Archive | July 13th, 2018

The Holes in the Official Skripal Story

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In my last post I set out the official Government account of the events in the Skripal Case. Here I examine the credibility of this story. Next week I shall look at alternative explanations.

Russia has a decade long secret programme of producing and stockpiling novichok nerve agents. It also has been training agents in secret assassination techniques, and British intelligence has a copy of the Russian training manual, which includes instruction on painting nerve agent on doorknobs.

The only backing for this statement by Boris Johnson is alleged “intelligence”, and unfortunately the “intelligence” about Russia’s secret novichok programme comes from exactly the same people who brought you the intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programme, proven liars. Furthermore, the question arises why Britain has been sitting on this intelligence for a decade and doing nothing about it, including not telling the OPCW inspectors who certified Russia’s chemical weapons stocks as dismantled.

If Russia really has a professional novichok assassin training programme, why was the assassination so badly botched? Surely in a decade of development they would have discovered that the alleged method of gel on doorknob did not work? And where is the training manual which Boris Johnson claimed to possess? Having told the world – including Russia -the UK has it, what is stopping the UK from producing it, with marks that could identify the specific copy erased?

The Russians chose to use this assassination programme to target Sergei Skripal, a double agent who had been released from jail in Russia some eight years previously.

It seems remarkable that the chosen target of an attempt that would blow the existence of a secret weapon and end the cover of a decade long programme, should be nobody more prominent than a middle ranking double agent who the Russians let out of jail years ago. If they wanted him dead they could have killed him then. Furthermore the attack on him would undermine all future possible spy swaps. Putin therefore, on this reading, was willing to sacrifice both the secrecy of the novichok programme and the spy swap card just to attack Sergei Skripal. That seems highly improbable.

Only the Russians can make novichok and only the Russians had a motive to attack the Skripals.

The nub of the British government’s approach has been the shocking willingness of the corporate and state media to parrot repeatedly the lie that the nerve agent was Russian made, even after Porton Down said they could not tell where it was made and the OPCW confirmed that finding. In fact, while the Soviet Union did develop the “novichok” class of nerve agents, the programme involved scientists from all over the Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, as I myself learnt when I visited the newly decommissioned Nukus testing facility in Uzbekistan in 2002.

Furthermore, it was the USA who decommissioned the facility and removed equipment back to the United States. At least two key scientists from the programme moved to the United States. Formulae for several novichok have been published for over a decade. The USA, UK and Iran have definitely synthesised a number of novichok formulae and almost certainly others have done so too. Dozens of states have the ability to produce novichok, as do many sophisticated non-state actors.

As for motive, the Russian motive might be revenge, but whether that really outweighs the international opprobrium incurred just ahead of the World Cup, in which so much prestige has been invested, is unclear.

What is certainly untrue is that only Russia has a motive. The obvious motive is to attempt to blame and discredit Russia. Those who might wish to do this include Ukraine and Georgia, with both of which Russia is in territorial dispute, and those states and jihadist groups with which Russia is in conflict in Syria. The NATO military industrial complex also obviously has a plain motive for fueling tension with Russia.

There is of course the possibility that Skripal was attacked by a private gangster interest with which he was in conflict, or that the attack was linked to Skripal’s MI6 handler Pablo Miller’s work on the Orbis/Steele Russiagate dossier on Donald Trump.

Plainly, the British governments statements that only Russia had the means and only Russia had the motive, are massive lies on both counts.

The Russians had been tapping the phone of Yulia Skripal. They decided to attack Sergei Skripal while his daughter was visiting from Moscow.

In an effort to shore up the government narrative, at the time of the Amesbury attack the security services put out through Pablo Miller’s long term friend, the BBC’s Mark Urban, that the Russians “may have been” tapping Yulia Skripal’s phone, and the claim that this was strong evidence that the Russians had indeed been behind the attack.

But think this through. If that were true, then the Russians deliberately attacked at a time when Yulia was in the UK rather than when Sergei was alone. Yet no motive has been adduced for an attack on Yulia or why they would attack while Yulia was visiting – they could have painted his doorknob with less fear of discovery anytime he was alone. Furthermore, it is pretty natural that Russian intelligence would tap the phone of Yulia, and of Sergei if they could. The family of double agents are normal targets. I have no doubt in the least, from decades of experience as a British diplomat, that GCHQ have been tapping Yulia’s phone. Indeed, if tapping of phones is seriously put forward as evidence of intent to murder, the British government must be very murderous indeed.

Their trained assassin(s) painted a novichok on the doorknob of the Skripal house in the suburbs of Salisbury. Either before or after the attack, they entered a public place in the centre of Salisbury and left a sealed container of the novichok there.

The incompetence of the assassination beggars belief when compared to British claims of a long term production and training programme. The Russians built the heart of the International Space Station. They can kill an old bloke in Salisbury. Why did the Russians not know that the dose from the door handle was not fatal? Why would trained assassins leave crucial evidence lying around in a public place in Salisbury? Why would they be conducting any part of the operation with the novichok in a public area in central Salisbury?

Why did nobody see them painting the doorknob? This must have involved wearing protective gear, which would look out of place in a Salisbury suburb. With Skripal being resettled by MI6, and a former intelligence officer himself, it beggars belief that MI6 did not fit, as standard, some basic security including a security camera on his house.

The Skripals both touched the doorknob and both functioned perfectly normally for at least five hours, even able to eat and drink heartily. Then they were simultaneously and instantaneously struck down by the nerve agent, at a spot in the city centre coincidentally close to where the assassins left a sealed container of the novichok lying around. Even though the nerve agent was eight times more deadly than Sarin or VX, it did not kill the Skripals because it had been on the doorknob and affected by rain.

Why did they both touch the outside doorknob in exiting and closing the door? Why did the novichok act so very slowly, with evidently no feeling of ill health for at least five hours, and then how did it strike both down absolutely simultaneously, so that neither can call for help, despite their being different sexes, weights, ages, metabolisms and receiving random completely uncontrolled doses. The odds of that happening are virtually nil. And why was the nerve agent ultimately ineffective?

Detective Sergeant Bailey attended the Skripal house and was also poisoned by the doorknob, but more lightly. None of the other police who attended the house were affected.

Why was the Detective Sergeant affected and nobody else who attended the house, or the scene where the Skripals were found? Why was Bailey only lightly affected by this extremely deadly substance, of which a tiny amount can kill?

Four months later, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were rooting about in public parks, possibly looking for cigarette butts, and accidentally came into contact with the sealed container of a novichok. They were poisoned and Dawn Sturgess subsequently died.

If the nerve agent had survived four months because it was in a sealed container, why has this sealed container now mysteriously disappeared again? If Rowley and Sturgess had direct contact straight from the container, why did they not both die quickly? Why had four months searching of Salisbury and a massive police, security service and military operation not found this container, if Rowley and Sturgess could?

I am, with a few simple questions, demolishing what is the most ludicrous conspiracy theory I have ever heard – the Salisbury conspiracy theory being put forward by the British government and its corporate lackies.

My next post will consider some more plausible explanations of this affair.

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School of the Americas: Training Torturers & Secret Police for US-Backed Dictators Since 1946

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Over 64,000 soldiers have been trained to oppress, smash dissent, and maintain American imperial order since the “school” first opened.

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Featured image: A guest instructor debriefs students from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School after a field training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo)

This article was originally published on December 2015.

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For the past 69 years, many of the most notorious U.S.-backed South American dictators, along with their secret police and torturers, have learned their dark arts from a secretive American training facility.

Located in Fort Benning, Georgia, the facility changed its name from “School of the Americas” to “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” in 2001. Human rights advocates say the change was purely cosmetic, a result of the increasing pressure the facility faced from activists and other critics. In November, thousands protested outside Fort Benning in what has become an annual occurrence.

Originally founded in 1946 and based in Panama, it was expelled from the nation in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. According to SOA Watch, a nonprofit which seeks the closure of the torture school, hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, murdered or “disappeared” through the work of its 64,000 graduates.

It first became a target for activists over three decades ago, after repeated atrocities in El Salvador were linked to graduates of the school. In December of 1980, three Catholic nuns, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke, and Ita Ford, along with a Catholic lay missionary, Jean Donovan, were kidnapped by El Salvadoran soldiers who proceeded to torture, rape, and murder the four women under orders from the country’s military dictatorship in retaliation for their advocacy for the impoverished.

Protesters march to the School of the Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC).

Protesters march to the School of the Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC).

Roy Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran-turned-Catholic priest and a friend of two of the victims, discovered their killers had graduated from SOA, leading him to found SOA Watch and become a major organizer of the massive protests at the gates of Fort Benning.

In a Dec. 7 appearance on “The Empire Files,” journalist Abby Martin’s weekly news program that tackles American imperialism on Telesur, Bourgeois said his time in El Salvador was more terrifying than anything he saw in Vietnam.

“I’ve never seen such abuse of power, such brutality by the military,” he told Martin, adding:

“How could they rape and kill nuns who were working with the poor? How could they assassinate a bishop in church who’s talking about the poor?”   

In March of 1980, Óscar Romero, a Catholic bishop, was shot by a sniper in the pulpit, moments after he finished a sermon in which he demanded better human rights for El Salvadorans. Soldiers attacked his funeral with sniper rifles and bombs as well, killing dozens in attendance. The deeper Bourgeois investigated the atrocities in the country, the more ties he found between the soldiers spreading chaos and death and the SOA training.

But that’s far from the only massacre linked to SOA graduates, and it’s not even the largest. On Dec. 11, 1981, the El Salvadoran army wiped out the village of El Mozote, killing 800 civilians — but only after systematically raping, torturing, and beating the men, women and children in groups. According to Martin’s report, of the 12 officers cited in the war crime by the United Nations, 10 were SOA graduates.

These photos from the U.S. backed dirty war in El Salvador were taken from the book “El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers (1983)

These photos from the U.S. backed dirty war in El Mozote, El Salvador were taken from the book “El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers (1983)

Freelance journalist Ramona Wadiwriting for MintPress News in April, noted that the torture school has trained thousands of soldiers for countries from Chile to Guatemala in the past 20 years, and it continues to be linked to serious human rights violations. She noted a 2014 analysis by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Colombia-Europe-U.S. Human Rights Observatory, which found that “out of 25 Colombian graduates from 2001 to 2003, 12 had either been charged with ‘a serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed multiple extrajudicial killings.’”

Although the school touts an eight-hour course in human rights that’s now mandatory for students, Wadi noted that despite years of protest and “beyond the cosmetic reforms” adopted by the government, it’s still supplying the torturers and killers that support U.S. imperialism in Latin America.

Watch “The U.S. School That Trains Dictators & Death Squads” from “The Empire Files with Abby Martin”:

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Nazi regime Bulldozing Khan Al Ahmar

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Israel Is Bulldozing Khan Al Ahmar – and with It the Two-State Solution

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Israel finally built an access road to the West Bank village of Khan Al Ahmar last week, after half a century of delays. But the only vehicles allowed along it are the bulldozers scheduled to sweep away its 200 inhabitants’ homes.

If one community has come to symbolise the demise of the two-state solution, it is Khan Al Ahmar.

It was for that reason that a posse of European diplomats left their air-conditioned offices late last week to trudge through the hot, dusty hills outside Jerusalem and witness for themselves the preparations for the village’s destruction. That included the Israeli police viciously beating residents and supporters as they tried to block the advance of heavy machinery.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have submitted a formal protest. Their denunciations echoed those of more than 70 Democratic lawmakers in Washington in May – a rare example of US politicians showing solidarity with Palestinians.

It would be gratifying to believe that Western governments care about the inhabitants of Khan Al Ahmar – or the thousands of other Palestinians who are being incrementally cleansed by Israel from nearby lands but whose plight has drawn far less attention.

After all, the razing of Khan Al Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its population are war crimes.

But in truth Western politicians are more concerned about propping up the illusion of a peace process that expired many years ago than the long-running abuse of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

Western capitals understand what is at stake. Israel wants Khan Al Ahmar gone so that Jewish settlements can be built in its place, on land it has designated as “E1”.

That would put the final piece in place for Israel to build a substantial bloc of new settler homes to sever the West Bank in two. Those same settlements would also seal off West Bank Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the expected capital of a future Palestinian state, making a mockery of any peace agreement.

The erasure of Khan Al Ahmar has not arrived out of nowhere. Israel has trampled on international law for decades, conducting a form of creeping annexation that has provoked little more than uncomfortable shifting in chairs from Western politicians.

Khan Al Ahmar’s Bedouin inhabitants, from the Jahalin tribe, have been ethnically cleansed twice before by Israel, but these war crimes went unnoticed.

The first time was in the 1950s, a few years after Israel’s creation, when 80 per cent of Palestinians had been driven from their homes to clear the path for the creation of a Jewish state.

Although they should have enjoyed the protection of Israeli citizenship, the Jahalin were forced out of the Negev and into the West Bank, then controlled by Jordan, to make way for new Jewish immigrants.

A generation later in 1967, when they had barely re-established themselves, the Jahalin were again under attack from Israeli soldiers occupying the West Bank. The grazing lands the Jahalin had relocated to with their goats and sheep were seized to build a settlement for Jews only, Kfar Adumim, in violation of the laws of war.

Ever since, the Jahalin have dwelt in a twilight zone of Israeli-defined “illegality”. Like other Palestinians in the 60 per cent of the West Bank declared under Israeli control by the Oslo peace process, they have been denied building permits, forcing three generations to live in tin shacks and tents.

Israel has also refused to connect the village to the water, electricity and sewage grids, in an attempt to make life so unbearable the Jahalin would opt to leave.

When an Italian charity helped in 2009 to establish Khan Al Ahmar’s first school – made from mud and tyres – Israel stepped up its legal battle to demolish the village.

Now, the Jahalin are about to be driven from their lands again. This time they are to be forcibly re-settled next to a waste dump by the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, hemmed in on all sides by Israeli walls and settlements.

In the new location they will be forced to abandon their pastoral way of life. As resident Ibrahim Abu Dawoud observed: “For us, leaving the desert is death.”

In another indication of the Palestinians’ dire predicament, the Trump administration is expected to propose in its long-awaited peace plan that the slum-like Abu Dis, rather than East Jerusalem, serve as the capital of a future pseudo-Palestinian state – if Israel ever chooses to recognise one.

Khan Al Ahmar’s destruction would be the first demolition of a complete Palestinian community since the 1990s, when Israel ostensibly committed to the Oslo process.

Now emboldened by Washington’s unstinting support, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is racing ahead to realise its vision of a Greater Israel. It wants to annex the lands on which villages like Khan Al Ahmar stand and remove their Palestinian populations.

There is a minor hurdle. Last Thursday, the Israeli supreme court tried to calm the storm clouds gathering in Europe by issuing a temporary injunction on the demolition works.

The reprieve is likely to be short-lived. A few weeks ago the same court – in a panel dominated by judges identified with the settler movement – backed Khan Al Ahmar’s destruction.

The Supreme Court has also been moving towards accepting the Israeli government’s argument that decades of land grabs by settlers should be retroactively sanctioned – even though they violate Israeli and international law – if carried out in “good faith”.

Whatever the judges believe, there is nothing “good faith” about the behaviour of either the settlers or Israel’s government towards communities like Khan Al Ahmar.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ veteran peace negotiator, recently warned that Israel and the US were close to “liquidating” the project of Palestinian statehood.

Sounding more desperate than usual, the Europe Union reaffirmed this month its commitment to a two-state solution, while urging that the “obstacles” to its realisation be more clearly identifed.

The elephant in the room is Israel itself – and its enduring bad faith. As Khan Al Ahmar demonstrates all too clearly, there will be no end to the slow-motion erasure of Palestinian communities until western governments find the nerve to impose biting sanctions on Israel.

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Stomping in Britain: Donald Trump and May’s Brexit

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What a rotten guest, but then again, that was to be expected.  Ahead of his visit to Britain, there was some indignation that US President Donald Trump should even be visiting in the first place.  Protesters were readying their assortment of paraphernalia in anticipation.  Walls of noise were promised.  Trump, on the other hand, was bullish after his NATO performance, which did a good deal to stir and unsettle partners and leaders.  On leaving Brussels, his singular account was that all partners had, in fact, agreed to a marked rise in defence spending. 

Having settled into dinner with British Prime Minister Theresa May at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, there was a whirring buzz that the president had been busy, having given an interview to that infamous rag of reaction The Sun newspaper.  It was spectacularly poor form, featuring a series of pot shots against his host on how she had handled Brexit negotiations so far.  Not that May’s handling has been brilliantly smooth. Characterised by Tory saboteurs, confusion and ill-expertise, the British tangle with the European Union has persisted with barnacle tenacity.

This did not inspire confidence from Trump, and the Chequers agreement that May had reached with cabinet members was deemed “very unfortunate”.  For the president, a Brexit softened and defanged to keep it bound up in some form in the EU could well spell an end to a separate, post-separation trade pact with the United States.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.”

The sting was greater for the fact that May was using the dinner to pitch her case for a separate trade arrangement.

“As we prepare to leave the European Union, we have an unprecedented opportunity to do more.”

Any free trade agreement between the countries, she asserted, would create “jobs and growth here is in the UK and right across the United States.” Bureaucracy would be defeated in the transatlantic venture.

Trump, as he tends to, was operating on a different frequency, claiming that he, brilliant chap that he is, had the formula for how May might best get a workable Brexit through. If only the prime minister had listened instead of chasing her own flight of fancy.

May was not the only British politician rostered for a tongue lashing.  London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who reached some prominence criticising Trump’s election promise to temporarily suspend Muslim immigration to the United States, also came in for special mention.

“I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad.”

Reflecting on the problems facing European cities as a result, he told The Sun that London had “a mayor who has done a terrible job in London.  He has done a terrible job.”  The mayor had blotted his copybook by doing “a very terrible job on terrorism” and, just for good measure, crime in general.

Not content at leaving it at that, Trump revealed that childish vulnerability typical in unstoppable, and encouraged egomaniacs. This had undoubtedly been spurred on by Khan’s refusal to ban the flying of a 20ft blimp depicting Trump as an indignant, orange infant, nappy and all.

“I think [Khan] has not been hospitable to a government that is very important.  Now he might not like the current President, but I represent the United States.”

Having said earlier in the week that the issue of whether May should continue a British prime minister was “up to the people”, Trump was less judicious in his liberating interview. In what could be construed as an act of direct meddling (foreign interference for the US imperium is genetic, programmed and inevitable), Trump had his own views about who would make a suitable replacement.  The blundering, now ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a person with his own conditioning of Trumpism, would “make a great prime minister.”

For those incensed by Trump’s say in the matter, it is worth noting that his predecessor was no less terse in warning, not just the Cameron government, but the British people, that leaving the EU would banish Britain to the end of any trade agreement queue.  Britain was far better being part of a collective voice generated by the EU, rather than a single power going its own way.  At “some point down the line,” President Barack Obama explained at a press conference held at the Foreign Office on a visit in April 2016, “there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done.”

Perhaps the most striking delusion that runs so deeply through the Brexit pathology is the idea the Britannia’s flag will again fly high, and that power shall, mysteriously, be reclaimed by a nation made anew.  Other powers will heed that; respect shall be observed.  What Presidents Obama and Trump have shown from different sides of the coin is that such hopes might be terribly misplaced.

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Nazi jets strike Gaza (VIDEO)

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Israeli jets strike Hamas in Gaza in response to ‘terror acts & violent riots’ at border (VIDEO)
Nazi fighter jets have carried out strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza strip, in response to the violence and “terrorist acts” the group instigated at the border, as well as cross-border rocket launches, the Nazi army said.

“Tonight, IDF fighter jets targeted an attack terror tunnel in southern Gaza, in addition to several terror sites throughout Gaza, among them complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror training facility,” Nazi said, posting a video of the strike.

 Nazi army Spokesperson

‘Tonight, IDF fighter jets targeted an attack terror tunnel in southern Gaza, in addition to several terror sites throughout Gaza, among them complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror training facility’

The strikes, the army said, were conducted in response to Hamas-instigated violence along the security fence at the Israeli-Gaza border, and to the cross-border arson attacks which, the Nazi army claimed, damages Israeli land on a daily basis.

© Mahmud Hams

During the Nazi raid, Hamas militants reportedly retaliated by launching 17 rockets, five of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. An additional 14 mortar shells were launched by militants throughout the night, one of which was intercepted by the air defenses. “Hamas is responsible for the events transpiring in Gaza and emanating from it and will bear the consequences for its actions,” the Nazi army said.

When the sirens sounded in the Eshkol and Esdot Hanegev Regional Councils, the families woken up in the middle of the night only “had seconds to run to bomb shelters,” the Nazi army added, without elaborating on whether any of the Hamas projectiles caused any damage.

Earlier in the day, during the weekly Great March of Return protest, an Nazi officer was moderately injured by a grenade thrown from the Gaza Strip. The Nazi retaliated with live fire, killing a Palestinian teen and injuring 220 others throughout the day, Wafa reported. In the 100 days since the weekly rallies began, at least 138 people, including 19 minors, were killed. Around 15,000 protesters have been injured since March 30.

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The War on Syria: Driving Home the Truth and the Need to Act Now

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The war on Syria is remarkable on many levels.  One of these levels is the success of Western propagandists to prevent the truth from attaining widespread acceptance.

The truth has always been available, but rarely accepted, even when admissions of culpability in the highest of crimes comes from credible Western sources. What could be more damning than these admissions?

Similarly, reputable researchers confirmed long ago what broad-based Western audiences still refuse to accept:

On-the-ground evidence of liberated areas continues to reveal the monstrous crimes of the West’s terrorist proxies, and it continues to demonstrate the on-going culpability of the West in the highest of international crimes. What could be more straightforward than this? (There’s even a note explaining that the “gifts” are from the USA.)

the Lemniscat@theLemniscat

What the Syrian Army found in al-Hirak, Daraa: “Assistance to the Syrian people from the USA”

Did US give TOW-2A missiles to FSA so they could share them with
al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) to help them kill Syrians?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVoAkRKS5ms 
(video via @r_u_vid )

Perhaps what is missing is another truth.  Nobody except a tiny transnational oligarch class benefits from all of this death and misery.  And the benefits accrued to this parasitical class are all short-term besides.

All of the public monies that the Pentagon and the military industrial complexes of a host of nations (including Canada) are siphoning from the masses serves to impoverish all but the “elites”.

Much of North America is being increasingly “thirdworldized” (to borrow a term from Michael Parenti).   Prof. James Petras, for his part, explains that 

“Billionaires in the arms industry and security/mercenary conglomerates receive over $700 billion dollars from the federal budget, while over 100 million US workers lack adequate health care and their children are warehoused in deteriorating schools.” 1

Maybe these obscured realities will help drive home the point that the West’s current trajectories of globalized war and poverty need to be terminated, NOW.

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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.

Note

1. Prof. James Petras, “How Billionaires Become Billionaires.” Global Research. 5 October, 2017.  (https://www.globalresearch.ca/how-billionaires-become-billionaires/5612125) Accessed 11 July, 2018.


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research.

Voices from Syria 

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

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NATO: Trudeau Will Have to Put Canada’s Military Where His Mouth Is

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At the NATO meeting going on in Brussels (July 11-12), Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tries to outsmart the US master of deception, Donald Trump, with old-fashioned Canadian rhetoric. [1] But no such luck for Canada.

Trump appears to up the antes for the NATO members by asking to increase their contributions to 4% of GDP from just asking to fulfill their current commitment of paying 2%. This seems to be the classic bargain; ask for double in order to settle for half.

Trudeau basically replies, forget the money; let’s focus on the work NATO has to do better. And he goes on suggesting

“to promote the peace, security, and strength of our true democracies and those democratic principles, which are under threat everywhere around the world it seems.”

We have to admit that he is totally in sync with his minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, on this.

Never mind that it doesn’t make any logical sense to have the largest military organization in the world to “promote” peace, or “security”, or “true democracies”, when the opposite is precisely what is happening in front of our collective eyes. If there are any “democratic principles…under threat”, it is at the hands of the NATO member states, including Canada.

However, Trump’s bait was thrown and Trudeau bit it for the second time. The first time was when Trump called him “weak” following the G-7 meeting about a month ago.

The insecure Trudeau must have been preparing for this in order to show that he is strong, and surely wanted to sound very tough on the first day of the NATO meeting calling on the US emperor. But he didn’t realize that now he will have to put Canada’s military (and budget) where his mouth is! Canada is already spending 1.3% of its GDP on defense. Defense from what? We may ask. Are Canadians ready to forego our own peace, security and democratic principles in order to interfere and cause havoc in foreign sovereign countries? Are Canadians prepared to fork out more money for the military? Remember this question when the next budget comes down the pipe in Parliament.

And now Trudeau cannot and will not turn back on his implied pro-war commitment because he really dug in further by saying that the NATO alliance is “as necessary now as it was at the height of the Cold War.” I am sure that Chrystia Freeland must have added this statement in his speech.

If Trump had designed his tactic, I would start to believe that he is really a good “negotiator”, but actually I believe that the Trudeau government foreign policy is really out of sync. 

Note

[1] https://sputniknews.com/world/201807111066267572-trudeau-vs-trump-nato-summit/ 

Featured image is from CTV News.

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British Collusion and Criminality. Triggering Anti-Russian Sentiment. Creating a Pretext for War?

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“Collusion continues not between Trump and Russians, but between intelligence agencies, the media and American politicians with hidden agendas.”

Most people believe that Donald Trump owes his presidency to Russian activity because they have been told this repeatedly for the past two years. There was indeed high level collusion taking place in the 2016 presidential campaign but it wasn’t carried out by Trump. It was Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee who acted in concert with intelligence assets in the United States and in the United Kingdom.The British government continues to manufacture false flag incidents, force international agencies to do its bidding, and push for regime change in Syria. Having failed to defeat Trump, they kept up the campaign to cover their tracks, escape blame for Hillary Clinton’s failure, and maintain the foreign policy status quo.

A law firm retained by the Democratic National Committee paid for the opposition research undertaken by former MI6 agent, Christopher Steele . Steele produced a dossier alleging that Trump was compromised by the Russian government and shopped it to the FBI, CIA, influential journalists and politicians like Senator John McCain. The dossier was used to obtain a FISA surveillance warrant against Trump aide Carter Page but the DNC connection was not disclosed to the judge.

“Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee acted in concert with intelligence assets in the United States and in the United Kingdom.”

Steele isn’t the only British spook in the story. A man named Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, is a business partner of Stefan Halper, a CIA asset who also spied on Donald Trump. Halper had contacts with Page and George Papadopoulos, two men now under indictment by Robert Mueller’s special investigation. The lesser lights of the Trump team were no match for seasoned professionals who get protection from the New York Times. The Times calls Halper “an FBI informant ” and tries to claim that is somehow different from being a spy.

While Russia is vilified at every turn the British government conducts very public and very shady business which could conceivably impact both countries. The case of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal has the British government’s finger prints all over it. There is no reason for Russia to poison a former spy whom they had swapped eight years earlier. The only logical conclusion is that the act was carried out with the goal of embarrassing Vladimir Putin and creating a possible pretext for war. The Skripal case was soon followed by questionable reporting of yet another chemical weapons attack in Syria which resulted in a short lived United States, British and French attack on that country.

“The Skripal ‘poisoning’ was carried out with the goal of embarrassing Vladimir Putin and creating a possible pretext for war.“

It is the British who use lies and trickery to sway public opinion into supporting a wider war in Syria. Three months after the Skripals were attacked another pair of Britons are said to have been poisoned with Novichok, a chemical weapon originally produced by Russia but which now can be made anywhere. One of the victims died and the claims of Russian involvement have suddenly become much more dangerous.

This second poisoning took place less than one week after the UK pressured the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to take on the role of judge and juror. No longer will the OPCW just determine if chemical weapons have been used, but they will also be tasked with assigning blame, too. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson proudly stated,

“The U.K. has led the diplomatic efforts to secure this action.”

Collusion continues not between Trump and Russians, but between intelligence agencies, the media and American politicians with hidden agendas. While the public are fed a steady diet of tales of an unfree press in Russia, it is the British press which has been censored by its government. A Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice (D Notice) has been issued which prevents them from reporting fully on the Skripal case. Most Americans are unaware that the British government may prevent the media from reporting on any subject or person they choose. The person being protected now may be a man named Pablo Miller.

“While the public are fed a steady diet of tales of an unfree press in Russia, it is the British press which has been censored by its government.”

Miller was Skripal’s MI6 handler and was also employed at Christopher Steele’s firm Orbis. Miller and Steele may have involved Skripal in writing the anti-Trump dossier. While Americans are given endless misinformation making Russia look like the foreign interloper in their nation’s affairs it is actually the British deep state that is well connected to American media and politicians.

The Russiagate purveyors constantly say, “Connect the dots.” If there are any dots to connect they run from the DNC to former MI6 spies to CIA assets to Russian double agents to American intelligence to alleged chemical weapons attacks used to justify war or to stop the upcoming Trump and Putin summit. It is all being used to further the now obligatory anti-Russian propaganda that is pervasive on both sides of the Atlantic.

Anti-Russia sentiment has been stoked for two years straight and with expert precision. Any counter narratives have been obscured with equal precision. Honest discourse is now nearly impossible and the likelihood of public support for anything up to and including hot war between nuclear powers has increased. The world is a more dangerous place but not because of Russia. As always the United States and its allies are the cause of turmoil. This time they may have created dangers that they are unable to contain.

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Syrian Army Retakes More Villages ‘Video’

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies regained the areas of Tafas, Yadudah and Tal Ashary in the northwestern countryside of Daraa after militants there had surrendered. Units of the Russian Military Police were deployed in Tafas.

Separately, government forces seized French-made APILAS anti-tank weapons from local members of the Free Syrian Army. According to Syrian pro-government activists, these weapons were supplied to militants through Jordan.

The SAA also repelled an ISIS attack in the key hills of Brakat and Alia in eastern al-Suwayda killing several members of ISIS. According to pro-militant sources, there were also casualties among SAA troops.

On July 10 and 11, the Syrian Air Force carried out a series of strikes on positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies in  al-Rami, Mozra, al-Najeya, Kinda, Urum al-Jawz, Frikeh, Muhambal and Bsanqul in the province of Idlib.

These strikes were a response to a recent successful attack by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham on SAA positions in northern Latakia in which at least 25 SAA soldiers and officers were killed.

The US-led coalition has supplied the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with 200 more trucks with weapons, Turkey’s TRT TV reported on July 10 quoting a source in the SDF. According to TRT, the new supplies are aimed at supporting the SDF’s operation against ISIS cells in the southern part of Hasakah province.

Despite claims of Turkish leadership that Washington agreed on Ankara’s request to halt military supplies to the SDF, the US continued providing the group with weapons and munition. These supplies continue to fuel tensions between Washington and Ankara.

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Gaza: The Criminalization of War

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This review article is prepared in support of  the author’s presentation to The Criminalization of War: Gaza, Conference event organized by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

*

Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF),

Monday July 16, 2018, 10.30am. 

AlBukhary Building, 5th Floor,

No. 88, Jalan Perdana, Taman Tasek Perdana, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: +60 3-2092 7248 

***

“The Criminalization of War: Gaza” will examine:

The ongoing crimes committed against the people of Palestine,

The broader process of Israeli territorial expansion,

Israel and the criminalization of war as defined by the Kuala Lumpur Declaration launched by Tun Mahathir Mohamad in 2005,

The mounting tide of Islamophobia

The role of the “Global War on Terrorism” as a pretext to wage war on the broader Middle East,

The propaganda campaign directed against Palestine, 

The recent history of Israeli aggression against the People of Palestine including the strategic and geopolitical dimensions, 

The Israeli plan to confiscate Gaza’s offshore natural gas reserves.

For further details on the July 16th meeting on Criminalizing War: Gaza in Kuala Lumpur click image above to access the PGPF facebook page

For Michel Chossudovsky’s other presentations in Malaysia under the auspices of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

see programme below (click image to enlarge):

I

INTRODUCTION

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is a criminal undertaking: Gaza is a concentration camp, the World’s largest open air prison  from which no one can escape. 

Two million Palestinians live  under an Israeli siege. Israel controls the entry of essential goods including food, water, energy and medicine. Israel also controls Gaza’s territorial waters in derogation  of international law.

The Zionist project supports the Jewish settlement movement. More broadly it involves a policy of killing, impoverishing and excluding Palestinians from Palestine with a view to eventually implementing the annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza to the State of Israel:

Today, six million Palestinians dispersed in various refugee camps are denied the right of return to their ancestral Palestine; the other six million lived under occupation in Gaza and the West Bank.  For twelve years, two million Palestinians have been imprisoned under a brutal land and sea military blockade in Gaza.

During this time there were three major military assaults where Gaza was relentlessly bombed for weeks. Recently, since 30 March 2018, unarmed Gaza demonstrators calling for the Right of Return are shot at with high grade military assault rifles leaving more than 124 dead and 13,000 severely wounded with hundreds of amputees and potential amputees. (Dr Swee Ang, Global Research, July 2018

The crimes committed by Israel against the people of Palestine, with the tacit support of Western governments must be addressed in the broader context of the criminalization of war.

II

THE GREATER ISRAEL PROECT 

The expansionist policies of the State of Israel including the annexation of the illegally occupied territories, not to mention the “Greater Israel” project of territorial extension are an integral part of the US-led military agenda in Middle East.

When viewed in the current context, the siege on Gaza and the Zionist Plan for the Middle East are related to the US-NATO military agenda including the US-led 2003 invasion of  Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing wars on Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

There is a broader US-NATO-Israel war crimes agenda under the thrust of the so-called “Global War on Terrorism” which serves as a pretext for the bombing of civilians under the pretext of  going after ISIS-Daesh.

The “Greater Israel” project consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of a US-Israeli expansionist project, with the support of NATO and Saudi Arabia. In this regard, the Saudi-Israeli rapprochement is from Netanyahu’s viewpoint a means to expanding Israel’s spheres of influence in the Middle East as well as confronting Iran. Needless to say, the “Greater Israel” project is consistent with America’s imperial design.

Greater Israel would create a number of proxy States. It would include parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Sinai, as well as parts of  Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (See map). According to Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya in a 2011 Global Research article,   The Greater Israel Yinon Plan should be viewed as a continuation of Britain’s colonial design in the Middle East:

“[The Yinon plan] is an Israeli strategic plan to ensure Israeli regional superiority. It insists and stipulates that Israel must reconfigure its geo-political environment through the balkanization of the surrounding Arab states into smaller and weaker states.

Greater Israel” requires the breaking up of the existing Arab states into small states.

“The [Yinon Plan] plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1)become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation…  This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme.” (Yinon Plan)

Viewed in this context, the US-NATO led wars on Syria and Iraq are part of  the process of Israeli territorial expansion.

In this regard, the defeat of US-Saudi-Israeli sponsored terrorists (ISIS, Al Nusra) by Syrian Forces with the support of Russia, Iran and Hizbollah constitute a significant setback for Israel.

III

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF WAR

US-NATO-Israeli War Crimes: The Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalize War

The State of Israel is responsible for extensive war crimes.

In turn the US-NATO led war applied Worldwide is a criminal undertaking under the disguise of counter-terrorism. It violates the Nuremberg Charter, the US constitution and the UN charter. According to former chief Nuremberg prosector Benjamin Ferencz, in relation to the 2003 invasion of Iraq:

“a prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity — that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.”

Moreover, the evidence amply confirms that the United States of America is a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” and that the campaign against the Islamic State is a smokescreen used by the US and its allies including Israel to justify in the eyes of public opinion its global war of conquest.

Following in the footsteps of Nuremberg, the objective of the December 2005 Kuala Lumpur initiative led by Tun Mahathir Mohamad was to criminalize war and eventually abolish war.

Let us recall the fundamental principles contained in the Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalize War under the helm of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister of Malaysia.

“Killings in war are as criminal as the killings within societies in times of peace. 

Since killings in peace time are subject to the domestic law of crime, killings in war must likewise be subject to the international law of crimes.

This should be so irrespective of whether these killings in war are authorized or permitted by domestic law.”

Since the adoption of the KL Initiative to Criminalize war in December 2005, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) has passed two important  judgements:

against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et al for war crimes in Iraq,

and against the State of Israel on charges of genocide against the people of Palestine.

More than ever the Kuala Lumpur Initiative launched almost thirteen years ago in December 2005 by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should be widely understood and applied.

What is at stake is the universal recognition of the value of human life, solidarity and understanding between nationalities, ethnic groups and religions, as well as respect for national sovereignty.

These are the preconditions for World peace. As outlined in the Kuala Lumpur declaration: “peace is the essential condition for the survival and well-being of the human race”.

In contrast to these broad principles which define human values, the US military and financial establishment and its allies (including the State of Israel) are intent upon destroying and destabilizing sovereign countries as part of an imperial agenda, through acts of war and economic plunder, the end result of which is the transformation of sovereign nations into open economic territories, under the jurisdiction of US approved proxy regimes.

To no avail, since 2008, both presidents Obama and Trump have followed in the footsteps of George W. Bush. Together with America’s NATO allies, they have not only supported terrorist organizations, they have covertly supported terrorist insurgencies, waged extensive bombing campaigns against Libya (2011), Syria, Yemen and Iraq (2014-), drone attacks and targeted assassinations against Pakistan (2004-) among other military-intelligence operations.

Under the Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalize War which was adopted under the helm of Tun Mahathir,

“All national leaders who initiate aggression must be subjected to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.”

Let us be crystal clear: Consistent with Nuremberg, the above statement applies to president Donald Trump and the heads of State and heads of government of NATO countries as well as Israel, which have endorsed the killings in Palestine, the extensive carpet bombing operations directed against Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, resulting in the death of countless civilians.

IV

“THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM”

War Propaganda and the Demonization of Muslims: A Criminal Undertaking under International Law

An extensive propaganda campaign has been launched with a view to upholding US-NATO-Israeli military actions in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine as humanitarian endeavours, as part of an alleged crusade against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. In this regard, acts of resistance by Palestine against illegal occupation are presented as acts of terrorism.

The Pentagon, NATO and Israel are the protagonists of war and war crimes. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are presented as the “outside enemy” which threatens the Western World, when in fact Al Qaeda and the ISIS are supported and financed by the Western military alliance as well as the State of Israel out of the Golan heights.

In 2014, Prime minister Netanyahu confirmed in a semi-official statement that Israel is supporting Al Nusrah fighters out of the Golan Heights.  The IDF top military brass  acknowledged that  “global jihad elements inside Syria” including foreign mercenaries are supported by Israel.

Netanyahu visits Israel’s Hospital Facility for Al Qaeda affiliated rebels in the occupied Golan   

The Jerusalem Post acknowledged that the hospital is being used to support the jihadist insurgency.

(JP, February 19, 2014)

In turn,  a hate campaign has been launched against Muslim countries as well as Muslim communities within Western countries, which has reached a new threshold under the Trump adminstration.

While the West has initiated a Worldwide demonization campaign against Muslims, the millions of victims of US-NATO led wars in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen  are predominately Muslims. Moreover, in both Syria, Iraq and Palestine the Christian communities have also been targeted, the cultural heritage of Muslims and Christians in Mesopotamia has been decimated by US,  Saudi and Israeli sponsored terrorists.

The crimes and atrocities committed by the Western military alliance in Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo are beyond description.  These crimes have been amply documented in the 2012 Judgment of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld,  et al

The Global War on Terrorism: The Political Consensus

Sustained by media disinformation, the Global War on Terrorism is now part of a far-reaching political consensus in Western countries. It has also been used by Western governments to justify and implement “anti-terrorist” legislation within their respective countries.

The fact that the “Global War on Terrorism” is endorsed by the so-called “international community” and rubber-stamped by the United Nations Security Council does not, however,  provide it legitimacy under international law. Despite these endorsements, it nonetheless constitutes a diabolical criminal undertaking, which is fundamentally based on a Lie.

When the Lie becomes the Truth and War becomes Peace, there is no turning backwards.

The legitimacy of the Global War on Terrorism is sustained by media disinformation and war propaganda. In this regard, the various actions intended to deliberately mislead public opinion, obfuscate the atrocities of America’s led wars and justify war on humanitarian grounds, are categorized as criminal acts of war propaganda, under Nuremberg.

V

ISRAELI AGGRESSION AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF PALESTINE:

RECENT HISTORY (2001-2018)

It is important to focus on the historical evolution of Israeli aggression involving the transformation of Gaza into the World’s largest open air prison.

Operation Justified Vengeance (2001)

“Operation Justified Vengeance” was presented in July 2001 to the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon by IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, under the title “The Destruction of the Palestinian Authority and Disarmament of All Armed Forces”.

“A contingency plan, codenamed Operation Justified Vengeance, was drawn up last June [2001] to reoccupy all of the West Bank and possibly the Gaza Strip at a likely cost of “hundreds” of Israeli casualties.” (Washington Times, 19 March 2002).

According to Jane’s ‘Foreign Report’ (July 12, 2001) the Israeli army under Sharon had updated its plans for an “all-out assault to smash the Palestinian authority, force out leader Yasser Arafat and kill or detain its army”.

“Bloodshed Justification”

The “Bloodshed Justification” was an essential component of the military-intelligence agenda. The killing of Palestinian civilians was justified on “humanitarian grounds.” Israeli military operations were carefully timed to coincide with the suicide attacks:

The assault would be launched, at the government’s discretion, after a big suicide bomb attack in Israel, causing widespread deaths and injuries, citing the bloodshed as justification. (Tanya Reinhart, Evil Unleashed, Israel’s move to destroy the Palestinian Authority is a calculated plan, long in the making, Global Research, December 2001, emphasis added)

The Dagan Plan 

“Operation Justified Vengeance” was also referred to as the “Dagan Plan”, named after General (ret.) Meir Dagan, who  headed Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.

Reserve General Meir Dagan was Sharon’s national security adviser during the 2000 election campaign. The plan was apparently drawn up prior to Sharon’s election as Prime Minister in February 2001. “According to Alex Fishman writing in Yediot Aharonot, the Dagan Plan consisted in destroying the Palestinian authority and putting Yasser Arafat ‘out of the game’.” (Ellis Shulman, “Operation Justified Vengeance”: a Secret Plan to Destroy the Palestinian Authority, March 2001):

“As reported in the Foreign Report [Jane] and disclosed locally by Maariv, Israel’s invasion plan — reportedly dubbed Justified Vengeance — would be launched immediately following the next high-casualty suicide bombing, would last about a month and is expected to result in the death of hundreds of Israelis and thousands of Palestinians. (Ibid, emphasis added)

The “Dagan Plan” envisaged the so-called “cantonization” of the Palestinian territories whereby the West Bank and Gaza would be totally cut off from one other, with separate “governments” in each of the territories. Under this scenario, already envisaged in 2001, Israel would:

 “negotiate separately with Palestinian forces that are dominant in each territory-Palestinian forces responsible for security, intelligence, and even for the Tanzim (Fatah).” The plan thus closely resembles the idea of “cantonization” of Palestinian territories, put forth by a number of ministers.” Sylvain Cypel, The infamous ‘Dagan Plan’ Sharon’s plan for getting rid of Arafat, Le Monde, December 17, 2001)


From Left to Right: Dagan, Sharon, Halevy

The Dagan Plan has established continuity in the military-intelligence agenda. In the wake of the 2000 elections, Meir Dagan was assigned a key role. “He became Sharon’s “go-between” in security issues with President’s Bush’s special envoys Zinni and Mitchell.”  He was subsequently appointed Director of the Mossad by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in August 2002. In the post-Sharon period, he remained head of Mossad. He was reconfirmed in his position as Director of Israeli Intelligence by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in June 2008.

Meir Dagan, in coordination with his US counterparts, has been in charge of various military-intelligence operations. It is worth noting that Meir Dagan as a young Colonel had worked closely with defense minister Ariel Sharon in the raids on Palestinian settlements in Beirut in 1982. (Sabra and Shatila) The 2009 ground invasion of Gaza, in many regards, bear a canny resemblance to the 1982 military operation led by Sharon and Dagan.

Continuity: From Sharon  to Olmert 

Olmert and Sharon

It is important to focus on a number of key events from the 2001 Dagan Plan to the killings in Gaza under “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008-2009:

1. The assassination in November 2004 of Yaser Arafat.

This assassination had been on the drawing board since 1996 under “Operation Fields of Thorns”. According to an October 2000 document “prepared by the security services, at the request of then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, stated that ‘Arafat, the person, is a severe threat to the security of the state [of Israel] and the damage which will result from his disappearance is less than the damage caused by his existence’”. (Tanya Reinhart, Evil Unleashed, Israel’s move to destroy the Palestinian Authority is a calculated plan, long in the making, Global Research, December 2001. Details of the document were published in Ma’ariv, July 6, 2001.).

Arafat’s assassination was ordered in 2003 by the Israeli cabinet. It was approved by the US which vetoed a United Nations Security Resolution condemning the 2003 Israeli Cabinet decision. Reacting to increased Palestinian attacks, in August 2003, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz declared “all out war” on the militants whom he vowed “marked for death.”

“In mid September, Israel’s government passed a law to get rid of Arafat. Israel’s cabinet for political security affairs declared it “a decision to remove Arafat as an obstacle to peace.” Mofaz threatened; “we will choose the right way and the right time to kill Arafat.” Palestinian Minister Saeb Erekat told CNN he thought Arafat was the next target. CNN asked Sharon spokesman Ra’anan Gissan if the vote meant expulsion of Arafat. Gissan clarified; “It doesn’t mean that. The Cabinet has today resolved to remove this obstacle. The time, the method, the ways by which this will take place will be decided separately, and the security services will monitor the situation and make the recommendation about proper action.” (See Trish Shuh, Road Map for a Decease Plan,  www.mehrnews.com November 9 2005

The assassination of Arafat was part of the 2001 Dagan Plan. In all likelihood, it was carried out by Israeli Intelligence. It was intended to destroy the Palestinian Authority, foment divisions within Fatah as well as between Fatah and Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas is a Palestinian quisling. He was installed as leader of Fatah, with the approval of Israel and the US, which finance the Palestinian Authority’s paramilitary and security forces.

2. The removal, under the orders of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2005, of all Jewish settlements in Gaza. A Jewish population of over 7,000 was relocated.

“It is my intention [Sharon] to carry out an evacuation – sorry, a relocation – of settlements that cause us problems and of places that we will not hold onto anyway in a final settlement, like the Gaza settlements…. I am working on the assumption that in the future there will be no Jews in Gaza,” Sharon said.” (CBC, March 2004)

The issue of the settlements in Gaza was presented as part of Washington’s “road map to peace”. Celebrated by the Palestinians as a “victory”, this measure was not directed against the Jewish settlers. Quite the opposite: It was part of  the overall covert operation, which consisted  in transforming Gaza into a concentration camp. As long as Jewish settlers were living inside Gaza, the objective of sustaining a large barricaded prison territory could not be achieved. The Implementation of “Operation Cast Lead” required “no Jews in Gaza”.

3. The building of the infamous Apartheid Wall was decided upon at the beginning of the Sharon government. (See Map below).

4. The next phase was the Hamas election victory in January 2006.

Without Arafat, the Israeli military-intelligence architects knew that Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas would loose the elections. This was part of the scenario, which had been envisaged and analyzed well in advance.

With Hamas in charge of the Palestinian authority, using the pretext that Hamas is a terrorist organization, Israel would carry out the process of “cantonization” as formulated under the Dagan plan. Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas would remain formally in charge of the West Bank. The duly elected Hamas government would be confined to the Gaza strip.

5. “Operation Cast Lead” (December 2008, January 2009)

The aerial bombings and the ongoing ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli ground forces must be analysed in a historical context. Operation “Cast Lead” (2008) was a carefully planned undertaking, which was part of a broader military-intelligence agenda first formulated by the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

Planned Humanitarian Disaster in Liaison with Washington

On December 8, 2008  US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was in Tel Aviv for discussions with his Israeli counterparts including the director of Mossad, Meir Dagan.

“Operation Cast Lead” was initiated two days day after Christmas. It was coupled with a carefully designed international Public Relations campaign under the auspices of Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Hamas’ military targets were not the main objective. Operation “Cast Lead” was intended, quite deliberately, to trigger civilian casualities.

What we are dealing with is a “planned humanitarian disaster” in Gaza in a densly populated urban area. (See map below)

The longer term objective of this plan, as formulated by Israeli policy makers, was the expulsion of Palestinians from Palestinian lands:

“Terrorize the civilian population, assuring maximal destruction of property and cultural resources… The daily life of the Palestinians must be rendered unbearable: They should be locked up in cities and towns, prevented from exercising normal economic life, cut off from workplaces, schools and hospitals, This will encourage emigration and weaken the resistance to future expulsions” Ur Shlonsky, quoted by Ghali Hassan, Gaza: The World’s Largest Prison, Global Research, 2005)

Ground Attack

On January 3, 2009 Israeli tanks and infantry entered Gaza in an all out ground offensive:

“The ground operation was preceded by several hours of heavy artillery fire after dark, igniting targets in flames that burst into the night sky. Machine gun fire rattled as bright tracer rounds flashed through the darkness and the crash of hundreds of shells sent up streaks of fire. (AP, January 3, 2009)

Israeli sources have pointed to a lengthy drawn out military operation. It “won’t be easy and it won’t be short,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a TV address.

Israel is not seeking to oblige Hamas “to cooperate”. What we are dealing with is the implementation of the “Dagan Plan” as initially formulated in 2001, which called for:

“an invasion of Palestinian-controlled territory by some 30,000 Israeli soldiers, with the clearly defined mission of destroying the infrastructure of the Palestinian leadership and collecting weaponry currently possessed by the various Palestinian forces, and expelling or killing its military leadership. (Ellis Shulman, op cit, emphasis added)

The broader question is whether Israel in consultation with Washington is intent upon triggering a wider war.

Mass expulsion of the population of Gaza was envisaged by Sharon, at some later stage of the ground invasion, coupled with a strategy of opening up Gaza’s borders to allow for an exodus of population.

The ultimate objective in 2018 as well as in 2009 is expulsion.

Expulsion was referred to by Ariel Sharon as the “a 1948 style solution”. For Sharon “it is only necessary to find another state for the Palestinians. -‘Jordan is Palestine’ – was the phrase that Sharon coined.” (Tanya Reinhart, op cit)

VI

ISRAEL’S PLAN TO CONFISCATE

GAZA’S OFFSHORE RESERVES OF NATURAL GAS 

Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline which belong to the people of Palestine.

The December 2008-January 2009 “Operation Cast Led” was instrumental in the confiscation of Palestine’s gas fields off the coast of Gaza by Israel in derogation of international law.

Tel Aviv announced the discovery of  the Leviathan natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean “off the coast of Israel.”

At the time the gas field was: “ … the most prominent field ever found in the sub-explored area of the Levantine Basin, which covers about 83,000 square kilometres of the eastern Mediterranean region.” (i)

Coupled with Tamar field, in the same location, discovered in 2009, the prospects are for an energy bonanza for Israel, for Houston, Texas based Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration. (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Israel: Gas, Oil and Trouble in the Levant, Global Research, December 30, 2013

The Gazan gas fields are part of the broader Levant assessment area. What happened was the integration of these adjoining gas fields including those belonging to Palestine into the orbit of Israel. (see map below). Namely a process of outright confiscation. The step by step transformation of Gaza into a de facto concentration camp was also accompanied by the de facto ownership by Israel of Gaza’s territorial waters, which contain large reserves of natural gas.

It should be noted that the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline extending from Egypt’s Sinai to Syria constitutes an area encompassing large gas as well as oil reserves.

Flash Forward: It is important to relate the issue of Gaza’s offshore gas reserves to the recent 2018 massacres undertaken by IDF forces directed against the People of Palestine who own the offshore gas fields.

History

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field were respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement included field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covered the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves were estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.


Map 1

Map 2

Who Owns the Gaza Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention of sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

 “Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security?  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

It is worth noting that the invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” had been set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources. (Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month of June, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas. The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of Operation Cast Lead initiated in June 2008. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics 

The objective was to transfer the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law. In practice, the Gaza gas fields have been integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)


Map 3

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Gaza: The Criminalization of War


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