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Iran, Iraq Can Ramp up Trade to $20bn: Rouhani

Al-Manar | November 17, 2018

Iranian President Rouhani said Saturday that the current economic transactions between Iran and Iraq stands at about $12 billion, which can be boosted to $20 billion with further cooperation.

President Rouhani made the remarks in a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih on Saturday in Tehran, which was held after their bilateral meeting earlier that day.

The Iranian president maintained that the two sides held talks on electricity and gas swap, as well as cooperation on petroleum products and oilfield exploration and extraction.

The Shalamcheh-Basra railway is ready to come on stream, and the Iranian side is ready to carry out its side of the project together with the help of measures taken by Iraq’s Ministry of Finance, said Rouhani, adding that the 35km-railway will facilitate transport for the people of both countries.

Rouhani said the two sides also talked about environmental issues, noting the dust storms in western and eastern borders that need joint cooperation to be resolved. He added that Iraqi President Barham Salih has vowed to follow up on those environmental issues.

We reached an agreement to establish a free trade zone between the two countries, Rouhani added.

He further maintained that the two sides conferred on regional issues, saying the two believed that stability and security in the region will benefit all people, and there is no need for foreign interference in regional affairs.

The Iraqi president, for his part, highlighted that Iraq would never forget Iran’s support in defeating terrorism in the country.

After the military defeat of ISIL, Iraq has ahead of itself the two important objectives of ‘reconstruction’ and ‘strengthening of political stability’, he added.

President Salih maintained that the realization of these two goals requires political and economic measures and reforms, as well as stable conditions in the region.

It is time for the formation of a new regional order which can be in the interest of all regional states, President Salih stressed, adding that Iraq attaches high significance to Iran’s role and place in this new regional order.

He further voiced hope that the implementation of joint projects such as railway connections between Iran and Iraq could provide the necessary condition for Iraq to play a more active role in the region, and allow other countries in the region to form relations based on mutual interests.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Bonus Army: US military attacks demonstrating American War Veterans

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 11 Comments

Israeli Government Targets Educational Institutions, Escalate Settlements Activities

Israeli settler violence – with IDF complicity – is becoming more and more commonplace, even targeting elementary schools. The government has also approved extensive Israeli settlement expansions and Jewish-only roads to be built on Palestinian land, which will result in isolation of Palestinian communities and loss of olive trees.

In addition, Jerusalem has seen an increase in extremist Jewish visits to the Al-Aqsa mosque.

By Madeeha Araj, The National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements
Translation by If Americans Knew | November 14, 2018

School attacks and demolitions

In a clear violation of all laws and human rights principles, including the right to education and access to educational institutions, many Palestinian schools in the countryside and Bedouin communities were attacked by Israeli soldiers and settlers.

The Oref and Luban Sharqeia schools south of Nablus were attacked. 7 students were injured during the attack.

There were also shooting attacks by settlers and the Israeli occupation forces in the yard of Al-Tahadi 5 Elementary School in the village of Beit Ta’mir, east of Bethlehem, and the Tahadi 10 School in the Ibzik area in the occupied Northern Valleys. A number of caravans used as classrooms were destroyed.

The Israeli occupation forces handed down notices to demolish the Dabba Elementary school in Mafasser Yatta, south of Hebron, and to expel its teachers and students. They also hindered access to a school on Ramallah’s main Nablus Street.

Within the context, the racist “Rajavim Institution” filed a case in an Israeli court to demolish the Tahadi school in the area of ​​Beit Ta’mir, east of Bethlehem, which has been subjected to demolition since it was demolished on the first day of the scholastic year of 2016-2017. This racist institution is responsible for monitoring Palestinian homes in Area C, and it is always directing the Israeli Civil Administration to demolish houses and stop construction there.

Settlement expansions

At the same time, the Israeli occupation government escalated the open war against the Palestinian people. The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved the construction of 640 new settlement units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement on Palestinian land in Shufat. It is located between Ramat Shlomo and Beit Hanina in Jerusalem.

Some of these lands were expropriated from the Palestinians under the pretext of using them as public areas.

The construction of those new settlement units will lead to the encirclement of the Palestinian neighborhoods adjacent to the settlement and their isolation from any natural demographic expansion or growth.

The administrative committee of the settlement of Ramat Shlomo said that the decision to establish 1,500 settlement units includes two entrances to the south and east of the settlement, in addition to expanding the northern road with St. 443, and the tendering of 640 settlement units,

The so-called Appeals Committee of the Israeli Planning Council in Jerusalem rejected projects submitted by Palestinian Human Rights organizations aimed at stopping excavations and digging tunnels in Silwan, while approving settlement projects that penetrate Palestinian neighborhoods.

During a closed discussion and without prior announcement, the committee responded to the Silwan “alternative project” As an alternative structural plan for the municipality of the occupation after an objection by the Alad settlement association. Alad oversees the so-called King’s Garden, and rejected the request to reveal the level of excavations under the town of Silwan – Wadi Hilweh and Al-Ain area, and considered that as out of its jurisdiction.

The committee also approved the linking of the settlement of Ramat Shlomo with bypass road 443 Modi’in – Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, on Route 21, which runs through the village of Shu’fat and isolates it from the thousands of dunums between St. 21 and 443 on the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv road.

Land seizure

In the Ramallah Governorate, the Israeli occupation forces seized 155 dunums of land in the western village of Laban to expand the settlement of Beit Aryeh, and open settlement roads to connect the settlements northwest of Ramallah into the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank Occupied West Bank.

There was also a decision to seize 2 dunum from Khallet al-Shamiya, 141 dunums from the village of Al Asfoura and 12 dunums from Masodiya area, with the aim of constructing the aforementioned bypass road to the settlement of Beit Aryeh.

In the Jordan Valley, the Israeli occupation forces seized 356 dunums of land near the village of Makhoul in the northern Jordan Valley, where one of the shepherds found the notification when he had his livestock in the area. Hr poinyrf out that the occupation placed the notification days ago at an electric columns feeding the army camps. The lands are located in four numbered basins 223, 224, 221 and 226.

The Israeli occupation forces have also put a number of notices at the olive farms that stated the uprooting trees within 45 days.

The lands belong to citizens Izat Ahmed Rashaida – 40 trees, Amer Hamil – 45 trees, Hassan Mahmoud Humil – 25 trees, Omar and Mah’d Saleh Sawafta – 150 trees. The trees are between 2-20 years old.

Settlers and Knesset members in Al-Aqsa mosque

Part of the occupation policy is aimed at providing personal security to the religious settler groups, who have been recently roaming the Old City, especially the roads leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Moreover, the Israeli authorities have begun to expand the monitoring network around Al-Aqsa Mosque and the surrounding areas.

The agreement includes the planting of more than 500 smart monitoring cameras in a project called the “Kikra 2000.” Meanwhile the Israeli police allowed a number of Knesset members to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Police in Jerusalem, Major General Yoram Halevy, have quoted as saying: “If the situation continues the same in Al-Aqsa, restrictions on visits by members of the Knesset will be removed”.

In an attempt to legitimize the daily incursions of settlers by the Israeli government’s into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, PM Netanyahu allows Israeli right-wing members to break into the Aqsa once a month instead of one per 3 months. Thus Netanyahu allowed MK Shuli Maallem Raafaili of the far-right Jewish party to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which the Israeli-Yemeni parties call it the Temple Mount.

This decision reflects the adoption of the recommendation of the Jerusalem District Commander, Yoram Halevy, to allow Knesset members to visit the area without any restrictions. For his part, Shuli Maalem, a member of the Israeli Knesset led a provocative incursion into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and toured it. It is said that a similar storm led by the extremist rabbi, MK, Yehuda Glick of the blessed mosque and carried out tours throughout the mosque.

The National Bureau said that “the continued violation of the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque requires the intervention of the international community to pressure the occupation authorities to stop such acts and to abide by the provisions of international humanitarian law.”

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Cost of American Militarism and an Absence of Debate

By Adeyinka Makinde | November 16, 2018

A recent report by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs on the cost of America’s wars in the aftermath of 9/11 estimates a sum totalling $5.9 Trillion. It is a figure virtually identical to the $6 Trillion figure projected by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2013 to be the eventual cost of waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, as with the case of the increased danger of a nuclear war that could be the fruit of strained relations developed over the past decade with the Russian Federation, there has been no public debate in the United States about why America embarked on a programme of militarism predicated on the waging of a so-called War on Terror.

Such debate would necessarily have to centre on the three following areas:

  1. The “hijacking” (to use the term chosen by retired US Four Star General Wesley Clark) of American foreign policy in the aftermath of the September attacks by a group of neoconservatives operating within the administration of President George W. Bush who drew up a ‘hit-list’ of seven countries intended to be destroyed over a five year period.

It would have been expected that all such countries earmarked for destruction would have had a connection to the planning of the September attacks, or, at least, have been sympathetic to the values guiding the alleged perpetrators of the deadliest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor in 1941. Yet Iraq, Libya and Syria were all secular Arab states implacably opposed to the Sunni Islamist ideology of al-Qaeda, and Iran is a Shia nation. The common denominator among these states including Lebanon, or more accurately, Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shia militia, was an enmity with the State of Israel.

As Clark stated during a speech given in October 2007 at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, there was never a public debate on a policy which commenced with the invasion of Iraq and was intended to be completed with an attack on Iran.

  1. The unchanging policy from the administrations led by Bush Jr to Barack Obama and now Donald Trump due to ‘Deep State’ actors wielding power outside of the separated organs of government. In a scholarly paper-turned-book entitled National Security and Double Government, Michael J. Glennon, a professor of international law at Tufts University, has referred to the power usurping “Trumanite” institutions in contrast to the troika of “Madisonian” institutions of state, which he persuasively argues are no longer accountable in the way people think they are.
  1. The corporate welfare culture surrounding the military industry as composed of the Pentagon and corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and others. The exorbitant costs involved with the development of the F-35 fighter plane which according to a number of US generals is pretty much “useless”, is emblematic of the inefficient weapons development regime that is more concerned with lining the pockets of corporations than with efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The aforementioned, of course, do not mention the human cost: that of innocent civilian lives destroyed by military invasions, drone attacks and covert wars initiated by the United States. It also does not include the number of US service personnel killed, maimed and suffering from mental traumas.

All need to be factored into a comprehensive debate on why America’s sovereign debt has spiralled to uncontrollable levels, and also, why the moral standing of the United States among the international community of nations has been brought down to an all-time low.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

US Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11 Wars: $5.9 Trillion Spent and Obligated

Through FY2019

By Prof. Neta C. Crawford | Watson Institute, Brown University | November 14, 2018

The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post-9/11 war veterans (see Table 1).

This number differs substantially from the Pentagon’s estimates of the costs of the post-9/11 wars because it includes not only war appropriations made to the Department of Defense – spending in the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in other places the government designates as sites of “overseas contingency operations,” – but also includes spending across the federal government that is a consequence of these wars. Specifically, this is war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.

If the US continues on its current path, war spending will continue to grow. The Pentagon currently projects $80 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending through FY2023. Even if the wars are ended by 2023, the US would still be on track to spend an additional $808 billion (see Table 2) to total at least $6.7 trillion, not including future interest costs. Moreover, the costs of war will likely be greater than this because, unless the US immediately ends its deployments, the number of veterans associated with the post-9/11 wars will also grow. Veterans benefits and disability spending, and the cost of interest on borrowing to pay for the wars, will comprise an increasingly large share of the costs of the US post-9/11 wars.

Table 1, below, summarizes the direct war costs – the OCO budget – and war-related costs through FY2019. These include war-related increases in overall military spending, care for veterans, Homeland Security spending, and interest payments on borrowing for the wars. Including the other areas of war-related spending, the estimate for total US war-related spending allocated through FY2019 is $4.9 trillion.[3] But because the US is contractually and morally obligated to pay for the care of the post-9/11 veterans through their lifetimes, it is prudent to include the costs of care for existing post-9/11 veterans through the next several decades. This means that the US has spent or is obligated to spend $5.9 trillion in current dollars through FY2019.[4] Table 1 represents this bottom-line breakdown for spent and obligated costs.

Table 1. Summary of War Related Spending, in Billions of Current Dollars, Rounded to the Nearest Billion, FY2001- FY2019[5]

Figure 1. US Costs of War: $5.9 Trillions of Current Dollars Spent and Obligated, through FY2019[10]

Further, the US military has no plans to end the post-9/11 wars in this fiscal year or the next. Rather, as the inclusion of future years spending estimates in the Pentagon’s budget indicates, the DOD anticipates military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria necessitating funding through at least FY2023. Thus, including anticipated OCO and other war-related spending, and the fact that the post-9/11 veterans will require care for the next several decades, I estimate that through FY2023, the US will spend and take on obligations to spend more than $6.7 trillion.

To read the full PDF report by Professor Neta C. Crawford, click here.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

We Don’t Need EU Army, We Need a ‘European Home’ With Russia: Die Linke

Sputnik – November 17, 2018

Following years of floating within the bloc, the idea of Europe creating joint military forces is on the agenda after the French President and German Chancellor called on their EU allies to unite. While the EU leadership backed the initiative, it got a mixed response among European politicians.

Deputy Chair of left-wing Die Linke’s parliamentary group Heike Haensel has lambasted the idea of creating a European army, which was backed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In her article for the German outlet Der Tagesspiegel, the left-wing politician insists that European policy needs a radical new beginning.

“People in Germany and Europe do not need armoured roads, weapons and armies, but crisis-proof jobs, stable social systems and decent pensions. Instead of a “European army” we need a common “European home” with Russia. That would be a true vision of a peaceful union,” she wrote.

She stated that the EU and its members have more acute challenges to spend the taxpayers’ money resolving, which “will have catastrophic consequences, not only for Europeans.” The politician pointed at problems within the Union and its member states, including growing employment and utter futility, child poverty, housing shortages and welfare problems, which are successfully exploited. She lambasted the EU leadership for focusing on more deregulation, welfare cuts and militarization instead of solving these issues.

According to her, the militarization is prompting the EU states to increase their military spending. In addition to the NATO-prescribed target of 2 percent of GDP for military budgets, up to 5.5 billion euros of taxpayers’ money is to be spent annually by the “European Defence Fund” for arms technology.

“As if this was not enough, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel and German coalition politicians are pushing the creation of an EU army. According to Macron, the project is to withstand Russia, China and the United States. But it must be clear that military Eurochauvinism is not an alternative, or a reforming force in the existing world order. On the contrary, the upgrade of a “military-centred EU” around France and Germany wastes resources and increases the danger of conflict,” Haensel says.

She insists that billions of euros have flown into a senseless and dangerous arms race, and should be spent on social and ecological investments as well as fighting the causes of mass migration.

In early November, French President Emmanuel Macron called for creating a European army that would be independent of the US. The German Chancellor has backed his proposal, stressing recently that “Europe must take its fate in its own hands.” She also proposed the establishment of a “European security council” in order to coordinate the process. According to her, it could be a “good supplement to NATO.” Supported by the European Commission, the idea was branded “insulting” by Donald Trump.

However, the idea of a single EU army has been floated for at least several years. Since 2013, Berlin has overseen efforts towards closer EU defence integration through the Framework Nations Concept, which envisages that Germany should share its troops and capabilities with other European countries.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Iran Ready to Mount Coordinated Anti-Terrorism Operation on Pakistani Soil

Al-Manar | November 17, 2018

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli highlighted the insecurity of borders between the Islamic Republic and Pakistan, and voiced Tehran’s readiness to carry out counterterrorism operations on Pakistani soil.

Rahmani Fazli remarks were during a press conference on Saturday, as part of efforts to free 14 abducted borders guards by Takfiri terrorists.

The Iranian minister said following the efforts by various security and diplomatic organizations, the Foreign Ministry in particular, the terrorists handed over five of the 14 Iranian border guards to the Pakistani side.

“We are pursuing (the issue) so that all of the beloved ones taken hostage by the criminals, would return to us,” he said.

Iran expects that the Pakistani government to boost security cooperation along the common borders, the minister stressed.

If Pakistan cannot act against the terrorists for any reason, Iran is ready to carry out operations on Pakistani soil, where the terrorists are present, with Islamabad’s permission, Rahmani Fazli added.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in the northern city of Qazvin on Thursday, IRGC Commander Major General Jafari also said the abducted border guards will be freed but it will take time.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Commander of the IRGC Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour recently traveled to Pakistan as part of efforts to secure their release.

Pakistani-based terrorists kidnapped 14 Iranian forces at a border post in Mirjaveh region in Sistan and Balouchestan province on October 15.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Brexit Means Fudge

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | November 16, 2018

I’m thinking of starting a new line of sweets called Brexit Fudge. It will of course be inedible and no-one in their right mind will buy it, but I’m convinced that there may be a market for it in Westminster and at the BBC. If only I can get the marketing right.

My interest in Brexit waned fairly soon after 23rd June 2016, partly on account of becoming tired listening to the Downing Street Parrot hoodwinking people into thinking she actually believed in removing the UK from the EU, by the repeated squawking of the phrase “Brexit means Brexit”. But even more so was I numbed to the whole thing, since I was quite convinced from the morning of 24th June that the powers that be had no intention of actually honouring the votes of the 17 million+ plebeians who dared to vote in a way that they apparently ought not to have done.

As I wrote back here on 29th June 2016:

“I don’t usually like to indulge in prophetic utterances, and I’m not sure I would describe this as such an attempt – more an informed hunch – but I believe that the 17,410,742 people who just expressed their opinion in a democratic vote to leave the European Union are about to find themselves involved in what can only be described as the mother of all stitch ups. Brexit just isn’t going to happen!!!”

And this:

“Curiously, Brexit doesn’t seem to have brought forth the same gushing praise from these people for the wonders of people exercising their democratic rights. Instead, the talk is about “walking back” the result. Should this happen, and the democratic result be overturned by technique, obfuscation, delaying tactics, propaganda and sheer manipulation, then this time we will have ourselves another coup. Only this time it will be a coup on behalf of the regime against the people. I hate to say it, but be prepared for the mother of all stitch ups. Better trust in God and keep your powder dry.”

And so it is. After two years of “Brexit means Brexit”, we find out that “Brexit means Fudge”. But actually it’s much worse than that. I mean, fudge is normally very good and who could possibly be against it? But the draft Withdrawal Agreement? Who could possibly be in favour of it, except the woman who is determined to hang onto power by her fingernails, Mrs Theresa May (or John Major in a power-suit as I like to think of her), and some sad individuals who are more worried about their place in Parliament than the future of their country.

For those who are interested, there is a good summary here of the major problems with the deal, including:

  • Being locked into the European Court of Human Rights
  • Being bound to a Customs Union, the rules of which would be set by the EU, but over which we would have no say
  • Being left without control of our fisheries, and only able to comment on (but not affect change) of the management of the Common Fisheries Policy.

But the biggie is this:

Article 132: Notwithstanding Article 126, the Joint Committee may, before 1 July 2020, adopt a single decision extending the transition period up to [31 December 20XX].”

As Lee Rotherham writes:

“It’s what you might call the Odysseus Clause. It’s Article 132 – where the drafters can barely commit to finally fully leaving the EU this century

The drafters have not even bothered to put in 202X to make a point that they expect transition to take a decade or so at most. So all the problems with the transitional deal, accepted because they are seen as transitional, could quite plausibly turn out to be permanent — or at least, long lasting enough to cause serious damage to our economy, to our democracy, and to our national credibility.”

This is clearly not what 17,410,742 people thought they were voting for on 23rd June 2016. But just as crucially, it’s not even what the 16,141,241 who voted Remain thought they were voting against. The former voted to become an independent, sovereign state once again. The later voted to remain part of the European Union. Mrs John Major’s Withdrawal Agreement formally takes us out of the EU, but essentially leaves us in, only without any say, without any end in sight, and unable to decide when that end should be. If it’s Fudge, it’s Impotent Fudge.

The situation is pretty much what Peter Hitchens predicted back here:

“It seems to me that when you have a country where the political establishment, the legal profession and most of the media, particularly the BBC, is in favour of staying, it’d be very difficult to actually leave. That’s what’s now happening. The Leave vote is being frustrated. We will formally leave the EU but we go from being half-in the EU, which we are now, to half-out the EU.”

The problem, as he correctly identified it, was always that we had a political decision taken by the majority of people, but no political party to implement that decision, not to mention an entire establishment that, by and large, was and is and will continue to be against that decision. The spectacle of a pro-Remain Prime Minister charged with implementing a decision which she didn’t support, is one of the wonders of our time, and is a bit like a builder being asked to build a house that he hates and doesn’t actually want to build.

What happens next? Very difficult to say. But I imagine there will be a General Election fairly soon. But the question is, what would you actually be voting for? You’d have two parties who actively loathe the idea of actually carrying out the result of the referendum, and another party the majority of whose MPs also loathe the idea, but who would be asking you to vote for them as they are “the only ones who can be trusted to fulfil the result of the referendum.” Except that they’ve just proven that they can’t be trusted.

It’s an almighty mess and there’s a huge constitutional crisis brewing. I assume that if Mrs May fails to get this agreement passed, at some point the establishment will simply say we need a second referendum (which in itself will teach us all we need to know about the laughable claims that we are a democracy). But what would the question be? Could you even have the same binary question as in 2016? It would be a bit of a joke, wouldn’t it?

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”

Sorry, we answered that back in 2016, didn’t we, but then there was no-one amongst the elite willing or competent enough to honour it. So my answer remains the same, which was no, but do I believe that any of the current political establishment actually has the desire, the ability and the savvy to achieve this? Nay, nay and thrice nay. Needless to say, it doesn’t bode well for the future of the country when so many people find themselves entirely unrepresented.

Perhaps we do need another referendum, but with an entirely different question:

“Do you believe the current political establishment has proven that it is unfit for purpose and needs replacing?”

Both Leavers and Remainers ought to be able to agree on that.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Economics | , | Leave a comment