Aletho News


‘Iranian threat’ gives Israel ‘fundamental right, even obligation’ to bomb Syria, Iraq or whomever it wants – Pompeo

RT | October 20, 2019

Israel should not be constrained by international borders or laws if it feels under threat – and can always rely on US support – US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said following his meeting with Israeli PM and the chief of Mossad.

The US administration has always been “very clear” that is gives Israel a free rein in hunting down any sprouts of purported ‘Iranian threat’ across the region, using the national security threat as an ultimate excuse, Pompeo said in an interview with Jerusalem Post.

“Israel has the fundamental right to engage in activity that ensures the security of its people. It’s at the very core of what nation-states not only have the right to do, but an obligation to do.”

The withdrawal of American troops from Syria raised some concerns in Tel Aviv, but Pompeo rushed to emphasize that the US remains committed to “continuing that activity that the US has been engaged in now for a couple of years.”

“We know this is a corner where Iran has attempted to move weapon systems across into Syria, into Lebanon, that threatens Israel, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure we have the capacity to identify those so that we can, collectively, respond appropriately.”

Pompeo visited Israel following his urgent trip to Turkey, where he convinced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to temporarily halt the cross-border operation in Syria, somewhat allowing the Trump administration to save its face after the ‘betrayal’ of its Kurdish allies.

In Tel Aviv, Pompeo held a meeting with the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, apparently reassuring them that the US withdrawal wasn’t a sign of weakness or intentions to reduce its pressure on Tehran.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 5 Comments

US stokes the fires of Turkish revanchism

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | October 19, 2019

The extraordinary US overture to Turkey regarding northern Syria resulted in a joint statement on Thursday, whose ramifications can be rated only in the fulness of time, as several intersecting tracks are running.

The US objectives range from Trump’s compulsions in domestic politics to the future trajectory of the US policies toward Syria and the impact of any US-Turkish rapprochement on the geopolitics of the Syrian conflict.

Meanwhile, the US-Turkish joint statement creates new uncertainties. The two countries have agreed on a set of principles — Turkey’s crucial status as a NATO power; security of Christian minorities in Syria; prevention of an ISIS surge; creation of a “safe zone” on Turkish-Syrian border; a 120-hour ceasefire (“pause”) in Turkish military operations leading to a permanent halt, hopefully.

The devil lies in the details. Principally, there is no transparency regarding the future US role in Syria. The Kurds and the US military will withdraw from the 30-kilometre broad buffer zone. What thereafter? In the words of the US Vice-President Mike Pence at the press conference in Ankara on Thursday,

“Kurdish population in Syria, with which we have a strong relationship, will continue to endure.  The United States will always be grateful for our partnership with SDF in defeating ISIS, but we recognise the importance and the value of a safe zone to create a buffer between Syria proper and the Kurdish population and — and the Turkish border.  And we’re going to be working very closely.”

To be sure, everything devolves upon the creation of the safe zone. Turkey envisages a zone stretching across the entire 440 kilometre border with Syria up to the Iraqi border, while the US special envoy James Jeffrey remains non-committal, saying it is up to the “Russians and the Syrians in other areas of the northeast and in Manbij to the west of the Euphrates” to agree to Turkey’s maximalist stance.

Herein lies the rub. Jeffrey would know Ankara will never get its way with Moscow and Damascus. In fact, President Bashar al-Assad told, in unequivocal terms, a high-level Russian delegation visiting Damascus on Friday, “At the current phase it is necessary to focus on putting an end to aggression and on the pullout of all Turkish, US and other forces illegally present in Syrian territories.”

Is there daylight between Moscow and Damascus on this highly sensitive issue? Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s forthcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on October 22 may provide an answer.

Clearly, the US hopes wrench Turkey from the Russian embrace. Moscow’s studied indifference toward the US-Turkish cogitations betrays its uneasiness. Conceivably, Erdogan will expect Putin to take a holistic view, considering Russia’s flourishing and highly lucrative economic and military ties with Turkey and the imperative to preserve the momentum of the Russia-Turkey relationship.

But Trump has accommodated Erdogan’s top priority to create a safe zone and run it under Turkish supervision, which implies an open-ended Turkish military presence in a swathe of Syrian territory as big as Greece or Nepal. Erdogan’s tone has already changed in regard to his expectations from Putin.

In a meaningful remark on Saturday, he said, “In the area of the operation are forces of the (Syrian) regime under Russia’s protection. We will be tackling the issue with Mr. Putin.” Erdogan then added that in case he fails to “reach agreements on that issue (with Putin), Turkey will be implementing its own plans.”

If the US policy in Syria in recent years promoted the Kurdish identity, it has now swung to the other extreme of stoking the fires of Turkish revanchism. This is potentially catastrophic for regional stability. The heart of the matter is that while Turkey’s concerns over terrorism and the refugee problem are legitimate, Operation Peace Spring has deeper moorings: Turkey’s ambitions as regional power and its will to correct the perceived injustice of territorial losses incurred during the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The ultra-nationalistic Turkish commentator (and staunch supporter of Erdogan) wrote this week in the pro-government daily Yeni Safak :

“Turkey once again revived the millennium-old political history on Anatolian territory. It took action with a mission that will carry the legacy of the Seljuks, the Ottomans, the Republic of Turkey to the next stage… It is not possible to set an equation in this region by excluding Turkey – it will not happen. A map cannot be drawn that excludes Turkey – it will not happen. A power cannot be established without Turkey – it will not happen. Throughout history, both the rise and fall of this country has altered the region… the mind in Turkey is now a regional mind, a regional conscience, a regional identity. President Erdoğan is the pioneer, the bearer of that political legacy from the Seljuks, the Ottomans, and the Turkish Republic to the future.”

Trump is unlikely to pay attention to the irredentist instincts in Turkish regional policies. Trump’s immediate concerns are to please the evangelical Christian constituency in the US and silence his critics who allege that he threw the Kurds under the bus or that an ISIS resurgence is imminent. But there is no way the US can deliver on the tall promises made in the joint statement. The Kurds have influential friends in the Pentagon. (See the article by Gen. Joseph Votel, former chief of the US Central Command, titled The Danger of Abandoning our Partners.) Nonetheless, the main outcome will be that Turkey feels it has western support for its long-term occupation of Syrian territory.

All in all, it’s a “win-win” for Erdogan insofar as he got what he wanted — US’ political and diplomatic support for “the kind of long-term buffer zone that will ensure peace and stability in the region”, to borrow the words of Vice President Pence. A Turkish withdrawal from Syrian territory can now be virtually ruled out. State secretary Mike Pompeo added at the press conference in Ankara on Thursday that there is “a great deal of work to do in the region. There’s lots of challenges that remain.”

Pompeo said Erdogan’s “decision to work alongside President Trump… will be one that I think will benefit Turkey a great deal.” Arguably, the US expects Turkey’s cooperation to strengthen its strategy in Syria (and Iraq) where it seeks to contain Iran’s influence. From Ankara, Pompeo travelled to Jerusalem to brief Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 3 Comments

Brexit: Parliament Tethers Britain to a Failing Experiment

Europe is crumbling, & Britain’s elite desperately want to be part of the wreckage

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | October 20, 2019

Brexit isn’t going to happen. Left or Right – Lexit or Rexit – it’s over. It’s time to make peace with that idea.

Penned in by the absurd Benn Act, No Deal is off the table, which means Britain will be forced to either remain or accept a deal that’s Remain by another name.

The Letwin Ammendment and Johnson’s unsigned extension request are just morbid theatre. Unnecessary nails in a well-sealed coffin.

It’s all very Weekend at Bernies’ – A lame cast of characters, puppeteering Brexit’s corpse to keep up a tired joke that was never funny to begin with.

Parliament has become an absurd pantomime, where a clown Prime Minister – his majority willfully destroyed – sets up straw men that the “opposition” bayonet with increasingly maniacal glee. No thought is given to policy or consequences, only increasing the tally of Boris Johnson’s parliamentary defeats.

Labour, and the bedraggled, hysterical remainers in the Lib Dems/TIG/Green Party, have become nothing but contrarians – automatically gain-saying anything tabled by the government for the simple joy of humiliating the nation’s Court Jester in Chief.

Corbyn has been so successfully gaslighted by his remain-heavy PLP he doesn’t even realise he’s betraying his life-long principles, his mentor Tony Benn, and entire swaths of the Labour’s Northern heartlands, who all voted to leave.

When a general election does come, it will mean nothing.

Labour will likely be destroyed as working-class voters either flock to the Brexit Party or simply collapse into the apathy of the voiceless, and stay home.

If Labour scrapes together enough voters from Remain country in Scotland and London to claw their way to a small majority, well their socialist manifesto will be crippled by the EU’s austerity policy and restrictions on nationalisation.

In either event, Corbyn will be replaced by a New Labour non-entity of little renown and less worth. The papers will declare socialism dead (again), and maybe clap Corbyn on the shoulder for doing “well, considering” and “changing the conversation”.

We’ll be invited the celebrate the new (inevitably) female leader as a sign of “progress”, while society continues to slip backwards.

Whether the hardcore Remainers get their “People’s Vote” or not, and whichever of the carousel of undesirables happens to be Prime Minister when it all eventually wraps up, Brexit is dead. Parliament killed it.

This on-going, slow-burn sabotage is hard to watch – but it’s not what this article is about.

What it’s about is a question. An important question. One that should weigh heavily on the shoulders of Remainers on the eve of their – for want of a better word – victory:

Do we really want this? Does the EU, right now, really look like something we want to be a part of?

Let’s run down the situation on The Continent.

France is miserable, sick of austerity. Sick of spending cuts and falling standards and neo-liberal economics promising a trickle-down that never seems to come.

In Paris – and many other French cities – the Yellow Vests are nearing their fiftieth straight week of protests, and don’t seem to be slowing down (Hopefully they plan something nice for their first birthday).

People have lost eyes, hands, even lives. The Hong Kong protests – so long front-page news in the UK – have been a picnic in comparison.

In Hungary, an elected President is held hostage by the bureaucracy of the EU. Whatever you think of Orban, he was democratically elected to enact the political promises he made during his campaign. That Brussels can sanction him, and threaten to remove Hungary’s voting rights, is perverse. Anti-democracy in the name of democracy.

They say it’s about “protecting European values”, but is it?

That’s pretty hard to believe, considering the situation elsewhere in Europe…

Spain will join France in the flames soon. They already sent thirteen politicians to prison for sedition.

Take a moment to consider that – actual “sedition”.

This comes after sending in riot police to break up a peaceful referendum. Spanish police beat voters, arrested protesters and destroyed ballot boxes.

Madrid has faced no punishment, or even criticism, for this. They – unlike Orban – have escaped any sanction or censure. Police attack Catalonian independence protests on the streets of Barcelona…and Brussels’ silence is deafening.

(Imagine Russia had just jailed 13 opposition politicians for sedition. Imagine Maduro was blinding protestors with rubber bullets. The difference in coverage and attitude would be breathtaking.)

What is the difference between Budapest and Paris? Or Moscow and Madrid?

Well, Orban is anti-EU (as are the Gilets Jaunes). The governments of France and Spain are Pro EU, with a ferocity that fully justifies the capital P.

Follow a pro-EU agenda of austerity, uncontrolled immigration and globalisation and you can blind as many protesters as you want.

The harder you look, the more it seems “European values” is slang for “European power”.

The talk of the EU Army bubbles away on the back-burner, whilst the European Parliament merrily votes through massive funding for “StratCom” programmes to “counter misinformation”.

We hear about peace, but we don’t see it. We hear about prosperity, but we don’t feel it.

Austerity is choking the birthplace of democracy to death, and its – again, for want of a better word – “leaders” are spending tax revenues on propaganda and the military.

Is that going to help a single ordinary citizen out of poverty? Are these moves designed to make life fair, equal or easy for ordinary citizens? Or consolidate and enforce authority?

Look at Europe. Really look at it. It’s burning. And yet Remainers sit amongst the flames and say everything’s fine.

We are lectured on “European Values”, but that phrase has been meaningless for years, and every day edges closer and closer to full-on parody.

Europe is a sinking ship the rats in Parliament refuse to leave.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

CIA Analysts Lawyer Up As Brennan, Clapper Ensnared In Expanding Russiagate Probe

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 10/19/2019

CIA analysts involved in the intelligence assessment of Russia’s activities during the 2016 US election have begun to hire attorneys, as Attorney General William Barr expands his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, led by US Attorney John Durham.

The prosecutor conducting the review, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, has expressed his intent to interview a number of current and former intelligence officials involved in examining Russia’s effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper, Brennan told NBC News. –NBC

NBC learned of the ‘lawyering up’ from three former CIA officials “familiar with the matter,” while two more anonymous leakers claim there’s tension between the Justice Department and the CIA over what classified documents Durham has access to.

With Barr’s approval, Durham has expanded his staff and the timeframe under scrutiny, according to a law enforcement official directly familiar with the matter. And he is now looking into conduct past Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, a Trump administration official said.

One Western intelligence official familiar with Durham’s investigation leaked that Durham has been asking foreign officials questions related to former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who was fed the rumor that Russia had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton by a Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud. While US media has sought to portray Mifsud as a Russian asset, the self-described member of the Clinton foundation has far stronger ties to the West.

According to congressional testimony given by Papadopoulos last October as well as statements he’s made over Twitter, the whole thing was an FBI setup – as a ‘woman in London, who was the FBI’s legal attache in the UK’ and “had a personal relationship to Bob Mueller after 9/11” was the one who recommended that he meet with Mifsud in Rome.

As the theory goes; Mifsud, a US intelligence asset, feeds Papadopoulos the rumor that Russia has Hillary Clinton’s emails shortly after he announces he’s going to join the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos repeats the email rumor to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, who alerts Australia’s intelligence community, which notifies the FBI, which then launches operation “Crossfire Hurricane” during which the FBI sent multiple spies (including a ‘honeypot’) to infiltrate the Trump campaign. Notably, former FBI employee Peter Strzok flew to London to meet with Downer the day after Crossfire Hurricane was launched – while Strzok’s boss, Bill Priestap was in London the day before the Downer-Papadopoulos encounter.

And if this is all true, Durham has a lot to untangle – including the Clinton / DNC-funded Steele Dossier.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 3 Comments

Secret NATO Military Exercises in Germany Drill Nuclear War Scenario – Report

By Oleg Burunov – Sputnik – 19.10.2019

NATO allies are holding secret military exercises in Germany, which aim to drill a nuclear war scenario, the German newspaper Kronen Zeitung reports.

During the drills, codenamed “Steadfast Noon”, the military personnel utilise warplanes which could be equipped with nuclear weapons in the event of a war.

The Luftwaffe is represented in the drills by Tornado fighter jets from the 33rd Tactical Squadron; it is stationed at Buchel Air Base where the US-made B61 nuclear bombs are currently stored.

In case of an emergency, the B61 warheads will be installed on the Tornadoes as part of Germany’s “nuclear participation” in a NATO mission to counter an adversary, according to Kronen Zeitung.

Collapse of INF Treaty

The newspaper claims that “the danger of a nuclear war scenario is currently much higher than in the past three decades” due to the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and Russia this summer.

The two countries have repeatedly accused each other of violating the Cold War Era treaty, and after announcing in February 2019 that it would suspend its participation in the arms control treaty, the US formally withdrew from the accord on 2 August.

Russia says allegations that it violated the INF Treaty are unsubstantiated and accuses the US of violating the treaty by deploying defence systems in Europe with launchers capable of firing cruise missiles at ranges prohibited under the agreement.

Signed in 1987, the INF Treaty required the two countries to eliminate and permanently refrain from the development of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Europe’s oldest political prisoner, Georges Abdallah, has served 35 years

By Ramin Mazaheri – Press TV – October 19, 2019

Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, known as the “Nelson Mandela of the Arab World”, has now marked 35 years in a French prison. The pro-Palestinian resistance leader remains Europe’s longest-held political prisoner.

In 1982, during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, Abdallah headed a group which accepted responsibility for the death of Israeli and American agents in Paris. Abdallah has refused to express regret or remorse for defending his country, which was under military occupation.

Abdallah has become an immense inspiration to leftists and anti-imperialists worldwide, despite a Western media blackout on his case.

Abdallah has been eligible for release since 1999, but Washington and Tel Aviv put pressure on France to deny him parole. His own lawyer has admitted to working for French intelligence, and his trial and parole process has been marked by obvious political manipulation.

Abdallah, described as a model prisoner, reads daily in four different languages. He writes letters of support for just causes, and he remains in regular contact with the outside.

Despite his unjust incarceration Abdallah continues to fight for Palestine and against imperialism, and many activists around the world will continue to fight for his release.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chevron hopes Trump allows it to stay in Venezuela

RT | October 19, 2019, 2019

US oil giant Chevron is hopeful that the Trump administration will extend a waiver allowing the company to continue doing business in Venezuela despite tough US sanctions on the South American country.

“We are a positive presence in Venezuela, and we are hopeful that General License 8C is renewed so that we can continue certain operations in the country for the long-term,” Chevron spokesman Ray Fohr said in a statement, as cited by Reuters.

General License No 8C is a document that authorizes transactions in Venezuela involving its state oil company PDVSA and its entities, according to the US Department of Treasury. Apart from Chevron, four other multinational corporations enjoy the right to continue certain operations in the country, including oil industry firms Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Weatherford International.

As the document expires on Friday, Chevron, which has been operating in Venezuela for nearly a century, needs an extension to the waiver. The Trump administration is already considering the move, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing sources. The report said that it is unclear if other companies will be granted a similar 90-day sanctions reprieve, as the Treasury wants to adhere to its “maximum pressure strategy” to further limit Venezuela’s oil production.

US economic warfare against the Bolivarian republic has seen multiple rounds of sanctions, including punitive ones targeting the country’s vital energy sector. Venezuela’s crude production has already neared a historic low of around 600,000 barrels per day, according to S&P Global Platts.

Analysts have recently predicted that a US refusal to extend the waivers for Chevron and other companies mentioned in the General License could further halve the country’s oil output.

“I think you’d see it go certainly to under 300,000 b/d within a month,” said Neil Bhatiya, an associate fellow with the Center for a New American Security, as cited by S&P Global Platts. “The question after that is whether and how fast there is backfilling by Chinese, or, more likely, Russian state firms. It will take a while though, so a Chevron-less Venezuela will probably be in the [sub-300,000 b/d] zone for the remainder of the calendar year.”

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

Seoul police ramp up security after protesters break into US ambassador’s residence

RT | October 19, 2019

South Korean police have increased security at the US ambassador’s residence in Seoul after a group of students demonstrating against American troops in the country were able to infiltrate the diplomatic compound.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police agency said Saturday that the number of officers guarding the estate was more than tripled to 110. The beefed-up security comes a day after a group of protesters used ladders to gain entry to the walled-off grounds around Ambassador Harry Harris’ residence. Nineteen students were detained after unfurling banners saying “Leave this soil, Harris.”

“Stop interfering with our domestic affairs,” they shouted, followed by other chants – “Get out,” and “We don’t need US troops” – before being escorted off the property by police.

The group said they were motivated by Washington’s insistence that Seoul should pay [more] to keep US troops on its soil.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Seoul said that the diplomatic mission was “seriously concerned about the illegal breach” and urged Korean authorities to do more to protect the compound.

American diplomatic and military outposts in the region are regularly targeted by protesters.

Last year, tens of thousands of protesters in Okinawa, Japan marched to stop the planned relocation of a US military base, demanding that the facility be removed from the island entirely.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , | 1 Comment