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No opposition from the international community as Israel alters the two-state paradigm

Israel forces Jerusalemite to demolish his home [Maannews]

Israel forces Jerusalemite to demolish his home [Maannews ]
By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | January 21, 2020

The EU is predicting an increase in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian dwellings and structures in the occupied West Bank, thus perpetuating the problem of displacement. Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett has described the plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to Area C as “a real and immediate battle for the future of the Land of Israel.”

In 2019, Israel exceeded the statistics for demolitions and displacement in the previous year. Targeting EU-funded and Palestinian structures alike, the EUobserver stated that Israel had demolished 35 per cent more dwellings and displaced 95 per cent more Palestinians, when compared with 2018.

Despite this, the EU refrains from taking a stance against Israeli colonisation, even as it demands compensation from Israel for the damage to structures funded by the bloc. Last week, Israel demolished a Palestinian home and the foundations of a school in Al-Rifaiyya and Birin respectively.

Bennett’s simplistic justification for the colonisation of Area C attempted to downplay the international consensus. “We are not at the United Nations,” he declared.

Israel’s contempt for international law is well known. However, the ways in which the UN and the EU aid the Zionist state in its trajectory are cast aside. On Monday, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ursula Mueller, called for “continued commitment and consistent and sustained funding to help alleviate the challenges faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

Mueller’s visit to the occupied Palestinian territories and Tel Aviv illustrated the discrepancy which the UN persists in upholding. In the oPt, the UN official witnessed first-hand the deprivation which left Palestinian communities at risk of losing access to basic necessities, all as a direct result of Israel’s colonisation of their land. In Tel Aviv, however, Mueller “commended Israel on its contribution to global emergency relief efforts.”

In the same way that the UN isolates Palestinians politically, Mueller isolated Palestine from what she means by “global”. The prevailing trend of contributing to Israel’s humanitarian propaganda while refusing to hold it accountable for the decline in Palestinian rights is hypocritical, to say the least.

Bennett’s plans for Area C will increase the humanitarian impact for Palestinians and the financial responsibility will once again fall upon international actors which define Palestine solely through the lens of humanitarian aid.

This generalisation makes it easier to gloss over the human rights violations perpetrated by Israel through enforced military control, impediments to freedom of movement and additional forced displacement, the most recent being the demolition orders for 18 homes in Masafer Yatta.

It is clear that both the UN and the EU are unwilling to act upon their own statistics when it comes to protecting Palestinians and their land. Bennett’s announcement to create “nature reserves” — a frequent euphemism for land theft by the state — in Area C has also fallen on deaf ears, despite the implication of further appropriation of Palestinian territory. With the consequences of Bennett’s action in mind, which part of the two-state compromise is the international community pledging to protect at all costs, indeed to the exclusion of “plan B”?

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly refused to consider alternatives, if these come from Palestinians, of course. Israel’s altering of Palestine and the international two-state paradigm, once again, is absent from UN concerns, no doubt deliberately so. To put it another way, there is no international opposition to “plan B”, as long as Israel is its architect.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

US expulsion from Iraq’s Kurdistan region subject to Baghdad’s decision

Mehr News Agency – January 19, 2020

Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party announced that the expulsion of US troops from Iraq’s Kurdistan region is subject to the decision by the central government.

The withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq’s Kurdistan region is a decision that Baghdad will make, said a member of Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party on Sunday Mahdi Abdulkarim, according to Almaalomah.

Abdulkarim said that Iraq’s Kurdistan Region does not reject the possibility of the withdrawal of foreign forces from its territories, and the decision on the withdrawal is related to the decisions of the Iraqi central government.

“Masoud Barzani, the head of Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party stressed that the decision of the Kurdistan region will be the same as Baghdad’s, saying that the decision taken by the central government will also be accepted by the Kurdistan Region in order to maintain Iraq’s sovereignty.”

There are considerations about the decision to withdraw foreign troops from Iraq, and some talks are underway, he said, adding that everything will be clear in the coming days.

The Iraqi parliament voted for a resolution requiring the government to order the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq on 5 January in an extraordinary session two days after a US drone strike on a convoy at Baghdad airport which assassinated Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | | 1 Comment

Canada citizens fighting for Israel given warm reception by embassy

MEMO | January 17, 2020

The Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv hosted a party yesterday for its citizens serving in the Israeli army.

It was organised by Ambassador Deborah Lyons, who told The Jerusalem Post that she wanted to show the appreciation and care felt by the embassy for the “lone soldiers” who left their homes to serve in the Israeli army.

“Lone soldiers” are Jewish citizens of a foreign country serving in the Israeli army. As many as 6,000 such soldiers with dual citizenship are said to be in the programme.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin calls them “true Zionists,” while Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog has described them as “a true example of what Zionism is all about.”

Lyons told the Post that she had been wanting to hold a reception for Canadians serving in the Israeli army “for a very long time.” Three years in fact, since she was posted in Tel Aviv.

“Canadian lone soldiers are a particularly special group. I know some of the parents of these kids and I wanted to reach out and let them know that their Canadian family of the embassy is here if they want to talk hockey and a home cooked meal,” she said.

Canada’s Defence Attaché Col. Rick Thompson told the Post “the ambassador thought it would be a nice gesture to reach out to Canadian lone soldiers and make some social connections and talk hockey … If you get homesick, we embassy staff are connected to the wider Canadian community.”

There is a high risk of depression amongst “lone soldiers.” Young Diaspora Jews, according to a report in Haaretz, account for only 2 per cent of soldiers serving in the Israeli army, but in the past year the suicide rate among them has been disproportionately high.

Their recruitment has also been a cause of controversy. An Al Jazeera report found that radical organisations in Europe were recruiting western citizens to serve in the Israeli army where many of these foreign fighters took part in the 2014 Gaza war.

In the UK there have been calls for British citizens who volunteer for the Israeli army to be prosecuted like others who fight for foreign forces.

January 17, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel announces 7 nature reserves in West Bank and expansion of 12 others

MEMO | January 16, 2020

The Israeli defence minister, Naftali Bennett, on Wednesday approved the creation of seven nature reserves and the expansion of 12 others in Area C of the occupied West Bank, a statement confirmed.

In his statement, Bennett ordered the Israeli Civil Administration – the Israeli governing body that operates in the West Bank – to start preparing for the opening of the reserves.

The Times of Israel disclosed that this is the first time that such a step has been taken by the Israeli government, since the Oslo Peace Accords were reached in the 1990s.

“Today, we provide a big boost for the land of Israel and continue to develop the Jewish communities in Area C, with actions, not with words,” Bennett announced in his statement.

“The Judea and Samaria [West Bank] area has nature sites with amazing views. We will expand the existing ones and also open new ones,” he added.

“I invite all the citizens of Israel to tour and walk the land, to come to Judea and Samaria, sight-see, discover and continue the Zionist enterprise,” Bennett continued.

Bennett identified the seven new locations in his statement as: Soreq Cave, Al-Shomoo’a Cave, Wadi Al-Muqallek, Wadi Malha, Bitronot, Wadi Al-Far’a and the north of Jordan Valley.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

Evidence suggests US lied about Iranian strikes on US facilities in Iraq

By Robert Inlakesh | Press TV | January 16, 2020

During the early morning hours of January 8, 2020, Iranian strategic missile units launched a precision attack, branded ‘Operation Martyr Soleimani’, against US forces at the American-operated section of the ‘Ain al-Asad’ air base in Iraq.

The response, coming in response to the illegal assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, was a high-observable attack using ballistic missile forces – as opposed to a low-observable attack using terrain-reading cruise missiles and suicide drones.

With US forces already having been in a heightened state of alert, American radar and satellite reconnaissance would have spotted the attack within a minute of it being launched (and a six hour pre-warning of an imminent attack before that), giving the US and other coalition troops present at the base time to seek cover in hardened shelter areas. This, however, did not prevent the success of the attack which, according to primary source evidence, destroyed highly-expensive US aviation assets.

THE RESULT – U.S. FORCES ASSET LOSSES

According to the evidence that has been made available to us at this point, it is obvious that the US is lying about the extent of the damage inflicted upon its assets and infrastructure at the Ain al-Asad base.

No American media group or official Pentagon report initially released the satellite pictures shown in this report, and probably for good reason. To downplay the event (as Trump did in his official address, as did the Pentagon in its later report), they simply dismissed the damaged equipment, referring to the destroyed assets as simple “tents, a parking lot and a damaged helicopter” (per the Department of Defense).

The Iranian missile attack for the most part targeted Apache (AH-64) attack helicopter shelters (refer to Picture 1). Refer to Picture 3 and Picture 4 to see what those “tent”-like Apache steel-frame shelters look like at ground level.

They are the standard steel-frame soft shelter design for US helicopter units based in overseas areas at second-rate airfields (such as the Ain al-Asad Base) – US helicopter units operating from old Afghan airfields are also housed in this kind of shelter design. Each one of those Apache attack helicopter shelters can house two such aircraft. With six structures of the type provably destroyed, demonstrated through the satellite images showing blackened scorch marks (suggesting assets inside them were destroyed with the shelter itself, refer to Picture 1) AND assuming each only had one Apache in them, it can be concluded that at least 6 Apache gunships were destroyed in the attack.

Recently, Danish media, citing a Danish coalition soldier who was present at the base at the time of the attack, admitted that multiple helicopters were destroyed to the point of being “split in half”.

Another Apache hangar (refer to Picture 2) was also directly struck, located to the far eastern end of the Ain al-Asad Base and destroyed. However, note that there is no scorch-blackened concrete underneath it, suggesting nothing was inside it that led to additional burning beyond the impact of the warhead itself.

Indeed, just to the south of that destroyed hangar and the undamaged three hangars next to it, 4 Apache helicopters can be seen sitting out on the open tarmac. They were spared as they were, ironically, not being sheltered.

The official US story on the other structure targeted beyond the “tents” (i.e. Apache gunship hangars) has already changed twice – first it was called a parking lot, then an equipment storage area and now, apparently, a barracks for drone operators. Picture 1 (far right) shows the result of the attack on this structure.

It is hard to imagine that base zoning regulators within the US military would chose to place sleeping quarters right next to a strip alert (ready-to-go) aircraft parking area, itself right next to a major taxiway, given the constant noise that comes from these areas.

A more astute assessment would place this structure as an operations center, which lines up with the Iranian claim that the command site from which the Qassem Soleimani assassination operation had been coordinated, was targeted and destroyed in Iran’s retaliation strike.

Indeed, AFP recently released an exclusive report in which a US drone operator present at the Ain al-Asad Airbase, one First Sergeant Wesley Kilpatrick, admitted that airborne drones were rendered inoperable after a direct hit penetrated the base’s UAV operations center and destroyed the fiber lines which connect remote stations to satellite communication equipment(needed for drone control and visuals).

In all of this, one thing is obvious. US officials and media are stumbling over their own statements trying to cover up the extent of the damage dealt to the US-operated section of the Ain al-Asad base – in fact, going so far to cease calling the military site a US airbase (as it had been called for the last 16 years) to (all of a sudden) just an “Iraqi facility”.

THE WEAPONS USED BY IRAN

Short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) of the upgraded Fateh-313 (range 500 km) and Qiam (range 800 km) types were launched from Western Iran towards the US-operated Ain al-Asad Base in Iraq.

Fateh-313s represent the majority of the missile type used for the attack. Their accuracy still seems to have been to within a matter of meters of their intended targets, except for two stray shots that hit the open tarmac area.

Whilst the Fateh-313 missiles use a combination of INS and electro-optical guidance, the Qiam missiles reportedly use a mix of INS, GPS and radar-mapping target acquisition. The latter method being the archaic predecessor version of DSMAC (imaging automatic target acquisition) terminal-phase guidance used in high-end ground-attack cruise missiles, such as the Tomahawk.

THE OPERATION –OTHER DETAILS

Satellite pictures show that some targeted sites were double-tapped (hit twice-over for good measure).

Initial reports from the Ain al-Asad Base claimed nearly 40 detonations in total despite the fact the number of actual warhead impacts was about fifteen, indicating that there were around two dozen cases of secondary explosions (fuel and ammo going off after being ignited).

In conclusion, according to the evidence we have available to us currently, there is no doubt that the United States has completely distorted the gravitude of Iran’s strikes. The mainstream media in the West have also seemingly refrained from acknowledging much of the damage, apart from on occasion.

Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer and political analyst, who has lived in and reported from the occupied Palestinian West Bank. He has written for publications such as Mint Press, Mondoweiss, MEMO, and various other outlets. He specializes in analysis of the Middle East, in particular Palestine-Israel. He also works for Press TV as a European correspondent.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Iraq denies report it has restarted joint military operations with US

Press TV – January 16, 2020

The Iraqi government has denied claims that the country’s military is resuming joint operations with the US-led coalition after Washington’s assassination of top Iranian and Iraqi commanders.

“The joint operations have not resumed and we have not given our authorization,” Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, the spokesman for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, said on Thursday.

He added that the coalition did not have a permission from Baghdad to carry out any joint missions.

The remarks came after the New York Times, citing two American military officials, reported Thursday that the US had resumed the operations.

Khalaf said the Iraqi government had ordered the coalition to halt its joint operations following the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

Last month, another US airstrike killed 25 members of PMU in the Arab country’s west.

On January 3, a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport killed General Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

Washington began the pause on January 5, two days after the strike, but furious Iraqi lawmakers voted to expel more than 5,000 US troops based in their country.

The Pentagon said it had no information with regard the the alleged resumption of joint operations with Iraqi troops.

The US-led coalition’s spokesman in Baghdad also declined to comment.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Iraq may defy Washington to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system

By Paul Antonopoulos | January 16, 2020

With tensions mounting between Iran and the United States after the latter assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, Baghdad has now been pushing to free itself from American domination by calling for foreign troops to leave the country and announcing its intensions in buying the Russian S-400 missile defense system. The complete destruction of the U.S. military base in Anbar province earlier this month demonstrated to Iraqi leaders that it certainly needs to strengthen its air defences since not even American air defense systems could protect their base from the barrage of Iranian missiles. The Iraqi government’s intention to buy the S-400 air defense systems from Russia has been talked about since May last year, when the country’s ambassador to Moscow said Baghdad had decided to buy the systems. However, no roadmap to purchase the systems has been made yet.

Karim Elaiwi, an Iraqi member of parliament who sits on the security and defense committee, said last week that “We are talking to Russia about the S-400 missiles but no contracts have been signed yet. We need to get these missiles, especially after Americans have disappointed us many times by not helping us in getting proper weapons.”

It appears the Iraqis will no longer tolerate U.S. occupation and demands in its country, with parliamentarian and security and defense committee member Abdul Khaleq Al Azzawi, defiantly saying “We authorized the prime minister to get air defense weapons from any country he wants and we authorized him to spend the money for it, from any country. From Russia or anyone.”

This comes as hostilities between Iraq and the U.S. increase, with U.S. President Donald Trump threatening to cut Baghdad’s access to its key account at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York if they follow through with the Iraqi Parliament’s decision to expel the U.S. military from their country. Not only has there been a threat to cut Iraq from its own money based in the U.S., but there are now threats of $250 million in military aid to Iraq being cut.

Although these are tactics to force Baghdad into maintaining ‘permission’ for the U.S. military to remain in Iraq, the clearest sign that this is an American occupation of the West Asian country was with White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien’s comments last week that the U.S. will leave Iraq on its “own terms.” The U.S. are not even trying to hide the fact that they are occupying Iraq and rebelling against the government.

Despite the clear occupation, Iraq continues to defy the U.S., and the willingness to purchase the S-400 system is a clear indication of this. It is for this reason that Joey Hood, the U.S. State Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, said on Tuesday in an appearance at the Middle East Institute, an extremely influential Washington think tank, that “A purchase [of the S-400] would probably trigger sanctions, so we advise our partners not to make such purchases.”

This was an expected response considering the continued threats of sanctions the U.S. has put against Turkey for its own acquisition of the S-400. Iraq wants to strengthen its air defense and the S-400 systems are considered the best in the world. It must also be remembered that Iraq is already buying modern weapons from Russia, such as the Mi-28 fighter helicopters and T-90 tanks. However, it is likely that Washington considers the purchase of the S-400 from Russia as an indication that the U.S. is losing political and military support in the country – but this was already consolidated by the assassination of Soleimani, an extremely popular figure in Iraq.

Baghdad is already in negotiations for the S-300, the older generation of the S-400. However, it is the S-400, the newest model available for foreign markets, that will provoke resistance in Washington, especially as the U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system has proven to be a failure by not being able to defend U.S. bases in Iraq or Saudi oil facilities, if we remember the Houthi-led Ansarullah Movement’s attack on the ARAMCO site in September last year.

The question then becomes how will Iraq will pay for Russian weapons if their accounts in the U.S. are frozen. Delivery is not so much of an issue despite the U.S. occupation, it is more a matter of how payments will be made. Although Iraqi parliamentarians are boldly declaring their intentions for the S-400 to be purchased, there are significant problems that Baghdad must first be able to overcome, including the extremely strong pressure being applied by the U.S. against Iraq not to buy them. If Baghdad did successfully defy Washington and purchase the systems, it will certainly weaken the U.S.’ image in the region, something the North American country will unlikely want to risk.

Will Iraq boldly defy the U.S.? This remains to be seen now.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Iraq’s Sadr urges million-man march against US military presence

Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (Photo by AFP )
Press TV – January 15, 2020

Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has demanded that Iraqis stage a “million-man march” against the continued US military presence in the country, days after Iraq’s parliament voted to expel the American troops following an assassination operation by Washington on Iraqi soil.

The march is needed “to condemn the American presence and its violations,” Sadr, who leads the largest parliamentary bloc, Sairoon, said in a tweet on Tuesday.

“The skies, land, and sovereignty of Iraq are being violated every day by occupying forces,” he added. The cleric, however, cautioned that such a show of popular disapproval should be a “peaceful, unified demonstration,” but did not offer a date or location for the proposed rally.

On January 5, the parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the expulsion of all US-led forces, two days after the US military assassinated senior Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), among others, near the Baghdad airport.

The parliament resolution also urged the Baghdad government to drop a request for assistance from a US-led coalition of foreign troops purportedly operating against Daesh remnants in Iraq.

The Iraqis censured the targeted killings — which were ordered by US President Donald Trump — as a blatant violation of the country’s sovereignty as well as the security agreement between Baghdad and Washington.

In a letter to the parliament following the vote, Sadr called for an immediate cancellation of the security agreement with the US, the closure of the US embassy, the expulsion of US troops in “a humiliating manner,” and the criminalization of communication with the US administration.

Following the parliamentary vote, the office of Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi asked Washington to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad to initiate preparations for the withdrawal of American troops, who number around 5,200.

In response, Trump threatened to sanction Iraq “like they’ve never seen before ever” if Baghdad were to expel US troops.

Based on reports by the Wall Street Journal the US administration has threatened to shut off Iraq’s access to its main account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which is used to collect revenues from the Arab country’s overseas oil sales, if Baghdad expelled the American forces.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Reading Sun Tzu in Tehran

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 15, 2020

Iran is not done. General Hajizadeh, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, said in a briefing yesterday that the strike “was the starting point of a great operation”. He also underlined that “the strikes were not meant to cause fatalities: We intended [rather] to deliver a blow to the enemy’s military machine”. And the Pentagon is saying, too, that Iran intentionally missed US troops at the bases. This is tantamount to the Pentagon admitting that Iran can land missiles with extreme accuracy over a distance of several hundred miles – and further, this occurred with not one missile being intercepted by the US forces. To completely avoid targeting soldiers at a large military base is no mean feat – it suggests an accuracy within a meter or two – not ten meters – for Iranian missiles.

Isn’t this the point? It suggests that advances in Iran’s guidance systems can land missiles with extreme precision. Haven’t we seen something similar happen recently in Saudi Arabia (Abqaiq)? And was it not clear from Abqaiq that highly expensive US air defence systems do not work? The IRGC satisfactorily have demonstrated that they and their allies can penetrate US manufactured air defence systems, using domestically produced ‘smart’ missiles, and by using their electronic warfare systems.

The US bases around the region – in short – now represent vulnerable US infrastructure – and not strength. Ditto for those expensive carrier battle fleets. The Iranian message was clear and very pertinent to those who understand (or want to understand). To others, less strategically aware, it might seem that Iran pulled its military punch, and showed weakness. Actually, when you have just demonstrated the ability to upend the military status quo, there is no need for a hail of trumpets. The landing of the message itself is the ‘blow’ to a ‘military machine’. Neatly calibrated: it avoided head to head-on war. Trump stood down (and claimed success).

So then, is it all over – all done and dusted? Finished with? Not at all. Both the Supreme Leader and Gen. Hajizadeh said (effectively) that the strike represented an outset – ‘a beginning’. But much of the MSM – both in the West and some in Israel – lend a cultural ‘tin ear’ towards how Iran manages asymmetric war – even when it is spelled out explicitly.

Asymmetric warfare is not a ‘dick swinging’ exercise. It is more David and Goliath. Goliath can crush David with a blow from his clenched fist, but the latter is nimble; quick on his feet, dancing around the giant – just out of his reach. David has stamina, but the giant lumbers heavily around, and is easily angered and exhausted. Eventually, even a well-aimed pebble – not even a Howitzer – brings him down.

Listen closely to the Iranian message: Should the US withdraw from Iraq, as requested by the Iraqi Parliament, and in accordance with its agreement with the government of Baghdad, and then ‘go’ from the region, the military situation will ease. However, should US insist on staying in Iraq, US forces will come under political and military pressure to quit – but not from the state of Iran. It will come from the inhabitants of those states in which the US forces presently are deployed. At this point, US soldiers may be killed (though not by Iranian missiles). It is America’s choice. Iran holds the initiative.

Iranian leaders have been very explicit: The ‘slap’ of the strike at the Ain al-Assad base is not the pay-back for General Soleimani’s targeted assassination. Rather, it is the campaign consisting of the amorphous, quasi-political, quasi-military, asymmetrical war on America’s presence in the Middle East that has been dedicated as fitting to his memory.

This is David dancing around Goliath. Soleimani’s assassination has energised and mobilised millions in a new fervour of resistance (and not just the Shi’a, by the way). And the trashing of Iraq’s sovereignty by President Trump’s response to the vote in the Iraqi parliament (calling for foreign forces to leave Iraq), has created a new political paradigm which even the most pro-American of Iraqis cannot easily ignore. It is – notably – a non-sectarian mission (removing foreign forces).

And Israel, after initial self-congratulation (amongst the Netanyahuists) has understood that Iran has ‘stepped-up’, and not ‘stepped back’. Veteran Israeli security corresponded Ben Caspit writes:

“The letter of Gen. William H. Sili, commander of US military operations in Iraq, was leaked and then rapidly disseminated among Israel’s most senior security figures on Jan 6 … The content of the letter — that the Americans were preparing to withdraw from Iraq immediately — turned on all the alarm systems throughout the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. More so, the publication was about to set in motion an Israeli “nightmare scenario” in which ahead of the upcoming US elections, President Donald Trump would rapidly evacuate all US forces from Iraq and Syria.

“Simultaneously, Iran announced that it is immediately halting its various commitments regarding its nuclear agreement with the superpowers, returning to high-level uranium enrichment of unlimited amounts and renewing its accelerated push for achieving military nuclear abilities. “Under such circumstances,” a senior Israeli defense source told [Caspit], “We truly remain alone at this most critical period. There is no worse scenario than this, for Israel’s national security … It is not clear how this letter was written, it is not clear why it was leaked, it is not clear why it was ever written to begin with. In general, nothing is clear with regard to American conduct in the Middle East. We get up every morning to new uncertainty.””

The impeachment of the US President launched by the House, has left Trump very vulnerable to the Zionist and Evangelical rump in the US Senate, whose votes nonetheless will be essential to Trump’s bid to remain in office when the articles of impeachment move to the Senate. And to a trial where Trump must block the Democrats allying with any Republican rebels in order to achieve a two-thirds ‘guilty’ vote. The Impeachment leverage has been used several times to push Trump to act in the Middle-East directly contrary to his electoral interest – which remains contingent on keeping soaring markets – and in talk of a China Trade deal.

What Trump needs most now (in electoral campaign terms) is a de-escalation with Iran – one that would mitigate political pressure from the neo-con and Evangelical quarters, and allow him to show-case the inflated asset markets.

But this is precisely what he will not get.

Trumps’ attempts to contain the Iranian response to the Soleimani killing were unreservedly rebuffed by Tehran. The missives were never opened, nor allowed for them to be spoken by the mediators. There is no room for talks, unless Trump lifts sanctions and the US re-commits to the JCPOA. This will never happen. There will now be immense pressure from all the Israel lobbies for America to remain in Iraq and Syria (pace Caspit’s comments). And the ghost of Soleimani’s ‘revenge’ will haunt America’s forces in the region for months, if not years, to come.

Iran – wisely – has eschewed direct, state-to-state military conflict, for a more subtle, and pernicious war on the US presence in the Middle East – a war, which if successful, will re-cast the region.

No, it’s not over. Its set to escalate (but in an asymmetrical way). Trump will remain squeezed in the rogue Senators’ vice.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraqis must resort to resistance if US forces refuse to pull out: Senior Nujaba official

Press TV – January 14, 2020

The deputy secretary general of Iraq’s al-Nujaba Movement says the Iraqi nation must choose the path of resistance in case the parliamentary bill demanding the withdrawal of all US-led foreign military forces from the country is not implemented.

“The Iraqi people must opt for the path of resistance unless the parliament’s decision on the pullout of foreign forces is carried out,” Nasr al-Shammari said in an exclusive interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on Tuesday.

He added that the decision to expel foreign forces from Iraq does not need a parliamentary mandate, stating that the US-led military coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh terrorist group entered Iraq at the request of Baghdad government and can be removed by a letter from the government as well.

“The decision concerning the removal of foreign forces from Iraq is the only decision taken away from sectarian fault lines. A person of sound mind cannot accept the presence of a foreign state that imposes its own authority on a sovereign country. If getting foreign forces out of Iraq is a charge, then we consider it as an honor for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren,” Shammari pointed out.

He then noted that all Iraqi resistance factions are united to end the presence of foreign troops in the country, saying, “The United States must respect the sovereignty of states and decisions of peoples, and adhere to them.”

“Iraq will not accept being ruled by any country. Any failure to implement the parliament decision on the withdrawal of foreign forces will give the green light for the start of resistance operations,” Shammari highlighted.

The Nujaba official went on to say that Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi, have become more coherent and solid in the wake of the recent US assassination of the second-in-command of PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

“The death of Muhandis does not mean the end of Hashd al-Sha’abi and its role in the region,” Shammari said.

He added that Iraqi resistance groups are indebted to Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

“The resistance against US forces will soon attain its goal of removing foreign troops from the Iraqi soil. The blood of martyrs will finally bring about the demise of the Zionist entity, and the end of its occupation of Arab lands,” Shammari concluded.

Baghdad moving to internationally prosecute US for crimes in Iraq

Meanwhile, a member of the Iraqi Parliamentary Human Rights Committee said the Baghdad government was preparing to prosecute the United States at international courts of law for its crimes in Iraq, noting that the offenses amount to genocide.

“The United States has been committing the most heinous war crimes since 2003 up until now. The invasion of Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, the Nisour Square massacre and the emergence of Daesh (Takfiri terrorist group) besides the attack on the leaders of Hashd al-Sha’abi are all crimes classified as genocide,” Ahmed al-Kanani said in a statement on Tuesday.

Kanani added, “All the crimes that America has perpetrated against the Iraqi nation are documented, and that there are bids to prosecute Washington for its crimes against Iraqis before international courts.”

On January 5, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

Late on January 9, Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

According to a statement released by the Iraqi premier’s office, Abdul-Mahdi “requested that delegates be sent to Iraq to set the mechanisms to implement the parliament’s decision for the secure withdrawal of (foreign) forces from Iraq” in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The prime minister said Iraq rejects violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military’s violation of Iraqi airspace in the airstrike that assassinated Lt. Gen. Soleimani, Muhandis and their companions.

Abdul-Mahdi asked Pompeo to “send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism to carry out the parliament’s resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq,” the statement said.

“The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements,” the statement added.

The US State Department bluntly rejected the request the following day.

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

US to Iraq: ‘Vote All You Want, We’re Not Leaving!’

By Ron Paul | January 13, 2020

President Trump’s decision earlier this month to assassinate Iran’s top military general on Iraqi soil – over the objection of the Iraqi government – has damaged the US relationship with its “ally” Iraq and set the region on the brink of war. Iran’s measured response – a few missiles fired on an Iraqi base after advance warning was given – is the only reason the US is not mired in another Middle East war.

Trump said his decision to assassinate Gen. Qassim Soleimani was intended to prevent a war, not start a war. But no one in his right mind would think that killing another country’s top military leader would not leave that country annoyed, to say the least. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said the Trump Administration’s briefing to Congress on its evidence to back up claims that Soleimani was about to launch attacks against the US was among the worst briefings they’d ever attended.

After initially claiming that Soleimani had to be taken out immediately because of “imminent” attacks he was launching against the US, Trump Administration officials including Secretary of State Pompeo and Defense Secretary Esper have been busy walking back those claims. Esper claimed over the weekend that he had not seen the intelligence suggesting an attack on US embassies was in the works. If the Secretary of Defense did not seen the intelligence, then who did?

No doubt the Iraqi leadership recognized these kinds of deceptions: the same kinds of lies were used to push the US into attacking their own country in 2003. So it should not have come as a big surprise that the Iraqi government met last week and voted that all foreign military personnel should leave Iraqi soil.

Then a funny thing happened when the Iraqi prime minister attempted to communicate to the US government the will of the Iraqi people through their democratically-elected officials. On Thursday Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi phoned Pompeo to urgently request that Washington enact a US troop “withdrawal mechanism” in Iraq. American troops are in Iraq by invitation of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi government had just voted to revoke that invitation.

The State Department responded with a statement titled “The US Continued Partnership with Iraq,” in which it essentially said that the US would not abide by the request of its Iraqi partners because the US military is a “force for good” in the Middle East and that as such it is “our right” to maintain “appropriate force posture” in the region.

The US invaded Iraq based on Bush Administration lies and a million Iraqis died as a result. Later, President Obama ramped up the drone program and also backed al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists to overthrow the secular Syrian government. Obama also attacked Libya based on lies, leaving the country totally destroyed. Trump is assassinating foreign officials and threatening destruction of Iran.

And the State Department calls that a “force for good”?

The United States can be a true force for good, however. End the military occupation of the Middle East, end foreign military aid, stop using the CIA to overthrow governments. Allow Americans to travel and do business in any country they wish. Lead by example and demonstrate how free markets and peace benefit all. A “force for good” means not forcing others to bow to your will.

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

U.S. Media Says Russia the True Winner in Hostilities Against Iran

By Paul Antonopoulos | January 13, 2020

While the final outcome of the U.S.-Iran conflict is not yet clear, US media outlets and think tanks are already claiming that Russian President Putin is the winner. The U.S.-Iran hostilities have undermined Washington’s confidence and reputation in the region, allowing Russian influence in the Middle East to increase as a force for peace and stability. While it is unclear exactly how Moscow can benefit from escalations between Washington and Tehran, U.S. media are convinced that any outcome will be consistent with the Kremlin’s plans to increase its political influence in the region and create a rift between Washington and its allies.

This simplistic explanation does not account the fact that Moscow has a clear foreign policy to achieve its geopolitical goals in the Middle East while Washington mostly depends on their own internal contradictions and events on the domestic political scene to guide their foreign policy. The assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, made on orders from Trump, questions whether this was to demonstrate his power and determination to protect U.S. national interests in the face of domestic criticisms, to serve Evangelical Christian interests on behalf of Israel, or part of a clear guided policy that the U.S. has for the Middle East.

The Democrats are trying to show the public that everything Trump does is contributing more to Russian interests rather than American. It appears that the Democratic Party will continue with the same rhetoric to try and win this year’s election.

Moscow maintains good relations with all countries in the Middle East region and there is no country with which Russia has an openly hostile relationship. Moscow successfully balances its relations between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Israel, while the U.S. attempts to divide the region into competing camps with no interest of defusing tensions, suggesting that even if Washington has a clearly defined Middle East policy, it is one based on division and destruction rather than one of balance and peace.

As a result of the assassination of General Soleimani, calls for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq under pressure from local authorities have been made. Without troops in Iraq, the Americans are incapable of retaining their positions in Syria, which increases Russia’s manoeuvring space, strengthens its positions, influence, and opens space for filling the political vacuum. The U.S. has become embroiled with so many Middle Eastern countries that it is now struggling to cope to withdraw. Washington has already tried to withdraw its troops from Iraq during the Obama era.

But it is one thing to militarily withdraw on your own will and based on your decision, and another to withdraw because you have been asked too. Although the U.S. criticizes Iranian influence across the region and claims the Islamic Republic is acting in an aggressive manner, the Trump administration has not even hid away from the fact its an occupying force by flatly refusing to withdraw from Iraq despite being told to by the country’s parliament.

However it was the assassination of Soleimani that the most ridiculous claims were being made about, with Bloomberg even suggesting that Putin needs a “Plan B” because the Iranian General’s death disrupted Russian plans for Syria, Iran and Turkey. This scenario implied that Trump’s aggressive actions would elicit an even more aggressive response from the Iranian side, eventually leading to an escalation of the conflict in which Tehran lacked adequate defense capabilities. This implies that Iran will lose the status of a regional power and Russia will have no choice but to betray Syria. This option quickly disappeared from the media space as reality completely denied this possibility.

As for Putin’s victory, many cite the fact that many European leaders are increasingly turning to Russia as a reliable partner in face of Trump’s unpredictability. It is fair to say that the U.S. strategy in the Middle East is a mystery even to U.S. allies. With Washington being unrelenting in attempting to maintain the unipolar world order, it has forced Europeans to cooperate with reliable Russia.

This is not the first time that Washington has made a problem for its allies, citing the example of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 when Germany and France, along with Russia, protested U.S. President George Bush and his actions. While Iraq was an example of typical aggression, the Americans did not lose allies because of this, nor did NATO disintegrate. However, domestic politics has always been a major focus for U.S. presidents, obviously, which in turn can influence foreign policy decisions for internal political use. In the case of killing an Iranian general and in the propaganda that Russia is the victor in the U.S.-Iran conflict, nothing new has happened.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment