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A New Definition of Warfare

Sanctions can be more deadly than bullets

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 21, 2020

Supporters of Donald Trump often make the point that he has not started any new wars. One might observe that it has not been for lack of trying, as his cruise missile attacks on Syria based on fabricated evidence and his recent assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani have been indisputably acts of war. Trump also has enhanced troop levels both in the Middle East and in Afghanistan while also increasing the frequency and lethality of armed drone attacks worldwide.

Congress has been somewhat unseriously toying around with a tightening of the war powers act of 1973 to make it more difficult for a president to carry out acts of war without any deliberation by or authorization from the legislature. But perhaps the definition of war itself should be expanded. The one area where Trump and his team of narcissistic sociopaths have been most active has been in the imposition of sanctions with lethal intent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been explicit in his explanations that the assertion of “extreme pressure” on countries like Iran and Venezuela is intended to make the people suffer to such an extent that they rise up against their governments and bring about “regime change.” In Pompeo’s twisted reckoning that is how places that Washington disapproves of will again become “normal countries.”

The sanctions can kill. Those imposed by the United States are backed up by the U.S. Treasury which is able to block cash transfers going through the dollar denominated international banking system. Banks that do not comply with America’s imposed rules can themselves be sanctioned, meaning that U.S. sanctions are de facto globally applicable, even if foreign banks and governments do not agree with the policies that drive them. It is well documented how sanctions that have an impact on the importation of medicines have killed thousands of Iranians. In Venezuela, the effect of sanctions has been starvation as food imports have been blocked, forcing a large part of the population to flee the country just to survive.

The latest exercise of United States economic warfare has been directed against Iraq. In the space of one week from December 29th to January 3rd, the American military, which operates out of two major bases in Iraq, killed 25 Iraqi militiamen who were part of the Popular Mobilization Units of the Iraqi Army. The militiamen had most recently been engaged in the successful fight against ISIS. It followed up on that attack by killing Soleimani, Iraqi militia general Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and eight other Iraqis in a drone strike near Baghdad International Airport. As the attacks were not approved in any way by the Iraqi government, it was no surprise that rioting followed and the Iraqi Parliament voted to remove all foreign troops from its soil. The decree was signed off on by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, based on the fact that the U.S. military was in Iraq at the invitation of the country’s government and that invitation had just been revoked by parliament.

That Iraq is to say the least unstable is attributable to the ill-advised U.S. invasion of 2003. The persistence of U.S. forces in the country is ostensibly to aid in the fight against ISIS, but the real reason is to serve as a check on Iranian influence in Iraq, which is a strategic demand made by Israel and not responsive to any actual American interest. Indeed, the Iraqi government is probably closer politically to Tehran than to Washington, though the neocon line that the country is dominated by the Iranians is far from true.

Washington’s response to the legitimate Iraqi demand that its troops should be removed consisted of threats. When Prime Minister Mahdi spoke with Pompeo on the phone and asked for discussions and a time table to create a “withdrawal mechanism” the Secretary of State made it clear that there would be no negotiations. A State Department written response entitled “The U.S. Continued Partnership with Iraq” asserted that American troops are in Iraq to serve as a “force for good” in the Middle East and that it is “our right” to maintain “appropriate force posture” in the region.

The Iraqi position also immediately produced presidential threats and tweets about “sanctions like they have never seen,” with the implication that the U.S. was more than willing to wreck the Iraqi economy if it did not get its way. The latest threat to emerge involves blocking Iraq access to its New York federal reserve bank account, where international oil sale revenue is kept, creating a devastating cash crunch in Iraq’s financial system that might indeed destroy the Iraqi economy. If taking steps to ruin a country economically is not considered warfare by other means it is difficult to discern what might fit that description.

After dealing with Iraq, the Trump Administration turned its guns on one of its oldest and closest allies. Great Britain, like most of the other European signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been reluctant to withdraw from the agreement over concern that Iran will as a result decide to develop nuclear weapons. According to the Guardian, a United States representative from the National Security Council named Richard Goldberg, had visited London recently to make clear to the British government that if it does not follow the American lead and withdraw from the JCPOA and reapply sanctions it just might be difficult to work out a trade agreement with Washington post-Brexit. It is a significant threat as part of the pro-Brexit vote clearly was derived from a Trump pledge to make up for some of the anticipated decline in European trade by increasing U.K. access to the U.S. market. Now the quid pro quo is clear: Britain, which normally does in fact follow the Washington lead in foreign policy, will now be expected to be completely on board all of the time and everywhere, particularly in the Middle East.

During his visit, Goldberg told the BBC: “The question for prime minister Johnson is: ‘As you are moving towards Brexit … what are you going to do post-31 January as you come to Washington to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the United States?’ It’s absolutely in [your] interests and the people of Great Britain’s interests to join with President Trump, with the United States, to realign your foreign policy away from Brussels, and to join the maximum pressure campaign to keep all of us safe.”

And there is an interesting back story on Richard Goldberg, a John Bolton protégé anti-Iran hardliner, who threatened the British on behalf of Trump. James Carden, writing at The Nation, posits “Consider the following scenario: A Washington, DC–based, tax-exempt organization that bills itself as a think tank dedicated to the enhancement of a foreign country’s reputation within the United States, funded by billionaires closely aligned with said foreign country, has one of its high-ranking operatives (often referred to as ‘fellows’) embedded within the White House national security staff in order to further the oft-stated agenda of his home organization, which, as it happens, is also paying his salary during his year-long stint there. As it happens, this is exactly what the pro-Israel think tank the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) reportedly achieved in an arrangement brokered by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.”

The FDD senior adviser in question, who was placed on the National Security Council, was Richard Goldberg. FDD is largely funded by Jewish American billionaires including vulture fund capitalist Paul Singer and Home Depot partner Bernard Marcus. Its officers meet regularly with Israeli government officials and the organization is best known for its unrelenting effort to bring about war with Iran. It has relentlessly pushed for a recklessly militaristic U.S. policy directed against Iran and also more generally in the Middle East. It is a reliable mouthpiece for Israel and, inevitably, it has never been required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.

To be sure, Trump also has other neocons advising him on Iran, including David Wurmser, another Bolton associate, who has the president’s ear and is a consultant to the National Security Council. Wurmser has recently submitted a series of memos to the White House advocating a policy of “regime disruption” with the Islamic Republic that will destabilize it and eventually lead to a change of government. He may have played a key role in giving the green light to the assassination of Soleimani.

The good news, if there is any, is that Goldberg resigned on January 3rd, allegedly because the war against Iran was not developing fast enough to suit him and FDD, but he is symptomatic of the many neoconservative hawks who have infiltrated the Trump Administration at secondary and tertiary levels, where much of the development and implementation of policy actually takes place. It also explains that when it comes to Iran and the irrational continuation of a significant U.S. military presence in the Middle East, it is Israel and its Lobby that are steering the ship of state.

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

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Biden campaign warns media not to spread ‘debunked’ claims about his activities in Ukraine or else

RT | January 20, 2020

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has issued a warning to the media cautioning journalists against spreading what he called “debunked” theories about his controversial role in having a Ukrainian prosecutor removed from office.

In the memo first reported by NBC News, Biden’s campaign accuses President Donald Trump of “spreading a malicious and conclusively debunked conspiracy theory” that the former VP engaged in wrongdoing when he pressured Ukraine to fire former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

Biden has previously bragged about his role in having Shokin fired, even admitting on camera that he presented an ultimatum to Ukrainian authorities, threatening to withhold a billion-dollar loan guarantee unless the prosecutor was given the boot. It emerged later that Biden’s own son Hunter sat on the board of the Burisma energy company which Shokin had been investigating for corruption.

The memo, described as “unusual” by NBC News, demands that “any media organization referencing, reporting on, or repeating” claims that Biden engaged in wrongdoing “must state clearly and unambiguously that they have been discredited and debunked by authoritative sources.”

The memo instructs journalists that it is “not sufficient” to say allegations against the Democratic candidate are “unsubstantiated.” They must tell readers there is a mountain of evidence which debunks them, it says. Any journalists or media organizations failing to adhere to Biden’s standards in their reporting on his and his families’ activities in Ukraine are accused of “malpractice.”

The memo comes as Republicans call for Hunter Biden to testify during Donald Trump’s impending Senate impeachment trial. Trump was impeached last month by the US House Representatives for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” relating to the alleged claim that he withheld aid from Ukraine in an effort to force an investigation into Biden’s involvement with Burisma and his role in Shokin’s firing.

However, even if Biden’s claim that he was not motivated by his son’s position on Burisma’s board when he insisted on Shokin’s sacking is true, he has already publicly admitted to threatening to withhold money from Ukraine unless authorities did his bidding — which, somewhat ironically, is exactly what Democrats impeached Trump for last month.

One campaign that did not get Biden’s memo is that of Bernie Sanders, which has earned criticism from the left for calling Biden “corrupt” in an attack ad. Among the critics was liberal economist Paul Krugman.

rump’s trial in the Senate is set to kick off this week and has been dismissed by his legal team as a “highly partisan and reckless obsession” engineered by Democrats who want him thrown out of office.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Bernie Sanders Walks Straight Into the Russiagate Trap

By Daniel Lazare | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 20, 2020

The New York Times caused a mini-commotion last week with a front-page story suggesting that Russian intelligence had hacked a Ukrainian energy firm known as Burisma Holdings in order to get dirt on Joe Biden and help Donald Trump win re-election.

But the article was flimsy even by Russiagate standards, and so certain questions inevitably arise. What was it really about? Who’s behind it? Who’s the real target?

Here’s a quick answer. It was about boosting Joe Biden, and its real target was his chief rival, Bernie Sanders. And poor, inept Bernie walked straight into the trap.

The article was flimsy because rather than saying straight out that Russian intelligence hacked Burisma, the company notorious for hiring Biden’s son, Hunter, for $50,000 a month job, reporters Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg had to rely on unnamed “security experts” to say it for them. While suggesting that the hackers were looking for dirt, they didn’t quite say that as well. Instead, they admitted that “it is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for.”

So we have no idea what they were up to, if anything at all. But the Times then quoted “experts” to the effect that “the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens – the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.” Since Trump and the Russians are seeking the same information, they must be in cahoots, which is what Democrats have been saying from the moment Trump took office. Given the lack of evidence, this was meaningless as well.

But then came the kicker: two full paragraphs in which a Biden campaign spokesman was permitted to expound on the notion that the Russians hacked Burisma because Biden is the candidate that they and Trump fear the most.

“Donald Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into lying about Joe Biden and a major bipartisan, international anti-corruption victory because he recognized that he can’t beat the vice president,” the spokesman, Andrew Bates, said. “Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat. Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections.”

If Biden is the number-one threat, then Sanders is not, presumably because the Times sees him as soft on Moscow. If so, it means that he could be in for the same neo-McCarthyism that antiwar candidate Tulsi Gabbard encountered last October when Hillary Clinton blasted her as “the favorite of the Russians.” Gabbard had the good sense to blast her right back.

“Thank you @Hillary Clinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know – it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine….”

If only Sanders did the same. But instead he put out a statement filled with the usual anti-Russian clichés:

“The 2020 election is likely to be the most consequential election in modern American history, and I am alarmed by new reports that Russia recently hacked into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the impeachment trial, as well as Russia’s plans to once again meddle in our elections and in our democracy. After our intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, including with thousands of paid ads on Facebook, the New York Times now reports that Russia likely represents the biggest threat of election meddle in 2020, including through disinformation campaigns, promoting hatred, hacking into voting systems, and by exploiting the political divisions sewn [sic] by Donald Trump….”

And so on for another 250 words. Not only did the statement put him in bed with the intelligence agencies, but it makes him party to the big lie that the Kremlin was responsible for putting Trump over the top in 2016.

Let’s get one thing straight. Yes, Russian intelligence may have hacked the Democratic National Committee. But cybersecurity was so lax that others may have been rummaging about as well. (CrowdStrike, the company called in to investigate the hack, says it found not one but two cyber-intruders.) Notwithstanding the Mueller report, all the available evidence indicates that Russia did not then pass along thousands of DNC emails that Wikileaks published in July 2016. (Julian Assange’s statement six months later that “our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party” remains uncontroverted.) Similarly, there’s no evidence that the Kremlin had anything to do with the $45,000 worth of Facebook ads purchased by a St. Petersburg company known as the Internet Research Agency – Robert Mueller’s 2018 indictment of the IRA was completely silent on the subject of a Kremlin connection – and no evidence that the ads, which were politically all over the map, had a remotely significant impact on the 2016 election.

All the rest is a classic CIA disinformation campaign aimed at drumming up anti-Russian hysteria and delegitimizing anyone who fails to go along. And now Bernie Sanders is trying to cover his derrière by hopping on board.

It won’t work. Sanders will find himself having to take one loyalty oath after another as the anti-Russia campaign flares anew. But it will never be enough, and he’ll only wind up looking tired and weak. Voters will opt for the supposedly more formidable Biden, who will end up as a bug splat on the windshield of Donald Trump’s speeding election campaign. With impeachment no longer an issue, he’ll be free to behave as dictatorially as he wishes as he settles into his second term.

After inveighing against billionaire’s wars, he’ll find himself ensnared by the same billionaire war machine. The trouble with Sanders is that he thinks he can win by playing by the rules. But he can’t because the rules are stacked against him. He’d know that if his outlook was more radical. His problem is not that he’s too much of a socialist. Rather, it’s that he’s not enough.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 8 Comments

Attempts to Remove Morales’ Memory from Bolivia Will Likely Reinvigorate an Anti-Imperialist Struggle

By Paul Antonopoulos | January 20, 2020

Last Wednesday, the coup government of Bolivia launched a massive military operation claiming to be a pre-emptive strike against the expected violence to occur this Wednesday during Plurinational State Foundation Day celebrations that memorializes the change in the name of the country and the adoption of a new constitution in 2009 under the Presidency of Evo Morales. Heavily armed military personnel on the streets, arrest warrants and the denouncements of deputies who are intimidated by violent groups has just continued under the U.S.-backed coup government in La Paz.

The increased militarization has occurred despite violence, vandalism and looting decreasing since November when Morales was driven out of Bolivia. However, the fear continues and justice has been politicized to such a degree that the coup government has itself reported that there are more than 64,000 judicial proceedings in progress against former authorities and officials associated with Morales’ administration – all leading up to the elections on May 3.

However, the dilemma for the putschists is a fear that Morales’ Movement to Socialism (MAS) Party may win. Morales has refused to legitimize the current leader of Bolivia, Jeanine Añez, further complicating the upcoming elections. It is for this reason, with the huge popularity of Morales remaining, that the coup government fears what might occur on Wednesday, which is not only a Morales-era public holiday, but also the date on which the constitutional mandate of the Executive and Legislative powers ends. Even if the parliament decides to ratify the extension of the mandate by the Constitutional Court, the frustrations of the people might explode.

This comes as the Bolivian people were reinvigorated with Morales stating “If between now and in a little while… I were to return [to Bolivia] or someone else goes back, we must organize as in Venezuela, armed militias of the people,” referring to Bolivarian people’s militias organized by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. However, this could be a dangerous statement that could serve to justify further repression and the militarization of Bolivia.

Evo Morales then went to Twitter to say “Peace, reconciliation and unity in Bolivia they will only be achieved by restoring the rule of law, eliminating motorcycle groups and fighting, ultimately, against inequality, discrimination and poverty.”

It is this very symbol of Bolivian sovereignty and independence that Añez has prioritized the removal of statues and images of Morales from the public sphere. However, it is very unlikely that this would be enough to remove the memory of Morales that Bolivians have for the country’s first indigenous president. Bolivian people know the removal of references to Morales publicly will not erase his achievements from their memory.

With Bolivia being mired by a political crisis for months that still has no solution, the next few days before the anniversary of the founding of the Plurinational State on January 22 has put the government on top military alert, which now realizes that it cannot erase a country’s history at a stroke or deny its identity. However, Añez has decided to silence those voices as she cannot dissuade them by deploying the army and police to the streets.

The little widespread popularity that the coup government has will continue to decline, especially after the visit of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the United States National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere Affairs directorate, Mauricio Claver-Carone, to Bolivia who reiterated his support for Añez on behalf of Trump. Claver-Carone and Añez talked about Trump’s priorities in this so-called transitional period. In the regional domain scheme, Trump cannot let the Andean country escape from his hands, which is why it is likely that he pushed Añez to rename the anti-imperialist school that Morales created in the Armed Forces of Bolivia in 2016, which was renamed on Friday to Heroes of Ñancahuazu – after the Bolivian military unit that killed revolutionary figure Ernesto “Che” Guevara in 1967, according to TeleSUR. This was of course part of a wider effort to destroy the memory of Morales in Bolivia.

The arrival of Áñez to power, by a coup d’etat in November, gave a twist to Bolivia’s international policy, which during the almost 14 years of Morales’ administration had assumed an “anti-imperialist” position, including the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. anti-drug (DEA) and ending cooperation  with (USAID) agencies. Claver-Carome’s visit certainly improved several steps of rapprochement between La Paz and Washington after the fall of Morales in November.

Although Claver-Carome said that his visit sought to deepen the links between the two countries, of which he said they had the same democratic interests and values, the attempts to destroy the memory of Morales is likely to backfire and create a renewed vigor for support behind the MAS. It is for this reason that Áñez must consider scaling down the violence and persecution against Morales’ supporters, especially as Wednesday will be a highly charged and emotive day, in which Morales supporters view the resistance to her putschist government as part of an anti-imperialist struggle.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

One More Social Leader Killed In Colombia, 21 So Far in 2020

Social leaders in Colombia are under threat since the peace agreement of 2016.

Social leaders in Colombia are under threat since the peace agreement of 2016. | Photo: EFE
teleSUR | January 19, 2020

The Cordobexia Social Foundation denounced Saturday the assassination of social leader Luis Dario Rodriguez, the second activist killed in the northwestern department of Cordoba this week and the 21st so far in Colombia this year.

According to the statement released by the foundation, the social leader was murdered on Friday afternoon as he was returning home from a fishing trip in the municipality of Tierralta.

“He was shot by men on a motorcycle,” denounced the Cordobexia Social Foundation, as well as calling on the national government to protect and guarantee the exercise of human rights in Colombia.

Rodriguez was a member of the Association of Displaced and Vulnerable Families of Tierralta and of the human rights network of southern Cordoba. Also a father of three children and dedicated himself to fishing and agriculture.

His activism consisted of speeding up land claim processes after the flooding of the Alto Sinúu lands by the URRA 1 hydroelectric plant.

Less than a week ago, social leaders, Jorge Luis Betancourt and Tulio Sandoval were also murdered in their respective municipalities.

Betancourt also from Cordoba was killed in the municipality of Montelibanom and was a farmer’s rights activist.

While, Sandoval, who was participating in the crop substitution program, was killed by armed individuals who broke into his house, dragged him out and shot him repeatedly in front of his family.

In this context, Attorney General Fernando Carrillo recently called for an end to what he described as “the systematic murder of social leaders.”

Since the peace agreement signing, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia has counted more than 300 murders of human rights leaders.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

‘Likely Linked to the Russian State’: US Looks for Almighty Hand of Moscow in Latin America – Report

Sputnik – January 20, 2020

US experts are again claiming that Russian social media campaigns have disrupted US elections, sowed anti-Western sentiment in Africa, and “inspired China and Iran to adopt similar tactics against protesters and political adversaries”, the New York Times alleges, attempting to highlight the purported global influence of Moscow.

The New York Times on Sunday alleged, citing analysts from the US Department of State, that Russia’s online influence campaigns in Latin America have been active for a long time.

In particular, the analyses suggested that Twitter accounts “likely linked to the Russian state” produced a number of posts during the 2019 unrest in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Chile, according to the media report.

State Department experts concluded that this short-term spike of activity is “likely linked” to social media accounts and could be regarded as evidence of a powerful disinformation campaign, The New York Times said.

According to State Department officials cited by The New York Times, purported Russian efforts in Latin America “appear aimed at stirring dissent in states that have demanded the resignation of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela”.

“We are noting a thumb on the scales […] It has made the normal dispute resolutions of a democratic society more contentious and more difficult”, said the deputy assistant secretary of state, Kevin O’Reilly, cited by The New York Times.

The report, cited by the US-based media outlet, concludes that the surge in unrest in Latin America in 2019 cannot be attributed to any one particular factor, leaving an alleged Russian-linked influence campaign in question.

As an example of their findings, experts allege that RT Espanol and Sputnik Mundo have been a primary source of information for Russian-linked Twitter accounts. Another supposed pattern “spotted” by American analysts suggests that certain Twitter accounts posted in Spanish and English were targeting the Chilean public and foreign audiences last autumn, according to The New York Times.

Chilean authorities have also reportedly made their own findings, suggesting that one-third of all social media posts during the nationwide unrest in 2019 were disseminated from abroad. Chileans have, however, questioned the document as the posted figures fail to show reliable evidence that a foreign power played a role.

Despite US claims that State Department experts reportedly used sophisticated computer-generated data-mining analyses to support their conclusions, the Moscow-blaming campaign remains precarious for want of hard evidence.

According to The New York Times, citing State Department data, a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #chile – popular among the allegedly Russian-linked accounts in October 2019 during the peak of the unrest in the Latin American nation – failed to gain even the bottom position in the regional top 100.

Russia has been constantly blamed for waging influence and meddling campaigns throughout the world, in particular in the US, the EU, as well as some Africa and Latin American countries. Moscow has repeatedly denied all the accusations, highlighting that no proof has been ever furnished.

On Friday, Acting Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf accused Russia of pursuing tactics that include actions “that disrupt and undermine the American way of life”, saying that the US is expecting “Russia to attempt to interfere in the 2020 elections to sow public discord and undermine our democratic institutions”.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Israel participation in Expo 2020 Dubai amounts to normalization: Hamas

Press TV – January 20, 2020

Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas has censured Israel’s presence in the Expo 2020, which is to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates’ city of Dubai, as a form of normalization between the Persian Gulf state and the Tel Aviv regime.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, in a written statement released on Monday, slammed attempts by a number of Arab countries, particularly Persian Gulf littoral states, to bring out in the open their clandestine relations with the Israeli regime, calling on them to put an end to such efforts.

“Such a behavior encourages the Occupation to increase the level of its crimes against Palestinian people, and to step up its violations against the sanctities of our nation,” the statement added.

“The Zionist regime must remain the principal enemy of the [Palestinian] nation. The campaign against the regime and its policies, which aim to dent all opportunities for the nation’s awakening and development, must continue,” Qassem pointed out.

Israeli authorities are hoping to reach out to Arab peoples through participation in the Expo 2020 Dubai.

“To us, the added value is in the Arab and Muslim visitor,” Elazar Cohen, the Israeli foreign ministry’s point man for the expo, which is organized by the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), said on December 15 last year.

An auditorium below the pavilion will offer visitors an interactive multimedia experience, the ministry’s director general Yuval Rotem told AFP at the time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the Israeli expo pavilion as part of “the continued progress of normalization with the Arab states,” alleging that building relations with Arab countries will push the Palestinians toward a ‘peace deal’ with the Israeli regime.

Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on November 6 that the UAE is expected to allow tourists holding Israeli passports to take part in the expo.

“Israeli and the UAE’s authorities have been in talks for a while in order to allow those with Israeli passports to attend the expo in Dubai,” an unnamed source within the expo’s management team told the daily at the time, adding, “These talks are happening because both sides want to see the expo turn into the biggest exhibition in the world.”

Another source said the event in Dubai could be a great pilot run during which Israeli tourists would be allowed into the country, and it can be a signal that the UAE “might leave its doors open to Israeli tourists permanently.”

Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, told a ministerial meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on August 6 last year that he was working toward “transparent normalization and signed agreements” with a number of Arab Persian Gulf littoral states.

Arab countries — except for Jordan and Egypt — have no formal relations with the Israeli regime.

Israel’s trade with Persian Gulf states is estimated to stand at about $1 billion annually, according to a study published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in August 2018.

Jamal al-Suwaidi, founder of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, told the British newspaper The Guardian in an interview in March that the Palestinian issue is no longer at the top of the agenda among the Arab Persian Gulf states.

“The Palestinian cause is no longer at the forefront of Arabs’ interests, as it used to be for long decades,” he said. “It has sharply lost priority in light of the challenges, threats and problems that face countries of the region.”

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US expulsion from Iraq’s Kurdistan region subject to Baghdad’s decision

Mehr News Agency – January 19, 2020

Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party announced that the expulsion of US troops from Iraq’s Kurdistan region is subject to the decision by the central government.

The withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq’s Kurdistan region is a decision that Baghdad will make, said a member of Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party on Sunday Mahdi Abdulkarim, according to Almaalomah.

Abdulkarim said that Iraq’s Kurdistan Region does not reject the possibility of the withdrawal of foreign forces from its territories, and the decision on the withdrawal is related to the decisions of the Iraqi central government.

“Masoud Barzani, the head of Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party stressed that the decision of the Kurdistan region will be the same as Baghdad’s, saying that the decision taken by the central government will also be accepted by the Kurdistan Region in order to maintain Iraq’s sovereignty.”

There are considerations about the decision to withdraw foreign troops from Iraq, and some talks are underway, he said, adding that everything will be clear in the coming days.

The Iraqi parliament voted for a resolution requiring the government to order the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq on 5 January in an extraordinary session two days after a US drone strike on a convoy at Baghdad airport which assassinated Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | | 1 Comment

How Expansive is FBI Spying?

By Ron Paul | January 20, 2020

Cato Institute Research Fellow Patrick Eddington recently filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to find out if the Federal Bureau of Investigation ever conducted surveillance of several organizations dealing with government policy, including my Campaign for Liberty. Based on the FBI’s response, Campaign for Liberty and other organizations, including the Cato institute and the Reason Foundation, may have been subjected to FBI surveillance or other data collection.

I say “may have been” because the FBI gave Mr. Eddington a “Glomar response” to his FOIA requests pertaining to these organizations. A Glomar response is where an agency says it can “neither confirm nor deny” involvement in a particular activity. Glomar was a salvage ship the Central Intelligence Agency used to recover a sunken Soviet submarine in the 1970s. In response to a FOIA request by Rolling Stone magazine, the CIA claimed that just confirming or denying the Glomar’s involvement in the salvage operation would somehow damage national security. A federal court agreed with the agency, giving federal bureaucrats, and even local police departments, a new way to avoid giving direct answers.

The Glomar response means these organizations may have been, and may still be, subjected to federal surveillance. As Mr. Eddington told Reason magazine, “We know for a fact that Glomar invocations have been used to conceal actual, ongoing activities, and we also know that they’re not passing out Glomars like candy.”

Protecting the right of individuals to join together in groups to influence government policy is at the very heart of the First Amendment. Therefore, the FBI subjecting such groups to surveillance can violate the constitutional rights of everyone involved with the groups.

The FBI has a long history of targeting Americans whose political beliefs and activities threaten the FBI’s power or the power of influential politicians. The then-named Bureau of Investigation participated in the crackdown on people suspected of being communists in the post-World War I “Red Scare.” The anti-communist crackdown was headed by a young agent named J. Edgar Hoover who went on to become FBI director, a position he held until his death. Hoover kept and expanded his power by using the FBI to collect blackmail material on people including politicians.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the FBI spied on supporters of the America First movement, including several Congress members. Two of the most famous examples of FBI targeting individuals based on their political activities are the harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. and the COINTELPRO program. COINTELPRO was an organized effort to spy on and actively disrupt “subversive” organizations, including antiwar groups

COINTELPRO officially ended in the 1970s. However, the FBI still targets individuals and organizations it considers “subversive,” including antiwar groups and citizen militias.

Congress must hold hearings to determine if the FBI is currently using unconstitutional methods to “monitor” any organizations based on their beliefs. Congress must then take whatever steps necessary to ensure that no Americans are ever again targeted for surveillance because of their political beliefs and activities.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | Leave a comment