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Moscow Doesn’t Plan to Create Stronghold in Libya – Russian Embassy in UK

Sputnik – October 9, 2018

LONDON – The Russian Embassy in London on Tuesday refuted reports claiming that Moscow was allegedly plotting to get control over European immigration routes in Libya and establish a stronghold against the West.

“This publication has nothing to do with reality. We are treating it as a new attempt to shift the responsibility for the ruined country and destroyed lives of millions of Libyans on Russia which had no relation to the 2011 NATO military intervention which grossly violated the whole range of UN Security Council resolutions,” a representative of the embassy told reporters.

The embassy added that Russia supported peacemaking efforts in Libya and never planned any military intervention.

“We fully respect the UN Security Council Resolution 1970 which imposed an arms embargo on Libya,” the mission representative said.

On Monday, The Sun reported that the UK intelligence had warned UK Prime Minister Theresa May of Moscow’s alleged plans to send weapons and troops to Libya to turn it into “new Syria” and take control of migration routes to Europe thus increasing Moscow’s influence on the West.

Russia calls for the parties to the Libyan conflict to engage in a constructive dialogue on political settlement as the only way to end the crisis, the embassy concluded.

Libya has been in turmoil since the overthrow of its long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country is divided between two governments, with the eastern part controlled by the Libyan National Army and the western part governed by the UN-backed Government of National Accord of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj.

Libya is also the major gate for migrants from all of the North Africa attempting to cross the Mediterranean and settle in Europe.

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

UAE recruiting Africans for Saudi-led war: Report

Press TV – October 3, 2018

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia’s key partner in the ongoing Riyadh-led invasion of Yemen, has reportedly been recruiting tribesmen from northern and central parts of Africa to fight in the war.

The campaign features Emirati envoys “seducing” the tribesmen across a vast area spanning southern Libya as well as entire Chad and Niger, who earn a living by herding as well as human and material smuggling, the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) press monitoring organization reported on Wednesday.

“This campaign is supervised by Emirati officials who gained material profits in collaboration with human traffickers,” the report added.

An awareness campaign has been launched by Chadian activists, led by campaigner Mohamed Zain Ibrahim, to warn the tribesmen against joining the Saudi-led war.

“The Arabs of the [Persian] Gulf region, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have never bothered to get to know the Arabs of the desert, and today they are asking for their support and seducing them to fight by their side in Yemen!” MEMO cited Ibrahim as telling pan-Arab Arabi21 electronic newspaper.

The envoys offer potential mercenaries such incentives as sums ranging from $900 to $3,000, in addition to acquiring UAE citizenship in return for their applying for jobs in Emirati security companies.

Ibrahim said the job opportunities were “an actual military recruitment campaign to gather mercenaries for the Yemeni war and use them to fight the people of Yemen, who are Arabs and Muslims as well, and all that for a bunch of dollars.”

“A delegation of Emirati people in business visited Niger in January 2018, where they met Arab tribal leaders and recruited 10,000 tribesmen living between Libya, Chad, and Niger,” MEMO said.

The Emirates has been contributing heavily to the 2015-present war, which seeks to reinstall Yemen’s former Saudi-allied officials.

In addition to their own forces, both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have deployed thousands of militants across the violence-scarred country to intensify the invasion.

The Emirati side began beefing up its contribution in June, when the coalition launched a much-criticized offensive against al-Hudaydah, Yemen’s key port city, which receives the bulk of its imports.

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

7 years after US got its way in South Sudan & death toll approaches 400,000, study shows

RT | October 2, 2018

The US pushed hard to split South Sudan from its northern neighbor. But instead of ending violence, the move led to a civil war, which caused nearly 400,000 deaths, according to a new study.

South Sudan is the world’s youngest internationally recognized nation, which got its independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of bloodshed and two major civil wars. The bid for independence was pushed hard by the US under several administrations. But the euphoria from the birth of a new nation didn’t last long.

In late 2013, President Salva Kiir Mayardit – best known in the US for receiving a Stetson hat as a gift from George W Bush and making it a permanent part of his image – accused his former deputy Riek Machar and other opponents of attempting a coup. Violence broke out in the capital and spread all over the country. After four years and several failed attempts at a peace deal, South Sudan remains just as divided as the unified Sudan was before 2011.

The death toll from the civil war is hard to count. The UN tally in 2016 stated it at about 50,000. A new study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which was partially funded by the US State Department, estimated that the conflict resulted in 382,000 deaths, roughly half directly from violence and the rest from causes like malnutrition and diseases, which were exacerbated by the ongoing conflict. Some 2 million were displaced while about 2.5 million fled to neighboring nations, the study said.

RT’s Caleb Maupin reports how the US-backed nation-building project in South Sudan turned out to be yet another failure.

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , | 2 Comments

A Wake-Up Call to the Canadian Left

By Michael Welton | CounterPunch | September 26, 2018

Yves Engler is Canada’s foremost feisty contrarian. Contrarians oppose what most people think about people and events. They don’t like to bask in the sunlight. They would rather look in the shadows or dimly lit back alleys. If they walk on a summer beach, they pay little attention to the sun glinting off the shells. They want to see what lies under the rocks.

Alas! There aren’t many contrarians left. We live in the age of the vanquished reporter and group think. The mass media (BBC, CNN, CBC) toe the prevalent hegemonic political line. They ask no questions. They speak confidently on the latest demonic act of Russia or Syria or Iran. Israel always gets off the hook, no matter how many Gazans are gunned down. The US-Saudi Arabia can massacre hundreds of thousands of Yemenis. Not on the news tonight! And won’t be on next week, either. All “unapproved evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality” (Robert Parry).

Engler’s new book, Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada’s Foreign Policy (Black Rose Publishers, 2018) follows in the train of previous muckraking and debunking books. Basically, Engler thinks the Canadian intelligentsia sees foreign policy through a glass darkly. They think that Canada is basically a benevolent nation. We (I am a Canadian) think we are not like our neighbour to the south. They are the land of conquest.

They are the democratic sheep in wolves clothing. They are the ones who bring “democracy and freedom” to nations on their gunboats. No, Canadians are a nation of peacekeepers and nice folks. Our myth-making agencies (Engler includes the Department of National Defense and Veteran Affairs as well the mass media) celebrate our heroic engagement in various wars and benevolent corporate and banking actions in the Caribbean and South America.

Engler believes adamantly that the left has “played a part in justifying Canada’s role within an unfair and unsustainable world economic system.” He focuses our attention on the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Party (CCF) and the New Democratic Party (NDP) because this social democratic party has a voice in parliament. They can speak out on foreign policy. He also examines labour union spokespersons and well-known left commentators’ views on foreign policy issues. But Engler points out that the early CCF, fired with a vision of justice for Canada, was silent on the Canadian banks substantial influence over Caribbean finance. Even the lauded Regina Manifesto (1933) ignored Canadian complicity in European colonialism and was weak on Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1936. Although in the years between 1933 and 1943, the CCF opposed imperialism and nationalism associated with Zionism. However, since then, the party has “often backed the dispossession of Palestinians.” Engler provides many more dispiriting examples.

He discovers that the left promotes imperial policies and recycles nationalist myths. In the post-WW II era, the CCF backed NATO and supported the Korean War. More recently, the NDP “endorsed bombing Syria and Libya.” Labour unions supported the Marshall Plan, NATO, Korean War, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the Bay of Pigs invasion. They were swept up in the anti-communist mania of the lamentable Cold War. On the economic front, Engler observes that Quebec sovereignists are progressive at home and, in the case of Haiti (Engler’s favourite example of Canadian political malfeasance), supported the overthrow of Jean-Baptiste Aristide in 2004.

Engler argues that liberal and left intellectuals are pressured to be patriotic. They mostly ignore international affairs. Social democracy has great difficulty criticizing their own government’s imperialism. We don’t realize, it seems, that Canada is not a mere caboose hinged to the imperialist train. We actively participate in imperial projects. We choose to send troops to the Ukraine, even though the US engineered the coup overthrowing Viktor Yanukovych and Ukrainian armies display fascist insignia at will. We heartily support the movement of NATO troops close to the Russian border. We seem averse to realizing how our present Canadian foreign policy does not foster world peace and unity at this moment of civilizational crisis.

PM Harper sent troops to fight for western hegemony in Afghanistan. We chirp along with the choir accusing Russia and Iran of just about everything nasty. It’s all their fault. We are stupefied on the drug of propaganda. Engler states: “But instead of criticizing the geo-strategic and corporate interests driving foreign policy, the NDP/CCF has often supported them and contributed to Canadians’ confusion about their country’s international relations.” Dissident CCF or NDP voices are usually repressed or preventing from running for office.

Engler’s text is packed with facts and details. That’s his style. A short review must entice the reader to dig into the text. But let me guide readers’ attention to several courageous investigations and commentaries that raised my eyebrows. It takes guts to demythologize Canada’s popular critics and causes. Many of Canada’s intellectuals are associated with think tanks. Engler argues that the influential Rideau Institute of International Affairs “spurns demilitarization and anti-imperialist voices.” He thinks that Peggy Mason, president of the Institute since 2014, has significant experience in Canadian foreign policy circles. But it is unlikely she will “forthrightly challenge the foreign policy status quo or the corporate interests that back it.”

Engler cuts to the quick regarding cheerleading Canada’s role as peacekeepers. He thinks this is mainly a way to “align with Canadian mythology and evade confronting military power.” For Engler, Canada’s peacekeeping in Egypt in 1956 and Cyprus in 1964 were aimed at reducing tensions within NATO. In the Congo and Korea, Engler states that “Ottawa contributed to US imperialist crimes.” These are harsh accusations that bump into our sense of being benevolent actors. Engler offers this nugget insight: the left nationalist mythologies separate us from US imperialism while obscuring our compliant service to western hegemony. Engler thinks that Linda McQuaig’s idealization of Lester Pearson is shameful.

Engler takes on Canada’s folk hero and distinguished public figure, Stephen Lewis. From 2001-2006, Lewis was the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. In his celebrated Massey lectures, Race Against Time (2005), Lewis “failed to critique any Canadian policy measure in Africa except for Ottawa’s insufficient aid.” In fact, Engler points out that Canada’s early assistance to Africa trained militaries to prevent the pursuit of “wholly independent paths.” Ottawa backed the overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966. Engler moves inside the murky and confused world of the Rwanda massacres in the mid-1990s. There are different narratives framing the meaning of these massacres.

Romeo Dallaire’s narrative is but one, now tattered, story. The gutsy Engler informs us that Dallaire justified the NATO invasion of Libya, and called for interventions in Darfur, Iran and Syria. Some scholars now shift the spotlight on the malevolent role of Paul Kagame, the leader of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, both in the Rwanda killings and invasion into the east Congo. Basically, Engler thinks that Lewis praises Kagame, an authoritarian dictator who brooks no opposition, far too much.

In his book, Lewis criticizes China for backing Khartoum but remains silent on Kagame’s invasion of the Congo. And Lewis has also been silent on “official Ottawa’s multi-faceted support for European colonial rule or Canada’s role in overthrowing progressive leaders Patrice Lumumba, Milton Obote and Kwame Nkrumah.” It seems, Engler suggests, that media coverage of Africa in the Canadian media (2003-2012) is still infected with a “moralizing gaze” and “white man’s burden” imagery.

It is not surprising that Engler wonders why the left “accept or promote policies that do harm to ordinary people across the planet.” In fact, one of Engler’s maxims for foreign policy is that we do no harm to others and act to sustain our common homeland, the earth. If many liberal or left critics raise tough questions on domestic issues, why do they see foreign policy through the glass darkly? Engler even shocks us by demonstrating that many indigenous people, victims of Canadian colonialism, joined in the wars of Empire.

For one thing, Engler argues insistently that the left has accommodated itself to a Canadian form of nationalism. Enveloped in the myth of benevolent peacekeepers and crusaders for world peace, we create dubious icons like Lester Pearson and Romeo Dallaire. Left-leaning Canadian nationalists—such as those who supported the Waffle movement within the NDP in the late 1960s and 1970s—embraced the idea that Canada was a colony of the US. In fact, say the Waffle intellectuals, we began as a British colony, became a nation and returned to colony status through subservience to the US Empire. Did we really?

But the deterministic “staples theory”, made famous by legendary Canadian economic historian Harold Innes, renders us passive as a sovereign nation. This theory obscures our foreign policy choices about the kind of world we as Canadians desire and our corporate commitments to exploit other nation’s financial and natural and human resources. We black-out the nasty stuff in the Caribbean, Africa, Guatemala and elsewhere. We can’t (or won’t see it) because we, too, are “exceptional.”

And, as Engler reminds us, think again about Canada as the poor hewers of wood and drawers of water. Toronto ranks seventh in the world as a financial centre. Boldly, he states: “Canadian companies are global players in various fields:” Garda World is the world’s largest privately held security companies (with 50,000 employees). SNC Lavalier is one of the world’s largest engineering companies. Bombadier and CAE are the world’s largest aerospace and flight stimulators.

And the “starkest example” of Canadian corporate power is the mining sector where ½ of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada. If one is weeping over Canadian subservience—poor us! –to US corporate power, “left nationalists generally ignore Canadian power and abuse abroad.” Engler has written about our not too exceptionally just mining companies in other books. Banging the drum, he says, “Wake up Canadian left intellectuals!”

Dr. Michael Welton is a professor at the University of Athabasca. He is the author of Designing the Just Learning Society: a Critical Inquiry.

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

US Military Presence in Africa: All Over Continent and Still Expanding

By Arkady SAVITSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 30.08.2018

Around 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world. Those forces utilize several hundred military installations. Africa is no exemption. On August 2, Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier took command of US Army Africa, promising to “hit the ground running.”

The US is not waging any wars in Africa but it has a significant presence on the continent. Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other special ops are currently conducting nearly 100 missions across 20 African countries at any given time, waging secret, limited-scale operations. According to the magazine Vice, US troops are now conducting 3,500 exercises and military engagements throughout Africa per year, an average of 10 per day — an astounding 1,900% increase since the command rolled out 10 years ago. Many activities described as “advise and assist” are actually indistinguishable from combat by any basic definition.

There are currently roughly 7,500 US military personnel, including 1,000 contractors, deployed in Africa. For comparison, that figure was only 6,000 just a year ago. The troops are strung throughout the continent spread across 53 countries. There are 54 countries on the “Dark Continent.” More than 4,000 service members have converged on East Africa. The US troop count in Somalia doubled last year.

When AFRICOM was created there were no plans to establish bases or put boots on the ground. Today, a network of small staging bases or stations have cropped up. According to investigative journalist Nick Turse, “US military bases (including forward operating sites, cooperative security locations, and contingency locations) in Africa number around fifty, at least.” US troops in harm’s way in Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan Tunisia, and Uganda qualify for extra pay.

The US African Command (AFRICOM) runs drone surveillance programs, cross-border raids, and intelligence. AFRICOM has claimed responsibility for development, public health, professional and security training, and other humanitarian tasks. Officials from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, and Justice, among other agencies, are involved in AFRICOM activities. Military attachés outnumber diplomats at many embassies across Africa.

Last October, four US soldiers lost their lives in Niger. The vast majority of Americans probably had no idea that the US even had troops participating in combat missions in Africa before the incident took place. One serviceman was reported dead in Somalia in June. The Defense Department is mulling plans to “right-size” special operations missions in Africa and reassign troops to other regions, aligning the efforts with the security priorities defined by the 2018 National Defense Strategy. That document prioritizes great power competition over defeating terrorist groups in remote corners of the globe. Roughly 1,200 special ops troops on missions in Africa are looking at a drawdown. But it has nothing to do with leaving or significantly cutting back. And the right to unilaterally return will be reserved. The infrastructure is being expanded enough to make it capable of accommodating substantial reinforcements. The construction work is in progress. The bases will remain operational and their numbers keep on rising.

A large drone base in Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, is reported to be under construction. The facility will host armed MQ-9 Reaper drones which will finally take flight in 2019. The MQ-9 Reaper has a range of 1,150 miles, allowing it to provide strike support and intelligence-gathering capabilities across West and North Africa from this new base outside of Agadez. It can carry GBU-12 Paveway II bombs. The aircraft features synthetic aperture radar for integrating GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The armament suite can include four Hellfire air-to-ground anti-armor and anti-personnel missiles. There are an estimated 800 US troops on the ground in Niger, along with one drone base and the base in Agadez that is being built. The Hill called it “the largest US Air Force-led construction project of all time.”

According to Business Insider, “The US military presence here is the second largest in Africa behind the sole permanent US base on the continent, in the tiny Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.” Four thousand American servicemen are stationed at Camp Lemonnier (the US base located near Djibouti City) — a critical strategic base for the American military because of its port and its proximity to the Middle East.

Officially, the camp is the only US base on the continent or, as AFRICOM calls it, “a forward operating site,” — the others are “cooperative security locations” or “non-enduring contingency locations.” Camp Lemonnier is the hub of a network of American drone bases in Africa that are used for aerial attacks against insurgents in Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia, as well as for exercising control over the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. In 2014, the US signed a new 20-year lease on the base with the Djiboutian government, and committed over $1.4 billion to modernize and expand the facility in the years to come.

In March, the US and Ghana signed a military agreement outlining the conditions of the US military presence in that nation, including its construction activities. The news was met with protests inside the country.

It should be noted that the drone attacks that are regularly launched in Africa are in violation of US law. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), adopted after Sept. 11, 2001, states that the president is authorized to use force against the planners of those attacks and those who harbor them. But that act does not apply to the rebel groups operating in Africa.

It’s hard to believe that the US presence will be really diminished, and there is no way to know, as too many aspects of it are shrouded in secrecy with nothing but “leaks” emerging from time to time. It should be noted that the documents obtained by TomDispatch under the United States Freedom of Information Act contradict AFRICOM’s official statements about the scale of US military bases around the world, including 36 AFRICOM bases in 24 African countries that have not been previously disclosed in official reports.

The US foothold in Africa is strong. It’s almost ubiquitous. Some large sites under construction will provide the US with the ability to host large aircraft and accommodate substantial forces and their hardware. This all prompts the still-unanswered question — “Where does the US have troops in Africa, and why?” One thing is certain — while waging an intensive drone war, the US is building a vast military infrastructure for a large-scale ground war on the continent.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Critical voices needed at development studies conference

By Yves Engler · August 8, 2018

Are they critical thinkers or cheerleaders pretending to be independent of the government that funds them? Given the title conference organizers chose — “Is Canada Back: delivering on good intentions?” — one would guess the latter. But, an independent researcher keeps an open mind.

Publicity for the mid-September conference organized by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) and the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) notes: “Inspired by Justin Trudeau’s 2015 proclamation ‘Canada is Back’, we are presenting panels that illustrate or challenge Canada’s role in global leadership. Are we doing all that we could be doing in the world?”

Formulating the question this way seems like a sop to the government that provides their funding. Conference organizers must be aware of the Trudeau government’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, backing for brutal mining companies, NATO deployments, antagonism towards Palestinian rights, efforts to topple the Venezuelan government, failure to end Canada’s ‘low level war’ on Iran, refusal to support nuclear weapons controls, promotion of military spending, etc.

The reality is that while the two conference sponsors are supported by some labour unions, left groups and internationalist-minded young people, they are heavily dependent/tied to Canada’s official foreign policy apparatus.

To understand government influence over the NGO/development studies swamp requires wading through acronym-filled historical waters. An umbrella group representing dozens of major development NGOs, the CCIC was created fifty years ago with financing from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA, now part of Global Affairs Canada). The aid agency expected it to coordinate relations with the growing NGO network and build domestic political support for the aid program. While it has challenged government policy on occasion, the CCIC is highly dependent on government funds. Shortly after it publicly complained the government created a “chill” in the NGO community by adopting “the politics of punishment … towards those whose public views run at cross purposes to the government,” the CCIC’s $1.7 million CIDA grant was cut in 2012. This forced it to lay off two thirds of its staff.

CASID and international development studies programs more generally have received significant support from CIDA and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Crown Corporation. In 2015 CASID’s president thanked “IDRC for its support of CASID over the past decade and more.” As part of one contract, IDRC gave CASID $450,000 between 2012 and 2015.

In the mid-1990s IDRC sponsored an initiative to enhance university undergraduate international development programs. This led to the creation of the Canadian Consortium for University Programs in International Development Studies (CCUPIDS), which has as its primary objective to “strengthen the position of International Development Studies.” CIDA also funds CCUPIDS conferences.

CCUPIDS is a branch of CASID, which publishes the Canadian Journal of Development Studies. In the introduction to a journal special issue on Canadian universities and development, editors Leonora Angeles and Peter Boothroyd write:

Thanks mostly to grant funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the International Development Research Council (IDRC), Canadian academics have been able to engage intensively in development work for over three decades.

CIDA and IDRC also directly fund international development studies initiatives. In the late 1960s CIDA sponsored a study with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) to investigate what schools offered development studies courses. According to IDRC: 40 years of ideas, innovation, and impact, “early on, it began funding Canadian area and development studies associations, their conferences, journals, and research — gathering and communication activities.” The Canadian Association of African Studies, Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Canadian Asian Studies Association and Canadian Association of Studies in International Development all “received substantial core funding from IDRC, intermittently in the 1970s and 1980s, and continuously since 1990.”

Significant sums of aid money continue to flow to international development studies programs. The website of the McGill Institute for the Study of International Development lists a dozen contracts worth more than $600,000 from CIDA, as well as $400,000 in contracts from IDRC and Foreign Affairs. An NGO and CIDA training ground, these programs often include internships and volunteer opportunities funded by development aid. The Students for Development Internships is “offered through the AUCC and CIDA, and students are funded to work for up to four months with an NGO anywhere in the world.” Queen’s Global Development Studies exchange program, for instance, received $270,000 from CIDA in 2011.

Individuals who participated in aid agency-funded projects, notably the government-backed Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO), spurred or launched international development studies programs. In Canada’s Global Villagers: CUSO in Development, 1961-86 Ruth Compton Brouwer writes:

CUSO staff and RV’s [returned volunteers] contributed substantially to the establishment of university-level courses and programs related to global issues and the centres for international education and development studies. These are now such ordinary features of Canadian universities that it is difficult to conceive of how novel they were when they began in the 1960s.”

Led by CUSO’s former West Africa coordinator Don Simpson, University of Western Ontario opened an office of international education in 1969, which “operated in collaboration with CIDA.” Similarly, “valued friends of CUSO” instigated development studies programming at the universities of Ottawa and Toronto.

Canadian aid also directly shapes international development studies research. Half of the respondents to a 2002 survey of 64 scholars reported that CIDA’s six development priorities influenced their research focus. A professor or student who aligns their pursuits with those of the aid agency or IDRC is more likely to find funding or a fellowship. And IDRC/Global Affairs Canada’s priorities don’t include challenging Canadian foreign policy.

Given the sponsors’ ties to the foreign policy apparatus it is likely that the September conference will offer little more than cheerleading for the Trudeau Liberals’ foreign policy. Still, one can’t be certain and, having been invited by a Facebook friend to attend, I emailed the conference organizers to ask if they would allow me to present a critical look at Trudeau’s foreign policy. Thus far they have not accepted my offer.

If you agree that answering the question “Are we doing all that we could be doing in the world?” requires some critical voices, please email (ac.cicc@stneve) and ask them to allow Yves Engler to speak on Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy at your upcoming conference.

I love a good debate and maybe both sides will learn something new.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here comes the Mali mission media manipulation

By Yves Engler · July 17, 2018

For the military, shaping media coverage of deployments is what roasting a marshmallow is to a summer camper’s S’mores; there isn’t one without the other.

Even before beginning a small “peacekeeping” mission, the Canadian forces have an elaborate media strategy.

At the end of June, Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance brought journalists with him on a visit to Mali. They toured the facilities in Gao where an advance team was preparing for Canada’s UN deployment to the African nation. An Ottawa Citizen headline described Vance’s trip as part of an effort at “selling the public on the Mali mission.”

The tour for journalists was followed by a “technical briefing” on the deployment for media in Ottawa. “No photography, video or audio recording for broadcast purposes” was allowed at last week’s press event, according to the advisory. Reporters were to attribute information to “a senior government” official. But, the rules were different at a concurrent departure ceremony in Trenton. “Canadian Armed Forces personnel deploying to Mali are permitted to give interviews and have their faces shown in imagery,” noted the military’s release.

None of these decisions are haphazard. With the largest PR machine in the country, the military has hundreds of public affairs officers that work on its media strategy. “The Canadian Forces (CF) studies the news media, writes about them in its refereed journals — the Canadian Army Journal and the Canadian Military Journal — learns from them, develops policies for them and trains for them in a systematic way,” explains Bob Bergen, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. ”Canadian journalists simply do not access the Canadian Forces in the scholarly fashion that the military studies them. There are no peer-reviewed journals to which they contribute reflections on their success or failure as an industry to cover the 1991 Persian Gulf War or the 1999 Kosovo Air War.”

While the tactics have varied based on technologies, balance of power and type of conflict, the government has pursued extensive information control during international deployments, which are invariably presented as humanitarian even when motivated by geostrategic and corporate interests. There was formal censorship during the First World War, Second World War and the Korean War. In recent air wars the military largely shut the media out while in Afghanistan they brought reporters close.

Air wars lend themselves to censorship since journalists cannot accompany pilots during their missions or easily see what’s happening from afar. “As a result,” Bergen writes, “crews can only be interviewed before or after their missions, and journalists’ reports can be supplemented by cockpit footage of bombings.”

During the bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 the CF blocked journalists from filming or accessing Canadian pilots flying out of Aviano, Italy. They also refused to provide footage of their operations. While they tightly controlled information on the ground, the CF sought to project an air of openness in the aftermath of the Somalia scandal. For 79 days in a row a top general gave a press conference in Ottawa detailing developments in Yugoslavia. But, the generals often misled the public. Asked “whether the Canadians had been targeted, whether they were fired upon and whether they fired in return” during a March 24 sortie in which a Yugoslavian MiG-29 was downed, Ray Henault denied any involvement. The deputy chief of Defence Staff said: “They were not involved in that operation.” But, Canadians actually led the mission and a Canadian barely evaded a Serbian surface-to-air missile. While a Dutch aircraft downed the Yugoslavian MiG-29, a Canadian pilot missed his bombing target, which ought to have raised questions about civilian casualties.

One reason the military cited for restricting information during the bombing campaign was that it could compromise the security of the Armed Forces and their families. Henault said the media couldn’t interview pilots bombing Serbia because “we don’t want any risk of family harassment or something of that nature, which, again, is part of that domestic risk we face.”

During the bombing of Libya in 2011 and Iraq-Syria in 2014-16 reporters who travelled to where Canadian jets flew from were also blocked from interviewing the pilots. Once again, the reason given for restricting media access was protecting pilots and their families.

Since the first Gulf War the military has repeatedly invoked this rationale to restrict information during air wars. But, as Bergen reveals in Balkan Rats and Balkan Bats: The art of managing Canada’s news media during the Kosovo air war, it was based on a rumour that antiwar protesters put body bags on the lawn of a Canadian pilot during the 1991 Gulf War. It likely never happened and, revealingly, the military didn’t invoke fear of domestic retribution to curtail interviews during the more contentious ground war in Afghanistan.

During that war the CF took a completely different tack. The CF embedding (or in-bedding) program brought reporters into the military’s orbit by allowing them to accompany soldiers on patrol and stay on base. When they arrived on base, senior officers were often on hand to meet journalists. Top officers also built a rapport with reporters during meals and other informal settings. Throughout their stay on base, Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) were in constant contact, helping reporters with their work. After a six-month tour in Afghanistan PAO Major Jay Janzen wrote: “By pushing information to the media, the Battalion was also able to exercise some influence over what journalists decided to cover. When an opportunity to cover a mission or event was proactively presented to a reporter, it almost always received coverage.”

In addition to covering stories put forward by the military, “embeds” tended to frame the conflict from the perspective of the troops they accompanied. By eating and sleeping with Canadian soldiers, reporters often developed a psychological attachment, writes Sherry Wasilow, in Hidden Ties that Bind: The Psychological Bonds of Embedding Have Changed the Very Nature of War Reporting.

Embedded journalists’ sympathy towards Canadian soldiers was reinforced by the Afghans they interviewed. Afghans critical of Canadian policy were unlikely to express themselves openly with soldiers nearby. Scott Taylor asked, “what would you say if the Romanian military occupied your town and a Romanian tank and journalist showed up at your door? You love the government they have installed and want these guys to stay! Of course the locals are smiling when a reporter shows up with an armoured vehicle and an armed patrol.”

The military goes to great lengths to shape coverage of its affairs and one should expect stories about Canada’s mission in Mali to be influenced by the armed forces. So, take heed: Consume what they give you carefully, like you would a melted chocolate and marshmallow-coated graham wafer.

July 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

6 killed in attack on EU-funded anti-terror force in Mali implicated in ‘summary executions’

RT | June 30, 2018

At least six soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing of the G5 Sahel anti-terrorist force in Mali. The attack came just days after the UN accused the force of the “summary and arbitrary execution” of civilians.

A suicide bomber exploded a vehicle in front of the G5 Sahel joint task force compound in Mali’s central town of Sevare on Friday. The explosion was followed by an attack from militants.

“The attackers fired rockets at the headquarters and some of them infiltrated the compound. There was an exchange of fire,” Mali’s defense ministry spokesman Boubacar Diallo told Reuters.

At least six soldiers were killed by the attackers, according to the mayor of the nearby town of Mopti. Many others were reportedly injured during the incident. The attack has been reportedly claimed by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Mali. It remained unclear whether the assailants sustained any casualties.

Photos from the scene show heavily damaged buildings inside the compound and a large hole left by the suicide bomber. The explosion was apparently quite powerful, as the bent and scorched frame of the suicide vehicle was blown meters away from its crater. The suicide vehicle was painted in the UN colors and therefore managed to get close to the compound, AFP reported, citing a military source.

G5 Sahel consists of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Friday’s attack comes just three days ahead of a scheduled meeting between the group’s leaders and French President Emmanuel Macron, to discuss the progress made by the joint task force in fighting terrorism in the region.

Earlier this week, the UN peacemaking mission to Mali (MINUSMA), accused Malian troops with the task force of the extrajudicial killing of 12 civilians.

“The MINUSMA investigation concluded that, on 19 May, elements of the Malian battalion … summarily and/or arbitrarily executed 12 civilians at the Boulkessy cattle market,” the UN mission said in a statement, adding that it had forwarded its findings to the government in Bamako.

Mali’s government acknowledged last week that some of its soldiers were implicated in “gross violations” against the civilian population. The admission followed local media reports of at least 25 bodies found in a mass grave in central Mali.

The Defense Ministry confirmed “the existence of mass graves implicating certain persons in FAMA [Malian armed forces] in gross violations that caused deaths in Nantaka and Kobaka in the region of Mopti,” it said in a statement, promising to launch an inquiry into the killings.

The G5 Sahel was launched back in 2014 to improve cooperation and tighten up security in the region. The vast Sahel region has been in turmoil since 2011, after a NATO intervention helped overthrow the government in Libya. The resulting chaos fostered the Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and the rise of the Boko Haram terrorist group in northern Nigeria.

The group’s joint anti-terrorist force was established last July, getting endorsement from the African Union and UN recognition through a resolution sponsored by France. The force, consisting of 5,000 troops at full operational capacity, received money from the EU but ran into financial issues this earlier this year, as the US opposed direct funding by the UN.

June 30, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Ayatollah Khamenei slams West’s ‘shameless’ human rights posture

Press TV – June 27, 2018

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has strongly denounced the Western states for their pretense of advocating human rights while in reality supporting terrorist groups and acts of terror.

Addressing the staff of Iran’s Judiciary at a meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei made reference to human rights violations committed by the United States in various parts of the world as well as France and Britain’s crimes of the past decades which took place in Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

The Leader added that the West’s support over the past years for the Daesh terror group in Syria and the atrocities being committed in Myanmar and elsewhere “is indicative of the repeated lies of the shameless fake human rights advocates.”

Ayatollah Khamenei said when it comes to the issue of human rights, it is actually the Islamic Republic that stands in the position of the true advocate of human rights as opposed to “the criminal Western pretenders.”

The Leader expressed satisfaction with the Judiciary’s work in restoring the Iranian nations’ rights in the face of bullying powers.

Separately, Ayatollah Khamenei advised the judicial officials to work closely with the government towards resolving the country’s economic problems.

‘Systemic corruption a lie’

The Leader criticized certain people who seek to create the impression among the public that there is “systemic corruption” within Iranian state institutions.

Corruption does exist in a number of governmental and commercial enterprises, “but the existence of systemic corruption is not true,” the Leader said. “This wrong impression should not be allowed to affect the public opinion.”

Ayatollah Khamenei further stated that foreign enemies and certain oblivious elements at home have made the Judiciary the target of the most severe propaganda and media pressure.

In order to effectively confront this massive propaganda campaign, the Leader suggested, the judicial system needs to develop a strong and skillful media arm.

June 27, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UN Climate Demand Opens the way for More Abuse of Poor Farmers

By Eric Worrall | Watts Up With That? | June 22, 2018

If there is one climate program which should have died in a welter of shame, that programme is third world conservation programmes, programmes which have reportedly already caused mayhem in places where government backed forces have committed atrocities to drive farmers and tribes out of nature reserves.

Forests provide a critical short-term solution to climate change

22 JUN 2018

To prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we need to act now.

There is a “catastrophic climate gap” between the commitments that countries have made under the Paris Climate Agreement and the emissions reductions required to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, according to UN Environment’s Emissions Gap Report 2017.

The Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2˚ Celsius, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5˚ Celsius.

Current pledges from governments represent only about half of what would be required to avoid a 2˚C temperature rise, and just one third of what’s required to limit warming to 1.5˚C.

While this “emissions gap” is significant, UN Environment suggests it can still be closed in a cost-effective manner.

One of the major contributors to closing the gap is forests.

The good news here is that 6.3 gigatons (billion tons) of carbon dioxide emission reductions have already been reported over the past six years from forests in Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia and Colombia alone under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), according to the UNFCCC Lima Hub. This is equivalent to more than the annual emissions of the United States.

“This is a significant step forward, showing that forests can be a central part of the solution to climate change,” says the head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat, Mario Boccucci. “We have an unprecedented opportunity: political will, know-how, finance. Now we need to build on progress and scale up rapidly in the coming years.”

Protecting forests, including mangroves, makes climate action cheaper and faster. We need to build the political case for this across all countries.

“The Emissions Gap Report once again underscores the urgency of redoubling our efforts to reduce emissions,” says UN Environment climate change expert Niklas Hagelberg.

“It shows that solutions exist, and if they are adopted quickly we can turn our current situation around. But with each year we wait, we make our ability to limit dangerous climate change more difficult, risky and costly.”

Full article: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/forests-provide-critical-short-term-solution-climate-change

Even the Guardian has noted the connection between offering large cash grants to tyrants in return for declaring regions off limits to humans, and vicious attacks against people living in the affected regions;

The tribes paying the brutal price of conservation

John Vidal
Sun 28 Aug 2016 17.00 AEST

Across the world, governments are protecting habitats. But indigenous peoples are being evicted

The Botswana police helicopter spotted Tshodanyestso Sesana and his friends in the afternoon. The nine young Bushmen, or San, had been hunting antelope to feed their families, when the chopper flew towards them.

There was a burst of gunfire from the air and the young men dropped their meat and skins and fled. Largely through luck, no one was hit, but within minutes armed troops arrived in a jeep and the nine were arrested, stripped naked, beaten and then detained for several days for poaching in a nature reserve.

Welcome to 21st-century life in the vast Central Kalahari game park, an ancient hunting ground for the San, but now off-limits to the people who forged their history there. The brutal incident took place last week, just days after Botswana’s wildlife minister Tshekedi Khama, the brother of President Ian Khama, announced a shoot-on-sight policy on poachers.

Khama claims the policy, which is supported by conservation groups, will deter poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, which is widely seen by Europe and the US as disastrous for biodiversity. But there are no rare or endangered species such as elephants or rhinos in the areas where the bushmen hunt. Sending a helicopter gunship and armed guards to arraign the hunters looks rather like an escalation of the low-grade war that Botswana has waged for years on one of the most vulnerable indigenous groups in the world.

Full article: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/aug/28/exiles-human-cost-of-conservation-indigenous-peoples-eco-tourism

The damage is not limited to shooting down tribespeople from helicopter gunships. In Ivory Coast, poor farmers who are trying to produce cocoa are being pressured to pay large bribes to be allowed to work their farms in “conservation areas”.

… The government of Ivory Coast took action recently against cocoa-driven deforestation by expelling cocoa farmers from Mount Péko National Park (which means “mountain of hyenas” in the local Gueré language). According to a report by Human Rights Watch and the Ivorian Coalition of Human Rights (RAIDH), the evictions were poorly planned and carried out in violation of human rights standards. When we visited Mount Péko after the eviction, we found the park once again filled with cocoa smallholders who had returned. Some smallholders explained to us that when they finally returned to Mount Péko, they simply paid the authorities higher bribes to go back to cultivating their lands in the park. …

Read more: http://www.mightyearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/chocolates_dark_secret_english_web.pdf

Lets see – large numbers of skilled but very poor farmers in Africa trying to make an honest living being backed into a corner, forced to pay large bribes, their families brutalised by armed thugs. Its pretty obvious what will happen next, and when it does, Western green policies will bear the ultimate blame.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Civilians deaths increased due to rise in use of US assassination drones’

Press TV – June 9, 2018

Delegation of authority to field level military commanders to use “US assassination drones” has resulted in a surge in the number of innocent civilians being killed.

Media sources reported recently that US President Donald Trump has delegated to battlefield commanders the authority to order lethal drone strikes.

The authority to call for assassination drone strikes was limited to the White House or Washington security officials when Trump’s predecessors, namely, George Bush and Barack Obama were in office.

Trump’s decision to delegate the decision-making process to the military resulted in the number of drone strikes increasing, and in turn, the number of innocent civilians getting killed going up, according to Michael Burns, a political and military analyst in New York.

Burns made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday while commenting on the US military’s illegal extrajudicial killings by using assassination drones in some Muslim states, and now planning to expand the practice to other regions across the globe.

“The reason it [the use of assassination drones] has increased so substantially is because more decision-making authority is being given to military commanders to use these systems.”

Burn says the increase in the use of drones aims to project US military power worldwide.

“The increase in the use of drones — which are officially known as ‘unmanned aerial systems’ to mask their vicious ability — to project power in other regions of the world has increased substantially under the Trump administration.”

The analyst also links the increase in the use of drone systems to other reasons including the cost-effectiveness of the weapon compared to other means available to the US government to project its military power across the globe.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Not just the Elgin Marbles: Britain’s colonial legacy lives long in UK museums

Benin bronzes. © Global Look Press
RT | June 4, 2018

After Jeremy Corbyn promised to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece upon becoming PM on the basis that they were “looted” from the country, RT looks at other rare artifacts taken by colonial Britain that now reside in UK museums.

“As with anything stolen or taken from occupied or colonial possession – including artifacts looted from other countries in the past – we should be engaged in constructive talks with the Greek government about returning the sculptures,” Corbyn said in an interview with a Greek newspaper.

If Corbyn were to become PM, here are some of the other artifacts that might be returned to their country of origin.

Benin artefacts

The British Museum boasts the second-biggest collection of Benin’s art after the Ethnological Museum in Berlin.

The Kingdom of Benin – now part of Nigeria – was stripped of its bronzes during what became known as Britain’s “punitive expedition,” a mission conducted against the natives after they defied imperial rule by imposing customs duties.

BBC Civilizations presenter David Olusoga, originally from Nigeria, said the UK has a “moral imperative” to return the art.

On the Benin looting, he said: “It’s just such a stark case of theft.”

He added during the Hay Festival this year: “A friend of mine, a TV producer, once came up with a brilliant solution: he said we should have a special version of Supermarket Sweep, where every country is given a huge shopping trolley and two minutes in the British Museum. Maybe he’s right, maybe that’s the way forward.”

Ethiopian treasures

Dozens of institutions up and down the country, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, are home to hundreds of northeast Africa’s finest treasures.

Beautiful and equally important manuscripts and artifacts were plundered after the British capture of Maqdala in 1868, the mountain capital of what was then Abyssinia under Emperor Tewodros II.

In 2017, Ethiopia lodged a formal restitution complaint. The offer was refused, but ahead of the Maqdala exhibition at the V&A at the beginning of April, its director suggested the case could be settled by granting the treasures to the east-African country on a long-term loan.

Sultanganj Buddha

The Sultaganj Buddha is a metallic sculpture that was extracted from an abandoned Buddhist monastery in northern India in 1861 by E B Harris, a British Raj railway engineer. The 1,500-year-old bronze Buddha was then shipped to Birmingham after being secured for a mere £200 ($265).

The item – the largest known Indian metal sculpture, which is known in the UK as the ‘Birmingham Buddha’ – is at the top of the list of thousands of alleged ‘stolen treasures’ that Indian authorities are trying to get back.

The Koh-i-Noor diamond

The Koh-i-Noor diamond, one of the largest cut in the world, is currently part of the British crown jewels. It has been the subject of a bitter dispute between India and the UK ever since it was taken from the Punjab and presented to Queen Victoria in 1849.

The jewel, which belonged to the Punjab’s Sikh Empire, was handed by the East Indian Company to Queen Victoria after they emerged victorious in the 1840s Anglo-Sikh wars.

The diamond – known as the Mountain of Light – is thought to have been mined in the 1300s.

India has called for the stone to be returned ever since it gained independence in 1947, though the UK claims it has a legal basis for withholding it, as it was guaranteed under the Treaty of Lahore.

Former PM David Cameron commented on the dispute, stating: “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty. I think I’m afraid to say, to disappoint all your viewers, it’s going to have to say put.”

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment