Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP) say Prime Minister Theresa May must explain why Parliament was not told about a failed Trident missile test before a crucial vote on whether to renew Britain’s aging nuclear weapons program.
Downing Street confirmed on Monday morning that May knew about the malfunction before MPs voted on the system’s renewal.
A spokesperson said the incident occurred on former PM David Cameron’s watch, but admitted May had known about it.
The incident, in which a test fired missile veered towards the United States, was not reported until Sunday, but occurred only weeks before a key Commons vote on Trident renewal.
The spokesperson confirmed the crew of the nuclear submarine involved, HMS Vengeance, were “certified” to continue operating.
The vote went overwhelmingly in favor of renewal after May lobbied hard for the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
Almost immediately after Downing Street’s confession, a statement on behalf of David Cameron’s former media team denied any cover up had taken place.
A spokesman claimed it was “entirely false to suggest David Cameron’s media team covered up or tried to cover up the Trident missile test,” according to the Huffington Post.
The Cameron team also criticized claims of a cover-up made by defense committee chair Julian Lewis earlier on Monday.
“We are disappointed that Julian Lewis would make these claims with no evidence.”
Leading figures in both parties are set to use the incident, which occurred in June 2016 just weeks before a House of Commons vote on renewal, to attack the government. News of the missile malfunction only emerged on Sunday.
The SNP is committed to opposing it on the basis of safety and security, as the nuclear submarine fleet is based in Scotland.
The Labour leadership is opposed to nuclear weapons, but the majority of its parliamentary party is in favor of renewal.
SNP defense spokesman Brendan O’Hara told the BBC there are political and operational issues which must be addressed, but warned “this is not a national security issue.”
“The government can’t, as they love to do, hide behind the national security smokescreen. The public, who are paying over two hundred thousand million pounds [US$249 billion] for this renewal, have a right to know if it works or not,” O’Hara said.
Labour’s Shadow Defense Secretary Nia Griffiths said a full explanation is due, while Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said it is “extremely worrying” that parliament had not been informed of the incident.
Likewise former Labour Defense Minister Kevan Jones told Labour List, “If there are problems, they should not have been covered up in this ham-fisted way. Ministers should come clean if there are problems and there should an urgent inquiry into what happened.”
In a car-crash interview on Sunday with the BBC, May refused to disclose whether she knew about the incident ahead of the vote on Trident. MPs ruled in favor of renewal by 472 votes to 117.
Instead she opted to say she had complete faith in Trident and that she thought “we should defend our country,” with repeated references to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to Trident.
Senior military figures have also weighed in, with former head of the Royal Navy Lord West of Spithead writing in the Daily Mail that this had been a cover-up “worthy of North Korea.”
“The decision to withhold news last summer that a Trident missile test experienced some kind of problem – ironically, almost certainly minor – is both bizarre and spectacularly stupid,” West said in an opinion piece, urging Defense Secretary Michael Fallon to step up and explain.
Senior Tories have been attempting a fightback on the issue, with Business Minister Greg Clark telling Sky News “It’s been the long-standing policy not to comment on tests of weapons systems and, if that’s the approach that you take, I think we have to abide by that approach.”
This argument somewhat falls down on the fact that successful tests are regularly reported, including with video of the launches.
Tory head of the Defense Committee Julian Lewis said as much in his intervention early on Monday.
“This sort of event is one that you can’t play both ways … whenever they work, which is 99 percent of the time, films are released of them working,” he said.
Lewis said someone should be held to account for the decision.
“I always think with something like this it is better to lay it on the line … In the end you have always got to assume that something like this will come out,” Lewis said.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions have been anything but consistent. One day we heard that NATO was obsolete and the US needs to pursue better relations with Russia. But the next time he spoke, these sensible positions were abandoned or an opposite position was taken. Trump’s inconsistent rhetoric left us wondering exactly what kind of foreign policy he would pursue if elected.
The President’s inaugural speech was no different. On the one hand it was very encouraging when he said that under his Administration the US would “seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world,” and that he understands the “right of all nations to put their own interests first.” He sounded even better when he said that under Trump the US would “not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.” That truly would be a first step toward peace and prosperity.
However in the very next line he promised a worldwide war against not a country, but an ideology, when he said he would, “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.” This inconsistent and dangerous hawkishess will not defeat “radical Islamic terrorism,” but rather it will increase it. Terrorism is not a place, it is a tactic in reaction to invasion and occupation by outsiders, as Professor Robert Pape explained in his important book, Dying to Win.
The neocons repeat the lie that ISIS was formed because the US military pulled out of Iraq instead of continuing its occupation. But where was ISIS before the US attack on Iraq? Nowhere. ISIS was a reaction to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The same phenomenon has been repeated wherever US interventionist actions have destabilized countries and societies.
Radical Islamic terrorism is for the most part a reaction to foreign interventionism. It will never be defeated until this simple truth is understood.
We also heard reassuring reports that President Trump was planning a major shake-up of the US intelligence community. With a budget probably approaching $100 billion, the intelligence community is the secret arm of the US empire. The CIA and other US agencies subvert elections and overthrow governments overseas, while billions are spent spying on American citizens at home. Neither of these make us safer or more prosperous.
But all the talk about a major shake up at the CIA under Trump was quickly dispelled when the President visited the CIA on his first full working day in office. Did he tell them a new sheriff was in town and that they would face a major and long-overdue reform? No. He merely said he was with them “1000 percent.”
One reason Trump sounds so inconsistent in his policy positions is that he does not have a governing philosophy. He is not philosophically opposed to a US military empire so sometimes he sounds in favor of more war and sometimes he sounds like he opposes it. Will President Trump in this case be more influenced by those he has chosen to serve him in senior positions? We can hope not, judging from their hawkishness in recent Senate hearings. Trump cannot be for war and against war simultaneously. Let us hope that once the weight of the office settles on him he will understand that the prosperity he is promising can only come about through a consistently peaceful foreign policy.
VICENZA – About 1,000 protesters participated on Saturday in a demonstration against NATO bases and major infrastructure projects of the local authorities, such as construction of a motorway and a railway for high-speed trains, in the city of Vicenza, located in northeastern Italy.
According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, the march was headed by the No Dal Molin Movement, opposing a US airbase located in the north of the city. The protesters carried a huge banner, saying “Protection of land for the future without military bases.”
“Until the people do not mobilize, until they put pressure on the government to expel the US military from our territory, politicians will do nothing as they are not interested in it. Politicians should be forced to give us an answer, and now they do not want to do this at the moment,” one of the march’s organizers Francesco Pavin told RIA Novosti.
The demonstration was sanctioned by local authorities and was accompanied by a police escort.
There are a total of four NATO bases in the Vicenza area.
During his presidential campaign, US President Donald Trump repeatedly stated that the United States should decrease the support of other NATO member states and protect only those members of the alliance, who “fulfill their obligations” in respect to Washington.
Separate US drone attacks have killed four people in the southwestern Yemeni province of Bayda. The United States carries out drone attacks in Yemen and several other countries, claiming to be targeting al-Qaeda elements, but, local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks. The drone strikes in Yemen continue alongside the Saudi military aggression against the impoverished conflict-ridden country.
A radio host and political commentator says US drone strikes are “absolutely atrocious,” adding that Washington is directly involved in Yemen’s war when it is “actively dropping bombs” on the war-torn country.
“I do not think a lot of the people in the United States even realize that United States is actually bombing Yemen. They think that the United States is simply supplying arms to Saudi Arabia, but the fact is United States is actually in there bombing people themselves with these drone strikes,” Max Igan told Press TV in an interview on Sunday.
He noted that it is “pretty outrageous” and “terrible” that the drone strikes are going on at the time of US presidential transition.
The commentator further argued that if US President Donald Trump wants to deescalate the war on terror and try to bring about stability and peace to the Middle East, he should stop the drone strikes.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Igan criticized the Western media for not reporting anything about the war and the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.
“It is one of the most unreported wars that we have seen in modern history. Nobody really realizes what is going on there, we do not hear anything about it on the media … we are not hearing about this war and it is an ongoing human rights catastrophe. There are so many people suffering in Yemen, it is almost impossible to get aid to these people and the arms just keep getting poured in there and the bombs just keep getting dropped and the media is not reporting anything about it,” he said.
He concluded by saying that there needs to be some sort of an organization in the world that can do something to stop this ongoing onslaught of the Yemeni people.
I attended the women’s rights rally in Portland, Oregon, today to support women worldwide and urge Trump to end Obama and Hillary Clinton’s record weapons deals with the most repressive state for women in the world, the totalitarian dictatorship of Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, the Clinton state department organized the biggest weapons sale in US history. The sale was to strongman Abdullah Abdullaziz, who had women executed as punishment for being raped. The Kerry state department followed the deal with a sale of almost a billion dollars worth of illegal cluster bombs to the dictator. Obama approved both deals.
Bloomberg reports Clinton’s weapons sales to woman-oppressing dictators increased dramatically after the tyrants ‘donated’ to what Harper’s magazine calls the Clintons’ ‘slush fund’, the Clinton Foundation.
An unfortunate aspect of much of the current anti-Trump upheaval around the country is that similar actions were not undertaken when policies Democrats would or will oppose if Trump carries them out were not opposed by Democrats when Obama and Hillary Clinton performed them.
However, this is largely because the general public is kept ignorant of most of these policies. Such actions, Dr. Chalmers Johnson has noted, are “kept secret” from the US-American public.
Respected analysts this week highlighted the disparity between Obama’s treatment in the neoliberal press and his actual record.
John Pilger quotes a typically sycophantic example of a description of Obama, this one from The Guardian:
“But the grace. The all-encompassing grace: in manner and form, in argument and intellect, with humour and cool … [He] is a blazing tribute to what has been, and what can be again … He seems ready to keep fighting, and remains a formidable champion to have on our side … The grace … the almost surreal levels of grace …”
Nicolas J S Davies outlines the reality: Obama, whose political career has been sponsored by, among many other similar elements, lethal weapons manufacturer General Dynamics, “has increased U.S. military spending beyond the post-World War II record set by President George W. Bush. Now that Obama has signed the military budget for FY2017, the final record is that Obama has spent an average of $653.6 billion per year, outstripping Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year (in 2016 dollars).
In historical terms, after adjusting for inflation, Obama’s military spending has been 56 percent higher than Clinton’s, 16 percent higher than Reagan’s, and 42 percent more than the U.S. Cold War average…”
Under Obama, “… the U.S. and its allies dropped 20,000 bombs and missiles in his first term. In his second term, they have dropped four times that number, bringing the total for Obama’s presidency to over 100,000 bombs and missiles striking seven countries, surpassing the 70,000 unleashed on five countries by George W. Bush.”
Pilger notes Obama ordered an average of 72 explosive devices to be planted and detonated every day in 2016.
Davies continues that Obama has used the US’s Central American model of favoring proxy-armies and death-squads over sending in US troops, and has thus provided arms and ignited and fueled conflicts that have killed hundreds of thousands around the world.
But the strategy has also included “a massive expansion of U.S. special operations forces, now deployed to 138 different countries, compared with only 60 when Obama took office.”
Pilger notes this “amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa.”
Highlighting what these US operations and hegemonic expansion mysteriously achieve, Oxfam this week released a report noting that about 8 people now control as much wealth as half the world’s population. This is down from 16 people within the past year or so, and around 70 people before that.
Within the US, while thousands of the poorest people in places like Detroit had their water turned off in violation of the universal declaration of human rights, Obama allocated a trillion dollars to the nuclear arsenal, in violation of legal obligations and agreements.
And while he has refused to prosecute torturers and war criminals from the Bush Jr. regime (let alone his own), he has waged a campaign of persecution against those who have exposed torture and war crimes.
Amnesty International and other groups note a highlight of Obama’s presidency was his recent commutation of the sentence of US political prisoner Chelsea Manning, who released documents exposing some US war crimes. But the commutation came after an offer from another, higher-value whistle-blower and political prisoner, Julian Assange, to accept extradition to the US in exchange for clemency for Manning.
Others note Obama has deported millions of people and increased military aid to human rights violators like Israel and Saudi Arabia more than any other president.
While at least some Democrats would express opposition to these actions if they were performed by Trump, this cannot necessarily be called hypocrisy, since the US and Western propaganda model (corporations dumping billions into favored media outlets to overwhelm the market) prevents the vast majority of them from knowing Obama undertook the actions himself.
This is not new. Similar demonstrations expressing disgust were carried out by Democrats and others during the inauguration of Bush Jr., but not in opposition to policies carried out by Clinton such as his genocide in Iraq that killed some 500,000 children, his support for terrorist Paul Kagame in Rwanda, which has contributed to the deaths of millions, or Clinton’s aggression against Yugoslavia.
Continuing to illustrate how these and other crimes are “kept secret” from or distorted for the US and Western public, Reuters this week said the US/NATO aggression against Yugoslavia was carried out in response to Serbia “killing about 10,000 ethnic Albanian civilians there.”
But Noam Chomsky and other US/Western propaganda analysts note that according to the West’s own monitors, including the British Parliamentary inquiry into the matter, this is a reversal of the chronology.
In the year before the US/NATO attack, about 2,000 people were killed due the conflict in Yugoslavia, with more killings attributed to the KLA – the terrorist-integrated guerilla force backed by the US and Western countries – than to the Serbs. Before the US/NATO attack, the killings had mostly subsided, but the KLA continued to carry out provocations to, as it stated, try to instigate NATO intervention on its behalf.
Wesley Clarke, the NATO commander at the time, said bombing Yugoslavia would cause more deaths and atrocities than would occur without Western bombing. Others agreed, but, with Hillary Clinton’s urging, Bill Clinton began bombing the country, leading to the “about” 10,000 deaths Reuters this week says the bombing was a response to.
The Reuters article also mysteriously fails to mention that if the US had intervened to prevent atrocities, it would not have been supporting what Dr. Michael Parenti, in a book on the topic written under the supervision of Balkan experts, notes were worse atrocities carried out by Turkey (against the Kurds) and other regimes around the world.
Through countless similar distortions and omissions, the US/Western propaganda model thus continues to keep Democrats uninformed and thus complacent or supportive of politicians who carry out actions Democrats sometimes vehemently oppose when the same actions are planned or carried out by Republicans.
Comparable dynamics are also true in reverse.
Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.
The British press are in full hysteria propaganda mode when it comes to demonising our new greatest threat on planet earth; not climate change, a global pandemic, international terrorism, or America’s new foe in the South China Sea – but Russia.
The Telegraph 31/12/16: “Systemic, relentless, predatory’ Russian cyber threat to US power grid exposed as malware found on major electricity company computer.”
The Independent 13/12/16: “Highly probable Russian interfered with Brexit referendum.”
The Express 15/01/17: “Russians forcing RAF to abort missions in Syria by ‘hacking into’ their systems”
The Guardian 14/01/17: “Senior British politicians ‘targeted by Kremlin’ for smear campaigns”
In all of these newspaper reports, and there are plenty more of them, not a single scrap of actual evidence other than hearsay is published. In the case of the Express story, it’s allegations are backed up with the statement “It is entirely feasible that Russia has targeted Tornadoes and Typhoons in this way,” said air defence expert Justin Bronk, of the Royal United Services Institute think-tank.” This is not evidence.
In the case of the Telegraph, this fairy-tail has been 100% debunked as pure propaganda and the original report from the Washington Post ended with a full-on apology by its editor. The Telegraph has printed no such amendment or apology for its totally fictitious article.
The Guardian’s headline is pure misinformation as it’s sole point of evidence is an MP (Chris Bryant), explaining that incumbent Foreign Office ministers could not speak out on the (Russian hacking) issue because of security connotations, and said: “Any minister who goes into the Foreign Office and has responsibility for Russia, they [Moscow] will be, in any shape or form, trying to put together information about them.” As if to strengthen the ‘evidence’, Bryant says he is “absolutely certain that Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Alan Duncan who has the Russia brief, and [Brexit secretary] David Davis will have been absolutely looked at.” This is not evidence.
The funny thing is this; the story may be true and quite probably is, but so what.
In October 2015, Britain’s own spy agency confirmed it was spying on Britain’s MP’s and at the time was given court immunity when challenged. It determined that MPs’ communications were not protected from surveillance by intelligence agencies. This case came about because Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Baroness Jenny Jones and former MP George Galloway, [observed] that revelations from Edward Snowden, showed MPs’ communications were being spied on by GCHQ despite laws protecting them.
Around the same time we learn that a well known paedophile ran a lodge set up by GCHQ for its spies to monitor important political ‘targets’ ie our own MP’s and other public figures.
Back in 1983 Margaret Thatcher used Britain’s latest and most advanced surveillance system named ‘Echelon’ (Read: ECHELON – The Start of Britain’s Modern Day Spying Operations) to Spy on Government Ministers’. It was an American design and the first major state surveillance system using satellite and IT systems to spy worldwide. Indeed Echelon was originally created in the 1960s to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies throughout the Cold War by Britain and America. All of this data being shared with America, a foreign government.
America’s NSA monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders in another Snowden leak three years ago. Germany’s Spiegel reported in 2014 that “Documents show Britain’s GCHQ signals intelligence agency has targeted European, German and Israeli politicians for surveillance.” So distrustful of the British that Chancellor Merkel announced a counter-espionage offensive designed to curb mass surveillance conducted by the US NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ. Today it is reported by IntelNews that the “discord between British and German intelligence services, which began at the same time in 2014, allegedly persists and now constitutes the “biggest rift between the secret services” of the two countries “since World War II”.
Just six months ago we found out that “GCHQ and NSA routinely spy on UK politicians’ e-mails” that included privileged correspondence between parliamentarians and their constituents and before that, internal MI5, MI6 and GCHQ documents reveal routine interception of legally privileged communications. The information obtained was exploited unlawfully to be used by the agencies in the fighting of court cases in which they themselves were involved.
Amazingly, we recently find out just last week that Israeli embassy staff, quite likely Mossad operatives – “are working with senior political activists and politicians in the Conservative and Labour parties to subvert their own parties from within, and skew British foreign policy so that it benefits Israeli, rather than British interests.” And yet, there has been little comment in the British press about foreign infiltration of government minsters by Israel.
If Russia were not spying on our MP’s, they would be the only ones not at it. No-one trusts anyone. Spying is old news and fully expected. We are ALL being spied on nowadays.
The British press are complicit in their reckless rhetoric designed to instill fear into the population with dangerous propaganda that could easily lead to tensions becoming so dangerous that a real ‘hot war’ starts. Whilst America is shielded by continental Europe and the Atlantic ocean, Britain could be used as a pawn to be sacrificed on the international chess-game of winner-takes-all. We have no ‘special-relationship’, there never has been one, and an irresponsible press being a mouthpiece that ramps up the stress between the US/NATO and Russia is absolutely against the interests and national security of Britain.
As Laurence Krauss’s (chair of the board of sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and is on the board of the Federation of American Scientists) article last October alarmingly points out – “Trump has said he would consider using nuclear weapons against ISIS and suggested that it would be good for the world if Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia acquired them.” Trump could be one seriously dangerous individual for world peace – who knows!
So much for Trump but as Krauss goes on to say that “In general, during the Obama presidency, we have only deepened our dangerous embrace of nuclear weapons. At the moment, around a thousand nuclear weapons are still on a hair-trigger alert; as they were during the Cold War, they are ready to be launched in minutes in response to a warning of imminent attack.”
Who in their right mind would support this lunacy?
A Trident missile fired last year from a Royal Navy nuclear submarine off the Florida coast malfunctioned and headed to the mainland during a routine test, but Whitehall ordered a news blackout to avoid “severe panic,” the Sunday Times reported.
The Trident ballistic missile was set to be tested for the first time in four years by the HMS Vengeance last June off the Florida coast, according to the Sunday Times.
Vengeance, the fourth and final Vanguard-class nuclear-capable submarine of the Royal Navy, had undergone a refit in Devonport dockyard before heading out for a firing test to verify if the ship and her crew were ready for active service.
In June last year, the submarine docked at Port Canaveral in Florida, the US base employed by the Royal Navy for final checks, before launching an unarmed Trident missile into the so-called “Eastern firing range” off the west coast of Africa.
There have only been five firing tests by UK Vanguard-class submarines in the 21st century, the Sunday Times wrote, and the launches are usually big occasions for the Royal Navy, as the missiles cost 17 million pounds ($21 million) apiece.
No news reports followed the test, however, and no usual “successful test flight” announcement was made at that time.
A navy source told the newspaper that “something went wrong” after the Trident was fired from the submerged submarine. Details of the failure were not officially disclosed, but the source believes the missile might have veered off in the wrong direction toward the American mainland instead of heading across the Atlantic.
“There was severe panic that this test launch was not successful. Senior figures in military and government were keen that the information was not made public,” the source said. A malfunction of the ballistic missile – deemed the backbone of British strategic deterrent – could lead to terrifying casualties. It could also raise questions about the reliability of the Royal Navy’s nuclear arsenals.
“Ultimately, Downing Street decided to cover up the failed test,” the source added. “If the information was made public, they knew how damaging it would be to the credibility of our nuclear deterrent. The upcoming Trident vote made it all the more sensitive.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May avoided any mention of the failed test to ensure that MPs approve spending of 40 billion pounds on new Trident submarines, in her first major speech before last July. Notably, more than 100 MPs voted against the proposal, including members of Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Labour Party, who argued that the money spent on nuclear arms could have been put to better use.
On Sunday, talking to the BBC, May again refused to say whether she knew about the reported failure or not. She said she had “absolute confidence” in the country’s nuclear deterrence system, but avoided giving a direct reply when asked to comment on The Times report.
The British government has not officially confirmed the newspaper’s report on the misfire, but The Times quoted the ministry of defense as saying that Vengeance “conducted a routine unarmed Trident missile test launch,” and that the submarine and her crew “were successfully tested and certified.” It declined to elaborate on the causes of the malfunction “for obvious national security reasons.”
Lockheed Martin, the Trident manufacturer, did not comment on the issue either.
In 2015, William McNeilly, a former Navy weapons engineer who allegedly served aboard the HMS Victorious, claimed that a number of security lapses and technical issues with the Trident-armed submarines exposed the UK nuclear deterrent to potential terrorist attacks.
According to open sources, Vanguard-class submarines carry 200 nuclear warheads as well as so-called ‘letters of last resort’ of the British prime minister that are to be used in the event of a national disaster or an incapacitating nuclear strike. Stored inside safes in the control room of each submarine, the letters are believed to include the orders: “Put yourself under the command of the US, if it is still there”; “Go to Australia”; “Retaliate”; or “Use your own judgment,” according to the Guardian.
Labour MP Kevan Jones, who is calling for an inquiry into the report with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, is expected to be called to the House of Commons.
“The UK’s independent nuclear deterrent is a vital cornerstone for the nation’s defence,” Kevan said.
“If there are problems, they should not have been covered up in this ham-fisted way. Ministers should come clean if there are problems and there should be an urgent inquiry into what happened.
Following rhetoric regarding Europe’s refugee crisis, one might assume the refugees, through no fault of Europe’s governments, suddenly began appearing by the thousands at Europe’s borders. However, this simply is not true.
Before the 2011 wave of US-European engineered uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) transformed into Western military interventions, geopolitical analysts warned that overthrowing the governments in nations like Libya and Syria, and Western interventions in nations like Mali and the Ivory Coast, would lead to predicable regional chaos that would manifest itself in both expanding terrorism across the European and MENA region, as well as a flood of refugees from destabilized, war-racked nations.
Libya in particular, was singled out as a nation, if destabilized, that would transform into a springboard for refugees not only fleeing chaos in Libya itself, but fleeing a variety of socioeconomic and military threats across the continent. Libya has served for decades as a safe haven for African refugees due to its relative stability and economic prosperity as well as the Libyan government’s policy of accepting and integrating African refugees within the Libyan population.
Because of NATO’s 2011 military intervention and the disintegration of Libya as a functioning nation state, refugees who would have otherwise settled in Libya are now left with no choice but to continue onward to Europe.
For France in particular, its politics have gravitated around what is essentially a false debate between those welcoming refugees and those opposed to their presence.
Absent from this false debate is any talk of French culpability for its military operations abroad which, along with the actions of the US and other NATO members, directly resulted in the current European refugee crisis.
France claims that its presence across Africa aims at fighting Al Qaeda. According to RAND Corporation commentary titled, “Mali’s Persistent Jihadist Problem,” it’s reported that:
Four years ago, French forces intervened in Mali, successfully averting an al Qaeda-backed thrust toward the capital of Bamako. The French operation went a long way toward reducing the threat that multiple jihadist groups posed to this West Africa nation. The situation in Mali today remains tenuous, however, and the last 18 months have seen a gradual erosion of France’s impressive, initial gains.
And of course, a French military presence in Mali will do nothing to stem Al Qaeda’s activities if the source of Al Qaeda’s weapons and financial support is not addressed. In order to do this, France and its American and European allies would need to isolate and impose serious sanctions on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two nations which exist as the premier state sponsors of not only Al Qaeda, but a myriad of terrorist organizations sowing chaos worldwide.
Paradoxically, instead of seeking such sanctions, the French government instead sells the Saudi and Qatari governments billions of dollars worth of weaponry, proudly filling in any temporary gaps in the flow of weapons from the West as each nation attempts to posture as “concerned” about Saudi and Qatari human rights abuses and war crimes (and perhaps even state sponsorship of terrorism) only to gradually return to pre-sanction levels after public attention wanes.
The National Interest in an article titled, “France: Saudi Arabia’s New Arms Dealer,” would note:
France has waged a robust diplomatic engagement with Saudi Arabia for years. In June, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited France to sign deals worth $12 billion, which included $500 million for 23 Airbus H145 helicopters. Saudi and French officials also agreed to pursue feasibility studies to build two nuclear reactors in the kingdom. The remaining money will involve direct investment negotiated between Saudi and French officials.
The article would also note that Saudi Arabia’s junior partner in the state sponsorship of global terror, Qatar, would also benefit from French weapon deals:
Hollande’s address was delivered one day after he was in Doha, where he signed a $7 billion deal that included the sale of 24 French Rafale fighter jets to Qatar, along with the training of Qatari intelligence officers.
In order to truly fight terrorism, a nation must deal with it at its very source. Since France is not only ignoring the source of Al Qaeda’s military, financial and political strength, but is regularly bolstering it with billions in weapons deals, it is safe to say that whatever reason France is involved across MENA, it is not to “defeat” Al Qaeda.
The refugee crisis that has resulted from the chaos that both Western forces and terrorists funded and armed by the West’s closest regional allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is a crisis that is entirely self-inflicted. The rhetoric surrounding the crisis, on both sides, ignoring this fundamental reality, exposes the manufactured and manipulative nature of French government and opposition agendas.
The chaos across MENA is so significant, and terrorism so deeply rooted in both Western and their Arab allies’ geopolitical equations that even a complete reversal of this destructive policy will leave years if not decades of social unrest in the wake of the current refugee crisis.
But for anyone genuinely committed to solving this ongoing crisis, they must start with the US, European, and Gulf monarchies’ culpability, and resist blaming the refugees or those manipulated into reacting negatively to them. While abuses carried out by refugees or locals are equally intolerable, those responsible for the conflicts and for manipulating both sides of this crisis are equally to blame.
Until that blame is properly and proportionately placed, and the root of the crisis addressed, it will only linger and cause further damage to regional and global security.
Britain’s divisive Brexit politics are playing out through the new US presidency of Donald Trump. It seems that a faction within the British political establishment which is opposed to Britain leaving the European Union has joined forces with American intelligence counterparts to hamper Trump’s new administration.
By hampering Trump, the pro-EU British faction would in turn achieve a blow against a possible bilateral trade deal emerging between the US and Britain. Such a bilateral trade deal is vital for post-Brexit Britain to survive outside of the EU. If emerging US-British trade relations were sabotaged by disenfranchising President Trump, then Britain would necessarily have to turn back to rejoining the European Union, which is precisely what a powerful British faction desires.
What unites the anti-Trump forces on both sides of the Atlantic is that they share an atlanticist, pro-NATO worldview, which underpins American hegemony over Europe and Anglo-American-dominated global finance. This atlanticist perspective is vehemently anti-Russian because an independent Russia under President Vladimir Putin is seen as an impediment to the US-led global order of Anglo-American dominance.
The atlanticists in the US and Britain are represented in part by the upper echelons of the intelligence-military apparatus, embodied by the American Central Intelligence Agency and Britain’s Military Intelligence (Section) 6 (MI6).
Notably, incoming US President Donald Trump has expressed indifference towards NATO. This week he repeated comments in which he called the US-led military alliance «obsolete». Trump’s views are no doubt a cause of grave consternation among US-British atlanticists.
It is now emerging that British state intelligence services are involved much more deeply in the dirty tricks operation to smear Trump than might have been appreciated heretofore. The British involvement tends to validate the above atlanticist analysis.
The dirty tricks operation overseen by US intelligence agencies and willing news media outlets appears to be aimed at undermining Trump and, perhaps, even leading to his impeachment.
The former British MI6 agent, named as Christopher Steele, who authored the latest sexual allegations against Trump, was initially reported as working independently for US political parties. However, it now seems that Steele was not acting as an independent consultant to Trump’s political opponents during the US election, as media reports tended to indicate.
Britain’s Independent newspaper has lately reported that Steele’s so-called «Russian dossier» – which claimed that Trump was being blackmailed by the Kremlin over sex orgy tapes – was tacitly given official British endorsement.
That endorsement came in two ways. First, according to the Independent, former British ambassador to Russia, Sir Andrew Woods, reportedly gave assurances to US Senator John McCain that the dossier’s allegations of Russian blackmail against Trump were credible. Woods met with McCain at a security conference in Canada back in November. McCain then passed the allegations on to the American FBI – so «alarmed» was he by the British diplomat’s briefing.
The second way that Britain has endorsed the Russian dossier is the newly appointed head of MI6, Sir Alex Younger, is reported to have used the material produced by his former colleague, Christopher Steele, in preparing his first speech as head of the British intelligence service given in December at the agency’s headquarters in London. That amounts to an imprimatur from MI6 on the Russian dossier.
Thus, in two important signals from senior official British sources, the Russian dossier on Trump was elevated to a serious intelligence document, rather than being seen as cheap gossip.
Excerpts from the document published by US media last week make sensational claims about Trump engaging in orgies with prostitutes in the presidential suite of the Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel while attending a Miss World contest in 2014. It is claimed that Russian secret services captured the alleged lewd activity on tape and will now be able to leverage this «kompromat» in order to blackmail Trump who becomes inaugurated this week as the 45th president of the United States.
Several informed analysts have dismissed the Russian dossier as an amateurish fake, pointing out its vague hearsay, factual errors and questionable format not typical of standard intelligence work. Also, both Donald Trump and the Kremlin have categorically rejected the claims as far-fetched nonsense.
While most US media did not publish the salacious details of Trump’s alleged trysts, and while they offered riders that the information was «not confirmed» and «unverifiable», nevertheless the gamut of news outlets gave wide coverage to the story which in turn directed public attention to internet versions of the «sensational» claims. So the US mainstream media certainly lent critical amplification, which gave the story a stamp of credibility.
US intelligence agencies, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA chief John Brennan, appended the two-page Russian dossier in their separate briefings to outgoing President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump last week. Those briefings were said to mainly focus on US intelligence claims that Russian state-sponsored hackers had carried out cyber attacks to influence the US election last November.
Therefore, US intelligence, their British counterparts and the mass media all played a concerted role to elevate low-grade gossip against Trump into a seemingly credible scandal.
Trump has been waging a war of words with the US intelligence agencies, snubbing them by cutting back on presidential briefings and rubbishing their claims of Russian hacking as «ridiculous». Recently, Trump appeared to shift towards accepting the US intel assessment that Russia had carried out cyber attacks. But he balked at any suggestion that the alleged hacking was a factor in why he won the election against Hillary Clinton.
At a news conference before the weekend, Trump turned up the heat on the US intelligence agencies by blaming them for leaking to the media their briefing to him on the notorious Russian dossier. Trump compared their tactics to that of «Nazi Germany». CIA chief John Brennan couldn’t contain his anger and told media that such a comparison was «outrageous».
Trump may have savaged the Russian blackmail allegations as «fake news». But there are indications that US and British intelligence – and their reliable media mouthpieces – are not giving up on their dirty tricks operation, which has all the hallmarks of a vendetta.
Pointedly, James Clapper, the outgoing US Director of National Intelligence, has said that the secret services have not arrived at a judgment as to whether the Russian blackmail claims are substantive or not. British state-owned BBC has also reported that CIA sources believe that Russian agents have multiple copies of «tapes of a sexual nature» allegedly involving Trump in separate orgies with prostitutes in Moscow and St Petersburg.
In other words this scandal, regardless of veracity, could run and run and run, with the intended effect of undermining Trump and crimping his policies, especially those aimed at normalizing US-Russia relations, as he has vowed to do. If enough scandal is generated, the allegations against Trump being a sexually depraved president compromised by Russian agents – a declared foreign enemy of the US – might even result in his impeachment from the White House on the grounds of treason.
Both the American and British intelligence services appear to be working together, facilitated by aligned news media, to bolster flimsy claims against Trump into allegations of apparent substance. The shadowy «deep state» organs in the US and Britain are doing this because they share a common atlanticist ideology which views Anglo-American dominance over the European Union as the basis for world order. Crucial to this architecture is NATO holding sway over Europe, which in turn relies on demonizing Russia as a «threat to European security».
Clamping down on Trump, either through impeachment or at least corrosive media smears, would serve to further the atlanticist agenda.
For a section of British power – UK-based global corporations and London finance – the prospect of a Brexit from the EU is deeply opposed. The Financial Times list of top UK-based companies were predominantly against leaving the EU ahead of last year’s referendum. Combined with the strategic atlanticist ideology of the military-intelligence apparatus there is a potent British desire to scupper the Trump presidency.
But, as it happens, the American and British picture is complicated by the fact that the British government of Prime Minister Theresa May is very much dependent on cooperation and goodwill from the Trump administration in order for post-Brexit Britain to survive in the world economy outside the EU.
The British government is committed to leaving the EU as determined by the popular referendum last June. To be fair to May’s government, it is deferring to the popular will on this issue. Premier May is even talking about a «hard Brexit» whereby, Britain does not have future access to the European single market. Fervent communications between Downing Street and the Trump transition team show that the British government views new bilateral trade deals with the US as vital for the future of Britain’s economy. And Trump has reciprocated this week by saying that Britain will be given top priority in the signing of new trade deals.
In this way, the British establishment’s divisions over Brexit – some for, some against – are a fortunate break for Trump. Because that will limit how much the British intelligence services can engage in dirty tricks against the president in league with their American counterparts. In short, the atlanticist desire to thwart Trump has lost its power to act malevolently in the aftermath of Britain’s Brexit.
That might also be another reason why Donald Trump has given such a welcoming view on the Brexit – as «a great thing». Perhaps, he knows that it strengthens his political position against deep state opponents who otherwise in a different era might have been strong enough to oust him.
Trump and Brexit potentially mean that the atlanticist sway over Europe is fading. And that’s good news for Russia.
KIEV – Around 7,500 foreign servicemen and about 12,500 Ukrainian soldiers will participate in military drills in Ukraine this year, spokesperson of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry Dmytro Hutsulyak said on Friday.
“We are going to involve about 12,500 Ukrainian servicemen. Our partners are expected to send around 7,500 soldiers,” Hutsulyak said at a press conference.
He added that about 1,500 Ukrainian servicemen would take part in various drills abroad in 2017.
On Thursday, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a law allowing foreign troops to be present in the country in 2017 to participate in multinational drills.
The bill outlines the admission in the framework of multi-national drills of the US and other NATO member states’ military, as well as of the countries participating in the Partnership for Peace program, totaling up to 3,000 personnel, for up to 365 days in January-December 2017.
The document is yet to be signed by the president.
Russia disagrees with outgoing US President Barack Obama’s reproaches on nuclear disarmament, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday, noting that Moscow supports a proportional process.
Obama accused Russian President Vladimir Putin at his final news conference on Wednesday of unwillingness to negotiate the reduction of nuclear stockpiles.
“We cannot agree with Mr. Obama’s statement. Russia has always advocated for a fair and proportional nuclear disarmament process,” Peskov told reporters.
Peskov said the nuclear disarmament process “cannot be disproportionate, it cannot and should not lead to a breach of nuclear parity, which is critical to ensuring global stability and security.”
“Thus, we cannot agree with that, Russia has consistently taken a well-known position on this issue,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
Cuba has denounced US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria, saying they violate the Arab country’s sovereignty as they are not permitted by Damascus.
Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations Humberto Rivero made the criticism during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Wednesday.
“We demand the cessation of the violations of Syrian sovereignty and the foreign military presence without the consent and the coordination of operations with the Syrian government, the only legitimately elected authority in the country,” Rivero said.
He further condemned the “politicization” of the crisis in Syria and “the tampering of the humanitarian crisis and the suffering” of people in the Middle Eastern country.
Those who are “supplying weapons, money and patronage to terrorist groups are responsible for the thousands of civilian victims of the conflict and the humanitarian situation,” the Cuban diplomat said, expressing his opposition to “the promotion of an interventionist agenda” in Syria.
The US-led coalition has been conducting air raids against what are said to be Daesh terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. Analysts have assessed the strikes as unsuccessful as they have led to civilian deaths and failed to counter terrorism.
The US Air Force is also carrying out airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to militants fighting against the pro-government forces in Syria.
UN chief optimist on ‘conflict freeze’
Separately on Wednesday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the consequences of the Syria crisis had become “too dangerous.”
Speaking in a briefing at the UN office in the Swiss city of Geneva, Guterres stressed that the conflict had fueled instability in the Middle East region and terrorist attacks across the globe.
Touching on the upcoming Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, the UN chief further expressed hope that the discussions could “lead towards a consolidation of the ceasefire and a freeze in the conflict.”
The cessation of hostilities took effect on December 30, following an agreement between Syria’s warring parties.
Mediated by Russia and Turkey with the support of Iran, the truce is the first of its kind that has been largely holding in Syria for almost three weeks now. Earlier attempts by the US to broker such a long-lasting ceasefire had failed.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Guterres underlined that the success of the Syria talks could “help create the conditions for a political process” regarding the Syria crisis.
The Astana talks, which are scheduled to be held on January 23, were brokered by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran.