Archive | January 16th, 2019

Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

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Okinawa Activists Petition White House to Stop Military Base Construction

Peace activists are calling for the U.S. government to call off plans for a massive military construction project on the Japanese island of Okinawa. On January 7, a fourth generation Okinawan-American and local peace groups staged a demonstration and delivered a petition with 190,000 signatures to the White House. The petition calls for a halt of construction of a U.S. airbase at Ourawan Bay until a referendum can be held on February 24.

The airbase would build an airstrip by filling in Ourawan Bay with boulders and dirt. Two 5,000-foot runways are planned which will eventually house the ultra-advanced U.S. F-35 fighter jets and V-22 tiltrotor aircraft. The bay is a pristine tropical water paradise and home to many rare aquatic species, including the Dugong, an endangered rare marine mammal.

Construction over the bay began on December 18. The project has the backing of the mainland JapanPremier Shinzo Abe.

Opposition to Futenma airbase and its relocation from Ginowan to Henoco District on Ourawan Bay dates back several decades with nearly 80 percent of Okinawans opposed to it. The specifics of the plan call for building the airstrips at the edge of Schaub Marine Base, a base camp for Marine infantry units rotating between South Korea, Guam, Mainland Japan, and the U.S. West Coast.

There are 23 U.S. bases on Okinawa, taking up 20 percent of the Island land area. Okinawa compares as less than 1 percent of the land area of Japan but hosts 74 percent of the land area used by U.S. military forces in Japan and its islands. Okinawans believe they are saddled with an unfair responsibility for being tasked to yield far more land area by ratio than mainland Japan. Further, Okinawans host half of the 50,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan.

Environmentalists say the Dugong marine mammal feeds on lush beds of marine grass within Ourawan Bay, but the new airbase will further endanger its existence there. By filling the bay with rocks to build two runways and a mile-long sea wall, the base will bury the lush source of sea grass, the home of the Dugong and many other rare species.

Okinawa has been hampered by the presence of remnant U.S. base relics since World War II.

Okinawa: A Rich Cultural History

Okinawa Prefecture is the southern most part of Japan which was annexed in 1879. Before it was annexed it had already established an island culture and autonomous Kingdom of the Ryukyu government for several centuries. It was the central part of the 1,000-mile chain of the Ryukyu Islands before Japan annexed it.

The island saw almost total destruction in WWII during the battle of Okinawa as Marines landed and fought against Japanese soldiers. Almost 25% of its people were killed and every building was either destroyed or damaged. After the war Okinawa remained under U.S. administration until 1972. It was then given back to Japan’s control in March 1972, nearly 100 years after Japan annexed it. However, the U.S. maintained possession of a series of bases, including Futenma airbase.

Susumu Inamine, the Mayor of Nago, and Denny Tamaki vitisted the U.S. in 2014 to advocate for the removal of Futenma airbase and relocation of Henoco airfield to mainland Japan. Tamaki is no the Governor of Okinawa. Photo/John Zangas

During the 1970s and 80s, the population grew as did tensions with the U.S. over incidents of assaults by U.S. military personnel. Okinawans urged mainland Japan to relocate Futenma airbase to the mainland and reduce U.S. military presence. They grew increasingly impatient for U.S. bases to be closed and the land to be returned to them. Civil disobedience and resistance grew out of plans to relocate Futenma airbase to Ourawan Bay which was announced in 1995.

Long Battle of Resistance Against Futenma Airbase

The original plan was to move Futenma to Henoco by acquiring private property inland but not over Ourawan Bay. The early plan was part of a secret proposal in the 1960s (since declassified) by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara during President Kennedy’s administration. In the 1970s and early 1980s, this plan met opposition as Okinawans began to mobilize in opposition.

Once the second plan was publicized in 1995 to build the base over Ourawan Bay, Okinawans organized protests, sit-ins and day-long blockades outside Futenma and Schaub bases until police moved in. They have even launched water flotillas on Ourawan Bay as the Okinawa resistance took to kayaks in pitch battles with construction personnel.

The resistance was originally fighting to close the base. But once the relocation plan to move Futenma airstrip to Ourawan Bay was made public, the blockades of Schaub Marine Base near Henoko became more intense. And they have sustained a spirited resistance ever since. They have organized marches, voted only for local candidates opposed to the Henoko project, blocked base entrances and sent delegations to the U.S. to urge cancellation of construction plans. Mayor Susumu Inamine of the city of Nago and then Japanese Congressman Denny Tamaki visited the U.S. in 2014 to urge President Barack Obama to cancel the project but was unable to meet with him. Denny Tamaki was elected as Governor of Okinawa in 2018 on a platform to block Henoco base construction. Tamaki visited the U.S. again in 2018 to lobby for U.S. base closures.

Resistance Builds On Social Media

Robert Kajiwara, a fourth-generation Okinawan-American, organized the online petition which gained 190,000 signatures. A human rights activist and musician, he has worked to build international support to stop Henoco Base. He wrote lyrics about the struggle in Okinawa to the John Denver song “Country Roads.”

His lyrics resonated with Okinawans and attracted international support. He believes music is an effective way to reach people through emotions. It has also been his way of helping to gain support for his fellow islanders and pay back his grandparents for their support for his education in Hawaii.

He delivered the petition to the White House on Monday hoping to urge the Trump Administration to cancel the project. But he believes Americans also have an important stake in the new battle for Okinawa.

“There are a plethora of reasons why this base is bad for America, and I am trying to bring these reasons to their attention,” said Kajiwara. He says the project will also hurt Americans by costing much more money than previously estimated.

An analysis of military plans show the project has ballooned to $23 billion, more than 10 times the original cost estimated in 2013. It will also take five years longer to complete the Ourawan Bay fill and stabilization process that was previously estimated at 5 years. This is due to a discovery by civil engineers that Ourawan Bay contains sediments that are much more soft than previously thought. The ancient coral reef geology under the coastal water is not supported by the heavy loads of an airbase so the fill dirt project will take more time to reinforce, the report claimed. There is also the consideration of periodic earthquakes which could cause subsidence under the base and have to be remedied.

Kajiwara said there are many stories about the elderly protestors that have yet to be told, and he wants to help them share stories with the world. He spoke of two elderly protesters who were arrested and charged with felonies. He believes they were targeted because of successful organization efforts. “Hiroji Yamashiro and Hiroji Inaba are two of the most prominent leaders of the movement, and they were arrested and sentenced as felons for their protests. They recently filed an appeal, but their appeals were denied,” he said.

Dozens of elderly protesters are forcibly moved on a daily basis. Their resistance has taught the younger generations about non-violent protest and delayed the Henoco airbase project by two decades.

Okinawans block the highway leading to Henoco airbase. They have built a spirited resistance with elderly and youth. Photo/Robert Kajiwara

David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War, said that the people have the right to freedom from occupation by U.S. forces as well as the freedom of an environmentally safe home.

“Occupying Okinawa does something negative to the people of Okinawa. They are denied the freedom of not being the prime target of attack, the freedom not to have their water poisoned, and the freedom from massive environmental destruction,” he said.

One of the issues Okinawans must also contend with is polluted water from over 70 years of U.S. military operations. Water quality has been effected with fuel spills, fire drills from fire-retardant foam, grease and solvent and petroleum runoff from military operations.

Kajiwara is hopeful the base can be stopped even though construction began in Ourawan Bay a few weeks ago. He cites the tenacity of Okinawans, their love of each other and their concern for the environment as strengths.

“They have been fighting for decades, and they’re not going anywhere,” he said.

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Pence Supports Unelected Politician’s Claim to be Venezuela’s ‘Acting President’

Washington has moved to delegitimise democratically elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, with US Vice-President Mike Pence offering support to an opposition politician claiming to be the country’s real leader.

In a phone call to National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido, Mr Pence praised his “courageous leadership” and called on him to unite all opposition groups against Mr Maduro.

The National Assembly has no legitimate role in Venezuela since the establishment of the Constitutional Assembly, which was elected in August 2017 despite violent attacks from right-wing opposition groups seeking to stop people from voting.

However, following Mr Maduro’s inauguration last week, the body declared Mr Guaido to be the country’s “acting president” and refused to recognise Mr Maduro, despite him having won a second term of office last May with a thumping 67 per cent of the vote.

In a statement, Mr Pence branded Mr Maduro a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power who has oppressed the Venezuelan people for too long.”

He endorsed Mr Guaido’s claim to be interim president, which has also been recognised by the right-wing governments of Brazil, Chile and Colombia.

It is understood that Mr Guaido also has the support of the Organisation of American States, whose secretary-general Luis Almagro was recently expelled from the Frente Amplio party in his native Uruguay for backing intervention against Venezuela.

Mr Pence said that Washington would continue “to press for a full restoration of democracy” in the country.

The US has long sought regime change in Venezuela, implementing a raft of punitive sanctions and other measures. Last year it emerged that US President Donald Trump had given serious consideration to military intervention against Venezuela, including the possibility of a ground invasion to topple Mr Maduro.

Yesterday, the Washington Post published a column by Mr Guaido in which he accused Mr Maduro of being a dictator with links to drug trafficking and guerilla groups and demanded his overthrow.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the darling of liberals, has also branded Mr Maduro a dictator, refusing to recognise his presidency. However, at a university debate yesterday, he refused to answer questions about his support for far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Mr Maduro dismissed Mr Guaido, who was part of the protest movement that tried to topple his late predecessor Hugo Chavez, as “a usurper.”

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A Tale of Two Austerities

NOVANEWS

The greatly intensified austerity that has been imposed in the UK since 2010 has been looked to with considerable approval by right wing imitators. Among countries that had developed a relatively adequate ‘welfare state’, the attack on social provision in the UK has been outstandingly severe. One of the key elements of this has been a drive to degrade social benefit systems. The central objective has not been, as is generally claimed, to save money but rather to ensure a level of desperation that drives people into low wage precarious work and depresses the level of real wages.

In Canada, where a federal system of government exists, most of the political decisions related to the undermining of social programmes are taken at the provincial level. It is worthwhile to compare the specific assault on income support in Ontario, the province with the largest economy and population, with the situation that has unfolded in the UK. Before doing this, however, I want to go a little deeper into why the architects of neoliberal austerity have placed such emphasis on reducing the adequacy of systems of income support that unemployed, poor and disabled people turn to.

Poor Law Roots

When the peasantry was being driven from the land in England, the Tudor authorities at first imagined that the anger of the dispossessed could be contained with large doses of state violence and intimidation. However, the jobless and homeless portion of the new working class created a public order problem that required a reluctant concession. This took the form of the Poor Laws and, as is still the case with modern income support systems, they were intended to maintain social stability while offering the least attractive alternative possible to the worst jobs on offer.

The 1834 New Poor Law articulated a principle of ‘less eligibility’ that has cast its shadow over benefit systems ever since. The terms and conditions of receiving relief, featuring the dreaded workhouse, would ensure that recipients would be worse off than the poorest workers. Modern benefit systems, with bureaucratic intrusion and moral policing replacing the workhouse, retain the guiding principle of less eligibility. The Ken Loach film, I, Daniel Blake demonstrates this very starkly.

It is often suggested that ‘austerity isn’t working’. In fact, in both the UK and Ontario, the degrading of benefit systems has produced startling results for employers, especially those paying the lowest wages. If benefit levels had not been driven down and made more punitive and precarious, it is hard to imagine how the proliferation of low wage precarious work could have been so successfully imposed.

Sluggish wage growth exists in all OECD countries but the UK’s long-term decline in real wage levels is especially stark. The numbers of people forced into precarious employment has shot up and the increase in workers forced to accept zero hour contracts has been dramatic. Changes in the level of exploitation and the expansion of the low wage sector have been comparably appalling in Ontario. In 1997, only one worker in forty was forced to accept a minimum wage job but, by 2015, that had increased to one worker in eight. By 2013, among workers in the densely populated Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, barely half were in permanent full-time jobs.

Liberal War on the Poor

Until recently, when a hard-right Tory Government took office, the task of imposing austerity and reducing the adequacy of the social assistance system in Ontario was in the hands of a Liberal Government. As the dubiously progressive face of the neoliberal mainstream, the Liberals were somewhat circumspect in how they carried out the attack. Their task was made easier by the work of an earlier Thatcher-like Tory regime that held office from 1995 until 2003. Brutal cutbacks in the social assistance rates were an accomplished fact and the Liberals spent most of their fifteen years in office providing parsimonious increases below the rate of inflation while holding round after round of public consultations to keep alive the illusion that they would address a growing crisis of poverty and homelessness.

At the very end of the Liberal period, after so successfully reducing the adequacy of Ontario’s income support system and driving people into a mushrooming low wage sector, they concluded that the attack could be eased and they tactically shifted to the left. Under considerable pressure from a ‘Fight For $15 and Fairness Campaign’, they increased the minimum wage, announcing that it would rise to $15 in 2019, and introduced a series of measures to strengthen workers’ rights. They also announced a 3% increase in social assistance rates that, while inadequate, would be the first general increase that exceeded the rate of inflation since 1994. They also announced a series of modest but beneficial measures to improve the lives of people receiving benefits.

Tories Take Over

When the new Tory regime took office last June, there was no delay in moving towards a more ruthless and extreme form of war on the poor. The minimum wage increase was cancelled and the scheduled improvements in social assistance met the same fate. The Tories even cancelled the basic income pilot project that the Liberals were running. While many neoliberal thinkers look approvingly at the concept of basic income, the Ford Tories, as meat and potatoes reactionaries, had no interest in anything that smacked of reduced conditionality. The attitudes of former work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, and her Ontario counterpart, Lisa MacLeod, on this social policy proposal are striking similar.

After killing off the impending reforms and cutting the 3% rate increase in half, the Ontario social services minister declared a review of the social assistance system. The results of this are predictably horrifying and chart directions that will be familiar to those in the UK who have experienced or resisted the Tory attack on social benefits under Cameron and May. MacLeod is very fond of the right wing cliche that ‘the best social programme is a job’. This is the key to the Ontario Tory approach to ‘welfare reform’. Having acted to preserve poverty wages, the plan is to refine the social assistance system as a means of forcing people into the worst jobs.

In the UK, the work capability assessment has been used to brutally and systematically deny benefitsto disabled people. The Ontario Tories share the goal of ensuring that disability benefits are restricted massively so as to give disabled no option but to enter the job market. Their solution is to change radically the definition of disability. The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) will now only be for those who can show that are permanently and severely impaired with no prospects of taking employment.

All others will be forced onto the ‘short term’ Ontario Works (OW) programme where they will be treated as job ready workers, regardless of their situation. At the same time, OW is to be reworked as a much more coercive supplier of low wage workers. Just as benefit sanctions and claimant commitments have been used to ensure people in the UK understand they must scramble for employment on the employers’ terms, the Ontario plan takes similar directions. ‘Placing a greater focus on outcomes’, people will ‘complete individual action plans’. Municipalities that function as delivery agents ‘will be held accountable for helping people achieve their goals’ (provided those goals include working for low pay with no rights and few supports). So directly is the refined system to work as a supplier for the most exploitative employers that the Tories are ‘launching a website, Ontario.ca/openforbusiness to make matching job seekers with businesses easier’. The vilest employers will know where to go for a supply of vulnerable workers who must accept employment on their terms or face loss of benefits and outright destitution.

A Working-Class Issue

Theresa May’s recent claim that austerity is over is exposed as a lie as communities in the UK experience the horrible effects of the roll out of Universal Credit. In Ontario, too, austerity and the degrading of benefit systems is a work in progress. What must be understood is that this attack doesn’t only impact the poorest people. It is a careful and ruthless strategy to increase the supply of super exploited workers and, in doing so, depress wages generally. The broad working-class movement has a stake in resisting this attack and defeating the austerity driven war on the poor.

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Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO

NOVANEWS
 

The New York Times loves NATO, but should you?

Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world.

I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction.

1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damagesuch preparation does.

2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression.

3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO.

4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO?

5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia. According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons?

6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump?

7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States.

9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant.

10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70thanniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968.

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Fake Washington Post Copies Announcing Trump’s Resignation Handed Out in Washington, DC

NOVANEWS
 

Taking the art of fake news to new heights, a non-profit has circulated mock Washington Post issues near the White House, telling readers that President Donald Trump fled to Crimea on the back of women-led protests.

Activists giving out fake copies of the Washington Post commuters were spotted near the White House on Wednesday morning. Vigilant readers immediately alerted the newspaper, which said that the copies, dated May 1, 2019, were “not Post products” and that it was “looking into this.”

Adrienne Shih👩🏻‍💻@adrienneshih

Hey @washingtonpost: Someone is passing out fake copies of the paper (top)? For comparison, a real issue of the Post below.

178 people are talking about this

The fake copies include an eye-catching headline for the lead story: “UNPRESIDENTED. Ending Crisis, Trump Hastily Departs White House,” complete with a picture of a glum Trump on his way to “slip in a private car in the wee hours of the morning.”

Washington Post PR

@WashPostPR

There are fake print editions of The Washington Post being distributed around downtown DC, and we are aware of a website attempting to mimic The Post’s. They are not Post products, and we are looking into this.

7,046 people are talking about this

The paper “reports” that Trump abruptly left his office at 3:15am on May 1, leaving a message on a napkin in the Oval Office that blamed “crooked Hillary,” the mysterious “Hfior,” and “the Fake News Media” for his flight. The report, meticulously mimicking the Washington Post’s source-based reporting style, cites “four White House aides” speaking on condition of anonymity, that they found the napkin two days before events took a dramatic turn.Trump’s fictional resignation and the subsequent swearing-in of Vice President Mike Pence, who instantly promises to keep as low a profile as possible, comes amidst “massive protests” staged by a grassroots movement with #MeToo as its backbone.

The protests are accompanied by a campaign of harassment against White House officials and Republican lawmakers, similar to what some liberal activists have been calling for in the real world. In what would be a dream come true for Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the fake newspaper says that officials’ “credit cards were declined repeatedly at bars and restaurants,” they were “openly heckled” or had “their order lost or bungled” and ultimately were forced to use aliases or feel “like pariahs” in their home cities.

The news of Trump’s resignation sparks a wave of celebrations across the globe, with European countries refusing to shelter him. The creators of the fake diligently stick to the Washington Post’s style, fanning the Russia collusion narrative just like their prototype by sending Trump to seek safe haven in Russia – namely, Crimea.

While there has been speculation that radical liberal political activist group MoveOn or CODEPINK, a women-led grassroots NGO, might be behind the stunt since they promoted the action, later in the day, The Yes Men, a progressive non-profit group, claimed responsibility in a press release.

“The story this paper tells is more reasonable than our current reality,” it cited one of the authors of the“report,”Onnesha Roychoudhuri, as saying. Co-author L.A. Kauffman argued that the fake is “anything but far-fetched” and “offers a blueprint to help us reclaim our democracy.”

Apart from the printed editions, the group made the paper available online at my-washingtonpost.com/ and democracyawakensinaction.org. In addition, it sent out emails from noreply@my-wahsingtonpost.com to notify readers.

While the actual Washington Post has distanced itself from the stunt, it later decided to play along, publishing an article referencing the one in the fake edition, telling about “The Bundle,” a set of 64 progressive bills aiming to make education free, guarantee employment, and make everyone eligible for Medicare.

The Washington Post

@washingtonpost

Today, activists passed out fake versions of The Post around D.C. The papers pointed to a fake website that included an article titled, simply, “A look at the 64 bills.”

We figured such an article might as well exist on our actual site.

So… here ya go. https://wapo.st/2FC3dlP 

Analysis | A look at the 64 Bills

There are currently 64 players listed on the Bills’ roster.

washingtonpost.com

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While the anti-Trump crowd has generally applauded the action, it also drew backlash, with many pointing out there is too much fake news around to churn out more, even accusing the Washington Post of playing along with Trump and Putin’s “authoritarian playbook.”

“This doesn’t help at all. We already have too much fake news floating around,” another wrote.

The Washington Post has been one of the favorite targets of Trump’s attacks on “fake news.” Last year, Trump’s trade adviser called the paper “fake news most of the time.”

The Yes Men co-founder Andy Bichlbaum defended the stunt, telling Wired it’s obvious that the websites and the copies are fake.

“If you look at the website, I think you might agree it would take someone very strange to spend much time believing it’s true,” he said.

*

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Talk of Western Intervention in the Black Sea Is Pure Fantasy

NOVANEWS

Crimea is essential to Russia strategically and economically, but speculation over Ankara helping to boost the US presence in the Black Sea is far-fetched given Turkey’s energy deals with Moscow

***

A power struggle over the Black Sea between Russia and the US plus NATO has the potential to develop as a seminal plot of the 21st century New Great Game – alongside the current jostling for re-positioning in the Eastern Mediterranean.

By now it’s established the US and NATO are stepping up military pressure from Poland to Romania and Bulgaria all the way to Ukraine and east of the Black Sea, which seems, at least for the moment, relatively peaceful, just as Crimea’s return to Russia starts to be regarded, in realpolitik terms, as a fait accompli.

After a recent series of conversations with top analysts from Istanbul to Moscow, it’s possible to identify the main trends ahead.

Just as independent Turkish analysts like Professor Hasan Unal are alarmed at Ankara’s isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean energy sphere by an alliance of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Washington’s military buildup in both Romania and Bulgaria is also identified as posing a threat to Turkey.

It’s under this perspective that Ankara’s obstinance in establishing a security “corridor” in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates river, and free from the YPG Kurds, should be examined. It’s a matter of policing at least one sensitive border.

Still, in the chessboard from Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Crimea, the specter of “foreign intervention” setting fire to the Intermarium – from the Baltics to the Black Sea – simply refuses to die.

Ukraine Russia map

‘Russian lake’?

By the end of the last glacial era, around 20,000 years ago, the Black Sea – separated from the Mediterranean by an isthmus – was just a shallow lake, much smaller in size than it is today.

The legendary journey of Jason and the Argonauts, before the Trojan war, followed the Argo ship to the farther shore of Pontus Euxinus (the ‘Black Sea’) to recover the Golden Fleece – the cure for all evils – from its location in Colchis (currently in Georgia).

In Ancient Greece, steeped in mythology, the Black Sea was routinely depicted as the boundary between the known world and terra incognita. But then it was “discovered” – like America many centuries later – to the point where it was configured as a “string of pearls” of Greek trading colonies linked to the Mediterranean.

The Black Sea is more than strategic, it’s crucial geopolitically. There has been a constant drive in modern Russian history to be active across maritime trade routes through the strategic straits – the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus and Kerch in Crimea – to warmer waters further south.

As I observed early last month in Sevastopol, Crimea is now a seriously built fortress – incorporating S-400 and Iskander-M missiles – capable of ensuring total Russian primacy all across the eastern Black Sea.

A visit to Crimea reveals how its genes are Russian, not Ukrainian. A case can be made that the very concept of Ukraine is relatively spurious, propelled by the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of the 19th century and especially before World War I to weaken Russia. Ukraine was part of Russia for 400 years, far longer than California and New Mexico have been part of the US.

Now compare the reconquest of Crimea by Russia, without firing a shot and validated by a democratic referendum, to the US “conquests” of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Moreover, I saw Crimea being rebuilt and on the way to prosperity, complete with Tatars voting with their feet to return; compare it to Ukraine, which is an IMF basket case.

Crimea is essential to Russia not only from a geostrategic but also an economic point of view, as it solidifies the Black Sea as a virtual “Russian lake”.

It’s immaterial that Turkish strategists may vehemently disagree, as well as US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker who, trying to seduce Turkey, dreams about increasing the US presence in the Black Sea, “whether on a bilateral basis or under EU auspices.”

Under this context, the building of the Turk Stream pipeline should be read as Ankara’s sharp response to the rampant Russophobia in Brussels.

Ankara has, in tandem, consistently shown it won’t shelve the acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems because of American pressure. This has nothing to do with pretentions of neo-Ottomanism; it’s about Turkey’s energy and security priorities. Ankara now seems more than ready to live with a powerful Russian presence across the Black Sea.

It all comes down to Montreux

Not by accident the comings and goings on NATO’s eastern flank was a key theme at last summer’s biennial Atlanticist summit. After all, Russia, in the wake of reincorporating Crimea, denied access over the eastern Black Sea.

NATO, though, is a large mixed bag of geopolitical agendas. So, in the end, there’s no cohesive strategy to deal with the Black Sea, apart from a vague, rhetorical “support for Ukraine” and also vague exhortations for Turkey to assume its responsibilities.

But because Ankara’s priorities are in fact the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish-Syrian border, east of the Euphrates river, there’s no realistic horizon for NATO to come up with permanent Black Sea patrols disguised as a “freedom of navigation” scheme – as much as Kiev may beg for it.

What does remain very much in place is the guarantee of freedom of navigation in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits controlled by Turkey, as sanctioned by the 1936 Montreux Convention.

The key vector, once again, is that the Black Sea links Europe with the Caucasus and allows Russia trade access to southern warm waters. We always need to go back to Catherine the Great, who incorporated Crimea into the empire in the 18th century after half a millennium of Tatar and then Ottoman rule, and then ordered the construction of a huge naval base for the Black Sea fleet.

By now some facts on the ground are more than established.

Next year the Black Sea fleet will be upgraded with an array of anti-ship missiles; protected by S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems; and supported by a new “permanent deployment” of Sukhoi SU-27s and SU-30s.

Far-fetched scenarios of the Turkish navy fighting the Russian Black Sea fleet will continue to be peddled by misinformed think tanks, oblivious to the inevitability of the Russia-Turkey energy partnership. Without Turkey, NATO is a cripple in the Black Sea region.

Intriguing developments such as a Viking Silk Road across the Intermarium won’t alter the fact that Poland, the Baltics and Romania will continue to clamor for “more NATO” in their areas to fight “Russian aggression”.

And it will be up to a new government in Kiev after the upcoming March elections to realize that any provocation designed to drag NATO into a Kerch Strait entanglement is doomed to failure.

Ancient Greek sailors had a deep fear of the Black Sea’s howling winds. As it now stands, call it the calm before a (Black Sea) storm.

Posted in USA, Europe, RussiaComments Off on Talk of Western Intervention in the Black Sea Is Pure Fantasy

Nazi Top Commander Finally Spills Secrets of “Invisible War” in Syria

NOVANEWS
Israel’s Top Commander Finally Spills Secrets of “Invisible War” in Syria

For years Israel denied allegations that it had a role in funding and weaponizing the anti-Assad insurgency in Syria, and more often military officials responded “no comment” even when confronted with overwhelming evidence of Israeli weapons documented in al-Qaeda linked insurgents’ hands, but this all changed in a new British Sunday Times interview with outgoing Israeli army commander Gadi Eisenkot,who has finally confirmed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) supplied weapons to rebels across the border “for self-defense,” and further perhaps more stunningly, has admitted to long waging an “invisible war in Syria” that involved “thousands of attacks”.

The interview constitutes the first time that any current top Israeli military or government official has fully acknowledged sending anything beyond “humanitarian supplies,” such as medical aid to Syrian militants seeking to topple the Assad government; and yet it still appears the country’s military chief is slow playing the confirmation, only acknowledging the IDF provided “light weapons” — even after years of reporting has definitively uncovered an expansive Israeli program to arm dozens of insurgent groups and pay their salaries, includingknown affiliates of al-Qaeda in Syria.

This comes after the Syrian government has for years accused Israel of partnering with the west and gulf countries, such as the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey of funding and weaponizing an al-Qaeda/ISIS insurgency as part of covert regime change operations aimed at Damascus and its allies Iran and Hezbollah. Since then, countries like Qatar have come forward to reveal just how vast their covert role in fueling the Syrian war really was, which we covered in our story, In Shocking, Viral Interview, Qatar Confesses Secrets Behind Syrian War.

The Sunday Times relates a key confession that comes out of Lt.-Gen Gadi Eisenkot’s explosive interview as follows:

Eisenkot acknowledged for the first time, however, that Israel had supplied rebel groups in the border area with light weapons “for self-defence”.

Israel was a hidden player on a crowded Syrian battlefield.

Eisenkot positively boasted in the interview that “We operated in an area controlled by the Russians, sometimes attacking targets a kilometre or two from Russian positions,” in order to strike at Iranian assets in Syria.

The rare “confession” of sorts comes at a moment the White House says it’s moving forward on President Trump’s previously announced US troop pullout from Syria, something which has rattled Israel’s leadership, which has argued that Iran will become entrenched near Israel’s border as a result. Eisenkot’s words appear a warning to Iran that Tel Aviv aims to maintain operational capability inside Syria.

On this point the IDF chief admitted to “thousands” of attacks inside Syria:

“We carried out thousands of attacks [in recent years] without taking responsibility and without asking for credit,” he told the Sunday Times.

Given that prior military officials have typically put this number at “hundreds”, often from 200 to 400, this is an astounding admission that confirms Israel and Syria have been in a de facto state of open war since the first acknowledged Israeli airstrikes began in 2013.

Commenting on a prior report, The Times of Israel, summarized the timeline of Israel’s support to the anti-Assad insurgency as follows:

Foreign Policy said that Israel’s support for the rebel groups began in 2013, funding groups in places such as Quneitra and Daraa. It ended this summer as the regime’s forces advanced and made increasing gains in southern Syria against rebels. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops regained control of the border area in July.

The Syrian army said in 2013 that it had seized Israeli weapons in rebel hands.

The report said Israel sent the rebel groups weapons that included assault rifles, machine guns, mortar launchers, and vehicles. It initially sent the rebels US-made M16 rifles that would not identify Jerusalem as the source, and later began supplying guns and ammo from an Iranian shipment to Lebanon’s Hezbollah group that Israel captured in 2009, according to Foreign Policy.

But a number of analysts have suggested Israeli support to the opposition began even closer to the start of the conflict.

A prior Wall Street Journal investigation found that this relationship involved weapons transfers, salary payments to anti-Assad fighters, and treatment of wounded jihadists in Israeli hospitals, the latter which was widely promoted in photo ops picturing Netanyahu himself greeting militants. As even former Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morell once directly told the Israeli publicIsrael’s “dangerous game” in Syria consists in getting in bed with al-Qaeda in order to fight Shia Iran. 

Prior widely shared photo of Israeli soldiers speaking face to face with al-Qaeda fighters near the Israeli occupied Golan heights in Syria.

In recent years, multiple current and former Israeli defense officials have gone so far as to say thatISIS is ultimately preferable to Iran and Assad. For example, former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren in 2014 surprised the audience at Colorado’s Aspen Ideas Festival when he said in comments related to ISIS that,

“the lesser evil is the Sunnis over the Shias.” Oren, while articulating Israeli defense policy, fully acknowledged he thought ISIS was “the lesser evil.”

Likewise, for Netanyahu and other Israeli officials the chief concern was never the black clad death cult which filmed itself beheading Americans and burning people alive, but the possibility of, in the words of Henry Kissinger, “a Shia and pro-Iran territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut” and establishment of “an Iranian radical empire.”

What is clear, and now finally settled for the historical record, is that for years Israeli concealed its “hidden hand” in the proxy war while feigning merely “humanitarian aid” — something now fully admitted by Israel’s top military commander. In other words the humanitarian smokescreen was cover for a full-on covert war on Damascus, as we and many other independent outlets have reported many times, and for years. Yet another past “conspiracy theory” becomes today’s incontrovertible fact.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Nazi Top Commander Finally Spills Secrets of “Invisible War” in Syria

Russia’s Interest in Pakistani Power Projects Could Portend CPEC Investments

NOVANEWS

Reports are circulating in the Pakistani press that the Russian company is interested in several power projects in the country, which could pave the way for Moscow to unofficially invest in CPEC without angering its Indian partners.

Many Pakistanis are excited by the news that Russian company Inter RAO Engineer is interested in several power projects in the country, potentially willing to commit the whopping sum of $2 billion worth of investments if their counterparts are receptive. While nothing has been officially confirmed, these reports are plausible enough given the fast-moving rapprochement between Russia and Pakistan over the past couple of years, which aims to establish a strategic partnership that the author coined with the catchphrase of “Rusi-Pakistani Yaar Yaar”.

It evidently appears as though Russia is diversifying its outreaches with Pakistan from their former Afghan-related anti-terrorist centricity to a more robust partnership that’s now taking on important energy dimensions. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Russia already committed to building the North-South gas pipeline and signed a memorandum of understanding for constructing a $10 billion offshore onebetween Iran, Pakistan, and possibly even India too one day. In a sense, it can be said that Russia’s “traditional diplomacy” with Pakistan evolved to “military diplomacy” and now “energy diplomacy”.

Attention should be paid to the latest report’s claims about how Inter RAO Engineering is supposedly interested in the proposed Mohmand Dam along the Swat River in the former mountainous Afghan-bordering region of what used to be called the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) prior to its merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa last year. This is highly symbolic because the words “FATA” and “Swat” remind many Westerners of the country’s War on Terror during the mid-2000s, so it says a lot about the overall sub-region’s newfound stability that Russia would consider investing there.

Importantly, $2 billion worth of potential investments in Pakistan’s power industry would signal that Russia wants to get in on the country’s CPEC-related Chinese-driven construction boom but is doing so without openly attaching itself to the CPEC “brand” out of concern for its Indian partner’s political sensitivities. New Delhi is dead-set against CPEC because of its stance that the series of megaprojects transit through territory that India claims as its own per its maximalist approach to the Kashmir Conflict, and the renaissance of relations between it and Russia would be ruined if Moscow invested in CPEC.

That explains why Russia might reportedly be considering investing in CPEC without formally doing so, following the strategy that the author previously suggested in his piece last summer about “Creative Non-CPEC Marketing Strategies For Pakistan”. So long as Russia abstains from officially endorsing CPEC and attaching its investments to that “brand”, then its relations with India won’t suffer no matter how many billions of dollars it eventually pours into Pakistani projects. With that being the case, the latest reports are an encouraging sign of Russian intent and could portend more unofficial CPEC investments.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir, RussiaComments Off on Russia’s Interest in Pakistani Power Projects Could Portend CPEC Investments

Manbij False Flag: The Empire Devours Its Own Soldiers

NOVANEWS

Immediately after Donald Trump’s announcement of withdrawal of American troops from Syria on December 19, the Kurdish leadership reportedly threatened [1] to set free hundreds of Islamic State’s prisoners and their family members being held in makeshift prisons in the Kurdish-held areas of Syria.

Some of those prisoners are foreign fighters and their countries of origin, Western countries in particular, are unwilling to accept them since they lack evidence to prosecute them. Though the Kurds have since backtracked on their statement, it shows the level of frustration shown by the Kurdish leadership regarding President Trump’s abrupt and apparently whimsical decision to pull American forces out of Syria after a telephonic conversation with Turkish President Erdogan on December 14.

The next step the Kurdish leadership took was to rush to Paris to hold discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron who has donned the globalist, interventionist cap after the inauguration of isolationist, “alt-right” president in the US in January 2017.

President Macron reassured the Kurdish leadership that hundreds of French troops stationed in Syria as a part of global coalition to battle the Islamic State will remain there and take the lead after the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops, though it is unlikely that the French forces will stay in Syria for long once the American forces pull out. Particularly, if we keep the fact in mind that President Macron has been facing the biggest challenge to his presidency in recent months in the form of Yellow Vest protests.

Notwithstanding, four American soldiers were killed and three wounded in a suicide bombing in Syria’s northern flashpoint town of Manbij on Wednesday. Additionally, ten civilians were also killed and more than a dozen injured in the bombing.

Although Islamic State promptly claimed the responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency, the jihadist group is simply a weapon. The finger that pulled the trigger and created circumstances for the attack to take place is to be blamed for the atrocity.

Reuters reported [2] on Wednesday:

“An explosion hit near a restaurant, targeting the Americans, and there were some forces from the Manbij Military Council with them.” The report further adds: “The Manbij Military Council militia has controlled the town since the US-backed Kurdish-led forces took it from Islamic State in 2016. It is located near areas held by Russian-backed Syrian government forces and by anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkey.”

It bears mentioning that the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) are nothing more than Kurdish militias with a symbolic presence of mercenary Arab tribesmen in order to make SDF appear more representative and inclusive in outlook. The Manbij Military Council, as mentioned in the Reuters report, is comprised of mercenary Arab units of the Kurdish-led SDF.

Thus, it is quite easy for the fighters of the rest of Sunni Arab jihadist groups, including the Islamic State, battling the Shi’a-led government in Syria to infiltrate the Arab-led units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, specifically the Manbij Military Council.

And since the Syrian Kurds are opposed to the Trump administration’s policy of withdrawal of American troops from Syria, therefore it is quite likely that the Kurdish-led SDF did not maintain the level of vigilance necessary for keeping the evacuating American soldiers out of the harm’s way. The US soldiers mingling with the Arab-led units of SDF in a public restaurant on a busy street in Manbij appears to be one such incidents of costly negligence that claimed precious lives.

Regarding the Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the suicide bombing, it has a history of making dubious claims for grandstanding and for attracting international attention in order to generate funds and attract potential jihadists to its transnational network of terrorists. It even claimed the responsibility for the Las Vegas attack in October 2017, which was perpetrated by Stephen Paddock who killed 58 people in cold blood and left hundreds injured at a concert at Mandalay Bay.

Since the Ghouta chemical weapons attack in August 2013, numerous false flag attacks have been staged in Syria by the militants and their regional and global patrons in order to cross then-President Obama’s purported “Red Line in Syria” – that Washington would not tolerate a chemical weapons attack against the Syrian opposition – in order to enforce an American no-fly zone over Syria.

The suicide bombing in Manbij on Wednesday that targeted evacuating American soldiers appears to be one such false flag attack that was either perpetrated by the Kurds themselves or by one of myriad Sunni Arab jihadist outfits battling the Shi’a-led government in Damascus, which are on the payroll of their regional and global patrons, in order to impede or possibly overturn the Syria exit strategy of the Trump administration by keeping the bogey of the Islamic State alive.

Fact of the matter is that Islamic State has been comprehensively defeated as it does not hold any territory in Syria and Iraq now. As far as its capability to wage guerilla warfare is concerned, Washington could not possibly hope to degrade it even if American forces remained stationed in Syria and Iraq for another decade.

Remember that despite fighting America’s longest seventeen-year war in Afghanistan, according to a recent report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the US-backed Afghan government only controls 55% of Afghanistan’s territory. It’s worth noting that SIGAR is a US-based governmental agency that often inflates figures.

Factually, the government’s writ does not extend beyond a third of Afghanistan. In many cases, the Afghanistan government simply controls district-centers of provinces and outlying rural areas are either controlled by the Taliban or are contested between the militants and the government.

It’s worth pointing out that the distinction between Islamic jihadists and purported “moderate rebels” in Syria is more illusory than real. Before it turned rogue and overran Mosul in Iraq in June 2014, Islamic State used to be an integral part of the Syrian opposition and enjoyed close ideological and operational ties with other militant groups in Syria.

Besides, how could heavily armed militants in a sectarian war between Sunni jihadists and Shi’a-led government be possibly labeled as “moderate rebels” with secular and nationalist ambitions? Fact of the matter is that all the militant groups operating in Syria are fanatical Islamic jihadists who regard Shi’a Muslims as apostates and hence liable to death.

Thus, though practically impossible, even if Washington does eliminate all Islamic State militants from Syria, what would it do with myriads of other militant outfits in Syria, particularly with tens of thousands of al-Nusra Front jihadists who have carved out a new sanctuary in Syria’s northwestern Idlib governorate since last year?

The only practical solution to the conundrum is to withdraw all American troops from Syria and let Damascus establish writ of the state over all of Syria in order to eliminate all militant groups from Syria, including the Islamic State, though the Zionist lobbies in Washington might have objections to strengthening the hands of Iran and Russia in Syria.

After eight years of utter devastation and bloodletting, a consensus has emerged among all belligerents of the Syrian war to de-escalate the conflict, except for Israel which wants to further escalate the conflict because it has been the only beneficiary of the carnage in Syria.

Washington’s interest in the Syrian proxy war was mainly about ensuring Israel’s regional security. The United States Defense Intelligence Agency’s declassified report [3] of 2012 clearly spelled out the imminent rise of a Salafist principality in northeastern Syria – in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor which were occupied by the Islamic State until October 2017 – in the event of an outbreak of a sectarian war in Syria.

Under pressure from the Zionist lobby in Washington, however, the former Obama administration deliberately suppressed the report and also overlooked the view in general that a proxy war in Syria would give birth to radical Islamic jihadists.

The hawks in Washington were fully aware of the consequences of their actions in Syria, but they kept pursuing the ill-fated policy of nurturing militants in the training camps located in Syria’s border regions with Turkey and Jordan in order to weaken the anti-Zionist Syrian government.

The single biggest threat to Israel’s regional security was posed by the Shi’a resistance axis, which is comprised of Tehran, Damascus and their Lebanon-based surrogate, Hezbollah. During the course of 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah fired hundreds of rockets into northern Israel and Israel’s defense community realized for the first time the nature of threat that Hezbollah and its patrons posed to Israel’s regional security.

Those were only unguided rockets but it was a wakeup call for Israel’s military strategists that what will happen if Iran passed the guided missile technology to Hezbollah whose area of operations lies very close to the northern borders of Israel.

Thus, the Zionist lobbies in Washington literally coerced then-President Obama to coordinate a proxy war against Damascus and its Lebanon-based surrogate Hezbollah in the wake of the “Arab Spring” protests of 2011 in Syria in order to dismantle the Iranian resistance axis against Israel.

Over the years, Israel not only provided medical aid and material support to militant groups battling Damascus – particularly to various factions of the Free Syria Army (FSA) and al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front in Daraa and Quneitra bordering the Israel-occupied Golan Heights – but Israel’s air force virtually played the role of air force of Syrian jihadists and conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Syria during the eight-year conflict.

In an interview to New York Times [4] on January 11, Israel’s outgoing Chief of Staff Lt. General Gadi Eisenkot confessed that the Netanyahu government approved his shift in strategy in January 2017 to step up airstrikes in Syria. Consequently, more than 200 Israeli airstrikes were launched against the Syrian targets in 2017 and 2018, as revealed[5] by the Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz in September last year.

In 2018 alone, Israel’s air force dropped 2,000 bombs in Syria. The purpose of Israeli airstrikes in Syria has been to degrade Iran’s guided missile technology provided to Damascus and Hezbollah, which poses an existential threat to Israel’s regional security.

Though after Russia provided S-300 missile system to the Syrian military after a Russian surveillance plane was shot down in Syria on September 18, killing 15 Russians onboard, Israel has conducted only a couple of airstrikes in Syria, one on the Christmas Day in which Israeli F-16 fighter jets took cover [6] of civilian airliners flying to Damascus and Beirut airports. The purpose of the airstrike was to locate the precise location of the S-300 air defense system installed in Syria by Russia in order to target it on a later date, or to keep the Israeli air force out of its reach.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Manbij False Flag: The Empire Devours Its Own Soldiers


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