Aletho News


INTERVIEW: Dr Marandi on Beirut Blast Aftermath & Lebanon’s Future

21stCenturyWireTV | August 11, 2020

SUNDAY WIRE show, host Patrick Henningsen is joined by global affairs analyst Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, to discuss the recent developments in Beirut, Lebanon in the aftermath of the tragic explosion which destroyed the city’s port area and resulted in many dead and injured, as well as 300,000 made homeless due to ancillary damages.

Dr Marandi explains some of the legacy issues in Lebanese politics, as well as the true aims of US and its allies in the region, the geopolitical motivation behind punishing economic sanctions by Washington, and how these policies actually prevent delivery of regional aid, cooperation and prosperity among neighboring states. Listen:

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking back on the Maidan events and its consequences

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog | August 12, 2020

Victor Yanukovich was elected President of the Ukraine in 2010 narrowly defeating Yulia Timoshenko with 49% of votes cast to Timoshenko’s 45%. The Ukrainian Presidential term of office lasts for five years. Yanukovich’s Party, the Party of the Regions, together with its coalition partner the Communist Party of the Ukraine, also had a majority in the Ukrainian Parliament, with Mykola Azarov as Prime Minister. The membership of the EU was perhaps one of the more salient issues of the time and was the trigger for the ensuing upheavals.

Negotiations for Ukraine’s initial stage of eventual membership of the EU – the so-called Association Agreement – had been dragging on since 2011, but both Yanukovich and Azarov were favourably disposed to an eventual positive outcome, although the Communist part of the coalition were not.

This did not go down at all well in Moscow and Azarov attempted to assuage Russian misgivings by urging Russia ‘’to accept the reality of Ukraine signing the EU agreement’’. The commitment of Yanukovich was eventually tested to destruction since he was being pulled in two directions, by Russia on the one hand and by the EU on the other. For their part, the Russians offered the Ukraine a $15 billion loan, a discount on gas prices, and membership of the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. But the EU was having none of it. President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso stated that the EU will not tolerate ‘a veto of a third country’ (Russia) in their negotiations on closer integration with Ukraine. This being the case Yanukovich was forced into a choice which would be certain to alienate and anger one of the powerful interested parties on its borders.

Negotiations continued on into 2013. Yanukovich was invited to sign the Association Agreement, but there were a number of conditions. The most significant of these were those concerning an IMF loan. But anything involving the IMF should have set the alarm bells ringing with regard to the intentions of western institutions vis-à-vis the future of the Ukraine. The conditionality clauses were very much in the tradition of the IMF. Their ‘Structural Adjustment Programmes’ had always been the scourge of the developing world and this offer pact was enough to scupper the EU deal. Prime Minister Azarov at the time stating that ‘’the issue which blocked the signature of the EU deal were the conditions proposed by the IMF loan being negotiated at the same time as the budget cuts and 40% increase in gas prices’’. This for a country already verging on bankruptcy. In store for the Ukraine was the usual neoliberal austerity package. Compliments of the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) this would involve the following set of prescriptions:

1. Balance of payments deficit reductions through currency devaluation = SAP

2. Budget deficit reduction through higher taxes and lower government spending, aka austerity = SAP

3. Restructuring foreign debts

4. Monetary policy to finance government deficits (loans from central bank – with strings) = SAP

5. Raising food prices to cut the burden of subsidies = SAP

6. Raising the price of public services = SAP

7. Cutting wages = SAP

8. Reducing domestic credit = SAP

9. ‘Reforming’ pensions = SAP. Marvelous word ‘Reforming’

10. Deregulation of labour market. = SAP aka smashing labour unions

Longer-term ‘structural adjustment’ policies usually include:

1. Liberalization of markets to guarantee a price mechanism = SAP

2. Privatization, or divestiture, of all or part of state-owned enterprises = SAP

3. Creating new financial institutions. Hedge Funds, Shadow Banks, Private Equity = SAP

4. Improving governance and fighting corruption – ?

5. Enhancing the rights of foreign investors vis-à-vis national laws = SAP

6. Focusing economic output on direct export and resource extraction = SAP. That is to say, the creation of a peripheral economy a raw material exporter.

7. Increasing the stability of investment (by supplementing foreign direct investment with the opening of domestic stock markets). Financialization of the host economy = SAP

Just what the doctor ordered, no! These policies have been tried everywhere and have failed abysmally. Little wonder Yanukovich took the Russian offer instead.

However, what seemed like a straightforward business decision was greeted with howls of anguish and gnashing of teeth as the Europhiles in Independence Square felt that their future had been taken from them. This was indeed to happen in due course (see below) but this was the outcome of accepting rather than rejecting the IMF package.


Immediately these facts became known the mass protest in Kiev took place and was on the world’s TV screens, with demonstrators waiving Ukrainian and EU flags. (Where they got these EU flags is a mystery to this day.) This seemed to be a mass popular protest and the demonstrators were to set up camps in Independence Square. But the carnival atmosphere was not to last. Ultra-nationalist groups (inveterate fascists) in the shape of Right Sector and Svoboda (1) began to emerge from the shadows and appear among the genuine moderate majority and joined in pitched battles with the Berkut (riot Police) on a daily basis which the opposition forces finally won. This was, according to the Guardian ‘newspaper’ a victory for democracy and peoples’ power. Well it might have started like this but it transmuted into something very different. Nobody should be in any doubt about the political complexion of these ultra-nationalist groups who went on to hold 6 portfolios in the new ‘government’ based in Kiev. Nor should anyone be in any doubt about both the overt and covert roles played by both the US and EU officials in the formation of the future interim government.

Throughout this period the EU and high-ranking US officials were openly engaged in Ukraine’s internal affairs. The US Ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt, and the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, were strolling around Independence Square reassuring the protestors that America stood behind them. Also basking in the political sunlight were US NGOs (such as the National Endowment for Democracy – NED – directly funded by the US Government) and (USAID). Also involved was the US Human Rights Watch (HRW) and not forgetting of course the ubiquitous Mr. Soros. Identified as GS in the leaked Open Society Foundation (OSF) documents, others involved in the Ukrainian coup in the planning, were the already named, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, along with the following: David Meale (Economic Counsellor to Pyatt, Lenny Benardo (Open Society Foundation – OSF) Yevhen Bystry (Executive Director International Renaissance Foundation – IRF) Oleksandr Sushko (Board Chair, IRF) Ivan Krastev (Chairman Centre for Liberal Studies, a Soros and US government-influenced operation in Sofia, Bulgaria) and Deff Barton (Director, US Agency for International Development AID – USAID – Ukraine). USAID is a conduit for the CIA.

Even right-wing thinkers such as George Freidman at Stratfor described these events as being ‘the most blatant coup in history.’

The new ‘government’ in Kiev was represented by a hotch-potch of oligarchs Kolomoiski, Akhmetof, Pinchuk, Poroshenko, et al, and petty fuhrers including Parubiy, Yarosh, Biletsky, from the Western Ukraine with their violent armed squadristi units terrorizing their opponents. The ultra-right Svoboda Party had a presence in the Ukrainian parliament (Rada). It is a neo-nazi, ultra-right, anti-Semitic, Russo phobic party with its base of support in the western Ukraine. The most important governmental post was handed to its fuhrer Andriy Parubiy who was appointed as Secretary of the Security and National Defence Committee, which supervised the defence ministry and the armed forces. The Parubiy appointment to such an important post should, alone, be cause for international outrage. He led the masked Right-Sector thugs who battled riot police in the Maidan in Kiev.

Like Svoboda, Right-Sector led by their own tin-pot fuhrer Dmitry Yarosh is an openly fascist, anti-semitic and anti-Russian organization. Most of the snipers and bomb-throwers in the crowds were connected with this group. Right Sector members had been participating in military training camps for the last 2 years or more in preparation for street activity of the kind witnessed in the Ukraine during the events in Independence Square in 2013-14. The Right Sector as can be seen by the appointment of Parubiy, is not in a position to control major appointments to the provisional government but he has succeeded in achieving his long-term goal of legalizing discrimination against Russians.

This discrimination took the forms of mass murder in the southern Black Sea port of Odessa when pro-Yanukovich supporters were attacked by fascist mobs and chased into a nearby building, a trade union HQ. The building was then set on fire and its exits blocked, the unfortunate people trapped inside were either burnt to death or, jumped out of the windows only to be clubbed to death when they landed. The practices of the political heirs of Bandera had apparently not been forgotten by the present generation. There is a video of the incident, but frankly, it was so horrific that I could only watch it once. These barbarians were described by Luke Harding of the Guardian as being ‘’an eccentric group of people with unpleasant right-wing views.’’ Yes, they were really nice chaps who got a little carried away! One week later with the open support of Washington and its European allies, the regime installed by Washington and Berlin in February’s fascist-led putsch then began extending its reign of terror against all popular resistance in Ukraine. That was the significance of the events in the major eastern Ukrainian sea-port city of Mariupol less than a week after the Odessa outrage.

After tanks, armoured personnel carriers and heavily armed troops were unleashed on unarmed civilians in the city, the Kiev regime claimed to have killed some 20 people. The Obama administration immediately blamed the violent repression on “pro-Russian separatists.’’

Poroshenko, ex-Finance Minister in Yanukovich’s government, was elected as President on 29 May and duly announced that “My first presidential trip will be to Donbass where armed pro-Russian rebels had declared the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and control a large part of the region.’’ This was the beginning of the Anti-Terrorist Operation the ATO. However, things didn’t quite work out as planned. After 2 heavy defeats at Iloviask and Debaltsevo the Ukie army was stopped in its tracks and the situation has remained static to this day.

In the meantime the Ukraine has become the poorest nation in the whole of Europe. The economic and social ramifications of the 2014 coup were such that that the full weight of the neo-liberal economic policies were foisted on the Ukraine, courtesy of the IMF. This was already apparent in the early 80s, but the trend accelerated after the coup. The standard IMF/WTO Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) – see above – a package of ‘reforms’ and ‘fiscal consolidation’ (I just love these IMF euphemisms) consisted of cuts in government expenditure, accompanied by extensive liberalisation of product and labour markets, together with abandonment of exchange rate control and capital flows.

These policies along with political instability have had, among other things, a disastrous effect on population growth. Ukraine’s population was 52 million in 1992 and the decline started in that year. By 2016, this figure had fallen to 42.5 million, its 1960 figure, and was accelerated since the coup of 2014. The current Fertility rate stands at 1.3. Any figure less than 2 will mean a shrinking population. The death rate has also increased, along with mass migration with some 2 million Ukrainian guest workers decamping to Russia and Poland in search of work. This is a slow-motion demographic calamity.

This notwithstanding the largesse handed out by the Western powers through the instrumentality of the IMF as pointed out by Michael Hudson. ‘’The IMF in fact broke four of its rules by lending to Ukraine: These included (i) Not to lend to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan (the “No More Argentinas” rule, adopted after the IMF’s disastrous 2001 loan to that country). (ii) Not to lend to a country that repudiates its debt to official creditors (the rule originally intended to enforce payment to U.S.-based institutions). (iii) Not to lend to a country at war – and indeed, destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan. Finally (iv), not to lend to a country unlikely to impose the IMF’s austerity ‘conditionalities.’ Ukraine did agree to override democratic opposition and cut back pensions, but its junta proved too unstable to impose the austerity terms on which the IMF insisted.’’

Nothing better illustrated the monumental stupidity of a nation which subordinated economic common-sense to anti-Russian gestures and rhetorical bluster; this was visibly illustrated in the trade deal involving the import of European gas and South African coal to the exclusion of Russian gas and Donbass coal. In both cases, however, Ukraine was simply buying the same goods from Donbass and Russia but resold at a significantly higher price by South Africa and Europe simply acting as middle-men at a huge cost to the Ukrainian tax-payer. (2)

All of which illustrates the intractable political and economic debacle unfolding and goes some way to explaining the present impasse of a backward movement into under-development. Ukraine is becoming deindustrialised – not unlike the fate of many post-soviet nations – its trade with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan severed. This was formerly an exceptionally large and important export-import market, imports consisting of energy commodities coming from the EEU, and exports to the EEU consisting of Ukraine’s advanced industries in the east situated in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zhaporizyha and Nikolayev oblasts. These exports consisting of machinery, equipment, aircraft, vessels, nuclear reactors and boilers, railway, tramway rolling stocks and inorganic chemicals.

‘’… The machinery industry alone had an annual revenue of nearly US$20 billion and was responsible for employing 600,000 people in the southern and eastern oblasts. Not only would trade disruptions in the EEU devastate the southern and eastern economies, they would also lead to the deindustrialisation of the Ukraine, and this process has already started.’’ (3)

Ukraine is now the poorest country in Europe. And once the process of deindustrialisation starts, charting a way back will be exceedingly difficult, even with the best will in the world and with the necessary manpower, skills, and expertise to carry out such a transformation. Moreover, this imbecility is compounded by military expenditures including the costs of an army of 250,000 that is doing nothing other than getting drunk and occasionally shelling towns and villages – against International Law it might be added – on the front line in the Donbass. Ukraine’s defence expenditure stands at 3.7% of GDP compared with NATO’s 2% and most NATO countries don’t even reach 2%. For the poorest country in Europe this is frankly bizarre. If you wanted to run a country and its economy into the ground this is the way to do it.

It has been suggested that nothing short of a huge ‘Marshall Plan’ to reconfigure Ukraine’s economic composition, requiring massive investment if it is to replace its post-Soviet industry – which seems especially so now that the industry heartlands of the Donbass have been severed from the Ukraine. Unsurprisingly, however, no-one is rushing to pick up the tab for this new ‘Marshall Plan’. Certainly not the EU, and even less so the Americans, who simply wanted yet another east European state (qua protectorate) to serve as a military base aimed at confronting Russia.

But now we may dispose of the customary patter of freedom and democracy together with the rest of the pseudo-rhetoric emanating from the usual sources. Fact: the entire Ukrainian imbroglio was essentially a matter of geopolitical realpolitik with the exalted rhetorical baggage being mere camouflage. US geopolitical strategy being predicated upon a hegemonic project to establish a system of dominance over the entire world. This desired outcome was nothing if not ambitious and is a common feature of all historically crackpot utopian schemes. This explains the US’s concurrent wars in the middle-east, the South China Sea, and in Europe – EUROCOM – with Ukraine as the spearhead. The object was initially to occupy western Europe through NATO and the EU, then spread this to eastern Europe, resulting in a de facto occupation and vassalisation of the European continent, with the role of the EU playing second string to its masters hegemonic requirements. This was the tawdry reality behind the initial euphoria of the short-lived settlement of 1991.

‘’It is pure hypocrisy to argue that the EU is now little more than an extended trading bloc after the Lisbon Treaty. It was institutionally now a core part of the Atlantic Security bloc (NATO) and had thus become geopolitical’’ (4)

In broader terms the Ukraine episode was part of a more general offensive against Putin in particular and Russia in general, and both were subjected to unrelenting demonization. With regard to Putin the venom was such that he was held personally responsible for the Skripal poisonings. That is to say a foreign head of a powerful state was accused of attempted murder of its citizens who resided in another state, the UK. Such unproven allegations between states seem unprecedented and alien to any type of mutual respect and diplomacy. For months the West has been demonizing Putin, it has almost become a national sport, with figures such as the Prince of Wales and Hilary Clinton comparing him with Hitler, oblivious to the fact that Putin had lost members of his own family during USSR’s Great Patriot war against Hitler’s legions. Such is the intellectual prowess, or more likely the lack of it, among the leading spokespersons of the West who combine ignorance in equal measure to arrogance. What set this crisis in motion were the recklessly provocative moves to absorb the Ukraine into the EU. Moreover, if the West’s offhand dismissal of Russia’s power concerns and the continued demonization of Putin continued, then Russia could well shift into a Cold War mode which would be a self-fulfilling prophecy come true.

Thus the contemporary decline of diplomacy reflects the didactic character of the liberal international order, which presumes that Russia is somehow an illegitimate interlocutor and parvenu and therefore its views can be discounted.

Coming full circle, the US relations with other states – particularly Russia and China – are best summarized in the Wolfowitz doctrine which bears repeating. As follows:

‘’Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defence strategy and requires that we endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.’’ (5)

Thus peaceful coexistence has never really been part of the US foreign policy, only world domination. Episodes like Ukraine, Syria and the middle-east, the South China Sea, Africa and Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and not to mention Latin America are all part of the playbook and have all followed a similar if not exact patterns of regime change and/or being dragooned into one-sided relationships, military, commercial or otherwise.

Whoever becomes the next US American President will not in any way mean a departure from the above geopolitical policies. If anything such policies will be even more rigorously pursued.


(1) These fascist militias had for some time been made ready for civil conflict against the Ukraine’s elected authorities. In 2012 I was travelling with my wife from Donetsk to a holiday resort in the Khmelnytskyi Oblast in the Western Ukraine. The train stopped at Dnipropetrovsk a major city half-way between. The train was boarded by a large group of young men; they looked like an amateur football team. My wife got talking to them and they described themselves as students. The strange thing was that there were no women or girls among them. Perhaps there were no female students in Ukraine; this seemed unlikely. Then the coin dropped: Right Sector had its main training camp at Dnipropetrovsk and these ‘students’ were going back to the west for the summer vacation. Two years later they were in all probability engaged in ‘political activities’ in Independence Square.



(4) Richard Sakwa – Frontline Ukraine – p.255)

(5) Paul Wolfowitz -Defence Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years (dated February 18, 1992) published by US Under Secretary of Défense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz and his deputy Scooter Libby. Not intended for public release, it was leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992,  and sparked a public controversy about U.S. foreign and defence policy. The document was widely criticized as imperialist, as the document outlined a policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive military action to suppress potential threats from other nations and prevent ‘’dictatorships’’ from rising to superpower status.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia’s proposal to convene meeting of heads of state of UN Security Council permanent members with participation of heads of Germany and Iran

Statement by President of Russia Vladimir Putin | August 14, 2020

Debates around the Iranian issue within the UN Security Council are becoming increasingly strained. Tensions are running high. Iran faces groundless accusations. Resolutions are being drafted with a view to dismantling decisions that had been unanimously adopted by the Security Council.

Russia maintains its unwavering commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme. Its approval in 2015 was a landmark political and diplomatic achievement that helped fend off the threat of an armed conflict and reinforced nuclear non-proliferation.

In 2019, Russia presented an updated version of its Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region, outlining concrete and effective paths to unravelling the tangle of concerns in this region. We strongly believe that these problems can be overcome if we treat each other’s positions with due attention and responsibility, while acting respectfully and in a collective spirit.

Like anywhere else in the world, there is no place for blackmail or dictate in this region, no matter the source. Unilateral approaches will not help bring about solutions.

It is essential that the positive experience gained earlier through intensive effort is maintained when building an inclusive security architecture in the Persian Gulf.

Accordingly, we propose convening an online meeting of the heads of state of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, with the participation of the heads of Germany and Iran, as soon as possible, in order to outline steps that can prevent confrontation or a spike in tensions within the UN Security Council. It is important to secure collective support for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that sets forth an international legal framework for the execution of the JCPOA.

During this leaders’ meeting, we propose agreeing on parameters for joint efforts to facilitate the emergence of reliable mechanisms in the Persian Gulf region for ensuring security and confidence building. This can be achieved if our countries and the regional states combine their political will and creative energy.

We call on our partners to carefully consider this proposal. Otherwise, we could see the further escalation of tension and an increased risk of conflict. This must be avoided. Russia is open to working constructively with anyone interested in taking the situation back from the dangerous brink.

This is an urgent matter. Should the leaders agree in principle to have this conversation, we propose that the foreign ministries of the seven countries agree on a meeting agenda, make the necessary arrangements and schedule a video summit.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | 10 Comments

Lebanon’s Hariri demands freedom to form upcoming government

MEMO | August 14, 2020

Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Saad Hariri demanded freedom to select his own cabinet ministers to become the country’s prime minister for a third term, Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper reported.

According to the paper, Hariri has demanded that all Lebanese forces grant him freedom to select his ministers, noting that his only external concern is to obtain the approval of Saudi Arabia which he has not yet received.

France has given its support for Hariri to become prime minister for a third time, but Paris wants a general consensus on his candidacy.

However, senior sources in the Free Patriotic Movement party, founded by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, stressed that experience has shown that Saad Hariri is neither a reformist nor productive.

The paper quoted unnamed sources as saying that Aoun is also not enthusiastic about naming Hariri as prime minister.

According to the sources, Hariri is not in a position to set conditions, but is rather someone to set conditions for.

Last week, Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, resigned in the aftermath of a massive explosion that hit Beirut port killing nearly 200 people and wounding more than 6,000 others.


August 14, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

Yemen’s Ansarullah slams UAE-Israel deal as ‘great betrayal’ of Palestinians

Press TV – August 14, 2020

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has decried the deal reached between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to fully normalize relations as a “great betrayal” of the Palestinian cause.

In a statement issued on Friday, Ansarullah’s political bureau said the exposure of the UAE-Israel relations proved the emptiness of all the pan-Arabist slogans raised by the Saudi-led coalition in waging war on Yemen.

The statement added that the UAE was continuing to move forward on the wrong path of serving American and Israeli interests against the Muslim Ummah, referring to the Emirates’ participation in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, which began in March 2015 and has left tens of thousands of people killed.

Ansarullah dismissed assertions that normalization with the Israeli regime would lead to the establishment of peace and stability in the region as “mere delusions.”

It also called for isolating any regime that announces normalization with Israel and boycotting it economically and commercially, stressing that Arab and Muslim peoples were able to do a lot to help Palestine.

The deal between the UAE and Israel was announced on Thursday. US President Donald Trump, who apparently helped broker the deal, has attempted to paint it as a big breakthrough.

But the Palestinians have utterly rejected the deal.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas referred to the deal as an “aggression” against the Palestinian people and a “betrayal” of their cause. The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas described it as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause.” And Palestinian people staged protests against the deal in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip on Friday.

The Emirates is now the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to normalize with Israel. Abu Dhabi was already believed to have clandestine relations with Tel Aviv.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

New York: Lebanese Government Defends Intellectual Freedom of Diplomat Against Zionist Intimidation Campaign

By Eric Striker – National Justice – August 14, 2020

The Lebanese consul in New York City refused to cower to a Jewish-led mob demanding the firing of Abir Taha, a Lebanese intellectual and career diplomat who serves as the consul general.

Taha, whose books have been published by Arktos, has written academic books about Nationalsocialism, geopolitics and Nietzschean philosophy, as well as novels influenced by Eastern spirituality. Jewish groups are calling her Nazi and anti-Semite.

A group called Outlive Them NYC, who describe themselves as “antifascist Jews in occupied NYC organizing to defend all our communities,” led a mob that blocked the entrance of the Lebanese consul demanding Taha’s resignation just two days after the tragic August 4th explosion in Beirut that killed 178 people and leveled a large portion of the city.

According to the consulate’s website, the Jews and leftists flooded their system with emails and almost collapsed their network as retaliation for their decision to defend Taha’s intellectual freedom. The result of this action is that thousands of Lebanese citizens who required both conventional services as well as information on the status of loved ones potentially impacted by the explosion were significantly delayed by the callous haters.

The Lebanese have doubled down on defending Taha’s free speech and professionalism. In a public statement, they declared that “[Abir Taha] is a career diplomat (من الملاك) who has joined the diplomatic corps and who will remain in this corps until she retires, because she is part of the administration, not a political class or group. Indeed, she is politically independent, with no political affiliation or loyalty to any party or politician. She only strives to serve Lebanon and its people, her only pride, loyalty and duty.”

In a shocking display of arrogance, the foreign emissaries were subjected to an ultimatum by the mob of New York Jews and “antifa” members demanding that Taha be fired by August 10th “or else.” The release concludes that, “What is currently happening to the Consul General : harassment, threats, insults, blaming her for all of our country’s woes, insulting the Consulate staff members, and lastly, giving her an “ultimatum” to resign until August 10, 2020 “or else” (…) … all of this is really sad and unfair since she and the entire staff of the Consulate General of Lebanon have been tirelessly serving our community, even during these difficult times, without any interruption or delay. She certainly doesn’t deserve this. The entire staff of the Consulate certainly doesn’t deserve this.”

By taking a principled stance, the Lebanese state breaths a breath of fresh air into the American police state, where citizens live in fear of their opinions being known and are arbitrarily blacklisted from employment for questioning the narratives of the elite.

The disgusting act of trying to leverage access to embassy services right after a tragedy to enforce US-style political correctness was celebrated by Al Arabiya, a media company owned by Saudis, which reported that the consul had to close its doors on August 12th in response to the protests.

There is no evidence of this being true. The consul appears to be open during its usual hours and Taha is still listed as its head.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

The US contracts out its regime change operation in Nicaragua

By John Perry | COHA | August 4, 2020

Masaya, Nicaragua – An extraordinary leaked document gives a glimpse of the breadth and complexity of the US government’s plan to interfere in Nicaragua’s internal affairs up to and after its presidential election in 2021.

The plan,[1] a 14-page extract from a much longer document, dates from March-April this year and sets the terms for a contract to be awarded by USAID (a “Request for Task Order Proposal”). It was revealed by reporter William Grigsby from Nicaragua’s independent Radio La Primerisima[2] and describes the task  of creating what the document calls “the environment for Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.” The aim is to achieve “an orderly transition” from the current government of Daniel Ortega to “a government committed to the rule of law, civil liberties, and a free civil society.” The contractor will work with the “democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) sub-sectors” which in reality is an agglomeration of NGOs, think tanks, media organizations and so-called human rights bodies that depend on US funding and which – while claiming to be independent – are in practice an integral part of the opposition to the Ortega government.

To justify such blatant interference, a considerable rewriting of history is needed. For example, the document claims that the ruling Sandinista party manipulated “successive” past elections so as to win “without a majority of the votes.” Then after “manipulating the 2016 presidential elections” to similar effect, it was warned by the Organization of American States (OAS) that there had been various “impediments to free and fair elections” as a result of which the OAS requested “technical electoral reforms.” What the document omits, however, are the overall conclusions of the OAS on the last elections. Although it identified “weaknesses typical of all electoral processes,” the OAS explicitly said that these had “not affected substantially the popular will expressed through the vote.” In other words, the nature of Daniel Ortega’s victory (he gained 72% of the popular vote) made any minor irregularities irrelevant to the result: he won by an enormous margin. The leaked document makes clear that the US is worried that the same might happen again and aims to stop it.

Not surprisingly, the document also rewrites recent history, saying that the “uprising” in 2018 (which had strong US backing) was answered by “the government’s brutal repression” of demonstrations, while it ignores the wave of violence and destruction that the opposition itself unleashed. The economic disruption it caused is still damaging the country, even though (pre-pandemic) there were strong signs of recovery. USAID, however, has to paint a picture of a country in crisis “… broadening into an economic debacle with the potential to become a humanitarian emergency, depending on the impact of the COVID-19 contagion on Nicaragua’s weak healthcare system.” Someone casually reading the document, unaware of the real situation, might get the impression that, in Nicaragua’s “crisis environment,” regime change is not only desirable but urgently required. The reality – that Nicaragua is at peace, has so far coped with the COVID-19 pandemic reasonably well, and hasn’t suffered the severe economic problems experienced by its neighbors El Salvador and Honduras – is of course incompatible with the picture the US administration needs to present, in order to give some semblance of justification for its intervention.

A long history of US intervention

Given the long history of US interference in Nicaragua, going back at least as far as William Walker’s assault on its capital and usurption of the presidency in 1856, the existence of a plan of this kind is hardly surprising. What’s unusual is that someone has made it publicly available and we can now see the plan in detail. Of course, the US has long developed a tool box of regime change methods short of direct military intervention, such as when it sent in the marines in the 1920s and 1930s or illegally funded and provided logistical support for  the “Contra” forces in the 1980s. It now has more sophisticated methods, using local proxies, which are deniable in the unlikely event that they will be exposed by the international media (which normally displays little interest, being much more interested in electoral interference by Russia than it is in Washington’s disruption of the democratic processes).

The latest escalation in intervention began under the Obama presidency and continued under Trump, although the motivation probably has more to do with the US administration’s ongoing concerns about the success of the Ortega government’s development model since it returned to power in 2007 and began a decade of renewed social investment. Oxfam summarized the problem in the memorable title it gave to a 1980s report about Nicaragua: The Threat of a Good Example. Between 2005 and 2016, poverty was reduced by almost half, from 48 percent to 25 percent according to World Bank data. Nicaragua had a low crime rate, limited drug-related violence, and community-based policing. Over the 11 years to 2017, Nicaragua’s per-capita GDP increased by 38 percent—more than for any of its neighbors. Its success contrasted sharply with the experience of the three “Northern Triangle” countries closely allied to the US. While Nicaragua became one of the safest countries in Latin America, neighboring Guatemala, El Salvador and particularly Honduras saw soaring crime levels, rampant corruption and rapid growth in the drug trade that prevented social progress and produced the “migrant caravans” that began to head north towards the US in 2017.

The US administration’s efforts in 2016 and 2017, building on long experience of manipulating Nicaraguan politics, appeared to produce results in April 2018. The first catalyst for action by US-funded groups was an out-of-control forest fire in a remote reserve, inaccessible by road.[3] The tactics were clear: take an incident with potential to get young people onto the streets, blame the government for inaction (even though the fire was almost impossible to control), whip up people’s anger via social media, organize protests, generate critical stories in the local press, enlist support from neighboring allies (in this case, Costa Rica) and secure hostile coverage in the international media. All of these tactics worked, but before the next stage could be reached (protesters being repressed by the Ortega “regime”) the forest fire was extinguished by a rainstorm.

A week later, the opposition forces were unexpectedly given a second opportunity.  The government announced a package of modest social security reforms, and quickly faced new protests on the streets. The same tactics were deployed, this time with much greater success. Violence by protesters on April 19 (a police officer, a Sandinista supporter and a bystander were shot) brought inevitable attempts by the police to control the protests, leading to rapid escalation. Media messages proliferated about students being killed, many of them false. Only a few days later the government cancelled the social security reforms, but by now the protests had (as planned) moved on to demanding the government’s resignation. The full story of events in April-July 2018, and how the government eventually prevailed, is told in Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup?

A section of the report

Laying the groundwork for insurrection

How were the conditions for a coup created? The aims of US government funding in Nicaragua and the tactics they paid for in this period were made surprisingly clear in the online magazine Global Americans in 2018, which is partly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).[4] Arguing (in May 2018, at the height of the violence) that “Nicaragua is on the brink of a civic insurrection,” the author Ben Waddell, who was in Nicaragua at the time, pointed out that “US support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”

His article’s title, Laying the groundwork for insurrection,[5] was starkly accurate in describing the ambitions behind the NED’s funding program, which had financed 54 projects in Nicaragua over the period 2014-17 and has continued to do so since then. What did the projects do? Like the recently leaked document, NED promotes ostensibly innocuous or even apparently beneficial activities like strengthening civil society, promoting democratic values, finding “a new generation of democratic youth leaders” and identifying “advocacy opportunities.” To get behind the jargon and clarify the NED’s role, Waddell quotes the New York Times (referring to the uprisings in Egypt, where NED had also been active):[6]

“… the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.”

In the case of Nicaragua, the NED’s funding of groups opposed to the Sandinista government began in 1984, giving the lie to their aim being to “promote democracy” since that was the year in which Nicaragua’s revolutionary government held the country’s first-ever democratic elections. Waddell makes it clear that the NED’s efforts continued, years later:

“… it is now quite evident that the U.S. government actively helped build the political space and capacity in Nicaraguan society for the social uprising that is currently unfolding.”

The NED is not the only non-covert source of US funding. Another is USAID, which describes its role in the 2018 uprising in similar terms to the NED. Not long before he exposed the new document, William Grigsby was able to publish lists of groups and projects in Nicaragua funded by USAID and by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).[7] He showed that upwards of $30 million was being distributed to a wide range of groups opposed to the government and involved in the violence of 2018, and that in the case of the NDI at least this funding continued into 2020.

Last year, Yorlis Gabriela Luna recounted for COHA her own experiences of how US-funded groups trained young people, in particular, and influenced their political beliefs in the build-up to 2018.[8] She explained how social networks and media outlets were “capable of fooling a significant portion of Nicaragua’s youth and general population.” She explained how the groups used scholarships to learn English, diploma programs, graduate studies, and courses with enticing names like “democratic values, social media activism, human rights and accountability” at private universities, “to attract and lure young people.” She went on to explain how exciting events were organised in expensive hotels or even involving trips abroad, so that young people who had never before been privileged in these ways developed a sense of “pride,” belonging, and “group identity,” and as a result “wound up aligning themselves with the foreign interests” of those who funded the courses and activities.

The new task during and after the pandemic

Two years after the failed coup attempt, what are the organizations that receive US funding now supposed to do? The new document is full of jargon, requiring the contractor (for example) to engage in “targeted short-term technical and analytical activities during Nicaragua’s transition that require rapid response programming support until other funds, mechanisms, and actors can be mobilized.” The work also requires “longer-term programs, which will be determined as the crisis evolves.” Preparation is required for the possibility that “transition [to a new government] does not happen in an orderly and timely manner.” The contractor will have to prepare “a roster of subject matter experts in Nicaragua” to provide short term technical assistance, “regardless of the result of the 2021 election, even in the event of the Sandinistas ‘winning fairly’.” The document is full of requirements like being able to offer “a rapid response” and “seize new opportunities,” emphasizing the urgency of the task. In other words, a fresh attempt is underway to destabilize Daniel Ortega’s government and, in the event that this doesn’t work, and even should the Sandinistas win the next election fairly, as the document admits is a possibility, US attempts at regime change are stepping up a gear.

Who will carry this out? The document places much emphasis on “maintaining” and “strengthening” civil society and improving its leadership, which appears to refer to the numerous NGOs, think tanks and “human rights” bodies which receive US funding. At one point the document asks “what should donor coordination, the opposition, civil society, and media focus on?” – clearly implying that the contractor has a role in influencing not just these civil society groups but also the media and political parties.

Not surprisingly, the document has been interpreted as a new plan to destabilize the country. Writing in La Primerísima, Wiston López argues that the plan’s purpose is “to create the conditions for a coup d’état in Nicaragua.”[9] Brian Wilson, the VietNam veteran severely injured in the 1980s when attempting to stop a freight train carrying supplies to the “Contra,” and who lives in Nicaragua, concludes that the US now realizes that Ortega will win the coming election.[10] In response, the “US has launched a brazen, criminal and arrogant plan to overthrow Nicaragua’s government.”

Supposing that there is a clear Sandinista victory in 2021, will the US nevertheless refuse to accept the result? Having implied that the OAS had serious criticisms of the last election when this was not the case, the document implies that it will be pressured to take a different attitude next time, saying that “whether the OAS decides to pick up the pressure on electoral reform again will be an important international pressure point.” No doubt the US will try to insist that the OAS must be election observers, and if this is refused it will allow the legitimacy of the election to be called into question, if the result is unfavorable to US interests. Many question whether the OAS is even qualified to have an observer role any longer, however, after the serious harm it did to Bolivian democracy in 2019 by casting doubts on what experts considered a fair election and, in effect, instigating a coup.[11] This document creates legitimate concern that the US government would like to use the OAS to prevent another government that is not to its liking from winning an election, as it did so recently in Bolivia.

Not only must conditions be created to replace the current government, but once this is achieved the changes must extend to “rebuilding” the institutions of government, including the judicial system, police and armed forces. After the widespread persecution of government officials, state and municipal workers and Sandinista supporters that occurred in 2018, it is not surprising that this is interpreted as requiring a purge of all the institutions and personnel with Sandinista sympathies. As Wilson says, “the new government must immediately submit to the policies and guidelines established by the United States, including persecution of Sandinistas, dissolving the National Police and the Army, among other institutions.”

USAID makes it clear that it is internal pressure in Nicaragua that might eventually provoke a coup d’état, so it calls on its agents to deepen the political, economic and also the health crisis, taking into account the context of COVID-19. The US State Department recently awarded an extra $750,000 to Nicaraguan non-government bodies as part of its global response to COVID-19, and this includes “support for targeted communication and community engagement activities.”[12] As López points out in Popular Resistance, “Since March the US-directed opposition has focused 95% of their actions on attempting to discredit Nicaragua’s prevention, contention, and Covid treatment. However, this only had some success in the international media and is now backfiring since Nicaragua is the country with one of the lowest mortality rates in the continent.”[13] The Johns Hopkins University’s world map of coronavirus cases currently shows Nicaragua with 3,672 cases compared with 17,448 in El Salvador, 42,685 in Honduras and 51,306 in Guatemala.[14] Even though higher figures produced by Nicaragua’s so-called Citizens’ Observatory[15] are regularly cited in the international media, they currently show just 9,044 “suspected” cases, still far below the numbers in the “Northern triangle” countries.

What will the opposition do next?

COHA has already documented the disinformation campaign taking place against Nicaragua during the pandemic and how this has been repeated in the international media. So far, however, warnings of the health system’s collapse have proved to be unfounded.[16] If, as happened with the Indio Maíz fire and the social security protests in 2018, the opposition fails in its attempt to use the pandemic to destabilize the Ortega government, what will it do next? A recent incident shows that attempts to seize on events to spur a crisis will continue. On July 31, a fire occurred in Managua’s cathedral. The fire department responded quickly and put out the blaze within ten minutes, but a crucifix and the chapel where it stood were badly damaged. Within minutes opposition newspaper La Prensa reported that “an attack” had occurred involving a “Molotov cocktail” and that the government or its supporters were implicated.[17] This was echoed by other local and international media, opposition parties, the Archbishop of Managua, and by one of the NGOs which received USAID funding.[18] Despite the lack of any evidence to back up the media stories, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) also condemned the incident, obviously implying that it was an attack on human rights.[19]

Yet a police investigation quickly established that there was no evidence at all of any foul play, or that petrol or explosive materials were involved.[20] Their investigations pointed instead to a tragic accident involving lighted candles and the alcohol spray being used as a disinfectant as part of the cathedral’s anti-COVID-19 precautions. The Catholic Church has already announced that the damaged chapel will be restored to its former state. However, the damage that has been done to the government’s national and international reputation, and to its highly politicized relationship with the Catholic Church, will be more difficult to repair.

John Perry is a writer based in Nicaragua.


End notes

[1] Downloadable in English (pdf) at

[2] “EEUU lanza descarado plan intervencionista para tumbar al FSLN”, histotrypara-tumbar-al-fsln/

[3] “International Forces ‘Distorting’ Nicaragua’s Indio Maíz Fire,”

[4] See details at (NED is nominally independent of the US administration, but is funded by Congress.)

[5] “Laying the groundwork for insurrection: A closer look at the U.S. role in Nicaragua’s social unrest,”

[6] “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,”

[7] “Asi financia EEUU a los terroristas,”

[8] “The Other Nicaragua, Empire and Resistance,”

[9] “EEUU lanza descarado plan intervencionista para tumbar al FSLN,”

[10] “NIcaragua targeted for US overthrow in 2020-21,”

[11] “Bolivia’s Struggle to Restore Democracy after OAS Instigated Coup,”

[12] See

[13] “US Launches Brazen Interventionist Plan to Overthrow the FSLN,”

[14] See

[15] See

[16] “Experts Warn about Possible Health System Collapse in Nicaragua,”

[17] See

[18] See for example and

[19] See

[20] “Esclarecimiento de incendio en Capilla de la Sangre de Cristo, Catedral de Managua”,

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colombia: Army Kills Two Indigenous People in Cauca Valley

teleSUR | August 14, 2020

Colombia’s Army Thursday killed two Indigenous people and injured two community members during an eviction operation in El Berraco village in the Cauca department.

The victims are the Indigenous journalists Abelardo Liz and Johel Rivera, who were part of the “Liberation of Mother Earth” movement.

The Foundation for the Freedom of the Press (FLIP) regretted the death of both journalists, who were shot while covering the Army’s eviction in Corinto.

The Indigenous City Halls of Cauca Association (ACIN) reported that former Governor Julio Tumbo was seriously wounded. His bullet injuries represent a danger to life.

“Officers of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and the Army shot at El Berraco community with firearms. The victims were hit in the chest, shoulder, abdomen, and knees,” ACIN explained.

Following a court order, Army troops evicted the people who were in the Quebrada Seca ranch.

“During the operation, members of the Public Force were injured, and the El Berraco’s Indigenous people also tried to kidnap them,” Colombia’s Army stated.

According to Cauca’s indigenous organizations, the officers prevented vehicles and health personnel from entering the ranch to assist and transfer the injured to hospitals.

“The ESMAD attacked the vehicles that were trying to help the wounded. They fired gases at the windows,” ACIN said.

The University of Cauca’s Human Rights Commission and the National Union of Students denounced the events.

“The indigenous communities cannot continue to be victims of Colombia’s systematic violence,” the organizations stated.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Bolivia: La Paz Uses Mobile Crematories as COVID Deaths Increase

Mobile crematory in La Paz, Bolivia. August, 2020.

Mobile crematory in La Paz, Bolivia. August, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @ConElMazoDando
teleSUR | August 13, 2020

Bolivia COVID-19 victim’s relatives use mobile crematories as an alternative to burials after cemeteries collapsed due to the increase in virus-related deaths.

“We wanted to help in this pandemic, and one possibility was showing others how to make a crematory oven. Then we asked ourselves, wouldn’t it be better if it could be mobile, to move it from one place to another?” the environmental engineer and mobile crematory inventor Carlos Ayo says.

The mobile crematory poses an alternative for less advantaged families who cannot dispose of a dignified and sanitary end for their relative’s remains. A cremation with the mobile device costs 40 USD, while the cost of the conventional incinerator reaches 144 USD.

The itinerant crematorium fits in a trailer and uses locally produced liquefied petroleum gas. It can process a corpse in 30 to 40 minutes and about 20 bodies per day.

According to Ayo, several local authorities requested his services as corpses pile up in the streets, and families wait for days to bury their beloved ones.

La Paz Mayor’s Office, one of the cities most harmed by the virus, reported local cemeteries received over 2,000 bodies in July, an atypical figure from the 500 average.

As of Thursday, Bolivia health authorities registered 96,459 COVID-19 cases, 3,884 deaths, and 33,720 recoveries from the virus.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

‘Regime Change’ in Belarus Looks Like an Objective of Both the Trump Administration and the Biden Campaign

By Adam Dick | Ron Paul Institute | August 14, 2020

It seems that whoever wins the presidency, United States foreign policy will keep chugging away at intervening across the world, including via “regime change” efforts. Over the last couple decades, targets for US-government-supported overthrow have included Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela. Belarus also appears to be in the US government’s crosshairs. If its government holds back through January the effort seeking to topple it, Belarus looks sure to remain a US target for regime change during either a second term of President Donald Trump or a first term of President Joe Biden.

On Monday, as revolutionaries in Belarus capital Minsk attempted to oust the Belarus government, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden issued interchangeable statements regarding Belarus and US policy toward it. Both Pompeo’s statement and Biden’s statement condemned the government of Belarus, called fraudulent the country’s recent national election in which President Aleksander Lukashenko won reelection by a wide margin, and made demands upon the Belarus government.

The statements of Pompeo and Biden may not seem so threatening if you imagine them coming from the government of a country of average population, economic strength, military power, and tendency to intervene in other countries. The comments could then just be understood as politicians spouting off or being relatively harmless buttinskis.

It is different when the pronouncements are made by a top foreign affairs official of the US and the potential next president of the US. The US presides over a large population country with major economic resources. The US has military bases and ships, as well as covert operatives, across the world. The US has a long and ongoing history of pursuing, and often achieving, the overthrow of governments through actions including invasions, assassinations, sanctions, election meddling, and the financing and coordinating of coups and revolutions.

In 2015, during the Barack Obama administration in the US and after another wide-margin reelection win by Lukashenko in Belarus, Ron Paul Institute Executive Director Daniel McAdams discussed the US government’s disdain for Lukashenko and the Belarus government. McAdams wrote in part:

Lukashenko has been a favorite punching bag of the US and western neocons for a number of years because he has not shown the required level of deference to his would-be western overlords compared to, say, the Baltics. He routinely wins re-election even as the US government has funneled millions of dollars into the political opposition in hopes of somehow fomenting a regime change.

Don’t believe the sanctimonious comments, whether from the Trump administration or the Biden campaign, about the US seeking to promote democracy and human rights in Belarus. This is about power. The US has let slide and continues to let slide democratic and human rights shortcomings of countries across the world where benefit can be obtained. Dictatorship? No problem. The expression of concern about democracy and human rights is propaganda selectively applied to stir up support for, or at least quell opposition to, US intervention abroad.

Pompeo and Biden’s statements regarding Belarus help make clear that overthrowing governments appears set to remain a feature of US foreign policy no matter if Trump wins a second term or Biden defeats him in the upcoming November presidential election.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment