Archive | July 26th, 2016

How the United States Government Obstructs Peace for I$raHell/Palestine

NOVANEWS

[Prefatory Note: I am posting a foreword written a year ago encouraging readers to engage with this extremely well argued book,Obstacle to Peace by Jeremy Hammond, which advances an important double understanding: the controversial assertion that the United States Government has not only taken Israel’s side in diplomatic negotiation between Israel and Palestine, but has actively opposed all moves toward the establishment of an independent sovereign state for the Palestinian people (meaning that the American endorsement of the two-state mantra as the consensus formula for peace was a deliberate official lie) and secondly, if this obstacle were removed the prospects for peace between these two peoples would greatly improve. Jeremy Hammond’s indispensable book can be ordered from Amazon, having been recently published by Worldview Publications in Cross Village, Michigan. For some the position taken in the book will be controversial as it amounts to a radical rehabilitation of the two-state consensus at a time when many believe that the settlement dynamic has proceeded past the point of reversibility and the Israeli leadership is positioning itself step by step to embrace a Zionist version of a unilaterally imposed one-state solution to the conflict.  Even if this is so, Hammond’s book valuably clarifies the context of past diplomacy, and sets the conditions for any constructive reconstruction of a negotiated and mutually agreed settlement of the conflict in ways that give reasonable hopes of a sustainable peace.]

Foreword to Jeremy R. Hammond’s Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

There is a widening public recognition around the world that diplomacy as it has been practiced with respect to resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine has failed despite being a major project of the United States Government for more than two decades. Actually, worse than failure, this stalled diplomacy has allowed Israel, by stealth and defiance, to pursue relentlessly its vision of a greater Israel under the unyielding protective cover of American support. During this period, the Palestinian territorial position has continuously worsened, and the humanitarian ordeal of the Palestinian people has become ever more acute.

An acknowledgement of this unsatisfactory status quo has led European governments belatedly to question their deference to American leadership in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has also persuaded more and more social activists in civil society in this country and elsewhere to rely on nonviolent tactics of solidarity with Palestinian resistance, especially by way of the BDS Campaign that has been gathering momentum in the last year; and it is approaching a tipping point that seems to be making Israeli leaders noticeably nervous. Both of these challenges to the Oslo diplomatic approach are based on the belief that Israel has demonstrated its unwillingness to reach a political compromise with Palestine on the basis of a negotiated settlement even within a biased ‘peace process’ overseen by the US as partisan intermediary. In effect, there will not be solution to the conflict without the exertion of greatly increased international pressures on Israel to scale back its territorial ambitions. Such an outlook reflects the influential view that the time has come to resort to coercive means to induce Israeli leaders and Zionists everywhere to rethink their policy options along more enlightened lines. The implicit goal is that by means of this pressure from without, a “South African solution” will suddenly emerge as a result of an abrupt turnaround in Israeli policy.

Jeremy Hammond offers readers another approach, not incompatible with mounting pressure, and maybe complementary with it. In this meticulously researched, lucidly reasoned, and comprehensively narrated book, Hammond insists that not only has the Oslo style “peace process” turned out to be a bridge to nowhere, but that the United States Government, in criminal complicity with Israel, has actively and deliberately opposed any steps that could result in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Such an assessment poses a frontal challenge to the universally affirmed two-state supposed goal of these negotiations. Even Netanyahu has, at times, given lip service to an endorsement of a Palestinian state—although in the heat of an electoral campaign a few months ago he showed his true hand to the Israeli public by promising that no Palestinian state would come into being as long as he was prime minister. Netanyahu’s flight from hypocrisy was further reinforced by appointing Danny Danon, a longtime extremist opponent of Palestinian statehood, as the next Israeli ambassador to the UN, which can also be interpreted as another slap in Obama’s face. In this regard, it was the White House that did the heavy lifting to keep alive as long as possible the credibility of the flawed Oslo peace promise by insisting that this was the one and only path to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a refusal to adjust to this new Israeli posture, in Washington and at the UN, there is no departure from the consensus that a directly negotiated “two state solution” is the only path to peace, coupled with the totally fatuous tactical priority that what would alone be helpful is to persuade the parties to return to the negotiating table.  Recent American presidents are all on record as devoting their maximum effort to reach these discredited goals and treat all other tactics employed on behalf of the Palestinians as “obstacles” that set back the prospect of ending the conflict. The US Government joins with Israel in condemning all forms of international pressures to alter the status quo of the occupation, including Palestinian initiatives to be acknowledged as a full-fledged state within the UN System (a seemingly uncontroversial sequel to receiving diplomatic recognition as a state by more than 120 members of the UN) or to seek remedies for their grievance by recourse to the International Criminal Court. The United State has helped Israel use the Oslo peace process as a holding operation that gives Tel Aviv the time it needs to undermine once and for all Palestinian expectations of Israeli withdrawal and Palestinian sovereign rights. The whole Israeli idea is to make the accumulation of facts on the ground (that is, the unlawful settlement archipelago, its supportive Jews-only road network, and the unlawful separation wall) into “the new normal” that paves the way for a unilaterally imposed Israeli one-state solution combined with either Palestinian Bantuization or third class citizenship in an enlarged Israel.

It is against this background that Hammond’s book breaks new ground in ways that fundamentally alter our understanding of the conflict and how to resolve it. His abundantly documented major premise is that Israel could not proceed with its plans to take over the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem without the benefits flowing from its “special relationship” with the United States. The perfidious reality that Hammond exposes beyond reasonable doubt is that the United States has been an essential collaborator in a grotesque double deception: falsely pretending to negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian state while doing everything within its power to ensure that Israel has the time it needs to make such an outcome a practical impossibility. This American role has included the geopolitical awkwardness of often standing alone in shielding Israel from all forms of UN censure for its flagrant violations of international law, which has included mounting evidence of an array of crimes against humanity.

As Hammond convincingly explains, the structures of government in the United States have been subverted to the extent that it is implausible to expect any alteration of this pattern of American unconditional support for Israel, at least in relation to the Palestinians, to come from within the government. Hammond also portrays the mainstream media as complementing this partisan governmental role, indicting particularly the New York Times as guilty of one-sided journalism that portrays the conflict in a manner that mostly accords with Israeli propaganda and sustains the malicious myth that the US is doing everything possible to achieve a solution in the face of stubborn Palestinian rejectionism. In this regard, Hammond informs readers in his preface that Obstacle to Peace is explicitly written to wake up the American people to these overriding realities with the intention of providing the tools needed by the public to challenge the special relationship on behalf of justice and the national interests and values of the American republic. Without making the argument overtly, Hammond is providing the public with the sorts of understanding denied to it by a coopted media. What Hammond does for the reader is to show in painstaking detail and on the basis of an impressive accumulation of evidence what an objective account of Israeli-Palestinian relations looks like, including by correcting the gross misreporting of the interactions in Gaza that have led to a series of wars waged by the totally dominant armed forces of Israel against the completely vulnerable civilian population of Gaza. In an illuminating sense, if the media was properly doing its job of objective reporting, Hammond’s book would be almost superfluous. Hammond’s democratic major premise is that if Americans know the truth about Israeli-Palestinian relations, there will result a mobilization of opposition that produces a new political climate in which elected leaders will be forced to heed the will of the people and do the right thing.

In a fundamental respect, Hammond is hopeful as well as brave, as he seems firmly convinced that Israel could not continue with its unjust and criminal policies if it truly loses the United States as its principal enabler. It is in this primary sense, as conveyed by book’s title, that the United States is the obstacleto peace; but if this obstacle could be removed, then the shift in the power balance would force Israel to face the new realities and presumably allow the Palestinians to obtain their fully sovereign state and, with it, reasonable prospects for a sustainable peace.  It needs to be appreciated that Hammond is writing as someone with a radical faith in the power of a properly informed citizenry to transform for the better the policies of the American republic, both with respect to the government and the media linkages that connect state and society with respect to the agenda of public policy.

In my view, Obstacle to Peace is the book we have long needed, utterly indispensable for a correct understanding of why the conflict has not been resolved up to this point, and further, why the path chosen makes a just and sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine a “mission impossible.” Hammond goes further than this devastating exposure of past policy failures by offering guidelines for what he sensibly believes is the only viable way forward. Only the future will determine whether a grassroots movement can induce a repudiation of the dysfunctional special relationship, and if this should happen, whether it then leads Israel to act rationally to uphold its own security by finally agreeing to the formation of a Palestinian state. In Hammond’s view, ending the occupation and securing Palestinian statehood is the immediate goal of a reconstructed diplomacy, but not necessarily the end point of conflict resolution. He defers consideration of whether a unified secular state is the best overall solution until the Palestinians as a state are able to negotiate on the basis of equality with Israel, and then to be in a position to rely on diplomacy to finally fulfill their right of return, which has been deferred far too long.

In the end, Hammond’s extremely instructive book provides a fact-based overall account of the major facets of this complex relationship between Israel and Palestine and can be read as a plea to Americans to reclaim historical agency and act as citizens, not subjects. This plea is not primarily about the improper use of taxpayer revenues, but is concerned with activating the soul of American democracy in such a way that enables the country once more to act as a benevolent force in the world and, most concretely, to create the conditions that would bring peace with justice to the Palestinian people.

With the greatest admiration for Hammond’s achievement in this book, I would point out finally that Obstacle to Peace is about more than the Israel-Palestine relationship and can be read beneficially with these larger concerns in mind. It is, above all, about the destruction of trust in the relationship between government and citizens, and about the disastrous failures of the media to serve as the vigilant guardian of truth and fact in carrying out its journalistic duties in a manner that befits a free society. Israel-Palestine is a powerfully reasoned and fully evidenced case study and critique of the systemic malady of contemporary American democracy that threatens the wellbeing of the country as never before.

Richard Falk

Yalikavak, Turkey

August 2015

 

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Britain’s ‘Forgotten Generation’ Of Impoverished, Mentally Damaged Military Veterans

NOVANEWS

Military veterans who join young and have difficult backgrounds are most likely to suffer once they leave the services, a new study has found.

The investigation, titled “The New Frontline,” looks at a number of issues faced by Britain’s younger generation of veterans.

It was organized by the armed forces charity SSAFA to look at what the group’s director calls a “forgotten generation” of veterans who are scraping by on low incomes with few prospects.

“Our research has identified a cohort of veterans living in pretty desperate circumstances, often through no fault of their own. These men and women are not fulfilling their potential in civilian life; their plight is too easily ignored,” former Air Vice-Marshal David Murray said in the report.

The study found that of 1,000 veterans under 65 polled around half do not have enough money to buy basic essentials and up to half are out of work.

Those who joined up young, and who had traumatic childhoods, were found to be more likely to struggle later.

The study draws upon a number of case studies.

David Swift, who enlisted at age 17 and served in the infantry, was active in Bosnia.

He told SSAFA that when soldiers leave the military “you don’t know how to be a civilian. All your bills have been paid for you, you don’t have to want for anything, you have people doing lots for you, and all you have to do is your job.

I had gone from being this tough young lad who believed himself to be the best of the best to being a very depressed guy who couldn’t do anything.

“I felt I had no one with me after having 600 to 800 lads around me.”

Feelings of isolation can be exacerbated by mental health issues. The charity found “six out of 10 SSAFA veterans have been formally diagnosed as currently suffering from depression, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other conditions.

The report showed the highest rates of PTSD are among First Gulf War veterans, at 49 percent, with Falklands War veterans in second place at 46 percent.

Afghanistan and Iraq veterans have the third and fourth highest rates with 43 percent and 41 percent respectively.

Commenting on the report, Field Marshall Lord Guthrie, a former head of the army, said: “It identifies a group of veterans who feel undervalued and under-appreciated, who are slipping through the net when we, as a society, could prevent that happening.”

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Turkey Distances Itself From The U.S. And NATO

President Erdogan is pursuing ethnically narrow, Turkish-chauvinist, domestic and foreign policy. (Photo: Russia Today)

Cross-posted from View from the Left Bank.

Some Background

The aftershocks of the failed military coup in Turkey are resonating. Nearly 2,500 upper level military personnel, including more than 100 generals sacked and many arrested. 6,000 members of the judiciary, who sometimes challenged Tayyip Erdogan’s policies, fired along with 8,000 Turkish policemen. Several hundred people were killed, thousands wounded.

While considerable confusion remains concerning the origins of the recent Turkish coup attempt, the geopolitical outlines of where “post-coup” Turkey is headed are coming into focus. A little background on the flurry of Turkey’s diplomatic initiatives that preceded the recent “coup attempt” are in order. As they were intense suggesting that a shift in Turkey’s political posture was in order. Besides initiating an extensive purge of the Turkish military and judiciary, Turkish President Erdogan appears to be setting Turkish regional political posture on a new direction.

Erdogan is pursuing an ethnically narrow, Turkish chauvinist domestic and foreign policy. The repression at home is closely connected to his regional foreign policy initiatives that are taking shape. His domestic moves come in the aftermath of the crackdown of some regional allies, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Ennahda party of Tunisia. In the face of growing opposition because of chronic mismanagement, Ennahda, essentially the Tunisian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, was forced to retrench and cede some of its power. In part, Erdogan’s current violent crackdown on dissent can be seen as a kind of pre-emptive move, an effort to deny the military an opportunity at some later date to seize power a la Egypt. At first glance it appears that the repression has succeeded, at least in the short run.

From all appearances, domestically Turkey under Erdogan, never that openly democratic a place, has become that much more authoritarian over the past two years. Freedom of press has been severely repressed with journalists arrested. After what looked like a political settlement with the country’s Kurds was in the making, Erdogan backed away and has treated the country’s largest minority with increasing repression that has included several massacres of Kurdish villages in the southeast.

More recently Erdogan pushed through legislation in the Turkish parliament that eliminates immunity for parliament members from persecution, opening the door to crack down on the country’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, which brings together different strands of Turkey’s democratic movement. It is as if Erdogan was preparing for something even bigger, a “something” that became more obvious in the aftermath of the attempted coup when a wholesale wave of repression (see below) was unleashed.

Erdogan has pursued a domestic heavy hand in order to eliminate opposition to his regional policy whose outlines include denying the Kurds of Syria any opportunity to become an independent state, refocusing Turkey’s regional policy somewhat away from Europe and NATO. The shift entails making overtures, strengthening relations with a number of regional powers, especially Iran, Russia and Israel.

By all appearances, Turkey is starting to distance itself from Washington and NATO — the question is to what extent. To what degree will this affect the presence of one of Washington’s main military bases, Incirlik, in the southeastern corner of Turkey? It is easy for too many to forget that the United States has hydrogen and atomic bombs at Incirlik and that when there is turmoil the shadow of nuclear war is not far away. It is estimated that as many as 80 nuclear weapons, both hydrogen and atomic bombs are housed there in striking distance of most of the Middle East and southern Russia.

Keep in mind that in the recent decade the United States has had a difficult time “reigning in” its regional allies. Supposed allies in the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States were behind the scenes at each other’s throats as the Pakistani intelligence agency gave support to the Taliban (and still does) that U.S.-led armies were trying to defeat.

The Obama Administration’s relations with two other strategic allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are extremely strained, most recently over the Obama Administration’s support for the Iran nuclear deal which basically short-circuited any pipedreams that Washington was preparing military intervention against Teheran which both the Saudis and Israelis supported. The personal relations between Obama and Netanyahu, and Obama and the royal family have never been worse. Perhaps that means less than meets the eye with the US Congress voting record-breaking military aid to Israel and the administration selling enormous amounts of arms to the Saudis.

The strategic alliances remain in place, but not without historically unprecedented strains as Israel, Saudi Arabia and now Turkey embrace, each in their own manner, their own narrow, jingoistic regional nationalist goals which bode ill for the people of Yemen, the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and more generally, regional peace. These are three countries with strong militaries; all have expansionist regional goals that sooner or later are bound to collide against one another.

They all understand that today, the United States – despite its military might – is politically weaker and cannot dictate policy as it did in the past. These same countries also understand that U.S. Syria policy is in shambles and it is about to backfire on their national territories, either in terms of increased terrorist activities, unmanageable refugee problems or some combination thereof.

Turkey and Syria

As one columnist aptly put it “Post-Coup Turkey will be distinctly Eurasian.” Having been repeatedly rebuffed in its efforts to join the European Community – which in the end is the result of little more than European racism against a Muslim country – Turkey is “turning east.” At the same time tensions between Ankara and Washington over Syrian policy have essentially boiled over, over the Kurdish question.

All this is playing out in both Syria and Iraq at the present moment where the alliance of forces involved is shifting, if not coming apart. Turkey has been a key link in the Syrian crisis, providing an open gateway to Syrian Islamic rebels entering Syria from the north, that included military, political support. Turkey fears the consequences of an independent Kurdish state on its southern border that Washington is trying to put together.

Whatever is happening domestically within Turkey, regionally, Turkey is cooling to its role of being one of Washington’s main, if not the main, whipping boys in Syria. The Turks are coming to the understanding, as did the Russians and Iranians – and perhaps even the Israelis – that the dismemberment of Syria will destabilize the entire region that much more and affect their national security. Of course the Turks have come to this realization late in the game, only after it became more evident that Assad would not fall the way that Khadaffi and Saddam Hussein did.

Turkey “Makes Nice” with Russia, Israel and Iran

There are unquestionable signs of the Turkish shift. The shifts suggest a fluid system of regional alliances and adversaries, made complex by the presence of both regional and global players. These shifts are admittedly difficult – but not impossible to follow. Sooner or later, in this case the Turkish coup crisis, the main themes previously refined behind closed doors have burst forth in the open.

As relations with Washington and NATO become more strained, those with regional powers, Russia, Israel (yes, Israel) and Iran are warming as Ankara has been on a “let’s make nice” campaign with all three – suggesting that when the political will is there, countries that appear at odds with one another can find common ground and do so rather quickly. The United States is annoyed and embarrassed that the Erdogan government has alleged “an American hand” in the present coup attempt (as if Washington never engaged in such!). What is more, as an Indian commentator has pointed out, “The Turkish allegation has no precedent in NATO’s 67-year old history – of one member plotting regime change in another member’s country through violent means.”

Can it be a mere seven months ago that Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter that had wandered somewhere near the Turkish-Syrian border? At the time, edged on by NATO, it looked as if relations between Ankara and Moscow, neighbors with a long history and important trading partners, were headed for the dumpster. Angry words were exchanged, Russia cut off trade relations and tourism. But lately, a few weeks prior to the attempted coup – or whatever it was – the two “made nice” to one another. As MK Badrakumar points out,

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN DID ON SUNDAY WHAT NO MAJOR WESTERN LEADER FROM THE NATO MEMBER COUNTRIES CARED TO DO WHEN HE TELEPHONED HIS TURKISH COUNTERPART RECEP ERDOGAN TO CONVEY HIS SYMPATHY, GOODWILL AND BEST WISHES FOR THE LATTER’S SUCCESS IN RESTORING CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER AND STABILITY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER THE ATTEMPTED COUP FRIDAY NIGHT.

Having been repulsed by the economic integration that it sought with the European Union, Turkey is more and more gravitating towards putting its economic eggs within a Eurasian basket. Turkey is once again warming to what is referred to as the Balkan Stream Megaproject, a Russian-based project to link central Europe and western Eurasia in an energy pipeline nexus from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Mediterranean in the South.

At the same time Turkish-Russian relations rebounded, tensions between Turkey and Israel lessened as well. Washington’s two key strategic allies had gotten into a diplomatic tiff (it was never more than that) after Israeli commandos attacked the MV Mavi Marmara attempting to bring humanitarian aid and to break the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza. Ten died and several dozen participants on the ship were wounded or injured. But less than a month ago, on June 27, 2016, a new deal was announced in Ankara by Israeli Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. My reading of the deal is that Israel, anxious to break out of its regional isolation has agreed to most of the Turkey’s terms, including Turkish access to Gaza to build a hospital there.

Since the Iranian nuclear deal was reached last summer (July, 2015), Turkey and Iran have been quietly improving economic relations. Turkey is wooing Iran as a potentially lucrative market of trade and investment. Despite the fact that the two countries are on opposite sides of Syrian conflict, there are reports that the two countries have plans to increase trade over the next two years by $30 billion. That Iran hopes to maintain its good relations with Turkey can be seen in Teheran’s support of Erdogan’s crushing “the coup.” Iranian foreign minister (and University of Denver Korbel School of International Studies graduate) Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced support for Turkey’s “brave defense of democracy.”

Pepe Escobar’s Article in Asia Times

In an article entitled “Hell Hath No Fury Like A Teflon Sultan Pepe Escobar, writing for The Asian Times (and republished elsewhere) talks in detail about the unfolding of the Turkish coup. A little about Escobar before proceeding. Pepe Escobar is a Brazilian journalist whose specialty is global political developments, otherwise known as geo-politics. He writes what might be called “Gonzo political economy” (a la Hunter Thompson). Funny and  irreverent, I have found that like British journalist and long time Middle East commentator, Robert Fisk, and former Indian diplomat, Bhadrakumar Melkulangara, he is always worth reading. Escobar seems to have pretty good sources “with the powers that be” (like Seymour Hersh) and that if he is not on the mark, he is close.

According to Escobar, although the origins of the coup attempt – or is it “coup attempt” – remain murky, what is emerging from the chaos is that Erdogan is engineering a geo-political shift in Turkey’s politics that could have far-reaching consequences. The problem here is NOT that the U.S. engages in conspiracies. A good part of U.S. foreign policy – the dark side, that is – is filled with them. The problem is teasing out the genuine conspiracies from the bogus ones.

At this point there are two contradictory explanations (probably more actually) to what happened. One line of reasoning is that this whole episode is little more than what is called “a false flag” operation initiated by Erdogan himself to purge his internal enemies so that he can pursue his shift in regional policy without internal opposition. The other explanation is that the coup is the work of the C.I.A. (and thus the Obama Administration) working through well-financed Turkish Muslim in political exile in the United States Fethullah Gulem, who engineered the coup because Erdogan is drifting away from playing the role the United States wants him to play (i.e., shifting position on Syria, disagreements over the Kurds, the Eurasian drift.)

It is still too early to tell which of these scenarios, in whole or in part, are valid, i.e., what did happen in Turkey these past days and why. But what is less debatable is the geopolitical shift that Erdogan is attempting to engineer, although the extent of the shift and what it means to Turkey’s relations with the United States and NATO are still up in the air.

The essence of Escobar article are the following points:

  1. That the preliminary evidence suggests that the coup was something of a staged operation in which Erdogan had a hand – Escobar gives many examples of his suspicions. He is careful though NOT to openly call it an Erdogan-engineered conspiracy, although the evidence presented in the article certainly suggests as much. Melkulangara’s first post-coup analyses seem to point in the same direction.
  2. Escobar downplays the role of Fetullah Gulen, the Obama Administration and the C.I.A. in orchestrating the coup, although he does not rule it out. If the Obama Administration was involved, he thinks, it is because of the split in the ruling class between the Obama Administration itself and “the Beltway/Neo-Con/CIA axis” – in which the differing elements of the U.S. global power structure are actually working against one another.

An interesting and from where I am sitting, not incredible, hypothesis.

All this suggests that the origins of the coup continue to remain murky although, regardless, its consequences are becoming clearer – a geopolitical shift in Turkey’s regional political role that is bound to cause tensions with Washington and NATO – and has already forced Turkey to mend fences with Russia, Israel and Iran. The question remains to be seen – a minor shift or something actually pulling Turkey into new geopolitical waters.

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GOP Senator Ernst: Daesh Exists In All 50 US States

NOVANEWS

US Senator Joni Ernst says the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group has a presence in all 50 American states.

Ernst made the remarks on Monday while speaking on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where speakers slammed President Barack Obama’s and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s record on fighting the Takfiri group.

“This administration has called [Daesh] junior varsity adversaries, ignoring some of the best advice they were given,” Ernst said. “They represent a threat that is not limited to the Middle East, and which is spreading rapidly.”

“In fact, according to the FBI, ISIS is present in all 50 states,” she added. “Terrorists from ISIS are in every one of our 50 states. They will use whatever weapons they have: guns, trucks, knives, poisons, and bombs to kill innocent people.”

Ernst’s comments appeared to be based on a statement made by FBI Director James Comey last year when he said…

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The Distinction Between Terrorism And Insurgency

Nauman Sadiq

The definition of the term “terrorism” has been deliberately left undefined by the Western powers to use it as an umbrella-pretext to justify their interventionist policy in the energy-rich Islamic countries for their economic interests. Depending on context “terrorism” can mean two very different things: religious extremism or militancy. If it means religious extremism then that is a cultural mindset and you cannot possibly hope to transform cultures through the agency of war and military intervention; if anything, war will further radicalize the society.

However, by “terrorism” if they mean militancy then tamping down on militancy and violence through the agency of war does makes sense because a policy of disarmament and deweaponization can be subsequently pursued in the occupied territories. That being understood that the Western powers aim to eradicate militancy through wars, but then a question arises that who were the Libyan and Syrian so-called “rebels” who were, and still are, being supported by the Western powers in their purported wars of “liberation” of those hapless countries? Are they not militants?

Notwithstanding, it can be argued that war and militancy are just means to an end and it’s the objectives and goals that determine whether such wars are just or unjust. No-one can dispute this assertion that the notions of “just wars” and “good militants” do exist in the vocabulary; empirically speaking, however, after witnessing the instability, violence and utter chaos and anarchy in the war-ravaged countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, the onus lies on any “liberal interventionist” to prove beyond doubt that the wars and militants that he justifies and upholds are indeed just and good.

In political science the devil always lies in the definitions of the terms that we employ. For instance: how do you define a terrorist or a militant? In order to understand this we need to identify the core of a “militant,” that what essential feature distinguishes him from the rest? A militant is basically an armed and violent individual who carries out acts of sabotage against the state. That being understood, now we need to examine the concept of “violence.” Is it violence per se that is wrong, or does some kind of justifiable violence exists?

In the contemporary politics, I take the view, on empirical grounds, that all kinds of violence is essentially wrong; because the ends (goals) for which such violence is often employed are seldom right and elusive at best. Though, democracy and liberal ideals are cherished goals but such goals can only be accomplished through peaceful means; expecting from the armed and violent militants to bring about democratic reform is preposterous.

The Western mainstream media and its neoliberal constituents, however, take a different view. According to them, there are two kinds of violence: justifiable and unjustifiable. When a militant resorts to violence for the secular and nationalist goals, such as “bringing democracy” to Libya and Syria, the misinformed neoliberals enthusiastically exhort such form of violence; however, if such militants later turn out to be Islamic jihadists, like the Libya Dawn or the Islamic State, al Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham in Syria, the credulous neoliberals, who have been misinformed by the mainstream narrative, promptly make a volte-face and label them as “terrorists.”

More to the point, there is a big difference between an anarchist and a nihilist: an anarchist believes in something and wants to change the status quo in favor of that belief, while a nihilist believes is nothing and considers life to be meaningless. Similarly, there is also a not-so-subtle difference between a terrorist and an insurgent: an Islamic insurgent believes in something and wants to enforce that agenda in the insurgency-hit regions, while a terrorist is just a bloodthirsty lunatic who is hell-bent on causing death and destruction. The distinguishing feature between the two is that an insurgent has well defined objectives and territorial ambitions, while a terrorist is basically motivated by the spirit of revenge and the goal of causing widespread fear.

The phenomena of terrorism is that which threatened the Western countries between 2001 to 2005 when some of the most audacious terrorist acts were carried out by al Qaeda against the Western targets like the 9/11 tragedy, the Madrid bombing in 2004 and the London bombing in 2005; or the terrorist acts committed by Islamic State in Paris and Brussels in the last year; those acts were primarily the result of the intelligence failure on the part of the Western intelligence agencies.

However, the phenomena which is currently threatening the Islamic countries is not terrorism, as such, but Islamic insurgencies. Excluding al Qaeda Central which is a known transnational terrorist organization, all the regional militant groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, al Shabab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria, and even some of the ideological affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State, like Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, Islamic State affiliates in Afghanistan, Sinai and Libya which have no organizational and operational association with al Qaeda Central or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, respectively, are not terror groups, as such, but Islamic insurgents who are fighting for the goal of enforcing Sharia in their respective areas of control; like their progenitor, the Salafist State of Saudi Arabia.

After invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, and when the American “nation-building” projects failed in those hapless countries, the US’ policy-makers immediately realized that they were facing large-scale and popularly-rooted insurgencies against the foreign occupation, consequently, the occupying military altered its CT (counter-terrorism) approach in the favor of a COIN (counter-insurgency) strategy. A COIN strategy is essentially different from a CT approach and it also involves dialogue, negotiations and political settlements, alongside the coercive tactics of law enforcement and military and paramilitary operations on a limited scale.

The goals for which the Islamic insurgents have been fighting in the insurgency-wracked regions are irrelevant for the debate at hand; it can be argued, however, that if some of the closest Western allies in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, have already enforced Sharia as part of their conservative legal systems and when beheadings, amputations of limbs and flogging of the criminals are a routine in Saudi Arabia, then what is the basis for the US’ declaration of war against the Islamic insurgents in the Middle East who are erroneously but deliberately labeled as “terrorists” by the Western mainstream media to manufacture consent for the Western military presence and interventions in the energy-rich region under the pretext of the so-called “war on terror?”

Notwithstanding, the root factors that are primarily responsible for spawning militancy and insurgency anywhere in the world is not religion but socio-economics, ethnic differences, marginalization of disenfranchised ethno-linguistic and ethno-religious groups and the ensuing conflicts; socio-cultural backwardness of the affected regions, and the weak central control of the impoverished developing states over their remote rural and tribal areas.

Additionally, if we take a cursory look at some of the worst insurgency-plagued regions in the Middle East, deliberate funding, training and arming of certain militant groups by the regional and global powers for their strategic interests has played the key role. Back in the ‘80s, during the Soviet-Afghan war, the Afghan so-called “mujahideen” did not spring up spontaneously out of nowhere; Western powers, with the help of Saudi money and Pakistan’s ISI, trained and armed those “freedom fighters” against their archrival, the Soviet Union. Those very same Afghan “mujahideen” later transmuted into Taliban and al Qaeda.

Similarly, during the Libyan and Syrian uprisings, the Western powers, with the help of their regional client states, once again trained and armed Islamic jihadists and tribal militiamen against the “unfriendly” regimes of Qaddafi and Bashar al Assad. And isn’t it ironic that those very same “moderate rebels” later transformed into Ansar al Sharia, al Nusra Front and Islamic State?

While formulating their security policies, military strategists generally draw a distinction between the intentions and capability of the adversary, and they always prepare for the latter. Similarly, the ideology of the militants, whether it’s ethno-religious or ethno-nationalist, only has a tangential importance; it’s their capability: that is, their funding, training and arming that decides the strength and success of a militant organization.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on The Distinction Between Terrorism And Insurgency

When Your So-Called ‘Moderate’ Rebels Behead an 11-Year-Old Boy

NOVANEWS

 

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You may have seen the reports circulating concerning the beheading of a child in Syria.

The horrendous scenes of the beheading of a young Palestinian boy by Saudi Zio-Wahhabi rat’s called ‘Nour-Al-Din Al-Zenki’ has been all over social media in the past couple of days. This particularly Wahhabi barbaric crime was carried out not by ISIL/ISIS nor by Al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda, but by members of one of the so-called ‘moderate’ rebel groups that is backed by the United States and other Western allies.

The boy is reported by some to have been as young as 11 years old.

The child in question was accused of fighting for the Al-Quds Brigade, which is a Palestinian resistance group fighting on the side of the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army.

The generally reliable Al-Masdar News reported that, ‘The child, who is ostensibly under the age of 12, was arrested by Islamist militants fighting for the Turkish-backed Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement for allegedly being a fighter of the Palestinian Liwaa Al Quds (Al-Quds Brigade)… Liwaa Al Quds is a pro- government Palestinian paramilitary faction made up of the Palestinians who have been driven out of their homes in the Handarat Camp once Islamist militants took over the neighborhood… The sickening video shows a knife-wielding fighter beheading the child who has been laid down on the trunk with his hand cuffed behind his back.’

Video footage is available, but I’d generally recommend not watching it.

The Daily Beast confirmed, “The front includes not only hardline Salafist factions from the groups known as the Islamic Front but more moderate brigades like the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Mujahideen Army and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, a militia that has also received TOW missiles from Washington in the past.”

This wouldn’t actually be the first time by any means that Saudi Zio-Wahhabi groups – including so-called ‘moderate’ factions – have murdered children. Similar crimes go back to the earliest months of the fighting in Syria, in which some of the worst and most inhuman crimes had been carried out by members of the ‘moderate’ Free Syrian Army.

While it is widely disputed that there were *ever* any ‘moderate’ factions fighting against the government in Syria (moderate protesters, yes – but ‘moderate’ armed groups, not so much), Western officials have tried to maintain that illusion for the entirety of the Syrian Civil War, even after the emergence of ISIL/ISIS, and have continued with that illusion right up until today. Aside from the comedy act of the US State Department, David Cameron was also, months ago, still insisting that the West was supporting ‘moderate fighters’ in Syria – even though there has never been any proof produced to demonstrate this (and plenty of testimony to suggest the opposite).

Months ago, when Western officials condemned the Assad government for breaking the ceasefire and attacking ‘moderate opposition’ in Aleppo, it turned out these ‘moderates’ were Al-Qaeda affiliates.

Now the US State Department is having to backpedal and consider disavowing armed forces it previously insisted were ‘moderate opposition’ – though this distancing act probably won’t last too long. From the very beginning of the conflict, Western officials were throwing the ‘moderate opposition’ camouflage over highly questionable groups that foreign powers were arming in the first place (many of the fighters also being foreign).

Just as in Libya, all armed factions were called ‘moderates’ – then, much later, when ‘ISIS’ emerged and the Al-Qaeda element became obvious, the propaganda strategy evolved to ‘well, ok, there are some extremist groups – but we’re just going to support the moderates now…’

The reality is that there is no distinction anymore. The bullshit goes on. As does the barbarism.

Meanwhile, the French Air-Force – according to some, in ‘revenge’ for Nice – is reported to have killed up to 100 civilians in Syria during intended strikes against ISIS targets. It is alleged that ISIS has been using civilians as human shields again, though in a separate incident an airstrike by the United States appears to have killed some 60 further civilians.

Related: Aleppo: The Propaganda War‘, ‘Syria Airstrikes & the Myth of the Moderate Fighters‘, ‘ISIS, Captagon, the Nazis & the Drug-Fueled Frenzies in Libya/Syria‘…

Posted in SyriaComments Off on When Your So-Called ‘Moderate’ Rebels Behead an 11-Year-Old Boy

Syria: US imposes new sanctions on government

NOVANEWS

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Adam J. Szubin, US Treasury Department’s acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence

The United States has imposed new sanctions on Syria, targeting the arms and financial networks of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Department of the Treasury on Thursday included eight individuals and seven entities to its sanctions blacklist, which aims to cut them out of the global financial system.

The Treasury said the Syrian firm Hesco Engineering and Construction is operating energy production facilities in Syria, and added its Russia-based representatives to the sanctions list.

The Treasury also claimed that Yona Star International and T-Rubber are supplying the Syrian defense ministry, air force and other military bodies from their international offices and slapped sanctions on them.

Sanctions were also imposed on many individuals and businesses involved in international money transfers.

Adam Szubin, Treasury Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said the Assad government is engaged in “destabilizing behavior.”

“Treasury will continue to act against those responsible for fueling the Assad regime’s repressive actions and dangerous weapons proliferation,” Szubin added.

Since March 2011, the United States and its regional allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been conducting a proxy war against Syria.

The conflict has left more than 470,000 Syrians dead and half of the country’s population of about 23 million displaced within or beyond the Arab country’s borders.

In September 2014, the US and some of its allies started conducting airstrikes inside Syria against Daesh terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA to fight against the Syrian government.

In September of last year, Russia launched its own air offensive against the terrorists who were still wreaking havoc in Syria. The Russian campaign, analysts say, has broken the backbone of ISIL and other militants.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Syria: US imposes new sanctions on government

Hezbollah thumbs the nose at I$raHell

NOVANEWS
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By M K Bhadrakumar

The successful mission by a Hezbollah drone entering Israeli air space in the Golan Heights and taking photographs is a significant development at various levels. At its most obvious, Hezbollah has mocked Israel’s vaunted air superiority. Three Israeli missiles, including one fired by an F-16, couldn’t bring down the drone which returned safely to Syria. For Israel, it amounts to a humiliating show of contempt by the Hezbollah. (Sputnik )

Second, Russian radar would have certainly picked up the drone, but did nothing about it. It is straight out of Sherlock Holmes – the dog didn’t bark. The bottom line is, neither will Russia rush to protect the Hezbollah nor move a little finger to deter it.

Third, of course, the drone is a technology demonstrator, underscoring Hezbollah’s growing capability to hit back at Israel if attacked. This particular drone probably didn’t carry weapons, but the next one always could.

To be sure, Israel can only wonder how Hezbollah has gained access to such sophisticated technology. From Russia? Or, Iran? Or, is it Hezbollah technology?

Then, there is the ‘big picture’. Israel has been reminded that Golan Heights is still a frontline. Israel’s best hope is that Syria will remain weak and fragmented with no central authority in Damascus to challenge its future annexation of the occupied territories in Golan Heights. Hezbollah may have signalled that that remains a pipedream. In fact, the Syrian government forces are incrementally gaining the upper hand on the ground. The blockade of Aleppo turns the tide of war. In a telling sign of the tide turning, there are reports that Turkey has sent ‘feelers’ to the Syrian government. (Guardian )

Now, the developments in Turkey can only mean that Ankara may roll back its intervention in Syria. Turkey’s focus is on preempting a Kurdistan taking shape on its borders with tacit US support (which Israel too welcomes) and on this platform Syria, Iran and Iraq are Ankara’s ‘natural allies’.

On the other hand, without Turkey, neither Saudi Arabia nor Qatar or the other Sheikhdoms in the Gulf would have the spunk to advance the ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria. Simply put, Israel is being reduced to a mute witness to dramatic changes and realignments in its very neighbourhood with no role or capacity to influence them politically or militarily. Arguably, Israel and Saudi Arabia are the biggest ‘losers’ in the failed coup in Turkey. Both will be desperately hoping that the US will come up with some bright idea to retrieve the Syrian situation at the 2-day anti-ISIS coalition conference taking place in Washington on July 20-21. But then, the Turkish-US standoff over the extradition of Fetullah Gulen has introduced new uncertainty regarding the US’ capacity to influence the course of events in Syria.

All in all, the drone provocation by Hezbollah calls attention to the big shift in the balance of forces in the Middle East as a result of the Syrian conflict. For the first time, Israel has to contend with superior military power in its neighborhood. Indeed, but for the Russian presence, Israeli jets would have been raining destruction on Syria by now in retaliation. Fortunately, Israel faces no ‘blowback’ as such from the ISIS or the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front — unlike Turkey or Saudi Arabia — for its intervention in the Syrian conflict. (Read an Iranian commentary Turkey Coup: Who Else Is Going the Way Of Iraq and Syria?)

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, LebanonComments Off on Hezbollah thumbs the nose at I$raHell

Gaza in Context ”VIDEO”

NOVANEWS

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Posted in GazaComments Off on Gaza in Context ”VIDEO”

Asking Teachers To Monitor Kids for ‘Extremist’ Beliefs, What Could Go Wrong?

NOVANEWS
By Danielle Jefferis 

Are these the tell-tale signs of kids at risk of committing violence: An 8-year-old who wore a t-shirt saying he wanted to be like a seventh-century Muslim leader? A 17-year-old who sought to draw attention to the water shortage in Gaza by handing out leaflets? A 4-year-old who drew a picture of his dad slicing a vegetable?

Teachers and school officials in the United Kingdom thought so, and they referred these children for investigation as potential terrorists. They were interrogated by U.K. law enforcement. They’re likely subject to ongoing monitoring, with details of their childhoods maintained in secret government files potentially indefinitely.

A report released last week by Rights Watch (UK) highlights these and other children’s experiences under a U.K. countering violent extremism (CVE) program known as Prevent. Prevent imposes a legal obligation on schools to implement policies assessing whether children have “extremist” views or are at risk of engaging in terrorism, and to “intervene as appropriate.” Intervention may include referring the child to a related program in which panels of police officers, teachers, and other government employees identify children they think are vulnerable to terrorist recruitment.

Why should any of this concern Americans? Because the FBI wants to do something a little bit too close for comfort in U.S. schools, and American schoolchildren may come under similar suspicion and scrutiny.

While there’s no similar government-imposed duty on American schools, U.S. CVE initiatives are based on the Prevent model. Due to this, a core component of the U.S. CVE plan tasks teachers, social workers, and school administrators with monitoring and reporting to law enforcement on children in their care. An FBI document released earlier this year tells teachers to spy on their students’ thoughts and suggests that administrators essentially turn schools into mini-FBI offices. Rights Watch’s report shows what might happen if American schools actually follow the FBI’s proposals.

Prevent, unsurprisingly, turns out to be controversial and divisive—a “toxic brand.” Earlier this year, the United Kingdom’s largest teachers union voted to reject the program, calling it ineffective and counterproductive and stating that it causes “suspicion in the classroom and confusion in the staff room.”

We’ve written before about one fundamental concern with CVE programs: They are premised on disproven theories and junk science. Despite years of study, there is no reliable indicator to predict who will engage in violence. In the absence of reliable indicators, the Rights Watch report shows that U.K. programs rely on over-broad and ambiguous criteria describing common and entirely innocent conduct. These so-called indicators include changing one’s style of dress or appearance to match a certain group, expressing a need for identity or belonging, or “becoming quieter” — factors so general it would be difficult to find a child or teenager who hasn’t exhibited such behavior at some point.

Unsurprisingly, when teachers are required to report on “extremist” thoughts or conduct using unreliable and vague criteria, some of those teachers’ suspicions reflect society’s prejudice. Rights Watch found that although Prevent purports to apply to all children at risk of extremism, it disproportionately targeted Muslim children. According to Rights Watch:

“[T]argeting Muslim children, making them feel that they are not welcome to discuss political or religious matters at school, and creating a dynamic in which Muslim youth come to be fearful of the educational setting and distrustful of their teachers and their classmates, is counter-productive, discriminatory, and a violation of the fundamental rights that are at the heart of the very civil society the government seeks to protect.”

CVE programs in the United States using similarly over-broad and ambiguous criteria will inevitably result in discriminatory and unfair targeting of American Muslim children, too.

Another concern about CVE programs is that the government uses them to task people to spy on each other. The Rights Watch report bears out this concern — and its consequences. In the U.K., students fear that reading “controversial” books or engaging in classroom discussion may cause teachers to report them as potential terrorists. Teachers in turn report that Muslim students are ceasing to engage in classroom debate and that teachers themselves are self-censoring the topics they discuss in classrooms. Rights Watch found resulting violations of students’ freedoms of speech and association and their rights to privacy and equal treatment in education.

Here in the United States, the first principle of the National Education Association’s Code of Ethics is a commitment to the student. Teachers may not deny a student’s access to different viewpoints, deliberately suppress or distort subject matter relevant to a student’s progress, or restrict benefits to any student on the basis of race, national origin, or political or religious beliefs. The Rights Watch report is a warning to American principals and teachers of how CVE programs can violate that first principle. It’s also a warning to the U.S. agencies charged with formulating or implementing CVE, including the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Education.

There are some things we just shouldn’t import — and on the top of that list should be a discriminatory government program that turns teachers into spies and stifles children’s ability to learn, ask questions, and debate ideas.

Posted in UKComments Off on Asking Teachers To Monitor Kids for ‘Extremist’ Beliefs, What Could Go Wrong?

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