Aletho News


‘Civilians deaths increased due to rise in use of US assassination drones’

Press TV – June 9, 2018

Delegation of authority to field level military commanders to use “US assassination drones” has resulted in a surge in the number of innocent civilians being killed.

Media sources reported recently that US President Donald Trump has delegated to battlefield commanders the authority to order lethal drone strikes.

The authority to call for assassination drone strikes was limited to the White House or Washington security officials when Trump’s predecessors, namely, George Bush and Barack Obama were in office.

Trump’s decision to delegate the decision-making process to the military resulted in the number of drone strikes increasing, and in turn, the number of innocent civilians getting killed going up, according to Michael Burns, a political and military analyst in New York.

Burns made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday while commenting on the US military’s illegal extrajudicial killings by using assassination drones in some Muslim states, and now planning to expand the practice to other regions across the globe.

“The reason it [the use of assassination drones] has increased so substantially is because more decision-making authority is being given to military commanders to use these systems.”

Burn says the increase in the use of drones aims to project US military power worldwide.

“The increase in the use of drones — which are officially known as ‘unmanned aerial systems’ to mask their vicious ability — to project power in other regions of the world has increased substantially under the Trump administration.”

The analyst also links the increase in the use of drone systems to other reasons including the cost-effectiveness of the weapon compared to other means available to the US government to project its military power across the globe.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Afghan Taliban announce three-day ceasefire for Eid holiday for 1st time

RT | June 9, 2018

Taliban militants in Afghanistan have announced they will suspend hostilities with the government forces for three days to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid. Foreign forces in Afghanistan are excluded from the truce, however.

The announcement comes after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday declared his own unconditional, week-long ceasefire against the Taliban, but not against other militant groups. The armistice will coincide with Eid celebrations at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which comes next Thursday.

Ghani’s ceasefire comes after the recommendation from a group of Islamic clerics, and it will last until June 20. The Taliban have not specified when their ceasefire will begin or end, Reuters reports.

This is the first time that the Taliban have ever extended an offer of this kind to the Afghan government, while Ghani previously declared an unconditional truce in 2014.

The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist militant group, are estimated to control 30 to 50 percent of Afghan territory, and they have a presence in up to 70 percent. US-led foreign combat troops withdrew from the country in 2014, but foreign personnel still remain there in training and support capacities. Airstrikes by the US have been continuing, though, and have risen sharply under President Donald Trump, as did the civilian casualties they caused.

Afghan President Ghani has been pushing for peace with the Taliban. In April, he suggested that the group should run in parliamentary elections as a legitimate political party.

The Taliban previously disapproved of the idea of holding direct talks with the Afghan government, insisting on negotiating with the US first. In February, the Taliban published an open letter to the “American people” and “peace-loving congressmen,” urging US troops to withdraw and calling for negotiations with US officials. However, Washington believes the conflict should be settled through direct talks between the insurgents and Afghan officials.

It was reported in late May that the Taliban held secretive talks with Afghan officials to discuss the prospects of a ceasefire. The talks, according to the US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, featured international organizations and foreign representatives. The Taliban denied the reports, calling them “a false claim” by the US side.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

When, Where, and How Will the Empire Strike Back?

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.06.2018

In any analysis of contemporary international politics it pays to be cautiously pessimistic. As the default mode one can generally expect that any way in which things can go wrong to threaten the peace and security of the planet, they will. Anticipation of improvement is a chump’s bet.

That’s why the analyst’s gut instinct rebels at any indication that things overall may be moving in a positive direction, however haltingly or indirectly. But consider:

  • Europe’s anti-Russia sanctions: American pressure on Europe with respect to trade with Iran, added to Trump’s new tariffs, feeds resentment across Europe, especially in powerful Germany, which especially objects to Washington’s threatening sanctions on companies participating in Nord Stream 2. It may be too soon to guess how soon the EU will pull the plug on anti-Russian sanctions, but there’s something in the air when even the likes of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker can say that “Russia-bashing has to be brought to an end.”  Italy’s voice will be key.

At the epicenter of each one of these earthshaking developments is one man: Donald Trump.

It would be inaccurate to say that these are even moves of the US government, of which Trump is only in partial control. With the permanent government – not to mention some of his own appointees – seeking to undermine him at every step, Trump seems to be resorting to the one tool he has at his personal disposal: disruption.

Let’s remember that, especially in the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, those who voted for Trump wanted something radically different from business as usual. They voted for him because they wanted a bull in a china shop, a wrecking ball, a human hand grenade, a big “FU” to the system.

Maybe that’s what we got.

To be sure, none of the foregoing itemized developments is dispositive. But taken together they point to a remarkable confluence of good omens, at least from the point of view of those who wanted to shake up, even shatter, the cozy arrangements that have guided the so-called “liberal global order.”

But those whose careers and privileges, and in some cases their freedom and even lives, depend on perpetuating that order will not go gentle into that good night. They are getting nervous. This means in particular the elements of the US-UK special services, their Democratic and GOP Never-Trump fellow travelers, the Trump-hating fake news media, and the bureaucratic nonentities in Brussels (not only at the European Commission but at NATO headquarters).

If past is prologue, the Empire will strike back – hard and dirty.

One is reminded of the past seven years of war in Syria, where every time the US indicated a willingness to disengage, or when Syrian forces had made major military gains, then – BAM! – a chemical weapons attack immediately and without evidence is attributed to government forces, followed by renewed cries of “Assad is killing his own people! Assad must go!” (This is a ploy that goes back at least to the Bosnian war of the 1990s. Every time a negotiated ceasefire seemed to be taking shape, another “Serb mortar attack” on civilians took place, leading to calls for NATO military action.)

The question is not “if” there will be a provocation, rather it’s one of when, where and how. While it’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, it’s nonetheless possible to anticipate some possibilities:

  • FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia (June 14 to July 15): Given the huge expense and effort Russia has put into the World Cup as a favorable showcase to the world, it will be a tempting target. Let’s remember that the unconstitutional ouster of Ukraine’s elected government took place as Putin’s attention was presumably distracted by his pride and joy, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The 2008 attack by Georgia’s then-president, Mikheil Saakashvili, on South Ossetia, was launched while the world’s eyes were focused on the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Both initiatives led to a strong counteraction by Moscow, leading in turn to worsened relations between Russia and the west – including Russia’s suspension from the G8 in 2014. (Though in the fevered imagination of western Russophobes, Putin was the one using the games as a cover, not the other way around.) A provocation could be directed against the FIFA events themselves – perhaps a terrorist attack by ISIS operatives reportedly being ferried out of the Middle East to Russia – or something elsewhere timed to coincide with matches being played all over Russia.
  • Ukraine: Regarding President Petro Poroshenko’s actions, everything must be put into the context of upcoming presidential elections in 2019. Poroshenko has to find a way to get into a runoff, presumably against Yulia Tymoshenko. The most beneficial thing he could do would be somehow to pull a rabbit out of his hat and achieve a peace deal in the Donbas. But chances of that are slim to none, as it would require flexibility from Kiev that Poroshenko can’t afford to show lest he be accused of being a Russian puppet. Conversely, he can up the ante with the Russians and hope the West will line up behind him. Perhaps the recent fake news murder fiasco regarding the still very much alive Arkady Babchenko was to have been one such ploy but it misfired. But there are other options, such as a provocation along the line of control in the Donbas (the newly delivered US Javelin missiles are handy, as is the Dutch MH17 report), maybe a covert attack on the Kerch bridge, as well as other less obvious possibilities.
  • Incident between NATO and Russian forcesNATO forces are stepping up provocative maneuvers on Russia’s doorstep in the Baltic and Black seas – purely to deter Moscow’s aggression, mind you. An incident could occur as any time, either by accident or on purpose. Either way, it would be the hostile Russians’ fault for putting their country so close to our bases and the venues of our military exercises.
  • Assassination: One of Putin’s well-known predilections is for killing, or at least attempting to kill, anyone who might displease him. Or like Assad with his chemical weapons, maybe Putin kills just for the sheer, malicious fun of it. The list of victims is long: Babchenko (except, not), the two Skripals (except, not them either), political opponents like Boris Nemtsov and Sergei Yushenkov, muckraking journalists like Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova, former chekist Aleksandr Litvinenko, RT network founder Mikhail Lesin, crusading lawyers like Stanislav Markelov and Sergei Magnitsky, oligarch Boris Berezovsky, and so on. A well-timed rub out of a suitably visible figure would have a salubrious impact on any annoying moves towards east-west rapprochement. No evidence is needed – the mere identity of the victim would be irrefutable proof of Putin’s guilt.

Regarding the last item, assassination, it should always be kept in mind that in the end the man threatening to upset the apple cart of the liberal global order isn’t Putin – it’s Trump. That suggests an ultimate solution that might become tempting if The Donald’s continued functioning at higher than room temperature becomes just too much to endure.

As Joseph Stalin is reputed to have remarked, “Death solves all problems. No man, no problem.” Trump, who for many powerful people is quite a problem indeed, has been recklessly compared to Jean-Marie Le Pen, Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin – even to Hitler and Mussolini. In an American context, to Andrew Jackson, Huey Long, and George Wallace. Let’s note that each of those three Americans was the target of assassination. Jackson (someone Trump is known to admire) survived by a failure of his attacker’s pistols, hailed by some at the time as miraculous. “The Kingfish” was killed. Wallace was crippled for life.

There is reason to think that Trump is well aware of the fate of the last American president who so threatened the habitual order of things and the entrenched, ruthless establishment that profits so mightily from it. He has repeatedly indicated his interest in releasing the full file on Jack Kennedy’s assassination, then backed off from it for undisclosed reasons. The shooting death of the president’s brother Robert Kennedy, who had he been elected president in 1968 would have had the opportunity to reopen the investigation into his brother’s murder, is back in the news with Robert Kennedy, Jr., expressing doubt about the official conclusion that his father was killed by Sirhan Sirhan.

If anyone thinks there is any length to which Trump’s enemies will not go, think again.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

When Private Ryan is shamed by quiet heroes in the Syrian Arab Army

RT | June 9, 2018

Stories of wartime heroism abound in Hollywood movie history, the gung-ho, swashbuckling images that saturate our cinema screens promote US military personnel to cult figures, ‘saving the world’.

It is the victory of fantasy over realism that distances the American public from the horrors of war.

Wars that are never on US soil but waged in distant lands, but always in the “interests of national security”. Consent is manufactured for these wars by fabricating fear and insecurity, the amplification of terrorism threats as the ever-present danger menacing the American people, held at bay by military intervention at an imagined ‘source’.

“US airstrikes on Syria were in the “vital national security and foreign policy interests” of the United States” President Trump  told Congress, after the tripartite alliance of US, France and UK had unlawfully attacked Syria. An attack carried out under the pretext of a trumped-up charge of chemical attacks by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the last moments of Douma’s liberation from Saudi-financed and UK-promoted extremists, Jaysh al-Islam.

Cinema is escapism and Hollywood excels in distracting a public already bamboozled by a corporate media’s expert distortion of fact to generate the narratives that instil fear and dehumanize the latest foe in the foreign policy crosshairs.

In Saving Private Ryan, the horror of battle is surround-sound deafeningly conveyed. Unremitting reality confronts our sensibility, the scream of bullets tearing into flesh, the clamour of the dying; nothing is left to the imagination. It is full frontal war.

In the movie, a detail of American soldiers is dispatched to France to bring Private Ryan home to his mother after General Marshall learns that his three brothers were killed in action. We are led to believe that the assuaging of Mama Ryan’s grief is of paramount national importance. It is an all-American feel-good-factor movie with the familiar “true grit”, the hard-bitten courage of ‘real men’ fighting to save the world and their own souls. As the movie’s tagline informs us: “In the last great invasion of the last great war, the greatest challenge for eight men… was saving one.”

As US Defence Secretary, James Mattis, said recently, when trying to explain away the wholesale devastation in Raqqa following a sustained bombing campaign by the US-led coalition – “we are the good guys and the innocent people on the battlefield know the difference” – I doubt the “innocent people” who were deliberately targeted by the coalition “precision” bombs would agree. The proclaimed war on terror, in this case Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), invariably results in the massacre of innocent people whose mangled remains are dismissed as “collateral damage” in another US campaign that protects “national security”.

A campaign fought illegally in the skies above or on the ground of a sovereign nation that has never presented a threat to US security. Syria has effectively been defending US and European “national security” for seven long and tortuous years. The hordes of extremists under a variety of monikers are armed, financed and equipped by our governments and their allies in the Gulf States, to enable regime change in Syria, but you would never know it from the rhetoric they use to drown out their responsibility.

Syria is stemming the terrorist tide within its territory and the SAA is fighting and dying to contain the threat. Alongside its allies, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah – Syria is sacrificing everything to prevent the spread of a cataclysmic contagion that has been created and imposed upon them by the nations whose claims of moral superiority ring hollow when confronted by the bloodshed they leave in their wake.

The SAA is dehumanized and criminalised by media in the West, it is reduced to ‘Assad’s army”, a ‘Shia militia’ – portrayed as a ‘murderous squad of sectarian thugs’. Nothing could be further from the truth, in my experience. I have met with many families of martyred soldiers who have given their lives to defend their homeland, their people, their honour and their way of life. They fight because “a fallen building can be rebuilt, but a fallen homeland is lost forever.”

Om Al Fouz outside her home in Taldara with ISIS fighters less than 1km away. © Vanessa Beeley

There are thousands of ‘Mama Ryans’ in Syria, brave, fearless women who have suffered indescribable loss but who remain steadfast, proud of their children’s role in protecting their future. Om Al Fouz from Taldara, close to Salamiyah, has lost five sons in the genuine “war on terror”.   

“When I lost the first one, I felt as if I had broken my back, I lost the second one only fifteen days later – I thought my heart had broken. Then the third, the fourth, the fifth, each time I grew stronger”. 

Om Al Fouz also told me: “I have 25 grandsons, I am ready to give all my children for this battle. We are all ready to be martyred, this is our country, our dignity, our honour, our morals. We will never leave this country to anyone else”.

I met Hala in January 2018 in Salamiyah. Hala is a beautiful young girl whose husband was killed fighting with the SAA to defend her hometown and her country. Like so many families in Salamiyah, Hala expressed great pride her husband’s martyrdom but the sadness in her eyes told me she has lost her love and the father of her child.

Her husband, Fadi Afif al-Qasir, was killed defending Western Salamiyah from Nusra Front. He was 31 years old. Hala proudly showed me their wedding photographs, a stunning young couple just beginning their married life with so many hopes and dreams.

Hala told me: “When they called him to serve the homeland, he left immediately so he could defend his land, to defend his land, to defend his values……so that Syria’s voice could reach all of the countries, so that peace for Syria could prevail, so that peace would not only happen for us, so peace would be for all countries. What is entering here that we are fighting against, it is going to go outside of Syria, and if it went outside of Syria it is going to destroy all the people. So, my husband, Fadi Afif al-Qasir he offered his soul, he offered his heart, he offered his blood, to redeem the homeland”.

Hannah Al Ayek with a photo of her martyrd son Saed Nizar and alongside his brother Mohammed, her husband Ashour, daughters Sally and Isra © Vanessa Beeley

I also met Hannah Al Ayek and her family early in 2018 in Salamiyah. Her son, Saed Nizar, was not even 22-years-old when he was killed. Saed had been a helicopter engineer with the Syrian Arab Air Force. He was killed on 22 January 2013.  He was on board a helicopter ferrying supplies into the base when it was brought down by a Free Syrian Army TOW missile, according to his family.

 Hannah said to me: “Your coming here and talking to me about my son gives us strength. We beg you to take our voices as far as you can. My son and all our Martyrs have sacrificed themselves for the world, not just for Syria. Maybe they don’t all have the same face, but they do have the same soul.”

Ahmed Jabr with his family and photo of his martyrd son, Mohammed, in Salamiya © Vanessa Beeley

Every family I met with and interviewed made similar statements. Ahmed Jabr lost his 23-year-old son, Mohammed, on the 4 March 2013, fighting with the SAA against IS in Qaryatayn. 

Ahmed told me: “We have a great army and we represent the army. The army represents us and they have sacrificed so much but thank God we have the victory on our side. They brought every foreign terrorist in the universe to our country. It is the Western countries bringing us this terrorism. Thank God we stand by our Army as one hand. Our Army defends the whole Arab world and the World from this terrorism because it will spread from Syria to the World.” 

The SAA is made up of conscripts. In many cases ordinary young men and women have taken up arms to defend their people, as in Salamiyah surrounded on four sides by IS, Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and a variety of extremist splinter groups. These soldiers are often inexperienced in military strategy and combat. They are facing a professional force of battle-hardened mercenaries, well equipped with more sophisticated weapons and machinery thanks to their sponsors in the West and Gulf States.

In every city, town and village in Syria you will find the displays of photos of Martyrs who have given their lives to defend their people. This is Salamiyah. © Vanessa Beeley

We in the West owe an infinite debt of gratitude to these young men and women who have resisted the terrorist spawn of our own imperialist nations. There will be no ‘Private Ryan’ films depicting their courage and bloodshed. There will be no commemorative statues erected in Washington or London in honour of their sacrifices. There will be no recognition of their unity, no acknowledgement of their dignity in Western media.

It falls upon us, the people, to salute these heroes, these defenders of humanity who have given their lives to prevent us living their torment. This is not some romantic vision of a world of complex nuances and multi-faceted truths, it is the realistic admission that without the SAA, we would be awash with extremism from the Euphrates to the Thames. Far from the din and cacophony of Hollywood generated conflict, these soldiers are the quiet heroes who have undeniably earned “the right to go home”.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 2 Comments

Hundreds Flee US-Held Refugee Camp in Syria to Government-Controlled Areas

Sputnik – June 9, 2018

Damascus has repeatedly called the US presence in the southern Syrian town of al-Tanf “illegal” and has insisted that American forces withdraw from the region immediately.

Hundreds of refugees from the US-led coalition-controlled Rukban refugee camp bordering Jordan have traveled several hundred kilometers west to the Damascus suburbs seeking assistance from Syrian authorities.

Speaking to journalists, some of the refugees said the lack of humanitarian aid drove them to make the journey west. Students from a Damascus university are helping to organize the provision of food and shelter for the refugees.

“We thought we would be saved there [at the Rukban camp] but as a result nearly died of hunger. It turned out that there was nothing there; nothing at all,” Muttrah Ramadan Houdour, one of the refugees, said. “Even the food and medicine we did have were brought to us by friends from Damascus, and we paid for it. We gave everything we had,” she added.

Others confirmed that the Rukban camp has problems with the supply of food and water.The Rukban refugee camp is located in the Al-Tanf district in Homs province and surrounded by opposition militants. Tens of thousands of civilians fled to the area in 2014, hoping to cross into neighboring Jordan, when Daesh (ISIS) began its assault into eastern Syria. Jordanian authorities did not let them into their territory, resulting in the creation of the Rukban camp.

An estimated 60,000 refugees are presently based at Rukban and the US-occupied al-Tanf military base. There have been numerous reports of militants creating problems for the refugees, from blocking them from leaving to preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. The United Nations has described the situation at the camp a “humanitarian disaster.” The US has been training Syrian opposition militia (some of them presumed to be ex-jihadists) at al-Tanf since 2016. Damascus and Moscow have repeatedly accused Washington of “spewing Daesh mobile groups” from the area and turning southern Syria into “a 100-kilometer ‘black hole’ on the Syrian-Jordanian state border.”

Last week, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem slammed the continued US military presence in the region and called on America to withdraw. Last month, senior Syrian diplomat Bashar Jaafari called the US presence at al-Tanf and Rukban “pure aggression and occupation.”

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

All remaining ISIS resistance zones in Syria are in US-controlled areas – Russian MoD

RT | June 9, 2018

Islamic State still keeps its presence in Syria, but only in US-controlled areas while those liberated by Syrian government forces areas are slowly recovering after terrorists’ defeat, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

“All the remaining pockets of resistance of ISIS terrorists in Syria are only in areas controlled by the United States,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a defense ministry spokesman, said on Saturday.

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a bold statement that pulling out of the Arab Republic “must avoid leaving a vacuum in Syria that can be exploited by the Assad regime or its supporters,” in apparent reference to Iran and Russia.

Russia has been fighting terrorists in the country on the invitation of the Syrian government, while the US presence there has been deemed aggressive by Damascus.

Konashenkov pulled no punches on the US military official, reminding him that the Washington-led invasion in Iraq under a false pretext in fact led to the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and eventually its expansion into war-ravaged Syria.

“Further expansion of ISIS in Syria became possible due to criminal inaction of the US and the so-called ‘international coalition,’ which resulted in quickly gaining control by ISIS militants over the main oil-bearing areas of Eastern Syria and constant flow of funds from the illegal sale of oil products,” Konashenkov said.

Washington supplied arms worth hundreds of millions to the “fictitious” Syrian opposition, while the vast majority of it ended up in hands of Al-Qaeda offshoot Al-Nusra Front, and Islamic State, he claimed. That, in Konashenkov’s view, shows that the terrorists groups’ goals in Syria coincide with Washington’s policies.

Meanwhile, not a cent from the US budget has come to facilitate the recovery of the former conflict zones now controlled by the Syrian government.

“In the Syrian provinces controlled by the legitimate authorities of the [Syrian Arab] Republic, peaceful life is now actively restored, settlements are being demined; enterprises, markets, schools and kindergartens are working. Humanitarian aid and food is arriving there, from which there is not even a piece of packaging, paid from the budget of the United States.”

Earlier, mass loss of civilian life in Islamic State-held Raqqa, inflicted by the US-led coalition, was slammed by Amnesty International. Its damning report, published earlier this week, said that residents were trapped as fighting raged in the streets between Islamic State militants and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who were supported by coalition airstrikes.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Europe leaders unanimously reject Trump’s call to Russia’s return to G7: France

Press TV – June 9, 2018

European members of the G7 industrial nations have unanimously rejected a call by US President Donald Trump for Russia’s readmission to the group.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and new Italian premier Giuseppe Conte agreed on a collective stance on Russia at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, said a senior aide to President Emmanuel Macron on Friday as cited in an AFP report.

“The common European position is against the return of Russia,” said the unidentified aide while speaking to reporters, noting that the European leaders did leave open “the possibility of establishing dialogue” with Moscow.

Moscow was suspended from the G7 club in 2014 after Crimea joined Russia in a referendum.

“We are in agreement that a return of Russia to the G7 cannot happen unless substantial progress is made in terms of the problems with Ukraine,” Merkel said.

Trump made the surprise call for Russia’s return to the group’s pre-2014 “G8” formula prior to his trip to Canada.

“They threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,” Trump said.

According to press reports, even US officials travelling with Trump expressed surprise by his suggestion and indicated that it was not planned. This is while Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland emphasized that it had not been formally put on the G7 agenda.

The US president also slammed American western trade partners, saying “all of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade.”

“We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out,” he added.

Meanwhile, Donald TUSK, President of the European Council, viewed the call for Russia’s return as part of a raft of unilateral measures imposed by Trump that have driven Washington apart from the US allies.

“It is evident that the American president and the rest of the group continue to disagree on trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal,” Tusk emphasized.

Tusk further warned that “the rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly not by the usual suspects but by its main architect and guarantor, the US.”

Russia, China cooperation at ‘unprecedented level’

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a visit to China on Friday that cooperation between Moscow and Beijing is at an all-time high.

“Cooperation with China is one of Russia’s top priorities and it has reached an unprecedented level,” Putin said.

Xi also said the countries have “always firmly taken the development of relations as a priority direction.”

They have “resolutely supported the other’s core interests … and jointly proactively participated in international affairs and global governance,” Xi added.

According to press reports, Russia and China have responded to the US national security strategy describing them as America’s top adversaries by pledging to further expand their economic, political and military cooperation.

The two leaders also signed a statement saying that “in conditions of a growing global instability and uncertainty” Russia and China will “deepen their consultations on strategic stability issues.”

They also vowed to “expand counter-terrorism cooperation,” boost contacts between their militaries and encourage joint international efforts to fight terrorism “without any double standards.”

The statement further censured Washington’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and said they would try to keep it alive and ensure further trade with Iran.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | | 1 Comment

The Next US President Will Save Europe From Russia’s Secret Plot

ORIENTAL REVIEW | June 8, 2018

On the eve of his visit to Austria, President Vladimir Putin told the press: Russia has not the least intention of sowing dissent within the European Union. On the contrary, it is in Moscow’s interests that the EU, its biggest trading partner, remain as unified and thriving as possible.

Europeans have long been quite obsessed with the idea that Russia is bent on dividing and weakening Europe. In the most prominent English-language media this is practically presumed to be as obviously true as their claims that Russia killed the blogger Arkady Babchenko, attempted to murder the spy Sergei Skripal, and shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

As usual, after the Malaysian government admitted that the evidence of Russian involvement in the downing of flight MH17 was inconclusive, the anti-Russian propaganda campaigns were reduced to slim pickings. It was precisely for this reason that the more cutting-edge Western media were so happy to latch onto the murder of the blogger in Kiev. It was precisely for this reason that the very ones who had so desperately hyped that whole episode were so indignant when they realized that they had fallen victim to a bit of ruthless Ukrainian creative license.

But let’s get back to Russia’s secret plots against Europe. Interestingly, when you trace back the source of most of the warnings about the Russian plots to divide Europe, they seem to emanate from Great Britain. In other words, they are coming from a government that has decided to pull out of the EU but is now trying to direct its foreign policy.

Allegations of Russian plans to fragment Europe have been heard from both the head of Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency as well as from spokesmen from the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR). Judging by its name, one might be forgiven for assuming that was supposed to be a pan-European organization. But actually that’s just what’s written on the shingle they hang outside their door, because in fact this “think tank” is headquartered and funded in London.

It turns out that the most prominently schismatic states in Europe also hold wildly anti-Russian stances. Neither Great Britain, nor, shall we say, Poland could be suspected of a dearth of official Russophobia. Both of them, each in their own way, are trying to ruin the lives of those countries that form the core of the EU.  Both have closed their doors to refugees and both are bravely waging war against an “influx” of natural gas that theoretically has nothing to do with them. Poland, which gets 17 billion euros a year from the EU budget, has the audacity to be demanding reparations from Germany. Britain, which slammed its doors shut in order to avoid chipping in to fund the EU, is valiantly battling Brussels in order to hold on to its economic perks in Europe.

And in this context, the EU’s biggest common ally — the US — is becoming an increasingly big problem. Washington has unleashed an economic war, not only against Russia and Iran, but also against the countries of Europe. But in the propaganda being rolled out for the European audience, the picture of the world looks like this:

The European Union’s main enemies are Russia and China. It’s true that they do want to trade with Europe and are offering enticements to encourage this, but one mustn’t believe them. Because it is a known fact that they are conducting a hybrid war — invisibly and unprovably — against Europe. Russia is such a wily combatant that one can’t ever prove anything — but you have to believe that it’s true. The European Union’s biggest friend is still the US. And yes, it’s true that they are currently trying to run their friends out of town in order to make a quick buck. But it’s solely President Trump who is to blame for that. Just be patient: soon the next president will come and fix everything right up. And it’s also true that no one can say when that next president will be in office, or what his name will be, or what he will do. And of course everyone remembers the Obama administration’s ceaseless attempts to foist an entirely colonial “transatlantic partnership” on Europe. But once Trump’s gone everything will be different — you just have to believe.

And this “you just have to believe” has recently become the main leitmotif of all the anti-Russian propaganda. Since the preferred narrative about the spy, the blogger, and airliner haven’t panned out, the proof of Russia’s malice is increasingly being repackaged as a kind of spiritual evidence. As the Guardian put it so aptly — “We do not need Russia to poison people in a British city to recognise the expanding threat to common values posed by Vladimir Putin’s hostile, corrupt regime.”

But then how can one explain that in reality, the opposite is true, that Russia actually needs a unified, rich and strong European Union? This isn’t rocket science, people — you don’t need to invoke “values” and chant the mantra of “you just have to believe.”

Russia needs a rich EU, because a rich trading partner has a more purchasing power, which gives Russia a positive trade balance with the EU.

Russia needs a unified EU, because a unified Europe that manages its own security issues from a centralized headquarters will present far fewer problems for Moscow than a string of feckless “friends of the US” along Russia’s western borders.

Russia needs a sovereign EU, because the anti-Russian trade sanctions serve no economic purpose for the EU whatsoever — and once Europe establishes sovereignty we will quite likely see those sanctions lifted.

And it is no coincidence that Austria was the first foreign country that Vladimir Putin visited after his inauguration.

That country is European, rich, and neutral (therefore not a member of NATO) and has been a staunch advocate for the rollback of Europe’s anti-Russian policy.

In other words, in Austria you can see a potential model for the kind of independent European Union that Russia would like to deal with in the twenty-first century.

And this is why the ones who are now so fervently preaching about “shared values” and “Western unity” when faced with the treachery of those natural-gas pipelines and that Eurasian trade route are actually demanding that Europe do itself a disservice by remaining deferential.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Manufacturing Dissent: US NGO’s Build Opposition in Thailand

By Joseph Thomas | New Eastern Outlook | June 9, 2018

Should decidedly anti-British government organisations be found across the United Kingdom to be funded and directed by Russians, we could only imagine the reaction. Even whispers of hints of Russian influence have resulted in legislation, sanctions and quite literally years of punditry warning of the Kremlin’s insidious reach.

When the tables are turned, it is clear London, Washington and Brussels understand the inappropriateness of one nation interfering in the internal affairs of another.

Yet this acute awareness has not informed US or European foreign policy, including components of what could be called “soft power,” or influence operations. While soft power implies non-coercion, in practice it is always used in conjunction with coercive means toward exacting concessions from targeted nations.

Hiding US Funding 

In the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand, a growing army of such influence operations has formed the foundation of an opposition to the current government. It is an opposition that without its current funding and support from abroad otherwise would not exist.

Just as was done for years against nations like Syria, Libya, Ukraine and Egypt (nations to have recently suffered or nearly suffered the impact of Western-sponsored regime change), Thailand faces long-term interference in its internal affairs as a direct result of these influence operations.

The opposition in Thailand itself is minute and unpopular. However the organisations supporting them enjoy a veneer of credibility owed primarily to their efforts to obfuscate from audiences their foreign funding and their actual role in organising and leading the opposition.

One example can be seen in the local English-language newspaper, the Bangkok Post. Its article, “The fight for basic rights,” interviews the American founders of a supposed nongovernmental organisation called, “Fortify Rights.” Fortify Rights has consistently used its platform to support anti-government protests under the pretext of defending human rights.

Nowhere in the interview are Matthew and Amy Smith asked where their money comes from and how, as Americans, it is their moral imperative to involve themselves in critical issues faced by Asia.

Throughout the interview, the Smiths repeatedly admit to reporting back to the United States government, including testifying before US Congress and lobbying in Washington for issues related to Myanmar’s ongoing refugee crisis. The interference in Asia by a nation residing on the other side of the planet seems almost taken for granted by both the Smiths and the interviewer, as if the United States is imbued with the authority to arbitrate universally.

On social media, when the topic of US government funding was raised, Matthew Smith categorically denied receiving US government funding. He would refer to additional questions regarding his organisation’s funding as “trollish.”

However, Fortify Rights’ 2016 annual report (PDF), as pointed out to Smith himself, includes government funding from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy ().

Other controversial sponsors of Fortify Rights include convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

Matthew Smith not only knows that NED is funded by and serves as an intermediary for the US government, (thus making Fortify Rights a recipient of US government funding), he is undoubtedly aware of how controversial such funding is across Asia, a region sensitive to outside interference after centuries of European and more recently, American colonisation.

Implications of NED Funding 

NED’s own website admits on its frequently asked questions page that:

NED is a private, non-profit, grant-making organization that receives an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress through the Department of State. Although NED’s continued funding is dependent on the continued support of the White House and Congress, it is NED’s independent BOARD OF DIRECTORS that controls how the appropriation is spent.

NED itself admits that it is funded through the US State Department. It claims that its board of directors, not the US government itself, then determine how those US tax dollars are spent.

A look at NED’s board of directors only further implicates organisations like Matthew Smith’s Fortify Rights in deep impropriety merely hiding behind “rights” advocacy.

It includes people representing political and business interests involved in some of the greatest injustices purveyed by the United States during this generation, including Elliott AbramsFrancis FukuyamaZalmay Khalilzad (who served as US ambassador to Iraq during the US occupation) and Vin Weber described by some (including themselves) as Neo-Conservatives who promoted the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and have promoted other wars of aggression around the globe both before and since.

Victoria Nuland, who played a central role in ousting the elected government of Ukraine in 2014 through a violent coup spearheaded by Neo-Nazi political parties and their militant wings, also serves on NED’s board of directors, along with Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post who clearly finds herself in a conflict of interest between reporting the truth and promoting organisations and agendas underwritten by the NED she chairs.

Another commonality is shared among NED’s board of directors; their use of “human rights” and “democracy” as pretexts for the wars of aggression and regime change they have promoted and helped execute, which reveals the true purpose, whether Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights knows or admits it or not, of both NED’s existence and the desired outcome of the work it funds around the globe.

NED in Thailand 

Fortify Rights is by far not the only front operating in Thailand under the sponsorship of US government-funded NED.

It coordinates with other fronts as well, including media outlets like Prachatai based in Bangkok (whose director also serves as an NED Fellow), Isaan Record based in Thailand’s northeast, and BenarNews covering Thailand’s deep south. All three disingenuously portray themselves as independent local media. They have intentionally taken steps to obfuscate their US government funding from their Thai readers. Prachatai has only disclosed its foreign funding once in 2011, and only on its English-language website.

Each media front specialises in seizing upon and exploiting social and economic tensions to bolster opposition to the current government. Before the 2014 coup ousted the previous, US-backed government of Yingluck Shinawatra, these same media organisations used their platforms to smooth over injustices and emerging tensions threatening that government’s stability.

NED-funded Fortify Rights also works closely with fellow US funding recipient Thai Lawyers for Human Rights who not only provide free legal services for anti-government protesters, but provide resources and leadership to the protests themselves. The protesters portraying themselves as “pro-democracy” activists, fail to disclose their foreign funding to potential followers. They also avoid questions regarding how their foreign funding violates democracy’s prerequisite of self-determination independent of foreign interference.

Other NED-funded organisations operating in Thailand include iLaw, Cafe Democracy, Media Inside Out Group, Book Re:public, Thai Netizens Network, the ENLAWTHAI Foundation and the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF).

Many of these US government-funded organisations play a direct role in demanding policy changes. Currently in Thailand, protests demanding regime change are also led by US government-funded organisations.

The implications of foreign funded organisations attempting to influence Thailand’s policy or its political future are troubling. Many of the individuals working for these US government-funded organisations on their social media accounts frequently comment on their opposition to “Russian influence” in their US sponsors’ internal affairs, apparently failing to appreciate the irony of what their own work represents.

They also fail to appreciate the irony of portraying themselves as “independent” and working for “nongovernmental organisations,” despite being both dependent on wealthy and influential foreign sponsors as well as working on behalf of foreign governments.

Through their connections with equally compromised organisations and individuals in Thailand’s media, they have written promotional pieces about their supposed work, like in the Bangkok Post, without disclosing their foreign funding to readers.

At other times, complicit individuals within the Thai media have attempted to write pieces defending or dismissing US government-funding when public outcry begins to rise.

Rewriting Thailand’s NGO Laws 

Despite the amount of funding and deception involved in this extensive and growing network, the US government-funded opposition is still widely unpopular. It would not be necessary for the Thai government to restrict their activities, let alone uproot and expel them as neighbouring Cambodia has (understandably) done.

Should Thailand simply rewrite its NGO laws to demand the same degree of scrutiny and transparency of these organisations as they themselves demand of targets of US government pressure, their already unpopular message would lose even more credibility and support across Thai society.

Prachatai, for example, being forced to disclose its US government funding at the header or footer (or both) of every article it writes would mean Prachatai finally practising the integrity and transparency it demands of targets of its daily propaganda. Likewise, those like writers at the Bangkok Post writing promotional pieces about Fortify Rights, should be obligated to disclose the organisation’s foreign funding somewhere within the body of the article.

Were these organisations as dedicated to the principles of transparency, freedom, democracy and human rights as they claimed, all of this information would already be freely and repeatedly provided to readers. If these organisations truly believed US, UK and Canadian government funding was benign or beneficial, they would not have gone through such extensive efforts to obfuscate and spin it to begin with. If anything, they would use such funding as a selling point.

Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights would not deceive people on social media by playing off of a technicality in which his US government money is essentially laundered through the NED before reaching him.

As the US continues accusing Russia of interfering in its internal political affairs, measures and consequences it attempts to level against Moscow could easily be cited and adopted by other nations across the globe to deal with the very real interference the US is engaged in within their respective borders.

The double game the US is playing regarding its own interference around the globe and accusations of interference it has levelled against Moscow, prove there is nothing benign at all about its agenda and activities. In turn, this calls into question all those organisations whose existence depends on annual contributions from this malignant political order.

Those truly dedicated to helping people will seek to independently fund their work by finding support from the local communities they claim to represent. If people are unwilling to fund Matthew Smith and Fortify Rights at the local level, it is likely Smith and his organisation are not truly working in the benefit of these communities, and instead, for interests diametrically opposed to them.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment