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Syria: In the History of Bad Excuses, This One’s Top-Tier

By Thomas L. Knapp | Garrison Center | January 17, 2019

US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thinks — I’m using the term “thinks” very loosely here — that Americans dying in Syria is a compelling reason to continue exposing Americans to the danger of dying in Syria. So do Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Ever since US president Donald Trump announced his intent to withdraw US troops from Syria in December, “hawks” in Congress have been looking for an argument against the withdrawal.

And this is the best they can come up with? If the troops don’t stay in Syria, they can’t keep getting killed in Syria? Wow, that really shows Trump, doesn’t it?

At issue:  The single deadliest Islamic attack on US forces in their nearly four-year US invasion and occupation of Syria, on January 16 in Manbij, in which four Americans (two members of the armed forces, a contractor, and a civilian Pentagon employee) died.

When former president Barack Obama authorized the invasion and occupation of Syria in 2015, he did so in complete defiance of both US and international law. Congress had not then declared war on Syria and has not since then offered any formal legal basis for the Obama’s actions. And since Syria is a United Nations member state which has never attacked the US nor indicated any intent to do so, the invasion/occupation constitutes a war of aggression — “the supreme international crime,” as Nuremberg Tribunal judge Norman Birkett called it.

Despite the complete absence of any compelling military or political reason for invading and occupying Syria, and despite the complete illegality of that invasion and occupation, these Senators believe that Trump should reverse his decision and keep US troops at risk in a land whether they’re neither needed nor welcome.

After all, if US troops aren’t there, US troops can’t be killed there, and US troops need to be killed there every once in a while to justify keeping them there in perpetuity. The Senators’ campaign donors in the “defense” industry need them kept there. Government contracts and stock dividends depend on it!

That’s the caliber of mind and morality the voters of South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island send to Washington, DC.  Can’t say I blame the voters for wanting those guys to go somewhere, anywhere other than South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, or Rhode Island. If nothing else it probably raises those states’ average IQs and reduces their petty crime rates.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

By Federico PIERACCINI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.01.2019

The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

January 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pompeo Turns Reality Upside Down

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.01.2019

The speech made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the American University in Cairo on January 10th deserves more attention than it has received from the US media. In it, Pompeo reveals his own peculiar vision of what is taking place in the Middle East, to include the impact of his own personal religiosity, and his belief that Washington’s proper role in the region is to act as “a force for good.” The extent to which the Secretary of State was speaking for himself was not completely clear, but the text of the presentation was posted on the State Department website without any qualification, so one has to assume that Pompeo was representing White House policy.

Pompeo immediately set the stage for what was to follow, asserting in his first several paragraphs that “This trip is especially meaningful for me as an evangelical Christian… In my office, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and His Word, and The Truth. And it’s the truth, lower-case ‘t,’ that I’m here to talk about today. It is a truth that isn’t often spoken in this part of the world, but because I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.”

Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence are quite likely the two most prominent Evangelical Christians in the Donald Trump Administration. Further, the two are Christian Zionists, which means that the return of the Jews to the Middle East is an essential precursor component of their belief that certain steps must be taken to bring about the second coming of Christ. Some Christian Zionists believe that the second coming is imminent, but whether or not that is true of Pence and Pompeo, they nevertheless share the conviction that the state of Israel must be protected at all costs, a view that certainly shapes their policy recommendations regarding the Middle East. And that view also has an impact on policy towards Israel’s neighbors, with Iran in particular being vilified as the purely evil foe, a “cancerous influence,” that will be destroyed in the great battle of Armageddon which will lead to the second coming and the rapture of all good Christians into Heaven.

Beyond that, Pompeo sought in his speech to disparage the Middle Eastern policy of Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama and to make clear that something fresh and exciting has arrived in its place. He said that the United States had been “absent too much” to help friends in the Middle East. “Why? Because our leaders gravely misread our history, and your historical moment. These fundamental misunderstandings, set forth in this city in 2009, adversely affected the lives of hundreds of millions of people in Egypt and all across the region. Remember: It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, ‘a new beginning,’ end of quote. The results of these misjudgments have been dire.”

Along the way Pompeo trots out a lot of half-truths and even completely fabricated lies, saying that America’s “timidity” had let to the rise of ISIS, had enabled Iran’s government to crush the “Green Revolution,” had freed Tehran to interfere all over the region, had allowed Hezbollah to accumulate a massive arsenal to threaten Israel, and had permitted Bashar al-Assad to kill his own people with chemical weapons. And worst of all, there was a false desire for peace that led to “a [nuclear] deal with Iran, our common enemy.”

Pompeo concludes from the record of calamities that “So today, what did we learn from all of this? We learned that when America retreats, chaos often follows. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds. And when we partner with enemies, they advance… The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning. In just 24 months, actually less than two years, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region.”

Apart from the histrionics, the speech was clearly intended to deliver a simple political message to the audience and particularly to the Egyptian and Gulf governments. By asserting a “force for good” mandate, Pompeo was actually telling all the autocratic regimes in the Middle East that they can do whatever they want as long as they hate Iran.

To be sure, Pompeo’s speech contained a number of lines that might be considered attempts at humor given the absurdity of some of the claims being made. He said “For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power. We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East. Can you say the same about Iran?” Actually, you could say exactly that about Iran, which hasn’t occupied anyone since the seventeenth century. It is the US that has land, sea and air power based all over the region while also fighting wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It is America’s best friend and ally Israel that is occupying Palestine.

But the best line was towards the end, “And in Yemen, we will continue to work for a lasting peace. And I think this is clear, but it is worth reiterating: The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism. We will continue to ensure that Israel has the military capacity to do so decisively.”

As Yemen is achieving peace through American bombs supplied to the Saudis while “ally” Israel is the most persistent aggressor in the Middle East second only to Washington, it is ludicrous to think that America in some way has become a “force for good.” Tell that to the Libyans whose prosperous state was reduced to anarchy by American bombing and support of terrorist groups. Visit Fallujah or Raqqa, or what’s left of them. US forces and sanctions have killed 1.7 million Iraqi civilians, including 500,000 children. By one estimate, as many as 4 million Muslims have died as a direct or indirect consequence of America’s wars in Asia since 1990. US ally Saudi Arabia meanwhile bombs Yemeni schools, buses, and hospitals, starving children as part of a major humanitarian catastrophe, while Israel attacks Syria nearly on a daily basis.

It should be terrifying to learn that Mike Pompeo has an open Bible on his desk, particularly as he seems disinclined to read the New Testament part with its message of love and forgiveness. Now the White House appears to be entering into a new America as a “force for good” phase that relies on naked aggression and collective punishment for those who do not choose to submit. And, per Pompeo, God is on our side.

January 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

New Poll: US Military Occupations Supported By Far More Democrats Than Republicans

By Caitlin Johnstone | Medium | January 10, 2019

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll has found that there is much more support for ongoing military occupations among Democrats surveyed than Republicans.

To the question “As you may know, President Trump ordered an immediate withdrawal of more than 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. Based on what you know, do you support or oppose President Trump’s decision?”, 29 percent of Democrats responded either “Somewhat support” or “Strongly support”, while 50 percent responded either “Somewhat oppose” or “Strongly oppose”. Republicans asked the same question responded with 73 percent either somewhat or strongly supporting and only 17 percent either somewhat or strongly opposing.

Those surveyed were also asked the question “As you may know, President Trump ordered the start of a reduction of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, with about half of the approximately 14,000 U.S. troops there set to begin returning home in the near future. Based on what you know, do you support or oppose President Trump’s decision?” Forty percent of Democrats responded as either “Somewhat support” or “strongly support”, with 41 percent either somewhat or strongly opposing. Seventy-six percent of Republicans, in contrast, responded as either somewhat or strongly supporting Trump’s decision, while only 15 percent oppose it to any extent.

These results will be truly shocking and astonishing to anyone who has been in a coma since the Bush administration. For anyone who has been paying attention since then, however, especially for the last two years, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

This didn’t happen by itself, and it didn’t happen by accident. American liberals didn’t just spontaneously start thinking endless military occupations of sovereign nations is a great idea yesterday, nor have they always been so unquestioningly supportive of the agendas of the US war machine. No, Democrats support the unconscionable bloodbaths that their government is inflicting around the world because they have been deliberately, methodically paced into that belief structure by an intensive mass media propaganda campaign.

The anti-war Democrats, after Barack Obama was elected on a pro-peace platform in 2008, went into an eight-year hibernation during which they gaslit themselves into ignoring or forgiving their president’s expansion of George W Bush’s wars, aided by a corporate media which marginalized, justified, and often outright ignored Obama’s horrifying military expansionism. Then in 2016 they were forced to gaslight themselves even further to justify their support for a fiendishly hawkish candidate who spearheaded the destruction of Libya, who facilitated the Iraq invasion, who was shockingly hawkish toward Russia, and who cited Henry Kissinger as a personal role model for foreign policy. I recall many online debates with Clinton fans in the lead up to the 2016 election who found themselves arguing that the Iraq invasion wasn’t that bad in order to justify their position.

After Clinton managed to botch the most winnable election of all time, mainstream liberal America was plunged into a panic that has been fueled at every turn by the plutocratic mass media, which have seized upon unthinking cultish anti-Trumpism to advance the cause of US military interventionism even further with campaigns like the sanctification of John McCain and the rehabilitation of George W Bush. Trump is constantly attacked as being too soft on Moscow despite having already dangerously escalated a new cold war against Russia which some experts are saying is more dangerous than the one the world miraculously survived. Trump’s occasional positive impulses, like the agenda to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, are painted as weakness and foolishness by the intelligence veterans who now comprise so much of corporate liberal media punditry. And their audience laps it up because by now mainstream liberals have been trained to have far more interest in opposing Trump than in opposing war.

And how sick is that? Obviously Trump has advanced a lot of toxic agendas which need to be ferociously opposed, but how warped does your mind have to be to make a religion out of that opposition which is so all-consuming that it eclipses even the natural impulse to avoid inflicting death and destruction upon your fellow man? How viciously has the psyche of American liberals been brutalized with mass media psyops to drive them into this psychotic, twisted reality tunnel?

There was one group in the aforementioned survey which was not nearly as affected by the propaganda as armchair liberals. To the statement “The U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan for too long, and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm’s way,” military households responded 54 percent that this statement aligns with their view. Turns out when it’s your own family’s blood and limbs on the line, people are a lot less willing to commit to endless violence. Sixty percent of Republicans agreed with this statement, while only 41 percent of Democrats did.

Could these statistics have something to do with the fact that younger veterans are statistically much more likely to be Republicans than Democrats? Is it possible that a major reason Trump beat Hillary Clinton, and a major reason Republicans are now far less bloodthirsty than Democrats, is because mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers are tired of flag-draped coffins being shipped home containing bodies which were ripped apart for no legitimate reason in senseless military entanglements on the other side of the world? Seems likely. And it also seems likely that the mass media propaganda machine is having a harder time steering people toward war once they’ve personally tasted its true cost.

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Campaign to revoke Jewish National Fund charitable status important

By Yves Engler · January 11, 2019

Last week the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), under pressure from Palestine solidarity activists, began an audit of the Jewish National Fund.

The audit is significant. Beyond weakening the oldest Israel-focused charity in the country, it will put other Israeli charities in Canada on notice and reflects the growth of Palestine solidarity activism.

Fulfilling the time-consuming audit will be a bureaucratic headache for a group that has eleven offices across Canada and has raised $100 million over the past five years. Already, the credibility of the second most powerful Israel-oriented charity in Canada has taken a hit with the CBC exposé headlined “Canadian charity  used donations to fund projects linked to Israeli military” and related  stories. If the CRA revokes the JNF’s charitable status it would be devastating for fundraising and deter politicians/celebrities from attending their events.

Similar to the JNF, other registered charities support the Israeli military in direct contravention of CRA rules. Additionally, some of these organizations — like the JNF — fund projects supporting West Bank settlements, which Global Affairs Canada considers in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

At a broader level, critical attention on the JNF could lead to questioning of why Canadian taxpayers subsidize hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to a wealthy country. Despite a GDP per capita greater than Spain or Italy (and equal to Japan), hundreds of registered Canadian charities deliver hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Israel. How many Canadian charities funnel money to Spain or Japan?

If the CRA revoked JNF’s charitable status it would boost Stop the JNF campaigns elsewhere. In England they convinced former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to withdraw as patron of the JNF (Theresa May seems to have also stayed away), and 68 members of parliament endorsed a bill to revoke the organization’s charitable status because “the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews.”

The CRA audit of a charity that’s found favour with numerous Canadian prime ministers is long in the making and reflects the growth of Palestinian solidarity consciousness. Born in a West Bank village demolished to make way for the JNF’s Canada Park, Ismail Zayid has been complaining to the CRA about its charitable status for 40 years. Lebanese Canadian Ron Saba “has been indefatigable over the years in writing to various Canadian government departments and officials, corporations, and media to rescind tax exemption status and endorsement of” what he calls the “racist JNF tax fraud”. During the Liberal party convention in 2006 Saba was widely smeared for drawing attention to leadership candidate Bob Rae’s ties to the JNF. Saba has put in multiple Access to Information requests regarding the JNF, demonstrating government spying of its critics and long-standing knowledge of the organization’s dubious practices. Under the headline “Event you may want to monitor,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Caitlin Workman sent the CRA a communication about a 2011 Independent Jewish Voices event in Ottawa stating: “author of the Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Yves Engler, will give a talk on Canada and the Jewish National Fund.”

Former Independent Jewish Voices coordinator Tyler Levitan was smeared for working diligently on the issue. In addition to important organizing, he discovered that the Ottawa Citizen sponsored JNF galas they covered and, suggesting a formal financial relationship, ran an ad for the JNF’s 2013 Ottawa Gala the day after the event.

At the Green Party convention in 2016 Corey Levine pushed a resolution to revoke the JNF’s charitable status because it practices “institutional  discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel.” The effort brought the issue into the mainstream though she, IJV and the entire Green  Party were smeared  as “hard core  Jew haters” for even considering the resolution.

Fifteen months ago IJV and four individuals filed a detailed complaint to the CRA and Minister of National Revenue over the JNF. For a number of years IJV has run a “Stop the JNF” campaign and for more than a decade activists across the country have picketed local JNF fundraising galas. These efforts have benefited from many in Palestine/Israel, notably the work of Uri Davies and Adalah.

As I have written before, the campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status is important beyond winning the specific demand. It draws attention to the racism intrinsic to Zionism and highlights Canada’s contribution to Palestinian dispossession.

The CRA is undoubtedly facing significant behind-the-scenes pressure to let the JNF off with little more than a slap on the wrists. So, it’s important that people send their MP  the CBC exposé and add their name to Independent Jewish Voices’ campaign  to revoke the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status.

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

With Golan at Stake, Netanyahu, Bolton Set Trump Straight on US Syria Withdrawal Plan

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | January 7, 2019

The state of Israel seems to share at least some of the responsibility for the latest shift of U.S. Syria policy — as National Security Adviser John Bolton announced on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s call to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria would now be “coordinated” with Israel, after meeting with top Israeli officials including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s main motivation in preventing a swift U.S. exit from Syria was also made explicit by Netanyahu, who openly stated on Twitter that Israel’s push to obtain sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights – which is internationally recognized as part of Syria – was the driving factor behind Israel’s recent efforts to dramatically slow down Trump’s plan for an “immediate” withdrawal of U.S. troops currently occupying Syrian territory illegally.

As MintPress noted at the time of Trump’s withdrawal announcement, Israel’s influence on Trump’s Middle East policy and Israel’s push towards containing “Iranian influence” in Syria would mean that Trump’s plan to withdraw troops over the alleged defeat of ISIS would likely never materialize if it was opposed by Tel Aviv.

This was apparently and not surprisingly the case as, soon after Trump’s announcement that he planned to bring U.S. troops home from Syria last month, Israel’s government announced that it would dramatically rev up its direct involvement in the Syrian conflict in the U.S.’ absence. That involvement had so far been limited to hundreds of unilateral airstrikes on Syrian government and military targets over the course of the nearly eight-year-long war. Israel’s threat of escalation revealed Israel’s unwillingness to see foreign pressure on Damascus reduced.

Israel’s military — currently headed by Netanyahu, who is also serving as Israel’s defense minister — made good on this promise to increase its military involvement in Syria soon after, using civilian airplanes as cover to launch airstrikes on Syria on Christmas Day.

However, Israel’s reaction to Trump’s announcement appears to have been much more extensive than its decision to increase its airstrikes targeting Syrian territory. After meeting with Netanyahu and the director of Israeli intelligence, Bolton noted on Twitter that the “U.S. drawdown in Syria” would now be “coordinated” with Israel. Also on Sunday, Bolton announced that the U.S. had no timetable for troop withdrawal from Syria and that the troop withdrawal was also conditional.

This is just the latest indication that the state of Israel is acquiring unprecedented influence over U.S. troop deployments in the region, as the commander of U.S. European Command (EURCOM) noted last year that Israeli generals — not American generals — have the power to deploy U.S. troops to Israel to fight on Israel’s behalf. Now, Bolton — after meeting with Israeli officials — has stated that Israel’s government will also wield tremendous influence over whether or not U.S. troops will be leaving Syria.

Spotlight on the Golan Heights

In publicly discussing his meeting with Bolton on Twitter, Netanyahu noted that a key topic of ongoing discussion with Bolton regarding Syria would involve Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights, a plateau bordering Israel, Lebanon and Syria that Israel has occupied since 1967 and later annexed in 1981.

Netanyahu announced that he and Bolton would be traveling together to the area on Monday and added:

The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security. When you’re there you’ll be able to understand perfectly why we’ll never leave the Golan Heights and why it’s important all countries recognize Israel’s sovereignty over it.”

As MintPress has noted in the past, understanding the significance of the Golan Heights is in many ways key to understanding why the Syrian conflict was engineered by foreign powers in the first place. This is because, with the Golan Heights in mind, Israel hatched a plan in 2006 to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by creating sectarian strife in the country with the hopes that whoever succeeded Assad would be willing to relinquish Syria’s claim to the territory.

Yet, this plan was never designed to be enacted by Israel but instead by the United States. The U.S. eventually adopted the plan and the communications of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed it was a driving factor in U.S. policy leading up to the genesis of the Syrian conflict. One of her leaked emails, published by WikiLeaks, stated that “the best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

That same email also noted that “a successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States.” It added that “arming the Syrian rebels and using Western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high-payoff approach.”

Unsurprisingly, official recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan was prominent among the regime-change promises touted by Syrian “rebels.” Over the course of the war, rebels have,  in their bid to overthrow Assad, offered to “trade” or sell the Golan Heights to Israel in exchange for military aid or an Israeli-imposed “no-fly zone.”

This also helps explain why Israel was so eager to fund, arm and aid “rebel” groups along the Syria-Israel border, as it offered the justification for the Israeli occupation of a “buffer zone” that, according to Syrian opposition sources and Israeli-American NGOs, was “intended to keep the Syrian army and its Iranian and Lebanese allies as far away from Israel’s border as possible, as well as solidify Israel’s control over the occupied Golan Heights.” However, the success of the Syrian military’s efforts in southern Syria forced Israel to abandon its buffer zone and seek other means to strengthen its claim to the territory.

The Golan: What’s in it for Israel?

Israel created this plan to weaken or overthrow the Syrian state largely because it is eager to cement its claim to the Golan Heights. In order to accomplish that, regime change in Syria is essential, as the international community still refuses to recognize Israel’s seizure and continued occupation of the Golan as legal. This bars Israel from commercially developing the area’s rich resources, which explains Israel’s willingness to go to war over a seemingly small and insignificant tract of land. However, a new Syrian government, one more “friendly” to Israeli interests, could officially relinquish Syria’s claim to the Golan, paving the way for the complete and official annexation of the territory by Israel.

At the time the plan was created, the main motivator for Israel was the Golan’s freshwater reserves, as the Golan is one of three sources of freshwater available to the Israeli state — and is the largest in size and most abundant, as it includes the mountain streams that feed Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the headwaters of the Jordan river.

This makes this area even more important to Israel, given that Israel is in its sixth year of a drought so massive that a NASA study called it the worst drought in the region in nearly 900 years. Thus, the water resources of the Golan Heights are essential to Israel’s existence as well as its expansionist ambitions.

Though recent Israeli investment in desalination plants have since reduced its dependence on Golan water resources, the discovery of oil in the Golan in 2015 dramatically strengthened Israel’s resolve to gain complete sovereignty over the occupied territory.

The oil reserve discovered in the Golan Heights is estimated to contain “billions of barrels” of crude oil that could turn Israel – which currently imports the vast majority of its fuel – into a net oil exporter. Yet, because the Golan Heights are internationally recognized as being under occupation and not an official part of Israel, the commercial extraction and export of this vast oil reserve cannot move forward — until this status changes.

As a result, only exploratory wells have been drilled, mostly by a division of Genie Energy Co., a U.S.-based oil company connected to Rupert Murdoch, Jacob Rothschild, Dick Cheney and former CIA Director James Woolsey, among other powerful individuals in the U.S. and the U.K. The involvement of such influential figures in future oil extraction endeavors in the Golan Heights – dependent as they are on Israel acquiring sovereignty over the territory — likely explains why the U.S., as well as the U.K., has been so willing to help initiate and then perpetuate the Syrian conflict, which is soon to enter its eighth year.

Geopolitics First: The America-Israel Mideast axis

While Netanyahu’s statements show that the Golan Heights is a key driver for Israel in its refusal to let the Syrian conflict wind down, it is important to note that Israel and its allies abroad are also interested in the partitioning of Syria in order to keep the country weak and conflict-ridden for the foreseeable future. This call to partition Syria as well as other countries in the region, such as Iraq, dates back to the Yinon Plan that was developed in 1982 and seeks to partition and weaken other regional states through the engineering of sectarianism, in order to allow Israel to emerge as the region’s sole superpower.

This is worth pointing out, given Israel’s recent effort to take control of the U.S. troop pull-out (or lack thereof) from Syria, as the U.S. State Department is also promoting a plan as of this past weekend that would push for the partition of northeastern Syria were U.S. troops to begin to withdraw from Syrian territory.

Thus, the announcement that the troop “withdrawal” will now be coordinated with Israel and that the U.S.’ new policy for northeastern Syria will involve partition shows that another “America First” Trump policy has quickly morphed instead into an “Israel First” plan.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Withdrawal from Syria: Postponing the Inevitable

Tim Hayward Blog | January 7, 2019

Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Bahrain (1999–2003) and Syria (2003–2006), offers the following assessment:

At the start of the year the horizon seems to be dominated by the issue of the possible withdrawal of US troops. In reality however the more important action is elsewhere.

US withdrawal: on or not?

Every day that passes seems to bring fresh evidence that Trump’s decision is being walked back. But appearances can be misleading.

Trump’s ultra-hawkish National Security Adviser, John Bolton, is touring the Middle East apparently setting new conditions for the withdrawal with every stop he makes. We are currently told that the troops will not leave until the remnants of ISIS are mopped up, until there is certainty they cannot remerge, until Erdogan promises not to slaughter the Kurds, and until Israel’s security is absolutely assured.

It is certainly true that crushing those ISIS remnants could take some time, and as for ensuring that ISIS can never re-form that is a recipe for a never-ending US presence. The US allies, the Kurdish-dominated SDF, are currently retreating from parts of Eastern Deir Ez Zor because they are meeting hostility from Arab villagers, who resent the abduction of their young men and even children into the ranks of the SDF. While the departure of the sprinkling of 2000 US troops will hardly leave a vacuum as far as the fight against ISIS is concerned the departure of the SDF from certain areas certainly will. Only the government’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA) could enter these Arab areas, and that is precisely what some clan leaders are calling for (calls ignored of course by our media).

Extracting assurances from Erdogan is also likely to prove difficult, especially if (like Bolton, no doubt) you will perhaps not strain every sinew to extract them. Erdogan however has already said that he will have no need to invade if the Syrian Army interposes itself in a 40 mile deep buffer zone. To guard against this possibility of receiving yes for an answer Ambassador James Jeffrey, presidential envoy for Syria, is being dispatched to talk to the Kurds and deter them from pacting with Assad and the Russians.

The irony here is that it is the very presence of the US (and UK) forces which prevents the US conditions for withdrawal being met. While the US refuses to cooperate with the Syrian Army and Russia in fighting ISIS the holy warriors will always have somewhere to hide. And while the US keeps promising protection to the Kurds, and the Kurds believe them, then the YPG will go on infuriating the Turks and the Turkish threat will not go away.

But will the Kurds believe Jeffrey? Will they put their entire existence at the mercy of Trump’s whims and a frayed US tripwire? It seems not, at least to judge by reports that Kurdish negotiations with Damascus and the Russians are well advanced.

In this game for the prize of Kurdish affections Damascus holds most of the cards. To begin with the Kurds have never fought or wanted to fight the SAA and never wanted independence. They do want a measure of autonomy which they would like to see guaranteed in a new federal constitution. Damascus will have difficulty swallowing that, not least because other restive areas like the South might also want autonomy. Assad will probably reckon that he can clinch a deal with a few concessions rather than a federal constitution: use of Kurdish language in schools, incorporation of the peshmerga into the SAA. He can afford to sit on his hands indefinitely: the small US presence in the remote Syrian Far East is no existential strategic threat to him, while the endless lingering will be a constant embarrassment to Trump. Most crucially of all, the Kurds know now, if they hadn’t realised it before, that one day the US tripwire will indeed be removed and they will get no deal at all from Damascus if they do not strike one now.

We can expect to see bluster, smoke screens, reversals and and posturing on all sides in the coming days but ultimately it must be considered likely that at some point the Kurds, when they judge that no more concessions can be extracted from Assad, could ask the US to leave. Ah! That would upend everything. Actually they won’t even need to ask. All they have to do is conclude a deal. Then it will be game, set and match to Assad and the Russians. The real issue may soon become how to save American face and here we can expect to see some adroit Russian diplomacy. There is already talk of drafting UAE and Egyptian forces into Manbij, the key town under Turkish threat.

Before we reach that point however we must address two loose ends. Firstly Trump’s statement, when he was under fire and needed an excuse, that the Turks were going to deal with ISIS. This idea is a total nonsense but Bolton on the Turkey leg of his tour must go through the motions of exploring it with Erdogan. He will be told that for Turkish troops to cross over a hundred miles of hostile Kurdish territory to deal with ISIS in Deir Ez Zor Turkey would need the support of more US resources than are in the area already. Turkish generals are horrified at the idea. It will be quietly dropped. Anyway the preferred plan is for the US forces with the SDF to use all this new time at their disposal to do the necessary (except that, as mentioned, the SDF is something of a broken reed).

Secondly, and this is even more absurd, Bolton says the US is not going to withdraw its ‘a couple hundred’ troops from the ‘key’ Al Tanf enclave which straddles the Syrian/Jordanian/Iraqi borders, because of its strategic position blocking completion of the fabled ‘land bridge’ which we are told links Iran with Syria and Lebanon. It is quite simply grotesque that anyone with pretentions to being a strategist can appear seriously to believe this and that the media dutifully regurgitate the US talking points on it without question. While it is true that Al Tanf has been an important crossing point, all we are talking about here is bit of inconvenience. There are other crossing points a few miles to the North East. Anyway Iran airlifts most of its supplies to Damascus and Beirut and wouldn’t dream of ferrying sensitive equipment through Iraqi territory, pullulating with US troops and agents. Don’t they have maps in the Pentagon? It can perhaps be most charitably assumed that the Al Tanf gambit is part of the face-saving which has to be done, this time to be able to claim that the US has ensured that Iran will not become more ‘entrenched’ (what does this much bandied about word mean? They never tell us) and Israel’s concerns are not being overlooked.

Assad will not care less if the US wants to stay on in Al Tanf. The only settlement is the Ar Rukban encampment housing about 60,000 displaced persons, many of them ISIS and their families who fled from Raqqa. The US troops do not dare enter this encampment. Assad will be perfectly happy for the US to keep holding this tar baby and can lambast the US for blatant breach of international law, because after ISIS is gone the last vestige of any legal excuse for the US presence will also be gone. (Bolton tells us that the US constitution is basis enough, so now we know.)

Syria comes in from the cold

Meanwhile Syria’s rapprochement with much of the Arab world has proceeded apace. The President of Sudan visited. The UAE reopened its embassy. Bahrain says it will follow. Flights to Tunisia have resumed. It seems likely that Assad will be invited to the Arab Summit in March in Beirut and Syria will be readmitted to the Arab League. Italy is said to be close to reopening its embassy. The British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has sourly accepted that Assad is going to remain President ‘for a while’. Although reports that the British Embassy are being refurbished may turn out to be a false dawn, the day can surely not be far off when the UK informs Damascus that it proposes to reopen. However the issue will not be what concessions Syria must make to receive this favour but rather what concessions the UK must make if it is not to be even more totally excluded from the diplomacy around the Syrian question than it is already. The Syrians would be remiss not to require a lifting of sanctions as a minimum.

The economic war

The most important aspect of these rapprochements is the economic one. Syria’s immense battle ahead is economic recovery. The gains on the battlefield may be eroded if the government fails to get the country on its feet again. The problems seem never ending. One small example: 84,000 children are fatherless, the offspring resulting from rapes and forced temporary marriages by jihadis.

The Western media gleefully reckons that Syria needs $400 billion for reconstruction. The Western powers currently set their faces against contributing anything to this and indeed seek to push Syria deeper into the mire with punitive sanctions. A surer way of creating the conditions for a resurgence of ISIS could hardly be imagined.

Hence the importance of rapprochement with the Gulf countries. While Trump’s claim that Saudi would pay for recovery was probably another of Trump’s mis-statements, it is not fanciful to imagine the big Gulf development funds – the Saudi, Kuwaiti and Arab Development Funds, and some of the UAE funds – providing enough to make a good start. Syria in any case could not absorb huge amounts to begin with. Not least it would generate massive inflation.

Idlib

The Idlib issue, presently on hold, gets worse rather than better. Hayat Tahrir Ash Sham (HTS), the group everyone (except Qatar) considers terrorists, have fought and displaced other armed groups from a string of towns, some in the buffer zone which the Turks were supposed to have cleansed of the most radical groups. The groups in Idlib mount regular forays or artillery attacks into government-controlled areas, attracting air raids in retaliation.

Lest we forget

Within two days of each other John Bolton and Jeremy Hunt publicly reminded Syria that it must not run away with the idea that it could get away with more chemical attacks now that it seems to be in the ascendant. This seems to be the last lingering hope of all those who can never have too much Western military intervention in Syria, that an incident can be manufactured to justify heavy bombing. Unfortunately for them, the Syrians and Russians appear to be a step ahead: only the Russians seem to be doing any bombing. While a compliant media would dutifully echo possible Pentagon claims that any planes or helicopters were Syrian rather than Russian, or that black is white, this tactic does make that a tad more difficult.

January 7, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

There is broad international support for US withdrawal from Syria – but will Washington listen?

21st Century Wire | January 7, 2019

Forward by Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute:

The mainstream press coverage of President Trump’s announcement that he would be removing US troops from Syria has been unanimously apocalyptic. Journos who until a few days ago couldn’t care less about the Kurds (certainly not when US president after US president has used them as a cat’s paw and then abandoned them to their fate), were all of a sudden up in arms warning about an impending slaughter with the blood dripping squarely onto Trump’s hands.

In fact, US weapons, training, and backing had carved out a de facto super-sized Kurd-controlled section of northern Syria which it does not take a geopolitical expert to understand would incense NATO ally Turkey. Why prop up the Kurds and in the process infuriate Erdogan? The US-led regime-change program simply did not have many other boots on the ground to turn to. After years of arming jihadists whose masks slipped quickly thereafter to reveal al-Qaeda or ISIS markings, the game was up for the “Assad must go” crowd and the only move left was to pretend that a proxy Kurd militia was something called the “Syrian Democratic Forces.” When in fact it was nothing of the sort. It was simply the Kurds, rented by Washington.

And the bloodbath the media and neocons warned would come about should Trump dare reconsider another US forever war? More lies and bluster. The Kurds are re-considering their foolish refusal to partner more closely with the Syrian government against foreign-sponsored insurgencies. Just last week, they began negotiations with Damascus to reconcile and forestall a massive Turk incursion.

But the Kurds acting in their own best interest is a big problem for the neocons. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has given himself credit for slowing Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria, has gone on record claiming  it would be a “major disaster” if the Kurds in Syria aligned themselves with the Syrian (aka their own) government. To Graham and his neocon cohort, the US can never leave any war. Undeclared wars are just fine with them, but declared peace is a “major disaster.”

Which brings us back to public opinion. With the neocons clogging up the airwaves with predictions of gloom and doom if the US ends its illegal occupation of Syria and with the mainstream media in its continuing Pravda-esque lock-step when it comes to the US global military empire, something quite remarkable has happened: the American people are happy that Trump plans to bring the troops home. According to a recent poll, more than half of Americans surveyed support the removal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

Overseas, support for President Trump’s moves is also significant. The Baroness Caroline Cox of the UK House of Lords, has sent President Trump a letter, with former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, and on behalf of a network of “concerned parliamentarians, senior clerics, former ambassadors and academics,” congratulating the president on his announced pull-out.

The Baroness writes:

Your courage in doing the right thing, in the face of conflicting advice and an onslaught from ill-informed politicians, a blinkered media and brittle allies, commands respect. We salute you.

The letter continues with a call for the end of US sanctions on Syria, which, she writes “only hobble its economy, hamper refugee return, cause mass unemployment, hinder recovery and create conditions for a re-emergence of ISIS.”

She warns Trump that there’s nothing his critics (like Lindsey Graham) would like more than a resurgence of ISIS in the areas left by US troops so as to make Trump look wrong in withdrawing. An end of sanctions would help strengthen the Syrian government and better enable it to fight against ISIS.

Let’s hope President Trump heeds the wise counsel of very engaged experts like Baroness Cox. Perhaps next time Sen. Graham demands a meeting to harangue Trump on a troop pull-out he can beg off. Let Graham and Bolton stew in their own juices in some West Wing broom closet. Better yet…maybe Trump should consider some additional personnel changes.

This OpEd was originally published at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Below is the full text of the letter to President Trump…

OPEN LETTER OF THANKS TO PRESIDENT TRUMP FROM CO-FOUNDERS OF THE GLOBAL NETWORK FOR SYRIA (GNS)

The Honorable Donald John Trump,
President of the United States of America
White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20500
United States of America.

December 31st 2018

Dear Mr President,

Please allow us to thank you for your bold decision to bring American forces home from Syria, mission accomplished.

Our Network of concerned parliamentarians, senior clerics, former ambassadors and academics has campaigned for just such an essential step on the way to bringing peace and stability back to Syria.

Your courage in doing the right thing, in the face of conflicting advice and an onslaught from ill-informed politicians, a blinkered media and brittle allies, commands respect. We salute you.

We urge you now to carry on as you have started by lifting sanctions on Syria. Keeping sanctions on Syria to keep it weak can only hobble its economy, hamper refugee return, cause mass unemployment, hinder recovery and create conditions for a re-emergence of ISIS. This will be a gift to your enemies, who long to see you proven wrong on the defeat of ISIS.

Continuing sanctions will also prevent American firms from benefitting from the multi-billion dollar recovery projects which will be funded by rich Arabs and otherwise benefit the Chinese and the Russians.

Congratulations, Mr President, on taking a momentous step which shows true statesmanship. We pray that you continue on this wise path and take the follow up steps essential so that your actions are not undermined.

Yours sincerely,

The Baroness Cox, Independent Member of the House of Lords, London
Peter Ford, British Ambassador to Syria, 2003-6

***

A copy of the original letter can be found here: Open Letter to President Tr… on Scribd

January 7, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Canada’s Political Parties Support for Racist Jewish National Fund

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | January 6, 2019

An explosive CBC expose Friday on the Jewish National Fund should be the beginning of the end for this powerful organization’s charitable status. But, unless the NDP differentiates itself from the Liberals and Conservatives by standing up for Canadian and international law while simultaneously opposing explicit racism, the JNF may simply ride out this short bout of bad publicity.

According to a story headlined “Canadian charity used donations to fund projects linked to Israeli military”, the JNF has financed multiple projects for the Israeli military in direct contravention of Canada Revenue Agency rules for registered charities. The organization has also funded a number of projects supporting West Bank settlements, which Global Affairs Canada considers in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The story also revealed that the Canada Revenue Agency, under pressure from Independent Jewish Voices and other Palestine solidarity activists, began an audit of the state-subsidized charity last year.

After detailing the above, (which provoked hundreds of mostly angry comments from readers) the story notes that the “JNF has had strong relations with successive Conservative and Liberal governments.” The CBC published a picture of politicians congregated at the Prime Minister’s residence above the caption “Laureen Harper poses with JNF Gala honorees during a group visit to 24 Sussex Drive in 2015.”

But the JNF, like all good lobbyists, has hedged it political bets and the story could have noted that the social democratic opposition party was represented at this JNF gala as well and has dutifully supported the dubious “charity”. NDP MP Pat Martin spoke at the JNF event Harper organized to “recognize and thank the people that have helped to make JNF Canada what it is today.” In 2016 NDP foreign critic Hélène Laverdière participated in a JNF tree planting ceremony in Jerusalem with JNF World Chairman Danny Atar and a number of its other top officials. The President of the Windsor-Tecumseh Federal NDP riding association, Noah Tepperman, has been a director of JNF Windsor since 2004 and has funded the organization’s events in London, Ontario.

In 2015 Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath published an ad in a JNF Hamilton handbook and offered words of encouragement to its fundraiser while Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter planted a tree at a JNF garden in 2011. Manitoba NDP Premier Gary Doer was honoured at a 2006 JNF Negev Dinner in Winnipeg and cabinet minister Christine Melnick received the same honour in 2011. During a 2010 trip to Israel subsequent Manitoba NDP Premier Greg Selinger signed an accord with the JNF to jointly develop two bird conservation sites while water stewardship minister Melnick spoke at the opening ceremony for a park built in Jaffa by the JNF, Tel Aviv Foundation and Manitoba-Israel Shared Values Roundtable. (In 2017 Melnick won a B’nai Brith Zionist action figures prize for writing an article about a friend who helped conquer East Jerusalem and then later joined the JNF).

Besides NDP support for this dubious “charity”, the story ignored the JNF’s racist land-use policies. The JNF owns 13 per cent of Israel’s land, which was mostly taken from Palestinians forced from their homes by Zionist forces in 1947-1948. It discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel (Arab Israelis) who make up a fifth of the population. According to a UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.” Echoing the UN, a 2012 US State Department report detailing “institutional and societal discrimination” in Israel says JNF “statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.” Indicative of its discrimination against the 20% of Israelis who aren’t Jewish, JNF Canada’s Twitter tag says it “is the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners — Jewish people everywhere.” Its parent organization in Israel — the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael — is even more open about its racism. Its website notes that “a survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.” While such exclusionary land-use policies were made illegal in Canada seven decades ago, that’s the JNF’s raison d’être.

An organization that recently raised $25 million for a Stephen Harper Bird Sanctuary, JNF Canada has been directly complicit in at least three important instances of Palestinian dispossession. In the late 1920s JNF Canada spearheaded a highly controversial land acquisition that drove a 1,000 person Bedouin community from land it had tilled for centuries and in the 1980s JNF–Canada helped finance an Israeli government campaign to “Judaize” the Galilee, the largely Arab northern region of Israel. Additionally, as the CBC mentioned, JNF-Canada built Canada Park on the remnants of three Palestinian villages Israel conquered in 1967.

A map the JNF shows to nine and ten-year-olds at Jewish day schools in Toronto encompasses the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza, effectively denying Palestinians the right to a state on even 22 percent of their historic homeland. Similarly, the maps on JNF Blue Boxes, which are used by kids to raise funds, distributed in recent years include the occupied West Bank. The first map on the Blue Box, designed in 1934, depicted an area reaching from the Mediterranean into present-day Lebanon and Jordan.

The JNF is an openly racist organization that supports illegal settlements and the Israeli military. Many NDP activists understand this. The party’s MPs now have a choice: If they stand for justice and against all forms of racism, for the rule of international law and fairness in the Canadian tax system, they will speak up in Parliament to keep this story alive. The NDP needs to set itself apart from the Liberals and Conservatives by following up on the CBC’s revelations to demand the Canada Revenue Agency rescind the JNF’s charitable status.

January 6, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Syria: US-Led Coalition Creating Appropriate Conditions for ISIL to Survive, Expand

Al-Manar | January 6, 2019

Syrian Foreign Ministry lashed out at the US-led coalition over crimes committed against civilians in the war-torn country, stressing that the coalition have been creating appropriate conditions for ISIL terror group to survive.

In a letter sent on Saturday to both UN Secretary-General and the UN Security Council, the Syrian ministry said “the continuous massacres against the Syrian civilians and destroying their houses and livelihoods by the illegitimate US-led coalition confirms the necessity to address the disregard showed by countries of this coalition with regard to UN Charter and the provisions of international law.”

The ministry was referring to strikes carried out by warplanes of the US-led coalition in Syria, the last of which were in al-kishkiah and al-Shaf’a villages in Deir Ezzor southeastern countryside.

“Since its establishment, the international coalition’s practices only served to create the appropriate conditions to enable Daesh (ISIS) terrorist organization to survive and expand again,” the letter read, according to SANA news agency.

The ministry meanwhile, renewed its demand that the Security Council “should shoulder its responsibilities and take immediate action to stop these crimes, attacks, massacres, and systematic destruction of infrastructure in Syria and punish their perpetrators.”

January 6, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Senate’s First Act: “An Implicit Rebuke” Of Trump’s Syria Draw Down

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 01/05/2019

The Republican-held Senate’s first order of business as it reconvened on Friday for 2019 was to push back against President Trump’s planned Syria withdrawal, as the first bill Republican leadership introduced, led by hawk Marco Rubio, is being described as “an implicit rebuke” of the president’s Syria policy.

Senate Bill 1, expected to be one of the first pieces of legislation under consideration of the new Senate, was introduced Thursday by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is being co-sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch of Idaho. Sen. McConnel subsequently announced this means Congress is finally set to debate Syria policy; however ironically at the very moment Trump is attempting a “full” and “immediate” pull out of some 2,000+ US forces. This after US officials reiterated on Friday that “no fixed deadline” for troop withdrawal has been given and they would seek to ensure “no power vacuum” in previously occupied northeast Syria would remain.

NBC describes the proposed legislation, which focuses on a new round of sanctions against Damascus, as follows:

Although Congress can’t force the commander-in-chief to keep troops in Syria, Senate aides say the move is designed to illustrate the need for a strong, continuing U.S. presence in the Middle East and re-assert the role of Congress on national security. It comes as many of Trump’s GOP allies have joined Democrats in deploring his announcement of a Syria withdrawal without consulting allies and lamenting the subsequent resignation of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The Senate is moving quickly to assert its point-of-view on U.S. policy regarding Syria and in the broader Middle East, and it could serve as a rebuttal to the decision by President Donald Trump to pull back U.S. forces from Syria.

Of note is that Congress is only attempting to “re-assert” its role on national security the moment a US president is seeking to pull out of the Middle East.

Statements by the bill sponsors referenced consulting “steadfast” allies first. While naming Israel and Jordan specifically, Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch said, “This package of legislation is an important step toward finishing the work of the last Congress. Israel and Jordan have been steadfast allies of the United States that deserve this support.”

Also noticeable was the complete lack of appeal to American self-defense and the unpopularity among the American public of remaining in Syria, according to recent polls.

Sen. Risc continued to cite foreign allies first and foremost as necessitating the bill: “Also, it is vital to confront Syrian government atrocities and end discrimination against Israel,” he said while calling for it to move forward rapidly.

And well-known Iran hawk Sen. Rubio echoed the same:

It is in America’s national security interests to ensure that our allies in the Middle East like Israel and Jordan remain secure amid the region’s growing destabilizing threats posed by Iran and Syria’s Assad regime… This important bill will also impose new sanctions against the Assad regime and its supporters who continue to commit horrific human rights violations against the Syrian people.

On Wednesday President Trump altered his language after immense pushback in Washington, saying the US will get out of Syria “over a period of time” and in such a way that will protect America’s Kurdish partners on the ground, at a moment pro-Turkish forces backed by Turkey’s army are set to invade and annex Kurdish enclaves in the north of the country.

Notably, Trump also told reporters on Wednesday: “Syria was lost long ago. we’re not talking about vast wealth. we’re talking about sand and death,” while also noting: “It’s not my fault. I didn’t put us there.”

But it appears senators like Rubio, McConnell and Risch want to come keep the US there indefinitely, continuing what’s unfortunately becoming an American tradition of “forever wars” and quagmires.

January 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Canada charity used donations to fund Israel army bases

MEMO | January 4, 2019

A Canadian charity has been investigated for using its donations to fund infrastructure projects on Israeli army and naval bases.

The Jewish National Fund of Canada – an affiliate of parent organisation Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael or the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) – used its donations to fund infrastructure projects on Israeli army, air and naval bases, in contravention of Canadian law.

The revelation came as JNF Canada was subjected to an audit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), a federal agency that administers tax laws for the Canadian government, after a Canadian researcher filed a complaint about the charity’s spending. According to local news site CBC :

While no law bars a Canadian citizen from writing a cheque directly to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, rules do ban tax-exempt charities from issuing tax receipts for such donations, and also ban donors from claiming tax deductions for them.

CBC further explains that: “In its guide for Canadian registered charities carrying out activities outside Canada, the CRA states plainly that ‘increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not’.”

Though JNF Canada claims it stopped funding such projects in 2016, CBC points out that this would not stop the Canada Revenue Agency from taking action against the charity for funding projects in contravention of these clearly-stated guidelines.

Prior to 2016, JNF Canada’s contributions to projects associated with the Israeli military appear to have been expansive. One example indicates that JNF Canada provided funding for “a fitness area for the regular army staff at the Gadna base in Sde Boker,” a kibbutz (agricultural community) south of Beer Sheba in southern Israel. The charity describes Israel’s Gadna programme as “a special programme for young people in Israel that prepares them for their service in the [Israeli army]”.

The charity also funded other military infrastructure projects, including: “helping the development of the Bat Galim training base complex area” at Israel’s naval base in Haifa; upgrading the canteen for Israel’s 124th Helicopter Squadron at Palmachim Air Force Base, north of Ashdod; and developing a canteen at Nevatim Air Force Base, east of Beer Sheba.

As CBC points out, JNF Canada has a long history of supporting controversial projects, in 1984 raising funds for Canada Park which is built on the ruins of several villages near Latrun, east of Ramle. The park sits beyond the 1949 Armistice Line – often known as the Green Line – and as such is considered occupied Palestinian territory, though Israel has since cut the park off from the rest of the West Bank with its Separation Wall. JNF Canada has nonetheless continued to fund the maintenance of the park.

International donations to the Israeli army were thrust into the spotlight in November when Hollywood celebrities raised $60 million at the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF) annual gala. Held in Beverly Hills, California USA, the gala was attended by more than 1,200 supporters of Israel, including prominent actors and singers like Ashton Kutcher, Pharrell Williams, Gerard Butler and Katharine McPhee. An internet campaign was quickly launched to criticise the celebrities’ involvement, starting the #HollywoodFundsTerror hashtag on Twitter.

Just a few weeks earlier, another FIDF gala held in New York raised $32 million for the Israeli army and was attended by key Israeli establishment figures, including Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon and Israel’s Consul General in New York Dani Dayan. Two US-Jewish organisations – Or Lachayal, which works to strengthen the Jewish identity of the Israeli army, and Nefesh B’Nefesh, which promotes Jewish immigration to Israel – were among the biggest donors at the gala.

 

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 4 Comments