Archive | August 29th, 2012

Zio-Nazi: “I saw the whole beating, it’s a good thing that they beat the Arabs…”

NOVANEWS

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Britain and US Plan Syrian “Revolution” From Istanbul

NOVANEWS

telegraph.co.uk

Dozens of dissidents have been ferried out of Syria to be vetted for foreign backing. Recipients of the aid are given satellite communications and computers so that they can act as a local “hub” linking local activists and the outside world.

The training takes place in an Istanbul district where handsome apartment blocks line the steep slopes and rooftop terraces boast views over the Golden Horn waterway.

Behind closed doors the distractions of outdoor coffee shops and clothing boutiques gives way to power point displays charting the mayhem sweeping Syria.

“We are not ‘king-making’ in Syria. The UK and the US are moving cautiously to help what has been developing within Syria to improve the capabilities of the opposition,” said a British consultant overseeing the programme. “What’s going to come next? Who is going to control territory across Syria. We want to give civilians the skills to assert leadership.”

Once up and running dissidents can expect help to deal with local shortages and troubleshooting advice from sympathisers.

But the activists also face two days of vetting designed to ensure that the programme does not fall into the trap of promoting sectarian agendas or the rise of al-Qaeda-style fundamentalists.

“Rather than being about promoting political platforms in Syria, it’s about creating a patchwork of people who share common values,” the consultant said.

The schemes are overseen by the US State Department’s Office of Syrian Opposition Support (OSOS) and Foreign Office officials. America has set aside $25 million for political opponents of President Bashar al-Assad while Britain is granting £5 million to the cause of overthrowing the regime.

Mina al-Homsi (a pseudonym) is one of the first graduates of the training.

She now spends her days plotting how to spread seditious messages throughout her homeland through her own network, named Basma.

One of its main activities is to repackage video shot by amateurs into a format that can be used by broadcasters.

In addition to running online television and radio forums, the Basma team have had “tens of thousands” of satirical stickers depicting President Bashar al-Assad as a featherless duck for distribution as agitprop.

“It comes from the emails that his wife Asma sent to him calling him duckie and the cartoon duck is featherless to show that he is an emperor with no clothes,” she said. “People will stick them on walls, on car doors, on dispensers in restaurants and those who have not yet joined the revolution will know that we are everywhere.”

Foreign intervention in civil wars has proven to be a perilous undertaking since the end of the Cold War but in Syria where an invasion has proven unfeasible, diplomats have had to resort to creative thinking.

It was the legacy of non-intervention, however, that provided the spark for the schemes now backing Basma and others.

An initiative, proposed by Foreign Secretary William Hague, to document evidence of crimes committed in the fighting for use in potential International Criminal Court trials, has been transformed into the multinational project to build Syria’s next governing class.

“This has been a generational coming of age,” said the consultant, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The Foreign Secretary started this as a way to make sure that people who committed crimes in Syria would be held to account. Those of us with experience of the Balkans have taken the lessons of that conflict very much as a formative experience.”

With the entry of American funding for a much wider scheme, the need to avoid the mistakes of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has also driven the planning.

“It’s also not Iraq or Afghanistan – there are no bundles of cash being dropped on the problem without accountability,” he said.

Jon Wilks, the Foreign Office diplomat who serves as envoy to the Syrian opposition, told the Arabic newspaper al Sharq al Aswat last week that Britain was already working to lay the foundations of democracy in a post-Assad Syria.

He said: “We must train activists on governing locally in villages and cities in Syria for the post-transitional phase.”

Officials are adamant there will be no crossover between the civilian “non-lethal” assistance and the military campaign waged by the rebel fighters.

The scheme has, however, infuriated the exiled opposition body, the Syrian National Council. Its failure to provide a united and coherent front against the regime has led some western officials to brief privately that foreign governments were shifting support beyond the exiled body.

But in a barely furnished office in a tower block near Istanbul airport an SNC official decried the false promises of its allies. “We’ve heard a lot of promises from the very beginning of the SNC but none of those have been fulfilled,” the SNC official said. “This has reflected absolutely negatively on our work. The opposition of Syria wants the world to provide humanitarian aid for the people in need and the Free Syria Army wants intervention to stop planes bombing their positions.

“Instead they go around behind our back undermining our role.”

A Whitehall official said the effort was not about building an alternative to the SNC but a means to enhance the role of those dissidents still within Syria.

Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesman, confirmed the OSOS programme last week and said its full effect would only be seen when President Assad leaves office.

“There are groups inside and outside Syria beginning to plan for that day-after and beginning to plan for how they might quickly stand up at least that first stage of transition so that we could move on when Assad goes, because he will go.”

 

Syrian Rebels Claim to Receive Battle Training on Turkish Border

With questions still lingering in the air about the exact nature of the Apaydın Syrian rebel camp in the southern province of Hatay following Foreign Minister Davutoğlu’s remarks, Abu Hussein, a commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA,) spoke to bianet about what goes on in the camp.

Fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) leave the Apaydın camp in the southern province of Hatay after daybreak to cross the border into Syria and fight the Al-Assad regime, only to return back to the camp toward evening, Abu Hussein, the commander of an FSA unit, told bianet.

“We are deeply thankful to the Turkish government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for receiving us with open arms,” said Abu Hussein, who commands about 50 troops.

Government officials announced that the Apaydın camp in Hatay’s Antakya district hosts officers of the Syrian army who deserted the Al-Assad regime and declared the camp to be an area prohibited to entry on due to reasons of security.

The officials, however, are yet to offer an explanation about the domestic or international legal foundations on which the camp was established.

Official statements also indicated the inhabitants of the camp were Syrian army deserters, for which reason their names had to remain confidential.

The question of whether the Syrian Army actually has no clue about the identities of its deserting troops or not, however, still continues to linger in the air.

As such, questions about the exact difference between residents of the Apaydın camp and the inhabitants of other refugee camps also warrant a reply.

Whether all the camp dwellers in Apaydın are of Syrian extraction, of if they also include others coming from countries such as Tunisia, Yemen, Chechnya and Afghanistan is yet another question that needs to be answered.

The public continues to wonder about the circumstances under which the camp dwellers cross into Syria through border controls, how many Syrians have come to Turkey under the status of refugees, how many of them cross the border and how often.

And what does the government have to say regarding the allegations that these troops go to war into Syria in the morning and arrive back in the camp in Turkey at night?

Has Parliament ever taken up the issue of establishing a camp under such a status?

Turkey’s sights, therefore, are fixed on the “Apaydın Accomodation Facilities.”

A confirmed military encampment

“Civilian and military refugees have different statuses. The [refugees’] approval is also required to enter military encampments. It is normal for those taking refuge as security forces to be subject to special treatment,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Monday after a delegation of the opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) was denied access into the camp.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also said the camp’s inhabitants included Syrian army deserters and their families, for which reason politicians were banned from entering the camp to protect their lives. “This includes generals, and colonels [for instance,]” he added.

Hatay Governor Celalettin Lekesiz also echoed the deputy prime minister’s statement and said Syrian soldiers and their families fleeing from Al-Assad had taken refuge in the camp.

“News reports indicating that Syrian rebels are receiving training in the Apaydın camp, and that Syrians are in control [there,] are out of line with reality,” the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) also commented on the issue.

“Made it alive by crossing the border into Turkey”

“There is military training in the camp where we are staying at, but the Turkish government does not allow us to roam about with arms,” Abu Hussein told bianet.

“We come and leave Turkey on a daily basis. We are staying at a tent camp right across the other side of the border. [We] go to war in the morning and return to the camp toward evening. We can cross the border with no difficulty,” he said.

“Turkey provides logistical support for us. Turkey is covering for our needs of food, drinks and medicine. We are also receiving aid from other countries, too. Our current goal is to form a buffer zone in İdlib, which is an area close to the border,” Abu Hussein said.

“The Syrian Army besieged us on the Syrian side three days ago. We made it alive by crossing into the Turkish side of the border. If the regime falls, then we want to build a free country. We want to establish a system like in Turkey,” he added. (AS)

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Rachel Corrie verdict exposes Israeli military mindset

NOVANEWS

Rachel Corrie's family: father Craig, mother Cindy and sister Sarah Corrie Simpson

guardian.co.uk

Reporters covering Israel are routinely confronted with the question: why not call Hamas a terrorist organisation? It’s a fair point. How else to describe blowing up families on buses but terrorism?

But the difficulty lies in what then to call the Israeli army when it, too, at particular times and places, has used indiscriminate killing and terror as a means of breaking Palestinian civilians. One of those places was Rafah, in the southern tip of the Gaza strip, where Rachel Corrie was crushed by a military bulldozer nine years ago as she tried to stop the Israeli army going about its routine destruction of Palestinian homes.

An Israeli judge on Tuesday perpetuated the fiction that Corrie’s death was a terrible accident and upheld the results of the military’s own investigation, widely regarded as such a whitewash that even the US ambassador to Israel described it as neither thorough nor credible. Corrie’s parents may have failed in their attempt to see some justice for their daughter, but in their struggle they forced a court case that established that her death was not arbitrary but one of a pattern of killings as the Israeli army pursued a daily routine of attacks intended to terrorise the Palestinian population of southern Gaza into submission.

The case laid bare the state of the collective Israeli military mind, which cast the definition of enemies so widely that children walking down the street were legitimate targets if they crossed a red line that was invisible to everyone but the soldiers looking at it on their maps. The military gave itself a blanket protection by declaring southern Gaza a war zone, even though it was heavily populated by ordinary Palestinians, and set rules of engagement so broad that just about anyone was a target.

With that went virtual impunity for Israeli troops no matter who they killed or in what circumstances – an impunity reinforced by Tuesday’s verdict in Haifa.

The Israeli military commander in southern Gaza at the time was Colonel Pinhas “Pinky” Zuaretz. A few weeks after Corrie’s death, I (as the Guardian’s correspondent in Israel) spoke to him about how it was that so many children were shot by Israeli soldiers at times when there was no combat. His explanation was chilling.

At that point, three years into the second intifada, more than 400 children had been killed by the Israeli army. Nearly half were in Rafah and neighbouring Khan Yunis. One in four were under the age of 12.

I focussed on the deaths of six children in a 10-week period, all in circumstances far from combat. The dead included a 12-year-old girl, Haneen Abu Sitta, killed in Rafah as she walked home from school near a security fence around one of the fortified Jewish settlements in Gaza at the time. The army made up an explanation by falsely claiming Haneen was killed during a gun battle between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

Zuaretz conceded to me that there was no battle and that the girl was shot by a soldier who had no business opening fire. It was the same with the killings of some of the other children. The colonel was fleetingly remorseful.

“Every name of a child here, it makes me feel bad because it’s the fault of my soldiers. I need to learn and see the mistakes of my troops,” he said. But Zuaretz was not going to do anything about it; and by the end of the interview, he was casting the killings as an unfortunate part of the struggle for Israel’s very survival.

“I remember the Holocaust. We have a choice, to fight the terrorists or to face being consumed by the flames again,” he said.

In court, Zuaretz said the whole of southern Gaza was a combat zone and anyone who entered parts of it had made themselves a target. But those parts included houses where Palestinians built walls within walls in their homes to protect themselves from Israeli bullets.

In that context, covering up the truth about the killings of innocents, including Corrie, became an important part of the survival strategy because of the damage the truth could do to the military’s standing, not only in the rest of the world but also among Israelis.

The death of Khalil al-Mughrabi two years before Corrie died was telling. The 11-year-old boy was playing football when he was shot dead in Rafah by an Israeli soldier. The respected Israeli human right sorganisations, B’Tselem, wrote to the army demanding an investigation. Several months later, the judge advocate general’s office wrote back saying that Khalil was killed by soldiers who had acted with “restraint and control” to disperse a riot in the area.

But the judge advocate general’s office made the mistake of attaching a copy of its own confidential investigation, which came to a very different conclusion: that the riot had been much earlier in the day and the soldiers who shot the child should not have opened fire. In the report, the chief military prosecutor, Colonel Einat Ron, then spelled out alternative false scenarios that should be offered to B’Tselem. The official account was a lie and the army knew it.

The message to ordinary soldiers was clear: you have a free hand because the military will protect you to protect itself. It is that immunity from accountability that was the road to Corrie’s death.

She wasn’t the only foreign victim at about that time. In the following months, Israeli soldiers shot dead James Miller, a British television documentary journalist, and Tom Hurndall, a British photographer and pro-Palestinian activist. In November 2002, an Israeli sniper had killed a British United Nations worker, Iain Hook, in Jenin in the West Bank.

British inquests returned verdicts of unlawful killings in all three deaths, but Israel rejected calls for the soldiers who killed Miller and Hook to be held to account. The Israeli military initially whitewashed Hurndall’s killing but after an outcry led by his parents, and British government pressure, the sniper who shot him was sentenced to eight years in prison for manslaughter.

That sentence apparently did nothing to erode a military mindset that sees only enemies.

Three years after Corrie’s death, an Israeli army officer who emptied the magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl, Iman al-Hams, and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was cleared by a military court.

Iman was shot and wounded after crossing the invisible red line around an Israeli military base in Rafah, but she was never any closer than 100 yards. The officer then left the base in order to “confirm the kill” by pumping the wounded girl full of bullets. An Israeli military investigation concluded he had acted properly.

Tuesday’s court verdict in Haifa will have done nothing to end that climate of impunity. Nor anything that would have us believe that Israel’s repeated proclamation that it has the “most moral army in the world” is any more true than its explanation of so many Palestinian deaths.

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Zio-Nazi court: Military was not at fault for killing a U.S. activist crushed by an army bulldozer

NOVANEWS

Israeli court rejects US activist’s family lawsuit

news.yahoo.com

An Israeli court ruled Tuesday that the military was not at fault for killing a U.S. activist crushed by an army bulldozer during a 2003 demonstration, rejecting a lawsuit filed by her parents.

The bulldozer driver has said he didn’t see 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist who was trying to block the vehicle’s path during a demonstration in the Gaza Strip against the military’s demolition of Palestinian homes.

The military deemed her March 2003 death an accident, but Corrie’s parents said the driver acted recklessly and filed a civil lawsuit two years later.

Explaining the district court’s ruling, Judge Oded Gershon said Corrie “put herself in a dangerous situation” and called her death “the result of an accident she brought upon herself.” He said the military conducted a proper investigation and rejected the Corrie family’s request for a symbolic $1 in damages and legal expenses.

Corrie’s family, who flew in from the U.S. for the verdict, lamented the court’s ruling.

“We are of course, deeply saddened and deeply troubled by what we heard today,” said her mother,Cindy Corrie of Olympia, Washington. “I believe this was a bad day. Not only for our family but for human rights, the rule of law, and also for the country of Israel.”

The family said it was strongly considering an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, but wanted to read the full verdict before making a final decision.

Corrie’s sister, Sarah, held up a picture of her sister lying lifeless in bulldozer tracks. The family’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein pointed at it: “How did the bulldozer not see her?” he asked. To say that the driver did not see her “is lies to the living and also lies to the dead.”

Following the verdict, the Israeli state prosecutor’s office called Corrie’s death a “tragic accident” but noted the court exonerated the military of “any blame for negligence.” It said it had presented three investigations that found the driver could not have seen Corrie, and noted that the driver acted in a “a military action in the course of war.”

“The work was done while exercising maximum caution and prudence and without the ability to foresee harming anyone,” it said.

The home demolitions were part of an unsuccessful campaign to halt thousands of attacks on soldiers and Jewish settlers in southern Gaza, along the border with Egypt, in the preceding 3 ½ years. On the day Rachel Corrie died, she and other activists had entered a closed military zone to protest the demolition policy.

According to the U.N. agency handling Palestinian refugees, the military had left more than 17,000 Gazans homeless in the four years after a Palestinian uprising against Israel erupted in September 2000. The demolitions drew international condemnation at the time.

In her death, Corrie became the embodiment of what Palestinian activists say is Israel’s harsh repression of nonviolent protest to occupation. Israel says by entering conflict zones to try to interfere with military activities, activists recklessly choose to risk their lives.

Her parents have relentlessly pursued her case since going to court in 2005 after a military investigation cleared the driver.

They say they have spent $200,000 to fly in witnesses, attend 15 hearings and translate more than 2,000 pages of court transcripts.

At the news conference, Cindy Corrie read a passage from one of her daughter’s letters, biting her lip as her husband, grim-faced, held a microphone for her.

“Life is very difficult. Human beings can be kind, brave and strong, even in the most difficult of circumstances,” Rachel Corrie wrote. “Thank you for existing, for showing how good people can be, despite great hardship.”

The Corrie case was the first civil lawsuit of a foreigner harmed by Israel’s military to conclude in a full civilian trial. Others have resulted in out-of-court settlements.

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Syrian FM– ‘We believe that the USA is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments’

NOVANEWS

independent.co.uk

The battle for Damascus could be heard inside the Foreign Minister’s office yesterday, a vibration of mortars and tank fire from the suburbs of the capital that penetrated Walid Muallem’s inner sanctum, a dangerous heartbeat to match the man’s words.

America was behind Syria’s violence, he said, which will not end even after the battle for Aleppo is over. “I tell the Europeans: ‘I don’t understand your slogan about the welfare of the Syrian people when you are supporting 17 resolutions against the welfare of the Syrian people’. And I tell the Americans: ‘You must read well what you did in Afghanistan and Somalia. I don’t understand your slogan of fighting international terrorism when you are supporting this terrorism in Syria’.”

Walid Muallem spoke in English and very slowly, either because of the disconcerting uproar outside or because this was his first interview with a Western journalist since the Syrian crisis began. At one point, the conflict between rebels and government troops in the suburbs of Douma, Jobar, Arbeen and Qaboun – where a helicopter was shot down – became so loud that even the most phlegmatic of Foreign Ministers in a region plagued by rhetoric glanced towards the window. How did he feel when he heard this, I asked him?

“Before I am a minister, I am a Syrian citizen, and I feel sad at seeing what’s happening in Syria, compared with two years ago,” he said. “There are many Syrians like me – eager to see Syria return to the old days when we were proud of our security.”

I have my doubts about how many Syrians want a return to “the old days” but Muallem claims that perhaps 60 per cent of the country’s violence comes from abroad, from Turkey, from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the United States exercising its influence over all others.

“When the Americans say, ‘We are supplying the opposition with sophisticated instruments of telecommunications’, isn’t this part of a military effort, when they supply the opposition with $25m – and much more from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia?”

A year ago, I told Muallem, I lunched with the Emir of Qatar, and he was enraged at what he called Bashar al-Assad’s lies, claiming that the Syrian President had reneged on a deal to allow Muslim Brotherhood members to return home.

Muallem nodded. “If you met the same Emir two years ago, he was praising Assad, and considered him a dear friend. They used to have family relations, spending family holidays in Damascus and sometimes in Doha. There is an important question: what happened? I met the Emir in Doha in, I think, November 2011, when the Arab League started their initiative [resulting in the sending of League observers to Syria] and we reached agreement … The Emir told me: ‘If you agree to this initiative, I will change the attitude of Al Jazeera and I will tell [Sheikh] Qaradawi [a popular prelate with a regular slot on the television chain] to support Syria and reconciliation, and I have put down some billions of dollars to rebuild Syria…’ .

“At the same time, when I was waiting to enter a meeting, there was the head of the Tunisian party Ennahda and the Emir issued orders to pay Ennahda $150m to help his party in the elections. Anyway, this was their business. But I asked the Emir: ‘You were having very close relations with Muammar Gaddafi and you were the only leader in his palace when Gaddafi hosted you during the summit – so why are you sending your aircraft to attack Libya and be part of Nato?’ The Emir said simply: ‘Because we don’t want to lose our momentum in Tunis and Egypt – and Gaddafi was responsible for dividing Sudan’.”

Of America’s power, Walid Muallem had no doubt. The Americans, he says, succeeded in frightening the Gulf countries about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, persuaded them to buy arms from the US, fulfilling Franklin Roosevelt’s 1936 dream of maintaining bases for oil transportation.

“We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments.” But wasn’t this all really about Iran? I asked, a dodgy question since it suggested a secondary role for Syria in its own tragedy. And when Muallem referred to the Brookings Institution, I groaned.

“You are laughing, but sometimes when you are Foreign Minister, you are obliged to read these things – and there was a study by the Brookings Institute [sic] called The Road to Tehran, and the result of this study was: if you want to contain Iran, you must start with Damascus…

“We were told by some Western envoy at the beginning of this crisis that relations between Syria and Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas are the major elements behind this crisis. If we settle this issue, they [the Americans] will help end the crisis. But no one told us why it is forbidden for Syria to have relations with Iran when most if not all the Gulf countries have very important relations with Iran.”

For the Syrian Foreign Minister, the crisis started with “legitimate demands” subsequently addressed by “legislation and reforms and even a new constitution”. Then along came “foreign elements” who used these legitimate demands “to hijack the peaceful agenda of the people”.

There followed a familiar tale. “I don’t accept as a citizen to return back centuries to a regime which can bring Syria backwards. In principle …no government in the world can accept an armed terrorist group, some of them coming from abroad, controlling streets and villages in the name of ‘jihad’.”

It was the duty of the Syrian government to “protect” its citizens. Assad represents the unity of Syria and all Syrians must participate in creating a new future for Syria. If Syria falls, its neighbour countries will fall. Muallem travels to the non-aligned summit in Iran tomorrow to burnish what he calls their “constructive efforts” to help Syria.

I asked about chemical weapons, of course. If Syria had such weapons, they would never be used against its own people, he said. “We are fighting armed groups inside Aleppo, in the Damascus suburbs, before that in Homs and Idlib and this means fighting within Syrian cities – and our responsibility is to protect our people.”

And the infamous Shabiha militia blamed for atrocities in the countryside? Walid Muallem doesn’t believe in them. There might be local unarmed people defending their property from armed groups, he says. But pro-regime, paid militiamen? Never. No war crimes charges against the Syrian Foreign Minister, then. But the guns still thunder away outside his windows.

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Revolt of the Plebs Broadcast: Keith Johnson interviews Dave Gahary of American Free Press

Revolt of the Plebs Broadcast Aug 28, 2012

by crescentandcross

Keith Johnson interviews Dave Gahary of American Free Press newspaper.

revolt-of-the-plebs-aug-28-2012.mp3

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THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM

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Inventing an Iranian Threat

NOVANEWS

By Stephen Lendman

 Iran threatens no one. Western and Israeli leaders know it. So do over 100 Non-Aligned Movement countries coming to Tehran. They’ll be there from August 26 – 31. They’ll participate in NAM’s 16th summit.

Their presence endorses Iran’s legitimacy, extends support, shows disapproval of Western hostility and belligerence, and confers prestige when Tehran most needs it.

Washington and Israel target the Islamic Republic relentlessly. Longstanding war plans await implementation. Media scoundrels and right-wing think tanks support it. They’re paid to endorse ravaging one country after another.

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) calls itself “the most influential group on the issue of US-Israel military relations.”

It “advocate(s) on behalf of a strong U.S. military, a robust national security policy and a strong U.S. security relationship with Israel and other like-minded democracies.”

It supports Israeli lawlessness, its regional dominance plans, and belligerence directed at Palestinians and other regional enemies.

Founded in 1976, it seeks full Washington support. It wants both countries in lockstep on policy. It’s connected to military/industrial officials in both countries.

In January, the Jewish Daily Forward headlined “JINSA Leadership in Flux After Ouster,” saying:

Firing former executive director Shosana Bryen rankled other members. In protest, neocon stalwarts James Woolsey, Richard Perle, and Michael Ledeen quit Jinsa’s advisory board.

The Forward attributed what happened to “a messy transformation of power in the group’s top ranks and a struggle to maintain relevance and funding at a time of shrinking budgets and growing competition from other Jewish causes.”

Also at issue is a crowded neocon establishment. Organizations vie for influence, credibility, preeminence and funding. Having former high-level officials as board members and/or advisors is key. So are wealthy individuals and others connected to well-endowed right-wing foundations.

Jinsa won’t likely run out of influential members who matter. David Steinmann co-chairs its Board of Advisors. He formerly headed the right-wing William Rosenwald Family Organization. He’s closely connected to Israeli Lobby, defense, and other corporate interests.

Co-chair David Justman is a JP Morgan managing director and wealth management advisor. Vice chairman Morris Amitay formerly served as AIPAC’s executive director. He also founded the Washington Political Action Committee. Like Jinsa, it’s hawkishly pro-Israeli.

Board of Advisors members include numerous retired generals and admirals. It’s also stacked with pro-Israeli right-wing ideologues. Jinsa has no shortage of key people representing Israeli interests. Often they’re at odds with America’s.

Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer include Jinsa among other influential groups comprising the Israeli Lobby’s think tank arm. Its agenda supplements AIPAC. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee focuses on influencing administration and congressional policies.

Jinsa works on military issues, ties between Pentagon and IDF officials, and America’s military/industrial complex.

Post-9/11 Jinsa and like-minded groups called for expanding Washington’s military response. It argued for war on Iraq.

It now wants war on Iran. On July 16, it headlined “Iran Sanctions Are Dangerously Ineffective,” saying:

Iranian leaders believe they can ride out sanctions and wait for “the world (to) line up to purchase their oil once Iran’s status as a nuclear power is secure.”

It still has substantial oil income. Its monetary and gold reserves are large. Nothing in place will change policy. Sanctions “are a short-term tactic doomed to failure in the foreseeable future.”

Cyber attacks, propaganda, assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, negotiations, and other actions may slow but won’t resolve much. In the meantime, Iran buys “time to enrich more uranium.”

Jinsa calls Tehran’s “pursuit of nuclear weapons (a) strategic imperative” despite no evidence whatever proving it. It further “believes that defiance in the face of western sanctions is yet another reason for the greater Islamic world to emulate (its) revolutionary example.”

Instead of current policies, it advocates discarding containment notions, expanding ties to regional states, increasing the Pentagon’s Middle East footprint, and promoting a regional alliance against Iran going nuclear.

Jinsa’s punchline came last, saying:

“Prepare to use military force at the optimal time regardless of elections or other political considerations, recognizing that the credible threat of force is the best insurance that measures short of war will have the greatest opportunity for success.”

Like Jinsa, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) wields enormous public policy influence. Founded in 1943, it promotes “free enterprise, a strong defense centered on smart international relations, and opportunity” for dominant segments of US society to gain added wealth and power.

It’s connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Sourcewatch calls it “a corporate bill mill. (Its) not just a lobby or front group. (It’s) much more powerful than that.”

Corporations use ALEC strategically. They promote legislation benefitting their bottom line. They write laws behind closed doors. Doing so harms popular interests.

In the 1970s, AEI gained major national prominence. It grew from 12 resident “thinkers” to 145 resident scholars, 80 adjunct ones, and considerable support staff.

Ronald Reagan called AEI “a revolution in ideas of which I, too, have been a part. (Its) remarkably distinguished body of work is testimony to the triumph of the think tank. For today the most important American scholarship comes out of our think tanks – and none has been more influential than the American Enterprise Institute.”

Post-9/11, AEI was one of the Bush administration’s leading foreign policy architects. It was influential in promoting regime change through war on Iraq.

George Bush addressed AEI three times. He expressed admiration, saying he “consistently borrow(ed) some of (its) best people.” Over 20 AEI scholars were administration members.

In June 2003, AEI and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies founded NGO Watch. It’s a militantly pro-Israeli front group. It spurns truth, equity and justice. When Israel wants war, it champions it.

Corporate CEOs and other top officials comprise AEI’s Board of Trustees. Dick Cheney is one of its prominent members. Scholars include Newt Gingrich, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, John Yoo, Richard Perle, Phil Gramm, Larry Lindsey, Glenn Hubbard, Charles Murray, Roger Noreiga, and Lynne Cheney.

AEI powerfully advances Washington’s imperial agenda. Currently it’s hawkish on Syria and Iran. It supports regime change in both countries. It’s not shy about promoting war.

Maseh Zarif is AEI’s “Critical Threats Project” research manager. On August 22, he headlined “Iran’s military complex at Parchin and the nuclear connection,” saying:

“Iran’s nuclear weapons program poses a serious threat to American national security interests. Iran has been working to develop the key components of a nuclear weapons capability for decades – covertly when it can and openly when exposed – in contravention of nuclear nonproliferation pacts it has signed and international obligations it is required to meet.”

“The regime has waged an intensive denial-and-deception campaign intended to facilitate the development of critical technologies and infrastructure and, ultimately, the fulfillment of its nuclear ambitions.”

Zarif tried inventing reality and failed. No evidence whatever suggests an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Israeli, Washington, and other Western officials know it. So do AEI scholars. Perhaps Zarif should consult them.

Nonetheless, he persists in saying Iran “advanced along three interrelated, parallel tracks: acquiring fissile material, weaponization and bomb design, and delivery vehicle development.”

Panchin, he claims, conducts nuclear weapons-related experiments. His accusations are spurious. Evidence is absent. Rhetoric substitutes for reality. Zarif’s credibility is sorely lacking.

He’s advancing the ball for war. So do other AEI scholars and trustees. They prioritize imperial dominance. Ravaging the world one country at a time is their way to get it. Jinsa and other hard-right groups concur. Societies they endorse aren’t fit to live in.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net . His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War” www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Posted in IranComments Off on Inventing an Iranian Threat

RACIST U.S. MARINES URINATING ON AFGHAN CORPSES

NOVANEWS
Three U.S. Marines filmed urinating on Taliban corpses given ‘administrative’ punishments but are spared criminal charges

Outrage: The video inflamed tensions between US forces and the Afghans and was called a 'recruitment tool for the Taliban'

dailymail.co.uk

Three U.S. Marines who were pictured urinating on Taliban corpses last year received ‘administrative’ punishments, but they avoided criminal charges, the American military said on Monday.

The video of the men were called a ‘recruitment tool for the Taliban’ and helped to inflame tensions between Afghans and NATO troops when it was made public earlier this year. 

It remains to be seen whether the punishments, which could include reprimand, reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay, will be enough to satisfy Afghan officials, who were outraged by the images. 

Outrage: The video inflamed tensions between US forces and the Afghans and was called a 'recruitment tool for the Taliban'

Outrage: The video inflamed tensions between US forces and the Afghans and was called a ‘recruitment tool for the Taliban’

Six U.S. Army soldiers who provoked a riot when they burned copies of the Koran taken from a detention facility were also disciplined by the military.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai branded the Marine’s actions in the video as ‘inhuman,’ and he initially called for a public trial for the soldiers over the Koran incident.

The Marine Corps announced three Marines had pleaded guilty to charges over the video, including one for ‘urinating on the body of a deceased Taliban soldier.’ Another wrongfully posed for a photo with human casualties and the third lied about the incident to investigators.

The identities of the Marines were not disclosed and disciplinary actions against other Marines would be announced at a later date, the Marine Corps said.

The video, which became public in January after the images were posted on the Internet, actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the Marines said, describing findings of the investigation.

One of the four Marines shown in the video can be heard saying, ‘Have a nice day, buddy,’ while another makes a lewd joke, as they urinated on three corpses.

Also on Monday, the Army announced that six soldiers received administrative punishments over an incident in which copies of the Koran and other religious material were removed from a prison library and sent to an incinerator to be destroyed. 

Four of the individuals involved were officers and two of them were non-commissioned officers, a spokesman said.

The incident in February touched off several days of rioting and attacks on U.S. troops after local workers found charred copies of the Koran among the trash at the incinerator at the Bagram base north of Kabul.

U.S. officials at the time said some of the religious material had been removed from the prison library at Bagram because of concern that it was extremist in nature and was being used to pass messages among prisoners.

At least 30 people died in the violence that spread across the country after the incident. Shortly after, two American officers were shot dead in a secure area of the Afghan interior ministry, a crime that remains unsolved.

Reaction to the incident prompted President Barack Obama to write to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to apologize.

An investigation into the Koran burning concluded in June with recommendations that the troops involved receive administrative punishment, a U.S. official said at the time. Details of that investigation were also expected to be released later on Monday.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan1 Comment

Gaza ‘will not be liveable by 2020′ – UN report

NOVANEWS

bbc.co.uk

Tunnels under the Egyptian border have been a lifeline for Gaza in recent years.

The Gaza Strip will not be “a liveable place” by 2020 unless action is taken to improve basic services in the territory, according to a UN report.

Basic infrastructure in water, health, education and sanitation “is struggling to keep pace with a growing population”, according to the report.

It estimates Gaza’s population will rise from 1.6m to 2.1m by 2020.

Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza after the Islamist movement Hamas came to power in the territory in 2007.

Israel says the blockade, which is policed with Egyptian co-operation and has never been fully lifted, is necessary to prevent weapons reaching Hamas.

The UN report estimates Gaza will need double the number of schools and 800 more hospital beds by 2020, and says the territory is already suffering from a housing shortage.

The report also says the coastal aquifer, the territory’s only natural source of fresh water, may become unusable by 2016.

Disconnected territory

UN officials point to the difficulty of improving the situation given “the closure of the Gaza Strip, violent conflict, and the pressing need for Palestinian reconciliation”.

“An urban area cannot survive without being connected,” said Maxwell Gaylard, the UN’s humanitarian chief in Gaza.

Gaza has no air or sea ports, and the economy is heavily dependent on outside funding and smuggling through tunnels under the Egyptian border.

Even though Gaza has experienced some economic growth in recent years, the report says it “does not seem to be sustainable” and finds that Gazans are worse off now than in the 1990s.

Unemployment was at 29% in 2011 and has risen since then, particularly affecting women and young people.

Traffic through the cross-border tunnels was hit in recent weeks by violence between Egyptian security forces and militants in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, which borders Israel and Gaza.

Posted in GazaComments Off on Gaza ‘will not be liveable by 2020′ – UN report

The American People are at the Mercy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

NOVANEWS

By Sheldon Richman

While Israel—cheered on by its American boosters led by AIPAC and Mitt Romney—beats the drums ever louder for a war of aggression against Iran, President Obama in late July signed theUnited States-Israel Enhanced Cooperation Act. This was hardly a signal that Obama would like to defuse the explosive situation building in the Middle East. The Rose Garden signing, attended by AIPCA representatives, came on top of the latest in a series of harsh economic sanctions approved by AIPAC-dominated Congress and Obama against the Iranian people.

This intensifying economic warfare is predictably creating hardship for average Iranians, including shortages of life-saving medicines. (Sanctions come on top of covert warfare and assassination of Iranian scientists by Israel and cyber warfare by the United States, and an increasing U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf and surrounding area. Iran is nearly ringed by U.S. military installations.)

Signing the Act, Obama said:

[W]hat this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen, really, at an unprecedented level between our two countries that underscore our unshakeable commitment to Israel security.

The Enhanced Cooperation Act passed the Senate (voice vote) and House in June and July, respectively, with Reps. Ron Paul and John Dingell as the only opponents.

The Act pledges “To help the Government of Israel preserve its qualitative military edge amid rapid and uncertain regional political transformation.” Bear in the mind the context. Israel already possesses by far unparalleled military power in the region, although we live in an era where victory is not guaranteed to the militarily superior. Israel did not prevail when it attacked and devastated Lebanon in 2006. We must bear in mind, also, that Israel has a nuclear arsenal estimated at 200-300 warheads, some of them submarine mounted.

This puts the faux alarm over Iran’s alleged nuclear-weapons program in perspective. (Both U.S. and Israeli intelligence say that Iran is not building a weapon and has not even decided to do so. Since 2007, the U.S. intelligence complex has concluded that whatever program Iran might have had was scrapped in 2003, when the U.S. military invaded Iranian nemesis Iraq and topped its president, Saddam Hussein.)

The Act details the ways in which the U.S. government will “assist in the defense of Israel.” One should note that there has never been a treaty of alliance between the United States and Israel.

For example, the Act mandates that the U.S government “Provide the Government of Israel defense articles and defense services through such mechanisms as appropriate, to include air refueling tankers, missile defense capabilities, and specialized munitions.” Some of this equipment has never been provided to Israel before. Ynet, the Israeli news service, reported, “The legislation, which provides for special aerial armament, is also likely to allow Israel to acquire bunker buster bombs, a privilege previously denied by the Bush Administration.” (Obama provided bunker buster bombs last year.)

The word defense is repeated often Act–rather defensively–but it should be noted that no weapons system is purely defensive; or to put it another way, defensive systems are just as useful for offensive operations as they are for pure defense. A shield can protect the one who is attacking. Given Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians and Arab neighbors since 1948, there is no reason to be confident that defensive systems will be use exclusively for defense.

Keep in mind that the U.S. government already gives Israel $3 billion a year in military aid under the most favorable terms. Obama also announced a $70 billion grant for the Iron Dome rocket defense system. Now Israel will have less reason to turn to a peaceful resolution of the horrendous situation in the Gaza Strip.
As Ynet states, “It must be noted that the Obama Administration has been unprecedentedly responsive to Israel’s acquisition requests across the board, even prior to the latest legislation.”

One provision of the Act in particular is rather curious: “Work to encourage an expanded role for Israel with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises.” NATO was created in 1949 ostensibly to discourage a Soviet invasion of western Europe. Even if one regards the coalition as having been legitimate then, it should have disbanded in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved.

Instead it found new missions never even alluded to in the treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate, meaning that the American people have been victims of a monumental bait and switch. NATO has become the U.S.-led police force available to enter civil wars and other conflicts anywhere in the world. Libya and and now Syria are the latest locations. Moreover, NATO has been used provocatively against Russia, paving the way for the admission of states on the Russian doorstep.

What possible role could Israel have in NATO? This is clearly a bid to expand U.S. policing of the world, which makes other powers, such as Russian and China, apprehensive—justifiably so.

Another provision of the Act pledges “To veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.” Of course, U.S. presidents have done this right along. Apparently AIPAC sought specific assurance in writing that this one-sided policy will continue. In U.S.-Israeli parlance, an “anti-Israeli resolution” is one that in any way implies that the Palestinians have rights in what was once Palestine.

The biggest howler in the Act is this:

To assist the Government of Israel with its ongoing efforts to forge a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security, and to encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Israel is not, and never has been, interested in such efforts. and the U.S government has not been an honest broker for peace. Israel claims to want a two-state solution with the Palestinians, but all the while it seizes land owned by Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the exclusive use of Jews. It has built a wall that surrounds Palestinian towns and separates Palestinian homes from farmland. The situation has been likened to two people “negotiating” to divide a pizza while one of them eats it.

Perhaps most egregious of all, the Act’s first provision is to “To reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state” (emphasis added). Thus Congress, speaking for the American people, has put in writing its commitment to a state based on ethno-racial considerations. Would we tolerate that here? As pointed out before, Israel is the only country in the world that even in theory does not belong to all its citizens. It is said to belong to The Jewish People, no matter where individuals Jews lives.

Jews from around the world can move to Israel and quickly become citizens and be provided subsidized housing. Yet a Palestinian born in Palestine and driven out by Zionist militias may not return. Since “Jew” is clearly not a religious category (most Israelis are nonreligious and even atheist), it must instead be ethno-racial. (Though this does not mean that Jews actually belong to a single race or ethnic group.)

This insistence on Israel’s remaining forever a Jewish state gives the lie to Israeli claims to being a democratic country. Palestinian “citizens” of Israel are third-class citizens who would never be permitted to become the majority and change the country’s basic, ethno-racial law. (In Israel citizenship is not as important as nationality, the two major categories of which are “Jew” and “Arab.”) In this light, look more closely at Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s repeated statements that Israel and the United States are a partnership of “shared values.”

To this commitment, Rep. Paul objected that the U.S. government should “not guarantee the religious ethnic, or cultural composition of a foreign country.”

The day after Obama signed this Act, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited Israel, where he declared:

It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. And ours is an alliance [what alliance?] based not only on shared interests but also on enduring shared values.

Thus no matter who wins the election, the American people are joined at the hip with Israel, which means they are at the mercy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is either itching for war with Iran–a war that would have disastrous consequences for the people of the region, as well as most Americans–or is blackmailing Obama to get additional favors between now and election day.

Posted in USAComments Off on The American People are at the Mercy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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