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Abbas’s la-la land and the evolution of the American love affair with Israel

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | August 5, 2019

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is ready to “go to the White House and continue what [he] started with [US President] Donald Trump.” With this and other confusing statements, Abbas tried to articulate the new Palestinian political agenda to foreign reporters in Ramallah last month.

According to Abbas, the PA is ready to return to negotiations with Israel if two conditions are met: Washington is to reverse its stance on East Jerusalem, thus recognising it as an occupied Palestinian city; and there is a renewed commitment to the so-called two-state solution. “I will not accept a one-state solution because one state will be an apartheid state,” Abbas insisted.

Aside from the Palestinian leader’s insubstantial logic, the official Palestinian discourse emanating from Ramallah these days seems oblivious to the massively changing political reality in Washington over the past two years or so. Remarks by Abbas, his recently-appointed Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh or other PA officials are apparently based on the logic of a bygone era, one in which the US claimed, however falsely, to be an honest broker for peace; a period that lasted for nearly 25 years and during which PA officials benefited from the massive “peace process” racket, bankrolled by the US and other countries.

However, the jig is up. The PA has ceased to serve any useful purpose for the Israelis and their American benefactors, apart from the continued and shameful “security coordination” aimed largely at suppressing any Palestinian resistance to Israel’s brutal occupation.

Everyone seems to acknowledge this seismic change, except the PA. While failing to understand the nature of the new challenge and redeem its past mistakes, the PA insists on remaining a major stumbling block to a new Palestinian strategy, one that should counter relentless US-Israeli efforts aimed at circumventing international law and, as a result, dismissing all Palestinian rights entirely.

Listening to PA officials speak makes one wonder if they are truly aware that the language coming out of Washington has shifted unmistakably, not only in its degree of bias towards Israel, but also in its complete adoption of the Israeli narrative in terms of nuances, religious fervour and political priorities. US officials now speak as one with members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing extremist coalition. The following examples illustrate the new US rhetoric that requires a complete Palestinian departure from their tired and clichéd language of the past.

On 6 December, 2017, Donald Trump said in a White House statement: “Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs. But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”

Trump’s infatuation with Israel is paralleled by complete disrespect and disregard for Palestinians. On 2 January 2018, he tweeted: “We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

US Vice President Mike Pence concurs. On 15 May last year, Pence said in celebration of Israel’s independence that Trump had done more to bring the US and Israel “closer together in a year than any president in the past 70 years.” He referred to him as “the greatest defender the Jewish state has ever had.” According to Pence, “President Trump made history now.”

For her part, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley played a major role in trying to marginalise Palestinians on the international stage. On 6 October last year she insisted that, “The Palestinians are not a UN Member State or any state at all. The United States will continually point that out in our remarks at UN events led by the Palestinians.”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, meanwhile, has the perfect blend of Pence’s religious fanaticism and Haley’s political opportunism. In an interview with the New York Times published on 8 June, he said that, “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

Friedman’s open support for Israeli colonialism was matched by comments made by US Middle East “peace” envoy Jason Greenblatt two weeks later: “We might get there [to a peace deal] if people stop pretending settlements, or what I prefer to call ‘neighbourhoods and cities’, are the reason for the lack of peace.” He brushed aside the fact that all of Israel’s colonial-settlements are illegal under international law since they have been built on Palestinian land under Israeli military occupation since 1967.

When the PA dared to protest against such political bullying, Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner lashed out on 3 July at the “hysterical and erratic” Palestinian leadership. “The door is always open for the Palestinian leadership… If they stop saying crazy things,” he added.

According to the new American political lexicon, Palestinians have absolutely no rights; international law has no relevance; and supposedly democratic Israel is a model state incapable of erring. In Washington’s la-la land, there can be no room or tolerance for discussions about military occupation, illegal settlements, genocidal wars, sieges and apartheid if they involve even the slightest criticism of Israel.

Considering America’s complete and unconditional adoption of the Israeli agenda, Abbas should stop talking about negotiations and conditions. Instead, he should revitalise and unite the Palestinian front to counter the US-Israeli menace and its political lackeys across the Middle East.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

UK teen claims forced to retract rape accusation against Israelis

MEMO | August 5, 2019

A 19-year-old British teen who was allegedly gang raped by 12 Israelis at a resort town in Cyprus has claimed she was forced to retract her accusation under pressure from local police.

Last month, 12 Israelis aged 15 to 18 were arrested on suspicion of raping a British teen in their hotel room in the popular tourist resort of Aya Napa, Cyprus. However, little over a week later all 12 teenagers were released and allowed to return to Israel after the British woman admitted to having fabricated her accusations against them.

The teen confessed that she had engaged in consensual sex with several of the Israelis but was filmed by them in the process, making her feel “angry and insulted” enough to file the rape accusation. She was subsequently arrested and could face up to a year in prison for misleading local authorities.

However, the unnamed British teen has now claimed that she was forced to retract her initial accusation against the Israelis under duress, arguing she was denied access to a lawyer and that Cypriot police threatened to arrest her friends if she did not recant her testimony.

According to an exclusive yesterday by British newspaper the Sun, the teen “says she was denied a lawyer and then pressurised to withdraw her complaint by [Cypriot] detectives, who threatened to arrest her friends for ‘conspiracy’ if she did not comply”.

“The teenager claims officers then dictated a statement in which she admitted faking allegations,” the British daily added, “and she reluctantly signed only because she was exhausted after eight hours at the police station.”

The British teen’s lawyer, Michael Polak, argued that “[the girl’s] confession was obtained under oppression given the threats made. She was not cautioned and was not given access to a lawyer as was her right under the European Convention on Human Rights.”

“It is also understood that unfortunately none of the proceedings at the Cypriot police station were recorded,” Polak added.

The Sun also claims to have seen police reports of the incident, including medical examinations of two Israelis which found “suspicious scratches” and “bruises on their backs and chests, as if they had been in a struggle”.

The newspaper added that the Israeli teens then “told detectives they had been attacked at the hotel by the girl’s friends,” but added that “the hotel’s manager insisted no such fight took place”.

The girl’s allegations add yet another element to an incident fraught with discrepancies and conflicting narratives, which has raised questions about the Cypriot authorities’ handling of the case and the early release of the Israeli teens.

Last week, seven of the accused teens returned to Israel, being greeted by fanfare and celebration at the country’s Ben Gurion Airport. As Israeli daily the Times of Israel reported at the time, the “teens were jubilant when they were greeted by their cheering families” and “loudly celebrated their release by opening champagne bottles, chanting ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ [the people of Israel live] along with ‘the Brit is a whore’.”

The teens did not express any regret about the incident, with one telling Hebrew-language media: “I feel great. The truth came out and I am happy.” Another teen called his release “a miracle from God” and vowed to sue the British teen for libel.

Meanwhile Israeli journalists, social media activists and onlookers criticised the boys’ “hero’s welcome”, pointing out that had the alleged incident taken place in Israel, the teens would have faced criminal charges for filming the sex act, which was made illegal in Israel in 2014.

It is not yet clear whether there is now any recourse to re-investigate the Israelis should the British teen’s accusations against the Cypriot police be proven. She currently remains in custody and is slated to appear in court on Wednesday, though could wait several months until being brought to trial.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | 3 Comments

New Trend in Israel: Military-Themed Summer Camps for Kids

The “new trend in summertime fun” for Israeli schoolchildren is “military-themed summer camps and courses. (Photo: Twitter)
Palestine Chronicle | August 5, 2019

The “new trend in summertime fun” for Israeli schoolchildren is “military-themed summer camps and courses”, reported Israeli publication Calcalist on Friday.

In one center – “The Squadron” – a reservist brigadier general provides children with “briefing rooms” and flight simulators, where participants recreate the 1981 Israeli attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor.

During week two, the children “have their first taste of air battles and air strikes”. One of the camp leaders told the paper:

“They are not here to pass the time, they are here to receive values.”

Another summer activity includes martial arts training – Krav Maga – for children as young as 12-years-old, with tasks named “preparation for operational fire” and “counterterrorism 101”.

A paintball company, meanwhile, offers daily activities based on the Israeli army’s “enlistment process and basic training”, moving children “through a military-style obstacle course and teaching them how to fire semi-automatic (paintball) weapons”.

One a recent day, Calcalist reported, “150 summer camp kids arrived here for Bootcamp training”. Older children “come for daily activities in a special set designed for urban warfare: densely-built houses burned vehicles, and sniper posts.”

Other centers offer courses in cyberwarfare for “tech-leaning kids”, with one child telling the reporter:

“I want to serve in Unit 8200 [the military unit which conducts surveillance of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory].”

“I want to be a white hat, the one who stops the hackers with the black hats. White hats hack, say, for the Mossad, to find out things needed to protect the country, unlike black hats that are interested in criminal things like money or world domination,” he added.

According to Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), “these summer camps are an expression of the cultural militarism that characterizes Israeli society”.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Israel government to honor extremist rabbi calling for killing non-Jews

Palestine Information Center | August 5, 2019

NAZARETH – The Israeli government intends to honor an extremist rabbi who has applauded the killing of non-Jews, especially the Muslims and Palestinians.

According to Haaretz newspaper, education minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz and transportation minister Bezalel Smotrich will honor rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, who praised the 1994 massacre in al-Khalil city and was previously charged with inciting racism.

The ministers will speak at a Thursday event during which a prize will be awarded to Ginsburgh.

The US-born rabbi is known for publishing a pamphlet praising the actions of terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 carried out the massacre at the Ibrahimi Mosque, in which he killed 29 Muslims and injured dozens as they were praying.

Ginsburgh is also among the rabbis who endorsed the book “The King’s Torah,” which discusses circumstances in which Jews may kill non-Jews according to Jewish law.

The prize will be awarded under the auspices of an institution called the “Cathedra for Torah and Wisdom,” which receive financial support from the education ministry’s department for Jewish culture.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 2 Comments

London council cancels pro-Palestine event over anti-Semitism claims

MEMO | August 5, 2019

London Borough of Tower Hamlets refused to host the closing rally of the annual bike ride raising money for Palestinian children in the besieged Gaza over claims it would breach the IHRA’s anti-Semitism criteria, the Guardian reported on Saturday.

The council told the Big Ride for Palestine, which was established on the first anniversary of Israel’s 2014 offensive on Gaza and which has raised nearly £150,000 for sports equipment for children in the enclave, that the event could not go ahead in the borough “without problems”.

However, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign won a Freedom of Information battle in an effort to discover the reasons behind the council’s refusal to host the event. Internal emails revealed that council staff agreed not to make public “anti-Semitism concerns”.

While the council officials, according to the Guardian, told the organisers that there was a risk speakers might express views which contradicted the council’s policies on community cohesion and equality, behind the scenes the council attributed the reasons to “real risk” of violating IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism.

The council’s concerns were linked to the Big Ride’s website describing Israel’s illegal occupation and siege of the Gaza Strip as “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing”.

When considering how to explain the decision, the Guardian said, one council official said it would be wise to “avoid the anti-Semitism aspect… as this could open a can of worms and come back to bite us”.

The Guardian reported a council spokesman saying: “The council gave the application careful consideration and decided not to host the event, because we do not host rallies with political connotations, albeit without direct links to political parties.”

However a spokesperson for the charity said its work was focused on helping the 300,000 children in Gaza showing signs of severe psychological distress.

The spokesperson added: “It’s a dreadful thing when an over-scrupulous interpretation of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is used behind closed doors to prevent awareness raising of the situation in Palestine and the need for humanitarian support.”

It’s not too late to donate, follow this link and give what you can.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 3 Comments

Finally Time for DNC Email Evidence

By Patrick Lawrence | Consortium News | August 5, 2019

Three years after the narrative we call Russiagate was framed and incessantly promoted, it crumbles into rubble as we speak. The mini-empire of allegations, presuppositions, fallacious syllogisms, leaps of logic, imagined connections and mis– and disinformation marshaled to support charges of Russian interference in the 2016 elections is more or less a ruin.

The total collapse of the Russiagate orthodoxy now appears within reach — this for the first time since the Democratic National Committee set the narrative in motion after its email servers were compromised during the Trump–Clinton presidential contest. There is a good chance — though this is not a certainty — that Attorney General William Barr’s just-launched investigation will fully expose the numerous charges of Russian intervention as fabrications. Evidence of these fabrications, long available but ignored in a remarkably prevalent case of willful blindness, continues to grow such that it may be difficult to obscure it much longer.

It is now officially acknowledged that there is no credible evidence that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. At this point, the demonstrably bogus assertion that Russian intelligence hacked into the DNC’s email system in mid–2016 is the one remaining feature of the Russiagate orthodoxy that is commonly considered rock solid.

The mythology on this question remains deeply embedded, the absence of any supporting evidence notwithstanding. Press and broadcast reports rarely miss an opportunity to cast Russian responsibility for the DNC email intrusion as a foregone conclusion. But this, too, is a tower built on sand. To put Russiagate decisively in the past now comes to demolishing this last, unsound edifice. The rest is already too discredited for anyone but naïve liberals, wishful-thinking “progressives” and the most committed ideologues to take seriously.

 This focuses attention on the evidence — considerable and accumulating — that Russian intelligence agencies, officially charged with intrusion into the DNC’s servers, had nothing to do with it. It is now two years since technically qualified intelligence professionals of long experience reported via Consortium News that the theft of Democratic Party email in 2016 was neither a hack nor a Russian intelligence operation. In July 2017 Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity presented persuasive evidence that the DNC’s servers had been compromised by someone with direct access to them.

The email messages subsequently posted by WikiLeaks had been pilfered by an insider of unknown identity: This was the conclusion VIPS drew in VIPS50, the group’s report on the mail incident, on the basis of the evidence it had gathered while working with other independent forensic investigators. The “hack,” in short, was not a hack. It was a leak.

A cacophony of objections erupted after Consortium posted VIPS50. Much — vastly too much — has been made of a group of “dissenters” within the VIPS organization who did not endorse the report. But neither these dissenters nor the many others attempting to discredit VIPS50 have succeeded in doing so. No countervailing evidence from any quarter has been presented. Based on continuing research, VIPS subsequently altered some of its initial conclusions, as noted in this space a year ago. But its principal findings stand.

VIPS50 

This puts VIPS50, while still officially excluded from the record, among the most consequential documents to be published since the Russiagate narrative took shape three years ago. If we are to recover from the destructive, divisive nightmare Russiagate has become, VIPS50 will be key to the process. There are indications now that its findings, based on impartially conducted data analysis and forensic science, will soon get the consideration they have deserved from the first. My sources suggest Barr’s office is making use of VIPS report and subsequent findings as it begins its investigation into the genesis of the Russiagate allegations.

Much anticipation preceded the publication in mid–April of the report on Russian interference completed in the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Contrary to prevalent expectations, however, the 448–page document failed to confirm the case for Russiagate and did much to weaken it. Not only did the report conclude that neither President Trump nor anyone in his campaign colluded with Russia as he fought the 2016 election; it also made clear that the special counsel’s office did not undertake a credible investigation of the charge that Russian intelligence hacked the DNC’s mail servers.

Mueller failed to call numerous key witnesses, among them Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and publisher, and Bill Binney, formerly a technical director at the National Security Agency and one of several technical experts in the VIPS group. He also failed to pursue alternative theories in the email-theft case; a duty of any investigator in Mueller’s position. Only the willfully blind can accept these irregularities as legitimate conduct.

Remarkably enough, Mueller’s investigation appears to have conducted no forensic tests of its own to verify allegations of a Russian hacking operation. It relied instead on the patently faulty findings of Crowdstrike, the disreputable cyber-security firm that was working for the DNC by mid–2016. Critically, the special counsel also appears to have neglected to consult the NSA for evidence pertaining to the DNC incident. Had the intrusion been a hack conducted over the internet, by Russians or anyone else, the agency would have a fully detailed digital record of the operation and the means to trace the intervention to its perpetrators. Why, it is perfectly logical to ask, was such a record not cited prominently in the Mueller report?

Mueller’s testimony before two congressional committees on July 24 was a further blow to the Russiagate thesis. The special counsel came over as a detached, out-of-touch figurehead with a very loose grip on his own investigation and poor knowledge of the report bearing his signature. Soon afterward, even Trump’s adversaries in the Democratic camp began to give up the ghost. “In the hours and days after Mr. Mueller gave his opening statement before the House Judiciary Committee,” wrote Samuel Moyn, a Yale law professor, “it became clear how tenaciously many liberals and progressives are clinging to fantasy.” Moyn’s piece appeared in The New York Times. The headline reads, “The Mueller Fantasy Comes Crashing Down.”

Despite the stunningly anticlimactic outcome of the Mueller report and his subsequent appearance on Capitol Hill — which was intended from the first to be a matter of spectacle rather than substance — new allegations of Russian interference  continue to arrive on front pages and in news broadcasts. The latest came the day after Mueller’s testimony, when the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that Russia intruded into the election systems of all 50 states during the 2016 campaigns. The report offered no supporting evidence, per usual. It was heavily redacted at the request of the relevant intelligence agencies, again per usual.

Question of Evidence

This brings us to the question of evidence. To go back to the initial allegations of Russian interference three years ago, at no point since have any of these commonly accepted charges been accompanied by hard, legally and logically sound evidence to back them up. This astonishing lacuna, while intently papered over in the media, on Capitol Hill, at the Justice Department, in the intelligence apparatus, and among law-enforcement agencies, has rendered the Russiagate orthodoxy vulnerable from the first. It now emerges that the evidence problem is worse than even the most committed critics of the Russiagate narrative had thought.

This came to light this spring, during the pre-trial discovery phase of the case against Roger Stone, the onetime Trump aide charged with obstructing justice and misleading Congress. When Stone’s attorneys requested Crowdstrike’s final report on the DNC email theft, which they said was relevant to his defense, prosecutors returned with the stunning revelation that Crowdstrike, the DNC’s cyber-security firm, never submitted a final report. “The government does not possess the information the defendant seeks,” the Justice Department responded via a court filing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s failure to take possession of the DNC’s email servers from Crowdstrike after the mid–2016 intrusion, a shocking case of official malfeasance, has long been dismissed as an unimportant detail. We now know that the FBI, the Justice Department and the Mueller investigation relied on nothing more than three Crowdstrike drafts — all of them redacted by Crowdstrike — to build the case for Russia’s culpability in the theft of the DNC’s email.

Not only did the FBI fail to establish a proper chain of evidentiary custody after the incident at the DNC; it is now clear the bureau knows of the email theft only what Crowdstrike chose to tell it. There is no evidence that the FBI asked the NSA for its records of the incident. Nor is there any indication that Crowdstrike has ever given the FBI or prosecutors in the Stone case the data it used to produce its never-completed report. “Crowdstrike appears to have destroyed evidence or is hiding it,” Bill Binney said in a telephone interview.

The corporate media continue to pretend in their press reports and news broadcasts that the official investigation of the DNC email incident was conducted according to the highest standard of legitimacy. Democrats on Capitol Hill, still pursuing their own investigations, never question the validity of the officially constructed case alleging Russia’s responsibility. The revelation of negligence the Stone trial brings to light, which amounts to corruption, could hardly expose this prolonged charade more starkly.

Forensic investigators, meantime, continue to gather evidence supporting the leak-not-hack case made in VIPS50. The gap thus widens between the official story of the DNC mail incident and the case supported by forensic research done by VIPS and other independent investigators working in association with it.

Last February these investigators discovered that email pilfered in 2016 and subsequently conveyed to WikiLeaks had been stored according to a system called File Allocation Table, or FAT. The FAT system time-stamps data according to their last modifications and, because it is less precise than other storage systems, it rounds up time stamps to the next even number. If the FAT system is used to store data, it is a strong indication that the data were stored on a memory key or another such portable device.

In the 35, 816 email messages investigators examined, the FAT system assigned even-numbered time stamps to all of them. Binney, a mathematician by training, puts the chance of this occurring without the use of a portable storage device at 1 in 2 to the 35,816thpower — meaning it is a virtual impossibility.

The FAT numbering pattern detected in the email messages tested does not indicate at what stage or where a portable device was used. It shows only that such a device was used at some point in the handling of the data; a portable device may or may not have been used to execute the initial download. But the presence of the FAT system in the metadata of the emails tested adds another layer of circumstantial evidence supporting the VIPS case that the theft of DNC mail was a leak executed locally via a portable device and not a remote hack conducted through the internet. At the very least, it is an additional line of inquiry the FBI, the intelligence agencies, and the Mueller investigation have left unexamined.

VIPS Dissenters

Among the critics of VIPS50, none has influenced public opinion as much as the dissenters within the group’s membership. The presence of these dissenters has been evident since VIPS50 went through repeated drafts over a period of nearly two weeks. This is a group of honorable, in many cases brave people. But they advanced no coherent objections to the VIPS document prior to its publication, and this remained the case for some time after Consortium News posted it on July 24, 2017. Having begun reporting on VIPS50 shortly after that date, I found — and continue to find — the dissenters’ position heavily inflected with personal animosities and political leanings having no bearing on the validity of the VIPS50 findings.

A number of dissenters signed a contribution to a forum The Nation hosted after the magazine published a piece I wrote on VIPS50 in August 2017. This was the first time the dissenters publicly presented substantive objections to VIPS50, and they focused on the core of the VIPS case. This case continues to rest primarily on the speed at which a mail theft could be executed in mid–2016. The transfer speed, identified by an analysis of metadata found on documents stolen at that time, was considerably faster than the rate possible over the internet at the time of the intrusion, indicating a leak by someone using a portable storage device and with direct access to the DNC’s servers.

The dissenting group took specific issue with these findings. “Data-transfer speeds across networks and the Internet measured in megabits per second (or megabytes per second) can easily achieve rates that greatly exceed the cited reference in the VIPS memo,” the dissidents wrote.

It was at this point the dissenters repeated the failures of the intelligence apparatus and the Mueller investigation: They produced no evidence. There is no indication the dissenters conducted tests to support their assertion on the speed question. The VIPS memo applied scientific method to the DNC mail theft for the first time and was intended as an “evidence to date” document. This marked a transformative advance in how the DNC incident can be understood: The imperative since has been to bring countervailing evidence to the investigative process, which continues. No one —not the dissenters, not the DNC, not the “intelligence community,” not Mueller, not the press — has done so.

The dissenters have been silent since their contribution to The Nation’s forum. Members have declined invitations to work with VIPS50 signatories to develop further the evidence presented in the memo. When I queried a number of dissenters for this commentary, one replied. This person did not address the findings of forensic investigators while reproducing what VIPS50 signatories term the “emotional arguments” that have characterized the dissenters’ response to the memo since the drafting phase two summers ago. These continuing difficulties appear partly to reflect a desire not to be seen defending either Trump or the Russians.

Barr’s Investigation

The NSA, the CIA, the FBI, the Mueller investigation, the press — none has shown the slightest interest in the findings outlined in VIPS50. This can come as no surprise, given the heavy investments all of these entities have made in the Russians-did-it explanation of the DNC email incident. But this omission is nonetheless negligent when one considers the contradicting evidence VIPS and those associated with it continue to amass. A key question now arises: Will the Barr investigation into the genesis of allegations of Russian interference, begun three months ago, transcend this politically inspired ignorance to expose official accounts of the mid–2016 mail theft as fallacies?

The early signs were that Barr’s investigators would at last explode the Russiagate narrative. Trump was unmistakably determined to do so when he urged Barr to “investigate the investigators” last spring. In mid–May Barr appointed John Durham, a federal prosecutor, to direct this effort. Ten days later Trump gave Barr “full and complete authority to declassify information” related to the conduct of the intelligence agencies, the FBI, and the Justice Department.

It was clear very early that Trump was aware of VIPS50 and entertained a lively interest in its findings. In September 2017, two months after Consortiumpublished the memo, he ordered Mike Pompeo, then director of the CIA, to interview Bill Binney, the leading technical expert within the VIPS group. Pompeo did so in October 2017, but by Binney’s account he flinched: Pompeo heard Binney out at the president’s insistence, but he never pursued the forensic findings the former NSA technical director walked him through.

This was an early sign, it is now plain, that even efforts to unearth the truth of the allegations against Russia that emanate from the White House would meet political resistance. Another came last Friday, when Trump was forced to drop John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican who pledged to support a full investigation of Russiagate, as his nominee to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence. While Ratcliffe considered the orthodox Russiagate narrative bogus, Coats was vigorous in his promotion of it.

This makes political will another key question to ask of the Barr investigation: Full exposure of the travesty of Russiagate is almost certainly within Barr’s power to achieve. Will he do so?

Whether Trump will remain consistent in his backing of Barr is another such question. While Trump habitually terms Russiagate “a hoax,” he has also indicated on a number of occasions that his true objective is simply to escape the charge that he colluded with Russians to win the 2016 election. “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election,” Trump tweeted earlier this year. “I said, ‘It may be Russia, or China, or another country or group, or it may be a 400–pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia—it never did!”

A president who slips and slides, an administrative state — the Deep State if you like — thoroughly committed to defending falsified accounts of the mid–2016 intrusions into the DNC’s email servers, a supine press: It is impossible to say when or whether the truth of the events of three years ago will emerge. The evidence is there, sufficient now to conclude the Russigate case. The greatest remaining obstacle is the willful ignorance that incubated the Russiagate narrative and now prolongs it. We reach a point when evidence and more evidence, along with political integrity, are the only effective replies to this cynical, foolish, and costly recalcitrance.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist. His website is Patrick Lawrence.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Let Mass Shooters and the New York Times Destroy Freedom of Speech

By Thomas L. Knapp | Garrison Center | August 5, 2019

“Online communities like 4chan and 8chan have become hotbeds of white nationalist activity,” wrote the editors of the New York Times  on August 4 in the wake of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. Then: “Law enforcement currently offers few answers as to how to contain these communities.”

Wait, what? Is the Times really implying what it looks like they’re implying? Yes.

“Technology companies have a responsibility to de-platform white nationalist propaganda and communities as they did ISIS propaganda,” the editorial continues. “And if the technology companies refuse to step up, law enforcement has a duty to vigilantly monitor and end the anonymity, via search warrants, of those who openly plot attacks in murky forums.”

Translation: The New York Times has announced its flight from the battlefield of ideas. Instead of countering bad ideas with good ideas, they want Big Tech and Big Government to forcibly suppress the ideas they disagree with.

Not so long ago, the Times‘s editors endorsed a very different view:

“One of the Internet’s great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft’s home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.”

Now the Times says providers have a “responsibility” to block access to sites the Times doesn’t like. That’s quite a change. And an ugly one.

There are plenty of good reasons, both moral and practical, to oppose the suppression of white nationalist and other “extremist” web platforms.

Free speech is a core moral value for any society that aspires to freedom of any kind and to any degree. We must — MUST — have the right to form our own opinions, and to express those opinions, no matter how ugly others may find those opinions. Without that freedom, no other freedoms can survive.

As a practical matter, “extremists,” like everyone else, will choose to state, promote, and argue for their beliefs. If they can do so in public, those beliefs can be engaged and argued against. If they can’t do so in public, they’ll do so in private, without anyone to convince them (and those they quietly bring into their circles over time) of the error of their ways. The rest of us won’t have a clue what might be in the offing — until the guns come out, that is.

It’s appalling to see the New York Times endorsing an end to the freedom that undergirds its very existence and the prerogatives of every other newspaper and soapbox speaker in America. The only substantive difference between the editors’ position and that of the El Paso shooter, allegedly one Patrick Crusius, is that the shooter did his own dirty work.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

8chan: Another Mass Shooting, Another Internet Purge

This is the third “mass casualty event” in less than a year that was immediately followed up by censorship of the internet

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | August 5, 2019

Last year, after the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the new social-media platform Gab was attacked in the press and bullied off the internet. Earlier this year, following the Christ Church mosque attack, New Zealand briefly totally blocked access to several websites.

Yesterday, two men allegedly killed 30 people at a store in Dayton Ohio, and a mall in El Paso Texas.

Today 8chan has been totally shut down.

If you don’t know what 8chan is, well it’s like 4chan but without the sense of decency. If you don’t know what 4chan is, it’s like reddit went off its medication.

Both places could be, can be, kinda gross. But they could – can – also be amazing. Insightful. Useful. Free speech is like that. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly. If you cut off the ugly parts it’s not “free speech” anymore. This is something we all know, but the media is trying to force us to forget.

The boot-licking justification of this move was, of course, spear-headed by The Guardian: 8chan: the far-right website linked to the rise in hate crimes

The hand-wringers and pearl-clutchers in the media are happy to pretend this is about “hate” and “safety”, which is obviously not true.

Take the thrust of the Guardian article:

8chan… why is a website linked to such a high death count allowed to exist on the open internet?

Wouldn’t this question be better asked of www.cia.gov?

Or maybe one of these…

www.defense.gov
www.lockheedmartin.com
www.army.mil
www.mi5.uk

Hell, going by this absurd definition of “death count” – meaning, apparently, “someone who allegedly posted there, allegedly committed a crime” – then all Facebook and twitter have staggering “death counts”.

Known war criminals use twitter every single day. The alleged Christ Church shooting was live-streamed on Facebook (but it was 8chan that got blocked).

The Guardian itself published an opinion piece, a week ago, written by Alastair Campbell. A man with a body count 50,000x higher than the Texas shooting. That’s an El Paso every day for 137 years.

This isn’t about hate, they’re fine with hate. This isn’t about blood, they love blood.

8chan was no more hateful or bloody than any website on that list, so what was the real problem with it?

It was anonymous, fringe and uncontrollable.

It was free. Now it’s not. Any one of us could be next.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | | 1 Comment

Russiagate Comes to Italy

By Andrew Spannaus – Consortium News – August 5, 2019

Milan – A meeting with Russians, allegations of corruption, and a call for a leading politician to resign. Russiagate has come to Italy.

A representative of the League — the right-wing anti-establishment party now part of the country’s governing coalition — is alleged to have floated a scheme for his party to receive 65 million euros ($73 million) in illegal financing, skimmed off the top of oil sales from Russia.

Gianluca Savoini, a long-time League member, was recorded during a conversation in the public lounge of Moscow’s Metropol Hotel on Oct. 18, 2018, talking to three still-unidentified Russians about how to channel money to his political party.

Prosecutors in Milan have opened an investigation, while Deputy Prime Minister and League leader Matteo Salvini has denied any knowledge of the alleged plot.

The recording of Savoini’s conversation in Moscow was published by Buzzfeed in early July. The League and other nationalist parties in Europe, have long been subject to U.S. intelligence suspicions of getting help from Russia and Buzzfeed reporter Alberto Nardelli presents the Metropol recording as the “first hard evidence” of this. He writes that the conversation confirms suspicions that have been present for years of “Russia’s clandestine attempts to fund Europe’s nationalist movements.” (Nardelli admits that an earlier Austrian case involving a nationalist politician was “a sting,” but says the Savoini meeting “bears all the hallmarks of a real negotiation.”)

Nardelli assumes the Russian government was behind the operation — although no proof has been presented of this — and writes that “the real goal was to undermine liberal democracies and shape a new, nationalist Europe aligned with Moscow.” Nardelli presents Salvini, whom the unidentified Russians at the meeting call the “European Trump,” as under Putin’s thumb, representing a key asset for the Russian leader because of Salvini’s recent electoral victory.

A weakness in the allegation of illicit financing, however, is that the scheme allegedly discussed would have involved sales from a Russian company (Rosneft or Lukoil) to the Italian state oil company ENI, to be processed through the Russian branch of the Italy’s largest bank, Intesa Sanpaolo and both Italian companies strongly deny any knowledge of the proposed scheme. Given their importance to the country’s economy and institutions, they represent interests that go far beyond the League’s control.

Fallout for the League

The investigation is proceeding rapidly, both in the courts and in the press, and is likely to focus on the close ties developed between League operators and Russian political and economic actors. Italian investigators are seeking anything that looks suspicious, even if plans weren’t implemented.

The allegations have caused considerable political fallout in Italy, putting Salvini – a firebrand who has become Italy’s most polarizing politician — on the defensive. The opposition Democratic Party (Pd) has called for his resignation. More importantly, the League’s coalition partner, the Five-Star Movement (M5S) — which took a drubbing in the May 26 European elections, while the League doubled its vote total and became the top party in Italy — now seems intent on exploiting Salvini’s moment of weakness to regain momentum.

The two parties have not reached a full-blown crisis. But the League appears to be getting backed into a corner and the risks of a fall are raised for Europe’s only populist government that has fully supplanted traditional ruling parties, based on its sharp criticism of EU policies on limiting social spending and public investment. 

Such a result would be welcomed by the Western liberal establishment in general, but could open the door for an even more aggressive form of populism in the future. Early indications are that even the latest scandal has not cut into the League’s support, which continues to grow in the polls.

Other Cases Brought to Mind  

The case follows that of former Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, who also challenged the mainstream view of Russia as an imminent threat to the West.

In 2017, before his right-wing party entered the government, Strache was filmed, while drinking heavily, promising public contracts to a woman claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch in exchange for funding for his party. As Spiegel online, one of the German press outlets that published the video, reported: “The meeting was a trap.” The woman was not who she said she was, and the video ended up being used to bring about the fall of the Austrian government. Strache claims he was set up by a foreign intelligence service.

Heinz-Christian Strache in 2008. (Christian Jansky, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The film was published in May with the desired effect: Strache was forced to resign, putting pressure on rightwing political parties that have been critical of the EU’s decision to maintain sanctions on Russia, such as the League, the National Rally in France and Alternative for Germany.

Of course the prime example of discrediting by association with Moscow is Russiagate.

As former CIA analyst Larry C. Johnson has documented in detail, the numerous contacts between people around President Donald Trump and intermediaries offering damaging information on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or contacts for political or business operations in Russia, were initiated and promoted not by Trump’s side, but by individuals who in many cases have worked for the FBI, the CIA, or the British intelligence service MI-6.

Grounds for Skepticism

Read in light of that precedent, Buzzfeed’s coverage of Savoini’s conversation in Moscow gives grounds for skepticism.

Buzzfeed has been listed as a media target for reports and studies by  the “Integrity Initiative,” a British government-funded network of spies, journalists and think-tanks in the United Kingdom that has targeted politicians and other public figures who are alleged to be too pro-Russian.

Section of Integrity Initiative “handbook” published by the Anonymous hactivist group in November 2018 about the group’s media strategy where Buzzfeed is named.

At the end of 2018, British Member of Parliament Chris Williamson responded to revelations about the Integrity Initiative’s media-influence activities by demanding answers about government funding for the group’s targeting of Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, another politician who often goes against the neoconservative and neoliberal mainstream, this time on the left.

Buzzfeed also has a blemished history with other Russian-meddling allegations. In January, Buzzfeed reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier authored the bombshell article, “President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project.” Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s spokesman promptly called the report “not accurate,” but not before it had been picked up by many large media outlets.

Scandal Hits at Delicate Time

The Italian Russiagate comes at a delicate time. The League has long stated its intention to fight for the removal of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, and in the past has even called for recognizing the 2014 referendum by which Crimea joined Russia, a move considered unacceptable by NATO countries.

From my own contacts in Italy, I know that these positions have, in recent years, worried U.S. diplomats who saw that Salvini’s party was on the rise and were wary of his pro-Russia stance. In response, they did their best to cultivate a relationship with League leaders, with the aim of cooling the party’s attitude towards Moscow in the event it made its way into government, as happened.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, on left, with U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, in D.C., June 17, 2019. (State Department/Michael Gross)

The strategy seems to have worked, for the most part: now that the League is one of the two parties governing the country, it has stopped talking about Crimea, and has not blocked continued EU sanctions on Russia. In June, the European Council, which includes the Italian prime minister, extended the sanctions for another year.

The League has also taken public steps to reassure the United States of its loyalty to the Atlantic Alliance, after concerns were raised about Italy’s position when it became the first G-7 country to formally join the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative in March. After that, Salvini and Chief of Staff Giancarlo Giorgetti moved quickly to dampen fears in Washington about Italy distancing itself from Washington.

On the other hand, a state visit to Italy by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the beginning of July showed that Italian institutions are still eager to maintain good relations with Russia.

The Italians hope to leverage Trump’s desire for a shift towards Russia, while still swearing their allegiance to whatever other line comes out of Washington.

After Salvini’s June 17 meeting with Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, the Italian press reported that the Americans want to see more in terms of alignment not only on Russia, but also on Venezuela, Iran, and China.

Paolo Mastrolilli of the daily La Stampa wrote (in Italian) that Pompeo played the hard cop in the meetings, and intends to wait to see if Salvini will keep his promises to stay in line with the State Department before further advancing relations. Mastrolilli also reported that Pompeo is worried by reports that the League may have received help from the Kremlin.

Andrew Spannaus is a journalist and political analyst based in Milan, and the elected chairman of the Milan Foreign Press Association. His latest book is “Original Sins. Globalization, Populism, and the Six Contradictions Facing the European Union,” published in May 2019.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Japan is a barrier to Korean Peninsula peace process, Blue House says

Tokyo has continually sought to widen the rift between Seoul and Pyongyang

Kim Hyun-chong, second deputy director of the Blue House National Security Office, during a briefing at the Blue House on Aug. 2. (Yonhap News )
By Lee Wan | HANKYOREH | August 3, 2019

The Blue House recounted in detail how Japan has become an obstacle to setting the stage for peace on the Korean Peninsula and how it has rebuffed the US’ attempts to mediate in its dispute with South Korea. “Considering that our two countries have shared the values of liberal democracy and market economy for decades, Japan’s removal of South Korea from its white list on the pretext of security can be regarded as a public slap in the face,” said Kim Hyun-chong, second deputy director of the Blue House National Security Office.

“Rather than assisting South Korea in its efforts to get the peace process underway, Japan has thrown up roadblocks to that process. Japan opposed delaying the South Korea-US joint military exercises around the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and maintained that sanctions and pressure were the only solution even while dialogue and cooperation with South Korea was underway. It also tried to raise tensions by calling for Japanese citizens residing in South Korea to rehearse a wartime evacuation,” Kim said during a briefing on the afternoon of Aug. 2.

It’s unusual for a figure at the Blue House to openly state that Japan presents an obstacle to the creation of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Such remarks indicate that Blue House officials are fuming over Japan’s removal of South Korea from its white list of countries who enjoy expedited export procedures. “We ought to give some serious thought to the meaning of the peace and prosperity of the ‘normal country’ that Japan seeks to become,” Kim added.

A senior official from the Blue House also went into the details of Japan’s rejection of the US’ attempted mediation. “On July 29, the US expressed its concerns [to us] about the ongoing dispute and suggested that we and Japan put a temporary freeze on the status quo while holding negotiations in an attempt to reach a diplomatic agreement. My understanding is that the same proposal was communicated to the Japanese on the same day. Based on the American proposal, therefore, we proposed high-level bilateral deliberations on the afternoon of July 30, but Japan rejected our proposal a few hours later,” the official said.

This official went on to speak of the need to seriously question the effectiveness of American mediation. “We need to carefully consider Japan’s rationale and motivations behind its removal of South Korea from the white list — are they economic, political, or both at the same time?”

“Given such considerations, we need to give some serious thought to the potential effectiveness of the US attempting to bring Japan around.”

In effect, this official said, South Korea still needs to figure out whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s sudden export controls represent an attempt to contain South Korea’s growing economy, a request to give Japan a seat at the table in peace talks on the Korean Peninsula, or a call for a fundamental realignment of the cooperative relationship between South Korea, Japan, and the US that has been in place since South Korea and Japan settled their outstanding claims in 1965.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

India Responded To Trump’s Mediation Proposal By Killing More Kashmiris

By Andrew Korybko | EurasiaFuture | 2019-08-05

India defiantly responded to Trump’s mediation proposal by killing more Kashmiris and concocting yet another “politically convenient” conspiracy theory about so-called “Pakistani-backed terrorists” there in order to distract the world from its plan to unleash a wave of “Weapons of Mass Migration” that might forever change the demographic balance of this disputed territory to its long-term favor.

Modi’s Response To Trump

The situation in Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and along the Line of Control (LoC) is almost worse than it’s ever been before after New Delhi’s latest aggressive actions there that can be interpreted as an asymmetrical response to Trump’s recent mediation proposal. The US’ new military-strategic ally rejected the President’s earlier claims that Modi requested his assistance in mediating an end to the decades-long Kashmir Conflict, which coincided with increased shelling along the LoC that started during Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s very successful visit to Washington last month and continues to this day. These provocations were shortly thereafter followed by the concocting of a “politically convenient” conspiracy theory about so-called “Pakistani-backed terrorists” there in order to distract the world from India’s egregious human rights abuses against the people of Kashmir and its illegal use of cluster bombs in targeting civilians on the Pakistani side of the LoC.

“Weapons Of Mass Migration”

While all of this might seem like a random flare-up of violence to the unaware observer, there’s actually a method behind the madness in that India is preparing to unleash a wave of “Weapons of Mass Migration” that might forever change the demographic balance of this disputed territory to its long-term favor. There were suspicions that the recent dispatch of over 20,000 more paramilitary forces to IOK wasn’t just to “protect Hindu pilgrims” like the Indian media alleged, but to reinforce the over half a million forces that are already there ahead of what turned out to be the repealing of constitutional clauses that guarantee a relative degree of “autonomy” for the region and prevented non-residents from purchasing property there. The implications of doing away with this special policy are enormous because they could lead to the large-scale influx of foreigners that would almost certainly provoke another wave of armed resistance from the desperate locals.

Machiavellian Perception Management

Anticipating this, India knew that it would inevitably have to dispatch more military forces to IOK, but it wanted to do so under the cover of a “publicly plausible” pretext in order to avoid international criticism, ergo the excuse of the latest reinforcement measures being due to what it claimed was the threat posed by “Pakistani-backed terrorists” to Hindu pilgrims. It then initiated a new round of shelling across the LoC, using cluster bombs in order to guarantee a response that it could then decontextualize and deceptively misportray as “Pakistani aggression”. This in turn led to New Delhi ordering non-Muslims to leave the region “in the interests of (their) safety and security” when the real reason that all of this is happening is so that they’re not caught up in the impending wave of violence that might soon be unleashed after the authorities revoked Kashmir’s “autonomous” status a little more than a week before India’s independence day later this month.

Exposing The Plot

This Machiavellian plot might very well backfire, though, because Pakistan is already preemptively exposing it in the international informational sphere and proving that there’s a reason why India can be regarded as a rogue state nowadays. Prime Minister Khan even tweeted about it too, thereby ensuring that the rest of the world pays more attention to Pakistan’s serious concerns about the deteriorating security situation along the LoC and the ever-worsening humanitarian one in IOK. In addition, India’s regional aggression is a personal affront to Trump’s peacemaking efforts, which might trigger him to double down on the game of “hardball” that he’s playing with it lately. The Democrats could also sense a self-interested political opportunity to put pressure on his administration by demanding that they cease further security cooperation with India until it stops its human rights violations in Kashmir, just as they’ve tried to do vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia and Yemen earlier this year.

Self-Inflicted Damage

Whichever way one looks at it, India’s recent aggression is counterproductive to its own interests. The country’s carefully crafted international image of supposedly being the peaceful land of Bollywood and yoga is shattered, and any revocation of Kashmir’s “autonomy” will return the region to being a global flash point, to say nothing of making it even more difficult for the military to indefinitely perpetuate its occupation in the face of heightened resistance from the locals. India had the chance to change history by admitting that it asked Trump to mediate in Kashmir and then taking his public disclosure of this secret as a signal to start that process, but it instead tried to make a fool out of him by pretending that no such request was ever made. Such strategic missteps as that one and the aforementioned risk isolating India even more in the international community and could even endanger its very existence in the event that they eventually lead to a hot war with Pakistan.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Zarif: US Can’t Build Gulf Coalition, Iran Welcomes Neighbors Leaving B-Team

Al-Manar | August 5, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States is unable to build a naval coalition to escort tankers in the Gulf because its allies are too “ashamed” to join it.

In a press conference held on the occasion of the national journalists’ day, the top Iranian diplomat said that the B-team is shrinking in members, adding that Iran welcomes neighboring countries leaving the team of ‘wickedness’.

“Today the United States is alone in the world and cannot create a coalition. Countries that are its friends are too ashamed of being in a coalition with them,” Zarif told a news conference in Tehran.

“They brought this situation upon themselves, with lawbreaking, by creating tensions and crises.”

Talking further about US, Zarif said Washington “has never won,” noting that it has been forced out of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan.

“US has lost all wars it had engaged in throughout 70 years except for its invasion of Grenada,” the top Iranian diplomat said, stressing: Era of the ‘greatest’ and ‘hegemonic’ power is over.”

Asked about reports that he had been invited to meet Trump in the White House, Zarif said he had turned it down despite the threat of sanctions against him.

“I was told in New York I would be sanctioned in two weeks unless I accepted that offer, which fortunately I did not,” said the Iranian minister.

“When I travel to New York I head for UN not the US,” he affirmed.

Zarif then talked about the B-team, a term popularized by Zarif and refers to a group of politicians who share an inclination toward potential war with Iran, and the letter “b” in their names. They include US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“The B-team is shrinking in members. We welcome our neighbors leaving the team,” Zarif said, adding “we have always been ready to hold talks with our neighbors. Iran, Iraq and the six countries of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council need to have talks with one other and sign the non-aggression pact.”

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment