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Jordan Invites US Targets for Syrian Retaliation

By Nicola Nasser | Alarabi | September 4, 2013

Located at the crossroads of several regional crises, including the Palestinian – Israeli and Iraqi conflicts, Jordan has been in the eye of the Syrian storm for more than thirty months, and managed to navigate safely so far, but the reportedly imminent US strike is pressuring the country between the rock and the hard place of the antagonists of the war on Syria.

Heavily burdened by the pressure of its strategic allies and financiers in the US and the GCC Arab states, who have been leading an unwavering bloody campaign for a “regime change” in Damascus, Jordan could not but yield to their demands for logistical facilities in the country, consequently shooting its self-proclaimed neutrality in the legs.

Thus, grudgingly or otherwise, Jordan has in practice invited potential US targets for Syrian retaliation on its territory if and when the Syrian government perceives that those facilities are used in any US-led strike, now expected.

Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on August 29, interviewed by abcnews online, said that “Jordanian targets” could be targeted by Syria or by a Syrian allied “third party,” a possible development that could embroil the US in defense.

Should such a scenario develop, Jordan will evolve unwillingly into a war zone, to regret yielding to the prerogatives of its strategic alliance with the United States regardless of who emerges winner or loser in the war.

US Targets Invited

When the Eager Lion 2013 exercise ended in June this year, Jordan, inviting a US target for Syrian retaliation, asked the US military to leave behind some equipment, including some F-16s and a Patriot missile defense system.

Then, Jordan’s Prime Minister, Abdullah al-Nsour, indicated a second US target when he told reporters that some 900 U.S. military personnel were in the country, of whom 200 are experts training Jordanians to handle a chemical attack and 700 manning the Patriot system and reportedly 45 F-16 fighter jets.

On last August 14, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Jordan asked the United States to provide manned US surveillance aircraft to help keep an eye on its border with Syria; thus a third US target for Syrian retaliation was invited.

The USA embassy would be a fourth target should any planned US strike target Syrian non-military presidential or governmental headquarters.

However the Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan, officially called Centcom Forward-Jordan (CFJ), remains the oldest and the most important US target for Syrian retaliation.

In mid-August, Gen. Martin Dempsey was in Amman to inaugurate the CFJ, which is manned by 273 US officers, with a closed section, which “houses CIA personnel who control the work of US agents going in and out of Syria,” and also a communications center, where “atop the underground facility is a large surface structure accommodating the American military and civilian offices dealing with Syrian issues from Jordan,” according to the Israeli http://www.debka.com on August 17, 2013, which confirmed a report two days earlier by The New York Times according to which “American correspondents were allowed to visit the site under ground rules that its location not be disclosed.”

However, on October 18 last year the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly reported that the location chosen to host the CFJ was “a Jordanian military base built in an abandoned quarry north of the Jordanian capital Amman, just 35 miles from the Syrian border,” which extends 300 miles along Jordan’s northern flank, and some 120 miles from the Syrian capital Damascus.

Al-Ahram explained that “the origins of the previously secret US deployment in Jordan” dated back to May the same year, “when the Pentagon sent American troops, including Special Forces units, to the country to participate in joint military exercises dubbed Operation Eager Lion. Some 100 military personnel stayed behind and were then joined by dozens more. The task force, according to the New York Times, is commanded by a ‘senior American officer’.”

Speaking to the media at the close of a two-day NATO defense ministers meeting at the time in Brussels, former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the existence of a “US task force that has been sent to Jordan this week after it was first reported in The New York Times,” Al-Ahram added. “The force would be tasked with ensuring the security of the chemical and biological weapons in Syria,” Panetta was quoted as saying. Al-Ahram’s report added: “the outpost near Amman could play a broader role should American policy change” and Washington decide to launch an intervention in Syria.

Denial in Doubt

The denial of the initial reports about the existence of the CFJ as “not true” by a spokesman from the country’s armed forces, quoted by the state-run news agency Petra, sheds doubt on a statement by Jordan’s PM al-Nsour, quoted by the London –based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Monday, that his country knows nothing about the timing, track and targets of a US military strike in Syria, which the US President is now seeking an “authorization” from the Congress to launch.

Al-Nsour’s “lack of knowledge” sounds odd in view of the long established multi-faceted strategic ties between Jordan and the United States, which makes it the obligation of Washington to inform Amman in advance of at least the “timing” of the imminent US strike and makes it an obligation of the Jordanian government to ask for it, at least to be on equal footing with the other Israeli strategic “partner” of the US; it is public knowledge now that the US is committed to inform Israel in advance of any imminent US strike on Syria.

In comparison, at least logistically, if not militarily, especially as far as the Syrian conflict is concerned, Jordan is much more important to the US than Israel to deserve a US warning in advance of any imminent strike.

Moreover, Jordan is in the immediate danger of being flooded with more Syrian refugees who for sure will be an integral part of the humanitarian crisis that the US strike will inevitably exacerbate in Syria.

Unless Jordan is denying its “knowledge” to avert being accused by Syria of complicity with the US, al-Nsour’s “lack of knowledge” sounds more odd not only because his country hosts the CFJ.

Hosting and participating in the meetings of the US – led so – called “Friends of Syria,” as well as the military meetings of eleven chiefs of staff of “The Friends of Syria Core Group,” in addition to hosting the annual Eager Lion exercises, let alone the bilateral strategic ties between Jordan and the US and the anti-Syria members of the GCC, have all combined to posture the country as being an active member of what the Syrian government rename as the “Enemies of Syria,” who are party in the conflict and not part of its solution.

Moment of Truth Approaching

The Eager Lion exercises, from the start, focused on training to intervene and secure the purported Syrian chemical weapons if and when developments dictate such an intervention, which the imminent US strike is now turning into a matter of time.

Last June 18 the AP reported that the Eager Lion Drills “are focused on ground operations, involving commandos from Jordan … practicing offensive operations.” Although the Jordanian embassy spokeswoman in Washington D.C., Dana Zureikat Daoud, told The Center for Public Integrity earlier this year that those drills are “not mission-oriented,” reported recent involvement of Jordanian commandos in Libya and elsewhere in the region gives credence to the reports on their possible involvement anew in Syria.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, during his testimony at the Congress on Tuesday, while confirming that the administration of President Barak Obama “has zero intention of putting troops on the ground,” he in practice retained the option of sending US “boots” to Syria.

“I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the president of the United States” in a scenario where “Syria imploded” and stockpiles of chemical weapons needed to be secured from extremists, he said.

It is public knowledge now that what Obama said will be a strike “limited in time and scope” aims at “degrading” Syrian chemical “capabilities;” the purported Syrian chemical weapons which are now very well secured will be far less secured after the strike and will demand immediate intervention to secure them.

So the moment of truth is around the corner for an intervention either from or with the participation of Jordan, where training in preparation for this moment has been going on by leaps and bounds for the past two years, expectedly inviting reciprocal Syrian preparations for retaliation.

A Syrian possible military clash with Jordan or with Jordanian – hosted US – led intervention units was only a postponed development and will most likely be accelerated by the US planned strike, which is expected to embroil Jordan militarily in the Syrian conflict, willingly or unwillingly.

Counterbalancing with Syrians

To counterbalance with the Syrians, who so far seem flexible enough or under too much pressure to open a diplomatic or non – diplomatic dispute with their southern Arab neighbor, Jordan kept the diplomatic and security channels of communication open with Damascus and went on record to offset its “enemy” posture, but only verbally, to make Jordan a place where words and deeds collide.

As recently as August 29, Jordan’s King Abdullah II after a meeting with Pope Francis, according to an official Vatican statement, reaffirmed that dialogue is the “only option” to end the conflict in Syria.

More than twenty two months ago, in comments in the Oval Office alongside President Obama, King Abdullah II was the first Arab leader to urge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. “I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down,” he told BBC World News in an exclusive interview.

So far, Jordan declined to go public and on record in a clear-cut opposition to the imminent US strike; not excluding the military option, Information Minister Mohammad Momani said that “Jordan believes diplomatic efforts must be exhausted before Washington opts for military action,” but PM Al-Nsour said there will be “no strategic” benefit in insisting on striking Syria and he as well his Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh reiterated that the territory of the kingdom “will not be a launchpad for any military operation against Syria.”

Jordan’s noninterference in internal Syrian affairs is the officially declared policy, but the reported training in the country of Syrian opposition fighters, the recent visit to the country by the President of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Ahmad al-Jarba, the latter’s visit to southern Syria across the Jordanian borders and the reports about opening a SNC representative office in Amman after al-Jarba’s meeting with Nasser Judeh, and the reported infiltration of arms and “Jihadists” from Jordan into Syria are all indications that compromise Jordan’s officially declared policy of noninterference.

In April this year, Syrian President al-Assad said that Amman “is facilitating the passage of thousands of fighters into our country;” it was his first public warning to Jordan. His state TV told the Jordanians they were “playing with fire.” The Syrian newspaper Al-Thawra, also said in a front-page editorial that the Jordanian government “could not claim neutrality” anymore.

Al-Assad added that he had sent envoys to the kingdom during the preceding two months to remind Amman of the two countries’ shared goal of fighting the “terrorists.” “The fire does not stop at our border and everyone knows that Jordan is exposed to what Syria is exposed to.”

In November 2005, al-Qaeda mounted a series of devastating bomb attacks at three luxury hotels in the Jordanian capital, killing some 60 people. The attacks were said to be in retaliation for Jordan hosting training centers for the new Iraqi army and police, and for becoming a de facto logistical transit base in support of the US occupation of Iraq in 2003.

– Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Contact him at: nassernicola@ymail.com.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Oslo Dead but Still Matters

Suppose several armored vehicles belonging to a branch of the Palestinian Authority raided an Israeli border village at the eve of a new round of peace negotiations. One can picture PA President Mahmoud Abbas defending the killings, stating that the attack was made in the cause of protecting the security of the Palestinian public. Would the Israeli delegation return to the talks with handshakes and smiles?

The answer is an obvious no. Yet the Palestinian delegation did return to real recently renewed peace talks after Israeli forces’ raided a refugee camp in north Jerusalem on August 26, killing three. This was not the only lethal Israeli attack to take place during “peace talks”, and it will not likely be the last.

Granted, Palestine is an occupied nation, and its leadership possesses far fewer advantages than its Israeli counterpart; but if negotiations exist under such humiliating circumstances, can Abbas and his chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reasonably expect any fair outcome from these talks?

Of course not. Yet Abbas continues to offer more concessions that defy logic and the history of diplomacy. After volunteering last year to terminate claims to historic Palestine during an Israeli TV interview, which was rightly understood as a direct dismissal of Palestinians’ right of return to land occupied in 1947-48, he is still unrepentant.

“The Palestinians would abandon historic claims to land that is now in the state of Israel in the event of a far-reaching peace deal,” he told a group of Israeli parliamentarians, as reported by The Guardian newspaper on August 23.

Abbas, who serves no purpose aside from filling the US-entrusted role of the “moderate” Palestinian, has no vision of his own. Rather he is an assortment of confounded ideas about peace and justice and international law. He is willing to abandon the internationally enshrined rights of his people, yet expects a “just” agreement that would usher in “an end of the conflict”.

He doesn’t even seem to fully grasp the timetable set forth for the negotiations: “We wanted the meetings … to take place every day or every second day, and not once a week or every 10 days like the Israelis want. I don’t know why they don’t want to. We don’t have much time.”

Although his term as a president of the PA has expired, and his authority doesn’t enjoy a speck of democratic credentials, he makes concessions in the name of his people. “You have a commitment from the Palestinian people and also from the leadership, that if we are offered a just agreement, we will sign a peace deal that will put an end to the conflict and to future demands from the Palestinian side.”

Abbas’ statements have grown so increasingly strange that few political commentators – aside from those working in self-serving media outlets belonging to, partly funded by, or permitted to operate under the auspices of the PA in the West Bank – even bother to decipher his outlandish remarks.

The current peace process, styled on the 1993 Oslo I Accord, is long dead as far as its chances of achieving any peace, just or otherwise. Israel has made it crystal clear that no peace deal is present on its agenda.

In August alone, the Israeli government announced bids for 3,000 more housing units in illegal Jewish settlements. Abbas himself, although playing along for non-altruistic reasons, is aware of that. “I can’t say that I’m optimistic, but I hope we aren’t just wasting our time.”

That said, and although irrelevant as far as its declared reasons for finding a fair solution to the historic conflict, Oslo is not dead as a culture. That aspect of Oslo is very much alive. It continues to define Palestinian political bankruptcy and split Palestinian society.

As disheartening as it may sound, the accord’s legacy has plenty of supporters who are benefiting, to various degrees, from its perks and privileges. It has polarized Palestinians around factional and geographical lines. And unlike other attempts by Israel to weaken Palestinian resolve, this particular gambit has had unparalleled success.

History is laden with failed Israeli experiments aimed at destroying the Palestinian national project from within. In 1976, the Israeli government, then led by Yitzhak Rabin, conducted local elections in the West Bank and Gaza. It was a classic Rabin move aimed at stripping the Palestine Liberation Organization and nationalist leaders of any validity in the occupied territories.

Israel had by then made-up another group of Palestinian “leaders”, which consisted mostly of traditional heads of clans, a small, self-seeking oligarchy that historically accommodated whatever foreign power happened to be ruling over Palestinians at the time. Israel was almost certain that its allies were ready to sweep the local elections, but it miscalculated.

Israel’s miscalculation in 1976 was a rude awakening for both its military and political leaderships, whose plans had officially faltered when the results came out. National candidates won an overwhelming majority, sweeping 148 of the 191 mayoralties and councillorships. The attempt to create an early version of Abbas and his PA was a complete failure.

But Israel was never to give up trying to mold local Palestinian leaders as alternatives to elected Palestinians or internationally recognized representatives of the Palestinian struggle. In 1978, Israeli leader Menachem Begin established the Village Leagues, giving its members relatively wide powers, including approving or denying developmental projects in the occupied territories.

He armed them and also provided them with Israeli military protection. But that too was deemed to fail. “The league members [were] widely regarded as collaborators by their fellow townspeople and villagers (And by 1983) Israel had begun recognizing the artificial nature of the Village Leagues and acknowledged the failure of the efforts to create political institutions capable of mobilizing Palestinian support for the occupation,” wrote Ann Mosely Lesch and Mark Tessler in Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians: From Camp David to Intifada.

As a revamped version of the Village Leagues and their clan-like political apparatus, Abbas’ authority is working too well. Palestinians have to face up to the inescapable reality that their leadership has completely acquiesced and their continued silence is an affirmation of that defeat.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Hands off’: Syrians form human shields outside possible US strike targets

RT | September 4, 2013

As the US Congress inches closer to a decision on a military strike on Syria, citing allegations that Assad forces used chemical weapons against the civilian population, activists in Damascus are stepping up their protest against possible attacks.

RT’s LIVE UPDATES on Syrian ‘chemical weapons’ crisis.

Damascene activists protesting possible US strikes on Syria set up a camp at the foot of Qasioun Mountain just outside the capital on Tuesday.

Qasioun Mountain, a symbol of Damascus and Syria, is home to many security and military buildings and institutions and thus is expected to be one of the targets for the airstrikes. Protesters rallying beside the place called themselves a “human shield” and hold banners featuring slogans such as “No more American bombing democracy” and “Hands off Syria”.

We are here to express our loyalty to our country in the face of American threats. We don’t want what they did in Iraq over chemical weapons claims to be done in our country,” one of the rally participants told RT.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Desperate To Sew Up TPP Negotiations At Any Cost, Politicians Agree All Future Meetings Will Be Completely Secret

By Glyn Moody | Techdirt | September 3, 2013

We’ve been reporting for several years about the extraordinary levels of secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, where little information was released about what was going on, and there were few opportunities for representatives of civic and other groups to meet with negotiators to present their point of view. More recently, there have been some indications that this lack of transparency is fuelling increasing discontent among some of the participating nations.

In order to get the trade deal sewn up by the end of this year, and before resistance spreads further, the negotiators have decided to hold ‘inter-sessional’ meetings for the remaining unresolved areas. But as this article from Scoop explains, these won’t be like routine TPP meetings, with their routinely unhelpful levels of opacity:

Detective work indicates that informal ‘inter-sessional’ meetings on six chapters are scheduled within the next four weeks — all in North America.

‘ “Inter-sessional” is a misnomer’, says Professor Kelsey, ‘because they are not planning any more formal sessions. There will be no access for the media or stakeholders to these smaller meetings.’

‘Past inter-sessionals have been shrouded in secrecy to ensure we can’t find out what’s happening and we don’t have access to those negotiators who see value in talking with us.’

‘The last three years of the TPPA have been widely condemned for their lack of transparency. The process is now going further underground’.

That is, rather than opening up TPP in response to widening criticisms, its negotiators will now be meeting in complete secret, presumably until they emerge with some kind of a deal, however bad. Since no information will be released about those gatherings behind closed doors, and there will be no opportunities to convey concerns to the participants, the public in whose name all these talks are taking place will have no way of knowing what is going on or of offering its views. It’s the ultimate in arrogant, “we know best” negotiations where citizens are expected to accept what is given, no discussion allowed.

The last time this approach was used on this scale was for ACTA, which was ultimately rejected, largely because the European public took to the streets to express its outrage at the contempt being shown towards it by the negotiators. Interestingly, in Colombia people are already taking to the streets to protest against the effects of free trade agreements with the US, Europe and Canada, at least in part. Do the governments participating in the now-secret TPP negotiations really want to risk the same happening in their own countries?

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Colombia farmers’ uprising puts the spotlight on seeds

Against the grain | September 4, 2013

On 19 August, Colombian farmers’ organisations initiated a massive nationwide strike. They blocked roads, dumped milk on cars and basically stopped producing food for the cities. The problem? Farmers are being driven out of existence by the government’s policies.

The state provides almost no support for the small-scale farming sector.1 Instead, it embraces a social and economic model that serves the interests of a wealthy elite minority. Recent free trade agreements (FTAs) signed with the US and the EU are undercutting Colombian producers, who can’t compete with subsidised imports.2 The Colombian government has been actively promoting land grabbing by large corporations, many of them foreign (Monica Semillas from Brazil, Merhav from Israel, Cargill from the US), to promote export-oriented agribusiness at the expense of family farming oriented towards food sovereignty.

But the farming sector needs real support, especially in the form of access to land and lower costs of production, protestors argue. Otherwise, Colombian potato and coffee farmers, dairy and meat producers, not to mention small fishers, will not be able to keep up. They are being evicted and exterminated.

With their backs against the wall, a movement of mobilisation began in one part of the country in June and grew into a coordinated national action for August. The farmers’ strike was soon supported by other sectors: oil industry workers, miners, truckers, health sector professionals and others. On 29 August, ten days into the strike, more than 20,000 students joined the movement and shut down the capital city, Bogotá.

The response of the government was chaotic and contradictory. Police forces violently repressed and injured a lot of protestors, not to mention journalists. More than 250 people were arrested, including high-level union leader Hubert Jesús Ballesteros Gomez, mostly on trumped up charges.

A number of people on both sides lost their lives. At one moment the government recognised the farmers’ grievances as valid and offered some concessions. In another it claimed that the movement was infiltrated by the FARC. President Santos even went on TV and claimed that “the agrarian strike does not exist”. The following day, he was filmed from a helicopter, inspecting the skirmishes and tear gas which filled the streets of Bogotá.

The mobilisation has been extremely successful in opening up space for discussion, conscientisation, solidarity and resistance in Colombia. Students, for instance, were keen to support the farmers and back their demands. They rallied loudly against GMOs and for food sovereignty. But they also wanted to put forward their own demands for free public education, nudging the mobilisation beyond agrarian concerncs into a broader wave of social pressure to change current Colombian policies.

Law 970

Seeds emerged as one highly visible issue. Under the FTA signed with Washington, as well as that signed with Brussels, Bogotá is required to provide legal monopoly rights over seeds sold by US and European corporations as an incentive for them to invest in Colombia. Farmers who are caught selling farm-saved seeds of such varieties, or simply indigenous seeds which have not been formally registered, could face fines or even jail time.3 As is the case in many other countries throughout the world, this criminalisation of farmers’ and indigenous people’s rights to save, exchange and sell seeds puts the country’s biodiversity and cultural heritage at risk.

While it’s true that the Colombian government has been moving in this direction for many years, and agreeing to such policies as part of its membership in the Andean Community or the World Trade Organisation, many people point out that it is only since the signing of the US and EU FTAs that the government has begun seriously implementing them.

In 2011, the Colombian government authorities stormed the warehouses and trucks of rice farmers in Campoalegre, in the province of Huila, and violently destroyed 70 tonnes of rice that it said were not processed as per the law. This militarised intervention to destroy farmers’ seeds shocked many, and inspired one young Chilean activist, Victoria Solano, to make a film about it. The film is called “9.70” because that is the number of the law adopted in 2010 that articulates the state’s right to destroy farmers’ seeds if they don’t comply.4

Today, thanks to the force, tenacity and justness of the farmers’ protest, people from all walks of life in Colombia are discussing that film, as can be seen in the mass media, social networks and the streets, and asking why the government is pursuing such senseless policies.

Support the movement

There is no question that Colombian farmers can feed the country very well, in a way that provides jobs, dignity and a healthy environment. But the government is too firmly attached to an economic model that caters to crony interests and holds no place for small-scale family farming. We should all support the popular agrarian struggle in Colombia to turn that model around. It’s not too late.

As one small concrete action, the documentary film “9.70” — which you can watch online in Spanish at http://youtu.be/kZWAqS-El_g — is seeking funds to produce a version with English subtitles so that more people around the world can understand what the Colombians farmers are facing and support them to defeat such policies. The smallest contribution helps. Please go to http://idea.me/proyectos/9162/documental970 to participate. The deadline is 10 September!

As another meaningful action, the Latin American Coordination of La Via Campesina are seeking international solidarity initiatives to support the strike. Please go to http://goo.gl/9u6RXJ to learn more. Again, time is of the essence!

Beyond Colombia, the battle over similar seeds legislation is raging right now at very high political levels, and across the countryside, in Chile and Argentina as well. One concern is that some of the more aggressive elements adopted by the government of Colombia could infiltrate other Latin American countries as well. The need to scrap these laws is truly urgent indeed!

Going further:

Visit the bilaterals.org website for more coverage (in English, French and Spanish) of the general agrarian strike and the fight over Law 970

For more information about the struggles around the seed laws in Colombia, please contact Grupo Semillas (“Seeds Group”) at semillas@semillas.org.co or visit their website http://semillas.org.co/

To learn more about the political battle currently taking place in Chile, please get in touch with Anamuri, the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women, at secretariag@anamuri.cl

For information about what is happening in Argentina, please contact Diego Montón at the Latin American Coordination of La Vía Campesina, at secretaria.cloc.vc@gmail.com.

Notes

1 Almost one-third of the Colombian population lives in the countryside and nearly 60% of those in the rural areas live, to some extent, in hunger. See Paro Nacional Agrario y Popular, Pliego de peticiones.

2 The effects are just starting, but they are real. US agricultural exports to Colombia shot up 62% in the first year of the agreement, while Colombian farm exports to the US went down 15%. (See USTR, and Portafolio)

3 To be registered and certified, seeds need to meet criteria of genetic uniformity and stability, to suit agroindustrial processes. This excludes, by definition, peasant seeds — or criollo varieties, as they are called in Colombia — which tend to be diverse, adaptive and dynamic. Under the current rules in Colombia, if a farmer wants to plant criollo seeds, s/he has to get authorisation from the government, can only do it once, can only do it on five hectares or less and must consume the entire harvest at home (cannot sell it on the market).

4 See the film’s Facebook page and on Twitter look up #NoMas970. In the three years of Law 970 so far (2010-2012), the government rejected or destroyed nearly 4,000 tonnes of seeds.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt and UAE plot to topple Hamas

MEMO | September 4, 2013

A retired Egyptian general has revealed details of an Egypt-UAE plot to impose a stranglehold on the Gaza Strip and overthrow the Hamas-led government. The plot, claims General Sami Hassan, is for the Egyptian army to act, with funding from the UAE government.

“The plan is led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” tweeted Hassan. “He aims to achieve political and military gains in the coming days.”

General Hassan said that the military will impose even more restrictions on the Palestinians in Gaza, cutting all essential supplies which currently pass through the tunnels. Fuel supplies in particular are being targeted. The Gaza Strip relies on Egypt for 80 per cent of its fuel.

According to Hassan, the process has already started with a media demonisation campaign against the Palestinians and Hamas. As soon as the army creates calm in the Sinai Peninsula, he asserted, it will stir up popular demonstrations.

Al-Sisi has already met with Shaikh Hazza bin Zayed, an adviser to the UAE National Security Authority, and ex-Fatah “strongman” Mohammed Dahlan, said General Hassan. “A sum of $750 million has been allocated for the plot,” he claims, “which will involve returning Gaza to Egyptian control or handing it over to the Palestinian Authority [in Ramallah].”

The decisive meeting, he noted, lasted one and a half hours in Al-Sisi’s office. The following objectives were agreed upon:

  • Sinai will be “cleansed” of militant groups and nomadic tribes on the border with Gaza will be disarmed.
  • A drone base will be established by Egypt in Sinai under international supervision. Air strikes will be launched against the “global jihadist movement”.
  • All tunnels between Gaza and Egypt will be closed, and Egypt will cut off all essential supplies going to Gaza.
  • Electricity supplies from Egypt to Gaza will be cut off altogether.
  • An agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Israel will be reactivated with the return of international observers to the Rafah Border Crossing.
  • Hamas will be toppled and the Gaza Strip will be returned to President Mahmoud Abbas’s control.
  • Power in Gaza will handed over to the PA or people in the UAE’s pay and control, such as Dahlan.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brazil to probe telecom companies implicated in NSA spying

RT | September 4, 2013

Brazil will probe telecommunications companies to see if they illegally shared data with the NSA after it was found the US had been spying on President Rousseff. Brazil’s government has accused the US of lying about the NSA’s activities in the country.

In response to the revelations, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called an emergency meeting of ministers. Following the meeting the government called on the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) to carry out checks on telecom companies based in Brazil to see if they collaborated with the NSA.

The Brazilian government denounced the NSA’s activities as “impermissible and unacceptable” and a violation of Brazilian sovereignty.

“[The US has] not given any reasonable explanations. In fact, all the explanations that have been given so far are false,” said Minister of Communications Paulo Bernardo.

The American ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, was summoned by the government to account for the reports of NSA snooping on Tuesday. He claimed the NSA does not monitor communications on Brazilian territory or collaborate with telecommunications companies.

Citing data leaked by Edward Snowden, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed on Sunday that the NSA had been monitoring both the Brazilian and Mexican presidents.

“It is clear in several ways that [Rousseff’s] communications were intercepted, including the use of DNI Presenter, which is a program used by NSA to open and read emails and online chats,” Greenwald told AP in an email.

Brazilian-US relations on rocks

In the wake of the new scandal Brazilian media is speculating whether the spy revelations will lead to a knee-jerk reaction from the Brazilian government and the cancelation of Dilma’s October visit to the States.

Citing a presidential spokesperson, Globo reporter Gerson Camarotti wrote that if a “satisfactory explanation” is not given by the Americans then Dilma “will not rule out canceling the visit.”

“There has to be a convincing explanation. If this doesn’t happen, the situation will become extremely delicate,” said the spokesperson.

US relations with Brazil have worsened considerably as a result of Edward Snowden’s leaks regarding the NSA’s massive spy network. Back in August, UK authorities detained Brazilian citizen David Miranda in a London airport over suspicions he was carrying leaked NSA data on behalf of his partner Glen Greenwald. UK law enforcement held Miranda for nine hours under the terrorist act and confiscated electronic equipment.

Brazil called Miranda’s detention without charges unjustifiable and called on the UK authorities to account for the move. Meanwhile Brazilian lawmakers have called for police protection for Greenwald and his partner.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brazilian lawmakers call for police protection of Glenn Greenwald and his partner

RT | September 4, 2013

Lawmakers in Brazil have asked that American journalist Glenn Greenwald and his partner David Miranda receive protection from federal police, due to the importance of their testimony regarding an ongoing investigation of US spying practices.

On Tuesday, the Brazilian Senate began an official investigation into allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been surveilling the country and even intercepted personal emails sent by President Dilma Rousseff.

Greenwald first broke the news of allegations that the NSA had been tapping Brazil’s communications several weeks ago, but a Sunday report aired on Globo TV made more pointed accusations that the Brazilian head of state had been targeted.

The American journalist’s reports of alleged NSA spying operations on South America – based on leaks provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden – have been making headlines in Brazil, based in large part on Greenwald’s column with O Globo newspaper.

Sunday’s revelations seemed to be a direct result of the extended detention of Miranda at London’s Heathrow Airport in mid-August. Miranda, a Brazilian national who lives in Rio de Janeiro with Greenwald, was held by officers for nine hours. His electronic equipment was confiscated by authorities. Believing the incident was an attempt at intimidation, Greenwald then indicated that his reporting on Snowden’s leaks would only pick up pace.

In a separate incident in July, Greenwald told media that he believed his home had been broken into and a laptop stolen after he contacted Miranda telling him to expect emailed NSA documents.

The fresh allegations of NSA spying have brought into question president Rousseff’s scheduled state visit to the US in October. Brazil has officially requested an explanation on the new reports by the end of the week, saying that Rousseff’s decision on whether or not to visit Washington will be based on that response.

According to AP, Government security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez confirmed on Tuesday that Brazil’s foreign ministry had contacted the US and requested an “in-depth investigation into the matter.”

During its first meeting on the NSA scandal, Brazil’s Parliamentary Inquiry Commission approved an application for police protection of Greenwald and Miranda.

A member of the committee, Senator Pedro Taques, decried allegations of spying on the country’s leadership.

“There’s been an attempt, not only against our national laws that involve the immunity and safety of our head of state, but other people as well,” he told reporters.

The new report provided by Greenwald also alleges that the NSA targeted Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, monitoring his communications prior to the country’s July 2012 election.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pro-Israel groups back US military action against Syria

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Barack Obama greets board members of the AIPAC conference following his speech to the group in 2012
Press TV – September 4, 2013

Three influential pro-Israel pressure groups in the United States pressed Congress on Tuesday to authorize an attack on Syria.

Signaling an increased lobbying effort for American military action, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) issued statements that they support US military intervention in Syria, Reuters reported.

The groups also had a 45-minute meeting at the White House on Tuesday with administration officials, according to government sources. But they have been careful as not to be seen encouraging Washington to go to war for the sake of Israel’s interest.

The lobby groups generally wanted the war debate to focus on US national security rather than how the decision to attack Syria might help Israel.

The Israel lobby is a diverse coalition of individuals and groups that seek to influence the foreign policy of the United States in support of Israel. Commentators in the US have asserted that the lobby has undue or pervasive influence over US foreign policy in the Middle East.

US President Barack Obama and some members in Congress want to attack Syria over recent accusations that the Arab country used chemical weapons against militants. Syrian authorities have categorically rejected the allegation that it had any role in the chemical attack.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian defense official warns Israel on missile launch in Mediterranean

Press TV – September 4, 2013

A top Russian defense official has warned the Israeli regime against “playing with arms and missiles” in a volatile region after it admitted to firing ballistic projectiles in the Mediterranean Sea without a prior warning.

Underscoring the current volatility of the Mediterranean and the massive arms build-up in the region, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told journalists on Tuesday “I don’t completely understand how someone could play with arms and missiles in that region today.”

Although the Russian official did not mention the Zionist regime by name, his remarks came hours after Israeli officials admitted to firing “ballistic targets” that resembled missiles in the growingly tense region, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday.

“The Mediterranean is a powder keg,” Antonov emphasized. “A match is enough for fire to break out and possibly spread not only to neighboring states but to other world regions as well. I remind you that the Mediterranean is close to the borders of the Russian Federation.”

He further recalled that a meteorological rocket launch by Norway in 1995 was mistaken as a possible rocket attack against Russia.

The Russian then called on “those who launched the so-called missile-like targets” to be more responsible for regional security and “not play with fire,” according to the report.

After the Russian military detected the firing of two ballistic projectiles on Tuesday, the Israeli military announced that it launched the missiles as part of a joint effort with the US to “test” its missile defense system.

Russia, meanwhile, placed its General Staff’s Central Command Center on high alert following the two Israeli launches, the report noted, citing remarks by Antonov.

According to a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Russia detected the missile launch by radar at 10:16 a.m. Moscow time (6:16 a.m. GMT) in the southern Russian city of Armavir.

This is while Israeli military officials claimed in a statement that the first test of the latest version of the so-called Sparrow target missile had been successful, with the missile following its planned trajectory toward the Israeli coast and the Arrow radar system detecting and tracking its path.

However, a military spokeswoman for the regime, Myriam Nahon, declined to address questions on whether the test had been connected to the current state of affairs in Syria, saying only that such tests are “conducted periodically,” and “it happens whenever it has to happen.”

In Washington meanwhile, the Pentagon further issued a statement, admitting to its role in providing technical assistance and support to the Zionist regime for the so-called Sparrow test launch.

The development comes as US President Barack Obama has vowed to wage unilateral military action against the Syrian nation without a UN mandate, citing its accusation, based on “classified information,” that the Syrian government was behind a recent chemical attack in the nation.

Damascus, however, has fiercely denied the allegation, insisting that the foreign-backed militants in the country launched the chemical attack.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

The Israel Lobby and the Organized Jewish Community Want Regime Change in Syria

By Kevin MacDonald | Occidental Observer | September 1, 2013

President Obama is now saying his administration has decided to attack Syria but will seek Congressional approval before doing so. This sets up a really interesting situation if Congress doesn’t agree, as seems quite possible.

The idea of Obama ordering an act of war on Syria without significant international support and without a Congressional mandate always was a head scratcher. Here’s our far left president advocating yet another war in the Middle East after opposing the Iraq war when he was a senator. The same president who has a frosty relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu and has repeatedly fallen short of the demands of the Israel Lobby.

Of course the rationale is framed in moral terms—like all American wars, but there was more than a touch of that in the run-up to the Iraq war as well. Here the case for the hawks is made more difficult because the WMD story turned out to be false. Lest we forget, this story was manufactured by strongly identified ethnically Jewish, pro-Israel operatives linked to the Office of Special Plans in the Department of Defense, including Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Abraham Shulsky, Elliott Abrams, David Wurmser, Michael Ledeen, David Schencker, and Michael Rubin, with the close cooperation of Israeli intelligence (see here, p. 47ff).

The Weekly Standard’s usual neocon suspects — including many of the same people who promoted for the Iraq war — are pressing for a very large U.S. involvement in Syria. It’s mind-boggling to read in the statement of these so-called “experts” that the president must act “to ensure that Assad’s chemical weapons no longer threaten America.” Shades of how Iraq under Saddam Hussein was going to destroy the U.S. with his WMD’s. How Assad is going to unleash his chemical weapons on America is anybody’s guess.

Given the strong support of the neocons for action against Syria, we must assume that Israel is entirely on board with a U.S. campaign. So it’s not surprising that, as in the case of the run-up to the Iraq war, Israeli intelligence is front and center: “The bulk of evidence proving the Assad regime’s deployment of chemical weapons – which would provide legal grounds essential to justify any western military action – has been provided by Israeli military intelligence, the German magazine Focus has reported” (see here). This includes the much-discussed intercepted phone call between Syrian officers discussing the use of chemical weapons (Ibid.) and the claim that chemical weapons were moved to the site of the attack (see here).

I am unaware of evidence for a heavy involvement of Israel Lobby operatives on the U.S. side responsible for verifying this intelligence, as was the case when the Israel Lobby manufactured the rationale for the Iraq disaster — doubtless the most treasonous and corrupt such episode in American history. Nevertheless, one would have to be naive indeed not to be suspicious of Israeli involvement.

As many have noted, it would make no sense for Assad to unleash chemical weapons in a conflict he was winning; no point in killing women and children; no point in attacking just as UN investigators arrived in Syria; no point in incurring the wrath of the U.S. moralizers by crossing Obama’s idiotic red line — idiotic because it is an open invitation to a false flag operation carried out by the opponents of the  Assad regime.

Uri Avnery claims that “practically all Israeli political and military leaders” want the Syrian civil war to “go on forever.” The other obvious motive for Israel and its fifth column in the U.S. is to strike a blow against Iran, as many have noted. The anti-Iran motive is front and center at the AIPAC website (“Syria proves Urgency to Stop Iran“). This article assumes as true that Assad did use chemical weapons:

The use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime highlights the danger of allowing the world’s most dangerous regimes to possess weapons of mass destruction. As Israel prepares its citizens for the possible ramifications of a chemical attack from Syria, the United States must consider potentially catastrophic ramifications if Iran, who is actively backing Assad, acquires a nuclear weapons capability. … We cannot allow Assad to operate with the support of his greatest ally in Tehran backed by a nuclear weapons capability. The Islamic Republic is already expanding its influence throughout the region, moving military equipment and resources into Syria and Lebanon.

In a statement from June, 2013, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, like AIPAC, emphasizes the implications of failure to act in Syria for the larger question of Iran:

Rather than deterring Syria or Iran from using or pursuing illicit weapons, the administration’s red lines appear to be eroding U.S. credibility and national security. The lesson learned from Syria is that preventing a nuclear Iran will require an actionable and verifiable red line. This should include a credible mechanism for assessing Iran’s progress toward the red line and warning of its crossing.

The ADL statement engages in double talk on who is responsible for using chemical weapons (“Use of chemical weapons in Syria ‘an immoral crime of the first order‘”).  On one hand, it states that the attack was performed “reportedly by the Syrian government.” On the other hand, Abe Foxman clearly blames the Syrian government for “the horrific events of last week,” a claim that goes much further. And as usual, the Holocaust is invoked as establishing a special Jewish moral posture useful for achieving Jewish interests:

For more than two years, the world has been witness to President Bashar al-Assad’s slaughtering of his own citizens. Following the horrific events of last week there is no longer any doubt about the brutal and evil nature of Assad and his regime.

We welcome Secretary Kerry’s clear statement of condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the U.S. commitment to work with allies to ensure those responsible are held accountable. The world failed to act during the Holocaust and stood by through the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda.  It is a moral imperative that the international community act now to prevent further atrocities in Syria.

From Foxman’s perspective, it’s hard to see how “preventing further atrocities” could happen short of regime change.

Clearly, the organized Jewish community will not be satisfied with a mere gesture against Assad, but wants something in the general vicinity of regime change. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has numerous articles with the message that a U.S. attack needs to be linked to strategic goals. An article by Michael Makovsky and Blaise Misztal advocates an “asymmetrical” response in which the U.S. would cause far more damage to Syria than caused by the chemical weapons attack: “if Washington orders an operation against the Assad regime, it should not hold back from breaking a few eggs on the way into Syria to ensure easier access in the future. This approach would send a credible and menacing message to the regime to amend its behavior or face further strikes.”

Also on the WINEP site, Robert Satloff (one of the most despicable neocons) makes a ridiculous case that regime change in Syria is in American interests:

Given the strategic stakes at play in Syria, which touches on every key American interest in the region, the wiser course of action is to take the opportunity of the Assad regime’s flagrant violation of global norms to take action that hastens the end of Assad’s regime. Contrary to the views of American military leaders, this will also enhance the credibility of the president’s commitment to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability, not erode America’s ability to enforce it.

Likewise, neocons like Charles Krauthammer (also high on the list of most despicable neocons) want the U.S. campaign to change the balance of power — “a sustained campaign aimed at changing the balance of forces by removing the Syrian regime’s decisive military advantage — air power.”  What the neocons don’t want is a brief attack that serves little more than to show U.S. displeasure, leaves Assad in power, and doesn’t change the military situation

So from the Israeli and (what is the same) the neocon point of view, it’s win-win. A serious U.S. intervention would minimally prolong a war that Assad is winning, weakening Syria and Hezbollah far into the future. And perhaps it could lead to the fall of Assad and a Sunni government severed from Iran. Iran and its allies are seen as a far more dangerous enemy of Israel than the Arab nations and the mainly Sunni rebels opposing the Assad government, no matter how fanatically Muslim, Israel-hating, and in bed with al Qaeda they turn out to be.

The decision by Obama to consult with Congress may actually benefit the Israel Lobby because it could quite possibly provide a mandate for much more than a brief attack that is little more than a gesture—like Bill Clinton lobbing a few cruise missiles into Afghanistan to protest the bombing of American embassies in Africa. Without a congressional mandate and without support from the U.K., Obama would have been unlikely to carry out the sort of attack desired by the Lobby. Now there’s a chance.

The delay provides an opportunity for the Israel Lobby to get into high gear in order to bump up the poll numbers and exert its power over Congress. At this time, there is clearly no popular mandate for a war; only 42% favor a “broad military response”, and only 16% favor the regime change desired by the Israel Lobby. A much higher percentage but still far from a mandate (50%) favor the sort of action detested by the Israel Lobby — a  limited response involving only U.S. naval ships directed at the chemical weapons.

Congressional approval is also iffy. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) has stated that the odds are “50/50″ that the House will approve force, but that the Senate will “rubber stamp what [Obama] wants.” Others believe that even the Senate will be an “uphill battle.”

So the Israel Lobby has a challenge ahead, but it’s certainly doable. Expect a blizzard of propaganda emanating from the most elite media in the U.S., and a lot of arm-twisting in Congress. The Israel Lobby sees this as a preliminary battle prior to the really serious campaign for a war with Iran. If the Lobby loses this test, it would be a clear indication that the U.S. lacks the determination to attack Iran.

The pressure will be intense. Don’t bet against the Lobby.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment