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How to Bomb Syria

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | September 18, 2014

President Obama has announced that he is seeking a coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS in Iraq, Syria and wherever else it may be. That coalition, however, will apparently be neither a NATO coalition nor a United Nations coalition. Why not?

Part of the problem is that NATO member Turkey is refusing to allow air strikes against ISIS to be launched from its territory. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Turkey has been providing safe passage, safe haven, arms and other support for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and – oh yes – buying stolen oil at cut rate prices from them?

To be fair, Britain, France, Germany and other NATO countries have also balked at violating the sovereign air space of Syria. They undoubtedly remember that Syrian forces shot down a Turkish aircraft that entered Syrian air space in 2012 and that Syria is equipped with some of the most advanced and effective antiaircraft systems in the world, the Russian S-300 (and possibly S-400) series. They also might care about their own sovereignty.

On the other hand, the Syrian government is willing and has actually offered to cooperate. ISIS is their arch-enemy, and Syria has said that it would welcome US participation in the fight, as long as Syrian sovereignty is respected through coordination with the Syrian armed forces.

However, the US might not be needed in Syria. Chances are that the Syrians might be able to bring along their Russian and Iranian allies, and perhaps China, too. If the objective is to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, there’s no faster and more effective way to do it than to create a “coalition of the willing” that includes nearly everyone.

Of course, the US might not like to work with these countries, but so what? If they are willing, the plan removes a burden from the US and also eliminates the issue of violating Syrian sovereignty. They will get the job done, which allows the US and its allies to concentrate on ISIS forces in Iraq. A UN resolution to this effect is likely to be a shoo-in if it has US backing. No need to thank them.

Of course, such a plan is much too logical. It makes the assumption that the US actually wants to get rid of ISIS.  In fact, that’s not the case at all. Most ISIS weapons come from the US via Saudi Arabia, Turkey (NATO), Libya, Qatar, and the “moderate Syrian rebels”, who are “moderate” only by stretching the term to include some of the most intolerant Takfiri Islamists. Many are also not Syrian, but have been recruited from all over the world.  They are also not rebels, but rather mercenaries that commute to the battle zones from safe havens in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon.

Who supports ISIS, anyway, if not the countries committed to “degrade and destroy” it? These include the US, European NATO countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others. ISIS is a convenient way of dividing, weakening and sometimes overthrowing all the societies in the region.

All except one.

Is it a coincidence that the countries in question are all in Israel’s neighborhood? That they were named in Israel’s Clean Break plan as early as 1996? That the authors of the Clean Break plan, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, became top advisers in the G.W. Bush administration?

The plan is at least half implemented. Having coopted the Jordanian monarchy, overthrown the first freely elected civilian Egyptian government, destroyed the Libyan government and society, prevented a popular takeover of the Yemeni dictatorship, bribed and protected the Saudi and Gulf monarchies and laid waste to Iraq, there remain the northern tier of Lebanon, Syria and Iran, as well as the ongoing destruction of Iraq. Is it a coincidence that, with the exception of Iran, this is exactly where ISIS operates?

For whose benefit is this if not Israel’s? Certainly not for the US. We are exhausting our resources and manpower and creating more enemies for ourselves, not less. Granted, the weapons manufacturers and oil companies are doing great, but the rest of US society is paying a heavy price, as funds to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, educate our children, provide health care, increase home ownership and otherwise preserve and build upon the gains of our society over the last century are diverted to costly military adventures on behalf of Israel.

If we want to dispose of ISIS, we have no need to drop our bombs, only our hypocrisy. Not a single country in the world admits to supporting ISIS. We have only to use the end user terms of our arms sales to NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other recipients of US arms to prevent those arms from reaching ISIS.  We can use our influence with Turkey to shut down the sale of oil from ISIS-held territory.  We can also end the practice of providing arms to forces fighting the Syrian government. Most of those arms end up in ISIS hands.

ISIS began as a small insurgency in Iraq, but we and our regional allies are responsible for making it the problem that exists today. Our purpose was to use ISIS to weaken and divide all the countries in the region (except Israel). Now we are trying to use it as a pretext for direct US intervention in Syria, which the American people rejected last year.

If the US is serious about getting rid of ISIS, there are better ways to do it than sending our combat aircraft into Syria without the permission of the Syrian government, the UN, or even NATO. Let’s stop trying to deceive the American public, the Congress and the world about our intentions. The Obama plan doesn’t pass the smell test.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.

September 19, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan puts on hold Russian sanctions in view of possible FM talks

RT | September 19, 2014

The Japanese government has pushed back imposing new sanctions on Russia, which it planned to impose on Friday, in expectation of a possible meeting of foreign ministers next week.

The Japanese media reported Thursday of Tokyo’s intention to issue additional sanctions against Russia. The move was discussed on Tuesday at a National Security Council meeting and was expected to be announced on Friday, but according to The Japan Times the government is yet to make a final decision.

The implementation could be postponed until at least next week, when Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida may meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. Tokyo wants to give Moscow more time to respond to the reports of the looming sanctions, the newspaper said.

Japan imposed sanctions on Russia in March as a gesture of solidarity with the US and the EU, which are championing a policy of punishing Russia for its stance on the crisis in Ukraine. Tokyo suspended talks with Moscow over visa restrictions, investment, space cooperation and military tension prevention. It also targeted 40 individuals from Russia and Ukraine with asset freezes and travel bans.

The new round of sanctions was expected to be individual rather than sectorial.

September 19, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Russia, China to sign new 30 year gas deal via 2nd route

The BRICS Post | September 18, 2014

Russia plans to sign a 30-year gas supply contract with China via the western route, Russian energy giant Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. The route to supply gas to China via western Siberia may be implemented faster than the eastern route, through which Moscow has agreed to ship the fuel to its Asian neighbor in May.

“Gazprom plans to sign a contract to supply China with 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas via western route over thirty years,” Miller said.

The China-Russia West Route natural gas pipeline project connects gas deposits in Western Siberia and the northwestern part of China via Russia’s Altai region, securing the world’s top energy user a major source of cleaner fuel.

The potential of this route is “enormous”, the Gazprom CEO told the Russian President.

“It is even greater than in Eastern Siberia and, without a doubt, we can increase the volume of gas supplies very quickly via the western route, depending on the growth in demand in the Chinese market,” said Miller.

Gazprom is to sign the 30-year contract with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in November. The deal will directly link Russia’s huge gas fields to Asia’s booming market for the first time.

Miller also said Gazprom might consider more than doubling the volume of supply.

“We plan to sign a contract for a volume of 30 billion cubic metres for 30 years, though the talks have also looked at other figures for new contracts concluded for the western route. We are looking at the possibilities for supplying 60 billion cubic metres or up to 100 billion cubic metres of gas to China,” Miller told Putin in Moscow.

China and Russia signed a $400-billion gas supply deal in May this year, opening up a new market for Moscow as it risks losing European customers over the Ukraine crisis.

The Russian part of the joint venture pipeline, officially dubbed “Power of Siberia”, will be built by Gazprom with a total investment of $55 billion.

Construction of the China- Russia East Route natural gas pipeline started this month in this eastern Siberian city of Yakutsk.

TBP and Agencies

September 18, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

Sanctions against Russia ‘violate’ core principles of WTO – Putin

RT | September 18, 2014

President Vladimir Putin has said that sanctions against Russia directly violate World Trade Organization (WTO) principles, and that Russia will continue to defend its economy with protective measures.

The sanctions violate the main principles of equal access for all WTO members to economic activity and access to goods and services in the market, Putin said at a meeting with advisers in the Kremlin on Thursday.

“The limitations introduced against our country are nothing but a violation by some of our partners of the basic principles of the WTO,” the President said, adding that sanctions “undermine free enterprise competition.”

On September 12, the US and EU expanded sanctions against Russia aimed at hurting Russia’s main industry – oil. The US and EU have led sanctions against Russia, along with Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and others over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the Ukraine conflict.

The best way for Russia to counter these unfair advantages is to develop its domestic market, the President said.

“In response, we took protective measures, and I would like to stress that they are protective; they are not the result of our desire to punish any of our partners or influence their decision in any way.”

Russia introduced protective measures over food supplies on August 7 in response to Western sanctions. The Kremlin and White House sanctions tit-for-tat has been escalating since March, when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.

The food ban is due to only last a year, but at today’s meeting the President said that Russia needs to focus on increasing its market competitiveness over the next eighteen months to two years.

One of Russia’s main competitive advantages is its huge domestic market, and it should be filled with more Russian-made products, Putin said.

The President said that Russia’s decision to join the WTO in 2012 was a difficult transition for the country, but that it raised economic standards.

At the meeting President Putin laid out a list of economic priorities for the Russian state. At the top are developing the infrastructure, boosting lending, continuing to develop the agricultural and technology sectors, and increasing overall competition.

Russia joined the WTO in 2012 after nearly two decades of back and forth negotiations on the conditions for entry.

READ MORE: Russia to appeal against US, EU sanctions to WTO

September 18, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU court rescinds Iran central bank sanctions

Press TV – September 18, 2014

A top European court has struck down restrictions imposed by the European Union against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) on an alleged charge of circumventing US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In a judgment on Thursday, the Luxembourg-based EU’s Court of Justice said it “annuls… the EU March 23, 2012 [ruling] concerning restrictive measures against Iran in so far as it listed Central Bank of Iran.”

“The reasons relied on are so vague and lacking in detail that the only possible response was in the form of a general denial,” the court ruled on Thursday, adding that “those reasons therefore do not comply with the requirements of the case-law.”

It said the charge leveled against the CBI is “insufficient in the sense that it does not enable either the applicant or the Court to understand the circumstances which led the [European] Council to consider…to adopt the contested act.”

The court also ordered the 28-nation European bloc to “bear one half of its own costs and to pay one half of the costs of Central Bank of Iran.”

At the beginning of 2012, the US and EU imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany reached an interim deal in the Swiss city of Geneva last November, according to which the six countries accepted to ease sanctions against Iran in return for the Islamic Republic limiting certain aspects of its nuclear activities. The deal came into effect on January 20 and expired on July 20. The two sides then agreed to extend the duration of the agreement until November 24.

The two sides are scheduled to resume talks on Friday to discuss removal of sanctions against Tehran.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | 5 Comments

Remembering the Turkey-Brazil nuclear deal with Iran, and how Obama killed it

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | September 17, 2014

If ever there was any need to prove that the US — not just under Bush but also under Obama — is using the “Iranian nuclear threat” as a manufactured pretext and cover for an entirely different policy of imposing regime-change on Iran, one only need remember the Turkey/Brazil nuclear deal with Iran, and how Obama pulled the rug out from under its own allies after they had gotten a “Yes” from Iran to  terms that the Obama administration itself had endorsed in a letter just 1 week earlier — thus again moving the goalpost to ensure that the nuclear threat pretext would be kept alive.

This is what IAEA director Elbaradei wrote about that deal in his book, Age of Deception:

On May 17, 2010, in a joint declaration, Iran, Brazil, and Turkey announced they had reached an agreement on a fuel swap. Iran would send twelve hundred kilograms of LEU to Turkey, in a single shipment, to be held in escrow while Iran’s research reactor fuel was being fabricated. It was a leap forward-particularly because it signaled the willingness of new players, Turkey and Brazil, to take an active role in resolving the diplomatic impasse.

But the very next day, in a masterstroke of diplomatic futility, the P-5+1 announced that they had reached agreement on a fourth Security Council resolution to escalate sanctions on Iran for not bringing its enrichment program to a halt. Hillary Clinton called the fuel swap deal with Turkey and Brazil a “transparent ploy” on Iran’s part to avoid new sanctions.

I was dumbstruck and, to say the least, grievously disappointed. Once again, as I noted in an interview with Jornal do Brasil, the West had refused to take yes for an answer.[27] Brazil and Turkey were outraged. Ahmadinejad urged the United States to accept the fuel swap as a move toward openness and dialogue. At the Security Council, Brazil voted against the sanctions-to no avail. The Western powers once more had touched a solution with their fingertips, only to brush it away.

When I had first proposed the fuel swap, Iran had produced about fifteen hundred kilograms of enriched uranium, so the agreement would have removed most of Iran’s inventory from the country. By the time of the agreement with Turkey and Brazil, the stock had risen to about twenty-five hundred kilograms, which of course made the agreement less attractive to the Americans as a diplomatic point of entry, since Iran would be retaining a “significant quantity.” Iran also had not committed, in the agreement, to stop enriching to 20 percent, although Ahmadinejad had hinted that they would do so.

The Western powers were not happy about these aspects of the deal, but it was obvious to me that they could easily and successfully have addressed these issues in the early stages of negotiation. It was incomprehensible and somewhat naïve to ask Iran-or any country, for that matter-to give up everything before the start of talks and expect a positive response. But the pattern was familiar: nothing would satisfy, short of Iran coming to the table completely undressed.

Demanding that Iran give up her rights before entering into negotiations was the same tactic that the Bush administration had been using in order to prevent any peaceful resolution to the standoff. These ‘excess demands’ — including that Iran give up enrichment entirely (“zero enrichment) before any negotiations — are imposed on Iran by the US  precisely for that reason. In fact, Iran has long been making compromise offers that would address any real nuclear-weapons concerns, only to see them ignored or deliberately undermined by the US making illegal demands on Iran:

In 2005 Iran was ready to discuss an upper limit for the number of its centrifuges and to maintain its rate of enrichment far below the high levels necessary for weapons. Tehran also expressed its readiness to allow intrusive inspections, even in non-declared sites. But at that time Europe and the US wanted to compel Iran to ditch its enrichment programme entirely.

Iranians assume that this is still the European and US goal, and that for this reason the security council insists on suspension of all Iranian enrichment activities. But the goal of “zero centrifuges operating in Iran, permanently or temporarily” is unrealistic, and has contributed greatly to the present standoff.

Among the justifications provided later for the rejection of the Turkey/Brazil deal by Obama was that since Iran had continued to enrich uranium, the 1200 lbs that were to be exported did not constitute a significant-enough amount of Iran’s stockpile of enriched Uranium.

However, actual nuclear scientists pointed out too that even if Iran had agreed earlier to the same deal, the actual difference in the amount of enriched uranium in its stockpile would not have been significantly different:

“We have calculated just what the differences in the proposed sequences and timing of the swap really amounted to. The answer is: very little… Indeed, if the swap had been agreed when it was first proposed last October, by the time the fuel rods would have been ready the following October, there would be no difference between the two positions.”

And

“Thus, at very little actual, technical cost, Iran has appeared to make a significant concession. The US and its allies should have beaten Iran to it, but they didn’t. The question now is whether we could accept Iran’s “yes” as an answer.

Ceasing enrichment was in fact never part of the original conditions to a deal that Obama endorsed just weeks earlier as the Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim pointed out:

“It wasn’t on the agenda. Nobody told us, ‘Hey if you don’t stop 20 percent enrichment, forget the deal.’

In fact Iran would never have accepted such a demand and had consistently refused this precondition on talks for a while. After all, this entire deal was meant to be a “confidence-building” measure, not a permanent end to the standoff, and Iran had been demanding that their enriched uranium go to a third, neutral country to be held in escrow until Iran actually received the promised nuclear fuel in exchange, precisely because it didn’t trust the US to come through on its promises.

Nor was this the first time that the US killed-off a potential peaceful resolution to the standoff: the same happened in the EU-3 negotiations with Iran during the Paris Agreement affair of 2005, in which the Europeans and Iranians were engaged in negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program — limits that were supposed to recognize Iran’s right to enrichment — but apparently the EU negotiators themselves didn’t know that the Brits and Americans had already agreed not to recognize Iran’s right to enrichment, regardless of what they had been telling the Iranians.

Ultimately, and Peter Jenkins stated in an interview with Scott Horton in 2012

The Israelis don’t want to see peace between the US and Iran.

And that has not changed. The fact is, the Obama administration can’t make a deal with Iran, even if it wanted, because Obama can’t lift the sanctions on Iran due to the influence of Israel in Congress, and Congressional action would be required to lift the US sanctions on Iran – -without which there can be no deal.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Wars for Israel, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

A Fusion Center for United Against Nuclear Iran & Foundation for Defense of Democracies?

By John Stanton | Dissident Voice | September 17, 2014

The Justice department would like to the see the UANI lawsuit go away as it is aware that what is being described as “law enforcement” documents would include both privileged and classified Treasury Department work product relating to individuals and companies that it has investigated for sanctions busting. Passing either intelligence related or law enforcement documents to a private organization is illegal but the Justice Department’s only apparent concern is that the activity might be exposed. There is no indication that it would go after UANI for having acquired the information and it perhaps should be presumed that the source of the leak is the Treasury Department itself.

Phil Giraldi

Enforcing those AIPAC-endorsed sanctions has been the happy task of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Created in early 2004 after intensive lobbying by AIPAC and its associated think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the TFI unit has been aptly described as “a sharp-edged tool forged principally to serve the Israel lobby.” With David S. Cohen succeeding Stuart Levey as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in January 2011, a leading journalist on the Middle East was later prompted to call the position “a job which seems reserved for pro-Israeli neo-cons to wage economic warfare against Tehran.” In recent days, Cohen’s TFI unit has been eagerly waging economic warfare against Damascus. Daniel L. Glaser, the Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, has just completed a tour of Lebanon and Jordan to secure their compliance with economic sanctions against the Assad government. In Beirut, the U.S. Embassy announced that Glaser was pressing the authorities to “remain vigilant against attempts by the Syrian regime to evade U.S. and EU sanctions.

Maidc O Cathail

So now that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked the U.S. States Secret privilege in the matter of Victor Restis & EST v United Against Nuclear Iran, American citizens might come to understand why foreign nations like China, Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates treat American non-profits or non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) with scorn. Some of these U.S. Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt, 501C3 .org’s, or “Associations”, operating overseas are nearly the equivalent of U.S. embassies: U.S. intelligence operatives and free market ideologues populate leadership and staff positions. Funding for their operations are a mix of U.S. government and corporate largesse. Private donations figure as well. In some cases they are not-so-subtle advocates for regime-change.

Robert Merry’s piece April 2012 piece in The Atlantic does a fine job of pointing out some of the more nefarious activities of NGO’s and non-profits. In Why Do Some Foreign Countries Hate American NGOs So Much? Merry opines:

For anyone trying to understand why this anger is welling up in those countries, it might be helpful to contemplate how Americans would feel if similar organizations from China or Russia or India were to pop up in Washington, with hundreds of millions of dollars given to them by those governments, bent on influencing our politics. One supposes it would generate substantial anger among Americans if these groups tried to tilt our elections toward one party or another. But suppose they were trying to upend our very system of government, as U.S.-financed NGOs are trying to do these days in various countries–and have done in recent years in numerous locations.

Americans have a network of Israel-First organizations in the United States that are “bent on influencing our politics”. They constitute a Deep State that has no remorse in sacrificing American lives and security for the benefit of Israel.  Two of these non-profits are United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). They are part of the local, state and federal matrix of Israel-First non-profits in the U.S.

UANI has managed to get 40 American state legislatures to pass, nearly unopposed, draconian sanctions on Iran which clearly are meant to instigate the general populace to revolt. UANI claims credit for many pieces of federal legislation designed to strangle the Iranians and inflict damage of the type that sanctions leveled on the Iraqi civilian populace caused.

UANI develops model legislation for adoption by the federal government and U.S. state governments to sever Iran from international trade and financial markets and prohibit investment in Iran. UANI’s model legislation provisions were included in the federal government’s Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), and in debarment legislation adopted in California, Florida, New York, Indiana, Maryland and Connecticut that bars companies with Iran business from receiving taxpayer dollars.

FDD spearheads a similar program:

FDD’s work has informed numerous pieces of Iran sanctions legislation, which were passed with overwhelming bipartisan congressional support, and which are now U.S. law, including the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013); the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012; Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012; and, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010.  These laws target Iran’s energy, financial, shipping, insurance, commercial, and proliferation activities, and the regime’s human rights abuses.  The legislative measures are widely viewed as the most robust U.S. measures yet imposed against the Iranian regime. European and Canadian officials also relied on FDD research to inform their complementary sanctions policies. Beyond gasoline, the Iran Energy Project also seeks to reduce the amount of oil revenue the Iranian regime can devote to advancing its illicit nuclear program and repressing its citizens. As part of this effort, FDD has performed studies on sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank, the role of the IRGC in Iran’s energy sector, and the impact of a worldwide Iranian Oil Free Zone.

According to Phillip Weiss, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff were prophetic:

In late 1947, the JCS had written that ‘A decision to partition Palestine, if the decision were supported by the United States, would prejudice United States strategic interests in the Near and Middle East to the point that United States influence in the area would be curtailed to that which could be maintained by military force.’ That is to say, the concern of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not with the security of Israel-but with the security of American lives.

And so it has come to pass that the U.S. has sustained the existence of Israel through trillions (US dollars) in foreign assistance (since 1947). The U.S. has tolerated espionage and the theft of American technology, military secrets and nuclear weapons design. The U.S. government and media have been so bent by Israel-First influence that it is nearly impossible to openly criticize Israel about its thinly disguised destruction of the Palestinian people.

It just does not seem enough for the Israel-First network. How much more must Americans sacrifice for the sake of Israel? When will the big dog set things right and get the tail to begin to obey? Few Americans want to abandon Israel but to see the United States of America getting bent over the knee by Israel is unsettling.

And with the U.S. Attorney’s invocation of the State Secrets privilege now providing cover for UANI’s operations, it is obvious what is afoot. Circumstantially, the evidence is damning: U.S. and Israel intelligence data seems to be moving between UANI, FDD and the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the U.S. Treasury. The three organizations form a sort of a privatized sanctions enforcement regime apparently benefiting from government intelligence operatives and/or business intelligence snoops. Where you find David S. Cohen of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence you will also find some link to UANI or FDD.  And then there is the fear factor: Financial sanctions, loss of business in Israel, and loss of political office in the U.S. How two non-profits became so powerful and feared is a testimony to the strength of the Israel-First organizations and their ability to bend the political consciousness of the United States of America.

Some Items for “You” to Explore

“From: Bart Mongoven

To: Reva Bhalla

Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 2:49:34 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central

Our mission (in the short term) is to determine how much flexibility is in the seemingly inflexible demand that the client…Client is Honeywell, which makes surveillance equipment Iran uses to monitor/secure pipelines and (allegedly) nuclear reactors…get out of Iran “right now.” The client says that it will not sign another contract but that it does not want to breach contracts that are in place. This is the position that Ingersoll Rand and Siemens have taken, and it seemed ok with UANI. At the same time, UANI is telling our client that the same pledge isn’t good enough. Is UANI still in talks or putting similar pressure on those who have pledged that they will leave when current contracts are up?…How did they decide to start targeting corporations — is there a model it is following (like the Save Darfur coalition or something else)? How do they choose their small list of targets since there are so many companies operating in Iran? Do they know people at the corporations they target? How closely do UANI and FDD work? Are there any deadlines in Iran — elections, feared nuke tests, coming deaths of really sick clerics, etc., that requires FDD and UANI show progress quickly?”

As for the Marc Rich case, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy accurately described it as “one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of the Justice Department.” Congressional investigators called it “unconscionable.” Fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich, on the run for evading nearly $50 million in taxes, found the best lawyer he could buy: former Democratic White House counsel and intimate friend of Eric Holder, Jack Quinn. Despite his denials, memos showed Holder knew of the pardon in advance, failed to notify prosecutors and the FBI that it was coming, “and even gave Quinn public-relations advice on getting out the ‘legal merits of the case.’” The evidence clearly shows Holder and Quinn violated department protocols and colluded to keep the Justice Department out of the pardon deal.’

“The central issue in this case involves an allegation that the defendants, as senior officers, managers, agents and nominees for the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (“BCCI”1), illegally and secretly sought to acquire ownership and maintain control of First American Corporation: FIRST AMERICAN CORP., et al., Plaintiffs, v. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan AL-NAHYAN, et al., Defendants….United States District Court, District of Columbia. November 26, 1996. William Horace Jeffress, Jr., Herbert John Miller, Jr., Douglas Frank Curtis, Martin David Minsker, David S. Cohen, Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin, L.L.P., Washington, DC, William B. Shields, Washington, DC, for defendants Clark M. Clifford, Robert Alan Altman.”

David S. Cohen…Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who oversees the OFAC sanctions effort, reportedly following meetings with Israeli officials, said last week’s actions were meant to “tighten the screws and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime. ”The US is counting on the Iranian people to turn against and overthrow their government because of sanctions-induced hardships…In reality, the sanctions target the civilian population and the “Iranian regime” won’t be much affected… Despite the public relations language that “food and medicine are exempted from the brutal US-led sanctions, as OFAC well knows, the reality is something else. They know well the chilling effects of the sanctions on international suppliers of medicines and food stuffs with respect to a targeted country. The US Treasury department has thousands of gigabytes of data confirming that the boards of directors of international business do not, and will not allow their companies to risk millions of dollars in profits by technically violating any of the thousands of details in the sanctions — many of which are subject to interpretation — for the sake of doing business with Iran or Syria.”

“More about Stuart Levey’s intimate connections to both the US Treasury and the Justice Department: After leaving the Treasury Department, Mr. Levey was a Senior Fellow for National Security and Financial Integrity at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to his Treasury appointment, Mr. Levey served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the US Department of Justice, having previously served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General and as the Chief of Staff of the Deputy Attorney General. Where is Stuart Levey today? Why, he’s on the HSBC Board of Directors as the Chief Legal Officer of HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC operations worldwide. We got all this information about Mr. Levey from his HSBC bio page. There we learned that he has been the drug money-laundering megabank’s Chief Legal Officer since January 2012. Thus, he would have been intimately involved in (and legally responsible for) the crafting of HSBC’s December 2012 Get Out of Jail Free settlement with the Justice Department. Intelligence from David S. Cohen’s group at Treasury must have also played a role in advising Justice on the historic settlement.

David S. Cohen, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence: “Increasing Iran’s Isolation…First, we will continue to identify ways to isolate Iran from the international financial system. We will do so by maintaining our aggressive campaign of applying sanctions against individuals and entities engaged in, or supporting, illicit Iranian activities and by engaging with the private sector and foreign governments to amplify the impact of these measures. As part of this effort we will also target Iran’s attempts to evade international sanctions through the use of non-bank financial institutions, such as exchange houses and money services businesses. And we will explore new measures to expand our ability to target Iran’s remaining links to the global financial sector. In particular, we are looking carefully at actions that could increase pressure on the value of the rial. In that connection, we will continue to actively investigate any sale of gold to the Government of Iran, which can be used to prop up its currency and to compensate for the difficulty it faces in accessing its foreign reserves. We currently have authority under E.O. 13622 to target those who provide gold to the Iranian government and, as of July I, IFCA will expand that authority to target for sanctions the sale of gold to or from anyone in Iran for any purpose.

~

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security affairs. He wrote The Raptor’s Eye, and his latest book is US Army Human Terrain System. He can be reached at: captainkong22@gmail.com.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop Postulating the Clash of Civilizations

By Dr. Mahathir Mohamid | CounterPunch | September 17, 2014

The British are mystified by their Muslim citizens becoming “jihadists” and joining the so-called Islamic State. They are horrified by the beheading of an American journalist by “John” a British citizen and member of the IS.

I must admit that I, too am horrified. It is not Islamic at all. Islam does not advocate violence and terror. The people who were defeated by the Prophet were not even converted to Islam, much less executed. The Quran says, “There is no compulsion in Islam.”

But we are seeing more and more violence and atrocities committed by Muslims. And now we have the Islamic State “Jihadists”, some of whom come from countries where they had migrated to because life is good there. Having enjoyed the good life, why are these people opting to join revolutionary movements and live dangerous lives, fighting against the very people who are their hosts. Could it be, as some people suggest, that they have been reading books such as “Islam for Dummies?”

Why? Recently we saw the mass killings of Muslims and destruction of their homes and towns by Israelis in Gaza. More than 2000 Muslims have been killed. They include little children and old people, non-combatants all. Thousands more have been seriously wounded, many losing arms and legs.

No concern or sympathy has been shown by the Europeans and Americans. In fact the Americans gave money and arms for Israelis to kill more Muslims and destroy their homes and towns.

If the beheading of a European Journalist is evidence of the barbarity of Muslims, cannot there be the same perception of Israeli killings of Muslims in Gaza? No. They are all terrorists, babies included, and a democratic country like Israel has every right to kill them and destroy their homes, towns and cities.

If we care to look back, we cannot but acknowledge that the so-called Middle Eastern Muslims were very hospitable to the Europeans before. But, the European nations played their great games there. They created the states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine out of one single entity called Sham by the Arabs. Muslims then had no nation-states. They only regard themselves as the Muslim community, the Ummah.

The Europeans expelled the Turks and proceeded to divide Sham between them, although they had promised the Arabs that Sham would be liberated and handed over to the Arabs.

Following the European great games Iraq went to the British while Syria and Lebanon to the French. Palestine was made a British mandated territory to be returned to the Palestinians later. Palestine for centuries had been inhabited by Muslim and Christian Arabs and a small number of Jews. Under Muslim rule they lived in peace despite their different religions.

Then the British decided to make a Jewish state out of Palestine in order to solve the Jewish problem in Europe. Balfour, in 1917, promised to give land belonging to the Palestinian to the Zionist. It was so easy. Take other people’s land to give to the Jews without any regard for the majority Arabs living there. And the Jews celebrated the creation of Israel with massacres of Arabs and expulsion from Palestine. This was apparently sanctioned by the UN in 1948 when Israel was recognised as a state. Arab resentment was ignored.

Since then the Middle East has experienced no peace. Every time the Palestine Arabs tried to regain their homeland, they were prevented by the massive help and support of Israel by the European nations, in particular by America.

With every failure the Arabs became even more angry and determined to regain their homeland. The Arab countries stopped helping the Palestinians. Undeterred, they set up Al-Fatah to throw stones at Israeli soldiers in armoured cars. The stone-throwing children were shot at by the soldiers with rubber coated and then live bullets.

Fatah acquired some ineffective weapons to fight in defence. They were shot and killed and thousands were captured and thrown into Israeli jails for indefinite periods without trial. Palestine lands were seized and settlements for Jews built. It was against all laws and practices which the Europeans pride in saying they uphold.

And so instead of stopping Israel, the Europeans continued their support with funds and arms. The Israelis actually occupied Palestine land and set up road blocks to control movements of the Palestinian and visitors. Roads were built through Palestinian land for the exclusive use of the Israelis. High walls were constructed in Palestine territory for Israeli security. Gaza is put under siege by Israel. Ships in international waters were seized by the Israeli navy.

Aid workers on high seas were shot and killed; their ships boarded and forced to go to Israeli ports. The aid goods were confiscated. All these are against international laws but the big powers did nothing. But these were not all. Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments and acts were exhibited by Europeans elsewhere also. Having predicted a clash of civilisations they seem bent on making it a reality.

In Bosnia Herzegovina 12,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered with axes and bludgeons after Dutch NATO troops who were supposed to protect them simply moved away to allow Serbs to carry out their murderous work.

Then came the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after blaming the Muslims for the destruction of the twin towers of the world trade centre in New York. The Iraqis were not responsible for this. But Iraq was accused of having weapons of mass destruction capable of being launched against Britain within 45 minutes. Later it was admitted by the Brits that this was a lie. Unashamedly the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ordered the collaboration with the United States in the invasion of Iraq claimed that the attack, the massive destruction of Iraqi cities and towns and the killings of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis was in order to liberate them from Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was caught and hanged. But the occupation and war continued. When finally the Americans and Europeans left Iraq, this once stable and progressive Arab country descended into anarchy and civil war with Iraqis killing Iraqis.

Afghanistan was invaded to overthrow the Taliban and to kill Osama bin Ladin. Osama is dead but there is no peace in Afghanistan. The Iraqi and Afghan invasion was supposed to be over in three months. But after ten years and the almost total destruction of the two countries, meaningful democracy and peace have not come to these two unfortunate nations. They have been rendered totally unstable and fratricidal wars are tearing them apart.

The CIA has drawn up a list of Muslims to be killed. The West condemns the practices of detention without trial. Now we see in the West death sentences being passed on Muslims without trial. The intended victims are not even told about their death sentence. No attempt is made to arrest even. Drones are simply dispatched to kill these Muslims. In the case of Osama bin Ladin killer squads were dropped into Pakistan without even informing that country. And Osama’s body was thrown into the sea, a practice worthy of barbarians.

Through all these, the U.S., Britain and other European countries express no regret and certainly no sympathy for the Muslim victims of their war on terror. Thousands of them, men, women, children, babies, old and sick people have been and are being killed without evoking the slightest concern or regret among the Europeans.

I don’t for one moment regard the beheading of the American journalist as Islamic, despite the claim of ISIL. I think it is disgraceful for Muslims to do such thing. It is against the teachings of Islam. But can any young and impressionable Muslim be blamed if they are so easily mislead into committing heinous crimes to avenge the injustice and oppression of their brothers and sisters in religion.

It is not the religion of Islam that led the Muslims to committing heinous acts. It is simply anger, hate and rage over not being able to do anything to stop the Europeans or West from oppressing people who profess the same religion as themselves. And Europeans, most of whom are not practicing Christians, react in the same way when Christians are faced with any threat.

Look at the record of the Europeans, especially after they created Israel. Now, although they will not admit it, they are carrying out a crusade against Islam and the Muslims. Call it a war on terror or the clash of civilizations. But factually it is still a continuation of the crusade of the past centuries.

Against this modern Crusade the Muslims have no answer. They don’t have a Saladin (Salah El Din) to lead them. And over the centuries they have allowed themselves to become weak. They have ignored the injunctions of Allah in the Quran that they must be prepared to defend the ummah and Islam.

Their religious teachers tell them to pray to Allah for help. But they neglect to inform that in the Quran Allah enjoins upon Muslims to help themselves first if they want Allah to answer their prayers. Quite obviously the Muslims have not followed this injunction. In fact many believe that it has been preordained that they should suffer European oppression.

Today not a single Government of a Muslim country has dared to challenge the Europeans. Indeed many believe that the Europeans are a superior race that they should look up to; that it is futile to defend themselves against European aggression and oppression. Not a single Muslim country dares to stand up to the Europeans.

Expecting no help from the Governments of Muslim countries, many angry and frustrated Muslims took upon themselves to take revenge against the hated Europeans. For this purpose they preach their version of the teachings of Islam so as to influence young Muslim to be prepared to sacrifice their lives in a holy war.

All Muslims truly believe that to die in the defence of Islam and the Muslims results in martyrdom and heaven in the afterlife. It is not too difficult to convince young Muslims in the face of the injustice and oppression of Muslims that the war against the Europeans is a holy war.

But a war against the European promises no easy victory. Seeking revenge through acts of terror is much easier. And so the so-called jihadists are prepared to commit atrocities like beheading a European and recording it for the world to see. I would like to say it again, it is not Islamic this beheading. Certainly it is not Islamic for Sunnis to massacre captured Shiahs or Shiahs to murder Sunnis.

The two sects had always fought each other in their mutual belief that the other is not Muslim. But what is happening today is bloodlust which started with the fight against Jewish Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel. Unable to defeat the Jews and their nominally Christian Europeans backers, the Muslims have now turned against each other. And occasionally when they manage to capture a European, they vent their spite on him.

This will go on for decades and even centuries, waxing and waning, for as long as there is the state of Israel and the Palestinians are denied their right to a homeland.

It is the seizure of Palestinian land to form the state of Israel which triggered the violent reaction of the Muslims in the last 70 over years. The Jewish reaction to the violent struggle of the Palestinians is to out terrorise them. That in turn resulted in other Muslims joining the Palestinian struggle. Unable to wage war they resort to acts of terror. And Israeli state terror escalated.

Directly and indirectly the Europeans back Israeli state terrorism. And so it goes on. So what is the solution? It is certainly not more suppression and oppression of the Muslims, and in particular the Palestinian.

The solution lies in fairness and justice for the Palestinians.

I am writing this in Chechnya, a republic in the Russian Federation. The Chechens fought a war of independence against the Russians. It was a futile war. Three million ill-equipped Chechens against 200 million Russians with one of the most powerful military forces in the world. Chechnya and Grozny its capital were razed to the ground before they were forced to stop fighting.

After the war the Russians allocated a trillion dollars to rebuild Chechnya and Grozny. Today, eight years after war ended, there is not a trace of the massive destruction caused by Russian missiles and bombs. Instead the whole country, and in particular Grozny has been completely rebuilt.

And today the Chechens can once again believe and practice the Muslim religion. Beautiful mosques and religious school abound. There is no more communist sanction against Islam. Chechnya remains a republic in the Russian Federation but in religion and in many ways it is independent. The relation with Russia is friendly.

Maybe there is something to learn from the Chechen saga. Stop the oppression of Palestine. Stop the Crusade. Stop postulating the clash of civilizations. Stop regime change. Stop supplying arms for Muslims to fight Muslims. It may take time but slowly the jihadists, will have no incentive to fight.

Allah has ordained that the enemy of the Muslims are those who fight and oppress them. Muslims must not war against those who have not attacked them (in any way). That is the way of Islam – peace unless you declare war against Islam.

Muslims who adhere strictly to these tenets and wish to live at peace with non-Muslims can only have credibility and be listened to if the oppression of the Muslims ceases.

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Strange logic of the ISIS war

By Nat Parry · Essential Opinion · September 15, 2014

DemocracyWeDeliver_640pxOfficials in Washington are inadvertently providing some insight into the strange logic of their nebulous war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, in contradictory and puerile statements about whether the military action should be called a war, or perhaps something else.

Backtracking on an earlier statement that the action against ISIS is simply a “counterterrorism operation,” Secretary of State John Kerry clarified in an interview on Sunday that it is, in fact, a “war.”

“In terms of al-Qaeda, which we have used the word ‘war’ with, yeah, we are at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” Kerry said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense. But I think it’s a waste of time to focus on that,” Kerry said, adding that there’s “kind of tortured debate going on about terminology.”

On one hand, Kerry may be right that these semantic arguments are something of a distraction, since the debate should be more properly focused on whether the policies of airstrikes are effective, legal, moral and justified, not whether they are called a “war” or a “counterterrorism operation.”

On the other hand, the very fact that we are having this public dispute about which of our military actions qualify as “wars,” which ones are “counterterrorism operations,” and which ones are just run-of-the-mill bombing campaigns should sound the alarm that our political culture of perpetual war is out of control, having reached a bizarre and perilous point about which Americans are increasingly confused and the Constitution is ill-equipped to handle.

Indicative of this strange new normal was a poll released Sept. 4 revealing that few Americans actually know which countries the U.S. is currently bombing. Only about one third of Americans, according to the YouGov survey, knew that the U.S. has not yet conducted strikes in Syria, while 30 percent thought that it has, and the remainder admitted they were unsure.

At the same time, just a quarter of Americans knew that the U.S. military has carried out strikes in Somalia and Pakistan during the past six months, and only 16 percent were aware of strikes in Yemen.

It’s hard to imagine another country on earth in which the citizens could be so confused about which countries were currently being bombed by their government, but then again, no other country on earth is bombing so many other countries so regularly.

When it comes to the strikes targeting ISIS, when administration officials are not arguing about what to call the operation, they seem to be crafting flimsy legal foundations for the strikes by dusting off the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force.

These rationales have not been terribly convincing, with the New York Times pointing out that the 2001 law applied specifically to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and al-Qaeda more broadly, but since ISIS is not affiliated with al-Qaeda, the law clearly doesn’t apply to the current situation.

“The fact that al-Qaeda has disavowed ISIS, deeming it too radical, does not seem to prevent the administration from ignoring the logic of the law,” the Times noted.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has not even bothered to provide a justification for the strikes under international law.

It has instead asserted without elaboration that borders present no constraints to U.S. military action. “We are lifting the restrictions on our air campaigns,” a senior administration official told reporters during a recent background briefing. “We are dealing with an organization that operates freely across a border, and we will not be constrained by that border.”

Under international law, however, borders most certainly do pose constraints. The sanctity of borders is enshrined in the UN Charter in fact, which states, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

One reason for the administration’s silence regarding the international legal basis for the possible use of force against ISIS in Syria is that none exists, since the Bashar al-Assad regime has not consented to the use of force in its territory.

As John Bellinger writes at Lawfare, “This will leave the administration to cobble together a variety of international legal rationales.” Some of these might include the argument that ISIS is part of al-Qaeda and therefore part of the U.S. armed conflict, or perhaps some sort of co-belligerency theory, or perhaps collective self-defense.

“Ultimately,” Bellinger speculates, “the administration may choose not to articulate an international legal basis at all, and instead to cite a variety of factual ‘factors’ that ‘justify’ the use of force, as the Clinton administration did for the Kosovo war.  But it would be much preferable for the administration to provide legal reasons.”

This is especially true considering the fact that the administration has recently been waving around “international law” as a rallying cry to confront and isolate Russia over its alleged meddling in eastern Ukraine in recent months. As Secretary of State John Kerry said following the Russian annexation of Crimea last spring, “What has already happened is a brazen act of aggression, in violation of international law and violation of the UN Charter.”

President Obama touted principles of international law in a speech last May at West Point at which he emphasized the importance of the U.S. setting the standard for upholding legal principles and international norms. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example,” he said. “We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

Now that international law is being cast aside by the United States, it is Russia who is emerging as one of the strongest critics of the threatened actions against the territorial integrity of Syria. Moscow said Thursday that air strikes against militants in Syria without a UN Security Council mandate would be an act of aggression.

“The U.S. president has spoken directly about the possibility of strikes by the U.S. armed forces against [ISIS] positions in Syria without the consent of the legitimate government,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

“This step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law.”

Then there is the fundamental issue of whether the war – or counterterrorism operation – would even achieve its stated goals of degrading ISIS and eliminating the threat that it allegedly poses to U.S. security.

The morning after President Obama made his case to the American people as to why the nation’s security depends on decisive military action against ISIS, the New York Times again called into question the administration’s strange logic with a front-page story announcing that “American intelligence agencies have concluded that [ISIS] poses no immediate threat to the United States,” but that attacking the group could lead to substantial blowback.

“Some American officials,” according to the Times, “warn of the potential danger of a prolonged military campaign in the Middle East, led by the United States, and say there are risks that escalating airstrikes could do the opposite of what they are intended to do and fan the threat of terrorism on American soil.”

As Andrew Liepman, a former deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center who is now a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, explained: “It’s pretty clear that upping our involvement in Iraq and Syria makes it more likely that we will be targeted by the people we are attacking.”

So, on just about every front, the case for war seems to defy all logic. But at the same time, so too does the entire premise of perpetual war. Perhaps that is what the administration hopes we forget as we debate the proper terminology for this particular operation.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US shares Arab citizen’s ‘private’ information with Israel

MEMO | September 18, 2014

The US routinely shares private information about its citizens of Arab and Palestinian descent with Israel, the New York Times revealed yesterday.

In an Op-Ed in the newspaper, James Bamford said that the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden told him that the US “routinely passed private, unedited communications to Israel”.

Documents leaked by Snowden reveal that the US passes on “unevaluated and unminimised transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content,” to Unit 8200, an elite Israeli intelligence department.

He said the intercepts included communications of Arab and Palestinian-Americans, whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the information.

Whistleblower Snowden said this is ”one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen”, Bamford reported.

Bamford cited a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and Unit 8200 outlining transfers that have occurred since 2009.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is wanted by the US on espionage charges after leaking thousands of secret NSA documents.

He claimed asylum in Russia, where he has been granted a three-year residency that allows him to travel abroad.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Victims of deadly shipwreck driven out of Gaza by war, unemployment

Al-Akhbar | September 18, 2014

Unemployed and shattered by the 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza, Yasser decided to seek a better life elsewhere, boarding a boat to Europe that sank off Malta last week.

In one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks on record, the boat, with 500 people on board, was intentionally capsized by traffickers as it made its way from Egypt to Italy.

Only 10 people are known to have survived, among them four Palestinians from the 100 Gazans believed to have been on board. Yasser, a 23-year-old unemployed graduate, was not one of them.

Yasser’s story is far from unusual and explains why some Palestinians in Gaza are ready to risk everything to flee war and poverty in the coastal enclave, which was battered by a devastating seven-week Israeli aggression that ended late last month.

His brother Osama told AFP by telephone from his home in the United Arab Emirates that Yasser had graduated from university in Gaza but struggled to find work.

“He graduated last year and since then, like all young people, he has been unemployed. There is no future for them in Gaza,” Osama told AFP, asking that his family’s name not be published.

The crippling blockade of Gaza by Israel – and more recently Egypt – and Israeli restrictions in the occupied West Bank limit Palestinians’ ability to compete in export markets and contribute to an unemployment rate of almost 25 percent, the World Bank said in 2013.

“I tried to bring him to the Emirates but after seeing several of his friends reach Europe by boat, he decided to leave too,” he said.

Yasser crossed from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula via the Rafah crossing, paying some local Egyptians nearly $3,000 (2,300 euros) to fix his passage to Europe.

“You never know who you’re giving the money too,” Osama said.

The last time the brothers spoke was on September 5, the day before the boat carrying Yasser set sail from the port of Damietta in Egypt.

“Now I’m waiting to receive the list of survivors to know if he might still be alive,” Osama said.

Escape through the tunnels

Exact numbers of those leaving Gaza and making their way to Europe are hard to come by.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), some 2,890 people who declared themselves to be Palestinians have reached Italy so far this year.

But even that number may not be credible as some migrants falsely identify themselves as Palestinians to avoid being repatriated to home countries that have extradition agreements with the European Union.

“We estimate that thousands of people have left the Gaza Strip clandestinely over the past two months, especially during the war,” a local human rights worker told AFP.

“Due to the fact they left through tunnels to Egypt — an illegal, secret way to leave — we have no precise figure,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

With Gaza’s own access to the Mediterranean tightly closed by Israel’s naval blockade, those wanting to go to Europe would be forced to travel through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Rafah is Gaza’s only gateway to the world that is not occupied by Israel, but it has been kept largely closed by Egypt for more than a year, with the only other way across via the handful of precarious cross-border smuggling tunnels.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

September 18, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

US refuses Abbas’ initiative to end occupation

MEMO | September 18, 2014

The US has rejected an initiative set out by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to set a timeframe to end the Israeli occupation, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported diplomatic sources as saying today.

The sources said the US’ Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Bauer informed the group that her country “does not welcome the initiative”.

Representatives of Abbas’ government are in the process of conducting consultations on the initiative as a prelude to the formulation of a draft resolution to the UN Security Council for a vote after listening to the feedback of all the states prior to the annual session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York this month.

The sources added that permanent members of the Security Council lead by the United States “told us that they do not support the idea. Some permanent members also said they are undecided about the initiative, especially after the US’ refusal of it.”

Abbas’ initiative set out plans to resume negotiations with Israel within nine months and for the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories in no more than three years.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

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