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Biden treated Ukraine ‘as his private property’, says purged prosecutor Shokin on Burisma scandal – UkraineGate documentary

RT | February 27, 2020

Former top Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin says he was pushed out under pressure from US Vice President Joe Biden, after he seized the assets of the oligarch behind Burisma, the gas company that employed Biden’s son.

President Donald Trump’s efforts to investigate Biden’s role in getting Shokin fired served as a pretext for his impeachment in the House of Representatives back in December. However, after Trump was acquitted by the Senate, the US media forgot about Burisma — and Ukraine.

French investigative journalist Olivier Berruyer, founder of popular anti-corruption and economics blog Les Crises, did not. In the fourth installment of his documentary series ‘UkraineGate: Inconvenient facts,’ Shokin reveals why and how he was ousted and what role the US has played in Ukraine.

Shokin tells Berruyer that Biden and the US government had approved his appointment as prosecutor-general — as, indeed, they did all major appointments in Ukraine since the 2014 Maidan upheaval — and worked with him well until he started getting too close to Burisma. He rejected reports that described his probe as “dormant.”

“Biden was acting on behalf of his own interests, and those of his family, and not in the interest of the American people,” Shokin said, adding that Barack Obama’s VP “believed that Ukraine was his private property, his fiefdom and that he could do whatever he wanted here.”

Within a few days of Shokin seizing the assets of Mykola Zlochevsky, the oligarch owner of Burisma, President Petro Poroshenko summoned him and told him to back off.

“Don’t you understand what Biden wants from you? Why are you getting into this Burisma stuff again?” Shokin quoted Poroshenko as saying. Within a few weeks, he was replaced by someone Biden called “more solid” – Yuriy Lutsenko, who had no training in law, and whom Shokin describes as a traitor to Ukraine.

The previous installment of Berruyer’s documentary featured testimonies from Ukrainians who argued that Poroshenko was directly involved in corruption, and that Hunter Biden’s job at Burisma was a de facto bribe intended for his father.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Coronavirus: The “Cures” Will Be Worse Than the Disease

By James Corbett – corbettreport.com – February 29, 2020

It’s spreading. It’s mutating. It’s going viral.

Am I talking about coronavirus? No! I’m talking about theories about coronavirus.

It’s a natural virus. / No, it’s a manmade bioweapon!

It’s less deadly than the regular flu. / It’s worse than the Spanish Flu! / It’s flying bat AIDS!!

The numbers are being underreported. / The numbers are being inflated!

It was patented in 2015! / No, it really wasn’t.

It was unleashed by accident. / It was unleashed on purpose. / It doesn’t even exist!

Yes, there are as many theories about coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as there are people talking about it. The reality is that I don’t know the truth about what this virus really is or where it came from and neither do you.

But there’s something that we do know for sure regardless of where this virus came from or whether it even really exists. The hype and fear and panic and pandemonium surrounding this (supposed) outbreak is going to be far worse than the disease could ever be. Because, as I’ve been screaming about for over a decade now, a bioweapon attack (real or manmade, false flag or otherwise) is the perfect cover for a slew of agenda items on the globalist checklist. And the more the population panics, the more they play into the globalists’ hands.

Here are five items on The Powers That Shouldn’t Be’s wishlist that are being delivered on a silver platter as people scurry around panicking about coronavirus.

1) Unprecedented surveillance and control of population

As Corbett Reporteers will know by now, China is in many ways the model for the technocratic Brave New World of the 21st century. Social credit scores and facial recognition CCTV networks and government-controlled internet are just the most obvious examples of how governments will seek to surveil and control their populations in the future. So it shouldn’t be surprising that China, as the epicenter of this new coronavirus outbreak, is pioneering new and hitherto undreamt of ways to keep their population in line during the crisis.

The first thing to note is the sheer scale of what the Chinese government is attempting here. The quarantine imposed in Wuhan last month, encompassing a city of 11 million people, was already the largest quarantine in human history. But when that quarantine expanded to include the entire province of Hubei—a population of 57 million people—the scope of the lockdown became nearly unimaginable. How can such a quarantine possibly be maintained?

Well, as we’ve all seen, it can be done by good old-fashioned brute force. When in doubt, just weld the sick person’s door shut so they can’t leave their room!

But to really manage millions of people, you need technological help. And so the Chinese government has been deploying every tool in its arsenal to monitor and maintain restrictions on citizens and their movements.

Flying drones to harass anyone walking around without a mask? Check.

A nationwide video surveillance system called—you can’t make this up—Skynet to help spot quarantine evaders? Check.

A color-coded rating on a smartphone payment app to identify people as low or high-risk for carrying the virus based on their payment and travel history? Check.

If you can think of a creepy and invasive way of tracking and controlling the population, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Chinese government has already thought of it (and is likely already using it).

But here’s the real question: When this is all over, do you think the government will simply shelve these technologies and systems? Or do you think that once this level of control becomes normalized that the authoritarians in the Chinese Communist Party will continue using it?

And here’s the even realer question: Do you think there’s a government anywhere around the world that wouldn’t use this technology on its own population if given a convenient excuse (like, say, a freakout over a novel coronavirus)?

The answers to these questions are obvious, but just look at the prisoner conditioning that has been taking place at the airports for the past two decades. Even people like myself who grew up pre-9/11 can scarcely believe there was a time where you could hop on a plane with little more than a step through a metal detector. What? You want to bring a water bottle through security!? What are you, crazy? In just two decades, the entire experience of air travel has been utterly transformed, and no declaration of victory in the so-called “War on Terror” will ever bring back the old security screening practices. For the average American, the TSA is just a fact of life now.

And for those who live for long enough in a quarantine crackdown, complete government surveillance of every citizens movements, purchases and interactions will just be a fact of life. These tools of control are here to stay, and the longer these quarantines last and the greater the areas effected, the further it will go in conditioning the public to accept it.

2) A blank check for Big Pharma and the WHO

When a detective is looking to solve a crime, it’s important to ask cui bono. Although it may be circumstantial, establishing who benefits from a crime at least points you to some suspects.

In this case, though, the question of who benefits has a simple answer: WHO benefits, of course. The World Health Organization, that is. As the United Nations body tasked with directing international health and leading the response to global health concerns, the WHO always grows in power in the wake of every crisis.

During the swine flu non-crisis and the ebola non-crisis and the zika non-crisis the WHO was led by Director-General Margaret Chan. It was under Chan’s watch, remember, that the WHO declared the 2009 swine flu outbreak a “global pandemic,” a move that automatically triggered billions of dollars of vaccine purchases by various governments. This was a blatant cash grab, of course, and even the Council of Europe was compelled to note that the members of the WHO council that made the pandemic declaration were also sitting on the boards of the vaccine manufacturers who stood to benefit from that decision.

With the Covid-19 outbreak, too, the WHO is playing a game with the pandemic declaration, only this time its motivation is precisely the opposite. In 2017, the World Bank issued a $425 billion bond in support of its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility. Investors in that bond issue will lose everything if a global pandemic is declared before July . . . a key reason, some suggest, why the WHO is refusing to call coronavirus a pandemic despite it quite clearly meeting the criteria.

So who is heading the WHO this time around? Well, it’s not Margaret Chan anymore. She stepped down in 2017 and was replaced by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian politician and academic who, William Engdahl notes, is the first WHO director-general who isn’t even a medical doctor. Instead, after earning his degree in biology at the University of Asmara in Eritrea and serving in a junior position at the Ministry of Health under the Marxist dictatorship of Mengistu, he:

“[. . .] then went on to become Minister of Health from 2005 to 2012 under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. There he met former President Bill Clinton and began a close collaboration with Clinton and the Clinton Foundation and its Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI). He also developed a close relation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As health minister, Tedros would also chair the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that was co-founded by the Gates Foundation. The Global Fund has been riddled with fraud and corruption scandals.”

Oh, you mean the Gates Foundation and their GAVI Alliance for vaccination that are the WHO’s biggest donors? The Gates Foundation that helped host the Event 201 “high-level pandemic exercise” in New York last October that war gamed out the entire coronavirus scenario we’re currently living through? Right.

And how are WHO going to save the day? With Big Pharma drugs, naturally! Governments are already lining up to pledge tens of millions of dollars to fund the effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine. And that’s just the funding to develop the vaccine. There are many more billions waiting for the big pharma manufacturers who can deliver the first vaccine to market.

Yes, coronavirus is going to be a big payday for some rich and well-connected people in the international medical mafia. But don’t worry, the politicians are going to get in on the fun, too . . .

3) An excuse to implement medical martial law

A decade ago, in the midst of the swine flu hype, I released an episode of The Corbett Report podcast on medical martial law. In that episode I laid out the various ways that governments around the world (including, of course, the US government) have been quietly passing legislation that would enable them to implement martial law in the event of a global pandemic. This would allow them to quarantine and incarcerate citizens suspected of infection, and would allow the government to administer whatever medications (including vaccinations) it deemed necessary to stop the spread of the infection.

In the US specifically, this legislation took the form of The Model State Emergency Health Power Act, a piece of legislation that was drafted by the Center for Disease Creation (CDC). The act grants government the power to quarantine, force vaccinate, and mobilize the military to help implement emergency procedures as deemed necessary to contain the outbreak. It is designed to be forwarded in each state legislature so that the states could harmonize their emergency pandemic plans, essentially creating a federal system enabling medical martial law. As the ACLU notes:

“The Act lets a governor declare a state of emergency unilaterally and without judicial oversight, fails to provide modern due process procedures for quarantine and other emergency powers, it lacks adequate compensation for seizure of assets, and contains no checks on the power to order forced treatment and vaccination.”

Regardless, at last count the act has been the basis for 133 pieces of legislation in 33 different states.

And, sure enough, the citizens of the developed, Western world who thought that martial law was only for banana republics and exotic Eastern countries are about to get a taste of this bitter medicine on the back of the coronavirus hype.

Australia just activated its emergency pandemic plan despite not having a reported case of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19. The plan grants the government the power to cancel public events, force people to work from home, close childcare centers and otherwise impose mandates and restrictions on the daily lives of its citizens as it sees fit.

Not to be outdone, the Swiss Federal Council has just declared a “special situation” which allows the council to issue emergency police ordinances “without a basis in federal law.” Some of the powers explicitly assumed by the council include the power to mandate vaccinations, order quarantines and ban events or close institutions.

Now Britain, the US, and other countries are dusting off their own emergency plans and preparing to get in on the martial law bonanza.

Of course, this is not only the perfectly predictable response to the current outbreak hype, it was the predicted response. That’s right, as noted above, the high-level exercise dubbed Event 201 that was held last October and which simulated a global coronavirus pandemic featured extensive discussion about the need to implement medical martial law in order to bring the virus in check.

Thus we saw Stephen Redd of the CDC opining during the exercise that “governments need to be willing to do things that are out of their historical perspective [sic] . . . It’s really a war footing that we need to be on.”

Likewise, Brad Connett of medical supply manufacturer Henry Schein Inc declared that “it can happen quickly. A martial [law]-type plan–they may not say that, exactly–but a martial [law]-type plan can go into effect and stimulate change very quickly.”

It certainly can. And what room do you believe the governments that implement martial law are going to leave for dissent on the issue? Why, none, of course. But how are they going to stop the spread of information in this age of 24/7 always-connected social media?

Funny you should ask, because that leads us to our next New World Order agenda item.

4) An excuse to crack down on the internet

In New World Next Year 2020—the annual year-end New World Next Week wrap up episode—I predicted that 2020 was going to be The End of the Internet As We’ve Known It! At the time I formulated that prediction, the 2020 (s)election circus and the inevitable wave of censorship that it would bring about weighed heavily on my mind. As it is, it’s quite possible that coronavirus will be the convenient excuse for governments to flex their internet censorship muscles.

Zero Hedge has already had its Twitter account suspended for posting the details of a particular Chinese scientist working in the Wuhan bio lab that some suspect was the origin of the outbreak. This was done in the name of Twitter’s policy about “abuse and harassment,” but given that the website did nothing more than post the already publicly available contact information for the scientist, it seems more likely that this is part of a campaign to control the narrative on coronavirus from the get go.

As I write this editorial, the front page of Google News (which I strongly advise against using as a source of information, for the record) is filled with “Fact Checks” about various coronavirus theories that are floating around the internet.

Given the current state of online censorship, can there be any doubt that governments around the world will jump at the excuse to scrub dissenting voices from the internet? As alternative information about the virus, its origins, and the vaccines that are intended to “cure it” flood the net, a propaganda campaign unlike any we have seen before will be waged to portray the purveyors of this information as a threat to public order. They will be purged from the internet accordingly, with (no doubt) the approval of a large proportion of the population. And with that precedent set, it will only be a matter of time before any information that challenges the ruling power is deemed a “threat to public order” and wiped from the internet.

Lest there be any doubt that the online purge is an aspect of the pandemic scenario that is particularly important to TPTSB, it should be noted that Event 201 dwelled extensively on how to “stop the spread of misinformation.” Their answer: Internet shutdowns and censorship, of course!

5) Precipitating economic crisis

Given that I make my living online, the prospect of internet shutdowns and censorship crackdowns are worrying to me. But before you become too distraught over the plight of the poor podcaster, let’s put this crisis into perspective: Assuming that the virus does go pandemic, it is quite likely that this will be the largest economic disruption of our lifetime.

This is the point where I would put forward some facts to back up such a bold statement, but given that we just saw the worst week in the markets since the financial crisis, including the worst two day point drop in Dow Jones history, I doubt that it’s really necessary to elaborate.

As mass quarantines expand, public events are canceled, businesses are shuttered, and economic activity generally grinds to a halt, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that we are in for a global economic crisis of nearly unthinkable proportions. But the real disruptions are going to start long before we get to that point.

Given that the mass quarantines have started in China, a.k.a. the most important link in the global just-in-time supply chain, we are going to see significant difficulties for many manufacturers producing basic consumer goods in the very near future. Smartphones. Cars. Even, in a perverse bit of irony, medical supplies. So much of the global economy that depends on Chinese manufacturing is already experiencing shutdowns and shortages. And this is only the razor thin edge of what promises to be a gigantic wedge.

Here’s the worst part: These disruptions are already baked into the cake. Even if everyone on the planet was suddenly cured of their disease overnight and all quarantines were lifted, the effects of these last few weeks of lockdowns and closures would still continue to ripple their way through the global economy for months. But as the fear and hype spreads from continent to continent and the mass disruptions expand, these effects will get worse and worse.

I would expand on this point, but I have a feeling this is going to become a dominant and recurring topic of review in these editorials in the future. Let me just say this for now: Regardless of whether coronavirus is natural or manmade or even whether it exists at all, the economic effects of this event are going to be very real and very profound. Given that I write for the International Forecaster and have been documenting the Ponzi scheme that is the modern global economy for over a decade now, I’m often asked when the scam will collapse and the long-predicted global financial crisis will hit. Well, it’s very possible that the crisis has now officially hit and the decades of pie-in-the-sky negative-interest-rate helicopter-funny-money insanity that has papered over our grim economic reality is about to come crashing down all at once.

Conclusion: Coronavirus panic is a giant boost for the globalist agenda

I recently heard a suggestion that if this does eventuate into a global pandemic then it will set the globalist agenda back by decades. After all, an event like this will surely teach us all a hard lesson in national self-sufficiency and the inherent danger of an overextended, just-in-time global supply chain, right?

Of course not. No, that’s the conclusion that a rational person thinking about the crisis in a rational way would come to. So of course the globalists are going to force feed us the exact opposite idea: That a crisis like this will demonstrate how we need even more global integration amongst all levels of public and private society.

Don’t believe me? Just read the press release that Johns Hopkins and the Event 201 participants put out last month just before “Wuhan” and “coronavirus” became topics of daily conversation:

“The next severe pandemic will not only cause great illness and loss of life but could also trigger major cascading economic and societal consequences that could contribute greatly to global impact and suffering. Efforts to prevent such consequences or respond to them as they unfold will require unprecedented levels of collaboration between governments, international organizations, and the private sector.”

Oh, that’s right. This is another chance to “fail forward.” After all, as that great globalist soothsayer Rahm Emanuel told us during the last financial catastrophe, the global elitists’ mantra is to “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Do you really think this “crisis” (whether real or imaginary) would be any exception?

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 3 Comments

US Demands Russia ‘Immediately Ground Warplanes’ Over Syria

Sputnik – February 29, 2020

The situation in the northwestern Syrian renegade province of Idlib escalated again on Thursday after Syrian forces responding to a Nusra Front assault accidentally struck Turkish positions, killing 33 troops and injuring dozens more. The attack prompted the UN Security Council to call an emergency meeting on the situation in Syria.

The US “fully supports” Turkey’s right “to respond in self-defence” to the “unjustified” attacks on Turkish forces in Idlib, Syria which killed nearly three dozen troops Thursday, US Permanent Representative to the UN Kelly Craft has said.

“We call on the Russian Federation to immediately ground its warplanes. And we call for all Syrian forces and their Russian backers to withdraw to the ceasefire lines first established in 2018,” Craft said, speaking at the UN Security Council’s emergency meeting on Syria on Friday.

“The United States is not here today to listen and discuss. We are here to speak directly and without qualification,” Craft warned. “In the days ahead, the United States’ commitment to our NATO ally, Turkey, will not waver,” the ambassador added.

Calling the Astana format for Syrian peace talks “broken beyond repair,” Craft said that the US wants “an immediate, durable, and verifiable ceasefire in northwest Syria,” and urged the UN to “play a central, active role if we are to avoid even greater escalation.”

Responding to Craft, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya pointed out that the incident involving the deaths of Turkish military personnel took place outside Turkey’s observation post base, and stressed that Syria has the right to target terrorists. Nebenzya recalled that the Nusra terrorists in control of large swathes of Idlib have dramatically increased their attacks against civilians and the Syrian military in recent weeks, giving the Syrian Army the right to respond.

The Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari, meanwhile, accused Turkey of aggression, and alleged that Ankara was using its observation posts to provide assistance to the terrorists. Al-Jaafari also accused the UK of calling Friday’s Security Council meeting to try to discredit the Astana format.

Black Thursday

Turkish and Syrian forces became engaged in a shooting war in the restive Idlib region earlier this month, after a Syrian artillery attack on one of Turkey’s dozen observation posts killed over half-a-dozen Turkish troops, resulting in a wave of Turkish attacks on Syrian forces. On Thursday, Nusra terrorists launched a large-scale offensive on Syrian Army positions, with Syrian forces responding, with 33 Turkish troops killed in Syria’s counterattack. Shortly thereafter, the Russian military’s Syrian monitoring mission reported that Turkish troops were mixed in among the Nusra militants as the latter came under artillery attack.

On Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Moscow and Ankara had committed to reducing tensions on the ground in Idlib. The same day, however, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that he had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to “get out of our way” and to leave Turkey “face to face” with the Syrian government.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

The threat of a nuclear war between the US and Russia is now at its greatest since 1983

By Scott Ritter | RT | February 29, 2020

When the Commander of NATO says he is a fan of flexible first strike at the same time that NATO is flexing its military muscle on Russia’s border, the risk of inadvertent nuclear war is real.

US Air Force Gen. Tod D Wolters told the Senate this week he “is a fan of flexible first strike” regarding NATO’s nuclear weapons, thereby exposing the fatal fallacy of the alliance’s embrace of American nuclear deterrence policy.

It was one of the most remarkable yet underreported exchanges in recent Senate history. Earlier this week, during the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee of General Tod Wolters, the commander of US European Command and, concurrently, as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR) also the military head of all NATO armed forces, General Wolters engaged in a short yet informative exchange with Senator Deb Fischer, a Republican from the state of Nebraska.

Following some initial questions and answers focused on the alignment of NATO’s military strategy with the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the US, which codified what Wolters called “the malign influence on behalf of Russia” toward European security, Senator Fischer asked about the growing recognition on the part of NATO of the important role of US nuclear deterrence in keeping the peace. “We all understand that our deterrent, the TRIAD, is the bedrock of the security of this country,” Fischer noted. “Can you tell us about what you are hearing…from our NATO partners about this deterrent?”

Wolters responded by linking the deterrence provided to Europe by the US nuclear TRIAD with the peace enjoyed on the European continent over the past seven decades. Fischer asked if the US nuclear umbrella was “vital in the freedom of NATO members”; Wolters agreed. Remarkably, Wolters linked the role of nuclear deterrence with the NATO missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere outside the European continent. NATO’s mission, he said, was to “proliferate deterrence to the max extent practical to achieve greater peace.”

Then came the piece de resistance of the hearing. “What are your views, Sir,” Senator Fischer asked, “of adopting a so-called no-first-use policy. Do you believe that that would strengthen deterrence?”

General Wolters’ response was straight to the point. “Senator, I’m a fan of flexible first use policy.”

Under any circumstance, the public embrace of a “flexible first strike” policy regarding nuclear weapons employment by the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe should generate widespread attention. When seen in the context of the recent deployment by the US of a low-yield nuclear warhead on submarine-launched ballistic missiles carried onboard a Trident submarine, however, Wolters’ statement is downright explosive. Add to the mix the fact the US recently carried out a wargame where the US Secretary of Defense practiced the procedures for launching this very same “low yield” weapon against a Russian target during simulated combat between Russia and NATO in Europe, and the reaction should be off the charts. And yet there has been deafening silence from both the European and US press on this topic.

There is, however, one party that paid attention to what General Wolters had to say–Russia. In a statement to the press on February 25–the same date as General Wolters’ testimony, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister stated that “We note with concern that Washington’s new doctrinal guidelines considerably lower the threshold of nuclear weapons use.” Lavrov added that this doctrine had to be viewed in the light “of the persistent deployment of US nuclear weapons on the territory of some NATO allies and the continued practice of the so-called joint nuclear missions.”

Rather than embracing a policy of “flexible first strike”, Lavrov suggested that the US work with Russia to re-confirm “the Gorbachev-Reagan formula, which says that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed.” This proposal was made 18 months ago, Lavrov noted, and yet the US has failed to respond.

Complicating matters further are the ‘Defender 2020’ NATO military exercises underway in Europe, involving tens of thousands of US troops in one of the largest training operations since the end of the Cold War. The fact that these exercises are taking place at a time when the issue of US nuclear weapons and NATO’s doctrine regarding their employment against Russia is being actively tracked by senior Russian authorities only highlights the danger posed.

On February 6, General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian Chief of Staff, met with General Wolters to discuss ‘Defender 2020’ and concurrent Russian military exercises to be held nearby to deconflict their respective operations and avoid any unforeseen incidents. This meeting, however, was held prior to the reports about a US/NATO nuclear wargame targeting Russian forces going public, and prior to General Wolters’ statement about “flexible first use” of NATO nuclear weapons.

In light of these events, General Gerasimov met with French General Fançois Lecointre, the Chief of the Defense Staff, to express Russia’s concerns over NATO’s military moves near the Russian border, especially the Defender 2020 exercise which was, General Gerasimov noted, “held on the basis of anti-Russian scenarios and envisage training for offensive operations.”

General Gerasimov’s concerns cannot be viewed in isolation, but rather must be considered in the overall historical context of NATO-Russian relations. Back in 1983, the then-Soviet Union was extremely concerned about a series of realistic NATO exercises, known as ‘Able Archer ‘83,’ which in many ways mimicked the modern-day Defender 2020 in both scope and scale. Like Defender 2020, Able Archer ‘83 saw the deployment of tens of thousands of US forces into Europe, where they assumed an offensive posture, before transitioning into a command post exercise involving the employment of NATO nuclear weapons against a Soviet target.

So concerned was Moscow about these exercises, and the possibility that NATO might use them as a cover for an attack against Soviet forces in East Germany, that the Soviet nuclear forces were placed on high alert. Historians have since observed that the threat of nuclear war between the US and the USSR was at that time the highest it had been since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

US and NATO officials would do well to recall the danger to European and world security posed by the “Able Archer ‘83” exercise and the potential for Soviet miscalculations when assessing the concerns expressed by General Gerasimov today. The unprecedented concentration of offensive NATO military power on Russia’s border, coupled with the cavalier public embrace by General Wolters of a “flexible first strike” nuclear posture by NATO, has more than replicated the threat model presented by Able Archer ’83. In this context, it would not be a stretch to conclude that the threat of nuclear war between the US and Russia is the highest it has been since Able Archer ’83.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Seth Rich, Julian Assange and Dana Rohrabacher – Will We Ever Know the Truth About the Stolen DNC Files?

Seth Rich, Julian Assange and Dana Rohrabacher. Credit: Public domain/Gage Skidmore/ Flickr
By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | February 29, 2020

The media is doing its best to make the  story go away, but it seems to have a life of its own, possibly due to the fact that the accepted narrative about how Rich died makes no sense. In its Iatest manifestation, it provides an alternative explanation for just how the information from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer somehow made its way to Wikileaks. If you believe that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide and that he was just a nasty pedophile rather than an Israeli intelligence agent, read no farther because you will not be interested in Rich. But if you appreciate that it was unlikely that the Russians were behind the stealing of the DNC information you will begin to understand that other interested players must have been at work.

For those who are not familiar with it, the backstory to the murder of apparently disgruntled Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, who some days before may have been the leaker of that organization’s confidential emails to Wikileaks, suggests that a possibly motiveless crime might have been anything but. The Washington D.C. police investigated what they believed to be an attempted robbery gone bad but that theory fails to explain why Rich’s money, credit cards, cell phone and watch were not taken. Wikileaks has never confirmed that Rich was their source in the theft of the proprietary emails that had hitherto been blamed on Russia but it subsequently offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to resolution of the case and Julian Assange, perhaps tellingly, has never publicly clarified whether Rich was or was not one of his contacts, though there is at least one report that he confirmed the relationship during a private meeting.

Answers to the question who exactly stole the files from the DNC server and the emails from John Podesta have led to what has been called Russiagate, a tale that has been embroidered upon and which continues to resonate in American politics. At this point, all that is clearly known is that in the Summer of 2016 files and emails pertaining to the election were copied and then made their way to WikiLeaks, which published some of them at a time that was damaging to the Clinton campaign. Those who are blaming Russia believe that there was a hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server and also of John Podesta’s emails that was carried out by a Russian surrogate or directly by Moscow’s military intelligence arm. They base their conclusion on a statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security on October 7, 2016, and on a longer assessment prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on January 6, 2017. Both government appraisals implied that there was a U.S. government intelligence agency consensus that there was a Russian hack, though they provided little in the way of actual evidence that that was the case and, in particular, failed to demonstrate how the information was obtained and what the chain of custody was as it moved from that point to the office of WikiLeaks. The January report was particularly criticized as unconvincing, rightly so, because the most important one of its three key contributors, the National Security Agency, had only moderate confidence in its conclusions, suggesting that whatever evidence existed was far from solid.

An alternative view that has been circulating for several years suggests that it was not a hack at all, that it was a deliberate whistleblower-style leak of information carried out by an as yet unknown party, possibly Rich, that may have been provided to WikiLeaks for possible political reasons, i.e. to express disgust with the DNC manipulation of the nominating process to damage Bernie Sanders and favor Hillary Clinton.

There are, of course, still other equally non-mainstream explanations for how the bundle of information got from point A to point B, including that the intrusion into the DNC server was carried out by the CIA which then made it look like it had been the Russians as perpetrators. And then there is the hybrid point of view, which is essentially that the Russians or a surrogate did indeed intrude into the DNC computers but it was all part of normal intelligence agency probing and did not lead to anything. Meanwhile and independently, someone else who had access to the server was downloading the information, which in some fashion made its way from there to WikiLeaks.

Both the hack vs. leak viewpoints have marshaled considerable technical analysis in the media to bolster their arguments, but the analysis suffers from the decidedly strange fact that the FBI never even examined the DNC servers that may have been involved. The hack school of thought has stressed that Russia had both the ability and motive to interfere in the election by exposing the stolen material while the leakers have recently asserted that the sheer volume of material downloaded indicates that something like a higher speed thumb drive was used, meaning that it had to be done by someone with actual physical direct access to the DNC system. Someone like Seth Rich.

What the many commentators on the DNC server issue choose to conclude is frequently shaped by their own broader political views, producing a result that favors one approach over another depending on how one feels about Trump or Clinton. Or the Russians. Perhaps it would be clarifying to regard the information obtained and transferred as a theft rather than either a hack or a leak since the two expressions have taken on a political meaning of their own in the Russiagate context. With all the posturing going on, the bottom line is that the American people and government have no idea who actually stole the material in question, though the Obama Administration was extraordinarily careless in its investigation and Russian President Vladimir Putin has generally speaking been blamed for what took place.

The story currently bouncing around the media concerns an offer allegedly made in 2017 by former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. According to Assange’s lawyers, Rohrabacher offered a pardon from President Trump if Assange were to provide information that would attribute the theft or hack of the Democratic National Committee emails to someone other than the Russians. He was presumably referring to Seth Rich.

Assange did not accept the offer, but it should be noted that he has repeatedly stated in any event that he did not obtain the material from a Russian or Russian-linked source. In reality, he might not know the original source of the information. Since Rohrabacher’s original statement, both he and Trump have denied any suggestion that there was a firm offer with a quid pro quo for Assange. Trump claims to hardly know Rohrabacher and also asserts that he has never had a one-on-one meeting with him.

The U.S. media’s coverage of the story has emphasized that Assange’s cooperation would have helped to absolve Russia from the charge of having interfered decisively in the U.S. election, but the possible motive for doing so remains unclear. Russian-American relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War and that has largely been due to policies embraced by Donald Trump, to include the cancellation of START and medium range missile agreements. Trump has also approved NATO military maneuvers and exercises right up to the Russian border and has provided lethal weapons to Ukraine, something that his predecessor Barack Obama balked at. He has also openly confronted the Russians in Syria.

Given all of that back story, it would be odd to find Trump making an offer that focuses only on one issue and does not actually refute the broader claims of Russian interference, which are based on a number of pieces of admittedly often dubious evidence, not just the Clinton and Podesta emails. Which brings the tale back to Seth Rich. If Rich was indeed responsible for the theft of the information and was possibly killed for his treachery, it most materially impacts on the Democratic Party as it reminds everyone of what the Clintons and their allies are capable of. It will also serve as a warning of what might be coming at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July as the party establishment uses fair means or foul to stop Bernie Sanders. How this will all play out is anyone’s guess, but many of those who pause to observe the process will be thinking of Seth Rich.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Diana Johnstone by the Saker Italia

The Saker | February 29, 2020

Saker Italia interviewed Diana Johnstone, journalist and political writer, whose articles on politics and analysis on the contemporary global “hot” issues have already been published on Saker Italia. Thanks to her experience and activism (“the political is personal”), Diana offers an always lucid and uncompromising look at current issues. In fact, you may well remember the controversy and the censorship suffered for her position on Srebrenica (“Well, I am very much a genocide denier, and I’m proud of it and I can say why”), and the support Noam Chomsky also gave her on that.

With this interview to Diana, we want to face what we now consider most urgent issues: the gap between the Eastern (Russia, China, Iran) and the Atlantic bloc, USA’s global role and its deep “identity crisis”, and the current social and political movements fleeing the European model. Trying to take a look at our geopolitical future.

S.I. One of the hot and “macro” topics is the so-called “new world order”, in particular the evolution of the model of power balance from bipolar to multipolar. The historic opposition between the USA and Russia has been enriched with new players (China and Iran), and of course the American role is changing, a role that also influences the European balance and dynamics. What is the “picture” you can take of this moment? What evolution? Which new players do you think will appear? What is Israel’s role and/or the Israeli lobby’s influence in this context?

Is there really “historic opposition” between the USA and Russia?  Russia supported the North in the U.S. Civil War while Britain and France were on the side of the South, and Russia and the USA were on the same side in two world wars. The historic opposition to Russia was more British, recalling the “Great Game” of 19th century rivalry in Central Asia.

Russia was seen as a U.S. adversary on grounds of communism. The communist scare emerged as the perfect ideological pretext for the United States to maintain the dominance it gained from World War.  Western Europe had to be defended from communism. Third World countries had to be prevented from going communist.

Russians themselves evidently believed that U.S. animosity was purely ideological, based on communism. I think they really believed that the fall of Soviet communism would make the two nations into friendly partners.

All that happened is that the opposition was exposed as purely a matter of power relations. It becomes clearer that this is not an ideological battle between “liberal democracy” and “communist dictatorship” but between the United States and whoever resists U.S. world hegemony.

After two major twentieth century wars that ruined all the major powers, the United States moved in and occupied the power vacuum. Educated to consider America morally superior to the “old world”, U.S. leaders easily considered their new supremacy to be natural, inevitable and eternal. They are psychologically ill-equipped to think in Putin’s terms of “a world of equals”.

This attitude has been very successfully exploited by Israel’s champions, whether the neoconservative policy elite, Hollywood or AIPAC. They have managed to identify Israel as a little America, land of those who escaped wicked European persecution to create a free nation in the wilderness and who must forever fend off the enemies of democracy. The Israeli influence has had a very negative effect on both the American ideology and American methods, from targeted assassinations of political enemies to methods of crowd control.

I would not call Iran a “new player”. The United States holds an old grudge against the Islamic Republic dating back to the 1979 embassy hostage crisis. Saudi Arabia and especially Israel exploit this to portray their own most powerful regional adversary as a threat to the United States, when in reality Iran only seeks peaceful relations with the West.

The “new players” that could make a difference would be Western European countries whose leaders would manage to free themselves from the military and ideological occupation by the United States that has lasted over seventy years. But so far, Europe’s irresponsible obedience provides the decisive support to U.S. worldwide pretensions.


S.I.  Focusing on Europe, the EU is increasingly perceived by its citizens as a bureaucratic rather than a political or cultural entity. Also considering the foreign policy of Macron and Merkel, what’s your view on the current EU’s state of health?

The EU is indeed a bureaucratic rather than a political or cultural entity. Still worse, its treaties lock its member States into neoliberal economic policies and bind its defense to NATO. In short, the EU is the most advanced experiment in U.S.-dominated globalization.

In this context, neither the EU itself nor its member states can pursue their own foreign policy. That is why they are flailing about helplessly as they recognize that following the United States is leading them off the cliff.

French President has been widely quoted for remarking that NATO is “brain dead”. I just read an interview with Alain de Benoist who rightly observed that it is the European Union which is brain dead, whereas NATO is flourishing. That is all too true. NATO is actually making Europe’s foreign policy through its military buildup against Russia, and they all go along, although only Poland and the little Baltic States really approve.

The EU’s domestic policies are widely unpopular, and the foreign policy is dictated by NATO. Yet the EU persists because populations have been indoctrinated for generations that only these particular supranational structures preserve Europe from war – even as Europe has been being dragged into wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria… and what comes next?


S.I.
 The resolution of the European Parliament, which historically equated Nazism with communism, has recently aroused much controversy. Recalling also that the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazism will be celebrated this year in May – a victory obtained mainly thanks to the Soviet government – what is your opinion on this ideological operation, easy to become a decisive political-cultural watershed for the identity of the European Union itself?

The European Parliament has no authority to do much of anything, least of all to define historic truth. This shameful resolution illustrates the intellectual vacuity of the current European political class as a whole.

The equation of Nazism with Soviet communism is based on the propagandistic practice of throwing both of them into a bag labeled “totalitarianism”, a questionable abstract concept which refers to techniques of ideological control, ignoring the sharp differences of intention and practice. The point is to discredit extreme left and extreme right and preserve the “liberal center” as the only innocent place to be. By installing an official version of history and an official liberal ideology, the European Parliament seems to be leaning toward a bit of totalitarianism itself. Since there is no such thing as a common European sensibility, the EU tries to identify itself with abstract ideas and historic myths, much like its sponsor, the United States.


S.I. Still talking about Europe, we see the movement of the yellow vests and the recent victory of Sinn Fein in the Irish elections. We see all these movements and expressions that are strongly in contrast not only with the concept of the EU but are also openly anti-establishment. What kind of future do you see for these movements? Which others are possibly ready to explode?

The European Construction was designed (notably along the lines laid out by Jean Monnet) to put an end to nation states and even to politics, replaced by capitalism and technocratic governance. But politics is reasserting itself in various ways. The lid is shaking and may come off. In France, the problem with the EU is that the neoliberal straitjacket blocks the sort of mixed economy, with a strong State role, an industrial policy, public services and social benefits. For Hungary, EU immigration policy threatens the identity of a small nation with a difficult language. These movements call attention to the growing differences between historic nations that according to the concept of the EU were supposed to grow into one European people. But right in the very center of the EU, Belgium is coming apart because prosperous right-leaning Dutch-speaking Flanders doesn’t want to share social costs with French-speaking, left-leaning Wallonia. This illustrates a North-South split that haunts the EU. If little Belgium can’t hold together after two hundred years, a King and a good soccer team, how will Finland and Portugal, Malta and Denmark, Germany and Greece merge into a nation?


S.I. In what is geographically Europe, we are witnessing the terrible conflict in Ukraine. Can you give us your opinion on the role of Europe? Do you think that the end of the conflict is likely to happen, and if so, how?

The role of Europe is simply deplorable. Seen from Washington, Ukraine is a big wedge to drive into Russia. Using Ukraine against Russia has been U.S. policy since the end of World War II. The usual U.S. tactic is exploitation of minority discontent to promote regime change, and the massive immigration of anti-Soviet, anti-Russian Ukrainians to North America has provided plenty of encouragement.

European policy makers should have had a more profound understanding of how dangerous it would be to exploit internal Ukrainian differences, stemming from a violent and complicated history marked by conflicting interpretations of history.

In the contrary, the whole current mess began with demands that Ukraine make a sharp choice in favor of economic accords with the EU, cutting ties with Russia, its main trading partner with strong historic links.  This was bound to revive and exacerbate divisions between the two halves of the country – Western Ukraine which looks West and Eastern Ukraine which looks East. Germany had its own pawns in Ukraine, and was pushing the EU takeover, but lost to the Americans. The United States exploited the uproar to back a coup giving control of the Kiev government to forces favorable to NATO membership. This amounted to a clear threat to bring Russia’s principal naval base in Crimea under US control. Russia was able to fend off this unacceptable threat peacefully, thanks to the well-established fact that most Crimeans wanted their territory to return to Russia. This was overwhelmingly demonstrated by referendum.

Now, any seriously educated person in Europe can understand that this was not a “Russian invasion” of Ukraine but a deft move to head off a potential military confrontation. Contrary to the NATO bombing that detached Kosovo from Serbia, it was both peaceful and democratic.

Meanwhile, the people of the Russian-speaking Donbass region revolted against the coup that overthrew the President they had voted for in favor of a hostile regime including neo-Nazi elements. Russia very easily could have invaded Eastern Ukraine in support of Donbass rebels but did not do so. Yet Atlantic solidarity obliged everyone to proclaim that Russia “invaded Ukraine” and thus “threatens to invade its neighbors”.

So Ukraine is mired in a frozen conflict. Yet the way out was clear enough almost from the beginning, when leaders from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine met in 2014 during commemorations of the D-Day Normandy landings in an attempt to work towards a solution. The outlines of a solution have been obvious from the beginning: a decentralized Ukraine, perhaps a federation on the German model, which would enable the regions to enjoy self-government. Only the Americans have an interest in the ongoing Ukrainian civil war, as a thorn in the side of Russia. The United States made it clear during the Yugoslav crisis of the 1990s that it could not stand back and allow Europeans to solve their own problems. Ukraine is a critical test of that control.


S.I. Looking at the world map, what are your thoughts and predictions on the near geopolitical future?

Today, Syria is still the central point of confrontation between great powers. I try to understand the past and the present, and never venture to predict the future. But I can worry. I worry about insane NATO military exercises on Russia’s borders. I worry today about the reckless and totally illegal Turkish intervention in Syria, which is bringing a NATO member into direct conflict with Russia. The very existence of NATO is a threat to the world, and if European leaders weren’t “brain dead”, they would demand its dissolution. Meanwhile, I read that there is strong opposition to Erdogan’s adventurism from the Turkish people. Instead of artificial “regime change” engineered by U.S. agencies, we need more genuine critical movements of European peoples demanding that governments meet domestic needs and end military confrontation.


Diana Johnstone is an American political writer, focusing primarily on European politics and Western foreign policy. She received a BA in Russian Area studies and a PhD in French literature at the University of Minnesota. Active in the movement against the Vietnam War, she organized the first international contacts between American citizens and Vietnamese representatives.

Diana worked for Agence France Presse, for In These Times as European Correspondent, and she was press officer of the Green group in the European Parliament from 1990 to 1996. Most of Johnstone’s adult life has been spent in France, Germany, and Italy, and from 1990 she has lived in Paris. Her writings have been published in New Left Review, Counterpunch, and Covert Action Quarterly.

She is author of the books “The Politics of Euromissiles: Europe’s Role in America’s World” (1984),  “The Politics of Euromissiles: Europe’s Role in America’s World (1985), Fools’ Crusade , Nato, and Western Delusions” (2003),  Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton (2015 – Disponibile in italiano col titolo “Hillary Clinton. Regina del caos”). In 2020 she published “Circle in the Darkness: Memoir of a World Watcher”, a book recounting Diana’s lifelong effort to understand what is going on in the world, seeking the truth about our troubled times beyond the veils of government propaganda and media deception.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US, Taliban Sign Peace Agreement in Doha

Sputnik – February 29, 2020

Negotiators from the United States and the Taliban are meeting in Doha, Qatar to sign an accord that envisages the timetable of the US withdrawing some of its 13,000 troops. The Taliban, in turn, is expected to sever ties with all extremist groups and prevent the territories of Afghanistan from becoming havens for militants.

The United States and the Taliban movement have signed the long-awaited peace agreement in the Qatari capital of Doha on Saturday.

The troop withdrawal will be phased, with the US forces set to be slimmed down to 8,600 in the first 135 days since the deal’s announcement, while allied and coalition forces will be scaled down proportionately.

The residual US, allied and coalition forces will pull out within the remaining nine-and-a-half months, whereby all military bases will be abandoned.

Up to 5000 Taliban prisoners will be released from prisons by 10 March, the first day of intra-Afghan talks. The remaining prisoners will be freed within the next three months. The Taliban commits that its released prisoners will not pose a threat to the security of the US and its allies.

As soon as intra-Afghan talks begin, the US will start the review process of its sanctions on the Taliban and rewards lists issued for its members, with the goal of removing sanctions by 27 August. It will also engage with the UN Security Council and Afghan authorities to have national sanctions on the Taliban scrapped by 29 May.

The US pledges to seek economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government and will not intervene in its internal affairs.

In return, the Taliban will take steps to prevent terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of the US and its allies.

They include sending a “clear message” that those posing such threat have no place in Afghanistan. The Taliban will instruct its members not to cooperate with such groups or individuals and prevent them from recruiting and fund-raising. It will only grant asylum to people who do not pose a security threat and will not issue visas or other documents to those considered a risk.

Following the signing of the deal, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo enumerated key conditions of the deal between the United States and the Taliban.

“Keep your promises, cut ties with Al-Qaeda. Keep up the fight against Daesh,” Pompeo said, addressing the Taliban.He added that the agreement was “a true test,” stressing that Washington will calibrate the pace of the troop withdrawal with the actions of the Taliban.

US President Donald Trump, for his part, welcomed the agreement as a move to put an end to the US most protracted war.

“We are working to finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops back home,” he said.The head of the militant group’s political office in Qatar said that the Taliban will adhere to the peace agreement signed in Doha on Saturday.

“The US and the Taliban movement have successfully concluded talks in Qatar. I congratulate everyone on this achievement. We will comply with the pact and, as a political force, we want it to be implemented by neighbouring countries,” Abdul Ghani Baradar said.In his turn, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani expressed hope that the long-awaited US-Taliban peace agreement would lead to a permanent ceasefire that in turn would bring stability to Afghanistan.

International Reactions to Historic Accord

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the alliance supports the signing of the US-Taliban peace deal.

“This [deal] is a victory for peace, victory for Afghan people,” Stoltenberg said.The European Union has welcomed the long-awaited peace deal between the United States and the Taliban as a first step toward a negotiated peace process among all Afghans.

“The European Union considers today’s conclusion of the Afghanistan-US Joint Statement for Peace and the settlement between the US and the Taliban as important first steps towards a comprehensive peace process, with intra-Afghan negotiations at its core,” the declaration read.It urged the sides not to miss this opportunity for a lasting peace that could create an environment of security and stability in the war-torn country. Keeping up the reduction in violence is an important part of that process, it added.

“The EU calls on all stakeholders to put the interests of the nation above all other considerations, as the collective responsibility of all Afghan political forces,” it concluded.The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has called for the continuation of the reduced violence in Afghanistan and welcomed the commitment of the conflicting sides to further dialogue.

“Intra-Afghan negotiations are central to the peace efforts. The United Nations welcomes the commitment expressed by the parties to intra-Afghan negotiations; and urges them to move ahead expeditiously with their preparations to start the negotiations, including through forming a truly representative negotiation team,” UNAMA said in a statement.The United Nations also expressed its support to an inclusive Afghan-led process and called for concrete steps toward ending the war.

“The United Nations stresses the importance of continuing to reduce violence, especially violence that harms civilians, and urges all parties, in the period ahead, to redouble efforts to reduce violence on the way to a permanent ceasefire and a lasting political settlement,” the statement said.

Since 2018, Washington and the Taliban have been attempting to negotiate a peace deal that would ensure the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the movement’s guarantee that the country would not become a safe haven for terrorists. The parties’ representatives have been regularly meeting in Doha to address the issue.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

Yemenis encircle strategic city in al-Jawf as Saudi countermeasures fail: Report

Press TV – February 29, 2020

Yemen’s armed forces have encircled the strategic city of al-Hazm – the capital city of the northern al-Jawf province – as Saudi attempts to break Yemeni advances failed, a report says.

The Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper reported Saturday that the advances by Yemeni forces, led by the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, continue towards the strategic city and that major Saudi positions surrounding al-Hazm have fallen.

A tribal source loyal to Ansarullah told al-Akhbar that advances are currently ongoing northwest of the city, adding that a Saudi counteroffensive seeking to recapture the al-Ghail region south of al-Hazm had failed.

The source added that the Yemeni forces have gained control over a number of positions overlooking provincial government buildings in the city.

Up to 70 percent of the province is currently under the control of the Yemeni forces, he added.

According to the report, Saudi Arabia has sent dozens of military vehicles along with hundreds of mercenaries from the central Ma’rib and southern Shabwah province in a bid to push back the Yemenis advances.

Saudi Arabia has also sought to win the loyalty of Yemeni tribes against the Yemeni forces in the region by offering money, the report added.

Yemen’s al-Jawf province had been under Riyadh’s control for up to 50 years.

Due to Saudi intervention and influence, al-Jawf province was effectively deprived of using its oil reserves, which are largest in Yemen, and attracting needed investment, it added.

According to the report, Saudi Arabia expelled as many as 370,000 Yemeni workers from the kingdom in 2013 to put pressure on the former Yemeni government shortly after Yemen’s Safer oil company started operating the first oil well in al-Jawf province.

Saudi Arabia launched its war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing back to power the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and crushing the popular Houthi movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi war has claimed more than 100,000 lives since the war broke out.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

The ‘Stolen Province’: Why Turkey Was Given A Corner Of Syria By France 80 Years Ago

Sputnik – February 29, 2020

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming more and more embroiled in a direct fight with Syria over Idlib Province. The fighting is directly across the border from Hatay, a province which was given to Turkey in 1939 after a disputed referendum.

Turkey has lost a total of 54 soldiers in Idlib province this month as Syria’s President Bashar Assad and his Russian allies have accused Turkey of failing to honour a deal to separate extremist groups from other fighters in the region.

The Syrian Army now controls the southern half of Idlib province but the fighting has increased the stream of refugees attempting to cross the border into the Turkish province of Hatay.

​The border between Syria and Turkey is a relatively straight line from east to west until it reaches the Orontes river.

Then it suddenly dips and heads southwards for about 80 miles, before turning west again and meeting the Mediterranean just beyond Mount Kilic.

​Strategically this little corner of the Levant – known as Liwa Iskanderoun to the Syrians – is vitally important to the Turkish state.

​Now called Hatay province, it contains the cities of Antakya and Iskanderun – previously known as Antioch and Alexandretta – and the port of Dortyol, which was known as Chork Marzban to its Armenian population before the genocide which finally ended in 1923.

In that same year the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which enshrined the boundaries of the Turkish state.

​Those borders remain exactly the same today – except for Hatay province, which suddenly joined Turkey in 1939.

Syria, Lebanon and much of the Middle East had been part of the Ottoman Empire until it collapsed after being defeated in the First World War.

Under the Treaty of Lausanne, Hatay was part of the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon but just before the Second World War broke out, Paris suddenly decided to hold a referendum and Hatay voted to become part of Turkey.

​Syria became independent in 1945 – with Lebanon as a separate state – and refused to recognise Hatay as part of Turkey.

But little was said about it until the conflict in Syria began to draw in President Erdogan and the Turkish armed forces several years ago.

Syrian media began to highlight the suspicious and controversial way Hatay, or Liwa Iskanderoun, was given to the Turks.

In the late 1930s, France was growing increasingly worried about an impending war with Hitler’s Germany and French diplomats were desperately trying to sign up potential allies in Europe and the Middle East.

Ataturk died in 1938 and his successor, Ismet Inonu, was keen to continue his Turkish nationalist fervour.

So when the French suggested a treaty of friendship during the upcoming war, Inonu was willing to accept, on one condition that Turkey recover Hatay.

France agreed, but was technically breaching the Treaty of Lausanne, so in order to give it a fig leaf of respectability, the French suggested a referendum.

​Hatay was at the time a mixture of nationalities – Turks, Turkmen, Sunni Arabs, Alawites (Alevis), Armenians and even some Greeks – with no clear majority, but Ankara is widely believed to have bussed in Turks from other parts of Anatolia and rigged the result of the referendum.

Relations between Turkey and Syria were strained for decades over the issue of Hatay but they began to improve in the 1990s as Turkey sought Syrian help in combating Kurdish guerrillas.

Just before the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, an agreement was signed to build a $28 million Syrian-Turkish Friendship Dam on the Orontes River.

But construction was postponed by the conflict and now Turkey and Syria have had a falling out, with Erdogan furious at Assad for daring to target Turkish troops even though they were siding with jihadist rebels.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 3 Comments

Even NATO is unwilling to touch Turkey’s Idlib mess with a ten-foot pole

By Scott Ritter | RT | February 28, 2020

Having been hit by the Syrian Air Force in Idlib, Turkey has called on NATO’s protection, but as much as the alliance would like a fight with Assad and his ally Russia, it’s refused to back Ankara’s questionable adventure.

Turkey engaged NATO in Article 4 consultations, seeking help regarding the crisis in Syria. The meeting produced a statement from NATO condemning the actions of Russia and Syria and advocating for humanitarian assistance, but denying Turkey the assistance it sought.

The situation in Idlib province has reached crisis proportions. A months-long military offensive by the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force and pro-Iranian militias, had recaptured nearly one-third of the territory occupied by anti-Assad groups funded and armed by Turkey. In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dispatched thousands of Turkish soldiers, backed by thousands of pieces of military equipment, including tanks and armored vehicles, into Idlib to bolster his harried allies.

The result has been a disaster for Turkey, which has lost more than 50 soldiers and had scores more wounded due to Syrian air attacks. For its part, Russia has refrained from directly engaging Turkish forces, instead turning its attention to countering Turkish-backed militants. Faced with mounting casualties, Turkey turned to NATO for assistance, invoking Article 4 of the NATO charter, which allows members to request consultations whenever, in their opinion, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.

Dangerous precedents

Among the foundational principles of the NATO alliance, most observers focus on Article 5, which declares that an attack against one member is an attack against all. However, throughout its 75-year history, Article 5 has been invoked only once – in the aftermath of 9/11 – resulting in joint air and maritime patrols, but no direct military confrontation. The wars that NATO has engaged in militarily, whether in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya or Iraq, have all been conducted under Article 4, when NATO made a collective decision to provide assistance in a situation that did not involve a direct military attack on one of its member states.

With that in mind, Turkey’s decision to turn to Article 4 was a serious undertaking. For additional leverage, Ankara linked the NATO talks with a separate decision to open its borders to refugees seeking asylum in Europe, abrogating an agreement that had been reached with the European Union to prevent uncontrolled migration into Europe through Turkish-controlled territory and waters. Through this humanitarian blackmail, Turkey sought to use the shared economic and political costs arising from the Syrian situation as a bargaining chip for NATO support.

A failed gamble

The best Turkey could get from its Article 4 consultation, however, was a lukewarm statement by Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, condemning Syria and Russia while encouraging a diplomatic resolution to the fighting in Syria that focused on alleviating the unfolding humanitarian crisis regarding refugees. This is a far cry from the kind of concrete military support, such as the provision of Patriot air defense systems or NATO enforcement of a no-fly zone over Idlib, Turkey was hoping for.

The provision of military support under Article 4 is serious, involving as it does the entire weight of the NATO alliance. This was underscored by recent comments made by the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, US General Tod Wolters, which linked NATO’s nuclear deterrence posture to current Article 4 NATO operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. At a time when NATO is focused on confronting Russia in the Baltics, opening a second front against the Russians in Syria is not something the alliance was willing to support at this time.

While the US was vocal in its desire to support Turkey at the consultations, NATO is a consensus organization, and the complexities of Turkey’s Syrian adventure, which extend beyond simple Russian involvement to include issues involving the legality of Turkey’s presence inside Syria, and the fact that many of the armed groups Turkey supports in Idlib are designated terrorist organizations, precluded a NATO decision to intervene on Turkey’s behalf. Having failed in its effort to get NATO support in Syria, Turkey is now left with the Hobson’s choice of retreating or doubling down. Neither will end well for Turkey, and both will only further exacerbate that humanitarian disaster taking place in Idlib today.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment