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Israel shoots Palestinian minor in both legs and arm

MEMO | July 31, 2017

Israeli forces shot an unarmed Palestinian minor in both legs and in one arm last week, according to Haaretz.

Thirteen-year-old Mohammed Qaddumi was collecting firewood near the West Bank Separation Wall on Tuesday when Israeli occupying forces fired at him. Qaddumi was admitted to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba and underwent a long operation. His condition remains severe though his health has improved.

Qaddumi’s father said his son was one of four children walking by the barrier next to their home in the village of Jayus:

He was by the fence, the children were there, four children, and there were soldiers under the olive trees. They went up there by the fence, they could have grabbed him by the arm but they shot him three times.

His father emphasised that Qaddumi did not try to cross into Israel as the army claims, nor did the children throw stones at the soldiers who were hidden from their view.

Israel’s Civil Administration initially prevented Qaddumi’s family from accompanying their son to hospital in Israel, but relented after NGOs Mahsom Watch and Physicians for Human Rights intervened.

The army is said to have initiated legal proceedings against the wounded teenager, on suspicion of throwing stones.

Israeli forces have long been accused of implementing a “shoot to cripple” campaign against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. A report released by the Badil resource centre found that in the first six months of 2016, at least 30 of the 86 Palestinians that were shot in Bethlehem alone were shot in the legs or knees.

Israeli generals have also been known to encourage such tactics against Palestinian youth. Reports surfaced last year that Palestinians in numerous West Bank cities speak of Shin Bet officials known only as “Captain Nidal” and “Captain Imad” among others, who regularly threaten to disable young men if they fail to comply with Israeli soldiers.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia wades into Shi’ite politics in Iraq

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 1, 2017

The dramatic appearance of the Iraqi Shi’ite firebrand politician Muqtada Al-Sadr in Jeddah on Sunday and his meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opens an exciting page in the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalries. The theatre is shifting to Iraq.

Briefly, what is unfolding is a determined Saudi attempt to reset the power calculus in post-ISIS Iraq by moulding a new political alignment that principally aims at undermining the pre-eminent influence that Iran has enjoyed over its neighbour in the past decade or so following the Shi’ite empowerment in the downstream of the US invasion of 2003.

Iran’s main platform on the Iraqi political landscape has been the umbrella Shi’ite coalition known as the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI), which Tehran had created as far back as 1982, originally as a Shi’ite resistance movement against Saddam Hussein and most recently since the middle of the last decade following Saddam’s overthrow as a united front to contest the democratic elections in Iraq with an agenda to preserve the Shi’ite leadership of the government.

To cut a long story short, ISCI is unravelling due to latent rivalries between various constituent groups. (Shi’ite politics has been traditionally very fractious, including in Iran.) Now, the split is also on account of a strong undercurrent of resentment over Iran’s dominance over Iraqi politics. (For the benefit of the uninitiated, again, the potency of Iraqi nationalism – a legacy of the Saddam era, paradoxically – subsuming the ethnic and sectarian divides in the country should never be underestimated.)

Importantly, the new generation of the powerful Hakim family led by Ammar Al-Hakim has moved out of the ISCI and has shifted allegiance from Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei to Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. Equally, Muqtada al-Sadr who has stepped out of Iran’s orbit has assumed a nationalistic, non-sectarian platform in the recent years. Again, within the ruling Islamic Dawa Party, which is the main constituent of the ISCI, there is an internal power struggle between the incumbent PM Haidar Al-Abadi and the former PM Nouri al-Maliki. (Currently, Maliki is a favourite of Iran; interestingly, Al-Abadi recently visited Saudi Arabia during which an announcement was made that the two countries have formed a ‘coordination council’ to bolster strategic relations aimed at healing troubled ties with ‘other Arab states’.)

Enter Saudi Arabia. Quite obviously, Saudis see a window of opportunity to go for Iran’s jugular veins by breaking up the ISCI irretrievably and instead propping up a new composite non-sectarian coalition involving the Shi’ite factions who resent Iran’s hegemony. No doubt, it is an audacious attempt to bring together – you’ve guessed it – Muqtada al-Sadr, Ammar Al-Hakim and Al-Abadi – on the same page.

The Crown Prince MBS is the mastermind behind this audacious Saudi move to manipulate the Shi’ite politics in Iraq. Arguably, the Saudi game plan has some positive streaks in it insofar as it envisages a non-sectarian realignment in Iraqi politics by encouraging a regrouping of the Shi’ite factions that give primacy to Iraqi nationalism over the identity politics they pursued up until recently. In turn, MBS would probably persuade these Shi’ite factions to work with the Iraqi Sunni factions and the Kurds. (By the way, Saudis recently opened a consulate in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.)

Cynics would say that Saudis are having a devious agenda to: a) break up Shi’ite unity in Iraq; b) empower the Sunni groups as a ruling elite; and, c) create a schism between ‘Arab Shias’ and ‘Persian Shias’. The jury is out. Time only will tell how these shenanigans play out. To be sure, MBS’s initiative to manipulate Iraqi politics must be enjoying the support of the US and Israel, since it ultimately aims at isolating Iran and mitigates to an extent Iran’s spectacular ‘victory’ in the Syrian conflict.

Will Iran throw in the towel and walk away? Certainly not. Iran’s trump card is the battle-hardened Shi’ite militia known as the Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, which is estimated to number over 120000 and is a Hezbollah-like army that is disciplined, fired up ideologically, and weaned in the politics of ‘resistance’. By the way, Qassem Soleimani, the charismatic commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted as saying last week: “Daesh (ISIS) was stopped by the entry of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi into the Iraqi army. The Iraqi army was transformed into a Hezbollah army.”

Now, that is a statement of fact. And, the ground reality is that today, in the chaotic war conditions in Iraq, power ultimately flows through the barrel of the gun. Stalin would have asked MBS as to how many divisions Al-Haikm, Al-Sadr and Al-Abadi together have under their command? Will the number come to even one half of the strength of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, the Iraqi Hezbollah, which Iran trained and equipped? Unlikely. Could they have taken on the ISIS and defeated it? No way.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Murdering 1 Million Iraqis is Democracy, Iran Giving Yogurt to Iraq is “Domination”

By Ali Salaam | American Herald Tribune | July 31, 2017

The New York Times, owned by the Zionist Jewish supremacist Ochs-Sulzberger family, has no problem with Iraqi suffering as long as Iran is not the one behind it.

The Iraq War was a genocide of the Iraqi people by Zionist supremacists in the Bush administration. Over 1 million innocent people were killed based on a lie. American soldiers died in an Israeli war and now an average of 22 soldiers commit suicide every day because their consciences cannot cope with the fact they committed crimes in an illegal war that served no purpose other than to benefit Israel, not America.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the Zionist regime, once said “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.”

Paul Wolfowitz had his sights on Iraq since his time in the first Bush administration. Former Israeli official and Bush administration official Richard Perle had his eyes on Iraq since at least his authorship of the Clean Break white paper. The Zionist regime had their eyes on Iraq since the 1980s when strategist Oded Yinon wrote his white paper in support of dividing the Arab-Muslim world along ethnic and sectarian lines. The global Zionist lobby has had their eyes on Iraq since Theodor Herzl stated that Eretz Israel’s true borders go from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in Iraq.

Depleted uranium chemical weapons used by America have been causing massive birth defects. Corporate colonialism of Iraq has decimated its once vibrant agriculture industry. The vacuum of power left by the ousting of Saddam Hussein enabled al-Qaeda in Iraq to form into ISI. ISI would later merge with the various factions of the Free Syrian Army and the Al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria), both backed by the U.S./Israel/Saudi Arabia/Qatar/Turkey, to become ISIS. The U.S. airdropped weapons to ISIS, which was no accident. These weapons were anti-aircraft missiles. Does ISIS have aircraft? No, but the Iraqi Army does.

With occupation comes resistance. If a robber breaks into your home, you have a right to shoot that robber. The U.S. broke into Iraq’s home quite violently, and thus it is a universally accepted right and natural cause-effect consequence for the homeowners to shoot back. If you are an American soldier reading this, don’t get mad at me or Iraqis. Instead, get mad at the traitors in the U.S. government, the dual-citizen Israeli-Americans in the Bush administration who sent you to this fruitless genocidal war of aggression to have you fight on behalf of Israel, not America. The Iranian-backed Iraqis that resisted America’s invasion into their homeland were deemed “terrorists,” all the while the U.S. helped to create ethnic and sectarian division in Iraq.

So, who do the intrepid reporters at the New York Times vilify for the destruction of Iraq? Iran.

That’s right. Iran. The New York Times wrote a shameful propaganda piece on behalf of the Zionist regime and the U.S. war machine on post-Mosul Iraq.

Who didn’t kill a million innocent people in a war of aggression based on a lie, who only helped local Iraqis exercise their human right of resistance and self-defense, is somehow the one who is “dominating” Iraq. Not the war criminal puppet presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, along with the Zionist deep state that controls them.

Americas forces are the ones who have been committing war crimes in Iraq in the fight against ISIS. The CIA & Mossad created ISIS after all through its funding of rebels in Syria, who would merge with Iraq’s ISI. So of course they would kill mostly civilians instead of their intended target, whereas the Popular Mobilization Units, Kataib Hezbollah, and other grassroots Iraqi militias, made up of Muslims (Sunni & Shi’a) and Christians alike, sent ISIS to hell where they belong with very little civilian casualties. It can’t be said that they have a 100% spotless record, it is war after all and human beings are prone to mistakes, but the PMU and Iraqi Hezbollah are extremely popular among the Iraqi people of all religious sects and ethnic makeups, whereas polls have been conducted showing how many Iraqis believe America and Israel created ISIS.

Amnesty International served officially as a front for the Israeli foreign ministry in the 1970s, and the way their “humanitarian” propaganda has benefited the expansionist agenda of the Zionist entity shows that they still serve the cause of world Zionism on an unofficial basis, fooling the world by tugging at their heart strings with crocodile tears about human rights. Similarly, Human Rights Watch is funded by Zionist Jewish supremacist billionaire George Soros. They have it in for the Axis of Resistance, which is non-sectarian, albeit mostly Shi’a led. They issue dubious reports about the conduct of Hezbollah, Iran, and various grassroots Iraqi resistance groups to slander them, but not only did Sunnis fight alongside Shi’as and Christians among the Iranian-backed resistance groups, but they welcomed the defeat of ISIS and thanked the PMU for standing for an independent, united Iraq, free of terrorism and imperialism.

Iran has the right to export its revolutionary ideals to Iraq to help free it of U.S. occupation and the scourge of Wahabbi terrorism financed by Gulf monarchies, Israel, the U.S., and Europe.

That is not dominance, that is liberation.

They don’t intend to impose an Islamic government based on the Shi’a school of thought, that works in Iran because the majority population are Shi’a Muslims and they respect the religious minorities. What they do intend is to spread an ideology of independence, self-determination, dignity, resistance, and the end to American-Israeli-Saudi hegemony in the region.

Additionally, Iran not only has supported the resistance in Iraq, they have also supported Iraq economically. Is exporting yogurt to Iraqis who live in the pit of abject poverty “dominance”? I’ve been to Iraq during the Arbaeen processions in 2015. I had so many little kids beg from me for charity. I gave as much as I could. While America and Israel sadistically intend to destroy Iraq, it is not a crime for Iran to help people who are suffering so badly from economic destruction. The New York Times admits in the first sentence of their shameful Zionist propaganda piece: “Walk into almost any market in Iraq and the shelves are filled with goods from Iran — milk, yogurt, chicken.”

The New York Times doesn’t seem to have a problem with American war crimes and do not view that as dominance. But threaten the genocidal Zionist entity’s power structure, and the NYT will view that as “dominance.”

These are not journalists. If and when the Zionist regime and the traitors within the American government are held accountable for war crimes in Iraq, and crimes against humanity around the world for that matter, these presstitutes who call themselves “journalists” should also stand trial for their complicity in promoting and whitewashing the murdering of innocent babies, women, children, non-combatant men, and resistance fighters acting within their legal and moral right to defend their homeland.

 

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

New generation nuclear power project scrapped in SC amid soaring costs

RT | July 31, 2017

Two South Carolina utilities have abandoned a pair of next generation nuclear reactors that would have been America’s first new atomic reactors in almost 40 years. The facilities were expected to be safer and cheaper.

SCANA Corp and state-owned utility Santee Cooper, the two utilities which own the VC Summer twin-reactor project, announced Monday that they were scrapping the multi-billion dollar project due to construction problems and cost overruns.

“We arrived at this very difficult but necessary decision following months of evaluating the project from all perspectives to determine the most prudent path forward,” said the head of SCANA Corp, Kevin Marsh.

The designer and primary contractor of the new generation reactors, Westinghouse Electric Co., was expected to deliver last year, but the project is now less than 40 percent complete. In addition, costs have soared 75 percent and the reactors would not begin to produce power until 2023, Reuters reported.

In March, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. However, the company was mentioned in a June White House fact sheet which stated: “The United States and India are committed to realizing commercial civil nuclear cooperation, in particular through a contract for six Westinghouse Electric AP-1000 nuclear reactors to be built in Andhra Pradesh, India.”

Nine billion dollars has been spent on the now-abandoned South Carolina project and the state’s utility customers have already been billed for some of the reactors’ early costs. They could also be forced to pay for the rest of the failed project, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

The US has not built new nuclear reactors since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania which saw a partial meltdown of a reactor, Reuters reported.

The new generation reactors were expected to be safer and less costly. With the project now scrapped, the future of large-scale nuclear power plant construction in the US is uncertain.

Many nuclear power plants across the country have struggled financially in the past few years amid falling oil and gas prices, making nuclear energy less competitive.

A number of states, including New York and Illinois, threw lifelines to their nuclear power plants in the form of subsidies, referred to as zero-emission credits. Nuclear energy is recognized as having a very low carbon-emission footprint.

A bill in Ohio would provide the zero-emission credit to its nuclear power plants that have described their financial situation as “urgent.”

Opponents of the subsidy, many of whom are the industry’s competitors, claim these schemes illegally interfere with power markets.

On June 29, President Donald Trump announced that nuclear energy should be “revived” and become part of America’s “global energy dominance.”

“A complete review of US nuclear energy policy will help us find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource,” Trump said.

Earlier, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry claimed the field was “strangled all too often because of government regulations.” However, Perry did not specifically say how the government was going to help nuclear energy producers.

A recent study by researchers from Princeton University and the Union of Concerned Scientists cautioned the US against underestimating the risks to nuclear safety, saying a single nuclear fuel fire could lead to fallout “much greater than Fukushima,” referring to the Japanese nuclear disaster caused by the massive tsunami in 2011.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

US Air Force won’t reimburse Colorado county for water pollution

RT | July 31, 2017

Colorado communities whose drinking water supply was contaminated by chemicals used at the Peterson Air Force Base are frustrated as the military is refusing to reimburse their cleanup costs and promising aid only after years of environmental studies.

Firefighting foam containing perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) has seeped into the Widefield Aquifer over the decades, making well water in southern El Paso County unsafe to drink, according to a recent US Air Force study.

The chemicals were detected at 88,000 parts per trillion near the fire training area at Peterson AFB, which is 1,257 times higher than the advisory level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

So far, the water districts of Security, Widefield and the city of Fountain have spent $6 million dealing with the contamination, and the costs are expected to rise to $12.7 million by the end of 2018, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“We really need financial help,” said Roy Heald, manager of the Security Water and Sanitation Districts. “We need to get going on those things before the 2020s.”

However, the USAF said it does not have the authority to reimburse communities for costs of dealing with environmental contamination.

“We don’t back pay – we cannot reimburse,” said Cornell Long, a chemist with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, according to AP.

The inspection report released last week cost $400,000 and local officials said it was limited in scope. The Air Force is funding another study this fall to better understand how the groundwater moves under the base, and plans another study in the spring of 2019 to explore options for fixing the contamination. Funding for those studies is yet to be approved by Congress.

While “interim measures” might come sooner, the Air Force does not expect to implement remediation plans until the 2020s, the Civil Engineer Center leaders said last week.

Most of the $4.3 million the Air Force has pledged in aid has not been delivered, according to the Gazette. Of that amount, only $1.7 million will go to pay the utility costs, while much of the rest will be spent on bottled water and filters.

Meanwhile, local residents are facing higher prices for drinking water. Fountain is planning to raise water rates by 5.3 percent. Widefield is planning to build a water treatment plant for the affected wells, at a cost of up to $12 million. Security is currently paying $1 million a year to Colorado Springs Utilities for clean water, and is considering a rate increase and a treatment plan.

By the time the Air Force finishes its studies, the local districts will have borne most of the costs, said El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller, a former Air Force officer.

“That’s not an excuse, I think, that should be used in order to end up not paying for these things,” he told the Gazette.

State Senator Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) says El Paso County has a “large reservoir of patience,” and is very supportive of the military, but that the Air Force risks that well running dry if the bills keep stacking up.

“That needs to be compensated,” he said. “And the military needs to go ahead and step up and not study and study and study.”

Communities around the Pease AFB in New Hampshire and Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan – both closed years ago – are also dealing with PFC pollution. Residents of Oscoda, Michigan who rely on private water wells were told to seek an alternative water supply, while a “do not eat” advisory is in effect for fish caught near the base.

Earlier this year, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) acknowledged “a national-scale problem” related to PFCs, but “we don’t have the authority and we don’t have the resources” to do much about it, director Pat Breysse said.

Read more:

Air Force says it can’t fund health study after poisoning water around its base

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Militarism | | 1 Comment

Militarization of Scandinavian Peninsula: Time to Ring Alarm Bells

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 31.07.2017

Much has been said about NATO reinforcements in the Baltic States and Poland perceived in Moscow as provocative actions undermining security in Europe, while very little has been said about gradual but steady militarization of Scandinavia. The theme does not hit headlines and it is not in focus of public discourse but one step is taken after another to turn the region into a springboard for staging offensive actions against Russia.

Ørland in southern Norway is being expanded to become Norway’s main air force base hosting US-made F-35 Lightnings – the stealth aircraft to become the backbone of Norwegian air power. Norway has purchased 56 of such aircraft. F-35 is an offensive, not defensive, weapon. The nuclear capable platforms can strike deep into Russia’s territory.

Providing training to Norwegian pilots operating the planes carrying nuclear weapons, such as B61-12 glider warheads, constitutes a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968. Article I of the NPT prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons from NWS (nuclear weapons states) to other states: «Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices». Article II requires NNWS (non-nuclear weapons states) not to receive nuclear weapons: «Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transfer or whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices». How can Russia be sure that these aircraft don’t carry nuclear weapons when there is no agreement of any kind in place to verify compliance with the NPT?

Ørland is located near Værnes – the base that hosts 330 US Marines. In May, the base hosted the biennial NATO military exercise «Arctic Challenge Exercise 2017» to involve over 100 planes from 12 nations. It was the first time a US strategic bomber (B-52H) took part in the training event.

The choice of the base was carefully calculated to keep the planes away from the reach of Russian Iskander missiles (500 kilometres) but no location in Norway is beyond the operational range of Kalibr ship-based sea-to-shore missiles and aircraft armed with long-range air-to-surface missiles.

In June, Norway’s government announced that the decision was taken to extend the rotational US Marine Corps force stationed at Værnes through 2018. The move contradicts the tried-and-true Norwegian policy of not deploying foreign military bases in the country in times of peace.

Also in June, the United States, United Kingdom and Norway agreed in principle to create a trilateral coalition built around the P-8 maritime aircraft to include joint operations in the North Atlantic near the Russian Northern Fleet bases.

Norway is to contribute into NATO ballistic missile defense (BMD) system by integrating its Globus II/III radar in the Vardøya Island located near the Russian border just a few kilometers from the home base of strategic submarines and 5 Aegis-equipped Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates. The radar construction is underway. The Vardøya radar can distinguish real warheads from dummies. Another radar located in Svalbard (the Arctic) can also be used by US military for missile defense purposes.

The country’s ground forces are stationed in Lithuania as part of a NATO multinational force under German command.

Sweden, a close NATO ally, has been upgrading its military with a sharp hike in spending. Last December, the Swedish government told municipal authorities to prepare civil defense infrastructure and procedures for a possible war. The move was prompted by the country’s return to the Cold War-era ‘Total Defense Strategy’. In September, 2016, 150 troops were put on permanent service on the island of Gotland to «defend it from Russia». Sweden maintained a permanent military garrison on Gotland for hundreds of years until 2005.The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has ordered a review of 350 civilian bunkers on the island. The shelters are designed to protect people against the shock wave and radiation from a nuclear detonation, as well as chemical and biological weapons.

In March, Stockholm announced plans to reintroduce compulsory military service abandoned in 2010. The conscription will come into force on January 1, 2018.

Sweden said in June it wishes to join a British-led «Joint Expeditionary Force», making Swedish participation in a general European war all but inevitable.

This month, the Swedish military announced plans to conduct its largest joint military exercise with NATO in 20 years. Called Aurora 17, the training event is scheduled for September. The drills will take place across the entire country but focusing on the Mälardalen Valley, the areas around cities of Stockholm and Gothenberg and on the strategic island of Gotland. More than 19,000 Swedish troops will take part along with 1,435 soldiers from the US, 270 from Finland, 120 from France and between 40-60 each from Denmark, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia.

In June, Russian President Putin warned «If Sweden joins NATO this will affect our relations in a negative way because we will consider that the infrastructure of the military bloc now approaches us from the Swedish side».

In June, 2016, Finland took part in NATO BALTOPS naval exercise. It was the first time NATO forces trained on Finnish territory (The coastal area at Syndale). Back then, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Finnish counterpart, Timo Soini, that the Kremlin would take unspecified measures to respond to increased NATO activity in the Baltic region. According to Lavrov, «We do not hide our negative attitude to the movement of NATO’s military infrastructure towards our borders, to dragging new states into the military activity of the bloc».

All these facts and events summed together demonstrate that militarization of Scandinavia is progressing by leaps and bounds to undermine the security in Europe. No hue and cry is raised in the Russian media but the developments are closely watched by Moscow. Visiting Finland on July 27, President Putin said Russia was «keeping an eye on certain intensification in the movement of military aircraft, ships and troops. In order for us to avoid negative consequences, situations that no one wants, we need to maintain dialogue». He also stressed readiness for dialogue with neutral countries that border the Baltic Sea like Finland which is not part of the NATO military alliance.

The facts listed above show the situation is grave enough to top the agenda of the NATO-Russia Council. But it’s not the case as yet. Last year, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current President of Germany who was Foreign Minister at the time, slammed NATO for «saber-rattling and war cries» and provocative military activities in the proximity of Russia’s borders. He called for an arms control deal between the West and Russia. Fifteen other members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) joined Steinmeier’s initiative: France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

Actually, the initiative to relaunch the negotiation process does not belong to Germany. Russia’s proposal to discuss a new European security treaty was rejected by the West. The draft document was published in 2009. In March 2015, Russia expressed its readiness for negotiations concerning a new agreement regarding the control of conventional weapons in Europe.

Moscow has never rejected the idea of launching talks to address the problem. It does not reject it now. The NATO-Russia Council could make a contribution into launching discussions on the matter. It has not done so as yet. Actually, nothing is done to ease the tensions in Europe and the Scandinavian Peninsula in particular. Meanwhile, the situation is aggravating misunderstandings and whipping up tensions.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t be Fooled, the CIA was Only Half the Problem in Syria

By Steven MacMillan – New Eastern Outlook – 31.07.2017

The news that President Trump has halted the CIA program to arm and train rebel groups in Syria should be viewed with caution, as the CIA program only represented half of US involvement in Syria.  Even if we take this information as completely accurate, and the CIA will cease to be involved in any covert programs in Syria, there is still a giant arm of US imperialism that is going to be heavily involved in the Syrian conflict for the foreseeable future; namely, the Pentagon.

The notion that the CIA was the only branch of the US establishment involved in the destabilization of Syria is nonsense. The US has always had two operations running simultaneously in Syria, with one being run by the CIA, and other being ran by the Pentagon. As Reuters reported in an article in May of this year, titled: Syrian rebels say U.S., allies sending more arms to fend off Iran threat, military aid has been provided through “two separate channels:”

“Rebels said military aid has been boosted through two separate channels: a program backed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), known as the MOC, and regional states including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and one run by the Pentagon.”

These two programs have often clashed, as was the case last year, when militias armed by the CIA fought against militias armed by the Pentagon.

The Pentagon has been as involved in the disastrous operation to arm and train rebels in Syria as the CIA has, and has contributed heavily to the mess on the ground.

In September 2015 for instance, it was reported that a Pentagon-armed group of rebels – named Division 30 – handed over their weapons to al-Qaeda in Syria, a scenario that was a common outcome from many CIA operations as well. The Pentagon, never shy to blow an obscene amount of taxpayers’ money on imperial matters, has already wasted hundreds of millions of dollars training and arming rebels in Syria, yet Trump only wants to increase the US war budget. 

Trump: The Man of the Military 

Trump’s decision to halt the CIA program was hardly surprising, considering the support Trump has received from large sections of the military. A look at the backgrounds of the individuals that Trump has given cabinet positions reveals Trump’s close relationship with the military.

The Secretary of Homeland Security for instance, John Kelly, is a retired Marine Corps General and former Commander of US Southern Command. Trump’s pick for the Director of the CIA is even more telling, as Mike Pompeo has his roots in the military, graduating from West Point in the 1980s:

“Mr. Pompeo graduated first in his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1986 and served as a cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also served with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the US Army’s Fourth Infantry Division.”

Undoubtedly, there are many good forces in the US military (as in any other large organization), and there is nothing wrong with having a military background. But equally, there are also many nefarious forces in the military, and the influence of military-industrial complex is pervasive, constantly agitating for more imperial wars.

With this context in mind, it is hardly surprising that Trump favours the Pentagon program over the CIA one, especially considering the power struggle taking place between the CIA and the military within the US. It should be highlighted that Trump has notcompletely halted all US programs to arm and train militias in Syria, he has merely shutdown one channel.

Pentagon Using Kurds to Balkanize Syria 

The Pentagon has been heavily involved in arming Kurdish forces in Syria, using them as a tool to attempt to Balkanize and fracture Syria into micro-states. In May of this year, President Trump approved a plan – supported by many in the Pentagon – to arm the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), a Kurdish militia operating predominantly in northern Syria.

The YPG is also the controlling militia in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes an array of other militias. In addition to providing arms to the YPG, US special forces have been pictured on the ground in northern Syria working in conjunction with YPG fighters.

When most of the public was distracted by the story of Trump halting the CIA program, footage surfaced showing US armed military vehicles passing through Qamishli – a city in northern Syria on the Turkish border – reportedly on route to Raqqa. The recipients of the vehicles are believed to be either the SDF or US forces directly, who are involved in the battle against ISIS in Raqqa.

If (or when) ISIS is defeated in Raqqa, it will be very interesting to see who ends up controlling the city. It is possible that the Pentagon wants to defeat ISIS in Raqqa, and then hand Raqqa to the Kurds – a scenario that many Kurds would only be too happy with. In March of this year, Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the political affiliate of the YPG – said that once ISIS is defeated in Raqqa, the city should be incorporated into a Kurdish state in northern Syria. 

The Pentagon’s support for Kurdish forces is clearly part of a strategy to break the northern part of the country away from control of the Syrian government in Damascus. A subservient Kurdish state in northern Syria (which would probably join with Kurdish zones in Iraq and other countries in the future) would allow the US to have a permanent military presence in Syria, and easy access to the natural resources in the Kurdish region.

The creation of a Kurdish state in northern Syria would of course cause a severe breakdown in relations with NATO member Turkey, given the views of the current Turkish leadership that is. Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group Ankara views as a terrorist organization. Turkey has repeatedly denounced US support for Kurdish groups in Syria, with this being a major source of disagreement between the US and Turkey. It is no coincidence that Turkish state media recently published a list of classified US military bases and outposts in northern Syria, with this information revealing the extent to which the US military is embedded in Kurdish-controlled regions in Syria.

The plan to Balkanize Syria is well on its way, and the Pentagon is leading the charge. How Russia positions herself in the coming months will be crucial for the future of Syria.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sabotaging Russia-US Relations for Good

By Federico PIERACCINI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 31.07.2017

The strategy that the American deep state intends to employ to sabotage once and for all the possibilities of a rapprochement between the United States and Russia has been revealed.

After months of debate over the bad state of relations between the United States and Russia, the G20 offered the stage for the two leaders to meet and start discussing the various problems facing the two countries. In the days following the summit in Hamburg, the Kremlin and the White House revealed that Putin and Trump met three times in bilateral talks to discuss how to improve relations between the two nations. The ceasefire reached in southern Syria is therefore intended as the first step in a new direction set for Washington and Moscow.

As was easy to foresee, the deep state did not like this prospect of cooperation, immediately unleashing the mainstream media on Trump, because repeated meetings with Putin at the G20 were apparently suggestive of some sort of collusion, as if the leaders of two nuclear powers cannot even speak with each other. Obviously uncomfortable with these meetings, the sabotaging of relations between Russia and the US has taken a new turn. The previous ceasefire in Syria, reached by Kerry and Lavrov during the previous administration a year ago, was sabotaged by the US Air Force’s bombing of Syrian troops at Deir ez-Zor, which killed and injured more than a hundred Syrian soldiers. This served to favor Daesh’s assault on government positions, hinting at some sort of cooperation between Washington and the terrorists. Moscow immediately interrupted any military-to-military communication with Washington, which included the ceasefire reached between Lavrov and Kerry.

This time the strategy seems more refined and certainly does not lend itself to military action. Following the incident in Deir ez-Zor, the bombing of the Syrian base, and the downing of the Syrian Su-22, any further US military provocation would be met with a harsh response from the Russian side, risking an escalation that even the US military does not seem willing to to risk. For this reason, it seems that an approach that relies more on legislative means than military power has been chosen.

The Senate has overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions, the primary purpose of which is to deny the US President the ability to end sanctions on Russia without Moscow first demonstrating good will to resolve points of friction between the two countries. The areas of disagreement include the situation in Ukraine and Syria, nuclear weapons, an end to the alleged hacking of US elections, and the supposed intention of Moscow to invade the Baltic states. Obfuscation, lies and misinformation seem to be the driving force behind the Senate vote. The bill will end up on Trump’s desk, and at that point he will have to decide whether to sign it or not. If he signs it, it will obvioulsy limit his autonomy.

With Trump’s latest move, it is difficult to know whether he directly ordered the CIA to stop funding jihadists fighting Assad in Syria, or whether it was an independent choice of the CIA connected with other plans of which we are not aware. In any case, it seems to have particularly agitated the deep state, which now sees its destabilization plans for Syria hampered, with Moscow left in full control of the Syrian state and its fate.

The role of the deep state, in addition to enriching its components through the military-industrial complex, is based on the continued need for the United States to have enemies (read my complete series in parts 123 and 4), which requires major investments in armaments and intelligence agencies, two of the fundamental components of the deep state.

The 4+1 theory, in military terms, refers to the four major challenges facing the United States, plus a fifth, namely: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, plus terrorism. Having four powerful enemies – regional if not global powers – such as China and Russia, creates the necessary conditions for the United States to continue to justify its presence in volatile regions like the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. In all these areas, US attention is directed at one of these four challenges. The fifth danger, terrorism, acts as a corrosive that slowly erodes individual freedoms within the United States and its allies, justifying their continued presence in historically hostile territories like the Middle East under the guise of fighting terrorism, when in actual fact advancing their own geopolitical objectives. The bottom line remains the need for Washington to expand its own war machine over the whole planet, hoping to be able to influence every single issue with political, economic and military power or pressure. The end game is to prolong as long as possible the agony of a unipolar, American-dominated world order that is rapidly fading in the place of a fairer and more just multipolar world order.

American allies push for sabotage

With this latest Senate proposal, the deep state wants to eliminate the danger that Trump can exercise his own initiative to remove sanctions against Moscow and pursue the path of peace with Russia. A reconciliation with Moscow is viewed with particular suspicion by two main allies of the US in the region, that is to say, Israel and Saudi Arabia. There are no two other capitals that have more influential lobbies in Washington then Riyad and Tel Aviv. It is not surprising, then, that the American deep state, made up of many who are sympathetic to the Saudis and Israelis, views positively the sabotage of relations between Washington and Moscow. It is very likely that the Israeli and Saudi lobbies have spent considerable sums of money to push senators and congressmen to support this proposal.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have invested enormous amounts of money and political weight to the overthrow Assad, and the direction that the war in Syria is taking is likely to turn violently against them. Israel finds a Syrian state strengthened by alliances with Hezbollah, Russia, Iran, Lebanon and Iraq likely to render the Israeli hopes of controlled chaos in the region vain. Saudi Arabia, like Israel, is afraid of seeing the rebuilding of the Shiite axis extending from Iran to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria. It is a nightmare for those who hoped to oust Assad, control Iraq and ultimately subdue under their own power all of the Middle East region. With Moscow’s intervention almost two years ago, Syria’s Assad resumed a triumphant march against Daesh and jihadist terrorism, cleaning up much of the nation and reversing the negative trend that threatened to break down the Baathist republic.

A rapprochement between Moscow and Washington is seen as a danger by Tel Aviv and Riyadh, which is why hostile relations between Russia and the US has become a rallying point for an alliance between liberals and neoconservatives in the United States, along with takfiris in Saudi Arabia and Zionists in Israel.

Conclusions

This axis opposed to any kind of rapprochement between Moscow and Washington has found many sponsors in the European political system; that is until the consequences of these new sanctions were made clear. Trump reiterated that the US objective is to sell LNG to European partners by becoming an energy-exporting nation. One of the direct effects of sanctions on Russia is the prevention of Europeans from collaborating with Russian energy companies, thereby sabotaging the plan for the North Stream 2 link and probably even the Turkish Stream integrating into the European pipeline network. Political reactions in Europe have not been missed, and understandably irritation has reached boiling point (including Moscow’s). It would also seem that schizophrenia seems to be a distinctive feature of the politicians of the old continent. The Baltic states fear a non-existent threat of a Russian invasion, while Germany and Austria complain of American interference in their strategic energy plans, considering it unacceptable.

A divided and inconsistent West drowns in its own discordant decisions. Trump, stupidly, initially tried to placate the deep state by offering Flynn’s head to the highest bidder. This only served to worsen the situation, bringing Trump to admit an unwavering attempt to hack US elections on the Russian side. To complete this disaster, missiles were launched against the Shayrat Airbase in Syria on the basis of fictitious evidence of a chemical attack on Syrian civilians by the Syrian Arab Air Force.

All of these choices have worsened the initial situation of the presidency, which now finds no more cartridges to fire in order to withstand the pressure of its senators to approve new sanctions. Trump decided to bend the knee and obey in hope of obtaining some kind of concessions from the deep state. This did not work, and now Trump is struggling for political survival.

It seems clear now that the Republican senators are in some way blackmailing Trump: so long as he does not fully give up on Russian rapprochement, the huge electoral promise of eliminating and replacing Obamacare will remain just a dream, causing him major damage. In this context, Trump seemed less prepared for the Washington hawks, and seems to have lost this important political battle.

It remains to be seen how effective the deep state will be in sabotaging these attempts of rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. The effects may be exactly the opposite, as already seen in the many failures of Washington’s strategic plans. The neocons/liberals and their regional allies in the Middle East continue to weaken American security by renouncing a partnership against terrorism, which would certainly benefit American citizens in the first place as well as calm the situation in the region. But then again, chaos is always the first choice of the American deep state for the purpose influencing events by fomenting violence and thereby advancing strategic goals and objectives. We can only hope that this time they have overplayed their hand and that European allies, or the Trump administration, will try to survive this new sabotage attempt.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia adjusts to realities in US politics

“Trump has nothing to do with the anti-Russia campaign and the public remains indifferent, while an improbable coalition of the Congress and the jeering media is orchestrating the chorus.”

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | July 30, 2017

An instance of such monumental patience is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, in Russian diplomacy: Moscow took 179 days to retaliate against former US President Barack Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats on December 30, 2016, ostensibly to show rancour at alleged Russian efforts to interfere with the US presidential election.

The 35 Russian diplomats were “intelligence operatives”, Obama said. He gave them 72 hours to leave American soil, and he impounded two Russian diplomatic compounds as well.

In Moscow, though, President Vladimir Putin responded that Russia wouldn’t retaliate but would decide on further steps only after considering the actions of the incoming new president, Donald Trump.

Putin went on invite the children of American diplomats posted in Russia to a Christmas party in the Kremlin. But he had a master plan.

Putin preferred to start Russia’s discourse with the Trump administration on a creative note. Trump had raised high expectations in Moscow that a brave new world of partnership between Russia and the US might be approaching.

In the months that followed, however, such hopes began dimming even as Russia became a toxic subject in the Washington Beltway.

Nonetheless, residual hope lingered, as Trump deputed state secretary Rex Tillerson to travel to Moscow for talks in April and within the month also received the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office.

The Russian spirits certainly soared when Trump and Putin held an extraordinary 126-minute meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg where they discussed a range of issues complicating the relationship and yet managed to stay in their positions.

However, the pendulum has now swung to the other extreme with the US Congress passing legislation on further sanctions against Russia. What stunned Moscow is the near-unanimity with which the US lawmakers voted for the bill.

Moscow has drawn two conclusions. First, an intensification of US pressure against Russia is on the cards even as Russophobia has morphed into an anti-Russian mindset. A hardening of the US stance on Ukraine is likely. In Syria, too, Russia is far from a commanding position since several players are, pursuing their own agenda.

The sanctions encompass areas where Russia has the capacity to offer cooperation – energy, defense, mining, railway transport, etc. Curiously, the bill seeks to arm-twist third countries that may be inclined toward developing cooperation with Russia – countries such as India, Vietnam, Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Again, real pressure will come if the US begins to tamper with the strategic balance with Russia.

Second, the legislation virtually takes the Russia policies out of Trump’s hands. Moscow trusted Trump’s instincts to improve relations with Russia and hoped that he’d call the shots ultimately.

But that may be about to change. Congress is reducing Trump to a subaltern role. Russia has no means to leverage influence in the US Congress. Trump may find a way to strike back at the Congress but it is small comfort if political tensions consequently rise in Washington.

All in all, therefore, Moscow sees that a normalization of Russia-US relations can be ruled out for a foreseeable future. The Congress can be expected to determine the US policy towards Russia through the Trump presidency – and this will be a policy of strangling Russia.

This grim prospect leaves Russia with no alternative but to recognise the US as a strategic and key challenge to its security.

Thus, Moscow’s decision on July 28 to curb the US diplomatic presence in Russia may seem a timid response. After all, Moscow is only responding to Obama’s harsh decision and is merely seeking reciprocity with a ceiling of 455 diplomats for both countries (which is where Russian tally currently stands.)

But on close examination, Washington has been made to look foolish. While Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats, Putin’s order to slash the number of US diplomatic staff to 455 will affect a few hundred US personnel currently assigned to Russia.

Moscow is signalling that bilateral cooperation has become pointless. Indeed, Trump has nothing to do with the anti-Russia campaign and the American public remains indifferent, while an improbable coalition of the Congress and the jeering media is orchestrating the chorus. But the realities cannot be ignored.

The triumphalism on the Hill will be short-lived, because the potential strategic consequences for US’ core interests and vital interests are yet to sink in. The West’s policy on Russia now onward becomes a point of discord between Washington and the EU.

China, no doubt, gets a huge strategic windfall, since Moscow will seek closer rapprochement with Beijing, especially on security. A Russian observer noted wryly, “we can easily imagine them (Russia and China) holding military drills in the Straits of Florida near Cuba.”

Knowing Putin, Russia’s response will be calibrated. He implied in remarks while visiting Helsinki on Tuesday that Russia will play the long game.

After all, it is not only in the US’ relations with Russia, but also with allies in Europe and Asia – Germany and Japan, in particular – that fault lines have appeared. Russian diplomacy can be trusted to exploit what Germans call the “zeitgeist” – the spirit of our times – as the US’ global influence inexorably declines.

Russia’s cooperation can be crucial to US interests, and Moscow now has an option to cherry pick. Make no mistake, Moscow will exercise its option highly selectively.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Iran sanctions simply don’t add up

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | July 31, 2017

The new legislation by the venerable lawmakers in the United States, imposing sanctions against Iran (along with Russia and North Korea), has an air of inevitability. But what is inevitable doesn’t always have to be logical.

The base line is how effective these sanctions are going to be. Iran is not new to US sanctions and its economy does not depend on trade or investment from the US. In sum, the US lawmakers are hoping to impose the sanctions via the international community.

But the main difference this time as compared to previous US sanctions is that the POTUS happens to be Donald Trump and the international community regards him with profound scepticism bordering on bewilderment. The world opinion is unlikely to rally behind Trump in an enterprise to punish Iran – or on any issue.

There is a big contradiction in the Trump administration’s approach to Iran because it is legislating sanctions while also certifying that Iran’s compliance with the 15 July 2015 nuclear deal [JCPOA] is satisfactory. And for the world community, JCPOA is a vital platform in international security and is the top priority.

Trump doesn’t have the ghost of a chance to get the UN Security Council to sanctify new sanctions against Iran (on whatever pretext). And in the absence of UN mandate, this becomes an issue of his “America First” foreign policy.

Things will be different if Iran retaliates against these sanctions by exiting the JCPOA, pleading that Washington is backing out from the deal. But Tehran is instead playing an astute game. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javed Zarif said yesterday that Iran will not give a “gift” to Trump.

Zarif signalled that: a) Iran can live with Trump’s sanctions; b) Iran stands to gain more by complying with the JCPOA and earn international goodwill (especially among the world powers); and, c) Iran is utterly free anyway to pursue its missile program (which is indigenous and does not depend on Western technology).

What matters to Iran is that its successful (re)integration with the international community does not suffer any setback. So long as Iran can sell its oil and gas in the world market and so long as there is no sanctions regime with a cutting edge such as the one Barack Obama brilliantly succeeded in imposing (by getting even China and Russia on board), Iran can advance its development agenda.

In fact, Russia’s Gazprom just signed an agreement with Iran’s Oil Industries’ Engineering and Construction to develop Azar and Changuleh oil fields, Iran’s most recent discoveries located in the western province of Lorestan, which are believed to hold an in-place reserve of about 3.5 billion barrels of oil. (Azar is a joint field Iran shares with Iraq.)

Clearly, in the developing global scenario with the US-Russia relations nose diving – and no improvement possible in a foreseeable future – Russian military technology reaches Iran more freely than ever before. Iran’s strategic defiance of the US matters to the Russian strategy.

Equally, China views Iran as the regional hub in its Belt and Road Initiative. Only last week, China agreed to provide $1.5 billion as funding for the upgrade of the Tehran-Meshaad trunk railway line which connects Central Asia.

Suffice to say, if Iran can sell oil in the world market to generate income and with full-throttle cooperation with Russian and Chinese (and even some EU countries), Tehran will be doing reasonably well against Trump’s best-laid plans to “isolate” it.

The EU is giving an unmistakeable signal to Trump through the announcement on Saturday in Brussels that EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will be travelling to Tehran on August 5 to attend the inaugural ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani in her capacity as the head of the Iran-5+1 Joint Commission monitoring the JCPOA. (In addition to Mogherini, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has also announced his intention to participate in the event.

However, this is not to say that Trump will back off from his enterprise to punish Iran and bring about a ‘regime change’. Knowing Trump, he might well be planning to score a hat-trick by dumping the JCPOA sometime around September when the next certification on Iran’s compliance is due – thereby completing a trifecta of withdrawals from international agreements that he inherited from Obama (the other two being Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris accord on climate change.)

How does it all add up? By withdrawing from JCPOA, Trump will the isolating the US in international opinion. The political optic will be simply “disastrous” – to borrow Trump’s favourite idiom. The US will be the outlier.

Trump’s biggest challenge is that while the US’ allies support strict and verifiable implementation of the JCOPA by Iran, they disapprove of Trump’s game plan to create a pretext to collapse or renegotiate the deal. Even for proposing a renegotiation of the JCPOA, Washington needs five of the eight members of the Joint Commission (comprising US, UK, France, Britain, Germany, EU, Russia and China) to back the proposal.

Finally, as the Bible says, “Behold, a little cloud, like a man’s hand is rising” on the horizon – pressure is building over the release of Americans under detention in Iran. Some Iranian news reports recently mentioned the names of several Iranian citizens in jail in the US for sanctions violations.

Tehran could be signalling interest in a quiet conversation over a potential political prisoner exchange similar to what Obama administration once negotiated. Which, of course, requires the Trump administration to engage directly with the government of Iran.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Attempt to prosecute Tony Blair over Iraq War blocked by High Court

© i-Images / Global Look Press
RT | July 31, 2017

Britain’s High Court has blocked a bid by an Iraqi general to bring a private prosecution against Tony Blair over the war he launched in Iraq while prime minister.

General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat accused the former Labour leader of committing a ‘crime of aggression’ by invading Iraq in 2003 to overthrow former President Saddam Hussein. The general wanted to see the prosecution Blair and two other key ministers of the time – Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general.

The men currently have immunity from criminal charges over the war after a 2016 ruling said attempting to bring any prosecution would involve revealing details kept under the Official Secrets Act.

Al Rabbat’s lawyers asked London’s High Court for permission to seek judicial review in an attempt to get the Supreme Court, now the highest court in the land, to overturn a ruling by the House of Lords in 2006 that there is no such crime as the ‘crime of aggression’ under the law of England and Wales.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, and Mr. Justice Ouseley, dismissed the general’s application on Monday, saying there was “no prospect” of the case succeeding.

Michael Mansfield QC, appearing for Al Rabbat, argued that the Chilcot Inquiry published last year showed the prosecution of Blair would be justified. An order declaring Blair’s immunity against any charges should therefore be overturned, Mansfield said.

The 2.6 million-word Chilcot report, which examined the first eight years of the war, said Britain chose to join the invasion of Iraq in 2003 before peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted, alongside former US president George W. Bush, whom Blair had already pledged to support.

It added that the UK’s involvement in Iraq was based on what soon became obvious was a false pretext that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The report found that Blair misled the British public over the threat posed by WMD, which turned out to be non-existent.

Blair’s arguments for going to war were “based on flawed intelligence and assessments” that “were not challenged [and] should have been,” the report said.

The report also detailed the private deals Blair made with Bush ahead of the invasion. Blair promised Bush “I will be with you, whatever” long before the British public was told that he had set out on a path that led inevitably led to British involvement in the conflict eight months later.

Mansfield argued that the international crime of a war of aggression had been accepted by then-UK Attorney-General Sir Hartley Shawcross QC in the 1940s, at the time of the Nuremberg trials over Nazi war crimes.

Mansfield said that, as the international community had held those responsible for the Second World War to account by prosecuting those thought responsible for aggression at Nuremberg, it was the duty of UK courts to follow that example in relation to the Iraq War.

Westminster Magistrates Court refused to issue summonses in November last year on the grounds that the ex-ministers had immunity from legal action – and in any event, the current attorney-general, Jeremy Wright QC, would have to give permission.

Wright intervened in the case and his legal team urged the Lord Chief Justice to block the challenge. He said the private trial of Blair could “involve details being disclosed under the Official Secrets Act.”

Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said: “Today’s decision by the High Court to block an attempt to prosecute Tony Blair for his role in the Iraq war is hugely disappointing and means justice has been left undone.

“Last year’s Chilcot report showed that Tony Blair had no respect for cabinet procedure, no respect for Parliament, and no respect for international law.

“Iraq was devastated by the war Blair led Britain into, millions of innocent Iraqis were killed, British soldiers were killed, and terrorism has spread across the Middle East.

“Chilcot revealed the evidence that must now be used to bring Tony Blair to justice.

“Only when justice is served can we prevent disasters like the Iraq war from happening again.”

The Iraq War caused the deaths of 179 British servicemen and women, and cost the UK economy an estimated £9.6 billion (US$12.6 billion). It is widely held to have caused the bloody sectarian conflict that brought about the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

According to Iraq Body Count, at least 160,400 Iraqi civilians died during the war.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

What Mainstream Media Got Wrong About Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly Vote

teleSUR | July 30, 2017

Venezuelans voted Sunday for representatives of the National Constituent Assembly, amid what the government has called a targeted media campaign to destabilize the country and destroy its sovereignty.

International media outlets rushed to discredit the vote, sharing grossly misrepresentative accounts of the historic electoral process.

The U.S. newspaper Washington Post, for instance, wrote “the decision to hold the vote appeared set to prolong and deepen the suffering of the people of Venezuela” — despite assurances from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that the purpose of the election was to ease economic and political conflicts with the opposition.

The Washington Post also insisted the nation’s 2.8 million state workers “risked losing their jobs if they did not vote.”

The media outlet went even further, claiming the internal and democratic election represented “a direct challenge” to the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump after it demanded that the government cancel the vote.

It said Maduro “defiantly followed through Sunday with his pledge” to hold the election, “creating a critical new stage in a long-simmering crisis that could mint the Western Hemisphere’s newest dictatorship.”

These inflammatory comments, however, do not acknowledge that the right to call a National Constituent Assembly is included in the country’s Constitution and supported by several articles of its text. Indeed the absolute independence of the members of the Constituent Assembly to make changes to the Constitution is protected under these articles.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle meanwhile said the election “will cement a socialist dictatorship” — ignoring the fact that Venezuelans have the right to call for a Constituent Assembly and that the new Constitution will need to be approved by the people.

The British media outlet BBC referenced the recent deaths during violent protests in Caracas, placing the full responsibility for the clashes on security forces.

But Venezuelan Armed Forces have denied these accusations. In a press conference Sunday, Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez said that none of the injuries or deaths could be attributed to the Armed Forces. The article also ignores the eight members of the Armed Forces who were severely injured while protecting Venezuelans’ right to vote.

The CNN, a longtime critic of the Venezuelan government, argued the Constituent Assembly was controlled by Maduro and that the “vote would give the president immense political power.”

This statement fails to take into account that no other state institution may interfere in the new legislative body. Only the 545 officials elected by the citizens from different sectors of society can draft the new Constitution.

CNN also reported that Maduro would replace Venezuela’s National Assembly — a situation that has never been stated in the decree to call for an open and direct vote.

Canada’s Globe and Mail said “voters broadly boycotted” the election, ignoring the numerous of photos and videos of people lining up to vote at dawn and even wading through swamps to reach the voting centers. The article also does not include the countless reports of seniors and people with disabilities eagerly casting votes across the country.

“Caracas was largely shut down with deserted streets and polling stations were mostly empty, dealing a blow to the legitimacy of the vote,” said the Globe and Mail without any evidence.

The Guardian joined the mainstream criticism, calling the election an action that will “seal the demise of the oil-rich nation’s democracy.”

Again, the article failed to acknowledge the thousands of people who fought to earn the opportunity to be candidates in this historical event, including candidates from the LGBT community, student organizations and women and campesino groups.

Finally, the New York Times reported on the election with the headline: “As Venezuela Prepares to Vote, Some Fear an End to Democracy.”

The article reported, “Maduro is pushing a radical plan to consolidate his leftist movement’s grip over the nation,” forgetting that candidates are not voted for according to their political parties but through individual candidacies.

In one of the bluntest accusations, the newspaper argued Maduro “has refused to negotiate with street protesters,” a claim that blatantly ignores Maduro’s ongoing calls for peaceful dialogue and guidance from the Vatican.

It concludes by accusing the president of Venezuela of seeking an “unchecked authority not seen since the juntas that haunted Latin American countries in decades past,” as Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution have vowed to fight the same external interference that brought the U.S. backed dictatorships to the region in the 60s.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment