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Iran Nuclear Weapons Claims Still Need Correcting

By Peter Hart | FAIR | September 23, 2013

Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani

Yesterday in USA Today (9/22/13), Aamer Madhani wrote this about the challenges facing Barack Obama:

The president is also trying to take advantage of a diplomatic opening–created by the installation of a new, more moderate president in Iran–to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

As you might know by now, this is misleading; Iran is suspected by some governments of having a nuclear weapons program, but there is no solid intelligence that such a program exists.

USA Today made a similar claim a few months ago; when FAIR activists wrote to the paper, it eventually got around to issuing a correction. But good luck figuring that out; the paper had originally claimed that new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was “known for his negotiating skill over the country’s nuclear weapons program.” The paper’s correction read:

A June 17 story on Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani misstated his previous position. He was a negotiator over Iran’s nuclear program.

There’s basically no chance that any reader of the paper would have been able to know what was being corrected. But if the paper is actually interested in accuracy, they might want to run another correction.

Bob Schieffer (photo: CSIS)

Bob Schieffer (photo: CSIS)

They’re not the only ones who should consider clarifying the record. Here’s CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer (9/22/13):

Rouhani says that Iran does not want and is not pursuing a nuclear weapon. Does anybody take that at face value?

Actually, the burden of proof should be the other way around: Politicians who claim that Iran has such a program should have to prove it. Schieffer obviously doesn’t see the world that way. He’s interviewed people like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and failed to  challenge their claims about Iran’s weapons. Indeed, Schieffer presented them as facts, telling viewers about Iran’s “continuing effort to build a nuclear weapon” (FAIR Blog, 7/15/13).

So Schieffer is indeed skeptical of government claims. Iran‘s government, that is.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Syria Chemical Weapons Attack: Human Rights Watch is Manipulating the Facts

By Richard Lightbown | Global Research | September 24, 2013

On 21 August 2013 a series of chemical attacks were perpetrated in the Ghouta suburbs of eastern Damascus. Sources say that between 281 and 1,729 civilians were killed, while Medecins Sans Frontiers reported around 3,600 were injured in the attacks. [1] On the same day UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon instructed the UN Mission already in Syria to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Khan al-Asal, Sheik Maqsoos and Saraqueb to focus their efforts on the Ghouta allegations. [2]

Before the UN Mission had reported its preliminary findings, Human Rights Watch (HRW) jumped the gun on 10 September with its own report written by Peter Bouckaert, the organisation’s Emergencies Director. [3]

The report admits that HRW did not have physical access to the site and had based its study on Skype interviews with ‘More than 10 witnesses and survivors’ made over a period of two weeks between 22 August and 6 September. These were supplemented by video and photo footage and other data from an unnamed source or sources. It is unclear then, exactly how many exposed survivors were interviewed by HRW or who the other witnesses were.

In compiling the report HRW had also drawn on the technical services of Keith B. Ward Ph.D., an expert on the detection and effects of chemical warfare agents. However the organisation did not disclose that Dr Ward is employed by Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States government. [4] The HRW investigation was also ‘assisted by arms experts including Nic Jenzen-Jones […] as well as Eliot Higgins […] who collected and analysed photos and videos from the attacks.’ [5]

Mr Jenzen-Jones’s LinkedIn profile does not list any training or experience with armaments, and his only qualifications appear to be ‘certified armourer and ammunition collector’ – which probably relates to the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition control) Act 2012 of the state of New South Wales, Australia. [6] In reports on the story on his own blog ‘The Rogue Adventurer’, Mr Jenzen-Jones relies on data taken uncritically from sources such as the New York Times and even a Los Angeles Times article based on Israeli intelligence [7] Apparently he is not familiar with Israeli falsified reports such as the alleged use of guns by passengers on the Mavi Marmara against Israeli commandos (which remain uncorroborated despite Israeli forces seizing virtually all photographic data from the more than 600 passengers, along with film from security cameras located throughout the ship and Israel’s own constant infra-red surveillance from boats on both sides of the ship and from at least two aircraft). As former CIA director Stansfield Turner is reputed to have said, Mossad excels in PR, and not in intelligence. [8]

HRW’s other expert, Eliot Higgins is an untrained analyst who was recently talked-up into some kind of expert by Matthew Weaver in the Guardian. [9] On his Brown Moses Blog of 28 August 2013 Mr Higgins featured a video sent to him by a source allegedly showing the type of munition linked to the chemical attacks being fired close to Al-Mezzah Airport near Daraya. The video has been filmed at some distance and none of the upwards of 20 men roaming around the site can be clearly seen. An unmarked Mercedes semi-trailer lorry apparently delivers the rocket which is loaded (this is not seen) onto an unmarked white rigid lorry on which the launcher is mounted. The men aimlessly roaming around are mostly wearing army fatigues, although others, including some on the launcher, are in civilian clothes. A number of those in military uniform are wearing red berets. Based solely on this headgear, and the fact that the Syrian Republic Guard as well as the military police are issued with red berets, Mr Higgins is emboldened to state that ‘…this video shows the munition being used by the government forces […].[10]

Stills taken from the video analysed by Eliot Higgins. Mr Higgins has deduced that this is a Syrian Army operation entirely from the red berets worn by some of the personnel. The rocket shown can also carry conventional explosives.

In a previous posting on 26 August, Mr Higgins estimated from shadows that a rocket shown in photographs between Zamalka and Ein Tarma had been fired from north of the site, and he set about trying to locate the launch site with the help of correspondents. Hoping to find the exact location, he speculated that the 155th Brigade missile base was a possible site for the crime. [11] This line of investigation quietly disappeared after the UN Mission reported that the missile they had examined at Zamalka/Ein Tarma was pointing precisely in a bearing of 285 degrees, i.e. nearer west than north. [12]

Meanwhile Mr Bouckaert in his report two weeks later reported that two of his witnesses told HRW that the rockets came from the direction of the Mezzeh Military Airport. [13] These accounts also became inconvenient later when, as we shall see, HRW seized on the azimuths provided by the UN Mission and dashed off on a new wild goose chase. Apparently HRW now considered that nearly 20 per cent of the ‘witnesses and survivors’ it had interviewed were no longer credible regarding the direction of the rockets.

Nevertheless on page 1 of his report Mr Bouckaert felt confident enough to declare,

Based on the available evidence, Human Rights Watch finds that Syrian government forces were almost certainly responsible for the August 21 attacks, and that a weapons-grade nerve agent was delivered during the attack using specially designed rocket delivery systems.

The ‘evidence’ produced on p20 of the report amounts to nothing more than supposition. Mr Bouckaert merely states his scepticism that the rebels could have fired surface-to-surface rockets at two different locations in the Damascus suburbs; he asserts that the types of rockets thought to have been used are not reported to be in possession of the opposition nor is there any footage showing that they have mobile launchers suitable; and he states that the large amounts of dangerous nerve agent would require sophisticated techniques beyond the capabilities of the rebels. No actual evidence is cited to show that this weaponry is Syrian Army equipment. On the contrary the Soviet 140 mm rocket referred to on p15 requires a BM-14 rocket launcher, first produced in the late 1940s.

The Syrian Army equipment list produced by Global Security shows none of this obsolete weaponry in stock but instead lists around 300 of the BM-21 launcher which replaced it. The BM-21 launches a 122mm rocket, so the Army would be unable to fire the 140mm rocket that rebels found and the UN Mission inspected at Moadamiyah. [14] [15] Mr Bouckaert might also recall that Israel has a common border to Syria and is known to have stocks of sarin amongst the vast collection of illegal chemical and biological weaponry amassed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) at Nes Ziona. [16] YouTube videos also show Syrian rebels in possession of mobile rocket launchers. [17] HRW really did assemble a Mickey Mouse team of researchers when they cobbled together this report.

Nevertheless HRW’s reputation and distribution ensured that their allegation was distributed by agencies such as the Associated Press [18] and reported by outlets which included the BBC [19], CBS [20], New York Post [21] and other international media such as the Tasmanian newspaper The Examiner [22] and the Jakarta Post [23]. None of these outlets questioned the veracity of this very serious allegation against the Syrian Army.

On 11 September, a day after the HRW report was published, the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria published its unique and important analysis of documentation nominated by US intelligence. [24] Having carefully and thoughtfully analysed the data, including a number of images also published in the Bouckaert report, the study discovered not only widespread manipulation of evidence, but in the tradition of BBC reporting in Syria, [25] they also discovered that photographs of victims in Cairo had been described as victims of a chemical attack in Syria. This preliminary study concludes that there has been gross media manipulation and calls for an independent and unbiased International Commission to identify the children who were killed and try to find the truth of the case. This writer has not seen any HRW document which refers to the ISTEAMS study.

The UN Mission report was published six days after the Bouckaert report on 16 September. This disclosed that the Mission had been allowed a total of only seven-and-a-half hours on-site in the two suburbs which are both located in opposition-controlled areas. During that period they had experienced repeated threats of harm and one actual attack by an unidentified sniper on 26 August. [26] Nevertheless they had collected samples and ‘a considerable amount of information’ along with ‘primary statements from more than fifty exposed survivors including patients, health workers and first-responders.’ In fact the statements had been taken in interviews with nine nurses, seven doctors and 36 survivors. [27] The Mission concluded that there was ‘definitive evidence of exposure to Sarin by a large proportion of the survivors assessed’ [28] and it stated that it had been informed that victims began suffering effects following an artillery barrage on 21 August 2013. All interviews, sampling and documentation followed procedures developed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organisation.

The report states that ‘several surface to surface rockets capable of delivering significant chemical payloads were identified and recorded at the investigated sites’ but only five impact sites in total were investigated by the Mission (presumably because of the time constraints imposed on them by those who controlled the areas).

The UN report is not without its contradictions. In a summary in their Letter of Transmittal the authors wrote ‘In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples, we have collected, provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Zamalka…’.

And yet none of the 13 environmental samples taken from Moadamiyah were found to have any traces of sarin, although one of the two laboratories conducting the analyses found degradation products of sarin in four of the thirteen samples while a further sample was found to contain degradation products by the other lab. Although two of the samples were unspecified metal fragments, none of the samples was specifically described as being part of a rocket. [29] Does the discovery of degradation products in 38 per cent of the samples (and only 23 per cent of the tests) along with a complete absence of the chemical agent itself constitute ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that Moadamiyah was attacked by surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin?

Most important however are the two caveats included in the report. On p 18 the inspectors wrote concerning the Moadamiyah site.

The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.

Similar tampering of the evidence was noted at the other site as the report notes on p22

During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.

HRW was quick to seize on the UN report to substantiate its own allegations, although some adjustments were now necessary to get their allegations to dovetail neatly into the report’s findings. On 17 September Josh Lyons used the azimuths cited for the rockets in Appendix 5 of the Mission report  to produce a cross reference which suggested that the military base of the Republican Guard 104th Brigade had been the launch site for the chemical weapons. [30] (Mr Lyons called this ‘Connecting the dots’. By coincidence, when referring to the Sellström Report on 19 September, John Kerry  said ‘But anybody who reads the facts and puts the dots together, which is easy to do, and they made it easy to do, understands what those facts mean.’? [31] ‘Facts’ can mean anything if distorted enough, Mr Kerry.)

Once again no supporting evidence was provided to explain why HRW blames the Syrian Army, and all previous locations suggested for the launch were conveniently forgotten. To recap, Peter Bouckaert reported two witness statements that the rockets came from the direction of the Mezzeh Military Airport (more than 6 kilometres from the Republican Guard base) and HRW’s ‘expert’ Eliot Higgins was convinced that they were fired from north of the target sites.

To make his case Mr Lyons is being dishonest. Referring to unspecified ‘declassified reference guides’ he tells us that the 140mm artillery rocket could have reached Moadamiya, 9.5Km from the Republican Guard’s base. Yet even if a seventy-year old rocket system could indeed fly that far, Mr Lyons is forgetting that the Syrian Army no longer has these outdated systems. It therefore no longer has 140mm rockets, one of which is alleged to have been responsible for part of this crime against humanity. He is also forgetting that no actual chemical agent was found at Moadamiya, so it is premature to start producing cross references from that site. And above all he is deliberately omitting to tell his readers about the caveats written for both target sites by the UN inspectors that clearly and unequivocally suggest that the evidence has been tampered with at both sites which are located in opposition-controlled areas.

None of these inconvenient truths have stopped the HRW juggernaut. On 20 September the Guardian published an article by HRW staffer Sarah Margon promoting both the Bouckaert report and the Lyons’ calculations (apparently unaware of the contradiction between the two). She ended up by calling for an Obama/Kerry commitment to ensure there is ‘accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people’. [32] But of course she was not writing about Fellujah or Gaza or the IIBR at Nes Ziona.

Notes

[1]  Wikipedia; Ghouta chemical attacks.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghouta_chemical_attacks (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[2]       Sellström, Åke. et al., 13 September 2013; United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic – Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013; United Nations; para 15, p3.

http://www.un.org/disarmament/content/slideshow/Secretary_General_Report_of_CW_Investigation.pdf

[3]       Bouckaert, Peter,  10 September 2013; Attacks on Ghouta, Analysis of Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria; Human Rights Watch. http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria_cw0913_web_1.pdf

[4]        http://www.docstoc.com/docs/24131911/Notes-from-Department-of-Homeland-Security-HSARPA-Best-Practices (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[5]          Attacks on Ghouta; op.cit. pp. 1 and 2.

[6]          http://au.linkedin.com/in/nrjenzenjones (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[7]          http://rogueadventurer.com/2013/08/29/alleged-cw-munitions-in-syria-fired-from-iranian-falaq-2-type-launchers/ (Accessed 22 September   2013)

[8]          AbuKhalil, As’ad, 7 September 2011; The Mossad in Hollywood Movies; alakhbar English. http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/530 (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[9]          Weaver, Matthew, 21 March 2013; How Brown Moses exposed Syrian arms trafficking from his front room; The Guardian.    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/21/frontroom-blogger-analyses-weapons-syria-frontline (Accessed 21 September 2013)

[10]        http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-smoking-gun-video-shows-assads.html (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[11]        http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/finding-exact-location-of-alleged.html       (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[12]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  p23.

[13]        Attacks on Ghouta; op.cit., p6.

[14]        http://weaponsystems.net/weapon.php?weapon=DD05%20-%20BM-14  (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[15]        http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/syria/army-equipment.htm  (Accessed 23 September 2013)

[16]        Abu-Sitta, Salman; Traces of poison; Al-Ahram 27Feb – 5 March 2003, Issue No. 627.

[17]        For example  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKoYg9xEGMs, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JEElw-ea5k, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6w68OqA4HM   (h/t timbercrown)

[18]        http://nypost.com/2013/09/10/human-rights-watch-condemns-assad-for-alleged-chemical-attack/ (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[19]        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23927399 (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[20]        http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57602150/human-rights-watch-says-evidence-strongly-suggests-assad-used-chemical-weapons/ (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[21]        http://nypost.com/2013/09/10/human-rights-watch-condemns-assad-for-alleged-chemical-attack/ (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[22]        http://www.examiner.com.au/story/1768398/syrian-government-forces-almost-certainly-responsible-for-chemical-attacks-human-rights-watch-report/ (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[23]        http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/09/10/rights-group-syrian-regime-behind-chemical-attack.html (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[24]        Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, 11 September 2013; THE CHEMICAL ATTACKS ON EAST GHOUTA TO JUSTIFY MILITARY RIGHT TO PROTECT INTERVENTION IN SYRIA; ISTEAMS. http://www.globalresearch.ca/STUDY_THE_VIDEOS_THAT_SPEAKS_ABOUT_CHEMICALS_BETA_VERSION.pdf

[25]        Lightbown, Richard, 18 June 2012; Syria: Media Lies, Hidden Agendas and Strange Alliances; Global Research.   http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-media-lies-hidden-agendas-and-strange-alliances/31491

[26]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  para 18.

[27]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  paras. 18, 19 and 21, Appendix 7.

[28]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  p17.

[29]        Sellström, Åke. et al.;  pp. 24/5 and 27-29.

[30]        Lyons, Josh, 17 September 2013 ; Dispatches : Mapping the Sarin Flight Path; Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/09/17/dispatches-mapping-sarin-flight-path (Accessed 21 September 2013)

[31]        Kerry: U.N. report confirms Assad responsible for chemical attack http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50155432n (Accessed 22 September 2013)

[32]        Margon, Sarah, 20 September 2013; The sarin gas attack is just one Syrian atrocity the ICC should pursue’; The Guardian.   http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/20/sarin-gas-syria-icc (Accessed 22 September 2013)

Richard Lightbown is a researcher and occasional writer on human rights issues, particularly relating to the Middle East.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

AL-KHALIL: Settlers re-occupy Abu Rajib house

CPTnet | September 24, 2013

On 23 September 2013, in response to the death of Israeli soldier Staff Sgt. Gal Kobi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for illegal settlement expansion in the Old City of Hebron.

At 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday 24 September, the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron received reports from the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee that Israeli settlers had re-occupied the Abu Rajib house west of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Settlers had been evicted from the building in April of 2012.

The resettlement of the Abu Rajib house is a direct and significant risk to the community of Hebron, international law, and human rights, as settlements are illegal under international law and impede the ongoing peace process.

In addition to the illegality of the settlement, the location of Abu Rajib will constitute a severe threat to the freedom of movement for Palestinians. The house sits between two Palestinian Schools and Israeli military checkpoint 209, which CPT monitors every morning as part of its school patrol. If the settlement remains, it will be in the middle of an area hundreds of Palestinian children must pass each morning to attend classes.

Over the past week of the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, the Israeli military has increased its presence with additional soldiers on the ground, occupying Palestinian homes and turning them into military outposts in and around the area of the Abu Rajib house. As a result, school attendance at Al-Faihaa girl’s school and Al-Ibrahimmiye has dropped.

On Monday, 23 September, the Al-Faihaa girl’s school was shut down completely since so few students were able to attend classes. The added Israeli military presence installed around the settlement will continue this trend.

Israeli settlement expansion has led to several cases of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, including near the settlement of Tel Rumeida.

“For the residents of Tel Rumeida, living next to settlers means living under constant threat of attack,” said a representative from the human rights observer organization, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). “The Abu Shamsiyeh family who live in Tel Rumeida is particularly vulnerable to attacks, as settlers and Jewish tourists tend to enter their roof and even invade their garden without permission. Most use this private Palestinian roof to enjoy the view of the city, but incidents have occurred where settlers threw stones and garbage down at the family, urinating into their garden and verbally harassing the family.

“Last month, settler youth entered the family’s garden, threw stones at them, and beat their thirteen-year old son. When Abu Shamsiyeh asked the soldier stationed outside their house for help, he came down and watched as settlers kicked Abu Shamsiyeh, and another soldier pushed his wife, who was videoing the incident, to the ground.”

If the Abu Rajib settlement is allowed to stay, in breach of international law and during the ongoing peace negotiations, the rise in settler violence against Palestinian youth and adults will escalate.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What does the Syrian chemical disarmament deal mean?

By Zaher Mahruqi | Press TV | September 24, 2013

Bashar’s acceptance to let go of his “Nukes of the poor” arsenal could mean that the Syrian government has assessed the potential outcome of an American sustained offensive to be a game changer and desperately agreed to any way out.

Handing over chemical weapons in a gradual more controlled manner would have been understandable but giving up the location of the chemical sites with such immediacy hints to a much weakened Syrian position. It is no secret that the details given to the UN will eventually end up in Israeli hands, then why would the Syrian government accept such a deal other than Assad’s real fear of loosening his grip on power?

Netanyahu’s remarks following the chemical handover deal that “negotiating with Syria and Iran with a real and present threat to use force is the only way to make them cooperate” suggests that Syria’s president is indeed at the mode of fighting for survival. But that too is too simplistic provided that, surrendering chemical weapons or not, the US is sure to pursue him to the very bitter end. Then why give up such a strong deterrent?

The fact of the matter is that Bashar al-Assad is an intelligent man who at the very least understands that betraying Russia and Iran, who have been supporting his efforts in the past two years, would be a serious mistake. Therefore, any big decision Syria makes has to have been consulted with its main backers and has been given some sort of guarantees that giving up chemical weapons is not as risky as it might appear and that a credible backup plan is in place.

Smartly, Syria is giving both the US and Russia a face saving mechanism to avoid any further escalation between the two super powers and at the same time it is buying crucial time. Bashar himself declared that at least one full year is required to clear Syria of chemical weapons.

For Syria, chemical weapons are much harder to dispose of than replenish because Syria’s allies have stockpiles upon stockpiles of them. And so if the US chooses to change course somewhere during the period of chemical disarmament and attacks Syria, the very scenario that has been averted would be quickly reintroduced.

One ship full of chemical weapons is all that is required to rearm Syria, after all the main target of such weapons is a country the size of a province; Israel. Moreover, the Iranian and Hezbollah threat of intervening by attacking Israel will not be changed by simply handing over the chemical weapons.

Of course, the decision to hand over the weapons which buys the Syrian government crucial time is unwelcome by the “saboteur” of the region, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The real danger for them is that this could actually lead to further weakening of the Syrian opposition and force them unto Geneva peace talks; talks which have just been strengthened by Syria’s agreement to declare its chemical arsenal.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia know well that their stances on Syria in the past two years makes it impossible for relations with Bashar’s Syria to normalize or even a negotiated Syria where opposition participates in governance.

Regardless of Turkish and Saudi stances, the US administration and Israel had strong interests in making sure that a war is averted in some way. Had the US congress vote gone ahead and disapproved of any attack on Syria in order to fulfill the wishes of the American people, it would have been a huge blow to them.

For Obama, it would have meant being stripped of legitimacy as it relates to Syria and wider international engagements and for Israel it would have meant the weakening of the Zionist lobby within US politics and a disastrous counter attack from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Bashar’s objectives to consolidate alliances and weaken the counter alliance and buying time have all been thus far satisfied. The one year disarmament period that Bashar suggested will be needed is no speculation at all; it is well calculated period during which time to weaken the opposition and its supporters and to deny the US and her allies any legitimate pretext to attack Syria.

Moreover, if Iran and Hezbollah felt justified to intervene early on, now any attack from the US or her allies before the chemical disarmament is complete makes the Iran and Hezbollah retaliation against Israel with the support of Russia even more justified.

On the other hand, the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, (the latter seeming more keen than the US to overthrow Bashar’s government), provided that the SNC is in a weakened position and the desperation of the trio is acute, places them in a real danger of open colluding with the likes of Al Qaeda and Al-Nusra Front. So much for fighting “terrorism”!

Every time one sees a billboard advertising Syrian International Trade Exhibition across the world one wonders how can a government in a war state for over two years manage to facilitate an environment where its factories can produce? The answer could simply be that Syria is not nearly as chaotic or as weak as Western media portrays it to be. That position has just been strengthened by Syria’s agreement to disarm.

The objective of the US and Israel has always been to disarm any Arab army that might use its weapons against Israel; the issue is not whether a country owns a huge arsenals of weapons or not, but whether it has enough potential will to use them against Israel.

The Saudis are armed to the teeth and so are the Turkish but it is their clear stance on ensuring Israel’s peace that makes them allies rather than enemies. It is for that reason that Syria is a prime target as was Saddam’s Iraq.

Five armies that pose serious threat to Israel were the priorities of the US and Israel namely Iranian, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi and Hezbollah and so far only one has been dealt with; that of Iraq. In the case of Egypt, the US and Israel are pleased because the Egyptian army is suspect and they truly believe they will eventually buy out its generals. That means Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are left to fight this war that will not stop until one side secures a clear victory.

Where Russia had disappointed in the past as was the case with Iraq, now it appears poised to put up a stronger posture and as such days ahead will clarify the longevity of the new Russian posture. But the latest events have revealed that Russia is no longer a mere Security Council voter but a physical actor in world events.

Therefore, it is naive to assume that Russia has been blackmailed or tricked by the US into pressuring Syria to surrender her most prized deterrent against Israel. Syria will comply albeit at a calculated pace and will give America and Israel no legitimate pretext to attack it and as such Russia will have no choice but to stand its ground. If an attack takes place, Russia’s response is likely to be far stronger than the recent showdown in the Mediterranean or else Russia becomes a goofball.

The stance of Western media and Aljazeera is a good indication that the US and her allies are not in a war mood. When a war is imminent, there are certain networks that have a duty to fulfill and that is drumming for war. They are not doing that just yet!

While it will be naive to assume that Bashar will hold on to power indefinitely, it is clear that the Syrian civil conflict will be a long term struggle and will not end nor conclude the way the US and Israel are hoping for.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brazil’s Rousseff to UN: US surveillance an ‘affront’

RT | September 24, 2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff lambasted US spying on her country at Tuesday’s UN summit, calling it a “breach of international law.” She further warned that the NSA surveillance, revealed since June, threatened freedom of speech and democracy.

“Meddling in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and as such it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations,” Rousseff said.

“Without the right to privacy, there is no real freedom of speech or freedom of opinion,” Rousseff told the gathering of world leaders. “And therefore, there is no actual democracy,” she added, criticizing the fact that Brazil had been targeted by the US.

“A country’s sovereignty can never affirm itself to the detriment of another country’s sovereignty,” she added.

Rousseff went on to propose a multilateral, international governance framework to monitor US surveillance activity. “We must establish multilateral mechanisms for the world wide web,” she said.

Rousseff said that the US’s arguments for spying on Brazil and other UN member states were “untenable”, adding that “Brazil knows how to protect itself” and that the country has been “living in peace with our neighbors for more than 140 years.”

Brazil’s specific targeting in US surveillance practices prompted Rousseff’s government to announce that it intends to adopt both legislation and technology aimed at protecting itself and its businesses from the illegal interception of communications.

A week ago, Rousseff canceled an impending state visit to Washington, scheduled to take place in October, because of indignation over spying revelations. Rousseff has stated she wants an apology from Obama and the United States.

The revelations that the US National Security Agency has been intercepting Rouseff’s own phone calls and e-mails, in addition to those of her aides and officials at state-controlled oil and gas firm Petrobras, have prompted an outcry in Brazil.

Rousseff’s predecessor as Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, said earlier this month that Obama should “personally apologize to the world.” Lula accused the US of “thinking that it can control global communications and ignore the sovereignty of other countries” in an interview with India’s English-language daily The Hindu, published Sept. 10.

Latin America voices widespread indignation at US activities

US relations with all of Latin America have recently soured. In addition to Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia and Venezuela have all voiced anger with the US over the NSA’s surveillance of their countries this year. Bolivia has been especially bitter.

“I would like to announce that we are preparing a lawsuit against Barack Obama to condemn him for crimes against humanity,” President Morales told reporters Friday in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. He branded the US president as a “criminal” who had violated international law.

In early July, a plane carrying Morales from Moscow to the Bolivian capital, La Paz, was grounded for 13 hours in Austria after it was banned from European airspace because of US suspicions it was carrying fugitive Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has been responsible for the majority of leaks regarding NSA spying practices since June.

Venezuela wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the end of last week, requesting that he take action in response to the apparent denial of US visas to some members of the Venezuelan delegation who were scheduled to attend the UN General Assembly in New York.

President Nicolas Maduro said that the denial seemed intended to “create logistical obstacles to impede” the visit, and further requested that the UN “demand that the government of the US abide by its international obligations” as host of the 68th UN General Assembly.

Tension between Venezuela and the US rose Thursday when Venezuela’s foreign minister, Elias Jaua, told media outlets that the US had denied a plane carrying Maduro entrance into its airspace. The aircraft was en route to China. Washington later granted the approval, stating that Venezuela’s request had not been properly submitted. Jaua denounced the move as “an act of aggression.”

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Allies Don’t Need Lobbies

By Jay Knott | Dissident Voice | September 24, 2013

In a recent article on Counterpunch, Rob Urie defended the traditional Marxist analysis of US policy in the Middle East. He argues that support for Israel is driven primarily by economic interest, not the Jewish lobby.

He starts by paying tribute to the idea that Western societies are uniquely racist. He says that the “Western narrative” claims there is an “Arab character”, and that this is “antique racist blather”. He gives no definition of these terms. Further, he establishes his credentials as part of the dominant current in the American left by claiming that “over a million people in Iraq died so ‘we’ in the West can drive SUVs.”1

When he tries to criticize bourgeois economics, he makes it clear he doesn’t understand the developments it has made since Marx’s day, using the mathematical discipline known as “game theory”. He dismisses the basic abstraction of economic theory, the idea of the rational individual, on the grounds that it is “devoid of history, culture and political context”. But abstractions are always devoid of something.

He defends a more concrete economic theory, mostly Marxist, with some input from another theorist of capitalist crisis, Hyman Minsky. This concrete theory leads him to the view that US activity in the Middle East is primarily driven by rational capitalist motives, the need to secure a supply of oil.

“Taking the totality of circumstance — former oil company executives launching war on an oil rich nation on a pretext they publicly proclaimed they didn’t believe shortly before taking office — and that upon launching their war proved to be non-existent, requires a willingness to overlook the obvious — that the war on Iraq was for oil, that is difficult to support.”1

Perhaps I’ve misunderstood him, but based on what he says in the rest of the article, this convoluted sentence seems to argue that, because president Bush and vice-president Cheney attacked Iraq on false premises, and they also said it was all about oil, and they are former oil executives, and Iraq has a lot of oil, it’s difficult to deny US attacks on Iraq are all about oil.

In fact, it’s not hard at all. As Urie points out, at times Bush and co. said that attacking Iraq was “protecting the world’s supply of oil.”1 But, as he also points out, they are congenital liars. Why should we believe them when they say they are trying to “protect” the oil supply? Protect it against what? When politicians “admit” attacks on Middle Eastern countries are wars for oil, they are parroting the neo-con party line, feeding the public, both left and right, with a plausible-sounding pretext. For right-wingers, “it’s a war for oil” is a reason to support war, and for leftists, it’s a way to feel better by complaining impotently about corporate greed. Both approaches help the war drive.

Fortunately, the American public isn’t listening to the “war for oil” canard. Americans of all classes are listening to those who argue, on coherent capitalist grounds, against war in the Middle East. That helped avoid war on Syria.

The predictions of Urie’s theory failed even as he was writing them: “Finally, for those who have moved on from the U.S. war on Syria story, the war is proceeding largely as planned.”

“War for oil” is a lie, and more sophisticated slogans such as “geo-political rationales”1 are too vague to explain anything. If, as a result of an American military adventure in the Middle East, the price of oil goes up, the Marxist left says it was a war for oil because the oil companies benefit. If it goes down, they say it was a war for oil because most of the other companies benefit. Their hypothesis is unfalsifiable.

But their argument that Israel defends America’s interest in the world’s most oil-rich region is easily falsified. Israelis do not fight in America’s wars. It it were in US interests to support Israel, it would not need a multi-million dollar lobby working day and night to undermine any squeak of defiance, corrupting and intimidating politicians from the president down.2 Real friends don’t need lobbies.

Urie rejects the view that the Jewish lobby can explain US support for Israel, on the grounds that, since Israel has a much smaller economy than the USA, it cannot influence the USA to act against its own interests in the Middle East. But that’s not how it works. It’s not that the Lobby has more money than Microsoft. Through its influence on the US government, AIPAC is able to appropriate some of Microsoft’s profits, and use them for a purpose contrary to the interests of most of Microsoft’s shareholders, and almost all Americans, rich and poor. The question is how it does that.

The quaint ideas of Marx and Urie do not explain the curious phenomenon of US support for the Jewish state. The facts are more compatible with the views of Mearsheimer and Walt.2 The long history of US politicians’ groveling to Israel is more economically explained as a real example of Jewish power rather than a facade designed to make us believe it’s an example of Jewish power.

Capitalism is the world’s current economic system. Oil companies like to make a profit. The Pentagon wants to ensure its oil supply and deny it to putative enemies if necessary. There is a lot of oil in the Middle East.

None of these banal observations even begin to explain US policy in the Middle East.

As I wrote three years ago, in a response to Noam Chomsky,

“By means of the Lobby, the tail wags the dog. Its the simplest, clearest, and most economical explanation of the facts.”3

But my explanation still requires an explanation. If ethnic interests, such as the Israel lobby, [Is the “Israel lobby” an “ethnic interest? — DV ed.] can trump class interests, such as the need for stability, and one’s theory says it cannot, something has to give. The power of Israel in the USA and all the other Western countries falsifies the predictions of Marxism so comprehensively, one must conclude that Marxism, at least when it comes to analyzing US Middle East policy, is part of the problem. A radically different approach is needed.

  1. Rob Urie, “The Profits of War and De-Stabilization: Capitalism and US Oil Geo-Politics,” Counterpunch, 20-22 September 2013.
  2. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2007).
  3. Jay Knott, “Faithful Circle,” Dissident Voice, 18 September 2010.

Jay Knott is the author of The Mass Psychology of Anti-Fascism.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU ‘not satisfied’ with US spying answers, says top official

Press TV – September 24, 2013

The European Union is “not satisfied” with Washington’s answers on revelations that the US spied on international bank transfers, a top official says.

“I’m not satisfied with what we have gotten so far,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom during a hearing at the European Parliament on Tuesday.

She added, “I will be seeking exhaustive explanations, comprehensive information.”

The revelations that US National Security Agency (NSA) widely monitors international payments and financial transactions was reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel on September 16 and stems from leaked documents by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Malmstrom wrote in a recent letter to US Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Under Secretary David Cohen that “should the facts in these press reports be confirmed, they would further weaken the confidence between the EU and the US and would undoubtedly impact on our cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism.”

Since the disclosure, there have been calls by EU lawmakers for the suspension of a data-sharing agreement between the EU and the US. The deal grants Washington access to data from the SWIFT network used by thousands of banks to send transaction information securely.

“There have been very severe allegations in the press,” said Malmstrom adding, “If these allegations are true, they constitute a breach of the agreement and a breach of the agreement can certainly lead to a suspension.”

Malmstrom warned already in July, prior to the bank transfer disclosure, that the EU could reconsider financial data sharing agreements with the US if it was determined that the accords have not been executed “in full compliance with the law.”

The privacy violations were first revealed by Snowden in June. He leaked confidential information that showed the NSA collects data of phone records and Internet communication in the US and Europe as well as other countries.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

People stop searched in UK once a minute; blacks bear the brunt

Press TV – September 24, 2013

marijuanaarrestNew figures show every 58 seconds one person is stopped and searched by the police in England and Wales for drugs, with blacks bearing the brunt of the practice.

According to findings by the London School of Economics published by the charity Release, minority groups, especially blacks and Asians, are disproportionately targeted by the police for drugs stop searches.

The study found there were over one million stop searches in 2011-2012 with half or more being related to drugs, especially for small amounts of narcotics such as cannabis.

According to the analysis on the figures for 2009-2010, overall search rate across England and Wales was 10 in 1,000 while it was 7 in 1,000 for whites, 18 per 1,000 for Asians and a shocking 45 per 1,000 for blacks, that is blacks were targeted 6.3 times more than white people.

This comes as Release said the rate of blacks using drugs was almost half of whites in 2010 (5.8 percent compared to 10.5 percent).

Release added the police discriminatory behavior toward blacks is also seen in treatment of people in possession of drugs.

The charity said in 2009-2010, 78 percent of black people, caught possessing cocaine, were arrested against 22 percent who received cautions while the rate was 44 percent against 56 percent for white offenders.

The charity said key disparities are also seen in the rate of black people subject to court proceedings for drugs possession and facing prison terms, compared to whites.

“Black people are more likely to get a criminal record than white people, are more likely to be taken to court and are more likely to be fined or imprisoned for drug offences because of the way in which they are policed, rather than because they are more likely to use drugs,” Michael Shiner, co-author of the report, said.

Meanwhile, the analysis showed a stunning 140,000 drugs stop searches were carried out on under-21s in 2009-2010 with 16,900 of them conducted on children aged 15 or below.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment