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Dozens of new cracks discovered at Belgian nuclear reactors

RT | June 11, 2017

The latest ultrasonic inspections have detected a substantial number of new micro cracks in nuclear reactors at the Tihange and Doel power plants in Belgium since the last study conducted three years ago, Belgian and German media report.

At least 70 additional cracks were uncovered at the Tihange 2 nuclear reactor during an ultrasonic inspection in April of this year, Belga news agency reports. Some 300 new flaws have also allegedly been discovered at the Doel 3 reactor tank during a check last November, according to tagesschau.de.

Belgian Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, confirmed the micro fissures at Tihange 2 following a parliamentary inquiry posed by Green Group leader Jean-Marc Nollet, DW reports. The reported new cracks at Doel 3 have not yet been confirmed.

The cracks do not pose any danger to operations at the nuclear plants, says operator Engie-Electrabel, which carried out the inspections under instructions from the Belgian Atomic Regulatory Authority (FANC).

The operator said the new flaws were discovered due to a “different positioning of the ultrasound device.” Engie-Electrabel maintains that as long as cracks do not expand, they do not pose a danger to the reactor’s operations.

Branding Engie-Electrabel “irresponsible,” environmentalist group, Nucléaire Stop, has criticized the operator for still running Tihange 2 reactor despite a 2.22 percent increase in faults.

In February 2015, FANC said 3,149 cracks had been found at Tihange, while 13,047 were discovered at Doel. The operator must now submit additional analyses of the situation by September.

Tihange lies only 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) from the German border, while Doel is 150 kilometers away, near Antwerp. Germans living in the area close to this border have been exerting pressure on the government to force Belgium to shut down the aging reactors.

Both of the reactors have experienced leaks and cracks for some time now. Doel 3 has a capacity of 1,006 megawatts, while Tihange 2 a capacity of 1,008 megawatts. The reactors are almost 35-years-old but are still generating about 14 percent of the nation’s power capacity.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn MP | Stop the Gaza massacre Demonstration London 10 January 2009

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hamas pledges not to intervene in the affairs of Arab countries amid Qatar crisis

Ma’an – June 10, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Days after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the Gulf state of supporting “terrorism,” the Hamas movement — named as one of the groups allegedly receiving Qatari sponsorship — pledged Saturday it would not intervene in the affairs of any Arab countries “regardless of the pressures.”

“Hamas’ weapons will be directed only at the enemy (Israel), and Hamas will maintain its policy of not intervening in Arab countries’ affairs regardless of pressures or events,” Deputy Hamas chief Mousa Abu Marzouk was quoted in an official Hamas statement as saying.

Disagreements among Arab countries, “are their own business,” he said, though the question of Palestine “will remain the core issue for everybody, and support for the Palestinian plight should be indisputable regardless of any situation that may arise.”

Abu Marzouk added that Hamas has come under pressure in the past from the Arab world and internationally, and said “we will always deal with such pressures responsibly. We won’t be in disagreement with any country.”

In a similar statement Friday, member of Hamas’ politburo Khalil Al-Hayya that “the Palestinian armed resistance is directed only towards the Israeli occupation, and that the Palestinian resistance will not deviate from this track,” he said, reiterating the faction’s rejection of its designation as a terrorist organization by the US, Israel, and several other countries. Hamas identifies as a Islamist national resistance movement.

Meanwhile, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Muhammed bin Abd al-Rahman al-Thani reportedly said Saturday that, “The US views Hamas as a terror organization, but to the rest of the Arab nations it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people.”

“Hamas’s presence in Qatar doesn’t mean there’s support for Hamas in Qatar,” he said, highlighting the fact that Qatar also cooperates with the occupied West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to promote Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Following the abrupt severing of political ties with Qatar, Hamas slammed the development as a “politicized” attempt to force Qatar to abide by the interests of Israel and the United States.

Ahmad Yousif, a former senior Hamas figure who remains close to the movement’s leadership, described the political developments as part of an “American-Israeli-Saudi coalition” in the region — a sentiment expressed by other commentators owing to US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel in recent weeks and Saudi Arabia’s growing ties with Israel over the years.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir had stated that Qatar would have to cut support to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood if the country wanted to restore diplomatic relations.

Qatar has also reportedly expelled members of Hamas from the country owing to the pressure, however, Hamas denied these claims, saying several leaders left Qatar “willingly” in order to avoid adding to Qatar’s difficulties.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corbyn and UK Labour Victory Signals Pro-Palestine Mood, Diminished Israeli Legitimacy

Jeremy Corbyn at a pro-Palestinian rally in London, 2014. | Photo: Palestine Solidarity Committee
teleSUR | June 9, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn’s gains in the British general election mollified his political opponents, ranging from Rupert Murdoch’s yellow press to officials Tel Aviv, drawing outrage due to his support for causes considered taboo in Western capitals. Foremost among these causes is the popular opposition to Israeli war crimes and settler-colonialism in Palestine.

In fact, the Israeli state was established thanks, in no small part, to the British Empire’s occupation of the region following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, with Labour Party support playing a crucial role in laying the early groundwork for the state’s creation. Labour’s support for Zionism began when Sidney Webb, a founding leader of the Fabian socialist movement, penned the Memorandum on the Issues of War in August 1917, three months before the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, which recommended the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people.”

The document codified British Labour’s embrace of the First World War on the grounds that “the world may henceforth be made safe for democracy” through British war efforts while ironically denouncing “the imperialist aims of governments and capitalists” in the Middle East. The document also made a firm commitment to the resettlement of Jews in Palestine, calling for a “free state” to which European Jewry would be entitled the right to “work out their salvation, free from interference by those of alien race and religion.” Of course, British support for Zionism was a cynical and self-serving means to advance its own geopolitical interests in the region.

Labour’s 2017 election manifesto reflected, to some extent, a pro-Palestine mood among the party’s increasingly young support base that resembles Corbyn’s own record of solidarity with the Palestinian cause. In addition to revealing a social democratic aspect of Labour long suppressed or hidden from sight, the document stated the party’s commitment to a “two-state solution” to Israeli expansionism in Palestinian territories, warning Israeli authorities that it won’t tolerate further militarist excesses. It also states that a Labour government would “immediately recognize” the de jure Palestinian West Bank state. The manifesto further calls for a “world free from all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”

However, the Israeli lobby – through the Labour Friends of Israel and the press – spared no effort to have references to West Bank settlements as “wrong and illegal” removed from the final draft of the party platform while also axeing a line referring to the “the continued humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The manifesto also falsely equates Palestinian resistance “rocket and terror attacks” with the highly-advanced, destructive weaponry of the Israeli state.

The equivocation surrounding the drafting of points on the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict” raised questions about Corbyn’s willingness – or, rather, his ability – to consistently stand alongside the Palestinian struggle for self-determination while simultaneously leading Britain’s institutional center-left party.

Corbyn himself has visited Palestine nine times, in addition to multiple visits to refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. In 2013, following his return from the Gaza Strip, he wrote to then-Foreign Secretary William Hague and urged that the U.K. “stop allowing Israel’s criminal politicians to come to our country.” The Labour leader has also called for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza, an end to the abuse of Palestinian civilians by Israeli occupation forces, and the holding of Israeli politicians accountable for crimes against humanity and other rights abuses.

While Corbyn has conceded that the two-state solution would be difficult to implement given the significant Israeli-backed illegal settlement activity in the West Bank, he remains a supporter of the widely-discredited proposal as “all that’s on offer.” To his credit, though, Corbyn is on record noting that the fundamental “key” to addressing the root of the tragedy is ensuring the Palestinian people’s right to return to the homes and lands from which they were ethnically cleansed during the Nakba of 1948 and the 1967 Israeli onslaught and annexation of remaining Palestinian territories.

While not a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s call to reject Israeli cultural, academic and economic products – a call seen as “reasonable” by two of five Brits from across the political spectrum, according to recent polls – he has called for “targeted” boycotts of universities involved in weapons research and the boycott of goods produced in illicit Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. Despite that, the Labour manifesto fails to call for sanctions on the Israelis.

Corbyn also advocates engaging in diplomacy with regional players such as Palestinian Hamas and Hezbollah of Lebanon, noting their significant support base and the fact that, whether Tel Aviv likes it or not, they represent mass popular opinion in their respective countries.

Predictably, Britain’s right-wing – including many among the aggressively pro-U.S. Blairite New Labour clique – frantically sought to brand Corbyn’s humanitarian support for the Palestinian people as a reflection of “the new anti-Semitism,” a slur commonly applied to any stance opposing Israeli war crimes and impunity to the slightest extent.

Ultimately, British voters seemed unmoved by alarmist calls denouncing Labour as a bigoted party. This was proven when people from all walks of life – including British Jews – turned out in droves to support the party’s program and its candidates.

Labour’s victory came in spite of the hyperbolic attacks on Corbyn, perhaps signaling the shifting winds of public opinion regarding the Israeli occupation.

However, the longer-term question of whether an ascendant Corbyn will be able to sideline or dislodge U.S.-loyal and pro-Zionist layers within his own party – or resist the temptation to compromise with the Israeli lobby for the sake of political expediency – remains yet to be seen.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Major Chilean Universities Heed BDS Call, Cancel Events Sponsored by Israeli Embassy

IMEMC | June 10, 2017

Student-led BDS campaigns resulted in two major Chilean universities canceling events co-sponsored by the Israeli embassy and featuring Joe Uziel, a director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). On Monday, Alberto Hurtado of the University’s Anthropology Department announced the event’s cancellation, and yesterday the University of Chile’s Social Sciences Faculty did the same.

BDS Chile highlighted the reasons behind the campaign to cancel the event:

Universities cannot be passive accomplices in grave human rights violations. The State of Israel maintains an illegal occupation, colonization and apartheid regime against the Palestinian people, and the Israeli Embassy is this regime’s representative in Chile. In addition, the Israel Antiquities Authority is a government entity illegally based in occupied East Jerusalem that carries out illegal excavations in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Some of these illegal excavations are directed by the invited speaker, Joe Uziel.

The confiscation and theft of Palestinian cultural heritage are part of Israel’s attempts to erase Palestinian memory and cultural identity. Since 1967, the IAA has been deeply involved in cultural crimes and serious violations of international law, such as illegally removing and plundering hundreds of thousands of precious artifacts from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including East Jerusalem. Fearing BDS campaigns, Israel has been trying to prevent information about archeological work in the OPT from being made public and to whitewash these violations by promoting events like these abroad.

Sharaf Qutaifan, from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said:

Through the Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel attempts to bury the history of the indigenous people of Palestine, which was always home to groups with diverse cultures and religions. This is an extension of Israel’s policies of expulsion and cultural theft that it has carried out against Palestinians since its establishment. Israel has a troubling record of systematically looting Palestinian lands and properties, cultural treasures and even books and artworks, which continues until today.

We salute the Chilean students for pressuring the Anthropology Department of Alberto Hurtado University and the Social Sciences Faculty of University of Chile to take principled positions. Academic institutions should not lend their good names to Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights. We hope to see all Chilean universities fully free of Israeli apartheid.

BDS Chile celebrated the victory:

We welcome the decisions of Alberto Hurtado University and the University of Chile. The Palestinian people expect principled acts of solidarity in support of their human rights and the respect of international law. These cancellations demonstrate Chilean students’ determination to denounce Israel’s oppression and to work towards interrupting our universities’ ties with institutions complicit in Israeli apartheid.

This latest news is another stride in the growing academic boycott of Israel in Chile. Last year, law faculty students at the University of Chile overwhelmingly voted in support of BDS, as did more than 90% of the social sciences students. At the Catholic University of Chile, the Student Council also passed a BDS resolution by a large majority.

The cancellations are also another strike against the Israel Antiquities Authority. At the end of 2016, the 8th World Archaeological Congress published a resolution condemning Israel’s excavations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and called on international academic publishers to refuse publishing works related to archaeological research in those areas.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. PACBI advocates for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, given their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law. Visit PACBI at https://bdsmovement.net/pacbi and follow us on Twitter @PACBI

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran signs final contract to buy 30 Boeing 737 planes

RT | June 10, 2017

Boeing has signed a final deal with Iran’s Aseman Airlines to supply 30 737 MAX jets to the carrier, IRNA news agency reports, citing the airline’s managing director. Following the first batch of the planes, the company will order additional 30 jets.

One year of negotiations between the US aerospace giant Iran’s third-largest carrier concluded on Saturday, when Aseman’s Managing Director Hossein A’laei and Boeing Sales representative in the Middle East and Russia James Larson signed the final contract on purchasing 30 of the 737 MAX jets.

While the carrier operates as a private company, Iran’s Minister of Cooperative, Labor and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei and Head of Civil Aviation Organization Ali Abedzadeh attended the signing ceremony.

According to the preliminary memorandum of understanding, which was signed between the two companies on March 19, the company will order 30 additional planes once the first batch is delivered.

The deal for 60 jets would be worth $3 billion, according to IRNA. Aseman would pay 5 percent of the sum and the remaining 95 percent will be financed by Boeing, the agency reported.

One 737 MAX costs around $100 million at current prices, but in the case of such large contracts, carriers usually enjoy a 50 percent discount.

The deliveries will start in 2022 and within two years, the carrier will receive all 30 planes of the first batch.

The new agreement supplements of the $16.6 billion deal Boeing signed with Iran under Barack Obama’s administration. Boeing has agreed to sell 80 aircraft to the country’s flag carrier IranAir under the deal.

Earlier this year, Iran signed a deal with Airbus to buy 118 passenger jets for an estimated €22.8 billion ($25 billion). The contract later would be cut to 112 planes, according to Iranian officials.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , | 3 Comments

Is Qatar paying the price for its pro-Palestine stance?

The New Arab | June 8, 2017

Qatar’s support for Palestinians seems to be one of the key causes of the Saudi-led blockade on Doha, amid increasing convergence between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, and the administration of US President Donald Trump – the president most supportive of Israel in recent decades.

On Tuesday, Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, made it clear that a key demand of his government in return for restoring ties with Doha was for Qatar to end its “support” for Palestinian group Hamas, which champions armed resistance against Israel and was the winner of the last general election held in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Jubeir, for the first time in Saudi history, suggested Hamas was an “extremist” group. During Trump’s visit to Riyadh in late May, the US president proclaimed the group a terrorist outfit akin to the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda, and Riyadh did not object.

Saudi Arabia previously provided support to Hamas and welcomed its leaders as recently as 2015. However, on the back of the Iranian nuclear deal, both the kingdom and its ally, the UAE, have been making increasing offers of normalisation with Israel – with whom they share Iran as a common foe.

Since the events of the Arab Spring, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also become hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Hamas is affiliated, seeing it as an imminent threat to their regimes.

Qatar, by contrast, has maintained good relations with most Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, and invested tens of millions of dollars in the reconstruction of besieged Gaza, decimated by years of Israeli war.

Qatar, although closely allied to the United States, has maintained an independent policy on Palestine, which has often caused it problems with pro-Israel officials in the West.

Now, Qatar’s neighbours seem to have joined the fray, inching closer to fully endorsing Israel’s narrative on groups such as Hamas, in the name of fighting extremism and terrorism, without defining either.

It is worth noting that the UAE hosts and supports Hamas’ arch-rival, exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, whom it hopes to install as the next Palestinian president.

“Qatar is being punished for its role and influence in the Palestinian arena, with both President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas,” Ibrahim al-Madhoun, political analyst, told The New Arab.

“Qatar’s role is one of the causes of the Gulf crisis, as its balanced position and influence has become a source of annoyance for its rivals,” he added.

Taysir Muhaisen, political commentator, agrees. “All the parties, in light of the emergence of a new US administration, have decided to pressure Qatar, which has had a different approach to many issues including the Palestinian issue, dealing with Hamas and all Palestinian factions… and helping Gaza weather the blockade,” he said.

Disaster for Gaza

Qatar is one of the few foreign backers of Hamas, and faces massive pressure from its Gulf neighbours to cut ties with the Islamic militant group. If it does, the result could be disastrous for Hamas-ruled Gaza, according to an AP analysis.

Qatar has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in roads, housing and a major hospital in the tiny territory. Its infrastructure projects are one of the few job-creators in a devastated economy.

Gaza already suffers from an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, widespread destruction from a string of Israel-Hamas wars, economic misery and chronic electricity shortages. For Hamas, Qatar’s money pumping into the economy is a vital lifeline bolstering its rule.

The mere prospect of losing Qatari support prompted Hamas on Wednesday to issue rare criticism of Saudi Arabia, which has been leading the campaign against its tiny Gulf neighbour.

Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said the Saudi call for Qatar to cut ties with the Palestinian group was “regrettable”, and contradicts traditional Arab support for the Palestinian cause. He accused Saudi Arabia of siding with “American and Zionist calls to put Hamas on the terrorism list”.

Qatar has denied the allegations made against it by Riyadh. But its small size and reliance on food imports from Saudi Arabia could make it susceptible to pressure.

This could spell trouble for Hamas. The group – which calls for Israel’s destruction, even if it has offered long-term interim cease-fires – is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel and its Western allies. Israel and Hamas have fought three cross-border wars that caused large-scale damage in Gaza.

Qatar doesn’t support Hamas directly, but its large-scale projects have significantly eased the burden on Hamas authorities and given it some credit for bringing this money to Gaza.

In 2012, Qatar’s then-emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, visited Gaza, the first and only head of state to do so since Hamas routed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah militants in Gaza during internecine fighting a year after Hamas won elections in 2006. The emir announced a grant of $407 million for humanitarian projects.

The grant is being used to build a housing complex of 3,000 units. Two phases of the project have been completed and families moved into their new homes, dubbed the Hamad Residential City, in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

Last month, Palestinian contractors and Qatari envoys signed deals to start the third and final phase of Hamad City. Now, those deals could be in question.

Using that grant, Qatar also built a specialist prosthetic centre, the first of its kind in Gaza. Qatar paved roads, repaired or rebuilt mosques and oversaw dozens of other infrastructure projects.

Following a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2014, Qatar was the largest single donor to the reconstruction of Gaza, pledging $1 billion at a Cairo-hosted international conference.

Qatar also helped pay for fuel and electricity deliveries from neighbouring Israel, which, despite its enmity to Hamas, supplies energy to Gaza for what it says are humanitarian reasons.

On Wednesday, bulldozers with Qatari flags were seen leveling land overlooking Gaza City’s coastal road. The spot is supposed to house the headquarters of Qatar’s Gaza reconstruction mission and a residence for an envoy.

In Hamad City, new shops and stores are opening, including a pharmacy named Qatar, barber shops and a video gaming cafe as more families move in. The complex is the largest in Gaza.

Wael al-Naqla, a contractor, has won a bid to build several buildings in the final phase. Thanks to Qatari money, he is one of the few business owners who can hire workers in today’s Gaza.

“Without these projects, we would have been idled a long time ago,” he said, voicing fears that the funding could soon dry up. “We are afraid I won’t be able to keep paying for my 20 workers and they will not be able to eat.”

The construction here is one of the few bright spots in Gaza.

The situation here is grim. The territory suffers from rolling power cuts, with just four hours of electricity at a time, followed by 14-18 hours of blackout. Tap water is undrinkable, youth unemployment is estimated at 60 percent. Thousands wait for a rare chance to exit the blockaded territory.

Mkhaimar Abusada, an independent Gaza political analyst, said the pressure on Qatar could increase Hamas’ political and financial isolation.

This week, a high-level Hamas delegation was summoned to neighbouring Egypt, which has had cooling relations with Hamas. “If these talks don’t lead to new understandings getting Hamas out of its difficult political situation, I think there will be more crises,” said Abusada.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tehran Was Always America’s and Thus the Islamic State’s Final Destination

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 10.06.2017

Several were left dead and many more injured after coordinated terror attacks on Iran’s capital of Tehran. Shootings and bombings targeted Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.

According to Reuters, the so-called “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the attack, which unfolded just days after another terror attack unfolded in London. The Islamic State also reportedly took responsibility for the violence in London, despite evidence emerging that the three suspects involved were long-known to British security and intelligence agencies and were simply allowed to plot and carry out their attacks.

It is much less likely that Tehran’s government coddled terrorists -as it has been engaged for years in fighting terrorism both on its borders and in Syria amid a vicious six-year war fueled by US, European, and Persian Gulf weapons, cash, and fighters.

Armed Violence Targeting Tehran Was the Stated Goal of US Policymakers

The recent terrorist attacks in Tehran are the literal manifestation of US foreign policy. The creation of a proxy force with which to fight Iran and establishing a safe haven for it beyond Iran’s borders have been long-stated US policy. The current chaos consuming Syria and Iraq – and to a lesser extent in southeast Turkey – is a direct result of the US attempting to secure a base of operations to launch a proxy war directly against Iran.

In the 2009 Brookings Institution document titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran,” the use of then US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) as a proxy for instigating a full-fledged armed insurgency not unlike that which is currently unfolding in Syria was discussed in detail.

The report explicitly stated:

The United states could also attempt to promote external Iranian opposition groups, providing them with the support to turn themselves into full-fledged insurgencies and even helping them militarily defeat the forces of the clerical regime. The United states could work with groups like the Iraq-based National council of resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its military wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), helping the thousands of its members who, under Saddam Husayn’s regime, were armed and had conducted guerrilla and terrorist operations against the clerical regime. although the NCRI is supposedly disarmed today, that could quickly be changed.

Brookings policymakers admitted throughout the report that MEK was responsible for killing both American and Iranian military personnel, politicians, and civilians in what was clear-cut terrorism. Despite this, and admissions that MEK remained indisputably a terrorist organization, recommendations were made to de-list it from the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization registry so that more overt support could be provided to the group for armed regime change.

Based on such recommendations and intensive lobbying, the US State Department would eventually de-list MEK in 2012 and the group would receive significant backing from the US openly. This included support from many members of current US President Donald Trump’s campaign team – including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton.

However, despite these efforts, MEK was not capable then or now of accomplishing the lofty goal of instigating full-fledged insurrection against Tehran, necessitating the use of other armed groups. The 2009 Brookings paper made mention of other candidates under a section titled, “Potential Ethnic Proxies,” identifying Arab and Kurdish groups as well as possible candidates for a US proxy war against Tehran.

Under a section titled, “Finding a Conduit and Safe Haven,” Brookings notes:

Of equal importance (and potential difficulty) will be finding a neighboring country willing to serve as the conduit for U.S. aid to the insurgent group, as well as to provide a safe haven where the group can train, plan, organize, heal, and resupply.

For the US proxy war on Syria, Turkey and Jordan fulfill this role. For Iran, it is clear that US efforts would have to focus on establishing conduits and safe havens from Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province and from Kurdish-dominated regions in northern Iraq, eastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey – precisely where current upheaval is being fueled by US intervention both overtly and covertly.

Brookings noted in 2009 that:

It would be difficult to find or build an insurgency with a high likelihood of success. The existing candidates are weak and divided, and the Iranian regime is very strong relative to the potential internal and external challengers.

A group not mentioned by Brookings in 2009, but that exists in the very region the US seeks to create a conduit and safe haven for a proxy war with Iran, is the Islamic State. Despite claims that it is an independent terrorist organization propelled by black market oil sales, ransoms, and local taxes, its fighting capacity, logistical networks, and operational reach demonstrates vast state sponsorship.

The Ultimate Proxy, the Perfect Conduit and Safe Haven

The Islamic State reaching into Iran, southern Russia, and even as far as western China was not only possible, it was inevitable and the logical progression of US policy as stated by Brookings in 2009 and verifiably executed since then.

The Islamic State represents the perfect “proxy,” occupying the ideal conduit and safe haven for executing America’s proxy war against Iran and beyond. Surrounding the Islamic State’s holdings are US military bases, including those illegally constructed in eastern Syria. Were the US to wage war against Iran in the near future, it is likely these assets would all “coincidentally” coordinate against Tehran just as they are now being “coincidentally” coordinated against Damascus.

The use of terrorism, extremists, and proxies in executing US foreign policy, and the use of extremists observing the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s brand of indoctrination was demonstrated definitively during the 1980’s when the US with the assistance of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – used Al Qaeda to expel Soviet forces from Afghanistan. This example is in fact mentioned explicitly by Brookings policymakers as a template for creating a new proxy war – this time against Iran.

For the US, there is no better stand-in for Al Qaeda than its successor the Islamic State. US policymakers have demonstrated a desire to use known terrorist organizations to wage proxy war against targeted nation-states, has previously done so in Afghanistan, and has clearly organized the geopolitical game board on all sides of Iran to facilitate its agenda laid out in 2009. With terrorists now killing people in Tehran, it is simply verification that this agenda is advancing onward.

Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict illustrates that Tehran is well aware of this conspiracy and is actively defending against it both within and beyond its borders. Russia is likewise an ultimate target of the proxy war in Syria and is likewise involved in resolving it in favor of stopping it there before it goes further.

China’s small but expanding role in the conflict is linked directly to the inevitability of this instability spreading to its western Xianjiang province.

While terrorism in Europe, including the recent London attack, is held up as proof that the West is “also” being targeted by the Islamic State, evidence suggests otherwise. The attacks are more likely an exercise in producing plausible deniability.

In reality, the Islamic State – like Al Qaeda before it – depends on vast, multinational state sponsorship – state sponsorship the US, Europe, and its regional allies in the Persian Gulf are providing. It is also sponsorship they can – at anytime of their choosing – expose and end. They simply choose not to in pursuit of regional and global hegemony.

The 2009 Brookings paper is a signed and dated confession of the West’s proclivity toward using terrorism as a geopolitical tool. While Western headlines insist that nations like Iran, Russia, and China jeopardize global stability, it is clear that they themselves do so in pursuit of global hegemony.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian Army, Hezbollah reaches border with Iraq for the first time in years

By Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News | 09/06/2017

DAMASCUS – Late on Friday afternoon, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Hezbollah and allied Iraqi paramilitary contingents dashed through southeastern Homs and reached an Iraqi border point, thus slicing adrift the frontline between rebel forces based in the Al-Tanf region and ISIS militants in the neighboring Deir Ezzor governorate.

Unopposed by the US Airforce and its vetted Syrian proxies, the SAA and its allies drove through over 40 kilometers of abandoned desert territory and managed to link up with an Iraqi garrison across the border.

The advance was confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defense and an Hezbollah-linked outlet moments ago.

Effectively, the SAA is now able to reopen trade between Damascus and Baghdad. Government forces have not controlled any parts of the largely ISIS-controlled border with Iraq since 2014.

In addition, Hezbollah is now able to be supplied with weapons from Tehran via an all-important land route. Previously, the Lebanese group relied on complicated airlifts for new armaments.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The US Hand in the Libyan/Syrian Tragedies

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks at a United Nations Security Council Session on the situation in Syria at the U.N. in New York on Jan. 31, 2012. [State Dept. Photo]
By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | June 9, 2017

Police investigations and media reports have confirmed that two of the bloodiest terrorist attacks in Western Europe — the coordinated bombings and shootings in Paris in November 2015, which killed 130 people, and the May 2017 bombing of the arena in Manchester, England, which killed 23 — trace back to an Islamic State unit based in Libya known as Katibat al-Battar.

Since those attacks, a number of analysts, myself included, have characterized them as a form of “blowback” from NATO’s disastrous campaign to depose Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. By turning Libya into an anarchic staging ground for radical Islamist militants, that intervention set in motion the deadly export of terror back into Western Europe.

But such a Eurocentric critique of NATO’s intervention misses the far greater damage it wreaked on Syria, where nearly half a million people have died and at least 5 million refugees have had to flee their country since 2011. U.S., British and French leaders helped trigger one of the world’s great modern catastrophes through their act of hubris in seeking another “regime change” – the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad – in Syria.

A decade ago, Libya was a leading foe of radical jihadis, not a sanctuary for their international operations. A 2008 State Department memo noted that “Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism.” It gave the Gaddafi regime credit for “aggressively pursuing operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows,” particularly by veterans of jihadist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

All that came to an end in 2011, when armed rebels, including disciplined members of al-Qaeda and Islamic State, enlisted NATO’s help to topple Gaddafi’s regime.

Western leaders ignored the prescient warnings of Gaddafi’s son Seif that “Libya may become the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean. . . .You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door.” Gaddafi himself similarly predicted that once the jihadis “control the Mediterranean . . . then they will attack Europe.”

Subsequent terrorist attacks in Europe certainly vindicated those warnings, while discrediting the so-called “humanitarian” case for waging an illegal war in Libya. But the predicted jihadi efforts to “control the Mediterranean” have had far graver repercussions, at least in the case of Syria.

A recent story in the New York Times on the genesis of recent terror attacks on France and Britain noted in passing that the Islamic State in Libya, composed of “seasoned veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan,” was “among the first foreign jihadist contingent to arrive in Syria in 2012, as the country’s popular revolt was sliding into a broader civil war and Islamist insurgency.”

A former British counter-terrorism analyst told the newspaper, “some of the baddest dudes in Al Qaeda were Libyan. When I looked at the Islamic State, the same thing was happening. They were the most hard-core, the most violent — the ones always willing to go to extremes when others were not. The Libyans represented the elite troops, and clearly ISIS capitalized on this.”

These Libyan jihadists leveraged their numbers, resources, and fanaticism to help escalate Syria’s conflict into the tragedy we know today. The mass murder we now take for granted was not inevitable.

Extremist Violence in Syria

Although Syria’s anti-government protests in the spring of 2011 turned violent almost from the start, many reformers and government officials strove to prevent an all-out civil war. In August 2011, leaders of Syria’s opposition wisely declared that calls to arms were “unacceptable politically, nationally, and ethically. Militarizing the revolution would . . . undermine the gravity of the humanitarian catastrophe involved in a confrontation with the regime. Militarization would put the revolution in an arena where the regime has a distinct advantage and would erode the moral superiority that has characterized the revolution since its beginning.”

Largely forgotten today, the Assad regime also took serious steps to deescalate the violence, including lifting the country’s state of emergency, disbanding the unpopular National Security Court, appointing a new government, and hosting a national dialogue with protest leaders.

But on August 18, 2011, the same Western leaders who were bombing Gaddafi announced to the world that “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Further energizing Syrian militants, Libyan rebels were just then in the midst of conquering Tripoli with NATO’s help.

“That is an ominous sign for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad,” reported the Wall Street Journal. “Already there are signs Libya is giving inspiration to the rebels trying to oust Mr. Assad. . . . Syrian protesters took to the streets chanting ‘Gadhafi tonight, Bashar tomorrow.’ . . . The Libyan episode may serve simply to sharpen the conflict in Syria: both spurring on the dissidents and strengthening Mr. Assad’s resolve to hold on.”

Stoking war in Syria was not an unintended consequence of the Libyan campaign, but a conscious part of the longstanding neoconservative ambition to “remake the map of the Middle East” by toppling radical, nationalist and anti-American regimes. The same Journal article described the grandiose aims of some Washington interventionists:

“Beyond Syria, a new dose of energy provided by Libya’s uprising could ripple out to other nations in the region. In particular, U.S. officials hope it will reinvigorate a protest movement that arose inside Iran in 2009 to challenge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election. . . Syria has served for 30 years as Iran’s closest strategic ally in the region. U.S. officials believe the growing challenge to Mr. Assad’s regime could motivate Iran’s democratic forces.”

Instead of motivating Iran’s democrats, of course, the Syrian conflict motivated Iran’s hardliners to send Revolutionary Guard units and Hezbollah proxy forces into the country, further destabilizing the region.

Following the gruesome murder of Gaddafi in the fall of 2011, Libyan zealots quickly began fueling other terrorist conflicts, ranging from Mali to the Middle East, with arms looted from Gaddafi’s vast stocks.

“The weapons proliferation that we saw coming out of the Libyan conflict was of a scale greater than any previous conflict — probably 10 times more weapons than we saw going on the loose in places like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan,” observed an expert at Human Rights Watch.

A United Nations investigation determined that “Transfers of arms and ammunition from Libya were among the first batches of weapons and ammunition to reach the Syrian opposition.” It also stressed that Libyan weapons were arming primarily “extremist elements,” allowing them to gain territory and influence at the expense of more moderate rebel groups.

Spreading the War

As early as November 2011, Islamist warlords in Libya began offering “money and weapons to the growing insurgency against Bashar al-Assad,” according to the Daily Telegraph. Abdulhakim Belhadj, commander of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an al-Qaeda affiliate, met secretly with Syrian rebel leaders in Turkey to discuss training their troops. (In 2004, he had been the victim of a CIA kidnap plot and rendition from Malaysia to Libya.)

The commander of one armed Libyan gang told the newspaper, “Everyone wants to go (to Syria). We have liberated our country, now we should help others. . . This is Arab unity.”

In April 2012, Lebanese authorities confiscated a ship carrying more than 150 tons of arms and ammunition originating in Misrata, Libya. A U.N.-authorized panel inspected the weapons and reported finding SA-24 and SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank guided missiles, and a variety of other light and heavy weapons.

By that August, according to Time magazine, “hundreds of Libyans” had flocked to Syria to “export their revolution,” bringing with them weapons, expertise in making bombs, and experience in battlefield tactics.

“Within weeks of the successful conclusion of their revolution, Libyan fighters began trickling into Syria,” the magazine noted. “But in recent months, that trickle has allegedly become a torrent, as many more have traveled to the mountains straddling Syria and Turkey, where the rebels have established their bases.”

A Syrian rebel told the newsweekly, “They have heavier weapons than we do,” including surface-to-air missiles. “They brought these weapons to Syria, and they are being used on the front lines.”

A month later, the London Times reported that a Libyan ship carrying more than 400 tons of weapons bound for Syria, including SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, had docked in Turkey. Such weapons particularly compounded the suffering of civilians caught up in the war. As France’s foreign minister told reporters that October, rebel-held anti-aircraft missiles were “forcing (Syrian government) planes to fly extremely high, and so the strikes are less accurate.”

According to later reporting by Seymour Hersh, most such Libyan weapons made their way to Syria via covert routes supervised by the CIA, under a program authorized by the Obama administration in early 2012. Funding and logistics support came from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The CIA supposedly avoided disclosing the program to Congress by classifying it as a liaison operation with a foreign intelligence partner, Britain’s MI6.

Word of the operation began leaking to the London media by December 2012. The CIA was said to be sending in more advisers to help ensure that the Libyan weapons did not reach radical Islamist forces.

Of course, their efforts came too late; U.S. intelligence officials knew by that time that “the Salafist(s), the Muslim Brotherhood, and (al-Qaeda)” were “the major forces driving the insurgency.” The influx of new arms simply compounded Syria’s suffering and raised its profile as a dangerous arena of international power competition.

Libya’s arms and fighters helped transform the Syrian conflict from a nasty struggle into a bloodbath. As Middle East scholar Omar Dahi noted, “the year 2012 was decisive in creating the present catastrophe. There were foreign elements embroiled in Syria before that date . . . but until early 2012 the dynamics of the Syrian conflict were largely internal. . . . Partly in . . . appropriation of weapons pumped in from the outside and partly in anticipation of still greater military assistance, namely from the West, the opposition decided to take up arms.

“The decision — militarization — had three main effects. First, it dramatically increased the rate of death and destruction throughout the country. . . . By mid-2012, the monthly casualties were almost in excess of the total in the entire first year of the uprising. Militarization gave the Syrian regime a free hand to unleash its full arsenal of indiscriminate weaponry. . . Perhaps most fatefully, the advent of armed rebellion placed much of the opposition’s chances in the hands of those who would fund and arm the fighters. . . . It was then that the jihadi groups were unleashed.”

The collateral victims of NATO’s intervention in Libya now include 6 million Libyans attempting to survive in a failed state, millions of people across North Africa afflicted by Islamist terrorism, 20 million Syrians yearning for an end to war, and millions of innocent Europeans who wonder when they might become targets of suicidal terrorists. There is nothing “humanitarian” about wars that unleash such killing and chaos, with no end in sight.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UAE-tied militants kidnap, torture hundreds in Yemen: Probe

Press TV – June 10, 2017

Militants backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have reportedly kidnapped and tortured hundreds of people in southern Yemen.

On Friday, the American news and analysis website The Daily Beast published an investigation bankrolled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism NGO, which pointed to the findings.

The probe said the militants, who would fight under the banner of the Elite Forces, had spirited the men away from their homes and brought them to a secret prison compound in southern Yemen, where they were tortured.

Earlier in the year, the United Nations had likewise reported an increase in forced disappearances in southern Yemen.

The UAE has served as an ally of Saudi Arabia in the latter’s 2015-present campaign in Yemen to restore the impoverished country’s former Riyadh-allied government. The Elite Forces have been fighting in Yemen since the same year to assist the Saudi-led campaign.

The investigators interviewed local rights activists and families of those abducted, who said the situation at the al-Riyyan airport, which has been used as a place of incarceration for the abductees, compared to that in the notorious US-run prisons such as Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

The kidnapping spree took place under the pretext of clearing out suspected al-Qaeda-linked elements. Activists, however, told the Bureau that many of those abducted had normal jobs while al-Qaeda was in control in the area, and were not tied to the group.

According to various reports, Abu Dhabi holds notable sway in southern Yemen and looks to be trying to expand its leverage there by lending its support to southern separatists.

The separatists are led by two pro-Emirati officials of Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who have been sacked by him over suspicions of serving the Emirates.

The men, Hadi’s governor for Yemen’s port city of Aden, Maj. Gen. Aidarous al-Zubaidi, and his state minister Hani bin Breik, reacted to the sacking by breaking ranks with Hadi and forming an autonomous regional body in southern Yemen.

Saudi Arabia then “invited” the separatists to the kingdom, in what was seen as an effort at seeking explanation from them for parting ways with Riyadh-allied Hadi.

Observers say the Emirates increased activities could drag Doha into a political struggle against Saudi Arabia.

Earlier in the month, Yemeni sources reported that militants backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had engaged in infighting in the southern port city of Aden, with UAE-backed militia seizing a facility there.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment