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US State Dept sanctions against Russia aimed at ‘undercutting’ Trump, analysts say

RT | August 9, 2018

The US State Department decision to blame Russia for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal without any evidence amounts to “flicking matches in a gasoline-filled room,” former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT.

The announcement of sanctions on Wednesday came despite the fact that the US is entirely aware that Russia was not responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, UK in March, he said.

“This is a political demand… this is designed to undercut the overtures from the Trump administration for President Trump directly and also Senator Rand Paul – now in Moscow – to warm relations with Russia.”

Former Pentagon official Michael Maloof echoed that sentiment, telling RT that “you have Donald Trump’s foreign policy and you now have the Trump administration’s foreign policy.” He added that the sanctions are being orchestrated by the deep state to “make the president look bad and basically to corner him.”

Both spoke to RT about Moscow’s impossible position when it comes to its non-existent role in the Skripal poisoning. “How do they prove a negative?” Maloof asked.

Meanwhile, Jatras warned that the current situation is “getting more serious than the people behind this.”

“We are getting very close to the line of the kind of breaking of dialogue, the breaking of relations that occurs between two countries only when they’re on the edge of war. I don’t think the people here really understand the kind of gasoline-filled room that they’re flicking matches into,” he said, specifically mentioning the second round of sanctions, which could downgrade diplomatic relations and cut off Aeroflot flights to the US.

The former US diplomat also noted Washington’s hypocrisy in its demands. “Is Russia going to submit to on-site inspections by the United States?” he asked, while pointing out that the US itself hasn’t destroyed its chemical stocks under the Chemical Weapons Convention. “This is a completely topsy-turvy world when it comes to these accusations.”

However, there’s probably more to the sanctions than meets the eye, according to Earl Rasmussen, executive vice-president of the Eurasia Center, who told RT that it needs to be looked at “from a much greater geopolitical situation,” noting the situation in the Middle East, from Syria to Iraq.

“Obviously, Russia’s had a significant hand in putting down Al-Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State), and blocking a lot of things that the US establishment had there,” he said.

As for the Kremlin’s role in the baseless accusations, Rasmussen said he has “huge respect” for the Russian Foreign Ministry and President Putin for their handling of the situation. “They’re probably the most grown-up foreign diplomats out there and the most professional as well,” he said.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Easter Island people want return of their sacred statue, stolen by imperial Brits

Moai sculpture from Easter Island in the British Museum © Veronika Lukasova / Global Look Press

RT | August 9, 2018

The Rapa Nui people of Easter Island are asking the British Museum to return one of the island’s sacred Moai statues, stolen 150 years ago by British sailors. It’s one of the many artifacts looted by the UK in its imperial days.

British Royal Navy sailors took the 2.42-meter (almost 8ft) tall Moai figure from Easter Island in 1868 and presented it to Queen Victoria in 1869. She, in turn, gifted it to the British Museum. No Moai statue has ever been precisely dated, but they are estimated to be at least 400 years old. This one’s name, Hoa Hakananai’a, ironically has been translated as “lost or stolen friend,” among other variants.

Now representatives of the native Easter Island Rapa Nui tribe have penned a letter to the British Museum asking for its return. It has received the backing of the national treasuries minister of Chile, of which Eastern Island is a part.

Hoa Hakananai’a is just one of a myriad of historic artifacts held in the British Museum, whose dubious means of acquisition is causing calls for repatriation. So far, the British government has been reluctant to yield to those calls.

Some of the most notable of those treasures include the Koh-i-noor diamond, taken from India and also presented to Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century. Another is the Rosetta Stone, discovered by Napoleon’s French Army in the late-18th century, which ended up in Britain in the early 1800s. There are also the Elgin Marbles from Greece, named after the Earl of Elgin, who in 1801 procured them from the Ottoman Empire, then the rulers of Greece.

In all of these cases, the original countries’ governments want their treasures back. With the Elgin Marbles, even UNESCO has interjected with a proposal to mediate the dispute.
UK authorities are resisting any calls to repatriate the artifacts. Their chief arguments being that the British Museum offers better conditions for their preservation and study.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Colombia recognizes Palestinian state, then abruptly vows to review the move amid Israeli outrage

RT | August 9, 2018

After it emerged that the former president Juan Manuel Santos recognized Palestine as an independent state just before leaving office, Colombia’s new government has pledged to “cautiously” review the decision and its implications.

Palestine was described as a “free, independent and sovereign state” in Santos’ August 3 letter to the Palestinian representative in Colombia, which was only made public on Wednesday. “Just as the Palestinian people have a right to constitute an independent state, Israel has a right to live in peace alongside its neighbors,” it added.

The Palestinian representative welcomed the announcement, expressing hope it will “contribute significantly to generating the necessary conditions in the search for peace in the Middle East.” Palestine is currently recognized as a sovereign state by the UN, the International Criminal Court and at least 137 countries.

Israel, however, immediately slammed the last move by the outgoing Colombian administration, urging the new government to reverse the decision, which, according to Israeli embassy in Bogota, “contravenes the close relations, extensive cooperation in vital areas and interests of both countries.”

Apparently facing some pressure, the new Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said in a statement later on Wednesday that, given “possible omissions that could come to light about the way in which this decision was taken by the outgoing president, the government will cautiously examine its implications and will act according to international law.”

Colombia’s new president, Ivan Duque, took office on Tuesday in an inauguration ceremony attended by visiting US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. Colombia was one of the few states that abstained from voting on a US General Assembly resolution that urged the US to rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Israel strikes Gaza Strip 140 times as fresh war looms

Press TV – August 9, 2018

The Israeli military has carried out over 140 strikes against the Gaza Strip, threatening another full-scale military offensive against the blockaded coastal enclave amid escalating tensions there.

The Israeli army said on Thursday morning that it had pounded more than 140 targets in Gaza belonging to the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement.

The attacks came after around 150 rockets were fired from Gaza into the occupied territories from late Wednesday into Thursday, the Israeli military added.

It further claimed that the Israeli missile system Iron Dome had intercepted 25 rockets out of the 150 rockets, which activated sirens in the occupied territories over 125 times.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the fresh rocket attacks into the occupied territories, saying it was avenging the deaths of two fighters killed in an Israeli tank fire in Gaza on Tuesday.

“In response to Israel’s aggression, the Palestinian resistance has launched a large number of rockets in recent hours at the enemy,” Hamas said. “There was a promise [to respond] and now it has been fulfilled.”

Hamas military wing Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades identified the victims of Tuesday’s Israeli strike as Ahmed Murjan and Abdel-Hafez al-Silawi.

Hamas, PA blast Israel

Reacting to the renewed Israeli raids, Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said “Israel will bear the responsibility for its aggression against the citizens of Gaza,” he said.

“The Palestinian resistance is in a state of self-defense and Israel will not succeed in forcing us to remain in this state,” he added.

In Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the UN to make Israel stop its aggression against Gaza.

Israel preparing for war

Meanwhile, a senior Israeli army official told Israeli daily Haaretz on Thursday that Tel Aviv is approaching a new war on Gaza.

“We don’t see the end of the escalation. We are closing in on operation in Gaza,” he said.

Another Israeli official warned Hamas against further escalation in the region.

“The way things continue to play out is significant. Hamas will understand in the coming hours, as in the past months, that this is not the direction it wants to chose,” he was quoted as saying on the army [‘s Twitter account.

At noon on Thursday, Palestinian officials said Gaza-based resistance fighters halted retaliatory rocket fire at the Israeli-occupied territories.

A member of the joint command of resistance movements said, “The current round in Gaza has ended. The resistance responded to the enemy’s crimes in Gaza. The continuation of calm in Gaza depends on (Israel’s) behavior.”

A source with Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas confirmed the move, though there was no immediate response from Israel.

Israel carries out regular attacks on Palestinians in Gaza under the pretext of hitting Hamas targets.

The Gaza Strip has been under an inhumane Israeli siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008.

Tensions have been running high near the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests demanding the right to return for the Palestinians driven out of their homeland.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which this year coincided with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

Nearly 160 Palestinians have been killed and some 17,500 others wounded in the fresh wave of violence, according to the latest figures released by the Palestinian Health Ministry.

See Also:

PressTV-Israeli strike kills two Hamas fighters in Gaza

Two Hamas members are killed in yet another Israeli military attack against the blockaded Gaza Strip.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

Sanctioning Russia for false link to UK poisonings ‘unacceptable & unlawful’ – Kremlin

RT | August 9, 2018

Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of Russian President Vladimir Putin, says the use of a Russian link to recent UK poisoning incidents to justify fresh US sanctions against the Kremlin is a violation of international law.

“In general, of course it’s necessary to say that we consider it categorically unacceptable that the new restrictions, that we continue to consider unlawful, are associated with the Salisbury case,” Peskov said in his Thursday interview with reporters.

“The association with these events is unacceptable for us. And we are convinced that such restrictions, together with the ones that the American side has imposed preemptively, are totally unlawful and contradict international law.”

“Russia does not have, and it has never had, anything to do with chemical weapons’ use, this is out of question. Moreover, we cannot confidently discuss what was used in Great Britain and how it was used because we have no information whatsoever. We have received no answers to our proposal to the British side to hold joint investigation into this incident that causes serious concern on our part,” the Kremlin official added.

Peskov told reporters that he considered any speculation about the effect of sanctions on the Russian financial system unwarranted, because this financial system was very stable. He noted that this stability had been proven in previous standoffs and that the Russian authorities had taken deliberate measures to make the country’s finances capable of withstanding the unpredictable behavior of “partners across the ocean.”

He stressed that it was difficult to reconcile the latest unfriendly actions by the US with the atmosphere established during the recent summit between US President Donald Trump and Putin in Helsinki.

When reporters asked Peskov about a possible Russian response to new US measures, he insisted it was too early to discuss the issue because the official US statement and quotes in the media from certain high-ranking sources did not make clear Washington’s official position.

Earlier, the US State Department announced the plans to impose new sanctions on Russia over its alleged role in the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK in March. The first package of sanctions is scheduled to come into effect on or around August 22 and will reportedly include a ban on exports of sensitive national security goods to Russia.

The second round of sanctions, which includes downgrading diplomatic relations, banning the Russian airline Aeroflot from flying to the US and cutting off nearly all exports and imports, will reportedly be imposed three months after the first one, unless Russian authorities provide “reliable assurances” that they won’t use chemical weapons in the future and agree to “on-site inspections” by independent monitors.

Earlier today senior Russian lawmakers called the planned restrictions unfounded and likened Washington’s behavior to actions of a police investigator who attempts to extract evidence from an innocent suspect using torture and threats.

Read more:

Trump is real target of anti-Russian sanctions proposal, says Russian MP

Snr Russian senator likens US sanctions plan to police torture for confession

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

India’s ‘Tibet card’ is a bitter legacy

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 9, 2018

A sensational report on Tuesday by the Japanese publication Nikkei that Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed a Faustian deal on Tibet with Chinese President Xi Jinping stretches credulity. The report citing Indian sources claimed that Modi government is dumping the Tibetan issue in anticipation of the death of the Dalai Lama as quid pro quo by Beijing on a partial border settlement.

It is a curious report, to say the least. First, one would like to think that Modi being a staunch Hindu, will not negotiate over the death of someone who is still alive. Period. Second, Xi has a stated position, repeated ad nauseum, that China will never make concessions on its territories, and there is no reason to doubt the Chinese leader’s resolve. Third, even if such a diabolical exchange had taken place at Wuhan on an explosive topic (which had contributed to the 1962 conflict), it cannot possibly become bazaar gossip. India is not a banana republic.

So, why has such an attempt been made to scandalize Modi as someone raring to dump the ‘Tibetan cause’? One reason could be that the Japanese publication, which has a record of Sinophobia, simply vandalized the Wuhan summit in a continuing attempt to stall any improvement in India-China relations. Quite possibly, motivated Indians put the publication onto it.

For, it is no secret that Modi’s initiative to improve relations with China lacks acceptability within sections of our so-called ‘strategic community’ –  think tankers, media persons, ‘China experts’ and so on – who for reasons of their own appear to have convinced themselves that Sino-Indian geopolitical rivalry must inexorably run its course until such time as Delhi can negotiate with Beijing from a position of strength.

Having said that, the fact remains that there has been a flurry of media reports lately on Tibet. They have focused attention on the tumultuous life and times of the Karmapa Lama. In particular, following his recent remarks about returning to India after a yearlong sojourn in the United States, there is an animated discussion going on over this topic.

It appears that the Indian security establishment, which viewed him as a ‘Chinese spy’ and had kept him under close surveillance for almost two decades in a remote monastery in Dharamsala, has had a profound rethink in the most recent weeks and is now beseeching him to come back to India. It seems that the Indian agencies have made a seductive offer of prime land (5-acre sprawling estate) in Delhi to set up the Karmapa’s Hqs on a grand scale.

Many of these reports are so obviously based on ‘spin’ by intelligence operatives themselves. Now, spooks are creators perfectly capable of constructing a world that works on the same emotional basis as successful soap operas. So, what is the soap opera here about?

Put differently: How come the government has had a change of heart with regard to 32-year old Karmapa in the downstream of the Wuhan summit in end-April?

More to the point, Karmapa has been living in America for over a year and it is inconceivable that the CIA never got to know about his presence on a lavish 150-acre estate in the Wharton State Forest Area in New Jersey that has been ‘gifted’ to him — purportedly by a Taiwanese couple. In fact, his remarks about his intention to return to India were transmitted via Radio Free Asia, which is known to be a US intelligence outfit.

To be sure, the whole sordid soap opera stinks to the heavens. As the Nikkei report on Tuesday hints, there are all sorts of interest groups (within and outside India), who want the Trans-Himalayan gravy train to Lhasa to keep running. But isn’t it in India’s long-term interests that Tibet-related issues do not remain a point of discord in the Sino-Indian relationship?

It is Modi’s call, finally. After all, this is a bitter legacy which is not his creation and, therefore, he is best placed than any of his predecessors to put a full stop to the delusional belief that we are holding a ‘Tibet card’ with a unique potential to leverage Chinese policies toward India. Read the essay by Ambassador Stobdan, one of our best experts on the politics of Tibetan Buddhism – The Flight of the Karmapa is Further Proof That India Has No Tibet Card, here.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Butina Case: Neo-McCarthyism Engulfs America

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.08.2018

The United States Department of Justice would apparently have you believe that the Kremlin sought to subvert the five-million-member strong National Rifle Association (NRA) by having two Russian citizens take out life memberships in the organization with the intention of corrupting it and turning it into a mouthpiece for President Vladimir Putin. Both of the Russians – Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin – have, by the way, long well documented histories as advocates for gun ownership and were founders of Right to Bear Arms, which is not an intelligence front organization of some kind and is rather a genuine lobbying group with an active membership and agenda. Contrary to what has been reported in the mainstream media, Russians can own guns but the licensing and registration procedures are long and complicated, which Right to Bear Arms, modeling itself on the NRA, is seeking to change.

Maria Butina, a graduate student at American University, is now in solitary confinement in a federal prison, having been charged with collusion with Torshin and failure to register as an agent of the Russian Federation. It is unusual to arrest and confine someone who has failed to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, but she has not been granted bail because, as a Russian citizen, she is considered to be a “flight risk,” likely to try to flee the US and return home. It is to be presumed that she is being pressured to identify others involved in her alleged scheme to overthrow American democracy through NRA membership.

Indeed, in any event, it would be difficult to imagine why anyone would consider the NRA to be a legitimate intelligence target. It only flexes its admitted powerful legislative muscles over issues relating to gun ownership, not regarding policy on Russia. In short, Butina and by extension Torshin appear to have done nothing wrong. Both are energetic advocates for their country and guns rights, which they appear to believe in, and Butina’s aggressive networking has broken no law except not registering, which in itself assumes that she is a Russian government agent, something that has not been demonstrated. To put the shoe on the other foot, will every American who now travels to Russia and engages in political conversations with local people be suspected of acting as an agent of the US government? Once you open the door, it swings both ways.

One might dismiss the entire Affair Butina as little more than a reflection of the anti-Russia hysteria that has been sweeping the United States since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, but that would be unfair to those remaining honest FBI agents who may have investigated Butina and Torshin and come up with what they believed to be a plausible case for an indictment. There were possibly suspicious money transfers as well as email intercepts that might be interpreted as incriminating.

But two important elements are clearly missing. The first is motive. Did the Kremlin seriously believe that it could get anything substantial out of having a gun totin’ attractive young Russian woman as a life member in the NRA? What did the presumed puppet masters in Moscow expect to obtain apart from the sorts of group photos including Butina that one gets while posing with politicians at the annual NRA convention? Sure, the photo might even evolve into a cup of coffee together, but what is the end game?

Second is the lack of any of the hallmarks of an intelligence operation, which is referred to in the business as tradecraft. Spies meet secretly or at least outside the public eye with prospective agents whereas Maria operated completely in the open and she made no effort to conceal her love for her country and her desire that Washington and Moscow normalize relations. Spies also communicate securely, which means that they use encrypted systems or various cut-outs, i.e. mis-directions, when maintaining contact with those who are running them. Again, Maria did none of that, which is why the FBI has her emails. Also spies work under what is referred to as an “operating directive” in CIA-speak where they have very specific information that they seek to obtain from their contacts. There is no indication that Maria Butina in any way sought classified information or intelligence that would relate either to the security of the United States or to America’s political system. And finally, Maria made no attempt to recruit anyone and turn them into an actual controlled Russian agent, which is what spies eventually seek to do.

It has come down to this: if you are a Russian and you are caught talking to anyone in any way influential, there is potentially hell to pay because the FBI will be watching you. You are automatically assumed to be part of a conspiracy. Once “evidence” is collected, you will be indicted and sent to prison, mostly to send a message to Moscow. It is the ultimate irony that how the old Soviet Union’s judiciary used to function is now becoming standing operating procedure in the United States.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

The knife in Iran’s back: Trump opens door to chaos

By Vijay Prashad | Asia Times | August 9, 2018

On Tuesday night, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani went on television to talk about the reinstatement of sanctions by the United States against his country. He prepared the country for more privations as a result of the sanctions. Responding to US President Donald Trump’s offer of a meeting, Rouhani said pointedly, “If you stab someone with a knife and then say you want to talk, the first thing you have to do is to remove the knife.”

It is clear to everyone outside the US government that Iran has honored its side of the 2015 nuclear deal that it made with the governments of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the US, the UK, France, China and Russia) as well as the European Union. In fact, quite starkly, EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said, “We are encouraging small and medium enterprises in particular to increase business with and in Iran as part of something that for us is a security priority.”

In other words, Mogherini is asking companies to resist Trump’s policy direction. What she is saying, and what Rouhani said, is that it is the United States that has violated the nuclear deal, and so no one needs to honor the US sanctions that have been reinstated.

Mogherini pointed to “small and medium enterprises” because these would not be the kind of multinational corporations with interests in the United States. But it is more than small and medium-sized enterprises that are going to challenge the US sanctions. China, Russia and Turkey have already indicated that they will not buckle under US pressure.

China

“China’s lawful rights should be protected,” said the Chinese government. China has no incentive to follow the new US position.

First, China imports about US$15 billion worth of oil from Iran each year and expects to increase its purchases next year. State energy companies such as China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Sinopec have invested billions of dollars in Iran.

CNPC and Sinopec also have shares in Iran’s major oil and gas fields – CNPC has a 30% stake in the South Pars gas field and has investments in the North Azadegan oilfield, while Sinopec has invested $2 billion in the Yadavan oilfield.

China’s Export-Import Bank, meanwhile, has financed many large projects in Iran, including the electrification of the Tehran-Mashhad railway. Other Chinese investment projects include the Tehran metro and the Tehran-Isfahan train. These projects are worth tens of billions of dollars.

Second, China is in the midst of a nasty trade war with the United States. In late August, Trump’s government slapped 25% tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports into the United States. China responded with its own tariffs, with its Commerce Ministry saying that the US was “once again putting domestic law over international law,” which is a “very unreasonable practice.”

The “once again” is important. China is seized by the unfairness of the reinstatement of sanctions on Iran, not only for its own economic reasons but also because it sees this as a violation of international agreements and a threat to Iranian sovereignty – two principles that China takes very seriously.

Sinopec, knee-deep in Iran’s oil sector, has now said that it would delay buying US oil for September. Iran has now been drawn into the US “trade war” (on which, read more here).

The Chinese have been quite strong in their position. The Global Times, a Chinese government paper, wrote in an editorial, “China is prepared for protracted war. In the future, the US economy will depend more on the Chinese market than the other way around.” This fortitude is going to spill over into China’s defense of Iran’s economy.

Russia

Russia and Iran do not share the kind of economic linkages that Iran has with China. After the 2015 sanctions deal, Iran did not turn to Russian oil and gas companies for investment. It went to France’s Total – which signed a $5 billion deal. Russia and Iran did sign various massive energy deals ($20 billion in 2014), but these did not seem to go anywhere.

Russia’s Gazprom and Lukoil have toyed with entry to Iran. In May, Lukoil directly said that it would be hesitant to enter Iran because of the proposed US reinstatement of sanctions. Lukoil’s hesitancy came alongside that of European companies such as Peugeot, Siemens and even Total, which decided to hold off on expansion or cut ties with Iran. Daimler has now officially halted any work in Iran.

It was a surprise this year when the Iranian Dana Energy company signed a deal with the Russian Zarubezhneft company to develop the Aban and West Paydar oilfields. The contract is for $740 million, which in the oil and gas business is significant but not eye-opening.

In July, senior Iranian politician Ali Akbar Velayati met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. He left the meeting saying, “Russia is ready to invest $50 billion Iran’s oil and gas sectors.” Velayati specifically mentioned Rosneft and Gazprom as potential investors – “up to $10 billion,” he said.

When Putin was in Tehran last November, Russian companies signed preliminary deals worth $30 billion. Whether these deals will go forward is not clear. But after Trump’s reinstatement of sanctions, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it would “take appropriate measures on a national level to protect trade and economic cooperation with Iran.” In other words, it would see that trade ties were not broken.

Turkey

Both Iran and Turkey face great economic challenges. Neither can afford to break ties. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that his government will only honor international agreements, and that the US reinstatement of sanctions is not part of an international framework. Turkey, therefore, will continue to trade with Iran.

Iranian oil and gas are crucial for Turkey, whose refineries are calibrated to Iran’s oil and would not be able to adjust easily and cheaply to imports from Saudi Arabia. Almost half of Turkey’s oil comes from Iran.

Turkish-US relations are at a low. Conflict over the detention of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, has led to the US sanctioning two Turkish cabinet ministers, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu. Gul is a leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), while Soylu came to the party at the personal invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. These are not men to be intimidated by US pressure.

A US mission led by Marshall Billingslea, assistant secretary of the US Treasury, went to Turkey to persuade the government to join the US sanctions. Meanwhile, the US has begun to put pressure on Turkey’s Halkbank, one of whose senior officials was found guilty of violation of the US sanctions on Iran by a court in the United States this year. This kind of pressure is not sitting well with the Turkish government.

Inside Iran

Pressure is mounting inside Iran. Protests have begun across the country, a reflection of the distress felt by the population as the country’s currency, the rial, slides and as fears of inflation mount.

Last week, the Iranian government fired the head of the central bank, Valiollah Seif, and replaced him with Abdolnasser Hemati. It reversed the foreign-exchange rules, including the failed attempt to fix the value of the rial that was put in place in April.

Hemati had been the head of Iran’s state insurance firm and before that of Sina Bank and Bank Melli. He is highly trusted by the government, which had already appointed him as ambassador to China before hastily rescinding that offer and moving him to the central bank. Whether Hemati will be able to balance the stress inside the Iranian economy is yet to be seen. Faith in the currency will need to be strengthened.

As part of that, Iran’s government has cracked down harshly against financial fraud, particularly scandals over foreign exchange. The man who signed the 2015 nuclear deal, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, had to watch as his nephew Ahmad Araghchi, the central bank’s vice-governor in charge of foreign exchange, was arrested along with five other people as part of an inquiry over fraud. The message: No one, not even the Araghchi family, is immune from the long arm of the law.

Trump’s belligerence, the refusal of key countries to abide by Trump’s sanctions (including the European Union, but mainly Russia and China), as well as the internal pressure in Iran could very likely create the conditions for a military clash in the waters around Iran. This is a very dangerous situation. Sober minds need to push against the reinstatement of these sanctions – which the Iranians see as economic warfare – as well as escalation into military war.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Social Media Users in Scotland Planning on Boycotting BBC

Sputnik – August 9, 2018

Following the removal of the prominent Scottish independence blogger, Wings Over Scotland, social media users in Scotland are preparing for an outright boycott of the BBC. Earlier Sputnik spoke to the political analyst, Joe McGregor about this story.

Sputnik: So Joe can you explain a little bit about why people are planning on boycotting the BBC? Why are such a large proportion of Scots so disenfranchised with the BBC?

Joe McGregor: I’m deeply disenfranchised with that because it seems like Scotland don’t have a voice on the channel whatsoever – it’s very Westminster-centric, very England-centric. I don’t mean that as coming from the point of view that as a Scotsman I should be opposed… not at all. It seems to be that the BBC likes to show only the worst side of Scotland, or not give the SNP (Scottish National Party) a voice, when they are national broadcaster.

Sputnik: Does this have effect on Scottish political issues such as campaigns for Scottish independence and if so what kind of effect?

Joe McGregor: Eventually you become used to it. Say for the youth of Scotland that are coming through and they’re only having that information they would be guided to believing that information thinking that having nuclear weapons and having the nuclear base is a great thing. Scotland should be proud of having that there but they don’t show other side things, with nuclear apparatus being driven through city centers like Glasgow. If there was to be a problem there, it would wipe out most of central Scotland. Why does Scotland have to house that when Scotland doesn’t want to house that and why does the BBC not show that, that Scotland isn’t with that? They only tend to say ‘If it wasn’t there, then so many people would be out of work’ and that the local businesses wouldn’t have the customs of the people who work there – which I find ridiculous.

Sputnik: Is this boycott anti-English and what would you say to critics who suggest that it is?

Joe McGregor: It’s not anti-English, its anti-BBC. If the BBC was to give Scotland a fair crack of the whip and report the SNP are doing great things in Scotland and report on the fact that people aren’t happy having nuclear weapons on their doorstep, I think you would find that people don’t think its anti-English, its simply anti-BBC.

Sputnik: What would you like to see from the BBC that would improve the image of the broadcaster in your eyes?

Joe McGregor: I would just like to see every nation in the UK getting a fair crack of the whip. It’s not just Scottish issues; there’s Welsh issues, Northern Ireland issues… it’s not just Westminster-centric issues, it’s not like Westminster is big brother and its do what you say and everything will be ok and you know what, keep drinking beer because that will nullify any of the effects that may occur.

See also:

BBC Was in Bed With the Government to Flush Out ‘Subversives’ – Archives

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment