Archive | October 3rd, 2017

The End of Empire


The American empire is coming to an end. The U.S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U.S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.

The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine.

Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,” by “a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg” that will “forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.”

Under every measurement, from financial growth and infrastructure investment to advanced technology, including supercomputers, space weaponry and cyberwarfare, we are being rapidly overtaken by the Chinese.

“In April 2015 the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested that the American economy would grow by nearly 50 percent over the next 15 years, while China’s would triple and come close to surpassing America’s in 2030,” McCoy noted.

China became the world’s second largest economy in 2010, the same year it became the world’s leading manufacturing nation, pushing aside a United States that had dominated the world’s manufacturing for a century. The Department of Defense issued a sober report titled “At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World.” It found that the U.S. military “no longer enjoys an unassailable position versus state competitors,” and “it no longer can … automatically generate consistent and sustained local military superiority at range.” McCoy predicts the collapse will come by 2030.

Empires in decay embrace an almost willful suicide. Blinded by their hubris and unable to face the reality of their diminishing power, they retreat into a fantasy world where hard and unpleasant facts no longer intrude. They replace diplomacy, multilateralism and politics with unilateral threats and the blunt instrument of war.

This collective self-delusion saw the United States make the greatest strategic blunder in its history, one that sounded the death knell of the empire—the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The architects of the war in the George W. Bush White House, and the array of useful idiots in the press and academia who were cheerleaders for it, knew very little about the countries being invaded, were stunningly naive about the effects of industrial warfare and were blindsided by the ferocious blowback. They stated, and probably believed, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, although they had no valid evidence to support this claim. They insisted that democracy would be implanted in Baghdad and spread across the Middle East. They assured the public that U.S. troops would be greeted by grateful Iraqis and Afghans as liberators. They promised that oil revenues would cover the cost of reconstruction. They insisted that the bold and quick military strike—“shock and awe”—would restore American hegemony in the region and dominance in the world. It did the opposite. As Zbigniew Brzezinski noted, this “unilateral war of choice against Iraq precipitated a widespread delegitimation of U.S. foreign policy.”

Historians of empire call these military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, examples of “micro-militarism.” The Athenians engaged in micro-militarism when during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) they invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers and triggering revolts throughout the empire. Britain did so in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal and then quickly had to withdraw in humiliation, empowering a string of Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and dooming British rule over the nation’s few remaining colonies. Neither of these empires recovered.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” McCoy writes. “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micromilitary operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

Empires need more than force to dominate other nations. They need a mystique. This mystique—a mask for imperial plunder, repression and exploitation—seduces some native elites, who become willing to do the bidding of the imperial power or at least remain passive. And it provides a patina of civility and even nobility to justify to those at home the costs in blood and money needed to maintain empire. The parliamentary system of government that Britain replicated in appearance in the colonies, and the introduction of British sports such as polo, cricket and horse racing, along with elaborately uniformed viceroys and the pageantry of royalty, were buttressed by what the colonialists said was the invincibility of their navy and army. England was able to hold its empire together from 1815 to 1914 before being forced into a steady retreat. America’s high-blown rhetoric about democracy, liberty and equality, along with basketball, baseball and Hollywood, as well as our own deification of the military, entranced and cowed much of the globe in the wake of World War II. Behind the scenes, of course, the CIA used its bag of dirty tricks to orchestrate coups, fix elections and carry out assassinations, black propaganda campaigns, bribery, blackmail, intimidation and torture. But none of this works anymore.

The loss of the mystique is crippling. It makes it hard to find pliant surrogates to administer the empire, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photographs of physical abuse and sexual humiliation imposed on Arab prisoners at Abu Ghraib inflamed the Muslim world and fed al-Qaida and later Islamic State with new recruits. The assassination of Osama bin Laden and a host of other jihadist leaders, including the U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, openly mocked the concept of the rule of law. The hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees fleeing our debacles in the Middle East, along with the near-constant threat from militarized aerial drones, exposed us as state terrorists. We have exercised in the Middle East the U.S. military’s penchant for widespread atrocities, indiscriminate violence, lies and blundering miscalculations, actions that led to our defeat in Vietnam.

The brutality abroad is matched by a growing brutality at home. Militarized police gun down mostly unarmed, poor people of color and fill a system of penitentiaries and jails that hold a staggering 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although Americans represent only 5 percent of global population. Many of our cities are in ruins. Our public transportation system is a shambles. Our educational system is in steep decline and being privatized. Opioid addiction, suicide, mass shootings, depression and morbid obesity plague a population that has fallen into profound despair. The deep disillusionment and anger that led to Donald Trump’s election—a reaction to the corporate coup d’état and the poverty afflicting at least half of the country—have destroyed the myth of a functioning democracy. Presidential tweets and rhetoric celebrate hate, racism and bigotry and taunt the weak and the vulnerable. The president in an address before the United Nations threatened to obliterate another nation in an act of genocide. We are worldwide objects of ridicule and hatred. The foreboding for the future is expressed in the rash of dystopian films, motion pictures that no longer perpetuate American virtue and exceptionalism or the myth of human progress.

“The demise of the United States as the preeminent global power could come far more quickly than anyone imagines,” McCoy writes. “Despite the aura of omnipotence empires often project, most are surprisingly fragile, lacking the inherent strength of even a modest nation-state. Indeed, a glance at their history should remind us that the greatest of them are susceptible to collapse from diverse causes, with fiscal pressures usually a prime factor. For the better part of two centuries, the security and prosperity of the homeland has been the main objective for most stable states, making foreign or imperial adventures an expendable option, usually allocated no more than 5 percent of the domestic budget. Without the financing that arises almost organically inside a sovereign nation, empires are famously predatory in their relentless hunt for plunder or profit—witness the Atlantic slave trade, Belgium’s rubber lust in the Congo, British India’s opium commerce, the Third Reich’s rape of Europe, or the Soviet exploitation of Eastern Europe.”

When revenues shrink or collapse, McCoy points out, “empires become brittle.”

“So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly wrong, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, eleven years for the Ottomans, seventeen for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, just twenty-seven years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003 [when the U.S. invaded Iraq],” he writes.

Many of the estimated 69 empires that have existed throughout history lacked competent leadership in their decline, having ceded power to monstrosities such as the Roman emperors Caligula and Nero. In the United States, the reins of authority may be in the grasp of the first in a line of depraved demagogues.

