Archive | December 31st, 2019

What May Follow US Terror-Bombing Strikes on Iraqi Sites?

By Stephen Lendman

What’s most likely is more of the same, how the US operates under both right wings of its war party — at war on humanity at home and abroad, its killing machine making everyone unsafe everywhere.

Continued US aggression in the new year is virtually certain in current and maybe new war theaters.

Advancing the US imperium depends on combatting enemies. Since none exist, they’re invented, what’s gone on throughout the post-WW II period.

It’s especially what happened following the state-sponsored/mother of all 9/11 false flag attacks — opening the gates of hell for multiple forever wars.

Sunday Pentagon terror-bombing of Iraqi and Syrian sites escalated US regional aggression.

On Monday, the State Department falsely called them “defensive action designed to protect American forces and American citizens in Iraq, (along with) deterring Iran (sic)” — a nonbelligerent nation threatening no one.

The State Department turned truth on its head, claiming Tehran used the JCPOA “to run and finance an expansionist foreign policy (sic)” — a bald-faced Big Lie.

Fact: Iran is the region’s leading proponent of peace and stability, seeking cooperative relations with other countries, opposed to revanchism and unilateralism — its foreign policy polar opposite how aggressor USA operates.

The Islamic Republic had nothing to do with with attacks on regional “American interests,” no evidence suggesting it.

The State Department falsely claimed otherwise, typical of how the US blames others for its own high crimes.

State Department: “(W)e are not going to let Iran get away with using a proxy force to attack American interests (sic), and we will hold Iran accountable for these attacks (sic), which we have done.”

“We are standing with the Iraqi people (sic)” — by smashing the country for decades, massacring its people, occupying its territory, and using it as platform for other regional wars of aggression.

The US bears full responsibility for terrorizing Middle East nations and their people, seeking control over their territory and resources, what the scourge of imperialism is all about.

On Monday in Moscow during a joint press conference with his Iranian foreign minister counterpart Mohammad Javad ZarifSergey Lavrov said the following:

“We are highly concerned about the escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf region. We can see that some of our Western colleagues (sic) are trying to aggravate the situation,” adding:

“Russia and Iran oppose such attempts by calling for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation in this important region” — a notion the US categorically rejects, seeking regional domination, not cooperative relations with other nations.

Lavrov also stressed that the JCPOA nuclear deal is close to collapse because of the Trump regime’s May 2018 pullout and Europe’s failure to fulfill its mandated obligations.

“We are certain that if this policy of defaulting on UN Security Council resolutions, which Washington dictates to all countries around the world without an exception, continues, all this may result in serious negative consequences for the whole region and international relations in general,” Lavrov added, further stressing:

“We will demand that our Western partners (sic) accept reality.”

“Either the US and the EU return to full adherence to their obligations under the JCPOA, which will lead to Iran returning to its voluntary obligations under the deal, as it has stated repeatedly.”

Otherwise, “the JCPOA will be as good as gone. It will not exist anymore. And then we won’t be bound by any obligations” — heightening the risk of greater regional wars.

The Trump regime “contradict(ed) all possible norms of international law.”

“When an agreement has been negotiated and deemed obligatory by the UN Security Council, exiting this agreement is a blatant violation of all possible and impossible norms, principles and rules.”

“At the same time, the US is forcing everyone else to violate the obligations they undertook in exchange for Iran adhering to the reached agreements.”

“Iran is expected to adhere to these agreements fully, which violates the very terms that this agreement was based on and that were approved by the UN Security Council.”

Zarif called for world community cooperation against hostile US unilateralism, adding:

The Trump regime “attempts to dictate its intentions to other countries, and Russia and Iran have confronted this approach through the JCPOA and other fields.”

Instead of fulfilling their mandated obligations, Britain, France, Germany, and the EU bowed to US diktats by “fail(ing) to adopt practical measures to counter the US sanctions and fulfill their commitments.”

Separately Zarif tweeted: “Fruitful talks with FM Lavrov in Russia.”

“Unlike others who embark on ‘defensive’ warmongering 1000s of miles from their own shores, Iran and Russia have cooperated for peace in Syria and are now presenting important proposals for peace in the Persian Gulf.”

Next stop: China” — where Zarif met Tuesday with Wang Yi, his Beijing counterpart.

At a joint news conference in Beijing, Wang slammed US “bullying,” adding: “We need to stand together against (unacceptable US) unilateralism.”

Zarif said Iran and China are united in “our common effort to fight unilateralism and to promote multilateralism.”

Separately on Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused the Trump regime of “shirk(ing) its due international obligations, and imposed extreme pressure on Iran,” adding:

“This is the root cause of the current tension in the Iranian nuclear issue.”

“We hope that all participants in the agreement will adhere to the correct direction, withstand external pressures, resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation, and continue to maintain and implement the comprehensive agreement.”

Clearly the Trump regime rejects this approach.

China, Russia and Iran are allied for Middle East peace and stability, their agenda polar opposite US rage for endless aggression.

Despite rolling back its voluntary JCPOA commitments, Iran remains fully compliant with the agreement’s provisions. Zarif stressed it.

US/European violators flagrantly breached international law.

Separately, Tehran debunked the US Big Lie claim of Iranian involvement in attacks on its regional personnel and interests, calling it baseless.

On Tuesday, Iran’s IRGC said Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces are legally entitled to retaliate against Sunday’s US aggression in self-defense, as the UN Charter and other international law permit, adding:

Evicting “American occupier terrorists” from Iraq will enhance the country’s stability and security.

Sadly it’s not true. US forces infest the Middle East along with ISIS and other jihadists it created and supports.

All regional nations unsubmissive to its will risk being victimized by its aggression and/or other hostile actions.

Regional peace, stability and security are only possible if all US forces and its proxies are withdrawn or otherwise eliminated from Middle East and nearby countries.

Following US aggression last Sunday, Iraq’s National Security Council said the following:

“The Iraqi government condemns these actions and considers them a violation of the sovereignty of Iraq and a serious abuse of the working norms of the international coalition forces, including American troops, who are single-handedly conducting operations without the consent of the Iraqi government,” adding:

“This attack, contrary to the goals and principles for which the international coalition was created, is pushing Iraq to revise its relations (with the US) to protect the sovereignty of the country, its security, the lives of citizens and strengthen mutual interests.”

Will Baghdad expel US occupying forces from the country. Or will it continue operating as a client state while maintaining good relations with neighboring Iran?

Iraq’s future as a sovereign state depends on no longer tolerating a hostile US presence, demanding Pentagon forces leave and not return.

The risk of Pentagon, CIA, Israeli Mossad violence remains. Russia earlier offered to aid Iraq combat ISIS in the country.

Moscow is a reliable ally. It’s in Baghdad’s interests to seek its help if the scourge of US-supported terrorism, likely aided by Pentagon terror-bombing, rears its ugly head again.

If necessary, Moscow can aid Iraq the way it helped Syria liberate most of the country.

Iraqi authorities should take full advantage of a trusted ally against the scourge of US state-sponsored terrorism.

A Final Comment

In his yearend greeting to Trump, Vladimir Putin urged “normalizing bilateral relations and establishing an equal dialogue based on the mutual respect of interests” — an agenda Republicans and undemocratic Dems reject.

Separately, Putin invited Trump “to visit Moscow to take part in the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.”

Soviet Russia’s involvement in WW II defeated the scourge of Nazism, the US operating as a junior partner on the western front.

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Brexit Bill Passing Heralds Game of Winner Takes All

By Jonathan Lis

It was perhaps fitting that five days before Christmas, in the final parliamentary sitting of the decade, the House of Commons, flaunting a newly minted Conservative majority, saw fit to declare war on the country it professed to love. By a margin of 358 votes to 234, MPs approved the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill at its second reading. In a subsequent vote, they approved a timetable of just three days for its parliamentary passage in the new year.

There is no surprise that parliament has enjoined a political, social and economic campaign against the people. The people – or rather, the less than 48% who voted for outwardly Brexit-supporting parties last week – have voted for that, and will now get it good and hard. But it does not make it any less regrettable or easier to accept.

The debate passed predictably. Boris Johnson and his gormless sidekick Steve Barclay trotted out the usual mind-rotting boilerplate about “moving on from divisions” and “getting Brexit done”, throwing in the grotesquely offensive and ahistorical reference to the “United Kingdom’s independence”. Naturally the prime minister couldn’t resist a lie about his ‘oven-ready’ deal, quipping that “we can have it done by lunch”. The problem with this ‘lunch’ is that we have less than eleven months to prepare the most eye-wateringly complex banquet in our nation’s history and have just spent four years tearing ourselves apart over the green salad hors d’oeuvre. Johnson either doesn’t know or doesn’t care how complex and divisive this process will be, and the worst part is it doesn’t even matter.

Members of the opposition gamely attempted to inject some reality and compassion into the proceedings. Lisa Nandy begged Johnson to show ‘decency’ on unaccompanied child refugees, who may not be allowed into the country under the amended bill. Jeremy Corbyn (who has masochistically opted to remain as interim leader for this gruesome period) echoed that sentiment and noted, pointlessly, the impending need for checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Hilary Benn pointed out the lack of even the most basic economic assessment about the misadventure parliament was sanctioning. Keir Starmer emphasised that the loss of the general election did not make a bad deal good. But it changed nothing.

In the end, six Labour MPs voted for the motion – some of the usual suspects from the last parliament, plus Easington’s Grahame Morris and Chesterfield’s Toby Perkins – but it scarcely mattered. The time to defeat this bill was during the election campaign, and during that campaign Labour barely mentioned it. Needless to say, there were no Tory rebels.Boris Johnson Could ‘Face Jail’ if He Ignores UK Parliament

We are quickly learning the key lesson of Brexit: it is a game of winner takes all. We will now find out what happens when the Brexiters face no restraint. The withdrawal agreement bill has been hardened in key ways since October, when Johnson faced a hostile parliament.

First, commitments to workers’ rights have been removed. Downing Street claims that it will address them separately, but cannot explain why it was necessary to instil doubt at such an early stage. The people of Blyth Valley and North West Durham were not voting to reduce their labour rights or destroy their jobs, but it is characteristic of the government’s arrogance that it doesn’t care how much those people could now worry.

Second, judges in the lower courts will find it easier to challenge EU rulings. That could create significantly more conflict with Brussels in the years ahead.

Third, and most significantly, MPs have effectively had their rights taken from them. They will now have no right to force a request to extend the transition period after December 2020, and will not be able to approve the negotiating mandate. The government will not even commit to preserving the negotiating aims of the political declaration. We are exiting the transition period in December, ready or not, and that is that.

Let us be quite clear. This really is taking back control: but for one man only. The new bill affords Johnson almost unlimited power to do whatever he pleases, unchecked by even the most basic parliamentary scrutiny. It is a hard-right manifesto of cruelty, as exemplified by the removal of provisions for childhood refugees. And it opens up the road for a catastrophic cliff-edge at the end of the process, with absolutely nothing anyone else can do to stop it. By contrast Theresa May’s old deal looks like something that could have been drafted by the European Movement.

The government couldn’t even resist trolling. This withdrawal agreement, the most significant and far-reaching legislation in our recent history, will be granted just three days of scrutiny in January – less time than was allocated to the Wild Animals in Circuses Act. It is commensurate with the style and pace of this new government. Just one week after the election, the Tories are moving at breakneck speed to confuse, overwhelm, and subdue their opponents. The aim is to stop us interrogating the most destructive piece of legislation in this country’s recent history at the moment we are most liable to roll over. The worst aspect is that even now, there is no evidence that this is the will of the British people. Over 52% of voters last week backed parties supporting a referendum or Remain. Nobody will ever know if the people wanted Brexit, and nobody will now bother to ask.

And yet nothing will change the essential truth. Today was not the end of Brexit, but its poisonous beginning. The trade-offs we have warned about for the last four years will now have to be made. For the first time, we replace speculation with reality: ‘Project Fear’ is no longer something we argue about but experience. Boris Johnson may think himself omnipotent but he has no power over the EU and cannot avoid disaster just by declaring it will not come. Either we mitigate some (not all) of the damage by remaining closely aligned to the EU’s instruments, or we erect concrete barriers with our closest trading partners in the hope of breaking other ones down with more minor allies further away. This is our inescapable choice and no amount of rhetoric will make it disappear. Britain will have to decide if it prefers to hammer itself economically or democratically.

There is now no more hiding for Boris Johnson. Armed with the majority of his dreams, he will have no more Remainers or doomsters or gloomsters to blame for the carnage he will now likely unleash. Everything that will shortly come to pass, he will own.

During the election campaign, the Conservatives openly paraded their ambition to govern as hard-right nationalists prepared to over-ride democratic norms and drive the economy into the wall. One week after the election, they are simply confirming it. Today MPs drilled the first real wounds into our country’s economy and social contract. The scars will take generations to heal, and may never.

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Is this the best that Christianity can do?

Christian Zionism

The Holy Land needs advocates for the truth. “It is the truth, and only the truth, that will lead to peace and justice”

By Stuart Littlewood

While the Jewish state was putting its finishing touches to Operation Cast Lead (the horrific blitzkrieg launched over Christmas-New Year 2008/09 against Gaza’s civilians, including the Christian community there), the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, joined Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on a visit to the former Nazi camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau to demonstrate their joint solidarity against the extremes of hostility and genocide.

“This is a pilgrimage… to a place of utter profanity – a place where the name of God was profaned because the image of God in human beings was abused and disfigured,” said the Archbishop. “How shall we be able to read the signs of the times, the indications that evil is gathering force once again and societies are slipping towards the same collective corruption and moral sickness that made the shoah [holocaust] possible?”

Complicity through silence

Read the signs? He needed to look no further than the hell-hole that the Holy Land had been turned into by Israel’s occupation and unfettered aggression, with Britain’s blessing… and, dare one say, without too much fuss from England’s established church either.

If ever there was a place where “the name of God was profaned” the so-called Holy Land is it.

And in 2010, just a year after that slaughter, the archbishop announced he was planning a visit to Gaza. I asked his Lambeth Palace office if he would sit down and talk with the elected prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, man of God to man of God (for Mr Haniyeh is an imam). Would he do Gaza (and all of us) proud by spending a generous amount of his time with senior members of the Islamic faith?

His office didn’t reply.

According to the archbishop’s website he did none of those things. And on his return he said nothing about Gaza in the House of Lords, where he had the ear of Parliament and the support of 25 other Church of England bishops.

Yet he began his Ecumenical letter that Easter by declaring: “Christians need to witness boldly and clearly”….

I was told afterwards that the Israelis initially refused the archbishop access to Gaza and only at the last minute granted him a piddling 90 minutes, just enough for a hurried visit to the Ahli hospital and no more.

But this didn’t stop him hobnobbing with the chief rabbinate, paying his respects to Yad Vashem and the holocaust, and talking with the president of Israel. Didn’t Lambeth Palace realize that his meekly accepting a situation where Israel’s thugs prevented him seeing what horrors they had inflicted, only served to legitimize the Israelis’ illegal occupation and give the Anglican Church’s stamp of approval to the vicious siege, the continuing air strikes, the persecution of Muslim and Christian communities and the regime’s utter contempt for international law and human rights?

When is ethnic cleansing not ethnic cleansing? When it’s “Newtonian energy transfer”

In June 2011 Kairos Palestine, the voice of Palestinian Christians, felt it necessary to give the archbishop of Canterbury a strong ticking-off for remarks he made during a BBC interview.

Rifat Kassis, coordinator of Kairos Palestine, said he was “deeply troubled” by the archbishop’s “inaccurate and erroneous remarks” about the situation of Christians in the Middle East. He called the archbishop’s failure to mention the Israeli occupation and the regime’s oppressive policies “shocking”.

In a letter to Williams, he said:

You know very well that in the Bethlehem area alone there are 19 illegal Israeli settlements… and the wall that have devoured Christian lands and put Bethlehem in a chokehold. You know well that only 13 per cent of Bethlehem area is available for Palestinian use and the wall isolates 25 per cent of the Bethlehem area’s agricultural land. Not to mention the situation of Christians in Jerusalem, which you know very well, since you should have received reports from the Anglican bishop in the city whose residency permit was denied by the occupying power.

Mr Kassis ended by saying: “We would like to remind Your Grace that Christian Palestinians need advocates for the truth. It is the truth, and only the truth, that will lead to peace and justice in our home.”

So what did Archbishop Rowan Williams say to the BBC that so infuriated his Palestinian brethren? Apparently, it was his remarks about the ethnic cleansing of Christians, referring to extreme pressure in Iraq while suggesting that the exodus of Christians from Palestine was due to much more “un-dramatic” pressure. Williams seemed happy to use the term “ethnic cleansing” in connection with Iraq but not Israel’s programme to dispossess and terrorize Palestinians.

He was also content with the UK government’s attitude. “I think the issue of religious freedom in general has very high priority in the Foreign Office at the moment. So I hope that continues.”

The truth is that the British Foreign Office is infested with pro-Israel placemen and has not lifted a finger to ensure religious or any other freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Williams went on the say:

I think there are still perhaps too few people in this country who are aware of the haemorrhaging of Christian populations from the Holy Land. The fact [is] that Bethlehem, a majority Christian city just a couple of decades ago, is now very definitely a place where Christians are a marginalized minority. We want that to be a little bit higher on people’s radar…

Interviewer: Would you see what’s happening in Bethlehem as another example of what you’ve described as ethnic cleansing?

Archbishop: It’s not ethnic cleansing exactly because it’s been far less deliberate than that I think. What we’ve seen though is a kind of Newtonian passing-on of energy or force from one body to another so that some Muslim populations in the West Bank, under pressure, move away from certain areas like Hebron, move into other areas like Bethlehem. And there’s nowhere much else for Christian populations to go except away from Palestine.

The Archbishop’s comments were “faulty and offensive”, according to Kassis, especially his claim that Muslims coming into the Bethlehem area, where space is limited, were forcing Christians out.

And I daresay exiled Palestinian Christians will be relieved to hear that their misfortune is all down to Newtonian energy effects.

Now that Williams has gone, what are we to make of the new archbishop, Justin Welby, who came from nowhere and has Jewish immigrant roots? He was “accelerated” up the ladder and served as Bishop of Durham for barely five minutes before landing the top job. It makes you wonder what influences are at work behind the scenes. Welby is touted as an expert in conflict resolution although he is not known for his concern about the Holy Land. Indeed, the Jewish Chronicle reported that Welby helped mount a Holocaust Memorial Day exhibition in Liverpool Cathedral and abstained in the vote at the Anglican Synod which endorsed the EAPPI, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel which provides protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitors and reports human rights abuses, and supports Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace.

Frankly, anyone who cannot bring himself to give wholehearted backing to a worthy humanitarian project like EAPPI, shouldn’t be leading a great Christian church.

It’s a religious war

The residency permit issue mentioned by Rifat Kassis referred to the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, who is a classic victim of the evil machinations of the occupation. The Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem covers Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Dawani was installed in April 2007, but in March 2011 Israel cancelled his residency permit, making it impossible for him to carry out his duties properly. As a non-Israeli he needed a temporary residence permit. The Israelis played silly-buggers, initially granting one then turning him down.

Here’s the explanation.

The bishop is a native of the Holy Land and has spent most of his life and ministry there, but cannot obtain either citizenship or legal residence in Israel, since he was born in Nablus, in the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967, but has not been annexed to Israel. East Jerusalem, on the other hand, where the Anglican Cathedral and Diocesan offices are situated, was also occupied at the same time, but Israel annexed it and considers it part of its national territory (although no other country in the world recognizes this annexation). Therefore, Bishop Dawani is considered by Israel to be a foreigner who can only visit – let alone live in – East Jerusalem with a special permit, which the Israeli authorities can either grant or deny at their sole discretion.

Dawani was wide open to this sort of dirty trick. After six months of aggravation and international pressure the illegal occupiers granted residency permits to the bishop and his family. But here’s the catch: those permits will have to be renewed when they expire, whenever that may be or whenever the Israelis choose.

Do Christian clergy need an army thunder flash up their collective cassock before they understand there’s a religious war going on in the Holy Land and the churches of Western Christendom, regrettably, are not engaging in it, even though the source from which they draw their authority, inspiration and teachings is right there? They much prefer to appease the invader regime and leave their brother churches in Jerusalem and the Middle East to fight alone.


The Zionist wing of the Church of England?

Ever heard of the CMJ (the Church’s Ministry among Jewish People)?

Apparently, it has a proud 200-year history and feels a need to provide in-depth teaching on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. In its statement of faith the CMJ says Christians have “a special responsibility to love, defend and share the Gospel with God’s historic, chosen people, the Jews”. (See this and that.)

And this is the CMJ’s attitude to the Israel-Palestine struggle:

  • CMJ believes that both Jewish and gentile believers (including our Palestinian brothers and sisters) are united in the one “olive tree”. In fact, Jesus has made Jew and gentile believers one “and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…”

The reality is that the Israelis are still building the hated barrier and love nothing better than destroying whole groves of olive trees.

  • Gentiles are “fellow-citizens with God’s people”… God loves all people equally. This means that he loves the Israelis and the Palestinians equally. 

So, we can safely ignore all claims, including those made by the CMJ, that Jews are God’s “chosen ones”?

  • “CMJ… has always seen the return of the Jewish people to their ancient land, and on a national scale to their Messiah, as a precursor to the return of Jesus in glory.”

Their return is achieved by expelling the Arabs (whom God loves equally), slaughtering those who resist and trashing just about all of God’s commandments. Jesus is really going to be impressed when he arrives.

  • “CMJ rejoices that, after 2000 years… the Jewish people now, at last, have returned to the land from which the majority were dispersed in AD70…”

Rejoice in the Jewish occupation and you rejoice in the murderous crime spree that goes with it.

  • “CMJ recognizes that the state of Israel was set up as a result of a majority vote of the United Nations in 1947… However, the ministry does not hold any official position as to the appropriate location of the borders of the state. “

If CMJ recognizes the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan, then it should also accept the borders on which it was based. Instead, the CMJ appears to advocate a “blank cheque” for the Zionist entity’s territorial greed

  • CMJ ministry recognizes that the Israelis, after 2,000 years of anti-Semitism, face a resurgence of anti-Semitism, a military threat from various nations, Palestinian terrorism and a threat to the stability of their safe homeland through demographic factors.”

Is it any wonder? Israel, with its nuclear arsenal and American-supplied state-of-the-art weaponry, easily outguns its neighbours in the Middle East and even threatens Europe. Its lack of restraint and contempt for international law, demonstrated repeatedly, makes it the prime menace to the region. Meanwhile Palestinians have every right to defend their homes as best they can.

It’s obvious that the CMJ adopts the Zionist position and encourages the physical restoration of the Jewish people to the biblical land of Israel, regardless of the suffering and injustice this causes. Nevertheless, the CMJ was adopted as an official ministry of the Church of England in 1995, Archbishop George Carey presiding, and has been operating in the shadows all this time. Is this the Church of England’s official Zionist wing?

Carey is remembered for opposing the Church of England’s divestment from companies, such as Caterpillar, which profit from Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, saying he was “ashamed of being an Anglican”.

Signs of hope from Scotland

Altogether it’s been a dismal performance by most (though not all) churches. But this week, hopefully, the Church of Scotland will give a new lead at its Assembly in Edinburgh to stop the rot.

Although under great pressure to rewrite the Church’s report The Inheritance of Abraham?, which challenges the Jews’ claim to a divine right to the Palestinians’ homeland and is condemned by a furious Jewish lobby as a “truly hurtful” and “inquisition-era” document, they actually beefed it up! For example, the revised version restates emphatically that they do not support the idea that ancient scripture offers anyone a privileged right to territory, and it not only urges the UK government and the European Union to use pressure to stop further expansion of Israeli settlements, but also to remove the existing ones.

Bravo, Scotland!

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Crisis and Critique: Venezuela, a Paradox of Stability?

Ociel Lopez looks back at 2019 and the radically reversed fortunes of Juan Guaido and Nicolas Maduro.

By Prof. Ociel Alí López

For Venezuelans, the start of 2019 was perhaps the tensest moment in the past seventeen years. Unlike the political violence of 2017 and the electoral abstention drama of 2018, we faced a real scenario of foreign military intervention in Venezuela. And for the first time, Washington’s long repeated threats to use military force, like in Iraq, Libya, Panama, etc., appeared credible.

As the year wore on, the errors and miscalculations implicit in the US strategy became increasingly evident. A “parallel government” headed by Juan Guaido was created, but it had minimal capacity to shape events inside the country, let alone actually govern. Guaido’s only power base was in the international corporate media, yet he needed military backing. And so arrived April 30.

That day, there was a mobilization by mutinous soldiers, who despite being very few in number had strong international media backing which fueled the impression that Maduro might fall. The contingent, led by Guaido, took over an overpass across from the La Carlota airbase in east Caracas and called on the military to rise up against Maduro. A few hours later, the weakness of the movement became patently obvious and US National Security Advisor John Bolton revealed that top military and civilian officials allegedly implicated in the putsch had “turned off their phones.”

Following this failure to flip the Venezuelan military, which once again demonstrated its loyalty to the government, Washington doubled down on sanctions, especially in all areas related to the oil trade.

During the first six months of the year, there was no way to describe Venezuela beyond the vocabulary of calamity.

The second semester was something else entirely.

Hitting rock bottom?

The tension hanging over Venezuela fanned out across the continent. In Puerto Rico, Panama, Haiti, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and Colombia, popular upheavals rattled one government after another, which are now fighting for their political survival.

While Latin America boils over, Venezuela has returned to calm. Despite the severe economic crisis that has lasted at least six years and the collapse of basic public services, political strife has waned. Opposition supporters did not return to the streets en masse and the political instability was displaced to the opposition’s own camp.

At the close of 2019, Guaido’s leadership does not inspire unanimity. He has suffered several scandals, including the alleged embezzlement of aid funds by his handpicked envoys, his ties to paramilitary drug trafficking outfit Los Rastrojos, and most recently an illicit lobbying scheme involving deputies from his own National Assembly, among them members of his political party. The governments most radically opposed to Venezuela like Chile and Colombia have had to tend to their domestic matters. The activation of the Inter-American Reciprocal Action Treaty (TIAR) has not advanced in the direction of a direct military intervention, and in the US and international media, Venezuela’s “humanitarian crisis” has been moved to the backburner. It would seem that Venezuela is no longer at the center of the international agenda as it was at the start of 2019.Venezuela’s Opposition: Attacking Its Own People

And, beyond all that, the Venezuelan economy is beginning to stabilize.

Economic stability?

Unlike various other countries in the region, Venezuela’s economy appears to be stabilizing for several reasons. First, the migratory wave has had the salutary side-effect of flooding the country with remittances that reach millions of families, even the poorest. There are even many cases in which financial support from abroad has changed the socioeconomic status of many families amid the severe crisis.

There have also been several [contradictory] economic measures taken by Maduro, such as the derogation of the Illicit Exchange Law, the de facto elimination of price controls, and allowing the free circulation of dollars. All this has opened up new economic scenarios going into 2020, including the end of shortages of essential goods – the bane of the 2012-2016 period –, the creation of new business opportunities, as well as the repatriation of some capitals, however marginal, which are stimulating some commercial activity in a terribly impoverished economy.

At the end of November, Reuters revealed that oil production in Venezuela had increased 20 percent relative to the month before, which could indicate a definitive reversal of the free fall experienced during the first half of the year. This news raises positive expectations for 2020 with the possibility of increasing Venezuelan crude exports in the coming year.

Indeed, according to Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodriguez, Venezuela’s economy could even grow by 4 percent in 2020.

It might be concluded that if Maduro did not fall due to the grave economic crisis during 2019, it’s less likely that he will be ousted now, at least on this account. We will have to wait to see if Trump, in the course of his reelection campaign, opts to impose harsher measures on Venezuela that damage the economy even more severely .

But for now, and while Trump appears to rule out military intervention in Venezuela, all eyes turn to the Venezuelan opposition. Will they manage to consummate their coup by themselves?

Venezuela’s opposition post-2019: A definitive fracture?

Regardless of whether Guaido can secure reelection as president of the National Assembly (AN) in 2020, the opposition does not have a credible strategy for ousting Maduro. And this impotence fuels an internal debate that not only divides the opposition publicly but also demobilizes its supporters. The opposition, as it stands now, appears politically bankrupt given the massive expectations it created in 2019 and the utter failure that ensued.

Today’s opposition is divided between those holding out for a US invasion and those who favor a political solution. The bulk of the first group is based in the United States, while the majority of the second is still in Venezuela. This rift will likely continue to widen in 2020 when elections are slated for the National Assembly, the only branch of government the opposition currently controls. Of the four large opposition parties that control the AN, Democratic Action (AD) and A New Era (UNT) have their leadership in Venezuela and, as such, abstention would mean surrendering their seats. For the radical sectors, especially those based in the US and Colombia, their power base is mainly the international corporate media, and they will not accept an electoral solution. Therefore, 2020 could be the year of definitive fracture within the opposition. Popular Will (VP) and First Justice (PJ) still don’t know how to tell their supporters to vote in the elections without having fulfilled their oft-repeated “end of the usurpation” promise, because the alternative is to lose the National Assembly.

And the opposition defeat is not limited to the political and military arenas. The mounting list of corruption scandals and political debacles runs in parallel to the popular uprising shaking the neighboring right-wing governments allied with the Venezuelan opposition. That is, the opposition is being routed on several fronts.

If the opposition began 2019 with extremely high expectations around which it united and rallied its supporters, it ends the year severely divided, atomized, and demobilized. The careful public relations campaign that went into promoting Guaido was powerless to stop the political novice from squandering his political capital without achieving any notable gains.

Maduro, on the other hand, has experienced a similar process but in reverse.

Maduro, survivor of 2019

At the start of the year, Maduro had the profile of a weak president on the verge of being overthrown at any moment. The opposition flooded the streets in January. Over fifty countries refused to recognize Maduro and backed Guaido following his self-proclamation. Washington practically put a price on Maduro’s head, with Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio threatening to sodomize and murder him like NATO-backed rebels did to Libya’s Muamar Gaddaffi.

Venezuela’s future appeared to be one of bloody conflict if not outright dismemberment by Colombia, Brazil, and Guyana.

Chile’s Sebastian Piñera and Colombia’s Ivan Duque gathered alongside Guaido in Cucuta on February 23 in what was hailed as the final thrust to oust Maduro by forcing so-called “humanitarian aid” across the Venezuelan border. By December, neither of these right-wing presidents attend meetings of the Lima Group, preferring to focus their energy on putting down the mass anti-neoliberal revolts occurring within their borders.

At the end of 2019, Venezuela looks much more stable than its right-wing neighbors, who just months ago were fixated on regime change in lieu of their domestic problems.

The Venezuelan government is no longer on the defensive, moving to take the political initiative by calling 2020 legislative elections in a bid to seize the opposition’s last political bastion. These elections could be held as early as the start of the year. The armed forces remain firmly behind Maduro, who has succeeded in opening up avenues for negotiation with minority opposition factions, with whom the ruling party can work during a new legislative period.

Politics is a clash of opposing forces and, as Venezuela demonstrates, the balance can shift radically in the course of a year.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Crisis and Critique: Venezuela, a Paradox of Stability?

20 Years of Vladimir Putin: His Top Domestic and Foreign Policy Successes

By Andrew Korybko

Vladimir Putin assumed office as Russia’s Acting President 20 years ago on 31 December, 1999, after which he speedily proceeded to transform both his country and the rest of the world in the two decades since.

President Putin became his country’s acting leader 20 years ago on 31 December, 1999, prior to being formally elected to the presidency a few months later in March 2000. He was initially praised as a Western darling because of the false presumption that he’d follow in his predecessor’s footsteps by allowing foreign-allied oligarchs to continue ruling the country in parallel with accepting the diktats of Russia’s former Old Cold War-era rivals. Putin certainly surprised them by breaking with their expectations and speedily proceeding to transform Russia and the rest of the world in the two decades since. As such, the most remarkable achievements of his career deserve to be highlighted on the twentieth anniversary of his leadership. Here’s a brief list of his main domestic and foreign policy successes during his time in office in one capacity or another:

Tamed The Traitorous Oligarchs

Putin immediately caught flak from the West for bringing the law to bear upon corrupt foreign-allied oligarchs who posed a latest threat to national security and sovereignty, but after making high-profile examples out of a few, the rest soon gave up their political ambitions, followed the law, and continued operating their businesses.

Stabilized Chaotic Chechnya

The foreign-backed terrorist-separatist insurgency in Chechnya was a festering wound that threatened to fatally infect the rest of Russia with time if not properly dealt with, but Putin oversaw a second much more successful federal intervention there that ultimately resulted in a pragmatic peace arrangement that still holds to this day.

Paid Off Foreign Debt & Amassed Enormous Reserves

Another reason why the West began to detest Putin was because he freed Russia from its debt bondage and then amassed enormous reserves as a result of responsible fiscal spending and record-high oil prices during the 2000s, which strengthened its economy to the point of surviving the Great Recession mostly unscathed.

Defended Russian Peacekeepers From Georgian Aggression

Although only Prime Minister at the time, few doubt that Putin played a leading role in coordinating Russia’s response to the lethal aggression carried out against its peacekeepers by the Georgian military on the eve of the 2008 Olympics, which showed the world that Russia was finally ready to legally defend its foreign interests.

Presided Over Crimea’s Democratic Reunification With Russia

Putin stayed true to his patriotic roots by presiding over Crimea’s democratic reunification with Russia following the success of the Western-backed EuroMaidan urban terrorist coup that brought neo-fascist Russophobes to power in Ukraine, thus altering the course of contemporary International Relations for the better.

Established The Eurasian Economic Union (EAU)

Far from “recreating the USSR” like his foreign critics fearmongered he was trying to do, Putin’s establishment of the EAU aims to reintegrate the former Soviet Republics in a manner that respects their national sovereignty yet simultaneously pools their collective economic potential in order to make them more globally competitive.

Teamed Up With China To Change The World

The onset of the West’s anti-Russian sanctions in 2014 proved to Putin that his so-called “partners” wouldn’t accept an independent Russia into the ranks of their “New World Order”, hence why he teamed up with China in order to jointly facilitate the emergence of the Multipolar World Order instead.

Destroyed Daesh In Syria

The Russian Aerospace Forces played a pivotal role alongside their on-the-ground Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah allies in destroying Daesh ever since the commencement of their anti-terrorist intervention in the Arab Republic in late 2015, thus making the world a much safer place for everyone.

Masterminded Russia’s “Balancing” Strategy

Despite being snubbed by the West, Putin isn’t by any means “anti-Western” (though some of his most zealous foreign supporters will never believe it), which explains why he masterminded Russia’s “balancing” strategy of pursuing a “New Detente” with the West in parallel with joining China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

Diplomatically Returned To Afghanistan

Few could have predicted at the beginning of his first presidency that his fourth one would see Russia diplomatically returning to Afghanistan by hosting the Taliban, the spiritual successors of the 1980s Mujaheddin, in Moscow for peace talks several times throughout the past year.

Developed Hypersonic Superweapons

Putin guaranteed Russia’s security for years to come by developing hypersonic superweapons that have yet to be built by anyone else, which enabled his military to neutralize the US’ so-called “missile defense shield” and thus uphold the principle of “Mutually Assured Destruction” that’s thus far a nuclear war.

Committed To The “National Development Projects”/”Great Society”

With an eye on the future, Putin committed to the $400 billion socio-economic modernization of his country in order to ensure that it’s able to properly meet future challenges, remain competitive, and sufficiently integrate itself into changing global economy.

Pioneered The Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP)

With its security needs and socio-economic development assured per the aforementioned two achievements, Putin knew that the next natural step would be to position Russia as the centerpiece of the emerging Multipolar World Order through the GEP that he pioneered for integrating the supercontinent with time.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on 20 Years of Vladimir Putin: His Top Domestic and Foreign Policy Successes

US Middle East Forever Wars

By Stephen Lendman

Iraqis suffered from direct and indirect US aggression since Jimmy Carter’s orchestrated Iran/Iraq war in the 1980s.

Eight years of bloody fighting produced stalemate. Then came GHW Bush’s 1991 Gulf War on Iraq, followed by years of genocidal sanctions, Bush II/Cheney’s 2003 aggression, and its violent/chaotic aftermath to the present day.

US war in Syria has been ongoing for nearly nine years with no prospect for near-term resolution because bipartisan hardliners in Washington reject peace and stability in all US war theaters — endless aggression and chaos serving their imperial objectives.

Iranians have long memories, well aware of US imperial designs on their country, beginning post-WW II with Operation Ajax in 1953, the CIA’s first coup.

It replaced democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh with a generation of fascist tyranny.

Iran’s 1979 revolution restored the country’s sovereign independence, free from US control, targeted for regime change from then to now.

The curse of oil and US rage to control these resources made the Middle East boil, new millennium resource wars raging, a modern-day great game.

Oil is the most valued commodity. Controlling it enables control over nations, Henry Kissinger explained.

Middle East countries have around half of the world’s proved reserves. In November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the discovery of a new oil field that contains an estimated 53 billion barrels of crude.

On December 24, Press TV reported that the “National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) expects to announce the discovery of a new oil field in Khuzestan province before the end of the current Persian year in March 2020” — the 2nd major discovery in the past two months.

In October, the NIOC said a large-scale gas field was discovered in southern Iran.

Last year, Iran’s NIOC exploration head Saleh Hendi said 35 – 40 hydrocarbon reservoirs were discovered that need development, claiming:

“We are now ranked first in the world for oil and gas reserves.” Earlier this month he said oil and gas is likely to be discovered in 12 new areas, five prioritized, seven others being evaluated for their potential.

All of the above is why the US seeks control of the country, along with wanting an Israeli rival transformed into a US vassal state, advancing Washington’s aim for regional dominance, the Jewish state its Middle East junior partner.

On Sunday, US warplanes terror-bombed sites in Iraq and Syria. It followed a rocket attack, killing a US private military contractor on a base where Pentagon troops are based near Kirkuk, Iraq, wounding US military personnel.

Iran had nothing to do with what happened. The US blamed Iraqi militants falsely linked to Iran.Saudi Oil Attack and Choreographed Protests in Iran-aligned Countries

In mid-December, Pompeo falsely blamed Iran for earlier rocket attacks on Pentagon bases in Iraq, threatening retaliation if US personnel and allies are killed or injured.

No evidence links Iran to hostile regional actions — US, NATO, Israeli, Saudi, UAE specialties, along with terrorist proxies they support.

Following Sunday’s terror-bombing strikes, a Pentagon statement blamed “Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host” US troops.

The Shia paramilitary group is part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces that operate with the country’s military.

According to Baghdad authorities, around two dozen militia fighters were killed, dozens more wounded.

Weapons storage facilities, along with command and control locations were struck.

In response, Kata’ib Hezbollah reportedly fired rockets at Camp Taji where US forces are based.

According to the Iraqi News Agency, Iraq President Barham Salih condemned US Sunday airstrikes on the country.

So did Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, saying: “Bombing PMU (Popular Mobilization Units) bases is a dangerous aggravation which endangers the security of Iraq and the region.”

He reportedly ordered Iraq’s Joint Operations Command to prevent air and ground operations in the country without Baghdad’s approval.

Kata’ib Hezbollah issued a statement, saying Pentagon airstrikes “disregard(ed) and humiliat(ed) the sovereignty and honor of the Iraqi nation,” adding:

They killed and wounded “our sons which were defending our country’s western border,” calling on Baghdad to “prepare for a new page (of) honor and dignity” by expelling US forces from the country.

Iraq’s Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, affiliated with the PMU, denounced the “cowardly (US) attack.”

It called for “ending (Washington’s) military presence in Iraq…by all means necessary before it lasts any longer.”

Earlier, the Fatah Coalition bloc in Iraq’s parliament called for an end to US occupation of the country.

Deputy Speaker Hasan al-Kaabi said legislation was being drafted to terminate Baghdad’s so-called security agreement with Washington, a measure to force withdrawal of its troops.

Fatah bloc parliamentarian Falih Khazali called Sunday’s Pentagon terror-bombing incident “a clear (US) war with Iraq.”

Senior cleric/political leader Ammar al-Hakin denounced the US raid as a flagrant breach of Iraq’s sovereignty and security agreement with the US.

Press TV reported that the Trump regime withdrew dozens of US personnel from its Baghdad embassy.

US war secretary Mark Esper falsely called Sunday’s aggression “defensive airstrikes,” saying F-15 warplanes conducted them.

Pompeo ignored reality, saying  they were carried out “in response to the threat against the American forces (by) the Islamic Republic” — threatening no one.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is an Iraqi Shia paramilitary force unconnected to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Sunday’s incident is further evidence of the menace posed by the presence of US forces wherever they’re based.

A Final Comment

Months earlier, Iraqi anti-terror groups Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq called for resistance against the presence of US forces in the region because of the menace they pose to peace and stability.

Kata’ib Hezbollah said the term “state sponsor of terrorism” describes how Washington operates, leaving no choice but to resist its regional presence.

The group’s leadership expressed solidarity with Iran because of unacceptable US economic terrorism, harming the nation and its people.

Separately last week, Iraq-based Muslim Clerics Union head Jabbar al-Ma’amouri said the Trump regime pressured Baghdad to block the Mandali border crossing with Iran “because…of its importance to…trade and economic ties” between both countries.

In the 12-month period ending March 20, 2019, non-oil trade between both countries was around $10 billion, he said, adding:

In January through July 2019, it was about $6 billion. Iran and Iraq are allies. The US aims to undermine their political and economic ties.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on US Middle East Forever Wars

Syrian Army Prepares for Operation in Aleppo, Turkish Proxies Move to Libya

By South Front

The Syrian Army is preparing for a ground operation against radical militants in western Aleppo, sources close to the Damascus government claim. According to reports, the Syrian military was preparing for this operation during the past two months.

The operation in western Aleppo will complement the recent advance in southeast Idlib. Both of them are aimed at reopening the M5 highway that passes though western Syria.

Earlier in December, government forces liberated over 40 towns and villages in southeast Aleppo deploying in a striking distance from the militant-held city of Maarat al-Numan. The Syrian Army halted the advance in late December once again giving so-called moderate rebels a chance to separate from al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. Nonetheless, this move found no understanding among Idlib armed groups.Video Player00:0002:26

On December 28, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its Turkish-backed allies launched a large attack on Syrian Army positions in the recently-liberated towns of Al-Teh and Jarjanaz. However, they failed to break the army defense. At least two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices launched by militants were destroyed before they were able to reach army positions.

Turkey is redeploying large groups of members of its proxy groups in Syria to Libya in order to support the pro-Turkish Government of National Accord (GNA) that is involved in the battle for Tripoli against the Libyan National Army (LNA). Videos from the ground show that Turkish-backed Syrian militants are already involved in the fighting on the ground. One of the groups involved in this operation is the al-Mu’tasim Division based in Syria’s northern Aleppo.

The deployment of Turkish-backed Syrian groups in Libya is another confirmation that the so-called Syrian opposition is just a batch of mercenaries and radicals that do not link their future with the territory of Syria and the Syrian state.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syrian Army Prepares for Operation in Aleppo, Turkish Proxies Move to Libya

The US-NATO-‘Israel’ Sponsored Al Qaeda Insurgency in Syria

The US-NATO-Israel Sponsored Al Qaeda Insurgency in Syria. Who Was Behind the 2011 “Protest Movement”?It Started in Daraa on March 17, 2011

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

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Author’s note:

Almost nine years since the beginning of the war on Syria in March 2011, so-called progressives have supported the so-called opposition, which is largely made up of Al Qaeda affiliated mercenaries.  A US-NATO led war of aggression is portrayed as a “civil war”.President Bashar Al Assad is casually described as a dictator who is killing his own people. The millions of deaths resulting from US-NATO led wars are not an object of concern.The anti-war movement died in the wake of the Iraq war (April 2003).

Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and counterterrorism prevail.The war on Syria started more than nine years ago in Daraa  on the 17th of March 2011.The following article first published in May 2011 examines the inception of the jihadist terrorist insurgency.It recounts the events of March 17-18, 2011 in Daraa, a small border town with Jordan. Media reports have finally acknowledged that the so-called “protest movement” in Syria was instigated by Washington. This was known and documented from the very inception of the Syrian crisis in March 2011.It was not a protest movement, it was an armed insurgency integrated by US-Israeli and allied supported “jihadist” death squads? 

From Day One, the Islamist “freedom fighters” were supported, trained and equipped by NATO and Turkey’s High Command. According to Israeli intelligence sources (Debka, August 14, 2011): NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Turkish high command are meanwhile drawing up plans for their first military step in Syria, which is to arm the rebels with weapons for combating the tanks and helicopters spearheading the Assad regime’s crackdown on dissent. … NATO strategists are thinking more in terms of pouring large quantities of anti-tank and anti-air rockets, mortars and heavy machine guns into the protest centers for beating back the government armored forces.

 (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011) This initiative, which was also supported by Saudi Arabia the UAE and Qatar, involved a process of organized recruitment of thousands of jihadist “freedom fighters”, reminiscent of  the enlistment of  Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war: Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. 

The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (Ibid, emphasis added)These mercenaries were subsequently integrated into US and allied sponsored terrorist organizations including Al Nusrah and ISIS. The Daraa “protest movement” on March 17-18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence.Government sources pointed to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel).In chorus, the Western media described the events in Daraa as a protest movement against Bashar Al Assad. 

In a bitter irony, the deaths of policemen were higher than those of “demonstrators”. In Daraa, roof top snipers were targeting both police and demonstrators. Reading between the lines of Israeli and Lebanese news reports (which acknowledge the police deaths) a clearer picture of what happened in Daraa on March 17-18 had emerged.

The Israel National News Report (which can not be accused of being biased in favor of Bashar al Assad) confirmed that: “Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday. … and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday. (Gavriel Queenann, Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests,

 Israel National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21, 2011, emphasis added)The Lebanese news report also acknowledged the killings of seven policemen in Daraa.[They were killed] “during clashes between the security forces and protesters… They got killed trying to drive away protesters during demonstration in Dara’a” The Lebanese Ya Libnan report quoting Al Jazeera also acknowledged that protesters had “burned the headquarters of the Baath Party and the court house in Dara’a” (emphasis added)These news reports of the events in Daraa confirmed that from the very outset this was not a “peaceful protest” as claimed by the Western media.Moreover, from an assessment of the initial casualty figures (Israel News), there were more policemen than “demonstrators” who were killed.

This is significant because it suggests that the police force may have initially been outnumbered by a well organized armed gang of professional killers.What was clear from these initial reports is that many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in premeditated acts of killing and arson.The title of the Israeli news report summarized what happened: Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in ProtestThe US-NATO-Israel agenda consisted in supporting an Al Qaeda affiliated insurgency integrated by death squads and professional snipers. President Bashar al Assad is then to be blamed for killing his own people. Does it Sound familiar? 

The same “false flag” strategy of killing innocent civilians was used during the Ukraine Maidan protest movement.  On February 20th, 2014, professional snipers were shooting at both demonstrators and policemen with a view to accusing president Viktor Yanukovych of “mass murder.”It was subsequently revealed that these snipers were controlled by the opponents of president Yanukovych, who are now part of the coalition government.  The “humanitarian mandate” of the US and its allies is sustained by diabolical “false flag” attacks which consist in killing civilians with a view to breaking the legitimacy of governments which refuse to abide by the diktats of Washington and its allies.Michel Chossudovsky, March 17, 2019, December 14, 2019SYRIA: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention”by Michel ChossudovskyGlobal Research, May 3, 2011There is evidence of gross media manipulation and falsification from the outset of the protest movement in southern Syria on March 17th [2011]. The Western media has presented the events in Syria as part of the broader Arab pro-democracy protest movement, spreading spontaneously from Tunisia, to Egypt, and from Libya to Syria. 

Media coverage has focussed on the Syrian police and armed forces, which are accused of indiscriminately shooting and killing unarmed “pro-democracy” demonstrators. While these police shootings did indeed occur, what the media failed to mention is that among the demonstrators there were armed gunmen as well as snipers who were shooting at both the security forces and the protesters.The death figures presented in the reports are often unsubstantiated.

Many of the reports are “according to witnesses”. The images and video footages aired on Al Jazeera and CNN do not always correspond to the events which are being covered by the news reports.There is certainly cause for social unrest and mass protest in Syria: unemployment has increased in recent year, social conditions have deteriorated, particularly since the adoption in 2006 of sweeping economic reforms under IMF guidance.

The IMF’s “economic medicine” includes austerity measures, a freeze on wages, the deregulation of the financial system, trade reform and privatization.(See IMF  Syrian Arab Republic — IMF Article IV Consultation Mission’s Concluding Statement,, 2006)While Syria is [2011] no “model society” with regard to civil rights and freedom of expression, it nonetheless constitutes the only (remaining) independent secular state in the Arab world. Its populist, anti-Imperialist and secular base is inherited from the dominant Baath party, which integrates Muslims, Christians and Druze.Moreover, in contrast to Egypt and Tunisia, in Syria there is considerable popular support for President Bashar Al Assad.

The large rally in Damascus on March 29, “with tens of thousands of supporters” (Reuters) of President Al Assad is barely mentioned. Yet in an unusual twist, the images and video footage of several pro-government events were used by the Western media to convince international public opinion that the President was being confronted by mass anti-government rallies.Tens of thousands of Syrians gather for a pro-government rally at the central bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)Syrians display a giant national flag with a picture of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad during a pro-government rally at the central bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)The “Epicenter” of the Protest Movement. Daraa: A Small Border Town in southern SyriaWhat is the nature of the protest movement? From what sectors of Syrian society does it emanate?

What triggered the violence?What is the cause of the deaths?The existence of an organized insurrection composed of armed gangs involved in acts of killing and arson has been dismissed by the Western media, despite evidence to the contrary.The demonstrations  did not start in Damascus, the nation’s capital. At the outset, the protests were not integrated by a mass movement of citizens in Syria’s capital.The demonstrations started in Daraa, a small border town of 75,000 inhabitants, on the Syrian Jordanian border, rather than in Damascus or Aleppo, where the mainstay of organized political opposition and social movements are located. (Daraa is a small border town comparable e.g. to Plattsburgh, NY on the US-Canadian border).

The Associated Press report (quoting unnamed “witnesses” and “activists”) describes the early protests in Daraa as follows:The violence in Daraa, a city of about 300,000 near the border with Jordan, was fast becoming a major challenge for President Bashar Assad, …. Syrian police launched a relentless assault Wednesday on a neighborhood sheltering anti-government protesters [Daraa], fatally shooting at least 15 in an operation that began before dawn, witnesses said. At least six were killed in the early morning attack on the al-Omari mosque in the southern agricultural city of Daraa, where protesters have taken to the streets in calls for reforms and political freedoms, witnesses said. 

An activist in contact with people in Daraa said police shot another three people protesting in its Roman-era city center after dusk. Six more bodies were found later in the day, the activist said. As the casualties mounted, people from the nearby villages of Inkhil, Jasim, Khirbet Ghazaleh and al-Harrah tried to march on Daraa Wednesday night but security forces opened fire as they approached, the activist said. It was not immediately clear if there were more deaths or injuries. (AP, March 23, 2011, emphasis added)The AP report inflates the numbers: Daraa is presented as a city of 300,000 when in fact its population is 75,000;  “protesters gathered by the thousands”, “casualties mounted”.The report is silent on the death of policemen which in the West invariably makes the front page of the tabloids.

The deaths of the policemen are important in assessing what actually happened. When there are police casualties, this means that there is an exchange of gunfire between opposing sides, between policemen and “demonstrators”.Who are these “demonstrators” including roof top snipers who were targeting the police.Israeli and Lebanese news reports (which acknowledge the police deaths) provide a clearer picture of what happened in Daraa on March 17-18. The Israel National News Report (which cannot be accused of being biased in favor of Damascus) reviews these same events as follows:Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday.…. On Friday police opened fire on armed protesters killing four and injuring as many as 100 others.

According to one witness, who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, “They used live ammunition immediately — no tear gas or anything else.”…. In an uncharacteristic gesture intended to ease tensions the government offered to release the detained students, but seven police officers were killed, and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday. (Gavriel Queenann, Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests, Israel National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21, 2011, emphasis added)The Lebanese news report, quoting various sources, also acknowledges the killings of seven policemen in Daraa:

They were killed  “during clashes between the security forces and protesters… They got killed trying to drive away protesters during demonstration in Dara’a”  The Lebanese Ya Libnan report quoting Al Jazeera also acknowledged that protesters had “burned the headquarters of the Baath Party and the court house in Dara’a”  (emphasis added)These news reports of the events in Daraa confirm the following:1. This was not a “peaceful protest” as claimed by the Western media. Several of the “demonstrators” had fire arms and were using them against the police:  “The police opened fire on armed protesters killing four”.2. From the initial casualty figures (Israel News), there were more policemen than demonstrators who were killed:  7 policemen killed versus 4 demonstrators.

This is significant because it suggests that the police force might have been initially outnumbered by a well organized armed gang. According to Syrian media sources, there were also snipers on rooftops which were shooting at both the police and the protesters.What is clear from these initial reports is that many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in premeditated acts of killing and arson. The title of the Israeli news report summarizes what happened:  Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests.  

The title suggests that the “demonstrators” rather than the police had the upper hand.The Daraa “protest movement” on March 18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving, in all likelihood, covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence. Government sources point to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel)Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement.What has unfolded in Daraa in the weeks following the initial violent clashes on 17-18 March, is the confrontation between the police and the armed forces on the one hand and armed units of terrorists and snipers on the other which had infiltrated the protest movement.Reports suggest that these terrorists are integrated by Islamists.
There is no concrete evidence as to which Islamic organizations are behind the terrorists and the government has not released corroborating information as to who these groups are.Both the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (whose leadership is in exile in the UK) and the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation), among others have paid lip service to the protest movement. Hizb ut Tahir (led in the 1980s by Syrian born Omar Bakri Muhammad) tends to “dominate the British Islamist scene” according to Foreign Affairs. 

Hizb ut Tahir is also considered to be of strategic importance to Britain’s Secret Service MI6. in the pursuit of Anglo-American interests in the Middle East and Central Asia. (Is Hizb-ut-Tahrir another project of British MI6? | State of Pakistan).Syria is a secular Arab country, a society of religious tolerance, where Muslims and Christians have for several centuries lived in peace. Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation) is a radical political movement committed to the creation of an Islamic caliphate. In Syria, its avowed objective is to destabilize the secular state.Since the Soviet-Afghan war, Western intelligence agencies as well as Israel’s Mossad have consistently used various Islamic terrorist organizations as “intelligence assets”.

Both Washington and its indefectible British ally have provided covert support to “Islamic terrorists” in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Libya, etc. as a means to triggering ethnic strife, sectarian violence and political instability.The staged protest movement in Syria is modelled on Libya. The insurrection in Eastern Libya is integrated by the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which is supported by MI6 and the CIA. The ultimate objective of the Syria protest movement, through media lies and fabrications, is to create divisions within Syrian society as well as justify an eventual “humanitarian intervention”.Armed Insurrection in SyriaAn armed insurrection integrated by Islamists and supported covertly by Western intelligence is central to an understanding of what is occurring on the ground.

The existence of an armed insurrection is not mentioned by the Western media. If it were to be acknowledged and analysed, our understanding of unfolding events would be entirely different.What is mentioned profusely is that the armed forces and the police are involved in the indiscriminate killing of protesters.The deployment of the armed forces including tanks in Daraa is directed against an organized armed insurrection, which has been active in the border city since March 17-18.Casualties are being reported which also include the death of policemen and soldiers.In a bitter irony, the Western media acknowledges the police/soldier deaths while denying the existence of an armed insurrection.The key question is how does the media explain these deaths of soldiers and police?

Without evidence, the reports suggest authoritatively that the police is shooting at the soldiers and vice versa the soldiers are shooting on the police. In a April 29 Al Jazeera report, Daraa is described as “a city under siege”.“Tanks and troops control all roads in and out. Inside the city, shops are shuttered and nobody dare walk the once bustling market streets, today transformed into the kill zone of rooftop snipers. Unable to crush the people who first dared rise up against him – neither with the secret police,  paid thugs or the special forces of his brother’s military division – President Bashar al-Assad has sent thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Deraa for an operation the regime wants nobody in the world to see. 

Though almost all communication channels with Deraa have been cut, including the Jordanian mobile service that reaches into the city from just across the border, Al Jazeera has gathered firsthand accounts of life inside the city from residents who just left or from eyewitnesses inside who were able to get outside the blackout area. The picture that emerges is of a dark and deadly security arena, one driven by the actions of the secret police and their rooftop snipers, in which soldiers and protestors alike are being killed or wounded, in which cracks are emerging in the military itself, and in which is created the very chaos which the regime uses to justify its escalating crackdown. (Daraa, a City under Siege, IPS / Al Jazeera, April 29, 2011)

The Al Jazeera report borders on the absurd. Read carefully.“Tanks and troops control all roads in and out”,  “thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Daraa”This situation has prevailed for several weeks. This means that bona fide protesters who are not already inside Daraa cannot enter Daraa.People who live in the city are in their homes: “nobody dares walk … the streets”. If nobody dares walk the streets where are the protesters?Who is in the streets? According to Al Jazeera, the protesters are in the streets together with the soldiers, and both the protesters and the soldiers are being shot at by “plain clothes secret police”, by “paid thugs” and government sponsored snipers.The impression conveyed in the report is that these casualties are attributed to infighting between the police and the military.

But the report also says that the soldiers (in the “thousands”) control all roads in and out of the city, but they are being shot upon by the plain clothed secret police.The purpose of this web of media deceit, namely outright fabrications  –where soldiers are being killed by police and  “government snipers”– is to deny the existence of armed terrorist groups. The later are integrated by snipers and “plain clothed terrorists” who are shooting at the police, the Syrian armed forces and local residents.These are not spontaneous acts of terror; they are carefully planned and coordinated attacks. In recent developments, according to a Xinhua report (April 30, 2011), armed “terrorist groups” “attacked the housing areas for servicemen” in Daraa province, “killing a sergeant and wounding two”.

While the government bears heavy responsibility for its mishandling of the military-police operation, including the deaths of civilians, the reports confirm that the armed terrorist groups had also opened fire on protesters and local residents. The casualties are then blamed on the armed forces and the police and the Bashar Al Assad government is portrayed by “the international community” as having ordered countless atrocities.The fact of the matter is that foreign journalists are banned from reporting inside Syria, to the extent that much of the information including the number of casualties is obtained from the unverified accounts of “witnesses”.

It is in the interest of the US-NATO alliance to portray the events in Syria as a peaceful protest movement which is being brutally repressed by a “dictatorial regime”.The Syrian government may be autocratic. It is certainly not a model of democracy but neither is the US administration, which is characterized by rampant corruption, the derogation of civil liberties under the Patriot legislation, the legalisation of torture, not to mention its “bloodless” “humanitarian wars”:“The U.S. and its NATO allies have, in addition to U.S. Sixth Fleet and NATO Active Endeavor military assets permanently deployed in the Mediterranean, warplanes, warships and submarines engaged in the assault against Libya that can be used against Syria at a moment’s notice.On April 27 Russia and China evidently prevented the U.S. and its NATO allies from pushing through an equivalent of Resolution 1973 against Syria in the Security Council, with Russian deputy ambassador to the UN Alexander Pankin stating that the current situation in Syria “does not present a threat to international peace and security.”

Syria is Russia’s last true partner in the Mediterranean and the Arab world and hosts one of only two Russian overseas naval bases, that at Tartus. (The other being in Ukraine’s Crimea.)” (Rick Rozoff,   Libyan Scenario For Syria: Towards A US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention” directed against Syria? Global Research, April 30, 2011)The ultimate purpose is to trigger sectarian violence and political chaos within Syria by covertly supporting Islamic terrorist organizations.What lies ahead?The longer term US foreign policy perspective is “regime change” and the destabilization of Syria as an independent nation-state, through a covert process of “democratization” or through military means.Syria is on the list of “rogue states”, which are targeted for a US military intervention. As confirmed by former NATO commander General Wesley Clark the “[The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan” (Pentagon official quoted by General Wesley Clark). 

The objective is to weaken the structures of the secular State while justifying an eventual  UN sponsored “humanitarian intervention”. The latter, in the first instance, could take the form of a reinforced embargo on the country (including sanctions) as well as the freezing of Syrian bank assets in overseas foreign financial institutions.While a US-NATO military intervention in the immediate future seems highly unlikely, Syria is nonetheless on the Pentagon’s military roadmap, namely an eventual war on Syria has been contemplated both by Washington and Tel Aviv.If it were to occur, at some future date, it would lead to escalation. Israel would inevitably be involved. The entire Middle East Central Asian region from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Chinese-Afghan border would flare up.

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It’s Christmas, but not as we know it: ‘Israel’ ratchets-up religious war against Christians

Bethlehem ghetto
Stuart Littlewood writes:

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

Happy Christmas, O prisoners of the Little Town of Bethlehem.

While carving the turkey for your family and merrily quaffing mulled wine ‘midst happy laughter, remember that the romantic Little Town of Bethlehem at the centre of our childhood Christmases is now “an immense prison” in the words of Michel Sabbah, former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and entirely surrounded by Israel’s ugly eight-metre separation wall bristling with machine-gun towers.

The good citizens of Bethlehem are cut off from their capital Jerusalem, only six miles away, and the rest of the West Bank – and the whole world.

Consider that the United Nations, for obvious reasons, designated Jerusalem and Bethlehem a protected international zone under UN administration. Israeli rule was not to be permitted.

Consider also that when Palestine was under British mandate Christians accounted for 78 per cent of the population in Bethlehem and how 71 years of Israeli terror, illegal occupation, dispossession, interference and economic wrecking tactics have whittled their numbers down to around 15 per cent. In occupied Palestine overall the figure is down to 2 per cent.

Consider that, at this rate, there will soon be no Christians left in the land where Christianity was born, thanks to the cowardice and inaction of our political leaders.

And how do the 26 bishops loafing around in our House of Lords explain that to their dwindling congregations?

As usual, many Palestinians in Bethlehem and the other cities and villages throughout occupied Palestine will be unable to reunite with their families or celebrate Christmas at their holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem due to cruel Israeli-imposed travel restrictions. Imagine for a moment what sort of Christmas the half-starved children in blockaded Gaza are having this year, and every year, and the dismal New Year prospects that face all the other Palestinian children struggling to grow up with the Israeli army’s boot on their necks.

This year Reuters reported that Christians in the Gaza Strip would not be allowed to visit holy cities such as Bethlehem and Jerusalem to celebrate Christmas.

Our politicians are either paralysed or deliberately obstructive, or complicit in Israel’s thuggery. In the New Year civil society must resolve to DO SOMETHING about it, one way or another, before the evil spins irreversibly out of control.

Israel grants Gaza’s Christians permits to travel abroad but not to the rest of their homeland in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where many of their holy sites are located. I’ve seen one report today that the decision has been suddenly reversed after pleadings by Christian leaders, but no confirmations so far. Of course, it should not be necessary to plead in such matters.

Nor is it just about religion. This is also a struggle between justice and a criminal conspiracy of huge international proportions, the tentacles of which spread far beyond the Holy Land and impact on all of us, even here in the deepest recesses of Britain’s green and pleasant land.

Our politicians are either paralysed or deliberately obstructive, or complicit in Israel’s thuggery. In the New Year civil society must resolve to DO SOMETHING about it, one way or another, before the evil spins irreversibly out of control.

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1022 administrative orders issued by the Nazi occupation against prisoners during 2019

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr


Nazi occupied Ramallah: The Palestinian Prisoners Studies Center said today, Tuesday, that the administrative orders issued by the Nazi occupation courts in 2019 constitute a 10% increase over the year 2018, during which 920 administrative decisions were issued, which confirms the occupation’s insistence to continue In the use of this type of arbitrary detention, which violates all the standards set by international law to limit its application.

The Center added, in a press statement, that the mock the Nazi occupation courts escalated during the year 2019 the issuance of administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners in their prisons, where it issued (1022) administrative decisions between new and renewal.

The media spokesman for the researcher center , Riyad Al-Ashqar, stated that the number of decisions issued for the first time against the prisoners during the year was (380), knowing that the majority of them were released prisoners who spent years in the Nazi occupation prisons and were re-arrested again, while the number of administrative renewal decisions for new periods of detention reached (642). Decision, and reached 6 times for some prisoners .

And among the administrative decisions affected all segments of the prisoners, including women, children and representatives of the Legislative Council, where administrative orders were issued against 4 minors who are still detained so far, as well as 4 women who are under administrative detention, 5 deputies and dozens of national and Islamic leaders .

The city of Hebron occupied the highest percentage of administrative decisions, as it reached (210) administrative decisions, representing 20% ​​of administrative decisions issued during the year 2019, followed by the city of Ramallah and then Bethlehem

Transfer of the prisoner Hassan Karajeh to the administrator after the end of his sentence

For whom is the demographic predominance in the Nazi occupied Palestine?

29,610 Nazi Jewish settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque during 2019

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