Archive | November 16th, 2019

Who Was the Founder of the White Helmets? Was He Killed by the Islamic State (ISIS-Daesh)?

By Nauman Sadiq

The founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, was found dead on November 11 in suspicious circumstances after falling off a two-story apartment building in downtown Istanbul. He was a former British army veteran and a private security contractor from 2008 to 2012 working for Good Harbor [1], run by Richard Clarke, the former Bush administration counter-terrorism czar.

Much like Erik Prince of the Blackwater fame, Le Mesurier’s work included training several thousand mercenaries for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) oil and gas field protection force, and designing security infrastructure for the police state of Abu Dhabi.

Although the police in Istanbul are treating the incident as suicide, it’s obvious that a person of his background and training would never attempt suicide by jumping off a two-story building. Because such a fall might have fractured a few bones but it was highly unlikely to cause death.

The assassination of James Le Mesurier should be viewed in the backdrop of the killing of the Islamic State’s chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 27 in a US special-ops raid. It’s important to note in the news coverage of the killing of al-Baghdadi that although the mainstream media has been trumpeting for the last several years that the Islamic State’s fugitive leader was hiding somewhere on the Iraq-Syria border in the east, he was found hiding in the northwestern Idlib governorate, under the control of Turkey’s militant proxies and al-Nusra Front, and was killed while trying to flee to Turkey in Barisha village five kilometers from the border.

The reason why the mainstream media scrupulously avoided mentioning Idlib as al-Baghdadi’s most likely hideout in Syria was to cover up the collusion between the militant proxies of Turkey and the jihadists of al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Unsurprisingly, the White Helmets area of operations is also Idlib governorate in Syria where they are allowed to conduct purported “rescue operations” and “humanitarian work” under the tutelage of al-Nusra Front.

In fact, the corporate media takes the issue of Islamic jihadists “commingling” with Turkey-backed “moderate rebels” in Idlib so seriously – which could give the Syrian government the pretext to mount an offensive in northwest Syria – that the New York Times cooked up an exclusive report [2] a couple of days after the special-ops night raid, on October 30, that the Islamic State paid money to al-Nusra Front for hosting al-Baghdadi in Idlib.

The morning after the night raid, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported [3] on Sunday, October 27, that a squadron of eight helicopters accompanied by warplanes belonging to the international coalition had attacked positions of Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, in Idlib province where the Islamic State chief was believed to be hiding.

Despite detailing the operational minutiae of the special-ops raid, the mainstream news coverage of the raid deliberately elided over the crucial piece of information that the compound in Barisha village five kilometers from Turkish border where al-Baghdadi was killed belonged to Hurras al-Din, an elusive terrorist outfit which has previously been targeted several times in the US airstrikes.

Although Hurras al-Din is generally assumed to be an al-Qaeda affiliate, it is in fact the regrouping of the Islamic State jihadists under a different name in northwestern Idlib governorate after the latter terrorist organization was routed from Mosul and Anbar in Iraq and Raqqa and Deir al-Zor in Syria and was hard pressed by the US-led coalition’s airstrikes in eastern Syria.

According to “official version” [4] of Washington’s story regarding the killing of al-Baghdadi, the choppers took off from an American airbase in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, flew hundreds of miles over the enemy territory in the airspace controlled by the Syrian and Russian air forces, killed the self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State in a Hollywood-style special-ops raid, and took the same route back to Erbil along with the dead body of the “caliph” and his belongings.

Although Washington has conducted several airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib in the past, those were carried out by fixed-wing aircraft that fly at high altitudes, and the aircraft took off from American airbases in Turkey, which is just across the border from Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. Why would Washington take the risk of flying its troops at low altitudes in helicopters over the hostile territory controlled by myriads of Syria’s heavily armed militant outfits?

In fact, several Turkish journalists, including Rajip Soylu, the Turkey correspondent for the Middle East Eye, tweeted [5] on the night of the special-ops raid that the choppers took off from the American airbase in Turkey’s Incirlik.

As for al-Baghdadi, who was “hiding” with the blessing of Turkey, it now appears that he was the bargaining chip in the negotiations between Trump and Erdogan, and the quid for the US president’s agreeing to pull out of Syria was the pro quo that Erdogan would hand Baghdadi to him on a silver platter.

It’s worth noting that although Idlib governorate in Syria’s northwest has firmly been under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) led by al-Nusra Front since 2015, its territory was equally divided between Turkey-backed rebels and al-Nusra Front.

In a brazen offensive in January, however, al-Nusra Front’s jihadists completely routed Turkey-backed militants, even though the latter were supported by a professionally trained and highly organized military of a NATO member, Turkey. And al-Nusra Front now reportedly controls more than 70% territory in the Idlib governorate.

The reason why al-Nusra Front has been easily able to defeat Turkey-backed militants appears to be that the ranks of al-Nusra Front have now been swelled by highly motivated and battle-hardened jihadist deserters from the Islamic State after the fall of the latter’s “caliphate” in Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

In all likelihood, some of the Islamic State’s jihadists who joined the battle in Idlib in January were part of the same contingent of thousands of Islamic State militants that fled Raqqa in October 2017 under a deal brokered [6] by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The merger of al-Nusra Front and Islamic State in Idlib doesn’t come as a surprise, though, since the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front used to be a single organization before a split occurred between the two militant groups in April 2013 over a leadership dispute. In fact, al-Nusra Front’s chief Abu Mohammad al-Jolani was reportedly appointed [7] the emir of al-Nusra Front by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, in January 2012.

Finally, regarding the assassination of the founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, in downtown Istanbul, it’s worth pointing out that Turkey has been hosting 3.6 million Syrian refugees and myriad factions of Ankara-backed militant proxies. It’s quite easy for the jihadists of al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State to intermingle with Syrian refugees and militants in the Turkish refugee camps.ISIS Chief Al-Baghdadi Killed on Turkish Border while Fleeing Idlib

Evidently, one of the members of the White Helmets operating in al-Nusra’s territory in Syria’s Idlib betrayed his patrons for the sake of getting a reward, and conveyed crucial piece of information to Le Mesurier who then transmitted it to the British and American intelligence leading to the October 27 special-ops raid killing al-Baghdadi. In all likelihood, the assassination of the founder of the White Helmets was the Islamic State’s revenge for betraying its slain chief.

Notes

[1] The most dangerous job in the World: Syria’s Elite Rescue Force

[2] ISIS Leader Paid Rival for Protection but Was Betrayed by His Own

[3] Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed in US raid

[4] Official story of the night raid killing al-Baghdadi

[5] Trump Confirms ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Killed In US Raid

[6] Raqqa’s dirty secret: the deal that let Islamic State jihadists escape Raqqa

[7] Al-Jolani was appointed as the emir of al-Nusra Front by al-Baghdadi

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The Costs of an Illegal Military Occupation: Trump Demands Five-Fold Increase in Payments from South Korea

Officials scramble to justify Trump’s demand for $4.7 billion

By Jason Ditz

South Korea has historically paid an unusually large percentage of the cost of keeping US forces there, and under pressure from President Trump, agreed earlier this year to a substantial increase, with South Korea agreeing to pay $924 million annually.

Since then, Trump had suggested a few times that he wanted more, and that South Korea could easily afford it. His new demand, however, shocked everyone on both sides as he is demanding over five times what South Korea is paying, $4.7 billion annually.

This is raising a lot of questions in South Korea about the viability of keeping the US around, but the bigger task is for US officials, who are trying to somehow justify a $4.7 billion price tag that seemingly came out of nowhere.

South Korea, after all, was paying a lot of the cost of US forces already, then agreed to pay more. It is going to take massive amounts of creative math to even argue that the US presence costs what Trump is now demanding. Early indications are that officials will try to argue that South Korea’s relative economic prosperity is because of the US presence and that the US deserves to take a cut.

But some officials are also worrying that this isn’t an isolated matter, and that what Trump is doing now in South Korea could be a bellwether for upcoming demands in Germany and Japan, other nations Trump has long been keen to get more money out of.

Though Trump seems to believe these nations have no choice but to pay up, they may ultimately decide the US troop presence simply isn’t affordable, and that other arrangements make more sense.

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

Featured image is from Antiwar.com South Korea Should “Brexit” the United States

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In Bolivia, the American Empire Strikes Back

By Danny Haiphong

Evo Morales’ fourth term was over before it began. After winning the latest presidential election by over 600,000 votes, a flurry of violence on the part of the U.S.-backed opposition in Bolivia pressured Evo to step down. Evo’s home was vandalized and several party members of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) threatened with violence. The coup in Bolivia, which was solidified by recommendation from the military, is the latest of dozens of military coups spearheaded by the United States over the last century and a half. U.S. imperialism has viewed Latin America as its backyard since 1823 when it declared the “right to protect” the region in the Monroe Doctrine. It was at this time that the American Empire replaced the Spanish Empire as the foreign power responsible for keeping Latin America in a state of oppression, dependency, and poverty.

After over a century of U.S. imperial aggression, Evo Morales arose as one of the most revolutionary leaders of the movement for socialism in the 21st century in Latin America—a movement that gained significant traction after the election of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 1998. MAS has been in power since 2006. The MAS has acted as a vehicle for workers and peasants to assert their dignity and self-determination. Trade union, indigenous, and women’s organizations have all played a major role in the implementation of social policy under Evo’s leadership. Economic growth in Bolivia has increased by an average of five percent per year, with many of the gains distributed to the indigenous populations formally dispossessed by centuries of colonial and neocolonial rule. Extreme poverty has been cut in half over the same period.

U.S. imperialism sought to dispose of Evo Morales and his indigenous-led movement even before it came to power. A FOIA request found that in 2002, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had earmarked 97 million dollars to assist “regional autonomy” projects and right-wing opposition political parties in Bolivia. These funds helped develop a U.S.-aligned political infrastructure in Bolivia responsible for the coup. The USAID has acted as the political arm of the IMF, World Bank, CIA, and the Bolivian elites who do their bidding. One of the “protest leaders” of the right-wing opposition, Luis Fernando Camacho, is the son of the founder of Sergas, a gas corporation which owes over two million USD to the Bolivian state for tax evasion and fraud. Under U.S. leadership, petty capitalists such as the Camacho family have used NGOs funded by USAID to overthrow Evo and his nationalization decree that placed petroleum, electricity, telecommunications, and mining sectors under the direction of the state.PSL Statement: We Condemn Military Coup; US Hands Off Bolivia

The coup being waged by the right-wing opposition has been labeled a “protest movement” by the U.S. corporate media. Coup plotters such as oligarch and former Bolivian President Carlos Mesa have alleged that their protests have come in response to election fraud. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, no evidence of irregularities or fraudulent activities were found in the election results. The baseless claim was used by the imperialist corporate media to provide cover for the violent military coup. MAS politicians have been forced to flee their homes, government buildings have been burned, and the Bolivian economy has been ground to a halt. The oligarchy in Bolivia is out for blood and it has the police and military on its side.

This is not the first time that the American Empire has waged a violent coup in Bolivia. The CIA provided military and technical support to right-wing military dictator René Barrientos. Barrientos took power by way of military coup in 1964. His brutal suppression of the peasant uprising to his rule led to the assassination of Che Guevara. In 1971, the U.S. backed right-wing general Hugo Bánzer Suárez with the help of the U.S. Air Force. Hundreds of leftists and political activists would be murdered by his regime.

The coup of Evo Morales comes as the left in Latin America was making a resurgence amid countless attempts by the American empire to destroy their social democratic project. In late October, Argentina elected Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Fernández de Kirchneras president and vice president, effectively ending the right-wing and neoliberal rule of Mauricio Macri. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Ecuador and forced Lenin Moreno to back away from an IMF deal which would have imposed harsh austerity measures on workers, students, and peasants. Lula Da Silva was released from prison to begin November. Lula’s freedom represented a concrete victory for a Brazilian left currently facing enormous challenges under the rule of former officer of the fascist military dictatorship, Jair Bolsonaro.

The American Empire has struck back against the left in Latin America with a devastating blow in Bolivia. There are many lessons to learn from the U.S.-backed coup. For one, too few in the belly of the U.S. empire are prepared to come to the defense of the peoples’ struggle in Latin America or anywhere else. The corporate media has placed a national blinder on the host of coups staged by the American empire in the last ten years alone, whether we are talking about the Clinton-Obama coup in Honduras in 2009 or the ouster of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in 2016.  Awash in white supremacist ideology and confined to the most unrestrained form of capitalism on the planet, workers and poor people in the U.S. have few avenues from which to express concrete solidarity with the Bolivian masses.

Another lesson of the U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia is that the so-called “end of history” proclaimed by the American empire after the fall of the Soviet Union was a complete and utter lie. The American empire is “capitalist to the bones” and its rulers believed the world would remain under its thumb indefinitely. Evo Morales and the rest of the socialist left in Latin America, while unable to completely expropriate the property and power of the oligarchs, were able to lead a mass movement toward the dignity and self-determination of the oppressed. This path required that the seeds of socialism were sewn into the fabric of governance throughout Latin America. Whether it’s called “Chavismo,” “21st century socialism,” or the “pink tide,” this movement has empowered workers and peasants to unify across borders to alleviate poverty, underdevelopment, and imperial dependency.

Evo Morales was at the forefront of Latin America’s burgeoning internationalism. He was a huge supporter of Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).  Furthermore, Evo challenged the American empire on the military front by advocating for the development of a continental military united in defending the sovereignty of Latin America. The so-called “end of history” was thus nothing more than an arrogant display of American imperial hubris that only clouded its true interests abroad. Socialism has remained the American empire’s public enemy number one even after the end of the so-called Cold War. The American Empire does not respect democracy or elections, just the profits of the few. Evo’s Bolivia is paying the price for placing the needs of poor Bolivians ahead of the riches of the elite.

Perhaps the most important lesson from the coup in Bolivia is that the struggle for socialism and self-determination is far from over. The oligarchs seeking to wrestle control of Bolivia and the entire continent back from the workers and peasants will stop at nothing to lynch Evo Morales. A warrant is out for his arrest even though he has committed no crime. The oligarchs want to bring the working class back into a state of total misery. While the ouster of Evo Morales is indeed a significant defeat, the socialist movement in Latin America will no doubt fight back. The people of Bolivia will fight back. Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and other allied nations will do everything they can to support the MAS through a difficult transition. It is important that the left living in the belly of the American empire find a way to do the same.

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The Coup in Bolivia: Five Lessons

The Coup in Bolivia: Five Lessons

By Atilio A. Boron

The Bolivian tragedy teaches us various lessons that our people and the peoples social and political forces must learn from and record in our consciences forever. Here is a brief listjotted down quickly, and as a prelude to a more detailed analysis in the future.

First: despite the exemplary economic administration of the Government of Evo which guaranteed growth, redistribution, flow of investments and improvements in the macro and micro economic indicators, the right-wing and imperialist forces will never accept a government that does not lend itself to the services of its interests.

Second: it is necessary to study the manuals published by diverse agencies of the US and it’s spokespersons disguised as academics and journalists in order to perceive, in time, the warning signs of the offensive.

These texts invariably highlight the necessity of destroying the reputation of the popular leader, what in specialized slang they call “character assassination”, classifying him as a thief, corrupt, dictator and ignorant.

This is the task entrusted to social communicators, self-proclaimed “independent journalists,” that in favor of their almost monopoly control of the media, hammer this defamation into the mind of the population, accompanied by, in the case we are dealing with, messages of hate directed against the Indigenous people and the poor in general.

Third: once the prior is completed, the time comes for the political leadership and the economic elite to demand “a change,” to put an end to “the dictatorship” of Evo that, as the disgraceful Vargas Llosa wrote a few days ago is “a demagogue that wants to eternalize his power”.

I bet he was toasting and drinking champagne in Madrid when he saw the images of the hoards of fascists looting, burning, chaining up journalists to a post, shaving the head of a female mayor and painting her red, and destroying the ballots of the last election, to carry out the mandate of Don Mario and to liberate Bolivia of an evil demagogue.

I mention him as an example because it is the immoral flag bearer of this vile attack, of this limitless felony that crucifies people’s leaders, destroys democracy and installs a reign of terror led by bands of hit men hired to punish a dignified people that had the audacity of wanting to be free.

Fourth: the “security forces” enter the scene. In this case we are talking about the institutions controlled by numerous agencies, military and civic, of the government of the United States.

They train them, arm them, do joint exercises and they educate them politically. I had the opportunity to witness this when, at the invitation of Evo, I inaugurated a course “Anti-imperialism” for officers of the three armed forces.

In this opportunity I was astonished by the degree of penetration of the most reactionary North American slogans inherited from the era of the Cold War and due to the undisguised irritation caused by the fact that an indigenous person would be president of the country.

What these “security forces” did was withdraw themselves from the scene and give free range for the uncontrolled actions of the fascist hoards -as they acted in Ukraine, in Libya, in Iraq, in Syria to overthrow, or try to do so in this last case, leaders that bother the empire- and as such intimidate the population, the militant sectors, and the figures of the government themselves.

So it’s a new socio-political concept: military coups “by omission”, allowing the reactionary groups, recruited and financed by the right, to impose their law. Once terror reigns and with the defenselessness of the government, the outcome was inevitable.

Fifth: The security and public order should never have been entrusted in Bolivia to institutions like the police and the army, colonized by imperialism and it’s lackeys of the local right-wing.

When the offensive was launched against Evo, he opted for a policy of appeasement and of not responding to the fascist provocations.

This served to embolden them and allow them to increase their bets: first, demand a second round run-off election; then, fraud and new elections; shortly after, elections but without Evo (like in Brazil without Lula).

Then, they demanded the resignation of Evo; finally, due to his reluctance to accept blackmail, they instilled terror with the complicity of police and military and to force Evo to resign. Straight from the manual, everything. Will we learn from these lessons?

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Chile Despertó! Chile Has Woken Up! The Rising Battle Against Neoliberalism

By Alison Bodine

Global Research,

¡Chile despertó!
¡Piñera, renuncia!
¡Piñera ya fue!
¡Que se vayan los milicos!

Chile Has Woken Up!
Piñera Resign!
Piñera Has Gone!
Let the “Milicos” leave! (“Milicos” is a derogatory word for police and military personnel)

These are some the powerful chants that have echoed throughout the streets of cities small and large in Chile during mass protests that began in October 2019. Poor, working and oppressed people and students have united to demand dignity and human rights – in one word, an end to neo-liberalism in Chile.

This movement began following the October 6 announcement by the government of Chile that there would be a 30-peso transit system fare hike. This increase, which amounts to about $0.04 USD, was enough added pressure to an already tight household budget for many Chileans to bring millions of people out into the streets.

“It’s not about the 30 pesos. It’s about 30 years” 

For the first two weeks, protests were organized by high school students who called on people to refuse to pay transit fares. By October 18 the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera had not responded to the students’ demands – and instead declared a State of Emergency and deployed the military and riot police to attack the students.

Despite the extreme repression and curfew, people in Chile continued to demonstrate. Then, on October 21, President Piñera, extended the State of Emergency, declaring,

“We are at war against a powerful enemy, who is willing to use violence without any limits.”

With these words, Piñera displayed outright contempt for the people of Chile, and his true colours as an ally of the U.S. and staunch supporter of neo-liberalism in Chile at the same time. By then, protests which had largely been contained to the capital city of Santiago, spread to other cities. At least 10,500 police and soldiers had been deployed by October 21 (BBC).

Protests against the government and neoliberalism have continued to grow and spread throughout the country and into the most oppressed sectors of society. The Indigenous Mapuche people of Chile, who make up about 10% of the population, have also organized and led protests demanding their self-determination and land rights.

Despite the severe repression, on October 25, 2019, 1.2 million people marched in Santiago, representing diverse sectors of Chilean society including social movements, Indigenous people, women, retired people, unions, students and more. The protests have continued since then, and the repression and cruelty of the Piñera government and his military and police goons has reached a severity not seen in Chile since the bloody Pinochet dictatorship ended over 30 years ago.

As reported by the National Institute of Human Rights (Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos – INDH), a nongovernmental organization in Chile, at least 177 people have faced severe eye injuries or lost their vision after being deliberately hit in the face by tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets. The same organization has also investigated possible torture sites, and documented cases of un-uniformed police or military throwing people into car trunks and vans. As of October 30, 2019, at least 19 people have been killed and over 1,200 people have been wounded. INDH has also filed 18 cases of sexual violence, including rape, and 92 cases of torture, against police and soldiers.

Why are People in Chile Protesting?

So, how is it that in the face of so much violence, people in Chile have continued their mass protests? What started with a transit fare increase has led to a revolt against Chile’s neoliberal government and institutions – and even demands to change the constitution. As Alan Vicencio, a 25-year-old call-center worker told Time Magazine, “The whole constitution makes me angry, the constitution allowed the privatization of every aspect of our lives and it’s being doing it for more than 30 years.”

Often hailed as “business friendly” and the prime example of the “success” of a free market system, Chile is the most unequal of the 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2017, the United Nations released a report “Unequal. Origins, changes and challenges in Chile’s social divide,” which explained how the richest 0.1% of the people in Chile control 19.5% of the wealth.

Privatization runs rampant in Chile through all sectors of life including water, roads, energy, healthcare and the pension system. Although some education is public, there is a great divide between the public and private school systems.

The minimum wage in Chile is not enough for a dignified life – especially as everything is privatized, making everyday life in Chile very expensive. For example, if someone in Chile made minimum wage the cost of transit to and from work would eat up 21% of their paycheque (NACLA.org).

Protestors in Chile are fighting for their dignity. They are fighting against inequality. They are fighting against police and military brutality. These are all symptoms of neoliberalism, which is the economic policy expression of the agenda of imperialism around the world.

One only must look towards to the United States’ relationship with the government of Chile to understand just how Chile has become such a good ally to the U.S. With regard to the violence against protestors, the White House stated that,Commemorating Chile’s Military Coup, September 11, 1973: Chile and Latin America Forty Years Later

”The United States stands with Chile, an important ally, as it works to peacefully restore national order,” and “President Trump denounced foreign efforts to undermine Chilean institutions, democracy, or society.”

More broadly, as President Trump put it in a press conference a year ago,

“There are so many issues that we have to discuss because Chile and the United States are likeminded countries. We share the most important things, which are values — democracy, human rights, freedom. But Chile is really something special. If you look at what they’ve done, how far they’ve come. You look at how well run the country is.”

This is what is sounds like when a government in Latin America is following the orders of the U.S. government and their financial institutions.

Clearly, behind the repression in Chile is the support of the United States, but also the support of many of their imperialist allies, including the government of Canada. In fact, Prime Minister Trudeau had a phone call with Piñera in the midst of severe police and military repression and didn’t say one word to him – as reported by CTV News,

“A summary from the Prime Minister’s Office of Trudeau’s phone call with Pinera made no direct mention of the ongoing turmoil in Chile, a thriving country with which Canada has negotiated a free trade agreement.”

This is no surprise given that, as reported by the government of Canada, 14% of Canada’s mining assets are in Chile including copper, gold and silver mines. This includes Barrick Gold, which had to shut down a $429 million gold mine earlier this year due to severe human rights and environmental violations.

Both the governments of the U.S. and Canada also want to hold up the repressive Piñera government because having a neo-liberal “success story” and a staunch ally in Chile serves them well in their drive to re-establish imperialist hegemony in Latin America. Having a U.S.-supported government in Chile puts imperialists in a better position for their continued attacks against the sovereign and independent countries of Cuba and Venezuela.

Chile – Target of Imperialist Aggression and Exploitation 

The modern history of Chile is a history of colonization, imperialist domination and exploitation. Although Chile won independence from Spain in 1818, it wasn’t until 150 years later that the people of Chile had the opportunity to be truly independent from colonial and imperialist rule. In 1970, the people of Chile chose to reverse their history of colonization and exploitation, and elected Salvador Allende, who had a progressive and popular agenda to improve the life and oppose imperialist exploitation of Chile.

However, only three years after his election, in 1973, the United States and their imperialist allies orchestrated a bloody coup d’état, murdering Allende and installing a bloody military dictatorship. In just the first 5 years of his brutal rule, the U.S-backed dictatorship of General Agosto Pinochet imprisoned and tortured at least 30,000 people and disappeared 3,000 people. A constitution written under the dictatorship, which is the same one that enshrines privatization, is still in place in Chile today.

Reviewing the modern history of Chile also helps to explain the continued determination of the people of Chile to continuing protesting in mass in the streets until their demands are met. Despite some concessions that Piñera has been forced to give, such as the increases to monthly pensions or the minimum wage, a cabinet shuffle, or agreeing not to raise the transit fare, people are not leaving the streets.

As, Vilma Alvarez, a leader of the Jumbo Union (Jumbo is a chain of grocery stores in Chile) explained in an interview with the Argentinian news agency Pagina 12, the concessions that Pinera has offered to the protesters are not enough. They are, “another way to continue transferring money to the financial sectors and not giving any relief to the population,” and “The demand is for Piñera to resign and for a Constituent Assembly to be held.” The people of Chile have had enough.

Building Solidarity with the People of Chile 

Why should working and oppressed people in Canada support the struggle of people in Chile? For one, the people of Chile are facing a criminal and violent repression of their basic human rights. They are being arrested, tortured, raped and killed because they have taken to the streets in the millions to oppose inequality and austerity and to struggle for their basic dignity.

As Isabel Sanchez stated to Aljazeera news on October 26,

“We are of the generation that began our lives in the dictatorship, and we had no youth. We lost friends; we saw people slaughtered. We lived with fear, but now the young people have blossomed, they have lost that fear.”

It is time also for us, as poor, working and oppressed people in Canada and the United States to recognize the courage and struggle of the people of Chile, stand with them, and echo their voices.

Also, as people living in the United States and Canada, we have the added responsibility to stand in solidarity with the people of Chile because the governments of Canada and the U.S. are supporting the brutality and repression of the Piñera government.

Chile Diaspora Supports the Struggle

In the U.S. and Canada, members of the Chilean community and their allies have also taken to the streets to call for human rights for people in Chile and denounce the indiscriminate violence waged against protestors by the Piñera government. There have been solidarity protests organized in major cities across the United States, and in Canada, including in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria. These solidarity actions have not only brought together people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, but also many generations of Chileans – from those that fled during the Pinochet dictatorship, to young people from Chile who are in the Canada and the U.S. to study.

In Vancouver, the Chilean diaspora has come together with others living in Canada in a new group named Van4Chile. Van4Chile has organized protests and public demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Chile, including an energetic protest in front of the CBC in downtown Vancouver on November 2, 2019. At this action, more than 200 people, from all walks of life, came together to demand that the CBC cover the protests in Chile. They also called out the government of Canada’s complicity in the repression of people’s human and democratic rights in Chile. To get involved and follow the work of Van4Chile find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @Van4Chile.

Don’t Boycott Chile

It is also important to say that within the movement in solidarity with the people of Chile, there has been calls for a boycott against Chilean wine or other products produced in Chile. While this call for boycott may have been made with good intentions, the most important action that we, as peace-loving people in Canada and the U.S. can take for the courageous people of Chile is not to boycott them, but to support them. Perhaps, we must think more critically about what boycotting Chilean wine will do for people in Chile.

Today in Chile the working class and oppressed people are under brutal attack, economically, politically and socially, by the Sebastian Piñera government and imperialist exploitation. So, it is possible that a boycott that targets Chile’s economy has the potential to damage their movement and to reinforce the austerity which they are already living under. Any damage to the economy of Chile will surely be passed on from Chile’s richest families and capitalist class (they have billion dollars to survive) to poor and working people in Chile, increasing the austerity, pressure and inequality that they face. And Chile is not only a wine producer! Do we want also to boycott the mining, metal, mineral companies whose products amount to 60%, or $40 billion, of all of Chile’s exports, making up 20 percent of Chile’s GDP? The wine industry exports only $2 billion of the $70-77 billion of total exports from Chile.

That being said, do we really want the wine industry in Chile go bankrupt? Who is benefiting from that? Working people? Of course not. Do we want workers and people who work in wine industry to lose their jobs, or do we want to help the capitalist class to find excuses to lay-off workers and impose downsizing and overtime? Aren’t these the very policies of neoliberalism that Chilean people, and we, are opposing? Isn’t this shooting ourselves in the foot?

Furthermore, it is also important to consider the alternative – if people around the world are asked to boycott Chilean wine because the government of Chile is reactionary – is drinking wine from the U.S., Canada, France, Spain, England, Australia, Italy, or Germany, who are responsible for the slaughter of tens of millions of people around the world (including Chile’s coup September 11,1973), really any better? The difference is that Chile is an oppressed country, a third-world country. Chile is not an imperialist country with vast finances and industrial resources. Chile as a country struggles within the world market which is overwhelmingly dominated by imperialist countries and their corporations (including wine companies).

Applying any given tactic to any struggle could be very damaging to the struggle itself if it is not well thought out. In the history of the struggle for a better world, a boycott movement has never been the most effective way to build solidarity. The only effective boycott movement was one that was demanded by the people within the country being boycotted, and this was the successful boycott movement against apartheid South Africa.

If we can take all the energy that could go into a boycott, and instead use it to raise sympathy and solidarity with Chilean people in Canada and the U.S. through street actions, petitioning, educational events, and more, our impact will be much greater.

As poor, working and oppressed people in Canada/U.S., and around the world we must raise the question of human rights, torture, rape, execution, repression and yes, neoliberalism and austerity measures in Chile. We need to expose the atrocities of Piñera, and the complicity of governments like the U.S. and Canada in this brutality.

Sebastian Piñera must go!

Posted in Chile0 Comments

Syria’s Opposing Parties

Syria’s Unelected Opposition Cannot Guarantee Anything

By Mark Taliano and Tasnim News Agency

Global Research,

War on Syria

A Canadian political commentator and author of “Voices from Syria” said if a new constitution is approved by the Syrian Constitutional Committee, the foreign-backed “unelected” opposition cannot guarantee to adhere to it.

“Unelected opposing parties cannot guarantee anything,” Mark Taliano said in an interview with Tasnim.

“Their (opposing parties’) masters are not Syrian,” he said, adding, “Ultimately they will have no say in substantive matters.”

The following is the full text of the interview.

***

Tasnim: The United Nation’s envoy for Syria said recently that first talks in the Swiss city of Geneva on the country’s constitution involving Syrian opposition, government and civil society representatives have “gone much better” than many would have expected. Geir Pedersen said the two co-chairs of the constitutional committee from President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the leading opposition have agreed to meet again on November 25, and that delegations would in coming weeks “hopefully come up with a work plan”. Representatives of both sides met to discuss a future constitution, part of plans for a political settlement to end eight and a half years of war. Expectations for the talks have been low, with Damascus and its allies having made gains on the battlefield that left them few reasons to grant concessions. What do you think about the developments? How possible is it for the Constitutional Committee to reach an agreement given the deep differences and lack of trust between its members?

Taliano: “Opposition” members may become more pliant as time passes and Syrian victories become more entrenched. “Opposition” members will likely be given an opportunity to “save face”. In substantive matters, the Syrian state will remain ascendant as the spectacle continues.

Tasnim: The Syrian Constitutional Committee was established with the aim of paving the way for a political settlement in Syria. If a new constitution is approved by the committee, how practical will it be?  How can the opposing parties guarantee to adhere to the new constitution?Video: “Syria will Win this War for Nation-state Sovereignty, for Religious Pluralism, for Civilization”

Taliano: Unelected opposing parties cannot guarantee anything. Their masters are not Syrian. Ultimately they will have no say in substantive matters.

Tasnim: Given Turkey’s military operation against Kurds in northern Syria and the presence of Ankara-backed extremist groups in the area, what do you think about the negative impacts of foreign intervention on the political settlement of the Syrian crisis?

Taliano: Turkey and its NATO (terrorists) will be reined in, but on-going imperial war crimes and occupations will slow negotiations and continue to be enemies to Peace. Terrorism will be a challenge for as long as Empire illegally occupies Syrian territory.  The head of the Opposition’s “Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC)”, Nasr al-Hariri, will find that on-going terrorism will hinder rather than advance his foreign-influenced agenda.

Posted in Syria0 Comments

“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.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Mideast Discourse.

Steven Sahiounie is a political commentator. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Mideast DiscourseUS Troops Are Staying in Syria to ‘Keep the Oil’ – and Have Already Killed Hundreds Over It

Posted in Middle East, USA, Russia, Syria0 Comments

Nazi Home demolitions, Jewish settlement expansion rising at alarming rates

Image result for settlement expansion PHOTO"
Home demolitions, settlement expansion rising at alarming rates

As we finish the month of October, the lack of material resistance to Israel’s policies of indigenous displacement, home demolitions have hit an all-time high. Israel has demolished some 140 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

These attacks aren’t just taking place in Jerusalem, oftentimes to Palestinians who don’t hold citizenship. These tactics of displacement focus on non-Jewish Israeli citizens. Israel’s Bedouin Development and Settlement Authority are moving to displace some 36,000 indigenous Bedouin who hold Israeli citizenship. Israel claims the erasure of the native communities is necessary for the establishment of “economic projects” and the expansion of military training areas.

Palestinians in the West Bank are facing yet another large influx of settlers, which of course will result in violence and land annexation. The Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration approved plans for 2,342 housing units. Altogether, Israel has approved 8,337 settlement units in 2019 – an increase of nearly 50% from 2018 (5,618 units). Since Trump has been elected, unsurprisingly, settlement expansion has doubled. Palestinians are starting to lose their property as a result of developing additional settler roads. Israel confiscated several hundreds of dunums in Beit Ommar this week.

This settlement expansion, as we always like to point out, doesn’t happen organically like mushrooms popping up after a fall rain. Private U.S. donors used nonprofits to funnel some $220 million dollars between 2009 and 2013 alone. This money which flows into the likes of Elad, the Hebron Fund, Im Tirtzu, and Regavim use this money for political lobbying, make deeper inroads into the Israeli political system, and leverage their power to demolish Palestinian homes, confiscate land, and call for the formal annexation of West Bank.

We see think this link between the exploitation of US-based charities and right-wing settler organizations as an essential target of our activism. While we are not the first deploy this strategy, others such as Truah have filed their own complaints with the IRS, for example.

However, because 501 (c ) 3 organizations registered both at the federal level and at the state level, in our analysis, there is a crucial distinction to be made between disrupting the flow of tax-free money through the federal level – like the IRS – and taking legal recourse through the state level with the Attorney General’s Office. Because unlike IRS, the State Attorney General is an elected official, and as such, a public affairs campaign can leverage their constituents to demand change in altogether different and effective ways.

Over the last several months we have been building a campaign which connects Palestinians who are impacted by these settler organizations, on both sides of the Green Line – linking up a campaign with Palestinian Bedouin voices in the Naqab with communities facing permanent displacement in the South Hebron Hills, the Jordan Valley and beyond. We’ve been creating a groundswell of activism around this campaign, developing networks, and organizing our communication strategy for 2020 while building a strong, diverse US-based coalition.

Currently, we are organizing talks across the United States, moving through Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. to lay the groundwork for the launch of the campaign.

However, in sticking with our principles of building a bottom-up, grassroots approach to justice work – avoiding rigid grants which water down movements of change – this tour financed solely by individual donations. As we move forward, we are asking you to make a financial contribution to the work of the Good Shepherd Collective.

As you see how crucial it is to develop alternative models to nonviolent resistance outside of the current NGO model, we hope that you will invest $5, $,10 or $20 dollars a month. If you are a US citizen and want to make a tax-deductible contribution, you can do it through this link. If you are a UK citizen and want to utilize GiftAid, you can do so through this link. For all other donation types, you can use this link here.

In solidarity, Cody O’Rourke
Communications & Fundraising


Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

Zionist Illegal Surveillance Scandal: Modi Government’s Crime Against Constitution and Citizens’ Rights

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

hammer sickle-rist

RECENTLY, WhatsApp (a company owned by Facebook) has made an explosive revelation. It has reached out to several journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, and Opposition politicians in India, to inform them that a software sold by an Israeli company to Governments has been used to spy on them. Not only have their WhatsApp messages and calls been hacked; the software has used a loophole in WhatsApp’s encryption software to turn their phones and computers into spying devices.

The list of those targeted for such a blatantly illegal breach of privacy include lawyers representing the Bhima Koregaon accused, as well as journalists and activists who have been vocal against the Modi Government. The Congress party has also said that WhatsApp informed Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi that she too had been targeted.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry of the Modi Government has reacted by claiming that WhatsApp kept them in the dark about such surveillance. WhatsApp has disproved this allegation.

But the Modi Government is trying to deflect attention from its own guilt in the matter. It is clear that the spying software – Pegasus – is sold only to governments. So in India, it was either the central government, or some state governments, and their respective agencies that could have used this software. If voices questioning BJP-ruled Governments at Centre and State have been spied on, it is easy to conclude that it was the Governments doing the spying.

Some have tried to argue that such spying is justified as long as it was “in the interests of national security.” Such an argument suggests that the Government can be allowed to commit crimes as long as it is for the sake of “national security”. This is a position that no democracy can defend. By definition, civil liberties and democratic rights of citizens need to be defended primarily from the power of the government and State machinery. Because the government and State machinery have the power to use violence and surveillance, the Constitution imposes limits on that power. A landmark 1997 Supreme Court judgement on a writ petition filed by the PUCL, made it clear that no agency can tap the phones of any person without written authorisation. If a national security emergency demands it, the agency can seek a written authorisation order from the Home Secretary of Central or State Governments, or some other senior officer of the Home Department of State or Centre. Every such emergency authorisation must be submitted for review by a Review Committee within a week. Any phone tapping that has failed to get such authorisation is a serious crime.

We may recall that Modi and Shah, as Chief Minister and Home Minister respectively of Gujarat, have a dubious record of using the police and investigative agencies to illegally spy on a young woman for personal reasons. Patriarchal arguments were put forward to defend such spying. It should surprise no one that the Modi-Shah duo again head a Government which is implicated in illegally spying on dissenting citizens.

When the Modi Government feigns outrage at the WhatsApp spying scandal and demands an answer from WhatsApp, it is behaving like the thief who tries to escape by leading the crowd away shouting “Thief!” the loudest.

It is highly likely that Pegasus spyware (perhaps in conjunction with other technologies), was used not only to illegally tap the conversations of the persons targeted, but to plant material on their phones or computers.

Which Indian Government agency bought the Pegasus spying software? Who used it? Did they have authorisation for the phone tapping? If the Modi Government or any State Government or government agency illegally invaded the privacy of rights activists, journalists and political leaders, it amounts to a serious crime against India’s Constitution.

How to identify the perpetrators of this crime? RSS man Govindacharya has approached the Supreme Court demanding an NIA enquiry: but this petition smacks of match fixing. The NIA is a Government agency and cannot investigate a potential crime by the Government! An independent investigation is needed, to identify and punish the criminals.

Politically, it is clear that this large-scale illegal spying on political opponents and human rights defenders has the fingerprints of Modi and Shah all over it. In the US, President Nixon had had to resign when the illegal snooping scandal (Watergate) was exposed. In India, too, the Modi-Shah regime must be held accountable and punished for this crime. The Israeli software Pegasus is classified by its seller as a “weapon.” Buying and using this weapon secretly and illegally against India’s citizens is an act of terrorism. Punish the Modi-Shah regime for this act of terror against India’s courageous human rights defenders, Dalit lawyers, and journalists.

Posted in India0 Comments

All India Protests against Detention Camp Deaths and NRC

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

PROTESTS were held in states against continuing deaths in the detention camps where thousands of innocent people have been lodged as a result of inhuman exercise of making NRC in Assam. CPIML has called for protest day on November 6 demanding to shut down detention camps which are nothing but a new version of Hitler’s concentration camps, and to take back the proposed exercise of All India NRC as well as proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

So far 27 deaths in Assam Detention Camps have been reported while thousands of citizens have been subjected to immense misery and deprivations by the government in Assam and central government.

assam

In Assam, 25 people died in detention camps before the final list of NRC was published, and 2 – Dulal Chandra Pal and Falu Das – have died since. Dulal’s and Falu’s families have refused to accept their bodies, as a mark of protest. They say that if the two were Bangladeshi, then find their relatives in Bangladesh and hand over the bodies to Bangladesh. Else, admit that they were Indian citizens killed by the Government in detention camps. Even then Amit Shah insists that his Government will implement NRC all over India, forcing every Indian to submit documents proving that their ancestors were registered citizens and voters in 1951. The central government still says that the detention camps will be opened in every state. Such camps are already under construction in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.

The poor in India are, more often than not, excluded from BPL lists, voter lists and Aadhaar. How can they be expected to provide documents proving their ancestors were Indian citizens in 1951? If they fail to prove it, they will be put in detention camps.

This is a ploy by Modi and Shah government to divide Indians on the basis of faith, saying that if you are Muslim and fail to be included in the NRC list, you will rot in a detention camp or be “thrown out of India.” But the Citizenship Amendment Bill will ensure that if you are not Muslim, you will be accepted as a “refugee” and can apply for Indian citizenship. This only means that under NRC and CAB, Indians will be left with the choice of either dying in detention camps if Muslim, or being reduced from a citizen to “refugee” status if not Muslim!

CPIML has strongly opposed fascist exclusionary designs in the name of NRC and CAB and has called for all citizens – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, Christians, workers, peasants, students, women – to unite to resist this ploy which is meant to endanger citizenship of India’s people.

Bihar
Muzaffarpur
Jahanabad
Siwan
Begusarai
UKD
UP
Ranchi
Siliguri
Raygada
Punjab 1
Punjab 2
Kolkata

On 6 Nov protests were held in Nagaon, Dibrugarh, Silchar, Biswanath and many other places in Assam, in Patna, Siwan, Arwal, Darbhanga, Dulhin Bazar, Nawada, Mujaffarpur, Nalanda, Begusarai and all other districts of Bihar, in Haldwani in Uttarakhand, at many places in UP, in Jharkhand, in towns in West Bengal including capital Kolkata and Siliguri, in Rayagada and Bhubaneshwar in Odisha, at many places in Punjab. Protests were also held in many other states.

CPIML Politburo member Kunal said in Patna that Modi government has inflicted another disaster on the country in the name of NRC and CAB, which will devastate India’s common people.

Protesters in all places demanded to shut down detention camps in all states and to withdraw all India NRC and the proposed CAB. They said that the Modi-Shah regime is playing with the lives of Indian citizens in order to satisfy BJP’s communal divisive agenda.

Posted in India0 Comments


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