Aletho News


French rights group moves to block Saudi arms cargo

RT | May 28, 2019

A French humanitarian group is seeking to block a delivery of munitions to a Saudi ship docked at a port in southern France, arguing the weapons will be used to commit war crimes in Saudi Arabia’s conflict with Yemen.

The rights group, Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT), filed its legal challenge Tuesday, following up on a previous effort which successfully blocked a shipment of howitzer cannons to the Saudi Kingdom.

The cargo ship “is to load French weapons bound for Saudi Arabia, one of the main belligerents of the Yemeni conflict,” ACAT said in a statement Tuesday, adding it was “calling on civil society … to prevent these munitions from leaving” the port of Marseille-Fos.

The shipment is to include ammunition for the French-made Caesar howitzer, a truck-mounted artillery system, according to sources cited by investigative outlet Disclose. Though ACAT managed to block a howitzer shipment earlier this month, Saudi Arabia obtained several Caesar batteries in previous sales.

ACAT argues that the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, ratified by France in 2014, provides a legal basis for a court order to block the cargo.

Under the treaty, “France undertook not to authorize the transfer of arms when it ‘has knowledge, at the time the authorization is requested that such weapons or property could be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity’,” or other violations of humanitarian law, ACAT said, quoting the language of the agreement.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly told lawmakers Tuesday that she had no information on the shipment, but added that France must respect its alliance with the kingdom in any case. Parly has previously stated there was “no proof” that French weapons contributed to rights violations in the Yemen war.

In April, however, French journalists with Disclose published classified military intelligence documents revealing that French weapons likely were involved in strikes on civilians. French authorities have since interrogated the journalists and threatened them with jail time.

Earlier Tuesday Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Saudi Arabia to end its “dirty war” on Yemen, but stopped short of demanding an end to French weapons sales, adding that France was “extremely vigilant” in its arms transfers.

Activists at Italian and Spanish ports have also attempted to interfere in the Saudi war effort, with Italian dock workers in Genoa refusing to load cargo onto a Saudi vessel earlier this month, and a similar, albeit unsuccessful, protest at the Spanish port of Santander.

The UN says Yemen is suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions dependent on humanitarian aid and tens of thousands killed in the fighting. A coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia began military operations in Yemen in March 2015, seeking to oust rebels from power and reinstate Yemeni President Mansour Hadi. Both the coalition and the rebels have violated the laws of armed conflict, according to rights groups, but the bulk of civilian casualties have been inflicted in the Saudi air war.

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Far from solving the Palestine-Israel conflict, the US ‘deal’ will take it to an unimagined level

Centre staff and people with disabilities inspect the damaged building of Confederation of Disabled People, which was the only centre to serve people with disabilities in Rafah, after Israel's attacks on Gaza in Rafah, Gaza on 7 May, 2019 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Centre staff and people with disabilities inspect the damaged building of Confederation of Disabled People, which was the only centre to serve people with disabilities in Rafah, after Israel’s attacks on Gaza in Rafah, Gaza on 7 May, 2019.[Ali Jadall ah/Anadolu Agency]
Dr Mohammad Makram Balawi | MEMO | May 28, 2019

One thing caught my attention during the latest Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip, which left dozens of Palestinians dead. It was a video message, in Arabic, by Israeli parliamentarian Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet. Dichter spent a life time torturing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and assassinating many others, but used the video to offer “sincere” advice to the people of Gaza to rebel against Hamas rule and stop firing rockets at Israel.

In an attempt to blame the victims, he said that whatever misery the Palestinians are suffering from is the result of choosing war against Israel. According to him, in 1947, the UN offered them a partition plan, but they refused it and they chose to fight, and as a result they are now stifled in this tiny piece of land, the Gaza Strip. In his warped logic, they have only themselves to blame for their predicament; they gambled against the Zionist movement and lost.

In an attempt to intimidate the Palestinians, Dichter says that they should learn a lesson from Syria, where almost half-a-million people have been killed and around ten million have been displaced. Only Israel, claims the Knesset member, has helped the Syrian people; he ignores the fact that millions of Syrian refugees stay in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Not only does he demand that the Palestinians should stop firing rockets, but he also tells them that they will not gain anything by gathering near the Israeli-erected “border” fence for the Great March of Return protests because they have to forget about returning to their land. The only way to stop their suffering, insists Dichter, is to topple Hamas.

This video did not surprise me; Dichter was merely regurgitating decades-old Israeli propaganda. What was a surprise, though, was how similar it was in content to an article in the New York Times on 22 April — “Care about Gaza? Blame Hamas: The world wants to help. The terrorists won’t allow it” — written by US President Donald Trump’s Israel Envoy, Jason Greenblatt. The only real difference resulted from Dichter’s use of Arabic to address the Palestinians in Gaza directly, while Greenblatt chose a prestigious newspaper to speak largely to the American people and the West.

The envoy described Hamas as undemocratic, although it won the majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council in the last free and fair democratic elections held in 2006. For him, “the world”, which actually means the United States, wants to help the Palestinians but they are not working in their own best interest. As far as Greenblatt is concerned, the cause of Palestinian suffering is not Zionist settler-colonialism with the West’s support; nor is it the 12-year-old Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip; nor Israel’s three military offensives which destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure and economy; nor the US efforts to close UNRWA, the UN agency which helps millions of Palestinian refugees with basic essentials, including education and healthcare; nor the US and Israeli attempts to break the will of the Palestinian people and all those who might think of supporting them. None of those things are to blame, in his view.

In essence, the US envoy has simply reproduced Israeli propaganda. Washington and Tel Aviv alike believe that those they can’t buy they can simply break. If the Palestinians accept America’s definition of peace — that they should deny their own legitimate rights and existence by acknowledging Israel’s colonial occupation of their homeland, and accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in Palestine — then they will get massive financial assistance from the rich Gulf States. This is what the “deal of the century” really entails.

According to the Times of Israel, quoting official sources, the 25-26 June conference in Bahrain brokered by the Americans will not include the core political issues of the conflict: the final borders, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and Israeli security demands. Yet Greenblatt seems surprised that the Palestinian Authority has already refused to attend. The rejection did not come from Hamas; it came from PA-Fatah Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh: “Any solution to the conflict in Palestine must be political… and based on ending the occupation. We will not succumb to blackmail and extortion and will not trade our national rights for money.”

I believe that the Palestinians should attend the Manama conference masterminded by Jared Kushner and Greenblatt, even though it will eventually legitimise the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, end the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland, and practically undermine any chance of having a state of their own on the land of their forefathers. If they do not attend, then the US “deal” will go ahead in their absence, leaving them to starve to death or be bombed to death, whichever carries the least cost for Israel.

There is a bright side to this tragedy, though; we no longer have to believe in the myth of the left-wing coloniser and the liberal Zionist. According to Professor Ilan Pappé, it is such people who have shielded Israel for the past seven decades and convinced many in the Western world that you can colonise someone else’s land and be good at the same time.

Now we hear no more talk about the “two-state-solution”, and that there is such a thing as a “peace process” which is yet to deliver a miraculous solution that is going to please everyone. From now on it will be crystal clear to Arabs, Muslims and everyone else who cares, who their enemy is and who is cooperating with it in order to facilitate its plans in our region. It is those Arab and Muslim regimes who have thus far used lame excuses to evade their responsibility towards the Holy Land and the Palestinian people which will, shamefully, be exposed.

Just when the Americans think that they have liquidated the Palestinian cause and its legitimacy, they are actually taking the conflict into a new era. Far from solving the Palestine-Israel issue, the US “deal of the century” will take it to an unimagined level, with consequences that Washington never even thought could exist.

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Israel’s Mossad liaising with UAE ahead of Dubai Expo

MEMO | May 28, 2019

The director of Israel’s national intelligence agency Mossad is liaising with high profile officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to arrange Israel’s participation in the Dubai Expo 2020.

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan yesterday reported that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen is in “direct contact” with Emirati officials to arrange the visit, which will see an Israeli delegation visit the Emirati city in October next year. Kan’s political correspondent, Gili Cohen, noted that “the Mossad chief discussed all the arrangements with the UAE side, including technical matters relating to the arrival of the Israeli mission and its place of residence in Dubai.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced in April that it would participate in the event, saying it “welcomed the opportunity to share our spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship and to present Israeli innovations and trailblazing technology in various fields such as water, medicine and information technology.”

“Expos are meeting places where people all over the world come together and take advantage of each other’s talents to face joint challenges and advance society,” the ministry added.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the announcement, writing on Twitter that Israel’s participation represented “another expression of Israel’s rising status in the world and the region”.

That Cohen has been working with high profile Emirati ministers will be seen as yet further evidence of the close cooperation between Mossad and the Gulf state.

These relations were thrust into the spotlight following the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in the UAE in 2010. Al-Mabhouh had been staying in Dubai’s Al-Bustan hotel when, on 20 January, a hit squad seemingly waited for its victim in his hotel room. It is thought that this assassination squad was overseen by Mossad and used European passports to enter the UAE.

Normalisation with Israel -Cartoon [Arabi21News]

Normalisation with Israel -Cartoon [Arabi21News]

Israeli journalist Edy Cohen has since accused Dubai’s Deputy Chairman of Police and Public Security, General Dhahi Khalfan, of being complicit in Al-Mabhouh’s murder. Al-Mahbouh’s family have echoed these suspicions, submitting a complaint to the UK-based Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR) in which they argued the Emirati authorities had covered up their alleged involvement in the assassination.

The family argued that “the recordings of the assassination broadcast by Dubai Police Chief Dhahi Khalfan resemble a movie designed to absolve the authorities and deny rumours regarding the UAE’s involvement in the assassination”. They added: “Then the case was buried and the UAE authorities did not take any serious action to arrest the accused or bring those who were arrested to justice. This is what is suspicious about their behaviour.”

Since Al-Mahbouh’s assassination, relations between Israel and the UAE have increasingly been conducted in the open as part of Israel’s normalisation drive.

This has taken many forms, including the visit of high profile Israeli officials to the UAE and visits by Emirati military delegations to Israel. In addition, last week human rights organisation Amnesty International released a report detailing Israeli arms sales to the UAE. This has included the purchase of Israeli spyware firm NSO Group’s Pegasus software, a tool which has been used to hack into the iPhones of prominent activistsjournalists and Amnesty International staff.

In January it emerged that the UAE had used Pegasus spyware to spy on the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Head of NSO Group, Shalev Hulio, explained that the Israeli Defence Export Control Agency (DECA) had authorised three deals with the UAE for the sale of NSO software, which were allegedly mediated by former Israeli defence officials with close ties to a senior Emirati official. The deals are thought to have been worth $80 million.

This was not the first time the UAE was found to have used Israeli spyware. In 2016, Canada-based research institute Citizen Lab and Apple revealed there were attempts to infect an iPhone owned by the Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor. Mansoor had raised the alarm after receiving suspicious text intended to “bait to get him to click on a link, which would have led to the infection of his Apple iPhone 6 and control of the device through a spy software created by the NSO Group”.

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

The EU should be calling out Israeli colonialism for its violence and incitement

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | May 28, 2019

Palestinian school textbooks are once again under public scrutiny, this time after a report published by Israel’s Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) claimed that material was “more radical than previously published”. The EU has since confirmed that it will be funding an assessment to be carried out “by an independent and internationally recognised research institute.”

According to IMPACT-se, “This new curriculum deliberately omits any discussion of peace education or reference to any Jewish presence in Palestine before 1948.” EU Foreign Affairs Representative Federica Mogherini said that the study will identify “possible incitement to hatred and violence and any possible lack of compliance with UNESCO standards of peace and tolerance in education.”

Once again, the Palestinians are being coerced into adopting standards determined by the political actors that have normalised Israel’s colonial presence in Palestine. The question is not whether there is any reference to Jewish presence in Palestine, but why there is such concentrated opposition to Palestinians asserting their own history and identity, both bludgeoned by Israel in the ongoing Nakba.

Lest anyone forgets, the entire international community has, in one way or another, endorsed the Zionist narrative when it comes to Palestine. This narrative leaves no space for Palestinians to assert their indigenous presence in Palestine before 1948; the “land without a people for a people without a land” myth and subsequent variations of it were used by the Zionists to justify their intent to colonise Palestine, as well as its implementation. It is the Zionist narrative that has eliminated Palestinians. In escaping from that premise, it is clear that Palestinians have an obligation towards their own people, history and memory if they are to fight against the complete disappearance of their own identity as a distinct people under Israeli oppression supported by the international community.

Image of Israel supporters rally in London against UN resolution [ Zionist Federation/Facebook]

Israel supporters rally in London against UN resolution [ Zionist Federation/Facebook]

It is imperative that Palestinians set their own agenda by their own standards. Israel has done so in contempt of human rights violations and its actions are now normalised as “security concerns” and “self-defence” by the international community. Palestinians have legitimate reasons to pursue their own liberation trajectory – a right granted by international law – yet they are constantly expected to abide by international norms which do not address the specifics of Israel’s ongoing colonial expansion and violence.

UNESCO describes peace education as “promoting peace-building through education in situations of both conflict and peace.” The terminology used is ideal for the international community, which has spent decades reinventing Israel’s colonialism in Palestine as the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” that can purportedly be solved through “peace negotiations”. There couldn’t have been a better combination for the EU to promote its diplomacy. UNESCO’s promotion of normalised discourse to alter the possibilities of education is a harmful agenda for Palestinians and an opportunity for the EU to portray itself as abiding by international norms.

Since there is no collective criticism of these accepted norms, any action that shows the slightest hint of legitimate repudiation in favour of a stance that clearly speaks for the oppressed – in this case, the Palestinian people – the EU can continue to recruit individuals and institutions to reinforce what is accepted at an international level. Palestinian textbooks and their content, however, have not emerged from a vacuum. The EU should not be funding studies that impede Palestinians from asserting their right to historic Palestine in their own educational curriculum. On the contrary, it should be calling out Israel’s presence in Palestine as a permanent form of colonial violence and incitement.


May 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Taliban insurgents want peace, senior leader says at Moscow talks

Head of Political Office of the Taliban Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai (L) and member of Political Office of Taliban Shahabuddin Delawar (R) in Moscow, May 28, 2019.
© Reuters / Mikhail Antonov
RT | May 28, 2019

Senior Taliban officials including the group’s top political advisor met with Afghan political figures in Moscow on Tuesday, saying they were committed to peace in Afghanistan.

The statement comes as US-led talks appear to have stalled, AFP said.

Taliban co-founder and political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said the insurgents want an end to 18 years of conflict – but would only sign a deal after foreign forces quit Afghanistan.

The Taliban are “really committed to peace, but think the obstacle for peace should be removed first,” Baradar said in a rare televised appearance at the start of the two-day meeting marking 100 years of diplomatic ties between Russia and Afghanistan. “The obstacle is the occupation of Afghanistan, and that should end,” Baradar said.

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

US boycotts arms control conference in protest at Venezuela

RT | May 28, 2019

The United States walked out of a UN disarmament forum in protest after Venezuela took up the conference’s rotating chairmanship, insisting it would not participate in a conference led by a “rogue state.”

“Whatever is discussed in there, whatever is decided, has absolutely no legitimacy because it is an illegitimate regime presiding over that body,” US ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) Robert Wood told reporters Tuesday after he stormed out of the meeting.

Wood ditched the forum as soon as his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Valero was granted the conference’s presidency – which rotates on a monthly basis – calling Valero’s acceptance speech a “diatribe of propaganda.”

The US and its allies in the Lima Group – comprised of more than a dozen Latin American allies including Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Chile – will boycott the CD for the next four weeks, until the new chair takes over, Wood said in a statement after the meeting.

The CD was established in 1984 to provide an international forum for arms control negotiations, and is held three times a year in Geneva. Sixty-five countries currently participate in the conference, including all states with a declared nuclear arsenal.

Washington, along with a handful of allies, supports Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself ‘interim president’ in January, with US recognition. The pro-Guaido bloc considers Venezuela’s elected president, Nicolas Maduro, to be illegitimate.

Wood demanded the CD chairmanship be granted to a member of the opposition.

“A representative of Juan Guaido, the interim president, should be in this body, should be sitting in that chair right now,” he said, adding that the Maduro government “is in essence dead, it just doesn’t want to lay down.”

US President Donald Trump has ramped up sanctions on Venezuela in recent months, crippling energy exports of a country already in dire straights and depriving the socialist government of much needed revenue. Washington considers sanctions part of another “maximum pressure campaign,” designed to coerce the Maduro government into compliance.

The US endorsed an opposition coup attempt in late April, but the uprising failed to inspire mass defections from the security forces and fizzled out within days, leaving Washington and the Guaido faction frustrated.

Ambassador Wood staged a walkout at last year’s CD as well, in that case over Syria’s elevation to the chair position. Wood worked off a similar script then, ditching the meeting as the Syrian ambassador began his address and complaining to reporters outside the chamber.

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Army: 0 — Internet: 1

By David Swanson | War Is A Crime | May 25, 2019

The U.S. Army tweeted a harmless rah-rah tweet and got hit with a burst of reality never encountered on corporate-controlled media. Score one for the internet.

The Army asked: “How has serving impacted you?”

Here’s a tiny sample of the responses:

5 hours ago
Replying to
I lost my virginity by being raped in front of my peers at 19. Got married to a nice guy who was part of my unit. He was in the invasion of Iraq. Came home a changed man who beat the shit out of me. He’s convinced y’all are stalking him and he’s homeless so great job there!

58 minutes ago
Replying to
My sweet friend David can’t answer you. He committed suicide a few years ago after a couple tours of Afghanistan.

5 hours ago
Replying to
The strain of my deployment was too much for my wife to bear. She committed suicide in our home when I had just one month left. When my mental state deteriorated, I was sent to counseling so my COC could check off a box and say “they did everything they could”. (1/2) 
I turned to alcohol and other vices. I begged to be sent to any other unit in a different state, just needing a change of scenery. Instead, I was demoted and discharged. Dumped like a bag of trash when I had at one time shown great promise as a leader and soldier.(2/2)

5 hours ago
Replying to
My wife walked in the garage and found me hanging from an extension cord. What’s worse she had to lift me up, cut the cord and resuscitate me all while screaming for help. My black ass is 6ft 245 pounds and she is 5’2 130 pounds. But hey at least I got to shoot some cool shit.

5 hours ago
Replying to
a friend’s father, 20 years after Vietnam, was still managing massive ptsd, and would have nightmares so big that he’d wake us up convinced we were under attack. he called us by names of his former unit soldiers and would cry when we told him about it.

4 hours ago
Replying to
My grandfather served in Vietnam. When I was 6, he shot himself in the head because of his depression and PTSD. I never got to learn who he was because of you.

1 hour ago
My mom served at ft. McClellan and is still suffering from being poisoned to this day.

4 hours ago
Replying to
I am a Navy vet, I was a happy person before I served, now I am broke apart, cant even work a full 30 days due to anxiety and depression, i have Fibromyalgia and nobody understands because I am a guy. I am in constant pain everyday. And I think about killing myself daily……..

12 hours ago
Replying to
My grandparents were used as pawns serving the US army in aiding them on the Ho Chi Minh trail. They served in The Secret War, and when the US lost the Vietnam war the Hmong were left to die in genocide. To this day Hmong veterans are not recognized by the US army.
More than half of my people were wiped out through genocide. Only about a third of what once was the Hmong population are scattered in diaspora around the world. Many in the US who deal with PTSD through alcoholism, abuse, and addiction to opium.
And the children are left to pick up the pieces and navigate a delicate past, present, and future for the years to come while inheriting intergenerational trauma.

4 hours ago
Replying to
My step-dad served as a sniper and still has ptsd from it. From a young age I learned not to touch him if he’s sleeping because he might lash out and hit me. When we go to restaurants we have to sit so that he can see the door, He still won’t talk about it

3 hours ago
Replying to
I have a friend whose father was a military doctor in Iraq .He has since retired to the UK now on antidepressants n screams at night, says he sees mutilated bodies of Iraqi children in his nightmares. Despite being a Moslem he drinks a bottle a night to keep the demons at bay.

5 hours ago
Replying to
My dad has PTSD and is now suffering through chemo cuz of the shit he was exposed to in the gulf war. The VA is making it impossible for him to get benefits even though 1/3 of the vets from that war have weird health issues; too many for it to be a coincidence.

1 hour ago
Replying to
My brother came back from Iraq a broken alcoholic who has disowned us as a family and has retroactively blamed my poor mother for the horrible things that have happened to him. Every Mother’s day all she wishes for is for him to reach out again. Haven’t heard from him in years.

1 hour ago
Replying to
i watched my coworker work a 12 hour shift through panic attacks due to ptsd on the fourth of july (fireworks) bc he couldn’t afford to give his shift up due to the VA cutting his benefits and not helping to pay for his insulin (have you seen insulin prices lately?)

1 hour ago
Replying to
My son has horrible night terrors now. He woke up choking his wife because he thought she was attacking him. They divorced shortly after that. He has a TBI. He has compression fractures in his back that are due to having the wrong body armor for the conditions. The VA is a joke

Replying to

My husband, at 24, now has permanent brain damage and had to be medically separated because a US Army doctor refused to give him an EEG after his incident. Even though we begged for it.

16 minutes ago
Replying to
My next door neighbor enlisted in the Marines after high school and served in Iraq. He insisted he had been exposed to chemicals that resulted in permanent disability yet couldn’t get any treatment from the VA, PTSD, addiction and alcoholism. He died from alcohol last year at 43

There are thousands more just like these. I tweeted:

10 hours ago
Replying to
When this is what the people you claim all the wars are to “support” have to say, I’m betting you’re not going to start a thread for people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Libya to explain to you how grateful they are for being bombed.

Perhaps this information from will be appropriate:

Here’s a one-minute self-assessment on your suitability for a military career:

Would you enjoy risking your life for what U.S. military commanders often describe as counter-productive missions or pointless “muddling along“?

Do you appreciate being yelled at and senselessly abused?

While your friends might be getting regular jobs and enjoying the good life, maybe getting married and having kiddies, you’ll be living in a barracks with sergeants yelling at you, busting your gut in strenuous training. Sound good?

How do you feel about dramatically increased risk of sexual assault?

How do you feel about dramatically increased risk of suicide?

Soldiers must expect to carry 120 pounds for long distances and up hills, so back injuries are plentiful, along with the life-limiting dangers of combat training, inlcuding from the testing of weaponry and chemicals. Sound appealing?

Does the idea of physical injury or death in some country far away where the citizens who are unhappy with your presence shoot at you or blow off your legs with a roadside bomb encourage you to enlist?

Do you long for traumatic brain injury or PTSD or moral guilt, or all three?

Expect to see the world? You’re more likely to see a tent on the dirt in some place too dangerous to explore because the people do not want you there.

How will you feel if you start out believing you’re serving some noble cause and realize half-way through that you’re just making a few greedy people rich?

We hope that this short self-assessment has been helpful to you in making an important life choice.

Think about Section 9-b of the Enlistment/Reenlistment Contract before you sign it:
“Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay, allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/reenlistment document.”

In other words, it’s a one-way contract. They can change it. You cannot.

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 2 Comments

Peace with Iran is a Good Thing

By Renee Parsons | OffGuardian | May 28, 2019

After weeks of drama perpetuating assorted Iranian ‘threats’ and after having conducted classified briefings with Congress on Tuesday, acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by his side, informed a press briefing that:

there will be no war with Iran”

And the US had,

deterred an Iranian attack based on our reposturing of assets, deterred attacks against American forces”

And that now:

[The] focus is to prevent an Iranian miscalculation. We do not want the situation to escalate. This is about deterrence; not about war. We’re not about going to war.”

Shanahan’s words could not have been more clear and definitive and yet, they have been met with silence by the Democrats and the MSM as if peace is less desirable, less profitable commodity than war. At the same press briefing Sen. Lindsay Graham, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added his own pirouette as if there had been verifiable evidence of an Iranian threat:

We are ready to respond if we have to. The best thing would be for everyone to calm down and Iran to back off. I am hoping that this show of force will result in de-escalating.”

In other words, the US was selling the notion to anyone who would buy that the Iranians would have launched an attack if not for an increased US military build up that forced the Iranians to backpedal. It makes little difference who or what takes credit in the final analysis since peace is of the essence.

Donald Trump very likely won the 2016 election with pronouncement such as:

Obviously the war in Iraq was a big fat mistake.”

“We should have never been in Iraq.”

“We have destabilized the middle east.”

“We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about.”

In view of the recent escalation of threats to Venezuela and collapse of the summit with North Korea, it has been unclear exactly who is administering US foreign policy given the President’s consistently inconsistent views and with the B Team filling a prominent role in what appears to be a presidential vacuum.

As unconfirmed, undefined “Iranian threats” first surfaced and the President’s closest national security advisors fanned the flames, he told White House reporters

It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens, I can tell you that. They’re not going to be happy.”

And later tweeting:

If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Declaring “heightened tensions” as if Iran was out-of-their-minds crazy enough to imminently launch an attack on a US facility, the Trump Administration evacuated non essential US Embassy personnel from Baghdad after two Saudi oil tankers were ‘attacked’ off the UAE coast, a low grade rocket exploded near the Embassy, three mortar shells landed within Baghdad’s Green Zone and a Yemeni drone ‘attacked’ a Saudi pipeline.

Combining an alarming sense of panic with an overly zealous response, all of that confluence of confusion was sufficient for the US to react with its usual belligerence dispatching a B52 bomber task force, an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln aimed for the Strait of Hormuz (where one third of all oil passes through) and the release of a Pentagon “just in case” contingency for 120,000 troops in preparation for Armageddon.

History has its irony as it was the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln where President GW Bush grandstanded with his Mission Accomplished strut in May, 2003 announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq, six weeks after the US invasion.

With no moderating voice on the President’s national security team, National Security Advisor John Bolton, also known as the “devil incarnate,” has been aided and abetted by ‘bull in a china shop’ Pompeo to create a neocon foreign policy strategy that was not what Trump campaigned on.

While the combative trio is equally obsessive regarding Iran, Bolton and Pompeo organized the recent military buildup in the Persian Gulf in anticipation of a rapid response deployment when the next Iranian ‘threat’ occurred. While Bolton holds dual citizenship with Israel and the US, both Israel and Saudi Arabia have long targeted Iran for a direct military confrontation and would relish the opportunity.

Not surprisingly, there was push back from some of the usual coalition allies with British deputy commander Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika daring to suggest “There’s been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” and Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that he made it clear to Pompeo that a unilateral strategy of increasing pressure against Iran was ‘ill-advised.’

Pompeo’s hastily arranged ‘drop in’ on a European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels did little to instill confidence in sloppy US intel or the administration’s Iran agenda as Pompeo related the details.

The Pentagon helpfully pointed out that 120,000 troops would be insufficient if a ground mission was ordered which led Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to remark that war in Iran would make the Iraq war look like a “cake walk” referring to the fact that Iran is a cohesive country, four times larger than Iraq and has more than double the population of Iraq.

In other words, a recipe for an environmental, humanitarian and military disaster of epic proportions – in addition it should be expected that Russia and China would not be content to sit on the sidelines.

Many will recall the 2003 prediction that the Iraqi people would welcome American troops as liberators, strewing roses in their path, just prior to the war descending into unthinkable carnage.

As a result of all the uncertainty, Trump gave up the trash-talk and told Shanahan during a military briefing last week that he does not want to go to war with Iran letting his hawkish aides know that he did not want the “intensifying American pressure campaign against the Iranians to explode into open conflict.” It is worth knowing whether the President directly ordered Bolton and Pompeo to back off.

Trump’s assertion that “I make the final decision” is as if to reassure himself that he is in charge belies a reputation for vacillating and a weak-will that continues to plague his Administration especially on foreign policy.

While Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei has refused to negotiate with the US, explaining that “negotiating with the current US Government is toxic,” the Iranians have no interest in bargaining away their ballistic missiles which could reach Tel Aviv or putting limits on their operational range. As with North Korea, Iran is well aware of Libya’s Mummar Quaddafi fate as he laid down his weapons only to have HRC organize a revolt and order his untimely demise.

A recent FoxNews interview added some clarity and further confusion as Trump totally buys the neocon view that:

Iran has been a problem for so many years, look at all the conflicts they have caused.” Further explaining “I want to invade if I have to economically” to provide jobs. While Trump agreed that “there is a Military Industrial Complex” and “they do like war” and yet complaining that “I wipe out 100% of the caliphate and people here in DC, they never want to leave.”

When asked about his campaign pledges in 2016, Trump responded “I’m not somebody that wants to go into war” offering the assurance that “I have not changed” and yet the belligerent talk comes too easily as if Bolton was the last person he spoke with.

As he has expressed little public reaction to the administration’s ineptitude with North Korea at the Vietnam summit or the fiasco in Venezuela, Trump allows himself to be played like a fiddle, complicit with the neocon’s latest nefarious schemes that reveal him as a second-rate player; deteriorating before the public with a history of clumsy international gaffes. There is no question that neither Bolton nor Pompeo are to be trusted and that Bolton’s over reach of authority is the key driver pushing for confrontation and divisiveness while Pompeo is a more personally shrewd team player and somewhat less of a loose cannon.

Thanks to the high level of public awareness that nailed down the faulty details of this latest kerfuffle and its excessive harangues, Trump needs to relieve Bolton of his keys to the office before the next ‘threats’ take the US to the brink and find someone who better reflects his 2016 campaign promises.

Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist for Friends of the Earth and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Robert Stuart vs the BBC: One Man’s Quest to Expose a Fake BBC Video about Syria

By Rick Sterling and Susan Dirgham* | American Herald Tribune | May 28, 2019

It’s a David vs Goliath story. A former local newspaper reporter, Robert Stuart, is taking on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Stuart believes that a sensational video story about an alleged atrocity in Syria “was largely, if not entirely, staged.”  The BBC would like it all to just go away. But like David, Stuart will not back down or let it go. It has been proposed that the BBC could settle the issue by releasing the raw footage from the event, but they refuse to do this. Why?

The Controversial Video

The video report in controversy is ‘Saving Syria’s Children‘. Scenes from it were first broadcast as a BBC news report on August 29, 2013 and again as a BBC Panorama special in September. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced by BBC reporter Ian Pannell with Darren Conway as camera operator and director.

The news report footage was taken in a town north of Aleppo city in a region controlled by the armed opposition. It purports to show the aftermath of a Syrian aerial attack using incendiary weapons, perhaps napalm, killing and burning dozens of youth. The video shows the youth arriving and being treated at a nearby hospital where the BBC film team was coincidentally filming two British medical volunteers from a British medical relief organization.

The video had a strong impact. The incident was on August 26. The video was shown on the BBC three days later as the British Parliament was debating whether to support military action by the US against Syria. As it turned out, British parliament voted against supporting military action. But the video was effective in demonizing the Syrian government. After all, what kind of government attacks school children with napalm-like bombs?

The Context

‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced at a critical moment in the Syrian conflict. Just days before, on August 21,  there had been an alleged sarin gas attack against an opposition held area on the outskirts of Damascus. Western media was inundated with videos showing dead Syrian children amidst accusations the Syrian government had attacked civilians, killing up to 1400. The Syrian government was assumed to be responsible and the attack said to be a clear violation of President Obama’s “red line” against chemical weapons.

This incident had the effect of increasing pressure for Western states or NATO to attack Syria. It would be for humanitarian reasons, rationalized by the “responsibility to protect”.

The assumption that ‘the regime’ did it has been challenged. Highly regarded American journalists including the late Robert Parry and Seymour Hersh investigated and contradicted the mainstream media. They pointed to the crimes being committed by the armed opposition for political goals. A report by two experts including a UN weapons inspector and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity also came to the conclusion that the Syrian government was not responsible and the attack was actually by an armed opposition group with the goal of forcing NATO intervention.

Why the Controversial Video is Suspicious

After seeing skeptical comments about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ on an online discussion board, Robert Stuart looked at the video for himself. Like others, he thought the hospital sequences looked artificial, almost like scenes from a badly acted horror movie.

But unlike others, he decided to find out. Thus began his quest to ascertain the truth. Was the video real or was it staged?  Was it authentic or contrived propaganda?

Over almost six years his research has revealed many curious elements about the video including:

* Youth in the hospital video appear to act on cue.

* There is a six hour discrepancy in reports about when the incident occurred.

* One of the supposed victims, shown writhing in pain on a stretcher, is seen earlier walking unaided into the ambulance.

* The incident happened in an area controlled by a terror group associated with ISIS.

* One of the British medics is a former UK soldier involved in simulated injury training.

* The other British medic is daughter of a prominent figure in the Syrian opposition.

* In 2016 a local rebel commander testified that the alleged attack never happened.

Support for Robert Stuart

Robert Stuart’s formal complaints to the BBC have been rebuffed. His challenges to those involved in the production have been ignored or stifled. Yet his quest has won support from some major journalistic and political figures.

Former Guardian columnist Jonathan Cook has written several articles on the story. He says, “Stuart’s sustained research and questioning of the BBC, and the state broadcaster’s increasing evasions, have given rise to ever greater concerns about the footage. It looks suspiciously like one scene in particular, of people with horrific burns, was staged.”

Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray has compared scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ with his own harrowing experience with burn victims. He says, “The alleged footage of burn victims in hospital following a napalm attack bears no resemblance whatsoever to how victims, doctors and relatives actually behave in these circumstances.”

Film-maker Victor Lewis-Smith has done numerous projects for the BBC. When learning about Stuart’s research he asked for some explanations and suggested they could resolve the issue by releasing the raw video footage of the events. When they refused to do this, he publicly tore up his BBC contract.

Why it Matters

The BBC has a reputation for objectivity. If BBC management was deceived by the video, along with the public, they should have a strong interest in uncovering and correcting this. If there was an error, they should want to clarify, correct and ensure it is not repeated.

The BBC could go a long way toward resolving this issue by releasing raw footage of the scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. Why have they refused to do this? In addition, they have actively removed youtube copies of ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. If they are proud of that production, why are they removing public copies of it?

Has the BBC produced and broadcast contrived or fake video reports in support of British government foreign policy of aggression against Syria? It is important that this question be answered to either restore public trust (if the videos are authentic) or to expose and correct misdeeds (if the videos are largely or entirely staged).

The issue at stake is not only the BBC; it is the manipulation of media to deceive the public into supporting elite-driven foreign policy. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ is an important case study.

The Future

Robert Stuart is not quitting. He hopes the next step will be a documentary film dramatically showing what he has discovered and further investigating important yet unexplored angles.

The highly experienced film producer Victor Lewis-Smith, who tore up his BBC contract, has stepped forward to help make this happen.

But to produce a high quality documentary including some travel takes funding. After devoting almost six years to this effort, Robert Stuart’s resources are exhausted. The project needs support from concerned members of the public.

If you support Robert Stuart’s efforts, go to this crowdfunding website. There you can learn more and contribute to this important effort to reveal whether the BBC video ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ showed true or staged events. Was the alleged “napalm” attack real or was it staged propaganda? The project needs a large number of small donors and a few substantial ones to meet the June 7 deadline.

As actor and producer Keith Allen says,” Please help us to reach the target so that we can discover the facts, examine the evidence, and present the truth about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. I think it’s really important.”

*Susan Dirgham is editor of “Beloved Syria – Considering Syrian Perspectives” published in Australia. 

*(Top image courtesy of Robert Stuart/ Twitter)

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Iran Ready for Talks with Regional States, No Such Prospect for US

Al-Manar | May 28, 2019

Noting Iran’s proposal for signing a non-aggression pact with regional countries, FM spokesman Mousavi said there is currently no prospect for talks with US.

“The Persian Gulf littoral states are among the most important neighboring countries for Iran; therefore, what foreign minister Zarif has put forward- i.e. the non-aggression pact- is not a new topic,” Sayyed Abbas Mousavi said in a news conference on Tuesday.

“Iran does not want to be in an insecure and stressful region,” he underlined.

Iran, in the past years, has always reiterated its readiness to sign a non-aggression pact with regional countries in a bid to build trust and confidence, and help eliminate concerns originating from other countries’ fear-inducing tactics. Most recently, Foreign Minister Zarif in a meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Baghdad on Saturday repeated the suggestion to Persian Gulf states to sign a non-aggression pact. The move was praised by Russian FM Sergey Lavrov as the first step to reduce regional tensions.

Addressing Trump’s recent claims that the US is “not looking for regime change” in Iran, rather all pressures are aimed at preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons, Mousavi said that “Iran is not interested in empty rhetoric and pays more attention to behaviors and will decide and act upon them.”

“We do not have any talks with the US, and our basis is on respecting international pacts to which the US can return,” Mousavi said.

The US’ illegitimate withdrawal [from the nuclear deal] and some of its illusions have ruined any chance for negotiations, he said, adding that currently there is no prospect for talks with Washington. “We should wait for new developments,” he added.

Elsewhere, he noted Zarif’s recent regional tour to India, Turkmenistan, Syria, Japan, Pakistan and Iraq, saying the visits have been in line with clarifying Iran’s stance. He also voiced hope that a new round of talks would commence with Iran’s northern neighbors at the ministerial and even head of state levels.

Mousavi then criticized European’s flimsy commitment to implementing JCPOA, saying that Iran always gives diplomacy a chance, but that does not mean pinning its hope on Europe.

He added that Iran expects Europeans to act within the set 60-day deadline by Iran and if they do not do so Iran will take the next step regarding its reduction of commitments to the JCPOA.

Addressing the latest situation of EU’s trade mechanism INSTEX, Mousavi said that the first transaction between Iran and Europe has been done. Some Iranian INSTEX-experts have traveled to Europe and have conducted some negotiations. A group of European INSTEX managers will travel to Iran in future to continue talks, he added.

About other countries proposing to mediate between Iran and US amid heightened tensions, Mousavi said that “we are not at that level yet, since having other countries to mediate needs some requirements. It is vital to pay attention to the roots of Iran-US tensions, which are in the reinforcement of sanctions on Iran, US’ illegal withdrawal form JCPOA and its economic terrorism.”

He also noted that Zarif’s meetings with US senators cannot be translated as holding talks with the US since Congress members are not considered as US government officials.

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment