Archive | October 30th, 2019

Gulf Update: Bahrain Denying Prisoners Medical Attention, and more

Bahrain

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Bahrain Institution for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) published a report that determined Bahrain is denying essential medical care to jailed high-profile activists, in violation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the Mandela Rules). The organizations specifically discuss six detainees who are serving sentences for their roles in protesting the government and advocating for democracy: Abduljalil al-SingaceHassan MushaimaNaji FateelAli HajeeElyas al-Mulla; and Ahmad al-Arab. As reported to HRW and BIRD by some of the detainees and family members of detainees, “Prison authorities are arbitrarily denying the prisoners urgent medical care, refusing to refer them to specialists, failing to disclose medical examination results, and withholding medication as a form of punishment.”Among the medical issues the prisoners badly need treatment for are a range of injuries sustained from torture, heart conditions, blood complications, and diabetes.BIRD Advocacy Director Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei said, “Without effective and independent oversight institutions promoting accountability for human rights violations, prisoners remain at risk of reprisals while perpetrators continue to act with impunity.
Qatar

The Guardian released a report on October 10 finding that Qatari officials have failed to investigate thousands of migrant construction workers’ deaths, attributing the majority of the fatalities to “natural causes” despite strong evidence linking the deaths to unhealthy working conditions due to extreme heat. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for Qatar to “immediately adopt and enforce adequate restrictions on outdoor work to protect workers from potentially fatal heat-related risks.”A group of climatologists and cardiologists published research in the peer-reviewed journal Cardiology connecting the deaths of thousands of migrant workers from 2009-2017 to heat exposure. According to Dr. Dan Atar, one of the paper’s authors, hundreds of lives could have been saved if “effective heat protection measures had been implemented as part of occupational health and safety programs.”HRW is urging Qatar to “thoroughly and urgently investigate” the causes of migrant worker deaths now that research has shown a strong correlation between high temperatures and the migrant workers’ sudden and early deaths.According to death certificates issued in Qatar, the causes of death are often attributed to cardiac arrest, heart attack, respiratory failure, and “sickness.” When these deaths are categorized as “natural,” the families of the workers do not receive compensation under labor laws in Qatar.Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW, said, “The sudden and unexpected deaths of often young and healthy migrant workers in Qatar have gone uninvestigated by Qatari authorities, in apparent disregard for workers’ lives. Qatar cannot claim to uphold migrant workers’ rights as long as it ignores urgent and repeated calls for lifesaving reforms that protect workers from the heat.”In the lead-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the state says it is following 2016 guidelines on work-to-rest ratios proposed by the government’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the agency in charge of preparing the country to host the event. HRW says that these measures are inadequate to protect workers.  
Yemen

Save the Children, a children’s advocacy and humanitarian group, has warned of an increase in cholera cases in northern Yemen. This year alone, more than 600,000 suspected cases of cholera have appeared in the country. Save the Children said that fuel shortages have driven up the price of food and consequently worsened the health crisis. Fuel prices are up more than 100 percent in the past 40 days as a result of the Yemeni government implementing customs duties in the city of Aden and fuel imports are down 60 percent.In 2017, Yemen experienced the worst cholera epidemic in the world, with more than one million citizens affected. In addition, more than 15 million Yemenis (53 percent of the population) are on the brink of starvation and conditions are continuing to deteriorate.
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Palestine: Health conditions of striking prisoners Ismail Ali and Tariq Qa’dan decline

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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RAMALLAH, West Bank – The Prisoners ‘and Editors’ Affairs Authority said on Wednesday that the health situation of striking prisoners Ismail Ali and Tareq Qa’dan has been significantly reduced and that they are currently in isolation of Ntisan al-Ramla under harsh conditions.

Isma’il Ali, 30, from Abu Dis, east of occupied Jerusalem, is in a very poor health condition, 89 days after his open hunger strike. Strong pain throughout his body and used the wheelchair to move, and also complains of a sharp drop in heart rate of up to 25%, and blurred vision, and lost weight of more than 20 kg.

She added that it is expected that a hearing for the prisoner Ali on 24th of this month in the Nazi Supreme Military Court to consider the petition submitted by the Board against the decision of administrative detention . 

The Authority warned of the deterioration of the health of the prisoner Tariq Qadan (46 years) from the town of Araba district Jenin governorate, which continues to strike for 82 days in a row, he is currently complaining of weakness and general wasting and chronic aches throughout his body, as he suffers from weight loss and yellowing in Face .

She pointed out that the military court of the occupation decided recently to postpone the consideration of the issue of fixing the administrative detention order issued against the prisoner Qa’dan, until the date of 23 of this month .

It is noteworthy that four other prisoners are continuing their battle against administrative detention are: the prisoner Ahmed Ghannam, who has gone on strike for 99 days, amid a noticeable worsening of his health, the prisoner Ahmed Zahran and striker since 29 days, and the prisoner Hiba Al-Labadi and is on strike for 27 days in a row, and the prisoner Musab The Indian which continues its strike for the 27th day also

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Robert McNamara’s Infamous “Project 100,000” and the Vietnam War. A Premeditated Crime against Humanity

By Larry Romanoff

Global Research,

In the very long list of shocking and abominable atrocities committed by the US, there is one that stands out as especially obscene for the appalling and hypocritical inhumanity of US Government leaders. This was “Project 100,000”, a US military program enacted by then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to recruit 100,000 new soldiers per year during a time of great public opposition to the Vietnam war, and which was promoted as part of President Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’. In McNamara’s own words, it was “a program to salvage the poverty-scarred youth of our society”, to give them two years of military service, then insert them into “a lifetime of productive activity in American civilian society”.He further stated,.“Poverty in America pockmarks its victims inwardly. If unchecked and unreversed, that inner ghetto of the poverty-scarred personality of these men can fester into explosive frustrations of bitterness and violence. Chronic failures in school throughout their childhood, they are destined to a downward spiral of defeat and decay … If nothing were done to give them a strong sense of their own worth and potential, they, their wives and their children would almost inevitably be the unproductive recipients of some form of the dole ten years from now. Hundreds of thousands of men can be salvaged from the blight of poverty, and the Defense Department – with no detriment whatever to its primary role – is particularly well equipped to salvage them.” (1) (2)

That sounds good, except that this program was initiated during a time when the US was realising extremely high casualties in Vietnam, had already admitted the war was “unwinnable”, with most suitable recruits either taking student deferments or evading the draft by fleeing to Canada. McNamara’s solution was to run a sieve through the ghettos of America, an ingenious and diabolical solution to “rid the nation” of its surplus black and poor, in a program he may have hatched with the advice of Margaret Sanger, she of Planned Parenthood. In executing this program, McNamara lowered the standards to the point where these recruits were in the bottom quartile of intelligence and ability, a great many of them with an IQ of 60 or 65, and none above 80.

These new “soldiers” were functionally illiterate, able to read only at a Grade 3 level or lower. They were so severely (educationally) deficient that the military had to create little comic books to replace the training manuals, and many had to be taught even how to tie the laces on their boots. As other authors have noted, these men often failed their much-simplified basic training several times, with most being repeatedly “recycled” until they finally reached a deplorable minimum standard of readiness. None had the mental ability to appreciate what was happening to them.

The program ran for five years and recruited in total about 500,000 mentally retarded young men and gave them a one-way ticket to Vietnam, these helpless young men dying at many times the rate of regular soldiers. Many researchers have claimed that an overwhelming majority of these men, especially blacks, received combat assignments, and “comprised an overwhelming majority of … battle deaths”, and were also generally posted to “what were considered dangerous military occupations”. These men were provided with special ‘dog tags’ that began with “US67…” so they could be quickly identified by other soldiers. By all accounts, the regular troops did not want to be associated with these men, certainly not in a battle situation, believing their lack of intelligence and training simply jeopardised the lives of all around them. Many have reported that when battlefield decisions were being made, given that these men were unable to learn anything much more complicated than pulling a trigger, they were just sent to their deaths, “ending up on the Vietnam Memorial Wall at an alarming rate much higher than the average”. One young Vietnam veteran reported that a common order issued to these young men ‘salvaged from the blight of poverty’ was to “Go over there and see if there’s a sniper in that tree”.

US casualty figures mushroomed after the introduction of this program, the victims of which were simply cannon-fodder and, for this and other reasons, I remain convinced there is a high probability American deaths in Vietnam were grossly under-reported and that a great many of these nearly 500,000 simply never returned and whose records no longer exist. It is not only possible, but probable, that American deaths in Vietnam were in fact ten times the stated 50,000. Several organisations in the US have attempted to produce accurate Vietnam casualty statistics, but with little apparent success.

As one such organisation states,

“The Vietnam War presents multiple challenges to historians due to official discrepancies with draft numbers, contention over official number of soldiers deployed, and a general lack of transparency from the US government during the war leading to possible misinformation in historical records.”

In other words, the official sources of basic statistics as to the actual number of men recruited, the number sent to Vietnam and the number who died there, are often missing, sometimes contradictory, and sometimes wildly inaccurate, and the US military exercises only obstruction to those interested in remedying the situation. Moreover, without an Internet or mobile phones, and no social networking capability, the parents of these men would have no way of knowing the huge number of casualties from within their group.

On May 30, 2002, Salon Magazine published an article by Myra MacPherson on the HBO movie “Path to War” in which she discusses Hollywood’s attempt to “humanise” McNamara “while entirely overlooking … one of his most heinous acts” and ignoring his “arrogance and duplicity”. She notes that the HBO movie omits “some of the most shameful brainstorms of the Vietnam War’s masterminds – including a little-known recruitment program that turned the mentally and physically deficient into cannon fodder.”

She details how military recruiters “swept through urban ghettos and Southern rural back roads”, offering hundreds of thousands of the retarded poor – with IQs as low as the 60s – “a one-way ticket to Vietnam”, and that “McNamara’s Moron Corps, as they were pathetically nicknamed by other soldiers, entered combat in disproportionate numbers”, noting that they received combat assignments at 250% of the rate of general servicemen. MacPherson tells us that few today are aware of what she calls “this particularly shameful chapter” of American history, and that her stories of this episode were “generally met with disbelief”. This entire project had been so well buried by the government that almost no one was aware of its existence and few could believe it would be possible for the American government to perpetrate such an obvious genocidal travesty against its own population, especially after the military had already admitted the war “could not be won”.

In a 2006 article in the New York Times (3), this Project was dismissed as “a failed experiment” that was “of little benefit to the men it was created to help”, but my research leads me to conclude that, contrary to being a failed experiment, this program was a “success”, a truly ingenious and criminal method of applying eugenics to eliminate poverty (especially black poverty) and idiocy in America by using the mentally-deficient as cannon fodder in a trumped-up war, far from the first time a nation’s surplus poor discovered themselves in similar conditions. In recognition of his success, McNamara was rewarded by being given the post of President of the World Bank.

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‘Attention Must be Paid’ to the Sufferings of the Palestinian People

By James J. Zogby

Global Research,

With mass protests roiling Lebanon and Iraq, unsettling developments in Syria and Yemen, and the latest episode of the continuing soap opera that calls itself Israeli politics, little attention is being given to the plight of the Palestinians. One consequence of this neglect is that both Israel and US President Donald Trump’s administration feel they have been given a free hand to accelerate the oppression of the beleaguered Palestinian people.

Two reports passed my desk this week, both of which make this point and require our attention. First, as a result of the loss of US aid to UNRWA, the agency reported that it has been forced to make drastic cuts in programmes and personnel. I will quote freely from the UNRWA report in order to fully establish the magnitude of the loss.

In Gaza, “in order to protect food assistance [UNRWA] provides to one-half of the population, other critical programmes were cut.” These included: All housing subsidies for those still rendered homeless from the 2014 war; drastic reductions in in the “cash for work programme”, cut by 59 per cent, and the community mental health programme, cut by 40 per cent. In addition, UNRWA was forced to end all repairs to the refugee camps’ water and sanitation systems and to end “programs supporting students whose education was impacted by conflict.”

In the West Bank, funding was slashed by 67 per cent, resulting in: Ending the community mental health and mobile health clinic programmes; ending the “cash for work program for 90,000 refugees”, and limiting food assistance to only 30 per cent of eligible refugees. In addition, as a result of cuts to educational programs, the average class size in the West Bank has been expanded from 30 to 50 students. Even more desperate were the cuts to UNRWA programmes serving refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

All of this has been compounded by the Trump administration’s decision to cut funding to American non-governmental organisations that provide important development and humanitarian support to Palestinians throughout the occupied lands.

In addition to being denied essential services by these cruel decisions, Palestinians living under military occupation have been forced to endure continued acts of repression and brutality at the hands of the Israeli military and vigilante settler groups, both of which operate with impunity throughout the West Bank. This brings me to the second report, a weekly cataloguing of human rights violations compiled by Mondoweiss. While these Israeli behaviors are reported only occasionally in the press, seeing them collected, in full, each week presents a horrifying picture of life under Israeli military rule.Rampaging State-Sponsored Israeli Settlers. Daily Acts of Violence against Palestinians

Because this last week witnessed the celebration of Jewish holidays, there were a number of incidents directly related to hostile measures taken to allow Israelis to visit holy sites in the West Bank. For example, on October 17, busloads of Israeli settlers, escorted by Israeli army personnel, entered Nablus without permission to pray at the site Jews believe to be the burial place of the prophet Joseph. Since Nablus is within Area A, it is supposedly under the full control of the Palestinian Authority. As Palestinians gathered to protest this incursion, they were fired on by Israeli soldiers. Four were shot and wounded with live ammunition, 17 were injured by rubber bullets and 34 were hospitalised suffering from smoke inhalation.

The Israeli occupation forces also used the holy days to close Hebron’s Ibrahim Mosque to Muslims for two days, giving Jewish worshippers full access to the Mosque. They also closed several major arteries in the West Bank to allow for settlers to travel freely and to hold a “settlers’ marathon race”.

During this same period, the Israeli military invaded at least 14 Palestinian villages, shot and injured nine young men and detained over four dozen. These raids included a number of home invasions, which resulted in extensive property damage and theft, and an attack on a wedding party that witnessed beatings and injuries to some of those present who objected to the soldier’s behaviour.

A continuing reality of daily life in the West Bank are attacks by settlers on Palestinians farming their land located near Israeli settlements and outposts. The most notorious of these occurred in the village of Burin where settlers have engaged in numerous attacks disrupting villagers harvesting their olive crop. This past week, settlers uprooted olive trees, set fires that consumed hundreds of acres of farmland, and beat Palestinians who attempted to stop this vandalism. Settlers also attacked and beat Israeli volunteers who had come to assist and protect the Palestinians of Burin during the harvest.

Settler attacks occurred not only in villages but on roads as well, harassing Palestinians on their way to work. These assaults and the Palestinians’ response to them prompted a bizarre warning issued by the military to some villagers, cautioning them against taking action to resist the settlers’ vigilante behaviour. This was most likely prompted by a warning made by the Palestinian mayor of Sebastia, who threatened to shoot or arrest settlers who might break into the town during the Jewish holidays, or the story of an elderly man who confronted Israeli settlers stealing his olive harvest and was beaten so badly he had to be hospitalised.

The above is only an excerpt of the many instances of abuse encountered by Palestinians during the week covered in the report. Also mentioned were: The shootings by Israeli snipers of 73 Palestinian protestors during the weekly “March of Return” protests that took place at five locations along the Gaza border; a number of home demolitions done either as an act of collective punishment or to limit Palestinian population growth in Jerusalem; continued repressive actions designed to increase Israel’s control of Jerusalem; unprovoked attacks on Palestinian fishermen operating within the three mile limit allowed to them by the Israeli authorities; and the announcement of the construction of 251 new Jewish-only settlement units on Palestinian land.

What is most concerning about all of these horrors is how little coverage they receive not only in the US press but in the Arab World’s press, as well. With events in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen dominating the news, the plight of the Palestinians has taken a back seat. When news related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict receives coverage at all, it is driven by the drawn-out drama of Israel’s dysfunctional political system.

Accounting for this, to be sure, is some weariness with the century-old plight of the Palestinians and some justifiable frustration with the Palestinian leadership, which has lost its ability to inspire confidence. But, while all, of this may be true, it is imperative that Palestinian people not be forgotten. In this context I am reminded of a moving moment in Arthur Miller’s powerful play “Death of a Salesman”. Willy Loman, the salesman in question, is a tragic figure who has done little to earn the support of his two sons. As he nears his final breakdown, his wife speaks to her sons about the respect owed to their father. She says, “… he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall in his grave … Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.”

And so, my dear readers, I urge you to consider that as you focus on all of the other conflicts unfolding across the Arab World, do not forget what is happening to the Palestinian people under occupation. Put aside your weariness and your frustrations and give attention to what they are enduring every single day. “Attention must be paid” before it’s too late.

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Who Was the “Bigger Terrorist”: Al-Baghdadi or Osama Bin Laden?

By Nauman Sadiq

Global Research,

Although President Trump claimed in his address to the American public after the killing of al-Baghdadi that he was a “bigger terrorist” than Osama bin Laden, fact of the matter is the Islamic State’s self-styled caliph was simply a nobody compared to Bin Laden.

As a Saudi citizen and belonging to the powerful Saudi-Yemeni clan of the Bin Ladens, which has business interests all over the Middle East, Osama bin Laden was almost a royalty. He had so much clout even in the governments of Middle Eastern countries that he was treated like a “royal guest” by Pakistan’s military at the behest of the Saudi royal family for five years from 2006 right up to his death in 2011.

By comparison, even though he assumed the nom de guerre Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in fact Ibrahim Awad was simply a rural cleric in a mosque in Iraq’s Samarra before he assumed the title of the caliph of the Islamic State. As far as the impact of al-Baghdadi’s death is concerned, the real strength of the Islamic State lies in its professionally organized and decentralized Baathist command structure and superior weaponry provided to Syrian militants by the Western powers and the Gulf states during Syria’s proxy war.

Therefore, as far as the Islamic State militancy in Syria and Iraq is concerned, al-Baghdadi’s death will have no effect because he was simply a figurehead, though the Islamic State affiliates in the Middle East, North Africa and Af-Pak regions might be tempted to repudiate their nominal allegiance to the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State.

By contrast, the [alleged] death of Osama bin Laden in 2011 had such an impact on the global terrorist movement that his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian cleric lacking the resources, charisma and lineage of his predecessor, couldn’t even mediate a leadership dispute between al-Baghdadi and al-Nusra Front’s leader al-Jolani.

Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, the chief of al-Nusra Front, emerged as one of the most influential militant leaders during the eight-year proxy war in Syria. In fact, since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in August 2011 to April 2013, the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front were a single organization that chose the banner of al-Nusra Front.

Although the current al-Nusra Front has been led by Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, he was appointed[1] as the emir of al-Nusra Front by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, in January 2012. Thus, al-Jolani’s Nusra Front is only a splinter group of the Islamic State, which split from its parent organization in April 2013 over a leadership dispute between the two organizations.

In August 2011, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was based in Iraq, began sending Syrian and Iraqi jihadists experienced in guerrilla warfare across the border into Syria to establish an organization inside the country. Led by a Syrian known as Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, the group began to recruit fighters and establish cells throughout the country. On 23 January 2012, the group announced its formation as Jabhat al-Nusra.

In April 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released an audio statement in which he announced that al-Nusra Front had been established, financed and supported by the Islamic State of Iraq. Al-Baghdadi declared that the two groups were merging under the name the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The leader of al-Nusra Front, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, issued a statement denying the merger and complaining that neither he nor anyone else in al-Nusra’s leadership had been consulted about it.

Al-Qaeda Central’s leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, tried to mediate the dispute between al-Baghdadi and al-Jolani but eventually, in October 2013, he endorsed al-Nusra Front as the official franchise of al-Qaeda Central in Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, however, defied the nominal authority of al-Qaeda Central and declared himself as the caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.Al-Nusra Front: Islamic State’s Breakaway Faction in Syria’s Idlib

Keeping this background in mind, it becomes abundantly clear that a single militant organization operated in Syria and Iraq under the leadership of al-Baghdadi until April 2013, which chose the banner of al-Nusra Front, and that the current emir of the subsequent breakaway faction of al-Nusra Front, al-Jolani, was actually al-Baghdadi’s deputy in Syria.

Thus, the Islamic State operated in Syria since August 2011 under the designation of al-Nusra Front and it subsequently changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in April 2013, after which it overran Raqqa and parts of Deir al-Zor in the summer of 2013. And in January 2014, it overran Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Iraq and reached the zenith of its power when it captured Mosul in June 2014.

Excluding al-Baghdadi and a handful of his hardline Islamist aides, the rest of Islamic State’s top leadership was comprised of Saddam-era military and intelligence officials. According to a Washington Post report [2], hundreds of ex-Baathists constituted the top and mid-tier command structure of the Islamic State who planned all the operations and directed its military strategy.

Regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, despite a few minor discrepancies, Seymour Hersh has published the most credible account to-date of the execution of Bin Laden in his book and article titled: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden [3], which was published in the London Review of Books in May 2015.

According to Hersh, the initial, tentative plan of the Obama administration regarding the disclosure of the execution of Bin Laden to the press was that he had been killed in a drone strike in the Hindu Kush Mountains on the Afghan side of the border. But the operation didn’t go as planned because a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound and the whole town now knew that an operation is underway and several social media users based in Abbottabad live-tweeted the whole incident on Twitter.

Therefore, the initial plan was abandoned and the Obama administration had to go public within hours of the operation with a hurriedly cooked-up story. This fact explains so many contradictions and discrepancies in the official account of the story, the biggest being that the United States Navy Seals conducted a raid deep inside Pakistan’s territory on a garrison town without the permission of Pakistani authorities.

According to a May 2015 AFP report [4], Pakistan’s military sources had confirmed Hersh’s account that there was a Pakistani defector who had met several times with Jonathan Bank, the CIA’s then-station chief in Islamabad, as a consequence of which Pakistan’s intelligence disclosed Bank’s name to local newspapers and he had to leave Pakistan in a hurry in December 2010 because his cover was blown.

According to the inside sources of Pakistan’s military, after the 9/11 terror attack, the Saudi royal family had asked Pakistan’s military authorities as a favor to keep Bin Laden under protective custody, because he was a scion of a powerful Saudi-Yemeni Bin Laden family and it was simply inconceivable for the Saudis to hand him over to the US. That’s why he was found hiding in a spacious compound right next to Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad.

But once the Pakistani walk-in colonel, as stated in Seymour Hersh’s book and corroborated by the aforementioned AFP report, told then-CIA station chief in Islamabad, Jonathan Bank, that a high-value al-Qaeda leader had been hiding in a safe house in Abbottabad under the protective custody of Pakistan’s military intelligence, and after that when the CIA obtained further proof in the form of Bin Laden’s DNA through the fake vaccination program conducted by Dr. Shakil Afridi, then it was no longer possible for Pakistan’s military authorities to deny the whereabouts of Bin Laden.

In his book, Seymour Hersh has already postulated various theories that why it was not possible for Pakistan’s military authorities to simply hand Bin Laden over to the US, one being that the Americans wanted to catch Bin Laden themselves in order to gain maximum political mileage for then-President Obama’s presidential campaign slated for November 2012.

Here, let me only add that in May 2011, Pakistan had a pro-American People’s Party government in power. And since Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s military’s then army chief, and the former head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Shuja Pasha, were complicit in harboring Bin Laden, thus it cannot be ruled out that Pakistan’s military authorities might still had strong objections to the US Navy Seals conducting a raid deep inside Pakistan’s territory on a garrison town.

But Pakistan’s civilian administration under then-President Asif Ali Zardari persuaded the military authorities to order the Pakistan Air Force and air defense systems to stand down during the operation. Pakistan’s then-ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani’s role in this saga ruffled the feathers of Pakistan’s military’s top brass to the extent that Husain Haqqani was later implicated in a criminal case regarding his memo to Admiral Mike Mullen and eventually Ambassador Haqqani had to resign in November 2011, just six months after the Operation Neptune Spear.

Finally, although Seymour Hersh claimed in his account of the story that Pakistan’s military authorities were also on board months before the operation, let me clarify, however, that according to the inside sources of Pakistan’s military, only Pakistan’s civilian administration under the pro-American People’s Party government was on board, and military authorities, who were instrumental in harboring Bin Laden and his family for five years, were intimated only at the eleventh hour in order to preempt the likelihood of Bin Laden’s “escape” from the custody of his facilitators in Pakistan’s military intelligence apparatus.

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“We’re Keeping the Oil” says Trump: Military Conflict Between Russia and the US Looms in Northeast Syria

By Steven Sahiounie

Global Research,

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper explained in a press conference Tuesday, that a new U.S. force will be stationed in eastern Syria to protect the oil fields.  Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon reporter, pressed Esper on whether the US military mission there will be to prevent the Russian or the Syrian government forces from accessing the oil at Deir Ez Zor.  Esper was forced to admit that the mission was designed to prevent the oil, and revenues generated, from being used by any group other than the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), otherwise referred to as the Kurdish militia who had been US allies in the fight to defeat ISIS.

Retired General Barry McCaffrey questioned whether the US has stooped to piracy, and stressed that Syria owns the oil in Deir Ez Zor.

“International law seeks to protect against exactly this sort of exploitation,” said Laurie Blank, an Emory Law School professor and director of its Center for International and Comparative Law. “It is not only a dubious legal move, it sends a message to the whole region and the world that America wants to steal the oil,” said Bruce Riedel, a former national security advisor and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think-tank.

“We’re out. But we are leaving soldiers to secure the oil. And we may have to fight for the oil. It’s OK. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there’s massive amounts of oil,” President Trump said Sunday morning, after announcing Baghdadi’s death.

“We’re keeping the oil,” President Trump told a gathering in Chicago on Monday. “Remember that. I’ve always said: Keep the oil. We want to keep the oil – $45 million a month. Keep the oil.”

“What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly … and spread out the wealth,” President Trump said during a news conference.

Syria produced around 400,000 barrels of oil per day before the war from numerous fields scattered around the country. An IMF paper in 2016 estimated that production had slipped to just 40,000 barrels per day.

Defense officials stress the military objective is to keep ISIS from using the Deir Ez Zor oil resources to finance a possible resurgence, rather than the US looting resources in Syria for their own benefit, which would bring back memories of President George W. Bush and VP Dick Cheney in Iraq plundering the profits of one of the largest oil producers in the world, and President Obama looting the Libyan oil fields.

U.S. National Security advisor, Robert O’Brien, said

“We’re going to be there for a period of time to maintain control of those and make sure that there is not a resurgence of ISIS and make sure that the Kurds have some revenue from those oil fields,” while speaking to NBC News’ Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

President Trump was in a hurry to make good on a campaign promise of 2016, as his current 2020 campaign is mired in daily scandals and revelations relating to impeachment investigations.  Trump announced he was ordering his troops home from northeast Syria, ahead of a planned Turkish invasion to push back a Syrian militia made up of Kurds who have been on the US payroll, allied with the US troops had fought and defeated ISIS in the 2014-2019 period.  Turkey had made their case known for years that they would not tolerate Kurdish armed terrorists on their border, regardless of the Kurds being US allies.  Turkey also considers itself to be a US ally, though they did not participate alongside the US in the fight against ISIS.

“It would mean walling off eastern Syria as a US zone,” said Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Washington.

Analysts have said for 8 years that one of the strategic goals of the US-NATO attack on Syria, beginning in March 2011, was the ultimate partitioning of the country into small states grouped by sect and ethnicity.  The current statements by Esper, support the position that the US has not abandoned the idea of a Kurdish homeland, ‘Rojava’, and are identifying a source of income for their administration.

President Trump’s sudden decision took the US military, politicians and international leaders by surprise.  It now appears he is doing some back-tracking on his plan and has announced on Friday he is sending US troops and equipment  back into Syria, but this time it is about a business deal: “…what we are getting out of the deal, I simply say, THE OIL,…”, he wrote on Twitter.

Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council and the UN’s former humanitarian chief, said “We need to remind all of these people with the power and the guns that this is no chessboard. It is a place where people live.”  Deir Ez Zor is almost entirely populated with Sunni Arabs, who would not accept a sudden demographic shift to Kurds and their US occupying allies.  Even if the US military and their SDF allies take control of the oil and gas fields there, the local population would most likely form into resistance militias which could end up sending US soldiers home in a coffin or injured.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said,

“Neither international law, nor the U.S. legislation, nothing can set any legitimate objective for U.S. troops to guard and defend Syria’s hydrocarbon deposits from Syria itself and its people.”

All eyes will be on Deir Ez Zor, for a possible showdown between Syria and their Russian ally, in a face-off against the US military to recover Syrian oil.

Posted in USA, Middle East, Russia, SyriaComments Off on “We’re Keeping the Oil” says Trump: Military Conflict Between Russia and the US Looms in Northeast Syria

I Went to Mexico to Meet Asylum-Seekers Trapped at the Border. This Is What I Saw.

By Ashoka Mukpo

Global Research,

Two weeks ago, I traveled to northern Mexico along with Mexican photographer Guillermo Arias to meet with asylum-seekers who’ve been trapped at the southern U.S. border by Trump Administration policies. Neither of us was prepared for what we saw there.

We visited two cities – Ciudad Juarez and Matamoros – to track down people who had been placed into the deceptively misnamed “Migrant Protection Protocols” that have slammed America’s door shut to people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries. Before we arrived, we wondered whether the stories we’d read of kidnappings, assaults, and despair were as widespread as they sounded. It didn’t take long for us to get our answer.

There is – right now, at this very moment – a humanitarian crisis unfolding at our southern border. And we are not paying enough attention to it.

First, a little context. The Trump Administration has been waging an all-out war on the U.S.’s asylum system, which for more than 50 years has provided shelter for people who need protection. To accomplish this reversal of tradition, they’ve put into place a series of policies that have made it nearly impossible for people to quickly and safely claim asylum at the southern border. Chief among them is the forced return to Mexico program, which has trapped tens of thousands of people in dangerous cartel-controlled cities in northern Mexico while they wait for distant court dates inside the U.S.

The circumstances these vulnerable people are facing in the meantime are dire. We saw them first-hand.

Mexican asylum-seekers sleep on the street near the Paso del Norte bridge in Ciudad Juarez, October 7, 2019.Guillermo Arias for the ACLU.

Everywhere we went, people told us stories of being kidnapped or extorted while stuck in Mexico. Many were sleeping in tent encampments on the streets while safety across the border was literally within sight, but legally out of reach. Some were packed into shelters set up by the Mexican government, sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder on thin mattresses on the floor of converted warehouses. Others were living in privately-run shelters with no security protocols to prevent intruders from intimidating or preying on them.

Matamoros is a small city right across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, just along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where corruption and cartel-related violence is so bad that the U.S. state department has given it the same travel advisory as Afghanistan and Somalia. It’s also become home to thousands of people who’ve fled Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and other parts of Mexico searching for safety.

Previously, they would have been processed through the asylum system and then either detained or released inside the U.S. while their claims were evaluated by an immigration judge. But now, they’re given a sheet of paper that tells them to come back to the border months later for their first hearing. In the meantime, they’re stuck, with nowhere to go and most often nobody to help them. Next to the Matamoros-Brownsville bridge, a tent camp has sprung up on a patch of pavement and dirt that around 2,000 asylum-seekers call home. The camp is growing every day.

Children of asylum-seekers eat near the Puente Nuevo Internacional bridge in Matamoros, October 12, 2019.Guillermo Arias for the ACLU.

The night before we visited, a storm system had swept through Texas, flooding the inside of the low-quality tents people were living in with rain. There was mud everywhere, and it was cold. Few people had the clothing to cope with the chilly temperatures, and the first few people we talked to were shivering, their teeth chattering as they spoke. Everywhere we looked, there were very young children sitting on curbs or hanging onto their parents.

One young man told us that in a tent nearby there was a Honduran woman with a newborn baby, so we stopped in to visit them. She’d delivered just five days earlier. Only 21 years old herself, she’d been living in the tent with her four-year-old daughter since being sent back to Matamoros by Customs and Border Protection agents. She said that when she’d first told CBP officers that she was pregnant, they suggested she get an abortion before telling her to come back for a court date over a month in the future.

A young mother sits inside her tent with her newborn child and daughter in Matamoros, October 12, 2019.Guillermo Arias for the ACLU.If Left Unchecked, Trump Will Obliterate the Right to Asylum

The tiny child was bundled into blankets in the small tent where it was spending its first days of life. Her mother coughed when she spoke, visibly exhausted. She said that she’d fled an abusive spouse and was too afraid to return to him. Later, one of the few health responders who visits the camp regularly told me that she was fearful about whether the child would survive conditions at the camp, which she said reminded her of refugee camps she’d worked at in Bangladesh.

“If there’s a cholera outbreak here, half of them could die,” she said.

Further up the hill next to the camp, along a wooded grove, lies the Rio Grande. There are a few makeshift showers near the camp, but they aren’t nearly enough for the entire camp to bathe, so many choose to wash and do their laundry at the bank of the river. The river is rife with pollution, and people living in the camp have developed rashes and other skin problems from bathing in it. Next to a small, muddy clearing, a series of white crosses stood in remembrance of the children who’ve died by drowning in the river in recent months.

Wooden crosses honoring children of asylum-seekers who drowned in the Rio Grande in Matamoros, October 12, 2019.Guillermo Arias for the ACLU.

A few nights before we visited the camp in Matamoros, some of its frustrated residents had staged a protest against conditions in the camp and the policies that have trapped them there, shutting down the bridge for 15 hours. “They keep telling us we have to wait longer and longer,” one told Buzzfeed News. “When will it end?”

Walking among the tents and meeting their gracious and welcoming occupants, I felt the weight of my country’s responsibility for their suffering. The insecurity, desperation, and discomfort of the people we were speaking with isn’t a corollary effect of the policy, it’s the core intent. The “Migrant Protection Protocols” were designed to make it so uncomfortable and dangerous for people who are seeking asylum that they will simply give up, exhausted and defeated, and return back to the dangerous situations they fled.

Many have, indeed, already done so.

Further along the border, in Ciudad Juarez, we visited a network of shelters that have been set up in recent months to cope with the roughly 17,000 asylum-seekers who’ve been returned there since mid-April. On one side of the spectrum was the newly-opened federal shelter, supervised by the Mexican government, which was housing over 500 people the week we were there. A converted warehouse with no individual rooms, people were sleeping on rows and rows of small mattresses lined up against the walls and across the middle of the large hall. Its inhabitants were there waiting for court hearings as far out as January of next year.

Asylum-seekers inside the Leona Vicario Federal shelter in Ciudad Juarez, October 9, 2019.Guillermo Arias for the ACLU.

We met with Venezuelans who’d fled the political crisis in their country and El Salvadorans who spoke of witnessing family members gunned down in front of them. People told us they’d been dropped off on darkened streets in Juarez by Customs and Border Protection with no idea where to go or what to do. One parent told us she’d had to wrestle with a man who tried to abduct her daughter in front of her. Some spoke of the dawning realization that they might now have no choice but to return to the very danger they’d run away from to begin with.

As we walked through the shelter, a woman approached us cautiously. She broke into tears and told us that a few nights earlier she’d woken up to see a man from the shelter trying to sexually assault her underage daughter. Could we help, she asked? We passed on her story to one of the administrative staff at the shelter.

At night, people gathered in a circle to sing hymns, the glittering lights of Juarez in the distance.

Asylum-seekers pray at the Leona Vicario Federal shelter in Ciudad Juarez, October 9, 2019.Guillermo Arias for the ACLU.

The Mexican government has been providing assistance to asylum-seekers who’ve grown exhausted with the long wait times and difficult conditions, helping to arrange travel back to their countries of origin. A staff member showed us a list of people who’d relented and returned home. In just two months, 205 people had made use of the program and left for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. 97 of them were minors.

While that shelter was crowded and lacking the barest level of privacy, it did have security protocols set up to protect people living there. There were heavy gates surrounding the facility and guards who checked the names and credentials of every visitor. This was not the case in other shelters we visited.

At one, a small horseshoe of villas surrounding a decrepit playground on the outskirts of Juarez, there was no gate or security guards at all. The risks facing people stuck there were immediately apparent. Juarez is a dangerous city, and criminals there have realized that migrants have relatives who will often pay ransoms if they are kidnapped. An unsecured shelter is a prime target.

We were there to interview a woman who said she’d been kidnapped near the border by Mexican police officers. She played messages for us that the kidnappers had sent from her phone to her relatives back home. And she told us that not long ago a truck filled with masked men had driven into the shelter and slowly circled the courtyard. Since then she hadn’t left her corner of the shelter very often.

An asylum-seeker in a private shelter in Ciudad Juarez, October 10, 2019.Guillermo Arias for the ACLU.

As she was telling us her story, we heard crying outside. A legal aid worker who’d brought us to the shelter said that a family living next door had just received word from their son that he’d been kidnapped that day. The boy had been picked up near the shelter and was now texting his mother the ransom demands of his assailants. Our escort offered to take her to a new shelter but she declined, saying she feared that it might seem like she was abandoning her son.

In the wake of a kidnapping the victim’s family may be placed under observation by the culprits, and we were told that the presence of journalists with cameras could further endanger the young man. So we quickly left.

In just a brief visit, we’d heard one detailed story of a kidnapping-for-ransom and witnessed another family living through that trauma in real time. The experience underscored the insecurity and fear that tens of thousands of asylum-seekers are being subjected to across the U.S. border right now.

Supporters of the new, punitive asylum processes say that most of the people seeking shelter at our southern border are liars who are after better work opportunities in the U.S. That simply did not gel with much of what we heard. One man said he’d been a municipal employee back home. He liked Honduras, and he hadn’t wanted to leave. But a street gang had threatened to murder him and his son if the young boy didn’t start selling drugs for them, so he felt they had no choice but to flee.

Another young woman from Nicaragua showed us pictures of the street demonstrations she’d participated in against President Daniel Ortega’s government. One of her friends who she’d marched with was killed and others were arrested, so she fled north. Only 19, she looked like a high-school student, speaking in a soft voice with her shoulders drooping as she recounted her separation from her sister at the border.

I have covered challenging stories across the world. For both Guillermo and I, this was a particularly difficult trip. I will not soon forget the eyes of the people we spoke with, at once tired and hopeful, nor their stories of determination, horror, and resilience. The shame I felt as an American while interviewing them was profound. Our country is turning its back on vulnerable people who need our help, right at our doorstop. We have to do better.

The danger they face will not soon come to an end, either. ACLU lawyers have filedsuit against every anti-asylum policy the Trump Administration has tried to implement, but the courts have allowed several policies to go forward for now while the litigation against them continues.

A young boy sits in the parking lot at the Leona Vicario Federal shelter in Ciudad Juarez, October 7, 2019.Guillermo Arias for the ACLU.

The attack on vulnerable people seeking asylum at our border is a political crisis, and we have to start approaching it as the matter of life-and-death that it is. We need our elected representatives – including Democrats vying for the nomination – to take a clear stand and explain what they’ll do to roll back these abusive policies as soon as possible.

At stake is our identity as a country. The people asking us for help at our border are no less human than we are, and we have the capacity to help them. How will we respond to their suffering? Wil we allow the most hateful and uncaring among us to write our history, or will we fight back and demand better? There are tens of thousands of eyes cast towards us at the border right now waiting for our answer.

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on I Went to Mexico to Meet Asylum-Seekers Trapped at the Border. This Is What I Saw.

Beirut Is Burning: Rebellion Against the Elites Has Commenced

By Andre Vltchek

Global Research,

Tires are burning, smoke is rising towards the sky. It is October, the 18th day of the month, the capital city of Lebanon, in the past known as the “Paris of the East”, is covered in smoke.

For years I was warning that the country governed by corrupt, indifferent elites, could not hold together, indefinitely.

For all those five years when I was calling Beirut home, things were going down the drain. Nothing was improving: almost no public transportation, electricity shortages, contaminated and erratic water supply. Periodically, garbage has been piling up along the streets and suburban roads. Once an airplane lands and the doors open, the terrible stench of garbage welcomes us, residents of Beirut, back home.

Almost everyone knew that all this could not continue like this, forever.

The city was suffering from 4th World diseases, while simultaneously being flooded with Land Rover SUVs, Maserati and Porsche sports cars, and Armani suits.

Beirut has almost collapsed to Jakarta levels, although, one has to admit, with extremely smart, highly educated and sophisticated elites, capable of conversing simultaneously in three world languages: French, Arabic and English. Also, with first rate art galleries, art cinemas, posh bars and nightclubs. With lavish marinas and the best bookstores in the entire Middle East.

Some say that Beirut has always been in possession of brain and guts, but something happened to its heart.

Now nothing really works here. But if you have millions of dollars, it does not really matter; you can buy anything here. If you are poor, destitute – abandon all hope. And the majority of the people here are now miserably poor. And no one even knows precisely how many are destitute, as a census is forbidden, in order ‘not to disturb religious balance’ (it was, for years, somehow agreed on, that it is better not to know how many Christians or Muslims are residing in the country).

It is certain that most of people are not rich. And now, outraged by their rulers, corrupt politicians and so-called elites, they are shouting, loudly and clearly: “Enough!”, Halas, down with the regime!”

*

The government decided to impose a tax on WhatsApp calls. Not a big deal, some would say. But it was; it is, it suddenly became a big deal. “The last drop”, perhaps.

The city exploded. Barricades were erected. Tires were set on fire. Everywhere: in the poorest as well as in the richest neighborhoods.

“Revolution!” people began shouting.

Lebanon has a history of left-wing, even Communist insurgencies. It also has its fair share of religious, right-wing fanaticism. Which one will win? Which one will be decisive, during this national rebellion?

The Communist Party is now behind several marches. But Hezbollah, until now the most solid social force in the country, is not yet convinced that the government of Saad al Hariri, should simply resign.

According to Reuters:

“Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said… that the group was not demanding the government’s resignation amid widespread national protests.

Nasrallah said in a televised speech that he supported the government, but called for a new agenda and “new spirit,” adding that ongoing protests showed the way forward was not new taxes.”

Any tax imposed on the poor would push him to call supporters to go take to the streets, Nasrallah added.”

So far, the rebellion has left countless people injured, while two Syrian immigrants lost their lives. Some local analysts say that this is the most serious uprising since the one in 2015 (which included the “You Stink!” campaign, reacting to the appalling garbage crises in Beirut and to the worsening social disaster), but others, including this author, are convinced that this is actually the most serious political catastrophe Lebanon has been facing since the 1980’s.

One hears anger, on every corner of the capital, in cafes and local stores:

“Trust is broken!”

Even those who used to be far from any political activities, are now supporting protesters.

Ms. Jehan, a local staff member at a UN office in Beirut, is one of those who found herself on the side of the rebellion:

“What is happening to Beirut and all over in Lebanon is good. It is about time we stood up. I will go too. This has nothing to do with religions. It is about our shattered lives.”

*

Reading Western mainstream media, one could begin to believe that Lebanon’s main problems are issues like foreign debt (Lebanon is, on a per capita basis, the third most indebted country on earth. The debt stands at 150% of its GDP), miniscule real reserves (US$ 10 billion), and the way the country interacts with the donors and lenders. IMF and its “advice” are constantly mentioned.

But even news agencies like Reuters have to admit that the entire mess is far from just about structural problems:

“As dollars have dried up, banks have effectively stopped lending and can no longer make basic foreign-exchange transactions for clients, one banker said.”

““The whole role of banks is to pour money into the central bank to finance the government and protect the currency,” he said. “Nothing is being done on the fiscal deficit because doing something will disrupt the systems of corruption.””

And here is the key word: “Corruption!”

Lebanon’s elites are shamelessly corrupt. Only such countries like Indonesia are able to compete with the Lebanese troglodyte clans, when it comes to stripping the entire nation of its riches.

Almost nothing is clean, or pure in Lebanon, and that is also why there aren’t any statistics available.

Money comes from the monstrous and ruthless exploitation of natural resources in West Africa. Everybody knows it, but it is never addressed, publicly. I worked in West Africa, and I know what the racist Lebanese ‘business people’ are doing there. But money stolen from the Africans does not enrich Lebanon and its people. It ends up in the Lebanese banks, and spent on lavish yachts, tacky and overpriced European sports cars, and inside bizarre private clubs in and around the capital. While many Lebanese people are near starvation, airplanes flying to Nice, Venice or Greek Islands are constantly packed with la dolce vita seekers.

Lebanon makes billions of dollars from narcotics, particularly those cultivated and refined in the Beqaa Valley. They get exported mainly to Saudi Arabia, for the consumption of the rich, or injected into the battlefields in Yemen and Syria, so-called combat drugs. Again, everyone knows it, but nothing is done to stop it. Hundreds of families, from farmers to politicians, got filthy rich on that trade. This adds a few more super-yachts at the proverbial Beirut marinas.

Then, there is ‘foreign aid’, ‘European investment into infrastructure’, Saudi and Qatari money. Most of it goes, directly, into the pockets of corrupt officials, to the so-called ‘government’, and to its buddies, contractors. Almost nothing is built, but the money is gone. Lebanon has railroad employees who are getting their monthly paychecks, but no railways, anymore. Train station had been converted into vodka bar. Lebanon begs for money so it can host refugees from all over the region, but much of the money ends up in a few deep pockets. Very little goes to the refugees themselves, or to the poor Lebanese people who have to compete for low-paying jobs with the desperate Syrians or Palestinians.

The poor are getting poorer. Yet, Ethiopian, Philippine and Kenyan maids are dragging the groceries of the rich, wiping spit off the faces of babies born into elite families, and cleaning toilets. Some get tortured by their masters, many commit suicide. Lebanon is a tough place, for those who do not look Phoenician or European.

And the slums in the south of Beirut are growing. And some Lebanese cities, like Tripoli in the north, look like tremendous slums, altogether.

Ali, a receptionist at a hotel in downtown Beirut laments:

“I work here as a receptionist for 14 hours and earn only 540 USD every month. I need a minimum of 700 USD to survive. I have a sister in US and want to visit her only for a week, but there is no way I can get visa. I am only 24 years old. I see no future in this country, like so many thousand others protesting in the streets of Beirut.”

According to various estimates, Lebanon may collapse as early as in February 2020. No more money can be looted. The end game is approaching.

If it does collapse, the rich will have their golden parachutes. They have their families abroad: in Australia, Brazil, France. Some have two passports, others have houses in the most desirable parts of the world.

The poor will be left with absolutely nothing: with a carcass of a country, previously looted by its own elites. There will be rotting, ageing Ferraris, all over, but one cannot eat carcasses of cars. There will be lavish but abandoned swimming pools, right next to polluted and destroyed beaches.

People know it, and they have had enough.

Mohamed, a worker at a Starbucks cafe in Beirut is determined:

“This is terrible but it is about time. We can take no more. We need to change the country, drastically. This time things are different. Not about who we worship but about our daily lives.”

Lebanon, in comparison to other shamelessly-capitalist countries, is well-educated. People here cannot be fooled.

The rebellion against the elites has just begun. People want to take back their country.

President Berri knows a lot about the movement: not all is known

President Nabih Berri is following with some concern the trend taken by the new situation in Lebanon, especially as the time is passing and the cost is high, especially on the economic and financial levels, with no one yet to have a clear vision of the way out of the impasse and the movement from its arena.

Berri told his visitors yesterday that the government change is not yet possible, wondering: Who ensures that the movement will stop at this point, and will not be required to meet other demands to get out of the street, especially since the spokesmen of this movement are many and their demands vary?

Berri insists that avoiding a vacuum should be avoided, suggesting that he knows a great deal about the dimensions of what is going on, but not all is known.

Berri explains that the parliamentary session set for November 5 is still on schedule, “and I will preside over it, whatever the circumstances, because the work of the committees should be launched, especially the Finance Committee, which should begin to study the draft budget,” stressing that the House of Representatives will not close, It is required to activate its activity in such situations ».

When one of the MPs in attendance asked about the possibility of holding meetings of the Finance Committee outside the headquarters of the Council in central Beirut, if its members could not reach it, if the movement continues on the ground, Berri replied: This is not on the table, and it is not true that the Committee holds its meetings only in the Council, The military and security forces are interested in taking the necessary measures.

What about the continued blocking of some roads? Berri warns that this behavior harms the demonstrators in the first place, “because it generates an alienation between them and other citizens and thus harms their cause.”

When asked about his explanation of the flexibility with which the army deals with the phenomenon of road blocking by protesters, he said: Ask the army.

The President of the Council was told that the demonstrators considered this method to be the best way to hurt and pressure the Authority to meet their demands. He replied with a smile: My advice to them is that there are 138 other means through which they can put pressure on the Authority other than blocking the streets. . “I am ready to put my experiences on this level in their behavior,” he said, laughing.

Regarding the possibility of a dialogue with representatives of the Popular Movement regarding their proposals, Berri points out that President Michel Aoun expressed his readiness to talk to them and open the doors of Baabda Palace to them.

Why don’t you address direct speeches to the Lebanese in general, especially the demonstrators who wonder about the secret of your silence? Berry answers: What will I tell them? There is no workaround yet to be based on any view.

Could early parliamentary elections be the way out of the current impasse, as some protesters are demanding?

Berri stresses that the decision in this regard is the prerogative of the President of the Council exclusively, saying: Leave this issue to Nabih Berri .. Let me in it. Before proceeding with the elections, let us first agree on the electoral law.

Would you accept early elections if your project was approved? Berri responds immediately: If this happens, I am with the elections yesterday before today, and I consider that the project presented by us is an advanced approach to abolish political sectarianism and build a civil state.

The President of the Council stresses that his meeting with the delegation of the bloc «Strong Lebanon» was positive, «We have reached an understanding on cooperation in the legislative field», pointing out that they discussed during the meeting the draft laws submitted by the bloc on anti-corruption.

In this context, Berri explains that he informed the delegation that the draft lifting of immunities needs a constitutional amendment, because the Constitution notes immunity, «and if the bloc is ready to enter into an amendment of this kind, I am ready».

Emad Marmal – The Republic

Posted in LebanonComments Off on Beirut Is Burning: Rebellion Against the Elites Has Commenced

Fake Narratives as Cover for High Crimes. The Al Baghdadi ISIS-Daesh “Fairytale”

By Mark Taliano

Global Research,

Western stories about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are meant to confuse, to distract, and to strengthen fake narratives.

First, the West supports Daesh in Syria (and beyond). It isn’t a secret. High profile people such as Tulsi Gabbard even admit it.

.

CNN Politics@CNNPolitics

Tulsi Gabbard: “This current President is continuing to betray us. We were supposed to be going after al Qaeda, but over years now, not only have we not gone after al Qaeda … our President is supporting al Qaeda” #DemDebate7142:37 AM – Aug 1, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy389 people are talking about this

Second, it provides a distraction from what is really happening in Syria. Whereas the West has been destroying Syria and stealing its resources throughout the war, now Washington is basically admitting that it is stealing Syrian resources.

Finally, it fortifies the fake “War on Terror” myth which inverts the truth, which is that the West supports terrorism in all its forms as it commits war crimes as policy.

The political spectacles, the transparent war lies, the fake narratives, obscure foundational issues.

The Right to Self-Determination is foundational to International Law. Syria has every right to take any and all necessary measures to regain ITS OWN OIL FIELDS. Washington has ZERO rights to steal the oil. Syria did not EVER invite Washington and its allies like Canada to impose a REGIME CHANGE war.

The Charter of the United Nations prioritizes the right of nations to determine their own, self-directed political economies.

The right to self-determination is “apart from and before all other rights”:

Adopted at the Twenty-first Session of the Human Rights Committee, on 13 March 1984Syrians Matter: They have Chosen NOT to be Occupied by the West’s Al Qaeda Terrorists

1. In accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes that all peoples have the right of self-determination. The right of self-determination is of particular importance because its realization is an essential condition for the effective guarantee and observance of individual human rights and for the promotion and strengthening of those rights. It is for that reason that States set forth the right of self-determination in a provision of positive law in both Covenants and placed this provision as article 1 apart from and before all of the other rights in the two Covenants. (1)

International Law outlaws imperialism and colonialism. The West’s Supreme International War Crimes should be front and center in everyone’s minds. The Hollywood script wrapped around the supposed death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi should be relegated to the comedy sections of “news” reporting.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, Iraq, Middle East, SyriaComments Off on Fake Narratives as Cover for High Crimes. The Al Baghdadi ISIS-Daesh “Fairytale”

Truth About Syria.”How Could Corporate Journalists Get Away with Their Lies…”

By Alison Banville

Global Research,

Damascus, December 2018. Two great independent journalists sit down together: Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley 


Eva Bartlett
: ‘when I arrived on the 29th (of December 2018) I was told that, aside from yourself (gestures to Vanessa Beeley), I was the only other western journalist in Syria. And it struck me not so much as surprising, in fact it’s more expected, that corporate media journalists could very well be here, but they’re not.’ 

Vanessa Beeley: ‘Well, there’s been silence in the media about what is effectively a victory for Syria, for the secularism of Syria against extremism and persecution and tyranny.’ 

***

In April 2017 I made my first trip to Syria because of these two inspiring women. Having been awakened to the bias, distortion and outright lies of the corporate media for
many years I had found others who shared my anger and frustration and had done my best through online campaigning an
writing to challenge those who dare call them journalists but who obediently, enthusiastically and willfully amplify the narrative fed them by their official sources. Their stenography has abetted the murderous wars that have killed, literally, millions of innocent people and it is no slander to accuse these media criminals of having blood on their hands. And when it comes to Syria, the blood stains on those corporate journalists’ hands can never be washed away.

I didn’t trust mainstream media reports, of course, when they first talked of an ‘uprising’ in Syria and a ‘brutal’ crackdown by the government, but thanks to Vanessa Beeley (image right) and Eva Bartlett (image leftand their, sometimes, life-risking efforts to bring the truth out of Syria, I realised just how poi
soned the dark pool of propaganda against this sovereign nation actually was, and as time went on it was brought home to me, as I watched corporate journalists reporting from Beirut before introducing the latest White Helmet fictional production, that as an independent journalist myself, I simply had to go to Syria and report first-hand on what I found there. My co-editor at BSNewsMike Raddie, made the first journey for our website, in 2016 when I had been unable to join him, but in 2017 we both made the trip which was to change my life.
Corporate Media Exposed For Reporting Syria Misinformation. Canadian Journalist Eva Bartlett

Damascus in April 2017 was still being shelled from Ghouta (the civilian death toll being now 11,000 deaths) and the district of Bab Touma where we were staying had been targeted, as both Vanessa and Eva have reported. So it was with a strange kind of joy that we drove through the Old City gate, guarded by Syrian Army soldiers, to arrive at our hotel. It was exhilarating knowing I was finally here! And the next morning, when the sound of an explosion in the near distance woke me up, there was a surreal sense that I had passed through into a parallel reality. But this was life for the people of Damascus: the waiters and waitresses glided back and forth throughout breakfast as the booms continued and in the streets people were going about their business much as you see here in this video I shot last year as we walked back to our hotel through Bab Touma.

That well-worn phrase ‘an indomitable spirit’  became infused with deeper meaning as I walked the streets of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs in 2017. The affect upon me of our visit to East Aleppo talking to residents who’d had children murdered by the terrorists is beyond my powers of description to fully convey, but it left a mark on my soul that will never be erased. In Homs, too, we met those who had suffered this most unimaginable of horrors, igniting a special kind of anguish within me fueled by the fact that the Syrian people are suffering at the hands of my own government which meant an involuntary apology hovered on my lips during my encounters. However, we were met everywhere with a moving understanding, being told more than once that ‘people are not their governments’, a sentiment I wrote about last year from Damascus where we happened to be when the UK, US and France bombed in ‘retaliation’ for the ‘Assad chemical attack’ in Douma, which was, of course, another despicable propaganda exercise.

We also returned to Aleppo last year, a city that has found a very special place in my heart, and to see it rising again with bustling cafes and building work everywhere I felt uplifted by the sheer resilience and bravery of a people who have resisted an imperial onslaught that has ravaged and devoured so many other nations.

The Syrian people have given up their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters to be martyred in a battle for all our survival; how tragic then that news consumers in the West do not know what a debt they owe. George Orwell couldn’t have written anything more sinister and Goebbels himself could not have devised a more nefarious propaganda strategy than the one to which Syria has been subjected. I have seen time and again in my everyday life how those who are happy to be spoon fed their news by corporate sources react on command to the ‘trusted’ information they absorb. But these willfully ignorant citizens in Western countries carry a responsibility for the carnage in Syria and they must learn – they will learn in the end – that there was no fence to sit on when crimes of this magnitude were being committed by their governments. I once read that western populations are the most ignorant and apathetic in the world and I have to agree.

How could corporate journalists get away with their lies if they were consistently held to account by an awakened audience? This is the job of every responsible citizen, not just a few independent activists like myself who have taken up the pen in order to expose the rotten nexus that is setting the world aflame for profit and power. It has to stop. And Syria has been the field upon which the endgame has played out, testing every one of us to stand up and declare our allegiances. Thoreau wrote in 1849 that slavery called upon every person to declare their opposition to it and to act upon that moral stance even if it meant imprisonment. He stated that the issue divides nations, communities, families, and even the individual, separating ‘the diabolical in him from the divine.’ And so it is with Syria.

This conflict has tested even seasoned media activists and found them wanting: Media Lens have refused to support Vanessa Beeley, a journalist embodying everything they have pleaded for in their books and online output for almost twenty years. They could not bear the heat of the fire that Vanessa lives with every day for even a moment, and so they have helped to suppress the voices of Syrians, ironically aiding the very forces they have railed against for so long. They folded when it truly mattered, unlike their ally John Pilger who publicly and unequivocally declared his support for Vanessa from the start without hesitation.

When the truth is at stake our actions tell us who we really are.

And for the independent journalist that means knowingly devoting yourself to a path that will never bring the material rewards or accolades of a corporate career.

But what price integrity? What price truth? We fund ourselves with part-time jobs or much appreciated donations and we have, in reality, something a corporate hack will never know – freedom.

And no amount of money in the world can buy that. I have crowdfunded my upcoming trip to Syria and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who helped me reach my target so that I can now go. Support for journalism that counters the mainstream’s lies is never more vital than in this historical moment. The voices of the Syrian people must be brought out for the world to hear.

There are just a few days left before my funder closes and every penny beyond my target will be used to that end. Thank you.

Support Alison at Alison Banville’s crowdfunder 

Posted in Media, SyriaComments Off on Truth About Syria.”How Could Corporate Journalists Get Away with Their Lies…”


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