Archive | May 13th, 2018

Killing Gaza

NOVANEWS

Israel’s blockade of Gaza—where trapped Palestinians for the past seven weeks have held nonviolent protests along the border fence with Israel, resulting in more than 50 killed and 700 wounded by Israeli troops—is one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Yet the horror that is Gaza, where 2 million people live under an Israeli siege without adequate food, housing, work, water and electricity, where the Israeli military routinely uses indiscriminate and disproportionate violence to wound and murder, and where almost no one can escape, is rarely documented. Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen’s powerful new film, “Killing Gaza,” offers an unflinching and moving portrait of a people largely abandoned by the outside world, struggling to endure.

“Killing Gaza” will be released Tuesday, to coincide with what Palestinians call Nakba Day—“nakba” means catastrophe in Arabic—commemorating the 70th anniversary of the forced removal of some 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 by the Haganah, Jewish paramilitary forces, from their homes in modern-day Israel. The release of the documentary also coincides with the Trump administration’s opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Starting Tuesday, May 15, “Killing Gaza” can be seen at Vimeo On Demand.

Because of Nakba Day and the anger over the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem, this week is expected to be one of the bloodiest of the seven-week-long protest that Palestinians call the “Great Return March.” “Killing Gaza” illustrates why Palestinians, with little left to lose, are rising up by the thousands and risking their lives to return to their ancestral homes—70 percent of those in Gaza are refugees or the descendants of refugees—and be treated like human beings.

Cohen and Blumenthal, who is the author of the book “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel,” one of the best accounts of modern Israel, began filming the documentary Aug. 15, 2014. Palestinian militias, armed with little more than light weapons, had just faced Israeli tanks, artillery, fighter jets, infantry units and missiles in a 51-day Israeli assault that left 2,314 Palestinians dead and 17,125 injured. Some 500,000 Palestinians were displaced and about 100,000 homes were destroyed. The 2014 assault, perhaps better described as a massacre, was one of eight massacres that Israel has carried out since 2004 against the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, over half of whom are children. Israel, which refers to these periodic military assaults as “mowing the lawn,” seeks to make existence in Gaza so difficult that mere survival consumes most of the average Palestinian’s time, resources and energy.

The film begins in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood, reduced to mounds of rubble by the Israelis. The wanton destruction of whole neighborhoods was, as documented by the film, accompanied by the shooting of unarmed civilians by Israeli snipers and other soldiers of that nation.

“Much of the destruction took place in the course of a few hours on July 23,” Blumenthal, who narrates the film, says as destroyed buildings appear on the screen, block after block. “The invading Israeli forces found themselves under ferocious fire from local resistance forces, enduring unexpectedly high casualties. As the Israeli infantry fled in full retreat, they called in an artillery and air assault, killing at least 120 Palestinian civilians and obliterated thousands of homes.”

The film includes a brief clip of young Israelis in Tel Aviv celebrating the assault on Gaza, a reminder that toxic racism and militarism infect Israeli society.

“Die! Die! Bye!” laughing teenage girls shout at the celebration in Tel Aviv. “Bye, Palestine!”

“Fucking Arabs! Fuck Muhammad!” a young man yells.

“Gaza is a graveyard! Gaza is a graveyard! Ole, ole, ole, ole,” the crowd in Tel Aviv sings as it dances in jubilation. “There is no school tomorrow! There are no children left in Gaza!”

Terrified Palestinian families huddled inside their homes during the relentless shelling. Those who tried to escape in the face of the advancing Israelis often were gunned down with their hands in the air, and the bodies were left to rot in the scorching heat for days.

“I was inside when they started bulldozing my house,” Nasser Shamaly, a Shuja’iyya resident, says in the film. “They took down the wall and started shooting into the house. So I put my hands on my head and surrendered myself to the officer. This wasn’t just any soldier. He was the officer of the group! He didn’t say a word. He just shot me. I fell down and started crawling to get away from them.”

Shamaly, who hid wounded in his house for four days, was fortunate. His 23-year-old cousin, Salem Shamaly, who led a group of volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement to dig bodies out of the ruins in Shuja’iyya, was not.

“On the offensive’s 14th day, July 20th, 2014, four other activists and I went to the Shuja’iyya neighborhood, which Israel had bombed for days, to accompany rescue teams in the rubble during the two-hour cease-fire,” Joe Catron, one of the members of the International Solidarity Movement rescue team, says in the film. “A young Palestinian, whose name we later learned was Salem Shamaly, asked us to go with him to his house, where he hoped to find his family. It sounds ridiculous now, but at the time we thought the cease-fire would make it safe.”

“As we crossed an alley with a clear line of sight to Israeli positions by the separation barrier, a gunshot from their direction struck the ground between us. We scattered into two groups, sheltered behind buildings on either side. After a pause, Salem stepped into the alley, hoping to lead his group to our side, but was struck by another bullet. He fell to the ground.”

Trailer of Killing Gaza from Dan Cohen on Vimeo.

The film shows Shamaly wounded on the ground, barely able to move and crying out in pain.

“As he lay on his back, two more rounds hit him,” Catron continued. “He stopped moving. The gunfire kept us from reaching him. The Israeli artillery began flying overhead and striking the buildings behind us. We were forced to retreat, leaving him. We only learned his name two days later, when his mother, father, sister and cousin recognized him in a video I had tweeted.”

“We couldn’t retrieve his body for seven days,” Um Salem, the mother, says in the film. “His body was in the sun for seven days.”

Waseem Shamaly, Salem’s brother, who appears to be about 8 years old, is shown with his eyes swollen from crying.

“He would take care of us, like our father,” the boy says. “Even at night, he would get us whatever we wanted. He used to buy us everything. Whatever we wished for, he would buy it. There was nothing he wouldn’t buy for us. He used to take us to hang out. He’d take us out with him just to kill our boredom a little.”

Waseem wipes his eyes.

“Now he is gone,” he continues weakly. “There is nobody to take us out and buy us treats.”

“This boy hasn’t been able to handle losing his brother,” says the father, Khalil Shamaly. “He couldn’t handle the news, seeing the way his brother died. He is in shock. It gets to the point where he goes lifeless. He collapses. When I pick him up he tells me his dying wishes. His dying wishes! As if he is leaving us. He is so young. But he gives us his dying wishes. If it weren’t for God’s mercy, I would have lost him too.”

“Destroyed cities and shattered homes can be rebuilt if the resources are there,” Blumenthal says. “But what about the survivors? How can they heal the scars imposed on their psyches? The youth of Gaza has grown up through three wars, each more devastating than the last. At least 90 percent of adolescents in Gaza suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. With mental health services pushed to the brink, these unseen scars may never heal.”

The film turns to the town of Khuza’a, a farming community with 20,000 people, which was systematically blown up by Israel after three Israeli soldiers were killed in fighting with the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Hamas government in Gaza. The film shows a video from inside an Israeli tank as soldiers wait for explosives to bring down buildings in the town, including the mosque. When the explosions occur, the Israeli soldiers cheer and shout, “Long live the state of Israel!”

“We were shocked to see so many bodies in the streets,” Ahmed Awwad, a volunteer with the Palestinian Red Crescent, says in the film about Khuza’a. “Many were decomposing. We wanted to deal with it, but we didn’t know how. Once, when the Israelis let us in with our ambulance, we found about 10 corpses from different areas, scattered. As you approached a body, of course there is the odor, and there are worms. Hold it like this, and flesh comes off. Lift an arm and it pulls right off. We didn’t know what to do. There was nothing we could do. We had to stop. It would have been easier just to bury them. But we figured families would want the bodies. Bulldozers eventually loaded the bodies in trucks. We couldn’t pick up these bodies on our own. Most were executions, like an old lady at her front door. There was a young man, another man, and a little kid. The scenes, to be honest, were very ugly.”

The Rjeila family, including 16-year-old Ghadeer, who was physically disabled, attempts to escape the shelling. As a brother frantically pushes Ghadeer in her wheelchair (the scene, like several others in the film, is reconstructed through animation), the Israelis open fire. The brother is wounded. Ghadeer is killed.

The camera pans slowly through demolished houses containing blackened human remains. Walls and floors are smeared with blood.

Ahmed Awwad, a Palestinian Red Crescent volunteer, describes what happened after he and other volunteers finally receive permission from Israeli forces to retrieve bodies from Khuza’a. They find a man tied to a tree and shot in both legs. One of the volunteers, Mohammed al-Abadla, gets out of a vehicle and approaches the tree. When he switches on his flashlight, which the Israelis had instructed him to do, he is shot in heart and killed.

“For 51 days, Israel bombarded Gaza with the full might of its artillery,” Blumenthal says. “According to the Israeli military’s estimates, 23,410 artillery shells and 2.9 million bullets were fired into Gaza during the war.”

That’s one and a half bullets for every man, woman and child in the Gaza Strip.

There is footage of Israeli soldiers in an artillery unit writing messages, including “Happy Birthday to Me,” on shells being lobbed into Gaza. The soldiers laugh and eat sushi as they pound Palestinian neighborhoods with explosives.

Rafah is a city in Gaza on the border of Egypt. The film makes it clear that Egypt, through its sealing of Gaza’s southern border, is complicit in the blockade. Rafah was one of the first cities targeted by the Israelis. When Israeli troops took over buildings, they also kidnapped Palestinians and used them as human shields there and elsewhere, forcing them to stand at windows as the soldiers fired from behind.

“They blindfolded and handcuffed me and took me inside,” Mahmoud Abu Said says in the film. “They told me to come with them and put a M16 to my back. There were maybe six of them. They dropped their equipment and began searching. They started hitting me against the wall. And then sicced their dogs on me while I was handcuffed.”

“They put me here,” he says, standing in front of a window, “and stood behind me. Israeli soldiers placed me here while they stood behind me shooting. They took me to that window and that window too. Then they hit me against the wall and pushed me down. They put a mattress here,” he says, showing holes punched through the wall at floor level, “and sat down to shoot through these holes.”

“You see that car?” asks Suleiman Zghreibv, referring to a hunk of twisted metal that lies next to the ruins of his house. “He drove it,” he says of his 22-year-old son, who was executed by the Israelis. “This is the car we used to make our living. It wasn’t for personal use. It was a taxi. I can’t describe the suffering. What can I say? Words can’t express the pain. We have suffered and resisted for so long. We’ve been suffering our whole lives. We’ve suffered for the past 60 years because of Israel. War after war after war. Bombing after bombing after bombing. You build a house. They destroy it. You raise a child. They kill him. Whatever they do—the United States, Israel, the whole world, we’ll keep resisting until the last one of us dies.”

Israel intentionally targeted power plants, schools, medical clinics, apartment complexes, whole villages. Robert Piper, the United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, said in 2017 that Gaza had “a long time ago” passed the “unlivability threshold.” Youth unemployment is at 60 percent. Suicide is epidemic. Traditional social structures and mores are fracturing, with divorce rising from 2 percent to 40 percent and girls and women increasingly being prostituted, something once seen only rarely in Gaza. Seventy percent of the 2 million Gazans survive on humanitarian aid packages of sugar, rice, milk and cooking oil. The U.N. estimates that 97 percent of Gaza’s water is contaminated. Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s sewage treatment plant means raw sewage is pumped into the sea, contaminating the beach, one of the very few respites for a trapped population. The Israelis did not even spare Gaza’s little zoo, slaughtering some 45 animals in the 2014 assault.

“I liked the monkeys best,” says a forlorn Ali Qasem, who worked at the zoo. “We laughed with them the most. We would laugh and play with them. They would take food right from your hand. They’d respond the most. There is a heavy feeling of sorrow. I used to spend 18 hours a day here. I was here all the time. I’d go home for five or six hours, then come back. I worked here as a volunteer. A few volunteers built this place little by little. We were excited to finish and invite visitors for free. To me, it was like humans were killed. It’s not OK because they were animals. It’s as if they were human beings, people we know. We used to bring them food from our homes.”

The film shows Palestinians, who have received little reconstruction aid despite pledges by international donors, camping out amid the ruins of homes, gathered around small fires for heat and light. Moeen Abu Kheysi, 54, gives a tour of the smashed house he had spent his life constructing for his family. He stops when he comes upon his 3-month-old grandson, Wadie. His face lights up in delight.

“Months passed and the cold rains of winter gave way to baking heat of spring,” Blumenthal says. “In Shuja’iyya, the Abu Kheysi family was still living in remnants of their home, but without their newest member. Born during the war, little Wadie did not make it through the harsh winter.”

“He was born during the war and he died during the war, well after the war,” a female member of the family explains. “He lived in a room without a wall. We covered the wall with tin sheets. We moved, but then we got kicked out. We couldn’t make rent. [We] had to come back, cover the wall and live here. Then the baby froze to death. It was very cold.”

“One day it suddenly became very cold,” Wadie’s mother says. “Wadie woke up at 9 in the morning. I started playing with him, gave him a bottle. Suddenly, he was shivering from the cold. I tried to warm him up but it wasn’t working.”

She begins to weep.

“There wasn’t even time to get to the hospital,” she says. “He stopped breathing before they left the house. His heart stopped beating instantly. His father started running in the street with him. He fainted when they yelled, “The baby is dead!” The baby’s uncle took over and carried him. He looked everywhere for a taxi but couldn’t find one. We couldn’t give him first aid ourselves. They finally found a car. They did all they could at the hospital, but he never woke up. He was dead. What can I say? We remember him all the time. I can’t get him off my mind. It’s as if I lost a piece of my heart. His sisters want to sleep in his cradle and wear his clothes. This one always asks to wear her brother’s clothes. We can’t forget him.”

“Grandpa!” Wadie’s small sister cries out. “Mama is crying again.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on Killing Gaza

Nazi army Repurposes Nakba Myths to Justify Today’s Massacre in Gaza

NOVANEWS

Israel Repurposes Nakba Myths to Justify Today’s Massacre in Gaza

On Monday and Tuesday, Palestinians commemorate the anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, their mass expulsion and dispossession 70 years ago as the new state of Israel was built on the ruins of their homeland. As a result, most Palestinians were turned into refugees, denied by Israel the right to return to their homes.

Tens of thousands turned out on Monday in the occupied territories to protest against seven decades of Israel’s refusal to make amends or end its oppressive rule.

The move on Monday of the US embassy to Jerusalem, a city under belligerent occupation, has only inflamed Palestinian grievances – and a sense that the West is still conspiring in their dispossession.

The focus of the protests is Gaza, where unarmed Palestinians have been massing every Friday since late March at the perimeter fence that encages two million of them. For their troubles, they have faced a hail of live ammunition, rubber bullets and clouds of tear gas. Dozens had been killed and many hundreds more maimed, including children.

Early reports on Monday suggested that Gaza’s demonstrators were being massacred by the Israeli army. Amnesty International called the events a “horror show”.

But for more than a month, Israel has been working to manage western perceptions of the protests – and its response – in ways designed to discredit the outpouring of anger from Palestinians. In a message all too readily accepted by some western audiences, Israel has presented the protests as a “security threat”.

Israeli officials have even argued before the country’s high court that the protesters lack any rights – that army snipers are entitled to shoot them, even if facing no danger – because Israel is supposedly in a “state of war” with Gaza, defending itself.

On Sunday night the Israeli air force dropped leaflets across Gaza warning Palestinians not to go near fence.

“The Israel Defense Forces is determined to defend Israel’s citizens and sovereignty against Hamas’ attempts at terrorism under cover of violent riots,” the leaflets said. “Don’t get near the fence and don’t take part in Hamas’ show, which endangers you.”

Many Americans and Europeans, worried about an influx of “economic migrants” flooding into their own countries, readily sympathise with Israel’s concerns – and its actions.

Until now, the vast majority of Gaza’s protesters have been peaceful and made no attempt to break through the fence.

Image result for nakba commemoration

Source: Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

But Israel claims that Hamas has exploited this week’s protests in Gaza to encourage Palestinians to storm the fence. The implication is that the protesters have been trying to cross a “border” and “enter” Israel illegally.

The truth is rather different. There is no border because there is no Palestinian state. Israel has made sure of that. Palestinians live under occupation, with Israel controlling every aspect of their lives. In Gaza, even the air and sea are Israel’s domain.

Meanwhile, the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former lands – now in Israel – is recognised in United Nations Resolutions.

Nonetheless, Israel has been crafting a dishonest counter-narrative ever since the Nakba, myths that historians scouring the archives have slowly exploded.

One claim – that Arab leaders told the 750,000 Palestinian refugees to flee in 1948 – was in fact invented by Israel’s founding father, David Ben Gurion. He hoped it would deflect US pressure on Israel to honour its obligations to allow the refugees back.

Even had the refugees chosen to leave during the heat of battle, rather than wait to be expelled, it would not have justified denying them a right to return when the fighting finished. It was that refusal that transformed flight into ethnic cleansing.

In another myth unsupported by the records, Ben Gurion is said to have appealed to the refugees to come back.

In truth, Israel defined Palestinians who tried to return to their lands as “infiltrators”. That entitled Israeli security officials to shoot them on sight – in what was effectively execution as a deterrence policy.

Nothing much has changed seven decades on. A majority of Gaza’s population today are descended from refugees driven into the enclave in 1948. They have been penned up like cattle ever since. That is why the Palestinians’ current protests take place under the banner of the March of Return.

For decades, Israel has not only denied Palestinians the prospect of a minimal state. It has carved the Palestinian territories into a series of ghettos – and in the case of Gaza, blockaded it for 12 years, choking it into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Despite this, Israel wants the world to view Gaza as an embryonic Palestinian state, supposedly liberated from occupation in 2005 when it pulled out several thousand Jewish settlers.

Again, this narrative has been crafted only to deceive. Hamas has never been allowed to rule Gaza, any more than Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority governs the West Bank.

But echoing the events of the Nakba, Israel has cast the protesters as “infiltrators”, a narrative that has left most observers strangely indifferent to the fate of Palestinian youth demonstrating for their freedom.

Once again, the executions of recent weeks, supposedly carried out by the Israeli army in self-defence, are intended to dissuade Palestinians from demanding their rights.

Israel is not defending its borders but the walls of cages it has built to safeguard the continuing theft of Palestinian land and preserve Jewish privilege.

In the West Bank, the prison contracts by the day as Jewish settlers and the Israeli army steal more land. In Gaza’s case, the prison cannot be shrunk any smaller.

For many years, world heads of state have castigated Palestinians for using violence and lambasted Hamas for firing rockets out of Gaza.

But now that young Palestinians prefer to take up mass civil disobedience, their plight is barely attracting attention, let alone sympathy. Instead, they are criticised for “breaching the border” and threatening Israel’s security.

The only legitimate struggle for Palestinians, it seems, is keeping quiet, allowing their lands to be plundered and their children to be starved.

Western leaders and the public betrayed the Palestinians in 1948. There is no sign, 70 years on, that the West is about to change its ways.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on Nazi army Repurposes Nakba Myths to Justify Today’s Massacre in Gaza

War Propaganda 101

NOVANEWS
 

Propaganda 101: This fine illustration by Edward Kinsella accompanies a classic demonization piece in the current Wall Street Journal.

This sort of political marketing is designed to create a public enemy of the state as a pretext to a military action against a foreign power.

The illustration is a parody of a Hitler campaign poster and is obviously meant to compare Putin to the literal poster boy of evil. The irony is that this article itself is using Nazi tactics to stir public emotions. 

Perennial warmonger, John McCain is the author of this ham-fisted hit piece. The globalists have been trying for a time to portray Russia as a menace to world stability as an argument to have nations surrender their sovereignty to a higher global power. Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany. He would be proud of this War Street Journal article.

Anthony Freda is a frequent contributor to Global Research

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Welcome Home! Canada’s Trudeau Government Welcomes Confessed ISIS Terrorist back to Toronto

NOVANEWS

Dear Canada: Your government supports al Qaeda and al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. It supports all of the terrorists in Syria.

Some of these terrorists are coming home to Canada. As a Canadian you can do little about this since you have supported these terrorists yourselves with your silence and your support for your government’s terrorist-supporting foreign policy.

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According to Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi, and confirmed by “multiple intelligence agencies”, Abu Huzaifa “al-Kanadi” has been a member of ISIS in Syria. Reportedly, he fought for ISIS in Manbj Syria.

Now, he has returned home to Canada, and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale refuses to provide details on his status.[1]

None of this is surprising to informed Canadians.  The case of Bherlin Gildo in the UK foretold that this would happen. Gildo’s terror trial collapsed in the U.K. when, as Stuart Hooper reports,

“the suspect’s defence argued that British intelligence service MI6 was supporting the same groups that the suspect was supposedly fighting for, including the not-so-moderate ‘Free Syrian Army’ by providing them with both weapons and ‘non-lethal aid.’ ”[2]

When any government, including Canada’s, supports terrorists, it is unreasonable to expect that such terrorists, on returning home,will be subject to public criminal trials, since such trials would necessarily reveal the government’s criminality.

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Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017.

Notes

[1] John Lancaster, Kathleen Harris. “Conservatives grill Goodale about Canadian ISIS fighter shortly before he recants murder claim|Former jihadi retracts his detailed account of killings in New York Times podcast.” CBC News. 11 May, 2018. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/isis-canadian-fighter-execution-1.4658607) Accessed 13 May, 2018.

[2] Stuart J. Hooper, “Terror Trial Collapses: Suspect Accused of Supporting Syria Fighting Groups Backed by British Intelligence MI6.” Global Research, 6 June, 2015. 21st Century Wire 4 June, 2015.

Posted in CanadaComments Off on Welcome Home! Canada’s Trudeau Government Welcomes Confessed ISIS Terrorist back to Toronto

Sieges, Bombs, Embassies: How Attacks on American Diplomats Have Shaped Policy

NOVANEWS

As the US embassy moves to Jerusalem amid high security, history teaches that US diplomatic missions can become targets.

For many in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond, Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is anything but diplomatic.

It risks alienating important partners in the region and disqualifying Washington as a neutral broker to negotiate peace in the region. Already, it has contributed to Palestinian anger, as seen in the current protests on the border between Gaza and Israel, with deadly results.

Yet if history has taught anything, it is that Trump, a self-styled expert dealmaker, may end up getting more than he bargained for.

American diplomatic missions in the Middle East and North Africa, as the representatives of the country in the region, can become lightning rods for anti-US sentiment, sometimes resulting in death and destruction.

And when disaster does strike, the reverberations can be felt worldwide, with American prestige and policy suffering and high-flying political careers dashed.

Tehran 1924: Lynching heralds martial law

Any discussion of US diplomacy and Iran triggers recollections of the 1979 crisis and the Islamic Revolution. Yet US diplomats had fallen victim to events in the region long before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rose to power.

In 1924, Robert Whitney Imbrie, a major in the US army, was the American vice consul in Tehran. A spy-adventurer, his pre-foreign service exploits included successfully bringing a live gorilla from the Congo to New York and volunteering for the French army’s ambulance service during World War One.

Before taking his position at the US embassy in Iran, Imbrie gained a reputation as a hot-headed, fearless and vehemently anti-Bolshevik American agent, once using his walking stick to beat the head of the Soviet secret police department in Petrograd.

Ironically, Imbrie spent much of his working life undermining what he regarded as godless Soviets – but it was religious fanatics who were to determine his fate.

In July of that year he took a carriage to inspect an angry crowd of anti-Bahai protesters in the centre of Tehran. The protesters were gathered around a well that was rumoured to have miraculous healing powers. But now the Bahais, a religious minority, had been accused of poisoning the font.

Imbrie approached, carrying a camera to take photographs for the National Geographic Society and accompanied by his bodyguard, a burly oilfield worker.

But soon he drew attention from the crowd, some of who accused him of being a Bahai.

He was attacked, badly beaten and rushed to a nearby hospital, where the mob then forced their way into the operating theatre and killed him.

Understandably, Imbrie’s death was a source of tension between Tehran and Washington, which demanded justice. Eventually a soldier and two teenagers were found, accused and executed.

The incident also cast doubt on the safety of foreigners in Iran, as US newspapers fretted about security and religious fanaticism in the region.

The New York Times wrote that Iranian authorities should “cease to resort to appeals to the fanatical instincts which permeate not only the mob but also a large proportion of the intelligentsia” and urged Tehran to better protect foreigners in future.

This it did, when Iranian Prime Minister Reza Khan declared marital law, using the crisis to consolidate his power before eventually assuming the Iranian throne.

WAK Fraser, British military attache at the time, noted how “the event gave him … the excuse for declaring marital law and a censorship of the press… Numerous arrests have been made, chiefly political opponents of the prime minister.”

Imbrie was buried with full honours in Arlington National Cemetery. But his death had opened a new chapter in Iranian politics.

Tehran 1979: Hostages and revolution

Fifty-five years later, a second crisis involving American diplomats heralded another significant shift in US-Iranian relations.

In early 1979, the US embassy in Tehran was a long, two-storey redbrick building standing on an avenue in central Tehran, the scene of intense US-Iranian cooperation which neither government expected to be broken.

The US embassy is stormed by Iranian students in Tehran in 1979 (Wiki)

Popularly likened to an American high school in appearance, the mission was known as “Henderson High”, a reference to Loy Henderson, its first US ambassador.

“It was like any other embassy, except the relationship of the United States and Iran was very close,” says Iranian-American historian Shaul Bakhash at George Mason University in Virginia.

“The shah worked closely with the Americans on diplomatic issues, on regional security, on the sharing of intelligence.”

But all that changed in February 1979, when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran and son ofReza Khan, was deposed by the Islamic Revolution.

At first Washington managed to uphold an uneasy relationship with the new Iranian government, despite the revolutionary fervour in Tehran.

But when the US granted Reza Shah asylum in May of that year, the hardliners had all the reason they needed to target the embassy.

A group of students stormed the building on 4 November, taking 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage and parading them blindfolded and bound in front of television cameras.

“I was in Iran at the time and I must say the images were electrifying,” Bakhash said. “It was a precise, planned political move that was designed to drive a wedge between the Iranian and American governments.”

The hostage crisis, which lasted 444 days, was the death of President Jimmy Carter’s administration. His downfall was fuelled by the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the hostages in April 1980, which resulted in the deaths of eight US service personnel in the desert southeast of Tehran.

The release of the hostages in January 1981 was regarded as an early victory for Carter’s successor Ronald Reagan, who was sworn in as president just minutes before they were freed.

But the crisis was catastrophic for US-Iranian relations, which have never recovered and are currently at a new low following the rejection by US President Donald Trump of the Iran nuclear deal.

Today the Tehran embassy – popularly known as the “den of espionage” in Iran – is a museum, standing as a monument to a shattered relationship.

Murals and posters criticising American and Israeli “arrogance” cover the walls, while various encryption devices and communication equipment are displayed behind glass screens, proof the Iranians say of Washington’s meddling overseas.

“For the Iranians it showed that the United States could be beaten,” says Bakhash.

Beirut 1983: Bombed into retrenchment

In early 1983, the US embassy in Lebanon was nothing if not picturesque, nestled as it was next to the American University of Beirut’s leafy campus and boasting vistas of the Mediterranean.

Journalist Kai Bird, who lived in the mission as a child, says:

“The Beirut embassy was right on the corniche, a lovely venue. Any Lebanese, any American could just walk right into the embassy, say hello to the marine guards, state their business and get an appointment to see somebody.”

Such openness in 2018 is unimaginable, as a visit to any US mission across the world will prove, in part due to the devastating suicide bombing in Beirut that took 63 lives and changed the American diplomacy forever.

In April 1983, Lebanon was eight years into a bloody civil war, which would eventually leave an estimated 150,000 dead and not end till 1990.

On the 18th of that month, a truck loaded with explosives drove into the US embassy and detonated.

Packing more that 900 kg of explosives, the truck bomb tore apart the embassy’s entire facade, as the explosion shattered windows across west Beirut.

Seventeen Americans, 32 Lebanese employees of the embassy and 14 passersby and visitors were killed, including some of the CIA’s top agents.

It was to be the opening salvo in a new type of warfare with which the United States still battles today. Likely directed by Iranian intelligence, the attack was carried out by Islamic Jihad, a militant group that later grew into Hezbollah.

It was also the first of several attacks on the US in the city. In October 1983, two truck bombs targeted at an international peacekeeping force killed more than 300 people, including 241 US peacekeepers. And in September 1984, 24 people were killed by a car bomb attack on the US embassy annex in east Beirut.

The attacks drew strong rhetoric and promises to see the mission through from then-US President Reagan. But by February 1984 the American military presence in Lebanon began to be drawn down, with the British, French and Italian forces following suit.

Bird, whose book The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames profiles a CIA operative who was killed in the 1983 attack, says the assault on the US embassy was a turning point.

“There’d never been a military-scale attack on a US embassy before and I think it inaugurated a new form of warfare. It changed the whole landscape of US diplomacy – literally the architecture changed.”

In an attempt to avoid a repetition of such a disaster, US embassies and missions worldwide now sit behind layer upon layer of security.

Many invariably resemble fortresses, set in isolated locations and sat behind thick walls, high fences and dozens of cameras. The former US embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square, for example, was constructed during the 1950s. Security increased over the decades, until the area on one side of the residential square was cordoned off. The new embassy, in Vauxhall, opened in December 2017, is on open ground and surrounded by a semi-moat.

But such security has its disadvantages.

“Since 1983, the average diplomat is extremely isolated, and it’s very hard for them to develop friendships and contacts with local journalists,” says Bird

“So that’s had a very real impact on the daily routine and life of the average American diplomat. It’s terrible and it sends completely the wrong message. It sends a message to the average person in Lebanon or Egypt or Nepal or India that you can’t approach America, that we Americans are fearful.”

Benghazi 2012: The lingering legacy

Missions in Tripoli, Kuwait City, Jeddah, Damascus, Sanaa, Istanbul, Cairo and Tunis have all witnessed bombs, assaults or riots. A suicide bombing in Ankara in 2013, which killed one person, is just one of the more recent examples.

But none has had quite the political reverberations in recent years as the attack on the US temporary mission facility in Benghazi on 11 September 2012, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

In 2012, Libya was emerging as splintered and unstable country after the uprising and NATO operation that toppled long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi the previous year.

Benghazi had been the cradle of the revolution against Gaddafi’s regime. Stevens was in the city promoting democracy and American friendship, as the US considered making its presence in the eastern Libyan city permanent. It was to cost him his life.

On the 11th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, the militant group Ansar al-Sharia staged an assault on the US mission.

Coming at the compound from all angles, the militants broke through the security using heavy weapons, RPGs and grenades. Once inside, the assailants started a fire, filling the Americans’ hiding place with smoke. Stevens managed to escape the building and was taken to a nearby hospital, but eventually died of smoke inhalation.

The unexpected attack and the diplomat’s death shocked America: according to David Des Roches at the National Defense University, it was also a wakeup call for US policy in Libya.

“It showed that the country had descended into something that was sub-national,” says Des Roches.

“Right now, when people look at Libya, it’s basically divided along the lines the Emperor Constantine divided it at the time of the Roman Empire.”

But Benghazi’s more enduring legacy was, perhaps, seen not in Libya but 8,000km away in the White House.

The attack sparked a lengthy inquiry, and exposed then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of an external email server – a scandal that plagued her 2016 run for the presidency.

“In her memoirs secretary Clinton attributes her defeat to the fact that additional emails were unearthed just five days before the election,” says Des Roches. “Well, we only found out that those emails existed because of the inquiries into Benghazi.

“So if you take Secretary Clinton’s analysis, if not for Benghazi [then] she would be president today.”

Going by the same logic, Donald Trump would not be sat behind a desk in the Oval Office – and Washington would not have decided to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Posted in USAComments Off on Sieges, Bombs, Embassies: How Attacks on American Diplomats Have Shaped Policy

Syria Imposes New Rules of Engagement on I$raHell

NOVANEWS
Syria Imposes New Rules of Engagement on Israel

On Thursday 10 May 2018, an unprecedented exchange of strikes happened between Israel and Syria. The monopoly media, as well as some “alternative” media like Russia Today, were quick to relay the Israeli army version, according to which the Zionist entity “retaliated” to an “Iranian attack by Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds Force” consisting of “twenty rockets” fired at Israeli positions in the occupied Golan, four of which were “intercepted by the Iron Dome” and the others “crashed into Syrian territory”, no damage being recorded in Israel. Israel has reportedly responded to this unprecedented “act of aggression” by a “large-scale operation” that would have destroyed “the entire Iranian infrastructure in Syria”, in order to deter the Islamic Republic from any stray impulse of future strikes.

This narrative takes for granted the postulates, data and myths of the Zionist entity’s propaganda – which imposes permanent military censorship on the Israeli media, exposing any offender to a prison sentence; and reading the international media, one might get the idea that, like American economic sanctions, this censorship is extraterritorial – but none of them can withstand scrutiny.

The aggressor is undoubtedly Israel, who carried out more than a hundred strikes against Syria since the beginning of the conflict. After Duma’s chemical stage attacks, this aggresion intensified with attacks on the Syrian T-4 base on April 9, which killed 7 Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Following the US announcement of withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, new Israeli strikes targeted Syrian positions on Tuesday (May 8) in the southern suburbs of Damascus, and Wednesday (May 9) in Quneitra, in the south of the country. Undeniably, Syria has only responded to yet another aggression, with a firmness that has shaken Israel and forced it out of the muteness to which it usually confines itself.

The Syrian – and not Iranian – response consisted of more than fifty – and not twenty – rockets against four sensitive Israeli military bases in the occupied Golan, which caused material damage and even casualties according to Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media. These were not reported by the Israeli press because of the draconian military censorship forbidding mentioning Israel’s initial aggression, more than twenty rockets fired on Israel, the identification of their targets and any hint to the damage inflicted, in order to reassure the population inside and allow the vassal Western capitals to shout their sickening refrain of the sacrosanct-right-of-Israel-to-defend-itself. The Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen specifically identified the military posts struck: 1) a military technical and electronic reconnaissance center; 2) border security and intelligence station 9900; 3) a military center for electronic jamming; 4) a military spy center for wireless and wired networks; 5) a transmission station; 6) an observatory of precision weapons unit ; 7) a combat heliport; 8) the headquarters of the Regional Military Command of Brigade 810; 9) the command center of the military battalion at Hermon; 10) winter headquarters of a special alpine unit. And as this channel has reported, even Israeli journalists and analysts have expressed doubts about this unconvincing version according to which these massive strikes, unprecedented since 1974 and therefore unexpected, would have proved harmless. Moreover, as Norman Finkelstein pointed out, nothing has changed for Israel’s wars in Gaza from 2008 to 2014 despite the deployment of the “Iron Dome”, only 5% of the – largely primitive – Hamas rockets being intercepted during “Protective Edge”; and one of the best missile defense specialists, Theodore Postol of MIT, has already revealed the chronic deficiencies of this system. It is unlikely that it was able to cope better with the much more sophisticated Russian, Chinese, and Iranian rocket launchers that Syria has.

The success of the Israeli strikes, which, according to Israeli War Minister Avigdor Lieberman, almost destroyed “all of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria”, is largely exaggerated: Russian military officials, whose radars have followed this fight in real time, announced that more than half of the 60 missiles fired by 28 Israeli F-15s and F-16s – as well as 10 ground-to-ground missiles – were intercepted. The Syrian army records 3 dead and 2 wounded, a radar station and ammunition depot destroyed and material damage to Syrian anti-aircraft defense units. The latter have already demonstrated their effectiveness against strikes from Tel Aviv, Washington, London and Paris, unlike the mythical “Iron Dome” whose main role is to reassure the Israeli population.

The very presence of Iranian military bases and/or large Iranian contingents in Syria is a fable. Iran has only a modest presence (essentially composed of military advisers, indeed from the body of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards), unlike Hezbollah or Russia. Robert Fisk points out that “an Israeli statement that the Iranians had missiles in Syria was surely made in concert with the Trump administration”, that the Iranian forces in Syria are “far fewer than the West imagines” and that all Israeli statements should be reported with the utmost circumspection. Any objective reporting on these events should resemble that of Robert Fisk: “The latest overnight Israeli air strikes, supposedly at Iranian forces in Syria after a supposed Iranian rocket attack on Israeli forces in Golan – and it’s important to use the “supposed” and not take all this at face value – must have been known to the Americans in advance.” Indeed, these so-called unexpected attacks had been announced for days by the Israeli army, which had already conducted a so-called “preemptive strike” – rather a provocation – on May 8.

The “red line” that this alleged Iranian presence would pose to Israel is belied by the fact that Tel Aviv has, since the beginning of the conflict, been steadily slowing the progress of the Syrian Arab Army and, using various pretexts (delivery of arms to Hezbollah, response to actual or suspected gunfire from the Golan Heights, etc.), assisting armed terrorist groups in any way possible: weapons, intelligence, airstrikes coordinated with ground offensives, medical care, etc. Israel, the only country in the world that officially does not fear anything (and indeed has nothing to fear) from ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the like, has seen the situation in Syria turn from a dream – see a myriad of terrorist groups tear down the only anti-Israeli Arab regime, back of the Resistance Axis, and bleed Hezbollah – into a nightmare – to face Hezbollah, Syrian and Iran forces more battle-hardened and powerful than ever, and allied with the Palestinian Resistance, Iraq and Yemen, as well as Russia –, is only continuing its destabilizing work under new pretexts, and more directly: Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, had announced that after the defeat of proxies in Syria, their sponsors could either give up or intervene more and more openly.

Iran, whose opposition to the racist and colonialist project of Israel has been a principle and even a dogma since the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, is not easily provoked into an ill-thought reaction, and has always preferred to act with patience for long-term objectives – let us remember its restraint after the massacre of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan in 1998. The goal of Iran is not to carry out a simple reprisal operation to avenge his officers and soldiers deliberately (or accidentally, as was the case in Quneitra in January 2015) killed by Israel, but to work for the complete liberation of Palestine by putting an end to the illegitimate “Zionist regime”, just like the Apartheid regime in South Africa, which, by the way, collapsed after its military defeat in Angola and Namibia against Cuban mulattoes, then viewed with as much racism as Israeli Jewish supremacism considers ArabushimAs Hassan Nasrallah pointed out, Israel’s direct aggression against Iranian forces in Syria is a major turning point in the history of the Israeli-Arab – or rather, Israeli-Arab-Persian – conflict, and Israel must now get ready to confront the Iranian forces directly – whether in Syria, occupied Palestine or even elsewhere. Moreover, when the Iranian missiles enter the scene, they are launched from the territory of the Islamic Republic and with undeniable success, as shown by the strikes against ISIS at Deir-Ez-Zor on June 18, 2017, in retaliation for terrorist attacks in Tehran.

As we can see, the reality cannot be more different from the fable that has been propagated by the majority of the media. “Journalists” who tamely take over Israel’s talking points turn into IDF propaganda outlets and mere agents of Netanyahu’s “diplomacy of lies”. Israel is indeed constantly lying to the world – and, increasingly, to its own people. And when its reckless actions have disastrous repercussions, it publishes hasty and contradictory communiqués in which it presents itself both as a victim and as a hawkish punisher, while also claiming, through Lieberman and via Russia, to have no intention of stepping into an escalation and hoping things will stop there – proclaiming the success of its retaliatory strikes is also a way to say it does not want/need to go any further. The international media contented itself with repeating these statements immediately after the first attacks, without any critical distance. Rational actors like Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah – or Russia – are not in such a hurry to speak out and confirm or deny other’s claims, leaving their opponents getting entangled in their lies, and trusting in the primacy of the battlefield that becomes more favorable to them day by day. Moreover, the fact that a bitter setback for Israel, which literally reverses the strategic situation, is transformed into a military success by Zionist and Atlanticist propaganda, and combined with Israeli protests of non-belligerency, can only confirm the Resistance Axis in its choices.

Yoav Kish, a member of the Knesset quoted by Al-Manar, stressed that regardless of the author of the strikes and their results – that censorship forbade from mentioning –, it was a major shift in the history of the wars of Israel, which is being attacked from Syria. Indeed, the Golan military installations are now directly targeted as a result of Israeli aggressions, and not just the Israeli air force, which has already seen its finest – the F-16 – be shot down on February 10, 2018. The journalists and Israeli analysts also pointed out the psychological and economic repercussions of this incident, with more than 20,000 Golan settlers having had to hastily find their way back to the shelters in the middle of the night (how much will they be at the next escalation?), and the beginning of the summer period having been ushered in by a wave of hotel reservation deletions due to fears of a war between Israel and Iran. The Zionist entity, which unabashedly inflicts the greatest loss and damage to the Palestinians and its neighbors, is severely shaken by the slightest losses, unbearable for Israeli society.

The accusation against Iran is explained by essential factors (the inherent racism of Israeli society and its Prime Minister, who more willingly believe in a dangerousness of Persian Iran than in that of Arab Syria) and circumstantial – a refusal to assume the consequences of the suicidal policy of the Netanyahu government, which led him to a direct confrontation with the entire Resistance Axis, not to mention with Russia. And most importantly, Israel wants to capitalize on Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal to advance its main obsession, much older than the Syrian crisis, namely Tehran’s ballistic program, which it wants the West to end with, exploiting the perennial nuclear pretext – let us remind that the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons are unlawful in Islam according to Imam Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, supreme authorities in Iran. Netanyahu has made it clear that a war with Iran is inevitable, and that it would be better to happen now than later. Since 2005, he vainly strives for the United States to launch it for him, but no negotiation, sanction or aggression will ever deter Iran from its course. And just as the Israeli strikes on April 9, which were supposed to encourage Washington, London and Paris to conduct severe strikes on Syria, ended in a bitter failure, Israel only worsened its own situation yet again and finds itself alone in the face of the disastrous consequences of its actions, to the extent of the blind arrogance that triggered them.

What about Russia? Netanyahu’s presence in Moscow for the commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the USSR’s victory against Nazism, and reports that Russia would not deliver the S-300s to Syria, must not mislead us. Russia has invested far too much in Syria to allow anyone – be it Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, or Ankara – to reduce its efforts to nothing. Moscow said it would no longer tolerate Western strikes against Syria in case of a new chemical weapons masquerade, and that it is ready to provide Damascus not necessarily with the S-300 anti-aircraft system, but, according to Sergei Lavrov, with “whatever is required to help the Syrian army to deter aggression.” The current Syrian defense systems have already proven their worth – including the Pantsir, which is much more suited to the needs of the Syrian army – and allow us to envision the day when Israel loses its only advantage, namely air supremacy. That already was to no avail in 2006 against Hezbollah or 2014 against Gaza, without which its supposedly “invincible” ragtag army would literally crumble. Israel’s use of ground-to-ground missiles for the first time, and the concentration of attacks on Syrian anti-aircraft defenses – IDF released the video of the destruction of a Pantsir S-1 system, probably inactive– proves that it is well aware of its limitations.

It is obvious that Israeli aggressions against Syria will be increasingly costly, both for the Israeli air force and for its internal military bases and population, because of the determination of Syria and its allies (Hezbollah and Iran) to respond to any aggression, of their experience and new capabilities, and of their successes on the ground. The Resistance Axis – of which Russia is not a part – is now able to face Israel directly on its own, with a united front and without fear of escalation. As for Israel, already overwhelmed by the peaceful demonstrations in Gaza that must culminate on May 15, it is not ready for war against a single member of the Resistance Axis, let alone against several of them simultaneously. The new equation imposed by the Syrian army on May 10 is more fearsome for Israel than the prospect of the loss of another F-16, as Damascus has shown its determination to wage war on enemy territory, and to strike the Zionist entity in its depth.

The Resistance Axis will soon have its eyes fixed on the occupied Golan, that Syria has never given up liberating by armed struggle – a right conferred by international law itself, this territory being recognized as Syrian by all the international community: any Syrian operation there is a legal and legitimate act of resistance against Israel’s 1967 aggression in and subsequent occupation, even without further provocation. As early as May 2013, Hassan Nasrallah announced Hezbollah’s participation in the opening of a new frontline in Golan. In March 2017, the Golan Liberation Brigade was formed by Iraqi Hezbollah, Harakat al-Nujaba, a movement backed by Iran and involved in the liberation of Iraq and Syria from ISIS. Today, Syrian strikes in the occupied Golan unquestionably open up a new chapter in the history of the Israeli-Arab wars, in which Israel will increasingly be forced into a defensive position. Are we going to see the IDF building a wall on the border of the occupied Golan to hinder any future invasion, as is already the case on the Lebanese-Israeli border to prevent Hezbollah’s promised incursion into the Galilee? Anyway, the next war against Israel will drastically change the map of the Middle East.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria Imposes New Rules of Engagement on I$raHell

As CO2 Levels Soar Past ‘Troubling’ 410 ppm Threshold, Trump Kills NASA Carbon Monitoring Program

NOVANEWS

What worries one scientist most is that humanity is “continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have.”

Featured image: An animation shows how carbon dioxide moves around the planet. (Photo: NASA/YouTube)

As the Trump administration charges forward with its war on science by canceling a “crucial” carbon monitoring system at NASA, scientists and climate experts are sounding alarms over atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) that just surpassed a “troubling” threshold for the first time in human history.

“The reading from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii finds that concentrations of the climate-warming gas averaged above 410 parts per million [ppm] throughout April,” Chris Mooneywrote for the Washington Post. “The first time readings crossed 410 at all occurred on April 18, 2017, or just about a year ago.”

Climate Central

@ClimateCentral

Atmospheric CO2 set a new record last month: 410PPM

While the planet’s concentrations of carbon dioxide fluctuated between roughly 200 ppm and 280 ppm for hundreds of thousands of centuries, as the NASA chart below details, CO2 concentrations have soared since the start industrial revolution—and, without urgent global efforts to significantly alter human activities that produce greenhouse gas emissions, show no sign of letting up.

NASA

“As a scientist, what concerns me the most is not that we have passed yet another round-number threshold but what this continued rise actually means: that we are continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have,” Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, told Mooney.

While CO2 levels have passed 400 ppm in the Earth’s history, “it has been a long time. And scientists are concerned that the rate of change now is far faster than what Earth has previously been used to,” as Mooney explained:

In the mid-Pliocene warm period more than 3 million years ago, they were also around 400 parts per million—but Earth’s sea level is known to have been 66 feet or more higher, and the planet was still warmer than now.

As a recent federal climate science report (coauthored by Hayhoe) noted, the 400 parts per million carbon dioxide level in the Pliocene “was sustained over long periods of time, whereas today the global CO2 concentration is increasing rapidly.” In other words, Earth’s movement toward Pliocene-like conditions may play out in the decades and centuries ahead of us.

As climate scientists continue to warn about the global consequences of rising levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases—such as more intense and frequent extreme weather events—the Trump administration has pursued a multi-pronged anti-science agenda that includes rolling back regulations that aim to limit emissions and blocking future research.

Peter de Menocal@PdeMenocal

On the eve the planet crossed the highest measured CO2 levels, 410 ppm, NASA quietly cancels carbon monitoring research programhttp://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6389/586 

NASA cancels carbon monitoring research program

The administration of President Donald Trump has waged a broad attack on climate science conducted by NASA, including proposals to cut the budget of earth science research and kill off the Orbiting…

science.sciencemag.org

News of the record-high levels of atmospheric carbon came as Science reported that the Trump administration “quietly killed” NASA’s $10-million-a-year Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), which “has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon”—because, as 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben remarked sarcastically, “what you can’t see can’t cook you.”

Bill McKibben

@billmckibben

Trump kills crucial NASA work to measure carbon and methane. Because what you can’t see can’t cook you. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/05/trump-white-house-quietly-cancels-nasa-research-verifying-greenhouse-gas-cuts 

Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts

$10 million research line used satellites and aircraft to monitor carbon sources and sinks

sciencemag.org

Citing a NASA spokesman, Science explained:

“The White House has mounted a broad attack on climate science, repeatedly proposing cuts to NASA’s earth science budget, including the CMS, and cancellations of climate missions such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3). Although Congress fended off the budget and mission cuts, a spending deal signed in March made no mention of the CMS. That allowed the administration’s move to take effect.”

Canceling CMS likely has global ramifications, Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, pointed out, because the system monitors the Earth’s CO2 levels as nations that have signed on to the Paris climate agreement—from which Trump plans to withdraw—pursue policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” Gallagher said, calling the decision to kill the system “a grave mistake.”

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The US Senate Must Not Allow a Torturer to Become CIA Boss

In Charles Dickens’s novel “A Tale of Two Cities”, set during the French revolution of 1789, he draws the character of Madame Defarge. She, along with other members of the Tricoteuse, the knitting women, perch every day next to the guillotine, knitting into hats and socks the names of those to be executed, while watching the upper aristocracy and upper bourgeoisie being dispatched to their death one by one. They were regarded as respected sisters of the revolution.

I cannot help being reminded of her when I read the CV of the woman nominated by President Donald Trump to be the new head of the CIA, Gina Haspel. She is a career officer who ran a CIA “black site” in Thailand. She implemented the torture policies of president George W. Bush. She also, according to The Economist, transmitted her boss’s orders to destroy video evidence of brutal interrogations.

She ignored the UN Convention Against Torture, which the conservative president, Ronald Reagan, had successfully fought to be ratified. James Comey, the FBI director, another Republican, who was fired by Trump, wrote in his recent memoirs:

“I could not get away from the mental pictures of naked men chained to the ceiling in a cold, blazingly lit, cell for endless days.”

When the allies captured high-ranking members of the Nazi government and German generals, they wanted all the information they could get. They got most of it but they never used torture. What Bush, with the connivance of Haspel and her like, did would never have been allowed, yet the stakes then were much higher.

Immediately on attaining office, president Barack Obama banned torture. In sharp contrast during his campaign, Trump said he favoured bringing it back and a “hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”. Contradicting him, his secretary of defence, General James Mattis, says he does not believe in torture. He argues that he could extract from a prisoner the information needed with two chairs, a packet of cigarettes and a couple of bottles of beer.

The Mattis line follows the arguments of the 2014 report of the US Senate that examined, among others, the torture of the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh. He was waterboarded, which gives the sensation of drowning, 183 times. The report concluded that the information extracted from him could have been learnt without torture.

Primitive man, like other animals, followed his instincts and killed his enemy as swiftly as the job could be done. Archaeologists, examining skeletons, have found no evidence of torture.

For several hundred thousand years, torture did not exist. Only in the last few thousand has it become a weapon of state.

Rome tortured the early Christians. The Christian church repelled by this Roman practice, for a thousand years used its great strength to abolish torture. Until the time of Pope Innocent IV in the thirteenth century, it was practically unknown in the Western world.

The Inquisition brought it back. Heretics were forced to undergo a very systematic use of torture, while a magistrate sat close by logging carefully the instruments used.

In the 17th century, torture began to die out. In 1640, it was abolished in England by law. After the 1789 Revolution, France made the use of torture a capital offence. Most German states and Russia abolished it in the nineteenth century. Moreover, the European imperial powers did much to dampen its use in the many parts of the world where they had their empires.

During the twentieth century, torture returned with a vengeance. It reached such a scale that it dwarfed even the darkest Middle Ages. It was Mussolini’s fascists that were the first government to make torture an official policy. The blackshirts invented their own particular brand of torture; pumping a prisoner full of castor oil “to purge him of the will to exist”.

The German Nazis not only developed the concentration camps for mass extermination of the Jews, gypsies and homosexuals, they regularly used torture. Spain, under Franco, used torture until the 1970s. As late as 1981, Spanish police were found to have used torture against Basque nationalists.

In the United Kingdom during the civil war in Northern Ireland, torture was used in the 1960s and early 1970s mainly against the IRA. Hooding, loud, high-pitched noise, sleep and food deprivation were the main tools. It was uncovered by Irish newspapers and triggered a great row in Britain. Eventually it was banned.

In 1972, Amnesty International launched a campaign, supported by the Scandinavian countries and Holland, to abolish torture. But it took until 1984 to win a UN legally binding treaty. Bush and Trump have ignored it. So did the British government of Tony Blair.

With people like Gina Haspel in charge of the CIA, we can assume the worst. The Senate must not confirm her in office.

Posted in USA, C.I.AComments Off on The US Senate Must Not Allow a Torturer to Become CIA Boss

Trump Crossed the Rubicon and the World is Reacting

NOVANEWS

Trump crossed the Rubicon and the world is reacting. He decided to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA) signed in 2015 by Iran, the United States, Germany and all permanent members of the Security Council (P5+1), the fruit of more than a decade of planning. He then lit another match handed him by John Bolton and the “war parties” in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh to widen sanctions by including any nation doing business with Iran (“secondary sanctions”).

In short, unless JCPOA is perpetuated in defiance of Trump by treaty signatories minus the U.S., the agreement will be void. The Iran treaty withdrawal, together with the imposition of sanctions against Iran and any nation violating the Trump mandate has forcibly quickened the turn of the global wheel that already was heading away from American diktats to forge alternatives in global cooperative governance and more trustworthy alliances.

Trump’s latest shove of the wheel could now enlist the strongest EU nations (Germany, and France) to assist this momentum away from America, which in the real world will further isolate America from ninety-five percent of the world’s population. But in Trump’s world he aims to control it in the style of world autocrat, iconoclast and renegade through bullying, insults, sanctions, Tomahawk missiles and, if necessary, threatening to use “The Bomb”.

The headline at Brussel’s EurActiv after the Trump announcement read: “Trump becomes number one threat to European economy” (May 9). “Trump’s action has inflamed a transatlantic relationship already strained by his threat to impose tariffs on European products, along with his 2017 withdrawal from the Paris climate accord” (Politico, May 9). Germany, with France and Britain, has said it remains committed to the nuclear deal and has no intention of breaking off business ties with Iran as long as the Islamic Republic upholds its side of the agreement (Deutsche Welle, May 11). Some 120 German companies run operations with their own staff in Iran and some 10,000 German businesses trade with the country.

Der Spiegel (May 12) wrote “Clever resistance is necessary, as sad and absurd as that may sound. Resistance against America.”

At the time of Trump’s announcement, former Fox News staffer and US Ambassador to GermanyRichard Grenell tweeted:

“As @realDonaldTrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”

That dictatorial command might seem good international diplomacy to Fox News fans, but was taken correctly by Chancellor Angela Merkel and most Germans as an insult to their leaders, industry, sovereignty and nation.

Whether or not Mrs. Merkel’s meeting with Vladimir Putin results in an agreement to work together to uphold the Iran accord, it presently remains the desire of Russia, France, Britain and Germany to defend their respective “interests” against American threats that have no basis in international law, let alone morality. Quite possibly it now has become all too clear to Europe that it needs the protection of another superpower (like Russia) to defend itself against Donald J. Trump.

Furthermore, as the largest buyer of Iran oil, China certainly isn’t going to passively watch their lifeblood interrupted without a strong response.

Trump is resolving for Europeans one nagging question: “Can Trump be trusted?” As it stands the answer is NO, Trump cannot be trusted. And since Donald J. Trump is president of the United States and represents it, it translates to the United States cannot be trusted.

Since crossing the Rubicon, the future is uncertain but scenarios should be examined and one is this:

A sort of “mini-Axis” could evolve based, for now, solely on the sanction issues, but having the potential to enlarge into a full-Axis as more destructive maneuvers by Trump catapults most of the developed world (West and East) to form stronger ties and alliances with each other despite their preexisting differences (“the enemy of my enemy is my friend”). One Axis foreseeable is: EU-Russia-China vs. US-Israel-Saudi Arabia.

Trump is a president that was elected by less than one-half of voters. He will not be held entirely responsible for whatever will happen to the United States in the future. The Trump voters must share in that responsibility.

May 9 might be looked upon by future historians as the “official” beginning of the end of the American Empire.

If Donald J. Trump isn’t evicted from office by Americans, the world will evict America from the global community.

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Russia Is Already “Balancing” Iran in the Mideast

NOVANEWS

Russia’s predominant position in Syria & Iraqi Kurdistan places Moscow right in the middle of the misleadingly characterized “Shiite Crescent” and allows the Kremlin to “balance” Iranian influence in the Mideast better than any other country ever possibly could.

It’s impossible to ignore the geopolitical reality that the “progressive” faction of Russia’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) has been wildly successful in positioning their country as the supreme “balancing” force in 21st-century Eurasian geopolitics, especially in the Mideast, and this has become visibly obvious after the Putin-Netanyahu Summit in Moscow during last week’s Victory Day celebration. It’s evident that President Putin “gave the greenlight” to “Israel” to carry out its largest bombing in Syria since the 1973 war because this dramatic attack occurred just hours after Netanyahu left the Russian capital, and the only reason why Russia would “passively allow” this to happen is because it endeavors to restore “balance” to the region following the surge of Iranian influence there over the past couple of years. Ironically, Russia itself helped make this a reality, but that may have been one of the intended geopolitical consequences of its anti-terrorist intervention in Syria, one which would then enable it to “balance” that subsequent development through a newly strengthened alliance with “Israel”.

The Basics Of “Balancing”

To explain, the essence of Russia’s “balancing” strategy is that Moscow will generally assist the weakest party in any dispute in order to reestablish “parity” prior to proposing a “diplomatic solution” that it intends to mediate. At the time that it commenced its anti-terrorist mission, Iran was relatively weaker than “Israel”, but the two and half years that have passed since then have seen the regional “balance” decisively shift in Tehran’s favor to the point where the Islamic Republic now wields more asymmetrical power than the self-proclaimed “Jewish State”. This outcome was predicted by many analysts at the start of Russia’s intervention in Syria, but it’s now been skillfully used by the country’s “deep state” “progressives” in order to clinch their sought-after alliance with “Israel” and therefore solidify Moscow’s role as the regional “balancer” through an interconnected series of partnerships with all relevant Mideast actors. This is precisely what President Putin himself has been meticulously planning for years now as revealed by what he said in September 2001 near the beginning of his first term in office:

And we understand that all the positive experience accumulated over the years in the relations between Russia and the Arab countries and what has recently emerged between Russia and Israel, all that positive experience can be used to resolve this complicated situation. We are ready to put it at the disposal of the negotiating parties.” – Interview with the German Magazine Focus, 19 September, 2001

Over half a year later he elaborated on this grand strategy by adding in April 2002 that:

[Israelis] must see that Russia takes an even-handed position and pursues a policy aimed at settling the conflict and ensuring the interests of all the people who live in that region, including the interests of Israel.” – Excerpts from a Talk with German and Russian Media, 7 April, 2002

Put another way, the long-term geopolitical intentions of Russia’s 2015 anti-terrorist intervention in Syria were to fulfill President Putin’s plans of positioning his country as the ultimate “balancing” force in the Mideast, one which indirectly “lends a helping hand” to the presumably weaker party and then leverages the changed status quo that it helped bring into being in order to mediate a formal or “cold peace” between the two or more conflicting actors. Now that Iran has suddenly grown so strong in such a short period of time, Russia’s “balancing” efforts are now directed towards helping the newly and relatively weakened political entity – which in this case is “Israel”, a “politically inconvenient” fact to Western audiences that Iranian media nevertheless accurately reported on – reestablish “parity”, which is already happening through Moscow’s “passive acceptance” of “Israel’s” massive attacks against the stronger party’s (Iran’s) suspected military sites in Syria. That’s not all, though, since Russia is also poised to play a crucial “balancing” role through its predominant position in Iraqi Kurdistan that gives its presence in Syria an entirely new meaning.

Controlling The “Shiite Crescent”

It’s uncontestable that Russia is the most powerful force in Syria today, not only by virtue of its military controlling the Arab Republic’s airspace (and therefore indirectly facilitating “Israel’s” raids via the “deconfliction mechanism” coordination between the two) but also through the preferential energy deals that it was able to conclude with a thankful government that owes its very survival to Moscow’s decisive anti-terrorist intervention, but what most of the global public hasn’t noticed is that Russia holds similarly powerful sway in Iraqi Kurdistan as well, albeit not expressed through the headline-grabbing military form that it is in Syria. To its credit, Reuters reported in September 2017 that Russia became the top investor in this region through a $4 billion energy deal that it sealed with the autonomous government there, and it published a follow-up analysis about the political implications of this development in April. The author also wrote about this in depth in an August 2017 piece about the “Kurdish Kaleidoscope” and a February one asking whether it’s even possible to “betray” the Kurds.

The main point being elaborated upon in both analyses is that Russia strategically conceives of Iraqi Kurdistan as being a “fifth force” right in the middle of the quadri-national heart of the Mideast, thereby making it an irresistibly tempting partner to co-opt in its “progressives’” grand ambition to “balance” the region. Taken together, Russia’s unparalleled military influence in Syria pairs perfectly with its equally unparalleled energy counterpart in Iraqi Kurdistan to establish powerful “facts on the ground” that make Moscow the most important player along the so-called and misleadingly characterized “Shiite Crescent”, which is the transnational corridor that Iran’s enemies fear monger that it’s trying to build in connecting the Islamic Republic with Lebanon. Russia has no intention to play a disruptive role in this regard, but its “gatekeeper” presence right in the middle of Iran’s regularly denied but de-facto existing geopolitical project is obviously a key factor that its leadership must incorporate into all of its regional strategies going forward, especially after it became obvious that Russia is indirectly “balancing” its influence through an alliance with “Israel”.

The Necessary Niche

Russia has successfully carved out a necessary niche for itself in Mideast geopolitics by making itself the ultimate go-to broker for regional affairs, with all manner of political entities seeking its “balancing” “services” at one time or another in the past two and a half years. At first, Iran needed Russia to do what it could not, which is conduct a conventional anti-terrorist military intervention against Daesh in order to save Tehran’s only Arab ally. Throughout the course of this campaign and following the failed pro-American coup attempt against President Erdogan (which President Putin supposedly tipped him off about at the very last minute and saved his life), Turkey sought to have Russia safeguard its unstated “sphere of influence” in Syria as an informal quid-pro-quo for Ankara’s Eurasian pivot. Once Turkey accomplished its goal of crushing Kurdish separatism, Russia threw its weight behind this demographic’s weakened community in Northern Iraq in order to reestablish a degree of “balance”, after which Saudi Arabia took note of Moscow’s masterful multifaceted diplomacy and entered into a fast-moving rapprochement with it.

“Israel”, cramped in its occupied corner of the Mideast and watching this unprecedented “balancing” act unfold from a position of utter powerlessness after playing no part in it whatsoever, realized that it could also make strategic use of Russia’s “services” and correctly wagered that Moscow might take premier soft power pride in doing something worthwhile for America’s top ally that Washington itself isn’t even able to do. Accordingly, the Russian-“Israeli” alliance – originally formalized through the establishment of their “deconfliction mechanism” in September 2015 shortly before the commencement of Moscow’s anti-terrorist military intervention in Syria – was activated to full effect and with astounding impact in seeing the Eurasian Great Power passively facilitate the “Jewish State’s” “surgical strikes” against what Tel Aviv alleged were the Islamic Republic’s military sites in Syria, which unavoidably drew the instant attention of American strategists who realized that Russia could be counted on to “contain” Iran for their own reasons, mostly having to do with wanting to make it even more strategically dependent on Moscow than it already is.

Altogether, Russia’s “balancing” act has come full circle in the sense that it was originally enacted to improve Iran’s regional position but is now being used to indirectly counteract it, having filled a necessary niche for all relevant Mideast actors at one time or another in the brief span of only two and a half years thus far. The US is undoubtedly dangling the carrot of a “New Détente” before Russia in leading it to believe that playing a more robust “balancing” role might reap the “reward” of less multidimensional international pressure against it that could in turn enable President Putin to concentrate more fully on fixing his country’s many domestic problems and delivering on the promises that he made to his citizens. It’s unclear whether Russia will go as far as to actively “contain” Iran in the Mideast, but it nevertheless has the strategic capabilities in Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan to do so if it ever decided that this gamble would be worth the risk, though in all actuality it’ll probably continue to pursue this outcome indirectly.

Concluding Thoughts

For “right” or for “wrong”, and disregarding “moral”/”ethical” arguments that are irrelevant in determining the behavior of states in the Hyper-Realist “19th-Century Great Power Chessboard” paradigm through which they’re currently operating, Russia has come to fill the necessary geopolitical niche in becoming the ultimate “balancing” force in the Mideast. President Putin fulfilled his 2002 pledge to “Israel” in proving to the world that his country takes an “even-handed position” in all regional conflicts, with this being seen nowhere more obviously than the tricky “balancing” act that Russia is currently conducting in multi-managing the various rival forces participating in the Syrian proxy war. For the moment at least, Russia is working with “Israel” in order to indirectly mitigate the post-Daesh military influence of Iran and its Hezbollah allies in the Arab Republic, though it has the potential to take this even further into the Iraqi zone of competition by involving Tel Aviv’s historic Kurdish allies as well, though that has yet to happen and remains in the realm of scenario forecasting for now.

In any case, Russia’s present “balancing” efforts vis-à-vis Iran shouldn’t be interpreted as anything maliciously “personal” against the Islamic Republic since this strategy is really motivated by nothing more than geopolitics, which correspondingly means that it could theoretically change in Tehran’s favor provided that it’s once again considered to be the relatively weaker actor in the larger regional arrangement. As difficult as it may be for some observers to accept, Russia is only “balancing” Iran because the latter is so strong right now, but it could flexibly revert to “balancing” “Israel” or any of Iran’s other regional rivals in the future if they end up becoming too powerful by the time that everything is said and done, just like Iran ended up being as a result of Russia’s original “balancing” effort in 2015 which led to the current predicament. That won’t happen right away though just because Iranian influence really is on the rise right now, which is why the reality of Russia “balancing” Iran will probably remain a mainstay of Mideast geopolitics.

Posted in Iran, RussiaComments Off on Russia Is Already “Balancing” Iran in the Mideast


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