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CrossTalk: Syria on Fire

RT | February 16, 2018

The stakes couldn’t be higher. And it is happening in Syria. The goal of destroying the Islamic State is largely complete. Now the Syrian proxy war is entering a new stage. Who are the players and what are their aims? And what does winning mean?

CrossTalking with Abdel Bari Atwan, Marwa Osman, and Mohammad Marandi.

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel gets bloody nose in Syria. What next?

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 12, 2018

On Saturday, when Israeli jets undertook yet another bombing raid – this time an audacious attack on a drone base at the T4 airbase in Homs province deep inside Central Syria – a nasty surprise awaited them. They were confronted by the Russian-made S-200 air defence system. One Israeli F-16 jet was shot down; a second jet was hit but managed to make it home; and, two pilots parachuted – one heavily injured and in serious condition.

The last time an Israeli jet was shot down was in 1986 in Lebanon. The incident on Saturday is a humiliating experience for Israel. But, more importantly, it contains a stark message – namely, that Israeli air attacks from now onward on Syria may come only at an unacceptable cost.

The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani summed up the message to Israel this way: “There is an important point in the recent events and in targeting an Israeli fighter jet: the Syrian army showed to the Zionists that the era of hit-and-run has ended.” In political terms, Tehran has justified the retaliation by the Syrian forces. The influential senior advisor on foreign policy to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Akbar Velayati said today, “If the Zionist regime wants to make aggression against Syria or any other state’s airspace, the regional countries are entitled to use their space and the Syrian government and nation was entitled to respond to the Zionist regime’s aggression to make them regret.”

The same sentiments are echoed in the remark by the Deputy Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Resistance Movement Sheikh Naim Qassem lauded the Syrian army and said “Shooting down the Israeli fighter jet means that the era of unanswered attacks has ended.” He warned that henceforth, Israeli aggression will be met with counter-attacks.

The impression becomes unavoidable that the rules of engagement in the Syrian conflict have changed and Israel has been duly notified of the change. It is inconceivable that the Syrian air defence system would have opened up without the knowledge of the Russian forces in Syria. Russia controls the Syrian air space. On the other hand, neither Moscow nor Tehran has hyped up the incident on Saturday. In effect, they are letting the message to Israel to sink in.

The reset of the rules of engagement has become inevitable now that the Syrian government and its allied forces are registering more successes in the conflict. Israel has been so far acting with impunity, having conducted air attacks on Syrian territory more than a hundred times during the conflict. Interestingly, Israel can only expect verbal support from the US, since American presence is very thin on the ground in Syria and the Trump administration has its hands full at the moment what with the cascading tensions with Turkey that may lead to a nasty confrontation.

The pro-Israeli US media, which is heavily under the influence of the Jewish lobby, is conjuring up the spectre of a massive Israeli retaliation against Iran. But the fact of the matter is that the Israelis are hardcore realists. They’d have no difficulty to grasp the message that their plans to insert themselves into the Syrian endgame to extract concessions in terms of legitimizing their illegal occupation of Golan Heights as part of any settlement might as well be abandoned now.

Equally, the Israeli game plan to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran is simply not working. It comes as no surprise that amidst all this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has chosen to defend Iran’s ballistic missile program. The Russian news agency Sputnik quoted Lavrov as saying in an interview with Russian TV, “There are other countries in the (Middle East) region with such programs. We must look at it as a whole. It is hardly justified to mix nuclear affairs with human rights and put the issue on the agenda that Iran should stop taking certain steps in the region… to my mind, a frankly discriminatory, biased and unjustifiably captious approach can be seen behind these US actions.”

All in all, as the veteran Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri says, “What happened (on Saturday) is larger than a battle and a little less than a war. It will create new balances and rules of engagement in the region. This event is the first of its kind in tens of years. However, no escalation is expected. Things will end here; they will not develop into an all-out war.” If Berri says so, they must be words of wisdom. The shrewd politician after all has been holding the post of parliament speaker in Beirut continuously since 1992.

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

New War in the Middle East? – Washington Is Dancing To the Tune Being Played by Israel

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | February 12, 2018

How many Americans are aware that every two years the United States military engages in large scale exercises with the Israeli Defense Forces that simulate wars against Israel’s neighbors? Three thousand American soldiers are in Israel right now involved in maneuvers that are focused on countering a missile attack from Lebanon. When the exercise, known as Juniper Cobra, was run in 2016 the U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, who appeared to confuse American national security with that of a small Middle Eastern state, described it as the European Command’s “highest priority” drill that year. He then added that “this exercise increases our military readiness, but just as importantly it also signals our resolve to support Israel.”

Ironically, Lebanon has an army of its own that is in part financially and logistically supported by Washington, though not at the level that the U.S. supports Israel, which means that the U.S. is participating in war games that pit one friendly country and military aid recipient against another. Israel has warned that in any future conflict it will target the Lebanese Army equally with Hezbollah as both are “enemies.”

The truly most interesting aspects of the current exercises in Israel is that the United States has never had any formal alliance with Israel and has absolutely no national interest in becoming involved in Israel’s wars at all. The assumption that the U.S. might be called upon to help defend Israel is not based on any strategic reality, which is not to say it might not happen if Congress and the White House have their way, but it would likely be a double war of aggression, with Israel attacking the militarily much weaker Lebanese followed by the United States weighing in to finish the job after Hezbollah tries to fight back with its batteries of rockets.

That Washington is the Israeli poodle in the current situation is made clear by the recent opening of the first U.S. military base in Israel. It is described as a base within a base as it is completely contained by an Israeli air force installation and operates “under Israeli military directives.” It has no function in support of U.S. regional interests but is instead a shell headquarters with limited support facilities that can be ramped up considerably if Israel goes to war and calls for American assistance. Together with billions of dollars-worth of U.S. military equipment that is pre-positioned in Israel and can be used by the Israelis as needed, it is all about supporting Israeli war-making and has nothing to do with American security or defense interests.

Maneuvers are supposed to simulate possible future military actions, bloodless battles that provide lessons learned for future engagements, suggesting that some genius in the Pentagon who initiated these biennial exercises under George W. Bush, expects American soldiers to assist in the Israeli mission to remake the Middle East in their favor. Pentagon number two Paul Wolfowitz, who had an unseemly close relationship with Israeli military visitors, comes to mind as a possible candidate.

Israel has actually been planning to invade Lebanon. Last September it held its largest military exercise in over twenty years around the theme of a ground invasion of Lebanon. Israeli soldiers even dressed as Hezbollah militiamen as part of the training. There have been repeated warnings by Israeli government officials that there are several red lines that will bring about an Israeli attack, to include evidence that Iran is aiding the development of sophisticated “missile plants” in either Lebanon or Syria. The evidence for such plants is otherwise reported to be apocryphal or perhaps even fabricated, known only to Israeli intelligence, but they should perhaps be seen as a pretext for war and not necessarily based on fact.

Apart from having no compelling interest to get involved in the latest round of bloodletting, the U.S. would be well advised to keep its distance from Benjamin Netanyahu’s schemes to destroy Hezbollah’s power as crushing Lebanon would produce the same kind of regional catastrophe as did the U.S. led Iraq invasion of 2003. Israel’s Minister of Transportation Ysrael Katz recently warned that Lebanon will be “razed to the ground” and “returned to the stone age” if Hezbollah proves able and willing to fire any missiles at Israel.

Israel is itching for a fight and working hard to get Washington involved, not a difficult task given the belligerent proclivities of those who gather to discuss national security strategy in the White House. Viewing Israel’s recent actions relating to Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, it is clear that Netanyahu’s government is the aggressor and is both willing and able to destabilize the entire region without any regard for what happens next. It has already warned that its expected conflict with Lebanon will also involve Syria and that the ultimate target is to eliminate Iranian influence in the area.

Bombings of neighboring Syria by Israeli aircraft have also intensified, leading to the shooting down of an Israeli jet by Syrian air defense forces. The U.S. media covered the story but largely ignored the fact that Netanyahu has launched hundreds of airstrikes against a country with which it is not at war, again using the false claim that Israel is acting defensively and it is Iran that is doing the “interfering.” Of course, the United States in Syria has done much the same thing, lying about developments before setting up an ambush last week that killed 100 Syrian soldiers.

That Washington is dancing to the tune being played by Israel to dismember the Middle East makes the American government an accomplice when the war actually does break out. And it will undoubtedly also have to do much of the fighting. That the United States appears to be committed to defend Israel, even if Israel starts the war, is deplorable and is particularly so as there is no reciprocity. Israel has never fought side-by-side with the United States and if Washington actually finds itself in a situation where it needs Israeli military assistance or support don’t count on it.

*(Juniper Cobra 2016. Image credit: Israel Defense Forces/ flickr)

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 6 Comments

Lebanon accepts lawsuit against Saudi minister over sowing discord

Press TV – February 7, 2018

A Lebanese judge has accepted to look into a lawsuit against Saudi Minister of State for Persian Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan, who was in charge of the Lebanon file during Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s shock resignation late last year.

Lebanon’s state-owned National News Agency (NNA) reported on Wednesday that Beirut First Examining Magistrate Ghassan Oueidat had decided to accept the court proceedings against the 50-year-old Saudi politician on charges of “sowing discord among various strata of the Lebanese society, provoking communal violence and disrupting Lebanon’s ties with a foreign state.”

The report added that veteran Lebanese inmate Nabih Awada ,who has served time in Israeli prisons and is close to Hezbollah, filed the lawsuit on January 31 through his lawyer Hassan Bazzi, stressing that Judge Oueidat will soon set a date for Sabhan’s questioning.

On October 30, Sabhan issued threats against Lebanon’s government as well as Iran and the resistance movement of Hezbollah via Twitter, stating that the movement needs to be “toppled” in Lebanon.

The Saudi minister also warned in an interview with Lebanese MTV television station that there would be “astonishing” developments to “oust” Hezbollah.

He also said that Saudi Arabia would deal with Lebanon’s government as a hostile administration because of Hezbollah’s power-sharing role in it.

Hariri announced his resignation in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia on November 4 last year, citing many reasons, including the security situation in Lebanon, for his sudden decision. He also said that he sensed a plot being hatched against his life.

He returned to Beirut on November 21. All political factions in Lebanon had called on him to return back home.

Top Lebanese officials and senior politicians close to Hariri had earlier said that he had been forced to resign, and that Saudi authorities were holding him captive.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun had also refused to accept Hariri’s resignation.

February 7, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

US deploys troops to occupied territories for joint war games with Israel

Press TV – February 2, 2018

The US has deployed military forces to the Israeli-occupied territories ahead of a joint war game with Tel Aviv as the regime ramps up its threats of a new war against Lebanon.

Israeli media outlets announced the arrival of the American troops on Thursday in preparation for the so-called Juniper Cobra biennial military drills, which will start next week.

The last edition of the drills enlisted more than 3,000 forces from the two sides.

The sources said the maneuvers simulate engagement with the countries lying to the north and south of the occupied territories, including Lebanon.

Israel and Lebanon are technically at war since 1967 when the regime occupied the country’s Shebaa Farms.

Israel staged two wholesale wars against Lebanon in 2000 and 2006 to defeat the country’s resistance movement of Hezbollah, which is Lebanon’s de facto military power.

Tel Aviv fell short of the ambition in both cases in the face of strong resistance by Hezbollah, backed by the national army, and instead saw its myth of invincibility being dealt a serious blow.

On Wednesday, the Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, renewed the threat of a new war against Lebanon, saying Beirut would “pay the full price” for its ties with Tehran in a future military offensive.

Lieberman also warned companies not to engage in oil and gas exploration activities with Lebanon.

Hezbollah responded by saying the group would “decisively confront any assault on our oil and gas rights.”

Prime Minister Sa’ad al-Hariri and other Lebanese statesmen also reacted, with Hariri saying Lieberman’s remarks were one of several “threatening messages” from Israel over the previous days.

Hariri had on January 25 called Israel the greatest threat to Lebanon’s stability amid similar indications that the regime could be contemplating new military offensive against his nation.

“The only threat I see is Israel taking some kind of action against Lebanon, out of a miscalculation,” Hariri told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “And this is the real threat, I believe. I think the other issues are challenges, yes … But when Israel decides to launch a war against Lebanon, this is something that is unexplainable,” he added.

Lieberman suggested that a war with Lebanon would also likely involve Syria.

“Israel’s northern front extends to Syria; it is not just Lebanon. I am not sure that the Syrian government can resist Hezbollah’s attempts to drag them into a war with Israel,” he said.

Hezbollah and Syria enjoy years-long experience of counter-terrorism cooperation. Hezbollah has been successfully lending battleground support to Syria during the latter’s operations against Takfiri militants.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Two Israeli officers involved in Lebanon car bomb attack against Hamas official: Report

Press TV – January 29, 2018

A recent report has exposed that two Israeli agents were involved in the car bomb explosion in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, which slightly wounded a member of the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, earlier this month.

According to a report published by Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper on Monday, the pair was aided by two locals in the assassination operation against Mohammed Hamdan on January 14. They left Lebanon using Georgian, Swedish and Iraqi passports.

The report added that Lebanese security officials have now managed to identify the two Israeli officers, obtain their photographs and copies of their identity documents, the date of their entry into and exit from Lebanon, their respective roles in the operation and the nationality they used to operate under disguise.

Lebanese intelligence officials, requesting anonymity, told al-Akhbar that one of the Israeli agents was a man holding a duel Swedish-Iraqi citizenship, while another was a Georgian woman working for the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.

The officials went on to say that, Mossad kept Hamdan under surveillance for more than seven months.

About six months ago, Hamdan lived in the Sirub district of Sidon, located 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital, Beirut, and a Lebanese national, identified as Muhammad H, lived in a nearby neighborhood.

Mossad then assigned its agent to closely monitor the high-ranking Hamas figure.

After that, Hamdan moved to al-Boustan al-Kabir area of Sidon, and the second Lebanese national, identified as 38-year-old Ahmad Baytiyah and strongly believed to be main suspect in the assassination bid, tracked him.

Baytiyah rented a warehouse near the house of the Hamas leader under the pretext of storing clothes.

The four assailants flew out of Lebanon to different destinations after the failed assassination operation. The two Lebanese nationals fled to Turkey.

Baytiyah was arrested by Turkish authorities and extradited to Lebanon at the request of Prime Minister Saad Hariri earlier this week, while the other managed to flee Turkey to Romania.

Hamdan suffered a leg injury in the car bomb explosion. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The explosion destroyed the vehicle and caused damage to a nearby building, sending black smoke rising above the city.

Firefighters rushed to the scene to put out the flames, while security forces cordoned off the area.

January 29, 2018 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hassan Nasrallah answers Trump on Hezbollah’s drug trafficking

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on January 19, 2018, on the occasion of the commemoration of the death of Fayez Moghniyeh, father of martyrs Jihad, Fouad and Imad Moghniyeh

In case this video is censored by Youtube, find it on Dailymotion, Vimeo or Rutube. See Kafka 2.0: How Youtube’s Political Censorship is Exercised

Hassan Nasrallah answers Trump on Hezbollah’s drug trafficking from Sayed Hasan on Vimeo

Transcript by Sayed Hasan | January 21, 2018:

In recent weeks, US accusations were made. They are not new but they are taking a new dimension. The US Department of Justice created a commission of inquiry that will come to Lebanon – I do not know if it is already there, the media have not made it clear – to meet with officials and Lebanese parties and to investigate. About what ? The Hezbollah links with drug trafficking.

A story was concocted in the US, that Obama would have prevented any investigation on the issue of Hezbollah drug trafficking, but Trump, being more intransigent, formed this Inquiry. The same approach is being carried out by France, and it seems there have been arrests of people linked to drug trafficking, money laundering, etc.

Anyway, I will not dwell at length on this subject, but I want to remind our unchanging position of principle. I want to tell you and all the spectators, categorically, that these are fabrications and false accusations which are not based on any fact and have no truth. Hezbollah, regarding this issue, has a clear religious, legal and ethical position. For us, the drug trade is illegal, prohibited, and is even among the major sins. And we prohibit drug trafficking even in the society of the enemy. Perhaps someone will say what is wrong with selling drugs to Israeli society to destroy it (from within)? Even the drug trade with Israeli society to destroy it is illicit in our view. The drug trafficking and spread are by principle illicit (whatever the circumstances) even to an enemy society. This has nothing to do with (warfare). Such are our ethics, such is our commitment, which stands absolutely.

And therefore, all (the accusations) have no basis of truth. The real question is: in what framework are these accusations made? I have already said and I repeat: as regards trade, and not just the issue of drugs, I have already reminded on more than one occasion, O people, that even the legal trade, we in Hezbollah are not doing. Even legitimate trade. All kinds of commercial or lucrative activity, we are completely detached from them. It is not by asceticism or because it would be illegal, I speak of legitimate trade. On the contrary, trade is a recommended action. Trade, from the standpoint of the (Islamic) law and rulings, is a recommended action. But as regards Hezbollah as a party, as a peculiar political and jihadist entity, we took the decision to make no trade.

And this decision is motivated by the sanctions, so that they will not harm the Lebanese traders, otherwise tomorrow all Lebanese traders would be accused of having Hezbollah money or of making it fructify. We conduct absolutely no lucrative activity. We do not invest our money (neither by trade, loans, bank interest …). The money we have at our disposal is only one that is sufficient for us, for our expenses on the various fields where we are, primarily the armed battles we lead. And therefore, we have no money fructifying, we have no business, and we do not have any member or office making any benefit from our money.

And also, incidentally, I have said it before and I repeat it today, for now, thanks God, after the victory in Iraq and the almost complete victory in Syria, the return of peace and reconstruction, there are companies and Lebanese traders who go to work in Iraq, Syria and other countries, I want to say to everyone: there is no one, no action project of this type belonging to Hezbollah. Hezbollah has nothing (like it). Hezbollah has nowhere any money invested, and is not involved nor a partner in any profit or commercial project.

Of course, we do not ban it. There are traders who are on the line of Hezbollah, who are our brothers, there may be rich, people who have abilities, but they work individually. We do not prohibit the Lebanese people to trade. If someone has money and does business, it is as as an individual, with his own money. These are individual companies. Hezbollah as Hezbollah hasn’t designated nor authorized anyone to speak in his name and conduct personal profit projects. For there is no such lucrative action. I say that to confirm this point.

On the issue of drugs, it is clearly an (unlawful) question for us, as I said, but (such accusations) are part of the war against us. It is part of the war being waged against us. And that’s a natural thing. When (former US ambassador) Feltman acknowledged that the US Embassy in Lebanon alone spent 5 billion – sorry, 5 million to sully the image of Hezbollah and keep young people away from it. This is part of the (enemy) effort to discredit us.

The Americans have done their best to convince the world that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. Some countries went along, others not. And even some countries that have agreed to register us officially on the list of terrorist organizations, behind the scenes, they contact us and work with us and would (almost) be willing to die to preserve their relationship with us. The idea to (identify us as a) terrorist organization did not work. It is not logical.

Hezbollah has proved, especially in recent years, that it is one of the most important forces – not the largest, but one of the most important forces – fighting against terrorism and terrorist groups in the region. How could they describe us as terrorists while we fight the terrorists? Those that the world unanimously designates as terrorists (ISIS)?

This is why the Americans are trying something else. They want to present Hezbollah as a criminal organization. I hope that the public will pay attention to this. There’s designation as a terrorist organization and designation as a criminal organization. What is a criminal organization? An organization that makes drug trafficking, steals cars, made of gangsters, mercenaries and assassins, etc. They try to describe us as a criminal organization.

Very good. If they want to make an inquiry in Lebanon, they are welcome. I invite the Commission of the US Ministry of Justice to come do their investigation in Lebanon. And we hope that the Lebanese who will meet the members of this Commission will tell the truth and be honest. Let no one lie to incite against us. There are (unfortunately) people like that in Lebanon. In Lebanon, it is well known who has a tough stance on drug trafficking, drug traffickers and all of this. It’s well known. If someone has something against us, let him come forward. We hope they will tell the truth, even if I know that the Americans are not looking for the truth. They will look for anything to support that accusation and place Hezbollah on the list of criminal organizations.

Anyway, I said enough on this topic and I declare that we reject this accusation. On this issue, our position is firm and unchanging. We accept no charge. There is nothing dirty inside Hezbollah. Instead, they should first consider their own situation, investigate how the Americans, the CIA, the security agencies (FBI,  etc.) themselves are trafficking drugs and destroying societies by spreading drugs there. So you should rather make a Commission on your own actions, investigate drug trafficking of your own officials and security agencies. […]

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Is A “Great War” on Israel’s Horizon?

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | January 21, 2018

After more than a century the Zionists seem poised to deliver the coup-de-grace to Palestine, by annexing the West Bank. Limited in the first place to the settlements, it would be the forerunner to the annexation of the entire territory. The status of the Palestinian population would continue to be held in limbo until a permanent solution appears. After annexation, some might leave. The greater the number the greater the satisfaction for Israel, but two mass expulsions have taught the Palestinians that they must stay. There could still be a third wave of expulsions, with war again providing the smokescreen and, again, war is beckoning.

The Zionist founders never wanted anything less than all of Palestine. From the start they knew they would have to eject the indigenous population. The ‘binationalism’ of Martin Buber was a nice idea that had no traction in the political class. The intentions of the Zionist leadership had to be hidden until the colony had reached the point where it had the physical force to take Palestine over.

Weizmann and others proclaimed nothing but good intentions, nothing but wanting to live alongside the Palestinians and as for wanting a Jewish state, that was the furthest thing from their mind. Only in their diaries did they record what they really wanted, from Herzl’s wish to spirit the ‘penniless population’ out of Palestine to the conclusion in 1940 of Yosef Weitz, the director of the land settlement department of the Jewish National Fund that there was no room in Palestine for the settlers and ‘the Arabs’. The latter would have to go. These intentions were not anomalous but representative of what the Zionist leadership realised would have to be done if Palestine was to be theirs.

As the Palestinians would fight to the last, the land could be taken only by force. Step by step the Zionists were able to move forward towards this objective. The British helped by suppressing the Palestinian uprising in 1936-39, the first intifada, decapitating  the populist leadership that would have led the struggle against the Zionists in the 1940s. Thousands were killed and many more arrested.

The partition plan of 1947 did not represent the genuine wishes of UN members. It was imposed on the General Assembly by threats made to vulnerable members by the US and would never have passed otherwise. Israel benefitted from it politically but had no intention of adhering to its provisions, which would have left the Palestinians intact, three times the size of the Zionist settler community. The war of 1948 was a war of necessity: without the ethnic cleansing of Palestine there could have been no Israel.

The mass expulsions of 1948/49 were followed by a second bout of expulsions in 1967, followed by the slow strangulation of the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza, with Israel using all means possible, military, economic and pseudo-legal. There were other wars, all aimed at consolidating and expanding the Zionist hold on Palestine and destroying Israel’s enemies: Suez 1956, Lebanon 1978, 1982 and 2006, Gaza on numerous occasions, along with innumerable border ‘incursions’ taking, altogether, the lives of tens of thousands of Arab civilians.

There was also a ‘peace process’, an initiative of the PLO, which Israel only followed up to see what it could get out of it. Launched in 1993 it was clearly finished as early as 1995, although the corpse continues to pulsate to the present day. The ‘peace process’ was a diplomatic ruse giving Israel more time to strengthen its hold on the territories taken in 1967. Yasser Arafat was accepted as a negotiating partner and when there was nothing more he could or would give, Israel turned the peacemaker back into a terrorist and killed him. Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen of revolutionary days) followed Arafat, taking on the role of Israel’s tribune in the West Bank, also only to be discarded once Israel no longer had any use for him.

On the back of endless settlement-building and Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (rejected by virtually the rest of the world), along with a subsequent cut in US aid to UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees), the PLO is now threatening to ‘derecognize’ Israel. If this takes the ‘Palestine problem’ back to 1948, that is only appropriate, because Israel has never left it.

The time taken up from 1993 until now has allowed Israel to plant hundreds of thousands more settlers on the West Bank, whom it says cannot be removed without the risk of civil war. That might be true but the state put them there to stay, as they are bringing the Zionist project closer to fulfilment, and has never had any intention of removing them. Israel now intends to ‘legitimize’ what until it has called illegal settler ‘outposts’, as if there is any difference in international law between the complete illegality of the settler presence on the West Bank, whether in the settlements or in the outposts set up by the ‘hilltop youth’, running amuck whenever and wherever they please, beating, burning and destroying.  They are protected by the state and no wonder, as this is a state which has run amuck for more than seven decades.

The bellwether of the Zionist flock now is Naftali Bennett, the education minister, who has just spoken of ‘the end of the era of the Palestinian state and the beginning of the era of sovereignty’, by which he means Israeli annexation of the West Bank and sovereignty over all of Palestine. If there is a difference between Bennett, a likely next Prime Minister, and Netanyahu, it is only that the former speaks more plainly about his intentions. The glib Netanyahu, still seeing benefit in talking of a ‘peace process’, has others in his party to speak as openly as Bennett does. Tzipi Hotovely, for example, the Deputy Foreign Minister, also speaks of annexation: she can’t wait to see the Israeli flag flying over the Haram al Sharif and regards the former soldiers belonging to the protest movement Breaking the Silence as ‘war criminals.’

Bennett is only pointing in the direction Israel will be taking sooner or later. From the Zionist point of view the next substantial move has to be annexation. The peace tactic has been played out to the end, the two-state solution is dead (insofar as it ever lived), there is nothing more to be squeezed out of the Palestinian Authority and in Washington Israel has a friend, Donald Trump, who is delivering as much and more (recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital) than any previous US president going back to 1948: only Truman’s recognition of Israel the moment the state was declared compares. What can come next now but annexation? Bennett thinks the tide is turning in Israel’s favour and insofar as backroom dealings with gulf governments and even more lavish support from the US, he is right.

But is this enough to think the game is over and Israel has won, game, set and match? Perhaps not: perhaps not at all. This issue is not just about the Palestinians and never was. It is an Arab issue, a Muslim issue, a human rights issue and a world issue. It has not gone away and it will not go away. Ahed Tamimi, slapping an Israeli soldier on the face after he struck her (did anyone notice? Certainly not the mainstream media) and now locked away indefinitely for this heinous crime, is the latest example of Palestinian fortitude in the face of oppression.

From the beginning, however brave and steadfast, the Palestinians faced forces which no small group of people could overcome on their own: the British, the Zionists, the United States and the enormous resources they have poured into the occupation of Palestine over the past century. However, Palestine is not just a Palestinian issue and not just a broader human rights issue: it is an issue that goes to the heart of Arab history and identity. The road back to Palestine would always have to run through the Arab world. That was clear virtually from the beginning. So far, two Arab governments (Egypt and Jordan) have signed ‘peace’ treaties with Israel. These paper arrangements between governments have no popular support in either Egypt or Jordan: it is not that their people do not want peace, but that they are not prepared to sacrifice Palestine to get it. There is a slumbering giant here which Israel seems to think will slumber forever. The people are the dynamite at the end of the wick. In the right circumstances and by the right leaders they can be mobilized, as they have been before.

As a racist state Israel has a long history of treating ‘the Arabs’ with contempt or thinking them not capable of doing what they ended up doing. The prime example is 1973 when the Egyptians launched a brilliant cross-canal operation and caught the Israeli troops completely by surprise. They broke and ran and had not Sadat betrayed Hafiz al Assad, by calling the Egyptian offensive off after a week, Israel could have been driven out of the Sinai and off the Golan Heights as well. Only further US intervention (it was already directly intervening by airlifting military supplies directly into Sinai) could have prevented an Israeli defeat. In occupied southern Lebanon, Israel suffered shock after shock. It was outthought and outfought by Hezbollah, and effectively cut and run in 2000. It had another go in 2006, and was humiliated again, which is why Israel is determined to destroy Hezbollah next time, even if Lebanon has to be buried with it.

Naftali Bennett was one of Israel’s soldiers in Lebanon. He projects a tough guy persona. ‘I have killed lots of Arabs in my time and there’s no problem with that’, he has said.  Among ‘the Arabs’ he has helped to kill were the more 100 Lebanese civilians, many of them children, who had taken refuge in the UN compound at Qana, southern Lebanon, when it was shelled by an invading Israeli force in April, 1996. One man lost 31 members of his family, including nine children. Bennett was a member of the so-called ‘elite’ Maglan unit.  When his detachment was caught in an ambush by Hezbollah he called for help from an artillery unit. According to another officer, when he came on the line, Bennett was hysterical, but the shells came in and saved him, 13 exploding in the UN compound. Israel’s claim that it was a mistake was belied by UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali, who filed a report with the Security Council showing that the bombing was unlikely to have been an error, given that the compound had been under reconnaissance by Israeli drones and helicopters. He lost his second term in office as a result, the US refusing to support him and backing Kofi Annan instead.

Bennett regards himself and his former military comrades as warriors. This is not an opinion shared by Hasan Nasrallah, on the basis of all the experiences Hezbollah has had with the Israelis. In a recent interview on Al Mayadeen television station Nasrallah derided the fighting capacity of Israeli soldiers. In his eyes the achievements of the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine had shattered the myth of Israeli invincibility (a myth actually shattered at least as far back as the war of 1973). Hezbollah and allied forces had fought the takfiris for more than seven years in Syria and more than three years in Iraq. This was an enemy going into battle with squads of suicide bombers, an enemy ready to die ‘without limit’, compared to the Israelis whom, Nasrallah said, do not move forward unless they are preceded by armor, followed by ambulances and protected by fighter jets and helicopters overhead. ‘Such a soldier is defeated beforehand. He is a coward with no will to fight.’  Fighting the Islamic State was much more difficult than fighting Israel, which it was possible to defeat ‘bila shaq’ (without doubt). It was the human factor that gave the resistance the edge.

Nasrallah referred repeatedly to the coming ‘great war’ with Israel, which would involve not just the ‘axis of resistance’ (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and all organizations in the Arab world ‘that support this path’) but hundreds of thousands of Arab volunteers. Nasrallah said Sayyid Abd al Malik al Houthi had promised to send tens of thousands of fighters volunteers even if the Saudi-Yemeni war continued. This war, which Nasrallah has frequently said Hezbollah would carry across the armistice line into Galilee, and would stretch along the whole Lebanese and Syrian front with Israel, has been the central theme of all his recent interviews.

Israel’s strategy from the start will be the total destruction of Hezbollah as quickly as possible and as much of Lebanon as is needed to destroy Hezbollah. Air power will be the crux of Israel’s war strategies, as it has been in the past. This is what Hezbollah and its allies will have been working on for years to neutralize. That Israel is actively preparing for war is clear from the air and ground exercises it has held in the past six months, combining air, naval and ground forces, robotics, fighting in tunnels and the evacuation of civilians from the northern region up to the armistice line with Lebanon. The Israeli general staff has effectively acknowledged the poor performance of troops on the ground, in Gaza or in Lebanon in 2006 by increasing the ratio of soldiers and officers from a religious settler background, more strongly motivated to fight, it thinks, than young men from a secular background.

There is no doubt that the Israeli general staff analyses every word Nasrallah utters, takes him seriously and has respect for him on the basis of Hezbollah’s military achievements but little of what he says reaches the ‘western’ mainstream media. He is just the bushy-bearded cleric regularly presented as Iran’s proxy in Lebanon as if he has no mind of his own, rather than having one of the most impressive minds in the Middle East. Nasrallah never indulges in loose talk and talks only of the ‘possibility’ of a coming great war, so as not to alarm people, when clearly in his mind it is not just a probability but a war that will bring the historical confrontation with Israel to an end point. By inflicting a crushing defeat on its enemies, this is certainly what Israel will have in mind. Hezbollah is prepared and Nasrallah thinks it can win.

The very idea that Israel could be defeated on the battlefield has no place at all in a ‘western’ discourse built as it has been on media bias and centuries of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias. It would be regarded as unthinkable, nonsensical, and laughable. Israel has setbacks but it does not lose wars: the possibility does not exist in minds conditioned by endless media bias. Such a war should be regarded with dread: as Nasrallah says, no-one could say where it might not lead, but with all options for peace destroyed, the pendulum inevitably swings in this direction. Has Hasan Nasrallah drifted away from reality, talking of victory and the hundreds of thousands of fighters who will join this coming war, or does he know something that we don’t? He obviously knows many things that we don’t but to defeat Israel, its offensive and defensive air power would have to be neutralized. Have Hezbollah and Iran worked out how to do this? Is this the source of his confidence? We will have to wait for the war to find out.

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hariri lauds Hezbollah, wants ‘best of relations’ with Iran

Press TV – January 12, 2018

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has called for his county to be kept out of regional conflicts, lauding the Hezbollah resistance movement for doing its part to de-escalate the tensions.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Hariri said he was open to Hezbollah continuing to participate in the government following the elections slated for May.

“Hezbollah has been a member of this government. This is an inclusive government that has all the big political parties, and that brings political stability to the country,” Hariri said during Wednesday interview, defying pressure from Saudi Arabia to confront the resistance movement.

“My main goal is to preserve this political stability for the unity of the country,” said Hariri, who reached a power-sharing deal with Hezbollah in 2016.

Hariri abruptly declared his resignation from Saudi Arabia and from Saudi-owned television on November 4, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of interfering in the region and signaling that that was his reason to quit.

But Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who suspected that Hariri had been forced to step down, refused to accept his resignation and demanded his return from Saudi Arabia first. Lebanese intelligence sources soon concluded that Hariri was under restrictions in Riyadh.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah secretary general, said back then that Saudi authorities had clearly and openly declared a war on Lebanon by holding Prime Minister Hariri hostage and forcing him to quit.

That drama ended when Hariri returned to Lebanon on November 22 — partially after a diplomatic intervention by France — and rescinded his resignation on December 5.

In the Wall Street Journal interview, Hariri declined to discuss the details of his stay in Saudi Arabia.

The Lebanese prime minister then outlined in his interview a vision under which Lebanon will finally focus on its own affairs and reject foreign interference.

“We cannot accept interference from anyone in Lebanese politics,” Hariri said, adding “Our relationship with Iran—or with the [Persian] Gulf —has to be the best relationship, but one that serves the national interests of Lebanon.”

Hariri further highlighted Hezbollah’s willingness to comply with a policy of “disassociating” Lebanon from regional conflicts.

Hariri, however, admitted that Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria will take time as the situation there is more complex.

Hezbollah has been helping the national Syrian army in the fight against terrorists in an effort to prevent the spillover of the crisis into Lebanon.

The Lebanese premier also cautioned Israel against any military action against Lebanon, saying any such war would be counterproductive.

”Every time, they say they [Israelis] want to launch a war with the purpose of weakening Hezbollah. And every single time they went to war with Lebanon, they actually strengthened Hezbollah—and weakened the state.”

Hezbollah is Lebanon’s de facto military power, and has been fighting off recurrent acts of Israeli aggression against the homeland. Riyadh, which reportedly maintains clandestine ties with Tel Aviv, however, has made no secret of its opposition to the group, and has been trying for more than a decade to weaken it.

Lebanon has repeatedly praised Hezbollah’s key role in the war against terrorism, with Lebanese President Michel Aoun defending the resistance movement’s possession of arms as essential to Lebanon’s security

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 4 Comments

Israel Ready for ‘A Very Violent War’

By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | December 28, 2017

‘Violence is not the way.’ How often did we hear Tony Blair say it? We know that violence should not be the way but we know that it is often is. The ‘we’ definitely does not include Blair, an architect of extreme violence in the Middle East. We know from history that violent states can often leave the peaceful with nothing left but violence to stop them going any further. This is the paradoxical trap in human behavior: the violent can ultimately impose violence on the peaceful.

We would be deluding ourselves if we think that such a point has not been reached with Israel or has not been almost reached; we have to leave open the slim possibility that somehow it will come to its senses and do what it could have done decades ago, make peace with the Palestinians and through them with the Arab and Muslim worlds and, in fact, with the world in general, but this does not seem likely.

The Zionist leaders knew from the beginning that the only way they could take Palestine would be through war. Jabotinsky was blunt about it, Ben-Gurion honest only in his private correspondence: only by fire and sword could Israel be created out of Palestine and having stepped on this path Israel has never stepped off it.

Over seven decades it has waged war after war:  against the Palestinians, against Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, against any state, organisation or individual that gets in its way. It has massacred, assassinated and bombed ambulances, hospitals, schools, UN compounds and apartment blocks. It has never shown concern for the human lives it takes: on the contrary, one of its pilots even joked when asked how he felt when firing a missile at an apartment building in Gaza.   His reply was that he felt a ‘slight tremor’ in the wings of his plane.

Over the years Israel’s rabbis and generals have declared all Palestinians as the enemy or as cancers, snakes and cockroaches to be crushed or cut out. The Palestinian enemy even includes the children not yet born, giving Golda Meir nightmares when she went to bed, not knowing how many Palestinians might have been born by the time she woke up.

These frightful sentiments are reflected on the street and in the mainstream culture, in polls showing hatred of Palestinians, even amongst schoolchildren, and in the unending violence of West Bank settlers. The soldiers and border police who protect these settlers do what they like, knowing they will not be punished, or punished so lightly that the punishment only adds insult to injury to the victim and his/her family. The murder of Abd al Fatah al Sharif as he lay wounded in the streets of Hebron last year and the recent murder by a sniper of the wheelchair-bound Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, whose legs were severed by an Israeli missile strike on Gaza in 2008,  are not brutal anomalies but entirely consistent with Israel’s violent history.

Destroying the enemy before he becomes too strong has been Israel’s guiding maxim since 1948. Egypt was kept off balance by repeated attacks across the armistice line before the tripartite aggression of 1956. That failed because of the intervention of the US once British treachery was revealed. Israel then reverted to more attacks across the armistice line before the attack of 1967 on Egypt and Syria.  The myth of invincibility lasted only until the first week of the 1973 war, during which Israel’s forces were routed in Sinai. Had Sadat not betrayed Hafez al Assad they would have been driven off the Golan Heights as well, but that still would have left the probability of direct intervention by the US to save Israel from the consequences of its own folly.

This was the last war Israel fought against a regular army. Its ‘wars’ on Lebanon and Gaza were no more than military onslaughts on a mostly defenseless population and even then it could not win them. Gaza has managed to stand upright despite the carnage of Israel’s attacks and in Lebanon the uprooting of the PLO in 1982 only cleared the way for a Shia resistance taking political and military shape in the form of Hezbollah.  By 2000 this guerrilla army had driven the Zionists out of southern Lebanon and in 2006 it heaped further humiliation on them when they returned, which brings us to considerations of the present situation.

The first is that Israel’s geopolitical situation is not what it was. The days when Israel could call on the sympathy of the world, as an allegedly beleaguered little state threatened with extinction, have long since gone. With the exception of the US and its hangers-on, the world knows what Israel is, a bully.

In the Middle East Israel’s geopolitical situation is not what it was either. The treaties it has signed with Egypt and Jordan are moribund. The popular antagonism to Israel in both countries is as strong now as the day these treaties were signed, and probably even stronger following Trump’s inflammatory statement, the killing of Ibrahim Abu Thuraya and the powerful stand taken by a Palestinian teenager, Ahad Tamimi, in slapping the face of a Zionist soldier.

Militarily, Israel’s decline could be charted on a graph. The slide since 1967 has been slow but continuous. Yes, Israel has nuclear weapons and intermittently sends out signals that it is prepared to use them, as it did in 1973. Yes, it has supreme air power but even this has not been sufficient to give it the victories it wants and as Israel’s intelligence and military chiefs know, Israel’s enemies are working all the time on the means of countering Israel’s technological superiority. The Zionist media might jeer at Hasan Nasrallah but Israel’s military commanders do not.

Israel has tried to destroy Hezbollah but has failed. It has tried to intimidate Iran through the assassination of its scientists and repeated threats of military attack but it has failed, even with the additional weapon of US sanctions. The law of unintended consequences has prevailed: the attempt to destroy Syria has also failed, ultimately, despite the massive destruction and loss of life, and so has the attempt to destroy Iraq, which is regaining its shattered unity under a Shia-dominant government close to Iran and sympathetic to Hezbollah. The collapse of Kurdish secessionism is another blow to Israel. The obverse of these failures is the growing military strength of Hezbollah and Iran, far greater now than a decade ago.

It is for these reasons that the Middle East is facing perhaps the most dangerous moment in its modern history. Psychologically, strategically, Israel cannot allow the present situation to continue unchecked, cannot allow Hezbollah and Iran to grow even stronger in the coming years. It must reassert its military dominance and all the signals pouring out of the political and military establishment indicate that after a year of intensive preparations it is ready to go. The target will be Lebanon, which Israel’s propagandists are portraying as no more than a Hezbollah enclave manipulated by Iran, which Israel will want to draw into the conflict. The war will be one of massive destruction, with Israel’s ministers differing only on whether Lebanon is to be bombed back to the Stone Age (Yisrael Katz) or the Middle Ages (Naftali Bennett).

Israel’s war preparations in the past year include the biggest land maneuvers for two decades. Held in northern occupied Palestine right on the armistice line with Lebanon the ‘Light on the Grain’ maneuvers in September, 2017, began with the evacuation of civilians in the region. An estimated 30,000-40,000 soldiers and reservists were involved, in 20 brigades, with jet fighters, helicopters, drones, submarines, gunboats and patrol boats providing backup and reconnaissance for troops on the ground. Electronic warfare, the use of robot fighters in tunnels and mock battles with soldiers wearing ‘enemy’ uniforms and carrying fake explosive belts were all on the agenda. The exercises were based on the assumption of a ten-day war with Hezbollah. According to Walid Sukkariya, a retired Lebanese general and member of parliament, the number of soldiers deployed indicated the deployment of 150,000 troops in a real war.

In November, 2017, the largest aerial exercise in Israel’s history was held in southern occupied Palestine. This multilateral two-week ‘Blue Flag’ exercise involved about 1000 pilots from nine countries, including, for the first time in the history of such maneuvers, Germany. Hundreds of jet fighters flew an estimated 1000 missions from the Uvda base as the ‘blue’ forces ‘attacked’ the ‘red alliance’, an unspecified enemy whose pilots, however, were all given an Arabic name.  Helicopters, drones and UAVs were used: electronic warfare was central to the maneuvers, as was the assumption that the ‘enemy’ would be armed with SAMs and MANPAD missile launchers.

Offshore, Cyprus has been used by Israel as it prepares for its next war. In March, 2017, Israel and the government of southern Cyprus staged the three-day ‘Onsilos-Gedeon’ military maneuvers in and over a large area around Nicosia. In June an estimated 500 Israeli soldiers, many from the ‘elite’ Egoz unit, along with 100 soldiers from the Cypriot National Guard took part in a two- week war exercise in the Troodos mountains, where the terrain is similar to southern Lebanon. The combat involved ‘fighting’ above and below ground, fighting in dense bush in mountainous terrain and airborne maneuvers night and day. The aerial component included five Israeli squadrons, C130 transport planes, Blackhawk helicopters and Unit 669, whose core mission is to rescue pilots and soldiers trapped behind enemy lines.

In late October, 2017, Cypriot-Israeli military ‘cooperation’ moved to southern occupied Palestine, where soldiers from the Cypriot National Guard and the Egoz unit staged exercises held over two weeks at the Tzeelim military base. The focus was on urban warfare in the setting of a mock ‘Arab’ town.

These ongoing military maneuvers are part of a new strategic (military and commercial) axis developing in the eastern Mediterranean between Israel, Cyprus and Greece and drawing in other countries because of the lucrative profits that will eventually come from the deep sea natural gas deposits drilled by southern Cyprus in its Aphrodite field and Israel in its Leviathan and Tamar fields 140 kms from the coast of occupied Palestine. Haifa.

The military engagement with Israel and the holding of maneuvers on Cypriot soil which, for Israel, are clearly directed at an ‘Arab’ enemy, have caused consternation in the ranks of the Cypriot opposition. In June the Akel party noted that the Troodos mountains had been chosen for their similarity to the topography of southern Lebanon. It said the exercises had involved Cyprus in dangerous war games ‘with an army that has been an occupying power for 50 years in the Palestinian territories.’ The militarization of cooperation with Israel was dangerous to Cyprus and regional peace.

The scale of these exercises leaves no room for doubt that Israel is not merely upgrading and monitoring its military preparedness but actively preparing for war. The alarm bells have been sounding continuously for the past year: according to Channel Two, given access to Israeli positions along the armistice line with Lebanon, Israel is preparing for ‘a very violent war.’ Already in 2008 the then head of the Zionist military’s northern command, now the chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, presented the ‘Dahiya doctrine’, focusing on the massive damage that would be done in areas associated with Hezbollah. According to Eisenkot: ‘In every village from which Israel is fired upon we will apply disproportionate force against it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. It is a plan and it has been approved.’

Dahiya, of course, was the largely Shia suburb of Beirut pulverized from the air by Israel in 2006. Others think the ‘doctrine’ should be applied even more widely. In the words of education minister Naftali Bennett, uttered in March, 2017, ‘The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airports, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese army bases, they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out. That’s what we should already be saying to them and they would know that if Hezbollah fires missiles at the Israeli home front this will mean sending Lebanon back to the Middle Ages.’ From Bennett this is not empty rhetoric. After all, in 1996 it was he who called in the artillery barrage that killed more than 100 people, half of them children, in the UN compound at Qana, southern Lebanon; ‘I am proud of how I functioned during operation Grapes of Wrath’, he remarked later. ‘Leave the warriors alone.’ After all, again, it was Bennett who once said ‘I have killed lots of Arabs in my life and there is no problem with that.

According to intelligence minister Yisrael Katz, speaking this December with a Saudi newspaper, ‘What happened in 2006 will be a picnic compared to what we can do now. I remember a Saudi minister saying they will send Hezbollah back to their caves in southern Lebanon. I am telling you that we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age … and bury Nasrallah under the rocks.’  These are genocidal threats, plain and simple, and both Iran and Hezbollah are preparing for the onslaught. Hezbollah has already said it has missiles that can reach any part of occupied Palestine and has hinted that ports and refineries would be among the targets in any coming war.

Nasrallah’s response to these threats, made in his address marking the 10th of Ashura in October this year, warrants attention because he is not a man to indulge in idle talk. This was a long speech in which he distinguished Judaism from Zionism, in which he said the Jews brought to Palestine from all over the world were cannon fodder in a British-western colonialist war against the Arabic and Muslim people of the region and were still serving as fuel for US policies.

Addressing ‘Jewish scholars, their eminent personalities, their thinkers’ he warned that Netanyahu is leading ‘your people’ in Palestine to annihilation and destruction. He was working with Trump to tear up the agreement with Iran and push the region into a new war but neither he nor his government and military officials had an accurate picture of what awaited them if they started another war. ‘That is why I call first of all on Jews except the Zionists to detach their considerations from Zionist calculations which will only lead them to their final destruction. I call on all those who came into occupied Palestine believing the promises that they would find the land of milk and honey, I call on them to leave Palestine and go back to the countries from which they came so they do not become mere fuel in any war to which the stupid Netanyahu will lead them. For if Netanyahu launches a war in this region there may be no more time for them to leave Palestine and there may be no safe place for them in occupied Palestine.’ Such a war could bring about ‘the end of all things for you and for the Zionist entity.’

This was possibly the strongest and most direct speech Nasrallah has ever made. The confidence in what he had to say suggests that Hezbollah has attained or developed weaponry that Israel may find it hard to counter. The speech indicates that after more than seven decades, Nasrallah fully understands that the conflict with Israel is rapidly moving towards the existential level of either/or: either Hezbollah will be destroyed and Iran crippled or Israel will suffer blows of such magnitude as to threaten its survival. Right now this may seem improbable but history is nothing if not a trickster, especially for those who make their calculations on the basis of power they will never lose. For either side defeat is not an option: Israel is preparing to fight a war of unprecedented savagery to finish off its enemies and they are ready to defend themselves and (as Nasrallah has warned) take the war into enemy territory. This seems close to the point at which we now stand, without anyone in the ‘international community’ putting on the brakes to stop the momentum towards war.

– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press).

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 6 Comments

New details emerge of Saudi Arabia’s treatment of Hariri

Press TV – December 25, 2017

A leading US daily has revealed new details of Saudi Arabia’s degrading treatment of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a recent trip to Riyadh, where the Lebanese leader was coerced into reading a prepared resignation speech under conditions similar to that of a captive.

Prime Minister Hariri abruptly declared his resignation from a then-unknown location in Saudi Arabia and from Saudi-owned television on November 4, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of interfering in the region and signaling that that was his reason to quit.

But Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who suspected early on that Hariri hadn’t resigned of his free will, refused to accept his resignation and demanded his return from Saudi Arabia first. Lebanese intelligence sources soon concluded that Hariri was under restrictions in Riyadh.

That drama ended when Hariri returned to Lebanon on November 22 — partially after a diplomatic intervention by France — and rescinded his resignation on December 5.

While some details had already emerged of the circumstances of Hariri’s three-week stay in Saudi Arabia, more appeared in a Sunday report by The New York Times, which used information from “a dozen Western, Lebanese and regional officials and associates of Mr. Hariri” to draw a better picture of what happened to him in Riyadh.

Hariri, who reached a power-sharing deal with Hezbollah in 2016 and who had formerly attempted to convince Riyadh of the need to work with Hezbollah, met with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior Iranian adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, on November 3.

“That may have been the last straw for the Saudis,” the report said, adding, ” Within hours, Mr. Hariri received a message from the Saudi king — come now — ahead of a meeting that had been scheduled days later.”

A well-connected Lebanese analyst was cited as saying that Hariri was also invited to spend a day in the desert with the prince.

“But when he (Hariri) landed in Riyadh, Saudi officials took Mr. Hariri to his house and told him to wait — not for the king, but for the prince. He waited, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. No one came,” it said.

The next morning, he was “summoned at 8:30 a.m. to the Saudi royal offices — unseemly early, by the kingdom’s standards.”

Thinking that he would go camping with the prince, Hariri wore jeans and a T-shirt to the Saudi royal offices.

“But instead he was stripped of his cellphones, separated from all but one of his usual cluster of bodyguards, and shoved and insulted by Saudi security officers,” the report said. “Then came the ultimate indignity: He was handed a pre-written resignation speech and forced to read it on Saudi television.”

“Before going on TV, he was not even allowed to go to the house he owns there; he had to ask guards to bring him a suit.”

‘Down the hall from the prince’s office’

Information on what happened between Hariri’s arrival in Riyadh and the resignation is missing. The Times cited Lebanese officials as describing that interval as the “black box.”

“They (the Lebanese officials) said they were reluctant to press Mr. Hariri for details. When asked, one of them said, Mr. Hariri just looked down at the table and said it was worse than they knew.”

Hariri, who runs a private business in Saudi Arabia, was “manhandled” by Saudi officials and was also threatened that he would face “corruption charges,” according to one official.

He read the resignation speech he had been given “from a room an official said was down the hall from the prince’s office.”

‘Our prime minister has been detained’

“Lebanese officials,” the report said, “began making the rounds to puzzled Western diplomats with an unusual message: We have reason to believe our prime minister has been detained.”

Hariri “was eventually placed with Saudi guards in a guesthouse on his own property, forbidden to see his wife and children.”

Some Western diplomats were allowed to meet with the Lebanese prime minister there. “There were two Saudi guards in the room [during those meetings]… and when the diplomats asked if the guards could leave, Mr. Hariri said no, they could stay.”

Opposite effect

The drama was seen as a Saudi attempt to disrupt the political balance in Lebanon to the disadvantage of Hezbollah, which shared power both in the parliament and Hariri’s government with other Lebanese factions.

The Times report pointed to how Mohammed bin Salman was looking to use Hariri as a “pawn” against Iran, “as if he were an employee [of Riyadh] and not a sovereign leader.”

But instead, the Lebanese people of all political inclinations soon came out with massive support for their prime minister, demanding that he safely return and continue work. Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also voiced support for Hariri.

The report said Western officials were wondering what Saudi Arabia “hoped to accomplish with all this intrigue.”

“Several do not rule out the possibility that they aimed to foment internal unrest in Lebanon, or even war.”

Mohammed bin Salman has orchestrated a war on Yemen already. Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a number of its allies in pounding Yemen — already the Arab world’s poorest state — causing famine and a cholera epidemic there.

The report said Saudi [Persian] Gulf Affairs Minister Thaber al-Sabhan, who is believed to have been a key figure in the Hariri scheme, “got a withering reception” on a visit later to Washington, where US officials “demanded that Mr. Sabhan explain why Riyadh was destabilizing Lebanon.”

Prime Minister Hariri, in the meantime, has been continuing work with renewed support and stronger unity among Lebanese people and political groups.

“Now, Mr. Hariri remains in office with new popularity, and Hezbollah is stronger than before,” the Times said.

December 25, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

France’s Macron and Saudi Prince in Artful Deception

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 12.12.2017

A week after French President Emmanuel Macron opened the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, a painting attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci went on sale for a record $450 million at an auction in New York City.

It was then reported that the buyer turned out to be none other than Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia with whom Macron is said to enjoy a close, personal rapport.

The 500-year-old renaissance portrait of Jesus Christ – entitled ‘Salvator Mundi’ (‘Savior of the World’) – will henceforth go on display in Abu Dhabi’s franchise of the Louvre, presumably on long-term loan from the Saudi monarchy.

The story here is one of the French presidency and the Saudi heir using culture and arts for “soft power” projection – or, less prosaically, as public relations to launder their international image. It also ties in with how Macron is disguising pernicious French meddling in Middle East affairs under the image of being a benign diplomatic broker.

The Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, is the only one anywhere in the world that is an official affiliate to the famous Paris museum of the same name. It opens after 10 years of construction, for which the UAE reportedly paid France over $500 million in order to be able to use the famous Louvre name.

France, the UAE and the closely aligned Saudi rulers stand to gain much international prestige, especially after the Saudi Crown Prince reportedly purchased the most expensive artwork in the world to date by the renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci’s other celebrated portrait, the Mona Lisa, is displayed in the Paris Louvre. A certain neat symmetry there.

However, beneath the veneer of classic art lies the grubby, sordid world of politics.

Last weekend, the French president hosted a conference in Paris entitled the International Support Group for Lebanon, whose chief guest was Lebanese premier Saad Hariri. Macron reportedly concluded the summit by saying it was “imperative for foreign powers not to interfere in Lebanese internal affairs”. The implication of that statement was fingering Iran as the culprit of interference through its association with Lebanese coalition government member Hezbollah.

The irony here is that if any country in the region has been guilty of brazenly interfering in Lebanese politics it is Saudi Arabia. Hariri tendered his resignation as prime minister on November 4 after he was summoned to Riyadh by the Saudi rulers who sponsor his Sunni Islam-affiliated political movement in Lebanon. In explaining his surprise resignation, Hariri dramatically and provocatively accused Iran and Hezbollah of plotting to assassinate him.

Hariri has since returned safely to Lebanon and has reversed his earlier resignation announcement. Both Iran and Hezbollah have rejected his claims of intended malice as ridiculous. It seems Hariri was trying to project a well-worn Saudi narrative to criminalize Iran and Hezbollah, whom the hardline Sunni (Wahhabi) Saudi rulers view as “Shia heretics” and regional nemesis – especially after recent military victory in Syria.

Evidently, Hariri is still doing the Saudi rulers’ bidding. Last week before the Paris summit, he told Paris Match in an interview that the Syrian government of Bashar al Assad – an ally of Iran and Hezbollah – wants him dead. He reiterated baseless accusations that Syria had been involved in the assassination of his father Rafic in 2005. The Paris summit a few days later then endorsed Hariri’s demand that Hezbollah, and by extension Iran, must “disassociate” from regional influence. France’s Macron publicly backed this demand.

That brings us to the art of deception. Saudi Arabia’s antagonism against Iran, Hezbollah and Syria is being finessed with French diplomatic sophistry. French President Macron and his foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian are subtly lending credence to Saudi attempts at demonizing Iran and Hezbollah, accusing both for regional instability – when in reality Riyadh and Paris are much more to blame.

Lebanon is only one such instance of Saudi meddling, which is being given a respectable cover by French diplomatic posturing. When Lebanon’s Christian President Michel Aoun and many Lebanese citizens were condemning Saudi rulers for “kidnapping” Hariri during his extraordinary two-week sojourn in Riyadh last month following his resignation, it was France’s Macron who deftly diverted attention from Saudi interference by extending a personal invite to Hariri to visit Paris along with his family. That invitation to Paris for Hariri on November 18 let the Saudis off the hook over claims that they were holding the Lebanese politician under duress.

Another instance of egregious Saudi-French meddling is Syria. The country has been ravaged by a nearly seven-year war that was largely sponsored covertly by Saudi Arabia, France and other NATO allies. That war has only been put to an end by the military intervention of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

In Yemen, the Saudi rulers have devastated the poorest country in the Arab region with a nearly three-year war that has been fueled with massive American, British and French weapons exports. A $3.6 billion arms deal that France signed with Lebanon at the end of 2014 for which the Saudis said they would foot the bill has ended up being diverted to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen, according to L’Observatoire des Armements.

French weapons reportedly include Cougar troop-transport helicopters, Mirage fighter jets, drones, and mid-air refueling tanker planes, which have enabled a Saudi bombing campaign that has been condemned for multiple war crimes from the targeting of thousands of civilians. French weapons also include navy corvettes and patrol boats which have helped enforce the Saudi naval blockade on Yemen. That blockade is inflicting starvation and disease on millions of children.

Given the scope of criminal Saudi-French interference in the region, it is therefore a travesty that these two countries are promoting a narrative seeking to impugn Iran and Hezbollah.

But this travesty is being given credence by an uncritical Western media, and by French President Macron donning an image of a progressive, liberal, cultured politician.

When Macron opened the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi on November 8 he gave a speech in which he eulogized the “beauty of art” being a source of healing power to overcome “discourses of hatred”. He said the museum would “defend beauty, universality, creativity, reason and fraternity”.

This nauseating self-indulgence sounds rather like pretentious French pseudo-philosophy. A load of lofty-sounding cant which seeks to conceal what are brutal French state interests – weapons sales and fueling conflict – as somehow wonderfully benign and enlightened.

The next day, after his “emotive” speech in Abu Dhabi, Macron made a reportedly unscheduled flight to Riyadh to meet the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This was while Lebanese premier Saad Hariri was still in the Saudi capital, apparently being held against his will.

One week later, on November 15, the Da Vinci portrait, ‘Salvator Mundi’, goes on sale at Christie’s auction house in New York. The buyer remained unknown until last week when the New York Times reported that it was Crown Prince MbS who splashed out the $450 million bid. The question is: was the young 32-year-old Saudi despot acting on advice from his cultured French friend Macron, as a way to gain some good international PR? It certainly smacks of orchestration.

Such profligate spending by the Saudi heir comes at an awkward time when he and his ruling clique have arrested some 200 other Saudi royals in a purported crackdown on corruption and graft. The embarrassment seems to have prompted the Saudi rulers to subsequently deny that MbS is the buyer, claiming instead that it was a cousin of the Crown Prince who was acting as an agent for the Louvre in Abu Dhabi to acquire the venerated art piece.

Whatever the truth about the precise buyer of Da Vinci’s ‘Savior of the World’, it seems clear that the French state and the Saudi monarchy are in any case engaged in a cynical image-laundering exercise. They are exploiting high-brow culture and religious sanctity as a way to project an image of civility and beneficence.

Macron in particular is serving as a sophisticated public relations agent for the Saudi rulers, laundering their badly tarnished image. In return, no doubt, Macron is securing lucrative future French arms sales to the Saudis, as well as to the Emiratis. Saudi Arabia is the top export market for France’s weapons industry.

French weapons-dealing with the Saudis is directly responsible for a slaughter of innocents in Yemen and Syria. And at the same time French diplomatic sophistry is covering up for Saudi subversion of Lebanon’s internal affairs. Yet, the Saudis and their French PR President Emmanuel Macron have the audacity to accuse Iran and Hezbollah of regional interference.

That’s the “beauty of art” indeed. The art, that is, of deception.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment