Archive | June 23rd, 2014

US leading Iran into Iraqi quagmire

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ISIS militants in Iraq

ISIS Takfiri militants in Iraq

The most effective way to end the violence in Iraq is for Washington and its allies to stop fueling the proxy ISIS mercenaries and their war of terror in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region. That Washington and its allies are not contemplating the effective solution shows that their purported concerns for Iraq are not genuine, and nor are their “friendly” overtures towards Iran.

by Finian Cunningham

Are we witnessing a new era of cooperation between the US and Iran, prompted by the crisis gripping Iraq?

That’s quite a turnaround, considering Washington continues to accuse Iran of sponsoring international terrorism and secretly harboring ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

America’s top diplomat John Kerry says the US is “now open” to working with Iran in a bid to halt the collapse of the Baghdad government, as formerly Al Qaeda-linked militants take over large parts of the country and are poised within 60 kilometers of the Iraqi capital.

The seemingly dramatic shift in US policy towards Iran is underlined by Washington’s ally Britain saying also this week that it is planning to re-open the British embassy in Tehran after years of closure. UK Foreign Minister William Hague said the move reflected the “warming relations” between Iran and the West over the Iraq crisis.

The New York Times reports that the West and Iran are trying to find “common security interests” in Iraq. The paper claims that both sides share a “common enemy” – the militants of the so-called Islamic State
of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The New York Times’ claim is a travesty of the truth. The extremist ISIS group in its current form is a creation of US covert support, along with Washington’s NATO and Persian Gulf Arab allies.

The ideology of ISIS is a reflection of its Wahhabi sponsors among the Saudi and Qatari monarchies, both of which have plied over $10 billion into supporting the ISIS and other extremist groups, such as Jabhat al Nusra.

Now Washington and its mouthpieces are re-writing recent history by trying to make out that the ISIS and its terrorist ilk are “enemies of the West”.

Only weeks ago, these terrorist mercenaries were filmed operating in Syria with newly supplied US anti-tank TOW missiles.

So, the idea that the ISIS is a “common enemy” to the US and Iran is an absurd false premise. ISIS is a proxy for Washington and its Western and Arab allies to wage covert war in the region for strategic objectives. That proxy force has been directed primarily at destabilizing Syria with the objective of regime change against the Damascus government of President Bashar al Assad.

Iraq is a trap!

Iraq is a trap!

However, one of the other main Western objectives of regime change in Syria over the past three years is to weaken Syria’s key regional ally, Iran.

That perspective of underlying Western hostility towards Iran needs to be kept firmly in focus as we assess the current turmoil in Iraq. Washington is not extending a hand of cooperation towards Iran. It is rather more a poisoned chalice.

It is significant that the seemingly explosive advances made by ISIS in Iraq follows two developments: the nearing outright military defeat of this Western proxy in neighboring Syria; and the stunning election victory of President Assad earlier this month, when he won the backing of nearly 89 per cent of the Syrian electorate.

Both developments have effectively put paid to NATO, Arab and Israeli attempts to subvert Syria with their more than three-year campaign of covert terrorism in that country.

Notice, too, how Syria has suddenly dropped from the Western media news cycles. This signals that Washington and its allies have realized that they cannot prosecute
their objectives of regime change in Syria and, secondarily, Iran.

Directing covert war to Iraq seems to be Washington’s Plan B to embroil and undermine Iran by some other means.

Western diplomatic sources are saying that Washington is not contemplating military cooperation with Iran in securing Iraq. But what might be on the cards is for Washington to countenance “Iran sending in troops to Iraq” to help shore up the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

That does not sound like “cooperation”. Rather, it sounds like Washington is preparing a quagmire for Iran in Iraq. One can envisage Iranian troops going into Iraq with the best of intentions of trying to secure the country and to quell the ISIS onslaught. Meanwhile, the US and its NATO and Arab allies will continue their covert support of their ISIS proxy and in that way drag Iran into a crippling counterinsurgency war.

The most effective way to end the violence in Iraq is for Washington and its allies to stop fuelling the proxy ISIS mercenaries and their war of terror in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region. That Washington and its allies are not contemplating the effective solution shows that their purported concerns for Iraq are not genuine, and nor are their “friendly” overtures towards Iran.

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PCUSA Tries Again to Divest From Occupation

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

The divestment vote is expected this week on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

by James M Wall

 

PUCA logo

The Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) is holding its biennial national General Assembly this week in Detroit, Michigan (June 14-21).

A number of overtures (resolutions) will be debated and voted on during the Assembly by 654 commissioners (elected representatives).

One overture before the Assembly will offer Presbyterian General Assembly commissioners the opportunity to have the denomination divest from three major corporations–Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola–that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

As of December 31, 2013, the PCUSA Board of Pensions’ total investment assets were $9.2 billion. The PCUSA has a membership of over 1,800,000 members related to 10,262 congregations.

The overture on pension funds and the Palestinian occupation has been presented to the General Assembly by the PCUSA’s “socially responsible investment committee”. It is a hard-hitting overture that follows ten years of failed discussions with representatives from the three targeted companies.

Church holdings in those companies will not have a major impact on profit and loss statements, but a divestment decision would be a major blow to the public image of the corporations, that all-important public face which leads big corporations to spend considerable money, time and energy, to protect and polish.

A vote for divestment would also further tarnish Israel’s international reputation, that precious commodity which Israel’s hasbara (propaganda) programs also labor mightily to protect and polish.

Previous religious divestment actions have come nationally in the Mennonite Church, and within the Quaker retirement fund. Other divestment victories have been won in regional bodies of the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.

Most recently, the Pension Board of the national United Methodist Church joined the Bill Gates Foundation in divesting from G4S, a British-based corporation which runs services for cash transportation and prison management in more than 125 countries.

Israel’s prison system in Palestine uses the services of G4S, a moral concern that played a part in the United Methodist Pension Board’s decision to withdraw portfolio funds from G4S.

Liz Ingenthron, writing in her pro-divestmenet Jewish Voices for Peace blog, emphasizes a point often misstated or ignored in pro-Israel media outlets: The divestment resolution does not call for divestment from Israel, from Israeli companies, or from Jewish-owned companies.

Rather, it mandates that the church’s pension board specifically divest from three multinational corporations doing business in Occupied Palestine.

Presbyterian layman Robert Ross is an Assistant Professor of Global Cultural Studies at Point Park University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His research and teaching focus on the political-economic geographies of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and the United States.

In his most recent posting for Mondoweiss, Ross provides background for the divestment vote:

The [PCUSA] does not invest in any companies that sell weapons, regardless of where, how, and by whom they might be used.

The three companies on the divestment docket this year—Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard—are in clear violation of this policy.

According to extensive research conducted by the Church’s Mission Responsibility through Investment (MRTI) committee,

Caterpillar provides weaponized bulldozers to the Israeli military, which are used to demolish farmland in Gaza and Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem;

Motorola Solutions manufactures fuses for Israeli bombs, the communications system for Israel’s military, and surveillance equipment for illegal Israeli settlements;

and Hewlett Packard furnishes the computer hardware for the Israeli Navy and the biometric scanners for checkpoints, through which all Palestinians (but no Israelis) in the occupied West Bank must pass. .  .  .

The overture to divest is thus in line with Church policy and stands as a clear reaffirmation of the denomination’s commitment to the Christian ideals of peace, justice, and human rights.

In short, there is no reason the Presbyterian Church (USA) should vote against divestment.

MJ Rosenberg, a Jewish progressive journalist who once worked for AIPAC, succinctly describes the occupation work of the three corporations targeted in the GA overture:

Caterpillar manufactures the bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes to make way for settlements.

Hewlett-Packard supplies Israel with the hardware to maintain the blockade of Gaza and the software to enable Israel to segregate and separate Palestinians at West Bank checkpoints.

Motorola provides the surveillance equipment used to monitor Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank.

These three are to the occupation what Dow Chemical was to the U.S. war in Vietnam.

Rosenberg has sound moral advice to offer pension board members:

I don’t understand why any religious group would invest in any of these companies in the first place. All three [Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola] are members in good standing of the military industrial complex and have been involved in unsavory activities around the globe. But that argument is for another day.

Right now, the Presbyterian Church has the opportunity to say NO to the occupation in a tangible, concrete way. It has the opportunity to support Palestinians without harming Israelis.

I can hardly imagine any progressive voting NO on this resolution, choosing big corporations over the people of both Palestine and Israel.

In spite of the obvious morality of a YES divestment vote, there is still no guarantee that this year’s General Assembly will support this particular overture.

A General Assembly 2012 vote to divest investment funds from these same companies, , failed by two votes. Intense lobbying from both sides of this issue–including both Christian and Jewish activists–is expected on and around the Assembly floor.

The divestment vote is expected this week on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

The illustration above is the official logo of this year’s 221st General Assembly.

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Iraq Crisis Underlines Massive Failure of Vision

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Middle-East-Union

Obama?  Netanyahu?  Maliki?  Saudi?  Arab League?  Rouhani? Ban Ki-Moon?  Bueller?  Anybody Home?

by Johnny Punish

This week, we’ve seen the contra-Iraqi Government force known as ISIL take cities in Iraq causing all players in the region to react.

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry is even calling for possible cooperation with Iran to stop what they refer to as terrorists against the duly elected Iraqi Government. Imagine that? Just a few news cycles ago, according to the West, Iran was the world’s number one supporter of terror and trying to get a nuke. And now, the same Western forces seek to cooperate with this “terrorist”? Really, you can’t make this stuff up people! It would be a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch if it were not true.

Now in reviewing news sources coming from Iran, the Iranians are clearly NOT interested in getting pulled into this war by the USA. They clearly outline that USA is behind the Takfiri uprisings in Syria against Assad and they are behind the ISIL funded directly by Saudi Arabia and Qatar who seek to support the Sunni over Shia. Many in Iran believe that the west seeks to bait Iran into war destabilizing it into a quagmire bankrupting their country. And Israel, the number one hater of Iran is all quiet happily allowing its attack dogs to do their bidding.

Yes we’ve seen many things. But what we have NOT seen is any government, any person, any leader present a real vision for the Middle East. No, they just keep going around in circles playing the same 20th century game while real people suffer, get hurt, die, and live in misery.

Leadership? What happened to that big word?

Well, there are so-called leaders who have limited visions. In Dubai, they want to be a super rich anti-septic city state. In Israel, they openly want a Jewish Only State; Eretz Israel as put forth by famed atheist Theodore Herzl in Judenstat; this where by 2050, without an extermination program, 50% of the citizenry is expected to be non-Jewish. What kind of real world practical 21st vision is that? And in Iraq, what is the vision? An Islamic Sunni state? A Shia State? Many States? What? Can anyone out there communicate and articulate a real long term vision for the Middle East? Something that serves humanity? The people? Yes, the people? Remember us?

Well, if no world leader can speak up, then, for the record, I offer everyone the MIDDLE EAST UNION (MEU).

Yes a bold grand plan and vision for a new 21st century Middle East. As it’s cornerstone is freedom of religion for everyone guaranteed as a right under its constitution. So Jews, Christians, and Muslims including all their respective sects and others can have their personal faiths protected under law.

And there will be states within this union that are represented in the new 21st century technology advanced open democracy designed by the greatest minds on the planet. In this way, decisions can be made intelligently and resources managed efficiently for the benefit of ALL MEU citizens.

Click to learn more about the BIG THINK vision for a New Middle East Union>>>

Well, there is so much more we can do to meet the great challenge. But first, we need to have a global summit on the Middle East. And we need to put forth the basic plan and get everyone on board. The future generations are calling and they are demanding we drop our failures and embrace a unified one love future that respects all humanity and evolves into a real new world order that honors each and every one of us in the highest way possible.

Hey, we humans went to the moon right? Well, we can do this even bigger project and make the Middle East the inspired model of human success for the centuries to come. With vision, we can do it. Without it, well turn on the news today, get out your box of Tylenol, and enjoy the same old headache delivered to you by the same failed NO vision.

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Smoking gun proof of “I$raHell teen kidnapping” false flag

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Mossad Chief predicted “three teens will be kidnapped” one week before it happened

Tamir Pardo, Chief of the Israeli Mossad

Tamir Pardo, Chief of the Israeli Mossad

 

By Kevin Barrett

Every time the Israeli government finds itself in a jam, its enemies rush in to save it. Or so we are supposed to believe.

The pattern is unmistakeable: The US is leaning on Israel to freeze or dismantle settlements…and suddenly a suicide bomb goes off.  The international community has Israel up against a wall…another bomb goes off. Argentina’s Jewish community starts turning anti-Zionist…and the Israeli embassy and Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires get blown up.

Today, the whole world is recognizing and applauding Palestine’s new coalition government featuring the newly-reconciled PLA and Hamas. Israel is going crazy, screaming about the “evil Hamas terrorists.” Suddenly three Israeli teens are allegedly kidnapped. Israel blames Hamas, and initiates a brutal crackdown in the West Bank.

But Hamas had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, from pulling off this kind of kidnapping. The only beneficiary is Israel, which wants to delegitimize the Palestinian coalition government. The situation fairly screams “false flag!”

Now it has emerged that the head of the Israeli Mossad actually “called” the kidnapping a week in advance!Haaretz just reported:

Mossad chief’s chillingly prescient kidnap prophecy

Ten days ago, Tamir Pardo outlined a scenario that was spookily similar to the kidnapping of three teens missing in the West Bank since Thursday.

By Barak Ravid

Ten days ago, at a security cabinet meeting, Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo outlined a scenario spookily similar to the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens missing since Thursday night… “What will you do if in a week three 14-year-old girls will be kidnapped from one of the settlements?,”  he asked. “Will you say there is a law, and we don’t release terrorists?”

So Tamir Pardo has just won a place for himself in the False Flag prognosticators’ Hall of Fame alongside:

*Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Cambone, Cohen, Kagan, Kristol, Libby, Rosen, Shulsky, and other PNAC-ers who called for a New Pearl Harbor in September, 2000 and got it exactly one year later.

*Philip Zelikow, who published a 1998 article in Foreign Affairs speculating on the psychological, political and cultural consequences of a massive Pearl Harbor style attack on America such as the destruction of the World Trade Center.

*Nick Rockefeller, who prior to 9/11 told Aaron Russo “there’s going to be an event” that would send America to war and usher in a National Security State of Emergency.

*Peter Power, the head of Visor Consultants, who confessed that the 7/7 London bombings perfectly mimicked a terror exercise that envisioned bombs going off in the four exact same locations at the exact same times that the real bombs went off.

*The Hollywood folks behind these 9/11 foreshadowings from “The Lone Gunman” and “The Simpsons”:
YouTube – Veterans Today –

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Palestinian Ambassador Hotly Denies ‘Recognising’ Jewish State

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hassassian

…it would be “political suicide”

by Stuart Littlewood

Israel’s elaborate hasbara (propaganda) machine has done a sterling job over the years of distorting the truth and re-framing the Holy Land narrative to make the regime in Tel Aviv appear blameless and its war criminals sweetly innocent.

Not only that, but also painting the unarmed, impoverished and captive Palestinians as aggressors who have no right to self-determination or self-defense.

And, of course, assisting the army of pro-Israel stooges in Western capitals to defend the indefensible.

It was no surprise, therefore, to come across an article, ‘The Two-State Solution: The Way Forward’, published a few days ago in Fathom, http://www.fathomjournal.org/policy-politics/the-two-state-solution-the-way-forward/promoting the idea that all would be well in occupied Palestine if only Palestinians were to recognise the state of Israel as “the Jewish state of Israel” in return for Israel recognising the Palestinian state. The piece is supposed to have been written jointly by the Palestinian ambassador in London, Professor Manuel Hassassian, and Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Chair in Politics at Hull University.

It kicks off with the statement that “to build genuine peace, it is essential to have trust, good will and mutual security….” Unfortunately there’s no mention of justice, without which there can be no genuine peace. “The peace deal should be attractive to both, equally. It cannot be one-sided, enforced or coerced.” But justice doesn’t do deals. And it often has to be enforced.

Not a good start then.

“Of all the possible solutions presently on the table,” continues the article, “a two-state solution is the most viable…. The Palestinians aspire to have an independent state in the 1967 borders, with Arab Jerusalem as its capital and a substantial return of refugees to Israel. The Israelis wish to retain the Jewish character of Israel, being the only Jewish state in the world….. Both sides need to make painful concessions….” Not at all; international law and natural justice should be allowed to decide these matters.

The endgame, say the writers, will include a sovereign Palestinian state and mutual recognition: “Israel shall recognise the State of Palestine; Palestine shall recognise the Jewish State of Israel.”

But stop right there. The idea that Palestinians should accept an Israeli state in their homeland while they are left with the shredded remnants is hard enough to swallow. That they must also recognise it as a Jewish state surely didn’t come from Professor Hassassian, judging by what he has said and written in the past. And pigs may fly before the Israelis agree to recognise a Palestinian state.

The article does, however, cover a number of common-sense suggestions, including the Old City of Jerusalem coming under a separate regime. As for water, it proposes “a fair solution that would not infringe the rights of any of the sides and will assure that the Palestinian people will have the required water supply for sustenance and growth” — though not, I suspect, for washing their cars, sprinkling their nice lawns and filling their swimming pools as the Israelis do. The condescending tone of voice sounds too much like they’re doing the Palestinians a favour, forgetting that the water aquifers largely belong to them in the first place.

The border will be on the 1967 line. “Having an undisputed, internationally-recognised border is the best security arrangement for both sides.” And Israel will agree to withdraw in principle to the Green Line (the 1949 armistice line), evacuating its settlements. However, the major settlement blocs – Maaleh Adumim, Givat Zeev, Gush Etzion, Modiin Illit and Ariel – which account for approximately 70 per cent of the Jewish population illegally occupying the West Bank may be annexed to Israel when a land-swap deal is reached.

To achieve territorial contiguity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip there would be a connecting corridor allowing safe and free passage. Furthermore, the Separation Wall should run roughly along the 1967 mutually agreed border.

As for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, the article explicitly says that Israel will not allow it except on a limited quota basis for family unification. This is in defiance of UN resolution 194, which resolved that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible”. This has been reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly every year since 1949. But the article suggests that monetary compensation for those who no longer wish to return but were nevertheless dispossessed and driven out wouldn’t be a matter for the “governments responsible” but left to the hard-pressed taxpayers of countries of good will.

That probably includes you and me.

Communication and media are also touched on. “Mutual channels of communication will be opened on television, radio and the internet.” Oh yeah. From long experience, we can imagine who will ultimately control the new ‘mutual media’.

And there is of course no mention of proper safeguards for Palestine’s offshore gas-field.

Anyone with a passing interest in the Holy Land situation must be asking themselves, would a Palestinian ambassador in his right mind put his name to such a ludicrous bunch of proposals?

Dirty Tricks Department strikes again!

In tandem with the article, and to reinforce the pretense of Palestinians approving a ‘Jewish state’ on their turf,Fathom’s editor Toby Greene printed his own response praising the joint Hassassian/Almagor paper. “It is particularly noteworthy that Professor Hassassian accepts that lasting peace means acknowledging the ‘Jewish character of Israel’ alongside Israeli recognition of the State of Palestine…. in contrast to the strong opposition shown by President Mahmoud Abbas to this principle.

“The willingness of the Palestinian ambassador to recognise Israel’s Jewish character is the most remarkable element of this document’s admirable attempt to bridge the current gaps,” says Greene.

This alone drops Hassassian into deep hot water.

He then attacks those “formulations and terminology” suggested by Hassassian/Almagor that no Israeli leader would accept. For example, says Greene, they endorse the 1967 line itself as the legitimate border and appear to make territorial exchange dependent on Palestinian goodwill – something the Israeli leadership could not go along with. He complains that no attention is paid to the Israeli security concerns that would result from giving up control of territory seized, nor to demilitarisation. Another Greene grumble is that there’s no explanation of how Gaza and its armed groups are to be dealt with and no sign that Hamas is ready to give up its military independence or drop its opposition to recognising Israel.

But, he concludes, the document is a timely reminder that a negotiated two-state agreement “offers both sides a future of much greater promise than any alternative.”

Dr Toby Greene, interestingly, is based in Israel and is Director of Research for BICOM as well as Deputy Editor of BICOM’s Fathom journal. BICOM (Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre) describes itself as “dedicated to creating a more supportive environment for Israel in Britain”. It claims to be independent but is supported in part by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC). Greene joined BICOM’s Israel office in 2008 and was previously Head of Policy and Research for Labour Friends of Israel. Pro-Palestinian activists worked out long ago what sort of outfit BICOM really is and will no doubt reach the same conclusions about Fathom.

BICOM claims, among a multitude of lies and half-truths, that the Israeli occupation is not an apartheid act but “a complicated and long-running national conflict between two peoples about their equally legitimate national claims over a piece of land”; and that in 1948 the Jews accepted the UN partition plan but an Arab invasion of the infant Jewish state caused a war. “The Palestinian refugee problem was born of this war, not by design, and certainly not by ethnic cleansing.”

Actually most Israelis have no ancestral connection to the Holy Land and no prior or equal claim to Palestinian lands. They did not accept the UN partition otherwise they would have dutifully remained behind their 1947 borders. Besides, the ethnic cleansing programme in which Jewish terror gangs and militia murdered and looted their way through the Holy Land putting some 750,000 Muslims and Christians to flight, destroying or depopulating between 400 and 500 towns and villages, began before 1948 and before the Jews even declared statehood. The generous allocation of territory by the UN partition was not enough for greedy Zionist leaders who went on an expansionist rampage, at the Palestinians’ expense, that continues to this day.

Narrow escape from jaws of ‘hasbara’ trap

Professor Hassassian’s office in London promptly issued a “clarification”. The article was written by Rafi Almagor. Ambassador Hassassian received the first draft of the article and commented on it with various corrections. The official position is that the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is responsible for external affairs] recognises the State of Israel but not a Jewish State. To suggest otherwise would be political suicide for any Palestinian ambassador. “Hassassian strongly opposes the recognition of a Jewish State because it denies the right of return and jeopardises the status of 1.5 million Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship. This has been evident in previous statements and talks given by the Ambassador.”

The final draft of the article was not seen by the Ambassador but sent directly to Fathom. Hassassian therefore “categorically denies what was attributed to him”. The views expressed by Professor Almagor are entirely his own.

The Ambassador’s office adds that the PLO recognised the state of Israel in 1988 and again in 1993. “Twenty-five years later we are still waiting for Israel to recognize the state of Palestine.” Furthermore, recognising Israel as a Jewish state is out of the question because it asks Palestinians to adopt a Zionist narrative that effectively wipes Palestinians from history.

As for Palestinian refugees who wish to return, this is an alienable right. “In any future peaceful settlement, the Palestinian refugee issue must be resolved in accordance with international law, including UN General Assembly Resolution 194, and Israel should acknowledge its responsibility for the creation and perpetration of the refugee issue.”

On this occasion the Ambassador, thanks to his record, escapes the hasbara trap by the skin of his teeth. He should be more careful in future who he collaborates with and his media ‘minders’ need to be more vigilant.

The antics of BICOM and its subsidiary Fathom look suspiciously like a clumsy attempt to re-jig the Israeli occupation narrative by putting words into the mouth of the ambassador and driving a wedge between him and his boss President Abbas. If that’s the case it confirms the Israelis’ increasing desperation for the rest of the world to endorse its repugnant, racist character and carry on supporting the two-state solution, which most people now see as unworkable.

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NO NEW U.S. WAR ON IRAQ 4 Facts You Need to Know

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bombiiraq.jpg
The ‘Shock & Awe’ bombing of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis
Click to download a printable
PDF of this fact sheet 

4 Facts You Need
to Know
The following is available as a PDF.
Click here to download and print.

1. The Iraq war killed millions — the politicians responsible are still walking free.

From 1991 to 2003, U.S. bombing and sanctions took 1 million Iraqi lives, including 500,000 children. Between 2003-2011 the U.S. war took another 1 million Iraqi lives. 5 million were made refugees. Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers were killed or wounded. The U.S. policymakers—the war criminals—who carried out this human atrocity are still walking free, giving speeches and raking in millions of dollars in book deals.

2. The U.S. invasion and occupation is what caused the present situation.

The present civil conflict in Iraq is a result of the U.S. war and occupation, which destroyed the Iraqi government and divided the country along sectarian lines in order to conquer it. This reversed Iraq’s long history of secularism, and the coexistence and intermarrying among its diverse communities. Islamic extremist forces were practically non-existent in Iraq until the Pentagon invaded.

3. The Iraqi people OPPOSE U.S. intervention.

Huge numbers of Iraqis fought the U.S. occupation. While the sectarian Iraqi government led by Maliki has requested U.S. intervention, that is the last thing that the majority of Iraqi people want.

4. The Pentagon and Wall St. want to control Iraq, not help it.

Millions of people protested Bush’s war. It was built on lies. Iraq was no threat and had no connection to the 9/11 attacks. It was a war for oil, profit and control. The same war criminals are now calling for new U.S. attacks in Iraq and escalating the war against the independent government of Syria. Don’t fall for their lies!

The people of this country need jobs, education and housing — not another war on Iraq.
Iraq for Iraqis — U.S. Hands Off!

 

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A Voice From Kassabn

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An American in Syria

by JUDY BELLO

I was with a group of 5 Americans, 3 Canadians and an Irishman who went to observe the Syrian election, but there were other observers from Asia, Africa and South America. On the way there, I thought about having a particular angle to report from, and I decided that since there weren’t many women observers that I would talk to other women and try to get their perspective on the election, but also on life in Syria before and after the war.   I wanted to look at the issues from a less politicized perspective than most of what you hear and read on the subject of the war in Syria, and Assad’s election.

I did meet and interview number of women in Syria, and I found myself in contact with another woman when I got back, an American named Lilly Martin living in Syria with her Syrian husband.    When I heard that Lilly had a house in the town of Kassab that had been destroyed during the recent period of occupation by ‘rebel’ forces (actually, al Nusra Front I think) , I wanted to know more. Kassab, an Armenian town near the Turkish border, was occupied during March of this year and only liberated by the Syrian Army a few days ago. I asked Lilly via email if she would be willing to do a written interview through email and she agreed.

Because Lilly is a middle class American and has lived much of her life in this country, her voice is familiar.  She says that she had not considered herself an ‘activist’ since the Vietnam War.    She says she had not thought of herself as a feminist before now.   But, she says this war has changed her.   Not everyone will agree with Lilly’s perspective, but it is honest, and not unfamiliar.   I am very grateful to her for sharing her insights and experiences.   What follows are my questions and Lilly’s answers.

Judy: How did you come to live in Syria?

Lilly: I married in 1978 in California a young kid my same age who was originally from Syria, but had migrated to USA and had left Syria in 1970.  We were married and living in California from 1978 to 1994.  He was in the real estate business and I was a medical professional.  We had 2 sons born in CA, then moved to Syria to be close to his parents and siblings.  My parents had died, and my only brother was living in Singapore teaching.

Judy: How long have you lived in Kassab and did you live in Syria before that?

Lilly: I have lived in the city of Latakia from 1994 until present.  Latakia is a mid-size city, it is a beach resort for summer tourism and a Port for shipping.  I visited Latakia first in 1986, then in 1990, and finally moved here in 1994.  The home I lost in Kassab is my summer house, as Kassab is a high mountain village, and many people have a summer house there.  Kassab is about 2000 pop and is Armenian, but the summer-house-people are of other sects.  Kassab used to be a frequent summer spot for Saudi and Kuwaiti families seeking cool breezes.  They would drive up  from “Arabia”.

Judy: What was your life like in Kassab before the war?

Lilly: My life in Latakia from 1994 to March 2011 was wonderful.  I had a great group of friends, they were all females, some Syria and some western women.  We had regular meetings and I called them ‘The Ladies Club’.   That ‘club’ was broken up by this war, because some of the ladies backed the ‘revolution’ and some did not.  I did not, so we have never met again, after a famous Christmas party in 2011, where I simply stated, “My Christmas prayer is: God please stop the terrorists”.  Half the group attacked me viciously, they said that there were no terrorists, only freedom fighters.  When I said, “But, they are making bombs and throwing them everywhere indiscriminately!”  They countered, “They have to defend themselves.”  I never did get their logic of throwing a bomb into a shopping center in order to defend themselves.

My kids had free education, and really a good education system in both Arabic and English, mandatory.  My kids went to University for FREE, which is the right of all Syria students, as long as the grades are kept up.  We had free medical, hospital, surgeries, etc.  Medicines were so cheap, because Syria was a large manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, with export to over 32 countries.   Free education and Free medical.  What more do you want?
Latakia is a easy-going place, there are no dress codes or restrictions here.  Everyone got along and in 1994-March 2011 there were no uprising, no riots, no sectarian strife.  The government and police were strong, so criminal activity was very low, no one had hand guns other than police and Army.  No robberies, no car-jackings, no armed robbery, no bank robbery.  There was regular crime, like thieves coming in when people were away, and a car theft, but nothing which involved a gun.  No one had a gun.

Judy: Did you or your loved ones ever have any problem with the government in Syria

Lilly: I never had any problem with the government.  My husband, and all of his family members, are NOT civil servants, or connected to the government in anyway.  My husband is a self-employed businessman.  We didn’t have anyone who was in prison, or in any trouble.  It was my general impression that there was nothing to be afraid of, if you obeyed the laws, just I would have if I was still living in USA.

Judy: What did you think was happening at the beginning of the insurgency and where did you think it would lead?

Lilly: We all watched the revolution in Egypt.  We wondered if it was coming to Syria?  We all shook our heads and guessed that it would NOT.  I had friends who were a couple of retired teachers from Canada, who had asked to come to visit Syria in January 2011.  We all debated as to whether there could be any disturbances, and we all concluded that there was nothing going to happen.   They came and we did my famous ‘walking-tour’ of Damascus.  They went home and our revolution began March 2011.

From our home, watching TV we watched the coverage of Deraa March 201 unfold.  Deraa is a very small and insignificant town.  It is so small and remote, I would venture a guess that 90% of Syrians had never visited it.  I know that the Latakian people had no relationship to Deraa, they were about 8 hours drive time between the 2  and there was no exchanges between the 2 places.  Deraa was famous for archeology, and farming, and no much else.
At first, we guessed it must really be an uprising.  An actual uprising of disgruntled people .  People who felt oppressed or grievances of some sort.  Then we wondered why were their so many soldiers and policemen being killed?   How could the BBC report a soldiers funeral as coming under fire from other soldiers?  That made no sense. Who were these snipers on roofs?  Once they showed the Omari Mosque was a store-room for weapons, then we understood the true story.  This was a foreign attack, but disguised as a popular uprising.
If it was really an uprising, then we should see it come to Latakia eventually.  It did, on April 1, 2011.  That was the first day.  The mayor and other dignitaries went out to the protesters and asked them “WHAT” do you all want?  They said in reply, “FREEDOM”.  The mayor asked, “WHAT does that mean?”  No reply.  I saw the protesters.  They were drug addicts and weird looking people, and they didn’t all look like there were even from Latakia.  Out-side agitators, bused in to create trouble.  However, there were some genuine intellectuals, how were duped into promoting the cause, which they later dropped when it went to armed rebellion.
People would protest, they would destroy shops, they killed innocent civilians, they killed soldiers, and police.  Next came the President on TV announcing that they would abolish the emergency law, and they would send all police and soldiers to watch the protests, but strictly unarmed.  The President thought that the western media was  showing the Syrian police and soldiers as  brutal, so by taking away the weapons, there could be no excesses.  I’ll never forget that day, the day they were not allowed to carry a weapon, just to stand and watch.  My friend’s  son in the Police force, stood and watched, and the peaceful protesters cut him up with axes.  He was buried in a plastic garbage bag.  That was April 2011, from that day on we knew this was really awful, and had nothing to do with freedom or democracy.

Judy: Were you aware of a part of the population that was not being well served by the government and who could be used to spearhead a regional proxy war?

Lilly:  The government in Syria was, and is secular.  The President is a minority, but most of his cabinet of ministers are Sunni, the majority.  The Defense Minister, who is directly responsible for the Military, was a Christian, until the terrorists blew him up in Damascus, and now he is a Sunni.  The Syrian government has never been a “Alowi Elite”, or a “Minority Rule”.  Those are media mantra, but are not fact.

My husband and all his relatives are Sunni, the majority, which is about 60% of the country.  Alowi are about 20%, Christians are about 15%, there are about 5%  which are Shite.  Syria is famous for having 18 sects.  The first sectarian strife was instigated by the Ottoman Turks in 1860.    The second sectarian strife was 1980’s in Hama, instigated by Muslim Brotherhood.  During the years I have been here there was no sectarian strife.
Every Syrian is the same under law.  Corruption does exist, as it does all over the middle east, but it was dispersed among all sects.  The reason for this secular government was due to the Ba’ath Party being the sole ruling party until 2012, when the new constitution  abolished the one party rule.  The Ba’ath party was strictly secular, and members and supporters of the Ba’ath party are among all various sects.  It is still the largest and strongest party.  It will take years to build confidence in other parties.
There was no “under-served, oppressed, unrepresented” portion of Syrian society.  The western media mantra is the SUNNI majority rose up because they had been downtrodden too long.  This is the SUNNI fantasy.  My family are Sunni, and from the average types, nothing spectacular or different.   There is a self-deluded paranoia here, among under-educated and bigoted Sunnis, who say all their problems are because the Alowis have all the breaks.  No one asks the Sunnis why do they refuse to take advantage of the FREE education?  They decided that they will do a revolution, strip everything hard earned from their minority neighbors, and then the yogurt maker will be appointed Prime Minster.  This is their fantasy.
There is a huge cultural difference between Sunni families and Alowi families here on the coast, which is the Alowi highest concentration.  You find the Alowi families living on an orange farm, the mother and father are tending to the trees, meanwhile their kids are studying to be a Doctor, Lawyer and Engineer.  Down in the city of Latakia, you find the Sunni families complaining that their kids have to study so much, and they have to pay for private tutors because their kids are not self motivated, and want to drop out of school. These people are my relatives, and have been through 36 years of marriage.  They need a lot of work, and they need to do it alone.
It was the Sunni population which fostered and participated in the rebellion.  It didn’t take much outside agitation to get them into the streets and demanding that the country should be Sunni only, with all Christians shipped out to Beirut, and all Alowis slaughtered.  That was the Free Syrian Army’s first banners and slogans.  The Free Syrian Army was and is exclusively Sunni.  If you can find one FSA soldier who is from any sect  other than Sunni, I will give you $100.00  The FSA is a bigoted, sectarian terrorist group, who prays upon the uneducated, and undereducated bigoted people who  want to blame all their woes on the government and their minority neighbors.
The problem with this plan of revolution was that it had very little support on the ground.  The vast majority of Sunnis did not buy it or accept it or support it.

Judy: What do you think is the role of the US in the current war against Syria?

Lilly:  The US is the founder, inventor and the prime driver of the attack on the Syrian people for the purpose of regime change.   The CIA admits they started planning and funding this many years ago.  I can understand their wish for regime change, as Syria is a pro-Palestinian resistance supporter.  Those goals are not compatible with US.  However, once they started their plans, and got to the point that they could see their was no ground support for the removal of the President, they should have switched gears and given up on the attack, and found another plan.  But, the evil part is to continue killing innocent unarmed civilians, only because they refuse to be traitors and refuse to stop fighting terrorists.  This is a moral low point for USA foreign policy.

The funding comes from Saudi Arabia, who is forced to fund by black-mail.   In other words, if they don’t fund terrorism, their Royal family would be taken out over night, in the cause of human rights, and a new form of government instituted by USA.  This could still happen.  The Saudis have to be very docile, if they act too strong, the US will cut them down to size.  The Army and military in Saudi Arabia are all in the hands of USA.

Judy: Did the people of Kassab have much social or economic commerce with people on the other side of the border in Turkey before the war?

Lilly:  The border crossing at Kassab was very busy before the war.  Trucks of Turkish merchandise coming in, Syrian dress shop owners going to Turkey for merchandise orders from their factories, shoes coming in from Turkey, sugar and tea going to Turkey from Syria (cheaper in Syria).  The back and forth business exchanges were daily.  As far as tourism, the Syrians went to Turkey all summer long on bus trips, going to shops, going to restaurants, to resorts.  My own family took our summer vacation every year in Turkey.  We loved it.

Judy: Were there problems with terrorists in Kassab before they took over the town a few months ago?

Lilly:  The road from Latakia to Kassab had remained open all during the war.  People were constantly coming and going between the 2 all during the war.  Even on March 21, the day of invasion, there were people in Kassab visiting there.  There was a place to the EAST of Kassab, towards Idlib, Qasta Maaf, Selma, Ferloq, Rabia, all those areas to the EAST of Kassab had experienced problems with terrorists.  But, the coast and Kassab were OK and there had been no previous attacks.  It was a shock and mystery why they would burst into Kassab on March 21, 2014.  I still don’t see the military target or strategy.  From the other side, I can’t see why they did it.  Massacring 88 unarmed civilians and beheading 13.  Why?  For what reason?  Because they were Christians?

Judy: Were there internal divisions in or around Kassab where people were taking divisive political or military stances within the community?

Lilly:  There was nothing whatsoever political going on in Kassab.  2,000 Armenians, Syrian citizens, who are Christian.  They were all small farmers, apples and peaches.  Some owned tiny grocery shops, some owned hand soap factories, small sized, for the production of Olive Oil  and Bay leaf hand soap bars.  There were no parties, no protests, nothing.  The Syrian Christians are all of one mind, which is in support of peace, safety, support of the government.  I have never seen any Syrian Christian say anything about supporting any rebellion.  There could be some Syrian Christians in USA who may be supporting regime change, but not inside Syria.  Christians here see the rebellion as 100% Sunni and they have no place in it.

Judy: Were people killed when Kassab was overrun or did most people escape before the terrorists came in?

Lilly:    6 am, March 21, 2014 the terrorists burst in, according to survivors (I have their names and testimony) the terrorists were a combination of  foreigners, with a few Syrians included.  This would be classic Free Syrian Army.  They are Syrians working with various Al Qaeda.  88 unarmed civilians killed immediately, with 13 of those beheaded.  The survivors ran to Latakia in cars, etc.  The survivors are still sleeping here at the Armenian church in Latakia (I spoke by cell phone to their media person this morning)  22 very elederly survivors were kidnapped and taken by force to Turkey, were they were treated well in a small village 23 kilometers north of Kassab.  11 of them have been brought back to Latakia, via Lebanon and we are waiting for the other 11.

Judy: Have you been suffering other problems due to the war before or since the terrorist invasion of Kassab? Have there been shortages of food or gas and oil, for instance.

Lilly: Since the war began, March 2011, the prices of normal everyday items of life have risen by 8 times.  If an item had cost 100 lira, it is now 800 lira.  I am referring to everything you eat, drink, or clothes.  Many medicines are no longer available.  You would have to go to Lebanon to find them, and at US prices.  Gas, food and supplies are available, but at prices many can not bear.  Syria has never had a welfare program, like money given to the poor.  So the poor are suffering.

For example: my husband sells bulldozers.  He has not sold one bulldozer since March 2011.  We have been living off savings, with no income at all in this period.  We are a typical family.  Government employees still have their paychecks, so this helps many.  Self employed people have been hit, and especially factory workers, since all the various factories were destroyed by FSA.
At certain times we were staying inside city limits, it was too dangerous to travel.  Right now, the roads from Latakia to Homs to Damascus are all open and OK.  There is no travel from Latakia to Aleppo, that is all terrorist lands.

Judy: What are the conditions under which refugees in Latakia live?

Lilly:  The survivors of Kassab have been and still are sleeping at the Armenian church in Latakia.  The church is modern and has water, kitchen, toilets and plenty of space.  It is a church, school and cultural center all in one.  It was renovated about 5 years ago, thank God for that, it has been put to use.  The refugees are well cared for and have funds donated and  are OK for the persent, but they will need a lot to repair and rebuild their homes in Kassab.  Many homes have been looted and destroyed.  Some are burnt up, some demolished.

Judy: How have the conditions of the war affected the circumstances of women and children in general in Syria?

Lilly:   Women and children have suffered a great deal.  But the biggest suffering has been those that LEFT Syria to stay in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.  I will discuss the females and kids outside of Syria later with you.  The suffering of those inside Syria, internally displaced, has been real, but not much more than males.   We have many internally displaced refugees from Aleppo here in Latakia.  They have food, shelter, medicines, and the kids are all in school.  They are suffering because they can’t go home.  They can’t have a normal income.

Judy: I saw a lot of martyrs images in and around Tartous when I was there.    Are many of the men in your community engaged in the fighting as members of the military?

Lilly:  The Syrian Army was ranked #16 in the world prior to the war.  It consisted of 600,000 soldiers.  I know many have died, the official count is 25,000 soldiers dead.  The Syrian Army consists of young men 18 and over, healthy and not currently enrolled in University.  It is a compulsory duty.  The Syrian Army soldiers are from all 18 different sects.  They are not “Assad loyalist” any more that the US military are “Obama  regime loyalist”.  Uniformed soldiers in a national Army are fighting for their country and family, but not necessarily for their leader or political ideology.  The typical American soldier and the typical Syrian soldier are similar.  You wear and uniform and shoot a gun and no one ever asks you for your political analysis.

The Syrian soldiers who have died in the war are from every family in every community across Syria.  Everyone has lost someone.

Judy: How did you feel about the election?   What are your thoughts on Bashar Assad’s continued Presidency?

Lilly:   I was very excited about the election, I observed my local poll and took photos and wrote a report.  I had been expecting the current President to make a big move toward free elections back in 2007.  I could tell when he came to office in 200 he wanted to make changes.  He was very slow, but I am sure he had advisors who cautioned to go slow.  Syria is so conservative, they move slow. I know that the majority of people support him.

There are people who boycotted the election, they are mainly these bigoted, sectarian types.  If they wanted a Sunni President, they could have all voted for Dr. Hassan al Nouri, but only 500,000 did.  If you ask any of the revolutionaries who do they want leading, they have no candidate, no ideas, no goals.  They are just dead-heads as far as I am concerned.  All they needed to do was to present a vision of what they wanted for Syria should the regime fall.  If their vision proposed was acceptable to many, it would have happened.  But they never had a vision, or any plan.  They are the blind leading the blind and wondering why everyone voted for President Assad.  

Judy:  Do you feel safe going home?

Lilly:     I won’t feel safe returning to Kassab, to check on my home there, until all the Armenians go.  I will tag-along with them.  I would be afraid of left over bombs, or dead bodies laying around.  I am a bit afraid really.  But at some point the all clear will be given and I will go.  I have to.

Judy: Will you be given any assistance with rebuilding?

Lilly:  The government has already said there will be funds provided for rebuilding the whole of the country.  The exact amounts, and how and when, those are in the works.  Syria entered into the war with zero debts.  They have paid for many weapons and various supplies, they were not given any gifts, they paid for everything, but still have not taken any loans from anyone.  This was their goal, to be able to spend their own money without asking for loans, which could make you feel tied up later, beholden.

Judy: Is there anything else you would like to share with people about what is going on in Syria right now?

Lilly:   The main thing is for the various countries funding and supporting the attack on Syria to stop.  That means the London 11 group (formerly known as the Friends of Syria) should be dissolved.  There should be no more paychecks and weapons sent to terrorists to fight inside Syria.  The Rat Line from Benghazi to Iskenderun, Turkey should be shut.  The borders along Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan should be well guarded and terrorists should be prevented from coming in.   if the various sponsors and supporters will stop immediately, Syrian can slowly recover, clean up and re-build.  In the consideration of humanitarian issues, I would ask that all nations formerly against Syria cease and desist and let’s discuss ways to make Syria a better place through the UN and other peaceful means.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on A Voice From Kassabn

Who is Watergate?

NOVANEWS

Ehrlichman, Haldeman and the “Jewish Plot” to Get Nixon:

REV, BILLY GRAHAM TO NIXON FEBRARY, 1, 1977
” Newsweek is Totally, it all run by Jews and Dominated by them in their eritorial pages: The New York Times, The Washington Post. Totally Jewish too ”
Nixon:
” This stranglehold has got be broken or this country is going down the drain” ” Do you beleve that?
Graham: ”Yes Sir”
Nixo: ” I cant ever say it. But i believe it.”
See: www.shoah.org.uk
by CLANCY SIGAL

A tiny item in yesterday’s paper jogs my memory.  The garage where, on this 42d anniversary, “Deep Throat” passed teasing information to WashPost reporter Bob Woodward is due to be demolished.  People under a certain age probably don’t know about Watergate or have only a vague textbook idea.  Or they picked it up from Pakula’s great movie “All The President’s Men” where Robt Redford plays the restrained gentile journalist Woodward and Dustin Hoffman the pushy Jewish foot-in-the-door Carl Bernstein.  The film made investigative reporting not only popular but respectable…that is until our present administration began cracking down on hardnose reporters.

I am personally responsible for the break in by five CIA employees into the Democratic Natl Hq at the Watergate office complex.  Let’s walk this back a bit.  Among Pres Nixon’s close aides in the 1970s who went into the slammer for (among other crimes) obstruction of justice were my two UCLA drinking buddies also my political enemies, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman.  The “third man” at UCLA, also a drinking companion at Westwood’s Glen bar, was Alex Butterfield, another Nixon aide, who spilled the beans with his surprise disclosure that Nixon taped his criminal activities.  (Later, when I spoke to Alex, who was never prosecuted, and asked if it was all a CIA plot to dethrone the president, he just smiled at me signaling well yeah maybe but you didn’t hear it from me.)

Haldeman, Ehrlichman and I were BMOC, big men on campus, sharing the same student activities building.  The Wasp culture then was to wear a cheerful, slightly robotic Pepsodent smile even when stabbing another student in the back.  The mantra was: “It’s not personal, Clancy.”  They were ferociously anti-Red, but we didn’t let a little thing like that get in the way of fraternity-style palship.  (Bob was Beta Sig, John Kapp Sig, I a “barbarian” which is what Greek Row called non-orgs.)

One day, as the campus paper’s managing editor, I walked into the Dean of Students office where Ehrlichman was the Dean’s fraternity liason and surprised him with a magnifying class bent over photographs of student demonstrators (including me) marking in red crayon the most dangerous subversives.  “Hey John, whatcha doing?”  He just smiled blandly, “Oh, you caught me.”  Much later he confessed that identifying fellow students to the FBI and LA police “red squad” was his “ongoing counterintelligence function” whatever that means.

I visited Haldeman in prison at Lompoc and Ehrlichman in New Mexico just before he began his sentence.  They were happy to talk and talk and talk.  Just like the old days at the Glen.  Haldeman, the more buttoned up of the duo, was the most revealing.  He said that Watergate was born in old campus struggles that centered on the UCLA Daily BruinDin the grip of “Jewish liberals” like me who had it in for him over a long-forgotten fraternity scandal involving, yes!, a dead puppy dog.  (I protested to Bob that I wasn’t a liberal then but a radical but he just blinked uncomprehendingly, I was trying to fool him again, libs and rads what’s the difference?)

Follow the logic: Jews-and-liberals (same thing) control the media (campus newspaper) in their vendetta against loyal Americans.  By extension, when Nixon is in the White House and brings in the three UCLA boys, ALL media is controlled by Jewish liberals who have never forgiven Haldeman for that damn puppy dog.

So all of you who have gone to college those many long years ago and think it’s all forgotten think again: old insults from a sensitive age and era have a habit of coming back to life like Dracula and sinking in their fangs, nothing personal.

Posted in USAComments Off on Who is Watergate?

The Baghdad Fear Index

NOVANEWS
As Iraq Breaks Up, the Price of a Bullet Has Tripled


by PATRICK COCKBURN

Iraq is breaking up, with Shia and ethnic minorities fleeing massacres as a general Sunni revolt, led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) sweeps through northern Iraq. The Isis assault is still gaining victories, capturing the Shia Turkoman town of Tal Afar west of Mosul after heavy fighting against one of the Iraqi army’s more effective units.

Iraq could soon see sectarian slaughter similar to that which took place at the time of the partition of India in 1947. Pictures and evidence from eye witnesses confirm that Isis massacred some 1,700 Shia captives, many of them air force cadets, at the air force academy outside Tikrit, which proves that Isis intends to cleanse its new conquests of Shia. Sunni cadets were told to go home. If the battle moves to Baghdad, then the Shia majority in the capital might see the Sunni enclaves, particularly those in west Baghdad, such as Amiriya and Khadra, as weak points in their defences, and drive out the inhabitants.

In a misguided effort to sustain the morale of people in the capital, the government closed down the internet at 9am. It had already closed YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The excuse is that Isis uses them to communicate, but this is extremely unlikely since Isis has a more professional communications system of its own. Since there is little confidence in the news on government-run television stations, or provided by official spokesmen, the internet shutdown is creating a vacuum of information filled by frightening rumours that are difficult to check.

The result is an atmosphere of growing panic in Baghdad with volunteers from the Shia militias being trucked to Samarra, north of the capital, to stop the Isis advance. The cost of a bullet for an AK47 assault rifle has tripled to 3,000 Iraqi dinars, or about $2. Kalashnikovs are almost impossible to buy from arms dealers though pistols can still be obtained at three times the price of a week ago. In the Shia holy city of Kerbala, south-east of Baghdad, the governor has asked volunteers to bring their own weapons to recruitment centres.

Many civilians are leaving Baghdad and the better-off have already gone abroad. The head of an Iraqi security company told me: “I am off to Dubai on an unscheduled holiday to see my daughters because all the foreigners I was protecting have already left.” The price of a cylinder of propane gas, used by Iraqis for cooking, has doubled to 6,000 Iraqi dinars, because it normally comes from Kirkuk, the road to which is now cut off by Isis fighters.

Rumours swirl through Baghdad. There was a report this morning that the whole of Anbar, the giant Sunni province, which normally has a population of 1.5 million, had fallen. But a call to a friend in its capital Ramadi revealed that fighting is still going on. A former minister last night told me that Isis, unable to take Samarra, had switched its assault to Baquba in Diyala province, one of the gateways to Baghdad, but a resident denied there was fighting.

It was a different story in Tal Afar, supposedly defended by 1,000 Kurdish peshmerga but they were either overwhelmed or forced to retreat. There are reports the commander of the Iraqi army division fighting there had been captured. The Turkoman Shia inhabitants have fled to Kurdish-held zones and the town is largely deserted. A source in Mosul said yesterday that the Iraqi air force had carried out bombing raids there, and electricity supplies had been cut.

What is not in doubt is that the Sunni revolt, in which Isis fighters act as shock troops, is still gathering strength though there has been no serious attack on the capital. If it does begin, Isis will be faced by hundreds of thousands of Shia militia and, if it makes progress, by Iranian military forces probably in the shape of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iraqi media has been reporting that two Iranian divisions are already in Iraq, but as of Monday afternoon I had not met anybody who had seen them.

With regular Iraqi army commanders discredited or distrusted, Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds force of the IRGC is in Baghdad and is reported to have taken over planning and strategy. Iraqi officials say the Iranians plan to secure the road north to Samarra, a mostly Sunni city, but with a revered Shia shrine, and then use that as a rallying point for forces to re-take Tikrit and Mosul.

An important factor is how far President Masoud Barzani, head of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, who has just made historic gains for his people by taking over Kirkuk and other territories in dispute with Baghdad, will want to join a government counter-attack. The extent to which the entire 350,000 strong Iraqi army forces are demoralised is also unclear. Officers returning from Mosul say that their senior commanders fled or told them not to resist.

Asked about the cause of defeat, one recently retired Iraqi general said: “Corruption! Corruption! Corruption!” He said it started when the Americans told the Iraqi army to outsource food and other supplies in about 2005. A battalion commander was paid for a unit of 600 soldiers, but had only 200 men under arms and pocketed the difference which meant enormous profits. The army became a money-making machine for senior officers and often an extortion racket for ordinary soldiers who manned the checkpoints. On top of this, well-trained Sunni officers were side-lined. “Iraq did not really have a national army,” the general concluded.

Posted in IraqComments Off on The Baghdad Fear Index

The ISIS Fiasco: It’s Really an Attack on Iran

NOVANEWS
For Once, Not a CIA Plot?

by MIKE WHITNEY

There’s something that doesn’t ring-true about the coverage of crisis in Iraq. Maybe it’s the way the media reiterates the same, tedious storyline over and over again with only the slightest changes in the narrative. For example, I was reading an article in the Financial Times by Council on Foreign Relations president, Richard Haass, where he says that Maliki’s military forces in Mosul “melted away”. Interestingly, the Haass op-ed was followed by a piece by David Gardener who used almost the very same language. He said the “army melts away.” So, I decided to thumb through the news a bit and see how many other journalists were stung by the “melted away” bug. And, as it happens, there were quite a few, including Politico, NBC News, News Sentinel, Global Post, the National Interest, ABC News etc. Now, the only way an unusual expression like that would pop up with such frequency would be if the authors were getting their talking points from a central authority. (which they probably do.) But the effect, of course, is the exact opposite than what the authors intend, that is, these cookie cutter stories leave readers scratching their heads and feeling like something fishy is going on.

And something fishy IS going on. The whole fable about 1,500 jihadis scaring the pants off 30,000 Iraqi security guards to the point where they threw away their rifles, changed their clothes and headed for the hills, is just not believable. I don’t know what happened in Mosul, but, I’ll tell you one thing, it wasn’t that. That story just doesn’t pass the smell test.

And what happened in Mosul matters too, because nearly every journalist and pundit in the MSM is using the story to discredit Maliki and suggest that maybe Iraq would be better off without him. Haass says that it shows that the army’s “allegiance to the government is paper thin”. Gardener says its a sign of “a fast failing state.” Other op-ed writers like Nicolas Kristof attack Maliki for other reasons, like being too sectarian. Here’s Kristof:

“The debacle in Iraq isn’t President Obama’s fault. It’s not the Republicans’ fault. Both bear some responsibility, but, overwhelmingly, it’s the fault of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri Kamal al-Maliki.”

Of course, Kristof is no match for the imperial mouthpiece, Tom Friedman. When it comes to pure boneheaded bluster, Friedman is still numero uno. Here’s how the jowly pundit summed it up in an article in the Sunday Times titled “Five Principles for Iraq”:

“Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, has proved himself not to be a friend of a democratic, pluralistic Iraq either. From Day 1, he has used his office to install Shiites in key security posts, drive out Sunni politicians and generals and direct money to Shiite communities. In a word, Maliki has been a total jerk. Besides being prime minister, he made himself acting minister of defense, minister of the interior and national security adviser, and his cronies also control the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry.

Maliki had a choice — to rule in a sectarian way or in an inclusive way — and he chose sectarianism. We owe him nothing.” (Five Principles for Iraq, Tom Freidman, New York Times)

Leave it to Friedman, eh? In other words, the reason Iraq is such a mess, has nothing to do with the invasion, the occupation, the death squads, Abu Ghraib, the Salvador Option, the decimated infrastructure, the polluted environment, or the vicious sectarian war the US ignited with its demented counterinsurgency program. Oh, no. The reason Iraq is a basketcase is because Maliki is a jerk. Maliki is sectarian. Bad Maliki.

Sound familiar? Putin last week. Maliki this week. Who’s next?

In any event, there is a rational explanation for what happened in Mosul although I cannot verify its authenticity. Check out this post at Syria Perspectives blog:

“…the Iraqi Ba’ath Party’s primary theoretician and Saddam’s right-hand man, ‘Izzaat Ibraaheem Al-Douri, himself a native of Mosul…was searching out allies in a very hostile post-Saddam Iraq … Still on the run and wanted for execution by the Al-Maliki government, Al-Douri still controlled a vast network of Iraqi Sunni Ba’athists who operated in a manner similar to the old Odessa organization that helped escaped Nazis after WWII … he did not have the support structure needed to oust Al-Maliki, so, he found an odd alliance in ISIS through the offices of Erdoghan and Bandar. Our readers should note that the taking of Mosul was accomplished by former Iraqi Ba’athist officers suspiciously abandoning their posts and leaving a 52,000 man military force without any leadership thereby forcing a complete collapse of the city’s defenses. The planning and collaboration cannot be coincidental.” (THE INNER CORE OF ISIS – THE INVASIVE SPECIES, Ziad Fadel, Syrian Perspectives)

I’ve read variations of this same explanation on other blogs, but I have no way of knowing whether they’re true or not. But what I do know, is that it’s a heckuva a lot more believable than the other explanation mainly because it provides enough background and detail to make the scenario seem plausible. The official version–the “melts away” version– doesn’t do that at all. It just lays out this big bogus story expecting people to believe it on faith alone. Why? Because it appeared in all the papers?

That seems like a particularly bad reason for believing anything.

And the “army melting away” story is just one of many inconsistencies in the official media version of events. Another puzzler is why Obama allowed the jihadis to rampage across Iraq without lifting a finger to help. Does that strike anyone else as a bit odd?

When was the last time an acting president failed to respond immediately and forcefully to a similar act of aggression?

Never. The US always responds. And the pattern is always the same. “Stop what you are doing now or we’re going to bomb you to smithereens.” Isn’t that the typical response?

Sure it is. But Obama delivered no such threat this time. Instead, he’s qualified his support for al-Maliki saying that the beleaguered president must “begin accommodating Sunni participation in his government” before the US will lend a hand. What kind of lame response is that? Check out this blurb from MNI News:

“President Barack Obama Friday warned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the United States wants him to begin accommodating Sunni participation in his government, or see the United States withhold the help he needs, short of U.S. troops on the ground, to ward off an attack on Baghdad.

Obama added the emphasis of an appearance before TV cameras to his midday message, that while he will be considering options for some military intervention in the days ahead, the next move is up to Maliki.”
(Obama Warns Iraq’s Maliki,Looking for Sunni-Shia Accommodation, MNI)

Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? Imagine if , let’s say, the jihadi hordes had gathered just 50 miles outside of London and were threatening to invade at any minute. Do you think Obama would deliver the same message to UK Prime Minister David Cameron?

“Gee, Dave, we’d really like to help out, but you need to put a couple of these guys in your government first. Would that be okay, Dave? Just think of it as affirmative action for terrorists.”

It might sound crazy, but that’s what Obama wants Maliki to do. So, what’s going on here? Why is Obama delivering ultimatums when he should be helping out? Could it be that Obama has a different agenda than Maliki’s and that the present situation actually works to his benefit?

It sure looks that way. Just take a look at what Friedman says further on in the same article. It helps to clarify the point. He says:

“Maybe Iran, and its wily Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander, Gen. Qassem Suleimani, aren’t so smart after all. It was Iran that armed its Iraqi Shiite allies with the specially shaped bombs that killed and wounded many American soldiers. Iran wanted us out. It was Iran that pressured Maliki into not signing an agreement with the U.S. to give our troops legal cover to stay in Iraq. Iran wanted to be the regional hegemon. Well, Suleimani: “This Bud’s for you.” Now your forces are overextended in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and ours are back home. Have a nice day.” (5 Principles for Iraq, Tom Friedman, New York Times)

Interesting, eh? Friedman basically admits that this whole fiasco is about Iran who turned out to be the biggest winner in the Iraq War sweepstakes. Naturally, that pisses off people in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh to no end, so they’ve cooked up this goofy plan to either remove Maliki altogether or significantly trim his wings. Isn’t that what’s going on? And that’s why Obama is holding a gun to Maliki’s head and telling him what hoops he has to jump through in order to get US help. Because he’s determined to weaken Iran’s hegemonic grip on Baghdad.

Friedman also notes the Status of Forces agreement which would have allowed U.S. troops to stay in Iraq. Al Maliki rejected the deal which enraged Washington setting the stage for this latest terrorist farce. Obama intends to reverse that decision by hook or crook. This is just the way Washington does business, by twisting arms and breaking legs. Everybody knows this.

To understand what’s going on today in Iraq, we need to know a little history. In 2002, The Bush administration commissioned the Rand Corporation “to develop a Shaping Strategy for pacifying Muslim populations where the US has commercial or strategic interests.” The plan they came up with–which was called “US Strategy in the Muslim World after 9-11”– recommended that the US, “Align its policy with Shiite groups who aspire to have more participation in government and greater freedoms of political and religious expression. If this alignment can be brought about, it could erect a barrier against radical Islamic movements and may create a foundation for a stable U.S. position in the Middle East.”

The Bushies decided to follow this wacky plan which proved to be a huge tactical error. By throwing their weight behind the Shia, they triggered a massive Sunni rebellion that initiated as many as 100 attacks per day on US soldiers. That, in turn, led to a savage US counterinsurgency that wound up killing tens of thousands of Sunnis while reducing much of the country to ruins. Petraeus’ vicious onslaught was concealed behind the misleading PR smokescreen of sectarian civil war. It was actually a genocidal war against the people who Obama now tacitly supports in Mosul and Tikrit.

So there’s been a huge change of policy, right? And the fact that the US has taken a hands-off approach to Isis suggests that the Obama administration has abandoned the Rand strategy altogether and is looking for ways to support Sunni-led groups in their effort to topple the Al Assad regime in Damascus, weaken Hezbollah, and curtail Iran’s power in the region. While the strategy is ruthless and despicable, at least it makes sense in the perverted logic of imperial expansion, which the Rand plan never did.

What is happening in Iraq today was anticipated in a 2007 Seymour Hersh article titled “The Redirection.” Author Tony Cartalucci gives a great summary of the piece in his own article. He says:

“The Redirection,” documents…US, Saudi, and Israeli intentions to create and deploy sectarian extremists region-wide to confront Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hersh would note that these “sectarian extremists” were either tied to Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda itself. The ISIS army moving toward Baghdad is the final manifestation of this conspiracy, a standing army operating with impunity, threatening to topple the Syrian government, purge pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, and even threatening Iran itself by building a bridge from Al Qaeda’s NATO safe havens in Turkey, across northern Iraq, and up to Iran’s borders directly…

It is a defacto re-invasion of Iraq by Western interests – but this time without Western forces directly participating – rather a proxy force the West is desperately attempting to disavow any knowledge of or any connection to.” (America’s Covert Re-Invasion of Iraq, Tony Cartalucci, Information Clearinghouse)

So, now we’re getting to the crux of the matter, right? Now we should be able to identify the policy that is guiding events. What we know for sure is that the US wants to break Iran’s grip on Iraq. But how do they plan to achieve that; that’s the question?

Well, they could use their old friends the Baathists who they’ve been in touch with since 2007. That might work. But then they’d have to add a few jihadis to the mix to make it look believable.

Okay. But does that mean that Obama is actively supporting Isis?

No, not necessarily. Isis is already connected to other Intel agencies and might not need direct support from the US. (Note: Many analysts have stated that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) receives generous donations from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of whom are staunch US allies. According to London’s Daily Express: “through allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the West (has) supported militant rebel groups which have since mutated into ISIS and other al‑Qaeda connected militias. ( Daily Telegraph, June 12, 2014)

What’s important as far as Obama is concerned, is that the strategic objectives of Isis and those of the United States coincide. Both entities seek greater political representation for Sunnis, both want to minimize Iranian influence in Iraq, and both support a soft partition plan that former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie H. Gelb, called “The only viable strategy to correct (Iraq ‘s) historical defect and move in stages toward a three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south.” This is why Obama hasn’t attacked the militia even though it has marched to within 50 miles of Baghdad. It’s because the US benefits from these developments.

Let’s summarize:

Does the US Government “support” or “not support” terrorism depending on the situation?
Yes.

Have foreign Intel agencies supplied terrorist organizations in Syria with weapons and logistical support?
Yes.

Has the CIA?
Yes.

Has the Obama administration signaled that they would like to get rid of al Maliki or greatly reduce his power?
Yes.

Is this because they think the present arrangement strengthens Iran’s regional influence?
Yes.

Will Isis invade Baghdad?
No. (This is just a guess, but I expect that something has been already worked out between the Obama team and the Baathist leaders. If Baghdad was really in danger, Obama would probably be acting with greater earnestness.)

Will Syria and Iraq be partitioned?
Yes.

Is Isis a CIA creation?
No. According to Ziad Fadel, “ISIS is the creation of the one man who played Alqaeda like a yo-yo. Bandar bin Sultan.”

Does Isis take orders from Washington or the CIA?
Probably not, although their actions appear to coincide with US strategic objectives. (which is the point!)

Is Obama’s reluctance to launch an attack on Isis indicate that he wants to diminish Iran’s power in Iraq, redraw the map of the Middle East, and create politically powerless regions run by warlords and tribal leaders?
Yes, yes and yes.

Posted in USA, Iran, IraqComments Off on The ISIS Fiasco: It’s Really an Attack on Iran

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