Archive | June 7th, 2012

Annan Makes Last-Ditch Syria Peace Plan Effort At U.N.

NOVANEWS

Reuters

Syria Annan Plan
By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, June 7 (Reuters) – International mediator Kofi Annan will present the U.N. Security Council on Thursday with a new proposal in a last-ditch effort to rescue his failing peace plan for Syria, where 15 months of violence have brought the country to the brink of civil war.

Annan and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will address the 15-nation council behind closed doors at 3:00 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT). Ban and former U.N. chief Annan will also speak to the 193-nation General Assembly at 10:00 a.m., along with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby.

The two U.N. meetings, which will focus on the escalating crisis in Syria, come as the Syrian opposition and Western and Gulf nations seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad increasingly see Annan’s six-point peace plan as doomed due to the Syrian government’s determination to use military force to crush an increasingly militarized opposition.

The core of Annan’s proposal, diplomats said, would be the establishment of a contact group that would bring together Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and key regional players with influence on Syria’s government and the opposition, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

By creating such a contact group, envoys said, Annan would also be trying to break the deadlock among the five permanent council members that has pitted veto powers Russia and China against the United States, Britain and France and prevented any meaningful U.N. action on the Syrian conflict, envoys said.

It would attempt to map out a “political transition” for Syria that would lead to Assad stepping aside and the holding of free elections, envoys said. One diplomat said the idea was “vaguely similar” to a political transition deal for Yemen that led to the president’s ouster.

The main point of Annan’s proposal, they said, is to get Russia to commit to the idea of a Syrian political transition, which remains the thrust of Annan’s six-point peace plan, which both the Syrian government and opposition said they accepted earlier this year, but have failed to implement.

“We’re trying to get the Russians to understand that if they don’t give up on Assad, they stand to lose all their interests in Syria if this thing blows up into a major regional war involving Lebanon, Iran, Saudis,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “So far the Russians have not agreed.”

RUSSIAN EXILE FOR ASSAD?

Apart from lucrative Russian arms sales to Damascus, Syria hosts Russia’s only warm water port outside the Soviet Union.

While Russia has repeatedly said it is not protecting Assad, it has given no indications that it is ready to abandon him.

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice suggested that if Russia continued to prevent the Security Council from putting pressure on Syria, states may have no choice but to consider acting outside the United Nations.

Diplomats said the West has been pushing Russia to abandon Assad in a series of recent meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with their European and U.S. counterparts.

An unnamed diplomat leaked further details of Annan’s proposal to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who said that if the contact group agreed on a transition deal for Syria, it could mean Russian exile for Assad.

The Post article said another option for Assad would be to seek exile in Iran, Damascus’ other staunch ally.

Annan’s peace efforts have failed to halt the violence, as demonstrated by a recent massacre in Houla that led to the deaths of at least 108 men, women and children, most likely by the army and allied militia, according the U.N. Opposition members said there was a similar massacre on Wednesday in Hama province, with 78 people killed.

But some said there was still hope for Annan’s peace plan.

“It may be on life support, but it’s not dead,” a senior Western diplomat said about the peace plan.

In what could be the first step toward the creation of Annan’s contact group, Russia’s Lavrov on Wednesday floated the idea of an international meeting on the Syrian crisis that would bring together the prime candidates for Annan’s proposed contact group, including Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, reacted coolly to the idea of including Iran, which she said was “stage-managing” the Syrian government assault on the opposition the United Nations says killed at least 10,000 people. (Editing by Todd Eastham)

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Financial Collapse At Hand: When is “Sooner or Later”?

NOVANEWS
By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research
Ever since the beginning of the financial crisis and Quantitative Easing, the question has been before us:  How can the Federal Reserve maintain zero interest rates for banks and negative real interest rates for savers and bond holders when the US government is adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt every year via its budget deficits?  Not long ago the Fed announced that it was going to continue this policy for another 2 or 3 years. Indeed, the Fed is locked into the policy. Without the artificially low interest rates, the debt service on the national debt would be so large that it would raise questions about the US Treasury’s credit rating and the viability of the dollar, and the trillions of dollars in Interest Rate Swaps and other derivatives would come unglued. 
In other words, financial deregulation leading to Wall Street’s gambles, the US government’s decision to bail out the banks and to keep them afloat, and the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy have put the economic future of the US and its currency in an untenable and dangerous position.  It will not be possible to continue to flood the bond markets with $1.5 trillion in new issues each year when the interest rate on the bonds is less than the rate of inflation. Everyone who purchases a Treasury bond is purchasing a depreciating asset. Moreover, the capital risk of investing in Treasuries is very high. The low interest rate means that the price paid for the bond is very high. A rise in interest rates, which must come sooner or later, will collapse the price of the bonds and inflict capital losses on bond holders, both domestic and foreign.
The question is: when is sooner or later?  The purpose of this article is to examine that question.
Let us begin by answering the question: how has such an untenable policy managed to last this long?  
A number of factors are contributing to the stability of the dollar and the bond market. A very important factor is the situation in Europe.  There are real problems there as well, and the financial press keeps our focus on Greece, Europe, and the euro. Will Greece exit the European Union or be kicked out?  Will the sovereign debt problem spread to Spain, Italy, and essentially everywhere except for Germany and the Netherlands?

Will it be the end of the EU and the euro?  These are all very dramatic questions that keep focus off the American situation, which is probably even worse.
The Treasury bond market is also helped by the fear individual investors have of the equity market, which has been turned into a gambling casino by high-frequency trading.

High-frequency trading is electronic trading based on mathematical models that make the decisions. Investment firms compete on the basis of speed, capturing gains on a fraction of a penny, and perhaps holding positions for only a few seconds.  These are not long-term investors. Content with their daily earnings, they close out all positions at the end of each day. 
High-frequency trades now account for 70-80% of all equity trades. The result is major heartburn for traditional investors, who are leaving the equity market. They end up in Treasuries, because they are unsure of the solvency of banks who pay next to nothing for deposits, whereas 10-year Treasuries will pay about 2% nominal, which means, using the official Consumer Price Index, that they are losing 1% of their capital each year.  Using John Williams’ (shadowstats.com) correct measure of inflation, they are losing far more.  Still, the loss is about 2 percentage points less than being in a bank, and unlike banks, the Treasury can have the Federal Reserve print the money to pay off its bonds.  Therefore, bond investment at least returns the nominal amount of the investment, even if its real value is much lower. ( For a description of High-frequency trading, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_frequency_trading )
The presstitute financial media tells us that flight from European sovereign debt, from the doomed euro, and from the continuing real estate disaster into US Treasuries provides funding for Washington’s $1.5 trillion annual deficits. Investors influenced by the financial press might be responding in this way.  Another explanation for the stability of the Fed’s untenable policy is collusion between Washington, the Fed, and Wall Street. We will be looking at this as we progress.
Unlike Japan, whose national debt is the largest of all, Americans do not own their own public debt.  Much of US debt is owned abroad, especially by China, Japan, and OPEC, the oil exporting countries. This places the US economy in foreign hands.  If China, for example, were to find itself unduly provoked by Washington, China could dump up to $2 trillion in US dollar-dominated assets on world markets. All sorts of prices would collapse, and the Fed would have to rapidly create the money to buy up the Chinese dumping of dollar-denominated financial instruments.
The dollars printed to purchase the dumped Chinese holdings of US dollar assets  would expand the supply of dollars in currency markets and drive down the dollar exchange rate. The Fed, lacking foreign currencies with which to buy up the dollars would have to appeal for currency swaps to sovereign debt troubled Europe for euros, to Russia, surrounded by the US missile system, for rubles, to Japan, a country over its head in American commitment, for yen, in order to buy up the dollars with euros, rubles, and yen. 
These currency swaps would be on the books, unredeemable and  making additional use of such swaps problematical.  In other words, even if the US government can pressure its allies and puppets to swap their harder currencies for a depreciating US currency, it would not be a repeatable process.  The components of the American Empire don’t want to be in dollars any more than do the BRICS.
However, for China, for example, to dump its dollar holdings all at once would be costly as the value of the dollar-denominated assets would decline as they dumped them. Unless China is faced with US military attack and needs to defang the aggressor, China as a rational economic actor would prefer to slowly exit the US dollar.  Neither do Japan, Europe, nor OPEC wish to destroy their own accumulated wealth from America’s trade deficits by dumping dollars, but the indications are that they all wish to exit their dollar holdings.
Unlike the US financial press, the foreigners who hold dollar assets look at the annual US budget and trade deficits, look at the sinking US economy, look at Wall Street’s uncovered gambling bets, look at the war plans of the delusional hegemon and conclude: “I’ve got to carefully get out of this.”
US banks also have a strong interest in preserving the status quo. They are holders of US Treasuries and potentially even larger holders. They can borrow from the Federal Reserve at zero interest rates and purchase 10-year Treasuries at 2%, thus earning a nominal profit of 2% to offset derivative losses. The banks can borrow dollars from the Fed for free and leverage them in derivative transactions. As Nomi Prins puts it, the US banks don’t want to trade against themselves and their free source of funding by selling their bond holdings.  Moreover, in the event of foreign flight from dollars, the Fed could boost the foreign demand for dollars by requiring foreign banks that want to operate in the US to increase their reserve amounts, which are dollar based. 
I could go on, but I believe this is enough to show that even actors in the process who could terminate it have themselves a big stake in not rocking the boat and prefer to quietly and slowly sneak out of dollars before the crisis hits.  This is not possible indefinitely as the process of gradual withdrawal from the dollar would result in continuous small declines in dollar values that would end in a rush to exit, but Americans are not the only delusional people.
The very process of slowly getting out can bring the American house down. The BRICS–Brazil, the largest economy in South America, Russia, the nuclear armed and  energy independent economy on which Western Europe ( Washington’s NATO puppets) are dependent for energy, India, nuclear armed and one of Asia’s two rising giants, China, nuclear armed, Washington’s largest creditor (except for the Fed), supplier of America’s manufactured and advanced technology products, and the new bogyman for the military-security complex’s next profitable cold war, and South Africa, the largest economy in Africa–are in the process of forming a new bank. The new bank will permit the five large economies to conduct their trade without use of the US dollar.
In addition, Japan, an American puppet state since WW II, is on the verge of entering into an agreement with China in which the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan will be directly exchanged.  The trade between the two Asian countries would be conducted in their own currencies without the use of the US dollar. This reduces the cost of foreign trade between the two countries, because it eliminates payments for foreign exchange commissions to convert from yen and yuan into dollars and back into yen and yuan.  
Moreover, this official explanation for the new direct relationship avoiding the US dollar is simply diplomacy speaking.  The Japanese are hoping, like the Chinese, to get out of the practice of accumulating ever more dollars by having to park their trade surpluses in US Treasuries. The Japanese US puppet government hopes that the Washington hegemon does not require the Japanese government to nix the deal with China.
Now we have arrived at the nitty and gritty.  The small percentage of Americans who are aware and informed are puzzled why the banksters have escaped with their financial crimes without prosecution. The answer might be that the banks “too big to fail” are adjuncts of Washington and the Federal Reserve in maintaining the stability of the dollar and Treasury bond markets in the face of an untenable Fed policy.
Let us first look at how the big banks can keep the interest rates on Treasuries low, below the rate of inflation, despite the constant increase in US debt as a percent of GDP–thus preserving the Treasury’s ability to service the debt.  
The imperiled banks too big to fail have a huge stake in low interest rates and the success of the Fed’s policy. The big banks are positioned to make the Fed’s policy a success.  JPMorganChase and other giant-sized banks can drive down Treasury interest rates and, thereby, drive up the prices of bonds, producing a rally, by selling Interest Rate Swaps (IRSwaps).  
A financial company that sells IRSwaps is selling an agreement to pay floating interest rates for fixed interest rates. The buyer is purchasing an agreement that requires him to pay a fixed rate of interest in exchange for receiving a floating rate.
The reason for a seller to take the short side of the IRSwap, that is, to pay a floating rate for a fixed rate, is his belief that rates are going to fall. Short-selling can make the rates fall, and thus drive up the prices of Treasuries.  When this happens, as the charts at http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article34819.html illustrate, there is a rally in the Treasury bond market that the presstitute financial media attributes to “flight to the safe haven of the US dollar and Treasury bonds.”  In fact, the circumstantial evidence (see the charts in the link above) is that the swaps are sold by Wall Street whenever the Federal Reserve needs to prevent a rise in interest rates in order to protect its otherwise untenable policy.  The swap sales create the impression of a flight to the dollar, but no actual flight occurs. As the IRSwaps require no exchange of any principal or real asset, and are only a bet on interest rate movements, there is no limit to the volume of IRSwaps. 
This apparent collusion suggests to some observers that the reason the Wall Street banksters have not been prosecuted for their crimes is that they are an essential part of the Federal Reserve’s policy to preserve the US dollar as world currency. Possibly the collusion between the Federal Reserve and the banks is organized, but it doesn’t have to be. The banks are beneficiaries of the Fed’s zero interest rate policy.  It is in the banks’ interest to support it.  Organized collusion is not required.
Let us now turn to gold and silver bullion. Based on sound analysis, Gerald Celente and other gifted seers predicted that the price of gold would be $2000 per ounce by the end of last year.  Gold and silver bullion continued during 2011 their ten-year rise, but in 2012 the price of gold and silver have been knocked down, with gold being $350 per ounce off its $1900 high. 
In view of the analysis that I have presented, what is the explanation for the reversal in bullion prices?  The answer again is shorting.  Some knowledgeable people within the financial sector believe that the Federal Reserve (and perhaps also the European Central Bank) places short sales of bullion through the investment banks, guaranteeing any losses by pushing a key on the computer keyboard, as central banks can create money out of thin air. 
Insiders inform me that as a tiny percent of those on the buy side of short sells actually want to take delivery on the gold or silver bullion, and are content with the financial money settlement, there is no limit to short selling of gold and silver. Short selling can actually exceed the known quantity of gold and silver.
Some who have been watching the process for years believe that government-directed short-selling has been going on for a long time. Even without government participation, banks can control the volume of paper trading in gold and profit on the swings that they create. Recently short selling is so aggressive that it not merely slows the rise in bullion prices but drives the price down.  Is this aggressiveness  a sign that the rigged system is on the verge of becoming unglued? 
In other words, “our government,” which allegedly represents us, rather than the powerful private interests who elect “our government” with their multi-million dollar campaign contributions, now legitimized by the Republican Supreme Court, is doing its best to deprive us mere citizens, slaves, indentured servants, and “domestic extremists”   from protecting ourselves and our remaining wealth from the currency debauchery policy of the Federal Reserve. Naked short selling prevents the rising demand for physical bullion from raising bullion’s price.   
Jeff Nielson explains another way that banks can sell bullion shorts when they own no bullion. http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_08/nielson102411.html  Nielson says that JP Morgan is the custodian for the largest long silver fund while being the largest short-seller of silver. Whenever the silver fund adds to its bullion holdings, JP Morgan shorts an equal amount.  The short selling offsets the rise in price that would result from the increase in demand for physical silver. Nielson also reports that bullion prices can be suppressed by raising margin requirements on those who purchase bullion with leverage.  The conclusion is that bullion markets can be manipulated just as can the Treasury bond market and interest rates.
How long can the manipulations continue?  When will the proverbial hit the fan?
If we knew precisely the date, we would be the next mega-billionaires.
Here are some of the catalysts waiting to ignite the conflagration that burns up the Treasury bond market and the US dollar:
A war, demanded by the Israeli government, with Iran, beginning with Syria, that disrupts the oil flow and thereby the stability of the Western economies or brings the US and its weak NATO puppets into armed conflict with Russia and China. The oil spikes would degrade further the US and EU economies, but Wall Street would make money on the trades.
An unfavorable economic statistic that wakes up investors as to the true state of the US economy, a statistic that the presstitute media cannot deflect.
An affront to China, whose government decides that knocking the US down a few pegs into third world status is worth a trillion dollars.
More derivate mistakes, such as JPMorganChase’s recent one, that send the US financial system again reeling and reminds us that nothing has changed. 
The list is long. There is a limit to how many stupid mistakes and corrupt financial policies the rest of the world is willing to accept from the US.  When that limit is reached,  it is all over for “the world’s sole superpower” and for holders of dollar-denominated instruments.
Financial deregulation converted the financial system, which formerly served businesses and consumers, into a gambling casino where bets are not covered. These uncovered bets, together with the Fed’s zero interest rate policy, have exposed Americans’ living standard and wealth to large declines.  Retired people living on their savings and investments, IRAs and 401(k)s can earn nothing on their money and are forced to consume their capital, thereby depriving heirs of inheritance. Accumulated wealth is consumed.
As a result of jobs offshoring, the US has become an import-dependent country, dependent on foreign made manufactured goods, clothing, and shoes. When the dollar exchange rate falls, domestic US prices will rise, and US real consumption will take a big hit. Americans will consume less, and their standard of living will fall dramatically. 
The serious consequences of the enormous mistakes made in Washington, on Wall Street, and in corporate offices are being held at bay by an untenable policy of low interest rates and a corrupt financial press, while debt rapidly builds. The Fed has been through this experience once before. During WW II the Federal Reserve kept interest rates low in order to aid the Treasury’s war finance by minimizing the interest burden of the war debt. The Fed kept the interest rates low by buying the debt issues. The postwar inflation that resulted led to the Federal Reserve-Treasury Accord in 1951, in which agreement was reached that the Federal Reserve would cease monetizing the debt and permit interest rates to rise. 
Fed chairman Bernanke has spoken of an “exit strategy” and said that when inflation threatens, he can prevent the inflation by taking the money back out of the banking system.  However, he can do that only by selling Treasury bonds, which means interest rates would rise. A rise in interest rates would threaten the derivative structure, cause bond losses, and raise the cost of both private and public debt service. In other words, to prevent inflation from debt monetization would bring on more immediate problems than inflation. Rather than collapse the system, wouldn’t the Fed be more likely to inflate away the massive debts?
Eventually, inflation would erode the dollar’s purchasing power and use as the reserve currency, and the US government’s credit worthiness would waste away.  However, the Fed, the politicians, and the financial gangsters would prefer a crisis later rather than sooner.  Passing the sinking ship on to the next watch is preferable to going down with the ship oneself. As long as interest rate swaps can be used to boost Treasury bond prices, and as long as naked shorts of bullion can be used to keep silver and gold from rising in price, the false image of the US as a safe haven for investors can be perpetuated.
However, the $230,000,000,000,000 in derivative bets by US banks might bring its own surprises. JPMorganChase has had to admit that its recently announced derivative loss of $2 billion is more than that.  How much more remains to be seen.According to the Comptroller of the Currency the five largest banks hold 95.7% of all derivatives. The five banks holding $226 trillion in derivative bets are highly leveraged gamblers.  For example, JPMorganChase has total assets of $1.8 trillion but holds $70 trillion in derivative bets, a ratio of $39 in derivative bets for every dollar of assets. Such a bank doesn’t have to lose very many bets before it is busted.
Assets, of course, are not risk-based capital. According to the Comptroller of the Currency report, as of December 31, 2011, JPMorganChase held $70.2 trillion in derivatives and only $136 billion in risk-based capital. In other words, the bank’s derivative bets are 516 times larger than the capital that covers the bets.
It is difficult to imagine a more reckless and unstable position for a bank to place itself in, but Goldman Sachs takes the cake. That bank’s $44 trillion in derivative bets is covered by only $19 billion in risk-based capital, resulting in bets 2,295 times larger than  the capital that covers them.   
Bets on interest rates comprise 81% of all derivatives. These are the derivatives that support high US Treasury bond prices despite massive increases in US debt and its monetization.
US banks’ derivative bets of $230 trillion, concentrated in five banks, are 15.3 times larger than the US GDP.  A failed political system that allows unregulated banks to place uncovered bets 15 times larger than the US economy is a system that is headed for catastrophic failure.  As the word spreads of the fantastic lack of judgment in the American political and financial systems, the catastrophe in waiting will become a reality.  
Everyone wants a solution, so I will provide one. The US government should simply cancel the $230 trillion in derivative bets, declaring them null and void.  As no real  assets are involved, merely gambling on notional values, the only major effect of closing out or netting all the swaps (mostly over-the-counter contracts between counter-parties) would be to take $230 trillion of leveraged risk out of the financial system.  The financial gangsters who want to continue enjoying betting gains while the public underwrites their losses would scream and yell about the sanctity of contracts. However, a government that can murder its own citizens or throw them into dungeons without due process can abolish all the contracts it wants in the name of national security.  And most certainly, unlike the war on terror, purging the financial system of the gambling derivatives would vastly improve national security.

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In Politics the Need to Have a Strategy to Deal With Your Principal Electoral Opponent is Taken as a Given, Why do the Tories Not Yet Have One for UKIP?

NOVANEWS

With the five point swing towards UKIP at the local elections, taking their share of the vote up to 13%, largely at the expense of the Conservative Party, many Tories are quite understandably looking towards the 2014 European elections with great trepidation. The last time we contested the European elections in 2009 the climate was radically different, we were the reasonably popular opposition party possessing what seemed like a credible strategy on Europe which commanded the confidence of the majority of the Party, and the Labour Party was very much the marked party, the party to punish. Seemingly, at this point in time, if the European elections were to be held tomorrow, the Tories would be in trouble. The Conservative Party, along with the Liberals are the governing parties to punish, it is also more divided on Europe since John Major’s leadership, and is likely to get hurt badly by an increasingly buoyant UKIP who are seeking to capitalise on the significant degree of euro scepticism within the country.

At the last election in 2009 UKIP gained 16.5% of the vote (13 seats), while the Tories got 27.7% of the vote (25 seats). The chances are that if things stay the way they are at the moment, both parties will poll around 20% of the vote; in fact, UKIP may event top the election. This is a real concern for the Conservative Party, having lost many hundreds of decent, hard-working councillors’ at the local elections, it’s likely that come 2014, when the euro sceptic factor is likely to be burning more strongly than even 2012, we could lose a number of hardworking, decent MEP’s. Moreover, our hope of influencing change within the EU from the inside, through our dominant position within the European Conservatives and Reformists group is likely to be dealt a significant blow.

Given this predicament, the question the Party needs to be asking itself is how it can counteract this threat, what strategy do the Tories have in place to deal with UKIP head-on, because they are going to need to do this. In politics the need to have a strategy to deal with your principal opponent is taken as a given, in 2014 UKIP will most likely be our principal opponent; we need a real strategy for dealing with them. The Conservative Party should do this in two ways. Firstly, it needs to point out the real potential of the European Conservatives’ and Reformists Group to reform the EU from the inside, and how voting Conservative in May 2014 would further the potential for this group to change the direction of the European project. When respected statesman from ex-communist states such as Vaclav Havel speak about the European Union, people listen, with their direct experience of un-competitive and supranational practices under communism, and the dominance of the Soviet Union, who better to argue for a new EU, with a respect for nationhood, cooperation, and free enterprise at its heart. Furthermore, the degree of influence that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have upon the development of the Europe project is only likely to increase, not many countries have weathered the economic storm as well as the Poles. At the moment this group has 52 MEP’s the goal should be to increase this number.

Secondly, as a party, we need to coalesce around a pro-referendum, anti-integrationist, but anti -exit position on Europe. Building on this we need to attack UKIP for possessing such a short sighted and contradictory position on Europe, believing that we could somehow quietly leave the EU without their being any economic problems as a result. Believing that the euro elite would be more than happy to sign a free trade arrangement with us having left, like with the Norwegians and Swiss, “because it’s in their economic self-interest” is clearly nonsense. It’s all well and good when notable advocates of an outright exit such as David Campbell Bannerman point out that Britain has a £34.9million trade deficit with the EU.

Meaning that they would always support a free trade arrangement with us because they would lose more jobs than us is they didn’t. But the key unanswered question is at what point does Campbell Bannerman think that euro elite are going to suddenly become economically literate, and think about our exit in such a rational way, after all, I thought the reason why UKIP wanted us out of the EU was because it was driven by ideologues who’s economics was driven by politics rather than by what’s economically sound, hence the Euro. What I really want to know, is as what point and why do UKIP think that the euro elite, or those in charge of opting for a free trade arrangement with the UK would start viewing their major decisions through economic lenses and not political ones? To both questions, UKIP appear to have no answers, and here lies the deep contradiction at the heart of their strategy. A British exit from the EU, and our resulting relationship with the EU having left, would be at least as ideologically loaded as the Euro project, being driven by the political motivations of those behind the European project far more than economic common sense.

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Turkey: Why The Empire is Striking Back

NOVANEWS

Tonight, all eyes will be on Turkey where the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and Eurasia will be inaugurated.

Set to be launched under the theme “Bridging Regions in Transformation”, this is the first-time ever the Geneva-based international organisation has dedicate a single meeting for both MENA and Eurasia; a clear indicator of how interconnected our world has become.

Blue Mosque and Bosphorus

On the other hand, this meeting constitutes the third Forum event in Turkey, which is a statement in its own right.

In recent years, Turkey has managed to re-emerge as a key regional and global player politically. Apart from its current role in trying to resolve the Syrian crisis, Turkey (a member of NATO) has always acted as a mediator in the Middle East, building on its relations with Arabs and Israelis.

Speaking of the World Economic Forum, one also has to remember that in 2009, Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan gained instant popularity in the Middle East following his angry exchange with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos.

At the time, Mr Erdogan vowed never to return to the Forum as he stormed out of the session in which he opposed the Israeli aggression against Gaza.


(A YouTube clip portraying the 2009 Erdogan-Peres confrontation at Davos)

Turkish relations with Tel Aviv haven’t improved since then; particularly following the Israeli Commando raid against the Mavi Marmarra Gaza flotilla in 2010. An incident which ended with 9 Turkish peace activists killed while over a hundred were injured in total.

As Turkey grew even further in its prominence, relations with the Forum – an NGO which constantly stresses on its no political, partisan or national interests – seem to be back at its peak with preparations underway for the current meeting which takes place in Istanbul.

Mr Erdogan is expected to give the Forum’s Opening Address himself tomorrow morning; as he addresses fellow heads of states, a number of key regional and world politicians, business leaders and journalists, he seems all set to cement Turkey’s positioning as a regional leader.

Now, as for his 2009 vow… well, Erdogan said he would never return to the Forum, however, he never said anything about bringing the Forum- which usually holds its Middle East summit in Egypt, Jordan or Morocco – to Turkey.

Turkish Delights

However, the prime minister wasn’t the only Turk winning the hearts and minds of the Arab Street over the past few years. He was competing with Mohannad and Noor, two famous characters from a Turkish television series by the name of Gümüş.

This phenomenal television series literary swept the Arab World in 2008 and began an ongoing and unprecedented demand for Turkish drama across the region.

(A YouTube clip portraying the outstanding welcome the cast of Gümüş received in a recent visit to Dubai)

On a more serious note, and in a post-2011 Arab Spring, Turkey has become even more interesting to examine as the newly-freed Arab countries looked for models of secular states that has managed to balance being a democracy and being Muslim.

More importantly, Turkey hasn’t allowed its past to stand in the way of its future, and with a consistent annual economic growth of 7-10% is looking quite bright at the moment.

Although not being an oil-based economy, Turkey has managed to surpass many of its rich Middle Eastern counterparts and its debt-burdened Western neighbours, who have long denied it membership to the European Union.

As all this was happening, a staggering 31.5 million foreign tourists visited Turkey last year, mostly from Europe, the Arab World, Eastern Europe and Japan.

Turkey has certainly regained its leadership position on the world’s stage; the post-Arab Spring Middle East has a lot to learn from the Return of the Ottoman Empire, as one leading Arab columnist portrayed it.

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Isolate Syria’s Arms Suppliers

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Russian Arms Exporter Rosoboronexport Risks Complicity in Grave Abuses

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) walks with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem during their meeting in Moscow, on April 10, 2012.
    © 2012 Reuters
Rosoboronexport’s clients should distance themselves from the company until it stops selling arms to Syria. The bottom line is that no one should do new business with any company that may be an accomplice to crimes against humanity.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch

(New York) – Governments and companies around the world should stop signing new contracts with arms suppliers such as the Russian firm Rosoboronexport that are providing weapons to the Syrian government. In light of compelling evidence that the Syrian army is responsible for crimes against humanity against Syria’s people, the Russian state-owned arms trading company’s continued dealings with Syria place the company at risk of complicity in these crimes, Human Rights Watch warned in a letter to the company made public today.

Under international law, providing weapons to Syria while crimes against humanity are being committed may translate into assisting in the commission of those crimes. Any arms supplier could bear potential criminal liability as an accessory to those crimes and could face prosecution, Human Rights Watch said. Rosoboronexport is widely reported to be Syria’s main weapons supplier, but all other suppliers of arms to Syria should be subject to the same scrutiny, Human Rights Watch said.

“Rosoboronexport’s clients should distance themselves from the company until it stops selling arms to Syria,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The bottom line is that no one should do new business with any company that may be an accomplice to crimes against humanity.”

Some of the recent and planned Rosoboronexport weapons supplies raise serious concerns, given Syria’s year-long use of the military against Syrian cities and towns, Human Rights Watch said. The company’s known weapons deals significantly enhance Syria’s military capability at a time when it is engaged in serious crimes, and the arms potentially could be used in its assaults on civilians. For example, combat aircraft could be used in assaults on civilian areas.

Third parties in the weapons trade, particularly other buyers of weapons and those involved in promotional activities for the industry, should distance themselves from Syria’s main arms supplier, Human Rights Watch said. They should avoid any new business contracts with Rosoboronexport until it verifiably ceases providing weapons to Syria.

Companies and governments should also consider suspending any current dealings with the company until they conduct a full review of its role in providing support and assistance to the Syrian army’s ongoing attacks, and its risk of complicity. They should evaluate any commercial contracts with Rosoboronexport such as weapons deals, the company’s planned appearances in arms trade shows, and its advertising in industry publications.

The same applies to any other supplier of weapons and related materiel or other forms of military or security assistance to the Syrian government in the current context, Human Rights Watch said. Any such firm – whether public or private – should immediately suspend its dealings with Syria, and if it doesn’t, its clients should consider ending business dealings with the company, subject to a thorough review of the arms supplier’s role as a potential accomplice to crimes against humanity.

Human Rights Watch has previously called for an arms embargo on the Syrian government. In the United States, 17 senators led by John Cornyn of Texas, together with US civic groups, called for the US government to withdraw from contracts worth nearly $1 billion with Rosoboronexport.

The US Defense Department has refused to reconsider a planned $375 million purchase of 21 helicopters from the company for Afghanistan. In a letter to Cornyn, US Undersecretary for Policy James Miller said the deal was “critical” to US interests in Afghanistan even though he is aware “that Rosoboronexport continues to supply weapons and ammunition to the Assad regime” and “there is evidence that some of these arms are being used by Syrian forces against Syria’s civilian population.” The US government has called on Russia and other countries to cease arms deliveries to Syria.

“Taking a ‘business as usual’ approach with Rosoboronexport shouldn’t be an option,” Roth said. “The US needs to reconsider both the planned helicopter purchase from Rosoboronexport and the option of additional purchases that are allowed within this contract.”

Rosoboronexport has declined to renounce publicly its ties to the Syrian government. Although in recent weeks the company has refused to comment on the matter, it previously has been outspoken in defense of its supplies to Syria and said they will continue as long as there are no sanctions in place or orders from the Russian authorities to halt deliveries.

“We understand the situation has become aggravated in Syria,” a Rosoboronexport spokesman, Vyacheslav Davidenko, told the New York Times in February. “But since there are no international decisions, and there are no sanctions from the UN Security Council, and there are no other decisions, our cooperation with Syria – the military-technical cooperation – remains quite active and dynamic.” His comment echoed earlier statements by the head of the company, Anatoly Isaikin.

Detailed information linking particular weapons transfers and how the equipment is used inside the country is extremely difficult to obtain, Human Rights Watch said. Moreover, the Syrian army is known to use a considerable amount of older Russian equipment, some dating to the Soviet era.

“The Security Council should impose a mandatory international arms embargo on Syria, and Russia and China should not block it,” Roth said. “With the Syrian government committing crimes against humanity, other governments and companies around the world should use whatever leverage they have to stop further arms supplies that could contribute to these crimes.”

Rosoboronexport did not respond to the questions in Human Rights Watch’s letter, sent on April 6, 2012, eventually replying in mid-May that the matters raised were outside of the company’s competence. It referred the questions to the Russian Foreign Ministry, to which Human Rights Watch had also sent the letter and which did not respond.

An April 18 news report that Russian officials had decided to cease sending supplies of light weapons to Syria has not been confirmed. As recently as May 14, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilovdefended Russian weapons supplies to Syria’s government, reiterating Moscow’s position that, “We do not supply any offensive weapons, we are talking only about defensive weapons,” without providing details. On June 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin echoed that view, saying, “Russia is not shipping weapons that could be used in a civil conflict.”

On May 24, Al Arabiya reported that a shipment of Russian arms was due to arrive in Syria in the next few days. When asked about that shipment, Rosoboronexport’s spokesman said he did not have information on the ship in question and noted that Rosoboronexport’s “policy is not to comment on individual shipments, regarding contents or timing.” The Russian foreign ministry told Reuters that it did not have information on a ship carrying weapons to Syria but declined to comment further.

Reuters reported that the ship docked at the Syrian port of Tartus on May 26 and unloaded a cargo of heavy weapons, citing a Western diplomat.

Rosoboronexport’s Dealings With Syria, Other Clients
Public information sources indicate that Rosoboronexport is Syria’s main weapons supplier. Since 2007, Rosoboronexport has had a virtual monopoly on arms exports from Russia. During that period, Syria’s arms imports increased more than five-fold compared with the previous five-year period, according to research by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Russia provided 78 percent of Syria’s imports of major conventional weapons from 2007 to 2011, SIPRI found.

Recent Russian supplies have included surface-to-air missiles and missile systems, as well as air and coastal defense systems, according to SIPRI, while pending deliveries as of early 2012 included more than 50 combat aircraft.

SIPRI, which is considered an authoritative source on the trade in heavy weapons, has identified numerous transfers from Russia to Syria:

  • 36 Pantsyr-S1 mobile air-defense systems, delivered between 2008 and 2011;
  • Some 700 surface-to-air missiles for use with the Pantsyr mobile air-defense systems, delivered between 2008 and 2011;
  • 87 anti-ship missiles, delivered from 2009 to 2010;
  • Two Bastion-P mobile coastal defense systems, delivered from 2010 to 2011;
  • 72 anti-ship cruise missiles, delivered from 2010 to 2011, for use with the Bastion-P coastal defense system;
  • 300 air-to-air missiles, ordered in 2010 for use with MiG-29 combat aircraft;
  • Two surface-to-air missile systems, delivered in 2011, from an order for eight such systems;
  • 40 surface-to-air missiles, delivered in 2011, from an order for 160 such missiles, for use with the missile systems;
  • 36 Yak-130 jet trainers/combat aircraft ordered in 2011; and
  • 24 MiG-29 fighter aircraft, ordered in 2007 (delivery pending).

 

In addition, Jane’s Defense Weekly in 2010 cited a deal for Russia to supply armored vehicles to Syria. The Moscow-based arms research organization Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) has reported that from 2007 to 2011, Russia completed a contract to upgrade 1,000 T-72 battle tanks. A media report indicates that Russia also has arms contracts with Syria worth $250-$400 million for delivery of ammunition, pistols, sub-machine guns, machine guns, anti-tank missiles, and rocket-propelled grenades.

According to shipping records collected by ThomsonReuters, at least four cargo ships have left Russia’s Black Sea port of Oktyabrsk – which Reuters said is used by Rosoboronexport for weapons shipments – for the Syrian port of Tartus since December 2011. In addition, a Russian-operated vessel, the MV Chariot, was carrying four containers of “dangerous cargo” from St. Petersburg to Syria when it stopped in Cyprus in January 2012. Although the ship ostensibly changed course for Turkey, it nevertheless traveled to Syria, according to Reuters, which described the cargo as ammunition reportedly supplied by Rosoboronexport. Davidenko, the company spokesman, declined to confirm or deny the report, telling Reuters, “We do not comment on where our deliveries go, when they leave port or how.”

Rosoboronexport’s main clients are India, China, Algeria, Venezuela, and Vietnam, according to a RIA Novosti news agency report citing the company’s chief, Anatoly Isaikin. Speaking separately, Isaikin reported that the company exported Russian weaponry worth $10.7 billion in 2011. He added that 43 percent of Russia’s arms exports go to Asia-Pacific countries, 24 percent to the Middle East and North Africa, 14 percent to Latin America, 10 percent to CIS countries, 7 percent to sub-Saharan Africa, and 3 percent to Europe and North America.

SIPRI data show that more than 50 countries have imported heavy weapons from Russia since 2007, when the company took control over Russia’s arms exports. The European countries importing weaponry from Russia during that period were Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Turkey. Buyers of Russian weapons in North Africa and the Middle East included Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. In Latin America, recent purchases of Russian arms were made by Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. Recipients in Africa have included Senegal, South Sudan, and Uganda, while Asian recipients have included Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand.

The company regularly participates in major arms shows throughout the world. From May 8 to 10, for example, it had a presence at SOFEX-2012 in Jordan. According to Rosoboronexport’s website, it will also participate in numerous upcoming expositions including: Eurosatory-2012 in Paris, June 11 to 15; MBCB-2012 in Moscow at the end of June; Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom, July 9 to 15; AAD-2012 in South Africa, September 19 to 23; EuroNaval-2012 in Paris,  October 22 to 26; Defensys-2012 in Greece, October 27 to 30; Interpolitex-2012 in Moscow, October 23 to 26; Indo Defense 2012 in Indonesia, November 7 to 10; Airshow China in China, November 13 to18; and EXPONAVAL-2012 in Chile, December 4 to 7.

News media reports from recent weeks citing company officials indicate that Rosoboronexport has pending deals or ongoing negotiations with IndonesiaJordanKazakhstan, and Malaysia.

Rosoboronexport also arranges arms licensed production or coproduction deals for the manufacture of weapons. The countries where it has or is seeking to build weapons production ties include Spain.

Other Weapons Suppliers to Syria
In addition to Russia, SIPRI has also identified recent weapons transfers to Syria from Belarus (combat aircraft) and Iran (anti-ship missiles and coastal defense systems). In a March 21 UN Security Council briefing, Western diplomats accused Iran of illicitly supplying weapons to Syria, citing information collected about alleged violations of UN sanctions on Iran that prohibit it from exporting arms, and expressed concern that the weapons were being used against the civilian population.

A 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service identifies China as a supplier of weapons to Syria, indicating that it delivered $300 million in arms from 2007 to 2010, up from $200 million from 2003 to 2006, as compared with Russian deliveries of $400 million from 2003 to 2006 and $1.2 billion from 2007 to2010.

That study, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003-2010,” also noted that Syria’s position as a top global recipient of conventional weapons rose from 10th-highest from 2003 to 2006, with $2.9 billion in total agreements over that four-year period to the 7th-largest in 2010, when it signed deals worth $1 billion.

Syria has also imported considerable quantities of weapons from Egypt. Turkey exported to Syria over 13,000 pistols from 2007 through 2010, according to its voluntary report on small arms to the UN Conventional Arms Register, which did not specify if the weapons were for the Syrian armed forces.

Human Rights Watch Research Into Weapons Misuse in Syria
On March 13, Human Rights Watch documented multiple accounts by witnesses that appear to confirm that the Syrian army has planted landmines, including the Soviet/Russian-made PMN-2 antipersonnel mines and TMN-46 antivehicle mines, near the country’s borders with Lebanon and Turkey during the current conflict.

In March, five witnesses, including three foreign correspondents, gave separate accounts to Human Rights Watch that in Idlib government forces had used large-caliber machine-guns, tanks, and mortars to fire indiscriminately at buildings and people in the street.

On February 24, Human Rights Watch documented the Syrian government’s use in Homs of the Russian-made 240mm F-864 high explosive mortar system, which fires the world’s largest high explosive mortar bomb known to be in production and use. The 240mm round weighs 130 kilograms and contains 31.93 kilograms of TNT as an explosive charge.

Also in February in Homs, Human Rights Watch documented the government’s use of explosive weapons including 122mm howitzers and 120mm mortars. Variants of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, which are produced in various countries, are prevalent.

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In the Land of the Blind

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There were two interesting news stories last Thursday plus a couple of others during the week, all of which combine to tell an awkward tale about the United States government’s perception of itself and its willingness to engage in acts of preemptive aggression that most other governments would balk at. One headline article described in some detail how the United States is building up its ability to engage in cyber warfare, referred to as Cyber “Plan X,” a “new phase in the nation’s fledgling military operations in cyber space.”

The article went on to explain that “cyberwarfare conjures images of smoking servers, downed electrical systems, and exploding industrial plants,” but its battlefield use would be more focused even though it is fighting in a “global domain that includes tens of billions of computers and other devices.” Near the end, the article notes that “cyberwar experts worry about unintended consequences of attacks” because “the military needs more of a brute force approach that allows it to get at a thousand targets as quickly as possible.”

But flipping through to page 10 in the same newspaper, one learned that there would be congressional hearings because “tech giants warn of threats to free and profitable Internet,” with the first paragraph reading “U.S. officials and high tech business giants have launched an assault against what they view as a massive threat to the Internet and to Silicon Valley’s bottom lines: foreign governments.” Yes indeed, after learning on page one that the United States is gearing up for cyber warfare on a scale unimaginable for any other nation, we are then told that the real threat to cyberspace consists of foreigners — most particularly the Russians, Chinese, and some Arabs. It seems that they want to have more say in how the Internet is organized and regulated, possibly through the United Nations or international communications agreements, because “the Internet has been heavily influenced by U.S. firms and American academics, who set the standards.”

And if you think that there is no connection between Google’s concerns over its “bottom line” and the Pentagon, the Department of Defense defines cyberspace as the “domain characterized by the use of electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum to store, modify, and exchange data via network systems and associated physical infrastructures.” That definition includes the Internet and all associated electronic communications as well as the companies that are involved in the telecommunications business.

The United States long sought to control the Internet and cyberspace, but the arguments pro and con eventually became moot when, on March 16, 2012, President Obama issued an executive order, “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” which gives him the authority to take control of any national resource if there is a state of emergency as defined by the president himself. The Internet, as part of the country’s communications infrastructure, is most definitely regarded as a national resource. The emergency decisions made by the president are not subject to judicial review, meaning that the executive both defines the problem and dictates the solution. After he has done so, he cannot be challenged by the courts. Based on recent developments and anticipating what might be around the corner, just how long do you think it would take for Obama to shut down the Internet on the grounds that “terrorists” might be using it to communicate?

And there are persistent reports that the United States has also been working to develop an Internet kill switch, though the expression itself has not appeared in any actual or proposed legislation.  Cyberspace Act of 2010, which never made it out of Congress, was touted as a defensive measure that would only be used if the system were under attack and could not otherwise be protected. But the involvement of sponsor Sen. Joe Lieberman, who favors restrictions on civil liberties in support of the so-called war on terror, suggested otherwise.

There are also plans afoot within the Obama administration for an Internet ID card, somewhat akin to the demands for a forge-proof national identity document that is being promoted as a tool against terrorism and illegal immigration. To make the national ID card functional, a great deal of new information would be required to make it safe against fraud. The new information would certainly include biometrics of the bearer, but it would also mean registration of residence and workplace as well as marital status.

It is not clear how all the personal information would be protected. Experience suggests that even countries that have national ID cards, such as Germany and China, still have immigration and terrorism problems, and it has proven impossible to identify a single instance in which a national ID card actually was instrumental in identifying a terrorist or impeding a terrorist act. So much for the national ID, but it would certainly be a great new opening for taxpayer supported government jobs and would create an enormous new database of information on hundreds of millions of American citizens.

An Internet ID card would, at a stroke, eliminate the anonymity of the Internet, reducing its viability as a center for free discussion and information sharing. That is precisely what the promoters of the ID are seeking to do — essentially establishing accountability and government regulation of a medium that has lacked those attributes. Internet servers in Germany already are required to retain records for six months, and computers and users are required to register.

That is also true to a lesser extent in many countries in Europe, including Italy and France. There have also been calls to tax the Internet, which would effectively bring in the same controls. A government-issued ID or the authority to tax based on use would dramatically change the nature of the Internet, as it would open the door for the government to monitor how people use the medium and how they communicate. If the American people think it can’t happen here, they are dead wrong. Every action taken by the U.S. government over the past 10 years has resulted in restrictions on freedom, underlying the irony of Washington representing itself as the source of Internet freedom.

Two other recent news articles explore the nature of the threat coming directly out of the Obama administration. The first described how the FBI has formed a secret surveillance unit that will be developing and employing new technologies to monitor communications nationwide and in real time. The center is referred to as the Domestic Communications Assistance Center, as good a euphemism for government snooping as has ever existed. Congress has funded the center with $54 million, and the Bureau reportedly has warned companies such as Facebook that they should not oppose impending legislation that will permit the FBI to operate a technological back door in their software that will enable the government to monitor their members’ communications.

And for those who are still skeptics, the second article demonstrates that the cyberwar is already here. The New York Times reports that the Obama administration has been waging aggressive cyberwar against Iran since 2008, complete with the creation of sophisticated Stuxnet and Flame viruses in government labs that have spread to personal and business computers worldwide. The program, which began under President George W. Bush, was accelerated by Obama after he took office, similar to his orders to increase the numbers of drone attacks in Pakistan. Lest anyone be confused by what is taking place, the computer attacks are undeniably an act of war without any declaration of war.

But the pièce de résistance for the week has to be a seemingly unrelated story about the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor for a civilian, to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who famously stated that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions was “worth it.” President Obama, in a White House ceremony, honored Albright because her “courage and toughness helped bring peace to the Balkans and paved the way for progress in some of the most unstable corners of the world.”

He said it with a straight face, and, more frighteningly, he might actually have believed what he was saying. If there was ever a blatant example of U.S. government hypocrisy, this was it: a mass murderer presenting a medal to another mass murderer. Wage war for humanitarian reasons but kill the children. Promote the freedom of the Internet but secretly make it a weapon of war and figure out how to shut it down. All in a day’s work in the Imperial City.

The American exceptionalism being boasted about by Republicans and Democrats alike is at the root of aberrant political class behavior, visible to anyone who cares to look. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, but in today’s America even the man with one eye is lacking. It is clear to the world that there is no limit to Washington’s hypocrisy, but the media and Congress march briskly forward with the White House promoting a policy of war by other means all the time and everywhere. It is a recipe for disaster, which has already borne fruit in terms of lost liberties, a shattered economy, and a sharp decline in most countries’ respect for the American government and people.

That a president can declare secret war on a country that does not threaten it, that the federal government can create mechanisms to attack the entire world electronically while at the same time making plans for depriving its own people of the ability to share ideas and thoughts freely is disgraceful. And awarding the highest civilian medal to a self-proclaimed baby killer who epitomizes the decay of our republic should be a moment of shame rather than celebration.

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Maurice Joly Plagiarized “Protocols of Zion” (not vice-versa)

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joly1.jpg

(image: Maurice Joly 1821-1879)

By Henry Makow Ph.D.

It is forbidden to mention  the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (1905) without the Disclaimer that, of course, they are a “forgery” of Maurice Joly’s “Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu” (1864.)

The assumption is that since Protocols appeared some 40 years after Dialogue, it plagiarized the earlier work. But I will suggest that Protocols actually predated Dialogue and Joly borrowed from it. In other words, far from being an anti-Semitic ruse, the “Protocols of Zion” are authentic.

I have already argued that the two documents are neither similar nor derivative, although they have some lines and words in common. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is essentially a brilliant Master Plan for tyranny, i.e. the New World Order. It is the key to understanding our present predicament. (This is not a condemnation of all Jews, only the nucleus of bankers and high-level Masons directing this diabolical war against the human race.)

“Dialogue in Hell” was a veiled Masonic Jewish attack on Napoleon III, an example of how they championed liberalism to undermine the Old Order and usurp power, as described in the Protocols themselves. (The author of Protocols is contemptuous of liberalism and all egalitarian programs. They are just gimmicks to manipulate the masses.)

Reading Kerry Bolton’s monograph “The Protocols of Zion In Context” (Renaissance Press, 2003) it became obvious that Joly was plagiarizing from The Protocols and not vice-versa.

Joly, a Jew whose real name was Joseph Levy, was a lifelong Mason and member of the “Lodge of Mizraim” where the Protocols document originated. He was the protege of Adolph Cremieux (Isaac Moise Cremieux 1796-1880) the head of the lodge and a Minister in the Jewish-backed government of Leon Gambetta.

The plot is described in the Protocols as “centuries-old.” It most likely predates “Dialogue.” Joly was well versed in the Protocols and borrowed from it to flesh out the unpopular authoritarian position of Machiavelli, which he ascribed to Napoleon III.

Joly, who committed suicide in 1879, was in the habit of “borrowing.” He is accused of plagiarizing a popular novel by Eugene Sue, namely “Les Mystères du Paris.” (1845) Also his work is predated by another of Cremieux’s proteges, Jacob Venedy,  entitled, “Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Rousseau.” (1850)

In 1884 Mme. Justine Glinka, the daughter of a Russian General living in Paris, hired Joseph Schorst, a member of Joly’s  Mizraim Lodge to obtain sensitive information.  For the sum of 2500 francs, Schorst provided Glinka with “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” He was subsequently tracked down and murdered in Egypt.

The Tsarist government, already heavily infiltrated, sat on the document. Glinka subsequently gave it to a friend who passed it on to Professor Sergius A. Nilus who published it for the first time in 1901.

After the Bolshevik Revolution, Nilus was arrested in Kiev in 1924 ,imprisoned and tortured. The President of the Court told him he had “done them incalculable harm in publishing the Protocols.” (“Waters Flowing Eastward” by Paquita de Shishmareff, 1999, pp.74-76.)

CONCLUSION

If your plan for World Domination leaked out, what would you do? Would you admit it? “You got me! My bad!”

No, you’d employ an army of ciphers to convince everyone the document is a hoax motivated by “prejudice” and “anti-Semitism.” They have executed this “damage control” perfectly, a measure of their power to deceive even in the presence of the truth.

This is the only Conspiracy that has prevailed in spite of the Blueprint being freely available. It demonstrates the credulity (or venality) of the intelligentsia and the masses.

They have colonized our minds first. We cannot name our oppressor for fear of being accused of “anti-Semitism.” It’s as though Black slaves working on cotton plantations were taught it was “racist” or “prejudiced” to mention the White slave driver. Since the majority of Jews are ignorant of this plot, and are manipulated like everyone else, racism is a ploy to divert attention from a very dire problem.

The Illuminati (top-rung Masonic Jews and their non-Jewish allies) have distributed some wealth and power to the masses (liberalism, socialism) as a way of securing ultimate power for themselves. According to the Protocols, they will eventually withdraw these benefits once their “invisible government” is invincible. The “war on terror” should be seen in this context.

In my view, “Protocols Deniers” are complicit in this Conspiracy, which is responsible for most human suffering and will lead to a great deal more. As a Jew, I don’t want this responsibility on my head, or on other innocent Jews or Masons.

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Roll 300 Heads And Save Pakistan!

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“The nations are born in the hearts of the poets; they prosper and die in the hands of the politicians.”  Dr Allama Iqbal

By Raja G Mujtaba

Today looking at Pakistan, one is hurt to the bones. The spine begins to shiver and squeak but the pain and the hurt does not subside. Observing more of these Aristotle’s that we have been lumped dropping their wisdom makes one sink to the bottom of the heart. Today there is not a single institution that is viable; name anyone that would appear to be the worst of all. People are dying of hunger, insecurity; jobs are dying out like an epidemic as if plagued for want of electricity, gas, finances etc.

Nasir Sherazi in his two TV Talks as anchor discussed the issue at length that have been placed at the end of the article.

Neither the government nor the opposition is showing any concern. The whole lot looks like a mafia in alliance to plunder and slander. Railways, steel mill, National Airline, power generation, gas etc. all have been made to crumble. Today if a war breaks out, Pakistan Railways is not in a position to move the strategic and reserve forces and ammunition etc. to the destinations. It has been killed very effectively that nothing moves. While there is installed capacity of 22,000 MWs, only 8000 MWs are being produced against a demand of 15,000 MWs. PIA, once a hallmark of Pakistan that conceived and delivered a dozen or so other lines is today rotting and surviving on life support. All being done with an objective, to weaken and make Pakistan vulnerable to outside forces.

On the political horizon, all parties have formed an alliance to run the government; at the same time are also working in alliance to sow deeper wedges amongst the various provinces and ethnic communities to create all sorts of rifts. The strange part is that all these parties have joined hands as partners to run the government. This double standards and hypocrisy is beyond comprehension.

Judiciary is being tossed around, its being scandalized and vandalized none of their judgments are being honored, in fact the government makes sure that when a verdict comes against someone in power, that convict is given a higher or a better post to show a complete defiance of the judiciary. If judiciary that is the last hope of the aggrieved is ridiculed and made fun of then the people lose complete faith not only in the system but in the state as well.

All this is being done as part of a given agenda by the foreign masters. Our politicians like stooges and puppets are busy carrying it out with utmost devotion like a divine commandment. In fact they go and bid higher stakes so that the foreign masters accept them in the seats of power in Pakistan. How very terrifying is this, entire target killings, sectarian and ethnic killings are on the rise with complete impunity to the people in power.

When all other means fail people talk of revolutions; revolutions do not take place to get rid of the corrupt, incompetent and treacherous rulers only but also to quench the venom that gets accumulated over a period of time. It becomes a necessary surgery to rid the main body of the diseased part before it eats the entire body for the recovery and rehabilitation of the society. A major factor for people to revolt is the apathy and disconnect of the ruling class that claims to be the representatives of the people are in fact serving their own interests.

 

Nasir Sherazi – Anchor

 

The present ruling elite that comprises of feudal and the business mafia (inclusive of all those who remain in the corridors of power), is both corrupt and treacherous; are in fact the pawns in the game, dancing to the tune of the Zionists and only enhancing their agenda to secure their grip on power. One such agenda is that they invariably target the Army. Targeting Army is a priority of the Zionists who know that Pakistan Army is not only very professional but a patriotic force that stands in the top armies of the world. Qudrat Ullah Shahab, a former bureaucrat who was spiritually enlightened wrote in his book that enemies of Pakistan have concluded that to defeat Pakistan, it’s imperative to demonize Pakistan army in the eyes of its people; without doing so, Pakistan can never be defeated. Here it must be understood by all those who are out to criticize the army that they are harping and dancing on the tunes of the enemy.

In Pakistan, it’s the feudalistic political mafia that is in the forefront. Why this class does not like the Army in particular and the Defence Services in general is very simple to understand. The Defence Forces of Pakistan come from a middle and lower middle class segment, are well trained and educated who can standup to any occasion to defend the country. The very first C-in-C of Pakistan Army Field Marsha Ayub Khan was a son of a JCO and so is the present Chief. In between the two, many names can be counted. They also have the courage to question any political figure of the country that none other have. The feudal feel that army is a threat to their domain hence they spare no occasion to attack the Defence services of Pakistan. It would be wrong to say that Army has not done any wrongs but then those were few individuals and not the institution. In such a case, those individuals must be taken to task but not at the cost of the institution of the Army.

Almost all the feudal belonged to the Unionist Party notoriously known as the Toadies; Toadie is a relocating virus-worm that keeps relocating itself on new preys. True to their genetic traits, the toadies have been moving from one party to another, they have no ideology or commitment to the nation; all they are concerned about is their hold on the power. These Toadies were against the creation of Pakistan, by their very nature, they feel very comfortable in serving their foreign masters. Each one of them who aspire to hold an office of authority in Pakistan goes for a series of Washington yatras (or sometimes go to London) where besides meeting the US administration from a doorman to the president of the US, also hob nob with AIPAC, the power brokers in the US. They get their blessings only once they have committed to work as an extension to the AIPAC global agenda.

The Zionists never keep their eggs in one basket but they place a number of baskets in every country more so in Muslim world. Pakistan being an ideological nuclear power has drawn special focus from the Zionists. Here every party, be it a pure political party or a religious one, has Zionist influence to some degree. Presently all the parties in alliance and PML-N are all on board. This Zionist influence has become more pronounced since 911. They dictate with arrogance and extract whatever they wish to. With the coming in of General Kayani and General Pasha as head of ISI they did stem the rot but still lot more needs to be done.

 

Dr Moghis

 

Feudal would never let Pakistan settle to a smooth sail. Pakistan’s real problem is the feudal class that deprives the poor of their basic rights. They have large land holdings in Southern Punjab and upper Sind, where their tillers are like slave prisoners. These not so human beings are made to sit on their haunches when the feudal lord talks to them or else keep standing in their rags and no shoes to wear.

Revolutions are no fun; these are never a cup of tea with a piece of cake. Revolutions more than often turn into violence, where blood fills the streets chaos prevails unless it’s well directed and managed from a much higher platform than meager personal agendas. Personal agendas unlike in present so called democratic rule never gain popularity with the masses.

The present unrest in Pakistan is part of a game plan that is being fully endorsed and activated by the Ziono-Hindutwa agents in Pakistan. The leadership of all the above mentioned parties has their deep roots with this menace out to destroy the world peace.

Revolutions and democracy have only one factor in common and that’s support of the masses. Democracy has the beauty to translate personal objectives of the leaders into a mass demand and then enslave them. Revolutions destroy the hurdles and impediments that deprive the people of fair play and collective welfare.

A revolutionary leader would invariably live the life of the masses, Imam Khomeini

In Pakistan, revolution was never such a buzz word as it is today. People on the streets or in their private conversations all are talking revolution in Pakistan. The recent Arab Spring that has toppled the longest ruling dictator Hosni Mobarak has inspired people in the other countries to get rid of the corrupt and the treacherous rulers or the ruling class.

In Pakistan, the politics is controlled and dominated by the feudal or the filthy rich belonging to mafias who rule the country. The so called democratic politics is the sport of the Feudal who want to enslave the poor through this trap. They do not want any challenge to their authority from the educated middle class. These feudal are the agents of the Foreign Masters; hence they have no sympathy for the poor or the country.

Feudal would never let Pakistan settle to a smooth sail. Pakistan’s real problem is the feudal class that deprives the poor of their basic rights.

The present regime headed by Zardari and Gillani have shown a strong arrogance and shamelessness towards the people and the country. They have plundered in broad daylight and flouted all institutional norms and values of good governance. They have openly defied the orders of the epic court not one but on several occasions.

While talking to Scott Rickard, an American who looks for the truth to its maximum said,“Incredible organizational success. Iceland actually unified against the government, removed all current political officials, held new elections and subsequently created and adopted a new constitution that was ratified by the people. After that, bankers and politicians were arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated. And finally, the national debt and even a great amount of personal debt were repudiated.”

He further stated, “(Syriza) in Greece is another emerging political organization that may be one to watch. It has a lot of similar goals that worked for Iceland. Problem is that NATO and its British, French, Swedish and American masters will likely interfere with the sovereignty of Greece due to both historical and geopolitical influences in the region. Pakistan will face similar challenges.

Financial globalists would be ruined by further nations following Iceland’s initiatives.”

According to Scott, breaking the deceptive media that has been carefully constructed for centuries will result in a revolution (peaceful) that humans have not experienced. We are the minutemen of that revolution.

We’ll know that humans have adopted informational efficiency when truthful independent information sources become more prevalent and trustworthy than established financial, state, corporate, and military run information sources.

Informational efficiency is the degree to which perception correctly and quickly reflects information and thus the true value of underlying resources. The extent to which the value of resources reflect all information available. People disagree on information and resources all the time. Followers of an efficient information theory agree that perception efficiently deals with all information on a given subject matter must be considered to achieve objectivity, and that biased analysis or speculative assumptions are useless. On the other hand, the primary observation of behavioral analysis holds true that people often make decisions on imprecise impressions and beliefs, rather than rational analysis, rendering information incredibly somewhat inefficient to the extent that it is asymmetrically affected by people.

Nasir Sherazi, the anchor expressed that if 30,000 heads are rolled, Pakistan would have peace for 300 years. Killing or hanging someone is not the objective, what is desired is that quick improvements must be brought in else people are demanding that heads must roll. Once they take to the streets, then nothing would contain them; it would be a wildfire. But one thing is for sure that these toadies have to be sidelined from body-politic.

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No end in sight: Occupation marks 45th anniversary

NOVANEWS

Noam Sheizaf

 

IDF Hawara Checkpoint, June 2006 (photo: Magne Hagesæter)

Today, June 5, Israel marks a double anniversary: 45 years since the Six-Day War and 30 years since the first Lebanon War. The name of the latter is misleading – the war took place in Lebanon, but it was yet another attempt to solve our “Palestinian problem” by force. Israel conquered most of its neighbor to the north (including the capital), installed a puppet leader as president, and forced the PLO to sail all the way to Tunis. But the plan failed. Five years later, a popular unarmed revolt broke out in Gaza and spread to the West Bank. A little over a decade after the occupation of Beirut, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat entered Gaza.

Last weekend, Israeli newspapers devoted most of their pages to the Lebanon war. Yet its obvious lesson – that the Palestinian issue cannot be resolved by force, nor can it be made to disappear – was hardly discussed. Nor was any reference made to the Six-Day War’s anniversary. Israelis have all but forgotten the Palestinians. The longest military occupation in the world is entering its 46th year amidst a deafening silence.

A segregated street in Hebron. Palestinian are allowed only on the left side (photo: activestills.org)

The Palestinians are not the only people in the world who lack an independent state. Yet there is one fundamental difference between the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and, let’s say, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, not to mention the situation of the Basques in Spain or the Kurds in Turkey (both examples are often cited as comparisons by the Israeli right). In all of those cases, the “occupying” country annexed the territory at hand and turned the people living in it – sometimes against their will – into its citizens. Israel never did that. It let the army run the occupied territory. The Israeli occupation is also different from the American occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, because Israel has a claim to the land it conquered, because it is using the natural resources of this land, and because it moves the Jewish population into the occupied territory.

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is therefore a unique phenomenon. Between one-quarter and one half of the population under Israeli control (the exact number depends on how you estimate of the size of Palestinian population, and whether you count Gaza or not) does not enjoy the most basic of civil rights or any political representation within the regime that controls it. Israel is a decent democracy for its Jewish citizens. For Palestinians, it’s a brutal dictatorship.

PM Shamir’s motorcade driving through one of the streets of Gaza City, 1988 (photo: Ayalon Maggai /GPO)

I was born in 1974, seven and a half years after Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza. I remember the day workers from the Territories standing in street corners early in the morning, waiting to be picked up. Later, Israeli singer Ehud Banai wrote a popular song about the Palestinians who are building Tel Aviv. Today, Palestinians are not allowed west of the Green Line. Instead, they are building houses for Jews in the settlements.

In one of my grandfather’s visit to Israel, he rented a car (we didn’t own one) and took us on a trip to the West Bank. I was fascinated  by the Jordanian products in the local groceries, including cans of 7up, which wasn’t sold in Israel. With time, as Israel took control of the Palestinian economy, they were replaced by products of the large Israeli manufacturers.

My first time in the Territories as a soldier was on the day the Oslo Accord was signed. During my mandatory service, I was stationed in and around Gaza, Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and especially Hebron (in between, there were also a couple of tours in south Lebanon). When I look back at my experiences, I feel that most people don’t understand the occupation. You need to actually be there in order to feel it. And once you do, it stays with you, one way or another.

The regime Israel has imposed on the Palestinians is not the most murderous in the world, and certainly not in history (a recent exception being the war in Gaza). The most striking element is not the level of violence Israel employs against the Palestinians, but the level of control it exercises.

The life of every Palestinian in the West Bank is at the mercy of any soldier he or she meets. We are talking millions of people, who haven’t got the most basic protections that civilians everywhere enjoy. All Palestinians are tried by military tribunals, where the prosecution and the judges wear the same uniform – that of the IDF. Palestinians are not allowed to travel outside the West Bank without an army permit. They are subject to long lines at checkpoints and to arbitrary searches whenever they meet a soldier. Soldiers enter Palestinian homes at any time – day or night – without a warrant. When a Palestinian is wronged by a soldier, there is little point in filing a complaint, as the army doesn’t have the checks and balances a civilian authority has. Palestinians are not just Israelis with lesser rights; they are more like the prisoners of Israelis. I know this, because I have seen the occupation in action and I have been directly involved in it.

And the worst thought of all: A Palestinian man my age has not been free for a single day in his life.

Palestinian children, Hebron 1997. The fact that I was in uniform when I took this picture is evident in the children’s eyes (photo: Noam Sheizaf)

If that’s not enough, there are the settlements. The first one was born less than a year after the Six-Day War, with the blessing of most of the Zionist left. Contrary to popular belief, there was never a real argument in Israel over the settlements, only over the location, the nature and the size of them. In the eyes of the consensus, colonizing East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza was fair game. The result: there are over half a million Jews east of the Green Line today.

Israel’s democratic institutions took part in the decision. At some point in the late 70s, Israel decided that all the state land in the Territories is available for it to use. Government offices facilitated construction of homes for Jews in the West Bank, the Supreme Court approved confiscation of land and the widespread use of Palestinian natural resources – at times, it even approved confiscating privately owned land – and the Knesset voted overwhelmingly in support on the rare occasions such matters even reached the Knesset.

The worst turn of events took place under the Oslo Accord. The agreement divided the West Bank into three areas, the largest being under full Israeli control. The idea was that a permanent agreement under which the occupation would be terminated would be signed in six years, but it never was. So instead of letting Oslo expire, Israel made another brilliant move – it began acting as if Area C (the one under Israeli control) was officially handed to it. Today Israel builds roads, even new neighborhoods, commercial spaces and culture centers in the West Bank, while pushing the Palestinian population from those areas to the crowded cities and villages (a good graphic of the land allocation can be found here). Hundreds of “illegal” Palestinian homes are being destroyed every year, and no permits for new ones are given. This systematic displacement and confiscation has been taking place for almost half a century. The problem with the settlements is not the settlers. It’s the state.

An IDF post inside a Palestinian home (photo: Breaking the Silence)

In recent years, the occupation has reached its most sophisticated level. It is the greatest national project Israel has launched. The best and the brightest take part in it: the high-tech industry invents new means of control and supervision over the local population (the army has become so good at this job, that Israel has exported much of the knowledge it gained in the West Bank and Gaza to other occupying countries); the best legal scholars come up with loopholes to allow the ongoing confiscation of assets and deprivation of rights; and the most skilled diplomats are taking part in a propaganda war meant to convince the world that the Palestinians are to blame for the occupation. Astonishingly, the international community is buying this nonsense, treating what is basically a massive-scale human rights violation as if it was a remote border dispute between two sovereign nations.

____________

Recently, I attended a meeting with a group of scholars and elected officials from a European country. They were genuinely full of good will, upset by the deadlock, concerned for both sides and asking what could be done, suggesting joint civil society projects and other trust-building measures which could “bring Israelis and Palestinians together.” But such efforts are bound to fail on every level, and lately, I have begun to think that they do more to maintain the occupation than to help end it. Meetings between Israelis and Palestinians might look promising to an outsider, but they continue to feel awkward and staged, because the two sides are unequal, one possessing all the privileges and the other not having even basic human rights. The prisoners should not be expected to make friends with their guards, even if those are the nicest prisoners, and the best-intentioned of guards.

There is another, more fundamental problem: The status quo is good for Israelis and bad for Palestinians. I say that as an Israeli who wants to continue enjoying the great life this country can offer to (some of) its citizens. With both solutions – one state or two states – being so costly and dangerous, keeping things as they are seems like the best option for Israeli decision-makers. As long as the Israeli government has the power to maintain the status quo, it will. Most of the Israeli public agrees, and the international community is not willing to spend any political capital on changing its mind. Rightwing politicians here and in the United States are selling the public fantasies, as if it’s possible to keep the West Bank forever or give the Palestinian the right to vote for the Jordanian parliament or “an enhanced autonomy,” or other similar ideas which are just code names for Apartheid. Under such circumstances, debates on solutions are a meaningless intellectual exercise. There is truly no end in sight.

West Bank checkpoint, November 2007 (photo: Chris Yunker / flickr)

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The Zionist Puppet Brother$ Abb-A$$

NOVANEWS

Are the sons of the Palestinian president growing rich off their father’s system?

BY JONATHAN SCHANZER

In the wake of the Arab Spring, U.S. leaders have promised to reverse the United States’ long reliance on autocratic, unrepresentative leaders who enrich themselves at the expense of their citizens. There’s only one problem: Just as top American officials have been making these lofty promises, new details are emerging of how close family members of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abb-A$$, a major U.S. partner in the Middle East, have grown wealthy. Have they enriched themselves at the expense of regular Palestinians — and even U.S. taxpayers?

Abb-A$$’$ wealth recently became a source of controversy during the investigation of Mohammed Rachid, an economic advisor to the late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, in a high-profile corruption probe. Last month, Palestinian officials charged Rachid with siphoning off millions of dollars in public funds; his trial is set to begin on June 7.

According to a former Palestinian advisor, Abbas holds a grudge against Rachid dating back to the peace talks during the waning days of the Clinton era. In that intense period, Rachid was an advocate of working with Israel to find a solution, while Abb-A$ called diplomacy a “trap that was laid for us.” Abbas also resented Rachid because he was an Iraqi Kurd — not even a Palestinian — who had gained Arafat’s trust and was part of his inner circle, while Abbas was on the outside looking in. “There was a huge amount of jealousy,” the former advisor said.

With his back up against a wall, Rachid has now fired back at the Palestinian president with claims that Abbas himself has socked away $100 million in ill-gotten gains.

In stalking Rachid, whether or not the charges have merit, Abbas may have opened up a Pandora’s box. The conspicuous wealth of Abb-A$$’$ own sons, Yasser and Tarek, has become a source of quiet controversy in Palestinian society since at least 2009, when Reuters first published a series of articles tying the sons to several business deals, including a few that had U.S. taxpayer support.

Yasser, the elder son, graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Washington State University in 1983 and carries both Palestinian and Canadian passports. According to his biography (where he goes by the alias Yasser Mahmoud), he worked for a variety of Gulf contracting firms from the 1980s until the mid-1990s before returning to Ramallah in 1997 to launch businesses of his own.

Yasser now owns Falcon Tobacco, which reportedly enjoys a monopoly on the sale of U.S.-made cigarettes in the Palestinian territories. According to the Toronto Star, Yasser also chairs Falcon Holding Group, a Palestinian corporate conglomerate that owns Falcon Electrical Mechanical Contracting Company (also called Falcon Electro Mechanical Contracting Company, or FEMC), an engineering interest that was established in 2000 and boasts offices in Gaza, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the West Bank. This business success has come with a helping hand from Uncle Sam: According to a Reuters report, Abbas’s company received $1.89 million from USAID in 2005 to build a sewage system in the West Bank town of Hebron.

According to Yasser’s biography, other arms of Falcon Holding Group include Falcon Global Telecommunication Services Company and Falcon General Investment Company, companies about which less is known. Through the Falcon companies, Yasser boasted to an Emirati magazine in 2009 that the companies’ revenues total some $35 million per year.

And the Falcon group doesn’t even account for everything. Yasser is listed by the New York-based financial information database CreditRiskMonitor.com as the chairman of the publicly traded Al-Mashreq Insurance Company, with 11 offices across the Palestinian territories. The company is valued on the Palestinian stock exchange at $3.25 million.

Finally, Yasser serves as managing director of the First Option Project Construction Management Company, whose website suggests that it does a great deal of public works projects, such as road and school construction, on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. First Option employs at least 15 people in offices in Amman, Tunis, Cairo, Montenegro, and Ramallah. This enterprise also benefited from the U.S. government’s financial support: As Reuters reported, First Option was awarded nearly $300,000 in USAID funds between 2005 and 2008.

The president’s son is certainly entitled to do business in the Palestinian territories. But the question is whether his lineage is his most important credential — a concern bolstered by the fact that he has occasionally served in an official capacity for the Palestinian Authority. In 2008, Yasser reportedly visited Kazakhstan as a special envoy, and according to a former Bush administration official, he “regularly accompanies his father on official travel.”

Tarek Abb-A$$ appears less inclined than his older brother to take part in the political aspect of the Palestinian cause, but is just as ambitious in the business world. His online biography indicates that he followed in the footsteps of his older brother, working in the same Gulf contracting firms, as well as a trading company in Tunis during the early 1990s.

Today, he appears to be a successful entrepreneur. His principal enterprise, Sky Advertising, had 40 employees and $7.5 million in sales in 2010. And once again, the firm has worked with the U.S. government: Reuters reported in 2009 that Sky received a modest grant of approximately $1 million in USAID funds to bolster public opinion of the United States in the Palestinian territories.

The younger Abb-A$$ is also g Clisted by the Arab Palestinian Investment Company (APIC), as the vice chairman of “Arab Shopping Centers.” This is presumably shorthand for Arab Palestinian Shoppinenter Company, valued on the Palestine Exchange at $4.2 million. The company, a project of APIC, now has two shopping centers, three supermarkets, and two indoor play facilities in the West Bank.

APIC is an economic juggernaut in the West Bank. In 2010, the company had more than $338 million in revenues. The company lists Tarek Abbas’s Sky Advertising on its roster, as well as the Ramallah-based Unipal General Trading Company, where Tarek sits on the board. Unipal, which has 4,500 retail outlets in the Palestinian territories, distributes consumer goods to Palestinians, including products from Philip Morris Tobacco, Procter & Gamble, and Keebler.

Since the Arab Spring began in late 2010 and early 2011, the Abb-A$$ brothers have largely dropped out of sight in the West Bank. Where have they gone? According to an article written by Rachid on the staunchly anti-Abb-A$ website InLight Press, the family owns lavish properties worth more than $20 million in Gaza, Jordan, Qatar, Ramallah, Tunisia, and the UAE.

Of course, the Abb-A$$ brothers’ absence doesn’t mean that Palestinians will forget. On a research trip to Ramallah last year, several Palestinians told me that the Abb-A$$ family dynasty is common knowledge. However, discussion of the issue rarely rises above a whisper — thanks to growing fear of retribution by PA security officers, who have apprehended journalists and citizens for openly challenging President Abb-A$$ authority.

At a time when the sons of Arab strongmen are under scrutiny, the questions surrounding the Abb-A$$ brothers will not go away. Indeed, the Arab public continues to demand accountability from its leaders — and the upcoming Rachid trial will only bring this controversy closer to Ramallah.

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