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Syrian air defense units intercept Israeli missiles near Damascus, thwarting THIRD raid in a week – Russian MoD

RT | July 26, 2021

The Syrian military has intercepted two missiles fired by Israeli fighter jets at Damascus suburb of Sayyidah Zaynab over the weekend, successfully thwarting the third such airstrike in a week, using Russian-made air defense systems.

The airstrike was carried out from outside the Syrian airspace, around 5:40am Sunday morning, when two Israeli F-16 jets fired two guided missiles, targeting unspecified facilities in the town of Set (Sayyidah) Zaynab some 10km south of Damascus.

Syrian air defense units – equipped with Russian-made Buk-M2E systems – successfully intercepted both of them, the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, Rear Admiral Vadim Kulit, said in a daily briefing.

On Wednesday night, two Israeli F-16 jets fired four guided missiles from Lebanese airspace at Syria’s Homs province. All of them were shot down, also using Russian-made Buk-M2Es.

On Monday night, four Israeli jets penetrated Syrian airspace through the area of At-Tanf on the Jordanian border, controlled by the US military, and fired eight missiles into Aleppo province. Seven of them were reportedly shot down by Buk-M2 and Pantsir-S systems, but the remaining one struck a scientific research facility in the town of Safira.

While Israeli officials rarely acknowledge such raids, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warplanes routinely rained down missiles on Syrian territory over the past years, under the pretext of self-defense against the “Iranian threat.”

Damascus has always protested the repeated attacks as blatant acts of aggression, while Russia, Turkey and Iran recently jointly condemned Israeli raids as violations of sovereignty and international humanitarian laws.

July 25, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Iraqi politicians slam Turkey’s interventionist remarks, vow strong response

Press TV – July 22, 2021 

A number of Iraqi politicians and lawmakers have reacted to recent interventionist remarks by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu during his recent visit to the city of Sirnak in southeastern Turkey, vowing a strong response to any infringement of the Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity.

According to a report by Rudaw news agency on Thursday, during his visit to Sirnak, the Turkish minister claimed that establishing peace in Muslim countries, including Iraq and Syria, was Turkey’s responsibility.

Soylu’s comment reverberated widely through social media platforms, enraging Iraqi people and politicians.

Ra’ad Hussein, representative of Saairun Alliance affiliated with Iraq’s influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said the sovereignty of Iraq is beyond all considerations and the positions of the Sadr movement in this regard are clear.

“The Sadr movement is totally Iraqi and has no links to foreign countries, and it prefers the interests of Iraq over all interests, and to this end, the head of al-Sadr’s bloc decided to withdraw from the elections,” Hussein said.

“Our position is firm, which means that we will sever ties with any of the neighboring or regional countries if they do not have a positive attitude towards Iraq,” he added.

Hussein underlined that such statements, whether made by Turkish or other officials, are unacceptable and no one will ever be able to encroach on a single inch of Iraqi soil.

Iraqi Shia cleric Ammar al-Hakim took to Twitter on Wednesday, calling on neighboring countries to respect Iraq’s sovereignty.

Hakim, who heads Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement political bloc, said, “Achieving peace in the region and the world comes through the interaction of states among themselves in accordance with international covenants and cooperation based on the foundations of mutual relations and common interest.”

He added, “It is not allowed to compromise the sovereignty of Iraq and for its land to be infringed,” without making any direct reference to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Iraqi MP and member of the Law Coalition, Kadhem Finjan al-Hamami, reacted to Turkish minister’s remarks, saying that the Turkish provocations were not the first of its kind in clear reference to Turkey’s deforestation of Kurdish areas and the continuous attacks on the Iraqi territory under the pretext of fighting Kurdish separatists.

“There have been no reactions from the Iraqi government or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) towards all these attacks on Iraqi lands,” he said, adding that the Turkish government believes that “Iraq and the neighboring countries are a subject of the Ottoman Empire.”

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Whither Afghanistan? Getting Out Is Harder Than Getting In

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | July 22, 2021

The inability of the United States to comprehend what it was becoming involved in when, in the wake of 9/11, it declared a Global War on Terror, has to be reckoned one of the singular failures of national security policy over the past twenty years. Not only did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq make bad situations worse, but the fact that no one is Washington was able to define “victory” and think in terms of an exit strategy has meant that the wars and instability are still with us. In their wake has been hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars spent to accomplish absolutely nothing.

As a result, Iraq is unstable and leans more heavily towards America’s adversary Iran than it does to Washington. The Iraqi Parliament has, in fact, asked U.S. forces to leave the country, a request that has been ignored both by Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump actually threatened to freeze Iraqi bank assets to pressure the Iraqis into accepting the continued U.S. occupation. At the same time, American troops illegally present in neighboring Syria, continue to occupy that country’s oil fields to deprive the government in Damascus of much needed resources. Neither Iraq nor Syria threatens the United States in any way.

Given that history, it should be no surprise that the withdrawal from the twenty year-long nation building project in Afghanistan, long overdue, is not quite going as smoothly as the Pentagon and White House apparently planned. U.S. forces pulled out of their principal base in the country, Bagram Air Base, in the middle of the night without informing the incoming Afghan base commander. A frenzy of looting of the left behind equipment followed.

The Taliban are racking up victory after victory against U.S. and NATO trained Afghan government forces who have the disadvantage of having to defend everywhere, making them vulnerable to attacks on an opportunity basis. The Taliban now plausibly claim to control 85% of the countryside, to include crossing points into Pakistan and several important towns and provinces. They recently shocked observers by executing 22 Afghan Army commandos who had run out of ammunition and surrendered. The U.S. government is quietly expecting a similar fate for the thousands of Afghans who collaborated with the regime installed by Washington and is hurriedly arranging for visas to get the most vulnerable out, eventually seeking to resettle them in friendly Middle Eastern countries as well as in the U.S..

By one estimate as many as 18,000 Afghans worked for U.S. forces and they also have families that will have to go with them. There is particular concern that former interpreters, who would have been privy to decision making by Washington, will be most particularly targeted. The Biden White House has responded finally to the urgency of the issue – lives are at stake – by approving special flights to remove the most vulnerable to a third country for processing before determining if they can be allowed to take up residence in the United States or elsewhere.

To be sure, the struggle to rid the world of the wrong kind of terrorists has left the United States weaker and more unfocused than it was in 2001. China, Russia and Iran are already maneuvering to fill the impending power vacuum in Central Asia by coming to terms with the likely Taliban takeover, which might come sooner than Joe Biden expects. If some kind of Afghan coalition government does emerge, it will belong to Russia and China, not the U.S..

Meanwhile, the U.S. military itself, under the Biden Administration, is weaker and more riven by controversy than ever before. A recent 23-page report suggests that since Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s February order to “stand down” the entire U.S. military for commanders to address “extremism” in its ranks morale has sunk and many top soldiers have either retired or quit in disgust. During his confirmation hearings, Austin pledged that he would “rid our ranks of racists and extremists” but the reality is quite different, with the witch hunt in the ranks and endless promotion of diversity even hurting normal military readiness training.

By next month the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be reduced to a battalion of infantry to guard the Embassy and CIA station in Kabul, which is itself not sustainable unless some kind of workable Afghan government coalition can be achieved. Given the recent Taliban successes, that outcome appears to be increasingly unlikely. Maintaining the Embassy will also require a viable lifeline to the city’s airport and talks are underway with Turkey to determine if Ankara will be willing to base a stay behind battalion to maintain the air link. The Taliban have already announced that a Turkish presence at the airport will be unacceptable and warned Turkey that there would be revenge attacks against any remaining NATO troops after the U.S. pulls out. Their spokesman issued a statement declaring that “The continuation of Turkey’s occupation will provoke feelings of hatred and enmity in our country towards Turkish officials, and will harm bilateral relations.”

The U.S. is also seeking an over the horizon offensive capability once the military has formally left Afghanistan. The intention would be to be able to strike targets in Afghanistan if a new government forms any alliances with terrorist groups that potentially threaten the United States, as unlikely as that might be. At the present time, there are few options as the U.S. would not be able to launch cruise missile or airstrikes through the neighboring countries that surround Afghanistan to the south, east and west, though a long-distance strike from warships in the Persian Gulf is technically possible.

To the north there are, however, former Soviet central Asian states, the so-called “‘Stans,” that might be suitable for hosting some arrangement to base American equipment, aircraft and a caretaker force. Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, or Uzbekistan might be amenable to such a development, but both Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are members of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that any U.S. presence in a CSTO country would need the approval of the alliance, which the Kremlin will veto. One might suggest that there is mistrust about the reliability of Joe Biden and company as a strategic partner, even though there is widespread concern that Afghanistan might become a rogue state. Nevertheless, Washington’s bullying in Iraq, Syria and also against Iran has failed to convince anyone that the U.S. Air Force would make a good neighbor.

So getting out of Afghanistan will be a lot trickier than going in. The U.S. clearly wants to have some ability to intervene using air resources if the Taliban take over and misbehave, but that just might be a fantasy as the door is closing on options while China is waiting for its own door to open to bring the Afghans into their New Silk Road. And there is no escaping the fact that the entire Afghan adventure was one hell of a waste of lives and resources. Next time, maybe Washington will hesitate to charge in, but given the lack of any deep thinking going on in the White House, I suspect we Americans could easily find ourselves in yet another Afghanistan.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 4 Comments

All Americans must leave Afghanistan except diplomats: Top Taliban official

Press TV – July 21, 2021

All foreign forces in Afghanistan are considered occupiers, a top Taliban official tells Press TV, stressing that the United States should pull out all its military and civilian personnel from the country except its diplomats.

Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday, alleging that the militant group and the United States had agreed on the matter.

“They have accepted that all Americans except their diplomats should leave Afghanistan and this issue is clearly written,” he said in an interview with Press TV’s Face to Face program.

“All NATO forces and their allies in Afghanistan must leave Afghanistan, and even those who were nominated to protect their embassies were rejected by us, because if we come to the government of Afghanistan, we are responsible for protecting their embassies and diplomats,” added the official.

‘US, NATO can’t provide security’

The US and the Western military alliance of NATO, Khairkhwa said, were incapable of providing Afghanistan with security.

Had the Americans been capable of securing Afghanistan, they would have done so over their 20-year-long occupation of the country, which saw some 150,000 foreign forces entering the Central Asian territory, he said.

“How can they bring us security?” he asked, and warned that if given the chance, Washington would always try to find a pretext to bring in troops, whether it was training the Afghan forces or providing security for the American interests in Afghanistan.

‘No use for Americans to return’

Khairkhwa also said the history of foreign military interventions in Afghanistan, as was the case with the British and Russian invasions, showed that such militarism was doomed to fail.

He, therefore, predicted that if the United States sought to re-enter Afghanistan following its current troop pullout, it would end up suffering the same fate as it has over the past 20 years.

“Because when someone enters someone’s house and fights there, the owner of the house will fight back as long as he lives. And if the Americans want to return, the same process of 20 years ago will be repeated. It is no use for them, nor is it of any use for us…,” the official noted.

Taliban after formation of ‘common govt.’

The official was also asked about the May-present escalation in the Taliban’s aggression and the goals that the group could be seeking by ramping up the violence.

Khairkhwa claimed that the group prioritized “political solutions” and “negotiation” over the armed offensive.

“We are trying to find solutions that are a good way for the people to elect a government, whether it is in the form of a council and a settlement, or in some other way, is now on the table for negotiation,” he said.

The group, he alleged, would close the door to all negotiation if it were completely against it.

‘Taliban advance, govt. fall inevitable’

The Taliban official, however, stressed that neither the group’s advances nor the incumbent government’s fall were to be helped.

“You see, the districts are very easily conquered” by the Taliban, which “have the ability to conquer the big cities” too.

He cited the example of the government that was propped up by the Soviets, but “could not survive and finally fell.”

“As for the current government, the people know that it will not last. That is why the fall is underway,” he said.

Khairkhwa claimed that the “elders” had not yet ordered any offensive against large cities, including the capital Kabul, and that the group would prioritize negotiation and political agreement concerning the manner of their control in the future.

The official, nevertheless, appeared not to be ruling out armed action targeting the cities by saying, “We use precaution so that, God forbid, it does not cause massive casualties.”

Why hasn’t the Taliban been fighting Daesh?

Khairkhwa was asked about the reason why the Taliban had not been fighting the foreign-backed Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh, which it considers another occupying entity, for some time.

The official said the hiatus had been brought about as a result of the sporadic nature of Daesh’s presence in Afghanistan, adding that the group would have kept up its fight if the Takfiris “had a headquarters.”

He also described Daesh’s ideology as “deviant” and claimed that the Taliban’s mindset differed from that of the terrorist outfit.

‘Taliban, Saudi Arabia not as close as before’

The Taliban official also said the group and Saudi Arabia’s relations did not have their former quality.

“We do not have the same connection we had before… We haven’t had any public trips to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

He also said if the Saudi regime sought to fund so-called “religious schools” in Afghanistan, the funding had to go through the government and the ministry of education instead of going straight to the schools.

What becomes of Afghanistan’s foreign policy if Taliban triumph?

Meanwhile, the Taliban official claimed that the group would try to maintain relations with Muslim countries, including the neighboring ones such as Iran, if it rose to power in Afghanistan.

He alleged, though, that Afghanistan would not be allowed to lean extensively in any direction if the group assumed power.

July 21, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 3 Comments

Russia’s about-face on Syria’s Idlib is the opening gambit of a larger diplomatic chess game

By Scott Ritter | RT | July 17, 2021

The Russian vote at the UN Security Council in favor of extending a humanitarian air corridor into Syria has been touted by the US government as a victory of American diplomacy. Moscow might have other ideas.

In a rare display of diplomatic cooperation, the US and Russia agreed last week on a one-year extension of the UN Security Council authorization for humanitarian aid supplies to reach northern Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the border with Turkey.

The Biden administration had made the extension of this authorization its highest priority when it came to US-Syrian policy. For its part, Russia had long been hesitant to allow such an extension, insisting it should be replaced by cross-line humanitarian deliveries.

It’s been alleged that the Bab al-Hawa crossing point was being used to resupply Islamic militant groups opposed to the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad that are operating inside Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

Russia’s vote in favor of the extension for up to 12 months took many observers by surprise, given Moscow’s past objections.

The US media called it a victory for the Biden administration, underscoring the importance of the June summit meeting between the US president and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Geneva, Switzerland. The US made Syria, and in particular the issue of continued access by humanitarian organizations to refugee camps located in Idlib, a high priority at that meeting. The fact that Moscow and Washington have reached a compromise on the operation of the Bab al-Hawa crossing, from the perspective of Russia, was a clear sign regarding the efficacy of the Geneva process.

“We hope that it might be a turning point that is indeed in line with what Putin and Biden discussed in Geneva,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after the vote.

The situation, however, is far more complicated than the zero-sum diplomatic game being promoted in the US mainstream media. Idlib isn’t just a repository of internal refugees from the decade-long civil conflict that has wracked Syria since 2011 – it is the final redoubt of foreign-backed Islamic militants who have been waging a bloody fight against the Russian-backed Syrian government. The Islamic militant groups, many of which are allied with Al-Qaeda, once controlled much of the Syrian countryside and were operating in the suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

The decision by the Russian government to intervene militarily on the side of Assad in September 2015 helped turn the tide against the Islamic militant forces. Over the course of the next three years, the Syrian army, backed on the ground by Hezbollah and pro-Iranian militias, and in the air by the Russian Air Force, was able to recapture all of the militant-held territory save for the last remaining bastion in Idlib.

The situation inside Idlib is complex, with the various factions among the Islamic militants fighting among themselves to establish primacy. Many of these groups, including Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), are reportedly reliant upon foreign support for their survival and have been linked to both Turkey and the US in terms of serving as an anti-Assad proxy force. Recent claims by the exiled Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker regarding the alleged shipment of “billions of dollars” worth of military equipment disguised as humanitarian aid to HTS and other anti-Assad groups operating inside Idlib only reinforced the concerns of the opponents to keeping the Bab al-Hawa crossing open.

There is a real humanitarian crisis ongoing inside Idlib, where millions of Syrian citizens remain housed in refugee camps that are little more than tent cities erected in open fields. The refugees are totally dependent upon international aid groups for the essentials of life, including food, water, shelter and medicine. With the restoration of central government control over much of Syria, however, and the willingness on the part of the Syrian government to resettle these refugees back in their original homes without any threat of retribution or retaliation, there is a growing sentiment among the Russian and Syrian government that the refugees have become little more than political pawns used by Syria’s many enemies, including Turkey and the US, to create the perception of a despotic regime while fostering continued instability inside Idlib that serves as an engine to motivate and recruit new anti-Assad fighters.

This reality served as the core argument underpinning the Russian objection to keeping the Bab al-Hawa crossing open. There is another reality, however, which also guided the Russian decision, namely the lack of a viable military solution to the problem of Idlib. Russia and the Syrian government are committed to a course of action that has the Syrian government asserting control over the totality of Syrian sovereign territory – including Idlib.

While Russia and Syria continue to conduct airstrikes against Islamic militant positions inside Idlib, and the Syrian army and its allies likewise exert pressure on Islamic militant forces on the ground, the feeling in both Moscow and Damascus is that the problem of Idlib cannot be resolved through force of arms unless one is willing to unleash a bloodbath that would cause more problems than it would solve.

The key to a solution in Idlib is for both Turkey and the US to recognize the futility of continuing to use it as a base of anti-Assad activity, and to finally give up on their dreams of regime change in Damascus. Such a policy change, however, will not happen overnight and will require considerable diplomatic cooperation on the part of all parties involved – including Russia. The Russian agreement to keep the Bab al-Hawa crossing open for another year, when seen in this light, represents the opening round of a lengthy diplomatic battle over the future of Idlib, Syria and the Middle East as a whole.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 4 Comments

Biden forced to accept humiliating defeat in Afghanistan: Analyst

Press TV – July 17, 2021

US President Joe Biden was forced to accept a humiliating defeat in Afghanistan and paving the way for the Taliban’s return to power in the country, according to Ashok Swain, a leading conflict analyst.

Biden vowed that the US is pulling out of Afghanistan by August 31, ending America’s longest war which started by the invasion of the country by US-led troops, ousting the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in October 2001, and eventually pulling its troops out after destroying what was left of it.

Swain, who is a Sweden-based Indian professor heading the Peace and Conflict Research department at Uppsala University, blamed former US president Donald Trump for Washington’s humiliating defeat in Afghanistan.

“Donald Trump, giving diplomatic legitimacy to the Taliban, and signing a deal with them to withdraw the troops, left no option for Joe Biden but to accept the humiliating defeat,” Swain said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday.

The conflict expert noted, however, that the Americans had already realized that they would never win the US war on Afghanistan. The US “was looking for a face-saver to withdraw, but it never came.”

“The realization of the failure, increasing human and economic costs, and growing tension with China left no option for the US but to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan,” Swain said, adding, “In the last 20 years, it has spent more than 2.3 trillion dollars, lost 2,400 of its troops and 3,800 private security contractors” in Afghanistan.

“[The Afghanistan] project has failed miserably” for the United States government, he pointed out.

‘Taliban will likely take control of Afghanistan’

“The Taliban is going to take control of Afghanistan sooner than later,” according to Swain.

The conflict expert linked the Taliban’s likely return to power in the militant group’s leaders’ selection of fighters, alongside their diplomatic know-how in interacting with others.

“The Taliban has been more ethnically inclusive in recruiting fighters and has been diplomatically savvy in dealing with countries and powers interested in Afghanistan,” he said.

“[T]he Taliban forces are ideologically indoctrinated and battle-hardened. Even in some cases, they are better funded” than the army, he added.

On the other hand, the Afghan army “is not a homegrown force but a militia created with foreign funding. Moreover, the Afghan army is highly segmented, and many troops are loyal to their ethnic group leaders than the Afghan government in Kabul,” Swain pointed out.

‘US allies cannot depend on US for security’

The senior conflict analyst noted that the declining clout of the United States has made the Americans incapable of providing security in Middle Eastern countries dependent on the US military.

“With the decline of American power, the US will be forced to limit its global military presence, and that will result in the withdrawal of its troops from many countries, particularly from the Middle East/West Asia,” the Indian expert said. “A country can never feel safe if it is dependent on foreign troops for its security and stability.”

‘US military presence in the region creates instability’

Swain said the regimes supported in the region by the United States were mostly undemocratic monarchies.

“The regimes in the Middle East, West Asia are mostly undemocratic and primarily run by monarchies,” he said.

The professor noted that the Americans had no interest in bringing democracy or prosperity to the region, and their military presence has proven to make the lives of the war-stricken people worse and more difficult than it was without them. “It clearly shows that there has been no US interest in democratizing the region. In the name of security and stability, the US keeps on supporting highly undemocratic regimes. However, the US-backed authoritarian regimes have neither brought security nor stability as the region continues to suffer from violent wars and civil wars.”

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

The Fight to Save Lifta, the Last Remaining Palestinian Village

By Jessica Buxbaum | MintPress News | July 9, 2021

Yacoub Odeh is 81 years old but he can still remember his childhood in the Palestinian village of Lifta as if it were yesterday. Children playing together in the gardens, swimming in the pools and laying in the grass.

Today, Lifta remains as a frozen time capsule. While the residents were expelled during Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign (Nakba), the ruins of their homes still stand. These ruins carved into the lush hillside are perceived as a symbol of the Palestinians’ right of return. This is the only town Israel did not demolish after the Nakba, but a government plan may soon change that.

In May, the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), the government agency in charge of managing public lands, issued a new tender for construction in Lifta. The development scheme, known as Plan 6036, seeks to build 259 housing units along with a commercial and business space and a luxury hotel on top of and around the existing houses. Daphna Golan-Agnon, a law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and part of the Save Lifta Coalition’s board, explained that while the homes may not be demolished, “the village will disappear behind walls of concrete needed to hold new construction.”

The bid was supposed to be held on July 4, but significant public opposition delayed it to July 29.

The ruins in Lifta, a Palestinian village ethnically cleased in 1948. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

Attempts to demolish Lifta have been ongoing for years. The ILA first published a tender for Plan 6036 in 2010 after the Israeli state approved the construction plan for Lifta in 2006. A 2012 Jerusalem District Court ruling found Plan 6036 insufficient and requested amending it in accordance with a conservation survey on Lifta from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The IAA survey was completed in 2017 and found that Plan 6036 could not be executed without making significant adjustments in order to preserve the ancient village. Plan 270b was drawn up to fit the survey’s findings but in 2017 the Local Planning and Building Committee of Jerusalem temporarily halted the initiative for further examination.

The recent ILA announcement was met with hundreds of letters to Jerusalem’s mayor rejecting the sale. When reached for comment, the Municipality of Jerusalem told MintPress News that it “wasn’t informed about the publication of this tender and didn’t approve it. The mayor of Jerusalem asked all the relevant authorities to reconsider the construction plan.” The Israel Lands Council, which operates the ILA, did not respond to a request for comment.

‘In one hour, we became refugees’

Lifta’s strategic location at the edge of Jerusalem has made it a prime target for land grabs. Acting as a suburb of Jerusalem, Lifta’s placement next to the Jerusalem-Jaffa Highway makes for an easy trip to the Mediterranean while still being tied to the city of Jerusalem.

Lifta, often referred to as the entrance to Jerusalem, was a wealthy, agricultural community supported by olive presses and flour mills and situated atop the Wadi al-Shami spring. Homes made of limestone were cut into the hillside and Lifta’s roads wended through the valley.

Prior to the 1948 Nakba, Zionist militias like the Haganah saw seizing Lifta as necessary to cement Jewish control over all of Palestine. According to the Haganah Historical Archives, “[s]ecuring the western exit of the city [of Jerusalem] entailed the eviction of Arabs.”  Israeli historian Benny Morris said the Haganah fired the first shots in 1947, setting off the mass expulsion of Lifta’s 2,960 residents.

In December 1947, the Haganah killed a Palestinian business owner in Lifta. Later that month, one of Lifta’s two coffeehouses was ambushed with gunfire and grenades. The attack killed six and wounded seven. Two months into 1948, the Jewish Agency chairman and future first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, boasted of the ethnic cleansing’s success, telling his political party members: “From your entry into Jerusalem through Lifta — Romema, through Mahane Yehuda, King George Street and Mea She’arim — there are no strangers. One hundred percent Jews.“

Odeh, head of the Lifta Cultural Heritage Protection Commission, was 8-years-old when Lifta came under siege by Zionist forces.

Yacoub Odeh, Nakba survivor and head of the Lifta Cultural Heritage Protection Commission. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

“I remember one day my mother was preparing the fire to heat our room, and then [the Zionist miltiias] began to shoot. My brothers began to cry, ‘Mama, mama! They’re shooting us!’ My mom took us inside the room in the corner and under a table to protect us,” Odeh said, recalling two stories of Lifta — the town’s beauty and charm and then its tragic fall.

“There is the beautiful life and then began the miserable life because of the occupation.”

Toward the end of February 1948, Odeh’s father put him, his siblings and his mother into a truck heading to Ramallah to escape the violence in Lifta. Odeh’s father stayed behind to defend the village from the Zionist gangs.

“We were only wearing the clothing we had on because we are coming back tomorrow. We are coming back. Now we just want to be far from the shooting.” Odeh took a deep sigh and said, “In one hour, we became refugees.”

Today, 55 buildings out of approximately 450 remain in Lifta, including a club, mosque, cemetery and school, which now operates as a school for Israeli Jews. Liftawi refugees are estimated at around 30,000 and live in Jerusalem, the Occupied West Bank and the Diaspora. Most of the homes are empty, but a few are occupied by Israeli settlers. According to Zochrot, the Israeli nonprofit seeking to raise awareness of the Nakba, the “settlements of Mey Niftoach and Giv’at Sha’ul were built on village lands and now have become parts of the suburbs of Jerusalem.”

Saving Lifta

The Save Lifta Coalition orchestrated the campaign to the mayor and has been organizing since 2010 against Plan 6036. The organization spent five years working with scholars, activists, conservation specialists and higher education professionals to develop an alternative to 6036.

Their proposal aims to “expand the area of the national park and turn the village into a natural urban space for the adjacent neighborhoods,” while preserving Lifta’s cultural landscape.

The World Monuments Fund added Lifta to its list of endangered sites in 2018 and UNESCO added the village to its tentative list of world heritage sites.

‘Not something we can discuss now’

When asked about the plan’s responsibility regarding the right of return for Palestinians, Golan-Agnon said, “our plan is a plan to save Lifta as it is for the future generations to decide upon its fate.” She explained:

Many of us [in the coalition] do think there should be a right of return for Palestinians but we know it’s not something we can discuss now. So we say, it’s beautiful, keep it open, and then one day there can be a decision about what happens and who’s coming.

Dana Amawi’s grandmother grew up in Lifta and was expelled from the village in 1948. Now the family lives in Amman, Jordan. The 20-year-old said she was shaken to her core upon hearing the news of the sale. “Lifta symbolized a tiny, very small bit of hope that maybe we will be able to return to it,” Amawi told MintPress. “And now to think that other people might live in the house that I have the right to be in, it’s very sad.”

A Palestinian woman holds a partially eaten fig picked from a tree in Lifta. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

Amawi said that her grandmother fell ill after learning of the auction. “She got sick. She had a fever and she was really, really sad because to her, this is where she grew up. This is where her earliest memories are and this is where she has the right to be,” Amawi said.

Stone houses like the one Odeh spent his early childhood in now crumble from neglect. The walls are sprayed with graffiti and piles of trash line the floors. On Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath), you’ll often find Israelis bathing in the spring’s waters.

Aseel AlBajeh, advocacy officer and legal researcher at the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, visited Lifta in 2018. Her grandmother, who lives in Ramallah, is from Lifta. “It was a painful experience,” AlBajeh said of her time in Lifta. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back to Lifta in this situation.”

‘You are here as a visitor’

During her visit, AlBajeh tried recalling her grandmother’s memories of a flourishing Lifta, but she said those stories were disrupted by the fact that she’s only in Lifta because of a permit she received from the Israeli government to enter 1948-occupied Palestine or modern-day Israel from the West Bank. “You are here as a visitor. It’s like it’s not a place where you belong, or this is what [the Israeli government] intends for refugees to feel like,” AlBajeh said. “Settlers were swimming in the spring of the village and they were blasting loud music, and it also disrupted my ability to even imagine Lifta as Palestinian.”

Israeli settlers in Lifta hold a middle finger to a group of Palestinian children. Blekh | MintPress News

To help her reclaim Lifta, AlBajeh took a small piece of the village’s remains during her visit. She collected a broken tile painted with traditional designs from one of the house’s floors, knowing this might be the last physical object she can have of Lifta.

“Lifta is a witness of what happened during the Nakba,” AlBajeh said, explaining:

We have this connection as Palestinians, and when we see the cactus plants, we connect this as evidence that displacement happened here. And if you go to Lifta, you’ll see the huge amount of cactus. So even if the houses remain and [Israel] tries to remove the cactus, it’s still painful… It’s not about the stones or about the trees. It’s about the whole identity of Lifta and the Palestinian history, which we still connect to. “

‘We were kings in our village’

Odeh’s memories paint Lifta as an idyllic place, an oasis carved into the steep slopes of Jerusalem where life was carefree and bountiful. “We were kings in our village,” Odeh said. “Everything we need, we had — a life so simple. We didn’t need cinema or computers, no, everything we needed came from our land.”

But the minute Odeh and his family became refugees, their resources became scarce. “At that time there were no charitable associations or agencies ready to help,” Odeh recalled. “You know what Nakba means? Nakba does not mean to destroy homes. No, Nakba means to destroy the life — economic life, social life, educational life, political life. They destroyed our life.”

Upon reminiscing about Lifta, Odeh said his dream is to go back home:

I miss my childhood. Palestinian children have lost their childhood life to play like children, to go to the theater, to concerts, to football. No, until now we have house demolitions, we have arrests, we have land confiscation and killings. Every day we have events like these — if not my family, my neighborhood.”

July 12, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Documents reveal US pressure on ex-Yemeni regime to agree on normalizing ties with Israel

Press TV – July 12, 2021

The interior ministry of Yemen’s National Salvation Government has released a series of confidential documents detailing the United States pressure on the administration of former Yemeni dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to normalize relations with Israel and lift the blockade on products made in the Israeli occupied territories.

According to the documents, the US embassy in Sana’a had asked then-Yemeni authorities to end the economic embargo on Israeli goods, and not to participate in any activities deemed harmful to the Tel Aviv regime, the official Yemeni news agency Saba reported.

The papers expose the level of Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s discontent and frustration with the blockade, and how US officials left no stone unturned to force former Yemeni officials into opening the Arab country’s market to Israeli businesses and their products.

The former US ambassador to Yemen, Thomas C. Krajeski, called on Saleh’s regime to lift sanctions on companies with first-, second- or third-degree ties to Israel, which was not turned down by the Yemeni side.

Then-Yemeni foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, later told the US ambassador that the so-called embargo on US and Israeli goods was not actually being enforced.

The documents go on to reveal that the US embassy urged the Yemeni foreign ministry not to dispatch representatives to an anti-Israel event at the University of Damascus in Syria.

Moreover, the American diplomat described Yemen’s removal of boycott of Israeli products as the fundamental prerequisite for the Arab state’s membership in the World Trade Organization, and its access to free trade and international investment.

Last month, Spokesman for Yemen’s Armed Forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree announced that Yemeni security forces had arrested a man involved in espionage activities on behalf of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Saree said in a tweet at the time that more details on the matter will be provided in a documentary entitled “The Spy of Mossad in Yemen.”

The documentary will shed light on part of Israel’s intervention in the country and “the plan to target Yemen militarily, and other secrets revealed for the first time,” the senior Yemeni military figure pointed out.

The developments come as earlier reports said that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been working to establish a spy base on Yemen’s strategically-located island of Socotra.

The UAE has also been accused of constructing an air base on the Mayyun Island, situated off the Yemeni coast in the Bab el-Mandeb.

Both activities have drawn strong condemnation from the Yemeni government, which has described them as violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and international law, especially following the illegally-run tours to Socotra from Abu Dhabi, some of which included Israeli tourists.

“The transfer of tourists to the Socotra Island reveals the plans and programs of the occupying UAE, which are in line with the Zionist schemes to dominate Yemeni islands as well as the steps towards normalization with the regime,” a statement read back then.

Yemen’s popular Ansaullah resistance movement has previously threatened to attack Israel if it was “involved in any action against Yemeni people.”

The Israeli regime took the threats seriously, and deployed its Iron Dome and Patriot missile systems around the southern city of Eilat early this year.

July 12, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces demolish water pond in northern Jordan Valley

WAFA – July 12, 2021

JORDAN VALLEY – Israeli forces today demolished a water pond near Bardala village in the northern Jordan Valley, according to sources.

Moataz Bsharat, an activist, told WAFA that the Israeli forces escorted a bulldozer to the village, where the heavy machinery tore down the 250-cubic-meter pond, which was used for agricultural purposes and belonged to Samer Sawaftah. The pool was a donation from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces seized a caravan, east of Yatta, south of Hebron.

Coordinator of the Popular Anti-Wall and Settlement Committees, Rateb Al-Jabour, stated that the Israeli forces seized a caravan used to serve as a physical and mental health clinic in Zweidin area, east of Yatta.

The clinic used to provide medical support and treatment to more than 1,200 residents of the area.

Under international law, driving residents of an occupied territory from their homes is considered forcible transfer of protected persons, which constitutes a war crime. But residents of Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley are no strangers to such disruptive Israeli policies.

The valley, which is a fertile strip of land running west along the Jordan River, is home to about 65,000 Palestinians and makes up approximately 30% of the West Bank.

Since 1967, when the Israeli army occupied the West Bank, Israel has transferred at least 11,000 of its Jewish citizens to the Jordan Valley. Some of the settlements in which they live were built almost entirely on private Palestinian land.

The Israel military has also designated about 46 percent of the Jordan Valley as a closed military zone since the beginning of the occupation in June 1967, and has been utilizing the pretext of military drills to forcefully displace Palestinian families living there as part of a policy of ethnic cleansing and stifling Palestinian development in the area.

Approximately 6,200 Palestinians live in 38 communities in places earmarked for military use and have had to obtain permission from the Israeli authorities to enter and live in their communities.

In violation of international law, the Israeli military not only temporarily displaces the communities on a regular basis, but also confiscates their farmlands, demolishes their homes and infrastructure from time to time.

Besides undergoing temporary displacement, the Palestinian families living there face a myriad restrictions on access to resources and services. Meanwhile, Israel exploits the resources of the area and generates profit by allocating generous tracts of land and water resources for the benefit of settlers.

Israeli politicians have made it clear on several occasions that the highly strategic Jordan Valley would remain under their control in any eventuality.

July 12, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Top UN expert: “Israeli settlements do amount to a war crime”

Palestine Information Center – July 10, 2021

GENEVA – A high-level UN human rights expert has called for Jewish settlements to be classified as a war crime, urging the international community to hold Israel accountable for a practice it has long considered illegal.

Presenting his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, said he examined whether the Israeli settlements were in violation of the absolute prohibition against “settler implantation” in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and concluded that “the Israeli settlements do amount to a war crime.”

Talking about the human rights situation in Palestine recently, he said that in east Jerusalem, Jewish settler groups sought to evict Palestinian families from their homes, pointing out that under the Fourth Geneva Convention, forcible transfer of a protected population was prohibited, and the occupying power is forbidden from applying its own laws to the occupied territory.

“I submit to you that this finding compels the international community … to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion, can and will no longer be cost-free,” Lynk told the Geneva rights council.

Lynk said Israel’s demolition of Bedouin tent dwellings in a village in the West Bank on Wednesday left residents without food or water in the heat of the Jordan Valley, calling it “both unlawful and heartless”.

“Progressive seizure of Palestinian lands together with the protection of the settlements is a further consolidation of Israel’s de facto annexation of the West Bank,” he said.

There are nearly 300 settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, with more than 680,000 Jewish settlers, Lynk noted.

The settlements have become “the engine of Israel’s 54-year-old occupation, the longest in the modern world”, he added.

He stressed the need for international action, not just words, in order to resolve the situation in Palestine.

“As long as the international community criticizes Israel without seeking consequences and accountability, it is magical thinking to believe that the 54-year-old occupation will end and the Palestinians will finally realize their right to self-determination,” he said.

A few days ago, the Israeli occupation army blocked the delivery of aid to Palestinians whose homes were demolished in the northern Jordan Valley and asked a UN aid team to leave the area, UN humanitarians said on Thursday.

The razing of 27 residential and animal structures and water tanks on Wednesday in the Palestinian herding community of Humsa al-Bqai’a was the first of its kind since February, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The Israeli army’s civil administration and forces also confiscated, among other things, food, milk for children, clothes, hygiene materials and toys during the demolition campaign.

The action involved 11 homes for about 70 people, including 36 children, the office said. Animals had no fodder and water as well.

Representatives of OCHA and humanitarian partners visited the community Wednesday evening, but the army on Thursday asked them to leave.

The community rejected a proposal from the Israeli army to move it to a different location, OCHA said, adding that the army moved the residents’ belongings to the proposed site.

Humanitarians said 11 structures donated as humanitarian aid in February following similar demolitions were destroyed or seized by the army during Wednesday’s raid.

“The repeated destruction of their homes and property, including assistance provided by the humanitarian community is having a devastating economic, social and traumatic impact on the community, particularly children,” OCHA warned.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres voiced his deep concern over the demolition of property in the herding community, Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for Guterres, stated.

“He reiterates his call on the Israeli authorities to cease demolitions and seizures of Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank,” Dujarric added in a regular briefing.

“Such actions are contrary to international law and could undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state,” he read a statement issued by Guterres.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

The American Empire in Asia in the 1800s

Tales of the American Empire | July 8, 2021

Historians declare that the American empire began with the Spanish-American war in 1898. It really began decades earlier when the US Navy formed the East India Squadron in 1835 that grew into of the Asiatic Squadron in 1868. American warships deployed to Asia to intimidate and attack whoever interfered with American business interests. This force also established American colonies in China, Hawaii, and Samoa before the Spanish-American war.

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Related Tales: “YANGPAT: American Military Muscle in China 1854-1949”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKgrb…

“Protecting the American Opium Trade”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbMtl…

“Teaching Japan Imperialism 1854-1896”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_zgY…

“The US Military Attack on Korea 1871”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUW-f…

“The American Military Invasion of Hawaii in 1893”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OP_T…

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Aid to Syria should go through the recognized government NOT Al Qaeda

Syria Solidarity Movement | July 6, 2021

The United Nations Charter mandates “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.

Turkey and the USA are in violation of this commitment as they occupy sections of northern and eastern Syria. In northern Idlib province, Turkey is doing this in alliance with the Syrian version of Al Qaeda called Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (formerly Jabhat al Nusra).

In the northeast, the US has invaded and is occupying the area in alliance with local proxies and mercenaries. For public relations purposes, the puppets changed their name to “Syrian Democratic Forces” after US military officers said, “You have to change your brand.”

These occupations clearly violate Syrian territorial integrity and the UN Charter.

The USA, Turkey and their allies want the world to ignore their violations of Syrian sovereignty. On top of that, they want the world to authorize and approve international border crossings for travel to their occupied zones. The Bab al Hawa crossing is now the main crossing on the border of Turkey and Syria. On the Syrian side, the area is controlled by [al Qaeda affiliates in Syria] in collusion with Turkey.  With Syrian civilians as hostages, Al Qaeda receives 1000 truckloads of supplies and support monthly.

This crossing is a clear violation of Syria’s territorial integrity and that is why United Nations Security Council members should vote NO to further authorization of an illegal entry point.  Respecting Syrian sovereignty and the UN Charter, the aid should go through the Syrian government. If there is concern about aid being distributed fairly in Idlib, a neutral international organization such as the Red Crescent can monitor or supervise the distribution of food and supplies.

The countries which seek “regime change” in Syria use civilians as a pretext while imposing crushing economic sanctions on most Syrians. They are pouring support into the Al Qaeda zone while strangling the vast majority of Syrians who live in government zones. Under US “Caesar” sanctions, it is prohibited to support any Syrian government rebuilding of hospitals, schools, water pumping stations, electricity power stations or residential housing. Syrian civilians now lack food, medicines, electricity, [water, fuel and building materials] because of the actions of the invaders [and occupiers].

The UN Charter should be followed and enforced.

Syria Solidarity Movement calls for the removal of US and Turkish occupations of northern and eastern Syria. We call for the United Nations Security Council to NOT authorize or participate in the violation of Syrian territorial integrity at Bab al Hawa border crossing.  We call for the US and western nations to stop their violations of Syrian sovereignty and their complicity and support of Al Qaeda in Syria.

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The Syria Solidarity Movement operates a modest humanitarian aid program to which all are welcome to provide US tax-deductible donations. For further information go to www.aidforsyrians.org.

July 8, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment