Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Future of JCPOA In Hands of GOP Indebted To Billionaire Iran Hawks

By Eli Clifton | LobeLog | October 19, 2017

President Donald Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), appears to have fallen in line with the views espoused by several of his top donors. These funders believe that Iran poses an apocalyptic threat only addressable through military action, including the use of nuclear weapons.

Two years ago, every Republican in Congress opposed the JCPOA. With the future of the agreement now in the hands of a GOP-controlled House and Senate, those same billionaire Iran hawks may hold a powerful influence over any Republican lawmaker contemplating voting against legislation designed to harm the JCPOA.

Indeed, the influence of these key donors—Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, and Paul Singer—over U.S. foreign policy, particularly with regards to Iran, doesn’t stop at the White House, where combined they contributed over $40 million to various pro-Trump political groups and causes.

Those three donors also contributed $65 million at the congressional level. That represents nearly half of the individual contributions made to the Senate Leadership Fund (CLF) and Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), Super PACs dedicated to maintaining Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Those contributions provide a considerable incentive for Hill Republicans to stake out a hawkish position on the JCPOA.

Trump’s decision to punt the decision to Congress about whether to reimpose sanctions or attempt to unilaterally rewrite the JCPOA, a multilateral agreement, threatens to unravel the nuclear deal and/or put the U.S. into noncompliance with the accord.

Republican members of Congress owe a great deal to the CLF and the SLF. In the 2016 election cycle the two GOP Super PACs were some of the biggest sources of independent expenditures in House and Senate races. The SLF was the biggest spender in the 2016 election cycle after Priorities USA Action (a Hillary Clinton-supporting Super PAC) and Right to Rise USA (a Jeb Bush-supporting Super PAC).

The CLF raised $50 million in individual contributions and the SLF raised $90 million in individual contributions in the past election cycle. That is in no small part thanks to Adelson, Marcus, and Singer, three of the Republican Party’s biggest donors. They also provide millions in funding to hawkish think tanks like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which regularly promotes military intervention against Iran. Adelson and Marcus, in particular, have been outspoken in their opposition to the JCPOA and expressing their extreme hostility toward Iran.

Adelson, who actually suggested firing a nuclear weapon at Iran as a negotiating tactic, alongside his wife, Miriam, are the biggest overall donors to both the CLF and SLF as well as Trump’s largest campaign donor. They contributed $20 million to the CLF and $35 million to the SLF. Adelson, via John Bolton, may have helped inject language into Trump’s speech last week decertifying the JCPOA. Politico reported (my emphasis):

The line was added to Trump’s speech after Bolton, despite Kelly’s recent edict [limiting Bolton’s access to Trump], reached the president by phone on Thursday afternoon from Las Vegas, where Bolton was visiting with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. Bolton urged Trump to include a line in his remarks noting that he reserved the right to scrap the agreement entirely, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

Trump wound up saying that the agreement “is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.” Bolton declined to comment on any conversation with the president.

Singer, who was the second largest source of funds supporting Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) campaign, contributed $1.9 million to the CLF and $6 million to the SLF.

Cotton, an outspoken critic of the Iran deal and proponent of pursuing a regime-change strategy in Iran, reportedly advised the White House on decertifying the agreement. He is the cosponsor of legislation that would institute automatic reinstatement of sanctions if Iran comes within a year of a nuclear weapons capability and eliminates the JCPOA’s sunset clauses, effectively rewriting the agreement and potentially putting the U.S. in violation of the accord.

Marcus contributed $500,000 to the CLF and $2 million to the SLF. He is Trump’s second biggest campaign donor after the Adelsons and contributes tens of millions of dollars to FDD and other groups opposing the JCPOA.

In a 2015 Fox Business interview, he compared the JCPOA to “do[ing] business with the devil” and, in case he wasn’t clear about who “the devil” was in his metaphor, clarified “I think Iran is the devil.”

Adelson, Singer, and Marcus’s combined contributions account for 44% of individual contributions received by the CLF and 47% of those received by the SLF. Marcus and Singer are already spending on the SLF for the 2018 cycle. Singer contributed $1 million and Marcus contributed $2 million, providing over a quarter of the $11.13 million the Super PAC has raised for the coming election.

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Did BBC team responsible for faked footage of Syrian chemical attack travel under terrorist protection?

 By Catte | OffGuardian | January 6, 2018

Most of our readers are now more than familiar with the bizarre events surrounding the BBC Panorama program Saving Syria’s Children. We’ve already returned to this story several times. The possibility that this program presented faked footage of a non-existent chemical attack by government troops on a school in Syria has been meticulously documented by independent researcher Robert Stuart over several years.

But a further twist to the story seems to show that the crew who filmed this questionable footage were being escorted and protected during their sojourn in Syria, by members of a jihadist terrorist group affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The evidence, on the face of it, seems damning.

Ten minutes, 18 seconds into the program (which can be seen here) the film crew record a car journey, with the two British doctors featured in the program, to “see what medical care is available for children closer to where the fighting is”. At one point the journalist Ian Pannell can be heard in voice over saying:

Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security. The doctors are able to be more low key and take their own vehicles.

As he speaks we see Pannell himself, presumably filmed by his cameraman Darren Conway, in a car, part of a convoy, accompanied by armed men. We also see the hood of one of the cars in the convoy several times and pretty clearly. It has a logo on it. This is it:

The inset on the right is the logo of Ahrar-al-Sham.

In case you’re wondering, this is the same Ahrar-al-Sham identified by a Human Rights Watch report in October 2013 as participants in the killing of women and children (see “You Can Still See Their Blood” – Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside.). The report details the slaughter of nearly 200 civilians “including 57 women and at least 18 children and 14 elderly men” by opposition forces including Ahrar al-Sham on August 4 2013.

It was just 19 days after this massacre – on August 23 – that Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway (now an OBE) apparently decided Ahrar-al-Sham were the go-to ’security’ guys for them. The documentary further shows Pannell, Conway and their chums being waved through ISIS road blocks without a hitch. This is the same ISIS who – allegedly – had declared war on all westerners and were prone to cutting off their heads (though in 2013 this hadn’t become the media meme it later became). Our boys are apparently welcome deep in ISIS territory, with no worries about repercussions.

This is probably explained by the fact Ahrar-al-Sham, according to Stanford University’s Mapping Militant Program, “worked with the Islamic State (IS) until January 2014″.

But maybe the contact with terrorists was fleeting and almost accidental? Well, below are two images that tell a story. The top one is a screencap from Saving Syria’s Children. The man outlined in red is the “Fixer/Translator” for the program, Mughira Al-Sharif, and he is shown driving Pannell’s convoy car (Pannell himself can be seen second from right next to the window in the back). Mughira is seen again in the bottom image in a photograph taken the same day and shared on Instagram. Also with him in this pic, and looking remarkably chummy, are two members of the Ahrar-al-Sham security detail who can be seen in Pannell’s car. Mughira described these men in his Instagram post as ‘friends’. That post was subsequently deleted.

(Above) Fixer/Translator Mughira Al-Sharif driving Ian Pannell’s convoy saloon car in Saving Syria’s Children. Pannell is second from right. (Below) Al Sharif poses with two of the Ahrar al-Sham men in an Instagram post of the same day, describing them as “friends”. The post was subsequently deleted.

Let’s be clear – these “friends’ of Mughira’s could well have taken part in the recent slaughter discussed above, and must, at very least, be assumed to support the mass murder of innocent people. And this man Mughira is employed by Pannell as his guide and helper in making their documentary.

Why are a supposedly distinguished and professional BBC journalist and his crew working with allies of ISIS? Why are they using them as their ‘security’? Why are they comfortable tooling round Syria in a car festooned with jihadist logos? Why did they end up producing a documentary using highly questionable footage to promote UK intervention against the elected government of Syria?

Did neither they nor their employers at the BBC realise what they were doing?

Or did they know and think it was just dandy?

When is the BBC – and Ian Pannell and Darren Conway(OBE) – going to answer these and the many other questions hanging over this program and their credibility?

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

What It’s Like to have Your Home Tear Gassed

Renee Lewis | 29/1/10

While preparing to interview the Tamimi family in their home during the Nabi Saleh’s weekly protest, a teargas grenade came flying through the window, breaking the glass, and landing in the middle of the living room.

The IDF then sprayed Skunk water on the outside of the house, including the exits, and we were all trapped inside. There were about a dozen small children in the home at the time.

We all choked on the tear gas, the children were terrified and in shock, the parents couldn’t do anything to protect their kids.

Eventually, a Palestinian ambulance arrived and put a ladder up to the second-storey window – at which point the terrified kids had to climb out.

It was not the first time the IDF had shot tear gas into the Tamimi home – they were known organizers of the weekly protests against the Israeli settlers who were illegally annexing Nabi Saleh village land.

December 2017 Update: Since then, Ahed Tamimi, a relative, has made international headlines for fighting back against Israeli soldiers invading her village, Nabi Saleh. A day after a video of Ahed slapping a soldier after her cousin was shot in the face by the army went viral, Ahed was arrested by the Israeli army. It’s not known how long she will be in jail. She is 16 years old.

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | January 5, 2018

This apparently is the sort of thing the young Ahed Tamimi grew up with. A little bit about the history of the Tamimi family is included in a post published today at Truthout :

In 2011, Ahed Tamimi was 10-years-old when Israeli soldiers arrested her father and charged him with the crime of organizing weekly demonstrations in their village to oppose the theft of its land for the benefit of a neighboring Israeli settlement. It would be 13 months before he was released and she would see her father again.

That same year, Israeli soldiers shot Mustafa Tamimi, Ahed’s 28-year-old cousin, in the face with a high velocity tear gas canister. Half of Mustafa’s face was destroyed. He passed away the next morning at the hospital.

The following year, when Ahed was 11 years old, Israeli soldiers shot her uncle, Rushdi Tamimi, in his lower back with live ammunition. The bullet lodged in his stomach and he died the next morning in the hospital.

Ahed was 13 when Israeli soldiers shot her mother, Nariman Tamimi, in the leg with a 22-caliber bullet. Ahed stood by, crying in the arms of her father, as her mother was placed in the back of an ambulance. Her mother had to rely on crutches for a number of years until she regained use of her legs.

None of this history, however, is mentioned in a commentary published January 5 by the supposedly liberal Haaretz. Instead, the writer of that piece, one Petra Marquardt-Bigman, accuses the Tamimi family of “fanatacism” as well as “Jew-hatred and enthusiastic support for terrorism.” A subheading above the article even reads, somewhat disturbingly:

Promote the blood libel? Check. Glorify terrorism? Check. Celebrate Israeli deaths? Check. Ahed Tamimi and her family aren’t fighting for peace, and they’re not just fighting the occupation: They’re fighting to destroy Israel, and their fight is seasoned with Jew-hatred

The Tamimis, including 16-year-old Ahed, are being accused of “blood libel” now–and outside of the one brief reference to the occupation contained in the subhead, Marquardt-Bigman makes no mention whatsoever of Israel’s 50-year-old occupation of Nabi Saleh and the rest of the West Bank until the very last paragraph of her commentary–where she writes:

Even if the Tamimis were only fighting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, their fanaticism wouldn’t bode well for any peace agreement. But the Tamimis never wanted a peace agreement. They have always wanted the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state.

Update:

Tamimi family member was Israel’s first victim of 2018:

Full article

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Think Tank-Addicted Media Turn to Regime Change Enthusiasts for Iran Protest Commentary

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | January 5, 2018

Since the outbreak of mass demonstrations and unrest in Iran last week, US media have mostly busied themselves with the question of not if we should “do something,” but what, exactly, that something should be. As usual, it’s simply taken for granted the United States has a divine right to intervene in the affairs of Iran, under the vague blanket of “human rights” and “democracy promotion.” (The rare exception, such as an op-ed by ex-Obama official Philip Gordon—New York Times, 12/30/17—still accepted the premise of regime change: “I, too, want to see the government in Tehran weakened, moderated or even removed.”) With this axiom firmly established in Very Serious foreign policy circles, the next question becomes the nature, degree and scope of the “something” being done.

Leading the pack in the “do something” insta-consensus was the right-wing pro-Israel think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has overwhelmed the narrative. In the past five days, FDD has had op-eds in influential US outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post and Politico, and has been quoted in a dozen more. Its punditry was marked by cynical “support” for Iranian protesters, demagoguing of the Iranian “regime” and disgust with the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal.

The scrapping of JCPOA has been the primary political charge of FDD for years, and it seems to see the recent unrest in Iran—and any subsequent crackdown—as the thin moral pretext it needs to justify snuffing out a treaty it’s long opposed. Thus FDD has eagerly jumped on the unrest, painting itself as the sigh of the oppressed.

Op-eds written or co-written by FDD staff in the past five days:

  • “Iran’s Theocracy Is on the Brink” (Mark Dubowitz/Ray Takeyh, Wall Street Journal, 1/1/18)
  • “Where We Can Agree on Iran” (Mark Dubowitz/Daniel Shapiro, Politico, 1/1/18)
  • “Eruption in Iran: And It’s Not Just the Economy, Stupid” (Clifford D. May, Washington Times, 1/2/18)
  • “The Worst Thing for Iran’s Protesters? US Silence” (Reuehl Marc Gerecht, New York Times, 1/2/18)
  • “What Washington Can Do to Support Iran’s Protesters” (Richard Goldberg/Jamie Fly, New York Post, 1/2/18)

A sampling of quotes by FDD staff in news reporting:

  • “Since Rouhani entered office, he has managed to inflate expectations with lofty rhetoric but has actually done little to change the reality of life on the ground in Iran,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.” (Washington Post, 12/30/17)
  • “‘Western governments should make it clear that the regime will be held responsible and will pay a price for any bloodshed,’ Mr. Dubowitz said.” (Wall Street Journal, 1/1/18)
  • “‘[Trump’s] not going to want to waive sanctions and keep money flowing to dictators when there are people protesting in the streets,’ said Richard Goldberg, a former Senate Republican aide who helped design Iran sanctions and is now a senior adviser at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” (Politico, 1/2/18)
  • “‘If there is a bipartisan bill that is ready for congressional action, that would go a long way toward persuading the president to issue the waivers,’ said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. ‘If there’s not, what’s happening in Iran will give the president all the more reason to say, “I’ve had it with this deal.”’” (New York Times, 1/2/18)

FDD op-eds and quotes followed a similar formula: express outrage on behalf of the protesters, applaud Trump for his hypocritical defense of the right to protest, and push for increased sanctions against Iran—often while taking a swipe at the hated Iran deal.

FDD’s pro-Iranian people posture was rarely accompanied by an explanation of their ideological project. The outfit—funded by big-name pro-Israel billionaires like casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus (who’s said that “Iran is the devil”) and Wall Street speculator Paul Singer—are  largely presented as bespectacled academics calling balls and strikes without a particular agenda beyond their self-proclaimed “defense of democracies.” (The name ought to provoke some skepticism, given the group’s eagerness to enlist the hereditary dictatorship Saudi Arabia in its anti-Iranian crusade—LobeLog, 2/26/16.)

This problem is not unique to FDD; as FAIR (8/12/16) has noted before, the overreliance by the media on deeply conflicted think tanks that present as neutral but are, in reality, glorified lobbyists for a political cause or corporate cohort misleads readers on an institutional scale. (In FDD’s case, it’s Israel’s right wing; for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, it’s weapons contractors—FAIR.org, 5/8/17, 7/17/17.)

FDD, it’s worth noting, also worked closely with the Trump administration and CIA to curate documents implicating Iran in the 9/11 attacks, as part of a broader anti-Iran strategy that rogue DoJ lawyers spelled out in November in leaks to the Washington Post (11/17/17; FAIR.org, 11/24/17).

Reuel Marc Gerecht

FDD’s Reuel Marc Gerecht has had stints at PNAC, AEI and the CIA

Occasionally, editors will note they are “conservative” or “hawkish,” but FDD is mostly presented as a quasi-academic and impartial observer. The average reader, for example, would probably be surprised to find out the FDD “fellow” expressing concern for The Iranian People™ in the Times, Reuel Marc Gerecht, has long joked about wanting to bomb these same Iranians. As Eli Clifton noted in LobeLog (1/4/18), in 2010 Gerecht quipped: “Counted up the other day: I’ve written about 25,000 words about bombing Iran. Even my mom thinks I’ve gone too far.”

Shouldn’t someone so self-admittedly obsessed with killing Iranians be disqualified from posing as their protector in a major US newspaper? Failing that, shouldn’t readers be alerted that Gerecht was the director in the late ’90s of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century—the most prominent advocacy group for the invasion of Iraq, a war that left 500,000 to a million dead?

Think tank addiction for overworked and often myopic reporters and editors has rendered such glaring questions unaskable. FDD are the “experts,” and the “experts” are needed to drive the bulk of commentary, regardless of their well-documented ulterior motives.

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Argentina: Milagro Sala Gets More Jail Time While Convicted Torturer Gets House Arrest

teleSUR – January 6, 2018

Just hours after 21 simultaneous raids on the home of Argentine Indigenous leader Milagro Sala, a provincial court ordered Friday a one-year extraordinary extension of her pre-trial detention. Sala is 21 days short of serving two years in prison.

The political leader is being investigated for alleged illicit association, fraud and extortion, crimes she was charged with days after being detained for allegedly instigating violence during a protest she didn’t attend.

Sala was initially arrested on Jan. 16, 2016 for an “escrache”, a form of protest that seeks to publicly shame someone by congregating around their homes, against the province governor of Jujuy, an ally of President Mauricio Macri. Shortly after on Jan. 29 of that same year Sala was cleared of the instigation charges, but the judge determined that she would remain in detention over new charges of illicit association, fraud and extortion, which she is currently facing.

According to Sala’s lawyer the main reason for the extension is that her defense presented “innumerable” appeals and nullities. “This lacks sense,” her lawyers contended because “everything presented is within the framework of the right to legal defence.”

The one-year extension is not the first arbitrary decision made by Jujuy’s judiciary. In October 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention qualified her detention as arbitrary, a decision backed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which urged Argentina’s government to release her.

The Organization of American States and human rights’ groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also demanded her immediate release to no avail.

Milagro Sala is a renowned activist who is seen as President Macri’s first political prisoner. She created the Organization Tupac Amaru, which provides housing and other services to informal workers and popular sectors, she served as an Argentine legislator between 2013 and 2015, and was later elected by the Front for Victory Party, led by former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, to Mercosur’s Parliament.

News of the one-year extension to Sala’s illegitimate imprisonment were accompanied by news of thousands of Argentines protesting the federal ruling that granted house arrest for convicted murderer and torturer Miguel Etchecolatz, who was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity when he worked as a top police officer under the brutal military dictatorship of the 1970s.

He is not the only one. According to Argentina’s Office of Crimes Against Humanity, 549 of people convicted for crimes against humanity in Argentina are currently under house arrest.

Social leaders and opponents of the current right wing government argue that in Macri’s Argentina social and political activists are repressed, prosecuted, and disappeared while those who repress and abuse their power are granted favors.

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment