Kiev is not interested in a fair and unbiased investigation into the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine, so it is sabotaging the work of international experts, one of the self-defense forces leaders said on Wednesday.
Kiev’s authorities have been obstructing the international investigation into the crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane since day one, Deputy Prime Minister of People’s Republic of Donetsk Andrey Purgin told Russia-24 TV channel on Wednesday.
Purgin said it became clear that Kiev is sabotaging the probe two days after the incident, when international experts were not let into the area, as Kiev claimed it could not guarantee their safety.
Kiev simply refused to accompany the international experts, Purgin stated. The Malaysian group of experts made it down to the crash alone, with no security from Kiev.
It took four days for international experts to gain access to the site. The reason is that even after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a 40-kilometer ceasefire zone around the crash site, Malaysian experts came under heavy shelling from the Ukrainian army while making their way within the ceasefire zone.
The Boeing 777-200ER, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 passengers and crew on board, was shot down over Ukraine on July 17. There were no survivors.
Kiev authorities have accused the militia of being behind the catastrophe. However, the militia stressed that it doesn’t possess the means to shoot down an aircraft at such an altitude.
Following the crash, the dead bodies were left under 30C heat, as self-defense forces were pressured by the OSCE not to move the bodies until the international experts arrived, the Donetsk People’s Republic’s Prime Minister Aleksandr Boroday told BBC.
“We waited a day, two, three – but no experts,” Boroday said. “They were all sitting in Kiev.” To keep the dead bodies laying there became “absurd” and “inhumane,” he added.
The Ukrainian militia handed over to Malaysian experts the black boxes from the plane on Tuesday. Investigators say they have found no evidence that the black box recorder was tampered with.
Read more: Ukrainian militia hand over MH17 flight recorders to Malaysia
The Dutch Safety Board said it has taken charge of the international investigation. It will coordinate a team of 24 investigators from Ukraine, Malaysia, Russia, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It added that four Dutch investigators are currently operating in Ukraine.
The bodies of the first victims from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrived back in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
A day earlier, the UN Security Council condemned the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and called for an international probe into the incident in a unanimously adopted resolution.
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – On the 21st July at 2:17 PM, the IDF spokesperson released an image on twitter showing an aerial picture of a building marked as ‘Al-Wafa’ hospital. In the image there is a red circle, which they designated as the location from which a M75 rocket was launched.
The building in the picture marked ‘Al-Wafa’ hospital is in fact not the el-Wafa hospital but the Right to Life Society.
“Israel has targeted our hospital based on false and misleading claims. They are targeting medical facilities, the wounded, the sick, and our children, all over the Gaza Strip. They want us to know that nowhere is safe.” Said executive director of el-Wafa hospital, Dr. Basman Alashi.
According to the Gazan Ministry of Health, seven out of 13 hospitals, including el-Wafa, have been severely damaged.
Al Atatra Medical Clinic and 12 ambulances have been completely destroyed, seven other clinics have been damaged, 12 medical staff members have been injured, and three have been killed.
El-Wafa hospital was bombed once again by the Israeli military today after Dr. Alashi, received two phone calls from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN). They passed a message from the Israeli military that, “there are activities in the hospital and the Israeli military may take a bigger action against el-Wafa.”
Dr. Alashi explained to both callers that the hospital is empty; all patients were evacuated on the 17th of July and that the hospital holds seven million dollars worth of essential medical equipment, as well as two safes that were irretrievable during the emergency evacuation.
“I will hold Israel personally responsible for seven million dollars if they have destroyed the hospital. It has already been bombed and shelled, I don’t understand what they are trying to achieve.” Dr. Alashi stated to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
Ally Cohen, media coordinator for the ISM states, “anyone on the ground in Palestine knows that the Israeli military are constantly releasing completely fabricated information and reports. The only difference in this case, is that we can prove it.”
The late Dr. Tony Martin’s diligent research had been provoked by several events with faculty members in the educational institutions where he taught. The tactics they tried using to silence the focus of his lessons only motivated him even more.
Secretary of State Kerry has earned an unenviable reputation for bombastic exaggeration at times when diplomatic caution is needed, a pattern that he has demonstrated again in rushing to judgment over the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The last time a major war loomed on the near horizon, Secretary of State John Kerry played fast and loose with the facts. In a speech on Aug. 30, 2013, he solemnly claimed, no fewer than 35 times, “we know” that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for chemical attacks outside Damascus on Aug. 21.
Just a few days later it became abundantly clear that Kerry did not know. There was instead a great deal of uncertainty within the U.S. intelligence community. And, to their credit, my former colleagues in CIA and in the Defense Intelligence Agency stood their ground by refusing to say “we know.”
Indeed, the dog-not-barking moment in the Syria-sarin case was the absence of U.S. intelligence officials sitting behind Kerry when he testified about his supposed knowledge to the U.S. Congress. Unlike the tableau in 2003 when CIA Director George Tenet positioned himself behind Secretary of State Colin Powell to give silent endorsement to Powell’s false allegations about Iraqi WMD to the United Nations Security Council, Kerry had no such support when he made his case against Syria’s government, although the clueless U.S. mainstream news media failed to notice this significant absence.
We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) tried to alert President Barack Obama to this lack of consensus among our former colleagues in a Memorandum for the President on Sept. 6. Determined to avoid a redux of the fraudulent intelligence performance on Iraqi WMD, our former colleagues refused to “fix the intelligence around the policy” – again. The opposition was so strong that not even the malleable CIA Director John Brennan could give Kerry the usual “Intelligence Assessment” he wanted. So the best the Obama administration could cook up was something called a “Government Assessment” bereft of verifiable evidence and shorn of the normal dissents that intelligence analysts file with traditional estimates.
The reason for this internal intelligence community resistance was that, from the start, it made little sense that Assad would have launched a sarin attack right outside Damascus just as UN inspectors were unpacking at their Damascus hotel, having arrived in Syria to examine another chemical incident that Assad was blaming on the rebels. Further, the evidence quickly began to accumulate that the Syrian rebels had sarin and that they may well have been the ones who released it on Aug. 21 in a scheme to push Obama across his “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and induce the U.S. military to join the civil war on the rebel side.
At the time, the rebels were increasingly desperate. They had suffered a string of setbacks earlier last summer. The Turks, who had been aiding the rebels, also were growing convinced that only open U.S. military involvement could avert a looming defeat. So they set out, with apparent support of hawks in the U.S. State Department, to mousetrap President Obama into “retaliating” against Syria for crossing the “red line.”
Kerry’s performance on Aug. 30 – with all his “we knows” – was a clarion call for attacking Syria and might have prevailed, were it not for the fact that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey intervened and talked sense to the President. Less than 24 hours after Kerry spoke, Obama surprised virtually everyone in Official Washington by announcing that he had decided not to attack Syria immediately as expected, but rather would go to Congress for authorization.
How close the world came to another U.S. war was underscored by the fact that after Obama’s decision, France, which had been eager to attack, had to be told to decrease the alert status of the fighter-bombers it had on the tarmac. Israel had to be told it could relax the highest-alert posture of its defenses.
On Sept. 1, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham angrily confirmed that Dempsey’s intervention had put the kibosh on their clearly expressed desire to attack Syria post-haste.
Kerry: Giving It the College Try
But an attack on Syria was still in play and Kerry gave a bravura performance in his Sept. 3 testimony to a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee whose leaders showed by their own remarks the degree to which they, too, were lusting for an attack on Syria. Kerry’s testimony on Syria included a transparent attempt to play down the effectiveness of al-Qaeda affiliates in gaining control of the armed opposition to Assad.
Kerry’s testimony drew a highly unusual personal criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a televised meeting of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council on Sept. 4, Putin said, “He [Kerry] is lying, and he knows he is lying. It is sad.”
But Kerry continued to dissemble. Still arguing for war on Syria, Kerry was asked at the end of a Sept. 9 press conference in London whether there was anything Assad could do to prevent a U.S. attack. Kerry answered (quite dismissively, in view of subsequent events) that Assad could give up every one of his chemical weapons, but “he isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done.”
However, such a plan was already afoot, being pushed by Putin’s diplomats. Later that same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Syrian counterpart announced that Syria had agreed to allow all its chemical weapons to be removed and destroyed. Cutting out Kerry, Obama had cut a deal directly with Putin. All Syria’s chemical weapons have now been destroyed.
So this is the backdrop against which to give credence, or not, to Kerry’s stacking up the evidence against Russia for the shoot-down of the Malaysian airliner on Thursday over Ukraine.
Russia has released military monitoring data, which shows Kiev military jets tracking the MH17 plane shortly before the crash – and posed yet another set of questions to Ukraine and the US over the circumstances of the tragedy.
Military officials – chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov and chief of the Air Force Main Staff Lt. Gen. Igor Makushev – posed a number of questions to Kiev and Washington concerning the possible causes of the catastrophe in Eastern Ukraine that killed almost 300 people last Thursday.
1. Why did the MH17 plane leave the international corridor?
“Please note that the plane stayed within the corridor until it reached Donetsk but then it deviated from the route to the north,” said Kartopolov.
2. Was MH17 leaving the route a navigation mistake or was the crew following instructions by Ukrainian air traffic controllers in Dnepropetrovsk?
“The maximum deviation from the left border of the corridor was 14 km. Following that, we can see the plane maneuvering to return to the corridor, yet the Malaysian crew did not get a chance to complete the maneuver. At 17.20, the plane began to lose speed, and at 17.23 it disappeared from Russian radars.”
3. Why was a large group of air defense systems deployed to the militia-held area if the self-defense forces have no planes?
“As far as we know, the Ukrainian military had three or four air defense battalions equipped with Buk-M1 SAM systems deployed in the vicinity of Donetsk on the day of the crash. This system is capable of hitting targets within the range of 35 km at the altitude of up to 22 km.”
Buk missile defense units in Donetsk Region, 5km north of Donetsk city, on July 14, 2014. (RIA Novosti)
4. Why did Kiev deploy Buk missile system right next to the militia-controlled area straight ahead of the tragedy?
“We have satellite photos of the places where Ukraine had its air defense units deployed in the southeastern parts of the country. The first three photos were made on July 14. The first photo shows Buk launchers 8 km northwest of Lugansk. You can clearly see a TELAR and two TELs. The second photo shows radars 5 km north of Donetsk. You can see two TARs along with other equipment and technical structures. The third photo shows air defense systems north of Donetsk. You can clearly see a TELAR launcher and about 60 military and auxiliary vehicles, tents for vehicles and other structures.
“Here’s a photo of the same area made on July 17. Please note that the launcher has disappeared. The fifth photo shows a battery of Buk missiles at the village of Zaroshchenskoye 50 km east of Donetsk and 8 km south of Shakhtyorsk on the morning of the same day. The sixth photo shows the same area on July 18. As you can see, the battery has left.”
No Buk missile defense units in Donetsk Region, 5km north of Donetsk city, on July 17, 2014. (RIA Novosti)
5. On the day of the crash Kiev increased activity on its Kupol-M1 9S18 radars, which are components of the Buk system in the area. Why?
“Also, July 17 saw increased activity on the part of Ukraine’s Kupol-M1 9S18 radars, which are part of the Buk system. Here on this chart you see that there were seven radars operating on July 15, eight radars operating on July 16, and nine radars operating on July 17 in the area. Then, starting with July 18, the intensity of radar activities radically decreased, and now there are no more than two or three radars operating a day. The reason behind this is yet to be found.”
6. What was a military plane doing on the route intended for civilian flights?
“There were three civilian planes in the area performing their regular flights at this time. There was a flight from Copenhagen to Singapore at 17:17, there was a flight from Paris to Taipei at 17:24, and then there was the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.”
“Also, Russian monitoring systems registered that there was a Ukrainian Air Force jet, probably Su-25, climbing and approaching the Malaysian Boeing.”
“The Su-25 was 3-5 km away from the Malaysian plane. Su-25 is capable of climbing to the altitude of 10,000 meters for a short period of time. Its standard armament includes R60 air-to-air missiles, which are capable of locking and hitting targets from 12 km and which are guaranteed to hit the target from the distance of 5 km.”
(RIA Novosti / Vadim Savitsky)
7. Why was the military jet flying at almost the same time and the same altitude with a passenger plane?
“At 17:21’35, with [the Boeing’s] velocity having dropped to 200 kilometers per hour, a new mark detecting an airborne object appears at the spot of the Boeing’s destruction. This new airborne object was continuously detected for the duration of four minutes by the radar stations Ust-Donetsk and Buturinskaya. An air traffic controller requested the characteristics of the new airborne object, but was unable to get any readings on its parameters – most likely due to the fact that the new aircraft was not equipped with a secondary surveillance radar transponder, which is a distinctive feature of military aircraft,” said Makushev.
“Detecting the new aircraft became possible as it started to ascend. Further changes in the airborne object’s coordinates suggest that it was hovering above the Boeing 777’s crash site, monitoring of the situation.
“Ukrainian officials earlier claimed that there were no Ukrainian military aircraft in the area of the crash that day. As you can see, that is not true.”
8. Where did the launcher – from the video circulated by Western media and showing a Buk system being moved allegedly from Ukraine to Russia – come from? As the video was made on the territory controlled by Kiev, where was the launcher being transported?
“I’d like to say that the information we have presented here is based on objective and reliable data from various technical systems – unlike the groundless accusations made against Russia,” said Kartopolov.
“For example, media circulated a video supposedly showing a Buk system being moved from Ukraine to Russia. This is clearly a fabrication. This video was made in the town of Krasnoarmeisk, as evidenced by the billboard you see in the background, advertising a car dealership at 34 Dnepropetrovsk Street. Krasnoarmeysk has been controlled by the Ukrainian military since May 11.”
9. Where is it right now? Why are some of the missiles missing on the launcher? When was the last time a missile was launched from it?
Screenshot from video posted on Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior account, showing a Buk system supposedly being moved from Ukraine to Russia with two out of three missiles.
10. Why haven’t US officials revealed the evidence supporting claims that the MH17 was shot down by a missile launched by the militia?
“US officials claim they have satellite photographs proving the Malaysian airliner was shot down by a missile launched by the militia. But no one has seen these photographs so far. As far as we know, there was indeed a US satellite flying over southeastern Ukraine on July 17 from 17:06 to 17:21 Moscow time.
“This satellite is part of an experimental system designed to track and monitor the launches of missiles of various ranges. If our US colleagues have imagery from this satellite, they should release it for the international community to examine it in detail. This may be a coincidence, but the US satellite flew over Ukraine at exactly the same time when the Malaysian airliner crashed.”
This is not the first time Russia brings up questions on the plane crash. No explanations have followed with Kiev insisting they have full evidence of Russia being behind the attack, but so far only releasing tapes.
The USA, putting the blame on the self-defense forces, has yet refused to release any intelligence material. On Monday State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf described Russia’s statements as “propaganda and misinformation” – but when reporters asked her whether Washington would be releasing their intelligence and satellite data, Harf only replied “maybe.” So far the US has been backing its statements by social media and “common sense.”
It’s the new “self defence”
Britain’s newly-minted foreign secretary Philip Hammond has lost his shine already. A few days ago he warmly welcomed Egypt’s bogus ceasefire proposal which hadn’t even been shown to Hamas.
Yesterday he was asked three times on the the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show whether Israel’s military operations in Gaza were a proportionate response and he ducked the question every time.
However he did say: “We will be looking very carefully at what is happening on the ground to make sure that it is proportionate, that civilian lives are being protected in a proper way.”
The continuing carnage suggests otherwise. Would Mr Hammond care to tell the world what action he has actually taken to “make sure”? Perhaps blood-letting doesn’t bother him. After all, he voted with the warmongers for the Iraq war.
Of course, he recited the obligatory mantra that Israel has the right to protect itself. The best way to avoid Palestinian loss of life in Gaza, he said, would be for Hamas to stop firing rockets from Gaza and “in those circumstances the world would not expect any kind of Israeli action against Gaza.”
He knows perfectly well that no rockets are fired from the West Bank, yet the West Bank is still under brutal occupation and blockade and Israeli repression there is unceasing. If rockets from Gaza were to stop, what difference would it make to the Palestinians there?
He’ll know too that Israel cannot claim right of self-defence against a people it has illegally occupied and humiliated for decades, and that the Palestinians are entitled to take up arms against their tormentor.
He finished by saying: “We need an immediate re-imposition of a ceasefire and then we need proper discussion about dealing with the underlying grievances.” Note the downgrading of war crimes and crimes against humanity to the level of mere grievances. I wonder if Hammond knows the first thing about the Palestinians’ “grievances”.
I commend to the new Foreign Secretary this video which shows how his attitude has rendered some people almost speechless.
In a statement to the House of Commons today the prime minister David Cameron issued what can only be described as a barrowload of propaganda horse manure on both the airliner tragedy in Ukraine and the Israeli blitzkrieg on Gaza
Eager to flog his plan for more sanctions he said the conflict in Ukraine could have been curtailed by Moscow but had been fermented by Moscow. It was a defining moment for Russia. “Those of us in Europe should not need to be reminded of the consequences of turning a blind eye when big countries bully smaller countries.” He didn’t see the irony. Perhaps he doesn’t realise that his beloved Israel’s defining moment has arrived.
Turning to Gaza, he came out with this: “The crisis was triggered by Hamas raining hundreds of rockets on Israeli cities indiscriminately targeting civilians in contravention of all humanitarian law and norms. We’ve been clear throughout this crisis that Israel has the right to defend itself. Those criticising Israel’s response must ask themselves how they would expect their own government to react if hundreds of rockets were raining down on British cities today.” Dear God, does no-one vet the drivel tossed out by Number 10′s speechwriters?
I mean, would a British government be mad enough to illegally occupy its next door neighbours for nearly 50 years, trash their heritage, steal their resources, move settlers into choice locations, cage the natives within the sealed remnants then bomb them all to hell and back for firing garden-shed rockets? Well yes, I guess a Cameron government might do exactly that if told to… and call it self-defence just like their Israeli buddies.
To assist in a crime makes one a criminal by any legal standard. And the biggest crimes of all are war crimes, since they kill en masse and showcase the cruelest form of human behavior.
The fact that Israel is actively committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip is not open to debate, since a cursory glance at the conflict obviously exposes them in practice.
The two most glaring war crimes Israel is committing — as defined by the Geneva Convention — are the concepts of “collective punishment” and “necessity and proportionality.”
Under collective punishment, a warring party cannot respond to an attack by waging war on the attacker’s community, as is clearly happening in Gaza. The clearest proof that collective punishment is being used is that a 1,000 Gaza homes have been destroyed and the majority of the casualties are civilians.
Under “necessity and proportionality” a warring party must only use the amount of force necessary to defeat the opponent; disproportional force is a crime. So, for example, if Hamas fires wimpy rockets that kill virtually no Israelis, then it is “disproportionate” for Israel to rain massive bombs, missiles, and artillery to reduce large sections of Gaza to rubble. Even Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called the Israel attack a “deliberately disproportiate form of collective punishment.”
It is also a specific war crime to deliberately attack civilians, and especially to attack facilities treating the wounded. But Israel has attacked al-Aqsa hospital in Gaza four times, according to Reuters. The latest shelling of al-Aqsa killed 4 and wounded 70.
Even the pro-western Human Rights Watch has denounced Israel for committing war crimes:
“Israeli air attacks in Gaza investigated by Human Rights Watch have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war.”
Obama’s aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes is also closed to debate, since his administration stands guilty from the very beginning of the conflict by shielding Israel from international political pressure, hiding its war crimes by deliberately misrepresenting what is happening, and giving political space for the war to continue by not intervening directly.
It was a blatantly laughable lie when Obama said that his government was “using all means” to achieve a ceasefire early in the conflict.
The U.S. influence over Israel is tremendous, and Obama could have ended the conflict in the first hour by simply declaring, “If Israel does not stop its attack on Gaza, the U.S. will refuse further military and financial assistance and sever all diplomatic and political ties.” War over.
Instead of taking this action, or any action for that matter, Obama sat on the sidelines. In fact, Obama deliberately waited until the end of the second week of the war to even send his Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a ceasefire deal. Of course, Obama could have come himself.
Obama further assisted in Israeli war crimes by repeatedly justifying Israel’s right to commit them, deceitfully placing all Israel’s actions under the big umbrella of “self-defense.” Again, war crimes are war crimes and were purposefully created to trump any excuse of self-defense.
After ten days of a brutal bombing campaign an Israeli ground invasion was announced, which everyone knew would intensify the bloodshed. This would have been a key moment for the U.S. government to finally intervene. But instead, as ABC News reports:
“President Barack Obama said Friday that he encouraged Israel’s leader to minimize civilian deaths in its ground push into Hamas-ruled Gaza, while letting him know that the U.S. supports Israel’s right to self defense.”
A statement like this can be interpreted to mean only one thing: a green light to continue the massacre.
When John Kerry was finally sent to the Middle East to broker a peace deal, he was still making excuses for Israeli’s war crimes. USA Today reports:
“Kerry also blamed the latest wave of violence on what he called Israel’s “legitimate” efforts to pursue and punish those who last month kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found in the West Bank.”
Again, bombing a whole city because three Israeli teens were killed is disproportional collective punishment — war crimes. There is also no evidence that Hamas is responsible for the death of three Israeli teens, which it has denied since day one.
The colossally disproportionate aspect of the war has been continually smoothed over by the Obama administration, which consistently lumps Palestinian and Israeli civilian deaths evenly together, as if they were happening with equal frequency. But in reality the 550 Palestinians that have been killed and 3,500 wounded are mostly civilians, while the few dozen Israeli’s who’ve died have been mostly soldiers.
How dangerous are the Hamas rockets that the Obama administration endlessly talks about? CBS news recently reported:
“Hamas also fired 50 more rockets at Israel, including two at Tel Aviv, causing no injuries or damage.”
This has been the story of the conflict in which Obama has justified the complete destruction of the Gaza Strip by continually saying “no nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders.”
Obama’s muted language about Israel’s aggression can be compared to the recently shot down Malaysian jet, for which Obama summoned his “outrage” while instantly blaming the pro-Russian Ukrainians, though without a shred of evidence.
But most of the world believes Israel’s actions are outrageous, an opinion not allowed to be expressed at the United Nations, thanks again to the Obama administration, which used its clout to sterilize Israel’s actions by limiting the UN’s statement on the conflict.
Specifically, the Obama administration used its influence over the UN Security Council to limit its statement to “serious concern” about civilian casualties on “both sides” of the conflict, thus white washing the nature of events and providing the aggressor with invaluable political breathing space.
The Obama administration has also assisted Israeli War Crimes by continually blaming Hamas for not agreeing to the Egyptian brokered ceasefire agreement. Hamas is the elected government of the Gaza Strip, and thus has a right to not agree to a ceasefire agreement. But of course Hamas’ not agreeing to the Egyptian agreement does not justify a continual Israeli blitzkrieg of the Gaza Strip, though the Obama administration’s logic implies exactly this.
Lastly, the Obama administration has consistently lied about the origins of this bloodbath. The three dead Israeli teens were not the cause of this conflict, but the pretext, which the Israeli government consciously exploited to promote war among the Israeli population.
The real cause of the war was the recent alliance between the Palestinian Authority — which governs the West Bank — and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. This alliance gave the Palestinians their strongest hand in bargaining with Israel in perhaps decades, which was enough to spark a new round of massacres from the Israeli government in an effort to re-balance the bargaining table.
This ongoing bloody dynamic continues in large part because the U.S. government allows it. The vast majority of people across the world are denouncing Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians, and so too must U.S. citizens denounce their government’s criminal actions in assisting Israeli war crimes.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
If the best the US can do to pin the blame for the Malaysia Flight 17 downing on Russia is to have Secretary of State John Kerry say that “circumstantial evidence” points to Moscow being behind it, we can be pretty certain it was not Russia at all.
Kerry’s credibility on such matters has been in the toilet since last August when he claimed during last year’s furor and push for war against Syria’s Basher al Assad that he had seen “clear and compelling evidence” that the Syrian government had used poison gas against its own people. That “evidence” turned out (clearly with Kerry’s knowledge) to have been ginned up, falsified and staged, and in the end it was evident that Syria had not been the guilty party. Had Kerry and the White House succeeded in duping the world and the American people the way President George W. Bush and VP Dick Cheney succeeded in duping them about Iraq’s “WMDs,” an armada of US planes and ships already in position around Syria would have begun a massive aerial bombardment of Syria sparking a whole new war in the Middle East, even as Iraq was already in the throes of a civil war.
Fortunately, John Kerry’s and the accommodating US corporate media’s lies that time were exposed, and that bloody catastrophe was averted.
Now, undeterred by that first attempt at a full-blown campaign of lies, Kerry and the Obama White House are at it again, trying to falsify a casus belli against Russia by blaming Moscow for the downing of a civilian airliner that killed 298 people.
The problem for Kerry and Washington’s warmongers is that the story they’re selling is ludicrous.
Ukraine’s military has a hundred or so Buk anti-aircraft missiles and dozens of mobile launchers which have been seen in a Kiev parade
Why on earth would the Russians (who have been scrupulously avoiding getting involved in the Ukraine fighting), have provided the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine with Buk missiles capable of downing high-altitude planes? Such aircraft pose no threat to the rebels. What they fear is the Ukraine military’s ground attack aircraft and bombers, and their helicopter gunships and troop transport planes. And they already have demonstrated that they’ve got the weapons to deal with those, in the form of shoulder-fired, wire-guided missiles — weapons that don’t have the capability to down aircraft flying at anywhere near 33,000 feet.
The answer to that question is that Russia would gain nothing, and would stand to lose a lot by contributing to the downing of a civilian aircraft. In fact, we can see, in the desperate effort by Kerry to pin the blame on Russia, exactly whey they would never have wanted to do such a thing.
That goes for the separatist rebels, too. The last thing they would want would be to give reluctant NATO allies of the US in Europe a reason to join the war-mongering campaign of the US in backing the Ukrainian government’s “anti-terrorist” campaign against them. After all, the separatists have actually been doing pretty well at stymieing the Ukrainian military as it is. In addition, increasing numbers of Ukrainians in western Ukraine are growing frustrated with the corruption, incompetence and war-making of their government. How do the rebels then gain by angering Western European nations and the Ukrainian people? Answer: They don’t.
Indeed the only parties who could conceivably gain by the downing of a civilian airliner would be the US and Ukraine, if they thought they could manage to pin the blame on the Russians and/or the separatist rebels. (For those who find it hard to swallow the idea that the US would deliberately shoot down a plane carrying 298 civilians in order to get a war going, there is another theory out there: that the Ukrainians — or some rogue element of the Ukraine military — thought the plane was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s own “Air Force One” carrying him back from the Brazil World Cup. In fact the flight paths of the two plans actually intersected within a fairly short time frame according to some reports.)
Meanwhile, it has already been demonstrated that the “evidence” that the US and Ukraine are citing — an electronic communication allegedly between a rebel and a Russian general referring to the downing of Malaysian Flight 17, was made a day before the downing happened (a point not mentioned in the breathless corporate media reports). That sounds like something the CIA would have had a hand in, as many believe it did in the also bogus “notice” earlier this year allegedly calling on Jews in eastern Ukraine to register with rebel authorities. As for the claim that the rebels had in their possession a Buk missile launcher, and that it came from Russia, this is highly dubious. First of all, as mentioned, there was no reason for Russia to provide such a weapon to the rebels. Second, if the rebels, often described as a rag-tag group, ever got such sophisticated weapons, they would not have had the training to use it. Kerry is also saying that the US “has the trajectory” of a missile fired by a Buk launcher in rebel-held territory “near the scene of the crash,” but of course, he also said the US “had the trajectories” of the poison gas rockets and that they came from a Syrian military installation–a claim that later proved false.
On the other hand, Ukraine’s military is known to possess several dozen mobile Buk missile launchers in its arsenal, and some of these were known to have been moved into eastern Ukraine. Why Ukraine’s military would have done this, when the rebels have no air force, is a good question — one which the Russians are asking (but which the US corporate media have not bothered to speculate about).
So we have Kerry’s lies and the lies of other US government officials, backed by the same complicit and propagandistic US media that ran with their lies so unquestioningly in the Syria poison gas incident, with little but the alternative media and some of the foreign media to rely on for more honest and forthright investigation into this case. And we have the Ukrainian government, which has been charging all along, against all logic, that the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine are all “terrorists,” also claiming that it’s the Russians and the rebels who did the deed.
No doubt it will be a while before the truth comes out about this story. In the meantime, the best evidence that it was not the Russians and the rebels in Ukraine who shot down the plane is that Secretary of State Kerry is trying to convince us all that they did it.
Meanwhile everyone would do well to calm down and heed the warning of former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, a 27-year Agency veteran, now retired, who points to the campaign of lies orchestrated during the early Reagan administration concerning the Russian shoot-down of a Korean 747 back in 1983. While the Reagan White House and the Pentagon knew from captured radio transmissions between the Russian fighter pilot and his base that he made efforts to warn the Korean plane to land, including the firing of tracer bullets in the dark sky, and knew that he had become convinced he was dealing with a US military spy plane flying over a highly secret part of Russia’s western defenses, before he fired a missile to shoot it down, McGovern says they doctored those tapes to make it look like he had done the opposite, heartlessly shooting down a civilian plane on orders from Moscow. The goal of this official Washington lie, McGovern says, was to incite American hatred against the Soviet Union, which had been waning since the end of the Vietnam War.
McGovern also suggests that the US government covered up the true cause of the downing of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island in 1996, which he says may well have been caused by an errant US missile, and not, as claimed, by a spark in a fuel tank.
McGovern’s advice in this current campaign of deceit: “There is, sadly,…reason to kick the tires of any fancy truck carrying ‘intelligence’ offered by the U.S. with respect to the Malaysian Airline shoot-down.”
Amnesty International recently released a report on “stomach-turning” violence in Eastern Ukraine (“Abduction and Tortures in Eastern Ukraine,” – see for example BBC coverage here). According to the report, the acts of violence are perpetrated chiefly by pro-Russian separatist groups.
The Amnesty International report and its conclusion about rebel responsibility for the majority of violence does’t hold water and has little in common with reality. The violence in Ukraine in general is not properly analyzed, and the report is quite biased. Rather than the rebels, it is the Ukrainian army and the pro-EuroMaidan forces that are responsible for the abductions and abuses.
Firstly, rebels in Eastern Ukraine enjoy almost 100% support of the local population. There is no need for them to commit any kind of violence targeting the locals. The Ukrainian army, on the contrary, is viewed as a cruel enemy and Ukrainian soldiers feel the animosity of the locals. Simple logic would argue that it is the army that has felt the need to repress its local adversaries through violence. Moreover, it suffices to speak with any of the thousands of refugees from Eastern Ukraine and listen to their stories about the barbaric methods used by the army to break the resistance, to be persuaded that the Ukrainian army bears the responsibility for the majority of kidnappings and tortures.
Secondly, it’s well known that EuroMaidan was supported by Ukrainian neo-Nazi organizations. After the success of EuroMaidan its leaders enrolled their neo-Nazi supporters into newly formed police and National Guard battalions (“Azov”, “Donbas” and so on). From time to time foreign media speak of the neo-Nazi background of such Ukrainian military units, but most of the time this fact is hidden. It’s hard to expect any respect for human rights or any other kind of law observance from these soldiers.
The facts show that EuroMaidan authorities started the terror campaign promptly after toppling the former government, that is to say long before the start of the war. The spiral of violence raging now in Eastern Ukraine is the sequel of the geopolitical drama called EuroMaidan.
In addition, to see the whole scale of violence in Ukraine one should gather information about abductions, tortures and other ill-treatment throughout the country and not only in Eastern Ukraine. And the time period should be enlarged: it’s necessary to take into consideration all of the violence perpetrated since the victory of EuroMaidan and not only since the beginning of the hostilities.
When the new post-EuroMaidan government was formed it unleashed unprecedented repressive measures, which became more and more stringent and violent. Policemen and their families were the first targets. They were threatened anonymously, their apartments burnt and some policemen killed.
Not only were policemen tracked down, but any conspicuous person loyal to the previous government. Unacceptable newspapers were forcibly closed, independent journalists arrested. The most radical pro-European movement, “Right Sector,” put forward the idea that “the revolution continues and we will hunt down the enemies of the revolution”. After that civic activists were subjected to brutal attacks and the most active of them were arrested. Now Kiev goes even further. Following the example of the US in Iraq, the Ukrainian authorities are producing playing cards with faces of the rebel commanders as well as faces of “wrong” journalists, for the soldiers in Eastern Ukraine. The army must either arrest or kill them.
After EuroMaidan, Ukraine is a country full of political prisoners. The number of well-known journalists and writers who have had to escape from the country is rather high: Alexander Chalenko, Rostislav Ishchenko, Vladimir Rogov, myself, and many others. Even high-ranking Congressmen of the Ukrainian parliament, such as the anti-EuroMaidan politician Oleg Tsarov, have had to leave Ukraine under the threat of arrest. Before fleeing Tsarov was attacked by a crowd of EuroMaidan activists and savagely beaten. The video of the attack as well as Tsarov with torn clothes and bruises was shown on TV. His house in Dnepropetrovsk was burnt by Molotov cocktails thrown by well-known “unknown” perpetrators.
Now Tsarov gives juridical assistance to police officers and civil activists persecuted by the new authorities. According to Tsarov, many people are being arrested throughout Ukraine and prisons are filled with political prisoners. The latest case has been the arrest of Alexander Samoylov, the vice-rector of International Slavonic University in Charkov. The picture of Samoylov beaten, with black bruises around his eyes, is circulating on the internet.
The violence against ideological rivals has turned into political advertising for the Ukrainian politicians supporting EuroMaidan, aimed toward dissuasion. Congressmen from the well-known xenophobic nationalistic party Svoboda forcibly entered the office of the Ukrainian National TV Channel director, beat him and forced him to resign. They disliked how the TV channel covered the Crimean conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
Notorious congressman and leader of the Radical party Oleg Liashko is famous for his PR actions in the zone of hostilities. He often shows up there accompanied by a large number of bodyguards and demonstrates his attitude towards the population of Eastern Ukraine. There are many videos showing Liashko humiliating his opponents and threatening to kill them — like in this video where Liashko and his bodyguards rudely force a local deputy in Slawiansk to resign and threaten to lynch him in a town square – or threatening to throw them into prison, like in this video where Liashko interrogates a 68-year old man with a sack on his head and threatens to keep him in prison until death.
It’s worth mentioning that in March 2014, a month before the beginning of hostilities between Kiev and the rebel provinces, and when dialogue was still possible, Liashko ordered one of the Eastern Ukrainian leaders, Arsen Klinchaev, to be arrested. This was carried out in a rude and humiliating manner and Liashko himself took part in the action. Klinchaev was arrested in his office and not with arms in hand, but was treated like a dangerous terrorist.
Instead of dialogue, Kiev has chosen violence.
Vladislav Gulevich is a Ukrainian journalist and political analyst who has recently fled to Russia. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Every now and then the subject of the greenhouses left behind by Israeli settlers eradicated from Gaza is brought up by Israel apologists as proof of several things. It is claimed that Gazans don’t suffer from malnutrition: if they did, they wouldn’t have destroyed the greenhouses when the Israelis left. Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with Israel’s blockade of Gaza, because it doesn’t actually harm them. It is also claimed that the destruction of the greenhouses proves how hateful Gazans are: they prioritized wiping out every vestige of Jewish presence over keeping a valuable source of nutrients and income. Finally, it is asserted that a people that got the result of heavy investment and destroyed it can’t be trusted ro run anything, much less a state.
Much of this is bullshit, and the part that isn’t is highly distorted.
When Israel decided its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, the settlers expected to be paid handosmely for the productive infrastructure they had created. Of course this was a display of chutzpah, because it had been heavy state subsidizing that had allowed them to create that infrastructure in the first place. As Haaretz noted:
The Gaza settlers had been inundated by perks from all directions. They received subsidized lands, subsidized water, assured wages from the public sector, “risk bonuses” and lower tax on their higher wages, subsidized daycare, cheap Arab labor, what didn’t they get. The benefits they received touched on every area of their lives and they became accustomed to higher standards they can’t forgo even now.
As the date of the withdrawal approached with no deal in sight, however, the settlers began to destroy the greenhouses. The New York Times reported:
About half the greenhouses in the Israeli settlements in Gaza have already been dismantled by their owners, who have given up waiting to see if the government was going to come up with extra payment as an inducement to leave them behind, say senior officials working on the coordination of this summer’s Israeli pullout from Gaza.(…)
Of the roughly 1,000 acres of agricultural land that were under greenhouses in the 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza, only 500 acres remain – creating significant doubts that the greenhouses could be handed over to the Palestinians as “a living business,” the goal cited by the Israeli coordinator of the pullout, Eival Giladi.
Finally, a last-minute effort by American Jewish philantropists raised $14 million and the remainder of the greenhouses was bought and turned over to the Palestinians.
However, since there had been no coordination with the Palestinians, there was no security plan to protect the greenhouses from looters. AP reported:
Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.(…)
Palestinian police stood by helplessly Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements, and commanders complained they did not have enough manpower to protect the prized assets. In some instances, there was no security and in others, police even joined the looters, witnesses said.
“We need at least another 70 soldiers. This is just a joke,” said Taysir Haddad, one of 22 security guards assigned to Neve Dekalim, formerly the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza. “We’ve tried to stop as many people as we can, but they’re like locusts.”
As can be seen, the theft was carried out by individuals, and in no way was it encouraged by the Palestinian Authority. Quite on the contrary, there was a conscious PA effort to prevent the lootings, which was however hindered by lack of resources.
Two reflections arise from the stories above.
On the one hand, it’s true that some of the greenhouses were destroyed by Palestinian individuals. There’s nothing remarkable about that. Beggars can’t be choosers, as the saying goes, and looting is what normally happens when two conditions are met: 1) an impoverished populace; and 2) a situation of lack of control by an established authority. Gazans stole the hardware and materials contained in the greenhouses not in a drive to erase the Jews’ memory from the territory, but to satisfy their personal needs. There was a rationale to their theft.
The destruction of part of the greenhouses by the settlers, however, can only be explained by animosity. They spent time, effort and probably even money to dismantle the facilities so that the Palestinians wouldn’t be able to use them. There’s a big difference between he who damages property in order to derive a benefit and he who damages it only to harm another person.
Many other related points could be made. For instance, that even in the Zionists’ twisted logic the looting of the facilities would justify the ban on vegetable imports into Gaza, but not that on livestock (cows can’t be raised in greenhouses). Or that the 350 Arab villages that disappeared from Israel’s map were not looted by vandals; they were razed by the State in a clear drive to eliminate any trace of Arabness from their respective landscapes. But without getting into those intricacies, and just focusing on the destruction of the greenhouses by both Jews and Palestinians, it’s clear who was moved by necessity and who by hate.
Despite doubts within the U.S. intelligence community, the Obama administration and the mainstream U.S. news media are charging off toward another rush to judgment blaming Ukrainian rebels and the Russian government for the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane, much as occurred last summer regarding a still-mysterious sarin gas attack in Syria.
In both cases, rather than let independent investigators sort out the facts, President Barack Obama’s ever-aggressive State Department and the major U.S. media simply accepted that the designated villains of those two crises – Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine – were the guilty parties. Yet, some U.S. intelligence analysts dissented from both snap conventional wisdoms.
Regarding the shoot-down of the Malaysian jetliner on Thursday, I’m told that some CIA analysts cite U.S. satellite reconnaissance photos suggesting that the anti-aircraft missile that brought down Flight 17 was fired by Ukrainian troops from a government battery, not by ethnic Russian rebels who have been resisting the regime in Kiev since elected President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown on Feb. 22.
According to a source briefed on the tentative findings, the soldiers manning the battery appeared to be wearing Ukrainian uniforms and may have been drinking, since what looked like beer bottles were scattered around the site. But the source added that the information was still incomplete and the analysts did not rule out the possibility of rebel responsibility.
A contrary emphasis has been given to the Washington Post and other mainstream U.S. outlets. On Saturday, the Post reported that “on Friday, U.S. officials said a preliminary intelligence assessment indicated the airliner was blown up by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by the separatists.” But the objectivity of the Obama administration, which has staunchly supported the coup regime, is in question as are the precise reasons for its judgments.
Even before the Feb. 22 coup, senior administration officials, including Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, were openly encouraging protesters seeking the overthrow of Yanukovych. Nuland went so far as to pass out cookies to the demonstrators and discuss with Pyatt who should be appointed once Yanukovych was removed.
After Yanukovych and his officials were forced to flee in the face of mass protests and violent attacks by neo-Nazi militias, the State Department was quick to declare the new government “legitimate” and welcomed Nuland’s favorite, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, as the new prime minister.
As events have unfolded since then, including Crimea’s secession to join Russia and bloody attacks directed at ethnic Russians in Odessa and elsewhere, the Obama administration has consistently taken the side of the Kiev regime and bashed Moscow.
And, since Thursday, when the Malaysian plane was shot down killing 298 people, the Ukrainian government and the Obama administration have pointed the finger of blame at the rebels and the Russian government, albeit without the benefit of a serious investigation that is only now beginning.
One of the administration’s points has been that the Buk anti-aircraft missile system, which was apparently used to shoot down the plane, was “Russian made.” But the point is rather silly since nearly all Ukrainian military weaponry is “Russian made.” Ukraine, after all, was part of the Soviet Union until 1991 and has continued to use mostly Russian military equipment.
It’s also not clear how the U.S. government ascertained that the missile was an SA-11 as opposed to other versions of the Buk missile system.
Slanting the Case
Virtually everything that U.S. officials have said appears designed to tilt suspicions toward the Russians and the rebels – and away from government forces. Referring ominously to the sophistication of the SA-11, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power declared, “We cannot rule out Russian technical assistance.” But that phrasing supposedly means that the administration can’t rule it in either.
Still, in reading between the lines of the mainstream U.S. press accounts, it’s possible to see where some of the gaps are regarding the supposed Russian hand in Thursday’s tragedy. For instance, the Post’s Craig Whitlock reported that Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe, said last month that “We have not seen any of the [Russian] air-defense vehicles across the border yet.”
Since these Buk missile systems are large and must be transported on trucks, it would be difficult to conceal their presence from U.S. aerial surveillance which has been concentrating intensely on the Ukraine-Russia border in recent months.
The Post also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.”
In other words, the mystery is still not solved. It may be that the rebels – facing heavy bombardment from the Ukrainian air force – convinced the Russians to provide more advanced anti-aircraft weapons than the shoulder-fired missiles that the rebels have used to bring down some Ukrainian military planes.
It’s possible, too, that a rebel detachment mistook the civilian airliner for a military plane or even that someone in the Russian military launched the fateful rocket at the plane heading toward Russian airspace.
But both the Russian government and the rebels dispute those scenarios. The rebels say they don’t have missiles that can reach the 33,000-foot altitude of the Malaysian airliner. Besides denying a hand in the tragedy, the Russians claim that the Ukrainian military did have Buk anti-aircraft systems in eastern Ukraine and that the radar of one battery was active on the day of the crash.
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that “The Russian equipment detected throughout July 17 the activity of a Kupol radar, deployed as part of a Buk-M1 battery near Styla [a village some 30 kilometers south of Donetsk],” according to an RT report.
So, the other alternative remains in play, that a Ukrainian military unit – possibly a poorly supervised bunch – fired the missile intentionally or by accident. Why the Ukrainian military would intentionally have aimed at a plane flying eastward toward Russia is hard to comprehend, however.
A Propaganda Replay?
But perhaps the larger point is that both the Obama administration and the U.S. press corps should stop this pattern of rushing to judgments. It’s as if they’re obsessed with waging “information warfare” – i.e., justifying hostilities toward some adversarial nation – rather than responsibly informing the American people.
We saw this phenomenon in 2002-03 as nearly the entire Washington press corps clambered onboard President George W. Bush’s propaganda bandwagon into an aggressive war against Iraq. That pattern almost repeated itself last summer when a similar rush to judgment occurred around a sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21.
Though the evidence was murky, there was a stampede to assume that the Assad government was behind the attack. While blaming the Syrian army, the U.S. press ignored the possibility that the attack was a provocation committed by radical jihadist rebels who were hoping that U.S. air power could turn the tide of the war in their favor.
Rather than carefully weigh the complex evidence, the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry tried to spur President Obama into a quick decision to bomb Syrian government targets. Kerry delivered a belligerent speech on Aug. 30 and the administration released what it called a “Government Assessment” supposedly proving the case.
But this four-page white paper contained no verifiable evidence supporting its accusations and it soon became clear that the report had excluded dissents that some U.S. intelligence analysts would have attached to a more formal paper prepared by the intelligence community.
Despite the war hysteria then gripping Official Washington, President Obama rejected war at the last moment and – with the help of Russian President Putin – was able to negotiate a resolution of the crisis in which Assad surrendered Syria’s chemical weapons while still denying a hand in the sarin gas attack.
The mainstream U.S. press, especially the New York Times, and some non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, continued pushing the theme of the Syrian government’s guilt. HRW and the Times teamed up for a major story that purported to show the flight paths of two sarin-laden missiles vectoring back to a Syrian military base 9.5 kilometers away.
For a time, this report was treated as the slam-dunk evidence proving the case against Assad, until it turned out that only one of the rockets carried sarin and the maximum range of the one that did have sarin was only about two kilometers.
Despite knowing these weaknesses in the case, President Obama stood by his State Department hawks by reading a speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24 in which he declared: “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”
In watching Obama’s address, I was struck by how casually he lied. He knew better than almost anyone that some of his senior intelligence analysts were among those doubting the Syrian government’s guilt. Yet, he suggested that anyone who wasn’t onboard the propaganda train was crazy.
Since then, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed other evidence indicating that the sarin attack may indeed have been a rebel provocation meant to push Obama over the “red line” that he had drawn about not tolerating chemical weapons use.
Now, we are seeing a repeat performance in which Obama understands the doubts about the identity of who fired the missile that brought down the Malaysian airliner but is pushing the suspicions in a way designed to whip up animosity toward Russia and President Putin.
Obama may think this is a smart play because he can posture as tough when many of his political enemies portray him as weak. He also buys himself some P.R. protection in case it turns out that the ethnic Russian rebels and/or the Russian military do share the blame for the tragedy. He can claim to have been out front in making the accusations.
But there is a dangerous downside to creating a public hysteria about nuclear-armed Russia. As we have seen already in Ukraine, events can spiral out of control in unpredictable ways.
Assistant Secretary Nuland and other State Department hawks probably thought they were building their careers when they encouraged the Feb. 22 coup – and they may well be right about advancing their status in Official Washington at least. But they also thawed out long-frozen animosities between the “ethnically pure” Ukrainians in the west and the ethnic Russians in the east.
Those tensions – many dating back to World War II and before – have now become searing hatreds with hundreds of dead on both sides. The nasty, little Ukrainian civil war also made Thursday’s horror possible.
But even greater calamities could lie ahead if the State Department’s “anti-diplomats” succeed in reigniting the Cold War. The crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 should be a warning about the dangers of international brinkmanship.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Forty members of the UAE “aid convoy” which entered the Gaza Strip last week have been revealed as intelligence agents. They were, it is believed, trying to collect information about Hamas and its infrastructure in the besieged territory.
According to one informed source, a local Palestinian recognised one of the agents as a soldier in the UAE armed forces. He contacted the security forces in Gaza who took the agent in for questioning.
Other members of the “aid convoy” then made contact with officials in the United Arab Emirates. In turn, they asked disgraced Fatah official Mohamed Dahlan, who now lives in and is sponsored by the UAE government, to try to secure a safe and swift exit for the agents.
“Dahlan called one of his followers from Fatah who spoke with Hamas officials and they agreed to let the convoy leave immediately,” the source said.
Palestinians in Gaza were surprised by the sudden exit of the UAE personnel on Saturday. The field hospital that they had ostensibly arrived to set-up was left uncompleted.
Commentators say that suspicions should have been aroused when the convoy was allowed by the Egyptians to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, as no other convoys have been allowed to enter since the start of the Israeli attack and invasion. Media reports on Saturday said that the Egyptian army has banned and attacked three international aid convoys trying to enter the enclave.
Egypt has closed Rafah and does not allow wounded Palestinians to travel abroad for treatment or let much-needed medicine and medical equipment to be taken into Gaza.