Hezbollah on Sunday has condemned the awful crimes committed by terrorist ISIL group which targeted churches in Egypt’s Tanta and Alexandria, killing and injuring dozens of innocent civilians.
In a statement released by the party’s Media Relations office, Hezbollah offered condolences to victims’ families, calling for uniting efforts to confront terrorism in the region.
“This continuous and escalating killing carried out by criminal gangs in the name of religion is one of the greatest catastrophes our Ummah (nation) has been witnessing,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah pointed out that such crimes were planned for by major powers and regional countries which have been offering different kinds of support to terrorists, in a bid to sow discord between the region’s peoples who have lived together for centuries.
Furthermore, the Lebanese resistance party stressed that targeting faithful people in churches during Palm Sunday is a savage act which indicates that these groups have no humanity.
This crime “comes as a part of a big scheme to displace Christians from Sinai and other areas across Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, paving the way for sectarian and ethnic federalization in favor of the Zionist enemy,” Hezbollah warned.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah voiced support for Egypt and its people, urging all sides to realize the seriousness of the “great conspiracy targeting our Ummah,” and to unite efforts in confronting terrorists along with their regional and international sponsors.
Both Russia and Egypt have denied reports alleging that Russian special forces have been deployed at an airbase near the Libyan border to support a military commander loyal to Libya’s eastern government.
“There are no Russian special forces in Sidi Barrani,” the Russian Defense Ministry’s official spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said on Tuesday.
“Some Western media have been disturbing the public with such reports, citing anonymous sources for several years now… And ever more foolish and indecent with regard to American intelligence are the words of the ‘source’ quoted by Reuters, who said that ‘intelligence activity of the United States into the [actions] of the Russian military are complicated because of the involvement of contractors and agents in civilian clothes,’” Konashenkov added.
Citing US, Egyptian, and “diplomatic“ sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, Reuters had reported earlier that Russian special operations forces and drones were allegedly deployed at Sidi Barrani base, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the border between Egypt and Libya. The unnamed Egyptian security sources said the unit consisted of 22 members, but would not discuss their supposed mission, the agency stated, while suggesting that Russia had also flown six military units to Egypt’s Marsa Matrouh base in early February, which proceeded to Libya some 10 days later.
The chair of Russia’s Federal Defense and Security Committee, Victor Ozerov, branded the report a “hoax,” insisting that no deployment of special forces to Egypt or Libya had ever been brought before the Russian Parliament.
“Nobody addressed the Federation Council on the question of sending the Russian Armed Forces to either Egypt or Libya.
“The president of the Russian Federation has the right to use Russian armed forces abroad only with the consent of the Federation Council; this is a constitutional norm. No such request was submitted to the Federation Council [therefore] there is no legal reason to say that [Russian] servicemen could be in Egypt,” Ozerov told RIA Novosti news agency. The reports are “yet another anti-Russian attack,” Ozerov said, adding that “Russia has proved that it strictly adheres to international norms on the use of armed forces abroad.”
Egypt also dismissed the Reuters report.
“There is no foreign soldier from any foreign country on Egyptian soil. This is a matter of sovereignty,” Egyptian army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said, as cited by Reuters.
The refuted allegations contend that Russian special forces have been deployed to support Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) that is loyal to Libya’s eastern government. The 73-year-old general had been an ally of Libyan strong-man Muammar Gaddafi, but joined the Western-backed uprising against the country’s long-time leader in 2011, which led to the Gaddafi’s death and a civil war that’s still raging.
After years of turmoil and fighting, with various factions vying for power, two rival governments emerged in Libya: the Council of Deputies based in Tobruk and the Tripoli-based General National Congress. With the UN’s help, in 2015, the two agreed to set up a Government of National Accord (GNA) that would form a Presidency Council. However, the Tobruk-based parliament supported by Haftar has refused to cooperate with the unity government, which it accuses of aligning with some of the country’s Islamist-leaning forces. Haftar’s forces have been fighting an alliance of Islamist militants and former rebels in Benghazi for two years now. The general maintains close relationships with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Russia. Haftar was in Russia twice last year, asking for military aid.
Last week, another Reuters report alleged that a force of several dozen armed private Russian security contractors had been operating in a part of Libya under Haftar’s control until February. The contractors were allegedly there to help mine sweep Benghazi, the head of the firm that allegedly hired them said, according to Reuters. However, the commander of Benina air base near Benghazi, Mohamed Manfour, said that the LNA had not received any military assistance from the Russian government or Russian military contractors, while denying that there were any Russian forces or bases in eastern Libya.
Russia has stressed that it “continues meticulously working with both power centers in Libya,” with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that only the Libyan people can decide their country’s future.
“It’s clear that the country’s future must be determined by Libyans. We believe that attempts to impose a ready-made solution on them are counterproductive,” Lavrov said in a February interview with Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper.
Russia’s foreign minister also pledged to help unify Libya and foster dialogue at a recent meeting with Fayez Seraj, the leader of Libya’s UN-backed government.
Requiem for a Martyr: The “Blind Sheik”, Omar Abdel Rahman, Innocent Victim of Seditious Conspiracy Trial
“[America’s treatment of me] is a crime that history will never forgive.” – Omar Abdel Rahman
Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the “blind sheik”, died on the morning of February 18, 2017, near the 24th anniversary of the 1993 WTC bombing. He was an innocent victim of the US agenda to create a new enemy by engineering events that would make terrorism virtually synonymous with “Islamic fundamentalism”.
Sheik Rahman attained national fame in Egypt while he was on trial for inciting the 1981 assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. With a passionate moral integrity, he courageously attacked the government during his two days on the stand; the intensive trial media gave him a national platform that made him famous throughout the Muslim world. His sermons were taped and traded throughout Egypt.
While he was vindicated of the charges against him, President Mubarak’s government ominously refused to give the necessary certification of the verdict and eventually drove Sheik Rahman out of Egypt. The Sheik went to Afghanistan, where he helped the CIA recruit Arab fighters to serve with the US-backed mujahadeen (he would lose at least one of his own sons there), and the Sheik was reportedly on the CIA payroll.
Sheik Rahman came to the US in 1990, hoping to remain until he could safely return to Egypt. According to Benjamin Begin in a 1993 Israel Today newsletter, Rahman’s mosques were infiltrated by FBI and Mossad operatives and would be the source of recruitment for their operations.
The World Trade Center explosion occurred on Friday, February 26th, 1993. The Sheik was soon declared deportable when some of those charged were identified as members of his mosques. The sheik was in the FBI’s crosshairs; the FBI offered Egyptian intelligence agent Emad Salem over one million dollars to entrap him.
The cagey Salem, who had become a trusted member of the Sheik’s inner circle, was aware of the obligation that the Sheik had as spiritual leader to respond to congregants’ needs. Salem blindsided the sheik by going to his home after midnight on a Sunday, pretending to be in a spiritual crisis. He claimed that he felt guilty for his years in the Egyptian military and needed to atone for his actions by attacking a target in the US — such as the United Nations. The sheik tried to fob him off and talked him out of that terrorist target; he suggested that a US military target would be more appropriate, but he told Salem to “slow down” — to cool off. Salem went home happy.
The Joint Anti-Terror Task Force and the Justice Department were allegedly dubious about whether they had evidence that would convict Rahman. The Sheik had repeatedly and publicly denounced the bombing of the WTC and claimed that he had nothing to do with it. Those who heard Emad Salem’s recorded attempt to incriminate the Sheik didn’t think it was persuasive enough to stand up in court. The FBI had tapped the Sheik’s telephones from two weeks before the WTC explosion until June, 1993; there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. The INS said he was complying with the requirements of his deportation appeal. Authorities noted that incarcerating the Sheik would be expensive because of his diabetes. A detention until appeals were completed could have lasted for months — if not for years.
Attorney General Janet Reno, who had publicly been reluctant to charge the Sheik, finally succumbed to the political pressure: pressure that also came from the Egyptian government, which still felt threatened by the Sheik’s popularity. Egyptian officials, afraid that Rahman would be deported to Egypt, wanted him safely incarcerated in the US. On July 1st, 1993, the Justice Department, while avoiding making any criminal charge, decided to take the Sheik into custody – “indefinite administrative detention” — on immigration charges.
The Egyptian conundrum
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was afraid of Rahman’s popularity and influence; he appeared to be worried about suffering the same fate as the Shah of Iran, deposed by a popular religious leader. Mubarak banned tapes of Sheik Rahman’s sermons; those found with copies were subject to up to five years in jail. Three thousand copies of a newspaper Al-Hayat that featured a March interview with Rahman were confiscated, and Rahman’s mosque in Fayoum was empty, guarded by a police agent.
While the Egyptian government had initially asked the Clinton administration to hold the Sheik to make sure he was not deported to Egypt, they changed their minds when they were informed that under the immigration charges, the sheik could accept his deportation voluntarily and go to any country that would take him, which could make him even more of a threat to the Mubarak government. After intense discussions, the US agreed to accept Egypt’s official extradition request, which it claimed would take precedence over the deportation charge. The only hitch was that appeals might take as long as eight years.
Mubarak was livid. He reminded the U.S. that he had hosted an Arab summit before the 1991 US-led invasion of Iraq which brought most of the Arab world onside, providing important “optics” for the engineered invasion.
Egyptian authorities were also outraged that two employees of the US Embassy had met earlier that year with prominent members of the Islamic Group, which regarded Sheik Rahman as their spiritual leader. The US seemed to be hedging its bets on Egyptian leadership so that it would not be caught out in Egypt as it had been in Iran, when Khomeini was swept into power. To add insult to injury, there was even a Congressional effort to cut back on US aid to Egypt.
President Mubarak then demonstrated to the Clinton administration who was in charge of Egypt. On July 8th, the Egyptian government hanged seven followers of Sheik Rahman for attacks against foreign tourists and for conspiring to overthrow the Mubarak government. It was the largest number of executions for a political crime in more than four decades, and it would be the start of a brutal campaign against dissidents that would last until the 2011 Arab Spring.
After witnessing Mubarak’s treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood, it was evident that Rahman’s supporters were powerless; Rahman was expendable.
US rejects political asylum for Rahman but can’t extradite him to Egypt
Meanwhile there were unforeseen complications with U.S. efforts to extradite Rahman to Egypt. While the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected Rahman’s appeal for political asylum, it appeared that his appeals would eventually reach the Supreme Court. Also, State Department officials realized that the 100-year old extradition treaty between the US and Egypt did not permit extradition based on “any crime or offense of political character.” While one official claimed that US courts were not limited by treaties, another noted that the treaty strengthened Rahman’s case for political asylum.
The Egyptian plan to ensure that Sheik Rahman would be placed under their control hit another challenge at the end of July when Afghanistan’s Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar offered his country as a refuge for the Sheik. The Sheik’s lawyers realized that deportation might be the only way for the sheik to regain his freedom, so they contacted the office of U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to request his deportation.
White’s office sat on the sheik’s deportation request while trying to accommodate Egypt’s demand for permanent control of the sheik. The problem was that those who were deported were free to go to any country that would accept them, but Egypt did not want the sheik in Afghanistan, where he would be free to communicate with his followers.
The “seditious conspiracy” solution
The sheik’s lawyers were still waiting for a response when, a week later, on August 25th, 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno issued an indictment for Sheik Rahman along with 14 others for “seditious conspiracy”, an obscure charge employed against political dissidents.
The 20-count, 27-page indictment claimed that one terrorist organization [which started in 1989, the year before the sheik arrived in the U.S.] was behind all of the plots and that Sheik Rahman, while not directly involved with the acts, was the “mastermind” who explicitly gave the orders. The listed plots included: plans to attack American military installations; plans to murder F.B.I. agents; plans to seize hostages to help release jailed conspirators; the 1990 killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane; the 1991 killing of Alkifah Center President Mustafa Shalabi; the 1993 WTC bombing [ambiguously included, since there was currently a separate trial for that]; the June “landmarks bombing plot”; and the plot to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak. The New York Times featured a map of the presumed terrorist targets; it appeared that New York City was under a Muslim siege.
The “seditious conspiracy” charge, which had been created to target Confederates at the end of the Civil War, was defined as when two or more people “conspire to overthrow, put down, or destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them.” Experts noted that the broad nature of the conspiracy indictment, which did not require connecting a defendant to any specific act of violence and allowed prosecutors to bring in evidence not related to terrorist acts, made it possible to convict people with little proof (let alone evidence) of guilt. Criminal defense experts claimed that the Government was framing the case as much on the defendants’ beliefs as on any acts they may have committed.
Defense lawyers were also disturbed by the Government’s piling up of charges on a socially-isolated and demonized group, especially reviving the Kahane case just two years after El Sayid Nosair had been acquitted. Claiming that the indictment was an attempt to “create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation“, defense lawyer Ronald Kuby noted that, “What they have done is take every allegation, every rumor, every loose end and created a vast mythical Islamic conspiracy. They have created a case that is so big and complicated that it is impossible to defend, impossible to understand, and impossible for any of these defendants to get a fair trial.”
Emad Salem’s tapes
Defense lawyers claimed that Emad Salem entrapped their clients by hiring them for his plots, then taped them making incriminating statements. Salem’s tapes, on which most of this trial would be based, would also include two FBI admissions of overseeing the provision of the WTC explosives. Ron Kuby requested that all of Salem’s tapes collected as evidence (which also showed the FBI’s unsavory ways of doing business) be released in their entirety to the public to expose the case as a conspiracy to frame the defendants. Judge Michael B. Mukasey, (who would be named Attorney General in 2007), refused to allow the tapes to be made public.
The seditious conspiracy trial would be delayed until January, 1995, and corresponded in time to the televised O.J. Simpson trial, which contributed to its lack of media coverage, despite being touted as the terror trial of the century. The year and a half between the defendants’ arrests and their trial gave the Government and courts time to strip the sheik and other defendants of Constitutional rights, including the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the Fourth Amendment right against unwarranted search and seizure, and other basic freedoms. The homes of two of Rahman’s paralegals would be raided for information against him, and dissident reading material found in defendants’ homes that was deemed “anti-American” or showed “hatred of Jews” could be used as evidence against them.
The seditious conspiracy trial
As with the first World Trade bombing trial, there would be no change of venue, the jury would be unsequestered and — supposedly to protect them from Muslim terror threats — would be identified only by number; their names would never be made public. None of the jury was Muslim.
The media during the entirety of this trial would be filled with various terror stories. The seditious conspiracy trial had barely started when the “mastermind” of the WTC bombing, Ramzi Yousef, arrived in New York with huge media fanfare. Mukasey asked the jury on the day after Yousef’s arrival if their opinions were changed by this media coverage. He immediately determined that they weren’t, but ignored the subsequent barrage of prejudicial media exposure that lasted throughout this trial. Some of Yousef’s publicity should have helped the defendants because Yousef, who didn’t know sheik Rahman, made statements that should have exonerated Rahman and others. Unfortunately Yousef refused to testify at this trial and Judge Mukasey would not permit the defense counsel access to Yousef’s documents that the FBI had taken.
The Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred six weeks later in mid-April, was initially claimed to be similar to the WTC bomb, and due to Muslim terrorism. Mukasey “assumed” that the jury would not be affected by the anti-Muslim media, although the defendants received heightened physical protection in their detention center.
That June, the actual driver of the bomb-laden Ryder van came to media attention and in August, there was media fanfare with his extradition to the U.S.
Sheik Rahman’s (nonexistent) Constitutional rights
Prosecution attention turned to the Sheik’s sermons to show his attitude towards the U.S. as well as his leadership in the Muslim community. Many of the Sheik’s sermons, which encouraged the devout to fight enemies of Islam and God, were read out in an effort to criminalize what should have been his freedoms of speech and belief.
Mukasey barred witnesses that would have shown the role of politics behind the arrest of Sheik Rahman, that would have testified that Rahman was not the radical that the media had described, and that would have provided a clearer understanding of Muslim terms (such as jihad and fatwa) that were being used against the defendants. Mukasey’s rulings were devastating to the Sheik’s defense.
The defense lawyers tried to introduce sealed material from the previous WTC trial that would show the lengths to which the FBI had gone to implicate as well as convict the previous defendants in the World Trade Center trial. Although that material was not produced, FBI scientist Fredrick Whitehurst’s subsequent testimony about the FBI’s incompetence, perjury and obstruction of justice that facilitated the convictions of the four charged in the WTC bombing did tell part of that story.
The Government’s desperation to find damaging information on Sheik Rahman was evident in the arrest of his paralegal at the end of April. The authorities’ claim that Nasser Ahmed’s overstay on a student visa “just came to our attention”, was contradicted by an FBI agent’s message to Ahmed that if he did not cooperate with the FBI, he would be deported to Egypt. After being charged with “secret evidence” and spending three years in solitary confinement, Ahmed would not be released until 1999.
Since this trial showed that there was little evidence that any of the defendants were guilty of any untried crime that had taken place, the prosecution tried to criminalize Islam; it described the defendants as a frightening “jihad army”: foreigners of a mysterious, militant culture. Judge Mukasey assured the jurors they could find that there was a single conspiracy despite the differing defendants and plots, “so long as you find that some of the conspirators continued for the entire duration of the conspiracy to act for the purposes charged in the indictment.”
After deliberating for seven days, the jury returned on October 1, 1995 with guilty verdicts for 48 out of the 50 charges. Sheik Rahman’s lawyer Lynne Stewart broke down and cried.
The defense cries “foul” and calls for a mistrial
The defense counsel immediately called for a mistrial because they believed that the problems with the trial were so egregious. It was clear that the FBI made use of Egypt’s intelligence agent as an agent provocateur to carry out its own agenda. Some defendants claimed that exculpatory conversations were missing from the tapes; the FBI admitted that they had “briefly” returned the tapes to Salem after they had been entered as evidence.
Judge Mukasey told the defense lawyers that he would consider their request to hold a post-trial hearing on the issue of whether he should overturn the convictions. But on January 10, 1996, he rejected the defense motion to throw out the convictions of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine others, claiming that there was no proof that the evidence that Salem had destroyed would have helped exonerate the defendants. Mukasey ignored Salem’s obvious motive for destroying evidence and the FBI’s interest in wanting him to do it.
Mukasey was determined to make an example of these “terror” defendants. While the sentence for seditious conspiracy was 20 years, Mukasey used that as a starting point, and added the other charges on top of that. He used his discretionary powers to make each part of the sentences sequential rather than concurrent; the sentences ranged from 30 years to life.
Sheik Rahman was sentenced to life. Worse, the government silenced Rahman even further by new “Special Administration Measures” which allowed them to essentially isolate him totally. To facilitate that agenda, it taped what were supposed to be his private conversations with his lawyer Lynne Stewart, and would imprison her for trying to circumvent the restrictions.
The obscure conspiracy law came into its own
The prosecution congratulated itself on its use of the seditious conspiracy charge. The verdict showed that the conspiracy law provided them with an easy venue to obtain verdicts with little evidence and for which no crimes had occurred. The conspiracy charge would become the mechanism to convict Muslims in future terror trials because of the low standards required of any individual’s involvement.
This trial demonstrated how the efforts of the government, the courts and the media — particularly the New York Times — ensured that the Muslim defendants could not obtain a fair trial. The New York Times enabled convictions in all of these related trials by maligning the defendants with anonymous government leaks, generally using biased and inflammatory language to describe them, and invariably assuming their guilt.
The injustice of these convictions and the fruitless appeals have been clear to those following the cases. While few Americans seem to be aware of the injustice, it has not been lost on the worldwide Muslim community. There were various actions designed to free Sheik Rahman, including the 2005 kidnapping of the four Christian Peacemaker Team members in Iraq: Tom Fox (who died), James Loney, Norman Kember and Harmeet Singh Sooden.
The world lost a passionate voice for moral integrity with the silencing of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and his death before attaining justice was tragic. His passing should provide Americans the opportunity to understand how FBI-monitored acts were used to eliminate Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of belief, the right against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to counsel, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. By ignoring the elimination of Muslim rights, Americans are laying the groundwork for the elimination of their own.
Karin Brothers is a freelance writer.
Copyright © Karin Brothers, Global Research, 2017
The situation in the Middle East is changing at an incredible speed. The things unbelievable yesterday, become reality today. Each of the events becomes part of a bigger picture, with the region gradually moving away from abyss to become a better place.
On March 1, Iraqi forces were reported to have taken control of the last major road out of western Mosul, preventing Islamic State (IS) militants from fleeing the city. The route leads to Tal Afar, another IS stronghold that is 40 km further west. They have since driven militants from the international airport, a military base, a power station and a number of residential areas. IS fighters began to flee. Total control over the city by Iraqi forces seems to be a matter of a few days, maybe hours.
Being almost defeated in Iraq, the IS has nowhere else to go but Syria – the country where they have just suffered a defeat, with Palmyra retaken by Syria’s government forces. Russia’s support has been crucial in the Syrian army’s push. Raqqa, the last remaining stronghold of the IS, will be the place of the final battle the extremist group is doomed to lose as many influential actors want it to be wiped away from the earth.
Turkey has announced its intent to launch an offensive to retake Raqqa but only after taking control of Manbij, the town held by the Kurds-dominated Syria Democratic Forces (SDF). The parties were in for a fight to benefit the IS and other terror groups. The US was at a loss as to how to prevent a clash between the NATO ally and the Kurds – the force it relies on in the fight against the IS. That’s when Moscow stepped in to avoid the worst, using its unique position as a mediator. It managed to do what nobody thought was possible. The military council in Manbij said on March 2 it will hand over areas west of the flashpoint town to Syrian government troops, after an agreement brokered by Russia.
Now the town is in Arab hands and Turkey has no reason to attack it. Syria and Turkey are not at war.
The United States had promised Turkey that Kurdish forces would withdraw from Manbij to the east of the Euphrates, but it never happened. Now Russia did what America had failed to do.
As a result of Russia’s effective mediation, Turkey can double down on its plans to advance to Raqqa, while Syria’s government has greatly strengthened its position. Turkey’s President Erdogan has just said he is ready to fight the IS together with Russia. He is coming to Moscow on March 9. It means no clash between Turkey and Syria will take place.
Many things are changing for the Syrian government and it has been going on for some time. It’s not a coincidence that voices get louder, calling for inviting Syrian President Assad to the March 29 Arab Summit in Amman – five years after Syria was expelled from the 22-member organization. Russia, Jordan and Egypt are applying efforts to reconcile the Arab community with the Syrian government. Last month, Egypt’s parliamentary committee for Arab affairs called for the return of Syria to the Arab League. This would signify the reconciliation between Saudi Arabia which backed the Syrian rebels – something unthinkable some time ago.
In 2015, then US President Obama predicted Russia would get stuck in Syria’s quagmire. He appears to have been wrong. Thanks to Russia’s involvement, one can see the light at the end of the tunnel to make the quagmire a thing of the past.
Moscow can facilitate the process of Iran joining with Arab states in the effort to reach agreement on Syria, bringing it to some mutual understanding with Saudi Arabia. Not much has been reported about some recent events of special significance. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Kuwait and Oman on February 15. Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir made a trip to Iraq on February 25, to be received by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. The trend is visible – Shia and Sunni are on speaking terms again and they are discussing something very important. It would have sounded incredible a short time ago but these are the facts.
All these events and emerging trends are taking place against the background of the ongoing UN-brokered Geneva talks on peaceful settlement in Syria. Here too we have an unexpected turn of events – the Syrian opposition seeks to meet with Russian officials!
According to Paul Vallely, a retired US Army Major General and senior military analyst for Fox News, Russia-US consultations on Syria are to start in two months after the presidents hold a summit. He said Russia is to play a key part in any scenario.
The recent days have literally shaken the Middle East. So many unexpected things happen to push things forward. Right in front of our eyes the impossible becomes possible.
As said before, Moscow is in a unique position to act as an intermediary and it plays its role aptly to achieve tangible results. If the current trend continues in the same direction, leading to the desired outcome, Russia’s effort will go down in history as an extraordinary achievement of military success combined with effective diplomacy.
Al-Araby Al-Jadid | January 30, 2017
Spokespersons for the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement — Hamas — have given the impression that their movement’s relationship with Egypt is on the verge of dramatic shifts that will put an end to the tense relations between the two since the coup that deposed President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Hamas has indicated that the recent visit to Cairo by the Deputy Head of the movement’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, has paved the way to turning a new page in these relations. Hamas officials have attributed this “radical” change to a “strategic” shift in the position of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s government towards the movement. They believe that this shift will manifest itself in the improvement of the economic and living conditions in the Gaza Strip.
However, what the Hamas officials are promising contradicts with the voices in Cairo, as media mouthpieces linked to Al-Sisi’s government have attributed the rapprochement between Egypt and Hamas to a deal which stipulates that Hamas should take measures on the border that the Egyptian government view as necessary to improve its ability to deal with the growing security challenges in northern Sinai. This will be in exchange for Egypt reducing the impact of the blockade on the Gaza Strip as well as taking measures to improve the economic and living situation in the besieged territory.
It is clear that if the purpose of these measures is to restrict the ability of members of Salafist jihadi groups to move across the border separating Gaza and Sinai, then this would also serve Hamas’s interests, as it is the target of hostility from these groups, a number of which have “excommunicated” the movement. In addition, Hamas is facing the consequences of what was a catastrophic mistake in trying to combine government of the enclave with resistance to the occupation, which gave Israel, as well as regional and international parties, another justification for imposing the suffocating siege on Gaza. The Islamic movement is concerned about improving the economic situation in Gaza, which has deteriorated so much that there could be an explosion of public anger against it.
However, in the event that a positive change does occur in the Egyptian government’s position towards Gaza, the rationale for this transformation will go beyond all considerations regarding the security situation in Sinai. Important circles in the Egyptian security institution have acknowledged the failed strategy adopted by Cairo towards Hamas in the form of the siege, security measures aiming to dry out the sources of its military strength, political boycott, demonisation in the media, and delegitimising the movement by means of pushing the Egyptian judiciary to consider its military wing to be a terrorist entity. According to Palestinian figures who have visited Cairo recently, some officials from the security institution in Cairo are pushing for a new approach to be adopted that aims to contain Hamas by alleviating the siege and improving the economic situation, while using the shift in Egypt’s position to influence the balances of power within the movement. This is especially due to the fact that Hamas is on the verge of holding critical internal elections, and therefore Egypt may influence one side over the other.
We can’t imagine that Al-Sisi’s government would make any change in their policies towards Gaza without coordinating with Israel, since it relies on the extremist, right-wing Israeli government in Tel Aviv to continue to provide it with international legitimacy. The Israeli position on Hamas is also subject to its own interests, and it seems apparent from the recent internal discussions that Tel Aviv’s interests currently lie in improving the economic situation in Gaza out of fear that Hamas might engage in a military confrontation as a means of preventing a popular outburst due to the deteriorating economic situation. Such fears were clearly evident in the last meeting of the Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs, during which Intelligence Minster Yisrael Katz once again proposed the idea of establishing a floating harbour off the coast of Gaza.
Another motivation for the shift in Cairo’s position towards Gaza is Egypt’s angry reaction to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s rejection of the pressure from Al-Sisi to restore Mohammed Dahlan to Fatah’s ranks and allow him to play a leading role in Palestinian affairs.
In any case, contrary to what some Hamas officials believe, the promised shift in the Al-Sisi government’s position on Hamas and Gaza will be tactical and not strategic. This is due to the fact that working on accumulating international legitimacy by getting involved in the war on “Islamic terrorism” is at the top of the list of strategic constants for the current regime in Cairo. Al-Sisi’s delight at his recent phone call with US President Donald Trump and his boast that they are both on the same page in terms of the war on “terrorism” reflects the rooting of this strategy within the government as a means of security legitimacy.
As such, regardless of Hamas’s behaviour towards Egypt, Al-Sisi can turn against the movement very easily if he believes that the new resident of the White House would welcome such a move. If we take into account the general agreement between the Trump administration and the Israeli government, then we can understand that Al-Sisi’s sensitivity to the Israeli considerations, including those regarding Hamas, will grow. If Israel believes at some time in the future that it is in its best interest to wage a war on Gaza, then Al-Sisi would most likely adopt the same position that he did during the 2014 military offensive.
Gaza is eager to get rid of the unlawful blockade imposed on it, and so any shift in the Egyptian position that reduces the effects of the siege will be considered as a positive and important development. However, it is important to be aware of the environment surrounding this expected shift in Egypt’s position and not to rely too much upon it, just in case there is a painful disappointment.
Translated by MEMO
The Middle East geopolitical scenarios are going through rapid changes with new factors emerging on the regional chessboard.
Cairo’s foreign policy has been given a new twist. It has been announced recently that Egypt is set to receive one million barrels of petroleum per month from Iraq. Saudi Arabia had informed Egypt that shipments of oil products expected under a $23 billion aid deal have been halted indefinitely, suggesting a deepening rift between the countries. From now on, Egypt will enjoy as much oil as it needs at a lower cost, compared to Saudi pricing.
Egyptian President Al-Sisi rejected the Saudi-backed efforts to overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. He is also reaching out to former-Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and to his Houthi allies Saudi Arabia is fighting since March 2015. Cairo opened diplomatic channels with the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah, fighting on the side of President Assad in Syria against the rebel groups supported by Riyadh.
Iraq will provide Egypt with 1 million barrels of Basra light oil each month. The agreement involves extending an oil pipeline from Iraq to Egypt via Jordan. In December, Iraqi petroleum minister Ali al-Luiabi met with the heads of major oil and natural gas companies in Cairo, inviting them to contribute into developing the industry in his country.
Egypt is about to train four Iraqi army units on war against terrorism, in light of the rapprochement between Egypt and the Iraqi-Iranian axis in the region.
It also mulls sending peacekeeping troops to Syria during the coming days to support the ceasefire agreement under the auspices of Russia, Iran, and Turkey. It has been reported that a unit of Egyptian ground forces might deploy to Syria this month. Last October, Syrian National Security Bureau head Ali Mamlouk visited Cairo to meet Khaled Fawzy, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service. The two sides agreed to coordinate political positions and strengthen cooperation in «the fight against terror».
Egypt is a predominantly Sunni nation. Its open support of the Russia-backed coalition in Syria is a game changing event of fundamental importance. It makes the sectarian interpretation of the Syria’s conflict not valid anymore.
Middle East Observer quotes Nziv Net, an Israeli outlet close to intelligence sources, saying that «Egypt has sent a group of officers to Syria for the first time since the relations have frozen during Morsi’s reign».
Last December, Ibrahim al-Eshaiker al-Jaafari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, called on Egypt to participate in a «strategic project to fight terrorism», which includes Iran.
In September, Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shoukry met for the first time with his Iranian counterpart, Jawad Zarif, during their visits to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
In October, Egypt backed a Russian-backed motion in the UN calling for a ceasefire in Syria. The move angered Saudi Arabia, which suspended oil shipments to Cairo.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi publicly affirmed his support for the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The relations between Russia and Egypt have been on the rise. In February 2015, Egypt signed a breakthrough agreement on establishing a free trade zone with the Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union.
The progress in military cooperation is tangible. Egypt signed arms deals with Russia worth up to $5 billion by 2015 to include 50 MiG-29M combat aircraft, Buk-M2E and Antey-2500 long range air defense systems and about 50Ka-52K helicopters for Egypt’s new Mistral-class assault ships bought in France. The ships will receive the originally planned Russian helicopters and electronics suite.
The two countries signed several agreements for the renovation of military production factories in Egypt. A protocol is signed to grant Egypt access to GLONASS, the Russian global satellite positioning system. In September, Minister of Defense Sedky Sobhy visited Russia to discuss the issues related to long-term close security relationship. Last October, the militaries held a joint exercise.
Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. Last year, the country’s population has just reached 92 million. Its policy shift is well-substantiated. Cairo is fighting the Islamic State on the Sinai Peninsula. The fierce fighting there seldom hits media headlines but the IS poses a grave threat to Egypt. IS militants can also strike Egypt from Libya. The IS presence in Libya brings Egypt and Algeria together as the two great nations face the same threat.
The emerging Iran, Iraq, Russia and Turkey alliance may also include Algeria. In response to the growing menace, Algiers is strengthening ties with Moscow. It has recently purchased 14 Su-30MKA fighters and 40 Mi-28 «Night Hunter» attack helicopters from Russia. Last February, Russia and Algeria laid out a road-map for deepening bilateral economic and military cooperation during Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Algeria.
Russia’s cooperation with Egypt, Algeria and other countries of the Middle East and North Africa reflects Moscow’s growing clout in the region.
With the Astana process making progress, other large and influential actors, such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Algeria, may join the emerging Russia, Iran, Turkey coalition to make the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region face tectonic and dramatic changes.
From the CIA document dump earlier this week: Online Now! 12 Million Pages of Declassifed CIA Documents I read all four documents Ynet is claiming demonstrate some imminent danger against Israel.
What is actually written there leaves one with the impression that Israel desired and planned for the war- despite the US asking them, more than once, not to preemptively strike other nations. And clearly reporting that Israel had begun to mobilize troops in advance of their desired war.
Considering all the recent Israeli aggression against Syria present day. The invasion of Lebanon. I find it impossible to believe that Israel was anything but the aggressor in this instance.
Despite the spin put on this news by Ynet.
The very first document Ynet points to:
There is NO information to confirm Israeli reports of an imminent attack-
“We have no information that would confirm the Israeli reports of an imminent attack”
In fact there is proof of a partial mobilization of Israeli Defense forces already being underway
“He said that a partial mobilization of the Israeli Defense Force is underway”
The second document used by Ynet, again fails to demonstrate an attack is imminent against Israel- It may demonstrate that there was going to be an attack against Syria? If we should assume citizens of the Soviet Union were actually being evacuated? Which is what this document does. “probably”?
The third document doesn’t confirm imminent attack either?
The US asks Israel to exercise restraint
The US asks Israel to take no preemptive action
The US opposes preemptive action on the part of Israel
The fourth document tells us only about Israel’s intelligence.
“I was notified that the Israeli’s have what they consider to be hard information…”
“Urgently communicating with the Israelis, Warning them against any pre emptive attack”
And Egypt expected an Israeli provocation..
Ynet : The morning of the coordinated attack on Israel, US assessments flipped from presuming war was not on the horizon to frantic attempts to prevent Syria and Turkey from attacking the Jewish state, which was warned off any preemptive strike.
Read the documents and decide for yourself... In all four documents it is clear Israel has prepared for an aggressive move and the US is repeatedly calling for restraint. Warning Israel not to move preemptively. Egypt expecting an Israeli provocation..
A side-effect of Donald Trump’s election as president could be the improvement in Saudi-Iranian ties. Of course, cynics may argue that it is about time the relationship got better, because it can’t get any worse – short of war. But the Trump factor becomes a stimulus in a positive direction.
Broadly, the US policy (which Hillary Clinton would have happily continued) of playing Saudi Arabia against Iran on the one hand and nudging the Arab allies and Israel to form a united regional front under American leadership on the other hand, is ending. It was a hopeless strategy to begin with, and Trump will not waste time in resuscitating it on its death bed.
Egypt’s recent ‘defection’ to the Russian-Iranian camp in the Syrian conflict (which also anticipates the Trump presidency, by the way), lethally wounds the myth of Arab unity against Iran, which Saudis had been fostering. Interestingly, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry is in New York where he met Vice President–elect Mike Pence on Thursday to hand over a letter from President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi to Trump. At the same time, Sisi himself is on a visit to the UAE (which is mediating in the Saudi-Egyptian rift.) Egypt anticipates an easing of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran and is positioning itself.
For the Saudi regime, a Trump presidency means that it is losing the war in Syria. The blow to Saudi prestige on the Arab Street, regionally and internationally is enormous. But Saudis are preparing for the eventuality of President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power and the Syrian rebels facing the existential choice of surrendering and accepting the fait accompli (or meeting physical extinction.) The secret talks in Ankara, which have now come to light, between the rebel leadership with Russian intelligence and diplomats underscore that Aleppo is about to fall to the government forces and the war is over.
The ending of the war on such terms constitutes a big victory for Iran. This raises the question: Are the Saudis on a course correction themselves? There is growing evidence that this may be so.
First came the election of Michel Aoun as the new President of Lebanon on October 31, ending two years of deadlock. Aoun is very close to Hezbollah. (Iranian FM Mohammad Zarif was the first foreign dignitary to visit Beirut to congratulate Aoun.) Clearly, in the complicated political tug of war in Lebanon, Saudis appear to have simply retrenched, which facilitated Aoun’s election, piloted by Iran and the Hezbollah.
The consolidation in Lebanon and the sight of victory in the Syrian war (plus the incipient signs of a warming up with Egypt) would significantly strengthen Iran’s hand in regional politics. But, strangely, there is no triumphalism in Tehran. In the normal course, Tehran could have called the Saudis ‘losers’, but that is not happening.
Now comes the thunderbolt — OPEC oil production cut deal in Geneva on Wednesday. Admittedly, the oil market is unpredictable, the role of the US shale industry is uncertain and the OPEC deal needs to be firmed up at the December meeting in Moscow between the cartel and non-OPEC oil producers. But the bottom line nonetheless is that the deal is the final product of a big Saudi concession to Iran. Put differently, if the Saudis had dug in and refused to exempt Iran as a special case from the production cut, the deal wouldn’t have come through.
The OPEC deal signifies a tectonic shift in the Saudi-Iranian equations, which is below the radar as of now. It is not only about big money, but also the return of Iran to OPEC’s cockpit — indeed, about OPEC’s future itself. True, the Russians played a forceful role behind the scenes to bridge the gap between Riyadh and Tehran and push them to come closer. True, again, Saudis are in serious financial difficulty and the OPEC deal is expected to bring in more income out of a rise in oil price. However, in the final analysis, the Saudis did accommodate Iran’s demand that a restoration of the pre-sanctions OPEC production quota is its national prerogative and it must be exempted from any production cut. (NBC News gives a riveting account of how it all happened — How Putin, Khamenei, and a Saudi Prince Made the OPEC Deal.)
It is this shift in the Saudi mindset — away from the dogged attitude that Iran must be relentlessly punished even if that were to mean inflicting on itself a few bleeding self-wounds — that catches attention. Again, on Iran’s part too, it is this strangest of strange behaviour – total absence of triumphalism that the Saudis blinked in Geneva – is highly significant.
Simply put, taken together with the happenings in Lebanon, Iran is careering away from anti-Saudi grandstanding and rhetoric. Indeed, a similar roll back is discernible on the Saudi side also lately. (The Asharq al-Awsat newspaper recently replaced its editor-in-chief; Prince Turki bin Faisal has said Trump should not abandon the Iran nuclear deal.)
These are early days, but signs are that there is a thaw in the Saudi-Iranian ties. Given the Middle Eastern political culture, Saudi Arabia and Iran could be moving toward a modus vivendi sooner than one would have expected. Yemen will be the litmus test of a rapprochement.
During yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s “courageous leadership”.
Netanyahu criticised PA President Mahmoud Abbas policies of inciting Palestinians through the idea of the right of return.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to come to direct negotiations without preconditions, continues to incite his people regarding the idea of a right of return and erasing the State of Israel, and is not taking the right steps to start calming things and preparing public opinion for reconciliation with the State of Israel,” he added.
During the meeting, he referred to the visit of the former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem and his speech to the Knesset that launched the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal 39 years ago, describing the visit as “historic”.
“A peace agreement was achieved between Israel and Egypt through direct negotiations; this agreement has stood for almost 40 years, currently under the courageous leadership of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. I note this because here one can see the contrast with what is occurring vis-à-vis the Palestinians,” he said.
An Egyptian court on Saturday slapped three anti-coup TV presenters with a 3-year jail term each in absentia for spreading false news.
Egyptian authorities accuse Mohamed Naser, a presenter at the Mekameleen satellite channel, and two other colleagues of incitement and spreading false news.
The presenters, for their part, say they expose human rights abuses committed by Egypt’s military-backed authorities.
Saturday’s verdict, which still can be appealed, came shortly after an Egyptian court slapped the head of Egypt’s press syndicate and two board members with a 2-year jail term each for harbouring two journalists sought by the authorities at the syndicate’s headquarters.
In May, police raided the syndicate’s premises in Cairo, arresting the two journalists for allegedly “inciting protests” and “plotting to overthrow the ruling regime”.
Syndicate officials have decried the raid – the first in the syndicate’s history – as a “blatant assault on journalists’ dignity” and have demanded the interior minister’s dismissal.
Egyptian authorities have launched a harsh crackdown on dissent following the 2013 coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.
Last year, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said more than 20 journalists had been detained by Egyptian authorities since the coup.
Seven is a winning throw of the dice. But in our civil society, seven now signifies the multi-thong scourge, the whip used by the Western world as its instrument of punishment and, in response; seven signifies Nemesis and her sisters, the inescapable agents of the West’s downfall.
The seven scourges of the Western world are used against the people of Asia, Africa, Latin and North America. These whips are constructed, wielded and unleashed especially by the US and the UK.
The seven sisters of Nemesis, the Erinyes, are the Furies who pursue the injustices committed by the Western world against Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Those holding the scourge detest and fear Nemesis and the Furies, but are incapable of destroying them. Try as they might, their whip is in corrupt and feeble hands and, of course, it can only follow their orders: Otherwise, it just twitches and remains immobile, while Nemesis pursues the scourgers of humanity.
The Seven-Tailed Scourge of the Western World
The ‘whip’ wielded by the Western world, is used to punish disobedient, ‘rebellious’ people, movements and states. Their multiple lashes have bloodied countless generations and buried millions.
The seven scourges against humanity are unrepentant in their promotion of ‘Western values’ – visible to the terrified world on the red raw backs of oppressed people, their wounds flayed open by the faceless drones proclaiming their gifts of freedom and democracy.
Let us go forward now and describe the pillars holding up the Western empire, the seven-tailed scourge of humanity.
1. Mexico: The Cartel, the Narco-State, US Bankers and Death Squads
Over the last two decades, over a quarter million Mexicans have been murdered by the joint forces of the drug cartels, the Mexican State and its death squads, presided over by the US state and backed by its rapacious financial sector. Cartels and complicit Mexican officials prosper because US banks launder their narco-dollars by the billions. On their part, US corporations grow even richer by relocating their plants to Mexico where terrorized workers can be exploited for 1/5 the cost. Amidst the terror and exploitation, over 11 million Mexican workers and family members have fled to the US running from their local scourges, only to confront the US scourge of deportation. Over 2 million have been imprisoned and expelled under Obama.
2. Honduras and Guatemala: Imperial Wars, Drug Gangs and Narco-Oligarchs
Destitution and state terror are direct products of US–installed regimes in Honduras and Guatemala. Guatemala’s indigenous majority was ravaged by US and Israeli-trained military battalions and death squads. In their wake, scores of narco-gangs, sponsored by local oligarchs and their own private death squads, have emerged. The Honduran people attempted to elect an enlightened liberal President, and were ‘rewarded’ for their peaceful democratic election with a military coup orchestrated by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. They further underscore the lesson of ‘Western values’: Scores of human rights activists and peasant leaders have been murdered and the scourges continue unabated.
3. Colombia: Nobel Prize for Death Squad President
For the past fifteen years, (2001-2016), the Clinton-Bush-Obama regimes launched the seven-billion-dollar ‘Plan Colombia’ terror campaign against the Colombian people. This scourge was so powerful that over two and a half million peasants, Indigenous peoples, and Afro-Colombians have been driven from their homes and villages while, tens of thousands of peasants, trade unionists, human rights activists and civic leaders have been killed. The notorious narco-President Alvaro Uribe and his Vice President Santos worked with the death squads and the Colombian military under the instruction of over one thousand US military advisers and contract mercenaries as they imposed a scorched earth policy – to consolidate a ‘reign of Western values’.
In Colombia, the three-tailed scourge of narco-presidents, death squads and the military decimated rural communities throughout that large and populous nation. They finally induced the FARC guerrillas to submit to a ‘peace’ agreement, which perpetuated the oligarchy. The US remains free to exploit Colombia for its military bases against the rest of Latin America, while foreign corporations exploit its mineral riches. For his part in promoting the ‘peace of the dead’, Colombian President Santos received the Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize.
4. Saudi Arabia: A Household Name Among the Middle East Scourges
No country in the Middle East has financed, organized and directed terrorism in the Middle East, South Asia, North and East Africa, the former Soviet Union and even North America, more than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It currently scourges the tiny nation of Yemen. Using its ISIS mercenaries, backed by jets, missiles, and logistical support from the UK and the USA, the Saudi despots have invaded maimed and murdered tens of thousands of Yemenis, while hundreds of thousands face starvation in a Saudi-imposed blockade.
The Saudi billionaire regime bankrolled thousands of terrorists in Syria and Iraq, giving billions of dollars of business to US and UK arms manufacturers. Saudi monarchs and their extended clans form a parasitic rentier regime unique in the world. They rely on the skills and labor of imported professionals, workers, household servants, mercenary solders, financial managers and even their praetorian guards. They confine their women behind the veil and closed doors, under the absolute rule of male relatives. They chop off the hands, feet and heads of foreign workers and their own citizens for minor offenses, including ‘blasphemy’, criticism of the king or resisting an employer’s abuse. Saudi Arabia, which is totally dependent on Washington’s protection, has become a scourge especially against Muslim people throughout the Middle East and beyond.
5. Israel: The Scourge of Palestine and Free People Near and Far
The Israeli State is the head commanding the tentacles of a far-reaching Zionist Power Configuration operating in the US, Canada, England, France and, to a less degree, in satellite states and institutions. Israel was established on the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians from their homes and villages since 1948. For almost 50 years, 600,000 ‘Israeli’ Jews (immigrants given automatic ‘citizenship’ and stolen property based solely on their ‘ethno-religious’ identity) have illegally moved into what remained of historical Palestine, building exclusive ‘Jews-only’ colonial towns on land ripped from its original inhabitants. The Palestinians are herded into apartheid militarized enclaves and squalid camps. Israel invaded and devastated large parts of Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. They have bombed other nations, like Jordan and Iraq, with impunity. The Israeli state uses a virtual fifth column of loyalist organizations and billionaire financiers in the US and EU who ultimately dictate Middle East policy to the ‘elected’ Western politicians. Presidents and Prime Ministers, Cabinet members and legislators must publicly bow to the increasing demands of the overseas Zionist power structure. This has undermined the will and interests of national electorates and democratic procedures. All public discourse on this vital issue has been censored because critics of Israel’s influence are subjected to unremitting campaigns of overt coercion, threats, jailing on trumped up charges, vilification and job loss – within their own countries in the ‘democratic’ West. Meanwhile, Israel has sold its much-vaunted expertise in surveillance, torture and counter-insurgency to its fellow scourgers in Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and even Afghanistan.
6. Egypt: Modern Scourges of an Ancient People
For decades, Egyptian military dictators have served the Anglo-American Empire and Israel’s ruling colonists in the Middle East, North and East Africa. Generals-turned-‘Presidents’ Hosni Mubarak and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi specialized in murdering, torturing and jailing thousands of Egyptian trade unionists, dissident activists, peasant leaders and the restless urban poor. These violently installed Egyptian rulers are expected to collaborate with Israel and trap millions of desperate Palestinians in the world’s largest open air prison: Gaza. Cairo actively collaborates with the US and Israel in subverting the people and institutions of Gaza, Libya, Somalia and Sudan – guaranteeing that none will be functioning, independent modern states. Egypt’s first and only elected president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by General Sisi and sentenced to twenty years in a military torture dungeon (a virtual death sentence for a 65 year old) by a kangaroo court under the direction of Washington and Tel Aviv. Egypt, once the epicenter for civil democratic expression — ‘the Arab Spring’ — has become the a major staging area for US-backed jihadi terrorists entering Syria.
7. ISIS, NUSRA Front, Ukraine and Syria: Puppets, Kleptocrats, Fascists and Terrorists
In this very modern Western world, where democratic values are sold to the cheapest buyer, the US, the UK and the EU shop for mercenaries and puppet regimes in order to scourge their critics and adversaries.
The West, led by the Grand Scourger Hillary Clinton, bombed Libya and destroyed its entire modern state apparatus. They opened the floodgates to thousands of mercenaries and terrorist-thugs of all colors and stripes to feed off the carcass of what Mouammar Gaddafi and the modern Libyan state had built over the past 40 years. These criminals, draped in the banners of ‘humanitarian intervention’ or ‘mission civilisatice’, ran amok, killing and ravaging tens of thousands of Libyan citizens and contract workers of sub-Saharan African origin. The tens of thousands of Africans desperately fleeing each year into the Mediterranean are the result of this Western rampage against the Libyan state. The jihadis have moved on… by those who forgot to distinguish between terrorists who support our ‘democratic values’ and those who would attack the West. The West can’t be blamed: Mercenaries change sides so often.
The ethnic cleansing scourges of the past returned to the Ukraine: as (neo) fascists took power in Kiev, storming the Parliament and forcing the President to flee. Nazi-era banners decorated the streets of Kiev under the approving gaze of the US State Department. Neo-Nazi thugs massacred scores of unarmed ethnic Russian citizens in the port city of Odessa when they set fire to the main trade union hall where the trapped men, women and youths were burned alive or bludgeoned while fleeing the flames. The US State Department had spent $5 billion dollars to replace an elected government with a pliant regime in Kiev while large parts of the country fell into civil war. The ethnic Russian populations of the industrialized Donbas region resisted and were invaded by an ethnically cleansed and neo-fascist putschist Ukrainian army – under US-EU supervision. The war has cost tens of thousands of lives, a million refugees fled to Russia and a divided failing state now festers in the heart of Europe. Kleptocrats and Fascists in Kiev oversee an utterly bankrupt economy. The destitute citizens abandon the towns and cities; some fleeing to Poland to pick potatoes as their serf ancestors did a century ago.
Syria has been ravaged by an immense army of mercenary scourges, financed and supplied by the US, EU, Turkey and, of course, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda had merely to change its battle flags to NUSRA and receive the US benediction as ‘moderate pro-Western democrats’ resisting a Baathist dictatorship in Damascus. In the course of their ‘democratic’ mission they destroyed the ancient, critical cultural and economic center of Aleppo – scourging the Christians and non-jihadi Muslims and other ancient minorities. Over two million Syrians have died or fled the fiery scourge of Anglo-American and Saudi-Turkish terror.
The Seven Sisters: Nemesis and the Furies Confront the Western World
The scourges are falling on hard times: East and West, North and South they face their inescapable Nemesis. Their exposed injustices, crimes and grotesque failures herald their inevitable downfall. The seven furies are even emerging in unusual places:
1. The economic and trade power of China challenges the West throughout world, expanding even into the heartland of the empire. The West’s fear over China’s peaceful economic expansion has led Western political leaders to revive protectionist policies, claiming that barriers against Chinese investors must be raised to prevent takeovers by Beijing. From July 2015 to September 2016, the West blocked nearly $40 billion in productive Chinese investment. This comes after decades of preaching the virtues of foreign investment and the universal benefits of ‘globalization’. Suddenly Western leaders claim that Chinese investment is a ‘threat to national security’ and ‘profits Chinese businesses over Western-owned enterprises.’
Meanwhile, far from this Sino-phobic hysteria, the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America actively seek greater economic ties with China to the detriment of US-EU multinationals. Once servile Asian countries, like the Philippines, have declared unfettered US access to frontline imperial military bases in doubt, as they sign favorable multi-billion trade and investment agreements with China. Western imperial ideology about investment and globalization has boomeranged and met its Nemesis.
2. The Russian Furies: Vladimir Putin
During the 1990s, the US plundered Russia at will. Washington imposed a uni-polar world, celebrated as the New World Order. They bombed and devastated former Russian allies like Yugoslavia and Iraq, setting up ethnically cleansed rump states like Kosovo for their huge military bases. Meanwhile, Washington reduced Russia, under the inebriate Yeltsin regime, to a backwater vassal stripped of its resources, its institutions, scientists, and research centers. In the absence of war, the Russian economy declined by 50% and life expectancy fell below that of Bangladesh. The US celebrated this ‘victory of democracy’ over a helpless, deteriorating state by welcoming the most obscene new gangster oligarchs and pillagers and laundering their bloodstained loot.
The door slammed shut on the pillage with the election of Vladimir Putin and the demise of the Yeltsin gangster-government. Russia was transformed. Putin reversed Russia’s demise: the economy recovered, living standards rose abruptly, employment in all sectors increased, and cultural, educational and scientific centers were restored. Vladimir Putin was elected and re-elected by overwhelming majorities of the Russian electorate despite huge sums of Western money going to his opponents. Russia systematically recovered many strategic sectors of the economy illegally seized by Western-backed Israeli-Russian oligarchs Even more important, Putin restored Russian statecraft and diplomacy – formulating a strategy for an independent, democratic foreign policy and restoring Russia’s defense capability. The loss of this critical vassal state under its dipsomaniacal Boris Yeltsin shook the US EU-NATO alliance to its very core.
In the beginning President Putin did not oppose the US-NATO military invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It went along with the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. It even maintained its cooperation despite a US-sponsored attack by the government of Georgia against South Ossetia killing scores of Russian peacekeepers. In the wake of those destabilizing disasters, what finally led the Russian government to reverse its complicity with the West was the horrific US-financed invasion of Syria where Russian jihadis from the Caucasus were playing an important role as mercenaries, threatening to return and undermine the stability of Russia. This was quickly followed by the US-sponsored putsch in Ukraine, fomenting a civil war on Russia’s frontiers, threatening is vital naval base in Crimea and repressing millions of ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens in the industrialized Donbas region. This blatant aggression finally pushed Putin to challenge the expansionist policies of Washington and the EU.
Putin backed a plebiscite in Crimea and won when its citizens voted overwhelmingly to re-join and preserve the Russian bases. Putin has backed the rebel defense of the Donbas against a NATO-neo-fascist Kiev invasion.
Putin accepted a request for aid from the Syrian government as it battled mercenaries and jihadis to preserve its national integrity. The Russians sent arms, troops and air support for the Syrian Arab Army, rolling back the Western and Saudi armed terrorists.
In response to the Washington-EU economic sanctions against Russia over the Crimean plebiscite, Putin signed multi-billion-dollar trade and investment agreements and joint defense pacts with China – mitigating the impact of the sanctions.
Wherever Washington seeks to seize and control territory and regimes in Eurasia, it now faces the Putin nemesis. In Russia and overseas, in the Middle East and the Caucuses, in the Persian Gulf and Asia, the US meets stalemates at best, and roll-back at worst.
The CIA-stooge Yeltsin and his cronies were evicted from the Kremlin to the indignation of Washington and the EU. Many of the kleptocrats, politicos, thugs and swindlers fled to their new homes in Langley, on Wall Street, in Washington or set up talk-shops at Harvard. Even the gruesome Chechens had their ‘color-coded’ support center (the CIA-American Committee for Peace in Chechnya) based in Boston. Never in modern history has a country so rapidly transformed from degraded vassalage to a dynamic global power as Russia. Never has the US seen its grand imperial design so successfully challenged in so many places at the same time.
The Putin Nemesis has become the inescapable agent of the downfall of the US Empire.
3. The Islamic Republic of Iran became a Muslim-nationalist alternative to the US-Israeli dominated Muslim dictatorships and monarchies in the Middle East. The Iranian Revolutions inspired citizens throughout Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq and Yemen. As a result of its growing influence, Iran was punished by the US and EU with crippling economic sanctions pushed especially by Tel Aviv and its Western agents. Fearful that Iran’s example would destabilize its control, the US invaded Lebanon, promoted the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon and has backed the terrorist campaign to dismember Syria. The results have been dismal for Washington: Iran continues to support the powerful Hezbollah, a major political and military power in Lebanon. The Saudi’s war against Yemen is largely an ethno-religious campaign to destroy Yeminis who favor independence over Saudi-US control and have Iran’s support. Iraq’s Shia resistance forces are leading the attack against the Saudi-funded ISIS terrorists, with Iranian commanders playing a significant role.
Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, drove out the Israeli occupation forces and raised the cost of another invasion by Tel Aviv.
Against all the impotent, corrupt Arab puppets in the Middle East, only Iran has supported the Palestinians. It is the only force capable of retaliating against an Israeli sneak attack – which is why it is demonized.
Iran is the Nemesis against US plans to conquer and dismember Syria. It has provided arms and volunteers on the battlefield against terrorist mercenaries.
Iran effectively negotiated a partial lifting of Western sanctions, overcoming Israeli intransigence and securing billion-dollar trade agreements with Germany, Russia and China. It holds the prospects for productive trade and diplomatic deals in the near future – to the howling consternation of its enemies in Washington, Riyadh, London and Tel Aviv.
For all the efforts by the tentacles of Israel’s fifth column, Iran has survived and emerged as the Nemesis of Anglo-American and Israeli ambitions in the Middle East.
4. Venezuela became the leading proponent for an independent foreign policy in Latin America. For almost twenty years, the US tried repeatedly to overthrow the government in Caracas. They failed. By ballot or by bullet, despite slapping economic sanctions on Venezuela, the US suffered humiliating defeats and failed coups and aborted uprisings. Venezuela remains Washington’s principal Nemesis, thwarting its efforts to make ‘free trade’ pacts and deepen military alliances in Latin America.
5. Upon taking office in June 2016, the Philippines new president Rodrigo Duterte assumed the lead role of Washington’s most colorful ‘Nemesis’ in Southeast Asia. Under his widely popular presidency, he pivoted to China, promising to sharply reduce joint Philippine-US military exercises in the South China Sea directed against Beijing and, in return, he secured the co-operation of several hundred leading Philippine entrepreneurs in winning an initial $13 billion dollar public-private Chinese investment package for critical infrastructure and trade development..
President Duterte has frequently denounced Washington’s interference in his domestic war on drug traffickers – citing the US hypocrisy in its criticism of his human rights record. He has personally held President Obama responsible for meddling in Philippine affairs. Drawing on the history of the bloody US colonial war against the Philippine people in 1898, he holds the US responsible for inciting ethno-religious conflicts in the southern island of Mindanao – Duterte’s home region.
President Duterte’s declaration of independence from Washington (“I am no one’s ‘tuta’ [puppy dog]”)and his foreign policy priority of ‘pivoting’ from US military domination to regional economic co-operation with Beijing has turned the Philippines into Washington’s prime Nemesis in Southeast Asia.
6. The resistance of the Yemeni people, mainly ethnic Houthi freedom fighters, against the onslaught of bombing and missile strikes by the Saudi-US-UK air force, has aroused widespread solidarity throughout the Middle East.
Despite the ongoing massacre of over 10,000 Yeminis, mostly civilians, the Saudi ‘alliance’ has failed to impose a puppet regime. US links with the Saudi dictatorship have undermined its claims of humanitarian concerns for the people of Yemen. The embattled Houthi rebels have secured the support of Iran, Iraq and the majority of people in the Persian Gulf countries. As the war continues, the Saudi’s increasingly rely on military trainers, fighter bombers and logistical experts from the US, UK and NATO to pick the targets and maintain the starvation blockade. Sooner or later the courageous and tenacious resistance of the free people of Yemen against the Saudi overlords will inspire a domestic Saudi uprising against its grotesque and decrepit theocratic-monarchist state. The fall of the Royal House of Saud will bury a major scourge in the Middle East. In a word, the battle for Yemen has become the Nemesis of US-Saudi domination.
7. Everywhere in the Western world the ruling classes and their media outlets fear and loath ‘populists’ – leaders, movements, electorates – who reject their austerity programs designed to deepen inequalities and further enrich the elite. Throughout the European Union and in North and South America, workers and middle class majorities are on the march to oust the ‘free market’ regimes and restore the ‘populist’ welfare state, with its emphasis on social services, living wages and humane working conditions.
From the UK to France, Poland to Portugal, China to North America, Mexico to Argentina, the Nemesis and Furies of populist rollbacks threaten to dislodge the scourge held by the bankers, conglomerates and billionaires. Scattered populists may hold diverse ideologies; some may be nationalists, leftists, workers, farmers, petit bourgeois and public employees, indebted students, ecologists or protectionists. All are both united and divided by disparate interests and beliefs. And all are preparing for the inevitable downfall of the empire of the free market and wars.
Today the world’s greatest global conflicts have lined up the Imperial West and its frontline scourging allies against the Furies and Nemesis emerging on all continents. These are the inescapable agents of the Empire’s downfall.
The scourges of the West have been free to plunder the wealth of subject peoples and launch wars, which ravage both ancient and modern states and cultures while slaughtering and dispossessing scores of millions. The West derives its lifeblood through its seven-tailed scourge. Western elites rule through a chain of scourging puppet states with their bloody accomplices, from narco-murderers, Islamists terrorists, death squads to ordinary ‘piecework’ torturers.
Without resorting too much to the wisdom of the ancient Greek myths, we have come to believe that states, regimes, movements and people finally will emerge to act as the inescapable agents of the justice leading to the downfall of the Western empire. Modern Nemesis and Furies have a dual existence: While bringing down the old order they seek to create alternatives.
The ‘scourgers’ are by their nature specialists in wanton crimes against humanity. Nemesis and her sisters challenge and oust the latter as they construct their own new centers of wealth and power. China, Russia and Iran have gone beyond the role of Nemesis to the West – they are poised to build a new civilization on its ruins.
It remains an open question whether they can avoid becoming the new scourge against the people and nations who have risen in revolt.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interview with the French TV this week almost entirely dwelt on the Syrian situation – fighting in Aleppo, in particular. Putin was frank about the US’ doublespeak – especially, its covert dealings with Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and the calculated hour-long attack by US jets on a Syrian military base two weeks ago in tandem with ground operations by Islamic State fighters. The interview is an eye-opener. (Transcript)
Given the complete breakdown of trust in Russian-American dealings on Syria at the diplomatic and political level, it is hard to see what purpose would be served in the FM-level meeting being scheduled in Lausanne on Saturday, involving Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia and the US. (Middle East Eye )
Perhaps, one ray of hope could be that the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura’s formula that the rebel fighters, including those belonging to Nusra, be allowed safe passage to evacuate from Aleppo with their weapons so that the fighting can somehow be brought to an early end. Russia favors the idea and it seems Turkey is on board, too. Moscow has taken Tehran’s okay as well. If Mistura’s formula takes wings, there could be ceasefire in Aleppo.
But the broad thrust of the Russian-Iranian-Syrian campaign cannot conceivably be anything short of taking control of Aleppo. The one factor that goes in favour of some positive tiding coming out of Saturday’s meeting is that the Obama administration has run out of options on Syria and Washington is under compulsion to be seen as ‘proactive’ on Syria. (Times )
The control of the Syrian air space by Russia means that any military intervention may risk confrontation with Russia. Besides, US-Turkey relations too are on a roller coaster and without Turkey’s cooperation, Americans can’t go very far on Syria. On Wednesday, President Recep Erdogan warned Washington that Turkey will “resort to very serious steps” if the Obama administration drags its feet on the extradition of the Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen. (Sputnik )
The following excerpts of an Iranian commentary (Fars news agency) bring out the US’ predicament:
- US officials are terrified to see eastern Aleppo fall into the hands of Syrian armed forces. They are furious about the allied forces of Iran, Syria, Russia and Hezbollah hitting its so-called “moderate rebels,” who are heavily armed and backed by the Pentagon… who have long been working with Al-Nusra and ISIL, shared their western arms supplies with these two groups and staged joint military operations with them everywhere in Aleppo, and every day you see one of them declares formal allegiance to either Al-Nusra or ISIL; the last one was Jund Al-Aqsa half of whom joined Al-Nusra on Sunday and the rest arrived in Raqqa on Wednesday to join the ISIL. The only way to stop the crushing defeat of its terrorists at the hands of the Syrian army and its allies is for Washington to establish a no-fly zone, which they cannot.
Clearly, the threats by US Secretary of State John Kerry to put Russia and Syria on trial for ‘war crimes’ and to impose fresh sanctions against Moscow over the Aleppo fighting, etc. – and, least of all, the veiled threat that US may have a ‘Plan B’ – are turning out to be bluster. With Russia’s decision to establish a full-fledged naval base at Tartus and a “permanent deployment” of Russian air force in the Hmeimin air base, it becomes a high-risk venture for the US to challenge Russian supremacy in Syria. Moscow’s politico-military objective in the 2-3 months that lie ahead will be to forestall even an interventionist US president such as Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, the realignments in regional politics also strengthen Russia’s position. Egypt’s decision to join hands with China and Venezuela to support the Russian resolution on Aleppo at the UN Security Council in the weekend – and, more important, to oppose the French resolution demanding end to air attacks on Aleppo (which Moscow vetoed) – has strained Egypt-Saudi Arabia relations. Since the vote, the Aramco, government-owned Saudi oil company, suspended oil aid to Egypt. The Saudi ambassador to Egypt left Cairo on Wednesday for consultations in Riyadh, prompting speculation about chill in Saudi-Egyptian ties. Russia is due to hold its first-ever military exercise on Egyptian territory next week.