Aletho News


US Military Reverses Course, Won’t Ban Use of Cluster Bombs

Sputnik – 30.11.2017

The US had planned to end its use of cluster bombs, a type of explosive that ejects smaller submunitions to kill personnel and obliterate vehicles, by 2019, but on Thursday, the Pentagon approved a new policy reversing this promise.

US President George W. Bush declared in 2008 that US would stop using cluster bombs by 2019. On Thursday, though, the Pentagon declared that the weapons have a legitimate use in military operations.

When deployed, cluster bombs scatter hundreds or thousands of bomblets across swaths of territory than can encompass several football fields. The bombs are notorious for failing to explode during the initial weapon deployment — leaving mine-like explosives that can blow up decades later. Anywhere from two to 20 percent of the bomblets released in modern cluster bombs fail to detonate on first use, according to Legacies of War, a Washington-based non-profit.

The United Nations-backed Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the weapons took effect in 2010. More than 100 nations have become signatories to the agreement. The US, Israel, China, Russia, Brazil, Pakistan and India, though, opposed the treaty. These nations are believed to produce or stockpile cluster munitions in significant quantities.

Under the policy approved Thursday, the US will authorize military commanders to use cluster munitions at their discretion until a better option becomes available that reduces the humanitarian hazards, the Associated Press reports.

The policy, laid out in a memorandum written by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, states that “cluster munitions are legitimate weapons with clear military utility.”

Although the Pentagon “seeks to field a new generation of more highly reliable munitions, we cannot risk mission failure or accept the potential of increased military and civilian casualties by forfeiting the best available capabilities.”

“This isn’t surprising,” Luke O’Brien, member of the Military Writers Guild, tweeted Thursday.

​Time-sensitive moving targets that may be difficult to track as well as large formations of hostile troops are two examples cited by the Pentagon as viable military applications of cluster munitions. The Pentagon contends that if it stopped using cluster bombs it would have to resort to other weapons that could do even more damage to civilians located near where the bombs are dropped.

Cluster bombs have been used recently in Yemen, where the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis rages.

In other countries such as Laos, which saw sustained use of cluster bombs in military operations for many years, hundreds of civilians continue to die every year from stepping on undetonated bomblets, and public education campaigns must be run to teach children to avoid the brightly colored bobbles if they encounter them. Although the US bombing of Laos ended over 40 years ago, an additional 20,000 people have died from unexploded cluster bombs found in agricultural fields since the war ended, rendering crucial farmland off limits in a country where the majority of the population relies on subsistence farming.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | 3 Comments

N Korea Declares itself a “Full-fledged Nuclear Force”

By Hyun Lee | Zoom In Korea | November 29, 2017

The sixty-day clock has run out. After two months of relative quiet, North Korea test-launched another missile in the early morning hours of November 29 (local time). This time, it launched the Hwasong-15, confirmed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that reportedly flew 700 miles in 53 minutes before landing in the sea west of Japan. The missile reached an unprecedented altitude of 2800 miles, more than ten times the height of the International Space Station and is said to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to anywhere in the United States.

Last month, Joseph Yun, the U.S. State Department’s top official on North Korea policy, had told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations that if North Korea halted its nuclear and missile tests for sixty days, the United States would resume direct talks with Pyongyang, according to the Washington Post. His comment echoed those of State Secretary Rex Tillerson: “The best signal that North Korea could give us that they’re prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches. We’ve not had an extended period of time where they have not taken some type of provocative action by launching ballistic missiles. So I think that would be the first and strongest signal they could send us is just stop, stop these missile launches.”

The last North Korean missile test before this latest one was the launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile on September 15, a little more than sixty days ago.

Rather than reach out for talks, as Yun had said, the United States chose to ramp up military exercises. Earlier this month, it sent three aircraft carriers—the USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz—and their multi-ship strike groups as well as B-1 bombers to the area to participate in four days of exercises with South Korea and Japan. Next week, the air forces of South Korea and the United States are scheduled to hold another exercise. Vigilant Ace, which will run from December 4 to 8, will deploy six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and F-35 aircraft. About 12,000 U.S. personnel will participate with South Korean troops while 230 aircraft will be flown at eight U.S. and South Korean military installations, according to a news statement released by the U.S. Seventh Air Force. The U.S. Marine Corps and Navy troops will also participate.

Events could have taken a different turn had the United States matched Pyongyang’s restraint by halting the war games, says Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov: “If Pyongyang’s demonstrated restraint over the past two months was met with similar reciprocal steps on behalf of the United States and its allies then we could have moved to the start of direct talks between the United States and North Korea.”

After the latest missile test, Kim Jong-un declared North Korea “a full-fledged nuclear force.” He added that his country’s nuclear weapons are aimed solely at “defending the sovereignty of the nation from the US nuclear threat and protecting the peaceful life of the people” and that no other country is under threat from his country’s nukes.

By not following through with overtures for detente after its own sixty-day deadline, the United States blew its last chance at negotiating with North Korea before it declared itself a de facto nuclear weapons state. Now it seems its only options are: war to denuclearize North Korea by force—which would claim millions of lives and destabilize the entire region as well as the global economy—or a Peace Treaty to finally end the sixty-five year old Korean War and the withdrawal of its troops from the Korean peninsula.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , | 2 Comments

US Continues to Provoke North Korea – Lavrov

Sputnik – November 30, 2017

The US is trying to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear missile program. However, its actions have only lead to the escalation of the situation in the region.

Moscow is against the idea of increasing sanctions pressure on North Korea amid the latest missile launch, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

“We have repeatedly stressed that the sanctions pressure is essentially exhausted, and that all those resolutions that had imposed sanctions necessarily included demands to resume the political process, resume negotiations, and this is completely ignored by the US side. I think this is a big mistake,” Lavrov told reporters.

The minister stressed that the latest actions of the US authorities were aimed at provoking North Korea.

“The recent actions of the United States seem to be aimed deliberately to provoke Pyongyang to commit new harsh actions. It seems that everything has been done specifically to ensure that [North Korean Leader] Kim Jong Un snapped and took another adventurous move,” Lavrov said.

He added that Washington should say directly whether it was seeking to find a pretext for destroying North Korea.

“The United States should first of all explain to us what they are trying to achieve. If they want to find a pretext for destroying North Korea, as the US Ambassador to the UN Security Council stated, they should say it directly, and the US leadership should confirm this. Then we will decide how to respond,” Lavrov said.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang conducted its most advanced- ever ballistic missile test. The missile flew 950 kilometers (590 miles) and reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers. The flight lasted for 53 minutes, after which the missile fell into the Sea of Japan, within the Japanese exclusive economic zone.

Earlier in the day, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley urged countries around the world to cut off their commercial, diplomatic, military and any other ties with North Korea. US President Donald Trump said in a statement on Wednesday that new major sanctions would be imposed on North Korea in response to its latest missile launch.

READ MORE: US Calls on All Nations to Cut Off Ties With North Korea

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

How Hitler Analogies Obscure Understanding of Mideast Power Struggle

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 30.11.2017

While growing up in America during the 1950’s, one would sometimes encounter supermarket tabloid headlines asserting that Adolph Hitler had not died in May 1945 in the ruins of the Reich’s Chancellery. It was claimed that he had somehow escaped and was living under a false identity somewhere in South America, most probably in Argentina. Eventually, as the Fuhrer’s hundredth birthday came and went in 1989, the stories pretty much vanished from sight though the fascination with Hitler as the ultimate manifestation of pure evil persisted.

The transformation of Hitler into something like a historical metaphor means that his name has been evoked a number of times in the past twenty years, attached to Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gaddafi, Vladimir Putin and, most recently, to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. The attribution in the cases of Hussein and Gaddafi was essentially to create popular support for otherwise unjustifiable wars initiated by the United States and its European and Middle Eastern allies. Putin, meanwhile, received the sobriquet from an angry Hillary Clinton, who certainly knows a thing or two about both personalizing and overstating a case.

The Hitler designation of the Iranian spiritual leader, which appeared one week ago in a featured profile produced by Tom Friedman of The New York Times, is particularly ironic as it came from the de facto head of state of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, whose country has long been regarded as cruel and despotic while also being condemned for its sponsorship of a particularly reactionary form of Islam called wahhabism. Bin Salman described the Iranian leader as “the new Hitler of the Middle East.”

Both Khamenei and bin Salman exercise power without a popular mandate. Khamenei was named to his position in 1989 by a so-called Assembly of Experts, which is a quasi-religious body, and bin Salman was appointed Crown Prince by his father King Salman in June. Both have considerable power over other organs of state, but the comparison largely ends there as Iran does have real elections for an actual parliament with enumerated powers and a president who is also serves as head of government.

Iran is also tolerant of long established religious minorities whereas Saudi Arabia, which is seen by most observers as a theocratic based autocracy that is a personal possession of the House of Saud, is hostile to them. In particular, Riyadh has been actively promoting hatred for Islam’s second largest sect, Shi’ism. The Saudis have also been assisting al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front and ISIS, though denying the considerable evidence demonstrating those links, while Iran and its allies have been destroying those terrorists on the battlefield.

Crown Prince bin Salman has been preaching an anti-corruption drive of late, which includes torture of those arrested. Many observers believe it is actually a bid to shake down some billionaires while also diminishing the power exercised by some members of the extended Royal Family. The Prince has also suggested that he will be promoting a “more open and modern” form of Islam, which might reduce some beheadings and amputations as punishment. But the death penalty will still apply for heresy, which includes the Shi’ism practiced by Iran, Iraq, some Syrians and Hezbollah. Nor will it put an end to the current horrific slaughter by disease and starvation of Yemenis being implemented by Riyadh with some help from its friends in Tel Aviv and Washington.

Liberal journalists like Tom Friedman, who have editorially sided with the Saudis and Israelis against Iran, have largely bought into the anticorruption theme. The Times profile accepts at face value bin Salam’s claims to be a reformer who will somehow reshape both Saudi Arabia and Islam. Friedman, a passionate globalist, largely goes along for the ride because it is the kind of language a poorly-informed progressive hopes to hear from someone who walks around wearing a keffiyeh and sandals. It also serves Friedman’s other regular agenda justifying Israeli threats to go to war against its neighbors, starting with Lebanon. Make no mistake, the offerings of war abroad and repression at home being served up by Riyadh and Tel Aviv are not the birth pangs of a New Middle East. That died a long time ago. It is instead a fight over who will dominate the region, the same as it always is.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Intercept Attacks WikiLeaks on Behalf of Democrats

By Daniel Haiphong | American Herald Tribune | November 29, 2017

The Intercept emerged during the Obama era to provide a service to whistle blowers. Journalist Glenn Greenwald, for example, helped form the Intercept in the aftermath of the corporate media backlash to Edward Snowden’s leaks about the massive surveillance machine possessed by the National Security Agency (NSA). The Intercept prided itself as a trustworthy source tailored to those interested in making state secrets a matter of public record. Then Donald Trump was elected and subtle changes to the content of the Intercept’s work became evident. By this time the Intercept was neither a safe for leaks nor a reliable source of journalism.

On November 15th, the Intercept attacked WikiLeaks, the most well-known publisher of Washington’s dirty laundry. The attack centered around WikiLeaks‘s communication with Donald Trump Jr. According to the Intercept, WikiLeaks has “given ammunition” to detractors of the group through its direct contact with Trump Jr. over Twitter. The tweets, which revolved around the release of Trump’s tax documents, are supposedly proof that WikiLeaks “advised” the Trump Administration and is thus in cahoots with it. However, sources such as MSNBC, the New York magazine, and The Atlantic do not give the Intercept’s claims much credibility.

WikiLeaks’ request for Trump Jr. to release tax information could be seen as a strategic move to pressure the Administration to respond to the broader attack on WikiLeaks. The fact remains that at the time of the accusation (October 2016), Trump’s tax history was already being scrutinized by the corporate press. WikiLeaks was also being attacked by the corporate press for releasing Podesta’s emails, many of which revealed key policy blunders of the Obama-Clinton machine. The emails revealed that the DNC had in fact rigged the Democratic primary against Bernie Sanders among a sea of evidence of Clinton’s servitude to Wall Street. The author of the Intercept article fails to mention this context at all.

Omitting the importance of the information leaked by WikiLeaks regarding the Clinton machine lays bare the partisan character of the Intercept’s attack. And this is not the first time that the Intercept has damaged its journalistic reputation with partisan politics. The Intercept was implicated in the exposure of Reality Winner’s identity in the insubstantial leak regarding Russian interference in the 2016 elections. It also published an anti-Syria hit piece comparing President Assad to fascists. Most recently, the Intercept was found to have withheld important Snowden leaks that may have changed the course of the war in Syria.

These instances of the Intercept’s alignment with US imperialism raise many questions. First, what is it that prompts the media source from publishing articles that do nothing but aid the Democratic Party wing of the empire? And furthermore, how do the Intercept’s recent journalistic blunders fit into the broader historical moment? These questions are vitally important as they point to the necessary approach to handling contradictions. This particular point in history is characterized by a crisis in every facet of US imperialism, making independent journalism that much more important to the development of a movement that can seize the time.

It turns out that the Intercept’s status as an independent media source has always been up for debate. The popular media source is a subsidiary of First Look Media. First Look Media is a venture of Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire tech capitalist and founder of eBay. Omidyar is well known for his investments in the non-profit and NGO industries around the world. He is also a staunch Democrat. In the 2016 elections, Omidyar gave hefty donations to an anti-Trump Super PAC. 

It should come as no surprise then that the Intercept provides stealth defense of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is arguably in a weaker position than it was last November when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. Top Democrats remain committed to the dying narrative that Russia influenced the 2016 elections in favor of Trump. Former DNC interim chair Donna Brazile confirmed the facts in the 2016 WikiLeaks dump that Hillary Clinton used the DNC to secure her nomination. Polls suggest that the Democratic Party may in fact be less popular than Donald Trump. That’s because the Democratic Party has nothing to offer except anti-Russian hysterics and pro-corporate candidates.

A defense of WikiLeaks is not necessary then because the source of the attack is dubious at best and illegitimate at worst. WikiLeaks may have committed an error over Twitter by communicating with Trump Jr. If this is about political strategy, then one could make the argument that tweeting to the Trump Administration shows a level of opportunism to use the Trump Administration for its own ends. It isn’t as if Julian Assange wouldn’t have a reason to do whatever it takes to curry favor with the current Administration. Assange is a wanted man and would likely serve a life in federal prison if extradited from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

However politically flawed, WikiLeaks has done humanity a service by exposing the Democratic Party as but another organ of the rich. The Republican Party has long been known for its staunch support for the most egregious manifestations of white supremacy and capitalism. Donald Trump’s election was in part a rejection of the Republican Party elite. The Republican Party’s base refused to support Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio. Trump took advantage of the chaos and won the Republican nomination, only to be confronted with a Democratic Party opposition in similar shape.

The role WikiLeaks played in the election cycle was thus a progressive one. Leaks such as Vault7 gave the masses an understanding of the Democratic Party’s true character. Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street, her “public” and “private” positions on Social Security, and her leadership in destroying Libya only added fuel to the fire sparked by the revelation that the Clinton campaign used the DNC to ensure its nomination. Any discussion about WikiLeaks cannot leave out the concrete developments that made the election so historic in the first place.

The enduring legacy of the 2016 elections is a reflection of the deep crisis that plagues US imperialism. Inequality continues to deepen, police repression continues to intensify, and a global confrontation with Russia and China remains a serious threat to the future of humanity. The Intercept’s decision to publish an attack on WikiLeaks is far more dangerous than the accusations leveled at WikiLeaks. It demonstrates a conscious neglect of progressive and radical politics in favor of the gossip that passes as news these days. The Trump-WikiLeaks connection has become just another talking point to draw readers into unsubstantiated conspiracies against the two-party elite.

This is not a time to pontificate Assange’s personal political views or those of WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks cannot drive a new movement for social transformation, only the people can. Still, it is a crime to negate the objective impact of WikiLeaks in weakening the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is the greatest obstacle to forging a real struggle against war, austerity, and racism in our time. Criticism of WikiLeaks that leaves out this critical point amounts to tacit support for the Democrats. And the Intercept’s criticism is just one example of a longer trend that shows just what kind of influence Democratic Party donor and billionaire Pierre Omidyar has on the organization.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 3 Comments

DHS Official Confirms There Were No Russian Hacking Attacks During 2016 Election

Sputnik – November 30, 2017

WASHINGTON – Russian hackers never attacked a single US state voting system during the 2016 presidential election, Department of Homeland Security National Programs Security Chief Christopher Krebs told the US House of Representatives.

“The majority of the activity was simple scanning. Scanning happens all the time across the web… I would not describe that as an attack,” Krebs told a joint hearing of the House Oversight Subcommittees on Wednesday. “Not a single of the 21 states were actually attacked… When you characterize these things as attacks that is overstating… If that context was not provided I apologize.”

Krebs is the senior official performing the duties of the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate in the DHS, where he oversees cyber and physical infrastructure security. He was replying to a request for details on the alleged hacking by Congresswoman Robin Kelly.

Kelly complained that the report on the alleged hacking that the DHS had sent to Congress was a script read in a telephone conversation that was only 13 sentences long, that did not refer to any specific state or any specific state and that provided no evidence at all.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Argentine ‘death flight’ pilots get life for 100s of junta opponents thrown into ocean

Images of junta victims at ESMA Museum in Buenos Aires © espaciomemoria / YouTube
RT | November 30, 2017

Judges in Argentina have given life sentences to the former ‘death flights’ pilots after hundreds of people opposing the country’s 1976-83 military junta – including a close friend of Pope Francis – were thrown into the ocean.

A major ruling on Wednesday marked the “first” such Argentinian judgment against pilots involved in the notorious ‘death flights,’ local media reports. During the operations, opponents of Argentina’s military regime that ruled the country from 1976 until 1983 were thrown into the waters of the Atlantic.

According to the verdict, the announcement of which lasted almost four hours, 29 former service members were sentenced to life imprisonment, 19 were sentenced to eight to 25 years, and six were acquitted, local media report.

There are 54 defendants in the major trial. It also involves cases of 789 victims of a secret detention center – known as the Navy Mechanics Higher School (ESMA) – where up to 5,000 people opposing the repressive junta regime are believed to have been vanished.

The five-year trial – called the ‘mega cause’ in Argentina – exposed the chilling practices of systematic torture and the killing of thousands of people, including left-wing opponents of the regime and members of Argentina’s urban guerrilla groups, but also human rights activists and relatives of those forcibly disappeared by junta forces.

In a series of hearings, it emerged that numerous victims were drugged, loaded onto ‘death flight’ aircraft, and thrown into the freezing waters of the southern Atlantic Ocean. Among ESMA victims was Esther Careaga, a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who later became Pope Francis. Careaga was thrown to her death from a plane one night in December 1977, along with two French nuns and nine others.

“Careaga was a good friend and a great woman,” Beroglio said when the body was identified in 2003. The future pontiff met Careaga, a biochemist and his boss at the time, when he worked as an apprentice at a pharmaceutical laboratory in Buenos Aires in the early 1950s.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

New Israeli draft law would jail pro-BDS activists

MEMO | November 30, 2017

A new draft bill sponsored by members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition would see activists who promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) campaign face criminal charges and jail time.

According to the proposal, reports Haaretz, “the crime in question, which already exists in the penal code, harms ‘Israel’s interests or Israel’s relations with a country, organization or institution’.”

The new element, backed by Likud MKs David Bitan (coalition whip), Anat Berko, and David Amsalem, as well as Kulanu lawmakers Yfat Shasha-Biton and Tali Plosko, is “including the promotion of anti-Israel boycotts as one of the acts that can result in indictment on this charge”.

The bill’s explanatory notes state that the law “is meant to apply to anyone who takes an active part in a movement that boycotts Israel or its products”.

“Anyone who lends a hand to a boycott that harms Israel’s economy or harms it in other ways, like an academic boycott, must be called to account for it”, it continues.

“This is the difference between legitimate criticism and an assault that is a thuggish act in itself (boycott) and causes harm Israel and its citizens”.

The bill states that “if a boycott activist caused intentional harm, he could be liable for a prison term of up to 10 years or, in certain cases, even life”.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Bolivia’s TIPNIS Dispute: How Liberal-Left Alternative Media Becomes a Conveyor Belt for US Regime Change Propaganda

Chicago ALBA Solidarity / November 30, 2017

As has become a standard operating procedure, an array of Western environmental NGOs, advocates of indigenous rights and liberal-left alternative media cover up the US role in attempts to overturn the anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal governments of Rafael Correa in Ecuador[1] and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

This NACLA article[2] provides an excellent example. Bolivia’s TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure) dispute arose over the Evo Morales government’s project to complete a road through the park, opposed by some indigenous and environmental groups.

As is NACLA modus operandi, the article says not one word about US and rightwing funding and coordination with the indigenous and environmental groups behind the TIPNIS anti-highway protests. (This does not delegitimize the protests, but it does deliberately mislead people about the issues involved).

In doing so, these kinds of articles cover up US interventionist regime change plans, be that their intention or not.

NACLA is not alone in what is in fact apologetics for US interventionism. Include the Guardian, UpsideDownWorld, [3] Amazon Watch, so-called “Marxist” Jeffery Weber,[4] Jacobin, ROAR, [5] Intercontinentalcry, Avaaz, In These Times, in a short list of examples. We can add to this simply by picking up any articles about oil drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni during Rafael Correa’s presidency, or the protests in Bolivia’s TIPNIS and see what they say about US funding of protests, if they even mention it.

This is not simply an oversight, it is a cover-up.

What this Liberal Left Media Covers Up

On the issue of the TIPNIS highway, we find on numerous liberal-left alternative media and environmental websites claiming to defend the indigenous concealing that:

  1. The leading indigenous group of the TIPNIS 2011-2012 protests was being funded by USAID. The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB) had no qualms about working with USAID — it boasted on its website that it received training programs from USAID. CIDOB president Adolfo Chavez, thanked the “information and training acquired via different programs financed by external collaborators, in this case USAID”. [6]
  1. The 2011 TIPNIS march was coordinated with the US Embassy, specifically Eliseo Abelo. His phone conversations with the march leaders – some even made right before the march set out — were intercepted by the Bolivian counter-espionage agency and made public.[7]
  1. “The TIPNIS marchers were openly supported by right wing Santa Cruz agrobusiness interests and their main political representatives, the Santa Cruz governorship and Santa Cruz Civic Committee.” [8] In June 2011 indigenous deputies and right wing parties in the Santa Cruz departmental council formed an alliance against the MAS (Movement for Socialism, Evo Morales’s party). CIDOB then received a $3.5 million grant by the governorship for development projects in its communities.
  1. Over a year after the TIPNIS protests, one of the protest leaders announced he was joining a rightwing anti-Evo Morales political party.[9]
  1. The protest leaders of the TIPNIS march supported REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The Avaaz petition (below) criticizing Evo Morales for his claimed anti-environmental actions also covered this up. As far back as 2009 “CIDOB leaders were participating there in a USAID-promoted workshop to talk up the imperialist-sponsored REDD project they were pursuing together with USAID-funded NGOs.” [10]

REDD was a Western “environmental” program seeking to privatize forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow Western corporations to continue polluting. That REDD would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring forests in their areas.

  1. These liberal-left alternative media and environmental NGOs falsely presented the TIPNIS conflict as one between indigenous/environmentalist groups against the Evo Morales government. (e.g. the TIPNIS highway was “a project universally[!] condemned by local indigenous tribes and urban populations alike”)[11] Fred Fuentes pointed out that more than 350 Bolivian organizations, including indigenous organizations and communities, even within TIPNIS, supported the proposed highway.

CONISUR (Consejo de Indígenas del Sur), consisting of a number of indigenous and peasant communities within TIPNIS, backed by Bolivia’s three largest national indigenous campesino organizations, organized a march to support of the road. They argued that the highway is essential to integrating Bolivia’s Amazonia with the rest of the country, as well as providing local communities with access to basic services and markets. [12]

The overwhelming majority of people in the West who know about the TIPNIS protests, or the Yasuni protests in Ecuador, where a similar division between indigenous groups took place, never learned either from the liberal-left media or the corporate media, that indigenous groups marched in support of the highway or in support of oil drilling.

  1. The TIPNIS conflict is falsely presented as Evo Morales wanting to build a highway through the TIPNIS wilderness (“cutting it in half” as they dramatically claim). There are in fact two roads that exist there now, which will be paved and connected to each other. Nor was it wilderness: 20,000 settlers lived there by 2010.[13]
  1. Anti- highway march leaders actually defended industrial-scale logging within TIPNIS. Two logging companies operated 70,000 hectares within the national park and have signed 20-year contracts with local communities.[14]
  1. They often fail to note that the TIPNIS marchers, when they reached La Paz, sought to instigate violence, demanding Evo Morales removal. Their plot was blocked by mobilization of local indigenous supporters of Evo’s government.

If we do not read Fred Fuentes in Green Left Weekly, we don’t find most of this information. Now, it is true that some of the media articles did mention that there were also TIPNIS protests and marches demanding the highway be built. Some do mention USAID, but phrase it as “Evo Morales claimed that those protesting his highway received USAID funding.”

Avaaz Petition Attacking Evo Morales over TIPNIS

The TIPNIS campaign, which became a tool in the US regime change strategy, was taken up in a petition by Avaaz. It included 61 signing groups. Only two from Bolivia! US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network.[15]  Whether they knew it, whether they wanted to know it, they signed on to a false account of the TIPNIS conflict, placed the blame on the Bolivian government, target of US regime change, and hid the role of the US.US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador are painted as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. The US government’s “talking points” against the progressive ALBA bloc countries have worked their way into liberal-left alternative media, which echo the attacks on these governments by organizations there receiving US funds.  That does not mean Amazon Watch, Upside Down World or NACLA are themselves funded by the US government – if it somehow exculpates them that they do this work for free. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the liberal-left alternative press, what we consider our press.

The USAID budget for Latin America is said to be $750 million, but estimates show that the funding may total twice that. [16] Maria Augusta Calle of Ecuador’s National Assembly, said in 2015 the US Congress allocated $2 billion to destabilize targeted Latin American countries.[17]

This information, how much money it is, what organizations in the different countries receive it, how it is spent, ought to be a central focus of any liberal-left alternative media purporting to stand up for the oppressed peoples of the Americas.

Yet, as Fuentes points out:  “Overwhelmingly, solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many argued that only social movements — not governments — can guarantee the success of [Bolivia’s] process of change…. with most articles written by solidarity activists, [they] downplay the role of United States imperialism…. Others went further, denying any connection between the protesters and US imperialism.”[18]

Why do they let themselves become conveyer belts for US regime change propaganda?

Why did this liberal-left media and NGOs let themselves become conveyer belts for US propaganda for regime change, legitimizing this US campaign to smear the Evo Morales government?

Some of it lies in the liberalish refusal to admit that all international issues can only be understood in the context of the role and the actions of the US Empire. As if conflicts related to countries the US deems hostile to its interests can be understood without taking the US role into account. Some liberal-left writers and groups do understand this, just as they do understand they may risk their positions and funding by looking to closely into it.

It seems easier to not see the role the Empire plays and simply present a liberal-left “critique” of the pluses and minuses of some progressive government targeted by the US. That is how these alternative media sources end up actually advocating for indigenous groups and environmental NGOs which are US and corporate funded. They even criticize countries for defending national sovereignty by shutting down these non-governmental organizations, what Bolivian Vice-President Linera exposes as “foreign government financed organizations” operating in their countries.

Some of it lies in the widely held anti-authoritarian feeling in the US that social movements “from below” are inherently good and that the government/the state is inherently bad. The reporting can be informative on social movements in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia where the people struggle against state repression. But when these social movements in Ecuador or Bolivia were able to win elections and gain hold of some real state power, reporting soon becomes hostile and misleading. “Support social movements when they struggle against governmental power; oppose them once they win government power,” they seem to say. Their reporting slides into disinformation, undermining our solidarity with other struggles, and covering up US regime change efforts. UpsideDownWorld is an excellent example of this.

Some of it lies in what many who call themselves “left” still have not come to terms with: their own arrogant white attitude they share with Western colonizers and present day ruling elites: we know better than you what is good for you, we are the best interpreters and defenders of your socialism, your democracy, your human rights. They repeatedly critique real or imagined failures of progressive Third World governments – targets of the US.

Genuine solidarity with the peoples of the Third World means basing yourself in opposition to the Empire’s interference and exposing how it attempts to undermine movements seeking to break free from the Western domination.

Some of it lies in deep-rooted white racist paternalism in their romanticizing the indigenous as some “noble savage” living at one with nature, in some Garden of Eden. Providing these people with schools, health clinics, modern conveniences we have, is somehow felt not to be in their best interests.

A serious analysis of a Third World country must begin with the role the West has played. To not point out imperialism’s historic and continuing exploitive role is simply dishonest, it is apologetics, it shows a basic lack of human feeling for the peoples of the Third World.

A function of corporate media is to conceal Western pillaging of Third World countries, to cheerlead efforts to restore neocolonial-neoliberal governments to power. However, for liberal-left media and organizations to do likewise, even if halfway, is nothing other than supporting imperialist interference.






[6] Fred Fuentes, Bolivia: Solidarity activists need to support revolutionary process; Rumble over jungle far from over







[13] Linda C.  Farthing, Benjamin H. Kohl Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change (2014: 52)






November 30, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Bows to Israeli/Saudi Alliance in Blaming Iran

By Ted Snider | Consortium News | November 29, 2107

At first, American officials couldn’t believe it. In 1993, the Israelis began pressuring the Clinton administration to view Iran as the greatest global threat. Only a short time earlier, in the 1980s, Israel had been cooperating with the Iranians militarily and selling them weapons to fight Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War.

Back then, the Israelis were Iran’s best lobbyists in Washington, pushing the Reagan administration to talk to Iran, to sell arms to Iran, and even to ignore Iran’s tough talk on Israel. In that process, Israel was aided by a group of staunchly pro-Israeli officials within the Reagan administration whom we now know as the neoconservatives.

In 1981, just months after Iran had held 52 American diplomatic personnel hostage for 444 days, senior State Department officials Robert McFarlane and Paul Wolfowitz were advocating on behalf of the Israeli desire to sell Iran weapons. That initiative, which was continued by McFarlane when he became President Reagan’s National Security Advisor, ultimately led to the Iran-Contra scandal of 1986 when Reagan’s secret approval of U.S. arms shipments to Iran became public.

Yet, even in the wake of that scandal and the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the neoconservatives who remained influential under Reagan’s successor, President George H.W. Bush, pressed ahead with the goal of getting the U.S. to warm its relations with Iran. Iraq’s defeat at the hands of the U.S. military and its allies in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 further reduced the Arab threat to Israel’s security and encouraged more thinking about a possible U.S.-Iranian détente.

The Bush-I administration’s 1991 “National Security Strategy of the United States” said the U.S. was open to “an improved relationship with Iran,” a country that a 1991 National Intelligence Estimate said was “turning away from revolutionary excesses . . . toward more conventional behavior.”

However, in 1993, with the Clinton administration in power, the Israelis changed their tune, urging the U.S. government to find Iran lurking behind every terrorist attack, every conflict and every threat.

There appear to have been several factors leading to this Israeli switch – from the fact that the Cold War was over and thus Arab states that had relied on Soviet weaponry were weakened; that Iran-backed Hezbollah was challenging Israel’s military occupation of southern Lebanon; and that Israel could no longer profit from Iran’s desperate need for weapons (with the war with Iraq over and Iran’s treasury depleted) while the Arab oil states offered a more lucrative opportunity for both geopolitical and financial gain.

Hooked on the Money

Israeli leadership had found the billions of dollars from arms sales to Iran useful in maintaining Israel’s large military/intelligence infrastructure as well as Israel’s development of Jewish settlements inside Palestinian territories on the West Bank. With that cash source gone, Israel began recalculating its longstanding Periphery Strategy, which had called for countering Arab pressure from close-in states by cultivating relations with non-Arab regional powers on the periphery, such as Iran and Turkey.

There were also two other seismic events that altered the geopolitical landscape. The Cold War was over and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been humiliated in the Persian Gulf War. While the Israelis saw both events as positive, there were unintended consequences. The end of the Cold War meant the exit of the Soviet Union from the Middle East: that left Israel’s traditional Arab enemies even more enfeebled and the U.S. government less worried about losing influence in the oil-rich region. Iran also emerged as relatively stronger than Iraq due to Iraq’s failed invasion of Iran and its catastrophic defeat after its invasion of Kuwait.

Israel’s 1992 elections also brought Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and the Labor Party to power, raising the possibility of finally reaching a peace accord with the Palestinians and thus the possibility of more normalized relations with the Arab world. In turn, that raised the potential for more lucrative arrangements with oil-rich sheikdoms by, in effect, renting out the Israel Lobby to the Sunni-ruled Gulf states so they could push their historic conflict with the Shiites whose power base was Iran.

“There was a feeling in Israel that because of the end of the Cold War, relations with the U.S. were cooling and we needed some new glue for the alliance,” Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center told Trita Parsi. “And the new glue was radical Islam.”

But it was a very selective kind of radical Islam: not the kind Saudi Arabia was financing and exporting through Wahhabi fundamentalism and violent jihadists like those in Al Qaeda, but Iran’s radical Shiite Islam. Selling Iran as the number one global terror threat gave birth to a new Middle East enemy that replaced the Soviet Union and reinflated Israel’s value to the U.S. in the region. “Iran,” Inbar went on to explain, “was radical Islam.”

A New Alliance

For the first time, an alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States became possible with Iran as the designated enemy. The Israeli-Saudi relationship has evolved mostly in secret over the past couple of decades but has popped into view in recent years as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his inner circle have emphasized the common interests – especially animosity toward Iran – that they share with Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu has recently referred to this Israeli-Saudi alliance when he said that Iran was driving Israel into cooperative arrangements with what he called “the modern Sunni states.” He referred to “a new alliance between Israel and Islamic states. … The good news is that the other guys are getting together with Israel as never before. It is something that I would have never expected in my lifetime.”

Nine months ago, Netanyahu delivered the same message when he said “for the first time in my lifetime, and for the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but, increasingly, as an ally.”

Though the Israeli-Saudi relationship is rarely spoken of out loud, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz admitted recently that Israel “has ties that are . . . partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries.” Saudi Arabia was the only one he specifically named. According to Reuters, he said those ties are fueled by “common concerns over Iran.”

But there are other foundations for this relationship. For years, Saudi Arabia sought to buy influence in Washington’s policy circles regarding the Middle East but was largely unsuccessful because Israel had cornered that market and Israel’s influential American supporters demonized lobbyists, academics and others who took Saudi money. Eventually, it became clear to Saudi Arabia that it made more sense to rent out Israel’s sophisticated lobbying apparatus rather than to fight it.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry reported that Saudi money helped seal this Israel-Saudi alliance, with the Saudis giving Israel billions of dollars and Israel reciprocating by giving Saudi Arabia added influence in Washington.

But Official Washington was surprised in the 1990s when Israel’s turnabout began — and Iran went from being a misunderstood nation tilting toward moderation to the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. Despite some bewilderment, U.S. policymakers soon readjusted their rhetoric as the legendary Israeli influence operations carried the day. Shiite Iran became the new terror threat, even after the 9/11 attacks that were organized by Al Qaeda, a Sunni fundamentalist group associated with Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic State

The gap between the facts on the ground – the recognition that Al Qaeda and Islamic State remain the real chief terror threats from radical Islam – and the propaganda of principally blaming Iran for terrorism has led to a quandary for U.S./Israeli propagandists. They want to focus Americans’ fury on Iran and its allies, Syria and Hezbollah, but it is Saudi-and-Gulf-connected terror groups, such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State, that were chopping off heads of innocents and sponsoring terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Europe.

That disconnected reality explains why America’s response to the emergence of the Islamic State can best be characterized as confused and bizarre. Though the Obama administration claimed it was taken by surprise by the Islamic State’s emergence in Iraq and Syria, it really wasn’t. Rather, policymakers had sought to persuade the American public on the need for a “regime change” conflict in Syria, an Iranian ally. This strategy went back years.

A WikiLeaks-released cable dated Dec. 13, 2006, and written by the charge d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in Damascus to the Secretary of State recommended that the U.S. “coordinate more closely with” Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a policy to weaken President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria and “to play on Sunni fears of Iranian influence.” The cable also recognized that Islamist extremists were “certainly a long-term threat” to the Syrian government.

Over the years, there was little change in this inconvenient truth that jihadists were playing a crucial role in achieving these geopolitical goals.  For instance, in a December 2009 cable, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban . . . and other terrorist groups.”

By Aug. 12, 2012, the U.S. government knew explicitly that Islamic extremists were the engine in the Syrian insurgency. A classified Defense Intelligence Agency Information Intelligence Report unambiguously declares that “The salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS and the Islamic State] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”

Section 8.C. of the report astonishingly predicts that “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria.” Section 8.D.1. of the report goes on specifically to say that “ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

So, the U.S. government knew that the Islamic extremists drove the Syrian insurgency that Washington and its regional allies were supporting. U.S. intelligence analysts also had a surprisingly good idea what the possible outcome of that support was.

Yet, to advance the regional goals of the Israeli-Saudi tandem – i.e., the overthrow of the Syrian government because of its ties to Iran – the U.S. government was, in effect, supporting the very terrorists the war on terror was meant to eradicate.

Selling Al Qaeda

At times, senior Israeli officials made clear their preferences for Sunni extremists over more moderate Arabs associated with Shiite-ruled Iran. For instance, in September 2013, then-Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Syria’s largely secular President Bashar al-Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said in the interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Oren reiterated this position in June 2014 at an Aspen Institute conference. Speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was then massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria.

“From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” said Oren, who is now a member of the Knesset and part of Netanyahu’s government.

Other senior Israelis have expressed similar sentiments. Sima Shine, who is in charge of Iran for Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, urged Assad’s removal even if that might turn Syria over to extremists. “The ‘devil we know’ is worse than the devil we don’t,” she said in June 2013. “If Bashar remains in power, that would be a huge achievement for Iran.”

So, in 2014, when Islamic State jihadists advanced through Syria and Iraq and knocked on the door of Lebanon, their success should not have come as a surprise to President Obama and other U.S. policymakers. Today’s Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have in common that they are Iran’s three principal allies in the region.

In other words, the Islamic State’s interests largely corresponded to those of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.: isolating and weakening Iran. Only the Islamic State’s shocking excesses of videotaped beheadings of Americans and other captives – as well as its military successes inside Iraq – forced President Obama’s hand in committing U.S. forces to stop the Islamic State onslaught.

Obsessed with Assad

Still, America has long been bent on removing Assad from Syria. The coincidence of Islamic State and American interests in this regard is revealed in section 8.C of the DIA report: “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

So, the Islamic State’s advance into this region was consistent with American (and more to the point, Israeli and Saudi) interests because these Sunni extremists would block the supply lines from Iran to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Thus, initially at least, the U.S. government acquiesced to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front taking the lead in damaging or destroying Iran’s allies in Syria.

And Iran suspected as much. According to Iran expert Trita Parsi, the Iranians believed that the initial relaxed approach by the U.S. government toward the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front was because those militants were the point of the spear against pro-Iranian Shiite influences in not only Syria but Iraq and Lebanon as well.

So, the Saudi government provided the “clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region,” according to a leaked Hillary Clinton email on Sept. 17, 2014.

Less than a month later, on Oct. 2, 2014, Vice President Biden told a seminar at Harvard’s Kennedy School that “the Saudis, the emirates … poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis.”

The DIA report also named the Gulf States as among the “supporting powers” of the Syrian opposition. And at a May 2015 meeting between President Obama and the Princes of the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “Obama and other US officials urged Gulf leaders who are funding the opposition to keep control of their clients, so that a post-Assad regime isn’t controlled by extremists from the Islamic State or al-Qaeda.”

However, with the Israel lobby redirecting Official Washington’s ire toward Iran, more political space was created for these Saudi-connected terror groups to carry out the regime change missions in Syria and elsewhere.

And Israel didn’t just prefer a victory in Syria by the extremists of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. United Nations observers in the Golan Heights reported witnessing cooperation between Israel and Syrian rebels, and Israel has frequently bombed Syrian targets (and here and here).

Netanyahu also reported that Israel has hit Hezbollah forces fighting against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Syria dozens of times. Recently, it has been revealed that Israel also provided funding, food and fuel to Syrian rebels fighting Assad.

Lebanon’s Crisis

But the Syrian “regime change” strategy didn’t work. With help from Iran and Hezbollah and Russia’s intervention in 2015, Assad and his army not only survived but routed the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra and other jihadists from major urban strongholds. Instead of Iran losing an ally in the region, Iran emerged with a stronger alliance and greater influence.

This setback, however, has not changed the Israeli-Saudi priorities; it has only made them more intense. As the outcome in Syria became more apparent, the anti-Iran gun sight pivoted to Lebanon. The recent confusing events in Lebanon, like the earlier ones in Syria, are best made sense of by looking through the gun barrel that is targeted on Iran.

On Nov. 4, after being summoned to Saudi Arabia, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri unexpectedly and mysteriously resigned. Hariri’s resignation came just one day after a meeting in Beirut with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, that was reportedly very positive. Velayati praised Hariri and reaffirmed Iran’s support for his coalition government.

Yet, a day later, speaking from Saudi Arabia, Hariri claimed his resignation was catalyzed by fear of an Iranian-Hezbollah assassination. But the Lebanese army said “it had not uncovered any plans for assassinations in Lebanon.” Neither had the army. So, why resign?

The clue may be provided by Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan, who expressed Saudi Arabia’s desire for “toppling Hizbullah.” He promised that “The coming developments will definitely be astonishing.” He said the desire was not just his own, and that people “will see what will happen in the coming days.”

The Saudis said Hariri resigned because Hezbollah had “hijacked” his coalition government. Al-Sabhan called Hezbollah “the Party of Satan.”

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, said that the resignation was “imposed on Prime Minister Hariri” by the Saudis. Nasrallah said Hezbollah did not want Hariri to resign, having been a part of Hariri’s coalition government for almost a year. Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, seemed to share Nasrallah’s suspicion, insisting that he would not accept Hariri’s resignation until Hariri returned to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia because his “resignation must be voluntary.”

In Lebanon, there was the suspicion that Hariri was held under house arrest. On Nov. 10, President Aoun told a meeting of foreign ambassadors that Hariri had been “kidnapped.”

Now, having finally returned to Lebanon after a French intervention brought him to Paris, Hariri met with President Aoun who asked him “to temporarily suspend submitting [his resignation] and to put it on hold ahead of further consultations on the reasons for it.” Hariri agreed.

Israel seems to have applauded Saudi Arabia’s Lebanese action and reaffirmed the Iranian motivation behind it. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and his statements are a wake-up call for the international community to act against Iranian aggression.”

Netanyahu also made a rare public acknowledgement of the Israeli-Saudi alliance when he said that Iran was driving Israel into cooperative arrangements with what he called “the modern Sunni states,” referring to “a new alliance between Israel and Islamic states.” According to reporting by Israel’s Channel 10, a leaked classified cable from the Israeli foreign ministry to Israeli ambassadors reveals that Israel ordered them to support Saudi Arabia’s efforts and to rally support for Hariri’s resignation.

Iran has also suggested that President Trump and the United States approve of this Lebanese intervention. The resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister came days after Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner visited Saudi Arabia on a trip that was not made known publicly.

Yemen’s Tragedy

While this new alliance took aim at Iran by targeting Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, it also has targeted a Shiite spin-off sect, the Houthis in Yemen. Since 2015, the Saudis have been bombing and blockading Yemen, the Middle East’s poorest country. But on Nov. 5, Saudi Arabia expressed outrage after intercepting a ballistic missile fired by Houthi forces in Yemen toward Riyadh. The Saudis accused Iran of providing the missile and ordering the attack – and called this an “act of war” by Iran and Hezbollah.

General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, called the charge against Iran “baseless,” as did Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo. Even Saudi officials were calling the missile a Yemeni Burqan 2H missile when it was intercepted. The Houthis said they fired the missile in response to the long-running Saudi bombardment that included a recent attack that killed 26 people.

Despite these denials of Iranian responsibility and the context of Saudi Arabia’s air war, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Nikki Haley called on the U.N. to hold Iran accountable for violating U.N. Security Council resolutions by supplying the missile. She called on the U.N. to take “necessary action” against Iran.

The U.S. government has consistently rationalized the Saudi bombardment of Yemen as necessary to thwart Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf. U.S. accusations about Iran allegedly supplying the Houthis with weapons hang precariously on an “assessment” that Iran has used fishing boats to smuggle weapons into Yemen.

However, according to investigative journalist Gareth Porter, the U.S. was never able to produce any evidence for the link between Iran and the Houthis because the boats were stateless, and their destination was Somalia, not Yemen. An earlier ship was, indeed, Iranian but was not really carrying any weapons.

The Houthis also are allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who maintains control over the army, so the Houthis could get all the weapons they need from local arms supplies, including military bases stocked with American-made weapons.

And just as Iran does not substantially arm the Houthis, so it does not control them. In fact, they have proven to be beyond Tehran’s efforts to influence them. In 2014, the Iranians specifically discouraged the Houthis from capturing the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. However, the Houthis captured the city anyway, demonstrating Iran’s lack of control.

A U.S. intelligence official told The Huffington Post that “It is wrong to think of the Houthis as a proxy force for Iran.” Yemen specialist Gabriele vom Bruck has called Iran’s influence over the Houthis “trivial.” She said the Houthis want to be independent, not controlled by Iran: “I don’t think the Iranians have influence in their decision-making.” To the extent that Iran is involved in Yemen at all, that involvement came as a result of the devastating Saudi air war.

Dating back to the Obama administration, the U.S. government has made the Saudi aerial bombardment of Yemen possibleThe U.S. refuels the Saudi bombers in flight, supplies the bombs and provides targeting intelligence.

This U.S. complicity in what is widely regarded as a humanitarian catastrophe has continued into the Trump administration. A White House statement as recently as Nov. 24 reaffirmed U.S. support for Saudi Arabia, declaring: “We remain committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression and blatant violations of international law. Backed by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Houthi rebels have used destabilizing missile systems to target Saudi Arabia.”

The statement again reveals, not only the alliance with Saudi Arabia and the silence about its devastating bombing attacks, but the strategy of turning Yemen’s human tragedy into another excuse to blame Iran. The Iranian foreign ministry said the White House statement “clearly and without question proves America’s participation and responsibility in the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen”.

Bahrain & Qatar

Washington’s Saudi-Israeli-supplied blinders on the Middle East carry over to other regional conflicts, too. For instance, in 2011, protesters in Bahrain demanded a true constitutional monarchy, the resignation of the Prime Minister, greater civil liberties and a real elected parliament. Though Bahrain has a parliament, it is actually governed by the U.S.-backed dictator, King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, whose family has ruled Bahrain for over 200 years. The prime minister, the king’s uncle, is the longest reigning prime minister in the world, in power now for nearly 40 years.

Bahrain’s population is about 70 percent Shiite, though the ruling family, the government, the army and the police are all Sunni. The Shia have long been victims of discrimination. And the government maintains its control through repression, including the use of torture. Bahrain is located between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran and is seen by the U.S. as a strategically located check on Iranian influence and power.

Though the Obama administration touted itself as a big proponent of the “Arab Spring” and its promised democratization, Washington sided with the Bahraini dictators against the majority of the Bahraini people.

Days after mass arrests and beatings of protesters, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, went through with his planned visit to Bahrain where he reaffirmed the U.S.’s strong commitment to its military relationship with Bahrain and called Bahrain’s response to the protests “very measured.” Mullen stressed the U.S.-Bahrain “partnership” and “friendship.”

On the same day, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also gave full support to the Khalifa dictatorship. The U.S. continued to support the regime and to call for “stability” and “reform”: two words that are code for standing by dictatorships.

To help put down the protests in Bahrain, 1,000 Saudi troops invaded Bahrain across a causeway that connects the countries. The Obama administration remained silent.

Qatar also has suffered under the new Saudi-Israeli alliance because Qatar has pursued a more independent foreign policy than Saudi Arabia likes and now faces a Saudi-led siege as a consequence. Former British diplomat Alastair Crooke explained that Qatar’s principal sin is seeking peaceful coexistence with Iran.

When Washington asked Saudi Arabia to make reasonable proposals for the termination of the siege, Saudi Arabia included the demand that Qatar break all ties with Iran.

In other words, many of the most important events of the past several years are best explained as attempts to weaken Iran by weakening its proxies or allies or by setting up situations that appear to implicate Iran to justify hostility toward Iran.

A problem, however, has been that the major terrorist groups that have infuriated the American public are not Iranian-linked Shiites but rather Saudi-connected fundamentalist Sunnis. Still, the claim that “Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism” has become a rote and routine refrain from both Republicans and Democrats – as well as the U.S. mainstream media.

Much as Russia now gets blamed for every negative turn in Western democracies, Iran is the all-purpose villain whenever anything goes wrong in the Middle East. Yet, to understand these conflicts and crises, it is best to view them through the perspective of the hostility that the Saudi-Israeli alliance directs toward Iran and the acquiescence of U.S. governments, regardless of which party is in power.

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rituals Under Scrutiny Once Again

By Gilad Atzmon | November 29, 2017

The ultra Zionist settler outlet Israel National News reported yesterday that “Russian Jews slam ‘anti-Semitic myth’ that the country’s last tsar  “was murdered by Jews for ritual purposes.”

Marina Molodtsova, a senior investigator for a special ministerial committee on the 1917 slaying of Nicholas II of Russia, said on Monday during a conference in Moscow that her committee will conduct “a psycho-historical examination” to find out whether the execution of the royal family was a ritual murder.

At the same event, Father Tikhon Shevkunov, a Russian Orthodox Church bishop, said that, according to “the most rigorous approach to the version of ritual murder, a significant part of the church commission [on Nicholas II’s killing during the Russian revolution of 1917] has no doubt that this murder was ritual.”

Far from being surprising the Jews are upset. “The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, a Chabad-affiliated group with more than 100 affiliated communities across Russia, called the suggestions a “shocking expression of an anti-Semitic myth” in a statement Monday.”

Interestingly enough, the Jewish bodies are not upset by the verdict of the committee; they are actually distressed by the idea that the Russians decided to look into their past.

“We all think of this as absolutely unacceptable,” the federation’s spokesperson, Boruch Gorin, lamented, and “shocked first and foremost by the sheer absurdity of the allegations.”

The Israeli outlet reports that, “claims that Nicholas was killed by Jews for ritual purposes had been limited before the conference to a fringe of zealous anti-Semites and promoters of unsophisticated conspiracy theories.” Seemingly, this is not the case anymore.

Israel National News explains, “amid rising nationalism and nostalgia for Tsarist times in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, a Russian court in 2010 ordered prosecutors to reopen an investigation into the murder of the Tsar and his family.”

I obviously have no opinion on the nature of the execution of the Tsar and his family. Like others I am looking forward to learning more, and will wait patiently for the investigating committee to deliver its study of the event. However, it is worth mentioning that not one historian questions the dominance of Jews within the Bolshevik revolution and the early communist leadership.  Not many scholars of the era question the embarrassing fact that “Stalin’s Jews” as Israeli prominent writer Sever Plocker names them, were “some of (the) greatest murderers of modern times”

Spokesman Boruch Gorin, who is also a senior aide to Berel Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia, told Israel National News that, “Nicholas II’s killers were obviously committed atheists who rejected any belief in any force – except their own”. However, the blaming of Jews for the Tsar’s death is “an absolutely anti-Semitic myth used in anti-Semitic propaganda for several decades, which is why the Jews view this with great concern.”

I will make an effort to educate Gorin.  Since the European Jewish emancipation, Jews are drifting away from Judaism and their means of identification are varied. As a matter of fact, Judaism is, by now, just one Jewish religion amongst many. The Holocaust seems to be the most popular Jewish religion. Atheism is also a popular Jewish religion. Human Rights is a widespread Jewish religion, however, not as popular as Zionism.

Jewish religions are diverse and often contradict each other. But they have one thing in common– they all facilitate a sense of choseness – a clear vision of Jewish exceptionalism. Jewish religions all adhere to the strong belief in ‘The Jew.’ The Zionists who murdered Palestine were atheists. They adhered to the peculiar belief that Jews can celebrate their national aspirations at the expense of another people. They believed and still believe in their righteous cause. The many Jews who adhere to the Holocaust religion also believe in ‘The Jew,’ the one who, against all odds, survived the ashes,  reinstated his/her power by means of national salvation. The ‘atheist’ Bolsheviks were no different; they believed themselves to be ‘better’ because they believed in equality. This force alone made them into a genocidal cult with no precedent in human history.

Were these Bolsheviks engaged in ritual killing? This is indeed a deep question with many aspects and layers.  We will have to wait and see what the Russian committee has to say about it. However, the fact that Russian Jewish bodies are in  a state of turmoil may as well be revealing.

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Former Palestinian prisoner Omar Nazzal publishing new book

Photo: Omar Nazzal (l)
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – November 23, 2017

Palestinian journalist and former prisoner Omar Nazzal has written a new book, “Between Sarajevo and Etzion,” published by Dar Fafasat under the auspices of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs Commission. The book includes images and stories from Nazzal’s time in administrative detention in 2016; he was imprisoned for 10 months through hunger strikes and protests within the prison after being seized by Israeli occupation forces as he traveled to attend the European Federation of Journalists’ conference in Sarajevo.

The arrest of Nazzal, a member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and President of the Association of Democratic Journalists, sparked international protest, yet his imprisonment without charge or trial was renewed on multiple occasions. He was previously jailed in 1978 and 1988 and held in administrative detention without charge or trial; in 1986, Nazzal was held under house arrest for six months.

Issa Qaraqe, head of the Prisoners Affairs Commission, said that the book exemplifies the prisoners’ resistance to all attempts to destroy their will, spirit and national identity. A launch for the book will take place in Ramallah on Sunday, 26 November.

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment