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Dianne Feinstein: NSA Would Never Abuse Its Powers Because It’s ‘Professional’

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | January 21, 2014

Senator Dianne Feinstein, as we’ve noted, seems to have this weird blindness to even the very idea that the NSA might abuse its powers, despite a long history of it doing exactly that. The history of the US intelligence community is littered like a junk yard with examples of massive abuses of power by intelligence folks. And yet, Feinstein seems shocked at the idea that anyone questions the NSA’s ability to abuse the system. Why? Because the NSA is “professional.” Appearing on Meet the Press this weekend, Feinstein just kept repeating how “professional” the NSA is as if that was some sort of talisman that wards off any potential of abuse. First, host David Gregory pointed to reporter Bart Gellman’s claim that President Obama’s NSA reforms will allow for the expansion of the NSA’s collecting personal data on “billions of people around the world, Americans and foreign citizens alike” and told Feinstein that didn’t seem like it was protecting people’s privacy. And Feinstein went straight to her “but they’re professionals!” argument:

Well, I would disagree with Mr. Gellman. I think that what the president has said is that he wanted to maintain the capability of the program. That, as Chairman Rogers said, it has not been abused or misused. And it is carried out by very strictly vetted and professional people.

Of course it has been “abused” and “misused,” but let’s not let details get in the way.

Later in the interview, Gregory asks Feinstein to comment on Rep. Mike Roger’s totally unsubstantiated (and contradicted by nearly everyone else in the know) claims that Ed Snowden was working for Russian intelligence, and Feinstein bizarrely returns to talking about just how “professional” NSA staffers are.

DAVID GREGORY:
And do you agree with Chairman Rogers that he may have had help from the Russians?

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN:
He may well have. We don’t know at this stage. But I think to glorify this act is really to set sort of a new level of dishonor. And this goes to where this metadata goes. Because the N.S.A. are professionals. They are limited in number to 22 who have access to the data. Two of them are supervisors. They are vetted. They are carefully supervised. The data goes anywhere else. How do you provide that level of supervision?

Of course, Ed Snowden was also “vetted” and “professional.” And Feinstein seems to think he may have been working for the Russians, which seems to suggest that any of the other “vetted” and “professional” NSA employees might be abusing their position as well. And, I mean, I’m sure the NSA analysts who listened in on phone sex calls between Americans and then shared them around the office were also “vetted” and “professional.”

In fact, I’d think pretty much the entirety of human history concerning intelligence efforts suggests that abuse is almost always carried out by people who are “vetted” and “professional.” And that’s exactly what has most people so concerned about these programs and what the NSA is doing. No matter how well-meaning, well-trained or well-vetted people are, the temptation and ability for abuse is way too strong. Just last week, we were quoting a bunch of “vetted” and “professional” NSA folks talking about how they fantasized about murdering Ed Snowden. Those comments don’t sound particularly professional at all. They sound like people who shouldn’t be allowed within miles of people’s private data. But Feinstein apparently sees no problems with those kinds of people having the ability to search through your private data. Because they’re “professional.”

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Your Rights Aren’t Worth Crap

Locking The Public Out Of Public Trials In Chicago

By CHRIS GEOVANIS | CounterPunch | January 21, 2014

Public trials are one of the fundamental tenets of American democracy. And they’ve been cancelled in Chicago, at least for the trial of the NATO 3 — three defendants battling terrorism charges for alleged ‘crimes’ wholly instigated, manufactured and advanced by undercover cops in a blatant case of entrapment. But you’ll be hard pressed to determine this for yourself, since you’re essentially banned from the courtroom unless you’re willing to surrender your right to privacy, your right to even a glimmer of free expression, or your right as a non-corporate reporter to cover the case in real time like your corporate colleagues can.

Government officials are forcing every member of the public seeking to observe the NATO 3 trial to ‘pre-register’, produce a government-issued ID, submit to a criminal background check — and, of course, trust them with your data.

This last bit is spectacularly hard to swallow, as news continues to come out about the extent of government spying and data-mining on perfectly lawful activity like talking on the phone. Government agencies have surveilled and disrupted the Occupy movement, to which the defendants had a loose affiliation, simply for existing, and we’ve barely begun to plumb the depths of cop spying in the run-up to Chicago’s NATO protest — and beyond. For Chicagoans, this comes in the wake of the Chicago cops’ notorious history of political spying, disruption and assassination going back to the days of the infamous COINTELPRO Red Squad.

In fact, there would be no criminal case against the three defendants if the city’s autocratic former mayor, Richard M. Daley, hadn’t finally succeeded in convincing the federal court in 2001 to effectively gut the Red Squad Consent Decree banning police spying, infiltration, harassment, intimidation and undercover disruption of political activity. The hollowed out decree was ultimately dissolved in 2009.

Attorneys for the NATO defendants have argued in a court finding that the ‘terrorism’ scheme they’re charged with is based on “idle chatter, laced with bravado and abetted, encouraged and egged on by the undercover police agents.” There was no actual act of vandalism committed, and there certainly was no act of ‘terror’ committed — unless you’re feeling terrorized by the prospect of undercover cops inciting thought crimes to dirty up your political beliefs. But there was, essentially, a law enforcement scheme to incite crime where no crime had been committed, wholly fomented by undercover cops engaged in manufacturing criminality — cop behavior that would have been illegal under the Red Squad consent decree.

Meanwhile, public officials continue to invoke the ‘terrorism’ meme in the NATO trial as part of a criminal prosecution that has consistently conflated dissent with criminality. And they’re taking no chances on uncontrolled spin in the case.

Besides making members of the public surrender their privacy rights to attend the trial, they’re enforcing the courts’ recently imposed ban on cell phones, lest people who CAN get in report from the ground, and have told those who are willing to ‘pre-register’ that officials are giving priority seating to those who then RE-register to attend a day before each trial date. You don’t re-register? You take your chances at getting a seat the following day. At one point, the judge even considered banning pencils and paper from the courtroom.

New rules for non-corporate reporters are equally extreme. Officials are imposing restrictions that effectively ban freelance reporters and reporters with non-corporate and non-traditional media from the kind of access and privileges — including the right to carry their cell phones — that corporate reporters will be afforded.

“It is my sense going into this trial that the Cook County Sheriff’s Office will be putting on a trial that undermines the public’s right to access much more than the US military did during Manning’s court martial,” writes Firedoglake reporter Kevin Gosztola. He should know, since he covered the Manning trial daily — and his most recent piece on the NATO 3 trial is a compelling and disturbing summary of the state’s dubious basis for its terrorism allegations.

The state’s scheme to effectively ban the public from a public — and publicly funded — trial is part of a long-standing official pattern to harass, arrest and undermine those who dissent in Chicago. For years, activists in Chicago had to fight in court for permission to rally and march against the Iraq war, and protesters have routinely been subject to arrest simply for attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights. More broadly, the restrictions that local government overlords have imposed on public access and public oversight in the NATO trial are part of a national effort to re-brand dissent as inherently dangerous.

The judge in the NATO 3 case, Thaddeus Wilson, prominently displays a picture of Martin Luther King behind his bench. If he were able, King would be spinning in his grave at some of the rulings Wilson has issued in the case. Wilson refused, for example, to dismiss a juror for cause, even though she routinely teaches at the Chicago police academy, and is married to the law enforcement officer who supervised the undercover operations of state police during the NATO protests. Despite the fact that police spying and its abuses lie at the heart of the NATO 3 case — and that this prospective juror’s very livelihood and family economy is grounded in police collaboration — Wilson ruled that there was no reason to doubt her ability to serve objectively.

That’s like saying that the chairman of BP is perfectly fit to serve on a jury weighing criminal negligence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Defense attorneys were forced to exercise a peremptory challenge to keep her off the jury.

Judge Wilson has also issued a disingenuously named ‘decorum’ order that sets the stage for massive courtroom repression. The edict is so sweeping that one could conceivably be ejected from the courtroom and cited for criminal contempt for the ‘crime’ of raising your eyebrows or shaking your head at testimony — or even smiling at a defendant. The order also bans political buttons, t-shirts, armbands and perhaps even particular colors — we won’t know until we show up wearing red or black or both. If you get up to take a leak, you can’t get back into the courtroom until the judge calls a recess — and in the jury selection of the phase, court sometimes ran past 9PM, so empty your bladder early.

Wilson has also consistently ruled in the prosecution’s favor in terms of what evidence will and will not be admissible. And in one of the judge’s worst rulings, Wilson has asserted that police are included under the terrorism definition of the state statute under which the defendants are being tried, which defines terrorism as “intent to coerce a significant portion of the civilian population.”

In short, the testimony of the undercover cops who manufactured the conditions for a ‘crime’ to be alleged should be treated like any testimony from any ‘civilian’. Jurors could essentially be asked to embrace the legal fiction that these undercover cops felt ‘coerced’ into the self-same crime they themselves were attempting to create and incite. This ruling essentially privileges testimony from cops in a police department whose officers routinely tell flat-out lies with impunity to bolster their cases.

It bears emphasizing that the undercover cops at the heart of this case are not civilians. They’re the undercover cops who told court officials they ‘lost’ a shitload of text messages that could have been exculpatory for the NATO 3 defense team — this in an age when virtually any electronic traffic anywhere lives somewhere, including in the NSA’s vast databases. Except when the NSA’s pals in the Chicago police department lose that electronic traffic. They’re the undercover cops who actually manufactured the conditions in which they could allege a crime under the notoriously vague and little used state terrorism statute under which the NATO 3 are charged. 

This is just as dunderheaded as the only other instance in which this state terrorism statute has been used to charge someone. In that case, the state convicted a college student for making a terrorist threat — even though he actually did no such thing — after cops searched his unoccupied car and found some crappy and inflammatory rap lyrics scribbled on a piece of paper. The state circuit court in that case sentenced the student — a Black man in a largely white community — to five years in prison. An appellate court later tossed out that conviction. Blacks, dissidents — hey, this state terrorism statute is perfect for Illinois’ law enforcement community!

Secret trials are abhorrent. That’s why the nation’s founders, whatever their other manifest flaws, banned them. Secret trials built on the testimony of undercover cops given broad license to manufacture and incite criminal activity to entrap defendants is particularly revolting and deeply dangerous to all of us.

“The NATO 3 trial is not about terrorism,” says Andy Thayer, who helped organize 2012’s protests against the NATO meeting. “This trial is about the government using hype ABOUT terrorism to pursue a political agenda, and as such represents a fundamental mis-use of the justice system, if we are to believe the words of the U.S. Constitution.”

The political agenda of the Cook County States Attorneys Office — the prosecutors of record of the NATO 3 and others criminally charged around the 2012 NATO protests — has included a stubborn commitment to defend its own most egregious miscarriages of justice. Cook County States Attorney and career Chicago prosecutor Anita Alvarez, who’s not been shy about chasing media face time in the NATO cases, has historically embraced the worst sorts of police excess and abuse — including cops who torture, lie and murder.

Alvarez’ local prosecutorial agenda dovetails with allied schemes in national and local government to support increasingly militarized police forces which hustle funding for their agencies on the public dime, and promote the careers of “security” industry professionals — many of whom are former members of these self-same militarized police forces.

Those self-same law enforcement agencies are also perfectly happy to collude with corporations to suppress dissent that those corporations deem unhelpful — what journalist Naomi Wolf has described as “totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent.” 

To support this agenda in Chicago, authorities are using the tried and true tactic of terrifying people into signing off on their most fundamental civil liberties — including any vestiges of privacy rights — for the ‘privilege’ of attending a public criminal trial rooted in police misdeeds. More than a few activists who assembled in Chicago in May 2012 to oppose the murderous war agenda of NATO have said they simply will not submit to the state’s draconian terms to attend the NATO 3 trial. And in that respect, the state has succeeded in locking out some of the people with the most at stake in a ‘public’ trial in which defense attorneys have been consistently thwarted in their effort to expose law enforcement’s schemes to derail dissent and manufacture crime.

The Chicago police and their overlord, Rahm “Mayor 1%” Emanuel, worked mightily to make the city safe during the NATO protests for the worst sorts of corporate criminals and their military backers. Emanuel and Alvarez remain strong allies in a shared dystopian vision of civic life in a city that routinely criminalizes people of color and undermines the fundamental tenets of economic and social justice. It’s no accident that Mayor 1% backs privatization schemes in critical public endeavors that range from education to health — just as States’ Attorney Anita Alvarez backs privatizing this critically important public trial.

So, who are the real terrorists?

Chris Geovanis is a Chicago media activist, advocacy journalist and member of the HammerHard MediaWorks collective. You can reach her via Twitter @heavyseas, via her Facebook page or at chrisgeovanis(at)gmail.com

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Algeriepatriotique interviews Gilad Atzmon: “Dieudonné has proved to be resilient to Jewish nationalist terror”

Interview by Mohamed El-Ghazi, M. Ait Amara | January 18, 2014

Your fight against Zionism provokes critics against you in Israel and in the West. Your detractors conflate consciously between “anti-Zionism” and “anti-Semitism.” What is the difference between these two concepts?

Gilad Atzmon: “anti-Semitism” is a misleading notion that refers generally to criticism of Jews as ‘people’, ‘ethnicity’ or ‘race.’ Such criticism that is biologically driven hardly exists nowadays.

Anti-Zionism, is a different kind of fish — it refers broadly to criticism of the Jewish state, its politics, policies and ideology.

But the truth is that I do not fit in any of those categories. Although I criticize Israel harshly and more than often, I am actually interested in the true meaning of Jewish identity, culture, politics and ideology. I believe that as long as people operate politically under the Jewish banner we are entitled to question their motives, politics  and philosophy. Israel defines itself as “The Jewish state,” hence, its Jewishness must be examined.

I am indeed critical of the Jewish state, but I am often also critical of Jewish Left and even the Jewish so-called ‘anti’-Zionists. I basically disapprove of all  ‘Jews-only’ clubs, whether they are on the Left or the Right. I would argue that like Zionism and Israel, Jewish anti-Zionism is racially driven and Judeo-centric to the bone. It is primarily committed to Jewish tribal interests rather than to the Palestinian cause. In my book The Wandering Who I obviously produce enough evidence to support this claim.

Do You consider Zionists as the main cause behind the global financial crisis? How?

Not exactly, in The Wandering Who I contend that a financial bubble was created in the USA by the Federal Reserve in order to divert the attention from a military blunder in Iraq (a neocon Zionist war). But I actually argue that rather than a ‘conspiracy,’ the credit crunch was, in fact, an accident. The bubble burst unexpectedly…

We tend to believe that Zionism is limited to the colonization of Palestine in order to create a state there. Now, you say that it is “a global movement fed by a unique tribal solidarity”. What do you mean by “tribal solidarity”?

To start with, your terminology is slightly inaccurate. Zionism is not a colonial movement, in spite of the fact that many of us are using the term. Colonialism is defined as a material exchange between a mother state and a settler state. In the case of Zionism we can easily identify the ‘settler state’ but it is far more difficult to find or identify who is the ‘mummy’. Also the Jewish re-settlement in Palestine was spiritually and ideologically driven rather than being economically motivated.

However, with Jewish lobbies operating aggressively in most Western capitals (AIPAC, CFI, CRIF etc’), promoting global Zionist interests and advocating global wars against Iran and Syria, it is really impossible to avoid the fact that Zionism is now a global movement with global interests.

Tribal solidarity, in that respect, is also very easy to grasp. It refers to the vast support world Jewry lends to their national movement and tribally driven campaigns.

Could Zionism prevail creating “global conflicts,” as you say? In other words, why can’t Zionism pursue peace?

Because Jewish secular identity is defined by negation. The Godless political Jew (as opposed to the orthodox one) is defined by the animosity evoked in others. Jews need enemies and thus the continued existence of the Jewish state in the Middle East may lead to many more sectarian wars in the region in the future. But again it isn’t just Israel or Zionist politics. The Judification of the Palestinian ‘solidarity’ movement introduced us to vile witch-hunts consistent with the vile Jewish herem (excommunication) culture. In the last few years we have seen the UK PSC expelling activists and even Palestinians from its ranks. As I say above, Jewish politics is defined by negation, as such, it can only promote wars.

If Israel was created by the British capitalists to control oil production and transportation in the Middle East in the early twentieth century, how could Zionism take the West hostage several decades later? What led to this reversal of roles?

I don’t agree.  Israel wasn’t created by the British Empire and oil wasn’t at all the logos behind the Balfour Declaration. This is a popular banal materialist Marxist fantasy that doesn’t hold water and is set to deceive.

Zionist lobbies managed to squeeze the Balfour declaration out of the British Empire  at the peak of WWI promising to bring the USA into the war in return. Britain needed the USA to join the war effort  in order to break the stalemate on the Western front. Promising Palestine to the Jews seemed a little price to pay. The Balfour Declaration in that regard was there to appease the American Germanic patriotic Jewish financial elite who were quick change their allegiance from Germany to Britain. The message is clear, the Jewish lobby in the USA was already amongst the most influential political bodies in the USA and Britain as early as 1917.

The Western media is resistant to any criticism of Zionism. Currently, Dieudonné is attacked from every possible side in France. How do you explain this relentlessness media and political onslaught against this comedian? 

Dieudonné has proved to be resilient to Jewish nationalist terror. All attempts to destroy him achieved the opposite, it only helped him to refine his humour and criticism of Jewish power. By now Dieudonné has managed to expose the lethal continuum between the Jewish Lobby, the so-called Palestinian solidarity movement and the French imaginary ‘Left’ establishment. Is it really a surprise that the ‘socialist’ government that just a few weeks ago shamelessly attempted to jeopardize the negotiation with Iran in a desperate attempt  to appease the Israeli government is now chasing a black comedian who refuses to subscribe to the primacy of Jewish suffering?

Unlike welded and well-organized Zionists, the anti-Zionist movements seem scattered. Why don’t the latter have a strong organization to fight this sprawling group that “kills in the name of Jewish suffering,” as you say? 

The Zionification of the Palestinian solidarity movement, which I have been monitoring for more than a decade, is pretty much completed. It located Jewish tribal interests at the centre of the Palestinian struggle. Instead of caring for Palestine, solidarity organisations are now primarily concerned with the fight against ‘anti-semitism’. The Palestine solidarity movement is now operating as a controlled opposition. It is funded largely by liberal Zionists, such as George Soros and his Open Society Institute, who also funds the pro-Israeli Jstreet. The same Soros funds most Palestinian NGOs and even the BDS Movement. We are seeing the emergence of a little Palestine solidarity industry that is set to achieve nothing and is actually very good at it (achieving nothing).

But on the other hand, there are some very positive developments:

More and more people out there see the real picture. And I actually take some credit for it. More and more people are becoming sensitive to Jewish lobby activity and Zionist advocacy of global conflicts. More and more people grasp the role of the Left. They see the Guardian’s attempt to vindicate war criminal Sharon. In short, more and more people grasp that Palestine is here, in Paris, in London, in Athens and in Detroit.

As it stands, we are all Palestinians. The vast popular support of Dieudonne is a clear message to AIPAC, CRIF and CFI – beware, the party comes to an end. Enough is enough.

I would be very happy to see the Jewish lobby, both Zionist and the so-called ‘anti-’, coming to terms with the current change, but I doubt it. Being an avid reader of Jewish history and Left’s impotence, I predict that the Lobby will become more aggressive and I am really concerned with the inevitable consequences to Jews and the rest of us.

http://www.algeriepatriotique.com/

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel lobby has Economist on the run

By Jonathon Cook | January 21, 2014

The Economist has found itself at the centre of another of those “anti-semitic cartoon” rows. The cartoon has upset the Israel lobby because it shows, well, that the Israel lobby has a lot of influence in Congress. The article it illustrated refers to President Obama’s attempts to reach a deal with Iran, a diplomatic process being subverted by AIPAC’s efforts to persuade Congress to intensify sanctions.

And just to prove how little influence the lobby really has, it has made a huge fuss (again) about anti-semitism and the Economist has … quickly pulled the cartoon (from this article). So just how anti-semitic is it? Here it is for you to judge:

Economist cartoon big

In fact, I’m not sure if you’ll notice the Star of David on the cartoon.

To my mind, this cartoon underestimates the influence of the Israel lobby in Congress, certainly on issues relating to the Middle East – which, after all, is what the cartoon is about. Most analysts, even very conservative ones, nowadays concede that the lobby is extremely powerful in Congress, as occasionally do lobby members themselves.

The Israeli media have regularly noted that the Israel lobby is the chief driver for intensified sanctions against Iran.

There’s nothing secret about this. It is on AIPAC’s website: “Congress must pass legislation that will increase the pressure on Iran and ensure any future deal denies Tehran a nuclear weapons capability”.

There is also nothing new about this relationship. A British intelligence report shortly before the British left Palestine in 1948 referred to the “effective pressures which Zionists in America are in a position to exert on the American administration”.

Here are just a few relevant quotes on the lobby’s powers:

Former US President Jimmy Carter: “It’s almost politically suicidal … for a member of Congress who wants to seek reelection to take any stand that might be interpreted as anti-policy of the conservative Israeli government.”

A Congressional staffer supportive of Israel told journalist Michael Massing: ”We can count on well over half the House – 250 to 300 members – to do reflexively whatever AIPAC wants.”

During an interview, AIPAC official Steven Rosen put a napkin in front of him and said: “In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”

Former AIPAC staffer M J Rosenberg recounts a conversation with Tom Dine, AIPAC’s executive director in the 1980s. Dine told him he did not think a US president could make Israel do anything it didn’t want to do given the power of AIPAC and “our friends in Congress.”

James Abourezk, former Senator from South Dakota, said:  “I can tell you from personal experience that, at least in the Congress, the support Israel has in that body is based completely on political fear – fear of defeat by anyone who does not do what Israel wants done.”

Uri Avnery, veteran Israeli journalist and former Israeli MP: “For five decades, at least, US Middle East policy has been decided in Jerusalem. Almost all American officials dealing with this area are, well, Jewish. The Hebrew-speaking American ambassador in Tel Aviv could easily be the Israeli ambassador in Washington.”

Note too this interesting figure: Since 2000, members of Congress and their staffs have visited tiny little Israel more than 1,000 times. That’s almost twice the number of visits to any other foreign country. Roughly three-quarters of those trips were sponsored by AIPAC. These trip are particularly popular with Congress members who serve on foreign policy–related committees.

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

President Bashar al-Assad’s interview with Agence France Presse

SANA | January 21, 2014

20140120-214115Damascus – President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Agence France Presse. Following is the full text of the interview:

Mr. President, what do you expect from the Geneva conference?

President Assad: The most basic element, which we continuously refer to, is that the Geneva Conference should produce clear results with regard to the fight against terrorism in Syria. In particular, it needs to put pressure on countries that are exporting terrorism, – by sending terrorists, money and weapons to terrorist organisations, – especially Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and of course the Western countries that provide political cover for these terrorist organisations. This is the most important decision or result that the Geneva Conference could produce. Any political solution that is reached without fighting terrorism has no value. There can be no political action when there is terrorism everywhere, not only in Syria but in neighbouring countries as well. From the political side, it is possible for Geneva to contribute to a process of dialogue between Syrians. There has to be a Syrian process within Syria and whilst Geneva could support this, it cannot be a substitute for it.

AFP: After nearly three years of devastating war and the big challenge of reconstruction in the country, is it likely that you will not be a candidate for the presidency?

President Assad: This depends on two things: It depends on personal aspirations or a personal decision, on the one hand, and on public opinion in Syria, on the other. As far as I am concerned, I see no reason why I shouldn’t stand; as for Syrian public opinion, there is still around four months before the election date is announced. If in that time, there is public desire and a public opinion in favour of my candidacy, I will not hesitate for a second to run for election. In short, we can say that the chances for my candidacy are significant.

AFP: In these past years, have you thought for a moment about losing the battle, and have you thought of an alternative scenario for you and your family?

President Assad: In any battle, there is always the possibility of winning and losing; but when you’re defending your country, it’s obvious that the only choice is to win. Should Syria lose this battle that would mean the spread of chaos throughout the Middle East. This battle is not confined to Syria and is not, as Western propaganda portrays, a popular uprising against a regime suppressing its people and a revolution calling for democracy and freedom. These lies have now become clear to people. A popular revolution doesn’t last for three years only to fail; moreover, a national revolution cannot have a foreign agenda. As for the scenarios that I have considered, of course these types of battles will have numerous scenarios – 1st, 2nd, 3rd……tenth, but they are all focused on defending the country not on running away from it. Fleeing is not an option in these circumstances. I must be at the forefront of those defending this country and this has been the case from day one.

AFP: Do you think you are winning this war?

President Assad: This war is not mine to win; it’s our war as Syrians. I think this war has, if you will, two phases. The first phase, which took the form of plans drawn up at the beginning, was the overthrow of the Syrian state in a matter of weeks or months. Now, three years on, we can safely say that this has failed, and that the Syrian people have won. There were countries that not only wanted to overthrow the state, but that also wanted to partition the country into several ‘mini-states;’ of course this phase failed, and hence the win for the Syrian people. The other phase of the battle is the fight against terrorism, which we are living on a daily basis. As you know, this phase isn’t over yet, so we can’t talk about having won before we eliminate the terrorists. What we can say is that we are making progress and moving forward. This doesn’t mean that victory is near at hand; these kinds of battles are complicated, difficult and they need a lot of time. However, as I said, and I reiterate, we are making progress, but have not yet achieved a victory.

AFP: Returning to Geneva, do you support a call from the conference for all foreign fighters to leave Syria, including Hezbollah?

President Assad: Clearly the job of defending Syria is responsibility of the Syrian people, the Syrian institutions, and in particular the Syrian Army. So, there would be no reason for any non-Syrian fighters to get involved had there not been foreign fighters from dozens of countries attacking civilians and Hezbollah especially on the Syrian-Lebanese border. When we talk about fighters leaving Syria, this would need to be part of a larger package that would see all the foreign fighters leave, and for all armed men – including Syrians – to hand over their weapons to the Syrian state, which would consequently achieve stability. So naturally, yes, one element of the solution in Syria – I wouldn’t say the objective – is for all non-Syrian fighters to leave Syria.

AFP: In addition to the prisoner exchange and a ceasefire in Aleppo, what initiatives are you ready to present at Geneva II?

President Assad: The Syrian initiative was put forward exactly a year ago, in January of last year. It’s a complete initiative that covers both political and security aspects and other dimensions that would lead to stability. All of these details are part of the initiative that Syria previously put forward. However, any initiative, whether this one or any other, must be the result of a dialogue between Syrians. The essence of anything that is proposed, whether it’s the crisis itself, fighting terrorism, or the future political vision and political system for Syria, requires the approval of Syrians. Our initiative was based on a process to facilitate this dialogue rather than a process to express the government’s point of view. It has always been our view that any initiative must be collective and produced by both the political actors in Syria and the Syrian people in general.

AFP: The opposition that will participate in Geneva is divided and many factions on the ground don’t believe it represents them. If an agreement is reached, how can it be implemented on the ground?

President Assad: This is the same question that we are asking as a government: when I negotiate, who am I negotiating with? There are expected to be many sides at Geneva, we don’t know yet who will come, but there will be various parties, including the Syrian government. It is clear to everyone that some of the groups, which might attend the conference, didn’t exist until very recently; in fact they were created during the crisis by foreign intelligence agencies whether in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the United States or other countries. So when we sit down with these groups, we are in fact negotiating with those countries. So, is it logical that France should be a part of the Syrian solution? Or Qatar, or America, or Saudi Arabia, or Turkey? This doesn’t make any sense. Therefore, when we negotiate with these parties, we’re in fact negotiating with the countries that are behind them and that support terrorism in Syria. There are other opposition forces in Syria that have a national agenda; these are parties that we can negotiate with. On the issue of the vision for Syria’s future, we are open for these parties to participate in governing the Syrian state, in the government and in other institutions. But as I mentioned earlier, anything that is agreed with any party, whether in Geneva or in Syria, must be subject to people’s endorsement, through a referendum put to Syrian citizens.

AFP: In this context, could the ceasefire agreements that have been started in Moadimiya and Barzeh be an alternative to Geneva?

President Assad: The truth is that these initiatives may be more important than Geneva, because the majority of those fighting and carrying out terrorist operations on the ground have no political agenda. Some of them have become professional armed robbers, and others, as you know, are takfiri organisations fighting for an extremist Islamic emirate and things of that kind. Geneva means nothing for these groups. For this reason, the direct action and the models that have been achieved in Moadamiyeh, in Barzeh and other places in Syria has proven to be very effective. But this is separate from the political process, which is about the political future of Syria. These reconciliations have helped stability and have eased the bloodshed in Syria, both of which help pave the way for the political dialogue I mentioned earlier.

AFP: Are you prepared to have a prime minister from the opposition in a future government?

President Assad: That depends on who this opposition represents. When it represents a majority, let’s say in parliament, naturally it should lead the government. But to appoint a prime minister from the opposition without having a majority doesn’t make any political sense in any country in the world. In your country, for example, or in Britain or elsewhere, you can’t have a prime minister from a parliamentary minority. This will all depend on the next elections, which we discussed in the Syrian initiative; they will reveal the real size of support for the various opposition forces. As to participation as a principle, we support it, of course it is a good thing.

AFP: Are you prepared to have, for example, Ahmed Jarba or Moaz Khatib, be your next prime minister?

President Assad: This takes us back to the previous question. Do any of these people represent the Syrian people, or even a portion of the Syrian people? Do they even represent themselves, or are they just representatives of the states that created them? This brings us back to what I mentioned earlier: every one of these groups represents the country that created them. The participation of each of these individuals means the participation of each of those states in the Syrian government! This is the first point. Second, let’s assume that we agreed to the participation of these individuals in the government. Do you think that they would dare to come to Syria to take part in the government? Of course they wouldn’t. Last year, they claimed that they had control of 70% of Syria, yet they didn’t even dare to come to the areas that they had supposed control of. They did come to the border for a 30-minute photo opportunity and then they fled. How can they be ministers in the government? Can a foreigner become a Syrian minister? That’s why these propositions are totally unrealistic, but they do make a good joke!

AFP: Mr. President, you said that it depends on the results of the elections, but how can you hold these kinds of elections if part of Syria’s territory is in the hands of insurgents?

President Assad: During this crisis, and after the unrest started in Syria, we have conducted elections twice: the first was municipal elections and the second was parliamentary elections. Of course, the elections cannot be conducted in the same way they are conducted in normal circumstances, but the roads between Syrian regions are open, and people area able to move freely between different regions. Those who live in difficult areas can go to neighbouring areas and participate in the elections. There will be difficulties, but it is not an impossible process.

AFP: Now that opposition fighters are battling jihadists, do you see any difference between the two?

President Assad: The answer I would have given you at the beginning of the events or during its various phases, is completely different to the answer today. Today, there are no longer two opposition groups. We all know that during the past few months the extremist terrorist groups fighting in Syria have wiped out the last remaining positions that were held by the forces the West portrays as moderates, calling them the moderate or secular forces, or the Free Syrian Army. These forces no longer exist. We are now dealing with one extremist group made up of various factions. As to the fighters that used to belong to what the West calls ‘moderate forces,’ these have mostly joined these extremist factions, either for fear or voluntarily through financial incentives. In short, regardless of the labels you read in the Western media, we are now fighting one extremist terrorist group comprising of various factions.

AFP: Would it be possible for the army and the opposition to fight against the jihadists side by side?

President Assad: We cooperate with any party that wants to join the army in fighting terrorists, and this has happened before. There are many militants who have left these organisations and joined the army to fight with it. So this is possible, but these are individual cases. This is not an alliance between ‘moderate’ forces and the army against terrorists. That depiction is false and is an illusion that is used by the West only to justify its support for terrorism in Syria. It supports terrorism under the pretext that it is backing moderation against extremist terrorism, and that is both illogical and false.

AFP: The state accuses the rebels of using civilians as human shields in areas under their control, but when the army shells these areas, do you not think this kills innocent people?

President Assad: The army does not shell neighbourhoods. The army strikes areas where there are terrorists. In most cases, terrorists enter particular areas and force out the civilians. Why do you think we have so many displaced people? Most of the millions of displaced people in Syria have fled their homes because terrorists forcefully entered their neighbourhoods. If there are civilians among these armed groups, why do we have so many displaced people? The army is fighting armed terrorists, and in some cases, terrorists have used civilians as human shields. Civilian casualties are unfortunately the consequences of any war. There is no such thing as a clean war in which there are no innocent civilian victims. This is the unfortunate nature of war, and that is why the only solution is to put an end to it.

AFP: Mr. President, some international organisations have accused the government and the opposition of committing abuses. After this war ends, would you be ready for there to be an investigation into these abuses?

President Assad: There is no logic to this claim made by these organisations. How can the Syrian state be killing its own people, and yet it is still standing three years on, despite the fact that there are dozens of countries working against it. Had the Syrian state been killing its people, they would have revolted against it long ago. Such a state could not survive for more than a few months; the fact that it has resisted for three years means that it has popular support. Such talk is more than illogical: it is unnatural. What these organizations are saying is either a reflection of their ignorance of the situation in Syria, or, in some cases, it shows they are following the political agenda of particular states. The Syrian state has always defended its civilians; it is well documented, through all the videos and the photos circulating, that it is the terrorists who are committing massacres and killing civilians everywhere. From the beginning of this crisis, up until today, these organizations do not have a single document to prove that the Syrian government has committed a massacre against civilians anywhere.

AFP: Mr. President, we know of foreign journalists who were kidnapped by the terrorist groups. Are there any foreign journalists in state prisons?

President Assad: It would be best for you to ask the relevant, specialised agencies on this issue. They would be able to give you an answer.

AFP: Would a reconciliation be possible, one day, between Syria on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey on the other?

President Assad: Politics changes constantly, but this change depends on two factors: principles and interests. We share no common principles with the states you mention; these states support terrorism and they have contributed to the bloodshed in Syria. As for interests, we need to ask ourselves: will the Syrian people agree to shared interests with these countries after everything that has happened and all the bloodshed in Syria? I don’t want to answer on behalf of the Syrian people. If the people believe they share interests with these states, and if these states change their policy on supporting terrorism, it is plausible that the Syrian people might agree to restore relations. I can’t individually as President, answer on behalf of all the Syrian people at such a time. This is a decision for the people.

AFP: Mr. President, you were welcomed on the occasion of July 14 (Bastille Day) in the Elysee Palace in Paris. Are you now surprised by France’s position, and do you think France may one day play some kind of role in Syria?

President Assad: No, I am not surprised, because when that reception took place, it was during the period – 2008 to 2011 – where there was an attempt to contain Syria’s role and Syria’s policy. France was charged with this role by the United States when Sarkozy became president. There was an agreement between France and the Bush administration over this, since France is an old friend of the Arabs and of Syria and as such it is better suited to play the role. The requirement at that time was to use Syria against Iran and Hezbollah, and to pull it away from supporting resistance organisations in the region. This French policy failed, because its goal was blatantly obvious. Then the so-called Arab Spring began, and France turned against Syria after it had failed to honour the pledge it had made to the United States. This is the reason behind the French position during that period why it changed in 2011.

As for France’s role in future, let’s talk frankly. Ever since 2001 and the terrorist attacks on New York, there has been no European policy-making to speak of (and that’s if we don’t look back even further to the 1990s). In the West, there is only an American policy, which is implemented by some European countries. This has been the case on all the issues in our region in the past decade.

Today, we see the same thing: either European policy is formulated with American blessing, or American policy is adopted by the Europeans as their own. So, I don’t believe that Europe, and particularly France, which used to lead the European policy in the past, is capable of playing any role in the future of Syria, or in neighbouring countries. There is another reason too, and that is that Western officials have lost their credibility. They no longer have double standards; they have triple and quadruple standards. They have all kinds of standards for every political situation. They have lost their credibility; they have sold their principles in return for interests, and therefore it is impossible to build a consistent policy with them. Tomorrow, they might do the exact opposite of what they are doing today. Because of this, I don’t think that France will play a role in the immediate future, unless it changes its policy completely and from its core and returns to the politically independent state it once was.

AFP: How long do you think Syria needs to rid itself completely of its chemical weapons stockpiles?

President Assad: This depends on the extent to which the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will provide Syria with the necessary equipment to carry out the process. So far, the process of making this equipment available has been quite slow. On the other hand, as you know dismantling and neutralizing the chemical materials is not taking place inside Syria nor by the Syrian state. A number of countries in different parts of the world have accepted to carry out that process; some have agreed to deal with the less dangerous materials, whilst others have refused completely. Since, the time-frame is dependent on these two factors – the role of the OPCW and the countries that accept to neutralize the materials on their territories – it is not for Syria to determine a time-frame on this issue. Syria has honoured its part by preparing and collecting data and providing access to inspectors who verified this data and inspected the chemical agents. The rest, as I said, is up to the other parties.

AFP: Mr. President, what has changed in your and your family’s daily, personal lives? Do your children understand what has happened? Do you talk to them about this?

President Assad: There are a few things that haven’t changed. I go to work as usual, and we live in the same house as before, and the children go to school; these things haven’t changed. On the other hand, there are things which have affected every Syrian household, including mine: the sadness which lives with us every day – all the time, because of what we see and experience, because of the pain, because of the fallen victims everywhere and the destruction of the infrastructure and the economy. This has affected every family in Syria, including my own. There is no doubt that children are affected more deeply than adults in these circumstances. This generation will probably grow up too early and mature much faster as a result of the crisis. There are questions put to you by children about the causes of what’s happening, that you don’t usually deal with in normal circumstances. Why are there such evil people? Why are there victims? It’s not easy to explain these things to children, but they remain persistent daily questions and a subject of discussion in every family, including my own.

AFP: Through these years, what was the most difficult situation you went through?

President Assad: It’s not necessarily a particular situation but rather group of elements. There are several things that were hard to come to terms with, and they are still difficult. The first, I believe, is terrorism; the degree of savagery and inhumanity that the terrorists have reached reminds us of what happened in the Middle Ages in Europe over 500 years ago. In more recent modern times, it reminds us of the massacres perpetrated by the Ottomans against the Armenians when they killed a million and a half Armenians and half a million Orthodox Syriacs in Syria and in Turkish territory. The other aspect that is difficult to understand is the extent of Western officials’ superficiality in their failure to understand what happened in this region, and their subsequent inability to have a vision for the present or for the future. They are always very late in realizing things, sometimes even after the situation has been overtaken by a new reality that is completely different. The third thing that is difficult to understand is the extent of influence of petrodollars in changing roles on the international arena. For instance, how Qatar was transformed from a marginal state to a powerful one, while France has become a proxy state implementing Qatari policies. This is also what we see happening now between France and Saudi Arabia. How can petrodollars make western officials, particularly in France, sell their principles and sell the principles of the French Revolution in return for a few billion dollars? These are only a few things, among others, which are difficult for one to understand and accept.

AFP: The trial of those accused of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri has begun. Do you think it will be a fair trial?

President Assad: Nine years have passed since the beginning of this trial. Has justice been served? Every accusation was made for political reasons. Even in the past few days, we have not seen any tangible proof put forward against the parties involved in the case. The real question should be: why the timing? Why now? This court was set up nine years ago. Have the things produced in the last few days been uncovered only now? I believe that the whole thing is politicized and is intended to put pressure on Hezbollah in Lebanon in the same way that it aimed at putting pressure on Syria in the beginning, immediately after al-Hariri’s assassination.

AFP: You have said the war will end when terrorism is eradicated. But the Syrians and everyone else want to know when this war will end. Within months? After a year? In years to come?

President Assad: We hope that the Geneva conference will be able to provide an answer to part of this by exercising pressure on these countries. This aspect has nothing to do with Syria; otherwise we would have put pressure on these states from the beginning and prevented terrorism from entering Syria. From our side, when this terrorism stops coming in, ending the war will not take more than a few months.

AFP: It appears Western intelligence agencies want to re-open channels of communication with Damascus, in order to ask you for help fighting terrorism. Are you ready for that?

President Assad: There have been meetings with several intelligence agencies from a number of countries. Our response has been that security cooperation cannot be separated from political cooperation, and political cooperation cannot be achieved while these states adopt anti-Syrian policies. This was our answer, brief and clear.

AFP: You have said in the past that the state has made mistakes. In your view, what were the mistakes that could have been avoided?

President Assad: I have said that mistakes can be made in any situation. I did not specify what those mistakes were because this cannot be done objectively until the crisis is behind us and we can assess our experience. Evaluating them whilst we are in the middle of the crisis will only yield limited results.

AFP: Mr. President, without Russia, China and Iran’s help, would you have been able to resist in the face of the wars declared against you?

President Assad: This is a hypothetical question, which I cannot answer, because we haven’t experienced the alternative. Reality has shown that Russian, Chinese and Iranian support has been important and has contributed to Syria’s steadfastness. Without this support, things probably would have been much more difficult. How? It is difficult to draw a hypothetical picture at this stage.

AFP: After all that has happened, can you imagine another president rebuilding Syria?

President Assad: If this is what the Syrian people want, I don’t have a problem with it. I am not the kind of person who clings to power. In any case, should the Syrian people not want me to be president, obviously there will be somebody else. I don’t have a personal problem with this issue.

Thank you very much Mr. President.

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran, Syria and the Tragicomedy of U.S. Foreign Policy

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Going to Tehran | January 20, 2014 

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States and we urge our readers to re-read a piece we wrote previously honoring his extraordinary insight.  It is also the day on which implementation of the Joint Plan of Action that the P5+1 and Iran announced on November 24 formally commences.  And, of course, two days from now, the Geneva II conference on the Syrian conflict is scheduled to take place.

In anticipation of the beginning of implementation of the Joint Plan of Action, negotiations on prospective “final” nuclear deal, and the Geneva II conference, Hillary taped an interview with Scott Horton for Pacifica Radio.  It was broadcast/posted yesterday; click here to listen.

Regarding President Obama’s ongoing struggle with the Senate over Iran policy, Hillary cautions against premature claims of “victory” for the Obama administration’s efforts to avert new sanctions legislation while the Joint Plan of Action is being implemented.  She points out that “the foes of the Iran nuclear deal, of any kind of peace and conflict resolution in the Middle East writ large, are still very strong and formidable.  For example, the annual AIPAC policy conference—a gathering here in Washington of over 10,000 people from all over the country, where they come to lobby congressmen and senators, especially on the Iran issue—that will be taking place in very early March.  There’s still a lot that can be pushed and played here.”

To be sure, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry “have put a lot of political capital on the line.”  No other administration has so openly staked out its opposition to a piece of legislation or policy initiative favored by AIPAC and backed by a bipartisan majority on Capitol Hill since the 1980s, when the Reagan administration successfully defended its decision to sell AWACs planes to Saudi Arabia.  But, Hillary notes, if the pro-Israel lobby is able to secure a vote on the new sanctions bill, and to sustain the promised veto of said bill by President Obama, “that would be such a dramatic blow to President Obama, and not just on his foreign policy agenda, but it would be devastating to his domestic agenda.”  So Obama “has a tremendous amount to lose, and by no means is the fight anywhere near over.”

Of course, to say that Obama has put a lot of political capital on the line over the sanctions issue begs the question of whether he is really prepared to spend the far larger amounts of capital that will be required to close a final nuclear deal with Tehran.  As Hillary points out, if Obama were “really trying to lead this country on a much more constructive, positive trajectory after failed wars and invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya—Libya entirely on President Obama’s watch—[he] would be doing a lot more, rather than just giving these lukewarm talks, basically trying to continue to kiss up to major pro-Israel constituencies, and then trying to bring in some of political favors” on Capitol Hill.

Compare Obama’s handling of Iran and other Middle East challenges to President Nixon’s orchestration of the American opening to China—including Nixon’s willingness to “break the crockery” of the pro-Taiwan lobby—and the inadequacy of Obama’s approach become glaringly apparent.  And that, Hillary underscores, is why we wrote our book, Going to Tehran—because “we think it’s absolutely essential for President Obama to do what Nixon did and go to Tehran, as Nixon went to China,” for “the Middle East is the make-or-break point for the United States, not just in our foreign affairs but in our global economic power and what we’re able to do here at home.  If we can’t get what we’re doing in the Middle East on a much better, more positive trajectory, not only will we see the loss of our power, credibility, and prestige in the Middle East, but we will see it globally.”

Getting the nuclear issue right is, arguably, just one piece of the project of realigning U.S.-Iranian relations—but it is a uniquely critical piece.  As Hillary notes, in Iran, “they see reaching a nuclear deal with the United States as absolutely essential [to any prospect of broader realignment]—even though they absolutely believe it is a ‘show’ issueFor if they could get the United States to accept the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear capability, this is the essential step to getting it to accept Iran as an independent, sovereign power.”  Of course, that is something Western governments have been manifestly unwilling to do for decades, going back even decades before the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  For the Iranians, “if they can get the United States to recognize their independence and sovereignty through this nuclear deal, recognizing Iran’s right to nuclear capability, that’s [how] you can open the way to go forward.”

But, “if negotiations with the United States fail, the thinking in Iran—and I was just there a couple of months ago—is that this will show both Iranians inside Iran and (this is critically important) countries like China, in other emerging markets…that Iran was the rational actor hereIran tried its best to work within a framework of international law, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it was the United States, as it has treated key countries in the Middle East for decades, that was unwilling to work within the parameters of international law and to recognize basic sovereign and treaty rightsThat’s their Plan B—if the United States can’t do the deal, they still come out ahead in terms of important actors both at home and abroad.”

On Syria, Hillary suggests that the growing Western focus on al-Qa’ida-like jihadis in opposition ranks obscures a much more important point—even if al-Qa’ida-like elements had not permeated the opposition, why does the United States think it should be supporting armed rebels to overthrow the recognized government of a UN member state?  As Hillary recounts, “This didn’t work in Iraq (before al-Qa’ida was there; of course, now al-Qa’ida is there, after we said we had a dog in that fight), it didn’t work in Libya, it didn’t work in AfghanistanThe idea that when we choose to become involved in a fight, it’s going to turn out to help us is just not borne out by history, but we continue to make the mistake.”

As for an appropriate American approach to the Syrian conflict and other Middle Eastern challenges, Hillary says that the United States shouldn’t just “go home and essentially be isolationist.  I believe very much in free trade, and I believe very much in diplomacy and conflict resolution.  And there does need to be real conflict resolution in Syria.”  In this regard,

“We have a real asset in Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy.  He has worked on exactly these kinds of problems in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Somalia, in Haiti, and in Afghanistan, where I worked with him personally for about two years.  And in each of those situations, he didn’t come up with a fantastic, Pollyanna government for each of these places.  But he has a core formula [that] would really help to stop the destabilization and killing that we see in Syria, which is:  you work with the sitting government, and you work with forces on the ground to gradually bring them into not a liberal democracy, but into a much more representative and inclusive power-sharing arrangement…You’re not going to get great ‘good governance,’ with no corruption and fantastic human rights treatment—but you will, over time, have a much more stable environment, where far fewer people are killed, and the opportunity for that country to politically reconstitute itself along its own lines, its own values, and its own position in the world.”

Hillary’s interview preceded the tragicomic antics surrounding UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s invitation to Iran to participate in Geneva II—which Ban spinelessly rescinded less than 24 hours later after tantrum-like outbursts from the Syrian National Council and (more consequentially) strategically witless (and utterly predictable) pressure from the Obama administration.  Clearly, the Brahimi formula is not going to be given a chance to work in Syria anytime soon—but something like it will probably prove critical to any eventual political settlement to the conflict there.

In the interview, Hillary also discusses Iran’s internal political dynamics regarding a possible improvement in relations with the United States, the strategic incoherence of Israeli and Saudi opposition to any U.S. opening to the Islamic Republic, continuing Western mythmaking about Iran’s “nuclear weapons” program, and more.

Finally, as the Joint Plan of Action formally goes into effect, we want to call attention to two recent posts on Dan Joyner’s Arms Control Law that do an excellent job criticizing some of the more egregious distortions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and international law more generally that various American pundits have advanced in their bloviations about the Joint Plan.  One, see here, lambastes Orde Kittrie’s assertion that the implementing agreement for the Joint Plan—not the Joint Plan itself, mind you, but the implementing agreement—is actually a secret treaty; the other, see here, takes on the chronically wrong Ray Takeyh.  His latest missive, misrepresenting the Additional Protocol to the NPT, is co-authored by Mitchell Reiss, who appeared in advertisements publicly advocating for the MEK—many of whose advocates acknowledge receiving at least $20,000 per endorsement—while the U.S. government still designated it as a foreign terrorist organization.

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

The real causes of the catastrophic crisis in Greece and the “Left”

By Takis Fotopoulos | The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 9, Nos. 1/2 (2013)

1. The integration of Greece into the EU is the real cause of its catastrophic crisis

The almost complete destruction of the lower classes in Greece is not due to the causes usually attributed to it by the “Left”. 1  In fact, contrary to the misleading “explanations” provided by this Left and the Right alike, the actual cause is the full integration of the Greek economy into neoliberal globalization, through its accession into the EU. This has meant the complete transformation of Greece into an economic and political protectorate of the Transnational Elite.2 The catalyst for this crisis was Greece’s unofficial default, which, however, was merely the consequence of the destruction of its production structure, as a result of the opening, and liberalization of markets imposed by the EU, following Greece’s entry in 1981. It is therefore no wonder that both the Left (apart from the Communist Left) and the Right––in fact, the entire Greek establishment––are fully united in not challenging the main cause of the present economic destruction: Greece’s membership in the EU.

In other words, contrary to the deceptive pre-election promises of SYRIZA, (which is an organic part of the Euro-left that has just chosen its leader, A. Tsipras, as its candidate for president of the EU Commission), there is no way that an EU/EMU Member State could refuse to apply the policies imposed by neoliberal globalization, as borne out by History with Mitterrand, Lafontaine, Hollande, et. al.  It is equally disorienting to state, as SYRIZA does, that, if elected to power, it would revert the catastrophic legislation imposed by the well known ‘Troika’ (representing the IMF, the EU and the ECB) in the past three years or so.

The above deceptive promises are based on the myth that neoliberalism is some kind of a mistaken ideology or a doctrine 3 upheld by “bad” politicians such as Thatcher, Merkel, Blair, etc. However, neoliberal globalization is, in fact, a systemic phenomenon implying, also, that the EU members’ economic growth does not rely anymore mainly on the domestic market but on the international market (within the EU and without) and that it is the Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) that control world production and trade, and–– through the Transnational Elite 4 ––the international political, military and cultural institutions.  So, only if the EU governments were taken over by the Euro-Left and they then forced the TNCs based in EU to operate solely within the EU area––imposing in the process strict social controls on the movement of capital and commodities from the other economic blocks (i.e. those of the Far East and America)––only then could the European economy be indifferent to its own level of competitiveness and live in the Euro-Left’s nirvana, happily ever after. In fact, however, EU is moving in exactly the opposite direction of further integration within the New World Order (NWO) defined by neoliberal globalization! This is clearly shown by the current negotiations between EU and US for a Transatlantic Free Trade Area.

2. Capitalist globalization can only be neoliberal

The Euro-elites simply cannot afford to lose more of their competitiveness. In fact, the real reason for the creation of EU and later of the Eurozone had nothing to do with the ideals of freedom, democracy, human values and the rest of its ideology, as EU’s history has clearly shown. It was the growing gap in competitiveness (in terms of EU’s share of world exports) during the 1980s, which led the Euro-elites to speed up the integration procedures, which were mostly dormant up to then. The EU economic failure was clearly due to the fact that the competitiveness of its commodities was increasing at much slower rates than those of is competitors, particularly in the low cost countries of the Far East.  5 As supporters of the EU and its integration were claiming at the time, only a market of continental dimensions could provide the security and the economies of scale that were necessary for the survival of the European capital in the hyper-competitive global market that was just emerging at the time.

However, despite the high degree of integration achieved by the ‘Single European Act’ in the 1990s, and even despite the creation of the Eurozone, its decline in competiveness continued. Thus, whereas the share of Euro-exports to world exports was 35.8% in 1990, ten years later, it has fallen to 29.7% and by 2010 it has fallen further to 26.3%! 6  In other words, within two decades, the Eurozone countries have lost more than a quarter of their competitiveness, measured in terms of their share in world exports. Although the Euro-elites are well aware of the fact that a significant part of their ‘loss’ of exports is, in fact, due to their de-industrialization­­––because of the move of industrial capital by the TNCs (most of them based in the metropolitan countries including the Eurozone ones) towards the low-cost paradises of China, India and the rest–– this is obviously no consolation to their own workers (and electorates), which benefit very little (if at all!) by globalization!

The present EU policies therefore, are not the result of a conspiracy or a satanic plot of the elites to exploit further the European workers but simply of the fact that the opening and liberalization of markets required by globalization, so that TNCs could expand their activities further, inevitably led to the present neoliberal policies implemented by every country fully integrated into the New World Order. To put it simply, globalization in a capitalist world can only be neoliberal and the rest is mythology adopted by today’s bankrupt world “Left”––apart from the genuine (but diminishing) anti-systemic Left.

3. Competitiveness is the rule

If, therefore, we accept the premise that the Euro-elites have no other option but to improve their competitiveness within the globalized economy, the next question is how competitiveness can be improved. There are two main ways in which a country’s competitiveness could improve: either by changing relative prices; i.e. squeezing the prices of locally produced commodities with respect to those produced abroad by squeezing wages and salaries, or by improving productivity of locally produced commodities, which may lead to lower cost of production without reducing real wages and salaries or to better quality products, etc. Changing relative prices in the former way is the easy solution, as it could be implemented, almost at a stroke, in case a country controls its own currency and Greece itself has repeatedly resorted to devaluation policies in the post-war period to improve, temporarily, its competitiveness. In case, however, a country does not control its currency, as is the case of Greece in the Eurozone, the only other option, given its historically low level of labor productivity because of the lack of investment in research and development, is the presently implemented policy of squeezing wages and salaries in the hope that the cost of production will fall accordingly. In fact, the level of Greek productivity of labor, for instance, has always been historically much lower than that of the Eurozone (in 2006 it was just 77% of the average Eurozone one7, something which is not that much peculiar if we take into account the fact that the proportion of productive investments to the GNP is much higher in the European ‘North’ than in the ‘South’ in general and Greece in particular.

So, if we start with the premise that the uneven levels of competitiveness and productivity are unavoidable in an economic union like the EU, which consists of countries at highly different levels of development (as they have been historically formed within a very uneven development process like the capitalist one), then we may easily understand the causes of the crisis in countries like Greece. The fact, therefore, that a Eurozone country like Greece, facing a problem of low competitiveness, cannot devalue its currency (i.e. change its relative prices without the need for suppressing domestic wages and incomes) is not the cause of the crisis. This may be the cause of a similar competitiveness crisis of an advanced capitalist country like Germany but not of a country like Greece where low competitiveness is a development problem. Particularly so, when the Greek entry to the EU and later to the Eurozone had, itself, significantly exacerbated the development problem by effectively dismantling the productive structure of the country, as its infant industry and agriculture were not capable to compete with the imported commodities, following the opening and liberalization of markets imposed by the Single Market. Under these conditions, even a Greek exit from the Euro and a devaluation of the drachma that will be re-introduced in its aftermath, could only have temporary effects on Greek competitiveness, unless mass investment in its productive structure takes place at the same time, which is far from guaranteed in an internationalized market economy.

4. The EU as a mechanism to transfer surplus from its “South” to its “North

In other words, competitiveness at the core Euro countries, which are characterized by higher levels of labor productivity than in the South, mainly depends on keeping wages and prices under control, so that German commodities continue to be competitive (because of their higher quality and so on) compared to similar commodities produced in East Asia and beyond. On the other hand, competiveness in the European periphery, which consist of countries with lower levels of labor productivity, like Greece, mainly depends on improving productivity through new investment on R&D.  Therefore, the competitiveness problem in the South is mainly a development  problem and refers to the need of creating a strong productive base, which will not be formed within the process of uneven capitalist development (as today), but within a process of social control of the economy to create a self-reliant economy.

Yet, despite the fundamental difference concerning the causes of low competitiveness between the “North” and the “South” of the EU, in the framework of the post-Maastricht Europe, a common policy was adopted for all member countries––a policy that was determined by the needs and the interests of the North. Thus, the Single Market did not mean the unification of peoples, as the EU propaganda presented it, not even the unification of states, but simply the unification of free markets. ‘Free markets’, however mean not only open markets (i.e. the unhibited movement of commodities, capital and labour), but also flexible markets (i.e. the elimination of any obstacle  in the free formation of prices and wages, as well the restriction of state role in the control of economic activity, which implies the drastic restriction of the element of ‘national economy’. This was the essence of the neoliberal globalization characterizing the new institutional framework of the EU; i.e., that the state control of the domestic market of each member state (which was drastically restricted within the Single Market of 1992) was not replaced  by a corresponding EU control of it, apart from some (mostly nuissance) regulations on uniformity, etc. In other words, the new institutions aimed at the maximization of the freedom of organized capital, whose concentration was facilitated in any way possible, and the minimization of the  freedom of  organized labor, whose co-ordination was restricted in any way possible and mainly through the unemployment threat.

If Germany is indeed the country which was on the receiving end of the greatest benefits from joining EU and the Eurozone, whereas the countries of the European South received the least benefits out of it, this was far from accidental or due to the bad designing of the Eurozone as post-Keynesians and other reformists (including the Euro-Left!) argue. When the Eurozone was institutionalized at the beginning of the new millennium Germany already enjoyed relatively high levels of labor productivity and competitiveness and the new currency essentially has ‘frozen’ the relative deviations between the advanced North of the Eurozone and the much less advanced South (parts of which were, in fact, underdeveloped). Then, the Single Market itself, under conditions of a common currency, brought about a relative equalization of commodity prices and a certain increase in wages in the South, as workers were struggling to maintain the real value of wages and at the same time to narrow the gap in wages with Northern workers. On the other hand, German employers were in a much better position to suppress wage rises because of the difference in labor productivity they enjoyed due to advanced technology and investment in R&D, but also due to better relative prices. As Wolfgang Münchau put it, “Germany entered the Eurozone at an uncompetitive exchange rate and embarked on a long period of wage moderation. Macroeconomists would say Germany benefited from a real devaluation against other members”.8  If we add to this, that the countries in the South no longer had the power to devalue their currencies, whereas Germany did not have any need to devalue its currency as long as it could keep wage rises in pace with labor productivity increases, then we can understand why (and how) the Eurozone essentially functions as an economic mechanism to transfer economic surplus from the countries of the European South to those in the North and particularly Germany.

5. The disorienting role of the “Left”

The obvious conclusion is that it is impossible to take any radical measures to exit from the current economic (and not only!) disaster, without a unilateral exit from the EU along with a cancelation of the debt (for which the people were never asked anyway), as well as the discarding of all legislation imposed by the Troika and the adoption at the same time of the necessary geostrategic changes. Only this way, Greece could retrieve the minimum required economic and national sovereignty for a strategy for economic self-reliance, which is necessary for the permanent exit from the crisis, through building a new productive structure to meet its needs.

This means that the views that we could implement another policy even within the Eurozone, as SYRIZA suggests, or that it would suffice to exit from the Euro (without the parallel direct and unilateral exit from the EU) to implement a radically different economic strategy (as other Left organizations suggest), are completely misleading. This is because, as I tried to show above, the cause of the present economic catastrophe in Greece is neither the austerity policies of the Troika, as the supporters of the former view claim, nor the poor design (and implementation) of the Euro that led us to deficits and massive debt, as argued by the supporters of the latter view.9

Thus, supporters of the former view (Laskos and Tsakalotos), in fact, reproduce the myths of an obsolete internationalism according to which the struggle of the European proletariat within the EU will reverse the austerity policies, despite the fact that, after almost five years of economic crushing of the popular strata, there has not been even a single (“official” or unofficial) European strike against these policies! On the other hand, the supporters of the latter view (Flassbeck and Lapavitsas), acting as the “Plan B” of the Euro-elite––in case it is forced to expel (temporarily or permanently) Greece from the Eurozone––argue for a Greek exit from the Euro, but not from the EU. However, in both cases, the failure of the proposed policies can be taken for granted, although the consequences will not be identical.

Thus, in the first scenario of a SYRIZA-based government (which looks likely following the Euro elections that could well function as a catalyst for general elections) it is a matter of time for its failure to become evident, if it insists on its pro-EU and pro-Euro policy. Despite its present rhetoric, it would simply have to follow the same economic policies as the present government, perhaps with a minor relaxation of austerity policies (assuming that the Euro-elites will find a way to cancel part of the Debt to make the rest of it payable). As markets will remain open and liberalized under a Syriza government (the party never challenged this fundamental tenet of neoliberal globalization), labor markets will also continue to be flexible. However, open and liberalized markets mean:

  • wages and salaries will be kept at around their present minimum levels, or, at least, these levels will be the basis for any future increases strictly linked to productivity rises;
  • Public Health and Education will never recover from their present dismantling, as the government will have to continue implementing the present Eurozone strict fiscal policies to keep budget deficits under strict controls;
  • the selling out of the social wealth of Greece, following privatizations of essential services like electricity, water, transport, ports and airports, communications (and now even Greek islands!) will not be reversed, making the implementation of any effective social policy to protect the victims of globalization impossible;
  • Unemployment may marginally fall from the present almost 30% of the working population (and 60% of young people) only to the extent that foreign investors will be attracted by the present extremely low wages/salaries and the ‘political stability’ that SYRIZA might secure. However, given the strong competition on this front by other low-wage countries in the Balkans and beyond (East Asia), unemployment is bound to be stabilized at very high levels for any foreseeable future, with young Greeks having either to work in Greece’s “heavy industry” (as the establishment calls tourism) or emigrate.

Clearly, this Latin-Americanization (or Balkanization) of the Greek economy will become permanent under SYRIZA’s pro-EU policy, and in the elections to follow a (likely brief) period of SYRIZA in power, the party will probably have the fate of the social democratic party PASOK, which has effectively been demolished. In fact, this would simply be the belated end of the Euro-Left in Greece, following the similar end of this kind of “Left” in the rest of Europe, in the era of globalization. Yet, the International “Left” is unable to see all this and would be ready to celebrate the possible victory of SYRIZA in the next elections,10 whereas Leo Panitch, (writing for the well known international “Left” newspaper which fully supported all the criminal wars of the Transnational Elite in the last two decades) is so enthusiastic about the new kind of ‘progressive’ reform SYRIZA represents that he became almost lyrical when reading that Tsipras “spoke in terms of the ‘historic opportunity’ that now exists for a left alternative to the current capitalist ‘European model’. 11 This, at the very moment when the same Tsipras is also indirectly praised by the New York Times, the leading organ of the Transnational Elite, presumably as a ‘serious’ Left politician worthy of its trust, compared to the ‘loony left’ they so despise:

“Mr. Tsipras…has backed away from past rhetoric about abandoning the euro and said he does not want Greece to drop out of the 18-country zone that uses the currency. But he does want a fundamental reworking of the terms of Greece’s bailout funds, worth 240 billion euros, or about $328 billion.“Our intention is to change the framework, not smash the euro”, he said.12

On the other hand, in the case of the second scenario; i.e., of a Left government that decides a Greek exit from the Euro (but stays in the EU), the image would be much more blurred, as the reintroduction and significant devaluation of the reintroduced drachma would initially bring in some positive results. But, these would be completely temporary, unless they were accompanied by a parallel radical restructuring of the productive structure, based on social decisions and not left to the market forces, as both scenarios implicitly or explicitly assume. And this brings us back to the need for a strategy of self-reliance that presupposes a Greek exit from both the Euro and the EU.

The main reason why both approaches are not only wrong, but also completely misleading, is that they are not based on the fact that the current devastating crisis is due to structural reasons having everything to do with the uneven capitalist development process, which is further exacerbated in the era of neoliberal globalization and the consequent policies implemented by the EU, and very little to do with the broader financial crisis 13, austerity policies, or the debt itself and the ways to deal with it.

Thus, as far as austerity policies are concerned, it is obvious that they are a consequence and not the cause of the devastating crisis. The solution, therefore, to the “problem” is not just the redistribution of income at the expense of profits and in favor of wages, as (supposedly is the conclusion drawn by a “Marxist” kind of analysis), as this inequality is nothing new but an inherent characteristic of the capitalist system. Unsurprisingly, despite growing world inequality during the era of neoliberal globalization, the system has enjoyed a sustained period of expansion throughout this period, with world GDP rising at an average 2.9% in the 1990s and 3.2% in the period up to the beginning of the latest financial crisis (2000-08). 14 Furthermore, the only case that a systematic redistribution of income against the rich took place in a capitalist system was when the tax burden was shifted to the rich during the social democratic period (approx. 1945-1975). However, this kind of redistribution is simply not feasible anymore in the NWO of Neoliberal Globalization, since Trans-national Corporations can easily move to tax havens like Ireland, India, etc. leaving massive unemployment and poverty behind them.

Yet, neither the deficits and the consequent debts were created by reckless fiscal policies nor, as more sophisticated variations on the same theme maintain, because of the fact that the German elite were suppressing wage rises at a time when the other elites in the Eurozone, and particularly the elites in the Euro periphery, were doing the exact opposite. This policy, according to the same argument, had created an artificial competitive advantage and consequent Balance of Payments (BP) surpluses in Germany and, vice versa in the European South; i.e., low competitiveness and BP deficits. This, in turn, had led to excessive borrowing by the peripheral countries, (made easy by the fact that it was backed up by a strong currency, the Euro) up to the moment that the fiscal “bubble” burst, when the consequent shortage of liquidity made lending to these countries much tighter, leading to the well known debt crises in countries like Greece. Not surprisingly, the Euro-elite, has just decided to adopt an even tighter economic control of the Euro-members, through the Banking Union. 15

6. Concluding remarks

The crucial, therefore, issue arising is the following one: can a small Euro-peripheral country like Greece afford not to implement the policies of neoliberal globalization today? Or, should, (as the present “Left” suggests), the millions of unemployed and poor wait for a radical change in the balance of forces in the EU and the Eurozone, so that a new pan-European Left government proceeds with the ‘progressive’ reforms suggested by its supporters? Alternatively, should they better wait for a new socialist revolution in order to proceed with genuine socialist policies, as suggested by the dwindling anti-capitalist Left? My sympathies would, of course, be (as have always been) for an anti-systemic Left, as it is the only one which struggles against its full integration into the system and the NWO. Yet, it is obvious to me that, today,  this Left is no less millenarian than the integrated into the system “Left”, and as such is equally useless to the victims of globalization, who every day lose even more of their hope for any better future, many of them increasingly resorting to suicide.

Under these conditions, it is clear to me that only if a country broke away from the internationalized market economy and pursued a policy of self-reliance, it could retrieve the necessary degree of economic and therefore national sovereignty, so that it is the people who will be determining the economic process; i.e., which economic and social needs are met and how, instead of leaving this life-and-death issue to ‘market forces’ and the Social Darwinism they inevitably imply. This, for a country like Greece would imply the need for the creation ‘from below’ of a Popular Front for Social and National Liberation 16  (instead of relying on the professional politicians of the “Left” or of the Right), which will formulate a program for the radical changes needed to achieve the short term aim of restoring full social control on all markets, unilaterally cancelling the Debt and all related legislation imposed by the Troika, as well as a unilateral exit from the EU. Although socialization of the banking system and of the de-nationalized industries, particularly those covering basic needs (energy, water, transport, communication, etc.) will be necessary even at this early stage, yet, the medium-term aim will have to be economic self-reliance, so that the basic needs of all citizens are met through the rebuilding of the economic structure according to social needs rather than according to market demand. On the other hand, the issue of the systemic change; i.e., whether Greece would be in the future a state-socialist society, an Inclusive Democracy,17 or a radical kind of social democracy, will be determined by the people themselves at a later stage once the present crucial problems concerning their survival have been sorted out.

In fact, Greece will not be alone in such a struggle against the NWO and neoliberal globalization. Not only the peoples in other countries in the European periphery and beyond would follow its example when they realize that there is a way out of the present catastrophe, HERE and NOW, but also the peoples who already fight against neoliberal globalization would also join the common struggle against the New World Order of neoliberal globalization. In fact, this struggle is already intensifying from Latin America (Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, et. al.) up to the Eurasian peoples of the ex-USSR, and the peoples in the Arab countries (I do not, of course, mean the pseudo-revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt or the engineered insurrections in Libya and Syria),18  who shed their blood every day in the struggle for their national and social liberation.



[1] See e.g. the recent book by two members of the SYRIZA  leadership, ( one of them a member of Parliament representing the party), Christos Laskos and Euclid Tsakalotos, Crucible of Resistance: Greece, the Eurozone and the World Economic Crisis, (Pluto Press, Sept. 2013).

[2] Takis Fotopoulos, “Greece: The implosion of the systemic crisis”, The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Winter 2010); see, also, Greece as a protectorate of the transnational elite, (Athens: Gordios, November 2010).

[3] see e.g. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine:The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, (London: Penguin, 2008).

[4] see for the meaning and significance of the Transnational Elite in administering the NWO, Takis Fotopoulos, Subjugating the Middle East: Integration into the New World Order Vol. 1: Pseudo-Democratization, (Progressive Press, 2014), Part I.

[5] Thus, whereas the EU share of world exports was stagnant between 1979 and 1989 , the US share increased by 3.5% and the Far Eastern share increased by a massive 48% ,(World Bank, World Deνelopment Report 1991, Table 14).

[6] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002, (Table 4.5) & World Development Indicators 2012, (Table 4.4).

[7] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2008, Table 2.4.

[8] Wolfgang Münchau, “Germany’s rebound is no cause for cheer”, Financial Times, 29/8/2010.

[9] Heiner Flassbeck and Costas Lapavitsas, Left-Wing Strategies to Solve the Euro Crisis, (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation:: Berlin, May 2013, and full version in The systemic crisis of the euro – true causes and effective therapies”.  

[10] See e.g. Andreas Bieler, Crucible of Resistance: Class Struggle Over Ways Out of the Crisis”, Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 926 January 10, 2014; Reproduced also in Global Research.

[11] Leo Panitch, “Europe’s left has seen how capitalism can bite back” , The Guardian, 13/1/2014.

[12] Andrew Higgins, “Opposition Dissent Tempers Greek Attempts at Optimism”,

The New York Times, 12/1/2014.

[13] Takis Fotopoulos, The myths about the economic crisis, the reformist Left and economic democracy”, The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 4, No. 4, (October 2008).

[14] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2010, Table 4.1.

[15] ‘Big step’ reached in rescue plan for eurozone banks, BBC News, 12/12/2013; See, also, Maria Snytkova, “European countries lose bank sovereignty”, English Pravda, 2012/2013

[16] see Takis Fotopoulos, “Neoliberal Globalization and the need for popular fronts for national and social liberation”, The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 9, No. 1/2 (2013), (under publication).

[17] Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, (London/NY: Cassell /Continuum, 1997/1998).

[18] Takis Fotopoulos, Subjugating the Middle East: Integration into the New World Order – Vol. 2, Engineered Insurrections, (Progressive Press, 2014).

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Terrorist Blast Rocks Dahiyeh’s Haret Hreik

PressTV Videos · January 21, 2014

Two car bombs have gone off in a southern neighborhood of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, killing several people.

The explosions on Tuesday hit the Haret Hriek neighborhood in southern Beirut, which is considered as a stronghold of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah.

Reports say that at least four people have been killed and another 46 have been injured.

The al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra front has claimed responsibility on its twitter page for the bombings.

Hezbollah’s al-Manar television channel said the bombings hit a busy commercial street.

The neighborhood was also targeted by a deadly car bombing on January 2.

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Video, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Geneva II talks on Syria not aimed at regime change: Russia

PressTV Videos | January 21, 2014

As the Geneva Two conference on Syria is drawing closer, the gap is widening among participants.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that based on the Russian-US initiative, the conference is NOT aimed at bringing about regime change in Syria, but it seeks to launch an inter-Syrian dialog. The US, however, is pushing ahead with its own interpretation, saying that the Syrian government should give up power. Meanwhile, tensions are running high among Syrian opposition groups. After the UN excluded the main regional player, Iran, from the talks, the Syrian National Coalition confirmed that it will take part in the conference. But the largest bloc within the coalition has boycotted the negotiations. Meanwhile, Lavrov has described the one-day event as largely ceremonial, raising doubts about any tangible results.

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Video | , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian Declaration

By Nahida Izzat | January 19, 2014

An invitation to All Palestinians and their supporters to unite under the banner of LIBERATION, affirming our Inalienable Rights and clarifying our aims and aspirations to ourselves and to the world For the sake of historical truth, and for defending, preserving and protecting the rights of future Palestinian children, we present this document:

  • Whereas, no foreign government, international institution or individual, has any form of legitimacy or jurisdiction to dispossess any other Nation by distributing their land and property,
  • Whereas, all colonial dealings regarding Palestine, whether by the “League of Nations” or the subsequent land confiscations by British colonial forces, as well as coerced transactions by early Zionists, did not invalidate the irrefutable fact that Palestine is the sole indigenous representative of all people of Palestine, settled and anchored culturally to the land since time immemorial,
  • Whereas, the religious component of Palestine’s cultural heritage is the central heritage for 31% of people who are Christians, 23 % who are Muslims, and  0.2 % who are Jews. Therefore, Jewish Zionists arguably attempted to usurp and destroy the heritage of almost 55% of humankind, namely Christians and Muslims, contrary to historical Palestinian society, known for its social cohesion, irrespective of religion, and for protecting all monuments and all worshipers of all faiths, prior to the Jewish-zionist invasion,
  • Whereas, we the Palestinian Nation, the sole indigenous people of historic Palestine, had neither been consulted with, nor did we agree to or undersign any partition of our homeland, Palestine, when the UN put partition to the vote in the General Assembly in 1948. The UN has never done so again,
  • Whereas, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution (181) recommending the adoption and implementation of the Partition Plan, allocating to “Israel” a defined area significantly smaller than the areas was overridden by Zionist Terror groups such as Irgun and Haganah, using ethnic cleansing, genocidal massacres, and massive destruction of over 530 Biblical villages and cities in the spring of 1948,
  • Whereas, the admission of “Israel” to the UN was conditional on its implementation of Resolutions 194, i.e., ceasing aggression and allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as well as implementing Resolution 181 of the partition plan, (which Israel did not commit itself to any specific action or timeframe, and later rejected the resolutions all together),
  • Whereas, the decision to partition Palestine was never passed through the UN Security Council, which renders it non-binding, (serving only as advisory),
  • Whereas, Zionism, as materialised and manifested by the Jewish state of “Israel”, is a colonial settler ideology, advocating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and confiscating their properties, abrogating their basic rights, and establishing an exclusive Jewish state in Historic Palestine,
  • Whereas, seven decades on, Jewish-Zionist terrorism, massacres, torture, imprisonment of civilian populations, torture of children, collective punishment, theft, land robbery, destruction of cultural heritage, ethnic cleansing, and slow-motion genocide, have only intensified,
  • Whereas, their offspring have had a full century (since the beginning of the first Jewish-Zionist invasion) to learn to coexist peacefully; yet they, along with the new-comers, choose to continue on the same path of aggression, oppression, exclusivity, and racism,
  • Whereas, the vast majority of Palestinians have been living in forced exile, forbidden to exercise their basic Human Right of Returning to their homes in their own homeland, and denied their basic human right of holding their National Identity,
  • Whereas, the entire humanity has the moral maturity which makes it unacceptable to acquire land and property by wars of conquest and aggression,
  • Whereas, we the Palestinian Nation have been victims of almost one century of insanely sadistic cruelty, assassinations of pregnant mothers, torture of children, psycho-terror, loss of land, loss of peace, security and independence, loss of health, destruction of our architectural and archeological cultural heritage, loss of collective and personal property, loss of economic means (i.e. loss of earning and sustenance), all at the hands and policies of a foreign and psychopathic body of Jewish Zionist terrorists and their international network of accomplices, for more than seven decades,
  • Whereas, myriads of Jewish-Zionist funds and foundations continue to raise and collect sums in the billions from international Jewish communities, to finance (either overtly or covertly) the destruction of our nation and our homeland, by means of a full spectrum destruction, be it genocide, be it destruction of landscape, be it destruction of architectural and cultural heritage, be it imprisonment and torture of children, be it systematic programs of assassination of social and political leader, be it use of toxic weapons,
  • Whereas, calling “Israel” a mere apartheid system which could be “fixed” with some cosmetic arrangements, such as granting Palestinians “Israeli” citizenship to “upgrade” their status from “occupied” to “slaves” in their own homeland, and demanding marginal improvement of the treatment of Palestinians, does not constitute in any form or shape a realistic approach enabling a viable project wherein even the most elementary basis of Justice could be established,
  • Whereas, participating in absolving individuals guilty of Crimes Against Humanity and other ongoing crimes since over seven decades, and whitewashing these crimes, is not only a betrayal to all things human and moral, but also is the fertile ground for justifying future repetition and amplification of such crimes,

For those reasons, we hereby, the undersigned Palestinians and our supporters affirm the following:

Palestine is located from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan and cannot be divided, leased, given away or sold.

Palestinians, whether living in any part of historic Palestine or in forced exile, are one people and shall not be divided.

The Palestinian Nation is the only one owning the land of Palestine, with the human right of full and unrestrained sovereignty over our historic land, Palestine.

That the “Nakba” with its massacres and daily atrocities, continues to this day, beginning with the forceful uprooting of our people by terror organizations such as Irgun and Haganah in 1948.

The lapse of time since the beginning or this “Nakba” (the word means “catastrophe”) does not diminish our inalienable rights in Palestine, including the inalienable right to return to our homes and properties, and to participate in the re-building and development of our society and its institutions, and adopt any political, economic and Judicial system we Palestinians would chose.

Our people inside and outside of Palestine form one Nation, and yearn for their reunification in their ancestral homeland, Palestine.

Contrary to the defamation we have been subjected to, we have always been an extremely tolerant nation, and we yearn to restore this quality to our land and country, for the benefit of all humankind, irrespective of religion or cultural origin.

We Palestinians, just as any other nation under attack and occupied, have the ultimate and unabridged right to define our aims, choose our strategy and tactics of resistance suitable for achieving our liberation from our oppressor, and the reinstatement of our rights, and establishing diplomatic and commercial relations with neighboring countries and beyond.

Palestinians have the moral and legal right to pursue the legal prosecution of the usurpers and destroyers of our land within the recognized international laws. It is ominously dangerous for everyone’s security, to refuse to prosecute perpetrators of terrorism, crimes against humanity, atrocities, and the systematic fomenting of wars and racial and religious hatred. It is ominously dangerous to step back from such prosecution under the ludicrous grounds that the perpetrators would merit leniency on grounds of being Jewish.

Only the Palestinian people through our legitimate institutions and elected representatives can speak for our rights and aspirations.

No organization, party, group or individual is empowered to cede our rights to historic Palestine. In fact, we explicitly express here our intention, as soon as we recover our rights, to prosecute anyone who engaged or attempted to cede land and rights without having any mandate to do so.

Only the Palestinian people gathered in Palestine and in exile can determine their future and the future of the country.

We the signatories of this document, call for either the creation of a new Liberation Party, or the rejuvenation of the PLO, as the only recognized and accepted legitimate organization of the Palestinian people. Such an organization must be strengthened to unify the people and their capabilities, in order to be justified to speak on their behalf, and structure our fight for liberation.

This party, (whether the PLO or otherwise), must unambiguously stand for, and implement a program for liberation of all of Palestine. It must be democratic, accountable, transparent and truly representative of the entire spectrum of the Palestinian Nation.

The aims and aspirations of Palestinians are not confined to a symbolic change of “Zionist regime” or a declaration of abandonment of Zionism by the Jewish-Zionist occupiers, but rather to the Full liberation of Palestine and the restoration of all our inalienable rights.

We call for a just and peaceful solution; we acknowledge that the only real road to peace is the full and unconditional liberation of Palestine, (which also means liberation from the supremacist ideology that is imposing its cruel occupation) and liberation from the racist Jewish-Zionist experiment, Liberation from the violence of colonizers and liberation from the perpetrators.

That will inevitably mean a return to the original, peaceful society Palestine was before the Zionist invasion, albeit embracing all technological and societal developments.

Our true and sincere aspirations are long lasting peace, justice and freedom.

We believe that restoring Palestine for all its people will lay out the true foundations of Palestinian society, and inscribe us harmoniously in the international community, contrary to the present day occupation entity, “Israel,” which is the root cause of so many difficulties and excesses in the world community, whether in the UN or elsewhere, where “Israel” and its multinational lobby groups are fomenting wars and racial-religious friction, making international cooperation extremely difficult.

As Palestinians, we are grateful and appreciative of the hard work of all our supporters; however, we are under no obligation to hold back our march for freedom, to curtail our aims or to abandon our rights for the sake of accommodating and not offending some of the Jewish supporters who still believe that “Israel” has the right to exist as a Jewish state inside the 1948 borders.

Palestinians have the ultimate right to choose their vision for their future, of a free Palestine, including the type of government, writing of our constitution, constructing and implementing legal and systems, all of which stems from and corresponds to our ethics and reflects and protects our culture.

A Palestinian legal team of professionals and advisors must be established to prepare the legal framework and procedures, upon which laws of immigration and citizenship are defined, on the basis of which Palestinian citizenship are granted, including defining who has a Right to Remain in liberated Palestine, depending on the place of birth and providing s/he never participated in  former Israeli occupation apparatus and its crimes, and is able to respect Palestinian law, and adopt a conduct respective of the community around.

All Palestinian refugees and their descendants have the unconditional right to come back home; we, the rightful indigenous owners are also entitled to the reinstatement of All confiscated (stolen) land and property, compensation for all our losses over the many years of exile, and we are also entitled to Palestinian citizenship wherever we are.

We Palestinians have not given up before, and have no intention to give up now. We will continue to pursue the course of JUSTICE and LIBERATION by all means deemed necessary and appropriate, by upholding universal humanist ethics, within the frame of International Law.

Thus, our vision for a just and peaceful settlement entails:

REVOKING ISRAEL’S UN MEMBERSHIP:

The settler/colonial occupation is in breach of all foundational UN Charters, and has violated and defied more UN resolutions and charter principles than any other country. This illegitimate entity has none of the qualifications necessary, neither moral nor legal nor political, required to obtain and maintain UN membership. Its current membership represents a mockery of international law, and is a disgrace to humanity. Israel’s UN membership should have never been granted in the first place. The revocation of Israel’s UN membership is a necessity, as a step towards the rehabilitation of the already-battered framework of International Law. Concurrently, all of Israel’s institutions, laws, policies and practices must be abolished, since they discriminate against people based on religion and ethnicity.

FULL LIBERATION of HISTORIC PALESTINE:

Liberation means full sovereignty of the Palestinian Nation over their historic land, Palestine. Liberation also implies the irrevocable dissolution of the so called “state of Israel” and all its institutions. Palestine, known as “The Holy Land”, must be free from racist atrocities. Contrary to all failed attempts, road-maps and fake negotiations which serve as dilatory measure enabling more land grabs and atrocities. The concept of full liberation and full sovereignty for Palestinians carries only advantages; including the ability to prosecute “Israeli” criminals for Crimes against Humanity. To bring reason to the Holy Land, it is necessary to first recognize the fact that the Jewish-Zionist occupation is the sole reason there is strife in this land in the first place, and secondly, it is necessary to look back at the status pro ante, to realize that the institution of a liberated Palestine will inevitably reflect Palestinian peaceful culture and inclusive social fabric, thereby endlessly more apt to be a good standing member of the UN, and a good neighbor and partner to the world.

FULL SOVEREIGNTY of the Palestinian Nation over their ancestral country:

The Palestinian Nation has like any other nation has the aspiration and the right to select a political system, to adopt a constitution and re-construct the country. For the sake of international peace and security, it is time to return Palestine to its peaceful owners.

PROSECUTION OF WAR CRIMINALS:

A Palestinian judiciary and immigration system, will respectively prosecute former Israeli criminals and their associates, and/or grant or decline (on an individual basis), a Right to Remain in Palestine, based on criteria solely to be defined by said Immigration and Integration Services. This system should be put into place immediately.

RETURN, RESTITUTION and COMPENSATIONS:

Palestinian refugees have the unconditional Right of Return. Palestine and the Palestinian Nation at large, are entitled to full and unconditional restitution of the land and property whenever possible, coupled with appropriate compensation for more than seven decades of deprivation and slow genocide, cultural destruction, and a whole array of atrocities and usurpation.

PALESTINIAN CITIZENSHIP and NATURALISATION:

In the future democratic state of Palestine situated from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan, Palestinians are the rightful citizens. Palestinians include those who live in the occupied homeland, and include all refugees living abroad and their descendants, all those have unrestricted right to Palestinian citizenship. For former Jewish Israelis, plans should be set on course to grant or decline on an individual basis a right to remain, based on criteria defined by an Immigration and Integration Service. Such criteria could take into consideration place of birth and the irrefutable proof of non-participation in the former Israeli occupation apparatus and its crimes, and the demonstration during a certain period, of the candidate’s ability and willingness to be law-abiding; respecting land, culture and his/her compatriots irrespective of religion or race. Subsequently the right to remain would be followed by unrestricted Palestinian citizenship, with equal rights. The whole procedure would be within the future framework of Palestinian Laws of Immigration and Naturalization. Undoubtedly, Palestinian immigration policies will adhere to international norms. We hereby, call upon our friends and supporters -who hold the tragedy of Palestine, the dispossession of Palestinians of their own ancestral land dear at their heart-, to reflect upon the meaning of justice in the context of a history saturated with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We consider any negotiations that do not lead to implementation of the above null and void.

Also, we consider any and all individuals and institutions that do not adhere to our call as illegitimate representatives of our people and rights.

Thus, we call upon our people and institutions to rally behind this APPEAL and to work diligently to implement it.

We, also call upon our friends and supporters to join us in our declaration and our endeavours.

Furthermore, we call upon Jewish organizations and individuals, to take their responsibility seriously, we invite them to actively participate in restoring justice, righting the wrong, and facilitating the peaceful resolve of this chronic injustice by engaging positively, effectively and wholeheartedly to bring real change of “facts on the ground”, thus offering a remedy for healing of the Holy Land and its people, once and for all.

Moreover, we suggest they create a new Jewish fund, with agreement of every donor, to support the full and unconditional liberation in an effort to begin the lengthy process for Restitution, Reparation and Compensation for the Palestinians. A long overdue process, that will inevitably erase the seven decades long and ongoing Jewish Zionist crimes against the land of Palestine and its indigenous people.

LET US UNITE TO STOP THE MACHINE

LET US UNITE TO STOP THE SELL OUT
Please Sign the Palestinian Declaration Here

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment