Archive | July 8th, 2017

The National Geographic ‘Hell on Earth’ Syria Hoax

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By Paul Larudee 

On April 5, 2017, National Geographic released a preview of its film, Hell on Earth: The Fall Of Syria And The Rise of ISISby filmmaker Sebastian Junger and producing partner Nick Quested:

The film itself debuted on April 26, 2017, at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and on the National Geographic channel on June 11. Junger and Quested persuaded NG to release the preview early, following the suspected chemical attacks in Syria on April 4.

There are, unfortunately, several problems with the footage in both the preview and the film, as well as with the claims made by the filmmakers and National Geographic. The most glaring of these is that the opening scene of the trailer is a total fraud.

The scene shows a missile destroying a residential building with a thunderous explosion. Imposed over the footage are the words, ALEPPO, SYRIA. The clear implication is that the missile is part of a Russian or Syrian Air Force attack in the battle for Aleppo.

But how would the videographer have known where to position the camera in preparation for such an attack? Surprisingly, there is a logical answer to this question, because there are, in fact, circumstances where victims are told in advance the location and time of a missile strike.

Such a location is Gaza, and the time is when Israeli soldiers call the inhabitants of a house by phone and tell them to get out in 15 minutes or be blown up. That is enough time for a neighbor to film the event, and, in fact, it has been done on multiple occasions in Gaza, such as hereherehereherehere and here.

But in Aleppo, Syria? Who would call in advance? In this case, the explanation is rather different; i.e., that the footage is not from Aleppo at all, but, in fact, from Gaza and only labeled as Aleppo. The original source footage comes from 2014, and is from the Israeli operation that took more than 2,200 Palestinian lives that summer, long before the Russians started providing air support for the Syrian army:

The use of this footage in the National Geographic preview, falsely labeling the location as Aleppo and implicating the Syrian or Russian Air Force in the destruction, is therefore a shameless and utter fraud.

The second discrepancy is that, according to the filmmakers, the footage in the preview is from the feature film. That may have been true on April 5, when the public had not yet seen the full film, but at some point, someone must have brought the fraudulent footage to the attention of National Geographic, so that they could replace it with a new opening footage. When did this happen? Was it before the debut on April 26, or later? It would be good to know.

But the reaction of the filmmakers is disappointing in the extreme. When faced with proof positive that their film contained a blatant fraud, did no one question the extent to which the entire film might be filled with fraud? Anyone who would so obviously falsify would hardly limit it to a single segment. The footage was clearly chosen for its effect, not its accuracy, and its quiet removal is more a cover-up than a correction.

To what extent, for example, are the rescue portions of the preview and film, featuring the White Helmets, also fraud? Respected US Marine intelligence officer and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter is convinced that the White Helmets are incompetent in rescue operations, and that their videos are fabrications. Recognized documentary filmmaker John Pilger has called them a “complete propaganda construct”. On occasion, the White Helmets have even been forced to admit the same.

To what extent is the featured family merely acting out the events portrayed and not actually living them? To what extent is it all contrived? These are questions that deserve investigation. More important, how true is the reality that the film tries to portray, whether simulated or not (although if simulated, the filmmakers should say so for the sake of their own integrity, rather than pretending it is genuine)?

The fact is that although half the Syrian population has been displaced by war, the majority have never left Syria. When displaced, they have almost invariably left the areas taken over by “rebels” in order to seek refuge in government controlled areas. Why? Is it because the Syrian government; i.e., the “despised” Bashar al-Assad – despite the disastrous economy and in cooperation with Syrian civil organizations – is somehow housing, feeding, clothing, educating and providing health care to these Syrian citizens? In fact, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees reports that, with the Syrian government reasserting its authority in recovered areas of the country, more than 440,000 displaced persons have returned to their homes.

The film also fails to mention that thousands of “rebel” fighters have laid down their arms, accepted Syrian government amnestyand been allowed to return to their homes. It further omits that the US and its allies could have stopped ISIS by merely denying them funding and arms. Russia was the one that largely put an end to the trafficking of stolen Syrian oil, by bombing the massive convoys of trucks across the Turkish border. No mention of that in the film. The US has avoided serious actions against ISIS and al-Qaeda, and treated them as useful hit men in order to destroy the Syrian military. This made us enablers of the terrorists rather than their eliminators.

As for the filmmakers, the New Yorker reports that “[they] couldn’t get into Syria, so … [the film] was shot by Middle Eastern news outfits, and by activists, witnesses, and citizen journalists.” This is reflected in the credits, which include the Aleppo Media Center, Daryaa [sic] Media Center, Halab News Network and Sham News. These are all affiliates of the White Helmets, which in turn is the front organization for the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, variously called Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabha Fateh al-Sham and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Their lavish funding comes from France, the UK, the US, Qatar and other countries. There is no evidence that any of the footage has been authenticated by the filmmakers themselves, and every reason to think that it has not.

It’s not that the film is totally inaccurate or that it does not do a service by revealing the suffering of refugees. It does. But it also perpetuates the worst western myths about the war, which are feeding a continuation of the suffering and the conflict. The US and its allies are the prime cause of the conflict, not the solution. US policy makers see the destruction of Syria as a positive thing, much as they do Iraq and Libya, and US efforts are directed toward destruction and control, not toward resolution and reconciliation.

If the filmmakers were honest, they would take the evidence of fraud as a sign that they need to review all the footage in the film that they have not authenticated and over which they have not exercised control.  Otherwise, they run the risk of being labeled as propagandists and permanently damaging or ruining their credibility as documentary filmmakers.

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New Syria Ceasefire Deal May Be US Attempt to Save Rebels From Defeat

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A newly announced deal on a ceasefire in southwestern Syria may be an attempt by the United States to save the Syrian rebels from defeat, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Executive Director Daniel McAdams told Sputnik.

‘On the Syria “ceasefire” agreement, we need to see the fine print. But I am skeptical that yet another US “ceasefire” proposal for Syria will result in the reduction of violence in that six year war,’ McAdams said on Friday. ‘It seems whenever the US side experiences significant losses on the battlefield, Washington comes forward with a ceasefire proposal in a desperate attempt to save its “rebels” from defeat.’

Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, after talks between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin that the United States, Russia and Jordan agreed on ceasefire in southwestern Syria starting at noon on July 9.

McAdams suggested that the best agreement between Putin and Trump on Syria would be “a negotiated withdrawal of US forces from the country, where they illegally occupy Syrian territory.”

The United States and Russia have backed opposing sides in Syria’s six-year-conflict, with Moscow supporting the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Washington backing rebel groups seeking his ouster.

Russia, Iran and Turkey are guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire regime, having signed a memorandum on the establishment of four safe zones in Syria that came into force on May 6.

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Western Sanctions Drive Aleppo Maternity Hospital to Critical Condition

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It’s not just war and terrorism that have destroyed Syria and destabilized its economy. Punitive measures imposed by the US and the EU have transformed a once prosperous country into an aid-dependent nation. The chief doctor of a government-run maternity hospital in Aleppo revealed the struggling conditions the hospital has found itself in.

It was not long ago that Aleppo was liberated from terrorists. The raging war however was not the only horror which devastated the city. Officials also blame the sanctions, introduced by the US and the EU, for the desperate need of medical equipment, fuel, food and building materials.

The punitive measures of the West have severely restricted pharmaceutical imports, even though medical supplies are largely exempt from the imposed measures.

Lina Allouzi, a chief doctor of a government-run maternity hospital in Aleppo, revealed the dire situation in the medical institution.

“Up to 20 babies are being born in our maternity house daily. More girls are being born and this gives us joy and hope that peace will come here soon,” Doctor Allouzi told journalists.

She said that even in these conditions the hospital can boast a radiology room, special equipment for medical examinations and a unique laboratory. All the services and medication provided by the medical facility are free of charge. Expectant mothers come there from all over the province and the medical personnel work flat-out.

However the equipment which had been, bought abroad before the war, is often out of order due to the frequent blackouts in the city.

“The microscope in the laboratory is out of order and I am really worried about the efficiency of the care units for premature babies,” Doctor Allouzi said.

She noted that due to the sanctions imposed by the EU and the US, it is practically impossible to buy spare parts for the equipment produced in Germany, the US and France. Thus the country’s handymen try to “resurrect” the expensive equipment.

The sanctions also blocked the supplies of medication to maternity hospitals, however Doctor Allouzi said that Syrian pharmacologists have been able to produce some medicine locally.

Interestingly enough, back in September 2016, the US-based news website The Intercept obtained a UN internal report which revealed that the US and European sanctions “blocked access to blood safety equipment, medicines, medical devices, food, fuel, water pumps, spare parts for power plants, and more.”

The news website also obtained an internal UN email which “faults US and EU sanctions for contributing to food shortages and deteriorations in health care.”

“The August email from a key UN official warned that sanctions had contributed to a doubling in fuel prices in 18 months and a 40 percent drop in wheat production since 2010, causing the price of wheat flour to soar by 300 percent and rice by 650 percent,” the website said.

The email went on to cite sanctions as a “principal factor” in the erosion of Syria’s health care system. Syria was once largely self-sufficient in pharmaceuticals, however medicine-producing factories that haven’t been completely destroyed by the fighting have been forced to close because of sanctions-related restrictions on raw materials and foreign currency, the outlet cited the email as saying.

In many respects, the situation resembles that in Iraq between 1990 and 2003 when UN sanctions destroyed the Iraqi economy and helped dissolve its society while doing nothing to reduce the power of Saddam Hussein as Iraqi leader. Many critics of Iraqi sanctions argue that the mass impoverishment they produced contributed significantly to the political and sectarian breakdown after the invasion of 2003.

The same process is now taking place in Syria. The EU has imposed wide-ranging prohibitions on commercial dealings and banking cooperation with Syria as well control the export of “dual use” items that might have some security application.

US sanctions are even more extensive, imposing a blanket ban on exports to Syria or financial dealings with the country. This includes foreign produced goods of which the US content is more than 10 per cent of the value of the finished item. There are supposedly means available for purely humanitarian goods to reach Syria, but in practice this is not the case.

On May 29, 2017, the EU extended its restrictive measures against the Syria until June1, 2018.

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18-month-old Palestinian dies after being injured with Nazi tear

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An 18-month old Palestinian infant died on Friday, some two months after suffering from tear gas inhalation when Nazi forces shot tear gas at Palestinian homes in the village of Abud in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said that 18-month-old Abd al-Rahman Barghouti, was transferred to Hadassah Hospital in West Jerusalem after suffering from tear gas inhalation in May, owing to the severity of his condition.

However, Wafa pointed out that “all efforts to save his life failed,” and the infant was declared dead on Friday evening.

The infant was injured after clashes broke out across the occupied West Bank on May 19 in support of some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners who were undergoing a mass hunger strike to demand better treatment and conditions in Nazi camp’s.

At the time, Nazi forces haphazardly shot tear gas at Palestinian homes, which caused many residents, including Abd al-Rahman, to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

At the same time, Nazi forces opened live ammunition on protesters, injuring several Palestinian youths in the lower part of their bodies.

According to Wafa, Nazi soldiers had prevented Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances from reaching the infant’s home to treat him, and blocked the ambulances with Nazi army jeeps, forcing Palestinian medics to rush on foot to the infant to provide first aid.

The medics were also forced to carry him back to the ambulances, which were located a 30 minute walk away from Barghouti’s house, Wafa pointed out.

Abd al-Rahman became the 36th Palestinian to be killed by Nazi forces since the start of 2017.

Nazi forces have been the target of condemnation by rights groups for their excessive use of force on Palestinians. During clashes, Nazi forces shoot large amounts of tear gas, at times directly at Palestinian homes, leading to routine injuries and the occasional death.

In 2016, Muhammad Mustafa Habash, 63, from the Asira al-Shamaliya village in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, died of tear gas inhalation during clashes that broke out with Nazi forces at Qalandiya checkpoint in Ramallah.

In 2015, when a wave of violence first erupted across illegally occupied Palestine 1948 and the 1967 illegally occupied Palestinian territory, an 8-month-old infant died of tear gas inhalation in the village of Beit Fajjar in Bethlehem.

Several days before the infant’s death, a beloved local activist in Hebron, 54-year-old Dr. Hashem al-Azzeh, also died from tear gas inhalation.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on 18-month-old Palestinian dies after being injured with Nazi tear

US, I$raHell use Nazi German BND in new allegation against Iran

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US, Israel use German BND in new allegation against Iran

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The German Intelligence Agency (BND) claims that Iran is “actively seeking products and scientific know-how” from German companies “for developing weapons of mass destruction and missile technology,” but Iranian political observer Hassan Beheshtipour dismissed the accusation as a “US-Israeli conspiracy against Iran” where BND is merely a pawn.

On Thursday, Fox News reported that German intelligence agency BND has prepared a report on Iran, warning that the Islamic Republic “is actively seeking products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well as missile technology.” For the purpose, the country is “targeting German companies through various fronts.”

The 181-page manual, the broadcaster said, was published last month and released on Tuesday by officials from the heavily industrialized southern German state of Baden-Württemberg. According to it, “in one case, Iran allegedly worked through a Chinese front company to seek ‘complex metal-producing machines’ from a German engineering firm. German intelligence officials blocked the sale when they told the engineering firm the merchandise was slated to be unlawfully routed to Iran.”

Sputnik Iran discussed the issue with Hassan Beheshtipour, Iranian political observer, an expert on nuclear issues and foreign policy contributor for PRESS TV Network, who called the accusations absurd.

“From the ideological point of view, the 181-page report could be regarded as a new attempt of the Israeli and American intelligence services and the Zionist lobby to discredit Iran with the help of Germany. It looks like a new scenario for the implementation of their schemes which they plotted back in 2001 and which they later modified into the anti-Iranian dossier on the nuclear program. However they failed,” Hassan Beheshtipour told Sputnik.

Not a single evidence has been submitted that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Moreover, the expert said, it has been proved that Iran’s nuclear research pursues purely peaceful purposes. Therefore the above services decided to concentrate their efforts on [Iran’s] missile program and allege it the capacities of the weapons of mass destruction.

Hassan Beheshtipour pointed out at a number of contradictions which reveal a frame-up.

First of all, Iran was one of the first countries to sharply condemn and oppose the spread of weapons of mass destruction. It actively cooperates with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It has also stepped up its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the various stages of control and inspection, especially after the signing of the nuclear deal. Iran strictly fulfills all the protocols with regards to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under the full control of IAEA. No doubts have been left with regards to its nuclear program. And there are no doubts that Iran makes no attempts to develop a weapon of mass destruction.

The expert also reminded that Iran’s missile program is of purely defensive, not offensive nature.

With regard to the defensive program, which also includes the missile program, it is even more transparent. Iran repeatedly reiterated that it has the right of self-defense and will neither discuss this issue with anyone nor negotiate on it.

The country’s missile program, he said, falls within the so-called conventional weapons. Iran has condemned at the highest level any production of chemical weapons. This decree of Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei has been protocoled in UN. It has been repeatedly referred to during the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. Thus Iran, apart from nuclear and chemical weapons, has no other restrictions for its defense industry.

Iran’s defense industry, which also includes the missile program, had taken center stage during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) when the regime of Saddam Hussein was bombing Iranian cities. Iran then was forced to turn to many countries with the request to supply missile weaponry to be able to defend itself. It had no missile engineering at that time. However practically no one (except for 2 countries) responded to its requests. It gave an impulse to Tehran to set up and further develop its missile engineering.

Since then Iran has reached high success in this area, it now possesses its own developments and technologies. Thus it simply does not need any know-how of German or Chinese companies, especially bypassing the sanctions, which are still partially in place.

Thus, the expert said, all the accusations of Iran, put forward in this report, are absolutely absurd. Iran is developing missiles of various ranges purely for its defensive purposes in case of an external attack. The Iranian missile program is of defensive and not of offensive character. It is a mean of containment, and not of aggression, Hassan Beheshtipour finally stated.

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Syria: The Bizarre Case of Bashar

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The Bizarre Case of Bashar: The Syrian regime’s questionable use of nerve gas in Khan Sheikhoun
Syria and the questionable use of Sarin

By Uri Avnery

Canon Doyle, the creator of the legendary Sherlock Holmes, would have titled his story about this incident “The Bizarre Case of Bashar al-Assad”.

And bizarre it is.

It concerns the evil deeds of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, who bombed his own people with Sarin, a nerve gas, causing gruesome deaths of the victims.

Like everybody else around the world, I heard about the foul deed a few hours after it happened. Like everybody else, I was shocked. And yet…

An yet, I am a professional investigative journalist. For 40 years of my life I was the editor-in-chief of an investigative weekly magazine, which exposed nearly all of Israel’s major scandals during those years. I have never lost a major libel suit, indeed I have rarely been sued at all. I am mentioning this not to boast, but to lend some authority to what I am going to say.

Where is the evidence? Who are the witnesses?

In my time I have decided to publish thousands of investigative articles, including some which concerned the most important people in Israel. Less well known is that I have also decided not to publish many hundreds of others, which I found lacked the necessary credibility.

How did I decide? Well, first of all I asked for proof. Where is the evidence? Who are the witnesses? Is there written documentation?

But there was always something which cannot be defined. Beyond witnesses and documents there is something inside the mind of an editor which tells him or her: wait, something wrong here. Something missing. Something that doesn’t rhyme.

It is a feeling. Call it an inner voice. A kind of intuition. A warning that tells you, the minute you hear about the case for the first time: Beware. Check it again and again.

This is what happened to me when I first heard that, on 4 April, Bashar al-Assad had bombed Khan Sheikhoun with nerve gas.

My inner voice whispered: wait. Something wrong. Something smells fishy.

First of all, it was too quick. Just a few hours after the event, everybody knew it was Bashar who did it.

Of course, it was Bashar! No need for proof. No need to waste time checking. Who else but Bashar?

… in this bizarre battlefield, how could anyone tell within minutes of the gas attack that it was Bashar who did it?

Well, there are plenty of other candidates. The war in Syria is not two-sided. Not even three- or four-sided. It is almost impossible to count the sides.

There is Bashar, the dictator, and his close allies: the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Party of God (Hizb-Allah) in Lebanon, both Shia. There is Russia, closely supporting. There is the US, the far-away enemy, which supports half a dozen (who is counting?) local militias. There are the Kurdish militias, And there is, of course, Daesh (or ISIS, or ISIL or IS), the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Al-Sham is the Arabic name for Greater Syria).

This is not a neat war of one coalition against another. Everybody is fighting with everybody else against everybody else. Americans and Russians with Bashar against Daesh. Americans and Kurds against Bashar and the Russians. The “rebel” militias against each other and against Bashar and Iran. And so on. (Somewhere there is Israel, too, but hush.)

So in this bizarre battlefield, how could anyone tell within minutes of the gas attack that it was Bashar who did it?

No logic, no motive

Political logic did not point that way. Lately, Bashar has been winning. He had no reason at all to do something that would embarrass his allies, especially the Russians.

The first question Sherlock Holmes would ask is: What is the motive? Who has something to gain?

Bashar had no motive at all. He could only lose by gas-bombing his citizens.

Unless, of course, he is crazy. And nothing indicates that he is. On the contrary, he seems to be in full control of his senses. Even more normal than Donald Trump.

I don’t like dictators. I don’t like Bashar al-Assad, a dictator and the son of a dictator. (Assad, by the way, means lion.) But I understand why he is there.

Until long after World War I, Lebanon was a part of the Syrian state. Both countries are a hotchpotch of sects and peoples. In Lebanon there are Christian Maronites, Melkite Greeks, Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics, Druze, Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims and diverse others. The Jews have mostly left.

That’s why Bashar continues to rule. The different sects and localities are afraid of each other. They need the dictator.

All these exist in Syria, too, with the addition of the Kurds and the Alawites, the followers of Ali, who may be Muslims or not (depends who is talking). Syria is also divided by the towns which hate each other: Damascus, the political and religious capital, and Aleppo, the economic capital, with several cities – Homs, Hama, Latakia – in between. Most of the country is desert.

After many civil wars, the two countries found two different solutions. In Lebanon, they agreed a national covenant, according to which the president is always a Maronite, the prime minister always a Sunni Muslim, the commander of the army always a Druze and the speaker of the parliament, a powerless job, always a Shia. (Until Hizballah entered the scene, the Shia were on the lowest rung of the ladder.)

In Syria, a much more violent place, they found a different solution: a kind of agreed-on dictatorship. The dictator was chosen from among one of the least powerful sects: the Alawites. (Bible-lovers will be reminded that when the Israelites chose their first king, they took Saul, a member of the smallest tribe.)

That’s why Bashar continues to rule. The different sects and localities are afraid of each other. They need the dictator.

What does Donald Trump know about these intricacies? Well, nothing.

Enter Trump, the ignoramus

He was deeply shocked by the pictures of the victims of the gas attack. Women! Children! Beautiful babies! So, he decided on the spot to punish Bashar by bombing one of his airfields.

After making the decision, he called in his generals. They feebly objected. They knew that Bashar was not involved. In spite of being enemies, the American and Russian air forces work in Syria in close cooperation (another bizarre detail) in order to avoid incidents and start World War III. So they know about every mission.The Syrian air force is part of this arrangement.

The generals seem to be the only half-way normal people around Trump, but Trump refused to listen. So they launched their missiles to destroy a Syrian airfield.

America was enthusiastic. All the important anti-Trump newspapers, led by the New York Times and the Washington Post, hastened to express their admiration for his genius.

In comes Seymour Hersh, a world-renowned investigative reporter, the man who exposed the American massacres in Vietnam and the American torture chambers in Iraq. He investigated the incident in depth and found that there is absolutely no evidence and almost no possibility that Bashar used nerve gas in Khan Sheikhoun.

“Unconscious prisoners of lies”

What happened next? Something incredible: all the renowned US newspapers, including the New York Times and The New Yorker, refused to publish. So did the prestigious London Review of Books. In the end, he found a refuge in the German Welt am Sonntag.

For me, that is the real story. One would like to believe that the world – and especially the “Western World” – is full of honest newspapers, which investigate thoroughly and publish the truth. That is not so. Sure, they probably do not consciously lie. But they are unconscious prisoners of lies.

Some weeks after the incident an Israeli radio station interviewed me on the phone. The interviewer, a right-wing journalist, asked me about Bashar’s dastardly use of gas against his own citizens. I answered that I had seen no evidence of his responsibility.

The interviewer was audibly shocked. He speedily changed the subject. But his tone of voice betrayed his thoughts: “I always knew that Avnery was a bit crazy, but now he is completely off his rocker.”

Unlike the good old Sherlock, I don’t know who did it. Perhaps Bashar, after all. I only know that there is absolutely no evidence for that.

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How like sarin is a sarin-like substance?

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nikki-haley-chemical-attack-syria-united-nations

By Tim Hayward 

The OPCW has analysed samples from Khan Sheikhoun in April containing what they have identified as ‘sarin or a sarin-like substance’. They know that much, even if they are not sure how it got there or who is responsible.

But how much actually is that? Throughout the OPCW report we find the cumbersome expression sarin or a sarin-like substance. Why not just sarin, pure and simple?

All a non-chemist like me can understand from this is that we are dealing with some nasty stuff, but there is no definite confirmation it is sarin pure and simple. Of course, a non-chemist also has no idea how impure a sample or how different a molecule would need to be to count as merely of a substance like sarin; nor would we know how much more impure or different it could be before becoming unlike sarin. So we non-chemists could easily be bamboozled in these matters.

One thing we do know is that the sarin the Syrian government produced and gave up for destruction in 2013 was referred to by all concerned as sarin, pure and simple. To produce sarin with military grade purity is not easy. To produce improvised versions, however, is within the capacity of insurgents in Syria.

Given that there are already open questions about motive, means and opportunity, as I indicated in my previous blog, then if there is doubt about even the weapon as well, the case for blaming Assad looks decidedly uncertain. In fact, regarding the weapon, as I mentioned in the blog before last, the OPCW could not ascertain the method of delivery or therefore the ‘hardware’ used. So it becomes crucial for those who would prosecute a case against Assad to say that the chemical was one the opposition could not have had access to.  So crucial has it become that the UK’s Ambassador Adams has said it: ‘There is no evidence to suggest that any party to the conflict in Syria, other than the Syrian Government, has access to a complex nerve agent such as sarin.’

Still, just saying it does not make it true if the report you are relying on does not say it is true. And – it bears repeating – the OPCW does not say anything that clearly rules out the possibility of opposition responsibility for the incident.

It bears repeating because to accept the unsubstantiated claim as a pretext for sending more bombs, death and destruction against the people of Syria would be a heinous act. Anybody who pronounces on the matter without striving to be scrupulously honest and clear about what they are saying will be complicit in that act.

 

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MSF paramedic, civilian first responders killed in Saudi double-tap airstrike in Yemen

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Almost two dozen people, including civilian rescuers and an ambulance driver from an MSF-affiliated hospital, have reportedly been killed after Saudi-led coalition planes carried out repeated airstrikes on the same target in Sa’ada province, Yemen.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) confirmed the fatal air raids in Sa’ada, saying the “planes went back to bomb areas already hit.”

“An ambulance driver from an MSF hospital [was] killed,” the NGO wrote, explaining that the first responders at the scene had been trying to help those wounded in the first round of strikes.

The ambulance had just picked up the victims when a direct strike killed everyone inside it, said the director of the Jumhuriya Hospital in Sa’ada province, according to the New York Times.

Yemen’s Health Ministry has strongly condemned the coalition’s actions as a “heinous massacre” that first targeted a residential building in Sa’ada, Saba news agency reports, citing ministry spokesperson Dr. Nashwan Attab.

According to reports, at least 20 people were killed and another 35 wounded, in what the medics claim was a deliberate attack. Following the initial air raid in the Dhahyan district of Sa’ada, first responders rushed to the scene to care for the wounded. But the planes soon returned to strike again in an attempt to “completely eliminate the few remaining medical staff in the province,” Dr. Attab said.

WARNING! DISTURBING VIDEO, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

“There are still people under the rubble and it is difficult to get them as a result of targeting by Saudi aggression of paramedics and medical personnel in the region,” he added.

Earlier this week, MSF said that the Saudi coalition continues to engage civilian targets on the ground, in particular medical treatment facilities, noting that over 100 hospitals have witnessed attacks since the Saudi-led intervention began last March.

The constant bombing of health clinics in Yemen has created conditions in which locals fear for their lives and try to avoid hospitals at all costs, MSF said. The United Nations has criticized the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen for the disproportionate number of civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure.

The UN estimates that the violence has resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian casualties, with more than 5,800 people killed in Yemen since March.

READ MORE:

Yemeni hospitals seen as targets, people ‘avoid them as much as possible’ – MSF

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Multi-polar World Arrives: Russia, China Face Down US Bully

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By Finian CUNNINGHAM 

The United States’ hegemonic dominance in the world is heading to the exits. The decline in US uni-polar power has been underway for several years, in line with the emergence of a multi-polar world. This week, Russia and China showed important resolve to face down American bully tactics over North Korea. The confrontation suggests a turning point in the transition from American world dominance to a multi-polar one.

US President Donald Trump reiterated the possibility of military attack on North Korea while in Poland this week. This was also while Washington was hectoring China and Russia to join in a tougher response to North Korea over its ballistic missile launch days before – the former two nations themselves having recently been sanctioned anew by the US. Talk about American audacity and double think.

However, the crass arrogance shown by the US seems to have hit a new limit of tolerance in Moscow and Beijing. Both are beginning to demonstrate a loss of patience with the bumptious, insufferable Americans.

Reacting to North Korea’s breakthrough ballistic missile launch, Washington deployed its typical conceit, casually threatening to carry out a «retaliatory» military strike. Trump said he was considering «severe» options over Pyongyang’s «very, very dangerous behavior».

But Russia and China’s stance this time to the Americans had significantly stiffened. Both explicitly warned the US against taking military action against North Korea.

Moreover, Russia and China said that they would oppose Washington imposing further sanctions on the government of Kim Jong-un. The latter has already been subjected to six rounds of US-led sanctions.

In short, the American bully is finding that it is no longer able to dictate its unilateral way.

Addressing an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, the Russian and Chinese ambassadors rejected the shrill American call for «global action to a global threat». Russian envoy Vladimir Safronkov stood firmly with his Chinese counterpart, saying that threatened American military action was simply not an option, and that a different policy was needed from the failed American one of slapping ever-more sanctions on North Korea.

One can imagine the exasperation felt within Washington of being bluntly told «no» to its invariable, self-anointed belligerence.

The alternative route being proposed by Russia and China was the «radical» one – radical from the American point of view – of diplomacy. It has perhaps taken the Russians and Chinese overdue time to reach this point. But what is remarkably apparent now is that they are asserting themselves against the US with increased confidence. And what they are asserting in this case is an eminently reasonable solution to the Korean crisis. They are calling for a freeze on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program in conjunction with the US freezing its constant military exercises on the peninsula, as well as withdrawing its anti-missile THAAD system. The next step is to then hold multilateral negotiations for a comprehensive peaceful settlement, without preconditions.

Such an eminently reasonable approach is anathema to the Americans. Because it negates their unilateral arrogance and self-righteousness to dictate terms.

This is a significant development, one that portends a new determination by Russia and China to confront the American bully head-on. For too long, Washington has gotten away with outrageous aggression, lawlessness, hypocrisy and absurd hubris, not just over Korea but on countless other international issues. On the world stage it behaves like a schoolyard bully, or perhaps more accurately that should be a street thug. Going around beating up other people, usually the weak, as it likes. Then when Washington feels particularly affronted about some perceived slight, it invokes international law and righteousness.

This week, what we saw over the North Korea missile launch and the typical American over-reaction was Russia and China saying to Washington: your days of self-licensing aggression and abusing international law are over; your American uni-polar hegemony is redundant.

Welcome to the multi-polar world forged largely by Russia and China where all nations must abide by international norms and law, principally the paramount pursuit of diplomacy.

Oh the shock to American arrogance to receive such a rude awakening.

The lawlessness of American «exceptionalism» is a theme that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been constantly hammering over the past decade. But it seems now that Russia and China are strong enough politically, economically and militarily to begin asserting and acting on the conviction that the days of American arrogance and lawlessness are indeed over. It is no coincidence that the firm Russian-Chinese opposition to American aggression over North Korea came at the same time that Putin was hosting his counterpart President Xi Jinping in Moscow, where both leaders hailed an even deeper Sino-Russian strategic alliance.

Moscow and Beijing censured North Korea over its 11th missile launch so far this year. They said it violated UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang since it first exploded a nuclear warhead in 2006. Still, they sought to put a proper perspective on the event, rather than reflexively demonizing North Korea as the Americans never cease to do.

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched this week by North Korea was not armed with a warhead but Pyongyang said it now has the capability to do so and to strike anywhere on the globe. The trajectory of the ICBM indicates that North Korea could now hit the US state of Alaska. That heralds a major breakthrough in North Korea’s military capability. Earlier this year, President Trump claimed that North Korea would never be allowed to reach that point. Well, it just did this week.

Nevertheless, Russia and China realize that the Korean crisis is a complex issue, not the simplistic narrative put out by Washington about a «rogue regime» threatening world peace. Moscow and Beijing are well aware that Washington is very much part of the problem, with its relentless military exercises and provocative threats to North Korea’s sovereignty.

Russia and China understand that the only reasonable solution is not reckless escalation, but a negotiated engagement by all sides, including North Korea, South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia. Past multilateral negotiations have come unstuck largely because of Washington’s high-handed imperious attitude. Winding down conflict on the Korean Peninsula necessitates the winding down of military forces by all sides, and a primary responsibility for that lies with the US, the external protagonist in the region.

As the Russia-China strategic alliance grows ever stronger heralding a «post-West» world order, as Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov put it, one which was dominated by American capitalism, the US petrodollar and its military machine, it seems unmistakable that both Russia and China have reached a practical limit of tolerance to Washington’s lawless arrogance.

In recent weeks, Washington has slapped more sanctions on both Russia and China, conducted provocative military incursions into their territorial domains, and continued to disparage them with media distortions. Washington possesses thousands of ICBMs, test-fires them all the time, and installs missile systems around Russian and Chinese territory. Washington has waged or covertly sponsored criminal wars across the Middle East over the past two decades, resulting in millions of innocent deaths and spawning of terror groups.

North Korea has attacked no-one, has an arsenal of perhaps 10 nuclear weapons and conducts its missile tests far from any of its neighbor’s territory.

Yet the lawless, mass-murdering Americans – the only nation to have actually dropped nuclear weapons on civilian populations – have the audacity to declare North Korea a threat to world peace and insist on the «right» to preemptively attack Pyongyang. And if Russia and China do not acquiesce to this American demand then Washington threatens to increase more sanctions on them.

The American bully is patently beyond itself from its own megalomanic despotism. But the big, crucial difference now is that Russia and China are moving to finally put this bully in its place. The multi-polar world has arrived. And the only «radical» thing that Russia and China are insisting on is that the US behaves like everyone else and abides by international law. That basic requirement is an indication of how lawless the Americans are.

Addressing bused-in supporters in Poland’s Warsaw Square this week, Trump declared with bravado that «the West [that is, the US] will never back down».

Well, we’ll see about that. As noted, the multi-polar world has arrived and America is being compelled to back down by an ascendant Russia and China who also happen to have world opinion on their side.

Posted in USA, China, RussiaComments Off on Multi-polar World Arrives: Russia, China Face Down US Bully

Putin & Trump agree to create bilateral channel to promote Ukraine settlement – Lavrov

NOVANEWS

Image result for Ukraine CARTOON

A special channel between the Russian and American presidents will be established to further push for a settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov has announced following the Putin-Trump meeting.

Additional efforts will be made “to support” the Minsk peace agreements and the work of the existing contact group on Ukraine, Russia’s chief diplomat said.

“While discussing Ukraine, the American side informed us that they had appointed a special representative to assist the efforts on settling the Ukrainian crisis.

“Arrangements have been made to create a channel between presidents of Russia and US to use this opportunity that Washington has, to further advance the settlement based on the Minsk agreements and considering the potential established in the contact group and the Normandy format,” Lavrov told reporters during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Moscow hopes to soon meet the US representative “for consultations,” he added.

Saying that “everyone is interested” in fulfillment of the Minsk agreements, to which Kiev “is the main part,” Lavrov said Moscow “senses that its Western partners very much understand the necessity of additional influence” on the peace process which so far has been delayed.

Citing his “long” talks with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier in the day, as well as a Thursday meeting with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, Lavrov said everyone agrees the crisis needs to be settled within the framework of the Minsk agreements.

“I have a feeling that it has been confirmed that both the Russian and American presidents are driven by their national interests, which they see primarily in looking for mutually beneficial agreements rather than by trying to play out some confrontational scenarios.”

Lavrov added that the Ukrainian issue had been discussed “in a concrete, businesslike” manner.

Posted in USA, Russia, UkraineComments Off on Putin & Trump agree to create bilateral channel to promote Ukraine settlement – Lavrov


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