Aletho News


Rebellion or Counter-Revolution: Made In US In Nicaragua?

By Achim Rödner – teleSUR – May 30, 2018

Many wonder if the United States is involved in the student protests of the past month in Nicaragua which attempted to destabilize the country. Western media writes nothing about the issue, while at the same time similar scenarios have played out in Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba, Honduras, Bolivia and other countries in which the left has made progress. At this moment, three Nicaraguan students are touring Europe and Sweden in search of support for their campaign. At least one of the students represents an organization funded and created by the United States.

The student protests in Nicaragua are described in the Western media as legitimate protests by young Nicaraguans who have spontaneously united to fight the supposed dictatorship. Surely there are many young people who have joined the fight with these ideas. Surely many people here in Sweden have joined and support that struggle. But there is much that indicates that these are not just spontaneous protests. There are many indications that organizations led by the United States waited for the right moment to create chaos, and exacerbate the contradictions to destabilize the democratically elected government of Nicaragua.

Changing Society

One of the three students on tour in Sweden right now is Jessica Cisneros, active in issues of integration and youth participation in political processes. She is a member of the Movimiento Civico de Juventudes (MCJ). That organization is financed, created by and an integral part of the National Democratic Institute. The NDI is an organization that works to change society in other countries. The president of the NDI is Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state. The general secretary of the MCJ, Davis Jose Nicaragua Lopez, founder of the organization, is also the coordinator of the NDI in Nicaragua and active in a series of similar organizations in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Excerpt from the NDI website: “The Civic Youth Movement (MCJ) has been part of an NDI project that began in 2015 with the aim of expanding youth leadership and political commitment by providing hands-on training in organizational techniques. Several of the group members are graduates of the Leadership and Political Conduct Certification (CLPM) program that the NDI has supported in conjunction with Nicaraguan universities and civil society organizations.”

Yerling Aguilera is from the Polytechnic University (UPOLI) of Managua and has specialized in research on the revolution and the feminist movement. She has also been an employee and consultant for IEEPP in Nicaragua, which works to strengthen the capacity of political, state and social actors for a better informed public through creative and innovative services. IEEPP has received support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of US$224,162 between 2014 and 2017.

Madelaine Caracas participates in the national dialogue currently taking place in Nicaragua. She is also active in the feminist and environmental movement.

From 2015 on, the United States expanded its support to Nicaragua, especially through support for leadership courses and money for young people in universities, schools, NGOs and political parties. Organizations that work with feminist movements and women, human rights and the environment have been prioritized.

This from the NDI website: “To ensure that the next generation of leaders will be equipped to govern in a democratic and transparent manner, since 2010 the NDI has partnered with Nicaraguan universities and civic organizations to lead a youth leadership program that has helped prepare more than 2,000 youth leaders, current and future, throughout the country. The NDI has also contributed to Nicaragua’s efforts to increase women’s political participation and initiatives to reduce discrimination against LGBT people, as well as shared best practices for monitoring electoral processes.” Is foreign interference in democracy and elections good for Nicaragua, but unacceptable for the United States and Sweden?

Foreign Interference

It is also interesting to compare what happens in Nicaragua with what happens in other countries. The NDI also works in Venezuela, also with subversive tasks. The activity of the United States and the NDI in Latin America should be compared with the debate on the interference of powers in the electoral systems of the United States, Sweden or Europe. For example, would those countries accept that Russia form and support organizations that train political leaders in Sweden or the United States?

This is how the NDI describes its activities in Venezuela on its website: “The NDI began working in Venezuela in the mid-1990s in response to requests to exchange international experiences on comparative approaches to democratic governance. After closing its offices in Venezuela in 2011, the NDI has continued – based on requests – offering material resources to democratic processes, including international approaches on electoral transparency, monitoring of political processes and civic and political organization, and the Institute promotes dialogue among Venezuelans and their civic and political peers and politicians at an international level on topics of mutual interest. ”

Organizations from the United States work towards the development of democracy and foreign interference in Nicaragua. According to its website, the Instituto Democratico Nacional (NDI) has 2,000 young leaders in Nicaragua. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is another organization that, according to its own version of events, since the 1990s has been dedicated to doing the work that the CIA used to do in secret. It promotes the destabilization of other countries. The NED works with a number of other organizations, media, websites and NGOs in Nicaragua. Officially, its support for Nicaragua amounted to US$4.2 million between 2014 and 2017.

USAID officially works with medical and disaster relief, but the NDI and the NED support a number of organizations that work with issues concerning women, children, the environment and human rights. On their website, they write that they want to “Promote democracy by training young and emerging leaders and giving them technical help so that they strengthen civil participation and improve local leadership.” They do not say whose democracy they want to strengthen: whether it is the vision of democracy in the United States and the CIA, or the people of Nicaragua.

Previously, USAID worked in Bolivia but it was expelled in 2013 for carrying out destabilizing activities. In the same raid, a Danish organization was also expelled. That does not mean the organization necessarily engaged in illegal activities, but that it did work with an organization that received money from the United States. USAID also works in Venezuela, and also says there is work to strengthen “civil society.” Its budget in Venezuela in 2015 was US$4.25 million. Its partners in Venezuela are, among others, Freedom House and the NDI.

Creating Change

Who will create change in Nicaragua? And will it be violently or through elections? USAID, NDI and NED have extensive activities in Nicaragua, with thousands of activists trained to “change society,” and hundreds of NGOs, universities and political parties that receive money and material for these organizations. The United States participates in this process and its interests are to destabilize the democratically elected Sandinista government.

Believing that the United States is not involved in the riots in Nicaragua is naive. The situation in Nicaragua is serious and a dialogue for peace is necessary. Those responsible for the violence, the criminal fires, the riots, the destruction and the looting must answer for them, both on the side of the demonstrators, as well as on the critical elements, the political groups of young people and the responsible politicians. If, as the student leaders say, Daniel Ortega has ordered the police to shoot to kill, go ahead and have the president tried. And if there has been foreign interference in the internal affairs of Nicaragua, those responsible for it have responded, both from activists in Nicaragua and from politicians in the United States. Many things can change for the better in Nicaragua, but it must be the work of the Nicaraguans themselves and not the money and agenda of the United States determining the changes.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada Sanctions 14 People in Venezuela After ‘Illegitimate’ Elections

Sputnik – 30.05.2018

Canada has imposed new sanctions against key figures in the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Global Affairs Canada said in a press release on Wednesday.

“In response to the illegitimate and anti-democratic presidential elections held in Venezuela on May 20, Canada today announces further sanctions on key figures in the Maduro regime,” the release said.

The sanctions target 14 individuals responsible “for the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela,” the foreign ministry added.

Canada is not the first country to introduce restrictions against Venezuela following the re-election of Nicolas Maduro. Previously, Washington, citing “fraudulent vote,” banned US citizens from all transactions tied to Venezuelan government debt. The order he signed also prevented Venezuelan officials from selling equity in any entity majority-owned by the government. The EU, in its turn, froze some assets belonging to a number of Venezuelan individuals, companies and organizations

On May 20, Venezuela held its presidential election, with four candidates in the running. According to the National Electoral Council (NEC), incumbent leader Nicolas Maduro was re-elected as Venezuelan president for his second term, having secured 68 percent of votes, with slightly over 46 percent voter turnout. A number of states, including the EU members, have slammed the vote as either unfair or illegitimate.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Luis Posada Carriles, Hemisphere’s Most Wanted Terrorist, Dies Free in Miami at Age 90

By Brett Wilkins | CounterPunch | May 28, 2018

Luis Posada Carriles, the most notorious and wanted terrorist in the Western Hemisphere — but one few Americans have ever heard of — has died a free man in Miami at age 90.

The Miami Herald reports Posada Carriles died peacefully in his sleep in a Hollywood, Florida hospital early on May 23 following a lengthy battle with throat cancer.

At the time of his death, Posada Carriles, a staunchly militant anti-Castro Cuban exile and former longtime CIA agent, was wanted by authorities in Cuba and Venezuela for his leading role in masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban commercial airliner over the Caribbean, an attack that killed 73 innocent people. He is also wanted for orchestrating a string of terror attacks on Cuban hotels and for repeatedly plotting to assassinate the late Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Posada Carriles and Castro were actually acquaintances during their pre-revolution college years at the University of Havana. Both equally despised the brutal US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. However, after Castro’s revolution overthrew the Batista regime Posada Carriles was briefly jailed before fleeing his homeland for Argentina, then the United States.

When the John F. Kennedy administration decided to wage covert warfare against Castro’s Cuba, Posada Carriles was one of the young CIA-trained exiles who planned the ill-fated 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Following that colossal embarrassment, he received explosives and sabotage training at Ft. Benning, Georgia during a period of rising US support for anti-Castro terrorism, crimes which included a rocket attack on the United Nations in a failed bid to assassinate Che Guevara.

The CIA set up a station at University of Miami, where agents plotted to kill or overthrow Castro and where operatives planned and launched countless terror and sabotage missions. Militantly anti-communist exile groups trained and operated throughout South Florida, with secret camps popping up in the Everglades. In the 1970s, a wave of bombings, assassinations and other attacks on pro-Castro exiles in South Florida and far beyond earned Miami the FBI nickname of America’s “terrorist capital.”

Posada Carriles would later boast that “the CIA taught us everything… they taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in sabotage.”

He would put all of those deadly skills to use while planning, along with fellow anti-Castro exile Orlando Bosch, the brazen broad daylight car bombing assassination of former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC on September 21, 1976. Letelier’s newlywed American aide, Ronni Moffit, was also killed in the attack.

The following month, Posada Carriles and Bosch planned the bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which killed 73 civilians including Cuba’s junior Olympic fencing team. It was the worst act of airborne terrorism in the Western Hemisphere until the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The CIA, under its new director George H. W. Bush, knew as early as June 1976 that Cuban exiles were plotting to blow up a Cubana airliner, but did nothing.

Police in Barbados arrested two Venezuelan operatives in connection with the bombing of Flight 455. They confessed and implicated Posada Carriles and Bosch as planners of the attack. The Cubans were arrested, tried and acquitted in a military court but civil authorities planned to retry them and they remained behind bars. Although they were acquitted in 1987, secret US government documents have since proven the US knew Posada Carriles and Bosch were behind the bombing.

Posada Carriles didn’t wait around to learn his fate. He escaped from prison in 1985 and made his way to El Salvador where, under the alias Ramon Medina, he worked for Col. Oliver North on the Reagan administration’s illegal arming of the terrorist Contra army in Nicaragua.

In the late 1990s, Posada Carriles was behind a string of hotel bombings in Cuba, including one in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist. He later explained that his goal was to cripple the socialist economy’s burgeoning tourism industry to deprive the Castro regime of desperately needed hard currency. Posada Carriles boasted that he “slept like a baby” after the bombings and brushed off their grisly results. “That Italian was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

Over 40 bombings in Honduras were also attributed to Posada Carriles during the 1990s. In 2000, Cuban intelligence agents foiled a plot by him and others to bomb a Panamanian university during a visit by Fidel Castro. Posada Carriles was convicted and jailed. However, then-Panamanian president Mireya Moscoso, a close ally of the George W. Bush administration, pardoned the terrorist before leaving office. Panama’s Supreme Court later overturned what it ruled an unconstitutional pardon.

Posada Carriles illegally entered the United States in 2005, returning to a hero’s welcome in Miami, a city that once celebrated Orlando Bosch Day to honor his co-conspirator. He sought asylum but was instead arrested for entering the country illegally. Although the Justice Department called him “an unrepentant criminal and admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks,” a federal judge recommended that he be released.

Incredibly, he was freed. Posada Carriles settled in Miami, where he found work as an artist. He also made frequent radio and television appearances, and once sat in the front row with Orlando Bosch at a speech by President George W. Bush, whose family is closely connected with some of the most notorious anti-Castro terrorists.

In April 2011, Posada Carriles was acquitted of immigration-related charges in a Texas court. Although he was accused of lying about his role in the deadly 1997 Cuba hotel bombing, he was never indicted for that or any other attack, even after his confessions. Critics blasted the United States for fighting a global war on terrorism, replete with threats and worse to attack countries that aid and abet terrorists, while harboring the hemisphere’s most wanted terrorists — and many others like them.

While many of Miami’s Cuban exiles, especially the older ones, are mourning Posada Carriles’ passing, his death was greeted with cheers throughout Cuba and much of Latin America. The Miami-based exile radio station La Poderosa hailed him as “a leader of liberty and justice… a man of real dignity,” while Cuban state media lamented that the “bin Laden of the West” died “without paying his debts to justice.”

One man’s terrorist may very well be another’s freedom fighter, but Luis Posada Carriles’ fight for “freedom” — which often included doing dirty, deadly work for some of the world’s worst human rights violators —  claimed the lives of too many innocent men, women and children to be called anything but terrorism.

Brett Wilkins is editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Labour Friends of Israel slammed for visiting country after recent killings of Palestinians

RT | May 30, 2018

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have been heavily criticized for promoting their latest trip to Israel with a series of pictures on social media, just weeks after the ‘massacre’ of Palestinian protesters by Israeli Defense Forces.

LFI are currently in Israel to “promote bilateral ties and meet politicians”, according to Britain’s Jewish News. They’ve been marking their trip with a series of smiley photos and meetings with Israel’s Labor party, much to the dismay of many of those on Twitter who are outraged at Israeli military action against civilians.

Their first tweet said: “We’re in Israel this week for a parliamentary delegation – here’s the group in Jerusalem this morning.”

One LFI tweet pictured a meeting with Israeli Labor leader Avi Gabbay. He recently wrote to Jeremy Corbyn to notify him of his party’s severing of ties with the Labour leader in response to the “crisis” of anti-Semitism in the UK party. It would appear these LFI members are in Gabbay’s good books.

From just under 100 supporters and select officers, only 7 Labour members of LFI made the trip to Israel. They include MPs Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s National Co-ordinator, LFI chair Joan Ryan, who was the subject of an Al-Jazeera undercover investigation into links between Israeli diplomats and the LFI, as well as MPs Sharon Hodgson, Louise Ellman and Jonathan Reynolds.

The LFI came under fire for declaring that “Hamas must accept responsibility” for scores of Palestinians being killed in mid May, during demonstrations to mark 70 years since Nakba “the catastrophe”.

In a tweet that was subsequently deleted, LFI responded to the killing of more than 60, including 6 children and the injuring of some 2,500 Palestinians by stating: “Tragic events on the Gazan border; all civilian deaths are regrettable. Hamas must accept responsibility for these events. Their successful attempt to hijack peaceful protest as cover to attack Israeli border communities must be condemned by all who seek peace in the Middle East.”

The widely-condemned statement has reportedly led to a number of Labour MPs disassociating themselves from the group, including Tulip Siddiq and Catherine West, who requested being removed from LFI’s supporters list, according to media outlet, Skwawkbox.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Israel’s detention of freedom flotilla is a crime’

A ship carrying 20 Palestinians set out from the Port of Gaza in the hopes of breaking Israel’s decade-long maritime embargo of the Gaza Strip [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
MEMO | May 30, 2018

Head of the Popular International Committee to Support Gaza, Dr Essam Yousef, called on the international community to pressure Israel to immediately release the passengers of a ship that set sail yesterday from Gaza heading to Cyprus in an effort to break the 12 year siege of the enclave.

Israeli occupation forces flanked the ship as it reached nine nautical miles from Gaza’s shores only for them to force it on to the Israeli port of Ashdod to the north of Gaza.

In a press statement today, Yousef condemned “the latest crime which is to be added to the occupation’s criminal record against the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza, who have been besieged for 12 years. This is a violation of all international conventions, laws, and legislations.”

Yousef held the Israeli authorities completely responsible for the safety of the ship’s passengers, who are “ill, students and unarmed civilians”.

“How can a state with an arsenal of deadly weapons as big as Israel and which considers itself a regional force superior to the rest of the region’s countries on a military level, pursue a ship carrying the ill and students who’s only aspiration is to leave the besieged Gaza Strip for treatment and education?” Yousef asked.

“Isn’t this state ashamed of itself, as it acts like a rogue state above the law, building its strength and force on the remains of innocent, starving and oppressed Palestinian people,” he added.

Yousef called on the governments of the free world and humanitarian and human rights organisations, as well as all international institutions to continue to pressure the occupation to lift the illegal and immoral siege imposed on two million people in Gaza, posing a blatant violation of all international charters related to human rights.

He also stressed the “Palestinian people’s right to move in and out of their country for treatment, education, work and any other activity, like the rest of the peoples of the world. No force on earth can continue to imprison and suffocate an entire nation who aspires for freedom and a dignified life.”

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

US imposes new sanctions against Iran

Press TV – May 30, 2018

The United States has imposed sanctions on several Iranian individuals and organizations, including Evin Prison and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), over “human rights abuses” and “censorship.”

The US Treasury Department announced the sanctions Wednesday on its website, saying the listed persons and entities will be blocked from the US financial system.

Individuals and companies who do business with the targeted Iranians could face sanctions from Treasury as well.

“Iran not only exports terrorism and instability across the world, it routinely violates the rights of its own people. The Iranian regime diverts national resources that should belong to the people to fund a massive and expensive censorship apparatus and suppress free speech,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Iran has rejected US and Western accusations of human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic as “untrue” and “politically-motivated.”

On Thursday, the US Treasury imposed new sanctions against nine Iranian and Turkish individuals and companies as well as a number of aircraft providing goods and services to four Iranian airlines.

The move by Washington was part of President Donald Trump’s plans to impose harsh sanctions against Tehran after pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Many countries, including America’s European allies, have said that they would not back Trump’s new plan.

The UK, France and Germany– all signatories to the deal– are already in talks with Iran to protect their businesses from possible punishment by the US.

Russia and China have also expressed willingness to back the deal and even fill the void should any European companies leave Iranian markets.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Lebanon launches search for first oil & gas reserves despite Israeli threats

RT | May 30, 2018

Beirut has announced the start of its oil and gas exploration for offshore energy reserves in the Mediterranean after approving a plan submitted by a consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek.

Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said Lebanon plans to launch a second offshore licensing round by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

In February, the country signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production agreements with the Total-Eni-Novatek consortium for offshore Blocks 4 and 9.

Part of Block 9 contains waters disputed with neighboring Israel but the consortium said it had no plans to drill in that area. Lebanese authorities gave the go-ahead this week for exploration of the two blocks to begin, said Khalil.

The exploration period can last up to three years and the first well is expected to be drilled in 2019, providing all government departments grant necessary licenses and permissions “on time and without delay”, he added.

The minister explained that drilling would determine whether Lebanon had commercial reserves and, if so, their scale. Lebanon shares the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean with Israel, Cyprus, and Syria. A range of big sub-sea gas fields have been discovered in the area since 2009.

However, the country was far behind Israel and Cyprus in exploring and developing its share of resources as a result of political issues over the past few years, and a dispute with Israel over Lebanon’s southern maritime border.

Israel had earlier threatened Lebanon over drilling in areas which it considers to be disputed. It warned Lebanon that it would pay a “full price” if another war breaks out between the two countries.

Three months ago, Lebanese President Michel Aoun appealed to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asking for Washington’s “effective role” in settling the dispute with Israel over offshore oil drilling areas. After the US proposed sharing the offshore blocks, Lebanon rejected its offer to “help.”

The US proposal reportedly specified that the Lebanese would take up 65 percent of the disputed sections of the shelf. Commenting on the proposal Aoun said Lebanon will not give Israel a “millimeter.” He underlined that the offshore energy blocks are located in Lebanon’s waters and thus are within Beirut’s exclusive economic zone.

Lebanon and Israel’s dispute runs over a triangular area of around 860 square kilometers (332 square miles) of waters, which could contain huge reserves of natural gas and maybe even crude oil.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italy’s anti-euro bloc likely to gain crushing majority in new elections

Asia Times | May 30, 2018

After investors hailed for a brief moment Italian President Sergio Matterella’s stand against a fledging populist coalition, a sense of dread began to set in. Matterella’s move to foil the League party and Five Star Movement’s bid to form a government forestalled the installation of an anti-euro finance minister, but may ultimately make the newly-formed, anti-euro alliance an even more powerful force.

What comes next could be a nightmare scenario for those hoping to blunt the determination of Italy’s populists to enact policies which many fear will prove disastrous for Italy’s debt solvency. The prospect of tax cuts along with a massive increase in entitlements has already triggered a selloff in Italian bonds. If new elections are held, despite the market turmoil the populists have caused, some analysts say they will only be emboldened.

An election simulation conducted by the Bologna-based Cattaneo Institute, as reported by Italy’s Ansa news agency, found that the League-Five Star coalition would sweep elections across most of the country, winning more than 90% of uninominal parliamentary elections. Just over one-third of the seats in both the Senate and the Chamber are awarded based on a direct first-past-the-post basis (uninominal), with voters electing specific candidates.

More than 90% of that uninominal vote will give the League-Five Star juggernaut around 35% of the seats in parliament just to start with. The remaining seats, which are awarded on a proportional basis between parties, would give them a two-thirds majority, according to Cattaneo’s projection. That represents a 15% bonus over what they achieved in the March elections.

The upshot: All the populists have to do is sit back and let the establishment attack them until the election, and clean up.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

‘Assassinated’ journalist Babchenko alive, Kiev accuses Russian intelligence of murder plot

RT | May 30, 2018

The reported killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko on Tuesday in Kiev was actually a ruse played by the Ukrainian law enforcement to prevent a planned hit, the Ukrainian authorities said.

Reporting on the high profile case on Wednesday, the head of the SBU, Ukraine’s national security service, Sergey Gritsak said Babchenko was alive and unhurt.

He claimed that the SBU had information about a planned assassination attempt on the journalist and acted to derail the plot.

“I want to congratulate his family, all of us and the entire world, which is watching it, and congratulate Babchenko with a third birthday,” Gritsak wrote on his Facebook page.

‘Third birthday’ was a reference to the journalist’s supposedly last post, in which he described narrowly avoiding death on May 29th a couple of years ago.

After reports of Babchenko’s killing, some Ukrainian officials rushed to accuse Russian intelligence services of masterminding the assassination. It was not immediately clear whether those officials did so as part of the spectacle or simply followed their usual habit of pinning every high-profile crime in Ukraine on Moscow.

The change of Babchenko’s status from murder victim to SBU agent didn’t stop Kiev from making accusations against Moscow. Gritsak insists that there was a hit on Babchenko ordered by the Russian intelligence. He claimed the contract to kill was worth $30,000 and that the organizer of the crime was arrested.

Babchenko himself said the staging of his death was executed as part of a wider SBU operation to prevent “massive terrorist attacks” in Ukraine.

“As far as I know, this operation was in the pipeline for two months. I was let in the loop a month ago. Over this month I say the guys worked really hard. They were constantly in contact with me. We deliberated, thought things out, acted. And this covert action was the result,” he told journalists.

Commenting on the development to Interfax, Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Russian Senate, called the apparent ruse “a stage in a series of delusional actions of the Ukrainian authorities directed at Russia”. He said he regretted that Babchenko agreed to be part of it.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Drones, Murder and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: the Cases of Reyaad Khan and Abdul Raqib Amin

By T.J. Coles | CounterPunch | May 30, 2018

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is 70 this year. But you wouldn’t know it from the impact it’s had on human lives. For example, Donald Trump has sharply increased drone attacks, especially in Yemen and Somalia, with virtual silence from Western media. Article 11 of the UDHR states: “(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

As I document in my new book Human Wrongs (Iff Books), the alleged terror suspects blown apart by drone operators are not even charged let alone given the chance to plead their innocence in a national or international court: and that’s quite apart from the women, children and babies (“collateral damage”) that happen to be nearby when the Hellfire missiles are launched.

In Britain, the age-old common law, presumption of innocence, faced a slight setback in the so-called “war on terror.” Since US drone operators murdered Afghan civilians in the first-ever lethal drone strike in 2002 (followed by Yemenis in the same year), the US has murdered about 2,500 people with drones alone. Providing targeting information and communications links, the UK plays a significant role, all in violation of the principles of the UDHR.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Execution, Philip Alston, writes: “A State killing is legal only if it is required to protect life (making lethal force proportionate) and there is no other means, such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation, of preventing that threat to life (making lethal force necessary).” So, a person in Afghanistan, for example, cannot be lawfully slain by a British drone operator on the pretence that the person is about to pose an imminent threat to the UK, unless for instance the person is about to give an order over the phone let’s say to, for instance, a terror cell in Briton, instructing it to detonate a bomb. Needless to say, this is a ludicrous scenario in the real-world.

Murdering Its Own

The British state murdering “its own people” is nothing new. In the 1970s, the Ministry of Defence waged a dirty war in Northern Ireland. Units from the Military Reaction Force (MRF) murdered Protestants and Catholics as a part of strategy of tension. Northern Irish persons murdered and/or shot by MRF operatives include:Patrick McVeigh (shot in the back), John and Gerry Conway (travelling to a fruit stall), Aiden McAloon and Eugene Devlin (travelling in a taxi), Joe Smith, Hugh Kenny, Patrick Murray and Tommy Shaw (drive-by shootings) and Daniel Rooney and Brendan Brennan (walking on a road).

The British government does in fact possess the proverbial license to kill. It is a “license” granted to itself and one not grounded in international law. Targeted killings (murder) hitherto depended on the authorization of the Secretary of State. The Intelligence Services Act 1994, Section 7(1), frees intelligence operatives from liability in acts of killing abroad, “if the act is one which is authorised to be done by virtue of an authorisation given by the Secretary of State.”

In the case of Reyaad Khan and Abdul Raqib Amin, the killings were not carried out by MI6 (which is covered by the Intelligence Services Act 1994), but by the Royal Air Force. In 2015, the government started murdering Britons allegedly suspected of involvement in terrorism, making no attempt to apprehend them and put them on trial, as international law requires.

In August 2015, Reyaad Khan and Abdul Raqib Amin, were travelling in a vehicle in Raqqa, Syria. RAF drone operators ended their lives. Then-PM David Cameron told Parliament that Khan was the target (murdered) and Amin was killed alongside him (manslaughter). A third unidentified, alleged Islamic State fighter was killed with them, though the third person was not “identified as a UK national.” By implication, the third person’s life is not important, hence no details emerged.

Cameron claimed the killings were “an act of self-defence,” because Khan was: “involved in actively recruiting ISIL sympathisers and seeking to orchestrate specific and barbaric attacks against the west, including directing a number of planned terrorist attacks right here in Britain, such as plots to attack high profile public commemorations.”

But Cameron also revealed that Khan was not a threat to the UK: “there was nothing to suggest that Reyaad Khan would ever leave Syria.” If Cameron is to be believed, Khan was issuing instructions to terror cells in the UK. But if this is the case, it therefore becomes a matter for the British police.

Changing Stories

The pretext for the murder was later changed by the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, who wrote that the killings were somehow justified in the “collective self-defence” of Iraq, where Britain is supposedly helping the government to defeat ISIS. The trouble is that Khan was not in Iraq when he was killed. Inverting international legal norms, Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon, “who authorised the lethal drone strike” (Press and Journal ), appealed to Article 51 of the UN Charter, the right of collective and/or individual self-defence. Attorney General Jeremy Wright’s advice has not been published, indicating that the killings are violations of domestic and international law.

It later transpired that the RAF is working its way through a “kill list” of alleged British terror suspects fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Both jets and drones are used; the latter are controlled by operators in RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. “When we know where they are we kill them,” said a Ministry of Defence spokesperson. The “kill list” revelations prompted Lord Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions, to co-sign a letter to PM May, calling for the release of the government’s Intelligence and Security Committee report into the murder of Reyaad Khan and names of other targeted suspects.

Lucy Powell MP and Kirsten Oswald MP, both co-chairs of the informal All-Party Parliamentary Group, called for a debate on Britain’s use of targeted murder. Defence Secretary Fallon who authorized the murder of Khan claimed that by February 2017, 85 Britons had been killed in Syria, but it wasn’t clear if this meant as part of the RAF’s kill list.

T. J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University’s Cognition Institute and the author of several books, including Fire and Fury (Clairview Books ) and Human Wrongs (Iff Books ).

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

The Attack on Syria by the US, UK and France Was Aggression

By David Morrison | American Herald Tribune | May 30, 2018

The prohibition on the use of force by one state against another is one of the most fundamental principles of international law. It is set out in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which states:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state … .”

The UN Charter recognises two exceptions to this fundamental prohibition on the use of force. The first is the right of self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter in the face of an armed attack. The other exception is if the use of force has been authorised by the Security Council under Article 42 in Chapter VII of the Charter.

The use of force in any other circumstance constitutes aggression contrary to Article 2.4 of the UN Charter.

On 14 April 2018, the UK engaged in military action against Syria in alliance with the US and France. Together, they fired 105 missiles against targets in Syria. This action was not carried out in self-defence in response to Syrian aggression, nor was it authorised by the Security Council. So, it constitutes aggression against Syria contrary to Article 2.4 of the UN Charter.

Oliver Miles: Is it legal?

Lest there be any doubt about this, here’s what former UK Ambassador Oliver Miles had to say about the action shortly after it took place:

“Before launching an operation of this kind, you have to pass three tests. The first test is: is it legal? The second is: is it effective? And the third test is: what are the political consequences?

“It fails on the first test, because I don’t think it’s legal. I think that the Prime Minister and the Government, and the other Governments concerned, have failed to address [the fact] that the Charter of the United Nations is very clear that military action of this kind can only be undertaken in two circumstances, either in self-defence, which clearly this was not, or with the authority of the Security Council, which they did not have.

“The Government, and the other Governments concerned, have stressed very rightly the importance of strengthening the taboo on use of chemical weapons, but the trouble is that in pursuing that objective they’ve weakened the intermission – the ban – on aggressive war.”

President Putin was not wrong when he described the airstrikes on Syria by the US, UK and France as: “an act of aggression against a sovereign state … without a mandate from the UN Security Council and in violation of the UN Charter and norms and principles of international law”.

This aggression was supported by the EU. Since EU foreign policy decisions require unanimity amongst EU members, this means that all 28 EU states support a fundamental breach of the UN Charter by the US and two of its own members.

May justifies use of force

Prime Minister May justified this use of force on humanitarian grounds in a statement on 14 April. It was taken, she said, in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government in Douma on 7 April 2018, which killed “up to 75” civilians. Its purpose was to “protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons” and, to that end, it consisted of “targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use” in future.

The Government published a paper Syria action – UK government legal position, which attempted to argue that this use of force was legal under international law. It asserted that:

“The UK is permitted under international law, on an exceptional basis, to take measures in order to alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering.”

Understandably, the paper made no mention whatsoever of the UN Charter, since there is no provision in the UN Charter which permits military action on humanitarian grounds without specific authorisation by the Security Council. Without that, military action against another state is aggression in breach of the UN Charter unless it is taken in self-defence.

Russia seeking to undermine “the international rules-based system”?

In recent years, the accusation that Russia is seeking to undermine “the international rules-based system” has become a mantra for the British Government and its supporters. For example, in the wake of the nerve gas attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Prime Minister May told the House of Commons on 26 March 2018:

“This act against our country is the latest in a pattern of increasingly aggressive Russian behaviour, attacking the international rules-based system across our continent and beyond.”

The Prime Minister didn’t make clear what she means by “the international rules-based system”, but the UN system, and the rules specified in the UN Charter, must be at the heart of it. It is ironic therefore that a few weeks later Britain should drive a cart and horses through the UN Charter by taking military action without Security Council authorisation against a sovereign state that hasn’t attacked it.

The Russian veto

The Prime Minister inferred that efforts to sanction Syria in any other way for its alleged use of chemical weapons were “repeatedly thwarted” by Russia applying, or threating to apply, its veto in the Security Council.

Like it or like it not, the “international rules-based system” involves Russia having a veto in the Security Council, along with the other four permanent members: China, France, the UK and the US (see Articles 23 and 27 of the UN Charter). Russia’s status as a veto-wielding permanent member is a reflection of its outstanding contribution to the defeat of fascism in Europe in WWII.

What is more, it is impossible to take the veto away from Russia, or any of the other permanent members – because amending the UN Charter requires the support of all five permanent members (see Article 108 of the UN Charter).

So, in practice defending the “international rules-based system” involves accepting that Russia will always have a veto on the Security Council, the body which, according to Article 24 of the UN Charter, has “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”.

It is not insignificant that each of the three states which took military action against Syria on 14 April have a veto in the Security Council. They are in a position to engage in aggression against other states,as and when they like, without fear of being sanctioned by the Council for doing so, since they can veto any resolution critical of them proposed in the Council.

Did a chemical weapons attack take place?

But, did a chemical weapons attack actually take place in Douma on 7 April? All the Prime Minister has to say about the alleged attack in her statement of 14 April is that “a significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian Regime is responsible for this latest attack”. This “indication” of the Syrian Government’s responsibility was sufficient for the Prime Minister to authorise the use of force and to put it into effect. For reasons that can only be guessed at, the execution couldn’t be delayed to give the OPCW inspectors (who were already on the ground in Damascus) sufficient time to gather information and make a judgment about what actually happened in Douma.

Did the Syrian Government really mount such a chemical weapons attack against civilians at this time when it is coming close to defeating the armed opposition? Such an attack was absolutely certain to provoke a military response from President Trump, since an alleged attack a year ago at Khan Sheikhoun had done so.

On that occasion, President Trump authorised the firing of 59 cruise missiles at a single target, namely, the Syrian air base from which the attack was said to have been launched. Damage to Syria’s military capabilities was limited. However, another chemical weapons attack was likely to lead to a more extensive US onslaught against Syria’s military infrastructure, which might undermine the Syria Government’s ability to finally defeat the armed opposition.

Why on earth would President Assad risk that outcome by using chemical weapons against civilians in an attack of little or no military value?

Lord West has doubts

As Lord West, former First Sea Lord and Chief of Defence Intelligence, pointed out in a BBC interview on 16 April:

“President Assad is in the process of winning this civil war. And he was about to take over and occupy Douma, all that area. He’d had a long, long, hard slog, slowly capturing that whole area of the city. And then, just before he goes in and takes it all over, apparently he decides to have a chemical attack. It just doesn’t ring true.

“It seems extraordinary, because clearly he would know that there’s likely to be a response from the allies – what benefit is there for his military? Most of the rebel fighters, this disparate group of Islamists, had withdrawn; there were a few women and children left around. What benefit was there militarily in doing what he did? I find that extraordinary. Whereas we know that, in the past, some of the Islamic groups have used chemicals [see here], and of course there would be huge benefit in them labelling an attack as coming from Assad, because they would guess, quite rightly, that there’d be a response from the US, as there was last time, and possibly from the UK and France …”

Little more than a gesture

In fact, the military response from the US, UK and France turned out to be little more than a gesture. This was because the US military accepted that missile strikes against military targets that might lead to Russian casualties had to be avoided, lest the Russians respond by striking the sources of the missiles, as they had warned in advance they might do. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained afterwards, the US military was informed “where [the Russian] red lines are, including red lines on the ground, geographically” and “the results show that they did not cross these red lines”.

So, instead of striking significant military targets, three sites associated in the past with Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities were chosen – a research centre in Barzeh near Damascus and two weapons storage centres near Homs. On the face of it, this choice was appropriate given that the military action was, in the Prime Minister’s words, “to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability”. But would these sites have been attacked if it was really thought that significant quantities of chemical weapons were stored there, given the risk to civilians nearby from toxic chemicals?

Syria became a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention on 14 October 2013 and, as required by the Convention formally agreed to destroy its chemical weapons stocks and production facilities. On 4 January 2016, the OPCW announced that all chemical weapons declared to it by Syria had been destroyed.

If Syria did not declare all its stocks to the OPCW (as the US and its allies claim), then it is highly unlikely that the undeclared stocks would be kept in known storage sites and be open to destruction from the air. A few months earlier, on 22 November 2017, the OPCW inspected the Barzeh site and didn’t discover any banned chemicals or “observe any activities inconsistent with obligations under the Convention”. Likely, the US and its co-aggressors didn’t expect to destroy any chemical weapons at these sites – there have been no reports that they did – but it made sense to target these sites in order to put a humanitarian face on the aggression.

Mainstream media turn a blind eye

The mainstream media in Britain have, almost without exception, accepted without question the Government’s narrative that the Syrian Government used chemical weapons against civilians in Douma on 7 April – and they have turned a blind eye to the growing body of evidence which suggests that there wasn’t a chemical weapons attack at all, which the Syrian and Russian Governments have claimed from the outset.

Remarkably few Western journalists have visited Douma to see for themselves. An exception to this was Robert Fisk, who has reported from the Middle East for over forty years (and is an Arabic speaker). Here is an extract from his account published in the Independent on 17 April of his conversation with Dr Assim Rahaibani, a senior doctor in the clinic where victims of the alleged chemical attack were brought for treatment. Dr Rahaibani told Fisk what had happened on that occasion:

“I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet’, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.”

Fisk walked freely around Douma talking to people he met but he encountered nobody who knew of a “gas” attack on 7 April. An American journalist, Pearson Sharp, from the One America News Network, had a similar experience: on 16 April he reported:

“Not one of the people that I spoke to in that neighbourhood said that they had seen anything, or heard anything, about a chemical attack on that day… they didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary.”

Russia Today has broadcast several interviews with paramedics from the clinic and with an 11-year old boy describing how he was roped into the making of the video by the White Helmets (see Interview with boy in Douma video raises more doubts over ‘chem attack’, 19 April). It has also broadcast the proceedings of a news conference organised at The Hague by the Russian Ambassador to the OPCW, when 17 doctors and paramedics, brought from Syria by Russia, testified to a complete absence of chemical weapons or victims at the clinic (see No attack, no victims, no chem weapons: Douma witnesses speak at OPCW briefing at The Hague, 26 April).

This evidence from Robert Fisk and Pearson Sharp, together with the witness testimony broadcast by Russia Today, is close to definitive proof that there was no chemical weapons attack in Douma on 7 April.

David Morrison is the co-author of “A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran” (published by Elliott & Thompson, 2013). He has written many articles on the US-led invasion of Iraq.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia is forming new force in Syria – report

By Leith Aboufadel – Al-Masdar News – 30/05/2018

BEIRUT, LEBANON – Officials from the Saudi regime met with members of the predominately Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northeastern Syria recently, Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday.

According to the Anadolu report, three Saudi military consultants met with the YPG in the northeast Aleppo city of Kobani (var. ‘Ayn Al-‘Arab) last Friday.

The YPG and Saudi officials discussed forming a new force in Syria that would be funded by the Gulf kingdom.

The Anadolu report added that the Saudi officials setup communication checkpoints between Hasakah city and Al-Qamishli in order to recruit new fighters.

These fighters are promised $200 if they join this new Arab force that is sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has not issued any response to this latest allegation.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment