Archive | May 10th, 2014

A Reaction Against Globalization

NOVANEWS
Reset of Imperialist Borders

by GILBERT MERCIER

People all over the world, including the Scots, Catalans, Tuaregs, Crimeans, Kurds, Pashtuns, Basques and Palestinians are fighting for the right to have their own states. They want to control their lands and destinies and reclaim their national identities. Nations are usually defined by the common grounds of culture, language, and ethnicity within certain natural boundaries such as rivers, seas and large mountains. Because certain groups of people want to expand their territories through wars and conquests, other ethnic groups have been oppressed or even exterminated.

History is almost always written by the winners, and world maps are mostly drawn with the blood of the losers. Five hundred years ago, the conquest of the Americas by Europeans meant the start of the genocide of native tribal populations from current-day Canada all the way to Brazil. Large-scale European colonialism, and its hideous helper slavery, redrew the world map entirely on all continents. Most of the conflicts at play today have their origins decades or even centuries ago, and they can usually be traced back to the criminal follies of European colonial empires. Empires come and go, but they leave deep scars on world maps that foment conflicts for long periods.

Many of the problems in the Middle East today, for example, originate from decisions by Great Britain and France in the aftermath of World War I, after they defeated the Ottoman empire. Instead of splitting the Kurds between Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran, a state of Kurdistan should have been created. The treaty of Sevres, signed in 1920, provided for the recognition of a Kurdish state, but the agreement was never implemented. Kurdistan still does not have recognized  boundaries on any maps (see above image, where the red, white and green flag covers Kurdistan). Another colossal geopolitical blunder with dire consequences was the 1948 rubber stamping of a Jewish state’s creation in Palestine.

History stubbornly continues to challenge the arbitrary geography that imperialists have imposed. Unfortunately, the struggles often being violent. Despite the power and oppressive natures of Turkey and Israel, for example, neither the Kurds nor the Palestinians will ever relinquish their legitimate aspirations to have a state to call home. Besides Western instigation, the civil war unfolding in Ukraine has its roots in the ill-conceived and abrupt dismantlement of the Soviet Union in 1991. Paradoxically, the biggest challenge to globalization, which can be regarded as an extreme kind of imperialism, may take the form of a return to older cultural divides. This is happening even at the heart of former colonial powers like Spain, with the case of Catalonia, and the United Kingdom with Scotland. Soon to follow could be independence for the Basques that would involve France as well as Spain, and perhaps even a push for independence of Corsicans from France.

For Scotland and Catalonia, self determination will probably come peacefully through an electoral process. In Ukraine, the east and the west are sliding into a civil war; in Syria, after three years of civil war turned proxy war, more than 135,000 people are dead and 3.2 million have become refugees; and in Iraq, a sporadic but long-term sectarian war between Shiites and Sunnis is killing thousands of people every year, compliment of the 2003 US invasion. In Turkey, Syria and Iraq, the Kurds are still denied the right to call their home Kurdistan; in Mali, Algeria, and Libya, the Tuaregs remain stateless; Palestinians have been denied a proper state by Israel since 1948; in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Pashtuns of both countries are separated by an arbitrary border designed in London. Some identities will outlive any form of persecution. For example, although Kurdistan, Pashtunistan and Tuaregistan do not yet exist, these national identities do. Whether a Kurd lives in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, or Iran he will always define himself as being Kurdish. The same goes for a Tuareg in Mali, Algeria or Libya, and a Pashtun in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Two decades ago, the prospect of globalization seemed inevitable and positive in many respects. After all, borders between countries may be viewed as artificial separations that divide humanity and fuel conflicts. The European Union was at the forefront of this dream of open borders to heal the deep historical wounds of centuries of warfare. In the aftermath of two world wars, what could have been a better place than Europe to realize this Utopia, with former arch enemies like France and Germany co-existing harmoniously and trading with a single currency? Some imagined that nationalism and its primitive impulses would disappear. Twenty eight European nations bought into this Utopia, which quickly became a scheme to gather a global capitalist empire under the tutelage of the United States. The idealistic European Union of free circulation of people and ideas turned into an opportunity for banks and corporations to maximize profit by reducing labor costs.

In its present state, the EU is quite dysfunctional: not an EU for the people by the people, but rather, a monstrosity where a rarefied technocratic elite rules without popular consent. For Europe to continue as a political entity, it must become democratic and inclusive. The EU and globalization in general were promoted to citizens as being vectors of progress for the many; instead they have worked wonders for very few. Therefore it should not come as a surprise that, in this new historical cycle, more and more people are challenging the world order of corporate imperialism. This reaction is so strong that some ancient national entities, heirs of previous empires, are also cracking at the seam. Imperialism has arrogantly trampled ethnic groups and tried to destroy cultural entities. The new era is one of backlash against arbitrary geopolitical divides as a push to regain democratic governance and reset boundaries on authentic ethnic, cultural or sectarian differences. A flip side of this trend is the confusion of nationalism with xenophobia, as illustrated by the rise of European far-right parties.

Centuries ago, Scots fought and died for freedom in fierce battles against England. On September 18, 2014, they will vote on a referendum in Scotland to determine independence from the United Kingdom. A May 4, 2014 editorial in Edinburgh’s Sunday Herald called for a Yes vote in a statement that explained: “The proposition is this: we believe independence will offer Scotland an historic opportunity to choose the kind of country that might allow its people to prosper. Decisions affecting our lives will be made on our doorsteps by people who live here. By us. A vote for independence says that a small country is not helpless in a big troubling world.”

In a few years, new world maps might include Scotland, Catalonia, Basque, Kurdistan, Tuaregistan, Pashtunistan, Corsica and several others as fully independent countries. Local government of manageable size for democratic rule could be the antidote against various kinds of imperialism, including that imposed by globalists. A return to smaller government is a natural reaction against the disempowerment, loss of specificity, and vertigo caused by a global empire that thrives on consumption and greed.

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Obama’s Bloodbath in Odessa

NOVANEWS
As Guilty as Anyone in Kiev
by MIKE WHITNEY

“As the building was engulfed in flames, photos posted on Twitter showed people hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills on several floors, possibly preparing to jump. Other images showed pro-regime elements celebrating the inferno. Some jeered on Twitter that “Colorado beetles are being roasted up in Odessa,” using a derogatory term for pro-Russian activists wearing St. George’s ribbons.”

– Mike Head, Washington responsible for fascist massacre in Odessa, World Socialist Web Site

“I think what’s happening now shows us who’s actually been orchestrating the process from the beginning. At first, the United States preferred to stay in the shadows, but now they’ve exposed themselves as the leaders of this whole process.”

– Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Members of the fascist Right Sector set fire to Odessa’s Trade Unions House on Friday killing 40 anti-coup activists who had retreated to the building to escape escalating street violence. Witnesses say that members of the Ukrainian security forces withdrew from the scene allowing the rightwing radicals to block the exits and firebomb the building forcing many to jump from open windows to the pavement below where they died on impact. The few who survived the fall were savagely beaten with clubs and chains by the nearly 300 extremist thugs who had gathered on the street. Much of the murderous provocation was caught on video including footage of the terrified occupants leaping to their deaths.

Just hours after the bloodbath took place in Odessa, President Obama praised the brutal crackdown in a joint-press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama announced that, “The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory.” The president made no mention of the 40 victims who were burned alive or who jumped to their death trying to escape the fire. Nor did Obama offer his condolences to the families who lost loved one’s in the Nazi-ignited blaze. Instead, the president demanded that heavier penalties be levied on Moscow for its ‘defiance’ in Crimea where people were allowed to choose their own future through a referendum. Here’s a clip from the press conference transcript:

“We are united in our determination to impose costs on Russia for its actions, including through coordinated sanctions….And as Ukrainian forces move to restore order in eastern Ukraine, it is obvious to the world that these Russian-backed groups are not peaceful protesters. They are heavily armed militants who are receiving significant support from Russia. The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory, and Russia needs to use its influence over these paramilitary groups so they disarm and stop provoking violence… if the Russian leadership does not change course, it will face increasing costs as well as growing isolation, diplomatic and economic.” (Wall Street Journal)

None of the victims of the tragedy were armed. None of them were Russian nationals. All of the people who were killed were identified as locals. There is no factual basis for Obama’s allegation that the “protestors… are heavily armed militants who are receiving significant support from Russia.” Obama’s claims are uncorroborated nonsense, fabrications and outright lies.

According to Obama, the coup government has “the right and responsibility to uphold law and order”, but (apparently) not to provide security for unarmed protestors who are burned alive by neo Nazis arsonists that perform their homicidal ritual in broad daylight while security troops look on approvingly. Do you see the flaw in Obama’s reasoning?

And what prompted Right Sector goons to stage the massacre when they had never done so before? Doesn’t that suggest that they must have gotten the green light from Kiev, which means, the attack must have been approved by Washington as well?

Is that where the bloody footprints lead; to the Oval Office?

Let’s suppose for a minute, that the White House was involved in the Odessa bloodbath. Wouldn’t that explain why the facts of the incident have not been accurately reported in any of the major media? Wouldn’t that explain why Obama failed to mention the incident in his press conference, or why the White House has not issued a statement condemning the perpetrators, or called for an independent investigation, or tried to interview any of the hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw what happened and reported the facts on Russian media?

Who authorized the attack on Odessa’s Trade Unions House? That’s what we want to know. Why did the Ukrainian Security Services withdraw and allow the fascist thugs to burn down the Zuccotti Park-like tent city in front of the building, chase the occupants into the building, painstakingly barricade the exits, and then hurl Molotov cocktails and stun grenades through the windows until the entire edifice was engulfed in flames?

Street fighting thugs don’t typically waste their time barricading exits unless it is part of a plan, a plan to create a big-enough incident to change the narrative of what is going on in the country.

But how does “changing the narrative” benefit Washington?

Well, just think of 9-11, for example: a “Pearl Harbor-type event” that changed all the rules and created the rational for curtailed civil liberties, authoritarian rule and perpetual war. Someone benefited from those changes, didn’t they?

Indeed. But how does that apply Ukraine and the Odessa tragedy?

Let’s say that Obama and his neocon advisors wanted to conceal what they’re really up to. Let’s say they felt they needed an excuse to justify NATO expansion, to block further EU-Russian economic integration, and to transform Ukraine into an anarchic, ungovernable failed state controlled by external powers. Let’s say Obama’s goals are not really altruistic after all, that he doesn’t really give a damn about democracy or freedom; that the real motive is the “pivot to Asia”, the dismemberment of the Russian Federation, the seizing of vital resources, and the control of China’s growth. So how does one achieve those goals without hoodwinking the public?

They don’t. Hoodwinking the public is an essential part any aggressive, imperialistic strategy, which is why western media has been embedded into the US Command Structure. The roll of propaganda is critical to the shaping of public opinion, garnering support for unpopular wars and policies, concealing the crimes of crooked politicians and outlaw corporatists, and diverting attention from the illicit, expansionist marauding of the Imperial state. In this case, Obama would rather propagate the fictitious narrative of an impending civil war then let people know what his real objectives are. The Odessa massacre fits perfectly into this strategy.

The incident suggests that deep ethnic and ideological differences are brewing just below the surface ready to explode at any minute into a full-blown civil war. But are they? The number of fascists in the country is actually quite small, probably just a few thousand altogether. That’s certainly not enough to incite a civil war. But, of course, the coup government can amplify their importance by giving them a free hand to carry out their murderous rampages, just as the media can magnify their importance by portraying their barbarous behavior as a symptom of deeply-rooted ethnic antagonisms that threaten to bubble up and rip Ukrainian society apart.

And that’s what they’ve done, isn’t it? The imposter government and the media have taken the rogue actions of a small group of bloodthirsty misfits, and patched together a story of a state that is on the fast-track to disintegration.

This isn’t the first time the US has tried to pull something like this off. In 2006, the Bush administration used a similar tactic in Iraq. That’s when Samarra’s Golden Dome Mosque was blown up in an effort to change the public’s perception of the conflict from an armed struggle against foreign occupation into a civil war. Bush wanted to use psy-ops (psychological operation) to shift attention away from US causalities (from an effective Sunni-led resistance) to a fictitious religious war between Sunni and Shia. The bombing of the third most sacred shrine in Islam, was expected to provide the Pearl Harbor-type event that would make the new narrative seem credible.

The media, of course, pushed the civil war trope as expected, even though the story unraveled some years later in an investigative piece that popped up in the New York Times. Here’s a blurb from the article titled “One Year Later, Golden Mosque still in Ruins” by Marc Santora:

“A caretaker at the shrine described what happened on the day of the attack, insisting on anonymity because he was afraid that talking to an American could get him killed. The general outline of his account was confirmed by American and Iraqi officials.

The night before the explosion, he said, just before the 8 p.m. curfew on Feb. 21, 2006, on the Western calendar, men dressed in commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry entered the shrine.

The caretaker said he had been beaten, tied up and locked in a room.

Throughout the night, he said, he could hear the sound of drilling as the attackers positioned the explosives, apparently in such a way as to inflict maximum damage on the dome”. (NY Times)

Clearly, if the men were men dressed in “commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry”, then the logical place to begin an investigation would be the Interior Ministry. (which was working hand in glove with US Intelligence agencies.) But there’s never been an investigation and the caretaker has never been asked to testify about what he saw on the night of the bombing. However, if he is telling the truth, we cannot exclude the possibility that paramilitary contractors (mercenaries) or special-ops (intelligence) agents working out of the Interior Ministry may have destroyed the mosque to create the appearance of a looming civil war.

The Times also added, “What is clear is that the attack was carefully planned and calculated”.

True again. We can see from the extent of the damage that the job was carried out by demolition experts and not merely “insurgents or terrorists” with explosives. Simple forensic tests and soil samples could easily determine the composition of the explosives and point out the real perpetrators.

The Times even provides a motive for the attack: “Bad people used this incident to divide Iraq on a detestable sectarian basis.”

Precisely. The Bush administration used the incident to change the storyline from foreign occupation to civil war, thus, creating the rational for ongoing US occupation. The civil war meme provided cover for the “Salvador Option”, “the Surge”, massive ethnic cleansing, death squads, Abu Ghraib, and more than a decade of US-sponsored terror which turned Iraq into a decimated third world scrapheap incapable of providing food, water or security for its people. “Mission accomplished”.

Now it’s on to Ukraine where another set of distortions, fabrications and lies are being used to pull the wool over the public’s eyes once again. This time “Hitler” Putin is the source of all the evildoing. Forget about the State Department’s role in toppling the democratically-elected government in Kiev. Forget about the snipers who killed peaceful protestors in Maidan Square and who are tied to Washington’s junta government. Forget about CIA Director John Brennan’s visit to Kiev just hours before the first government crackdown. Forget Joe Biden’s visit to Kiev just hours before the second government crackdown. Forget that, according to a report on Sunday by AFP, that:

“Dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are advising the Ukrainian government…. helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure…” (“CIA, FBI agents ‘advising Ukraine government: report”, AFP)

Forget that Obama hasn’t produced a shred of evidence to prove that Moscow is involved in the turmoil in the East. Forget that the United States has been at the center of every major conflagration in every part of the world for the last two decades. Forget about the 40 people who were incinerated in a conflict that is 100 percent Washington’s doing and for which Barack Obama is personally responsible. Forget all of that and just remember this one thing: “Putin is evil. Putin is Hitler. Putin is cause of everything that’s wrong in the world.” Putin. Putin. Putin. Bad. Bad. Bad.

Got that?

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, summed up the feelings of many observers who’ve followed the outrageous developments in Odessa when he said ‘the government in Kiev “bears direct responsibility, and is complicit in these criminal activities. They allowed extremists and radicals to burn unarmed people alive. And I stress that these people were unarmed … The people who justify this punitive operation… are up to their elbows in blood.” (RT)

Obama is just as guilty as anyone in Kiev. Maybe guiltier.

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The Crisis in Ukraine

NOVANEWS
What Can be Done?

by FLOYD RUDMIN

Tromsø, Norway.

The crisis in Ukraine is serious.  At some point soon, reality needs to become the priority.  No more name-calling.  No more blaming.  If there are any adults in the room, they need to stand up.  The crisis in Ukraine is going critical, and that is a fact.

The first fact.  The Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors loaded with a 1000 tons or more of radioactive fuels.  The largest nuclear reactor in Europe is on the Dneiper River, a little north of Crimea.   Plus, there are the 4 Chernobyl reactors, still leaking radiation, still needing constant attention.  A rational world cannot tolerate chaos, or a collapsed economy, or a civil war, or any kind of war, in a region with nuclear reactors.  If the power grid fails, if workers are unable or unwilling to show up for their shifts, if there is an act of sabotage, an act of war, if something happens to a nuclear reactor, then the Ukraine, Europe, Russia, and the rest of the world will receive heavy doses of radioactive fallout.  There is now no government in Ukraine with the resources to manage a nuclear catastrophe.

The second fact.  The ability to start a war has now been distributed across hundreds of relatively low-ranked individuals, on both sides.  NATO nations, including Canada, have moved military aircraft to front-line states and have begun armed missions along the Russian border.  Russia has been matching these with deployments of interceptors and missile batteries along its borders and in Byelorussia.  Accusations of border violations are already appearing.  New NATO warships have entered the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.  The Ukraine and Russia have both moved military units to their border.  Thus, there are now hundreds of armed and ready military personnel on both sides, any one of whom, for any reason, can cross a border, can shoot a missile, can start a war.  In the Ukraine, large numbers of anti-Russia militia are eager to provoke Russia to invade Ukraine, and equal numbers of anti-Kiev militia are also eager to provoke Russia to invade Ukraine.  War now waits on hair-triggers, hundreds of them. If an incident turns into a war, it would quickly turn into a missile war, and maybe into a global nuclear war.

In 2014, on the one century anniversary of World War I, European nations are again mobilizing for war. As in 1914, so in 2014, war is not for repelling an attack, but for loyalty to an alliance, even when some members of the alliance are belligerent.  The 1914 war was supposed to be over by Christmas, but went on and on and on for years, killing 9 million people.  The 2014 war, if its starts in earnest, will be over in one week, maybe less, and could kill a 100 million people depending on how many nuclear reactors break open and how many nuclear missiles are launched.  The 1914 war was called “the war to end all wars”.  The 2014 war will be that.

We need proposals that have some prospect of resolving the Ukraine Crisis.  Here is my list:

1) Settle the Crimean secession.  War is on the ready as long as NATO says the Crimean secession was an act of Russian aggression, and Russia says that it was an act of democratic self-determination.  All sides, including the acting government in Kiev, should agree to a second referendum run by the electoral commissions of several small, non-aligned nations, for example, Switzerland, Ireland, and Costa Rica.  If the referendum votes majority for secession, then the Ukraine, US, EU, and UN accept that act of democratic self-determination.  If the referendum votes majority against secession, then Crimea reverts to its former status as an autonomous region of Ukraine, and Russia gets perpetual lease of its naval base modeled on the US lease of Guantanamo.  All sides should accept a throw of the dice of democracy to decide the fate of Crimea.

2) Deploy non-aligned peace keeping troops.  The acting government in Kiev is illegitimate in the eyes of many Ukrainians because it came to power by unconstitutional means and includes right-wing neo-fascists who have publicly voiced violence against Russian-speaking Ukrainians.  The methods of Maidan Square are now being copied in eastern cities. The acting government in Kiev has mobilized neo-nazi militia into national guard units, and has started conscripting western Ukrainians to join attacks on eastern Ukrainians.  Demonstrators are being denounced and targeted as “terrorists”.  Both sides are accusing the other of having foreign advisors and support.  Neo-nazis from across Europe are reportedly coming to Ukraine to join in the mayhem.  If this continues and escalates, then civil war is unavoidable.  There is need for international, non-aligned military forces in eastern Ukraine and in Kiev, so that Ukrainian military units need not attack Ukrainian cities, so that citizens can feel secure, and so that militia can be disarmed.  I suggest that Brazilian and Argentinian army units, wearing blue UN helmets, would be good.  They are non-aligned nations far from the conflict, and the football reputations of those two nations might make their soldiers welcomed and accepted by Ukrainians.  The costs of UN peace keeping troops would be paid by the US, EU, and Russia, in equal parts.  Though expensive, it would be much cheaper than war.

3) Form an interim government of national unity.  It may take months to organize national elections, perhaps delayed until a new national constitution can be written and approved.  In the meantime, if the nation of Ukraine is to survive as one nation, then there is need for immediate representation and power in the government for all regions of the Ukraine.  This could perhaps be achieved by empowering a “Council of Cities” comprised of representatives appointed by the elected mayors of the capitol cities of each of Ukraine’s 24 “oblasts” (provinces).  Such a nationally representative council could be empowered as a “senate” in Kiev, or could be the pool from which ministers and deputy ministers of the government must be drawn.  Without urgent action to include all of Ukraine in national decisions, especially military and economic decisions, then Ukraine might shatter and be unlikely to ever again exist as a coherent nation.

4) Grant immediate economic aid, without conditions. The Ukraine’s economy was poor and is now collapsing.  The EU, US, and Russia, in equal parts, should implement an economic aid package to get the Ukraine through the next few months, until a legitimate government can be elected and accepted by all regions of Ukraine.  The EU, US, and Russia should give preferential status to Ukrainian exports.  The EU, US, and Russia should accept Ukrainian refugees, in approximately equal numbers, as long as ethnic attacks, anti-Semitism, and militia wars force Ukrainians to flee their home communities.  Although such actions may seem expensive, they are far less expensive than war, especially war that risks nuclear reactor meltdowns and risks nuclear missile launches.

5) Investigate all oligarchs for financial crimes.  The motivation for many of the original Maidan Square protesters was to rid Ukraine of corrupt government run by oligarchs, for oligarchs.  The 2012 Transparency International Corruption Index ranked Ukraine as 144 out of 176 nations, tied with Syria and the Central African Republic.  European and US financial crime units and tax authorities should investigate all Ukrainian oligarchs.  All of them.  Pro-European oligarchs, pro-Russian oligarchs, and ordinary gangster oligarchs.  The acting government of Ukraine is again in the hand of oligarchs.  For example, Igor Kolomoysky was given Dnepropetrovsk to govern, and Sergey Taruta was given Donetsk to govern.  Both are billionaires.  Even Arseniy Yatsenyuk, acting leader of Ukraine, has explained that he himself had €47,000 ($65,000) of bank interest income.  Presuming a high return of 3% interest, then he has around €16 million ($23 million) in bank deposits.  That is not counting real estate or other investments.  How did a civil servant in a poor nation acquire that kind of wealth?  Someone should inquire.  All financial crimes, by any of the oligarchs, no matter what their positions of power or where they have stashed their cash, should be prosecuted.  Stolen money and unpaid taxes should be recouped to Ukraine’s national budget.

6) Investigate the Maidan Square snipers.  The foreign minister of Estonia, Urmas Piet, after his trip to Kiev, reported to EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, that “all the  evidence shows, that people who were killed by snipers, from both sides, among policemen and people on the streets, that they were the same snipers, killing people from both sides.”  Ashton replied that this should be investigated, and Piet explained that the new government refuses to investigate this because it was members of the governing coalition who hired the snipers.  To date, the EU has not investigated the snipers that caused the fall of a constitutional government, caused the rise of neo-fascists to positions of power, and caused the start of a civil war, maybe regional war, maybe global nuclear war.  It is not a minor matter.  If the NATO nations and their media truly believe that a government that shoots demonstrators is illegitimate, then the present government in Kiev is illegitimate if it came to power by shooting demonstrators.  The Maidan murders are acts of political terrorism, and should be referred to the criminal court at The Hague, with support from national police forces to the degree possible.

7) Audit the $5 billion spent by the US in Ukraine.  Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, has gone on record saying that the US has invested $5 billion in NGO activities in Ukraine.  That does look like covert operations to destabilize Ukraine and impose a new government, especially considering that the Ukraine was destabilized by demonstrations organized by NGOs and considering that it was the same Victoria Nuland who selected the new leadership in Ukraine.  The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) should do a public auditing of that money, reporting which NGOs got which amounts of money, under what authorization, disbursed by whom.  Misappropriations and unlawful disbursements should result in criminal prosecutions.

The pieces of the Ukraine crisis all come from the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union 25 years ago: a) oligarchs controlling and corrupting the government, b) regions that are predominantly Russian-speaking, c) neo-fascists with a hatred of Russians and other minorities, and d) NATO nations investing in chances to imperil Russia.  It will be difficult for Ukraine, EU, and Russia to escape horrific outcomes unless concerted actions are taken to change the course of events.  People need to press their governments to start acting for the well-being of the region’s societies, and stop acting out historical bad habits and loyalty to alliances.

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The Economic Freedom Fighters of South Africa

NOVANEWS
From Economic Apartheid to True Democracy

by GARIKAI CHENGU

Contrary to the Westernized, popular belief that South Africa is a “model democracy”, it is one of  Africa’s most dysfunctional democracies.

South Africa’s apartheid regime is remembered as one of the worst crimes against humanity of the 20th  century. The economic system that underpinned it remains alive and well today.

Whites comprise only 12 percent of the population but, thanks to the racist exploitation of blacks over the past 350 years, still own 75 percent of the country’s land.

U.S.-based bank, Citigroup, recently ranked South Africa as the world’s richest country, in terms of its mineral reserves, worth an estimated $2.5 trillion. Whites and foreigners own a staggering 80 percent of this wealth.

South Africa is unquestionably, the world’s most racially unequal society.

Democracy is not about holding elections, simply to choose which particular representatives of the elite class should rule over the masses. True democracy is about equalizing the economy and giving economic power back to the majority.

The Economic Freedom Fighters party is campaigning on a platform of three pillars, designed to democratize the economy and overthrow the economic legacy of apartheid. First, expropriation of land for redistribution amongst the masses. Second, nationalization of mines and banks for the benefit of the people and, finally, free education and health care for all.

This week marks the most important election in South Africa’s post-apartheid history. The EFF is the party of the poor, and if given power by the electorate, it will do what the ruling ANC has failed to do since 1994: provide economic freedom for the poor African majority, at the expense of the predominately white capitalists.

Despite twenty years of South African democracy, five white-owned companies still control 75 percent of South Africa’s stock market. It’s the largest concentration of wealth and power on earth.

Corporate powers, which underwrote apartheid in South Africa, are reminiscent of the great German companies that ran the Third Reich’s economy.

The only difference between the Third Reich and apartheid is that ‘reconciliation’ in Germany did not leave pro-Nazi financiers in business wheras in South Africa, those financiers are still firmly in control.

During apartheid, Britain was the single biggest investor in South Africa, followed by the United States, yielding the highest return on capital in the world. The United States and the other Western capitalist governments not only supported, but benefited from the racist apartheid regime. With  economic control still concentrated in the hands of the white elite, we see no difference between the old and the new South African regimes. Blacks have reclaimed the political crown, but whites have remained with the crown jewels.

Today, Western media demonizes Julius Malema, the EFF’s commander-in-chief, because he is the most outspoken proponent of economic justice. It is no surprise, considering Malema’s ideologies threaten the economic stability of some of the most powerful white capitalists in the world.

To this day, a large portion of South Africa’s budget pays apartheid-era debt to Western nations. This means the people pay for their oppression twice over. Clearly, the fabric of apartheid, which the Western media claims is long dead, still generates large sums of money, lining the pockets of the very same Western capitalists.

Neo-apartheid companies in South Africa made record profits for Western shareholders since democracy in 1994, all the while shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In fact, among the 295 companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, only 4 percent of the CEOs are black. Far from being a “model democracy”, South Africa is an example of how not to practice democracy.

The equitable redistribution of land is the first pillar of the EFF’s manifesto.

Under the 1913 Land Act, blacks were not allowed to own, or even rent, land outside designated native reserves.

By 1994, some 87 percent of agricultural land was in white hands. Precious little has changed during the intervening twenty years. One exception is that black people in rural areas have lost 600,000 jobs since “independence”.

At face value, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ call for agrarian revolution may appear to be simply about land. But, it is about so much more. For Africans, land is not merely land. Land is a place to be born, a place to grow up, a place to call home, and a place to be buried. Land is a source of food, a livelihood, and an asset to bequeath to our next generations. Above all else, land is a source of African pride. Land is never merely land.

The second pillar of the EFF’s manifesto is the nationalization of mines.

Pick up the financial report of any major South African mining company, and one will understand why Mr. Malema is advocating nationalization.

If you examine a sample income of 100 dollars from a typical South African mine, $22 flows directly into the mine owners’ pockets and $17 goes to the corporate executives. Crucially, over 90 percent of these beneficiaries are white.

The rest is shared between suppliers ($18), capital goods providers ($16), labour ($14), government in the form of taxes ($9), and debt providers ($4).

So the notion that “the nation’s resource wealth is in the hands of a few white industrialists and foreigners” is not one of Mr. Malema’s populist fictions, but a cold, hard and uncomfortable fact.

The EFF plans to use Venezuela as a model of how to nationalize mineral wealth for the benefit of the people. Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez, used its natural resources to go from being one of the most unequal countries in Latin America to the most equal one, in terms of income.

Democracy is not merely about elections. True democracy is also about equal opportunity through education and the right to life through access to health care. In Venezuela, the government has used nationalization of mineral resources to pay for free health care and free education for the masses. The EFF plans to do the same.

Every year, wealthy Western shareholders repatriate hundreds of millions of dollars from South African mines to Western countries in the form of rent, dividends and profits. Nationalization would channel money towards building bridges and clinics at home, as opposed filling Swiss bank accounts abroad. Unlike the ANC, the EFF will put the interests of local labour above foreign capital.

Any true African revolution has three stages: political, agrarian and economic. The ANC has failed on the second and third stages.

The ANC liberated South Africa politically, but economically the ruling party shackles the majority by presiding over its white monopoly of bourgeois capitalism.

Under the ANC, corruption is booming and the economy is stagnating, at a time when the rest of Africa is starting to boom. The EFF has vowed to tackle corruption by pledging to do away with Ministerial cars and houses. All EFF parliamentarians will be forced use public hospitals, private cars, and send their children to public school.

South Africa is the continent’s most powerful nation, however it is also the continent’s most economically colonized nation. Therefore, an EFF election victory would not only democratize and decolonize South Africa, it will encourage other African nations to do the same.

A full half century after the first African nation gained independence, the World Bank estimates that a staggering 65 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s best arable land is still controlled by white settlers or multinational corporations.

The World Bank also estimates that as much as 70 percent of the net wealth in Sub-Saharan Africa is owned by non-indigenous Africans or foreigners.

The EFF stands to become a future model for all white-dominated, African economies. If the continent’s most powerful nation can achieve political, agrarian, and economic independence, then the rest of Africa will follow suit.

“If the ANC does not deliver the goods, then the people must do to it what they have done to the apartheid regime”, once remarked Nelson Mandela. Truth is, the ANC has failed the people of South Africa. The current ruling party has been thoroughly co-opted by neo-liberal, big business. It clearly no longer represents the interests of the poor and middle class. The Economic Freedom Fighters are now the party for progressive Africans to support.

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Foreign Jihadis in Syria Pledge Their Own 9/11

NOVANEWS
Ambitious al-Qa’ida-Type Groups Now Control an Enormous Area

by PATRICK COCKBURN

It is only a matter of time before jihadis in al-Qa’ida-type groups that have taken over much of eastern Syria and western Iraq have a violent impact on the world outside these two countries. The road is open wide to new attacks along the lines of 9/11 and 7/7, and it may be too late to close it.

Those who doubt that these are the jihadis’ long-term intentions should have a look at a chilling but fascinating video posted recently by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), formerly al-Qa’ida in Iraq. It shows a group of foreign fighters burning their passports to emphasise their permanent commitment to jihad. Many of the passports thrown into the flames have grass-green covers and are Saudi; others are dark blue and must be Jordanian. Some of the fighters show their faces while others are masked. As each one destroys his passport, sometimes tearing it in half before throwing it into the fire, he makes a declaration of faith and a promise to fight against the ruler of the country from which he comes.

A Canadian makes a short speech in English before switching to Arabic, saying: “It is a message to Canada, to all American powers. We are coming and we will destroy you.” A Jordanian says: “I say to the tyrant of Jordan: we are the descendants of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [the Jordanian founder of al-Qa’ida in Iraq killed by US aircraft in 2006] and we are coming to kill you.” A Saudi, an Egyptian and a Chechen make similar threats.

The film is professionally made, and was probably shot somewhere in northern or eastern Syria. It is worth looking at carefully, and keeping in mind that these are not an isolated band hiding in desert wastes or mountain caves. Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, the official affiliate of al-Qa’ida, now control, or can easily operate in, a great swathe of territory from the Tigris to the Mediterranean, and from the Jordanian border to southern Turkey.

Threats, such as those made by the group burning their passports, are creating something near panic among Iraq’s neighbours, who were slow to take on board last year that Syrian armed opposition had come to be dominated by al-Qa’ida or its clones. A report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), “The Rising Cost of Turkey’s Syrian Quagmire”, published last week, cites a Turkish official saying: “The armed al-Qa’ida element will be a problem for the Turks. As a secular country, we do not fit with their ideology. What happens if they can’t get what they want in Syria? They will blame Turkey and attack it.” Bear in mind that the thousands of foreign jihadis who have poured into Syria and Iraq mostly got there by crossing the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border. The head of an influential Turkish think tank is quoted by ICG as saying that “When Turkey starts arresting them [jihadis], which it will do, we know what will happen. There will be bombs all over Turkey.”

Jordan is also showing signs of extreme nervousness over support being given to the Syrian armed opposition, just across its border in southern Syria. American, Saudi and Jordanian intelligence have been working on creating a “southern front” around Daraa, the southern city where the Syrian revolt began, a front supposedly made up of moderate, secular fighters, who are both anti-Assad and anti-jihadi. This is deceptive, since an important force in such operations would be Jabhat al-Nusra which, on this front, is reportedly acting in coordination with a Jordanian, Saudi and US intelligence joint operations room in Amman.

But the Jordanians have got cold feet over the idea of a southern offensive launched from their territory. They are no longer as confident as they were in 2011 and 2012 that President Assad is bound to lose. They worry about an estimated 2,000 Jordanian jihadis in Syria, and what happens when they return to Jordan. There was a mysterious Jordanian airforce attack destroying vehicles entering Jordan from Syria on 16 April in which the Syrian government denied any involvement. The Jordanians also forbade an opposition offensive at Daraa timed to coincide with a rebel assault in Aleppo.

Even the US State Department’s annual report on terrorism, issued last week, has noted that al-Qa’ida-type groups are getting stronger. Its image of al-Qa’ida in the past has been along the lines of a bureaucratic entity somewhat similar to the State Department itself. It therefore takes heart from the belief that because of organisational and leadership losses “AQ’s core leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks.” The word “core” is useful here since it can mean either “a central command” or simply “at the centre of”. In practice, al-Qa’ida since 2001 has primarily been an ideology and a method of operating, not a cohesive organisation. The State Department has finally noted this, speaking of “the rise of increasingly aggressive and autonomous AQ affiliates and like-minded groups”.

In reality, the situation is worse than the State Department admits, since over the last year Isis has taken over much of Sunni Iraq. It levies taxes in cities such as Mosul and Tikrit and has substantial control in Fallujah and along the Euphrates valley, through western Iraq and eastern Syria up to the Turkish border. It has captured the Fallujah dam on the Euphrates, and can flood or deny water to areas further south; at Baiji on the Tigris, north of Baghdad, it has blown up an oil pipeline, polluting the river which had been used, after treatment, to supply drinking water to Baghdad. On the western outskirts of Baghdad at Abu Ghraib, Isis has held a military parade and the famous prison was hastily evacuated. A comforting theory explaining the surge in Isis’s strength in Iraq is that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki exaggerated its power to frighten Shia voters before last Wednesday’s parliamentary election. He thereby diverted attention from his administration’s appalling record of corruption and incompetence by focusing on the danger of a Sunni counter-revolution. The outcome of the election will show if this strategy had worked.

Unfortunately, all the signs are that the political and military incapacity of the Iraqi government is all too real. Its armed forces are said in Baghdad to have suffered 5,000 casualties including 1,000 dead in fighting in Anbar province in the last four months. Whole battalions are reported to have melted away because the men were not being paid, or they have not received supplies of food and ammunition. According to one report, even the job of army divisional commander can be bought for $1m with the assumption that whoever takes the job can show a profit by making $50,000 a month through protection money and levies on vehicles passing checkpoints.

After the election the government may try to repeat the US strategy of successfully using the Sunni tribes against al-Qa’ida groups such as Isis. The difficulty is that for the moment Sunni communities hate the Iraqi army and security forces more than they do al-Qa’ida.

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FBI Authorized Cyberattacks

NOVANEWS
Further Signs of Unfolding Fascism

by NORMAN POLLACK

The saying, “the devil is in the details,” is a wise rule in social analysis. Dramatic high points are well and good, but more indicative and convincing of basic trends are everyday ongoing practices and policies, in this case, FBI recruitment of hackers to do the dirty work of cyberwarfare. We know the FBI, in violation of its charter, is active overseas, as is the CIA, equally violative, within the US, a cross-jurisdiction handy in promoting repression, sometimes with a less traceable fingerprint. Find or create an informant, here, Hector Monsegur, let him work undercover (erecting a wall of deniability for the Bureau), charge him with responsibility for establishing a network of hackers which, turned loose on the computer systems of foreign governments, banks, etc., provides a vast wealth of data that, through Monsegur, is passed back to Washington. In return, the informant is given protection, although one of his assistants, Jeremy Hammond, is now serving a 10-year prison term. Part of this protection is that all documents in the case are still heavily redacted, and that sentencing him has been stalled probably indefinitely–typical FBI/CIA lese majesty, the cavalier disregard for the dignity and meaning of democracy.

Although small potatoes compared with the campaign of surveillance at home, eavesdropping abroad on foreign leaders, that has been mounted by NSA, also roaming the ranch scot-free, it’s useful to know that behind the headlines, our jackbooted bureaucrats are busy on numerous fronts. While Monsegur’s team probably was not involved in cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a task for the Real Pros, yet its ground-level activities may be a clearer sign of the gnawing away at democratic principles, which, we must be reminded, include respect for privacy. Under Obama, civil liberties have shrivilled, an inclusive negation of respect, so that cyberwarfare is inseparable from Espionage Act attacks on whistleblowers, both cut from the same cloth of unified totalitarian preemptive strikes against whatever USG deemed threatening. Transparency gone, the path is opened for taking the offensive, all for the sake of a global hegemony predicated on a compliant populace at home and the means for achieving the mastery of international markets!

Monsegur and Hammond are the minnows, Obama and his military-intelligence communities of minions the hammerhead sharks, in the fast-encroaching wholesale militarization of American capitalism and the society and culture in general. There is a clear interrelationship between this FBI venture into illegality (by that criterion, Monsegur stands far back in line to the provocateurs, inciters of violence, etc., in the Bureau’s employ) and Obama’s recent trip to the Far East, “friends and allies” being encouraged to form a united front against China. Both represent America’s TOTALIZATION of effort unilaterally to control the ground rules of world politics and the international system. Spy, repress, foment hostility, incite to violence, do whatever it takes to stay on top.

Mark Mazzetti’s New York Times article, “F.B.I. Informant Is Tied to Cyberattacks Abroad,” (Apr. 24), reports, “An informant working for the F.B.I. coordinated a 2012 campaign of hundreds of cyberattacks on foreign websites, including some operated by the governments of Iran, Syria, Brazil, and Pakistan, according to documents and interviews with people involved in the attacks.” Though he doesn’t say it, I sense blowback in light of the administration’s penchant for cyberwarfare. Like drone assassination, Obama’s rule of thumb is maximum damage with fewest boots on the ground whenever feasible. Even his Pacific-first strategy is intended, as evidence of US power, to overawe China primarily through naval forces and long-range strategic bombers. Here, cyberwarfare plugs into his and America’s fascination with high-tech weaponry, which, as in the case of the modernization of the nuclear arsenal, somehow is made to appear antiseptic and nonviolative of international standards. Carnage is the more chilling in seeming bloodless.

Mazzetti continues: “Exploiting a vulnerability in a popular web hosting software, the informant directed at least one hacker to extract vast amounts of data—from bank records to login information—from the government servers of a number of countries and upload it to a server monitored by the F.B.I., according to court statements.” This is persuasive evidence of F.B.I. involvement in foreign operations. Less known, or even imagined, the FBI was playing a double game. It simultaneously arrested hackers while encouraging the practice. However, the public is intentionally kept in the dark: “The details of the 2012 episode have, until now, been kept largely a secret in closed sessions of a federal court in New York and heavily redacted documents.” The situation has hardly changed. What emerges is damning: “While the documents do not indicate whether the F.B.I. directly ordered the attacks, they suggest that the government may have used hackers to gather intelligence overseas even as investigators were trying to dismantle hacking groups like Anonymous and send computer activists away for lengthy prison terms.”

Llike Willie Sutton, who robbed banks because that’s where the money was, the FBI attacked the group Anonymous because that’s where the hackers were, some who could be turned around under pressure of jail sentences. Enter Monsegur, “who used the Internet alias Sabu and became a prominent hacker within Anonymous,” attacking “high-profile targets, including PayPal and MasterCard.” In 2012, having been arrested earlier by the FBI, he “already spent months working to help the bureau identify other members of Anonymous,” a standard technique for turning potential informants: Have something on them to keep them in line and compel cooperation. He recruited Hammond and together, in December 2012, they worked “to sabotage the computer servers of Stratfor Global Intelligence” of Austin. From that point, Monsegur had his man, supplying him “with lists of foreign websites that might be vulnerable to sabotage.” We may never learn the why and wherefore of the Stratfor episode; the court documents remain heavily redacted. Hammond pled guilty “to the Stratfor operation and other computer attacks” inside the US, perhaps in exchange for a lighter sentence, in that “he has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the attacks against foreign countries,” no doubt the US being fearful their identities might come out.

I sense Hammond wanted to talk—yet he has been forbidden, “one of the terms of a protective order [in which he could not identify specific foreign government websites] imposed by the judge.” Mazzetti adds, “The names of the targeted countries are also redacted from court documents.” Yet “an uncensored version” of Hammond’s court statement “had been leaked online the day of his sentencing in November [2013],” a target list including “more than 2,000 Internet domains,” all under Monsegur’s direction, such as—actually, not small potatoes at all—“government websites in Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and Brazil and other government sites, like those of the Polish Embassy in Britain and the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq.”

The details in USG exploiting “major flaws in Internet security,” and how Monsegur and Hammond “had become aware of a vulnerability in a web-hosting software called Plesk that allowed backdoor access to thousands of websites,” so that Hammond could “gain access to computer servers without needing a user name or password,” help to explain the scope and success of the hacking operation. Monsegur continually gave Hammond “new foreign sites to penetrate.” The emails and databases once extracted were “uploaded to a computer server controlled” by Monsegur (himself careful not to get his hands dirty), a procedure also repeated with another hacker, from Brazil, who “was asked to attack Brazilian government websites.” (America demonizes Russia and China, and claims for itself an Exceptionalism of Innocence and Purity, in the act of criticizing them.)

Denouement: Hammond said in prison, “Sabu wasn’t getting his hands dirty.” Meanwhile, Monsegur, arrested in mid-2011, began his cooperation with the FBI soon thereafter, praised by a federal prosecutor in a closed hearing in August 2011 for “’cooperating with the government proactively’” and “’literally work[ing] around the clock with federal agents’” to finger others. Mazzetti concludes: “Mr. Monsegur’s sentencing hearing has been repeatedly delayed, leading to speculation that he is still working as a government informer. His current location is unknown.” He and Hammond are “in constant contact…through encrypted Internet chats,” using Jabber and aliases, Hammond in one conversation saying he hoped the information “would be put ‘to good use,’” the other reassuring him, “’Trust me. Everything I do serves a purpose.’” Hammond, Mazzetti writes, sitting in prison, “wonders if F.B.I. agents might also have been on the other end of the communications.”

Is there no honor among thieves? In any case, we instinctively know, as Americans, whom our heroes are, Edward Snowden not being among them. My New York Times Comment on the article, same date, follows:

More evidence of the National Security State under Obama as a threat to US civil liberties, in this case, the FBI, presumed to operate only domestically, conducting full-throat foreign operations, operations of cyberwarfare extremely disruptive of international relations. And where are Feinstein and Rogers, in their respective committees, excoriating the FBI the way they have already done to Snowden? This is incipient fascism becoming actualized.

Like the CIA, the FBI throughout its history has been a rogue operation expanding beyond jurisdictional lines. Even domestically it has been severely right-wing, as in Hoover’s attacks on Martin Luther King. And never chastised for its illegal and ruthless tactics. Why not? Why not, in this case, a thorough fumigation of the Augean stables?

As one who was in Mississippi during Freedom Summer I saw the young volunteers, constantly threatened with death (as happened with Schwerner-Goodman-Cheney), who, in making complaints, were then questioned by the FBI (I sat in on these at COFO headquarters in Jackson), browbeaten, more likely, so that the victim became the villain. A sorry record, in which the FBI to this day is synonymous with POLICE STATE. Thank you, Obama, for giving it the green light.

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A Shameful Chapter

NOVANEWS
The Politics of Palestinian Reconciliation

by URI AVNERY

How would the US react to a declaration that the Palestinians would not conduct negotiations with an Israeli government that includes semi-fascist parties?

With outrage, of course.

How does the US react to an Israeli statement that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas?

With full approval, of course.

For anyone interested in Israeli-Palestinian peace, the prospect of domestic Palestinian reconciliation is good news.

For years now we have heard Israeli spokespersons announcing that it’s no use making peace with half the Palestinian people and continuing the war with the other half. Mahmoud Abbas is a plucked chicken, as Ariel Sharon tactfully put it. It’s Hamas which counts. And Hamas is planning a Second Holocaust.

Under the recent Palestinian reconciliation agreement, Hamas is now committed to supporting an all-Palestinian government of experts agreed on by both parties. The Israeli extreme right-wing government is burning with rage. It will never, never, never negotiate with a Palestinian government that is supported by Hamas.

Hamas must first recognize Israel, stop all terrorist activities and undertake to respect all previous agreements signed by the PLO.

That’s OK, Abbas declares. The next government will be appointed by me, and it will fulfill all three conditions.

That’s not enough, Netanyahu’s spokespersons declare. Hamas itself must accept the three conditions, before we deal with a government supported by Hamas.

Abbas could respond in kind. Before dealing with the Netanyahu government, he could say, all factions in the Israeli government must declare their support for the Two-State Solution, as Netanyahu has done (once, in his so-called Bar-Ilan speech.) At least two parties, Naftali Bennett’s “Jewish Home” and Avigdor Lieberman’s “Israel our Home”, as well as a great part of the Likud, would refuse to do so.

One can envision a ceremony in the Knesset, in which every cabinet minister would stand up and declare: “I hereby solemnly swear that I fully and sincerely support the creation of the State of Palestine next to the State of Israel!” The Messiah will arrive first.

Of course, that is immaterial. The stand of individual parties or ministers is unimportant. It is the policy of the government which counts. If the next Palestinian government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and respects all previous agreements that should be enough.

Why is the Palestinian reconciliation agreement good news for peace?

First of all, because one makes peace with a whole nation, not with half of it.  A peace with the PLO, without Hamas, would be ineffective

from the beginning. Hamas could sabotage it at any moment by acts of violence (a.k.a. terrorism).

Second, because by joining the PLO and eventually the Palestinian government, Hamas accepts in practice the policy of the PLO, which has long ago recognized the State of Israel and the partition of historic Palestine.

One should remember that prior to the Oslo agreement, the PLO itself was officially described by Israel (and the USA) as a terrorist organization. At the time of the signing on the White House lawn, the PLO charter was still in force. It called for the destruction of the illegal State of Israel and the return of practically all its citizens to their counties of origin.

For many years, this charter was denounced by Israeli politicians and academics as an insurmountable obstacle to peace.

Only after the Oslo agreement came into force, did the PLO National Council abolish these clauses of their charter in a festive ceremony, attended by President Bill Clinton.

Hamas has a similar charter. It, too, will be modified once Hamas joins the government.

It is one of the ironies of history that in the past, Israel covertly supported Hamas against the PLO. While all Palestinian political activity in the occupied territories was suppressed, Hamas activities in the mosques were allowed.

I once asked a former Shin Bet chief if he had created Hamas. His answer was: “We did not create them, we tolerated them.”

The reason was that at the time Arafat’s PLO was considered the enemy. Arafat himself was relentlessly demonized as the “Second Hitler”. Everybody fighting against Arafat was considered an ally. This attitude continued to prevail for a year after the outbreak of the first intifada, when the Shin Bet realized that Hamas was much more dangerous than the PLO, and started imprisoning (and later assassinating) its leaders.

At present, an undeclared state of ceasefire (tahdiya or “stillness”) prevails between Israel and Hamas. Clearly, Hamas has decided that its ambitions as one of the two major Palestinian political parties are more important than the “violent struggle” against Israel. Its main aim is to attain power in the future Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Like so many former liberation organizations around the world, including Begin’s Likud, it is transforming itself from a terrorist organization into a political party.

As could have been foreseen, the US has followed suit and fully accepted the Israeli line. It has threatened the Palestinian Authority with what amounts to a declaration of war if the reconciliation agreement is carried out.

The American peace initiative has ground to a halt. The full truth about it can and must now be told.

It was doomed to failure before it even started. There was not the slightest chance of its bearing fruit.

Before the facts become buried under an avalanche of propaganda, let’s state clearly how it ended: not by Abbas joining international bodies, not by Palestinian reconciliation, but by the refusal of Netanyahu to fulfill a solemn and unequivocal undertaking: to release certain Palestinian prisoners on a certain date.

The release of prisoners is an extremely sensitive point for the Palestinians. It concerns human beings and their families. These particular prisoners, some of whom are Israeli citizens, have been in prison for at least 21 years. Netanyahu just did not have the strength of character to fulfill his promise and confront a wild campaign of incitement unleashed by the extreme Right.

He preferred to end the “negotiations”.

The performance of John Kerry can only be described as pitiful.

It started with the appointment of Martin Indyk as the manager of the negotiations. Indyk had worked as an employee of AIPAC, the main lobby of the Israeli Right. AIPAC’S main task is to terrorize the American Congress, whose members – senators and representatives – quake at the very sight of its agents.

To install such a person as an impartial mediator between Israel and the Palestinians was just plain chutzpah. It told the Palestinians right from the beginning what was in store.

The second act of chutzpah was to start the talks without first obtaining from Netanyahu a list of the concessions he was ready to make. Throughout, the Israeli side refused to present a map of its proposed borders, even after the Palestinian side produced their own map.

This charade went on for nine months, in which not an inch of progress was made. The parties met and talked, talked and met. Apart from Netanyahu’s ridiculous demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”, there was nothing on the table.

Tzipi Livni, a very minor politician, basked in the limelight on the glamorous international stage, and would have loved to go on forever without achieving anything at all.

The Palestinian representatives were also interested in continuing, even without purpose, in order to pass the time without an internal explosion.

The whole exercise revolved around one simple question: was President Obama ready to confront the onslaught of the united forces of AIPAC, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Republicans, the Evangelicals, the right-wing Jewish establishment and the Israeli propaganda machine?

If not, Kerry should not have even started.

This week, in a private meeting, Kerry stated the obvious: that if Israel continues with its present policy, it will become an apartheid state.

There is nothing revolutionary in this. Former president Jimmy Carter used the term in the title of his book. In Israel, independent and left-wing commentators do so every day. But in Washington DC all hell broke loose.

The hapless Kerry rushed to apologize. He did not mean it, God forbid! The Secretary of State of the mighty USA asked for little Israel’s forgiveness.

And so the piece reached its shameful finale on a dismal fading chord.

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Obama’s New Ukraine

NOVANEWS
A Russophobic, Failed State Ruled by Fascists

by MIKE WHITNEY

“While Russia has been making efforts to de-escalate and resolve the crisis, the Kiev regime has chosen to launch airstrikes on peaceful residential areas, literally destroying the last hope for preserving the Geneva accords.” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman

“The crisis in Ukraine is not the result of ‘Russian aggression,’ but of a criminal strategy by the US and its European allies to install a hostile regime on Russia’s borders in Ukraine and, ultimately, dismember Russia itself.” Johannes Stern, NATO boosts military build-up against Russia as protests spread in east Ukraine, World Socialist Web Site

Fighting broke out on Friday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk when Kiev’s coup government deployed military helicopters to fire on the city while troops and armored vehicles stormed checkpoints. At the time this article went to press, two helicopters had been shot down killing at least two pilots while one was captured. In an impassioned statement on Russian TV, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, appealed to allies in the EU to do whatever they could to persuade Ukrainian authorities to call off the operation and stop the violence.

“We are calling on the European capitals, the United States of America to give an assessment of the current events and are of course calling on those carrying out airstrikes on residential areas to…immediately end the punitive operation and any violence against its own people…”

So far, there has been no response from Washington although it’s clear that the Obama administration had a hand in organizing the crackdown. Not only were the State Department and CIA directly involved in the putsch that removed democratically-elected president Viktor Yanukovych from office, but Washington has also been implicated in punitive operations directed against ethnic Russian protestors in east Ukraine. Both CIA Director John Brennan and Vice President Joe Biden visited Kiev just hours before two previous crackdowns were ordered by imposter-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. As Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blandly noted, It’s clear that Washington is “calling the shots”.

On Thursday, it looked like violence might be avoided when coup-President Oleksandr Turchynov said that he had lost control of the situation. In an exasperated message to the media, Turchnov said, “It is hard to accept but it’s the truth, but the majority of law enforcers in the east are incapable of performing their duties.”

Turchynov was referring to the fact that Ukrainian troops have refused to attack their own countrymen. The mutiny has reportedly spread from elite airborne units to local police who sympathize with the protestors. The only group that’s willing to carry out Washington’s proxy war is the Right Sector neo-Nazis who helped topple the Yanukovych government. Just last week, members of this openly fascist party, commemorated “the perpetrators of the massacre of Yanova Dolina,” where “600 Poles were murdered by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in what is now Bazaltovoye. The massacre marked the beginning of ethnic cleansing in what is now western Ukraine, where tens of thousands of Poles were killed within a few months.” (World Socialist Web Site)

These are Obama’s new allies in America’s war against Russia. Now check this out from Reuters:

“The International Monetary Fund warned that if Ukraine lost territory in the east it would have to redesign a $17 billion bailout of the country, probably requiring additional financing.” (Ukraine attacks rebel city, helicopter shot down, Reuters)

Tell me, dear reader, when was the last time you heard of the IMF threatening to withhold funds if a political leader didn’t wage war on his own people? Anyone with half a brain can see that the IMF is just acting on orders from the White House. This is Obama’s war. His fingerprints are all over the policy. Obama is determined to draw Russia into a bloody guerilla war that leaves Ukraine in the same condition as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria.

Here’s a clip from the New York Times:

“Through stealth and misdirection, and in defiance of Western sanctions, Russia has managed to achieve its immediate goal of what Western and Ukrainian officials believe is rendering Ukraine so chaotic that it cannot guarantee order, mend its teetering economy or elect new leaders to replace Mr. Turchynov.” (Not Getting Through to Mr. Putin, New York Times)

Putin wants a “chaotic” failed state on Russia’s border? Have you ever read such nonsense in your life?

Putin didn’t topple the Ukrainian government. The US State Department did. (Victoria Nuland’s hacked phone calls prove it.) And Putin didn’t violate the Geneva agreement less than 24 hours after the deal was signed by launching a crackdown on civilian protestors in the east. That was US-puppet Yatsenyuk. Nor did Putin deploy the military to surround cities, cut off their water supplies and deploy helicopter gunships to fire missiles at civilian infrastructure and terrorize the local population. That was the work of Obama’s fascist junta in Kiev. Putin had nothing to do with any of the trouble in Ukraine. It’s all part of the US “pivot to Asia” strategy to encircle and (eventually) dismember Russia in order to seize vital resources and control the flow of energy to China. Washington wants to reduce Ukraine to Mad Max-type pandemonium to justify establishing NATO bases on Russia’s perimeter. It’s all part of the plan to control Central Asia and rule the world.

Putin has acted as peacemaker throughout the crisis, but Obama is determined to provoke the Russian president by attacking and killing ethnic Russians. Consider the statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry following the helicopter incident on Friday morning:

“As we have warned many times before, the use of the army against its own people is a crime and is leading Ukraine to catastrophe…By supporting the organizers of the Kiev coup in their strategy of violently putting down protests, the US and EU are taking on a huge responsibility, essentially closing the door to a peaceful solution to the crisis.” (Putin says Geneva agreement no longer viable after Ukrainian military action, Guardian)

It’s clear now that Obama merely used the Geneva agreement to buy time to move troops and military hardware to Poland and the Balkans. It’s also clear that Obama invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Washington so that it would appear that Europe is united behind the US in its proxy war on Russia. But what does Obama hope to achieve by stirring up this hornet’s nest? He knows that Putin cannot afford to back down on Crimea, so what’s the point? And, more importantly, what is Ukraine going to look like when Washington is finished using it as a staging-ground for its geopolitical landgrab? Here’s an insightful piece by Russian academic, Andrei Fursov, who thinks he knows what Obama wants and explains the impact the policy is going to have on Ukraine for years to come.

“The Americans need controlled chaos and civil war…Moreover, it is clear that this country (post-coup Ukraine) is intended to be absolutely anti-Russian, nationalist, Banderite and neo-Nazi. So the dual goal of establishing this anti-Russian state is to constantly apply pressure on the Russian Federation…

As Bismarck (said) ‘We must cultivate among the Ukrainians, a people whose consciousness is altered to such an extent, that they begin to hate everything Russian.’ …

Thus we are talking about a historical psy-op, an information-psychological sabotage, whose purpose is to establish Russophobic Slavs… They are the means to separate Ukraine from Russia and to oppose Russia as a kind … totalitarian empire. This was all devised under the Galician Project, on which the intelligence services of Austro-Germany and Kaiser German worked, followed by the intelligence service of the Third Reich, later – CIA and BND…

Banderastan, if that’s what Ukraine is fated to become, as designed by the puppet-masters across the ocean, is to be an oligarchic, terroristic, Russophobic state…An oligarchic Banderite…oligarchy is the ideal vehicle for external control. Clearly, this will suit both the oligarchs and the West.” (Battleground Ukraine: A Comprehensive Summary, Zero Hedge)

So, there it is: Divide and rule. We saw the Bush administration pull it off with the Shia and Sunnis in Iraq, and now Obama wants to do the same with the Ukrainians and Russians. Same strategy, different continent.

This is Obama’s plan for the “New Ukraine” a fascist-ruled failed state that follows Washington’s directives and puts pressure on Russia thorough endless provocations, belligerence, and war. Ukraine will be Washington’s pit bull in the East, separating Moscow from crucial sources of revenue and thwarting efforts at greater EU-Russia economic integration. This is how Washington hopes to insert itself into Eurasia, to improve its prospects in the Great Game, and to establish global hegemony into the next century.

(Note: “Banderite” refers to Stepan Bandera, who was a Ukrainian nationalist leader who collaborated with the Nazis. Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) According to the World Socialist Web Site: “The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out numerous massacres of the Polish population in western Ukraine…The UPA served as a military executive organ of the OUN. It was founded in the spring of 1943 and recruited primarily from Nazi collaborators who were previously active in the SS.”)

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Qabalan asks U.S. to support political solution in Syria

NOVANEWS

Mutual expressions of grave concern on Syria by H.E. Sheikh Abdul-Amir Qabalan, Deputy President of the Higher Shiite Council, and H.B. Cardinal Beshara al-Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch to the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, David Hale.

Article from The Daily Star Lebanon

 

 

 

Dahiyeh Car Bombing 

Above: H.B. Cardinal Beshara al-Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch offers his sympathy to H.E. Sheikh Abdul-Amir Qabalan, Deputy President of the Higher Shiite Council at a condolence ceremony for the victims of the Dahiyeh car bombing that ripped through a Beirut suburb on the 15th of August last and caused the deaths of 27 people leaving more than 300 wounded. The death toll from the bombing was the highest seen in Lebanon since 2005. Photo Maronite Patriarchate Bkerke.

A banner displayed in Dahiyeh after the car bombing, many residents perceived the influence of Western backed Takfiri elements to be involved in a possible attempt to incite inter communal violence in Lebanon by way of extending the Syrian conflict.

Deputy President of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdul-Amir Qabalan handed a letter to newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale Tuesday asking Washington to support a political solution to the Syria crisis.

Qabalan’s letter asked the U.S. “to support a political solution in Syria through dialogue between the conflicting parties and at a distance from military solutions which will have repercussions on the region.”

“When America acts for peace, justice and equality, it will be stronger than engaging in wars that would complicate the issues and America should preserve the blood of Syrians,” the letter said according to the National News Agency.

Qabalan wished Hale luck in his mission and hoped the new envoy would work on creating peace in Lebanon and the region and be fair with the oppressed.

He asked Washington to work on giving people their freedom in Syria by refraining from supporting radical Islamists and criminals who are killing innocent people and violating their freedoms.

He asked Washington to work on giving people their freedom in Syria by refraining from supporting radical Islamists and criminals who are killing innocent people and violating their freedoms.

Qabalan’s letter also spoke about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, saying: “Israel is practicing terrorism against the Palestinians as it occupies their land, forces the Palestinian people out of their homes to build its settlements.”

“The solution to the Palestinian issueis through the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and the creation of an independent Palestinian state,” the letter read. Hale said Tuesday that Beirut must remain neutral from the crisis in Syria during a meeting with caretaker Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi, the state-run National News Agency said.

Hale and Safadi discussed the economic and financial situation in Lebanon and assistance the government needs to cope with the growing number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The agency said Hale renewed Washington’s support for Lebanon and its institutions, particularly the Lebanese Army.

Following talks in Beirut Hale traveled to Diman, the seat of the Maronite Church in north Lebanon, for a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.

During the meeting, Rai told Hale that the Maronite church rejected all forms of violence, killing, terrorism and kidnapping and supported peaceful means to resolve conflicts.  “Rejecting war does not mean supporting any side of the conflict in Syria or any other country in the region,” Rai said, according to the NNA. The patriarch also touched on the abduction of two Syrian bishops earlier this year and the recent “desecration of holy sites, [and attack on] worshipers and Christians in particular in Maaloula, Blodan and other areas.”  Rai stressed on the importance of preserving the presence of Christians in the Middle East. Original article here

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“I had five sons, now I have four”: Syria’s senior cleric pardons the rebels who killed his son

NOVANEWS

An interview with the Grand Mufti of Syria, the chief Islamic (Sunni) authority in Syria.

 

Article by Robert Fisk

‘I met those men who assassinated my own son – and they told me they didn’t even know whom they were killing.”

Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria

‘I met those men who assassinated my own son – and they told me they didn’t even know whom they were killing.” Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria, sits in a straightbacked chair, his immaculate white turban atop a narrow, intelligent and very troubled face. His son Sania was a second-grade student at Aleppo University when he was shot dead getting into his car. “I went to see the two men in the court and they said they’d just been given the number of the car’s registration plate, that they didn’t know whom they had killed until they went home and watched the news on television.”

I said to them: ‘I forgive you’

I ask for his reaction to the men’s confession, and the Grand Mufti puts his hands over his eyes and weeps. “He was only 21, my youngest son. It was 10 October last year. I am trying to forget that he is dead. In fact I feel as if Saria is still living. On that day, he was to be betrothed to his future wife. She was a student of medicine, he was in the politics and economics department. ‘Saria’ in Arabic means ‘the highest point’. The two men said that in all 15 were involved in planning my son’s death. They said they were told he was a very important man. I said to them: ‘I forgive you’ and I asked the judge to forgive them. But he said they were guilty of 10 times as many crimes and must be judged.”

Sheikh Hassoun holds up a finger. “That same day I received an SMS message. It said: ‘We are not in need of your forgiveness.’ Then I heard on one of the news channels that the gang’s leader had said he would ‘judge the Mufti first. Then let him forgive us.’ So I sent a message: ‘I have never killed any man and I don’t intend to kill any man but I regard myself as a bridge of reconciliation. A Mufti must be a father to all. So what do you want to kill me for?’

“They said they received their command from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, that they were each paid 50,000 Syrian pounds. This shows that my son’s killing was not out of doctrine or belief.”

“All the men involved were Syrians, from the countryside of Aleppo. They said they received their command from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, that they were each paid 50,000 Syrian pounds. This shows that my son’s killing was not out of doctrine or belief. The two men were 18 or 19 only.”

So each man was paid the equivalent of £350; Saria Hassoun’s life was worth a total of just £700. “I had five sons,” the Mufti says. “Now I have four.”

Sheikh Hassoun is, you might say, government-approved – he prayed beside Bashar al-Assad in a Damascus mosque after a bomb warning – and his family, let alone he himself, was an obvious target for Syria’s rebels. But his courage and his message of reconciliation cannot be faulted. In whatever new Syria arises from the rubble, Sheikh Hussein should be there even if his President has gone.

And he speaks with remarkable frankness. When I tell him that I fear the mukhabarat intelligence service in Syria contaminates all it touches, including the institutions of government, he does not hesitate for a moment before replying.

“I suffered from the mukhabarat. I was taken from my post as a preacher from 1972 until 2000. I was taken from my position as Friday speaker in the Aleppo mosque and from lecturing on four occasions. The intelligence services all over the world are the same: they never look after the interest of the human being – they only look after their own institution. Sometimes the intelligence service can be against the president himself.”

And he asks whether it is not also true that the American intelligence services do not also spy on Americans and all of Europe, a difficult question – it must be said – to deny. “Let us put aside the Prophet Mohamed, Jesus and Moses – all the rest of the world are controlled by intelligence services.”

“I am the Mufti of all Syrians – Sunni Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Druze – of all the diversity of sects we had before the war. There is no choice other than reconciliation;”

Unlike most Syrians, the Mufti looks forward rather than back. He prays for a Geneva 2 conference. “I am the Mufti of all Syrians – Sunni Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Druze – of all the diversity of sects we had before the war. There is no choice other than reconciliation; it is the only way back. But to offer reconciliation, we must eliminate the ‘external hand’ first.

“And if the neighbouring countries like Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon don’t try to make this same reconciliation, they will burn – the fire of crisis will flow to them, especially Turkey. For all Syrians, we are open for them to come back. The problem is those who came from outside Syria – especially from Iraq and Turkey – who came without visas over smugglers’ trails either to meet death or to overthrow the authorities here.”

A tougher Mufti emerges now. His sons’ killers, it transpires, are not the only prisoners of the regime that he has met. “I saw men after they were arrested,” he says. “Some were in tears. They said they thought they were on their way to fight in Palestine, not to fight in Syria.”

There are times – when Sheikh Hassoun speaks of an “external hand”, “elimination” and “criminal gangs” – when one hears His Master’s Voice. And on the question of sarin gas, he takes the government’s side of the story. He quotes Bashar al-Assad as saying he would never use gas against Syrians – that if he had used it, the war would not have gone on for two and a half years.

The first major use of gas came in March at Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province, near the Mufti’s residence, when at least 26 civilians suffocated to death. This is his version of what happened.

“Some of the farm labourers reported to me that all the terrorists in the area had suddenly left – the night before the attack – and had evacuated all their people. So the civilians were happy – they were civilians and many were the wives and children of soldiers – and so they went back at last to their homes. Then came the chemical missile attack. I said at that time, in March, that this event is just an experiment, that gas will be used again in other places.”

This, of course, is not a story the Americans want to hear. Five months ago, the Mufti was invited to speak at George Mason and George Washington Universities in the United States and he travelled to Jordan for his visa. He says he was asked to go to the US embassy in Amman where he was interrogated by a woman diplomat from behind a glass screen.

“I was so insulted that I decided not to go and I left for Damascus the next morning.” A wise move. Sheikh Hassoun says that, the same day, one of his sons, who was in Amman, received a call from the embassy denying him a visa. “To be a secular Mufti,” the sheikh adds, “is dangerous.”

And it is true that the Mufti is a most secular man – he was even once an Assembly MP for Aleppo. “I am ready to go anywhere in the world to say that war is not a sacred deed,” he says. “And those who have fought under the name of Jesus, Mohamed or Moses are lying. Prophets come to give life, not death.

“There is a history of building churches and mosques, but let us build human beings. Let us cease the language of killing. Had we paid all the funds of war to make peace, paradise would exist now. This is the message of my Syria.”

A dangerous man indeed. Original article here

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