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Iran Rescues 44 Sailors From Two Oil Tankers After Suspected Attack in Gulf of Oman − Reports

Sputnik – June 13, 2019

Iranian rescue services saved 44 sailors from tankers after a reported attack and took them to the Iranian port of Jask, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet also said that it was assisting two oil tankers targeted in a “reported attack” near the Strait of Hormuz, after the vessels sent distress calls.

It was not immediately clear who attacked the vessels, one of which has been identified as Front Altair, a crude oil tanker owned by Norway’s Frontline and carrying the flag of the Marshall Islands.

According to shipping newspaper Tradewinds, Frontline’s oil tanker had been “torpedoed” off the coast of the Emirate of Fujairah.

Taiwan’s energy firm CPC said it had suspicions that Front Altair, which was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha, was hit by an unknown object.

Meanwhile, shipping company Bernhard Schulte said that its oil tanker Kokuka Courageous was also damaged in the incident. Kokuka was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol.

“The hull has been breached above the water line on the starboard side,” the company said in a statement. “All crew are reported safe and only one minor injury reported.”

Eerlier in the day, Iran’s Press TV said that two successive blasts affected two oil tankers on Thursday morning in what it described as “attacks”.

Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet quoted Oman authorities as saying that at least one tanker had been attacked in Iran’s territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman.

Brent crude climbed 4.5 per cent in the wake of the reports.

Meanwhile, the UK Maritime Trade Operations, a maritime safety group run by the Royal Navy, has warned about an unspecified incident in the Gulf of Oman between the Emirate of Fujairah and Iran’s coast. The group urged “extreme caution”, given the ongoing tensions in the region between the United States and Iran, and said that an investigation is underway.

It comes a month after another apparent attack on vessels in the Gulf. On 12 May, four oil tankers — two Saudi, one Emirati and one Norwegian — were targeted off the coast of Fujairah in what the UAE Foreign Ministry described as acts of sabotage.

The three countries whose ships were damaged said in a joint statement that limped mines had been placed in a “sophisticated and coordinated operation” by divers. The UAE suggested that it was likely the work of a “state actor” but stop short of identifying the culprit.

US officials, however, were quick to point the finger at Iran. “It’s clear that Iran is behind the Fujairah attack. Who else would you think would be doing it? Someone from Nepal?” said US National Security Adviser John Bolton.

In turn, US Secretary of State Pompeo alleged that Iran had attacked the tankers to raise the global price of oil.

Tehran has denied any involvement and called for an investigation.

June 13, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | 2 Comments

Iran Calls Reported Oil Tanker Attack in Gulf of Oman ‘More Than Suspicious’

Sputnik – 13.06.2019

On Thursday morning, reports emerged that two tankers were damaged near the Strait of Hormuz. It comes at a time of heightened tensions in the Middle East and just a month after four vessels were affected in a similar incident off the Emirati coast.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has seemingly hinted that Thursday’s reported attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman had something to do with Japan’s efforts to advance the peace process in the Middle East.

“Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM Shinzo Abe was meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei for extensive and friendly talks,” Zarif tweeted.

“‘Suspicious’ doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” he added.

Iran’s government spokesman, Ali Rabei, said Tehran was ready for regional cooperation to ensure the security of strategic waterways. “All countries in the region should be careful not to fall in the trap of those who benefit from regional insecurity,” he said.

On Thursday, two oil tankers operated by shipping companies Frontline and Bernhard Schulte were damaged in a suspected attack near the Strait of Hormuz, the most important oil artery in the world.

No casualties have been reported; the Bahrain-based US Navy 5th Fleet said it was assisting the tanker, while Iranian rescuers, according to local media, have saved and transported 44 crew members to an Iranian port.

Japan’s Trade Ministry said that the two tankers were carrying “Japan-related” cargo, without providing further details.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting Iran as part of his effort to reduce tensions between the Islamic Republic and the United States. Abe noted on Wednesday that he and Iranian President Rouhani had ‘bluntly discussed’ how to reduce Iran-US tensions.

A similar yet-unsolved incident took place in the Gulf of Oman in mid-May, when four commercial vessels − among them two Saudi oil tankers − were damaged by limpet mines. UAE investigators blamed the attack on a “state actor” but failed to identify the culprit.

The United States, which is embroiled in an escalating war of words with Iran, was quick to accuse the Islamic Republic of orchestrating the attack, which the latter denied.

June 13, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | | 6 Comments

Pence Goes to War: America Will Be Fighting Forever

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | June 13, 2019

On May 25th Vice President Mike Pence was the featured speaker at the United States Military Academy commencement. His speech was predictably an encomium celebrating both the diversity and the success of the newly commissioned officers as well as of the system at West Point that had produced them, but it also included interesting insights into how he and the other non-veterans who dominate the policy making in the White House see the military.

Most media commentary on the speech was either shocked or pleasantly surprised by Pence’s prediction that the graduating officers would soon be at war. He said “It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen. Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region. Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere. And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns and do your duty, and you will fight, and you will win. The American people expect nothing less. So, wherever you’re called, I urge you to take what you learned here and put it into practice. Put your armor on, so that when — not if — that day comes, you’ll be able to stand your ground.”

Pence may or may not have known that military academy graduates have only a five-year active duty commitment after graduation. Many do not stay in the service after that point, instead using their security clearances and resumes to obtain well paying positions with defense and national security contractors. If Pence was aware of that five-year window, he was implying that he expects multiple wars will involve the United States during his own remaining time in office, assuming that he and President Donald Trump are reelected in 2020. He might even be assuming that war is inevitable no matter who is in the driver’s seat in the White House because America’s numerous enemies, which he identified, cannot otherwise be dissuaded from their “nefarious behavior.”

Pence’s choice of words is revealing. There is a “virtual certainty” of “fight[ing] on a battlefield for America” and that battlefield is global, including both transnational Islamic terrorism and the western hemisphere. The language implies that American security requires “full spectrum dominance” everywhere. It encompasses traditional national enemies, with a Pyongyang that “threatens peace,” a China that is “militarized,” and a Russia that is both “aggressive” and expansionistic. The soldiers must be prepared to fight “when – not if – that day comes.”

First of all, it is discouraging to note that Pence believes that a war or wars must take place, and further, one must have to wonder exactly what scenarios are envisioned by Pence, and also presumably by his boss and colleagues, regarding precisely how war against other nuclear powers will play out. Nor does he entertain what would happen when the rest of the world begins to perceive the United States at its enemy due to its willingness to interfere in everyone’s politics. And the American soldiers would die not knowing what they were fighting for, since they would understand from the onset that it had nothing to do with the defense of the United States.

The speech is, in short, a recognition that the Trump Administration sees perpetual war on the horizon, a viewpoint that is particularly alarming as one can quite easily make the case that the United States is not seriously threatened at all by anyone on Pence’s enemies list and is therefore the aggressor. China is a regional power, Russia does not have the resources or will to reestablish the Soviet Union, and North Korea has only limited capability to attack anyone, even if it should choose to do so. Islamic terrorism is largely a creation of the United States in the first place and maintains its potency by the adverse impact of the continued US presence in Muslim lands. And the suggestion that Venezuela and/or Cuba might be a threat to America is, quite frankly, laughable.

If Mike Pence is seriously interested in looking around to see who has been most interested in starting new wars, he should look to gentlemen named Bush and Obama, not to mention his own colleagues John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. And then there are Washington’s feckless allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are keen to advance their own interests by means of piles of dead American soldiers.

Is there no one around to question why exactly American soldiers are sent to die in so many places that can hardly be found on a map? Or to ask what the compelling national interests might be to require sending soldiers to such God-forsaken death pits? One can be sure that the newly minted Army officers that Pence addressed have no desire to be killed in Mali, but it would take a brave young man or woman to speak the truth if asked by a senior officer.

And Pence unfortunately has many friends who believe in force majeure as he does on Capitol Hill. Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on Fox News Sunday the day after the Vice President spoke and said “I would give Cuba an ultimatum to get out of Venezuela. If they don’t, I would let the Venezuelan military know, you got to choose between democracy and Maduro, and if you choose Maduro and Cuba, we are coming after you. This is in our backyard.”

It should be clearly understood Pence, Graham and Pompeo are all calling for wars of choice, where the military is being used as an option rather than diplomacy in a situation where there is no imminent threat. Iraq, Syria and Libya are examples of such wars and all three have turned out very badly. And then there is the moral dimension. By the standard set by the Nuremberg Trials after World War 2, initiating an armed conflict in that fashion is a war crime. Indeed, it is the ultimate war crime as it brings so many evils with it. Mike Pence’s vision of America the perpetual war criminal is not something to be proud of.

June 13, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 1 Comment

UK Rights Group’s Legal Challenge Shows MI5 Illegally Preserved Surveillance Data

Sputnik – 12.06.2019

The ongoing legal challenge of UK human rights group Liberty over data privacy breaches committed by MI5 has revealed new details about the violations, showing that the security service has been failing to remove collected bulk surveillance data on time and received surveillance warrants based on knowingly false information.

Under the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), MI5 has the authority to collect, upon authorization, personal data of a large number of innocent people and store it for potential future investigations. Security services, however, cannot store such data indefinitely: they are obliged to delete it within certain time limits.

Documents released during a court hearing on Tuesday showed that the MI5 legal team said, as quoted by the Liberty, that there is “a high likelihood [of material] being discovered when it should have been deleted, in a disclosure exercise leading to substantial legal or oversight failure.”

Moreover, a senior official from the intelligence service said that people’s personal data was being kept in “ungoverned spaces,” the rights group said in a statement, published on its official website.

“These shocking revelations expose how MI5 has been illegally mishandling our data for years, storing it when they have no legal basis to do so. This could include our most deeply sensitive information – our calls and messages, our location data, our web browsing history,” Liberty lawyer Megan Goulding said, as quoted by the rights group.

Investigatory Powers Commissioner and Lord Justice Adrian Fulford, who is responsible for verifying that the security services respect data privacy provisions laid out in the IPA, described MI5’s actions as “undoubtedly unlawful.”

“Without seeking to be emotive, I consider that MI5’s use of warranted data … is currently, in effect, in ‘special measures’ and the historical lack of compliance … is of such gravity that IPCO [Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office] will need to be satisfied to a greater degree than usual that it is ‘fit for purpose'” Fulford said as quoted by the Liberty website.

According to the rights group, the commissioner said that the intelligence would have never obtained permissions for their surveillance activities if the watchdog had known that MI5 was violating the IPA.

“Warrants for bulk surveillance were issued by senior judges (known as Judicial Commissioners) on the understanding that MI5’s data handling obligations under the IPA were being met – when they were not,” Liberty said.

The rights group raised the alarm about MI5’s violations in May, prompting the investigatory powers commissioner to start an investigation into the matter.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Why Didn’t Mueller Investigate Seth Rich?

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | June 12, 2019

After bungling every last aspect of Russia-gate since the day the pseudo-scandal broke, the corporate press is now seizing on the Mueller report to shut down debate on one of the key questions still outstanding from the 2016 presidential election: the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

Slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. (LinkedIn)

No one knows who killed Rich in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2016.  All we know is that he was found at 4:19 a.m. in the Bloomingdale neighborhood “with apparent gunshot wound(s) to the back” according to the police report. Conscious and still breathing, he was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:57.

Police have added to the confusion by releasing information only in the tiniest dribs and drabs. Rich’s mother, Mary, told local TV news that her son struggled with his assailants: “His hands were bruised, his knees are bruised, his face is bruised, and yet he had two shots to his back, and yet they never took anything…. They took his life for literally no reason. They didn’t finish robbing him, they just took his life.”

But cops said shortly after the killing that they had no immediate indication that robbery was a motive. Despite his mother’s report of two shots in the back, all the local medical examiner would say is that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the torso. According to Rich’s brother, Aaron, Jeff “was very aware, very talkative,” when police found him lying on the pavement. Yet cops have refused to say if he described his assailant. A month later, they put out a statement that “there is no indication that Seth Rich’s death is connected to his employment at the DNC,” refusing to elaborate.

The result is a scattering of disconnected facts that can be used to support just about any theory from a random killing to a political assassination. Nonetheless, Robert Mueller is dead certain that the murder had nothing to do with the emails — just as he was dead certain in 2003 that Iraq was bristling with weapons of mass destruction “pos[ing] a clear threat to our national security.”

Mueller’s Theory About Assange ‘Dissembling’

Mueller is equally positive that, merely by expressing concern that the murder may have had something to do with the release of thousands of DNC emails less than two weeks later, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was trying to protect the real source, which of course is Russia.

Here’s how the Mueller report puts it:

“Beginning in the summer of 2016, Assange and WikiLeaks made a number of statements about Seth Rich, a former DNC staff member who was killed in July 2016. The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails. On August 9, 2016, the @WikiLeaks Twitter accounted posted: ‘ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks has decided to issue a US$20k reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.’

Likewise, on August 25, 2016, Assange was asked in an interview, ‘Why are you so interested in Seth Rich’s killer?’ and responded, ‘We’re very interested in anything that might be a threat to alleged WikiLeaks sources.’ The interviewer responded to Assange’s statement by commenting, ‘I know you don’t want to reveal your source, but it certainly sounds like you’re suggesting a man who leaked information to WikiLeaks was then murdered.’

Assange replied, ‘If there’s someone who’s potentially connected to our publication, and that person has been murdered in suspicious, circumstances, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the two are connected. But it is a very serious matter … that type of allegation is very serious, as it’s taken very seriously by us’” (vol. 1, pp. 48-49).

This is what the Mueller report calls “dissembling.” The conclusion caused jubilation in corporate newsrooms where hostility to both Russia and WikiLeaks runs high. “The Seth Rich conspiracy theory needs to end now,” declared Vox.com. “The special counsel’s report confirmed this week that Seth Rich … was not the source,” said The New York Times. “The Mueller report might not end the debate over what President Donald Trump did,” the Poynter Institute’s Politifact added, “but it has scuttled one conspiracy theory involving a murdered Democratic party staffer and WikiLeaks.”

One Conspiracy Theory for Another

But all the Mueller report did was replace one conspiracy theory with another involving the Kremlin and its minions that is equally unconvincing.

Remarkably, there’s nothing in the Mueller report indicating that the special counselor independently reviewed the forensic evidence or questioned family members and friends. He certainly didn’t interview Assange, the person in the best position to know who supplied the data, even though Craig Murray, the ex-British diplomat who serves as an unofficial WikiLeaks spokesman, says the WikiLeaks founder would have been “very willing to give evidence to Mueller” while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, “which could have been done by video-link, by interview in the Embassy, or by written communication.”

Murray says Mueller’s team made no effort to contact him either even though he has publicly stated that he met clandestinely with an associate of the leaker near the American University campus in Washington.

Why not? Because Mueller didn’t want anything that might disturb his a priori assumption that Russia is the guilty party. If he had bucked the intelligence community finding – set forth in a formal assessment in January 2017 – that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign aimed at undermining Hillary Clinton’s candidacy — it would have been front-page news since an anti-Trump press had already accepted the assessment as gospel. But Mueller is far too much of an establishmentarian to do anything so reckless.

So he selected evidence in support of the official theory that “[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” as the report states on its very first page.  And since Assange had consistently maintained that the data was the result of an inside leak rather than internal hack and that “[o]ur source is not the Russian government,” he cherry picked evidence to show that Assange is a liar, not only about Russia but about Seth Rich.

Cryptic Exchange

It’s a self-serving myth that corporate media have swallowed whole because it serves their interests too. One problem in exposing it, however, is Assange’s pledge – intrinsic to the WikiLeaks mission – to safeguard the identities of whistleblowers who furnish it with information. The upshot has been a good deal of beating around the bush. A month after the murder, the WikiLeaks founder appeared on a Dutch program called “Nieuwsuur” and took part in a cryptic exchange with journalist Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal:

Assange: Whistle blowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks. There’s a 27-year-old – works for the DNC – who was shot in the back, murdered, just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington, so….

Rosenthal: That was just a robbery, I believe, wasn’t it?

Assange: No, there’s no finding, so –

Rosenthal: What are you suggesting?

Assange: I’m suggesting that our sources take risks, and they become concerned to see things occurring like that.

Rosenthal: But was he one of your sources then? I mean –

Assange: We don’t comment about who our sources are.

Rosenthal: But why make the suggestion about a young guy being shot in the streets of Washington?

Assange: Because we have to understand how high the stakes are in the United States and that our sources, you know, face serious risks. That’s why they come to us – so we can protect their anonymity.

Rosenthal: But it’s quite something to suggest a murder.  That’s basically what you’re doing.

This was as close as Assange could come to confirming that Rich was tied up with the leak without actually saying it. Hours later, WikiLeaks tweeted about the $20k reward.

Four months after that, Craig Murray told the Libertarian Institute’s Scott Horton: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that he [Rich] was the source of the leaks. What I’m saying is that it’s probably not an unfair indication to draw that WikiLeaks believe[s] that he may have been killed by someone who thought he was the source of the leaks.” (Quote begins at 11:20.)

Thanks to such foggy rhetoric, it was all but inevitable that conspiracy theories would ignite. Two months after the killing, an ultra-conservative talk-radio host named Jack Burkman – best known for organizing a protest campaign against the Dallas Cowboys’ hiring of an openly gay football player named Michael Sam – approached members of the Rich family and offered to launch an investigation in their behalf.

The family said yes, but then backed off when Burkman grandly announced that the murder was a Kremlin hit. Things turned even more bizarre a year later when Kevin Doherty, an ex-Marine whom Burkman had hired to look into the case, lured his ex-boss to a Marriott hotel in Arlington, Virginia, where he shot him twice in the buttocks and then tried to run him down with a rented SUV. Doherty received a nine-year sentence last December.

The rightwing Washington Times meanwhile reported that WikiLeaks had paid Seth and Aaron Rich an undisclosed sum, a story it was forced to retract, and Fox News named Seth as the source as well. (A sympathetic judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Rich family on technical grounds.) But still the speculation bubbled on, with conservative nuts blaming everyone from ex-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to acting DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and Bill and Hillary themselves.

All of which plays into the hands of a corporate press happy to write off any and all suspicion as a product of alt-right paranoia.

But if speculation refuses to die, it’s for a simple reason. If the DNC email disclosure was a hack, then Rich clearly had nothing to do with it, which means his death was no more than a robbery gone awry. But if it was a leak, then – based on broad hints dropped by Assange and Murray – it looks like the story could well be more complicated. This proves nothing in and of itself. But it guarantees that questions will grow as long as the Washington police make zero progress in its investigation and the Mueller report continues to fall apart.

And that’s just what’s happening. Mueller’s account of how Russian intelligence supposedly supplied WikiLeaks with stolen data makes no sense because, according to the report’s chronology, the transfer left WikiLeaks with just four days to review some 28,000 emails and other electronic documents to make sure that they were genuine and unaltered – a clear impossibility. (See “The ‘Guccifer 2.0’ Gaps in Mueller’s Full Report,” April 18.)

The FBI assessment that Paul Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik “has ties to Russian intelligence” – which Mueller cites (vol. 1, p. 133) in order to justify holding Manafort in solitary confinement during the Russia-gate investigation – is similarly disintegrating amid reports that Kilimnik actually served as an important State Department intelligence source.

So the idea of a hack makes less and less sense and an inside leak seems more and more plausible, which is why questions about the Rich case will not go away. Bottom line: you don’t have to be a loony rightist to suspect that there is more to the murder than Robert Mueller would like us to believe.

Daniel Lazare is the author of “The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy” (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics. He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nation to Le Monde Diplomatique and blogs about the Constitution and related matters at Daniellazare.com.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

India & Israel Are Officially Diplomatic Allies At The UN

By Andrew Korybko | EurasiaFuture | 2019-06-12

India just made history at the UN earlier this week, but in what’s sure to be interpreted as an ignoble way by the supporters of the emerging Multipolar World Order. Encouraged by the massive mandate that he received after his resounding re-election last month, Modi gave the go-ahead for his government to break with decades of its post-independence political traditions by unprecedentedly supporting “Israel” at the global body and voting against granting consultative status to a Palestinian NGO that allegedly has ties with Hamas.

The self-professed “Jewish State’s” deputy chief of mission in India praised this diplomatic pivot by tweeting “Thank you #India for standing with @IsraelinUN and rejecting the request of terrorist organization “Shahed” to obtain the status of an observer in #UN. Together we will continue to act against terrorist organizations that intend to harm”, in what certainly signifies that Modi’s second term in office will see his country more determinedly siding with the fading Unipolar World Order at the multipolar one’s expense.

India had hithero been trying to make inroads with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), but its hopes for future progress on this front have likely been dashed by the self-inflicted soft power damage that it just did by diplomatically allying with “Israel” at the UN. Although Resistance leader Iran continues to beg India to reconsider its decision to abide by the US’ unilateral sanctions regime against it, it’ll now be doing so with the full knowledge that the South Asian state is officially one of its hated “Israeli” foes’ key allies in thwarting the attempts of the Palestinians to have a greater global voice in publicizing their plight. This would make the Islamic Republic’s further outreaches to India even more humiliating than before, possibly raising the chance that it might finally give up in order to save “face” and protect its hard-earned and very proud reputation as the world’s leading anti-Zionist state.

In parallel with this, the global pivot state of Pakistan is now by default the most prominent pro-Palestinian voice in South Asia, especially after Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari recently promised that her country will continue supporting the Palestinians and urged all her Muslim counterparts to do so as well. The fact of the matter is that the Palestinian and Kashmiri causes are inseparable because they’re essentially one and the same — the indigenous Muslim majority of each region have been oppressed by foreign occupiers for decades and have yet to be granted the right to democratically decide their own political futures. Actually, it’s precisely because of these interlinked conflicts that India and “Israel” initially began to ally with one another because they play the same roles in each of them. Accordingly, they’ve increased military cooperation to such a point that “Israel” is now India’s second-largest military supplier and India is “Israel’s” top arms destination.

It therefore shouldn’t be any surprise that India decided to add an official diplomatic dimension to its already-existing military-strategic alliance with “Israel” by supporting it at the UN against the Palestinians. Seeing as how the Indian side hasn’t protested the “Israeli” deputy chief of mission’s tweet thanking it for “rejecting the request of terrorist organization ‘Shahed’” and vowing that “together we will continue to act against terrorist organizations that intend to harm”, it can be logically assumed that New Delhi informally regards Hamas and all those allegedly affiliated with it as “terrorists”, which is only natural considering how fast its alliances with the US and “Israel” are progressing. As such, whether it concerns Russia, China, Iran, or even the Palestinian cause nowadays, India is no longer practicing its over-hyped policy of “multi-alignment” but is instead decisively pivoting against each of the aforesaid multipolar forces despite still clinging to this slogan in an unconvincing attempt to cover its tracks.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Munk School of Global Affairs feeds anti-Iran propaganda

Fifth-Anniversary-Of-The-Munk-School-Of-Global-Affairs@2x

By Yves Engler · June 12, 2019

Sometimes, when you pay attention, it is easy to see how foreign policy propaganda works. Take the case of Iran.

Recently the US has choked off Iranian oil exports, listed its military a terrorist organization and dispatched an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to its environs to stop Iran’s “aggression”. Going along with Donald Trump’s warlike actions and rhetoric, Justin Trudeau’s government has broken a promise to restart diplomatic relations, failed to withdraw Iran from Canada’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and recently accused Tehran of destabilizing the region.

This is the context in which the Munk School of Global Affairs’ Citizen Lab released a recent report criticizing Iran. According to Citizen Lab, an Iran-aligned group dubbed Endless Mayfly impersonated major media sites, used fake Twitter accounts to spread false articles and targeted journalists with fake stories. Its report noted, “initial reporting on some of the inauthentic articles speculated that Endless Mayfly may have links to Russia; however, based on the evidence gathered from our investigation we conclude with moderate confidence that Endless Mayfly is Iran-aligned and has been operational since at least early 2016.”

The University of Toronto based lab’s accusations were picked up by dozens of media outlets around the world. A New York Times headline read: “Report Shows How a Pro-Iran Group Spread Fake News Online” while the Globe and Mail noted “New Citizen Lab report suggests Iran spreads fake news.”

But, the report’s concluding section titled “Narratives fit Iranian interests, propaganda” isn’t convincing. One reason it claims Iran was responsible for the initiative is that “framing Saudi Arabia as a creator and supporter of global Islamist terrorism is also a very common theme in Endless Mayfly content and is consistent with recent rhetoric from Iran’s top-ranking officials.” But, Iranian officials certainly aren’t the only ones who claim Saudi Arabia contributes significantly to Islamic terror.

While the media mostly covered Citizen Lab’s claims uncritically, its positions on Iran should be viewed with significant skepticism. This ‘lab’ has produced a stream of reports critical of Iran and, in fact, is part of a government funded effort to destabilize that country. In March Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert co-authored “Censors Get Smart: Evidence from Psiphon in Iran.” Previously, Citizen Lab published “Group 5: Syria and the Iran Connection”, which described a malware operation targeting Syrian opposition figures that purportedly came from Iran. The Lab published After the Green Movement: Internet Controls in Iran, 2009-2012 and in 2015 they detailed hacking of Iranian dissidents. While Citizen Lab carefully avoided naming a culprit, their press release hyped the matter and a number of media reports implied Iranian authorities were responsible.

Deibert is a regular at anti-Iranian events. He spoke at a Toronto International Film Festival screening of a movie about the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran and a 2012 Walrus article described a “network of local Farsi speakers linked to Deibert and Psiphon.”

With early financial support from the Ford Foundation, Donner Canadian Foundation and Open Society Institute, Citizen Lab developed software to bypass government censors. It worked with Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Farda in Iran to disseminate its Psiphon technology to Iranian dissidents. A 2018 Vice story titled “This App Is Helping Iranians Beat Tehran’s Internet Censorship” described Psiphon’s growth in Iran. It noted, “the lab, and the school, has spent years devising various ways to improve civic engagement in Iran, especially online, with some financial support from the Canadian government.”

The Munk School of Global Affairs joined the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ low-level war against Iran. After severing diplomatic ties and designating Iran a state sponsor of terrorism in 2012, Foreign Affairs ploughed $250,000 into the Munk School’s Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran. The aim of the initiative was to foment opposition to the regime and help connect dissidents inside and outside Iran. Employing cutting-edge Internet strategies, the Iran Dialogue was launched at a two-day conference kicked off by foreign minister John Baird. Some Iranian Canadians criticized the 2013 Global Dialogue on Iran. In a letter to Munk School head Janice Stein, who was awarded an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University “in tribute to her unwavering devotion to Israel”, the president of the Iranian Canadian Community Council Niaz Salimi wrote: “Conspicuously absent from the event were experts, academics, political activists, students, bloggers, journalists and members of the Iranian diaspora (including those of the Iranian-Canadian community) whose views on Iran do not fully concur with the positions of the Harper government.”

The Munk School has been a hub of anti-Iranian activity. A senior research fellow until recently, Mark Dubowitz was dubbed “The Man Who Fights Iran” by Ynet, Israel’s largest English language news site. Alongside his position at the Munk School, Dubowitz was executive director of the extremist pro-Israel Foundation for Defense of Democracies where he led its campaign against the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal. In 2011 Dubowitz said, “the best way [to end Iran’s nuclear program] is to work toward changing the regime.”

Expanding the Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran, Foreign Affairs gave the Munk School $9 million in 2015 to establish the Digital Public Square project. The federal support “will enable the Munk School to create our new Digital Public Square, a square designed for citizens who cannot come together physically to exchange ideas about the future of their country,” Munk School head Janice Stein said. The countries cited were Iran, Syria, Iraq and Russia. There was no mention of employing digital technologies to undermine online censorship in equally, or more, repressive allies such as Rwanda, Jordan, Honduras or Saudi Arabia.

This is one-way Canadian propaganda works: Establish who your enemies are — generally defined by big corporations, rich people and whoever is in power in Washington — attempt to destabilize their “regimes”, then accuse their governments of interfering in your affairs.

Citizen Lab’s recent report criticizing Iran is part of a government funded effort to demonize that country, which could be a step towards a military assault.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

US Treasury Dept imposes new Iran-related sanctions on 2 individuals and a company in Iraq

RT | June 12, 2019

The US Treasury Department announced sanctions on Wednesday against two Iraq-based persons and one company, for their alleged links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Makki Kazim and Mohammed Hussein, along with the South Wealth Resources Company have all been hit with secondary sanctions, according to the Treasury Department website.

Secondary sanctions form a major part of US international statecraft, cutting off businesses and individuals from the US financial system and tarnishing their reputations with international businesses and banks. A number of measures can be enforced against targeted individuals, ranging from limiting their ability to do business in the US to prohibiting all US parties from conducting business with them.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

UK report on ‘human rights’ forgets to mention Saudi Arabia in section on Yemen war

RT | June 12, 2019

The UK has published its annual human rights report, but with some notable omissions in its section on Yemen’s war – namely the identity of the country bombing its civilians, and the UK’s own involvement in the conflict.

The 2018 “Human Rights & Democracy”report from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) includes an almost 800-word section on the humanitarian situation in Yemen – but, to a reader unfamiliar with the specifics, the document offers few clues as to who bears most responsibility for the crisis, since the British report seems to have forgotten to mention some key details.
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The FCO report laments that the “human rights situation worsened in Yemen in 2018” and “the conflict in the country has had a devastating effect.” It then details the estimated numbers of lives lost and displaced citizens according to UN statistics, but doesn’t seem eager to pin blame on anyone in particular, laying responsibility at the feet of “multiple parties.”

“Multiple parties across the country committed a wide range of human rights abuses and violations.”

Yet, a UN investigative report last year found that airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition had caused “most of the documented civilian casualties” in the country – and said the indiscriminate strikes had hit “residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.”

The UN also criticized the Saudi coalition’s sea and air blockades, which, it argued, could violate international humanitarian law, and called on the “international community” to “refrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflict.”

But who is providing arms? The FCO report is quiet on that front, too.

It has been estimated that the UK sold more than £4.7 billion-worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since its bombing of Yemen began in 2015. British arms sales to Riyadh account for nearly half of the UK’s major weapons exports. Calls for an end to Britain’s direct complicity in the war have fallen on deaf ears.

Former UK foreign secretary –and frontrunner for the Tory leadership– Boris Johnson recommended that the UK sell British bomb parts to Riyadh, immediately after an airstrike had hit a potato factory, killing 14 people, UK media reported this week, after emails obtained by arms trade expert Dr Anna Stavrianakis, through an FOI request, revealed Johnson’s enthusiasm for the sale. In justifying the sale, the FCO’s Arms Policy Export Team argued that there was no “clear risk” that the weapons would be used to violate humanitarian law and said the UK had “confidence” in the Saudi’s “dynamic targeting processes.”

The day after Johnson recommended the sale, a village school was hit in another airstrike, killing 10 children and injuring 20. Johnson’s successor, current UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has incredibly argued that it would be “morally bankrupt” for the UK to stop arming the Saudis, because if it did, “the people of Yemen would be the biggest losers.”

Yet, the FCO report praises what it calls the UK’s“continued commitment to improving the overall human rights situation” in the country and touts its provision of “emergency cash assistance” to vulnerable displaced women and girls, as well as a UK programme aiming to “increase Yemeni women’s inclusion in the peace process.”

The one (and only) mention of Saudi Arabia came more than halfway through the section on Yemen – a tepid line on the use of secret prisons “in areas under the Saudi-led coalition’s control” – inserted without any context as to who makes up the coalition, who supports it and what it is doing.

The report then quickly switches back to self-praise mode, with the FCO promising that the UK “will continue to lead international efforts to work towards an end to the conflict.”

The section on UK ally Saudi Arabia itself begins by lauding the “positive trajectory of social reform” in the country and condemns various continued human rights violations, but makes no mention of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Bolton’s Long Goodbye

By John Kiriakou • Consortium News • June 12, 2019

John Bolton’s days as national security advisor are apparently numbered—for reasons that have all played out in the press, says John Kiriakou.

Everybody in America knows that Donald Trump places a premium on what he considers to be “loyalty.” You’re either with him or against him. The White House staff has been a revolving door from virtually the start of his administration. It’s not unusual for aides to last mere weeks or months, only to then be thrown out on the street.

Trump then inevitably says something about “loyalty.”

The situation isn’t unique to just the White House political and domestic policy staff. It is just as pervasive at the National Security Council. Nobody is sacred. Remember, you’re either with him or against him. Now it’s John Bolton’s turn to find himself in a corner. I believe that his days as national security advisor are numbered—for reasons that have all played out in the press.

I’m one of those people—not at all unique in Washington—who has contacts and friends all over the political spectrum, including in the Trump Administration. After work and over drinks, they like to vent. What they are telling me privately is what other Washington insiders are telling the conservative press. The White House, and especially the National Security Council, are in disarray. And Bolton will soon be fired.

Bolton-Centric

The right-wing Washington Examiner reported this week that Bolton acknowledged these reports, but in a back-handed way. He said in a Wall Street Journal podcast that he believes five countries are spreading “lies about dysfunction in the Trump administration.” Those countries are North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and China. That’s laughable.

What Bolton is saying is that there is a vast and incredibly well-coordinated international conspiracy that includes some of the most important countries in the world, the main purpose of which is to embarrass him. That sounds perfectly rational, right?

Of course, a more rational person might conclude that Bolton has done a terrible job, that the people around him have done a terrible job, that he has aired his disagreements with Trump in the media, and that the President is angry about it. That’s the more likely scenario.

Here’s what my friends are saying. Trump is concerned, like any president is near the end of his term, about his legacy. He said during the campaign that he wanted to be the president who pulled the country out of its two longest wars. He wanted to declare victory and bring the troops back from Afghanistan and Iraq. He hasn’t done that, largely at the insistence of Bolton. Here we are three years later and we’re still stuck in both of those countries.

Second, my friends say that Trump wants to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, but that Bolton has been insistent that the only way to guarantee the closeness of the U.S. relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is to keep providing those countries with weapons, aerial refueling planes, and intelligence support.

Obsessed With Iran

That would explain the reason why the White House did not seek to block the recent Congressional vote on Yemen support. Bolton likely talked Trump into vetoing the resolution. Or he talked the Saudis into talking Trump into it. Still, at least in internal deliberations, Trump has said that he simply doesn’t see a national security reason to keep the war going. The U.S. gets nothing out of it.

Third, the mainstream media has accused Bolton of being the reason behind the failure of Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Bolton towed a hard line, so much so that the North Korean media called him a “war monger” and a “human defect” once the summit ended.

This week Trump told reporters gathered on the White House south lawn that Kim had “kept his word” on nuclear and missile testing. This was a direct contradiction of Bolton, who had said just hours earlier that the North Koreans had reneged on their commitments to the U.S. Trump said simply, “My people think there could have been a violation. I view it differently.”

Most importantly, Bolton has been famous for decades for his irrationally hard line on Iran. He has made no secret of his desire to bomb Iran into the stone age, to smash and overthrow its government, and to let the chips fall where they may. The policy makes literally no sense.

Iran is a country of 80 million people. It has an active and well-trained global intelligence service. It has a robust navy with highly-specialized “swift boats” that are active in the Persian Gulf. And it controls the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil and 33 percent of its liquified natural gas flows.

Trump said just a week ago that he was willing to begin talks with the Iranians “with no preconditions.” This was a major softening of U.S. policy toward Iran and it immediately drew Bolton’s ire. Indeed, The New York Times pointed out that the policy directly “overruled a longtime goal of (Trump’s) national security advisor.”

All of this has made Trump angry. He’s constantly being one-upped by one of the Washington swamp monsters he promised to rid the city of. He finally seems to have come to realize that even establishment Republicans dislike and distrust John Bolton. And now he understands why.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff, has very quietly and discreetly begun informal meetings with a list of a half-dozen possible replacements for Bolton. Let’s hope he finds one that he and Trump both like sooner, rather than later.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | | 3 Comments

Moldova to move embassy to Jerusalem

MEMO | June 12, 2019

Moldova has announced that it will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move which would make it the first European country to do so.

The announcement comes against the backdrop of a political crisis in Moldova, a small Eastern European country located between Romania and Ukraine.

The country has been engaged in a power struggle between three parties – the pro-European Union ACUM bloc; the Socialists led by Moldovan President Igor Dodon and backed by Russia; and the Democratic Party run by media tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc – since it held elections in February.

After months of post-election deadlock, ACUM and the Socialist party agreed to form a government – a move not recognised by the Democratic Party which insists that the previous prime minister, Pavel Filip, remains in charge.

On Sunday, the Democratic Party persuaded the country’s Constitutional Court to briefly suspend President Dodon and install Filip as president for enough time to allow him to issue a decree calling for snap elections in September, US-based magazine Algemeiner explains. While acting as president, Filip announced that Moldova would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In a statement issued yesterday, Filip tied the country’s domestic difficulties to the announcement of the embassy move, as well as the sale of land for the construction of a new US embassy in Moldovan capital Chisinau.

The interim prime minister wrote: “We are in [a] situation [in which we need] to urgently adopt these decisions taking into account the political instability and uncertainty in the country, but also the latest political developments [in which] one of the political parties that constantly blocked these two projects is attempting an illegal takeover of power.”

He continued: “These are two commitments that we have previously undertaken and we want to make sure they will be respected, regardless of what happens after the snap elections.”

Given Moldova’s internal political instability, it is unclear whether the government will be able to follow through on its announcement. If the relocation is undertaken, Moldova will become the first European country to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

Since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and relocated the US embassy to the Holy City in May 2018, a handful of countries have followed suit. Most of these have been Latin American countries with close ties to the US, including Paraguay and Guatemala.

However, within months of relocating its mission, Paraguay reversed the decision and moved the embassy back to Tel Aviv, citing a desire to support “broad, lasting and just peace” among Israelis and Palestinians.

Brazil – which recently elected pro-Israel politician Jair Bolsonaro as its president – has also toyed with the idea of moving its embassy to Jerusalem. In March, however, Brazil appeared to backtrack on its promise, saying it would instead open a “business office” in Jerusalem.

Likewise Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban – who, like Bolsonaro, is considered a close associate of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – has said his country will open a “diplomatic office” in Jerusalem, though stopped short of promising a full-service embassy.

Despite Israel encouraging other countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem – and announcing it would build a new “embassy complex” which could house nine diplomatic missions for the purpose – the international community has generally opted not to follow President Trump’s controversial move.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | | Leave a comment