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The Destruction of Libya in 2011

Tales of the American Empire | May 28, 2020

The American empire wanted to oust Muammar Gaddafi for decades. He remained in power as he carefully balanced interests in Libya’s complex tribal society and kept the military under control. Gaddafi was popular since he invested Libya’s oil wealth improving the lives of Libyans rather than in Western banks. Before its 2011 destruction, Libyans were the wealthiest in all of Africa. President Obama chose to destroy Libya despite meeting with Gaddafi after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. His Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the strongest advocate for this war crime. When later asked about Gaddafi’s death, she laughed and exclaimed: “We came, we saw, he died.”


“General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned – Seven Countries in Five Years”; Democracy Now; March 2007;…

“Goldman Sachs Lost 98% of Libya’s $1.3B Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment”; Agustino Fontevecchia; Forbes ; May 31, 2011;…

“Hillary Emails Reveal True Motive for Libyan Intervention”; Brad Hoff; Foreign Policy Journal ; Jan 6, 2016;…

“French President Emmanuel Macron says destroying Libya was a mistake”; CGTN Africa; 2017;…

“The Obama Administration Destroyed Libya”; Ted Carpenter; The National Interest ; Sept 16, 2019;…

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Annexing the Aquifers: Israel and the Water Crisis in Occupied Palestine

By Fareed Taamallah | Palestine Chronicle | May 28, 2020

Last week, the Palestinian Water Authority blasted Israel for significantly reducing the amount of water allotted to the West Bank. “We are facing this crisis as we enter the summer season, a time of the year when people are usually in need of more, not less water,” PWA leader Mazen Ghneim was quoted as saying.

In my neighborhood in Ramallah, every year during the summer months, we hardly have water in the pipes. Water runs only one day a week. So, all the households must follow the water distribution schedule to plan their house activities such as doing the laundry and house cleaning. Some Palestinian communities in the West Bank are linked to “joint” water networks that serve illegal Israeli settlers. During the dry summer months, water valves leading to the adjacent Palestinian communities are routinely shut off by Israeli authorities, so that the settlers do not suffer water shortages.

The water shortage in the Palestinian territories is not a nature-related water crisis, but rather a result of the Israeli occupation which exploits over 85% of the water resources.

Facts and Figures

Israel controls the main three trans-boundaries aquifers in the occupied Palestinian territories. The first and the biggest one is the West Bank (mountains) aquifer which is fed by rainfall and generates 679 mcm of water per year. The second is the Jordan river which provides Israel with an estimated 450 mcm per year. Palestinians are denied access and supply of its water. The third is the coastal aquifer which generates 450 mcm of water for Israel and 55 mcm for Gaza.

Palestine has a good precipitation rate. Ramallah, for instance, has an annual rainfall average of 615 millimeters which is almost as much as London at 620 mm.

According to the Palestinian water authority report of 2012, around 784 mcm of rainfall is estimated to have recharged the groundwater systems in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, Palestinians are allocated only 375 mcm of that groundwater, while Israel consumes 2,346 mcm annually.

The Oslo Agreement

The water problem started from the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestine but was exacerbated with the Oslo II interim agreement between the PLO and the Israeli government in 1995. The Oslo Agreement stipulated “the equitable utilization of joint water resources for implementation in and beyond the interim period.” But in reality, this has never happened.

The agreement which was supposed to be an interim period of five years bounded the development of Palestinian water resources and was framed on the assumption that Palestinian water needs were 70–80 mcm per year and that the interim water development must be managed through a Palestinian-Israeli mechanism. The topics of ‘common interest’ (water being one) would be further delineated under the permanent status negotiations.

The failure to reach a permanent agreement has meant the inequitable distribution of the West Bank groundwater resources with 15% allocated to the Palestinians and 85% to Israel.

As indicated in the Oslo Agreement, a Joint Water Committee (JWC) was established to oversee all water and wastewater related projects in the West Bank. JWC is made up of an equal number of representatives of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, respectively, and decisions are made by consensus. This gave Israel a veto power over all Palestinian water resource projects and blocked any request by the Palestinians to drill a new well. Wells built or rehabilitated without Israeli-issued permits are systematically destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces.

Water Apartheid

While the Palestinian communities are facing drought and water shortages, the Israeli settlements – located in the same geographical area – are enjoying an abundance of water supplies, allowing settlers to fill their swimming pools and irrigate their gardens and fields. The lack of access to adequate quantities of water necessary for livestock herding and food production leaves Bedouins, livestock owners and farmers particularly vulnerable.

Israeli agricultural settlements in the West Bank, particularly those in the Jordan Valley, enjoy up to 6 times the amount of water of the nearby Palestinian communities. In the Palestinian town of Tubas, the consumption rate is 30 liters per person per day. However, residents of the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Beda’ot, consume around 401 liters per day, according to B’Tselem.

While the Palestinian population has doubled, water availability has decreased. According to the World Bank report of 2018 “With the West Bank and Gaza population of approximately 4.8 million growing at an average annual rate of 2.8 percent, the domestic supply gap is projected to be about 152 and 135 million cubic meters respectively”.

Israeli hydro-hegemony has left Palestinians with a deficit water budget. They have been forced to purchase from Israel around a quarter of domestic water supplies to make up for this deficit.

According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, the daily per capita water consumption rate is around 88 liters. By comparison, the daily per capita water consumption in Israel is 257 liters. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 100 liters of water per capita per day as a minimum. Palestinian consumption is less than the minimum.

In the Gaza Strip, the water situation is even worse. The severe lack of water caused by the Israeli brutal blockade since 2007, has led to a heavy reliance on the underlying portion of the Coastal aquifer as Gaza’s only water supply.

The 2 million inhabitants extracted about 180 mcm in 2017, but this quantity is obtained via unsafe pumping that jeopardizes the sustainability of the source, while the total recharge is only one-third of extraction. The direct consequences of over pumping are seawater intrusion and uplift of the deep brine water; as a result, 97% of the water is undrinkable and does not match WHO quality standards of accepted guidelines for potable water resources.

Annexation Plan

Israel is controlling the two main Palestinian water resources in the West Bank (the Jordan River basin in the east and the western mountain aquifer) which supply Israel with about 900 million cubic meters of water annually.

Through the annexation of the West Bank areas expected this summer, Israel aims to keep the West Bank aquifers behind the new Israeli borders by retaining control of the settlement blocks adjacent to the basins, in particular, the Jordan Valley and the Salfit area where my hometown of Qira is located.

That annexation will perpetuate the high Israeli water-consumption levels while denying basic Palestinian needs and force Palestinians to depend on Israel for water, thus preserving the status quo of a dramatic unjust division of water resources, dimming any hope for a viable Palestinian state and peace in the region.

– Fareed Taamallah is a Palestinian journalist, a farmer, and a political activist based in Ramallah.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 5 Comments

AFRICOM’s gambit: Why a US military command is waging a ‘media war’ on Americans

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | May 28, 2020

A regional US military command tasked with hunting down terrorists across Africa seems to be far more interested in waging psychological operations targeting the American public, the Pentagon and the White House. How curious.

Most countries in the world divide their own territory in military areas of responsibility. Not so the US, whose combatant commands span the entire globe – and beyond. One of these, the Africa Command (AFRICOM) is responsible for the entire African continent – with the exception of Egypt, which somehow ended up in the realm of the neighboring Central Command (CENTCOM).

AFRICOM is one of the US combatant commands that span the entire planet, as well as space now ©  Wikipedia

Tasked with going after terrorist groups like Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), AFRICOM has recently focused its efforts on using friendly journalists, media leak and bombastic social media statements to bypass its military and civilian superiors and lobby in Washington for more power, influence and money.

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action,” goes a quote attributed to James Bond author Ian Fleming. So it was definitely noticeable when AFRICOM made a third bid to attract attention in under a month.

On Wednesday, the left-progressive magazine Nation published an exclusive story based on an AFRICOM document showing that the command was worried about President Donald Trump freezing US funding for the World Health Organization and how China might exploit that for expanding its influence in Africa. Journalist Ken Klippenstein says the document, dated April 23, was leaked to him.

The leak came only a day after AFRICOM posted a series of tweets accusing Russia of sending fighter jets to Libya. One of them quoted its commander, General Charles Townsend, saying that they “watched as Russia flew fourth generation jet fighters to Libya – every step of the way.”

Except no proof of this was actually offered, and AFRICOM’s statement qualified the claim with weasel-words such as “assessed” and “likely.” Russian officials have dismissed the claim as ridiculous, especially the part about supposedly camouflaging the fighters’ origins by giving them a fresh paint job in Syria.

AFRICOM has been very sore about Moscow’s alleged military presence in Libya – where its own troops withdrew from in March 2019, per Trump’s orders – claiming that Russia is “destabilizing” Libya and making worse the “migration crisis affecting Europe.” In Tuesday’s statement, it accused Russia of not being “interested in what is best for the Libyan people” but “working to achieve their own strategic goals instead.”

That’s a bit rich, considering that it was the US and its NATO allies that carried out the 2011 regime-change intervention, turning Libya from the most prosperous country in Africa into a hellhole infested with warlords, terrorists and slavers ever since.

While leaking to The Nation appealed to the American left, AFRICOM has previously reached out to the right as well. Back in April, the command used a friendly reporter at the conservative Washington Examiner to claim that the (alleged) Russian presence in Libya is “more dangerous than ISIS,” which actually operated in Libya at one point in time.

“We believe that there will be a need in the future, an opportunity for us to get back into Libya again,” the unnamed official was actually quoted as saying at one point, giving away the endgame.

Between bombastic tweets, anonymous insinuations to friendly conservative reporters and leaks to liberal ones, the picture that emerges is of AFRICOM waging a psychological operation (psyop), a propaganda war on the US public bypassing the Joint Chiefs, the Pentagon and even the commander in chief himself to lobby for a bigger piece of the military pie.

This may seem far-fetched, but it isn’t strictly speaking without precedent. Some might remember General Phillip ‘Bwana’ Breedlove, who headed the European Command until May 2016. Emails from his personal account – published in July 2016, following his retirement from the US military – revealed months of effort to lobby the Pentagon and the White House to give EUCOM more attention, including spinning tall tales about a “Russian invasion” of Ukraine. The emails also revealed how Washington-based lobbyists identified the right way of approaching certain officials and the best channels for influencing the Obama administration when it came to Ukraine – notably, Vice President Joe Biden.

At one point, Breedlove even accused Moscow of “weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve” – just as AFRICOM is doing now.

All of which raises the question: when did combatant commands – an organization system invented during WWII to streamline command, control and communication between various branches of the military – morph into de facto feudal fiefdoms, with their commanders as barons more focused on currying favor in Washington than doing their actual job in the field?

In AFRICOM’s case, that job literally involves hunting down terrorists – or helping locals do so themselves, since the command is headquartered in Germany and has only a few actual bases in Africa. Not that any of that is going well at all. So AFRICOM shifted its focus on the home front instead.

One possible explanation may be money. Back in February, a rumor began spreading around Washington that the Trump administration was considering “zeroing out” AFRICOM’s budget. Both the rumor itself and the reported reactions to it have been hotly denied, but that might just help shed some light on Townsend’s gambit. As with any bureaucracy, survival is the highest priority.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Pro-Israel PAC Funds Go to Democrats To Keep Them in Line

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June/July 2020, p. 32

Election Watch

By Delinda C. Hanley and Dale Sprusansky – Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

It’s ironic that despite the Trump administration showering gifts on Israel (moving the embassy to Jerusalem, accepting the annexation of the Golan Heights and giving a green light to annexing even more of the West Bank), the pro-Israel Political Action Committees (PACs) gave most of their cash to Democrats. And we don’t even count Super PACs, which can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups without any legal limit on donation size. For those pay a visit to

Even with so many Israeli dreams coming true under a Republican president, the lobby remained staunch Democratic contributors.

As presidential candidate Bernie Sanders surged ahead in the polls, a pro-Israel super PAC called Democratic Majority for Israel, went after him, airing TV attack ads on the man who would have been the first Jewish president. His crime? Sanders called Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a “reactionary racist” and blasted the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for providing a platform “for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.”

Sanders also said, if elected president, he would leverage the $3.8 in U.S. military aid to push Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians. Enough said. [Editor’s note: A bill to require American taxpayers to give Israel at least that much every year for the next 10 years is poised to be passed right now, unless enough people object.]

But other candidates won their fights with the pro-Israel lobby. Despite receiving more money from pro-Israel PACs than any other candidate running for a House seat this election cycle, Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) lost his March primary to a challenger from the left, entrepreneur Marie Newman.

Better known for being the last pro-life Democrat to hold federal office than his support for Israel, Lipinski was nevertheless a dependable pro-Israel vote. In 2014, Lipinski co-sponsored the Protect Academic Freedom Act, which would have denied federal funding to academic institutions supporting a boycott of Israel.

Newman, endorsed by the liberal Zionist group, J Street, issued a lengthy 12-point explainer in 2019, describing her rather mainstream views on Israel/Palestine. She expressed her support for U.S. aid to Israel, a two-state solution, and the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Notably, she did vow to oppose anti-boycott laws that threaten the rights of Americans to boycott Israel.

Lipinski had held his reliably Democratic northern Illinois seat since 2005. He lost the primary to Newman by less than 3,000 votes. Every vote counts, but not every dollar guarantees a win.

Dale Sprusansky is managing editor and Delinda Hanley is executive editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

‘Muzzling Freedom of Expression’: Facebook Slammed for Appointing Israeli Censor to Oversight Board

Sputnik – May 28, 2020

On 6 May Facebook revealed the first 20 members of its Oversight Board, an independent body entrusted with the final say over certain content moderation decisions for the world’s largest social media platform, the creation of which was announced in November 2018, to avoid accusations of bias over removing content deemed problematic

Facebook has been taking flack for hiring the former director-general of Israel’s justice ministry as a member of its new Oversight Board, which will be able to overturn the company’s own content moderation decisions.

Under Emi Palmor, who headed the justice ministry from 2014 until she was dismissed from her post last year, the Israeli ministry “petitioned Facebook to censor legitimate speech of human rights defenders and journalists because it was deemed politically undesirable,” insisted Palestinian civil society groups in May, writes The Electronic Intifada, an online Chicago-based publication covering the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

The groups slammed Facebook’s choice of Palmor to the international panel that will take content moderation decisions for the world’s largest social media platform.

Palmor, they warn, could potentially “muzzle freedom of expression” on the platform, censoring human rights defenders, particularly Palestinian, Arab and Muslim.

The Palestine Digital Rights Coalition, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council and the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network have been quoted as urging Facebook to “consider the grave consequences that electing Emi Palmor may have particularly on Palestinian human rights defenders and on freedom of expression online in defense of Palestinian rights.”

Palmor was employed as a top civil servant during the term in office of Ayelet Shaked as Minister of Justice.

Under Palmor’s oversight, say the groups, the ministry established a cyber unit whose efforts resulted in the removal of tens of thousands of Palestinian posts from social media platforms, with Adalah, a group advocating for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, calling into question the legality of the unit’s practices.

According to Adalah, with “no transparency or legal procedure whatsoever”, the unit directs requests to the Israeli state attorney, demanding that “Facebook and Google remove, restrict or suspend access to certain content, pages or users.”

Adalah claims the procedure leaves users no possibility to defend themselves against allegations that their posts were “illegal or warranted removal.”

The Oversight Board

On 6 May Facebook revealed the names of the first 20 members of its international Oversight Board, an independent body that will be tasked with specific content moderation decisions.

The board will govern appeals regarding content takedowns from Facebook and Instagram users, receiving cases through a content management system linked to Facebook’s own platforms.

The members – a diverse group containing lawyers, journalists, human rights advocates and other academics with expertise in digital rights, religious freedom, content moderation, internet censorship and civil rights – will discuss the case as a group before issuing a final say regarding whether the content should be allowed to stay up or not.

“We are all committed to freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights,” the four co-chairs of the board – Catalina Botero-Marino, Jamal Greene, Michael W McConnell and Helle Thorning-Schmidt – wrote in a New York Times op-ed introducing themselves to the public on 6 May. “We will make decisions based on those principles and on the effects on Facebook users and society, without regard to the economic, political or reputational interests of the company.”

In November 2018, in the wake of a New York Times report that slammed Facebook for social media misuses, the company announced the establishment of an independent panel.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark and one of the board’s four co-chairs, was quoted by CNBC as saying:

“Up until now some of the most difficult decisions about content have been made by Facebook and you could say Mark Zuckerberg… Facebook has decided to change that.”

Set to eventually comprise around 40 members, the board will begin hearing cases in the coming months.

Amid a slew of charges of bias and politically censoring content, the move is seen by many as potentially able to help Facebook avoid the accusations which it emphatically rejects.

Last December, Facebook pledged the board $130 million in funding, with the money set to cover operational costs for at least six years.

In January, however, Facebook outlined the extent to which it remained in control, in a 46-page document.

Facebook outlined the powers and limitations of the board, stating that the board’s decisions do not necessarily set precedents that the company would be called upon to adhere to in the future, and the board is limited when it comes to content it can address.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 2 Comments

Netanyahu on Annexation Plan: Palestinians Will Offer Concession, Not ‘Israel’

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference at the Prime Ministers office in Jerusalem on March 12, 2020. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Al-Manar | May 28, 2020

Benjamin Netanyahu says the Palestinians are the side who will offer concession as the Israeli PM eyes implementing the annexation plan of West Bank and Jordan Valley.

“Only if the Palestinians agree that Israel has security and control throughout the territory, they will receive their own entity that (US President Donald) Trump defines as a state,” Netanyahu told Israel Hayom in an interview.

“We are not urged to offer concessions, but the Palestinians are those who will do so,” the Israeli PM added.

Meanwhile, he said that “attempts to set free Israelis held in Gaza are underway,” but noted that he “will not release Palestinian prisoners who “have blood on their hands.”

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran Can Supply Itself With Nuclear Fuel Without Russia’s Help – Atomic Energy Body

Sputnik – 28.05.2020

TEHRAN – Iran is capable of supplying itself with nuclear fuel even without Russia’s assistance, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) spokesman, Behruz Kamalvandi, said on Thursday.

“Fuel is delivered from Russia each time we need it, without any problems. If we run out of fuel, we will be capable of producing it, without resting on any other country,” Kamalvandi told the ISNA news agency.

His comment came soon after the United States announced ending sanction waivers covering Iran’s nuclear projects.

In late April, Russia delivered a fresh batch of nuclear fuel to Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, necessary for efficient functioning of the reactor.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Wait, Twitter, it’s a trap! Social media platform pressured to ‘fact check’ Chinese spokesman after doing so with Trump

RT | May 28, 2020

Twitter seems to be falling further into the trap of de facto becoming a publisher. After ‘fact checking’ President Donald Trump’s tweets, it was pressured to do the same with a Chinese spokesman.

The decision of Twitter to mark some of Donald Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots with notices implying they contained misinformation, may have been welcomed by the many critics of the US president, but some say the move was short-sighted. After all, how does Trump differ from any other public figure whose tweets may need to be ‘corrected’ with a ‘fact check’?

Apparently, in at least one case, Twitter couldn’t come up with a good answer, and instead chose to issue more notices. It dug up some March tweets by Lijian Zhao, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who infamously accused the US military of possibly starting the Covid-19 epidemic by bringing the coronavirus into his country.

Twitter has been labeling what it believes to be Covid-19 misinformation on its platform since mid-May, but those particular notices were issued on purpose. At least that’s what the New York Post believes, saying it was done after they confronted Twitter about its apparent double standards in targeting Trump and not the Chinese official.

Quite a few commentators pointed out that Twitter is putting itself in a vulnerable position by getting involved in what is essentially a political quarrel – regardless of whether Trump delivers on his threat to “regulate or shut down” social media in retaliation.

Twitter’s move against Trump’s tweet is probably horrifying to fellow social media giant Facebook, whose CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, responded to it by reiterating in an interview with Fox News his long-held position that private companies shouldn’t be “the arbiter of truth.”

His counterpart at Twitter, Jack Dorsey, insists that his company is not taking on that role. “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves,” he tweeted.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

‘NATO roulette’: Norwegian port to host nuclear-powered US subs despite local objections

RT | May 28, 2020

A municipal port in Norway is set to receive nuclear-powered submarines from NATO after the only naval base in the area was sold and decommissioned – but local politicians and environmental activists aren’t on board with the plan.

When the Olavsvern base in Tromso was sold to private investors in 2009, pressure mounted from NATO to find an alternative point of arrival for reactor-driven vessels, other than Haakonsvern in Bergen, which is currently the only approved port in the country.

Now it appears a “temporary solution” to the problem has been found at Grotsund in Tromso, where the country’s Armed Forces have been told to prepare for the arrival of US submarines, Klassekampen reported.

Military spokesman Brynjar Stordal told the newspaper that the forces had been given “political instructions” to prepare for the reception and that they are working in collaboration with the municipality. “We don’t meddle with the politics,” Stordal told the newspaper.

Local politician and chairman of the board of Tromso Harbor company Jarle Heitmann said having the submarines dock there is “not a good solution” and that people would “rather not see the port used for this purpose.”

Tromso has been strong-armed into accepting the nuclear subs, believes Frode Pleym, leader of Greenpeace Norway.

“Allowing nuclear-powered submarines in Norwegian ports and waters is playing Russian roulette with people and nature. Or more appropriately in this case, NATO roulette,” he told the NRK channel.

“This is about the fact that the government and parliament do not dare to say no to the US,” he added. Pleym stressed that Tromso has appealed for Norway to sign onto the UN nuclear ban and is against hosting both nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered vessels.

Moscow was also less than enthused by the decision to allow NATO submarines to stop at Grotsund when the plan was first announced last year, with Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying that the move was “contrary to the historical traditions of neighborly relations and cooperation in the Arctic” and accusing Oslo of continuing to “escalate tension and increase the risk of military action.”

Unfortunately for locals who are against the plan, the Tromso municipality is bound by the Port Act, which means it has a duty to receive all types of war vessels.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Secret Nuclear Sites of DPRK? Or is Everything Visible from Above?

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 28.05.2020

Since 2018, North Korea has continued to adhere to its moratorium on nuclear, and medium- and long-range missile tests. This has created an impression that DPRK’s missile and nuclear weapons program has been put on hold. Still, analysts have been asking whether this is actually the case and the answer tends to depend on their political bias.  Naturally, those who have come to perceive Pyongyang as an Evil Empire believe that North Korea has not stopped working on such projects and is continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction. Within US expert circles, aside from holding such opinions, analysts linked with the Democratic party typically seek ways to show how politically incompetent Donald Trump is. In fact, any of their statements about successes made on the North Korean front actually imply that Donald Trump is being deceived but does not realize this.

Such ideological blinders further restrict the limited capabilities of these “Pyongyang experts”. Analyzing satellite images is essentially the only means they use to learn what is happening in the DPRK. But it is impossible to see everything from up above. Therefore, analysts end up basing their assumptions on a politicized interpretation of information, i.e. if a building can theoretically house a missile, it must be meant for that very purpose.

This, in turn, generates sensational stories about yet another secret site linked to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program being located. Such reports are often published by Beyond Parallel, an analytic vehicle funded by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) or 38 North, currently a project of the Henry L. Stimson Center (formerly a program of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies).

On August 28, 2019, Beyond Parallel wrote that their latest satellite images provided “circumstantial evidence of the construction of a new ballistic missile submarine and preliminary evidence of possible preparations for a test” in the DPRK. Photographs of Sinpo South Shipyard showed “support vessels and a crane” suggesting “possible preparations, based on past practice, to tow the missile test stand barge out to sea for an SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) test flight”. And although the authors of the article stated that there was “no conclusive evidence” that the preparation was nearing completion, media outlets reported that as an evidential fact.

On September 5, 2019, experts of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea submitted a report stating that the Uranium enrichment facility and the Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) continued their operations at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

On September 18, 2019, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon was shut down for a sufficient period of time to be “de-fueled and subsequently re-fueled” in its report. The document also stated that there had been “signs of use at the centrifuge enrichment facility” there although “no indications of reprocessing activities” had been detected at the radiochemical lab in the plant.

In December 2019, the 38 North website reported that Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) had “observed activity at the Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR)” in Yongbyon indicating that it might be operational. According to the article, the “construction of the ELWR began in late 2010”, and although it appeared to be externally complete in early 2013, the North Korean government “has not spoken publicly about the reactor or its status” since November 2011.

Commercial satellite images made early in 2019 showed “a narrow but steady liquid effluent likely trailing from a pipeline stemming from the Turbine-Generator Building of the ELWR”. The report said that since 2017, photographs have shown “frequent movement of vehicles, cranes and equipment around the reactor’s entrance, the emplacement of a transmission tower and electrical transmission lines in 2017”. And in early 2018, the construction of a dam and spillway were observed. The authors of the article concluded that such activity indicated that the reactor was being prepared “for start-up operation”, and this “could have significant implications for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and would complicate any denuclearization process”. According to the report, “the stated purpose for the ELWR is electricity generation”, but “the reactor could be operated to produce weapons-grade plutonium or tritium for boosted fission or hydrogen bombs”.

On January 30, 2019, South Korea’s leading conservative newspaper the Chosun Ilbo wrote that the DPRK had supposedly “built a large tunnel in Ryanggang Province near the border with China” that appeared “to be an underground missile base”. The conclusion was based on observations of the facility and imagery showing that the tunnel had only one entrance with “two cylindrical objects measuring around 10 m in length” near it, which appeared “to be missile-launching tubes”.

In March 2020, 38 North wrote about “a previously publicly unidentified underground facility (UGF) beneath a hill in Bungang” near the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. The article provided a lot of details, based on satellite imagery, about its construction that had started in 2004. And, most importantly, the author made the following conclusion: “Underground structures in residential areas are not unusual and may be used for storage, civil defense or other innocuous purposes. While there is no evidence that it is related to the North Korean nuclear program, the site’s proximity may raise suspicions. Moreover, there is reason to believe there may be other underground sites in the area that may also provoke the same concerns. Therefore, any future denuclearization agreements covering the Yongbyon nuclear facility may need to take this site and any others discovered nearby into consideration when formulating verification provisions.” The report also mentioned that “no electrical lines feeding into” the UGF were observed, and “no external ventilation systems” were visible.

On March 27, 2020, the 38 North website issued a warning that “a new North Korean version of the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), test-fired” in March, could be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

On April 8, citing 38 North, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the DPRK had “recently conducted a dummy missile ejection test at its Sinpo shipyard”. According to the article, satellite imagery from April 5 showed that “the service tower on the ejection test pad pulled back from its static position”. In addition, the photographs also depicted a “glimpse of the bow of the SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine”, however, “it was mostly obscured by the environmental awning”.

Another report published by Beyond Parallel on May 5, 2020 caused quite a stir. It said that a new facility was nearing completion in the village of Sil-li (not far from Pyongyang International Airport), and that it was “almost certainly related to North Korea’s expanding ballistic missile program”. According to the article, it “could be complete and ready for operations sometime during late-2020 or early-2021”.

The author of the story, Joseph Bermudez, based his conclusions on the following information:

  • “A high-bay building within the facility is large enough to accommodate an elevated Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile and, therefore, the entirety of North Korea’s known ballistic missile variants.” The building bay doors up to 8 m in height also indicate this.
  • The facility has been constructed next to a UGL “whose likely size is also large enough to easily accommodate all known North Korean ballistic missiles and their associated launchers and support vehicles”.
  • An “unusually large covered rail terminal” and a “new rail spur line” are probably meant “to support ballistic missile operations” at the facility. All the structures there are connected by “a 9- to 10-meter-wide surfaced road network with wide radius turns suitable for the movement of large trucks and ballistic missile launchers”.
  • The facility is “relatively close to ballistic missile component manufacturing plants in the Pyongyang area” (for example, Tae-sung Machine Factory, Mangyongdae Light Electric Factory) and can, therefore, be used for “the assembly of ballistic missiles from components delivered by rail”
  • “There are at least 17 air defense artillery bases and numerous military and paramilitary barracks within a 5-kilometer radius of the facility”.

Citing Joseph Bermudez’s article, ROK’s Yonhap News Agency elaborated that the Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility, nearing completion, could be used to test-fire intercontinental ballistic missiles. And on May 9, it was reported that “multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)” were “newly manufactured in Sain-ri, Pyongsong in North Korea”.

However, a Principal Researcher at Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and the former Director General of Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Control (KINAC), Hwang Yong-soo was very critical of Joseph Bermudez’s conclusions comparing them to baseless rumors about the North Korean leader’s health.

Hwang Yong-soo pointed out that Bermudez leapt from “hypothesis to inferred conclusion” in his Beyond Parallel report, which was based solely on “interpreted open source satellite imagery”. He was also skeptical that “North Korea’s leaders would construct their most critical missile facility adjacent to Sunan Airport” (DPRK’s national airport). In addition, “transport of large missiles and components to and from Sil-li would be apparent via national technical means to the United States and its allies”.  Hwang Yong-soo also suggested that alternative explanations for large buildings being constructed “next to an airport seem entirely logical as the purpose attributed to these buildings by CSIS”.

It is no secret that North Korea often builds underground facilities to prepare for a possible military conflict during which Pyongyang’s enemies would dominate in the skies. Hence, many of DPRK’s manufacturing and strategic complexes are located underground, but this does not mean that all of them are linked to the missile and nuclear weapons program.

Still, North Korea has surprised the rest of the world on occasion, thus western analysts tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to the DPRK. After all, underestimating one’s enemies is far more dangerous than overestimating them. Nonetheless, it is worth treating reasonable concerns in a different manner to attempts to produce cheaply sensational reports based on biased interpretations or data that is low on quality and quantity.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History is a Leading Research Fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Saudi-led coalition conducts 47 new airstrikes on Yemen

Children listen to their teacher in a destroyed classroom at a school which was heavily damaged in a Saudi-led airstrike, in Ta’izz, Yemen, on September 3, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
Press TV – May 28, 2020

Warplanes from the Saudi-led military coalition waging war on Yemen have carried out 47 airstrikes on different parts in the country, further destroying the impoverished country’s infrastructure.

Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah TV cited an unnamed Yemeni military source as saying on Wednesday that the Saudi-led fighter jets had pounded localities in Yemen’s Ma’rib, Jawf, Sa’ada, and Hajjah provinces during the previous hours.

Majzar and Midghal districts in the central province of Ma’rib were struck 19 times, and Khasf Village in the Hazm district in the northern province of Jawf were pounded five times, the source said.

The airstrikes inflicted heavy damage on infrastructure in those localities.

According to the report, the Saudi-led coalition also violated a ceasefire in the western province of Hudaydah 67 times during the previous hours, killing at least one civilian.

Supported militarily by the US, the UK, and other Western countries, Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 to subdue a popular uprising that had overthrown a regime friendly to Riyadh.

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

More than half of Yemen’s hospitals and clinics have been destroyed or closed during the war by the Saudi-led coalition at a time when Yemenis are in desperate need of medical supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 80 percent of the 28-million-strong population is also reliant on aid to survive in what the United Nations (UN) has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Has coronavirus pandemic really destroyed globalization?

By Paul Antonopoulos | May 28, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has not only created contradictory information on the best ways to deal with it, on whether there are cures and vaccinations, or whether there will be a second wave, but they are also contradictory on how the world will look after we overcome the pandemic. Two supranational ideological tendencies have emerged – those who support globalization and think it will continue to function as if the pandemic never occurred, and those who think it is inevitable that coronavirus has sped up the inevitable end of a U.S.-led globalized world.

It was only on Monday that European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes.” Although the EU supports a globalized world, it predicts that with the end of the coronavirus, the power centers of the world will shift from the West to the East.

The new head of the World Bank, Carmen Rainhart, had a slightly differing position to Borrel and told Bloomberg in an interview that: “Without being melodramatic, Covid-19 is like the last nail in the coffin of globalization. The 2008-2009 crisis gave globalization a big hit, as did Brexit, as did the U.S.-China trade war, but Covid is taking it to a new level.”

Every economist, think-tank and journalist are coming to their own conclusions, usually not based on facts and data, but rather based on their own political-economic ideology of how they believe the world should be, and not how it actually is. The governments of each country, whether they are major powers or small states, must decide what to prepare for and what future they want in the post-coronavirus world. The colossal differences between globalist and anti-globalist rhetoric are evident and emerging.

The World Economic Forum is one such example and has aggressively defended the U.S.-led globalized order. Only days ago went with the headline “Coronavirus won’t spell the end for globalization – but change is unavoidable,” where they argued “Nobody can predict the next crisis. But the most reliable and efficient insurance by far is to build a strong international cooperation network.”

Supporters of globalization argue that blocking people at borders can deprive society of talented and needed workers and that there is a better chance of responding to the challenges and threats of globalization if with collective action we can address the risk of disease and climate change, cyber-attacks, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and other problems.

In another article by the World Economic Forum from earlier this year before the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, they argued that “Discontent with globalization is a key factor behind the temptation to advance policy goals through unilateral actions rather than by working together.” The article continues their argument by saying that “although improving international cooperation is an urgent task, it is equally important to acknowledge that there are always trade-offs between qualities such as national sovereignty, democratic legitimacy, effectiveness and speed of decision-making.”

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that in times of crisis, even the most ardent backers of globalization, like the U.S. and the EU, contract to protect their own interests first. Although the EU now regrets this course of action and is attempting to amend it, it has only confirmed in the minds of potential new EU members that multilateralism is a mythology that only serves the interests of powerful states who are not willing to reciprocate the trust in times of crisis.

So American unilateralism, that is, the use of maximum geopolitical egocentrism, as well as economic and military violence against countries that do not want to submit to Washington’s demands in any way, is part of today’s global reconfiguration. However, deglobalization will be a difficult task as countries will have to reindustrialize and reconfigure their economies and work forces.

Interestingly, even within the ranks of globalists, there are those who are arguing the end of globalization is near. This was especially galvanized after a Foreign Policy column argued on March 9 that “Globalization is headed to the ICU,” while The Economist’s May 14 issue asked whether COVID-19 had killed globalizationTime magazine hit back arguing that “Globalization is here to stay. It’s a horse that left the barn 30 years ago, when the Soviet Union fell.”

However, this is an admission from Time magazine that it does not believe that a multipolar world is emerging in the aftermath of the failed U.S.-led unipolar system that came into existence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This is devoid of all reality as China continues to expand its economic and transportation network across the world and major regional powers have appeared around the world, such as Russia, who can defend their interests in their own neighbourhood. There is little doubt that the U.S. was on a global hegemonic decline before the emergence of the coronavirus, but the pandemic has only accelerated this inevitability, and no amount of debate by think tanks and media publications can change this fact.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment