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Echoes of Iraq-WMD Fraud in Syria

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 10, 2017

The New York Times and other Western media have learned few lessons from the Iraq War, including how the combination of a demonized foreign leader and well-funded “activists” committed to flooding the process with fake data can lead to dangerously false conclusions that perpetuate war.

What we have seen in Syria over the past six years parallels what occurred in Iraq in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion in 2002-03. In both cases, there was evidence that the “system” was being gamed – by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) in pushing for the Iraq War and by pro-rebel “activists” promoting “regime change” in Syria – but those warnings were ignored. Instead, the flood of propagandistic claims overwhelmed what little skepticism there was in the West.

Regarding Iraq, the INC generated a surge of “defectors” who claimed to know where Saddam Hussein was concealing his WMD stockpiles and where his nuclear program was hidden. In Syria, we have seen something similar with dubious claims about chemical weapons attacks.

The Iraqi “defectors,” of course, were lying, and a little-noticed congressional study revealed that the CIA had correctly debunked some of the fakers but – because of the pro-invasion political pressure from George W. Bush’s White House and the U.S. mainstream media’s contempt for Saddam Hussein – other bogus claims were accepted as true. The result was catastrophic.

But the telltale signs of an INC disinformation campaign were there before the war. For instance, by early February 2003, as the final invasion plans were underway, the parade of Iraqi “walk-ins” was continuing. U.S. intelligence agencies had progressed up to “Source Eighteen,” one fellow who came to epitomize what some CIA analysts suspected was systematic INC coaching of sources.

As the CIA planned a debriefing of Source Eighteen, another Iraqi exile passed on word to the agency that an INC representative had told Source Eighteen to “deliver the act of a lifetime.” CIA analysts weren’t sure what to make of that piece of news since Iraqi exiles frequently badmouthed each other but the value of the warning soon became clear.

U.S. intelligence officers debriefed Source Eighteen the next day and discovered that “Source Eighteen was supposed to have a nuclear engineering background, but was unable to discuss advanced mathematics or physics and described types of ‘nuclear’ reactors that do not exist,” according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Iraq War’s intelligence failures.

“Source Eighteen used the bathroom frequently, particularly when he appeared to be flustered by a line of questioning, suddenly remembering a new piece of information upon his return. During one such incident, Source Eighteen appeared to be reviewing notes,” the report said.

Not surprisingly, U.S. intelligence officers concluded that Source Eighteen was a fabricator. But the sludge of INC-connected disinformation kept oozing through the U.S. intelligence community, fouling the American intelligence product in part because there was little pressure from above demanding strict quality controls. Indeed, the opposite was true.

A more famous fake Iraqi defector earned the code name “Curve Ball” and provided German intelligence agencies details about Iraq’s alleged mobile facilities for producing agents for biological warfare.

Tyler Drumheller, then chief of the CIA’s European Division, said his office had issued repeated warnings about Curve Ball’s accounts. “Everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening,” Drumheller said. [Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2005]

Despite those objections and the lack of direct U.S. contact with Curve Ball, he earned a rating as “credible” or “very credible,” and his information became a core element of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq. Drawings of Curve Ball’s imaginary bio-weapons labs were a central feature of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the U.N. on Feb. 5, 2003.

The Syrian Parallel

Regarding Syria, a similar mix of factors exists. The Obama administration’s advocacy for Syrian “regime change” and the hostility from many Western interest groups toward President Bashar al-Assad lowered the bar of skepticism enabling propaganda arms of Al Qaeda and its jihadist allies to have enormous success in selling dubious accusations about chemical attacks and other atrocities.

As with the CIA analysts who tripped up a few of the Iraqi liars, some United Nations investigators have seen evidence of the trickery. For instance, they learned from townspeople of Al-Tamanah about how the rebels and allied “activists” staged a chlorine gas attack on the night of April 29-30, 2014, and then sold the false story to a credulous Western media and, initially, to the U.N. investigative team.

“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the U.N. report stated. “While people sought safety after the warnings, their homes were looted and rumours spread that the events were being staged. … [T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”

Accounts from other people, who did allege that there had been a government chemical attack on Al-Tamanah, provided suspect evidence, including data from questionable sources, according to the U.N. report.

The report said, “Three witnesses, who did not give any description of the incident on 29-30 April 2014, provided material of unknown source. One witness had second-hand knowledge of two of the five incidents in Al-Tamanah, but did not remember the exact dates. Later that witness provided a USB-stick with information of unknown origin, which was saved in separate folders according to the dates of all the five incidents mentioned by the FFM (the U.N.’s Fact-Finding Mission).

“Another witness provided the dates of all five incidents reading it from a piece of paper, but did not provide any testimony on the incident on 29-30 April 2014. The latter also provided a video titled ‘site where second barrel containing toxic chlorine gas was dropped tamanaa 30 April 14’”

Some other witnesses alleging a Syrian government attack offered curious claims about detecting the chlorine-infused “barrel bombs” based on how the device sounded in its descent.

The U.N. report said, “The eyewitness, who stated to have been on the roof, said to have heard a helicopter and the ‘very loud’ sound of a falling barrel. Some interviewees had referred to a distinct whistling sound of barrels that contain chlorine as they fall. The witness statement could not be corroborated with any further information.”

However, the claim itself is absurd since it is inconceivable that anyone could detect a chlorine canister inside a “barrel bomb” by “a distinct whistling sound.”

The larger point, however, is that the jihadist rebels in Al-Tamanah and their propaganda teams, including relief workers and activists, appear to have organized a coordinated effort at deception complete with a fake video supplied to U.N. investigators and Western media outlets.

For instance, the Telegraph in London reported that “Videos allegedly taken in Al-Tamanah … purport to show the impact sites of two chemical bombs. Activists said that one person had been killed and another 70 injured.”

The Telegraph also quoted supposed weapons expert Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, as endorsing the report. “Witnesses have consistently reported the use of helicopters to drop the chemical barrel bombs used,” said Higgins. “As it stands, around a dozen chemical barrel bomb attacks have been alleged in that region in the last three weeks.”

To finish up pointing the finger of guilt at the government, the Telegraph added that “The regime is the only party in the civil war that possesses helicopters” – a claim that also has been in dispute since the rebels had captured government air assets and had received substantial military assistance from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, Israel, Jordan and other countries.

The Al-Tamanah debunking received no mainstream media attention when the U.N. findings were issued in September 2016 because the U.N. report relied on rebel information to blame two other alleged chlorine attacks on the government and that got all the coverage. But the case should have raised red flags given the extent of the apparent deception.

If the seven townspeople were telling the truth, that would mean that the rebels and their allies issued fake attack warnings, produced propaganda videos to fool the West, and prepped “witnesses” with “evidence” to deceive investigators. Yet, no alarms went off about other rebel claims.

The Ghouta Incident

A more famous attack – with sarin gas on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013, killing hundreds – was also eagerly blamed on the Assad regime, as The New York Times, Human Rights Watch, Higgins’s Bellingcat and many other Western outlets jumped to that conclusion despite the unlikely circumstances. Assad had just welcomed U.N. investigators to Damascus to examine chemical attacks that he was blaming on the rebels.

Assad also was facing a “red line” threat from President Obama warning him of possible U.S. military intervention if the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons. Why Assad and his military would choose such a moment to launch a deadly sarin attack, killing mostly civilians, made little sense.

But this became another rush to judgment in the West that brought the Obama administration to the verge of launching a devastating air attack on the Syrian military that might have helped Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and/or the Islamic State win the war.

Eventually, however, the case blaming Assad for the 2013 sarin attack collapsed. An analysis by genuine weapons experts – Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Richard M. Lloyd, an analyst at the military contractor Tesla Laboratories – found that the missile that delivered the sarin had a very short range placing its likely firing position in rebel territory.

Later, reporting by journalist Seymour Hersh implicated Turkish intelligence working with jihadist rebels as the likely source of the sarin.

We also learned in 2016 that a message from the U.S. intelligence community had warned Obama how weak the evidence against Assad was. There was no “slam-dunk” proof, said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. And Obama cited his rejection of the Washington militaristic “playbook” to bomb Syria as one of his proudest moments as President.

With this background, there should have been extreme skepticism when jihadists and their allies made new claims about the Syrian government engaging in chemical weapons attacks, just like the CIA should have recognized that the Iraqi National Congress’s production of some obviously phony “walk-ins” justified doubts about all of them.

After the invasion of Iraq and the U.S. failure to find the promised WMD caches, INC leader Ahmed Chalabi congratulated his organization as “heroes in error” for its success in using falsehoods to help get the United States to invade.

But the West appears to have learned next to nothing from the Iraq deceptions – or arguably the lessons are being ignored out of a desire to continue the neoconservative “regime change” project for the Middle East.

Pressure to Confirm

U.N. investigators, who have been under intense pressure to confirm accusations against the Syrian government, continue to brush aside contrary evidence, such as testimony regarding the April 4 “sarin incident” at Khan Sheikhoun, that suggested a replay of the Al-Tamanah operation.

In a new U.N. report, testimony from two people, who were apparently considered reliable by investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, asserted that anti-government aircraft spotters issued no early-morning warning of a flight leaving the Syrian military airbase of Shayrat, contradicting claims from Al Qaeda’s allies inside Khan Sheikhoun who insisted that there had been such a warning.

If no warplanes left Shayrat airbase around dawn on April 4, then President Trump’s case for retaliating with 59 Tomahawk missiles launched against the base two days later would collapse. The U.S. strike reportedly killed several soldiers at the base and nine civilians, including four children, in nearby neighborhoods. It also risked inflicting death on Russians stationed at the base.

But the U.N. report accepts the version from the activists and rebels inside the Al Qaeda-controlled town and then goes on to endorse other rebel claims regarding alleged Syrian military chemical attacks on at least 20 other occasions.

The New York Times was mightily impressed with the U.N. report’s “unequivocal condemnation” of Assad’s regime and cited it as justification for Israeli warplanes bombing a Syrian military facility on Thursday. Rather than criticize Israel for attacking a neighboring country, the Times framed the action in a positive light as having “brought renewed attention to Syria’s chemical weapons.”

But the journalistic (and intelligence) point should have been that the West was fooled in Iraq by self-interested “activists” flooding the Times, the CIA and the world with fake information — so many bogus walk-ins that they overwhelmed whatever half-hearted process there was to weed out lies from truth. The Syrian “opposition” appears to have adopted a similar strategy in Syria with similar success.

Given the history, skepticism should be the rule in Syria, not credulity. Or, as President George W. Bush once said in a different context, “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Democrats Getting Ready to Lose in 2020

By Daniel Haiphong | American Herald Tribune | September 10, 2017

The New York Times reported on Labor Day weekend that top Democrats are already preparing for the 2020 election. Countless Democratic Party officials have been busy on the fundraising trail, making visits to wealthy donors in their popular vacation destinations. This includes popular names such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. The Times notes that the Democratic Party’s preparations are unprecedented this early into Donald Trump’s presidency. What the preparations reveal is both desperation and opportunism as the Democrats seek to position themselves for the next election campaign.

Democratic Party efforts to develop a campaign strategy for 2020 have focused primarily on fundraising rather than the issues affecting poor and working people. The Times article describes in great detail the excursions to Martha’s Vineyard taken by potential Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Warren has lamented in the past about the Democratic Party’s reliance on Wall Street money yet has spent much of the summer courting wealthy donors. Kamala Harris, meanwhile, has emulated Warren and has spent ample time studying the online fundraising methods used by Bernie Sanders.

Some of the wealthy donors seeking to line Harris and Warren’s pockets include Boston real estate developer Richard Friedman and Oakland Athletics owner Guy Saperstein. The courtship of wealthy, capitalist donors places the Democratic Party on a losing path. Even as figures such as Harris try to learn how to appeal to Sanders voters, their fundraising activities repeat the very mistake Hillary Clinton made in her 2016 campaign. It was Clinton’s ties to Wall Street that made Bernie Sanders attractive to Democratic Party voters who found themselves in Wall Street-facilitated debt and poverty. WikiLeaks struck the final blow to Clinton’s campaign when it revealed that Hillary Clinton had used her influence over the Democratic National Committee to rig the primaries against Sanders.

The fact that Warren and Harris have not learned from Clinton’s mistakes should come as no surprise. It really isn’t up to them. The Democratic Party has long been a wholly owned political subsidiary of the corporate oligarchy. During the 2016 campaign, Bernie Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton’s financial ties to Wall Street hedge funds, military contractors, and energy conglomerates through the Clinton Foundation. However, the corporate ownership of the Democratic Party didn’t start with Hillary Clinton. This has been a decades long trend that reached its pinnacle under the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

A quick look into the Democratic Party’s top donors gives a clear picture as to why its top brass cannot break from the corporate oligarchy. Top Democratic Party donor Tom Steyer is a billionaire hedge fund investor who owns stock in the Corrections Corporation of America. Other top donors include Hedge Fund magnate Donald Sussman and co-owner of Facebook Dustin Moskovitz. These elements of the ruling class only skim the surface of the corporate patronage involved in the numerous PACs that donate to the Democratic Party in exchange for favorable political policy.  Under these conditions, trips to Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons are just part of the job of being a prospective Democratic Party presidential nominee.

But business as usual will be the death of the Democratic Party. The Clinton-Obama wing of the party remains dominant. That means opposition to universal healthcare remains the consensus in the party despite over eighty percent of Democratic voters supporting the measure. It also means that the Democratic Party will continue to support policies that simply make life harder for poor and working people. This is not to mention how establishment Democrats have taken the lead in waging endless war around the planet at the expense of all of humanity.

The Democratic Party elite hope that figureheads such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren can hide these inconvenient truths. For all of their branding as guardians of a mythical “middle class,” neither Harris or Warren possess a clean record. Warren is a staunch defender of Israel even when it conducts genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. She is also a strong supporter of sanctions against Iran. So while she gives lip service to reducing military spending and student loan debt, Warren has been historically unwilling to challenge the military machinery that contradicts her domestic policy positions.

Then there is Kamala Harris. Harris was once called the “best looking” Attorney General by none other than Barack Obama. But looks can be deceiving. Harris has defended both banks and prisons from punishment. She failed to prosecute OneWest Bank in 2013 despite ample evidence that it violated the law in over 1,000 foreclosures. The year before, Harris defended the right of prisons to inflict cruel and unusual punishment by fighting federal court supervision in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown V. Plata.

So even in the midst of Trump’s chaotic Presidency, his opponents fare little better. The system of US capitalism and empire is in crisis. Neither political party has any solutions. The broad masses of poor and working people in the US will have to look toward independent forms of political organization to achieve their interests. In the meantime, it appears the Democratic Party is preparing for another losing corporate campaign in 2020.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

The AbuZayd-Pinheiro Committee: Systematic Misinformation on Syria

AbuZayd Pinheiro b6c44

By Tim Anderson | American Herald Tribune | September 10, 2017

In mid 2012, as foreign jihadists poured into Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon authorised replacement of the Special Mission on Syria (UNSMIS) with a Geneva-based ‘Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria’ (IICOIOS), co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd and Brazilian Paolo Pinheiro.

Unlike UNSMIS, led by Norwegian General Robert Mood and based in Syria, the IICOIOS was based in Geneva, never visited Syria and was deeply compromised by its link to US diplomacy and its reliance on jihadist sources. The US Government, by then, was arming anti-government jihadist groups in Syria. Ban had thus embedded a deep conflict of interest in a nominally ‘independent’ UN agency.

The Abuzayd-Pinheiro group, joined by Italian lawyer Carla del Ponte, issued a series of distant reports which echoed western war propaganda against Syria. Notable amongst these were reports on the 2012 Houla massacre, a report on the 2016 liberation of Aleppo, and a recent report which seeks to blame a series of chemical weapons attacks in 2017 on the Syrian Government. Carla del Ponte, in a better moment, revealed in mid 2013 that the first use of sarin gas in Syria was by Jabhat al Nusra. But none of this appeared in the group’s reports.

In a pretence at even handedness, the group has made criticism of the terrorist groups and the US-led bombardment of Syrian cities. However when it comes to accusations against the Syrian Government it pays literally no attention to genuinely independent evidence, such as that from Syrian civilians who have blamed jihadists for ‘false flag’ massacres, and reports from the US military forensic expert Professor Ted Postol.

The result is what we might expect of a US-embedded organ: a partisan adjunct to official war propaganda, vilifying the Syrian Government and the soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army, as they struggle to defend their country. The UN group’s systematically distorted misinformation, during a war, most likely constitutes a war crime, as propaganda for war is prohibited. Let’s look at three key reports.

The Abuzayd-Pinheiro’s first report, on the May 2012 Houla massacre, set a standard for low grade but well timed war propaganda. As I document in chapter eight of my book The Dirty War on Syria (Anderson 2016), 15 independent witnesses gave great detail about the massacre of over 100 villagers in rural Homs by members of the Farouq Brigade (FSA) and several named local collaborators. The jihadists, expelled from Homs city by the Syrian Army, took revenge on families in Houla who had participated in recent elections, violating the jihadists’ call for a boycott.

UNSMIS head General Robert Mood had recognised conflicting reports coming from Houla, which was then under Farouq-FSA control. However UNSMIS was rapidly disbanded and the Abuzayd-Pinheiro group issued a report which unambiguously blamed pro-army civilian militia (‘shabiha’). Based on a few long-distance interviews, arranged by the Farouq brigade, the IICOIOS tried to blame the atrocity on the Syrian Government. However, unlike the local eyewitnesses (reported by Syrian, European and Russian media), they could provide no names, little detail and no motive (HRC 2012: 20).

Their report came before a UN Security Council meeting in which the US sought authorisation for Libyan-style attacks on Syria in the name of ‘civilian protection’ (a ‘no fly zone’). The manoeuvre failed and the report was strongly criticised at the UNSC, with Russia, China and India refusing to accept it as a basis for action. However it was used as a pretext for many other countries to downgrade their relations with Syria.

Almost five years later the AbuZayd-Pinheiro group tried to portray as a ‘crime’ the liberation of the city of Aleppo from al Qaeda aligned groups. They paid no attention to the thousands of relieved and celebrating civilians who had been rescued from al Qaeda held East Aleppo. Once again the assertions were reckless and partisan. The group falsely claimed that the liberation of the city had involved ‘daily air strikes’ on the eastern part of Aleppo city (HRC 2017: 19). Yet it was reported widely in foreign media that air strikes on the east part of the city were suspended on 18 October (BBC 2016; Xinhua 2016). NPR’s Merrit Kennedy (2016) reported ‘several weeks of relative calm’ during the ‘humanitarian pause, aimed at evacuating civilians. The ‘resumption’ of airstrikes almost one month later was aimed at the armed groups in rural Aleppo, not on the shrinking parts of the city held by the jihadists (Pestano 2016; Graham-Harrison 2016). Of course, al Qaeda aligned ‘media activists’ did claim the city was being continuously bombed (CNN 2016). However the UN commission, as Gareth Porter pointed out, ‘did not identify sources for its narrative … [but rather] accepted the version of the events provided by the ‘White Helmets’’, a jihadist auxiliary funded by the US and UK governments (Porter 2017). This report seemed to belatedly support calls by the UN Secretary General’s representative, Stefan di Mistura, for the Syrian Government to allow jihadist groups to maintain control of a lage part of the country’s second city. Syria would never allow that to happen.

In its most recent report of September 2017 the AbuZayd-Pinheiro group criticised terrorist groups and the US air strikes, in a pretence at impartiality. But it added a remarkable claim that had no basis in independent evidence: that ‘government forces continued the pattern of using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition held areas’. Abuzayd-Pinheiro claimed that 20 of 25 chemical weapons attacks in 2017 ‘were perpetrated by government forces’, referring to incidents at Khan Sheikhoun, al Latamneh and East Ghouta (HRC 2017b: 1, 14). Yet critical, independent evidence from US Professor Ted Postol had disproved the notion that the Khan Sheikhoun incident came from an air strike (Postol 2017). Indeed, the Syrian Government says the Army never once used chemical weapons during the 2011-2017 conflict, and no independent evidence contradicts this position. For example, in chapter nine of my book (Anderson 2016) I document the catalogue of independent evidence that discredited the ‘chemical weapons ‘false flag’ in the East Ghouta, of August 2013.

So, on what evidence were AbuZayd-Pinheiro’s claims based? They refer to interviews with victims and aid providers in jihadist controlled areas, some satellite images, a report of the UN’s OPCW (which did not attribute blame) and a non-response from the Syrian Government (HRC 2017b: 14-16). Clearly Damascus refuses to cooperate with AbuZayd-Pinheiro because of their previous propaganda activity. In the case of Khan Sheikhoun incident, the OPCW refused Russian invitation to visit and investigate, preferring to rely on information and samples provided by jihadist groups and their auxiliaries, such as the US-UK funded ‘White Helmets’. Once again, virtually all evidence cited by the Abuzayd-Pinheiro group came from US-backed and jihadist sources – al Nusra aka Hayat Tahrir al Sham, Ahrar al Sham, Jaish al Islam and Faylaq al Rahman (HRC 2017b: 14-16).

This latest AbuZayd-Pinheiro report came as the Syrian Army broke a three-year ISIS siege on the eastern City of Deir Ezzor. Fake chemical weapons claims at this time might briefly distract from this latest Syrian victory over the NATO-Saudi proxy armies, but they carry less import than before. Nevertheless, this US-led ‘independent’ group showed itself partisan and propagandist to the end.

*(Karen Koning Abuzayd on the left and Sergio Paulo Pinheiro on the right. Image credit: UN Geneva/ flickr)


Anderson, Tim (2016a) The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, Montreal

Anderson, Tim (2016b) ‘Daraa 2011: Syria’s Islamist Insurrection in Disguise’, Global Research, 16 March, online:

BBC (2016) ‘Syria war: Russia halts Aleppo bombing for humanitarian pause’, 18 October, online:

CNN (2016) ‘Syria: Aleppo pounded by ‘heaviest bombardment’ since war began’, 21 November, online:

HRC (2012) ‘Oral Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’, Human Rights Commission, 26 June, online:

HRC (2017) ‘Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’ [Aleppo report], A/HRC/34/64, 2 February, online:

HRC (2017b) ‘Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic‘, 8 August, A/hrc/36/55, online

Porter, Gareth (2017) ‘A Flawed UN investigation on Syria’, Consortium News, 11 march, online:

Graham-Harrison, Emma (2016) ‘Aleppo airstrikes restart as Russia announces major Syria offensive’, The Guardian, 16 November, online:

Kennedy, Merrit (2016) ‘After Rocky Pause, Airstrikes Resume On Syria’s Aleppo’, NPR, 15 November, online:

Pestano, Andrew V. (2016) ‘Aleppo airstrikes resume after 3-week pause’, UPI, 15 November, online:

Xinhua (2016) ‘News Analysis: Suspended Russian airstrikes encourage rebels to unleash major offensive in Aleppo’, 29 October, online:

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment

Aletho News Registers Over 3 Million Views At WordPress

Aletho News | September 10, 2017

Aletho News page visits since December 2009 have rolled past the 3 million mark today.

Some of the all time most visited Aletho News articles are listed below.

Who’s Afraid of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories?

Canada’s Effort to Criminalize Criticism of Israel

Media Theories on Missing Flight MH370 Fail Analysis

Zim Shipping: New Evidence suggests Six Months Foreknowledge of the September 11th Attack Date and Potential Involvement in the Israeli Deep Cover Operation

US Air Force C17 transport caught smuggling arms and drugs into Argentina

On Israel’s little-known concentration and labor camps in 1948-1955

Harvard Trained Immunologist Demolishes California Legislation That Terminates Vaccine Exemptions

Unsustainable: 43 Million Tonnes Of Wind Turbine Blade Waste By 2050

Canada’s Concentration Camps – The War Measures Act

The US-Israel Special Relationship Timeline That AIPAC Doesn’t Want You To See

Obama trying to provoke confrontation with Russia to preempt Trump: Petras

Incredible inconsistencies and bizarre coincidences of the 9/11 fairy tale

Extremists Execute Up to 30,000 Surrendered Soldiers and Civilians

A citizens guide to understanding corporate media propaganda techniques

Lost Battles of the Vietnam War

The Hidden Story of the Americans that Finished the Vietnam War

Dropping the Bomb: A Historiographical Review of the Most Destructive Decision in Human History

The Facts Of 9/11 Must Be Suppressed

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News, Timeless or most popular | 3 Comments

Thousands of Palestinians march in mass funeral for slain imprisoned youth Raed Salhi

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – September 9, 2017

Thousands of Palestinians participated in a mass funeral on Saturday, 9 September for Raed Salhi, the Palestinian youth killed by Israeli occupation forces outside his home when they invaded Dheisheh refugee camp on 9 August in an “arrest raid.” They shot the unarmed youth nine times, left him to bleed in the streets of the camp and then imprisoned him under armed guard in the hospital for nearly a month until his death from his injuries on 3 September. The date of his funeral would have been Salhi’s 22nd birthday.

His body continued to be imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces until Karim Ajwa, Salhi’s lawyer who had been advocating for his release, filed an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court. Raed’s body was finally turned over to his family on Friday evening, 8 September, before the mass funeral on Saturday afternoon following noon prayers. The funeral was led by a group of Salhi’s young comrades from the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, carrying his body wrapped in a Palestinian flag and a PFLP banner, and all Palestinian political organizations – as well as masses of Palestinians – participated in the funeral.

His relatives, friends and comrades joined the massive procession from the Beit Jala Government Hospital to the family home in the camp to the boys’ school to the martyrs’ cemetery. The funeral was accompanied by a commercial and general strike in the city of Bethlehem which lasted until 3:00 pm. Salhi’s brother, Bassam, has also been imprisoned by occupation forces; they seized him in the camp one week after shooting Raed. He was ordered to four months in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.

The return of Salhi’s body was accompanied by the return of the body of Qutaiba Zahran, whose body had been held captive by the Israeli occupation since last month, when he was shot and killed by occupation forces at the Zaatara checkpoint south of Nablus, accused of attempting to stab occupation soldiers at the checkpoint. Qutaiba, 17, was also buried on Saturday in a funeral procession in Tulkarem.

When Salhi’s body was returned, it was met with hundreds of Palestinians who marched demanding justice and accountability for the assassination and extrajudicial killing of Salhi. Following Salhi’s funeral, intense protests broke out against occupation forces as Palestinian youth confronted occupation forces at checkpoints and military occupation sites around the city of Bethlehem.

Raed Salhi was remembered as a beloved and active member of his community. In an interview published in Middle East Eye, his brother Khaled spoke about both his love for animals and his political commitment. “Raed, whom his brother Khaled described as a cat lover who would rescue stray kittens from the street, much to his family’s displeasure, was described by several Dheisheh residents as loved by the community….Raed had also been a committed member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the main Palestinian leftist political party, since he was 15…and was imprisoned by Israel for around four months in 2014. ‘He was a good-hearted guy, he was always smiling and joking,’ Khaled said.”

“Raed was from one of the very poorest families in the camp… but he wanted to help the people as much as he could, and to educate them more,” said Naji Owdah, the director of Laylac Community Center in Dheisheh, to Middle East Eye.  Salhi was involved in a number of volunteer projects, including voluntary health days and a campaign to set up small libraries around the camp.

Salhi had been held under high security guard within Hadassah hospital, despite being unconscious and in a coma. His impoverished family members, including his mother, were denied family visits or the ability to see him, while his detention was extended several times by the Ofer military court as he lay in a coma, dying.

Before the raid in which Raed was fatally shot by invading occupation forces, he had been theatened by occupation forces, including the infamous “Captain Nidal,” the pseudonym used by the local Israeli occupation military official in charge of Dheisheh – specifically, that “Nidal” would “shoot [Raed] in front of [his] mother.”  Palestinian NGO Badil reported that Captain Nidal had threatened to “make all the youth of (Deheisha) camp disabled,” saying “I will have all of you walking with crutches and in wheelchairs.”

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Death of an Irish Hunger Striker

By Pauline Murphy | CounterPunch | September 8, 2017

One hundred years ago Thomas Ashe became the first Irish Republican to die on hunger strike. Ashe was imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin for delivering a ‘seditious speech’ to a public gathering in County Longford. On the 20th of September Ashe decided to go on hunger strike when he was denied the status of political prisoner. Five days later on September 25th he was dead.

Although Ashe is considered the first Irish Republican prisoner to die on hunger strike, his death was not the direct result of starvation, instead it was caused by force feeding. This brutal act carried out by prison authorities involved inserting a tube into the mouth of the hunger striker and pushing it down into their stomach. Gruel was poured down this ghastly device which caused gagging, vomiting and for Thomas Ashe – death.

Austin Stack was also a Republican prisoner who went on hunger strike around the same time as Ashe. Stack also underwent force feeding but lived to recall the terrible technique used by the prison authorities: ” It was very painful. My eyes watered during the whole time so that I could see nothing. I vomited during and after the process so that not one half of the food entered my stomach. My clothes were covered with vomit. There was no attempt made to examine me.”

The act of refusing food is a powerful weapon used by those who have nothing else left to fight with. This tool of protest against injustice was first used in the early 1900s by imprisoned British and Irish suffragettes. It was also the first time force feeding was used to break a hunger strike.

In 1912 Suffragettes Gladys Evans and Mary Leigh became the first prisoners in Ireland to hunger strike for political status and receive the treatment of force feeding. They were jailed along with Lizzie Barter who flung a hatchet at British Prime minister Herbert Asquith while he was visiting Dublin. She missed Asquith but hit Irish Home Rule leader John Redmond instead!

Barter evaded arrest but was apprehended the next day when she was involved in a disturbance at Dublin’s Theatre Royal where the British PM was due to speak. Barter hurled a burning chair into the orchestra pit while Leigh and Evans were caught at the same venue attempting to set fire to the royal box.

The Suffragettes were jailed in Mountjoy for “having commited serious outrages at the time of the visit of the British Prime Minister”. Leigh and Evans went on hunger strike and were force fed until they were released months later.

In September 1913 Labour leader James Connolly was arrested after speaking at a mass rally with Jim Larkin outside Liberty Hall in Dublin city. Connolly was sentenced to three months imprisonment and was labeled a common criminal. Inspired by the Suffragettes, he went on hunger strike which lasted eight days before he was released. While Connolly came out of his hunger strike unscathed, the same cannot be said for James Byrne.

In October 1913 Labour activist James Byrne was arrested on false charges of intimidation and he was sent to Mountjoy jail. The 38 year old father of six from Dun Laoghaire was a secretary of the trades council and when he was denied political status in prison he followed the example set by Connolly just months previously and he went on hunger strike. Byrne also undertook a thirst strike and his health rapidly declined while imprisoned. The authorities released Byrne when his condition worsened and just under two weeks later he died of pneumonia. His funeral drew thousands of mourners and James Connolly delivered the graveside oration.

In 1917 the death of County Kerry native Thomas Ashe resulted in an inquest which revealed the barbarity of force feeding. The inquest also revealed that he had been stripped of his boots, bed, bedding and clothes. Ashe was left with a single blanket and the cold stone ground to lie on. The pathologist’s report revealed markings and bruising around Ashe’s mouth and jaw indicating the brutality of force feeding.

The verdict of the inquest declared that Ashe “died of heart failure and congestion of the lungs….. that his death was caused by the punishment of taking away from the cell, bed, bedding and boots and allowing him to be on the cold floor.” British authorities refused to accept the result of the inquest and many copies of it were burned by order. The copies that survived ensured the truth was revealed and the act of force feeding was later abandoned but, the act of hunger striking for political status would remain a staple of protest for Republicans throughout the rest of the 20th century. Following the death of Thomas Ashe 100 years ago, 22 more Republicans would die in prison in the following years and decades after 1917.

Pauline Murphy is a freelance writer from Ireland.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Five Things to Remember About Catalonia

By Vicent Partal | CounterPunch | September 8, 2017

Given the transcendent nature of this moment, we thought it would be a good time to summarize how we arrived at this point and to explain the special nature of the decision that Catalan Parliament took on Wednesday, September 6th.

1) Spain broke its own rules when the Constitutional Court nullified the 2006 statute of Autonomy.

The origins of all that that we have experienced over the last several years can be found in the Spanish Constitutional Court’s decision to strike down key elements of the 2006 Catalan statute of autonomy. Today it is widely recognized that this amounted to a de facto coup against the constitution that broke the judicial balance established at the end of the Francoist era. The relation of power between Spanish centralism and the Catalan Autnomist Government was based on the so-called “two keys”. Should a Catalan desire to alter its regime of autonomy arise, Madrid held the “first key” of being able to demand that the new law pass through Madrid’s legal filters where it would be subject to alteration. Catalonia’s “second key” was the right, should changes be made in Madrid, to reject the altered statute through a referendum. The process was clear, transparent and balanced. One key furnished guarantees to Spain, the other to Catalonia. Each side had a voice in the process. However, the forced entry into the process of a “third key” that had never existed and that was invented by the Popular Party destroyed this constitutional balance and broke the existing conditions of coexistence. The responsibility for bringing us to where we are today lies squarely with the Spanish state which, through its unilateral actions, abolished the pact forged in the transition to democracy.

2) Spain has refused to engage in dialogue with Catalonia about independence or, for that matter, anything else.

Catalonia does not have the right to impose secession upon Spain. Nor does Spain have the right to impose unity upon Catalonia. Should a conflict such as the one that is now being played out in the Principality of Catalonia arise, the only solution is negotiation, as the Supreme Court of Canada made clear in its opinion on the now widely celebrated referendum on the question of independence for Quebec.

Such a negotiation could have taken many forms and could have centered on many different aspects of the impasse. After the first September 11th (Catalan National Day) protests in 2012, the Catalan government proposed that the two sides engage in a renewed dialogue about fiscal matters and cultural rights. This proposal was not only rejected, but treated with open disdain. Catalan political forces have appealed on nearly twenty occasions for a negotiated solution to the celebration a referendum designed to clarify the true political will of the Catalan people. As is the case today, the party that has always refused to negotiate in the recent past has been Madrid. The Spanish state has consistently disdained the core democratic principle that disagreements should be resolved through good faith negotiations that respect the democratic expression of all political projects. This consistent pattern of disdain delegitimates the arguments of the Spanish government.

3) The people of Catalonia gave the Parliament of Catalonia a clear democratic mandate for a Proclamation of Independence.

In elections held on the 27th of September 2015, the citizens of Catalonia awarded the proponents of a program to pursue a proclamation of independence an absolute majority of the seats in the Catalan Parliament. The fact that this result fell just short of 50% of the popular vote has led the members of the winning coalition to the conclusion that they should seek validate their program through that most democratic of methods: a referendum. It has always been hoped that this referendum would be sanctioned through negotiations with the Spanish state. However, this has been impossible to do. It is precisely this refusal on the part of the Spanish Government to negotiate anything that justifies, and imbues with legal force, the unilateral vote that the Catalan Parliament will hold tomorrow. There is currently no other way that the representatives in Parliament can give voice to the political desires the people of Catalonia.

4) International law provides a legal basis for both self-determination and unilateral secession

The right to self-determination of all peoples is an essential element of international legal doctrine. It is an absolute right that trumps national legislation, as is spelled out in the two 1966 UN conventions on human rights which the Spanish constitution recognizes as the supreme law of the land. The Parliament of Catalonia is thus able to legitimately invoke this general principle as the basis for the referendum. In addition, there is the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding Kosovo that definitively resolved two important matters. The first is that there is no provision in international law that invalidates the unilateral proclamation of independence of a territory. The second is that the principle of the inviolability of borders only applies to conflicts between states and thus cannot in any way be used to impede the secession of a part of a state.

5) Recent international practice has given explicit support to processes of national self-determination thus creating a norm characterized by the acceptance of new states within the international community.

A few figures are worth bearing in mind. Since 1991, 53 sub-state entities, like Catalonia, have held referendums on self-determination. Of this total, 27 referendums were carried out in agreement with the states of which the entity seeking self-determination was then part. The other 26 were convened unilaterally. The Spanish state has recognized 26 of the 27 new states constituted in the world since 1991, the majority of which were proclaimed unilaterally. In fact, 7 states that today are part of the European Union were, in 1991, parts of other states and thus in situations quite similar to that of Catalonia today. These 7 European Union member states that were not independent in 1991 (Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic) were all created through unilateral mobilizations, and in 5 of those cases, through the specific modality of a unilateral referendum. All of them are recognized by Spain and are part of the European Union.

While the European Union has no provision spelling out what is to be done in the case of the secession of a part of a member state, there is a consistent practice when it comes to recognizing the results of referendums on self-determination. For example the EU took important decisions in response to the referendums of the Saar (1955), Greenland (1982) and Brexit (2016), and did not block the referendum in Scotland (2014). All of these referendums were held within the territory of the Union. And as we have seen, it accepted as member 7 states born of unilateral processes while also giving support to the practice of self-determination in cases such as that of Kosovo. This, in clear contradiction to Spain’s current posture in regard to Catalonia.

Summing up: If we have come to this point it is basically because of the legitimacy that the Catalan people bestowed on the Parliament of Catalonia in the September 27th, 2015 elections, and also, the legitimacy that the international community has bestowed upon the right of self-determination. But we have also arrived at this point as the result of the persistent delegitmation of the Spanish position, which flies in the face of international rules and practices as well as the provisions of its own constitution.

Now is the moment to take the next step, conscious both of the civic strength built up over the last decade, and the fact that the international community will react as it always has: by resolving a political problem that cannot be wished away through the deployment of legalistic maneuvering.

Vicent Partal is founder and director of the influential Vilaweb on-line newspaper in Spain.

Translated by Thomas Harrington.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Steadfast Pinnacle 2017: Dozens of NATO commanders flock to Latvia for war games

RT | September 10, 2017

he Steadfast Pyramid 2017 military exercise kicks off in Latvia on Sunday, with 40 senior commanders from NATO states, as well as Finland and Sweden. They are expected to train how to “plan and conduct operations” amid the bloc’s buildup in the region.

Steadfast Pyramid 2017 and Steadfast Pinnacle 2017, involving more than 40 senior officers from NATO member states, plus Finland and Sweden, will take place at the Riga-based Latvian Defense Academy, the country’s national news agency LETA reported on Sunday.

Steadfast Pyramid, the first part of the exercise, will last until September 15. It is reportedly “to improve the ability of top-level officers and commanders to plan and lead joint operations,” according to LETA.

Steadfast Pinnacle, the next stage of the drill, will last from September 17 until September 22. Steadfast Pyramid and Steadfast Pinnacle were first held in Latvia in 2011.

British General James Everard, the NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is expected to arrive in Latvia to oversee both stages of the exercise, Latvia’s Defense Ministry said, according to LETA.

Not much is known so far about the war games. A NATO fact sheet says Steadfast Pyramid and Steadfast Pinnacle are focused on “further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making.”

Latvia, a former Soviet republic, has seen a major NATO buildup over the past months. Recently, NATO deployed four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland as part of Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP). These combat-ready battlegroups, led by the UK, Canada, Germany, and the US respectively, are meant to demonstrate “the strength of the transatlantic bond.”

A 1,100-strong battlegroup led by Canada is stationed in Latvia, comprising a number of mechanized infantry units as well as a tank company and some support elements, according to NATO. 

Poland and the Baltic states are calling for a stronger military presence in their countries, claiming it is necessary to deter “assertive” Russia.

Lithuania, another Baltic state, has suggested developing a “military Schengen project that would facilitate the movement of troops in Europe.”

Earlier this week, Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said the Benelux countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg – as well as Finland and Estonia, support the plan, which includes “simplifying procedures and investing in infrastructure.”

Moscow has consistently said the ongoing buildup threatens Russian and European security. In mid-July, Russian envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said the alliance is pushing forward for “an intensive mastering of the potential theater of military operations, accompanied by the development of the necessary infrastructure.”

From July to November, NATO will hold 15 drills complementing each other, “which are held in the same operative field and aimed at providing a vast range of support measures,” Grushko added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier said that Moscow will not remain silent facing emerging threats on its western borders. NATO’s saber-rattling leaves Russia no other choice than to “give a suitable response to all of these actions,” he said, noting that Moscow’s countermeasures will be “much cheaper,” if not quite as technologically advanced, Putin told award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone.


Russia will respond to NATO expansion to keep strategic balance – Putin

Lithuania proposes ‘military Schengen’ plan for easier movement of troops in Europe

US to boost air & troop presence in Lithuania during Russia-Belarus drills

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Russia’s UN Peacekeeper Plan Anticipates US-Backed Kiev Offensive

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.09.2017

Russia’s proposed deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine makes sense in the light of recent reports that the US is stepping up its supply of lethal weaponry to the Kiev regime. The war is set to explode.

It is therefore prudent to deploy international monitors to try to restrain the violence, or at least offset the undoubted propaganda war which will ensue. The move to involve the UN is also a damning reflection of how ineffective the already-in-place monitors from the OSCE have been.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has stationed hundreds of international members in eastern Ukraine since March 2014, yet the OSCE has done little to restrain the offensive actions by the Kiev-controlled Ukrainian Armed Forces against the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The lack of restraint stems from the OSCE being evidently biased towards the Kiev regime and its reluctance to issue public criticism of Kiev’s daily violations of the Minsk Accord. In other words, despite claims of impartiality, the OSCE serves as a propaganda tool for the US-backed regime.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that increased American military support to the Kiev regime will result in an escalation of violence. When US defense secretary James Mattis was in Kiev last month, he said Washington was «considering» sending lethal weapons to the regime’s forces. As part of the public relations exercise, Mattis called the weapons «defensive» lethal weapons. Those «defensive» arms include Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Reliable reports say that lethal US weaponry has already begun arriving, including grenade launchers and the high-powered Barrett M-82 sniper rifles with a range of 1.8 kilometers. According to sources in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the American military supplies are being delivered through private US firms, which obscures Washington’s official involvement.

Over the past week, DPR military chief Eduard Basurin has cited as many as 200 violations of the ceasefire supposedly in place under the 2015 Minsk Accord. Those violations were carried with heavy artillery and mortars, hitting 25 locations in the Donetsk province. The DPR also claims that Kiev forces are moving up heavy weapons, including Howitzers, to the Contact Line, in another breach of Minsk.

Meanwhile, a check on the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s latest reporting on the ground indicates «fewer ceasefire violations». Typical of the OSCE reporting, those violations that are noted are worded in vague fashion in such a way that it is not clear which party is committing the attacks. The OSCE reports cite explosions and artillery fire, but rarely assign blame or details that might allow readers to ascertain who is firing at who. The lack of details strongly suggests a deliberate effort by the OSCE authorities to obfuscate. Yet, it claims to be a frontline source for journalists to file reports on what is happening in Ukraine. No wonder Western media in particular are so vacant about the conflict, if this is their source.

Given the Pentagon’s move to openly step up lethal weapons to the Kiev regime, the implications for worsening violence in eastern Ukraine are ominous. Kiev’s forces, which include Neo-Nazi battalions, have been waging an «Anti-Terror Operation» (ATO) on the ethnic Russian population of Donetsk and Luhansk since April 2014. Up to 10,000 have died in the conflict. The ATO was originally launched at the same time that then CIA chief John Brennan visited the Kiev regime – two months after the CIA backed the coup that brought the regime to power.

The violence has continued despite the signing by Kiev and the separatists of the two-year-old Minsk Accord – brokered by Russia, France and Germany. The Kiev regime headed up by President Petro Poroshenko claims that the separatists are «terrorists» supported by Russian «aggression». The separatists view the Kiev regime as illegitimate having violently and illegally seized power from an elected government in February 2014.

Washington backs the illogical position of Kiev and its evident repudiation of the Minsk Accord in spite of its signature. Yet, perversely, the US imposes sanctions on Russia for allegedly not implementing the Minsk deal.

This week, Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel gave his support to the proposal announced by Vladimir Putin for a UN peacekeeping force. The Donetsk and Luhansk separatists have also voiced their support for the initiative. Russia is putting the matter before the United Nations Security Council. But it is not clear if the US will scupper the proposal.

The Kiev regime and US government-owned Radio Free Europe quickly poured scorn on Russia’s proposal. Cynically, it is claimed that the deployment of UN peacekeepers on the Contact Line would bolster the separatists’ territorial claims. Instead, Kiev wants UN troops to be deployed all across the breakaway republics and on the border with Russia.

But this is the point. The Kiev regime cannot be trusted to uphold any ceasefire agreement or commitments to recognize autonomy in Donetsk and Luhansk, as it is obligated to do under Minsk. Having UN blue helmets stationed all over the breakaway republics would most likely give Kiev a cover to infiltrate its forces. Just a quick indicator of bad faith was the routine breaching of the so-called «schools truce» called on August 25 by Poroshenko. That truce was called at the same time that Pentagon chief James Mattis was visiting Kiev, suggesting it was a public relations stunt to ease the announced supply of «defensive» lethal weapons by Washington.

Thus, the Russian proposal for UN monitors at the interface between Kiev troops and the separatists is a reasonable move. It may not be effective in stemming the violence especially in light of US stepping up weapons supplies. But, at least, it is worth giving a chance. The other potentially positive effect is that the UN peacekeepers might be able to account more accurately on which side is stoking the violence. This is all the more important since the OSCE has shown itself to be totally ineffectual, or worse, complicit in giving the Kiev regime a cover for its depredations.

The OSCE comprises 57 participating nations, including the US, Russia and European states. But its membership is dominated by 29 countries belonging to the US-led NATO military alliance. Russia has long complained that the OSCE needs reforming to allow for more balanced representation.

In his 2007 landmark speech to the Munich Security Conference, Putin warned, among many global issues, that Washington and its NATO allies were «trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument to promote Western foreign policy interests».

Like many other multilateral institutions, including the UN, the European Union and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the OSCE has demonstrated a subservience to Washington’s geopolitical dominance.

This is clearly the case in Ukraine. The OSCE has never issued an unequivocal condemnation of Kiev forces, even though the latter have carried out countless violations and are the main obstacle to implementing a peaceful settlement.

In a must-read revealing interview, one former American member of the OSCE said that the organization routinely distorts the nature of the conflict in Ukraine and is «highly biased in favor of the Kiev regime». He said that field reports from rank-and-file OSCE officers were often suppressed by their superiors based in Kiev.

Alexander Hug, the ex-Swiss army chief of the OSCE operation in Ukraine, has in the past written opinion articles for the Kyiv Post, a news outlet that is stridently pro-regime and openly anti-Russian. In one of Hug’s articles, it bore the tagline «Russia’s war against Ukraine». Ironically, the OSCE chief introduced that article with the words: «The first casualty of war is the truth». For the OSCE chief to show such flagrant bias is contemptible and brings the so-called monitor into disrepute.

All the signs indicate that the war in Ukraine is set to escalate – especially given the increased supply of American weaponry to Kiev regime forces. Washington is acting recklessly. It is tacitly declaring war in Ukraine, with grave implications for US-Russia relations.

The deployment of UN peacekeepers to the conflict zone may not be sufficient to prevent the US-backed regime going on the offensive. But at least the presence of more international monitors might allow for more critical information on which side is pushing the violence.

Certainly, the OSCE monitors already in place are totally unreliable despite their claims of impartiality. Indeed, the OSCE as presently formulated and deployed is part of the problem for why a peaceful settlement in Ukraine is continually confounded.

Russia’s proposal for UN peacekeepers is being viewed cynically in the West as a hollow gesture. Such Western views are contorted and laced with their usual Russophobia instead of being objective.

The Russian proposal is simply due to the fact of the OSCE being hopelessly derelict in its duties, and in need of being sidelined by some other more effective monitoring mechanism. The war-footing of the US-backed Kiev regime amid OSCE silence is testament to its dereliction.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Mexican Standoff Goes Nuclear

By Frank Lee | OffGuardian | September 10, 2017

In the red corner…

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

… And in the blue corner…

James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, United States Secretary for Defence

Apart from the criminally insane, (John McCain, Lindsey Graham et al.) nobody wants war, particularly nuclear war. Unfortunately, however, war happens, sometimes by accident sometimes by design. The present standoff between the US/NATO and Russia and China is a case in point. The United States ever present hegemonic ambitions are hardly secret and have been displayed in their most virulent and openly aggressive forms since the collapse of the USSR.

This latter event was a key moment in the present historical conjuncture. During the 1990s Russia was prostrate and the US/NATO juggernaut was able to take full advantage of the situation. The war against what used to be called the third world, had always been a feature of US foreign policy, however now with the disappearance of the one geopolitical bloc which could hold the US in check, the US imperial leviathan was able to extend its aggression to both Russia and more lately China. Ex-soviet satellites, and even ex-Soviet republics in Europe were sucked into the voracious maw of NATO, which was to double in size and expand right up to Russia’s western frontier. In passing, we may note that the collapse of communism also had the effect of an abject surrender of the centre-left/social democratic currents in Europe, and their conversion to both neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

NATO membership meant that the US effectively controlled Europe’s foreign policy and this policy fait accompli was ratified in the Lisbon Treaty which meant that Europe’s defence and security policy was outsourced to a non-member of the EU, i.e. the United States, who control NATO. In short, the EU became a civilian wing of NATO. These events were of course a naked provocation as was the dismemberment of Yugoslavia in the 90s.

The continued policy of provocation became the order of the day. In 2008 NATO announced boldly that Georgia and Ukraine “will become members of NATO.” Thereupon Georgia’s comical President Mikheil Saakasvili bombarded Tskhinvali, capital of the self-declared Republic of South Ossetia that had resisted integration into the current Republic of Georgia since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. In this instance Russia defended South Ossetia, invading Georgia. It then recognized the independence, both of South Ossetia and of the Republic of Abkhazia, from Georgia. (This may be a tit-for-tat response to the U.S.’s decision to recognize Kosovo’s independence from Serbia six months earlier.) Then in 2014 came the ultimate provocation: the American backed coup in Ukraine which resulted in the ongoing and open-ended Ukrainian imbroglio 2014-2017. This resulted inter alia in the referendum and defection of the Crimea into the Russian Federation, and a nasty little war in the Russian-speaking Don Bass which chose to secede from the Ukraine.

US historian and foreign policy realist John Mearsheimer in 2014 argued, I think correctly, that:

According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West.

At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbour turned into a Western bastion.

For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president — which he rightly labelled a “coup” — was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West” Foreign Affairs – Autumn 2014

It should be understood that possible Ukrainian and Georgian membership of NATO is still on the table, which in itself constitutes a provocation. This much was made clear by the NATO Secretary-General – the wretched Jens Stoltenberg – who recently visited Kiev and held discussions with the Kiev Junta boss Poroshenko. US representative in the shape of ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis has also been a recent visitor. The issue of supplying lethal US arms to the Kiev Junta was certainly discussed but no definitive judgement has been made – yet.

So where is all this leading? To the fabled Mexican standoff that’s where. Regarding the issue of lethal arms. The Ukrainians already have these – they have been and were supplied covertly through the Baltics and Poland (naturally Poland) during the earlier period of the war 2014-2016. The Ukrainian Army (UAF) has been trained and equipped by NATO and has 200,000 men under arms, mostly wretched conscripts, who would rather be somewhere else, but with some more effective punitive neo-Nazi units. At present, there are all sorts of rumours circulating of a supposedly imminent invasion of the Don Bass by a rejuvenated Ukrainian military. Maybe, but in the past these rumours have generally come to nothing. But be sure that if this turns out to be the case it will be an American decision, not Poroshenko’s who is a US/NATO puppet. However, the US investment in the training and arming of UAF is no guarantee of battlefield effectiveness; the US also trained and equipped the Georgian Army as well as the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) both of whom who hardly distinguished themselves in the heat of battle.

If such an invasion does occur the relevant questions would seem to be how will Russia react. Putin is on record as saying he will ‘not allow’ a Ukrainian army to annihilate the people of the Don Bass, this is said to be a Red Line for Putin. As in previous clashes Russia did at least covertly intervene in the fighting; there were also Russian (and other national) volunteers who fought on the side of the Don Bass militias. As for the ethnic Russian population of the Don Bass they want under no circumstances to be reintegrated with their hated enemies in the west and central Ukraine. Too much blood has been split for an implementation of the Minsk agreements, which in any case the Kiev Junta has shown no interest in implementing.

Trying to force the Don Bass into a Ukraine governed by the same oligarch/Nazi coalition Junta ensconced in Kiev, would be like trying to force Protestant Northern Ireland into the Catholic Irish Republic. This would simply lead to a continuation of the war – albeit in a different form.

In the event of renewed hostilities and the Don Bass being in danger of being over-run, can Russia stand by and do nothing? In this case it would mean the neo-Nazi battalions will be right on Russia’s border less than 100 km from the city of Rostov-on-Don. Should Putin be taken at face value when he said he would not contemplate this eventuality?

In the event that the DPR/LPR do fall this would mean a massive victory for the NATO-backed UAF proxies and a strategic disaster for Russia who will then be seen as a paper tiger, thereby emboldening the Anglo-Zionist empire in its programme for the destruction of Russia as an independent sovereign state. If Putin does stand firm – as he must – what then will be the reaction of the US/NATO and what would be the political repercussions in Ukraine itself? After heavy defeats suffered by the UAF at Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo a third defeat would be likely to lead to very serious domestic political upheaval. In this scenario, I think both US/NATO would simply turn their backs on the whole failing project, particularly the EU. Who knows?

Ultimately Ukraine is of extreme strategic interest to Russia, but of negligible interest to the United States. Risking a nuclear war with Russia over a tin-pot regime in Ukraine and thereby exposing the US homeland to nuclear decimation over a war they don’t have to fight seems very unlikely. And as for the notion of winning (whatever that means) a nuclear war, I doubt any sane person believes that is possible. See below.

The Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABM) systems are so unreliable it would almost be an accident if they worked. They’ve never been tested under real conditions and they can be defeated by very basic countermeasures.”
Ted Postol, a professor at MIT and a former scientific advisor for the Pentagon.

When I think of the persistent history of the forlorn idea of the defence against a nuclear attack, I am tempted to think that the notion especially typifies Einstein’s grim and painfully realistic observation that ‘the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking.’ It has certainly been normal in history to think of fashionable defences against evolving military threats. But nuclear weapons unleashed in a large-scale attack bring a sure destruction, one so massive as to rule out any successful defence. Defence in conflict, a traditional mode of thinking, is here no longer plausible. In a nuclear war, the long-standing ‘norm’ of reliance on defence has become a self-deception, a most human and understandable one, and one that is rooted in an aversion to the new reality.”William J Perry – Secretary of State for Defence for the United States 1994-1997.
(‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink’)

Defending the United States against a major Russian or Chinese ballistic missile attack is currently not feasible. A reliable and affordable defence that could protect America against a Russian ICBM and SLBM force that could launch some 1,500 ballistic missile warheads simply does not exist. While the Chinese force is much smaller, numbering several dozen ICBMs, it probably includes countermeasures that would seriously complicate disruption by missile defines systems…

For the foreseeable future, offense wins the offense-defence relationship. Offensive ballistic missile technology is far more mature than that of missile defence, and cost considerations favour the offense. Adding fourteen more GMD interceptors by 2017 will require the Pentagon to spend about $1 billion. The Russians and Chinese can each add fourteen more warheads to their strategic offensive forces at considerably less cost. One reason that the Russians are building a replacement for their heavy SS-18 ICBM is to have a missile that can carry ten-fifteen warheads as a means of overwhelming a future American missile defence.

It is important to remember that the other side may not sit passively as the U.S. military develops missile defences. Other nuclear powers may choose to build up their strategic offensive forces in response, increasing the number of nuclear weapons targeted at the United States (China comes to mind). Indeed, it was concern that the ABM systems of the 1960s would spark an uncontrollable strategic offensive arms race that led to negotiation of the 1972 ABM Treaty.
None of this is to say that a future technological breakthrough might not produce a change in the offense-defence equation. Some new technology could be developed that would make defence against ballistic missiles far more lethal, cost-effective and attractive, tilting the equation to favour defence instead of offense. But that breakthrough does not appear to be on the horizon, at least not for the next fifteen-twenty years. And a key lesson of the past thirty-two years is that technology in the missile defence area often does not deliver on its potential—at least not as rapidly, or as inexpensively, as originally thought.” The National Interest. March 2015 – Steven Pifer

Steven Pifer directs the Brookings Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative.

And Finally, from The National Interest 14-08-2017:

Technology, in effect, made Russia America’s insufferable but inescapable Siamese twin. The strategic reality is even more horrific. However demonic, however destructive, however devious, however deserving of being strangled Russia is, the brute fact is that we cannot kill this bastard without committing suicide.” Graham Allison

Setting aside the usual American self-righteous, messianic, ‘indispensable nation’, bombast, – vide supra – the central core of the above statements makes the realist-realpolitik argument very forcefully. (1) The US is not invulnerable and (2) It would suffer massive damage, possibly terminal, in a nuclear exchange, as would the whole world. Ideologues, fools, journalists and mountebanks may wish to assert otherwise but the truth is self-evident and sobering. The media, deep-state, Tweedledum-Tweedledee two party cartel and the MIC, national security state, are pushing America and the rest of the world towards this precipice hoping Russia will surrender. This is, to say the least, an extremely risky strategy. But what if Russia chooses not to surrender? Will any US President be willing to sacrifice New York for Moscow, or Los Angeles for St. Petersburg? I somehow doubt it. Sticking my neck out I think the whole thing is a bluff; to be sure a dangerous one, but I think the realist argument will trump (sorry about the pun) the ideological one. One thing we can be sure of is that appeasement has not worked with the Anglo-Zionist empire and it never will.

To quote Kipling;

He who pays the Dangeld never gets rid of the Dane.”

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Report reveals UK exploiting Qatar crisis for own profit through arms exports

Press TV – September 10, 2017

Britain is exploiting a rift between several Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and Qatar through designating both sides as the “priority markets” for its arms sales, a report suggests.

The Middle East Eye (MEE) report cited a list of 46 states highlighted by the UK Department for International Trade Defense and Security Organization as potentially lucrative markets for weapons exports.

The list included Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, which cut ties with Doha three months ago.

This is while many of the countries identified as key targets for the British arms sales are included in the government’s own “human rights priority registers.”

The list comes ahead of the Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair scheduled to be held in London on September 12-15.

“The fact that, despite current tensions, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both on the list tells us everything we need to know,” Andrew Smith, spokesperson of the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade organization, told the MEE.

Britain, he said, has “made clear that it will pull out all stops to sell arms to” both sides of the Qatar crisis.

Back in June, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

They presented Qatar with a list of 13 wide-ranging demands and gave it an ultimatum to comply with them or face unspecified consequences.

Doha, however, refused to meet the demands and said that they were meant to force the country to surrender its sovereignty.

UK arms fair hosts despots

In a relevant development, the UK government published its official guest list for DSEI, comprising 56 countries, among them Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Qatar.

Smith said the list included “a roll call of despots, dictatorships and human rights abusers. They will be greeted by civil servants and government ministers who are there for one reason only: to promote weapons.”

MP Caroline Lucas, UK Green Party co-leader, also called for the closure of the London arms fair.

“DSEI is a dark stain on our country’s already tarnished reputation. It’s time that this festival of violence was shut down for good – and for the UK to engage in peace-building rather

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Constitutional Crisis Brews in Moldova as Government Tests President’s Authority

Sputnik – 4 10.09.2017

Moldovan President Igor Dodon is demanding the resignation of Deputy Defense Minister Gheorghe Galbura for defying a presidential order to block the deployment of Moldovan troops to Ukraine to participate in NATO-led military drills. Speaking to Sputnik, regional expert Boris Rozhin warned that the country is on a path to a constitutional crisis.

The Moldovan government approved sending several dozen troops to Ukraine last week, ignoring Dodon’s decree to block the deployment. Dodon described the move as an ‘usurpation of power’ by the cabinet.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik about what’s likely to happen next, Boris Rozhin, an expert at the Center of Military-Political Journalism, said that the Moldovan government will be likely to try to ignore or challenge the president’s demand for Galbura’s resignation.

“This confrontation over sending the military abroad is an indication that the constitutional crisis in Moldova is deepening,” the expert said. “The parliament and the government are refusing to recognize the president’s authority as commander-in-chief to give orders to the country’s armed forces.”

“This issue will be considered at a meeting of the country’s Security Council, and most likely, by the constitutional court, as Dodon’s decision to dismiss the deputy defense minister will either be ignored or contested,” Rozhin added.

The expert believes that this confrontation between the branches of Moldova’s government is likely to continue until the next parliamentary elections, tentatively set for November 2018.

“The confrontation can be resolved through a decision of the constitutional court, which confirms or rejects Dodon’s right to issue orders to the Armed Forces, or deepen further and continue until the next parliamentary elections,” Rozhin said.

“After that, a reformatting of the legislature may take place. At the moment, the ruling establishment does not reflect the alignment of forces in Moldovan society, which has grown tired of the government’s push for European integration, which did not bring the hoped for economic and social improvements for ordinary people.”

As the constitutionally designated commander-in-chief, Dodon vetoed the government’s decision to send 57 National Guard troops to Ukraine for NATO exercises, reminding them that Moldova is a neutral state. Ignoring the president’s order, the contingent left for Ukraine anyway. The president also signed a decree which said that Moldovan military forces would not be allowed to be sent abroad for military exercises, training or any similar events without approval from the president.

The present crisis is not the first public conflict between Dodon and the cabinet o ministers. Earlier, the government asked the UN General Assembly to consider the removal of Russian peacekeeping troops from the breakaway republic of Transnistria. Dodon called the initiative an “empty PR move.” The president and the cabinet have faced off over Russia repeatedly, the government proposing a series of unfriendly gestures, with the president, in turn, saying that he would like to bring the country closer to Moscow.

Dodon, often described by Western political observers as ‘pro-Russian’, won presidential elections in 2016, defeating his pro-West, pro-EU opponent Maia Sandu. Moldova’s parliament and government are dominated by the pro-EU Democratic Party of Moldova, a social democratic party closely associated with oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, and a collection of independent MPs.

Commenting on the political situation in the country, political observer Viktor Marakhovsky wrote that it would be more correct to call Dodon ‘pro-Moldovan’ than ‘pro-Russian’, because the pro-EU elites he is up against have effectively “privatized political power in exchange for international grants, figuratively speaking.” Not only do they seek to give up sovereignty to EU structures; some have spearheaded a campaign pushing for Romania’s absorption of Moldova, a campaign actively supported by Bucharest.

Marakhovsky thinks that Dodon’s best hope will be to organize a referendum to ask Moldovans to approve the expansion of the president’s powers, fresh elections and returning the subject of the history of Moldova to the country’s schools, replacing ‘the history of Romania’ subject presently being taught.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment