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Destroy Syria… Get Others to Pay

By Finian Cunningham – Sputnik – 05.02.2016

Citizens of the world are being asked to dig deep for humanitarian aid to Syria. After five years of war and millions displaced there is an urgent need for the world to lend a hand, we are told.

At a so-called “donor conference” in London this week, British prime minister David Cameron appealed to the rest of the world to stump up $8 billion to help war-torn Syria.

Among the 60 nations attending the confab were the US, France, Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Senior figures from these countries were wringing their hands in anguish over the plight of Syrian refugees.

Washington’s top diplomat John Kerry told delegates: “With people reduced to eating grass and leaves and killing stray animals in order to survive on a day-to-day basis, that is something that should tear at the conscience of all civilized people and we all have a responsibility to respond to it.”

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon adjured nations to “take responsibility to end the crisis in Syria”.

Take responsibility for ending the crisis? How about taking responsibility for beginning it?

Cameron, Kerry and the rest of these charlatans should spare us the emotional blackmail. Most of the governments represented at the London conference are the very instigators and perpetrators of Syria’s destruction.

Why should the rest of the world pay for their crimes?

This is not to suggest that people should simply turn their backs on fellow humans in dire need. But let’s get some straight-thinking here.

Those governments and individual politicians who oversaw regime change in Syria should be paying for their violations, either through massive financial reparations or in jail time. And why not both.

The case is irrefutable. The US-led regime-change plot to subjugate Syria goes back several years, according to numerous sources, such as American diplomatic cables released by the whistleblowing site Wikileaks, former French foreign minister Roland Dumas and ex-NATO supreme commander US General Wesley Clark.

It is only largely due to the dutiful dissembling by the Western news media that such criminality might seem rather outlandish. But it is not outlandish. It is documented and provable. Western governments are culpable in a criminal scheme of regime change in Syria, as they have been in countless other unfortunate countries.

From the outbreak of violence in mid-March 2011, the Arab country has been a charnel house of covert war involving the most vile terrorist mercenaries. Those who take ultimate responsibility for the violence are the authors of the regime-change plot in Syria. Top of the list are Washington, London, Paris, as well as their regional client regimes.

With an estimated 250,000 dead and nearly half of the 23 million population turned into refugees, the total war damage to Syria has been estimated to be at least $100 billion. This is what Washington and its allies owe Syria — and no doubt far, far more — and yet these country-destroying rogue states are trying to wheedle money out of world citizens to pay for their criminal excesses, with the emotional plea of “humanitarian aid”.

Washington and its co-conspirators for covert war in Syria want the rest of the world to pay for their criminal scheming by cajoling the UN, the European Union and anyone else who will listen to fork out “humanitarian aid”. Make no mistake this will eventually translate into ordinary taxpayers, workers and families, paying the bill for their governments’ sanctimonious financial pledges.

In other words, Western powers like the US, Britain and France together with their regional client regimes in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, unleash mass murder and mayhem on a once peaceful, sovereign country — and instead of being held to account under international law for their criminal aggression, these rogue states are getting the rest of the world to subsidize their evil enterprise.

The “donor conference” in London this week was the fifth in a series going back to 2012. Last year, the fundraiser fell well short of its appeals. This year, British leader David Cameron went out of his way to give the appeal added urgency.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Cameron said: “Sufficient funding to guarantee the basics of life that these refugees need must be the bare minimum expected of us.”

The British premier emphasized the need for more aid given to refugee centers in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where nearly five million Syrians have been displaced and are languishing in squalid camps.

Cameron’s apparent concern belies his real worry. He doesn’t want any more refugees streaming into Europe and towards Britain. That’s why the British leader is now calling for more international donations and for the cash to be thrown at Syria’s immediate neighbors in order to keep refugees there.

Going back to UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, he told the London conference:

“The situation in Syria is as close to hell as we are likely to find on this Earth.”

Syria is indeed a hell on Earth. Made by people like Cameron and Kerry with whom Ban Ki-Moon was rubbing shoulders with in London this week.

Turkey was represented by prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu who tried to blame the humanitarian crisis on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s military intervention. Davutoglu’s lies are particularly nauseating given Ankara’s role in acting as a conduit for terror brigades infiltrating Syria and his country’s ongoing threats of outright military invasion.

NATO member Turkey’s role in fueling Syria’s refugee crisis through its regime-change machinations is acutely reprehensible. And yet Ankara is to receive $3.4 billion from European Union taxpayers, allegedly to help with stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.

This is just one aspect of the general trend that Washington and its allies are establishing with breath-taking audacity. They have all but destroyed Syria with their covert war using terrorist proxies, and yet they are getting the rest of the world to pay for their crimes.

The cost of war and imperialist crimes was always offloaded on to ordinary people by their rulers. In that regard, nothing much has changed. Except that the scam has become even more brazen.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paris airport workers protest after ‘fake’ bombs found in US embassy parcel

RT | January 28, 2016

FedEx staff at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris have complained about “irresponsible” security drills after finding explosives in a ripped package in transit from the US to Tunisia. After the bombs turned out to be fake, airport personnel were told they were part of US anti-terrorist exercises.

A pressure cooker with nuts and bolts was discovered by employees of FedEx, the American courier service, at the airport on January 22, French media reported Thursday, citing sources.

After further inspection, the company staff also found other packages with devices that resembled explosives and detonators, said Frederic Petit, FedEx employees’ representative for the CGT union.

The employees immediately called police, saying that there was “imminent danger” at the airport, Petit added. The officers arrived with dogs and X-ray machines to inspect the devices.

But a security source at the airport said the devices were decoys bound for the US embassy in Tunisia as a part of training exercise.

“This type of delivery is not common, but sometimes takes place,” the source told AFP. “This is just the first time that a package has been opened.”

However, this explanation didn’t satisfy FedEx employees in the wake of the recent deadly attacks in French capital in November.

“No one was aware of this cargo,” said Petit, adding that these drills are “irresponsible, especially in the very state of emergency” declared after the attacks in Paris when Islamic State terrorists killed 130 people.

FedEx workers have reportedly decided to call for a prohibition on sending such parcels without notice, due to the security situation in France.

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , | Leave a comment

Why the US anti-terror coalition is failing

By Finian Cunningham | American Herald Tribune | January 21 ,2016

There was an underwhelming sense when Pentagon boss Ashton Carter met this week in Paris with other members of the US-led military coalition supposedly fighting the ISIL terror group.

The US-led coalition was set up at the end of 2014 and in theory comprises 60 nations. The main military operation of the alliance is an aerial bombing campaign against terrorist units of IS (also known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh).

At the Paris meeting this week, Secretary of Defense Carter was joined by counterparts from just six countries: France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Australia. Where were the other 54 nations of the coalition?

Carter and French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian patted themselves on the back about “momentum”in their campaign against the terrorist network. However, platitudes aside, there was a noticeable crestfallen atmosphere at the meeting of the shrunken US-led coalition.

One telling point was Carter exhorting Arab countries to contribute more. As a headline in the Financial Times put it: “US urges Arab nations to boost ISIS fight”.

Carter didn’t mention specific names but it was clear he was referring to Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab states, including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

When the US initiated the anti-IS coalition in 2014, fighter jets from the Sunni Arab states participated in the aerial campaign. They quickly fell away from the operation and instead directed their military forces to Yemen, where the Saudi-led Arab coalition has been bombing that country non-stop since March 2015 to thwart an uprising by Houthi revolutionaries.

But there is an even deeper, more disturbing reason for the lack of Arab support for the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria. That is because Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni monarchies are implicated in funding and arming the very terrorists that Washington’s coalition is supposedly combating.

Several senior US officials have at various times admitted this. Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton labelled Saudi Arabia as the main sponsor of “Sunni extremist groups”in diplomatic cables when she was Secretary of State back in 2009, as disclosed by Wikileaks.

Vice President Joe Biden, while addressing a Harvard University forum in late 2014, also spilled the beans on the Persian Gulf states and Turkey being behind the rise of terror groups in the Middle East.

So there is substantial reason why the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria has not delivered decisive results. It is the same reason why Carter was joined by only six other countries in Paris this week and why there was a glaring absence of Saudi Arabia and other Arab members. These despotic regimes –whom Washington claims as “allies”–are part of the terrorist problem.

Not that the US or its Western allies are blameless. Far from it. It was Washington after all that master-minded the regime-change operations in Iraq and Syria, which spawned the terror groups.

In fact, we can go further and point to evidence, such as the testimony of Lt General Michael Flynn of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which shows that the US enlisted the terror brigades as proxies to do its dirty work in Syria for regime change.

The US and its Western allies conceal this collusion by claiming that they are supporting “moderate rebels”–not extremists. But the so-called moderates have ended up joining the terrorists and sharing their US-supplied weapons. The distinction between these groups is thus meaningless, leaving the baleful conclusion that Washington, London and Paris are simply colluding with terrorism.

US Republican presidential contenders and media pundits berate the Obama administration for not doing enough militarily to defeat IS. Or as Donald Trump’s backer Sarah Palin would say to “kick ass”.

The unsettling truth is that the US cannot do more to defeat terrorism in the Middle East because Washington and its allies are the source of terrorism in the region. Through their meddling and machinations, Washington and its cohorts have created a veritable Frankenstein monster.

The “coalition”that is actually inflicting serious damage to IS and its various terror franchises is that of Russia working in strategic cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army of President Bashar al-Assad. Since Russia began its aerial bombing campaign nearly four months ago, we have seen a near collapse of the terror network’s oil and weapons smuggling rackets and hundreds of their bases destroyed.

Yet Ashton Carter this week accused Russia of impeding the fight against terrorism in Syria because of its support for the Assad government. Talk about double think!

If we strip away the false rhetoric and mainstream media misinformation, Washington’s “anti-terror”coalition can be seen as not merely incompetently leading from behind.

The US, its Western allies and regional client regimes are in the front ranks of the terror problem.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Paris state of emergency to remain till Daesh defeat: French PM

Press TV – January 22, 2016

France says the state of emergency put in place in Paris after last November’s deadly terror attacks by Daesh will be extended until the world could totally get rid of the Takfiri terror group.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview with BBC Europe that France would seek to keep the state of emergency in place until the end of what he called the “global war” against Daesh terrorists.

“As long as the threat is there, we must use all the means,” he said, adding the state of emergency should stay in place “until we can get rid of Daesh.”

The French premier also called for a “total, global and ruthless” war against Daesh, which has swathes of land under control in Iraq and Syria since June 2014.

The state of emergency was imposed assailants struck at least six different venues in and around Paris on November 13, 2015. The terrorist attacks, claimed by Daesh, left 130 people dead and over 350 others wounded.

The exceptional measures adopted under the state of emergency empower the French police to keep people in their homes without trial, searching houses without judicial approval and blocking suspicious websites.

The new measures also include a ban on public demonstrations and allow authorities to dissolve groups inciting any acts that seriously affect public order in France.

UN rights specialists have called on the French government not to extend the state of emergency beyond February 2016 and instead ensure protection against any abuse of power while combating terror.

A number of French nationals are fighting alongside terror groups in Syria.

Refugee crisis in Europe

Valls warned that the European Union faces a grave danger from the ongoing refugee crisis.

He said the EU could not take all refugees fleeing the “terrible wars in Iraq or Syria. otherwise,” he added, “our societies will be totally destabilized.”

Europe has been facing an unprecedented inflow of refugees fleeing wars and violence in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.

According to Valls, Europe needed to take urgent action to control its external borders, emphasizing that “if Europe is not capable of protecting its own borders, it’s the very idea of Europe that will be questioned.”

“We cannot say or accept that all refugees … can be welcomed in Europe, “ Valls noted, criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called for her European partners to take on quotas of refugees.

He also said the EU needs to say in the strongest terms “that we will not welcome all the refugees in Europe.”

Last year, more than one million asylum seekers – the most since World War II – arrived in the European continent after making dangerous journeys by land and sea.

Everyday, about 2,000 refugees arrive in the European Union, according to official numbers.

January 22, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

UN rights experts warn France not to limit freedoms under anti-terror laws

Press TV – January 19, 2016

United Nations human rights experts have expressed concern about new counter-terrorism measures adopted in France against the backdrop of the deadly 2015 Paris attacks, calling on the French government to protect fundamental freedoms in its anti-terror battle.

In a statement released on Tuesday, a group of four UN rights specialists said the current state of emergency in France and surveillance laws impose “excessive and disproportionate restrictions” on the basic rights of people.

The statement said the main concerns center on “the lack of clarity and precision of several provisions of the … laws, related to the nature and scope of restrictions to the legitimate exercise of right to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to privacy.”

On November 13, 2015, assailants struck at least six different venues in and around Paris. The terrorist attacks left 130 people dead and over 350 others wounded. France introduced the state of emergency following the horrendous assaults, which were claimed by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

The exceptional measures adopted under the state of emergency empower the French police to keep people in their homes without trial, searching houses without judicial approval and blocking suspicious websites. The new measures also include a ban on public demonstrations and allow authorities to dissolve groups inciting any acts that seriously affect public order in France.

The UN rights specialists also called on the French government not to extend the state of emergency beyond February 2016 and ensure protection against any abuse of power while combating terror.

Yasser Louati, a spokesman for the Collective against Islamophobia in France, an anti-racist group, said last month that the state of emergency has unfairly targeted Muslims in France.

January 19, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

North Korea’s bomb test hysteria

By Jan Oberg | January 6, 2016

Here media hysteria goes again. This is BBC.

It is very difficult to know what has happened. The media and many governments around the world immediately condemn this test. The EU says it is against UN Security Council resolutions – a council consisting exclusively of much stronger, nuclear powers.

Before we get carried away, it should be pointed out that North Korea’s military expenditures (US$ 7-10 bn and very complicated to calculate, but anyhow) is around 1% of those of the U.S., about 20% of South Korea’s and about 15% of Japan’s.

North Korea’s entire military costs a bit less than the newest single nuclear bomb the U.S. tested last year.

Nuclear weapons remain a huge problem to the world. However, countries that have nuclear weapons themselves focus on proliferation. Humanity focuses on the existence of nuclear weapons. Simply put, as long as there are some who have nuclear weapons, others will try to acquire them.

Mass media that blow this inferior nuclear power’s test of whatever it was up on the front pages but forget to tell their audiences much much more serious nuclear stories are – knowingly or not – part of a militarist propaganda machine. Thereby they promote what I have called MIMAC – the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex.

That should not be the role of any media. It would be to highlight all nuclear activities by any government, get some proportions, highlight how these weapons violate international law and inform the world about both the huge risks and what would happen if they are used and, finally, inform us about the activities for nuclear disarmament and abolition.

Just contributing to “fearology” about a nuclear dwarf and keeping us uninformed about the giants militates against objectivity, pluralism and freedom of the press. And it contributes indirectly to militarism.

What are the much more serious nuclear stories I mentioned above?

Well, it has just been revealed that 33,000 U.S. atomic factory workers have died over the last 70 years because of the dangerous environment.

Fact is that nuclear weapons cause many problems even without being used directly – such as the war on Iraq [depleted uranium munitions?], such as polluting the environment and making larges areas – like in Khazakstan – uninhabitable. There are constant nuclear accidents and the world could be more or less totally destroyed from a single technical or human failure.

And what does the U.S. do with a president who wanted to work for a nuclear-free world and received the Nobel Peace Prize?

It has decided to spend US$ 1 trillion – i.e. 1000 billion – the next 30 years on new nuclear weapons. Read more about this perverse ‘peace’ policy here.

January 7, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

1,000 crack British troops deployed to Libyan oil fields to ‘halt the advance of ISIS’

RT | January 4, 2016

British Special Forces have been deployed in Libya to wrest back control of more than a dozen oil fields seized by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants, it has emerged.

Approximately 6,000 European and US soldiers, including 1,000 British troops, will be involved in a number of offensives set up to halt the advance of the jihadist terror group.

The operation will be led by Italian forces and supported mainly by Britain and France.

Special Forces, including military close observation experts from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, are spearheading the major coalition offensive against the jihadist group, according to the Daily Mirror.

IS has seized several revenue-boosting oil fields in Libya and is eager to win more control over the country, as the land could provide them with millions of dollars to fund terror attacks.

The terrorist network is now targeting the Marsa al Brega oil refinery, the biggest in North Africa.

If jihadists successfully capture the oil refinery, located between Sirte and Benghazi, they would gain full control of the country’s oil.

Britain’s SAS is working with Libyan commanders to advise them on key “battle-space management” tactics to control the battlefield using troops, tanks, warplanes and navy ships.

They will also send intelligence to Ministry of Defence (MoD) chiefs that could be used to determine whether airstrikes are needed.

A senior military source told the Mirror: “This coalition will provide a wide range of resources from surveillance, to strike operations against Islamic State who have made significant progress in Libya.

“We have an advance force on the ground who will make an assessment of the situation and identify where attacks should be made and highlight the threats to our forces.”

“Moreover, the ideologies of jihadism and of political Islam are alive and well. It is far too soon to write off Islamic State and organizations similar to it.”

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told IB Times : “In Libya, there is the perfect mix ready to explode and in case it explodes, it will explode just at the gates of Europe.”

The Libya intervention would mark the first time British troops have officially taken part in a direct ground assault against IS.

Libya has been in the throes of a chaotic civil war since the 2011 ousting of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. Today, two rival governments and parliaments compete for dominance amid a deepening Islamist insurgency.

More than 5,000 IS extremists are active in the country, according to the Libyan Interior Ministry.

January 4, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Putin signs bill allowing reciprocal impounding of foreign nations’ property

RT | December 30, 2015

President Vladimir Putin has signed amendments to a bill that restricts foreign states’ right not to observe certain Russian legal procedures if these states themselves introduce measures restricting Russia’s legal immunity.

The amendments would change Russian civil and arbitration codes by introducing the principle of limited legal immunity for a foreign state. They detail the procedure of initiating a lawsuit against a foreign nation and serving court warrants to its representatives. The document also prescribes the role of various Russian state agencies in court cases against foreign states.

The amendments are a part of a law that was signed in early November and will come into force on January 1. It allows Russia to impound the property of foreign states, so long as Russian courts rule that these nations have damaged the economic or other interests of the Russian Federation. Before this act was introduced, such steps were only allowed on condition the government of the country in question agreed to them.

The new bill was drafted by the government as a reciprocal measure after several countries this year executed the rulings of international courts and impounded the assets belonging to the Russian state.

For example, in early July, the media reported that Belgium and France had frozen Russian state companies’ assets and curtailed their agencies in these countries. The move was in connection with the June 2014 ruling by the International Criminal Court in The Hague that ordered Russia to pay compensation of $39.9 billion, $1.85 billion and $8.2 billion, respectively, to three companies connected to the once-powerful oil giant Yukos, which was dissolved in 2007.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described these steps as blatant violation of international law and promised to contest these decisions. Vladimir Putin said that Russia would challenge the decision to seize its assets. The president added that the country didn’t recognize the ruling of the Hague court, as it doesn’t participate in the European Energy Charter.

In comments to the newly introduced law on reciprocal impounding of foreign states’ assets, the Justice Ministry wrote that the main idea behind it was to ensure a “jurisdiction balance” between Russia and foreign states. “The number of lawsuits against the Russian Federation is constantly growing and this happens without asking for our agreement for participation in these cases,” a government source told Kommersant daily. Therefore, recognizing rulings by foreign courts is equivalent to conceding national sovereignty, the source added.

Also in July, the Russian Constitutional Court decided that no international treaty or convention has precedence over national sovereignty, and decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) should be upheld only when they don’t contradict basic Russian law. In mid-December, President Putin signed into law a bill allowing the Constitutional Court to overrule the decisions of international courts if such decisions contradict the principle of supremacy of the Russian Constitution.

December 30, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

International Monetary Fund’s Rogues Gallery. Crooks, Rapists and Swindlers

By James Petras :: 12.25.2015

Introduction

The IMF is the leading international monetary agency whose public purpose is to maintain the stability of the global financial system through loans linked to proposals designed to enhance economic recovery and growth.

In fact, the IMF has been under the control of the US and Western European states and its policies have been designed to further the expansion, domination and profits of their leading multi-national corporations and financial institutions.

The US and European states practice a division of powers: The executive directors of the IMF are Europeans; their counterparts in the World Bank (WB) are from the US.

The executive directors of the IMF and WB operate in close consultation with their governments and especially the Treasury Departments in deciding priorities, deciding what countries will receive loans, under what terms and how much.

The loans and terms set by the IMF are closely coordinated with the private banking system. Once the IMF signs an agreement with a debtor country, it is a signal for the big private banks to lend, invest and proceed with a multiplicity of favorable financial transactions. From the above it can be deduced that the IMF plays the role of general command for the global financial system.

The IMF lays the groundwork for the major banks’ conquest of the financial systems of the world’s vulnerable states.

The IMF assumes the burden of doing all the dirty work through its intervention. This includes the usurpation of sovereignty, the demand for privatization and reduction of social expenditures, salaries, wages and pensions, as well as ensuring the priority of debt payments. The IMF acts as the ‘blind’ for the big banks by deflecting political critics and social unrest.

Executive Directors as Hatchet Persons

What kind of persons do the banks support as executive directors of the IMF? Whom do they entrust with the task of violating the sovereign rights of a country, impoverishing its people and eroding its democratic institutions?

They have included a convicted financial swindler; the current director is facing prosecution on charges of mishandling public funds as a Finance minister; a rapist; an advocate of gunboat diplomacy and the promotor of the biggest financial collapse in a country’s history.

IMF Executive Directors on Trial

The current executive director of the IMF (July 2011-2015) Christine Lagarde is on trial in France for misappropriation of a $400-million-dollar payoff to tycoon Bernard Tapie while she was Finance Minister in the government of President Sarkozy.

The previous executive director (November 2007-May 2011), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to resign after he was charged with raping a chambermaid in a New York hotel and was later arrested and tried for pimping in the city of Lille, France.

His predecessor, Rodrigo Rato (June 2004-October 2007), was a Spanish banker who was arrested and charged with tax evasion, concealing 27 million euros in seventy overseas banks and swindling thousands of small investors whom he convinced to put their money in a Spanish bank, Bankia, that went bankrupt.

His predecessor a German, Horst Kohler, resigned after he stated an unlikely verity – namely that overseas military intervention was necessary to defend German economic interests, such as free trade routes. It’s one thing for the IMF to act as a tool for imperial interests; it is another for an IMF executive to speak about it publicly!

Michel Camdessus (January 1987-February 2000) was the author of the “Washington Consensus” the doctrine that underwrote the global neo-liberal counter-revolution. His term of office witnessed his embrace and financing of some of the worst dictators of the time, including his own photo-ops with Indonesian strongman and mass murderer, General Suharto.

Under Camdessus, the IMF collaborated with Argentine President Carlos Menem in liberalizing the economy, deregulating financial markets and privatizing over a thousand enterprises. The crises, which ensued, led to the worst depression in Argentine history, with over 20,000 bankruptcies, 25% unemployment and poverty rates exceeding 50% in working class districts . . . Camdessus later regretted his “policy mistakes” with regard to the Argentine’s collapse. He was never arrested or charged with crimes against humanity.

Conclusion

The criminal behavior of the IMF executives is not an anomaly or hindrance to their selection. On the contrary, they were selected because they reflect the values, interests and behavior of the global financial elite: Swindles, tax evasion, bribery, large-scale transfers of public wealth to private accounts are the norm for the financial establishment. These qualities fit the needs of bankers who have confidence in dealing with their ‘mirror-image’ counterparts in the IMF.

The international financial elite needs IMF executives who have no qualms in using double standards and who overlook gross violations of its standard procedures. For example, the current executive director, Christine Lagarde, lends $30 billion to the puppet regime in the Ukraine, even though the financial press describes in great detail how corrupt oligarchs have stolen billions with the complicity of the political class (Financial Times, 12/21/15, pg. 7). The same Lagarde changes the rules on debt repayment allowing the Ukraine to default on its payment of its sovereign debt to Russia. The same Lagarde insists that the center-right Greek government further reduce pensions in Greece below the poverty level, provoking the otherwise accommodating regime of Alexis Tsipras to call for the IMF to stay out of the bailout (Financial Times, 12/21/15, pg.1).

Clearly the savage cut in living standards, which the IMF executives decree everywhere is not unrelated to their felonious personal history. Rapists, swindlers, militarists, are just the right people to direct an institution as it impoverishes the 99% and enriches the 1% of the super-rich.

December 28, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria: Has Anyone Stepped Back from the Brink?

By Michael Jabara CARLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 26.12.2015

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, recently visited Moscow to discuss the Syrian crisis with his colleague Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. Journalists observed handshakes, smiles, even hearty laughter, between Kerry and his Russian counterparts. Syrian President Bashar al Assad does not have to resign immediately, Kerry declared, and the United States is not trying to isolate Russia. What good news, and what a surprise for the Russians. The Moscow show seemed a great success. Kerry strolled along Stariy Arbat Street, met smiling Russian pedestrians and bought souvenirs to take home. A few days later the UN Security Council passed a resolution, calling for a ceasefire and negotiations. Russian and western journalists alike now say there is some hope to avoid the worst in Syria. And as you may already know, if the United States wants a ceasefire, it’s because their «moderate» Jihadist allies are getting beaten up now by the Syrian Arab Army backed by Russian air support.

Is cautious optimism warranted about a Syrian peace? It is hard to see how. Kerry may say whatever he wants in Moscow, but when he gets back to Washington, he sings a different song, or his colleagues do. His boss, President Obama, said «Assad has to go» only a few days after Kerry returned home. And then there is the new phantasmagorical story published by Seymour B Hersh, the muckraking US journalist, who has revealed that not everyone inside the US government is brain dead. It’s a remarkable discovery when you think about US foreign policy. Some military officials, and no less than the former Chief of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, were actually indirectly, and very secretly, passing military intelligence to the Syrian government to help it fight Daesh, Al-Qaeda and allied Jihadist forces operating in Syria. At the same time, the CIA, with Obama’s support, was sending arms hither and thither in Syria to help the Jihadists overthrow the Assad government.

General Dempsey left office in September 2015 and was replaced by General Joseph Dunford, a true blue Russophobe, who says Russia is an «existential threat» to the United States. It is a classic Washington response: the US aggressor accuses its intended victim of aggression. Just the other day (22 December), the United States slapped on gratuitous new sanctions against Russia. It’s the same old pretext: Russian «aggression» in the Ukraine.

Yet another US provocation, you might think, as Russia searches for a peaceful settlement of the Syrian war. The Russian government is taking a sensible position, but in the present circumstances, is a negotiated peace a real possibility? If the war in Syria were simply a civil war, as is often repeated in the media, you could encourage the belligerents to put on suits and ties and sit down at a table to negotiate a settlement. Unfortunately, the war in Syria is not a civil war: it is rather a proxy war of aggression led by the United States, Britain, and France (until the Paris massacre in November), and pursued vigorously in the region by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Apartheid Israel.

Turkey is playing a dirty, evil role. It provides arms and supplies across its borders for Daesh in Syria. Oil taken from Syrian wells by Daesh travels in the opposite direction, sold at cut rate prices, to provide revenue to the Jihadists for their war against Assad. It is estimated that Daesh was obtaining $40 millions a month from exported oil (before Russian intervention), but this is a bagatelle in terms of the money necessary for the Jihadists to wage war against Syria. Hundreds of millions are required. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are important suppliers and financiers of the Salafi Jihadist movement. Jordan permits training of Jihadists on its territory and allows passage across its frontiers into Syria. Israel also provides support from the occupied Golan territory, even providing medical care to wounded Jihadists. A coalition of states, four of which are NATO members, is waging a war of aggression against Syria. Against this array of deadly enemies, the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army, in a remarkable feat of arms, has been able to hold out for more than four years. President Assad has proven his courage and tenacity as a leader by refusing US summons to resign and by staying in Damascus to share the personal danger which all Syrians must endure simply to live in their country. No wonder Obama wants to get rid of Assad before talk about Syrian elections for he would almost certainly win them.

Sputnik in Moscow has estimated that there are as many as 70,000 foreign Jihadists fighting in Syria.

These forces appear for the most part are well motivated, supplied largely with US weapons and deeply entrenched in various parts of Syria. Since the Russian intervention on the side of the Syrian government, progress has been made in rooting out Jihadist forces, but as long as supply routes remain open across Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, even Lebanon, the war in Syria is not going to end.

Turkey’s role is particularly dangerous. It is a NATO member and it uses this privileged position to commit acts of aggression against Iraq and Syria. It shot down a Russian warplane in a well-planned ambush, likely with US connivance, and then ran to hide in NATO’s skirts. Apparently, the Turkish government hoped to sabotage budding European cooperation with Russia against Daesh, or to provoke a NATO-Russian war, as insane as that might seem. Other NATO members, the United States, France, and Britain, have also been deeply involved in the proxy war against Syria. Indeed, after the destruction of Libya, it has been reported that NATO planes were secretly used to transport Jihadists and Libyan arms to other Middle Eastern fronts. NATO members are effectively allied with Daesh and its Al-Qaeda derivatives against the Syrian government.

To be sure, the United States and its European vassals have attempted to cover up their links to the Jihadist war in Syria by launching make-believe air attacks on Daesh targets, occasionally bombing a caterpillar tractor here or there and blowing up a lot of sand in people’s eyes. Russian intervention exposed the double game of the United States and changed the balance of military forces in Syria.

Even now however, the US air force sends warning messages to Jihadist truck drivers to get away from their vehicles before it attacks them. Or it refuses altogether to attack trucks carrying Daesh oil, claiming it’s private civilian property. How preposterous! Since World War II, when has the United States hesitated to attack civilian targets? It is understandable that Obama and the CIA, having been caught red-handed in Syria, are furious with Putin for exposing them. Nevertheless, the Russian government has offered the United States, a porte de sortie, pushing for an anti-Jihadist alliance and peace talks to settle the war.

Peace is a marvelous idea and the US escape route, a practical gesture, but how is Foreign Minister Lavrov going to get Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, and Israel, not to mention the United States and Britain, to stop supporting the Jihadist movement in Syria and Iraq? Talk about an impossible alliance: it’s like taking a writhing nest of asps to your breast and hoping they won’t bite you. Are such hopes realistic? «Maybe not but that’s diplomacy,» Lavrov might respond: «we have to try nevertheless». These days it takes infinite patience and great theatrical skills to be a Russian diplomat. Russia is trying to finesse the United States into dropping its support of «moderate» Jihadists. In fact, such moderates do not exist.

Neither does the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA). The Jihadists decapitate a few hapless victims, and FSA volunteers run away in horror leaving their arms for Daesh. Or, they laugh at the infidels’ stupidity and go over, arms in hand, to the Jihadist side.

Even if Russia could get real commitments from the United States, which is as yet quite uncertain, what is to be done about Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states? And what is to be done with all the foreign Jihadists in Syria? Are these terrorists and war criminals going to be encouraged to return to the 40+ different countries whence they came to stir up violence there? And what is to be done about the Syrian Jihadists, though there is no open source information about their numbers? Will they be allowed to remain at large, or worse, will they be recognised as a legitimate Syrian opposition?

Even an anti-Jihadist coalition of willing members will have hard work rooting out Daesh and its allies. But the coalition of asps which Russia is trying to organise is composed of Daesh supporters. How is that going to work? One fears not at all well since the would-be alliance members, with the possible exception of France, have not abandoned their backing of Daesh, whatever one hears to the contrary notwithstanding. The United States remains the chief culprit continuing to pursue its two-faced, dangerous policies.

«The four core elements of Obama’s Syria policy remain intact today», Seymour Hersh says: «an insistence that Assad must go; that no anti-IS (Islamic State) coalition with Russia is possible; that Turkey is a steadfast ally in the war against terrorism; and that there really are significant moderate opposition forces for the US to support».

Policy based on false premises invariably leads to failure. Obama’s policy is no exception. Assad is a courageous leader of Syrian resistance against the Jihadist invasion. The only possible successful coalition against Daesh, Al-Qaeda and their affiliates is with Assad and with Russia. Turkey is a dangerous provocateur, playing with matches amongst open kegs of gunpowder, trying to drag NATO into a deeper de facto alliance with Daesh or even war with Russia. Finally, there are no «moderate» Jihadist forces in Syria. The Free Syrian Army barely exists at all, and the so-called moderates are no less murderous than their Daesh allies.

One cannot fault the Russians for trying to organise an anti-Jihadist alliance in Syria, but their potential allies, apart perhaps from the apparently repentant French, are all snakes in the grass. And Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, is the biggest snake of all. «Do you realise what you have done?» Putin asked at the UN in September. Not yet apparently, reports to the contrary notwithstanding. But then, as we know, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

December 26, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Syrian opposition circus comes to town

By Sharmine Narwani | RT | December 22, 2015

In January, the Syrian government will – ostensibly – sit across the negotiating table from ‘the Syrian opposition’ to decide on the structure and make-up of a transitional government that promises to end the 5-year Syrian conflict.

The ‘Syrian opposition,’ we are told by US Secretary of State John Kerry, will be selected by ‘Syrians’ and will therefore be ‘representative.’

“This is not about imposing anything on anyone,” Kerry remarked about the Vienna process, convened to broker a Syrian peace – which was negotiated by 20 countries, but without the involvement of Syrians.

“I want to be clear: the Syrian people will be the validators of this whole effort,” says Kerry again – lest we forget. This is just before he instructs us that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot hold any long-term position in Syria: “Asking the opposition to trust Assad or to accept Assad’s leadership is simply not a reasonable request, and it is literally therefore a non-starter,” explains Kerry from his non-Syrian perspective.

Incidentally, Kerry now also calls any Syrian demand for Assad to leave before the political transition “a non-starting position.” It appears that to be part of this ‘Syrian solution,’ you must first agree with Kerry’s many nuanced positions on Syria.

But back to the ‘Syrian opposition’ – those able negotiators who will represent the ‘Syrian people’ come January.

This is where it gets really confusing. The 20 non-Syrian countries participating in the Vienna process will ultimately decide 1. which Syrians will speak for the opposition at future talks, and 2. which Syrians will instead be labelled ‘terrorists’ to be slaughtered on the battlefield.

To whittle down the ‘Syrian opposition’ to a few dozen individuals that are ‘representative’ of Syrians, several meetings were held to fight it out – mostly in foreign countries.

The Saudis shrewdly tried to grab front-runner advantage for their favorite Syrians by hosting a highly-publicized meeting in Riyadh that cobbled together a 34-member opposition ‘turnkey solution.’

But several countries balked at some of the Riyadh-cooked opposition, which consists of groups or individuals they think should be on the ‘terrorist’ list instead of the negotiating table.

Others on the Saudi shortlist don’t appear to be ‘representative’ of anybody, let alone the ‘Syrian people.’ They include several former heads of the now widely-discredited Syrian National Coalition (SNC), once viewed by Syria’s foes as the country’s ‘legitimate’ government-in-exile.

These Riyadh-backed luminaries include ex-SNC President George Sabra, who gained his Syrian ‘legitimacy’ in 2012 from a whopping 28 votes cast by 41 Syrians – in Qatar.

They also include Khaled Khoja, who squeaked through as president of the now-rebranded ‘National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces’ with 56 votes out of 109 cast – in Turkey.

They also include the likes of Saudi-based Ahmad Jarba, who won his second term at the helm of the National Council in 2014 with 65 votes – also cast in Turkey. Jarba beat his only rival Riad Hijab by 13 whole votes. Hijab turned the tables on Jarba in Riyadh last week, however, when 34 Syrians chose him instead to represent them at peace talks in Vienna.

Hijab, of course, is best known as the highest-ranking official to defect from the Syrian government during this crisis. He was prime minister of the country at the time – and I was in Damascus sitting in a roadside café when the news of his defection first broke. It created quite a stir in the café: Half of the Syrian customers were asking “who is the prime minister?” while the other half were asking “who is Riad Hijab?”

Representative of the Syrian people? Not so much.

The ‘Terrorists’

There are two lists being drawn up per the agreement reached in Vienna: the first list is to decide the ‘Syrian opposition’ negotiators. Since 22 million Syrians will not be voting for their own representatives, this list will basically be ‘manufactured’ by a handful of influential foreign states via some frenzied horse-trading.

The second list created by the Vienna-20 will determine which Syrian opposition militias are to be designated as ‘terrorist’ organizations. It is understood that those who make this list will not be participating in any ceasefires. It is also understood that the groups on this list will be mowed down by the Syrian army, its allies and foreign coalition airstrikes – unless they flee back across the Turkish border, of course.

For years, Washington has insisted there are armed ‘moderate’ groups in Syria, but have gone to great lengths to avoid naming these ‘moderates.’ Why? Because if moderates were named and identified, the US would have to be very, very certain that no past, present or future ‘atrocity video’ would surface to prove otherwise. And the US could not guarantee this with any of the groups they have armed, trained or financed in Syria over the past five years.

The twenty countries involved in Vienna talks have already agreed that ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise) are on this list. The big question now is who else makes the cut. And in everyone’s sights first and foremost is Ahrar al Sham, a Turkish, Qatari and Saudi-funded extremist group whose backbone is a mix of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.

Earlier last summer, when I queried the US State Department about how they viewed Ahrar, I was told: “The US has neither worked with nor provided any assistance to Ahrar al-Sham. The US supports moderate Syrian opposition groups.”

Put it this way, if Ahrar were ‘moderates,’ they would have already received direct US assistance, so desperate has Washington been to find Syrian fighters to do their bidding. And influential Americans have worked overtime to whitewash Ahrar – to distance it from Al Qaeda and other extremists, even though Ahrar’s closest primary ground force ally is none other than Jabhat al Nusra.

This strange western-Turkish-GCC determination to mainstream radical Salafist militants was seen again in Riyadh in December, when Ahrar reps were invited to join the opposition deliberations. The group is reported to have signed on to the final Riyadh declaration, but this was later hotly disputed by its leadership inside Syria. Either way, Ahrar is never going to be comfortable with Vienna’s terms today – to do so will be to turn its guns on its comrades in Nusra tomorrow, and to renounce many of its core beliefs.

The Ahrar challenge is mirrored by many of the hundreds of militias fighting inside Syria right now. These are mostly Sunni Islamist fighters, who over the course of this conflict have become overtly sectarian, violent and intolerant. Are they terrorists? The Syrian state says yes, and so do its allies Iran and Russia.

And this leads us to why they are right.

Armed and foreign-backed

Whatever this Syrian crisis has been, a ‘revolution’ it is not. No revolution, borne from the heart of a genuinely popular insurrection, is financed, armed and trained by the enemies of a state. What has transpired in Syria for the past five years is a long-planned foreign conspiracy – in coordination with a small sliver of its nationals – to create regime-change on the back of the narratives of the ‘Arab Spring.’

The US military’s ‘unconventional warfare’ manual contains the blueprint for exactly this kind of regime-change operation:

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But this is not the first time this trick has been tried in Syria. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood launched a similar operation from inside Hama and tried to replicate it nationwide. They failed and were wiped out by Bashar al Assad’s father, Hafez, who was not constrained by the threat of today’s foreign “humanitarian intervention” and “Responsibility To Protect” (R2P) doctrines.

The US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in their now-declassified 1982 report on Hama called the Muslim Brotherhood’s actions “terrorism,” and rightly so.

You cannot pick up arms against a central government, impose your will with weapons on population centers, blow up police stations, public transportation, bread factories, pipelines, waterworks, target your national army, human-shield yourself in mosques and schools, assassinate public and private figures – and imagine yourself anything but a terrorist. You are not fighting an occupation, where your right to self-defense is enshrined in law. You are fighting your state, and your state has an internationally-mandated legal duty to protect its nationals – from you.

Furthermore, no state would shelter you from lawful consequence if you were doing all these things at the behest of, and with material support from, an enemy state.

Syria’s largest militant opposition groups are – one and all – financed, armed, trained, supported by the United States, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, France and a smattering of other states and nationals.

None of these groups belong at a negotiating table across from the Syrian government – for one, they do not represent ‘Syrians,’ they represent foreign interests.

Can Washington name a single of its own anti-government, US-based, armed militias that it would term “moderate?” If an enemy state was financing and arming a group of American citizens, what would the consequence be if this group burned vehicles, killed police officers, set banks ablaze?

Moderate or extremist, secular or Islamist, why should Syria’s foreign-backed armed groups sit at the table in Vienna? And, for that matter, why should Syria’s foreign-backed unarmed politicos represent ‘Syrians’ at talks either?

Foreign states that spent five years ignoring the many non-violent Syrian dissidents based in Syria who have spent decades in opposition – in order to manufacture a thoroughly unrepresentative, subservient, malleable and repressive ‘Syrian opposition’ that will serve their interests – should not be rewarded for their deeds in Vienna.

None of their hand-picked ‘Syrian opposition’ will do – these mini-tyrants, warlords and militants will just prolong Syria’s tragedy indefinitely.

Think of Vienna as a stage. Right now, several western powers are seeking a political solution in Vienna as an exit from the Syrian theater – because it has become too costly. The extremism of ISIS, terror threats on the home front, a flood of migrants and refugees, and the promise of indefinite chaos in the Middle East has created a new-found bargaining spirit in the west. For the west, Assad, the Russians and Iranians suddenly look like worthy partners today – able, potentially, to help negotiate a face-saving exit from the Syrian quagmire. It is no coincidence that the US pushed through a nuclear deal with Iran this year – or that Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are co-chairing the Vienna talks.

But in the east – in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar – Vienna represents potential defeat unless Assad goes. These states either believe they are facing down existential threats, or at best, political humiliations from which they are unlikely to recover.

This brings another level of complexity to the Vienna stage. Allies in east and west find themselves with vastly diverging interests. All are still looking to stack their hands with cards which can improve their fortunes at the table, but their militants in the Syrian field have been losing ground since Russian jets took to Syria’s skies. Their own anti-terror Coalition is being outed and shamed for its complicity with the very terrorists it purports to fight. And they still, five years on, cannot construct a cohesive ‘Syrian opposition.’

Vienna is unlikely to ever see a genuine Syrian political solution. But it could still act as a springboard for some new thinking. Think ‘terror’ first. Disarm militants, halt weapons transfers, shut down borders, besiege them in their strongholds, cut off their financing, sanction their supporters.

Many of these components were in last week’s UN Security Council Resolution 2254, co-sponsored by Syria, in a new twist. An important start.

Cooperate with the Syrian state; coordinate airstrikes, ground battles; share intelligence. This stage may yet arrive.

Finally, acknowledge the reforms that the state tried to implement in the first few months of the Syrian crisis – Syria shut down its military court at the same time that Jordan was establishing a new security court. Why was one derided and the other lauded? Provide the time and space – reconciliation takes time – for Syrians to gear up for new elections under international observation.

If a ‘Syrian opposition’ is the desired outcome, this can only come organically from inside Syria, when Syrians are no longer under the threat of violent conflict.

The alternative, of course, is this Syrian opposition circus that is gearing up for a fall in Vienna. You can pay these clowns through the nose, but you will never get a performance out of them.


Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Sharmine has written commentary for a wide array of publications, including Al Akhbar English, the New York Times, the Guardian, Asia Times Online, Salon.com, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, BRICS Post and others. You can follow her on Twitter at @snarwani

December 23, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Sick of being targeted’: French authorities conducting warrantless raids on Muslims

RT | December 9, 2015

Emergency legislation enacted after last month’s Paris attacks has led to a fierce crackdown on France’s Islamic population. Warrantless searches and raids have become commonplace, a move which many say violates the civil liberties of Muslims.

Speaking to RT’s Daniel Bushell, the manager of the Pepper Grill restaurant on the outskirts of Paris recalled a police raid at his restaurant on Saturday night.

“They blocked the roads with trucks, and up to 40 armed men stormed our restaurant… Saturday night’s the busiest time. Children were eating. The cops had shotguns, black masks, and shields, making the women tremble with fear. Several officers rushed downstairs, then suddenly… they began breaking the doors with battering rams. The door wasn’t even locked,” the restaurant manager said.

After police failed to find any weapons during the search, they raided so-called “undeclared prayer rooms” above the restaurant. However, legal experts told RT that it is unlikely that such rooms are illegal, even under the country’s new emergency legislation.

The emergency laws, implemented after last month’s terror attacks which killed 130 people and left 352 others injured, have led to thousands of warrantless searches and raids.

But it’s not just private property that is being targeted – Muslims are also being singled out on the street.

“Police tried to pull the hood off the head of an Arab friend eating with my little brother. Then they detained him, saying it’s a state of emergency so they have the right,” a local told RT on condition of anonymity, fearing police reprisals. He added that the community is “sick of being targeted.”

Such targeting is reportedly worse for young people, many of whom said they pull hoods over their faces as soon as they see a police car, so officers can’t see the color of their skin.

That fear is a direct result of the war being waged against the Muslim community, according to Yasser Louati of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France. He recalled a situation where a mother was “touched in her private parts by police,” and another mother who “lost her baby after a raid.”

However, one French mayor is not backing down, believing that extra security is necessary because France is “living amid an Islamic threat.”

“I’ve already doubled the number of city policemen, but I went even further. I asked all the former policemen, firefighters and servicemen to come and help to protect our citizens. If my initiative goes against the law, we should change the law. We are living amid an Islamic threat and we should be aware of the consequences. Our country, as well as other European countries, is at war – both outside our borders, in Syria for instance, and inside our borders, because our enemies live in our own country,” Robert Menard, mayor of the French town of Beziers, told RT.

In addition to warrantless searches and raids, France’s state of emergency laws allow the government to put people under house arrest, seal the country’s borders and ban demonstrations. The laws were created during the Algerian war in 1955.

France is currently aiming to change its constitution to allow a state of emergency to last for six months, according to government sources. The proposal, which has been slammed by many who say the government is abusing its powers, will be put to ministers on December 23, according to AFP.

December 9, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

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