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The Deal of the Century

Trump Team and Netanyahu conspire to sell out the Palestinians

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 14, 2019

In the aftermaths of both the First and Second World Wars national borders were readjusted to suit the victors and entirely new countries were created from the ruins of the empires that had collapsed as a result of the conflict. The process continued with the end of the Soviet Union but the new states were constituted within an already existing ethnic and linguistic framework. More recently, the United States has engaged in imperialism-lite, with “regime change” programs seeking to lop off the governments of existing nations by coercion or through military invasion, replacing them with Quislings supportive of Washington’s continuing dominance exercised from “over the horizon.”

But regime change too is falling out of favor, even if it is currently being pursued in both Venezuela and Iran, eschewing using armed force in favor of “economic warfare” intended to make life so miserable for the inhabitants of the targeted country that they will rise up in revolt and remove their leaders. So far regime-change policies have been a disappointment, with major failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya that relied on military interventions that converted stable countries into hotbeds of insurgency and unrest.

Given all of that, it is extremely audacious for the White House to consider going back to the old Sykes-Picot model of 1916 and seeking to impose a peace plan that will include reordering borders for Israel/Palestine, something that has been tried before in various forms by presidents named Carter and Clinton without any success. The new plan, which is already being touted as the “Deal of the Century,” has been the product of a group of Orthodox Jews working for senior advisor and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, together with representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt and the U.S. (sic) Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. There are no Arabs or Muslims (or Christians) on the team but there have been numerous discussions with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and, of course, Israel. Israel has clearly been allowed to see the nearly complete report and has likely participated in drafts as it moved along, but it is not clear what access the Arabs had to it. The Palestinians, of course, played no real part in the process and the Lebanese, a frontline state confronting Israel, also were not a party to the deliberations.

All of the Kushner team supports Israel’s settlements, which are illegal under international law and contrary to long-standing American government policy, which rather suggests that an open consideration of all the complex issues involved was unlikely to have taken place. Whether there are any actual American interests involved in the plan is unknown, but, given the make-up of Trump team, it is likely that there was an assumption that what is good for Israel is also good for the United States. Donald Trump has announced that the plan, which is apparently complete but for some minor tinkering, will be unveiled in June.

Those who follow the so-called peace process are likely aware that a document in Hebrew purporting to be the Deal of the Century plan has been recently leaked by an Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom that is owned by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and which also has been linked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Adelson, as the major donor to the Republican Party in the U.S., is somewhat of a bridge between Netanyahu and Trump and the document would not have appeared without foreknowledge by Adelson himself as well as the prime minister and president. The authenticity of the document has been debated, however, and the White House has claimed it was both “speculative” and “inaccurate,” but, in its defense, it is very close to what Jared Kushner revealed in comments made a month ago.

There has been considerable speculation regarding what the document and the peace plan it proposes actually mean. Though it forces both sides to make some concessions, including the creation of a Palestinian capital in part of Jerusalem, it is heavily favorable to Israel and to Netanyahu’s vision for Jerusalem and the West Bank. Even the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem would, for example, be under Israeli municipal control.

Signatories to the deal outlined in the document would be Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority with the United States serving as the guarantor of the agreement. It would create a Palestinian state called “New Palestine,” which would consist of the Gaza Strip and those parts of the West Bank that do not have Israeli settlements. Arab residents of Jerusalem, even if they live in the Jewish area, would be citizens of New Palestine, not of Israel. To maintain the status quo created by the division of Jerusalem, no Arab or Jew would subsequently be able to buy a home in the region controlled by the other community. New Palestine would have an airport on land currently in Sinai leased to it by Egypt and there would be a seaport in Gaza. New Palestine and Gaza would be linked by a road running through Israel and controlled by it to guarantee “security.”

To make the deal palatable to Palestinians, there would be $30 billion in economic investment over the first five years, coming from the United States, European Union, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. New Palestine will have police to suppress potential trouble makers but no armed forces. Israel will control the Jordan River valley but New Palestine will have two crossing points into Jordan. The U.S., as the enforcer of the deal, will cut off all aid to any party that refuses to sign the agreement. It threatens to use its control over the Swift dollar denominated international banking system to block all money transfers from any source to the Palestinians if they do not sign, similar to the squeezing that is currently being applied to Venezuela and Iran.

It is quite plausible that Netanyahu leaked the document to create controversy that would lead to Kushner having to go back to the drawing boards. The wily and unscrupulous prime minister likely sees no gain in the agreement as he is obtaining most of what he wants from Trump incrementally without conceding anything at all to the Palestinians. And he has already committed himself to virtually complete annexation of the West Bank, meaning that the creation of any kind of legitimate quasi-independent Palestinian state would be an obstacle to achieving that goal.

Even if Bibi were to go along with the plan, it would be a bad deal for the Palestinians. Without a military or control of its own borders it would be a state without any real sovereignty and, if all the Israeli settlements were to be excluded from the new nation, it would have control over only 12% of historic Palestine. The Kushner plan would mean a green light from Washington for a Greater Israel that would include 88% of the land regarded as Palestinian when Israel was created and stolen since that time. The New Palestine 12% would also be broken into smaller bantustans-like entities surrounded by Israeli roads and settlements and Israel will also be certain to obtain control of the region’s water resources.

If the Palestinians object to the way they are being treated, the United States as guarantor, as noted above, could step in and work with Israel to cut off their money, just as takes place currently, to punish them when they do not toe the line. It is, meanwhile, difficult to imagine that any circumstances might arise that would impel Washington to cut money going to Israel.

One of the more interesting details of the alleged plan is the demand that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad disarm completely, surrendering their weapons to Egypt. If they refuse, the White House would endorse and support Israel’s personal attacks directed against the groups’ leadership through the use of extrajudicial assassinations.

The leaked “peace” plan is so one-sided, harsh, and catastrophic with respect to any possible viable Palestinian state that it must be true. It is a Netanyahu dream document but for the fact that the Israeli leader would prefer to achieve what it outlines by stealth without giving anything as a sop to the Palestinians. If it fails to convince its audience, which includes a number of Arab states required to donate tens of billions to the cause, it will be back to square one with Israel continuing its creeping annexation of Palestinian land with the United States looking the other way. And speaking of the United States, what’s in it for the American people? Nada. Zilch. Nothing at all. So much for Make America Great Again.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

With the US-Iran War Ball Now Rolling, Could an “Accident” or “False Flag” Serve as Pretext?

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | May 13, 2019

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran threaten to boil over, the probability of a provocation or “accident” that would provoke hostilities between the two countries is higher than ever. U.K. Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, openly stated as much on Monday, telling reporters in Brussels that the U.K. was worried of a conflict breaking out between the U.S. and Iran by “accident with an escalation that is unintended really on either side but ends with some kind of conflict.”

Yet, current and past events make it clear that such an “accidental” provocation is unlikely to be purely accidental in nature, as forces in the U.S. and Israel have been actively pushing for a U.S.-led war with Iran for years and have a track record that demonstrates little inhibition about using an “accident” or “false flag” to drag the country into a war with the Islamic Republic.

Notably, the state of Israel — in an event long since buried by the government and corporate media — has previously staged such a “false flag” by targeting an American naval vessel, killing 34 Americans, in order to blame the attack on Egypt and drag the U.S. into a war with several Middle Eastern nations in 1967. However, Israel is not alone in this, as the CIA as well as neo-conservatives serving in the Bush administration, led by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, have planned “false flags” that involved the murder of American servicemen and civilians in order to justify miltiary action against U.S. adversaries. 

In this two-part series, MintPress explores the troubling evidence that preparations for another such “false flag” are well underway. In this first installment, current events in relation to U.S.-Iran relations and the role of Israel in the ratcheting up of tensions will be examined, while the second installment will focus on Israel’s past of conducting “false flags” to goad the U.S. into wars on Israel’s behalf as well as efforts by former Vice President Dick Cheney to conduct a “false flag” pitting American sailors against American sailors disguised as Iranian naval forces to justify a conflict with Iran.

Bolton, taking a page from Iraq 2003 playbook, sets ball rolling

Since National Security Advisor John Bolton sent out a dramatic press release announcing the deployment of a U.S. carrier strike group as a warning to Iran on May 5, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen dramatically, a development that Bolton — who has long advocated regime change and a pre-emptive war against Iran — likely welcomes. As MintPress recently reported, that press release was intentionally vague, allowing justification for a military response to any number of incidents, whether committed by Iran or alleged “proxies” of Iran, including groups over which Iran’s government has no control.

Furthermore, it has since been revealed that the “intelligence” Bolton used to frame the deployment and the rationale for future U.S. military action against Iran was from the Israeli government — which has long pushed the U.S. towards war with Iran. In addition, several unnamed U.S. officials stated soon after that Bolton and other Trump administration officials had greatly exaggerated the nature of this intelligence and overreacted. MintPress has noted on several occasions Bolton’s history of distorting intelligence to conform with a specific narrative or in order to promote specific policy actions and this tendency of Bolton’s was also recently noted in a New Yorker profile on the current National Security Advisor.

It was subsequently revealed that a few days prior to Bolton’s press release, Bolton had made a “highly unusual” visit to CIA headquarters to discuss Iran. NBC News reported that the “extremely rare” choice to hold this meeting at the CIA instead of the White House’s Situation Room likely meant that the purpose of the meeting was “to brief top officials on highly sensitive covert actions, either the results of existing operations or options for new ones,” based on statements from five former CIA operations officers and military officials.

That meeting, as noted by the political and financial news site ZeroHedge, “hearkens back to the Bush-Cheney White House’s direct intervention over Iraq intelligence in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, which involved the VP and his staff making multiple personal visits to CIA headquarters and the Pentagon to pressure the intel analysts into conforming to a preferred ‘narrative.’” Yet, the emphasis on “covert actions” in relation to Iran suggests that something much more sinister may be afoot.

Indeed, in the weeks since that press release and the “highly unusual” CIA meeting, the U.S. has deployed more military assets towards the Persian Gulf and Secretary of State Pompeo has made several abrupt schedule changes in order to discuss Iran with various countries. Notably, the Trump administration has also announced the end of waivers that have allowed some foreign companies to continue buying Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions.

The situation has forced Iran to respond, with Iran announcing that it would begin withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal — which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from over a year ago — as the U.S.’ economic war against Iran shoots to another level.

Perhaps most telling of all is the fact that Western media, particularly U.S. media, have been heavily promoting the Iranian “threat” since soon after Bolton’s Mary 5 press release, in yet another striking parallel to the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Yet, particularly notable in this case is that much of the “intelligence” that has been used to justify these recent moves by the Trump administration has come from Israel’s government, led by the recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose desire to goad the U.S. into a war with Iran is an open secret.

One potential pretext already in play in the Persian Gulf

On Sunday, reports surfaced that several oil tankers were the victims of “sabotage” while sailing towards the Persian Gulf near Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is located just outside the Strait of Hormuz. Fujairah’s government initially denied that any “sabotage” took place and maintained that its port facilities were operating normally after media reports from Iranian outlet PressTV and Lebanese outlet Mayadeen reported on a series of “explosions” on unidentified ships in the area.

The UAE’s foreign ministry later confirmed an incident in the area but said no casualties or spills occurred and notably did not provide details as to the number or nationalities of the ships involved nor the groups responsible for the alleged attack.

However, Saudi Arabia subsequently claimed that its tankers had been affected by this act of “sabotage” and that the targeted tankers had been approaching the Strait of Hormuz on route to load oil destined for the United States. Saudi Arabia, like the UAE, did not blame any country for the attack. A Norwegian-registered oil tanker experienced hull damage after striking “an unknown object,” potentially suggesting the attack was caused by an explosion of a sea mine or the result of a torpedo or other projectile launched underwater. Notably, the U.S., U.K. and France held a “mine warfare drill” in the Persian Gulf just last month and past Western media reports have characterized sea mines as “Iran’s favorite military asset.”

Iran rejected any responsibility for the attack and Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi warned against a “conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers” and “adventurism by foreigners.”

However, the timing of the sabotage came right on the heels of statements made by the U.S. and Israeli governments that have led some to blame Iran or suggest Iranian responsibility for the attacks — despite the lack of evidence made public and the decision by both the Saudis and Emiratis, long-time adversaries of Iran, from blaming any country for the incident or describing any specifics about the attack.

This past Thursday, the U.S. Maritime Administration — a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation — stated that “Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or U.S. military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait or the Persian Gulf.” The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently headed by Elaine Chao, who was paid $50,000 for a five-minute speech to the Iranian exile group, Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), known to actively seek regime change for Iran. Other top U.S. officials, such as Bolton, have also been paid hefty sums for appearances at MEK events, where they have openly advocated for the overthrow of the Iranian government.

In addition to warning from a U.S. department headed by an official with links to an Iranian opposition group actively seeking regime change, Israeli officials “leaked” information on Israel’s Channel 13 on Saturday that Iran was allegedly planning to target Saudi oil assets in the region. According to the unsourced report, as cited by the Times of Israel, the Iranians were “considering various aggressive acts” against American assets or those of its regional allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. The report also claimed that Iran had considered targeting American bases in the Gulf, but rejected it as too drastic and instead had decided to target “Saudi oil production facilities.”

In light of recent events, as well as the corporate media’s willingness to suggest Iranian culpability despite little to no publicly available evidence, it appears that this recent attack — regardless of who was responsible — could be seized upon by officials in the U.S. or Israel eager to see tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate.

Netanyahu: “America is easily moved”

It is an open secret that Israel’s government, particularly under Netanyahu, has been eager to see the U.S. engage in hostilities with Iran. The main driver for this is the fact that, while Israel has since forged alliances with several Arab-majority nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, Iran and its regional allies — namely Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Syria — oppose Israeli objectives for the region and those of its allies. More crucially, Iran is arguably the country that is most supportive of Palestine and the major barrier to Netanyahu’s plans to annex Palestine’s occupied West Bank, a promise on which Netanyahu rode to reelection last month. Now more than ever, Netanyahu wants Iran’s government out of the way.

Netanyahu has openly stated that he views the U.S. government as a vehicle for fulfilling Israeli objectives and believes that Americans are easily manipulated, by Israel in particular. For instance, in a video recorded in the early 2000s — later broadcast on Israeli TV and subsequently reported on by Consortium News — Netanyahu “brags about how he deceived President Bill Clinton into believing he [Netanyahu] was helping implement the Oslo accords when he was actually destroying them. The tape displays a contemptuous attitude toward, and wonderment at, a malleable America so easily influenced by Israel.”

In the video, Netanyahu states:

America is something that can be easily moved. Moved in the right direction. They won’t get in our way; 80 percent of the Americans support us. It’s absurd.”

Israeli journalist Gideon Levy later asserted that the video reveals Netanyahu to be “a con artist who thinks that Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes” and that the current Israeli prime minister’s attitude is unlikely to “change over the years.”

Now, with the Trump administration having shown its willingness to favor Israeli interests in the Middle East, Netanyahu has apparently sensed that the hour has come to push the U.S. towards war with Iran. For instance, the Trump administration organized a summit aimed at securing “peace and security in the Middle East,” to which Iran was not invited. The New York Times described that summit as follows:

…Leaders of Israel and Arab states met publicly again, at an international conference in Warsaw staged by the Trump administration. But the goal of this meeting, drawing officials of some 60 nations, was not peacemaking. It was to rally support for economic and political war with Iran, for which the United States has found little enthusiasm among allies since withdrawing from the 2015 deal that restricts Iran’s nuclear program.”

Notably, during that meeting, Netanyahu wrote in a since deleted tweet that the summit was “an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

In the wake of the Warsaw summit, Netanyahu has since claimed that he was responsible for the Trump administration’s decision to label Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terror group, a move that dramatically increased the risk of a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran, especially given that Iran subsequently responded by declaring the U.S. military’s Central Command a terrorist organization.

Now, with Netanyahu feeding Bolton “intelligence” that Bolton has greatly exaggerated in order to justify their common goal — a U.S. war with Iran — and also “predicting” dubious “sabotage” attacks near the Persian Gulf, Israel’s government has revealed itself to be a driving force behind the spiking tensions between the two countries.

Equally troubling is the fact that world leaders are now openly positing that an “accident” or “false flag” provocation will be used to provoke such hostilities.

For Netanyahu, it’s now or never for a U.S.-Iran war

With the Iran nuclear deal in tatters, one consequence of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has been to push Iran to renege on aspects of the deal, from which the U.S. has already long since withdrawn. The goal, by all appearances, is to use Iran’s plan to breach parts of the deal as justification for further aggressive actions against the country by claiming that such breaches, instead of a response to U.S.-led economic warfare, are a sign of an intention to develop nuclear weapons.

With waivers for the purchases of Iranian oil now ending and Iran’s president announcing that Iran will end compliance with some aspects of the deal if Europeans do not find a meaningful workaround for U.S. sanctions, the Trump administration — and the Iran hawks within — seem to have their ducks in a row.

While there has long been concern about a U.S.-Iran conflict, several situations have arisen that have made this push for a regime-change conflict with Iran of extreme importance to both U.S. and Israeli interests in the region.

For instance, Syria’s government is set to take the Idlib province, after which Syria will turn its attention towards the Israel-controlled Golan Heights and the U.S.-occupied area of northeastern Syria. Israel was revealed to be the “brains” behind the Syria conflict and has been actively preparing for hostilities with Syria and nearby Lebanon since last year, following the failure to overthrow Syria’s government. Syria holds a mutual defense pact with Iran, meaning that it will join a conflict with Iran if Iran is threatened, thus preventing Syria’s government from focusing its efforts on retaking areas occupied by the U.S. and Israel.

If the U.S. and Israel wait until Syria consolidates control over Idlib, they will be facing a much stronger adversary in Iran’s closest regional ally than one distracted by a pocket of Al Qaeda-dominated terrorist groups in its north.

Yet, the clearest indicator that the push for war is very much in earnest is the intention of Netanyahu to effectively destroy Palestine. Several analysts, including ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, have long maintained that Israel’s and Netanyahu’s main reason for wanting a war with Iran is to “have Iran bloodied the same way we did to Iraq” so that Iran “would no longer be able to support Hamas and Hezbollah in Gaza, Lebanon, and elsewhere.” In other words, Netanyahu wants Iran out of the picture so it can no longer provide material or financial support to groups that resist Israeli occupation.

Having won reelection in part because of his promise to annex the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu worries that Iran and its regional allies will strongly oppose that annexation and may even go to war over it, particularly if the fate of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem is threatened. Now, with the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” also set to be made public in less than a month, that deal’s push to enable the annexation is also threatened by the regional bloc led by Iran that still supports Palestine. If Netanyahu is able to eliminate Iran as a regional power, he will have eliminated the greatest single threat to both his plans for complete annexation and the enactment of the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century.”

With top officials in the U.S. government and much of the media failing to push back, Netanyahu finally has a window of opportunity — albeit one that is shrinking — to push the U.S. to war with Iran and it appears that he, along with his allies in the Trump administration, plans on taking it.

As Part II of this series will show, Israel’s government and Bush-era neo-conservatives have a track record of enacting and planning “false flag” attacks to embroil the U.S. in foreign wars and that playbook would include provoking the U.S. into a war with Iran.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

How Madeleine Albright Got the War the U.S. Wanted

By Gregory Elich | Global Research | May 13, 2019

Twenty years have passed since the U.S.-orchestrated NATO attack on Yugoslavia. As the United States readied its forces for war in 1999, it organized a peace conference that was ostensibly intended to resolve differences between the Yugoslav government and secessionist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo on the future status of the province. A different scenario was being played out behind the scenes, however. U.S. officials wanted war and deliberately set up the process to fail, which they planned to use as a pretext for war.

The talks opened on February 6, 1999, in Rambouillet, France. Officially, the negotiations were led by a Contact Group comprised of U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill, European Union envoy Wolfgang Petritsch, and Russian diplomat Boris Mayorsky. All decisions were supposed to be jointly agreed upon by all three members of the Contact Group. In actual practice, the U.S. ran the show all the way and routinely bypassed Petritsch and Mayorsky on essential matters.

Ibrahim Rugova, an ethnic Albanian activist who advocated nonviolence, was expected to play a major role in the Albanian secessionist delegation. Joining him at Rambouillet was Fehmi Agani, a fellow member of Rugova’s Democratic League of Kosovo.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright regularly sidelined Rugova, however, preferring to rely on delegation members from the hardline Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had routinely murdered Serbs, Roma, and Albanians in Kosovo who worked for the government or opposed separatism. Only a few months before the conference, KLA spokesman Bardhyl Mahmuti spelled out his organization’s vision of a future Kosovo as separate and ethnically pure: “The independence of Kosovo is the only solution… We cannot live together. That is excluded.” [1]

Rugova had at one time engaged in fairly productive talks with Yugoslav officials, and his willingness to negotiate was no doubt precisely the reason Albright relegated him to a background role. Yugoslav Minister of Information Milan Komnenić accompanied the Yugoslav delegation to Rambouillet. He recalls, “With Rugova and Fehmi Agani it was possible to talk; they were flexible. In Rambouillet, [KLA leader Hashim] Thaçi appears instead of Rugova. A beast.” [2] There was no love between Thaçi and Rugova, whose party members were the targets of threats and assassination attempts at the hands of the KLA. Rugova himself would survive an assassination attempt six years later.

The composition of the Yugoslav delegation reflected its position that many ethnic groups resided in Kosovo, and any agreement arrived at should take into account the interests of all parties. All of Kosovo’s major ethnic groups were represented in the delegation. Faik Jashari, one of the Albanian members in the Yugoslav delegation, was president of the Kosovo Democratic Initiative and an official in the Provisional Executive Council, which was Yugoslavia’s government in Kosovo. Jashari observed that Albright was startled when she saw the composition of the Yugoslav delegation, apparently because it went against the U.S. propaganda narrative. [3] Throughout the talks, Albright displayed a dismissive attitude towards the delegation’s Albanian, Roma, Egyptian, Goran, Turkish, and Slavic Muslim members.

U.S. mediators habitually referred to the Yugoslav delegation as “the Serbs,” even though they constituted a minority of the members. The Americans persisted in trying to cast events in Kosovo as a simplistic binary relationship of Serb versus Albanian, disregarding the presence of other ethnic groups in the province, and ignoring the fact that while some ethnic Albanians favored separation, others wished to remain in multiethnic Yugoslavia.

After arriving at Rambouillet, the secessionist Albanian delegation informed U.S. diplomats that it did not want to meet with the Yugoslav side. Aside from a brief ceremonial meeting, there was no direct contact between the two groups. The Yugoslav and Albanian delegations were placed on two different floors to eliminate nearly all contact. U.S. mediators Richard Holbrooke and Christopher Hill ran from one delegation to the other, conveying notes and verbal messages between the two sides but mostly trying to coerce the Yugoslav delegation. [4]

Luan Koka, a Roma member of the Yugoslav delegation, noted that the U.S. was operating an electronic jamming device. “We knew exactly when Madeleine Albright was coming. Connections on our mobile phones were breaking up and going crazy.” [5] It is probable that the U.S. was also operating electronic listening equipment and that U.S. mediators knew everything the delegations were saying in private.

Albright, Jashari said, would not listen to anyone. “She had her task, and she saw only that task. You couldn’t say anything to her. She didn’t want to talk with us and didn’t want to listen to our arguments.” [6]

One day it was Koka’s birthday, and the Yugoslav delegation wanted to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere with U.S. mediators, inviting them to a cocktail party to mark the occasion. “It was a slightly more pleasant atmosphere, and I was singing,” Koka recalled. “I remember Madeleine Albright saying: ‘I really like partisan songs. But if you don’t accept this, the bombs will fall.’” [7] According to delegation member Nikola Šainović, “Madeleine Albright told us all the time: ‘If the Yugoslav delegation does not accept what we offer, you will be bombed.’” Šainović added, “We agreed in Rambouillet to any form of autonomy for Kosovo,” but sovereignty remained the red line. [8]

From the beginning of the conference, U.S. mediator Christopher Hill “decided that what we really needed was an Albanian approval of a document, and a Serb refusal. If both refused, there could be no further action by NATO or any other organization for that matter.” [9] It was not peace that the U.S. team was seeking, but war.

As the conference progressed, U.S. negotiators were faced with an alarming problem, in that the Yugoslav delegation had accepted all of the Contact Group’s fundamental political principles for an agreement, balking only at a NATO presence in Kosovo. On the other hand, the secessionist delegation rejected the Contact Group’s political principles. Something had to be done to reverse this pattern.

On the second day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the Yugoslav delegation with the framework text of a provisional agreement for peace and self-rule in Kosovo, but it was missing some of the annexes. The Yugoslavs requested a copy of the complete document. As delegation head Ratko Marković pointed out, “Any objections to the text of the agreement could be made only after an insight into the text as a whole had been obtained.” Nearly one week passed before the group received one of the missing annexes. That came on the day the conference had originally been set to end. The deadline was extended, and two days later a second missing annex was provided to the Yugoslav delegation.[10]

When the Yugoslavs next met with the Contact Group, they were assured that all elements of the text had now been given to them. Several more days passed and at 7:00 PM on February 22, the penultimate day of the conference, the Contact Group presented three new annexes, which the Yugoslavs had never seen before. According to Marković, “Russian Ambassador Boris Mayorsky informed our delegation that Annexes 2 and 7 had not been discussed or approved by the Contact Group and that they were not the texts drafted by the Contact Group but by certain Contact Group members, while Annex 5 was discussed, but no decision was made on it at the Contact Group meeting.” The Yugoslav delegation refused to accept the new annexes, as their introduction had violated the process whereby all proposals had to be agreed upon by the three Contact Group members. [11]

At 9:30 AM on February 23, the final day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the full text of the proposal, containing yet more provisions that were being communicated for the first time. The accompanying note identified the package as the definitive text while adding that Russia did not support two of the articles. The letter demanded the Yugoslav delegation’s decision by 1:00 PM that same day.[12] There was barely time enough to carefully read the text, let alone negotiate. In essence, it was an ultimatum.

Quite intentionally, U.S. mediators included provisions in the final version of the text that no sovereign nation could be expected to accept. Neoliberal economic interests are always front and center when U.S. officials are involved, and they surely were not unaware of Kosovo’s abundant reserves of mineral resources, ripe for exploitation. The first point in Article 1 of the Economic Issues section of the text states: “The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles.” Western investors were favored with a provision stating that authorities shall “ensure the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital to Kosovo, including from international sources.” [13] One may wonder what these stipulations had to do with peace negotiations, but then the talks had far more to do with U.S. interests than anything to do with the needs of the people in the region.

The document called for a Western-led Joint Commission including local representatives to monitor and coordinate the implementation of the plan. However, if commission members failed to reach consensus on a matter, the Western-appointed Chair would have the power to impose his decision unilaterally. [14] Local representatives would serve as little more than window-dressing for Western dictate, as they could adopt no measure that went against the Chair’s wishes.

The Chair of the Implementation Mission was authorized to “recommend” the “removal and appointment of officials and the curtailment of operations of existing institutions in Kosovo.” If the Chair’s command was not obeyed “in the time requested, the Joint Commission may decide to take the recommended action,” and since the Chair had the authority to impose his will on the Joint Commission, there was no check on his power. He could remove elected and appointed officials at will and replace them with handpicked lackeys. The Chair was also authorized to order the “curtailment of operations of existing institutions.” [15] Any organization that failed to bend to U.S. demands could be shut down.

Chapter 7 of the plan called for the parties to “invite NATO to constitute and lead a military force” in Kosovo. [16] The choice of words was interesting. In language reminiscent of gangsters, Yugoslavia was told to “invite” NATO to take over the province of Kosovo or suffer the consequences.

Yugoslavia was required “to provide, at no cost, the use of all facilities and services required” by NATO. [17] Within six months, Yugoslavia would have to withdraw all of its military forces from Kosovo, other than a small number of border guards. [18]

The plan granted NATO “unrestricted use of the entire electromagnetic spectrum” to “communicate.” Although the document indicated NATO would make “reasonable efforts to coordinate,” there were no constraints on its power. [19] Yugoslav officials, “upon simple request,” would be required to grant NATO “all telecommunication services, including broadcast services…free of cost.” [20] NATO could take over any radio and television facilities and transmission wavelengths it chose, knocking local stations off the air.

The plan did not restrict NATO’s presence to Kosovo. It granted NATO, with its “vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia].” [21] NATO would be “granted the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tools, or charges.” [22]

The agreement guaranteed that NATO would have “complete and unimpeded freedom of movement by ground, air, and water into and throughout Kosovo.” Furthermore, NATO personnel could not be held “liable for any damages to public or private property.” [23] NATO as a whole would also be “immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative, or criminal,” regardless of its actions anywhere on the territory of Yugoslavia. [24] Nor could NATO personnel be arrested, detained, or investigated. [25]

Acceptance of the plan would have brought NATO troops swarming throughout Yugoslavia and interfering in every institution.

There were several other objectionable elements in the plan, but one that stood out was the call for an “international” (meaning, Western-led) meeting to be held after three years “to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo.” [26] It was no mystery to the Yugoslav delegation what conclusion Western officials would arrive at in that meeting. The intent was clearly to redraw Yugoslavia’s borders to further break apart the nation.

U.S. officials knew the Yugoslav delegation could not possibly accept such a plan. “We deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept,” Madeleine Albright confided to a group of journalists, “because they needed a little bombing.” [27]

At a meeting in Belgrade on March 5, the Yugoslav delegation issued a statement which declared: “A great deceit was looming, orchestrated by the United States. They demanded that the agreement be signed, even though much of this agreement, that is, over 56 pages, had never been discussed, either within the Contact Group or during the negotiations.” [28]

Serbian President Milan Milutinović announced at a press conference that in Rambouillet the Yugoslav delegation had “proposed solutions meeting the demands of the Contact Group for broad autonomy within Serbia, advocating full equality of all national communities.” But “agreement was not what they were after.” Instead, Western officials engaged in “open aggression,” and this was a game “about troops and troops alone.” [29]

While U.S. officials were working assiduously to avoid a peaceful resolution, they needed the Albanians to agree to the plan so that they could accuse the Yugoslav delegation of being the stumbling block to peace. U.S. mainstream media could be counted on to unquestioningly repeat the government’s line and overlook who the real architects of failure were. U.S. officials knew the media would act in their customary role as cheerleaders for war, which indeed, they did.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook revealed the nature of the message Western officials were conveying to the Albanian delegation when he said, “We are certainly saying to the Kosovo Albanians that if you don’t sign up to these texts, it’s extremely difficult to see how NATO could then take action against Belgrade.” [30] Western officials were practically begging the secessionists to sign the plan. According to inside sources, the Americans assured the Albanian delegation that disarmament of the KLA would be merely symbolic and that it could keep the bulk of its weaponry so long as it was concealed. [31]

Albright spent hours trying to convince Thaçi to change his mind, telling him: “If you say yes and the Serbs say no, NATO will strike and go on striking until the Serb forces are out and NATO can go in. You will have security. And you will be able to govern yourselves.” [32] That was a clear enough signal that the intent was to rip the province away from Yugoslavia and create an artificial state. Despite such assurances, Thaçi feared the wrath of fellow KLA members if he were to sign a document that did not explicitly call for separation. When U.S. negotiators asked Thaçi why he would not sign, he responded: “If I agree to this, I will go home and they will kill me.” [33] This was not hyperbole. The KLA had threatened and murdered a great many Albanians who in its eyes fell short of full-throated support for its policy of violent secession and ethnic exclusion.

Even NATO Commander Wesley Clark, who flew in from Belgium, was unable to change Thaçi’s mind. [34] U.S. officials were exasperated with the Albanian delegation, and its recalcitrance threatened to capsize plans for war. “Rambouillet was supposed to be about putting the screws to Belgrade,” a senior U.S. official said. “But it went off the rails because of the miscalculation we made about the Albanians.” [35]

On the last day at Rambouillet, it was agreed that the Albanian delegation would return to Kosovo for discussions with fellow KLA leaders on the need to sign the document. In the days that followed, Western officials paid repeated visits to Kosovo to encourage the Albanians to sign.

So-called “negotiations” reconvened in Paris on March 15. Upon its arrival, the Yugoslav delegation objected that it was “incomprehensible” that “no direct talks between the two delegations had been facilitated.” In response to the Yugoslavs’ proposal for modifications to the plan, the Contact Group informed them that no changes would be accepted. The document must be accepted as a whole. [36]

The Yugoslav position, delegation head Ratko Marković maintained, was that “first one needs to determine what is to be implemented, and only then to determine the methods of implementation.” [37] The delegation asked the Americans what there was to talk about regarding implementation “when there was no agreement because the Albanians did not accept anything.” U.S. officials responded that the Yugoslav delegation “cannot negotiate,” adding that it would only be allowed to make grammatical changes to the text. [38]

From the U.S. perspective, the presence of the Yugoslav delegation in Paris was irrelevant other than to maintain the pretense that negotiations were taking place. Not permitted to negotiate, there was little the Yugoslavs could do but await the inevitable result, which soon came. The moment U.S. officials obtained the Albanian delegation’s signatures to the plan on March 18, they aborted the Paris Conference. There was no reason to continue engaging with the Yugoslav delegation, as the U.S. had what it needed: a pretext for war.

On the day after the U.S. pulled the plug on the Paris talks, Milan Milutinović held a press conference in the Yugoslav embassy, condemning the Paris meeting as “a kind of show,” which was meant “to deceive public opinion in the whole world.” [39]

While the United States and its NATO allies prepared for war, Yugoslavia was making last-ditch efforts to stave off attack, including reaching out to intermediaries. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos contacted Madeleine Albright and told her that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević had offered to engage in further negotiations. But Albright told him that the decision to bomb had already been made. “In fact,” Pangalos reported, “she told me to ‘desist, you’re just being a nuisance.’” [40] In a final act of desperation to save the people from bombing, Milutinović contacted Christopher Hill and made an extraordinary offer: Yugoslavia would join NATO if the United States would allow Yugoslavia to remain whole, including the province of Kosovo. Hill responded that this was not a topic for discussion and he would not talk about it. [41]

Madeleine Albright got her war, which brought death, destruction, and misery to Yugoslavia. But NATO had a new role, and the United States further extended its hegemony over the Balkans.

In the years following the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, NATO was intent on redefining its mission. The absence of the socialist bloc presented NATO not only with the need to construct a new rationale for existence but also with the opportunity to expand Western domination over other nations.

Bosnia offered the first opportunity for NATO to begin its transformation, as it took part in a war that presented no threat to member nations.

Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations in Africa. Despite NATO’s claim that it is “committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes,” the record shows otherwise.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 3 Comments

Fox News contributor calls for destruction of Palestine

Ma’an – May 13, 2019

BETHLEHEM – An American author and Fox News contributor called for Palestine to be “flattened” on Twitter after Israeli warplanes carried out over 300 airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, claiming the lives of 27 Palestinians, including an infant and a toddler.

Last week, Janie Johnson, posted a tweet on her personal Twitter account, in which she advocated for the complete destruction of Palestine and genocide of its people, suggesting no one “would miss it.”

Johnson’s tweet that has since been deleted, read, “Can we flatten Palestine already? Who would miss it?”

Johnson was responding to a tweet by an Israeli journalist, who was describing how “fearful” the situation was during the escalation between Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Although Johnson removed the tweet, social media users condemned her genocidal rhetoric, with many mentioning they reported it on Twitter.

One social media user posted, “What type of person do you have to be to straight up advocate for genocide?,” while another wrote, “Fox News contributor deleted this tweet calling for literal genocide.”

Another user responded, “Ms. Johnson, with her 208K followers, calls for genocide against the defenseless Palestinians. It is deeply disappointing how well hate and racism sells in America.”
Fox News has not yet commented on the matter.

Johnson’s tweet came after Israeli warplanes carried out 340 airstrikes across the besieged Gaza Strip, killing a total of 27 Palestinians, including a four-month-old infant, 14-month-old toddler, and two pregnant mothers, and at least 154 others were injured, while the Hamas movement launched over 600 rockets into southern Israel.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s common denominator: Why Israel will continue to bomb Gaza

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | May 13, 2019

On May 4, Israel launched a series of deadly airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip, prompting a response from various resistance groups. At least 25 Palestinians were killed and nearly 200 people wounded in the Israeli attacks. Four Israelis were also killed by Palestinian rockets.

The clashes were instigated by Israel, when the Israeli military killed four Palestinians in Gaza on May 3. Two were killed while protesting along the fence separating Gaza from Israel. They were participating in the Great March of Return, a protracted Palestinian non-violent protest demanding an end to the Israeli siege. The other two were killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a Hamas post in the central Gaza Strip.

Why did Netanyahu choose such timing to bomb Gaza? It would have made more sense to attack Gaza in the run-up to the general elections. For months before the April 9 elections, Netanyahu was repeatedly accused of being soft on Hamas.

Although desperate for votes, Netanyahu refrained from a major operation against Gaza, because of the inherent risk in such attacks, as seen in the botched Israeli incursion into Khan Younis on November 11. Netanyahu could have lost a highly contested election, had he failed.

Following a victory, the soon-to-be longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister has the necessary political capital to launch wars at whim.

Israeli politics featured heavily in the latest Gaza onslaught.

Netanyahu is in the final stages of forming a new coalition, yet another government of the like-minded far right, religious zealots and ultra-nationalist politicians which, he admits, is not easy.

“It’s not a simple job, and there are different aspects – giving out portfolios, control over the state budget and many other challenges,” Netanyahu said at a Likud party meeting on April 30.

If Netanyahu succeeds, he will form his fifth government – 4 of them consecutively. However, his main challenge is to reconcile among the various potential coalition partners.

Netanyahu wishes to include six parties in his new government: his own, the Likud, with 35 seats in the Israeli Knesset (parliament); religious extremist parties: Shas (8 places), United Torah Judaism (8), Yisrael Beiteinu of ultra-nationalist, Avigdor Lieberman (5), the newly-formed Union of Right-wing Parties (5) and the centrist Kulanu with 4 seats.

“Netanyahu is keen to include all six parties in his government to provide a semblance of stability and prevent a narrow majority that will be at the mercy of a single disgruntled party threatening to quit,” reported the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post newspaper.

But how is Netanyahu to maintain peace among vastly different allies and how is that relevant to the bombing of Gaza?

Netanyahu bombed Gaza because it is the only unifying demand among all of his allies. He needed to assure them of his commitment to keeping the pressure on Palestinian Resistance, of maintaining the siege on Gaza and ensuring the safety of Israel’s southern towns and settlements.

Barring that, there is little that these groups have in common. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu and the ultra-Orthodox parties barely agree on some fundamental issues. For example, Lieberman has been pushing for a draft law requiring ultra-Orthodox conscription in the Israeli army, vehemently rejected by Netanyahu’s religious allies.

Although the election performance of Lieberman’s party was hardly impressive, his influence goes beyond numbers. Lieberman had resigned his post as a Defense Minister last November in protest of Netanyahu’s supposed “capitulation to terror”, but he has formed a strong alliance with Israel’s southern towns bordering the besieged Gaza Strip.

For years, Lieberman has expressed solidarity with them and, in return, has manipulated this whenever he wishes to pressure or challenge the Prime Minister.

Lieberman has exploited the notion among residents and settlers in southern Israel and the Occupied West Bank that they are being mistreated compared to their compatriots elsewhere.

Gaza after Israeli strikes on 5 May, 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Gaza after Israeli strikes on 5 May, 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Following a truce between Israel and Gaza factions last November, for example, hundreds of settlers protested their “second class status”, demanding greater government support to protect their “security” against Gaza. Interestingly, these border towns have been at the centre of a significant economic and demographic growth over the last few years, which has been stimulated by the Israeli government’s investments in the area.

Seeing themselves as the heirs to the Zionist founders of Israel, residents of these towns believe that they are the defenders of the Zionist vision.

Despite their continuous complaints, southern Israeli communities have seen constant growth in economic opportunity, thus population. This fact has placed these areas at the centre of Israeli politicians’ radar, all trying to win favour with their leaders and obtain the support of their vastly expanding economic sectors.

This recent electoral strength has made the demands and expectations of Israeli southern community leaders a focal point in mainstream Israeli politics.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that one of the conditions placed by Lieberman to join Netanyahu’s coalition is the intensification of the Israeli siege on Gaza and the liquidation of the Gaza resistance.

Although Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White Party, has lost the elections, he wishes to stay relevant in mainstream politics by appeasing to Jewish settlers and residents of southern Israel. During the Israeli army’s attack on Gaza on 4 May, Gantz joined the chorus calling for more Palestinian blood.

“We must strike hard, in an uncompromising manner, in any way the army will recommend, with military and intelligence considerations,” he told Israeli Channel 13. “We must restore the deterrence that has been eroded catastrophically for more than a year.”

Following the death of 4 Israelis as a result of Gaza rockets, Israeli politicians jockeyed to show support for southern residents, demanding yet more violence. The euphoria of support inspired the mayor of Sderot, Alon Davidi, to call for the invasion of Gaza.

The latest attack on Gaza was meant to serve the interests of all of Netanyahu’s possible coalition partners. Alas, although a truce has been declared, more Israeli violence should be expected once the coalition is formed because, for Netanyahu to keep his partners happy, he would need to keep pounding Gaza persistently.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Antisemitism is now a mass movement in Britain

By Gilad Atzmon | May 13, 2019

It seems as if British Jewish pressure groups have achieved their goal: anti-Semitism is now a mass movement in the UK. The rabid Zionist Algemeiner reports that “Antisemitism and virulent Israel-hatred were rife on Saturday at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London.”

The Jewish press seems to be upset by a pro-Palestinian march that assembled at the offices of the BBC, not too far from a synagogue. I guess that the rationale is simple: once London is dotted with synagogues, human rights enthusiasts will be pushed out of the city. They will have to gather somewhere out of the green belt.

Jewish outlets complain that participants brandished ‘antisemitic badges and placards,’ such as “Israel provokes anti-Semitism.” I am puzzled. Is this really an anti-Semitic statement? If anything, it is an attempt to identify the cause of anti-Semitism.

Jewish outlets are also upset by images of the Star of David crossed with a swastika. To start with, those who equate Israel with Nazi Germany actually contemplate the memory of the Holocaust and are by no means ‘deniers.’ I guess that the time is ripe for Zionists and supporters of Israel to accept that in consideration of the ongoing Israeli racist crime in Palestine, the Star of David has become a symbol of evil in the eyes of many.

The Jewish press is upset by the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” that calls for Israel’s destruction. I would actually expect Jews who seem to be upset by the Hitlerian concept of an ‘Aryans-only state’ to accept that the concept of a ‘Jews-only state’ is equally disturbing.’ They should support Israel becoming ‘a state of its citizens’ and accept that sooner or later this state will evolve into Palestine, from the river to the sea.

The Jewish press is totally irritated by Jewish Voice for Labour’s Secretary Glyn Secker, who claimed that pro-Israel Labour officials were a “fifth column” in the party and asked, “What on earth are Jews doing in the gutter with these rats?” I would remind my readers that Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is itself a Jewish racist exclusive political body that wouldn’t accept non-Jews into its ranks. I have wondered more than once how it is possible that the anti-racist Jeremy Corbyn is willing to be associated with such a body. However, in his statement (if quoted correctly by the Jewish press),  secretary Glyn Secker actually expresses the most disturbing tribal supremacist view. He looks down at a bunch of labour MPs whom he labels ‘rats’ and call for his Jewish brethren to disassociate from these low creatures. Glyn, in practice, sustains the Jew/Goy binary divide. He should actually receive the Kosher weekly award rather than be abused by the Zionist league.

But we can be reassured. Campaign Against Antisemitism has already confirmed that they are “reviewing the evidence that we gathered today. Where crimes have been committed, we will work with the authorities to ensure that there are arrests and prosecutions.”

The facts on the ground are undeniable. The more Jewish bodies campaign against anti-Semitism the more opposition to Jewish politics is detected. The relentless Zionist campaign against Corbyn didn’t hurt him, as he is still leading in most national election polls. Branding Nigel Farage as an anti-Semite didn’t touch the man whose party is polling higher than the Tories and Labour combined in the coming European Parliament election. One way to look at it is to argue that Brits are not moved by the Jewish anti-Semitism hysteria. Another way to look at it is to conclude that Brits are actually grossly disturbed by the anti-Semitism frenzy. Being hated by the Zionist lobby has become a badge of honour, an entry ticket to Britain’s political premiership.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 3 Comments

Assessment by the engineering sub-team of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission investigating the alleged chemical attack in Douma in April 2018

1 Introduction

In our Briefing note on the Final Report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission on the Douma incident, we noted that the FFM had sought assessments in October 2018 from unidentified engineering experts on the “the trajectory and damage to the cylinders found at Locations 2 and 4”. The Final Report provided no explanation for why the FFM had not sought engineering assessments in April 2018, when the experts could have inspected the sites with cylinders in position, rather than six months later when inspection of the sites with cylinders in position was no longer possible and the assessments had to rely on images and measurements obtained by others. We raised this as an obvious anomaly.

OPCW staff members have communicated with the Working Group. We have learned that an investigation was undertaken by an engineering sub-team of the FFM, beginning with on-site inspections in April-May 2018, followed by a detailed engineering analysis including collaboration on computer modelling studies with two European universities. The report of this investigation was excluded from the published Final Report of the Fact-Finding Mission, which referred only to assessments sought from unidentified “engineering experts” commissioned in October 2018 and obtained in December 2018.

A copy of a 15-page Executive Summary of this report with the title “Engineering Assessment of two cylinders observed at the Douma incident” has been passed to us and we have posted it here. Please download and share this document via your own server if you link to it, so as not to overload our server.

We are studying this document, and encourage others with relevant expertise to contribute. We provide some initial comments below:

2 Commentary on the Engineering Assessment

The report is signed by Ian Henderson, who is listed as one of the first P-5 level inspection team leaders trained at OPCW in a report dated 1998. We have confirmed that as the engineering expert on the FFM, Henderson was assigned to lead the investigation of the cylinders and alleged impact sites at Locations 2 and 4. We understand that “TM” in the handwritten annotation denotes Team Members of the FFM.

In response to an enquiry on 11 May 2019, the OPCW press office stated that “the individual mentioned in the document has never been a member of the FFM”. This statement is false. The engineering sub-team could not have been carrying out studies in Douma at Locations 2 and 4 unless they had been notified by OPCW to the Syrian National Authority (the body that oversees compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention) as FFM inspectors: it is unlikely that Henderson arrived on a tourist visa.

The OPCW press office also attempted to suggest that the report of the engineering sub-team was not part of the FFM’s investigation. This statement also is false. The sub-team report refers to external collaborators and consultants: we understand that this included two European universities. This external collaboration on such a sensitive matter could not have gone ahead unless it had been authorised: otherwise Henderson would have been dismissed instantly for breach of confidentiality. We can therefore be confident that the preparation of the report had received the necessary authorisation within OPCW. What happened after the report was written is another matter.

2.1 Methodology

As we have repeatedly emphasized, evidence can be evaluated only by comparison of competing hypotheses. This is a corollary of the likelihood principle, which can be derived from simple rules of logical consistency.

We noted that a key weakness of the published Final Report was that no competing hypotheses were considered. Thus the Final Report stated that engineering experts were asked to provide assessments of the “trajectory” of each of the two cylinders found: implying that they were not asked to assess whether the holes in the roof and the positions of the cylinders could be accounted for by anything other than cylinders being dropped from the sky.

The FFM’s Engineering Assessment does not make this error: competing hypotheses are clearly set out in advance.

  • For Location 2 (cylinder on roof terrace lying over a hole), the alternative hypotheses are stated as:
    • (2-1) the cylinder containing liquid chlorine was dropped from an aircraft, pierced the roof to form the hole and the impact fractured the valve causing release of chlorine.
    • (2-2) the cylinder was placed on the terrace next to a pre-existing crater
  • For Location 4 (cylinder on bed), the alternative hypothesis are stated as:
    • (4-1) the cylinder fitted with frame and fins was dropped from an aircraft, pierced the roof to form the hole, fell through the hole and was deflected laterally to end up on the bed, while the valve remained intact
    • (4-2) the cylinder fitted with frame and fins pierced the roof as for hypothesis (1), landed on the floor below the hole and was placed on the bed
    • (4-3) the cylinder fitted with frame and fins was placed on the bed, and the hole in the roof was created (by unspecified means) either before or after the cylinder was placed on the bed

2.2 Results: Location 2

  • An impact angle of approximately 20 degrees from the vertical “was found to be required for results to bear any resemblance to observations”
  • A concrete slab could not have stopped a cylinder falling at such an angle from a height of at least 500 metres. The front of the cylinder showed no sign of interaction with the concrete slab.
  • If the cylinder had been stopped by the steel reinforcing bars (rebars), this would have left indents on the cylinder, but no such indents were observed.
  • Modelling the impact of a falling cylinder could not reproduce the bending of the rebars to an angle of more than 90 degrees to point away from the impact. This was more consistent with an explosive blast.

The results of the modelling studies were summarized with the following sentence:

All the elements listed above point to the conclusion that the alleged impact event or events leading to observed vessel deformation and concrete damage were not compatible.

A criss-cross pattern on the paintwork of the cylinder body, that had been attributed by some observers to the cylinder falling through the wire mesh, was inconsistent with the near-vertical angle of incidence that would have been required to create the crater.

Experts consulted to assess the appearance of the crater took the view that it was more consistent with a blast (from a mortar round or rocket artillery) than with an impact from the falling object. Similar craters were present in concrete slabs on top of nearby buildings.

The mangled remains of the steel frame and fins found on the terrace were not consistent with the appearance of the cylinder, which showed no signs of having been fitted with such a frame or of the frame having been stripped from the cylinder as a result of impact.

2.3 Results: Location 4

  • The analysis of Location 4, where a cylinder was found on a bed, showed that the cylinder with intact valve and fins attached could not have fitted through the hole in the roof:

it was not possible to establish a set of circumstances where the post-deformation cylinder could fit through the crater with the valve still intact (whether or not an end-cap was assumed to have been fitted at the front end of the cylinder), and the fins deformed in the manner observed.

2.4 Conclusions of the Engineering Assessment

In summary:

  • The analysis at Location 4 showed simply that the cylinder with fins and valve attached could not have fitted through the hole.
  • The analysis at Location 2, using finite element analysis and computer simulation, was more complicated. This showed that the concrete slab could not have stopped the cylinder, that if the cylinder had been stopped by the rebars there would have been indents on the cylinder, and that an impact could not have bent the rebars through more than 90 degrees to point away from the impact location.

We note that several of the anomalies reported by the Engineering Assessment have been identified independently from open source images by members of the Working Group: these include the inability to fit the cylinder through the hole at Location 4, the presence of similar craters on nearby buildings at Location 2, and the incompatibility of the criss-cross pattern on the paintwork of the cylinder with a fall through wire mesh.

The results from both locations are summarized in paragraph 32:

The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft. In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.

3 Implications of the Engineering Assessment combined with other findings

The conclusion of the Engineering Assessment is unequivocal: the alternative hypothesis that the cylinders were manually placed in position is “the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene”.

Our last Briefing Note listed two other key findings:

  • It is no longer seriously disputed that the hospital scene was staged: there are multiple eyewitness reports supported by video evidence
  • The case fatality rate of 100%, with no attempt by the victims to escape, is unlike any recorded chlorine attack.

Taken together, these findings establish beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018 was staged.

This raises the question of where and how did the 35 victims seen in the images recorded at location 2 die? The images show signs of acute inhalation injury with blood and mucus flowing from the nose and mouth of most victims. Even though faces had apparently been washed to remove most of the mucus, yellow staining of the skin remained.

A few weeks before the release of the Final Report, two journalists appeared to suggest that there had been an earlier chemical attack somewhere else in Douma, perhaps attempting to prepare a fallback position in case the Final Report were to indicate that the scenes at Location 2 and 4 had been staged. This is to say the least an implausible explanation of the staging at Locations 2 and 4 – why move the bodies of the victims to Location 2 for a staged scene, rather than show the real chemical attack scene if there was one?

As emphasized above, in a real chemical attack with chlorine or any other irritant gas, most victims would try to escape and non-fatal cases requiring prolonged hospital treatment would far outnumber fatal cases. The images of the victims seen at Location 2 show that they were evidently exposed to an irritant gas but were unable to escape. A careful examination of these images leaves little doubt that the victims were murdered as captives. The staining of the victims’ faces by mucus flowing from their noses and mouths shows in at least some cases the mucus flowed up their faces towards the eyes. This implies that they were hung upside down while exposed to the agent. Bizarrely, the eyes of most victims appear to have been masked so that the eyes were not affected by gas or mucus. In a few victims there are visible strap marks suggesting that the eyes were protected by something like swimming goggles. A possible motive for masking the eyes may have been to make it less obvious that the victims had suffered prolonged exposure to an irritant gas.

We conclude that the staging of the Douma incident entailed mass murder of at least 35 civilians to provide the bodies at Location 2. It follows from this that people dressed as White Helmets and endorsed by the leadership of that organization had a key role in this murder.

We note that the Douma incident was the first alleged chemical attack in Syria where OPCW investigators were able to carry out an unimpeded on-site inspection. Since 2014, OPCW Fact-Finding Missions investigating alleged chemical attacks in opposition-held territory have relied for evidence on witnesses and materials collected by opposition-linked NGOs of doubtful provenance, including the CBRN Task Force, the Chemical Violations Documentation Centre Syria, and the White Helmets. Even for the investigation of the Ghouta incident in 2013, the OPCW-WHO mission was able to visit the the alleged attack sites for only a few hours, and was under the close supervision of the armed opposition. For those who until now have been prepared to accept the findings of OPCW Fact-Finding Missions that did not include on-site inspections, the finding that the Douma incident was staged, based on a careful on-site inspection, should cast doubt on the findings of these earlier Missions.

4 The hijacking of OPCW

In our last Briefing Note, we concluded by asserting that “It is doubtful whether [OPCW’s] reputation as an impartial monitor of compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention can be restored without radical reform of its governance and working practices”. The new information we have removes all doubt that the organization has been hijacked at the top by France, UK and the US. We have no doubt that most OPCW staff continue to do their jobs professionally, and that some who are uneasy about the direction that the organization has taken nevertheless wish to protect its reputation. However what is at stake here is more than the reputation of the organization: the staged incident in Douma provoked a missile attack by the US, UK and France on 14 April 2018 that could have led to all-out war.

The cover-up of evidence that the Douma incident was staged is not merely misconduct. As the staging of the Douma incident entailed mass murder of civilians, those in OPCW who have suppressed the evidence of staging are, unwittingly or otherwise, colluding with mass murder. We think that in most jurisdictions the legal duty to disclose the cover-up of such a crime would override any confidentiality agreement with an employer. We would welcome legal opinions on this, given publicly, by those with relevant expertise. OPCW employees have to sign a strict confidentiality agreement, and face instant dismissal and loss of pension rights if they breach this agreement. We would welcome any initiative to set up a legal defence fund for OPCW staff members who come forward publicly as whistleblowers.

5 Acknowledgements

We thank the OPCW staff members who have communicated with us at considerable personal risk. We undertake to protect the identities of any sources who communicate with us. Emails to our protonmail addresses, if sent from another protonmail account (free to set up), are secure. We thank also the other open-source investigators and journalists who publicly questioned the official line on the Douma incident and thus created the climate for OPCW staff members to come forward.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment

Iran: Preparing the ‘Battle Space’

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 13, 2019

Bernard Lewis, a British-American historian of the Middle East, has been formidably influential in America – his policy ideas have towered over Presidents, policy-makers and think-tanks, and they still do. Though he died last year, his baleful views still shape America’s thinking about Iran. Mike Pompeo, for example, has written: “I met him only once, but read much of what he wrote. I owe a great deal of my understanding of the Middle East to his work … He was also a man who believed, as I do, that Americans must be more confident in the greatness of our country, not less”.

The “Bernard Lewis plan”, as it came to be known, was a design to fracture all the countries in the region – from the Middle East to India – along ethnic, sectarian and linguistic lines. A radical Balkanisation of the region. A retired US Army officer, Ralph Peters, followed up by producing the map of how a ‘Balkanised’ Middle East would look. Ben Gurion too had a similar strategic ambition for Israeli interests.

Lewis’s influence however, went right to the top: President Bush was seen carrying articles by Lewis to a meeting in the Oval Office soon after September 11, and only eight days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Lewis was briefing Richard Perle’s Defence Policy Board, sitting next to his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress. At that key meeting of a board highly influential with the Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the two called for an invasion of Iraq.

Lewis seeded too the broader idea of a backwards-looking Muslim world, seething with hatred against a modernising and virtuous West. It was him, and not Samuel Huntington, who coined the phrase ‘clash of civilisations’ – implying further, that Islam and the West are embroiled in an existential battle for survival.

Through the Evangelical prism of today’s policy-makers, such as Pompeo and Mike Pence, this dark prognostication has metamorphosed from a civilisational ‘clash’ into the cosmic battle of good and evil (with Iran particularly pinpointed as the source of cosmic evil in today’s world).

This is the key point: Bringing regime change to Iran – the primordial threat, in Lewis terms – was always a Lewis fantasy. “Should we negotiate with Iran’s ayatollahs?” Henry Kissinger asked him on one occasion; “Certainly not!” came Lewis’ uncompromising retort. The overall stance that America should adopt to the region was presented in a nutshell to Dick Cheney: “I believe that one of the things you’ve got to do to Arabs is hit them between the eyes with a big stick. They respect power”. This Orientalist advice naturally applied ‘in spades’ to Iran and its ‘Ayatollahs’, Lewis held: “The question we should be asking is why do they neither fear nor respect us?”.

Well, now, inspired by his intellectual hero (Lewis), Pompeo, together with Richard Perle’s PNAC colleague, John Bolton, seem to be itching to try it, using the Lewis recipe of ‘hitting Iran between the eyes with a big (sanctions) stick’.

We have been here before. The US did not just leaf through Lewis’ books, as it were; it has been acting on it for decades. As early as the 1960s, Lewis had published a book which picked up on the potential vulnerabilities, and therefore the potential use, of religious, class, and ethnic differences as the means to bring an end to Middle Eastern states.

Seymour Hersh, writing in 2008, reported that:

“Late last year [2007], Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations …

“Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq … since last year. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the CIA, and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature”.

And such operations just expanded further – as the present head of CIA, Gina Haspel, has confirmed, she is shifting Agency resources to focus on Russia and Iran. And the US has been assiduously planting its military bases at points that abut on Iran’s ethnic minorities.

So what is the ‘end game’? Is it US election hype, and intended principally for domestic consumption? Is it just to contain and weaken Iran? Is it to force Iran to negotiate a ‘better’ JCPOA? Or is it to trigger regime change?

Well, it looks like this: Pompeo has refused to renew two key US sanctions waivers (besides the various oil waivers). These two waiver-refusals look very much like the veritable ‘smoking gun’ – pointing to Pompeo and Bolton’s true intent. One withdrawn waiver is for Iran’s export of low enriched uranium, and the other retraction is for the export of ‘heavy water’ from the Arak reactor.

The point is that under the JCPOA, Iran is not permitted to accumulate either substance beyond 300 Kilos and 300 litres, respectively. So Iran is compelled by the Accord to export any potential surplus which might breach these limits. The former goes to Russia (in return for raw yellow-cake), and the latter is stored in Oman.

Let us be very clear: There is absolutely no nuclear benefit to Iran from these exports. They serve only the interests of those who are signatories to the JCPOA. They are JCPOA ‘housekeeping’ items – i.e. they serve only those who advocate non-proliferation of nuclear-related materials. The export is envisaged by the Accord, and is demanded of Iran.

If these exports represent precisely the working of the nuclear agreement, why then would Pompeo refuse to renew the waivers to such a structural component to non-proliferation? They are of no economic significance per se.

The only answer must be that Pompeo and Bolton are trying to corner Iran into a breach of the JCPOA: They are deliberately trying to provoke non-compliance by Iran, and are effectively forcing Iran to proliferate. For, if these substances cannot be exported, Iran will be obliged to accumulate them, in breach of the JCPOA (unless the UNSC dispute procedure embedded in the JCPOA, rules otherwise).

But pushing Iran into a formal breach opens many possibilities for Bolton to provoke Iran further, and perhaps even to taunt it into providing the US with its casas belli for flattening Iran’s enrichment facilities. Who knows?

So how do Iran’s ethnic minorities fit into the picture? (The majority of the Iranian population is Persian, estimated at between 51% and 65%. The largest other ethno-linguistic groups are: Azerbaijanis (16–25+ %), Kurds (7–10%), Lurs (c. 7%), Mazandaranis and Gilakis (c. 7%), Arabs (2–3), Balochi (c. 2%) and Turkmens (c. 2%)). These groups are ‘the material’ that the US hopes to turn into armed secessionists and anti-Iranian insurgents, under the CIA ‘train and assist programmes’. When this programme was mooted in 2007, there was considerable dissent both within the US Administration (including coming from Secretary Gates and General Fallon, who both rejected the questioned the merit of such thinking). As Seymour Hersh noted:

“A strategy of using ethnic minorities to undermine Iran is flawed, according to Vali Nasr, who teaches international politics at Tufts University and is also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Just because Lebanon, Iraq, and Pakistan have ethnic problems, it does not mean that Iran is suffering from the same issue,” Nasr said. “Iran is an old country—like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic.

“The US is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” The minority groups that the US is reaching out to are either well integrated or small and marginal, without much influence on the government or much ability to present a political challenge, Nasr said.

“[However], you can always find some activist groups that will go and kill a policeman, but working with the minorities will backfire, and alienate the majority of the population”.

And as Professor Salehi-Isfahani at Brookings has shown, the poorest elements of Iranian society have been somewhat protected from the harsh economic impact of sanctions (more than the middle class), so that one might rightly conclude that Iran can weather the economic siege.

Yes … but … ‘We have been here before’, in another important way:

Iraq and ‘Curveball’ (the codename for the Iraqi agent of German intelligence, who provided false intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction); the Iraqi exiles who assured the Americans they would be welcomed in Baghdad as ‘liberators’ with their path strewn with flowers and rise; and ‘Team B’ (the alt-intelligence unit, established by then Vice-President Cheney to provide ‘like-minded’ intelligence reporting that countered that of the CIA, and supported Cheney’s world view). The outcome from America’s disconnect to the realities of Iraq was, of course, a disaster.

Here we are again, with history seemingly repeating itself: The former ‘Team B’ is now no longer a unit implanted in the DOD, but is a network of former intelligence officials of some sort, acting together with embittered Iranian exiles – fishing within the MEK and the jaundiced exile community, and then ‘stove-piping’ their findings into the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies think-tank, and into the White House – shades of Chalabi and the Iraq Saga, all over again.

It is the old, old intelligence story: Start with deep orientalist prejudices and pre-conceived opinions about the nature of ‘the other’; Convince yourself that no ‘modern’ man or woman would support the ‘Ayatollahs’; And guess what? You find what you wanted to see: That Iran is on the brink of “immanent collapse”; that the minorities are poised to rise up against the overbearing Persian élite; and that American intervention to remove this hated ‘regime’ would be welcomed ‘with flowers and rice’.

It is nonsense, of course. But the capacity to self-delude is sufficient, in itself, to start wars.

The US history of the original ‘Team B’ serves as a grim warning: Cheney did not like, or trust, what the formal Intelligence services were saying. So he set up an ‘Alt-Intelligence Service’ (Team B) of ‘like-minded’ analysts who ‘found’ what he wanted to see about Iraq (and Russia).

Trump, precisely because of his experience with the Deep State, does not trust the top echelon of US services – and hence, is known to read little of what they produce. He too, does not see them as ‘like-minded’ for their globalist outlook on the world, and generally disdains their opinions (preferring those with a more like-minded zeitgeist). There is real vulnerability here.

Whilst it is true that Trump in the past days has acknowledged that Bolton wants to get him “into a war”, and has expressed concern that, as the Washington Post notes, “Bolton has boxed him into a corner, and gone beyond where he [Trump] is comfortable”, Trump’s prejudices on Iran run deep, and are being continually fed by others – including family – and not just by Bolton.

Mostly, Trump acts in foreign policy as a New York real-estate mogul, with care only for ‘the deal’ and his image, and with zero emotional or moral engagement. This is probably true too, for US involvement in Syria and Afghanistan. But is this so for Iran? Might Iran be the exception – precisely because it stands in the way of Trump’s ‘legacy project’ – of actuating ‘Greater Israel’ (otherwise known as the Deal of the Century)?

Bolton may have been mildly rebuked by Trump over getting it wrong on Venezuela, but it might be that Pompeo and Bolton are pushing at a half-open door when it comes to Iran.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran Warns Against ‘Conspiracy by Ill-Wishers’ Over ‘Sabotage’ at UAE Port

Sputnik – 13.05.2019

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi has expressed concerns over a “sabotage” attack on several merchant ships off the UAE coast on Sunday, calling the incident “worrisome and dreadful”, and has urged an investigation into the matter, ISNA reported.

Mousavi was cited as saying that “such incidents have a negative impact on maritime transportation security”, cautioning against any “conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers” as well as “adventurism by foreigners” to undermine the region’s stability.

The comments followed a reported remark by Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, who said that two Saudi vessels were among those targeted near the UAE.

One of the two ships in question was attacked on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude at the port of Ras Tanura for delivery to Saudi Aramco in the US, Reuters reported.

The suspected attack didn’t lead to any casualties or oil spill, but is said to have caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels.

“The international community has a joint responsibility to protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, to mitigate against the adverse consequences of such incidents on energy markets and the danger they pose to the global economy”, al-Falih said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters.

As reports of the alleged sabotage attack kept flooding in, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States in the Gulf (GCC) issued a statement to condemn the incident:

“It is a dangerous development and escalation that reflects the evil intentions of those who planned and carried out these operations that endanger the safety of maritime navigation in the region and threaten the lives of the ships’ civilian crews”, the statement read.

On Sunday, the UAE said that four merchant vessels had been targeted in “acts of sabotage” in its territorial waters, thus brushing off previous reports by the Lebanon-based broadcaster al-Mayadeen, which said that several large blasts had occurred in the port of Fujairah. Reacting to the reports about explosions, authorities in Fujairah refuted the claims, stressing that the port was functioning as usual.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , | Leave a comment