Archive | May 28th, 2016

The Worlds Most Expensive “Thing” – It’s British, a Financial Disaster which Will Affect Us All

Biohazard_symbol_(black_and_yellow)

One of the biggest scandals of our time is heading towards Britain.  At the heart of Conservative energy policy is a white elephant of epic proportions – the Hinkley Point Nuclear power station in Somerset. You may have read something about it – but probably not this.

This power station has been described as the most expensive single “thing” on earth although other power projects such as energy ports come even more expensive. Originally budgeted to cost around £14 billion three years ago, then £18 billion last year and revised up to nearly £22 billion this year. The EU Commission has estimated its final cost to be £24 billion.

Electricité de France or EDF the French state owned energy company is the biggest stakeholder. The project to build this power station is more expensive than the entire market capitalisation value of EDF and is effectively one huge gamble, and a gamble in more ways than one.

The Financial Times reported that the French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said that he “had every confidence that a final investment decision would be made “rapidly” after a consultation with the central works committee of EDF.” He also happened to point out that EDF would not guarantee delivery date of 2025″ – already estimated to be 8 years behind delivery date.

In the same article the French unions “have sought a delay of two to three years to the scheme, after EDF’s chief financial officer quit earlier this year, warning that the large investment could bring down the state-owned utility.”

Trade union representatives hold six of the 18 seats on EDF’s board and have openly stated “The trade unions are unlikely to give their blessing to the project in its current state”.  The EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz also admitted to MPs that he did not know when a final decision on the project would be made.

The British government for their part have made guarantees on the price of energy output once operational. That price is currently a guarantee worth 300 per cent of current wholesale energy prices for the following 35 years and by the time of delivery, this could easily have escalated to 400 or 500 per cent as alternative power sources continue to get more cost effective. Britain’s power needs have declined 13 per cent in the last ten years, a trend that looks set to continue all over Europe.

Angus MacNeil, chair of the energy committee, said it represented “spectacularly bad value for bill payers in the UK”.

In the meantime, Moody’s the rating agency, has downgraded EDF not because of the financial strain the project is putting on the company but because the technology being used in the project has never been proven to work at all – ever – anywhere. Not one power station, anywhere in the world uses this technology and two currently under construction in France and Finland have dramatically failed.

This is highlighted in a Guardian report of March this year

EDF has been building a European pressurised reactor (EPR) plant in Normandy, France. The latest EPR has been dreamed up by EDF in conjunction with its engineering partner Areva. It was meant to be a showcase to the world, allowing EDF and Areva to market and build these plants globally, not least at Hinkley in Somerset. But Normandy has turned into a nightmare project with endless delays, regulatory problems and cost overruns. The situation has been made worse by another scheme involving EPRs at Olkiluoto in Finland. This too has turned into a huge public relations embarrassment. It has been plagued with contract disputes, broken budgets and is 10 years behind schedule.”

However, it appears the situation has just got much worse than that as the nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva has in fact gone bankrupt and the French government is now forcing EDF to take it over adding even more financial woes to the ever more stricken energy firm.

The share price for EDF has collapsed 80 per cent over recent years presenting its own problems. This was not helped by RBC Capital Markets who said: “To proceed with Hinkley Point C at this juncture would be verging on insanity.

EDF share price falls over 80% in 8 years

EDF share price falls over 80% in 8 years

In a desperate attempt to help EDF’s financial position, it has in turn said it is willing to sell a bundle of €6bn worth of assets to raise cash. And who turned out to be the only buyer – the French state. This has caused energy companies from Austria, Luxembourg and Germany to threaten legal challenges as it is tantamount to unlawful state aid according to EU rules.

The Chinese have been beckoned as investor of last resort and you might wonder why they would want to be involved anyway in such a disaster. Well, for their investment, expected to be worth up to one third of the total project cost they want guarantees as well. However, they want payment even if the project fails, now or in the future, for whatever reason, including if no power is generated ever. And the British government on behalf of the taxpayer, has decided to give those guarantees.

You would think that this was all bad enough. Not so! It appears that nuclear power stations around the world have been falsifying safety certificates and documents for nuclear reactor components for some time now. In fact, of the 400 falsified certificates known to have been given to critical reactor components, 50 are still in operation, a risk that humanity should not be taking given the damage that Fukushima is currently doing to Japan and the Pacific Ocean.

If history and building nuclear reactors is anything to go by, a sane person might think to steer clear. America is the worlds largest producer of nuclear energy with 99 power stations in operation producing one quarter of energy needs. For 75 of those nuclear power reactors built, cost overruns averaged 207 percent. Over-commitment to nuclear power brought about the financial collapse of the Washington Public Power Supply System, a public agency which undertook to build five large nuclear power plants. A decade later, cost overruns and delays, along with a slowing of electricity demand growth, led to cancellation of two WPPSS plants and a construction halt on two others. Moreover, WPPSS defaulted on $2.25 billion of municipal bonds, which is still the largest municipal bond default in U.S. history. The court case that followed took nearly a decade to resolve.

To make matters worse,  of the 253 nuclear power reactors originally ordered in the United States from 1953 to 2008, 48 percent were cancelled, 11 percent were prematurely shut down, 14 percent experienced at least a one-year-or-more outage, and only 27 percent are operating without having a year-plus outage. Thus, only about one fourth of those ordered, or about half of those completed, are still operating and have proved relatively reliable. Many are now considered at high risk from acts of terrorism.

Again, history should teach us some lessons, especially of untried, untested and unknown technology in this particular industry. One of the greatest cover-ups of our time is the disaster at Chernobyl and Fukushima. The former has already killed one million and will continue killing many more so for some time yet, the latter has the potential to eclipse even Chernobyl as it is three times in scale according to the foremost recognised expert in this area, Dr Helen Caldecott.

Once again, history helps to build a graphic picture of this scandal laden industry. From Global Research –

“Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing (For the Fukushima plant) — the Mark 1 — was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident. Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power, and today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday’s (March 2011) earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s.”

The Nuclear Corruption report from Nautilus Institute tells us something else.

Fukushima will teach many lessons, but one that does not seem to have sunk in yet is the global link between nuclear power and corruption. There is plenty of evidence that the corruption, collusion and nepotism that characterized the Japanese “nuclear village” contributed to what former Japanese PM Kan Naoto called the “myth of nuclear safety” in his country. Yet, this is far from being something peculiar to Japan with its squirrelly politics and industry-regulator-politics with feet happily inter-twined under the kotatsu.”

Aside of the enormous costs of construction is decommissioning, which for this plant is unknown but certainly running into the £billions. This is a 100 per cent liability cost to the British taxpayer. In addition, one of the major costs is the safe disposal of highly radioactive waste, which will never be safe and most of which is held in temporary storage at the Sellafield reprocessing facility in Cumbria. Home tothe most hazardous industrial building in western Europeaccording to George Beveridge, Sellafield’s deputy managing director. It houses an ageing cooling pond whose contents is not entirely known, even to the managers at the site, being a collection of spent fuel rods and other reactor parts from Britain’s earliest experiments into nuclear power. The contents of this site is not known and is too radioactive to be properly investigated as the technology does exist to do so. Cleanup of this site would also run into £billions, again, a number that is actually unknown.

The British government is in effect guaranteeing enormous profits for foreign state organisations and underwriting huge losses on unproven dangerous technology that has so far failed, has a history of being massively over-budget, way behind target delivery by at least a decade and presents the country with a strategic threat both in terms of energy security and the wellbeing of its people.

Knowing all of the above, there is no logic or sense for authorising the building of the world’s most expensive “thing” – unless of course there’s something in it for the decision makers.

 

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Silencing the United States as It Prepares for War

NOVANEWS
obama

Returning to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when he was shot and I saw his assassin, preparing to kill him. It was a baptism in the American way, along with the salivating violence of the Chicago police at the Democratic Party’s rigged convention.  The great counter revolution had begun.

The first to be assassinated that year, Martin Luther King, had dared link the suffering of African-Americans and the people of Vietnam. When Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, she spoke perhaps unconsciously for millions of America’s victims in faraway places.

“We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom. Now don’t you forget it.”  So said a National Parks Service guide as I filmed last week at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. He was addressing a school party of young teenagers in bright orange T-shirts. As if by rote, he inverted the truth about Vietnam into an unchallenged lie.

The millions of Vietnamese who died and were maimed and poisoned and dispossessed by the American invasion have no historical place in young minds, not to mention the estimated 60,000 veterans who took their own lives. A friend of mine, a marine who became a paraplegic in Vietnam, was often asked, “Which side did you fight on?”

A few years ago, I attended a popular exhibition called “The Price of Freedom” at the venerable Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The lines of ordinary people, mostly children shuffling through a Santa’s grotto of revisionism, were dispensed a variety of lies: the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved “a million lives”; Iraq was “liberated [by] air strikes of unprecedented precision”. The theme was unerringly heroic: only Americans pay the price of freedom.

The 2016 election campaign is remarkable not only for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders but also for the resilience of an enduring silence about a murderous self-bestowed divinity. A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington’s boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal – Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

The breathtaking record of perfidy is so mutated in the public mind, wrote the late Harold Pinter, that it “never happened …Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. It didn’t matter … “. Pinter expressed a mock admiration for what he called “a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Take Obama. As he prepares to leave office, the fawning has begun all over again. He is “cool”. One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave full reign to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor. He prosecuted more whistleblowers – truth-tellers – than any president. He pronounced Chelsea Manning guilty before she was tried. Today, Obama runs an unprecedented worldwide campaign of terrorism and murder by drone.

In 2009, Obama promised to help “rid the world of nuclear weapons” and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama. He is “modernising” America’s doomsday arsenal, including a new “mini” nuclear weapon, whose size and “smart” technology, says a leading general, ensure its use is “no longer unthinkable”.

James Bradley, the best-selling author ofFlags of Our Fathers and son of one of the US marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, said, “[One] great myth we’re seeing play out is that of Obama as some kind of peaceful guy who’s trying to get rid of nuclear weapons. He’s the biggest nuclear warrior there is. He’s committed us to a ruinous course of spending a trillion dollars on more nuclear weapons. Somehow, people live in this fantasy that because he gives vague news conferences and speeches and feel-good photo-ops that somehow that’s attached to actual policy. It isn’t.”

On Obama’s watch, a second cold war is under way. The Russian president is a pantomime villain; the Chinese are not yet back to their sinister pig-tailed caricature – when all Chinese were banned from the United States – but the media warriors are working on it.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders has mentioned any of this. There is no risk and no danger for the United States and all of us. For them, the greatest military build-up on the borders of Russia since World War Two has not happened. On May 11, Romania went “live” with a Nato “missile defence” base that aims its first-strike American missiles at the heart of Russia, the world’s second nuclear power.

In Asia, the Pentagon is sending ships, planes and special forces to the Philippines to threaten China. The US already encircles China with hundreds of military bases that curve in an arc up from Australia, to Asia and across to Afghanistan. Obama calls this a “pivot”.

As a direct consequence, China reportedly has changed its nuclear weapons policy from no-first-use to high alert and put to sea submarines with nuclear weapons. The escalator is quickening.

It was Hillary Clinton who, as Secretary of State in 2010, elevated the competing territorial claims for rocks and reef in the South China Sea to an international issue; CNN and BBC hysteria followed; China was building airstrips on the disputed islands. In its mammoth war game in 2015, Operation Talisman Sabre, the US practiced “choking” the Straits of Malacca through which pass most of China’s oil and trade. This was not news.

Clinton declared that America had a “national interest” in these Asian waters. The Philippines and Vietnam were encouraged and bribed to pursue their claims and old enmities against China. In America, people are being primed to see any Chinese defensive position as offensive, and so the ground is laid for rapid escalation. A similar strategy of provocation and propaganda is applied to Russia.

Clinton, the “women’s candidate”, leaves a trail of bloody coups: in Honduras, in Libya (plus the murder of the Libyan president) and Ukraine. The latter is now a CIA theme park swarming with Nazis and the frontline of a beckoning war with Russia. It was through Ukraine – literally, borderland — that Hitler’s Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, which lost 27 million people. This epic catastrophe remains a presence in Russia. Clinton’s presidential campaign has received money from all but one of the world’s ten biggest arms companies. No other candidate comes close.

Sanders, the hope of many young Americans, is not very different from Clinton in his proprietorial view of the world beyond the United States. He backed Bill Clinton’s illegal bombing of Serbia. He supports Obama’s terrorism by drone, the provocation of Russia and the return of special forces (death squads) to Iraq. He has nothing to say on the drumbeat of threats to China and the accelerating risk of nuclear war. He agrees that Edward Snowden should stand trial and he calls Hugo Chavez – like him, a social democrat – “a dead communist dictator”. He promises to support Clinton if she is nominated.

The election of Trump or Clinton is the old illusion of choice that is no choice: two sides of the same coin. In scapegoating minorities and promising to “make America great again”, Trump is a far right-wing domestic populist; yet the danger of Clinton may be more lethal for the world.

“Only Donald Trump has said anything meaningful and critical of US foreign policy,” wrote Stephen Cohen, emeritus professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, one of the few Russia experts in the United States to speak out about the risk of war.

In a radio broadcast, Cohen referred to critical questions Trump alone had raised. Among them: why is the United States “everywhere on the globe”? What is NATO’s true mission? Why does the US always pursue regime change in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine? Why does Washington treat Russia and Vladimir Putin as an enemy?

The hysteria in the liberal media over Trump serves an illusion of “free and open debate” and “democracy at work”. His views on immigrants and Muslims are grotesque, yet the deporter-in-chief  of vulnerable people from America is not Trump but Obama, whose betrayal of people of colour is his legacy: such as the warehousing of a mostly black prison population, now more numerous than Stalin’s gulag.

This presidential campaign may not be about populism but American liberalism, an ideology that sees itself as modern and therefore superior and the one true way. Those on its right wing bear a likeness to 19th century Christian imperialists, with a God-given duty to convert or co-opt or conquer.

In Britain, this is Blairism. The Christian war criminal Tony Blair got away with his secret preparation for the invasion of Iraq largely because the liberal political class and media fell for his “cool Britannia”. In the Guardian, the applause was deafening; he was called “mystical”. A distraction known as identity politics, imported from the United States, rested easily in his care.

History was declared over, class was abolished and gender promoted as feminism; lots of women became New Labour MPs. They voted on the first day of Parliament to cut the benefits of single parents, mostly women, as instructed. A majority voted for an invasion that produced 700,000 Iraqi widows.

The equivalent in the US are the politically correct warmongers on the New York Times,the Washington Post and network TV who dominate political debate. I watched a furious debate on CNN about Trump’s infidelities. It was clear, they said, a man like that could not be trusted in the White House. No issues were raised. Nothing on the 80 per cent of Americans whose income has collapsed to 1970s levels.  Nothing on the drift to war. The received wisdom seems to be “hold your nose” and vote for Clinton: anyone but Trump. That way, you stop the monster and preserve a system gagging for another war.

The first to be assassinated that year, Martin Luther King, had dared link the suffering of African-Americans and the people of Vietnam. When Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, she spoke perhaps unconsciously for millions of America’s victims in faraway places.

“We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom. Now don’t you forget it.”  So said a National Parks Service guide as I filmed last week at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. He was addressing a school party of young teenagers in bright orange T-shirts. As if by rote, he inverted the truth about Vietnam into an unchallenged lie.

The millions of Vietnamese who died and were maimed and poisoned and dispossessed by the American invasion have no historical place in young minds, not to mention the estimated 60,000 veterans who took their own lives. A friend of mine, a marine who became a paraplegic in Vietnam, was often asked, “Which side did you fight on?”

A few years ago, I attended a popular exhibition called “The Price of Freedom” at the venerable Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The lines of ordinary people, mostly children shuffling through a Santa’s grotto of revisionism, were dispensed a variety of lies: the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved “a million lives”; Iraq was “liberated [by] air strikes of unprecedented precision”. The theme was unerringly heroic: only Americans pay the price of freedom.

The 2016 election campaign is remarkable not only for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders but also for the resilience of an enduring silence about a murderous self-bestowed divinity. A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington’s boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal – Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

The breathtaking record of perfidy is so mutated in the public mind, wrote the late Harold Pinter, that it “never happened …Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. It didn’t matter … “. Pinter expressed a mock admiration for what he called “a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Take Obama. As he prepares to leave office, the fawning has begun all over again. He is “cool”. One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave full reign to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor. He prosecuted more whistleblowers – truth-tellers – than any president. He pronounced Chelsea Manning guilty before she was tried. Today, Obama runs an unprecedented worldwide campaign of terrorism and murder by drone.

In 2009, Obama promised to help “rid the world of nuclear weapons” and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama. He is “modernising” America’s doomsday arsenal, including a new “mini” nuclear weapon, whose size and “smart” technology, says a leading general, ensure its use is “no longer unthinkable”.

James Bradley, the best-selling author ofFlags of Our Fathers and son of one of the US marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, said, “[One] great myth we’re seeing play out is that of Obama as some kind of peaceful guy who’s trying to get rid of nuclear weapons. He’s the biggest nuclear warrior there is. He’s committed us to a ruinous course of spending a trillion dollars on more nuclear weapons. Somehow, people live in this fantasy that because he gives vague news conferences and speeches and feel-good photo-ops that somehow that’s attached to actual policy. It isn’t.”

On Obama’s watch, a second cold war is under way. The Russian president is a pantomime villain; the Chinese are not yet back to their sinister pig-tailed caricature – when all Chinese were banned from the United States – but the media warriors are working on it.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders has mentioned any of this. There is no risk and no danger for the United States and all of us. For them, the greatest military build-up on the borders of Russia since World War Two has not happened. On May 11, Romania went “live” with a Nato “missile defence” base that aims its first-strike American missiles at the heart of Russia, the world’s second nuclear power.

In Asia, the Pentagon is sending ships, planes and special forces to the Philippines to threaten China. The US already encircles China with hundreds of military bases that curve in an arc up from Australia, to Asia and across to Afghanistan. Obama calls this a “pivot”.

As a direct consequence, China reportedly has changed its nuclear weapons policy from no-first-use to high alert and put to sea submarines with nuclear weapons. The escalator is quickening.

It was Hillary Clinton who, as Secretary of State in 2010, elevated the competing territorial claims for rocks and reef in the South China Sea to an international issue; CNN and BBC hysteria followed; China was building airstrips on the disputed islands. In its mammoth war game in 2015, Operation Talisman Sabre, the US practiced “choking” the Straits of Malacca through which pass most of China’s oil and trade. This was not news.

Clinton declared that America had a “national interest” in these Asian waters. The Philippines and Vietnam were encouraged and bribed to pursue their claims and old enmities against China. In America, people are being primed to see any Chinese defensive position as offensive, and so the ground is laid for rapid escalation. A similar strategy of provocation and propaganda is applied to Russia.

Clinton, the “women’s candidate”, leaves a trail of bloody coups: in Honduras, in Libya (plus the murder of the Libyan president) and Ukraine. The latter is now a CIA theme park swarming with Nazis and the frontline of a beckoning war with Russia. It was through Ukraine – literally, borderland — that Hitler’s Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, which lost 27 million people. This epic catastrophe remains a presence in Russia. Clinton’s presidential campaign has received money from all but one of the world’s ten biggest arms companies. No other candidate comes close.

Sanders, the hope of many young Americans, is not very different from Clinton in his proprietorial view of the world beyond the United States. He backed Bill Clinton’s illegal bombing of Serbia. He supports Obama’s terrorism by drone, the provocation of Russia and the return of special forces (death squads) to Iraq. He has nothing to say on the drumbeat of threats to China and the accelerating risk of nuclear war. He agrees that Edward Snowden should stand trial and he calls Hugo Chavez – like him, a social democrat – “a dead communist dictator”. He promises to support Clinton if she is nominated.

The election of Trump or Clinton is the old illusion of choice that is no choice: two sides of the same coin. In scapegoating minorities and promising to “make America great again”, Trump is a far right-wing domestic populist; yet the danger of Clinton may be more lethal for the world.

“Only Donald Trump has said anything meaningful and critical of US foreign policy,” wrote Stephen Cohen, emeritus professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, one of the few Russia experts in the United States to speak out about the risk of war.

In a radio broadcast, Cohen referred to critical questions Trump alone had raised. Among them: why is the United States “everywhere on the globe”? What is NATO’s true mission? Why does the US always pursue regime change in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine? Why does Washington treat Russia and Vladimir Putin as an enemy?

The hysteria in the liberal media over Trump serves an illusion of “free and open debate” and “democracy at work”. His views on immigrants and Muslims are grotesque, yet the deporter-in-chief  of vulnerable people from America is not Trump but Obama, whose betrayal of people of colour is his legacy: such as the warehousing of a mostly black prison population, now more numerous than Stalin’s gulag.

This presidential campaign may not be about populism but American liberalism, an ideology that sees itself as modern and therefore superior and the one true way. Those on its right wing bear a likeness to 19th century Christian imperialists, with a God-given duty to convert or co-opt or conquer.

In Britain, this is Blairism. The Christian war criminal Tony Blair got away with his secret preparation for the invasion of Iraq largely because the liberal political class and media fell for his “cool Britannia”. In the Guardian, the applause was deafening; he was called “mystical”. A distraction known as identity politics, imported from the United States, rested easily in his care.

History was declared over, class was abolished and gender promoted as feminism; lots of women became New Labour MPs. They voted on the first day of Parliament to cut the benefits of single parents, mostly women, as instructed. A majority voted for an invasion that produced 700,000 Iraqi widows.

The equivalent in the US are the politically correct warmongers on the New York Times, the Washington Post and network TV who dominate political debate. I watched a furious debate on CNN about Trump’s infidelities. It was clear, they said, a man like that could not be trusted in the White House. No issues were raised. Nothing on the 80 per cent of Americans whose income has collapsed to 1970s levels.  Nothing on the drift to war. The received wisdom seems to be “hold your nose” and vote for Clinton: anyone but Trump. That way, you stop the monster and preserve a system gagging for another war.

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Venezuela: Institutional Stalemate, Deep Economic Crisis. Military Intervention?

venezuela

The assault against the Bolivarian revolution has intensified in the recent days and weeks. Editorials and front pages in US and Spanish newspapers are screaming about hunger in Venezuela and demanding the removal of the “dictatorial regime”. Ongoing scarcity problems have led to instances of looting. The right-wing opposition is attempting to trigger a presidential recall referendum, but is also threatening violent action and appealing to foreign powers, including in some case for military intervention. What is really happening in Venezuela and how can these threats be faced?

On Friday May 13th, Venezuelan president Maduro extended the “Economic Emergency Decree” which had given him special powers in January, and further decreed a 60-day State of Emergency which includes sweeping powers to deal with foreign military threats and to deal with problems of food production and distribution.

As was to be expected, the world’s capitalist media joined in a chorus of denunciation, screaming about a “dictatorship”, while one of the main right-wing opposition leaders, Capriles Radonski made a public appeal to disobey the decree. The threats, however, are very real. It is worth giving a few examples. A month ago,an editorial in the Washington Post openly called for “political intervention” by Venezuela’s neighbours. At the weekend, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, at a “Concordia Summit” in Miami, made an open call for the Venezuelan Armed Forces to carry out a coup or, failing that, for foreign military intervention against “the tyranny”.

The Venezuelan right-wing opposition has made repeated appeals for the Organisation of American States to use its “Democratic Charter” to intervene against president Maduro. They feel emboldened by the successful removal of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and want to go down the same road as soon as possible, by any means necessary, legal or illegal. Influential Venezuelan right-wing journalist and blogger Francisco Toro (editor of the Caracas Chronicles) has just written an article openly discussing the pros and cons of a coup, which he says would be within the constitution and “The Opposite of a Crime”.

Today, the Venezuelan government reported violation of the country’s airspace by US military aircraft.

In an attempt to capitalise on the severe economic problems the country is facing, the reactionary opposition has been busy trying to create a situation of chaos and violence which would justify a coup or foreign intervention to expedite the removal of president Nicolás Maduro. There have been incidents of violence in Zulia and Tachira. There are constant, mostly false, rumours of looting and rioting.

A very serious crisis

I have been involved in the defence of the Bolivarian revolution for more than 13 years now, visited the country often and written about it on a regular basis. None of what I have just described is really new. Since the very beginning, when Chavez was elected in 1998, and particularly since the enabling laws in December 2001, the Venezuelan oligarchy and imperialism have been engaged in a constant campaign of harassment, violence, destabilisation, coups, lies and slanders, diplomatic pressure, economic sabotage, you name it, they have done it.

This time, however, something is different. On all the previous occasions, the revolutionary will of the Bolivarian masses of workers, peasants and the poor, has defeated the counter-revolutionary attempts to put an end to the revolution. This was the case even against the coup in April 2002 and then the lockout and sabotage of the oil industry in December of the same year, before the revolution was able to grant any real improvements in living standards. Those came mainly after the government was able to get full control of the state-owned oil company in 2003.

For ten years, the revolution was able to grant widespread reforms and massively improve the living standards of the masses. This was accompanied by a process of political radicalisation in which the late president Chávez and the revolutionary masses pushed each other forward. Socialism was declared as the aim of the Bolivarian revolution, there were wide ranging experiences of workers’ control, factories were occupied and expropriated, companies were re-nationalised. Millions became active at all levels in an attempt to take their future into their own hands. The motor force of the revolution and its main source of strength which allowed it to thwart all the attempts of the oligarchy and imperialism were the revolutionary masses, active, politically aware and engaged at all levels.

Of course, this period was helped by high oil prices (which reached a peak of over $140 a barrel in 2008). The government could use a massive amount of money from oil revenues to fund social programs which benefited millions (in education, healthcare, food, housing, pensions, etc). The question of taking over the means of production was not immediately posed.

Capitalism cannot be regulated

Measures were taken which limited the normal functioning of the free market capitalist economy in order to defend the revolution against the sabotage of the ruling class. These included foreign exchange controls (to prevent the flight of capital) and price controls on basic food products (to defend the purchasing power of the poor).

Soon, the capitalists found a way around this. Foreign exchange controls became a swindle and resulted in a massive transfer of hard currency from oil revenues directly into the pockets of unscrupulous capitalists. How did that happen? The government instituted a subsidised foreign exchange rate which was to be used to import basic products (food and medical supplies) as well as parts for industry.

Instead, private capitalists applied for preferential dollars which they then syphoned into the black market (which developed as an inevitable side effect of currency controls) or to offshore bank accounts. Thus we witnessed the incredible situation where imports in volume decreased, while imports in value (in dollars) massively increased. Marxist economist Manuel Sutherland has worked out the figures for imports of pharmaceutical products:

The red column represents pharmaceutical imports in millions of Kg, the blue column represents their value in millions of US$. Source: http://www.rebelion.org

In 2003, Venezuela was importing pharmaceutical products at 1.96 US$ per Kg. By 2014 the price had reached 86.80 US$ per Kg. Imports had collapsed by 87% in volume, but increased nearly 6-fold in price! Similar figures can be produced for almost every sector of the economy in which private capitalists were receiving subsidised dollars to import goods.

A similar situation developed with price controls. The private sector, which still has almost monopoly control of food processing and distribution of many basic items, refused to produce anything covered by price controls. Thus, in order to bypass regulated prices for rice, for instance, they started producing flavoured or coloured varieties, which were not regulated.

This blocking of production on the part of the private capitalists forced the whole weight of producing and distributing basic food products onto the state. The state imported food from the world market, paid at world market prices with oil dollars, then sold it at heavily subsidised prices in state-run supermarket chains (PDVAL, MERCAL, Bicentenario).

For a period, while oil prices were high, this situation worked, more or less. Once oil prices went into freefall and the economy entered into a deep recession, the whole edifice came down like a house of cards. In 2014 Venezuelan oil was still 88 US$ a barrel. In 2015 it halved to $44. In January 2016 it had reached its lowest level for over 10 years, at $24.

Venezuelan money supply. Credit: www.tradingeconomics.com

In order to continue to pay for the social programs (including subsidised food products), the state started to print massive amounts of money which was not backed up by anything. Between 1999 and 2015, the M2 measure of money supply increased by over 15,000%!

Inevitably, the combination of massive flight of capital, the associated development of a huge dollar black market, the massive expansion of the money supply at a time of economic recession (2014 -3.9; 2015 -5.7%) inevitably caused hyperinflation. In 2014 the annual inflation rate reached a record 68%, but in 2015 it was even higher at 180% according to the Venezuelan Central Bank. It has to be pointed out that inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages was even higher than the average.

The black market exchange rate for the dollar jumped from 187 Bolivars per $ in January 2015 to over 1,000 Bolivars per dollar now (having reached a peak of 1,200 in February this year). This is the exchange rate at which most prices of products are now calculated.

Another effect of this massive economic dislocation is the rapid depletion of foreign reserves:

Foreign exchange reserves. Credit: www.tradingeconomics.com

From US$24bn at the beginning of 2015, they have collapsed down to US$12.7bn now, according to the official figures of the Venezuelan Central Bank.

This dire situation has led to a sharp decrease in government imports of food and other basic products. Overall imports went down by 18.7% in 2015. This has created permanent scarcity of basic products in the state-owned supermarket chains selling them at regulated prices. In turn this has created a huge black market for these products. The root cause of the black market is scarcity, which is then aggravated by the existence of the black market itself. The massive difference created between the regulated prices (ever more scarce) and the black market, then acts as a huge magnet for products towards the latter. This is a comparison of the prices of some basic products as sold by bachaqueros (black marketeers) in the working class and poor neighborhood of Petare in Caracas in March:

Credit: teleSUR 

The government has decreed increases in the minimum wage, several times, over the last two years, from around 10,000 Bs in November 2015 to 15,000 now (to which we have to add 18,000 Bs of the cesta ticket (food supplement). Still, if you have to purchase most of your weekly basket of products in the black market, this is not enough. Since state imports of food have sharply gone down, scarcity of regulated products has increased and people are forced to get a bigger share of their shopping basket on the free and black market.

Scarcity has led to massive corruption at all levels, diverting products from the official state-run supply chain onto the black market. From the family that queues for hours and then re-sells some of what they’ve bought, to the state supermarket manager who diverts whole lorries full of products (in connivance with the national guard officers guarding the establishment), to criminal gangs who hire people to queue for hours and buy whatever subsidised products are available (threatening and paying off supermarket workers, national guards, supermarket managers, etc), to the nationwide director of the Bicentenario state supermarket chain who diverts ship-loads of products.

To this we have to add a thousand and one different ways in which the private sector breaks the price regulation regime. Maize flour is permanently scarce, butareperas are always well stocked. Chickens are almost impossible to purchase at regulated prices, but roast chicken joints never lack them. Wheat flour can’t be bought at the official price, and bakeries use lack of flour as an argument not to produce the normal loaf of bread (the price of which is regulated), but then they are mysteriously able to produce any other variety of bread, cakes and biscuits, which we have to assume are made with flour. What’s behind this mystery? The fact that private wholesale producers do supply these establishments, but of course not at regulated prices.

Any attempt to clamp down on this situation by using repressive measures against black marketeers, though necessary, is bound to fail. The root cause is not thebachaqueros big or small, but the actual inability of the government to fund the supply of the necessary amount of products to cover the whole demand combined with the unwillingness of the private sector to produce and sell products at the regulated prices fixed by the government.

One of the main reasons for this unsustainable economic dislocation is therefore, the “natural” rebellion of the capitalist producers against any attempt to regulate the normal workings of the “free market”. This is the real meaning of the “economic war” that the Bolivarian government has denounced for many years. Yes, there is, undoubtedly, an element of deliberate economic sabotage aimed at hitting the working masses in order to undermine their support for the revolution. But at the same time it is easy to understand that from the point of view of the capitalists, if they can get a profit margin of 100%, 1000% or even higher in the black market, they will not sell, nor produce regulated products on which they can make only a very modest gain or sometimes a loss.

What has failed in Venezuela is not “socialism” as the capitalist media likes to highlight in their propaganda campaign. It is precisely the opposite. What has clearly failed is the attempt to introduce regulations in order to make capitalism work, even if only partially, in the interest of working people. The conclusion is clear: capitalism cannot be regulated. The attempt has led to economic dislocation on a massive scale.

The government’s response: appeals to the private sector

The majority of Venezuelans are aware, to one degree or another, of the despicable role played by private companies, like Grupo Polar, in creating this situation of hoarding, racketeering, black market, speculation, etc. In my last visit to Venezuela I witnessed the following argument at a supermarket queue: “- Mujer A: “aquí tienen su patria bonita” – Mujer B: “a ver si creen que es el gobierno que produce la Harina PAN”” [Woman A, scornfully: “here’s your beautiful fatherland” (meaning: this is what chavismo has given you, queues) Woman B, sharply: “do you think it is the government that produces Harina PAN” (in fact it is Grupo Polar which has a monopoly control over the production of maize flour).] The problem is not that people do not realise that the private sector is sabotaging the economy. The problem is that they cannot see the government as being able or willing to take the necessary measures to solve this situation.

To the problems of food scarcity and crime we have to add the severe drought affecting Venezuela as a by-product of El Niño which has meant problems in energy generation at the El Guiri hydroelectric dam. This has led to regular power outages in recent months. In April, the government decreed a 2-day working week in public institutions as a measure to reduce electricity consumption.

Even on this question we have to factor in a deliberate campaign of sabotage of the country’s power grid. There have been, for a number of years now, regular bomb attacks against power generating plants, power stations and substations in different parts of the country. They usually coincide with election campaigns and moments of heightened political tension and they have the aim of provoking power outages in order to spread a feeling of collapse, chaos, instability…

What has been the government’s response to these extreme problems? Since at least 2014 there was an open recognition of the failure of the previous model of regulation of capitalism and the use of oil revenues to fund social programs. You could say that the turning point was the exit of the former finance minister Giordani from the government in July 2014. Since then, the dominant line in the economic policy of the government has been one of making even more concessions to the capitalists in the hope of winning back their trust so that they can collaborate with the government in order to turn the situation around. This has been expressed in a whole series of concrete measures which have been taken: the partial liberalisation of foreign exchange, partial lifting of the subsidy on the price of fuel, the establishment of Special Economic Zones in order to attract foreign direct investment, as well as the repatriation of capital held abroad by Venezuelan capitalists, the opening up of the Arco Minero (111,000 Sq Km of land) for mining exploitation, etc.

None of this has worked. The government holds regular talks with businessmen where concessions to their interests are agreed and appeals are made for them to invest. At the following round of talks, businesses demand even more concessions, but the economy remains in a state of deep crisis.

To be fair, the government’s concessions to the private sector are from time to time accompanied by threats of expropriation. These threats are never followed by actions. Thus on Friday, May 13, when president Maduro extended the Economic Emergency and decreed emergency powers for 60 days, he specifically warned that “any factory that a capitalist paralyses, we will take it over and hand it to the communal power”. Less than 48 hours later, in an interview with Reuters, the vice-president in charge of the whole economic area of the government, Perez Abad, reassured international capital by “ruling out the take over of plants which are paralysed for lack of raw materials”. In the same interview he stressed Venezuela’s intention to continue to pay its foreign debt obligations, religiously, in full and on time. He added that this would mean a further reduction in imports for 2016.

In fact, although Maduro’s warning was highlighted by the international media, in Venezuela people did not take much notice. He has made the same threat of expropriation, specifically aimed at Grupo Polar, on so many times, that it is like the man who cried wolf. Whenever workers in the recent period have taken over factories which had been paralyzed by the bosses, they have been met with either an endless string of bureaucratic obstacles or direct repression on the part of the Bolivarian police. In most of the cases, even though laws introduced by Chavez are on the side of the workers and allow for expropriations and workers’ control, in reality the majority of labour inspectors are in the pockets of the bosses. Instead of expediting expropriation, they keep giving the owners extensions in order to pay wages and restart production, which results in the demoralisation of the workers in struggle.

Perez Abad is a chief representative of this policy of concessions to the capitalist class. He himself is a businessman and former president of one of the country’s employers’ federations. He became minister in charge of economic affairs of the government in February when he replaced Luis Salas, who was seen by the capitalists as a “radical”. Just before Maduro decreed an extension of economic emergency powers, Perez Abad had already announced a further increase in the prices of regulated products, after discussions with the capitalist affected.

More recently, in an attempt to deal with the question of scarcity, the government attempted to promote the formation of Local Provisioning and Production Committees. The idea is that the organised communities themselves will deal directly with the distribution of subsidised food products to the families. This is a step in the right direction, which could strengthen the role of rank and file organisations. However, the measure has only had a partial impact, so far. Also, it only deals with the question of final distribution, but not with the more important question of production and processing, which is where the crux of the problem lies.

Impact on consciousness

I said before that something is different this time. What has changed from previous attempts of the counter-revolution to defeat the Bolivarian movement? The constant stress and strain of having to queue for hours to get basic products, the uncertainty created by scarcity and hyperinflation, the fact that this situation has been going on for over a year now and instead of getting better is getting worse, the realisation that while the masses are suffering there are those who call themselves “Bolivarian” in positions of power who are benefitting massively from corruption, the weariness brought on by having to battle against the bureaucracy within your own movement, etc., all of this has had an impact on the consciousness of an important layer of the masses who previously supported the revolution. This is the key reason for the defeat in the December 6 National Assembly elections which were won by the right-wing opposition for the first time in 18 years. At that time, the Bolivarian revolution lost about 2 million votes, allowing the opposition to win an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly.

That defeat created a situation of institutional deadlock. The right-wing dominated National Assembly has attempted to pass some reactionary laws (a scandalous Amnesty Law, the privatisation of housing), but these have been blocked either by the president or by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, initiatives taken by the President are ruled out of order by the Assembly.

Currently, the opposition is attempting to trigger a presidential recall referendum (a democratic guarantee introduced by the Bolivarian revolution under Hugo Chávez). They need to get a certain number of signatures to trigger the process, and then, in an Electoral Council-supervised process, get 20% of the electoral census to sign for it (3.9 million). Then a referendum would be called in which the opposition would have to get more votes than Maduro received when he was elected in order to force his removal. If he is removed within this year, 2016, then the right-wing president of the National Assembly takes over until new presidential elections are held. But Maduro will attempt by all means to delay any recall referendum until 2017, because if he is removed at that time, the vice-president takes over for the remainder of his term (until 2019). This also shows how the leadership of the Bolivarian movement seems to view the struggle from a purely legal-institutional point of view.

The oligarchy also feel emboldened by the electoral defeats in Argentina, Bolivia and the removal of Dilma in Brazil. Their side “is winning” and now they want to “overthrow the regime” in Venezuela. They cannot wait to go through the whole process of a recall referendum, and even less until the end of Maduro’s term.

The situation has reached its limits from the point of view of the patience of the masses. A week ago a comrade from Catia, a revolutionary stronghold in Caracas, described the situation thus: “Up until a few weeks ago you had to queue for 4, 6, 8 hours, but you could do your shopping for two or three weeks. Now there’s nothing. On Monday, me and my mum queued and could only get rice and pasta. The rest you have to get it in the black market at bachaquero prices. Wages are not enough to get by. The national guard is now outside the local supermarket with assault rifles manning the queues and they pushed it back a few hundred meters to dissuade people from looting.” There have already been small scale incidents of looting in Aragua and Guarenas.

In these conditions, there is the danger that any appeals made to the masses to mobilise against the threat of counter-revolution could fall on deaf ears. The masses have shown over and over again their willingness to struggle and push the revolution forward. But they are not at all convinced that their leaders know where to go, nor how to get there.

A military coup?

The combination of an institutional stalemate, a deep economic crisis, and a situation of violence in the streets which the opposition wishes to create, could also push a section of the army to intervene “in order to restore law and order”. Over the last few weeks there have been constant rumours of a coup in the making. On Tuesday, May 17, reactionary opposition leader Capriles, called on the army to rebel against the president “in order to uphold the constitution”. Capriles, of course, is no stranger to coups, having played a role in the short-lived reactionary coup of April 2002. The top command of the army has repeatedly stated publicly its loyalty to Bolivarianism. But everything has its limits.

This is a very dangerous juncture for the Bolivarian revolution. A military intervention, whatever form it would take, would be the prelude for a “transition” towards the oligarchy retaking control of state power. A section of the Bolivarian leaders, some of the corrupt, bureaucratic and reformist elements at the top, are already preparing to jump ship and would be quite ready to participate in some sort of transitional government of “national unity”, as long as they are guaranteed some sort of immunity.

At the same time as a layer of the masses is tired and worn out, there is also a layer of the advanced activists who are very angry and have been radicalised as a result of the election defeat in December. There was a movement from the bottom demanding the radicalisation of the revolution.

If the Bolivarian leadership were to take firm and decisive action to address the problem of scarcity, this would rekindle a wave of revolutionary enthusiasm. Such measures would be: a monopoly of foreign trade; expropriation of the food production and distribution chain under the democratic control of the workers, communities and small peasant producers; a default on the foreign debt; expropriation of the banks and big businesses; a national democratic plan of production to satisfy the needs of the majority. This program, if implemented, would immediately provoke an even bigger clash with the Venezuelan oligarchy and its imperialist masters, but at least it would have the benefit of solidifying and extending support for it amongst the masses which would see their problems finally addressed in a serious way.

Let us be under no illusion. If the right wing were to achieve its aims of regaining full control of state power (by whatever means), Venezuela would not go back to “normal” capitalist democracy. No. The program of the ruling class in a country riddled by a massive economic and social crisis would be one of war on the working people. They would go on the offensive against all the social gains of the revolution. But they would also be faced with fierce resistance on the part of the masses and therefore they would attempt to crush the movement by force. Under those conditions a new Caracazo uprising would be on the cards.

Toby Valderrama and Antonio Aponte put it very sharply in a recent article:

“The government must understand that economic war, foreign invasion, attacks by foreign spokespersons, be they [OAS secretary general] Almagro, be they [former Colombian president] Uribe, they all have the same name: capitalism! And they can only be fought with one weapon: socialism. It is not possible to fight them with capitalism, because that does not convince anyone and you cannot achieve victory. These are times of decisiveness, either you are revolutionary or you are capitalist, the ability of social-democracy of making fiery speeches and then acting as a firefighter to put them down is coming to an end.”

This is correct. As we have explained, the attempt to regulate capitalism has failed. There are only two ways out: either to go back to “normal” capitalism (that is, to make the workers pay the price for the crisis), or to go forward to socialism (that is to make the capitalists pay).

It it not too late. The hour is one of extreme danger. This can only be overcome by extreme measures and firmness. Enough with vacillations. Carry out the revolution to the end!

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela: Institutional Stalemate, Deep Economic Crisis. Military Intervention?

Which Terrorists Bombed Jobleh, Tartus? ISIS or ‘Moderate’ Terrorists?

NOVANEWS
ISIS-Allies

A series of coordinated and organized suicide bombings across the Syrian coast on Monday has left around 120 people dead. Despite the worldwide expression of solidarity that occurred during the Paris and Belgian attacks, however, there has been no mention of the Syrian attacks nor has there been any mass expression of condolences and solidarity with Syria.

The attacks took place in both Tartus and Jobleh, two cities that are fiercely loyal to the Syrian government and where two Russian bases are located. Syrian state media has reported a lower death toll than that of the West and the terrorist-supporting “activists” (or, rather “activist”) known as the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.

Two or three blasts took place in Tartus while four explosions took place in Jobleh, with one bomber captured after his blast failed to take his life along with this victims. The blasts were coordinated to take place at a time when the target areas were expected to be crowded with civilians. In Jobleh, the bombings hit a busy bus station, a government electricity office, and an emergency room hospital entrance. In Tartus, the bombs hit a residential neighborhood and another bus station.

Ziad Fadel of Syrian Perspective provides a timeline of the bombings. He writes:

9:00 a.m. – we are at the entrance to the Jabla Transportation Garage, essentially a taxi and bus station, where people come into the town from nearby areas, including Tartous and Banyaas, to shop, attend school or transact business. This time is the busiest of the day before 8:00 p.m. when crowds begin returning to their destinations. A Toyota pickup, manufactured by the conformist and amoral Japanese, – bought by the Saudi cockroaches – was driven into the entry area and parked there. The pickup was stuffed with 350 kgs of C-4 (Semtex) and sundry metal items, like ball bearings and nails, to insure more lethality. It was detonated by remote control. The Syrian Security Services are now sweeping the area in search of a male suspected of being the trigger-man.

9:10 a.m. As word got out of the explosion, citizens naturally gravitated to the area in order to help or to determine if any loved one was among the injured. A distance of only 100 meters away was the Directorate for Jabla’s Electrical Company. People who heard the explosion at the taxi station were on alert and noticed a woman screaming out “Allahu Akbar” as she detonated her explosive belt right at the entryway to the building. She is now in a thousand pieces of porcine fragments, but, she killed enough people to insure her swift descent into the maws of Erebus.

9:11 a.m. At the entrance to the city of Jabla from the major Latakia-Homs Highway, a male suicide bomber drove his automobile, stuffed with NATO-provided C-4, and detonated his payload at the intersection that leads into the Al-Tadhaamun Quarter. My readers may find this hard to believe, but, the driver survived the explosion and is now in critical condition at the Latakia National Hospital where doctors are frantically trying to keep him alive since his expected testimony will implicate both Erdoghan and Prince Muhammad bin Salmaan (and also, possibly, Obama and Cameron) in this atrocity. My source tells me that the explosion was strong enough to throw the driver from the car violently into some hedges. His survival is, still, quite amazing.

9:25 a.m. – At the Emergency Division of the Jabla National Hospital, a slinky rodent terrorist exploded his belt at the entryway to the emergency ward destroying a whole section of the first floor where Sunnis were being rushed for treatment. The evidence is still flimsy, but, it appears this terrorist had connections to the Sulaybi Quarter of Latakia.

Residents now fear the possibility of more attacks in the region over the coming weeks.

While Western media is reporting that ISIS is responsible for the attack, citing another report from Amaq, a “news agency” associated with Daesh and curiously allowed to operate despite the West maintaining the most sophisticated surveillance and electronic warfare state on the planet, where the terrorist organization allegedly took credit for the bombings. The attacks also come after an alleged ISIS spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnai allegedly urged fighters to increase the frequency of suicide attacks since the group is suffering numerous defeats in head-on battle situations. Adnai’s call was allegedly issued before the weekend.

Syrian media, however, is reporting that Ahrar al-Sham is the party responsible for the bombing.

The question of which terrorist organization is responsible for the bombing is incredibly important in terms of international politics and could have far-reaching effects on the geopolitical scene. Ever since the recent “ceasefire” agreement that excludes ISIS and Nusra, Syria and Russia have argued that Ahrar al-Sham is also a terrorist organization and should therefore also be excluded. However, the United States is refusing to label Ahrar al-Shamone of the organizations that make up the bulk of the so-called “Syrian opposition,” as a terrorist group.

If the responsible party was indeed Ahrar al-Sham, then the United States can chalk up one more horrific atrocity to their publicly-supported pets and will be faced with a difficult row to hoe in front of the rest of the world as the bankrupt U.S. administration inevitably tries to obfuscate and defend the terrorist group.

But Syria and Russia do not necessarily need to point to the bombings in Tartus and Jabla as an example of why Ahrar al-Sham is a terrorist organization nor do they need to prove that Ahrar al-Sham was the guilty party. The terrorist group has already committed untold numbers of atrocities in Syria against soldiers and civilians (See here for video evidence). After all, there is absolutely no difference between Ahrar al-Sham and ISIS besides a mere name. They both have the same goal of Sharia. They both hate minorities, Christians, Alawites, Shiites, etc. They both torture. They both rape. We could go on and on.

We should also mention that the United States and NATO support both organizations. For public relations needs, however, the U.S. can claim that Ahrar al-Sham is the good, “moderate” terrorist organization that is fighting for democratic jihadism. But when an atrocity is committed that gains attention in the media, ISIS – the bad extremist terrorist organization fighting for extreme jihadism – can immediately take both the credit and the blame.

It’s very much like a movie script, but the script resembles that of a sequel that has gone through so many presentations that not only are the scenes predictable but the actors are wholly unconvincing and the plot entirely unbelievable. Unfortunately, the crisis bears another uncanny resemblance to a bad movie script – the American people eat it up without question.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Which Terrorists Bombed Jobleh, Tartus? ISIS or ‘Moderate’ Terrorists?

The Dirty War on Syria: Professor Anderson Reveals the “Unspoken Truth”

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

dirty

The following texts are excerpts from the Preface of  Professor Tim Anderson’s timely and important book entitled The Dirty War on SyriaThe E-book is available for purchase from Global Research 

Although every war makes ample use of lies and deception, the dirty war on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. The British-Australian journalist Philip Knightley pointed out that war propaganda typically involves ‘a depressingly predictable pattern’ of demonising the enemy leader, then demonising the enemy people through atrocity stories, real or imagined (Knightley 2001). Accordingly, a mild-mannered eye doctor called Bashar al Assad became the new evil in the world and, according to consistent western media reports, the Syrian Army did nothing but kill civilians for more than four years. To this day, many imagine the Syrian conflict is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or some sort of internal sectarian conflict. These myths are, in many respects, a substantial achievement for the big powers which have driven a series of ‘regime change’ operations in the Middle East region, all on false pretexts, over the past 15 years.

Dr. Tim Anderson

This book is a careful academic work, but also a strong defence of the right of the Syrian people to determine their own society and political system. That position is consistent with international law and human rights principles, but may irritate western sensibilities, accustomed as we are to an assumed prerogative to intervene. At times I have to be blunt, to cut through the double-speak. In Syria the big powers have sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies while demonising the Syrian Government and Army, accusing them of constant atrocities; then pretending to rescue the Syrian people from their own government. Far fewer western people opposed the war on Syria than opposed the invasion of Iraq, because they were deceived about its true nature.

Dirty wars are not new. Cuban national hero Jose Martí predicted to a friend that Washington would try to intervene in Cuba’s independence struggle against the Spanish. ‘They want to provoke a war’, he wrote in 1889 ‘to have a pretext to intervene and, with the authority of being mediator and guarantor, to seize the country … There is no more cowardly thing in the annals of free people; nor such cold blooded evil’ (Martí 1975: 53). Nine years later, during the third independence war, an explosion in Havana Harbour destroyed the USS Maine, killing 258 US sailors and serving as a pretext for a US invasion.

The US launched dozens of interventions in Latin America over the subsequent century. A notable dirty war was led by CIA-backed, ‘freedom fighter’ mercenaries based in Honduras, who attacked the Sandinista Government and the people of Nicaragua in the 1980s. That conflict, in its modus operandi, was not so different to the war on Syria. In Nicaragua more than 30,000 people were killed. The International Court of Justice found the US guilty of a range of terrorist-style attacks on the little Central American country, and found that the US owed Nicaragua compensation (ICJ 1986). Washington ignored these rulings.

With the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 the big powers took advantage of a political foment by seizing the initiative to impose an ‘Islamist winter’, attacking the few remaining independent states of the region. Very quickly we saw the destruction of Libya, a small country with the highest standard of living in Africa. NATO bombing and a Special Forces campaign helped the al Qaeda groups on the ground. The basis for NATO’s intervention was lies told about actual and impending massacres, supposedly carried out or planned by the government of President Muammar Gaddafi. These claims led rapidly to a UN Security Council resolution said to protect civilians through a ‘no fly zone’. We know now that trust was betrayed, and that the NATO powers abused the limited UN authorisation to overthrow the Libyan Government (McKinney 2012).

Subsequently, no evidence emerged to prove that Gaddafi intended, carried out or threatened wholesale massacres, as was widely suggested (Forte 2012). Genevieve Garrigos of Amnesty International (France) admitted there was ‘no evidence’ to back her group’s earlier claims that Gaddafi had used ‘black mercenaries’ to commit massacres (Forte 2012; Edwards 2013).

… Two days before NATO bombed Libya another armed Islamist insurrection broke out in Daraa, Syria’s southernmost city. Yet because this insurrection was linked to the demonstrations of a political reform movement, its nature was disguised. Many did not see that those who were providing the guns – Qatar and Saudi Arabia – were also running fake news stories in their respective media channels, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. There were other reasons for the durable myths of this war. Many western audiences, liberals and leftists as well as the more conservative, seemed to like the idea of their own role as the saviours of a foreign people, speaking out strongly about a country of which they knew little, but joining what seemed to be a ‘good fight’ against this new ‘dictator’. With a mission and their proud self-image western audiences apparently forgot the lies of previous wars, and of their own colonial legacies.

Click to purchase

I would go so far as to say that, in the Dirty War on Syria, western culture in general abandoned its better traditions: of reason, the maintenance of ethical principle and the search for independent evidence at times of conflict; in favour of its worst traditions: the ‘imperial prerogative’ for intervention, backed by deep racial prejudice and poor reflection on the histories of their own cultures. That weakness was reinforced by a ferocious campaign of war propaganda. After the demonisation of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad began, a virtual information blockade was constructed against anything which might undermine the wartime storyline. Very few sensible western perspectives on Syria emerged after 2011, as critical voices were effectively blacklisted.

The Dirty War on Syria

by Professor Tim Anderson

click to purchase, directly from Global Research Publishers

In that context I came to write this book. It is a defence of Syria, not primarily addressed to those who are immersed the western myths but to others who engage with them. This is therefore a resource book and a contribution to the history of the Syrian conflict. The western stories have become self-indulgent and I believe it is wasteful to indulge them too much. Best, I think, to speak of current events as they are, then address the smokescreens later. I do not ignore the western myths, in fact this book documents many of them. But I lead with the reality of the war.

Western mythology relies on the idea of imperial prerogatives, asking what must ‘we’ do about the problems of another people; an approach which has no basis in international law or human rights. The next steps involve a series of fabrications about the pretexts, character and events of the war. The first pretext over Syria was that the NATO states and the Gulf monarchies were supporting a secular and democratic revolution. When that seemed implausible the second story was that they were saving the oppressed majority ‘Sunni Muslim’ population from a sectarian ‘Alawite regime’. Then, when sectarian atrocities by anti-government forces attracted greater public attention, the pretext became a claim that there was a shadow war: ‘moderate rebels’ were said to be actually fighting the extremist groups. Western intervention was therefore needed to bolster these ‘moderate rebels’ against the ‘new’ extremist group that had mysteriously arisen and posed a threat to the world.

That was the ‘B’ story. No doubt Hollywood will make movies based on this meta-script, for years to come. However this book leads with the ‘A’ story. Proxy armies of Islamists, armed by US regional allies (mainly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey), infiltrate a political reform movement and snipe at police and civilians. They blame this on the government and spark an insurrection, seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government and its secular-pluralist state. This follows the openly declared ambition of the US to create a ‘New Middle East’, subordinating every country of the region, by reform, unilateral disarmament or direct overthrow. Syria was next in line, after Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. In Syria, the proxy armies would come from the combined forces of the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi fanatics. Despite occasional power struggles between these groups and their sponsors, they share much the same Salafist ideology, opposing secular or nationalist regimes and seeking the establishment of a religious state.

However in Syria Washington’s Islamists confronted a disciplined national army which did not disintegrate along religious lines, despite many provocations. The Syrian state also had strong allies in Russia and Iran. Syria was not to be Libya Take Two. In this prolonged war the violence, from the western side, was said to consist of the Syrian Army targeting and killing civilians. From the Syrian side people saw daily terrorist attacks on towns and cities, schools and hospitals and massacres of ordinary people by NATO’s ‘freedom fighters’, then the counter attacks by the Army. Foreign terrorists were recruited in dozens of countries by the Saudis and Qatar, bolstering the local mercenaries.

Though the terrorist groups were often called ‘opposition, ‘militants’ and ‘Sunni groups’ outside Syria, inside the country the actual political opposition abandoned the Islamists back in early 2011. Protest was driven off the streets by the violence, and most of the opposition (minus the Muslim Brotherhood and some exiles) sided with the state and the Army, if not with the ruling Ba’ath Party. The Syrian Army has been brutal with terrorists but, contrary to western propaganda, protective of civilians. The Islamists have been brutal with all, and openly so. Millions of internally displaced people have sought refuge with the Government and Army, while others fled the country.

In a hoped-for ‘end game’ the big powers sought overthrow of the Syrian state or, failing that, the creation of a dysfunctional state or dismembering into sectarian statelets, thus breaking the axis of independent regional states. That axis comprises Hezbollah in south Lebanon and the Palestinian resistance, alongside Syria and Iran, the only states in the region without US military bases. More recently Iraq – still traumatised from western invasion, massacres and occupation – has begun to align itself with this axis. Russia too has begun to play an important counter-weight role. Recent history and conduct demonstrate that neither Russia nor Iran harbour any imperial ambitions remotely approaching those of Washington and its allies, several of which (Britain, France and Turkey) were former colonial warlords in the region. From the point of view of the ‘Axis of Resistance’, defeat of the dirty war on Syria means that the region can begin closing ranks against the big powers. Syria’s successful resistance would mean the beginning of the end for Washington’s ‘New Middle East’.

That is basically the big picture. This book sets out to document the A story and expose the B story. It does so by rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, the maintenance of ethical principle and the search for independent evidence in case of conflict. I hope it might prove a useful resource. Here is a brief overview of the chapters.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-7-7

Year: 2016

Product Type: PDF File

Author: Tim Anderson

Price: $9.45

The Dirty War on Syria 

by Professor Tim Anderson

click to purchase, directly from Global Research Publishers

Chapter 1, ‘Syria and Washington’s ‘New Middle East’’ puts Syria in context of the US plans for a ‘New Middle East’, the latest chapter in a longer history of US attempts to dominate the region.

Chapter 2,Barrel Bombs, Partisan Sources and War Propaganda’ addresses the problem of reporting and reading the Syrian crisis. Media channels have shown a hyper-reliance on partisan sources, committed to the war and denigrating the Syrian Army. This is the key barrier to understanding the controversies around chemical weapons, civilian massacres and the levels of support for or opposition to President Assad.

Chapter 3, ‘Daraa 2011: Another Islamist Insurrection’ reconstructs, from a range of sources, the Saudi-backed Islamist insurrection in Daraa in March 2011. Those armed attacks were quite distinct from the political reform rallies, which the Islamists soon drove off the streets.

Chapter 4, ‘Bashar al Assad and Political Reform’ explains the political reform movement from the time Bashar assumed the presidency in the year 2000 to the beginning of the crisis in 2011. From this we can see that most opposition groups were committed to reform within a Syrian context, with virtually all opposing attacks on the Syrian state. The chapter then reviews the role of Bashar as a reformer, and the evidence on his popularity.

Chapter 5, ‘The Empire’s Jihadis’ looks at the collaboration between Salafist political Islam and the imperial powers in the Middle East. Distinct from the anti-imperial Islamic currents in Iran and south Lebanon, Salafist political Islam has become a sectarian force competing with Arab nationalism across Egypt, Palestine and Syria, and drawing on long standing collaborative relations with the big powers. This history provides important background to the character of Syria’s Islamist ‘revolution’, and its various slogans.

Chapter 6, ‘Embedded Media, Embedded Watchdogs’ identifies the propaganda techniques of media channels and the network of ‘human rights’ bodies (Human Rights Watch, Avaaz, etc) which function as megaphones and ‘moderators’ for the Washington agenda. Many have become fierce advocates for ‘humanitarian war’. A number of newer western NGOs (e.g. The Syria Campaign, The White Helmets) have been created by Wall Street agencies specifically for the dirty war on Syria. A number of their fabrications are documented here.

Chapter 7, ‘The Houla Massacre Revisited’ considers in detail the evidence from the first major massacre designed (following success of the technique over Libya) to influence UN Security Council consideration of military intervention. While the first UN inquiry group, actually in Syria, found contradictory evidence on this massacre, a second UN group outside Syria and co-chaired by a US diplomat, tried to blame the Syrian Government. Yet more than a dozen witnesses blamed Farouq FSA Islamists, who killed pro-government villagers and took over the area, holding it for some months. Several other ‘false flag’ massacres are noted.

Chapter 8, Chemical Fabrications: the East Ghouta Incident’ details the second major ‘false flag’ incident of international significance. This incident in August 2013, which nearly sparked a major escalation involving US missile attacks on Syria, was used to accuse the Syrian Government of killing hundreds of civilians, including children, with chemical weapons. Within a fairly short time multiple sources of independent evidence (including North American evidence) disproved these accusations. Nevertheless, Syria’s opponents have repeated the false accusations, to this day, as though they were fact.

Chapter 9, ‘The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Double Game’ addresses a recent political doctrine, a subset of ‘humanitarian intervention’ popularised to add to the imperial toolkit. The application of this doctrine in Libya was disastrous for that little country. Fortunately the attempts to use it in Syria failed.

Chapter 10, ‘Health and Sanctions’ documents the NATO-backed Islamist attacks on Syria’s health system, linked to the impact of western economic sanctions. These twin currents have caused great damage to Syrian public health. Such attacks carry no plausible motive of seeking local popular support, so we must interpret them as part of an overall strategy to degrade the Syrian state, rendering it more vulnerable to outside intervention.

Chapter 11 ‘Washington, Terrorism and the Islamic State (ISIS)’, documents the links between the big powers and the latest peak terrorist group they claim to be fighting. Only evidence can help develop informed opinion on this contentious matter, but the evidence is overwhelming. There is little ideological difference between the various Salafi-Islamist groups, and Washington and its allies have financed and armed every one of them.

Chapter 12, ‘Western Intervention and the Colonial Mind’ discusses the western cultural mindset that underlies persistent violations of the rights of other peoples.

Click to purchase

Chapter 13 ‘Towards an Independent Middle East’, considers the end-game in the Syrian crisis, and its implications for the Middle East region. At tremendous cost the Syrian Arab Republic, its army and its people, have successfully resisted aggression from a variety of powerful enemies. Syria’s survival is due to its resilience and internal unity, bolstered by support from some strong allies. The introduction of Russian air power in late September 2015 was important. So too were the coordinated ground forces from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, in support of an independent Syria.

When the attacks on Syria abate the Middle East seems set to be transformed, with greater political will and military preparedness on the part of an expanded Axis of Resistance. That will signal the beginning of the end for Washington’s 15 year spree of bloodshed and ‘regime change’ across the entire region.

Click here to purchase Tim Anderson’s Book (pdf) 

 

Reviews:

Tim Anderson  has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government. 

No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation.

This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists.  -James Petras, Author and Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Tim Anderson’s important new book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” discusses US naked aggression – “rely(ing) on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory,” he explains.

ISIS is the pretext for endless war without mercy, Assad the target, regime change the objective, wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.

There’s nothing civil about war in Syria, raped by US imperialism, partnered with rogue allies. Anderson’s book is essential reading to understand what’s going on. Stephen Lendman, Distinguished Author and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Professor Anderson demonstrates unequivocally through carefully documented research that America’s “Moderate Opposition” are bona fide Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists created and protected by the US and its allies, recruited  and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in liaison with Washington and Brussels.

Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “State sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Ottawa.

Click here to purchase Tim Anderson’s Book PDF

 

Notes:

Edwards, Dave (2013) ‘Limited But Persuasive’ Evidence – Syria, Sarin, Libya, Lies’, Media Lens, 13 June, online:http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/alerts-2013/735-limited-but-persuasive-evidence-syria-sarin-libya-lies.html

Forte, Maximilian (2012) Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa, Baraka Books, Quebec

ICJ (1986) Case concerning the military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) Merits’, International Court of Justice, Judgement of 27 June 1986, online: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/?sum=367&p1=3&p2=3&case=70&p3=5

Knightley, Phillip (2001) ‘The disinformation campaign’, The Guardian, 4 October, online:http://www.theguardian.com/education/2001/oct/04/socialsciences.highereducation

Kuperman, Alan J. (2015) Obama’s Libya Debacle’, Foreign Affairs, 16 April, online:https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2015-02-16/obamas-libya-debacle

Martí, Jose (1975) Obras Completas, Vol. 6, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana

McKinney, Cynthia (Ed) (2012) The Illegal War on Libya, Clarity Press, Atlanta

Putin, Vladimir (2015) ‘Violence instead of democracy: Putin slams ‘policies of exceptionalism and impunity’ in UN speech’, RT, 28 September, online: https://www.rt.com/news/316804-putin-russia-unga-speech/

Richter, Larry (1998) ‘Havana Journal; Remember the Maine? Cubans See an American Plot Continuing to This Day’, New York Times, 14 February, online: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/02/14/world/havana-journal-remember-maine-cubans-see-american-plot-continuing-this-day.html

Dr Tim Anderson:  is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He researches and writes on development, rights and self-determination in Latin America, the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. He has published many dozens of chapters and articles in a range of academic books and journals. His last book was Land and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2015).

Posted in Literature, SyriaComments Off on The Dirty War on Syria: Professor Anderson Reveals the “Unspoken Truth”

Fake Syria Solidarity NGO Supports “Moderate” Terrorists. Bans Prof. Tim Anderson from Conference

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

syria

Fake Syria Solidarity NGO supports the moderate Al Qaeda terrorists.  

University of Sydney professor and Global Research author Tim Anderson was an invited keynote speaker.

He has been banned following a hate campaign waged by a British based NGO which supports terrorism.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208319653241904&set=a.10207184336939706.1073741994.1021408357&type=3

The SSUK accuses Tim Anderson of supporting the Assad government, yet the evidence amply confirms that this fake human rights groups is supporting the US-NATO sponsored terrorists.

“In an attempt to claim the moral high ground, Washington uses proxy NGOs alongside proxy militia, to maintain the fiction that the Syrian Army does nothing but attack Syrian civilians.”

Click the image below to order Tim Anderson’s book directly from Global Research Click the image below to order Tim Anderson’s book directly from Global Research

Text of  Fake Human Rights NGO: 

To the participants and organisers of the ‘Crossing Borders’ Conference

Refugees conference invites Assad supporter as keynote speaker

The Cooperative Institute for Transnational Studies in collaboration with the University of Aegean (Laboratory EKNEXA-Department of Sociology) have announced a conference on the refugee crisis, ‘Crossing Borders,’ in Lesvos, Greece, on 7-10th July.

We are very concerned to note that the list of speakers includes Tim Anderson, a supporter of the Assad regime, for the reasons given in the open letter below.

To the participants and organisers of the ‘Crossing Borders’ Conference

….

The fact the conference is sponsored by the Stop The War Coalition and stopimperialism.org, two organisations which have been unwilling to condemn or criticise the actions of the regime, causes us further concern.

We call on the conference organisers to disinvite Tim Anderson and issue a strong statement condemning the repression of the Assad regime against the Syrian people. If they are unwilling to do this, we call on other participants like Paul Mason and Nina Power, activists who are committed to the struggle for social change and against oppression, not to participate in the conference alongside known regime apologists. We welcome discussion and debate about the causes and solutions to the refugee crisis, but pro-regime apologists should not be a part of this discussion.

Posted in Syria, UKComments Off on Fake Syria Solidarity NGO Supports “Moderate” Terrorists. Bans Prof. Tim Anderson from Conference

“Syria Solidarity UK” Supporting Al Qaeda and Denying Free Speech

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr
Shoah.org.uk
The_flag_of_Syrian_Arab_Republic_Damascus,_Syria

‘Syria Solidarity UK’ (SSUK), led by some British ‘leftists’, is strongly backing the US-led war on Syria and appears to support all the al Qaeda aligned armed groups. They use the pretence of concern for refugees while stoking a terrible war which drives those refugees.

Even after five years of proxy war, where it has become very clear that NATO states and the Gulf monarchies are using vicious extremist groups in an attempt to topple the Syrian Government, some small, deluded western ‘left’ groups still pretend this is a ‘revolution’.

I first became aware of the SSUK very recently when they lobbied a Greek academic conference (Crossing Borders) to have me removed as an invited keynote speaker. I had been invited to present on the relationship between the war on Syria and the European refugee crisis, after interest in my recent book, The Dirty War on Syria.

To Order Tim Anderson’s Book, click link or image

The SSUK is very different to the Syria Solidarity Movement SSM, which opposes the war on Syria. When I looked closer at the SSUK I saw it had been created in 2014 by members of the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and/or splinter groups formed over 2013-2014, after a rape scandal within the SWP.

Spokesperson for the SSUK and SWP member Mark Boothroyd was joined by a number of his party comrades – including James Bloodworth, Razan Ghazzawi, Clay Claiborne, Kyle Orton and Paul Canning – in opposing my presentation at the conference. They had all backed the NATO bombing of Libya and now urge western arming of the al Qaeda linked groups and direct western intervention in Syria. I provide some detail of this below.

The SSUK split from the British Stop the War Coalition, which they criticised for ‘opposing any UK military involvement’ in Syria and for casting doubt on some of the claims against the Syrian Government, claiming (like the US Government) that Assad is ‘worse than ISIS … that most Syrian refugees are fleeing Assad’s violence’ (SSUK 2015). The SSUK also criticises Stop the War UK for casting doubt on the 2013 East Ghouta chemical weapons incident, which the armed Islamist groups had falsely blamed the Syrian Army (see Anderson 2015).

Mark Boothroyd (2015), makes it very clear that the SSUK backs the armed opposition, called ‘moderate rebels’ by Washington and several European states. This includes the Saudi-backed Jaysh al Islam, the Turkish coalition Jaysh al Fatah (led by the banned Jabhat al Nusra) and Ahrar as Sham. That latter group was reported in May 2016 as having killed 150 civilians in a series of car bombings along the Syrian coast (FARS News 2016).

All of the above groups have worked hand in glove, for many years, with the banned terrorist group Jabhat al Nusra, while the SSUK Facebook site opposes Iraqi Government and Syrian Government bombing of ISIS strongholds in Raqqa and Fallujah. According to the British SSUK, Arab Governments cannot fight banned terrorist organisations in their own countries. This is much the same line as Washington.

Lesvos Refugee Camp

Invitation to “Crossing Borders” Conference

My invitation to the ‘Crossing Borders’ conference had come in February from a Greek academic:

GA: “We are having a conference on the refugee crisis in Lesvos. Please consider coming as keynote speaker … Maybe if you could speak about Syria and what you describe in your book [that] would be interesting to the audience.”

I responded: ‘The link between the wars of the New Middle East and the refugee crisis?’

GA: “Yes…exactly. That would be perfect since we want to give an anti-war tone to the conference. Just to be clear from the beginning CITS is only launching and so you will need to arrange expenses with your university.”

Three months later, after I had booked my flights to Greece, I received this message:

GA: “Unfortunately there has been some very negative feedback about your participation … Some other speakers have threatened not to come.”

The conference committee had received a petition from the SSUK, signed by 66 people, then a series of emails. The committee caved in very quickly, after being emailed by the anti-Syrian group.

GA: “They have connected your name with anti-left alliances [and] with for Assad people … many people from our list have been sending messages complaining and asking to be removed as speakers.”

Of course, it had always been clear that I supported the Syrian Government and opposed the war, based on the principle of self-determination for the Syrian people. More importantly, my book documented in detail the various myths created about the war.

It was an impressive achievement on the part of the SSUK to get 66 people to lobby the conference to remove one of its speakers. But why so much effort? Especially when the history of attempts to gag public speakers and ban books tend to attract much more attention. And why would any ‘left’ group so vehemently back yet another US-led Middle East war?

Who are the SSUK?

The SSUK (2016) proclaims its support for ‘the popular revolution against the Assad regime’. Boothroyd (2015) says the group does not support the Kurdish YPG as they are “not in conflict with the Assad regime, so don’t constitute part of the armed rebellion.” He cites with approval the ‘Free Syrian Army’, Jaysh al Fatah, Ahrar as Sham and Jaysh al Islam – all groups the US, Turkey and the Saudis openly back.

SSUK social media sites link up to western front organisations like the Syria Campaign and the White Helmets’, two of several ‘human rights’ front groups used to create ‘propaganda storms’ with distorted and fake information, helping escalate and prolong the war (Beeley 2016; Bartlett 2015).

The SSUK petition against me included Bissan Fakih, campaigner with The Syria Campaign, and Rafif Jouejati, director of the US-based charity the ‘FREE-Syria Foundation’. The latter was a spokesperson for the Local Coordinating Committees (LCC), which by late 2012 had aligned itself with the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) and Jabhat al Nusra. In 2013 Jouejati objected to the small scale of proposed US missile attacks on Syria, saying: “The LCC does not support a limited strike [on Syria]. As John Kerry said, this would be ‘unbelievably small’(Democracy Now 2013).

The petition included Australian Michael Karadjis, who has openly backed the official al Qaeda group in Syria, saying that ‘despite the jihadist [Jabhat al] Nusra leadership, much of its ranks are decent revolutionaries’ (Karadjis 2013). He also posted on his Facebook site his support for what would be an illegal and criminal Turkish-Saudi invasion of Syria:

“I know this won’t win points with 90% of my friends … but I would be in favour of a Turkish-Saudi action to drive Assad out. At very least it would be the lesser evil … I support providing the Free Syrian Army with massive supplies of anti-aircraft weaponry. I’m not sure how anyone can look at this and disagree. Short of that a regional action is, unfortunately, next best.”

Michael Karadjis was joined on the petition by Australian freelance journalist Antony Loewenstein who, in turn, was joined by the pro-Israel British journalist Nick Cohen and British journalist and SWP member James Bloodworth. The latter backs western intervention in Syria and has demanded ‘free speech’ when his own SWP is under attack (Bloodworth 2014). They all wanted to block my views on the conflict and its implications for refugees.

Under banners of ‘Protect civilians’ and ‘Listen to Syrians’, the SSUK FB site reproduces pro-ISIS propaganda. They cite with approval posts in ‘Solidarity with the peoples of Fallujah and Raqqa’, which complain about Iraqi, US, Kurdish, Iranian and Syrian attacks on ISIS in Raqqa and Fallujah, arguing: “Will Stop the War Coalition [UK] oppose the US-backed Iranian and Kurdish YPG blitzkriegs of Raqqa and Fallujah?” The SSUK links to a video from another British group which claims Iraqi Army attacks on ISIS in Fallujah represent “the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis”.

Peter Tatchell, a British gay activist, was one of those who emailed the conference organisers. He is a person who, even after the disaster in Libya, called for a no-fly zone in Syria. He disingenuously claimed that his ‘Don’t bomb Syria … no bomb zone’ placard did not mean ‘UK bombing of Syria’. But, after the NATO destruction of Libya, all intelligent people should understand what a ‘no fly zone’ means. Even conservative US academic reports, after the event, have demonstrated that more than ten times as many people died in Libya after the NATO intervention, on the ‘no fly zone’ pretext (Kuperman 2015).

Another signatory to the petition, British man Oz Katerji, supported the NATO ‘no fly’ intervention in Libya, and tries to justify it even after the disaster. He supports the armed groups in Syria. Further, he is a project coordinator for ‘Help Refugees UK’, and takes aid to the refugee flooded but Jabhat al Nusra-dominated town of Gaziantep in Turkey (Help Refugees UK 2016).

This highlights a dilemma with these ‘humanitarian’ al Qaeda supporters. They proclaim political support for the al Qaeda groups then, in the name of helping refugees, deliver aid to camps controlled by those same internationally banned terrorist organisations. This is a short step away from providing material support to terrorist groups.

Dr Rola Hallam, another of the signatories on the petition to gag me, is a doctor involved with the UK-based NGO ‘Hand in Hand for Syria’ (HHS). She supports US military intervention in Syria. HHS, backed by the BBC, was exposed by British investigator Robert Stuart for fabricating evidence over an alleged Syrian attack on a Syrian school in August 2013. The aim was clearly to create a scandal which would attract western military intervention.

Building a catalogue of evidence, Robert Stuart (2016) found the BBC sequences of the alleged school attack, ‘purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack … are largely, if not entirely, staged.’ Fabrications included the filmed commentaries from Dr Rola Hallam.

Amongst the other signatories on the SSUK petition were academic Thomas Pierret, who backed the NATO intervention in Libya and has since commented ‘Why should we be scared of statelessness in Syria? Libya is so much better than Syria without a state’. Razan Ghazzawi quotes with approval an article which says ‘the Western left should reject knee-jerk anti-imperialism’. Kyle Orton (2015) argues ‘NATO Was Right to Intervene in Libya’.

Similarly, Clay Clairborne regards the NATO-bombed catastrophe of Libya ‘a revolutionary success story’, arguing that Assad is behind al Qaeda (Clairborne 2015), even as the al Qaeda groups slaughter Syrian soldiers as well as civilians. Louis Proyect (2012), who calls himself ‘The Unrepentant Marxist’, attacks ‘the Islamophobic left’ for not supporting the campaigns to arm Islamist groups against Libya and Syria. He says he is ‘inspired by’ the Islamist attacks on Libya and Syria.

There is no extremist armed group in Syria that the SSUK and its allies have not backed, while they claim to support refugees that flee from war and the head choppers. Most displaced people within Syria seek refuge in government controlled areas, in Sweida, Damascus, Lattakia and Aleppo. They are clearly not ‘fleeing Assad’.

The SSUK never uses the sort of detailed evidence that I have applied in my book, yet their online campaign seemed to carry more weight with the ‘Crossing Borders’ committee. I simply ask my academic colleagues: what is wrong with reasonable public debate?

Sources

Anderson, Tim (2015) ‘The Dirty War on Syria: Chemical Fabrications, The East Ghouta Incident, Global Research, 12 December, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-dirty-war-on-syria-chemical-fabrications-the-east-ghouta-incident/5493698

Anderson, Tim (2016) The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance, Global Research, e-book available online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-dirty-war-on-syria-washington-regime-change-and-resistance/5504372

Bartlett, Eva (2015) ‘“Human Rights” front groups (“Humanitarian Interventionalists”) Warring on Syria’, Fall, online: http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/tag/the-syria-campaign/

Beeley, Vanessa (2016) ‘George Soros: Anti-Syria Campaign Impresario’, 21st Century Wire, 22 April, online:http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/04/22/george-soros-anti-syria-campaign-impresario/

Boothroyd, Mark (2015) ‘Who are the Syrians rebels?’ Syrian Solidarity UK, 19 December, online:http://www.syriauk.org/2015/12/who-are-syrian-rebels.html

Bloodworth, James (2014) ‘Shutting down abortion debates and banning the SWP – what a terrible week for free speech’, 21 November, online: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/shutting-down-abortion-debates-and-banning-the-swp-what-a-terrible-week-for-free-speech-9875022.html

Clairborne, Clay (2014) ‘Why I consider Libya a revolutionary success story’, Linux Beach, 4 March, online:http://claysbeach.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/why-i-consider-libya-revolutionary.html

Cohen, Nick (2015) ‘Future generations will despise our ‘realism’ on Syria’, The Guardian, 13 September, online:http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/13/west-offer-alternative-to-isis-and-assad

Democracy Now (2013) ‘As Assad Regime Accepts Russian Plan on Chemical Weapons, A Debate on Syria’s Path Forward’, 10 September, online: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/10/as_assad_regime_accepts_russian_plan

FARS News (2016) ‘Ahrar Al-Sham, Not ISIL, Responsible for Monday Blasts in Lattakia’, 24 may, online:http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950304001226

Ghazzawi, Razzan (2012) ‘Libya and Syria: When anti-imperialism goes wrong | Pham Binh’, 5 July, online:https://razanghazzawi.org/2012/07/05/libya-and-syria-when-anti-imperialism-goes-wrong-pham-binh/

Ghazzawi, Razzan (2016) ‘Revolt and war in Syria five years on’, Socialist Worker, 8 March, online:https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/42301/Revolt+and+war+in+Syria+five+years+on

Help Refugees UK (2016) ‘Turkey’, online: http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/tag/turkey/

Karadjis, Michael (2013) ‘Syrian rebels overwhelmingly condemn US bombing as an attack on revolution’, online:https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/syrian-rebels-overwhelmingly-condemn-us-bombing-as-an-attack-on-revolution/

Kuperman, Alan J. (2015) Obama’s Libya Debacle’, Foreign Affairs, 16 April, online:https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2015-02-16/obamas-libya-debacle

Orton, Kyle (2015) ‘Why NATO Was Right To Intervene In Libya’, 21 October, online:https://kyleorton1991.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/why-nato-was-right-to-intervene-in-libya/

Proyect, Louis (2012) ‘Libya, Syria, and left Islamophobia’, The Unrepentant Marxist, online:https://louisproyect.org/2012/07/23/libya-syria-and-left-islamophobia/

Sinclair, Ian (2016) ‘Countering Peter Tatchell’s pro-war anti-war arguments on Syria’, Open Democracy, 15 January, online: https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/ian-sinclair/countering-peter-tatchell-s-pro-war-anti-war-arguments-on-syria

SSUK (2015) Why Stop the war don’t want to listen to Syrians’, 12 November, online:http://leftfootforward.org/2015/11/why-stop-the-war-dont-want-to-listen-to-syrians/

SSUK (2016) Syria Solidarity UK’, online: http://www.syriauk.org/p/about-us.html

SSUK FB (2016) Facebook Posts, online:

https://www.facebook.com/SyriaUKorg/

https://eternispring.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/fallujah-and-raqqa-are-getting-or-are-about-to-get-blitzkrieged/

https://www.facebook.com/doammuslims/videos/1066232390090994/

Stuart, Robert (2013-2016) ‘Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’’, online:https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/

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Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein 1924-2016

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Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, 91, died at her home in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, on May 26, 2016. An internationally renowned, respected and admired advocate for human and civil rights, Hedy was encircled by friends who lovingly cared for her at home.

Born August 15, 1924, in the Bavarian region of Germany, her lifelong commitment to human rights was formed by the horrific experiences she and her family endured under the repressive Nazi regime.

Unable to secure travel documents for themselves, Hedy’s parents, Hugo and Ella (Eichel) Wachenheimer, arranged for 14-year-old Hedy to leave Germany on a Kindertransport. Hedy credited her parents with giving her life a second time when they sent her to England to live with kind-hearted strangers. Hedy’s parents, grandparents, and most of her aunts, uncles and cousins did not survive the Holocaust. Hedy remained in England until 1945 when she returned to Germany to work for the United States Civil Service. She joined the Nuremberg Doctors Trial prosecution in 1946 as a research analyst.

Hedy immigrated to the United States in 1948. She and her husband moved to St. Louis in the early 1960s, and shortly thereafter Hedy began working as a volunteer with the Freedom of Residence, Greater St. Louis Committee, a nonprofit organization dedicated to housing integration and advocacy for fair housing laws. Hedy worked for many years as a volunteer and board member, and ultimately served as the organization’s executive director during the mid-1970s.

During the 1980s, Hedy worked as a paralegal for Chackes and Hoare, a law firm that represented individuals in employment discrimination cases. As an advocate for equality and human rights, Hedy spoke out against the war in Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia, and overly restrictive U.S. immigration policies. She spoke and acted in support of the Haitian boat people and women’s reproductive rights, and, following the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Hedy began her courageous and visionary work
for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine.

During her later years, Hedy continued to advocate for a more peaceful world, and in 2002 was a founding member of the St. Louis Instead of War Coalition. Much of her later activism centered on efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She founded the St. Louis chapter of Women in Black and co-founded the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and the St. Louis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. She traveled to the West Bank several times, first as a volunteer with the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement and repeatedly as a witness to advocate for Palestinian human
rights. She attempted several times to go to Gaza as a passenger with the Freedom Flotilla, including as a passenger on the Audacity of Hope, and once with the Gaza Freedom March. Hedy addressed numerous groups and organizations throughout Europe and returned to Germany and her native village of Kippenheim many times.

Three days after her 90th birthday, Hedy was arrested for “failure to disperse.” She was attempting to enter Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s St. Louis office to ask for de-escalation of police and National Guard tactics which had turned violent in response to protests following the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Hedy was a member of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center’s speakers’ bureau and gave countless talks at schools and community events. She shared her Holocaust experiences with thousands of Missouri youth as a featured speaker at the Missouri Scholars Academy for more than twenty years. She ended every talk with three requests: remember the past, don’t hate, and don’t be a bystander.

Through the years, Hedy received numerous awards and honors for her compassionate service and relentless pursuit of justice.

Hedy is survived by son Howard (Terry) Epstein, and granddaughters Courtney and Kelly. She was beloved and will be truly missed by countless friends in St. Louis and around the world.

Hedy often shared her philosophy of service with these words: “If we don’t try to make a difference, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try to right the wrong that we see, we become complicit. I don’t want to be guilty of not trying my best to make a difference.”

Hedy always did her best, and the difference she made is evident in the commitment and passion of those called to continue her work. Her friends and admirers honor and salute her deep and lifelong dedication to tikkun olam, the just re-ordering of the world and promise to remember, to stay human, and to never be bystanders.

A memorial service will be held in Forest Park at a date and time to be determined. Donations in Hedy’s name may be made to Forest Park Forever to establish a permanent tribute, 5595 Grand Drive in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO 63112; American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102; American Civil Liberties Union, 125 Broad St. 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004; and/or American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation, 454 Whittier St., St. Louis, MO 63108.

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The Myth of Bitter Lake: Did the British Empire foist Saudi Arabia on the United States?

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Image result for SAUDI ZIONIST KING CARTOON

Founding political myths provide reassuring points of reference but they do not provide the full, or even, real reason on why major historical moments occurred. As is popularly known the American Revolution was triggered specifically by the Boston Tea Party in defiance of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773. Yet in a recent article in the New York Review of Books, historian Professor Steve Pincus argues it was a series of economic policies, enforced by the British parliament from the 1760’s onward that made no small contribution to the colonialist’s rebellion against King George’s tyranny.

Recently in the United Kingdom a commemoration was held to mark hundred years since the Gallipoli expedition during World War One. The British Empire had intended to defeat the Ottoman Empire’s forces by sailing through the straits of Dardanelles and then move on to occupy Istanbul for the latter then to be parceled out to its ally, Imperial Russia.

The ‘Asia Minor Agreement’ between the Entente Powers of the British Empire, France and Imperial Russia divided the Ottoman Empire among themselves but after the Russian revolution (and the subsequent withdrawal of Russia from the war) this agreement became popularly known as Sykes-Picot. The British Empire’s failure to breach the Ottoman Empire’s positions at Dardanelles compelled it to fish around amongst the latter’s suzerainty in search of disgruntled groups who would be tricked into executing Great Britain’s dirty work of defeating the Ottomans and breaking up their Empire. Hence we today have the legend of the “Arab Revolt” as championed and jointly led by the British agent T.E.Lawrence aka “Lawrence of Arabia”.

Similarly when one attempts to ascertain the origins of the United States and the Saudi Arabian decades old alliance, the meeting held between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Kingdom’s founder, Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud on board the USS Quincy on 14thFebruary 1945 at Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal is widely regarded as the symbolic starting point. Hitherto, Ibn Saud had been the British Empire’s most reliable and favoured ally or desert stooge.

Since capturing Riyadh, what is now Saudi Arabia’s capital, with British weapons in 1902 Ibn Saud had dutifully and faithfully done the Empire’s bidding. Whether it was attacking the Ottoman’s Empire’s representatives in the Arabian desert or dispatching the recalcitrant Hussain Ibn Ali from the Hijaz, (the western part of today’s Saudi Arabia) in the mid-1920’s after he had refused to accept the Britain’s Zionist colonial project in Palestine; the Empire knew it had a loyal servant in Ibn Saud.

But with the Empire’s resources stretched during World War II, some British diplomats as early as 1941 were attempting to encourage American involvement in Saudi Arabia. The Empire believed it could no longer afford to subsidise Ibn Saud as well as soundly account for its own domestic and other imperial undertakings. According to two British biographers of the Saudi clan, David Holden and Richard Johns, British diplomats “had attempted in the dark days of 1941 to interest the United States Government in taking on some of their financial burden in Saudi Arabia” to no avail.[1]

Two academic studies by Dr. Barry Rubin also confirm it was the British who made the initial approaches to the United States. In the summer of 1941 the Minister-Counsellor in the British embassy in the United States, Neville Butler was attempting to encourage the State Department’s head of Near East Affairs, Wallace Murray to purchase more oil from Saudi Arabia. In a meeting in late July 1941, Butler suggested to Murray that it was “most important” that Ibn Saud knew he had friends in the United States to which he can rely on for assistance.[2]

Several weeks later on August 21st the Americans rebuffed British approaches to subsidise Ibn Saud. Yet this did not stop the British from trying to work out a way of enticing the Americans to take some responsibility in the Middle East. The British remained adamant that the Americans should and must be involved in the Arab World, as the “Foreign Office was trying to work out some division of economic opportunity and political responsibility to avoid being overwhelmed by the United States.”[3]

In other words, for the British, the issue was how to financially cut the Americans into the Middle East. As such, if the Americans were to be appropriately cut in, they would, it was thought, inevitably burden more imperial responsibility for policing the Middle East without threatening other British interests.

But why choose Ibn Saud? Why didn’t the British stealthily offer Iran, Iraq or any other oil wells which the British had carved countries out from i.e. Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, etc?

It appears that Saudi Arabia was the nation chosen by British imperialists to ingratiate the Americans with largely because the British clearly felt that they had enough oil in Iran and Iraq to satisfy their needs and therefore could afford to portion out Saudi Arabia to the Americans. More so, with the Empire’s oil needs met in Iran and Iraq there was no need to develop Saudi Arabian oil fields. This was noted by American officials who reported that the British “blessed with ample oil supplies from Iran and Iraq” had no interest in developing Saudi reserves.[4]

Furthermore, In Rubin’s book on American-British rivalry in the early 1940’s in the Middle East he observed that:

“The British, far from seeking to exclude American interests from the region, were attempting to work out a method for providing America with some responsibilities in the Middle East in order to make it a reliable partner in helping to shore up existing British interests.”[5] This responsibility ultimately culminated in transmuting Ibn Saud from a British puppet into an American puppet.

In other words if existing British interests were to be given a second American guard in the region then the Americans too needed something real or “ample” to defend. As Butler argued “Americans are not likely to accept responsibilities in the Middle East unless they first have increasing material interests there.”[6] The historian John Keay states that the “the British were to be seen simply as inviting US collaboration in the face of a new global peril.”[7] The peril was later identified as communism.

After the Americans acquiesced in accepting British invitations to embrace and subsidise Ibn Saud with a lend-lease package other narratives began to be concocted to explain the new geo-political alliance between the USA and Saudi Arabia. One narrative recently advocated by the BBC’s legendry Adam Curtis in his documentary on the meeting at Bitter Lake, is that a quid pro quo was agreed between Roosevelt and Ibn Saud, whereby the former would provide military security in exchange for ‘controlling’ the latter’s oil. But the U.S. oil needs have always largely been met by trade with western hemisphere nations.

Another narrative peddled mainly by British historians bestowed Ibn Saud with the vision, foresight and indeed the ability of reading the desert runes in that he “sensed a coming change in the regional balance of power”[8] or Ibn Saud possessed the “familiar bedouin eye to the main chance which dictated a prompt accommodation to the new facts of life”[9] and this therefore was why he struck a deal with the United States rather than the British Empire. Obviously, Ibn Saud’s sublime intuitions dovetailed neatly with British strategies.

When Roosevelt finally met Ibn Saud in 1945 at Great Bitter Lake it was on the back of almost four years of diplomatic shenanigans between British and American diplomats. When a British diplomat did complain in 1945 of the United States usurping the UK’s long established alliance with Ibn Saud he was rebuffed by central government because “London ‘was glad to see the Americans with a substantial stake in the Middle East.’”[10]

The meeting at Bitter Lake has now come to symbolise the founding of the American and Saudi Arabian geo-political relationship when it most likely represented the ceremonial handover and makeover of a pliable British stooge into an ever more pliable American stooge. In many respects the meeting can also be seen as a belated, decades-old, addendum to the Sykes-Picot carve up: American power was allowed to wiggle into the Middle East alongside the British with its own piece of Saudi booty.

[1] David Holden and Richard Johns, “The House of Saud” (London : Pan Books, 1982), pg.127

[2] Barry Rubin, “Anglo American Relations in Saudi Arabia, 1941-1945”, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 14 (1979), pg.254

[3] ibid., pg.255-6

[4] ibid., pg.262

[5] Barry Rubin, “The Great Powers in the Middle East 1941-1947” (London: Frank Cass, 1980), pg. 38-39.

[6] ibid., pg. 39

[7] John Keay, “Sowing the Wind: The mismanagement of the Middle East 1900-1960” (London: John Murray, 2003) pg. 334

[8] Lawrence James, “Churchill and Empire: Portrait of an Imperialist” (London: Pheonix, 2013) pg.326

[9] Holden & Johns, op., cit. Pg. 135

[10] Rubin, “The Great Powers in the Middle East 1941-1947”, op., cit., pg. 64

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