Aletho News


War by another name in Syria

By Franklin Lamb | Al-Manar | June 19, 2013

Beirut – The Group of Eight leaders meeting in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, having called for an international conference on the ongoing crisis in Syria to be held “as soon as possible” could not agree on much else that might end the civil war anytime soon there. The White House now is reportedly in private agreement with Russia and Iran that the Assad government will remain in power until next year’s election.

Consequently, an 18 month old US-led Plan B has been dusted off by the Obama administration according to Washington Congressional and Beirut diplomatic sources. If successful, there is growing confidence among pro-Zionist neocons in Congress that while Syrian regime-change has failed for several reasons that thwarted the Gulf funded military campaign, Syria can still be brought to heel through an economic campaign dressed to look, well, down right “humanitarian.”

The term “equivalent of the Marshall Plan” is being employed by some in the White House and Pentagon this month to describe a proposed large-scale “humanitarian rescue program” being prepared for Syria, according to some Western diplomats based in Lebanon.

However, the 1948 Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program or ERP) was an American program to aid Europe, through which the United States provided $13 billion, in today’s monetary terms, approximately 100 billion dollars of economic support, to help rebuild European economies devastated by war.

With respect to Syria, the “equivalent of the Marshall Plan” currently being finalized is very different from what General George C. Marshall explained to his Harvard University audience, 66 years ago this month, when he announced the post WW II initiative.

The Syria project already amounts to 19th century economic imperialism as a means to achieve control of Syria by hijacking its economy while shielding Israel from the rising tide of protests in this region, as armed groups across the spectrum are beginning to focus on directly confronting the Zionist theft and continuing occupation of Palestine.

What Washington has in mind constitutes an attempt to gain control over Syria by controlling its economy via contracts for rebuilding the country and “lending” the hoped for post-Assad Syrian government as much as 300 billion dollars to be secured by Syrian assets. IMF economists estimate the value of the public sector in Syria, exceeds half a trillion dollars. Under the US-led pan, creditors can take control of ownership of the public sector, if Syria accepts the plan for pledges to secure debt. The buyers of the debt will be largely American and indirectly Israeli businessmen as well as from the Gulf. Qatar specifically is gambling on this plan, to work with “international parties”, to immerse Syria in debt, and then drive the country to sell [its public sector assets] to the private sector at a very small fraction of their true values.

Some who are warning against the scheme point out that Syrians are capable of rebuilding their own country and have the labor force and raw materials to do it. Foreign aid will be welcomed by the Syrian government but not at the price of ceding the Arab Syrian Republic to a new western crafted economic order. What is hidden in the war on Syria is reported to be much bigger than has been divulged to date, and involves winding down the military actions in favor of economic aggression against the Syrian population which the layers of US sanctions to date is just a harbinger.

In this context, according to Western Diplomatic sources, the US government and some Gulf countries have tried to bribe Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Syria’s President, to break with the government and leave the country. Some other well-known figures have also been offered large sums of cash to break ranks. Last month, one prominent Syrian nationalist who works with the government told this observer of receiving a $ 50 million dollar offer to defect and leave Syria. The official rejected the bribe and ridiculed the government that made the offer by explaining that as proud Syrian nationalists, no amount of money would break the sacred bond between Syrians and their country.

With respect to Mr. Maklouf, he did not react to being placed on the US Treasury Department’s “Specially Designated Nationals” (SDN) list which blocks assets and prohibits, under severe penalties, U.S. citizens from dealing with them, nor did he dignify an American clemency offer with even a reply. Rather he has maintained his steadfast support for Syria in the face of several attempts to assassinate him as well as targeting him, as a leader of the Syrian business community, with American orchestrated Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) defamatory media campaigns, to pressure him to break with President Bashar al-Assad. Rather than rejecting Syria for American offers of protection, Makhlouf channeled much of his assets for the benefit of domestic charities and rehabilitative projects, providing jobs for the unemployed and loans for small investors as well as “at cost” family housing for many of the internally displaced. This initiative continues. Makhlouf has provided his bourse shares in the largest telecommunications companies in Syria to charity associations in order to insure financial independence and resources that the Authority can rely upon, to ease somewhat, the devastating effects on the current crisis on the Syrian civil society.

According to analysts among the Western diplomatic corps in Beirut, many wealthy Syrian capitalists fell into the U.S. trap, wherein SDN economic sanctions prompted them to leave Syria and defect from the regime. The United States and its European partners continue to wage an economic war against Syria by imposing crippling sanctions which are affecting the lives of ordinary citizens in many ways from food and fuel costs to medical care.

Why Rami Makhlouf and other strong nationalists in Syria’s business community are being targeted as a prelude to fully launching the US-led “Syrian Marshall Plan” is that their bonds with Syria as well as their business acumen are blocking the Western scheme because they provide the Syrian government with much needed additional financial strength to rebuild Syria, in cooperation with other countries, but without being subject to the economically fatal conditions the US-led plan envisages. Many in the financial and academic community view the proposed SDN plan as nearly certain to hold the Syrian economy hostage to foreigners for scores of years.

The US Treasury Department considers Makhlouf and others like him in the Syrian business community as fully capable, if allowed, of helping Syria’s government to collect huge sums from international investors to help rebuild Syria without being subject to Western domination.

The anti-Mahhlouf black propaganda campaign, according to a Washington DC source familiar with the intensified preparations, was designed to include a wide ranging assault in the visual and written media, audio, as well as in the electronic media: “Qatar and Saudi Arabia, both of which like their western partners who are actually constructing the SDN project, view Makhlouf as a key obstacle to realizing their plans to hijack and control the Syrian economy as part of a soft war, whereby the US and its allies, western and middle eastern, control Arab economies while keeping US boots off the grounds of Arabia or spending more US treasure in this region.”

Targeting of Rami Makhlouf, and other Syrian businessmen by Qatari media and other Arabic paid media outlets, is designed to hit Syria economically, because weakening the Syrian economic security at its core, is a more certain path, than endless military campaigns, to quickly smash the state. Makhlouf and his colleagues are seen as preventing this.

The ultimate goal of Qatar and certain Gulf countries, with US complicity, is not just expanding their investments in this region, as much as Doha is intent on connecting the Arab world to the American-Zionist axis politically and economically. The speed with which Israeli, Gulf, and Western businessmen showed up at the Corinthian, Radisson, and Rixos hotels in Tripoli, Libya, literally within days of the murder of Moammar Qaddafi, “to help rebuild this country” is instructive on these same interests seeking to control a war damaged country by removing obstacles. Indeed, Russian intelligence reported at the time that the salafists who apprehended Qaddafi in Sirte on October 20, 2011, as he attempted to flee, received verbal instructions from a Gulf country (UAE) to kill him in order to eliminate competition for dominating the Libyan economy and to silence those who might torpedo their best laid plans.

The targeting of Mr. Rami Makhlouf and dozens of like-minded Syrian businessmen, who refused to abandon their country, continues. Yet today, like thousands of other Syrian volunteers including the approximately 10,000 who work with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) their time and resources serve their country in order to lessen the suffering of the civilian population. They have stood firm and did not flee, as did some corrupt former supporters and officials of the government.

This week, Syria’s President put the goal of the Marshall Plan for Syria succinctly, without identifying it, “What is happening in Syria is a project for those states to push a non-submissive state towards the brink and to look for a new president who says ‘yes’ (to their orders). They have not found and they will not find in the future,” Assad stressed while adding, “The interference is a blatant violation of international law and the sovereignty of this country; they (western states and their Gulf allies) want to destabilize the country and spread chaos and backwardness.”

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 1 Comment

Brazil: In The Eye Of The Storm

Michel De Souza · June 15, 2013

Durante os protestos essa semana no Rio eu fiz um registro do registro das minhas fotografias.
É um video que conta exatamente momentos antes de cada fotografia tirada, acho que além disso, conta a história de algo que parece estar marcando nosso país.
Confesso que me emocionei ao final.
Assistam, compartilhem, multipliquem.

Fotografias, imagens e edição por Michel de Souza
Trilha original “Changes” por Pedro Curvello

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Video | , , , | Comments Off on Brazil: In The Eye Of The Storm

Nuclear weapon reductions will reduce risks, but prohibition treaty urgent

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons | June 19, 2013

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) welcomes President Obama’s announcement in Berlin today calling for a world without nuclear weapons and the readiness to pursue further reductions in the US and Russian nuclear arsenals. However, the humanitarian consequences of any nuclear weapon use, increasingly the focus of global engagement on these weapons, demands their prohibition and elimination.

The speech by President Obama contributes to a growing recognition that nuclear weapons are unusable weapons with no practical utility in today’s global security environment. Despite this, they threaten shocking humanitarian consequences if they were to be used. Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to treaty prohibition and ICAN is calling for such a treaty to provide the framework for their elimination.

“The speech by Obama comes at a point where many other states, international organisations and civil society are focusing on the unacceptable humanitarian effects that the use of these weapons would create. The level of civilian harm that nuclear weapons threaten makes a treaty prohibiting their use, production and stockpiling urgent,” said Beatrice Fihn of ICAN’s International Steering Group.

2013 has already seen international discussions focused on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and broad cross regional support for this approach. Whilst the intended reductions announced by President Obama would contribute to a reduction in the risk posed by nuclear weapons, the announcement does not challenge the on-going modernisation programmes in most nuclear-armed states or the continued reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines.

A single nuclear weapon detonation in an urban area would kill hundreds of thousands immediately and leave hundreds thousands more in desperate need. A wider use of nuclear weapons could cause climatic changes that impair global crop production and result in people starving even in different continents from the conflict.

“The consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation will not stop at borders; it is truly a global concern no matter who possess these weapons,” says Akira Kawasaki, Executive Committee member of Peace Boat and Co-chair of ICAN. “This announcement should encourage action from all states, not only nuclear armed states and those with extended nuclear deterrence arrangements, but all non-nuclear weapon states as well. It is now time to take bold and tangible steps towards the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons by negotiating a ban.”

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on Nuclear weapon reductions will reduce risks, but prohibition treaty urgent

Time to Raise Political Asylum Quotas for Americans?

US Should Top the List of the International Quota for Political Refugees

By Sybel Edmonds | Boiling Frogs Post | June 17, 2013

I don’t know how you feel about surveys, ranking or indexes, but whether you follow them or not, you must be aware of how we’ve been falling steadily as a nation. Those of you who follow lists-surveys and global indexes, let’s admit it- as a nation we have not been going up on most global ranking lists – in fact, just the opposite.

We have been going down on the list of the World’s Least Corruption Nations-way down. We have been dropping continuously when it comes to our ranking in the education arena. We have been dropping royally when it comes to Healthcare Systems. When it comes to World Press Freedom, we are embarrassingly low, behind Cape Verde, Cyprus, and even trailing Mali, Tanzania, El Salvador, Botswana and Comoros!! We didn’t even make it onto the ridiculous list of the top ten nations’ national happiness index. 

All these competitive areas aside, there is one list we should be climbing steadily and rapidly. Even if you don’t care about all those other global lists you must care about this particular one; for your own good and even your survival. I am talking about a list pertaining to a nation’s status as to its need for acceptance of its political refugees by the global community.

Please don’t laugh or shrug off this suggestion. Instead, pause and think about our whistleblowers in jail or those awaiting the results of their prosecutions. Remember the journalists and reporters being targeted and investigated by our national police. Recall our new laws recently put in place to secretly and indefinitely detain any American citizen (that is you and me)-without any warrant or even having to show any justification. Think about the still-growing national no-fly list. Remind yourself of torture as our government’s common practice; abroad and here at home. Take a look at your land line, cell, laptop, fax and I-Pad as tools used by our government to illegally-secretly-continuously spy on you.

Now you see what I am talking about.

If you still find the notion difficult to accept, then think of the dozens of Hollywood movie classics on the Stasi and KGB. Remember how people climbed the wall or crawled through tunnels to escape the constant surveillance and arbitrary detentions of their national police. Their national police cited national security and unity. Now consider how the NSA and dozens of mega-corporations have you under surveillance illegally; around the clock. Our national police have been citing national security.

How do you think our camps for our citizens to be detained under our new national law, NDAA, would be different than those set up by the Stasi, KGB and the like?

You remember how other western nations received the lucky escapees from the fascistic or communist regimes with open arms? Well, now they should be receiving us, our escapees; with open arms.

They have to. They must. Not doing it would be in violation of their laws and their international pledge:

Asylum is granted to people fleeing persecution or serious harm in their own country and therefore in need of international protection. Asylum is a fundamental right; granting it is an international obligation, first recognized in the 1951 Geneva Convention on the protection of refugees. In the EU, an area of open borders and freedom of movement, countries share the same fundamental values and States need to have a joint approach to guarantee high standards of protection for refugees. Procedures must at the same time be fair and effective throughout the EU and impervious to abuse. With this in mind, the EU States have committed to establishing a Common European Asylum System.

And here is the international law describing who qualifies for international protection-Based on UN Convention & Protocols[Emphasis Mine]:

Grounded in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of human rights 1948, which recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries, the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted in 1951, is the centerpiece of international refugee protection today.(1)

A refugee, according to the Convention, is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Today, we, the citizens of the United States of America, face prosecution, persecution, torture, and possible assassination for engaging in certain journalistic or even Good Samaritan reporting of illegal-criminal-unconstitutional activities by those trusted with our nation’s health, wealth, and security.

Our government has been engaged in ongoing torture and human rights violations at home and abroad. Whether it is the globally recognized USA halls-of-shame in Guantanamo, Bagram and Abu Ghraib, or, secretly carried out atrocities in our government’s  black cites around the globe, or, tortures inflicted on a citizen here at home  who is guilty of exposing government criminalities, our government is now recognized and acknowledged as a Supreme Torturer.

This situation now is being extended to those of us who may have read or disseminated information originally gathered and distributed by others. Today our whistleblowers-truth tellers-Good Samaritans are thrown behind bars, while our criminals who engage in robbing our taxpayers of billions of dollars, or those who engage in torture and murder, are highly protected and handsomely awarded by our rulers.

We United States Citizens have been deprived of expressing collective dissent even through the most peaceful means and in the  most pacifist manner. Our participation or membership in social groups or gatherings that challenge illegal wars or anti humanitarian practices land us on our government’s never-defined ‘enemy & terrorist’ list, with consequences ranging from being prohibited from traveling , to having our homes raided and families intimidated by armed government militia, to being persecuted and thrown before a federal grand jury to face possible incarceration for our beliefs.

We Americans, every single one of us, are treated as potential terrorists, are considered guilty with no way to prove otherwise. We all are subjected to round the clock warrantless-illegal surveillance , and degrading violation-probing-groping searches as mandatory requirements for our travel.

I believe, and you should as well, that we have more than enough cases of recorded atrocities, criminalities and violations inflicted upon us by our very own government to expect a substantial increase in our nation’s status-ranking for acceptance of our political refugees.

I know, and you do too, that there are many nations with governmental practices worse than ours. However, our bad government is much bigger than their bad governments, with much higher capabilities. When you have a huge government like ours, with incredible technological and weaponry capabilities as ours does, you risk far graver atrocities than with smaller bad governments with limited capabilities. That’s a fact. Our big bad government is far worse than their small bad government. And that should increase and elevate our nation’s ranking in the international community’s political refugee quota-status.

As for the so-called liberal nations: we urge you to remember the Stasi and the suffocating repression suffered by the East Germans, and then, go ahead and multiply that by a six-digit number of your choice. Any number will do, that is, as long as it has six digits. Our technology-enabled Stasis can tap, record, analyze and save billions of communications. Our rulers’ mega corporate collaborators can pull the plug on millions of us with no recourse available or even imaginable. Our mega military’s ferocious drones can pinpoint and turn us into ashes with a secret order issued on a simple letterhead.

We implore the international community to grant us, the Citizens of the United States of America, ‘High Priority Political Asylum’ status. At least consider a swapping arrangement whereby the international community’s highest-level criminals, con artists, professional swindlers, and or psychotic serial torturers are sent here where they can find an agreeable working-practicing environment and unlimited government protection and rewards, in exchange for those of us in search of peace, a reasonable degree of freedom and justice.

 Sibel Edmonds is the Publisher & Editor of Boiling Frogs Post and the author of the Memoir Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN Newman’s Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy”

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Time to Raise Political Asylum Quotas for Americans?

US senators question aid to Honduras, citing extrajudicial killings

Press TV – June 19, 2013

A number of US senators have questioned the Obama administration’s foreign aid to Honduras, pointing to growing reports of human rights atrocities in the Central American country that has long been regarded as a US-client state.

In a Tuesday letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, 21 US senators cited “numerous recent killings and threats targeting [labor] union leaders, opposition figures, farmers, students, journalist and others,” emphasizing that officials of the US-backed government have been implicated in such criminal acts, which often go unpunished, The Los Angeles Times reports Wednesday.

“As the November 2013 [Honduran presidential] elections draw near, we are particularly troubled by reports of corruption and extrajudicial killings,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The development comes nearly four years after a US-sponsored military coup in Honduras, ousted its popular and democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, despite objections by many South American heads of state.

This is while many military and civilian officials involved in the brutal military coup still remain in power in the impoverished country, whose wealth and resources are almost entirely controlled by American corporations that operate under the protection of the country’s heavy-handed military and police forces, broadly trained by US instructors.

Honduras, according to the report, has one of the highest homicide rates in the Western Hemisphere due to a profound presence of drug traffickers, vicious gangs and brutal political killings in the country.

The growing violence has especially climbed since the US-backed military coup in the country, the report adds.

The ousted president’s wife, Xiomara Castro, was recently picked as an opposition candidate for president in the upcoming election, and “several people from her Free Party have been killed or attacked,” the report adds.

The senators further asked Kerry to submit to Congress a detailed analysis of whether the Honduran regime was doing something to “protect freedom of expression and association, the rule of law and due process” and to investigate death-squad-style killings involving government security forces.

According to the report, the United States suspended a portion of its aid to Honduras after the country’s top police commander was linked to numerous killings.

“All but about $10 million was resumed, but the Honduran government is supposed to meet a set of criteria that includes ensuring free speech, due process and the prosecution of authorities who commit human rights crimes,” it adds.

In their letter to the Secretary of State, however, the senators expressed doubts that such conditions were being met, urging Kerry to “ensure that no US assistance is provided to police or military personnel or units credibly implicated in human rights violations.”

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Comments Off on US senators question aid to Honduras, citing extrajudicial killings