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US Air Force Admits to Poisoning Colorado Groundwater

Sputnik – July 26, 2017

On Tuesday, the US Air Force finally acknowledged responsibility for contaminating the water at a east Colorado Springs air base and its surrounding areas.

In a report released Tuesday, service investigators confirmed that groundwater surrounding Peterson Air Force Base had been tainted by perfluorinated firefighting foam chemicals, based on dozens of water and soil tests taken at the base last year.

Several sites where the chemicals had been sprayed directly on the ground by firefighters since the 1970s were highlighted in the report. Despite decades of research noting the danger of using the chemicals, they remained in wide use, and military officials are dealing with similar contamination issues all across the country.

Research has found that laboratory animals exposed to the chemicals suffered low birth weights and cellular and liver damage, according to KKTV.

The levels of perfluorinated chemicals found during testing at the Colorado Springs site were more than 1,000 times higher than the limit put forth by a national health advisory.

Greg Lauer, a council member from nearby Fountain City told the Denver Post, “It makes me really angry that it has taken them this long to get some numbers — and more than a little concerned.”

“We and our ratepayers are going to be dealing for a very long time with this problem we did not create.”

Roy Heald, who manages the Security Water and Sanitation District near Colorado Springs, said that after municipal wells were contaminated the agency spent $3.6 million on alternative water sources and pipelines. But the US Air Force has not yet furnished the $800,000 in reimbursements they promised.

Notably, Tuesday’s report said contamination at the base was most acute at Peterson’s fire training pit, despite there being a plastic liner in place to prevent the chemicals from leeching into the groundwater. Investigators blamed this on “overspray” from firefighters.

Though Air Force investigators admitted that Colorado Springs sewers had been used to dispose of contaminated waste, they glossed over any possible pollution of drinking water.

“The holding tank is occasionally drained into the sanitary sewer system, but such events are rare,” they wrote, adding that 10,000 to 20,000 gallons of chemical-laden wastewater was drained with each release.

Peterson officials last year admitted to storing chemical-tainted water from the fire pit in a tank nearby, pumping it into Colorado Springs’ sewers three times a year, likely tainting the Widefield Aquifer nearby, where high quantities of the chemicals were found last year. The aquifer serves about 65,000 residents, among them the 20,000 of Fountain City, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

When the water passes through the Colorado Springs Utilities’ treatment plant the chemicals are not removed, and once it leaves the plant that water heads for the aquifer’s primary water source, Fountain Creek.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) called for funds to be allocated for testing people for health issues related to toxic water and contamination clean up. “The people of the surrounding communities are patriotic Americans who will do whatever they can to help our national defense,” he said in a statement. “But they should not be called upon to suffer needless environmental burdens.”

READ ALSO:

Radioactive Contamination from Nuclear Waste Site Spreads in Washington

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

SIRHAN SIRHAN: A “REEL BAD” ARAB?

By J. Michael Springmann | Hausfrau Leaks | July 21, 2017

On July 20, 2017, William F. Pepper, Ed.D., J.D., spoke at the National Press Club about his previous day’s filing of a 200-page petition regarding Sirhan Sirhan.  Sirhan, jailed since 1968, is the alleged killer of Robert F. Kennedy, late New York U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate.  Organized by Andrew Kreig, J.D., editor of the Justice Integrity Project (http://www.justice-integrity.org/), the well-attended conference enabled Dr. Pepper to discuss his long-sought evidentiary hearing.

As Sirhan’s lawyer for many years, Pepper conceded that the legal remedies for his client in the United States have been exhausted–at both the State and federal levels.  California, where Kennedy had been murdered in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen, did not assure a fair trial.  Essentially, ineffective assistance of counsel got the accused wrongly convicted.  Grant Cooper, his attorney, under threat of a sealed felony indictment, did almost nothing to defend Sirhan.  He failed to investigate the matter, obtain the autopsy report, or examine ballistics tests.  He spent most of the court proceedings arguing that Sirhan was guilty and, that because of diminished capacity, should not be given the death penalty.

Sirhan also got no relief in the federal system, neither with with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, nor with the extremely liberal and contrarian U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, nor with the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to review the case.

Now, Pepper is staking Sirhan’s chances on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an Organization of American States (OAS) body. His goal is either a new trial or an evidentiary hearing. The filing alleges that the California and U.S. justice systems violated Sirhan’s right to a fair trial, as required under the OAS Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. By treaty, the IACHR may review U.S. cases and those from 34 other nations when domestic remedies have been exhausted.

Pepper, who had been a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, is known for his winning defense of King’s supposed murderer, James Earle Ray, during a 1993 mock trial on HBO.  In a celebrated wrongful death proceeding in 1999, Pepper obtained a symbolic award based on 10 years of dogged pursuit of relevant evidence and witnesses.  He is doing the same now with Sirhan.

Noting that the U.S. media is controlled, by high level businessmen, bankers, and other influential figures who move in and out of government, such as John J. McCloy one-time U.S. High Commissioner for Germany and member of the Warren Commission, Sirhan’s lawyer said that the “conclusive evidence” reported as news was, in realty, extremely weak.  There was never a hearing on the facts, he commented.  Such an investigation would have shown that Sirhan, the claimed criminal, was nowhere near Kennedy when the shooting started.  Thomas Noguchi, Los Angeles’ chief medical examiner at the time, swore that Kennedy was struck by three shots fired within inches of his body, from behind.  Sirhan got off two shots at Kennedy from a six-foot distance, in front. Sirhan was immediately tackled and pinned down while still pulling the trigger on his handgun.  However, Sirhan fired only eight shots total yet a carefully-examined sound recording heard thirteen rounds.  Moreover, the shots came from different directions.

Yet, the Los Angeles Police Department, Pepper revealed, failed to preserve the physical evidence from the crime scene, such as ceiling tiles, doors, and door frames with bullets buried in them.  The cops’ excuse?  There was no space in which to store them.  Pepper went on to say that the Los Angeles police had long-standing and very close ties to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The suspicion is, Pepper remarked, that Sirhan appeared to fit the parameters of the infamous CIA drug and consciousness-altering program, MK-ULTRA.  (Its former director, Sid Gottlieb, destroyed most of the operation’s records in 1973.)  Dr. Daniel Brown, Harvard Medical School, spent nearly 70 hours examining Sirhan through hypnosis and questioning, concluding that the Palestinian Christian had undergone a variety of procedures coupled with drugs to make him controllable.  Notably, Pepper said, this could have occurred while Sirhan had mysteriously disappeared for two weeks before the assassination.  Seen as a patsy, he was prepped as a distraction while the real murderer fired the close-up shots killing Kennedy, Pepper continued.  Sirhan had apparently had a handler, a woman in a polka dot dress, the attorney remarked.  She disappeared after she pinched the scapegoat on the neck, apparently triggering Sirhan’s belief that he was really shooting at a paper, man-shaped target from a firing range.

COMMENT.  Despite Andrew Kreig ‘s extensive and most vigorous efforts, only a few members of the press turned up at the conference: an intern from the Washington Times, a representative from Al-Mayadeen TV, Beirut, along with a knowledgeable White House correspondent for an alternative news site.  This appeared to validate Dr. Pepper’s view of the heavily-managed American media.  And it bodes ill for what seems to be the attorney’s goal in filing with the OAS–to generate enough adverse publicity to force the United States to re-examine the questionable trial of Sirhan Sirhan.  Indeed, a casual search of the Internet turns up a number of references about “conspiracies” revolving around the problematically convicted man.

Perhaps everyone involved in this matter should take a look at Dr. Jack Shaheen’s writings on Arabs, notably Reel Bad Arabs:  How Hollywood Vilifies A People.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The Atlantic Council: Experts on the front line of disinformation

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | July 26, 2017

NATO’s academic wing has been warning about disinformation for years. And it’s no wonder when its staff and contributors are so well-versed in the practice themselves.

The Atlantic Council is an organization dedicated to discussion between people who hate Russia and folk who really, really hate Russia. Thus, amid the current hysteria, it’s Christmas every day for its assorted staff and “fellows” or, to use a more accurate term, ‘lobbyists.’

For the uninitiated, it’s difficult to explain what exactly the Atlantic Council does. Essentially, the club exists to influence the information space to justify NATO’s continued existence. It does that by either employing Russia’s opponents directly or offering retainers to journalists and media analysts who can be relied upon to push the outfit’s anti-Russian stance. Which, of course, is its lifeblood.

While the Atlantic Council is set-up to promote antagonism toward Russia, it also needs it. Because if Russia combusted tomorrow, everyone on the payroll would be out of a job. So, it’s like the famous U2 song “I can’t live, with or without you.” But unlike the protagonist of that ditty, these guys don’t give themselves away. Instead, this NATO adjunct is lavishly funded, by a roll call of famous entities.

Such as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, Abu Dhabi’s National Oil Company, the Ukrainian World Congress, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Raytheon Company, the US State Department and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is the plaything of a Ukrainian oligarch.

Some of the more prominent beneficiaries of the resultant money tree include Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins, CNN’s Michael Weiss, Crowdstrike’s Dmitri Alperovitch, Obama advisor Evelyn Farkas and Maxim Eristavi of Ukraine’s Maidan. All of whom are conveniently united by their hostility to all things Russian.

Like Rolling Stones

The Atlantic Council’s content ranges from very anti-Russian to extremely anti-Russian. For instance, it carries articles by the likes of Alexander Motyl, who predicted Russia’s imminent collapse in January of 2016, before warning in January of 2017 that Moscow was planning a major land invasion of Ukraine. Which is Russophrenia at its finest, in fairness. Nevertheless, Motyl is a shrinking violet compared to Atlantic Council lobbyist Anders Aslund, who foresaw Russia’s demise way back in September 1999. And now, almost eighteen years later, he’s still hanging around for the big moment. In the manner of a Seventh Day Adventist awaiting the second coming of Jesus, any day now.

So, now that we’ve established the Atlantic Council’s modus operandi let’s look at the latest example of the group’s myopia. This week, they’ve unleashed one Polina Kovaleva to opine on “why Congress should pass the Russian sanctions bill.” And she’s delivered a tirade which is shoddy, even when measured by the usual indigent standards.

Kovaleva gives her readers examples of why the embargo is justified, in her opinion, but then delivers a line so deceptive that it makes you wonder whether she’s in touch with reality. “Although the Senate easily passed a strong sanctions bill in June to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the White House has quietly lobbied to weaken it, and some European politicians are pushing back,” she writes.

Eurocrat Anger

That’s’ right, “some European politicians are pushing back.” Some! What she actually means is “basically every significant elected representative in the European Union.” Including, the “leader of the free world” herself Angela Merkel and that well-known renegade Jean-Claude Juncker.

Here’s what Reuters reported on Wednesday morning: “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday the European Union was ready to act “within a matter of days” if proposed new US sanctions on Russia undermined the bloc’s energy security. And that came three days after the Financial Times reported how Brussels was considering imposing penalties on the US if it damaged European interests to settle scores with Moscow.

Meanwhile, for her part, Merkel has backed Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, in expressing concerns that Washington is threatening “illegal extraterritorial sanctions against European companies that participate in the development of European energy supply.”

Because everybody in Europe knows this US Congress bill has little or nothing to do with punishing Russia. Instead, it’s about trying to nudge Moscow’s energy companies out of Europe, to create market share for their competitors. In other words, a form of economic war, in which the EU countries’ interests don’t amount to a hill of beans.

Something explained recently by Wolfgang Ischinger, a prominent German pundit and former diplomat. He contended: “how would the US have reacted if Europeans had adopted a bill against Keystone XL pipeline but in favor of European business?” before pointing out “for Europe, the loss of such large oil or gas supplies from Russia is unacceptable: there are no alternatives.”

Without question, this is a high-profile resistance campaign. And these sanctions could severely rupture transatlantic ties. Because you don’t get more powerful than Merkel and Juncker in Europe. But the Atlantic Council makes it sound as if a few fringe politicians are off on a solo-run, rejecting Washington’s supreme wisdom.

That is certainly not the case and amounts to misleading agitprop of the highest order. Which is rather apt for a lobbying firm which recently held a “Disinfo week” and proudly claims to be “On the front lines of disinformation.” Because, on this evidence, the Atlantic Council is home to seriously proficient gurus of hogwash.

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist, who is based in Russia.

Read more:

German business lobby urges EU action against new US sanctions on Russia

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Jeff Sessions sued over 1970s cannabis law

RT | July 26, 2017

A former NFL star and an Iraq War veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder have launched a suit against US attorney general Jeff Sessions over federal cannabis laws.

The pair have teamed with a group advocating the use of cannabis on medical and business grounds and are suing Sessions, the Department of Justice as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency.

In total, the five plaintiffs include former New York Jets football player Marvin Washington, US Army veteran Jose Belen, and an 11-year-old girl who suffers from epilepsy.

They all believe the 1970s Controlled Substance Act (CSA) signed into law by former US President Richard Nixon is unconstitutional.

Under the legislation, marijuana is said to be as dangerous as heroin and N-Ethyl-3-piperidyl benzilate, a chemical which acts on the central nervous system.

“The CSA has wrongfully and unconstitutionally criminalized the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis, which, historically, has been harvested to produce, among other things, medicine, industrial hemp, a substance known as tetrahydrocannabinol,” the suit states.

It adds: “Classifying cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, while ignoring the undeniable addictive and lethal chemical properties of nicotine and tar, which kill millions of Americans every year, renders this mis-classification of cannabis utterly irrational and absurd.”

The court documents reveal that Washington opposes the act because he fears it could damage his business of treating head injuries with cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, both components in marijuana.

Meanwhile, the other plaintiffs are seeking legalization of the drug for medical reasons, since they either live in states where marijuana is illegal, or are restricted from travelling with the drug.

In the case of Iraq War veteran Jose Belen, the suit argues that he has not been able to obtain treatment from the US Veterans Administration for his PTSD and“cannot safely” enter an airplane or federal building with the drug.

US Attorney General Jeff Session has previously highlighted his opposition to legalizing the drug on a federal level and once commented that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

The US Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Agency has yet to respond to the filing.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

House GOP Seeks to Curb Yemen War

By Dennis J Bernstein | Consortium News | July 26, 2017

Republicans are taking the lead in blocking U.S. participation in the Saudi slaughter in Yemen, which has plunged that country to the brink of starvation and sparked a cholera epidemic. Surprising to many, there was a vote by the Republican-led House of Representatives to block U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war.

The key amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act — prohibiting U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of Yemen — was sponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio. Though the amendment gained bipartisan support — and another restrictive amendment was sponsored by Rep. Dick Nolan, D-Minnesota — the Republican leadership on this issue reflects the changing places in which Democrats have become the more hawkish party in Congress.

I spoke to Kate Gould, Legislative Representative for Middle East Policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation about this pressing issue of life and death in Yemen. We spoke on July 17.

Dennis Bernstein: Well, this is a terrible situation and getting worse by the day. Could you please remind everyone what it looks like in Yemen on the ground?

Kate Gould: It is a catastrophic situation. According to the United Nations, it is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world right now. And despite the fact that this humanitarian crisis has been a direct result of the Saudi/United Arab Emirate-led war in Yemen, backed by the United States, most Americans have no idea that we are so deeply involved in this war.

A conservative estimate is that seven million people are on the verge of starvation, half a million being children. The people in Yemen are experiencing the world’s largest cholera outbreak. A child under the age of five is dying every ten minutes of preventable causes. Every 35 seconds a child is infected.

This is all preventable with access to clean water and basic sanitation. This war has destroyed the civilian infrastructure in Yemen. We’re talking about air strikes that have targeted warehouses of food, sanitation systems, water infiltration systems. The World Health Organization points out that cholera is not difficult to prevent. The problem is that so many Yemenis lack access to clean water as a result of the infrastructure being in ruins.

DB: What about the medical infrastructure, what about the ability to deal with this kind of epidemic, or is it just going to get worse?

KG: Well, unless we do something to change the situation, it is definitely going to get worse. In Yemen, 90% of food is imported and the Saudis have made this much more difficult. They imposed more restraints on one of the major ports and have refused to allow Yemen to repair the damage caused by air strikes. Often it is difficult for ships to get permission to berth. All these complications have driven up the price of food so that even when food manages to be imported it is too expensive, even for those earning decent incomes. So what we are seeing is a de facto blockade as well as a war.

DB: Could you say a few words about the campaign of the Saudi military and what kind of weaponry they are using? Later I would like to discuss US support for all of this.

KG: The Saudi-led war began about two and a half years ago in March, 2015. At that time they asked for US support and got it from the Obama administration. The air campaign has resulted in the carpet bombing of Yemen. It is the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates who have been driving this massive bombardment. There has been an all-out assault on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

And, of course, as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has pointed out, the Saudis would not have been able to carry out this bombing without full US support. Their planes cannot fly without US refueling capacity. In fact, since October the US has actually doubled the amount of fuel it provides to Saudi and Emirati bombers. Last October is significant because at that time there was a major bombing of mourners coming out of a funeral hall which killed about 140 civilians and wounded another six hundred. Since that atrocity, the US has doubled its refueling support.

DB: How does the US justify its support for the Saudis, from a human rights perspective?

KG: We’ve heard very little discussion of the human rights angle from the Trump administration. The Obama administration claimed to be pressuring the Saudis to take precautions to prevent civilian casualties, that this is why the US has provided precision-guided smart bombs, to limit civilian casualties. There has never been an official US response to the fact that the Saudis and Emiratis are deliberately pushing millions to the verge of starvation. They are using hunger as a political tool to get better leverage on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. This is really what is driving the humanitarian nightmare.

DB: We know that Trump was just in Saudi Arabia and signed a massive weapons contract. Will this weaponry contribute to the coming famine and cholera epidemic?

KG: Certainly. It is providing the Saudis a blank check for this devastating war in which direct casualties from airstrikes are conservatively estimated at around 10,000 and millions of people have been displaced. It sends the message that the United States is willing to support the Saudis despite massive human rights violations.

DB: There is no way the US or the Saudis can deny the tragedy. This has been thoroughly documented by US and international rights groups.

KG: But what they will often say is that a lot of the fault lies with the Houthi rebel groups. And it is certainly true that the Houthi rebels have committed massive human rights violations. But as far as the mass devastation of public infrastructure is concerned, which is leading to the humanitarian crisis, the majority of the blame can be assigned to the Saudi-led war and the US backing.

Repeatedly, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, responding to the scene of unlawful airstrikes against civilian targets, have found either unexploded US-made bombs or identifiable fragments of US bombs. This was the case with the bombing of the funeral procession last October. Still, the US government claims that it is trying to limit civilian casualties.

DB: It is interesting that the Republican-led House has voted to block US participation in the war in Yemen. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive.

KG: It is definitely surprising. Although I’ve been working around the clock on this recently, even I was surprised. What happened is that last week [week of July 9] the House of Representatives voted on the major military policy bill for fiscal year 2018. This is a major piece of national security legislation which authorizes funding for the Pentagon. It has to get passed every year and it provides an opportunity for members to vote on amendments that have to do with national security.

Two of these amendments were particularly consequential for Yemen. One was introduced by a Republican, Warren Davidson of Ohio, and the other by Rick Nolan, a Democrat from Minnesota. They added language that would require the Trump administration to stop providing refueling for Saudi and Emirati bombers, as well as to stop intelligence sharing and other forms of military support. It wouldn’t stop the weapons sales, which is another process, but it would stop military support for this indiscriminate war.

The Davidson amendment would prohibit US military action in Yemen that is not authorized by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. Given that US participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen is not targeting Al-Qaeda, it is not authorized by the 2001 AUMF and is prohibited by this amendment. The Nolan amendment prohibits the deployment of US troops for any participation in Yemen’s civil war.

This means that the House just voted to end US funding of our military for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. This is really unprecedented and it builds on the wave of congressional momentum that we saw last month when 47 senators voted against sending more of what we call “weapons of mass starvation” to Yemen. So we have clear signals from both the House and the Senate that there is no support for Trump’s blank check to Saudi Arabia for this devastating war.

DB: So now this goes to the Senate?

KG: Yes, and there we are going to face a more difficult fight. We’re preparing for that now. We definitely will see some important Yemen votes in the Senate. It could come up right after a health care vote in early August or it might not be voted on until the fall. But we will see votes on Yemen. It is unclear whether a Senate member will offer amendments similar to the Davidson or Nolan amendments.

Yemeni capital of Sanaa, Oct. 9, 2015 (Wikipedia)

After the Senate votes on the various amendments, they will both have versions of this and they will have to come back and conference a final version to send to the president. This is definitely a time to push our senators to follow suit with the House and oppose US involvement in this devastating war in Yemen.

DB: Finally, who are some of these Republican Congressional members who stood up in this effort to restrain this oncoming famine? Who were some of the surprise votes?

KG: Actually, this was added in a whole block of legislation so we can’t point to exactly who supported and who opposed it. It was good to see Warren Davidson taking a leadership role on this issue. He is relatively new in the Senate, having taken [Former House Speaker John] Boehner’s seat. It is noteworthy also that the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry from Texas, allowed this amendment to go forward. Just that the House Republican leadership allowed this to move forward is really interesting in itself.

DB: Yes, it is. It seems to me that the Democrats have really become out-of-control Cold Warriors, either lost in Russia-gate or dropping the ball on this very important foreign policy issue. We thank you, Kate Gould, Legislative Representative for Middle East Policy with the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

KG: And I just want to say that we can win on this one and we need everybody to get involved. You can go to our website, fcnl.org, to get more information. Again, 47 Senators voted last month to block these bomb sales and we only need 51 votes. And with Trump’s massive arms deal with Saudi Arabia, I’m sure we will have more votes on this. But it is really important to stay engaged and we need everybody to get involved and contact your members of Congress.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Silenced stones mark hard path to Sri Lankan reconciliation

Security forces have erected numerous monuments celebrating their 2009 victory over Tamil Tiger rebels. No such privilege has been accorded to the Tamil insurgents or civilians who died in the fight

A monument to Sri Lanka’s civil war victims. Photo: Duncan McCargo
By Duncan McCargo | Asia Times | July 26, 2017

An eerie art installation near an idyllic Sri Lankan beach symbolizes many of the contradictions of this post-war society, comprising a sculpture of a man carrying his brutalized daughter, an old suitcase full of clothes and a small ‘graveyard’ punctuated by tiny stones.

The core sculpture was inaugurated on May 18, 2016 – the seventh anniversary of the end of the decades–long civil war, which the Sri Lankan government celebrates as a day of victory over the Tamil insurgent

One year later, police obtained a court order preventing Father Elil Rajendram, the Tamil Jesuit priest behind the project (and an activist and co-spokesperson for the Tamil Civil Society Forum), from presiding over a ceremony to add some stones bearing the names of people who had died during the war.

The following day, after a legal challenge mounted by Kumaravadivel Guruparan, head of the law department at Jaffna University, the court decreed that the ceremony could only take place within the premises of the nearby church. The name-bearing stones have since remained out of public view, while Father Elil was questioned by the authorities on four separate occasions.

The police claimed that some of those memorialized might be members of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist group, better known as the Tamil Tigers, although Guruparan argued that commemorating the names of deceased LTTE members was not banned under any Sri Lankan law.

In the event, the police proved unable to confirm that any of the names were actually those of LTTE members: they were simply acting on suspicion.

Sri Lanka – War grave markers – Duncan McCargo – July 2017

A cemetery of stone markers inscribed with the names of victims of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Photo: Duncan McCargo

Mullivaaikaal, the beach in question, lies at the heart of ‘the cage’, a narrow isthmus where the remnants of the Tamil Tigers were slaughtered by the Sri Lankan army in the bloody culmination of a long-running civil war in May 2009. Tens of thousands of people were killed in what the government still refers to as a ‘humanitarian’ operation.

Sri Lankan security forces have erected numerous monuments to celebrate their victory and to recognize their war dead, but no such privilege has been accorded to those from the LTTE, nor to the Tamil civilians who perished during the fighting.

In refusing to allow ordinary families to honor or even to remember their dead, Sri Lankan authorities claim they are responding to pressure from hardline Buddhist groups who insist that brutal terrorists are not entitled to such decencies.

The outspoken Chief Minister of the Northern Province, former Supreme Court Justice Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Vigneswaran, has been the one of the loudest elected voices for the Tamil cause in recent years.

This writer asked why he couldn’t erect a memorial to the Tamil war dead right in front of his office (there is a handy patch of waste ground right next to the gate), but he answered rather melodramatically that if he pushed too hard on this issue, even he could be taken into custody: the government has made holding meetings about memorials hard enough, let alone building them.

I later had chance to ask a senior military commander why the memorialization issue was so sensitive. While acknowledging that during many years of fighting the army had developed ‘a bit of an arrogant mindset’, he insisted that negative sentiments of people and politicians in the South were now the main obstacle to any memorial to Tamil victims or LTTE fighters, rather than military obstructionism.

Nevertheless, he personally believed such memorials should be possible in the future. Meanwhile, he noted, progress had been made – until recently, even private memorial ceremonies were banned, not just public commemorations.

The 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka remains a subject of intense controversy. But since the more compromising and pragmatic President Maithripala Sirisena assumed power in early 2015 with the support of the country’s Tamil minority, reconciliation has figured prominently in public discourse.

The incoming government established the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), chaired by the redoubtable former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Numerous worthy unity and reconciliation projects have been initiated, focusing on areas such as youth exchanges, vocational training, agricultural livelihoods and the construction of new homes for those displaced during the conflict.

Yet in the Northern Province – an overwhelmingly Tamil region where much of the fighting took place – local people remain skeptical about development-oriented, top-down reconciliation projects that are largely conceived and implemented by the bureaucracy and security forces. Among recurrent local concerns are missing persons, military land occupation and memorialization.

Critical observers, such as human rights activist Ruki Fernando, argue that until these core issues are addressed, token projects will do little to assuage Tamil frustrations with the state. He argues that rather than exercising leadership, the Colombo government has become the captive of the military and Buddhist hardliners.

During the civil war, huge numbers of people were driven out of their homes in the North and East of the country. When they tried to return after 2009, many found their land occupied by the military. In the Jaffna peninsula alone, the military currently holds more than 10,000 acres of land, around half of it used for bases.

The military points to progress in releasing occupied land, but insists that for security reasons the process has to be incremental.

In recent months, there has been a mushrooming of protest encampments by villagers seeking the return of their property from security forces. These round-the-clock vigils illustrate a remarkable opening up of political space in Sri Lanka: they would have been unthinkable during the time of hardline former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Yet while they have attracted some attention from the media and Tamil political parties, and in a few cases have won concessions from the military, most of the protests are being quietly ignored. Similar vigils have been established in other locations to demand information about those who went missing during the war.

Since 1994, the government has received more than 65,000 complaints relating to missing persons: in the absence of death certificates, their surviving relatives face serious problems over access to bank accounts, inheritance and re-marriage.

A major government initiative is needed to resolve these issues, but so far efforts to address them have been piecemeal; the president only finally approved the establishment of a long–promised Office of Missing Persons on July 20.

Land, missing persons and monuments are important examples of reconciliation-related issues. All highlight the importance of granting agency and authority to victims in a post-war order like Sri Lanka’s. Similar challenges have dogged other post-conflict societies such as that of Northern Ireland: education and development projects can only go so far, if sensitive core concerns remain unaddressed.

While the international community is now pressing for large-scale transitional justice initiatives in Sri Lanka, neither a hybrid tribunal nor a truth commission will be easy to realize. In the meantime, displaying the names of some Tamil war victims near a Northern beach might be one small place to start.

Duncan McCargo is the author of Tearing Apart the Land (2008), a study of the Southern Thai conflict

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

ELN Seeks ‘Temporary and Renewable’ Ceasefire in Colombia

teleSUR | July 26, 2017

The chief negotiator of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia’s peace talks, Pablo Beltran, said on Tuesday that the objective of the third round of negotiations is to reach a “temporary and renewable” bilateral ceasefire, a process which he said takes time because it requires “very precise procedures.”

During an interview with TeleSUR on the Enclave Politica program, Beltran said that the ELN is committed to peace talks and the peace process, and that a consensus has emerged among its members that there “must be a bilateral ceasefire.”

The task of the third round of dialogue is “to make the agreement, design the protocols, sign them, and then apply them. This round must be about the bilateral ceasefire that we want to last beyond the visit of Pope Francis,” according to Beltran.

Beltran emphasized that the group’s motto has always been to “be with the people, and that there is a large sector of Colombian society that wants peace.” The ELN has been accused by some of those opposed to peace talks for allegedly only being interested in peace because their political project has “failed.”

The reason for being in the ELN, he said, is to always be with the people and acting where there is social change and struggle. Beltran said that at the heart of the peace talks is “that there is participation so that the people say how Colombian democracy should be… that is why there are sectors of the right that oppose peace.”

“Some sectors in the government want an expedited negotiation, but we want things to be done well so that it is durable,” he said regarding delays in the process.

“We have lost 26 months in the negotiations because of the government tactic to place the ELN negotiations behind those with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC),” he said. “There is a sector of the hard right that is going to oppose anything that signals peace.”

While dialogue progresses, the ELN still is active and present in several regions of Colombia, where the chief negotiater said they have programs and popular support. “The ELN is alive, it is acting,” he said.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

OAS Appoints Former ICC Prosecutor Ocampo to Look Into Venezuela ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Luis Moreno Ocampo (L) discusses human rights with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (R) at the CFR Symposium on International Law and Justice sponsored by the Pitt-Jolie Foundation.

Luis Moreno Ocampo (L) discusses human rights with NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof (R) at the CFR Symposium on International Law and Justice sponsored by the Pitt-Jolie Foundation*
teleSUR | July 25, 2017

Luis Almagro, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, has appointed former International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo as OAS special adviser on crimes against humanity.

Ocampo, who also served as a World Bank consultant, is a controversial figure who has been described as erratic and prone to grandstanding performances that undercut his own legal efforts.

According to a statement published by the OAS, Ocampo’s tasks will include analyzing, studying and discussing the situation in Venezuela with all interested parties and, consequently, making suggestions on possible courses of action by the OAS.

Almagro said the decision was made in light of an “escalation of human rights violations in Venezuela and the systematic attack on the civilian population includes murder, imprisonment and torture … it is evident in the eyes of the international community that we are witnessing crimes against humanity. ”

Caracas has repeatedly accused Almagro and the OAS of promoting intervention and destabilization in Venezuela, which ultimately led to the Bolivarian nation leaving the regional body on the grounds that its continued presence there posed a threat to the country’s sovereignty.

“The OAS can prevent impunity in Venezuela,” Ocampo said. “The secretary-general is creating a new space within the OAS, focusing on crime prevention and control, as well as gathering information that may be useful to the OAS in conducting an independent judicial investigation”

Luis Moreno Ocampo earned much of his recognition during his time as deputy prosecutor during the case of nine members of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. However, his time as ICC prosecutor is largely seen as a failure in which the global court lost a great deal of its credibility as some impartial body, largely thanks to Ocampo’s wild moves and desire to seek the media spotlight.

Ocampo drew criticism for his role in Colombia, where in 2008 he suggested that the ICC should begin investigating the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC for crimes against humanity. At the time, then-President Alvaro Uribe was busy pursuing a bloody counterinsurgency campaign against the group, utilizing paramilitary death squads and security forces whose operations led to the execution of 2,364 civilians, a figure that dwarfed the death toll resulting from FARC actions during Uribe’s reign.

In recent years, Ocampo also drew negative attention for his proceedings against sitting heads of state, a pattern that also began in 2008 when he sought a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Bashir amid the raging conflict in Darfur. Critics claim that the evidence cited by Ocampo was a spurious mix of fact and fiction, and such an intervention while the civil war raged would only stymie the possibility of an internationally-mediated peace process.

“My time in the ICC was a mixture of a fascinating time and a terrible time,” a former staffer for the Office of the Prosecutor said at the time, according to World Affairs Journal. “The prosecutor was erratic, so irrational sometimes that you felt despair. He uses his charisma in a negative way.

Since then, Ocampo has pursued the prosecution of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on charges of genocide while likewise charging deceased former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with crimes against humanity for alleged massacres committed against anti-government protests that became increasingly violent before culminating in an open “regime change” campaign spearheaded by the U.S. with European and Gulf Arab allies.

The court has largely been discredited among non-Group of 7 nations as a neocolonial tool of Western capitals seeking to control the Global south. Last October, Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang noted that the ICC is, “in fact, an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color.”

Most recently, the former ICC prosecutor advised the Israelis on how to evade criminal charges for their perpetual expansion of illegal settlements. Ocampo noted that the settler-colonial state could successfully defend itself by manipulating international legal perceptions through arguments that the ongoing settlement construction is legal “once ratified by the country’s top court,” the Israeli High Court, which Ocampo argued “is highly respected internationally.”

* Photo: YouTube-Council on Foreign Relations

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

The Guardian’s Propaganda on Venezuela

By Ricardo Vaz | Investig’Action | July 25, 2017

With the Constituent Assembly elections due to take place on July 30th, the Guardian published a piece titled “Venezuela elections: all you need to know”. But instead of breaking through the fog of falsehood and misinformation that is typical of the mainstream media’s coverage of Venezuela, the Guardian comes up with another propaganda piece laden with lies, distortions and omissions. In this article we go through the Guardian’s piece, clarifying the falsehoods, adding the conveniently omitted information and questioning the whole narrative that is presented.

*****

What is happening on 30 July?

To be fair to the Guardian, there is one almost-informative paragraph, where the electoral procedure is explained. In a previous article the Guardian stated that

“[…] election rules appear designed to guarantee a majority for the government even though it has minority popular support”,

instead of presenting said electoral rules and letting the reader decide if they are so designed. This time they do present the rules, only omitting to say that everyone not currently holding public office can run for a seat. But then the Guardian brings in the propaganda artillery to ensure the reader’s conclusions do not stray too far off from those of the State Department.

“[…] voter turnout will be exclusively pro-government – and likely very low, given that Maduro’s approval rating hovers around 20%” 1

One assumes the Guardian is citing Datanalisis, their favourite Venezuelan anti-government pollster. Putting aside the fact that other, more reliable polls, demonstrate larger levels of government support, and the massive turnout for last Sunday’s dry-run, there are two obvious questions here. If turnout will be so low, why is the opposition hell-bent on stopping the vote from taking place, barricading streets and killing candidates? And if the opposition has such an overwhelming majority, why did they decide not to participate? This might have been their chance to introduce a Platt Amendment into the Constitution.

“The current constitution was written by an assembly called in 1999 by Maduro’s predecessor and political father, Hugo Chávez. But Chavez made sure he had popular support for the rewrite, by calling a referendum first. This time around, Maduro ordered the constituent assembly by decree.”

Chávez needed to call a referendum because he was working within the legal framework of the 1961 Constitution which did not have anything about such a mechanism. In the 1999 Constitution, article 348 states who can convene a Constituent Assembly.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly urged opposition leaders to engage in dialogue and has backed the Constituent Assembly to guarantee peace.

“On 16 July, a symbolic plebiscite against Maduro’s initiative held by the opposition drew more than seven million people – more than those who voted for Maduro in the 2014 election.”

When it comes to the Venezuelan opposition, the Guardian checks all the journalism tools at the door. In a recent Investig’Action article we examined the opposition’s highly doubtful numbers, Venezuelanalysis did the same. At least the Guardian refrained from explicitly saying this vote could have recalled Maduro, something the opposition could not manage even with a lot of number-cooking (see footnote 2).

“Amid mounting pressure, Maduro vowed last month to hold a popular vote at the end of the process to approve or reject the new constitution.”

This was announced almost two months ago, and if it had been due to “mounting pressure” the mainstream media would have done a victory lap. Here another question springs up: why are the Venezuelan opposition and the Guardian so scared of this process? If they represent this huge majority, can they not just vote down the Constituent Assembly proposal?

Why did Maduro call this vote?

The final paragraph of this section contains the mandatory red-baiting and waving of the Cuban bogeyman.

“Venezuela has been rocked by nonstop street protests since the government’s attempt in late March to strip Congress of its right to legislate. Although the move was partially reversed, demonstrations have continued against an increasingly authoritarian government widely blamed for the country’s tanking economy and soaring crime rate.”

Again, there is very little journalism here to be found. It was not the government that overrode the National Assembly, but the Supreme Court. And they did it because the National Assembly is currently in contempt of court. Three legislators from Amazonas state are being investigated for electoral fraud, and despite repeated warnings from judicial authorities, the opposition went ahead and swore in these legislators. One can agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s initiative, but omitting this fact is pure dishonesty.

This is also a good point to notice how only the “authoritarian” government and the “beleaguered” president have earned adjectives. “Protests” are referred to five times without a single reference to their violent nature, and a few adjectives (“divided”, “US-backed”, “coup-plotting”) also come to mind when describing the opposition.

“[…] violence and state repression have escalated since, with more than 100 people killed and hundreds arrested.”

Sophisticated newspapers like the Guardian are careful not to state directly that everyone was killed by state repression, only heavily implying it. A breakdown of the cases shows that it is the opposition’s political violence that has been responsible for the large majority of casualties.

What does the opposition say?

“The coalition of opposition forces known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable (known by its Spanish initials, MUD) rejected the move from the start. But criticism extends far beyond the political opposition. According to one pollster, eight out of 10 Venezuelans oppose a new constitution and would prefer general elections.”

One would think this would be an opportune moment to remind readers of the opposition’s constant, repeated calls for a Constituent Assembly in the recent past. And according to a different pollster, 79% of Venezuelans agree that the process should take place, 54% think the process will defend social gains of recent years, and 65% agrees with holding elections in 2018.

Opposition leaders Freddy Guevara and Maria Corina Machado had called for a Constituent Assembly in the past. (Tweets by Misión Verdad)

What happens next?

“Pressure is set to rise after the MUD called a two-day national strike for Wednesday and Thursday, and then mass protests dubbed the “taking of Caracas” on Friday.”

To anyone familiar with the recent history of Venezuela these announcements sound eerily like the events leading up to the failed 2002 coup. In fact, this would be the time to mention that many of the opposition leaders, including Henrique Capriles, Julio Borges, Leopoldo López and Maria Corina Machado, were directly involved in the 2002 coup attempt. Why is there never a mention that the opposition leadership is full of protagonists from that US-backed military coup that ultimately failed? Quite simply because it would undermine the entire “democracy vs. dictatorship” propaganda narrative.

“Maduro has been very vague about the scope of the new constitution – prompting fears that this is simply a move to tighten the government’s hold on power rather than to solve the country’s many problems.”

This is again a distortion. Maduro proposed nine issues to be tackled by the ANC, including the economy, national sovereignty, social missions, communes, and more. Granted, there is some ambiguity on what a “post-oil economy” stands for, with radical sectors looking for a deepening of the Revolution and business leaders looking for more incentives to private investment. But is down to the individual candidates to bring forward their proposals during the campaign. If Maduro specifically said what changes he wanted made to the Constitution, would he not fit into the “authoritarian” label that the Guardian loves to use?

“Maduro threatened to jail two high profile opposition leaders for “treason to the motherland”…”

Once more, it would be useful to put the actions of the Venezuelan opposition in context. There is hardly any other place in the world where opposition leaders openly call for a US military invasion or urge foreign agents to create a financial blockade against their own country!

“According to human rights groups…”

Which rights groups? Why not link to the reports and disclose who funds these groups? Because groups like Human Rights Watch have been beyond partisan when it comes to Venezuela, not to mention the revolving door that puts former US officials as human rights “guardians”. UNICEF, for example, has criticised the use of children in the opposition’s violent protests and the opposition’s attack against a maternity hospital.

“The next presidential elections – which Maduro seems likely to lose – are currently scheduled to be held in 2018, but it is unclear whether this would remain the case under a new constitution.”

Maduro has said that, rain or shine, there will be a presidential election in 2018. And he said it after convening the Constituent Assembly. The omission of this statement is again plain dishonest journalism.

Chavistas march on May 1st. The Venezuelan opposition is fearful of a large turnout for the Constituent Assembly elections on July 30th.

What is the international community doing?

“The Organization of American States has tried repeatedly to chastise Venezuela diplomatically, but Caracas has used oil diplomacy to ensure that small Caribbean states reliant on subsidised oil voted against critical resolutions or abstained.”

It is amazing that countries that are part of PetroCaribe are bullied by oil diplomacy, and yet countries that receive billions in US (military) aid and host US military bases are moved by a genuine love for democracy and human rights. Does it not occur to a journalist that, for a small Caribbean country, if a US-dominated organisation such as the OAS is dictating to Venezuela which elections can take place and when, then soon enough the same will happen to them? By rejecting this interference they are actually asserting their own independence.

It is precisely because this kind of bullying that Venezuela left the OAS. On the other hand, regional organisations that have been formed in the last decade precisely to counter US hegemony, like ALBA or CELAC, have come out in support of Venezuela and its sovereignty. International meetings like the People’s Summit or the Foro de São Paulo have also rejected the imperialist aggression against Venezuela.

“Previous US sanctions have targeted Venezuelan officials accused of drug trafficking or involvement in human rights abuses.”

These accusations have always been very big in terms of publicity and very thin in terms of evidence. They are always based on dubious sources mentioning all-powerful, yet unheard-of, drug cartels, Hezbollah training camps in Latin America and the like.

In summary, the Guardian is passing a pure propaganda piece under the guise of clarifying the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections in Venezuela. Quite clearly the next few days will be crucial, as the opposition ramps up its violent regime change efforts and the US blares out its threats, while on the other side chavismo is mobilising for this important step and (true) solidarity movements are standing with the Venezuelan poor and working-class.

As for the Guardian, whenever they ask you to support “quality, independent journalism”, you should look for it someplace else…)

  1. Even if this number were true, that would still make Maduro more popular than the presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, staunch US allies in the region.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Moscow Calls Reports of Russia’s Alleged Arms Supplies to Taliban ‘Groundless’

Sputnik – 26.07.2017

MOSCOW – On Tuesday, CNN claimed that it had exclusive videos purporting to show that the Taliban had allegedly received weaponry in Afghanistan which appeared to have been supplied by Russia, however, presented no proof.

According to CNN, two separate Taliban groups say they got hold of weapons, which were allegedly supplied by the Russian government. One group said it took the weapons after defeating a rival group, while the other claims it got pistols for free that were smuggled through Tajik border. Experts say the weapons have no identification markings hence it is impossible to trace their origins.

“We have repeatedly stated that accusations of a series of Western and … Afghan media regarding Russia’s alleged support of the Taliban movement are groundless… We reiterate, Russia does not support the Taliban movement, and only maintains contacts with the Taliban to ensure the safety of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and to incentivise this group to join the process of national reconciliation,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry stressed that it is impossible to trace the country of origin of the weapons demonstrated in the video, as they were common and manufactured by many countries.

“It is hardly possible to seriously perceive the video materials, in which old, small arms of unknown and untraceable origin are demonstrated. [The weapons are] not stamped by the manufacturer, serial numbers are knocked down. In addition, the shown weapons are typical. As it is known, such samples were produced not only in Russia, but also in other countries, including [those in] Eastern Europe, from where the Americans imported them massively to Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Recently, the Taliban attacked the Afghan national security forces’ base in Helmand province using American Humvee armored vehicles. What conclusion can be made based on this information using the logic of the CNN?” the statement read.

The ministry strongly noted that neither Afghan authorities, nor US command or NATO in Afghanistan have provided evidence that would confirm these speculations.

Earlier, US and Afghan officials accused Russia of supporting the Taliban. Moscow denounced the claim, calling it utterly false. The Kremlin said that these accusations are made to cover up US failures in Afghanistan and noted that it maintains contact with the terrorist group only to promote peace talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow is only working with the Taliban in order to assist the implementation of a UN Security Council decision requested by the Afghan government that would allow the group to take a role in the political process. Lavrov also called accusations from the United States that it is supplying the Taliban with weapons baseless and unprofessional.

Earlier, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee said that there was no evidence Russia had transferred weapons or money to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Turkey Needs Russian S-400 System as Shield Against ‘Western Plan’ in Mideast

Sputnik – 26.07.2017

Russia and Turkey are currently at the final stage of negotiations on the delivery of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system to Ankara. According to Turkish security expert Abdullah Ağar, the deal indicates a major shift in Turkey’s policy.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that there is no reason for Washington to be concerned over the Ankara-Moscow talks on the delivery of the S-400 system.

“Why should this be a concern? Each country should take certain measures to ensure its security. How many times have we talked with America, but it did not work out, so like it or not, we began to make plans about the S-400,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Ankara.

The United States recently signaled that Turkey buying the S-400 from Russia would become a major concern for Washington.

“There was a media report that was incorrect. They have not bought the S-400 air defense system from Russia. That would be a concern, were they to do that, but they have not done that,” Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said Saturday at a security forum in Colorado.

Earlier, Pentagon chief James Mattis said that the possible deal raises questions about the technical and operational compatibility of the S-400 with NATO’s standards and Turkey would have to explain for itself the choice of the Russian-made weapon.

According to Turkish defense and security expert Abdullah Ağar, the reason behind the concerns of the US is more than the possible S-400 deal and relates to Turkey’s resoluteness to oppose plans that would “threaten Ankara’s territorial integrity.”

“The situation in the region has significantly changed. As for the last three years, Turkey has come to know the threats it faced as well as the actions of its Western partners in this situation. On the one hand, the West works with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliates in Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, the US and other Western countries support the Gülen movement [FETÖ, designed by Ankara as a terrorist organization] which poses a serious threat to Turkey,” Ağar told Sputnik Turkey.

According to the expert, since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the West has been implementing a “plan to re-draw the Middle East map,” which resulted in a growing terrorist threat near Turkey’s border, including the rise of Daesh.

“Such a policy may result in new foreign invasions in the region. Turkey needs a new approach to oppose this policy. The delivery of the S-400 is part of a big puzzle,” Ağar pointed out.

At the same time, the situation should not be reduced to arms contracts and should be taken in its connection to shifts in the global geopolitical balance of power.

“There is a trend that may result in a [global power shift] from the US and Europe towards Asia. The West knows it, but continues to support organizations that pose a threat for Turkey. At the same time, the West doesn’t want to lose Turkey. In such a situation, Turkey is looking for the solution to this puzzle,” the expert said.

Ağar also said that the West is losing Ankara’s credibility due to its policy of supporting groups that want to “tear Turkey apart.”

“Of course, Turkey will not stay bound hand and foot. Otherwise, the country will found itself in a big trouble in the future. There is no special reason for Ankara to give credibility to West’s promises,” the expert said.

Furthermore, Ağar underscored that Ankara was not allowed to deploy US-made Patriot missile defense systems and as a result Ankara decided to focus on cooperation with Russia.

“The S-400 [deal] is part of a bigger picture of [Russia-Turkey] bilateral cooperation in various fields, primarily energy and security. The supplies of the S-400 are a sign that Turkey is drifting away from the Western world,” the expert concluded.

The negotiations on the matter between Russia and Turkey have taken place since 2016. In March, Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Russia’s Rostec Corporation, said Ankara was ready to buy the S-400 systems with a loan granted by Moscow. On July 18, Chemezov said technical issues of the contract for the supply of the S-400 systems to Turkey had been resolved, with only administrative ones remaining.

The S-400 Triumph is a next-generation mobile surface-to-air missile system that can carry three different types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at a short-to-extremely-long range. It is designed to track and destroy various types of aerial targets, from reconnaissance aircraft to ballistic missiles.

As of today, Russia has a deal on supplying the system only with China. In addition to Turkey, talks are also underway with India.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment