Archive | May 12th, 2017

Investigation into Khan Sheikhoun: Rules-based order tested by Western scheming


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By Dr Alexander Yakovenko 

There is still no proper reaction by the OPCW to the alleged use of sarin in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on 4 April.

Unfortunately, the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Syria is shrouded in secrecy. What is clear is that it continues to operate in a remote mode, using Internet data mostly concocted by the radical elements of the Syrian opposition, including the notorious “White Helmets”.

From the scarce information one can gather that the samples taken from those injured or dead were tested in the OPCW-licensed laboratories in Britain and Turkey and established to be sarin or sarin-like substance. However, the samples were not taken at the site of the incident. Hence, the basic principle of the investigation, that of the chain of custody, hasn’t been observed. There are no answers on that from our Western partners. As there is no clear evidence that those people were from Khan Sheikhoun and not from somewhere else.

Equally dubious is the questioning of the “witnesses” by the FFM. One can’t be sure they were residents of Khan Sheikhoun. Moreover, those “witnesses”, as we understand, are mostly supporters of the opposition or their family members. Their impartiality is questionable. However, information is available, including provided by the Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, which demonstrates that those photo- and video- materials were clearly staged.

It looks like the FFM, so far, is not doing its job properly. That the FFM team, in terms of its composition, is absolutely dominated by the countries hostile to Damascus, is another fundamental flaw. This is in sharp contrast to the established international practice. According to the UN Secretary-General decision the UN-OPCW Investigation Mechanism mustn’t include representatives of the UNSC P5, as well as Syria’s neighbors. And yet the heads of both FFM segments are British citizens, albeit no one can in earnest assume the British position in the Syrian conflict as unbiased. Why not act by the book and why afraid of the truth being established in due course? The proposal to have a special investigation, with due oversight of the international community, was voted down by the West.

There’s still time to conduct a proper, full-fledged investigation. According to the UN Secretariat, the security situation in Khan Sheikhoun is quite acceptable. The Syrian side is also ready, in the interests of this investigation, to put a ceasefire in force along the way of the OPCW staff’s travel to the site. The Director-General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat stated his willingness to send the OPCW experts to Khan Sheikhoun.

The Syrian Government is also ready to ensure a totally secure environment for the FFM staff to visit Shayrat airbase. We insist on such a visit. The US Administration explained its Shayrat missile attack by the alleged storage of sarin at this airbase. It is necessary to verify this allegation.

It is a fair assumption that sarin could have been used in Khan Sheikhoun. The question is who did it and how the toxic substance was delivered. A few versions exist. As the information is accumulated there is more and more grounds to think that the terrorists controlling this area blew up the home-built sarin munition on the ground which resulted in civilian casualties. The “White Helmets” acted too hastily to stir public outrage and posted in-advance prepared materials on the Internet. However, they made several bad mistakes which point to the staged nature of those materials.

The definitive answer to what really happened in Khan Sheikhoun can only be provided by a full-fledged investigation in full compliance with the OPCW verification provisions. It is too serious a matter for peace in the region and a wider world for the OPCW to fail this test of credibility. Those who have taken over the FFM investigation are all to eager to manage the truth in their vested interest. Otherwise they wouldn’t obstruct efforts to open it up for due scrutiny. It is this tactics of pushing the UN Security Council to act on the basis of forged evidence and flawed investigation, that undermines the rules-based world order.

It has to be borne in mind that the British Foreign Secretary recently hypothesized on joining another US action in Syria in response to another chemical incident, which means that an order for it has already been placed. A lot is said about the disastrous lack of trust in international relations. Unilateral actions and takeovers of international bodies by the West further undermine it.

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Syria’s De-Escalation Zones Explained

At midnight, May 5, a series of four “de-escalation zones” were implemented across Syria. According to the agreement, no warplanes will be allowed to fly missions in territories included in the designated safe zones, including Syrian, Russian, and American warplanes.

The largest safe zone is comprised of Idlib province as well as adjoining districts of Latakia, Aleppo, and Hama, an area that contains around 1 million people. Other “safe zones” are located in the northern part of Homs, East Ghouta, Daraa, and Quneitra. The “safe zones” are slated to exist for six months, with the options of extending them after that time.

Journalist and analyst with The Rabbit Hole, Sarah Abed, wrote,

The memorandum, which comes into effect on May 5, envisages the cessation of hostilities between the sides, conditions for returning refugees, the restoration of destroyed urban infrastructure and the access of humanitarian organizations. Moreover, the checkpoints to control the movement of civilians and the ceasefire regime will be created along the de-escalation zone borders.

Understandably, many observers are wondering just what is taking place in Syria since the United States has long argued for “safe zones” and “no-fly zones” in Syria since very early on in the conflict. Now, “safe zones” are being established in Syria at the behest of Russia, with the cooperation of Iran and Syria. So what exactly is happening?

Russian Zones Different From American Zones

On one hand, Russia’s “de-escalation zones” are essentially the same thing as “safe zones” and “no-fly zones.” For instance, they are geographic areas in which no aerial assaults will be allowed and no military flights are to take place. However, there is a notable difference between the zones envisioned by the U.S. and the zones being implemented by Russia.

First, the Syrian government has agreed to the Russian plan. Second, the U.S. plan for “safe zones” and “no-fly zones” was aimed at the destruction of the Syrian military and the ultimate invasion of Syria by Western NATO forces. It is also notable that the United States was not a party to the negotiation of the zones nor is it allowed to conduct military bombing missions within the zones. In a sense, it is a “no-fly zone” against the United States as well as against other powers.

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That being said, the United States does not tend to fly over many of the areas encompassed by the new “de-escalation zone” plan, although it has done so in some isolated instances in the past. These airspaces are protected by Syrian SAM systems as well as Russian forces. The U.S. does fly over Idlib, however, and the Israelis tend to fly anywhere they wish, always confident that they can fight to the last American if Syria responds.

These “de-escalation zones” also have an expiration date of six months.

Zones Are A Plan To Free Up Syrian Military

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One other notable difference in the plans set forward by the Russians versus the American version is the apparent purpose of the zones. It appears that the real reason for the establishment of the “de-escalation zones” is an attempt to allow the SAA to free up forces that can then be deployed to eastern and southern Syria so that they can eliminate terrorist activity in these areas, prevent Israeli and Jordanian troops from partitioning the southern and southwestern parts of Syria, and prevent ISIS and the U.S. from establishing their own partition in the eastern part. It is also an attempt to speed up the Syrian military’s progress in the race for Raqqa.

More importantly, the zones appear to be an attempt to free up Syrian military personnel to fight and retake Deir ez-Zour. If the Syrian military can once again reconnect Deir ez-Zour to the Tabqa airbase, which would allow for a more effective staging ground for military operations in the East and around the city. It would essentially alleviate the pressure consistently put on Deir ez-Zour for three years by the United States and its proxy army of terrorists. It would then allow for a stronger staging ground for the SAA to push west.

The Russian Defense Ministry has already announced that Russia will participate in the military operation to lift the siege of Deir ez-Zour. As al-Masdar News reports,

The Russian military will participate in the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) upcoming offensive to lift the two year long siege on the Deir Ezzor Governorate, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced today.

The Russian Air Force will likely provide the primary air cover to the Syrian Arab Army in east Homs, while their military advisers embed with the latter.

This announcement from the Russian Ministry of Defense comes just hours after the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces arrived in the Palmyra countryside to begin this upcoming operation.

The military operation’s first target will be the desert town of ‘Arak, which is located along the Sukhnah-Palmyra Road in eastern Homs.

The Syrian military push east is an urgent necessity in order to foil the U.S./NATO/ Israeli plan to break up Syria and partition it as a result of foreign or terrorist forces firmly planted in specific regions backed by Western, Arabian, and Israeli funds and arms.

In addition, as Syrian analyst Afraa Dagher stated in an interview with Adam Garrie of The Duran, oil is also a major consideration both for the Western imperial powers and the Syrian/Russian alliance. She said,

“The USA along with Jordan and Israel, worked hard to control the southern border of Syria and created mutual military rooms in order to restrain Syria’s anti-terrorist efforts. The US goal is to advance towards Deir AlZour which is rich in oil, and which is important for Qatar to supply its oil to Europe across the Syrian Land , which will impact the importance Russian oil for Europe.”

Kevork Almassian of Syriana Analysis has released a video describing a similar analysis to my own, i.e. that the “de-escalation zones” are merely an attempt to free up Syrian forces, as a result of the ceasefire, to move east and push the U.S./Israeli/Jordanian/Terrorist forces back out of Syria before they can solidify their positions.

Enforcement Mechanism

Despite the apparent strategic nature of the “de-escalation zones,” there has been no discussion as to how the prohibition against flight and bombing over these areas will be enforced. Will violating planes be shot down? Will the agreement fall apart if one party violates this aspect?

Image result for trump putinIf the planes will be shot down, the next question is what, exactly, will happen if the United States violates the no-bombing provision? What will happen when the Israelis inevitably test the boundaries of the world’s patience? If Russia and Syria do intend to enforce the zones with shoot-down orders, will a shoot down of an American or Israeli plane initiate the beginning of World War Three?

In the meantime, relative calm has ensued as a result of the ceasefire and implementation of the “de-escalation zones,” possibly signaling that the plan is working. However, the United States and its allies are not likely to sit idly by as their proxies are annihilated and other straggling terrorist organizations wither on the vine.

Only time will tell whether or not the Russian/Syrian strategy will ultimately lead to an end to the war and an actual deconfliction or whether the United States and its imperialist allies will push forcefully into a heightened state of conflict with another world nuclear superpower. We are obviously hoping for the former.

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The War on Syria: Justice Dangles From A Tree

President Putin has called for justice and an “unbiased probe” into who is responsible for an alleged chemical gas attack at Khan Sheikoun, Syria, on April 4, which the Americans immediately claimed was an attack by the Syrian government, without providing any proof in fact nor any motive nor possible benefit to Syria. Syria and Russia state that it is the western backed terrorists who are responsible for making and storing chemical weapons at a sight the Syrians bombed or that it was a provocation by the terrorists and therefore by the Americans and their allies. Russia has several times called for a joint investigation with the Americans but its initiative has been, curiously, rejected out of hand.

In the days following April 4, the western media followed their usual pattern of jumping to conclusions convenient to the enemies of Syria and Russia. They published a blizzard of denunciations in articles and editorials, in print and television. The crudest insults were thrown against Russians and Syrians, and the trumpets of war sounded over images of indignant, puffed –up, western politicians horrified, absolutely horrified, about these new casualties; the casualties of their war, the war they started, the war they want, the war they wage.

The alleged incident was quickly used as a specious excuse by the Americans to increase their aggression against Syria with a mass cruise missile strike a few days later to show the Syrians, and everyone else in the world, that they are as ruthless as they are arrogant. This criminality was followed in quick succession by their childish demonstration in Afghanistan; the dropping of the “Mother Of All Bombs” on a few guerrillas hiding in some caves and tunnels, or so the Americans claimed. The main point was to have pictures of the big American bomb, and the big mushroom cloud it produced to show us all, once again, in case we had forgotten, that they are the wrath and the vengeance and we resist at our peril.

They continue this colonial gangsterism in Ukraine and Korea, Yemen, and Somalia, from Asia to the Baltic, to Africa, as enthusiastically threatening us with world war and nuclear annihilation as a child kicking over a sandcastle.

Dr. Theodore Postol

The Americans and the French, British and Germans have yet to provide any credible evidence that Syrian forces were involved in the April 4 incident while Dr. Ted Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has a substantial background in air dispersal, including how toxic plumes move in the air and has taught courses on weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological threats, has published an irrefutable analysis of the existing American and French reports that concludes there is no evidence Syrian forces were responsible. The French intelligence report, presented by the French minister of defence, Jean-Marc Ayrault, on April 27, titled: Chemical Attack in Syria – National Evaluation,” is shown to be as much a biased and distorted document as the Dutch Safety Board reports on the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine.

Dr. Postol’s full reply to the French report is too long to include here so I will quote his conclusions:

“The FIR (French Intelligence Report) attempts to make its case that the Syrian government was the perpetrator of a possible nerve agent attack on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun by citing evidence that is not supported by the known facts.

“It does not report on the details of the attack on April 4 but instead focuses on past attacks which it alleges leads to a strong conclusion that the Syrian government was the perpetrator of the April 4 attack.

“A short summary of the logic used in the FIR is that there is an unexplained attack, and, without valid evidence, the FIR concludes that a perpetrator who might have committed attacks in the past is with certainty the perpetrator of the unexplained attack.”

He also makes the crucial observation that,

“It is also worth noting that French intelligence coordinates with US intelligence and is also fully aware of UN activities. This therefore suggests that the FIR may not have been written by informed professional intelligence analysts in French intelligence.”

And that,

“It therefore seems that there are serious discrepancies in multiple intelligence reports that, at a minimum, raise fundamental questions about the veracity of the White House Intelligence Report and the French Intelligence Report as well.”

The French report is also interesting in that it is subtitled: “Clandestine Syrian Chemical Weapons Programme.” Since the Americans, Russians and UN certified in 2013 that the Syrian government had eliminated all chemical weapons from its arsenal and the means to make them the Americans have a problem with their story. To get around that problem they, and the French, now claim Syria somehow secretly kept chemical weapons, again without any proof that this is so. But the truth for them is irrelevant. It is enough for the media to repeat it ad nauseam and, by simply repeating it, establish it as fact.

The French state that their report is based “on its own sources” but does not identify those sources, the chain of custody of any materials they examined, the reliability of the sources, their motivations or any of the factors that need to be taken into account by objective investigators.

Nor does the French report mention several important facts. The first is that members of the Turkish parliament discovered that Turkish companies and officials were involved in supplying sarin gas to the US backed “rebels” in 2013 and that criminal investigations into it were blocked at a high level. Second, the Turkish involvement was confirmed in April 2014, by the American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who stated that the US Defence Intelligence Agency issued a classified briefing that stated that Turkey and Saudi based “chemical facilitators” were attempting to obtain chemicals to manufacture sarin for the US proxy forces in Syria and that it was determined that the sarin used in the Ghouta attack did not match the batches known to exist in the Syrian arsenal at that time. Further, the UN investigation did not point the finger at Syrian government forces, whereas Carla Del Ponte, working as a UN human rights investigator on the issue stated on Swiss radio in May 2013 that,

“According to the testimonies gathered, the “rebels” have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas…it is …the opponents of the “regime” who are using sarin gas.”

The French report contained none of this. But of course the French are far from objective regarding Syria. The French have had their eyes on Syria since before the First World War and after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire took control of all of what is now Syria and Lebanon. They never gave up their ambitions there even when they had to withdraw their forces in 1946 at the end of their “mandate” or colonial rule. Now France is one of the most aggressive countries in trying to crush the Syrian government, and with the Americans and others impose their own agents on the people of Syria. How are we to accept their report when their intentions and motivations are so clear?

France wants to extend its power in the Mediterranean and Middle East, thus extending its influence from west Africa through to Asia. It wants to grab some of the spoils of war with the Americans, such as oil and gas supplies, and, with the Americans, to eliminate Hezbollah in Lebanon, then set up the campaign against Iran which can be more easily carried out if Syria is in western colonial hands. It is no coincidence that France’s aggression against Syria began in 2011 at the same time as the NATO attack on and destruction of Libya in which France played a role as dirty as any of the NATO countries.

The Syrian government responded to the French report by stating,

“The Syrian Arab Republic condemns the frantic campaign of misleading and lies and the fabricated allegations launched by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault regarding the crime of Khan Sheikhoun which shows without any doubt the involvement of France in preparing this crime in the framework of its full partnership in the aggression on Syria.”

“The French Government doesn’t have legal qualification or competence to decide what took place in Khan Sheikhoun and to jump to conclusions, and what it has circulated of lies and allegations represent a blatant violation of the authorizations of the specialized international organizations in an attempt to hide the truth of this crime and who stands behind it, and the objection of France and its allies at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the Russian-Iranian draft resolution on forming a neutral and professional investigation committee clearly proves that.

“The Western states have become professional in the art of lying, deception and misleading to implement their policies in imposing hegemony on the world and to return to the eras of colonization, mandate and guardianship.”

On Tuesday May 2, President Putin met with the German Chancellor, Merkel, and, in a joint press conference, stated that the “solution to the crisis of Syria” can be found through the United Nations brokered peace talks that take place in Astana, Kazakhstan and Geneva, Switzerland. Merkel stated that she is ready to support the cessation of hostilities in Syria but did not state on what basis and for whose benefit.

On May 3 it was reported that the peace talks in Astana between the Syrian government, Russia, Iran and the “opposition,” were suspended by the “opposition” on the excuse of Syrian government attacks on them. Once again the hand of the USA is seen pulling strings to block any possible peace initiative. In any event, these are all empty diplomatic gestures since there can be no peace in Syria until the Americans and their allies withdraw their invasion forces and stop supporting their mercenary forces they call “rebels” and stop their attempts to attack Syrian sovereignty. President Trump has clearly shown that this is not going to happen.

No, this is now a war of attrition with the Americans, French, British, Germans and the rest intent on tearing the country apart until the Syrian people and government are brought to their knees or those nations exhaust their treasuries and sow so much chaos in their own countries from all the rippling effects from this war that they crack under the self-imposed strain.

The war on Syria is part of the American global hybrid war to cause world-wide insecurity, to create reliance on American military force, a protection racket, to continue American dollar hegemony, to weaken or destroy any country that threatens or undermines that dominance and to keep the American people, whose lives become more miserable every year, focused on manufactured foreign enemies, instead of focused on their class enemies at home that fleece their pockets every day.

America has become world public enemy number one and with its gang in NATO is running amok destroying and killing wherever its flag is shown. It respects no laws, no morality, no humanity. It’s only purpose is to plunder and pillage so that now the word vandals is replaced by the word americans as a term for barbarism and destruction.

President Putin has called for justice but how is this to be achieved when outside my window the rain pours blood and ashes down upon the fields, the sun and moon have lost their light, Enlightenment stands with Reason hard pressed against a wall, Reaction strangles Progress, and Justice dangles from a tree.

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Criminal Nation: Obama and Trump Both Should Be Jailed for War Crimes

“Trump thought last month’s attack on Syria had bought him immunity, or at least a respite, from the wrath of the War Party.”

It is as if the Gambino and Genovese crime families were arguing their turf disputes in the courts and the news media. The Democrats are screaming bloody murder over President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, whom Hillary Clinton still blames for her defeat at the polls and whom the bipartisan War Party has never forgiven for Comey’s earlier hesitancy to blame the Russians for the same offense.

Now that Trump has cut Comey loose — ostensibly for his handling of the Clinton emails scandal, according to three letters sent by Trump and his two top Justice Department officials – the Democrats have stepped up calls for a special prosecutor to continue the evidence-less crusade against the Kremlin.

It’s the Saturday Night Massacre all over again, cry the Democrats, harkening back to the weekend in 1973 when President Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. But this is not about the rule of law — quite the opposite: it’s about continuing the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun in 2011 under President Obama, a wholly illegal aggression that has destroyed Libya, killed half a million Syrians, delivered vast regions to the control of the two feuding factions of al-Qaida, and brought the world closer to nuclear annihilation than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis.

“This is not about the rule of law — it’s about continuing the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun in 2011 under President Obama.”

The War Party is determined to make the offensive permanent, to keep up the pressure on the ultimate targets, Russia and China, until they break or capitulate to U.S. domination of the world. The current, rabid anti-Russian hysteria adds another layer of fake news on top of the wholly fictional U.S. “War on Terror” scenario. But these mega-lies can no longer mask the great obscenity of the 21st century: that the U.S. is allied with al-Qaida, whose jihadists act as imperialism’s foot soldiers in the Middle East.

Donald Trump thought last month’s attack on Syria had bought him immunity, or at least a respite, from the wrath of the War Party, which was determined to burn him at the political stake — not for his raging racism and hostility to civil liberties, but for his previously stated opposition to “regime change” and never-ending tensions with Russia. Trump’s 59-missile salvo against a Syrian airbase was supposed to wipe the slate clean and forgive his heresies against the extralegal rights of the “exceptional” U.S. empire. But apparently, there is no statute of limitations on even the suggestion of peaceful coexistence with targeted states.

“The current, rabid anti-Russian hysteria adds another layer of fake news on top of the wholly fictional U.S. ‘War on Terror’ scenario.”

And now, in an almost laughable legalistic perversion, a group of lawyers from the Obama White House, of all places, is suing the Trump administration for failing to provide sufficient legal rationale for last month’s Tomahawk hit on Syria. The lawyers at United to Protect Democracy claim their insider knowledge of “how the federal government works” gives them unique insights on “implementing and enforcing the norms that have constrained presidential power for decades” – although they never constrained Obama from his own lurch towards apocalypse, in 2011. Indeed, these legal hit-men for empire acknowledge as much, admitting (or bragging?) that “we defended past presidents against legitimate oversight and illegitimate attacks.” The self-styled “watchdog” group does not list its board or members on its website, but their admission implicates them in Obama’s legal defense of his regime change assault on Libya. The U.S.-NATO bombing campaign, which killed an estimated 50,000 people, destroyed the country’s infrastructure, resulted in the murder of its chief of state, empowered jihadist militias, and unleashed a torrent of arms across Africa and the Middle East, nevertheless did not violate the War Powers Act because

“U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops,” wrote Obama’s lawyers.

When challenged by Congress, Obama maintained that the war on Libya was not a war at all, because no Americans were killed.

“This ‘proxy war’ was never a secret and was always a clear violation of the United Nations Charter.”

Like synchronized dancers, the U.S. and its allies pivoted immediately to Syria, where they attempted to use much the same formula — jihadists + arms + financing + CIA training + political protection at the UN — to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad government. This “proxy war,” which involved U.S. military and intelligence personnel on the ground from the very start, was never a secret and was always a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, which the U.S. is legally obligated to uphold. Nations are forbidden to use force against other nations except in self-defense or with the authorization of the UN Security Council. Unlike in Libya, the U.S. did not have the fig leaf of enforcing a UN-authorized “no-fly zone” in Syria. Yet, there was hardly a peep from any but a handful of Democrats, and therefore no need for Obama’s in-house lawyers to defend their Chief against charges of aggressive war, the most serious of international crimes.

In 2013, after Syria was falsely blamed for a chemical attack on civilians, Obama threatened to directly bomb Syrian forces. His lawyers were prepared to argue that an attack on Syria could be justified – like Bill Clinton’s bombing of Kosovo in 1999 – on vague grounds of eliminating a threat to peace. But of course, the greatest threat to peace is aggressive war, of which the United States was already — and chronically — guilty. In the end, Obama decided to ask Congress for authorization to bomb, and then changed his mind when the Russians offered to broker destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles. But, like all U.S. presidents, and with no grounds under international law, Obama insisted that Commanders-in-Chief have the right to bomb other countries to defend U.S. “national security” based on their own judgment — another legal nonsensicality.

“Obama maintained that the war on Libya was not a war at all, because no Americans were killed.”

So, the legal mercenaries of United to Protect Democracy, veterans of Obama’s 2011 military offensive, have no problem with violating international law. Their beef with Trump appears to be that he did not provide sufficient legal rationale for his bombing Syria – which is different than actually obeying international law. Trump’s people issued what are described as “talking points” to explain his actions against Syria. But former White House lawyer Justin Florence, the group’s legal director, wrote that this is not enough:

“The U.S. government must publicly articulate its legal theory in order to uphold the international legal framework we have relied on for so many years as a constraint on other states.”

The UN Charter is clear on what constitutes aggression. Trump is an aggressor. So were Obama, and Bush (the UN Secretary General said so), and so was Clinton. Since the U.S. is a superpower and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UN will never authorize the international community to punish the U.S. for its crimes. But, that does not absolve the U.S. of criminality — and humanity’s collective memory and conscience will never forgive the United States for the crushing of nations and the death of millions. The Democratic Party hacks with law degrees at United to Protect Democracy are concerned, not about peace, but that U.S. presidents go through the motions of rationalizing their imperial crimes. Say something that sounds good, they urge. Convince the American public that it’s OK for the U.S. to claim life and death powers over the rest of humanity. Make an effort, why don’t ya?

“Humanity’s collective memory and conscience will never forgive the United States for the crushing of nations and the death of millions.”

These “watchdogs’” real problem with Trump is that he has not bothered to commission creative lawyers like themselves to provide lofty wordage to justify the indefensible. He has not taken care to skillfully market U.S. imperial aggression to its home population. This may not be impeachable, but it is embarrassing and unbefitting of an “exceptional” empire.

Ajamu Baraka, the 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate and an editor and columnist at Black Agenda Report, wrote in this issue of BAR:

“The absence of any real opposition to the reckless use of U.S. military force — the attack on Syria, the macho demonstration bombing in Afghanistan, the provocations toward North Korea — exposed once again the unanimity among the U.S. ruling class and the state on the use of military force as the main strategy to enforce its global interests.”

The American public does not think of itself as bloodthirsty, but it has a huge tolerance for the spilling of other people’s blood. Americans also have a peculiar sense of entitlement.

“Imperial privilege is this strange ability on the part of the U.S. public to ‘shrug off’ the consequences experienced by people impacted by the direct and indirect result of U.S. militarism,” Baraka writes.

Obama’s former lawyers at United to Protect Democracy understand that Americans demand only that politicians use pretty words to justify the barbarities committed in their name. If you stick with the formula, the template, and make Americans feel exceptional, then you can bomb the hell out of the rest of the world, at will.

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U.S. New “Plan B” for Syria: Military Escalation


During the six-year Syrian conflict, the U.S. has repeatedly proved it will stop at nothing to achieve desired goals. Having realized the failure of its chemical weapons provocations, the current administration US began to develop and execute a new escalation plan for Syria.

According to the Pentagon, it isn’t necessary to tarnish Syrian President, Bashar Assad, for the U.S.-led coalition’s large-scale invasion to Syria. It is enough to make ISIS cross the Jordanian border. Such a scenario was discussed by Assad at the end of April this year.

This time Washington decided to rely on the Free Syrian Army (FSA), that began an offensive against ISIS in Syria’s Daraa, located about 13 kilometers north of the border with Jordan, on May 9, 2017. Apparently, according to the coalition command, the FSA will force the Islamists to leave their positions and cross the Jordanian border.

In its turn, this could be an ideal pretext for the coalition’s immediate ‘defense’ of its ally. So, according to our sources, more than 400 units of US military equipment and more than 4,000 soldiers have already been deployed along the border between Syria and Jordan. This fact indicates the ongoing preparation for the operation.

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In addition, Washington’s intentions are also confirmed by annual military exercises known as Eager Lion that took place in Jordan, on May 7. According to Al-Jazeera, 20 countries, including the USA and Jordan, participated in the exercises. It should be mentioned that the organizers paid special attention to maneuvers which include border security, cyber-defense, and “command and control” exercises to bolster coordination in response to threats including “terrorism”.

If the US-led international coalition’s command manages to realize its plan, the numbers of the U.S. contingent in Syria will increase significantly.

Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, this will allow the international coalition to continue to violate justice and spread chaos across Syria in the future.

Official Damascus simply can’t stand aside and must prevent the realization of the White House’s aggressive plans.

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Turkey warns US against arming Syrian Kurd ‘terrorists,’ ponders end of ‘strategic partnership’


Ankara expressed disappointment with the US decision to send heavy weapons to Kurdish militants, while the Kurds praised Washington’s decision as a “historic” move that greatly expands the group’s capabilities to “fight terrorism.”

The Turkish government has asked the US to reverse its decision to broaden support for Syria’s Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG), stating that it is unacceptable for a NATO ally to support “terrorist groups.”

The decision to supply arms to Kurds would have “consequences” and a potentially “negative result” for Washington, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned on Wednesday.

“We cannot imagine [the US] making a choice between our strategic-level partnership and a terrorist organization,” Yildirim said, as quoted by the Sabah daily. “The US administration still has a chance to consider Turkey’s sensitivities of highest level on the PKK. If the decision is taken otherwise, this will surely have consequences and will yield a negative result for the US as well.”

Every weapon given to the YPG represents a threat to Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavushoglu told reporters on Wednesday.

“If we support the territorial integrity of Syria, we should take lessons from the mistakes we made in Iraq and abstain from making any wrong moves. YPG and PKK are the same entity, there’s no difference between them,” Cavushoglu said, according to NTV broadcaster. “Every weapon which gets into their hands represents a threat to Turkey.”

“We cannot accept the presence of terrorist organizations that would threaten the future of the Turkish state,” Turkish Deputy PM Nurettin Canikli told broadcaster A Haber on Wednesday. “We hope the US will put a stop to this wrong and back down from it. This policy will not be beneficial to anyone; you can’t be in the same sack as terrorist organizations.”

While the YPG is a US ally in Syria, Ankara perceives it as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group in both Turkey and the US.

As the decision to supply heavier weapons was announced, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the US “reassures the people and the government of Turkey that the US is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”

The US responded to the comments by the senior Turkish officials, with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promising to “work out” concerns over arming the YPG fighters.

“We will work very closely with Turkey in support of their security on their southern border. It’s Europe’s southern border, and we’ll stay closely connected,” Mattis said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The YPG militia praised the US’ decision, stating that it would boost the group’s capability to “fight terrorism.”

“We believe that from now on and after this historic decision, (the YPG) will play a stronger, more influential and more decisive role in combating terrorism at a fast pace,” Reuters cited YPG spokesman Redur Xelil as saying in a written statement.

The decision to supply weapons to YPG militia came amid recent tensions between the US and Turkey after Ankara’s strikes on Kurdish-held areas in Syria and Iraq late in April. The aerial bombing and artillery shelling killed a number of YPG militants and Iraqi Peshmerga fighters. Several civilians also perished in the strikes on Syria, according to the militia groups’ statements. Turkey, however, claimed that it had targeted solely PKK “terrorists.” Iraqi Kurds acknowledged a PKK presence in the targeted areas, but the YPG did not.

After the incident US troops arrived to the targeted locations to inspect the damage The demonstration of American military presence in the region met a harsh reaction in Ankara.

President Erdogan’s senior aide Ilnur Cevik said the US forces in Syria could be “accidentally” hit by Turkish strikes, as their presence wouldn’t shield “PKK terrorists” from Turkey’s forces.

Cevik, however, later somewhat softened his stance, stating that “has never and will never hit its allies anywhere and that includes the US in Syria,” while adding that “no one should allow our US allies to become a shield for them.” 

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US military training terrorists in southern Syria

Al-Masdar News
Leaked photos reveal US military entered southern Syria to train rebels: opposition media

U.S. military personnel entered southern Syria at the Tanf Border-Crossing and has begun training units from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in this desert area, the opposition media page Hammurabi’s Justice News reported today.

According to this opposition page, the U.S. military is currently training the Mughaweir Al-Thawra forces in Tanf Mountain region of southeast Homs.

The U.S. military is allegedly training these rebels to fight the Islamic State (ISIL) forces in southeast Syria.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies are concerned about the U.S.’ presence in the area, as they do not believe the latter is interested in fighting ISIL, but rather, imposing a no-fly-zone to fight the government in Damascus, a military source told Al-Masdar yesterday.

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Sex abuse & sham marriages: Reality for Eastern European women trafficked to Scotland

Women from Eastern Europe are being smuggled into Scotland for sexual exploitation and sham marriages at the hands of human traffickers, according to a new documentary.

Undercover BBC journalist Sam Poling traveled to Slovakia to expose how Eastern European criminal gangs are trafficking young women to Scotland for them to marry third-country nationals, mainly Pakistanis, seeking UK residency.

In order to be eligible for UK residency, applicants must marry someone with EU citizenship.

According to Angelika Molnar, who runs Europol’s human trafficking unit, women in countries such as Romania and Slovakia are being persuaded to move to the UK with the false hope of having a well-paid job and accommodation.

“It’s only upon arrival that they are told there is no work available and they have to be engaged in marriages with Pakistani men,” she said.

Molnar claimed the women are then exploited by their husbands and the traffickers.

“After the marriage, the women are kept under control by the traffickers and are exploited as domestic service by the husband but also raped and sexually exploited by fellow nationals of the traffickers,” she said.

The documentary, ‘Humans for Sale,’ found that on one occasion a Slovakian girl had been trafficked and sent back to Scotland up to three times.

Poling went to Slovakia to meet some of the girls who had returned from Scotland after being rescued.

The investigative journalist had fixed a meeting with one of them, but as she set out for the interview she discovered the girl had gone missing.

According to the girl’s parents, she had been trafficked back to Scotland, her baby daughter left behind.

Jim Laird, former head of trafficking services at the charity Migrant Help, told the BBC there is a clear link between Eastern European traffickers and Asian criminal gangs in Glasgow.

Yves Ogou, who describes himself as a social worker aiding victims of trafficking in both Scotland and Slovakia, said Glasgow is specifically targeted by Slovakian traffickers because of historical links with the Roma community and traffickers’ acquaintances with third-country nationals.

“Those people used to go to Glasgow because the first Roma community from here tried to move to Glasgow, Manchester, Bradford and so on,” Ogou said.

“That’s their first contact and the traffickers, they have friends, they are friends to people from western Africa, people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and so on.”

To try and prove the criminal activity, Poling looked through marriage records. Among the suspicious material, she found young Eastern European brides being wedded to Asian grooms, as well as addresses being used for multiple marriages, yet with little indication the properties are actually inhabited.

Poling also found that 40 percent of such couples who had married five years ago – the cut-off date to get a UK passport – have now divorced.

Laird said that traffickers are seldom held to account in courts as people who are supposed to give evidence are concerned about their own safety and that of their family back home.

“There’s no prosecution because people are too frightened to be witnesses in trials, they’re worried about their own personal safety, but they’re also worried about their family’s safety back at home.

“Some of them quite frankly are embarrassed because they’ve been conned,” he added.

“They’ve been sold a dream, believed it and came here, and when they found out what has happened to them, they just want to disappear as quietly as possible and go back to their own country.”

Laird claimed there are many more people being trafficked than the 150 reported as victims in Scotland last year, saying the trade affects “millions” – “thousands” in Scotland alone.

Posted in UKComments Off on Sex abuse & sham marriages: Reality for Eastern European women trafficked to Scotland

Mosul Hasn’t Been Fully Liberated ‘Because of Washington’

Soldiers with the Iraqi special forces look out on Islamic State group positions from a rooftop in west Mosul as fighting continues, Monday, April 24, 2017

The United States has deliberately not provided advanced precision weapons to Iraqi security forces, limiting Baghdad’s ability to fully liberate Mosul and fight Daesh, defense analyst Ahmad al-Sharifi told Sputnik Persian.

“Sixty-two countries, including the United States, are part of the international coalition in Iraq. The US has enormous military capabilities and the most cutting-edge weapons. However, airstrikes conducted by foreign planes have not had a crushing effect on Daesh,” he said, adding that the counterterrorism operation in Iraq has been used to pressure politicians in other countries.

Washington’s decision to refrain from providing advanced armaments to Baghdad has slowed down the army’s advance against terrorists, the analyst said, adding that Iraqi security forces have lost their advantage as a result. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has given the green light to arms deliveries to the Syrian Kurds in their efforts to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa, Daesh’s de facto capital.Brigadier General Yahii Rasul named Daesh’s fierce resistance as the main reason why Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, has not been fully liberated. The city has symbolic value for the militant group since it was in the Great Nuri Mosque that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the rise of Daesh’s caliphate, he added.

“Terrorist attacks in different parts of Iraq, including the attack on Kurdish-administered areas near Kirkuk, have one goal. They are aimed at boosting morale of the militants who are suffering defeat after defeat in Mosul and elsewhere,” he said.

Brigadier General Yahii Rasul further mentioned that pushing Daesh out of Mosul is a priority for Iraqi security forces. Other towns and settlements still held by Daesh will be liberated once Mosul is under Baghdad’s full control.

Ahmad al-Sharifi also criticized Ankara for its activities in Iraq.Turkey “has prevented the Iraqi Armed Forces from entering Tal Afar and Hawija,” he said. Both Iraqi towns have been under Daesh occupation, with the latter often used for mass executions.

“Iraq is currently engaged in the war against terrorists. It does not have an opportunity to settle disputes with neighbors, whatever the cost,” the analyst added, referring to Turkey. “At the same time you need to understand that the US will never go against Turkey, its strategic partner.”

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After Buying S-400, Turkey Aims to Build Own Components for Air Defense Systems

The launchers of the S-400 air defense missile system which entered service at the Russian Aerospace Forces air defense unit in the Moscow Region. (File)

Talks with Russia on deliveries of S-400 air defense systems to Turkey are at final stages, but Ankara still aims to manufacture its own components for such systems, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said Wednesday.

ANKARA (Sputnik) — Russia and Turkey have been engaged in talks on the S-400 deal since 2016. In March, Sergey Chemezov, CEO of the state-owned Russian corporation Rostec, confirmed that Ankara was willing to buy the S-400 if Moscow provides a loan.Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system was also discussed during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Russia.

“Negotiations with Russia on the S-400 have reached a mature stage, only technical details are remaining. When we agree on a price, we will submit it to our president, and a decision will be made,” Isik said in an interview with Turkey’s NTV television.

“[However], our main goal, against which no one can speak, is to produce our own components for an air defense system. And we have started a serious work in this direction,” Isik stressed.

On April 28, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Moscow and Ankara had reached an agreement on the purchase of the S-400 air defense systems with the negotiations on joint production and the prices being underway.

The S-400 Triumf, which NATO refers to as the SA-21 Growler, was developed by the Almaz-Antey defense contractor and manufactured by the Fakel Machine-Building Design Bureau. The system is capable of intercepting all types of modern air weaponry, including fifth-generation warplanes, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles at a maximum range of nearly 250 miles.

The S-400 Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS)
The S-400 Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS)

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