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Heads up – naval sitrep

By Nat South | The Saker Blog | March 8, 2020

Photo op of US State Department delegation putting a foot into Idlib. Kelly Craft & James Jeffrey met with the White Helmets at the Turkish /Syrian border.

2. France News 24 (02/03)

3. U.S. Intel sources indicate… (06/03)

Rumour control: the ‘unconfirmed’, ‘unverifiable’ type as usual from journalists & media sources who diligently and blindly act as stenographers. Rather telling that a time when Syria & Russia have potentially achieved an important element of the 2018 Sochi agreement, (security corridor for M4 route & M5 secured), following talks between Erdogan & Putin in Moscow, we are now once more fed US anonymous intel stories about chemical weapon usage in Syria.

There a few other items of a similar kind of nature from the narrative keepers of regime change circulating on social media. I like to think that this isn’t a case of deja-vu, recalling events leading up to April 2018. I like to think I am completely wrong in having this feeling, but I cannot help sensing a brewing geopolitical storm that just keeps going. So, with this in mind, I will briefly outline what is the situation at sea, in the Eastern Mediterranean in particular.

To use an expression, keeping an eye on the ball on the current naval situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. Noteworthy is this: tweet from the U.S. Navy in Europe. The newly arrived U.S. carrier group trained with its French counterpart, ‘Charles de Gaulle’ which has been in the Eastern Mediterranean for a few weeks. Officially, the ‘Ike’ will be “conducting operations in U.S. 6th Fleet to support maritime security operations in international waters alongside our allies and partners.”

The last time that the USS Dwight Eisenhower and ‘Charles de Gaulle’ operated together was in 2016. This wasn’t however the first time that the French nuclear carrier operated alongside a U.S. one though (2014). As such, it would be difficult to infer any imminent operations from such activities. I remember a few commentators on the verge of hyperventilating over the presence of USS carriers back April 2019. along with the presence of another in the region. Abraham Lincoln and John C. Stennis carrier strike groups carried out operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

The presence of either U.S. or French aircraft carriers does not mean rising tensions or imminent operations against Syria, (or vice versa). Ultimately, nothing happened in spring 2019 regarding naval tensions in the region. But there again, there wasn’t the surreal background issue of an intense conflict in Idlib between Turkey and Syria in the media glare. In addition, there is a continuing hostile rhetoric in the air and one example is the U.S. ambassador to the UN was quite vocal in supporting Turkish actions.

Thankfully, the recent conflict did not become a large-scale conflict involving external powers (NATO, USA & Russia). Although, while the situation was escalating on the ground, the Russian Navy did send 2 additional Black Sea Fleet based warships through the Bosphorus on 28 February, reportedly to the Eastern Mediterranean. These were the frigates “Admiral Makarov” and “Admiral Grigorovich”. Not actually significant compared to the scale of the build-up in 2018 where at least an additional 6 Russian Navy ships & possibly 2 submarines were sent to the region in a 3-week period.

Contrary to some pundits, the arrival of the ‘Ike’ was not a response to escalating events over Idlib, since these deployments are planned a long time beforehand. Yet it was unusual in that it left straight after successfully completing the Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX).

It seems weird to have the issue of chemical attacks pop up in the March/April period with the accusations that the “Assad Regime” has launched a chemical weapons attack on the so-called moderate opposition held areas. Then the West finger pointing at Russia and insults of anyone dissenting of being Russian propaganda mouthpieces. “Time will tell” and the April 2019 incident was shown to be a macabre false flag, highlighting serious concerns over manipulation of information & blatant bias of the resulting OPCW report, as confirmed by whistle-blowers.

Here is an outline of claimed reported chemical weapons attacks in March/April:

March 2013 Aleppo

April 2013 Saraqeb

April 2014 Kafr Zita

March 2015 Sarmin

April 2017 Khan Sheikhoun

(This resulted in an U.S. Tomahawk strike from 2 U.S. warships)

April 2018 Douma

(Multiple air / sea launched missiles strikes – U.S. UK & France).

April 2019 – claim made.

If you look at the date of the above 2019 article, it just happens to coincide with the presence of the two U.S. carrier groups in spring 2019. Worth noting is that the April 2018 strikes did not involve carriers at all. Effectively, the destroyers & submarines are already operating in the Eastern Mediterranean and it is only these that are needed to carry out sea-based missile strikes, (2017 & 2018).

Do we now have another round of rumours? Another round of brazen & contrived attempts to frame Syria & Russia as disinfo ops designed to trigger principally USA retaliation, at a time when the situation in Idlib has ended with a ceasefire to the advantage of Syria & Russia. Another sequel in the making? The Russian MoD stated recently that jihadists did attempt to carry out a chemical weapons attack to frustrate Syrian government forces but instead got poisoned themselves in Saraqeb.

As it stands, it is business as usual in the Mediterranean with the U.S. Navy, along with the USNS and the Russian Navy. The Russian Navy rescue ship ‘Prof. Muru’ is in the Eastern Mediterranean off Crete, possibly waiting and watching the U.S. Navy. One of the Admiral Grigorovich class deployed in the Mediterranean has left it, going through the Strait of Gibraltar on March 5 leaving two other frigates on station.

A bigger picture of the composition & types of ships Russian Navy forward deployed from Tartus is provided in this tweet. The main point is that the Russian Navy presence in the Eastern Mediterranean is largely to protect the Russian bases, not to counter NATO or the U.S. It is composed of very few combat ships and mostly logistical support. The main ASW backbone is the submarine force and the 2 frigates. That’s it. The only interesting event was the deployment in quick succession of 3 ships from the Black Sea as part of the regular longstanding Syrian Express, (BDK Orsk, Novocherkassk & Caesar Kunikov). It is the latest tangible support for operations in Idlib, especially with regards to providing new equipment and also replacements for equipment destroyed by the Turks. Lastly, that is not to say that the Russian Navy sits idly, every mission is a learning experience, with Syrian lessons fed back into across all level into the training infrastructure on the whole.

Note:

The only other significant Russian Navy warship that could beef up the contingent was last in Colombo, Sri Lanka. “Yaroslav Mudry”left on March 6. https://twitter.com/srilankaglobal/status/1236268463947165696 Additionally, the ‘Admiral Vinogradrov’ also called into Colombo.

The French carrier has now left the Mediterranean after 7 weeks operations in the east.

https://twitter.com/marinenationale/status/1236354201866784768<

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ‘Stolen Province’: Why Turkey Was Given A Corner Of Syria By France 80 Years Ago

Sputnik – February 29, 2020

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming more and more embroiled in a direct fight with Syria over Idlib Province. The fighting is directly across the border from Hatay, a province which was given to Turkey in 1939 after a disputed referendum.

Turkey has lost a total of 54 soldiers in Idlib province this month as Syria’s President Bashar Assad and his Russian allies have accused Turkey of failing to honour a deal to separate extremist groups from other fighters in the region.

The Syrian Army now controls the southern half of Idlib province but the fighting has increased the stream of refugees attempting to cross the border into the Turkish province of Hatay.

​The border between Syria and Turkey is a relatively straight line from east to west until it reaches the Orontes river.

Then it suddenly dips and heads southwards for about 80 miles, before turning west again and meeting the Mediterranean just beyond Mount Kilic.

​Strategically this little corner of the Levant – known as Liwa Iskanderoun to the Syrians – is vitally important to the Turkish state.

​Now called Hatay province, it contains the cities of Antakya and Iskanderun – previously known as Antioch and Alexandretta – and the port of Dortyol, which was known as Chork Marzban to its Armenian population before the genocide which finally ended in 1923.

In that same year the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which enshrined the boundaries of the Turkish state.

​Those borders remain exactly the same today – except for Hatay province, which suddenly joined Turkey in 1939.

Syria, Lebanon and much of the Middle East had been part of the Ottoman Empire until it collapsed after being defeated in the First World War.

Under the Treaty of Lausanne, Hatay was part of the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon but just before the Second World War broke out, Paris suddenly decided to hold a referendum and Hatay voted to become part of Turkey.

​Syria became independent in 1945 – with Lebanon as a separate state – and refused to recognise Hatay as part of Turkey.

But little was said about it until the conflict in Syria began to draw in President Erdogan and the Turkish armed forces several years ago.

Syrian media began to highlight the suspicious and controversial way Hatay, or Liwa Iskanderoun, was given to the Turks.

In the late 1930s, France was growing increasingly worried about an impending war with Hitler’s Germany and French diplomats were desperately trying to sign up potential allies in Europe and the Middle East.

Ataturk died in 1938 and his successor, Ismet Inonu, was keen to continue his Turkish nationalist fervour.

So when the French suggested a treaty of friendship during the upcoming war, Inonu was willing to accept, on one condition that Turkey recover Hatay.

France agreed, but was technically breaching the Treaty of Lausanne, so in order to give it a fig leaf of respectability, the French suggested a referendum.

​Hatay was at the time a mixture of nationalities – Turks, Turkmen, Sunni Arabs, Alawites (Alevis), Armenians and even some Greeks – with no clear majority, but Ankara is widely believed to have bussed in Turks from other parts of Anatolia and rigged the result of the referendum.

Relations between Turkey and Syria were strained for decades over the issue of Hatay but they began to improve in the 1990s as Turkey sought Syrian help in combating Kurdish guerrillas.

Just before the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, an agreement was signed to build a $28 million Syrian-Turkish Friendship Dam on the Orontes River.

But construction was postponed by the conflict and now Turkey and Syria have had a falling out, with Erdogan furious at Assad for daring to target Turkish troops even though they were siding with jihadist rebels.

February 29, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

Erdogan Confirms Intention to Meet With Putin, Merkel, Macron to Discuss Idlib on 5 March

Sputnik – February 22, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed on Saturday that he intended to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in Istanbul on 5 March to discuss the situation in Syrian Idlib.

“I held telephone conversations with Putin, Macron and Merkel on Idlib. We will meet together on 5 March and discuss this topic again”, Erdogan said, speaking in Izmir province.

On Friday, Erdogan said that the leaders of France and Germany had offered Putin hold a summit on Syria on 5 March in Istanbul.

Earlier in February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Turkey had not fulfilled several key commitments on Idlib, including its failure to distinguish between the armed opposition, which is ready for dialogue with the government within the framework of the political process, and terrorists. In turn, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has claimed that Ankara had fulfilled its obligations in Idlib.

Idlib remains the last stronghold of militants and terrorists in Syria. In September 2018, Russia and Turkey agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in the province, but militants continued to stage attacks on the Syrian government troops and civilians, which resulted in a new offensive of Damascus in the region.

February 22, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

The Death Of Free Speech: Zuckerberg Asks Governments For Instructions On “What Discourse Should Be Allowed”

By Jonathon Turley | February 17, 2020

I have written for years on the effort of European countries to expand their crackdown on free speech globally through restrictions on social media and Internet speech. It appears that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has relented in what may prove the death knell for free speech in the West. Zuckerberg seems to relent in asking governments for regulations stipulating what speech will be permitted on Facebook and other platforms. It is the ultimate victory of France, Germany, and England in their continuing attack on free expression though hate speech laws and speech regulation.

Zuckerberg told an assembly of Western leaders Saturday at the Munich Security Conference that “There should be more guidance and regulation from the states on basically — take political advertising as an example — what discourse should be allowed?” He did add: “Or, on the balance of free expression and some things that people call harmful expression, where do you draw the line?” The problem is that his comments were received as accepting that government will now dictate the range of free speech. What is missing is the bright line rule long maintained by the free speech community.

As tragically demonstrated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, speech regulations inevitably expand with time. The desire to silence one’s critics becomes insatiable for both governments and individuals.

Zuckerberg is facing great pressure, including from Democratic leaders in the United States, to regulate political speech and he seems to be moving away from the bright-line position against such regulation as a principle. Instead, he is accepting the fluid concept of “balanced” regulations that has always preceded expanding speech codes and criminalization:

“There are a lot of decisions in these areas that are really just balances between different social values. It’s about coming up with an answer that society feels is legitimate and that they can get behind and understand that you drew the line here on the balance of free expression and safety. It’s not just that there’s one right answer. People need to feel like, ‘OK, enough people weighed in, and that’s why the answer should be this, and we can get behind that.’”

 

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 2 Comments

US openly paves way for INF-banned missiles to be placed in Europe & Asia – Lavrov

RT | February 17, 2020

Just out of a milestone nuclear missile accord, the US is about to deploy short- and intermediate-range missiles in Europe and Asia, prompting Moscow to engage France and other partners to preserve security on the continent.

“In order to agree on specific solutions, we need multilateral talks and multilateral consultations involving, of course, the United States, who destroyed the treaty,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday, referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

This pact saw Washington and Moscow eliminate entire classes of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers capable of carrying nukes back in the 1980s.

Now, they are actively creating the prerequisites for the deployment of these previously banned weapons in Europe, and indeed in Asia, they don’t hide it.

Japan, South Korea and some “Pacific islands” are the likeliest locations for these deployments, Lavrov noted.

Meanwhile, the minister, who unexpectedly met with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo at the Munich Security Conference, said he felt “certain shifts” in how the US approaches arms control now.

“We discussed a number of issues relating to the whole range of problems that are on the agenda of our strategic dialogue, including those that are within the competence of the five permanent members [of the UN Security Council], and those relating to arms control issues,” he revealed.

Lavrov and Pompeo have agreed “to continue pointed professional conversation on it.” But until US-Russia relations thaw, Moscow will reach out to other partners in Europe concerned about the fate of the INF.

“Of course, we will talk about this with the French,” the foreign minister added. France seems to be particularly responsive to Russia’s concerns. This month, President Emmanuel Macron insisted the Europeans cannot sit idle as they “could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil.”

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

People in NATO Countries Say ‘No’ to Supporting a NATO Ally in a Military Conflict with Russia

By Adam Dick | Ron Paul Institute | February 11, 2020

NATO is marketed as providing each member nation with the benefit that the other member nations are committed to coming to its aid militarily in the event of an attack by another nation, especially Russia. However, Pew Research Center poll results released Sunday indicate that the majority or plurality of people in 11 of 16 NATO countries where individuals were questioned oppose their respective governments meeting this commitment, at least if the military adversary were Russia.

These poll results indicate that serious thought should be given to disbanding NATO, an organization with a primary objective that appears to be at odds with public opinion in many NATO countries.

When asked if their respective countries’ governments should use military force to defend a NATO ally country neighboring Russia with which “Russia got into a serious military conflict,” people living in the 16 NATO countries tended to answer in the negative. “No” was the answer for the majority of polled individuals in eight countries — France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Turkey. In three more NATO countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland — a plurality rejected military intervention. Only in five countries — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Lithuania — did more people (a majority in each case) support such military intervention than reject it.

Read the poll results here.

February 15, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

No military aspect to Iran’s satellite carriers: Defense minister

Press TV – February 12, 2020

Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami says Iran’s satellite carriers have nothing to do with its military activities and lie completely outside the country’s defensive practices.

“The satellite carriers have nothing to do with the subject of missiles, and constitute a completely non-defensive and non-military issue,” Hatami said following a government meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

According to the defense chief, a satellite might be used for defense-related purposes, but the carriers are totally non-defensive in nature.

On Sunday, the Iranian Space Agency said the country had launched its domestically-made Zafar satellite using a Simorgh satellite carrier, but that the missile had fallen short of reaching the designated orbit.

The agency added that the data from the launch would be used to optimize future launch attempts.

As with every country that has experimented with satellites, the Iranian nation likewise has a vested right to avail itself of the technology, he added, noting that the country would, therefore, strongly pursue its relevant plans in this regard.

The Iranian defense minister was apparently reacting to claims made by France and the US about Tehran’s space program following the launch.

Reacting to the launch on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of trying to improve its ballistic missile skills through the satellite launch and vowed to exert more pressure.

A day earlier, France also criticized the launch and suggested that it was inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity related to missiles “designed to be capable of” delivering nuclear weapons.”

Commenting on Iran’s missile activities, Hatami noted that the defense program was in complete accord with international regulations that prohibit the development of projectiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

“Nothing of the kind exists in the Islamic Republic,” Hatami said. “All of our missiles, which we take pride in and which constitute an important factor of Iran’s defense and military power, are made with conventional warheads.”

“The projectiles are high in precision, something that the Americans came in proper touch with at Ain al-Assad [Airbase],” he said.

The US airbase, which is located in Iraq’s western Anbar Province, and another American outpost in the Arab country’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region came under retaliatory ballistic missile strikes by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) last month.

The strikes were prompted by the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, and a number of others in a set of drone strikes targeting Baghdad’s civilian airport.

“We do not need anything beyond this. Our missiles are precision-guided and fitted with conventional warheads,” Hatami added.

The Islamic Republic, he added, was likely to launch its Zafar (Triumph)-2 Satellite in the beginning of the next year on board Simorq (Phoenix) Satellite Carrier.

The official said the country considered the vehicle and satellite technology to be one of the subject matters of its research activities.

He said the Islamic Republic would pursue the research “until it reaches a stable stage,” and the country attains the ability to “do this in the form of a sustained practice.”

February 12, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Iran stresses right to enhance space technology, rejects France ‘meddlesome’ claims

Press TV – February 11, 2020

Iran has dismissed France’s “meddlesome” claim about its space program following a recent satellite launch, saying the Islamic Republic reserves the right to make scientific progress.

Tehran on Sunday launched its domestically-made Zafar (Triumph) satellite using a Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite carrier, but the missile fell short of reaching the designated orbit.

The satellite launch came on the same day that Iran unveiled a new missile, ‘Ra’d-500 (Lightning-500),’ which is equipped with a composite engine block as well as the new generation of propellant for missiles and satellite carriers.

The French Foreign Ministry on Monday condemned Iran for trying to put a satellite in space and unveiling the new ballistic missile, urging Tehran to abide by international obligations on its controversial missile program.

“In keeping with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Iran cannot engage in activities, including launches, connected to ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons,” said the French statement, claiming that Tehran’s ballistic missile program “hurts regional stability and affects European security.”

Rejecting the “meddlesome” statement on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Tehran has “an inherent right to develop science and technology.”

“Iran’s defensive missile program has also nothing to do with Resolution 2231 because Iranian missiles have not been designed to carry nuclear weapons,” the official said.

Resolution 2231 endorsed a nuclear deal inked in 2015 between Tehran and six world states — the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China.

The US, however, abandoned the deal in May 2018 in defiance of the resolution, throwing the future of the agreement in doubt.

The European parties initially vowed to keep the deal alive but failed to fulfill their contractual obligations under intense US pressure, prompting Tehran to begin suspending the implementation of parts of its nuclear commitments on a stage-by-stage basis a year later.

Iran says its counter-measures are reversible if the European signatories take meaningful action to save the deal.

February 11, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Support for NATO wanes in France, Germany & even US as alliance struggles to maintain unity

RT | February 10, 2020

Public support for NATO has seen a notable decline in France, Germany and the US, according to a new poll. The alliance has suffered from months of budgetary in-fighting and mud-slinging among member states.

While the Pew Research study noted that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization still enjoys general support across member states, it pointed out that several countries “have soured on the alliance.”

Positive views of the transatlantic alliance fell to 52 percent in the United States last year, from 64 percent in 2018, the survey found. In France, support fell to 49 percent, from 60 percent in 2017 and 71 percent in 2009. A figure for 2018 was not available. Germany also saw a drop in public support, which stood at 57 percent in 2019, down from 63 percent in 2018. Positive ratings of NATO among members range from a high of 82 percent in Poland to 21 percent in Turkey.

The decline in public support can be attributed to a number of factors, including months of heated debate over defense spending among member states. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly chastised alliance members for not meeting their military spending commitment of two percent of GDP, while arguing that the United States pays far too much for Europe’s defense.

European states have also been highly critical of the Cold War-era defensive alliance. Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron accused NATO of suffering from “brain death” because of its perceived failure to help maintain global security and resolve world conflicts.

The alliance has also struggled to maintain a united front, most notable in Syria, where Turkey has been at odds with its American allies. Ankara has also locked horns with Athens over the tense military and political situation in Libya.

Founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union, NATO has been criticized for being largely obsolete and lacking a clear purpose. Despite billing itself as a defensive alliance, it has participated in a number of disastrous military interventions in the Middle East and North Africa.

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

France sends warships to Mediterranean to deter Turkey

MEMO | January 30, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron has sent warships to the Eastern Mediterranean to give support to Greece against Turkey’s quest for energy reserves in the region.

Together with Macron was Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was on a visit to the French capital Paris to gather support against Turkey. Mitsotakis welcomed the decision and described the warships as “guarantors of peace.”

“The only way to end differences in the eastern Mediterranean is through international justice,” he told reporters after holding talks with Macron. “Greece and France are pursuing a new framework of strategic defence.”

Tensions have increased significantly over the past year in the Eastern Mediterranean due to Turkey’s dispute with Southern Cyprus over the distribution of energy resources in the waters off the island of Cyprus.

In June last year, Turkey deployed drilling vessels to search for natural gas in retaliation to a deal struck by Greece, Southern Cyprus and Israel earlier that month, in which the three states agreed to build a pipeline harnessing the reserves of natural gas off the southern shores of the island. This pipeline – named EastMed – which is estimated to produce a profit of $9 billion over 18 years of the reserve’s exploitation, would be supplying gas from the Eastern Mediterranean region all the way to countries in Europe.

Turkey has called on those countries to participate in a fair and equal distribution of the energy resources discovered off Cyprus, insisting that they are attempting to exclude and alienate Turkey by striking their own deal without the consideration of both the major regional player and the people of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Therefore, it stresses that the drilling activities that Turkey is carrying out is legal and within territorial waters.

The EU, however, has repeatedly called on Turkey to give up its claim on having a share in the energy resources, claiming that its activities are “illegal”, leading to the Union to impose sanctions on the Republic in July last year over the issue, as well as due to Turkey’s military incursion – Operation Peace Spring – into northern Syria in October.

As France is one of the most prominent supporters of Greece in the dispute, Macron accused Turkey of being the one responsible for raising tensions as well as causing trouble in war torn Libya. “I want to express my concerns with regard to the behaviour of Turkey at the moment,” said Macron. “We have seen during these last days Turkish warships accompanied by Syrian mercenaries arrive on Libyan soil. This is an explicit and serious infringement of what was agreed in Berlin [conference]. It’s a broken promise.”

Greece itself has reportedly long been prepared for a military confrontation, with Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos recently warning that the country was “examining all scenarios, even that of military engagement.” This was shown with Greece’s arming of 16 Aegean islands last week, in violation of international law which stipulates that they remain demilitarised. When Turkey called on Greece to disarmed them and uphold international law, Greece refused.

January 30, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jewish Congress launches campaign against ‘antisemitism’ (aka support for Palestinian rights)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin demonstrates the new Instagram campaign against “antisemitism.” EJC and Israel consider opposition to Israeli human rights violations “antisemitic.”
Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | January 22, 2020

UPDATE: In the midst of impeachment proceedings, House Leader Nancy Pelosi has gone to Israel to take part in an event organized by the Russian-Israeli oligarch described below – see update at end of post.

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) has announced the launch of a worldwide, star studded social media campaign against what it calls “antisemitism,” but which is often advocacy for Palestinian human rights and opposition to Israeli apartheid. EJC is the regional affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, one of whose main missions is to advocate for Israel.

The EJC considers anti-Zionism to be a form of anti-Semitism and employs a newly created definition of antisemitism in which certain types of statements about Israel are supposedly “antisemitic.” As a result, EJC’s opposition to “antisemitism” often consists of censoring information that exposes Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.

Its new campaign, called “Stop This Story,” particularly focuses on Instagram, although it will also use YouTube and other platforms. According to the EJC, the campaign will be the “first global initiative of its kind that will leverage Instagram’s AR (Augmented Reality) effects to drive a global movement.” It claims to have recruited “some of the world’s leading AR effects’ creators.”

The campaign says it has enrolled a number of “international stars” and “international influencers, each of them with millions followers.” Among these are supermodel Bar Refaeli, actress Vanessa Kirby (from ‘The Crown’), former NBA player Omri Casspi, and “many other international figures, actors, entertainers, and sportsmen and women.”

The man behind the campaign

Russian-Israeli oligarch Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, president of the EJC and numerous other entities, is a billionaire whose top priority is strengthening Israel.

The individual behind the new campaign is EJC President Moshe Kantor, also known as Viatcheslav Kantor, He explains the reasoning underlying the campaign: “The best way to spread any message today is through social media because social networks and those who use them have the power to make the necessary changes in our societies.”

Kantor is a Russian-Israeli billionaire dedicated to Israel. He has stated that the creation of the State of Israel is the “biggest achievement” of Diaspora Jewry, and believes that all Jews must work to “strengthen our beloved state.”

In 2008 Kantor enunciated his core belief: “The reality of today requires that European Jews care not only about the preservation and security of Israel, but also the way it is treated by the rest of the world. This must be the leading priority of the European Diaspora.”

Kantor heads up and sometimes even originated, a network of pro-Israel international entities.

In addition to being president of the European Jewish Congress, he is founder and president of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, founder and chairman of the European Jewish Fund, originator and president of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, co-founder and president of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, vice president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, a member of the International Board of Hillel, and the former president of the Russian Jewish Congress, to name just some of his affiliations.

His ability to accomplish all this stems from his enormous wealth. In addition to being an “international philanthropist,” as he identifies himself, Kantor is an international businessman with $4 billion at his disposal. He has been accused of unscrupulous business dealings and financial fraud.

Like other Russian oligarchs, Kantor made his fortune in the first years of Russia’s “new capitalism”– sometimes called “gangster capitalism” – when, under the guise of “privatization,” Russia’s economy was massively looted, causing ruin to many Russian citizens who saw their life savings vanish, sometimes in a matter of weeks. Kantor’s father, a former Red Army soldier, reportedly served prison time for “speculation and embezzlement of state property in a large scale, taking bribes and forgery.” Kantor was among the many individuals in the Russian Jewish community who flourished; many – perhaps most – of the Russian oligarchs have ties to Israel.

Kantor is known for a variety of international activities. Along with notorious oligarch Boris Berezovsky, Kantor is said to have been a “sponsor of the ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine in 2005, which led to the cancellation of the initial results of the presidential election.” Berezovsky later bragged that he had funded the revolution. In 2006 Kantor received an award from Ukraine’s new president for “distinguished services” to the country.

Stamping out ‘Antisemitism’ and ‘Intolerance’

Kantor has been involved in a global campaign to embed a new, Israel-centric definition of antisemitism in European governments and institutions. The EJC says that the definition of anti-Semitism must be “clarified” because “the new form of anti-Semitism” supposedly “emanates from pro-Palestinians.” Kantor says that BDS, the international boycott of Israel over its violent human rights abuses, is “antisemitic.” (BDS works to “uphold the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.”)

Kantor advocates that governments punish antisemites as harshly as they punish terrorists. He has been working to convince European governments to adopt a bizarre 13-page program of “concrete and enforceable obligations that ensure tolerance and stamp out intolerance.”

The Orwellian program, entitled “National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance” (revised version here), would restrict freedom of expression, impose re-education programs, enact surveillance structures, and institute criminal penalties for “antisemitism” and other “intolerance.” Expressing views specified as impermissible would be “regarded as criminal offenses punishable as aggravated crimes.”

The document proposes a deeply authoritarian structure controlling multiple aspects of society to coerce “tolerance,” and anyone who doesn’t get with the program would be taken care of, e.g. “Juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed in paragraph (a) will be required to undergo a rehabilitation programme conducive to a culture of tolerance.” Big Brother in the form of a “National Tolerance Monitoring Commission” would ensure that no one says or does anything that the Commission determines is “intolerant.”

The program is being promoted by Kantor’s “European Center for Tolerance and Reconciliation” (ECTR), and may be on the way to becoming a reality. Kantor has secured former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as the ECTR Chairman and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy as a member.

According to its website ECTR has formed a joint task force with the European Council to work on implementing the program throughout Europe. The European Council, composed of the heads of state or government of the 28 EU member states, defines the EU’s overall political direction and priorities.

‘Global Pandemic’

Kantor recently said that antisemitism is now a “global pandemic” and that the “crisis of antisemitism is a slippery slope to global catastrophe.” He warns that Jews could “disappear completely as a people from Europe,” and raises the alarm about what he describes as “mass killing at synagogues.”

Media reports on the new EJC campaign similarly emphasize recent tragic attacks on Jews, and reference the assaults in the cities of Monsey, Jersey City, Halle, Poway, and Pittsburgh.

These terrifying attacks killed a combined total of 14 Jews.

News reports on the alleged perpetrators of the assaults, who were of diverse races, indicate a variety of motivations. One attacker said he had been inspired by a 2019 assault on two New Zealand mosques that had killed 51 Muslims.

Previous fatal shootings have also occurred at other religious sites. The largest number of fatalities in the US may have been at a Christian church, where 26 worshipers were killed in 2017.

While Kantor and the EJC claim the existence of massive antisemitism, Jewish Americans are reportedly the wealthiest group in the US, and this also appears to be the case for Jews worldwide.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have killed almost 10,000 Palestinian men, women, and children since 2000 and injured tens of thousands; Palestinian resistance forces have killed approximately 1,200 Israelis (details here).

Such disproportion is not new.

Twenty-five years ago, an Israeli author wrote: “In the last 40 years the number of non-Jews killed by Jews is by far greater than the number of the Jews killed by non-Jews.”

Many Jews around the world, including in Israel itself, have long strenuously opposed Israeli violence. According to Kantor and his cohort, these individuals are also “antisemitic.”

The bodies of five children from the same family killed in an Israeli air strike on 14 November 2019 lie in a hospital ward in Gaza (information on Gaza is here)

Fifth World Holocaust Forum

The new campaign comes just before the Fifth World Holocaust Forum to be held in Israel tomorrow,  January 23rd, co-sponsored by the president of Israel. The forums are another one of Kantor’s many projects.

Over 45 heads of state and world leaders have said they plan to attend the event, including the presidents of France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, the kings of Spain and Belgium, and Britain’s Prince Charles. Vice-president Mike Pence and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, will also attend.

The event is being held at Yad Vashem, Israel’s holocaust complex, a vast, sprawling institution with dozens of Israeli flags and tree-studded walkways leading to exhibits, archives, monuments, sculptures, and memorials.

The event website proclaims that the Holocaust is “the most horrific tragedy in human history” and states that “a new wave of antisemitism unseen since World War II poses an existential threat to European Jewry.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, among the forum’s features will be speeches by select heads of state, a Holocaust survivor, video clips, and “musical interludes performed by an orchestra and an international choir.” The event will be live streamed and conclude with the Israeli national anthem.

Yad Vashem is in Jerusalem where there is evidence all around – for any with eyes to see – of another genocidal program, one that has been going on since the one commemorated by Yad Vashem ended. An historian calls this one the “Palestinian holocaust” and describes it: a land was “occupied, emptied of its people, its physical and cultural landmarks obliterated, its destruction hailed as a miraculous act of God, all done according to a premeditated plan, meticulously executed, internationally supported, and still maintained today…”

Yad Vashem overlooks one of the obliterated landmarks emptied of its people: an almost empty field where the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin once stood.

On April 9, 1948 Zionist forces systematically exterminated 110 men, women, and children as part of a plan to rid Palestine of its Muslim and Christian population in order to make way for the Jewish state. This was one of 16 such Zionist massacres that took place before the official start of Israel’s founding war of ethnic cleansing, and over a month before a single Arab Army joined the conflict. In contrast to Yad Vashem’s monuments and memorials, Deir Yassin has no marker.

More recent evidence of the ongoing oppression can be found in the Issawiya neighborhood of Jerusalem, where heavily armed Israeli police have raided over 500 Palestinian homes and arrested more than 700 residents since May, apprehending children as young as five. Israeli forces shot dead a 21-year-old at close range and have injured over 300 people of all ages. Soldiers beat and humiliate residents at will. One resident says the area “has turned into a ghetto.” (Another such ghetto is Gaza, where Israeli forces yesterday killed three young men who had reportedly temporarily escaped from their prison.)

Not far from Issawiyah is Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall, confiscating additional Palestinian land and helping to imprison over two million people. In 2002 Israeli media reported that Israeli generals were studying how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto for use in Israel’s next campaign against Palestinians.

The Holocaust Forum program states that the world leaders “will be invited to lay a wreath at the base of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument created by world-renowned Jewish sculptor and artist Nathan Rappaport.”

Perhaps some of the world leaders could also visit the unmarked site of Deir Yassin, and lay a wreath on one of its crumbling graves. And then go to Israel’s wall and echo a famous demand from a previous head of state: “Tear down this wall.”

And maybe a future social media campaign could focus on ending all genocides, injustice, and oppression.

UPDATE:

Nancy Pelosi and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Jan 22, 2020 at Israeli state dinner sponsored by Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor.
(Pelosi’s Congressional offices are not telling constituents where she is.)

The UK Guardian reports that many of the heads of state have now arrived and that Israeli President Rivlin is hosting a state dinner today. Officials said organizers of the dinner “had tuned the grand piano, brought in 800 candles and hired 200 servers and ushers to serve Israeli cuisine. For space reasons, tents were set up outside and the heads of the foreign delegations were asked to bring only one guest…”

The article also reports: “Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has looked to capitalise on the event to rally international support against Iran” and hopes to procure “backing for his attacks on the international criminal court, which is investigating allegations of war crimes in the Palestinian territories.”

The Guardian reports that Russian president Vladamir Putin, French president Emmanuel Macron, and Prince Charles are expected meet with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.

A controversy involving Macron has already occurred:

“Macron also visited the old city of Jerusalem on Wednesday, where he was filmed by a French journalist working for Le Parisien shouting at an Israeli security officer. He appeared to be yelling at the man, who may have been assigned to his security detail, to leave the church of St Anne’s. The church has been owned by the French government since it was gifted by the Ottomans to Napoleon III in 1856, and is still considered French territory.

“Everybody knows the rules,” he said firmly in English. “Outside, please,” he shouted. “Please respect the rules. They [have been in place] for centuries. They will not change with me.”

“Macron’s altercation mirrored that of another French president, Jacques Chirac, who in 1996 refused to enter the same church until Israeli security left.”


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.

January 22, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

US misinforming international community on Iran’s enrichment right: Russia

Press TV – January 21, 2020

Russia has accused the US of misleading the international community on Iran’s right to enrich uranium, describing as “myth-making” a claim by Washington that a UN Security Council resolution has banned any enrichment in Iran.

“We consider it necessary to respond to the US special representative for Iran Hook about the existence of some kind of ‘UN standard’ prohibiting the Islamic Republic of Iran from enriching uranium,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The statement said the US claim accuses the UN Security Council of contradicting the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

“Unfortunately, such myth-making has long been part of the US approach toward nuclear non-proliferation … In this case, we have, essentially, an accusation against the UN Security Council of making decisions contradicting the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” the ministry added.

The statement also recalled that the aforementioned treaty allows the signatories to develop nuclear energy for non-military purposes.

It also noted that the NPT does not impose any restrictions on non-nuclear states in terms of uranium enrichment as long as they are under the IAEA control and pursue peaceful purposes.

“The NPT puts no limitations on the non-nuclear countries regarding uranium enrichment or developing other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. There is only one condition: that all work must be directed toward peaceful ends and be under IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency ] supervision,” the ministry noted.

The statement came after US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told journalists on Friday about an alleged UN resolution passed in 2006 or 2007 prohibiting Tehran from uranium enrichment.

In 2015, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and the European Union. The JCPOA required Iran to put certain limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

In 2018, the United States abandoned the deal with Iran, and hit the Iranian economy with the “toughest sanctions ever”.

On 8 May 2019, the first anniversary of the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the agreement, Iran announced a gradual reduction of its JCPOA obligations.

On 5 January, following the killing of Iran’s top military commander Qasem Soleimani in a US attack near the Baghdad International Airport, Tehran said it was rolling back all its commitments under the JCPOA.

In reaction to Iran’s move, European parties to the deal, which have failed to fulfill their commitments under the JCPOA, have threatened to take Iran’s nuclear issue to the UN Security Council.

The E3 (Germany, UK, and France) formally triggered the dispute mechanism within the agreement, accusing Iran of having violated the accord. Iran would now be asked to resolve the so-called dispute with the European trio, and the process could ultimately lead to the re-imposition of the Security Council’s sanctions that were lifted by the accord.

In reaction to the threat, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday said that if Britain, France, and Germany continue their unjustifiable conduct and move to send Iran’s nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council, Tehran would have the option of leaving the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Zarif explained that Iran was the party to initially trigger the dispute mechanism in 2018 by sending three letters to the European Union to notify them of Tehran’s dissatisfaction with Europe’s non-commitment to the agreement. The Islamic Republic, he added, was then forced to resort to the nuclear countermeasures as the Europeans remained in violation of the accord.

He, however, said Tehran’s measures were reversible provided Europe would begin minding its JCPOA obligations.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment