca estuvo de acuerdo con que Zelaya regresara a Honduras como presidente. Dijo: “estoy en contra del golpe, no es bueno, estoy en contra de los militares, no es bueno”, pero siempre se opuso al regreso de Zelaya a Honduras, que era un presidente democráticamente electo. Es de esta manera en que operan; así es como los Estados Unidos se salieron con la suya en este caso.

Traductor: Luis Chirino, La Habana, Cuba

Texto original en inglès: Obama: The Most Effective of Two Evils

 

Photo: Protest in Germany against PRISM. Banner: “Against state surveillance”.

Snowden’s revelations have put a deep freeze on US-EU relations. Diplomats in Europe are searching for (and finding) bugs in their embassies. Influential politicians speak about this unprecedented betrayal of the transatlantic partnership. The popular German magazine SPIEGEL has published its bitter conclusion: «Berlin is a third-class ally». Can this super-scandal doom the trade talks with the US?

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) may be the first victim of this colossal spy scandal. The TIPP talks were scheduled to begin in Washington next week. Now they face a serious challenge from the spy scandal that is heating up in Europe – French Minister of Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq said the talks could be jeopardized. The PRISM surveillance program disclosed to the US all European industrial, commercial, and banking secrets. This type of overwhelming advantage is a real plot twist in any possible future agreement between these «partners». Washington has clearly shown its «third-class ally» who is in control, and now it is attempting to downplay the scandalous revelations and the extent of disclosure.

In fact, American corporations have direct access to all the business intelligence of any EU company that carelessly relied on «convenient», proprietary software solutions from Microsoft, Apple, Google, and other NSAconfidants. Boeing may have obtained insider details about Airbus. The problems in the European agricultural sector are no secret to the state of Iowa. In foreign trade and disputes over WTO rules and procedures Washington is well informed about EU protectionism and indirect subsidies to lame-duck industries. The US government sees French filmmakers, German industrialists, and Italian designers as a potential threat. In light of this information, for the European Union, the transatlantic negotiations will be like playing poker with an open hand. «It may be that American citizens can defend themselves under the US Constitution. But that doesn’t apply to foreigners», concludes «Die Süddeutsche Zeitung».

The EU justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, has been talking about privacy violations in business since 2011 but no one was interested. Who opposed Ms. Reding in her quest for privacy and stonewalled the issue in the European Parliament two years ago? Naturally, they were the UK representatives. Sometimes «special relations» with Washington are very useful: Snowden claims that British officials have illegally used PRISM surveillance on over 200 occasions.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, chided the US ambassador about these issues. Unfortunately, diplomacy always lags behind the harsh reality of economic competition. German innovations are target no. 1 for US spying, believes Lode Vanoost, the former deputy speaker of the Belgian parliament. Recently published data proves it: the NSA obtained data on more than 60 million telephone calls made daily in Germany (the US government registered only two million calls made each day in France). Although transatlantic relations cannot break down entirely for many reasons, European officials should at least insist on a set of clear rules and new UN-approved digital certificates about data protection and control. For example, the victims of this blatanteavesdropping may support the UN initiative to create an International Code of Conduct for Information Security. The scope of this human-rights violation committed by the United States government proves that national solutions will most certainly not solve the problem. This case will be a clear benchmark of the real economic sovereignty of the European Union on a global scale. Will Berlin once again believe in such lofty «transatlantic» assurances and promises?

The TTPI talks would provide an excellent opportunity to introduce a new model for positioning Europe in its relations with the US, a model that would eventually benefit both sides as they strive to regain their leadership in the global economy. It would also help European leaders to regain their political and economic sovereignty, which has been fading away since the Internet became the dominant technology in business and governance.

Why MSNBC Defends NSA Surveillance

July 8th, 2013 by Jeff Cohen

President Obama seems more willing to alienate his base of young supporters who object to the growing Surveillance State than to offend the national security apparatchiks who run it. But Obama’s crackdown on leakers also has found apologists among MSNBC’s “liberal” talkers.

I was a young person when I first heard the quip: “How do you know when the President is lying? His lips are moving.” At the time, President Richard Nixon was expanding the war in Vietnam to other countries and deploying the White House “plumbers” to commit crimes against antiwar leakers.

Forty years have passed. Sadly, these days, often when I see President Barack Obama moving his lips, I assume he’s lying. Like Nixon, our current president is prolonging an endless, borderless and counter-productive war (“on terror”) and waging a parallel war against “national security” leakers that makes the plumbers’ burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office look almost quaint.

Photo: Radio and TV host Ed Schultz.

The World War I vintage Espionage Act, originally used to imprison socialists for making antiwar speeches, has been used by the administration against whistleblowers with a vengeance unprecedented in history: eight leakers have been charged with Espionage under Obama, compared to three under all previous presidents.

The Obama administration has prosecuted not a single CIA torturer, but has imprisoned a CIA officer who talked about torture with a journalist. National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who was unable to get abuses fixed internally, now has a criminal record for communicating with a reporter years ago about sweeping domestic surveillance.

So there I was watching Obama’s lips move about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at a June 27 press conference. Saying he wouldn’t be “scrambling military jets to go after a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama added that he would not “start wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited.” I didn’t believe a word of it.

Given Obama’s war on whistleblowers and journalists who utilize them, and given the Army’s abusive treatment of military whistleblower Bradley Manning (apparently aimed at getting him to implicate WikiLeaks), it’s inconceivable that Obama was truly blasé about Snowden. To deter future whistleblowers, Snowden would have to be caught and made an example of – and probably mistreated (like Manning, in hopes of getting him to turn against WikiLeaks and even journalist Glenn Greenwald).

As his lips were moving, Obama knew well that he would go to extreme lengths to prevent this articulate young man from securing asylum in some Latin American country, where he could continue to inform the world’s media about the Surveillance State that has blossomed alongside the Warfare State under the Bush and Obama administrations.

That Obama wasn’t truthful became clear when the U.S. campaign of “wheeling and dealing” led to possible asylum countries retreating in fear one after another (Vice President Biden was deployed to pressure Ecuador’s president by phone). And even clearer with last week’s outrageous, international law-breaking that effectively forced down the presidential plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales.

And if Obama eventually does scramble jets to force down a plane with Snowden on board, the commander-in-chief will be applauded for taking bold and decisive action by mainstream TV talking heads, “national security” experts and the opposition he seems most intent on pleasing: conservatives. Criticism from civil libertarian and peace voices (or unions and environmentalists, for that matter) has rarely daunted Obama.

The bipartisan consensus in support of our bloated Military/Surveillance State – which so undermines our society as a whole – is reflected in Congress and both the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as mainstream media.

When it comes to issues of U.S. militarism and spying, the allegedly “progressive” MSNBC often seems closer to the “official network of the Obama White House” than anything resembling an independent channel. With a few exceptions (especially Chris Hayes), MSNBC has usually reacted to expanded militarism and surveillance by downplaying the abuses or defending them.

Had John McCain or Mitt Romney defeated Obama and implemented the exact same policies, treating whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden as foreign espionage agents, one would expect MSNBC hosts to be loudly denouncing the Republican abuses of authority.

But with Obama in power, a number of MSNBC talking heads have reacted to the Snowden disclosures like Fox News hosts did when they were in hysterical damage control mode for Bush – complete with ridiculously fact-free claims andnational chauvinism that we’ve long come to expect from the “fair & balanced” channel.

As Snowden arrived in Russia from Hong Kong, MSNBC host Ed Schultz blustered on about Snowden as a “punk” and “coward.” Railing about the “security of the country” in tones Sean Hannity would approve of, Schultz questioned Snowden’s patriotism and credibility, asking: “If the United States of America is doing something so egregiously wrong in its surveillance program, how come he’s the only one speaking up?”

In Bill O’Reilly-like blissful ignorance, Schultz seemed unaware of the three NSA whistleblowers who’d loudly spoken up way earlier than Snowden – and gathered for an illuminating USA Today interview a week before his tirade.

I watched one MSNBC host function as an auxiliary prosecutor in Obama’s Justice Department, going after Snowden – while trying to link WikiLeaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald to criminal flight.

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry has been condemning Snowden by contrasting him with civil disobedients who “love their country” and submit to arrest – while Snowden just wants to “save his own skin.” She proclaimed: “This is different. This is dangerous to our nation.”

Should we similarly dismiss Dan Ellsberg, who leaked the top secret Pentagon Papers to a dozen newspapers in 1971 by going on the lam from the FBI. Or Watergate’s “Deep Throat,” who saved his own skin by hiding his identity for 30 years after leaking secrets that helped crash the Nixon presidency? [See, for instance, Ellsberg’s op-ed in The Washington Post, “Snowden Made the Right Call When He Fled the US”]

In a bizarre monologue attacking Snowden (who’s risked plenty, in my view), Harris-Perry hailed those who engage in civil disobedience for being willing “to risk your own freedom, your own body in order to bring attention to something that needs to be known. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested, attacked, smeared. Nelson Mandela went to prison for 27 years.” (My emphasis.)

Nelson Mandela? He wasn’t a civil disobedient who gave himself up. He was a fugitive, fleeing the apartheid police. He was on the lam domestically, like Snowden is now internationally. And some reports indicate that South African authorities were able to nab Mandela thanks to the U.S. CIA (one of the agencies now working to apprehend Snowden).

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has also disappointed. After doing a typically thorough presentation on the force-down of President’s Morales’s plane, she ended her report by expressing displeasure only that Washington had apparently gotten allies to go out on the limb “for nothing.” Her objection to the harassment seemed to be: it hadn’t succeeded. I didn’t hear opposition to the action had Snowden actually been on board and apprehended.

The Snowden/NSA story proves once again that – especially on so-called “national security” issues – we need strong, independent media not enmeshed with the corporate/political power structure and not allied with one of the two corporate parties.

We can’t count on MSNBC to heed the lesson taught by legendary independent journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone, after years reporting from Washington: “All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed.”

Jeff Cohen was an MSNBC pundit and senior producer in 2002-3 until being terminated for political reasons, along with Phil Donahue, on the eve of the Iraq invasion. He is director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He cofounded the online action group RootsAction.org, which has petitioned for Snowden.

According to a Fars News Agency report, senior intelligence officials from US-NATO and allied countries including the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar met on June 7, behind closed door at the residence of the British Ambassador in Ankara.

The topic for discussion was the defeat of the US-NATO sponsored Al Nusrah rebels following the battle of Al Qusseir which led to the victory of Syrian forces. The planning of a renewed rebel offensive was envisaged:

“Top intelligence officials of the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan convened in an urgent meeting at the British ambassador’s residence in Ankara on June 7 to discuss an immediate rebel attack on the Syrian government and army positions in reprisal for the Syrian army’s recent victory in Al-Qusseir,” a liaison officer coordinating the meeting told FNA.

According to the report, the participants of this Ankara secret meeting included (with the exception of Jordan) the regional intelligence directors of the seven countries directly involved in supporting the insurrection.

 The source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of his information and for fear of his life, said, “All the aforesaid countries sent their regional directors to the meeting, except for Jordan which was represented at a lower level.”

The meeting acknowledged the lack of morale among rebel forces and the need “to assess the psychological impacts of the Syrian army’s victory in Al-Qusseir on rebel groups and work out a morale-boost response to Damascus.”

The formulation of a renewed and coordinated rebel offensive was outlined, including the channeling of additional sources of financing, the delivery of weapons to the Al Qaeda affiliated “opposition” rebels (in defiance of international law and US anti-terrorist legislation):

“Given the defeat and withdrawal of the rebel groups from Al-Qusseir, the meeting studied possible geopolitical replacements for delivering arms shipments to the rebels,” the source added and continued, “Also participants discussed the focal points and methods that need to be dealt with by the western and Arab media to boost the morale of the rebels.”

 The source said participants also “decided to increase financial aids to the rebels through Saudi Arabia and Qatar”.

 ”They also discussed several plans to retaliate the rebels’ crushing defeat in Al-Qusseir,” he concluded.

 (Fars News, July 6, 2013)

Two weeks following the Ankara intelligence meeting on June 7,  The Friends of Syria gathered in Qatar (June 22, 2013). France’s President Francois Hollande and US Secretary of State John Kerry were present.

The representatives  from the “11 core members” of the Friends of Syria group agreed in a final statement “to provide urgently all the necessary materiel and equipment to the opposition on the ground”.  The aid to the rebels was to be channeled through the Syrian opposition’s Supreme Military Council.

In addition to the funds channeled by the 11 core member states of the Friends of Syria,  large and undisclosed amounts of financial aid are being channeled through private foundations based in the Gulf States.

In recent developments, the Syrian opposition has chosen a new Saudi backed leader, Ahmad al-Jarba:

“Jarba belongs to the large al-Shammar tribe, whose members extend into Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and he is related by marriage to one of Saudi King Abdullah’s wives.”

Banks’ excess reserves at FED is one of the biggest scam by the FED and there is a conspiracy of silence as to its actual implications. Economists and financial analysts spewing nonsense to mislead and divert attention to non-issues so that the public is kept in the dark.

The issue of banks’ reserves at the FED and other central banks in the world is a complex subject with much technical jargons that confuses a lot of people. Besides, don’t be surprised that your bank branch manager on Main Street as well as lecturers in finance and economics are also ignorant on this issue. In the case of the latter, this subject is hardly taught in universities. And this is the reason why the scam has not been exposed till today.

But, for those who have a basic idea of bank reserves and how this huge amount of “excess reserves” have been created by the FED, have you asked yourself, “Why have I not spotted this scam earlier?”

Many have been taken in by the propaganda that “excess reserves” is the means to encourage banks to extend credit (give out loans) to desperate borrowers who needed urgent funds to survive and to jump-start their businesses. This propaganda is grounded on the assumption that there is insufficient liquidity in the market.

This assumption is misleading.

What are Excess Reserves

The latest figures obtained from the H.3 release from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the FED) shows excess reserves of about $1.794 trillion (data as of April 17, 2013), This level of excess reserves is unprecedented and is the highest since reserves were legislated as a requirement.

Please read the below paragraph carefully, ponder deeply before proceeding further. Don’t rush. It is important that you understand this simple fact as otherwise you would not appreciate the audacity of this financial scam!

Excess reserves are the surplus of reserves against deposits and certain other liabilities that depository institutions (collectively referred to as “banks”) hold above the statutory amounts that the FED requires in accordance with the law. The general requirement is that banks maintain reserves at least equal to ten percent of liabilities payable on demand. There is now data to show that as much as 50% of these “excess reserves” are held for United States banking offices of foreign banks.

Let me elaborate. Banks receives deposits from their customers which are inter-alia placed in current accounts (checking accounts) or time deposits (fixed deposit accounts) and which the customer can at any time withdraw from the bank. But, banking practice shows that at any one time, only a small fraction of customers would withdraw their deposits in full. So, there was no need for banks to keep all the deposits in their vaults to meet such a demand for payment. Laws were enacted to allow banks to keep in reserve a small amount of monies to meet such demands.

That being the case – if only 10% reserves is all that is required according to banking regulations to meet repayment demands, why should there be such a huge amount of reserves, beyond the legal requirement of 10%?

Keep this question at the back of your mind to understand the huge scam by the FED.

A Slight Digression

In a previous article, I had exposed the fact that when a customer deposits monies in a bank, he is in law a “creditor” (he has loaned the monies to the bank) and the bank is a “debtor” (and he can use the money in any way at his absolute discretion, even to speculate).

This is because the ownership of the money has been transferred to the bank. The money is no longer the money of the customer. It now belongs to the bank. And as long as the bank is solvent, and there is a demand for repayment of the deposit, the law of contract stipulates that the bank must repay together with the agreed interest that has accrued.

However, if at the time when demand for repayment is made, the bank is bankrupt (i.e. in a liquidation) then the depositor/customer in law is deemed an “unsecured creditor” and must join the queue of all unsecured creditors to share the proceeds of any remaining assets after all secured creditors have been paid. If there are no remaining assets, the depositors get zilch! Ouch!!!!!!

That is why and as illustrated in the bank confiscation of deposits in Cyprus banks acting in concert with central banks can expropriate all customers’ deposits to pay their secured creditors.
I will elaborate on this issue later.

Let’s return to the issue of excess reserves.

How Did The Excess Reserves Balloon To A Massive US$1.794 Trillion? A Simple Summary

The Fed’s overall balance sheet has expanded from about $909 billion before the crisis (i.e. before 2008) to about $3.3 trillion in 2013. Of the $2.4 trillion increase, approximately $1.8 trillion is excess reserves.

Banks were up to their eyeballs in toxic assets (financial sewage) and they are drowning in this cesspool but for the rescue efforts of the FED and other central banks they would have sunk to the bottom of the cesspool.

First Stage of Excess Reserves Scam

From the diagram below, you will see that the FED created trillions of money out of thin air by a digital entry in its books to purchase the toxic assets (financial sewage) in batches from the banks. The objective of QEs is to save the banks and to save the US Treasury from bankruptcy and not Joe Six-Packs. However, in this article we are focusing on the banks.

So, let’s say that the banks HAVE OVER US$10 trillion of financial sewage AND WANT TO DISPOSE THEM WITHOUT AROUSING ANY ALARM.

From the diagram below, you will see the monies flowing from the FED to the banks to purchase the financial sewage. The financial sewage is sucked into the FED’s financial vacuum. However the monies are not channeled to the banks’ branches in Main Street to be loaned out to Joe Six-Packs. It is re-routed back to the FED as “reserves”. When the reserves exceed the minimum 10% requirement, the excess is classified as “excess reserves.”

This is merely a book entry! And adding insult and injury to Joe Six-Packs, interest of 0.25% is paid on the reserves (i.e. giving profits to the banks).

The banks are allowed to survive in spite of their massive frauds and other financial hanky-pankies. The banks are allowed to use digital technology (e.g. high-frequency trading) to corner the market and destroy Joe-Six-Packs. But, Joe-Six-Packs have to suffer the indignity of unemployment, foreclosures, reduced unemployment benefits, survive on food-stamps, and other austerity measures. Additionally, and to prevent any opposition to the financial and ruling elites, Joe-Six-Packs are now under intense surveillance by NSA’s Prism Program that tracks every move, phone calls, emails, etc.
Can you now see the audacity of this scam?

The money flows from the FED to the Too Big To Fail (TBTF) Banksters to Buy Toxic Assets, which is sucked in by the FED’s Financial Vacuum, thereby cleansing the TBTF banks’ balance sheets. The money is then re-routed back to the FED as “excess reserves”.

The FED create monies out of thin air to bail-out the Too Big To Fail banks (TBTF banks) by purchasing their financial sewage (valued at book value as opposed to mark-to-market i.e. instead of paying only 10 cents on the dollar or less, the FED pays dollar for dollar) thereby removing the financial sewage from the balance sheet of the TBTF banks to reflect a “healthier” balance sheet as there are now less financial sewage in the banking system.

And, because the TBTF banks are suffering losses, the FED pays 0.25% interest on the “excess reserves” created so as to generate easy profits for the TBTF banks for doing nothing at all. They are earning profits merely from a book-entry in the FED’s books!

The propaganda which I referred to earlier that such monies were meant to enable the TBTF banks to extend credit is therefore bullshit and a load of financial nonsense. So why are the so-called reputable economists at leading universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, Oxford etc. touting this propaganda?

There is so much financial sewage in the banking system, that in law the banks cannot extend further credits to Joe Six-Packs unless and until the balance sheets of the TBTF banks are cleaned up, and the banks properly re-capitalised to continue with their banking business. (See Basel III Accords).

The so-called record profits declared by the TBTF banks and the huge bonuses given out to the bankers and their hire-lings are all window dressing as long as the toxic assets are not marked-to-market and not declared as junk. If such assets are properly declared, the fiat money banking system would be staring at a bottomless black-hole of toxic assets and indebtness!

This is the reason why QE has to continue. The QE programs are to drain the financial sewage from the banking system.

I had earlier stated that banks are required at have at least 10% of the deposits as reserves.

This has compounded the problem. After the Global Financial Tsunami, all the TBTF banks don’t have enough reserves to meet the withdrawal of deposits placed by customers before the crash. The TBTF banks don’t even have the requisite 10% reserves to meet these demand deposits (Old Deposits). That is why this scam was perpetrated by the FED as illustrated in the above diagram.

However, banks are continuing to receive deposits from customers of which 10% of these deposits must be transferred to the FED as reserves.

Under the fractional reserve banking system, the banks are allowed and can loan out the remaining 90% of the deposits as loan by a multiplier of ten – i.e. if new deposits total US$100 million, US$10 million will be transferred to reserves to meet withdrawals as explained above. By fractional reserve banking principles, the bank can loan out (based on a multiplier of ten) US$90 million x 10 = US$900 million. Data shows that customers’ deposits are at an all time high (since 2007), but bank lending is not keeping pace.

Banks are not lending out what they are entitled to do so for two reasons:

1) The banks are using a portion of the “New Deposits” to meet the liability of having to repay the “Old Deposits” in the system. This is because even the excess reserves (created under the QE) are insufficient to meet the demand for repayment of the Old Deposits. So, part of the current New Deposits would be utilised for that purpose. This is the Deposit Ponzi Scheme.

2) Banks are earning no risk profits from interests on “Excess Reserves” at the FED and are only willing to lend to credible borrowers. In the present economic climate, there are just too few credible customers. This is another reason why banks are not lending.

Therefore, and as stated earlier, the problem is not liquidity but rather, it is and always has been the insolvency of the TBTF banks and the financial sewage clogging the entire fiat money banking system.

Food For Thought

“Reserves don’t even factor into my model, that’s not what causes inflation and not how the Fed stimulates the economy. It’s a side effect.” – Former Fed Governor Laurence Meyer, co-founder of Macroeconomic Advisers

Second Stage of Excess Reserves Scam

If and when the economy recovers (maybe 2019??), the FED will repackage the toxic assets into new financial products to be sold to a new generation of stupid investors. Banks are not even required to pay, as the monies are still kept with the FED (book entry). In this final transaction, there will be a reverse-entry in the banks’ books.

Laurence Meyer is saying what many has deliberately ignored and or missed out completely. When QE stops, the FED would not be out on a limp because the monies used to purchase the financial sewage from the TBTF banks are still in the FED’s books.

The Fed need only to have a reverse entry in it’s books after re-packaging the financial sewage INTO SOME NEW FORM OF FINANCIAL PRODUCT OR WHATEVER (which the TBTF banks are adept at doing before the crash and are still continuing to do so) and dumping them back to the banks and another generation of stupid investors at such time when and if the banks have recovered – maybe 2019?

Further, with the bank’s unbridled right (sanctioned by law) to confiscate the customers’ deposits (now commonly referred as “Bail-In”) using the Cyprus template, banks have additional financial resources to continue with the plunder and financial rape of the public. Wake Up, I rest my case.

Top US officials escalated their threats over the weekend against any government that grants asylum to Edward Snowden, the source of leaks detailing illegal government surveillance programs directed at the population of the United States and the entire world.

On Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said that the country would offer Snowden “humanitarian asylum,” and the leaders of Nicaragua and Bolivia both indicated that Snowden could receive asylum in those countries as well. The statements came in the wake of the forced grounding of Bolivian president Evo Morales’s plan last week under suspicions that Snowden may have been on board.

An anonymous State Department official said over the weekend: “There is not a country in the hemisphere whose government does not understand our position at this point.” The official asserted that granting Snowden asylum “would put relations in a very bad place for a long time to come.” The official continued, “If someone thinks things would go away, it won’t be the case.”

Representatives of both Democrats and Republicans jumped in with threats. “Clearly such acceptance of Snowden to any country…is going to put them directly against the United States, and they need to know that,” Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, declared on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday.

Congressman Mike Rogers, the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that the US should consider responding to asylum-granting governments with economic sanctions, so as “to send a very clear message that we won’t put up with this kind of behavior.”

These threats are in line with the international campaign of thuggery and intimidation launched by the Obama administration in response to the revelations of secret programs that involve the collection of communications on hundreds of millions of people all over the world.

Regarding the downing of Morales’s plane, more information has emerged making clear that the US was behind the action. Latin American media have reported that a US diplomat spread rumors that Snowden was on board the flight, prompting the efforts to force a landing. The Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported that US Ambassador to Austria William Eacho “claimed with great certainty that Edward Snowden was onboard.”

Maduro reported that he was personally informed by a European minister that “it was the CIA that gave the order to the air traffic authorities, which gave the alert that Snowden was going in the plane.” While the details surrounding the forced landing remain unclear, it is in blatant violation of international law.

The downing of Morales’s plan makes clear that Snowden will face enormous obstacles as he attempts to travel to any asylum-granting country, even if he receives approval from its government.

If he accepts asylum in Venezuela, Snowden would still need to get there from his current location in the Russian airport. The commercial flight from Moscow to Venezuela stops in Cuba and passes through European airspace. It would thus be in danger of being forced to land by European governments acting at the behest of the United States.

For its part, Russia is pushing for Snowden to leave quickly. Prominent Russian parliamentarian Alexei Pushkov, who is very close to the Kremlin, tweeted Sunday: “Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum.”

“He needs to choose a place to go,” said Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov.

Maduro said late Saturday night that Snowden has until today to contact the Venezuelan government in response to the asylum offer.

Russia has made clear that it is unwilling to sour relations with Washington over the issue, and that Snowden would have to accept censorship—an end to his exposures of mass spying—as a condition for staying in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin offered asylum to the whistleblower, but Snowden declined after Putin demanded that he cease “harming our American partners.”

Moreover, any asylum granted from Venezuela or any other Latin American country must be seen highly conditional. Latin American heads of state are using the occasion to burnish their images as opponents of US imperialism. However, all these countries are heavily susceptible to US pressure and dependent on the US economy.

In spite of his tough talk, Maduro has made clear that he wants to improve relations with the United States. At the same time, the leader of the main opposition party in Venezuela, Henrique Capriles, has denounced the offer of asylum.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has offered asylum, but it was qualified with the phrase “if circumstances permit.” Political analyst Carlos Fernando Chamorro told the Wall Street Journal, “It is an ambiguous statement, that is consistent with his rhetoric of provoking the US and in practice doing everything to maintain good relations.”

A former Nicaraguan official close to Ortega expressed similar views, saying, “It’s his way of telling the Americans, I was asked to do this, but I’m not going to do it. I know him; it is a way that he can show off his revolutionary credentials, but he won’t do anything in the end.”

Ecuador too has indicated that it would consider asylum, but the country carried out an abrupt about-face after pressure from the US. The Ecuadorian government initially granted Snowden a travel document from Hong Kong to Moscow, but this was later rescinded and declared a “mistake.” It has since said that Snowden would have to travel to Ecuador first before any asylum request was considered.

For their part, every European government has refused Snowden’s petitions for asylum. The same European regimes that collaborated with the US in the illegal downing of Morales’s flight have, on countless occasions, allowed the CIA to use their airspace for “extraordinary rendition” of prisoners to black sites to be tortured. These governments have established their own mass spying programs and function, along with the US government, as political machines in defense of the ultra-wealthy and dominant banks and corporations.

Mass protests continue across Egypt in the wake of Wednesday’s US-backed military coup against Islamist President Mohamed Mursi. While it persists in the crackdown on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the military junta has failed to assemble a civilian puppet government amid conflicts over posts with those Islamist parties that back the coup.

Weekend protests followed on from the violent clashes that took place throughout Egypt on Friday, in which at least 36 people were killed and over 1,400 wounded. On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of anti-Mursi protesters poured into downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square, while several thousand MB supporters blocked the Salah Salem Road in Heliopolis, a Cairo suburb, to protest the coup.

Protests and clashes also continued in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city. A widely circulated YouTube video posted on Saturday showed what were believed to be Islamist supporters throwing two young men off a building in Alexandria. Clashes also occurred in Mansoura and Tanta, Egypt’s eighth and tenth largest cities, between pro-and anti-Mursi protesters.

There were mounting signs of armed resistance to the coup by Islamist forces, threatening to tip Egypt into civil war. Gama’a Islamiyah, a far-right Islamist party that has carried out terrorist attacks inside Egypt, yesterday called for the removal of newly-installed President Adly Mansour.

Egyptian Islamists are reportedly founding a domestic branch of Ansar al-Sharia, a militia in neighboring Libya, to organize armed resistance to the Egyptian junta. Ansar al-Sharia fought against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 NATO-led war in Libya; it subsequently was suspected of organizing the September 2012 attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi.

Fighting also continued in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, a center of Islamist support. Four army checkpoints were attacked and a pipeline carrying gas to Jordan was bombed on Saturday, and fears of sectarian bloodshed intensified after Coptic Christian priest Mina Aboud Sharween was shot dead.

Yesterday the Sinai-based Salafi Jihadi group issued a statement saying that the Sinai was affected by “current events ravaging the country.” It threatened attacks on “repressive practices” by Egyptian army and police forces.

The ongoing protests and the toppling of Mursi are the outcome in large measure of a powerful wave of working class struggles that has grown and shaken Egypt over the last year, reprising the powerful strike wave that led to the ouster of US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

Last year saw 3,817 labor strikes and protests over economic demands, the vast majority (71 percent) of which occurred after Mursi’s election at the end of June 2012, according to recent studies by Egypt’s International Development Center.

The trend accelerated this year: in the first five months of 2013 alone Egypt experienced 5,544 strikes and related demonstrations. While some were briefly noted in major Western media—like the February Sokhna port workers’ strike for permanent jobs, or the April railway strike—the vast majority of these struggles go completely unreported.

As opposition to Mursi built up in the working class, powerful sections of the US foreign policy establishment and the Egyptian ruling class concluded that the Islamist president had to go. The Egyptian army—working in close coordination with the Pentagon, which funds the country’s military to the tune of $1.3 billion per year—ousted Mursi, placing him under house arrest and issuing arrest warrants for hundreds of MB leaders.

While the ouster of Mursi was broadly popular in Egypt, the junta that has taken its place is an army-run regime aligned with US foreign policy and the interest of the banks. While the coup organizers’ initial target is the MB, their aim is to end the ferment in the working class, slash state subsidies that keep fuel and grain prices affordable for Egypt’s impoverished population, and crush popular opposition to Washington’s Middle East wars.

The goals that drove the population into struggle against Mursi cannot be achieved by supporting this regime, but only by unifying workers in struggle against US imperialism and its capitalist allies in the Middle East.

The clearest sign of the reactionary character of the army coup is that it has Washington’s support. The Obama administration has refrained from labeling it a coup, which might trigger a cut-off in US financial aid to the Egyptian military. On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the leader of the junta, calling for al-Sisi to arrange a peaceful political “transition” in Egypt.

This appeal was echoed by Sen. Robert Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who called for the junta to organize elections: “We have to make sure the military gets a very clear message that we want to see a transition to civilian government as quickly as possible. I think we have to get a process in which we urge all the parties to participate together, that we come to an election as soon as possible.”

After repeated announcements that the army would name National Salvation Front (NSF) leader Mohamed ElBaradei prime minister, Egypt’s state-run daily Al Ahram reported that there had been no successful conclusion to talks on forming a government. Instead, General Authority for Investment official Ziad Bahaa El Din had been offered the position. ElBaradei is now being considered for the vice presidency instead.

El Din, a founding member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said the decision was “neither final nor official.”

ElBaradei’s decision to seek a position with the junta itself has exposed the cynicism of his political maneuvers. During last year’s Egyptian presidential election, ElBaradei declared he would not run after seeing his poor projected poll results and criticized the army for not carrying out the election under better conditions: “My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a democratic framework.”

Now, ElBaradei’s “conscience” is encouraging him to seek various positions in a government assembled on the basis of a naked military coup. His role would be to draw on his experience as a former UN official to secure recognition for the army regime and loans from the International Monetary Fund, which would be used to boost investment in Egypt in exchange for deep cuts to social spending to balance that nation’s budget.

Israeli daily Ha’aretz noted that “his [ElBaradei’s] high international profile and diplomatic experience will be very helpful to the new regime in its attempts to convince the world that deposing President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood was a popular revolution and not a coup. This recognition is crucial if Egypt wants to maintain American military assistance and re-apply for loans from the International Monetary Fund.”

Resistance to ElBaradei’s nomination came primarily from the Salafist Nour Party, which the army has sought to maintain as part of its coalition in order to prevent Salafist groups from moving into armed struggle against the junta. The party’s presence in the army coalition is further evidence of the reactionary character of the coup.

Nour Party vice-chairman Bassem El Zaraka announced his party’s opposition to ElBaradei on Al-Hayat TV: “ElBaradei has a vision of a secular state that does not go along with the Nour Party.”

“Regime Replacement” in Egypt: Washington’s Role

July 8th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Washington’s dirty hands are involved. Controlling what’s ongoing continues. Doing so reflects iron fist imperialism. A White House statement claims otherwise. It’s typical US-style disinformation. In full it states:

“Readout of the President’s Meeting with the National Security Council Regarding the Situation in Egypt”

“President Obama convened a secure conference call with the National Security Council today to review the very fluid situation in Egypt.”

“The President condemned the ongoing violence across Egypt and expressed concern over the continued political polarization.”

“He reiterated that the United States is not aligned with, and does not support, any particular Egyptian political party or group.

In line with that position, the United States categorically rejects the false claims propagated by some in Egypt that we are working with specific political parties or movements to dictate how Egypt’s transition should proceed.”

“We remain committed to the Egyptian people and their aspirations for democracy, economy opportunity, and dignity. But the future path of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people.”

“During this transitional period, we call on all Egyptians to come together in an inclusive process that allows for the participation of all groups and political parties.”

“Throughout that process, the United States will continue to engage the Egyptian people in a spirit of partnership, consistent with our longstanding friendship and shared interests – including our interest in a transition to sustainable democracy.”

“We urge all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and to prevent further violence among their supporters, just as we urge all those demonstrating to do so peacefully.”

“As Egyptians look forward, we call on all sides to bridge Egypt’s divisions, reject reprisals, and join together to restore stability and Egypt’s democracy.”

Fact check

America deplores democracy. It tolerates none at home or abroad. A coup is a coup is a coup. It’s illegitimate, brutal and disruptive.

Violence and instability serve US interests. Peace and stability defeat them.

So do the “aspirations” of the Egyptian people “for democracy, economy opportunity, and dignity.”

Washington systematically denies them. Don’t expect Obama to explain. Straight talk’s not his style. Lies, damn lies, and ObamaSpeak substitute. He’s a con man. He reflects the worst of rogue leadership. Humanity’s threatened on his watch.

During Egypt’s coup, John Kerry was AWOL. The Washington Post, CBS, and other news reports said he was on his yacht in Nantucket. A CBS producer photographed him there.

The Boston Herald tracked his whereabouts. On July 4, it photographed him walking down Nantucket’s Federal Street. It took pictures of him aboard his yacht.

During blood on Egypt’s streets, he was enjoying the holiday weekend. He was relaxing. Affairs of state could wait.

America’s Senate is a millionaires club. Kerry’s its richest member. Including his wife’s wealth, their net worth exceeds $1 billion. She’s heir to the Heinz fortune. They own five homes. They’re all valued well over $1 million.

On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki called reports about him on his yacht “completely inaccurate.” Evidence to the contrary forced a retraction.

 

While he was “briefly” on board “Wednesday,” Psaki said, he “worked around the clock all day, including participating in the president’s meeting with his National Security Council and calls with Norwegian Foreign Minister Eade, Qatari Foreign Minister al-Attiyah, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, Egyptian Constitution Party President ElBaradei and five calls to Ambassador Patterson on that day alone.”

One lie makes follow-up comments suspect. On Wednesday afternoon, a White House situation room national security meeting photo excluded Kerry. He was elsewhere. He was nowhere in sight.

Conditions in Egypt remain fluid. They’re unsettled. They’re unsafe. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took control of state media. It shut down three Islamist-run TV stations.

It raided Al Jazeera’s offices. Five staff members were detained. Four were later released. Controlling the message is prioritized. Televising pro-Morsi rallies is prohibited.

Muslim Brotherhood Egypt25 channel was targeted. Its managers were arrested. Junta power usurped full control. On Saturday, Mohamed ElBaradei was named interim prime minister. State television announced it.

On Sunday, it reported otherwise. Political transition hit a speed bump. Egypt’s Salafist Nour party rejected ElBaradei’s appointment. It’s against interim president Adly Mansour’s decree.

On Friday, he dissolved Egypt’s upper house Shura Council. He sacked Morsi’s intelligence chief Mohammed Raafat Shehata. Mohammed Ahmed Farid al-Tohami replaced him.

On Saturday, the Nour party said “the activities an stances of our party, which was against pro-Mursi demonstrations and called for early presidential elections, were aimed at sparing Egyptians from bloodshed and preserving national unity.”

“But in the follow-up of what was happening on the ground in the past two days, we totally reject many things taking place in Egypt now.”

Following Morsi’s ouster, SCAF arrested Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. He’s imprisoned. Reports interim political transition completion depends on resolving Nour party’s concerns.

According to Infowars Kurt Nimmo, Morsi’s ouster “set the stage for the (Nour party’s) ascension.” It’s “an Islamic sect more radical than the Muslim Brotherhood.”

It’s “ultraconservative.” Islamic Heritage Research Foundation executive director Irfan Al-Alawi said it “embodies Wahhabism, the fanatical interpretation of Islam that is the sole official religious doctrine in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

“The media have tiptoed around the authentic character of the Nour Party, with leading sources noting only that the Nour Party’s program is derived from or influenced by Saudi Wahhabism.”

“But the Nour Party reproduces Wahhabism – the ideology that inspired Osama Bin Laden – in its entirety.”

It follows strict Sharia law. “It is fanatically and murderously opposed to Shia Muslims and Christians.”

It’s comfortable with Western-style business dealings. In April, its representatives met with an IMF delegation.

On Saturday, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headlined “Scores injured in fresh wave of clashes in Egypt,” saying:

Incidents occurred in al-Bahira province. Others erupted “near al-Tawba Mosque in Damanhour city.” Locals clashed with Muslim Brotherhood members.

Alexandria had the most deadly violence. Fourteen deaths and 263 injuries were reported. Dozens were arrested. Seventeen policemen were hurt.

On Saturday, Coptic Christian priest Min Aboud Sharween was killed in northern Sinai. The community’s spiritual leader Pope Tawadros approved Morsi’s ouster.

Egypt has eight million Copts. Killing Sharween may spark more violence. Morsi supporters vow to remain on streets. They’ll do so, they say, until he’s reinstated.

They called for more mass rallies. Tension remains high. Things are far from resolved. Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader/Freedom and Justice party general secretary Mohamed Beltagy was reported arrested. It was premature.

On Friday, he addressed a Cairo rally. He told Morsi supporters to remain on the streets. He expected arrest any time. Asked who’d succeed him, a Muslim Brotherhood guidance officer said “whoever remains in the Guidance Office.”

Perhaps none will. They’re all targeted. Beltagy said whatever happens, MB will survive. “Attempts to destroy (us) have been going on for 80 years and have never succeeded.”

According to senior MB official Salah Sultan, “(w)e will go underground if we have to.” Most MB officials did so. Warrants for their arrests were issued. Expect turmoil to affect Egypt for some time. Things are far from resolved.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/unrest-continues-in-egypt/

Spying: The Big Picture

If you’ve been too busy to keep up with the spying scandal, here’s an overview:

The Austrian daily newspaper, Die Presse, has reported that the United States ambassador to Austria was responsible for making false claims that National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane.

In a story published on July 3, the newspaper reported shortly after Morales’ plane landed the “Vienna foreign department received a phone call.” The caller was the US  ambassador to Austria, William Eacho.

According to Die Presse, Eacho “claimed with great certainty that Edward Snowden was onboard.” He also made reference to a “diplomatic note requesting Snowden’s extradition.”

The Associated Press reported on July 2 that Morales’ plane had been rerouted to Austria after European countries would not allow it to fly over their airspace because they suspected Snowden might be on board. The countries included Spain, France, Portugal and Italy.

Morales’ plane ended up landing in Austria to refuel, and, according to Morales, “While the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and they asked to search the plane. He said he denied them permission.” But, Austrian officials apparentlysearched the plane. (The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald reported Austrian police walked through the plane but did not search it.)

The Guardian reported, as of July 5:

Spain says it and other European countries were told that the NSAwhistleblower Edward Snowden was on board the Bolivian presidential plane that was diverted to Austria this week, causing a diplomatic row.
The foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, said on Spanish National Television on Friday that “they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside”.
The minister did not say who supplied the information and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the United States. But he said European countries’ reactions were based on this information.

Ministers of the European countries appear to have their instructions from the United States government, if the report in Die Presse is accurate, to be silent and participate in covering up what really happened.

Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra declared hours after the incident, in an interview with CNN, “The US government was behind the rumors that Snowden was on board.” And, “This is a lie, a falsehood. It was generated by the US government.”

“It is an outrage. It is an abuse. It is a violation of the conventions and agreements of international air transportation,” Saavedra said. Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia went so far as to say Morales had been “kidnapped by imperialism.”

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated at a briefing, “We have been in contact with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country but I am not going to outline what those countries were or when this [contact] happened.”

The report in Die Presse is the only report to name Eacho as responsible for the false claim. It, however, has not been denied in any news reports either.

President Barack Obama nominated Eacho to be ambassador in June 2009. Prior to that, he had not served in any diplomatic position. He had a background in real estate investment as CEO of Carlton Capital Group, LLC, and food service distribution as Vice President of Alliant Foodservice Inc. He was one of Obama’s biggest campaign fundraisers. His contribution to Obama’s election was rewarded with an ambassadorship.

Eacho apparently did an interview with Die Presse where he minimized the revelations on the NSA saying something to the effect that European Union member states are all involved in efforts to address security threats.

He said something to the effect that people voluntarily give more information about themselves to Facebook than the NSA collects data about them. Police are able to access the data they need and care is taken to protect civil rights and privacy. He also said that Americans residing in the US do not have to worry about someone reading their emails.

What makes the incident even more remarkable is that Morales was never at the Moscow airport where Snowden has been stuck for over a week now. He departed from Vnukovo Airport, which is twenty-seven miles away.

This suggests the lengths the Obama administration is willing to go to ensure Snowden does not end up anywhere that will grant him asylum. As a result, Latin American countries are furious and Bolivia is threatening to close the United States’ embassy in Bolivia over an act he considers a violation of international law.

Governments Spy On Their Citizens for Control and Power

Top terrorism experts say that mass spying on Americans doesn’t keep us safe.

High-level American government officials have warned for 40 years that mass surveillance would lead to tyranny.   They’ve warned that the government is using information gained through mass surveillance in order to go after anyone they take a dislike to. And a lieutenant colonel for the Stasi East German’s – based upon his experience – agrees.

You don’t have to obsess on the NSA’s high-tech spying to figure out what the government is doing.  Just look at old-fashioned, low-tech government spying to see what’s s really going on.

Instead of focusing on catching actual terrorists, police spy on Americans who criticize the government, or the big banks or the other power players.

Todd Gitlin – chair of the PhD program in communications at Columbia University, and a professor of journalism and sociology -  notes:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) has unearthed documents showing that, in 2011 and 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies were busy surveilling and worrying about a good number of Occupy groups — during the very time that they were missing actual warnings about actual terrorist actions.

From its beginnings, the Occupy movement was of considerable interest to the DHS, the FBI, and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, while true terrorists were slipping past the nets they cast in the wrong places.  In the fall of 2011, the DHS specifically asked its regional affiliates to report on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations, in addition to reporting on domestic terrorist acts and ‘significant criminal activity.’”

Aware that Occupy was overwhelmingly peaceful, the federally funded Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), one of 77 coordination centers known generically as “fusion centers,” was busy monitoring Occupy Boston daily.  As the investigative journalist Michael Isikoff recently reported, they were not only tracking Occupy-related Facebook pages and websites but “writing reports on the movement’s potential impact on ‘commercial and financial sector assets.’”

It was in this period that the FBI received the second of two Russian police warnings about the extremist Islamist activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the future Boston Marathon bomber.  That city’s police commissioner later testified that the federal authorities did not pass any information at all about the Tsarnaev brothers on to him, though there’s no point in letting the Boston police off the hook either.  The ACLU has uncovered documents showing that, during the same period, they were paying close attention to the internal workings of…Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.

***

In Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, intelligence was not only pooled among public law enforcement agencies, but shared with private corporations — and vice versa.

Nationally, in 2011, the FBI and DHS were, in the words of Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, “treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.”  Last December using FOIA, PCJF obtained 112 pages of documents (heavily redacted) revealing a good deal of evidence for what might otherwise seem like an outlandish charge: that federal authorities were, in Verheyden-Hilliard’s words, “functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”  Consider these examples from PCJF’s summary of federal agencies working directly not only with local authorities but on behalf of the private sector:

• “As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.”

• “The FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to… [22] campus police officials… A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.”

• An entity called the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector,” sent around information regarding Occupy protests at West Coast ports [on Nov. 2, 2011] to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report contained “a ‘handling notice’ that the information is ‘meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…’ Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) reported to DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor.”

• DSAC gave tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest,” which it defined as running the gamut from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” ***

• The FBI in Anchorage, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Birmingham also gathered information and briefed local officials on wholly peaceful Occupy activities.

• In Jackson, Mississippi, FBI agents “attended a meeting with the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for ‘National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day’ on December 7, 2011.”  Also in Jackson, “the Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a ‘Counterterrorism Preparedness’ alert” that, despite heavy redactions, notes the need to ‘document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.’”

***

In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee learned … that the Tennessee Fusion Center was “highlighting on its website map of ‘Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity’ a recent ACLU-TN letter to school superintendents.  The letter encourages schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.”

***

Consider an “intelligence report” from the North Central Texas fusion center, which in a 2009 “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” described, in the ACLU’s words, “a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the United States, which would ‘provide an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish.’”

***

And those Virginia and Texas fusion centers were hardly alone in expanding the definition of “terrorist” to fit just about anyone who might oppose government policies.  According to a 2010 report in the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department Inspector General found that “FBI agents improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and several other domestic advocacy groups after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and put the names of some of their members on terrorist watch lists based on evidence that turned out to be ‘factually weak.’”  The Inspector General called “troubling” what the Los Angeles Times described as “singling out some of the domestic groups for investigations that lasted up to five years, and were extended ‘without adequate basis.’

Subsequently, the FBI continued to maintain investigative files on groups like Greenpeace, the Catholic Worker, and the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, cases where (in the politely put words of the Inspector General’s report) “there was little indication of any possible federal crimes… In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘acts of terrorism’ classification.”

***

In Pittsburgh, on the day after Thanksgiving 2002 (“a slow work day” in the Justice Department Inspector General’s estimation), a rookie FBI agent was outfitted with a camera, sent to an antiwar rally, and told to look for terrorism suspects.  The “possibility that any useful information would result from this make-work assignment was remote,” the report added drily.

“The agent was unable to identify any terrorism subjects at the event, but he photographed a woman in order to have something to show his supervisor.  He told us he had spoken to a woman leafletter at the rally who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, and that she was probably the person he photographed.”

The sequel was not quite so droll.  The Inspector General found that FBI officials, including their chief lawyer in Pittsburgh, manufactured postdated “routing slips” and the rest of a phony paper trail to justify this surveillance retroactively.

Moreover, at least one fusion center has involved military intelligence in civilian law enforcement.  In 2009, a military operative from Fort Lewis, Washington, worked undercover collecting information on peace groups in the Northwest.  In fact, he helped run the Port Militarization Resistance group’s Listserv.  Once uncovered, he told activists there were others doing similar work in the Army.  How much the military spies on American citizens is unknown and, at the moment at least, unknowable.

Do we hear an echo from the abyss of the counterintelligence programs of the 1960s and 1970s, when FBI memos — I have some in my own heavily redacted files obtained through an FOIA request — were routinely copied to military intelligence units?  Then, too, military intelligence operatives spied on activists who violated no laws, were not suspected of violating laws, and had they violated laws, would not have been under military jurisdiction in any case.  During those years, more than 1,500 Army intelligence agents in plain clothes were spying, undercover, on domestic political groups (according to Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1967-70, an unpublished dissertation by former Army intelligence captain Christopher H. Pyle). They posed as students, sometimes growing long hair and beards for the purpose, or as reporters and camera crews.  They recorded speeches and conversations on concealed tape recorders. The Army lied about their purposes, claiming they were interested solely in “civil disturbance planning.”

 

Indeed, the New York Review of Books notes that spying in America has always been focused on crushing dissent:

In the United States, political spying by the federal government began in the early part of the twentieth century, with the creation of the Bureau of Investigation in the Department of Justice on July 1, 1908. In more than one sense, the new agency was a descendant of the surveillance practices developed in France a century earlier, since it was initiated by US Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte, a great nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, who created it during a Congressional recess. Its establishment was denounced by Congressman Walter Smith of Iowa, who argued that “No general system of spying upon and espionage of the people, such as has prevailed in Russia, in France under the Empire, and at one time in Ireland, should be allowed to grow up.”

Nonetheless, the new Bureau became deeply engaged in political surveillance during World War I when federal authorities sought to gather information on those opposing American entry into the war and those opposing the draft. As a result of this surveillance, many hundreds of people were prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act for the peaceful expression of opinion about the war and the draft.

But it was during the Vietnam War that political surveillance in the United States reached its peak. Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and, to an even greater extent, Richard Nixon, there was a systematic effort by various agencies, including the United States Army, to gather information on those involved in anti-war protests. Millions of Americans took part in such protests and the federal government—as well as many state and local agencies—gathered enormous amounts of information on them. Here are just three of the numerous examples of political surveillance in that era:

  • In the 1960s in Rochester, New York, the local police department launched Operation SAFE (Scout Awareness for Emergency). It involved twenty thousand boy scouts living in the vicinity of Rochester. They got identification cards marked with their thumb prints. On the cards were the telephone numbers of the local police and the FBI. The scouts participating in the program were given a list of suspicious activities that they were to report.
  • In 1969, the FBI learned that one of the sponsors of an anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC, was a New York City-based organization, the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee, that chartered buses to take protesters to the event. The FBI visited the bank where the organization maintained its account to get photocopies of the checks written to reserve places on the buses and, thereby, to identify participants in the demonstration. One of the other federal agencies given the information by the FBI was the Internal Revenue Service.

***

The National Security Agency was involved in the domestic political surveillance of that era as well. Decades before the Internet, under the direction of President Nixon, the NSA made arrangements with the major communications firms of the time such as RCA Global and Western Union to obtain copies of telegrams. When the matter came before the courts, the Nixon Administration argued that the president had inherent authority to protect the country against subversion. In a unanimous decision in 1972, however, the US Supreme Court rejected the claim that the president had the authority to disregard the requirement of the Fourth Amendment for a judicial warrant.

***

Much of the political surveillance of the 1960s and the 1970s and of the period going back to World War I consisted in efforts to identify organizations that were critical of government policies, or that were proponents of various causes the government didn’t like, and to gather information on their adherents. It was not always clear how this information was used. As best it is possible to establish, the main use was to block some of those who were identified with certain causes from obtaining public employment or some kinds of private employment. Those who were victimized in this way rarely discovered the reason they had been excluded.

Efforts to protect civil liberties during that era eventually led to the destruction of many of these records, sometimes after those whose activities were monitored were given an opportunity to examine them. In many cases, this prevented surveillance records from being used to harm those who were spied on. Yet great vigilance by organizations such as the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought a large number of court cases challenging political surveillance, was required to safeguard rights. The collection of data concerning the activities of US citizens did not take place for benign purposes.

***Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them. The first target was the Communist Party of the United States, but subsequent targets ranged from the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference to organizations espousing women’s rights to right wing organizations such as the National States Rights Party.

A well-known example of COINTELPRO was the FBI’s planting in 1964 of false documents about William Albertson, a long-time Communist Party official, that persuaded the Communist Party that Albertson was an FBI informant. Amid major publicity, Albertson was expelled from the party, lost all his friends, and was fired from his job. Until his death in an automobile accident in 1972, he tried to prove that he was not a snitch, but the case was not resolved until 1989, when the FBI agreed to pay Albertson’s widow $170,000 to settle her lawsuit against the government.

COINTELPRO was eventually halted by J. Edgar Hoover after activists broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in 1971, and released stolen documents about the program to the press. The lesson of COINTELPRO is that any government agency that is able to gather information through political surveillance will be tempted to use that information. After a time, the passive accumulation of data may seem insufficient and it may be used aggressively. This may take place long after the information is initially collected and may involve officials who had nothing to do with the original decision to engage in surveillance.

***

Since President Obama is asking us to trade some of our privacy with respect to our phone calls and our use of the Internet for greater protection against terrorism, at the very least we need to know exactly how our privacy is being violated. We also need to debate fully whether such measures uphold our Constitutional rights, such as the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of expression and the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. Yet if the program is kept secret, and if even the court opinions stating the rationale for authorizing surveillance are kept secret, we cannot decide whether a trade-off is warranted; if it is warranted, exactly what should be traded; if constitutional rights are implicated, whether these are appropriate matters for a trade; or how we can impose limits on any trade so as to minimize the violation of our rights. A trade made in ignorance is not much of a trade.

Postscript: This is not some “post-9/11 reality”. Spying on Americans started before 9/11.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave,

When first we practise to deceive.”  (Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832.)

It has been a bit of a foot-in-mouth week for the constitutional lawyer who is President of the United States.

As Egypt’s increasingly autocratic and theocratic Muslim Brotherhood’s President Mohammed Morsi was rejected by the population with an estimated thirty three million person demonstration  and a twenty two million signature petition, the US Nobel Prize Peace Laureate cheer leading for the overthrow of Syria’s sovereign Head of State, declared he is “deeply concerned” over the ousting of President Morsi.

He called for the :

“ … return (of) full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible, through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.”

 ”The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability  … is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties — secular and religious, civilian and military,” Obama stated, demanding that: ” …during this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected.”

Further, the United States supported:

“ … a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people.”

CNN called the (certainly also infiltrated) demonstrations the largest number of protestors at a political event in the history of mankind. Whatever the outcome of the interim government and the nation’s longer term response to it, it was demonstration of another rare kind: democracy in action.

Whilst castigating Egypt for an example of democracy’s definition, by his avowed hero Abraham Lincoln – whose journey Obama emulated on road to the White House –  “government of the people, by the people, for the people (which) shall not perish from the earth” (Gettysburg Address, November 19th 1863) Obama blithely ignored the dangerous criminality of sections of the ousted President Morsi’s supporters.

On 4th July, as the US celebrated Independence Day, in a chilling mirror image of America’s favoured fundamentalists in Iraq, Libya and Syria:’

“True to their vows, pro-Morsi Muslims are attacking Egypt’s Christians for participating in the anti-Morsi protests.  The St. George Coptic Christian Church in a village in al-Minya, Egypt, has just been set on fire  by “pro-Morsi” forces.

Copts are reported to be in a state of  “fear and panic.” ‘

Days earlier, a letter was circulated in al-Minya, which has a very large Coptic population, calling on Copts not to join the protests, otherwise their “businesses, cars, homes, schools, and churches” might “catch fire.” ‘ (i)

The message concluded:

“If you are not worried about any of these, then worry about your children and your homes.  This message is being delivered with tact.  But when the moment of truth comes, there will be no tact.”

Some of the other threats delivered in support of Dr Morsi, to those of all or no religious persuasions, include relieving them of their eyes and wiping them “off the face of the earth.” (ii)

Yet President Obama  related his deep concern at : “ …  the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution” calling on: “the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible, through an inclusive and transparent process, avoiding any arbitrary arrests of  President Morsi and his supporters.” This as he is stepping up funding and weapons to terrorists in Syria committing acts of barbarity exceeding even anything in Eqypt.

Obama’s deep concern at the removal of President Morsi is at odds with his repeated statements on President Assad, as exampled in the May White House meeting with Turkey’s now embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “We both agree that Assad needs to go. He needs to transfer power to a transitional body,” he said (news, websites.)

President Assad’s government and territorial integrity is, of course enshrined in the fine legalese of the UN. Further, as Obama pledges millions$ in equipment, training and aid to the Syrian insurgents, he directs his Administration to review US assistance to Egypt – on the basis that American law forbids aid to countries that remove leaders in a military coup, as he plans and funds one for Syria. Arguably, a lawyer who gives the term “legal leeway”, entirely new dimensions.

The atrocities in Syria being committed by the “Free Syrian Army”, alleged to be paid in “crisp US $ bills” are a legion. The terrorist “commander” videoed mutilating a corpse and cannibal-like eating parts of organs, was described in the Los AngelesTimes (14th May 2013) as vowing thus:

‘ “I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs  - we will eat your heart and livers”, the “commander” declares, while brandishing the organs, directing a sickening message to Syrian President Bashar Assad. “Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!”

‘Human Rights Watch said the man in the video appeared to be a rebel figure known as Abu Sakkar, of the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade, which arose … last year in the Baba Amr district of the city of Homs. The brigade is one of scores of rebel factions in Syria that answer to no central command.’

Those pad in “crisp US $ bills” have summarily executed across the country, including a fifteen year old street tea seller for “blasphemy.” Beheadings also include a Priest and a Bishop, along with desecrated bodies, burned Mosques and Christian churches and reportedly the massacre of an entire village of Christians at al-Duvair. (iii)

Also in formerly secular Syria “units” from the self-declared “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham” (ISIS)  - from the equally formerly secular Iraq until the US backed fundamentalists gained sway – have also begun imposing stricter interpretations of Islamic law and have filmed themselves executing members of rival rebel groups.

The latest internecine clashes were in the town of Al Dana, near the Turkish border, on Friday, local “activists” said. An opposition group known as the Free Youths of Idlib said dozens of fighters were killed, wounded or imprisoned.

The bodies of a “commander” and his brother, from the local Islam Battalion, were reportedly found beheaded, with locals saying that the men’s heads were found next to a trash bin in a main square. Again, chillingly reminiscent of years of the same, which overwhelmed Iraq under the American and British invasion and occupation.

Of Egypt, last Wednesday Obama demanded that: “during this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected.” No such demands over the daily slaughter of innocents in Iraq under a US puppet Prime Minister, Syria under US funded and armed gangs  – and a presumption that the President’s ritual signing off on the droning to death of men and women in the villages of Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia or where ever – is a God given right.

But perhaps the greatest example of schizophrenic chutzpah, was the Nobel Laureate’s visit to South Africa’s Robben Island prison, where  Nelson Mandela was held for eighteen years, in and eight ft., by eight ft., cell.

After standing in Mandela’s former place of incarceration, looking out of the barred window for a photo op, he wrote in the prison, now museum visitors’ book: “On behalf of our family, we’re deeply humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield. The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit.”

Tell that to Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Ironically, his Secret Service agents stood watch in the old tower where South Africa’s  apartheid thugs watched over Nelson Mandela and his colleagues. What symbolism.

Tell it also to those without hope who Obama made an election promise to release, rotting in another island gulag: Guantanamo Bay, where in fact there are eight stalags, built on a US leased former coaling and naval stations dating back to 1898.

In 2008 Amnesty USA recreated a life-size replica of  a maximum security Guantanamo cell and toured the States with it. (iv) At eight feet high, ten feet long and seven feet wide, it is just two feet longer than Mandela’s cell – and one foot narrower.

However, when the first prisoners arrived at the gulag on 11th January 2002, cells were reported to the made from chain-link fencing and measuring just six feet by eight feet, with corrugated metal roofs. Sleeping arrangements were a foam sleeping mat on the concrete floor. Two buckets sufficed for washing and a toilet. (v)

After Camp Four riots in June 2006, prisoners in Camp Six were incarcerated alone: “for at least 22 hours a day in windowless, concrete, steel-doored cells.

In even more restrictive camps such as Camps Three and One, it is reported that the prisoners are denied “special items” – such as toilet paper. When nature calls, a prisoner must ask the guards for the “necessary” amount of toilet paper.Think about it.

“Lights in the prison are kept on 24 hours a day …  The camps are surrounded by barbed wire and green sheets to restrict any views, including that of the ocean.”

“Since the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay on 11 January 2002, the U.S. government has detained more than 759 men there.  To-date, only three prisoners have been convicted of committing war crimes against the United States.”

In Camp Three:

“The detainees’ cells were sufficiently isolated from one another that they couldn’t see one another. Additionally, there were noise generators near each cell so they couldn’t hear one another.”

In April 2010 the Guardian reported that a TV had been installed in a common area in Camp Six – with prisoners shackled to the floor during television “privileges.”

On the campaign trail in 2008 Barack Hussein Obama was unequivocal, if elected: “We are going to lead by shutting down Guantanamo and restoring habeus corpus … I have said repeatedly that I will follow through on it.” Further: “I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture, I am going to shut down on it, we are not being true to our values.” (vi)

This week, two allegations of torture at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, including: “electric shocks; repeated brutal beatings; sleep deprivation; sensory deprivation; forced nudity; stress positions; sexual assault; mock executions; humiliation; hooding; isolated detention; and prolonged hanging from the limbs”, by US mercenaries employed by CACI, were dismissed by US District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.

The Judge’s grounds were that US corporations are immune from prosecution for acts committed on foreign soil. This in spite of the fact that the US military was an occupying force and thus legally responsible for the well being of the Iraqi population at the time CACI was committing the unimaginable – and a US General was in overall charge of Abu Ghraib and eleven other of Iraq’s prisons.

Speaking after he left that tiny cell on Robben Island, Obama said: “Nelson Mandela showed us that one man’s courage can move the world.” Quite, especially if you are the self styled most powerful one on earth.

Incidentally the window in Nelson Mandela’s sparse little place of incarceration, in front of which Obama stood for his photo op, was multiple times larger than the near slits that pass for windows in Guantanamo cells that have them. (viii)

“Pity someone didn’t slam the door shut on him”, remarked an intolerant friend. Tut, tut.

Notes

vii. http://www.allgov.com/news/us-and-the-world/americans-get- away-with-murder-and-torture-in-iraq-130701?news=850439

En el año 2003, la corporación Syngenta publicó un aviso publicitando sus servicios en los suplementos rurales de los diarios argentinos Clarín y La Nación bautizando con el nombre de “República Unida de la Soja” a los territorios del Cono Sur en los que se sembraba soja -Integrados por Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay y Bolivia-. A partir de allí, esta declaración explícita de neocolonialismo quedó como “marca de fábrica” del proyecto que desde las corporaciones se estaba instrumentando.

Durante el año 2012 se produjo en estos países una embestida de las corporaciones del agronegocio sobre los territorios y las instituciones imponiendo nuevos transgénicos, mayores riesgos por aplicación de agrotóxicos y cambios en las políticas que sólo tiene precedentes en la primera imposición de los transgénicos, durante la segunda mitad de los años 90. Esta nueva avanzada corporativa se da en un marco distinto, ya que ahora ocurre con la presencia en toda la región (por lo menos hasta junio del año pasado) de gobiernos “progresistas” críticos del neoliberalismo y que en algunas de sus políticas han comenzado a modificar las políticas neoliberales impuestas en los años 90 con una mayor presencia del Estado regulando la economía y asumiendo un rol activo en aspectos sociales, educativos y sanitarios.

Sin embargo, en términos de modelo agrícola y producción de alimentos no sólo no ha habido en todo este tiempo un cambio de modelo ni una autocrítica a los problemas producidos por la implantación masiva del cultivo de soja transgénica con alto altos niveles de uso de agrotóxicos. Por el contrario, este modelo se ha ido consolidando y es defendido a rajatabla por todos los gobiernos de la región que lo asumen como política de Estado, en todos los casos. Los graves problemas que han surgido o se han agudizado, tales como los impactos de los agrotóxicos, los desplazamientos de campesinos y pueblos originarios, la concentración de la tierra o la pérdida de producciones locales, son considerados “efectos colaterales” y se abordan, cuando la presión social lo consigue, de manera fragmentada y puntual. No incluimos en este análisis a Bolivia, pues si bien la región de la “medialuna”, con Santa Cruz de la Sierra a la cabeza, es parte de la “República Unida de la Soja” las posiciones, políticas y debates planteados desde el Gobierno de Evo Morales se diferencian ampliamente del resto de los gobiernos (y esto le vale el enfrentamiento con estos sectores del poder de la medialuna que claramente han planteado su intención separatista).

Ya en otros A Contrapelo 3 hemos ido denunciando que este avance fue consolidando la imposición del modelo productivo de los agronegocios, y el Cono Sur se ha convertido en la región donde más transgénicos se siembran en el mundo y en la que mayor cantidad de agrotóxicos se aplican per cápita a nivel global. En este A Contrapelo intentaremos brindar algunas luces que ayuden a comprender cómo se está produciendo este avance y sus consecuencias a nivel de las comunidades campesinas y la sociedad en general.

Los impactos del “modelo” no reconocen fronteras entre el campo y la ciudad y se sienten profundamente en ambos espacios: las poblaciones fumigadas en los territorios rurales y en las zonas periféricas de las ciudades, las y los campesinas/os desplazadas que día a día migran para engrosar los cordones de pobreza de las grandes urbes, las economías regionales destrozadas con su correlato de los altos precios de los alimentos en las ciudades, los alimentos contaminados enfermando a unos y a otros. En fin, una catástrofe socio-ambiental que hace agua por todas partes y que ya no permite “mirar para otro lado”.

Los responsables de esta cadena destructiva son un puñado y tienen nombre y apellido: Monsanto y algunas corporaciones biotecnológicas más a la cabeza (Syngenta, Bayer); terratenientes y pooles de siembra que controlan millones de hectáreas (Los Grobo, CRESUD, El Tejar, Maggi son algunos de los principales); Cargill, ADM y Bunge transportando los granos al otro lado del mundo. Y, por supuesto, los gobiernos de cada uno de los países que apoyan de manera entusiasta este modelo. A ellos se suman un extenso número de empresas que aprovechan el “derrame” y proveen servicios, maquinaria agrícola, fumigaciones, insumos, etc.

En números concretos, esta región cubre en la actualidad una superficie de más de 46 millones de hectáreas de monocultivo de soja transgénica, fumigadas con más de 600 millones de litros de glifosato y provoca una deforestación de -como mínimo- 500 mil hectáreas por año.

 

Quema de un bosque cerca de Mariscal Estagarribia , en la región de Boquerón de Paraguay. La agricultura industrial en esta región tan seca está volviendo tierra de cultivo magro este vasto bosque. (Foto : Friends of the Earth)Quema de un bosque cerca de Mariscal Estagarribia , en la región de Boquerón de Paraguay. La agricultura industrial en esta región tan seca está volviendo tierra de cultivo magro este vasto bosque. (Foto : Friends of the Earth)

 

Si bien las consecuencias de este modelo se expresan a nivel regional de manera contundente e interconectada, intentaremos diseccionar sus impactos para analizarlos de manera más profunda. El telón de fondo del golpe de Estado en el Paraguay resulta insoslayable, pues es allí donde los poderes fácticos han actuado de manera más brutal y explícita. Sin embargo, su carácter ejemplificador es válido para toda la región y sin duda ha intentado marcar un rumbo y un límite a los gobiernos de la región.

Repasemos un decálogo (con complementos) de los resultados concretos e indiscutibles de esta última embestida del agronegocio.

El agronegocio mata

Este hecho se ha expresado de manera continua durante estos últimos años y, tal como lo hemos expresado, fue en Paraguay donde más duramente se han sentido sus impactos. Quizás podamos ubicar el pico de violencia en la matanza de Curuguaty, perpetrada el 15 de junio del 2012 en donde –y como resultado de tensiones y represión estatal y paraestatal- murieron once campesinos y seis policías. La matanza fue utilizada para emprender el juicio político y dar el golpe institucional que terminó con la gestión del presidente Lugo.

Previo al Golpe, y más aun posteriormente, se desencadenó una ola represiva sobre los dirigentes campesinos que -en la nueva etapa- se comenzó a expresar bajo la forma de asesinatos selectivos que cobraron la vida de los líderes campesinos Sixto Pérez, Vidal Vega y Benjamín Lezcano, acribillados en un lapso de 8 meses de gobierno de Federico Franco.4 La CONAMURI (Coordinadora Nacional de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas) ha dicho que en el caso del asesinato de Benjamín Lezcano se observa “el mismo modus operandi que se practicó en los casos de Sixto Pérez –el 1°de septiembre pasado, en Puentesiño (Dpto. Concepción)– y de Vidal Vega –el 1°de diciembre último, en Curuguaty (Dpto. Canindeyú). El objetivo, igualmente, parece ser común: descabezar las organizaciones campesinas”.5

 

Marcha de protesta en Buenos Aires por el asesinato de Cristian Ferreyra, noviembre del 2011 (Foto : GRAIN)Marcha de protesta en Buenos Aires por el asesinato de Cristian Ferreyra, noviembre del 2011 (Foto : GRAIN)

En Argentina, durante los últimos tres años se produjeron en Santiago del Estero tres asesinatos de campesinos ligados directamente al avance del modelo sojero (Sandra Ely Juárez, Cristian Ferreyra y Miguel Galván) y en la provincias de Formosa y Salta el hostigamiento a las comunidades es permanente y sostenido.6

En Brasil, también el movimiento campesino y especialmente el MST (Movimiento de los Trabajadores Sin Tierra) han sufrido la violencia del agronegocio y recientemente la Comisión Pastoral de la Tierra (CPT) divulgó un informe preliminar de la violencia en 2012 contabilizando 36 muertes motivadas por conflictos agrarios.7 Durante el año 2013 ya son tres los dirigentes del MST que han sido asesinados (Cícero Guedes dos Santos, Regina dos Santos Pinho y Fabio dos Santos Silva).

Todo esto se da en el marco de una avanzada de la criminalización de las luchas sociales que no sólo se expresa en la persecución y estigmatización de los movimientos sino también en forma concreta en la avanzada de leyes represivas. El caso de la aprobación de la Ley antiterrorista en Argentina en diciembre del 2011 se suma a las leyes ya existentes en varios de los países de la región.

El agronegocio contamina

Una de las grandes mentiras que desde las corporaciones, los medios masivos y un sector de la academia se utilizó para justificar la introducción de las semillas transgénicas, fue que las mismas ayudarían a emplear menos agrotóxicos en la agricultura. Tal como muchas organizaciones lo anunciaron durante las últimas dos décadas, la realidad ha marcado absolutamente lo contrario y hoy en día el incremento del uso de agrotóxicos es cada vez más alarmante y sus impactos en toda la región son cada vez más difíciles de ocultar.

Todo esto no puede extrañarnos si asumimos el hecho evidente de que quienes impulsan las semillas transgénicas son las corporaciones dedicadas a la venta de agrotóxicos, con Monsanto a la cabeza, y que las semillas transgénicas que más se cultivan tienen como característica diferencial la resistencia a herbicidas.

Brasil está al frente de las estadísticas convirtiéndose desde el año 2008 en el mayor consumidor per capita de agrotóxicos del mundo y responsable del 20 % de todos los agrotóxicos usados en el planeta; con un consumo per cápita de 5,2 litros de agrotóxicos cada año.9. La escalofriante cifra de 853 millones de litros de agrotóxicos empleados durante el año 2011, con un crecimiento del mercado brasileño del 190 % en la última década, es más que elocuente. El 55 % de este consumo de agrotóxicos se empleó en cultivos de soja y maíz, siendo la soja responsable del 40% del consumo total.10 Solamente el glifosato representa cerca del 40% del consumo de agrotóxicos en Brasil.

Argentina no se ha quedado atrás. Durante el año 2011 se aplicaron 238 millones de litros de glifosato que implican un incremento del 1190 % con respecto a la cantidad utilizada en el año 1996, año en que se introdujo la soja transgénica resistente al glifosato en el país.11

En Paraguay, que es el sexto productor mundial de soja transgénica, el uso de glifosato en las cifras del año 2007 significó la aplicación de más de 13 millones de litros de este agrotóxico.12

En Uruguay, también de la mano del avance de la soja transgénica las cifras llegan a un mínimo en el año 2010 de más de 12 millones de litros.13 Es justamente en Uruguay donde en la actualidad, y a raíz de la contaminación del agua en la ciudad de Montevideo, la población urbana está comenzando a reaccionar con alarma frente a la falta de disponibilidad de agua potable para el consumo.

El balance regional nos permite suponer un mínimo de aplicación de más de 600 millones de litros de glifosato, cifra escalofriante y que tiene su correlato en las innumerables denuncias que se producen cada día por los daños ya mencionados a la salud, a los ecosistemas, a la agricultura y a las comunidades que semejante baño de agrotóxicos produce.

 

Silvino Talavera, de once años, hijo de Petrona Villasboa, murió a consecuencia deque resultó rociado con plaguicidas durante una fumigación, mientras transitaba en bicicleta por un camino que conecta dos campos de soja [soya], a 80 metros de su casa en Pirapey, Itapúa, Paraguay. (Foto : Glyn Thomas / Friends of the Earth)Silvino Talavera, de once años, hijo de Petrona Villasboa, murió a consecuencia deque resultó rociado con plaguicidas durante una fumigación, mientras transitaba en bicicleta por un camino que conecta dos campos de soja [soya], a 80 metros de su casa en Pirapey, Itapúa, Paraguay. (Foto : Glyn Thomas / Friends of the Earth)

El glifosato, ampliamente promocionado por su “baja toxicidad” por Monsanto, está siendo cuestionado por múltiples motivos entre los cuales debemos destacar:- El impacto en las comunidades ya es imposible de ocultar y son miles las personas que desde los “pueblos fumigados” denuncian los problemas de salud que sufren por su aplicación: nacimientos con malformaciones en aumento, intoxicaciones agudas fatales, problemas respiratorios, enfermedades neurológicas, aumento de los casos de cáncer, abortos, enfermedades de la piel, etc.

- Las investigaciones científicas independientes confirman esta grave problemática y los estudios que vinculan al glifosato con desarrollo de tumores y malformaciones en el desarrollo de embriones han sido publicadas en los últimos años en las más prestigiosas revistas científicas.

- Los efectos sobre la salud de los “coadyuvantes” usados en la preparación del Roundup, principalmente el surfactante Poea (polioxietilamina), también están demostrados y se lo asocia con daño gastrointestinal y al sistema nervioso central, problemas respiratorios y destrucción de glóbulos rojos en humanos.

- Los daños ambientales del glifosato también se encuentran ampliamente confirmados en la realidad de los territorios y en las investigaciones realizadas: su vínculo con la destrucción de biodiversidad es innegable al mismo tiempo que su efecto tóxico sobre anfibios está demostrado y publicado.

Pero tan grave como estas cifras, son las del incremento del uso de otros agrotóxicos que se emplean asociados al glifosato o para compensar su falta de acción frente al surgimiento inevitable de malezas resistentes. Así es como el empleo del paraquat ha crecido llegando a utilizarse 1,2 millones de litros en Argentina y 3,32 millones en los cinco países productores de soja. Es importante recordar que el paraquat está vinculado a desórdenes neurológicos y por esta razón fue prohibido en 13 países de la Unión Europea en el año 2003.14

Sin lugar a dudas, el empleo de agrotóxicos es otra de las formas que tiene el agronegocio de matar.

El agronegocio impone los transgénicos

La introducción de nuevos transgénicos ligados al uso de nuevos agrotóxicos es parte de la estrategia de las corporaciones, y ha estado a la orden del día durante el año 2012.

El anuncio oficial de la presidenta argentina Cristina Fernández en el Council of Americas el 15 de junio del 2012 sobre las nuevas inversiones de Monsanto en Argentina preanunció lo que sería durante el resto de año una catarata de proyectos, anuncios e intentos de modificación de la legislación que marcó la agenda oficial y corporativa durante los meses siguientes.

Así fue que en agosto del 2012 el Ministro de Agricultura Norberto Yahuar anunció junto a ejecutivos de Monsanto la aprobación de la nueva soja rr2 “Intacta”, que trae como novedad la acumulación de la resistencia al glifosato con la producción de la toxina Bt. O sea que la única novedad es la conjunción de las dos únicas características que la industria biotecnológica logró poner en el mercado en 20 años de existencia.

Pero además de este anuncio existen aprobaciones y ensayos de campo de otros transgénicos, entre los que destacan los de soja y maíz resistentes a nuevos herbicidas, entre ellos el glufosinato y el 2,4 D. Andrés Carrasco, investigador del CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas) de Argentina planteaba hace pocos meses con claridad la problemática: “hay un aspecto interesante a considerar en lo inmediato en la Argentina, es que 5 de esos 10 eventos transgénicos aprobados, 3 de maíz y 2 de soja, combinan la resistencia al glifosato con otra al glufosinato de amonio (un bloqueante de la síntesis del aminoácido glutamina) para reforzar los efectos de aquel. La necesidad de asociar en las nuevas semillas el glifosato con el glufosinato, da cuenta de las inconsistencias de la tecnología de los transgénicos tanto en su construcción como en su comportamiento en el tiempo. Sin embargo, se sigue huyendo hacia delante intentando remediar las debilidades conceptuales de la tecnología transgénica, con soluciones que tienden a ser cada vez más peligrosas”.15

En Paraguay, a pocos meses del golpe institucional, el Ministerio de Agricultura aprobó el maíz transgénico que venía siendo resistido por las autoridades del gobierno depuesto y que enfrenta un rechazo explícito y contundente por parte de las organizaciones campesinas, debido a la amenaza que representa para las muchas variedades locales de maíz cultivadas por pueblos indígenas y campesinos. Así fue como en octubre del 2012 se aprobaron cuatro variedades de maíz transgénico de Monsanto, Dow, Agrotec y Syngenta.16 Ya en el mes de agosto el presidente de facto Franco había autorizado por decreto la importación de semillas de algodón Bt-rr, probando claramente para quién gobernaba.

En Brasil la escalada comenzó a fines del año 2011 cuando se anunció la aprobación por parte de la CTNBio (Comisión Técnica Nacional de Bioseguridad) del primer frijol transgénico comercial “íntegramente desarrollado en Brasil” y resistente al mosaico dorado del frijol. Este evento, por ser desarrollado por una institución pública como el Embrapa y por poseer características distintas a los transgénicos más difundidos (Bt y rr) fue utilizado como bandera pro transgénica destacando su importancia “social y alimenticia”.17 Sin embargo, su aprobación ha sido fuertemente cuestionada por funcionarios públicos, la comunidad científica y la sociedad civil. Así es que Renato Maluf, presidente del Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional (Consea), cuestiona su rápida liberación en respeto al principio de la precaución. “Creemos que es una temeridad la prisa por liberar un producto que consumirá toda la población y sobre el cual no tenemos certeza de seguridad alimenticia y nutricional”, lamentó. Mientras tanto, Ana Carolina Brolo, asesora jurídica de la organización humanitaria Tierra de Derechos, coincidió con Maluf al indicar que “fue una aprobación comercial que tuvo como característica la falta de respeto a la legislación nacional e internacional de bioseguridad”.18

El balance general es que la avalancha de nuevos transgénicos se ha intensificado y en la mayor parte de los casos la misma implica su cultivo ligado a agrotóxicos, en algunos casos los mismos que ya se están utilizando (glifosato fundamentalmente) y, en otros, la introducción de nuevos herbicidas aún más tóxicos y peligrosos (dicamba, glufosinato, 2,4 D). En Brasil el Movimiento de Pequeños Agricultores (MPA), integrante de la Vía Campesina, denunció en abril del 2012 la pronta aprobación de semillas transgénicas de soja y maíz resistentes al herbicida 2,4 D.19 Estas mismas semillas ya se encuentran en etapa de experimentación a campo en Argentina.

El agronegocio se propone controlar de manera absoluta las semillas

La imposición de nuevas leyes de semillas también ha estado a la orden del día en toda América Latina, pero tuvo en Argentina, y con una ligazón directa al acuerdo con Monsanto antes mencionado, uno de los focos de acción más visibles y activos. El mismo día del anuncio de la aprobación de la soja rr2 “intacta” el Ministro de Agricultura anunció el envío de un Proyecto de Ley de Semillas para que fuera tratado en el Congreso antes de fines del 2012.

El proyecto nunca se hizo oficialmente público, ni se sometió a un debate amplio, si no que fue discutido a puertas cerradas dentro del Ministerio de Agricultura por una parte de los sectores del agronegocio argentino. Sin embargo, su contenido trascendió las fronteras del Ministerio y su análisis permitió confirmar lo que ya se podía presumir luego del anuncio oficial: la nueva Ley busca subordinar la política nacional de semillas a las exigencias de la UPOV y las transnacionales.

El Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena (MNCI) denunció que “La ley propuesta no protege los conocimientos ni la biodiversidad, sólo fomenta la privatización y protege la propiedad sobre lo que es un patrimonio colectivo de los pueblos, especialmente de las comunidades campesinas y los pueblos indígenas; abre las puertas para que se profundice la expropiación y privatización de la biodiversidad agrícola y silvestre de Argentina; ilegaliza o restringe gravemente prácticas que han estado en vigencia desde los inicios de la agricultura, como es el seleccionar, mejorar, obtener, guardar, multiplicar e intercambiar semilla libremente a partir de la cosecha anterior; fortalece las condiciones para que se profundice la introducción de nuevos cultivos transgénicos y su expansión, al otorgar propiedad sobre variedades sin exigir prueba efectiva de mejoramiento y en base a la simple expresión de un carácter y otorga a las empresas semilleras el poder de policía, ya que deja en sus manos el asegurar que las disposiciones de la ley se observen adecuadamente”.20

La movilización de diversos sectores logró que se postergara su presentación y debate en el Congreso Nacional; pero la amenaza de su imposición permanece latente.

Es muy claro que controlar este primer eslabón de la agricultura es uno de los objetivos principales de las corporaciones para de esta manera poder tener control sobre todo el sistema agroalimentario y garantizarse así un monopolio sin fisuras. Y también es claro que este control impacta de manera directa sobre los pueblos, impidiendo el ejercicio de la soberanía alimentaria y condenando al hambre a millones.

El agronegocio destruye los bosques

La deforestación en toda la región ha cobrado una escala dramática y aún con medidas que intentan detenerla (como la Ley de Bosques en Argentina o las regulaciones que se generan en Brasil) la misma no sólo no se ha detenido sino que durante estos últimos años se ha intensificado, teniendo como principal detonante el avance de la frontera agrícola (o el desplazamiento de la frontera ganadera como consecuencia de lo anterior).

Un vez más, Brasil encabeza las posiciones con 28 millones de hectáreas de pérdida neta de bosques para el período 2000-201021 con una desaparición de 641.800 hectáreas de bosques amazónicos entre agosto del 2010 y julio del 201122 festejada como un gran triunfo por las autoridades nacionales.

Las cifras para Argentina nos dicen que “entre 2004 y 2012 las topadoras arrasaron 2.501.912 hectáreas, el equivalente a 124 veces la superficie de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Otra forma de decir lo mismo: en Argentina se arrasan 36 canchas de fútbol por hora. Los datos surgen del cruce de relevamientos oficiales y de oenegés. El último informe de la Secretaría de Ambiente de la Nación relevó el período 2006/2011 y contabilizó que se arrasaron 1.779.360 hectáreas de monte nativo”.23

En Paraguay la situación es quizás una de las más graves en términos de porcentaje de deforestación: por un lado, la deforestación histórica en la región oriental que significó que entre 1945 y 1997 se perdiera el 76.3% de la cobertura boscosa original por su conversión a tierras para la producción agropecuaria.24 Y por otro, la actual deforestación en le región occidental (bosque chaqueño) donde el año 2011 culminó con una pérdida de 286.742 hectáreas de bosques, lo que superó en un 23% a la cifra de 232.000 hectáreas deforestadas durante 2010.25

Una mirada global a esta tragedia nos permite cobrar mejor dimensión de los que está ocurriendo: un estudio publicado por la FAO en el año 2011 26 señala que el promedio anual de pérdida neta de bosque en el período 1990 y 2005 es de cerca de 5 millones de hectáreas (en el mundo), de los cuales 4 millones se encuentran en Sudamérica.

Aquí también el agronegocio vuelve a matar: a los ecosistemas únicos de la región y a todos los pueblos que durante milenios han vivido, crecido y convivido con los bosques, cuidándolos y alimentándolos.

El agronegocio concentra la tierra en pocas manos

La concentración de la tierra es otro de los fenómenos que ha caracterizado los últimos años de implantación de la soja transgénica en todo el Cono Sur. Países en los que ya la concentración de la tierra era enorme vieron durante estos años como esa concentración se profundizaba y se reducía el número de manos que la controlaban.

Fue también Paraguay, uno de los países con peor distribución de la tierra en América Latina, donde el impacto se hizo sentir más y hoy ostenta la escalofriante cifra de un 2 % de los productores controlando el 85 % de la superficie agrícola. Esta situación se agrava aún más cuando desde los países vecinos – fundamentalmente Brasil, pero también Argentina- se está produciendo una embestida sobre sus territorios para avanzar con el cultivo de soja transgénica.

Veamos algunas de las cifras en cada uno de los países 27 :

 

Caseríos precarios a la orilla de la carretera, ocupados por gente expulsada de su tierra por los monocultivos de soya en el Alto Paraná, Paraguay. (Foto : Glyn Thomas / Friends of the Earth)Caseríos precarios a la orilla de la carretera, ocupados por gente expulsada de su tierra por los monocultivos de soya en el Alto Paraná, Paraguay. (Foto : Glyn Thomas / Friends of the Earth)

- En Paraguay, en el 2005, el 4% de los productores de soja manejaron el 60% del total de la superficie con este cultivo. 

- En Brasil, en el 2006, el 5% de los productores de soja manejaron el 59% del total del área dedicada a ese cultivo.

- En Argentina, en el 2010, más del 50 % de la producción de soja estuvo controlada por el 3% del total de productores, a través de extensiones de más de 5.000 hectáreas.

- En Uruguay, en 2010, el 26% de productores controló el 85% del total de tierras con soja. En ese mismo año, el 1% del total de los productores tuvieron a su cargo el 35% de la superficie cultivada con soja.

El modelo impuesto ha significado una profunda transformación en la forma en que se produce la concentración de la tierra ya que en la actualidad y en su mayor parte la misma no es adquirida si no arrendada por los grandes productores. Por otro lado, los productores ya no son personas físicas identificables sino pooles de siembra alimentados en su mayor parte por grupos de inversión especulativos.

Las consecuencias para las comunidades locales, campesinos y pueblos indígenas son siempre las mismas: la expulsión de sus territorios, en muchísimos casos a través del uso directo de la violencia, como ya hemos compartido analizando otras facetas de este modelo.

Si bien las cifras de los expulsados son difíciles de evaluar porque no existen estadísticas certeras para cada país y mucho menos a nivel regional, algunos investigadores han encontrado, por ejemplo, que en Paraguay el avance de la soja llevaría a una cantidad de familias campesinas expulsadas que alcanzaría el número de 143 mil, más de la mitad de las 280 mil fincas con menos de 20 hectáreas registradas en el censo agropecuario de 1991 28 como consecuencia del avance de las soja para alcanzar las 4 millones de hectáreas que el agronegocio se propone. Para Argentina este modelo ha generado un éxodo rural sin precedentes que para el año 2007 ya suponía la expulsión de más de 200.000 agricultores y trabajadores rurales con sus familias del agro argentino (26). En Brasil, desde la década de los años setenta del siglo XX la producción de soja ha desplazado a 2,5 millones de personas en el estado de Paraná y a 300.000 en el de Río Grande do Sul.29

El agronegocio busca consolidarse como dictador en la República Unida de la Soja

El golpe institucional en Paraguay demuestra cómo el agronegocio, con las corporaciones actuando junto a los terratenientes y cómplices a nivel nacional, no se detiene frente a los avances y los límites, que aun tímidamente, intentan instrumentar algunos gobiernos.

En Paraguay el gobierno del presidente Lugo, aún con minoría parlamentaria, intentó desde algunas áreas de gobierno (Ministerio de Salud, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Servicio Nacional de Calidad y Sanidad Vegetal y de Semillas – Senave) poner límites a algunas cuestiones graves como lo son los impactos de las fumigaciones y la aprobación de nuevos transgénicos, en especial el maíz rr y el algodón Bt. También estableció un diálogo con las organizaciones campesinas en la búsqueda de frenar la histórica violencia existente en el campo fruto de la tremenda concentración de la tierra que existe en el país.

Los poderosos sectores del agronegocio agrupados en la UGP (Unión de Gremios de la Producción), que cuenta con el apoyo de corporaciones como Monsanto y Cargill, desató una guerra contra las autoridades responsables de estas áreas, pidiendo su cabeza y amenazando y ejecutando acciones públicas en ese sentido.

La matanza de Curuguaty fue la excusa que encontraron para derrocar -de la mano de sus aliados parlamentarios- al presidente Lugo en menos de dos horas de sesión y así imponer sus intereses en todos los ámbitos.

Así fue como junto con el presidente Lugo salieron todos los funcionarios comprometidos con estos procesos de cambio y rápidamente se impusieron las medidas que el agronegocio pretendía: fin a los límites a las fumigaciones, aprobación de nuevos transgénicos, promesas de cambio en la Ley de Semillas, etc.

La reciente elección que consagró al empresario Horacio Cartés como nuevo presidente llevando nuevamente al gobierno al partido Colorado fue el último paso para consagrar la impunidad y el poder ilimitado del agronegocio.

Sin embargo, en el resto de los países de la región la situación – si bien no presenta la cruda realidad de Paraguay- también es evidente la manera en que el agronegocio establece las políticas públicas en las cuestiones referidas al agro y la alimentación e interfiere en cualquier intento de modificación de las mismas desde otras perspectivas diferentes a las de sus intereses corporativos.

Todo esto confirma algo que a nivel global se está haciendo evidente y que se denuncia en todo el mundo: la democracia es incompatible con el dominio del control corporativo y es necesario desmantelar sus estructuras para poder pensar y avanzar en cualquier proceso de democratización que privilegie el bien común.

El agronegocio somete y coloniza a las instituciones de investigación y que regulan la ciencia y tecnología en cada país

Las universidades e institutos de investigación de toda la región, salvo honrosas excepciones, se encuentran colonizadas por el poder y los fondos de las corporaciones del agronegocio que las utilizan como engranaje para imponer sus transgénicos y sus modelos de producción industrializados.

Durante el año 2012 cobró estado público y fue denunciado por la sociedad civil el acuerdo de Monsanto con el INIA (Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agropecuaria) en Uruguay para incluir en el germoplasma de soja local que maneja el instituto transgenes propiedad de la empresa.30La firma del acuerdo fue cuestionada por la Comisión Nacional de Fomento Rural (CNFR), la gremial que agrupa y representa a los productores familiares en la Junta Directiva del INIA y por diversas organizaciones de la sociedad civil, entre ellas REDES-Amigos de la Tierra. El convenio, no accesible al público, suscitó un pedido de informes por parte de legisladores del Frente Amplio (FA).

También con posterioridad al golpe en Paraguay, el nuevo ministro de Agricultura y Ganadería del país guaraní, Enzo Cardozo anunció que “Paraguay va a producir su propia semilla transgénica que va a estar a disposición de todos los productores”. La producción estaría a cargo del Instituto Paraguayo de Tecnología Agropecuaria (IPTA), que recibiría “transferencia tecnológica” de Monsanto, para la cual el gobierno comandado por el presidente de facto Federico Franco pagaría un monto a convenirse.31

Pero Monsanto ya posee acuerdos de “cooperación” con instituciones públicas en Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay y Brasil desde mucho antes de esta última avanzada y las utiliza como mano de obra barata para sus investigaciones y como cadena directa para realizar la “extensión rural” de sus transgénicos. De la misma manera muchos de los funcionarios políticos actúan como brazo ideológico de las corporaciones en sus intentos de imponerse, siendo un caso paradigmático el del Ministro argentino de Ciencia y Tecnología Lino Barañao, que no pierde ocasión para ejercer su descarado lobby pro-transgénico.

El agronegocio es una forma más de extractivismo que está saqueando los territorios

La agricultura industrial es una actividad extractivista porque sus principios se basan en considerar a los suelos un sustrato inerte del que se extraen nutrientes (proteínas y minerales) sobre la base de la utilización de tecnología y productos químicos sin respetar a los suelos como organismos vivos ni reponer los nutrientes extraídos de forma natural.

Este extractivismo se expresa de manera brutal con el cultivo de soja transgénica pues ni el discurso de la “siembra directa” puede encubrir la cruda realidad de que la soja no devuelve ni remotamente la cantidad de nutrientes que extrae a los suelos, ni puede la siembra directa sostener la estructura y capacidad de retención de agua de los mismos.

Ya en otros documentos hemos compartido la forma en que en Argentina se están degradando los suelos y se están extrayendo millones de toneladas de nutrientes y miles de millones de litros de agua.32

Veamos algunas de las cifras concretas solamente para Argentina (los valores no están disponibles para los otros países):

El monocultivo de soja repetido año tras año en los campos produce una intensa degradación de los suelos con una pérdida de entre 19 y 30 toneladas de suelo en función del manejo, la pendiente del suelo o el clima.

La soja produjo durante la temporada 2006/2007 (con una producción de 47.380.222 toneladas) una extracción neta de:

- 1.148.970,39 toneladas de nitrógeno,

- 255.853,20 toneladas de fósforo,

- 795.987,73 toneladas de potasio,

- 123.188,58 toneladas de calcio,

- 132.664,62 toneladas de azufre y

- 331,66 toneladas de boro.

También cada cosecha de soja que se exporta se lleva 42 mil quinientos millones de metros cúbicos de agua por año (datos de la temporada 2004/2005).

El agronegocio actúa en complicidad con los grandes medios masivos de comunicación

Todo este proceso de imposición cuenta en toda la región con un aliado poderoso: los medios de comunicación corporativos y dominantes que actúan como brazo comunicacional incondicional del agronegocio (la única condición son la millonarias publicidades con que se llenan páginas y horas de radio y televisión).

Los mecanismos con los que funciona esta alianza se reducen a algunos lineamientos básicos que podemos resumir en:

- La ponderación absoluta de la agroindustria como panacea para la producción de alimentos creando una ligazón absoluta con el “progreso”, el “desarrollo” y el bienestar de la sociedad.

- La cooptación del discurso del desarrollo sustentable para convertir, desde la propaganda, en “sustentable” cualquier iniciativa desde miradas parciales y fragmentarias.

- La negación absoluta de todo debate o información sobre las luchas sociales de resistencia, los debates científicos o económicos o los impactos en las comunidades y en el ambiente.

- La estigmatización y criminalización de los movimientos y organizaciones sociales mostrándolos como “subversivos”, violentos, antisociales o “atados al pasado”.

Quizás uno de los países donde esta alianza es más evidente es en Paraguay, donde la mencionada UGP está vinculada al Grupo Zuccolillo, dueño del poderoso diario ABC Color que fue uno de los medios desde donde se montó la campaña golpista contra Lugo. Zuccolillo es además presidente de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa SIP.33

Y por si esto fuera poco: el agronegocio cambia el clima

El vínculo entre la Crisis Climática que estamos sufriendo a nivel global y la agricultura industrial se halla ampliamente demostrado y presenta cifras alarmantes: como mínimo, entre el 44 y el 57 % de los Gases de Efecto Invernadero (GEI) se deben a la cadena de producción agroindustrial en sus distintas etapas.

Es evidente que un territorio donde la agricultura industrial se ha impuesto de manera brutal tiene que ser uno de los principales contribuyentes a esta crisis global. Pero también resulta evidente en toda la región que la conjunción de los problemas globales con aquellos regionales tal como la deforestación están trayendo consecuencias gravísimas, que se sufren en las zonas rurales con extensos periodos de sequía y ciclos de inundaciones, y en las ciudades con lluvias, fenómenos climáticos extremos e inundaciones para los cuales no existe infraestructura capaz de contener y cuyas principales víctimas son justamente los expulsados del campo.

Consideraciones finales

Esta dramática realidad encuentra en toda la región una amplia y articulada movilización que está enfrentando el despojo desde la resistencia local, la movilización, la denuncia pública, la construcción de alternativas y la lucha en todos los frentes posibles que van desde las vías legales hasta la desobediencia civil y la recuperación de territorios por parte de las comunidades despojadas.

Si bien es cierto que existe aún una gran fragmentación de las luchas sociales, también es una realidad que ninguna de ellas se queda en el análisis, en la mera lucha puntual, sino que se está construyendo una mirada integral que pone a la soberanía alimentaria en el centro de las luchas y a la autonomía y el bien común como horizontes.

Esperamos que este A Contrapelo sume una semilla a los nuevos cultivos y culturas que en el Cono Sur están germinando.

 


Notas

 

3“Monsanto y las regalías semilleras en Argentina”, GRAIN, 8 de octubre de 2004

5“Plan de exterminio”, Reportaje a Magui Balbuena de CONAMURI por Radio Mundo Real, 23 de febrero de 2013

6“El árbol y el bosque”, Biodiversidadla, 10 de abril de 2013

7“Un militante del MST es asesinado”, MARCHA, 3 de abril de 2013

8“A luta constante contra os agrotoxicos”, Brasil de Fato, 11 de enero de 2013

9“Especial sobre agrotoxicos”, Brasil de Fato, junio 2012

10“Agrotóxicos, segurança alimentar e nutricional e saúde”, Associação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva, 2012

11“Producción de soya en el Cono Sur de las Américas”, GENOK, 31 de julio de 2012

12“Alimento sano, pueblo soberano”, CONAMURI, noviembre del 2011

13 Ibid. 11

14 Ibid. 11

15Un nuevo veneno, el glufosinato, lettro de Andrés Carrasco, Biodiversidadla, 31 de agosto de 2013

16Aprobado el uso de 4 tipos de semillas transgénicas de maiz, Paraguay.com, 25 de octubre de 2012

17“Aprueban la producción y comercialización del primer transgénico brasileño”, Agro Noticias FAO, 16 de septiembre de 2011

18“Fríjol transgénico desata polémica alimentaria”, IPS, 30 de septiembre de 2011

20“¡NO a la privatización de las semillas en Argentina!”, MNCI – CLOC-VC Argentina – GRAIN – AT – ACBIO, 2 de octubre de 2012

21“¿Tiene sentido declarar un Día Internacional de los Bosques?”, Boletín N° 188 del WRM, 3 de abril de 2013

23“El árbol y el bosque”, Mu 63, 15 de marzo de 2013

24“Paraguay: cómo se pierde el 90% de los bosques de un país, Vanessa Sánchez, Soitu.es, 11 de agosto de 2008

26“Sudamérica, la peor en deforestación a nivel mundial”, BBC Mundo, 30 de noviembre de 2011

27 Ibid. 11

28“Los refugiados modelo agroexportador”, Javiera Rulli, Repúblicas Unidas de la Soja, GRR, 2007

29“Una reflexión sobre la reciente expansión del cultivo de la soja en América Latina”, Segrelles Serrano, José Antonio, Grupo Interdisciplinario de Estudios Críticos y de América Latina, 25 de junio de 2007

30“Una reflexión sobre la reciente expansión del cultivo de la soja en América Latina”, Segrelles Serrano, José Antonio, Grupo Interdisciplinario de Estudios Críticos y de América Latina, 25 de junio de 2007

31“La espada de Monsanto sobre América Latina”, Marcha, 4 de octubre de 2012

32“Extractivismo y agricultura industrial o como convertir suelos fértiles en territorios mineros”, GRAIN, Revista Biodiversidad, sustento y culturas N° 75, enero 2012

33 Ibid. 31

Today’s Most Popular Stories on Global Research

July 7th, 2013 by Global Research News

The Pentagon was behind Egypt’s Military Coup

July 7th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Press TV has conducted an interview with Michel Chossudovsky, Centre for Research on Globalization, Montreal about the coup d’état by the Egyptian military that has deposed the elected Morsi government after large anti-government protests arose.

“We must understand that from 1991 to the present – over a 20-year period, the Egyptian economy has been destabilized, the Nile Value bread basket has been destroyed. 3,000 years of self-sufficient agriculture; food prices have risen; unemployment has gone sky high; the industrial fabric of a relatively self-reliant economy has been destroyed; and this is the basis of the protest movement.

People are protesting because their living standards have collapsed and they saw in this new government an avenue of change. But bear in mind: the United States is supporting both sides and their objective and their strategy is to destabilize this country as a nation-state.”

“I don’t doubt that in Washington there is already a scenario of regime change and that scenario of regime change is there with a view to ensure continuity. But at the same time there is also a scenario of political and economic destabilization on an unprecedented scale.”

Complete transcript of interview below

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: I’d like to have your impression on the situation in Egypt two days after a coup d’état the situation is very tense in Egypt. Tell us more about your opinion.

Chossudovsky: Well, I think we have to reflect a little bit on the history of the Morsi government going back to the Arab Spring, in other words, two and a half years ago. And we also have to ask ourselves, who are the major actors behind this coup d’état?

It is a coup d’état in the sense that the military have intervened and they have demoted a duly elected government. I should underscore the fact that the reports confirm that the protest movement against the Muslim Brotherhood government was also directed against the United States.

In other words, the protest movement perceives the Morsi government as a proxy of the United States and in particular the Muslim Brotherhood government has accepted all the conditions, which were imposed by the International Monetary Fund upon the accession to the formation of a government – namely the application of strong economic medicine, which essentially is continuity in relation to the previous period.

It’s a structural adjustment program; it’s devastating economic reforms; and I think what’s motivated the protest movement, certainly the derogation of civil liberties, the implementation of Islamic law is an issue; but more fundamentally it is the process of impoverishment, which has become heightened by the installation of this government and the social situation in the country is far more serious than it was during the Mubarak period.

So that what we have is a continuity pertaining to these neoliberal economic reforms: massive austerity measures, rising food prices, rising unemployment and ultimately this discontent is motivated by the collapse in the standard of living and also by the hope that a new government would do something different to what the Mubarak government was doing. So I think that has to be taken into account. However, let us look at who is behind this coup.

The press reports suggest that the protest movement is directed against the United States and that the armed forces in a certain sense are supportive of the protest movement. I think this in many regards is a smokescreen because US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as well as the US Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey were in permanent liaison with the architects of the coup in the two weeks preceding the military takeover.

We should be under no illusions, the Egyptian military may have differences within its ranks, but ultimately it tows the line, it takes its orders from Washington DC.

Egypt is the largest recipient of US military aid after Israel. It is a strong ally and if they have taken this position of intervening and demoting a duly elected government, they have done it with the green light from the Pentagon.

I think it is highly unlikely that General Abdul Al Sisi who is the architect of the coup d’état would have acted without consulting his counterpart namely US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

If we look a little bit at recent events we see that General Al Sisi was in permanent liaison by telephone to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; we should also understand that the defense minister who instigated the coup d’état is also a graduate of the US war college – he’s very close to the US military; and I sincerely doubt that he would have acted without having the go-ahead from his US counterparts.

This of course doesn’t mean necessarily that… I mean, there are certain contradictions – you have a protest movement, which is directed against the Morsi government and then you have a military, which is supported by the United States.

In fact the United States is supporting both sides and that is part of its underlying strategy. It supports the military and then it supported – it no longer supports – but it supported the Brotherhood.

And what this is leading to is a situation of internal conflict, which could lead to a process of destabilization on a much broader scale. I should also mention that the border with the Gaza Strip has been closed.

This crisis has a bearing not only on Egypt, but on the broader region because Egypt is very strategic for America; it’s a gateway for North Africa and is also a gateway for sub-Saharan Africa.

Press TV: Morsi, initially when he came in he had the support of the US, but now it seems he doesn’t have the support of the US. Just what is in it for America now?

Chossudovsky: Ultimately what the United States action involved was essentially to ensure that this protest movement doesn’t get out of control and the coup d’état is ultimately intend to manipulate the protest movement and prevent the accession of a real people’s government.

Morsi was not a people’s government. Well, he got 50-plus percent of the vote, but immediately upon accession to his position as president he reached an agreement with the IMF, which was imposed by Washington and Wall Street and essentially he continued in the footsteps of Mubarak.

So, this was not an alternative to the Mubarak governments by any means. It was a replacement of the Mubarak government, which in effect was following in the same path, adopting the same economic measures as ultimately those economic measures is what mattered. So Morsi actually did exactly what Mubarak was doing, faithfully obeying the orders of the Washington consensus from the outset of his presidency.

And that economic model dates back to 1991. I happened to be – and this is of course beyond the scope of this interview – I happened to be in the minister of finance’s office in 1991 in Cairo at the very moment when this program was being implemented and imposed by the IMF talking to senior advisers of the government, everybody was against it, but their hands were bound.

We must understand that from 1991 to the present – over a 20-year period, the Egyptian economy has been destabilized, the Nile Value bread basket has been destroyed. 3,000 years of self-sufficient agriculture; food prices have risen; unemployment has gone sky high; the industrial fabric of a relatively self-reliant economy has been destroyed; and this is the basis of the protest movement. People are protesting because their living standards have collapsed and they saw in this new government an avenue of change. But bear in mind the United States is supporting both sides and their objective and their strategy is to destabilize this country as a nation-state.

Press TV: Some say the army is in power until the turbulence and tension in the country calms down. How willing is the army to initiate another election for a civilian government to be put into power?

Chossudovsky: That’s a very difficult question at this stage. They may have a certain legitimacy. I don’t doubt that in Washington there is already a scenario of regime change and that scenario of regime change is there with a view to ensure continuity. But at the same time there is also a scenario of political and economic destabilization on an unprecedented scale.

But what is occurring now in the streets of Cairo is a clash between two competing political movements, both of which have been misled by the people who are pulling the strings behind the scenes. It’s worth noting that www.military.com, which is essentially the mouthpiece of the US military establishment stated and I quote, “US Defense Secretary Hagel and US Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey were walking a fine line expressing concern while attempting to avoid the impression that the US was manipulating events behind the scene”. And that comes from a mainstream military online source.

I would suggest and my understanding is that in effect this whole process has been manipulated; the protest movement is infiltrated; many sectors of the opposition to Morsi are in fact supported by US foundations and in turn the Brotherhood is supported covertly by the United States and US intelligence.

And it has you know, starting in the 1940s it as supported by the British secret service and throughout the 1950s and up to the present, the Brotherhood has always been supported or infiltrated by Western intelligence.

Press TV: What do outside countries think about this situation in Egypt, countries other than the US, Egypt’s friends?

Chossudovsky: Well, I think at this stage that is something, which is too early to say, I think there is a lot of confusion in what has actually happened. The armed forces in some sectors of Western public opinion are considered as patriots, as nationalists, who are coming to the rescue of the protest movement and then this protest movement is then portrayed as anti-American. The new military leaders and the interim president have requested the recall of the US Ambassador to Egypt, which then provides, in fact creates the illusion that ultimately the military are anti-American, which they’re not. They are very close with their US counterparts, both US military and intelligence.

Press TV: Do you see any role or involvement by remnants of the previous regime of Mubarak in this situation?

Chossudovsky: That’s always a possibility. I think that the names will change. I think we’re possibly going towards another regime change, but I should specify that this is a regime replacement; it is not an alternative neither to the Morsi government nor to the previous government of Hosni Mubarak. From my standpoint, with some nuances, they are very similar because they are obeying the orders of a proxy regime and they are faithfully fulfilling the corporate opening-up of the Egyptian economy to foreign investors and so on. And that’s what matters to the United States and its allies.

It’s a neo-Colonial policy, which in effect is restructuring Egypt as a territory within the region and that is what is ultimately very disturbing and there is a lot of confusion.

This could also, potentially, evolve towards a civil war. I’m suggesting it will, but I’m saying there are elements of crisis at the moment and it just so happens that both factions within the protest movement – the supporters of Morsi on the one hand and the protesters, those who wanted the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood government – both these sections are supported by the same handlers, Western handlers namely the United States of America.

Some are supported by Western foundations, others are supported by the US military – the close relationship of the Egyptian military to the Pentagon; several civil society organizations Kifaya, April 6th movement, which we know was supported historically even by the US State Department.

So we’re dealing with a protest movement, which was manipulated in early 2011 and it is manipulated currently in the present context in the opposition movement to the Morsi government.

This article is dedicated to former South Yorkshire terror analyst Tony Farrell who lost his job but kept his integrity, and with thanks to the documentation provided by the July 7th Truth Campaign

“:One intriguing aspect of the London Bombing report is the fact that the MI5 codename for the event is “Stepford”. The four “bombers” are referred to as the “Stepford four”.

Why is this the case? … the MI5 codename is very revealing in that it suggests the operation was a carefully coordinated and controlled one with four compliant and malleable patsies following direct orders.

Now if MI5 has no idea who was behind the operation or whether there were any orders coming from a mastermind, why would they give the event the codename “Stepford”? ” (Steve Watson, January 30, 2006 Prison Planet)

Background

The word was out that there was easy money to be made by Muslims taking part in an emergency- preparedness operation. Mohammad Sidique Khan — better known by his western nickname “Sid” –  had been approached by his contact, probably Haroon Rashid Aswat who was in town, about a big emergency preparedness operation that was looking for local Pakistanis who might take the part of pretend “suicide bombers” for the enactment.  The call was somewhat unusual: not just anyone was to be asked.  The people running this wanted “young men who were conservatively and cleanly dressed and probably had some higher education”. It looked as if it might be one of the ones related to Visor Consultants, which had a history of holding such events.   Sid’s wife, Hasina Patel, had been experiencing complications in her second pregnancy; he wondered if she might be better off getting help through expensive, private doctors.  He agreed to take part in it and to recruit others.

Did he smell a rat?  Khan asked only men of Pakistani descent who were single.  His friend and younger sidekick Shezad Tanweer, who had just graduated from university, agreed.  He had just racked up a big car repair bill on his beloved red Mercedes and could use the money.  Eighteen-year old Hasib Hussain was a good guy who was awaiting his exams for entry into Leeds University that September; he could use the money for a car he had been looking at for the commute. Ejaz Fiaz, who was known for sometimes dyeing his hair blonde for parties, also agreed.  He was a bit flakey but he seemed to fit the bill.  Khan gave their names as volunteers.

What could go wrong?  Aswat was well connected with British security and had to be reliable. But he had felt somewhat compromised by his and Tanweer’s work with security people the previous year.  No one was more patriotic than he and Tanweer.  They loved their country and wanted to help their government in any way.  They had allowed themselves to be taped in 2004, but he didn’t feel good about it.  He and Tanweer had been acting in good faith in getting other Muslims, like Omar Khyam, to talk on tape, but he started to realize that security people were basically trying to find Muslims to set up for their “War on Terror.” It had become dangerous for Muslims, even for patriots like him and Tanweer. He wondered whether the work they did for security had made them safer or put them in a more precarious position. Tapes the two of them had made for security guys the year before bothered him, tapes that had made them look like some kind of crazy terrorists, dressed up half like pirates and half like Palestinians, with red kifieh’s wrapped around their heads. They had been talked into being photographed like that against his better judgement — of course, they had also gotten paid for it.  He  hoped that those tapes were lying somewhere, forgotten.

But what could anyone do to him?  Everybody knew him; his reputation was such that he had to be untouchable.  He had been featured in a Sunday Times educational supplement for his excellent work in counseling children of immigrants; he was known for fixing dangerous situations, including conflict resolution with troubled teenagers, and he had even been able to help get kids off drugs. Kids knew he cared about their problems when he talked to them.   He also knew important people and was even a friend of his Member of Parliament.  His mother-in-law knew the Queen and had special recognition for her progressive work with Muslim women. If there was anyone in the Muslim community who had to be beyond any suspicion for any funny business, it had to be him.

Still, it would be naive to think that there were no risks at all involved.  It chilled him, wondering why an emergency preparedness operation really needed fake “suicide bombers”.   Khan got the word out that he and Hasina had separated.  He didn’t want her harassed if anything went wrong and he was being set up.

Fiaz, the party guy, ended up cancelling out in the end, so Khan contacted Jamal (or, using his non-Muslim name, Germaine) Lindsay, a burly, black bodybuilder who had been born in Jamaica, to take Fiaz’s place.  He wasn’t of Pakistani origin, but he was Muslim, anyway.  His wife Samantha Lewthwaite was about to deliver their second child, so Lindsay was happy to get extra money.

All of the guys volunteering knew the security contacts; it looked as if it might be fun while they were helping out and making a bit of extra money.

Timeline

Thursday, July 7th, 2005, is a day people still talk about in London, England.  A meeting of the G8 had started in Gleneagles and London had just been named as the city for the next summer Olympics. It was all good.

At about 8:50 am, Scotland Yard’s office put a call through to their Mossad contacts at the Israeli embassy. (Sheva, 2005)  Benjamin Netanyahu, then serving as Israel’s Finance Minister, was in London to address a conference near Liverpool Station.  They warned the Israeli officials that explosions were about to happen.  Netanyahu remained in his room that morning.

London’s commuters weren’t as lucky.  About five minutes later, explosions started to rip through London Transport subway cars and busses.  At around 9 a.m., London Transport put out the word that there seemed to be a “power surge” problem.  The Gold Team of London’s Metropolitan police (the “Met”) shut down the mobile phone system for at least an hour in central London — which they initially denied.

At 9:47 a.m., an explosion ripped through a No. 30 bus in Tavistock Square, near the office of the British Medical Association and also the offices of various security operations.  Featuring a giant ad for a terror film, the bus seemed to be the only one that had strayed off of its normal route that day. The driver had just stuck his neck out to ask directions, when the back of the upper deck exploded.  Photographs of the bus show it with varying degrees of damage. (Antagonist, 2005)

Soon after the Bus No. 30 explosion, the public was notified about that as well as about explosions on subways over the past 50 minutes; the entire London Transport system would be shut down

There had been reports of explosions in three busses and at least six subway cars.  The subway explosions seemed to be on trains which could have started from King’s Cross station, although that would not be clear, given witness accounts, with some travelling in opposite directions or even on different subway lines.  In addition, the FBI’s Vincent Cannistraro would report the further discovery of two unexploded bombs as well as mechanical timing devices. (Muir et al, 2005)

At 11 a.m. there were reports about police marksmen having killed from 1-4 “suicide bombers” at Canary Wharf, a media center. (Shortnews, 2005)  The story made it to numerous international newspapers, including Toronto’s Globe & Mail. (Rook, 2005) The New Zealand Herald also reported that Canary Wharf workers were told to remain away from windows for six hours.  (N Z Herald, 2005)

By noon,

  • Ÿ  Police Commissioner Ian Blair noted that there had been “about six” explosions and  people were asked to stay out of London.
  • Ÿ  Also around noon, police inexplicably moved Lindsay’s parked car, with a valid parking ticket on it, from Luton’s commuter parking lot to a restricted parking lot at Leighton Buzzard.
  • Ÿ  And around that time, “Sid” Khan’s wife Hasina Patel called the police Missing Persons hotline to report her husband missing; she had lost the baby;
  • Ÿ  Some hours later, Hasib Hussain’s mother joined 115,000 frantic hotline callers to report Hasib missing.

Later that afternoon, the head of the security-related Visor Consultants, Peter Power, spoke on radio and TV.  Incredibly, his company had been commissioned to carry out an emergency preparedness operation for simultaneous bombings at 9 a.m. at the very stations that were affected by the blasts: Edgware, Aldgate and Piccadilly.  (Statisticians have noted that the probability of that being a coincidence are close to zero.)  Power, it turned out, had practice making this announcement.  He had been part of a mock exercise in April 2004 with the same bombing scenario of three subways and a bus that had been featured on a BBC Panorama program.  He had also taken part in joint US/UK London emergency preparedness operations as recently as two months before. (Chossudovsky, 8/8 2005) Power was a veteran of British intelligence until his founding of Visor Consultants in 1995.

Everyone “knew” it was Al Qaeda

By the end of the day, the government claimed that “Islamic extremists” were responsible for four explosions in London that morning. ” Prime Minister Tony Blair was “incensed” at the suggestion by the head of the Opposition that an independent investigation might be appropriate.  Since “everyone” knew that the Muslims had done it, it would be an insult to the security services, as well as a waste of time and money.  Besides, one month before, The Inquiries Act became law, giving the Prime Minister full control of all inquiries; a truly independent inquiry would not be possible.

The London explosions — which Scotland Yard claimed it had had no advance notice of — was claimed to have killed 52 commuters and injured 700 — 300 of them seriously.  The death toll from the bus was initially declared to be two but mysteriously increased to “13 or 14″; Ian Blair called it a complicated situation — without further elaboration.  It took several hours for some of the injured to receive help, a possible factor in the death toll that would be investigated at the 2010 Hallett Inquest.  The government had not only rejected any inquiry, they were also busy destroying evidence.  The bombed vehicles were immediately taken off and disposed of — apparently sent out of Britain to be sold as scrap — without any photographs or documentation of the damage.  There were no autopsies of the dead, and no records collected of the survivors’ injuries for forensic purposes.

The day after the explosions, Friday July 8th,  Scotland Yard sent off its voluminous “Operation Crevice” files on Omar Khyam and his group, which included information on Khan and Tanweer, to the RCMP in Canada for the Khawaja trial;  not long after that, police removed an electronic monitoring device from Khan’s car;   Hasib Hussain’s exam results arrived; he had scored high marks in four out of the five exams;

Ÿ  There was a big police operation in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Lindsay’s home:

Chief Superintendent Simon Chesterman, the most senior police officer in Bucks, arrived at his office at Aylesbury Police Station [on Friday, July 8th] to be confronted by Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism unit. Detectives believed that Lindsay, the Kings Cross bomber who killed 26 people, was, in fact, a fifth bomber, was still alive and posed an immediate threat to public safety. Officers had discovered the car of Germaine Lindsay, who lived in Northern Road, abandoned at Luton train station, where he travelled to London with three other bombers. What followed, said Chief Supt Chesterman, was the biggest police operation he had ever witnessed in 22 years on the force.” (Bucks Herald, 2005)

Christophe Chaboud, a French anti-terrorism expert called in to help with the investigation, quickly noted the expertise of the London bombs. He reported that the bombmaker was sophisticated and the explosives high-grade, and specifically not homemade.  That evaluation was shared by other explosives experts and confirmed with the identification of an unusual variant of the military plastic explosive C4 at all four bomb sites.  The remains of timing devices were also found at the subway blast sites, which meant that no one had to die in those explosions.

 Identifying the accused

On Monday, July 11th, 800 detectives gathered to watch 5,000 Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) tapes to see if they could spot something suspicious: people walking in with large bags and walking out — perhaps at another station — without them.  The exercise, which looked like mission impossible, was expected to take a couple of weeks. That night, however, they claimed they were lucky; they spotted four to five men of Asian descent — four with identical backpacks — (similar to those used by the British military) at Luton Station on their way to King’s Cross, which they took to be the origin point of the subway bombings.

Police claimed they had a “lucky break” with Hussain’s mother’s call, which put a name to one of the four men shown in the footage, (which they refused to show to the public.)  Police claimed that they then found the identity cards of three of the men, which they could connect to the various blasts: a Mohammad Sidique Khan at Edgware, a Shezad Tanweer at Aldgate, and Hasib Hussain, on the bus. Police claimed that all were “clean skins” or, unknown to the police. (Scotland Yard was embarrassed when Nicholas Sarkozy, then French Minister of the Interior, publicly reminded them that Khan and Tanweer had been known through their “Operation Crevice”.)  After the announcement, police noted that Khan’s body was not to be found at the Edgware Road site where he was supposed to have died.  (BBC, 7, 2005) Only his ID, which was subsequently found on the bus and, reportedly also at Aldgate. Tanweer’s ID, was not only found at Aldgate, but also on the bus, which exploded almost an hour after he was supposed to have died.  Police did not bother with ID cards of others also found at the sites.

The Piccadilly site’s “fourth bomber”

At first, the identity of the fourth bomber was a mystery.  One paper named Ejaz Fiaz as the fourth bomber, but noted that the name had not been confirmed.  Police claimed that the body of the fourth “suicide bomber” had been so “shredded” at the Piccadilly blast that his identity required DNA analysis. The DNA sample was reportedly taken from the parking stub from the car the police had towed on July 7th (J7 Profile: Lindsay)

The next morning, Wed., July 13th,  The Independent published a stunning article that challenged the previous day’s DNA claim. “The suicide plot hatched in Yorkshire” quoted Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch:

“The investigation is moving at great speed. “We are trying to establish the movements of the suspects in the run-up to last week’s attack and specifically to establish whether they all died in the explosions.” The article noted: “The four young British men, all thought to be of Pakistani origin, are believed to have blown themselves up with rucksack bombs” … [the body of the fourth bomber] “is thought to be among the remains in the wreckage on the Piccadilly line…” (Bennetto, Herbert, 2005) (emphasis added)

On July 12th, police did not appear to have a body to do DNA testing on!  People were wondering why it was taking British police so long to identify the London bombing victims.  While the 190 victims of the Madrid bombings had been identified within 24 hours, it would take almost another week, until July 19th, for police to identify the 52 victims of the London bombings.  Was it because British police could not find bodies they were looking for?

On Tuesday, July 12th, Lindsay’s wife Samantha Lewthwaite had called police to report her husband Germaine (“Jamal”) missing.  Police searched their home immediately. The next day, on July 14th, police announced that they had Lindsay’s ID and he was the fourth bomber. Lewthwaite was incredulous and refused to believe the accusation without DNA proof.  The police identification was stunning because they had been claiming that all of the suspects looked Pakistani; there was no way anyone could mistake the big, black Lindsay for an Asian. What had police been looking at?

After Lindsay’s identification was “confirmed”, police provided Lewthwaite with “protection,” presumably monitoring those who tried to contact her.  They also arrested Naveed Fiaz, Ejaz’s brother.  He was held for one week before being released with no charges.

The Fallout from “Homegrown suicide bombers”

The British public was incensed at the news that British-born citizens could have turned on them; one Muslim man was kicked to death soon after that announcement.  The public abuse of Pakistani- British was so ugly that within two months, two thirds of them considered leaving the UK.

Tony Blair, on the other hand, was riding high. The headlines up to July 7th described the political “humiliation” Blair faced from his “anti-terror” (and anti-civil-liberties) legislation.  Civil libertarians had been amassing a public war chest of one million pounds Sterling to fight his new legislation. Suddenly, he found the vast majority of the public behind him.  Buoyed by the polls, he made vicious comments about Islam and described further legislation he would like: criminalizing speech describing why those under occupation might want to kill themselves; criminalizing the word “martyr”; criminalizing “extremism” — which seemed to mean only “anti-Israeli”. “The game has changed,” Blair declared, and he started to produce legislation that would jettison Britain’s obligations under international humanitarian law.

Identifications of the accused “confirmed”

The fast identification of the accused seemed to be confirmed by the police identification of two cars connected to the accused, one in Luton car park reportedly with “home made” explosives in the trunk, the other parked in Leighton Buzzard.  Police had also raided what they claimed was the “bomb factory” — a bathtub filled with what they also claimed was “explosives” in an apartment in Alexandra Grove, Leeds.  While Police Commissioner Ian Blair quickly backed off the identification of the explosives that police claimed they had found in the Luton car and Leeds’ bathtub, the story of the London bombs nevertheless changed to “homemade” — bombs which would have left a TATP residue. Despite the fact that TATP residue was not identified, the previous identification of C4 was buried.

The Alexandra Grove apartment with the “bomb factory” bathtub was found to belong to Magdy al-Nashar, an Egyptian who had just received his PhD in biochemistry from Leeds University and was on the list of Leeds’ faculty. He had been forced to leave Britain because of a visa problem the previous month, but was trying to return to resume his job. His apartment had been vacant for about a month.  Banner headlines throughout the media claimed that al-Nashar would demonstrate the al Quada link. It fizzled when he was immediately exonerated, and his name was forgotten. While the fingerprints of the accused were identified at their friend al-Nashar’s apartment, they were not found on any containers of chemicals or “explosives.” (Investigating the terror, 2012)

Police came out with further confirmation of the identity of the accused; they claimed that they had both CCTV footage as well as eyewitness confirmation that the accused caught either the 7:40 a.m. or 7:48 a.m. Luton commuter trains to King’s Cross on the morning of July 7th.  People wondered why police refused to show any footage that showed any of the men in London that day. The reason became apparent when commuters claimed that those trains had not been running on schedule (if at all) that morning!  If the men had expected to catch those particular trains, they could not have made it onto the exploding subway cars.  The police refusal to show their footage publicly was becoming increasingly clear: they couldn’t have been looking at CCTV footage! And their earlier claim that the CCTV footage only showed suspicious Asians was confirmation of that fact.

Hasib Hussain and the No. 30 bus

Witnesses claimed that the bus explosion seemed to come from under a seat, possibly from a backpack lying on the ground.  The coroner examining the bodies from the No. 30 bus noted that two bodies were particularly badly damaged; either one of them might have been responsible for bringing a bomb.  People remarked that a terrorist trying to inflict maximum damage would have chosen to bomb the front bottom of a bus, not the rear top; this placement did not made sense. When Hasib Hussain was named as the bus bomber, witnesses came forward with descriptions: Hussain was either clean shaven or had stubble; he had a huge bag or a small bag; he was wearing a dark suit or a flashy top; he was either fidgeting with his bag or something exploded when he sat down.  It became clear that the most publicized witness, a Richard Jones, could not have seen Hussain on the bus.

The bus should have had four CCTV cameras operating; police claimed that they had no footage from any of them, so there was no proof that Hussain had been on the bus and there was no indication of what had caused the explosion.

Because the bus explosion came about 50 minutes after the subway explosions, Hussain became separated from Khan, Tanweer and Lindsay.  According to phone records, Hussain tried repeatedly to call the three of them around 9 a.m. — after the explosions –  without success, with the phone system shut down.  He clearly assumed they were all alive and wondered what was going on.  Hussain’s actions between 9 a.m. and the No. 30 explosion at 10:47 a.m. should have been picked up by dozens if not hundreds of CCTV cameras.  Although many witnesses claim they saw Hussain at 9 a.m., the July 7th pictures of Hussain appear to have all been  “photo-shopped”– digitally created or altered.  No  one knows what actually happened to Hussain.  (Kollerstrom, pp. 57, 64)

Hasib Hussain’s family and friends found the accusation against him unbelievable; his family insists that he will be shown to be innocent when further information comes out.

 The events of July 21st

On Thursday, July 21st, two weeks after the London bombings, Police Commissioner Ian Blair met with Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss an urgent matter of business. A situation needed to be dealt with.  Police had to be sure that their officers would be fully protected legally from killing what might be described as “suspected suicide bombers.” Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigators, mandated by law to investigate police killings — had to be blocked from the scene of such a killing.  The meeting went smoothly.

At around noon that day, four North African immigrants tried to blow up three London subways and a bus.  These bombs were laughable duds; they made a popping sound like champagne being opened then started oozing like wet bread dough. They had been made with chapati flour.  The men scattered when they realized that the bombs didn’t work.  One donned a burqa and fled to Birmingham. But on that day, all of the CCTVs were working and produced 18,000 hours of footage.  All of the men were quickly picked up with the exception of Hussein Osman, who reached Italy.

Although the official police story was that they had no foreknowledge about the attempted bombings, The Mirror’s July 22, 2005 edition showed detailed foreknowledge demonstrated by the British government.  Nafeez Ahmed quotes the article,

“Despite the government’s official insistence that it had no prior knowledge of the attacks of 21 July 2005, anonymous British security sources revealed that Scotland Yard had obtained precise advanced warning of replica bomb attacks on the Tube network that would almost certainly be executed on Thursday of that week. . . Indeed, only two hours before the terrorist strikes, Home Secretary Charles Clarke ‘warned senior cabinet colleagues the capital could face another terror onslaught’ in a confidential briefing. … Most surprisingly, the Home Secretary had specifically ‘hinted at fears there could be copycat attacks in the wake of the July 7 atrocities’…. Indeed, police were racing on the morning of the 21 to locate at least one of the bomber suspects, several hours before the detonations … .’ At 9:29 a.m. an armed unit raced to Farrington station as they closed in on the suspected bomber — but narrowly missed him.’

The incident indicates the extent of the detail apparently available to the police.  How did they know that a suspect would pass through Farrington?  If they had information of such precision, did it extend to other elements of the plot?’”  (Ahmed, pp. 103,104)

The grooming of the would-be “copycat” bombers

Before Hussein Osman was extradited from Italy, he gave interviews which provided some insights into the operation.  He claimed that he, along with four others were fed for “some weeks”– a steady diet of graphic films that portrayed mutilated Iraqi victims of American and British military actions.  The men were instructed not to tell anyone about these mysterious films, which reportedly came from the banned al Mouhajiroun, a group that many believe was linked to British intelligence.  By July 21, four of the men were prepared to act in unison to protest the atrocities that the US and UK were committing in Iraq. Although Osman claimed that he only intended to scare people and not cause actual damage, at least some of the men did expect to die: Ramzi Mohammed wrote a suicide note to his girlfriend and the mother of his children.

A report by Italian judges authorising Osman’s extradition to Britain confirmed that the devices, ” which were created with flour, hair lotion, nails, nuts and bolts, and attached to a primitive device with a battery and unidentified powder which could be used as a detonator when attached manually to electrical wires –  contained no chemical explosive material.” This description missed a key ingredient: hydrogen peroxide.

The explosive link between the London bombings and the “copycat”

The most interesting part of this story is the recipe for the dud bombs: the only time such a recipe had ever been seen before was the “explosive” found in the Luton car and Leeds’ bathtub.  This recipe turned out to a unique use of hydrogen peroxide that explosives experts had never seen before. The discovery that the unique explosive connected to both the July 7th and the July 21st operations was known only to “government scientists” (Casciani,2007) indicates the role of the British government in both operations, and contradicts the British government’s claim that laymen concocted this recipe.

The other significant part of the “copycat bombings” was the police cover story of Hussein Osman’s gym bag that he left behind.  According to police, they didn’t get to examine Osman’s gym bag until 4 a.m. the next day, at which time they found a gym membership card belonging to Osman’s friend Abdi Omar.  According to some sources, there was no such card in his bag. Also, the two men were members of the same gym club and would not have needed to share cards.  In any case, police claimed that Abdi Omar lived at 21 Scotia Road, and they wanted to stake out his apartment in order to question him about Hussein Osman.

The July 22 stakeout at 21 Scotia Road “for Abdi Omar”

By 6 a.m. the morning of Friday, July 22, several of Britain’s most elite intelligence units were operating around 21 Scotia Road. A surveillance unit had a video feed to the Metropolitan Police’s Gold Team unit with Designated Service Officer (DSO) Cressida Dick in charge.  While they were supposedly on the lookout for the North African man, Dick activated the tracking units — one on foot, the other by car — when a man described as a “Northern European” white male exited the building around 9:30 am.  The targeted man, who would later be identified as a freelance Brazilian electrician, Jean Charles de Menezes, strolled to a nearby bus stop and took a bus to a subway station.  The subway station was closed “for security reasons”, so he called his uncle to tell him he would be delayed, then retraced his steps to get back on the next bus to reach the next subway.  By the time he reached the Stockwell subway station, it had taken him about half an hour.

He might have noticed a police car parked in front of the station; a marksman was awaiting his arrival.  Suspecting nothing, he picked up a free newspaper, showed his identifying “Oyster” subway card at the ticket office and strolled to the subway platform.  The subway car seemed to be parked there, so he made a quick call on his mobile before taking his seat in the car and settling in with his newspaper.  The subway driver had arrived at 10 a.m. to find the light red, so he wasn’t moving.  The light remained red until the 10:06 killing.

 The killing of Jean Charles de Menezes

There were about 17 other passengers in the subway car.  One witness, Anna Dunwoodie, noticed a jumpy, frightened-looking man sitting near her.  When what looked like a bunch of rowdies approached their car, he jumped up and pointed de Menezes out to them. Without a word, they surrounded de Menezes, who looked up at them calmly questioningly.  He was suddenly pinned down and the shots started.  The “rowdies” pumped eleven dumdum bullets into de Menezes, with at least five hitting his head. According to an eye witness who had to insist that her testimony be included in the IPCC report, the shots came at about three-second intervals and lasted for 30 seconds.

The other passengers ran for their lives. One of the police killers chased the terrified subway driver into the tunnel, where he ran across live subway wires and the paths of oncoming trains to escape the “terrorists”.

Pathologist Dr. Kenneth Shorrock was called to look at de Menezes’ body when it was still on the train floor.  He claimed that the police officers at the scene — including the senior investigation officer — lied to him about the circumstances of de Menezes’ death (Morgan, Davis, 2008) claiming that de Menezes had been running away from them.  When he looked at the contents of Jean Charles’ pockets, only his passport and loose change remained; police had taken De Menezes’ cell phone.

There was a sign at the scene of the murder which read: ‘Directed by Detective Superintendent Wolfenden not to allow access to the IPCC, authority of commissioner and prime minister.” (Percival, 11/2008).  Chief Inspector Stephen Costello claimed that the Prime Minister was consulted over a decision to bar to IPCC from entering Stockwell subway station after the shooting and issued a directive. In fact, the police not only banned the IPCC from the site of the execution, but they also refused to turn over their internal documents, as required by law. (Mitchell, 2007)

The police killers, meanwhile, headed for a lawyer’s office to come up with a story that would protect them all.  They had been assured before the operation that whatever happened they would be protected legally. Their story — repeated subsequently under oath by all of them — was that they had called out that they were “police” to de Menezes but that he then reacted in a threatening way which led them to make the decision to kill him. That they had been fitted out with the banned dum dum bullets, used for lethal encounters, was overlooked.

Abdi Omar, the supposed target of the stakeout at 21 Scotia Road, had been out of the UK on business for the past week.  A swat team knew where his wife and children were, however, and paid them a visit later that day, putting the mother-in-law in hospital with a heart attack.  Omar returned some days later and asked police if they wanted to speak with him; they didn’t.

Police realized at some point that they had a problem: Abdi Omar had only been wanted for questioning and had not been a suicide bombing suspect.  For their legal protection — their “get out of jail free card” –  they had to have been chasing Hussein Osman, who had made it to Italy. Luckily, their last names both started with “O”.  There was disappointingly little notice taken when police changed the name of their supposed target from “Omar ” to “Osman”.

The evening of the killing, a retired Scotland Yard officer on BBC News challenged the government’s claim that the killing had been done by a Scotland Yard officer and there would be no investigation.  Impossible, he said; if the killing had been done by a Yard officer, there would automatically be an investigation. Evidence began to indicate that at least two elite British intelligence units had been involved in the murder, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) which specializes in surveillance and “false flag operations” and the newly-formed police marksmen’s unit, C019 (or referred to as S019), trained by the elite SAS. The weapons pictured on the agents as well as the manner of the killing pointed to British special forces carrying out the de Menezes’ execution.  (Norton-Taylor, 8/2005)

When people heard about the public police killing of a suspected terrorist, they assumed that the victim had to be black and Muslim. A self-proclaimed eyewitness quickly came forward to say that the targeted man was wearing a “puffy jacket with wires hanging out” and had been chased by police into the Stockwell Subway station, a chase that sounded no more than a few minutes.  Police claimed that the CCTV cameras were not operating. Unfortunately for them, this time they were.

There was shock as the news dribbled out that the victim had been a young white man who had been followed by elite units for half an hour, allegedly mistaking him for a North African.  Police tried to smear him: he was an illegal; he looked suspicious. One after another, they turned out to be lies.  A whistleblower released a photo of the dead De Menezes; he had been wearing a light denim jacket — not any “puffy jacket” with wires.  She was quickly fired and harassed. The CCTVs showed him strolling leisurely into the subway; it had been the police leaping over barriers, not de Menezes.  The police version was that an interminable number of miscommunications had occurred leading to the deadly mistake. If one believed that the Gold Team had been as incompetent as they claimed, the person in charge would have faced a career disaster.  Instead, Cressida Dick was promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police; her associate was also rewarded with a promotion. No one was to be held accountable in any way for Jean Charles’ murder.

Slowly, over a period of years, the police lies were exposed despite their refusal to give their information to the IPCC.  The truth came out as easily as the pulling of police teeth, painfully with small parts of the story being extracted with the various official inquiries. The most dramatic would be the 2008 inquest into Jean Charles de Menezes’ death, the first time witnesses would be heard.

Meanwhile, what had happened to the bodies of the accused?

By August, people started to ask questions about what had happened to the bodies of the accused.  None of the families had been allowed to identify them; they had not even been given the bodies for burial.  Khan’s family, suspicious, asked for an independent autopsy to be performed; it was not done.  On August 24th, when the corpses would have been over six weeks old, The Guardian reported that the Metropolitan police claimed that they were holding the bodies of the accused  to reassemble their body parts to analyse their positions on the bombs’ detonations.  It would not be until the 2010 Hallett inquest that the shocking details would come out.

Of the accused, only Tanweer and Hussain had family burials.  In both cases, the burials were accompanied by security personnel.

  • Ÿ  At the end of October 2005, Tanweer’s body was taken to Pakistan for interment in a family grave; security personnel accompanied the body to Pakistan and guarded the site for days after the interment.  The family never saw the remains.
  • Ÿ  Six police oversaw the funeral of Hasib Hussain, “ensuring the service remained private.”

The Khan Tape (Sept. 1, 2005)

British newspapers had been slowly coming out with stories that questioned whether the accused men thought they were going to die.  All of the men had round-trip tickets and they had paid for their cars to be parked for the day.  There were no suicide notes and their families all expected them home. And then there was the question of motive: there was none. The men were known to be secular and even apolitical. Khan and Tanweer were both known to be particularly patriotic; all were peace-loving.

Khan’s wife Hasina Patel said she had never heard “Sid” criticize the actions of the British government or its role in world events. In excerpts from an interview with Sky news, Patel said  “… I kept thinking that something was wrong, I don’t know, that maybe it was a set up, … I didn’t even have any inkling towards his views even going in that direction  … I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams, never.”  (Sky, 2007)

On September 1st a short video surfaced showing Khan dressed up in red Palestinian-like scarf used as a head bandana.  A crude, hand-woven rug was in the background and he was stabbing the air with a pen, complaining about British crimes towards Muslims.  There was no mention of any action that would be taken. The tape, which included an edited-in clip of Al Qaeda’s al Zwahiri, was not shown in its entirety.

It was obvious that at least in some sections, Khan’s words did not match his lip movements.  His friends noticed that judging by Khan’s appearance, the tape had to have been made in  2004, the year Khan and Tanweer were taped by police.  They also claimed that the tape didn’t sound like Khan and was a fraud.

 The government responses

The government claimed that the four accused had worked alone, with Khan as the “ringleader”, and that the tape showed that Khan’s motive was to martyr himself for Islam. They also claimed that a tape of Tanweer existed.  Their claims that the accused worked alone begged the question of who released the tape of Khan, how they knew of Tanweer’s tape and who controlled it.

The following May, two government reports confirmed their official version of the July 7th bombings and recommend a higher security budget.

The Tanweer tape (July 6, 2006)

On July 5, 2006, a U.S. broadcaster with a reputation for security links claimed that a tape of Shezad Tanweer was expected to be shown the next day on Al Jazeera.

On July 6, 2006, the eve of the anniversary of the London bombings, al Jazeera showed part of a video of Tanweer. The shots, also taken in 2004, are strikingly similar to the one released the previous year of “Sid” Khan; Tanweer is wearing the identical Palestinian-like red scarf around his head, with the identical background rug and making the same strange stabbing movements with a pen.  The video includes edited-in clips of the al Qaeda leader al Zwahiri as well as a self-proclaimed American member of al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn. (While Gadahn is also known to the FBI as “Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki, Abu Suhayb, Yihya Majadin Adams and Yayah”, he was born Adam Pearlman.) There were also silly shots meant to appear ominous such as a disembodied hand on maps, etc.   Again, words do not match the lip movements.  Shezad Tanweer’s family has not publicly commented on it.

Both the Khan and Tanweer tapes were released at politically opportune times for the British government. So while the tapes supposedly show Khan and Tanweer’s support for Al Qaeda, and perhaps Palestinians, the tapes’ origins and releases both implicate British security services.

 The 2008 De Menezes’ inquest

The De Menezes’ family had kept up their pressure on the government for an inquest into their son’s murder; finally, in September, 2008, the inquest opened.  The purpose of this inquest, presided over by Coroner Sir Michael Wright, was to allow jurors to decide whether or not the police had killed Jean Charles de Menezes lawfully. Previous inquests had established that no one, including DSO Cressida Dick, would be held personally responsible for Jean Charles’ death.

Sir Ian Blair, who had been hanging onto his job as Police Commissioner, toughing out troubling challenges to his integrity on this issue, finally quit at the start of that inquiry. He must have figured that the jig would be up when certain information came out — information that included his meeting with Tony Blair to give police legal protection for a killing, police perjury, police manipulation of events around the death and tampering with police records. It would be the first time that eye witnesses to this event were allowed to testify.  Over fifty agents were given identity protection for testifying and the identity-protected killers were not allowed to be either seen or photographed at the site.

Despite the profoundly shocking information that came out at this inquest, Sir Michael Wright did his best to ensure jurors gave the police a favorable ruling. His actions included:

Ÿ  informing jurors that they would only be allowed to return a verdict either of lawful killing or an “open” verdict: they were not permitted to rule against the police;

Ÿ  warning jurors that they were not to attach criminal or civil fault to responsible individuals such as DSO Cressida Dick;

Ÿ  giving the jury secret advice and suggesting that police perjury might have been committed for selfless motives.

The De Menezes’ inquest results

The jury returned an “open” verdict, much to the relief of the police.  Given the evidence, they had been prepared for an “unlawful” verdict, despite the Coroner’s charge to the jury.  Despite the agents’ perjury and admitted destruction of evidence, they will not face charges.

The De Menezes’ family finally gave up their fight for justice on November 23, 2009 with a settlement with the Metropolitan police for one hundred thousand pounds plus legal expenses.

The Jean Charles de Menezes inquiry exposed the government betrayal of the public through manipulation of the police, of the justice system and the media:

The media obediently played along as the facts came out.  While they did report the stories that showed that de Menezes had been the real target, that police perjured themselves, and that Tony Blair had apparently played a role, each article ended with the mantra that De Menezes’ killing had merely been the result of unfortunate mistakes.  The story that the most elite security teams in Britain claimed that they thought a “North European” white male was a North African after a half hour surveillance was not challenged.

The papers never asked why Jean Charles had been targeted. Could a recent job have related to the July 7th “power surges”? No one knew where he had been working.  The Guardian approached that subject obliquely in December, 2008, noting that de Menezes’ friends were “terrified”; they understood that the public killing of their friend was a warning not to talk.

 The 2010 Hallett Inquest into the security services

In May 2010, Lady Justice Hallett called for an inquest into the activities of the British security services the year prior to the July 7th bombings. The inquest, which the security services warned would “encourage terrorists,” was held in the fall of 2010; the hearings were public but there was no jury.  The families of 52 of the victims were allowed to take part; the families of the accused were barred from participating, and so unable to challenge any witnesses.  Lady Hallett said she might consider a future inquest to include them. Lady Justice Hallett and QC Hugo Keith controlled the proceedings.

The inquest was expected to answer questions on the timing, the location and the makeup of the bombs; instead, it raised even more questions:

Ÿ  Since the discovery of the “homemade explosive”, the government had claimed that the London bombs had been homemade; in fact, the traces of TATP that should have been found if they had been homemade were not identified at the blast sites;

Ÿ  While the government produced some new CCTV evidence, investigators noticed suspicious cuts at key parts of much of it, especially when the accused were meeting other people;

Ÿ  The scope of the missing CCTV evidence was staggering, with none of dozens (if not hundreds!) of CCTV cameras allegedly functioning at any of the affected subway stations until after the bombings were over;

Ÿ  The government’s destruction of evidence and lack of documentation made it impossible to resolve discrepancies between the government’s claims of damage and witnesses’ accounts.

Ÿ  The absence of autopsies and documentation of injury made it difficult to confirm eyewitness accounts that the train explosions originated under the floors.

Ÿ  One investigator noticed that the Metropolitan Police diagrams reconstructing the subway explosions did not match the official Home Office description of those killed and injured. Taking the Liverpool/ Aldgate explosion as an example, he noted that the Met diagram only showed a total of 43 people in the carriage while the Home Office narrative claimed that “the blast killed 8 people, including Tanweer, with 171 injured.” According to the police diagram, the two standing on either side of Tanweer survived, one with only minor injuries. The investigator noted that if the blast killed 8 of the 43, that left only 35 potentially- injured in that carriage.  The implication is that the other 136 injured at that site must have been occupants of another three cars in that train with a similar occupancy. “  (Investigating the terror, 2012)

Ÿ Evidence pointed to more than three damaged subway cars; Did the government reduce the number of events to correspond to the number of Muslims that volunteered for this event?

While this inquest did produce stunning information about the death counts and the state of the corpses of some accused, it specifically excluded how police came to identify the accused.

 On Hasib Hussain and the No. 30 bus

Ÿ  The inquest was shown photos which were claimed to be of Hussain’s body separated from other bodies and under a blue blanket. No one knew who had identified him, who placed him there, or who put the special blanket on him. Or if his body was, in fact, under it.

Ÿ  Lisa French, a witness seated no further than five seats in front of the explosion, testified that when she was getting off the bus, police discouraged her from helping a “pile” of people, indicating that they were already dead. (Addley, 2011)  Could these have been the extra bodies?

Ÿ  At the 2010 inquest, it was discovered that another Asian youth had been sitting at the back of the top deck at the time of the explosion.

 On Khan and Tanweer

Witnesses testified that the initial death counts at the Edgware and Aldgate sites included only commuters, not the bodies of “suicide bombers”. Police added one to each of these tallies later that day so that the accused would be included in the count.  A day or two after the bombings, body parts of the accused would be located at the private, off-limit subway sites.

 Ÿ  “Sid” Khan’s remains at Edgware:

Ÿ  A large part of Khan’s corpse –without hands, head, or even teeth– was found on 6 am July 8th; police turned over the remains at an unspecified date, identifying it when presented to the Home Office Forensic Science Service as belonging to Mohammed Sidique Khan, with a request to confirm the identification through DNA links his parents. (Police apparently were not aware that Khan’s father had married a woman with the same name as Khan’s biological mother.)  The identification was not done using DNA known to be Khan’s.  (J7 blogspot: Khan)

Ÿ  The Edgware death count confirms what had been published.  Police had identified Khan as a “suicide bomber” on Tuesday, July 12 even though police then acknowledged that Khan’s body was missing from the Edgware site. (BBC, 7,2005)

Ÿ  Khan’s intact ID papers were apparently planted at Edgware, Aldgate and on the bus.

 Shazad Tanweer’s remains at Aldgate:

Ÿ  On Saturday, July 9th, only a 1.8 Kg spinal fragment allegedly belonging to Tanweer was found on the train; the DNA lab work, dated July 13 to 28th, included no indication of how police had already identified the remains as belonging to Tanweer; (J7 blogspot: Tanweer)

Ÿ  Note that Tanweer’s identification cards – found at both Aldgate and the No. 30 bus — survived the virtually total disintegration of his body.

The damage to Khan’s and Tanweer’s bodies was not consistent with the state of the other corpses.  Despite the fact that others – the dead as well as survivors — had been close to the sources of the explosions, the bodies of all other victims had remained basically intact and easily identifiable.  It was ironic that the police had initially implied that the bodies of Khan and Tanweer were easy to identify and did not require the assistance of DNA analysis.  Could the state of their corpses be explained as efforts to hide bullet wounds the men might have sustained at Canary Wharf?

On Germaine/”Jamal” Lindsay

Interestingly, there was reportedly no “life extinct” count at Piccadilly taken on July 7th as there had been at the other sites; there had to have been a count of the dead at some point, why did it not made it to this inquest?

According to the original police story, the identification of Lindsay required DNA analysis. Although his wife understood that this analysis had confirmed Lindsay’s participation in the events of July 7th, a BBC article on July 14th, 2005, “Fourth bomber’s name disclosed” implied that police might not have had the DNA results that Samantha Lewthwaite thought they did.

The absence of similar DNA information that was provided for Khan and Tanweer appears to be significant, particularly because police admitted that they did not possess Lindsay’s body on July 12th (Bennetto, Herbert, 2005); and that police believed that Lindsay survived July 7th (Jones, 2005) and (Bucks Herald, 2005).  Were police marksmen at Canary Wharf looking only for Pakistanis?

 The Hallett verdict and outcomes

In May 2011 the Hallett Inquest determined that 52 of the 56 London deaths had been “unlawful”, the fault only of the “bombers” rather than of the hours-long medical response time or a lack of diligence of the security services. Hallett refused to hold any investigation for the families of the accused.

The Hallett Inquiry ultimately demonstrated pervasive government manipulation and/or mistreatment of the evidence.  On August 2, 2011 a legal challenge by victims’ families to force the British government to hold a public inquiry into the July 7 attacks was abandoned “acknowledging that the proceedings would likely be unsuccessful.”

In 2012-2013, Jamal Lindsay’s wife Samantha Lewthwaite, now remarried and the mother of three (the father of her third child, born in 2009, was not identified), is described in the media as a major terrorist living in East Africa and is reportedly hunted –  to be killed on sight — by dozens of MI5 and MI6, the CIA, police from Kenya and detectives from South Africa! This hunt appears to relate to the 7/7 bombings: police claim they found “key chemicals” [sic] related to the London bombings such as “acetone and hydrogen peroxide” at a raid on her home.  Does she possess information that makes such a hunt worth the  cost?

The evidence of responsibility points to the British government

There was a history of government-run terror exercises in London, including ones that closely mirrored the London bombings’ scenario;

Ÿ There was extensive evidence of police foreknowledge, including Scotland Yard’s warning to the Israeli embassy before the blasts; the police allowed the London bombings to happen;

It was only “government scientists” that knew the recipe of the “unique” hydrogen-peroxide based “explosives” that were in the Luton car, the Leeds bathtub and the “copycat” “bombs;”

Ÿ  The government removed, destroyed and neglected to keep important evidence; evidence shown to the public has been shown to be falsified or tampered with;

Ÿ  The government has refused to hold any independent, public investigation into the bombings;

Ÿ  The government labelling of the London bombings as “suicide bombings” (and the accused, “homegrown suicide bombers”) with no evidence that there had been suicide bombs demonstrated the agenda that allowed Tony Blair to then follow through with his “anti-terror” legislation:

As a result of the July 7th London bombings, the British government eliminated traditional civil liberties and expanded its security services.

In 2007, the July 7th Truth Campaign described the post-7/7 state of British freedoms in “Capitalising on Terror”:  In less than two years the UK has descended into a police state. Taking photographs of landmarks is now classified as ‘terrorist reconnaisance’, being caught in possession of a map has been prosecuted as ‘having information likely to be useful to a terrorist’. Protesting outside the people’s Parliament is now a crime unless the state has first granted permission and you can be arrested for wearing a t-shirt a policeman doesn’t like. Your DNA and fingerprints will be taken and stored indefinitely. Everyone from young children to old age pensioners are actively being targeted under anti-terrorist legislation and this legislation is being used to suppress dissent and opposition to the government, its policies and the way it enforces them. Blair has talked of implementing private police forces and police powers have been given to thousands of non-police entities including amongst others traffic wardens, landlords and council officials. …

Recently the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, suggested that modern day Britain is comparable to Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda. Around the same time the leader of Birmingham Central Mosque, Dr Mohammed Naseem, compared life for Muslims in the UK to that of the life of Jews in Nazi Germany. In among the furore that ensued among the liberal intelligentsia, the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, gently reminded everyone that the laws don’t just apply to Muslims, or terrorists, the laws apply to everyone. If you are reading this in Britain, that means you. (J7,2007)

Notes:

Addley, Esther.  2011. “7/7 bus bomber jostled passengers with deadly backpack, inquest told” The Guardian. January 12. Retrieved August 25, 2012 at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jan/12/77-july-7-bomber-inquest?INTCMP=SRCH

Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq. 2006. The London Bombings, London: Duckworth p103/104/274

BBC, 7/2005. Police release bus bomber images. 14 July, 2005. BBC News. retrieved July 6, 2008 at:

Http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4683555.stm

Antagonist. 2005.  London 7/7: Number 30 Bus Explosion – Photos & Questions.  1 September 2005. Anything that defies my sense of reason. , retrieved July 5, 2008 at:

Http://antagonise.blogspot.com/2005/09/london-77-number-30-bus-explosion.html

Bennetto, J, Herbert, I, 2005. The suicide bomb plot hatched in Yorkshire. 13 July. The Independent. Retrieved July 9, 2008 at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/the-suicide-bomb-plot-hatched-in-yorkshire-498616.html

Bucks Herald, The. 2005. Aylesbury was ’30 minutes from evacuation’.  Tuesday, 25 October. The Bucks Herald. Retrieved July 28, 2011 at:

http://www.bucksherald.co.uk/news/aylesbury_was_30_minutes_from_evacuation_1_600516

Casbolt, J. A Message of Love to my Asian Brothers and Sisters: The true inside facts about the 7/7 London bombings,  February 18, 2007. Jamescasbolt.  retrieved June 26, 2008 at: Http://www.jamescasbolt.com/bombings.htm

Casciani, Dominic, 2007. Was it linked to 7/7?  Wednesday, 11 July 2007. Retrieved at:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6249118.stm 21/7

Chossudovsky, Michel. 8/8 2005.  7/7 Mock Terror Drill: What Relationship to the Real Time Terror Attacks? 8 Aug.  Centre for Research on Globalisation. Retrieved June 26, 2008 at:

Http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20050808&articleId=821

Televised interview “Peter Power 7/7 Terror Rehearsal” at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKvkhe3rqtc

Chossudovsky, 8/1 2005. Chossudovsky, M, London 7/7 Terror Suspect Linked to British Intelligence? August 1, Centre for Research on Globalisation. retrieved July 7, 2008 at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CHO20050801&articleId=782

J7 blogspot Khan. The identification of Mohammed Sidique Khan.:J7: The July 7th Truth Campaign.  Tuesday, November 30, 2010.  retrieved on July 4, 2013 at:

http://77inquests.blogspot.com/2010/11/identification-of-mohammed-sidique-khan.html

J7 blogspot Tanweer. 7/7 Inquests: The Disintegration of Shezad Tanweer. J7: The 7/7 Inquests Blog.  Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. Accessed July 28, 2011 at:  Http://77inquests.blogspot.com/2010/11/77-inquests-disintegration-of-shehzad.html

July 7th Truth Campaign. Capitalising on Terror: Who is Really Destroying our freedoms?  Feb. 25, 2007. Retrieved on July 3, 2012 at: http://julyseventh.co.uk/july-7-article-capitalising-on-terror.html

J7 Profile: Jamal/Germaine Lindsay. J7: The July 7th Truth Campaign, 2006 retrieved July 6, 2008 at:    Http://julyseventh.co.uk/7-7-profile-germaine-lindsay.html

Jones, Sam 2005. Aylesbury house is searched in effort to find associates. Thursday, July 14. The Guardian. Retreived on July 28, 2011 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/14/july7.uksecurity11

Kollerstrom, Nick. 2012. Terror on the Tube. Palm Desert, California. Progressive.

McGrory, D., and Evans, M. 2005. Hunt for the master of explosives. 13 July. The Times. retrieved June 26, 2008  at:  http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22989-1692033,00.html

Mitchell, P. Police Chief “Cleared” of De Menezes Killing. February 26th, 2007. Ukwatch. retrieved June 26, 2008 at: http://www.ukwatch.net/article/police_chief_%2526quot%3Bcleared%2526quot%3B_of_de_menezes_killing

Morgan, Tom and Davis, Margaret, 2008. Pathologist given false details over Menezes death, inquest told. November 5. The Independent retrieved Nov. 6, 2008 at: Http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/pathologist-given-false-details-over-menezes-death-inquest-told-993987.html

Norton-Taylor, R. 2005. New special forces unit tailed Brazilian. August 4. The Guardian retrieved June 26, 2008 at: Http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/aug/04/july7.menezes

N Z Herald, 2005.  ‘Police shot bombers’ reports New Zealander. July 9, 2005. New Zealand Herald. retrieved on July 7, 2008 at  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10334992

Pallister, David 2005. UK-based dissident denies link to website that carried al-Qaida claim. The Guardian. Saturday July 9. Retrieved at July 28 at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/09/july7.uksecurity11

Percival, Jenny and agencies, 11/2008. Orders given to police who shot Jean Charles de Menezes were ‘ambiguous’ November 5. The Guardian retrieved Nov. 7, 2008 at:  Http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/nov/05/de-menezes-pathologist-inquest

Rook, Katie, 2005. A massive rush of policemen. July 7. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved on July 7, 2008 at: Http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050707.wcanar0707/PPVStory?URL_Article_ID=RTGAM.20050707.wcanar0707&DENIED=1

Sheva, Arutz. 2005. Report: Israel Was Warned Ahead of First Blast.  7 July 2005. Propaganda Matrix.  retrieved July 2, 2013: Http://www.propagandamatrix.com/articles/july2005/070705israelwarned.htm

Investigating the terror, 2012. ” 7/7: Seven Documents that Prove that the Official Story Cannot be True”. www.investigatingtheterror.com. June 30 . Retrieved July 4, 2013 at: www.investigatingtheterror.com/articles/7_7__seven__documents_that_prove_the_official_story_cannot_be_true.htm

Shortnews, 2005.  ’Suicide Bomber Neutralized’ in Canary Wharf, London. July 10, 2005. Shortnews. retrieved June 25, 2008 at: http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=49029

Sky, 2007. Full Text Of July 7 Widow’s Interview With Sky: Here is the full transcript of Hasina Patel’s interview with Julie Etchingham.  Friday July 27. Sky News.  retrieved April 14, 2009 at http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Full-Text-Of-July-7-Widows-Interview-With-Sky/Article/20070741277315

Sparrow, Andrew. 2005.  “New law to stop flow of volunteers to terror camps.” Sunday July 16, Daily Telegraph. Retrieved Sept. 10, 2012 at:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1494129/New-law-to-stop-flow-of-volunteers-to-terror-camps.html

Woods, R, Leppard, D., Smith, M. 2005. Tangled web that still leaves worrying loose ends: The arrest of Haroon Rashid Aswat sets numerous questions.  July 31. The Sunday Times. retrieved June 26, 2008:   http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article549996.ece)

Karin Brothers is a freelance writer who was in England throughout the events related to the London bombings.

July 7, 2005, eight years ago, the London 7/7 bombings. 

Was there advanced knowledge of the attacks? Was it a conspiracy?

The following text was published by Global Research on August 8, 2005

*      *      *

A fictional “scenario” of multiple bomb attacks on London’s underground took place at exactly the same time as the bomb attack on July 7, 2005.

Peter Power, Managing Director of Visor Consultants, a private firm on contract to the London Metropolitan Police, described in a BBC interview how he had organized and conducted the anti-terror drill, on behalf of an unnamed business client.

The fictional scenario was based on simultaneous bombs going off at exactly the same time at the underground stations where the real attacks were occurring:

POWER: At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.

HOST: To get this quite straight, you were running an exercise to see how you would cope with this and it happened while you were running the exercise?

POWER: Precisely, and it was about half past nine this morning, we planned this for a company and for obvious reasons I don’t want to reveal their name but they’re listening and they’ll know it. And we had a room full of crisis managers for the first time they’d met and so within five minutes we made a pretty rapid decision that this is the real one and so we went through the correct drills of activating crisis management procedures to jump from slow time to quick time thinking and so on.

(BBC Radio Interview, 7 July 2005)

In response to the flood of incoming email messages, Peter Power –who is a former senior Scotland Yard official specializing in counterterrorism– responded in the form of the following “automatic reply”:

“Thank you for your message. Given the volume of emails about events on 7 July and a commonly expressed misguided belief that our exercise revealed prescient behaviour, or was somehow a conspiracy (noting that several websites interpreted our work that day in an inaccurate / naive / ignorant / hostile manner) it has been decided to issue a single email response as follows:

It is confirmed that a short number of ‘walk through’ scenarios planed [sic] well in advance had commenced that morning for a private company in London (as part of a wider project that remains confidential) and that two scenarios related directly to terrorist bombs at the same time as the ones that actually detonated with such tragic results. One scenario in particular, was very similar to real time events.

However, anyone with knowledge about such ongoing threats to our capital city will be aware that (a) the emergency services have already practiced several of their own exercises based on bombs in the underground system (also reported by the main news channels) and (b) a few months ago the BBC broadcast a similar documentary on the same theme, although with much worse consequences [??]. It is hardly surprising therefore, that we chose a feasible scenario – but the timing and script was nonetheless, a little disconcerting.

In short, our exercise (which involved just a few people as crisis managers actually responding to a simulated series of activities involving, on paper, 1000 staff) quickly became the real thing and the players that morning responded very well indeed to the sudden reality of events.

Beyond this no further comment will be made and based on the extraordinary number of messages from ill informed people, no replies will henceforth be given to anyone unable to demonstrate a bona fide reason for asking (e.g. accredited journalist / academic).

[ signed ] Peter Power”

(quoted in London Underground Exercises: Peter Power Responds, Jon Rappoport, July 13 2005
http://www.infowars.com/articles/London_attack/power_responds_terror_drills.htm)

Mock Terror Drills

There was nothing “routine” in the so-called “walk through” scenarios. Visor’s mock terror drills (held on the very same day as the real attack) was by no means an isolated “coincidence”. Power’s email response suggests that mock drills are undertaken very frequently, as a matter of routine, and that there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary in the exercise conducted on July 7th, which just so happened to coincide with the real terror attacks.

There have indeed been several documented high profile cases of mock terror drills in the US and the UK, held prior or on exactly the same day and at the same time as the actual terror event. In the three previous cases reviewed below, the mock drills bear a canny resemblance to the real time terror attacks.

 1. CIA Sponsored Exercise on the Morning of 9/11

On the morning of September 11 2001, within minutes of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the CIA had been running “a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building”. The simulation was held at the CIA Chantilly Virginia Reconnaissance Office.

The Bush administration described the event as “a bizarre coincidence”. The matter was not mentioned by the media.(AP, 22 August 2002)

The CIA sponsored simulation consisted in a “scheduled exercise” held on the morning of September 11, 2001, where “a small corporate jet crashed into one of the four towers at the agency’s headquarters building after experiencing a mechanical failure.” (Quoted in Associated Press, 22 August 2002.)

The news concerning the 9/11 Chantilly aircraft crashing simulation was hushed up. It was not made public at the time. It was revealed almost a year later, in the form of an innocuous announcement of a Homeland Security Conference. The latter entitled “Homeland Security: America’s Leadership Challenge” was held in Chicago on September 6, 2002, barely a few days before the commemoration of the tragic events of 9/11.

The promotional literature for the conference under the auspices of the National Law Enforcement and Security Institute (NLESI) stated what nobody in America knew about. On the morning of 9/11, the CIA was conducting a pre-planned simulation of a plane striking a building. One of the key speakers at the National Law Enforcement and Security Institute conference was CIA’s John Fulton, Chief of the Strategic War Gaming Division of the National Reconnaissance Office a specialist in risk and threat response analysis, scenario gaming, and strategic planning.

(See . The National Law Enforcement and Security Institute website is: http://www.nlsi.net/ See also The Memory Hole at http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/cia-simulation.htm):

On the morning of September 11th 2001, Mr. Fulton and his team at the CIA were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building. Little did they know that the scenario would come true in a dramatic way that day. Information is the most powerful tool available in the homeland security effort. At the core of every initiative currently underway to protect our country and its citizens is the challenge of getting the right information to the right people at the right time. How can so much information from around the world be captured and processed in meaningful and timely ways? Mr. Fulton shares his insights into the intelligence community, and shares a vision of how today’s information systems will be developed into even better counter-terrorism tools of tomorrow. (Ibid)

 2. October 2000 Mock Terror Attack on the Pentagon

In late October 2000 (more than ten months prior to 9/11), a military exercise was conducted which consisted in establishing the scenario of a simulated passenger plane crashing into the Pentagon. The Defense Protective Services Police and the Pentagon’s Command Emergency Response Team coordinated the exercise. According to a detailed report by Dennis Ryan of Fort Myer Military Community’s Pentagram, “the Pentagon Mass Casualty Exercise, as the crash was called, was just one of several scenarios that emergency response teams were exposed to on Oct. 24-26 [2000]“:

The fire and smoke from the downed passenger aircraft billows from the Pentagon courtyard. Defense Protective Services Police seal the crash sight. Army medics, nurses and doctors scramble to organize aid. (…) Don Abbott, of Command Emergency Response Training, walks over to the Pentagon and extinguishes the flames. The Pentagon was a model and the “plane crash” was a simulated one.

On Oct. 24, there was a mock terrorist incident at the Pentagon Metro stop and a construction accident to name just some of the scenarios that were practiced to better prepare local agencies for real incidents.

(Dennis Ryan, “Contingency planning, Pentagon MASCAL exercise simulates scenarios in preparing for emergencies”, MDW NEWS 3 Nov 2000. http://www.mdw.army.mil/ )

3. Britain’s Atlantic Blue, April 2005

In Britain, there were several documented exercises of terror attacks on London’s underground system.

In addition to the 7/7 exercise conducted by Visor Consultants, a similar mock terror drill on London’s transportation system entitled “Atlantic Blue” was held in April 2005, barely three months prior to the real attacks. In 2003, a mock terror drill labelled OSIRIS 2 was conducted. It consisted, according to Peter Power in testing the “equipment and people deep in the Underground of London”. It involved the participation of several hundred people. (Interview with Peter Power, CTV, 11 July 2005).

“Atlantic Blue” was part of a much larger US sponsored emergency preparedness exercise labelled TOPOFF 3, which included the participation of Britain and Canada. It had been ordered by the UK Secretary of State for the Home Department, Mr. Charles Clarke, in close coordination with his US counterpart Michael Chertoff.

The assumptions of the Visor Consultants mock drill conducted on the morning of July 7th were similar to those conducted under “Atlantic Blue”. This should come as no surprise since Visor Consultants was involved, on contract to the British government, in the organisation and conduct of Atlantic Blue and in coordination with the US Department of Homeland Security.

As in the case of the 9/11 simulation organized by the CIA, the July 7, 2005 Visor mock terror drill, was casually dismissed by the media, without further investigation, as a mere “coincidence”, with no relationship to the real event.

Foreknowledge of the 7/7 Attack?

According to a report of the Associated Press correspondent in Jerusalem, the Israeli embassy in London had been advised in advance by Scotland Yard of an impending bomb attack:

Just before the blasts, Scotland Yard called the security officer at the Israeli Embassy to say they had received warnings of possible attacks, the official said. He did not say whether British police made any link to the economic conference.(AP, 7 July 2005)

Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was warned by his embassy not to attend an attend an economic conference organized by the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in collaboration with the Israeli embassy and Deutsche Bank.

Netanyahu was staying at the Aldridge Hotel in Mayfair. The conference venue was a few miles away at the Great Eastern Hotel close to the Liverpool subway station, where one of the bomb blasts occurred.

Rudolph Giuliani’s London Visit

Rudolph Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City at the time of the 9/11 attacks, was staying at the Great Eastern hotel on the 7th of July, where TASE was hosting its economic conference, with Israel’s Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as keynote speaker.

Giuliani was having a business breakfast meeting in his room at the Great Eastern Hotel, close to Liverpool Street station when the bombs went off:

“I didn’t hear the Liverpool Street bomb go off,” he explains. “One of my security people came into the room and informed me that there had been an explosion. We went outside and they pointed in the direction of where they thought the incident had happened. There was no panic. I went back in to my breakfast. At that stage, the information coming in to us was very ambiguous.” (quoted in the Evening Standard, 11 July 2005.)

Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rudolph Giuliani knew each other. Giuliani had officially welcomed Netanyahu when he visited New York City as Prime Minister of Israel in 1996. There was no indication, however, from news reports that the two men met in London at the Great Eastern. On the day prior to the London attacks, July 6th, Giuliani was in North Yorkshire at a meeting.

After completing his term as mayor of New York City, Rudi Giuliani established a security outfit: Giuliani Security and Safety. The latter is a subsidary of Giuliani Partners LLC. headed by former New York head of the FBI, Pasquale D’Amuro.

After 9/11, D’Amuro was appointed Inspector in Charge of the FBI’s investigation of 9/11. He later served as Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters and, Executive Assistant Director for Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence. D’Amuro had close links to the Neocons in the Bush adminstration.

It is worth noting that Visor Consultants and Giuliani Security and Safety LLC specialize in similar “mock terror drills” and “emergency preparedness” procedures. Both Giuliani and Power were in London at the same time within a short distance of one of the bombing sites. While there is no evidence that Giuliani and Power met in London, the two companies have had prior business contacts in the area of emergency preparedness. Peter Power served on the Advisory Board to the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness (CCEP), together with Richard Sheirer, Senior Vice President of Giuliani and Partners. who was previously Commissioner at the NYC Office of Emergency Management, and Director of New York City Homeland Security.

(See CCEP at http://www.ccep.ca/ccep_shei.html)

Concluding Remarks

One should not at this stage of the investigation draw hasty conclusions regarding the mock terror drill of a terror attack on the London underground, held on the same day and at the same time as the real time attacks.

The issue cannot, however, be dismissed. One would expect that it be addressed in a serious and professional fashion by the police investigation and that the matter be the object of a formal clarification by the British authorities.

The issue of foreknowledge raised in the Associated Press report also requires investigation.

More generally, an independent public inquiry into the London bomb attacks is required.

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and is the author of America’s “War on Terrorism” , Second Edition, 2005, forthcoming.

One wonders whether Americans felt pride when they discovered that, according to the New York Times, their president was “a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.” As a result, Barack Obama believes that “he should take moral responsibility” for U.S. policy, including killing anyone and everyone seen as a terrorist threat to the United States. Innocents around the world might be dying, but at least the man ordering their deaths was consulting some of the world’s greatest theologians.

National security adviser Thomas Donilon observed, “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”

Washington has spent years seemingly at war with Arabs and Muslims. Without equivalent weapons — nuclear missiles, carrier groups, air wings, and the like — Islamic radicals have turned to terrorism. Nothing justifies attacks on civilians, but failing to understand and respond appropriately guarantees more of the same in the future.

After spending years propping up foreign dictators, invading and occupying foreign lands, aiding other governments which do the same, and seizing, torturing, and killing perceived adversaries, the U.S. government has created a lengthy list of enemies. Unfortunately, the broader and more violent America’s response to terrorism, the more enemies Washington creates.

Moreover, it is vital to remember that America is supposed to be a constitutional republic. Terrorists win if they convince Americans to give up their liberties.

America is a geographic location. It is a people. It also is an idea, a community defined by a shared commitment to a free society. Sacrifice the latter and America will be profoundly changed. Yet that has been happening since 9/11.

Obama’s targeted assassination is another step down this treacherous road. Extreme assertions of authority, such as the claim that the president may kill whenever he believes necessary, threaten a liberal order. The danger is greatest when the targets are American citizens. However, the president has no authority to kill foreigners without extraordinary cause either.

Claims to the contrary raise questions about what America is. In the parody song “Obama That I Used to Know,” one of the singers observes, “Sometimes I think that a peace prize winner shouldn’t have a kill list.”

He does, however. And the decision to kill appears to be the president’s alone. The Times ran a long story on the assassinator-in-chief and the regular White House meetings on whom next to kill. Although some 100 officials gather online by video conference, the president alone adjudges guilt and imposes punishment. There is no appeal or review. Rather like a Roman emperor, a thumbs down from the president means death, at least assuming the drone or SEAL team can find the target.

The Founders carefully limited the discretion of the president to start conflicts. He could defend against sudden attack, but that would not extend without congressional authority to launching a continuous series of preventive attacks in nations against which America is not at war. And the drone campaigns are war. For instance, at least 2,400 Pakistanis have been killed by drones since 2004.

No limits

After 9/11 Congress approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force. More general than a typical declaration of war, it nevertheless targeted specific people, most of whom are now dead or in captivity — those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks. Today that measure is too distant in circumstance, time, geography, and people to authorize the administration’s multiple drone campaigns.

Moreover, secret military campaigns reduce political accountability. The practice moves foreign and defense policy into the shadows. One reason the Founders insisted on a congressional declaration of war was to encourage a full public debate over basic issues of war and peace. Raining missiles on another country from drones is the equivalent of war, yet it occasions little notice.

Complained Murtaza Hussain in Salon, “In the past governments have often found their ability to wage wars abroad constrained by the citizenry who have borne the brunt of the social pressures these wars inevitably create.” Today, however, Americans are scarcely aware of the multiple wars being fought in their name.

Moreover, undertaking a policy of promiscuous assassination transforms both the battlefield and the enemy. In a traditional conflict the opposing sides are reasonably clear: Anyone in uniform on a battlefield is a legitimate target. But in the “war on terrorism” no one wears a uniform and anyone anywhere can be a combatant, making the entire world, including the American homeland, a battlefield.

Indeed, the very ease of drone assassinations undermines any safeguards on their use. Warned Amos Guiora and Laurie Blank in the Guardian, “A ‘flexible understanding of imminence’ ultimately produces an approach that can only be defined as ‘kill all the bad guys.’ If everyone who constitutes ‘a bad guy’ is automatically a legitimate target, then careful analysis of threats, imminence, proportionality, credibility, reliability, and other factors simply goes out the window.” A 2004 United Nations report raised similar concerns: “Empowering governments to identify and kill ‘known terrorists’ places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom legal force is used indeed are terrorists, or to demonstrate that every other alternative has been exhausted.”

Are there any limits on government, especially executive, power?

This president recognizes none. Indeed, the Obama administration’s policy seems to be to kill first and consider other options second. The Bush administration kidnapped and tortured, but at least its mistakes could, and occasionally were, remedied by the victim’s release. That option is not available with targeted assassinations.

Admittedly it isn’t easy to grab possible enemies in tribal Pakistan or Yemen, and the administration claims that some adversaries have been identified and then arrested and imprisoned by local authorities. Yet the sheer number of assassinations raises the question whether the United States really has so many deadly enemies.

Politics is never far in the background. In the New Yorker Steve Coll pointed to evidence “suggesting that the Obama Administration leans toward killing terrorism suspects because it does not believe it has a politically attractive way to put them on trial.” Indeed, the entire program is surrounded by political spin. Noted Dennis Blair, the administration’s first director of national intelligence, “It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”

Unfortunately, that damage can be extensive.

The first is moral. The United States has a basic ethical obligation to minimize the deaths of noncombatants. Obviously, that is difficult when the combatants live and train among civilians. However, most people recognize that terrorism is outrageous precisely because it targets innocents. To be just, counterterrorism must seek to avoid the same consequence, even if unintentional. In discussing the Obama drone program, the Times cited the possibility of “explicit intelligence posthumously proving” people to be innocent, but as yet, alas, there is no medical procedure to posthumously unkill them.

The administration acknowledges the duty to avoid noncombatant casualties and claims that few, if any, civilians have been killed recently. However, such claims deserve to be treated with skepticism. We now know that many nonterrorists — some innocent civilians, others Taliban foot-soldiers — were arrested, detained, tortured, and imprisoned as if they were terrorists.

Moreover, in Pakistan the United States has relied on “signature” strikes, which, according to the Times, aimed not at “named, high-value terrorists” but instead “targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants.” Internal administration critics, reported the Times, “complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist ‘signature’ were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees ‘three guys doing jumping jacks,’ the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.”

Such attacks obviously are no joke for those killed. Washington is following a similar policy in Yemen, where the administration has undertaken “Terrorist Attack Disruption Strikes.” At least they are supposed to be based on more-stringent standards than are “signature” attacks. However, the administration apparently still does not even know the names of those it is killing.

Creating terrorists

Of course, no one really knows how many of those killed by drone strikes (or other means) are terrorists, enablers, or innocents. Obviously, real terrorists have an incentive to overstate civilian losses, but locals respond to administration claims with incredulity.

Moreover, Washington uses definitions to assert a peerless rec-ord. Reported the Times, the administration “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent. Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.” So living next to, riding with, or talking to a possible terrorist entails the risk of a death sentence.

Third-party casualty figures vary widely, but most contradict the administration. The website Long War Journal, New America Foundation, and the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism have estimated that the number of noncombatants killed in Pakistan alone ranges from 138 to 832. Innocent deaths may be inevitable in war, but killing hundreds of noncombatants is morally abhorrent.

Moreover, killing innocents will create additional terrorists. Noted the Times, “Drones have replaced Guantanamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.” The Pakistani Taliban had little interest in America until Washington began targeting the group’s members. Faisal Shahzad, the U.S. citizen who attempted to set off a bomb in New York City’s Times Square, received assistance from the Pakistan Taliban.

Yet the administration has been expanding its kill list. The Times cited Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistan Taliban, “whose group then mainly targeted the Pakistan government.” The administration decided “that he represented a threat, if not to the homeland, to American personnel in Pakistan,” but targeting him may have turned him into a threat to the homeland as well.

Much the same has happened in Yemen, where U.S. officials admitted, “There were times when we were intentionally misled, presumably by [former president Ali Abdullah] Saleh, to get rid of people he wanted to get rid of,” one unnamed official told the Washington Post. Washington is now targeting Yemenis who at most pose a threat to Americans in Yemen — who, not coincidentally, are supporting the authoritarian regime against which many Yemenis are fighting. Reported the Post, “A growing number of attacks have been aimed at lower-level figures who are suspected of having links to terrorism operatives but are seen mainly as leaders of factions focused on gaining territory in Yemen’s internal struggle.”

There are many bad people in the world, but most have no desire to attack Americans. If the United States targets them, however, they have a compelling reason to reconsider. If they do, Washington then would fire more missiles on them, reinforcing the cycle. That should not surprise U.S. officials: Americans would react badly if a distant country, say China, was killing their neighbors in the name of fighting terrorism — even if those killed really were terrorists. And some day, as the global balance of power shifts, Americans might suffer such attacks on the basis of the precedent set by their government.

Washington’s de facto war also destabilizes target nations. Of course, it is possible that countries such as Pakistan and Yemen would be in worse shape with more terrorists absent the steady stream of drone attacks. Yet both those countries have deteriorated as U.S. strikes have increased. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state that is perennially on the brink. Washington is widely reviled there.

Writing from Yemen, author and political activist Ibrahim Mothana warned that because of the drone strikes “a new generation of leaders is spontaneously emerging in furious retaliation to attacks on their territories and tribes. This is why [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] is much stronger in Yemen today than it was a few years ago. In 2009, A.Q.A.P. had only a few hundred members and controlled no territory; today it has, along with Ansar al-Sharia, at least 1,000 members and controls substantial territory.”

The Obama administration’s desperate attempt to eradicate every last radical operative, whether dangerous or not, could have regrettable consequences. Warned Michael Boyle in the Guardian, Obama has allowed “short-term tactical victories against terrorist networks to overwhelm America’s wider strategic priorities and leave its relations with key governments in a parlous state.” If Pakistan implodes, Washington might find itself chasing loose nukes as well as violent jihadists.

Osama bin Laden and his followers never had a chance of winning the military side of the war on terrorism. But they did triumph when they caused Americans to give up some of their most important freedoms and adopt an even more interventionist foreign policy, which inevitably creates more hostility and encourages more terrorism — and which in turn encourages Americans to sacrifice more of their liberties. Barack Obama has reinforced both trends. That very likely isn’t the kind of change that many of his supporters expected in 2008.

It’s nice to know that Obama reads Aquinas and Augustine. It would be better if he renounced the autocratic authority to engage in targeted killings and ended U.S. government meddling around the globe. Unconstrained executive power undermines both Americans’ liberty and their humanity.

Venezuela Grants Snowden Asylum

July 7th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

On July 6, Russia Today headlined ” ‘Free from imperial persecution:’ Venezuela offers Snowden asylum.”

Days earlier, President Nicolas Maduro said asylum would be “seriously” considered if sought. Snowden deserves a “humanitarian medal,” he added.

“If this young man is punished, nobody in the world will ever dare to tell the truth,” he stressed.

He’s a man of his word. It’s official. Maduro granted Snowden asylum. He did so on Venezuela’s Day of Independence.

On April 10, 1810, the First Republic of Venezuela was established. Venezuela’s War of Independence began.

On July 5, 1811, Venezuela declared independence. Spanish colonial rule ended.

Venezuela was its first American colony to break free. Doing so reflected Bolivar’s vision. He liberated half of South America. He advocated using national wealth responsibly, equitably and fairly.

He fought against what he called the imperial curse “to plague Latin America with misery in the name of liberty.”

Chavez was his modern-day incarnation. Maduro carries his torch. Doing so responsibly matters most. Hopefully he’s up to the challenge.

Chavez called him Venezuela’s most capable administrator and politician. His leadership experience prepared him well. His credentials are impeccable.

He’s ideologically left of center. He’s a former union leader, legislator, National Assembly speaker, foreign minister, and vice president. On April 19, 2013, he succeed Chavez as president.

Venezuela’s independence was short-lived. It lasted until July 25, 1812. Chavez restored Bolivarianism. It’s institutionalized. It benefits all Venezuelans. It does so equitably and fairly.

Americans are cheated. They’re deprived. They’re denied. They’re persecuted. State terror is policy. Police state justice targets challengers.

Neoliberal harshness punishes millions. Americans get force-fed austerity, growing poverty, high unemployment, and unaddressed homelessness and hunger.

They get government of, by and for wealth, power and privilege alone. They’re targeted for supporting right over wrong.

Venezuelans enjoy government of, by and for everyone. National wealth is equitably shared. On July 5, Maduro acted responsibly, saying:

“As head of state and of government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden.”

“To be independent, we must feel it. We must exercise our independence and sovereignty. Our discourses are meaningless if they aren’t exercised with force at the national level.”

“I announce to the friendly governments of the world that we have decided to offer this statute of international humanitarian law to protect the young Snowden from the persecution that has been unleashed from the most powerful empire in the world.”

“Let’s ask ourselves: who violated international law? A young man who decided, in an act of rebellion, to tell the truth of the espionage of the United States against the world? Or the government of the United States, the power of the imperialist elites, who spied on it?”

“Who is the guilty one,” he added. “A young man who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president, Bashar al-Assad?”

Venezuela isn’t alone. Bolivia suggested asylum would be granted. On Friday, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega said he’ll “gladly receive Snowden.”

“We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua,” he said.

On July 4, USASUR countries adopted the Cochabamba Declaration.

Presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as delegations from Brazil, Chile and Peru reacted to France, Italy, Portugal and Spain denying Evo Morales airspace and landing rights.

Their Declaration states:

“Given the situation that the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales, was subjected to by the governments of France, Portugal, Italy and Spain, we denounce before the international community and various international organizations:

  • The flagrant violation of international treaties governing peaceful coexistence, solidarity and cooperation between our states, that took place is an unusual act, unfriendly and hostile, configuring an unlawful act that affects freedom of movement and displacement of a head of state and his delegation.
  • The abuse and neocolonial practices that still exist on our planet in the XXI century.
  • The lack of transparency about the motivations of policy decisions that prevented air traffic for the Bolivian presidential vessel and its president.
  • The injury suffered by President Evo Morales, which offends not only the Bolivian people but all our nations.
  • The illegal spying practices that threaten the rights of citizens and friendly coexistence among nations.”

“In view of these denunciations, we are convinced that the process of building the Patria Grande (Integrated Latin America) to which we are committed must be consolidated with full respect for the sovereignty and independence of our peoples, without interference from global hegemonic powers, conquering the old practices of imposing first and second class.(status on) countries.”

“The men and women heads of state and governments of countries of the Union of South American Nations, gathered in Cochabamba on July 4, 2013:

(1) We declare that the unacceptable restriction on the freedom of President Evo Morales, making virtually him a hostage, is a rights violation of not only the Bolivian people but of all countries and peoples of Latin America and sets a dangerous precedent for existing international law.

(2) We reject the actions that clearly violate norms and principles of international law, the inviolability of the heads of state.

(3) We call on the governments of France, Portugal, Italy and Spain to explain the reasons for the decision to prevent the presidential plane from the Plurinational State of Bolivia from overflying through its airspace.

(4) Similarly, we urge the governments of France, Portugal, Italy and Spain present the corresponding public apologies for the serious incidents that occurred.

(5) We support the complaint filed by the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the serious violation of human rights and specific endangerment of the life of President Evo Morales; we also support the right of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to take all actions it deems necessary to the courts and relevant agencies.

(6) We agreed to form a monitoring committee, entrusting the task to our foreign ministries to perform the actions necessary to shed light on the facts.”

“Finally, in the spirit of the principles set forth in the treaty establishing UNASUR, we urge all the heads of state of the union to stand by (accompany) this declaration.

Similarly, we call on the United Nations and regional organizations that have not done so yet, to make a pronouncement on this unjustifiable and arbitrary event.

Cochabamba, July 4, 2013″

On Friday, Maduro accused CIA officials of “order(ing) to the air traffic authorities, which gave the alert that Snowden was going in (Morales’) plane.”

He said Washington sent an extradition request. It came while Evo Morales was still in Moscow. Venezuela rejected it. Maduro was blunt and unequivocal saying:

Washington has “no moral authority to request the extradition of a young man who exposed the illegality under which the Pentagon, the CIA and the power of the US work. I reject any request they are making for extradition.”

He justifiably wants Luis Posada Carriles extradited. He conspired with Orlando Bosch. They’re responsible for downing Cubana flight 455. In 1976, all 78 passengers aboard died.

Bosch died in April 2011. Carriles remains free in Miami. He’s a former CIA operative. He admitted responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks. Washington protects him. It rejects Venezuela’s request for justice.

Bolivia got America’s extradition request. Its Foreign Ministry called it “strange, illegal and unfounded.”

At the same time, Morales threatened to expel US diplomats and close Washington’s embassy, saying:

“We don’t need the pretext of cooperation and diplomatic relations so that they can come and spy on us.”

Washington unjustifiably claims Snowden “unlawfully released classified information and documents to international media outlets.”

“The United States seeks Snowden’s provisional arrest should Snowden seek to travel to or transit through Venezuela. Snowden is a flight risk because of the substantial charges he is facing and his current and active attempts to remain a fugitive.”

It explained charges against him. They include:

  • “Theft of Government Property
  • Unauthorized Communication of National Defense

Information (and)

  • Willful Communication of Classified Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person.”

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and $250,000 fine.

Snowden’s called “a fugitive who is currently in Russia. It urged Venezuela to arrest and hold him in custody. It wants items he has seized.

Maduro rejected Washington’s charges. He did so responsibly. He exposed lawless NSA spying. He told the truth, Maduro said.

He deserves his just reward. He’s free at last. Or is he? Traveling safely to Venezuela won’t be easy. His flight route’s important.

Attempting to overfly EU countries risks trouble. Flying east perhaps avoids it. A potentially safe route might be Moscow to Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai, then Caracas.

He needs proper travel documents. Without identity papers, they’ll him cross international borders legally.

Russia must approve. So must an airline carrier. Private non-commercial travel’s simpler. At issue is who’ll cover costs either way. Traveling from Moscow to Caracas isn’t cheap.

Commercial flights are expensive. Cost exceeds $1,000. Who’ll pay if Snowden can’t? Wherever he goes, he’s unsafe. Washington’s long arm threatens him. Obama wants him silenced, imprisoned or dead. Snowden knows and said so.

He’ll live every free day ahead like his last. Hopefully he’ll avoid US injustice. He deserves his just reward.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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http://www.dailycensored.com/venezuela-grants-snowden-amnesty/

Egypt is currently at a dangerous crossroads which could evolve towards a civil war.

It is important to understand Washington’s role, which is carried out by the Pentagon and US intelligence.

While the Armed Forces have cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood,  the Coup d’Etat is ultimately intended to manipulate the protest movement and prevent the accession of a “real people’s government”. 

The overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian Armed forces was not carried out against US interests, it was instigated to ensure “continuity” on behalf of Washington.  Defense Minister General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi who was behind the Coup d’Etat directed against President Morsi was in permanent liaison by telephone with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel  from the very outset of the protest movement. Press reports confirm that he consulted him several times in the days leading up to the Coup d’Etat.  It is highly unlikely that General Al Sisi would have acted without a ‘green light” from the Pentagon.

The Muslim Brotherhood government was supported by the US from the outset.  At the same time important sectors of the protest movement directed against the Brotherhood were also supported by the US,  through US  foundations,  including the National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House. The Kifaya movement, which organized one of the first protests directed against the Mubarak regime in late 2004, and which is currently involved in the movement against the Brotherhood is supported by the US based International Center for Non-Violent Conflict

These actions by US foundations linked to the US State Department ensure that the US funded civil society opposition will not  address the broader issue of foreign interference in the affairs of a sovereign state.

The US supports both sides with a view to creating divisions within Egyptian society as well political chaos.

The puppet masters so to speak support the protest movement against their own puppets. Its called “political leveraging”: support the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the opponents of the Morsi government, as a means to manipulating the mass movement, creating social and sectarian divisions and preventing the emergence of a sovereign national government.

Meanwhile the Western media has skillfully portrayed the Egyptian military as anti-American, following the recall of the US ambassador to Egypt Ann Patterson. This action is a useful lsmokescreen which obfuscates Washington’s role in the Coup d’Etat: the instigators of the Coup d’Etat are not “anti-American, they take their orders directly from the Pentagon.

The following article first published in January 2011 provides a background on the 2011 protest movement  as well as Washington’s role in manipulating the “Arab Spring” movement.

Michel Chossudovsky, July 6, 2013


The Protest Movement in Egypt: “Dictators” do not Dictate, They Obey Orders

by Michel Chossudovsky,

Global Research, January 29,  2011

The Mubarak regime could collapse in the a face of a nationwide protest movement… What prospects for Egypt and the Arab World?

 ”Dictators” do not dictate, they obey orders. This is true in Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.   

Dictators are invariably political puppets. Dictators do not decide.

President Hosni Mubarak was a faithful servant of Western economic interests and so was Ben Ali.

The national government is the object of the protest movement.

The objective is to unseat the puppet rather than the puppet-master.

The slogans in Egypt are “Down with Mubarak, Down with the Regime”. No anti-American posters have been reported… The overriding and destructive influence of the USA in Egypt and throughout the Middle East remains unheralded.

The foreign powers which operate behind the scenes are shielded from the protest movement.

No significant political change will occur unless the issue of foreign interference is meaningfully addressed by the protest movement.

The US embassy in Cairo is an important political entity, invariably overshadowing the national government. The Embassy is not a target of the protest movement.

In Egypt, a devastating IMF program was imposed in 1991 at the height of the Gulf War. It was negotiated in exchange for the annulment of Egypt’s multibillion dollar military debt to the US as well as its participation in the war. The resulting deregulation of food prices, sweeping privatisation and massive austerity measures led to the impoverishment of the Egyptian population and the destabilization of its economy. The Mubarak government was praised as a model “IMF pupil”.

The role of Ben Ali’s government in Tunisia was to enforce the IMF’s deadly economic medicine, which over a period of more than twenty years served to destabilize the national economy and impoverish the Tunisian population. Over the last 23 years, economic and social policy in Tunisia has been dictated by the Washington Consensus.

Both Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali stayed in power because their governments obeyed and effectively enforced the diktats of the IMF.

From Pinochet and Videla to Baby Doc, Ben Ali and Mubarak, dictators have been installed by Washington. Historically in Latin America, dictators were instated through a series of US sponsored military coups. In todays World, they are installed through “free and fair elections” under the surveillance of the “international community”.

Our message to the protest movement:

Actual decisions are taken in Washington DC,  at the US State Department, at the Pentagon,  at Langley, headquarters of the CIA. at H Street NW, the headquarters of the World Bank and the IMF.

The relationship of “the dictator” to foreign interests must be addressed. Unseat the political puppets but do not forget to target the “real dictators”. 

The protest movement should focus on the real seat of political authority; it should target (in a peaceful, orderly and nonviolent fashion) the US embassy, the delegation of the European Union, the national missions of the IMF and the World Bank.

Meaningful political change can only be ensured if the neoliberal economic policy agenda is thrown out.

Regime Replacement 

If the protest movement fails to address the role of foreign powers including pressures exerted by “investors”, external creditors and international financial institutions, the objective of national sovereignty will not be achieved. In which case, what will occur is a narrow process of “regime replacement”, which ensures political continuity.

“Dictators” are seated and unseated. When they are politically discredited and no longer serve the interests of their US sponsors, they are replaced by a new leader, often recruited from within the ranks of the political opposition.

In Tunisia, the Obama administration has already positioned itself. It intends to play a key role in the “democratization program” (i.e. the holding of so-called fair elections). It also intends to use the political crisis as a means to weaken the role of France and consolidate its position in North Africa:

“The United States, which was quick to size up the groundswell of protest on the streets of Tunisia, is trying to press its advantage to push for democratic reforms in the country and further afield.

The top-ranking US envoy for the Middle East, Jeffrey Feltman, was the first foreign official to arrive in the country after president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted on January 14 and swiftly called for reforms. He said on Tuesday only free and fair elections would strengthen and give credibility to the north African state’s embattled leadership.

“I certainly expect that we’ll be using the Tunisian example” in talks with other Arab governments, Assistant Secretary of State Feltman added.

He was dispatched to the north African country to offer US help in the turbulent transition of power, and met with Tunisian ministers and civil society figures.

Feltman travels to Paris on Wednesday to discuss the crisis with French leaders, boosting the impression that the US is leading international support for a new Tunisia, to the detriment of its former colonial power, France. …

Western nations had long supported Tunisia’s ousted leadership, seeing it as a bulwark against Islamic militants in the north Africa region.

In 2006, the then US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, speaking in Tunis, praised the country’s evolution.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nimbly stepped in with a speech in Doha on January 13 warning Arab leaders to allow their citizens greater freedoms or risk extremists exploiting the situation.

There is no doubt that the United States is trying to position itself very quickly on the good side,…” ” AFP: US helping shape outcome of Tunisian uprising emphasis added

Will Washington be successful in instating a new puppet regime?

This very much depends on the ability of the protest movement to address the insidious role of the US in the country’s internal affairs.

The overriding powers of empire are not mentioned. In a bitter irony, president Obama has expressed his support for the protest movement.

Many people within the protest movement are led to believe that president Obama is committed to democracy and human rights, and is supportive of the opposition’s resolve to unseat a dictator, which was installed by the US in the first place.

Co-optation of Opposition Leaders

The co-optation of the leaders of major opposition parties and civil society organizations in anticipation of the collapse of an authoritarian puppet government is part of Washington’s design, applied in different regions of the World.

The process of co-optation is implemented and financed by US based foundations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and  Freedom House (FH). Both FH and the NED have links to the US Congress. the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the US business establishment. Both the NED and FH are known to have ties to the CIA.

The NED is actively involved in Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria. Freedom House supports several civil society organizations in Egypt.

“The NED was established by the Reagan administration after the CIA’s role in covertly funding efforts to overthrow foreign governments was brought to light, leading to the discrediting of the parties, movements, journals, books, newspapers and individuals that received CIA funding. … As a bipartisan endowment, with participation from the two major parties, as well as the AFL-CIO and US Chamber of Commerce, the NED took over the financing of foreign overthrow movements, but overtly and under the rubric of “democracy promotion.” (Stephen Gowans, January « 2011 “What’s left

While the US has supported the Mubarak government for the last thirty years, US foundations with ties to the US State department and the Pentagon have actively supported the political opposition including the civil society movement.  According to Freedom House: “Egyptian civil society is both vibrant and constrained. There are hundreds of non-governmental organizations devoted to expanding civil and political rights in the country, operating in a highly regulated environment.” (Freedom House Press Releases).

In a bitter irony, Washington supports the Mubarak dictatorship, including its atrocities, while also backing and financing its detractors, through the activities of FH, the NED, among others.

Under the auspices of Freedom House, Egyptian dissidents and opponents of Hosni Mubarak were received in May 2008 by Condoleezza Rice at the State Department and the US Congress. They also met White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who was “the principal White House foreign policy adviser” during George W. Bush’s second term.

Freedom House’s effort to empower a new generation of advocates has yielded tangible results and the New Generation program in Egypt has gained prominence both locally and internationally. Egyptian visiting fellows from all civil society groups received [May 2008] unprecedented attention and recognition, including meetings in Washington with US Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and prominent members of Congress. In the words of Condoleezza Rice, the fellows represent the “hope for the future of Egypt.”

Freedom House, http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=66&program=84 (emphasis added).

Political Double Talk: Chatting with “Dictators”, Mingling with “Dissidents”

The Egyptian pro-democracy delegation to the State Department was described by Condoleezza Rice as “The Hope for the Future of Egypt”.

In May 2009, Hillary Clinton met a delegation of Egyptian dissidents, several of which had met Condoleezza Rice a year earlier. These high level meetings were held a week prior to Obama’s visit to Egypt:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the work of a group of Egyptian civil society activists she met with today and said it was in Egypt’s interest to move toward democracy and to exhibit more respect for human rights.

The 16 activists met with Clinton and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman in Washington at the end of a two-month fellowship organized by Freedom House’s New Generation program.

The fellows raised concern about what they perceived as the United States government distancing itself from Egyptian civil society and called on President Obama to meet with young independent civil society activists when he visits Cairo next week. They also urged the Obama administration to continue to provide political and financial support to Egyptian civil society and to help open the space for nongovernmental organizations which is tightly restricted under Egypt’s longstanding emergency law.

The fellows told Clinton that momentum was already building in Egypt for increased civil and human rights and that U.S. support at this time was urgently needed. They stressed that civil society represents a moderate and peaceful “third way” in Egypt, an alternative to authoritarian elements in the government and those that espouse theocratic rule. (Freedom House, May 2009)

During their fellowship, the activists spent a week in Washington receiving training in advocacy and getting an inside look at the way U.S. democracy works. After their training, the fellows were matched with civil society organizations throughout the country where they shared experiences with U.S. counterparts. The activists will wrap up their program … by visiting U.S. government officials, members of Congress, media outlets and think tanks.” (Freedom House, May 2009, emphasis added)

These opposition civil society groups –which are currently playing an important role in the protest movement– are supported and funded by the US. They indelibly serve US interests.

The invitation of Egyptian dissidents to the State Department and the US Congress also purports to instil a feeling of commitment and allegiance to American democratic values. America is presented as a model of Freedom and Justice. Obama is upheld as a “Role Model”.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with Egyptian activists promoting freedom and democracy, visiting through the Freedom House organization, prior to meetings at the State Department in Washington, DC, May 28, 2009.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with “Egyptian activists promoting freedom and
democracy”, prior to meetings at the State Department in Washington, DC, May 28, 2009.

 

Hillary Clinton and Hosni Mubarak in Sharm El Sheik, September 2010

Condoleezza Rice chats with Hosni Mubarak?  ” Hope for the Future of Egypt”.

The Puppet Masters Support the Protest Movement against their own Puppets

The puppet masters support dissent against their own puppets?

Its called “political leveraging”, “manufacturing dissent”.  Support the dictator as well as the opponents of the dictator as a means of controlling the political opposition.

These actions on the part of Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy, on behalf of the Bush and Obama administrations, ensure that the US funded civil society opposition will not direct their energies against the puppet masters behind the Mubarak regime, namely the US government.

These US funded civil society organizations act as a “Trojan Horse” which becomes embedded within the protest movement. They protect the interests of the puppet masters. They ensure that the grassroots protest movement will not address the broader issue of foreign interference in the affairs of sovereign states.

The Facebook Twitter Bloggers Supported and Financed by Washington

In relation to the protest movement in Egypt, several civil society groups funded by US based foundations have led the protest on Twitter and Facebook:

“Activists from Egypt’s Kifaya (Enough) movement – a coalition of government opponents – and the 6th of April Youth Movement organized the protests on the Facebook and Twitter social networking websites. Western news reports said Twitter appeared to be blocked in Egypt later Tuesday.” (See Voice of America, ,Egypt Rocked by Deadly Anti-Government Protests


The Kifaya movement, which organized one of the first protests directed against the Mubarak regime in late 2004, is supported by the US based International Center for Non-Violent Conflict. Kifaya is a broad-based movement which has also taken a stance on Palestine and US interventionism in the region.

In turn, Freedom House has been involved in promoting and training the Middle East North Africa Facebook and Twitter blogs:

Freedom House fellows acquired skills in civic mobilization, leadership, and strategic planning, and benefit from networking opportunities through interaction with Washington-based donors, international organizations and the media. After returning to Egypt, the fellows received small grants to implement innovative initiatives such as advocating for political reform through Facebook and SMS messaging.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=66&program=84 (emphasis added)

From February 27 to March 13 [2010], Freedom House hosted 11 bloggers from the Middle East and North Africa [from different civil society organizations] for a two-week Advanced New Media Study Tour in Washington, D.C. The Study Tour provided the bloggers with training in digital security, digital video making, message development and digital mapping. While in D.C., the Fellows also participated in a Senate briefing, and met with high-level officials at USAID, State [Department] and Congress as well as international media including Al-Jazeera and the Washington Post.http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=115&program=84&item=87 emphasis added

One can easily apprehend the importance attached by the US administration to this bloggers’ “training program”, which is coupled with high level meetings at the US Senate,  the  Congress, the  State Department, etc.

The role of the Facebook Twitter social media as an expression of dissent, must be carefully evaluated: the civil society bloggers are supported by Freedom House (FH), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the US State Department.

BBC News World (broadcast in the Middle East) quoting Egyptian internet messages has reported that “the US has been sending money to pro-democracy groups.” (BBC News World, January 29, 2010). The April 6 Youth Movement is supported covertly by Washington. According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, quoting a secret US embassy document (Jan 29, 2011):

“The protests in Egypt are being driven by the April 6 youth movement, a group on Facebook that has attracted mainly young and educated members opposed to Mr Mubarak. The group has about 70,000 members and uses social networking sites to orchestrate protests and report on their activities.

The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal US Embassy officials [in Cairo] were in regular contact with the activist throughout 2008 and 2009, considering him one of their most reliable sources for information about human rights abuses.” (emphasis added)

The Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt constitutes the largest segment of the opposition to president Mubarak. According to reports, The Muslim Brotherhood dominates the protest movement.

While there is a constitutional ban against religious political parties Brotherhood members elected to Egypt’s parliament as “independents” constitute the largest parliamentary block.

The Brotherhood, however, does not constitute a direct threat to Washington’s economic and strategic interests in the region. Western intelligence agencies have a longstanding history of collaboration with the Brotherhood. Britain’s support of the Brotherhood instrumented  through the British Secret Service dates back to the 1940s. Starting in the 1950s, according to former intelligence official William Baer, “The CIA [funnelled] support to the Muslim Brotherhood because of “the Brotherhood’s commendable capability to overthrow Nasser.”1954-1970: CIA and the Muslim Brotherhood Ally to Oppose Egyptian President Nasser, These covert  links to the CIA were maintained in the post-Nasser era.

Concluding Remarks

The removal of Hosni Mubarak has, for several years, been on the drawing board of US foreign policy.

Regime replacement serves to ensure continuity, while providing the illusion that meaningful political change has occurred.

Washington’s agenda for Egypt has been to “hijack the protest movement” and replace president Hosni Mubarak with a new compliant puppet head of state. Washington’s objective is to sustain the interests of foreign powers, to uphold the neoliberal economic agenda which has served to impoverish the Egyptian population.

From Washington’s standpoint, regime replacement no longer requires the installation of an authoritarian  military regime as in the heyday of US imperialism, It can be implemented by co-opting political parties, including the Left, financing civil society groups, infiltrating the protest movement and manipulating national elections.

With reference to the protest movement in Egypt, President Obama stated in a January 28 video broadcast on Youtube: “The Government Should Not Resort to Violence”. The more fundamental question is what is the source of that violence? Egypt is the largest recipient of US military aid after Israel. The Egyptian military is considered to be the power base of the Mubarak regime:

“The country’s army and police forces are geared to the teeth thanks to more than $1 billion in military aid a year from Washington. … When the US officially describes Egypt as “an important ally” it is inadvertently referring to Mubarak’s role as a garrison outpost for US military operations and dirty war tactics in the Middle East and beyond. There is clear evidence from international human rights groups that countless “suspects” rendered by US forces in their various territories of (criminal) operations are secretly dumped in Egypt for “deep interrogation”. The country serves as a giant “Guantanamo” of the Middle East, conveniently obscured from US public interest and relieved of legal niceties over human rights.” (Finian Cunningham, Egypt: US-Backed Repression is Insight for American Public, Global Research, January 28, 2010).

America is no “Role Model” of Democratization for the Middle East. US military presence imposed on Egypt and the Arab World for more than 20 years, coupled with “free market” reforms are the root cause of State violence.

America’s intent is to use the protest movement to install a new regime.

The People’s Movement should redirect its energies: Identify the relationship between America and “the dictator”. Unseat America’s political puppet but do not forget to target the “real dictators”.

Shunt the process of regime change.

Dismantle the neoliberal reforms.

Close down US military bases in the Arab World.

Establish a truly sovereign government.

Update from Ralph Poynter:

July 2, 2013 — The Federal Bureau of Prisons has DENIED Lynne Stewart’s application for compassionate release. Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. took this action despite recommendations for compassionate release from Federal Medical Center, Carswell Warden Jody R. Upton and South Central Regional Office Director J.A. Keller, as well as the vetting of Stewart’s release plans by the Federal Probation Office in New York. The struggle to free Lynne Stewart continues on many fronts. First and foremost, each and every one of us must increase the number of people worldwide who sign the petition.

Lynne Stewart’s condition is deteriorating rapidly. Medical treatment to arrest the cancer that is metastasizing in her body has been halted because she is too weak to receive it. She remains in isolation, as her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk for generalized infection.

We shall not stand by idly while the Federal Bureau of Prisons murders Lynne Stewart. The Bureau of Prisons can and must reverse its decision.

A message from Lynne Stewart:

Disappointed but Not Devastated

My Dear Friends, Supporters, Comrades:

I know we are all disappointed to the marrow of our bones and the depths of our hearts by the news that the Bureaucrats, Kafka like, have turned down my request for compassionate release.

Let me say, that we are planning ahead. The letter from the BOP is flawed, to put it mildly. Both factually and medically it has major problems. We intend to go to court and raise these in front of my sentencing Judge Koeltl. At the first sentencing he responded to a query by one of the lawyers that he didn’t want me to die in prison — we’ll see if he can now live up to that. He is of course the same Judge who increased my sentence to 10 years — but this IS very different and we can only hope that we can prevail. Stay tuned for what we need from you. We will never give up. In the meantime, once again, I grieve for my children and grandchildren who love me so much and had such great expectations of enjoying life together again in our beloved NYC and not just trying to, in the prison visiting room. My Ralph, too, whose dedication and love are only exceeded by the work he does on my behalf — but he is a born fighter and although he hurts, it all comes more naturally to him.

But for everyone else, I hope that your affront at this crass bureaucratic denial of the request, which you by your signatures and letters and phone calls, demanded — How far can we let this go? when a 73-year old woman who IS dying of cancer (maybe not on their timetable,) her life of good works ignored, be shunted aside … “she does not present circumstances considered extraordinary and compelling … at this time.” We must show them that I cannot be ignored, that YOU cannot be ignored.”

Fight On — All of Us or None of Us. An affront to one is an affront to all.

Love Struggle,

Lynne Stewart

Sign the petition at IACenter.org/LynneStewartPetition or at LynneStewart.org 

Keep the pressure on!
Rallies for Lynne:

July 9, Tuesday

New York City
Foley Sq, Lower Manhattan Courts, 4-7pm

And march to. 500 Pearl St

July 12 Friday

 

Washington DC — 5:30 to 8pm
at Columbia Heights Civic Plaza
14th St & Park Rd. NW

 

International Action Center
c/o Solidarity Center
New Address:
147 W. 24th St. 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10011
212-633-6646
[email protected]
www.iacenter.org

Five South American heads of state joined with Evo Morales in Cochabamba Thursday to denounce the US-instigated grounding of the Bolivian president’s plane. The action was ostensibly taken in response to faulty intelligence that the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has exposed massive illegal spying by the NSA, was on board the aircraft.

On Friday, speaking on the occasion of Venezuela’s Independence Day, President Nicolas Maduro said he would offer asylum to Snowden. “In the name of America’s dignity… I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” he told a televised military parade. It is not clear whether Maduro is attaching any conditions to the offer.

Also on Friday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega appeared to make a conditional offer of asylum. Speaking at a public event, he said, “If circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua.”

The meeting on Thursday, which included half of the heads of state of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR, its acronym in Spanish), was convened after Morales returned to Bolivia aboard a presidential jet that had been detoured from its approved flight path Tuesday and forced to land in Vienna, Austria, where it remained for nearly 14 hours.

Some three hours into the plane’s flight from Moscow, the governments of France, Portugal, Italy and Spain refused it permission to travel through their airspace, compelling it to make the emergency landing in Vienna due to dwindling fuel. The actions of these governments was in violation of international treaties and air traffic agreements and placed the lives of Morales and other senior Bolivian officials on board at risk.

The joint declaration issued following the meeting between Morales and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Uruguayan President Jose “Pepe” Mujica and the president of Surinam, Desi Bouters, accused the European powers of turning the Bolivian president into “virtually a hostage” and setting “a dangerous precedent in relation to existing international law.”

It went on to demand that the governments of France, Portugal, Italy and Spain provide explanations for their actions and issue “public apologies” for the “grave acts” committed against Morales.

The statement denounced the extraordinary forcing down of a head of state’s aircraft in mid-flight as an example of “neo-colonial practices” and condemned “illegal acts of espionage that threaten citizens’ rights and the friendly co-existence between nations.”

The statement made no direct mention, however, of Edward Snowden, the target of the extra-legal US manhunt, whose reported presence on Morales’ plane was the motive for the European governments’ bellicose actions.

The former NSA contractor is reportedly still trapped in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, where he arrived on June 23. According to WikiLeaks, he has made applications for asylum to 27 countries, many of which have summarily rejected his request.

The governments of Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela have indicated that they would consider his bid for asylum. The Ecuadorean government, however, made a sharp shift from its earlier cooperation with Snowden. Having initially provided him a safe-passage document for his flight from Hong Kong to Moscow, it then declared the move a “mistake” and rescinded the document. Quito has since insisted that Snowden would have to be on Ecuadorean soil before asylum could be considered.

Venezuela’s President Maduro, meanwhile, announced that his government would await “the reaction of the world” before deciding on the asylum request.

While in Moscow attending a summit of gas-exporting nations, Morales gave the most forthright statement on Snowden’s appeal, stating that Bolivia was “ready to accept those who disclose espionage.” Asked directly if he would grant asylum, Morales replied, “Yes. Why not?”

It is by no means clear whether the US really suspected that Snowden was on Morales’ aircraft—which departed from a different airport than the one where the ex-NSA contractor has been confined—or whether it sought through an act of international gangsterism against the Bolivian president to intimidate anyone considering aiding Snowden.

Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, in an interview with Spanish state television, TVE, rejected the demand from UNASUR, insisting that his government had no reason to apologize.

“They told us he [Snowden] was inside” the plane, he said, while claiming that Spain’s overflight authorization had not been rescinded, but merely expired after France and Portugal refused to allow Morales’ plane to enter their airspace. “The reactions of the European countries was because of the information that they gave us that he was inside,” he added.

While García-Margallo did not volunteer who “they” were, he was asked directly whether the Spanish government had been in telephone contact with US officials regarding the incident. “That information remains secret,” he replied.

Morales has charged that while he was detained on the ground in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria came to the airport and asked to be invited onto the airplane “to have a coffee.” The Bolivian president refused, charging that the request amounted to a thinly veiled attempt to search the aircraft for Snowden. “I am not a criminal,” he declared.

For its part, Washington has refused to comment on the widespread charges that it instigated the forcing down of Morales’ plane, which amounts to an act of war between nations.

Venezuela’s President Maduro stated that a European minister “told me personally that it was the CIA that gave the order to the air traffic authorities, which gave the alert that Snowden was going in the plane.”

Both Bolivia and Venezuela have rejected demands from Washington that they extradite Snowden should he land on their soil. The extradition request arrived in La Paz just a day after Morales’ ordeal in his flight back from Moscow.

The Bolivian foreign ministry described the request as “strange, illegal and unfounded,” given that Snowden wasn’t even in the country.

For his part, Morales threatened to expel the US diplomatic mission and shut down its embassy. “We don’t need the pretext of cooperation and diplomatic relations so that they can come and spy on us,” said the Bolivian president.

Venezuela’s Maduro said that his government had received a similar request from Washington. He rejected it saying that Washington has “no moral authority” to pursue Snowden after he exposed “crimes against humanity.”

“They have no moral authority to request the extradition of a young man who exposed the illegality under which the Pentagon, the CIA and the power of the US work,” said Maduro. “I reject any request they are making for extradition.”

The Venezuelan president added that the US government should first comply with Venezuela’s demand for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, who is wanted in Venezuela for the 1976 terrorist bombing of a Cuban passenger plane that killed all 78 people aboard. The US has rejected the request and effectively provided the Miami-based Cuban exile terrorist with political asylum.

Bolivia can make a similar case, with Washington dismissing its demands for the extradition of the country’s former president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who is wanted not for exposing government crimes, as in the case of Snowden, but rather for massacring scores of unarmed demonstrators.

Snowden’s life remains in grave danger, with the Obama administration demanding his return to face espionage charges, which carry a potential death penalty. As the Morales episode makes clear, Washington is prepared to kill him or those it believes are aiding him.

Clashes spread throughout Egypt yesterday as security forces cracked down on protests by supporters of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) President Mohamed Mursi, who was ousted in a coup Wednesday. The coup—launched with US support to end mass protests against Mursi and pre-empt the development of a political movement in the working class—now threatens to plunge Egypt into civil war.

The Egyptian generals are coordinating their crackdown closely with Washington. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, spoke with Egyptian chief of staff, Lieutenant General Sedki Sobhi, Thursday, also contacting Israeli army officials. These ties show that, while the initial target of repression is the MB, the ultimate target of the military regime is working class opposition to the free-market and pro-imperialist policies that Washington demands.

To block the growth of opposition to the coup from the working class, the army is relying on liberal and pseudo-left forces that back the Tamarod (“rebel”) coalition, such as the National Salvation Front (NSF) of Mohamed ElBaradei and the Revolutionary Socialists (RS). Tamarod officials supported the coup, appearing on Wednesday next to military strongman General Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi as he announced the installation of the new military regime. Yesterday, the NSF called on Egyptians to “protect” the regime in street protests.

In Cairo, the army fired on a pro-Mursi protest at the Republican Guard barracks, where Mursi is being held, killing three and wounding at least 65. Deadly fighting continued yesterday evening on the October 6 Bridge near Tahrir Square, as security forces intervened in clashes between pro- and anti-Mursi protesters.

At least 12 were confirmed dead yesterday in Alexandria, after gun battles erupted between pro- and anti-Mursi demonstrators, with police joining the anti-Mursi side.

In the Sinai, where Islamist forces have substantial support, the army declared a state of emergency after a wave of attacks on army installations in Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah, and on the Al-Arish airport. Reports indicated that 20 Islamist fighters as well as several soldiers and policemen have died in clashes since Mursi’s ouster.

Sheikh Ibrahim El-Manei, the head of the Union of Sinai Tribes, said that the region resembles a “battlefield.” Alluding to the risk of civil war, he added that he was wary of “the Algerian and Syrian scenarios.” He was referring to the bloody Algerian civil war of 1991-2002 and to the ongoing US-led proxy war in Syria, both of which featured armed Islamist insurgencies fighting the national army.

General Ala Ezzedine told Egypt’s state-run daily Al Ahram that the army will soon start a “mass operation” to crush opposition in the Sinai.

The army is moving to destroy the MB’s positions in the state. Newly-installed President Adly Mansour dissolved the Shura Council, the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament, by decree yesterday.

The army also reportedly has arrested up to 300 leading MB officials, including MB Supreme Leader Mohamed Badie and billionaire Deputy Leader Khairat al-Shater.

The coup is proceeding with Washington’s full support. The Obama administration has even cynically sought to avoid admitting that what is taking place in Egypt is a coup, as this would legally bar Washington from paying its yearly $1.3 billion subsidy to the Egyptian army.

US congressmen have also indicated that they favor ignoring the law to continue backing the coup. “The law by its terms dictates one thing, and sensible policy dictates that we don’t do that,” Democratic Representative Howard Berman told the New York Times. “That’s why the executive branch gets to decide whether it’s a coup or not. Under the plain meaning rule, there was a coup.” However, Berman added that he opposed cutting off aid to the Egyptian army.

The Egyptian military junta that Washington is supporting is a deeply reactionary regime, dedicated above all to crushing opposition in the working class.

Perhaps the clearest indication of the reactionary policies US imperialism intends for the Egyptian army to carry out came in a column from the Wall Street Journal, calling for the new junta to model itself on Chilean dictator and mass murderer General Augusto Pinochet.

The Journal called for Washington to “help Egypt gain access to markets, international loans, and investment capital. The US now has a second chance to use its leverage to shape a better outcome. Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.”

Pinochet came to power in a US-backed coup on September 11, 1973 that overthrew the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende. His regime murdered, tortured, or exiled hundreds of thousands of Chileans.

Pinochet’s reactionary free-market policies, which devastated working class living standards in Chile, are considered a model for Egypt by US financiers as they push for deeply unpopular cuts to state subsidies to grain and fuel prices. These are critical to keeping bread and transportation affordable for working class families in Egypt.

Former World Bank chief economist for the Middle East Caroline Freund wrote: “The right approach to Egypt’s economic problems would be to force it to bite the bullet now by ending wasteful expenditures, especially fuel subsidies. These cost almost half of government revenue, at a time when Egypt’s budget deficit is more than 10 percent of gross domestic product and growing.”

The Egyptian military regime is aggressively signaling to international finance capital that it will carry out the policies demanded of it. Farouq El-Oqda, a former head of Egypt’s central bank, is now being offered the prime ministership. Adel El-Labban, a former Morgan Stanley banker who is now a leading executive at Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank, is reportedly another candidate for the post. Voice of America noted that businessmen are enthusiastic about the army regime, as “a more technocratic administration” anxious to lure “back some of the investors and money which have fled the country.” It cited Karim Helal, the chairman of investment bank ADI Capital: “I believe that anybody who is asked to join the cabinet won’t hesitate.”

In 2012, Professsor Seralini of the University of Caen in France led a team that carried out research into the health impacts on rats fed GMOs (genetically modified organisms) (1). The two-year long study concluded that rats fed GMOs experienced serious health problems compared to those fed non GM food. Now comes a new major peer-reviewed study that has appeared in another respected journal. This study throws into question the claim often forwarded by the biotech sector that GMO technology increases production and is beneficial to agriculture.

Researchers at the University of Canterbury in the UK have found that the GM strategy used in North American staple crop production is limiting yields and increasing pesticide use compared to non-GM farming in Western Europe. Led by Professor Jack Heinemann, the study’s findings have been published in the June edition of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (2). The research analysed data on agricultural productivity in North America and Western Europe over the last 50 years. 

Heinemann states his team found that the combination of non-GM seed and management practices used by Western Europe is increasing corn yields faster than the use of the GM-led package chosen by the US. The research showed rapeseed (canola) yields increasing faster in Europe without GM than in the GM-led package chosen by Canada. What is more, the study finds that it is decreasing chemical herbicide and achieving even larger declines in insecticide use without sacrificing yield gains, while chemical herbicide use in the US has increased with GM seed.

According to Heinemann, Europe has learned to grow more food per hectare and use fewer chemicals in the process. On the other hand, the US choices in biotechnology are causing it to fall behind Europe in productivity and sustainability.

The Heinemann team’s report notes that incentives in North America are leading to a reliance on GM seeds and management practices that are inferior to those being adopted under the incentive systems in Europe. This is also affecting non GM crops. US yield in non-GM wheat is falling further behind Europe, “demonstrating that American choices in biotechnology penalise both GM and non-GM crop types relative to Europe,” according to Professor Heinemann.

He goes on to state that the decrease in annual variation in yield suggests that Europe has a superior combination of seed and crop management technology and is better suited to withstand weather variations. This is important because annual variations cause price speculations that can drive hundreds of millions of people into food poverty.

The report also highlights some grave concerns about the impact of modern agriculture per se in terms of the general move towards depleted genetic diversity and the consequently potential catastrophic risk to staple food crops. Of the nearly 10,000 wheat varieties in use in China in 1949, only 1,000 remained in the 1970s. In the US, 95 percent of the cabbage, 91 percent of the field maize, 94 percent of the pea and 81 percent of the tomato varieties cultivated in the last century have been lost. GMOs and the control of seeds through patents have restricted farmer choice and prevented seed saving. This has exacerbated this problem.

Heinemann concludes that we need a diversity of practices for growing and making food that GM does not support. We also need systems that are useful, not just profit-making biotechnologies, and which provide a resilient supply to feed the world well.

Despite the evidence, governments capitulate

Given the mounting evidence that questions the efficacy and safety of GMOs (3,4,5,6,7), it raises the issue why certain governments are siding with the biotech sector to allow GMOs to be made available on commercial markets. It is simply not the case that country after country is accepting GMOs on the basis of scientific evidence, as scientists-cum-lobbyists for the GM sector often state (8). If scientific evidence were to be determining factor, few if any countries would have sanctioned GMOs.  

Part of the answer lies in the fact that the powerful US biotech sector continues to forward its agenda that GMOs are a frontier technology that will save humanity from famine and hunger. This is despite evidence that most of the world’s hunger is the product of profiteering industrial chemical agriculture and the global structuring of food production and distribution under the banner of ‘free trade’ and ‘structural adjustment’ (9,10), or as many of us know it brow beating and structural dependency.

Yet, the mantra of GM as the saviour of humanity persists courtesy of the GM sector’s puppet politicians and regulatory bodies (11). The US is pushing for lop-sided bilateral trade agreements with other countries not only to generally tie economies into US economic hegemony in an attempt to boost its ailing economy and flagging currency, but more specifically to get nations to ‘accept’ GMOs. Through behind-closed-door deals (12,13) coercion (14) or the hijack of regulatory bodies (15), there has been some success, and many think it could be just a matter of time before other countries, not least India, capitulate to allow GM food crops onto the commercial market.

In fact, regardless of any legal statute, it may be and probably is already happening in India, not least via contamination (16). However, if contamination by means of illegal planting and open field ‘testing’ fails to get GMOs on to the commercial market via the back door, the GM sector is attempting to cover all angles. Immediately after a moratorium on BT Brinjal was announced in 2010, a Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill suddenly emerged. The BRAI Bill could not be passed in 2010 and 2011 because of objections, but it has surfaced again as a 2013 Bill. Environmentalist Vandana Shiva argues that it not so much constitutes a Biotechnology Regulation Act, but a Biotechnology Deregulation Act, designed to dismantle the existing bio-safety regulation and give the green-light to the GM sector to press ahead with its agenda in the country.

By highlighting the GM sector interests behind the proposed legislation, Shiva says that the goal is to give the sector’s corporations immunity by freeing them of courts and democratic control under India’s federal structure. For those who follow such developments in India, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to appreciate that the future of Indian agriculture is in the wrong hands. Certain key scientists and top politicians have already been ideologically (or otherwise) ‘bought and paid for’ by proponents of the ‘Green Revolution’ and more recently the GM sector (7).

On a global level, with reports of wheat (17), rice (18) and maize (19) having been widely contaminated with GMOs, there seems to be a conscious ploy to contaminate so much of the world’s crops so that eventually GMOs take over regardless and render the pro/anti GM debate almost academic (20).

It seems that secretive trade deals, the hijack of official bodies designed to ensure the ‘public interest’ and bullying or intimidation are not enough. Contamination strategies are but one more way of achieving through closed and non-transparent methods what could not be possible by transparent and democratic means – simply because hundreds of millions of people do not want GMOs.

A generation down the line (or much sooner), will we looking at the health and environmental consequences of GMOs in the same way we now regard the impacts of the original ‘Green Revolution’?

“There are very good reasons why we have never introduced a Green Revolution into Africa, namely because there is broad consensus that the Green Revolution in India has been a failure, with Indian farmers in debt, bound to paying high costs for seed and pesticides, committing suicide at much higher rates, and resulting in a depleted water table and a poisoned environment, and by extension, higher rates of cancer.” Paula Crossfield, food policy writer/activist (21).

We don’t have to take Paula Crossfield’s word for it, though. Punjab was the ‘Green Revolution’s’ original poster boy, but is fast becoming transformed from a food bowl to a cancer epicenter and now reels under an agrarian crisis marked by discontent, debt, water shortages, contaminated water, diseased soils and pest infested cops (22,23,24).

In the meantime, big ‘ag’ in collusion with big pharma will continue to control our food and define our healthcare by pushing their highly profitable ‘miracle solutions’ for the health and environmental problems which they conspired to create in the first place. It is all part of the wider corporate-elite agenda to colonise and control every facet of human existence.  

Notes

1) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637

2) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14735903.2013.806408#tabModule

3) http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/new-study-confirms-wheat-autism-link-0

4) http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/it-time-acknowledge-roundup-herbicide-contraceptive

5) http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers

6) http://vidarbhatimes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/maharashtra-reports-btcotton-failure-in.html?m=1

7) ) http://www.globalresearch.ca/india-genetically-modified-seeds-agricultural-productivity-and-political-fraud/5328227

8) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/311963/ban-gm-crops-imperil-indian.html

9) http://www.globalresearch.ca/our-hunger-games/5302603

10) http://cchronicle.com/2010/10/focus-on-hunger-interview-with-vandana-shiva/

11) http://rense.com/general33/fd.htm

12) http://www.global-sisterhood-network.org/content/view/799/76/

13) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-free-trade-agreement-a-corporate-stitch-up-by-any-other-name/5339789

14) http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/20/us-retaliation-list-gm-crops-cablegate/

15) http://www.globalresearch.ca/stench-of-eu-corruption-in-monsanto-gmo-whitewash/5316294

16) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-death-of-rice-in-india/9562

17) http://rt.com/news/monsanto-wheat-japan-exports-026/

18) http://www.gmcontaminationregister.org/index.php?content=nw_detail2

19) http://www.scidev.net/global/gm/news/mexico-confirms-gm-maize-contamination.html

20) http://www.nwrage.org/content/2005-was-very-good-year-biotech-food-industry

21) http://civileats.com/2009/07/10/g8-promises-15-billion-in-agricultural-aid/

22) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/309654/punjab-transformation-food-bowl-cancer.html

23) http://sagarmediainc.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/punjab-indias-grain-bowl-now-reels-under-agrarian/

24) http://www.amazon.com/The-Violence-Green-Revolution-Agriculture/dp/0862329655

A long-held desire of the technocratic worldview involves manipulation and control of a national and even international body politic. “This planetary consciousness,” Zbigniew Brzezinski observes, brings into closer view a single indivisible humanity united by the soft tyranny of depersonalized and omnipresent coercion. “The sense of proximity, the immediacy of suffering,” he wrote at the height of the Cold War, “the globally destructive character of modern weapons all help to stimulate an outlook that views mankind as a community.”[1]

In the perceived absence of such a powerful monolithic threat, mass-mediated tragedy and terror increasingly fulfill a similarly unifying purpose and means to conjure and augment broader political projects.

More so than ever the population witnesses major catastrophic events such as the recent mass shootings in Tucson Arizona, Aurora Colorado, and Newtown Connecticut, and the Boston Marathon bombing through the two-dimensional (audio-visual) lens of major news outlets and social media platforms. A less-examined aspect of this development is how United States law enforcement and intelligence agencies operating under the Department of Homeland Security utilize such media to create and promote news of designer tragedies capable of generating a potent emotional response from the citizenry.

Moreover, the vicariously imagined trauma of such events provides a window of public acquiescence wherein government officials may shape popular sentiment and introduce restrictive legislative programs (stricter gun control in the case of Tucson, Aurora and Newtown) or forthright militarized oppression (the rescinding of posse comitatus and Fourth Amendment protections in the case of the Boston Marathon Bombing) that under normal circumstances would be rejected by the citizenry.

In addition to providing the basis for introducing unpopular policies and practices, mediated spectacles and a digitally interconnected population allow for the precise measurement of public sentiment and reaction to such crises, thereby producing information that is essential for the police state’s continued roll out and effective operation. As social scientist Armand Mattelart argues, such interconnectivity brings to fruition the long held ambition among modern social engineers to regiment the population–a pursuit that can be traced at least to the crude practices of phrenology and anthropometry.[2]

In this vein, the government’s manufacture of tragedy or terror to manipulate the mass mind is hardly a new phenomenon. For example, Operation Gladio sought to control Europe’s political landscape throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and the military and intelligence entities behind it targeted the civilian population with mass shootings and bombings to further their vision. Such projects arguably laid the groundwork for Western governments’ more recent operations including 9/11 and the London 7/7/2005 bombings used to propel the “war on terror.”[3]

With a broadly credulous public increasingly bound to the system of digital networked communication and the 24-hour corporate-driven news cycle, conveying the impression of catastrophe and terror is easily achieved. Indeed, the development and fine tuning of a uniquely-conceived apparatus in this regard has been underway for decades in the US, having come into more formal public view over the past several years.

Digital Emergency Alert System

In 2006 President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13047,[4] mandating the DHS to develop a new national emergency alert system for the digital era that would further streamline an already centralized communication network. This new framework encompasses traditional broadcast communication with newer cellular transmission and web-based platforms. The system’s design was delegated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency which in 2011 announced the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAzRjEeqKhI

In times of crisis IPAWS “provides public safety officials with an effective way to alert and warn the public about serious emergencies using the Emergency Alert System, Wireless Emergency Alerts, NOAA Weather Radio, and other public alerting systems from a single interface,” the FEMA explains. The new infrastructure “embodies a modernization and integration of the nation’s alert and warning infrastructure and will save time when time matters most, protecting life and property.”[5]

IPAWS was introduced alongside the deployment of a digital transmission architecture that was largely the initiative of the US public broadcasting industry. Indeed, behind the relentless move toward digital broadcast was an intricate and far-reaching apparatus under which the body politic may be united in temperament and purpose through crisis and catastrophe, and where a hierarchized network of information dissemination among officials and major media has made possible designer events that are perceived as real by the broader public at the lower reaches of this communicative pyramid.

In contrast to its analog forebear the digital transmission framework possesses the “dual use opportunity” envisioned by the Bush administration in 2006. John Lawson, President of the Association of Public Television Stations oversaw the $1.1 billion fundraising campaign undertaken by public broadcasting outlets for the transition to digital. His observations are especially revealing in terms of recognizing the system’s capacities and scope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2WYmSmXcPs

Our infrastructure is becoming the backbone of a network of networks that can deliver instant warnings to people wherever they are or whatever they’re doing. Initially this will be a government to government and government to media system. [author’s emphasis] Eventually it will be a warning system for all hazards that can reach practically all devices. You can receive some form of alert on your cell phone or your Blackberry at your kid’s soccer match, or while you’re listening to satellite or broadcast radio, or surfing the net, or watching any of the 500 channels on TV. You’ll be able to receive al—some [sic] form of emergency message almost simultaneously.

…We can send data packets—it’s called data casting. This system, because it’s broadcast, is completely bottleneck-free. It’s totally scalable. It avoids the congestion we saw here and in New York on 9/11 with phone calls and cell phone calls. It can reach a million receivers just as easily as it can reach one receiver, no matter what you’re doing …

Here’s the other point about Digital EAS [Emergency Alert System] and it speaks to the interoperability that the White House has embraced. In the pilot project these packets, these data files, these messages that originated from DHS, were sent out over the air by WETA. They were received by other networks–  cellphone companies, pager companies, other broadcasters, cable companies—and retransmitted simultaneously.

Once it’s all packets you can do that—you can move this content around seamlessly. Testing that concept was one of the key goals of the DEAS project. And we established here in the national capital region proof of performance that the concept worked. We had numerous partners in the test in the commercial and television and radio industries, and we plainly established an interoperability was possible which in turn supported one of the key components of the President’s Executive Order. [author’s emphasis]

Lawson’s overview of the DEAS suggest how such a system, used in conjunction with FEMA’s IPAWS, provides the basis for a multifaceted real time orchestration of a mass casualty event that includes careful synchronization with major news media.  Indeed, as discussed further below, National Public Radio is among the IPAWS nework’s 22 “dissemination groups” that includes an array of electronic broadcast outlets and consortia. [6]

As a principal element of its “interoperability” IPAWS uses a Common Alerting Protocol—”a digital format for exchanging emergency alerts that allows a consistent alert message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different communications systems.”[7] This may be used in conjunction with the Geo-Targeted Alert System, another component of IPAWS that can issue alerts and warnings targeted to specific geographic areas. Alongside “Smart 911” and “Reverse 911” technologies capable respectively of profiling individuals and distributing emergency and crisis information to networks of first responders, media outlets, hospitals, and the broader public on a “need to know” basis, the IPAWS system is an all-inclusive network for orchestrating and broadly publicizing staged or authentic crisis events.

Notes

[1] Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, New York: Viking, 1970, 59, 60.

[2] Armand Mattelart, The Globalization of Surveillance: The Origin of the Securitarian Order, trans. by Susan Gruenheck Taponier and James A. Cohen, Cambridge: Polity, 2010.

[3] With regard to gun control specifically, the poorly investigated and dubious circumstance surrounding the Dunblane Scotland school massacre and Port Arthur Australia mass shooting—both occurring in the spring of 1996—suggest events that were intended to prompt sufficient public sentiment and calls to further restrict gun ownership.

[4] US President George W. Bush Executive Order 13407: Public Alert and Warning System (PDF), June 26, 2006.

[5] “Integrated Public Alert and Warning System,” Federal Emergency Management Agency, fema.gov, lasted updated June 13, 2013.

[6] “IPAWS Partner Organizations” (PDF), FEMA.gov, n.d.

[7] “Common Alerting Protocol,” FEMA.gov, last updated June 18, 2012.

Graphene, An Advanced Strategic High Tech Material

July 6th, 2013 by Global Research News

Special Report by Outsiderclub.com

You might’ve seen graphene in the news lately because of the incredible advances it’s bringing about in the medical field, the energy sector, defense, and so on.

And here’s why: It’s 200 times stronger than steel, thinner than a sheet of paper, and more conductive than copper.

Researchers at the UK’s University of Manchester note it’s “almost one million times thinner than a human hair.”

“It is not only the thinnest material in the world,” says the New York Times, “but also the strongest: a sheet of it stretched over a coffee cup could support the weight of a truck bearing down on a pencil point.”

Bloomberg adds: ”Lighter than a feather, stronger than steel, a superior electrical conductor to copper: According to its champions, graphene could unlock a new era of super energy-efficient gadgets, cheap quick-charge batteries, wafer-thin flexible touchscreen computing, and a sturdier light-weight automobile chassis.”

Bottom line: Graphene has the potential to completely revolutionize entire industries, creating bendable phones and touch screens… tiny self-powered oil and gas sensors… even synthetic blood that can be used in any person on the planet.

Incredible, isn’t it?

And because of its possible future applications in technology, it has been generating significant buzz among scientists worldwide since its discovery.

Strategic metal experts are already calling graphene the “… most important substance created since synthetic plastic a century ago!”

It’s no wonder the two Russian scientists who discovered it were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics — as well as knighthoods.

“Graphene doesn’t just have one application,” says Andre Geim, the Russian scientist who made the find along with Konstantin Novoselov.

“It is not even one material. It is a huge range of materials. A good comparison would be to how plastics are used.”

I’d say plastics is a conservative comparison. Graphene has far more high-tech uses than plastic — and is poised to be much more lucrative…

Scientists are hailing it as a miracle cure for industries ranging from fiber optic data transmission to nuclear energy to lithium-ion batteries.

Since graphene has a high strength-to-weight ratio, it’s the perfect material for use in automobiles, rockets, boats, turbine blades, airplanes, and more.

Take a look at what hundreds of researchers, companies, and governments are already doing with the strongest, thinnest, most conductive material ever discovered…

Engineers at Northwestern University have a made a graphene electrode that allows lithium-ion batteries to store 10 times as much power and charge 10 times faster.

MIT Engineering Professor Jeffrey Grossman believes solar cells made from graphene could produce 10,000 times more energy from a given amount of carbon than fossil fuels.

University of Manchester researchers have created a device that “could help detect the presence of drugs or toxins in the body or dramatically improve airport security.”

According to the Daily Mail: “A graphene credit card could store as much information as today’s computers,” and that “will lead to gadgets that make the iPhone and Kindle seem like toys from the age of steam trains.”

The BBC says: “It could spell the end for silicon and change the future of computers and other devices forever.”

Amazingly, the Israeli Army is even using the material to make invisible missiles.

Fact is graphene makes:

Solar – 50x-100x more efficient

  • Semiconductors – 50x-100x faster
  • Aircraft – 70% lighter

The applications for this “wonder material” appear endless.

This Super Material “Will Change the World.” — Huffington Post

I’m extremely bullish on graphene’s future prospects, and so is one of the men who discovered it, Nobel recipient Konstantin Novoselov:

“I don’t think it has been over-hyped… It has attracted a lot of attention because it is so simple — it is the thinnest possible matter — and yet it has so many unique properties. There are hundreds of properties which are unique or superior to other materials. Because it is only one atom thick it is quite transparent — not many materials that can conduct electricity are transparent.”

And speaking of transparent, scientists at the University of Texas, Dallas have made a graphene invisibility cloak by heating up a sheet of the material with electrical stimulation.

Again, this isn’t science fiction. This is happening right now.

Novoselov says, “It’s a big claim, but it’s not bold. That’s exactly why there are so many researchers working on it.”

So many, indeed: Over 200 companies are pursuing graphene opportunities, and it’s been the subject of thousands of peer-reviewed research papers.

Just recently, Bloomberg reported: “University-led research projects to investigate graphene won $1.35 billion in European Union funding.”

That’s a true testament of faith in this “wonder material.”

“Analysts say the first graphene-intensive products should come to market within 18 months,” says Businessweek, “with IBM, Samsung, and Nokia among those racing to be first.”

And now the global race is on — with a huge increase in patents filed to claim rights over different aspects of graphene…

The BBC reports: “A surge in research into the novel material graphene reveals an intensifying global contest to lead a potential industrial revolution.”

Graphite’s “Rare Earth” Situation

Yet only a few companies around the world have access to mineral graphite, which is the resource required to make graphene…

And up to this point, China has had a tight grip on the worldwide graphite supply, controlling over 70% of it.

ea-graphite-piechart

Like it did with rare earths, China is limiting graphite exports with quotas — imposing a 20% export tariff and a 17% value added tax (VAT), causing graphite prices to rise. What’s more, due to environmental concerns, China has just ordered restrictions on any further graphite mines in two of its largest graphite producing regions.

All this has set the stage for non-Chinese based production of graphite to explode in a big way…

Leaving the door wide open for graphite mining operations in other parts of the globe — like our massive Alaskan discovery — as most of the world’s major economies perceive the mineral as being necessary for technological and industrial progression.

“China has a stranglehold on natural graphite supply,” says Simon Moores of Industrial Minerals. “This, together with a generation of under-investment in mines around the world, is creating a very tight supply situation.”

Already, Future Markets, Inc. reports a 4,000% increase in demand for graphene-based materials…

Which could send graphite prices soaring as demand for this mineral starts outpacing supply next year.

ea-graphite-chart1

That’s why graphite has been named a “supply critical mineral” and a “strategic mineral” by the United States and the European Union.

Starting next year, the world will demand more graphite than is available…

And the supply/demand imbalance will only be worsened as these new sources of demand from graphene applications come online.

It’s no wonder prices have more than doubled since 2006, from $700 to $1,500 per tonne.

And that’s where our play on Northern Graphite Corp. (TSX-V: NGC) or (PK: NGPHF) comes in… We’re buying it below $1.00.

Background

We’ve all seen what the commodity supercycle has done to copper, gold, and many other resources.

Copper traded between $0.50 and $1.00 per pound for decades. And then, because of the commodity supercycle, it went over $4.00.

Same with gold. It used to sell for between $250 and $500 per ounce. Now it’s $1,600 per ounce.

That isn’t inflation. That’s the commodity supercycle.

Many things have caused this change, the big one being China, with India soon to follow.

And in the mining industry, the deposits we’ve lived off for years have been the big, low-cost, easy-to-find mines. Just like with oil.

But those mines are all getting deeper and older, so costs are increasing. Engineering and environmental standards have gone up and there’s been capital and cost inflation.

So gold can’t go back to $400 per ounce. And copper can’t go back to $1.00 per pound.

Graphite has been one of the last minerals to respond to this commodity supercycle. And the reason for that is there was excess production capacity from China. From 1990 until 2005, prices were in the tank.

Then, gradually, the growth in automobile and steel demand began to eat up that spare capacity and prices began to rise, and they steadily grew through 2008. But valuations of companies and deposits were slow to catch up.

When Northern Graphite got going in 2008, it only had a market cap of $2 million. Today, it’s valued around $50 million, but that’s still tiny compared to the +$1 billion resource it has in the ground.

CEO Greg Bowes was smart enough to see the commodity supercycle was slowly taking hold in the graphite industry. He knew the same thing that’s happened to copper, nickel, gold, wheat, and corn… would soon happen to graphite.

And it wasn’t on anyone’s radar yet.

He was correct. And graphite is starting to take off globally as the new hot commodity.

Graphite Prices

The price of graphite is up sharply in recent years thanks to a number of factors.

For starters, graphite is kind of in a “rare earth” type situation because 70% of supply is controlled by China. Industrialization in that country, as well as in India and other emerging markets, have led to increased demand for graphite in its traditional use as an additive to steel.

The 30% of supply that comes from outside of China is typically used in full by the country where it’s mined. There are only three graphite mines in North America.

So take a look at what all those various market factors have done to graphite prices in the last five years:

 

Graphite Price Chart 2013

 

Why Northern Graphite?

 

Northern Graphite’s Bissett Creek mine is the closest to production of any public North American company. There is a 98 million tonne resource with 1.69 million tonnes of indicated graphite.

 

Graphite is different than copper or gold – where my copper is the same as your copper or your gold is the same as my gold.

With industrial minerals you have to look also at the physical and chemical properties of the product.

With graphite, the two main things to look for are flake size and carbon content. For flake size, larger is better, and you get a higher price for it. Graphite is pure carbon – the more impurities, the lower the price.

For example: If you produce a large flake concentrate that’s 90% carbon, you’re going to get, for example $1,400/tonne.

If you produce a large flake concentrate that’s 95% carbon – which doesn’t sound like a big difference – you’ll get double the price, about $2,800. You can see the large flake Northern Graphite has in this picture I took when I toured the property:

Large Flake Graphite

 

So when you look at a graphite mine, the first thing everybody focuses on right away is grade. And if you look at Northern Graphite, its grade is between 2% and 2.5%. There are graphite deposits in the world that are 10% to 15% – a significantly higher grade – but you have to look at what the mix of flake size and carbon content is, and the products it can produce.

Generally, the amount of large flake remains fixed and small, and if you have a higher grade it tends to be smaller, finer, and less valuable graphite that makes up the larger percentage.

For example, Focus Metals, a competitor, has a mine with a grade of 15%, but only 20% of that is large flake, 20% is medium flake, and 60% is powder, which is a low-value product.

Northern Graphite has a grade between 2 and 2.5%, but it’s nearly 100% flake. And 80%-90% of that is large flake. And much of it is nearly 98% carbon. A January 2012 pilot plant study proved how much large flake is there and that it contained over 97% carbon. I held some flake in my hand while i was there:

Nick with Large Flake Graphite

So the grade is lower, but the final product is much more valuable. In fact, Northern’s flake is so large, there aren’t really existing prices for it. It’s assumed they’d be somewhere near $3,000/tonne.

Using the conservative 80% figure, the company is looking at a 1.35 million tonnes of large flake, high carbon graphite. (1.69 million tonnes x .80).

Multiply that by a conservative $2,500/tonne (prices are only expected to rise), and you get a $3.37 billion resource. There will be costs for sure, including permitting, building the mine, extraction, consulting, etc.

But when an $0.89 company with a $33.4 million market cap is sitting on a $3.37 billion resource, I think the stock implications are clear.

The Mine

For this section, I’d like to turn to the thorough analyses done by Union Securities, Byron Capital Markets, and Mackie Research Capital.

From Union: The Bissett Creek project is located 100km east of North Bay, Ontario, and is easily accessible by a 17km gravel road from the Trans-Canada highway. The project area currently consists of 18 mineral claims and one mining lease, covering a total of 2,990 hectares. Northern Graphite has 100% interest in the Bissett Creek property with royalties of $20.00/t of concentrate on net sales.

From Byron: The Bissett Creek deposit is just 70 km east of Mattawa, Ontario. It is accessible by 17 km of well-maintained logging roads to the site, and the road is an easy turn off from Highway 17. The deposit is close enough to towns that the company does not have to construct a camp for its workforce. A natural gas pipeline and electric power also run along Highway 17, which Northern Graphite can tap into to run its operations. The location is an enviable one, as the company is costing three power scenarios to determine the most economic: 1) connect to the nearby natural gas pipeline; 2) connect to the closest substation; or 3) construct a new substation closer to the property. Low capital costs due to the deposit’s proximity to infrastructure will shorten the payback for the company and enhance shareholder value.

The resource is sufficient for over 35 years of production at 20,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) using a 1.5% graphitic carbon cut-off grade. The deposit is associated with larger flake material with all material expected, after processing, to remain at greater than 100 mesh size while being over 94% carbon concentrate.

From Mackie: A total resource amounting to 14.7 million tonnes of indicated resources was identified and 18 million tonnes of inferred resources, at a cut-off of 1.5%. The technical report also concluded a base-case IRR of 24% at an extremely low, outdated price for large flake graphite of $1,700/tonne. Since publication of the technical report, comparable large flake prices have nearly doubled.

We calculate that these identified resources should be adequate to allow for a mine life of 20 years at an approximate graphite production rate of 40,000 tonnes per year. A PEA has been completed by SGS that contemplated an operation producing 20,000 tonnes of graphite per year for 20 years. However, NGC plans on doubling the production rate in the first few years of operating to produce at this 40,000 tonne per year rate.

 The Plan

A pilot plant test has been done and the results are in. A report in January 2012 showed:

The pilot plant has confirmed the technical viability and operating performance of the Company’s process plant design for the production of high purity, large flake graphite. Furthermore, results indicate that 50% of the graphite concentrate produced will be jumbo size, +48 mesh flake with a very high carbon content averaging 97.7% graphitic carbon (“Cg”). This is an exceptional product that will attract a premium price. The pilot plant test was designed, built and operated by SGS Minerals Services (“SGS”) in Lakefield, Ontario.

According to CEO Greg Bowes, “The pilot plant results have confirmed that the Bissett Creek deposit will produce entirely large flake, high carbon concentrates from flotation alone, without chemical or thermal treatment. As a result, we believe that Bissett Creek concentrates will have the highest average value per tonne in the industry and that this will also result in the highest margin in the industry. We will have the option of selling them into current high value markets, or using them to produce spherical graphite for Li ion batteries if it is financially advantageous to do so. Based on our review of publicly available information, it appears that over 50% of the production from most other graphite deposits will be very fine, -150 mesh lower carbon material, and it is generally not suitable for Li ion batteries or other high growth markets.”

A mine closure permit is expected in 2013, as well as an upgraded resource estimate that will make the project even more economic.

Production is expected in 2014.

Conclusion and Recommendation

From Mackie: We value Northern Graphite with a 12-month target price of $2.10 based on a 20-year DCF. Over 34 million indicated and inferred tonnes have been identified at the project to date. Based on our calculations, this is an adequate resource number for 20 years of production with a 2-year ramp-up period, whereby the peak production rate of approximately 5,000 tpd is achieved in 2016. A base-case 12% discount rate has been assumed to account for the pre-production, pre-bankable feasibility study stage of the project. As the project reaches milestones to bring it closer to production, it is likely that we would reduce the discount rate to account for decreased risk. NGC is currently conducting engineering and investigative work on the construction of a plant that would produce anode material for the lithium-ion battery market. The timeline for a construction decision is not expected until early in 2012, and although details on this prospect are scant, high-level cash-flow modeling indicates that this venture has the potential to deliver value many times over that of NGC’s current stock price. We do not currently include the Anode Plant in our valuation. However, we note that this project has the potential to increase our target price by approximately $1.00/share.

We view Northern Graphite Corporation as a very unique resource development opportunity within the Strategic Metals sector. We initiate coverage on Northern Graphite Corporation with a SPECULATIVE BUY recommendation and a 12- month target price of $2.10, based on our DCF calculation.

From Byron: We estimate that the capital costs to build the mine will be $70 million with half of the capital costs being financed with debt at 10% for a duration of 10 years with the remaining $35 million through raised equity. Production will begin in 2013 at a rate of 19,000 tpa of graphite, with 70% sold at +48 mesh size at an average price of $2,200/tonne while the -48+100 mesh size graphite would be the remaining 30% being sold at $1,800/tonne graphite. On the cost side, we have taken operating costs to approximately $1,100/tonne graphite produced. This takes into consideration the simple flow sheet of mine, crush, grind, float and re-float while achieving 95% yield, which is in- line with previous metallurgical work and should be confirmed again in September 2011. Additionally, we have taken into consideration the $20/tonne royalty on graphite produced. Given our expectation that graphite demand growth will continue, especially for larger flake graphite used in Li-ion batteries, and Northern Graphite’s ability to scale up the project, we expect the company to double production in 2016 to meet that surging demand, mainly from the automotive sector. We have used conservative pricing for Northern Graphite’s large flake 94% carbon content material. Thus, less conservative graphite pricing can dramatically increase the value of the project.

Northern Graphite is a late stage graphite mine developer that should have a producing mine by selling high-value graphite flakes in 2013 into the growing lithium-ion battery market. The company has begun the permitting process and given that the project flow sheet is simplistic and infrastructure is nearby, construction time should be about one year. We believe Bissett Creek’s deposit size will also allow for Northern Graphite to more than double its production while maintaining over 20 years of resource.

Graphite prices have exploded over the past year, as China dominates the market with over 70% of market share and imposing a 20% export duty and a 17% value added tax on its graphite. Northern Graphite’s ability to come to market quickly and cheaply will allow the company to take advantage of the situation as well as continue to deliver continued news flow to the investor.

With known metallurgy, infrastructure in place, a relatively low capex and a short time to production, risk is minimized for the Bissett Creek project that is expected to have $19.5 million per year in gross profit in 2013, with the potential to generate $39 million in gross profit by doubling production to meet demand from growing battery production. We are initiating coverage on Northern Graphite with a speculative buy rating and $1.90 target price based on 1.0x NAV using a 14% discount rate.

From Union: We have assumed that Northern Graphite will have the required permits in hand and begin construction in early 2012 with production commencement in Q1 2013. Similar to the current PEA, we have assumed the mill will have a nameplate capacity of 2,500tpd. Based on our start-up schedule and reserve assumptions, we have modeled a 30-year mine life for Bissett Creek. Given the higher grade of targeted initial pit upon commencement, the grade will be greater in the mine’s early years. However, at this time we have assumed that the head grade at Bissett Creek will be an average grade of 2.24% graphitic carbon throughout the project’s mine life.

We estimate that Northern Graphite’s NAV is $2.62 per share. We are initiating coverage on Northern Graphite Corp. with a $2.00 target price and a Strong Buy recommendation. Our target price is based on a 0.8x multiple of our Net Asset Value estimate for the company. Despite Northern Graphite’s strong management team, and positive fundamentals of the graphite market, we believe that the target multiple is justified given the stage of development of Bissett Creek. We believe that the Company has the required technical and managerial capacities to meet its permitting and construction goals, and will ultimately succeed in bringing Bissett Creek into production. As Northern Graphite demonstrates this in the short and medium term, this will be reflected in the target price going forward.

Outsider Club, Copyright © 2013, Angel Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.

“Syria still home for all. What is taking place in Egypt is the fall of so-called Political Islam”

President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Syrian al-Thawra daily.  The following is the full text of the speech.

Interviewer: During this difficult time of crisis, it has often been said that Syria can accommodate everyone, but in reality it has not embraced all of its citizens. What has led us to this point?

President al-Assad: First of all, I would like to welcome you in my office. I am particularly pleased that this interview coincides with the 50th anniversary of Al-Thawra newspaper. This is a momentous occasion for every patriotic Syrian irrespective of their political affiliation.

We often view nations as a group of people occupying a certain territory; whereas in fact a nation is about a sense of belonging and of culture which both ultimately form a collective identity. With a strong sense of belonging, we can ensure a united country that includes everyone. When the colonial powers left Syria, it was not to liberate the country but to reoccupy it through other means.

One of their core strategies was to divide and conquer. By division, I do not mean redrawing national borders but rather fragmentation of identity, which is far more dangerous.

When we live in the same territory but have different identities, we are already a divided country because each group isolates itself from the rest. When this happens, it is right to say that the country does not accommodate everyone.

In this context colonialism has been successful in creating separatist groups that consider their ideologies and values as solely and legitimately representing the country and hence rejecting all other groups. This success has not happened overnight, but rather during several stages.

The first of which was the Omayyad dynasty, where identities were tampered with, chasms created and many common elements destroyed resulting in fragmentation and ultimately the collapse of the Omayyad State. The same also applies for the Abbasid caliphate in ancient history and the fall of Palestine in modern history.

The rifts we have witnessed in modern history have come with the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the negative role they have played after the independence of many Arab countries like Syria. They created the first split between Pan-Arabism and Islam, working hard to form a country for Islamists and another for nationalists. These attempts continued when colonist powers in Lebanon attempted to create a country for Muslims and another for Christians. The implications of the Muslim Brotherhood have transpired, the most dangerous of which is the presence of Al Qaeda which was generously supported by the West on the back of the Islamic revolution in Iran. After this revolution, Iran emerged as a firm supporter of the Palestinian cause, the essence of Arab identity. They attempted to incite sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites and to damage the relationship between Arabs and Persians. After the 9/11 events and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, these rifts were extended between the takfiris and all other Muslim sects.

The more schism in a country, the less it is able to accommodate its entire people. On the contrary, Syria is still accommodating to all Syrians due to people’s ability to grasp these realities and reject this strife hence preventing it from materializing. Syria remains for all Syrians as long as we can prevent these pockets of extremisms from spreading.

Interviewer: Mr President today is the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of Al-Thawra Newspaper. You first stated that what is happening in Syria is not a revolution; certainly you had a conceptual foundation behind these statements. Here let me reference the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, during his first meeting with the opposition delegation in Moscow when they introduced themselves as revolutionaries; he asked them, “If you are revolutionaries representing a revolution, why do you need the outside world?” There is a historical saying: no state in the world can endure a popular revolution. I personally entirely subscribe to this theory. What made you say that it was not a revolution from the inception?

President al-Assad: From a historical perspective, any genuine revolution is purely internal and cannot be linked externally by any means, as manifested by the Russian, French and even the Iranian revolutions. Real revolutions are intrinsic, spontaneous, and are led by intellectual and ideological elites. What occurred in Syria since the outset of the crisis was flagrant external interference. There were attempts to hide this, but it has become absolutely clear. This is evident by the fact that we continuously hear external extrinsic statements regarding what should and should not be done in Syria.

Secondly, the real revolution of 1963 – which your newspaper is named after – was a revolution that empowered the country, society and human values. It promoted science and knowledge by building thousands of schools, it brought light to the Urban and rural areas of Syria by building electricity lines and networks, it strengthened the economy by providing job opportunities according to competencies. It supported the wider foundations of society including farmers, labourers and skilled-workers. The revolution at the time built an army indoctrinated in national values that fought the fiercest of battles, it stood unwavering in those difficult circumstances and it won in the 1973 war. We are now perhaps enduring the most challenging circumstances in which the army has shown that its revolutionary foundations and ideological values are as strong as ever.

Revolutions are about building countries and societies, not about destroying them; so how can we call what is happening in Syria a revolution? Attempts to package the events on the ground as a part of a revolution have been futile from the beginning.

Interviewer: Mr President, do you not believe that there were some in the country, even a small minority, who believed in the idea of the revolution, and hence contributed to it and embraced it in the beginning?

President al-Assad: Exactly, and this leads us back to the question of identity. What you are depicting happened for one of two reasons, both of which bear extremism. Either because there are some who completely abandoned their identity and embraced a “Western Dream” even with all its flaws or there are those who went in exactly the opposite direction and abandoned their identity and embraced religious extremism, which is inherently more dangerous and potent. Both trends are inflammatory. Without a doubt there are numerous aspects of western civilization and advancements that we should benefit from, but to be dazzled by the West and to drop our own identity, this would just be another category of extremism.

Our original Arab identity represents the amalgamation of civilizations of thousands of years and is hence built on moderation in all aspects: social, cultural, political and religious. When this identity is being torn in any of the two directions I mentioned, the result will be these foci of extremism you mentioned. This is my greatest concern; extremism in following the West is as destructive to our identity as religious extremism and they both lead to turbulence, which is what we are witnessing in Syria and other countries. This is not exclusive to Syria, but perhaps the element of external interference in Syria was stronger than in other countries.

Interviewer: Nonetheless Mr President, do you agree that the concepts and forms of revolutions have changed significantly from previous examples such as the Russian or French Revolution? Is it not possible to consider what is happening in Syria a revolution according to different concepts? Is it necessary for all revolutions in history to follow the same methods and paths?

President al-Assad: Everything in the world changes however, there are fundamental human principles that should remain constant. Religions do not change, although they deal with change. Principles do not change, however mechanisms need to be adjusted to keep up with time.

If for the sake of argument we are to accept the notion that the concept of revolutions change, which would then make what is happening in Syria a revolution, we should then accept that the Israeli acts against Palestinians constitute an Israeli revolution against Palestinian oppression, or that the American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was a revolution. To accept the fact that conditions and circumstances are perpetuated or altered should not mean that principles are fundamentally undermined.

The West and all its propaganda have always attempted to realign the facts upside down to serve their agenda. Rights become wrongs and wrongs become rights that then legitimize their political practices. If they do that, it doesn’t mean that we should sleepwalk with them.

Interviewer: Despite this, Mr President, some outside Syria and even inside Syria have called it – and still do – a revolution. This is a real controversy that needs clarification.

President al-Assad: To correct your question, even the western media and statements by western officials hostile to Syria could not ignore that it was not a revolution. The term “revolution’s is no longer used. They have now shifted towards discussing terrorism, adopting the American notion of differentiating between ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists.’ So if those hostile to Syria have been able to see that this is not a revolution, it is only natural that most Syrians would be able to see this too.

There are of course those who refuse to see the reality because it serves their own agendas. Some embrace the same doctrines as the terrorists – the takfiri extremist ideology, so it is expected that they would believe this to be a revolution. There are others who suffer from ignorance and lack of judgement, who see through their eyes yet have a mental blackout. These groups bear little significance and are gradually shrinking. In any case, we are not significantly concerned by external factors because the events are more relevant to those inside who directly influence the events. The Syrian people are the ones fighting this battle and they are the ones persevering.

Interviewer: With regards to the external factors, it is well known that there are foreign fighters in Syria, possibly up to tens of thousands according to Western estimates. Mr President, why has Syria turned into a land for Jihad, and how has that transpired in such a short period of time?

President al-Assad: Syria has not turned into a land for Jihad. Jihad usually denotes benevolence; it is about construction, development, defending the country and the messages advocated in religion relating to virtuousness, justice and equality. What is happening in Syria is the complete opposite to the concept of jihad; Syria has turned into a land for terrorism.

This is due to several reasons. Chaos is a fertile environment for terrorism to breed. When the state was weakened in Afghanistan, terrorism flourished. The same happened in Iraq after the invasion. As they attempted to weaken Syria, the ensuing chaos transformed into terrorism.

Additionally, there are countries supporting terrorism in Syria in order to erode its historic characteristics of strength and immunity. These characteristics have always been evident in the international arena through our stances and nationally through our culture and intellectual thought. This attempted erosion is targeting our national unity, our infrastructure, our economy and the services that the state has always provided. Those who are hostile to Syria would happily watch its destruction, even in the long run. Another reason for western countries to support terrorism in Syria is their belief that these terrorist groups, which have been a security threat to them for decades, can be killed in Syria, hence shifting the battleground away from their own countries and destroying Syria in the process.

Interviewer: However, Mr President, not all those fighting in Syria are foreign fighters. We have seen a Syrian eating the heart of another Syrian. What has driven us to this phase?

President al-Assad: Often when discussing the Syrian crisis, I start by defining it as a crisis of morals, before discussing extremism, takfiri ideology and external intervention. All of these could never conceivably penetrate our society if it was protected by strong morals. A moral crisis paves the way for foreign interference in our internal affairs, it paves the way for people to be controlled by money and hatred and it paves the way for mercenaries who have lost their national and patriotic principles. When you lose your moral compass, you lose your humanity and turn into another creature, not even into an animal. Animals do not eat their brothers’ flesh out of hatred; they do so out of hunger. When you lose your morals and your principles, you lose the real value of religion. Religions came to reinforce humanity and cannot by any means be the pretext to behead humans and eat human flesh. When we lose the righteousness of religion, as is happening with some of these groups, religion becomes a mere façade. Religion would never instruct human beings to commit such acts.

Interviewer: When you refer to “eating brother’s flesh out of hatred” does this imply an instinct of hatred?

President al-Assad: Contrary to correct social and religious beliefs that are built on reason, distorted beliefs make humans hostile to others when they differ in doctrine. Hatred, not instinct, makes humans lose their sanity and drives them to behead others and eat human flesh. Human instinct is based on virtue as opposed to hostility. Weak morals and principles, and distorted beliefs are what drive humans away from sanity.

Interviewer: Mr President going back to your definition of jihad in its true meaning, we find unfortunately that the more prevalent form is based on fighting and killing. What can be done about this?

President al-Assad: The solution is to seek guidance from the Quran where the clear words of God resonate. Islam is a religion of mercy and forgiveness; the word “mercy” is cited tens of times in the Quran. Islam came to promote human values, enshrine mercy and love, and prevent killing. Did the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) not say in the Hadith al-Sharif: “The demise of the universe is easier for God to condone than the wrongful killing of a believer?” The Quran and the Hadith are both clear in promoting love, forgiveness, justice and humanity. Those who claim to emulate the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) should remember his behaviour as a human being before and after he became a prophet, they will find that his message was primarily based on human morals and principals.

I would like to pose a question to you and your readers: do these Wahabis and Takfiris and their acts resemble in any shape or form our great Prophet’s conduct throughout his life, either before or after he became a prophet? During my meetings with clerics in Syria and the Levant, I have often said that the Prophet Muhammad’s life should be studied in greater depth at all levels, by clerics and students alike, because the Prophet did not only convey the words of God, he embodied their meaning and practiced what he preached. If we go back to the Quran, the Hadith and the life and conduct of the Prophet, we will see the complete opposite of what these terrorists are practicing.

Interviewer: Who is responsible for this call to return to the Quran and the Prophet’s conduct?

President al-Assad:When a criminal, a thief or an extremist emerges from the fold of society, it is a collective social responsibility led by the government since it is responsible for overseeing all aspects, including religion. The government shares this responsibility with various religious institutions, including the Ministry of Religious Endowments, religious schools and institutes including those that have recently been licensed. These bodies are responsible for ensuring that our religious scholars are qualified to promote the correct religious ideology and focus on its essence rather than on the extremism that has infiltrated areas of our public life.

Interviewer: Some argue that the government carries the greatest responsibility in the sense that this extremist religious environment grew before the eyes of the authorities. They cite examples of religious schools that are not subject to oversight and do not have the proper curricula, or the building of mosques to avoid paying taxes.

President al-Assad: I have heard this many times during various meetings with people in the current crisis, that the government should not have encouraged these religious schools and that we are now seeing the consequences of this policy. This is unequivocally incorrect. In fact quite the contrary, throughout the crisis we have not had a single incident caused by any of the official religious bodies. More importantly, they have understood the genuine reasons behind the crisis and have worked effectively to contain it.

In a previous interview, I discussed the role of religious clerics. As for religious institutions, they have not produced any form of chaos or contributed to spreading sectarianism. The majority of those who emanated from mosques at the beginning chanting “Allah Akbar” did so to incite chaos and hatred whilst knowing nothing of religion. Others attended mosques to protest and chant “Allah Akbar” but in reality they did not know how to pray.

On the other hand, the religious institutions have existed for decades and they have been empowered and supported as far back as the1980’s during the Muslim Brotherhood crisis. The crisis at that time highlighted the importance of nurturing religious belief correctly since many Syrians were misled due to misguided religious awareness. The Muslim Brotherhood exploited these weaknesses in religious clerics and in society propagating themselves as strengthening religion in society against an “atheist” state fighting religion. Consequently, and based on the above, I believe that on the backdrop of this crisis, we need to embrace religion and religious institutions, and certainly not the opposite.

Interviewer: Mr President, decades ago sectarian strife afflicted Lebanon as it did in Iraq following the American invasion. Did we not realize that this would inevitably come to us? What have we done to confront it?

President al-Assad: Certainly, had we not feared this we would not have taken a strong stance against western policies that promoted this anarchy. We staunchly rejected the war on Iraq despite the serious American threats and great incentives at the time. We took this position not only because in principle we are against any aggression on Arab or friendly countries, but also because we were aware of the disastrous consequences that would follow.

Similarly we expressed concerns over the war on Afghanistan, especially during my meetings with American officials after 9/11. They expected us to be pleased that they would be attacking terrorists, especially since Syria from 1985 had repeatedly called for a clear definition of terrorism and the need to form an international alliance against it. This was not taken seriously at the time since terrorism had not yet struck within their borders. I have consistently warned American officials that the war on Afghanistan would promote and spread terrorism. Terrorism is like cancer, when you deal with the consequences rather than the root cause, it will only spread faster. Therefore, terrorism has to be rooted out and not just attacked. This cannot be achieved through war alone, but by education, culture, human interaction and prosperity. They did not pay attention to our concerns and we are still suffering from the consequences of Afghanistan. Again, in Iraq we warned that the situation would develop into sectarian tension and head towards partition, which we are slowly seeing. When we got involved in Lebanon in 1976 it was to protect Lebanon and also to safeguard Syria since that war had consequences on us from day one.

Therefore in answer to your question, we saw the dynamics you mentioned emerging, we stood against them and we intervened when it was warranted. However, you cannot completely isolate yourself from your neighbourhood. We endeavoured to prevent the events in Iraq from affecting Syria. It was possible to delay it but it was not possible to prevent it completely. Since 2004, some extremist elements started to emerge and ferment in Syria which at the beginning were non-Syrians and sadly with time a considerable part of them are now Syrian.

Interviewer: There were attempts before and during the crisis to draw Syria into this sectarian tension. More than two years into the crisis, they have been utilizing the example of Hezbollah to bolster the notion that it came to defend a certain sect. What is your view on this?

President al-Assad: They have used all methods in this region: direct and indirect occupation, threats, intimidation, as well attempts to breach our national security and culture. They have tried everything and Syria continues to be a source of hindrance to their objectives. Recent events in Arab countries were seen as an opportunity to strike Syria and undermine and weaken the axis of resistance in the region. The core of their objective now is redefine who is an enemy and who is an ally; Israel becomes the invisible enemy, even an ally for some, whilst the resistance becomes the enemy. Instead of representing a movement and an actor against Israeli occupation, the attempt is to project the resistance as the enemy, transforming it from a resistance movement to sectarian movement. This has not transpired and will not transpire. The Syrian people are not so easily misled or fooled. For us, the resistance and all our allies, our aims are clear and our route well defined. Regardless of what they propagate, we will achieve our goals in terms of our resistance and our internal wellbeing. We shall do this in our own way and without hesitation. Regardless of what they say, we will always act according to what is best for Syria.

Interviewer: Did we require fighters from Hezbollah?

President al-Assad: This is not the first time I have been asked this question and my answer is clear: the Syrian Army is fighting in several parts of the country, had we needed external support we would have been able to attain it. However, what happened in Al-Qseir is linked more to the resistance movement than the internal crisis in Syria. Al-Qseir is not as strategically important as they portrayed it to be.

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Interviewer: But in the West it was portrayed as the mother of all battles?

President al-Assad: Precisely, that’s because it has a bearing both on the internal crisis in Syria and on the resistance since it is a border town which is the back garden of the resistance. The resistance cannot be strong without an element of strategic depth to it, which is in Syria. Thus the area bears geo-strategic importance in the connection between Syria and Lebanon and specifically the resistance. That is the fundamental reason why the resistance had to join the battle because it affects them as much as it affects Syria. There involvement was necessary and we were completely transparent about this. We will not hesitate to do it again or shy away from it. However, if we needed the resistance as they tried to portray, why did we need it in Al-Qseir but not in Damascus, Aleppo or other key areas? We have a strong army that is supported by large number of National Defence Forces.

Interviewer: Mr President, despite what you have said, there are some in the opposition, most notably those who are outside Syria, who insist that a sectarian struggle is the core issue and that the government has engineered it to augment its own benefits.

President al-Assad: If the government creates sectarian strife in Syria, it would then be leading the country towards division. Our battles across all of Syria are principally to safeguard the country’s demographic diversity and unity, which essentially discredits this notion. Sectarian strife conspicuously negates the interest of the government. The government has an interest in keeping Syria united, strong and prosperous. A sectarian approach would result in us losing the battle not winning it. A government would be ignorant to adopt such a strategy and the Syrian government is certainly not. If a government works for the best interests of the nation, it does its best to ensure society’s unity and consequently ensures its own strength.

Interviewer: Frankly speaking Mr President, there are western accusations that when the protests erupted you subtly signalled to the minorities that they are under threat which drove them to support you. This notion renders you responsible for the schism in Syrian society?

President al-Assad: If there was any truth to this claim then we would have plunged into a civil war and the state would have collapsed. If for the sake of argument we apply the logic of minorities and majorities in Syria – which we completely reject, no minorities can protect the state. The government is maintained by the majority, not necessarily an ethnic, religious or sectarian majority, but by a popular majority.

Our country and our people have persevered because it is the majority that has supported the government and not the minority; this majority constitutes all sects in Syria. These notions of minorities and majorities are purely Western. How did they divide up Syria under the colonial French occupation? They divided it into sectarian based regions: an Alawite state, a Druze state, Damascus, Aleppo etc. Ninety years ago, our ancestors were vigilant and alert to the dangers of such a plan, it is inconceivable that today we less aware or vigilant. Such an attempt is predestined to fail exactly like it failed all those years ago, even when they tried to print new currency. This particular scenario would never transpire in Syria unless the takfiri or Muslim Brotherhood ideology prevails, which would lead to a division empirically similar to the fate of other Arab countries.

Interviewer: But these accusations that the government created a sectarian struggle, are not only from those bearing an extremist ideology but also from intellectuals who claim to be secularists.

President al-Assad: This is regrettably true. Most of the sectarian discourse today is not only by takfiri extremists, but also by those who claim to be secular. There are two groups that advocate sectarianism: the first regard themselves as secular – we have repeatedly stated that secularism is not against religions but rather a form of freedom of confession. The other group are ignorant people who claim to be religious without understanding the essence of religion.

The common element between the first group, which claims to be cultured and secular, and the second – which claims to understand the true essence of religion is ignorance; ignorance of religion leads to sectarianism. In this instance, I am not referring to religious doctrine, which is based on intellectual thought. The old religious scholars provided us with intellectual schools of thoughts that enriched our understanding of religion and religious practice, but did not promote sectarianism. What is important is that the majority of believers who understand the true essence of religion do not promote sectarianism, because they know as we do that sectarianism is the exact opposite of religion. Those who maintain a poor knowledge of religions adopt the concept of sectarianism parallel to those who boast about secularism without comprehending its true meaning or the true meaning of religion.

Interviewer: Taking into consideration these distorted concepts and perverse practices in our society from beheading and slaughtering to sectarianism and fragmentation, are we beginning to see the defeat of Arab Nationalism to the hands of fanaticism and takfiri ideology?

President al-Assad: Arab identity is endangered by three factors: firstly, an absolute deviation towards the West, secondly, the inclination towards extremism and thirdly, the performance of successive Arab governments which has led some to shift away from the core of Arab nationalism. These three deadly threats have dealt severe blows to Pan-Arabism, but Arab nationalism is still alive and this can be felt in the popular mood. Pan-Arabism will not collapse because it is deeply rooted in our Arab identity.

Interviewer:Mr President, since the inception of the crisis, there have been calls from Turkey to specifically engage with the Muslim Brotherhood, while Syria has categorically rejected dealing with them as a political entity. The Syrian government announced its intention to attend the Geneva talks with no pre-conditions. Will we talk to the Muslim Brotherhood?

President al-Assad: We deal with all parties. In fact, we engaged with the Muslim Brotherhood after they were defeated in Syria in 1982. We believe that dialogue is the method to direct parties onto the right track and national position. If we are to discuss Islam, they should refer back to the correct Islam for all Syrians.

This dialogue has never stopped, and there have been several attempts, but every time we realize that the Muslim Brotherhood have not abandoned their hypocrisy. Their main concern remains power and ruling rather than religion or the interests of the country. We engage with them as individuals and not as a political party, since our constitution and legislations ban political parties based on religious ideology.

This should not be understood as being anti-religion; on the contrary, we support religion. Religion is a calling, a higher calling to teach the word of God and should be elevated to a much higher level than ruling people’s daily lives. Religion is for all humanity and not exclusive to a certain group; it has a higher purpose than the details and nuances of our human lives which encompass wrongdoings, sins, perversities and whims. Religion should not be reduced to a political party. Religion augments moral values, which in turn reinforces politics, parties, the economy and prosperity. It is for these reasons that we do not recognise them as a political party. In terms of their practice, they are terrorists who killed thousands of Syrians under the same leadership that still exists outside Syria – we do not forget this.

So we will engage in dialogue with all parties relying on our existing knowledge of their real ideology and knowing that it is extremely unlikely they will – after close to a century of adopting their ideology – suddenly change and become moderate Muslims with national values.

As I mentioned earlier though, we have engaged with individuals within the Brotherhood and they have returned to Syria. They maintain their religious beliefs, which we respect, and have contributed to building the country rather than destroying it. As I have said before, the potential outcome of any dialogue will be subject to a public referendum, which will ensure that the electorate will decide what is right for the country.

Interviewer: Regarding the Muslim Brotherhood, how are you following the unfolding events in Egypt? What is your view of the situation?

President al-Assad: What is happening in Egypt is essentially the fall of political Islam; the type of governing system which the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to advocate regionally. I reiterate that religion should not be deprecated into a particular political practice. Religious preaching should be an independent process, kept away from the specific dynamics and intricacies of political manoeuvring.

This experience has failed quickly because it was founded on a flawed basis. Our perception of the Muslim Brotherhood extends broadly to developments in Egypt. Using religion for politics or a certain political party is inevitably destined to fail anywhere in the world.

Interviewer: Is it that the Muslim Brotherhood deceived the Egyptian people or have the Egyptians suddenly woken up to the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood?

President al-Assad: Countries such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria are strategically located and deeply ingrained in the history of the region and have been for thousands of years. Consequently, the peoples of these lands have a rich reservoir of knowledge, awareness, culture and human civilization, which make them immune to deceitful narratives. As the saying goes: you can deceive some people some of the time, but you cannot deceive everybody all of the time. This especially applies to the Egyptians who represent a civilization of thousands of years and a unique Arab nationalist ideology. What happened a year ago was an untestable consequence of the previous ruling party, now the picture has emerged clearer to the Egyptians, and the performance of the Muslim Brotherhood unveiled the lies they expounded at the start of the revolution. The Egyptians are an ancient people and they were able to quickly discover the reality for what it was.

Interviewer: And in record time.

President al-Assad: Yes, thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood!

Interviewer: Is it fair to say that the Muslim Brotherhood’s experience at governing has failed?

President al-Assad: We envisaged its failure before it even started. This type of governance is destined to fail since it is incompatible with human nature. The Muslim Brotherhood adopts hypocrisy and aims in reality to create schism in the Arab world. They were the first to raise the sectarian strife in Syria in the 70’s. At that time, sectarianism was not common discourse or phenomenon in Syria. Their objective is to create conflicts, however this is not resonant in societies that have a high level of public awareness, which is why we knew they would fail.

Interviewer: Some suggest that part of what is occurring in Egypt now is due to the decision taken to sever relationships with Syria. Reuters quoted a military source stating that the army began to change its stance following Morsi’s statements during his meeting with the Syrian opposition.

President al-Assad: I do not wish to speak on behalf of the Egyptians people, but I can tell you that when Muhammad Morsi severed relationships with Syria a few weeks ago, there were attempts by the Egyptians to reach a compromise. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem revealed these details in his recent press conference. This implies that not everybody in the Egyptian government endorsed Morsi’s decision because it was effectively an incorrect decision. This was further echoed by criticism of the decision from Egyptian intellectuals and journalists who highlighted the strategic and historic nature of the relationship between the two countries.

The Pharaohs were aware of the strategic importance of military and political relations between Syria and Egypt, hence their battle of Kadesh (near Al-Qseir now) against the Hittites in 1380. The Hittites in Anatolia also realised the importance of their relationships with Syria. The Pharaohs realised that Syria represents Egypt’s strategic depth. The battle ended with no victor, culminating in one of the oldest agreements known to history between the Hittites and the Pharaohs in 1280. Whilst the Pharaohs were aware of the importance of Syria to them then, how could a person living in the 21st century not understand it today? It is shameful ignorance.

Interviewer: We have discussed the dialogue, done the groundwork, initiated the political process and taken some concrete steps, even clarified our position on the Geneva conference. To a large extent all of these measures are part of a wider political process. I would like to touch upon the humanitarian aspect: tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation. Some have asked, Mr President, how can we reconcile both internally and externally?

President al-Assad: Internally speaking – and this is the most important for me – we mistakenly put all our eggs in the same basket. There are those who have killed, those who have vandalised but did not kill, there are those who carried arms but did not kill and those who facilitated the killing of others. So there are many different roles. In all instances that did not result in killing, the state can be lenient on the condition that offenders return to normal civilian life. In the instances of proven homicide, this is tied to the wishes of the victims’ families and the state cannot act on their behalf. However I have heard a significant number of families of martyrs, saying: “if our son’s or brother’s blood leads to a resolution of the problem then we are ready to forgive.” We must all learn from these families who have lost their children and their loved ones.

Forgiveness is essential in solving national crises, provided it is done at a popular level rather than at an official level in order to ensure its sustainability. It is a sign of strength and patriotism when we can put our national public interests above our own personal interests; this concept needs to be adopted by everybody. Like most other families, my family has been affected by the crisis, we have lost loved ones, but ultimately, similar to any other family, we need to put the interests of the country ahead of our personal loss. This needs to be applied both internally and externally.

The external side is more political. Foreign policy is not based on emotions but national interests. There are principles and interests and they are inextricably intertwined. It is unscrupulous for your principles to be against your interests, either your interests are wrong or your principles. Here, forgiveness is viewed positively as a humane and religious value. When forgiveness serves the relationships with a certain country, and therefore the interests of Syrians, there is no reason not to forgive, since the central focus of the state is the interest of its people. This is what we have done; we have received many politicians and met with several countries that were hostile to us. Our primary aim was always the unequivocal interest of the Syrian people.

Interviewer: Mr President, Syrians today have two primary concerns: one is the prevalence of terrorism and bloodshed on the streets, targeting state institutions, factories and other key locations. The second concern is the increasing cost of living. With regards to the economy, the unprecedented rise in the dollar exchange rate and the disastrous consequences? What do you say to the Syrian citizen on issues relating to the economy?

President al-Assad: In order to give an objective assessment, one has to start from the fundamentals. Firstly, for a citizen to be well off, the economy has to be healthy which requires stability and security. The economy can never flourish in turbulent times and in the absence of security.

Therefore our security threats are directly affecting us irrespective of the performance of any government with the best experts. Secondly, we know that certain countries tried to strike Syria, first through the idea of the revolution – which failed because people didn’t embrace it, and then they tried through supporting terrorism – which also failed because it was countered by the armed forces and local communities. Since they failed in both of those areas, their third attempt was the economy to ensure the greatest suffering against Syrians who supported their country. If we take into account these factors, it is inevitable that there is a heavy price to pay. In these circumstances, the best we can do is to limit the damage, either by dealing with the profiteers of the crisis or with the mistakes of officials.

We have to identify policies that are suitable for the present time and circumstance. Some make the mistake of assessing current policies and government performance in the same manner as before the crisis. This is unrealistic. We are in a completely different situation. It is unfeasible to continue in the same level of consumption as before, since this creates pressure on the economy and most significantly the Syrian pound. We need to change our lifestyle in order to alleviate the pressure and adapt to the circumstances until we can reach a solution based on restoring full security. We have to understand that our economic hardships will not ease until we can restore our stability.

This crisis has affected all Syrians irrespective of their political affiliations; even those who initially supported the alleged ‘revolution’ were struck by increased poverty, which was the catalyst for them to realize that they were losing out. It is unfortunate that there was a limited foci that only started to think objectively after they were struck by poverty. However, we must all collaborate to combat terrorism in order to restore the economy to its former strength.

We must identify the beneficiaries of the crisis and deal with them accordingly. It is paramount that the public cooperates with the state and refrain from relying on others to solve the problem. This is a real problem in our society; everyone relies on somebody else to solve their problems.

Similarly, unless our public officials collaborate with each other and with our citizens the hardship will only increase. We must all take the initiative and innovate in finding the best possible economic solutions to deal with these turbulent circumstances; this is where we must be creative in our solutions otherwise the crisis will force choices upon us. Again, the sooner we fight terrorism, the quicker the economy will recover stronger than before because we are a vibrant and intelligent people. We are a country with an indigenous civilization that was not imported from abroad. Regardless of the difficulties in the past, we built our country with our own money and expertise. Therefore, once we restore security, we can at the very minimum re-boost our economy to its former status.

Interviewer: What are the facts behind the oil and gas resources in the Syrian territorial waters, which have been documented and reported by a number of research centres and experts?

President al-Assad: This is correct, whether in our territorial waters or on Syrian soil. Initial studies have reported large gas reserves especially in the sea. We have seen this stretching from Egypt through Palestine along the coast. It is also reported that these resources are richer in the north. There is a notion that one of the reasons behind the crisis was these gas reserves and the fact that they should not be at the disposal of state opposed to Israeli and American policies. This has never been discussed directly with us, but from a logical perspective it cannot be ignored. It is still early to say.

Interviewer: I would like to discuss living conditions from a different angle. The government has increased salaries twice during the crisis. The first pay rise was expected and some thought that it was needed but the second was surprising and unforeseen to some especially since the government was able to accommodate this increase in the current conditions. Despite the difficulties there is hope in what comes after the crisis. Have we taken steps towards this? What are the plans for the future?

President al-Assad: Since we have been affected most by the destruction, the most vital part of the Syrian economy will be reconstruction. We have started to layout plans and where possible started implementation, though the security situation has hindered this. The necessary legislation has been passed, but again implementation requires better security conditions to facilitate the rebuilding process and ensure workers can operate freely.

Another important point you mentioned was the pay rise. For a country in the situation we are in to be able to continue to pay salaries and provide services – albeit of a lower quality than before, is a huge achievement. There are positive elements to gauge, however our aims are bigger and I believe we can collaborate collectively to achieve these.

Interviewer: Some attribute the responsibility of border control to the government, which contributed ultimately to the current economic situation and the absence of state control over markets and prices for instance. Were we taken by surprise in the crisis or was it caused by negligence from the relevant government bodies?

President al-Assad: Certainly there were deficiencies with regards to the performance of certain state institutions before the crisis, which I regularly mentioned, including corruption, negligence, procrastination and the challenge of finding the right and suitable people. The crisis has unveiled and perpetuated these defects, which is not surprising. However it is not realistic to assess the role of the government and its influence without taking into consideration the extrinsic orientations of the crisis, the crisis is not confined to strictly internal issues of corruption, chaos, and lack of security or the presence of gangs as is the case for other countries. Our situation is completely different as we are facing an external war manifested by internal tools and the government is defending the country. So it would be inaccurate to evaluate it in the same way.

The presence of the state, its influence and power is judged by whether the government has changed its principles. The Syrian government has not changed its principles, neither internally nor externally. Our position towards the resistance movement has not changed, our position on Palestine is the same, we remain committed towards the larger sections of society – labourers and farmers, we continue to pay salaries and provide public services despite the widespread destruction, we have launched new projects and have planned for others; all of this has been achieved within our own means. Therefore our government is not absent but rather in a state of war.

Interviewer: Our state institutions are being vandalised and destroyed. Some perceive that these manifestations are the beginning of the collapse of the Syrian state.

President al-Assad: Their objective was to destroy our infrastructure, undermine our security, drain our economy and create chaos that would all lead to a failed state; none of this has materialised. Day to day life continues, albeit with greater challenges. The economy is still functioning despite severe difficulties, which nobody expected us to withstand. Personal safety is a big issue, but workers, employees and business people still go to work. The Syrian people have proven that they have enormous energy and resilience. After explosions, once the casualties have been evacuated and the debris cleared, daily life continues. We haven’t seen this in Syria before and we didn’t know this about ourselves. People go to work despite the risks of a terrorist attacks, suicide bombings or mortar shelling. They go to work and about their daily business with a strong belief in fate and therefore never fall into a state of despair.

All countermeasures have been deployed against us including the use of economic, military and psychological warfare. The only thing they have not tried is direct intervention, which is beyond their means for various reasons; as I have said before, starting a war is different to ending it. No one can end a war, and no one knows where it will end. This has critical and dangerous bearings, which is why there is a lot of reluctance on the part of many countries. If we have overcome all of these stages with a high level of public awareness and solidarity; there is nothing we should fear. That’s why I am not worried.

Interviewer: So, Mr President, you are optimistic?

President al-Assad: If I was not optimistic I would not have been able to endure the difficulties alongside the Syrian people, and if the Syrian people lacked a profound optimism they would not have persevered. Despair is the beginning and essence of defeat and defeat is primarily psychological.

I often meet people and sense their optimism. They all say that the crisis is coming to an end, God willing. They go on to say “Syria is protected by God” or “we have no fears”. They repeat what the martyred Dr Bouti used to say and his belief that the end of the crisis is near.

There is a genuine belief, from a spiritual and national perspective that the crisis will come to an end. Without optimism there is no faith; without faith there is no optimism.

Interviewer: Mr President, in conclusion, our newspaper is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary since releasing its first issue. May I ask you on this occasion to address a few words to my colleagues at the paper? They have been exemplary in their dedication and hard work. There is a printing worker I know who is not driven by political ambitions but by his sense of patriotism and belonging to this institution. This is what keeps him commuting to and from work after midnight, stopping at numerous checkpoints and risking his life.

President al-Assad: The example of your colleague applies to all those working in our national media, and proves the resilience of the Syrian people. Please convey my warm regards to all your staff especially since your newspaper is one of the oldest national papers in Syria. Its fiftieth anniversary corresponds with the 8th of March Revolution which I mentioned earlier with all the benefits it brought to the Syrian people for decades.

Today this anniversary comes as we live another real revolution; not their so-called ‘revolution’ but the real revolution of our people and army against terrorists. I hope that this anniversary will mark a new beginning for the newspaper so that its name will, in the future, symbolize not one revolution, but two: the revolution of 1963 and the revolution of 2013.

Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Waste Dump

July 6th, 2013 by Michael Leonardi

July 1 marks Canada Day when many Canadians celebrate the unification of three colonies into their country on the same date in 1867.

In Ontario, droves of people head off to their summer cottages and vacation get-a-ways on the shores of the Great Lakes for the holiday weekend. Lake Huron’s sandy beaches and beautiful aquamarine waters attract many visitors from all over the world. But this year, many First Nations were not celebrating the stripping of their sovereignty rights and desecration of their lands.

 

Those heading to the Saugeen Shores area and the town of Southampton this past weekend were greeted Saturday by the second annual “Walk the Talk” peaceful protest march against not one, but two permanent underground nuclear dumps less than a mile away from Lake Huron.

 

More than 500 citizens from across North America gathered at the Southampton, Ontario, flagpole on High Street by the lake. They gathered to voice their opposition to nuke dumps on these beautiful shores and to the continued production of this dangerous and deadly waste. They walked several kilometers through the town and along the beach to heighten awareness and bring attention to this diabolical plan, orchestrated largely in secret by local and national authorities and a deceitful industry, to bury low level, intermediate and high level nuclear waste underground and less than a mile away from this important fresh water source. They gathered to push back against a corrupt political leadership from the local level to the upper levels of dirty energy frontman Stephen Harper’s disastrous national government. They marched to say no to an industry that has been lying and deceiving the public about the dangers of nuclear energy and radiation exposure for decades. They walked to promote real renewable wind and solar energy alternatives.

Surely the question that comes to many is why on Earth would anyone in their right mind consider the shores of Lake Huron for the first permanent nuclear dump in North America? Lake Huron sits to the north of Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario and the water of this lake flows southward and eastward, eventually connecting to the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Great Lakes account for 21 percent of the world’s fresh water resources, or a little over one fifth, and to many native American cultures and First Nation peoples, the Great Lakes are considered the sacred heart of Turtle Island. So, why would anyone consider dumping radioactive poisons that will remain deathly dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years next to such an integral part of the our Great Lakes ecosystem? The answer begins with the human folly of siting what is now the world’s largest nuclear energy producer in this very same location.

The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, with its eight currently operating reactors, is now the largest operating nuclear power plant in the world and fifth largest operating power producer of any kind. When all reactors are operating, it produces 7,276 megawatts a year. It sits directly on the shores of the lake on a sprawling 2300 acre complex that is also home to the Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF), an above ground interim waste storage area for the low level and intermediate level radioactive waste for all 20 of the nuclear reactors operated by Ontario Power Generation.

WWMF stores tons of radioactive wastes in 11 different buildings and has the capacity to burn thousands of pounds of this waste every day. That’s right, much of this low level and intermediate-level waste is actually being incinerated sending deadly cancer-causing radionuclides into the atmosphere while leaving growing piles of radioactive ash in their wake, and this has been going on for decades. Greenpeace has noted that incineration of low and intermediate-level radioactive waste does not destroy metals or reduce radioactivity of wastes. In theory, all but a small fraction of radioactive and metallic emissions from incinerators can be captured with well-maintained, high efficiency filters. However, the small particles that escape are more readily absorbed by living organisms than the larger ones filtered.

The Canadian nuclear industry, like its counterparts in nuclearized countries around the world, was born promoting the myth that nuclear energy is safe, green and too cheap to meter. A visit to Bruce Power Visitor’s Center is an immersion into the contradictions we are faced with regarding our energy choices and their repercussions. To arrive to the center, you must pass fields of wind generators in every direction. One hundred fifteen wind turbines make the surrounding wind project one of the largest in Ontario, but the turbines are owned by Enbridge—the same Enbridge that pumps tar sands from the scorched earth of Alberta through a web of spill prone pipelines to be refined in Sarnia, Detroit, Toledo and other points south. Solar trackers also dot the landscape as farmers invest more and more into the harvesting of renewables.

The center itself is a series of stations and displays extolling the fairy tale of a happy marriage between nukes and the natural world. There are several large murals, one depicts wildlife, first nations, early settlers and the nuclear reactors all harmoniously existing side by side. Another mural shows people boating and fishing in the shadow of the power plant with the words “Radiation is all around us,” sprawled across the top and manipulative phrases meant to lull people into considering the cancerous reality of radiation exposure as harmless. The Canadian nuclear industry promotes its Canada Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) reactors as a safe, accident proof method of boiling water that is as innocuous as a mother producing milk, with no harmful side effects. The visitor center at Bruce Power employs the best propaganda the industry can muster in several interactive stations promoting nuclear as the safest and most reliable form of energy while devaluing the role renewables could play in a much safer energy economy.

The realities of the dangers posed by the CANDU reactors and the inordinate amount of high-level radioactive fuel they produce are outlined in this May 1 interview with Arnie Gunderson of Fairwinds Energy Education and Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility titled “Nuclear Contamination Knows No Borders.” CANDU reactors are constantly releasing the known cancer-causing radionuclide tritium into the environment and the levels of tritium in both Lake Ontario and Lake Huron are on a steady increase. Despite a litany of problems with the CANDU design, the industry has done a good job convincing Canadians that they should have no fear of this “fail-safe” reactor design.

With what is now the world’s largest nuclear power plant steaming away on the shores of Lake Huron and a pile of deadly and poisonous radioactive waste that is decades high and growing, Ontario Power Generation is now pushing to transform Lake Huron into a nuclear sacrifice zone. Their plan is to dig out two, what they call Deep Geological Repositories (DGRs), less than a mile away from the Lake and 680 meters below the surface to bury low level, intermediate-level and high-level radioactive waste permanently in shafts carved out of limestone. This is an experiment that has never been done anywhere else in the world and yet just as the nuclear industry tells us that radiation is harmless, we are to believe that this waste will remain safely out of harms way under the Lake for hundreds of thousands of years to come.

Recently, it has come to light that government officials from local mayors all the way up to the current president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Michael Binder, held secret meetings with an association of nuclear power companies called the Nuclear Waste Management Organization charged with locating a dump site. The meetings were held under the guise of the Deep Geological Repository Community Consultation Advisory Group, which consists of a quorum of eight mayors of communities in Bruce County, from 2005 to the fall of 2012. Many of these meetings took place before the public was even made aware of the possibility of siting a high-level waste dump in Bruce County and while the process for siting the low and intermediate level waste dump was still ongoing.

According to documents uncovered by the local group, Save Our Saugeen Shores, Binder, who is a political appointment of the Harper government and chairs what is supposed to be Canada’s neutral nuclear watchdog, warned participants at a meeting on September 30, 2009, of environmental and anti-nuclear groups who “have the project on their agenda. You haven’t seen anything yet.” It seems that Binder had already made up his mind about the validity of the low and intermediate level waste dump as well, stating he hoped “their next meeting with him would be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the low and intermediate-level waste DGR.”

“Secret meetings between industry, government officials and the nuclear oversight commission are a definite slap in the face to democratic transparency, if not downright illegal,” said Jutta Splettstoesser, a resident and farmer from Kincardine.

“The timing of this discussion is troublesome,” says Cheryl Grace, a spokesperson for Save Our Saugeen Shores, the group which accessed the information. “What’s troubling is the secrecy exhibited by the mayors who were elected to serve the public, not the nuclear industry. We can find no evidence that the mayors, meeting as a county council, felt the need to discuss these issues in a public forum. In our own experience with Saugeen Shores council, the council regularly goes around the table and each councillor reports on their activities between council meetings. Mayor Mike Smith, who attended these meetings with the nuclear industry, never saw fit to inform his council and the public about these discussions and meetings. Either that or he did so in a separate secret forum, making all of this even more troubling for our community.”

Fortunately, ground has not yet been broken on either of these ill conceived nuclear waste dumps and resistance is growing as word gets out despite Ontario Power Generation and the Canadian Nuclear industry’s best efforts to keep a lid on the project. Locally, citizens groups plan on challenging the legality of the secret meetings and the collusion demonstrated between the mayors of Bruce County and the nuclear industry prior to public knowledge of the dump siting process.

Any serious political opposition party with a little clout can use the obvious industry bias exhibited by the chair of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to further expose the Harper government’s marriage to dirty energy. Harper already faces sinking popularity and credibility, protecting the nuclear industry’s profit motives in this case has international ramifications for the health and sustainability of the entire Great Lakes region. Even in the U.S., with all its problems of transparency and nuclear malfeasance, an uncovering of such industry bias by an NRC commissioner as was exhibited by Michael Binder would end in his forced resignation or removal, coupled with criminal prosecution.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which is an organization of mayors and other elected officials from more than 100 Great Lakes cities and representing over 16 million people, came out in opposition to the DGR 1 for low-level and intermediate level waste in May. Seventy seven percent of these mayors voted to oppose the dump at this time, stating that, “When dealing with a resource as valuable as the freshwater here, why take the risk of putting the site so close to the shore. Whatever the geology might be in the location, it just seems to make much more sense to have the site as far away as possible from such a major source of fresh water” and concluding “the limited time to review the record and prepare comments, the limited outreach to the broader Great Lakes and St. Lawrence community, and the consideration of only one site that is one kilometer from Lake Huron leads us to conclude that the project should not move forward at this time.”

The Michigan State Senate also recently passed a resolution opposing the low and intermediate level nuclear dump and calling for the U.S. congress to intervene to ensure that international agreements are upheld. The resolution also declared that elected officials in Michigan are more engaged in the process to site a dump and that Michigan standards must be adhered to, declaring no dump site of this nature is to be located within ten miles of “Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, the Saint Mary’s River, the Detroit River, the St. Clair River or Lake St. Clair.” Michigan standards also exclude “sites located within a 500-year floodplain, located over a sole source aquifer, or located where the hydrogeology beneath the site discharges groundwater to the land surface within 3,000 feet of the boundaries of the site. We encourage Canada to consider similar siting criteria.” The Macomb County commissioners also passed a resolution opposing the siting of the DGR 1 or any other dump so close to the shores of any Lake in the Great Lakes Basin.

Groups are organizing at the grassroots level and they need your support. The Ontario Power Generation and the Canadian government would like us to think that the DGR 1 for low and intermediate-level waste is a done deal, but it’s not! The time is now to raise your voice on this important issue.

“The only answer to the problem of nuclear waste is to stop producing it, however the nuclear industry is gunning for a deep geological repository as a solution to nuclear waste storage so they can promote nuclear expansion. Activists and residents are working with Indigenous Nations and environmental groups across borders and oceans to call on our governments to stop producing it now,” said Zach Ruiter of GE-Hitachi’s Uranium Secret in Toronto. No safe, permanent solution has yet been found anywhere in the world for the nuclear waste problem.

A petition by the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump citizens group is circulating via the internet that can be signed to stop the low and intermediate level dump. The following groups provide more information on how to actively participate in stopping these nuke dumps on the shores of Lake Huron: Save Our Saugeen Shores, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Northwatch and Ontario’s Green Future.

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR page for more related news on this topic.

 

America’s Plan B in Egypt: Bring Back the Old Regime

July 6th, 2013 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

The road that has been taken in Egypt is a dangerous one. A military coup has taken place in Egypt while millions of Egyptians have cheered it on with little thought about what is replacing the Muslim Brotherhood and the ramifications it will have for their society. Many people in cheering crowds have treated the Egyptian military’s coup like it was some sort of democratic act. They fail to remember who the generals of the Egyptian military work for. Those who are ideologically opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood have also cheered the military takeover without realizing that the military takeover ultimately serves imperialist behaviour. The cheering crowds have not considered the negative precedent that has been set.

Egypt was never cleansed of corrupt figures by the Muslim Brotherhood, which instead joined them. Key figures in Egypt, like Al-Azhar’s Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb (who was appointed by Mubarak), criticized the Muslim Brotherhood when Mubarak was in power, then denounced Mubarak and supported the Muslim Brotherhood when it gained power, and then denounced the Muslim Brotherhood when the military removed it from power. The disgraced Muslim Brotherhood has actually been replaced by a far worse assembly. These figures, whatever they call themselves, have only served power and never democracy. The military’s replacements for the Muslim Brotherhood—be it the new interim president or the leaders of the military junta—were either working with or serving the Muslim Brotherhood and, even before them, Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

The Undemocratic Egyptian Full Circle

Unlike the protests, the military takeover in Egypt is a blow to democracy. Despite the incompetence and hypocrisy of the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership, it was democratically elected into power. While the rights of all citizens to demonstrate and protest should be protected and structured mechanisms should securely be put into place in all state systems for removing any unpopular government, democratically-elected governments should not be toppled by military coups. Unless a democratically-elected government is killing its own people arbitrarily and acting outside the law, there is no legitimate excuse for removing it from power by means of military force. There is nothing wrong with the act of protesting, but there is something wrong when a military coup is initiated by a corrupt military force that works in the services of Washington and Tel Aviv.

Things have come full circle in Cairo. The military oversight over the government in Cairo is exactly the position that Egypt’s corrupt military leaders wanted to have since the Egyptian elections in 2012 that brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party into power. Since then there has been a power struggle between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Expecting to win the 2012 elections, at first the Egyptian military fielded one of its generals and a former Mubarak cabinet minister (and the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak), Ahmed Shafik, for the position of Egyptian president. If not a Mubarak loyalist per se, Shafik was a supporter of the old regime’s political establishment that gave him and the military privileged powers. When Ahmed Shafik lost there was a delay in recognizing Morsi as the president-elect, because the military was considering rejecting the election results and instead announcing a military coup.

The High Council of the Armed Forces, which led Egypt’s military, realized that a military coup after the 2012 elections would not fare too well with the Egyptian people and could lead to an all-out rebellion against the Egyptian military’s leadership. It was unlikely that many of the lower ranking soldiers and commissioned officers would have continued to follow the orders of the Egyptian military’s corrupt upper echelons if such a coup took place. Thus, plans for a coup were aborted. Egyptian military leaders instead decided to try subordinating Egypt’s civilian government by dissolving the Egyptian Parliament and imposing a constitution that they themselves wrote to guarantee military control. Their military constitution subordinated the president’s office and Egypt’s civilian government to military management. Morsi would wait and then reinstate the Egyptian Parliament in July 2012 and then nullify the military’s constitution that limited the powers of the presidency and civilian government after he worked with the US and Qatar to pacify Hamas. Next, Morsi would order Marshall Tantawi, the head of the Egyptian military, and General Anan, the second most powerful general in the Egyptian military, into resigning—neither one was a friend of democracy or justice.

Was Morsi’s Administration Really a Muslim Brotherhood Government?

Before it was ousted, the Muslim Brotherhood faced serious structural constraints in Egypt and it made many wrong decisions. Since its electoral victory there was an ongoing power struggle in Egypt and its Freedom and Justice Party clumsily attempted to consolidate its political control over Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to consolidate power meant that it has had to live with and work with a vast array of state institutions and bodies filled with its opponents, corrupt figures, and old regime loyalists. The Freedom and Justice Party tried to slowly purge the Egyptian state of Mubarak loyalists and old regime figures, but Morsi was forced to also work with them simultaneously. This made the foundations of his government even weaker.

The situation for the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 was actually similar to the one Hamas faced in 2006 after its electoral victories in the Palestinian elections. Just as Hamas was forced by the US and its allies to accept Fatah ministers in key positions in the Palestinian government that it formed, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced to do the same unless it wanted the state to collapse and to be internationally isolated. The main difference between the two situations is that the Muslim Brotherhood seemed all too eager to comply with the US and work with segments of the old regime that would not challenge it. Perhaps this happened because the Muslim Brotherhood feared a military takeover. Regardless of what the reasons were, the Muslim Brotherhood knowingly shared the table of governance with counter-revolutionaries and criminals.

In part, Morsi’s cabinet would offer a means of continuation to the old regime. Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, Morsi’s top diplomat, was a cabinet minister under Marshal Tantawi and served in key positions as Mubarak’s ambassador to the United States and Saudi Arabia. Morsi’s cabinet would only have a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party whereas the ministerial portfolios for the key positions of the Interior Ministry, Defence Ministry, and the Suez Canal Authority would be given to Mubarak appointees from Egypt’s military and police apparatus. Abdul-Fatah Al-Sisi, Mubarak’s head of Military Intelligence who has worked closely with the US and Israel, would be promoted as the head of the Egyptian military and as Egypt’s new defence minister by Morsi. It would ironically, but not surprisingly, be Al-Sisi that would order Morsi’s arrest and ouster after extensive consultations with his American counterpart, Charles Hagel, on July 3, 2013.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama Administration: An Alliance of Convenience?

As a result of the Muslim Brotherhood’s collaboration with the US and Israel, large components of the protests in Egypt against Morsi were resoundingly anti-American and anti-Israeli. This has to do with the role that the Obama Administration has played in Egypt and the regional alliance it has formed with the Muslim Brotherhood. In part, it also has to do with the fact that Morsi’s opponents—even the ones that are collaborating with the US and Israel themselves—have capitalized on anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments by portraying Morsi as a US and Israeli puppet. In reality, both the United States and Muslim Brotherhood have tried to manipulate one another for their own gains. The Muslim Brotherhood has tried to use the Obama Administration to ascend to power whereas the Obama Administration has used the Muslim Brotherhood in America’s war against Syria and to slowly nudge the Hamas government in Gaza away from the orbit of Iran and its allies in the Resistance Bloc. Both wittingly and unwittingly, the Muslim Brotherhood in broader terms has, as an organization, helped the US, Israel, and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms try to regionally align the chessboard in a sectarian project that seeks to get Sunnis and Shias to fight one another.

Because of the Freedom and Justice Party’s power struggle against the Egyptian military and the remnants of the old regime, the Muslim Brotherhood turned to the United States for support and broke all its promises. Some can describe this as making a deal with the “Devil.” At the level of foreign policy, the Muslim Brotherhood did not do the things it said it would. It did not end the Israeli siege on the people of Gaza, it did not cut ties with Israel, and it did not restore ties with the Iranians. Its cooperation with the US allowed Washington to play the different sides inside Egypt against one another and to hedge the Obama Administration’s bets.

The Muslim Brotherhood miscalculated in its political calculus. Morsi himself proved not only to be untrustworthy, but also foolish. Washington has always favoured the Egyptian military over the Muslim Brotherhood. Like most Arab militaries, the Egyptian military has been used as an internal police force that has oppressed and suppressed its own people. Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military gives far greater guarantees about the protection of US interests in Egypt, Israel’s security, and US sway over the strategically and commercially important Suez Canal. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood had its own agenda and it seemed unlikely that it would continue to play a subordinate role to the United States and Washington was aware of this.

Revolution or Counter-Revolution?

Indeed a dangerous precedent has been set. The events in Egypt can be used in line with the same type of standard that allowed the Turkish military to subordinate democracy in Turkey for decades whenever it did not like a civilian government. The Egyptian military has taken the opportunity to suspend the constitution. It can now oversee the entire political process in Egypt, essentially with de facto veto powers. The military coup not only runs counter to the principles of democracy and is an undemocratic act, but it also marks a return to power by the old regime. Egypt’s old regime, it should be pointed out, has fundamentally always been a military regime controlled by a circle of generals and admirals that operate in collaboration with a few civilian figures in key sectors.

Things have really gone full circle in Egypt. The judiciary in Egypt is being aligned with the military or old regime again. Mubarak’s attorney-general, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, who was removed from power in November 2012 has been reinstated. The Egyptian Parliament has been dissolved again by the leaders of the High Council of the Armed Forces. President Morsi and many members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been rounded up and arrested by the military and police as enemies of the peace.

Adli (Adly) Al-Mansour, the Mubarak appointed judge that President Morsi was legally forced to appoint as the head of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, has now been appointed interim president by the High Council of the Armed Forces. Al-Mansour is merely a civilian figure head for a military junta. It is also worth noting that the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, like much of the Mubarak appointees in the Egyptian judiciary, has collaborated with the Egyptian military against the Muslim Brotherhood and tried to dissolve the Egyptian Parliament.

Mohammed Al-Baradei (El-Baradei / ElBaradei), a former Egyptian diplomat and the former director-general of the politically manipulated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has been offered the post of interim prime minister of Egypt by the military. He had returned to Egypt during the start of the so-called Arab Spring to run for office with the support of the International Crisis Group, which is an organization that is linked to US foreign policy interests and tied to the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Al-Baradei himself has been delighted every time that the Egyptian military has announced a coup; he supported a military takeover in 2011 and, to his benefit, he has supported it in 2013. Where he could not secure a position for himself through the ballot box, he has been offered a government position undemocratically through the military in 2013.

Many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters are emphasizing that an unfair media war was waged against them. The Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, Al Jazeera’s Egyptian branch which has worked as a mouth piece for the Muslim Brotherhood, has been taken off the air by the Egyptian military. This, along with the ouster of Morsi, is a sign that Qatar’s regional interests are being rolled back too. It seems Saudi Arabia, which quickly congratulated Adli Al-Mansour, is delighted, which explains why the Saudi-supported Nour Party in Egypt betray the Muslim Brotherhood. Other media linked to the Muslim Brotherhood or supportive of it have also been censored and attacked. Much of the privately owned media in Egypt was already anti-Muslim Brotherhood. Like Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb, many of these media outlets were supportive of Mubarak’s dictatorship when he was in power, but only changed their tune when he was out of power. The point, however, should not be lost that media censorship against pro-Muslim Brotherhood media outlets does not equate to democratic practice whatsoever.

The figures that have supported the military coup, in the name of democracy, are themselves no friends of democracy either. Many of these opportunists were Mubarak lackeys. For example, the so-called Egyptian opposition leader Amr Moussa was highly favoured by Hosni Mubarak and served as his foreign minister for many years. Not once did Moussa ever bother or dare to question Mubarak or his dictatorship, even when Moussa became the secretary-general of the morally bankrupt and useless Arab League.

The Egyptian Coma Will Backfire on the US Empire

Despite the media reports and commentaries, the Muslim Brotherhood was never fully in charge of Egypt or its government. It always had to share power with segments of the old regime or “Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s men.” Key players in different branches of government and state bodies from the old regime stayed in their places. Even President Morsi’s cabinet had members of the old regime. The discussions on Sharia law were predominately manipulated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s opponents primarily for outside consumption by predominantly non-Muslim countries and to rally Egypt’s Christians and socialist currents against Morsi. As for the economic problems that Egypt faced, they were the mixed result of the legacy of the old regime, the greed of Egypt’s elites and military leaders, the global economic crisis, and the predatory capitalism that the United States and European Union have impaired Egypt with. Those that blamed Morsi for Egypt’s economic problems and unemployment did so wrongly or opportunistically. His administration’s incompetence did not help the situation, but they did not create it either. Morsi was manning a sinking ship that had been economically ravaged in 2011 by foreign states and local and foreign lenders, speculators, investors, and corporations.

There was an undeniable constant effort to sabotage the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, but this does not excuse the incompetence and corruption of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their attempts at gaining international respectability by going to events such as the Clinton Global Initiative hosted by the Clinton Foundation have only helped their decline. Their hesitation at restoring ties with Iran and their antagonism towards Syria, Hezbollah, and their Palestinian allies only managed to reduce their list of friends and supporters. All too willingly the Muslim Brotherhood seemed to let itself be used by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to pacify Hamas in an attempt to de-link the Palestinians in Gaza from the Resistance Bloc. It continued the siege against Gaza and continued to destroy the tunnels used to smuggle daily supplies by the Palestinians. Perhaps it was afraid or had very little say in the matter, but it allowed Egypt’s military, security, and intelligence apparatuses to continue collaborating with Israel. Under the Muslim Brotherhood’s watch Palestinians were disappearing in Egypt and reappearing in Israeli prisons. Morsi’s government also abandoned the amnesty it had given to the Jamahiriya supporters from Libya that took refuge in Egypt.

The United States and Israel have always wanted Egypt to look inward in a pathetic state of paralysis. Washington has always tried to keep Egypt as a dependent state that would fall apart politically and economically without US assistance. It has allowed the situation in Egypt to degenerate as a means of neutralizing the Egyptians by keeping them divided and exhausted. The US, however, will be haunted by the coup against Morsi. Washington will dearly feel the repercussions of what has happened in Egypt. Morsi’s fall sends a negative message to all of America’s allies. Everyone in the Arab World, corrupt and just alike, is more aware than ever that an alliance with Washington or Tel Aviv will not protect them. Instead they are noticing that those that are aligned with the Iranians and the Russians are the ones that are standing.

An empire that cannot guarantee the security of its satraps is one that will eventually find many of its minions turning their backs on it or betraying it. Just as America’s regime change project in Syria is failing, its time in the Middle East is drawing to an end. Those who gambled on Washington’s success, like the Saudi royals, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, will find themselves on the losing side of the Middle East’s regional equation…

No one’s safe from America’s long arm. From inception, CIA operatives developed skills to kill.

Fidel Castro survived hundreds of assassination attempts. He knows best how Washington operates.

Other leaders weren’t as lucky.

In April 1994, CIA surface-to-air missiles killed Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira.

Downing their plane put Paul Kagame in power. He became Washington’s man in Rwanda. Ethnic slaughter continued what began earlier. It’s longstanding US policy. It advances America’s imperium.

Mobutu replaced Lumumba in Congo. Pinochet followed Allende in Chile. Saddam’s gone. So is Gaddafi. William Blum documented 50 CIA foreign leader assassination attempts. Half or more times were successful. Chavez perhaps was the latest.

He succumbed to cancer. For decades, America experimented with cancer causing substances. Expert technologies exist.

Assassination this and many other ways claimed lives of foreign leaders. Washington eliminated ones it wanted removed. Sometimes it was by unexplained plane crashes. Every time was state-sponsored murder.

Evo Morales had just cause to worry. EU allies yielded to US pressure. They obstructed his safe passage home from Moscow. He made an emergency landing. He had to.

He was running out of fuel. He might have crash landed. He could have died. Perhaps a CIA missile’s planned next time. Chavez knew Washington wanted him dead. Perhaps his final thought was they succeeded.

John Pilger called forcing down Morales’ plane “an act of air piracy and state terrorism.” It reflects flagrant lawlessness. “(G)angsterism” rules the world, said Pilger. Cowards and hypocrites “dare not speak its name.”

Bolivia formally complained to UN authorities. It cited EU aggression. It claimed a high altitude kidnapping. Washington was largely silent.

No explanation worth hearing was forthcoming. State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki said:

“We have been in contact with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country but I am not going to outline what those countries were or when (these contacts) happened.”

Obama bears full responsibility. He pressured EU nations to comply. Another article said they operate like US colonies. They do so disgracefully in the process.

On July 3, Bolivia Rising headlined “Faced with US aggression against Bolivian President Evo Morales, UNASUR and ALBA hold emergency meetings,” saying:

France, Spain, Italy and Portugal revoked airspace passage rights.

Morales’ plane was originally routed Moscow – Lisbon. It was done so for refueling. Hours before takeoff, Portugal revoked landing rights.

An alternate route was Moscow – Canary Islands for refueling. Doing so required overflying France and Spain.

While airborne, both countries denied use of their airspace. So did Italy. An emergency Vienna landing followed.

Austrian authorities demanded permission to search Morales’ plane. Doing so violates Vienna Convention international law. It’s fundamental. It’s inviolable. It protects diplomatic immunity.

Morales refused to comply. “I am not a delinquent,” he said. “I am a president and I learned to know and respect international law. It seems that other presidents don’t do so.”

In Vienna, he added:

“We won’t be threatened. We are a small country but with dignity.”

“I tell the European countries, we are not in times of colonization and we won’t be intimidated. This is the time of the peoples.”

Bolivian Vice President Garcia Linera added:

“(W)e saw the most shameful page of the political history of some European countries, not only because they violated international agreements but also because they have violated their own dignity as countries.”

It’s “verified that the colonies are not in America and Africa. Rather sadly, (they’re) in Europe.”

Bolivia’s UN envoy Sacha Llorenti blamed Washington. Orders came from the White House, she suggested.

“By no means should a diplomatic plane with the president aboard be diverted from its route and forced to land in another country.”

On Tuesday, angry peaceful protesters gathered outside France’s La Paz embassy.

Latin American leaders cried foul. Shakespeare explained best. They “doth protest too much, methinks.”

Public anger conceals business as usual. Affairs of state matter most. Bristling comments make good headlines.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua called it “an abuse to have put Evo Morales’ life in danger.”

“We call on all countries, above all those in Latin America and the Caribbean…to make declarations regarding this abuse.”

“The least important thing is if Snowden was on board or not. We’re talking about a presidential plane, with special licenses”

“Portugal and France should take responsibility (for their actions).  They’re a “real violation of all the norms of…immunity of a president of a republic and of the sovereignty of countries and of official flights.”

Venezuela “holds the United States government, and all the governments who have denied flight permission to the presidential plane of brother president Evo Morales accountable, for the life of president Evo Morales, for his dignity as president.”

Snowden faces an “empire which tries to control the world.”

Argentinian President Christina Kirchner called what happened “madness.”

The Havana Times headlined “Cuba Denounces Affront to Evo Morales.” It published a Ministry of Foreign Affairs Statement. It said in part:

Refusal to grant Morales overflight and landing rights “constitutes an inadmissible, unfounded and arbitrary act, an offense to all of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

It “cannot be tolerated for any reason whatsoever, an act which damages all of Our America and deserves international repudiation.”

“Cuba calls on the international community to mobilize against these violations of international law and human rights.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro twittered solidarity with Morales, saying:

“(F)rom Venezuela we will respond to this dangerous, disproportionate and unacceptable aggression.”

“I am in contact with Evo. They have violated all the international immunities that protect heads of state, because of the imperial obsession.”

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said “(w)e will not allow this affront against a Latin American leader.”

Organization of American States (OAS) secretary general Jose Miguel Insulza expressed “profound displeasure.Nothing justifies an action as disrespectful to the highest authority of a country.”

OAS operates out of Washington. Its members include 35 countries. Their deference to America is longstanding. They largely serve capital, not populist interests. They value multilateral trade relations.

They’re beholden to Washington’s economic leverage. It’s eroding. It hasn’t ended. It remains significant. It’s losing influence. Imperial dominance fades slowly.

It’s shelf life has a long way to go. Its markets are too valued to lose. Its capital has divine rights, but less so. Its military might’s too formidable to ignore.

Latin leaders rail about interventionist America. They recall earlier dark times. Despots replaced democrats. Territories were annexed. Nations became colonies.

Latin America no longer is Washington’s back yard. One day perhaps it’ll be entirely free. Maybe later. Not now. Nations able to bully others to comply have power. Changing things take unity to resist.

Breaking free matters. Countries exerting sovereign rights over subservience inspire others. Fidel did and survived. Raul’s 82.

Chavez did. He’s gone. Maduro, Morales, Correa, Cuba’s next generation, and others matter. It’s their job to free Latin America from Washington’s scourge.

Doing so involves more than rhetorical posturing. It takes fortitude. It requires supporting right over wrong. It takes action, not words. Hopefully enough regional leaders are up to the challenge.

Hopefully others will join them. Change requires they do so. Sovereign freedom’s its own reward.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/targeting-foreign-leaders-longstanding-us-practice/

The European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution that would back the Commission should it wish to suspend data sharing agreements with the U.S., such as the passenger name records system, in light of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.

By Zack Whittaker

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a joint, cross-party resolution to begin investigations into widespread surveillance of Europeans by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

In the vote, 483 voted for the resolution, 98 against, and 65 abstained on a vote that called on the U.S. to suspend and review any laws and surveillance programs that “violate the fundamental right of EU citizens to privacy and data protection,” as well as Europe’s “sovereignty and jurisdiction.”

The vote also gave backing to the suspension of data sharing deals between the two continents, should the European Commission take action against its U.S. ally.

Thursday’s plenary session highlights the strained diplomatic relationship between the EU and the U.S. over recent revelations that came to light in June.

The U.S. government faces continued criticism and pressure from its international allies following news that its intelligence agencies spied on foreign nationals under its so-called PRISM program. The U.K. government was also embroiled in the NSA spying saga, after its signals intelligence intercepting station GCHQ tapped submarine fiber optic cables under its own secret program, code named Tempora.

To read complete article click here

http://www.zdnet.com/eu-to-vote-to-suspend-u-s-data-sharing-agreements-passenger-records-amid-nsa-spying-scandal-7000017635/

CIA ‘wanted to kill Lockerbie bomber before trial’

July 6th, 2013 by Global Research News

 The Scotsman has just released an important article on the the Lockerbie bombing.

According to the authors, quoting William C Chasey’s autobiography, Truth Never Dies:

THE CIA wanted to assassinate Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and his co-accused, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, before their trial, a former Washington lobbyist has claimed.

William C Chasey, 73, made the sensational allegation in his autobiography, Truth Never Dies, which is to be turned into a film.

He claims agents tried to convince him to plant homing devices on Megrahi and Fhimah as part of the plot.

However, a former FBI chief has dismissed the claim as “nonsense”.

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over southern Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people. Megrahi, who died last year in Tripoli, was the only person convicted of the murders. Fhimah was acquitted in the 2001 trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

Mr Chasey, president of the Foundation for Corporate Social Responsibility, a non-governmental organisation, became involved with Libya and the Lockerbie investigation when he was a lobbyist in Washington.

“On behalf of business clients, I went on a lobbying mission in 1992 with a US congressman in a bid to stabilise relations between the US and [Muammar] Gaddafi’s hated regime,” he said.

Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, pictured in 1992. Picture: Getty

Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, pictured in 1992. Picture: Getty

He told how he was taken to a private meeting with the two Lockerbie accused at a house in Tripoli. “Myself and the congressman and his wife then met Gaddafi and heard his pleas for help within Washington to get sanctions lifted, and heard his claims that Libya was not involved in Lockerbie,” Mr Chasey said.

“He spoke of the death of his daughter in a US air attack on his home and appealed directly to the congressman’s wife, as a mother, to get her husband to use his influence.”

Mr Chasey claims this clandestine meeting raised suspicions at the FBI, which launched a lengthy investigation into him.

Then, in 1995, he wrote a controversial book, Foreign Agent 4221: The Lockerbie Cover-Up, which claimed Libya was not responsible for the bombing.  (The Scotsman, July 5, 2013

To read the complete article by GARETH ROSE AND BOB SMYTH , click here

http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/scotland/cia-wanted-to-kill-lockerbie-bomber-before-trial-1-2989568#.UdfoUMvFCBk.email

Copyright the Scotsman, 2013

 

How Egypt Killed Political Islam

July 6th, 2013 by Shamus Cooke

 

The rebirth of the Egyptian revolution ushered in the death of the first Muslim Brotherhood government. But some near-sighted analysts limit the events of Egypt to a military coup. Yes, the military is desperately trying to stay relevant — given the enormous initiative of the Egyptian masses — but the generals realize their own limitations in this context better than anybody. This wasn’t a mere re-shuffling at the top of society, but a flood from the bottom.  

In reality the Egyptian people had already destroyed the Morsi regime (for example government buildings had already been occupied or shut down by the people), which is why the generals intervened — the same reason they intervened against Mubarak: better to try to lead than be led by the people. But the people remain in the driver’s seat, no matter what “national salvation government” the generals try to cobble together to retain legitimacy before the Egyptian people.  

Political legitimacy — especially in times of revolution — must be earned, not assumed. Revolutionary legitimacy comes from taking bold actions to satisfy the political demands of the people: jobs, housing, public services, etc. A “democracy” that represents only Egypt’s upper crust as the Muslim Brotherhood government did, cannot emerge from a revolution and maintain itself; it was destroyed by a higher form of revolutionary democracy.

The brief, uninspiring reign of the first Muslim Brotherhood government will alter the course of Middle East history, whose modern chapter was formed, in part, by the rise of the Brotherhood. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has done the Middle East a profound favor by exposing its political and economic ideology for what it is: pro-western/capitalist economic policies that serve the IMF-dominated big banks, while preventing any real measures to address Egypt’s jobs crisis and massive inequality — itself born from previous neo-liberal privatization policies.    

What did the Brotherhood do with the corrupt state they inherited? They tried to adapt; they flirted with the Egyptian military, coddled up to the security services, and seduced the dictatorship’s primary backer, the United States. They shielded all the Mubarak criminals from facing justice.

The Brotherhood’s foreign policy was also the same as Mubarak’s, favoring Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, and favoring the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels against the Syrian government, while increasingly adopting an anti-Iran agenda. A primary financial backer of the Muslim Brotherhood government was the oil-rich monarchy of Qatar (a U.S. puppet government), who helped steer the foreign policy of the Egyptian government.  

The Muslim Brotherhood followed the same policies as the dictatorship because they serve the same elite interests. Consequently, political Islam will no longer be a goal for millions across the Middle East, who will opt for a new politics that will serve the real needs of the people of the region.  

Political Islam outside of Egypt is also being rapidly discredited across the Middle East. In Turkey the mass protests that erupted were, in part, a reaction by the youth in Turkey to the conservative political and free-market economic policies of the Islam-oriented government. 

The people of Iran recently chose the most religiously moderate of candidates to represent them, whose electoral campaign sparked an emerging mass movement.  

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has allowed itself to become a pawn of U.S. foreign policy against the Syrian government, participating in a U.S.-organized “transition government” that will take power, in theory, after the U.S.-backed rebels destroy the Syrian government. The Syrian government’s battlefield victories and the new Egyptian revolution will further set back the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. 

Political Islam was already stained by the disgraceful monarchies of the Middle East. The especially corrupt and decrepit dictatorship of Saudi Arabia has thoroughly exploited Islam, where a fundamentalist version of Sharia law is reserved for the Saudi masses, while the Saudi monarchy partakes in any kind of illegal or immoral behavior it wants. Saudi Arabia’s only source of political legitimacy is its self-portrayal as the “protector of Islam” — since the holiest Islamic cities are in Saudi Arabia. But the Ottoman Empire that was destroyed in WWI also based its legitimacy on being the “defender of Islam” — both exploited Islam for political and financial power.  

Of course, Islam is not the only religion that is exploited by elites. The ruling class of Israel defiles Judaism by using it to legitimize the state’s racist and expansionist policies. A nation-state based on religion — like Israel — implies that the non-religious minority be treated as second class citizens, while also implying that the “most devout,” i.e. most conservative religious groups, gain greater influence and are granted greater privileges by the state. 

The same is true in the United States for the Republican Party — and increasingly the Democrats — who base much of their legitimacy on a fundamentalist version of Christianity, the inevitable result of which discriminates against non-Christians, though especially Muslims.  Republicans increasingly rely on whipping up their fundamentalist Christian base against immigrants, Muslims, and homosexuals, allowing them the cover to pursue a pro-corporate and militarist foreign policy.   

In the Middle East the modern history of political Islam was birthed by the Western powers after WWII, who installed and supported monarchies across the Middle East to maintain cheap oil and subservient governments; these monarchies use a fundamentalist version of Islam as their primary source of legitimacy. 

This Islamic-exploitative policy was extended to fight the rise of the powerful pan-Arab socialist governments that favored a Soviet-style publicly-owned economy, first initiated by the still-beloved Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Retired CIA agent Robert Baer discusses this pro-Islamic/anti-Soviet dynamic in his excellent book, Sleeping With the Devil, How Washington Sold Our Soul For Saudi Crude.  

When Arab countries — like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, etc. — followed Egypt’s example in the 1960′s and later took action against the rich and western corporations, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia relied ever more strongly on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic extremists to destabilize these nations or steer their politics to the right.  

When the Muslim Brotherhood tried to assassinate Egypt’s Nasser, he used the military and state repression to destroy the organization, whose members then fled to Syria and Saudi Arabia. Then the Brotherhood tried to assassinate Syrian President Hafez al-Assad — Bashar al-Assad’s father  — who followed Nasser’s example and physically destroyed the organization. Libya’s Gaddafi and Tunisia’s Bourguiba — both popular Presidents for years — likewise took aggressive action against the Brotherhood’s own aggressive, reactionary tactics, which remained protected and nurtured by U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia. 

This policy of using radical Islamists against Soviet-allied states was extended further when the U.S. and Saudi Arabia funded, armed, and trained the groups later known as al-Qaida and the Taliban against the Soviet-allied Afghanistan government. After this “success” the same policy was applied to Yugoslavia, where the radical Islamists, known as the Kosovo Liberation Army, were funded and supported by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as they targeted the Soviet-inspired Yugoslavia government.   Now, the Saudi-backed radical Islamists are being employed against the Syrian government.  

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the semi-socialist Arab nations that depended on it for trade and support found themselves economically and politically isolated, and consequently shifted their economies towards western capitalist policies seeking injections of capital (foreign investment) and new avenues for trade.   

This transition required neo-liberal policies — especially widespread privatization schemes — that created vast inequality and unemployment, and eventually became the main economic causes of the revolutionary movements now known as the Arab Spring. Ironically, to combat their flagging popularity, these regimes lessened restrictions on the Islamic parties as a way to funnel energy away from economic demands, while also acting as a counterbalance to the political left.  

The Arab Spring toppled dictatorships but didn’t provide an organized political alternative. The Muslim Brotherhood was sucked into this vacuum, and was quickly spit out as a viable political alternative for the demands of a revolutionary Egypt and the broader Middle East.

And although the Egyptian military again holds the reins of institutional power in Egypt, it understands the people’s distrust of the post-Mubarak military, and is thus limited in its ability to act, since mass repression would further inflame the revolution and possibly fracture the army — the same way it did when former President Nasser rose to power in a junior officer’s leftist coup (a similar type of coup was attempted and failed by Hugo Chavez before he was president).  

Ultimately, the Muslim Brotherhood and other similar Islamic political organizations are not a natural expression of the religious attitudes of people in the Middle East, but instead an unnatural political creation that serves a specific geo-political agenda, specifically that of the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.  

The Egyptian people have now had the experience of political Islam and have discarded it, in the same way a tank deals with a speed bump. Now new policies must be sought based on a different political-economic ideology, until one is found that will represent the actual needs of the people.   

Until the Egyptian masses discover and organize around a platform that serves the people’s needs, a series of other governments will be constructed in an attempt to keep Egypt’s elites — and their western foreign backers — in place. These governments will be likewise tossed aside until one emerges that represents the needs of the people.   

There is a valid fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will choose to take up arms in Egypt in the same way that the Algerian Islamists triggered a civil war when the military annulled the elections they had won. The Brotherhood may say, “We tried elections and the results were denied to us.”   

But revolution is the greatest expression of democracy, and only by extending the revolution can a potential civil war between the Brotherhood and the military be averted. The power of both groups can be undercut by a revolutionary movement that fights for improving the living conditions — with concrete demands — of the majority of Egyptians. The lower ranks of both the army and the Muslim Brotherhood will sympathize with such a movement, allowing for a new direction for the country.    

Many revolutionaries in Egypt have learned a thousand political lessons in a few short years; they will not easily allow the army to usurp their power. The Egyptian revolution is the most powerful revolution in decades and has already re-shaped the Middle East. It will continue to do so until the people’s needs are met.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]  

 

The Vanishing Rights of the American Citizen

July 6th, 2013 by Larry Chin

The US Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, gutting one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in American history, and marching the country resolutely towards open fascism and authoritarianism.

With this act of the extremist Supreme Court, the disenfranchisement and silencing of the American citizen is closer to completion. Not satisfied with their previous rape of voting rights —-the illegal installation George W. Bush to the seat of world power in 2000—this cabal of corrupt political facilitators has essentially given political operatives and corporations its blessing to subvert elections at will.

Racism, race-related voter suppression, and other methods of flagrant election manipulation will be “allowed to happen”. The ability to install a chosen politician into power has become that much easier, and political change that much more impossible. Efforts to “clean up the vote”now face permanent derailment.

 Justices (or more accurately “Injustices”) Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy know that institutional racism has never been eradicated.  With a wink and a nod to their fellow Washington colleagues, they know that a gridlocked Congress—dominated by fellow right-wing extremists and bipartisan consensus corporatists—will not undo the damage they just caused.For all of them, the Constitution is a piece of waste paper.

For the Washington consensus, and particularly right wing extremist Tea Party fanatics, this coup is a cause for celebration. Consider every US election in the future already stolen.Or perhaps more accurately, pre-emptively seized for corporate power.

What must be understood is that the destruction of this fundamental liberty is no isolated act by the Supreme Court. There is a long-term agenda that is being hammered out, and it does not include the preservation of civil rights. It certainly does not include protecting or preserving democracy.

The United States has been in a state of emergency since 9/11/01. This state of emergency is permanent. The Patriot Act is eternal. War is endless.

As detailed by Michael C. Ruppert in Crossing the Rubicon, the attacks of 9/11and the Patriot Act sounded the death knell for civil liberties. As he noted, “thousands of times per day, in the discourse of public officials and candidates, in the media and on the street, America is exalted as the land of the free. While the truth of the matter was never quite as simple as that, the decades when this sentiment had a real basis in fact and in law are long gone”. Gone, or in the process of being eliminated, are the rights of association, information, speech, privacy, protest, legal representation, a free press, and freedom from unreasonable searches—among many others.

