Archive | May 18th, 2017

Voices From Syria: A Testimony to The Bravery and Resilience of The Syrian People

NOVANEWS

Review of Mark Taliano’s Book

 

Slowly but surely, the truth about the planned attack on Syria by Western powers under the leadership of the US Empire and its allies comes to the fore. For too long, the mainstream media held the monopoly on reporting about this havoc inflicted by the West together with its terrorist partners such as ISIS, al-Nusra front, and so-called moderate rebels in Syria. Especially the Obama administration pampered the last one. As the public knows by now, there hasn’t been such a thing as “moderate rebels.”

That the public in the West could have been so misinformed, was the fault of CNN, BBC, NYT and other media outlets. They prostituted themselves to the power elite in Washington D. C. Independent reporting was not their task. They were part of the international war party, which wanted to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to establish another Islamic dictatorship according to the Saudi Arabian model. Already in August 2011, President Obama said, “Assad must go.” Assad is still alive and kicking, and Obama is old news.

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The Western propaganda machine didn’t even flinch from creating a false humanitarian organization, named “The White Helmets.” A British intelligence officer established it, and Western powers poured in 100 million US dollars. These folks were, in fact, al-Qaida affiliates disguised as paramedics. They operated in East Aleppo, long held by different terrorist organizations. The biggest fake-producing company, Hollywood, even awarded an “Oscar” to “The White Helmets.” The British journalist Vanessa Beeley was the first who disclosed this charade. “The White Helmets” cared only about wounded terrorists.

Image result for white helmetsBesides these reports, Mark Taliano‘s Book “Voices from Syria” brings another aspect to a wider audience. Taliano, who is a Canadian investigative reporter and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), shows an entirely different reality about Syria. He gives ordinary Syrians a voice. He reveals that the Western powers undermined the Syrian government and exposed it to attack. Apparently, the West has been fighting against the “criminal Assad regime” while, simultaneously, combating Islamic terrorists.

In his foreword, the director of CRG, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, emphasizes the concern of the author, namely, “what unites humanity with the Syrian people in their struggle against foreign aggression.” Taliano was interested in the “mystery” of the courage and resilience of the Syrian people to endure six years of NATO-sponsored terrorist and “peacemaking” airstrikes that devastated the civil infrastructure. Strikingly, is the author’s documentation of the fight of the Syrian people against “NATO-terrorism.”

Taliano’s book dispels several Western myths: The so-called “war on terrorism” is a fraud. The US and its coalition partners have created ISIS as stooges in the first place to bring about a regime change in Syria. The West mocked its aggression as “humanitarianism” to create heaviest crimes. That this aggression violates international law goes without saying. Without the massive propaganda support of the mainstream media, the “news” could not have spread that Assad oppresses and murders his people. If that had been the case, Assad would be gone long ago. The book shows that Assad has the support of the majority of the Syrians.

Mark Taliano (image left)

The author has good advice to the media:

“The mainstream media must reinvent itself. They must stop spreading war propaganda, and they must begin to report truths based on evidence.”

His book provides a convincing testimony to the bravery and resilience of the Syrian people, who have been fighting against an alliance of Western aggressors and Islamic terrorists for over six years. The fact that one of the oldest cultural nations of the world is bombed back to the Middle Ages by the West and its Arab allies is not only a colossal war crime but also a crime against humanity. The book corrects a large part of Western propaganda claims on Syria. Very readable and revealing.

*     *     *

Excerpt from Preface:

Between 15 and 23 September 2016, I travelled to war-torn Syria because I sensed years ago that the official narratives being fed to North Americans across TV screens, in newsprint and on the internet were false. The invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya were all based on lies; likewise for Ukraine.

All of the post-9/11 wars were sold to Western audiences through a sophisticated network of interlocking governing agencies that disseminate propaganda to both domestic and foreign audiences. But the dirty war on Syria is different. The degree of war propaganda levelled at Syria and contaminating humanity at this moment is likely unprecedented. I had studied and written about Syria for years, so I was not entirely surprised by what I saw.

What I felt was a different story. Syria is an ancient land with a proud and forward-looking people. To this ancient and holy land we sent mercenaries, hatred, bloodshed and destruction. We sent strange notions of national exceptionalism and wave upon wave of lies. As a visitor I felt shame, but Syrians welcomed me as one of them. These are their stories; these are their voices.

**New Book: Voices from Syria**

Author: Mark Taliano

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-9-1

Year: 2017

Product Type: PDF File

List Price: $6.50

Special Offer: $5.00 

Click to order

Posted in Syria0 Comments

Fake News “Evidence”: US State Department Admits There Might Be No ‘Assad Crematorium’ in Saydnaya Prison

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(Daily Caller) In a briefing held on Monday, the Department of State admitted that the alleged crematorium in the Syrian prison used to incinerate prisoners could actually just be a warmer part of the building.

The State Department stated Monday based on international and local NGO reports that the alleged crematorium used to burn the bodies of hundreds of hanged prisoners at a prison run by the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad may not be a crematorium at all.

Earlier, Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary for Middle Eastern Affairs, said that the prison in Saydnaya was modified in 2013 to support what the agency believes to be a crematorium, which is used to “cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison.”

Amnesty International alleged in its report from February 2017 that between 5,000-13,000 prisoners have been executed at the site from 2013 to the present.

Neither the State Department, nor the human rights organizations have provided any substantial evidence to these claims so far.

Posted in USA, Syria0 Comments

War Veterans Ask “Democracy Now” for Real Investigative Reporting on Syria

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War Veterans Ask “Democracy Now” for Real Investigative Reporting on Syria. “Many Progressives Seem Totally Blind”
Interview with Daniel Borgstrom, Veterans for Peace-East Bay, Chapter 162 by Ann Garrison
 
Soldiers of the U.S. Army 3rd squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment as the troops of the "Dragoon Ride" military exercise arrive at their home base at Rose Barracks in Vilseck April 1, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Amy Goodman, host of the Pacifica Network’s flagship news hour “Democracy Now” is on a speaking tour of the country to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. When she appeared in Berkeley, East Bay Veterans for Peace, Chapter 162 were outside the First Presbyterian Church beforehand to distribute copies of their “Open Letter to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now: We Need Better and More Diverse Coverage on Syria.” Dissident Voice had published the essay on April 15.

I spoke to Daniel Borgstrom, a former U.S. Marine, who wrote it for his vets group.

*     *     *

Ann Garrison: Daniel, first, when and where did you serve in the U.S. Marine Corps?

Daniel Borgström: I spent four years in the USMC, 1959 to 1963. That was during the Kennedy years, the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC in 1961, when some 1,400 counter-revolutionaries landed on a beach in Cuba. We thought we’d be sent to back them up, so it looked like we’d be seeing action in Cuba. The atmosphere of the whole base was electric; guys had their field gear out, were wearing their hunting knives and stuff, looking very much like a regiment of Boy Scouts eagerly gearing up for a camping trip.

But we didn’t go. JFK refused to send us. And I remember being terribly disappointed at the time. Now I look back and realize what a courageous president Kennedy was. He stood up to the warmongers and said NO. I believe he paid for that with his life about 3 months after I got my discharge. According to the official story, JFK was killed by an average marksman using a totally unsuitable weapon, who nevertheless performed the most phenomenal feat of marksmanship ever known.

AG: And when did you begin to protest US wars?

DB: That was around 1970, nearly a decade after my discharge. I didn’t start out my life being a left-wing person. At first I was gung-ho, pro-war. When President Johnson bombed North Vietnam over the Gulf of Tonkin incident, I cheered. It took awhile – a long while – for me to figure things out. After my discharge, I took off and traveled around the world for a few years — Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Japan. Even Afghanistan.

Some people tell me I “missed the sixties,” but I did see the sixties, though from a different perspective.

While abroad I met and talked with many people, locals as well as travelers like myself, travelers from a dozen countries. Many were students, others were farmers, workers or shopkeepers. I talked with veterans who’d fought on different sides in different wars – World War II, the Algerian conflict, the Six-Day War. A Frenchman who’d fought in Algeria told me about his experiences and about popular resistance to that war. Some French soldiers had refused orders to fire at non-combatants.

Somewhere in the course of these experiences I came to realize that a lot of what I’d been told and assumed to be true just wasn’t so. There wasn’t any single moment of enlightenment; there were many. Like when I visited my Aunt Julia in Sweden; she was a Socialist and she must’ve been really disappointed to find that her American nephew was so poorly informed as to what went on in the world. She tried to wake me up.

But back to your question. I came back to America around 1970, and it was a whole different America from the one I’d left. Everything seemed different. There were huge antiwar demonstrations. No one had protested war or anything else in the America I remembered.

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I listened to all the arguments against the Vietnam War and pretty soon I joined an antiwar veterans group. We believed that, as former military personnel, we could be especially effective in speaking out. It was our response to the warmongers and pundits who were saying, “Support our boys in Vietnam! The antiwar protesters are just college kids who don’t know what life is all about.

“Just ask a GI! Ask any veteran! They’ll tell you why we’re in Vietnam!” they claimed.

“Okay, fine, good!” we answered. “So ask us. We’re ex-GIs and we’ll be glad to tell you.”

On rare occasions journalists did actually ask us and give us good coverage, but that was very rare because what we had to say wasn’t part of the official story that the mainstream media (MSM) was there to tell.

On one occasion about 15 of us were arrested for occupying an Air Force recruiting office, and the MSM reported a whole lot of data about us, our names, our ages, etc., but NOT the fact that we were ex-GIs. I still have the newspaper clippings of that.

Another time, on December 29, 1971, we occupied the offices of the South Vietnamese consulate in Downtown San Francisco’s Flood Building. We did get good media coverage that day, but not during the trial that followed.

Thirteen of us ex-GIs went on trial together for trespassing, failure to disperse, and failure to obey a police officer; we could have all been sentenced to six months in jail. The trial lasted four weeks and there was a lot of really dramatic antiwar testimony in that courtroom – four weeks of it that the MSM refused to cover. We asked reporters why they wouldn’t come in and see the trial, and they told us they’d been ordered NOT to cover it.

Actually the trial was covered by the “underground” newspapers, as they were called back then. The Berkeley Barb, Good Times, The Tribe, and a bunch of others. I used to write for some of them; that’s how I got my start as a writer. Nowadays I write for websites.

At the end of the four weeks, the jury found us not guilty, despite abundant evidence that we’d done exactly what we were charged with. One of the jurors was a former U.S. Navy officer who took our side, and the whole jury was affected by the pervasive antiwar passion of the time.

After the verdict, the MSM did finally publish a rather bland article, not really saying much.

I often hear those times called “The Golden Age of Media.” Nonsense! The MSM was as biased then as now. Anyone doubting that should read Carl Bernstein’s 1977 article “The CIA and the Media.”

I have many nostalgic memories of our veterans group. We had good times. On Saturday nights we’d get together and watch horror movies. That was before the age of VCRs; we watched them on TV. And we’d go on excursions up in Marin County, up to Point Reyes and other interesting places together. Of course we’d march in antiwar demonstrations and join in singing songs like “We ain’t gonna study war no more.” Then the next weekend we might take our guns and go out to some shooting range for target practice.

AG: And why had you enlisted back in 1959?

DB: The short answer is: there was no KPFA or Pacifica affiliate station where I grew up in the Puget Sound area of Washington. “We have to defend the country against Communism!” That’s what I grew up hearing, constantly. Nobody questioned that. They described Communism as really awful – SURVEILLANCE STATES. What they described was pretty much like the surveillance state we live in today here in the US, and that was what I joined the USMC to defend our country against.

AG: So you owe a lot of your current opposition to US wars to coverage you’ve heard on Pacifica’s KPFA-Berkeley, including Democracy Now?

DB: I listen to KPFA almost daily and it’s been really important in helping me to keep up on events in a rapidly changing world. I hear reports on KPFA that the MSM simply doesn’t cover. Nevertheless, it was my travels and experiences in Europe, Asia and the Middle East that initially opened my eyes to seeing things in a new way.

AG: And why are you and East Bay Vets for Peace, Chapter 162, asking Democracy Now (DN) for better and more diverse coverage of the Syrian conflict?

DB: Partly it goes back to my memories from 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis. Strangely, I had no concept at the time of just how incredibly close we came to being wiped off the face of the earth. But when I think about it now, it makes me shudder. And now it looks like we could be headed for another nuclear face-off.

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The warmongers in Washington – and that includes a lot of Democrats as well as Republicans – seem determined to pick a fight with nuclear-armed Russia. Many progressives seem totally blind to the danger, and Amy Goodman of DN is among them. Syria looks like a serious danger spot where US military forces could literally clash with Russian forces.

The warmongers in Washington seem determined to use the story of Assad bombing his own people with chemical weapons – specifically, sarin gas. The MSM plays that story big time, and Amy Goodman echoes it on DN. She features guests who promote the story, allowing them to give one-sided coverage, without convincing evidence to back their claims. She ignores investigators with evidence to the contrary about the sarin gas. People like Theodore Postol of MIT and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have looked at this and reported finding no convincing evidence, but they do not get featured on her show.

We’ve been down this road before. “Gulf of Tonkin” and “WMDs in Iraq” are two big lies that come to mind, but there’ve been many more, including “Remember the Maine” in 1898. In each case there was no convincing evidence, and the lack of it didn’t seem to matter.

For many years now, Amy Goodman’s DN has been my favorite radio show, and also that of a lot of progressives. Progressives like me listen to her, and she has a responsibility to properly inform us of what’s going on. Right now she should be investigating and exposing those lies that could lead to war. Instead, she’s promoting those lies, the “Assad-did-it-again” story, “gassing his own people.” So it’s time for her listeners to speak out.

I mentioned that at a meeting of our Veterans for Peace chapter, and got volunteered to write a letter to Amy. We mailed it via USPS to her a month ago, but still have no response. It was an open letter, and it was also posted on Dissident Voice and other websites. It was even posted to Telesur in Spanish. So even if Amy doesn’t read her mail, it’s a pretty fair assumption that she’s aware of our letter, but as I said, she hasn’t responded so far.

Meanwhile, Amy has continued – with only rare exceptions – to promote the “Assad-did-it-again” stories, featuring guests such as Anand Gopal on her show.

Then we heard Amy was coming to Berkeley on her speaking tour. She was coming on Sunday, May 14th, so we decided to pass out our open letter outside the event. The evening before the event, I spoke to you on KPFA’s Evening News about our plan. As I said then, no hard evidence has been presented on Democracy Now, but they seem to accept the story.

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As a former soldier, I see no military rationale or advantage for using chemical weapons in the situations where Assad is accused of using them. I saw no political advantage either. On the contrary; the sarin gas story put so much pressure on Trump that he finally ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles at a Syrian Army air field.

So, on Sunday, May 14th, we showed up at the door of the event with 300 copies of our open letter to pass out. I must admit I had been a bit worried over how people might take it. After all, these were Amy’s dedicated fans. I was also a fan of Amy, or had been at least.

I arrived shortly before the doors opened, and there were a dozen or so people waiting to get in. I passed out the letter and people read it while they stood in line waiting. Then a man turned to me and said, “Thank you for writing this. I totally agree.” Others said similar things. One said he’d heard about it on KPFA the previous evening, and I told him that was me on the air. “Good for you,” he said, or words to that effect.

Finally the doors opened, more people arrived and I was hurrying to pass out copies of the letter as they were hurrying to get in and get seats, so it wasn’t possible to get in a lot of conversations as at first. We’d hoped to go in and ask Amy to respond to our letter during the Q and A, but the tickets were already sold out.

We’re now thinking of writing an online petition to Amy. That’ll be our next step. It’s important that people hear about this and speak out. Just because somebody happens to be a major star in the progressive world doesn’t mean that they should be beyond criticism.

Posted in USA, Media, Syria0 Comments

Gaza’s Territorial Waters: Fisherman Mohammed Baker Killed by Nazi Naval Forces

NOVANEWS

Open Fire at Him From 3-Meter Distance Without Posing Any Threat

Yesterday afternoon, 15 May 2017, Palestinian fisherman Mohammed Majed Fadel Baker succumbed to his wounds after the Nazi naval soldiers opened fire from a distance of 3 meters at the boat manned by him, his brothers and cousin in the northern Gaza Sea. This indicates a new crime committed by the Nazi forces though none of the fishermen posed any threat to the live of Nazi soldiers. This also emphasizes continuation of Nazi policy to target the fishermen and their safety and deny them from freely sailing and fishing within the allowed fishing area.

According to PCHR’s investigation, at approximately 08:30 on Monday, 15 May 2017, an Nazi gunboat accompanied with a rubber boat opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat sailing within 3 nautical miles off al-Wahah shore, northwest of Gaza City. The boat was manned by 4 fishermen namely ‘Omran Majed Baker (33), his two brothers; Fadi (32) and Mohammed (25), and their cousin Mohammed Zeyad Hasan Baker (32), and all of them are from Gaza. The fishermen fled by their boat to the south, but the Nazi gunboat manned by 8 soldiers armed with automatic rifles chased the boat and were able to target directly its engine. As a result, the boat stopped off shore in front of the Intelligence Service office, west of Gaza, and ‘Omran was hit with 2 metal bullets to the leg and abdomen. After that, Nazi soldier opened fire from a 3-meter distance at the fishermen, wounding Mohammed Baker with a live bullet to the upper side of abdomen. Mohammed then fell down as part of his bowels got out.

However, Nazi soldiers forced the fishermen to move Mohammed to their boat and then sailed towards Ashqelon. At approximately 16:30 on the same day, Mohammed was announced dead succumbing to his wounds in Barzilai Hospital. His body was then transferred to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza after coordinating with the Palestinian Liaison office.

Mohammed Zeyad Hasan Baker (32), said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:

“At approximately 08:00, I sailed with my cousins ‘Omran, Fadi and Mohammed Majed Baker from Gaza Seaport along with another fishing boat manned by 4 fishermen. After 15 minutes, We arrived at al-Sudaniya area sailing within 3 nautical miles off al-Waha shore about 1.5 miles off the allowed fishing area. When we started fishing, I saw an Israeli gunboat accompanied with a rubber boat coming from the north and speeding towards us. ‘Omran turned on the engine, headed to the south and stationed off the Intelligence Service office. I then saw the rubber boat speeding towards us and arrived in less than 2 minutes. There were 8 navy soldiers, 4 of whom were masked. The distance between us was about two meters when 2 soldiers randomly opened fire at us while we were trying to avoid being shot. Ten minutes later, the soldiers directly opened fire at us from a 3-meter distance. As a result, Fadi Majed Baker (32) sustained 2 rubber-coated metal bullets to the leg and abdomen. The Israeli gunboat continued chasing us, but suddenly appeared in front of our boat and the soldiers directly opened fire at the boat engine.  As a result, the boat stopped, and Mohammed was wounded and fell down. We shouted to inform the soldiers that Mohammed is wounded.  One of the soldiers then ordered us to come to the boat front while the other soldiers kept shooting above our heads. I carried Mohammed, who was wounded and part of his bowels were out.  He was foaming and then went into coma. The soldier, who was driving the gunboat, ordered me to carry Mohammed while 2 other soldiers took him to the gunboat, sailing towards Ashkelon. Furthermore, the other Israeli boat dragged our boat, which was hit with 6 live bullets, to the Gaza Seaport after an hour, but we lost the fishing net.”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns this new crime, which led to the death of fisherman Mohammed Baker. PCHR confirms that this crime falls under the continued Nazi attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip to terrify and deprive them of their right to sail and fish freely.  PCHR hereby:

  1. Calls upon the International community, including the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Convention, to intervene to stop all Nazi violations against fishermen and their property and allow them to fish freely in Gaza Sea;
  2. Demands Opening an investigation into the crime that led to the death of Mohammed Baker though he did not pose any threat to the safety and security of the Nazi soldier;
  3. Calls for immediately ending the chasing policy of fishermen and allow them to sail and fish freely;
  4. Releasing those fishermen arrested by Nazi forces; and
  5. Compensating the victims of the Nazi violations for the physical and material damage.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human Rights0 Comments

Remembering June 1967 and the Conquest of Palestine. Trump’s Visit to ‘Israel’

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I arrived in Jerusalem last night and as always during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June the media is full of romanticized memories. Within these weeks are the two most significant dates in modern Palestinian history: May 1948 when Palestine was conquered and renamed Israel, and June, 1967 when the Israeli army completed the conquest of Palestine by taking East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Palestinians these dates bring back bitter memories, but for Israelis the memories are sweet – those were the days when we were young and brave and innocent. Vintage photos of soldiers at the newly conquered Western Wall, generals announcing “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” and teary-eyed old Jews praying with devotion are everywhere. The horrors that make up the Palestinian memories, the piles of dead bodies, civilians panicking as they are forcibly exiled, children lost in the mayhem and ancient villages and communities bulldozed only to be rebuilt for Jews are rarely shown or discussed.

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Israeli Generals Dayan, Narkis and Bar-Lev at the Western Wall

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Palestinian refugees fleeing to Jordan across the wrecked Alenbi Bridge

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Destruction of the 700 year old Mughrabi neighborhood was done immediately following the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem to create the Western Wall plaza.

To add to all that, Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Jerusalem and this gives the press and the official state PR machine an even greater opportunity to deal with the two things they love best: smoke screens and trivia. Gaza? never even heard of it! Fifteen hundred innocent political prisoners on a hunger strike for over a month? Nobody cares! But check this out: apparently Trump will fly directly from Saudi Arabia to Tel-Aviv and this is the first direct flight between the two countries; the King David Hotel in Jerusalem is preparing for Trump’s visit and a drone was spotted in the hotel parking lot! And the ongoing burning question, will the great deal maker be able to close the Israeli-Palestinian peace Deal? All smoke screens and trivia which are the staples of tabloids – a category into which most Israeli media outlets fit perfectly – though in their defense one must admit that there is no point in dealing with substance because Trump’s visit will offer none.

Here are a few items that are sure not to be on Trump’s agenda: Two million people in Gaza have no access to clean water, proper nutrition or medicine.  They have been victims of devastating attacks for seven decades and before they can recover from one assault there is another one pending.  The Israeli water authority allocates only 3% of the water to Palestinians even though they make up more than 50% of the overall population. More than 55% of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live below the poverty line, and even though they rate one of the highest in the world in literacy, there is massive unemployment among Palestinians. Palestinians in the West Bank live under a brutal military regime governed by Israeli commanders who impose inhumane laws and prevent people from enjoying the basic most human rights. Seven thousand political prisoners sit in Israeli jails in violation of international law, over fifteen hundred of them on a hunger strike for over a month.

Trump may also visit Ramallah, and there too these topics are not likely to come up. Though there are attempts to prop the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, it is on life support and barely surviving. Municipal elections to West Bank cities were a failure – marked by boycotts of major political parties and a lack of voter interest. Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called president of the Palestinian Authority is old and tired and can no longer mask his disinterest in the fate of his people.  Hamas has made some changes to its charter and the newly elected head of Hamas’ political bureau is the Gaza resident, Gaza born Ismail Haniya, who is also the democratically elected Prime Minister of the now defunct Palestinian Authority.  The Authority has no real authority and neither party is relevant anymore.

The question of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is also dead at this point although for political reasons Netanyahu will pretend it is a priority. Both Trump and Netanyahu know that Jerusalem is a red line that even two reckless politicians such as them will not dare cross. Trump will not risk a multi billion dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, and Netanyahu won’t risk an uprising for a symbolic gesture for which no country in the world can give its support. The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as part of Israel, and international recognition of Israel’s jurisdiction is out of the question. So while Israeli politicians may try to create headlines over this topic, it is nothing but a smoke screen.

The terror under which Palestinians live – be it in their own country or in refugee camps  around it, is part of the daily bread of Palestinian existence. The causes for this existence, the wars of 1948 and 1967 are commemorated each year during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June.  The horror of the Palestinian reality is magnified when compared to the dishonest, romanticized narrative presented by Jews during that time: An Israel that is eternally young and brave and facing constant danger, yet winning and succeeding. Judging by Trump’s entourage, which includes David Friedman the new US ambassador to Israel and Jared Kushner, the famous Jewish son in law, Israel’s narrative of lies will dominate the agenda, while trivia and smoke screens will dominate the news.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Libya – Why Was Muammar Gaddafi Killed – May We Never Forget

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Posted By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Based on a Skype interview with Alex Knyazev, Russia TV24

 

The Text below is the transcript of the interview between Alex Knyazev of Russia TV24 and Peter Koenig.  

Questions Russia TV24: What were the reasons Mr. Gaddafi was killed and NATO invaded Libya?

PK: Mr. Muammar Gaddafi was certainly not killed for humanitarian reasons.

Mr. Gaddafi wanted to empower Africa. He had a plan to create a new African Union, based on a new African economic system. He had a plan to introduce the ‘Gold Dinar’ as backing for African currencies, so they could become free from the dollar dominated western monetary system, that kept and keeps usurping Africa; Africa’s vast natural resources, especially oil and minerals. As a first step, he offered this lucrative and very beneficial alternative to other Muslim African states, but leaving it open for any other African countries to join.

At the time of Gaddafi’s atrocious murdering by Hillary Clinton, then Obama’s Secretary of State, and the French President Sarkozy, driven by NATO forces, on 20 October 2011 – Libya’s gold reserves were estimated at close to 150 tons, and about the same amount of silver. The estimated value at that time was US$ 7billion.

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It’s your guess who may have stolen this enormous treasure from the people of Libya. As of this date, it is nowhere to be found.

Gaddafi also wanted to detach his oil sales from the dollar, i.e. no longer trading hydrocarbons in US dollars, as was the US / OPEC imposed rule since the early 1970s. Other African and Middle Eastern oil and gas producers would have followed. In fact, Iran had already in 2007, a plan to introduce the Tehran Oil Bourse, where anyone could trade hydrocarbons in currencies other than the US dollar. That idea came to a sudden halt, when Bush (George W) started accusing Iran of planning to build a nuclear bomb which was, of course a fabricated lie, confirmed by the 16most prominent US security agencies- and later also by the UN body for nuclear safety – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Vienna. Washington needed a pretext to stop the Tehran Oil Bourse which would have decimated the need for dollars, and thereby most probably would have meant the end of the dollar hegemony.

Saddam Hussein had the same idea. He promised as soon as the murderous and criminal embargo imposed by the UN – of course dictated by Washington – would end in 2000, he would sell his petrol in euros. He was killed.

Gaddafi’s new plan for Africa would have meant an entirely new banking system for Africa, away from the now western (mainly France and UK) central banks dominated African currencies. -It could have meant the collapse of the US dollar -or at least an enormous blow to this fake dollar based western monetary system.

So, the Gold Dinar was not to happen. Anybody – to this day- who threatens the dollar hegemony will have to die. That means anybody other than China and Russia, because they have already a few years ago largely detached their economy from the dollar, by implementing hydrocarbons as well as other international contracts in gold or the respective local currencies. That alone has already helped reducing dollar holdings in international reserve coffers from almost 90% some 20 years ago to a rate fluctuating between 50% and 60% today.

Related imageThe also Washington / CIA induced “Arab Spring” was to turn the entire Middle East into one huge chaos zone- which today of course, it is. And there are no plans to secure it and to return it to normalcy, to what it was before. To the contrary, chaos allows to divide and conquer – to Balkanize, as is the plan for Syria and Iraq. One of the Washington led western goals of this chaos of constant conflict is to eventually install a system of private central banks in the Middle Eastern / North African countries controlled by Washington – privately owned central banks, à la Federal Reserve (FED), where the neocons, the Rothschilds and freemasonry would call the shots. That is expected to help stabilize the US dollar hegemony, as the hydrocarbons produced in this region generate trillions of dollars in trading per year.

Gaddafi also wanted to introduce, or had already started introducing into Africa a wireless telephone system that would do away with the US / European monopolies, with the Alcatels and AT and T’s of this world, which dominate and usurp the African market without scruples.

Gaddafi was not only the leader of Libya, he had ambitions to free Africa from the nefarious fangs of the west. Despite being called a dictator and despot by the west – they do that to anyone who doesn’t submit to Washington’s rules – he was very much liked by Libyans, by his people. He had a more than 80% approvalrate by the Libyan people. Libya’s oil fortune has allowed him to create a social system in his country where everybody would benefit from their land’s riches – free health care, free education, including scholarships abroad, modern infrastructure, top-notch technology in medicine, and more.

Russia TV24: Why the gold dinar would be unacceptable for the western leaders? Or not?

PK: Yes, the gold Dinar was totally unacceptable for western leaders. It might have devastated the US dollar hegemony, as well as Europe’s control over the African economy – which is nothing less than neo-colonization of Africa – in many ways worse than what happened for the past 400 or 800 years of murderous military colonization and oppression -which is by the way still ongoing, just more discretely.

Image result for Alassane Ouattara

Look at the Ivory Coast 2010 presidential elections. Theirarguably ‘unelected’ President, Alassane Ouattara (picture on the right), was in a tie with the people’s candidate, Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo said he won the election and asked for a recount which was denied. Ouattara, a former IMF staff, was pushed in, basically by ‘recommendation’ of the IMF. He is the darling of the neoliberal international financial institutions – and is leading a neocon government – an economy at the service of western corporations. That’s what they wanted. That’s what they got. Modern colonization is well alive and thriving. I call this a financial coup, instigated by foreign financial institutions.

Image result for laurent gbagboMr. Laurent Gbagbo was accused of rape, murder and other atrocities and immediately transferred to the International Criminal Court (sic-sic) – what justice? – in The Hague, where he was waiting five years for a trial which started on 28 January 2016 and is ongoing. On 15 May 2017, it was extended at the Prosecutor’s request to collect further evidence. This by all likelihood is just a farce to dupe the public into believing that he is getting a fair trial. Already in hearings in 2014, Gbagbo was found guilty of all charges, including murder, rape and other crimes against humanity. Like Slobodan Milošević, he is an inconvenient prisoner, or worse would he be as a free man. So, he will most likely be locked away – and one day commit ‘suicide’ or die from a ‘heart attack’.  The classic. That’s how the west does away with potential witnesses of their atrocious crimes. End of story. Nobody barks, because the ‘free world’has been made believe by the western presstitute media that these people are inhuman tyrants. That’s precisely what the western media’s headlines proclaimed about Muammar Gaddafi: Death of a Tyrant.

On the other hand, in 2015, Ouattara was “reelected by a landslide”. That’s what western media say. Colonization under African ‘leadership’. He is protected by the French army.

Back to Libya: Take the specific case of France and West and Central Africa. The French Central Bank, the Banque de France, backs the West and Central African Monetary Union’s currency, the CFA franc. The West African Central Bank, for example, is covered, i.e. controlled, by about 70% of the Banque de France. Banque de France has an almost total control over the economy of its former West African colonies. No wonder, Sarkozy, a murderer and war criminal – sorry, it must be said, backed Hillary’s – also a murderer and war criminal, push for NATO to destroy the country and kill thousands of Libyans, including Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Hillary’s infamous words: ‘We came we saw he died’. And that she said shamelessly, jokingly, laughing. Would the term human being still apply to such a monster?

Russia TV24: What countries are mostly interested in the Libyan recovery and why? What are the chances for the economy of Libya to be repaired?

PK: Well, if anybody should be interested in Libya’s recovery it would be first the Libyans who are still living in Libya, because they are now living in a Libya of chaos and high crime, of mafia-economics, of tyranny by gang leadership. They certainly have an interest to return to normalcy. North African neighboring countries should also be interested in restoring order and rebuilding Libya’s infrastructure and economy, stopping the spill-over of high crime and terrorism. They have lost an important trading partner.

Of course, the rest of Africa, who have suffered from continuous colonization of the west, after Gaddafi’s demise, should also be interested in reestablishing Libya. They know,it will never be the same Libya that was there to help their economy, to help them prying loose from the western boots and fangs of exploitation.

And Europe -should be most interested in reestablishing order and a real economy in Libya- cleaning it from a murderous Mafia that promotes drugs and slave trade ending up in Europe. Libya today is one of the key hubs for the boat refugees from Africa to Europe.Instead of helping Libyans to come to peace within its borders and to rebuild their country, the European Commission launched in 2015 a new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, targeting specifically Libya – destroying refugee boats, if they cannot stop them from leaving Tripoli, Benghazi and other Libyan Sea ports.

Of course, spineless Europe doesn’t dare saying they would like to remake Libya into a functional state.Libya is Washington’s territory – and Washington wants chaos to continue in Libya.As such Libya is a formidable ground for training and recruitment of terrorists, drug and slave trading; a country where crime prospers and the CIA takes their cut, as these criminal activities are directed by the CIA and their affiliates. The rest of the world doesn’t see that. For them it’s all the fault of the dictator Gaddafi, who thanks goodness was eliminated by the western powers, lords of money and greed.

Russia TV24: Decades ago Libya was very successful from an economic point of view. What main things could you remember?

PK: Libya was economically and socially a successful country, arguably the most successful of Africa. Prosperity from oil was largely shared by Gaddafi with his countrymen. Libya had a first-class social safety net, an excellent transportation infrastructure, free medical services, and modern hospitals,equipped with latest technology medical equipment, free education for everyone – and students could even receive scholarships to study abroad.

Image result for libya gaddafi

Under President Gaddafi, Libya built friendly relations based on solidarity with other African States and was always ready to help if a ‘brother nation’ was in trouble. Gaddafi was a bit like Hugo Chavez in South America. He had a large heart and charisma, maybe not so much for western leaders, but certainly for Libya’s own population. Yet, he is accused of tyranny by the West, and is said to having financially supported Sarkozy’s Presidential campaign – Sarkozy, the very ‘leader’ (sic-sic),who then helped Hillary lynch Gaddafi. If that doesn’t say a lot about Europe’s criminal leaders – what will?

Muammar Gaddafi was accused by Washington – an accusation immediately repeated by the spineless European puppets, of being responsible for the December 1988 PanAm Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. More than 240 people perished in the crash. Not a shred of evidence was discovered that Libya was behind the plot. But it was a good reason to start a program of sanctions against Gaddafi’s regime. It was most likely a false flag. What interest would anybody have to bring down that flight, other than clamping down on an oil-rich country.

Russia TV24: Now we see oil production has grown to at least 50% of the 2011 level. Can we expect it to continue growing and affecting the oil market?

PK: Yes, Libyan oil production has increased to about 50% of its 2011 level. Libya is known for her high premium light petrol, commanding premium prices. It is a market niche which might well be affected by Libya’s stepped up production. But who really benefits from this production increase? – Most likely not the Libyans, but the international corporations, mostly American and French oil giants. They call the shots on the production levels. They are part of the international cartel of oil price manipulators, as are the Wall Street banksters,predominantly Goldman Sachs.

Russia TV24: The sanctions against Libya are lifted and all barriers for foreign investments have disappeared as well. Does it mean the county will face recovery soon?

PK: Sanctions may be lifted, but that does not mean that foreign investments will now flow to Libya. The country is still under chaos and disarray – and in my opinion will stay so in the foreseeable future. That’s in Washington’s interest.Investors are reluctant to put their money into a crime nest and a terrorist breeding ground which is working closely with Washington and its secret services – to provide terrorists to fight US-proxy wars around the Middle East, for example in Syria and Iraq – and now even in Afghanistan – and who knows where else.

Russia TV24:How do you assess the political situation in the country today?

PK: As much as I would like to end on a positive note, it is difficult. As long as the CIA, chief instigator of all wars in the Middle East, is using the purposefully created Libyan chaos to train and recruit Islamic State fighters, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups which vary only in name but have the same objective – namely regime change in Syria – prospects for a foreseeable bright future are dim.

Of course, a lot depends on the unpredictable Trump Presidency. Will he seek peace in the Middle East? – That would be the surprise of the Century – or will he continue on the track dictated by the Deep State (not least to save his skin) – continue destruction of the Middle East, Balkanization of Syria – all as a stepping stone to Full Spectrum Dominance – as is written in the American Bible – the PNAC – Plan for a New American Century – which outlines the ‘American Pax Romana’. They were the bloodiest 200 – 300 years of the Roman Empire. Here comes the positive note: It is unlikely that the American empire will last that long. It’s on its last legs.When it finally falters, Libya may recover, and so may the rest of the world.

Posted in Libya0 Comments

Forty-Five Blows Against Democracy

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

How U.S. Military Bases Back Dictators, Autocrats, and Military Regimes
 

Much outrage has been expressed in recent weeks over President Donald Trump’s invitation for a White House visit to Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, whose “war on drugs” has led to thousands of extrajudicial killings. Criticism of Trump was especially intense given his similarly warm public support for other authoritarian rulers like Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (who visited the Oval Office to much praise only weeks earlier), Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan (who got a congratulatory phone call from President Trump on his recent referendum victory, granting him increasingly unchecked powers), and Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-ocha (who also received a White House invitation).

But here’s the strange thing: the critics generally ignored the far more substantial and long-standing bipartisan support U.S. presidents have offered these and dozens of other repressive regimes over the decades. After all, such autocratic countries share one striking thing in common. They are among at least 45 less-than-democratic nations and territories that today host scores of U.S. military bases, from ones the size of not-so-small American towns to tiny outposts. Together, these bases are homes to tens of thousands of U.S. troops.

To ensure basing access from Central America to Africa, Asia to the Middle East, U.S. officials have repeatedly collaborated with fiercely anti-democratic regimes and militaries implicated in torture, murder, the suppression of democratic rights, the systematic oppression of women and minorities, and numerous other human rights abuses. Forget the recent White House invitations and Trump’s public compliments. For nearly three quarters of a century, the United States has invested tens of billions of dollars in maintaining bases and troops in such repressive states. From Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have, since World War II, regularly shown a preference for maintaining bases in undemocratic and often despotic states, including Spain under Generalissimo Francisco Franco, South Korea under Park Chung-hee, Bahrain under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, and Djibouti under four-term President Ismail Omar Guelleh, to name just four.

Many of the 45 present-day undemocratic U.S. base hosts qualify as fully “authoritarian regimes,” according to the Economist Democracy Index. In such cases, American installations and the troops stationed on them are effectively helping block the spread of democracy in countries like Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kuwait, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

This pattern of daily support for dictatorship and repression around the world should be a national scandal in a country supposedly committed to democracy. It should trouble Americans ranging from religious conservatives and libertarians to leftists — anyone, in fact, who believes in the democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. After all, one of the long-articulated justifications for maintaining military bases abroad has been that the U.S. military’s presence protects and spreads democracy.

Far from bringing democracy to these lands, however, such bases tend to provide legitimacy for and prop up undemocratic regimes of all sorts, while often interfering with genuine efforts to encourage political and democratic reform. The silencing of the critics of human rights abuses in base hosts like Bahrain, which has violently cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators since 2011, has left the United States complicit in these states’ crimes.

During the Cold War, bases in undemocratic countries were often justified as the unfortunate but necessary consequence of confronting the “communist menace” of the Soviet Union. But here’s the curious thing: in the quarter century since the Cold War ended with that empire’s implosion, few of those bases have closed. Today, while a White House visit from an autocrat may generate indignation, the presence of such installations in countries run by repressive or military rulers receives little notice at all.

Befriending Dictators

The 45 nations and territories with little or no democratic rule represent more than half of the roughly 80 countries now hosting U.S. bases (who often lack the power to ask their “guests” to leave).  They are part of a historically unprecedented global network of military installations the United States has built or occupied since World War II.

Today, while there are no foreign bases in the United States, there are around 800 U.S. bases in foreign countries. That number was recently even higher, but it still almost certainly represents a record for any nation or empire in history. More than 70 years after World War II and 64 years after the Korean War, there are, according to the Pentagon, 181 U.S. “base sites” in Germany, 122 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea. Hundreds more dot the planet from Aruba to Australia, Belgium to Bulgaria, Colombia to Qatar. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, civilians, and family members occupy these installations. By my conservative estimate, to maintain such a level of bases and troops abroad, U.S. taxpayers spend at least $150 billion annually — more than the budget of any government agency except the Pentagon itself.

For decades, leaders in Washington have insisted that bases abroad spread our values and democracy — and that may have been true to some extent in occupied Germany, Japan, and Italy after World War II. However, as base expert Catherine Lutz suggests, the subsequent historical record shows that

“gaining and maintaining access for U.S. bases has often involved close collaboration with despotic governments.”

The bases in the countries whose leaders President Trump has recently lauded illustrate the broader pattern. The United States has maintained military facilities in the Philippines almost continuously since seizing that archipelago from Spain in 1898. It only granted the colony independence in 1946, conditioned on the local government’s agreement that the U.S. would retain access to more than a dozen installations there.

Image result for marcosAfter independence, a succession of U.S. administrations supported two decades of Ferdinand Marcos’s autocratic rule, ensuring the continued use of Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base, two of the largest U.S. bases abroad. After the Filipino people finally ousted Marcos in 1986 and then made the U.S. military leave in 1991, the Pentagon quietly returned in 1996. With the help of a “visiting forces agreement” and a growing stream of military exercises and training programs, it began to set up surreptitious, small-scale bases once more. A desire to solidify this renewed base presence, while also checking Chinese influence, undoubtedly drove Trump’s recent White House invitation to Duterte. It came despite the Filipino president’s record of joking about rape, swearing he would be “happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts just as “Hitler massacred [six] million Jews,” and bragging, “I don’t care about human rights.”

In Turkey, President Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic rule is only the latest episode in a pattern of military coups and undemocratic regimes interrupting periods of democracy. U.S. bases have, however, been a constant presence in the country since 1943. They repeatedly caused controversy and sparked protest — first throughout the 1960s and 1970s, before the Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, and more recently after U.S. forces began using them to launch attacks in Syria.

Although Egypt has a relatively small U.S. base presence, its military has enjoyed deep and lucrative ties with the U.S. military since the signing of the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1979. After a 2013 military coup ousted a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, the Obama administration took months to withhold some forms of military and economic aid, despite more than 1,300 killings by security forces and the arrest of more than 3,500 members of the Brotherhood. According to Human Rights Watch,

“Little was said about ongoing abuses,” which have continued to this day.

Image result for Utapao Naval Air BaseIn Thailand, the U.S. has maintained deep connections with the Thai military, which has carried out 12 coups since 1932. Both countries have been able to deny that they have a basing relationship of any sort, thanks to a rental agreement between a private contractor and U.S. forces at Thailand’s Utapao Naval Air Base.

“Because of [contractor] Delta Golf Global,” writes journalist Robert Kaplan, “the U.S. military was here, but it was not here. After all, the Thais did no business with the U.S. Air Force. They dealt only with a private contractor.”

Elsewhere, the record is similar. In monarchical Bahrain, which has had a U.S. military presence since 1949 and now hosts the Navy’s 5th Fleet, the Obama administration offered only the most tepid criticism of the government despite an ongoing, often violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. According to Human Rights Watch and others (including an independent commission of inquiry appointed by the Bahraini king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa), the government has been responsible for widespread abuses including the arbitrary arrest of protesters, ill treatment during detention, torture-related deaths, and growing restrictions on freedoms of speech, association, and assembly. The Trump administration has already signaled its desire to protect the military-to-military ties of the two countries by approving a sale of F-16 fighters to Bahrain without demanding improvements in its human rights record.

And that’s typical of what base expert Chalmers Johnson once called the American “baseworld.” Research by political scientist Kent Calder confirms what’s come to be known as the “dictatorship hypothesis”:

“The United States tends to support dictators [and other undemocratic regimes] in nations where it enjoys basing facilities.”

Another large-scale study similarly shows that autocratic states have been “consistently attractive” as base sites. “Due to the unpredictability of elections,” it added bluntly, democratic states prove “less attractive in terms [of] sustainability and duration.”

Even within what are technically U.S. borders, democratic rule has regularly proved “less attractive” than preserving colonialism into the twenty-first century. The presence of scores of bases in Puerto Rico and the Pacific island of Guam has been a major motivation for keeping these and other U.S. “territories” — American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands — in varying degrees of colonial subordination. Conveniently for military leaders, they have neither full independence nor the full democratic rights that would come with incorporation into the U.S. as states, including voting representation in Congress and the presidential vote.  Installations in at least five of Europe’s remaining colonies have proven equally attractive, as has the base that U.S. troops have forcibly occupied in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, since shortly after the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Backing Dictators

Authoritarian rulers tend to be well aware of the desire of U.S. officials to maintain the status quo when it comes to bases. As a result, they often capitalize on a base presence to extract benefits or help ensure their own political survival.

The Philippines’ Marcos, former South Korean dictator Syngman Rhee, and more recently Djibouti’sIsmail Omar Guelleh have been typical in the way they used bases to extract economic assistance from Washington, which they then lavished on political allies to shore up their power. Others have relied on such bases to bolster their international prestige and legitimacy or to justify violence against domestic political opponents. After the 1980 Kwangju massacre in which the South Korean government killed hundreds, if not thousands, of pro-democracy demonstrators, strongman General Chun Doo-hwanexplicitly cited the presence of U.S. bases and troops to suggest that his actions enjoyed Washington’s support. Whether or not that was true is still a matter of historical debate. What’s clear, however, is that American leaders have regularly muted their criticism of repressive regimes lest they imperil bases in these countries. In addition, such a presence tends to strengthen military, rather than civilian, institutions in countries because of the military-to-military ties, arms sales, and training missions that generally accompany basing agreements.

Meanwhile, opponents of repressive regimes often use the bases as a tool to rally nationalist sentiment, anger, and protest against both ruling elites and the United States. That, in turn, tends to fuel fears in Washington that a transition to democracy might lead to base eviction, often leading to a doubling down on support for undemocratic rulers. The result can be an escalating cycle of opposition and U.S.-backed repression.

Blowback

While some defend the presence of bases in undemocratic countries as necessary to deter “bad actors” and support “U.S. interests” (primarily corporate ones), backing dictators and autocrats frequently leads to harm not just for the citizens of host nations but for U.S. citizens as well. The base build-up in the Middle East has proven the most prominent example of this. Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution, which both unfolded in 1979, the Pentagon has built up scores of bases across the Middle East at a cost of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. According to former West Point professor Bradley Bowman, such bases and the troops that go with them have been a “major catalyst for anti-Americanism and radicalization.” Research has similarly revealed a correlation between the bases and al-Qaeda recruitment.

Most catastrophically, outposts in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have helped generate and fuel the radical militancy that has spread throughout the Greater Middle East and led to terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States. The presence of such bases and troops in Muslim holy lands was, after all, a major recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and part of Osama bin Laden’s professed motivation for the 9/11 attacks.

With the Trump administration seeking to entrench its renewed base presence in the Philippines and the president commending Duterte and similarly authoritarian leaders in Bahrain and Egypt, Turkey and Thailand, human rights violations are likely to escalate, fueling unknown brutality and baseworld blowback for years to come.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Armed Drones: America’s Favorite Weapon, Blurring the Line between Warfare and Assassination

NOVANEWS
Postedby: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr
 

President Barack Obama has received much credit for drawing down American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, but less attention has been paid to his administration’s embrace of armed drones. His expansion of covert drone strikes goes far beyond that of former President George W. Bush, and has blurred the line between warfare and assassination. The classified processes used by the White House for approving these remote killings in foreign countries – countries which the U.S. is not officially at war with – has people questioning not only the Obama administration’s tactics, but also the collateral damage of civilian casualties left in its wake.

Armed Drones: President Obama's Weapon of Choice [INFOGRAPHIC]
Via: Ammo.com

Sources

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2014/01/23/more-than-2400-dead-as-obamas-drone-campaign-marks-five-years/
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147
http://www.poynter.org/2014/fact-checking-the-war-comparisons-between-obama-and-bush/272471/
https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/the-assassination-complex/
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/07/the-year-in-drones/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_strikes_in_Pakistan#Statistics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_drone_strikes_in_Yemen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Enduring_Freedom_-_Horn_of_Africa#Drone_attacks
https://theintercept.com/2015/10/21/stealth-expansion-of-secret-us-drone-base-in-africa/
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/15/90-of-people-killed-by-us-drone-strikes-in-afghani
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/latest-news/xr89qw/picture23447568/ALTERNATES/FREE_640/g7aSC.So.91.jpg
https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2014/05/23/most-us-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-attack-houses/
https://www.amazon.com/Assassination-Complex-Governments-Warfare-Program/dp/1501144138
http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/10/obama-misled-the-public-on-drones.html
https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/a-visual-glossary/
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/05/america-first-drone-strike-afghanistan/394463/
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-8186324
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/21/us-airstrike-taliban-leader-mullah-akhtar-mansoor
http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2016/06/09/official-us-moving-expand-strikes-afghanistan/85668820/

Posted in USA, Human Rights0 Comments

Standoff in Venezuela

Venezuela has been rocked in recent weeks by almost daily protests and counter-protests, as right-wing opponents of socialist President Nicolas Maduro seek to bring down his government.

While the media portrays these events as a popular rebellion against an authoritarian government, supporters of the pro-poor Bolivarian revolution initiated by former president Hugo Chavez say the country is witnessing an escalation in what is an ongoing counter-revolutionary campaign seeking to restore Venezuela’s traditional elites in power and reverse the gains made by the poor majority under Chavez and Maduro.

Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes interviewed Steve Ellner, a well-known analyst of Venezuelan and Latin American politics and a retired professor at Venezuela’s Universidad de Oriente, to get his views on recent events.

*     *     *

When it comes to the current turmoil in Venezuela, the media have been unanimous in their version of events: the Maduro regime is on its last legs due to the overwhelming opposition it faces from the people, including among the poorest sectors that previously supported the government, and therefore its only recourse for survival is violent repression. How accurate is this media narrative?

It’s hardly a far-gone conclusion.

There is no better indication of the deceptiveness of the mainstream media’s narrative than the spatial nature of the anti-government protests in early 2014 known as the “guarimba” and again this year.

The protests are centred in the middle and upper class areas whose mayors belong to the opposition. The strategy behind the protests is for the mass civil disobedience, confrontation with security forces and widespread destruction of public property to spread to the poorer areas.

Certainly, the popular sectors have a long tradition of street protests, particularly over deficient public services. But the popular sectors have remained largely passive, although with more exceptions now than in 2014. Obviously the opposition is banking on greater active popular support than in 2014.

Image result for Chavista United Socialist Party of Venezuela

Along similar lines, the Chavista United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has been more damaged by electoral abstention among disenchanted Chavistas than those who end up voting for the opposition. Such electoral behaviour is what explains the Chavista defeat in the December 2014 elections for the National Assembly.

But the Chavista leaders still have an impressive degree of mobilisation capacity, as was demonstrated in two recent marches, one on Venezuelan Independence Day on April 19, and the other on May 1.

The nation’s precarious economic situation as well as the complete political turnaround in the hemisphere strengthens the opposition’s hand. Whereas in past political crises, such as the coup attempt in 2002 and the general strike of 2002-2003, the Chavez government was able to count on backing from other Latin American nations including in some cases non-leftist ones.

Now Venezuela’s neighbouring governments, in spite of their considerable unpopularity and internal discontent, have explicitly taken up the cause of the Venezuelan opposition.

But at this point I would describe the political situation in Venezuela as a standoff, a far cry from saying that the government is on its last legs. Of course, given the political volatility over the recent past, predictions have to be at best tentative.

In an ultimate sense, the popular sectors have the last word. If they were to join the protests, then the statement that the Maduro government is, as you say, on its last legs, would be accurate. The situation would then be similar to that of the Soviet Union in 1991 when the miners began to march against the government, thus signalling the collapse of the regime.

Even some former supporters of the government today speak of an authoritarian turn on the part of Maduro. Is there any truth to this accusation?

To answer your question it has to be pointed out that Venezuela is not in a normal situation, with what political scientists call a “loyal opposition” that recognises the government’s legitimacy and plays by the rules of the game. Thus to talk about government actions without placing them in context – as the corporate media is prone to do – is misleading.

The opposition leaders of today are, for the most part, the same ones involved in the coup and general strike of 2002-2003, the same ones who refused to recognise the legitimacy of the electoral processes in 2004 and 2005 and consistently questioned the legitimacy of the National Electoral Council except in those cases in which the government was defeated.

Image result for maduro

They are also the same ones who refused to recognise Maduro’s triumph in the presidential election of 2013, resulting in about a dozen deaths, and then promoted the four months of protests in 2014 involving civil disobedience on a massive scale along with considerable violence, resulting in 43 deaths including six members of the national guard.

The current period commences with the opposition’s triumph in the National Assembly elections of 2015 when the president of that body, Henry Ramos Allup, immediately announced that regime change would be achieved within six months; subsequently the National Assembly turned down the executive’s budgetary allocations. All along the opposition has rejected the government’s call for a national dialogue, demanding concessions as a precondition for negotiations.

The protests that have occurred in the last month are a repeat of the guarimba of 2014. Opposition leaders completely evade the issue of violence, other than declaring that they are opposed to it in an abstract sense.

Practically every day they call marches in the affluent eastern part of Caracas that attempt to reach the downtown area where the presidential palace is located. Government spokespeople have stated numerous times that downtown Caracas is off limits for the opposition marches; security forces commonly employ tear gas to prevent passage.

The reason for the government’s refusal is obvious. With a massive number of opposition people in the downtown area for an indefinite period of time, massive civil disobedience, the surrounding of the presidential palace and violence would all ensue, along with uncontrollable chaos.

The confrontations would be aggravated by the coverage of the international media, which has always spun their reports to favour the opposition. The fact that every day for the last several weeks the main leaders of the opposition have called for marches to reach downtown Caracas, even though they know full well that confrontations will occur, would suggest that their strategy for gaining power envisions street disruptions and combat.

The spatial nature of the protests is key. You may say that the government is justified in avoiding the protests from reaching the centre of Caracas. But the question may be asked, would the Chavistas tolerate peaceful marches originating from the affluent eastern half of the city marching though Chavista strongholds in the popular sectors?

The question is clouded by the fact that the opposition marches almost invariably involve civil disobedience and violence.

Would you say that both the Chavistas and the opposition are assuming intransigent positions?

Both sides are playing hard ball, but a description of the political setting is indispensable in order to appreciate what is at stake. The fact is that the democratic nature of some of the government’s decisions is questionable, two in particular.

A month ago, ex-presidential candidate (on two occasions), and governor of the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles was stripped of his right to participate in elections due to charges of corruption.

In the second place, the gubernatorial and municipal elections which were slated for December 2016 have been delayed on grounds that other proposed electoral processes have pushed them into the future. Although Maduro has indicated that his party is ready to participate in those elections, a date has still not been set. If elections were held today, the Chavistas would very possibly suffer losses.

The hardliners in the Chavista movement headed by National Assembly deputy Diosdado Cabello are obviously calling the shots and they support an aggressive line toward the opposition. The most visible voice for the “soft-line” is former vice-president Jose Vicente Rangel, who favours gestures that would encourage negotiations and buttress those in the opposition who reject street confrontation.

Likewise, the radicals in the opposition are firmly in control. They have made clear that once in power, they would jail the Chavista leaders on grounds of corruption and violation of human rights. Their call for “No to Impunity” is a coded slogan. It means in effect a witch hunt against the Chavista movement and repression that would pave the way for the imposition of unpopular neoliberal policies.

Indeed, neoliberalism characterised Capriles’ platform in the two presidential elections of 2012 and 2013. There is a definite relationship between the radical tactics and intolerance displayed by the opposition, on the one hand, and the neoliberal program which would be imposed should the opposition return to power, on the other hand.

To sum up, the narrative that calls the Maduro government “authoritarian” is a blatant misrepresentation of what is happening. On the other hand, the Chavista leaders have on occasion distanced themselves from democratic principles. Their actions, however, need to be contextualised.

What has been the impact of interference by the US government and the Organization of American States, along with the changing attitude of certain governments in the region?

The foreign actors you refer to have failed to place themselves above Venezuela’s internal politics in order to promote a peaceful resolution to a conflict that could well degenerate into civil war. The statements issued by the White House as well as Luis Almagro, the OAS’ secretary general, coincide in their entirety with the opposition’s narrative and demands.

Image result for Organization of American States

Rather than taking sides in Venezuela’s internal conflict, the OAS should have called for a national dialogue and named a nonpartisan committee to investigate disputed events. The decision of the Maduro government to withdraw from the OAS was a reaction to the organisation’s partisanship, which has served only to exacerbate the political polarization.

The OAS and other international actors reinforce the Venezuelan opposition’s narrative that conflates pressing economic problems and the alleged authoritarianism of the Maduro government. This line inadvertently strengthens the hand of the hardliners within the opposition.

The only way to justify regime change by non-electoral means and the intervention of foreign actors, such as the OAS, is to attempt to demonstrate that the nation is headed toward a dictatorship and systematically violates human rights.

But the moderates within the opposition – although at this point they have no visible national leader – favour emphasising economic issues in order to reach out to the popular sectors of the population, attract some of the disenchanted Chavistas, and at the same time accept dialogue with government representatives. The moderates therefore place an accent mark on economic issues more than political ones.

In this sense, the intromission of foreign actors who question the Venezuelan government’s democratic credentials only serves to bolster the position of the radicals in the opposition and to further polarise the nation.

In terms of the current economic problems: how serious are the shortages?

The problem of shortages of basic products is undeniable, even while media outlets like the Wall Street Journal claim that the nation is on the verge of mass starvation. Hunger is a scourge that afflicts the lower strata in other, if not all, Latin American nations. But the key index from social and political viewpoints is the contrast with standards in Venezuela in previous years. The deterioration has certainly been sharp with regard to the period prior to the sharp decline in oil prices in mid-2015.

What do you foresee happening in the immediate future? Is the Maduro government doomed? What do you think of the proposed Constituent Assembly?

Maduro’s proposal for a constituent assembly is a mixed bag with regard to the possibility of achieving greater stability.

On the one hand it is an initiative – something new – that is designed to break the deadlock the nation finds itself stuck in. A favourable scenario would be that the Chavistas are able to activate their base as well as that of social movements and achieve an important degree of electoral participation.

Furthermore, in the best-case scenario, constituent assembly delegates would formulate viable proposals to deal with pressing issues, such as corruption, and the Chavistas in power would demonstrate genuine receptivity to them.

In short, a constituent assembly based on bottom-up participation could be a game changer.

In the case of the alternative scenario, the constituent assembly proposal will be viewed as a ploy to buy time and sidetrack the electoral process.

Posted in Venezuela0 Comments

Syria rejects Washington’s crematorium allegation as ‘unfounded’

NOVANEWS

Another fake-news story on Syria, based on a Google image

Here are all the Syrian soldiers captured by ISIS at Tabqa airfield being marched into the desert for their mass execution – video below

[ Editor’s Note: One has to ask, as usual, “why now” with what is really an old retread story, based on “evidence” that this “new” State Department report clearly states as conditional with its “probably a crematorium” comment below. The State Dept. is smart enough to know this is a weak story, but ran with it anyway, knowing it would get good media play, and it has.

Human Rights Watch, another long-time controlled front organization, also jumps on stories like this with

its “war crimes” headline grabber, despite the generalities they use, which would not even get a grand jury indictment, much less a conviction.

There is another issue missing in the story analysis, the little item that Syria clearly has the right, under international law, to execute large numbers of prisoners if it wanted to. In this particular case, it would involve having military trials for all foreign jihadi terrorists captured in the field, where they were convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to death.

Also, always missing from these whiny stories is any mention of the history of mass executions of Syrian soldiers captured by foreign jihadis AND opposition groups. A Google search will bring on a large number of photos and videos which have been plastered all over the internet for years now.

Below is video of the unfortunate Syrian soldiers captured at Tabqa airfield in 2014 being marched into the desert in their underwear to a mass execution site with the cameras rolling, yet the world public knows nothing about this and many other events as they were “played down” on Western press.

This makes our State Department’s cheap shot on the Syrians today all the more reprehensible. You will also notice that if you Google Human Rights Watch, you will not find much concern about Syrian soldier mass executions, nor will you find any remorse for Google’s countless fake-atrocity reports, generally received from jihadi embeds. The Aleppo saga was one of their biggest disgraces; and most all of its reporting has been debunked since Aleppo was liberated; yet we don’t hear a peep over “how could we have gotten in so wrong”. There has not been one suicide at HRW over its shameless conduct, not even a resignation.

So with that as a background, why do you think “they” would have the gall to pedal a story like this now? I suggest to you that from past experience, they know that the general public is so stupid and so easy to manipulate that using this type of propaganda is a “freebie”; and why not use it to put a negative spine on Damascus continuing to liberate more territory, thus strengthening its hand in the future political negotiations.

As for the timing, why now, that is easy. We are just about to kick off the next round of Geneva talks on Syria, so this is just peeing in the water to create a negative atmosphere for more “Assad the monster must go” hype, which we know we will be hearing from the US coalition-supported terrorist groups. Yes, it seems you can just make this stuff up, and “they” do it all the timeJim W. Dean ]

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Here is a real execution photo, grandly staged in Palmyra, done by General Petraeus, CIA and Gulf State ISIS creation and plastered over the internet
–  First published  …  May 16,  2017  –

Syria has categorically rejected Washington’s accusation that Damascus has constructed a prison-based crematorium to burn the bodies of thousands of alleged executed detainees, saying the “unfounded” claim is in fact a new “Hollywood” story made to further interfere in the internal affairs of the Arab country.

“As it is habitual of successive US administrations to fabricate lies and allegations to justify their aggressive and interventionist policies in other sovereign countries, what came out from the current US administration is just a new Hollywood screenplay disconnected from reality,” said the Syrian Foreign Ministry in a statement carried by the official SANA news agency on Tuesday.

The ministry’s response came a day after the US Department of State, citing the US intelligence community and some “credible” humanitarian agencies, accused the Syrian government of cremating the bodies of inmates killed in “extrajudicial” executions in the Saydnaya military prison, located some 30 kilometers north of the capital Damascus, in order to “cover up the extent of mass murders taking place” in the detention facility.

It also distributed a satellite photo, dated April 2017, which allegedly shows the Saydnaya complex, naming some parts of it, including a “probable crematorium.”

Syria has in the past strongly denied any abuse at Saydnaya. Earlier this year, Damascus dismissed as baseless a report by Amnesty International about mass hanging at the prison. The Syrian Foreign Ministry, while strongly condemning the accusation, further said that such allegations were “totally unfounded.”

“They are nothing but the product of the imagination of this administration and its agents,” it added.

The ministry also said that the new accusation was in line with previous baseless allegations that Washington leveled against the Syrian government, including Damascus’ alleged use of “explosive barrels” and “chemical weapons” against the opposition in the Arab country.

The new allegation by the United States against the Syrian government came on the same day that, according to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, US-led airstrikes in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr near the border with Iraq killed at least 23 displaced civilians.

On Saturday, another aerial aggression carried out by the US-led military coalition in Raqqah Province claimed the lives of 12 women.

Earlier on May 9, nearly a dozen people, including four children and six women, lost their lives and several others sustained injuries when US-led warplanes bombarded al-Salihiya village in northern Syria.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be positions of the Daesh Takfiri terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The US-led coalition has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of destroying Daesh.

Syria has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then.

Posted in USA, Syria0 Comments

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