“For the majority of Americans, the 2020s will likely be remembered as a demoralizing decade of rising prices, stagnant wages, and fading international competitiveness,” McCoy writes.

The loss of the dollar as the global reserve currency will see the U.S. unable to pay for its huge deficits by selling Treasury bonds, which will be drastically devalued at that point. There will be a massive rise in the cost of imports. Unemployment will explode. Domestic clashes over what McCoy calls “insubstantial issues” will fuel a dangerous hypernationalism that could morph into an American fascism.

A discredited elite, suspicious and even paranoid in an age of decline, will see enemies everywhere. The array of instruments created for global dominance—wholesale surveillance, the evisceration of civil liberties, sophisticated torture techniques, militarized police, the massive prison system, the thousands of militarized drones and satellites—will be employed in the homeland. The empire will collapse and the nation will consume itself within our lifetimes if we do not wrest power from those who rule the corporate state.

Featured image is from Mr. Fish.

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Puerto Rico: A Public Health Catastrophe



Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke deplorably called the federal response to crisis conditions in Puerto Rico a “good news story,” adding she’s “very satisfied.”

San Juan Mayor Yulin Cruz emotionally responded, saying

“(w)ell, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good-news story.”

“When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good-news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good-news story.”

“When you have to pull people down from their buildings – I’m sorry, but that really upsets and frustrates me.”

“I would ask her to come down here and visit the towns and then make a statement like that, which frankly is an irresponsible statement and contrast with the statements of support that I have been getting since yesterday when I got that call from the White House.”

Cruz continued adding

“(d)ammit, this is not a good-news story. This is a people-are-dying story. This is a life-or-death story.”

“This is ‘there’s a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people’ story. This is a story of devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food or water.”

“If I could scream it a lot more louder: It is not a good-news story when people are dying when they don’t have dialysis, when their generators aren’t working and their oxygen isn’t providing for them.”

“Where is there good news here? The good news is we’re getting heard. For heaven’s sake, somebody let them do their job. Let them get the food and water into the hands of people, and then we can talk about good news.”

Washington knows what to do.

“For heaven’s sake,” start doing it, Cruz stressed. “(W)hen you have people dying literally, scraping for food, where is the good news?”

Thousands remain in temporary shelters, many others stranded in the wreckage of their residences. Around 80% of Puerto Rican agriculture was destroyed. Nearly all power transmission lines were knocked out, over 95% of the island still without power, continuing for many months in isolated areas.

Around half the population has no access to drinking water. Hospitals can’t function normally, struggling to keep seriously ill patients alive. Many thousands of jobs were lost for impoverished islanders, many working in agriculture.

According to Agricultural Economics Professor Jayson Harper, Hurricane Maria destroyed high value crops. Some will take years to replace, he explained.

The coffee industry was hit at the worst time, just before beans are harvested, the crop largely destroyed.

Supplies delivered to ports are stuck in docks for lack of transportation. Nearly two weeks ago, the strongest hurricane in nearly 90 years devastated the Island, creating crisis conditions for its 3.4 million residents.

On Monday, Florida International University Dean Tomas Guilarte said conditions in Puerto Rico continue deteriorating. A public health catastrophe looms.

“When the sewer system stops working, wastewater – aka human feces and urine – and seaborne bacteria contaminate the water supply.”

“This leads to bacterial infections – such as cholera, dysentery, E. coli and typhoid – that can be disastrous. The typical treatments, like tetanus shots or powerful antibiotics, are not readily available on the island, where medical supplies are quickly running out.”

According to FEMA, 58 of the island’s 69 hospitals have no power or fuel for generators. Only one is operating normally. Water can’t be boiled to kill bacteria. Some toxins become concentrated by the boiling process.

It kills harmful organisms, not toxic chemicals, compounds, salts, and heavy metals. Disease-causing pathogens contaminated areas affected by floodwaters.

Toxicity seeping from Puerto Rico’s Battery Recycling Company in the Arecibo coastal area alone “could be off the charts,” said Guilarte.

Immediate congressional action is vital, appropriating enough funds for food, medical supplies and medicines, along with other essentials to life.

Most islanders are impoverished. Residents evacuated by government aircraft and other means of transportation have to sign promissory notes to repay the cost, a disgraceful situation.

Public health and welfare are essential human rights. Trump disgracefully lied, tweeting

“(w)e have done a great job with the impossible situation in Puerto Rico.”

Islanders are suffering under devastating conditions. The Trump administration failed to go all-out to help.

It serves privileged Americans exclusively, disdainful of others – notably millions of Puerto Ricans, Floridians and Texans devastated by hurricane damage, largely on their own to cope.

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Syrian Army Repels Major ISIS Advance, Launches Counter-attack ‘Video’


Syrian government forces, led by the 800th Commandos Battalion of the Republican Guard, repelled ISIS attempts to capture al-Sukhnah town and re-taken Al-Taybah village and Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi Castle near it.

The ISIS advance on the pumping station also resulted in a failure. With this al-Shula and Bir Ghabaghib remained they key areas where ISIS achieved some success. Clashes are ongoing there.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are working to restore security in al-Qaryatayn town that has been at least partly captured by ISIS sleeper cells. Government forces have encircled the town and all sort of communications inside it are jammed. This explains a lack of photos and videos from the area. ISIS supporters inside al-Qarytayn have almost no heavy weapons and equipment. So, the key SAA problem is to conduct an operation avoiding major civilian casualties.

Inside the ISIS-held pocket east of Salamiyah, government forces captured Rasm Abaykah, Rasm Abd and Soha and continued advancing on Akash. The army is seeking to establish control over the road separating the northern and southern parts of the pocket.

Separately, the SAA pushed towards the ISIS-held town of Mayadin in the Euphrates Valley. Government forces advanced about 10km and outflanked Muhassan where clashes erupted. The goal of the  advance is put additional pressure on ISIS and to force it to redeploy forces from the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor highway area to the Euphrates Valley. If ISIS avoids dong this, government troops would threaten to capture this key ISIS-held stronghold.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) used the fierce fighting between the SAA and ISIS to develop momentum on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and seized the Jafra oil field and nearby processing facilities.

SDF units also engaged ISIS units south of the recently captured al-Suwar village northeast of Deir Ezzor as well as captured Kubar village and advanced on Harmushiyah village northwest of Deir Ezzor.

In Raqqah city, the SDF further advanced against ISIS but no major breakthrough in the military situation in the area was reported.

On October 1, Omid Kabar an SDF commander said at a funeral for SDF fighters killed in Raqqa city that the SDF will not handover al-Tabqah town or any other area to the Syrian government. He also claimed that over 300 SAA soldiers defected to the SDF during the “last period”. However, Kabar did reveal no details or proofs.

Kabar’s statement reflects the SDF public policy aimed to show the difference between US-backed forces and the so-called Assad regime. However, behind the scene the SDF is pushed to cooperate with the government closely to manage the economy of the SDF-held area.

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Palestinians React to Opening of First US Military Base in I$raHell

Palestinians React to Opening of First US Military Base in Israel

The United States and Israel announced Sept. 18 the establishment of the first permanent US-Israeli military base in the Negev desert, in southern Israel.

Despite the long-term military cooperation between the United States and Israel, the establishment of the first US military base inside Israeli territory takes military cooperation with Israel to a whole new level, with US troops present in anticipation of any possible future offensive against Israel.

Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the head of the Israeli army’s Aerial Defense Command, told Israeli media outlets at the inauguration of the base that this is the first base to be established in Israel with their US friends. “An American flag is flying over the US army base,” he said, adding that this step is not a direct response to any specific incident, but comes in light of the “lessons learned” in the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip and intelligence analysis of future dangers. “We have many enemies around us, near and far,” he noted.

Mohammed Abu Allan, a West Bank-based journalist who covers Israeli affairs, believes the US-Israeli military base is an additional indicator of the importance of the strategic military cooperation between the Americans and the Israelis, which has been materialized with the completion on Aug. 27 of a deal signed in November 2016 to purchase 17 F-35 fighters.

He told Al-Monitor,

“According to the Israeli media, this military base is established in light of attempts by Hamas and Hezbollah to obtain high-precision rockets. The objective of this step is to allow Israel to intercept long-range missiles in its next potential war with Hezbollah and Hamas and their main ally Iran.”

Abu Allan said his argument that the joint military base was established in the Negev desert within the scope of a war with Iran and its allies is corroborated by recent Israeli statements.

“In his recent speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Sept. 8, [former] Israel Defense Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan said Israel cannot handle Iran alone. Golan’s statements provoked controversy in Israel,” he said.

He also noted that the Iranian presence in Syria is one of the top security and political priorities of Israel, pointing out that the US military presence in Israel may have to do with Tel Aviv’s will to counter the increasing Russian military presence in Syria.

Abu Allan indicated that only dozens of US soldiers operate the missile defense at the US base in the Negev, which means that in any expected wars, Israel will be relying mainly on technological development rather than on human resources.

Islam Moussa, an expert in military affairs and a researcher at the Palestinian National Security Research Department of the PLO Planning Center, told Al-Monitor,

“The announcement of the launch of the US-Israeli missile defense military base by the head of the Israeli army’s Aerial Defense Command confirms that this step complements and crowns years of military cooperation between the two sides, especially in the field of air defense. This is particularly true after the significant progress achieved by Israel in the short-range rocket defense systems such as the Iron Dome that Tel Aviv boasts about.”

He said,

“All this pushed the United States to invest in these defense systems, in particular since the US military industries lack a short-range rocket defense system given the great distance between it and its closest enemies across the borders. However, the United States has recently felt the need to protect its military bases in hot spots that may be targeted by short-range rockets.”

Moussa added,

“The United States decided to invest about $235 million in this system following reports by Israeli media that the Iron Dome is the best to intercept and destroy short-range rockets, artillery shells and mortars. This also comes after the Iron Dome performance in Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014.”

Moussa also pointed to the US-Israeli collaboration on the David’s Sling missile system, also known as the Magic Wand, which was launched by Israel in April. He explained,

“This system was jointly developed by Israeli arms maker Rafael and American missile giant Raytheon and aims to intercept missiles with a range of not more than 1,000 kilometers [621 miles], such as the Syrian-made M-600 and Iranian-made Fateh-110 ballistic missiles.”

On another note, Moussa pointed out that this step occurred after the end of US President Barack Obama’s term during which US-Israeli relations were not at their best, since Obama sought to achieve a breakthrough in the peace process between Palestine and Israel but faced Israel’s intransigent position.

However, he said that under Obama, US-Israeli military industries were not affected and both sides maintained full cooperation in this field.

“The continued cooperation in terms of military industries between the United States and Israelis under Obama was not reflected in the political scene under Obama,” he said.

He added,

“After [Donald] Trump’s victory, the US-Israeli political relationship got more intimate and the launch of the first US military base in Israel may be the perfect proof. But the timing of this announcement may also be interpreted in light of the Russian expansion in the region.”

It seems that the new era of US-Israeli military cooperation may be an official and direct declaration that the two sides have upgraded their relationship from support to alliance.

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When Did Congress Vote to Aid the Saudi’s Yemen War?


Lawmakers use War Powers Act to finally question legality of U.S. involvement.

The bill introduced by a bipartisan group of House members last week to end the direct U.S. military role in the Saudi coalition war in Yemen guarantees that the House of Representatives will vote for the first time on the single most important element of U.S. involvement in the war—the refueling of Saudi coalition planes systematically bombing Yemeni civilian targets.

In doing so, moreover, the bipartisan bill, H. Con. Res. 81, will provide a major test of Congressional will to uphold the War Powers Act of 1973, which reasserted a Congressional role in restraining presidential power to enter into wars without its approval in the wake of the Vietnam War debacle.

Since the Obama administration gave the green light to the Saudi war of destruction in Yemen in March 2015, it has been widely recognized by both Congress and the news media that U.S. military personnel have been supplying the bombs used by Saudi coalition planes. But what has seldom been openly discussed is that the U.S. Air Force has been providing the mid-air refueling for every Saudi coalition bombing sortie in Yemen, without which the war would quickly grind to a halt.

The Obama administration, and especially the Pentagon and the U.S. military, became nervous about public statements about that direct U.S. military role in the Saudi war after some legal experts began to raise the issue internally of potential U.S. legal responsibility for apparent war crimes in Yemen. Refueling Saudi coalition bombing missions “not only makes the U.S. a party to the Yemen conflict, but could also lead to U.S. personnel being found complicit in coalition war crimes,” Kristine Beckerle, Yemen and UAE researcher at Human Rights Watch, has observed.

The political sensitivity of that direct and vital U.S. military role in the Saudi coalition airstrikes was so great in the last year of the Obama administration that U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, in an interview with a New Zealand journalist twice declared, deceptively,

“We are not involved in carrying out airstrikes in Yemen.”

The bill introduced by Democratic Representatives Ro Khanna of California and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and Republican Representatives Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Walter Jones of North Carolina, calls for Congress to “direct” the president to “remove” U.S. military personnel from their role in the Saudi air war against the forces of the Houthi-Saleh alliance in Yemen. It would give the President 30 days in which to end the U.S. military role in support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen unless and until Congress has enacted either a declaration of war or an authorization of those activities.

The co-sponsors believe members will support it because U.S. direct involvement in the Saudi war of destruction in Yemen has enmeshed the United States in the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis in many years. Some 542,000 Yemenis, already weakened by starvation, have now succumbed to a cholera epidemic that is far worse than any in the world for the past fifty years, as the New York Times reported in August.

The starvation and cholera epidemic are the consequences of a multi-faceted strategy aimed at creating such civilian suffering as to finally break the resistance of the Houthi-Saleh forces. The Saudi strategy has included:

  • Targeting of hospitals, markets and agricultural infrastructure.
  • Destruction of cranes necessary to offload any large-scale humanitarian assistance at the main port of Hodeida and refusal to replace them with new cranes.
  • A naval blockade that has strictly limited shipping of food, fuel and other necessities to Hodeida port.
  • Closing down the civilian airport to prevent delivery of humanitarian aid.
  • Destruction of roads and bridges necessary for delivery of humanitarian aid.
  • Closing down the Central Bank of Yemen – the only institution in Yemen that was providing liquidity to millions of Yemenis.

Another selling point for H. Con Res. 81 is that it is based explicitly on the language of the War Powers Act of 1973, passed by a two-thirds majority in the House overriding a veto by President Richard M. NixonThe War Powers Act includes a provision that,

“[A]t any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.”

The proposed bill argues that the direct U.S. military involvement in the Saudi Yemen war has never been authorized by Congress, and that the provision in the wars powers act is therefore applicable. It specifically exempts U.S. forces operating in Yemen against al Qaeda, which were authorized under the 2001 Authorization for Military Force (AUMF) and which have not generated critical public and Congressional reactions.

Con. Res. 81 applies a provision of the War Powers Act to ensure that opponents in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the majority leadership won’t be able to keep it bottled up without a vote. The War Powers Act puts any proposed Congressional resolution for action regarding an unauthorized use of force on a fast track for an early floor vote, making it a “priority resolution.” Once the measure is referred to the House or Senate foreign affairs committee, the War Powers Act requires that the committee report out a resolution within fifteen days, and that the resolution must then come to a vote within three days.

Aides say the co-sponsors will present the measure as a response to a policy initiated and carried out for nearly two years by the Obama administration.They say a number of Republican offices are now seriously considering co-sponsorship of H. Con. Res. 81.

In addition to the humanitarian disaster and war powers issues linked to the direct U.S. military role in Saudi airstrikes, the co-sponsors will be pointing to multiple ways the U.S. role in the war makes the American people less secure, according to Congressional aides. One of the effects of the war has been to enormously strengthen the position of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), considered the biggest single foreign threat to carry out terrorist actions against the United States after two failed efforts in recent years. Saudi-backed Yemeni forces have been fighting alongside AQAP against the Houthis-Saleh forces. And the war has given AQAP much greater territorial control, political legitimacy and access to money and arms than it ever had before.

Yet another argument is the longer-term hatred of the United States that the U.S. direct involvement in the Saudi bombing campaign and starvation strategy is creating. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told CNN’s Jake Tapper in June 2016,

“If you talk to Yemenis, they will tell you, this is not perceived to be a Saudi bombing campaign. This is perceived to be a U.S. bombing campaign. What’s happening is that we are helping to radicalize the Yemeni population against the United States.”

Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, has been meeting with Republican House members to urge them to support the bill.

“The war being waged in Saudi Arabia with U.S. assistance is brutal and vicious, and it is a losing one for both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia but a boon for AQAP,” Wilkerson said in an interview with TAC. “It should cease immediately.”

But sponsors and advocates of H. Con. Res. 81 may have to refute arguments about Iran that the Saudis and the Obama administration have used to justify the Saudi war in Yemen. Wilkerson noted Republican members who cited Iran’s alleged role in the Houthi war effort and the common U.S.-Saudi opposition to it.

“They argue that the Saudis are doing our work for us, so we’ve got to hold our nose and support them,” said Wilkerson.

But that argument reflects a false narrative created by the Obama administration that Iran has been arming the Houthis for years. Administration officials used a UN panel obviously set up at Washington’s behest to recycle old and demonstrably fabricated claims of Iranian arms shipments to the Houthis. The Houthis have undoubtedly obtained missiles and other weapons from Iran, but the UN panel of experts on Yemen reported in January 2017 that it did not have sufficient evidence to “confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms” from Iran to the Houthis.   

More importantly, the modest military assistance from Iran came in response to the Saudi coalition air assault on Yemen—not the other way around. And contrary to the official Pentagon myth of a “proxy war” against Iran in Yemen, the Houthis are fighting the Saudis for Yemeni interests—not to serve Iranian interests.

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Cataluña Libre?


Yesterday’s historic vote – the Referendum decided by the Government of Cataluña, called illegal by the neoliberal Rajoy Government of Madrid – turned into an event of abject police violence against masses of unarmed voters. The Referendum may have been illicit according to the Spanish Constitution, but voting in a referendum as an expression of opinion is a human right, regardless of whether the central government of Madrid would or would not accept the result of the vote.

In the early Monday morning hours, the Catalan Government issued statements saying that about 2.3 million Catalans, 42.3% out 5.3 million eligible voters, casted with 90% a ‘yes’ ballot for Independence. Without the violent interference of the national police and civil guard, the Catalan Government estimated that at least 80% of eligible voters would have cast their ballot.

Clearly, the Spanish Government’s demonstration of ruthless and brute force was and is a reminder that in Europa fascism is alive and well, that Generalissimo Franco in Spain is not dead. Brussels, miserable, spineless puppets to the transatlantic empire and the European oligarchy, remained shamefully silent – arguing it was a Spanish internal affair, as if Spain, a full member of the EU wasn’t a European Union’s ‘internal affair’.

At the end of the day of the Referendum, 1 October, President Rajoy had the audacity to declare literally that there was no referendum taking place in Cataluña. He congratulated and thanked the Spanish police to protect law and order in Barcelona and elsewhere in Cataluña and to uphold the Spanish Constitution. Yet, the media showed and reported all-day long violent police battles against peaceful voters. The forceful, riot-clad Spanish police smashed windows and broke into schools where voting boots were located, attempting to prevent voter from voting; they also removed and destroyed ballot boxes.

At the end of the day nearly 1,000 people – 844 officially – were injured by national police force, extreme violence, by utterly harmful and potentially deadly rubber bullets and batons smashing indiscriminately into nonviolent unarmed voters, including elderly people, women and children. There were hundreds of thousands of people, families who came with kids to this historic event, some camping since Friday in the schools to make sure that their right to vote was protected.

Since the Catalan police decided a hands-off policy, not to interfere with the referendum, but rather to protect the voters from possible violence, the fascist Rajoy Government sent in police and the civil guard from other parts of Spain to prevent the vote to take place. Their brutal and excessive violence against unarmed voters was shocking. They clearly had firm instructions for their brutality from their masters in Madrid – the very masters that congratulated them for carrying out their duties. It was a horrible sight to see.

President Rajoy lauding the violent police that left hundreds of inured, many seriously wounded, is yet another testimony that fascism in Europe is growing. Franco’s blood must be running in Rajoy’s veins. Brussels, the headquarters of the European Police state – of the growing European military regime – already today engulfing the bulk of the 28 EU member states, concurred with this violence by remaining disgracefully silent.

Let’s look a bit closer at some of the reasons behind this horrendous crackdown on people who were merely intent of expressing their opinion – a full human right, according to the UN Charter.

Cataluña with a population of about 7.5 million (out of Spain’s 46 million) and a surface of about 7% of Spain’s 506,000 km2 contributes about 20% to Spain’s economic output, produces 25% of Spain’s exports, receives 23.5% of Spain’s foreign tourist, and 57% of foreign of Spain’s investments. There is a lot to lose by Cataluña’s secession.

Cataluña today receives about 1,800 euros per capita in tax devolution from Madrid, but contributes at least double that amount to the Spanish Treasury. This imbalance has long been a sore thumb in the relations between Barcelona and Madrid. But Rajoy’s PP (Partido Popular) Government has always staunchly refused any dialogue for more autonomy and more financial justice.

Spain’s northern Basque Region fought for decades (1959-2011) for independence. The Spain-ETA armed political conflict, also known as the Basque National Liberation Movement, caused hundreds of violent deaths. When they finally reached disarmament and a peace agreement in 2011 with the central government in Madrid, they settled for a considerably fairer fiscal agreement with Madrid.

Looking at history, Cataluña became part of Spain in the 15th Century under King Felipe VI and Queen Isabella. In the 20th Century, under the Spanish Republic, Cataluña with her own culture and language, received full autonomy in 1932. I was abolished by Franco, when he came to power in 1938. After Franco’s death in 1975, Cataluña regained temporary autonomy which lapsed in 2006, when a Spanish High Court challenged the Statute of Autonomy and ruled some articles of the Statute ‘unconstitutional’. That was the time when the most recent Catalan Independence Movement began. Since then several mock referenda took place, including the latest in 2014, when 80% of those who voted (about 30% of eligible voters) opted for independence.

The 1st October 2017 Referendum was the first serious attempt at secession since 2006. Though non-conform with the Spanish Constitution, the forceful and violent suppression of the people’s freedom of expression – was a grave human right’s abuse. It will most likely backfire – badly.

This fierce oppression by Madrid, the unwillingness for dialogue, has definitely turned most Catalans against Madrid and for independence. A few weeks ago the polls in Cataluña indicated a close call with a slight edge for those who wanted to remain with Spain. After threats from Madrid for weeks and the violent police crackdown of yesterday’s election, at least 80% of eligible Catalan voters now seek independence. A similar trend could be found within Spain. A couple of months ago, 10% to 20% of Spaniards were neutral or favored independence for Cataluña. After yesterday’s police fiasco, close to half of Spaniards in solidarity with their Catalan brothers support Cataluña’s independence.

The fight is by no means over after Madrid’s violent attempted oppression of the vote. We can just hope that civil war can be avoided.

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Here’s Why Allowing Saudi Women to Drive Is Very Dangerous

The move risks provoking the already distraught Wahhabi clergy who fear that the monarchy is breaking its old alliance with them by sidelining the Kingdom’s most conservative religious gatekeepers in its quest for socio-economic modernization.

Hardcore Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia have warned for generations that allowing women to drive would be a very dangerous development for the ultra-fundamentalist Kingdom, arguing that it would somehow degrade society by leading to an epidemic of immorality which would clash with what they believe is the purest way to practice Islam. That’s not why Riyadh’s recent decree granting woman this long-overdue right by next summer is so dangerous, however, as the real reason rests with the unpredictable and possibly violent reaction of the Saudi clergy. Before talking about that, a few words need to be said about the Kingdom’s much-publicized decision to finally allow women to drive.

The Vision 2030 Disruption

This wasn’t about “diverting attention” from the War on Yemen or the perilous situation of the Shiite minority in the Eastern Province like some cynics have alleged, though that might end up being a short-term media-driven consequence which would of course work out to the government’s temporary favor. Instead, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is actually sincere about reforming the socio-cultural situation in his country in order to enable it to more effectively carry through with his Vision 2030 structural reforms that intend to eventually transition Saudi Arabia to a “normal” non-energy-dependent economy with time. There are still many other reforms which are necessary to implement if the Kingdom’s women are to enjoy the same rights as their counterparts elsewhere in most Muslim-majority countries, to say nothing of the West, but this is still a very powerful step in the direction of increasing female participation in the future workforce.

Understanding this, it’s evident why the most conservative elements of the clergy would be opposed to Vision 2030, as they know that its gradual socio-economic reforms (even if not carried out to their eventual conclusion and still comparatively lagging behind other Muslim countries and the West) will inevitably lead to transformational changes in the country that they believe would contradict their ultra-fundamental interpretation of Islam. In other words, although they won’t say so openly for fear of being detained by the ubiquitous but largely unseen hand of the state security services, it can be presumed that most of these clerics believe that the Crown Prince’s initiative is “haram”, or forbidden by Islamic law (Sharia).

Vision 2030

Undermining The Basis Of Saudi Stability

This pretext – that someone, let alone a professed Muslim, is encouraging and/or engaging in prohibited behavior – has been used as the rallying cry for organizing jihadi terrorist wars in “Syraq” and Yemen, so it can reasonably be anticipated that something similar of the sort might be planned against the Saudi monarchy if it can’t control the reactions of the Wahhabi-Takfiri clergy. It’s at this point where it’s relevant to briefly reference Saudi Arabia’s political structure, which is less of an authoritarian dictatorship than it is an authoritarian power tandem between the royals and the clerics. This alliance between the Saud family and the followers of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab forms the political basis of the Kingdom, with each side delineating certain spheres of internal influence for themselves.

This was a stable enough arrangement (in a relative sense) up until Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman decided to push through the socio-economic reforms inherent in his Vision 2030 agenda, as the clerics have come to see this as a de-facto power grab – even a “soft coup”, if one will – by the monarchy over the previously agreed upon domain of the clergy. It’s in view of this why the issue of allowing women to drive is so dangerous for Saudi stability – not because of any misogynist reasons but due to the explosive reaction that it could provoke from the Wahabbi clerics. That’s probably why the Kingdom carried out its recent crackdown against some religious leaders, prudently expecting that the most extreme among them might seek to rally rioters around their cause of Takfiri demagoguery in seeking to overthrow the monarchy once it was announced that women will soon be allowed to drive.

Multipolar Ramifications

There are inarguably some observers who might feel a touch of schadenfreude at Saudi Arabia’s prospective domestic destabilization because of what it’s done in the Mideast and even to its own people (Shiites and women), but the fact remains that any forthcoming monarchy-cleric conflict would affect more than just the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s top oil suppliers and is endowed with a geostrategic location at the crossroads of Afro-Eurasia. In the past year, the country has also grown incredibly close to both Russia and China, so any Saudi unrest would assuredly harm their long-term multipolar interests as well.

Regarding Russia, Riyadh agreed to an unprecedented OPEC output deal with Moscow and even renewed it after its expiration, is coordinating with the Russian Foreign Ministry over unifying the Syrian “opposition”, signed an unspecified $3.5 billion arms agreement with it this summer, is dispatching its King to Russia for the first time in history, and even plans to hold its first-ever military-technical forum with Russia by the end of the year. Concerning China, the People’s Republic is building an armed drone factory in Saudi Arabia, the King just visited Beijingearlier this year, and both sides signed two separate series of agreements totaling over $130 billion in the past six months alone.

“Balkanizing” The Arabian Peninsula

The most immediate geopolitical consequence of pronounced monarchy-cleric unrest in Saudi Arabia would be the “Balkanization” of the Arabian Peninsula into a collection of emirates, an outcome which mirrors what would happen if the US were ever successful in turning the manufactured Gulf Cold War into a hot one. The UAE, which masterminded the Saudi-Qatari tensions, is unique in the Mideast because it’s essentially a collection of emirates which function as a semi-united entity, and this creative governing model could be replicated all across the territory of a “Balkanized” Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to extend Abu Dhabi’s reach further inland into the peninsula and its rich natural resources.

In addition, the spread of the Emirati system throughout this strategic corner of the Mideast might also create a structural precedent for dividing and ruling other parts of this fractured region at large, particularly in Yemen and “Syraq”.

Therefore, the unleashing of “calculated-controlled chaos” in Saudi Arabia could be part of the US’ plans for geopolitically reengineering a so-called “New Middle East” modelled along the lines of implementing a hybrid Emirati-“Identity Federalized” system.

This can’t happen so long as Saudi Arabia remains unified, ergo the interest that the US and its regional allies have in dismembering it, a scenario which they might try to advance by capitalizing off of the hardcore Wahhabi clerics’ opposition to the Kingdom’s recent decree allowing women to drive.

Concluding Thoughts

It would be difficult to find anyone who isn’t applauding Saudi Arabia’s latest socio-cultural reform in granting women the right to drive, despite the cynicism about it being long overdue and not going far enough. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is serious about fulfilling the Vision 2030 initiative that he’s staked his legacy on, which therefore requires embarking on transformational changes within the Kingdom which come up against the ultra-hardline Wahhabi dogma preached by part of the clerical half of his country’s power tandem. It was already anticipated that this would result in a strong backlash from that sector, which explains the preemptive crackdown that Riyadh commenced against what it believed would be some of the key figures leading the Takfiri demagoguery against the monarchy.

Ultimately, however, Saudi Arabia will only be saved from the boomerang of Wahhabi destabilization if it can succeed in winning over relatively “moderate” clerics, guaranteeing the support of the military and anti-terrorist special forces, and genuinely securing the backing of the country’s growing youth demographic. This would in turn allow the authorities to isolate the fundamental preachers, effectively deal with their radicalized and militant followers, and count on the support of the masses in a similar manner as President Erdogan did in masterfully employing “democratic security” mechanisms to counteract the failed pro-US coup against him in summer 2016.

Given how “provocative” Riyadh’s latest reform is in the context of the country’s delicate power tandem, especially in terms of how it could easily be interpreted as the monarchy overstepping its agreed-upon boundaries with the clergy in an arguable “soft coup” attempt, it’s plain to see why allowing women to drive is indeed a dangerous step to take, which is why the authorities should be commended for going through with this move. There’s still an ever-present potential for destabilization despite the preemptive crackdown so Saudi Arabia isn’t out of the woods just yet, but any forthcoming anti-government protests led by the Wahhabi clergy would be a red flag indicating that the US has finally commenced a regime change operation against its long-time allies in Riyadh.

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Deconstructing the Kurdistan Referendum: Who Wins, Who Loses and the Fate of a Region


Global Research News Hour episode 192


We will not allow the creation of a second Israel in the north of Iraq.

– Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki. [1]



Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

While the world reels from news of Catalonia’s secession vote from Spain over the weekend, major powers have been sounding off on a similar referendum just six days earlier.

The area in northeastern Iraq known as Iraqi Kurdistan, or the Kurdistan Region, voted 92.73 per centin favour of independence from Iraq.

While Kurds in the affected area were jubilant, leaders in surrounding countries fulminated and in some cases uttered threats.

The government of the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk called for a curfew on the night of the vote. The central government of Iraq imposed an international flight ban on cities in the Kurdistan Region. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi said he would not enter into negotiations with the Kurdistan Regional Government, claiming the referendum was ‘unconstitutional.’

The Turkish government has threatened to cut off the supply of oil coming into the country from the Kurdistan Region. The United Nations Security Council members discouraged the vote, saying it “could hinder efforts to counter so-called Islamic State (IS) and help displaced Iraqis return home.”

The United States has likewise refused to recognize the referendum outcome. In a Saturday September 30 statement, none other than US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq.”

Israel meanwhile is the only country expressing support of Kurdistan’s aspirations to statehood.

In the century since British officer Mark Sykes and French diplomat François Georges-Picot signed an agreement setting the boundaries of the Middle East, the Kurds have been frustrated in their desires to secure a homeland. Does the referendum, binding or not, put the Kurds one step closer to achieving that dream? Or will it bring more bloodshed, or even war?

This week’s Global Research News Hour examines the fall-out from the referendum vote with three guests.

Henry Heller is Professor of History at the University of Manitoba. He is also the author of several books including The Capitalist University: The Transformation of Higher Education in the United Stated: 1945-2016 and The Cold War and the New Imperialism: 1945-2005 (1986). In the first half hour, Professor Hellyer puts the referendum in an historical context, explaining the origin of the Kurds, their grievances with its neighbours, and the comparison with stateless Jews in the period before 1948.

Nametuwllah Emre is Vice president of the Kurdish Association of Manitoba. He is also a Canadian citizen of Kurdish extraction living in the city of Winnipeg. Mr. Emre presents ‘the view from the diaspora.’ He does not seem to take the threats by Iraq and Turkey very seriously, and feels that his countrymen abroad are deserving of their own state.

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist. He has written for the Boston Globe, the Sunday Times of London and the Wall Street Journal among other newspapers. He has spent a lot of time in Erbil and was there for the referendum vote. He wrote an article on the eve of the vote published at Consortium news called Vote by Iraqi Kurds Adds to Tensions. He explores his understanding based on the fact he was present during the referendum vote in Erbil. He joins us from Cairo.


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Nasrallah: Our Resonant Call to Remain “At Your Service O Imam Hussein”

Sayyed Nasrallah Ashura
Sayyed Nasrallah addressing crowds via video link during Ashura ceremony in Beirut’s southern suburb (Dahiyeh) (Saturday, September 30).

Marwa HaidarHezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said that the resistance won’t withdraw from battlefields against the Ummah’s enemies, stressing that the resonant call of “At Your Service O Imam Hussein” will last.

During Hezbollah central Ashura ceremony on the tenth eve of the Hijri Month of Muharram in Beirut’s southern suburb, Sayyed Nasrallah warned against secession bid by Kurdistan region in Iraq, saying the move threatens the entire region.

Sayyed Nasrallah said following the defeat of ISIL Takfiri group, the region is before a dangerous scheme of division starting from secession bid by Kurdistan.

His eminence warned that the US administration is plotting for new enmity in the region. In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah warned Saudi Arabia against schemes aimed at inciting local confrontation in Lebanon.

Talking about local issues in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the parliamentary elections are to take place on time (May 2018) based on the agreed electoral law.

Hezbollah S.G. meanwhile warned that the issue of Israeli spying devices should be politically solved, or else Hezbollah will deal with this dangerous threat.

On the other hand, Sayyed Nasrallah called on Syrian refugees to return to their country and take part in reconstruction of Syria.

Solution through Dialogue

Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech thanking the resistance crowds for their mass attendance in Ashura ceremonies commemorating martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a.s.) since the start of Muharram Hijri month across Lebanon and especially in Dahiyeh.

The resistance leader stressed that Hezbollah is keen to preserve national security and stability in Lebanon, noting that dealing with local issues “requires dialogue, away from challenge and defiance between rival parties.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said whatever the disputes were; the Lebanese parties can find solutions through dialogue, referring to latest issues of wage scale and electoral law.

Local Confrontation “Failed Adventure”

“We’ve heard that there have been preparations for new alliances in Lebanon. If that is related to elections, we have no problem,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, warning against preparations for local confrontation in Lebanon.

His eminence warned local sides in Lebanon against being engaged in such confrontations, stressing that such call was not out of weakness but based on Hezbollah’s keenness to preserve stability in Lebanon and the region.

“Even the Zionist entity acknowledges that Hezbollah is the second army in the region, so we are not talking out of weakness. I call upon political parties not to be driven through incitement for such adventure because the outcome of such confrontation is well known.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also warned Saudi Arabia against inciting for such confrontation by saying: “We see that this plot is failed adventure.”

Elections on Time

Sayyed Nasrallah ruled out any extension of the Lebanese Parliament term.

“I agree with Speaker Nabih Berri that there will be no extension of the parliament’s term,” Sayyed Nasrallah told crowds in Dahiyeh, adding: “Parliamentary elections to take place on time and based on the agreed electoral law.”

Lebanon Secure

Touching upon security in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah first hailed the achievement of liberating Lebanon’s eastern mountain range. He warned that the security threat still exists but in lower level.

On the other hand, Hezbollah S.G. lashed out at foreign embassies over their warnings of security risk in Lebanon.

“The logistic base of terror is over now, and the ability to carry out terrorist attack in Lebanon has been limited. Despite absurd warnings by some embassies, we have to say that Lebanon is one of the most secure countries across the world. Lebanon is more secure than Washington itself,” said Sayyed Nasrallah.

Sayyed Nasrallah also reiterated call to Lebanese people to refrain from celebratory gunfire, stressing that such behavior is forbidden in Islam because it causes harm.

Syrian Refugees

Hezbollah S.G. on the other hand, called upon Syrian refugees to return to Syria and take part in the reconstruction of their country. His eminence stressed that the interest of the refugees lies in going back to Syria.

Sayyed Nasrallah said that all guarantees regarding this issue could be offered, calling upon Lebanese parties to deal with the Syrian refugees problem based on national interest rather than narrow interests.

His eminence also slammed the stance of some Lebanese parties which have been refusing coordination between Lebanon and Syria, stressing that the Syrian refugees issue cannot be tackled without such coordination.

Israeli Violations

Sayyed Nasrallah meanwhile, threatened that Hezbollah won’t keep mum on the latest Israeli violations represented by spying devices planted across Lebanese territories.

“Israeli spying devices which have been recently uncovered danger threat to Lebanon,” his eminence said, adding: “We will not abandon our country; if this issue is not politically solved then we will deal with.”

ISIL Defeated

Turning into regional issues, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the region witnesses now ISIL’s defeat, noting that the terrorist group’s end is just a matter of time.

Sayyed Nasrallah described the latest ISIL attack on Syrian army and Hezbollah in Badiya as normal reaction to the Takfiri organization’s defeat, noting that the attack aimed at exhausting the allied forces of the axis of resistance.

“ISIL is incapable of regaining territory. The group is trying to exhaust the Syrian army in order to delay its end. However, this plan is ineffective because the decision to wipe out ISIL has been taken. Yes there are a lot of sacrifices but this is the nature of the battle.”

Kurdistan Secession Threat to Entire Region

Following the defeat of ISIL, the region is before a dangerous scheme of division, Sayyed Nasrallah said, warning that such scheme is represented in the secession of Kurdistan region in Iraq.

“We say to our beloved Kurds that the issue is not about deciding your fate, but about dividing the region according to sectarian and ethnic belonging.”

The Lebanese resistance leader called on people of the region to confront such scheme which echoes the “New Middle East”, which was plotted by former US president George W. Bush.

“The people of this region bear responsibility of confronting this scheme of division.”

His eminence also called on people of the region to refrain from resorting to ethnic bias.

“There should not be ethnic bias between Arabs, Kurds or Iranians, the problem is not with Kurds, it’s political one.”

Sayyed Nasrallah in this context warned that wars in the region are in favor of ‘Israel’ and US along with the latter’s arms companies.

“At Your Service O Imam Hussein”

Sayyed Nasrallah concluded his speech stressing that the resistance won’t abandon its duties in defending the right and confronting the Ummah’s enemies, saying that Hezbollah will not withdraw from battlefields.

His eminence recalled a quote by Imam Hussein’s companion Sa’d bin Abdullah al-Hanafi who told Imam Hussein (a.s.) a day before Karabal battle: “By Allah, I shall not leave you alone unless they kill me, burn me in fire and reduce me to ashes and blew it in the air. I am ready to meet the same fate seventy times till I diminish in your support.”

Sayyed Nasrallah echoed al-Hanfi’s quote, calling on Imam Hussein’s lovers to take part in Ashura processions on Sunday and chant the resonant call of “At Your Service O Imam Hussein”.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah offers incredibly balanced view on Kurdish referendum

By Adam Garrie | The Duran 

The leader of the Lebanese party Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has articulated a defence of territorial unity across the Arab world while also calling for respecting the human rights of all non-Arab minorities across the region. In a speech which invoked the ideals anti-imperialist Arab nationalism, Nasrallah made it clear that the opposition to the recent referendum by Kurds in Northern Iraq among those calling for Arab unity, is based on considerations regarding political survival and one that rejects ethno-nationalism in all its forms.

Hezbollah’s official news outlet Al-Manar reports the following (Nasrallah’s quotes are indicated by bold lettering)

“Following the defeat of ISIL, the region is before a dangerous scheme of division, Sayyed Nasrallah said, warning that such scheme is represented in the secession of Kurdistan region in Iraq.

“We say to our beloved Kurds that the issue is not about deciding your fate, but about dividing the region according to sectarian and ethnic belonging.”

The Lebanese resistance leader called on people of the region to confront such scheme which echoes the “New Middle East”, which was plotted by former US president George W. Bush.

“The people of this region bear responsibility of confronting this scheme of division.”

His eminence also called on people of the region to refrain from resorting to ethnic bias.

“There should not be ethnic bias between Arabs, Kurds or Iranians, the problem is not with Kurds, it’s political one.”

Sayyed Nasrallah in this context warned that wars in the region are in favor of ‘Israel’ and US along with the latter’s arms companies”.

This view which embraces an all encompassing anti-imperialist Arab nationalism, one that rejects the ethno-nationalism of any one group, is consistent with the traditions of the great secular Arab nationalists movements including Ba’athism, Nasserism and Gaddafi’s Third International Theory. While Hezbollah is a religious party, it is careful to reject faith based sectarianism let alone ethno-nationalism.

As I wrote yesterday in The Duran,

“The 20th century witnessed the birth of Arab nationalism, a series of movements and political parties which aimed to restore independence and unity in the Arab world after centuries of Ottoman rule, as well as more recent decades of western imperialist occupation and aggression.

Arab nationalists were anti-tribal, progressive and anti-sectarian. Arab nationalists sought to retain the traditional harmony in which Arab Muslims lived with one another as well as with their Christian and Jewish neighbours. Likewise, Arab nationalist parties did not favour discrimination against ethnic minorities. In many cases, Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians welcomed Arab nationalism as a progressive respite against late Ottoman realities that were increasingly ethnocentric and genocidal.

The progressive realities of Arab nationalism contrast with the aggression of western imperialism, the backwardness of Wahhabism, the settler colonialism of Zionism and the ethno-nationalism of present day Kurdish secessionists.

In this sense, while the Kurds have spun a narrative that they are oppressed freedom fighters, the reality is rather different. Iraqi Kurds are attempting to break apart the unity of the Arab world and in so doing, threatening the survival of what remains of the Arab nationalist ideal. If the Kurds got their way, many Arabs and other minorities such as Turkomen would find themselves becoming refugees in their own country as a result of Kurdish ethno-nationalism. By contrast, in the modern Arab world, Kurds are not threatened. One could say that they are fact, in a privileged position.

Furthermore, with many Arab nationalist governments being the victims of neo-imperialism from the west, Wahhabi terrorism from Saudi Arabia and its allies, in addition to Israel occupation and intimation, one can easily see why Arab states like Iraq have clearly stated their opposition to a further dagger in the heart of the Arab world”.

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