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Despite Ever-Expanding Police State Measures, Cops Worse than Ever at Solving Crimes, Here’s Why.

By Matt Agorist | The Free Thought Project | March 31, 2015

If you were murdered today, there’s only a 60% chance of police catching the person who did it. That number drops to 3% if you’re raped. 50 years ago, that number was much higher. What happened?

Despite overwhelming disapproval from the public, the war on drugs wages on and we are witnessing the inevitable materialization of a fascist police state before us.

The irony here is that no matter how much money the state steals from us to fund themselves, and no matter how many tanks or AR-15s they acquire, they are solving far fewer crimes than before.

Police aren’t getting any closer to “winning” this ridiculous and immoral war on drugs either.

So, why aren’t police solving crimes?

The answer to that question can be found by looking at where police allocate much of their time and resources.

Civil asset forfeiture pays. Busting low-level drug dealers by the dozen and confiscating their drugs, guns, cars, houses, and money pays. Writing tickets for victimless crime pays. Pulling you over for window tint, seat belts, arbitrary traveling speeds, and expired license plates; these are the things that pay, not solving crimes.

In criminal justice, clearance rates are used as a measure of crimes solved by the police. The clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are “cleared” (a charge being laid) by the total number of crimes recorded.

In the United States, the murder clearance rate in 1965 was more than 90 percent. Since the inception of the war on drugs, the murder clearance rate has plummetted to an average of less than 65 percent per year.

This decline is in spite of there being far fewer murders. It is also in spite of new technological developments to help police solve crimes, like DNA testing, advanced forensic labs, and unethical spying devices like the stingray.

Despite the near complete erosion of the constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure, the clearance rate for murder continued its free fall. This highlights the fact that no matter how many rights are given up or freedoms diminished, police cannot guarantee your safety.

It’s not just murders that police fail to investigate, it’s rapes too.

According to the Department of Justice, there are currently over 400,000 untested rape kits collecting dust in police evidence rooms nationwide, and many other estimates suggest that this number could be as high as one million.

As a result of this horrific negligence, roughly 3% of rape cases in America are actually solved. This is in spite of the fact that many rape kits have a high chance of leading to an arrest since most rapists are career criminals who have their DNA on file.

In some cases, the victims even know who their attackers were, but they can not prosecute these criminals because the evidence has yet to be processed by police.

Arresting rapists and murderers simply falls short in the two areas police are worried about; revenue collection and keeping their inflated drug war budgets flowing.

It’s not that police are incapable of solving these crimes either; they’re just not interested in doing so.

“Take for example, homicides of police officers in the course of their duty,” University of Maryland criminologist Charles Wellford points out. On paper, they’re the kind of homicide that’s hardest to solve — “they’re frequently done in communities that generally have low clearance rates … they’re stranger-to-stranger homicides, they [have] high potential of retaliation [for] witnesses.” And yet, Wellford says, they’re almost always cleared. … Full article

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Amnesty International Whitewashes Venezuelan Opposition Abuses

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | TeleSUR | March 31, 2015

Amnesty International’s latest report on Venezuela calls for justice for the dozens of people killed during the unrest that shook the country a year ago, while using sleight of hand to deflect attention away from those responsible.

“The Amnesty International report documents events of February 2014 when thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets, resulting in the death of 43 people, including eight law enforcement officials,” Amnesty said in a press release accompanying the release of the report’s executive summary.

While the full report was unavailable online at the time of writing, the executive summary unequivocally laid the blame for 2014’s violence at the feet of state security forces, but ironically chose to shy away from actually admitting how those 43 people died.

“The use of unnecessary or disproportionate force is precisely what exacerbated the wave of tragic events last year,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty’s Americas director.

The summary levels blame at both security forces and government supporters. The latter were accused of engaging in state sanctioned human rights abuses. However, Amnesty’s allegations don’t match the facts. How did those 43 people die?

At the time of the protests, the independent news organization Venezuelanalysis.com listed a total of 40 deaths, 20 of which were deemed to have been caused by opposition barricades, or opposition violence. The deaths included people gunned down while trying to clear barricades, ambulances being blocked from hospitals by opposition groups, and a motorbike rider who was decapitated after opposition groups strung razor wire across a road. A similar death toll count by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reflected a similar consensus: while security forces were indeed responsible for a few deaths, the opposition groups were hardly peaceful. Around half the victims of the 2014 unrest were either government supporters, members of security forces or innocent bystanders.

While condemning the government for supposedly cracking down on freedom, the report shied away from any criticism of the opposition’s intentional restriction of movement through the use of barricades, widespread intimidation and attacks on government supporters, and repeated attacks on journalists ranging from state media workers and community radio stations to international media. For example, in March 2014, a mob of anti-government protesters beat journalists working for organizations such as Reuters and AFP. One photo-journalist, Cristian Hernandez, was beaten with a lead pipe, but was rescued by state security forces.

Another journalist that witnessed the beating tweeted, “They protest for freedom of expression and against censorship, and they attack photo-journalists … for no reason? Where’s the coherence?”

Unlike that witness, Amnesty chose not to question why incidents like this took place – instead preferring to turn a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses committed by anti-government groups.

Indeed, none of this is included in Amnesty’s executive summary. teleSUR did try to contact Amnesty for clarification as to whether any of this would be included in the full report, but received no reply.

One possible explanation is that Amnesty prefers to criticize governments, rather than call out substate actors. However, this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. On Feb. 20, 2015, Amnesty International issued a report accusing both Boko Haram and the Nigerian government of human rights abuses. Then on March 26, 2015, they accused Palestinian militants of war crimes, after also condemning Israeli forces for human rights abuses in 2014. Clearly, in many parts of the world, Amnesty is capable of critiquing both sides of a conflict – but not in Venezuela.

At first, the question of what makes Venezuela unique may seem baffling, but it all became clear after I spoke to a former Amnesty employee, who asked to remain anonymous. He explained quite simply that within Amnesty, the biggest priority isn’t human rights. It is securing funding – mostly from wealthy donors in the West.

Amnesty isn’t alone – other former NGO workers I’ve spoken to in the past have made similar comments. Some have gone as far as arguing NGOs will engage in projects or research they know is next to worthless to the people they claim to defend, so long as it produces a photo opportunity that could woo Western donors. These former workers affirmed that human rights are important to many NGOs; they just take a back seat to fund-raising.

The claim that Amnesty and other NGOs are primarily concerned with money may seem excessively cynical, but a glance at pay for those at the top of the organization shatters any rose tinted glasses. In 2011, Amnesty’s 2009 decision to hand their outgoing head Irene Khan more than £533,000 (around US$794,000 at current exchange rates) in a hefty severance package sparked a public outrage. The payout was worth more than four years of Khan’s salary. In late 2012, Amnesty again found itself in the spotlight after it announced plans to offshore much of its workforce from the U.K., sparking a bitter showdown with the Unite workers’ union. While management claimed the offshoring would put a higher proportion of their workforce on the ground in the countries they report on, workers accused the NGO of trying to cut costs, while failing to adequately assess the physical risks to workers. One worker told the Guardian newspaper the deal could turn out to be a “cash cow” for Amnesty.

Assuming cash speaks louder than justice, the reason why Amnesty is willing to criticize the Venezuelan government but unwilling to lift a finger against the opposition suddenly makes perfect sense. While condemning Boko Haram or Hamas is palatable to much of the Western public, criticizing Venezuela’s wealthy, Westernized opposition would be edgy at best, financial suicide at worst. On the other hand, while Venezuela’s government has plenty of supporters in Latin America, it doesn’t have many friends within the well-heeled elite of Western nations. The latter, of course, are prime targets for appeals for donations. In the competitive world of NGOs, Amnesty can’t afford to risk tarnishing its appeal to wealthy donors by accusing Venezuela’s opposition of human rights violations.

In a surprising way, this makes Amnesty an inherently ideological organization, it just doesn’t have its own ideology per se. Instead, because of its pursuit of the wealthiest donors (generally liberal Westerners), Amnesty reflects the ideology of middle and upper class Westerners. It’s staunchly vanilla liberal: willing to call out miscellaneous African militias, but unwilling to accuse an element of Venezuela’s middle class of giving birth to a violent movement. It’s willing to criticize Israeli colonialism in the name of liberal values, but allergic to revolutionary politics driven from the bottom up by the world’s poor. Amnesty doesn’t reflect the ideology of the poor and repressed, but rather of its privileged, yet guilt-stricken donors.

Unfortunately, Amnesty International’s whitewash of the right-wing opposition’s human rights abuses in Venezuela is symptomatic of a deeper crisis in the world of NGOs, where fierce competition for funding means adjusting the message to suit Western audiences — and occasionally letting human rights take a back seat.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Democracy Behind Bars in Venezuela? A Reply to the UK Guardian

By Jorge Martin | Hands Off Venezuela | March 31, 2015

One wonders how many mistakes, glaring omissions and biased statements can one fit in just two paragraphs of just 88 words. When it comes to Venezuela, the answer is, a lot. On Friday, 27 of March, the Guardian published a piece called Democracy behind bars: 11 opposition leaders facing jail or death”, which was “sponsored by Crown Agents”. First in the list of 11 “democratic opposition leaders” facing jail or death around the world is Venezuela’s Leopoldo Lopez.

Immediately below this headline is a big picture of Leopoldo López, giving the impression that he himself is potentially facing a death sentence. The writer is probably unaware that Venezuela was the first country in the world still in existence to abolish the death penalty, back in 1863. In contrast, in Britain it was not fully abolished until 1998 and of course in the US is still widely used. But, as they say, why let the facts get in the way of a striking headline?

The section on Leopoldo López opens with a quote from the Harvard graduate regarding a political disqualificaion which saw him banned from running for public office. A quote which is totally unrelated to the reasons why he is currently in jail. López is disqualified from standing for public office for his role in two separate corruption scandals. The first goes back to 1998, when he worked as an analyst at the state-owned oil company PDVSA and his mother, a PDVSA manager, signed a donation to the Primero Justicia NGO, which Leopoldo López was a member of (and which later became the Primero Justicia political party, of which Lopez was one of the main leaders). The second corruption scandal is related to the irregular use of funds when he was Mayor of Chacao. All that the first paragraph of the Guardian article proves, therefore, is that Leopoldo Lopez was involved in two corruption scandals and, as a result, is barred from standing for public office until 2017.

In the second paragraph, Lopez is described as “founder of the opposition Popular Will party.” While this description is true, it leaves out an important part of the story, as Lopez is also well known in Venezuela for his active participation in the April 2002 coup against the democratically elected president Hugo Chávez. During the coup, using his authority as Mayor of Chacao, he led the illegal arrest of Minister of Justice Ramón Rodríguez Chacín (report, videos and pictures). Hardly the conduct of a democrat! Charges against him for these events were dismissed by an amnesty decreed by president Hugo Chávez in December 2007.

In yet another misleading statement, the author of the article, Lauren Razavi, asserts that Lopez was arrested after calling for citizens to protest against the government. Of course, the timeline is correct, in the sense that one thing happened after the other, but the information is not complete. He did not call “for citizens to protest”, but rather called for citizens to forcefully oust the democratically elected government through street protests and barricades which saw whole communities left without access to food, water or gas, and even emergency services refused access.

In a joint appeal with Maria Corina Machado, López called on citizens to join his “La Salida” campaign (“The Way Out”), described the government as a “dictatorship” and called on Venezuelans to “rise up” emulating the example of January 23, 1958 (when a popular uprising overthrew the Perez Jimenez dictatorship). The message was clear: Venezuela was a dictatorship, the government had to be overthrown by force.

As a result of this appeal there were violent protests by their supporters, including arson attacks against public buildings, health care centres, university campuses, the use of sharp shooters to kill police officers, national guard officers and Bolivarian supporters who were removing road blockades. Opposition violence instigated by Machado and López included the setting of steel wire traps above roads which was aimed at, and succeeded in, decapitating a number of motorbike riders. A total of 43 people were killed, a majority of them as a result of the action of violent opposition protesters (see full analysis by Ewan Robertson). The violent protests, involving hired guns and vandals, as well as criminal elements, managed to alienate the majority of the population, including many of the opposition’s own supporters. Despite the escalating violence, Lopez consistently refused to respond to government requests to call off the barricades and protests. It is for his responsibility in these events that López is in jail pending trial.

Yet the article is not just misleading in its description of Lopez. Razavi also says Nicolas Maduro’s leadership has “seen Venezuela pushed into the top 10 countries in the world for corruption and homicide”. The only source she provides for this is assertion is a link to an article signed by Rory Carroll, notorious for his bias against the Bolivarian revolution.

Amazingly though, on closer inspection, Carroll’s article does not even make the claim which Razavi attributes to him. The result? A totally fabricated statistic.

Corruption is certainly a serious problem in Venezuela, but according to the most recent report by Transparency International, Venezuela does not figure amongst the 10 most corrupt countries in the world. As for the homicide rate, the source which is most commonly used is the Global Study on Homicide by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The last time this study was published was in 2013 with data from 2012. No one would deny crime is a problem in Venezuela, but President Maduro was inaugurated in April 2013, so he can hardly be blamed for figures collected the previous year.

Two final notes on this short piece. The hook for the article is a report by Freedom House a US based government funded organisation whose current director is a former head of Bureau at the US State Department. Past board members include Otto Reich, Paul Wolfowitz, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Donald Rumsfeld and other outspoken advocates of US imperialist aggression. In other words, the type of “freedom” that this house advocates is the freedom of the US to interfere in other country’s affairs.

On the other hand, the organisation “sponsoring” the article is Crown Agents. It describes its own history thus: “Our story begins in the 1700s, when colonial administrations employed agents to recruit people and procure and ship supplies to the colonies”. In other words, this is an organisation dedicated to promoting the interests of British colonialism. A perspective which is shamelessly manifest in the article itself, which cites jailed opposition leaders in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malaysia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but which fails to mention political prisoners in Europe or the Unites States. For example, Basque opposition leader Arnaldo OtegiOtegi (in jail for his political ideas), or the countless political activists and whistleblowers languishing in US jails for their political ideas and defence of democracy (from Mummia Abu Jamal to Chelsea Manning).

It is beyond doubt that Crown Agents would not have sponsored an article about the achievements of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the fields of education, healthcare, housing, political empowerment, workers’ and gender rights and others.

The Bolivarian revolution has won 18 out of 19 democratic elections and referenda held in the country since 1998, yet this, it seems, will not stop Western mass media from presenting it as an “authoritarian regime”.


Letter to the Guardian:

I was disappointed to see a piece in the Guardian (Democracy behind bars: 11 opposition leaders facing jail or death) mentioning Venezuelan Leopoldo López at the top of a list of democratic opposition leaders jailed by what the article presents as authoritarian regimes. López has been disqualified to stand for public office for misuse of public funds twice. He played an important role in the 2002 coup against the democratically elected government of president Chávez, during which he led the illegal and violent arrest of the then Minister of Justice Chacín.

The reason he is in jail pending trial today, is because of his call for an uprising against the democratically elected government of president Maduro last year. His appeal directly led to violence on the part of his supporters leaving 43 people dead. Most of those were killed by the actions of violent supporters of Mr López which used arson attacks, sharpshooters and steel wires to decapitate motorbike riders.

Venezuela has had 19 democratic elections and referendums with full participation of opposition forces since 1998. All bar one have been won by the Bolivarian revolution. Democratic opposition is not a problem, attempts to overthrow a democratically elected government is a different matter.

Jorge Martin

This piece was published with contributions from Venezuelanalysis. 

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuelan Coup Plotter Gustavo Cisneros Donated $1M to Clinton Foundation

By Rachael Boothroyd | Venezuelanalysis | March 31, 2015

Caracas – A recent report has emerged revealing that Venezuelan billionaire and media tycoon, Gustavo Cisneros, donated up to US$ 1 million dollars to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation between 2009-2013, while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

A recent review of the foundation’s disclosures, carried out by the Wall Street Journal, brings to light a number of donors that were previously unknown to the public.

The figures include Argentinian and Ukrainian businesspeople, as well as Prince Turki al-Faisal of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family, who collectively donated up to US$68 million to the organisation over the course of four years. The majority of large donations came from residents in the Ukraine (US$10 million), England (US$8.4 million) and Saudi Arabia (US$7.3 million), according to the report.

Described as Latin America’s “Berlusconi,” Gustavo Cisneros appears in the report as having donated up to US$ 1 million to the couple’s foundation between 2009 and 2013. The exact amount and number of donations that he made are still unclear, however, as the foundation’s disclosure reports only cite donations in ranges as opposed to specific amounts.

The revelation has provoked a fierce backlash from the Republican party, as well as some figures within the Democrat camp. They have cited the donations as an attempt to circumvent an agreement between President Obama and the Clintons, in which the couple vowed to reject donations from foreign governments during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State.

Designed to insulate Clinton from charges of political corruption, the agreement is reported to have been a deal breaker for her designation as chief diplomat within the Obama administration. Nonetheless, politicians from both parties have pointed out that many of the individual donors to her foundation had strong links to foreign governments and presented a clear conflict of interest with her political position.

This latest report has added to the growing scandal surrounding Clinton who has recently come under fire for using a personal e-mail instead of an official state.gov address during her time as Secretary of State. She also deleted thousands of work related emails from her private account which should have been handed over for independent review by the State Department at the end of her tenure.

The political quagmire has put a dampener on her potential 2016 bid for presidency, which she was widely expected to announce over the next few months.

Who is Cisneros?

Known as Venezuela’s “Rupert Murdoch,” Cisneros runs the Cisneros Group, one of the largest privately held media and entertainment companies in the world. He was originally linked to the Clintons back in 2010 when he was also alleged to have made a donation to their foundation, despite being a staunch supported and friend to former Republican President, George W. Bush.

His commercial empire includes property investment, Venezuela’s largest television channel, Venevision, and forays into international business ventures in the United States and Asia.

As a principle ally of former Venezuelan presidents such as Romulo Betancourt and Carlos Andrez, both tied to the country’s old political regime, Cisneros was one of the major players in the short-lived 2002 “media” coup which attempted to oust then president Hugo Chavez, famed for having brought Venezuela’s two party system to a crashing end with his election.

Cisneros met with coup ringleaders in the immediate aftermath of the putsch and prohibited the circulation of news surrounding the illegal nature of the ousting on Venevision. He also censured reports of the popular uprising which eventually returned Chavez to power.

He currently lives in the Dominican Republic.

Republican Reaction

Cisnero’s link to the Clintons has particularly angered members of the Republican National Committee, who have suggested that the business tycoon is somehow “tied” to the current Venezuelan government – despite his history of staunch opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution.

An official representative for the Clinton Foundation, however, has responded to accusations by denying any wrongdoing. In responses to press, spokesperson Craig Minassian refuted charges that donations to the organisation had been used to buy political influence or to conduct political lobbying.

“Like other global charities and nongovernmental organizations, the Clinton Foundation receives support from individuals all over the world because our programs are improving the lives of millions of people around the globe,” he asserted.

The Clinton Foundation began to accept donations from foreign governments following Hillary Clinton’s departure from office in 2013.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Remove US military bases from Latin America – UNASUR chief

RT | April 1, 2015

Latin American countries should discuss removing all US military bases from their soil, a top official of integration organization UNASUR suggested. The issue may be discussed next month at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama.

The Summit of the Americas on April 10 and 11 is to be attended by regional leaders, with 31 nations already confirming attendance. UNASUR Secretary-General Ernesto Samper suggested that the summit would be a good place to “reassess relations between the US and South America.”

“A good point on the new agenda of relations [in Latin America] would be the elimination of US military bases,” the former Columbian president told the news agency EFE.

He added that the bases were “a leftover from the days of the Cold War and other clashes.”

Samper also blasted Washington’s habit of taking unilateral steps to pursue its goals in Latin America. The latest example is the US declaration of Venezuela as a threat to its national security, he said.

“In a globalized world like the present one, you can’t ask for global rules for the economy and maintain unilateral rules for politics. No country has the right to judge the conduct of another and even less to impose sanctions and penalties on their own,” he stressed.

The Panama meeting has already been declared historic as it will be the first one attended by Cuba since 1962, when it was expelled from the Organization of American States (OAS), the event’s organizing body. In 2014, the US and Canada blocked the proposal to readmit Cuba, which drew criticism from UNASUR and a boycott of last year’s summit of the Americas by Ecuador and Nicaragua.

This year Cuban President Raul Castro will have an opportunity to meet his US counterpart Barack Obama, marking progress in the restoration of US-Cuban relations after decades of alienation.

Samper said that the Cuban-US rapprochement should not overshadow Washington’s conflict with Caracas, which is also sending a delegation to the Panama summit, the continued operation of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, US militarization of the continent and other issues.

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) is a regional integration organization that includes 12 members and two observer nations. It was formally founded in 2004 and became fully functional in 2011, when its Constitutive Treaty entered into force following ratification by member states. UNASUR is headed by a president chosen from heads of member states, but the secretary-general performs the bulk of the organizational work.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian woman sentenced to 70 months in jail

Ma’an – 01/04/2015

194627JENIN – An Israeli military court on Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian woman to 70 months in jail, with a suspended sentence of 24 months, a local foundation said.

Muhjat al-Quds Foundation for Prisoners and Martyrs said Muna Qadan, 43, was arrested from her house on Nov. 13, 2012 and has attended over 22 court hearings since. She is currently being held at Hasharon prison and has been ordered to pay a fine of 30,000 shekels.

Qadan, from Arraba village near Jenin, is the sister of jailed Islamic Jihad leader Tariq Qadan, and the fiance of another Islamic Jihad leader serving a life term in Israeli jails, Ibrahim Ighbariya.

Qadan has previously spent over four years in Israeli jails on several terms for being associated with the political group Islamic Jihad, and was one of the prisoners freed in the 2011 Shalit prisoner swap deal. Rights groups criticized Qadan’s rearrest as clear violation of the terms of the prisoner swap.

The Qadan family has been active in resistance activities within Israeli prisons. Tariq engaged in a life-threatening hunger strike in February 2013, while Muna threatened Israeli authorities with a jail-wide hunger strike in June 2013 in response to Israeli denial of medical treatment to fellow detainee Lina al-Jarbouni.

The majority of Palestinian political organizations are considered illegal by Israel, and association with such parties is often used as grounds for imprisonment, according to Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Addameer.

The use by Israel of political affiliation as punishable by imprisonment has brought international criticism. Political prisoners held in Israeli jails routinely face isolation, torture, medical neglect, denial of family visits, as well as denial of fair legal processes, as reported by Addameer.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

From Gaza To Southampton – We Are All Palestinians

By Gilad Atzmon | April 1, 2015

For the second time in just a month, a British academic institution has been intimidated by an orchestrated Zionist lobby.

Yesterday we learned that Southampton University has decided to withdraw its permission to hold the academic conference on International Law and the State of Israel. The decision was taken on the grounds of “health and safety” with the university claiming it did not have enough resources to mitigate the “risks.”

This comes just one month after the Royal Northern College Of Music cancelled a concert of mine for similar safety reasons. Like Southampton University, the RNCM was bullied by a violent pro-Israel group and it took us only a few hours to learn that the spokesperson for the pro-Israeli body was an infamous crook as well as a football hooligan (see here).

This raises the immediate question: Is it possible that like the Palestinians, British academia is now also subject to Zionist terror?

The vile campaign against the Southampton Conference was led by the Board Of Deputies of British Jews, a body that claims to represent Jews in Britain. So far, not one single British Jewish body has stood up for the conference and for elementary academic freedom nor has a single Jewish institution criticised the Board of Deputies’ campaign against British academic institutes.  I guess that the meaning of it is as simple as it is devastating: We now see a clear conflict between the Jewish community and those precious British values of tolerance and academic freedom.

Recently, Jewish community leaders have been concerned by the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain. In this connection, I would use this opportunity to remind them that Jewish institutional bullying of British academic institutes does not reflect well on British Jewry. In fact it has a most disastrous effect.

So, as we witness this devastating continuum between Gaza and Britain we once again come to realise that the plight of the Palestinians is not an isolated event in contemporary world affairs or history.

Brits are also now subject to Zionist  terror and the meaning of it is simple: Now, more than ever we are all Palestinians.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen

Into the Abyss

By MICHAEL HORTON | CounterPunch | April 1, 2015

Not long before the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, died in 1953, he is purported to have said, “the good or evil for us will come from Yemen.” With the commencement of air strikes on targets in Yemen, it is increasingly likely that the latter part of his prediction will come true. Nothing good—and certainly nothing decisive—will come from the Saudi led “Operation Decisive Storm.”

The Saudi intervention in Yemen—along with the Kingdom’s 2011 intervention in Bahrain—mark a significant departure from a foreign policy that has been historically characterized by caution, reluctance, and a reliance on proxies. In Bahrain, the Saudi effort to quell the Shi’a led rebellion was successful. However, Yemen could not be more different than Bahrain, which is a tiny nation with flat terrain and an unarmed population. In contrast, Yemen has one of the most heavily armed populations on the planet, terrain that is a guerrilla fighter’s dream, and a two thousand year history of resisting and repelling invaders.

In late 2009, Saudi Arabia launched a quiet but well-resourced campaign against the Houthis, who belong to the Zaidi sect of Shi’a Islam. At the time, the Houthis were locked in their sixth—and what proved to be final—war with former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government. In response to an attack launched by Houthi fighters on Saudi border guards, the Saudi government began operations against the Houthis. The Saudis deployed elements of their army, special forces, and air force. The campaign proved to be a disaster for the Saudis and resulted in a top level review of their army’s battle readiness. The Houthis, who were at that time poorly equipped and facing off against both Yemeni forces and Saudi forces, managed to capture at least one soldier from the elite Saudi Special Forces as well as specialized equipment. Over the course of 2009 and 2010, the Houthis fought both Yemeni and Saudi forces to a standstill.

Following 2010 and in the wake of the 2011 revolution that led to the resignation of President Saleh and the installation of his former vice president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, as president, the Houthis consolidated their hold on a large swath of northwestern Yemen. The Houthis expanded the territory under their control by building alliances with influential tribes and clans and by merit of being a relatively well-disciplined and capable fighting force. However, the installation of the ineffectual President Hadi helped enable the Houthis’ rapid expansion.

Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi was chosen by Yemen’s Machiavellian former president as his vice president for a reason: Hadi has no real power base in Yemen and thus could never pose a threat to Saleh or his family. Hadi is from south Yemen, which was an independent nation and wants to be one again. Many southerners still regard Hadi, who sided with Saleh and the north against the south in the 1994 civil war, as a traitor. At the same time, as a southerner, Hadi has little or no influence among Yemen’s powerful northern based tribes. Hadi was a brilliant choice for vice president by a man who intended to pass the presidency onto his son.

Now, the Saudi government, along with its GCC partners, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, and Jordan, has ostensibly launched ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ to reinstall Hadi who has fled Yemen for Saudi Arabia. The less than clearly articulated goal of the military campaign in Yemen is to reinstall the Hadi led government and to force the Houthis’ to lay down their arms and negotiate. It is unlikely that these goals will be achieved. Rather than eroding support for the Houthis, the Saudis and their partners’ actions in Yemen, may bolster short term support for the Houthis and former president Saleh who is now nominally allied with the Houthis. Most Yemenis are none too fond of the House of Saud and there are many Yemenis still alive who remember the Egyptians’ bloody and disastrous 1962-67 invasion of north Yemen which claimed the lives of twenty thousand Egyptian soldiers and thousands of Yemeni fighters and civilians.

“Operation Decisive Storm” will ensure that Yemen is pushed further along the path to all out civil war, that radical Islamist organizations like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and now the Islamic State (sworn enemies of the Houthis and all Shi’a Muslims) flourish, and that a humanitarian crisis ensues. More than half of Yemen’s children suffer from malnourishment, and, according to the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, 61% of Yemen’s population of 24 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. With the commencement of “Operation Decisive Storm” food prices, which were already rising due to a plummeting Yemeni riyal, are soaring as Yemenis—those few who can afford to do so—prepare for what could be months of war. The only thing increasing in price faster than food is ammunition and weaponry. Most Yemeni families in the north possess at a minimum an Ak-47 with many families and clans maintaining stores of weapons that include RPGs and grenades.

If the Saudis and their partners, especially the Egyptians, take the next step and begin a ground invasion, their forces will likely face withering resistance from both the Houthis and the new allies that they are sure to attract as a result of the invasion. In the mountain redoubts of northwest Yemen, songs and poems about how the Yemenis made the Turks, who twice invaded Yemen and failed to subdue it, bathe in their own blood are still sung and recited by the descendants of the men who fought off the Turks and then the Egyptians. The Saudi Army is ill prepared for anything beyond the most limited action in Yemen. Its Egyptian partners are similarly ill prepared and are currently struggling to contain a growing insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

A ground invasion will tie up thousands of Saudi soldiers for what could be months or even years when the Kingdom must also worry about the threat of the Islamic State on its northern borders. It is also worth remembering that the Saudi Army employs a large contingent of soldiers who are ethnically Yemeni. It is an open question as to how these men may or may not respond when ordered to kill fellow Yemenis. At the same time that they are dealing with what will undoubtedly be a protracted and bloody war, the Saudi government will be forced to manage what could be tens of thousands of refugees pouring across its southern border from Yemen.

Military action in Yemen could well lead the House of Saud into the abyss that King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud may have had in mind before he made his prophetic warning.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Anti-Iran Media Drumbeat, Fueled by Israel, Increases as Deal Deadline Nears

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | March 31, 2015

As the deadline looms for the P5+1 nations to achieve a framework for a nuclear deal with Iran, the steady drumbeat of hostile coverage directed at Iran in the media increases. Jim White at Empty Wheel, in two good posts, noted a tendentious Washington Post op-ed by Ray Tayekh, Michael Hayden, and Ollie Heinonen, along with a separate piece by perennial NY Times Iran doomsayer, David Sanger.

Regarding the Post op-ed, everyone knows about Michael Hayden’s role as a holdover spook from the Bush administration, who ran both the NSA and CIA during that period. He also is a partner in the Chertoff Group, founded by Bush’s Homeland Security czar, Michael Chertoff.

Ray Tayekh, though he served in the Obama administration for a time and is Iranian-American, has chosen to throw in his lot with the Iranophobes.  According to Nima Shirazi, he is a founding member of the Iran Strategy Task Force, whose avowed mission was to pressure the Obama administration to adopt a tougher approach to Iran. ISTF includes the neocon Freedom House as its co-founding sponsor, and individual members like Josh Block of The Israel Project and Rob Satloff of WINEP. Tayekh is also a member of another Iran committee founded by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, one of the leading hawkish, pro-Israel security outfits in DC.

Ollie Heinonen’s main claim to fame is his post as ex-deputy director of the IAEA. This international organization tasked with monitoring nuclear proliferation around the globe has had a love-hate relationship with Iran. Some of its personnel [associates], including exceedingly pro-Israel analysts like David Albright, have sometimes espoused talking points that could’ve been written for them by the Mossad. Though the IAEA’s reports are usually carefully couched in language that isn’t nearly as provocative or propagandistic. Curiously, some IAEA reports are based on supposedly anonymous intelligence offered to them by unnamed intelligence agencies. Upon closer examination, the information seems tailor-made to advance Israeli interests in scaring the world about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Many observers see the hand of the Mossad in such intelligence leaks. Heinonen is one of those I was speaking about above.

In their Post op-ed, none of these important ideological affiliations were noted. The only credits offered were for their most white bread involvements with groups like the Council on Foreign Policy (Tayekh), IAEA (Heinonen), and Bush administration (Hayden). Just as doctors now must disclose their financial arrangements with drug companies when they publish research in journals, so op-ed writers and newspapers should acknowledge all associations having strong ideological tendencies (whether they are right or left-wing). This allows readers to judge for themselves how much credibility to attach to the writers views.

In his post-IAEA career, Heinonen adopted an exceedingly hawkish profile. One of his key roles has been as a board member of the notorious United Against a Nuclear Iran. This is an anti-Iran lobbying group largely funded by Sheldon Adelson, who’s advocated bombing Iran. UANI’s mission has been to exploit anonymous intelligence data provided to it by unnamed sources which pressure corporations and business executives not to engage in commercial dealings with Iran. Except that UANI has run its operations a bit like Joe McCarthy. It often resorts to blackmail and extortion in its dealings with alleged offenders.

One such person it confronted, Victor Restis, called UANI’s bluff. He responded to threats by not only denying any dealings with Iran, he sued for defamation. Among his claims was that UANI co-founder and Bush operative, Mark Wallace, is also the CEO of an investment firm founded by Thomas Kaplan. Kaplan’s wife is a major investor in a shipping company that competes with Mr. Restis. There was an intimation that UANI’s efforts against Restis were either a shakedown, or a way to hurt his business to the benefit of Kaplan’s wife’s company.

Restis’ case had sailed through federal courts until the Obama administration, fearing the exposure of CIA-Mossad collusion along with deliberate leaks of secret intelligence material to UANI, stopped the case dead in its tracks. Noah Feldman notes the political peculiarities of this case and why it posed such a nest of vipers to the Obama administration.

White notes that in Sanger’s NYT piece he relies on two of three above-mentioned Horsemen of the Anti-Iran Apocalypse, Tayekh and Heinonen, with that other independent nuclear proliferation expert, John Boehner, thrown in for good measure. The House Speaker is jetting his way as we speak to the Holy Land to commune with another Iran nuclear expert, Bibi Netanyahu. The latter, by the way, has been entirely frozen out of the nuclear talks by a suspicious Obama administration, which has noted Israeli espionage against U.S. diplomats negotiating with the Iranians.

This passage in Empty Wheel is especially pungent and noteworthy:

It is impossible for me to escape the conclusion that Olli Heinonen and Ray Takeyh are part of an organized propaganda campaign aimed at disrupting the P5+1 talks and preventing an agreement. This propaganda is eagerly published by a compliant press, with the New York Times, Washington Post and AP among the most recent examples I have noted.

I have little doubt that all of these analysts and journalists mentioned above are being inundated with reports and talking points by Israeli figures: some transparent like Israeli diplomats and some less so. Israeli intelligence appraisals (probably emanating directly from the prime minister himself, since his spymasters tend to be much less hawkish on Iran than he is) are finding their way into their inboxes as well, I am certain.

My association with Shamai Leibowitz allowed me to expose a precursor of this anti-Iran effort in this perception management operation.  In one case I wrote about, Israel’s deputy ambassador, Jeremy Issacharoff actually ghost-wrote a Boston Herald op-ed for local Jewish communal leader, Jeff Robbins. He also happened to be a partner in Cameron Kerry’s (John Kerry’s brother) powerful Boston law firm. The Boston Kerry is a key supporter of AIPAC and the Israel Lobby.

You can be damn sure all the hasbara wheels are turning morning, noon, and night in an effort to blunt any narrative the Obama administration might offer to promote a nuclear deal. If the current talks fail, the hasbarafia will cheer. If they succeed, the pressure will only mount against the agreement.

Adelson protege, Shmuley Boteach, published yet another NY Times full-page ad exhorting Obama not to be Neville Chamberlain, but rather Winston Churchill in standing up to Iran. Presumably, Boteach and Adelson have in mind marching like the WWII prime minister to war against another existential Nazi-like foe of humanity, Iran. The choice of Churchill is a loaded one, of course. It’s Bibi Netanyahu’s inspiration. Someone he quotes regularly when he wants to add gravitas and historical cachet to his speeches. Since Churchill has almost no resonance in a contemporary context, my strong suspicion is that Churchill was a hero of Netanyahu’s father, the noted historian Ben Zion Netanyahu (ne Milikowski).

It seems to have slipped the minds of Boteach and Netanyahu that Churchill led the world through the most lethal war in the history of humanity. Is this the historical model that the world wishes to hold up for itself in the present era? Do we want to fight the Battle of Gog and Magog again? Or do we choose different models? The answer, of course, is that Churchill was a hero [sic] for a different era, one that is not relevant to today. Unless of course, you seek or anticipate world conflagration, which most of the rest of us don’t.

Finally, Time Magazine has published a truly puerile piece of anti-Iran propaganda by Rabbi David Wolpe, the leader of a wealthy westside Los Angeles synagogue. Wolpe’s piece trots out the hoary old anti-Iran trope, Purim:

Purim recalls the efforts of a Persian anti-Semite to kill the Jews. Sound familiar?

This is a time to remind ourselves of the power of irrationality. Perhaps many Americans, as exemplified by the Barack Obama administration, do not understand a certain darkness in the soul. Let me explain.

No, rabbi, I think we get the point. Wolpe trots out another smear based on fakery, the “wipe Israel off the map” meme. He takes his argument through various twists and turns leading to the ultimate grail of pro-Israel hasbara: anti-Semitism. In this passage, he implicitly accuses Iran’s leaders of holding the most noxious views:

That same person will also believe, in the face of all evidence, that Jews control the banks, or that the Mossad brought down the towers on 9/11, or that the Holocaust was a fraud, or that every depredation and misfortune that that person, or their people, has suffered is somehow the fault of the Jews. And if only the world would be rid of Israel, then the Sunni and Shiite would lie together as the biblical lion and lamb.

It doesn’t seem to matter either to Wolpe or Time’s editors that none of Iran’s leaders, and especially not Pres. Rouhani, believe any of these things. It seems the good rabbi is hoping readers will forget that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hasn’t been Iran’s president for a few years now.

Next, Wolpe wins the daily double of Holocaust hysteria, yoking Auschwitz with Hiroshima:

An Iranian bomb combines the two great taboos of the 20th century, Auschwitz and Hiroshima. It is a nuclear bomb in service of destroying the Jewish people.

He didn’t originate this concept. I first read it from Shimon Peres who called an Iranian bomb a “flying Holocaust.” In Wolpe’s usage, he builds his argument on a number of empty fallacies. First, Iran doesn’t have a bomb nor has it expressed any interest in getting one. Second, Iran’s current leaders have never expressed any intent to drop a nuclear weapon on Israel nor to exterminate Israel or the Jewish people. Third, there is a terrible conflation of Israel and Jews, a lazy, hazy trope Wolpe adopts. Israel is not the Jewish people and the Jewish people is not Israel.

Further, Wolpe of course ignores the rank hatred spewed against Iran by Israeli leaders like Netanyahu and Wolpe himself. Hawkish intellectuals like Benny Morris and Joshua Muravchik have both advocated bombing Iran, even with nuclear weapons, on the op-ed pages of the NY Times and Los Angeles Times. There is no lack of firebrands on both sides of this argument, a fact that neither one should forget.

He concludes his diatribe with this shocker:

We are about to strike a deal with people who harbor an implacable hatred. Iran may seek leverage for all sorts of… hegemonic goals as well. As long as the current regime holds power, however, there is one unwavering, non-negotiable goal. And unlike the sunshine of reason, deep hatreds are patient.

In his essay, Wolpe has exposed one thing very powerfully: his deep, irrational hatred of Iran. His rant is devoid of truth or accuracy. It has no basis in fact or in the historical record. It is precisely this sort of seething hostility which will lead us down the path to war. It is precisely this sort of frothing at the mouth that must be countered at every opportunity. I wrote about another American rabbi, Daniel Weiner, who shares the same almost homicidal animus toward Iran. In fact, I got into a public shouting match with him over it.

What is it about some rabbis that makes them hate mullahs so much? Perhaps there is a shared zeal, a shared willingness to breathe fire into one’s religious community. Rabbis may see things in Iran’s mullahs they don’t like in themselves or their own rabbinic colleagues. I view such hysteria, whether from rabbis or mullahs, with great trepidation and distrust.

Israel’s leaders and their willing collaborators among Diaspora leaders may want to march toward Armageddon. But we must not allow it.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Mainstream Media, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Iran could constrain reckless impulses of US Mideast allies’

RT | April 1, 2015

A deal with Iran over its nuclear program would benefit the US as it needs to change its policy in the Middle East, and even build a constructive relationship with critical regional powers, said Hillary Mann Leverett, a former US negotiator with Iran.

RT: Hopes are high that the six world powers and Iran who have been holding talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne will reach a deal by Wednesday evening. What kind of document do you expect to come out of these talks?

Hillary Mann Leverett: I would assume at this point we can still really think of only a vague document coming out of these talks. There does not seem to be agreement on many of the details, much of the substance that would be detailed in the final agreement.

But that is not really the purpose of what they were trying to get by [Wednesday evening]. This was supposed to be a political understanding of what the agreement would entail, and a final agreement then would be drafted by June 30. So my sense is that if we get an agreement it will be focused more on a reaffirmation in a sense of a core bargain that they struck back in November 2013: that the parties would proceed toward resolving this conflict by Iran agreeing in negotiated contacts to constraints on its nuclear program in exchange for comprehensive lifting of sanctions.

And that is where I think the parties have really got stuck, because the comprehensive lifting of sanctions is something that is not technical. It doesn’t involve nuclear physicists at the table, it requires real political will. And I think that’s where we’ve seen the brinkmanship.

RT: If a deal is agreed on, what kind of reaction is it likely to trigger on Capitol Hill?

HL: I think the reaction will be negative, regardless of what the deal is. Some people in Washington, I think, disingenuously claim that it depends on whether it is a ‘good deal’ or ‘bad deal’. But there is no ‘good deal’ for many of the lawmakers in Washington, the 47 senators who sent this letter to Iran, there’s no good deal for them with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their agenda is regime change. They would be happy for an Iran under a kind of Shah, an American puppet, to have nuclear weapons. But they are not really interested in an independent state to have any nuclear weapons. So I think they would oppose any deal.

I think because of that reality, the focus of the talks in this session has been not so much, not I really think at all, on the US sanctions, but how to really put that in its own box and deal with something more internationally. The focus has been on the UN sanctions, which Congress has no say over. The United States could agree to lift UN sanctions in five minutes. I saw it done on Libya; I saw it done on Sudan. The United States can do it in five minutes; they don’t need to consult with anybody in Congress. And that is what I’m talking about in terms of political will.

It’s up to President Obama whether he will agree and literally pick up the phone and call the UN ambassador and say: “Either vote for the lifting of sanctions or abstain.” It’s all he needs to do. That’s a question of political will; the rest of it is really just political posturing.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) and Head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi talk while other members of their delegation listen after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. officials at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne March 27, 2015 (Reuters / Brendan Smialowski)

RT: The Republicans have warned that any deal with Iran might not survive after Barack Obama is out of the White House. Should we expect the US to make a U-turn on Iran in subsequent years?

HL: We’ve actually seen a bad scenario of this happening in the past. In the late 1970s under President Carter, his administration had negotiated the SALT II treaty with Moscow, with the Soviet Union. And the way he sold it was as if it was a “technical agreement,” that we were “imposing meaningful curbs” on the Soviet Union’s strategic capacity. The Congress defeated it. It was a devastating failure for President Carter.

We could potentially be looking at something like that if President Obama plays the same game by saying that he’s essentially going to hold his nose while he is negotiating with Iran and just try to focus on a narrow technical agreement. He needs to make the case, the strategic case why a fundamental realignment of US policies in the Middle East toward the Islamic Republic of Iran is imperative for the United States, that after a decade of disastrous military interventions in the Middle East, the United States needs a different way. It needs a constructive way forward with Iran. But he has not done that. Instead, my concern is that he is following President Carter’s route. Essentially Carter’s view was that the Soviet Union was an unreconstructed adversary, evil empire in a sense, and he was just going to hold his nose and try to get the SALT II treaty passed. Well, he lost the election in 1980, we got Ronald Reagan, and that was the end of that.

RT: If a deal is reached, how is it likely to change regional dynamics for America’s main allies in the region Israel and Saudi Arabia, who both strongly oppose a deal?

HL: I think it will be very good for the United States. After the end of the Cold War, the United States has gone through a period I think some would call of arrogance, essentially trying to impose its dominance on various regions of the world, including the Middle East. And those who want to go along with it, we characterize them as allies, when they are not really allies per se, they are just going along with the United States. What we really need is constructive relationships with each of the critical powers in the region so that they can restrain even the reckless impulses of our so-called allies. It’s not in our interests when Israel bombs Lebanon, Israel bombs Gaza. It’s not in our interest when Saudis invade Yemen. If you have a better relationship with Iran, it will constrain these reckless impulses of even our allies, and allow the United States to get off this dangerous trajectory of trying to impose its own military dominance on the region.

Read more: Nuclear deal with Iran ‘reached on all key aspects’ – Lavrov

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Najdi bedouins’ aggression in Yemen

By Zafar Bangash | Crescent Online | April 1, 2015

Has the Bani Saud made one mistake too many by attacking Yemen? If the conflict drags on, it is likely to bring down the Najdi Bedouins’ sand castles.

It is easy to start a war but difficult to determine its direction, outcome or how to end it. Ask any general and he would confirm that the best prepared plans are made redundant as soon as the first shots are fired. The “Saudi” regime has just made a strategic blunder by attacking dirt-poor Yemen. In fact, the war is launched against the Houthi militia that has made impressive gains in recent weeks and months in the war-torn country. And true to form, the bedouins from Najd, calling themselves “Saudis,” have mobilized a so-called “coalition of the willing” that includes such great warriors as the Kuwaitis, Qataris, Bahrainis, and Emiratis. The Yemenis must be trembling in their sandals. In their quest to act as regional cop, the “Saudis” have also obtained the services of such basket cases as Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Pakistan.

The “Saudi” war on Yemen is both illegal and immoral. It is naked aggression against another country launched on false pretence. The “Saudi” regime has never fired a single shot against the Zionist occupiers of Palestine, for instance, but it has always been quick to attack Muslims. The “Saudi” regime is hiding behind the excuse that the “legitimate government” in Yemen asked for help. The Najdi bedouins do not have legitimacy in the Arabian Peninsula so how can they claim to be supporting a “legitimate government” elsewhere? The supposed head of that so-called legitimate government — Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi — had already fled the country before the “Saudis” launched their air strikes killing scores of innocent civilians. These constitute war crimes and the “Saudi” rulers could be hauled before a court of law for their criminal conduct.

Beyond legality lie other unpleasant truths. The “Saudi” army is made up of amateurs. They have seldom if ever participated in any real battle. The regime has traditionally relied on creating sectarian fitnah — its principal mode of operation — and hiring mercenaries from other countries. The sectarian fitnah may not work in Yemen as successfully as it has in some other places because there are many Sunni groups fighting against the illegitimate regime of Hadi, in addition to the Houthis, the main revolutionary force in Yemen, who just happen to be Zaydi Shi‘is. How would the “Saudis” justify their sectarian charge against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president, who is “Sunni”? He was forced to resign in February 2012 under pressure from then King Abdullah of “Saudi” Arabia. Besides, the Houthis are now seen by most Yemenis as champions of the country’s independence, defending it against foreign aggression.

There appear to be two factors at work in the Najdi bedouins’ decision to attack Yemen. First, they are in panic mode given their failures on multiple fronts — Syria, Iraq, etc., where they have unleashed the takfiri beheaders and liver-eaters. While these monsters have caused immense suffering and even occupied some territory, they have failed in their primary objective of overthrowing the government in either. Second, the younger members of the ruling dynasty — Muhammad bin Nayef and Muhammad bin Salman — want to prove their macho credentials. The former was appointed Deputy Crown Prince after the death of King Abdullah in January. He was already the country’s interior minister, essentially Mr. Security for the Kingdom, and has earned notoriety for his brutal ways. The latter was appointed defence minister by his father when he became king following Abdullah’s death. Perhaps the two young “royals” have become intoxicated by the shiny American-made weapons their forces possess. What they have failed to realize is that it is not the gun but the man behind the gun that matters. The “Saudis” may be notorious for cruelty but they have no valour.

Many examples of the folly of relying on weapons are available. The US conduct of war in different locales offers sobering lessons. Who would have thought that despite their sophisticated weaponry, the Americans would suffer such an ignominious defeat in Afghanistan? The Hindu Kush mountains have once again proved to be the graveyard of empires. For nearly 40 years, the Afghans have known nothing but war and parts of the country are so poor that the Stone Age would feel like modernity. Yet, these so-called primitive people have not only endured more than a decade of American military aggression — the self-proclaimed superpower — but also 40 of its allies. Each and every one of America’s allies has slunk out of the country not daring to look back. The Americans, too, are about to slink out. Nor have the Americans given any better account in Iraq, or indeed in Vietnam five decades ago. While we may deride the Americans’ lack of valour, the “Saudis” lag far behind.

Beyond their fighting skills, or lack thereof, there are other factors that are equally revealing. The “Saudis” have made no secret that they attacked Yemen to protect “Arab” interests. Their mask of Islamicity is off by their own words and deeds. Committed Muslims have never had any illusions about the true nature of this regime whose entire record is one of treachery and betrayal of Islam. Those Muslims in their innocence or ignorance who fell for the Najdi bedouins’ propaganda that the ruler of the Kingdom is “Khadim al-Haramayn” (caretaker of the Two Holy Masjids) and serving the cause of Islam should now disabuse their minds of this myth because they are Khadim al-Mufsidayn (America and Israel).

Their Islamic credentials were always suspect. Further, few in the Muslim world adhere to the narrow literalist interpretations of Wahhabism. The regime has used its huge wealth to buy loyalty — according to one estimate, nearly $100 billion have been spent since 1975 to rope in individuals, groups and organizations to its side. While they may not have become Wahhabis, such people are coerced into silence about Saudi misdemeanours. Who would like to see their bakhshish stopped when life for most in the Muslim world is so difficult?

While the Najdi clowns cannot defeat the Houthis by bombardment from the air, should they make the mistake of sending in their ground troops, they would probably seal their fate. The Houthis would make minced meat of “Saudi” soldiers or any other mercenary forces from equally repressive Arabian regimes, be they Egyptian or Jordanian. Perhaps, revolutionary Muslims should pray that the Najdi bedouins make the mistake of blundering into launching a ground invasion of Yemen. That would perhaps hasten the end of this decrepit regime that has been the bane of Muslims for decades. The bedouins from Najd may have dug their own grave.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Will Yemen kick-off the ‘War of the two Blocs?’

By Sharmine Narwani | RT | March 31, 2015

There is media confusion about what is going on in Yemen and the broader Middle East. Pundits are pointing out that the US is looking schizophrenic with policies that back opposite sides of the fight against al-Qaeda-style extremism in Iraq and in Yemen.

But it isn’t that hard to understand the divergent policies once you comprehend the underlying drivers of the fight brewing in the region.

No, it isn’t a battle between Shia and Sunni, Iranian and Arab or the much-ballyhooed Iran-Saudi stand-off. Yes, these narratives have played a part in defining ‘sides,’ but often only in the most simplistic fashion, to rally constituencies behind a policy objective. And they do often reflect some truth.

But the ‘sides’ demarcated for our consumption do not explain, for instance, why Oman or Algeria refuse to participate, why Turkey is where it is, why Russia, China and the BRICS are participants, why the US is so conflicted in its direction – and why, in a number of regional conflicts, Sunni, Shia, Islamist, secularist, liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, Arab and Iranian sometimes find themselves on the same side.

This is not just a regional fight – it is a global one with ramifications that go well beyond the Middle East. The region is quite simply the theatre where it is coming to a head. And Yemen, Syria and Iraq are merely the tinderboxes that may or may not set off the conflagration.

“The battle, at its very essence, in its lowest common denominator, is a war between a colonial past and a post-colonial future.”

For the sake of clarity, let’s call these two axes the Neo-Colonial Axis and the Post-Colonial Axis. The former seeks to maintain the status quo of the past century; the latter strives to shrug off old orders and carve out new, independent directions.

If you look at the regional chessboard, the Middle East is plump with governments and monarchies backed to the hilt by the United States, Britain and France. These are the West’s “proxies” and they have not advanced their countries in the least – neither in self-sufficiencies nor in genuine democratic or developmental milestones. Indebted to ‘Empire’s’ patronage, these states form the regional arm of the Neo-Colonial Axis.

On the other side of the Mideast’s geopolitical fault line, Iran has set the standard for the Post-Colonial Axis – often referred to as the ‘Resistance Axis.’ Based on the inherent anti-imperialist worldview of the 1979 Islamic revolution, and also as a result of US/UK-driven isolating sanctions and global politics, Tehran has bucked the system by creating an indigenous system of governance, advancing its developmental ambitions and crafting alliances that challenge the status quo.

Iran’s staunchest allies have typically included Syria, Hezbollah and a handful of Palestinian resistance groups. But today, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring counter-revolutions – and the sheer havoc these have created – other independent players have discovered commonalities with the Resistance Axis. In the region, these include Iraq, Algeria and Oman. While outside the Mideast, we have seen Russia, China and other non-aligned nations step in to challenge the Neo-Colonial order.

Neo-Colonial Axis hits an Arab Spring wall

Today, the Neo-Colonials simply can’t win. They lack two essential components to maintain their hegemony: economy and common objectives.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the Middle East, where numerous initiatives and coalitions have floundered shortly after inception.

Once Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in Libya, all parties went their own way and the country fractured. In Egypt, a power struggle pitted Sunni against Sunni, highlighting the growing schism between two Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) patrons Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Syria, a heavyweight line-up of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the US and UK could not pull together a coherent regime-change plan or back the same horse.

In the vacuum created by these competing agendas, highly-organized al-Qaeda-style extremists stepped in to create further divergence among old allies.

Western hegemons – the original colonials and imperialists – grew fatigued, alarmed, and sought a way out of the increasingly dangerous quagmire. To do so, they needed to strike a compromise with the one regional state that enjoyed the necessary stability and military prowess to lead the fight against extremism from within the region. That would be their old adversary, Iran.

But the West is geographically distant from the Mideast, and can take these losses to a certain extent. For regional hegemons, however, the retreat of their Western patrons was anathema. As we can see, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have recently rushed to resolve their differences so they can continue to design the region’s direction in this Western vacuum.

These counter-revolutionary states, however, share grandiose visions of their own regional influence – each ultimately only keen to achieve their own primacy. And the continued ascendance of Iran has really grated: the Islamic Republic seems to have moved from strength to strength during this ‘Arab Spring,’ picking up new allies – regional and global – and consolidating its gains.

For Saudi Arabia, in particular, Iran’s incremental victories go beyond the pale. Riyadh has, after all, staked its regional leadership role on a sectarian and ethnic divide, representing Arab and Sunni stakeholders against “Iranian” and “Shiite” ones. Now suddenly, not only are the Americans, British and French dallying with the Iranians, but the GCC itself has been split down the center over the issue of ‘engagement vs. confrontation’ with the Islamic Republic.

Worse yet, the Saudi efforts to participate in the overthrow of Gaddafi, squash uprisings in Bahrain, control political outcomes in Yemen, destabilize Syria, divide Iraq and conquer Egypt seem to have come to naught.

In all instances, they have yet to see cemented, meaningful gains – and each quagmire threatens to unravel further and deplete ever more Saudi funds

Today, the Saudis find themselves surrounded by the sickly fruits of their various regional interventions. They have endured recent attacks by violent extremists on their Iraqi and Jordanian borders – many of these recipients of past Saudi funding – and now find themselves challenged on a third border, in Yemen, by a determined constituency that seeks to halt Saudi interventions.

Beyond that, Syria and Lebanon have slipped out of Riyadh’s grip, little Qatar seeks to usurp the traditional Saudi role in the Persian Gulf, Egypt dallies with Russia and China, and Pakistan and Turkey continue a meaningful engagement with Iran.

Meanwhile, the Iranians don’t have to do much of anything to raise the Saudi ire. Iran has stepped up its regional role largely because of the Saudi-led counter-revolution, and has cautiously thwarted Riyadh’s onslaughts where it could. It has buoyed allies – much like NATO or the GCC would in similar circumstances – but with considerably less aggression and while cleaving to the letter of international law.

The Saudis see Iranian hands everywhere in the region, but this is a fantasy at best. Iran has simply stepped into an opportunity when it arises, met the threats coming its way, and utilized all its available channels to blunt the Saudi advances in various military and political theaters.

Even the US intelligence community’s annual security assessment – a report card that regularly highlights the “Iranian threat” – concludes in 2015 that the Islamic Republic of Iran has “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.”

Yet all we hear these days blaring from Western and Arab media headlines is “Shia sectarianism, Iranian expansionism and Persian Empire.”

Tellingly, the American intelligence assessment launches its section on “terrorism” with the following: “Sunni violent extremists are gaining momentum and the number of Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens is greater than at any other point in history.”

And US officials admit: many of these Sunni extremists have been assisted and financed by none other than Washington allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

The Yemeni theater – a final battleground?

A senior official within a Resistance Axis state tells me: “The biggest mistake the Saudis made is to attack Yemen. I didn’t think they were that stupid.”

In the past week, the Saudis have cobbled together yet another Neo-Colonial ‘coalition’ – this time to punish Yemenis for ousting their made-in-Riyadh transitional government and pushing into the southern city of Aden.

The main Saudi adversaries are the Houthis, a group of northern, rural highlanders who have amassed a popular base throughout the north and other parts of Yemen over the course of ten years and six wars.

The Saudis (and the US) identify the Houthis as ‘Shiites’ and ‘Iranian-backed’ in order to galvanize their own bases in the region. But Iran has had little to do with the Houthis since their emergence as a political force in Yemen. And WikiLeaks showed us that US officials know this too. A 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Riyadh notes that Yemen’s former Saudi-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh provided “false or exaggerated information on Iranian assistance to the Houthis in order to enlist direct Saudi involvement and regionalize the conflict.”

And allegations that Iran arms the Houthis also fall flat. Another secret cable makes clear: “Contrary to ROYG (Republic of Yemen Government) claims that Iran is arming the Houthis, most local political analysts report that the Houthis obtain their weapons from the Yemeni black market and even from the ROYG military itself.”

Saleh was deposed in 2011 as a result of Arab Spring pressures, and in a twist worthy of the complicated Middle East, the wily former president now appears to be backing his former adversaries, the Houthis, against his old patrons, the Saudis.

The Houthis are adherents of the Muslim Zaydi sect – which falls somewhere between Sunnism and Shiism, and is followed by around 40 percent of Yemenis. Saleh, who fought the Houthis in half a dozen wars, is also a Zaydi – evidence that Yemen’s internal strife is anything but sectarian.

In fact, it could be argued that the Houthi – or Ansarallah movement – are a central constituency of Yemen’s ‘Arab Spring.’ Their demands since 2003 have, after all, largely been about ending disenfranchisement, gaining economic, political and religious rights, eliminating corruption, railing against the twin evils of America and Israel (a popular Post-Colonial Arab sentiment), and becoming stakeholders in the state.

To ensure the balance continued in their favor during the Arab Spring, the Neo-Colonial Axis installed a puppet transitional leader upon Saleh’s departure – an unelected president whose term ran out a year ago.

Then a few months ago, the Houthis – allegedly with the support of Saleh and his tens of thousands of followers – ousted their rivals in the puppet regime and took over the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. When the Saudis threatened retaliation, the Houthis pushed further southward… which brings us to the war front amassing against Yemen today.

This is not a battle the Saudis and their Neo-Colonial Axis can win. Airstrikes alone cannot turn this war, and it is unlikely that Riyadh and its coalition partners can expect troops on the ground to be any more successful – if they are even deployed.

The Houthis have learned over the past decade to fight both conventional and guerilla wars. This relatively small band of highlanders managed in 2009 to push 30 kilometers into Saudi territory and take over several dozen Saudi towns. When coalition-partner Egypt last fought a war with ground troops in Yemen, it became Gamal Abdel Nasser’s ‘Vietnam’ and nearly bankrupted the state.

Even majority-Sunni Pakistan, a traditional pipeline for staffing GCC armies, seems wary about this conflict. It too is fighting elsewhere on the same side as the Houthis, Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis – against violent Sunni extremists inside its borders and from their bases in neighboring Afghanistan. No amount of Saudi money will quench the anger of militant-weary Pakistanis if their government commits to this Yemeni fight – against the very groups (Houthis) that are battling al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

And, yes, it is ironic that the United States is now providing assistance and intelligence for the Saudi-led coalition – against the Houthis, who are fighting al-Qaeda.

But as mentioned earlier, this is not Washington’s neighborhood, and it does not approach this fight with the same goals of its close ally, Saudi Arabia.

The Resistance Axis official explains:

“The Americans see all outcomes as good: If the Houthis win, they will help get rid of al-Qaeda in Yemen. If the Saudis win, well, these are still the US’s allies. And if both sides enter a protracted war, that is “not a problem either,” referring to the ever-present US interest of selling weapons in conflict zones.

Despite a global ban, the United States has sold the Saudis $640 million worth of cluster bombs over the past two years, some of which have been used to carpet bomb parts of Yemen in the past few days. The cluster munitions were part of an overall $67 billion worth of arm deals with Saudi Arabia since the Arab uprisings kicked off in 2011.

The Iranians, meanwhile, are not doing much of anything, except insisting – like the Russians and others – that the bombardment of Yemen is criminal and that Yemenis need to solve their own problems via an internal dialogue.

And why should they make any moves? The Saudis are digging their own graves right now – and hastening the demise of the entire Neo-Colonial project in the Middle East, to boot.

“Tehran realizes that the fact that Riyadh had to bring together a major coalition to fight a group that is only on the outskirts of Iranian influence is a victory in itself,” says the US-based, conservative risk-analysis group, Stratfor.

Riyadh’s move to attack Yemen has just dragged the not-so-financially-flush Kingdom into yet another military quagmire, and this time directly, bypassing proxies altogether. Every airstrike in Yemen – and it is clear in the first few days that dozens of civilians, including children, have been killed – threatens to draw more adherents to the Houthi cause.

And every day that the Houthis are tied up in this battle, AQAP gets an opportunity to cement its hold elsewhere in the country. The net winner in this conflict is unlikely to be Saudi Arabia, but it may just be al-Qaeda – which is guaranteed to draw the Post-Colonial Axis into the strategically vital waterways surrounding Yemen.

The Arab League, under Saudi Arabia’s arm-twisting, just upped the ante by demanding that only a complete Houthi surrender (laying down weapons and withdrawing) would end the airstrikes. This ultimatum leaves very little room to jumpstart dialogue, and shows shocking disregard for the normal goals of military engagement, which try to leave ‘negotiation windows’ open.

It may be that the Saudis, who have rapidly lost influence and control in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, and other states in the past few years, have decided to go to the wall in Yemen.

Or it may just be some posturing to create momentum and bolster bruised egos.

But conflict has a way of balancing itself out – as in Syria and Iraq – by drawing other, unforeseen elements into the fray. With all the conflicts raging in the Middle East and encroaching on their borders, the Post-Colonial Axis has been forced to take a stand. And they bring to the field something their adversaries lack: common objectives and efficiency.

This is possibly the first time in the modern Mideast we have seen this kind of efficiency from within. And I speak specifically of Iran and its allies, both regional and external. They cannot ignore the threats that emanate from conflict, any more than the west can ignore the jihadi genie that threatens from thousands of miles away. So this Post-Colonial Axis moves further into the region to protect itself, bringing with it lessons learned and laser-focused common goals.

The Neo-Colonials will hit a wall in Yemen, just as they have in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Their disparate objectives will ensure that. The main concern as we enter yet another storm in Yemen is whether a flailing Empire will turn ugly at the eleventh hour and launch a direct war against its actual adversary, the Post-Colonial Axis. The Saudis are a real wild card – as are the Israelis – and may try to light that fuse. When the threat is existential, anything goes.

Yes, a regional war is as much a possibility over Yemen as it was over Syria. But this battle lies on a direct border of Saudi Arabia – ground zero for both violent extremism and the most virulently sectarian and ethnocentric elements of the anti-Resistance crowd – and so promises to deliver yet another decisive geopolitical shift in the Mideast. From Yemen, as from any confrontation between the two global blocs, a new regional reality is likely to emerge: what the Americans might call “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

And Yemen may yet become the next Arab state to enter a Post-Colonial order.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She tweets @snarwani

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment