US to Provide $70 Million Additional Funding to Syrian Rebels

  • A rebel fighter of the Free Syrian Army, one of the so-called "moderate" rebel groups.
  • A rebel fighter of the Free Syrian Army, one of the so-called “moderate” rebel groups

The State Department reiterated once again that its aim is to oust President Bashar Al-Assad.

The United States government announced Friday it will provide the Syrian opposition with US$70 million in “non-lethal” assistance.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the assistance will only be delivered to certified rebel groups.

“Today, I can announce a modest step forward that the Administration is working with Congress to provide nearly $70 million in new foreign assistance to continue our full range of support to the moderate Syrian opposition,” said Antony J. Blinken, deputy secretary of state, in a statement.

However, with the rapidly evolving events in the Syrian frontlines, the task of certifying rebel groups as moderate has proven highly difficult. Many so-called moderate rebels have subsequently joined the Islamic State group or the al-Qaida allied al-Nusrah Front.

The U.S government clarified once again that their support for the rebels is consistent with the U.S. long-term objectives.

“As we have long said, Assad must go and be replaced through a negotiated political transition that is representative of the Syrian people,” said a White House spokesperson, referring to Washington’s commitment to oust the Syrian president.

As media investigations have revealed, classified U.S. documents and independent investigations show aid supplied to the rebel groups has helped strengthen the Islamic State group and Al-Nusrah, which are now dominating the Syrian battlefield.

So far, U.S. support to the Syrian opposition accounts for nearly US$400 million since 2011.

Posted in Syria, USA0 Comments

‘Radicalization’ – A Buzzword Singling out Muslims?

  • Blackwater mercenaries

    Blackwater mercenaries 

Is it tenable to define the concept of radicalisation in a way that encompasses, say, European Muslims who join Islamic State and other Sunni takfiri movements, yet excludes, say, European Jews who join the Israeli military?

“Cause (someone) to become an advocate of radical political or social reform.” Such reads the definition of radicalise in Oxford English Dictionary. Its derivative radicalisation has emerged as an established concept in academic research.

In academic terrorism and counterterrorism jargon, the term is devoid of objective definition, as it to be expected. The process of radicalisation is connected with Muslims and Jihadist movements. Donatella Della Porta of European University Institute and Gary LaFree of University of Maryland published a guest editorial in the International Journal of Conflict and Violence titled Processes of Radicalization and De-Radicalization. Della Porta and LaFree put forth an illuminative summary of the field of academic research on radicalisation:

“In research on political violence in advanced democracies in the 1970s, the term radicalization emerged to stress the interactive (social movements/state) and processual (gradual escalation) dynamics in the formation of violent, often clandestine groups (Della Porta 1995). In this approach, radicalization referred to the actual use of violence, with escalation in terms of forms and intensity. In recent years, the term “radicalism” became prominent in research on terrorism, particularly research on Islamist terrorism in OECD countries. Scholars were especially concerned with the phenomenon of young Muslims with Western socialization who joined militant Islamist groups. Much of this research sought to explain processes of individual radicalization and ways of becoming part of violent groups –. Some studies identified elements in the personal and social situation of Muslim immigrants that make them vulnerable to radicalization.”

One is tempted to ask: what is the grounds for such a definition? Is it tenable to define the concept of radicalisation in a way that encompasses, say, European Muslims who join Islamic State and other Sunni takfiri movements, yet excludes, say, European Jews who join the Israeli military? If so, why?

The record of the Israeli army doesn’t exactly amount to a stellar performance in terms of adherence to international humanitarian law, or international law in general. It is, after all, an institution which is imposing the longest illegal belligerent occupation in the WWII era. Although some of the Israeli army’s crimes are becoming more widely recognized globally, such as the regular killing of Palestinian civilians, there are still aspects of Israeli military rule which have barely entered the public debate on Israel-Palestine. Consider the fact that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF routinely publish deeply disturbing accounts on, and condemnations of, Israeli army’s treatment of Palestinian children. A recent UNICEF report, for instance, notes that unlawful treatment by the Israeli military of Palestinian children is “widespread, systematic and institutionalized”.

Thus, a question arises: why aren’t those European and American Jews who knowingly and willingly join the Israeli occupation army labeled ‘radical’ and studied persistently in academic ‘radicalisation’ research?

Let us think of another example: private mercenaries in the US. Much more US citizens have joined private mercenary companies and taken part in illegal US military operations abroad than the number of foreigners serving in Islamic State or Al Qaeda affiliated groups. Indeed, the number of US citizens who have operated as private mercenaries solely in Middle Eastern states is in hundreds of thousands.

Furthermore, scores of US citizens have provenly committed blatant violations of human rights in their mercenary gigs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only in Iraq, there are several well-documented instances of cold-blooded murder of civilians by these mercenaries.

One of the rare cases of butchering of civilians by US mercenaries which did receive media attention took place in Iraq in September 16, 2007. Operatives of Blackwater massacred 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 in Nisour Square in Baghdad. The event ultimately led to some criticism and legal action, having said that, it did not lead to any noteworthy consequences for the private mercenary industry itself.

Traveling from the EU or the US to Middle Eastern countries to willingly and knowingly take part in illegal military operations. Radicalisation? God forbid, no! Unless we are talking about Muslims, of course.

Posted in Europe, Middle East, USA0 Comments

Rudy Giuliani Commends Darren Wilson For The Killing Of Mike Brown

Giuliani told Fox News on Thursday, that “the police officer did his duty. The police officer should be commended for what he did. He did exactly what you should do.”
Jeb Bush, Rudy Giuliani
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, hugs former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the podium after being introduced at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner, Monday, May 12, 2014, in New York.  Photo: John Minchillo/AP

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is as notorious as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in their shared support for the New York City Police State. But of all the frighteningly totalitarian things Giuliani has said over the years about police and the community, this time he might have out done himself.

Recently Giuliani commented on former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the shooting of Michael Brown, and the continued protests in Missouri. He noted, almost in passing, that Officer Wilson should be “commended” for shooting and killing Brown, an unarmed African American teenager who Wilson stopped, harassed and cussed at for walking down the street in his own neighborhood.

“A man committed a robbery,” Giuliani errantly said. Actually Brown had apparently shoplifted a $5 pack of mini cigars. The owner of the store never even called the police. In some states, this is merely a ticketable offense. As well, this is merely what is alleged. We don’t know if Brown had come for a refund that was refused, or if he had laid money at the counter. We don’t know his side of the story, or his defense. We don’t know because he was shot and killed before he could be formally accused of this crime. Regardless, this was not why Officer Wilson originally said he stopped Brown.

Giuliani continued, saying that Brown “attempted to assault a police officer, and the police officer, to save his life, shot him.”

That too is a lie. Darren Wilson barely had a red mark on his cheek. There is no empirical evidence that he was sustaining any sort of attack that would have jeopardized his life or even safety. Both he and Brown were about the same height and Wilson was in much better shape. There is no reason why he should not have been able to handle this unarmed teenager without resorting to lethal force. If he could not, then perhaps policing the community was a bad idea for him, career-wise.

Giuliani told Fox News on Thursday, that “the police officer did his duty. The police officer should be commended for what he did. He did exactly what you should do.”

The New York Republican and former NYC mayor also spoke out against the FBI report on Ferguson, defending the racist Police Department. He said that the Department of Justice report is only “an allegation” with “no proof yet”.

The report found that even while African Americans are 67 percent of Ferguson’s population, they are stopped and arrested by police 93 percent of the time. The investigation also concluded that the Ferguson police are quick to use force on African American suspects, even when no force has been initiated. But that hard data is apparently just “an allegation” with “no proof yet” to Giuliani.

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Former Pinochet Officer, Investigated For Torture And Murder, Taught At Pentagon

‘His hiring undermines our moral authority on both human rights and in the war on terror,’ says former intelligence officer.

Jaime Garcia Covarrubias

Jaime Garcia Covarrubias

A former member of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s brutal regime taught at the Pentagon’s top university for 13 years, despite repeated complaints from his colleagues about his past as a torturer and murderer of political dissidents in the South American nation.

Jaime Garcia Covarrubias is charged in Santiago with leading the executions of seven people in 1973 following a U.S.-backed coup, allegations which the U.S. State and Defense Departments were aware of when they renewed his visa and allowed him to keep teaching at the National Defense University’s William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, according to a McClatchy investigation.

“His hiring undermines our moral authority on both human rights and in the war on terror,” Chris Simmons, a former Defense Intelligence Agency and Army intelligence officer who specializes in Latin America, told McClatchy. “If he is in fact guilty of what he is accused of, he is a terrorist. Then who are we to tell other countries how they should be fighting terrorism?”

At Firedoglake, investigative journalist Kevin Gosztola writes:

Attention to Covarrubias’ employment at the National Defense University (NDU) comes just after State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki maintained during a press briefing the US has a “long-standing policy” to not support coups. She suggested the U.S. “does not support political transitions by nonconstitutional means.” They must be “peaceful and legal.”

Garcia Covarrubias has been in Chile since January 2014, after an investigative judge ordered him to return to his home country for the duration of the inquiry into his role in the 1973 killings and the extent of his involvement in the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA) spy agency.

McClatchy continues:

The center’s officials who hired and renewed Garcia Covarrubias’ contracts say he was a highly qualified professor and minimize the allegations against him.

“We made inquiries with people in the region, in Chile and so forth, and were never given anything negative about Jaime,” said Margaret Daly Hayes, the center’s first director. “He was vetted by the U.S. government, by the (U.S.) Embassy. They obviously didn’t have anything either or he wouldn’t have been hired.”

One of Garcia Covarrubias’s alleged former victims described undergoing gruesome ordeals at his hands, including sexual torture and electric shocks to eyelids and other sensitive parts of the body. He was reportedly known to have a “penchant for horsewhips and perversity.”

Garcia Covarrubias downplayed his involvement in the Pinochet regime to international press after the Chilean military disclosed a list of over 1,000 former members of the secret police, which included his name. However, as McClatchy explains:

The DINA link matters.

…The killings and other assassinations outside Chile were attributed to DINA. The Nixon administration’s support of a regime that relied on rampant torture helped galvanize the human rights movement in the United States.

Even as the allegations against Garcia Covarrubias came to light and other professors at the center raised concerns over his hiring, U.S. officials rallied behind him. Martin Edwin Andersen, the school’s then-communications director, was reprimanded and eventually pushed out by senior staff after questioning his continued employment there.

“It’s shameful that at a time the U.S. prestige as a democracy is under attack, that the National Defense University could be playing footsie with a former state terrorism agent,” Andersen said.

Posted in South America1 Comment

Moves By UN To Foster Peaceful Deal With Iran Ignites Fury Of Senate War Hawks

The international community is mobilizing to move towards a nuclear deal with Iran, sending the GOP hawks in Congress into action.
Obama White House steps up pressure on Republicans over Iran
Sen Bob Corker (R- Tenn.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), respectively the chair and ranking member the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When it comes to sabotaging nuclear talks with Iran, experts warn there is a strong strain of bipartisanship.

New reporting that members of the United Nations Security Council are moving to foster the development of a pending nuclear agreement between leading world powers and Iran over the nation’s nuclear program has sent U.S. lawmakers opposed to a peaceful settlement with the Middle Eastern nation into orbit.

On Thursday, the Reuters news agency said members of the Security Council were working on a “resolution to lift U.N. sanctions on Iran if a nuclear agreement is struck with Tehran” and quoted a western official who said that such “a step that could make it harder for the U.S. Congress to undo a deal.”

According to Reuters:

Iran sees their removal as crucial as U.N. measures are a legal basis for more stringent U.S. and European Union measures to be enforced. The U.S. and EU often cite violations of the U.N. ban on enrichment and other sensitive nuclear work as justification for imposing additional penalties on Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress on Wednesday that an Iran nuclear deal would not be legally binding, meaning future U.S. presidents could decide not to implement it. That point was emphasized in an open letter by 47 Republican senators sent on Monday to Iran’s leaders asserting any deal could be discarded once President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017.

But a Security Council resolution on a nuclear deal with Iran could be legally binding, say Western diplomatic officials. That could complicate and possibly undercut future attempts by Republicans in Washington to unravel an agreement.

Iran and the six powers are aiming to complete the framework of a nuclear deal by the end of March, and achieve a full agreement by June 30, to curb Iran’s most sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years in exchange for a gradual end to all sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Word of that news, according to the Daily Beast, made GOP lawmakers go “ballistic” in response. The news outlet reported:

Congressional Republicans — even those that didn’t sign the instantly-infamous letter to Iran about the nuclear deal — were quick to sound the alarm on a pact they say would in effect bypass Congress.

“I just sent a letter to the president requesting that he respond to whether they are in fact attempting to do that,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, told The Daily Beast Thursday. “It’s contrary to what we’re attempting to do in Congress, having [our] appropriate role. To me, that’s a direct affront to the American people and to Congress, and I would hope that’s not the route they’re planning to take.”

Currently in Congress is a bill submitted by Corker and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, which says that any agreement made between the State Department and the Iranian government over the lifting of sanctions and regarding its nuclear program would have to be submitted to Congress for review. Obama has vowed to veto such a bill if it ever reached his desk, arguing it would certainly derail the progress so far made in the talks.

Though partisan rancor was set off this week by the letter signed by 47 GOP members in the Senate, there remains, according to foreign policy analyst Robert Naiman, a troubling amount of bipartisan agreement when it comes to finding some way to foil the tenuous talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations. Though a large majority of Republicans have made it plain they will go to great lengths to sabotage any deal with Iran, Naiman argues it is the Democrats in the Senate who now hold many of the cards. In an op-ed published byCommon Dreams on Friday, he writes:

Democrats have been outraged by 47 Senate Republicans ostentatiously trying to blow up negotiations with Iran with their “open letter” to Iranian leaders – essentially begging Iranian hardliners to blow up the talks on the Republicans’ behalf. Senate historians could find no precedent for the party opposed to the President in Congress trying to blow up an international negotiation involving the United States in this way.

But in terms of practical outcomes, the main drama still lies ahead. The main drama in terms of practical consequences is still all about Senate Democrats, not about Senate Republicans. Without at least six Senate Democrats supporting them, Republicans cannot pass anti-diplomacy legislation in the Senate. Without at least thirteen Senate Democrats supporting them, Republicans cannot override a Presidential veto of anti-diplomacy legislation. Without the support of a substantial group of Senate Democrats, Republicans cannot blow up the talks. The key question in the wake of the unprecedented controversy around the Netanyahu anti-diplomacy speech to Congress and the Republicans’ open letter to Iran is: which Senate Democrats will reward the Republicans who did these things by helping them try to blow up diplomacy?

Posted in Iran, USA0 Comments

America’s Jekyll And Hyde Foreign Policy In The Middle East

Is the U.S. exporting democracy in response to calls for it around the world, or is it simply using this as a guise to assert corporate imperialism that does more harm than good?
Image result for A Lebanese army soldier sits on his armored personnel carrier, as he stands guard outside the Burger King PHOTO
A Lebanese army soldier sits on his armored personnel carrier, as he stands guard outside the Burger King as part of stepped up security measures, in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, Saturday Sept. 15, 2012.

The world watched in fascination as Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Tunisians and Bahrainis took to the streets of their respective nations to denounce social injustice, poverty and tyrannical state institutions in 2011. Yet the Arab Spring movement has failed to translate those calls for change into democratic realities.

“If anything, the region has moved from authoritarianism to institutionalized-military despotism in four short years, all under the guise of the so-called ‘Free World,’ the United States of America,” Ahmed Mohamed Nasser Ahmed, a Yemeni political analyst and former member of Yemen’s National Issues and Transitional Justice Working Group at the National Dialogue Conference, told MintPress News.

Indeed, where has the U.S. stood as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region rose to the barricades, demanding that the ruling class be held accountable to the people for their actions?

Although U.S. officials have been keen to proclaim and assert their devotion to democracy, foreign policies have betrayed such honorable intentions, ultimately revealing the reality of corporatism and capitalism ruling unchallenged as the new tyrants of Western democracies.

Western powers — led by the U.S. — campaigned for the ousting of Syrian President Bashar Assad on the basis that he had lost all popular legitimacy. As they rolled out sanctions and plans for military intervention in Syria, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s brutal crackdown on protesters was brushed under the political rug.

“If of course the burden of responsibility ultimately sits on the people, it is evident the U.S. and Western powers in general have worked against the Arab Spring, betraying the very democratic principles they claim to represent for the sake of corporate capitalism. Democracies don’t turn a profit the way dictatorships do! The flow of weapons alone stands as a testimony to Western democracies’ real oath of allegiance,” Ahmed told MintPress.

The United Kingdom, America’s staunchest ally, signed a military agreement with Bahrain in January. This agreement contains provisions for the establishment of a permanent British naval base on the island kingdom, courtesy of King Hamad. The “landmark” deal, as the British government dubbed it, also paved the way for a lucrative arm deals, whereby the Bahraini regime would acquire British-made military equipment.

“The agreement reaffirms the UK’s and Bahrain’s joint determination to maintain regional security and stability in the face of enduring and emerging regional challenges,” Michael Fallon, the British defense secretary, said before the House of Commons in December, as quoted by the Guardian.

Yet if the U.S. and its Western allies care not for democracy, as Ahmed suggests, then what goals are they pursuing? Looking at events in the MENA it has become painfully evident that under the impetus of Washington and its regional allies, political self-determination and freedom have been repressed, derailed and negated in places like Liby

“If anything, generating unrest appears to have been high on America’s agenda. Washington’s policies have led to the ongoing balkanization of the MENA and the rise of Islamic radicalism. Terror and despotism are the fruits of America’s policy,” former Bahraini MP Jawad Fairooz told MintPress.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Historically, the U.S. has attempted to generate change in foreign countries by exporting liberal democratic institutions through military occupation and reconstruction. Despite these efforts, the record of U.S.-led reconstruction has been mixed, at best. For every West Germany or Japan, there has been a Cuba, Haiti, Somalia or Vietnam.

Ever since the U.S. arose as a new world superpower on the back of World War II, Washington’s main ambition has been to export democracy to the world, often amid the thuds of military drums and almost always to catastrophic results, Christopher J. Coyne, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center, argues in his 2006 book, “After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy.”

“Do efforts to export democracy help as much as they hurt? These are some of the most enduring questions of our time,” Coyne writes.

In an interview with Russia Today in July 2012, three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Martin Sieff characterized U.S. foreign policy as “self-righteous” and “often contradictory,” especially in regards to the Middle East. “The Americans have developed an ideological revolutionary passion for democracy,” Sieff noted, comparing Washington’s pursuit of democracy to Soviet Russia’s attempt to build a communist world empire.

William Blum, the author of the 2013 book “America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy,” believes that this slip into democratic fanaticism stems from the belief held by Americans that their government “has good intentions when it comes to foreign policy.”

“Unless this fallacy is unlearned, and until people understand fully the worldwide suffering American policy has caused, we will never be able to stop the monster,” Blum, a former State Department employee-turned-journalist and foreign policy critic, told MintPress.

But if the U.S. isn’t seeking to export democracy, then what interest could it have in perpetuating a state of eternal war? President Barack Obama sought to expand his office’s war powers last month by calling on Congress to give his office an official military mandate. This is strongly reminiscent of former President George W. Bush’s October 2002 request to strike Iraq on the grounds that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction on his soil.

This time, however, the U.S. stands to engage the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other radical militias in the region. These militias, some experts have argued, are the very ones that the U.S. and its regional allies helped propped up in the first place, in view of deposing Syrian President Assad.

William Engdahl, an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant, wrote on the matter in a June op-ed for RT:

“Details leaking out suggest that ISIS and the major military ‘surge’ in Iraq – and less so in neighboring Syria – is being shaped and controlled out of Langley, Virginia, and other CIA and Pentagon outposts as the next stage in spreading chaos in the world’s second-largest oil state, Iraq, as well as weakening the recent Syrian stabilization efforts.”

If Engdahl is correct, U.S. foreign policies are dictated not by ideology or idealism, but by capitalism and profiteering. This suggests that events in the Middle East — and ultimately Washington’s positions on powers in the Middle East — would follow the logic of capitalism, or as Charles Upton believes, “neo-imperialism” — not the greater good.

Covert agendas and corporate imperialism

“Once we realize that we live in a world of disinformation, we can either turn off our various devices and retreat into our subjective dreams, or else expose ourselves to as wide a spectrum of disinformation as possible, not only one kind,” Upton, a peace activist, author and philosopher, told MintPress. “Every story, in a world like ours, should be considered both as potential disinformation and as potential truth. If we take a given story as true, it shows us one thing — if as false, another.”

If disinformation does exist, what is it? And if U.S. officials have pursued ulterior agendas, what are they?

Dirk Adriaensens, a Belgium-based political analyst, coordinator of SOS Iraq, and a member of the executive committee of the Brussells Tribunal, is adamant that these answers lie in America’s economic hunger.

“The Americans, or rather, the American government, is working toward a state of eternal war. And of course all that has been written down by the Project for the New American Century in 1997, rebuilding America’s forces. I assume they desperately need war to recover from their economic crisis. The American economy is already a war economy and they need to produce arms and sell arms. Wars are profitable, the oil industry is profitable, and the Middle East offers incredible prospects to that regard,” Adriaensens told MintPress.

“The United States is a rogue country, and I think that the United States is busy destroying the whole world and if the world doesn’t wake up, this is going to continue and it will end up in the Third World War,” he added.

According to the U.K.-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade, British and European arms exports to Bahrain significantly increased since 2011, when protesters first denounced King Hamad’s rule. So far this year British arms sales to the Gulf kingdom totalled about $25 million.

Bahraini human rights defender Maryam al-Khawaja strongly condemned London’s policy of double-standards when she told MintPress how hypocritical the U.K. has been in addressing Bahrain’s popular uprising.

“Britain officials are clearly more interested in squeezing a profit out of its allies in the Peninsula than supporting Bahrainis in their freedom quest,” she said. “Britain and other Western capitals have been reduced to a bottom line. This is the reality we have come up against.”

Sayed Alwadaei, head of advocacy for the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said in comments to the press in January: “As an award for the British role in misleading the international community, Bahrain is building them a base. This also demonstrate why Britain has refused to list Bahrain as a country of concern.”

The Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Andrew Smith was quoted by the Guardian in January as saying, “The UK government has put a lot of time, effort and political capital into arming and supporting the Bahraini regime. With the new naval base, and with the possibility of Typhoon sales on the horizon, this looks unlikely to change.”

In 2012, ProPublica, a U.S.-based independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, revealed that the U.S. had sold weapons to Bahrain at the very height of the regime’s crackdown against its unarmed civilians. A 2012 report reads: “While the U.S. has maintained it is selling Bahrain arms only for external defense, human rights advocates say the documents [U.S. Defense Department reports] raise questions about items that could be used against civilian protesters.”

“The U.S. is also playing a training role: In April 2012, for example, the Army News Service reported that an American team specializing in training foreign militaries to use equipment purchased from the U.S. was in Bahrain to help with Blackhawk helicopters,” the report continued.

From October 2010 to the end of 2011, ProPublica established that the U.S. government had sold Bahrain $51 million worth of military equipment.

Selling unrest

Yet while the U.S. and its Western allies turned a profit in propping their Arab allies, despite the fact that their policies stood in firm opposition to America’s democratic principles, Washington allegedly made a fortune in funding unrest to advance its corporate interests throughout the region.

In August 2011, Bill Van Auken, a U.S. politician and activist for the Socialist Equality Party, wrote on Libya, “Far from a ‘revolution’ or struggle for ‘liberation,’ what the world is witnessing is the rape of Libya by a syndicate of imperialist powers determined to lay hold of its oil wealth and turn its territory into a neo-colonial base of operations for further interventions throughout the Middle East and North Africa.”

Indeed, four years after former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented, “We came, we saw, he died,” in reference to the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has become the North African headquarters of ISIS.

“Libya has collapsed into an ever-bloodier civil war between various Islamist factions and rival militias vying for state power. The country has also served as a training ground for CIA-backed Islamist forces preparing to fight the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad,” Joseph Kishore wrote in a report for the World Socialist Web Site in February.

“The imperialist powers funneled massive amounts of money and weaponry to Islamist militias and Al Qaeda operatives, providing them with air support through a mass bombing campaign that killed tens of thousands of Libyans,” he continued.

Ahmed, the Yemeni-based political analyst, told MintPress that Washington’s policy in the Middle East needs to be understood from a capitalist perspective and not from a political standpoint.

“The U.S. has financed a series of wars in the Middle East in view of seizing control over the world’s oil and gas resources,” he said. “This mad race for power is one for natural resources. From Libya, to Syria, Bahrain and Yemen — it’s always been about oil and control.”

“Until we recognize that America is waging an imperial war on the MENA, there is no real conversation to be had. Washington is the oppressor. Actually it was Washington which killed the Arab Spring and, with it, democracy.”

Could it really be that the American people were duped by their government, forced into wars for the sake of corporate imperialism? And, if so, could this clash of civilizations — East versus West, Islam versus Judeo-Christian — have more to do with geopolitics and a “mad race” for control over key strategic natural resources than the promotion of a fairer society, where freedom and liberties are the matrix upon which state institutions are built?

Posted in Middle East, USA0 Comments

The Hague Rules against Chevron in Ecuador Case

  • A waste pit filled with crude oil left by Texaco drilling operations years earlier lies in a jungle clearing near the Amazonian town of Sacha, Ecuador.
  • A waste pit filled with crude oil left by Texaco drilling operations years earlier lies in a jungle clearing near the Amazonian town of Sacha, Ecuador

The international court ruled in favor of Ecuador in its case against the U.S. oil giant for causing one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters.

The International Court of Justice (CIJ) ruled Thursday a prior ruling by an Ecuadorean court that fined the U.S.-based oil company Chevron US$9.5 billion in 2011 should be upheld.

The money will benefit about 30,000 Ecuadorians, most of them indigenous.

“Today’s decision represents an important step in the right direction,” stated Ecuadorean Attorney General Diego Garcia Carrion.

Chevron appealed the Ecuadorean court ruling at The Hague, arguing that Ecuador had violated a bilateral investment treaty signed with the United States and that a 1995 settlement agreement reached with the Ecuadorean government made the class action lawsuit redundant.

However, the international court stated that the case included individual rights, therefore leaving null and void the agreement signed between the then government of Ecuador and oil company Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001.

Chevron is responsible for contamination in the region, he said, praising a prior judicial decision rejecting Chevron’s attempt to avoid the fine.

Chevron’s spokesperson James Craig stated that, “A federal court of the United States ruled that the Ecuadorean sentence against the U.S. company resulted from fraud, corruption and bribery. The provisional decision emitted today by the court does not change this fact.”

The lawyer of the Ecuadorean plaintiffs, Pablo Fajardo, replied that the accusation of “fraud” had no basis, adding that “it will soon be demolished” on April 20 in a New York court.

Texaco, currently part of Chevron, caused one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters while drilling for oil in the Ecuadorean Amazon between 1964 and 1990.


Posted in South America0 Comments

Obama Condemns Shooting of Ferguson Police


  • U.S. President Barack Obama talks with show host Jimmy Kimmel during a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live in Los Angeles, March 12, 2015 

U.S. President called the shooters in Ferguson “criminals” yet sanctioned Venezuela for responding to violent protests where police were shot and killed.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday those responsible for shooting and injuring police officers in Ferguson, Missouri are criminals and should be arrested.

The two police officers were injured by gunfire during a rally outside of the Ferguson police department early Thursday. Witnesses said the shots came from a hill behind the protestors.

Demonstrators had gathered to demand further reforms from police and city officials after a damning U.S. Justice Department report finding his force was rife with racial bias.

“What had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest,” Obama said during an appearance on the ABC program “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

“But there was no excuse for criminal acts, and whoever fired those shots shouldn’t detract from the issue. They’re criminals. They need to be arrested,” he said.

Obama’s condemnation is in stark contrast to the U.S. government’s position regarding Venezuela’s handling of violent protests last year, in which police and military were among those killed.

Earlier this week the U.S. President issued an executive order declaring Venezuela to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security, accusing Venezuelan officials of violating civil and human rights in the handling of those protests.

At least 43 people were killed during violent protests that rocked major cities in Venezuela, several of whom were state security officials. Venezuelan authorities allege that in many of these instances, security forces were deliberately targeted and shot by right-wing protestors. Two Venezuelan politicians are among those arrested for participating in, planning or encouraging the violence.

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Witness to Eric Garner Killing Claims NYPD Are Targetting Her

New York police officers on patrol
  • New York police officers on patrol
Taisha Allen, who recorded the arrest and death of Garner, was arrested by police officers who recognized her as “the girl from the Eric Garner case.”

Taisha Allen, one of a handful of people to have witnessed and recorded the arrest which led to the death of Eric Garner, believe she is being targeted by police.

Allen says police use excessive force on her during an arrest, leaving her with bruises and an injured arm. This incident occurred over two weeks ago when police officers attempted to take her male friend into custody at a park just behind her home.

“He was being harassed by the police so I walked around and I asked the officer, like, what was going on, you know, he’s not out here trespassing or loitering … I sent him to the store, he’s out here visiting me,” she said in an interview.

Allen said the police officers recognized her as “the girl from the Eric Garner case” and arrested her saying there was a warrant out for her arrest.

Allen said she had previously had a warrant, but that the case was resolved in 2014. She added that the officer never looked her name up or radioed to check whether there was an outstanding warrant out for her.

Ironically, Allen’s incident was also filmed and aired by a local news agency in the United States.

Allen is one of two persons who claim they have been targeted by the New York Police Department (NYPD) for having filmed Eric Garner’s arrest and subsequent death.

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Univision Host Fired for Racist Michelle Obama ‘Ape’ Comment

Image result for Michelle Obama AS an ape PHOTO
  • Rodner Figueroa was fired after making a racist statement about Michelle Obama 

Rodner Figueroa released a statement denying he is racist and that his comments had been misrepresented.

Venezuelan-born TV personality, Rodner Figueroa, was fired from his position at U.S.-based broadcaster Univision Thursday after comparing U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama to an ape.

Figueroa, former host of Sal y Pimienta on Univision who specialized in providing fashion commentary, made the racist remark on El Gordo y La Flaca, an entertainment news show on the Spanish-language U.S. broadcaster.

Figueroa and the show hosts were commenting on a video where a male makeup artist transforms himself to look like celebrities, such as Julia Roberts and Michelle Obama.

“Well, watch out, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she’s from the cast of ‘Planet of the Apes,’ the movie,” said Figueroa.

Univision subsequently fired Figueroa and released a statement saying that his comments “in no way reflect the values or opinions of Univision.”

Figueroa, who has published right-wing commentary on social media before including opposition to Venezuela’s elected government and support for violent protests last year, later released a statement addressed to the first lady apologizing for his comments but also claimed they were “misinterpreted” as racist.

“I want to clarify that I am not racist in any way, my comment was not directed towards you, but towards the characterization of the artist, who left much to be desired. The entire video clip in context proves it,” said Figueroa.

He also claims in his statement that he comes from a bi-racial family and that his father is, in fact, Afro-Latino.

Afro-Descendants are a sizable minority population in Venezuela in late president, Hugo Chavez, who often spoke proudly of his ancestry.

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