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Be Offensive and Be Damned: The Cases of Peter Ridd and Tim Anderson

By Binoy Kampmark | Dissident Voice | December 20, 2018

It has been an ordinary year for universities in Australia. While the National Tertiary Education Union pats itself on the back for supposedly advancing the rights and pay of academics, several face removal and castigation at the hands of university management. Consumerism and pay are the sort of quotidian matters that interest the NTEU. Less interesting is the realm of academic ideas and how they clash with the bureaucratic prisons that have been built into universities.

At James Cook University, Peter Ridd was sacked on “code of conduct” grounds applied with a delightful elasticity. He claimed that it was for holding views on climate change out of step with his colleagues, and attacking the credibility of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. (The pettiness of such institutions knows no bounds: Ridd’s knuckles were rapped, for instance, for satirising, trivialising or parodying the university.)

At the University of Sydney, Tim Anderson, a full time critic of Western interventions in the Middle East and acquitted for ordering the 1978 Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing, has been suspended pending what would seem to be imminent sacking. Causing “offense” was what mattered.

A cardinal rule applies in this case: Be suspicious of those who use good behaviour as a criterion of policing, notably in an environment where bad behaviour and dangerous ideas should hold sway over meek bumbling and submissiveness. Be wary of the demands to be vanilla and beige – behind them lies administrative venality and the dictates of compliance.

Such rubbery provisions as being “civil” or not causing offense shield the weak, spineless and fraudulent and, most dangerously, create the very same intolerable workplace that managers are supposedly opposed to. Very importantly, such code of conduct regulations are designed to immunise management from questions about their behaviour and often daft directives, letting institutions grow flabby with corruption.  Inoculated, that class thrives in its toxicity.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of JCU, Iain Gordon, has drawn upon the usual stock nonsense defending the decision regarding Ridd. “The issue has never been about Peter’s right to make statements – it’s about how he has continually broken a code of conduct that we would expect all our staff to stick to, to create a safe, respectful professional workplace.” The thrust of this is simple: Never cause offense; be compliantly decent; be cripplingly dull and go back to your homes in your suburbs living a life unexamined. As an academic, you are merely delivering a service mandated by individuals several steps removed from the education process, not performing an ancient duty to educate mankind.

The code of conduct, the product of a corporatized imbecility, assumes the mantle of dogma in such disputes. “All staff members must comply with the Code of Conduct,” goes Gordon’s official statement in May, with its distinct politburo flavour of placing things beyond debate. “This is non-negotiable. It is a fundamental duty and obligation that forms part of their employment.” Ridd, explains Gordon, “sensationalised his comments to attract attention, has criticised and denigrated published work, and has demonstrated a lack of respect for his colleague and institutions in doing so. Academic rebuttal of his scientific views on the reef has been separately published.”

Anderson, having found himself at stages in the University of Sydney’s bad books, has also run the gauntlet of offensiveness. The specific conduct resulting in his suspension featured lecture materials shown to students suggesting the imposition of a swastika upon Israel’s flag. This was deemed “disrespectful and offensive, and contrary to the university’s behavioural expectations”. Tut, tut, Anderson.

The Sydney University provost and acting vice-chancellor Stephen Garton followed the line taken at JCU towards Ridd with zombie-like predictability. “The university has, since its inception, supported and encouraged its staff to engage in public debate and it has always accepted that those views might be controversial.” But debate – and here, behavioural fetters were again to be imposed – had to be undertaken “in a civil manner.” Contrarianism should be expressed with a good measure of decency.

The letter of suspension from Garton to Anderson is one-dimensionally authoritarian. Principles of academic freedom were supported by the university, but only in “accordance with the highest ethical, professional and legal standards”. But the all supreme, and trumping document, remained the Code of Conduct, capitalised by the bureaucrats as Mosaic Law. “The inclusion of the altered image of the Israeli flag in your Twitter Posts, Facebook Posts and teaching materials is disrespectful and offensive, and contrary to the University’s behavioural expectations and requirements for all staff.”

Some heart can be taken from the protest last Friday on the part of 30 academics who signed an open letter objecting to the treatment meted out to Anderson, stating that academic freedom was “meaningless if it is suspended when its exercise is deemed offensive.” His suspension pending termination of his employment was “an unacceptable act of censorship and a body-blow to academic freedom at the University of Sydney”. Reaction to Ridd has been somewhat cooler.

The point with Anderson is that his views are deemed bad for university business, which tolerates no room for the offensive. This, in a place where the most varied, and, at points, tasteless views, should be expressed. But as universities have become shabby entrepreneurial endeavours which see students as obesely delicious milch cows for their existence, the idea is less important than the process.

As is so often the case of free speech, advocates of it always assume it doesn’t apply to others. It is only to be extolled as a mark on paper and university policy. But never, for instance, challenge inane university policy or the hacks who implement it. Never ridicule ideas that deserve it. Never mock the obscene nature of managerialism’s central principle: massaged incompetence and assured decline. University managers and the colourless suits aided by their ill-tutored human resources goon squads tend to hold sway over opinions, taking against anybody who questions certain aspects of their (non)performance.

The Ridd and Anderson cases, coming from separate parts of the academic spectrum, demonstrate the prevalence of toadyism on the part of those who wish to avoid questioning the rationale of a university’s management process. They also suggest an immemorial tendency of authority to savagely oppress those who ignore it; to manifest its existence through punishment. In truth, it is precisely in ignoring those officials long barnacled upon the research and teaching endeavours of the University and drawing revenue best spent on students and scholars that a grave sin is committed. Such officialdom should be ignored, treated as the bureaucratic irrelevance that it is. Time for sit-ins, occupations, boycotts and a retaking of the University.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Influencing Foreigners Is What Intelligence Agencies Do

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 20.12.2018

The Rand Corporation defines America’s influence operations as… “the coordinated, integrated, and synchronized application of national diplomatic, informational, military, economic, and other capabilities in peacetime, crisis, conflict, and post-conflict to foster attitudes, behaviors, or decisions by foreign target audiences that further US interests and objectives. In this view, influence operations accent communications to affect attitudes and behaviors but also can include the employment of military capabilities, economic development, and other real-world capabilities that also can play a role in reinforcing these communications.”

In a world where communications and social networks are global and accessible to many ordinary people, influence operations are the bread-and-butter of many intelligence agencies as a means of waging low intensity warfare against adversaries. During the past week there have been two accounts of how influencing foreign audiences has worked in practice, one relating to Russia and one to Great Britain.

The Russian story is part of the continuing saga of Russiagate. On Monday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released two reports on Russian operations before during and after the 2016 election to influence targeted groups, to include African-Americans, evangelical Christians and Second Amendment supporters to confuse voters about what the candidates stood for. Russia Internet Research Agency, headed by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, alleged to be a friend of President Vladimir Putin, reportedly coordinated the effort.

The New York Times, slanted its coverage of the story, claiming that Moscow was “weaponizing” social media and that it was intended to support the candidacy of Donald Trump who “had a Russian blind spot and an army of supporters willing to believe convenient lies and half-truths.” They also dubbed it “a singular act of aggression that ushered in an era of extended conflict.” Of course, one might note that in 2016 the Times itself had a blind spot regarding Hillary Clinton compounded by a bias against Trump and his “deplorable” supporters, while one must also point out that Russian intentions are unknowable unless one were a fly on the wall inside the Kremlin when the US election was under discussion, so one might conclude that the newspaper is itself spreading something like disinformation.

It is undoubtedly true that Russia had a vital national interest in opposing Clinton, whose malevolent intentions towards Moscow were well known. It is also undoubtedly true that there was a campaign of manipulation of social networks by the Kremlin and its proxies to influence readers and also to assess the development of the two major party campaigns. But it also should be observed that the claim that it was seeking to suppress Democratic voters is not really borne out given the other much more conservative demographics that were also targeted. Indeed, involvement by Russia did not alter the outcome of the election and may have had virtually no impact whatsoever, so the claims by the Times that the world is seeing a new form of warfare is clearly exaggerated to reflect that paper’s editorial stance.

The fact that the Times is trying to make the news rather than reporting it is clearly indicted by its sheer speculation that “The Internet Research Agency appears to have largely sat out the 2018 midterm elections, but it is likely already trying to influence the 2020 presidential election, in ways social media companies may not yet understand or be prepared for. And Russia is just the beginning. Other countries, including Iran and China, have already demonstrated advanced capabilities for cyberwarfare, including influence operations waged over social media platforms.” It is certainly convenient to have all one’s enemies collectivized in two sentences, but the Times manages that quite neatly.

The second story, much less reported in the US media, relates to how the British intelligence services have been running their own disinformation operations against Russia, also using social networks and the internet. The British government has been financing a program that was given the name Integrity Initiative. It has been tasked with creating and disseminating disinformation relating to Russia in order to influence the people, armed forces and governments of a number of countries that Moscow constitutes a major threat to the west and its institutions.

Former British intelligence officer and established Russo-phobe Christopher Nigel Donnelly (CND) is the co-director of The Institute for Statecraft and founder of its offshoot Integrity Initiative. The Initiative ironically claims to “Defend Democracy Against Disinformation.” According to leaked documents, the Initiative plants disinformation that includes allegations about the “Russian threat” to world peace using what are referred to as journalists ‘clusters’ in place both in Europe and the United States.

Even though the Institute and Initiative pretend to be independent Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), they are both actually supported financially by the British government, NATO and what are reported to be other state donors, possibly including the United States.

The Integrity Initiative aside, the United States has also long been involved in influence operations, sometimes also referred to as perception management. Even before 9/11 and after the breakup of the Soviet Union the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Agency were all active on the internet in opposing various adversaries, to include terrorist groups. The CIA has been spreading disinformation using paid journalists and arranging foreign elections since 1947. Sometimes US federal government agencies are operating openly, but more often they are using covert mechanisms and cover stories to conceal their identities. America’s internet warriors are adept at spreading misinformation aimed at target audiences worldwide.

The fact is that spreading disinformation and confusion are what governments and intelligence services do to protect what they consider to be vital interests. It is naïve for the US Senate and America’s leading newspapers to maintain that intelligence probing and other forms of interference from Russia or China or Iran or even “friend” Israel occur in a vacuum. Everyone intrudes and spreads lies and everyone will continue to do it because it is easy to understand and cheap to run. In the end, however, its effectiveness is limited. In 2016 the election result was determined by a lack of trust on the part of the American people for what the establishment politicians have been offering, not because of interference from Moscow.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Isn’t News. This Is War Crimes Apologia.

By Caitlyn Johnstone | Medium | December 18, 2018

The fact that George W Bush has given Michelle Obama two pieces of candy is once again making headlines in mainstream outlets like Time, The Hill, and Newsweek. He has not given her any new pieces of candy since the last time he did so at his father’s funeral. He also has not ceased to be the man who facilitated the murder of a million Iraqis and inflicted a whole new level of military expansionism and Orwellian surveillance upon our world. As near as I can tell, the only reason this story is once again making headlines is because Michelle Obama and the mainstream media have decided to bring it up again.

“He has the presence of mind and the sense of humor to bring me a mint, and he made it a point to give me that mint right then and there and that’s the beauty of George Bush,” Obama said of the war criminal in conversation at the SAP Center over the weekend, which we apparently need to know about because the news is telling us about it.

“We’re all Americans. We all care about our family and our kids, and we’re trying to get ahead,” Obama continued. “And that’s how I feel about [Bush]. You know? He’s a beautiful, funny, kind, sweet man.”

If you’re starting to feel like attempts to rehabilitate George W Bush’s image are being aggressively shoved down your throat by the mass media at every opportunity, it’s because that is exactly what is happening. Every few weeks there’s a new deluge of headlines explaining to consumers of mainstream media why they should love the 43rd president because he’s such a cutesy wootsey cuddle pie, and completely forget about the piles upon piles of human corpses he is responsible for creating for no legitimate reason at all. The last Bush appreciation blitz was less than two weeks ago.

And there is a reason for this. Make no mistake, this relentless, aggressive campaign to rehabilitate George W Bush whether you like it or not is actually a campaign to rehabilitate what he did and the mass media’s unforgivable complicity in it.

The mass media failed spectacularly to practice due diligence and hold power to account in the lead-up to the illegal and unconscionable Iraq invasion, not just the ghouls at Fox News but respected centrist outlets like CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post as well. Bogus government reports were passed on uncritically and unquestioned, antiwar demonstrations with hundreds of thousands of protesters were ignored and downplayed, and the words “Saddam Hussein” and “9/11” were deliberately mentioned in the same breath so frequently that seven out of ten Americans still believed Saddam was responsible for the September 11 attacks months after the Iraq invasion had occurred.

In an environment where the New York Times is instructing its readers how to “help fight the information wars” against Russia, the BBC is coaching its audience to scream the word “whataboutism” whenever a skeptic of establishment Russia narratives brings up Iraq, and the US Secretary of Defense is claiming that Putin is trying to “undermine America’s moral authority,” the massive credibility hit that imperial media and institutions took by deceiving the world into the destruction of Iraq matters. Propaganda is a lot more important in cold war than in hot war since avoiding direct military confrontation limits the options of the participants, and Iraq is a giant bullet hole in the narrative of US moral authority which Moscow is rightly all too happy to point out.

Without the claim of moral authority, none of America’s manipulations against Russia make any sense. It’s absurd for America to spend years shrieking about Russian election meddling after it openly rigged Russia’s elections in the nineties, unless America claims that it rigged Russia’s elections for moral reasons while Russia rigged America’s elections for immoral reasons. It makes no sense to have mainstream western media outlets uncritically manufacturing support for wars and coaching their audiences on how to help government agencies fight “information wars” against Russia while also criticizing RT as “state media”, unless you can say that western media functions as an arm of the US government for moral reasons while RT does so for immoral reasons. It makes no sense for the US to criticize Russian military interventionism when the US is vastly more guilty of vastly more egregious forms of military interventionism, unless the US can claim its interventionism is moral while Russia’s is immoral.

For this reason it’s been necessary to rehabilitate the image of the Iraq invasion, and since there is no aspect of the Iraq invasion itself that isn’t soaked in blood and gore, they are rehabilitating its most recognizable face instead. Mainstream media outlets are doing this both to restore their own credibility and the credibility of the US world order they serve, in order to help secure crucial narrative control as we slide ever closer to a direct military confrontation with Russia and/or China.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world, and Iraq is a major weak point in the US-centralized empire’s narrative control. When you see a political insider like Michelle Obama constantly facilitating the mass media’s fixation on how cuddly wuddly George W Bush has become, you are not witnessing a heartwarming moment, you are not witnessing redemption, and you are most certainly not witnessing the news. You are witnessing war propaganda, plain and simple.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 3 Comments

What stopped Chad’s Idriss Déby from visiting Israel before now?

Dr Mustafa Fetouri | MEMO | December 20, 2018

If you did not know much about Chad, a country in the middle of Africa, it most likely it caught your eye on 26 November when its President, Idriss Déby, landed in Israel for an unannounced visit to the Zionist state. The visit was shrouded in secrecy until Déby’s plane touched down at Ben Gurion Airport. His closest aides had no idea that he was heading to Tel Aviv until the last minute. It reminds me of November 1977, when Egypt’s then President Anwar Sadat made his surprise trip to Israel.

Sadat justified his move by the fact that Egypt and Israel were at war with each other and such a visit, he believed, helped to make peace. Déby, on the other hand, has been in power since December 1990, Chad is not at war with Israel and the two countries are thousands of miles apart; so what motivated him to embark on such an endeavour at this time? Or, indeed, what stopped him from making such a visit before now?

Israeli journalist Herb Keinon answered this question by explaining that, “Chad severed ties with Israel in 1972 after coming under pressure from Libya.” Reuters reported that Dore Gold, the Director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry in 2016, explained after his own visit to Chad why the government in N’Djamena cut ties with Israel over four decades earlier: “[his Chadian hosts] told him that they cut off ties 44 years prior under Libyan pressure, a factor removed with the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi [in 2011].”

Indeed Libya under Gaddafi was the fiercest opponent of Israeli expansion in Africa. As early as 1972, just three years after taking power, Gaddafi forced the then Chadian President, François Tombalbaye, to sever ties with Tel Aviv. Gaddafi believed strongly that any Israeli diplomatic expansion into Africa undermined the continent’s pro-Palestinian position. The late Libyan leader considered Israel to be an enemy best kept as far away as possible from Libya and Africa.

Libya has a history of ties with Chad going back to Italy’s invasion and occupation of Libya in 1911, which saw hundreds of Libyans seeking safety in Chad; their descendants still live in Libya’s southern neighbour. Gaddafi capitalised on this to strengthen ties between this community of exiles and their home country. He also sought to prevent Chad from becoming a threat to Libya’s security, which is why Tripoli was involved in toppling Chadian regimes considered unfriendly, particularly between 1972 and 1990.

Idriss Déby himself became President of Chad in December 1990, with Libyan political and military support. Gaddafi invested Libya’s oil money in Chad; the North African state owns two banks there and some luxury hotels, and built dozens of schools, mosques and medical facilities, as well as communication and agriculture infrastructure.

The late Libyan leader also used his political clout in Africa to keep African countries away from western influence, knowing too well that it would only benefit Israel as many western capitals would encourage them to embrace and help Tel Aviv to infiltrate the continent even more. In this context, Libya founded the African Union in 1999, for Pan-African cooperation. Tripoli also founded the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), bringing 24 Sub-Saharan African counties closer to neighbouring North African Arab states to share investment, free trade, security and foreign policy coordination.

This put Libya, before 2011, in direct competition with western powers in Africa. One of Tripoli’s long term objectives was to launch a golden dinar, backed by its own huge financial reserves, as a currency for African states to replace the CFA franc which is backed by the French treasury. This was one of the reasons behind French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s attack on Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime in 2011.

After Gaddafi was killed in 2011, many of his long term African initiatives were, under French pressure, abandoned. CEN-SAD, for example, is being replaced by the smaller Group of 5 Sahel (G5S) made up of Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. Ironically, though, the members of G5S are the weakest in Africa and are focusing on security by allowing France and the United States to establish military bases in Mali and Niger. This would have been unthinkable if Gaddafi was still around.

Having the best military among the G5S countries, Chad’s Idriss Déby has become even more influential in Africa. This makes his link with Israel even more dangerous.

As the leading armed forces within G5S, Chad’s army is responsible for fighting terrorism in the Sahel region. Déby and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania are seeking to promote G5S as a trusted partner in Africa. In this context, visiting Israel is an important step to unlock further diplomatic and military support.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it his objective since 2016 to visit as many Muslim majority countries as possible. It would not be surprising to see some sort of rapprochement between Israel and Mali, Mauritania or Niger, or all three. Déby’s ice breaking visit to Tel Aviv has helped open the door for such rapprochement in Africa which, once upon a time, was a no-go area for Israel.

Apart from diplomatic gains, Israel is also interested in using Chad and its neighbours as stopovers for flights to South America, saving time and cost. A flight from Tel Aviv to Brazil, for example, will be around four hours shorter if central African airspace can be used. At the moment, such flights take around 17 hours, with at least one stopover in Europe or North America for refuelling.

Déby is facing more security challenges from his own people as armed rebel groups become more organised and stronger thanks to the safe bases they have in southern Libya. Young people in Chad’s Sahel region of Bahr El-Ghazal and Kanem in particular are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the authority in N’Djamena. The President’s security apparatus has been using discriminatory and heavy-handed tactics in the region under the pretext of fighting Boko Haram and other terror groups which infiltrated this vital area after Libya was destroyed by NATO in 2011.

The Chadian President is likely to seek Israeli help to keep himself in power. France, his main backer, “encouraged him to visit Israel,” according to Aqreen Saleh, the former Libyan ambassador to Chad who knows Déby personally. Saleh insists that “security for [Déby’s] regime is the main driver behind the visit to Israel,” not least because, over the past five years, the government in N’Djamena has been challenged by the rebel groups operating from southern Libya.

However, going to Israel is likely to backfire, particularly among Chad’s Muslim majority population. Historically, and especially since Chad gained independence, it has been Muslims who have risen against and toppled the central government.

Before 2011, thousands of Chadians depended on Libya for employment opportunities. Now they are heading to Libya to join rebel groups or work as mercenaries fighting for different Libyan factions, compounding Déby’s problems.

Idriss Déby needs arms and military equipment to fight the threat from the rebels operating out of Libya and Israel is only too happy to supply them to him. In the absence of any strong Arab leadership in Africa post-Gaddafi and the destruction of Libya, more African leaders are likely to embrace apartheid Israel at the expense of African support for the Palestinians and links with the Arab world.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ukraine plans another incursion into Kerch Strait, hopes NATO ships will join in – top official

RT | December 20, 2018

Kiev is considering sending its Navy ships through the Kerch Strait again, a high-ranked official said weeks after a tense standoff between Russian and Ukrainian vessels in the area.

Another passage by Ukrainian Navy ships through the Kerch Strait which connects Black and Azov Seas might take place very soon, according to Alexander Turchinov, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. “I think that this issue cannot be delayed,” he told BBC News Ukraine on Wednesday.

Turchinov, who briefly served as interim president after the Western-backed 2014 Euromaidan coup in Kiev, didn’t mince his words while explaining the rationale between the action. To him, Russia is after “seizing the Azov Sea,” install new maritime borders and “legitimize the occupation of Crimea.”

The only antidote to the plan is “to show to the entire world that Ukraine has not lost its position in the Azov Sea.” Turchinov was speaking several weeks after three Ukrainian ships attempted to break through the strait which Russia had closed on safety reasons.

On November 25, three Ukrainian Navy vessels, including two combat-ready gunboats, entered the Kerch Strait without getting proper clearance first, according to Moscow. After ignoring multiple warnings and demands to stop, they were fired upon and seized by the Russian coast guard, while the sailors were taken to custody.

This time, the official said he hopes Ukraine will not be left alone in the next endeavor. “It would be very logical if NATO ships which we invited [to visit] the Azov Sea ports make sure that Russia complies with international law,” he said, lamenting the military bloc provided no response yet.

Nevertheless, Turchinov hopes that “during the next passage of Ukrainian warships through the Kerch Strait they will at least send their observers to us.” Kiev had also invited officials from OSCE and other international bodies to be on board Ukrainian ships to prove “that Ukraine and its sailors do not violate any laws and international rules.”

The latter phrase sounds odd given that Moscow had accused Ukrainian sailors of deliberately violating Russia’s maritime borders in the Kerch Strait and breaking specific rules of passing through the narrow, complex water area. Top Russian officials maintained that this was a premeditated and provocative act plotted by the Ukrainian government.

Turchinov’s BBC interview was predictably met with little praise in Moscow. “This was just an announcement of another provocation,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday, calling it “utterly irresponsible.” She noted the inflammatory remark came at the time when “many Ukraine’s partners try to defuse tensions in this situation and seek ways of de-escalation.”

It also comes several days after the UN General Assembly passed a Ukrainian resolution, condemning the presence of the Russian military in the Crimean Peninsula and the surrounding waters of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. 66 countries supported the non-binding resolution but 72 abstained from voting altogether.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

DPRK Is Still Being Persecuted For “Violating Human Rights”

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 20.12.2018

The ties between South and North Koreas are becoming closer and there are fewer tensions in the relationship between DPRK and the USA. That often makes us forget that, though it was rather the Democrats’ strategy to pick on North Korea for violating human rights, the pressure on Pyongyang for this reason has merely become less blatant.

For example, on 23 October 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK, Tomás Ojea Quintana, announced that over the past year many changes had taken place on the Korean Peninsula, but the situation with human rights in DPRK remained the same. He referred to testimonies, made by defectors from North Korea, when he said that ordinary North Korean inhabitants were starving and had no access to medical services due to lack of money. During his speech he even showed a padlock, which had been given to him as a gift by a teenage defector from North Korea, and said that specifically the United Nations had the key to improving the human rights situation in DPRK.

On 15 November, the UN General Assembly Third Committee on human rights, humanitarian affairs and social matters unanimously (without a vote) approved yet another resolution, put forward by Japan and the European Union, condemning DPRK for violating human rights. The UN has been adopting such resolutions since 2005, and the latest resolution happens to be the 14th one. And just as the resolutions approved earlier, it condemns DPRK for constant, systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the north of the Korean Peninsula. It demands, among other things, that all labor camps be immediately closed, all prisoners freed, and all parties, responsible for violating human rights, be held responsible. The authors of the document urge for the situation in DPRK to be resolved in the International Criminal Court; for the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to be brought to justice, and for concrete measures to be taken on this issue, with due consideration to be given to the conclusions reached by the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate violations of human rights in DPRK (as it turns out the notorious 2014 report was, for the most part, based on false testimonies).

In reality, no serious changes were made to the document, which, according to South Korean media sources, lends evidence to the idea that no progress has been made to resolve human rights issues in North Korea, and does not illustrate the fact that such resolutions are produced regardless of the reality on the ground in North Korea. Still, the UN Committee on humanitarian affairs “has welcomed” Pyongyang’s attempts to normalize diplomatic relations with the international community and to abide by the inter-Korean agreements on families split up by the conflict.

In response, North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Song, stated that discussions about human rights violations in DPRK were out of the question, and that the international community was meddling in internal affairs of a sovereign nation. China, Russia, Syria, Myanmar and other countries also did not support the resolution, but they did not demand for its approval to be put to a vote. They did not do so because the international community cannot demand that Pyongyang abide by its conditions, and the pressure applied by the resolution on North Korea is not great enough to start a confrontation over it. DPRK media outlets also called the resolution a thinly veiled campaign to tarnish North Korea’s reputation, and stated that the step taken by the UN was aimed at halting the current trend towards better dialogue and peace.

In November 2018, Moon Jong In, a special advisor to the South Korean President on issues connected with diplomacy and unification, advised the DPRK leader to start focusing on human rights issues, and to better still close labor camps. In his opinion, any rhetoric voiced by Kim Jong-un on human rights issues can substantially help Pyongyang gain more trust from the international community. Quoting the statement made by Moon Jong In, Amnesty International estimated (it would be interesting to know how) that there are more than 130,000 political prisoners in North Korea. And on 31 October 2018, experts from the international organization Human Rights Watch published an 86-page report, entitled “You Cry at Night but Don’t Know Why: Sexual Violence against Women in North Korea”, which stated that North Korean officials used the lawless rape of women as a mechanism of repression. We will dedicate a separate article to the analysis of this report, as it is a good example of how broad interpretations of the meaning of the word “rape”, and inaccurate information selection help transform DPRK into an analogue of those African nations where mass rape is actually part of repression means, used by authorities.

On 26 November, the main DPRK newspaper commented on the Human Rights Watch report and the repeated allusions to this issue, by noting that the USA had been using these mind games in order to gain concessions from DPRK in negotiations and to destabilize the North Korean regime. The paper also reported that, currently in the US, it is being asserted that the stumbling block in the relationship between the USA and DPRK is the nuclear issue. But once this issue is resolved to the benefit of Washington, the US will use the human rights violation issue or another reason to apply pressure on DPRK to change its regime.

On 27 November, the international news agency France-Presse announced that Washington approached the UN Security Council with a request to hold a meeting on the human rights issues in North Korea on 10 December. Such meetings have taken place since 2014, and despite objections from Beijing, the request has already received support from 9 nation-participants, which is essential for its approval.

DPRK’s Ambassador to the United Nations once again expressed regret at the fact that the UN Security Council followed orders from Washington blindly, and highlighted that the decision would not have a favorable effect on the outcomes of diplomatic negotiations between the international community and Pyongyang.

Along with international sanctions, imposed in response to the violations, unilateral ones are also being used. Hence, on 29 November, in order to reinforce the fight against human trafficking, Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban provision of non-humanitarian and non-trade financial assistance to a number of countries in year 2019. Eighteen countries were placed in this banned list, which includes DPRK, China, Iran, South Sudan, Eritrea, Venezuela and even the Russian Federation. They were included, because their local authorities failed to make enough effort to combat human trafficking, and these restrictions will remain in place until the nations take decisive action. Trump appealed to the International Monetary Fund and development banks to not offer credit lines to the previously mentioned nations.

Every year, the USA publishes a report on human trafficking, and every time DPRK, for 16 years in a row now, is listed as a nation which actively engages in human trafficking. Since 2003, the country has received the lowest rating, which means that it is actively involved in human trafficking within its borders, and that local authorities take no measures to resolve this issue. In the case of DPRK, “slave trade” usually refers to the fate of North Korean defectors to China, who end up in inhumane conditions on account of the efforts made by the so-called “brokers” that are often protected by South Korean NGOs.

As the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK, Tomás Ojea Quintana, stated, the United Nations would embrace closer ties between the two Koreas, but human rights violations were impossible to ignore. The author urges the readers to remember this statement and also recall it when answering the question “Will DPRK be left alone after it (let us say this is possible) fulfills the denuclearization requirements?” After all, in one possible scenario any mistake on North Korea’s part is presented as deplorable, but in another, as an unfortunate incident, which is easily forgotten. It is probably not worth explaining what the reaction of the international community would have been if the diplomatic mission where a dissident was dismembered had been a North Korean and not a Saudi one.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, Leading Research Fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WaPo: Trump Needs to Destroy Venezuela to Save It

By Joe Emersberger | FAIR | December 17, 2018

Tamara Taraciuk Broner of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Johns Hopkins professor Kathleen Page took to the pages of the Washington Post (11/26/18) to whitewash Donald Trump’s successful efforts to make Venezuela’s economic crisis much worse. Appropriately enough, at the end of the piece, the Post recommended four other articles (11/23/18, 9/11/18, 6/20/18,8/21/18) that either attacked Venezuela’s government or stayed conspicuously silent about the impact of US economic sanctions.

Propaganda works primarily through repetition. The vilification of Venezuela’s government in the Western media has been relentless for the past 17 years, as Alan MacLeod pointed out in his book Bad News From Venezuela.

A Washington Post op-ed (11/26/18) called on international governments to “put considerable pressure on Venezuela” in response to health problems that are largely a result of international pressure. (FAIR)

A WaPo op-ed called on international governments to “put considerable pressure on Venezuela” in response to health problems that are largely a result of international pressure.

NGOs like HRW play an important role in framing the Western imperial agenda from a supposedly “independent” and “humanitarian” perspective, as dramatically illustrated after the death of Sen. John McCain (FAIR.org8/31/18) when several HRW officials joined the US media in sanctifying an overtly racist warmonger. In contrast, a few hours after Hugo Chavez’s death in 2013, HRW rushed out a statement vilifying Chavez’s years in office, displaying total indifference to his achievements in reducing poverty and improving health outcomes, despite the violent, scorched-earth tactics of his US-backed opponents to prevent this from happening. No such statement was rushed out by HRW to attack George H.W. Bush—the recently departed butcher of Panama and initiator of the decades-long mass slaughter in Iraq, to mention only a few of his crimes.

HRW has repeatedly invoked the impact of an economic crisis in Venezuela to call for more US-led “pressure” on Venezuela’s government, as was done by Taraciuk and Page. They wrote:

But most sanctions—imposed by the United States, Canada and the European Union—are limited to canceling visas and freezing assets of key officials implicated in abuses and corruption. They have no impact on the Venezuelan economy.

In 2017, the United States also imposed financial sanctions, including a ban on dealings in new stocks and bonds issued by the government and its state oil company. But even these include an exception for transactions to purchase food and medicines. In fact, the government has purchased food from abroad, but these efforts have given rise to corruption allegations.

The idea that “most sanctions” have “no impact on the Venezuelan economy” is appalling nonsense (FAIR.org3/22/18). Trump has extended Obama’s cynically declared  “national emergency” over Venezuela, and escalated by directly threatening holders of Venezuelan government bonds, making it it impossible for Venezuela to “roll over” any bonds governed under US law (i.e., borrow to pay off principal when a bond comes due, as governments usually do). In January, a Torino Capital report on Venezuela’s economy stated that “all foreign-currency bonds are denominated in dollars, and all are governed by New York law.” Trump also prohibited the Venezuelan government–owned CITGO corporation, based in Texas, from sending any profits or dividends back to Venezuela.

The US allies Taraciuk and Page mentioned mainly provide propaganda cover for a US-led assault. Bear in mind that the United States, Canada and other countries within the European Union are supplying weapons and other essential military support to Saudi Arabia, even as it inflicts famine on Yemen. Why do you suppose governments barbaric enough to arm Saudi Arabia also target Venezuela with economic sanctions? Does concern over human rights and corruption, which Taraciuk and Page uncritically cited as a rationale, pass the laugh test?

It should be said that the financial sanctions the US has applied to Venezuela could not even be justified against Saudi Arabia which, unlike Venezuela, really is a dictatorship. In fact, Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most brutal and backward dictatorship on Earth, and one engaged in horrific aggression abroad. What would be justified against Saudi Arabia is cutting off arm sales and all military collaboration. That appears to be a real possibility in the United States at the moment, but recall that support for the Saudis may be funneled through Israel and other allies, as was done decades ago in Guatemala when the atrocities of US clients became overly embarrassing.

Francisco Rodriguez, the Venezuelan chief economist of Torino Capital and a longtime Chávez (and Maduro) government opponent, produced the graph below, which clearly shows the impact of Trump’s financial sanctions on Venezuelan oil production, which Venezuela depends on to get almost all the foreign currency it uses for trade. The piece Rodriguez wrote calling attention to this alarming fact was ignored by the media, according to a Nexis search done two weeks after it first appeared.

Venezuelan and Colombian oil production both fell when oil prices collapsed—but Venezuelan production kept falling after prices rose again, due to the effect of economic sanctions. (WOLA.org)

Venezuelan and Colombian oil production both fell when oil prices collapsed—but Venezuelan production kept falling after prices rose again, due to the effect of economic sanctions. (WOLA.org)

Before the financial sanctions introduced by Trump, Venezuela’s oil production followed a similar pattern to Colombia’s: There was a fall in production following a drop in investment, due to the steep and sustained drop in oil prices that began near the end of 2014 and bottomed out in 2016.

However, after Trump imposed financial sanctions in August 2017, Venezuela’s oil production plummeted, while Colombia’s stabilized. The impact of US sanctions therefore became much worse, but also easier to calculate. It works out to $6 billion in lost revenue to Venezuela’s government in the first year after the sanctions alone, even if one assumes that Venezuela’s oil production would have continued to decline along its pre–financial sanctions path. That’s over 600 times more than the emergency aid the UN has just approved for Venezuela.

The “exception for transactions to purchase food and medicines” Taraciuk and Page pointed to in Trump’s financial sanctions is a laughable smokescreen. The sanctions deprive the Venezuelan government of billions of dollars to buy foods and medicine, regardless of whether there are dubious “exemptions” to illegal sanctions.

According to Datanálisis, an opposition-aligned pollster whose directors appear regularly in Venezuela’s private media, more than 60 percent of Venezuelan households received subsidized food and other basic products this year, through a government program known as CLAP (in its Spanish language acronym). Taraciuk and Page mention these “corruption allegations”—like the allegations that the government has used this system to “buy support”—to falsely suggest that what concerns the US and its accomplices are revenues lost to corruption (hardly a problem unique to Venezuela).

On the contrary, the US concern is that Venezuelan government revenues might benefit the public. The worry—apparently shared by apologists like Taraciuk and Page—is that the Maduro government has been able to retain popular support by responding to the economic crisis. Sanctions take direct aim at Venezuela’s population by denying the government the revenues to do that—a depraved objective, but consistent with the behavior of the governments of the United States, Canada, France and UK, which continue to arm Saudi Arabia.

I’ve cited Venezuelan opposition sources above, not because I think they should be assumed the most reliable, but to show how extremist commentary on Venezuela has been in Western media. Even Venezuelan opposition sources are ignored when they can’t be used to support US belligerence.

In recent years, HRW officials have taken to calling Venezuela a dictatorship (CBC4/1/17). Pinning this label on Venezuela has been crucial to removing all legal and moral constraints on US policy. Taraciuk and Page refrained from using that label explicitly, but readers were clearly meant to get that idea:

Maduro’s government remains as opaque and repressive as ever. In January, the president called those who spoke out about the crisis “traitors to the fatherland.” His threat should be taken seriously in a country without judicial independence, where critics have been arbitrarily jailed and tortured, and hunger has been used for social and political control.

In fact, basic democratic freedoms in Venezuela remain at a level the US government would never tolerate were it faced with similar circumstances: a major economic crisis deliberately worsened by a foreign power that openly backs the most violent elements of the opposition. Just consider that, in far less dire circumstances, the liberal end of US opinion is either ignoring or viciously applauding the likelihood of Julian Assange being imprisoned in the United States for publishing government secrets.

Aggressive Maduro government critics appear constantly in Venezuela’s private media. Francisco Rodriguez traveled all over Venezuela in May, campaigning for opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón, whom he advised on economic policy. Rodriguez made numerous appearances in Venezuela’s media during the campaign in which he lashed out at Maduro’s government (examples herehere and here).

Falcón (defying US threats) launched his presidential campaign with a 35-minute speech on Venezuelan state media. In that speech, Falcón repeatedly called Maduro the “hunger candidate,” and said that it is now common to see Venezuelans looking through trash for food. Falcón said democracy has been destroyed, and that all Venezuela’s institutions are “slaves” to the executive, that Maduro’s government has made Venezuela into a “hell,” that Venezuela faces the risk of civil war. Falcon pledged the release of all “political prisoners” and demanded that the election be held at a later date. The election was then moved back a month to May 20.

In an interview on a large private network during the campaign, Falcón said that Maduro’s government was an “unscrupulous monster,” but also “beatable” if voters turned out. Unfortunately for Falcón, much of the opposition leadership not only advocated abstention to discredit the election, but also hurled wild accusations at Falcon, saying he was in cahoots with Maduro.

About 23 minutes into the interview, Falcón advised government opponents that it’s foolish to wait for a “military invasion to save Venezuela.” The contradictions and absurdity of the opposition’s discourse, including the moderate faction, beggar belief. One shudders to think what would become of such opposition figures in Paris or Washington, but you will be shielded from such considerations reading Western media—and from understanding why Maduro easily prevailed in the 2018 election, despite an economic depression. Most importantly, you’ll be prevented from understanding how the Western media’s lies and distortions over the past 17 years have allowed the US to now pose a grave military threat to a democracy.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Do you believe it’s OUR goal? Putin says he knows ‘very well’ who seeks to rule the world

RT | December 20, 2018

Russia does not aim to rule the world, and such assumptions are part of an “imposed mentality” used to distract people, Vladimir Putin told a WSJ reporter when asked about Russia’s supposed ambitions for world domination.

Faced with a rather provocative question from the WSJ Moscow Bureau Chief, Ann Maria Simmons, Putin said that “when it comes to ruling the world we know very well where the headquarters [of those], who are trying to do exactly that,” is located. “And it’s not in Moscow,” the president added, speaking at an annual Q&A session in Moscow.

Although the Russian leader has never openly accused Washington of having some global ambitions, he still said that the ongoing contest of influence in the international arena is linked to “the US leading role in the world economy” and its enormous defense spending amounting to “more than $700 billion,” which Washington apparently seeks to translate into some political power.

Russia’s defense spending amounts to just $46 billion, the president said, noting that the total population of the NATO countries accounts for some 600 million people while Russia has just about 140 million.

“Do you really believe that it is our goal to rule the world?” Putin asked rhetorically.

All the speculation about Russia’s supposed aspirations for the world dominance are nothing but a “mentality imposed by some to achieve internal goals,” the president said.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Trump’s Syrian Pullout is a Game Changer

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | News Click | December 2018

US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday regarding the withdrawal of American military forces from Syria has predictably run into strong headwinds in the Washington Beltway. A formidable coalition appeared overnight – comprising the Deep State, US defence and security establishment, leading members of the Congress, major media organs –branding Trump as a maverick. However, the fact of the matter is that Trump made a considered decision.

Basically, it is a political call on his part to advance his consistent stance that the US should not intervene in the Syrian conflict – a stance, we may recall, which Michael Flynn had begun fleshing out even before the Trump presidency began in January last year. Why is Trump asserting his political will?

Clearly, Turkey’s threat to launch an operation “any moment” to crush the US’ Kurdish allies and the deployment of Turkish troops on the Syrian border profoundly influenced Trump’s decision-making. (See my blog There’s no quick fix to US-Turkish tensions.)

Trump made a phone call to Turkish President Recep Erdogan last Friday to urge restraint and signaling a change of course in the US’ Syrian policy. Erdogan later nodded satisfaction over the phone conversation. The point is, the Turkish threat to attack Kurdish groups inside Syria makes the ground situation completely untenable for the US military. The options for the Pentagon will be either to intervene on behalf of its Kurdish proxies and confront the Turkish military (which is senseless), or to watch passively the complete demolition of the zone encompassing one-third of Syria that the US carved out for itself through the past year or more.

More to the point, there is every likelihood of US forces, numbering 2,000 soldiers and spread thinly on the ground, getting caught in the crossfire between the Turkish military and its affiliated Syrian opposition groups on one side and Kurdish fighters on the other. If the Turks vanquish and scatter the Kurdish groups, the US will be left with no local allies. And it will be a only matter of time before the isolated US “bases” in Syria numbering over a dozen will face harassment and predatory attacks by the battle-hardened Shi’ite militia trained and equipped by Iran. It can turn out to be a situation like the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.

The spectre that haunts Trump is of body bags of American soldiers killed in Syria coming home, which of course, will be spelling doom for his re-election bid in the 2020 election. Trump understands that there is a Russian-Turkish-Iranian convergence to evict the US forces from Syria and the only way to counter it can be by committing boots on the ground in much larger numbers, which is of course unrealistic.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been pursuing an invidious agenda of creating a quagmire for the Russians in Syria and acting, therefore, as a “spoiler” in any whichever way it can to frustrate the Russian-Turkish-Iranian efforts to stabilize Syria. Time and again, it became apparent that the US forces in Syria maintain covert links with extremist groups, provide cover for them, and disrupt the operations by the Syrian government forces fighting terrorism. The US role in Al-Tanf on the Syrian-Iraqi border is dubious, shameful and cowardly, to say the least.

Quite obviously, the Mission Creep pursed by the Pentagon commanders have come to a point where real danger exists today of direct clashes erupting at any moment involving US forces arrayed against the Russian / Turkish / Iranian / Syrian forces. An extremely risky venture of brinkmanship by the Pentagon commanders has been afoot. There is no way Turkey can compromise with the US-Kurdish axis in Syria. Nor are Russian and Iran going to throw away their hard-earned victory in the Syrian conflict to strengthen the government led by President Bashar Al-Assad. In a major speech in Moscow on Tuesday while addressing Russian Defence Board, President Vladimir Putin touched on the Syrian situation, underscoring, “We will give Syrians all the support they need.” (See my blog Putin warns US against misadventures.)

Equally, Trump cannot be unaware that there is growing uncertainty about the Saudis bankrolling the US operations in Syria, what with the growing tensions in the US-Saudi relations over the Jamal Khashoggi affair. Qatar and Jordan have already pulled out of the “regime change” project in Syria. Suffice to say, Israel is the only American ally in the region, which is today keen on an open-ended US military intervention in Syria.

Trump has been paying a lot of attention lately to mend the fractured Turkish-American ties and to revive the alliance, if possible. Step by step, he has been clearing the debris that had accumulated during the Obama presidency. The extradition of Islamist preacher Fetullah Gulen is a major obstacle, but even here Trump appears to have set the ball rolling. On December 18, Pentagon announced the clearance for a possible sale of the Patriot air and missile defence system to Turkey, notwithstanding Turkey’s purchase of S-400 ABM system from Russia. Trump is also addressing the detention in the US of a top executive of Halk Bank, which has serious political overtones for Erdogan personally. Unsurprisingly, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu acknowledged publicly on December 18 that the climate of bilateral relations is “much, much better” of late. Cavusoglu disclosed that a visit by Trump to Turkey is on the cards.

Having said that, the US’ continued alliance with the Kurdish militia is a red line for Turkey and the relations between Ankara and Washington can never be normal so long as this “unholy alliance” (as Turks perceive it) continues. Ankara will suspect the US intentions toward Turkey so long as Pentagon treats the Kurds as strategic allies, no matter the tactical reasons proffered by the Pentagon commanders.

Trump understands this. And it largely explains his decision to cut the Gordian knot. Significantly, Cavusoglu discussed the US withdrawal plans in Syria with US Secretary of State Mike Pence within hours of the news of Trump’s decision.

The heart of the matter is that the US’ regional strategies can never be optimal without Turkey, which has been a “swing” state. Turkey has a vital role to play not only in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean but also in the Black Sea and the Balkans. Above all, Turkey is a NATO power and the alliance loses traction in the southern tier if Ankara does not take active interest, which has been the case in the most recent period. Therefore, on balance, US’ regional strategies have much, much more to gain out of Trump’s decision to disengage from direct military intervention in Syria and to resuscitate the relations with Turkey and re-energize the old partnership.

Of course, interest groups and war profiteers (“military-industrial complex”) in the US will castigate Trump for his decision to order the halt of the gravy train. But their main argument that residual terrorism still remains in Syria is a phony one bordering on rank hypocrisy. For, it is a matter of time before Russia and Iran and the Syrian government forces with their affiliated militia will make mincemeat out of the terrorist groups that have taken shelter in the US- controlled zone in eastern Syria as well as destroy the US-backed extremist groups ensconced in Idlib. Plainly put, the fight against terrorism will be taken to its logical conclusion as soon as the US forces get out of the way and the Pentagon is prevented from playing the spoiler’s role.

Therefore, paradoxically, the decision to pull out from Syria and the rebooting of the Turkish-American alliance can only improve the US’ capacity to influence the Syrian peace process, and regional politics in general. Interestingly, Trump’s announcement came just as agreement was reached in Geneva on the composition of the committee to write a new constitution for Syria, which is a defining moment in the UN-brokered peace process.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Albania fell prey to Israeli-US scenario by targeting Iran diplomats: Tehran

Press TV – December 20, 2018

Tehran has denounced Albania for expelling two Iranian diplomats, saying the Balkan country fell prey to a scenario fabricated by the US and Israel.

Albania’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that it had expelled two Iranian diplomats suspected of “involvement in activities that harm the country’s security.”

A ministry spokesman told the Associated Press that the expulsions followed talks with others, including Israel.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Thursday that Albania’s move was “in line with previous such scenarios meant to damage Iran-Europe relations at the current sensitive juncture.”

He said the expulsions come while Tehran has “always had appropriate relations with Albania and respected all of its domestic regulations in a move based on principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy.”

US National Security Adviser John Bolton was quick to publicly support Albania’s decision.

“We stand with PM [Edi] Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behavior in Europe and across the globe,” he tweeted.

Qassemi said that Washington’s stance on the issue and Albania’s declaration that its move had been coordinated with foreign security services, prove that the US and the regime in Israel had been behind the expulsions.

Albania, he added, had fallen prey to a scenario fabricated by the US and the Israeli regime and certain terrorist groups.

The Iranian official further called on the Albanian government “to defend its sovereignty, independence and security” in the face of the US-Israeli scenario,” stressing that the country “must not allow others to affect and hamper its relations with Iran due to special political reasons.”

Albania hosts thousands of members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), a notorious anti-Iran terror group.

The MKO has carried out numerous attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials over the past three decades and is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community.

Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist assaults since the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, about 12,000 have fallen victim to MKO’s acts of terror.

Albania is not the first European country to make such claims against Iran.

Back in June, Belgian authorities said that an Iranian diplomat had been arrested along with a 38-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman, suspected of plotting a bomb attack on an MKO meeting in Paris attended by US President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and several former European and Arab ministers.

Assadollah Assadi, 46, was arrested in Germany and later extradited to Belgium in defiance of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.

Later on October 30, Danish intelligence chief Finn Borch Andersen claimed that an Iranian intelligence service had tried to carry out a plot to assassinate an Iranian Arab opposition figure on Denmark’s soil.

Swedish security police also said a Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent had been arrested on October 21 in connection with the alleged plot and extradited to Denmark.

Israeli media later revealed that the Israeli spy agency Mossad had provided Denmark with “intelligence” concerning the alleged plot by Tehran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that Tel Aviv is behind what Iranian Foreign Minister described as “false flags” in Europe.

Tehran said “invisible hands” were at work to damage Iran’s ties with Europe at the time when the two sides are closely cooperating to save the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal following the US’s pullout.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

40% of Palestinian lawmakers detained by Israel since 2006 elections

MEMO | December 19, 2018

Some 40 per cent of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s members have been detained by Israeli occupation forces at one time or another since the 2006 elections, prisoner advocacy groups said on Tuesday.

According to WAFA, the joint report by the Palestinian Prisoner Society, Addameer and the Prisoners Commission said “Israeli authorities have been targeting Palestinian deputies and political activists by holding them in administrative detention without charge or trial for long periods of time in order to prevent them from performing their societal and national roles.”

The groups noted that there are currently six Palestinian parliamentarians held in so-called administrative detention – without charge or trial – including Khalida Jarrar, “who had served time in prison and was later re-arrested and placed in administrative detention since July 2017”.

Another lawmaker, Nasser Abdu Jawwad, “is in prison awaiting trial since his detention in January of this year.”

The new report stated that Israel detained 486 Palestinians during November, including 65 children and nine women. Those detained included 150 from Jerusalem, 71 from the governorate of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, and 77 from Hebron governorate. Overall, the number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails by 31 November was 5,700, including 230 children.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

MK Zoabi ‘reprimanded’ for saying Israel soldiers ‘murdered’ civilians

MEMO | December 19, 2018

The Knesset’s Ethics Committee decided yesterday to “severely reprimand” MK Haneen Zoabi, over remarks made by the parliamentarian about Israeli forces’ attacks on the occupied Gaza Strip.

According to the report by right-wing Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva, Zoabi was the subject of a complaint filed by Likud MK Oren Hazan, after the Joint List legislator said that Palestinian civilians in Gaza had been “murdered by [Israeli] soldiers” during a Knesset debate.

“In this case,” the decision read, “most of the members of the committee believed that the use of the expression ‘murdered by the soldiers’ was not worthy of the broad protection that the committee spreads over the freedom of political expression of MKs.”

The committee also rejected a complaint filed by Zoabi herself, alleging that Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Tali Ploskov, who presided over the discussion, “did not defend her while she was speaking”. The committee concluded that “Ploskov’s conduct was not in violation of Knesset rules”.

Zoabi has frequently been targeted for censure by Knesset officials and racist incitement by fellow lawmakers over her outspoken support for Palestinian rights, and criticism of the Israeli army’s violations of international law.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment