Archive | December 9th, 2017

Jerusalem: The Red Line for Muslims

To Netanyahu it is Yerushalayim (city of peace) in Yiddish; to Muslims it is Bayt Al-Maqdis (the house of peace). To Google and now to Trump Jerusalem (city of peace) is the capital of Israel.

On December 7, 2017 Yeni Safak, a conservative Turkish daily newspaper and strong supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reported Erdoğan as saying that Trump’s Jerusalem step ‘will throw the region into a ring of fire’, ‘Trump’s declaration aims to stir up the region, not to bring peace,’ and that “Jerusalem, Mr. Trump, is the red line for Muslims”. No empty words from a NATO partner and a country that has recognized Israel.

“It is not possible to understand what Trump wants to achieve,” Erdoğan said in the capital Ankara before leaving for a visit to Greece.

“The (US) announcement has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in” Federika Mogherini, EU Foreign Policy chief added.

She shared German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s sentiments that the European Union had a “clear and united position” on the issue:

“We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states and with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”

On December 7, 2017 Newsweek reported Iran says Arabs and Muslims must defend Jerusalem as rockets target IsraelLike Turkey, Iran has demonstrated its resolve on several occasions that it is a country with a leadership that is not impotent. Iran’s military chief of staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri stated on Press TV

The world of arrogance, and foremost the criminal U.S., should know that the unity of the Muslim world will obstruct this desperate move and will be defeated with the vigilance of the Muslim world.

Unity? Is that possible?

A statement from nuclear Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s office stated

It is deeply regrettable that pleas from states across the globe not to alter the legal and historical status of Al Quds Al Sharif have been ignored, more out of choice than necessity.”

Even Trump’s closest Middle East ally Saudi Arabia has ostracized President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling the move “unjustified and irresponsible”. The statement added that

“The kingdom has already warned of the serious consequences of such an unjustified and irresponsible move.”

But Saudi agenda is to block Iran, not Israel.

Probably the strongest message that the Islamic countries should send is voiced by the Chairman of Indonesia’s Youth Association of Nahdlatul Ulama (IPNU), Irfan Mujahid:

“Expel the US ambassador (to Indonesia) if he ignores this demand.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo also called on Muslim countries to unite and reject the US move.

So there are four strong Muslim nations Turkey, Iran, Indonesia and Pakistan (I’m always wary of Egyptian intentions) with formidable militaries and a collective population of over 600 million voicing their opposition designating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital against the UN resolution 478 of August 20, 1980.

The OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) comprising 57 nations will be convening an extraordinary summit for Muslim leaders on December 12-13 in Istanbul to “discuss the repercussions of the American decision, and to formulate a unified Islamic position on this dangerous escalation.” Is a unified Islamic position possible?

The key question that needs to be addressed is one posed by Erdogan: what does Trump want to achieve by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Only then can the consequences of Trump’s decision be taken for discussion and whether it’ll result in Erdogan’s ring of fire in the region.

I posed a question on my recent article on Oriental Review if Trump is unpredictable, senile or juvenile?  It seems from opinions of several political and media analysts who know him enough that he truly is all three. His decision to recognize Jerusalem therefore comes as no surprise. But behind these attributes may lay a cunning plot which may well be the genius of Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump wants to make America great and therein is his genius for an irrational war.

As the sun begins to set on any empire, and the most classical ones have been the Roman and British, there develops desperation to somehow keep the sun from setting. The empire’s leadership starts fragmenting and the rationale that made a nation an empire starts to crumble.

America has witnessed no threat from its Muslims citizens as the vast majority have contributed their professional and business talents towards making it great. However, Trump is not willing to accept the contributions of all immigrants including Muslims, Chinese, and Mexicans or even the contributions of his predecessor of Afro-American origin. He favors the alt-Right group as the true contributors. He sees the Muslims, most specifically, within its borders as well as outside as the threat to America in a manner similar to the Germanic tribes that threatened the Roman Empire under the able leadership of Emperor Marcus Aurelius till his son Commodus began the Roman descent. Trump shares the fear of Muslims with Netanyahu.

Trump has thus far failed to drive a wedge between the Shias and Sunnis or between Arabs. The rationale of Trump to making America great is a war-the ring of fire in the region. Trump is not going to backtrack his decision so what responses can be expected from the Islamic leaders following the OIC summit?

If Jerusalem is the red line for Muslims, how do they intend to address it? Will they blink and open up the opportunity for Trump to enforce his decision leading other nations to follow in recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel?

Or will the Muslims unite on the Jerusalem platform? Trump is expecting the Muslims to capitulate and his hopes are pinned among the weaker ones Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Jordan who are fully capable of upsetting the proverbial apple cart and dissent with the stronger nations Turkey, Pakistan and Iran whose actions are needed for Palestinians (including Hezbollah) to continue their struggle.

OIC countries may demonstrate at the Istanbul summit they’re united but historically they’ve always been splintered. It is something that Netanyahu is aware of. They cannot speak with one voice and there is no leadership except venom within their ranks. Most importantly the OIC summit must not show any willingness to negotiate on the position of Jerusalem within the framework of UN resolution 478 because that would be seen as weakness which can easily be exploited by Trump and Netanyahu. In fact the only solution that should be a part of the final OIC communique is the member countries are willing to be prepared for the ring of fire in the region if the US will not retract its decision. If the OIC leaders proffer that unity then Trump and Netanyahu are doomed.

The outcome of the OIC summit will be carefully watched by both Russia and China whose support is critical for Muslims.

 

 

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Syria – ISIS Is Defeated – The U.S. Is Next in Line

NOVANEWS
 

The Islamic State in Syrian and Iraq is officially defeated. The UN resolution which allowed other countries to fight ISIS within Syria and Iraq no longer applies. But the U.S. military, despite the lack of any legal basis, wants to continue its occupation of Syria’s north-east. The attempt to do so will fail. Its Kurdish allies in the area are already moving away from it and now prefer Russian protection. Guerrilla forces to fight the U.S. “presence” are being formed. The U.S. plan is shortsighted and stupid. If the U.S. insists on staying there many of its soldiers will die.

Two days ago the Syrian Arab Army closed the last gaps on the west bank of the Euphrates. Having fought all the way from Aleppo along the river towards the east the Tiger Force reached the liberated Deir Ezzor from the west. All settlements on the way are now controlled by the Syrian government. The remaining Islamic State fighters were pushed into the desert where they will be hunted down and killed.

Map via Southfront

Two days ago the president of Russia, Vladimir Putindeclared a “complete victory” in Syria:

“Two hours ago, the (Russian) defense minister reported to me that the operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates have been completed with the total rout of the terrorists,” Putin said.“Naturally, there could still be some pockets of resistance, but overall the military work at this stage and on this territory is completed with, I repeat, the total rout of the terrorists,” he said.

Today the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory and the ‘end of the war’ against ISIS on the Iraqi side:

Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh (IS),” Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.

North of the Euphrates the U.S. proxy force SDF had recently negotiated another agreement (42) with the remaining Islamic State fighters there. ISIS allegedly handed over a border crossing with Iraq to the SDF and in exchange was guaranteed free passage through SDF controlled areas. This agreement came after an earlier one in which the U.S. and SDF let 3,500 ISIS fighters flee from Raqqa to fight the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor. That was a U.S. attempt to delay or prevent the victory of Syria and its allies. It failed.

Shortly after the claimed new ceasefire between the U.S. SDF proxies and ISIS, Russian officers met with officials of the Kurdish YPG, the central force of the SDF. The talks completely changed the situation. In a joint press conference the Kurds and the Russians committed to work together to fight ISIS east of the Euphrates. It seems that the YPG is no longer convinced that the U.S. is willing to do so. The Russians took command and the Russian air forces has since supported the YPG in its fight against ISIS in Deir Ezzor governate on the eastern bank of the river:

“A joint operative staff has been created in the town of Es-Salhiya to provide direct control and organize the cooperation with the popular militia units. Apart from Russian advisors, representatives of the eastern Euphrates tribes are taken part in it,” Poplavskiy said, noting that in the “coming days” the entire territory east of Euphrates River will be free from terrorists.Mahmoud Nuri, a representative of the Kurdish YPG, stated that the militia “battled ISIS under Russian command very effectively. Kurdish forces have also expressed readiness to ensure the safety of the Russian military specialists operating on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

The U.S. is seriously miffed that the Russians are suddenly supporting the U.S. proxy in Syria’s north-east. The U.S. wants to claim the area for itself. (It probably also wants to protect the rest of ISIS there to reuse it when convenient.) The U.S. claims that the Russian air support for the Kurds is violating “coalition airspace”.

The U.S. is not invited to Syria but now claims airspace above the country? The Russians, allied with the Syrian government, are invited to fly there. It is obvious who has a sound legal justification to be in the area and who has not. But the U.S. military hates to confront its own malice, and a competent adversary who knows how to play chicken:

In one instance, two Air Force A-10 attack planes flying east of the Euphrates River nearly collided head-on with a Russian Su-24 Fencer just 300 feet away — a knife’s edge when all the planes were streaking at more than 350 miles per hour. The A-10s swerved to avoid the Russian aircraft, which was supposed to fly only west of the Euphrates.

Since American and Russian commanders agreed last month to fly on opposite sides of a 45-mile stretch of the Euphrates to prevent accidents in eastern Syria’s increasingly congested skies, Russian warplanes have violated that deal half a dozen times a day, according to American commanders. They say it is an effort by Moscow to test American resolve, bait Air Force pilots into reacting rashly, and help the Syrian Army solidify territorial gains ahead of diplomatic talks aimed at resolving the country’s nearly seven-year-old war.

ISIS is gone. There is no justification for any “coalition airspace”. Where please is the “deal” that allows the U.S. to indefinitely occupy north-east Syria as it now officially demands?

The Pentagon plans to keep some U.S. forces in Syria indefinitely, even after a war against the Islamic State extremist group formally ends, to take part in what it describes as ongoing counterterrorism operations, officials said.There are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, along with an unspecified number of contractors supporting them. Last month, the U.S. military withdrew 400 Marines from Syria, which U.S. forces first entered in the fall of 2016.

Officials earlier this week disclosed the plans for an open-ended commitment, known as a “conditions-based” presence.

The Pentagon has said the forces will target parts of Syria that aren’t fully governed by either regime or rebel forces. The military says it has the legal authority to remain there.

The U.S. military has lots of fantasies about “legal authority” and “deals”. We had already noted that such a “presence” in Syria is obviously illegal. The fig leaf of a UN resolution 2249 to fight ISIS no longer applies. Putin intentionally emphasized the “total rout of the terrorists” and the “complete” victory to point that out. There is absolutely no justification for the U.S. to stay. Moreover – the presence there is unsustainable.

The commander of the paramilitary forces which support the Syrian and Iraqi government sent a note to the U.S. to let it know that any remaining U.S. forces in Syria will be fought down:

[T]he commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Brigadier General Haj Qassem Soleimani sent a verbal letter, via Russia, to the head of the US forces commander in Syria, advising him to pull out all US forces to the last soldier “or the doors of hell will open up”.“My message to the US military command: when the battle against ISIS (the Islamic State group) will end, no American soldier will be tolerated in Syria. I advise you to leave by your own will or you will be forced to it”, said Soleimani to a Russian officer. Soleimani asked the Russian responsible to expose the Iranian intentions towards the US: that they will be considered as forces of occupation if these decide to stay in north-east Syria where Kurds and Arab tribes cohabit together.

In 1983 U.S. and French military barracks in Beirut were blown up after their forces had intervened on one side of the Lebanese civil war. Several hundred soldiers died. After the attack the U.S. pulled out of Lebanon. U.S. soldiers staying in north-east Syria can now expect a similar fate.

The U.S. claims that it has 2,000 soldiers in north-east Syria. This after it had claimed that the number was 500.  This new number was announced after it had already pulled out 400 marines and it is still way too low:

The updated figure does not reflect troops assigned to classified missions and some Special Operations personnel, Mr. Pahon said.

The U.S. had for months claimed that it only had 500 soldiers in the area. It did not even mention the contractors that follow its troops everywhere. The real number of U.S. personnal must have been ten times as high as the official one. The new official number is “2,000 and some”.  The real new number is likely still above 3,500 plus several thousand contractors. This revelation confirms again that the U.S. military lies whenever and wherever it can.

The now remaining “more than 2,000” will need tens of tons of supplies each day and the U.S. has no secured supply line into north-east Syria. It is arrogant idiocy to keep the troops there in place. A few roving guerillas can easily choke those supplies. Each of the camps those troops occupy will be a target of external and inside attacks.

The YPG Kurds are already skipping out of their coalition with the U.S.. They are now making friends with the Russians who provide them with air-support where the U.S. wants to keep ISIS alive. How much longer will the U.S. soldiers in the YPG controlled areas be able to trust their “allies”?

The Pentagon says that the presence in Syria is “conditions-based” but it does not name any condition that would have to be fulfilled for ending it. General Soleimani seems to believe that a few hundred body bags arriving at Andrews airbase near Washington, DC might be enough condition fulfillment to do the trick.

The situation in other parts of Syria is largely unchanged. The various Takifiri groups in Idelb governate continue to slaughter each other. The Syrian forces will likely hold back their planned attacks into the area as long as their enemies there are devouring each other. But a year from now Idelb, and north-east Syria, will likely be back in the Syrian government’s hand.

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UN General Assembly Votes for Palestinians

NOVANEWS
“General Assembly Adopts 38 Resolutions, 2 Decisions from Fourth Committee, Including Texts on Decolonization, Israeli-Palestinian Issues”

On December 6 the U.S. President declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announced the U.S. intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. It’s also widely known that Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem isn’t recognized by the international community or international law. The U.S. ally Great Britain announced it will maintain its embassy in Tel Aviv. Canada’s prime minister announced Canada is keeping its embassy in Tel Aviv, however in its UN General Assembly votes December 7th Canada’s maintained an obtuseness to Palestinian suffering, siding with with the U.S. and Israel.

Since the United Nations Security Council has mandated that no unilateral changes can be made to the status of Jerusalem, the Security Council responded to the U.S. declaration by calling an emergency session December 8th. The U.S. and Israel’s position was not favoured; other countries consider the declaration makes a peace process between Israel and Palestine impossible.

All this is not suppressed news though it can be interpreted as prolonging a genocide warning for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

What is unreported by NATO media is that following President Trump’s announcement the UN’s General Assembly on December 7th passed nine draft resolutions assuring some protection to the lives and rights of Palestinians, and with such large majorities in favour of Palestine that the world’s nations have indicated an overwhelming opposition to the U.S. president’s decision. The UN General Assembly may be the closest humankind is able to offer as the voice of humanity.

Attempting to be more specific I’ll try to order a very confusing press release from “UN Meeting Coverage and Press Releases,” where on December 7th among the 38 resolutions and two decisions made by the General Assembly concerning decolonization, these dealt directly with Israel-Palestine.

1. Assistance to Palestine refugees, was adopted, 162 for and 1 (Israel) against, with 12 abstaining. This resolution expresses extreme concern for Palestinian refugees under occupation and the urgent need for reconstruction of Gaza.

2. Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities, was adopted, 158 in favour, 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States) with 10 abstentions. This draft resolution reaffirms the right of displaced persons to go back to their homes and former residences.

3. Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, was adopted, 162 for to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States) and 7 abstentions. The resolution’s focus on funding was accompanied by concern for the freedom of movement, harassment and intimidation of United Nations (UNWRA) staff.

4. Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues, was adopted by a vote of 159 to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States) and 9 abstaining. This resolution requests the protection of Arab property, rights and assets.

5. Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, was adopted by a vote of 83 to 10 (Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States) and 77 abstentions. The draft resolution requests continuing investigation of Israeli practices and consultation with the International Committee of the Red Cross to assure human rights protections in the occupied territories.

6. Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories, was adopted by 157 to 7 (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States) with 10 abstentions. This resolution assures applicability of the Geneva Conventions to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (and Arab territories taken over since 1967).

7. Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan, was adopted by 155 for, 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), and 12 abstaining. It condemns the acts of violence by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

8. Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, was adopted by vote of 153 to 8 (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 10 abstentions. The resolution demands Israel stop violating the human rights (including the killing of, injury, arbitrary detention, etc.) of the Palestinian people and to stop all settlement activity.

9. The occupied Syrian Golan, was adopted by a vote of 151 for 2 against (Israel, Palau) and 20 abstaining. The resolution affirms previous UN resolutions and insists on not establishing settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan.

These draft resolutions reveal an ongoing genocidal persecution of the Palestinian people, both the fact of their suffering and humanity’s assessment of a terrible wrong. According to The New York Times,

“In Rome, Pope Francis prayed that Jerusalem’s status be preserved and needless conflict avoided.”

The U.S. has accused the U.N. of a bias against Israel but humanity’s inclination is more positive and compassionate than that.

Sources

“General Assembly Adopts 38 Resolutions, 2 Decisions from Fourth Committee, Including Texts on Decolonization, Israeli-Palestinian Issues,” Dec. 7, 2017, reliefweb & GA/11987 United Nations Meeting Coverage and Press Releases;

“Trudeau rejects Trump approach to Jerusalem, favours ‘two-state solution’,” Steven Chase, Dec. 7, 2017, The Globe and Mail;

“Trump’s Jerusalem move roundly condemned at UN,” Dec. 8, 2017, Al Jazeera;

“U.N., European Union and Pope Criticize Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement,” Jason Horowitz, Dec. 6, 2017, The New York Times.

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From Barak to Trump: Arrogance, ignorance and phony “peace” plans

NOVANEWS
Ehud Barak and Donald Trump

By Uri Avnery

Ehud Barak has “broken the silence”. He has published an article in The New York Times attacking Binyamin Netanyahu, our prime minister, in the most abrasive terms. In other words, he has done exactly the same as the group of ex-soldiers who call themselves Breaking the Silence, who are accused of washing our dirty linen abroad. They expose war crimes to which they have been witnesses, or even participants.

But apart from the attack on Netanyahu, Barak has used the article to publish his “peace plan”. A former chief-of-staff of the Israeli army and a former prime minister, Barak is obviously planning a comeback, and his peace plan is part of the effort. There seems to be, anyhow, open season for “peace plans” in our region.

I respect the intelligence of Barak. Many years ago, when he was still the deputy chief of staff, he unexpectedly invited me for a talk. We discussed the military history of the 17th century (military history is an old hobby of mine) and I soon realised that he was a real expert. I enjoyed it very much.

On a spring evening in May 1999, I was part of a huge, jubilant crowd in Tel-Aviv’s Rabin Square after Barak had won the Knesset elections and become prime minister. He promised us “the dawn of a new day”. In particular, he promised to make peace with the Palestinians.

Intellectually, Barak is superior to all other politicians on the Israeli scene. Soon enough it appeared that this may be a handicap.

Intelligent people tend to be arrogant. They despise people of lesser mental powers. Knowing that he had all the answers, Barak demanded that President Bill Clinton call a meeting with Yasser Arafat.

On the morrow I spoke with Arafat and found him deeply worried. Nothing has been prepared, no prior exchange of views, nothing. He did not want to go to the meeting which he thought was bound to fail, but could not refuse an invitation from the president of the US.

The result was catastrophe. Barak, sure of himself as usual, presented his peace plan. It was more accommodating than any prior Israeli plan, but still fell far short of the Palestinians’ minimum. The meeting broke up.

What does a diplomat do in such circumstances? He announces that “we had a fruitful exchange of views. We have not yet reached total agreement, but the negotiations will go on, and there will be more meetings, until we reach agreement.”

Barak did not say that. Neither did he say: “Sorry, I am totally ignorant of the Palestinian point of view, and I shall now study it seriously.”

So, here comes Barak, the new Barak, with a brand-new peace plan. What does he say? The aim, he writes, is “separation” from the Palestinians. Not peace, not cooperation, just separation. Get rid of them.

Instead, Barak came home and announced that Israel had proposed the most generous terms ever, that the Palestinians had rejected everything, that the Palestinians want to throw us into the sea, that we have “no partner for peace”.

If this had been declared by a right-wing politician, everybody would have shrugged. But coming from the leader of the peace camp, it was devastating. Its effects can be felt to this very day.

So, here comes Barak, the new Barak, with a brand-new peace plan. What does he say? The aim, he writes, is “separation” from the Palestinians. Not peace, not cooperation, just separation. Get rid of them. “Peace” is not popular just now.

How separation? Israel will annex the new Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and the “settlement blocs” – the clusters of Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line but close to it. He agrees to “land swaps”. And then comes the killer: “Overall security responsibility in the West Bank will remain in the hands of the Israel Defence Forces as long as necessary.”

And the sad conclusion: “Even if it is not possible to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at this stage – and it probably is not…”

If there is one Palestinian who would accept these terms, I shall be surprised. But Barak, then and now, does not care for the views and feelings of the Palestinians. Just like Netanyahu, who at least has the decency not to propose a “Peace Plan”. Unlike Trump.

Donald Trump is not a genius like Barak, but he also has a “peace plan”.

A group of right-wing Jews, including his son-in-law (also no genius, he) have been working on this for months. He has proposed it to Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s successor, to the new Saudi Crown Prince and other Arab princes. It seems to provide for a Palestinian state composed of several small isolated enclaves on the West Bank, without Jerusalem and without an army.

This is sheer lunacy. Not one single Palestinian and not one single other Arab would accept this. Worse, anyone proposing such a caricature of a state betrays utter ignorance.

Palestinians, and Arabs at large, do have deep feelings and convictions. They are a proud people… To be treated like dirt by the US president and his Jewish entourage hurts them deeply, and may lead to a disturbance in our region that no Arab prince, hired by the USA, will be able to control.

That’s where the real problem lies: it is much worse than just not knowing. It demonstrates abysmal contempt for the Palestinians and for Arabs in general, a basic belief that their feelings, if any, don’t matter at all. This is a remnant of colonial times.

Palestinians, and Arabs at large, do have deep feelings and convictions. They are a proud people. They still remember the times when Muslims were incomparably more advanced than the barbarian Europeans. To be treated like dirt by the US president and his Jewish entourage hurts them deeply, and may lead to a disturbance in our region that no Arab prince, hired by the USA, will be able to control.

This especially concerns Jerusalem. For Muslims, this is not just a town. It is their third holiest place, the spot from where the Prophet – peace be upon him – ascended to heaven. For a Muslim to give up Jerusalem is inconceivable.

The latest decisions of Trump concerning Jerusalem are – to put it mildly – idiotic. Arabs are furious, Israelis don’t really care, America’s Arab stooges, princes and all, are deeply worried. If disturbances erupt, they may well be swept away.

And what for? For one evening’s headline?

There is no subject in our region, and perhaps in the world – that is more delicate. Jerusalem is holy to three world religions, and one cannot argue with holiness.

In the past I have devoted much thought to this subject. I love Jerusalem (contrary to the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, who was disgusted by it and left it in a hurry after one single night). The early Zionists disliked the city as a symbol of all that is wrong and foul in Judaism.

Some 20 years ago I composed a manifesto, together with my late friend, Faisal al-Husseini, the leader of Jerusalem’s Arabs and the scion of its most noble family. Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians signed it.

Its title was “Our Jerusalem.” It started with the words: “Jerusalem is ours, Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews.”

It went on:

Our Jerusalem is a mosaic of all the cultures, all the religions and all the periods that enriched the city, from earliest antiquity to this very day – Canaanites and Jebusites and Israelites, Jews and Hellenes, Romans and Byzantines, Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Mamelukes, Othmanlis and Britons, Palestinians and Israelis.

Our Jerusalem must be united, open to all, and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and barbed wire in its midst.

And the practical conclusion:

Our Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country – West Jerusalem the capital of the state of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the state of Palestine.

I wish I could nail this manifesto to the doors of the White House.

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Putin goes to Cairo as Trump ties himself in knots

NOVANEWS

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

The United States’ self-goal on Jerusalem opens for Russia a window of opportunity to strengthen its standing as the most creative and positive player in the Middle East politics. Within four days of President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, President Vladimir Putin is undertaking unscheduled ‘working visits’ to Egypt and Turkey.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry issued a lengthy statement criticizing the US decision on Jerusalem and affirming that

  • We believe a fair and lasting solution to the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be based on international law, including UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that provide for settling all aspects of the final status of the Palestinian territories, including the highly delicate issue of Jerusalem, through direct Palestinian-Israeli talks. The United States’ new position on Jerusalem can further complicate Palestinian-Israeli relations and the situation in the region… Russia sees East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state and West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

Russia has positioned itself appropriately on the Arab Street. But the Jerusalem issue is not what is taking Putin to Cairo. The Kremlin readout flagged the need of “providing stability and security in the Middle East and North Africa.” Which means Libya, Sinai and Syria and to an extent Yemen – in that order, perhaps.

The point is, the ‘Libyan file’ has re-opened. The Islamic State is relocating in Libya after its crushing defeat in Iraq and Syria. Russia and Egypt sense the imperative need to mobilize quickly and confront the extremist groups in Libya. Both are supportive of the Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar who’s ensconced in Benghazi, whom they (rightly) see as a bulwark against violent extremism in Libya. The power vacuum in Libya and the growing insecurity in western Egypt threaten the stability of Egypt and President Sisi’s prestige is at stake. On the other hand, Egyptian involvement in Libya affects the balance of power in the Middle East. Interestingly, the Gulf monarchies are also involved in the Libyan crisis.

Enter Trump. The Libyan PM Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj visited the White House on December 1 and Trump discussed with him “opportunities for future partnerships” while emphasizing “America’s continued commitment to defeating ISIS and other jihadist terrorists in Libya” and “to work together to advance Libyan stability and unity.” On a parallel track, French President Emmanuel Macron had also hosted Sarraj in Paris. (Sarraj has an established reputation as the ‘Ashraf Ghani’ of the Maghreb – a politician imposed by western powers. Keeping Russia out of Libya is a key template of the western strategy (as is the case in Afghanistan.)

But Russia and Egypt have specific interests, too. Libya used to be a Soviet ally and it has a strategic Mediterranean location facing the NATO’s southern tier. As for Egypt, the instability in Libya spills over to Sinai Peninsula, which is already happening. Sisi’s ambition could be to create a sort of Egyptian protectorate in Cyrenaica against extremist groups. No doubt, with 1,200 kilometers of shared border with Libya, Egypt’s security concerns are legitimate.

Egypt is also a net importer of energy. Haftar controls the so-called oil crescent in Libya and the Russian oil giant Rosneft is back in Libya. Clearly, the energy platform provides a potentially lucrative 3-way cooperation between Russia, Haftar and Egypt – although secondary to the military and security dimension.

Prima facie, Moscow is deferring to the UN in key matters and is also engaging Sarraj’s government in Tripoli. Which suggests that Moscow may be positioning itself as a broker between Libya’s rival partners – Sarraj and Haftar, principally – and eventually to manoeuver itself to make up for the financial losses it suffered in 2011 following the regime change which is estimated to be in excess of $10 billion in railway contracts, construction projects, energy deals and arms sales.

But the West will be wary that Putin doesn’t do a Syria on them and checkmate them in Libya too. The Libyan situation has its specific features but big-power rivalry is accelerating. Washington may appear to be better placed in Libya, since the US’ NATO allies are stakeholders. But all bets are off when Putin enters the centre stage. For an effective Russian role in the military and security sphere to stabilize Libya, Moscow needs a regional partner. Putin enjoys excellent rapport with Sisi. Washington will be closely monitoring their talks in Cairo on Monday.

Posted in Egypt, RussiaComments Off on Putin goes to Cairo as Trump ties himself in knots

When Washington Cheered the Jihadists

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By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News 

When a Department of Defense intelligence report about the Syrian rebel movement became public in May 2015, lots of people didn’t know what to make of it. After all, what the report said was unthinkable – not only that Al Qaeda had dominated the so-called democratic revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for years, but that the West continued to support the jihadis regardless, even to the point of backing their goal of creating a Sunni Salafist principality in the eastern deserts.

The United States lining up behind Sunni terrorism – how could this be? How could a nice liberal like Barack Obama team up with the same people who had brought down the World Trade Center?

It was impossible, which perhaps explains why the report remained a non-story long after it was released courtesy of a Judicial Watch freedom-of-information lawsuit. The New York Times didn’t mention it until six months later while the Washington Post waited more than a year before dismissing it as “loopy” and “relatively unimportant.” With ISIS rampaging across much of Syria and Iraq, no one wanted to admit that U.S. attitudes were ever anything other than hostile.

But three years earlier, when the Defense Intelligence Agency was compiling the report, attitudes were different. Jihadis were heroes rather than terrorists, and all the experts agreed that they were a low-risk, high-yield way of removing Assad from office.

After spending five days with a Syrian rebel unit, for instance, New York Times reporter C.J. Chivers wrote that the group “mixes paramilitary discipline, civilian policing, Islamic law, and the harsh demands of necessity with battlefield coldness and outright cunning.”

Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, assured the Washington Post that “al Qaeda is a fringe element” among the rebels, while, not to be outdone, the gossip site Buzzfeed published a pin-up of a “ridiculously photogenic” jihadi toting an RPG.

“Hey girl,” said the subhead. “Nothing sexier than fighting the oppression of tyranny.”

And then there was Foreign Policy, the magazine founded by neocon guru Samuel P. Huntington, which was most enthusiastic of all. Gary Gambill’s “Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists,” which ran on the FP web site just a couple of weeks after the DIA report was completed, didn’t distort the facts or make stuff up in any obvious way. Nonetheless, it is a classic of U.S. propaganda. Its subhead glibly observed: “So the rebels aren’t secular Jeffersonians. As far as America is concerned, it doesn’t much matter.”

Assessing the Damage

Five years later, it’s worth a second look to see how Washington uses self-serving logic to reduce an entire nation to rubble.

First a bit of background. After displacing France and Britain as the region’s prime imperial overlord during the 1956 Suez Crisis and then breaking with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser a few years later, the United States committed itself to the goal of defeating Arab nationalism and Soviet Communism, two sides of the same coin as far as Washington was concerned. Over the next half-century, this would mean steering Egypt to the right with assistance from the Saudis, isolating Libyan strong man Muammar Gaddafi, and doing what it could to undermine the Syrian Baathist regime as well.

William Roebuck, the American embassy’s chargé d’affaires in Damascus, thus urged Washington in 2006 to coordinate with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to encourage Sunni Syrian fears of Shi‘ite Iranian proselytizing even though such concerns are “often exaggerated.” It was akin to playing up fears of Jewish dominance in the 1930s in coordination with Nazi Germany.

A year later, former NATO commander Wesley Clark learned of a classified Defense Department memo stating that U.S. policy was now to “attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years,” first Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. (Quote starts at 2:07.)

Since the United States didn’t like what such governments were doing, the solution was to install more pliable ones in their place. Hence Washington’s joy when the Arab Spring struck Syria in March 2011 and it appeared that protesters would soon topple the Baathists on their own.

Even when lofty democratic rhetoric gave way to ominous sectarian chants of “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the coffin,” U.S. enthusiasm remained strong. With Sunnis accounting for perhaps 60 percent of the population, strategists figured that there was no way Assad could hold out against religious outrage welling up from below.

Enter Gambill and the FP. The big news, his article began, is that secularists are no longer in command of the burgeoning Syrian rebel movement and that Sunni Islamists are taking the lead instead. As unfortunate as this might seem, he argued that such a development was both unavoidable and far from entirely negative.

“Islamist political ascendancy is inevitable in a majority Sunni Muslim country brutalized for more than four decades by a secular minoritarian dictatorship,” he wrote in reference to the Baathists. “Moreover, enormous financial resources are pouring in from the Arab-Islamic world to promote explicitly Islamist resistance to Assad’s Alawite-dominated, Iranian-backed regime.”

So the answer was not to oppose the Islamists, but to use them. Even though “the Islamist surge will not be a picnic for the Syrian people,” Gambill said, “it has two important silver linings for US interests.” One is that the jihadis “are simply more effective fighters than their secular counterparts” thanks to their skill with “suicide bombings and roadside bombs.”

The other is that a Sunni Islamist victory in Syria will result in “a full-blown strategic defeat” for Iran, thereby putting Washington at least part way toward fulfilling the seven-country demolition job discussed by Wesley Clark.

“So long as Syrian jihadis are committed to fighting Iran and its Arab proxies,” the article concluded, “we should quietly root for them – while keeping our distance from a conflict that is going to get very ugly before the smoke clears. There will be plenty of time to tame the beast after Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions have gone down in flames.”

Deals with the Devil

The U.S. would settle with the jihadis only after the jihadis had settled with Assad. The good would ultimately outweigh the bad. This kind of self-centered moral calculus would not have mattered had Gambill only spoken for himself. But he didn’t. Rather, he was expressing the viewpoint of Official Washington in general, which is why the ultra-respectable FP ran his piece in the first place.

The Islamists were something America could employ to their advantage and then throw away like a squeezed lemon. A few Syrians would suffer, but America would win, and that’s all that counts.

The parallels with the DIA report are striking. “The west, gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” the intelligence report declared, even though “the Salafist[s], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [i.e. Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency.”

Where Gambill predicted that “Assad and his minions will likely retreat to northwestern Syria,” the DIA speculated that the jihadis might establish “a declared or undeclared Salafist principality” at the other end of the country near cities like Hasaka and Der Zor (also known as Deir ez-Zor).

Where the FP said that the ultimate aim was to roll back Iranian influence and undermine Shi‘ite rule, the DIA said that a Salafist principality “is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

Bottle up the Shi‘ites in northwestern Syria, in other words, while encouraging Sunni extremists to establish a base in the east so as to put pressure on Shi‘ite-influenced Iraq and Shi‘ite-ruled Iran.

As Gambill put it: “Whatever misfortunes Sunni Islamists may visit upon the Syrian people, any government they form will be strategically preferable to the Assad regime, for three reasons: A new government in Damascus will find continuing the alliance with Tehran unthinkable, it won’t have to distract Syrians from its minority status with foreign policy adventurism like the ancien régime, and it will be flush with petrodollars from Arab Gulf states (relatively) friendly to Washington.”

With the Saudis footing the bill, the U.S. would exercise untrammeled sway.

Disastrous Thinking

Has a forecast ever gone more spectacularly wrong? Syria’s Baathist government is hardly blameless in this affair. But thanks largely to the U.S.-backed sectarian offensive, 400,000 Syrians or more have died since Gambill’s article appeared, with another 6.1 million displaced and an estimated 4.8 million fleeing abroad.

War-time destruction totals around $250 billion, according to U.N. estimates, a staggering sum for a country of 18.8 million people where per-capita income prior to the outbreak of violence was under $3,000. From Syria, the specter of sectarian violence has spread across Asia and Africa and into Europe and North America as well. Political leaders throughout the advanced industrial world are still struggling to contain the populist fury that the Middle East refugee crisis, the result of U.S.-instituted regime change, helped set off.

So instead of advancing U.S. policy goals, Gambill helped do the opposite. The Middle East is more explosive than ever while U.S. influence has fallen to sub-basement levels. Iranian influence now extends from the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean, while the country that now seems to be wobbling out of control is Saudi Arabia where Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is lurching from one self-induced crisis to another. The country that Gambill counted on to shore up the status quo turns out to be undermining it.

It’s not easy to screw things up so badly, but somehow Washington’s bloated foreign-policy establishment has done it. Since helping to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, Gambill has moved on to a post at the rightwing Middle East Forum where Daniel Pipes, the group’s founder and chief, now inveighs against the same Sunni ethnic cleansing that his employee defended or at least apologized for.

The forum is particularly well known for its Campus Watch program, which targets academic critics of Israel, Islamists, and – despite Gambill’s kind words about “suicide bombings and roadside bombs” – anyone it considers the least bit apologetic about Islamic terrorism.

Double your standard, double the fun. Terrorism, it seems, is only terrorism when others do it to the U.S., not when the U.S. does it to others.

Posted in Middle East, USAComments Off on When Washington Cheered the Jihadists

RT ARABIC ONLINE LEADS ALL ARABIC NEWS CHANNELS INCLUDING CNN ARABIC, AL JAZEERA, AL ARABIYA

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In November 2017, RT Arabic’s website became the most visited online portal among all Arabic-language TV news broadcasters, including CNN Arabic, Sky News Arabia, and major regional channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

“In the Arab-speaking world, competition among the news media is very high. RT Arabic’s leadership speaks to the fact that we not only found our niche, but are constantly growing as a result of the trust that our audience has in us,” said Maya Manna, head of RT Arabic.

According to analytics portal SimilarWeb, in November, the RT Arabic website was visited more than 23 million times—more than any other Arabic-language news channel, including Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, Al Mayadeen, CNN Arabic, and Sky News Arabia. The majority of visitors came from users in Egypt—about 20%. Around 8.7% of visitors came from both Saudi Arabia and Algeria, more than 6.2% from Tunisia, and 5.8% from Morocco.

On Facebook, RT Arabic has 13 million subscribers—more than the Arabic-language versions of other international news media such as CNN, BBC, Sky News, DW, France 24, and Euronews. RT Arabic also leads among its international competitors in the Arab region on YouTube, with more than 660 million views and more than 870,000 subscribers.

In September 2017, RT Arabic marked its 10th anniversary of broadcasting by launching its interactive news project – RT Online. Now social network users can participate in news broadcasts in real time and discuss on air the events they witness.

RT Arabic has been a multiple winner and finalist for various international awards, including New York Festivals, the AIB Awards, and Promax BDA, as well as the Iraqi Al-Ghadir Festival. In 2017, RT Arabic journalists were honored by the National Union of Journalists of Iraq, as well as the National Union of Journalists of Syria.

Posted in MediaComments Off on RT ARABIC ONLINE LEADS ALL ARABIC NEWS CHANNELS INCLUDING CNN ARABIC, AL JAZEERA, AL ARABIYA

N.Korea Pushes US to Negotiating Table?

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By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation 

Just when the crisis in US-North Korean relations could not seem more bleak, this week sees a chance that the two sides could be moving quietly towards a diplomatic resolution. The arrival of senior United Nations diplomat Jeffrey Feltman in Pyongyang for four days of discussions with top officials was reported as a “very rare” event.

Feltman is the most senior American official in the United Nations secretariat, serving as the chief of political affairs under Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The last time such a senior UN official reportedly visited North Korea was six years ago. The delegation this week comes at the request of Pyongyang.

The US State Department said that Feltman was in North Korea on behalf of the United Nations, and that he was not conveying a message from Washington. Nevertheless, there are grounds to believe that the diplomat’s “wide-ranging” discussions with senior North Korean officials is an opening for tentative talks between Washington and Pyongyang to resolve the deepening crisis over the latter’s nuclear weapons program.

Before his UN appointment in 2012, Feltman (58) worked in the US State Department for nearly 30 years. His posts included sensitive Middle East areas: Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. Officially, he may be on UN business this week in Pyongyang, but it seems plausible that this career US diplomat will, in addition, convey a significant political signal from Washington that formal talks are on.

Washington’s public position is that no talks with North Korea are on the agenda until Pyongyang halts its nuclear weapons program. However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said recently there was the possibility of “talks about talks” in the future. President Donald Trump while threatening “fire and fury” on North Korea has also at other times hinted that he is willing to engage in diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

For its part, North Korea has said it will never unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons program as a deterrent to what it calls US aggression.

Escalating rhetorical jibes between the two leaders over the past several months might suggest that there is minimal chance for diplomacy. Trump has disparaged Kim as “Rocket Man on a suicide mission”; while Kim has mocked the American president as “a stupid old dotard”.

Russia and China have urged all sides to engage in negotiations in order to calm roiling tensions, which have mounted over the past year from dozens of missile tests being conducted by North Korea, as well as from provocative military exercises carried out by the US and its South Korea and Japanese allies.

Last week, North Korea launched its biggest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) yet, a Hwasong-15, which various analysts said demonstrated the capability for a nuclear strike on any part of the US mainland, including the capital Washington DC. Pyongyang announced that the test launch proved that the country had completed its quest for acquiring nuclear weapons capable of hitting the US.

Then this week, US forces conducted their biggest-ever warplanes drill with South Korea, involving some 230 aircraft, including B1-B nuclear-capable bombers and reportedly for the first time stealth F-35 and F-22 fighter jets. The massive air-force mobilization came despite appeals from China and Russia for a suspension. There were also warnings from North Korea that the US bombing rehearsals were leading the Peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.

Trump’s top national security advisor General HR McMaster recently added to fears of a full-on conflict breaking out when he described the situation as a countdown to war. Trump has also on several occasions warned that he would “totally destroy” North Korea if the US or its allies were threatened. A threat which was again repeated last week by the US ambassador the UN Nikki Haley. Pyongyang has, in turn, said that such rhetoric amounts to a declaration of war by the US.

The re-listing on November 20 by Washington of North Korea as a “state sponsor of terrorism” is another incendiary factor in an already explosive geopolitical mix.

However, in spite of the imminent danger of all-out armed conflict, there are reasons to believe that both sides are willing to pull back.

Bellicose posturing by Trump and his aides cannot disguise the fact that Washington does not have a realistic military option in dealing with North Korea. Negotiation is the only viable option to resolve the long-running crisis, as China and Russia have both consistently urged.

Many American weapons experts, including Siegfried Hecker, the former head of Los Alamos Laboratory, reckon that North Korea has the capability of 30 to 60 nuclear weapons. An underground test in September points to the possession of a H-bomb with a 10-fold explosive power of the A-bombs dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“There is little doubt that North Korea could mount a nuclear warhead on a missile that could reach South Korea or Japan,” according to Siegfried.

That capability alone – if not also the now very real possibility of hitting the US mainland – places millions of lives at risk, if Washington were to go to war with North Korea.

Over the past decade since North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion in 2006, the country’s military defenses have progressed at an astonishing rate, despite the ratcheting up of economic and diplomatic sanctions by Washington. Most of North Korea’s weapons development has occurred under the current leader Kim Jong-un who took over six years ago after the death of his father Kim Jong-il. Four of the country’s total six nuclear tests have taken place under the watch of the 30-something-year-old incumbent.

Having now achieved the stated goal of possessing a nuclear deterrent force capable of hitting the US, Pyongyang may feel it is finally in a position to talk with Washington on a mutual basis.

South Korean diplomat, Kim Hong-gul, who met the North Korean leader six years ago at his father’s funeral, said that the recent test of the ICBM purportedly capable of striking the US, could paradoxically be a harbinger of future talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

In an interview with Bloomberg this week, the South Korea diplomat said of the ICBM test launch: “It could be a flare signaling the start of the negotiations. On completion [of nuclear forces], Kim wouldn’t need to test missiles anymore, so he could suggest a conversation with the South and the US, possibly in his New Year speech, while refraining from further tests.”

It seems significant that the day after the latest ICBM test, on November 30, Pyongyang confirmed its invitation to the UN for high-level discussions. Within days, the UN reciprocated by sending Jeffrey Feltman, the seasoned former US State Department point man, to Pyongyang this week.

It is not known if Feltman will meet with Kim Jong-un during his four-day trip, but he is scheduled to hold talks with North Korea’s most senior diplomat, foreign minister Ri Yong-ho.

Notably, too, Feltman’s visit to Pyongyang follows a high-level delegation from Beijing to North Korea, the first such trip by Chinese diplomats after a two-year hiatus.

Bloomberg also reports: “Russian lawmaker Vitaly Pashin, who recently visited Pyongyang, said Monday that North Korean officials are ready for one-on-one or multiparty talks now that they’ve become a nuclear power capable of striking the US mainland.”

The standoff between the US and North Korea is much too grim, and the stakes are much too high, for any side to crow about one-upmanship.

But maybe – just maybe – the brinkmanship shown by North Korea to persist with its nuclear program in the face of US threats has paid off by forcing Washington to come to the negotiating table in order to resolve the standoff peacefully through a political settlement.

So much for Western depiction of the North Korean leader as a “madman”. His cold-blooded logic may spare the world from a nuclear war incited by the crazies in Washington.

Posted in USA, North KoreaComments Off on N.Korea Pushes US to Negotiating Table?

Trump Team Didn’t Just Collude with ‘Israel’, Kushner was Acting as Foreign Agent for Tel Aviv

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Trump Team Didn’t Just Collude with Israel, Kushner was Acting as Foreign Agent for Tel Aviv

By Patrick Henningsen | 21st Century Wire 

Much was made this week in the American media about Michael Flynn’s recent guilty plea to making false statements to the FBI, as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s never-ending “Russia probe.”

Although court documents show Flynn has acknowledged to previously giving false statements in reference to reaching out to Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak – the mere act of reaching out to foreign officials is neither illegal, nor is it a violation of ethics. This is normal practice for members of any incoming US administration. Even if Flynn had promised to the Russian Ambassador, as claimed this week by Resistance leader Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, that a Trump government would “rip-up sanctions,” such a promise by Flynn would not be unlawful. Anyone can make a promise, we should point out here that neither Flynn, nor Donald Trump would be in any position to make good on such a promise without the blessing of the US Congress and Senate. Just look at what happened when Trump took office. Were any sanctions lifted?

That said, after 18 months of fabricating fake news about Russian hacking, Russian meddling and Russian collusion, it’s not surprising that the New York Times would get the Flynn story wrong too, and on an even bigger scale than many of their past made-up stories about Trump scandals. Here we have yet another hand-wringing Resistance writer, Harry Litman, claiming that Flynn’s testimony will go in down history next to Watergate and Iran-Contra:

“The repercussions of the plea will be months in the making, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that the events to which Mr. Flynn has agreed to testify will take their place in the history books alongside the Watergate and Iran-contra scandals.”

He might be right, if only the media coverage and the federal hearing would focus on the correct country with whom the Trump team was colluding, which unfortunately was not Russia. Funny how partisan writer Litman did not even mention the word Israel once in his report. In fact, we can now better see why certain persons in Washington like Adam Schiff and John McCain, along with their corrupt media counterparts like CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times have been incessantly pushing their fictional “Russia did it” narrative for the last 18 months – because Russiagate served as a convenient cover for Israelgate.

Mehdi Hassan from The Intercept writes:

“… Why aren’t more members of Congress or the media discussing the Trump transition team’s pretty brazen collusion with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to undermine both U.S. government policy and international law? Shouldn’t that be treated as a major scandal? Thanks to Mueller’s ongoing investigation, we now know that prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, members of his inner circle went to bat on behalf of Israel, and specifically on behalf of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, behind the scenes and in opposition to official U.S. foreign policy. That’s the kind of collusion with a foreign state that has gotten a lot of attention with respect to the Kremlin – but colluding with Israel seems to be of far less interest, strangely.”

Yes, you heard that right. This was at minimum collusion with Israel. But it goes much deeper than that. If this story is accurate, and we every reason to believe it is (especially by the large silence in the American media, usually a positive indication of media avoidance), this would indicate that the then President-elect’s close advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was clearly acting as a foreign agent – on behalf of the state of Israel.

Granted, this is a very serious charge – which comes with some serious consequences if Kushner would ever be indicted, but the facts clearly demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt, that then President-elect’s son-in-law was using his proximity to the incoming Commander and Chief to execute a series of highly sensitive foreign policy maneuvers at the request of a foreign country.

The history of Israeli spying and outright meddling in US affairs is no secret to anyone willing to research it (unofficially a forbidden topic in US mainstream media), but this latest episode with Trump and Kushner is even more disturbing considering this week’s East Jerusalem announcement.

Beyond this, many will argue that the radical fundamentalist Zionist agenda which Kushner is aggressively pursuing on behalf of Tel Aviv is not in the interest of the wider Middle East, nor is it good for America’s European partners, and may even contribute to a further destablization of the region – as evidenced by recent violence which has erupted following Trump’s provocative move. That result is not necessarily in America’s interests, even if it is certainly in Israel’s interests.

Author Mehdi Hassan continues:

Here’s what we learned last week when Mueller’s team unveiled its plea deal with Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn. In December 2016, the United Nations Security Council was debating a draft resolution that condemned Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied territories as a “flagrant violation under international law” that was “dangerously imperiling the viability” of an independent Palestinian state.

The Obama administration had made it clear that the U.S. was planning to abstain on the resolution, while noting that “the settlements have no legal validity” and observing how “the settlement problem has gotten so much worse that it is now putting at risk the … two-state solution.” (Rhetorically, at least, U.S. opposition to Israeli settlements has been a long-standing and bipartisan position for decades: Ronald Reagan called for “a real settlement freeze” in 1982 while George H.W. Bush tried to curb Israeli settlement-building plans by briefly cutting off U.S. loan guarantees to the Jewish state in 1991.)

Everyone expected that the upcoming UN vote on illegal Israeli settlements was going to be a divisive issue, but with only weeks before Trump’s fast approaching inauguration, Israel had its trojan horse in position. Hassan goes on to explain Tel Aviv’s covert mechanism for manipulate the UN vote:

“On or about December 22, 2016, a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team directed Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood on the resolution and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution,” reads the statement of offense against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. “On or about December 22, 2016, Flynn contacted the Russian Ambassador about the pending vote. Flynn informed the Russian Ambassador about the incoming administration’s opposition to the resolution, and requested that Russia vote against or delay the resolution.”

So who was this very senior member of Trump’s team who sought to execute orders from the office of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu? Hassan explains:

Who was the “very senior member” of the transition team who “directed” Flynn to do all this? Multiple news outletshave confirmed that it was Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and main point man on the Middle East peace process. “Jared called Flynn and told him you need to get on the phone to every member of the Security Council and tell them to delay the vote,” a Trump transition official revealed to BuzzFeed News on Friday, adding that Kushner told Flynn “this was a top priority for the president.”

According to BuzzFeed : “After hanging up, Flynn told the entire room [at the Trump transition team HQ] that they’d have to start pushing to lobby against the U.N. vote, saying ‘the president wants this done ASAP.’” Flynn’s guilty plea, BuzzFeed continued, revealed “for the first time how Trump transition officials solicited Russia’s help to head off the UN vote and undermine the Obama administration’s policy on Middle East peace before ever setting foot in the White House.”

Even during the height of the Neocon era, with multiple Israeli loyalists in the cabinet (including some dual passport holders) shaping White House Middle East policy – ultimately into a ditch with Iraq, the level of manipulation wasn’t this overt. Trump’s decision to reverse successive US administrations’ new policy on East Jerusalem is inconceivable, if not for some other x-factor which even the PNAC-dominated George W. Bush could not manage.

The facts of the case against Kushner have not been contested, and in fact Kushner has even been gloating out on the speaking circuit, with his doting wife Ivanka proudly advertizing her husband’s ‘accomplishment’ on behalf Israel.

None of this has been contested. In fact, on Sunday, Kushner made a rare public appearance at the Saban Forum in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Trump administration’s plans for the Middle East and was welcomed by the forum’s sponsor, the Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban, who said he “personally wanted to thank” Kushner for “taking steps to try and get the United Nations Security Council to not go along with what ended up being an abstention by the U.S.” Kushner’s response? The first son-in-law smiled, nodded, and mouthed “thank you” to Saban.

Meanwhile, the Israelis have been pretty forthcoming about their own role in all of this, too. On Monday, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and a close friend and ally of Netanyahu, told Politico’s Susan Glasser that, in December 2016, “obviously we reached out to [the Trump transition team] in the hope that they would help us,” and “we were hopeful that they would speak” to other governments “in order to prevent this vote from happening.”

According to these reports, Kushner was using his position in the transition team to act on Israel’s behalf – outside of any governmental framework of accountability. If Flynn is guilty of anything, it would be going also with Kushner’s Israel First scheme ahead of the United Nations vote. What is odd though, is why the entire US mainstream media is not interested in this part of the story. Even the Never Trump “Resistance” seem to be afraid of taking this narrative on. I guess even the Resistance has its limits. Rather than go for a case where the evidence is sitting right there on a silver Salva, instead they will go for the Russian conspiracy theory. Alas, old habits die hard.

This series of events is all the more pertinent when considering this week’s announcement by President Trump that the US is to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and with be moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem. Many are already calling this “the kiss of death” to the Israel-Palestine peace process. In a predictable succession of events, the Jerusalem provocation was a fait accompli after Trump had announced in October that the US would be withdrawing from support for UNESCO, the UN body which is meant to help maintain the neutrality of Jerusalem as an internationally protected area. The Trump administration justified its resignation from the key UN agency on the ground that is “biased against Israel.” But the neutrality of Jerusalem is an essential policy for maintaining peace in a less than ideal situation with Palestine still under a brutal military occupation by an illegitimate and illegal (by international law and successive UN Resolutions) Israeli jackboot.

In addition to all this, this past summer the United States announced the establishment of a permanent military installation inside of Israel. What’s scary is how many people do not know this has happened.

So Trump’s éminence grise, the wunderkind, who some people have called the President In-Law, is really Israel’s man inside the White House.

What is Jared Kushner’s experience in international affairs and diplomacy that he has been charged with negotiating Middle East affairs for the United States of America? His only visible qualification is that he’s married to the President’s daughter. That’s really it.

Credit where credit’s due though. Aside from marrying into the dynasty, Kushner is also the former owner of a mediocre website, The New York Observer, and has also managed to parlay his family status to help finance a number of high-profile New York City property deals (no doubt with the help of his father-in-law),

Isn’t that what Kushner is doing now – using his inherited clout to help “close friend” Benjamin Netanyahu secure a highly illegal property deal in the Middle East, with the United States as the guarantor? It certainly looks that way. The question is, will anyone in the US do anything about it?

When this latest episode of hubris by the White House and Israel eventually unravels, the public and the media might then turn on Kushner and Trump, but by then the damage will have already been done.

Until then, Netanyahu can feel safe in the knowledge that Israel, not Washington, is currently in control of US foreign policy.

One final note to brave Never Trump Resistance: if any foreign state actor is blackmailing this President or the White House, it’s probably not Russia.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Trump Team Didn’t Just Collude with ‘Israel’, Kushner was Acting as Foreign Agent for Tel Aviv

Their Jerusalem is our Ayodhya

NOVANEWS

Babri Masjid
By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

The cat is out of the bag – the Modi government will not condemn the US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The European Union, Russia, China and the entire Muslim world are aghast. But India ducks by claiming it has “independent and consistent… views and interests” that are “not determined by any third country.” (here)

Why such cowardly prevarication? Either the Modi government should show the courage to acknowledge that India has a pro-Zionist West Asian policy or join the vehement international opinion. There’s nothing to hide, really. PM Modi after all went and paid homage at the tomb of the founder of Zionism in broad daylight when he visited Israel, accompanied by PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Zionism and India’s freedom struggle are antithetical to each other. Period. There is no other way to frame the moral dilemma. But, inevitably, for the Modi government, political expediency trumps morality. It simply cannot bring itself to annoy Trump. Also, Netanyahu expects Modi to stand by – after all, Israeli and Indian companies are entering into co-production of advanced drone aircraft, finally.

But then, there is more to this than an intense family affair. The Modi government has high stakes in Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem. The point is, the Modi government is also preparing for its Jerusalem announcement – construction of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya. (Both are, ironically, “campaign pledges”.)

Circumstances may vary, but the powerful symbolism is quintessentially the same – bludgeoning the “other” party into submission by creating a fait accompli. Both Jerusalem and Ayodhya are explosive issues. In a world, which is barely coping with tensions and challenges of various kinds, it is illogical to inject more poison. The toxic act is unwarranted and risky unless based on consensus within a broader framework of reconciliation.

But, on the other hand, it has become necessary to placate the ‘core constituency’ at home as well as to address compulsions that exist or are expected shortly. Certainly, Trump must shore up his Christian support base and counts on the Jewish lobby to rescue him if the Congress attempts to impeach him – that is, if Michael Flynn implicates Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner (a Jew, ironically) by telling FBI special prosecutor Mueller’s team that he had contacted the Russians during the campaign itself while acting on Trump’s instructions.

In India, too, the “core constituency” of the ruling elite is no longer euphoric. Dawood Ibrahim is still in Pakistan; Article 370 remains in the book. Equally, Make in India isn’t taking off. The best option is to follow Trump’s footfalls to shore up the support base and distract public opinion. By a strange coincidence, Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem and the 25th anniversary of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya overlapped on November 6. (Indian Express )

Of course, Trump is going to be pilloried by the international opinion and the US’ Middle East policies will run into headwinds. Hopefully, Trump will reciprocate India’s support. Two is company, as they say.

The bottom line is, China is the winner. Beijing probably anticipates it. This is what the foreign ministry spokesman said in Beijing on November 6 even before Trump made the announcement:

  • We have noted the report and are paying close attention to the relevant development. What we worry about is any potential flare-up of regional tensions. The status of Jerusalem is a complicated and sensitive issue. All parties shall bear in mind regional peace and tranquility, proceed with caution, and avoid impacting on the long-standing basis for the settlement of the Palestinian issue or triggering new rivalry in the region.
  • China firmly supports and advances the Middle East peace process. We support the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights and stand behind Palestine in building an independent, full sovereignty state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. We call on all parties to remain committed to resolving disputes through negotiations and promoting regional peace and stability in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.

There is no daylight possible between China and the Muslim world. Whereas, from now onward, there is not only daylight but also moonlight possible between India and the Muslim world.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Their Jerusalem is our Ayodhya

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