Archive | March 6th, 2014

Kiev gives oligarchs top jobs in new government



ed note–from the Wikipedia page on Ihor Valeriyovych Kolomoyskyi—’A Ukrainian-Israeli business oligarch of Jewish descent. Kolomoysky has a dual Ukrainian-Israeli citizenship although dual citizenship is not recognized by Ukraine and controls his business empire from Switzerland. Kolomoyskyi is the leading partner of the Privat Group and a de facto chairman of the FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.’

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Obama Threatens Putin with ‘Isolation’ Over Ukraine Incursion



U.S. President Obama phones Russian President Vladimir Putin, tells him Russia violated international law with its incursion into Ukraine.

Israel National News

U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with political and economic isolation” over Russia’s military incursion in Ukraine.

AFP reported that the warning came in a 90-minute phone call between the two leaders. Obama reportedly told Putin that Russia had violated international law with its incursion into Ukraine.

The White House said Obama called on Putin to pull Russian troops back to their bases in Crimea and warned that continued violation of international law by Moscow would lead to further “political and economic isolation.”

The call came as Obama’s national security team met to draw up U.S. responses to the escalating crisis, after Russia’s parliament gave Putin the formal go ahead to send forces to Ukraine and officials in Kiev said 6,000 forces had already been sent to Crimea.

“President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the White House said in a detailed statement about the call, according to AFP.

Obama told Putin that his actions were a “breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine.”

“The United States calls on Russia to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces back to bases in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine,” the statement said.

Obama also warned Putin that the people of Ukraine had the right to determine their own future.

“Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation,” the statement added.

Obama informed Putin, with whom he has had tense public interactions, that he would order American diplomats to stop preparatory meetings for the G8 summit in Sochi, Russia in June.

Obama did use the call to recognize that there were deep cultural ties between Ukraine and Russia and that there was a need to protect ethnic Russians in the former Soviet republic, reported AFP.

At the same time, he argued that the proper way to do that was through a dialogue with the government in Kiev and with international observers on the ground appointed by the United Nations Security Council and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Meanwhile on Saturday, acting Ukrainian President Olexander Turchynov placed the Ukrainian armed forces on “high alert” after Russian forces stormed the Crimean peninsula.

Turchynov reportedly ordered increased security at nuclear power plants, airports and other strategic infrastructure, because of the threat of “potential aggression” from the Russian troops.

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Assata Shakur – black women in the fight for liberation and socialism



Red Youth salutes the revolutionary women of the world! Our young cadre will be publishing short pieces all this week to celebrate our revolutionary heroines in the run up to International Women’s Day. Today we give a Red Salute to Assata Shakur.

Come and celebrate International Womens Day this Sunday in Birmingham with the CPGB-ML and Red Youth at 274 Moseley Rd, Highgate, B12 0BS.

assata shakur

People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.

– Assata Shakur

Assata Shakur, who is now residing in Cuba and who remains on US imperialism’s list of the ‘most wanted’, has spent her entire adult life fighting imperialism and racism in the USA – a direct result of her involvement with the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army.

In her own words:

I am a 20th-century escaped slave. Because of  government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of colour. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.

She graduated from City College of New York and, at 23, she became involved with the Black Panther Party, helping to organise breakfast programmes for school children, before becoming a member of the Harlem branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP).

The BPP was an organisation dedicated to protecting black communities in the USA from police brutality and with an outspoken anti-imperialist, socialist political position, and it had set up social programmes which it called “survival programmes” to help its community.

These included the breakfast programme, medical clinics, a service to drive people to prisons to visit incarcerated family members (the US government continues to put people in prison many miles away from family as an added form of torture and an obstacle to visits), legal aid and posting bail.

The party was founded on an eclectic

Black Panther newspaper Kim il Sung

ideological basis but it included many ideas and theories from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and Castro. Unsurprisingly in the context of the times, the influence of Mao Zedong and China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was strong, as was the party’s friendship with Kim il Sung’s Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which sheltered many escaped Panther members.

The BPP openly and repeatedly praised the socialist revolutions in Vietnam, Cuba and China. In its early years, the party also raised money to buy shotguns (which they openly carried while on patrol) by selling copies ofQuotations of Chairman Mao.

Comrade Assata left the Black Panther Party in the tumultuous years that followed the McCarthyite political repression that the CIA, led by Hoover, unleashed on the black liberation and socialist movement under the codename Cointelpro, and which saw many Panthers summarily executed by the state. She would later join the Black Liberation Army.

As a result of defending herself from an assassination attempt by the state, Comrade Shakur was found guilty by the US courts of several crimes, including the killing of one New Jersey state trooper and the wounding of another. She escaped from prison in 1979 and has been living in Cuba in political asylum since 1984.

There have been multiple attempts to extradite her. In 1997, Carl Williams, superintendent of the New Jersey state police  wrote a letter to Pope John Paul II requesting him to raise the issue of Shakur’s extradition during his talks with President Fidel Castro.

Since 2005, the FBI has classified her Comrade Assata a ‘domestic terrorist’. In 2013, the FBI made Shakur the first woman to feature on its list of most wanted ‘terrorists’ and a $2m bounty was offered for her capture.

Comrade Assata Shakur, like thousands of other young revolutionary women in the 1960s – took a stand against the injustices of the imperialist system and has remained a firm anti-imperialist fighter until this day. A generation of young black Americans fought bravely in the ranks of the Black Panther Party and the other revolutionary organisations of those times and faced immense hardship and the brutality of the United States police and secret services.

Assata stands tall today as an example to a whole new generation of women: dare to struggle and dare to win!

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Leila Khaled



Red Youth salutes the revolutionary women of the world! Our young cadre will be publishing short pieces all this week to celebrate our revolutionary heroines in the run up to International Women’s Day. Today, Comrade Adam, aged 12, discusses Leila Khaled.

Red Youth will be meeting to celebrate International Women’s Day on 9 March, at 1.00pm, at the CPGB-ML party centre 274 Moseley Road, Highgate, Birmingham.

In the beginning, all women had to prove that we could be equal to men in armed struggle. So we wanted to be like men – even in our appearance … I no longer think it’s necessary to prove ourselves as women by imitating men.

I have learned that a woman can be a fighter, a freedom fighter, a political activist, and that she can fall in love, and be loved, she can be married, have children, be a mother … Revolution must mean life also; every aspect of life.

– Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She was born on 9 April 1944 in Haifa, Palestine. She and her family fled to Lebanon during the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe), leaving her father behind.

At the age of 15, following in the footsteps of her brother, Leila joined the radical Arab Left Nationalist Movement, originally started in the late 1940s by Comrade George Habash. The Palestinian branch of this movement became the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Leila Khaled with portrait

Leila Khaled with a portrait of her younger self

Comrade Khaled came to public attention for her role in a 1969 hijacking of the TWA Flight 840, which aimed to publicise Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. On its way from Rome to Athens, she and her comrades diverted a plane to Damascus. She ordered the pilot to fly over Haifa, so she could see her birth place, which she could not return to. No one was injured, but the aircraft was blown up after all the hostages had disembarked.

After this high-profile operation, Leila underwent six plastic surgery operations on her nose and chin to conceal her identity and allow her to take part in a future hijacking – and because she did not want to wear the face of an icon.

On 6 September 1970, Leila and Patrick Arguello, a Nicaraguan, attempted the hijack of Israeli El-al flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York as part of the Dawson Field hijackings – a series of almost simultaneous hijackings carried out by the PLFP. The attack was foiled when Israeli sky marshals killed Arguello and overpowered Khaled. Although she was carrying two hand grenades at the time, Khaled had received very strict instructions not to threaten passengers on the civilian flight.

The pilot diverted the aircraft to Heathrow airport in London, where Leila was delivered to Ealing police station. On 1 October, the British government released her as part of a prisoner exchange. The next year, the PFLP abandoned the tactic of hijacking, although splinter movements continued to hijack airplanes.

Leila Khaled in Damascus

Leila Khaled, defiant, in Damascus

Speaking about Palestinian freedom fighters such as comrade Khaled, and the many martyrs and soldiers of the PFLP and PLO, the legendary George Habash said these words:

I remember each of the martyrs, one by one, and without exception – those martyrs to whom we are indebted, for whom we must continue the struggle, holding fast to the dream and holding fast to hope, and protecting the rights of the people for whom they shed their blood. Their children and their families have a right to be honoured and cared for. This is the least we can do for those blazing stars in the skies of our homeland.

I also remember now the heroic prisoners in the jails of the occupation and the prisons of the Palestinian Authority – those militants who remind us morning and night of our patriotic duty by the fact that they are still there behind bars and by the fact that the occupation still squats on our chests. Each prisoner deserves the noblest signs of respect …

Now permit me to express my gratitude to all the comrades who have worked with me and helped me, whether in the Arab Nationalist Movement or in the Popular Front. They stood beside me during the hardest conditions and the darkest of times, and they were a great help and support for me. Without them I would not have been able to carry out my responsibilities. They have been true comrades, in all that the word implies.

Those comrades helped to create a congenial atmosphere, an environment of political, theoretical, and intellectual interaction that enabled me to do all that was required. Those comrades have a big place in my heart and mind. I offer all my thanks and appreciation to each one of them by name. In addition, to the comrades who vigilantly guarded me, looking out for my safety, all these long years, I offer my gratitude …

As a last word, I feel it necessary to say that I know well that the goals for which I worked and struggled have not yet been attained. And I cannot say how or when they will be attained. But on the other hand, I know in light of my study of the march of history in general, and of Arab and Palestinian history in particular, that they will be attained.

In spite of this bitter truth, I leave my task as General Secretary of the Front with a contented mind and conscience. My conscience is content because I did my duty and worked with the greatest possible effort and with complete and deep sincerity. My mind is content because throughout my working years, I continually based myself on the practice of self-criticism.

It is important to say also that I will pay close attention to all your observations and assessments of the course taken by the Popular Front while I was its General Secretary. I must emphasise that with the same close attention, if not with greater attention, I will follow and take to heart the observations and assessments of the Palestinian and Arab people on this course and my role in it.

My aim in this closing speech has been to say to you – and not only to you, but to all the detainees, or those who experienced detention, to the families of the martyrs, to the children of the martyrs, to those who were wounded, to all who sacrificed and gave for the cause – that your sacrifice has not been in vain. The just goals and legitimate rights which they have struggled and given their lives for will be attained, sooner or later. I say again that I don’t know when, but they will be attained.

And my aim, again and again, is to emphasise the need for you to persist in the struggle to serve our people, for the good of all Palestinians and Arabs – the good that lies in a just and legitimate cause, as it does in the realisation of the good for all those who are oppressed and wronged.

You must always be of calm mind, and of contented conscience, with a strong resolve and a steel will, for you have been and still are in the camp of justice and progress, the camp whose just goals will be attained and which will inevitably attain its legitimate rights. For these are the lessons of history and reality, and no right is lost as long as there is someone fighting for it.

Khaled continued to return to Britain for speaking engagements until as late as 2002, although she was refused a visa by the British embassy in 2005 to address a meeting at the Féile an Phobail in Belfast, where she was invited as a speaker.

She is now married to the physician Fayez Rashid Hilal, and today lives with their two sons Bader and Bashar in Gaza, Palestine, where she currently serves on the Palestinian National Council.

Leila Khaled on the PNC

Leila Khaled currently serves on the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation

Comrade Leila was the subject of a film entitled Leila Khaled, Hijacker. The documentary film Hijacker – The Life of Leila Khaled was directed by Palestinian filmmaker, Lina Makboul.

Laila Khaled will always be remembered as a freedom fighter who stood up against the oppression of her country’s people. She fought against Israel and imperialism and for the liberation of Palestine.

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Eurasian Union nightmare for US and Europe


Pro-Kremlin activists march during a rally in support of ethnic Russians in Ukraine in central Moscow, March 2, 2014. (Photo:AFP/Dmitry Serebryakov)

By: Sabah Ayoub


Vladimir Putin’s political resilience in the Middle East bolstered by the creation of the Eurasian Union, similar to the European Union, is a nightmare for the Americans and Europeans. And through Ukraine’s revolutionary coup, America and the EU have decided to intervene in the emergence of a union made up of former Soviet republics under Russia’s leadership.

This time, Kiev’s “revolution” did not have a color or even a common slogan. There were no special scarves for the “revolutionaries” and food and drinks were not delivered to the tents. The “revolutionary” masses were not trained on peacefully toppling the regime. It was mostly made up of extremist right wing thugs from the Orange Revolution of 2004.

Europe and the US are well aware that “peaceful protests” would not have achieved their goals this time and the 2004 experience could not be repeated successfully. They are both bankrupt and running out of time, with spring just around the corner. But this year, it is a Russian spring that both economically sick continents are allergic to.

This painful allergic reaction is due to the expected launch of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most ambitious regional project. It entails the creation of the Eurasian Union, along the lines of the EU, which would include Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine, in addition to Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. The huge project’s first agreement is expected this spring and will be launched officially on the first day of 2015.The idea of bringing together the European and Asian countries of the former Soviet Union in a union has been Putin’s main ambition since taking power. It will include common economic, political, and security agreements, the guarantee of common interests, and the development of certain sectors. It has also been welcomed by most of the concerned countries. In its first inception, the union began in 2010 with a core group of countries – Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus – and in 2012 it developed into a unified economic zone.

The upcoming Eurasian project under Russia’s leadership will, of course, be one of the worst nightmares for the EU. It will mean the appearance of a strong entity, which will be able to assert itself on two continents and on the international scene. For the United States, the project will also threaten its interests in the region and will be a return of its “red” nightmare from the Cold War. Thus, in the midst of economic failure and political retreat, the EU and the US found themselves unable to stop the advance of an economically vigorous Eurasian project, which will be superior in terms of energy, security, and culture. So they did what they do best, encouraging chaos and carrying out coups. Ukraine is one of the countries whose entry to the Eurasian Union is feared most, with its various ethnicities, political divisions, and being the historical scene of compromise between the West and Russia. Thus, the US and the EU publically supported the recent coup. Joining the EU was the main demand of the movement in Kiev this time around. For “revolutionary necessity,” the calls for democracy, removing the dictatorial regime, and stopping Russia’s control were later added to the list of demands.

Western political and media campaigns

The details of the signing of the “Eurasian Union” agreement was absent from most analysis in the US, France, and the UK. Media campaigns focused on the promises of the revolution, “Ukrainian police repression against the demonstrators,” “the corruption of the Ukrainian dictator,” and “the Ukranian regime’s dependence on Russia.” Once more, the West reduced all of Ukraine to Kiev and the 45 million inhabitants of the country to the demonstrators in Maidan. None of the supporters of the Ukrainian “revolution” were concerned that the opposition does not have an alternative political project and did not present a clear plan for the leadership of the country in the future. 

When Russia decided to defend Russian citizens and Russian speakers and its interests in Crimea, as announced by its officials, western political and media campaigns began playing the tune of “civil war” and the threat of “division,” “Putin’s violation of international law,” and his “aggression against Ukrainian sovereignty.” Very few articles indicated the fact that many Ukrainians support special relations with Russia and do not believe they are represented by the new government. Some even welcome a Russian military intervention in the country. A few cameras could not ignore the banners hung in Simferopol and Sevastopol, which said, “Where we are, Russia exists,” and “Russia is the graveyard of bad ideas. It cannot be defeated.”

Those who launched the coup campaign in Ukraine are those who have the most to lose from the Eurasian project. They neglected the coup’s outcome and that an illegitimate and unelected government is now in power, made up of extreme right-wing groups, and which does not represent the majority of Ukrainians. More seriously, the new Ukrainian government does not have an economic or political program on how to lead the country in the future. Some journalists indicated that new Ukrainians officials requested 35 billion US dollars from their allies to avert an economic collapse this year, after Russia suspended its enormous aid to the country. This will be a new dilemma for the already faltering EU.

The US and EU sounded the alarms about Russian actions in Crimea and called for immediate international intervention to avert “civil war and division.” However, the region has not witnessed an ethnic or communal conflict in 25 years. Politically, the EU and the US quickly called for international mediation to reach an agreement between Russia and Ukraine. Russia, on the other hand, admitted that it has military and civil interests in Crimea and announced its intention to “defend the region” by all appropriate means. The 90 minute phone conversation between Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama did not change any of those facts.

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Argentina’s president says she will cancel agreement with Iran on Jewish center attack




Argentina’s president said she is ready to abrogate the country’s memorandum with Iran to jointly investigate the deadly 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner challenged Jewish institutions and opposition political parties that rejected the pact signed with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 AMIA attack, to work on an “alternative project, without mad proposals such an invasion of Iran,” during her State of the Nation speech on Saturday.

Kirchner told lawmakers during her speech that in December she and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman met in her office with leaders of the AMIA Jewish center and asked them to prepare an alternative proposal: “one that is different than the current Memorandum of Understanding, but within the margins of international law and due process that will allow the investigation to move forward.”

“As president, I pledge to terminate this agreement and carry out what they propose. Memory, truth and justice should not be just a slogan,” she said.

The meeting Kirchner referred to was with the leaders of the DAIA, the Jewish political umbrella organization that represents a network of national Jewish institutions. The meeting was held to discuss new ways to advance the investigation into the AMIA bombing case.

“We are working on other alternatives but first it is necessary to abolish the memorandum with Iran. We will launch a broad national campaign to negate the Memorandum of Understanding as the first step to advance in other ways,” Wald Wolff, DAIA vice president, told JTA.

The bilateral accord to jointly investigate the July 1994 AMIA bombing, which killed 85 and injured hundreds, came in January 2013. Argentina’s Jewish community, international Jewish groups, Israel and the United States have protested the agreement. Iran has been implicated in bombing, but no one has ever been brought to justice.

In November, 2013, Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman asked a federal judge to declare unconstitutional his country’s memorandum with Iran.

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Citing ‘Coup’ in Ukraine, Putin Reserves Right to Use Force


Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, in his first comments since the crisis in Ukraine boiled over, said on Tuesday that he saw no reason for Russia’s army to intervene in eastern Ukraine at the moment, but left open the possibility of military action, saying that Russia “reserves the right to use all means at our disposal to protect” Russian speakers in the country’s south and east if they are in danger.

“We are not going to fight with the Ukrainian people,” he said. “I want you to understand me clearly. If we make such a decision, it will only be for the protection of Ukrainian citizens. And God forbid if any of the servicemen tries to shoot their own people, we will be standing behind them — not in front, but behind. Let them try to shoot women and children!”

Speaking defiantly at an hourlong, unscripted news conference in Moscow at which he described events in Ukraine as an “unconstitutional coup,” Mr. Putin denied that Russian troops had occupied Crimea and laid blame for the crisis on the United States, which he said had interfered in Ukraine “from across the pond in America as if they were sitting in a laboratory and running experiments on rats, without any understanding of the consequences.”

Clearly furious, Mr. Putin delivered a version of the crisis almost entirely at odds with the view held by most officials in Europe and the United States, as well as by many Ukrainians. He described anti-government protests in Kiev as an “orgy” of radicals and nationalists, noting a swastika armband that he had glimsed in images of the crowd. He also insisted that ousted President Viktor F. Yanukovich had never ordered security forces to shoot protesters, suggesting that snipers stationed on rooftops “may have been provocateurs from opposition parties.”

Mr. Putin said Mr. Yanukovych’s fatal mistake had been to order security forces to withdraw from the site of the protests after days of bloodshed, while the sides were engaged in negotiations, and that he had personally warned him not to do so. He said Russia had then stepped in to assist Mr. Yanukovych, but did so for humanitarian reasons, “”because death is the simplest way to get rid of the legitimate president, and it would have happened. I think he would have been probably killed.”

And he expressed confidence that the crisis would not boil over into war, because, as he put it, Ukrainian and Russian soldiers are “brothers in arms.”

“I am convinced that Ukrainian personnel and Russian personnel will not be on different sides of the barricades, they will be on the same side of the barricades,” he said. “There has not been a shot fired in Crimea. The tense situation in Crimea, related to the possibility of the use of force, has been exhausted. There was no necessity of that.”

The Kremlin leader took issue with Western threats of reprisals, including sanctions and a boycott of the meeting of the Group of 8 industrial nations that is scheduled to be held in Russia. “All threats against Russia are counterproductive and harmful,” he said, according to Reuters, adding that Russia was ready to host the G-8 but Western leaders who did not want to attend “don’t need to.”

Mr. Putin acknowledged that had met two days ago with Mr. Yanukovych, saying he was “safe and sound” and dismissing rumors that the ousted Ukrainian president had died of a heart attack.

Mr. Putin’s remarks came after declared the scheduled end of a military exercise he ordered in western Russia near Ukraine’s border last week, telling military units that participated to return to their permanent garrisons.

There was no indication that Mr. Putin’s move presaged any easing of a crisis that has raised Western fears that the region may be spinning toward a broader conflict. Tension remained high in Crimea, where Russian troops are blockading Ukrainian military facilities in what the authorities in Kiev have called a declaration of war.

He denied that military personnel in unmarked uniforms who now control much of Crimea are Russian forces, describing them instead as “local defense forces.”

“Look at the people who were operating in Kiev – they were very well trained at special camps in Poland and Lithuania, they were trained by special structures,” he said. “Why do you think that the self-defense forces in Crimea should be any less professional.”

He said Russia is not considering annexing Crimea, but said Crimean citizens should be allowed to determine their own future, presumably as part of Russia or Ukraine

“We are not considering this possibility,” he said. “It’s up to people living in a certain territory, if they can exercise their free will, and determine their future. For example, if Kosovo’s Albanians were allowed to do that, self-determination, which according to U.N. documents is a right, but we will never instigate it, never support such trends.”

“Only the people who live in a certain territory have the right to decide their own future,” he said.

But in a graphic illustration of the standoff and its potential hazards, Russian troops on Tuesday fired warning shots in the air as approximately 200 unarmed Ukrainian soldiers approached Russian positions on the perimeter of the contested Belbek airfield in Crimea to press demands to return to their positions there and conduct joint patrols.

In Moscow, the Kremlin responded to American warnings of economic punishment and isolation for its actions in Crimea with a counterthreat that Moscow might abandon the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to repay loans to American banks, Reuters reported. The warning came from Sergei Glazyev, a Kremlin aide with limited influence over the formulation of a policy but boasting a reputation for staking out hard-line positions, the news agency said.

Secretary of State John. Kerry was expected to meet with the fledgling Ukrainian leadership that forced President Yanukovych to flee to Russia last month as the crisis deepened. He will be the highest-ranking Western official to meet the administration, signaling the Obama administration’s support for a government that the Kremlin does not recognize.

The Russian military exercise coincided with the deployment of Russian special forces troops to Crimea beginning last Friday, though officials maintained it was not directly related to the conflict in Ukraine. Nothing the Kremlin reported on Tuesday suggested that the Russian operations in Crimea would end.

The military exercise involved the mobilization of the entire Western Military District, which stretches from the border of Ukraine to the Arctic, as well as units from the Central Military District, the Baltic Fleet and air defense commands. The troops dispatched to Ukraine are reported to have deployed from ports and airfields in the Southern Military District.

Mr. Putin ordered the mobilization only days before Russian forces began spreading through Crimea, and despite officials’ reassurances to the contrary, the timing and scale of the operations had a palpable message. Mr. Putin attended the culmination of the exercises near St. Petersburg on Monday, appearing in state television reports observing live-fire training involving tanks and helicopters.

The Kremlin announced the end of the maneuvers – which involved 150,000 troops, as well as air and naval forces and live-fire demonstrations in several Russian bases – and reported that they had been “successfully carried out.”

At the United Nations, where the Security Council met on Monday for the third time in an emergency session since Friday, the Ukrainian ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, distributed a three-page letter asserting that the Russians had sent 16,000 troops into the Crimean Peninsula since Feb. 24.

The troops, Mr. Sergeyev wrote, had moved to “seize, block and control crucial governmental and military objects of Ukraine in Crimea.”

Russia has denied Western accusations that it flouted international law in asserting military control in Crimea, a historically Russian region that is home to its Black Sea naval base. The Russians have asserted that they moved to protect their legitimate interests there after President Yanukovych fled more than a week ago after protests in Kiev against his shift toward closer relations with Russia.

The Kremlin still regards him as Ukraine’s legitimate president.

The Security Council meeting in New York was requested by Russia’s ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, who told fellow members that Russia had acted to thwart what he called threats by ultranationalists, including anti-Semites, against Russians and Russian speakers inside Ukraine. Mr. Churkin also held up a copy of a letter from Mr. Yanukovych to Russia asking for military help.

Yet the Security Council meeting quickly became a venue for East-West diplomatic gibes and rejoinders. The British ambassador, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, called Russia’s justification bogus, while the envoy from Lithuania, Raimonda Murmokaite, told the Council it “resurrects the memory of darkest pages of the 20th century.”

After Mr. Churkin had spoken, Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, said, “Listening to the representative of Russia, one might think that Moscow had just become the rapid response arm of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.”

The Council took no action, and it remained unclear what — if anything — it might agree to do, since Russia, a permanent member, has veto power.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Citing ‘Coup’ in Ukraine, Putin Reserves Right to Use Force

Kerry at AIPAC: I$raHell’s security is America’s ‘first priority’



by editor

Kerry speaking at the AIPAC annual conference.

U.S. secretary of state voices support for diplomacy in Iran nuclear negotiations, peace talks with Palestinians.


The United States will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday, but stressed that it must first exhaust all other options before considering military action.

“Those who say strike and hit need to check what might happen after we do that,” Kerry said at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. “Only strong diplomacy can justify more forceful options if we will have to use them.”

The American approach toward Iran, the U.S. secretary of state said, is not “trust and verify,” but “verify and verify,” and added that he has 10 words for the audience: “We will not permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapon. Period.”

If the nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers will fail, Kerry said, the Obama administration will support imposing further sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

He stressed that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

As for the ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry said that both Israelis and the Palestinians are faced with tough choices. He noted that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “committed” to peace, and that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “understands the costs of failure.”

He said that Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and from Gaza prove the need to negotiate peace, and vowed that the U.S. “will not let the West Bank turn into another Gaza.”

“Israel’s security is our first priority,” Kerry said.

The U.S. secretary of state stopped short of saying that, as part of a future peace deal, the Palestinian would have to recognize Israel as nation-state for the Jewish people, as Prime Minister Netanyahu demands, but said that any peace agreement “must also guarantee Israel’s nature as a Jewish state.”

Kerry also assured crowd at the conference of the pro-Israel lobby that the U.S. will counter any attempts to boycott Israel.

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Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many?



Exclusive: Russia’s parliament has approved President Putin’s request for the use of force inside neighboring Ukraine, as the latest neocon-approved “regime change” spins out of control and threatens to inflict grave damage on international relations, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern

Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative “regime changers” of Official Washington and their sophomoric “responsibility-to-protect” (R2P) allies in the Obama administration? Have they dangerously over-reached by pushing the putsch that removed duly-elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given an unmistakable “yes” to those questions – in deeds, not words. His message is clear: “Back off our near-frontier!”

President Barack Obama discusses Ukraine during a meeting with members of his National Security Staff in the Oval Office, Feb. 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama discusses Ukraine during a meeting with members of his National Security Staff in the Oval Office, Feb. 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Moscow announced on Saturday that Russia’s parliament has approved Putin’s request for permission to use Russia’s armed forces “on the territory of the Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country.”

Putin described this move as necessary to protect ethnic Russians and military personnel stationed in Crimea in southern Ukraine, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet and other key military installations are located. But there is no indication that the Russian parliament has restricted the use of Russian armed forces to the Crimea.

Unless Obama is completely bereft of advisers who know something about Russia, it should have been a “known-known” (pardon the Rumsfeldian mal mot) that the Russians would react this way to a putsch removing Yanukovich. It would have been a no-brainer that Russia would use military force, if necessary, to counter attempts to use economic enticement and subversive incitement to slide Ukraine into the orbit of the West and eventually NATO.

This was all the more predictable in the case of Ukraine, where Putin – although the bête noirein corporate Western media – holds very high strategic cards geographically, militarily, economically and politically.

Unlike ‘Prague Spring’ 1968

Moscow’s advantage was not nearly as clear during the short-lived “Prague Spring” of 1968 when knee-jerk, non-thinking euphoria reigned in Washington and West European capitals. Thecognoscenti were, by and large, smugly convinced that reformer Alexander Dubcek could break Czechoslovakia away from the U.S.S.R.’s embrace and still keep the Russian bear at bay.

My CIA analyst portfolio at the time included Soviet policy toward Eastern Europe, and I was amazed to see analysts of Eastern Europe caught up in the euphoria that typically ended with, “And the Soviets can’t do a damned thing about it!”

That summer a new posting found me advising Radio Free Europe Director Ralph Walter who, virtually alone among his similarly euphoric colleagues, shared my view that Russian tanks would inevitably roll onto Prague’s Wenceslaus Square, which they did in late August.

Past is not always prologue. But it is easy for me to imagine the Russian Army cartographic agency busily preparing maps of the best routes for tanks into Independence Square in Kiev, and that before too many months have gone by, Russian tank commanders may be given orders to invade, if those stoking the fires of violent dissent in the western parts of Ukraine keep pushing too far.

That said, Putin has many other cards to play and time to play them. These include sitting back and doing nothing, cutting off Russia’s subsidies to Ukraine, making it ever more difficult for Yanukovich’s successors to cope with the harsh realities. And Moscow has ways to remind the rest of Europe of its dependence on Russian oil and gas.

Another Interference

There is one huge difference between Prague in 1968 and Kiev 2014. The “Prague Spring” revolution led by Dubcek enjoyed such widespread spontaneous popular support that it was difficult for Russian leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Aleksey Kosygin to argue plausibly that it was spurred by subversion from the West.

Not so 45-plus years later. In early February, as violent protests raged in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and the White House professed neutrality, U.S. State Department officials were, in the words of NYU professor emeritus of Russian studies Stephen Cohen, “plotting a coup d’état against the elected president of Ukraine.”

We know that thanks to neocon prima donna Victoria Nuland, now Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, who seemed intent on giving new dimension to the “cookie-pushing” role of U.S. diplomats. Recall the photo showing Nuland in a metaphor of over-reach, as she reached deep into a large plastic bag to give each anti-government demonstrator on the square a cookie before the putsch.

More important, recall her amateurish, boorish use of an open telephone to plot regime change in Ukraine with a fellow neocon, U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. Crass U.S. interference in Ukrainian affairs can be seen (actually, better, heard) in an intercepted conversation posted on YouTube on Feb. 4.

Yikes! It’s Yats!

Nuland was recorded as saying: “Yats is the guy. He’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the guy you know. … Yats will need all the help he can get to stave off collapse in the ex-Soviet state. He has warned there is an urgent need for unpopular cutting of subsidies and social payments before Ukraine can improve.”

And guess what. The stopgap government formed after the coup designated Nuland’s guy Yats, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, prime minister! What luck! Yats is 39 and has served as head of the central bank, foreign minister and economic minister. And, as designated pinch-hitter-prime-minister, he has already talked about the overriding need for “responsible government,” one willing to commit “political suicide,” as he put it, by taking unpopular social measures.

U.S. meddling has been so obvious that at President Barack Obama’s hastily scheduled Friday press conference on Ukraine, Yats’s name seemed to get stuck in Obama’s throat. Toward the end of his scripted remarks, which he read verbatim, the President said: “Vice President Biden just spoke with Prime Minister [pause] – the prime minister of Ukraine to assure him that in this difficult moment the United States supports his government’s efforts and stands for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic future of Ukraine.”

Obama doesn’t usually stumble like that – especially when reading a text, and is normally quite good at pronouncing foreign names. Perhaps he worried that one of the White House stenographic corps might shout out, “You mean our man, Yats?” Obama departed right after reading his prepared remarks, leaving no opportunity for such an outburst.

Western media was abuzz with the big question: Will the Russians apply military force? The answer came quickly, though President Obama chose the subjunctive mood in addressing the question on Friday.

Throwing Down a Hanky

There was a surreal quality to President Obama’s remarks, several hours after Russian (or pro-Russian) troops took control of key airports and other key installations in the Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, and home to a large Russian naval base and other key Russian military installations.

Obama referred merely to “reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine” and warned piously that “any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing.”

That Obama chose the subjunctive mood – when the indicative was, well, indicated – will not be lost on the Russians. Here was Obama, in his typically lawyerly way, trying to square the circle, giving a sop to his administration’s neocon holdovers and R2P courtiers, with a Milquetoasty expression of support for the new-Nuland-approved government (citing Biden’s assurances to old whatshisname/yatshisname).

While Obama stuck to the subjunctive tense, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk appealed to Russia to recall its forces and “stop provoking civil and military resistance in Ukraine.”

Obama’s comments seemed almost designed to sound condescending – paternalistic, even – to the Russians. Already into his second paragraph of his scripted remarks, the President took a line larded with words likely to be regarded as a gratuitous insult by Moscow, post-putsch.

“We’ve made clear that they [Russian officials] can be part of an international community’s effort to support the stability of a united Ukraine going forward, which is not only in the interest of the people of Ukraine and the international community, but also in Russia’s interest.”

By now, Russian President Vladimir Putin is accustomed to Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, et al. telling the Kremlin where its interests lie, and I am sure he is appropriately grateful. Putin is likely to read more significance into these words of Obama:

“The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine … and we will continue to coordinate closely with our European allies.”

Fissures in Atlantic Alliance

There are bound to be fissures in the international community and in the Western alliance on whether further provocation in Ukraine is advisable. Many countries have much to lose if Moscow uses its considerable economic leverage over natural gas supplies, for example.

And, aspiring diplomat though she may be, Victoria Nuland presumably has not endeared herself to the EC by her expressed “Fuck the EC” attitude.

Aside from the most servile allies of the U.S. there may be a growing caucus of Europeans who would like to return the compliment to Nuland. After all does anyone other than the most extreme neocon ideologue think that instigating a civil war on the border of nuclear-armed Russia is a good idea? Or that it makes sense to dump another economic basket case, which Ukraine surely is, on the EU’s doorstep while it’s still struggling to get its own economic house in order?

Europe has other reasons to feel annoyed about the overreach of U.S. power and arrogance. The NSA spying revelations – that continue, just like the eavesdropping itself does – seem to have done some permanent damage to transatlantic relationships.

In any case, Obama presumably knows by now that he pleased no one on Friday by reading that flaccid statement on Ukraine. And, more generally, the sooner he realizes that – without doing dumb and costly things – he can placate neither the neocons nor the R2P folks (naively well meaning though the latter may be), the better for everyone.

In sum, the Nulands of this world have bit off far more than they can chew; they need to be reined in before they cause even more dangerous harm. Broader issues than Ukraine are at stake. Like it or not, the United States can benefit from a cooperative relationship with Putin’s Russia – the kind of relationship that caused Putin to see merit last summer in pulling Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire on Syria, for example, and in helping address thorny issues with Iran.

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Is AIPAC Doomed?



Israel Parasite

By Philip Giraldi

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference begins on March 2 and will conclude with an address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 4. The organizers boast that the meeting of “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” will attract “more than 14,000 pro-Israel Americans, more than two-thirds of Congress, [and] more than 2,200 students from 491 campuses”.

There will be speeches by Senator John McCain and by Secretary of State John Kerry.

As part of the group’s lobbying effort, the attendees will descend en masse on the Capitol Hill offices of Senators and Congressmen, delivering the message that AIPAC is alive and well in spite of some recent very public setbacks.

They will demand that the United States continue to pressure Iran with new sanctions even as the White House is searching for a way to avoid another potentially catastrophic war in the Middle East.

They will argue that Iran is a danger to the entire world and must be reduced to a level where it cannot even contemplate either offensive or retaliatory defensive action against Israel, to include the dismantling of its nuclear program and destruction of its ballistic missiles with a range exceeding 500 km.

AIPAC will claim record levels of fundraising and grassroots support. Indeed, its endowment totals $100m, its annual budget is nearly $70m and it has more than 200 employees, making it the most powerful and best funded foreign policy lobby in the US. But largely invisible amid the self-congratulating and lobbying process will be any sense of what the actual US vital interests might be vis-a-vis Israel.

The powerful Israel lobby, of which AIPAC is a part, has long argued that the foreign policy and security interests of Washington and Tel Aviv are identical, or to use the currently fashionable expressions, there is no space between the two and the US will always “have Israel’s back”.

A Tiny Client State

Washington’s political class has wholeheartedly and uncritically adopted both the Israel-centric jargon and also Tel Aviv’s skewed perceptions of Middle Eastern realities, producing the unique spectacle of a great global power doing everything possible to placate a tiny client state. Pandering to Israel will be on full display at the AIPAC conference.

But amid all the celebration AIPAC’s leadership knows that it can no longer produce a napkin and have the signatures of 70 senators on it within a day. Nor does its steady flow of “information memos” sent to the legislature and the media command the same respect they once did.

Recent US engagement in Iraq, Libya, and Egypt, all supported by Israel and its supporters for various reasons, are increasingly being regarded as in no way beneficial to the US, quite the contrary.

AIPAC can no longer draft legislation favorable to Israel, send it over to Congress and expect a finished bill to emerge, passed with a unanimous vote. It has suffered major defeats through its open support for bombing Syria and for legislation increasing sanctions on Iran, the former opposed overwhelmingly by an aroused war-weary public and the latter stalled in a suddenly nervous Congress.

AIPAC also opposed the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary due to his alleged “anti-Israel record”, though it did not do so openly and only lobbied the issue quietly on Capitol Hill. It was, nevertheless, a defeat.

Even The New York Times is taking note that AIPAC is now very much on the defensive, forcing it to respond to the Times commentary with an op-ed of its own defending its position on Iran, an uncharacteristic move for a group that is accustomed to operate in the shadows.

The rift has come about because reality and illusion have parted company. The reality is that the US cannot afford another war in the Middle East, either financially or in terms of the unintended consequences that wrecked the Iraqi and Afghan interventions.

It has only one compelling vital interest in the region and that is to keep energy resources flowing and a war with Iran would instead deliver a shock to a world economy that is still in recovery. Against that is the illusion that Israel is some kind of strategic asset or global partner for the US.

Apart from the pressure being exerted by groups like AIPAC, Americans are becoming increasingly aware that Washington has no compelling reason to sacrifice its own interests to sustain the freedom for Israel to behave as it wishes.

Nor does it have any justification to protect it from its neighbors, any more than it has a responsibility to do so for any other country in the Middle East. And there is a growing understanding that the lopsided relationship, not only hugely expensive in dollar terms, motivates terrorist groups like al-Qaeda to attack Americans.

This is not to say that the US cannot play a positive role and act in support of the best interests of all its friends in the Middle East, which it would accomplish by becoming genuinely an honest broker with a demonstrated interest in regional stability rather than in regime change.

AIPAC’s tunnel vision only permits it to see one “closest ally” and that must be Israel. Every other country is therefore reduced to a second rate player whose interests must coincide with those of Tel Aviv or be disregarded.

Wrong Side of History

The persistence of the AIPAC argument, which also idealizes Israel’s rather flawed and corrupt democracy to help make its case for a “special relationship”, has done grave damage to US interests throughout the Muslim world. As has sometimes been noted, Washington had no enemies in the post-colonial Middle East before Israel was founded in 1948. Now it has few friends.

Washington’s close embrace with Tel Aviv has been fostered by a mainstream media unwilling to be too critical of Israel’s actions. But this long established unanimity of viewpoint involving both media and its symbiotic punditry is beginning to erode as alternative sources of information continue to proliferate, which is why the leadership of AIPAC must seriously be concerned.

The shift in opinion is both permanent and growing in magnitude, including numerous younger Jews and Jewish liberals who have been speaking out to tell AIPAC that it does not speak for them, particularly given its record of uncritical support for increasingly hard line Israeli governments.

A better informed American public increasingly averse to foreign military adventures is becoming aware that issues formerly seen in Manichean terms are actually a good deal more complicated and then there is the experience factor. Recent US engagement in Iraq, Libya, and Egypt, all supported by Israel and its supporters for various reasons, are increasingly being regarded as in no way beneficial to the US, quite the contrary.

This explains the lack of fervour for a repeat performance in Syria or against Iran. It also means that AIPAC has found itself on the wrong side of history in terms of the desires of the American people, surely not a good place to be for a Washington lobby.

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