Archive | January 29th, 2020

Unintended Consequences: Did Trump Just Give the Middle East to China and Russia?

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research,

By the series of actions in recent months in Iraq and across the Middle East, Washington has forced a strategic shift towards China and to an extent Russia and away from the United States. If events continue on the present trajectory it can well be that a main reason that Washington backed the destabilization of Assad in Syria, to block a planned Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, will now happen, short of Washington initiating a full scorched earth politics in the region. This is what we can call unintended consequences.

If nature abhors a vacuum, so too does geopolitics. When President Trump months ago announced plans to pull US troops out of Syria and the Middle East generally, Russia and especially China began quietly to intensify contacts with key states in the region.

Chinese involvement with Iraqi oil development and other infrastructure projects, though large, was significantly disrupted by the ISIS occupation of some one third of Iraqi territory. In September, 2019 Washington demanded that Iraq pay for completion of key infrastructure projects destroyed by the ISIS war– a war where Washington as well as Ankara, Israel and Saudi Arabia played the key hidden role—by giving the US government 50% of Iraqi oil revenues, an outrageous demand to put it politely.

Iraq China Pivot

Iraq refused. Instead Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi went to Beijing as head of a 55-member delegation to discuss Chinese involvement in the rebuilding of Iraq. This visit did not go unnoticed in Washington. Even before that, Iraqi-China ties were significant. China was Iraq’s number one trading partner and Iraq was China’s third-leading source of oil after Saudi Arabia and Russia. In April 2019 in Baghdad, China’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations Lee Joon said China was ready to contribute to Iraq’s reconstruction.

For Abdul-Mahdi the Beijing trip was a major success; he called it a “quantum jump” in relations. The visit saw the signing of eight wide-ranging memoranda of understanding (MoUs), a framework credit agreement, and the announcement of plans for Iraq to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It included Chinese involvement in rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure as well as developing Iraqi oilfields. For both countries an apparent “win-win” as the Chinese like to say.

It was only a matter of days after the Beijing talks of Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi that nationwide protests against Iraqi government corruption and economic policies broke out, led by opposition cries that Abdul-Mahdi resign. Reuters witnessed snipers carefully fanning the violent protest firing on the protesters giving the impression of government repression much as the CIA did in Maidan in Kiev in February 2014 or in Cairo in 2011.

There is now strong evidence that the China talks and the timing of the spontaneous October 2019 protests against the Abdul-Mahdi government were connected. The Trump Administration is the link. According to a report by Federico Pieraccini, “Abdul-Medhi made a speech to Parliament speaking about how the Americans had ruined the country and now refused to complete infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless they were promised 50% of oil revenues, which Abdul-Mehdi refused.” He then quotes sections of Abdul-Mahdi’s speech translated from Arabic: “This is why I visited China and signed an important agreement with them to undertake the construction instead. Upon my return, Trump called me to ask me to reject this agreement. When I refused, he threatened to unleash huge demonstrations against me that would end my premiership. Huge demonstrations against me duly materialized and Trump called again to threaten that if I did not comply with his demands, then he would have Marine snipers on tall buildings target protesters and security personnel alike in order to pressure me. I refused again and handed in my resignation. To this day the Americans insist on us rescinding our deal with the Chinese.”Pompeo to Iraq: If You Kick Us Out, We Will Bury You

Now the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, just as he landed in Baghdad reportedly on a mediation mission with Saudi Arabia via Abdul-Mahdi, has thrown the entire region into political chaos amid talk of possible World War III. The soft Iranian “retaliation” missile firings on US bases in Iraq and the surprise admission by Teheran that they accidentally downed a Ukrainian commercial airline as if left Teheran, all amid reports that Trump and Rouhani were in back channel secret talks to calm things down, leave many scratching their heads as to what is really going on.

Quiet ‘silk’ inroads

One thing is clear. Beijing is looking at its prospects, along with Russia to replace the domination of Iraqi politics that Washington has held since its 2003 war of occupation. OilPrice.com reports that beginning October just after Abdul-Mahdi’s successful Beijing talks, Iraq started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries. According to Iraqi oil ministry sources, China will build its influence in Iraq by beginning with oil and gas investments and from there building infrastructure including factories and railways using Chinese companies and personnel along with Iraqi labor. The Chinese-built factories will use the same assembly lines and structure to be integrated with similar factories in China.

Iran’s Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri has announced that Iran signed a contract with China to implement a project to electrify the main 900 kilometer railway connecting Tehran to the north-eastern city of Mashhad near the border to Turkmenistan and to Afghanistan. Jahangiri added that there are also plans to establish a Tehran-Qom-Isfahan high-speed train line and to extend this up to the north-west through Tabriz. OilPrice notes, “Tabriz, home to a number of key sites relating to oil, gas, and petrochemicals, and the starting point for the Tabriz-Ankara gas pipeline, will be a pivot point of the 2,300 kilometre New Silk Road that links Urumqi (the capital of China’s western Xinjiang Province) to Tehran, and connecting Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan along the way, and then via Turkey into Europe. Once the plans for this are making substantial progress then China will extend the transport links into Iraq to the West.”

Additionally, according to Iraq’s Electricity Minister Louay al-Khateeb, “China is our primary option as a strategic partner in the long run…We started with a US$10 billion financial framework for a limited quantity of oil to finance some infrastructure projects…[but] Chinese funding tends to increase with the growing Iraqi oil production.” That is, the more Iraqi oil China extracts the more Iraqi projects it can finance. Today Iraq is dependent on Iran for gas to serve its electric generators owing to lack of gas infrastructure. China says it will change that.

Further the oil industry source states that Russia and China are quietly preparing the ground to relaunch the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline from Iran’s huge Persian Gulf South Pars gas field it shares with Qatar. A US-backed proxy war began against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in 2011 just after he signed a deal with Iran and Iraq to build the pipeline, rejecting an earlier Qatar proposal for an alternative route. Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Qatar poured billions of covert funds to finance terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and later ISIS in a vain effort to topple Assad.

China is not alone in its efforts in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, as erratic and unpredictable US foreign policy drives former US allies away. Russia, which just brokered a ceasefire in Libya along with Turkey’s Erdogan, just offered to sell its advanced S-400 Triumf air defense system to Iraq, an offer that would have been unthinkable even weeks ago. With Iraqi parliamentarians voting to demand all foreign troops, including US and Iranian, leave Iraq in the wake of the brazen US assassination of Soleimani in Baghdad, it is conceivable Baghdad would accept the offer at this point, despite protest from Washington. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, have all be in discussions with Russia in recent months to buy the Russian defense system, said to be the world’s most effective. Turkey has already purchased it.

Before the US assassination of Soleimani, there were numerous back-channel efforts for détente in the costly wars that have raged across the region since the US-instigated Arab Spring between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran and Iraq. Russia and China have both in different ways been playing a key role in changing the geopolitical tensions. At this juncture the credibility of Washington as any honest partner is effectively zero if not minus.

The temporary calm following Iran’s admission of shooting down the Ukraine airliner in no way suggests Washington will go quietly. Trump and his Defense Secretary Esper have defiantly rejected the call to pull US troops from Iraq. The US president just tweeted his support for renewed anti-government Iran protests, in Farsi. We are clearly in for some very nasty trouble in the Middle East as Washington tries to deal with the unintended consequences of its recent Middle East actions.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI, China, RussiaComments Off on Unintended Consequences: Did Trump Just Give the Middle East to China and Russia?

This is the face of the Zio-Wahhabi ISIS sex slave market

This is the face of the ISIS sex slave market

Lamiya Aji Bashar, an 18-year-old Yazidi girl who escaped her Islamic State group enslavers.AP

The advertisement on the Telegram app is as chilling as it is incongruous: A girl for sale is “Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old…. Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon.”

The posting in Arabic appeared on an encrypted conversation along with ads for kittens, weapons and tactical gear. It was shared with the Associated Press by an activist with the minority Yazidi community, whose women and children are being held as sex slaves by the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi extremists.

While the Islamic State group is losing territory in its self-styled caliphate, it is tightening its grip on the estimated 3,000 women and girls held as sex slaves. In a fusion of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology, ISIS sells the women like chattel on smartphone apps and shares databases that contain their photographs and the names of their “owners” to prevent their escape through the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi extremists ISIS checkpoints. The fighters are assassinating smugglers who rescue the captives, just as funds to buy the women out of slavery are drying up.

The thousands of Yazidi women and children were taken prisoner in August 2014, when ISIS fighters overran their villages in northern Iraq with the aim to eliminate the Kurdish-speaking minority because of its ancient faith. Since then, Arab and Kurdish smugglers managed to free an average of 134 people a month. But by May, an IS crackdown reduced those numbers to just 39 in the last six weeks, according to figures provided by the Kurdistan regional government.

Mirza Danai, founder of the German-Iraqi aid organization Luftbrucke Irak, said in the last two or three months, escape has become more difficult and dangerous.

“They register every slave, every person under their owner, and therefore if she escapes, every Daesh control or checkpoint, or security force — they know that this girl … has escaped from this owner,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

The AP has obtained a batch of 48 head shots of the captives, smuggled out of the ISIS-controlled region by an escapee, which people familiar with them say are similar to those in the extremists’ slave database and the smartphone apps.

Lamiya Aji Bashar tried to flee four times before finally escaping in March, racing to government-controlled territory with Islamic State group fighters in pursuit. A land mine exploded, killing her companions, 8-year-old Almas and Katherine, 20. She never learned their last names.

The explosion left Lamiya blind in her right eye, her face scarred by melted skin. Saved by the man who smuggled her out, she counts herself among the lucky.

“I managed in the end, thanks to God, I managed to get away from those infidels,” the 18-year-told the AP from a bed at her uncle’s home in the northern Iraqi town of Baadre. “Even if I had lost both eyes, it would have been worth it, because I have survived them.”

***

The Saudi Zio-Wahhabi extremists view the Yazidis as barely human. The Yazidi faith combines elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. Their pre-war population in Iraq was estimated around 500,000. Their number today is unknown.

Nadia Mourad, an escapee, has appeared before the US Congress and the European Parliament to appeal for international help.

“Daesh is proud of what it’s done to the Yazidis,” she said to Parliament. “They are being used as human shields. They are not allowed to escape or flee. Probably they will be assassinated. Where is the world in all this? Where is humanity?”

ISIS relies on encrypted apps to sell the women and girls, according to an activist who is documenting the transactions and asked not to be named for fear of his safety.

The activist showed AP the negotiations for the captives in encrypted conversations as they were occurring in real time.

The postings appear primarily on Telegram and on Facebook and WhatsApp to a lesser degree, he said.

Both Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Telegram use end-to-end encryption to protect users’ privacy. Both have said they consider protecting private conversations and data paramount, and that they themselves cannot access users’ content.

“Telegram is extremely popular in the Middle East, among other regions,” said Telegram spokesman Markus Ra. “This, unfortunately, includes the more marginal elements and the broadest law-abiding masses alike.” He added the company is committed to prevent abuse of the service and that it routinely removes public channels used by ISIS.

In addition to the posting for the 12-year-old in a group with hundreds of members, the AP viewed an ad on WhatsApp for a mother with a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old baby, with a price of $3,700. “She wants her owner to sell her,” read the posting, followed by a photo.

“We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and disable accounts when provided with evidence of activity that violates our terms. We encourage people to use our reporting tools if they encounter this type of behavior,” said Matt Steinfeld, a spokesman for WhatsApp.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, most Muslim scholars backed the banning of slavery, citing Quranic verses that say freeing them is a blessing. Some hard-liners, however, continued to insist that under Shariah, sex slavery must be permitted, though the Islamic State group is the first in the modern era to bring it into organized practice.

In the images obtained by AP, many of the women and girls are dressed in finery, some in heavy makeup. All look directly at the camera, standing in front of overstuffed chairs or brocade curtains in what resembles a shabby hotel ballroom. Some are barely out of elementary school. Not one looks older than 30.

One of them is Nazdar Murat, who was about 16 when she was abducted two years ago — one of more than two dozen young women taken away by the extremists in a single day in August 2014. Her father and uncles were among about 40 people killed when ISIS took over the Sinjar area, the heart of the Yazidi homeland.

Inside an immaculately kept tent in a displaced persons camp outside the northern Iraqi town of Dahuk, Nazdar’s mother said her daughter managed to call once, six months ago.

“We spoke for a few seconds. She said she was in Mosul,” said Murat, referring to Iraq’s second-largest city. “Every time someone comes back, we ask them what happened to her and no one recognizes her. Some people told me she committed suicide.”

The family keeps the file of missing Yazidis on a mobile phone. They show it to those who have escaped the caliphate, to find out if anyone has seen her, and to other families looking for a thread of hope they’ll see their own missing relatives again.

The odds of rescue, however, grow slimmer by the day. The smuggling networks that have freed the captives are being targeted by ISIS leaders, who are fighting to keep the Yazidis at nearly any cost, said Andrew Slater of the nonprofit group Yazda, which helps document crimes against the community and organizes refuge for those who have fled.

Kurdistan’s regional government had been reimbursing impoverished Yazidi families who paid up to $15,000 in fees to smugglers to rescue their relatives, or the ransoms demanded by individual fighters to give up the captives. But the Kurdish regional government no longer has the funds. For the past year, Kurdistan has been mired in an economic crisis brought on by the collapse of oil prices, a dispute with Iraq’s central government over revenues, and the fallout from the war against the Islamic State.

Even when ISIS retreats from towns like Ramadi or Fallujah, the missing girls are nowhere to be found.

“Rescues are slowing. They’re going to stop. People are running out of money, I have dozens of families who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt,” Slater said. “There are still thousands of women and kids in captivity but it’s getting harder and harder to get them out.”

***

Lamiya was abducted from the village of Kocho, near the town of Sinjar, in the summer of 2014. Her parents are presumed dead. Somewhere, she said, her 9-year-old sister Mayada remains captive. One photo she managed to send to the family shows the little girl standing in front of an ISIS flag.

Five other sisters all managed to escape and later were relocated to Germany. A younger brother, kept for months in an ISIS training camp in Mosul, also slipped away and is now staying with other relatives in Dahuk, a city in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

Sitting very still and speaking in a monotone, Lamiya recounted her captivity, describing how she was passed from one ISIS follower to another, all of whom beat and violated her. She was determined to escape.

She said her first “owner” was an Iraqi ISIS commander who went by the name Abu Mansour in the city of Raqqa, the de-facto ISIS capital deep in Syria. He brutalized her, often keeping her handcuffed.

She tried to run away twice but was caught, beaten and raped repeatedly. After a month, she said, she was sold to another ISIS extremist in Mosul. After she spent two months with him, she was sold again, this time to an ISIS bomb-maker who Lamiya said forced her to help him make suicide vests and car bombs.

“I tried to escape from him,” she said. “And he captured me, too, and he beat me.”

When the bomb-maker grew bored with her, she was handed over to an IS doctor in Hawija, a small IS-controlled Iraqi town. She said the doctor, who was the ISIS head of the town hospital, also abused her.

From there, after more than a year, she managed to contact her relatives in secret.

Her uncle said the family paid local smugglers $800 to arrange Lamiya’s escape. She will be reunited with her siblings in Germany, but despite everything, her heart remains in Iraq.

“We had a nice house with a big farm … I was going to school,” she said. “It was beautiful.”

Posted in Human Rights, IraqComments Off on This is the face of the Zio-Wahhabi ISIS sex slave market

Palestine: Nazi regime is falsifying history and stealing its heritage

Jewish settlers

By: Nabil al-Salhi+


Palestine is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of antiquities, competing with Egypt in the Arab world. At least 22 civilizations have left their mark on Palestine, the first of which were the Canaanites; their presence is still visible today.

Since 1948, successive Israeli governments have paid particular attention to the antiquities that have a distinct Arab and Palestinian identity. Committees of Israeli archaeologists were formed to research in every part of Palestine on which Israel was founded. The aim remains to create a fake historical narrative by Judaizing Palestinian antiquities. Historical monuments in major Palestinian cities, such as Acre, Jaffa, Jerusalem and Tiberias, have not been spared from this process.

Moreover, Israel has used various institutions to Judaize Palestinian fashion through systematic cultural theft and forgery. Even local recipes are not spared. Israel has participated in international exhibitions to display Palestinian fashion and cuisine labelled as “Israeli”.

This is how Palestine’s heritage and history dating back thousands of years are being stolen by the Israeli occupation and the “mafias” selling invaluable antiquities. This is happening at a time when Palestinian parties are taking action and calling for the protection of their legacy, history and civilization.

In this context, studies have indicated that there are over 3,300 archaeological sites in the occupied West Bank alone. A number of researchers confirm that, on average, there is an archaeological site every half a kilometre in Palestine which indicates the true identity and history of the land.

It is important here to mention the devastating effects of the Israeli separation wall on the future of Palestinian antiquities and monuments. The ongoing building of the wall on Palestinian land in the West Bank will ultimately lead to the annexation of over 50 per cent of the occupied territory. It will also include over 270 major archaeological sites, in addition to 2,000 archaeological and historical locations. Dozens of historically important sites and monuments have been destroyed in the course of the construction of the wall.

Specialized studies of Palestinian antiquities indicate that, since occupying the West Bank and Gaza Strip in June, 1967, Israel has been able to steal and sell even more Palestinian artifacts from the West Bank. This phenomenon was exacerbated by the outbreak of the Aqsa Intifada at the end of September 2000.

The Palestinian Authority’s Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage has pointed out that more than 500 archaeological sites and more than 1,500 landmarks have been stolen and destroyed by Israeli thieves and the occupation. It is a simple fact that, as the work of Salman Abu Sitta has demonstrated, more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages have been destroyed and wiped off the map by Israel since 1948. The Department also confirmed that the cultural and economic resources of Palestine continue to be depleted by Israel.

Palestinian studies indicate that the reason for this ongoing Nakba is the collapse of any system to protect Palestinian areas due to Israeli control. Such protection falls under the direct management of the occupation, which basically means that the Israeli army is free to destroy cultural heritage sites, as has happened in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem, and other Palestinian cities, towns and villages.

Archaeological theft and the violation of Palestinian heritage sites is one of the biggest challenges facing Palestinians as they seek to preserve their culture and physical presence in their homeland, which is threatened by Judaization and targeted by systematic Israeli policies. We need to raise awareness in Palestinian society to confront this new-old challenge imposed by Israel.

We also need to boost our capacity to fight Israel’s theft of our history at the local, regional and international levels. This may be reinforced through Palestine’s full membership in relevant international organisations, including UNESCO.

Cultural diversity in Palestine dates back thousands of years. It is shameful that we are allowing this to be whitewashed out of history as Israel seeks to “prove” its fake narrative of the “Jewish state”, to the exclusion of the indigenous people.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Palestine: Nazi regime is falsifying history and stealing its heritage

How Mercenaries and Advisers Fight the Wars the UK Won’t Own

Colonial powers haven’t given up military meddling overseas – but they’ve learned how to keep it out of the news.

By Paul Rogers

Global Research,

‘Mercenary’ is an evocative word, conjuring thoughts of adventure in foreign lands and elastic personal ethics, but probably not the bureaucratic calculations of British foreign policy. That is a tribute to the success of governments in keeping their use of private military forces in the shadows.

It’s worth pointing out that even soldiers on the state payroll get involved in dubious work abroad. A year or so after the 2011 upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt I was asked to speak at a conference on Middle East security, held in Dubai. It was not long after disturbances in Bahrain had inspired the security forces of the kingdom’s Sunni leadership to violently repress its Shia majority with the help of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

Over coffee one morning I happened to be talking to another participant. As we exchanged small talk he explained that he was there as a British Army officer on secondment to the Saudi army. He was advising them as a communications specialist, not least in operations in Bahrain.

The Bahraini repression of dissent in 2011-12 caused controversy around the world, but the British government – then a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition – only mildly condemned it and the media in western Gulf states scarcely mentioned it. Behind the scenes, though, UK armed forces personnel were clearly helping the Saudis support the Bahraini government’s repression, just as they have been taken part more recently in Saudi actions in Yemen.

The UK’s resolute support for Bahrain should cause little surprise, given that we have a fully operational naval base there, HMS Juffair, which is currently the home port for four minehunters and an anti-submarine frigate, HMS Montrose. Last year’s Oxford Research Group briefing ‘Confronting Iran: the British Dimension’ showed that Juffair would be a key part of any British involvement in a Trump war with Iran. In a sense, that army officer at the Dubai conference was just the tip of the iceberg.

Like the US and other ex-colonial powers, the UK has for decades given military support to regimes overseas, often extending to the deployment of serving military with local forces, sometimes going right through to direct combat. Any of the popular accounts of post-war British military developments written for enthusiasts will demonstrate this, a fascinating example being Vic Flintham’s comprehensive ‘High Stakes: Britain’s Air Arms in Action 1945-90’ (Pen and Sword, 2009).Above the Law: UK Government Drops investigations into Iraq War Crimes

Much less recognised is the much more extensive use by states such as the UK of a wide range of mercenary security companies. These operate mostly below the radar, with little detail getting into the public domain, despite their size: The Economist reported in 2012 that the US government had 20,000 private guards in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, while the African Union forces operating in Somalia were trained by a South African company. Sometimes the companies are so large that they may include in their logistics floating arsenals as support bases for state-funded operations such as the anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and Yemen. In this respect the Omega Research Foundation’s studywith Oxford Research Group five years ago was an eye-opener for many.

Occasionally we get a really good analysis and one of the best is Phil Miller’s remarkable ‘Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes’, published next week by Pluto Press.

Keenie Meenie Services operated from 1975 through to the late 1980s before being transformed into Saladin Security, which is still in business today. Its main office is in London’s Kensington, with regional offices in Afghanistan, Iraq, Dubai, Ghana, Kenya and South Sudan, operating in many countries across the world for government and commercial customers.

Miller’s book is primarily concerned with the early Keenie Meenie years, not least the company’s extensive involvement in the terribly violent Sri Lankan civil war, and one of his main points is that mercenary companies, then and now, allow states to intervene in wholly deniable ways. For the UK, as he puts it, “as long as British governments want to intervene militarily in the affairs of other countries, mercenaries will remain an important tool in their arsenals, to be used in the most sensitive circumstances where Parliament, the press and the public would not stomach official British involvement”.

What distinguishes Miller’s book is the depth of research. Investigative reporters often have to rely on personal information from anonymous sources, but Miller has also done extensive documentary research, principally at the National Archives, backed up by frequent recourse to Freedom of Information requests.

Sustained research is essential if one wants credibility in such a controversial area, but the end result of such work, especially if university-based, is often a dry academic treatise that might be very valuable but deter the general reader. This is why Miller’s achievement is so welcome: a book that contains close to 500 references and footnotes yet is thoroughly readable throughout.

So what of his conclusions? Can mercenary activities on behalf of states be made more transparent and accountable? Not if the UK is an example. “Any legislation that reins in private military companies would also have the effect of constraining British foreign policy makers from dabbling in secret wars.” he writes. “And perhaps that is why mercenaries are unlikely to be outlawed any time soon.”

Posted in UKComments Off on How Mercenaries and Advisers Fight the Wars the UK Won’t Own

How Britain helped Iran’s Islamic regime destroy the left-wing opposition

By Mark Curtis and Phil Miller

 Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini

Britain supported Iran’s new Islamic regime in crushing the last remaining opposition to its rule in 1983 while the UK’s leading official in the country joked about Iran’s torture techniques, declassified files reveal.

The UK’s secret intelligence service, MI6, worked with the CIA to provide a list of alleged Soviet agents in Iran to Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic regime, which took power after the overthrow of the UK-backed Shah in 1979. The information was used by the regime to execute leading members of the Iranian communist party, the Tudeh.

The British files also highlight how at least one Foreign Office official considered how the UK might benefit from the forced confessions given by Tudeh members at the time, which were believed to be extracted under torture.

The files suggest British policy was motivated by the desire to curry favour with Iran’s new rulers, rather than concerns over Cold War geopolitics or Soviet influence in Iran, which was recognised to be minimal.

The hit list

The list of Iranians allegedly working for the Soviet Union in Iran was provided to Britain by Vladimir Kuzichkin, a major in the KGB who defected to the UK in June 1982, as reported by the New York Times and London Times in 1986. The information gleaned by MI6 from Kuzichkin – who was responsible for maintaining contacts with the Tudeh party, the main leftist organisation in Iran established in the 1940s – was also shared with the CIA, and passed on to Tehran.

The Iranian regime proceeded to round up over 1,000 members of the Tudeh party and eventually executed as many as 200. The party was banned and forced underground.

Britain’s senior official in Iran at that time, Nicholas Barrington, states in his memoir that Kuzichkin’s information simply “found its way” to the Iranian authorities after the Russian’s defection, without specifying the British role.

Files from the time – when Barrington was head of the British Interests Section in Tehran since Iran and the UK had cut full diplomatic relations – suggest that British officials supported Iran’s repression of the Tudeh.

Telegram from Nicholas Barrington, the UK’s senior official in Iran, to the Foreign Office in London, 9 May 1983. (National Archives)

A significant step’

As Iran’s crackdown was under way, Barrington met a senior Iranian official on 5 May 1983 seeking British views “on his government’s action against the Tudeh”, which, he said, was evidence of “Iranian independence of the big powers”.

Barrington replied, according to his memorandum on the meeting: “I said I had never doubted this independence. The latest Iranian [actions] seemed to me a significant step.”

The Iranian official then mentioned to Barrington a “confession” forced by the new regime which had aired the previous night on Iranian television by a Tudeh member who had previously been jailed for 24 years under the Shah. The activist was said by the Iranian official to have previously revealed nothing “despite all the Savak’s tortures” – referring to the former regime’s brutal security service.

Barrington commented: “I said, half in jest, that perhaps the Islamic Republic’s torture was more effective than that of the Shah.”

By this time, Barrington and other British officials were well aware of Iranian repression. On the same day he met the Iranian official, Barrington had informed the Foreign Office in London of the “destruction of the Tudeh”.

He noted that “it is widely believed that some [Tudeh members] have already suffered the death penalty and the rest will do so soon”. He added that “the public have been taking the law into their own hands” in dealing with Tudeh members and “no doubt scores will be settled and some comparatively innocent will suffer with the guilty”.

 Telegram from Nicholas Barrington, the UK’s senior official in Iran, to the Foreign Office in London, 5 May 1983. (National Archives)
 Telegram from Nicholas Barrington, the UK’s senior official in Iran, to the Foreign Office in London, 5 May 1983. (National Archives)

Earlier, in February 1983, when Iran arrested a number of Tudeh members, Barrington commented that “it looks as if the regime are making a determined effort to root out the Tudeh”. By April, Barrington was informed by a Hungarian diplomat that “several hundred” Tudeh members were in prison, who were expected to be dealt with by a military court.

Barrington did not lament the Iranian regime’s actions, but rather saw them as an opportunity. He wrote that fellow European heads of mission “felt that it was time for Western European and like-minded countries to keep their lines open to Iran”.

No evidence could be found in the 1983 files that UK officials did anything other than approve of this severe repression.

Barrington later wrote in his memoir that “there was money to be made” in Iran where “an important part of our work was maintaining British commercial links with Iran and promoting exports”.

By July 1983, another British official in Tehran, Chris Rundle, told the Foreign Office that “some rank-and-file members are being executed and there are rumours of large-scale executions”. He added that the “best estimates here are that about 80% of the Tudeh members in Iran have been arrested, the rest having gone into hiding or escaped”.

Extracted confessions

The Iranian regime’s aim to destroy the Tudeh party was made easier by the forced “confessions” it extracted from two key figures – Noureddin Kianouri, the party’s secretary-general, and Mahmoud Etemadzadeh, editor of the party newspaper.

On 30 April 1983, after nearly two months in jail, Kianouri and Etemadzadeh appeared on television, saying that the Tudeh had worked against Iran and spied for the Soviet Union. Barrington noted that, “The pressures, or threats, in detention must have been great judging by the appearance of the two men.”

A British file from its embassy in Moscow noted a report from Pravda – the official newspaper of the Soviet regime – claiming that the confessions “had been extracted by Gestapo-like methods inherited from the Savak”.

Despite this, the head of the Middle East and North Africa department in the Foreign Office, Oliver Miles, suggested that the “admissions” on television might be useful to Britain. He noted that “there could well be references to friendly parties in other countries which we might be able to make use of”, such as the Tudeh’s relations with the Syrian Communist Party.

Miles also noted: “Libya and Algeria also have tolerable relations with Iran, and it is just possible that something interesting might crop up in that connexion [sic] too”, before adding, “I should be grateful if whoever is principally concerned with studying the material could bear this point in mind”.

Memorandum by Oliver Miles, head of the Middle East and North Africa Department, Foreign Office, 6 May 1983. (National Archives)

Three days later, Barrington reported: “Tudeh cadres are being rounded up in the provinces.”

On 4 May 1983, when Iran expelled 18 Soviet diplomats, Barrington noted: “The action against the Tudeh has received the seal of Khomeini’s approval…he praises the revolutionary guards, the other security forces and the judiciary for ridding Iran of the Tudeh, which he referred to as a mottled snake which had been working to overthrow Islam”.

A major landmark’

Barrington told the Foreign Office in May 1983 that due to the destruction of the Tudeh “a major landmark has been reached in Soviet/Iranian relations and perhaps also in the history of Communist parties overseas”.

Yet the files suggest that Britain’s support for Iranian repression of the Tudeh cannot be principally explained as a Cold War episode to counter Soviet influence. Officials did not fear the Iranian regime would turn to the Soviet Union since it was implacably opposed to its communism.

There were various sources of friction between Iran and the Soviet Union at this time, notably Moscow’s arming of Iraq, with whom Iran had been at war since 1980. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 had also resulted in millions of Afghans fleeing into Iran.

Neither were the Soviets prepared to go to great lengths to support the Tudeh. Barrington stated in a July 1982 letter to London – by which time Kuzichkin was in the UK passing on information – that while the Islamic regime was in power in Iran, the Russians were “prepared to play it cool and ditch the Tudeh Party, if necessary”.

Barrington went on to receive a knighthood and became Britain’s High Commissioner to Pakistan.

Formal approval for working with the CIA to pass Kuzichkin’s information to the Iranian regime was probably made by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, foreign secretary Francis Pym and head of MI6, Colin Figures.

An unsuccessful attempt was made to contact Sir Nicholas Barrington for a comment. DM

Posted in Iran, UKComments Off on How Britain helped Iran’s Islamic regime destroy the left-wing opposition

Canada citizens fighting for the Nazi regime given warm reception by embassy

Canada citizens fighting for Israel given warm reception by embassy

The Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv host a party with Canadian lone soldiers in the Israeli Army on 16 January 2020 [Canada in Israel/Twitter]

The Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv host a party with Canadian lone soldiers in the Israeli Army on 16 January 2020 [Canada in Israel/Twitter]January 17, 2020 at 2:50 pm

5KSHARES

The Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv hosted a party yesterday for its citizens serving in the Israeli army.

It was organised by Ambassador Deborah Lyons, who told The Jerusalem Post that she wanted to show the appreciation and care felt by the embassy for the “lone soldiers” who left their homes to serve in the Israeli army.

“Lone soldiers” are Jewish citizens of a foreign country serving in the Israeli army. As many as 6,000 such soldiers with dual citizenship are said to be in the programme.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin calls them “true Zionists,” while Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog has described them as “a true example of what Zionism is all about.”

Lyons told the Post that she had been wanting to hold a reception for Canadians serving in the Israeli army “for a very long time.” Three years in fact, since she was posted in Tel Aviv.

READ: Ethiopia-Israel protester faces 6-year prison sentence for allegedly torching police car 

“Canadian lone soldiers are a particularly special group. I know some of the parents of these kids and I wanted to reach out and let them know that their Canadian family of the embassy is here if they want to talk hockey and a home cooked meal,” she said.

Canada’s Defence Attaché Col. Rick Thompson told the Post “the ambassador thought it would be a nice gesture to reach out to Canadian lone soldiers and make some social connections and talk hockey … If you get homesick, we embassy staff are connected to the wider Canadian community.”

There is a high risk of depression amongst “lone soldiers.” Young Diaspora Jews, according to a report in Haaretz, account for only 2 per cent of soldiers serving in the Israeli army, but in the past year the suicide rate among them has been disproportionately high.

Their recruitment has also been a cause of controversy. An Al Jazeera report found that radical organisations in Europe were recruiting western citizens to serve in the Israeli army where many of these foreign fighters took part in the 2014 Gaza war.

In the UK there have been calls for British citizens who volunteer for the Israeli army to be prosecuted like others who fight for foreign forces.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, CanadaComments Off on Canada citizens fighting for the Nazi regime given warm reception by embassy

Gaza photographer wounded in attack by Nazi forces loses eye

Attiya Darwish’s face was hit with a tear gas canister in December 2018 while covering Friday protests in Gaza Strip.19 Jan 2020

Darwish, who sought medical treatment in Egypt and Jordan since his injury, was told on Sunday he had lost vision in his left eye [Screenshot/Twitter]
Darwish, who sought medical treatment in Egypt and Jordan since his injury, was told on Sunday he had lost vision in his left eye [Screenshot/Twitter]

For the second time in less than three months, a Palestinian photojournalist has lost his eye after being hit by Israeli forces during a protest.

A tear gas canister hit Attiyah Darwish’s face in December 2018 while he was covering the weekly Friday protests in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli separation barrier.

The protests have been part of the Great March of the Return movement, which began in March 2018 as Palestinians demanded the right of return to lands their families were violently expelled from during the founding of Israel in 1948.

The protests have also called for an end to the 12-year blockade on the coastal enclave.

According to Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, at least 215 Palestinians have been killed during the demonstrations, including two journalists. Tens of thousands of others have been wounded.

Lost vision

Darwish, who sought medical treatment for his eye in Egypt and Jordan since his injury, was told on Sunday that he had lost all vision in his left eye.

“I was taking pictures, then suddenly I felt a heavy blow on my face with a muffled explosion,” the 32-year-old told Palestinian news agencies, recalling the moment he was injured.

“I fell down from the pain and the shock.”

Darwish suffered several fractures and broken bones in his face and jaw, and severe bleeding in his left eye and ear, which initially resulted in at least 80 percent of severe visual impairment, his doctors said.

According to Jordanian doctor Faisal Tawfiq Fayyad, Darwish’s left eye suffered a scar in the centre of his vision, and despite multiple surgeries, ended up in an irreversible loss of sight.

The photographer’s lower jaw was repaired and the broken bones in the left side of his face were replaced with a metal plate.

Palestinian social media users circulated the hashtag #AttiyaEye and #EyeOfTruth in Arabic after a popular support campaign for photographer Muath Amarneh went viral last November.

Amarneh, a freelance journalist, was hit in the eye by an Israeli rubber-coated bullet while covering a protest in the occupied West Bank town of Surif near the city of Hebron.

In a show of support, activists from a number of countries took photos of themselves covering an eye with one hand and posted them on social media, alongside another hashtag #MuathEye.

السلومة@EslamDarwish21

#عين_الحقيقة_لن_تنطفئ#عين_عطية

View image on Twitter

23:02 PM – Jan 19, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee السلومة’s other Tweets

Alaa Imoor@imoor_alaa

Palestinian photojournalist Atiya Darwish, was shot in the eye by Israeli snipers while covering Israeli human rights violations at the #Gaza border.
He was told by medics that he had completely lost vision in the left eye#عين_عطية

View image on Twitter

3:57 PM – Jan 19, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee Alaa Imoor’s other Tweets

أدهم أبو سلمية #غزة @adham922

عملت مع الزميل #عطية_درويش على مدار 51 يوم خلال العدوان الصهيوني صيف العام 2014م، فما رأيت إلا صحفي شجاع، يبحث عن الحقيقة ويوثقها بالصورة.#عين_عطية قنصها الجيش الصهيوني لطمس الحقيقة التي كان ينقلها.

View image on Twitter

649:03 AM – Jan 19, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy24 people are talking about this

Translation: I worked with my colleague Attiya Darwish during the 51-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, and he is a courageous journalist who looks for the truth to document. Attiya’s eye was targeted by the Zionist army to obscure the truth he was conveying.

Darwish currently works for the Palestinian Alray news agency and has been a photographer for the past 10 years.

“I don’t feel the left side of my face, and the intense pain doesn’t leave me. especially during the cold and when I eat,” Darwish said, adding that he will continue to take photographs.

“I still have one eye though.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Gaza photographer wounded in attack by Nazi forces loses eye

History Shows What’s Wrong With the Idea That War Is ‘Normal’ in the Middle East

Aerial view of the citadel in the ancient city of Aleppo, Syria

Aerial view of the citadel in the ancient city of Aleppo, Syria Sygma/Getty Images.

BY: STEPHENNIE MULDER 

In the days of tension that have followed the U.S. airstrike that took out Iran’s Gen. Qasem Soleimani, an old trope about the Middle East has reared its ugly head. On Wednesday on Fox News, former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland repeated it when she claimed that in “…the Middle East, they’ve been fighting for 4,000 years. It’s been an ethno-sectarian battle and psychodrama, and they’ve been killing each other for millennia. Their normal state of condition is war.”

This trope is frequently turned to by those who would have the world believe that war in the Middle East is somehow innate and inevitable. But a look at the history of the region reveals that it’s simply not true. People in the Middle East haven’t “been killing each other” at any rate that exceeds average human levels of conflict. Indeed, the region that lays claim to being the “cradle of civilization” had developed quite, well, civilized and complex systems of compromise and coexistence that allowed its diverse peoples, faiths and ethnic groups to live together over very long periods of time.

In fact, imperial systems like those that ruled the Middle East for most of its history — spanning vast swathes of the globe and encompassing an immense diversity of ethnicities, faith traditions and customs — have of pragmatic necessity had to develop systems of accommodation, ways to avoid war. As recent scholarship has shown, such strategies characterized every imperial system in world history. For empires, while diversity could certainly be the cause of conflict, it was also a source of economic and political strength. That’s not to say these empires would have passed as modern democracies; premodern empires were often repressive. But their survival, longevity and military expansion depended on internal stability.

Accordingly, when in the mid-7th century Islamic rulers suddenly found themselves presiding over an empire stretching from Spain to the borders of India, with a majority Christian population, they, too, developed such a system, derived from the Qur’anic injunction to give the “People of the Book” — Jews, Christians and others who had received a holy book by divine revelation — a special, protected status. Later, even during periods of sectarian tension, the Shi‘i Fatimid caliphs had Sunnis, Christians and Jews serving as their viziers. Indeed, the Jews of Islam enjoyed freedoms and privileges unimaginable in Christian Europe, where they faced centuries of persecution.

Even the Mongols, famed for their brutality in conquest, realized the necessity for coexistence. In the 13th century, after creating the largest contiguous land empire the world has ever known, they established the “Pax Mongolica” — the Mongol Peace — that guaranteed religious freedom to all Mongol subjects. One branch of the Mongols, the Ilkhanids, ruled over modern-day Iran and — after converting to Islam — sparked a renaissance of art and culture that directly parallels the more famous one in Italy. And indeed, up through the Ottoman era and until the rise of political modernity, such systems thrived. The real history of the Middle East is a far cry from a “default” of war. In fact, the default was pragmatic coexistence.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on History Shows What’s Wrong With the Idea That War Is ‘Normal’ in the Middle East

Abby Martin Blocked From Speaking at Georgia Southern for Refusing to Sign Pro-Zionist Loyalty Oath

Abby Martin Blocked From Speaking at Georgia Southern for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel Loyalty OathChris Menahan

Journalist Abby Martin has revealed that she was blocked from delivering a keynote speech at Georgia Southern University for refusing to “sign a contractual pledge to not boycott Israel” to comply with Georgia’s anti-Boycott, Divest and Sanctions law.

“After I was scheduled to give keynote speech at an upcoming @GeorgiaSouthern conference, organizers said I must comply with Georgia’s anti-BDS law and sign a contractual pledge to not boycott Israel,” Martin said Friday on Twitter. “I refused and my talk was canceled. The event fell apart after colleagues supported me.”

Abby Martin@AbbyMartinAfter I was scheduled to give keynote speech at an upcoming @GeorgiaSouthern conference, organizers said I must comply w/ Georgia’s anti-BDS law & sign a contractual pledge to not boycott Israel. I refused & my talk was canceled. The event fell apart after colleagues supported me8,0091:49 AM – Jan 11, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy3,092 people are talking about this
Abby Martin@AbbyMartin · Jan 11, 2020Replying to @AbbyMartin @GeorgiaSouthernThe organizers were afraid my pro-Palestine activism & film Gaza Fights For Freedom would violate Georgia’s anti-BDS law. Georgia is one of 27 states that passed legislation to criminalize BDS efforts. Ironically, the conference was centered around the notion of “media literacy.”Abby Martin@AbbyMartinThe global awareness & success of BDS has terrified the political establishment, which has pursued an aggressive, bipartisan push to ban Israel boycotts across the US, especially at universities. Trump’s recent executive order furthers cements this goal. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/trump-appeases-israel-lobby-executive-order …Trump appeases Israel lobby with executive orderOrder foreshadows more government inquisitions into Palestine activism on campus.electronicintifada.net1,3521:51 AM – Jan 11, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy372 people are talking about this
Abby Martin@AbbyMartin · Jan 11, 2020Replying to @AbbyMartin @GeorgiaSouthernThe hyperbolic notion that conservatives are the ones being persecuted on college campuses has made blatant censorship campaigns against people for criticism of Israel, or other progressive protests, go completely ignored. https://www.projectcensored.org/campus-free-speech-policies-stifle-progressive-students-opinions/ …Campus Free Speech Policies Stifle Progressive Students’ Opinions – Validated Independent NewsA November 2017 report by Alex Buckingham for  Socialist Worker draws attention to the hypocritical policies enacted by college campuses that purport toprojectcensored.orgAbby Martin@AbbyMartin.@nolan_higdon & @Mythinfo of @ProjectCensored discuss how these selective, politicized narratives about free speech lead to bi-partisan attacks on First Amendment protections & support for censorship against critiques of empire. http://bit.ly/36JRFHQ As Democracy Crumbles, Silence Speaks Volumes – CounterPunch.orgHyper-Partisanship and the Failure to Uphold Free Speech Principles In late 2019, the popular Joe Rogan podcast featured author and contributing editor to Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi. In addition to…counterpunch.org8731:55 AM – Jan 11, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy223 people are talking about this
Abby Martin@AbbyMartinReplying to @AbbyMartin and 4 othersThis censorship of my talk based on forced compliance to anti-BDS laws in Georgia is just one level of a nationwide campaign to protect Israel from grassroots pressure. We must stand firmly opposed to these efforts and not cower in fear to these blatant violations of free speech.1,3112:04 AM – Jan 11, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy413 people are talking about this
President Trump in early December gave a speech at Sheldon Adelson’s Israeli American Council on Dec 7 insisting Americans must “love Israel.”

The Hill@thehillTrump: “We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more. Because you have people that are Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”2,3982:12 AM – Dec 8, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy3,274 people are talking about this
Days later, he signed an executive order to punish critics of Israel on college campuses.

Chris Menahan @infolibnewsWe might not have gotten Trump’s promised executive order on birthright citizenship or his EO on Big Tech censorship but at least we got a blatantly unconstitutional executive order punishing criticism of Israel! http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=61014 Trump Signs Executive Order to Punish Critics Of Israel With Jeffrey Epstein’s Lawyer By His SidePresident Trump on Wednesday signed an executive over to make Jews on college campuses a ‘protected class’ and allow the federal government to pull funding from colleges whinformationliberation.com1512:01 AM – Dec 12, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Chris Menahan ‘s other Tweets
Incidentally, around three weeks later the Trump administration worked with Israeli intelligence to assassinate Israel’s number one enemy, Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and tried but failed to assassinate another top figure of Iran’s Quds Force while he was in Yemen, Abdul Reza Shahlai.

The Times of Israel@TimesofIsraelIsraeli intel helped US carry out strike that killed Iran’s Soleimani — report https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-intel-helped-us-carry-out-strike-that-killed-irans-soleimani-report/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter …Israeli intel helped US carry out strike that killed Iran’s Soleimani — reportInformation provided by Jewish state confirmed that Quds Force leader was at Baghdad airport before missile strike, NBC News reportstimesofisrael.com4126:20 AM – Jan 12, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy255 people are talking about this
Anna Ahronheim@AAhronheimReplying to @AAhronheimIn October I did a piece on who could be on #Israel‘s potential hit list. Two of them are deadhttps://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Who-are-the-men-on-Israels-potential-hit-list-606101 …Who are the men on Israel’s potential hit list?Senior defense officials have warned that Israel is facing an Iranian storm that is coming closer to her borders. But who are the men behind the storm?jpost.com4385:13 AM – Jan 3, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy227 people are talking about this
Edward Wong@ewongUS tried strike on another senior Iranian military official the same day it killed Suleimani in Iraq. But the other attack, in Yemen, failed. Trump had put several officials on a kill list — an attempt at decapitation. w/ @EricSchmittNYT @julianbarnes. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/10/world/middleeast/trump-iran-yemen.html …U.S. Unsuccessfully Tried Killing a Second Iranian Military OfficialA failed airstrike in Yemen was aimed at Abdul Reza Shahlai, an official with Iran’s Quds Force and an organizer of financing for regional militias supported by Iran.nytimes.com412:12 AM – Jan 11, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy47 people are talking about this
What’s next?

Courts across America have ruled repeatedly that anti-BDS laws are blatantly unconstitutional and clear violations of the First Amendment but such laws are being passed and enforced throughout the country — First Amendment be damned. 

 

Follow InformationLiberation on TwitterFacebookGab and Minds.

undefinedFacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Abby Martin Blocked From Speaking at Georgia Southern for Refusing to Sign Pro-Zionist Loyalty Oath

Making Rebellion Attractive: Why the Establishment Still Hates John Reed

by P. SAINATH

Photograph Source: John Reed, the American Communist – Public Domain

‘If Mark Twain or John Reed were alive today and looking for work, would they find it at your newspaper or channel? Could Twain have a column? Would you carry Reed’s despatches?’

That was a question I put to several American editors and journalists in 2000. I was touring the USA as an Eisenhower Fellow and meeting, often interviewing, many media personalities there. My focus was on mavericks, anti-establishment, progressive and radical journalists, including Studs Terkel, Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn and Adam Hochschild. However, I did meet some very mainstream ones, including Walter Cronkite, well past 80, but quite alive and articulate. Also, Joe Lelyveld of The New York Times. I usually asked these questions at the end of those very different meetings.

Cockburn spilt his coffee laughing out loud at the idea of a Twain or Reed finding a place on staff in the contemporary corporate media. Terkel, though unwell, stood up and enacted a scene he’d been through in the McCarthy period, when he’d been blacklisted and was an untouchable in the media. ‘I gotta act this out. Watch me’, he said. ‘I’m a great ham’. Vidal (another ‘blacklister’ of the time) joked he probably wouldn’t find a job with them himself – in 2000. Cronkite said he thought Twain might get a column or show but would lose it very quickly – mainly because ‘Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ contempt for the bosses of our time would surface quickly and hilariously’. Clemens was Twain’s real name. Of Reed, Cronkite said, pausing a few seconds, that after six decades ‘in our profession, I’d think you’d have to give that perspective a place’.

Lelyveld pondered a moment and said upfront, ‘Twain probably would not find a column here…or in most mainstream publications…we do have a Bob Herbert, but…’ It seemed to me he felt Twain’s scathing irreverence would not easily find a place in any major paper. My question on Reed either did not register, or he did not find the author of Ten Days That Shook the World worthy of consideration at all. Since it was one posed as I was stepping out of his office, we couldn’t pursue it.

This was late September 2000, less than a year away from 9/11. Not long after which The New York Times, which would have dismissed the credentials of John Reed, enthusiastically published Judith Miller’s many Words of Mass Deception on mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Miller would later be ‘embedded’ with a US military unit in that country. She would be forced to resign from The Times in 2005, but her job as an embedded hack was done.

John Reed was embedded in the reality of the Russian Revolution – and before that the peasant uprising in Mexico. He was not cocooned with military or mercenary protection. In the chaos of the revolutionary uprising of 1917, he came close to being shot or otherwise killed by people on different sides of the battle. But, though exuberant, he did not mythologise or romanticise himself. And never lost his sense of humour. His account of the first hotel he went to in Moscow after November 7, ‘we entered an office lit by two candles’. Reed and his companions were welcomed in this hotel office. ‘Yes, we have some very comfortable rooms’, they were told, ‘but all the windows are shot out. If the gospodin does not mind a little fresh air’. It is important to remember that the gospodin, the Russian word for ‘mister’, would have to suffer below freezing temperatures in his room. Reed was not going to live the high-life as a reporter. He would stay in a room that opened out to the Moscow air, and would eat whatever he could find,

We dined at a vegetarian restaurant with the enticing name, ‘I eat nobody’, and Tolstoy’s picture prominent on the walls, and then sallied out into the streets.

John Reed was a reporter and journalist. Not a stenographer to the powerful. Nor embedded with the oppressors of those he was covering. That, of course, did not go down too well with Big Media even in his time.

For Charles Russell, who reviewed the book for the New York Times (April 27, 1919), Reed’s message boiled down:

To revolt for the sake of revolting, to fight for the joy of fighting, to slay valiantly, to ride furiously, to shout vehemently are activities glorious. This we can easily perceive from Mr. Reed’s book, as from the others. But as to why we should revolt, fight, slay, ride, and shout we are left darkling.

So it was nice to see the New York Times acknowledge him in its Red Century Series this year. That includes a thoughtful and reflective piece by London-based journalist-author Jack Schenker. There is also a piece in that series on the ‘10 days still shaking the world’ by – no kidding – Condoleezza Rice (October 17, 2017). It was Rice, as then US Secretary of State and a great supporter of the WMD fabrications, who in 2002 wrote a major piece in – you guessed it – the New York Times, on ‘Why We Know Iraq Is Lying’. Before she joined the administration of George W. Bush, Rice was a Soviet specialist at Stanford University. Despite the title ripping off on his own, Reed gets just a few words in her Red Century piece. But they’re interesting words,

Ten Days That Shook the World captures the excitement of that moment. The author, John Reed, was an American who made no secret of his Bolshevik sympathies. He nevertheless provided a riveting and vivid — if not impartial — account of the most pivotal phase of the revolution, as viewed from the ground.

From his vantage point, Reed could only tell a part of the story, however.

No single report or book can ever tell more than a part of the story of something so large as the Russian Revolution of 1917. Yet, as AJP Taylor (probably the most popular British historian of the 20th century) wrote in his preface (Penguin 1977) to Ten Days That Shook the World,

Reed’s book is not only the best account of the Bolshevik Revolution, it comes near to being the best account of any revolution.

Reed the journalist himself made no claim to being impartial.

In the struggle, my sympathies were not neutral. But in telling the story of those great days I have tried to see events with the eye of a conscientious reporter, interested in setting down the truth.

The authenticity of his writing on the revolution gained from its being a first-hand, eyewitness account. Seen from the streets and barricades, drawn from the meeting halls and fiery debates. Acute powers of observation, aligned always with a sensitivity towards ordinary people. Not ‘experts.’ Quite unlike the eager-to-embed hacks who would decades later go all the way to Afghanistan and Iraq and work from briefings of the U.S. military units that had them on a leash – only to produce stories that could have been written just as easily in Washington D.C. Some of them probably were. Reed always sought to escape censorship from governments. Very unlike the steno-serfs of our time who would each day meekly submit their copy to their military for approval. (It sort of gave the word ‘copy’ a new meaning).

Reed’s writing skills lent excitement and urgency to his account. Painting vivid pictures in words, he captured a moment, many moments, in time.

Describing Petrograd ‘on the eve’,

Up in the Nevsky in the sour twilight, crowds were battling for the latest papers, and knots of people were trying to make out the multitudes of appeals and the proclamations posted in every flat place. …An armoured automobile went slowly up and down, siren screaming. On every corner, in every open space, thick groups were clustered; arguing soldiers and students. Night came swiftly down, the wide-spaced streetlights flickered on, the tides of people flowed endlessly…It is always like that in Petrograd just before trouble.

Inside the Smolny, where the revolution set up its offices,

… the long, gloomy halls and bleak rooms seemed deserted. No one moved in all the enormous pile. A deep, uneasy sound came to my ears, and looking around, I noticed that everywhere on the floor, along the walls, men were sleeping. Rough, dirty men, workers and soldiers, spattered and caked with mud, sprawled alone, or in heaps, in the careless attitudes of death. Some wore ragged bandages marked with blood. Guns and cartridge belts were scattered about…

In the upstairs buffet so thick they lay that one could hardly walk. The air was foul. Through the clouded windows, a pale light streamed. A battered samovar, cold, stood on the counter, and many glasses holding dregs of tea…

Reed came from a privileged background. He was – like Walter Lippmann – a Harvard graduate. He was – unlike Lippmann – never a war propagandist for his government. Reed, when covering Pancho Villa’s revolt, wrote of Mexicans without that racial disdain that so much of US journalism still reeks of. In Ten Days That Shook the World and elsewhere, he wrote of Russians, Americans, Europeans and others without a trace of prejudice. He was dealing with human beings.

Lippman knew Reed. And had once even praised his coverage of the Colorado Coalfield War as ‘undoubtedly the finest reporting that’s ever been done’. In the years that followed, Reed stayed on the Left. Lippmann became a pillar of the establishment, churning out reams of US war propaganda. He would even peddle his own, to push his government towards interning fellow citizens in prison camps on US soil during World War II. Well over two-thirds of the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were thrown into these camps were US citizens, born in that country. Orphans were not spared, nor even Japanese children adopted by white American parents. None of those interned was charged with a crime. They were incarcerated anyway.

In a dreadful piece, ‘The Fifth Column On The Coast’ (February 12, 1942), Lippmann targeted Japanese Americans. He warned of the ‘imminent danger of a combined attack from within and from without’. He did concede that ‘there has been no important act of sabotage on the Pacific coast’. For him, that only proved ‘that the blow is well organised and that it is held back until it can be struck with maximum effect’. Veteran journalist Richard Reeves believes Lippmann’s piece pushed President Roosevelt into giving California authorities the go-ahead for the prison camps. Reeves is author of the heat-rending book Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American Internment in World War II.

Years later, Lippman was to look back on the propaganda of the war: ‘It seemed impossible to wage the war energetically except by inciting the people to paroxysms of hatred and to utopian dreams’. He did not, though, mention the tragic event. Lippmann is celebrated as the father of modern journalistic objectivity. Harvard’s key journalism institution, the Nieman Foundation, is housed in a building named after him. Of fellow-Harvardian Reed, Lippmann once wrote, ‘By temperament, he is not a professional writer or reporter. He is a person who enjoys himself’ (The New Republic, December 26, 1914). In today’s Big Media jargon, Reed would be labelled an ‘activist’, not a journalist.

There was also this difference between Reed and so many of the ‘star journalists’ of today. He did not return from exotic locales with ‘war stories’ of which he was himself the focus. No ‘Christiane Amanpour in Baghdad’ nor ‘Anderson Cooper on Syria’s border’ – where the war in those countries is less important than the mere presence of these television icons on their soil, however briefly. CNN’s own promos leave you in do doubt as to who makes the story – and it’s not the natives, not even the friendly ones. Ten Days that Shook the World was not promoted as ‘John Reed from Red Square.’ There was a revolution in Russia. He covered it. He was not invisible in his reporting, but was clear that he wasn’t the story. And he was consistent: the principles he stood for in Mexico and in Russia were also those he practiced at home. Within the United States he covered – and participated in – the struggles of workers, miners, and other poor people.

As the historian Howard Zinn put it of Reed,

He rushed into the centre of wars and revolutions, strikes and demonstrations, with the eye of a movie camera, before there was one, and the memory of a tape recorder, before that existed. He made history come alive for the readers of popular magazines and impoverished radical monthlies.

Reed was moved by the silk weavers and workers strike in Paterson, New Jersey. And was arrested in 1913 while trying to speak for the strikers. (The first of many times he would be arrested in his lifetime). Deeply moved by the brutal crackdown on the workers, he went on to stage a pageant recreating scenes from those battles – in New York’s old Madison Square Garden. As many as 1,200 strikers were reported to have participated in the pageant. Many thousands more came to watch the spectacle. Reed probably hoped the pageant would also work as a benefit performance for and by the strikers.

In Colorado, he covered the miners’ strike of 1913-14 which the Rockefellers and other mining interests of the day moved to crush with great barbarism. Reed arrived there a few days after the infamous Ludlow massacre which saw the Colorado National Guard attack a settlement of over a thousand workers. The workers fought back.

Estimates of the number of deaths vary but are all saddening. In all, perhaps, over two dozen people died at Ludlow, several in firing – the Guard used machine guns– and also 11 children and 2 women who suffocated to death in the miners’ camp, owing to fires the Guard had set to burn the tents. More lives were lost in the days that followed, in Guard action and in rioting. Still more were slain in the other battles of the ‘Colorado Coalfield War.’ Overall, from differing estimates, it would seem the total ran to over a hundred deaths in the ‘war.’

In Reed’s powerful prose,

In three hours every striker for 50 miles in either direction knows that the militia and mine guards had burned women and children to death. Monday night they started, with all the guns they could lay their hands on, for the scene of the action at Ludlow. All night long the roads were filled with ragged mobs of armed men pouring towards the Black Hills. And not only strikers went. In Aguilar, Walsenburg and Trinidad, clerks, cab drivers, chauffeurs, school teachers, and even bankers seized their guns and started for the front. It was as if the fire started at Ludlow had set the whole country aflame.

Contrast that with the New York Times’ calling for the use of force in the Colorado War,

With the deadliest weapons of civilization in the hands of savage-mined men, there can be no telling to what lengths the war in Colorado will go unless it is quelled by force … The President should turn his attention from Mexico long enough to take stern measures in Colorado.

John Reed didn’t just speak ‘truth to power’ – he spoke the truth about power. Relentlessly, passionately, powerfully.

Reed was fiercely independent, truthful, but did not pretend to be neutral–a distinction completely lost with the onset of corporate-driven journalism.

Reed set out in his early days viewing himself as a poet – but his poetry was not distinguished. It was certainly not his strong point. However, some of his prose borders on and melds with the poetic. And that comes out best in his first book Insurgent Mexico. A spellbinding account of the uprising in Mexico of the poor and the destitute led by Pancho Villa, one of the great figures of the Mexican revolution. But that’s another book, another story. It still seems worthwhile to repeat the lines about Reed by Alfredo Varela in the preface to the Argentinian edition of Insurgent Mexico,

In the end he is a mural painter. The great fresco is his speciality, the panoramic picture which reveals history in a thousand details.

By the time John Reed reached Russia, he had seen and developed his own understanding of class war. If Insurgent Mexico was near poetry, Ten Days That Shook the World is pulsating prose. It is also takes the reporting of the marginalised to yet another, incredible level. Reed works in documents, declarations, debates a great deal more than in his earlier writings, yet the excitement never flags. And he sets the record straight on many things including ‘the loot of the Winter Palace’.

Reed saw ordinary people becoming ‘self-appointed sentinels’ to protect the treasures of the Palace. And where the poor themselves were ransacking anything,

The paintings, statues, tapestries and rugs of the great state apartments were unharmed…The most highly-prized loot was clothing which the working people needed. In a room where furniture was stored, we came upon two soldiers ripping the elaborate Spanish leather upholstery from chairs. They explained it was to make boots with…

Indeed, some precious stuff was also stolen. He cites the Bolsheviks then and later repeatedly appealing for the return of the ‘inalienable property of the Russian people’, of the ‘valuable objects of art that were stolen’. The new Soviet government created ‘a special commission comprised of artists and archaeologists to recover the stolen objects’. Even more appeals were made.

About half the loot was recovered, some of it in the baggage of foreigners leaving Russia.

Reed was to return to the United States where, of course, he was indicted for sedition. The trials of Reed and his editor Max Eastman ended with hung juries. Reed had already returned to Russia where he died of typhus in 1920.

His wife Louis Bryant wrote to his editor Max Eastman while Reed’s illness raged. She wanted him to take plenty of rest before he returned to the United States where she feared he would be imprisoned.

Early in his sickness I asked him to promise me that he would rest before going home, since it only meant going to prison. I felt prison would be too much for him. I remember he looked at me in a strange way and said, ‘My dear Little Honey, I would do anything I could for you but don’t ask me to be a coward’.

Ten Days That Shook the World did more than give its fans a good read. It raised questions, it carved out a kind of journalism that would allow the marginalised in society to be heard in their own voice. It inspired readers rebels, revolutionaries. As Howard Zinn would write of him,

John Reed could not be forgiven by the Establishment for refusing to separate art and insurgency, for being not only rebellious in his prose but imaginative in his activism. Protest joined to imagination was dangerous, courage combined with wit was no joke. Grim rebels can be jailed, but the highest treason, for which there is no adequate punishment, is to make rebellion attractive.

References.

Charles E. Russell, ‘Bolshevism, in Theory and Practice, As Friend and Opponent See It’, New York Times, April 27, 1919.

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (Harper & Row, 1980).

John Reed, Insurgent Mexico (D. Appelton and Co., 1914).

Louise Bryant, Six Red Months in Russia (George H. Doran, 1918).

Shaking the World: John Reed’s Revolutionary Journalism, ed. J. Newsinger (Bookmarks, 1999).

Posted in USA, MULTIMEDIA, MediaComments Off on Making Rebellion Attractive: Why the Establishment Still Hates John Reed

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING