Archive | October 6th, 2016

Nazi regime Worried about Russian S-300 Missiles


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The deployment of Russian SE-23 missiles to Syria undermines the Nazi Jewish regime deterrence against the Syrian military force and Hezbollah, and enhances the power of Iran indirectly, Zionist daily Yadiot Aharonot reported Wednesday.

“All of this gets here at a time where there is no confirmation that the Americans will take a move in Syria,” Yadiot Aharonot said.

The Zionist newspaper underlined that “installing the SE-23 anti-aircraft missiles by Russia in Syria is a bad news for Israel because the two installed models are able to “shoot down planes in Israeli airspace or over the sea and when Israeli aircraft attack targets inside Syria or Lebanon.”

“The Russians might use those missiles against our aerial activities in the region,” it added.

In a related development, the Zionist website Walla stated that Moscow’s decision to deploy modern S-300 missiles in naval bases in Syria will change the rules of the game, because it will restrict the “freedom of the Israeli air force in the Syrian airspace.”

“There is fear in the Israeli security service that this would increase the confidence of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and increase hostilities against Israel,” the Zionist website said.

For its part, Israel Hayom newspaper said that the battle for Aleppo has “painted a picture of the new world,” adding that “it is sad that the Americans have left the field to the Russians.”

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Nazi navy seizes Gaza-bound aid ship


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The Israeli navy has seized the Zaytouna-Oliva, a Gaza-bound aid ship, and is currently towing it towards the Israeli port city of Ashdod, according to the initiative’s organizers and reports in the Israeli media.

Sondos Ferwana, a media spokeswoman for the International Coalition for the Fourth Freedom Flotilla, told reporters on Wednesday evening that Israeli naval forces had “captured the ship”.

The Israeli military, for its part, confirmed the ship’s seizure in a statement.

“The Israeli Defense Forces managed to quickly seize the ship without causing any injuries among passengers,” the statement read.

According to the military, the crew of the Gaza-bound vessel had initially refused the navy’s orders to change course.

“This forced us to intervene and seize the ship before it violated the legal maritime closure imposed on the Gaza Strip,” the statement read.

According to reports on Israel’s Channel Two television station, the aid ship was intercepted — without resistance — some 80 kilometers off Gaza’s coast.

Ferwana, for her part, described the incident as “another act of Israeli piracy”, adding that all contact with the ship — which is carrying humanitarian aid and several female activists — had been lost.

“We don’t know the fate of the activists aboard,” she said.

Passengers on the Zaytouna-Oliva, which set sail from the Spanish city of Barcelona last month, include Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, Swedish and Algerian lawmakers, a South African Olympic athlete and a Malaysian doctor.

The all-female initiative seeks to break Israel’s decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip and show solidarity with the women of Gaza.

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, for its part, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, condemned what it described “the Israeli occupation’s assault on the aid ship and its intimidation of the activists on board”.

In a statement, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the incident amounted to “an act of state terrorism” and another example of Israeli “aggression against the Palestinian people and those who show solidarity with the Palestinian cause”.

Barhoum went on to urge the international community to “put an end to Israel’s crimes”, stressing the need for immediate action “to lift the blockade and rescue the people of Gaza”.

In June of last year, Israeli forces intercepted the “Marianne” — which had been taking part in a similar initiative — and arrested all activists on board.

A similar Gaza-bound aid flotilla ended in tragedy in 2010 when the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship, was raided by Israeli commandos who killed 10 Turkish activists.

Since 2007, the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has deprived its almost two million inhabitants of most basic commodities, including food, fuel, medicine and desperately-needed building materials.

In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the blockade of Gaza as “collective punishment”, which, he asserted, “suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts”.

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The Great Libya War Fraud


Media Lens

National newspapers were ‘unimpressed by Jeremy Corbyn’s victory’ in the Labour leadership election, Roy Greenslade noted in theGuardian, surprising no-one. Corbyn secured almost 62% of the 506,000 votes cast, up from the 59% share he won in 2015, ‘with virtually no press backing whatsoever’.

In reality, of course, Corbyn did not just lack press backing. He won in the face of more than one year of relentless corporate media campaigning to politically, ethically, professionally, psychologically and even sartorially discredit him. That Corbyn survived is impressive. That he won again, increased his vote-share, and took Labour Party membership from 200,000 to more than 500,000, is astonishing.

None of this moves journalists like the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who commented: ‘there’s been no big new idea or vision this week that Labour can suddenly rally round’.

Polly Toynbee explained: ‘I and many Guardian colleagues can’t just get behind Corbyn’. Why? ‘Because Corbyn and McDonnell, burdened by their history, will never ever earn the trust of enough voters to make any plans happen.’

Toynbee fails to recognise the nature and scale of the problem. In supporting Corbyn, the public is attempting to shape a genuinely democratic choice out of the sham choices of corporate-owned politics. This awesome task begins with the public waking up to the anti-democratic role of the corporate media in defending, of course, corporate-owned politics. So-called ‘mainstream media’ are primarily conduits for power rather than information; they are political enforcers, not political communicators. To the extent that the public understands this, change is possible.

Supported by non-corporate, web-based media activism, Corbyn has already smoked out these media to an extent that is without precedent. Many people can see that he is a reasonable, compassionate, decent individual generating immense grassroots support. And they can see that all ‘mainstream’ media oppose him. It could hardly be more obvious that the corporate media speak as a single biased, elitist voice.

The Benghazi Massacre – No Real Evidence

The smearing of Corbyn fits well with the similarly uniform propaganda campaign taking the ‘threat’ of Iraqi ‘WMD’ seriously in 2002 and 2003. Then, also, the entire corporate media system assailed the public with a long litany of fraudulent claims. And then there was Libya.

Coming so soon after the incomplete but still damning exposure of the Iraq deception – with the bloodbath still warm – the media’s deep conformity and wilful gullibility on the 2011 Libyan war left even jaundiced observers aghast. It was clear that we were faced with a pathological system of propaganda on Perpetual War autopilot.

The pathology has been starkly exposed by a September 9 report into the war from the foreign affairs committee of the House of Commons. As with Iraq, this was no mere common-or-garden disaster; we are again discussing the destruction of an entire country. The report summarised:

The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.

The rationale for ‘intervention’, of course, was the alleged threat of a massacre by Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi. The report commented:

The evidence base: our assessment

Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghaziwas not supported by the available evidence… Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians. More widely, Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year record of appalling human rights abusesdid not include large-scale attacks on Libyan civilians. (Our emphasis)


Professor Joffé [Visiting Professor at King’s College London] told us that:

the rhetoric that was used was quite blood-curdling, but again there were past examples of the way in which Gaddafi would actually behave… The evidence is that he was well aware of the insecurity of parts of the country and of the unlikelihood that he could control them through sheer violence. Therefore, he would have been very careful in the actual response… the fear of the massacre of civilians was vastly overstated.’

Analyst and author Alison Pargeter agreed with Professor Joffé, concluding that there was no ‘real evidence at that time that Gaddafi was preparing to launch a massacre against his own civilians’. Related claims, that Gaddafi used African mercenaries, launched air strikes on civilians in Benghazi, and employed Viagra-fuelled mass rape as a weapon of war, were also invented.

These are astonishing comments. But according to the Lexis-Nexis media database, neither Professor Joffé nor Pargeter has been quoted by name in the press, with only the Express and Independent reporting that ‘available evidence’ had shown Gaddafi had no record of massacres; a different, less damning, point.

As disturbingly, the report noted:

We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya… It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime….

In other words, the UK government’s relentless insistence on the need to support freedom-loving rebels against a genocidal tyranny were invented ‘facts’ fixed around policy.

That the war was a crime is hardly in doubt. Lord Richards (Baron Richards of Herstmonceux), chief of the defence staff at the time of the conflict, told the BBC that Cameron asked him ‘how long it might take to depose, regime change, get rid of Gaddafi’. British historian Mark Curtis describes the significance:

Three weeks after Cameron assured parliament in March 2011 that the object of the intervention was not regime change, he signed a joint letter with President Obama and French President Sarkozy committing to “a future without Gaddafi”.

That these were policies were illegal is confirmed by Cameron himself. He told Parliament on 21 March 2011 that the UN resolution “explicitly does not provide legal authority for action to bring about Gaddafi’s removal from power by military means”.

Cameron, then, like Blair, is a war criminal.

The ‘Moral Glow’ From a ‘Triumphant End’

The foreign affairs committee’s report is awesomely embarrassing for the disciplined murmuration of corporate journalists who promoted war.

At a crucial time in February and March 2011, the Guardian published a long list of news reports boosting government propaganda and opinion pieces advocating ‘intervention’ on the basis of the West’s supposed ‘responsibility to protect’, or ‘R2P’. Guardiancolumnist, later comment editor (2014-2016), Jonathan Freedland, wrote an article titled: ‘Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong.’

Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, wrote: ‘the scale and nature of the Gaddafi regime’s actions have impelled the UN’s “responsibility to protect”.’

Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London, wrotein the Guardian: ‘International law does not require the world to stand by and do nothing as civilians are massacred on the orders of Colonel Gaddafi…’

An Observer leader agreed: ‘The west can’t let Gaddafi destroy his people.’ And thus: ‘this particular tyranny will not be allowed to stand’.

No doubt with tongue firmly in Wodehousian cheek, as usual, Boris Johnson wrote in the Telegraph :

The cause is noble and right, and we are surely bound by our common humanity to help the people of Benghazi.

David Aaronovitch, already haunted by his warmongering on Iraq, wrote an article for The Times titled: ‘Go for a no-fly zone over Libya or regret it.’ He commented:

If Colonel Gaddafi is permitted to murder hundreds or thousands of his citizens from the air, and we stand by and let it happen, then our inaction will return to haunt us… We have a side here, let’s be on it. (Aaronovitch, ‘Go for a no-fly zone or regret it,’ The Times, February 24, 2011)

Later, a Guardian leader quietly celebrated:

But it can now reasonably be said that in narrow military terms it worked, and that politically there was some retrospective justification for its advocates as the crowds poured into the streets of Tripoli to welcome the rebel convoys earlier this week.

Simon Tisdall commented in the same newspaper: ‘The risky western intervention had worked. And Libya was liberated at last.’

An Observer editorial declared: ‘An honourable intervention. A hopeful future.’

The BBC’s Nick Robinson observed that Downing Street ‘will see this, I’m sure, as a triumphant end’. (BBC, News at Six, October 20, 2011) Robinson appeared to channel Churchill:

Libya was David Cameron’s first war. Col. Gaddafi his first foe. Today, his first real taste of military victory.

The BBC’s chief political correspondent, Norman Smith, declared that Cameron ‘must surely feel vindicated’. (BBC News online, October 21, 2011) In Washington, the BBC’s Ian Pannell surmised that Obama ‘is feeling that his foreign policy strategy has been vindicated – that his critics have been proven wrong’. (BBC News online, October 21, 2011)

The BBC’s John Humphrys asked: ‘What apart from a sort of moral glow… have we got out of it?’ (BBC Radio 4 Today, October 21, 2011)

Andrew Grice, political editor of the Independent, declared that Cameron had ‘proved the doubters wrong.’ Bitterly ironic then, even more so now, Grice added: ‘By calling Libya right, Mr Cameron invites a neat contrast with Tony Blair.’

An editorial in the Telegraph argued that Gaddafi’s death ‘vindicates the swift action of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in halting the attack on Benghazi’. Telegraph columnist Matthew d’Ancona (now writing for the Guardian) agreed: ‘It is surely a matter for quiet national pride that an Arab Srebrenica was prevented by a coalition in which Britain played an important part…’

An Independent leader observed:

Concern was real enough that a Srebrenica-style massacre could unfold in Benghazi, and the UK Government was right to insist that we would not allow this.

The Times, of course, joined the corporate herd in affirming that without ‘intervention’, there ‘would have been a massacre in Benghazi on the scale of Srebrenica’. (Leading article, ‘Death of a dictator,’ The Times, October 21, 2011)

But even voices to the left of the ‘mainstream’ got Libya badly wrong. Most cringe-makingly, Professor Juan Cole declared:

The Libya intervention is legal and was necessary to prevent further massacres… If NATO needs me, I’m there.

Robert Fisk commented in the Independent that, had ‘Messrs Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama stopped short after they saved Benghazi’, disaster could have been avoided.

Ironically, in an article ostensibly challenging the warmongers’ hysterical claims, Mehdi Hasan wrote in the New Statesman:

The innocent people of Benghazi deserve protection from Gaddafi’s murderous wrath.

Even Noam Chomsky observed:

The no-fly zone prevented a likely massacre… (Chomsky, ‘Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance,’ Hamish Hamilton e-book, 2012, p.372)

To his credit, then Guardian columnist Seumas Milne (now Corbyn’s director of communications and strategy) was more sceptical.He wrote in October 2011:

But there is in fact no evidence – including from other rebel-held towns Gaddafi re-captured – to suggest he had either the capability or even the intention to carry out such an atrocity against an armed city of 700,000.

We were labelled ‘useful idiots’ for challenging these and other atrocity claims in a June 2011 media alert here, here and here.

Media Reaction to the Report

The media reaction to the MPs’ demolition of their case for war made just five years earlier inevitably included some ugly evasions. AGuardian editorial commented of Libya:

It is easy in retrospect to lump it in with Iraq as a foreign folly…

It is indeed easy ‘to lump it in’, it is near-identical in key respects. But as a major war crime, not a ‘folly’.

… and there are important parallels – not least the failure to plan for stabilisation and reconstruction.

The preferred media focus being, as usual, so-called ‘mistakes’, lack of planning; rather than the fact that both wars were launched on outrageous lies, ended in the destruction of entire countries, and were driven by greed for resources. With impressive audacity, the Guardian preferred to cling to deceptions exposed by the very report under review:

But it is also important to note differences between a gratuitous, proactive invasion and a response to a direct threat to the citizens of Benghazi, triggered by the spontaneous uprising of the Libyan people. Memories of Srebrenica spurred on decision-makers. (Our emphasis)

In fact, propagandistic use of Srebrenica from sources like the Guardian ‘spurred on decision-makers’. The whole point of the MPs’ report is that it found no ‘real evidence‘ for a massacre in Benghazi. Similarly, the Guardian’s ‘spontaneous uprising’ is a debunked version of events peddled by government officials and media allies in 2011, despite the fact that there is ‘no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya’. In fact, the MPs’ report makes a nonsense of theGuardian’s claims for a humanitarian motive, noting:

On 2 April 2011, Sidney Blumenthal, adviser and unofficial intelligence analyst to the then United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reported this conversation with French intelligence officers to the Secretary of State:

According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues:

a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
b. Increase French influence in North Africa,
c. Improve his internal political situation in France,
d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.

The Guardian apologetic continued:

Perhaps most critically, western intervention – fronted by France and the UK, but powered by the US – came under a United Nations security council resolution for the protection of civilians, after the Arab League called for a no-fly zone.’

But this, again, is absurd because the resolution, UNSCR 1973, ‘neither explicitly authorised the deployment of ground forces nor addressed the questions of regime change’, as the MPs’ report noted. NATO had no more right to overthrow the Libyan government than the American and British governments had the right to invade Iraq.

In 2011, it was deeply disturbing to us that the barrage of political and media propaganda on Libya received far less challenge even than the earlier propaganda on Iraq. With Guardian and BBC ‘humanitarian interventionists’ leading the way, many people were misled on the need for ‘action’. In a House of Commons vote on March 21, 2011, 557 MPs voted for war with just 13 opposing. Two names stand out among the 13 opponents: Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Predictably, last month’s exposure of the great Libya war fraud has done nothing to prompt corporate journalists to rethink their case for war in Syria – arguments based on similar claims from similar sources promoting similar ‘humanitarian intervention’. Indeed, as this alert was being completed, the Guardian published an opinion piece by former Labour foreign secretary David Owen, calling for ‘a no-fly zone (NFZ), with protected land corridors for humanitarian aid’ in Syria, because: ‘The humanitarian imperative is for the region to act and the world to help.’

In February 2003, the Guardian published a piece by the same David Owen titled: ‘Wage war in Iraq for the sake of peace in the Middle East.’ In 2011, Owen published an article in the Telegraph, titled: ‘We have proved in Libya that intervention can still work.’ He had himself ‘called for… intervention’ that February.

The Perpetual War machine rolls on.

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Overthrowing the Syrian Government: a Joint Criminal Enterprise


Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC By 2.0

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC By 2.0
By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch 

Everyone claims to want to end the war in Syria and restore peace to the Middle East.

Well, almost everyone.

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York told the New York Times in June 2013. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here.”

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, stressed the same points in August 2016:

“The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction… Allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys… Moreover, instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change… The American administration does not appear capable of recognizing the fact that IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East.”

Okay, not exactly everyone.

But surely the humanitarian website Avaaz wants to end the war and restore peace.

Or does it?

Avaaz is currently circulating a petition which has gathered over a million signatures and is aiming at a million and a half. It is likely to get them, with words like this:

“100 children have been killed in Aleppo since last Friday.

“Enough is enough!”

Avaaz goes on to declare: “There is no easy way to end this war, but there’s only one way to prevent this terror from the skies — people everywhere demanding a no-fly zone to protect civilians.”

No-fly zone? Doesn’t that sound familiar? That was the ploy that served to destroy Libya’s air defenses and opened the country to regime change in 2011. It was promoted zealously by Hillary Clinton, who is also on record as favoring the same gambit in Syria.

And when the West says “no-fly”, it means that some can fly and others cannot. With the no-fly zone in Libya, France, Britain and the United States flew all they wanted, killing countless civilians, destroying infrastructure and allowing Islamic rebels to help themselves to part of the country.

The Avaaz petition makes the same distinction. Some should fly and others should not.

“Let’s build a resounding global call to Obama and other leaders to stand up to Putin and Assad’s terror. This might be our last, best chance to help end this mass murder of defenseless children. Add your name.”

So it’s all about mass murder of defenseless children, and to stop it, we should call on the drone king, Obama, to end “terror from the skies”.

Not only Obama, but other “good” leaders, members of NATO:

“To President Obama, President Erdogan, President Hollande, PM May, and other world leaders: As citizens around the globe horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Syria, we call on you to enforce an air-exclusion zone in Northern Syria, including Aleppo, to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.”

The timing of this petition is eloquent. It comes exactly when the Syrian government is pushing to end the war by reconquering the eastern part of Aleppo. It is part of the massive current propaganda campaign to reduce public consciousness of the Syrian war to two factors: child victims and humanitarian aid.

In this view, the rebels disappear. So do all their foreign backers, the Saudi money, the Wahhabi fanatics, the ISIS recruits from all over the world, the U.S. arms and French support. The war is only about the strange whim of a “dictator”, who amuses himself by bombing helpless children and blocking humanitarian aid. This view reduces the five-year war in Syria to the situation as it was portrayed in Libya, to justify the no-fly zone: nothing but a wicked dictator bombing his own people.


For the public that likes to consume world events in fairy tale form, this all fits together. Sign a petition on your computer and save the children.

The Avaaz petition does not aim to end the war and restore peace. It clearly aims to obstruct the Syrian government offensive to retake Aleppo. The Syrian army has undergone heavy losses in five years of war, its potential recruits have in effect been invited to avoid dangerous military service by going to Germany. Syria needs air power to reduce its own casualties. The Avaaz petition calls for crippling the Syrian offensive and thus taking the side of the rebels.

Wait – but does that mean they want the rebels to win? Not exactly. The only rebels conceivably strong enough to win are ISIS. Nobody really wants that.

The plain fact is that to end this war, as to end most wars, one side has to come out on top. When it is clear who is the winning side, then there can be fruitful negotiations for things like amnesty. But this war cannot be “ended by negotiations”. That is an outcome that the United States might support only if Washington could use negotiations to impose its own puppets – pardon, pro-democracy exiles living in the West. But as things stand, they would be rejected as traitors by the majority of Syrians who support the government and as apostates by the rebels. So one side has to win to end this war. The least worst outcome would be that the Assad government defeats the rebels, in order to preserve the state. For that, the Syrian armed forces need to retake the eastern part of Aleppo occupied by rebels.

The job of Avaaz is to get public opinion to oppose this military operation, by portraying it as nothing but a joint Russian-Syrian effort to murder civilians, especially children. For that, they call for a NATO military operation to shoot down (that’s what “no-fly” means) Syrian and Russian planes offering air support to the Syrian army offensive.

Even such drastic measures do not aim to end the war. They mean weakening the winning side to prevent it from winning. To prolong a stalemate. It means – to use the absurd expression popular during the Bosnian war – creating an “even playing field”, as if war were a sports event. It means keeping the war going on and on until nothing is left of Syria, and what is left of the Syrian population fills up refugee camps in Europe.

As the New York Times reported from Jerusalem in September 2013, “The synergy between the Israeli and American positions, while not explicitly articulated by the leaders of either country, could be a critical source of support as Mr. Obama seeks Congressional approval for surgical strikes in Syria.” It added that “Israel’s national security concerns have broad, bipartisan support in Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington, weighed in Tuesday in support of Mr. Obama’s approach.” (This was when Obama was planning to “punish President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons without seeking to force him from power” – before Obama decided to join Russia in disarming the Syrian chemical arsenal instead, a decision for which he continues to be condemned by the pro-Israel lobby and the War Party.) AIPAC’s statement “said nothing, however, about the preferred outcome of the civil war…”

Indeed. As the 2013 report from Jerusalem continued, “as hopes have dimmed for the emergence of a moderate, secular rebel force that might forge democratic change and even constructive dialogue, with Israel, a third approach has gained traction: Let the bad guys burn themselves out. ‘The perpetuation of the conflict is absolutely serving Israel’s interest,’ said Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group.”

The plain truth is that Syria is the victim of a long-planned Joint Criminal Enterprise to destroy the last independent secular Arab nationalist state in the Middle East, following the destruction of Iraq in 2003. While attributed to government repression of “peaceful protests” in 2011, the armed uprising had been planned for years and was supported by outside powers: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and France, among others. The French motives remain mysterious, unless linked to those of Israel, which sees the destruction of Syria as a means to weaken its arch rival in the region, Iran. Saudi Arabia has similar intentions to weaken Iran, but with religious motives. Turkey, the former imperial power in the region, has territorial and political ambitions of its own. Carving up Syria can satisfy all of them.

This blatant and perfectly open conspiracy to destroy Syria is a major international crime, and the above-mentioned States are co-conspirators. They are joined in this Joint Criminal Enterprise by ostensibly “humanitarian” organizations like Avaaz that spread war propaganda in the guise of protecting children. This works because most Americans just can’t believe that their government would do such things. Because normal ordinary people have good intentions and hate to see children killed, they imagine that their government must be the same. It is hard to overcome this comforting faith. It is more natural to believe that the criminals are wicked people in a country about which they really understand nothing.

There is no chance that this criminal enterprise will ever arouse the attention of the prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, which like most major international organizations is totally under U.S. control. For example, the United Nations Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, who analyses and frames political issue for the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, is an American diplomat, Jeffrey Feltman, who was a key member of Hillary Clinton’s team when she was carrying out regime change in Libya. And accomplices in this criminal enterprise include all the pro-governmental “non-governmental” organizations such as Avaaz who push hypocrisy to new lengths by exploiting compassion for children in order to justify and perpetuate this major crime against humanity and against peace in the world.

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Balkan Media: Orbán’s Referendum Has Failed

Adelina Marini

Media in the countries of former Yugoslavia are unanimous – Orbán’s referendum has failed. The subject was covered in the larger countries of the region (Serbia and Croatia), while in the smaller ones it is almost non-existent. Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list reports in a headline “An embarrassing defeat for Viktor Orbán”. Almost all Hungarians, who voted in the Sunday referendum, denounced the migrant quotas of the EU, but voter turnout was far below the necessary 50% for the results to be valid. Orbán stated that regardless of that, he will draft a change in the Constitution, so that the referendum’s results are legalised. “As was to be expected, Viktor Orbán did not want to admit the heavy defeat. Immediately after the results came out, Orbán organised an emergency press conference, at which there were no … journalists. Obviously, the Prime Minister did not wish to answer embarrassing questions, so he resorted to a monologue in front of TV cameras”, continues Jutarnji. Serbian Danasalso prints that Orbán’s referendum has failed, but this does not stop the Hungarian PM. Blic also reports that the referendum has failed. The newspaper reports that, according to the opposition, the policy of hate of the Hungarian PM has failed. They also requested Orbán’s resignation, continues Blic.

Tension in Srebrenica

While Hungarians were voting in Viktor Orbán’s populist referendum, local elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina just a week after the populist referendum in Republika Srpska. There are several pieces of news from yesterday’s vote in the municipalities and small settlements of the Dayton state. Media in the region report that there was a lot of tension in Srebrenica yesterday. Bosnian Dnevni avaz informs that yesterday, after 7 pm, the Serbian candidate for boss of Srebrenica municipality Mladen Grujičić announced victory, based on unofficial results. A bit before midnight, some Grujičić supporters gathered in front of a coffee shop in town.

Waving flags and chanting “This is Serbia” and “this is victory”, Serbian supporters celebrated until late into the night.Avaz reports that despite the fact that curfew hour in Srebrenica on weekends is midnight, “the orgy” lasted until 2 am. During the celebration streets in the region were blocked. Serbian information agency Tanjug adds that the leader of the Bosniaks Bakir Izetbegović and candidate Ćamil Duraković refused to accept that there will be a Serb candidate leading Srebrenica. Croatian Vecernji reports that celebrating Serbs were separated from a group of Bosniaks via a police cordon.

Regarding the results themselves, Croatian Vecernji comments that national parties have consolidated their power and Dodik has swept the opposition. “Municipal elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina showed an increase in the influence of the largest national parties in the country, while the disunity of leftist parties in the BiH Federation has marginalised their influence, despite the Social Democratic Party managing to keep Tuzla as its traditional fort”, writes the newspaper and adds that Milorad Dodik’s party SNSD has won a decisive victory in Republika Srpska, while the Croatian part is dominated by HDZ BiH, which won the local elections in 18 municipalities – four more than at the year 2012 elections. The parties of Bakir Izetbegović and Fahrudin Radončić (SDA and SBB) won decisive victories in the Bosniak regions, further reports Vecernji.

Bosnian Klix reports that, according to latest results, Serbian candidate Grujičić has double the votes of Duraković. Serbian Blic published a survey today on its website with the question whether Dodik has won at the local elections due to the referendum and his stubbornness. Most participants in the survey (out of a total of 306 voted so far) stated that Dodik would have won anyway. Those, who replied affirmative, are second.

Serbian Komarnitski is in a bit more difficult situation than his Bulgarian prototype 

The big news of the weekend in Serbia is the firing of the famous Serbian cartoonist Dušan Petričić from the influential Serbian daily newspaper Politika. In front of Danas, which ran this as headline news of today’s edition, the cartoonist confirmed that the reason is his refusal to give in to the pressure not to publish cartoons of PM Aleksandar Vučić so often. Petričić was informed about the discontinuation of his labour contract with Politika by Žarko Rakić, who is serving as editor-in-chief and managing editor of the newspaper. “I said I could not comply with the request, because I work once a week and the caricatures’ content is based on the situation”, explains Petričić toDanas. Serbian national television RTS aired the reaction of the cabinet of Aleksandar Vučić, which adamantly disproves any allegations of interference in the editorial policy of Politika.

“The cabinet believes that Politika should continue to publish Petričić’s cartoons, as they are a problem for no one and even bring bonus points to the Prime Minister”, says in the cabinet’s message. “They [cartoons] show that people, who do not follow changes, and who have the sharpest anti-governmental of positions, as well as personal hatred for the PM, should have their space for unimpeded work in the future, as it has been before”, continues the reply from the PM’s office. On this occasion journalist Vukašin Obradović, president of the Association of Independent Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) published the following joke on Twitter: “Are you the editor of Politika? – Yes, I am the editor of Politika. – So you are the editor of Politika! – No, no, I am not”. The situation with the Serbian cartoonist reminds a lot of a similar feud between Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov and the famous Bulgarian cartoonist of Sega daily newspaper Christo Komarnitski. The difference is that Mr Komarnitski is not fired. Prime Ministers’ reactions, however, were identical.

Macedonia in the liberal Middle Ages

Macedonian Dnevnik  comes out today on first page with the headline “Welcome to the new Middle Ages”. The newspaper prints a commentary by Mirka Velinovska with the headline “With Pržino Macedonia gave in to the liberal inquisition”. “With the Pržino agreement and the consent of four party leaderships (generously encouraged by the Euro-Atlantic democracies and under pressure from the Soros-USAidiotic revolutionary activists) in the 21st century it silently agreed to be ruled by the para institutions of the inquisition and the censorship. Even a papal bull was not necessary for Macedonia. It was enough to have the consent of the two anointed journalists’ associations, the two anointed journalists’ unions, and the silence of the so called autonomous intellectuals. Politicians of the disempowered Macedonia are even not included in this dark fairytale. They are a world of their own. They do not need freedom, or democracy. On the contrary”, is written in the commentary.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in SerbiaComments Off on Balkan Media: Orbán’s Referendum Has Failed

Will Jewish Nazi regime be sued for 9/11?

Will Israel be sued for 9/11?
JASTA Opens Many Doors
By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review 

By overwhelming margins the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted on September 28th to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). Obama had noted that the Act would have negative consequences for U.S. officials overseas as it establishes the principle that governments can be held accountable in the courts for what they do. Prior to this legislation Washington generally respected the principle of sovereign immunity, which means in practice that governments resolve issues between themselves by negotiation, not through litigation.

With Congress now demanding foreign government accountability it is reasonable to assume that other countries might respond in kind by establishing reciprocity based on the language in JASTA, which would mean that serving or former American officials might be detained and tried for criminal actions undertaken by the U.S. in its war on terror. It might also lead to other suits against the United States government that would result in demands for what is already being described as “intrusive discovery” of documents relating to clandestine American operations overseas. In a letter President Obama has described JASTA as allowing foreign litigants to “second-guess our counterterrorism operations and other actions that we take every day” while Secretary of Defense Ash Carter assailed the “ability of foreign litigants to seek classified intelligence and analysis.” CIA Director John Brennan denounced the “associated risks to our national security,” adding that the bill harbored “grave implications” for national security with a “downside [that is] potentially huge.”

So-called State Sponsors of terrorism Syria, Iran and Sudan can already be sued in American courts but JASTA considerably broadens the playing field to permit additional litigation. Supporters of the Act insist that their intention is only to enable suits directed against Saudi Arabia, which might have been either complicit or negligent in its dealings with the alleged terrorists who carried out 9/11, 15 of whom were Saudis, but the language is actually much broader than that. The actual text, which does not specifically name Saudi Arabia, reads: “A foreign state shall not be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States in any case in which money damages are sought against a foreign state for physical injury to person or property or death occurring in the United States and caused by an act of international terrorism in the United States.”

The Act reproduces the U.S. Code definition of international terrorism which “means activities that (A) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, and the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.”

I am all for the United States and Saudi Arabia (and others) being held accountable for war crimes and other unlawful behavior to include drones, renditions, torture and target assassinations but it will almost certainly be difficult to prove “knowing or reckless” criminal intent in court even with the new legislation. Also the Act opens up a Pandora’s box of possibilities that I am sure the Congressmen were not thinking of when they cast their votes. While the bill was drafted in such a fashion as to make an unnamed Saudi Arabia the actual target it also can be used against Pakistan, which may have funded the hijackers, and even Germany, where some of those involved in 9/11 lived for a time. It can plausibly be claimed that Islamabad and Berlin had some prior knowledge of the attack which they chose not to share, making them complicit, and the respective governments would have to appear in a U.S. court to demonstrate their innocence. In so doing, they might even demand in their defense that the United States government produce documentary evidence regarding what really did occur on 9/11, something the White House would surely want to avoid.

But the potentially biggest secondary target of the new legislation would without a doubt be Israel. The Israeli role in 9/11, insofar as can be determined, has never been seriously investigated at all and any suppositions or conclusions regarding its activities were never included in the final 9/11 Commission Report.

In 2001 Israel was running a massive spying operation directed against Muslims either resident or traveling in the United States. The operation included the creation of a number of cover companies in New Jersey, Florida and also on the west coast that served as spying mechanisms for Mossad officers. The effort was supported by the Mossad Station in Washington D.C. and included a large number of volunteers, the so-called “art students” who traveled around the U.S. selling various products at malls and outdoor markets. The FBI was aware of the numerous Israeli students who were routinely overstaying their visas and some in the Bureau certainly believed that they were assisting their country’s intelligence service in some way, but it proved difficult to link the students to actual undercover operations, so they were regarded as a minor nuisance.

But the hands-off attitude towards Israeli spying shifted dramatically when, on September 11, 2001, a New Jersey housewife saw something from the window of her apartment building, which overlooked the World Trade Center. She watched as the buildings burned and crumbled but also noted something strange. Three young men were kneeling on the roof of a white transit van parked by the water’s edge, making a movie in which they featured themselves high fiving and laughing in front of the catastrophic scene unfolding behind them. The woman wrote down the license plate number of the van and called the police, who responded quickly and soon both the local force and the FBI began looking for the vehicle, which was subsequently seen by other witnesses in various locations along the New Jersey waterfront, its occupants “celebrating and filming.”

The license plate number revealed that the van belonged to a New Jersey registered company called Urban Moving Systems. At 4 p.m. the vehicle was spotted and pulled over. Five men between the ages of 22 and 27 years old emerged. They were detained at gunpoint and handcuffed. They were all Israelis. One of them had $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock and another had two foreign passports. Bomb sniffing dogs reacted to the smell of explosives in the van. The driver told the police “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.” The men were detained at the Bergen County jail in New Jersey before being transferred the FBI’s Foreign Counterintelligence Section, which handles allegations of spying.

After the arrest, the FBI obtained a warrant to search the offices of the van’s registered owner, Urban Moving System of Weehawken, N.J. Papers and computers were seized. The company owner Dominick Suter, also an Israeli, answered FBI questions but when a follow-up interview was set up a few days later it was learned that he had fled the country for Israel, putting both his business and home up for sale. The office space and warehouse were abandoned. It was later learned that Suter has been associated with at least fourteen businesses in the United States, mostly in New Jersey and New York but also in Florida, which was determined to be a main focus for the Israeli intelligence operation in the U.S. that was directed against Arabs.

The five Israelis were held in Brooklyn, initially on charges relating to visa fraud. FBI interrogators questioned them for more than two months. Several were held in solitary confinement so they could not communicate with each other and two of them were given repeated polygraph exams, which they failed. The two men that the FBI focused on most intensively were believed to be Mossad staff officers and the other three were volunteers helping with surveillance. Even though the Israelis were not exactly cooperative, the FBI concluded from documents obtained at their office in Weehawken that they were targeting Arabs in New York and New Jersey, including at least two of the 9/11 hijackers.

There are a lot a dots all leading back to Israel that might well have been connected once upon a time, but the trail has grown cold. Police records in New Jersey and New York where the men were held have disappeared and FBI interrogation reports are inaccessible. Media coverage of the case also died, though the five were referred to in the press as the “dancing Israelis” and by some, more disparagingly, as the “dancing Shlomos.”

Inevitably, the George W. Bush White House intervened. After 71 days in detention, the five Israelis were released from prison, put on a plane, and deported. Now it is just possible that Mossad affiliated Urban Moving was indeed uninvolved in 9/11 but it also must be recognized that Israel had the means, ability and access required to bring down the World Trade Center using controlled pancake explosions. More than fifteen years later it is perhaps past time to reveal what exactly the FBI knew and currently knows about both the scale and modus operandi of Israeli espionage in the United States. Did Israel have critical intelligence either in broad outline or possibly in specific detail about 9/11 and let it happen to bind Washington more closely to it in a “global war on terror?”

Questions about just what happened on 9/11 will not go away. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has called for a new “independent investigation” because the Bush administration’s initial 9/11 inquiry was “dominated by members with an interest in protecting the reputation and careers of foreign affairs and intelligence communities.” It “was not given enough money, time, or access to relevant classified information.” That “classified information” could well include the role of Israel.

I am no lawyer, but it would seem to me that both Israel and Saudi Arabia might well be pretty good places to start in using litigation to determine just who could have been involved in what was to become the 9/11 terrorist attack. It would indeed be ironic if an Israel-loving Congress has, through its passage of JASTA to squeeze money out of the Saudis, also inadvertently opened the door to finding out just what the Mossad and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were up to back in 2001.

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Don’t Give the Nobel Prize 2016 to C.I.A White Helmets

Image result for White Helmets CARTOON
Don’t Give the Nobel Prize 2016 to Syrian White Helmets
Syria Solidarity Movement 

On 29 April, 2016, Syria Solidarity Movement member Vanesa Beeley placed the following petition on  On or about 27 September, removed the petition, citing “violation of community standards”.  What community standards? Judge for yourself.


To do so would prolong the suffering of the Syrian people and reward the White Helmets for being US and UK Government funded and trained agents of “regime change” in Syria.

The White Helmets have received over $ 40 million in funding from the US Government [USAID] and the UK Foreign Office despite their claims of being “fiercely independent and accepts no money from governments, corporations or anyone directly involved in the Syrian conflict”

The UK and US governments are involved in the illegal war against Syria and are intent upon “regime change” in Syria, therefore they are “directly involved in the conflict”.

The White Helmets claim to be “unarmed and neutral” while embedded in areas occupied solely by Al Nusra [Al Qaeda] and ISIS.

They are armed.

They have been photographed and filmed supporting Al Nusra/Al Qaeda who are foreign mercenaries massacring the Syrian people.

The White Helmets foment sectarianism in Syria, calling for the “burning of Kafarya and Foua”, Shia villages in the Idlib area besieged for 5 years by US NATO backed terrorist mercenaries, Ahrar al Sham and Al Nusra.

The White Helmets have assisted in Al Nusra/Al Qaeda executions of civilians in Aleppo [please see evidence in the video]

The White Helmets have been responsible for the majority of anti Syrian Army and Government propaganda, calling for the familiar “No Fly Zone” which, if it had succeeded, would have reduced Syria to the same failed state scenario as we have seen in Libya.

The White Helmets leader, Raed Saleh has just been deported from the US where White Helmet backers USAID [US Government] were about to present him with an award. The US State Department have stated possible connections to “extremist organisations” as the reason.

However the US State Department have made the extraordinary statement that although the White Helmet leader and chief spokesperson to UN and White House is linked with terrorism, the White Helmet Group is miraculously unaffected.

Please bear in mind that George Bush destroyed Iraq and Libya on the pretext of nothing more than their “connections to Al Qaeda”

The White Helmets are Al Qaeda “with a facelift”. They are terrorism and neocolonialism under the umbrella of Humanitarianism.

For the sake of Syria, please do NOT give the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Qaeda aka the Syrian White Helmets.

With Steve Ezzedine’s video:

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Don’t Give the Nobel Prize 2016 to C.I.A White Helmets

Judge Rules Ex-CIA Officials Can Be Questioned in Torture Case


‘This order affirms that our judicial system can handle claims of CIA torture, including when those claims involve high-level government officials,’ says ACLU

Human rights advocates say the ruling is a vital step for accountability. (Photo: Justin Norman/flickr/cc)

A federal judge has ordered that former CIA officials can be deposed in a lawsuit against the architects of the agency’s torture program, in what human rights advocates say is a vital step for accountability.

The order (pdf), issued by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush earlier this week, rejected an attempt by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that would have protected the officials from oral questioning. The deposition will be carried out as part of a discovery process for a case against the program’s architects, psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of three men who were subjected to beatings, exposure to extreme temperature, sleep and food deprivation, and other abuses while in CIA custody.

Two of the four officials are John Rizzo and Jose Rodriguez, who both held high-ranking positions in the agency at the time the torture program was being developed and implemented. In a blog post about the order, the ACLU wrote of Rizzo, who was the CIA’s chief lawyer for much of George W. Bush’s administration:

Rizzo went along with the now-discredited Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel [OCL] memos that purported to approve torture, privately acknowledging the OLC’s “ability to interpret over, under and around Geneva, the torture convention, and other pesky little international obligations.” Rizzo also helped draft Bush’s still-secret order authorizing the CIA to establish secret detention facilities overseas and to interrogate detainees.

Rodriguez has also defended the CIA’s torture of detainees and, while at the agency, authorized the use of certain tactics. He also ordered the destruction of scores of videotapes showing waterboarding and other torture.

“This ruling is a critical step towards accountability, and it charts a way forward for torture victims to get their day in court,” said ACLU staff attorney Dror Ladin. “For years, claims of secrecy shut the courthouse doors to survivors, but the systematic abuse of prisoners can’t be swept under the rug forever. This order affirms that our judicial system can handle claims of CIA torture, including when those claims involve high-level government officials.”

Two of the plaintiffs, Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, survived but continue to struggle physically and psychologically, the ACLU said. The third man, Gul Rahman, died of hypothermia in a secret CIA prison.

In a hearing last week, DOJ attorney Andrew Warden said, “It is, frankly, unprecedented…for the nation’s top spy, the head of the National Clandestine Service to be deposed on operational information by a private party. I don’t think that’s ever happened in the history of this country.”

The lawsuit against Mitchell and Jessen was filed in Washington state, where their law firm was based and where Jessen lives to this day. Although the ACLU says the depositions may help provide additional information about the program, the rights organization says the evidence they need to win the case has already been made public through reports like the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its torture investigation.

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The American-Made Catastrophe in Yemen


While US officials condemn Russian war crimes in Syria, the US-Saudi coalition in Yemen is committing the same – but the media is silent

An eight-year-old malnourished boy lies on a bed in the emergency ward of a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen on September 27, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

For a generation of Americans old enough to remember, the Korean conflict is often dubbed the “forgotten war”. Where Hollywood has lionised or contextualised those who fought in the Second World War and Vietnam, the nearly 2 million Americans who fought on the Korean peninsula in the early 1950s have largely been airbrushed from history.

Fast forward 60 odd years, and Americans find themselves participating in yet another forgotten war: Yemen.

Where the unfolding tragedy in Syria has grabbed media attention in the US over the course of the past five years, at least intermittingly, America’s participation and contribution towards alleged war crimes and the unmitigated humanitarian crisis in Yemen is yet to have even grabbed the attention of CNN’s scrolling news ticker.

Effectively what this means is this: the US mainstream media is choosing to broadcast to US viewers news stories that reflect only the geopolitical positions of the US administration. While this is hardly breaking news or some kind of deep revelation, given how US media behaved as cheerleader-in-chief for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it’s still worth noting.

Double standards

For instance, when Russia bombs an aid convoy, attacks a hospital or a school in Syria, a spokesperson for the US administration will come forward to denounce Russia’s intervention, and the media will cover it. But when US taxpayer bombs, using US military guidance systems, blow up wedding parties, schools, anything, you can cut the silence with the proverbial knife.

Where John Kerry condemned Russia’s attack on the aid convoy, and was reported by most major media outlets, the US-led attack against civilians in Yemen went widely unnoticed

On the same weekend The New York Times ran a full-page article on how Russia attacked 31 humanitarian aid trucks, killing 18 civilians, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, US fighter jets fired missiles into five residential homes in Hudaida province, Yemen, killing 26 civilians.

Where US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia’s attack on the aid convoy, calling for an immediate grounding of all Russian warplanes so that aid deliveries could continue, which was reported by most major media outlets, the US-led attack against civilians in Yemen went widely unnoticed.

Sorry – my bad – the US government did make an announcement on Yemen that very same day: “Senate clears way for $1.5 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.” Which now means Obama has shipped more weapons to Saudi Arabia than any previous US president, taking the kingdom’s haul to an eye-popping $115 billion since 2009.

Human catastrophe

These weapons have inflicted an almost unimaginable human catastrophe on the people of Yemen. That is, unimaginable only if you hadn’t heard of the parallel catastrophe in Syria. Since the start of 2015, the Saudi-US intervention in Yemen has resulted in the deaths of more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians, alongside another three million who have been displaced from their homes, and another 21 million in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

It’s also interesting to note that, at the same time senior US officials call for the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Syria in order to protect civilians, the US-Saudi coalition is also carrying out air strikes in Yemen that are killing civilians.

At the same time senior US officials call for the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Syria in order to protect civilians, the US-Saudi coalition is also carrying out air strikes in Yemen that are killing civilians

If Saudi Arabia’s relentless attack on Yemen was underwritten by Russia, instead of the US, it’s likely Americans would know more about the human suffering taking place in this country. But it’s not, and thus they know less, not more.

In September, a report compiled by the Yemen Data Project found that more than third of US-Saudi airstrikes have struck civilian sites – including hospitals, schools, mosques, and government buildings.

The report noted that of 8,600 air strikes carried out between March 2015 and August 2016, 3,577 hit military sites, while 3,158 struck non-military targets. While the report says some of these attacks on civilian targets can be attributed to “mistakes,” the fact repeated air strikes have struck schools, hospitals and mosques points to a more sinister conclusion.

Media silence on arms bonanza

Where US complicity in alleged war crimes have been met with total media silence in the United States, there is growing pressure on the European Union and the United Nations, led by The Netherlands, to investigate Britain’s contribution in the conflict.

Britain has sold nearly $5bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the conflict began, and in the meantime the UK government has blocked a UN inquiry into the claim of war crimes in Yemen.

Britain has sold nearly $5bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the conflict began, and in the meantime the UK government has blocked a UN inquiry into the claim of war crimes in Yemen

A number of human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, recently penned an open letter to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights that demands an international inquiry to “establish facts, collect and preserve information related to violations and abuses with a view to ensuring that those responsible for crimes are brought to justice in fair trials”.

The UK government’s attempt to block an international inquiry into Saudi-US coalition war crimes in Yemen has been derided by human rights groups. “It’s shocking. The UK ought to be standing up for justice and accountability, not acting as a cheerleader for arms companies,” said Polly Truscott of Amnesty International. While Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade observes: “For 18 months now, UK arms have been central to the destruction of Yemen.”

Dog days of the Obama doctrine

Muted criticism of the United States’ role in Yemen, however, is centred less on the plight of Yemen’s internationally forsaken citizens, and fixated more on what Yemen means for the endurance of the Obama Doctrine. In other words, Yemen is seen merely through the prism of a political football, and not a moral balance.

Where the Bush Doctrine urged preemption and direct military involvement, the Obama Doctrine favours the outsourcing of war to regional allies, but outsourcing to Saudi in Yemen has left many US administration officials wondering whether a lack of US due diligence in mitigating against civilian casualties is exacerbating casualties in a conflict already mired in a stalemate.

It’s disturbing to learn that Obama has determined Yemen to be a problem unworthy of a solution, dismissing the country as a ‘complete shit show’

“Obama has said little about the war in Yemen. With mere months left in his presidency, there is scarce indication that he will,” notes The Atlantic. “Increasingly skeptical of America’s ability to shape events on the ground in the Middle East, Obama sees little incentive to overturn the status quo, even if that means supporting the apparently reckless military forays of a government he disdains.”

Not only is it extraordinary that Obama has been forced to say very little about a conflict in which US involvement has led to an almost unrivalled human catastrophe, but it’s equally disturbing to learn that Obama has determined Yemen to be a problem unworthy of a solution, dismissing the country as a “complete shit show,” according to one US official who briefs the president on national security matters.

Yes, Yemen is a “shit show” but it is a “shit show” that is exacerbated by a US-backed coalition, and it’s a only a US-backed coalition that can bring an end to a “shit show” that has led to the deaths of 10,000 Yemenis and the pending doom of tens of millions more.

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Populists vs. Lawmakers in the Debate on Spain and Portugal

Adelina Marini

Instead of a debate on the implementation of the law, the discussion on the temporary suspension of European funds for Spain and Portugal over systemic violations of EU fiscal rules turned into a rebellion against the law. The two and a half hour dialogue between European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen (Finland, EPP), European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu (Romania, Socialists and Democrats), and members of the Economic and Monetary Affairs and Regional Development committees revealed the extent of the infection of Euroscepticism and resistance against European legislation. As described by the French MEP from the economic committee Sylvie Goulard (ALDE), the debate revealed the true state of the European Union. The discussion also uncovered the corrupting power of a political European Commission.

Legal grounds for the suspension of European funds for Spain and Portugal

The 2009 crisis, which threatened the survival of the euro area, and thus the EU in general, brought about the swiftest reform in EU economic governance in history. Within two years, co-authored by the European Parliament, the large reform was adopted, whose goal was to set stricter rules and discipline for their implementation, so that a re-run of the crisis is avoided. At the time, everyone agreed that an end must be put to violating or circumventing the rules, for it has repercussions not just on the guilty states, but all the others as well, who share a common currency or are economically interconnected.

One of the innovations in that reform was the linking of fiscal discipline to European funds. Preliminary economic conditionality was introduced. It was incorporated in the multiannual budget of the European Union for the 2014-2020 period. Differing from previous programme periods, with the new change all five EU structural funds are tied to the economic governance procedures. Under the new legislation, the Commission is obliged to sanctioning a member state, should it not follow the rules.

Spain and Portugal have been in an excessive deficit procedure since 2009 and since then the EC has extended several concessions to them, hoping that the full force of European legislation will not have to be enforced. As was explained by Vice-President Jyrki Katainen (former commissioner for economic affairs and former prime minister of Finland), the EC has so far applied all the possible flexibility of legislation to the extreme. Regardless of that, Madrid and Lisbon, both locked into an endless cycle of political crisis, were incapable of complying with the set targets for lowering the excessive budget deficit. So, on July 12th, the Council approved decisions for levying sanctions on Portugal and Spain, but the Commission refused to fine them and gave them another extension instead (the second in a year). The Council approved this decision on August 8th.

Portugal and Spain have until October 15th to implement the new EC recommendations. As no financial fine was imposed, the Commission is obliged, following Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation, to propose the suspension of part of the 2017 commitments on Portugal and Spain’s operational programmes. The EC can only do so following consultations with the European Parliament. What was supposed to be a structured dialogue, transpired on the evening of October 3rd. According to the Regulation, the EC can block all or a part of the commitments or payments for the following fiscal year. The size of the suspension can be up to 50% of payments on each of the programmes, but could also reach 100% if the offending side continues not to take effective actions within three months of the adoption of the decision.

The EC has the right to judge whether to cut from all programmes, or chose the ones that would have the least detrimental effect to investments in the country in question. It could decide not to suspend payments, but just the new commitments. The Regulation sets a maximum of 50% or 25% ceiling for the next fiscal year. If the offending state takes action, the EC could lift the blockade and re-budget the programmes. The EC’s proposal for suspension of European funds could be rejected by the Council by a qualified majority. In drafting the proposal, the EC can take into consideration the difficult economic situation, with Jyrki Katainen and Corina Crețu assuring MEPs that they would do just that, concentrating mainly on the unemployment in both states, for it is extremely high.

They will also take into account that structural funds make up a large portion of public investment in both countries – 78% in Portugal and 21% in Spain for the 2014-2016 period. This means that blocking commitments could slow down planned investments, although the two commissioners assured that it will not get to that, should Lisbon and Madrid follow the EC’s recommendations. According to Ms Crețu, blocking some of the commitments will have no short-term effect on the programmes’ implementation.

She said that if European funds are suspended for 2017, effects will show all the way in 2020, and only if no measures are taken at that.

For the entire programme period (2014-2020), Portugal is allocated 26 billion euro, and Spain is allocated 38 billion euro on the cohesion funds. For the period 2014-2016, Portugal’s commitments are for 8.2 billion euro, and the country has absorbed 1.5 billion. Jyrki Katainen assured that not a single ongoing project will be affected and that both countries will continue to receive money, even more than they have been able to absorb so far.

Sovereignty is mine,  European funds are common

None of this, however, reassured most MEPs, who, regardless of their affiliation to a specific political group, stood against the very idea of the two countries being punished and did not accept the commissioners’ assurances that the measure is not a sanction. Moreover, there were mass calls for the law not to be enforced. The discussion revealed that to many MEPs European law is just a political option, not something that has supremacy over everything. Fully aware what is coming, Corina Crețu reminded in her opening statement that many of today’s MEPs were involved in the adoption of the Regulations and even qualified them at the time as a “positive conditionality”. Lambertus van Nistelrooij (EPP, The Netherlands) objected, stating that he remembers very well the debates at the time, when it was agreed that the application of Article 23 will be a “last last last resort”.

He was awarded a loud round of applause for his statement, in which he threw back as a boomerang the politicality of the European Commission. “Your Commission is a political commission, as you said, it’s clear. You changed the roaming proposal because there was a reason not to bring forward what might have been reasonable. And this is exactly what is at stake in this structured dialogue. If 3/3 of Portuguese money is coming from Europe, you touch them in the heart. You touch the educational programmes, everything. Come up with something else”, stated the Dutch MEP of the group of the right-wing European People’s Party.

Despite assurances by Corina Crețu and Jyrki Katainen that the last resort is already here, attacks not only did not cease, but intensified. MEPs of all political groups, excluding ALDE and a few other MEPs, condemned the idea as ridiculous. Some even contested the legal grounds for implementing the measure, although it is very clearly stated in the Regulation. Following speeches from MEPs from the regional development committee, belonging to the three largest political groups – EPP, Socialists and Democrats, and ECR – a voice of reason was heard from Matthijs van Miltenburg (ALDE, The Netherlands), who was the first to attempt to say that however unpleasant, rules are meant to be respected. “Of course, we can say this is a pity, but these are the rules that we should respect because else there will be no governance”, he said.

Younous Omarjee of the extreme left-wing (France), however, stuck a finger in the common European wound. “Is this what we want to see after a Brexit? We need to punish countries, which violate human rights”, he said. The Greens on the other hand directly stated that macroeconomic conditionality is not the way to go. Portuguese MEP of the Socialists and Democrats group Liliana Rodrigues also warned of the threat of Euroscepticism. Another Portuguese MEP, but from the EPP group, Fernando Ruas, called on the EC to implement all possible flexibility by stating that things got to this point due to not imposing a fine. Instead of governments being fined, beneficiaries and regions will be punished, he said.

The calls by MEPs to uphold the laws were a voice in the wilderness. German EPP MEP Burkhard Balz stated that the EC cannot be told not to respect the law and French Liberals MEP Sylvie Goulard literally exploded saying that the European Parliament is acting as if it did not adopt the Regulation with over 400 votes in support of macroeconomic conditionality. She added that the EC should have been way more balanced and should not have allowed exceptions. The strongest statement, however, came from Swedish MEP Gunnar Hökmark of the EPP. “We have all suffered in difficult times but if you do choose to increase spending in the toughest of times then you’re undermining stability and investments. EU is a legal union. And if we legislate rules I think we can require from all of us to follow the rules. Otherwise we don’t need the rules. Otherwise we’re not a Union. If we, as parliament, are hinting or saying that we legislated the rules but we don’t meant it, then, colleagues, we’re undermining the credibility not only of the Stability and Growth Pact, but the EU and then we’re really undermining the European economy”, he said.  .

To him, a way larger threat than levying sanctions is the turning of not following rules into a policy or dogma. “The Commission is there to follow the rules not breaking them”, he concluded, but did not receive much deserved applause. Applause was awarded to populism, which wanted rules to be disregarded, because they were needed once, but now they are in the way. Vice-President Katainen attempted on several occasions to explain that the Commission is legally bound to enforce the suspension of European funds. “This is not a question of political will but we have a legal obligation and that’s why we are here. […] The reason for the conditionality is that once we are using European taxpayers’ money we have to make sure that this money really created added value and is used properly”, said Mr Katainen.

He added that European solidarity is based on rule of law. “The EU is based on rule of law, which pushed aside the rule of force”, were his words. They were, however, silenced by shouts of “let’s not follow rules and procedures religiously”, “let’s be smart in implementing rules”, “why is France not sanctioned for the same thing”, “why don’t you enforce zero suspension of European funds”, “stopping European funds is immoral”. It is expressly stated within the EC anchor points on the structured dialogue, published by Politico, that legislation leaves no room for manoeuvre, for it requires action by the Commission.

It was pointed out on several occasions during the discussion that there is no deadline for the implementation of the measure, but it is clearly written in the Regulation that the suspension of commitments must be implemented starting January 1st of the year following the decision. This means that the decision must be made by the end of the year. If Portugal and Spain present satisfactory draft budget plans by October 15th, it might not come to the suspension of European funds. This, however, does not solve in the least the ever grander problem the EU has with disrespect of its own rules.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in EuropeComments Off on Populists vs. Lawmakers in the Debate on Spain and Portugal

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