Aletho News


UN resolutions on Palestine won’t be implemented as long as Israel enjoys US support: Hamas

Press TV – December 31, 2022

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has condemned the United States’ unwavering support for Israel, saying United Nations resolutions concerning Palestine will not be implemented as long as Tel Aviv enjoys Washington’s support.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem made the remarks in a statement on Saturday, after the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution in favor of Palestinians, according to Arabic-language al-Ahad television network.

“This resolution will add to the long list of international resolutions concerning Palestine, which have never tuned into a practical step to put pressure on the occupying regime even once,” Qassem said.

“As long as the US acts as a partner of the occupying regime and covers up Israeli crimes, all such decisions will remain on paper,” he added.

On Friday, the UNGA adopted a resolution calling on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an opinion on the legal consequences of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli “annexation” and the “legal status of the occupation” of Palestinian territories.

The resolution promoted by Palestinians passed by a vote of 87 in favor, 26 against, with 53 abstentions. Russia and China voted in favor of the resolution.

Israel, the US and 24 other members – including the United Kingdom and Germany – voted against the resolution, while France was among the 53 nations that abstained.

The resolution is titled “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories” and calls on the Hague-based ICJ to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”

It also calls for an investigation into Israeli measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of al-Quds” and says Israel has adopted “discriminatory legislation and measures.”

The resolution demands the court weigh in on the conflict in accordance with international law and the UN charter.

Palestine’s UN ambassador Riyad Mansour noted that the vote came one day after the swearing-in of a new far-right Israeli cabinet led by hawkish prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which he said promises an expansion of illegal settlements and will accelerate “colonial and racist policies” towards Palestinians.

Earlier this month, Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad al-Maliki announced that the UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution that affirms the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.

He further called on the international community to work on obliging Israel “to implement international resolutions and guarantee the right of the Palestinian people, as he hailed the resolution.

The General Assembly also adopted five resolutions recently in favor of Palestinians, including the issue of Palestinian refugees.

These decisions are issued every year by the General Assembly, which is consisted of 193 members, and are non-binding.

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela National Assembly votes out US-backed opposition leader

RT | December 31, 2022

Opposition lawmakers in Venezuela have voted to dissolve the ‘interim government’ formed under their one-time leader, Juan Guaido, a main rival to the country’s ruling socialist party and once a darling of the US foreign policy establishment.

Holding their vote over a Zoom call, the opposition-controlled National Assembly moved to reorganize their movement on Friday, with 72 lawmakers voting in favor of disbanding the legislature compared to just 29 opposed. Guaido’s term at the head of the assembly, as well as his ‘interim presidency’ declared in 2019 with the blessing of the US, are now set to end on January 5.

“Venezuela needs new machinery in this struggle,” lawmaker Juan Miguel Matheus of the opposition Justice First party said after the vote, adding that Guaido’s tenure as interim leader “was something that was supposed to be temporary, but it became something perpetual.”

Guaido and his supporters, meanwhile, have argued that dissolving the interim government could spell the demise of any unified opposition movement, insisting it will only bolster the power and influence of Maduro, who has been deemed an illegitimate leader by Washington and a long list of allies.

“This is not about defending Guaido. This is about not losing the important tools that we have in this struggle,” Guaido said.

The shake-up in the opposition leadership follows several years of failed efforts to oust Maduro from power, including a series of heated street protests and an outright coup attempt in 2019. While Guaido and fellow opposition leaders failed to inspire mass defections among the security forces as hoped, the ill-fated putsch enjoyed open support from US officials.

In addition to eliminating the temporary government, the assembly said it would establish a new committee to monitor the state assets it still controls, which includes a quantity of gold bullion stored at the Bank of England, as well as the American oil firm Citgo – even as it continues to be majority-owned by PDVSA, a state-controlled energy giant operated by President Maduro’s government in Caracas.

The National Assembly will also create a special panel to negotiate with Maduro, aiming to take part in another round of elections slated for 2024.

While opposition candidates were set to gain control over the legislature following elections in 2015, the results were later invalidated in the courts and the government opted to launch an entirely new body known as the National Constituent Assembly. Since then, Maduro’s opponents have effectively led a government-in-exile, with many lawmakers conducting official business from foreign countries.

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Russia consolidates in East Mediterranean


The curtain is coming down on the brutal 11-year old Syrian conflict, which former US President and Nobel Laureate Barack Obama initiated, as the Arab Spring swept through West Asia two decades ago. The United States has suffered yet another big setback in West Asia as the year 2022 draws to a close. The unfolding Turkish-Syrian reconciliation process under Russian mediation is to be seen as a saga of betrayal and vengeance. 

Ankara came under immense pressure from the Obama Administration in 2011 to spearhead the regime change project in Syria. Obama blithely assumed that Turkiye would gleefully serve as the charioteer of “moderate” Islamism for the transformation in West Asia. But Ankara took its time to calibrate its foreign policies to adapt to the Arab Spring before responding to the shifting landscape in Syria.

Erdogan was caught unprepared by the uprising in Syria at a juncture when Ankara was pursuing a “zero-problems” policy with Turkiye’s neighbours. Ankara was unsure how the Arab Spring would play out and remained silent when the revolt first appeared in Tunisia. Even on Egypt, Erdogan made an emotional call for Hosni Mubarak’s departure only when he sensed, correctly so, that Obama was decoupling from America’s  staunch ally in Cairo. 

Syria was the ultimate test case and a real challenge for Erdogan. Ankara had invested heavily in the improvement of relations with Syria within the framework of the so-called Adana Agreement in 1998 in the downstream of Turkish military’s massive showdown with Damascus over the latter harbouring the PKK [Kurdish] leader Ocalan. Erdogan initially did not want Bashar al-Assad to lose power, and advised him to reform. The families of Erdogan and Assad used to holiday together. 

Obama had to depute then CIA chief David Petraeus to visit Turkey twice in 2012 to persuade Erdogan to engage with the US in operational planning aimed at bringing about the end of the Assad government. It was Petraeus who proposed to Ankara a covert program of arming and training Syrian rebels.

But by 2013 already, Erdogan began sensing that Obama himself had only a limited American involvement in Syria and preferred to lead from the rear. In 2014, Erdogan went public that his relations with Obama had diminished, saying that he was disappointed about not getting direct results on the Syrian conflict. By that time, more than 170,000 people had died and 2.9 million Syrians had fled to neighbouring countries, including Turkey, and the fighting had forced another 6.5 million people from their homes within Syria. 

Simply put, Erdogan felt embittered that he was left holding a can of worms and Obama had scooted off. Worse still, the Pentagon began aligning with the Syrian Kurdish groups linked to the PKK.  (In October 2014, US began providing supplies to Kurdish forces and in November 2015, US special forces were deployed in Syria.) 

Indeed, since then, Erdogan had been protesting in vain that the US, a NATO ally, had aligned with a terrorist group (Syrian Kurds known as YPG) that threatened Turkiye’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

It is against such a backdrop that the two meetings in Moscow on Wednesday between the defence ministers and intelligence chiefs of Turkey and Syria in the presence of their Russian counterparts took place. Erdogan’s reconciliation process with Assad is quintessentially his sweet revenge for the American betrayal. Erdogan sought help from Russia, the archetypal enemy country in the US and NATO’s sights, in order to communicate with Assad who is a pariah in American eyes. The matrix is self-evident. 

On Thursday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said: “At the meeting (in Moscow), we discussed what we could do to improve the situation in Syria and the region as soon as possible while ensuring peace, tranquility and stability… We reiterated our respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty rights of all our neighbours, especially Syria and Iraq, and that our sole aim is the fight against terrorism, we have no other purpose.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been counselling Erdogan in recent years that Turkiye’s security concerns are best tackled in coordination with Damascus and that the Adana Agreement could provide a framework of cooperation. The Turkish Defence Ministry readout said the meeting in Moscow took place in a “constructive atmosphere” and it was agreed to continue the format of trilateral meetings “to ensure and maintain stability in Syria and the region as a whole.” 

Without doubt, the normalisation between Ankara and Damascus will impact regional security and, in particular, the Syrian war, given the clout Turkiye wields with the residual Syrian opposition. A Turkish ground operation in northern Syria may not be necessary if Ankara and Damascus were to revive the Adana Agreement. In fact, Akar disclosed that Ankara, Moscow and Damascus are working on carrying out joint missions on the ground in Syria.

The Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s willingness right in the middle of the Ukraine war to take the steering wheel and navigate its reconciliation with Syria adds an altogether new dimension to the deepening strategic ties between Moscow and Ankara. For Erdogan too, Syria becomes the newest addition to his policy initiatives lately to improve Turkiye’s relations with the regional states. Normalisation with Syria will go down well with Turkish public opinion and that has implications for Erdogan’s bid for a renewed mandate in the upcoming elections.

From the Syrian perspective, the normalisation with Turkiye is going to be far more consequential than the restoration of ties with various regional states (starting with the UAE) in recent years who had fuelled the conflict. Turkiye’s equations with Syrian militant groups (eg., Syrian National Army and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), its continued occupation of Syrian territory, Syrian refugees in Turkiye  (numbering 3.6 million), etc. are vital issues affecting Syria’s security.    

The US resents Erdogan’s move to normalise with Assad — and that too, with Russia’s helping hand. It is now even more unlikely to give up its military presence in Syria or its alliance with the Syrian Kurdish group YPG (which Ankara regards as an affiliate of the PKK.) 

But the YPG will find itself in a tight spot. As Syria requests Turkiye to withdraw from its territories (Idlib and so-called operation areas) and stop supporting armed groups, Turkiye in return will insist on pushing the YPG away from the border. (The government-aligned Syrian daily Al-Watan reported quoting sources that at the tripartite meeting in Moscow, Ankara has committed to withdrawing all its forces from Syrian territory.) 

Indeed, the replacement of the YPG militia by the Syrian government forces along the borders with Turkiye would lead to the weakening of both YPG and the US military presence. However, the question will still remain unanswered as regards the place of Kurds in the future of Syria. 

The US State Department stated recently, “The US will not upgrade its diplomatic relations with the Assad regime and does not support other countries upgrading their relations. The US urges states in the region to consider carefully the atrocities inflicted by the Assad regime on the Syrian people over the last decade. The US believes that stability in Syria and the greater region can be achieved through a political process that represents the will of all Syrians.”

Last week’s meetings in Moscow show that Russia’s standing in the West Asian region is far from defined by the Ukraine conflict. Russian influence on Syria remains intact and Moscow will continue to shape Syria’s transition out of conflict zone and consolidate its own long-term presence in Eastern Mediterranean. 

OPEC Plus has gained traction. Russia’s ties with the Gulf states are steadily growing. The Russia-Iran strategic ties are at their highest level in history. And the return of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister means that the Russian-Israeli ties are heading for a reset. Clearly, Russian diplomacy is on a roll in West Asia. 

Conventional wisdom was that Russia and Turkiye’s geopolitical interests would inevitably collide once the floodgates were opened in Ukraine. Herein lies the paradox, for, what has happened is entirely to the contrary. 

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 4 Comments

2022 deadliest year for Palestinians in West Bank since Second Intifada in 2005: Report

Press TV – December 31, 2022

New data has revealed that 2022 has been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the Second Intifada which ended in 2005, with at least 220 people being killed at the hands of Israeli forces across the occupied territories.

According to figures published by the Middle East Eye, Israeli forces shot dead 167 people in the West Bank and East al-Quds, and 53 people in the besieged Gaza Strip, with 48 children being among the total casualties.

The report further noted that in at least five cases, Israeli settlers were suspected of killing Palestinians while the regime’s military is responsible for the overwhelming majority of deaths.

The London-based news website also said the majority of Palestinian casualties were likely unarmed at the time of their death.

In at least 95 cases, Palestinians were shot by Israeli soldiers as bystanders during military raids or while participating in anti-occupation demonstrations.

At least 22 Palestinians were killed after alleged car ramming, shooting or stabbing attacks against Israelis and security forces. In some cases, Palestinians were fatally shot for allegedly “attempting” to carry out such attacks.

Tensions have been running high across the occupied Palestinian territories over the past months.

Incidents of sabotage and violence by settlers against Palestinians and their property have become a daily occurrence throughout the occupied territories, particularly in the West Bank.

However, Israeli authorities rarely prosecute settlers, and the vast majority of the files are closed due to deliberate police failure to investigate them properly.

Moreover, Israeli forces have recently been conducting overnight raids and killings in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where new groups of Palestinian resistance fighters have been formed.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says Israeli forces killed more Palestinians in the West Bank in 2022 than in any year since the world body began systematically recording fatalities in 2005.

UN experts have held Israel responsible for the recent surge of violence in the occupied Palestinians territories, warning that the brutality could further escalate with the new far-right Israeli cabinet.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli security forces have killed 146 Palestinians in the West Bank and mainly East al-Quds through December 19 of this year, compared with 75 in 2021.

Four more Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, OCHA added.

Most of the Palestinians were killed during Israeli military raids and clashes in the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus, the UN said, adding that more than half were under the age of 25.

Earlier this month, UN experts condemned Israeli settler violence and excessive use of force by the Israeli military in the West Bank.

“Unless Israeli forces abandon this dominant settler mindset and rightfully treat Palestinians in the occupied territory as protected persons, Israel’s deplorable record in the occupied West Bank will likely deteriorate further in 2023,” they said.

Israeli occupation soldiers and Israeli settlers have noticeably been escalating their attacks against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and other areas, in an attempt to forcibly expel Palestinians from their lands and make way for expanding illegal Jewish-only settlements.

Between 600,000 and 750,000 Israelis occupy over 250 illegal settlements that have been built across the West Bank since the 1967 occupation.

The UN Security Council has in several resolutions condemned the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement projects in the occupied Palestinian lands.

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Donetsk reveals number of civilians killed in 2022

RT | December 30, 2022

Some 1,091 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured in 2022 amid the ongoing hostilities in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), a regional human rights ombudswoman said on Friday. The total civilian death toll of the DPR since the beginning of the conflict in then-east Ukraine back in 2014 has reached 5,441, official figures show.

Over the past year, the Ukrainian military has repeatedly subjected the city of Donetsk to artillery and missile attacks, deliberately targeting residential areas away from any military installations to inflict damage on civilians, the office noted.

“Such a deliberate atrocity against the civilian population is nothing more than an admission of the Ukrainian militants in their own powerlessness on the battlefield, where our defenders beat them again and again,” the DPR’s ombudswoman, Darya Morozova, said in a statement. The sole goal of the Kiev “criminals” and their attacks against the republic’s cities is an attempt to strike fear in the hearts of the local population, Morozova noted, adding that it was impossible to “break the spirit of Donbass.”

A sharp increase in the civilian death toll comes as years-long low-intensity hostilities in the then-Ukrainian east devolved into a major conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, brokered by Germany and France, and designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the 2014 ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

The admission has also been amplified by former German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who have separately stated the Minsk agreements were never intended to actually be fulfilled but were merely a ruse to buy time for Ukraine’s military buildup.

Moscow demands that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

In September, four formerly Ukrainian regions, the DPR and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye, overwhelmingly supported joining Russia during referendums, getting formally incorporated into the country shortly after.

December 31, 2022 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

China Conducts Military Maneuvers Near Guam, Okinawa

By Kyle Anzalone and Will Porter | The Libertarian Institute | December 30, 2022

The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning has sailed near the Japanese island of Okinawa and the US territory of Guam over the past two weeks. The naval operations came at the end of a year which saw several military escalations between Washington and Beijing.

Tokyo reported that the Liaoning and at least four other large warships operated in waters near Okinawa, adding that the ships remained about 150 miles offshore for several days. While in the area, the Chinese carrier conducted over 200 takeoff and landing drills.

On Thursday, Japanese officials confirmed that, after sailing away from Japan, the flotilla then traveled near the US territory of Guam. According to the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper closely linked with the country’s ruling Communist Party, the operation ”showed that the Chinese carrier is ready to defend the country against potential US attacks launched from there.”

The relationship between Washington and Beijing has continued to deteriorate in 2022, perhaps best exemplified by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan last summer and a massive round of Chinese military drills launched near the island in retaliation.

President Joe Biden has further fueled tensions by repeatedly asserting that US forces would come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of a Chinese invasion. However, Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign nation under US law, which instead endorses Beijing’s claim to the island and calls for a position of ”strategic ambiguity” towards Taipei.

While a number of past US administrations have refrained from openly saying whether Washington would intervene against China on Taiwan’s behalf, Biden has increasingly eroded that position, prompting senior White House officials to walk back his statements on multiple occasions. Proponents of strategic ambiguity contend that the policy acts as a deterrent against any future attack by Beijing, and stops short of emboldening Taipei to take aggressive actions of its own.

Biden recently met with Chinese President Xi on the sidelines of the G20 summit. While the goal was to seek to resolve various outstanding issues between the two powers, both countries continue to conduct provocative military exercises.

Tokyo – which is part a three-way security pact with Washington and Seoul created to confront Beijing – has also escalated regional tensions by announcing an end to its post-WWII defense-oriented military and plans to become the world’s third-highest weapons spender over the next five years. Moreover, the United States has worked to persuade its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to take part in its operations in Chinese-claimed waters, while Canada recently announced plans to conduct more military transits through the disputed Taiwan Strait.

Beijing has significantly deepened its security and diplomatic ties with Moscow this year, with the two allies striking a ”no limits strategic partnership” in the days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. The Asian superpowers have conducted joint drills in the waters and skies around both Japan and Taiwan in recent weeks, having just wrapped up naval exercises in the East China Sea on Tuesday. Another round of wargames on December 14 saw Chinese warships cross multiple Japanese straits as Russian fighters and bombers flew near Japanese airspace over the Sea of Japan.

Underscoring the rising hostilities, earlier this week the Pentagon released a video, captured on December 21, showing a Chinese fighter that approached an American spy plane over the South China Sea, accusing the pilot of performing an ”unsafe maneuver” that risked a collision.

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

US Arms Sales to NATO Allies Almost Double in 2022: Report

By Oleg Burunov – Samizdat – 31.12.2022

The number and price of arms sales approved by Washington to its NATO allies almost doubled in 2022 as compared to 2021, a US magazine has reported.

The outlet noted that last year, the US government approved 14 possible major arms sales to its allies in the alliance, worth about $15.5 billion. In 2022, the figure soared to 24 potential major arms sales with price tag of around $28 billion, including $1.24 billion worth of arms sales to possible new NATO member Finland.

The magazine pointed out that the data indicates that the US remains “a major arms supplier for allies in Europe in the short term,” in the midst of European defense industries’ push to “meet wartime demands for conventional arms and ammunition.”

According to the media outlet, the increase took place as NATO members scrambled “to stock up on high-end weapons” amid the ongoing Russian special military operation in Ukraine.

The outlet reported that although some of arms sales deals were negotiated years beforehand, the Russian special operation sent NATO’s European members scrambling to bump up their military spending, and to replenish vehicles, weapons, and ammunition delivered to the Ukrainian military.

Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have all ordered HIMARS Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), while the US State Department authorized earlier this month the sale of 116 M1A1 Abrams tanks to Poland, after Warsaw sent its Soviet-era T-72 and domestically-made PT-91 tanks to Kiev’s forces.

The report comes after President Joe Biden signed a new $1.7 trillion federal spending bill into law, a document that includes $858 billion in defense spending.

According to a statement released on the website of the US Senate Committee on Budget Appropriations, the so-called National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) comprises “$44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and our [America’s] NATO allies.” Since Russia launched its special operation in Ukraine on February 24, the US and its allies have supplied more than $40 billion worth of arms to Kiev. Moscow has repeatedly warned that providing Kiev with arms prolongs the Ukraine conflict.

The signing of the NDAA followed a separate US media outlet reporting about a surge in the share prices of the four largest US defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, and Pratt & Whitney.

The outlet reported that Lockheed Martin “had booked more than $950 million worth of its own missile military orders from the Pentagon in part to refill stockpiles being used in Ukraine, while Raytheon Technologies was awarded with “more than $2 billion in contracts to deliver missile systems to expand or replenish weapons used to help Ukraine.”

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

‘Türkiye agrees to withdraw troops from Syria following Moscow talks’

RT | December 31, 2022

Türkiye has agreed to fully withdraw its troops from northern Syria following tripartite talks involving Moscow, Ankara and Damascus earlier this week, Syrian newspaper Al-Watan has reported.

The three countries’ defense ministers – Hulusi Akar, Ali Mahmoud Abbas and Sergey Shoigu – met in Moscow on Wednesday for the first meeting of its kind since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

According to the paper’s source in Damascus, the negotiations resulted in “Türkiye’s consent to completely withdraw its troops from the Syrian territories that it occupies in the north of the country.”

Ankara and Damascus also expressed a common view that the Syrian-based Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey associates with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), “are agents of Israel and the US, and pose a grave threat to both Türkiye and Syria.”

Türkiye considers the separatist PKK and allied Kurdish groups to be “terrorist organizations” that threaten its national security. The Turkish military carried out airstrikes against YPG targets in northern Syria in November, with Ankara saying a ground operation in the area was also on the cards.

A special trilateral commission will be created by Russia, Türkiye and Syria to ensure that the agreements reached in Moscow are honored, Al-Watan reported.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told local media on Saturday that “one shouldn’t expect that everything will be solved at once in a single meeting.”

In Moscow, Türkiye “emphasized that we respect Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights, and that our only goal is the fight against terrorism” including the PKK/YPG and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), he said.

Ankara and Damascus have agreed to continue talks to deepen reconciliation, Akar added. He also suggested that those negotiations could even result in a joint anti-terrorist operation involving the two countries, which would happen “if we can solve our problems related to defense and security, if we can meet our needs.”

The Syrian side had earlier described the meeting in the Russian capital as “positive,” while Russia’s Defense Ministry said the talks had been conducted in a constructive manner and stressed the need for the continuation of such engagement.

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New year and new Congress won’t silence the same old war drums in Washington

By Tony Cox | RT | December 30, 2022

Every now and then, American voters get a reminder that they have no real voice in how their country is run. Mitch McConnell, the top-ranking Republican in the US Senate, made that abundantly clear a few days before Christmas, when he revealed that those constituents who wanted their real needs addressed would again be getting only coal in their stockings.

“Providing assistance for the Ukrainians to defeat the Russians, that’s the No. 1 priority for the United States right now, according to most Republicans,” the 80-year-old Kentuckian told reporters on Capitol Hill while praising the $1.7 trillion spending bill that was then sailing through Congress. “That’s sort of how we see the challenges confronting the country at the moment.”

It wasn’t entirely clear which Republicans McConnell was talking about, those folks he sees wanting — more than anything else — for our government to help kill Russians. He couldn’t have meant the Republicans who are asked to vote for Team GOP every time an election rolls around. Heading into November’s US midterm elections, the Ukraine crisis wasn’t among the top dozen issues that voters cited as major concerns, according to polling by Rasmussen Reports.

Rather, Americans were highly concerned about soaring inflation, the economy, violent crime, illegal immigration and energy policy. Only one in five respondents considered the Ukraine conflict “very important,” the lowest level among all 16 issues that Rasmussen listed. More recently, a Gallup poll conducted in December found that less than 1% of Americans see Russia as the top problem facing the US. Respondents were most troubled by their own government, inflation and the nation’s sputtering economy.

The public’s growing indifference about the Eastern European crisis shows, yet again, that the legacy media has lost its ability to set the agenda. Republicans, in fact, are beyond being merely fed up with the Ukraine hype. Many have turned against continuing to fund what some of their representatives have promoted as a “proxy war.”

A Morning Consult poll conducted just before the midterms showed that most Republicans wanted less US involvement in foreign military conflicts, fewer troop deployments overseas and reduced involvement in the affairs of other countries. Around the same time, a Wall Street Journal poll revealed that nearly half of Republican voters oppose US aid to Ukraine, up from only 6% when the same question was asked shortly after Russia’s military offensive began in February.

That message clearly didn’t get through to McConnell’s Senate Republicans, and the party failed to win control of the chamber as its candidates fared worse than expected in the midterms. In the House of Representatives, Republicans swung from a seven-seat minority to a nine-seat majority, regaining control for the first time since Democrat Nancy Pelosi (California) took the speaker’s gavel in January 2019.

The GOP’s gains came after McConnell’s counterpart in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, suggested three weeks before the midterms that Republicans might halt or slow the aid gravy train to Kiev when they regained control. “I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession, and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine.” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, went so far as to say that “not another penny will go to Ukraine” after the GOP wins back the House.

However, the tune began to change when the politicians no longer needed to beg for votes. After the midterms, senior Republican congressmen Michael McCaul (Texas) and Mike Turner (Ohio) assured an ABC News interviewer that “majorities on both sides of the aisle” will still support infinite military aid to Ukraine. McCaul even suggested that it would be perfectly fine for Ukrainian forces to attack targets in Crimea, since the US and its allies didn’t recognize the region as Russian territory.

When the $1.7 trillion spending bill, including $45 billion in additional aid for Ukraine, came up for a vote in the House on December 23, nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting for its passage. In the Senate, 18 of 50 Republicans voted in favor, giving Democrats the help they needed to pass the bill.

Republicans haven’t even been able to impose basic oversight measures on Ukraine aid, much less shrink or suspend the effort. A bill to audit the $100 billion program was defeated in the House on December 8. When GOP Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky) demanded that an oversight provision be added to a $40 billion Ukraine aid bill in May, Democrats and Republicans alike steamrolled him and pushed through their legislation.

Auditing measures might stand a better chance of passing the House with Republicans taking control of the chamber in January, but the Senate would likely block any such bill from becoming law. The Dems will get plenty of help, too, from McConnell and other neoconservative Republicans in the Senate.

Republicans and Democrats can put on a good show when it comes to transgender restroom policies and other farcical issues. But when it comes to the most non-negotiable issue in Washington, war, political polarization evaporates. The establishment uniparty can always agree to send more rocket launchers, drop more bombs and overthrow more governments.

That’s what former presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard discovered when she spoke out against US regime-change wars. Then a Hawaii Democrat branded by CNN as the “next superstar” in her party, the Iraq War veteran suddenly became persona non grata when she criticized America’s military interventions around the globe. Party leaders and media propagandists condemned her as a Russian agent. She quit the party in October.

McConnell’s mocking of Republican voters – announcing that party leaders will prioritize the exact opposite of what constituents want and gaslighting them about what they’ve asked for – marks the latest window into Washington’s broken political system. America’s supposedly representative form of government has devolved into a ruling class that governs with no regard for the best interests of the people while playing divide-and-conquer games to keep the tribes distracted and warring with each other.

Donald Trump threatened to shatter the status quo when he was elected president in 2016. Remember his pledge to “drain the swamp?” Well, the swamp won. Trump lacked the political courage to push through the “America First” agenda that he sold to voters, partly because of the Russia collusion hoax.

Although he campaigned on a pledge to “get along with Russia,” collaborating on such common interests as fighting ISIS – and voters supported him, expressing their democratic will – Trump instead played tough with Moscow. With political opponents and media outlets accusing him of being a Russian agent, Trump foolishly backed away from what he promised to voters. He bragged in 2018 that “there’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been,” as if that was a measure of success.

Russia policy was among several areas where Trump and his party declined or failed to represent voter desires and interests. Even while controlling the executive branch and both houses of Congress, the Republicans didn’t deliver on promises to build a border wall and repeal Obamacare. And less than a week after winning the 2016 election, Trump quashed any suggestion that he would actually seek to bring Hillary Clinton to justice, as his supporters wanted. The “lock her up” chants and his debate quip to the Democrat nominee that she’d be in jail if he were president were all just theatrics.

When Trump ordered an end to the US military intervention in Syria, the Pentagon essentially thumbed its nose at the commander-in-chief. To this day, hundreds of US troops remain in Syria, without legal justification and in violation of that nation’s sovereignty.

Trump’s signature legislative achievement was a $1.5 trillion tax cut. The federal budget deficit continued to rise, and the nation’s southern border remained porous. Deportations of illegal aliens were lower during Trump’s term, on average, than during Barack Obama’s eight years as president.

It wasn’t the first time. For decades, Republicans have campaigned on promises to secure the border, but even when the GOP controlled the Congress and the White House, the illegal immigration crisis only got worse. Just as the ruling establishment demands that the war machine be kept humming, it insists on a steady inflow of cheap, illegal labor, suppressing the wages of US citizens.

These policies clearly aren’t in the interests of rank-and-file Americans. Nor does it help US taxpayers – or the Ukrainian people – to prolong the fighting in Eastern Europe by sanctioning Moscow and continuing to funnel billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Kiev. Nor was it in our interests to help overthrow Ukraine’s elected government in 2014 and undermine Russia’s national security by pushing for Kiev to join NATO.

Voters can plainly see that the results of these tactics are ruinous. Consumers in the West, especially Western Europe, face a dark, cold and hungry winter amid energy shortages and the highest inflation rates in 40 years. Not to worry, though, because McConnell, President Joe Biden and other members of the pro-war uniparty insist that this struggle more than justifies the sacrifices they’re imposing on everyone.

You see, they say, we have a “moral obligation” to defend freedom and democracy in Ukraine. Never mind that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s corrupt regime has banned political opposition, shut down all independent media outlets and persecuted the country’s largest church. In the eyes of Washington’s uniparty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom to politically oppose the ruling party aren’t necessary components of a free and democratic country.

So we enter a new year with a new Congress and the same old sacred cows in Washington. The bigger problem this time is that escalating US involvement in Ukraine is pushing us all closer to a planet-ending war with Russia, holder of the world’s largest nuclear weapons arsenal. The stakes are higher than when Washington launches an illegal invasion in the Middle East or imports a few million additional illegal aliens.

With such politicians as Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, calling for regime change in Moscow, the uniparty’s latest gambit in defiance of voter interests could cost us all a lot more than higher inflation and lower wages.

Tony Cox is a US journalist who has written or edited for Bloomberg and several major daily newspapers.

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Russophobia | | 3 Comments

Profit over Population Health – Aseem Malhotra

Ivor Cummins | April 15, 2018

December 31, 2022 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment