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German Intelligence Claims Regarding Russian Media ‘Baseless’, ‘Unacceptable’ – Russian FM

Sputnik – July 4, 2019

The German intelligence agency is blaming Russian media for spreading disinformation but has refused to provide examples. The allegation is another attempt to foment a hostile atmosphere around Russian news outlets, which runs against media freedom principles, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

“We have seen the published report written by Germany’s counterintelligence that contains a number of accusations against Russia and, apart from the allegations that Russian intelligence services have been actively conducting espionage on German soil, has a particularly big section dedicated to influence of Russian media on German public opinion. For example, the Sputnik news agency and the RT Deutsch TV channel are accused — I quote — ‘of disseminating propaganda and disinformation’”.

“The statements were made in the report without any evidence or facts provided … The conclusions made in the report are however unambiguous”, Zakharova said at a briefing.

The diplomat called such policies toward Russian media “unacceptable and violating the basic principles of media freedom and freedom of expression”, and urged relevant international organizations, including the OSCE media freedom representative office, to take note.

Zakharova also mentioned that the report claimed that Russian media outlets “are disguised as independent media to hide the fact that they belong to the Russian state” and “exert subtle influence” on the German public, although neither RT nor Sputnik have made any attempt to conceal the source of their funding.

According to the spokeswoman, the report is “full of such peremptory accusations” and fully coincides with the opinion of the German Federation of Journalists, which in January urged national regulators supervising media activities to not issue a license for RT Deutsch.

The Russian Foreign Ministry therefore views the report as “another stage of inciting the atmosphere of hostility and toxicity around Russian media”, Zakharova stated, stressing that this “aggressive attitude” was being fomented with the direct participation of German intelligence services.

Last week, the German Interior Ministry and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution issued its annual report for 2018. The report accused Moscow of spying activities and “disseminating pro-Russian propaganda and disinformation” through its state-run media.

Russia media in Germany took a negative turn in January when the German Federation of Journalists claimed that RT Deutsch was a “tool for Kremlin propaganda” and called for denying a broadcaster license to the outlet.

The secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, Timur Shafir, denounced his German colleagues’ statements as “a blatant and unprincipled violation of the basic principles of the profession”

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Russia: Economic part of deal of the century contradicts UNSC resolutions

MEMO | July 4, 2019

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday that the economic part of the US deal of the century contradicts UN Security Council resolutions, TASS reported.

Following a meeting with the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Yousef Al-Othaimeen, he said: “Without seeing the comprehensive US vision of the settlement, it is very difficult to draw any conclusions.”

“But on a preliminary basis, I can say that the economic part proposes investing about $50 billion, half of the amount in Palestine, and the remaining $25 billion in the infrastructure of the countries where Palestinian refugees have lived for many years now.”

“If this is targeted at the refugees staying there for good and the countries will receive these financial injections to this end, then this alone contradicts the decisions of the UN Security Council, which among other things stipulate [establishing] such a Palestinian state.”

Lavrov stressed that the future Palestinian state “will be competent and will welcome refugees from the countries where they are hosted now, primarily, Lebanon, Egypt and a number of others.”

He concluded: “Therefore, we would like our American colleagues to finally explain their plan completely, instead of revealing their ideas piece by piece.”

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ex-Bahrain official: Israel aims to ‘destroy society’ in Middle East

MEMO | July 4, 2019

Former Bahraini minister of education and political analyst Mohammed Al-Fakhro warned that Israel is working to draw out a new Sykes-Picot agreement for the entire Arab region.

Speaking at the international cultural festival of Assilah in Morocco, Fakhro said the Arab countries are targeted by external and internal parties, adding that there are real attempts by these parties to continue to occupy the Palestinian territories.

He added that Israel, along with other foreign parties, wants the Arab countries to be engaged in “endless conflicts related to geography, sectarianism, religion, tribalism and other conflicts that destroy society”.

He added that those hostile to the Arab world seek to link Arab societies to “globalisation, so that Arab land becomes a market for goods produced by others”.

Al-Fakhro stressed that the scheme aims to keep Arab countries in “technological, scientific and cultural” backwardness.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 9 Comments

Does Justin Trudeau hate Palestinians?

By Yves Engler · July 4, 2019

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Is Justin Trudeau a racist? He and his government certainly accept and promote anti-Palestinianism. Two recent moves reaffirm his government’s pattern of blaming Palestinians for their dispossession and subjugation.

Last week the government released its updated terrorist list. An eighth Palestinian organization was added and the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN) was re-designated. The first ever Canadian-based group designated a terrorist organization, IRFAN was listed by the Stephen Harper government for engaging in the ghastly act of supporting orphans and a hospital in the Gaza Strip through official (Hamas controlled) channels.

Recently, the Liberals also announced they were formally adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as part of its anti-racism strategy. The explicit aim of those pushing the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism is to silence or marginalize those who criticize Palestinian dispossession and support the Palestinian civil society led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. The PM has repeatedly equated supporting Palestinian rights with hatred towards Jews and participated in a unprecedented smear against prominent Palestinian solidarity activist Dimitri Lascaris last summer.

Alongside efforts to demonize and delegitimize those advocating for a people under occupation, the Trudeau government has repeatedly justified violence against Palestinians. Last month Global Affairs Canada tweeted, “Canada condemns the barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel by Hamas and other terrorist groups, which have killed and injured civilians. This indiscriminate targeting of civilians is not acceptable. We call for an immediate end to this violence.” The statement was a response to an Israeli killed by rockets fired from Gaza and seven Palestinians killed in the open-air prison by the Israeli military. In the year before 200 Palestinians were killed and another 5,000 injured by live fire in peaceful March of Return protests in Gaza. Not a single Israeli died during these protests.

The Trudeau government has repeatedly isolated Canada from world opinion on Palestinian rights. Canada has joined the US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Micronesia and Palau in opposing UN resolutions in favour of Palestinian rights that nearly every other country supported. In fact, the Trudeau Liberals may have the most anti-Palestinian voting record of any recent Canadian government. In August Liberal MP Anthony Housefather boasted in a Canadian Jewish News article: “We have voted against 87% of the resolutions singling out Israel for condemnation at the General Assembly versus 61% for the Harper government, 19% for the Martin and Mulroney governments and 3% for the Chrétien government. We have also supported 0% of these resolutions, compared to 23% support under Harper, 52% under Mulroney, 71% under Martin and 79% under Chretien.”

Further legitimating its illegal occupation, the Liberals “modernized” Canada’s two-decade-old Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Israel that allows West Bank settlement products to enter Canada duty-free. To promote an accord that recently received royal assent, International Trade Minister Jim Carr traveled to Israel and touted its benefits to Israel lobby organizations in Toronto and Winnipeg. “Minister Carr strengthens bilateral ties between Canada and Israel”, explained a June 20 press release.

In mid-2017 the federal government said its FTA with Israel trumps Canada’s Food and Drugs Act after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency called for accurate labelling of wines produced in the occupied West Bank. After David Kattenburg repeatedly complained about inaccurate labels on two wines sold in Ontario, the CFIA notified the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) that it “would not be acceptable and would be considered misleading” to declare Israel as the country of origin for wines produced in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Quoting from longstanding official Canadian policy, CFIA noted that “the government of Canada does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied in 1967.” In response to pressure from the Israeli embassy, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and B’nai Brith, CFIA quickly reversed its decision. “We did not fully consider the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement,” a terse CFIA statement explained. “These wines adhere to the Agreement and therefore we can confirm that the products in question can be sold as currently labelled.”

Each year Canadian taxpayers subsidize hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations to Israel despite that country having a GDP per capita only slightly below Canada’s. (How many Canadian charities funnel money to Sweden or Japan?) Millions of dollars are also channeled to projects supporting West Bank settlements, explicitly racist institutions and Israel’s powerful military, which may all contravene Canadian charitable law. In response to a formal complaint submitted by four Palestine solidarity activists and Independent Jewish Voices Canada in fall 2017, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) began an audit of the Jewish National Fund for contravening Canadian charitable law. Despite the JNF openly supporting the Israeli military in explicit contravention of charitable law, the audit has been going on for a year and a half. The CRA is undoubtedly facing significant behind-the-scenes pressure to let the JNF off with little more than a slap on the wrist. In 2013 Trudeau attended a JNF gala and other Liberal cabinet ministers have participated in more recent events put on by an explicitly racist organization Liberal MP Michael Leavitt used to oversee. (In a positive step, the Beth Oloth Charitable Organization, which had $60 million in revenue in 2017, had its charitable status revoked in January for supporting the Israeli military.)

Of course, the Trudeau government would deny its racism towards Palestinians. They will point to their “aid” given to the Palestinian Authority. But, in fact much of that money is used in an explicit bid to advance Israel’s interests by building a security apparatus to protect the corrupt PA from popular disgust over its compliance in the face of ongoing Israeli settlement building. The Canadian military’s Operation Proteus, which contributes to the Office of the United States Security Coordinator, trains Palestinian security forces to suppress “popular protest” against the PA, the “subcontractor of the Occupation”.

In a recently published assessment of 80 donor reports from nine countries/institutions titled “Donor Perceptions of Palestine: Limits to Aid Effectiveness” Jeremy Wildeman concludes that Canada, the US and International Monetary Fund employed the most anti-Palestinian language. “Canada and the US,” the academic writes, “were preoccupied with providing security for Israel from Palestinian violence, but not Palestinians from Israeli violence, effectively inverting the relationship of occupier and occupied.”

At a recent meeting, BDS-Québec decided to launch a campaign targeting Justin Trudeau in the upcoming federal election campaign. The plan is to swamp his Papineau riding with leaflets and posters highlighting the Prime Minister’s anti-Palestinianism. It’s time politicians pay a political price for their active support of Israel’s racism.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 2 Comments

The DPRK’s News Report on The Recent Kim-Trump Meeting is Not Only Accurate But Highly Instructive

By Adam Garrie | Eurasia Future | 2019-07-04

After being conditioned to think of both South Korea and the United States as the “imperial savage aggressors”, it would clearly be a challenge for DPRK media directors to shift this narrative in order to prepare the people for the eventuality of peace and partnership with Seoul and Washington. Beyond this, if the DPRK leadership was apprehensive about the realistic chances of securing a comprehensive peace with the South and the United States, the news and propaganda output of the country would not have dramatically shifted in terms of how Americans and South Koreans are portrayed.

Last year, it was observed by frequent visitors to Pyongyang that old anti-American and anti-South posters and art displays had been replaced by public art emphasising a shared North-South Korean fraternity. This was a good indication that the DPRK was preparing its people for a shift in an otherwise semi-unilateral public mentality that has been carefully crafted since the days of Kim il-Sung.

Thus, in a country in which social developments tend to be stable and centrally managed, a change in official government narratives is vastly more indicative of actual policy than it would be in more open countries.

This trend was confirmed exponentially in the DPRK’s official television news report on the Kim-Trump summit on the DMZ. Contrary to what one might expect, the news broadcast is fully accurate in terms of its factual content and its failure to omit crucial details. The report speaks about the warm personal bonds between the DPRK’s Supreme Leader and the US President whilst also offering constructive realism about a would-be timeline for a final peace deal.

The DPRK report acknowledges that an extended peace process will be a gradual and time consuming phenomenon and that there are bound to be some reasonable disagreements along the way. However, the report remains optimistic that the sincere willingness of Kim and Trump to open up a new era of peace and enlightenment remains a goal that is both realistic and mutually advantageous.

In this sense, the tone of the DPRK’s report was more dignified and more accurate than what came out of western liberal media in the aftermath of the historic meeting during which time Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to enter the DPRK. Beyond this, the DPRK revealed previously unseen photos of Ivanka Trump shaking hands with Kim Jong-un. This contrasted sharply with liberal media’s mockery of Ivanka’s presence in Korea and in Japan for the G20 summit. Assuming that Donald Trump sees this footage, he will be all too aware that whilst American and European liberal media heaped scorn on his daughter, DPRK media portrayed her interaction with Kim in a stately and respectful manner.

The DPRK also showed footage of Kim shaking hands with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. As Mnuchin is best known for announcing new sanctions on multiple countries, the fact that he was personally introduced to Kim could be an indication that the US might become more wiling to lessen sanctions during rather than after the de-nuclearisation process.

Whilst scepticism might get otherwise non-entities onto television, the genuine spirit of optimism shared by Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump is palpable. The fact that this optimism is now being conveyed by the once stridently anti-American and anti-South DPRK media means that Pyongyang is conditioning its population for an irreversible shift in relations with the wider world.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Russia has ‘political will’ for arms reduction deal, but ball is in US’ court – Putin

RT | July 4, 2019

Russia does not seek an arms race, only protection, Vladimir Putin said shortly after suspending the INF treaty in a mirror response to the US. Moscow is open to a new arms reduction deal, but the US must reciprocate, he added.

In an extended interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily on Thursday, Putin pointed to the gargantuan difference between the US and Russian defense budgets, to dismiss the notion that Moscow could want to enter an arms race.

“Compare how much Russia spends on defense – some $48 billion, and how much the US spends – over $700 billion. Where is the arms race? We will not let ourselves be dragged into such a race, but we must ensure our security,” Putin said.

Reaching a comprehensive arms reduction agreement is what Moscow is striving for, but Washington doesn’t seem as willing, he said.

“Russia has the political will to work on this. Now it’s the US’ turn,” Putin said.

He pointed out that Moscow never heard back from the Trump administration after offering to sign a joint declaration on the inadmissibility of nuclear war in October, the same month Trump announced his intention to unilaterally withdraw from the cold-war era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Washington cited Russia’s alleged violations as it dismantled the cornerstone of European security, accusations that Moscow vehemently denied. In a mirror response, Russia has suspended the treaty as well. Putin signed the corresponding bill into law on Wednesday.

The treaty banned nuclear and non-nuclear ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of up to 5,000km.

After pulling the US out of the INF, Trump signaled that he would like to thrash out a trilateral nuclear pact that would also include China. The US president said that he discussed the possibility of striking such a “three-way-deal” in a phone call in May.

In spite of this rhetoric, Trump has been aggressively expanding the already immense US nuclear arsenal, spending billions of dollars on its build-up.

Last week, Trump bragged about the US war industry churning out “brand new nuclear weapons” that he “hopefully” will never use.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

EU choices for top posts a reflection of policies that led to its current mess

By John Laughland | RT | July 3, 2019

In spite of everything that has happened in the EU in the last five years, its member states contrived to select four politicians who embody total continuity with all the policies that led the EU into this mess in the first place.

None of the recent calamities have persuaded the bloc to even slightly alter its course. Not the rise of anti-system parties in Italy, Germany, France, Finland and elsewhere. Not the rise of patriotic forces in Poland and Hungary. And not Brexit, which in economic terms is equivalent to the loss of not one member state but 20, and which will destroy the current EU budget arrangements.

The four men and women whose appointments were hammered out on Tuesday are all determined to create a “United States of Europe” (to quote the future new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen) and therefore to proceed with the very same European integration which is causing so much internal stress in EU member states and its institutions. Moreover, three of the four come from the core EU states, the original founder members in 1951, with no one from the “new Europe” in Eastern or Central Europe. It is as if, in this time of deep crisis, the EU wanted to return to its sources from nearly 70 years ago, instead of re-inventing itself afresh to face the new challenges of the 21st century.

The most striking announcement is of course that of the top job, the German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen as Commission president. Because the Commission has a monopoly over the whole legislative and executive process in the EU institutions, this body is the motor which drives the whole machine. The parliament, by comparison, is powerless. The fact that Germany has now acquired control of the most important EU institution is remarkable, not least because it is the first time a German has held this post since the very first Commission president, Walter Hallstein, who had the job between 1958 and 1967. In the intervening decades, and especially since 1990, Germany has emerged as the hegemonic power in the EU and nothing is decided in Brussels without Berlin’s agreement.

Germany also dominates the European Parliament: four out of the seven groups in the parliament, and therefore over two-thirds of the members, are led by Germans. As Angela Merkel prepares to leave office in Berlin, therefore, she can be sure that her legacy will live on, and indeed increase, in Brussels and Strasbourg, where the EU institutions will be controlled by her closest political allies and heirs.

Ursula von der Leyen’s specific contribution, apart from her nationality and her status as a close ally of Angela Merkel, is that she is a committed supporter not only of the concept of a federal Europe but also of an EU army. As defense minister, she previously announced plans to invest €130 billion in Germany’s military over 15 years, and a 10 percent increase in 2019 to bring it up to €50 billion a year. If this re-militarization is dressed up in “European” clothes, then Cold War tensions on the European continent will only rise, something Mrs von der Leyen clearly wants: she is notorious for being one of the worst anti-Russian hawks in Germany and Europe.

Things are hardly better with the least important of the four nominations, that of Josep Borrell as foreign policy chief. Just as von der Leyen has said that Russia is no longer a partner, so Borrell described Russia as “an old enemy” in May: Russia summoned the Spanish ambassador in Moscow to the Foreign Ministry to protest. Borrell shares with von der Leyen a dogmatic yet self-contradictory belief in a “European defense compatible with Nato”: Nato is in reality dominated by the United States. And although he has been critical of the attempt by the US government to force regime change in Caracas, Borrell nonetheless supports the “recognition” of Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela: like his position on defense, this halfway house is also self-contradictory because if Guaido really were the legal president of Venezuela, as Borrell claims, then the young US puppet would have every right to remove Nicolas Maduro by force.

Charles Michel, the new president of the European Council, is the second Belgian to have occupied this essentially honorific post: Herman van Rompuy was appointed as the first president in 2009.  (The second was Donald Tusk; Michel is the third.) It is often said of Belgium that it has seven parliaments but no state: now Michel will have 27 governments but still no state. It would be difficult to imagine a more conformist politician than Charles Michel: this born liberal has never uttered an original word in his life. Moreover, like Ursula von der Leyen, he has EU politics in his blood. Like Ernst Albrecht, Ursula von der Leyen’s father, who was a senior official at the European Commission before he became minister president of Lower Saxony (Ursula was born in Brussels and went to the European School), Charles Michel’s father, Louis, was a Belgian foreign minister and European commissioner. Two out of yesterday’s four appointments are therefore dynastic, emphasizing the caste-like European political class, to which one should perhaps add Josep Borrell who is a former president of the European Parliament and a former president of the European University Institute in Florence.

In short, none of the four shines as a personality while several of them have been embroiled in financial scandals – Borrell for failing to declare a €300,000 a year consultancy job in 2012 and Lagarde for approving a state payout to a friend of Nicolas Sarkozy. Leyen has often been accused of incompetence as a minister, more concerned with her perfect hairdo than with running the German Army. All four have survived in politics, in most cases for decades, precisely because they have never deviated from the party line and have instead got where they are by doing as they are told.

As for the man elected president of the European Parliament on Wednesday, he has no power at all.  What little power the European Parliament has is vested in its members. David-Maria Sassoli’s election drives a further nail into the coffin of the principle of political representation because he represents a spent force in Italian politics. As a member of the Democratic Party, he stands for the old order which was swept away in Rome in 2018 when the new-left 5 Stars and new-right League built an alliance to thrust aside the old parties. Above all, Sassoli was vice-president in the previous parliament and therefore his election now is also an expression of continuity.

In short, faced with an existential crisis and a severe lack of credibility, the EU’s message to its voters and the world is: Business as usual.

John Laughland has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford and has taught at universities in Paris and Rome as a historian and specialist in international affairs.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Trump is finished with the Afghan war

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | July 4, 2019

There could be several ways of interpreting the US State Department’s decision on Tuesday to designate the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, which imposes economic sanctions on the group and anyone affiliated with it. What is absolutely certain is that this is by no means an altruistic decision by Washington.

The BLA is based in Afghanistan and has been waging a violent armed struggle against Pakistan for the past decade and a half upholding the right of self-determination of the Baloch people and demanding the separation of Balochistan province from Pakistan, apart from being involved in ethnic-cleansing of non-Baloch minorities in Balochistan.

Curiously, the BLA’s timeline (starting from 2004) has been co-terminus with the US’ occupation of Afghanistan. It is inconceivable that the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan were unaware of the BLA’s subversive activities or who were its mentors. Islamabad has been shouting and screaming from the rooftop all this while that its adversaries exploited the group as a proxy to destabilise Pakistan.

Put differently, the timing of the State Department decision banning the BLA is noteworthy. Why now, at this juncture?

These are extraordinary times when almost anything and everything that the US does in the Greater Middle East would have an eye on Iran with which it is locked in an epochal rivalry. Can it be that by making this gesture, Washington hopes to recruit Pakistani military and intelligence to strengthen further its ‘maximum pressure’ strategy against Iran? The possibility cannot be ruled out.

Of course, this is not to suggest that Pakistan will make hostile moves against Iran. Although Pakistan-Iran relations have been highly problematic through the past four decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and their mutual animosity kept frothing from time to time, things never reached a flashpoint as both sides observed certain ground rules of how far to go and what not to do. In the present context, Pakistan will take utmost care not to get entangled in the US-Iran standoff.

Having said that, there is a vital US-Pakistani convergence over Iran that cannot be overlooked, either. That is, when it comes to the Afghan situation. Iran has made it clear that if the US attacks it, it will retaliate against American assets all across the region. There have been two statements at least by senior US officials lately that Iran is moving against American assets in Afghanistan. Iran, of course, has stoutly rejected the allegation, but the US is paranoid — and not without reason.

The point is, apart from the traditional links with the Shi’ite groups in Afghanistan, Tehran also has dealings with the Taliban. Coincidence or not, Washington moved against the BLA within days of an incident in the eastern Afghan province of Wardak on June 26 in which two US soldiers were killed by the Taliban in an ambush.

The incident took place only a day after after Pompeo stopped in the Afghan capital, Kabul, for daylong talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as well as other senior leaders and opposition politicians to discuss two topics, namely, the US’ ongoing efforts to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban and the potential that Iran has to carry out actions that would jeopardise the US exit strategy out of Afghanistan. (Read a report in Geopolitics magazine entitled Two Topics Dominating Pompeo’s Visit to Afghanistan.)

In fact, the US apprehends that an extremely dangerous situation is arising in Afghanistan even as the withdrawal of American troops accelerates. President Trump disclosed in an interview this week with Tucker Carlson on FOX television that the US troop level has come down to 9,000 from 16,000 already. Trump made no bones about the fact that he is finished with the war in Afghanistan.

At one point in the interview, Trump bursts out, “I’d like to just get out.” Trump claims that he intends to keep a “very strong” intelligence presence in Afghanistan. He couldn’t care less anymore whether there will be a broad-based government in Kabul or a Taliban takeover. He’s well past that point of agonising. At one point, Trump implied to Carlson — who also happens to be an inveterate critic of America’s “endless wars” — that he no longer trusts the judgment or integrity of the military commanders. (By the way, Carlson accompanied Trump to the meeting with North Korea Kim Jong-Un in Panmunjom while NSA John Bolton was sent away to Mongolia.)

This is where Pakistani help becomes critical. Ghani’s government lacks legitimacy but the holding of a presidential election in September, as planned, depends heavily on a settlement with the Taliban. The US expects Pakistani help in three directions: one, persuading the Taliban to reach an agreement at the Qatar talks without any further delay; two, enabling the US to withdraw the troops expeditiously and in an orderly fashion; and, three, creating politico-security conditions to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power in Kabul. Of course, it is a tall order.

The Americans know that Iran can escalate in Afghanistan anytime it wishes. Afghanistan falls within the domain of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, commanded by the legendary general Qassem Soleimani who was the bête noire of the US and Israel in Iraq and Syria. Of course, if Soleimani creates a hopeless situation like in Vietnam (which forced the US into a humiliating retreat from the rooftop of the American embassy in Saigon), that will be highly damaging for Trump politically in the midst of his campaign for the 2020 election. And that is precisely why Trump is impatient to cut loose and get out from Afghanistan without even waiting for the implementation of any peace agreement with Taliban.

All this should be a morality play for the Indian strategists and policymakers as they pick up the debris of their own Afghan policies and its $2 billion price tag, which has been predicated so heavily through the past decade and a half on the US strategy. Equally, this should be a wake-up call for the Indian lobbyists who still want to bandwagon with the US in other regional theatres such as Sri Lanka, the Maldives or Nepal. (See blog US eyes Sri Lanka as its military logistics hub.)

For sure, the Afghan war has not ended. Trump recalled poignantly that the 9/11 attacks were not staged by Afghans but the Hindu Kush provided the plotters a “lab for terrorists”. Now, the US can only take the word of the Taliban that such a thing will not repeat. Washington’s best hope will be that Pakistan will keep an eagle’s eye to ensure that the terrorists from Afghanistan will not come visiting the US.

In turn, that is going to create an interdependency between the US and Pakistan. The IMF bailout, the ban on the BLA, the near-certainty that Pakistan is off the hook at the upcoming plenary of the Financial Action Task Force, an official visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the White House  — these are the starters from the US side. Pakistan is highly experienced in dictating the terms of engagement with the US.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Airlines no longer avoiding Iran airspace despite US ban: Official

Press TV – July 4, 2019

Iran’s top aviation official says that major international airlines have been returning to skies south of the country after a brief hiatus caused by an Iran-US military escalation in the region.

Siavosh Amir Mokri, who heads Iran Airports and Air Navigation Company, said on Thursday that the number of flights using Iranian-controlled skies above the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman had increased over the past several days to reach its normal level of 840 flights a day.

The official said the increased use of the airspace came despite a notam (Notice to Airmen) issued by US Federal Aviation Administration on June 21 which banned flights from using skies above the region.

The notam came after Iran shot down an intruding American drone which officials said had violated the country’s airspace above the Persian Gulf waters.

The move caused a serious escalation in military tensions between Iran and the United States and caused major airlines, including British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa, to follow the FAA instructions and stop to use the Iranian airspace.

However, Amir Mokri said carriers had reversed the decision as they have noticed that security in the Persian Gulf has been restored. He said that returning to the Iranian airspace would also be more economic for the airlines.

“That tension is gone and airline companies have understood that the country’s airspace is still safe,” he said, adding that the number of international flights using the Iranian airspace had decreased to 800 a day, down five percent, since the downing of the US drone by Iran.

The official said Iran had lodged an official complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organization over the FAA notam as it inflicted losses on the country. He said Iran’s total revenues from overflight fees in the last Iranian calendar year which ended in March topped $180 million.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Bolton hails sanctions for ‘severing ties’ between Cuba & Venezuela

RT | July 4, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s national security hawk John Bolton has vowed to “sever ties” between Havana and Caracas with sanctions on oil and other exports after an Italian oil shipping firm folded under pressure.

The US State Department has lifted sanctions from the Italy-based PB Tankers oil shipping company, commending it for taking steps to “ensure that its vessels no longer were complicit in supporting the former Maduro regime.”

The company was sanctioned in April along with three others, accused by the US of aiding Maduro government by transporting oil from Venezuela, including to Cuba. The inclusion on the list came like a bolt out of the blue to PB Tankers, which said it was “shocked and concerned” by the development, while pledging to comply with the demands.

While the Italian firm caved in to the US’ browbeating, Washington slapped sanctions on Cubametales, a Cuban state-run company. In a statement on Wednesday, the State Department called it a “prime facilitator of oil imports from Venezuela” for its attempt to breach the US economic blockade.

Bolton apparently took pride in having bullied businesses into denying services to Venezuela, tweeting that the US “will continue to take actions” to end what he called an “oil for repression” scheme.

“We will continue to sever the ties between Cuba and Venezuela that contribute to repression,” he wrote.

Cuba has denounced the new sanctions as an illegal meddling attempt.

“The US has no right to impose unilateral measures on entities of Cuba or any other country trading with Venezuela,” Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez tweeted.

The Trump administration has been hell-bent on stamping out the close cooperation between Venezuela and Cuba, which along with Russia, China, Turkey and several other Latin American nations, took Maduro’s side in the ongoing political turmoil.

Washington has accused Havana of playing a “destabilizing” role in Latin America, and in Venezuela, in particular, hitting it with rounds of sanctions for refusing to abandon its major ally.

Bolton went as far as claiming the Venezuelan military would defect from Maduro to self-declared ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido if Cubans “let them do it.”

Bolton has never been shy about the US’ true intentions in Venezuela, openly encouraging regime change while claiming that Guaido enjoys “overwhelming public support” after the failed coup attempt, an assertion that did not age well considering that the stalemate between the Maduro government and the opposition is still ongoing.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments

UK seizes ‘Syria-bound oil tanker’ in Gibraltar on suspicion of violating EU bans

Press TV – July 4, 2019

The British overseas territory Gibraltar says it has seized a supertanker on suspicion of carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of European Union (EU) sanctions against the Arab country.

In a statement released on Thursday, Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the territory’s police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, had seized the Grace 1 vessel.

Gibraltar, he added, had reasonable grounds to believe that the tanker was carrying its crude oil shipment to the Banyas refinery in Syria.

“That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria,” Picardo said. “With my consent, our port and law enforcement agencies sought the assistance of the Royal Marines in carrying out this operation.”

A British Foreign Office spokesman welcomed what he called a “firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities, acting to enforce the EU Syria Sanctions regime,” which has been in place against the Arab country since 2011.

UK media claimed Refinitiv Eikon mapping indicates the ship had loaded “Iranian oil” on April 17 and sailed a longer route around the southern tip of Africa instead of via Egypt’s Suez Canal.

Syrian and Iranian officials have not yet commented on the report.

Spain: Tanker detained by on U.S. request to Britain

Later in the day, acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said Gibraltar detained the supertanker Grace 1 after a request by the United States to Britain.

Borrell was quoted by Reuters as saying that Spain was looking into the seizure of the ship and how it may affect Spanish sovereignty as it appears to have happened in Spanish waters.

Spain does not recognize the waters around Gibraltar as British.

Britain’s Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Koch and Soros Team Up For World Peace! WTF?

Corbett • 07/04/2019

In case you haven’t heard, George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation have teamed up to help launch a new Washington think tank. The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft will be “an action-oriented think tank that will lay the foundation for a new foreign policy centered on diplomatic engagement and military restraint.” So what gives? What’s the real agenda here? And what does this mean for those who hold a principled anti-war stance. Join James as he explores these issues on The Corbett Report today.

SHOW NOTES
In an astonishing turn, George Soros and Charles Koch team up to end US ‘forever war’ policy

Kinzer on The White Helmets

Previous Corbett Report coverage on Soros

The Quincy Institute homepage


Watch this video on BitChute / DTube / YouTube

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Video | | 1 Comment