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Trial by Propaganda

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | November 23, 2018

I mentioned in a couple of comments yesterday that I don’t own a television. In fact, I haven’t had one since 2001. To begin with it’s hard, but if you stick with it you very soon come to see it as remarkably odd that you’ve spent a significant amount of your time sitting in front of a box, wondering if there’s anything on, and still watching it even if there isn’t, and letting other people drip their agenda and propaganda into your head night after night, through perhaps the most powerful medium ever created.

The downside is of course that there are sometimes things that are worth watching. I’m not that into football, but I quite fancied watching some World Cup games with my children this summer. But not having a TV or a licence I had to resort to watching the games broadcast on some dodgy website direct from Kazakhstan. So there is that.

But by and large the plusses far outweigh the minuses, one of which is the fact that I don’t have to hand over a penny of cash to an institution I have come to loathe — the BBC. But perhaps the biggest plus is that when I do get to watch a programme — especially a documentary on some political or social issue —  I find that I’m better able to spot propaganda than I ever would have done had I been immersed in TV culture on a regular basis.

And so it was with the BBC’s Panorama programme. I’ve only managed to watch the first 20 minutes so far, and so I’m only able to comment on that (my thanks to David S for uploading it to YouTube). But what I’ve seen so far is one of the best — or worst depending on how you look at these things — examples of political propaganda I’ve seen in a long time.

There was of course lots of creepy music. There were of course no dissident voices. There were of course no difficult questions put to those in charge of an operation which has seen the narrative changing on a regular basis, and not making any more sense despite the changes.

Why, if the boot had been on the other foot, so to speak, and this sort of thing had been put out by Russian state television, I would find it hard to know whether to laugh or cry at it. But the one thing I would be certain of is that it was clear evidence that that country was slipping back into the dark days of Soviet propaganda, only using modern technology to make it all feel a lot more cool and spangly.

Let me say firstly that the worst thing by a country mile in the section I’ve watched so far came right at the very beginning, where the presenter, Jane Corbin, made the following statement:

“Now, moving images, never seen before of the Russian assassins just after the attack [my emphasis].”

I don’t know whether Mrs Corbin has any idea of what she just did, or whether she even cares, but in one foul swoop she completely undermined the concepts of due process, and innocent until proven guilty, and she also made it impossible for the two suspects to ever receive a fair trial, were it ever to come to that.

This is really bad. No, it’s worse than that: it’s really, really, stonkingly terribly bad. On the same day as the Panorama programme, The Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of the men from 4th March, and the header at the top of their statement says, “Counter Terrorism Police continue appeal over Salisbury suspects [my emphasis].” In the statement itself they refer to the two men, Petrov and Boshirov, no less than five times using the word “suspects”. Yet the national broadcaster has just informed the populace that they are not suspects in an investigation, but assassins. Case closed by the Bellingcat Broadcasting Corporation?

It was basically this issue that got my goat about this case in the first place. The fact that the British Government came out and made pronouncements about what had happened, before an investigation had really properly started, literally tore up hundreds of years of English common law and indicated to me that we really are heading towards arbitrary, tyrannical Government. The fact that the BBC has now come out and pronounced authoritatively on a case that is still ongoing, where no facts whatsoever have been proven in open court, only serves to reinforce this view.

It seems that we need reminding of the following: it really doesn’t matter two hoots what our views are of what happened on 4th March in Salisbury, or whether we think that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were responsible, the principles of due process and the presumption of innocence, which were enshrined by people immensely wiser than our current foolish generation of leaders, still apply. They must apply, else we are done for. But the Government doesn’t seem to care about that. And the BBC doesn’t seem to care about it either. Do you?

As for the actual details of the programme, just two observations, and then maybe some more in another piece once I’ve had time to look at the rest of it.

Firstly, it seems to me that the programme contained an astonishingly glaring contrast between what we are supposed to believe about the substance apparently used, and what actually happened. Here are some quotes the programme put out about the substance itself:

“It’s very unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations.” – Porton Down Professor Tim speaking about Novichok.

“The Russians called it Novichok. Thought to be 10X more toxic than any nerve agent created before or since.” – Jane Corbin.

“To kill a person, you need only 1mg. To be sure, 2mg.” – Vil Mirzyanov, who worked on the Foliant project.

“The person starts to go blind, that’s the first sign. The second is difficulty breathing, even to the point that they stop breathing. The third sign is constant vomiting. The fourth, uncontrollable convulsions.” – Vil Mirzyanov, on the effects of “Novichok”.

“The Russians weaponised Novichok for the battlefield. The tiniest dose can be fatal.”– Jane Corbin.

It’s like they had to keep reminding us of just how deadly the substance is. But if it is unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations, if it is 10X more toxic than the next deadliest nerve agent, and if the tiniest dose can be fatal why — a reasonably person might ask — are the Skripals and Nick Bailey still alive? Why is the BBC reinforcing to us just how deadly a substance it is, then in the next breath telling us all about the 65-year-old diabetic who survived, even though he must have got much more than a tiny dose, since he apparently left trails of it all over the City (though interestingly, not at the duck feed, the car park meter, or the door handles at Zizzis and The Mill). And I’m afraid that the explanation of “excellent medical care will not do.” By their own admission, the hospital staff did not know how to treat it for a long while after the poisoning. And so either “Novichok” is not as deadly as they kept making out on the programme. Or “Novichok” was not used. Simple as that. But you can’t have it both ways. If you can square that particular circle, good luck. There’s a highly paid job out there for you somewhere.

The other huge anomaly was of course the movements of Nick Bailey. The account that he and a colleague went to 47 Christie Miller Road at about midnight raises some huge questions, not least because it flatly contradicts numerous previous reports. Very briefly, here are some questions that arise from what was said:

1. Many of the first reports said he was a first responder to the Skripals, but from his account on the BBC programme, I got the impression that he arrived at the bench after the Skripals had already been taken to hospital. Why then was he named as the hero cop who went to help the Skripals if he did not do this?

2. He states at one point that, “There was nothing lying near the bench”. This is a bit strange as Freya Church mentioned that both Mr Skripal and Yulia had bags with them next to the bench when she saw them. What had happened to these bags before Mr Bailey got there, and was the person who removed them also taken to Salisbury District Hospital (SDH) for tests?

3. He says that he and a colleague went to the house wearing “full protective suits.” How, then, could he have become contaminated at the house?

4. According to the report, Mr Bailey and his colleague went to 47 Christie Miller Road at around midnight on 4th March. Since their visit must have been known by his seniors, why did it take until 9th March before any news of his visit to the house was made public (by a man not even part of the investigation – former Met Commissioner, Lord Ian Blair)?

5. Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu claimed that Mr Bailey had worn a body camera when he went to the house. Why did the BBC not show this footage, but instead did their own reconstruction?

6. In his book, the BBC’s Mark Urban stated that Mr Bailey couldn’t get in the front door, and so went around the back. The programme directly contradicted this. Which one is correct?

7. Mr Bailey states that:

“Once I’d come back from the house, the Skripals house, my eyes were like … my pupils were like pinpricks, and I was quite sweaty and hot. At the time I put that down to being tired and stressed.”

But according to the programme, it was not until the Tuesday, well over 24 hours later, that he was apparently driven to SDH. How on earth could it have taken that time for him or his superiors to put two and two together, since the whole point in him doing the search and wearing the forensic suit was because it was known by that time that an unknown chemical had been used?

8. The claim that Mr Bailey was first at the house, and that this was at midnight flatly contradicts the testimony of a number of Mr Skripal’s neighbours. For instance, the Salisbury Journal reported the following on 5th March:

“Police arrived at Skripal’s home in Christie Miller Road, Salisbury, yesterday at 5pm, according to neighbours.”

And The Mirror said this:

“Neighbours say police have been at the ex-spy’s home since 5pm that day.”

If the lights are still on at either publication, perhaps the journalists who wrote those pieces might want to take it up with the BBC. And if the lights are still on in the country, perhaps we might want to reflect on whether it really is a very good idea to give up our precious legal safeguards, like due process, the presumption of innocence, and trial by jury, in favour of what we now appear to have, which is basically Trial by Propaganda.

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

The Final Push for Idlib Will Come Soon

By Federico PIERACCINI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 23.11.2018

The situation in Syria is that of a frozen conflict, following the agreements made between Russia, Turkey and Syria on the demilitarized zone created around Idlib. Except for some sporadic terrorist attacks, the truce seems to be holding up over the last few weeks, even though it has become clear to everyone what the next step is for the province.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been busy eradicating Daesh in the southern part of Syria in recent weeks, concentrating its efforts on securing all areas that have been liberated from terrorist control but which still remain vulnerable to sporadic attacks, as occurred in Sweida at the end of July 2018. In that incident, there were dozens of victims and numerous abductees who remained in the hands of Daesh for months. This caused the Syrian population in neighbouring areas to clamor for protection, forcing the SAA to undertake an anti-terrorist campaign that has been ongoing since August.

This effort by the SAA has slowed down in part due to subsequent events, with an agreement reached between Erdogan and Putin to create a demilitarized zone in the province of Idlib. From October 15, an area spanning 20 kilometres and guarded by Turkish and Russian troops guarantees a separation between the SAA and terrorist groups in the province.

Russian and Syrian efforts have been moving in two very specific directions over the last few weeks. While Moscow supplies Damascus with new equipment in preparation for the future advance on Idlib, Putin and his entourage continue diplomatic efforts to draw more of Syria’s enemies closer to the Russia-Iran-Syria axis. The meeting that brought about the demilitarized zone included Macron and Merkel, the Europeans having evidently come to terms with the impossibility of overthrowing the legitimate government of Syria. Macron and Merkel were offered a way out of the Syrian conflict, decoupling themselves from the belligerent stance of the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The intention is to usher Paris and Berlin towards the same direction Qatar, Turkey and Jordan have been progressively gravitating. Certainly, these are not countries to be considered friends of Damascus. Rather, they are parties with whom a constructive dialogue needs to be entered into in order to advance common diplomatic interests.

Moscow has often found it possible to reach an agreement or start unpublicized negotiations with each of these parties. Erdogan seems to have preferred an agreement with Putin rather than waiting for the liberation of Idlib by the SAA, thus being able to postpone the natural conclusion of the war that will find him sitting at the table defeated. At the same time, Erdogan wants to concentrate on the Kurds in order to secure the border between Syria and Turkey controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and to prevent any partition of Syrian territory that would favor other parties. Jordan has even reopened the border crossings with Syria, appearing to be the first country in opposition to Damascus that is now taking practical steps to mend fences.

The case of the participation of the two European countries at the summit with Erdogan and Putin is more complex. The rift between Washington and the other European capitals is wide and well documented, even more so after the events in Paris commemorating the end of the First World War. Macron and Trump seem to be diverging further in terms of policy and ideology, while Trump and Merkel have always had their differences. Trump’s choices in the Middle East, in the wake of the destructive actions of Israel and Saudi Arabia, marked a profound point of difference and mistrust with the European allies. Macron and Merkel have a huge problem dealing with refugees flowing from areas in North Africa and the Middle East destroyed by US-led wars. The prospect of working with Erdogan, and indirectly with Damascus, to bring back hundreds of thousands of refugees currently in France and especially Germany, seems to have been Putin’s winning argument during the talks in Istanbul.

This slow diplomatic approach has been accelerated as a result of Israel’s downing of a Russian electronic-surveillance aircraft. The need to avoid a direct conflict between Moscow and Tel Aviv allowed the Russian missile forces to deploy to Syria an advanced model of the S-300 in addition to the existing S-300/400 systems on the ground. The presence of these advanced systems, and Moscow’s threats to use them, together with American concerns over the possibility of an F-35 being shot down by Soviet systems dating from the 1970s, forced the Zionist entity to halt its attacks on Syria.

This situation has helped to create a frozen conflict in the country. Together with the agreement of Idlib, this gives the SAA plenty of time to rest, regroup, and receive supplies needed for future campaigns.

The current truce is a strategic pause that has all the appearance of what has happened in the past in the provinces of Homs and Aleppo. The need to free Idlib from terrorists goes hand in hand with the promise of Assad and the government of Damascus to liberate every inch of Syria from terrorists. The diplomatic efforts of Moscow serve to prepare the ground for what will happen in the coming months, with the SAA set to advance on Idlib. In this sense, the deployment of advanced systems in Syria serves as a deterrent against possible responses from countries like Israel and the United States, anxious to defend their jihadists, but continuing to have minimal influence on the ground.

Russia and Syria’s moves therefore seem to be in preparation for the battle for Idlib, to be the longest and most difficult yet. The liberation of the province is inevitable but requires all the necessary political, diplomatic and military preparation in order to ensure success and limit potential escalation. As is often the case, Moscow and her allies approach complex issues with simple and pragmatic solutions, even offering exit strategies to their (geo)political opponents, which contrasts with their demonstrated tendency to rush heedlessly towards war.

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel admits its submarine sank Lebanese refugee boat during 1982 war

Press TV – November 23, 2018

Israel has officially admitted that its military ordered a deadly attack on a Lebanese ship carrying refugees during the regime’s invasion of the country more than three decades ago.

An Israeli submarine fired missiles at the refugee ship in northern Lebanon in the summer of 1982, killing 25 refugees and foreign workers on board, the Israeli Channel 10 reported on Thursday, after the regime lifted a 36-year-old gag order on the incident.

The report said that the commercial ship, carrying dozens of Lebanese refugees to Cyprus, apparently tried to take advantage of a brief ceasefire and flee the area.

But an Israeli Navy Gal-type submarine, which was following the ship for about an hour after leaving Tripoli, said the report, had fired torpedoes at the boat and killed the refugees and foreign workers.

It alleged that the submarine’s captain, identified as Maj. A, had mistakenly ordered the attack because he was convinced that the ship was carrying Palestinian fighters.

Ten years later, Israel said it had launched an investigation into the incident. The probe, however, ruled that the captain had made a mistake, but that he was within his operational orders.
Israeli armored personnel carriers are seen near a mosque on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, on June 16, 1982.

The Palestinians and the Lebanese never realized that the boat was sunk by Israeli.

The Israeli regime has waged three wars on Lebanon — in 1982, 2000, and 2006. It has also carried out assassinations in the Lebanese territory.

The Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, which was founded in the 1980s following the Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon, has since helped the army defend Lebanon both in the face of foreign aggression, including in the 2000 and 2006 wars, and against terrorism.

Lebanon and Israel are technically at war due to the latter’s occupation of the country’s Shebaa Farms since 1967.

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Countering Washington’s Confrontation

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 23.11.2018

The United States continues to brandish its military power all round the globe and has recently been concentrating on confronting Russia and China. Its policy and deployments were explained by the US Air Force Secretary in September when she declared that Washington felt threatened because “Less than a week ago Russia began the largest exercise on Russian soil in four decades… with more than 300,000 troops and 1000 aircraft.

On the other side of the world, China’s first aircraft carrier was declared combat ready this year, and promptly sailed into the Pacific to conduct flight operations.”

The absurdity of that statement escaped fitting comment by the West’s mainstream media, which also considers it astonishing that Russia should carry out a military exercise in its own territory following the massive build-up by the US-NATO military alliance along its borders. As pointed out on November 15 by Russia’s Foreign Ministry, this expansion can be seen “along the entire stretch of land connecting the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Since October, vast operational resources have been concentrated in the Baltic Region and the north of Europe, due to a series of major international exercises. They are being deployed in addition to NATO regiments already present in the countries of the eastern flank. Those regions have never seen such a military presence since the end of the World War II”.

And it is growing.

Foreign Policy in Focus observes that “In all NATO countries in Eastern Europe, the US Air Force is investing multimillion-dollar sums in the expansion of its air bases, with more than $50 million pouring into a base in Hungary, more than $60 million allocated to the modernization of two air force bases in Romania, and two bases in Slovakia that will be upgraded with more than $100 million, besides various base upgrades in other countries in the region.”

In October President Putin said that “Russia doesn’t threaten anyone and has strictly adhered to its obligations in the sphere of international security and arms control,” but made it clear there would be decisive action if an attack takes place, and “the aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable, and he will be destroyed.” Russia has “precision hypersonic weapons” exemplified by the Kinzhal missile and a new system, the Avangard, that will enter service in the next few months.

His outlook and approach are echoed by China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, who reminded those attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea on November 17 that “History has shown that confrontation, whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war or a trade war, produces no winners.”

In early 2018 President Xi said plainly that China “will forge a powerful military that is ready to respond to the call, to fight and to win a war,” and in October, following Washington’s increasing military activity in and around the South China Sea, the President told his armed forces to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war”, which is as blunt a warning to Washington as might be expected in the circumstances, in which the US is deliberately provoking China by its widely-publicised support for Taiwan. This has gone so far as for the Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to announce that Beijing would never give up “one single piece” of its territory. He warned that “repeated challenges” to China’s stance on Taiwan would lead to military action.

What China and Russia are saying is plain, blunt and unambiguous : stay out of our territory; stop prodding our borders and cease your coat-trailing provocation.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is an unpleasant person, but on November 17 he put things in perspective in his region. When questioned about US Navy operations in the South China Sea he asked in turn “Why do you have to create frictions that will prompt a response from China?”

One of the more ridiculous observations by the US Air Force Secretary concerned the commissioning of China’s first aircraft carrier. In tones of hushed horror she revealed that it “was declared combat ready this year, and promptly sailed into the Pacific to conduct flight operations.”

What upsets the US military is the fact that China now has an aircraft carrier that can defend the country from beyond its shores, unlike America’s eleven enormous aircraft carriers which sail round the world’s oceans in order to impose Washington’s will. At the moment there are two carrier groups in the Philippines Sea, ready to move into the South China Sea to conduct more provocative operations.

The Air Force Secretary added to absurdity by declaring that “now all of Southeast Asia is within reach of China’s long-range bombers” — presumably considering it irrelevant that in October, in the latest of a series of provocative operations, two nuclear-capable USAF B-52 bombers from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, overflew the South China Sea. As reported in the Air Force Times “the flights were in support of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence, a mission focused on deterring regional challengers.”

Regional challengers? Just who is challenging whom with a “continuous bomber presence”?

Like Russia, China has had to develop advanced weapons to counter the menace patrolling and probing its borders, and these could be employed effectively in the event of US confrontation getting out of hand.

A CNN headline in October was “US Navy proposing major show of force to warn China” and it indicated that the “Pacific Fleet has drawn up a classified proposal to carry out a global show of force as a warning to China and to demonstrate the US is prepared to deter and counter their military actions . . . The plan suggests sailing ships and flying aircraft near China’s territorial waters in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in freedom of navigation operations to demonstrate the right of free passage in international waters. The proposal means US ships and aircraft would operate close to Chinese forces.”

If Washington is insane enough to go ahead with this deliberately confrontational fandango, there could be serious consequences. Chinese warships could manoeuvre to bar US Navy vessels from coming with 12 nautical miles of one of its islands in the South China Sea, and if there were attempts by the US to penetrate that barrier, there could well be a serious incident. Should this involve damage to a Chinese ship, Beijing would not stand idly by and would respond appropriately. Given its inventory of weapons, especially its advanced torpedoes, this could involve destruction of one of the US Navy’s carriers.

There are similar possibilities in the north. CNN noted that “Currently the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman is taking the unexpected step of operating in the North Sea — sending a signal to Russia that US military forces can extend their reach to that area.” But if US warships behave aggressively it can be expected that Russia will counter such behaviour most forcefully.

In October the Commander of US Naval Forces Europe, Admiral James Foggo, told the US Naval Institute that “it would be important to have a greater naval presence in Europe than the US has had in the last two or three decades, and that this year’s presence by the Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group and the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group were part of the effort to boost presence to reassure allies and to keep an eye on Russian activity. With the Truman Strike Group now back in the region — spending time in Iceland and the North Sea ahead of Trident Juncture [the November 2018 anti-Russia US-NATO exercise based on Norway] — ‘that sends a very strong message that the United States will operate anywhere, either unilaterally or in collaboration with our NATO partners and allies. And like I said, nobody in the world can come close to a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in terms of firepower, dwell and endurance,’ he said.”

Foggo’s diatribe ended with the juvenile but still dangerous pronouncement that “And those guys and gals out on that carrier and the Marines are doing a fantastic job. So we’re keeping the adversaries back on their heels. They don’t know where we’re going next and that’s a good thing. And we’re working more with allies and partners because we have that additional capability. Right now I have — I think, at last count — 495,000 tons of grey-hulled shipping operating in the theatre. And that’s great. I love it.”

This type of trigger-happy immature belligerence is official warning of US policy as regards Russia and China, and it is not surprising that both nations are countering Washington’s confrontation.

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 5 Comments

What you won’t hear from US govt: Iran is open to working with Saudi Arabia

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | November 22, 2018

Washington’s rhetoric regarding Iran paints the picture of an evil nation hellbent on destroying the world. In reality, it appears that Tehran would prefer dialogue with its rivals, which is unacceptable to the US.

Tuesday’s White House Statement from President Trump on “Standing with Saudi Arabia” was an outright condemnation of Iran and a total free pass for Saudi Arabia.

Iran is to blame for almost every issue in the Middle East, including the war in Yemen, according to the statement. The US-made and supplied bombs raining down on Yemeni school buses, with some 85,000 children dying in the process, is simply because of Iran. Not only is Iran responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen, Tehran has further helped “dictator Bashar Assad” in Syria kill “millions of his own citizens.” The official death toll of the Syrian war is under one million, and certainly the various jihadist groups, including Islamic State (IS), share responsibility for that figure.

“The Iranians” have also killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran not only shouts “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” but it is also considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

It is curious enough that firstly, in a statement about Saudi Arabia, the term “world’s leading sponsor of terror” is not gifted to the prime sponsors of Al-Qaeda and IS. Secondly, the fact that Trump himself put that term in inverted commas seems to suggest that even he doesn’t quite believe that one to be true.

Remember, Saudi Arabia is the country that Trump, before becoming president, once accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks. I wasn’t aware of this until reading the statement, but according to the White House, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. That’s right, Iran’s non-presence in Yemen must be removed in order for Saudi Arabia to cease blowing up children, hospitals, factories, food trucks, schools, agricultural land, strategic ports, and relinquish its complete stranglehold over the country.

If you were naive enough to take the White House statement at face value, you would surely think that Iran has much to answer for. Iran is, after all, public enemy number one and has been for some time. Conversely, Saudi Arabia has been a longstanding ally of the United States, a faithfully serving client state, and it should be protected at all costs especially if there is to be any hope at pushing back against Iran as it yells “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

But what if Iran was, despite all of its flaws, not interested in fighting a war with Saudi Arabia? What if we dug a little bit deeper and asked ourselves: is there another way of dealing with the “threat” that Iran poses?

In January this year, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote an article that was published in the Financial Times which laid out the country’s proposed framework for bringing stability to the Middle East. The article was widely ignored by the rest of the world, even though its implications were potentially life-saving.

“The objective of a strong region — as opposed to a quest for hegemony and the exclusion of other actors — is rooted in recognising the need to respect the interest of all stakeholders,” Zarif wrote. “Any domineering effort by one country is not only inappropriate but essentially impossible: those who insist on following that path create instability. The arms race in our region is an instance of this kind of destructive rivalry: siphoning vital resources into the coffers of arms manufacturers has contributed nothing to achieving peace and security. Militarism has only served to fuel disastrous adventurism.”

Zarif states that the usual modes of forming alliances have become “obsolete” and suggests that security networking to address issues is a much better practice. He proposes that instead of ignoring conflicts of interests, the countries in the region should accept their differences.

“The rules of this new order are straightforward: common standards, most significantly the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, such as sovereign equality of states; refraining from the threat or use of force; peaceful resolution of conflicts; respect for the territorial integrity of states; non-intervention in the domestic affairs of states; and respect for self-determination within states,” Zarif adds.

Zarif recommends opening up dialogue and blames a “dialogue deficit” for instability throughout the region. Such a dialogue, he argues, could help other nations understand that all parties have “similar concerns, fears, aspirations and hopes.” His eventual vision is that these countries will eventually adopt a “non-aggression pact.”

Now, Zarif did not explicitly state who he was talking about in this proposed path to peace and stability. But what if his intention was to work with Saudi Arabia, is this not something that should be talked about, particularly by the US commander-in-chief when releasing statements stoking the fire of an already volatile region while pitting two major regional players against each other?

In October last year, Zarif was quoted as saying that Tehran is willing and ready for rapprochement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, adding that he does not believe the two countries should have the type of relationship they have right now.

In December last year, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani further intimated that Tehran is willing to resume ties with Saudi Arabia if it halted its military campaign in Yemen and severed its ties with Israel.

“We don’t have any problem with the country that is our neighbor and unfortunately speaks a lot and speaks irrationally. Saudi Arabia, as our neighbor, should stop bombing Yemen from tomorrow, stop bowing to Israel, stand straight and rely on its nation,” Rouhani said.

In March this year, Zarif then took his ambiguous article one step further and openly said that Iran is willing to resolve its differences with Saudi Arabia’s as part of Tehran’s desire for stability in the region. As Zarif notes, this is not the first time Iran has reached out to the kingdom, yet the Saudis continue to reject Iran’s proposed dialogue.

In August of this year, Zarif further stated that Iran wants to restore relations with Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia had just allowed the entry of an Iranian diplomat to head Iran’s interests in the Kingdom, a rare move since diplomatic ties had been cut almost two years prior.

Just last month, Zarif again called for Saudi Arabia’s cooperation to push back against the “repeated insults” made by the US president at the time.

“This is the reward of the illusion that security could be achieved through external support,” Zarif said. “We extend our hands to our neighbours, saying: let’s build a strong region to stop this arrogant pride.”

I could be wrong, but in its totality, it does appear that Iran is proposing a framework where Middle Eastern countries settle their disputes between themselves without outside interference, whereby the US would be left out completely. Such a suggestion is in itself a form of hubris so unacceptable to Washington that the proposal itself makes the country ripe for a targeted regime change operation. Despite this, Iran has been quite open about its blueprint for a new outlook to the Middle East.

“We don’t need foreigners to guarantee the security of our region,” Iran’s president said earlier this year.

“When it comes to regional security arrangements, we are ready to talk to our neighbours and friends, without the presence of foreigners,” he added. “We are, have been and always will be good neighbours.” Yes – even Saudi Arabia.

In August, UN experts went even further and said that Iran might be willing to play a “constructive role” in ending the war in Yemen, something Iran has said it has been wanting to do for years by working with Saudi Arabia.

Conversely, the Saudis and their US counterparts are not so willing to take the Iranians up on their offer.The Saudis always want to “fight the Iranians to the last American,” according to former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates. The Saudis have even openly abandoned the Palestinian cause in an attempt to cosy up to Israel and create a US-backed alliance that can confront Iran in the region. The Saudi Crown Prince also compared Iran’s supreme leader to Adolf Hitler, a brazen statement for a man who executes journalists and unarmed children with complete impunity. The kingdom continues to openly work with Al-Qaeda linked groups to prolong the fighting in Yemen, all because its anti-Iran hysteria cannot falter from its position.

A détente between Riyadh and Tehran appears to be a far cry away from happening any time soon, but we cannot continue to pretend we haven’t noticed the opportunity that continues to present itself, particularly from the Iranian side. Whether an Iran-Saudi relationship is a positive step or a disastrous one is an important question to ask; but we should at least consider it as an option if it can avoid a potential and unnecessary war between two regional powers, as well as its potential to diffuse an already devastating war which continues to kill thousands of people completely needlessly.  

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

Kremlin Comments on Latest Footage Concerning Salisbury Poisoning

Sputnik – 23.11.2018

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has commented on the latest footage released by London Metropolitan Police on the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, saying that while the use of the nerve agent in Europe was cause for concern, British investigators have yet to share any information with the Russian side.

“From the very beginning, Russia offered to cooperate with the British side to clarify the circumstances of this incident, but we were rejected. We were not met with reciprocity, and we do not have any information about what happened in Salisbury. We do not have information about what kind of agent was used, how much of it there was, what its volume was; we do not have information about who was poisoned, what happened to them, where they disappeared to, etc.,” Peskov said, speaking to reporters on Friday.

Despite this lack of information or cooperation, the spokesman said it was very concerning to see the use of such agents in Europe. “The use of such strong chemical warfare agents in Europe is a very dangerous fact, and is a matter of great concern,” he noted.

Earlier Friday, the London Metropolitian Police released fresh CCTV footage showing the two Russian nationals it suspects of involvement in the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, showing them walking around the southern English town of Salisbury on March 4. The footage does not show the men at Skripal’s home, however, where police allege they sprayed a military-grade poison on the door handle.

Police also released images of what they said was a “specially made model of the counterfeit perfume bottle” in which they believe the toxic substance used to poison the Skripals was kept. Police said they are now investigating how the bottle got from Salisbury, where it was allegedly used to poison the Skripals, to Amesbury, when it was found by Charlie Rowley, one of the victims of the Amesbury poisoning incident which occurred in late June.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench at a Salisbury shopping center on March 4. London quickly concluded that they were poisoned by a Russian military-grade nerve agent, and accused Moscow of staging the attack, leading to a diplomatic row between the two countries which culminated in sanctions and the expulsions of dozens of diplomats. In September, UK investigators identified two Russian nationals named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, saying the names were possible aliases. Investigators accused the pair of working for Russian military intelligence and carrying out the poisoning attack. The men came forward for an interview with RT’s Margarita Simonyan on September 13, telling her that they were sport nutritionists who traveled to Salisbury as tourists, and that they had no ties to Russian military intelligence.

Russia has sent several dozen diplomatic notes to the UK calling for cooperation in the investigation of the case. London left these proposals unanswered, and accused the Russian side of refusing to cooperate.

November 23, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment