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Putin: Kim Jong-Il Said North Korea Had Nukes In 2001, Pressure Leads to a ‘Dead End’

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  • Late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) in 2001.
    Late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) in 2001. | Photo: Reuters.
Kim Jong-Il made the admission before North Korea was dubbed part of the “axis of evil” and five years before its first nuclear test.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has admitted that he learned about North Korea possessing a nuclear bomb as early as the early 2000s, five years before it conducted its first nuclear test. Putin made the revelation during a plenary session of the first Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow.

RELATED: Washington and Pyongyang React to Trump’s Tillerson Tweet

“In 2001, when I was on my way to pay a visit to Japan, I made a stop in North Korea, where I had a meeting with the father of the country’s current leader (Kim Jong-Un),” Putin said. “It was back then when he told me that they had a nuclear bomb. Moreover, Seoul was within the hitting range of their standard artillery systems at that time.”

“When was that? In 2001!” Putin continued, lambasting attempts to pressure the North into complying with U.S. demands. “It is 2017 already, the country has been living under permanent sanctions and instead of a nuclear bomb they have now a hydrogen bomb.”

“However, it was decided literally a week later to block the accounts of North Korean banks, because someone felt the obligations assumed by North Korea are not enough, that it can and should do more. But that was precisely what they agreed on,” the Russian leader added.

While North Korea signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1985, it refused to allow inspectors into its nuclear waste storage sites in 1993, raising suspicions of a clandestine nuclear program. In 1994, Pyongyang agreed with Washington to freeze its nuclear weapons program as a condition for moving toward the full normalization of bilateral political and economic ties. The North also agreed to mothball its graphite nuclear reactors and buy new light-water reactors while submitting to full inspections under the NPT.

By the early 2000s, the so-called “Sunshine Policy” of South Korea’s then-President Kim Dae-Jung was in full swing. Introduced in 1998, it called for a slow process of confederated reunification and resulted in a blossoming of North-South relations, including large shipments of food aid to the North and a lifting of restrictions on joint business ventures. The South Korean leader, who eventually earned a Nobel Peace Prize, even urged the U.S. to lift its embargo on the North. Pyongyang had, for the first time, established official ties with various European states while holding talks with the U.S. and Japan.

By 2002, the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush named North Korea a member of the “axis of evil” alongside Iran and Iraq, alleging that Pyongyang had been “seeking weapons of mass destruction” and secretly developing nuclear weapons in violation of the 1994 agreement.

“What was the reason for provoking them? They immediately withdrew from all agreements and began developing their nuclear program. Now we have what we have,” Putin said.

In early 2003, North Korea withdrew from the NPT before declaring it had nuclear weapons. The country conducted its first nuclear bomb test in 2006.

RELATED: Putin: North Koreans Remember What Happened to Iraq

Despite that, the two sides held their first-ever summit in 2007, when Kim Dae-Jung’s predecessor and fellow Sunshine Policy advocate Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il announced an October 4 agreement in which the two sides pledged to work together to reduce tensions and end military confrontations.

“North Korea should respect all existing agreements between the South and the North, and come forward to a path advancing peace on the Korean Peninsula,” a South Korean unification ministry official told reporters in comments marking the 10-year anniversary of the agreement.

The Russian president noted that he believes he doesn’t have the right to assess the policy of U.S. President Donald Trump toward the DPRK, but he urged all sides to tone down “belligerent” rhetoric and seek dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis.

In recent weeks, Trump has taken to Twitter to mock Kim Jong-Un as the “Little Rocket Man” and threaten war while Kim has responded by calling the U.S. leader a “dotard.” On Sunday, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency published a statement shredding Trump, “the old psychopath of America,” for having “twitted such rubbish” against the country.

“Whatever it is, this is not my business to determine and assess the policy of the president of the United States but publicly I can repeat, and I already spoke about this, all the sides should tone down their belligerent rhetoric and ways must be found for a direct dialogue between the United States and North Korea, between North Korea and the countries of the region,” Putin said.

Last month at the Far Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Putin raised the possibility of involving North Korea and South Korea in joint projects including the construction of new rail links and energy projects. Responding, South Korean President Moon Jae-In – a longtime advocate of reunification under a Sunshine Policy model – expressed his appreciation of Russia’s support for the cause of building “a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula and improved relations between the two Korean states.”

Earlier this week, a Russian internet service provider began routing North Korean internet traffic, giving Pyongyang a crucial second connection to the world wide web beside through a China-based company. Bilateral trade also more than doubled to $US31.4 million in the first quarter of 2017, due mainly to what Moscow said was higher oil product exports. Russia has also been accused of resisting U.S. pressure for it to repatriate tens of thousands of North Korean workers whose remittances are a lifeline for the East Asian country.

Concluding, Putin noted the possibility and necessity to seek a balanced solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue. Other policies, he added, are “dangerous and dead-end.”

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ISIS Mobile Groups Use US At-tanf Base for Raids Against Syrian Army

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ISIS Mobile Groups Use US At-tanf Base for Raids Against Syrian Army – Russian Ministry of Defense

U.S. forces use refugees living in the Rukban camp in southeast Syria as a human shield, the Russian Defense Ministry has said.

Rukban refugees are de facto hostages, effectively a ‘human shield’ for the US base. Think about it, other than by Americans such ‘protection’ barriers are used in Syria only by those who they came here to fight, the terrorists,” Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Friday.

Konashenkov added that 60,000 women and children who fled Raqqa and Deir Ezzor currently live in the camp. The spokesman also blamed the United  States for preventing humanitarian aid to the area from Syria, Jordan and the United Nations.

The Russian general added that the US base protected by the “human shield” has turned into a “black hole” on the Syrian-Jordanian border from which ISIS mobile groups conduct raids against Syrian government forces.

The Pentagon’s representatives have repeatedly stated that instructors from the US, the UK and Norway staying there under the cover of tactical aviation and multiple-launch rocket systems are training New Syrian Army militants. However, in actual fact, al-Tanf has turned into a 100-kilometer ‘black hole’ on the Syrian-Jordanian state border. Instead of the New Syrian Army, mobile ISIL [ISIS] groups, like a jack in the box, carry out sabotage and terrorist attacks against Syrian troops and civilians from there,” Konashenkov said.

The spokesman said that the illegal establishment of the base there was publicly justified “by the need to conduct operations against ISIL [ISIS].” However, no information have been received about any US-led operations against ISIS during the six months of the base existence.

Earlier this week, the Russian Defense Ministry said that 300 ISIS members that had seized the city of Al-Qaryatayn deep inside the government-held area came from the Rukban area.

Posted in USA, Russia, Syria0 Comments

Maduro tells Russia its time to ditch the Dollar and embrace the Rouble and Yuan

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Nicolas Maduro is in Moscow for Russian Energy Week along with many other heads of state from energy producing nations.

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela has spoken in Moscow as part of Russian Energy Week and proposed that key energy producers work to implement trading strategies which ditch the US dollar in favour of currencies including the Chinese Yuan and Russian Rouble.

Venezuela recently announced that it would begin trading its oil in Yuan and today, President Maduro said that his country seeks to expand the use of other global currencies, including the Russian Rouble.

As reported by RT, the Venezuelan President as suggested,

“Introducing alternative currency baskets, including the Yuan, Rouble, and other currencies will eliminate the impact of futures trading, according to the Venezuelan president”.

Maduro’s thinking is very much in line with the of other BRICS countries, including China and Russia who have begun engaging in bilateral trade using local currencies. Turkey and Russia reached a similar agreement earlier this year.

This comes hot on the heels of the recent BRICS summit in Xiamen where China  announced that it will begin issuing oil futures contracts in gold backed Yuan. Furthermore, the summit placed a heavy emphasis on developing new methods of trade including in local currencies, a new BRICS crypto-currency and perhaps most importantly in a BRICS currency basket.

A currency basket is a name commonly assigned to a value derived from the pooling of different traditional currencies. The most commonly used currency basket is something called Special Drawing Rights, a basket which pools the value of the US Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen and UK Pound.

As I previously reported,

“The US has previously taken drastic measures when foreign leaders decided to abandon the Dollar as a trading currency. In the year 2000, Iraq stopped trading its oil in the US Dollar, opting instead to trade in Euros, a move that a month prior to the US-UK illegal invasion of Iraq, was reported as having positive effects on the Iraqi economy.

Likewise, former Libyan Revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi’s plan to begin trading in what would have been a pan-African gold backed Dinar was exposed in declassified emails as being a source of anger for then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who later masterminded the NATO war which illegally overthrow the Libyan government.

In 2011, the same year that the US and its allies invaded Libya, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the then Managing Director of the IMF was arrested in New York on assault charges. The charges were later dropped but not before he was forced from his powerful position at the IMF while simultaneously ruining his chances to become the President of France. Prior to his arrest he was a favourite to win the Presidency.

Strauss-Kahn’s flagship policy at the IMF was favouring something called Special drawing rights (SDRs), a trading value based on the aggregate value of 4 or 5 major currencies. If countries began using SDRs as a main trading vehicle rather than relying exclusively on the US Dollar, this could have greatly damaged the prestige and international value of the Dollar.

Why was Strauss-Khan arrested in a move which destroyed his pro-SDR career and then later fully exonerated of wrongdoing? The trend in relation to Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi speaks for itself.

Many link the US led wars against Iraq and Libya as being proximately related to the two resource rich states moving away from Dollar dependency.

Unlike Libya and Iraq, Russia and China are nuclear superpowers. Even if the US wanted to overthrow the governments in Moscow and Beijing, any attempts to do this would almost certainly lead to a nuclear world war.

The US has therefore boxed itself into a corner. By leaving Russia, China and their trading partners, including NATO member Turkey with no better option than to begin moving away from the Dollar, the US may well have cooked its own golden, or in this case, green goose”.

When it comes to Venezuela, the government has nothing to lose and much to gain by working with international partners to help create new means of trading oil and other energy futures contracts. The US has already imposed multiple sanctions which means that Venezuela’s only realistic option is to more or less fully ditch the Dollar. Furthermore, Russia and China’s robust defence of Venezuela against Washington’s’ threats of military action and further sanctions, put Caracas in a position of having a kind of geo-political insurance policy that Iraq did not have in 2003 and likewise, Libya did not have in 2011.

As Russia, like Venezuela and Iran are all under US sanctions, all countries would be able to more freely exercise their prerogative in international trade via creating a new means or multiple means of exchange. In Moscow today, Venezuela’s President has made it clear that this is the future he sees for his country and his partners, including Russia and China.

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Bloomberg panics: “Putin has succeeded in making Russia a factor in the Middle East”

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Diplomat says: Russia a ‘nimble boxer’ vs musclebound U.S.

The Saudi king’s first visit brings another Middle East leader to Moscow, and the US deep state is in panic mode.

Of course Russia, China, and other nations, will be more than happy to work with Middle East partners under a framework of international law and mutual respect…something the US hegemony was unwilling to do.

Russia did not so much win the Middle East, as much as the US lost the Middle East, through a devastating mix of regime change, jihadist funding, and illegal invasions.

Via Bloomberg

The Israelis and Turks, the Egyptians and Jordanians — they’re all beating a path to the Kremlin in the hope that Vladimir Putin, the new master of the Middle East, can secure their interests and fix their problems.

The latest in line is Saudi King Salman, who on Wednesday is due to become the first monarch of the oil-rich kingdom to visit Moscow. At the top of his agenda will be reining in Iran, a close Russian ally seen as a deadly foe by most Gulf Arab states.

Until very recently, Washington stood alone as the go-to destination for such leaders. Right now, American power in the region is perceptibly in retreat — testimony to the success of Russia’s military intervention in Syria, which shored up President Bashar al-Assad after years of U.S. insistence that he must go.

“It changed the reality, the balance of power on the ground,” said Dennis Ross, who was America’s chief Mideast peace negotiator and advised several presidents from George H. W. Bush to Barack Obama. “Putin has succeeded in making Russia a factor in the Middle East. That’s why you see a constant stream of Middle Eastern visitors going to Moscow.”

Success brings its own problems. As conflicting demands pile up, it’s not easy to send all those visitors home satisfied. “The more you try to adopt a position of dealing with all sides, the more you find that it’s hard to play that game,’’ Ross said.

Moscow was a major power in the Middle East during the Cold War, arming Arab states against Israel. Its influence collapsed along with communism. When the U.S. invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, Russia was a bystander, unable to do more than protest.

The tables began to turn in 2013, when the U.S. under Obama decided not to attack Assad. Two years later, Putin sent troops and planes to defend him.

For the most part, America’s local allies were firmly in the Assad-must-go camp. They were disillusioned when U.S. military might wasn’t deployed to force him out.

Russia’s clout in the region has grown “because Obama allowed it to,’’ said Khaled Batarfi, a professor at Alfaisal University’s branch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “Unfortunately he withdrew to a great extent from the Middle East.’’

That view is widespread. It was bluntly expressed last month by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spent years urging American action against Assad. Talks with the U.S. “couldn’t get any results,’’ he said.

Turkey has now joined Russia and Iran in a plan to de-escalate the conflict. It’s “achieving a result,’’ Erdogan said. Two years ago, tensions between Putin and Erdogan had threatened to boil over, after the Turkish military shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian border. Last Friday, the Russian president flew to Ankara for dinner with his Turkish counterpart and “friend,’’ who’s agreed to buy Russian S-400 air defense missile systems, riling fellow NATO members.

Meanwhile the Saudis, who had financed rebels fighting against Assad, are cooperating with Russia in coaxing the opposition to unite for peace talks – which will likely cement the Syrian leader in power.

America’s Middle East allies mostly welcomed the change of U.S. president, and Donald Trump’s tough talk about challenging Iran. So far, though, he’s stuck close to his predecessor’s policy in Syria, concentrating on fighting Islamic State not Assad.

So, as the goal of regime-change in Syria recedes, priorities have shifted. The Saudis and other Arab Gulf powers are urging Russia to reduce Iran’s role in Syria, where Hezbollah and other Shiite militias supported by Tehran have provided shock troops for Assad’s offensive.

“Russia is better off not to be on one side of it. That’s the key message,’’ said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a U.A.E.-based political analyst. “Here is the king, representing Arab Gulf countries, representing a lot of geopolitical weight, coming to Russia. And Russia has to take that into consideration.’’

But Putin won’t shift his stance on Iran to accommodate Saudi wishes, according to a person close to the Kremlin.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has visited Russia four times in the past 18 months, has also found it hard to sway the Russian leader.

In August, Netanyahu told Putin that Iran’s growing foothold in Syria is “unacceptable.’’ In September he told CNN that the Iranians are trying to “colonize’’ Syria with the aim of “destroying us and conquering the Middle East.’’

Russia, though, refused his demand for a buffer zone inside Syria that would keep the forces of Iran and Hezbollah at least 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Israeli border, a person familiar with the matter in Moscow said. Instead, Russia offered a 5-kilometer exclusion zone, the person said.

Russia also rejected a U.S. demand to make the Euphrates river a dividing line between Syrian government troops and U.S.-supported forces in eastern Syria. This has led to a race to capture territory from retreating Islamic State fighters in a strategic and oil-rich border region.

Yet Russia has succeeded in keeping open channels of communication to all sides, from Iran to Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian radical Islamist group Hamas to Israel, said Ayham Kamel, Middle East and North Africa director at Eurasia Group.

While Russia didn’t give way on the buffer zone, it has a tacit understanding that permits Israel to carry out airstrikes against Hezbollah in Syria, said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research group set up by the Kremlin.

It’s been mediating, along with Egypt, to end the decade-old inter-Palestinian rift between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. Putin invited rival Libyan factions to Moscow, after a series of peace efforts by other countries came to nothing. Russia has become a leading investor in oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan, and was one of the few world powers to refrain from condemning its recent vote on independence.

In economic terms, the contest for influence looks like an unequal one – America’s GDP is 13 times Russia’s. That’s not always the decisive factor, said Alexander Zotov, Moscow’s ambassador to Syria from 1989 to 1994.

“Sometimes you have two boxers coming out to the ring, one is huge with bulging muscles and the other is smaller but nimble, and has a better technique,’’ he said.

While economics are a limiting factor for Russia, Putin also enjoys several advantages over American presidents, according to Paul Salem, vice president of the Middle East Institute in Washington. He has no Congress to worry about, and no elections that he risks losing. Putin has been around for almost two decades, a long time in geopolitics, with “very consistent leadership, a consistent message,” Salem said. “He says what he does, he does what he says.”

Russia’s rise came as U.S. policy makers grew preoccupied with Asia, and the American public tired of Middle East wars – something both Obama and Trump acknowledged.

“Washington remains the indispensable power in the region,’’ said Eurasia’s Kamel. But its commitment to traditional alliances is weakening, he said, and that’s encouraged regional leaders to hedge their bets. “The Kremlin is on everyone’s mind.’’

Posted in Middle East, Russia0 Comments

Russia Effectively Smashing US-Supported Terrorists in Syria

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Russia’s military intervention in Syria at the request of its government began two years ago today – September 30.

It dramatically changed the dynamic on the ground, turning sure defeat into eventual triumph. 

Thousands of square miles of Syrian territory were liberated from the scourge of US-supported terrorists, defeating Washington’s imperial aims, wanting regime change, the country transformed into another vassal state.

Tass reviewed Russian operations over the past two years, saying “victory over terrorism is near.” Its efforts transformed armed opposition conflicting groups into “a common front in the struggle against terrorists.”

What began two years ago today “is entering its final phase,” Russian air power enabling Syrian and allied forces to regain control over “85% of the country’s territory,” a remarkable turnaround from conditions before Moscow’s involvement.

Washington didn’t expect it, intending to eliminate Assad the way it ruthlessly killed Saddam Husseinand Muammar Gaddafi.

Things didn’t go as planned. Russia foiled US objectives, achieving them highly unlikely, a significant body blow to its regional aims, a step closer to defeating them worldwide.

In Syria, Aleppo was liberated late last year, the country’s pre-war commercial hub. Historic Palmyra was freed twice, hopefully for good after the second time.

The campaign to liberate Zeir Ezzor province entirely from US-supported terrorists continues, ISIS’ last stronghold in the country. Its three-year-long siege of the city was broken, security sweeps underway to eliminate its remnants in residential and other areas.

“Official forecasts regarding the chances of a successful completion of the anti-terrorist operation sound ever more optimistic,” said Tass.

Ahead of the Deir Ezzor campaign, Akerbat was liberated,

“a major transport hub and command center (and stronghold) of the terrorists in the east of Hama province,” Tass explained.

“With the loss of the city the terrorists were no longer able to regroup forces, receive ammunition and supplies, while the Syrian government army gained access to Deir Ezzor.”

During 24 months of combat, 38 Russian military personnel perished, including General Valery Asapov, the coordinates of his location almost certainly provided ISIS by US forces. Washington bears responsibility for his death.

Russian and American objectives in Syria are world’s apart – Moscow combating terrorism, Washington supporting it. Bilateral relations are dismal on virtually everything except cooperation in non-military space activities.

Astana peace talks spearheaded by Russia continue making progress – without significant breakthroughs so far because Washington wants endless war and regime change, waging a losing battle, pursuing it anyway.

According to Russia’s reconciliation center, 2,200 localities joined the ceasefire agreement. More than 230 armed groups agreed to observe it.

Reconstruction in some areas began, restoring power, water and other essential infrastructure a vital first step, along with supplying humanitarian aid – Russia, Iran and Damascus alone providing it.

Nothing from America. Nothing from the EU. Nothing from regional Arab countries. Nothing from Israel, of course. Woefully inadequate UN help, Syrians on their own, dependent on their government and allies.

Moscow remains firmly committed to Syrian sovereign independence, its territorial integrity, and right of its people alone to choose their leadership, free from foreign interference.

“Both Russian and Syrian military commanders stress the intention to push ahead with the operation until the elimination of the last terrorist” nationwide, said Tass.

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Destruction of Last Chemical Munition in Russia Is ‘Historic Event’ – Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the destruction of the last chemical munitions in the country a “historic event.”

 

The last kilogram of Russia’s 40,000-tonne stockpile of chemical warfare agents, which was contained in two artillery shells, was destroyed on Wednesday at the Kizner facility in Udmurtia.

Attending the event via video link, Putin said that it is “a huge step towards” a more balanced and secure world, stressing that Russia had held the largest chemical stockpiles in the world. Putin also said Russia was working closely with partners to save mankind from the threat of the use and spread of chemical weapons.

“In this regard, I would like to recall the key role of our country in solving the problem of chemical weapons in Syria,” he said.

The president pointed out that Moscow is fulfilling all of its obligations under the non-proliferation treaties and expects that other countries, including the United States, will follow in Russia’s footsteps.

“As is known, Russia was the largest holder and possessor of chemical weapons, and so far the United States, which unfortunately does not fulfill its obligations on the timing of the destruction of chemical weapons, has already three times postponed the destruction on the pretext of lack of funds, which sounds very strange,” he pointed out.

The elimination of chemical materials was conducted under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an arms control treaty that prohibits the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. The treaty, which came into force in 1997, has been signed by 192 states as of April 2016.

Russia joined the CWC in 1997 and was initially expected to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles by December 31, 2018.

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Expanding Horizons Key to BRICS’ Second Golden Decade

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Unseen in the West, the BRICS summit in Xianmen marks a new step in the development of this international institution. Zhao Minghao reports the three main objectives of the summit and the concept of “BRICS Plus”.

The first BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting was convened in September 2006, which marked the foundation of the BRICS mechanism. In the 10 years since then, BRICS has become an important international economic bloc representing some of the world’s key emerging economies and developing countries.

In that time, BRICS member states have increased their share in the global economy from 12 percent to 23 percent, their trade has grown from 11 percent to 16 percent, and investment has increased from 7 percent to 12 percent. Most importantly, the contribution made by BRICS economies to global economic growth now stands at more than 50 percent.

With the Trump administration’s “America First” policy in play, the global economy now faces the major risk of declining multilateralism. If both developed and emerging economies continue to turn more inward-looking and back away from coordinating their macro-economic policies, the flickering flame of global economic recovery could be snuffed out.

In recent months, many economists including Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde have stated that the global economy is finally showing positive momentum 10 years after the financial crisis. The US, Europe and Japan have witnessed steady growth and Russia, Brazil and South Africa have reportedly improved economic figures as well. China and India, meanwhile, have maintained medium to high economic growth rates.

The BRICS Xiamen Summit aims to usher in the second golden decade of the mechanism.

First, BRICS nations aim to set down new measures to boost trade in services, investment and e-commerce. In 2015, export of BRICS members’ trade in services reached about $540 billion, a mere 11.3 percent of the world’s total. With the middle classes expanding in BRICS countries, there is plenty of opportunity for cooperation in healthcare, tourism, education and other sectors.

In addition to this, BRICS countries have been committed to implementing schemes to facilitate investment, including measures to improve efficiency in the administrative approval process and the openness of industries. The BRICS E-commerce Working Group was established in August to help develop small- and medium-sized e-commerce enterprises into the new driving force behind the bloc’s future economic and trade cooperation.

Second, BRICS nations are looking to proactively promote the improvement of global governance. Apart from reform of existing international mechanisms such as the UN Security Council and the IMF, BRICS countries have already established cooperation mechanisms in anti-terrorism, space, cyber security, and energy security. As major energy exporters and consumers, BRICS countries will also deepen cooperation in increasing strategic energy reserves, developing renewable energy and enhancing energy efficiency.

Third, BRICS member nations are looking to enhance cooperation on national and regional security hotspots. During the seventh Meeting of High Representatives for Security Issues in July, it was agreed that deeper political and security cooperation would be the key to strengthening the BRICS mechanism. The political situation in the Middle East and North Africa was the main focus of attention, while issues relating to Afghanistan were made on several occasions in the joint declaration [1].

Most importantly, the Xiamen Summit put forward the concept of “BRICS Plus.” This places the focus on BRICS member countries to deepen relations with other developing countries to support and safeguard their interests, with the ultimate goal of expanding its international influence. Talks between BRICS and African state leaders were arranged during the 2013 BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa, while India invited leaders of countries that border the Bay of Bengal to the Goa Summit last year. This year, leaders of countries such as Mexico, Egypt and Tajikistan are attending the Xiamen Summit as part of the BRICS Plus initiative.

There is no doubt that BRICS cooperation is not without its challenges. China, Russia and India need to better manage the negative impact of geopolitical factors between their countries, and help build a stronger collective identity for the economic bloc. BRICS also needs to focus on turning cooperation documents into real actions instead of dwelling on empty talk.

It is estimated that by 2021, the BRICS New Development Bank will have made $32 billion in loans. The bank’s African office also started operations in South Africa in August.

It is clear that such international mechanisms under the BRICS framework need to play a more complimentary role in global governance to a much greater extent in the future than they do now.

This article was originally published by Global Times (China).

Note

[1] BRICS Leaders Xiamen DeclarationVoltaire Network, 4 September 2017.

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Economic Sanctions Against Russia Flop. They Hit the EU Much More than Russia

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According to The First Comprehensive Study of Anti-Russia Sanctions

Did U.S. President Barack Obama create the anti-Russia sanctions in order to weaken the EU in its competition against America? If so, the policy has been a huge success — it has enormously damaged the EU’s economy. But, if Russia was the actual target — as Obama claimed — then it’s been a total flop: It has produced $100 billion loss to the EU, thus far — almost twice as much as the $55 billion total hit to Russia, and the hit to Russia might be even less than that, maybe even zero, because the harms to Russia included the harms from the plunging oil-prices, which weren’t at all due to the sanctions. Furthermore, the sanctions strongly helped Russia’s economy, in ways that don’t yet show up in the economic data but that constitute long-delayed reforms whose pay-offs will start only during the years to come. Washington’s economic sanctions against Russia could thus end up producing a net plus for Russia, on a long-term basis.

The deal that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry culminated with King Saud on 11 September 2014 (after his having started those negotiations on 27 June 2014) to flood the market with oil to bring the oil price down and so harm Russia, which is a giant oil&gas-exporter, has hit Russia very hard, costing the Russian economy perhaps all of the $55 billion hit to Russia’s economy, measured thus far.

These figures come from the first-ever comprehensive study of the effects of the sanctions, a study which also estimates the negative effects upon human rights (this Special Reporteur’s chief mandate), but the cost-figures cited here, are entirely economic, not about “rights” at all (which are separately dealt with in the same report). 

The study was issued, on September 13th, by the staff of Algeria’s, Idriss Jazairy, who is the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of the Unilateral Coercive Measures. His mandate recognizes economic sanctions as being pre-invasion acts of war, and so as being threats to world peace, an up-ramp toward physical warfare. Mr. Jazairy has Masters degrees from both Oxford and Harvard, and is personally grounded in a democratic national legal tradition: Algeria’s Constitution explicitly is democratic: Its Article 6 is titled “Popular Sovereignty” and unambiguously states, in its Sovereignty Clause, which is the most important clause in any nation’s Constitution: “(1) The People are the source of any power. (2) The national sovereignty belongs exclusively to the People.”

However, the findings by Jazairy’s team have nonetheless produced criticisms against him and his team (not against the methodology or the economic statistics upon which the study was based) by neoconservatives such as Israel’s “U.N. Watch.” The U.S. Government’s “Radio Free Europe,” then cited “U.N. Watch” as an authority against “Russia’s state-controlled Sputnik news agency” for Sputnik’s having reported the findings. U.S. (and its allies’) ‘news’media had been silent about the findings, until Jazairy issued a response on September 15th to those neoconservatives’ objections, by headlining “UN Special Rapporteur rejects accusations of Russian influence on sanctions findings”.

At the time of the report’s release, on September 13th, there were only two news-reports about it, both from Russia: one on Sputnik radio, and another (the only report that was accessible to Western audiences), which appeared at rt-dot-com, which headlined “Anti-Russian sanctions cost Europe $100bn – UN Special Rapporteur”. Other than that news-story at RT, there was no coverage of this U.N. report, at all, in the West. 

It should be noted that the U.N.’s own press-operation does everything possible to block the public from having access to the U.N’s reports, so that even when Mr. Jazairy’s office issued that press-release responding to the neoconservatives’ criticisms, and he wrote there “I stand ready to address any questions regarding the legal or factual findings in my report,” that crucial link was to something inaccessible, instead of to the publicly accessible online link to his report.

Until the present moment, there has been no press-report anywhere that links to the publicly accessible web-page, or that quotes more than just a few words from Jazairy’s report; and, so, here that is — the core of his team’s findings (and boldfacing the passages that I consider to be the most important, so that the boldfaced parts constitute a summary of the study’s findings):

http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/59ba95824.pdf

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/225/95/PDF/G1722595.pdf?OpenElement

Human Rights Council

Thirty-sixth session

11-29 September 2017

Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, on his mission to the Russian Federation … 

49. Most of the cases of unilateral coercive measures investigated by the Special Rapporteur since the mandate was created have involved measures imposed on developing countries. This is the first time that the mandate has addressed unilateral coercive measures targeting such a powerful and strategically important player of the international community. The high level of integration of the Russian Federation in the global economy and the capacity of its economy to react immediately to a changing reality makes this a truly unique case. …

Impact of measures taken

51. Application of the unilateral coercive measures began at the start of 2014, a time when the price of oil fell substantially. Thus, two shocks occurred simultaneously: the “oil shock” and the “sanctions shock”. In view of the complexity of the mix of those causes, it is difficult to determine the discrete impact of the sanctions shock. According to some unofficial estimates provided to the Special Rapporteur in Moscow, they may have caused at most an average reduction of 1 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Russian Federation between 2014 and 2016. It remains that the main adverse impact of the reversal of economic fortunes was attributable to the drop in oil prices.

52. The following evolution of general living standards has been observed on the basis of the data provided by the Federal State Statistics Service; part of the evolution can clearly be ascribed to the “sanctions shock”, though it is impossible to quantify precisely to what extent:

(a) The trend of overall personal income of the population, which had been increasing at a rate of 4.6 per cent in 2012 and 4 per cent in 2013, was reversed thereafter, falling successively by 0.7, 3.2 and 5.9 per cent for the following years up to and including the first quarter of 2016;

(b) The number of people living below the poverty line (defined to be 10,000 roubles), which had been falling since 1992 with very few exceptions, rose from 15.5 million in 2013 to 19.8 million in 2016, or 13.5 per cent of the total population;

(c) Of those living under the poverty line, some of the most vulnerable population groups — the 7-16 age group, women of working age and pensioners — were reported to have been most affected.

53. In terms of macroeconomic analysis, the combined impact of the two shocks reduced growth from 1.3 per cent in 2013 to 0.7 per cent in 2014 and to – 2.8 per cent in 2015. As a result of adaptation to the post-shock situation, there was a turnaround in economic activity already in the first quarter of 2016, with a negative growth rate of – 0.02 per cent, despite the fact that oil prices remained low. That rate moved back into positive territory in 2017 without any lifting of unilateral coercive measures. Over the past 12 months, the rouble appreciated by 15 per cent against the dollar. This is evidence of a successful adjustment. …

54. While the unemployment rate overall remained around 5.5 to 5.6 per cent, small and medium-sized enterprises lost over 15 per cent of their employees over that period and were incited to reduce investment by the climate of unpredictability resulting from the sanctions.

55. The reasons why the impact of economic sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights was not more severe in the country seem related to the following facts:

(a) The Government applied very effectively a counter-cyclical policy by letting the rouble float and by increasing the share of the State sector to substitute for the sanction-imposed ban on foreign funding for the corporate sector beyond 30 days, by reducing considerably the rate of inflation through conservative management of the economy and by ex-post compensation of inflation losses incurred by pensioners;

(b) The economy demonstrated great resilience and a capacity to adapt to new circumstances through Government-assisted restructuring to promote local funding of projects formerly funded by external sources;

(c) The diversification of the economy away from oil was given new impetus;

(d) Emphasis on research was increased, returning to an earlier stage when, in many sectors, including space technology, the Russian Federation was at the forefront (it should be noted that, according to Russian officials, cooperation with the United States in advanced space technology was maintained, including for the supply of engines for spacecraft, despite the ban on the export of advanced drilling technology by the United States); this enabled the Russian Federation to enhance its oil production in the Arctic by developing its own capacities for horizontal drilling and its production of shale oil, for which it had previously relied on foreign partners;

(e) Effective import substitution technologies were put in place, in particular in agriculture, to dispense with imports from the European Union that were the subject of retaliatory measures;

(f) A policy was quickly introduced to pivot towards other partners in Asia and other regions.

56. As in many other countries targeted by sanctions, there was a “rally around the flag” reaction, which led the population to accept the inconveniences caused by the unilateral coercive measures. …

64. The rough estimate of the adverse impact of the sanctions on the Russian Federation, if disentangled from the oil shock, is an average loss of 1 per cent of GDP. That seems to be a reasonable figure since, after “digesting” the oil shock, the difference between actual and potential GDP for 2017 is of about 0.80 per cent according to the International Monetary Fund.24 That output gap would amount to a direct loss therefore of some $15 billion per annum for the Russian Federation or a total of $55 billion so far.

65. The resulting overall income loss of $155 billion is shared by source and target countries. Although both source and target countries can internalize those losses, it is not clear that any partner is cowed by them or indeed that any rights holder, least of all European smallholder farmers, benefits from them. Meanwhile, business opportunities are forgone, curtailing the right to development of trading partners. Even if direct losses to the Russian Federation from unilateral coercive measures were twice as high as provided in the above estimate, source countries are having to suffer equally or more from the sanctions than the country they target. They may also be more vulnerable as, unlike the Russian Federation, they do not all have a consistent international trade surplus or such high foreign exchange reserves, which, in the case of the Russian Federation, remained consistently above $300 billion since sanctions were applied.25 So, while the sanctions were more political than economic, they have led in the process to a regrettable deterioration of the standard of living of the most vulnerable population groups in the Russian Federation and have also adversely affected smallholder farmers in Europe.

Posted in USA, Russia0 Comments

Washington Post Pushes More Dubious Russia-bashing

NOVANEWS
Image result for Washington Post POST CARTOON
By Robert Parry | Consortium News 

Some people are calling the anti-Russian hysteria being whipped up across the U.S. mainstream news media a new “golden age of American journalism,” although it looks to me more like a new age of yellow journalism, prepping the people for more military spending, more “information warfare” and more actual war.

Yes, without doubt, President Trump is a boorish and dangerous demagogue, now highlighted by his reckless speech before the United Nations last week, his schoolyard Tweet taunts toward North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and his ugly denunciation of black athletes for protesting against police killings of often unarmed African-Americans.

And, yes, I know that some people feel that the evidence-lite and/or false allegations about “Russian meddling” are the golden ticket to Trump’s impeachment. But the unprofessional behavior of The New York TimesThe Washington Post and pretty much the entire mainstream media regarding Russia-gate cannot be properly justified by the goal of removing Trump from office.

Ethically in journalism, the ends – however much you might wish them to succeed – cannot justify the means, if those means involve violating rules of evidence and principles of fairness. Journalism should be a place where all sides get a fair shake, not where some get a bum’s rush.

But the U.S. mainstream media has clearly joined the anti-Trump Resistance and hates Russian President Vladimir Putin, too. So, we are given such travesties of journalism as appeared as a banner headline across the front page of Monday’s Washington Post, another screed about how Russia supposedly used Facebook ads to flip last November’s election for Trump.

The article purports to give the inside story of how Facebook belatedly came to grips with how the “company’s social network played a key role in the U.S. election,” but actually it is a story about how powerful politicians bullied Facebook into coming up with something – anything – to support the narrative of “Russian meddling,” including direct interventions by President Obama and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a key legislator regarding regulation of high-tech industries.

Finding the ‘Evidence’

In other words, Facebook was sent back again and again to find what Obama and Warner wanted the social media company to find. Eventually, Facebook turned up $100,000 in ads from 2015 into 2017 that supposedly were traced somehow to Russia. These ads apparently addressed political issues in America although Facebook has said most did not pertain directly to the presidential election and some ads were purchased after the election.

Left out of the Post’s latest opus is what a very small pebble these ads were – even assuming that Russians did toss the $100,000 or so in ad buys into the very large lake of billions of dollars in U.S. political spending for the 2016 election cycle. It also amounts to a miniscule fraction of Facebook’s $27 billion in annual revenue.

So the assertion that this alleged “meddling” – and we’ve yet to see any evidence connecting these ads to the Russian government – “played a key role in the U.S. election” is both silly and outrageous, especially given the risks involved in stoking animosities between nuclear-armed Russia and nuclear-armed America.

Even the Post’s alarmist article briefly acknowledges that it is still unclear who bought the ads, referring to the purchasers as “suspected Russian operatives.” In other words, we don’t even know that the $100,000 in ads over three years came from Russians seeking to influence the U.S. election. (By comparison, many Facebook advertisers – even some small businesses – spend $100,000 per day on their ads, not $100,000 over three years.)

But this diminutive effort by “suspected Russian operatives” doesn’t stop the Post from going on and on about “fake news” and “disinformation,” albeit again without offering evidence or specifics of any Russian “fake news” or “disinformation.”

It has simply become Official Washington’s new groupthink to say that everything linked to Russia or its international TV network RT is “fake news” or “disinformation” even though examples are lacking or often turn out to be false accusations themselves.

For instance, there is nothing in the Post’s article acknowledging that nothing from the various Democratic email disclosures, which have been blamed on Russia (again without real evidence), has been identified as untrue. So, how can truthful information, whether you like how it was obtained or not, be “fake news” or “disinformation”?

Falsehood as Fact

But Monday’s Post exposé simply asserts the claim as flat fact. Or as the article asserts: “what Russian operatives posted on Facebook was, for the most part, indistinguishable from legitimate political speech. The difference was the accounts that were set up to spread the misinformation and hate were illegitimate.”

In responsible journalism, such an accusation would be followed by a for-instance, giving an example of “the misinformation and hate” that the “Russian operatives” – note how they have been magically transformed from “suspected Russian operatives” to simply “Russian operatives” – were disseminating.

But there is no example of the Russian “misinformation and hate,” a classic violation of the reporting principle of “show, don’t tell.” In this story, it’s all tell and no show.

Indeed, what is shown in the article is often contradictory to the story’s conclusion. The article says, for instance, “A review by the company found that most of the groups behind the problematic pages had clear financial motives, which suggested that they weren’t working for a foreign government. But amid the mass of data the company was analyzing, the security team did not find clear evidence of Russian disinformation or ad purchases by Russian-linked accounts.”

So, Facebook initially – after extensive searching – did not find evidence of a Russian operation. Then, after continued pressure from high-level Democrats, Facebook continued to scour its system and again found nothing, or as the Post article acknowledged, Facebook “had searched extensively for evidence of foreign purchases of political advertising but had come up short.”

That prompted Warner to fly out to Silicon Valley to personally press Facebook executives to come up with the evidence to support the Democrats’ theory about Russia paying for carefully targeted anti-Clinton ads in key districts.

The Post’s article reported that “Finally, [Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex] Stamos appealed to Warner for help: If U.S. intelligence agencies had any information about the Russian operation or the troll farms it used to disseminate misinformation, they should share it with Facebook. The company is still waiting, people involved in the matter said.”

Under Pressure

Still, faced with extraordinary pressure from senior Democrats, Facebook finally delivered the desired results, or as the Post reported, “By early August, Facebook had identified more than 3,000 ads addressing social and political issues that ran in the United States between 2015 and 2017 and that appear to have come from accounts associated with the [St. Petersburg, Russia-based] Internet Research Agency.”

So, the ads covering three years, including post-election 2017, only “appear” to be “associated” with some private Russian operation that only allegedly has ties to the Kremlin. And the total sums of the ad buys are infinitesimal compared to what it actually takes to have any real impact on Facebook or in a U.S. presidential election.

If the context of this story were changed slightly – say, it was about the U.S. government trying to influence public opinion in another country (which actually does happen quite a bit) – the Post would be among the first news outlets to laugh off such allegations or dismiss the vague accusations as a conspiracy theory, but since these allegations fit with the prejudices of the Post’s editors, an entirely different set of journalistic standards is applied.

What the article also ignores is the extraordinary degree of coercion that such high-level political pressure can put on a company that recognizes its vulnerability to government regulation.

As Facebook has acknowledged in corporate filings, “Action by governments to restrict access to Facebook in their countries could substantially harm our business and financial results. It is possible that governments of one or more countries may seek to censor content available on Facebook in their country, restrict access to Facebook from their country entirely, or impose other restrictions that may affect the accessibility of Facebook in their country for an extended period of time or indefinitely. …

“In the event that access to Facebook is restricted, in whole or in part, in one or more countries or our competitors are able to successfully penetrate geographic markets that we cannot access, our ability to retain or increase our user base and user engagement may be adversely affected, we may not be able to maintain or grow our revenue as anticipated, and our financial results could be adversely affected.”

Avoiding Reality

In other words, another way to have framed this story is that powerful politicians who could severely harm Facebook’s business model were getting in the face of Facebook executives and essentially demanding that they come up with something to support the Democratic Party’s theory of “Russian meddling.”

The Democratic leaders wanted this finding as an explanation for Hillary Clinton’s stunning defeat, rather than going through the painful process of examining why the party has steadily lost ground in white working-class areas across the country.

What is missed in these Russia-bashing articles is that the Democratic brand has been sinking for years, including massive losses in statehouses across the country as well as in Congress. The party’s decline was not a one-off event with Donald Trump suddenly snaking away with significant parts of the white working class because the Russians bought some Facebook ads.

However, instead of looking in the mirror, national Democrats demanded that Facebook executives ferret out whatever tiny or imaginary information there might be about some Russians buying Facebook ads – and then allow those coerced findings to be fed into the excuse industry for why Hillary Clinton lost.

And, what about the Post’s repeated accusations about Russia engaging in “disinformation” and “fake news” without offering a single example? Apparently, these assertions have become such articles of faith in the U.S. mainstream media that they don’t require any proof.

However, honest journalism demands examples and evidence, not just vague accusations. The reality is that the U.S. government has stumbled again and again when seeking to paint RT as a disinformation outlet or a vehicle for undermining American democracy.

For instance, the Jan. 6 report on alleged Russian “cyber operations,” released by Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, included a lengthy appendix, dated from 2012, which decried RT for such offenses as allowing a debate among third-party presidential candidates who had been excluded from the Republican-Democratic debates; covering the Occupy Wall Street protests; and citing the environmental dangers from “fracking.”

The idea that American democracy is threatened by allowing third-party candidates or other American dissidents to have a voice is at best an upside-down understanding of democracy and, more likely, an exercise in hypocritical propaganda.

False Accusations

Another misfired attempt to discredit RT came from Obama’s Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel, who issued a Dipnote in April 2014, which helped establish the narrative of RT as a source of Russian disinformation.

For instance, Stengel claimed that RT reported a “ludicrous assertion” that the United States had spent $5 billion to produce Ukraine’s “regime change” in February 2014.

But what Stengel, a former managing editor of Time magazine, apparently failed to understand was that RT was referring to a public speech by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland to U.S. and Ukrainian business leaders on Dec. 13, 2013, in which she told them that “we have invested more than $5 billion” in what was needed for Ukraine to achieve its “European aspirations.” In other words, the RT report wasn’t “ludicrous” at all.

Nuland also was a leading proponent of “regime change” in Ukraine who personally cheered on the Maidan demonstrators, even passing out cookies. In an intercepted pre-coup phone call with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Nuland discussed who should run the new government and pondered with Pyatt how to “glue” or “midwife this thing.”

So, Stengel was the one disseminating false information, not RT.

Similarly, senior U.S. politicians, including Hillary Clinton, and the U.S. mainstream media have falsely asserted that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies signed off on the Russia-did-it hacking claims.

For months, that canard was used to silence skepticism. After all, how could you question something that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed to be true?

But it turned out that – as DNI Clapper, himself a hardline Russia-basher, belatedly acknowledged – the Jan. 6 report on the alleged Russian hacking was the work of “hand-picked” analysts from only three agencies, the CIA, FBI and NSA, and the “assessment” itself admitted that it was not asserting the Russian conclusion as fact, only the analysts’ opinion.

The New York Times finally retracted its use of the fake claim about “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” in late June 2017 although it wouldn’t let the lie lie, so instead the Times made misleading references to a “consensus” among U.S. intelligence agencies without using the number.

Recent studies by former U.S. intelligence experts have punched more holes in the certainty by raising doubts that the email downloads could have been accomplished over the Internet at the recorded speeds and more likely were achieved by an insider downloading onto a thumb drive.

Deciding What’s Real

So who is guilty of “fake news” and “disinformation”?

One positive from the current PBS series, “The Vietnam War,” is that despite its bend-over-backwards attempts to make excuses for the “good faith” decisions by U.S. politicians, no one can watch the series without encountering the chasm between the upbeat Official Story being peddled by the U.S. government and the ghastly on-the-ground reality.

Yet, given how little accountability was meted out then for journalists who served as conveyor belts for pro-war propaganda in Vietnam – or more recently over the fraudulent reporting that rationalized the U.S. aggressive war against Iraq – it is perhaps not surprising that similar false group thinks would coalesce around Russia now.

Careerist journalists understand that there is no danger in running with the pack – indeed, there is safety in numbers – but there are extraordinary risks to your career if you challenge the conventional wisdom even if you turn out to be right. As one establishment journalist once told me, “there’s no honor in being right too soon.”

So, for the Post reporters responsible for the latest journalistic violation of standards – Adam Entous, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg – there will be no penalty for the offense of telling about Russia’s alleged “disinformation” and “fake news” – rather than showing, i.e., providing actual examples. When it comes to Russia these days – as with the Vietcong in the 1960s or Iraq in 2002-03 – you can pretty much write whatever you want. All journalistic standards are gone.

Yet, what is perhaps most insidious about what we are seeing is that – in the name of defending democracy – the U.S. mainstream media is trampling a chief principle of the Enlightenment, the belief that the marketplace of ideas is the best way to determine the truth and to create an informed populace.

The new U.S. mainstream media paradigm is that only establishment-approved views can be expressed; everything else must be suppressed, purged and punished.

For instance, if you question the State Department’s narrative on alleged Syrian government sarin attacks – by noting contrary evidence that points to staged incidents by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate – you are called an “apologist” for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

If you question the one-sided State Department narrative regarding the Ukraine coup in 2014 – indeed even if you use the word “coup” – you are denounced as a “Kremlin stooge.”

No ‘Other’ Side

It is now not okay to even consider the other side of these stories, just as it was anathema to suggest that Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government may have been telling the truth in 2002-03 when it declared repeatedly that it had destroyed its WMDs. That made you a “Saddam apologist.”

The hostility toward Americans who dare question the current anti-Russian hysteria was highlighted by an article last Thanksgiving Day by one of the authors of the new Post article, Craig Timberg.

In another front-page Post story, Timberg allowed an anonymous group called PropOr Not to malign the professionalism and patriotism of 200 Web sites, including our own Consortiumnews, that were lumped together in a McCarthyistic smear that they were somehow guilty of disseminating “Russian propaganda.”

The unnamed accusers – granted anonymity by the Post – acknowledged that they had no evidence that the sites were part of some grand Russian conspiracy but made the judgment based on PropOrNot’s analysis of the Web sites’ content.

In other words, if you questioned the State Department’s narratives on Ukraine or Syria – regardless of how well-supported those critiques were – you got smeared as a “Russian propagandist” – and the Post, which didn’t even bother to contact the accused, considered that sort of analysis to be worthy of its front page.

The story fed into another frenzy about the need to use algorithms and artificial intelligence to hunt down and suppress or purge such dissenting views from the Internet, supposedly to protect the sanctity of American democracy and spare Americans from exposure to “fake news.”

So, well-meaning Americans who may hope that Russia-gate will somehow bring down Trump are getting recruited into a movement that intends to silence dissent and allow the U.S. establishment to dictate what information you will get to see and hear.

And that officially approved “information” will surely lead to new global tensions, more military spending. and additional warfare up to and possibly including nuclear war with Russia.

Posted in USA, Russia0 Comments

Syria – Russia Accusing U.S. of Attacks, Abduction Attempts, Team-play with Al-Qaeda

NOVANEWS

The situation in Syria is reaching another critical point. There is an increased possibility of a large scale clash between U.S. and Russian forces. We had warned of such a clash over control of the rich fields east of Deir Ezzor. At least three incidents over the last days point to more significant escalations.

  • On the 17th the U.S. accused Russia of a light air attack on its proxy forces north of Deir Ezzor. Russia denied that it had attacked those forces.
  • On the 18th and 19th large contingents of Russian and Syrian troops crossed the Euphrates at Deir Ezzor in east-Syria. The U.S. Kurdish/Arab proxy force in the area actively tried to hinder that movement.
  • In parallel a large al-Qaeda attack was launched in west-Syria. The Russian forces accuse U.S. intelligence services of having initiated that campaign. (The Syrian-Russian forces defeated the attack.)
  • Today the Russian military accused the U.S. Kurdish proxies near Deir Ezzor of firing artillery on its forces. It threatened massive retaliation.

The most dramatic incident was the al-Qaeda attack in Idleb.

Al-Qaeda in Syria, renamed to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, currently controls Idleb governate and Idleb city in north-west Syria. On September 19 it launched a large scale attack on Syrian government positions in north Hama, south of Idleb provinces. The al-Qaeda forces gained significant grounds before being stopped and forced to retreat. Nearly all the heavy weapons, tanks and artillery, that al-Qaeda had in the area were used and in the attack.

The spokesperson of the Russian military said (vid with English subtitles) that, according to Russian intelligence reports, al-Qaeda’s attack was made on behalf of the U.S. to slow down the Syrian-Russian campaign in the eastern province Deir Ezzor. A subtask for the terrorists was to capture a platoon of Russian soldiers. This is, to my knowledge, the first time that Russia made such a direct and extremely grave accusation against the U.S. forces and intelligence services in Syria.

From the Russian military statement:

For 24 hours, insurgents managed to dent the government troops’ defence line for up to 12 kilometers in depth and up to 20 kilometers in front.According to the received data, this offensive was initiated by the US special agencies in order to stop successful advance of the Syrian Arab Army to the east from Deir ez-Zor.

Seizing of a unit of the Russian Military Police was one of the main aims of insurgents. The Russian MP unit was operating in an observation post deployed as de-escalation observation forces.

As a result, the MP platoon (29 persons) was blocked by insurgents.

The encirclement has been breached. Units of the Russian Armed Forces have reached locations of SAA without losses.

After the al-Qaeda attack was launched the Russian air force in Syria initiated a massive counter campaign over Idleb province.

For the last 24 hours, aviation and artillery units have eliminated 187 objects, 850 terrorists, 11 tanks, 4 IFVs, 46 pickups, 5 mortars, 20 trucks, and 38 ammunition storages.Units of the 5th Airborne Assault Corpse launched a counter-attack and almost took [all] lost positions.

Pictures from the area showed several destroyed tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. This was a very costly campaign for al-Qaeda with no significant gain. It seems that Syrian and Russian intelligence were aware that an attack was coming but not of the details. For a while the situation was extremely critical. Then the large aerial counter campaign caught al-Qaeda by surprise and destroyed the attacking forces.

At the same time as the al-Qaeda attack in Idleb started U.S. proxy forces in east-Syria (yellow) took measures to hinder the fight of Syrian forces (red) against the Islamic State (black).

Source: Weekend Warrior

The Syrian government forces are cleared nearly all of Deir Ezzor city of ISIS forces. At stake now is the control of the oil fields east of Deir Ezzor and north of the Euphrates river.

Soon after crossing the Euphrates Syrian troops came under fire from U.S. proxy positions:

“According to the reports that the Syrian commanders have been sending from the frontline, most serious counter-attacks and mass shelling on the Syrian troops come from the north,” he said. “It is the area where units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, as well as the US special operations units, are deployed, who, according to CNN, are providing medical aid to these militants instead of participating in the operation to liberate Raqqa,” [Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor] Konashenkov said.

The U.S. proxies also use their control of the Tabqa dam to hinder the river crossing:

Water discharges from the Euphrates dams controlled by the US-backed opposition hamper the advance of Syrian government troops near Deir ez-Zor, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.”Thus, the water situation on the Euphrates has deteriorated dramatically in the past 24 hours. As soon as the Syrian government troops began to cross the river, water level in the Euphrates rose within hours and the current velocity nearly doubled to two meters per second,” he said.

Today the Russian Defense Ministry accused the U.S. proxy forces of directly shelling its Syrian allies and the Russian forces accompanying them:

Russia warned a representative of the US command in Al Udeid, Qatar, that “any attempts of shelling from the areas where the militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces are based will be immediately curbed.””Firing points in these areas will be immediately suppressed by all means of destruction,” the general said.

Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces approaching Deir ez-Zor from the north are easily joining IS terrorists, and Russian drones and reconnaissance recorded no clash between the IS with a “third force,” namely the SDF over the past week, he explained.

However, massive fire from mortars and rocket artillery was opened twice on the Syrian troops from the areas on the eastern shore of Euphrates where the SDF fighters and servicemen of US special forces are based, Konashenkov said.

The U.S. paid “Syrian Democratic Forces” that pushed into northern Deir Ezzor without meeting any resistance are mostly local tribes who were aligned with the Islamic State until the U.S. diplomat Brett McGurk hired them to fight on the U.S. side. They are led by Kurdish commanders and “advised” by U.S. special forces.

The U.S. wants to keep Syrian government forces away from the oil fields north of the Euphrates. It has plans to build and control a Kurdish proto-state in north-east Syria and control over the eastern Deir Ezzor oil would give such a state the necessary economic base.

But the U.S. has too few proxy forces available to actually take the oil area away from the Islamic State. Only the Syrian army has enough resources in the area. The U.S. is now cheating, attacking Syrian-Russian forces, and rushing to get an advantage. According to the Russians the U.S. Kurdish proxies have even stopped the fight against ISIS in Raqqa and moved forces from that area to take the oil in the east. I doubt that Syria and Russia will allow that to happen without taking measures to counter it.

With the al-Qaeda diversion attack in north-west Syria defeated and more reserves available the Syrian alliance should think about a fast air-assault on the oil fields. As soon as the oil wells are under Syrian government control and the ISIS presence eliminated the U.S. has no more excuse to continue the current deadly game.

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