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Great Lakes Nuclear Waste Dump: The Battle Continues

By Joyce Nelson | CounterPunch | January 15, 2016

Opposition to the proposed nuclear waste facility by Lake Huron continues to grow. By the end of 2015, at least 182 communities (representing more than 22 million people) on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border have adopted resolutions opposing the plan by Ontario Power Generation to build a deep geological repository (DGR) for storage of low- and intermediate-level radioactive nuclear waste.

A Canadian federal panel approved the nuclear waste dump in May 2015, accepting testimony that Lake Huron would be large enough to dilute any radioactive pollution that might leak from the DGR.

The immediate outcry on both sides of the border prompted the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to postpone any decision until Dec. 1, 2015, after the Oct. 19 federal election – in which they were booted out of office. The new government of Liberal Justin Trudeau then pushed that decision to March 1, 2016, after a dozen members of Michigan’s congressional delegation urged the new prime minister to deny the construction permits necessary for the storage facility to be built.

Meanwhile, American efforts to engage the International Joint Commision (IJC), which oversees boundary waters’ issues, have come to naught. As the IJC’s Public Information Officer Frank Bevacqua told me by email, both the Canadian and U.S. federal governments would have to ask the IJC to intervene on the issue. “The IJC does not review proposals for site-specific projects [like the DGR] unless asked to do so by both governments,” he said.

That means a final decision on the DGR may reside with a small First Nations community.

First Nation Decision

The proposed DGR would be located on the territory of the Saugeen First Nation, which is in the process of evaluating the proposal. The Saugeen First Nation has a promise from Ontario Power Generation to not proceed without their support. As Saugeen Chief Vernon Roote told Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN) in December, “Ontario Power Generation had given us their commitment that they will not proceed unless they have community support. That’s a letter that we have on file.” [1]

Saugeen First Nation negotiator (and former Chief) Randall Kahgee told ICTMN that “we are starting to build some momentum on the community engagement process.” The Saugeen leaders are determining how to gauge the community voice, whether by polling or by vote at public gatherings, and have already held some engagement sessions on the issue. [2]

Randall Kahgee told ICTMN, “For the communities, this is not just about the deep geological repository but also about the nuclear waste problem within our territory. We have always insisted that while this problem is not of our own design, we must be part of shaping the solution. Gone are the days when our people, communities and Nation are left on the outside looking in within our own territory. These are complex issues that will force us to really ask ourselves what does it mean to be stewards of the land. The opportunity to be able to shape the discourse on these matters is both exciting and frightening at the same time.” [3]

The Saugeen First Nation is especially concerned about simply moving the proposed facility into somebody else’s backyard. “We might not be the best of friends when we push nuclear waste on our brothers’ and sisters’ territory,” he told ICTMN.

Nuclear Expansion

The proposal by provincial Crown corporation Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is for at least 7 million cubic feet of nuclear wastes from Ontario nuclear power plants to be buried in chambers drilled into limestone 2,231 feet below the surface and under the Bruce nuclear site at Kincardine, Ontario. The waste to be entombed in the DGR would come from the Bruce, Pickering and Darlington nuclear sites in Ontario – currently home to 18 Candu reactors.

The eight nuclear reactors at the Bruce site (the world’s largest nuclear station) are leased from OPG by a private company called Bruce Power, whose major shareholders/partners include TransCanada Corp. – better known for its tarsands pipeline projects. (TransCanada earns more than one-third of its profits from power-generation.) Bruce Power pays OPG for storage of nuclear wastes, which are currently stored and monitored above-ground on site. [4]

In December, Bruce Power announced that it will invest $13 billion to refurbish the Bruce site, overhauling six of the eight reactors on Lake Huron beginning in 2020. [5] Just weeks later, OPG announced a $12.8 billion refurbishment of four nuclear reactors at Darlington, while extending the life of its ageing Pickering nuclear power plant on Lake Ontario. [6] The Pickering move requires public hearings and approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, but Ontario’s Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli has voiced his approval and touted the nuclear industry as “emissions-free,” while ignoring the issue of nuclear wastes.

OPG, Bruce Power, and the Ontario government are obviously onside with the Canadian Nuclear Association lobby, whose president and CEO John Barrett is using the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement to push for nuclear expansion. In an op-ed for The Globe and Mail, Barrett declared that “it is time to recognize the contribution – current and potential – of nuclear power in curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide,” and he stated that Canada, with its uranium mining and nuclear reactor technology, is “ready to play an international leadership role on climate change.” [7]

Barrett, in turn, is onside with the billionaires now pushing nuclear energy expansion worldwide: Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Peter Thiel (PayPal co-founder), Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founders), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) have all endorsed nuclear energy as the solution to climate change. [8] As well, scientists James Hansen, Kerry Emmanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley have recently called for building 115 new reactors per year as “the only viable path forward”. [8] They dismiss nuclear waste as “trivial” and claim that there “are technical means to dispose of this small amount of waste safely.”

In that case, the resulting nuclear waste should be stored in their basements and under the billionaires’ mansions, rather than near bodies of water like the Great Lakes, which provide 40 million people with their drinking water.


[1] Konnie Lemay, “Saugeen Nation May Be Final Word in Nuclear Waste Storage Next to Lake Huron,” Indian Country Today Media Network, December 11, 2015.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Joyce Nelson, “Nuclear Dump Controversy,” Watershed Sentinel, Sept.-Oct., 2015.

[5] Robert Benzie, “Bruce Power to invest $13 billion to refurbish nuclear station on Lake Huron,” Toronto Star, December 3, 2015.

[6] Rob Ferguson, “Ontario Power Generation to spend $12.8 billion refurbishing four Darlington nuclear reactors,” Toronto Star, January 11, 2016.

[7] John Barrett, “Nuclear power is key to decarbonization, and Canada can lead the way,” The Globe and Mail, December 16, 2015.

[8] Emily Schwartz Greco, “A Big Fat Radioactive Lie,” Other, December 4, 2015.

Joyce Nelson is an award-winning Canadian freelance writer/researcher working on her sixth book.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Netanyahu: Muslims cause “unbearable noise”

Palestine Information Center – January 15, 2016

1096752778NAZARETH – Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said that Adhan (Islamic call to prayer) violates Israel’s interior laws as it causes “unbearable noise.”

During a meeting with the Likud bloc in the Knesset, Netanyahu claimed that “Arab towns must abide by the law of the land and fulfill their obligations to the state and society.”

This includes, Netanyahu continued, refraining from polygamy, which is practiced by Muslim-Arabs, stopping the noise caused by the Adhan, voiced five times a day by Muslim-Arab mosques, and halting construction without permit.

“I am not prepared to accept two States of Israel, a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of them, in enclaves in which there is no law enforcement.”

There is no religious text that allows disturbing people by loudspeakers, according to his claims.

He also pointed to polygamy in Arab towns, claiming that “women’s rights organizations remain silent over this practice.”

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli plan for minorities slammed as bid to ‘divide and conquer’

By Chloe Benoist – Ma’an – January 15, 2016

BETHLEHEM – A plan approved by Israel’s cabinet last week to provide half a billion dollars worth of assistance to Israel’s Druze and Circassian minorities has been denounced by leaders of Israel’s Palestinian community as a “divide and conquer” tactic.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the 2 billion shekel ($510 million) multi-year plan “for the development of the Druze and Circassian communities” at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The plans followed the earlier announcement of a 15 billion shekel ($3.8 billion) five-year plan to address the gaps in access to infrastructure and discrepancies in rights between Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and their Jewish counterparts.

While it was not initially clear whether the assistance to the Druze and Circassian communities was included in this larger plan, Netanyahu warned separately on Sunday that the larger plan for the development of other “Arab communities” was dependent on the implementation of a law enforcement plan alongside it.

“I want to make it clear that nothing that has been done in various areas — infrastructure, tourism, education, trade, economy — can move forward if we do not address the question of enforcing the laws of the state of Israel in the Arab sector,” the prime minister said.

The further security measures proposed by Netanyahu would target Palestinian citizens of Israel — who represent an estimated 20 percent of the Israeli population — but would, critics say, do so unequally.

Security measures for ‘good Arabs and bad Arabs’

Palestinian communities in Israel recently came under intense scrutiny from Israel’s security forces after a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, Nashat Melhem, allegedly killed two Israelis at a Tel Aviv cafe on Jan. 1, before killing a Palestinian citizen of Israel as he fled the scene.

Melhem was killed in a shootout with Israeli forces on Jan. 8 in his hometown of Arara in northern Israel.

Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Advocacy Center For Arab Citizens In Israel, told Ma’an at the time that there had been a high level of incitement against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship on the part of Israeli government officials.

“The atmosphere right now is very heavy and racist — there is a lot of incitement against Arabs,” Farah said. “We know that in these circumstances there is no authority willing to intervene in the media to do anything other than support the (crackdown).”

“This is a period where the extreme right wing is trying to prove that the occupation is not the problem, but the relationship between Jewish and Arab communities is.”

Farah’s sentiments were echoed by Aida Touma-Suleiman, a member of the Israeli’s Knesset representing the left-wing Hadash party of the Arab Joint List coalition, who sees the Israeli government’s recent funding plans as reflective of its discriminatory policy.

Touma-Suleiman slammed the government’s intention to tie development aid for Palestinian communities to law enforcement as an attempt “to create conditioned citizenship.”

This “conditioned citizenship,” she said, was being carried out by the Israeli government with the aim of creating divisions among Palestinians in Israel.

“This has been a tactic from different Israeli governments, even those who claim they are from the left,” she told Ma’an.

“They try to divide and conquer us, either based on geographical locations, religious affiliations, and now between good Arabs and bad Arabs. Those who obey the government, who serve in the military, will benefit from the plan, and those who refuse the government’s oppression will not.

“We are used to the attempted fragmentation of the community, and we’ll always stand against it,” she said.

‘Divide and conquer policy’

Israeli law differentiates between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, and forms further distinctions between various Palestinians minorities.

Druze and Circassians are subject to mandatory military service in the Israeli army, whereas Muslim or Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel are not. Israeli identification papers do not recognize Christians, Druze and Circassians as Arabs, unlike Muslims.

These legal distinctions have been criticized by many, including MK Abdullah Abu Maruf, as an attempt to divide the Palestinian population inside Israel.

Abu Maruf, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and, like Touma-Suleiman, a member of the Hadash party, told Ma’an that Israel’s plan — which he said would actually only amount to 1.2 billion shekels — was an attempt to sow divisions among Israel’s Palestinian minorities through preferential treatment.

“As an Arab citizen and a member of Knesset I never oppose allocation of money to the Arab citizens, but we are against a political process of discrimination,” the MK said.

“All members of the Joint List view this plan in the same way,” he added. “We consider it a ‘divide and conquer’ policy. It’s a continuation of the systematic Israeli government policy towards Arabs in Israel.”

Abu Maruf noted that a similar plan to allocate funds to the Druze and Circassian communities was approved by the Israeli cabinet in late 2014, although he pointed out that only 10 percent of the 185 million shekel project had been allocated so far.

A Druze himself, he further pointed to the small size of the Druze and Circassian communities in Israel, which total around 130,000 and 4,000 respectively.

“With all due respect, this is a small number and the Israelis are using this to talk about minorities and enact discriminatory policies,” Abu Maruf said.

‘The rights we deserve’

This is not the only initiative since the beginning of the year to explicitly benefit the two communities. On Jan. 5, less than a week earlier, the Israeli National Planning and Building Council approved an initiative presented by Netanyahu to “build a new Druze town” near the northern town of Tiberias, a press release from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office revealed at the time.

“I ascribe great importance to the establishment of a new Druze town that will advance the Druze sector,” Netanyahu said following the announcement. “The Druze community has bound its fate to the State of Israel.”

According to rights organization Adalah, there are at least 76 Israeli laws that discriminate between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

A 2011 report by the organization stated that “Arab municipalities exercis[ed] jurisdiction over only 2.5 percent of the total area of the state,” adding that no new Palestinian towns had been built in Israel since 1948, compared to 600 Jewish municipalities. Infrastructure in Palestinian-majority towns is notoriously inadequately maintained, and access to public transportation is insufficient.

“This plan is not a favor from anybody, it is only a small part of the rights we deserve,” Touma-Suleiman said.

“We are also worried of the political use of this plan against us,” she added. “Netanyahu’s government needs this plan for international reasons, in order to build an image of Israel as a democratic state at a time when there is international criticism of Israeli policies.”

“Even if this plan is not implemented later on, it will still look like the government is looking after its Arab citizens.”

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Government must clarify whether UK personnel are under Saudi orders

Reprieve | January 15, 2016

UK personnel are working in a Saudi Arabian “control centre” assisting with targeting as part of a bombing campaign in Yemen, which has been accused of attacks which “may amount to a war crime” by the UN Secretary General.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told journalists today that “British officers were working alongside Saudi and other coalition colleagues in the campaign’s operations rooms,” according to media reports. The campaign has reportedly hit several Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) facilities, as well as a centre for the blind and a wedding hall.

The Saudi minister’s revelations go further than previous British Government statements, which have said that nearly 100 UK personnel are embedded in ‘Coalition HQs’ but have failed to specify which coalitions those are. It now appears that the Written Statement published by the Defence Secretary in December last year may have been referring to UK personnel embedded with the Saudi coalition, but did not make this clear at the time.

Whether or not the British personnel in the Saudi centre are ‘embedded’ is significant because the UK Government has previously stated that such personnel fall under the control of the ‘host nation’ – in this case, the Saudis. In a July 2015 statement to Parliament, Michael Fallon said that “Embedded UK personnel operate as if they were the host nation’s personnel, under that nation’s chain of command, but remain subject to UK domestic, international and Host Nation law.” Therefore, there are concerns that the UK personnel in the centre could be under the command of the Saudi authorities.

Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at international human rights organization Reprieve said:

“The Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians, hitting Medicins Sans Frontieres clinics, a school for the blind and a wedding hall.’

“It is shocking to discover that our Government has embroiled British personnel in the targeting process that is creating this mayhem. More disturbingly, we’re learning about the UK’s involvement not from the our Government, but from the Saudi authorities who now appear to be more transparent than their British counterparts.

“Crucial questions remain unanswered: whose command are British personnel in the Saudi operations centre under – British or Saudi? Are they ‘embedded’ personnel referred to in the Defence Secretary’s vague December statement, which stated that 94 British personnel were embedded in ‘Coalition HQs?’ And what part have ministers played in signing off their activities? The British public has a right to know.”

January 15, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Israeli occupation authorities extend remand of journalist, slap travel ban on MP


Journalist Mujahed al-Saadi
Palestine Information Center – January 15, 2016

JENIN – The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) on Thursday extended the detention of a Palestinian journalist for eight days and slapped a travel ban on the Second Deputy-Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

A PIC news reporter quoted local sources as stating that the Israeli court at the Jalama lock-up, in 1948 Occupied Palestine, extended the remand of journalist Mujahed al-Saadi for eight days pending further investigation.

Al-Saadi, working as a reporter and photojournalist for the Palestine Today TV Channel, was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation soldiers a couple of days ago from his own family home in the occupied West Bank province of Jenin.

Meanwhile, the IOA banned the PLC Second Deputy-Speaker, Hassan Khreisheh, from travelling to Turkey via the al-Karama border crossing.

Khreisheh was quoted by the Quds Press as saying that the IOA informed him of the ban after he had been detained for four hours at the al-Karama crossing and without specifying the reasons for the ban.

MP Khreisheh was on his way to Turkey to take part in a pro-Palestine event.

He said the IOA has renewed a travel ban to which he had been subjected to over the past seven years.

The MP said such arbitrary bans make part of Israeli attempts to quell anti-occupation voices overseas.

Khreisheh slammed the silence maintained by the Palestinian Authority (PA), chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, over Israeli bans on Palestinian MPs.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Letter to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand re: Visit with Netanyahu

By Matt Peppe | Just the Facts | January 15, 2016

This letter was delivered to Senator Gillibrand electronically on January 15, 2016. I encourage you to write to Senator Gillibrand or to your own Senator and share your thoughts about this issue.

Honorable Senator Gillibrand:

I read in Haaretz recently that along with seven other Senators you visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the nuclear deal with Iran. While I applaud you for supporting this monumental deal, I am disappointed that you feel the need to placate a rogue state who presents a grave danger to the Middle East and is one of the world’s worst human rights violators.

According to Haaretz, you said you discussed with Netanyahu “the ongoing threats from Iran and its proxies, terrorism and violent extremism in the region, the future of Israel, and how the United States can continue to work with Israel to ensure its security.”

In case you are not familiar with history, the only time in the last 300 years Iran has invaded another country was under the Shah, a client sponsored and propped up by the United States. Unlike Israel, Iran is not occupying another nation’s land, stealing its water and transferring its own civilian population into its territory in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Iran, unlike Israel, has signed and complied with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. (Israel is one of only four states in the world not to have signed the NPT.) In fact, Israel is the only nation in violation of UNSC Resolution 687, which declares “the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons.”

Israel has at least 200 nuclear weapons and has for at least the last 30 years. During the 1980s, Israel provided the charges to detonate nuclear weapons to the apartheid South African regime, making the most despised government in the world a nuclear power.

Last fall, the United Nations General Assembly sought to counter “the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East” with a resolution recognizing that this “would pose a serious threat to international peace and security.” This threat necessitates “the immediate need for placing all nuclear facilities in the region of the Middle East under full-scope safeguards of the Agency.”

The resolution passed by a margin of 151-4. Only the United States, Israel, Canada and Micronesia voted against it. In a separate resolution, the U.S. and Israel stood alone against 177 other countries who supported further efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. That resolution calls for a “prohibition on the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons.”

Even without its WMD, Israel would pose a grave threat to peace with its army and conventional weapons alone. Israel has repeatedly violated the sovereignty of its neighboring countries, the most flagrant example being the aggressive invasion and occupation of Lebanon in 1982 which killed 20,000 people. Unlike Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel has even attacked the United States itself. In 1967, Israeli warplanes bombarded the USS Liberty, killing 34 American servicemen. Israel’s possession of WMD only compounds their destructive capacity.

If you truly seek to lessen the ongoing threats of extremist violence in the Middle East, you should be concerned about Israel’s military occupation of Palestine and its denial of citizenship and human rights to Palestinians. You should work to end the ideological, economic, military and diplomatic support by the United States government that is essential to maintaining the occupation.

Otherwise any reasonable person would dismiss your professed goal to bring peace to the region as flagrant hypocrisy –  the type of condescension to the people of the Middle East and beyond that has made US foreign policy so despised around the world.

I urge you to help bring the United States in line with the international consensus by holding Israel – and the United States itself – to the same standards you apply to others. Thank you for consideration and I would welcome a response.


Matt Peppe

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

What Accounts for the Saudi Regime’s Hysterical Belligerence? The Agony of Death

By Ismael Hossein-Zadeh | CounterPunch | January 15, 2016

The purpose of this essay is to explain, not describe, the frantically belligerent behavior of the Saudi regime. The goal is not to delve into what the regime and its imperialist enablers have done, or are doing; that unsavory record of atrocities, both at home and abroad, is abundantly exposed by other writers/commentators [1]. It is, rather, to focus on why they have done or are doing what they do.

In the Throes of the Agony of Death

The Saudi rulers find themselves in a losing race against time, or history. Although in denial, they cannot but realize the historical reality that the days of ruling by birthright are long past, and that the House of Saud as the ruler of the kingdom by inheritance is obsolete.

This is the main reason for the Saudi’s frantically belligerent behavior. The hysteria is tantamount to the frenzy of the proverbial agony of a prolonged death. It explains why they react so harshly to any social or geopolitical development at home or in the region that they perceive as a threat to their rule.

It explains why, for example, they have been so intensely hostile to the Iranian revolution that terminated the rule of their dictatorial counterpart, the Shah of Iran, in that country. In the demise of the Shah they saw their own downfall.

It also explains their hostility to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia that ended the perpetual rule of Hosni Mubarak in Cairo and that of

Ben Ali in Tunis. Panicked by the specter of the spread of those revolutionary upheavals to other countries in the region, especially the kingdoms and sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf area, the Saudi rules and their well-known patrons abroad promptly embarked on “damage control.” (The not-so-secret patrons of the House of Saud include mainly the military-industrial-security-intelligence complex, Neocon forces and the Israel lobby.)

The ensuing agenda of containment, derailment and preemption of similar revolutionary upheavals has been comprehensive and multi-prong. Among other schemes, the agenda has included the following:

(1) brutally cracking down on peaceful opposition at home, including summary executions and ferocious beheadings;

(2) pursuing destabilizing policies in places such as Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen by funding and/or arming rabidly violent Wahhabi/Salafi jihadists and other mercenaries;

(3) trying to sabotage genuine international efforts to reduce tensions and bloodshed in Syria, Yemen and other places;

(4) trying to sabotage the nuclear agreement and other tension-reducing efforts between Iran and Western powers;

(5) pursuing policies that would promote tensions and divisions along ethnic, nationalist and religious lines in the region, such as the provocative beheading of the prominent and peaceful Shi’a critic Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr ; and

(6) seeking “chaos to cover terror tracks,” as the well-known expert in international affairs Finian Cunningham put it [2].

To the dismay of the Saudi regime, while these depraved policies have succeeded in causing enormous amounts of death and destruction in the region, they have failed in achieving their objectives: stability in the Saudi kingdom and security for its regime. On the contrary, the reckless policies of trying to eliminate its perceived opponents have backfired: the regime is now more vulnerable than four or five years ago when it embarked (in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions) on the vainly aggressive policy of trying to eliminate the supposed dangers to its rule.

The illegal war on Yemen, carried out with the support of the United States, has turned from what was supposed to be a cakewalk into a stalemate. Not only has it solidified and emboldened the sovereignty-aspiring Houthis resistance to the Saudi-led aggression, it has also considerably benefited al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Likewise, the War on Syria, largely funded by the Saudi regime, has fallen way short of its goal of unseating President Assad. Here too the aggression has handsomely benefited a motley array of mercenary and jihadi groups, especially those affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra, known as al-Qaeda in Syria, and the so-called Islamic State.

In both of these countries the power and influence of the Saudi regime and its partners in crime is in decline while the resistance is gradually gaining the upper hand, especially in Syria—thanks largely to the support from Russia and Iran.

Perhaps more tragically for the Saudi regime, has been the failure of its “oil war” against Russia and Iran. Recklessly saturating global markets with unlimited supply of oil in the face of dwindling demand and increased production in the U.S. has reduced the price of oil by more than 60 percent. This has led to an officially-declared budget deficit of $98 billion for the current fiscal year, which has forced the regime to curb social spending and/or economic safety net programs. There are indications that the unprecedented belt-tightening economic policies are creating public discontent, which is bound to make the regime even more vulnerable.

A bigger blowback from the regime’s “oil war,” however, goes beyond economic problems at home. More importantly, it has led to an unintended consequence that tends to make the regime les secure by reducing its economic and geopolitical worth to its imperialist benefactors. Cheap and abundant energy in global markets is bound to undermine the indispensability of the House of Saud to its imperial patrons. In using oil as a weapon against their rivals, the spoiled big babies of Western powers in the Arabian Peninsula may have pushed their luck too far.

Combined, these blowbacks and ominous consequences of the Saudi regime’s belligerent policies have made the regime and its allies in the region more vulnerable while giving strength and credibility to the resisting forces in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, supported by Iran and Russia. These unintended consequences of the Saudi rulers’ aggressions explain why they are panic-stricken and behave hysterically.


[1] See, for example, Finian Cunningham, “Saudis Seek Chaos to Cover Terror Tracks”; Jim Lobe, “Neocons Defend Saudi Arabia”; and Pepe Escobar, “Fear And Loathing in the House of Saud.”

[2] Ibid.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Indonesia snubs Saudi ‘anti-terror’ coalition… then its capital gets hit

RT | January 15, 2016

Indonesia joins a growing list of countries beyond the Middle East region reportedly hit by the Islamic State group or its affiliates. Is it a case of IS simply going global, or is there something else to the latest incident in Indonesia?

On the face of it, the attacks this week in downtown Jakarta – the Indonesian capital of 10 million people – are similar to those carried out in Paris last November, albeit with much less deadly results. Both involved a team of suicide bombers and gun attacks.

In the Paris attacks, some eight armed men killed 130 people when they struck at various public venues on November 13. This week in Jakarta up to 15 assailants armed with explosives and rifles managed to kill only two civilians; the other five reported dead were attackers who were shot by police or blew themselves up.

From the terrorists’ point of view, the Jakarta operation was a failure. That failure was partly due to the vigilance of Indonesian police, who had increased security across the capital in recent weeks due to what they said was the interception of terror communications.

Jakarta deputy police chief Budi Gunawan was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying that a homegrown Islamist network in the Java city of Solo had been plotting terror attacks with jihadists based in Syria.

“We detected communications between a Syria group and the Solo group,” said Gunawan. Following the Jakarta violence, the IS group reportedly claimed responsibility.

The question is: what’s behind the uptick in IS-affiliated activity in Indonesia? Police reportedly made several arrests against suspected IS operatives in recent weeks.

Indonesia is no stranger to terrorism carried out by Islamist groups. Between 2000 and 2009, there were six major terrorist atrocities. The biggest one was the bombings in the tourist resort of Bali in 2002 which killed over 200 people. But for the past five years, the country has enjoyed relative peace.

Author and expert on Indonesia Jeremy Menchik told France 24 in an interview Thursday night that the relative quiet in the world’s fourth largest nation has been achieved because of the country’s relatively democratic transition having been able to co-opt dissident Islamist groups.

With a population of over 240 million, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country. While the country suffered from a brutal dictatorship under Suharto from 1965 until the late 1990s, it has since managed to steer a more benign, inclusive and secular political path.

Under President Joko Widodo, elected in 2014, Indonesia has managed to contain its erstwhile radical Islamist problem.

Saudi revenge for Indonesia’s PR snub?

One month ago, on December 17, Saudi Arabia launched a 34 Islamic nation “anti-terror” coalition, with an ostentatious announcement in the Saudi capital Riyadh. The surprise initiative was welcomed by Washington and London, although it was greeted with skepticism by many observers given the documented role that the Saudi rulers have had in funding and arming terror groups, including the Islamic State and other Al Qaeda-linked militants.

Skeptics noted that the Saudi-led coalition of 34 Islamic nations appeared to be hastily cobbled together, with some of the nominal member countries later saying that they had not been consulted by the Saudis in its formation. Not included in the Saudi initiative of the “anti-terror” Islamic bloc were Iraq and Iran, perhaps unsurprisingly given the Saudi antagonism with these mainly Shiite countries.

Even more pointedly, two major Islamic nations, Algeria and Indonesia, explicitly declined to participate in the Saudi-led alliance.

Given the prominence of Indonesia as the world’s biggest Muslim country, the Saudi initiative was thus dealt a severe public relations blow by Jakarta’s refusal to sign up.

It is believed that Saudi Arabia has been behind the funding of radical Islamist groups within Indonesia going back several years, according to the Financial Times.

With that in mind, the Indonesia authorities most likely snubbed the Saudi “anti-terror” coalition last month for precisely the same reasons that many analysts dismissed it. Seeing it as a cynical public-relations gimmick by the Saudis who are trying to burnish their badly tarnished international image over suspected links with terrorism, particularly in Syria’s five-year conflict.

That raises the plausible conjecture that the terror attacks this week in Jakarta by an IS-connected group may have been orchestrated as a form of retaliation against the Indonesian government for its embarrassing snub against the Saudis last month.

If the Saudis and Western intelligence are indeed in some murky way driving jihadist terrorism for their geopolitical agenda, then it stands to reason that such terror groups could be manipulated by these same protagonists in Indonesia – or anywhere else for that matter.

A terror attack in the heart of Jakarta apparently carried out by the IS group would serve as a sharp warning to Indonesia over its derisory put-down of the Western-backed Saudi “anti-terror” coalition.

The sudden uptick in Islamist terror activity in Indonesia and the failure of the attackers in Jakarta to inflict greater damage suggest that the assault was hurriedly planned. As in the orders to the operatives were hastily dispatched and acted on.

That would fit with the theory that the Saudi sponsors of terrorism were looking for a quick counter to Indonesia undermining their anti-terror charade last month.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment