Archive | October 27th, 2016

Philippines seeks common prosperity with China

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By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Beijing on Tuesday on a 4-day visit that Beijing calls ‘historic’. We are about to witness probably one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific since the Vietnam War ended. Philippines is the US’ oldest ally in Asia and Duterte is just inches away from dumping an accord that gives the US access to five military bases in the Philippines. The US’ rebalance strategy may never be the same again as long as Duterte, who took over on June 30, remains in power. (New York Times )

That Duterte chose China for his first visit outside the ASEAN region itself carries much symbolism. At least 200 members of the Philippine business elite are traveling with him, signalling the strong desire in Manila to form a new commercial alliance with China. Interestingly, one of the ideas mentioned is a deal with China to jointly explore energy sources in the South China Sea – to begin with in the uncontested areas closer to the Philippines known internationally as Reed Bank.

Manila sees this as an important confidence-building measure, with neither country making demands on the other on issues of sovereignty but placing accent on developing a more comfortable working relationship in ‘win-win’ spirit so that they can tiptoe toward discussing the more sensitive areas of the South China Sea in future in more agreeable setting. An equivalent, from the Indian perspective, might be to seek Chinese collaboration to develop our northeastern states lying adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh.

Ahead of Duterte’s arrival in Beijing, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that the state visit would be a ‘success’. Wang said China ‘highly values’ the visit. China has refused to accept the ruling by the arbitration tribunal at The Hague in July on the South China Sea and Duterte, on his part, has downplayed it. The western analysts who predicted doomsday scenario have been proven wrong.

Beijing disclosed at a media briefing on Tuesday that it will expand trade links with the Philippines, encourage businesses to invest there, and strengthen bilateral infrastructure construction and human resources training. A Commerce Ministry spokesman said in Beijing that preparations are actively under way for announcements on bilateral economic and trade cooperation during the visit.

In an interesting remark, a scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Dr Zhong Feiteng told The Beijing News that as a big country with a long history, China is increasingly viewing its neighboring areas as a whole. “Beijing should take a long view when dealing with Manila,” he said. “(It should) see the Philippines as an important node in its 21st-century Maritime Silk Road initiative, and build a new maritime order that connects the East and South China Seas.”

In overall terms, we may expect that China’s approach during this visit would be to defuse tensions with the Philippines by promising economic support. A litmus test of the extent to which China is prepared to show goodwill would probably lie in Beijing giving conditional access to Philippine fishermen to waters around the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Analysts do not rule [out] such a possibility happening during Duterte’s visit.

Nonetheless, China too may choose to progress slowly on the track of dialogue and cooperation with the Philippines. The fact of the matter is that the US still enjoys a far better image amongst the people in the Philippines. A recent survey showed that only 22 percent of the people reposed ‘trust’ in China, while the corresponding figure for the US stood at 76 percent. Then, there are the entrenched interest groups among the elites who are not impressed by Duterte’s apparent foreign-policy ‘tilt’ against the US.

What goes against the US at the present juncture is also that with only a few months left in office, the Obama administration is hardly in a position to invoke its powerful lobbies in the Manila elites (civilian and military) to launch a vigorous rearguard action to shore up the alliance with the Philippines from Duterte’s relentless onslaught. Indeed, that respite leaves with Duterte a free hand to keep pecking at the alliance with the US at random without caring about a backlash at least until the next presidency settles down in Washington. And, of course, he does have a way of saying things that many would consider as unsayable. (Guardian )

Having said that, the bottom line is Duterte happens to be the democratically-elected president of his country and his people adore him. His approval rating currently stands at an incredible level — 90 percent. Read a report on Duterte’s interview with Xinhua news agency, here.

 

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From Anthrax to Iraq

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corbetreport 

Robbie Martin of AVeryHeavyAgenda.com joins us to talk about his research into the anthrax attacks of 2001. We discuss how false information claiming an Iraqi link to the attacks was sowed via the mainstream media and how the story largely disappeared when the anthrax traced back to the US government’s own bioweapons labs. We also update the case and talk about some of the legitimate suspects in the attacks.

SHOW NOTES AND MP3

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Australia, Tagging Along into Other Nations’ Wars

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By James O’Neill | Consortium News 

For a country relatively remote from the world’s trouble spots, Australia throughout its short history since European settlement in the late Eighteenth Century has shown a remarkable capacity to involve itself in other people’s wars. With the possible exception of Japan in World War II none of these wars have posed a threat to Australia’s national security.

In the 1850s, Australia provided troops on behalf of the British in the Crimean War at a time when few Australians would have been able to locate Crimea on a map. Ironically, Tony Abbott as Prime Minister this decade was willing to commit troops to Ukraine, again over Crimea.

But Australian knowledge of historical and geopolitical realities in Crimea appeared no greater in 2014 than in the 1850s. The major difference was the infinitely greater threat to Australia’s national security if such a foolhardy plan had occurred in 2014 and Australian troops had found themselves confronting Russian forces.

Australian troops were also committed to the Boer War in South Africa, World Wars I and II, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, to name just the major conflicts. All of these involvements had two major characteristics in common: at no point (with the possible exception of Japan 1942-45) were Australia’s borders or national security threatened; and each involvement was at the behest of a foreign imperial power, often on entirely spurious grounds. The last four named conflicts above – Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – had the added dimension of being contrary to international law.

A common justification advanced in support of these foreign adventures is that they constitute a form of insurance policy, with the deaths of tens of thousands of Australian servicemen and women being the premium that has to be paid. If we do not pay these premiums, the argument runs, the “policy” expires and our “great and powerful friends” – the United Kingdom and more recently the United States – will not come to our aid if and when we are, in turn, attacked.

It has never been clear just who these aggressors might be, despite endless manufactured potential foes, nor why Australia feels the need to base its foreign policy thus when scores of countries do not feel similarly threatened nor feel the need to pay such a price for their “security.”

The capacity to have an intelligent debate about whether or not there are other, and better, options, is severely hampered by a number of factors. One of the major factors is the concentration of ownership of the mainstream print media. The Murdoch empire controls 70 percent of the nation’s newspapers and is run by someone who is now an American citizen and no longer resides in Australia. The bulk of the balance is controlled by the Fairfax family who at least reside in Australia.

This concentration of ownership results in a degree of uniformity of opinion that Stalin would have recognized and appreciated. There is a greater diversity of media ownership and opinion in modern Russia than there is in Australia, yet the relentless message in the Australian media is that Russia is an authoritarian state where dissent from an all powerful Vladimir Putin is discouraged or worse. Such a view would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.

The Pervasive ‘Group Think’

Academia is little better. The universities and the so-called “think tanks” rely heavily on subsidies from their American equivalents, or from Australian government departments committed to the government’s policies. There is an obvious reluctance to criticize, for example, American foreign policy when such criticism endangers funding sources, promotions, and comfortable sabbaticals in the U.S.

A recent example of the intellectual drivel that this can lead to was found in the recent publication of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute entitled “Why Russia is a Threat to the International Order,” authored by Paul Dibb, a former spymaster. It was an ill-informed discussion all too typical of what passes for foreign policy analysis. Not only did it demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of Russian strategic policy, it wholly accepted and American-centered view of the world.

In Dibb’s world, the Americans only act from the best of intentions and for the benefit of the people unfortunate enough to to be the object of their attentions. Any analysis of the way U.S. foreign policy is actually practiced is air brushed from the reader’s attention. The treatment of Ukraine is instructive in this regard.

Dibb completely ignores the February 2014 American-organized and financed coup that removed the legitimate Yanukovich government from power. Dibb ignores the military agreement that provided for the stationing of Russian troops in Crimea; that Crimea had for centuries been part of Russia until Khrushchev “gifted” Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 (without consulting the Crimeans); the overwhelming support in two referenda to secede from Ukraine and apply to rejoin the Russian Federation; the discriminatory treatment of the largely Russian-speaking population of the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine; and the Kiev regime’s systematic violation of the Minsk Accords designed to find a peaceable solution to the Ukrainian conflict.

Instead, he writes that Russia’s “invasion” and “annexation” of Crimea and its attempt through military means to detach the Donbass region in the eastern part of Ukraine have to be seen as a fundamental challenge to the post-war sanctity of Europe’s borders. Such historical revisionism and detachment from reality is unfortunately not confined to Dibb. It is all too common in the Australian media in all its forms.

A selective view of the world, of which Dibb is but one example, extends to a sanitizing of the U.S.’s role in post-war history. The U.S. has bombed, invaded, undermined, overthrown the governments of, and destroyed more countries and killed more people in the process over the past 70 years than all other countries in the world combined. Its disregard for international law, all the while proclaiming the importance of a “rules based system,” is well documented.

A particularly egregious but far from unique example is the war in Syria in which Australia is also involved, even to the comical extent of admitting culpability in the “mistaken” bombing of Syrian government troops at Door Ez Zair.

That the bombing was not a mistake but rather, as several commentators have pointed out (although never in the Australian media), was much more likely to have been a deliberate sabotaging by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s Pentagon element of the American war machine of the Kerry-Lavrov negotiated partial ceasefire.

Syrian intelligence has reported intercepts of communications between the U.S. military and the jihadist terrorists immediately before the bombing in which their respective actions were coordinated. The bombing was followed by immediate terrorist attacks on Syrian army positions in the area and is highly unlikely to have been a coincidence.

Cozy with Terrorists

This is, of course, consistent with American policy in Syria from the outset. The U.S. government has sought to maintain a ludicrous distinction between “moderate” terrorists and the rest.

Before the Russian intervention at the end of September 2015, the U.S. managed to avoid actually stopping the Islamic State advance through large swathes of Syrian territory, and together with Washington’s Saudi and Qatari allies have trained, financed and armed the terrorists from the outset. All of which is part of a pattern of U.S. support for terrorists, as long as they support U.S. strategic goals.

No such analysis appears in the Australian mainstream media which maintains an unswerving allegiance to only one form of analysis. This dangerous group think and intolerance of dissent is exemplified in a recent article by Peter Hartcher, the senior political correspondent of the Fairfax media.

Hartcher described what he called “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows” by which he meant opponents in Australia of a war with China. The “rats” were politicians “compromised by China’s embrace”; the “flies” are the “unwitting mouthpieces for the interests of the Chinese regime”; the mosquitoes were Australian business people “so captivated by their financial interests that they demand Australia assume a kowtow position”; the “sparrows” were Chinese students and Australia-Chinese associations that exist “specifically to spread China’s influence.”

In Hartcher’s view all four groups were “pests” that needed to be eradicated. To call this reversion to the worst elements of 1950s McCarthyism is probably to do the late junior Senator from Wisconsin a disservice.

Were it simply a case of ignorance it might be simply consigned to the scrap heap where it richly belongs. But it is representative of the same mindset that has led Australia into so many disastrous foreign policy misadventures that it cannot be ignored. Another reason it cannot be ignored is that it represents and affects a widely held view among Australian politicians.

The demonization of Russia in general and Vladimir Putin in particular is clearly evident in the reporting of the situation in Ukraine and Syria. The ignoring of history and the inversion of reality is the default position. Everything that Russia does is a manifestation of its “aggression.” Putin is commonly described as a “dictator” and the appalling Hillary Clinton even compared him with Hitler.

That there is not a shred of evidence to support the many wild allegations against President Putin does not prevent their regular repetition in the Western media.

Ignoring International Law

Similar blindness is evident with regard to the reporting on Syria. Australia is manifestly in breach of the United Nations Charter in its participation in the attacks upon the Syrian government and its forces. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s laughable defense of the presence of the Australian military in Syria, the central plank of which was specifically denied by the Iraqi government, was nonetheless accepted without question by the Australian mainstream media.

There is more preposterous posturing over the South China Sea. The much vaunted “freedom of navigation” demanded for shipping in the South China Sea (although no one can point to a single instance of civilian maritime traffic being hindered in any way) is a concept selectively applied. Just ask a Cuban, Palestinian or Yemeni if freedom of navigation is their recent or current experience of American policy.

Australia partakes annually in a U.S.-led naval exercise, Operation Talisman Sabre that rehearses the blockading of the Malacca Straits, a vital seaway for China that along with dozens of military bases (including in Australia), missile systems surrounding China, free trade agreements that pointedly exclude the world’s largest trading nation, and many other aspects designed to “contain” China, are not the activities of a peacefully oriented nation.

Australia not only participates in clearly provocative actions, but the 2015 Defense White Paper is clearly predicated on planning a war with China. Public statements by senior defense personnel, both civilian and military, reflect a militaristic mindset vis-a-vis China that can only be described as magical thinking given the military capacity of the Peoples Republic of China to obliterate Australia within 30 minutes of hostilities actually breaking out is only part of the problem.

That such thinking takes place in a context where China, the perceived enemy, is also the country’s largest trading partner by a significant margin and the source of much of Australia’s prosperity over the past 40 years reveals a strategic conundrum that the politicians have singularly failed to come to grips with. Worse, it is not even considered a matter worthy of sustained serious discussion.

By its conduct both in Syria and the South China Sea, Australia runs the risk of becoming involved in a full-scale shooting war with both Russia and China. Viewed objectively, there is little doubt that in any such conflagration Russia and China enjoy significant military advantages. Even that superiority is not to be entertained. Instead, Australia pursues the purchase of hugely expensive submarines and F-35 fighter planes the strategic and military value of which is at best dubious and more probably, useless.

What then is the benefit to Australia of constantly putting itself in a position where the best it could hope for would be collateral damage? No rational human being would advance on a course of action where the detriments so significantly outweigh the benefits, so why should a nation be any different?

With its crumbling infrastructure, endless wars that it regularly loses, a corrupt money-dominated political culture, technologically inferior weaponry and enormous burgeoning debt, the U.S. is hardly a model protector. To believe otherwise is simply delusional.

As the U.S.-based Russian blogger Dimitry Orlov  has recently pointed out, Russia’s international conduct is governed by three basic principles: using military force as a reactive security measure; scrupulous adherence to international law; and seeing military action as being in the service of diplomacy. That clearly does not accord with the relentless misinformation Australians are constantly fed but to confuse propaganda with reality is a dangerous basis upon which to formulate foreign policy.

China is also choosing a radically different path in its international relations. The One Belt, One Road, or New Silk Road initiatives, associated as they are with a range of other developments, the significance of which most Australians barely grasp, has the capacity to transform the world’s financial, economic and geopolitical structures in a remarkably short time.

The choice for Australia is stark.  Does it persist in aligning itself with what the late Malcolm Fraser accurately called a “dangerous ally”?  Or does it recognize that the world upon which its comfortable and dangerous illusions are based is rapidly changing and adjust its alliances accordingly.

At the moment Australia has the luxury of choice, but it is an opportunity that will vanish very quickly. Unfortunately, the lesson of history is that Australia will again make the wrong choice.

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The Democrats’ Joe McCarthy Moment

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By Robert Parry | Consortium News 

My first book, Fooling America, examined Washington’s excited “conventional wisdom” around the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 when nearly the entire political-punditry elite was thrilled about bombing the heck out of Iraq, inflicting heavy civilian casualties in Baghdad and slaughtering tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers as they fled from Kuwait.

Ironically, one of the few dissenters from this war lust was right-wing commentator Robert Novak, who actually did some quality reporting on how President George H.W. Bush rejected repeated peace overtures because he wanted a successful ground war as a way to instill a new joy of war among the American people.

Bush recognized that a brief, victorious ground war would – in his words – “kick the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all,” i.e. get Americans to forget their revulsion about foreign wars, a hangover from the bloody defeat in Vietnam.

So Novak, the anti-communist hardliner who often had baited other pundits for their “softness” toward “commies,” became on this occasion a naysayer who wanted to give peace a chance. But that meant Novak was baited on “The Capital Gang” chat show for his war doubts.

To my surprise, one of the most aggressive enforcers of the pro-war “group think” was Wall Street Journal Washington bureau chief Al Hunt, who had often been one of the more thoughtful, less warmongering voices on the program. Hunt dubbed Novak “Neville Novak,” suggesting that Novak’s interest in avoiding war in the Middle East was on par with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Adolf Hitler before World War II.

Months later when I interviewed Hunt about his mocking of Novak’s anti-war softness, Hunt justified his “Neville Novak” line as a fitting rejoinder for all the times Novak had baited opponents for their softness against communism. “After years of battling Novak from the left, to have gotten to his right, I enjoyed that,” Hunt said.

At the time, I found this tit-for-tat, hah-hah gotcha behavior among Washington’s armchair warriors troubling because it ignored the terrible suffering of people in various countries at the receiving end of American military might, such as the Iraqi civilians including women and children who were burned alive when a U.S. bomb penetrated a Baghdad bomb shelter, as well as the young Iraqi soldiers incinerated in their vehicles as they fled the battlefield.

In the 100-hour ground war, U.S. casualties were relatively light, 147 killed in combat and another 236 killed in accidents or from other causes. “Small losses as military statistics go,” Gen. Colin Powell wrote later, “but a tragedy for each family.” In Official Washington, however, the dead were a small price to pay for a “feel-good” war that let President Bush vanquish the psychological ghosts of the Vietnam War.

I also had the sickening sense that this “popular” war – celebrated with victory parades and lavish firework displays – was setting the stage for more horrors in the future. Already, neoconservative pundits, such as The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer, were demanding that U.S. forces must go all the way to Baghdad and “finish the job” by getting rid of Saddam Hussein. A dangerous hubris was taking hold in Washington.

As we have seen in the decades since, the euphoria over the Persian Gulf victory did feed into the imperial arrogance that contributed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. At that moment, when the neocons in George W. Bush’s administration were concocting excuses for finally marching to Baghdad, there were almost no voices among the big-shot commentators who dared repeat Robert Novak’s “mistake” of 1991.

Playing Joe McCarthy

I mention all this now because we are seeing something similar with the Democrats as they lead the charge into a dangerous New Cold War with Russia. The Democrats, who bore the brunt of the Red-baiting during the earlier Cold War, are now playing the roles of Senators Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon in smearing anyone who won’t join in the Russia-bashing as “stooges,” “traitors” and “useful idiots.”

When Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has one of his few lucid moments and suggests that the U.S. should cooperate with Russia rather than provoke more confrontations, he is denounced from many political quarters. But the attacks are most feverish from Democrats looking to give Hillary Clinton a boost politically and a diversionary excuse for her Wall Street speeches that she tried so hard to keep hidden until they were released by WikiLeaks from hacked emails of her longtime adviser John Podesta.

The Obama administration’s intelligence community has claimed, without presenting evidence, that Russian intelligence was behind the Democratic Party hacks as a way to influence the U.S. election, a somewhat ironic charge given the long history of the U.S. government engaging in much more aggressive actions to block the election of disfavored politicians abroad and even to overthrow democratically elected leaders who got in Washington’s way.

Rather than seeking to explain Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street bigwigs and other special interests, Podesta and other Democrats have simply piled on the Russia-bashing with suggestions that Trump is consorting with America’s enemies.

While the Democrats may consider this strategy very clever – a kind of karmic payback for the Republican red-baiting of Democrats during the Cold War – it carries even greater dangers than Al Hunt’s putting down Robert Novak for trying to save lives in the Persian Gulf War.

By whipping up a new set of whipping boys – the “evil” Russians and their “ultra-evil” leader Vladimir Putin – the Democrats are setting in motion passions that could spin out of control and cause a President Hillary Clinton to push the two nuclear powers into a crisis that – with a simple misjudgment on the part of either nation – could end life on the planet.

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The White Helmet Controversy

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By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice 

White Helmets Phenom

Unknown to most people, the White Helmets brand was conceived and directed by a marketing company named “The Syria Campaign” based in New York. They have managed to fool millions of people. Walt Disney might have made a great movie about this: unarmed volunteers fearlessly rescuing survivors in the midst of war without regard to religion or politics. Like most other “true life” Disney movies, it is 10% reality, 90% fiction.

Due to its success, Western countries are dedicating ever larger amounts of funding. The White Helmets were the 17 October TIME magazine cover story. Nikolas Kristof at the NY Times has gushed over them for years. They recently won a 2016 Right Livelihood Award. Netflix has recently released a special ‘documentary’ movie about the White Helmets.  With impeccable timing, the mainstream media acclaim reached a crescendo with both the UK Guardian and The Independent calling on the Nobel Committee to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the White Helmets.

It’s not just establishment that has gushed over the White Helmets. CODEPINK recommended the Netflix movie and DemocracyNow! ran a puff piece interview with the infomercial directors. The Intercept published an uncritical promotion of the White Helmets and their dubious leader. (CODEPINK received a lot of criticism and later issued a correction.)

The Reality Behind the White Helmet Image

In contrast with the uncritical promotion of the White Helmets, there have been some investigations of their reality during the past 1.5 years. This timeline shows the early investigations. In April 2015 Dissident Voice published an expose of  their actual creation and purpose. Since then there have been an increasing number of articles and videos revealing what is behind the ‘feel good’ veneer. Vanessa Beeley has produced numerous articles including documentation of the REAL Syrian Civil Defense which was founded six decades ago. She initiated an online Change.org petition which gathered 3.3 thousand signatures to NOT GIVE THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE to the WHITE HELMETS. That was twice as many signatures as the petition to GIVE the Nobel Prize to them. Apparently that fact upset someone influential because Change.org removed the petition without explanation. Did it violate “community standards”? You can judge for yourself because the petition is shown here.

Another online petition, also at CHANGE.ORG, is still up and running. It calls on the Right Livelihood Foundation to RETRACT their award to the White Helmets. The petition includes ten reasons they do not deserve the prize and are not what they are presented to be. They stole the name Syria Civil Defense from the real Syrian organization. They appropriated the name “White Helmets” from the Argentinian rescue organization Cascos Blancos/White Helmets. They are not independent; they are funded by governments. They are not apolitical; they actively campaign for a No Fly Zone. They do not work across Syria; they ONLY work in areas controlled by the armed opposition, mostly Nusa/Al Qaeda. They are not unarmed; they sometimes do carry weapons and they also celebrate terrorist victories. They assist in terrorist executions.

In recent weeks, information about the true nature of the White Helmets has been spreading. Max Blumenthal has a two part expose at Alternet: How the White Helmets became International Heroes while Pushing US Intervention and Regime Change in Syria” and Inside the Shadowy PR Firm that’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria”  Scott Ritter has written an article which critically looks at the White Helmets’ “lionization”.  Internationally, the Israeli TV station I24 ran a special report with the title “White Helmets: Heroes or Hoax?”, giving equal coverage to supporters and critics. Even The National out of United Arab Emirates has documented the controversy around the White Helmets.

Franklin Lamb Lashes Out at White Helmet Critics

Some supporters of the White Helmets have lashed back. The British military contractor who initially set up the organization has accused his critics of being ‘proxies’ for the Syrian and Russian governments. And in recent days, Franklin Lamb leaped to the defense of the White Helmets with an article titled Political Defamation Campaign targets Rescue Workers in Syria.”

Lamb’s critique is almost as misleading as the group he defends. It appears he has not read many of the serious criticisms and exposes of the White Helmets. He does not provide references or sources so that a reader can compare his description with what critics actually said.

Lamb accuses critics of waging a “malicious campaign” against the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and International Committee of the Red Cross as well as the White Helmets. That is false. Here is what has been actually said: “Unlike a legitimate rescue organization such as the Red Cross or Red Crescent, the “White Helmets” only work in areas controlled by the armed opposition.” The online petition to RETRACT the Right Livelihood Award says “The NATO White Helmets actually undermine and detract from the work of authentic organizations such as the REAL Syria Civil Defense and Syrian Arab Red Crescent.”

Lamb echoes White Helmet propaganda by repeatedly referring to them as volunteers. But they are not. They are all paid — with the White Helmet media managers in Brooklyn New York, Gaziantep Turkey and Beirut Lebanon making sizable salaries. As to the on-the-ground ‘White Helmets’ based Nusra territory in Aleppo and Idlib, they are paid much more than full time Syrian soldiers for their part time real and staged rescue operations.

Lamb laments the fact that MSF (Medicins Sans Frontiers/Doctors without Borders) has been criticized. However, MSF has shown itself to be politically biased. The organization has no staff inside Syria yet continues to issue statements as if they had clear compelling evidence when it seems they do not. Recently MSF claimed that four hospitals in terrorist controlled sectors of East Aleppo had been bombed and two doctors injured. They do not identify the names or locations of the hospitals or the names of the doctors. The report is apparently based on hearsay.

Perhaps MSF does not identify the name or location of the hospitals because when they did report names and locations, such as with Al Quds Hospital in April 2016, it was found that their report was inconsistent and full of contradictions. MSF claimed “According to hospital staff on the ground, the hospital was destroyed by at least one airstrike which directly hit the building, reducing it to rubble.” Photographs from before and after the event showed this assertion to be untrue. The so called “Al Quds Hospital” was an unidentified largely vacant apartment building with sandbags at the ground floors. MSF’s bias is also shown by the fact they refuse to provide any services or support to the 90% of the Syrian population which is in government controlled areas. MSF has not responded to a previous open letter questioning their bias. Nor have they responded to invitations to visit government controlled Aleppo to evaluate the reality versus the claims of their allies in Nusra/Al Qaeda territory.

Lamb says “The White Helmets are being attacked with all sorts of unfounded accusations and conspiracy theories.” On the contrary, the evidence is overwhelming. White Helmets are funded by Western governments which want ‘regime change’. White Helmets pick up bodies after execution. White Helmets carry weapons and celebrate jihadi victories. White Helmets ONLY work in areas dominated by Nusra or an ally. White Helmets actively campaign for a No Fly Zone. These are not “conspiracy theories”; they are facts easily proven in the videos and articles about them.

Lamb says, “White Helmet rescuers are much like Syria’s population in general, including most of the 12 million refugees, who have come to abhor politics.” It is true that nearly all Syrians abhor the war that has been imposed on them. However, the vast majority of Syrians also hate the terrorists while most ‘White Helmets’ are allied with them. Lamb is also wrong on the refugee count. There are about 12 million internally displaced persons but the number of refugees is closer to 4 million. Two thirds of the internally displaced persons are living inside Syria in areas under government control.

The White Helmets were “branded” by a marketing company called The Syria Campaign which itself was “incubated” (their term) by a larger marketing company called Purpose. Along with managing the online and social media promotion of the White Helmets, the Syria Campaign has parallel efforts in support of “regime change” in Syria. One of these efforts has been to criticize United Nations and humanitarian relief organizations which supply aid to displaced persons living in areas protected by the Syrian government. This situation is documented in an editorial here where the author says: “The allegations made by the Syria Campaign and others were written by people who know nothing about the UN and how it must work.” Apparently unaware of the facts about The Syria Campaign, the outraged Franklin Lamb calls this “defamatory nonsense!”

Lamb echoes the White Helmet propaganda that they have saved “65,000 Syrian citizens, many being their neighbors, families and friends.” This is extreme exaggeration. The areas controlled by the terrorists have very few civilians living in them. A medical doctor visiting east Aleppo two years ago described it as a ‘ghost town’. When cat videos were popular on social media, the White Helmet video team produced their own fake cat video. It showed White Helmet members playing with stray cats in empty neighborhoods. They say, “The homeowners abandoned this district and its kittens.” Yes, most of the civilians abandoned it because the terrorists invaded it. In short, this number of rescues is an extreme exaggeration. The real number is probably just a few percent of that.

lattakia-masks2-768x476Lamb believes the critics of the White Helmets are ‘defaming” them. It’s almost laughable except it’s bitterly ironic. The REAL Syrian Civil Defense works on a shoestring budget with REAL volunteers without a video team accompanying and promoting them. Most in the West are unaware they even exist. The situation for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which is a genuinely neutral and independent relief organization, is similar although they at least have a good website.

Lamb complains about “the massive use of pejorative language to smear rescue workers.” The reality, of course, is the precise opposite in the case of the “White Helmets.”  There has been a flood of uncritical praise for this three year old organization created by the West and for goals of the West. On the contrary, they have not been sufficiently examined and exposed. Lamb’s heartfelt concern about the poor White Helmets being unfairly criticized is bizarre.

Franklin Lamb claims to have filed his article from Aleppo University Hospital. This is located in government protected Aleppo. Why does he make no reference to the victims of terrorist bombings, sniping and attacks who fill the Aleppo University Hospital? Why does he make no reference to the REAL Syrian Civil Defense which brought to the hospital many injured victims? In his closing, Franklin invites anyone interested to visit the White Helmets with him. Is he serious? Very few journalists or Western ‘observers’ have been in terrorist controlled Aleppo for years. Two of the last batch were James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, subsequently murdered by ISIS. Franklin needs to provide some evidence that he actually was in East Aleppo with the Nusra and the White Helmets. Otherwise one might question whether his conversations with White Helmet ‘volunteers’ were actually in Gaziantep Turkey.

The Controversy Continues

As the Syrian government and allies try to finally crush or expel the terrorists from Aleppo, the White Helmets have become a major tool in the West’s propaganda tool chest. The image of the White Helmets deflects attention from the sectarian violent and unpopular nature of Nusra and other armed opposition groups. This is used in parallel with accusations that Syrian and Russian attacks are primarily hitting civilians. Western media gives an image that there are only civilians and White Helmets under attack in east Aleppo; the terrorists have been whited out of the picture.

White Helmets have gone from being talked about to the ones doing the talking. News stories increasingly use White Helmet witnesses as their theme or source.  One day CNN says a White Helmet aid center has been hit. Another day it is claimed that White Helmet individuals are being “hunted.”  A White Helmet performs the role of journalist not first responder as he claims to be “eye witness” to Syrian barrel bombs destroying the humanitarian convoy and warehouse on September 19 in Orem al Kubra.

There are reasons to be suspicious.  For example, in the case of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy that was attacked in Orem al Kubra:

* This is the same town where the documentary “Saving Syria’s Children” was filmed. A detailed investigation has shown that sequences in that BBC movie were largely if not entirely staged.

* This town is controlled by the infamous Nour al Din al Zinki terrorist group which recently filmed itself beheading a young Palestinian Syrian boy.

* It is illogical that Syrian or Russian planes would attack a SARC convoy. They could have stopped the convoy when it was in government held territory. The Syrian government works together with SARC. Why would they attack the convoy?

* The one to ‘benefit’ from the atrocity is the US Coalition and those supporting the regime change project. The attack took attention away from the US killing of 70+ Syrian soldiers on September 17 and facilitated the resumption of accusations against Syria and Russia. More contradictions and inconsistencies regarding the White Helmet witness are pointed out in this incisive analysis.

* The Russian and Syrian governments called for an independent investigation of the attack site but this has not been done, presumably because the terrorists controlling the area have not allowed it.

With massive publicity, there is now greatly increased public awareness of the three year old White Helmets. Ironically SARC, which works with neutrality, have been largely ignored. And the original 60+ year old Syrian Civil Defense continues to work with absolutely no recognition in the West.

Are the White Helmets heroes or a politically motivated hoax? The time to investigate is now. It does little good to uncover falsehoods and manipulations years later. This is especially true because the people who created and uncritically promoted previous hoaxes such as Nayirah and the Kuwaiti incubators, Curveball and the Iraqi WMD have gone without penalty or punishment despite the enormous cost in lives and resources. The White Helmets should be seriously investigated lest they be used to promote more war in Syria.

 

Posted in SyriaComments Off on The White Helmet Controversy

Nazi regime refuses to sign US document regulating export of killer drones 

NOVANEWS

Image result for ISRAELI US document PHOTO

Jewish Nazi regime is reportedly refusing to sign a US document on the use and export guidelines of armed drones, fearing it would hurt its defense industries. The State Department paper aims to establish international standards in the production and selling of UAVs.

The one-page document, titled “Joint Declaration for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),” covers a number of topics regarding the selling and usage of drone systems, according to Defense News.

Those topics include applying international law and human rights when using UAVs; following existing arms control laws in selling armed drone systems; considering the buyer country’s history on “adherence to international obligations and commitments”; following “appropriate transparency measures”; and ensuring the sold unmanned system’s capabilities are “transferred and used responsibly by all states.”

The document has been provided to countries which are considered to be US allies and has already been signed by over 40 nations, including Austria, Germany and Italy.

Nazi regime, however, has so far refused to sign the document, with sources in the country’s defense industry telling Haaretz that the sector is concerned it could limit the nation’s export business.

Nazi regime is potentially already facing a loss of business when it comes to drone exports, following the admission of India to the multilateral Missile Technology Control Regime by the US – a move which removes barriers to the sale of American UAVs to the country.

Following India’s admission into the regime, Delhi has shown an interest in acquiring the US-made Predator drone rather than Israeli UAVs.

Another threat to Nazi regime share of the drone market includes a lawsuit by the American firm General Atomics, which is aiming to block the lease of the Nazi Heron TP drone to Germany.

However, a senior air force official told Haaretz that Nazi regime still has one advantage when it comes to drones – the promise for the country’s drone squadron to train buyers of Nazi UAVs, as Nazi air force is considered a world leader in the field.

In addition to its efforts to maintain its stronghold in the market, Nazi is also seeking to have limitations placed on information regarding its deployment of drones. When German MPs demanded answers regarding Berlin’s lease of Heron TP drones earlier this year, they were denied information and told the matter was considered confidential by Nazi regime, and that any information was subject to limitations imposed by Tel Aviv.

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Nazi regime looks to buy three new nuke-capable subs

NOVANEWS
Image result for ISRAELI NUCLEAR BOMB CARTOON

Nazi regime is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of $1.3 billion, Zionist newspaper reported Friday

The planned purchase aims to replace within the next decade the oldest submarines in its existing Dolphin fleet, which began entering service in 1999, the Maariv daily reported.

Contacted by AFP, the “Defense Ministry” declined to comment on the report.

Jewish Nazi reime already has five of the state-of-the-art German submarines, with a sixth due for delivery in 2017.

Foreign military sources and governments say the Dolphins can be equipped with missiles armed with nuclear warheads.

Nazi regime has between 100 and 200 warheads and missiles capable of delivering them.

The new submarines are said to be more advanced, longer, and equipped with better accessories, the newspaper added.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Nazi regime looks to buy three new nuke-capable subs

Sukkot, feast of intimidation, oppression and illegal annexation

NOVANEWS
International Solidarity Movement 

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – This past week marked the feast of Sukkot, which brought settlers from illegal settlements all over the occupied West Bank to al-Khalil (Hebron). There, with restrictions, harassment, collective punishment and intimidation of Palestinians – all in favor of the illegal settlers – the spirit of the Jewish holiday was turned into a feast of intimidation and oppression for the Palestinian residents, going hand in hand with increasing illegal annexation of their land.

With bus-loads of settlers from all over the illegally occupied Palestinian West Bank pouring into al-Khalil, Israeli forces stepped up the movement-restrictions and checkpoint closures for Palestinians even more, thus making the maze of checkpoints, already almost impossible to navigate into a maze that ends mainly in dead-ends. For several days, the main checkpoint connecting the Palestinian market with the area around the Ibrahimi Mosque was closed for Palestinians, and Palestinian shop-owners in the mosque-area were forced shut by the Israeli forces – all to facilitate settler movement in areas that lack any presence of Palestinians.

The road connecting the settlements in the heart of al-Khalil with the Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of al-Khalil – where only settlers are allowed to drive – has largely been cordonned off with police-barriers.

The area cordonned off by #IsraeliForces

The area cordonned off by Israeli forces

Thus, school-children were not only forced to pass an even larger amount of heavily-armed military and police forces, but also navigate the maze of complete closures for Palestinians, areas to avoid due to excessive settler presence and the gates put up preventing movement in certain directions.

School-children forced to pass heavily-armed Israeli forces and maze of police-barriers

School-children forced to pass heavily-armed Israeli forces and the maze of police-barriers

Students of al-Faihaa girls school in the Ibrahimi Mosque area, where just recently a new CCTV surveillance tower was put up following and recording every step of the Palestinian residents movement, are now studying right next to a military encampment. The building right next to the girls school entrance has already been mis-used and turned into a military encampement during last year’s Sukkot celebrations.

Building illegally occupied by Israeli forces for a military base

Building illegally occupied by Israeli forces for a military base

On Tuesday, many of the settlers arriving to al-Khalil on the occassion of the holiday, were ‘guided’ through the Palestinian market by Israeli forces, preventing Palestinians’ access in their own marketplace for hours. Just a day later, soldiers effectively imposed a curfew on the tiny strip of Shuhada Street where Palestinians are still allowed to walk, the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and the Bab al-Zawwiya area. The latter is located in the H1 area of al-Khalil, supposedly under full Palestinian control. With the closure of Shuhada checkpoint for six hours, Palestinian civilians were either locked inside or outside their houses, while settlers were accompanied by heavily armed military forces to a tomb located in the H1-area, forcing shop-owners to close.

On Thursday morning, Israeli forces marched through the streets of al-Khalil, with drums and music, in a pure show of force and power. The march went on the settler only road, that has been ethnically cleansed from Palestinian cars (but does still allow Palestinian pedestrians), illustrating the continuous plans and attempts to connect the illegal settlements in an area ethnically cleansed of any Palestinian presence.

Soldiers marching through al-Khalil

Soldiers marching through al-Khalil

Throughout the increasing efforts to illegally annex more and more strips of land, and erase first the memory of the Palestinian heritage as a step to then erase the whole Palestinian population, Israeli forces are employing the ‘power of words’. More and more areas, streets and houses that belong to Palestinians, but in which settlers have already moved in (and were succinctly kicked out by the army), are given Hebrew names, eradicating the Palestinian names. This is just one small step of illegal annexation that even goes so far to call the illegal Israeli settlements in the city center of al-Khalil “Jewish neighborhoods”.

Signs put up for 'tourist settlers' in al-Khalil by Israeli forces

Signs put up for ‘tourist settlers’ in al-Khalil by Israeli forces

With the holiday of Sukkot lasting for another three days, more restrictions and harassment are expected. And even with the end of the holiday, the restrictions, harassment and intimidation of Palestinian civilians solely and deliberately on the ground of their ethnic group, with the continuous illegal annexation of the land, will not stop as long as the illegal occupation is allowed by the international community to continue their efforts of ethnic cleansing.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Sukkot, feast of intimidation, oppression and illegal annexation

“No Palestinians during the holiday”: Palestinian man harassed during Sukkot

NOVANEWS

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International Solidarity Movement 

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Late Thursday morning, as Palestinian schools in the Old City of occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) were dismissing their students early due to enhanced settler activity, Israeli forces harassed a Palestinian man and denied him his right of movement through the large parking lot near the base of al-Ibrahimi Mosque. The reason for this incident, as well as the increase in settler activity, was due to the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles. Throughout this entire week, Israeli Forces have increased their numbers stationed around the Mosque, and it was one of these members of the occupation forces that decided to harass this Palestinian civilian.

The man, a local tour guide in the Old City of al-Khalil, entered the parking lot in order to reach a group of Turkish tourists who had just arrived. Upon setting foot in the lot, two members of the Israeli Border Police approached him, with one using his hands to physically shove him away from the cordoned off entrance. As he tried to explain that he merely wanted to pass through to reach the tourists, the border policeman raised his voice and shouted at him to get back. When the man asked why he was not allowed to pass through when so many tourists were permitted to, the answer he received was, “You are Palestinian. No Palestinians pass through here during the holiday.” The man had no choice but to turn around and walk around the parking lot.

The denial towards Palestinians of their right to movement by Israeli forces is a fundamental weapon of the occupation. By preventing Palestinians from entering historical and religious sites, and working to minimize their presence around Jewish festivities, Israel uses the excuse of the holidays to continue its process of ethnically cleaning al-Khalil of its indigenous Palestinian population. On Wednesday, Israeli Forces came out in force to block off a road in the so-called Palestinian controlled H1 area to allow settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements to have access to a supposed prayer site in the city.  This is merely one of the many examples of how Jewish holidays act as a cover for forceful intimidation of Palestinians.

The harassment of this man this morning is symptomatic of the devaluation of Palestinian life under the Israeli occupation across the land of Palestine.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on “No Palestinians during the holiday”: Palestinian man harassed during Sukkot

Palestine: Nazi Occupation Captured

NOVANEWS
Hebron Occupation Captured
CPT 
Prayer Ban
Pictured here: Israeli Border Police prevented Palestinian men from 15-35 years old from passing  through the checkpoint to the Ibrahimi Mosque. Friday is the Muslim holiday and the noon prayer is the most important prayer time of the week (analogous to Sunday morning worship for Christians.)
(October 14, 2016)
We Still Pray
Pictured here: Personnel from the Ibrahimi Mosque brought prayer rugs through the turnstile. After soldiers turned them away from the checkpoint, the group of men prepared their prayer space to exercise their right to practice their religion.
(October 14, 2016)
“Military Work”—said the solider
Pictured here: CPT received a call at 1:30 a.m. to about an ongoing night raid by the Israeli military in a printing shop. The soldiers stole six computers and more than ten hard drives. The military also threw printed material ready ready for delivery on the ground and stepped on it, leaving the imprints of their boots on the paper, ruining the shopowner’s means of livelihood.
(October 16, 2016)
Witness to Oppression
Pictured here: Two boys see the beginning of the settler tour, a weekly propaganda parade through Hebron’s old city where heavily armed soldiers, local settlers and empathetic visitors disrupt Palestinian lives. Group size vary every week, but there will be about two soldiers for every settler.
(October 15, 2016)
Legal Presence
Pictured here:  During the weekly settler tour, an Israeli settler told a Palestinian resident “my presence here is as legal as yours.”
(October 15, 2016)
All my life
Pictured here: These children have passed through this checkpoint all their lives. Now, they also have to face it every day on their way to and from school and experience the always increasing restrictions. How much longer will the checkpoint restrict their lives?
(October 12, 2016)
“We Teach Life, Sir”

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Palestine: Nazi Occupation Captured

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