Recent events merely serve as reminders of what has already been lost.A police state already flourishes within US borders. As the Edward Snowden affair rudely underscores, the NSA and the CIA have the world under surveillance, but on a scale and depth even beyond Snowden’s own whistleblowing revelations.  As demonstrated by the mobilization of force in the wake of the Boston bombing, the country can be locked down the moment there is an order from the Homeland Security apparatus.

This is how an empire in decline, facing world resource scarcity and the sunset of its global petroleum-based system, maintains control.

This is how a militarized national security and war machine keeps its citizens monitored and surveilled, shackled, and pacified.

And without a vote, politically silenced.

 

A trend to shift responsibility for bank losses onto blameless depositors lets banks gamble away your money.

When Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters on March 13, 2013, that the Cyprus deposit confiscation scheme would be the template for future European bank bailouts, the statement caused so much furor that he had to retract it. But the “bail in” of depositor funds is now being made official EU policy. On June 26, 2013, The New York Times reported that EU finance ministers have agreed on a plan that shifts the responsibility for bank losses from governments to bank investors, creditors and uninsured depositors.

Insured deposits (those under €100,000, or about $130,000) will allegedly be “fully protected.” But protected by whom? The national insurance funds designed to protect them are inadequate to cover another system-wide banking crisis, and the court of the European Free Trade Association ruled in the case of Iceland that the insurance funds were not intended to cover that sort of systemic collapse.

Shifting the burden of a major bank collapse from the blameless taxpayer to the blameless depositor is another case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, while the real perpetrators carry on with their risky, speculative banking schemes.

Shuffling the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Although the bail-in template did not hit the news until it was imposed on Cyprus in March 2013, it is a global model that goes back to a directive from the Financial Stability Board (an arm of the Bank for International Settlements) dated October 2011, endorsed at the G20 summit in December 2011. In 2009, the G20 nations agreed to be regulated by the Financial Stability Board; and bail-in policies have now been established for the US, UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, among other countries. (See earlier articles here and here.)

The EU bail-in plan, which still needs the approval of the European Parliament, would allow European leaders to dodge something they evidently regret having signed, the agreement known as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who played a leading role in imposing the deposit confiscation plan on Cyprus, said on March 13 that “the aim is for the ESM never to have to be used.”

Passed with little publicity in January 2012, the ESM imposes an open-ended debt on EU member governments, putting taxpayers on the hook for whatever the ESM’s overseers demand. Two days before its ratification on July 1, 2012, the agreement was modified to make the permanent bailout fund cover the bailout of private banks. It was a bankers’ dream – a permanent, mandated bailout of private banks by governments.  But EU governments are now balking at that heavy commitment.

In Cyprus, the confiscation of depositor funds was not only approved but mandated by the EU, along with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF. They told the Cypriots that deposits below €100,000 in two major bankrupt banks would be subject to a 6.75 percent levy or “haircut,” while those over €100,000 would be hit with a 9.99 percent “fine.” When the Cyprus national legislature overwhelming rejected the levy, the insured deposits under €100,000 were spared; but it was at the expense of the uninsured deposits, which took a much larger hit, estimated at about 60 percent of the deposited funds.

The Elusive Promise of Deposit Insurance

 While the insured depositors escaped in Cyprus, they might not fare so well in a bank collapse of the sort seen in 2008-09. As Anne Sibert, Professor of Economics at the University of London, observed in an April 2nd article on VOX:

Even though it wasn’t adopted, the extraordinary proposal that small depositors should lose a part of their savings – a proposal that had the approval of the Eurogroup, ECB and IMF policymakers – raises the question: Is there any credible protection for small-bank depositors in Europe?

She noted that members of the European Economic Area (EEA) – which includes the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland – are required to set up deposit-insurance schemes covering most depositors up to €100,000, and that these schemes are supposed to be funded with premiums from the individual country’s banks.  But the enforceability of the EEA insurance mandate came into question when the Icelandic bank Icesave failed in 2008. The matter was taken to the court of the European Free Trade Association, which said that Iceland did not breach EEA directives on deposit guarantees by not compensating U.K. and Dutch depositors holding Icesave accounts. The reason: “The court accepted Iceland’s argument that the EU directive was never meant to deal with the collapse of an entire banking system.” Sibert comments:

[T]he precedents set in Cyprus and Iceland show that deposit insurance is only a legal commitment for small bank failures. In systemic crises, these are more political than legal commitments, so the solvency of the insuring government matters.

The EU can mandate that governments arrange for deposit insurance, but if funding is inadequate to cover a systemic collapse, taxpayers will again be on the hook; and if they are unwilling or unable to cover the losses (as occurred in Cyprus and Iceland), we’re back to the unprotected deposits and routine bank failures and bank runs of the 19th century.

In the US, deposit insurance faces similar funding problems. As of June 30, 2011, the FDIC deposit insurance fund had a balance of only $3.9 billion to provide loss protection on $6.54 trillion of insured deposits. That means every $10,000 in deposits was protected by only $6 in reserves. The FDIC fund could borrow from the Treasury, but the Dodd-Frank Act (Section 716) now bans taxpayer bailouts of most speculative derivatives activities; and these would be the likely trigger of a 2008-style collapse.

Derivatives claims have “super-priority” in bankruptcy, meaning they take before all other claims. In the event of a major derivatives bust at JPMorgan Chase or Bank of America, both of which hold derivatives with notional values exceeding $70 trillion, the collateral is liable to be gone before either the FDIC or the other “secured” depositors (including state and local governments) get to the front of the line. (See here and here.)

Who Should Pay?

Who should bear the loss in the event of systemic collapse? The choices currently on the table are limited to taxpayers and bank creditors, including the largest class of creditor, the depositors. Imposing the losses on the profligate banks themselves would be more equitable , but if they have gambled away the money, they simply won’t have the funds. The rules need to be changed so that they cannot gamble the money away.

One possibility for achieving this is area-wide regulation. Sibert writes:

[I]t is unreasonable to expect the area as a whole to bail out a particular country’s banks unless it can also supervise that country’s banks. This is problematic for the EEA or even the EU, but it may be possible – at least in the Eurozone – when and if [a] single supervisory mechanism comes into being.

A single regulatory agency for all Eurozone banks is being negotiated; but even if it were agreed to, the US experience with the Dodd-Frank regulations imposed on US banks shows that regulation alone is inadequate to curb bank speculation and prevent systemic risk. In a July 2012 article in The New York Times titled “Wall Street Is Too Big to Regulate,” Gar Alperovitz observed:

With high-paid lobbyists contesting every proposed regulation, it is increasingly clear that big banks can never be effectively controlled as private businesses.  If an enterprise (or five of them) is so large and so concentrated that competition and regulation are impossible, the most market-friendly step is to nationalize its functions.

The Nationalization Option

Nationalization of bankrupt, systemically-important banks is not a new idea. It was done very successfully, for example, in Norway and Sweden in the 1990s. But having the government clean up the books and then sell the bank back to the private sector is an inadequate solution. Economist Michael Hudson maintains:

Real nationalization occurs when governments act in the public interest to take over private property. . . . Nationalizing the banks along these lines would mean that the government would supply the nation’s credit needs. The Treasury would become the source of new money, replacing commercial bank credit. Presumably this credit would be lent out for economically and socially productive purposes, not merely to inflate asset prices while loading down households and business with debt as has occurred under today’s commercial bank lending policies. 

Anne Sibert proposes another solution along those lines. Rather than imposing losses on either the taxpayers or the depositors, they could be absorbed by the central bank, which would have the power to simply write them off. As lender of last resort, the central bank (the ECB or the Federal Reserve) can create money with computer entries, without drawing it from elsewhere or paying it back to anyone.

That solution would allow the depositors to keep their deposits and would save the taxpayers from having to pay for a banking crisis they did not create. But there would remain the problem of “moral hazard” – the temptation of banks to take even greater risks when they know they can dodge responsibility for them. That problem could be avoided, however, by making the banks public utilities, mandated to operate in the public interest. And if they had been public utilities in the first place, the problems of bail-outs, bail-ins, and banking crises might have been averted altogether.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including Web of Debt and its recently-published sequel The Public Bank Solution. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com, http://PublicBankSolution.com, and http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.

No Hope On The Jobs Front: Rising Unemployment in America

July 5th, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Do you remember the promise of the New Economy that was going to replace the lost “dirty fingernail” manufacturing jobs with innovative highly paid New Economy jobs? Well, the promise was just another deception from the elites who have stolen Americans’ future.

For the umpteenth consecutive month and year, the June BLS payroll jobs report (released on July 5) shows that the US economy has created no such jobs. The same old tired categories account for the same old lowly paid new domestic service jobs.

Of the 195,000 new private sector jobs alleged to have been created, 75,000 or 38% are accounted for by the category “leisure and hospitality.” Within this category there were 52,000 new waitresses and bartenders, and 19,000 jobs in “amusements gambling, and recreation.”

Retail trade added 37,000 employees. Is your local shopping center that busy?

Wholesale trade added 11,000.

Zero Hedge points out that the retail and wholesale jobs numbers seem inconsistent with the latest report from the Institute of Supply Management, which shows a sharp drop in new order components and business activity.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-07-03/non-manufacturing-ism-crashes-lowest-february-2010-new-orders-devastated-july-2009-l

Perhaps the New Economy’s inefficiency requires more people to sell less.

Professional and business services added, allegedly, 53,000 jobs, which are largely building management services, janitors, employment services, and temporary help.

Ambulatory health care services added 13,000 jobs.

Financial activities allegedly added 17,000 jobs despite the Bank of America moving its property appraisals to India.

http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/morning-edition/2013/07/bank-of-america-routing-property.html?ana=lnk 

Local government, despite severe budget cuts, added 13,000 jobs.

The BLS news release points out that the number of involuntary part-time workers (the number of people who are unable to find full-time jobs or whose hours were cut back) increased by 322,000 in June to 8.2 million.

This deplorable report provided the cover for the market riggers to take the stock market up and the gold market down. Remember that economic theory about “rational markets”? Another deception.

It is a bedrock principle of our system of justice that everyone who is charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. That includes “high-value detainees” awaiting trial in Guantánamo’s military commissions. Yet pre-trial hearings held June 17-21 in the cases of five men charged with planning the 9/11 attacks revealed a clear presumption of guilt on the part of the government.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak bin ‘Attash, Ramzi bin al Shaibah, Ammar al Baluch, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi have been charged with crimes for which they could be sentenced to death. Regardless of the emotions surrounding the terrorist attacks, these defendants must be treated fairly, in accordance with the law.

The issues litigated in the hearings included undue influence exerted on the military commission by political leaders, defects in the charging process, government violation of the attorney-client privilege, the right of the accused to exculpatory evidence in the hands of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the exclusion of the accused from some pre-trial hearings. Judge James Pohl, who presides over these cases, took the motions under advisement. That means he postponed ruling on them until later. Although one defendant filed a motion to prevent the government from force-feeding him, that motion was not heard.

Undue influence in the charging process

Defense attorneys argued that high government officials exerted undue influence on the charging of their clients. The Military Commissions Act (MCA) expressly prohibits “any person” from unlawfully influencing or coercing the action of a military commission. Yet top US officials proclaimed the guilt of some of the defendants before they were charged and their cases set for trial in the military commissions. President George W. Bush made more than 30 public statements directly implicating Khalid Shaikh Mohammad in the 9/11 attacks; some of Bush’s statements also named Ramzi bin al Shaibah and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer made similar statements.  President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Attorney General Eric Holder referred to the defendants as “terrorists.” Holder named all five defendants as “9/11 conspirators.” Obama and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs specifically referred to Mohammad, as did Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). The guilt of the defendants, all of whom face the death penalty, was pre-determined. 

Defects in the charging process

Mohammed al Qahtani was charged in 2008 along with the five defendants in the present case. But Susan Crawford, the former Convening Authority (CA) – who decides whether and what to charge against defendants in military commissions – determined that al Qahtani’s case should not be referred for prosecution. The CA found that “[w]e tortured [Mohammed al] Qahtani … His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution. 

 Torture of the present defendants may well have affected the decision to charge them as well, and particularly, whether to seek the death penalty (capital charges). CA Adm. Bruce MacDonald testified that a capital referral was not a foregone conclusion. But defense counsel were prevented from effectively developing that information.

 The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution assures the right to effective assistance of counsel when the government is considering whether to pursue the death penalty. Yet the period preceding the formal charging of these defendants was replete with insurmountable obstacles to “learned counsel,” making their assignment meaningless. Under the MCA, defendants have the right to learned counsel, who are learned in applicable law relating to capital cases, to ensure defendants are effectively represented. But several roadblocks to their representation rendered their assignment mere window-dressing.

 Learned counsel were denied timely security clearances, so they were unable to meet with their clients or read 1,500 pages of classified documents. The denial of access to the clients damaged the attorney-client relationship and prevented the defense from building rapport, which is essential in eliciting from the accused facts and circumstances that could lessen his culpability or establish actual innocence.

Because professionals known as “mitigation specialists” were also denied security clearances, they, too, could not meet with the accused to assist in the gathering of information the defense could submit to prevent their clients from being charged with the death penalty. According to American Bar Association Guidelines, a mitigation specialist is considered: “an indispensable member of the defense team throughout all capital proceedings. Mitigation specialists possess clinical and information-gathering skills and training that most lawyers simply do not have.”

Furthermore, the accused were denied qualified and security-cleared translators, and one defendant had no case investigator until weeks before the charges were referred to the commission. Finally, there was a total obstruction of privileged attorney-client communications.

Thus, counsel were stymied in their efforts to effectively communicate with their clients about their detention, interrogation and torture by the US government, life history, current and past mental statuses, current location of their family, and the whereabouts of any educational, medical, or other records.

 Government violation of the attorney-client privilege and interference with the right to counsel

 The attorney-client privilege is the oldest privilege for confidential communications in the common law.  Yet defense attorneys are prevented from bringing written work product to client meetings without revealing the contents to the government, unless they are signed or written by the defense team. Counsel are forced to rely on their memories to discuss complex legal issues.

Because of the government’s ongoing interference with the attorney-client privilege, bin ‘Attash had not received written privileged communication from his defense counsel from October 2011 until May 2012, when counsel filed a motion barring invasion of attorney-client communications. This caused “profound damage to the relationship between Mr. bin ‘Attash and his counsel.”

In addition, prison authorities established a “privilege team” to screen items prisoners could have in their cells to prevent their possession of “informational contraband”(which is given such a broad definition it could include media reports on efforts to close Guantánamo). But the review team includes intelligence agents, and they need not keep the information confidential.

 Lawyers are forbidden from talking about “historical perspectives or [having] discussions of jihadist activities” or “information about current or former detention personnel” with their clients. Thus, Mohammad’s lawyer cannot ask his client why he may have plotted against the United States or who might have tortured him in the CIA black sites. Al Baluchi’s attorney is precluded from comparing his client’s alleged role in the offense with conspirators in other acts of terrorism who have and have not faced the death penalty. This is a serious interference with the defendant’s ability to present a defense.

 Judge Pohl will likely issue new rules regarding attorney-client communications as early as this month.

 Defense right to material in possession of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC is an independent, neutral and impartial humanitarian organization. The Geneva Conventions contain a mandate for the ICRC to provide protection and assistance to victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. ICRC’s confidential information must be kept confidential. All recipients of ICRC reports, including US authorities, are obligated to protect and abide by ICRC’s confidentiality. They are precluded from disclosing any confidential information in judicial or other legal proceedings.

Since 2002, the ICRC has visited detainees at Guantánamo. The ICRC engages in a confidential dialogue with the government about the conditions of confinement at Guantánamo. It also engages in confidential private interviews with detainees. The ICRC maintains its access, and its status of neutrality, because it guarantees confidentiality. But the ICRC can decide to turn over some of its material at its discretion.

The defense made a motion to compel the government to produce all correspondence between the ICRC and the Department of Defense regarding the conditions of confinement of the accused, including all ICRC reports, records and memoranda.

The prosecution argued “somewhat presumptuously” (in the ICRC’s words) that it should be able to review all confidential ICRC material to determine what should be provided to the defense.

There is a tension between the ICRC’s insistence on confidentiality, the government’s security concerns and the defendants’ right to exculpatory evidence under the Due Process Clause. The Supreme Court ruled in Brady v. Maryland that prosecutors must disclose materially exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession to the defense. That includes any evidence that goes toward negating a defendant’s guilt, that would reduce a defendant’s potential sentence, or evidence bearing on the credibility of a witness. Moreover, defense counsel argued that since this is a death case, there should be more favorable procedures for the defense. The prospect of an execution, without full disclosure of mitigating evidence, would shock a foreign government as much, if not more than, the provision of ICRC materials.

 Exclusion of accused during closed pretrial hearings

Defense counsel objected to the exclusion of their clients during closed pretrial proceedings. The prosecution maintained that defendants must be excluded from hearings in which classified material is discussed. The MCA guarantees the right of the accused to be present at all hearings unless he is disruptive or during deliberations. The defense argued that defendants should be allowed to attend hearings in which classified information is discussed, if the information came from the accused himself. For example, Mohammad’s attorney wants his client to be present when they discuss his torture. The government waterboarded Mohammad 183 times at the CIA black site. Hearings were held from which the accused were excluded.

Motion to prevent force-feeding

Learned counsel for Hawsawi filed a motion to prevent the government from force-feeding his client, or in the alternative, to be notified in advance and given an opportunity to be heard before any force-feeding is employed. Hawsawi has been participating in the hunger strike at Guantánamo, but has not yet been force-fed. His counsel argued that “Mr. Hawsawi has been peacefully protesting by refusing food, on and off, for months now. Given his slender build and already relatively low body weight, it is entirely plausible that forced feeding is imminent.” This motion was not argued at the hearings because the judge found it premature, as Hawsawi is not being force-fed yet.

Of the 166 detainees remaining at Guantánamo, 104 are participating in the hunger strike, and 44 are being force-fed. The written procedures refer to force-feeding as “re-feeding.” Although they contain a few redactions (material blacked out), the pages that describe the procedure for “re-feeding” are totally redacted.

 In 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Commission concluded that the violent force-feeding of detainees at Guantánamo amounted to torture. The Obama administration is also violently force-feeding detainees. The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment found that “improper coercive involuntary feedings” were being undertaken with “physically forced nasogastric tube feedings of detainees who were completely restrained.” Boston University Professor George Annas, who co-authored a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine, characterized the method of force-feeding being used on Democracy NOW!, as a “very violent type of force-feeding.” The American Medical Association and the World Medical Association have declared that force-feeding should not be used on a prisoner who is competent to refuse food.

On May 1, 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights wrote to the US government:

[I]t is unjustifiable to engage in forced feeding of individuals contrary to their informed and voluntary refusal of such a measure. Moreover, hunger strikers should be protected from all forms of coercion, even more so when this is done through force and in some cases through physical violence. Health care personnel may not apply undue pressure of any sort on individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike. Nor is it acceptable to use threats of forced feeding or other types of physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have voluntarily decided to go on a hunger strike.

Four detainees filed a motion in a Washington DC federal court on June 30 to stop them from being force-fed and force-medicated with Reglan, a drug that can cause severe neurological disorders. Reprieve brought the motion on behalf of Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab, Ahmed Belbacha and Abu Wa’el Dhiab, all of whom have been cleared for release from Guantanamo.

Looking ahead

 Trials in these cases will not begin before 2015. President Obama should halt all military commission proceedings and announce that the trials will be held in federal civilian courts, which have shown they are more than capable of prosecuting terrorism cases. As demonstrated in both this piece and the one I wrote about al Nashiri’s pretrial hearings, justice is impossible to achieve in military commissions, where guilt is a foregone conclusion.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her most recent book is The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse. Her next book, Drones and Targeted Killing, will be published in 2014 by University of California Press.

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17367-five-high-value-guantanamo-detainees-improperly-presumed-guilty

L’avventura siriana del ex-presidente Morsi

July 5th, 2013 by Ahmed Bensaada

25 de Giugno 2013

Gli Egittologi ci raccontano che il faraone Amenofi II, figlio del grande Tutmosi III, fu costretto a domare una ribellione ai confini dell’attuale Siria. Schiacciata la rivolta, rientrò trionfalmente con migliaia di prigionieri, tra cui sette principi siriani che aveva personalmente giustiziato con la sua clava. Ne attaccò i corpi alla prua del vascello e li portò fino a Tebe (oggi Luxor), dove sei di essi furono esposti sulle mura del tempio di Karnak. Il corpo del settimo sventurato venne portato fino in Nubia e subì la medesima sorte atroce dei suoi compatrioti “per servire di esempio ai principi etiopi e per insegnar loro a rispettare l’autorità del padrone” (1)

Molti secoli dopo, il presidente Morsi si ritrova in una situazione analoga. Avrebbe ben voluto condurre una spedizione punitiva contro il presidente Bachar, portare il suo cadavere insieme a quello di qualcuno dei suoi familiari, per esibirli come trofeo di guerra in piazza Tahrir. Navigando lungo le anse del suo mitico fiume, sarebbe poi disceso verso sud, portando con sé i resti del presidente siriano, avrebbe attraversato la frontiera e raggiunto le rive lontane del lago Tana, dove nasce il Nilo bleu, per mostrare agli Etiopi chi è il vero padrone delle acque del Nilo.

Ma non è Amenofi. Il presidente Morsi eccelle più nel campo del gesticolare che in quello dell’audacia.

Infatti, dopo la sua elezione, si è applicato a sostenere gli insorti siriani, sperando di avere rapidamente la “testa” del presidente Bachar, che avrebbe tanto voluto “appuntare” sul suo misero bilancio presidenziale e, nello stesso tempo, rendere un servizio ai suoi finanziatori, alla confraternita del Fratelli Mussulmani di cui fa parte e agli islamisti egiziani di diverse sensibilità. Dall’altro lato, tenta di mostrare le “unghie” alla “cattiva” Etiopia, che pretende la sua parte di acque del Nilo, ignorando i vecchi trattati che considera obsoleti. Da questo punto di vista, il discorso esplicitamente guerrafondaio del presidente egiziano e dei suoi sostenitori islamisti è, non solo sorprendente da parte di leader di un paese dell’importanza dell’Egitto, ma non si addice affatto alle regole elementari di una diplomazia responsabile ed efficace.

 

Il presidente Mohamed Morsi durante il dibattito sull’Etiopia

 

 

Bassem Youssef fa la parodia di questa riunione scandalosa
A dire il vero, Morsi non ha niente a che vedere con Amenofi, stando alle numerose gaffe politiche che ha commesso durante il suo primo anno di magistratura, tanto che alcuni giornalisti si sono interrogati sulle sue “capacità di uomo di Stato” (2). Senza contare gli indecorosi comportamenti durante le visite ufficiali (3) o altre caratteristiche personali, ancora più imbarazzanti per l’etichetta e l’aura presidenziale, perfino di un paese come l’Egitto (4).


Comportamenti assai sgarbati del presidente Morsi in presenza di Julia Gilard, primo ministro australiano

E’ importante notare, d’altra parte, che tra i paesi della regione che aiutano attivamente la ribellione siriana e che hanno come unica opzione politica l’annientamento del presidente Bachar, la stampa internazionale è solita menzionare il Qatar, l’Arabia Saudita o la Turchia. Molto più raramente viene citato l’Egitto, nonostante che le posizioni dei suoi leader “post-primavera” siano intransigenti quanto quelli degli altri paesi, forse di più.
Come gli “Undici di Atene” che svolgevano al contempo il ruolo di poliziotti e magistrati nell’antica città greca, undici paesi si sono riuniti a Doha il 21 giungo 2013 per “coordinare l’aiuto ai ribelli siriani” (5). Accanto a cinque paesi occidentali membri del G8 (Stati Uniti, Francia, Regno Unito, Germania e Italia), erano presenti: il Qatar, l’Arabia Saudita, la Turchia, la Giordania, gli Emirati Arabi Uniti e, ovviamente, l’Egitto. Secondo alcune fonti, solo la Germania e l’Italia non sono stati d’accordo sugli aiuti militari agli insorti siriani (6).

 

Riunione degli “Undici” a Doha (21 giugno 2013)

Qualche giorno prima di questa riunione dei “veri” Amici della Siria (gli amici “tout court” erano assai più numerosi in occasione degli incontri precedenti), il presidente Morsi ha annunciato la rottura “definitiva” delle relazioni diplomatiche del suo paese con la Siria e ha “esortato la comunità internazionale a istituire una zona di esclusione aerea in Siria per dare aiuto ai ribelli contro le forze governative” (7). Ricordiamo in proposito che perfino l’amministrazione Obama aveva respinto questa idea, giudicandola inadatta alla situazione siriana (8).
Questa decisione, annunciata il 15 giugno 2013 da Morsi in uno stadio del Cairo davanti a un parterre di islamisti suoi sostenitori, è di fatto un ulteriore elemento-chiave della sua politica di appoggio senza riserve agli oppositori siriani.

 

Morsi rompe le relazioni diplomatiche dell’Egitto con la Siria
Il presidente egiziano non ha mai cambiato rotta dopo il suo accesso alla magistratura suprema. Fin dal suo discorso di investitura del 30 giugno 2012 all’Università del Cairo, subito dopo avere prestato giuramento come primo presidente egiziano eletto. Aveva allora dichiarato: “Noi sosteniamo il popolo siriano. Noi vogliamo che cessi lo spargimento di sangue” (9).
Con “popolo siriano” intendeva “ribellione siriana” e la storia ci ha mostrato che mai è stato versato tanto sangue siriano come dopo queste dichiarazioni.
Parlano le cifre: dall’agosto 2012 (vale a dire poche settimane dopo il discorso di investitura di Morsi) ad oggi, il numero delle vittime siriane è cresciuto da 25.000 (10) e 93.000, e quello dei rifugiati da 200.000 a più di 1,6 milioni (11). Come in questo genere di conflitti è la popolazione civile a essere più esposta, va da sé che la politica estera del presidente “fratellista” è catastrofica almeno quanto quella che vanta in politica interna. In un anno Morsi è riuscito a creare un clima di insoddisfazione popolare generalizzato, come dimostrano i milioni di firme raccolte sotto una petizione popolare che invoca le sue dimissioni (12).
Desiderando assumere la leadership del controllo sulla ribellione siriana, Morsi e la sua amministrazione hanno favorito la creazione al Cairo del Consiglio per la rivoluzione siriana (CRS), un nuovo gruppo di costituito da oppositori siriani. Creato solo un mese dopo l’investitura del presidente egiziano, il CRS avrebbe dovuto costituire una alternativa al Consiglio Nazionale Siriano (CNS), che all’epoca era agitato da dissensi interni (13), e formare un governo siriano in esilio al Cairo (14). Fortemente criticata dall’ESL (Esercito Siriano Libero, la milizia dei “ribelli”), questa iniziativa non ha avuto l’effetto sperato e i segreti disegni di Morsi non hanno superato lo stato embrionale.
Morsi ha anche usato tribune internazionali per esporre la sua “politica siriana”. Così, in occasione del 16° summit dei Paesi non Allineati, tenuto a Teheran alla fine di agosto 2012, egli ha provocato un incidente diplomatico, denunciando “il regime oppressivo” siriano davanti ai rappresentanti dei 110 paesi partecipanti. Irritata dal tenore del discorso di Morsi, la delegazione siriana ha abbandonato l’assemblea (15).

 

Morsi al 16° summit dei Paesi non Allineati

 

Pochi giorni prima, l’amministrazione semipubblica dell’operatore satellitare di comunicazioni egiziano, Nilesat, aveva deciso di non ritrasmettere i programmi delle televisioni statali siriane, ufficialmente a richiesta della Lega Araba (16). Naturalmente una tanto rapida e severa sanzione non avrebbe potuto farsi senza l’approvazione e l’entusiasmo del governo egiziano.

In proposito occorre riconoscere che gli islamisti egiziani in generale, e i Fratelli Mussulmani in particolare, hanno la memoria corta. Nel 2008, sotto il “regno” di Mubarak, il canale satellitare Al-Hiwar, (assai) vicino alla confraternita, era stato anch’esso oscurato da Nilesat (17). La decisione era stata assunta dai vertici del governo dell’epoca che consideravano l’emittente molto critica nei loro confronti. La misura era stata peraltro presa in coincidenza con le dichiarazioni di Jamal Mubarak (figlio dell’ex presidente), che bollava alcune emittenti come “partigiane e impegnate a arrecare danno all’Egitto” (18).
E quale era stata la reazione dei Fratelli Mussulmani? Sul loro sito è possibile leggere ancora: “L’oscuramento dell’emittente Al-Hiwar da parte di Nilesat contraddice tuti i valori e le logiche professionali” (19). Non vale lo stesso per i canali siriani? Soprattutto se si tenga conto dell’onnipresenza dei dissidenti siriani nei programmi delle televisioni egiziane e del black-out totale sulle informazioni provenienti dal governo siriano.
Dopo il passo un po’ azzardato della creazione del CRS, l’Egitto ha ripreso l’iniziativa durante la conferenza di Doha del novembre 2012.  L’incontro aveva partorito col forcipe una “Coalizione nazionale dell’opposizione siriana”, che avrebbe dovuto raggruppare le diverse fazioni dell’opposizione siriana in un organismo molto più federatore del CNS. Pur esprimendo molte riserve su questa nuova entità (20), l’Egitto si è impegnato a offrirgli ospitalità e accogliere il suo Quartier Generale al Cairo (21). Per restare sempre sulla scena in rapporto al dossier siriano.
Intervistato dalla CNN nel gennaio 2013, Morsi ha accusato Bachar di crimini di guerra contro il suo popolo (22). Occorre ricordare che era stato lo stesso presidente egiziano a inviare, qualche mese prima, delle lettere molto calorose al presidente israeliano Shimon Peres, definendolo “caro e grande amico” e “amico fedele” (23), dopo tutti i massacri perpetrati dallo stato ebraico contro i Palestinesi. E che era stato sempre Morsi a dire che “gli ebrei sono sanguisughe, discendenti da porci e scimmie” nel 2000, quando non era ancora presidente. (24)

 


Morsi alla CNN

 


Dichiarazione di Morsi sugli ebrei nel 2010

Nonostante l’inesorabile aggravamento della situazione economica e finanziaria dell’Egitto (25), Morsi e il suo governo si sono impegnati ad aiutare finanziariamente la ribellione siriana (26) durante il recente incontro degli “Undici”.

Questa strategia è stata aspramente criticata in Egitto. Qualcuno è convinto che Morsi utilizzi il dramma siriano per sviare l’attenzione dai problemi economici complessi, mentre altri pensano trattarsi di una vera e propria dichiarazione di guerra (27).
Il giornalista egiziano Moustafa Bakri ha scritto che “questa posizione, che riflette quella della presidenza, costituisce una esplicita ammissione che i leader egiziani sono coinvolti nella guerra contro la Siria e che sostengono ufficialmente l’invio e la presa in carico di combattenti, fornendo loro un salvacondotto per quando rientreranno nel paese” (28).
Da parte sua, il Movimento 6 aprile, punta di lancia della contestazione anti-Mubarak, ha ritenuto che la rottura delle relazioni con la Siria dimostra la mancanza di visione politica da parte del presidente, “dal momento che la situazione in Siria è complicata e richiede prima di tutto delle decisioni che pongano fine al bagno di sangue”(29).
Bisogna riconoscere che la linea adottata da Morsi e dal suo governo non è per niente ispirata all’interesse dell’Egitto, ma piuttosto a quello della Confraternita dei Fratelli Mussulmani. I loro agganci ideologici con i ribelli siriani sunniti, la loro sete di vendetta nei confronti delle atrocità commesse da Assad padre contro i Fratelli Mussulmani siriani, le loro relazioni privilegiate con il Qatar, gran “tesoriere” dei movimenti islamisti, i loro legami fraterni con lo sceicco Youssef Al-Qardaoui, redattore capo delle fatwa per la jihad in Siria e predicatore-vedette dell’emirato del Qatar e, infine, il loro desiderio di piacere ad ogni costo all’amministrazione statunitense per potersi mantenere al potere, sono queste le grandi linee che spiegano la loro strategia nel dossier siriano.
Ma dov’è allora questa volontà di lavorare  affinché cessi lo spargimento di sangue siriano? E chi si ricorda che ai tempi del presidente Nasser, considerato dai Fratelli Mussulmani come uno dei loro peggiori nemici, l’Egitto e la Siria formavano un solo paese?
Lo stesso è nella politica interna. Morsi e il suo governo mettono in primo piano la loro appartenenza alla confraternita e il loro desiderio di “fratellizzare” la vita politica del paese li ha spinti a fare nomine controverse. Dei 27 governatorati egiziani, dieci sono attualmente guidati da Fratelli Mussulmani (30). A Luxor, la mitica Tebe, perla del turismo egiziano, è Adel Mohamed Al-Khayat, ex capo del gruppo islamista radicale Jamaa el-Islamiya, ad essere stato nominato governatore. Nel 1997 questa organizzazione terrorista aveva rivendicato un attentato perpetrato a Luxor. Bilancio: 62 morti (58 turisti e 4 Egiziani), alcuni dei quali selvaggiamente finiti all’arma bianca. L’incontenibile protesta suscitata da una simile nomina ha costretto il governatore di fresca nomina (ed ex terrorista) alle dimissioni (31).

 

Graffiti che accusano il governatore di Luxor di essere un terrorista
Attualmente l’opposizione egiziana sembra galvanizzata dalla gigantesca manifestazione che sta organizzando per il 30 giugno 2013, per chiedere le dimissioni del presidente Morsi ed elezioni anticipate. Inizialmente presa alla leggera dalla confraternita, tale avvenimento, che coincide col primo anniversario della presidenza Morsi, comincia ora a preoccuparla seriamente. Potrà resistere a questo ultimo colpo?

 

Campagna “Tamarrod” (Ribellione)

Trascrizione: “Tamarrod anticipa i tempi per impedire a Morsi di cominciare il suo secondo anno di presidenza”
Frutto del leggendario senso dell’humor egiziano, una battuta ha imperversato in rete dopo la controversa decisione del presidente Morsi: “Felicitazioni al popolo siriano! Morsi ha rotto le relazioni diplomatiche con voi. Speriamo che il 30 giugno le rompa anche con noi!”
In questo caso particolare, e a cagione del fatto che non assomiglia affatto ad Amenofi II, Morsi seguirà le orme di Amenhotep VII, il cui regno durò un solo anno. Nonostante ciò si può leggere sulla stele eretta nel tempio di Karnak: “Io sono il re a Tebe” (32).

 

morsiL’aventure syrienne de l’ex-président Morsi

Italiano : http://www.ossin.org/

 

Riferimenti:

1. Gaston Maspero, « Histoire ancienne des peuples de l’Orient », Hachette, Paris, (1876),
http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/livres/maspero/invasions.htm#_ftnref250

2. Aliaa Al-Korachi, «Crise politique: Les agissements problématiques de Morsi », Al-Ahram Hebdo, 12 dicembre 2012,
http://hebdo.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/952/10/124/1045/Crise-politique-Les-agissements-probl%C3%A9matiques-de-.aspx
3. Blottr, « Egyptian President filmed rearranging himself on live TV [VIDEO] »,27 settembre 2012,http://www.blottr.com/breaking-news/egyptian-president-filmed-rearranging-himself-live-tv-video

4. Rania Massoud, « Morsi, la charia et le savon », L’Orient le jour, 24 aprile 2013,http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/811556/morsi-la-charia-et-le-savon.html
5. AFP, « Syrie: 11 pays samedi à Doha pour coordonner l’aide aux rebelles », Le Nouvel Observateur, 21 giugno 2013,
http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/topnews/20130621.AFP7138/syrie-11-pays-samedi-a-doha-pour-coordonner-l-aide-aux-rebelles.html

6. AFP, « Les «Amis de la Syrie » vont renforcer l’aide à l’opposition », Libération, 22 giugno 2013,http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2013/06/22/les-amis-de-la-syrie-vont-renforcer-l-aide-a-l-opposition_912999

7. Alexandre Buccianti, « Morsi rompt les liens diplomatiques entre l’Égypte et la Syrie », RFI, 16 giugno 2013, http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130616-le-president-morsi-rompt-liens-diplomatiques-entre-egypte-syrie
8. AFP et Reuters, « Washington rejette l’idée d’une zone d’exclusion aérienne en Syrie », Le Monde, 15 giugno 2013, http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/06/15/washington-rejette-l-idee-d-une-zone-d-exclusion-aerienne-en-syrie_3430667_3218.html

9. AFP, « L’Égypte soutient le peuple syrien, veut que l’effusion de sang cesse (Morsi) », L’Orient le jour,  30 giugno 2012,
http://www.lorientlejour.com/category/Derni%C3%A8res+Infos/article/766269/LEgypte_soutient_le_peuple_syrien%2C_veut_que_leffusion_de_sang_cesse_%28Morsi%29.html

10.  AFP, « L’opposition syrienne crie au massacre à Daraya », La Presse, 26 agosto 2012,http://www.lapresse.ca/international/dossiers/crise-dans-le-monde-arabe/syrie/201208/26/01-4568225-lopposition-syrienne-crie-au-massacre-a-daraya.php

11. AFP, « Angelina Jolie réclame de l’aide pour les réfugiés syriens », La Presse, 19 giugno 2013,
http://www.lapresse.ca/cinema/nouvelles/celebrites/201306/19/01-4662839-angelina-jolie-reclame-de-laide-pour-les-refugies-syriens.php

12. AFP, « EGYPTE. Morsi appelle au dialogue », Le Nouvel Observateur, 22 giugno 2013,http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/monde/20130622.OBS4236/egypte-morsi-appelle-au-dialogue.html

13. Reuters, « Égypte: Un nouveau groupe d’opposition syrien créé au Caire », 20 Minutes, 31 luglio 2012, http://www.20minutes.fr/ledirect/979735/egypte-nouveau-groupe-opposition-syrien-cree-caire
14. RTBF, « Syrie: un gouvernement en exil au Caire va être formé », 31 luglio 2012,http://www.rtbf.be/info/monde/detail_syrie-combats-pres-du-siege-des-renseignements-aeriens-a-alep?id=7813539

15. AFP, « Sommet des non-alignés : premier incident diplomatique entre l’Égypte et la Syrie », Le Monde, 30 agosto 2012, http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/08/30/ouverture-du-sommet-des-non-alignes-a-teheran_1753031_3218.html
16. AFP, « Nilesat arrête la diffusion des chaînes satellitaires syriennes », Huffington Post Québec, 5 settembre 2012, http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/05/nilesat-arrte-la-diffusi_n_1858038.html

17. The global Muslim Brotherhood, « U.K. Muslim Brotherhood TV Channel Suspended », 27 aprile 2008, http://globalmbreport.org/?p=809
18. Reporters sans frontières, « La diffusion de la chaîne de télévision Al-Hiwar interrompue sur le satellite Nilesat », 3 aprile 2008, http://archives.rsf.org/imprimer.php3?id_article=26445

19. Ikhwanweb, « The Egyptian government bans the Al Hiwar space channel on Nile Sat », 4 aprile 2008,
http://www.ikhwanmisr.com/~ikhwan/article.php?id=16556

20. Dedefensa, « Les dessous coquins de l’accord de Doha », 14 novembre 2012,http://www.dedefensa.org/article-les_dessous_coquins_de_l_accord_de_doha_14_11_2012.html

21. Reuters, « L’opposition syrienne basée au Caire », 19 novembre 2012, http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2012/11/19/97001-20121119FILWWW00548-opposition-syrienne-basee-au-caire.php
22. CNN, « Morsy backs Syrian calls for al-Assad to face war crimes trial », 7 gennaio 2013,http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/06/world/meast/egypt-morsy-interview

23. May Al-Maghrabi et Noha Ayman, « Morsi joue la realpolitik », Al Ahram Hebdo, 24 ottobre 2012,
http://hebdo.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/0/1/130/532/Morsi-joue-la–realpolitik.aspx

24. Roger Astier, « Vidéo: Morsi: “Les juifs sont des suceurs de sang, les descendants des porcs et des singes!” », JSSNews, 5 gennaio 2013, http://jssnews.com/2013/01/05/video-morsi-les-juifs-sont-des-suceurs-de-sang-les-descendants-des-porcs-et-des-singes/
25. Direction générale du Trésor français, « Situation économique et financière de l’Égypte », 4 giugno 2013,
http://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/7458_situation-economique-et-financiere-de-legypte-avril2013

26. Manar Mohsen, « Egypt to aid Syrian rebels », Daily News Egypt, 15 giugno 2013,http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/06/15/egypt-to-aid-syrian-rebels/

27. La voix de la Russie, « Égypte-Syrie : rupture des relations », 16 giugno 2013,http://french.ruvr.ru/2013_06_16/L-Egypte-la-rupture-avec-la-Syrie-6373/

28. Karim Chaabane, « Mostafa Bakri: Morsi appuie les opérations terroristes en Syrie », El Fagr,  14 giugno 2013,
http://new.elfagr.org/Detail.aspx?nwsId=361442&secid=1&vid=2#

29. Sybille De Larocque, « La stratégie syrienne du président Morsi vivement critiquée en Égypte », JOL Press,  18 giugno 2013,
http://www.jolpress.com/egypte-diplomatie-syrie-strategie-syrienne-president-mohamed-morsi-vivement-critiquee-article-820206.html

30. The Big Story, « Egypt appoints 17 governors, including 8 islamists », 16 giugno 2013,http://bigstory.ap.org/article/egypt-appoints-17-governors-including-8-islamists

31. AFP, « Égypte : le nouveau gouverneur controversé de Louxor démissionne », Le Monde, 23 giugno 2013,
http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2013/06/23/egypte-le-nouveau-gouverneur-controverse-de-louxor-demissionne_3435051_3212.html#xtor=RSS-3208

32. Kim Ryholt, « The Political Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period c.1800-1550 B.C. », Museum Tusculanum Press, (1997), p.160.

This incisive article focusing on the installation of a US supported Muslim Brotherhood government was first published in June 2012.

 

US Struggles to Install Proxy “Brotherhood” in Egypt

by Tony Cartalucci

landdestroyer.blogspot.com and Global Research

June 2012

From Egypt to Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood does the West’s bidding – now joined by overt State Department fronts.

Were anyone to still believe the rhetoric of the so-called “Arab Spring,” one would be admittedly confused over the emerging political landscape in Egypt where the military establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood have emerged from what was supposedly a “pro-democracy” “popular uprising.”

However, if anyone understood that the “pro-democracy” protesters were in fact US State Department-funded, trained, and equipped mobs providing cover for the attempted installation of the Muslim Brotherhood amongst many other potential Western proxies, the current political battle would make perfect sense.

Image:  Mohammed Morsi (above) is the Muslim Brotherhood’s current presidential candidate. As evidence continues to mount against the Brotherhood, implicating them as overt proxies of Western foreign policy, their credibility took another blow as the US State Department’s April 6 Movement endorsed Morsi. Below, Egypt’s youth are once again duped by Western propaganda and fellow Egyptians conspiring against their own nation and people. 
….

The Egyptian military, like in many developing nations, may accept money from the West, may train with Western forces, and may even participate in Western machinations of global domination, but are ultimately nationalists with the means and motivation to draw lines and check the West’s ambitions within Egypt and throughout Egypt’s sphere of influence. The necessity for the West of removing not only Hosni Mubarak who had refused to participate in a wider role against Iraq and Iran, but the grip of the military itself over Egyptian politics and replacing it with the Muslim Brotherhood who is already hard at work in Syria attempting to overthrow one of Iran’s primary regional allies, is paramount.

“Pro-democracy” movements, particularly the April 6 youth movement, trained, funded, and equipped by the US State Department, serve the sole purpose of giving the Muslim Brotherhood’s installation into power a spin of “legitimacy” where otherwise none exists. Those within these “pro-democracy” movements with legitimate intentions will be inevitably disappointed if not entirely thrown under the wheels of Western machinations as regional war aimed at destroying Iran, Syria, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah arch of influence slowly unfolds.

Muslim Brotherhood were, are, and will be Western Proxies  

Despite the Brotherhood’s lofty rhetoric, it has from its inception been a key proliferator of Western foreign policy. Currently, the Syrian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood has been involved heavily, leading in fact, the US, Israeli, Saudi, and Qatari-backed sectarian violence that has been ravaging Syria for over a year. In a May 6, 2012 Reuters article it stated:

 

“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”

While Reuters categorically fails to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh, as being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hersh reports the Lebanese Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007, US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

It was warned that such backing would benefit the Brotherhood as a whole, not just in Syria, and could effect public opinion even as far as in Egypt where a long battle against the hardliners was fought in order to keep Egyptian governance secular. Clearly the Brotherhood did not spontaneously rise back to power in Syria, it was resurrected by US, Israeli, and Saudi cash, weapons and directives.

And most recently, as the West frequently does before elections it wishes to manipulate, premature claims by the Muslim Brotherhood of a victory during a presidential runoff were made headlines by the Western media in an effort to portray the Brotherhood as the victors and lay the groundwork for contesting any results other than a decisive win for the West’s proxy of choice.

US State Department-run Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) “Muslim Brotherhood Declares Victory In Egypt Election,” amongst many other articles attempted to give readers the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood had indeed already won the election. In reality the official tallies had yet to be given and it was merely the Brotherhood’s own rhetoric upon which the report was based. As election results were finalized, and the Brotherhood’s candidate, the US-educated Muhammad Morsi, appeared not to have the decisive victory claimed by his party and the Western media, immediately accusations of voter fraud were leveled against the Egyptian government.

Image: From the US to Serbia, to Egypt and back again, US State Department-funded, trained, and equipped agitator Ahmed Maher poses at the scene of “Occupy D.C.” Ironically, Americans claim Maher and his “April 6″ movement have inspired them to rise up against their corrupt government, unaware that his movement was insidiously created by the US government. Photo: courtesy Ahmed Maher, Spencer Ackerman 
….
The West is already combining its various proxy fronts for what it sees as a pivotal showdown and perhaps another opportunity to overthrow any remaining nationalist tendencies within the Egyptian military.  Despite the Muslim Brotherhood, allegedly being a theocratic sectarian party, the antithesis of what the secular April 6 Movement allegedly stood for, Ahmed Maher, the movement’s founder threw his full support behind the Brotherhood.

Maher it should be remembered, had been in the US, Serbia, and back again to the US for a series of training and networking opportunities arranged by the US State Department before during and after the so-called “Arab Spring.” What seemed like politically ideological opposites, between April 6 and the Muslim Brotherhood, in fact share a common denominator – they are instruments executing Western foreign policy.

Libya, Egypt, Syria and Beyond to Form United Front Against Iran

Weakening Egypt before NATO’s assault on Libya was a crucial step in ensuring the latter’s absolute destruction and the creation of what is now a Libyan terror-emirate shipping cash, weapons, and fighters east and west to destabilize and overthrow various governments on the Anglo-American’s long “to-do” list. The West’s ability to install a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, with it’s substantial regional standing and influence would be a serious blow not only to Syria, but to Iran as well. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is already echoing calls by the US and Israel for “intervention” in Syria.

Along with Libya, Egypt and of course the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and with the possibility of the Brotherhood coming to power in Syria as well, a united front against Iran would be formed and prepared to fight a proxy war on the West’s behalf against the Islamic Republic.

Such a reordering has not only been mapped out in US foreign policy documents like Brookings Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” report, but mirror designs against China where all of Southeast Asia is slated for destabilization, regime change, and realignment to carry out the West’s ambitions to contain and even collapse a rising China.