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Israeli Attack Which Led to Il-20 Tragedy Was Reaction to Idlib Truce – Analyst

Sputnik – September 22, 2018

The destruction of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft with 15 airmen onboard has led to questions about Moscow’s relations with both Syria and Israel. Speaking to Sputnik, Middle East affairs observer Ali ben Masoud al-Mashani said he was confident that whatever else happens, Russian-Syrian counterterrorism cooperation will continue.

Speaking to Sputnik about the lost Il-20, which was destroyed by Syrian air defenses over the Mediterranean Sea as the Syrian military attempted to repel an Israeli attack on Monday, al-Mashani said it was important to keep in mind that “this tragedy occurred because of the [Israeli] attack on Syria. Syrian airspace was violated,” he said.

At the moment, the Omani security analyst noted, “it is necessary to fully condemn the actions of all participants of this operation. Yes, the Syrian air defense system also made a mistake, but it was provoked by Israeli military aircraft.”

Al-Mashani categorically ruled out the possibility of a downturn in cooperation between Moscow and Damascus. “Both sides know that the Israeli aggression was a response to the agreements in Sochi between Moscow and Ankara on Idlib,” he said, referring to plans to set up a demilitarized zone in the militant-controlled Syrian province by the middle of next month.

Moscow has yet to decide on the future of Russian-Israeli ties following the downing of its Il-20 ELINT reconnaissance plane, which the Russian Defense Ministry has blamed on the Israeli military. Earlier, Syrian President Bashar Assad expressed his condolences for the tragedy and said he hoped the incident would not impede the Russian-Syrian joint fight against terrorism, while blasting the “arrogance and reckless violence” he said had been shown by Israel with regard to this incident.

The Il-20 was lost over the Mediterranean Sea on September 17 after being hit by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile as it was returning to the Hmeymim air base in the midst of airstrikes by Israeli F-16s against Syrian targets in Latakia, Tartus and Homs. The Russian Defense Ministry accused the Israeli Air Force of creating a dangerous situation by using the Russian plane as a shield against Syrian air defenses, and complained that it did not receive ample warning time to maneuver the plane to safety.

The Israeli Defense Ministry expressed its condolences over the loss of the Russian plane, but continues to maintain that the Syrian military was responsible for the incident. An Israeli delegation led by Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin visited Moscow on Thursday to brief Russian officials on the Israeli version of events. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel had no plans to halt its operations in Syria against Hezbollah and what it claims is an Iranian military presence.

September 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Reactions to attack: How West sees it differently

Press TV – September 22, 2018

At least 25 people were killed and 60 others injured in Ahvaz on Saturday, when terrorists opened fire on people from behind a viewing stand at a military parade held to mark the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in the 1980s.

The Western and Saudi media have refrained from terming the deadly attack in the Iranian city of Ahvaz a terrorist act despite the large number of civilian casualties in the incident.

The Saudi-backed al-Ahvaziya terror group claimed responsibility for the assault.

However, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) only used the word “attack” for the terrorist act.

Similarly, Reuters and others described the incident as an “attack” instead of a terror one whereas they have been quick to use “terrorist attack” for similar incidents that took place in Europe over the past few years.

Russia offers condolences

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered condolences to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, after the brutal attack.

He also expressed Moscow’s readiness to boost joint efforts with Tehran in the fight against terrorism.

“This incident once again reminds us about the need to conduct an uncompromising war on terror in all its manifestations. I would like to confirm our readiness to further enhance cooperation with Iranian partners in countering this evil,” the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying.

Iraq deplores attack

Iraqi Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji condemned the incident, saying it once again demonstrated the hostility of terrorists and arrogant elements towards the Muslim nation of Iran.

He further stressed that such actions could not undermine the authority of the Iranian nation.

September 22, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

First principle of international relations should be ‘do no harm’

By Yves Engler · September 20, 2018

Many progressives call for Canada to “do more” around the world. The assumption is that this country is a force for good, a healer of humankind. But if we claim to be the “doctors without borders” of international relations, shouldn’t Canada swear to “first do no harm” like MDs before beginning practice? At a minimum shouldn’t the Left judge foreign policy decisions through the lens of the Hippocratic oath?

Libya illustrates the point. That North African nation looks set to miss a United Nations deadline to unify the country. An upsurge of militia violence in Tripoli and political wrangling makes it highly unlikely elections planned for December will take place.

Seven years after the foreign backed war Libya remains divided between two main political factions and hundreds of militias operate in the country of six million. Thousands have died in fighting since 2011.

The instability is not a surprise to Canadian military and political leaders who orchestrated Canada’s war on that country. Eight days before Canadian fighter jets began dropping bombs on Libya in 2011 military intelligence officers told Ottawa decision makers the country would likely descend into a lengthy civil war if foreign countries assisted rebels opposed to Muammar Gadhafi. An internal assessment obtained by the Ottawa Citizen noted, “there is the increasing possibility that the situation in Libya will transform into a long-term tribal/civil war… This is particularly probable if opposition forces received military assistance from foreign militaries.”

A year and a half before the war a Canadian intelligence report described eastern Libya as an “epicentre of Islamist extremism” and said “extremist cells” operated in the anti-Gadhafi stronghold. In fact, during the bombing, notes Ottawa Citizen military reporter David Pugliese,Canadian air force members privately joked they were part of “al-Qaida’s  air force”. Lo and behold hardline Jihadists were the major beneficiaries of the war, taking control of significant portions of the country.

A Canadian general oversaw NATO’s 2011 war, seven CF-18s participated in bombing runs and two Royal Canadian Navy vessels patrolled Libya’s coast. Ottawa defied the UN Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians by dispatching ground forces, delivering weaponry to the opposition and bombing in service of regime change. Additionally, Montréal-based private security firm Garda World aided the rebels in contravention of UN resolutions 1970 and 1973.

The NATO bombing campaign was justified based on exaggerations and outright lies about the Gaddafi regime’s human rights violations. Western media and politicians repeated the rebels’ outlandish (and racist) claims that sub-Saharan African mercenaries fuelled by Viagra given by Gaddafi, engaged in mass rape. Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera, who was in Libya for three months after the start of the uprising and Liesel Gerntholtz, head of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, were unable to find any basis for these claims.

But, seduced by the need to “do something”, the NDP, Stephen Lewis, Walter Dorn and others associated with the Left supported the war on Libya. In my new book Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada I question the “do more” mantra and borrow from healthcare to offer a simple foreign policy principle: First Do No Harm. As in the medical industry, responsible practitioners of foreign policy should be mindful that the “treatments” offered often include “side effects” that can cause serious harm or even kill.

Leftists should err on the side of caution when aligning with official/dominant media policy, particularly when NATO’s war drums are beating. Just because the politicians and dominant media say we have to “do something” doesn’t make it so. Libya and the Sahel region of Africa would almost certainly be better off had a “first do no harm” policy won over the interventionists in 2011.

While a “do more” ethos spans the political divide, a “first do no harm” foreign policy is rooted in international law. The concept of self-determination is a core principle of the UN Charter and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Peoples’ inalienable right to shape their own destiny is based on the truism that they are best situated to run their own affairs.

Alongside the right to self-determination, the UN and Organization of American States prohibit interfering in the internal affairs of another state without consent. Article 2 (7) of the UN Charter states that “nothing should authorize intervention in matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.”

A military intervention without UN approval is the “supreme international crime”. Created by the UN’s International Law Commission after World War II, the Nuremberg Principles describe aggression as the “supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” In other words, by committing an act of aggression against Libya in 2011 — notably bombing in service of regime change — Ottawa is responsible not only for rights violations it caused directly, but also those that flowed from its role in destabilizing that country and large swaths of Africa’s Sahel region.

If Canada is to truly be the “good doctor” of international relations it will be up to Left foreign policy practitioners to ensure that this country lives up to that part of the Hippocratic oath stating, “First do no harm”.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Bret Stephens’ Neocon Vision

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 20.09.2018

The neoconservative vision of the world is a place where the United States can do what it wants because it is both better morally speaking and also more capable of enforcing desirable standards of behavior. Such a viewpoint just might perhaps be understandable if Washington were actually willing to operate in a disinterested leadership capacity to promote standards that are generally accepted by the international community, somewhat similar to what the United Nations is supposed to do, but it becomes repugnant when there is no sense that the US is actually willing to judge itself by the values that it claims to be upholding. This is why global opinion believes that Washington, not Russia or China, is the greatest threat to world peace and also why the United States ranks near the bottom in opinion polls assessing which countries are viewed favorably.

Every story has to begin somewhere and that is the neocon trick. You take a situation that you have framed from your own perspective and then use it as a starting point for developing additional arguments that favor the action you wanted to take in the first place. In the case of a country like Iran, you claim that the Iranians must be checked because (a) they are destabilizing the region (b) building a Shi’ite land bridge to the Mediterranean (c) supporting terrorism (d) secretly constructing a nuclear weapon and (e) developing ballistic missiles that will enable them to deliver the nuclear weapons. By establishing your premise of Iranian threat as the basis for the discussion, you completely avoid having to demonstrate that Iran is actually doing any of those things, which is a good thing because every single point is either palpably false or can be easily challenged.

The same goes for Syria, where the argument is framed that Syria is becoming an Iranian satrapy and that US troops are in the country to defeat terrorists. Actually, there is a legitimate government in Damascus that is independent of Iran and it is the American soldiers that are present completely illegally in support of some of the terrorists it is supposed to be fighting. But to admit either fact to be true would not be acceptable as it would ruin the discussion from the neocon point of view.

A recent New York Times Bret Stephens op-ed “To Thwart Iran, Save Idlib” on the situation in Syria illustrates just what is wrong with neocon thinking. Stephens is a card-carrying Zionist who has lived in Israel and was between 2002 and 2004 the Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Post, at that time a right-wing English language newspaper. He still supports the invasion of Iraq and predictably has declared the now-dead nuclear pact with Iran to be worse than the 1938 Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler. It is always 1938 in Munich for someone like Stephens.

In other words, Stephens, with his blinders firmly in place, is not a go-to person if you want to know what is actually happening in Syria or Iran. His op-ed asserts that the United States must act forcefully to prevent the Syrian government’s attempt to retake its terrorist infested Idlib Province.

Why? Because Iran and Russia will be empowered otherwise and the US will appear weak. You see, Stephens believes the “top priority in the Middle East is to thwart Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions.” He asks “So why is [the Trump Administration] so reluctant to lift a finger against Tehran’s most audacious gambit in Syria?”

Stephens explains: “By now, the strategic consequences should also be obvious. Iran will have succeeded in consolidating a Shiite crescent stretching from Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Russia will have succeeded in reasserting itself as a Mideast military victor and diplomatic power broker. Hezbollah, already the dominant political player in Lebanon, will further extend its influence in Syria. As for Assad, he will have shown that the community of civilized nations will, in fact, let you get away with murder.”

What should be done by Washington and its allies? “… The US can destroy everything that remains of the Syrian Air Force and crater the runways… If Assad continues to move, his presidential palaces should be next. After that, Assad himself. By then he will have been fairly warned. The larger goal is to establish that the US has the ability and will to achieve core foreign policy objectives at a relatively reasonable price.”

There is a word in Italian “pazzo.” It means crazy, but actually has a somewhat stronger meaning, more like delusional, completely nuts. Stephens qualifies, particularly when he presumably includes the United States and Israel among the world’s “community of civilized nations.” Both have been bombing and shooting up Syria even though Damascus has neither threatened nor attacked them. And the Shi’ite crescent is a total fabrication, invented by Israel and repeated endlessly by suck-up American politicians and media talking heads like Stephens. Iraq is 60% Shi’ite to be sure, but the rest of its mostly Sunni population is well entrenched and has fought to maintain its autonomy. Syria is 75% Sunni and 9% Christian. Lebanon is 27% Sunni, 6% Druze, and 40% Christian. Do the math Bret!

And don’t you just love the “achieve core foreign policy objectives at a relatively reasonable price” bit? Destroying the country’s air force and airports, blowing up its government buildings, and assassinating its head of state might be reasonable for armchair warriors in Washington, but it looks a lot different on the ground where most would consider it undeclared war of aggression. That’s a war crime.

And to get back to my original point, all the nonsense is designed to support a narrative of death and destruction that starts with the reader having to accept Stephen’s assertion that there is an actual threat out there even when there is none. Nice work Bret Stephens!

September 20, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Iran urges UN to censure Israel’s nuclear threat, make it respect international rules

Press TV – September 20, 2018

Tehran has written to the United Nations, calling on the world body to condemn Israel for threatening Iran with a nuclear attack and bring the regime’s atomic weapons program under its supervision.

Standing right beside the Dimona nuclear facility late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Iran as a “threat” to the region and said Tel Aviv has the means to destroy its “enemies” in a veiled reference to Tel Aviv’s nuclear arsenal.

“Those who threaten to wipe us out put themselves in a similar danger, and in any event will not achieve their goal,” he said. “But our enemies know very well what Israel is capable of doing. They are familiar with our policy. Whoever tries to hurt us – we hurt them.”

In a letter addressed to the UN on Thursday, the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the world body said Netanyahu’s belligerent remarks poses “a serious threat to international peace and security.”

It also urged the UN to make Israel abide by international rules and the UN Charter.

The letter also highlighted Israel’s long history of aggression, occupation, militarism and state terrorism among other international crimes, urging the world community to take a firm position on the Zionist regime’s “unbridled actions and nuclear threat.”

In the letter, Iran further demanded that the UN condemn Israel’s anti-Iran threat, make the regime join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and bring its nuclear program under the supervesion of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

It also reminded the UN that Iran is itself a victim of weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical weapons.

The UN member states should not turn a blind eye to Israel’s threat and make efforts towards to the elimination of its entire nuclear stockpile, the letter read.

Responding to Netanyahu’s highly aggressive comments, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed the premier as “warmonger” and said the threat was “ beyond shameless.”

“Iran, a country without nuclear weapons, is threatened with atomic annihilation by a warmonger standing next to an actual nuclear weapons factory. Beyond shameless in the gall,” Zarif tweeted.

Israel is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, but its policy is to neither confirm nor deny that it has atomic bombs. The Tel Aviv regime is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.

Unlike Iran, the regime is not a member of the NPT — whose aim is to prevent the spread of nuclear arms and weapons technology – in defiance of international pressure.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s Failed Attempt to Start WWIII Is the Beginning of the End in Syria

By Tom LUONGO | Strategic Culture Foundation | 19.09.2018

There is one thing that Israel fears more than anything else in Syria. The loss of its ability to fly its F-16’s with impunity and hit whatever targets it wants claiming defensive measures to stop Iran, their existential enemy.

Israel finally admitted to carrying out over 200 such missions over the past 18 months, only a few of which ever made any kind of international media, recently.

And with the sneak attack on Latakia which involved using a Russian IL-20 ELINT war plane as radar cover Israel has now not only raised the stakes to an unacceptable level, it has also ensured that this may be the last such aerial assault it will ever be able to carry out.

The setup is pretty clear. Israel and France coordinated an attack on multiple targets within Syria without US involvement but with absolute US knowledge of the operation to provoke Russia into going off half-cocked by attacking the inconsequential French frigate which assisted Israel’s air attack.

Any denunciation of sinister intent by Israeli Defense Forces is hollow because if they had not intended to provoke a wider conflict they would have given Russia more than one minute to clear their planes from the area.

That would constitute an attack on a NATO member state and require a response from NATO, thereby getting the exact escalation needed to continue the war in Syria indefinitely and touch off WWIII.

This neatly bypasses any objections to a wider conflict by President Trump who would have to respond militarily to a Russian attack on a NATO ally. It also would reassert NATO’s necessity in the public dialogue, further marginalizing Trump’s attacks on it and any perceived drive of his for peace.

That this took place within the 60 days window of the mid-term elections should also not be discounted.

This attack took place just hours after Presidents Erdogan and Putin negotiated a ‘peaceful’ settlement for Idlib province by declaring a De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) 15-20 kilometers wide which everyone, including Erdogan’s pets Jabhat al-Nusra would have to abide by.

Peace was breaking out in Syria and Israel and the war-hawks in D.C. weren’t standing for that.

By conducting this attack like this Israel and the NATO crowd figured it would be a win/win for them.

If Russia strikes back at France, then NATO invokes Article 5 and they get their wider war.

If Russia doesn’t strike back Putin loses face within Russia, his popularity drops 5 points and John Bolton begins salivating at the prospect of regime change in Russia. Yes, they are that insane.

It was a neat piece of geopolitical maneuvering, almost judo-like. Russia and Syria looked to be on the verge of victory, extending themselves in a major conflict that would result in months of bad press. We were expecting a possible false-flag chemical weapons attack, cries of humanitarian crisis and all the rest of the tired virtue-signaling we can expect by US ‘diplomatic’ officials that has been all too common even under Trump.

What we got was the opposite, a carefully-crafted assault on Russian military forces wherein Russia’s vaunted air-defense systems would be blamed for its own people’s deaths and a mistaken counter-attack that justifies the “Putin is a Vile War-Monger” narrative to justify a US invasion of Syria which has been held in amber since 2013 and Putin’s skillful defusing that situation via diplomatic means.

For once, this almost looked like a well-thought out plan. Not the usual ham-fisted crudities we’ve been treated to over the last few years. But, here’s the rub.

It didn’t work.

By naming names and immediately not responding militarily during the ‘fog of war’ Russia and Putin again prove to be more skilled at this than their adversaries.

Because none of what I just outlined will come to pass. And France, Israel and the US will be the ones to lose face here. And with Israel betraying Putin’s forbearance after April’s air strikes on Damascus, he will have no choice but to upgrade Syria’s air defense systems from S-200’s to S-300’s and possibly S-400’s.

This is Israel’s worst nightmare. A situation where any aerial assault on targets within Syria would be suicide missions, puncturing the myth of the Israeli air force’s superiority and shifting the delicate balance of power in Syria decidedly against them.

This is why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worked Putin so hard over the last two years. But, this incident wipes that slate clean. This was a cynical betrayal of Putin’s trust and patience. And Israel will now pay the price for their miscalculation.

Giving Syria S-300’s does not avenge the fifteen dead Russian soldiers. Putin will have to respond to that in a more concrete way to appease the hardliners in his government and at home. His patience and seeming passivity are being pushed to their limit politically. This is, after all, a side benefit to all of this for the neoconservative and globalist hawks in D.C., Europe and Tel Aviv.

But, the real loss here for Israel will be Russia instituting a no-fly zone over western Syria. Any less response from Putin will be seized upon by and the situation will escalate from here. So, Putin has to deploy S-300’s here. And once that happens, the real solution to Syria begins in earnest.

Because at that point it will be the US’s move to flat-out invade without provocation, now that a solution is in place in Syria between Russia and a NATO member, Turkey.

The only good news in all of this is that US forces were not involved. This still tells me that Trump and Mattis are still in charge of their chain of command and that other forces are conspiring to drag them into a conflict no one in their right minds wants.

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia Bankrolled Iran’s MEK with Tons of Gold, Rolexes – Report

Sputnik – 19.09.2018

A former high-ranking MEK official confirmed long-held suspicions that Saudi Arabia has been financing the political-militant group bent on violent regime change in Iran through sophisticated channels to provide the group with valuables like gold and Rolex watches, according to a new report.

In an interview with Jordanian news outlet Al-Bawaba Tuesday, a former MEK member who oversaw the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of materials explained how the group has stayed financially afloat.

Massoud Khodabandeh explained that 3 tons of solid gold, a minimum of four suitcases of customized Rolex watches and fabric that had been used to cover the Muslim holy site of Kaaba in Mecca were among the commodities shipped from Saudi Arabia to MEK operatives in Baghdad as part of the scheme. From there, the valuables would be sold on the black market in Jordan’s capital, Amman, to Saudi-aligned merchants.

“Aided by two Iraqi and two Saudi representatives, Khodabandeh smuggled three trucks filled with gold bars from Saudi Arabia to Baghdad. He estimated that each truck held about a ton of gold, making the shipment’s contemporary worth almost $200 million,” Al-Bawaba reports. After selling the gold, funds would be sent to offshore MEK bank accounts, Khodabandeh said.

The report says that the US also supported the MEK by providing the UN Refugee Agency with $20 million in order to transport thousands of MEK members from Iraq to Albania. The US then gave Albania funds to construct a “military-style facility for the MEK, in which it is currently holed up.”

War hawks in Washington point to the MEK as the most viable proxy force for bringing down the Iranian government. The group doesn’t  have support within Iran, according to Saeed Jalili, a Tehran-based writer. “I have not heard anyone asking them [MEK] to make a comeback in Iran or anything like that,” Jalili told Al Jazeera in March.

“There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs. And that opposition is centered in this room today,” John Bolton, once the US ambassador to the UN and now White House national security adviser, said during a speech at an MEK conference in Paris last year.

Bolton went so far as to conclude his remarks by predicting the overthrow of the Iranian government by the end of 2018, according to Iranian expat journalist Bahman Kalbasi. “And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran,” Bolton said to a round of roaring applause.

“We resettled a lot of the MEK people from Iraq in Albania,” Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator at the time, told Foreign Policy in April. “It became the goal of the US government to get them out of there. That is the reason they were delisted” from the US list of terror groups in 2012.

“It happened under the secretary’s authority, not because they had met the requirements for not being a terrorist group,” said Benjamin, who is now director of the Center For International Understanding at Dartmouth University. Hillary Clinton was the US secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, before John Kerry assumed the post until the arrival of the Trump administration in 2017.

“Bolton is positively predisposed to the MEK,” a foreign policy Capitol Hill staffer told Foreign Policy in April, when Bolton joined the White House as national security adviser. “They will have some access to this White House at least.”

September 18, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

‘You are to blame for downing of Il-20 and death of its crew,’ Russia tells Israel

RT | September 18, 2018

Russia has formally complained to Israel about its air raid on Monday, which led to the downing of a Russian Il-20 plane off the Syrian coast. Moscow has laid the blame for the crew’s deaths “squarely on the Israeli side.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu spoke to his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on the phone about the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane on Monday night. He relayed Moscow’s position on the incident, blaming the Israeli military for setting up the Russian plane to be shot down by Syrian air defenses, which were responding to an Israeli air raid, an official statement from the Russian military said.

Shoigu reiterated that Israel failed to notify Russia of the impending attack in a way that would have given its military an opportunity to move the Il-20 out of harm’s way. Instead, the warning came just one minute before the Israeli F-16 fighter jets launched their attack.

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” the Minister Shoigu said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Israeli jets had used the bigger Russian plane as cover during their attack on targets in Syria. The ministry said the Israelis must have known that they were putting the Russian plane at risk, but neither changed their battle plan nor gave a warning in time for the Il-20 to be moved to a safe area.

Israel later responded to the Russian statements, saying it had attacked a Syrian military site overnight. Israeli said the mission was to destroy arms-manufacturing equipment which they claim was to be delivered to Lebanon on behalf of Iran. Israel insisted that the responsibility for the Russian deaths was not on Israel, but on Syria and its allies, Iran and Hezbollah.

September 18, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

Russian plane disappears from radars during Israeli attack on Syria’s Latakia – MoD

RT | September 17, 2018

A Russian military Il-20 aircraft with 14 service members on board went off the radars during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Air traffic controllers at the Khmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft on Wednesday evening, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia, said the MOD.

Russian radars also registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17.

Fourteen people were on board the plane at the time of the disappearance. A search and rescue mission is underway.

The Ilyushin 20 (IL-20) surveillance turboprop plane is an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) platform, equipped with a wide range of antennas, infrared and optical sensors. The aircraft’s SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) and the plane’s satellite link allows the Russian military to monitor Syrian skies in real time.

An hour-long attack on Latakia began around 10 pm local time, and targeted a power station as well as two facilities belonging to the Syrian military. Syrian officials said the attack was “foreign” and came “from the sea,” but could not initially confirm rumors that Israel was behind it. Seven people were injured in the attack, according to Syrian officials.

While the Russian military said it recorded four F-16 Israeli jets over Syria at the time of the attack on Latakia, the IDF has refused to comment on the report.

The attack on Latakia came just hours after Russia and Turkey negotiated a partial demilitarization of the Idlib province, which is the last remaining stronghold of anti-government militants, including the Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (also known as the Jabhat Al-Nusra).

READ MORE:

Russia detects missile launches from French frigate off Syria’s coast in Mediterranean – MoD

September 17, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Forget Putin, Trump is Acting in Every Way Like Netanyahu’s Manchurian Candidate

By Miko Peled | Mint Press News | September 15, 2018

In the months leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, the U.S. has colluded with Israel in a string of policies and decisions that completely undermine the legitimacy of the agreement, not to mention Palestinian claims to justice, freedom and ultimately peace. As these policies unfold, one cannot help recalling the words of the great Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, who said that talking with the Israelis is “a conversation between the sword and the neck.”

There is a clear common thread that binds several of the U.S. policies enacted by President Donald Trump since last December. Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; pulling out of the Iran agreement; defunding UNRWA, and closing the PLO mission in D.C. all satisfy the objectives of the Israeli government while not benefiting the United States in the least. One might imagine that the United States is executing Israel’s policy, reading as it were from a menu that was provided by Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, the Trump administration is every Israeli prime minister’s dream.

Jerusalem

Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was reckless, dangerous and absurd. The occupation and annexation of Jerusalem by Israel was in violation of UN resolution 181 from November 1947, which states in “Part III, City of Jerusalem” that:

“The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The Trusteeship Council shall be designated to discharge the responsibilities of the Administering Authority on behalf of the United Nations.”

Resolution 194 from December 1948 — in other words, more than a year after Resolution 181 was passed and the western half of Jerusalem was occupied and subjected to a total full ethnic cleansing, where not one Palestinian was permitted to remain — reiterates this:

8 | Resolves that, in view of its association with three world religions, the Jerusalem area, including the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western, Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern, Shu’fat, should be accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control …

For this reason all diplomatic missions to Israel are situated in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem. The diplomatic missions in Jerusalem mostly pre-date the establishment of the State of Israel and are considered sovereign and independent of their countries’ embassies in Tel Aviv. Even the U.S. consulate until recently reported directly to Washington, and the consul general was in fact an ambassador. This was not unlike placing the U.S. embassy to France in Berlin and — according to sources I spoke to at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem — now that the ambassador’s office was moved to Jerusalem, the place is in a state of confusion and it is not at all clear who is responsible for what.

In addition to all of the above, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel legitimizes the crime of ethnic cleansing and destruction which Israel has perpetrated in Jerusalem since 1948. This move did not benefit the U.S. in any way but it boosted Benjamin Netanyahu’s political power, and can be viewed as nothing less than a personal political gift from the president of the United States to Netanyahu.

Iran Deal

Israel, and Netanyahu, in particular, have been against the nuclear deal with Iran from the very beginning. Needing a diversion from its own war crimes and violations of international law, Israel has for many years pointed to Iran as a threat to itself and the rest of the world. This was a point of serious disagreement between the Obama administration and Israel and then Donald Trump put the disagreement to rest and the U.S. withdrew from the agreement.

According to a piece in Rand.com, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement “despite a lack of evidence that Iran is violating the agreement. To the contrary, the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iran’s compliance numerous times.” The article continues by saying, “the implications of this decision could be disastrous for the Middle East under any conceivable scenario.”

piece in the British Independent bluntly claims that:

“The president’s foreign policy has so far been marked by a significant ratcheting of tensions with Iran, driven by his administration’s noted friendliness towards Israel, which opposes the [Iran nuclear] deal.”

According to a report from August 2018 by the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency:

“Since Implementation Day, the Agency has been verifying and monitoring the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.” The report states that among other things:

“Since 16 January, 2016 [JCPOA Implementation Day], the Agency has verified and monitored Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments in accordance with the modalities set out in the JCPOA.”

The report states clearly that Iran was and continues to be compliant in all areas of the agreement. All the other countries that are signatories to the agreement remain committed to it, and they all insisted that a U.S. withdrawal was a mistake. Only one person insisted the U.S. must withdraw, and that is Benjamin Netanyahu, and he is the one person whose claims President Trump decided to accept. Once again, the United States had nothing to gain and everything to lose from the withdrawal and once again Netanyahu personally gained political strength as the sole voice to which the president of the United States listens.

UNRWA

The United States can see no benefit whatsoever in denying UNRWA funding; yet this is what the Trump administration decided to do. The very agency responsible for providing relief, albeit inadequate, to the refugees of Palestine was receiving $300 million per year, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of relief and of course in terms of the U.S. government’s total budget. In an open letter to Palestine refugees and UNRWA staff, dated September 1, 2018, Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General, writes,

“The need for humanitarian action … in the case of Palestine refugees, was caused by forced displacement, dispossession, loss of homes and livelihoods, as well as by statelessness and occupation. … [T]he undeniable fact remains that they have rights under international law and represent a community of 5.4 million men, women and children who cannot simply be wished away.”

“The attempt to make UNRWA somehow responsible for perpetuating the crisis is disingenuous at best,” the commissioner said, responding to claims made by Netanyahu that “UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees.” Netanyahu also stated that UNRWA “perpetuates the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return,’” which the state of Israel fears — and therefore, according to Netanyahu, “UNRWA must disappear.”

According to The New York Times, this move was pushed hard by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, “as part of a plan to compel Palestinian politicians to drop demands for many of those refugees to return.”  The right of the refugees to return is enshrined in UN Resolution 194, and one wonders why the U.S. should object to Palestinian demand for return of the refugees to their homes? Once again this is a gift to Netanyahu, who wants to see the refugee issue disappear.

PLO Mission

A product of the Oslo Accords, the PLO mission in Washington is the de-facto embassy of Palestine, the face and the voice of the Palestinian Authority in the U.S. Now, almost exactly on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Accords, the Trump administration announces the closing of the mission. It could have come as no surprise when Netanyahu, who fiercely opposed the Accords, applauded the U.S. administration decision. This was yet one more insignificant step for the U.S., and one giant gift to Benjamin Netanyahu.

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Israeli minister urges assassination of Palestinian leaders

Palestine Information Center – September 16, 2018

Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan called for assassinating Hamas leaders in the besieged Gaza Strip to quell anti-occupation protests at the eastern borders.

Israel’s Channel 7 quoted Erdan as stating that Israel might increase secret assassinations in case Hamas continues to fuel anti-occupation protests on borderlands with Gaza.

Erdan vowed that the Israeli army will step up aggressions against Hamas no matter the cost.

Sometime earlier, Israeli lawmaker Haim Jelin called for launching attacks against Hamas resistance fighters so as to force the group to yield into a long-term ceasefire in response to an alleged incendiary balloon dropped at his home in Kibbutz settler community, near Gaza’s border area.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

While all eyes are on Syria’s Idlib, US continues to decimate Yemen

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | September 14, 2018

The US is ready to defend Syria from a brutish assault launched by Syria’s own government and its allies – or so Washington wants you to believe. In the backdrop, Yemen continues to burn in silence.

On September 3, US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley – eloquent diplomat that she is –  retweeted a tweet from the warmonger in chief that is the US president, with the caption “All eyes on the actions of Assad, Russia and Iran in Idlib.” This is the same US administration who just facilitated the bombing of a school bus in Yemen, slaughtering at least 40 children in the process.

Maybe, just maybe, Nikki Haley should keep her eyes on herself.

If the world did direct its eyes to what is taking place in Yemen, they would know that the United Nations has just warned of an “incalculable human cost” in the works, as the US and its allies press forward with an offensive to retake the Yemeni port city of Hodeida from the Houthi rebels.

That’s right. The US, currently waving its arms in despair about human rights abuses and chemical weapons attacks that have not even taken place in Syria yet, is supporting a major offensive of its own that will lead to a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions.

Yemen, a country already deeply in crisis, relies on the port of Hodeida for at least 70 percent of its humanitarian aid. It therefore makes sense from a humanitarian perspective to turn its location into a major war zone, am I right?

The small minority of people who are inclined to care about innocent Yemenis need not fret though. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just this week certified that the Saudi-led coalition is taking sufficient steps to protect civilians. According to Pompeo, the Gulf nations involved are “undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.”

“They are taking steps, in the view of the US government and this administration, in the right direction,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing, according to Reuters. “We see them taking steps. Is it perfect? No absolutely not. Do we see them doing what they can to mitigate civilian casualties? Absolutely we do.”

Thank God – I was getting worried there for a second. The US-backed Saudi-led coalition may be killing children as if they were ants, but they are taking steps to mitigate the number of children they are killing at the same time.

A seven-page memo sent to Congress and obtained by the Intercept further confirmed Pompeo’s delusional thinking, as the memo called Saudi Arabia and the UAE “strong counterterrorism partners.” Never mind that just last month, the Associated Press reported the US and its allies were actually recruiting Al-Qaeda fighters to join the coalition.

Oops.

While the Trump administration is taking a horrifying and bloody war and taking it to new depths, the truth of the matter is that this war did not begin under Donald Trump. The war in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, fast becoming the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, was started by none other than peace-prize laureate Barack Obama himself.

But why did this war start, and why has the US continued to support it?

In an overlooked interview with the Real News’ Aaron Maté, Rob Malley, President of the International Crisis Group and former Special Assistant to President Obama, gave a disturbing glimpse into who actually pulls the strings on US foreign policy.

According to Malley:

“To try to understand what the Obama administration was about, and I’ve tried to- just to try to, to explain it to myself, to try to understand how we got to where we are, let’s not forget at the time we were in the middle of these negotiations with Iran, trying to reach a nuclear deal which was extremely unpopular with our traditional allies in the region, from Israel to Saudi Arabia to the UAE and others. And the Saudis came to us and said that they were about to intervene in Yemen, to attack the Houthis that had toppled the legitimate government of the internationally recognized government at the time. And they asked for our assistance…”

“So there was on the one hand a number of voices expressing concern about that. But on the other hand were many people saying the relationship with Saudi Arabia is almost at breaking point. They believe we’d betrayed their trust for a number of reasons. But Iran, Iran negotiating the Iran deal, or the negotiations over the Iran deal was one of them. We needed to protect that deal and make sure that we could get it done, because if we didn’t have a deal there was a risk of a war with Iran. And so I think the decision was made in the end by President Obama to say we’re going to be, to support parts of this war…”

Only a peace prize laureate could pull off a feat like that. But all joking aside, the human cost of the war in Yemen is nothing short of shameless.

On October 8, 2016, an aerial bombardment targeted a crowded funeral in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, the aftermath of which was aptly described as a “lake of blood.” According to the UN, more than 140 Yemenis were killed and at least 525 others were injured.

To date, the US-backed Saudi-led coalition has struck well over 100 hospitals, as well as wedding parties, refugee camps, food trucks, factories, transport routes, agricultural land, residential areas, and schools, to name a few. Yes, you read that right. Yemen, with only 2.8 percent of its land being cultivated, is actively targeted by the US-backed coalition. According to Martha Mundy, professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, “to hit that small amount of agricultural land, you have to target it.”

Prior to spiralling into chaos, Yemen was already dependent on imports for 90 percent of its staple foods and almost all of its fuel and medical supplies. Putting aside the mass amount of violence that the US-backed coalition has enacted, the rest of Yemen’s population is suffering due to the Saudi-imposed blockade, which has put half the population at risk of starvation. According to the UN, over 462,000 children under the age of five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

This is done completely on purpose. At the end of August this year, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, threatened that he would continue targeting women and children in Yemen and allegedly said that he wants to “leave a big impact on the consciousness of Yemeni generations.”

“We want their children, women and even their men to shiver whenever the name of Saudi Arabia is mentioned,” the Crown Prince reportedly said.

The idea, advanced by Pompeo and his cohorts at the State Department, that the coalition has taken steps to avoid civilian casualties is by all accounts, complete nonsense. As the New York Times openly acknowledged:

“The first problem was the ability of Saudi pilots, who were inexperienced in flying missions over Yemen and fearful of enemy ground fire. As a result, they flew at high altitudes to avoid the threat below. But flying high also reduced the accuracy of their bombing and increased civilian casualties,” American officials said.

“American advisers suggested how the pilots could safely fly lower, among other tactics. But the airstrikes still landed on markets, homes, hospitals, factories and ports, and are responsible for the majority of the 3,000 civilian deaths during the yearlong war, according to the United Nations.”

In addition to supplying billions of dollars’ worth of arms to the Saudi kingdom, US personnel provide overwhelming assistance to the Saudi-led coalition to help bring Yemen to its knees by sitting in the Saudi’s command and control center, providing lists of targets, refuelling planes, running intelligence missions, and so forth.

If Donald Trump is so concerned with migrants and refugees, perhaps he should stop creating them. If he really cares about ‘America first’ and making America great again, perhaps racking up notches to America’s war crime belt is not the way to go. Legal experts have already warned the US government that its complicity in these attacks can make them a co-belligerent in Saudi Arabia’s vast, extensive list of war crimes. This warning has fallen completely on deaf ears and has not helped at all in deterring the Trump administration from continuing some of Barack Obama’s worst policies; and even now the US continues to shelter the Saudi-led coalition so that it can continue its bloodthirsty policies unabated.

Make no mistake, if the US pulled its support for Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s suffering could stop tomorrow.

Watch out for Assad though; I heard he was about to retake a Syrian city from an Al-Qaeda affiliate. Remember Al-Qaeda, the notorious terror group the US claimed was the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks? Apparently, the entire US government doesn’t, as it allies itself with Al-Qaeda in just about every battlefield that counts.

In the meantime, ordinary Yemenis continue to suffer by the millions. If you can absorb all of this and still believe the US is genuinely concerned about human rights abuses in places like Syria, then you probably deserve what’s to come next.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment