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Weapons shipped to Ukraine being sold in black markets

By Uriel Araujo | June 20, 2022

The same way sanctions are not working and are backfiring, Western massive arms transfers to Kiev have been a disaster, from anyone’s perspective. In an interview to US “National Defense”, Ukrainian Army Brigadier General Volodymyr Karpenko has admitted his country lost almost 50% of all weaponry and equipment it received. Some of it got destroyed, but that is not the whole story.

Russian Channel One reported on how the Ukrainian military abandons weapons as they retreat. The abandoned US-made Javelins and German anti-tank mines were filmed. Moreover, weaponry sent to Ukraine is ending up in black markets and is being sold in the so-called darknet and deep web platforms. There, one can buy Javellin anti-tank systems for about $ 30,000 or British NLAW systems for half the price. There is a demand for that, of course. Terrorists and criminal gangs are the buyers.

This situation has alarmed the Interpol and other international and European bodies. Already on May 28, Europol director Catherine De Bolle voiced her concerns about the war increasing the inpourring of arms into the continent’s black markets. Such weapons could reach political players in the Middle East involved in local conflicts, and spread all over the region, even reaching currently unstable locations such as Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Egypt. Arms shipments to Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania are in fact being investigated and such can aggravate the security problem in the Balkans – and in the Sahel also.

The so-called Islamic State or ISIS, the terrorist organization also known as the Daesh, is reorganizing itself this time in the Sahel, according to Victoria Nuland herself (the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs), who has stated so in May. There are reports that criminal groups in Albania and Kosovo are selling arms to ISIS.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated on June 9 that “arms shipment to Ukraine will lead to the emergence of an arms black market, especially in Western Europe.” Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock has voiced similar concerns about Africa and the Balkans becoming the destination of Western arms supplied to Kiev, as reported by Le Figaro news. He said: “The wide availability of weapons during the current conflict will lead to the proliferation of illicit weapons in the post-conflict phase.” Actually, this is already happening, as seen in the dark web.

It is a well known fact that the Ukrainian armed forces are incredibly corrupt. Ukraine has long  been believed to be one of the major arms trafficking markets in Europe. It has also emerged as an import transit destination for drugs such as heroin. It has the third highest criminality score of 33 countries in Europe. In today’s world, illict trade plays a major role in the financing of terrorist and extremist networks globally.

In November last year a club in Kiev was the target of a homophobic terrorist attack. It was stormed by masked men and later an explosive device was thrown at the building. Centuria, a Ukrainian paramilitary group with links to the Azov Regiment (formerly known as the Azov Battalion) seems to be behind the crime. No one was killed, but this ultra-nationalist group already patrols Ukraine’s cities. With the war, the migration crisis and the black market, Europe could see armed groups and terrorist attacks such as these spreading to its capitals.

In 2019 a senior Daesh leader, Al-Bara Shishani, was arrested in Ukraine and Azov leaders are known to sympathize with the group, even adopting some of its tactics. As early as 2015, collaboration between Islamic radicals and Ukrainian militias has been reported.

In December 2021, before the current crisis, I wrote that should a war ensue, Ukraine would be defeated by Russia (for a number of reasons), but far-right Ukrainian groups – aided and armed by NATO and possibly by Turkish ultra-nationalist networks – could remain active in sabotage and terrorism operations, thus turning the “post-conflict” phase into a long nightmarish “frozen conflict” scenario of counter-insurgency and irregular warfare.

Amid the humanitarian catastrophe, I wrote, the European continent should expect an increase in terrorism and crime amid an increasing migration crisis. Of course most of the refugees are law-abiding families escaping the tragedy of war, but paramilitary men and extremists can make their way into Western Europe too – and Ukrainian Neo-Nazism has been largely white-washedEuropean far-right militias already cooperate with Ukraine’s nationalists, and the country is already a new hub for far-right activity. Isaac Kfir, a Charles Sturt University Professor and part of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law advisory board, has warned that Ukraine has the potential to become “the Syria of the extreme right”.

In the same way US-led Western policies – directly or indirectly – aided both the Al-Qaeda and the Daesh, there is every reason to believe that in a few years Europe will be haunted by a new kind of far-right terror reminiscent of the infamous Gladio Operation, when Washington funded European far-right groups as a secret anti-Soviet army during the Cold War.

One can only wonder why European leaders would be so ready to accept these risks. This is the true reason countries such as Germany, Greece, Hungary, and even Israel have at times been reluctant to further arm Kiev or to allow weapons transit. It appears that from an American perspective Europe itself is but another US proxy.

Uriel Araujo is a researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 4 Comments

What happens if US designates Russia ‘a state sponsor of terrorism’?

By Drago Bosnic | May 16, 2022

The designation “state sponsor of terrorism” is used by the US Department of State to unilaterally sanction countries which the US government claims to have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism”. The State Department is required to maintain the controversial list under special acts passed by the Congress, imposing various restrictions aimed at the economies and international trade relations of the targeted countries.

As of late 2021, State Department lists Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria as “state sponsors of terrorism”, however, there were other countries formerly on the list, such as Iraq, Libya, South Yemen and Sudan. Designating a country as “a state sponsor of terrorism” can affect it in many ways, some of which include:

 – freezing of the targeted country’s financial and real estate assets in the US;

 – requiring the US to prevent efforts of the targeted country to secure World Bank or IMF loans;

 – prohibition on the export of so-called “dual-use products” (items that can be used both for civilian and military purposes);

 – requiring the US to impose economic and other sanctions against countries that continue to do business with the targeted country.

Since Russia started its special military operation in Ukraine, the more hawkish members of the US and NATO establishment have been insisting on the inclusion of Russia on this list. Some, such as the Baltic states, infamous for their virtually endemic Russophobia, already designated Russia as the “state sponsor of terrorism”. Luckily, actions taken by such microstates are largely inconsequential. However, what would happen if some of the larger and more significant NATO and EU members were to take the same course of action?

Considering the controversial designation is aimed not just against the targeted country, but also any third party doing business with it, this would effectively force member states to sanction each other, since many EU and NATO members simply cannot function without trading and dealing with Russia. This includes countries like Hungary, Austria and even Germany, the EU’s largest economy and arguably the most powerful member state. Without Russia’s oil, gas, food, rare earth metals and nonmetals, heavy machinery and many other commodities, these countries would collapse, economically and otherwise.

The designation also directly affects relations within NATO. In case the Congress was to add Russia to the list, possible sanctions wouldn’t just affect the aforementioned EU member states, but also some of the largest and most powerful NATO members, such as Turkey. Ankara has already been sanctioned for the purchase of Russia’s top-of-the-line S-400 surface-to-air missile system. However, the sanctions in the context of trading and dealing with a country designated “a state sponsor of terrorism” would be much more severe. Thousands of private Turkish companies are present in Russia, many of them in the construction business, which directly affects the troubled Turkish economy, currently dealing with enormous inflation and unemployment.

In terms of global relations and trade, such a move would affect the world in ways which are difficult to predict in the long term. However, in short term, it would certainly affect countries such as China and India, dozens of countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere, as all these countries would be affected by the third-party sanctions. In doing so, the US would effectively sanction around 80% of the world. This would lead to an uncontrollable escalation of economic collapse in many of these countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa. It would force the US to either implement sanctions on a case-by-case basis, or change the law completely, effectively blunting the effects of sanctions. This would also exponentially accelerate the process of dedollarization, as countries would seek other ways to do business with Russia without US interference.

However, the far-reaching consequences for the global economy would pale in comparison to the resulting security issues. Officially deeming a country with over 6,000 nuclear weapons “a terrorist state” pushes the planet to a brink of a world-ending conflict, as such a designation eases legal restrictions on the use of the US military against the targeted country. Such moves have resulted in rising tensions with North Korea and Iran in previous years. Within the framework of the designation, the US targeted and killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in 2020, to which Iran retaliated by targeting US bases in Iraq.

Even at the height of the Cold War, the US did not sanction the USSR with this designation, which is what makes this move even less logical, since the strategic military situation is still virtually unchanged, with both Russia and the US still relying on the mutually assured destruction (MAD) doctrine. Also, Russia is not without options for a reciprocal response, as it could easily designate the US itself as a state sponsor of terrorism. This designation would hardly just be a (geo)political one, as the US has been providing ample support to a wide range of terrorist actors from at least the 1980s to this very day. Former US State Secretary and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton openly admitted that Al Qaeda was in essence the mujahideen the US funded and armed to fight the USSR in the 1980s.

The same happened in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s, where the US openly worked with Neo-Nazi and terrorist groups to help dismantle former Yugoslavia. During the Arab Spring color revolution which swept through the Middle East and North Africa, the US directly supported dozens of terrorist groups, resulting in the destruction of Syria, Libya and Iraq. US and NATO attempts to rebrand these groups as the so-called “moderate democratic opposition” failed miserably as the terrorists exposed themselves by allying with the Islamic State and even posting videos of gruesome crimes against civilians and POWs. In short, the US should take a long, hard look in the mirror before it even begins contemplating the idea to designate anyone “a state sponsor of terrorism”.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , | 6 Comments

Washington moves to annex north-east Syria by proxy

By Vanessa Beeley | May 14, 2022

Under cover of media focus on the NATO proxy war in Ukraine and the Zionist assassination of Al Jazeera senior correspondent Shireen AbuAkleh, Washington is making moves to annex Syrian territory.

On May 11th during the meeting of the “global coalition against Islamic State” in Marrakech, Morocco the U.S acting assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, made an extraordinary move that has largely gone under the radar of even independent media. Everyone is distracted by events in Ukraine and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Nuland who famously exclaimed “Fuck the EU” during recorded conversations that exposed the US State Department involvement in the 2014 coup in Ukraine and the subsequent massacre in Odessa by the Washington’s Nazi Contras is now turning her attention to Syria’s north-eastern territory.

Nuland has announced that the US will allow foreign investment in north-east Syria under the control of the Kurdish Separatists, another US Coaliton proxy in Syria. These investments will not be affected by the unprecedented sanctions that are effectively blockading Syria.

The most savage of these economic measures were introduced under the Trump administration – the Caesar sanctions that are designed to inhibit any external assistance for Syria from within the Syrian alliance, including Russia and Iran.

The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act is also fraudulent by claiming to “protect civilians”. In reality, it is punishes and hurts the vast majority of 17 million persons living in Syria. It will result in thousands of civilians suffering and dying needlessly. – Rick Sterling

Needless to say that the de-facto unilateral sanctions being applied as a collective punishment for the entire Syrian population living in areas protected by the Syrian government are illegal. To extend those sanctions to sovereign nations providing assistance to rebuild Syrian infrastructure is barbaric and a deliberate attempt by the US to ensure that Syria cannot recover from the eleven year war waged against it.

The correlation between economic and military coercion in Syria was made clear by previous Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s point-man on Syria, Ambassador James Jeffrey, who not only described Al Qaeda as a “US asset” in Syria but also bragged openly about the misery that sanctions had brought to the Syrian people:

And of course, we’ve ratcheted up the isolation and sanctions pressure on Assad, we’ve held the line on no reconstruction assistance, and the country’s desperate for it. You see what’s happened to the Syrian pound, you see what’s happened to the entire economy. So, it’s been a very effective strategy….

Journalist Rick Sterling also pointed out the illegality and brutality of the Caesar sanctions:

The US has multiple goals. One goal is to prevent Syria from recovering. Another goal is to prolong the conflict and damage those countries who have assisted Syria. With consummate cynicism and amorality, the US Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey described his task: “My job is to make it a quagmire for the Russians.”

Nuland said Washington would issue a general licence, which frees companies from U.S. sanctions restrictions in north-east Syria.

“The United States intends in the next few days to issue a general license to facilitate private economic investment activity in non-regime held areas liberated from ISIS in Syria.”

The irony here of course is that ISIS is in reality another proxy of the US Coalition that had benefitted from the oil resource revenue prior to the occupation of the oil fields by the Kurdish Contras. There is also a degree of collaboration mired in corruption between the Kurdish Separatists and ISIS both focused on the ethnic cleansing of the north-east to make way for an “autonomous region” effectively controlled by Washington, London and Israel. As Syrian researcher, Ibrahim Wahdi, wrote back in February 2022:

We can clearly see that the largest organized smuggling and mass transfer of ISIS militants towards the Syrian Badia connected with the Iraqi border north of Al-Tanf region, which coincided with the Ukraine crisis and the negotiations of the Iranian nuclear deal, aims to trigger chaos by CIA and Israeli intelligence through reviving ISIS to keep it as a pretext for the US occupation of Syrian lands.

Nuland’s claims that investment in areas “previously held” by ISIS are “needed to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State by allowing it to recruit and exploit local grievances” is hypocrisy of the highest order. Washington and London are recruiting, arming and equipping ISIS terrorists and embedding their fighters in areas of the Badia desert (East of Homs) where they can do the most damage to Syrian Arab Army installations and convoys – this includes the disruption of the meagre oil supply to Damascus from the north-east. As Wahdi pointed out:

The danger of the ISIS card lies in the large numbers distributed among 9 prisons in the US-backed SDF-controlled areas, which are potential targets for similar attacks [to release ISIS terrorists], especially the “Kamba Al-Bulgar” prison, east of Al-Shaddadi city in the southern countryside of Hasaka, which includes 5,000 ISIS militants.

In addition to Al-Sina’a prisons, Al-Shaddadiyah, Derek/ Al-Malikiyah, Al-Kasra, Al-Raqqa Central Prison, Rmelan and Nafker in the Qamishli city, from which 60 ISIS militants were transferred to a prison in Al-Hasakah last September.

Both ISIS and the Kurdish Contras are responsible for the theft of oil from Syria. Al Qaeda has the monopoly of the processing of the stolen oil via its WATAD organisation. The US Coalition has a vested interest in bringing the Syrian population to its knees and to stir up dissent against the Syrian government that has trashed the Coalition military plans for regime change.

The war against Russia in Ukraine is also revenge for Russia’s role in genuinely fighting ISIS in Syria and forcing the terrorist entity to withdraw to the north-east and Iraq where it is equally responsible for the destruction of civilian infrastructure in particular electrical installations to further punish any Iraqi resistance to US occupation.

Nuland and Washington are deliberately enflaming local grievances and enabling ISIS recruitment and expansion.

Not only will these sanction-free licences apply to the Kurdish Contras but the Turkish backed militia occupying the northern border zones of Syria will also be included in the deal. This means that Syrian territory will be de-facto annexed by these NATO-member-state proxies including Al Qaeda (Turkey) and affiliates.

According to a diplomat who has discussed the issue extensively with U.S officials, the licence will apply to agriculture and reconstruction work but not to oil. I guess there is no need to include oil as that is already considered a U.S benefit of the war they started in 2011. After all Trump said very clearly “we’re keeping the oil – I’ve always said that — keep the oil. We want to keep the oil, $45 million a month. Keep the oil. We’ve secured the oil.”

If the licence will apply to reconstruction and agriculture, this will legitimise the building of settlements and the continued theft (by the Kurds) of Syrian agricultural produce in the region, the occupation of the wheat storage centers and the reduction in supply to Damascus of these essential resources. Essentially doubling down on the siege of the Syrian people who are already suffering severe food insecurity, poverty, fuel and energy deprivation on a terrible scale.

The act of withholding means of sustaining life to innocent civilians in order to coerce an entire nation into submission to foreign agendas in the region must surely qualify as economic terrorism. The destruction of essential civilian infrastructure is a war crime, the withholding of essential resources or occupation of those resources is also a war crime. One could argue that the US Coalition is responsible for genocide in Syria under Genocide Convention article II (e) – deliberately inflicting on the group, conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

When Washington talks about “stabilisation” activities in the areas its “allies” took from Islamic State they are lying. Its “allies” are being led to believe they will benefit from cooperation with the U.S. In reality they are useful tools to facilitate the U.S and Israeli agenda in the region – to balkanise Syria and above all to secure the illegal US Al Tanf military base in the south-east (bordering Jordan) to prevent the linking of the Resistance Axis from Iran to Lebanon and ultimately Palestine. To protect “Israeli security” in the region.

The organised smuggling and transfer of ISIS terrorists towards the Syrian Badia connected with the Iraqi border north of Al Tanf is to maintain the CIA/MI6/Israeli chaos strategy in Syria and to justify US occupation of Syrian territory under the faux ISIS pretext.

What Nuland is proposing is a step forward for Washington in the annexation of Syria’s most resource rich territory. It is annexation by proxy. Turkey will also benefit from these licence schemes and will further embed its Al Qaeda-led militia in the northern border areas thus ensuring permanent insecurity for Syria to the north.

Arabs, Assyrians and Armenians will necessarily be ethnically cleansed from these zones to make way for these US-sanctioned settlements and it is common knowledge that the Kurdish Contras have been preparing for this for some time – banning the Syrian curriculum in schools and razing Arab houses in the area while forcing conscription onto local communities, running campaigns of kidnapping and detention.

Nuland informed coalition members in Marrakech that “Washington wanted to raise $350 million for these alleged “stabilisation” activities in north-east Syria during 2022. Iraq is also the target of the same “stabilisation” campaign. What Nuland really means is that Washington under cover of Ukraine will move to secure permanent violation of Syria’s territorial integrity while feigning outrage that Russia is violating the sovereignty of Ukraine already occupied by NATO and little more than Washington’s satellite vassal state on the border with its arch enemy Russia.

May 14, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 6 Comments

Why is the US Hyping Up the Threat of ISIS in Afghanistan?

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 16.11.2021

To justify its interventionist actions in the Middle East, the United States, following the now cliched example, actively uses its alleged commitment to fighting against terrorism, focusing on countering such well-known terrorist formations as Al Qaeda and ISIS. The same goes for the actions of the USA in Afghanistan. However, Washington didn’t take any accountability before the rest of the world about the results of this fight against terrorists in Afghanistan during its 20 years of abysmal military intervention.

At the same time, the Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov and foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mentioned several times that Russia has sufficient facts backing the claims about the USA’s cooperation with the ISIS militants in the northern part of Afghanistan. In particular, since 2017, unmarked helicopter flights have been recorded within areas of ISIS militant activity, not without the explicit knowledge of US and NATO forces in their area of responsibility, especially in northern Afghanistan… According to Afghan sources, these aircraft have been used to deliver manpower, weapons, and ammunition to ISIS militants. Moreover, there were recorded instances of surgical strikes by the US Air Force not against terrorists, but positions of radical Taliban fighters engaged in combat against ISIS.

After the termination of the US military intervention in Afghanistan in August this year under the pressure of the international public and Americans themselves, certain American politico-military circles, clearly dissatisfied with this step, started to spin the propaganda campaign about the allegedly intensified in recent months “danger of ISIS activity in Afghanistan” through their lackey media. With the apparent hope of triggering a new international armed aggression in Afghanistan, again under “US patronage.”

Thus, on September 28 this year, General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the supposedly obvious danger of strengthening of Al-Qaeda and ISIS positions in Afghanistan: “And we must remember that the Taliban was and remains a terrorist organization, and they still have not broken ties with al-Qaeda. I have no illusions about who we are dealing with.” “A reconstituted al-Qaeda or Daesh/ISIS with aspirations to attack the US is a very real possibility,” General continued.

The allegedly growing threat of ISIS in Afghanistan has recently been actively picked up by the American media, handy to the current military and political elite. In particular, recently The New York Times began to scare the world with stories that, since the Taliban came to power, ISIS militants in Afghanistan have intensified, their terrorist attacks are exhausting the new government and raising fears among Western powers of a potential revival of the group. During his speech in Congress, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl admitted that the ability of Afghan authorities to combat the Islamists “has yet to be determined.” However, he did not say anything about who and when will determine the results of 20 years of fighting them by the United States itself.

The New York Times acknowledged that, after its disgraceful flight from Afghanistan in August, Washington had lost reliable access to intelligence. Limited drone flights now provide only partial information given the distance they need to travel to reach Afghanistan, and its established network of informants has been destroyed.

However, the real reason behind Washington’s new propaganda wave regarding the allegedly heightened threat of ISIS from Afghanistan becomes apparent in one of the final paragraphs of the article published by this newspaper. It states that the Taliban “refuse to cooperate with the United States in fighting ISIS by fighting the war on their terms.”

As for the organization of today’s fight against ISIS, Dr. Bashir, head of the Taliban’s intelligence services, has directly pointed out that such work is constantly being done, and his men have adopted the methods of this fight from their predecessors. Moreover, they even rely on Western equipment to intercept messages and radio communications. He insists, however, that the Taliban have something the past government and the Americans did not have: widespread local support that can alert authorities to attacks and militant positions, something that has always been hard to detect in the past.

As for some Western propagandists who attempt to use the thesis about the alleged merger of the Taliban with ISIS terrorists at the instigation of Washington, keep in mind that ISIS does not have such a strong influence in Afghanistan as the Taliban, and they are seen as antagonists in the country. The fact is that ISIS relies on Salafi ideology, while most Afghans identify themselves with the Hanafi school of fiqh. Therefore, the organization is a foreign body in the structure of Afghan society, which undoubtedly limits its growth of influence and popularity in the country.

As you know, ISIS announced the formation of the group in Iraq in 2014. Then came the ISIS affiliate in Pakistan. As for Afghanistan, a branch of ISIS emerged here in January 2015 under the Islamic State – Khorasan Province, which later the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan joined with. In 2015, several regional media reports revealed that the National Directorate of Security (NDS), under complete US control, had helped ISIS gain a foothold in Nangarhar province. There have also been reports that some leaders of the Afghan branch of ISIS, including Sheikh Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost (a former Guantanamo Bay detainee!), traveled in Afghan intelligence vehicles and lived in guesthouses belonging to Afghan intelligence agencies. Therefore, some analysts accuse US intelligence services of involvement in creating and strengthening ISIS in Afghanistan.

At a certain point, the Taliban viewed ISIS as temporary “allies” fighting against US intervention within Afghanistan. However, after ISIS demanded that Taliban leaders swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, clashes broke out between the Taliban and ISIS, especially in Nangarhar province. Notably, after such clashes broke out, government helicopters rescued ISIS fighters besieged by the Taliban in some areas, such as Jawzjan province. In particular, Afghan army helicopters supported by US forces evacuated ISIS fighters and their families and housed them in guesthouses in Sheberghan, Jawzjan province, belonging to Afghan intelligence. Afghan intelligence agencies implicitly acknowledged this.

The estimated number of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan is 5,000. A UN report released in mid-July said the number of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan ranges from 500 to 1,500. Currently, ISIS does not possess heavy weapons, guns, and tanks, even though such equipment was abandoned in large numbers by the US army after fleeing Afghanistan, and has no centers, headquarters, or open fronts on Afghan soil. In these circumstances, ISIS can gain a foothold in Afghanistan only if some foreign patrons support it with people, arms, and money to use this organization to weaken the Taliban’s power and turn Afghanistan into a new breeding ground for terrorism. And here, one cannot rule out such actions precisely on the part of the United States and its Western allies. For example, Washington has done it before by supporting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in its confrontation with the Soviet Union.

In a sense, former Afghan army and Afghan intelligence officers trained in the United States, who had already joined ISIS in Afghanistan in August after the US fled Afghanistan, could be used by the United States to manipulate ISIS. Their numbers, as admitted by The Wall Street Journal, “are still relatively small, but they are growing, according to those who know these people, and also according to Afghan and Taliban intelligence agencies.”

Today, the Taliban control the entire country and view ISIS as a foreign group to be fought and wholly expelled from Afghanistan. As for the restraints the Taliban has towards carrying out joint counter-terrorist actions against ISIS, confirmed by the Taliban on October 11 at the meeting with the Americans in Doha, one cannot rule out that it was Washington’s former ties with ISIS that could lie behind such a position of the current rulers of Afghanistan.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

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

By Scott Ritter | RT | July 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria Solidarity Movement | July 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The UN Charter should be followed and enforced.

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

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

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

Biden Forces Steal 32 Additional Trucks Loaded with Syrian Wheat

Syria News | June 20, 2021

Biden forces operating illegally in northeastern Syria stole an additional quantity of wheat loaded in 32 trucks and smuggled it into neighboring Iraq through an illegal border crossing, yesterday, Saturday 19 June 2021.

This new theft comes less than a week after another convoy of dozens of trucks loaded with stolen Syrian wheat, the Syrians are harvesting their wheat and Biden is stealing it to feed his ISIS terrorists in Iraq, the terrorist organization that was created under Biden’s watch during the 8 years term of Obama and saw its growth where his secretary of state Kerry back then said they wanted to use it to pressure the Syrian President Bashar Assad into submission.

Biden taking the food of the Syrian people out of the mouths of their children and sending in killing machines and terrorists instead, in the past week alone the US Army stealing Syrian oil and wheat entered two columns of trucks and military vehicles on the 14th and 17th of this month, the first convoy comprised of 55 different rucks and empty oil tankers to siphon Syrian oil, and the second comprised of 33 military and logistics vehicles.

Cross borders activities without the sovereign country’s approval is a serious breach of international law, stealing food and oil from a country especially when its people are facing economic hardship and is fighting terrorist groups is a war crime, creating terrorist groups and separatist armed militia and using them against a sovereign country is nothing less than a declaration of war. All US Army troops are liable to prosecution under international law, those killed of them are no heroes and do not die ‘defending their country and its values’, they get killed while stealing and are a disgrace for their families and their people.

Ironically, during a meeting with his Russian counterpart President Putin in Geneva on the 17th of the month, the head of the most diverse and inclusive US junta Biden asked Putin to help in obtaining approval from Damascus to open new border crossings into regions occupied by Al Qaeda in the north and northwest of Syria!

June 22, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Jessica Ashooh: The Taming of Reddit and the National Security State Plant Tabbed to Do It

How and why did a hawkish young mandarin hothoused at elite universities and in the halls of state power end up an executive at an anarchic messageboard site with an anti-establishment reputation?

Photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera
By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | June 11, 2021

Reddit is one of the world’s most influential news and social media platforms. The website attracted over 1.2 billion visits in April 2021 alone, making it the United States’ eighth most visited site, ahead of other leviathans like Twitter, Instagram and eBay. Now majority-owned by a much larger corporate publishing empire, Reddit is also far ahead of more established news sites, garnering three times the numbers of Fox News and five times those of The New York Times.

That is why it was so surprising that so little was made of the company’s decision to appoint foreign policy hawk Jessica Ashooh to the position of Director of Policy in 2017, at which time it was also the eight most visited site in the U.S. Ashooh, who had been a Middle East foreign policy wonk at NATO’s think tank the Atlantic Council, was appointed at around the same time that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee was demanding more control over the popular website, on the grounds that it was being used to spread disinformation. In her role as Director of Policy, she oversees all government relations and public policy for the company, in addition to managing content, product and advertising. Yet a Google search for “Jessica Ashooh Reddit” filtered between late 2016 and early 2017 (after she was appointed) elicits zero relevant results, meaning not one media outlet even mentioned the questionable appointment.

This is all the more hair-raising, given her resume as a high state official — all of which raises serious questions about the extent of collaboration between Silicon Valley and the national security state.

A hawk’s talons on Syria

The Atlantic Council is the de-facto brains of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and takes funding from the military alliance, as well as from the U.S. government, the U.S. military, Middle Eastern dictatorships, other Western governments, big tech companies, and weapons manufacturers. Its board of directors has been and continues to be a who’s who of high U.S. statespeople like Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, as well as senior military commanders such as retired generals Wesley Clark, David Petraeus, H.R. McMaster, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the late Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, and Admiral James Stavridis. At least seven former CIA directors are also on the board. As such, the council chooses to represent both political wings of the national security state.

Ashooh’s LinkedIn resume epitomizes the troubling relantionship between think tanks and big tech.

Between 2015 and 2017, Ashooh was Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Strategy Task Force, working directly with and under Madeline Albright and Stephen Hadley. This is particularly noteworthy, given both these individuals’ roles in the region. As Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Albright oversaw the Iraq sanctions and the Oil for Food Program, denounced as “genocide” by the successive United Nations diplomats charged with carrying them out. In an infamous interview with 60 Minutes, Albright casually brushed off a question about her role in the killing of half a million children, stating “the price is worth it.” Meanwhile, Hadley was deputy or senior national security advisor to the government of George W. Bush throughout the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, surely the greatest crimes against humanity thus far in the 21st century.

Ashooh appears to be as hawkish as her bosses. Her particular area of expertise is the war in Syria, regarding which she has been among the most belligerent voices, constantly calling for more American intervention to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. In a 2015 interview with Al Jazeera, she praised the U.K. government’s decision to bomb the country, claiming that the British public was “coming around” to the idea of war. A shocked interviewer asked “how will the British airstrikes [on] Syria… make the British public any safer?” Ashooh replied that it was “generally a positive decision” because “it goes a long way in improving international consensus on the way forward on Syria,” although she lamented that there wouldn’t be “much improvement in the situation without ground troops.” There will be “no political solution without a military element,” she predicted, essentially making the pitch for war.

Ashooh has also constantly praised and supported Syria’s opposition forces. In 2016, she said that she was very happy that “fighters on the ground from a number of key factions” were uniting against the “Assad regime.” She condemned Russia for claiming these opposition forces were members of terrorist groups like Al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Islam or ISIS, insisting that these were “moderate” rebels.

Of course, the idea that there was still any measurable distance between “moderate” rebels and outright militant jihadists by 2016 was hard to maintain. Even The Washington Post by this time was admitting as much, noting that so-called moderates were now so “intermingled” with al-Nusra that it was difficult to tell them apart.

Nevertheless, the New Hampshire native took to the pages of The New York Times to demand that the U.S. arm the opposition. Of course, it was already doing so, the CIA spending $1 billion per year fielding rebel mercenary armies in the conflict — with one in every 15 dollars the agency spent going to this endeavor. All of this Ashooh surely knew, yet she maintained that the West must continue to “jack up the price” of Russia defending Assad. “As long as [Assad] remains in power and remains the figurehead of the Syrian government… this conflict won’t end,” she said, laying out her regime-change-or-bust position. Just weeks before unexpectedly taking over at Reddit, Ashooh seemed to still be in full foreign-policy-hawk mode, condemning Obama in the pages of The Washington Post for his apparent softness on Syria and demanding that Trump “restore U.S. credibility” by “order[ing] targeted, punitive strikes against the Assad regime.”

Jessica Ashooh

Ashooh attends British Polo Day at Abu Dhabi’s Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club. Photo | Ahlan

Dirty war, dirty warrior

Ashooh is actually even more involved in the Syrian conflict than one might realize from her hawkish opinions alone. Between 2011 and 2015, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, in her own words, “[p]rovid[ing] senior decision makers with policy analysis and strategic advice, with a particular focus on Syria.”

At that time the UAE was using its enormous financial clout to arm and fund a myriad of jihadist groups attempting to overthow the secular strongman Assad and establish some kind of Islamic state. Far from a conspiracy theory, this comes straight from the horse’s mouth, as then-Vice President Joe Biden revealed in a Q&A session in 2014. The future president frankly stated:

The Saudis, the Emiratis, what were they doing?… They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. “

Under pressure, he later apologized for his loose lips.

MintPress News asked the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment on precisely what Ashooh’s role was, but they failed to respond.

Jessica Ashooh Kurdistan

Ashooh is pictured during her time as a “consultant” in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo | Academyalumni

Ashooh herself appears to have been a relatively major player in the Syrian Civil War. In her previously mentioned Washington Post article, she notes that her boss was a former Emirati Air Force General and that she was flown to Istanbul in 2013 to attend an emergency meeting with leaders of the Syrian opposition, as well as ambassadors from unnamed Arab and Western states, in order to plan a response to a reported chemical weapons attack and to help the U.S. “coordinate with the Syrian opposition.”

At the same time as she was advising the nation on Middle Eastern affairs, the UAE was widely accused of flying ISIS and al-Qaeda leaders into Yemen to help them intensify the Saudi-led onslaught on the impoverished nation and of smuggling U.S.-made weaponry — including small arms, TOW missiles and Oshkosh fighting vehicles — to the jihadist groups. While Ashooh’s writing is careful to maintain a distinction between the “moderate” rebels she supports and the fundamentalist radicals she does not, it certainly is noteworthy that the entities she worked for consistently seem to end up in league with the most regressive forces in the region. MintPress also reached out to Reddit for comment on why they appointed Ashooh, given her past history, and on the wider phenomenon of government penetration of social media. The company initially promised to issue a response to the inquiry but has not followed through with it.

Opposing some dictatorships, supporting others

Regime change is on the table for more than just one Middle Eastern nation. In a 2017 paper for the Center for the National Interest — a think tank established by former Republican President Richard Nixon and the “Godfather of Neoconservatism,” Irving Kristol — Ashooh explores the different options for forcing regime change in Iran, but concludes that overthrowing the “odious regime” is an impossible task right now, and criticizes the idea as a quixotic dream.

Nevertheless, she is far from an Iran dove. An Atlantic Council report she co-wrote insists that “Iranian interference in the Arab world must be deterred,” and that “America’s friends and partners must be reassured that the U.S. opposes Iranian hegemony and will work with them to prevent it.”

Ashooh’s commitment to fighting against Middle Eastern dictatorships might seem more principled if she did not appear so enamored of the least democratic one of them all. In 2016, she accompanied Albright and Hadley to Saudi Arabia and praised the monarchy’s dynamic leadership on the economy and its nurturing of a new generation. “It was really really exciting to see that level of energy and the level of government support for these young people who were interested in shaping their own futures… it was just wonderful,” she said. In an article about her experience for business news website Market Watch, she waxed lyrical about how forward-thinking the Saudi government is and how the country has become “a hub for the dynamic and positive change that is swelling up throughout the region.” Presumably, this excludes Yemen, a nation they were bombing relentlessly. In a 2020 interview, Ashooh revealed that her dream job would be U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. One of her earliest comments on her public Reddit page (made before she began working there) is deflecting the Kingdom from criticism of its dreadful treatment of women.

As part of the Atlantic Council, Ashooh was tasked with envisaging a new Middle East for the 21st century. Given her output, it seems that she advocates for a transition towards a more privatized, free-market economic setup, not completely unlike the shock therapy tried in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. “We have to “encourage states to make the reforms that move economies from state-based to ones that support entrepreneurship, because the age of state-based economies is over,” she said at a talk at New York University in 2015, adding:

You’ve got to move to support entrepreneurship in the region and let people take advantage of the natural industrial tendencies of people in the Middle East. My God, if you’ve ever been to a Turkish bazaar or a market in Cairo you know that these countries are perfectly capable of having functioning market economies. But the state has gotten in the way.

Ashooh’s LinkedIn profile also notes that in 2010, she worked as an advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Planning “on a variety of strategic and economic development issues,” but does not go into any more detail about what those issues were. A further biography merely states that her consultancy agency “provid[ed] strategic and management consulting services to the Ministry of Planning of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq.” Unsurprisingly, the organization has links to the U.S. military; the agency’s lead partner being a former Army captain.

Think Tankie

Ashooh comes from a relatively prominent New Hampshire family of Lebanese descent, the most notable of which is probably her uncle Richard. Richard Ashooh was Donald Trump’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and a former executive at weapons manufacturer BAE Systems. Unlike her uncle, Jessica appears to lean more Democratic, having donated money to a number of local politicians, as well as to anti-Trump Republican groups aimed at convincing them to vote blue, such as Right Side PAC and the now infamous Lincoln Project. However, she also appears to have great respect for many Republicans, having written her doctoral thesis at Oxford University on the Middle East policy of the George W. Bush administration. She also stated that the person she would have most liked to have met was 41st President George Bush Senior, describing him as possessing “incredible amounts of strategy, finesse and restraint.” Thus, her political views appear to be exactly in the center of the neoliberal “blob” in Washington.

Ashooh also worked for the right-wing think tank the CATO Institute and is a Term Member of the more Democratic-aligned Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR’s term member program is intended to, in its own words, “cultivate the next generation of foreign policy leaders.”

Surveillance Valley

How and why, then, did a hawkish young mandarin hothoused at elite universities and in the halls of state power end up an executive at an anarchic messageboard site with an anti-establishment reputation? Virtually everyone else in senior roles at Reddit has relevant backgrounds in marketing or tech, having worked with comparable companies such as Yelp, Expedia and Snapchat.

Tom Secker — a journalist, podcaster and researcher who runs SpyCulture.com, an online archive about government involvement in the entertainment industry — was deeply skeptical. “That someone whose entire career has been in international relations and foreign affairs is now the senior policy wonk at Reddit is simply bizarre. Given her ties to the CFR, Atlantic Council and the like, it’s downright suspicious,” Secker told MintPress.

Underneath the surface, however, the Atlantic Council has been rapidly expanding its influence and control over big social media companies. In 2018, it announced that it would be partnering with Facebook to promote trustworthy sources and derank, demote and even delete low quality or fake news, thus effectively curating what the platform’s 2.85 billion worldwide users see in their news feeds. But the effect of recent algorithmic changes has been to throttle alternative media traffic in favor of establishment sources such as CNNFox News and The New York Times. Even such more mainstream liberal sites as Mother Jones have seen their numbers crater. Facebook later admitted that they were directly targeting Mother Jones because of its left-leaning content, raising the question that if such a middle-of-the-road liberal outlet was being penalized, wasn’t the collapse in traffic to more radical publications surely deliberate? Given the Atlantic Council’s funding and the identities of those on its board, their control over social media is tantamount to state censorship on a global level.

Earlier this year, Facebook also hired NATO press officer Ben Nimmo to be its intelligence chief, in another move that dismayed free-speech advocates. In the past, Nimmo has identified a Welsh pensioner and an internationally known Ukranian pianist as Russian bots, raising more questions about the suitability of the Atlantic Council to be an arbiter of truth online.

The Facebook-Atlantic Council link mirrors that of Microsoft with NewsGuard, a new piece of software purportedly trying to fight fake news by placing either green shields or red warning logos, corresponding to an outlet’s credibility, beside all links in its browser, Microsoft Edge — this credibility being decided entirely by NewsGuard itself. Newsguard pushed Microsoft to install the software on all its products as standard. Again, however, NewsGuard’s system rated establishment websites like Fox News and CNN as trustworthy but independent media as suspect. And again, a glance at its advisory board makes it clear that this is a state operation. Those in key positions included George W. Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security and former NSA and CIA Director General Michael Hayden; ex-White House Communications Director Don Baer; and former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Worse still, NewsGuard is also linked to a PR agency employed in whitewashing the Saudi government’s human-rights record and its role in the carnage in Yemen.

Twitter, too, has some extremely troubling links with state power. In 2019 Gordon MacMillan, a senior Twitter executive responsible for the Middle East region, was outed as an active duty officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online operations and psychological warfare. Far from causing a scandal, only one major U.S. outlet even mentioned the story, and the journalist in question resigned from the profession weeks later, claiming the existence of a network of top-down state censors who quash stories that threaten the power and prestige of the national security state. To this day, MacMillan remains in his post at Twitter, strongly suggesting the social media company knew of his role before he was hired.

Over the past few years, Twitter, Reddit and Facebook have announced the deletion of hundreds of thousands of accounts linked to sources in Russia, Iran, China and other enemy states, often on the recommendation of Western governments or state-sponsored intelligence organizations. However, they never seem willing or able to find any manipulation of their platforms by Western governments. Thus, the upshot of this has been to slowly dissuade critics of Western foreign policy from using their services.

“The mainstream media-politik establishment has managed to get a hold over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — shadow-banning and downrating posts considered ‘Russian propaganda’ or whatever other excuse they use to marginalize perspectives and content outside of the mainstream,” Secker told MintPress. “Audiences for this sort of content are increasingly pissed off and alienated by the major social media sites.”

Increasingly, unwelcome political voices are either brushed off by centrist pundits as repeating Russian talking points or smeared as being amplified by Kremlin-based bot farms. The popularity of movements on the left like Black Lives Matter or the Bernie Sanders’ campaign were written off as partially linked to Russia, while others suggested that the January 6 insurrection in Washington was essentially a Russian operation.

The irony is that many of the wildest accusations against Putin that have fed this climate of suspicion began life in Atlantic Council documents. For example, the organization has published a series of studies that suggest that virtually every European political party challenging the neoliberal status quo in some way — from Labour and UKIP in the U.K. to Syriza and Golden Dawn in Greece and PODEMOS and Vox in Spain — are secretly controlled by Russia, functioning as the “Kremlin’s Trojan Horses,” in its words.

The Atlantic Council is also deeply intertwined with a U.K. government-funded organization called the Integrity Initiative, something that purports to be a group defending democracy from disinformation. However, in practice, it appears to be doing the opposite: planting disinformation about politicians’ supposed links to Russia in order to undermine them. The Integrity Initiative is a government-backed cluster of journalists who operate in unison to conduct propaganda blitzes on unsuspecting publics. In 2018, it launched a successful operation to prevent Colonel Pedro Baños being appointed Spain’s head of national security. Considering Baños too soft on Russia for the Atlantic Council and other hawks’ liking, the initiative sprung into action, creating a storm of protest that led to another individual being chosen.

Reddit actually played a key role in a 2019 propaganda blitz against anti-war Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. A few days before the U.K.’s general election, Corbyn promoted documents leaked on the platform that showed that Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson was negotiating with American companies, putting much of the country’s National Health Service up for sale. With just days to go before polls opened, it could have proved a game changer. Reddit quickly came to Johnson’s rescue, however, asserting that the documents were part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The story in the pliant British press switched from “Boris Johnson is selling off the NHS” to “Corbyn promotes Russian disinfo,” thus greasing the skids for an easy victory for the hardline anti-Russia Conservative Party, an outcome the hawks at the Atlantic Council were no doubt relieved by, given Corbyn’s open skepticism about war, empire and nuclear weapons. The veracity of the documents was not challenged.

For a while…

Founded in 2005, Reddit has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most influential websites. However, it began life as an anarchistic messageboard whose culture was profoundly libertarian and anti-establishment. For years, the company’s administrators took a near free speech absolutist position. Aaron Swartz, Reddit’s co-founder, was an open source hacktivist and even attempted to download and publish the entirety of academic publisher Jstor’s library. When authorities got wind of what he was doing, they threatened him with 40 years in prison, an action that caused him to take his own life in 2013.

Reddit’s own position on free information and free speech was often so extreme it caused huge controversy. The site became the internet’s largest source of child pornography. It was only after CNN began reporting on it to a nationwide audience that things began to change. Other, grossly offensive communities like /r/BeatingWomen and /r/CoonTown were also protected.

Nevertheless, the culture established by anarchistic tech bros remained for some years, with the site resembling darker corners of the internet like 4Chan and 8Chan as much as more family-friendly mainstream social media like Facebook.

Ashooh’s arrival in 2017 coincided with a new era in the site’s history. Gone were the days of protecting communities that would bring in bad publicity. Her team quickly brought in a new content policy and began to delete communities that violated it. Last year, she oversaw the banning of over 2,000 communities in a single day, including /r/The_Donald, the main Donald Trump subreddit, and /r/ChapoTrapHouse, the most active left-wing community. These decisions have helped the money flow in; since 2017 revenue has more than tripled.

However, what has been lost across the internet is the liberatory potential of these technologies. In the 1990s and 2000s, many predicted that the internet would usher in a new era of egalitarianism and genuine democracy, helping even to reduce barriers and tensions between nations. For a while, the new medium allowed political actors to challenge the status quo and gain huge followings quickly. Alternative media was easily outperforming legacy media, and challenging the status quo when it came to news. Seeing that, the reaction since 2016 has been swift, as the elite have moved to retighten their grip over the means of communication. Ashooh’s jump from national security state official to Reddit Director of Policy is just one more point of reference on that chart.

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles

June 13, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jolani gets a make-over in Idlib

By Steven Sahiounie | Mideast Discourse | February 9, 2021

The administration of [proclaimed] President Joe Biden may use a new tactic to bring Damascus to its knees. The ‘regime-change’ policy of Obama, which spawned ‘forever-wars’ in Libya and Syria, has a new twist.

Biden could choose to solve the Syrian conflict through diplomacy, but he may have tasked Secretary of State Anthony Blinken with re-inventing a terrorist following Radical Islam, and with a $10 million bounty on his head, as the new leader of Syria.

Abu Mohammed Al-Jolani, the leader of Syria’s Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which had been previously named Jibhat al-Nusra, and where the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, had changed their name in a previous bout of re-branding their image.

The US is now in the process of changing the mask on HTS in Syria, as the group is listed by the US, EU, Russia, the UN, and Turkey as a terrorist group. Jolani took off his guerrilla warfare uniform and switched to a business suit recently in a PBS “Frontline” interview with journalist Martin Smith. Western audiences may be fooled by the new look, but the residents of Syria know the true Jolani. Washing away the gallons of blood on his hands will take a much deeper sanitizing than a new suit. Biden may have a hard time explaining the support of Jolani to French President Macron, who has officially declared war on Radical Islam.

The US had justified their illegal occupation of Syria as necessary to fight Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. The group was successfully dislodged from the territory they had held in northeast Syria.

The sole remaining territory held by an armed group following Radical Islam is Idlib, in the northwest, an area which US officials once described as “the largest al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11”. Western media describes Idlib as ‘a last stronghold of Syrian rebel groups’. The US and its media outlets have used the terms ‘terrorists’ and ‘rebels’ interchangeably, which has effectively re-branded blood-thirsty criminals into freedom fighters.

Trump had inherited the Syrian conflict from Obama, and he did not work toward any solution but held the status-quo, which saw US troops illegally stationed in Syria to steal the oil. Trump allowed Saudi Arabia to write the US foreign policy on Syria, due to his tight relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The US refused to beat HTS, instead, they protected them in Idlib, and have denounced Syrian and Russian attacks on the group. Now, the US has joined with HTS leader Jolani as their new man to lead Syria, still committed to the US policy of ‘regime change’.

The names change, but the essence is the same. In Syria, there were many armed groups, from the Free Syrian Army to Al Qaeda, and IS. Each had a leader, and a name, but in essence, all were the same: men killing people in the name of God. Their goal is ‘regime change’ and the regime they seek to install in Damascus is an Islamic government, with Sharia as the constitution and rule of law.

Turkey invaded Idlib and has 20,000 troops there, but has been reluctant to publically support HTS, because of the ‘terrorist’ listing. The US may begin a process to remove HTS from the terrorist label, which would open up greater aid and western investment in Idlib. At the same time, this close cooperation in Idlib between the US and Turkey could strengthen a fragile relationship between the two NATO partners. However, Turkey is ruled by a Muslim Brotherhood partyAKP, and there are calls by many in the US and the Arab Gulf states, to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.

The sizable Christian population in Idlib has suffered greatly at the hands of HTS and other Radical Islamic terrorist groups. Not only physical suffering but their properties were seized and they were made destitute and homeless.

The Russian-Turkish ceasefire remains fragile, while joint patrols along the M4 highway have essentially halted since August from terrorist attacks on trucks and civilians. The March 2020 agreement between Russia and Turkey explicitly calls for both sides to “combat all forms of terrorism, and to eliminate all terrorist groups in Syria as designated by the UN Security Council, which includes HTS.

Jolani fought in the post-2003 Iraq war as a member of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI, which later became ISIS), and in 2011 brought ISIS to Syria. He left ISIS in 2013, and declared allegiance to Al Qaeda, and established their affiliate in Syria, Jibhat al-Nusra.

Al-Nusra became known for being more brutal than all others and was feared and loathed by the Syrian civilians who were their victims. The group carried out war crimes and massacres of unarmed civilians sleeping in their own homes near Latakia in 2013. Killing, maiming, raping, and kidnapping was their calling card.

Jolani has been recast as the local Syrian leader capable of governing Idlib. However, Syria is a much bigger place than Idlib, which is a small agricultural area, only known for its olives. What about the biggest city, Aleppo, or the capital Damascus: what would the residents there think of an ex-ISIS member being in charge of Syria? The Syrian people have lived under a secular form of government for 40 years, and have fought against Radical Islam for ten years. Morphing a terrorist into a leader is a fantasy conjured up in Washington, DC. but will not play well to a Syrian audience.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist.

February 9, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

More scandals on Dutch government’s involvement in supporting terrorism in Syria

SANA | December 6, 2020

Amsterdam  – A new chapter in the scandals of the Netherlands’s involvement in supporting terrorist organizations in Syria is unfolding in front of the world public opinion after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has recently admitted that he personally intervened to obstruct parliamentary investigations into his government’s provision of millions of dollars to terrorists, which shows the blatant hypocrisy in the policies of the Netherlands and the West regarding the allegations of fighting terrorism and protecting human rights.

The new development in the Dutch scandals file came after Rutte had been forced a few days ago to admit that he had obstructed the investigations by a fact-finding committee formed at the Dutch Parliament two years ago after Dutch media published files revealing the Dutch government’s involvement in supporting terrorists in Syria over several years and supplying them with technical equipment, especially for communication, military and logistical equipment, and hundreds of trucks and various vehicles.

At the time, the Dutch investigators did not reach any conclusion due to Rutte’s obstruction of the work of this committee and his deliberate concealment of secrets that prove his direct involvement with terrorists and his flagrant violation of the international and Dutch laws as the organizations that he supports financially and logistically in Syria are classified as terrorist organizations by the Dutch Public Prosecution itself.

The Parliamentary Investigation Committee was formed in the Netherlands after two media outlets revealed in a special documentary in 2017 the Dutch government’s support for about 22 terrorist groups, including the so-called “Levantine Front” organization, which is classified as terrorist even by Dutch institutions.

Rutte’s obstruction of the investigations has been met with great indignation by the Dutch people, as the media there has focused on his government’s involvement in providing millions of dollars, foodstuffs, medicines and telecommunication equipment to terrorists, while Dutch and European parties started to raise this issue at the public opinion platforms, calling for transparency and the truth while wondering about the benefit of democracy if it is not reflected on the ethical dimensions of the international policies.

The Dutch support for armed terrorist groups has continued throughout the years of the war on Syria, despite the pledges of the Amsterdam government to its parliament that only the organizations it described as “moderate” would receive support in harmony with the hypocrisy adopted by the United States of America, which has always claimed that it provides support and training to those whom it describes as “moderate opposition”, but later many reports have refuted these claims and confirmed that “Washington’s moderates” are nothing but terrorists who joined the ranks of terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda and Daesh “ISIS”.

The Dutch government has claimed that the reason behind its illegal interference to obstruct the investigations into the scandal is that the investigation would lead to the disclosure of secret information, in addition to exposing the alleged international coalition which had been formed under the pretext of fighting Daesh “ISIS” and the crimes committed by the Western states which are members of this coalition against Syrian civilians and the Syrian infrastructure under the pretense of fighting terrorism, while the facts on the ground confirm the involvement of this coalition in protecting Daesh.

The Netherlands, which is on the top of the European countries that export terrorists to Syria and Iraq, and the Dutch government’s support for terrorist organizations in the context of its submission to the American decision, makes it the last to have the right to talk about democracy and human rights in Syria or elsewhere and its government should be held accountable at the International Court of Justice.

December 8, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Joe Biden and Terrorism

By Daniel Lazare | Strategic Culture Foundation | November 28, 2020

As Joe Biden unveils his hawkish cabinet picks, it’s hard not to get the sense that we’re all hurtling back in time to those glorious days of regime change when the United States believed it had a sacred right to topple any government that got in its way. It also seems like we’re returning to the days that when jihadi terrorism aimed at America and its allies was horrible, terrible, a crime against humanity, and so on, while terrorism aimed at people the US didn’t like was, well, distasteful and unpleasant but not something to bring up in polite company.

While no one wants to blow up innocent civilians, in other words, what really counts is which civilians and in whose behalf.

With that in mind, it’s worth revisiting a talk that then-Vice President Biden gave at Harvard’s Kennedy School in October 2014. If you enjoy listening to an empty-headed politician spouting endless clichés, you can access all ninety minutes of it here. But if you’re not a glutton for punishment, you can jump to the 53:35 mark and zero in on Sleepy Joe’s specific thoughts regarding America’s Mideast partners and their inordinate fondness for ISIS and Al Qaeda.

The topic was the US-Saudi effort to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and here’s what the veep had to say, run-on sentences and all:

“The Saudis, the emirates, etc. what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. … So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody is awakened because this outfit called ISIL, which was Al Qaeda in Iraq when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space and territory in … eastern Syria, worked with Al Nusra, who we declared a terrorist group early on, and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So what happened? Now all of a sudden, I don’t want to be too facetious, but they have seen the Lord. … Saudi Arabia has stopped funding, Saudi Arabia is allowing training on its soil… the Qataris have cut off their support for the most extreme elements of terrorist organizations, and the Turks, President Erdogan told me, he’s an old friend, he told me, you were right, we let too many people through. Now he’s trying to seal their border….”

Words like these are worth savoring because they undermine years of propaganda about American exceptionalism and the US as a force for good. Obama, for instance, claims to oppose sectarianism. Yet here was his second-in-command saying that US allies didn’t merely want to topple Assad, but that they wanted to topple him by fomenting “a proxy Sunni-Shia war.”

In other words, they wanted to mobilize thousands of bigoted Sunni head-choppers in order to topple the Alawite president of one of the most religiously diverse countries in the Middle East.

Obama also claims to oppose terrorism and, of course, vehemently objects to any suggestion that Al Qaeda is a western creation. Yet here was Biden stating in the very next sentence that Saudi Arabia & Co. had “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into … Al Nusra and Al Qaeda” and that “we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.”

So they did supply Al Qaeda despite US protests, which, in any event, were strictly private. While Biden went on to say that the Saudis have seen the light thanks to the dramatic rise of the Al Qaeda offshoot known as ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), his wording was curious. Qatar, he said, had cut off support for “the most extreme elements,” while adding that Turkey, after admitting that it had let too many fighters traverse its border, was now trying to close the barn door after the horse had left.

But what does “most extreme” mean? That Qatar was still funding some Al Qaeda elements providing that they were not too outré? As for letting “too many people through,” was Biden suggesting that Turkey was right to let some Al Qaeda fighters cross, but that too many were spoiling the stew?

So it seems, and so numerous other reports attest. So not only did the Saudis fund Al Qaeda and ISIS to the hilt, they cut off aid to the latter only when they finally figured out, as Biden went on to say, “that ISIL’s target wasn’t Ramadi” in northern Iraq, but Mecca and Medina in their own kingdom. Killing thousands of people, raping and enslaving hundreds of Yazidi women, imposing a terrifying theocracy – such activities are permissible as long as they remain confined to Syria and Iraq. But once they threaten the House of Saud, well, that’s more than any civilized nation can bear.

The fresh-faced Harvard students who listened to such nonsense did not respond by booing, jeering, or tossing buckets of red paint. Amazingly, they instead responded with polite applause. Even more striking was the reaction when word got back to Washington. Instead of congratulating Biden for his forthrightness, Obama ordered him to go on what the New York Times described as “a Middle East apology tour” by phoning up Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Ankara, etc. and conveying his personal regrets – not for being incorrect, that is, but for being indiscreet. Vice presidents are supposed to know what they can and cannot say in a public place.

All of which calls to mind something known as the Bush Doctrine. In case no one can remember that far back, it goes like this:

“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

So George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress just a few days after 9/11, and since no subsequent administration has expressly repudiated those words, presumably they’re still in effect. If so, then the next time reporters get an opportunity, they should ask the president-elect if he still supports the doctrine and whether he plans to sever ties with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the UAE if he does.

They might also ask Hillary Clinton whether she would recommend a cut-off since, right around the time Biden was holding forth at Harvard, she was confiding in an email that “the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia … are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” It’s yet another example of top US officials saying one thing in public and the opposite when they think no one is listening.

Of course, the chances of severing ties with the Saudis are zero, while the chances of America’s fearless press corps posing such a question in the first place are nil as well. The Saudis may be terrorists, but they’re America’s terrorists, and that’s all that counts.

November 28, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi-led coalition, mercenaries working with al-Qaeda, Daesh in Yemen: Foreign Ministry

Press TV | October 25, 2020

The Foreign Ministry of Yemen’s National Salvation Government says the Saudi-led coalition engaged in a campaign against the country as well as the allied militiamen loyal to former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur are closely working with al-Qaeda and the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

The ministry, in two separate identical letters addressed to the United Nations and the UN Security Council on Saturday, elaborated on clean-up operations carried out by Yemeni armed forces and fighters from the Popular Committees against al-Qaeda and Daesh terror cells in the central province of Bayda.

The letters emphasized that there were foreign nationals, mostly Saudi citizens, among the militant commanders and combatants slain in the operations.

Large amounts of weapons, bombs and explosive belts were also seized.

The foreign ministry highlighted that the Saudi-led alliance has been providing al-Qaeda and Daesh with air cover as of ‘March 26, 2015,’ in addition to monetary, military and logistical support, medical care, and facilitation of their free movement.

The letters read that the Yemeni army forces and the Popular Committees fighters had recovered sophisticated weapons and military equipment ‘only in the inventory of countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United States.’

The Yemeni foreign ministry underlined that it has obtained documents that disclose Saudi Arabia’s support for al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorists, including monthly payrolls and military ID cards.

Documents have also been discovered proving a number of al-Qaeda and Daesh operatives were treated in hospitals in Saudi Arabia and the central Yemeni province of Ma’rib.

“Prior to and after the al-Bayda Operation, a number of al-Qaeda and Daesh elements fled to some occupied areas, including those in Ma’rib, and hid within the ranks of Saudi-sponsored Hadi loyalists,” the foreign ministry said.

It added, “The relationship between al-Qaeda and Daesh with the aggressors and traitors has reached a point where the leaders of these two groups hold high positions in Hadi’s ousted government. Some of these elements have been designated by the US Treasury Department as sponsors of terrorism, though.”

The letters said the Aden-based Yemeni administration had called for the release of 96 al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorists during negotiations on the exchange of prisoners being held by the National Salvation Government in Sana’a.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing Hadi’s government back to power and crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement. Ansarullah, backed by armed forces, has been valorously defending Yemen against the alliance.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments