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The Duplicitous Agenda Endorsed by the UN and NATO

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 4, 2019

To the undiscerning, the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) perform different roles in the international arena. Yet both organisations have a common aim – the promotion of foreign intervention. While the UN promotes its humanitarian façade, NATO provides the militarisation of the UN’s purported human rights agenda.

NATO’s participation at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in September provided an overview of the current collaboration the organisation has with the UN. Jens Stoltelberg, NATO’s Secretary-General, mentioned the organisations’ collaboration in “working closely to support Afghanistan and Iraq”.

Since the 1990s, the UN and NATO cooperation was based on a framework which included decision-making and strategy on “crisis management and in the fight against terrorism.” In 2001, US President George W Bush launched his ‘War on Terror’ which eventually expanded to leave the Middle East and North Africa in perpetual turmoil, as the coined euphemism morphed into the so-called Arab Spring.

While the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 were led by the US, it is worth remembering that the absence of the organisation at that time is not tantamount to the exclusion of warfare from NATO member states. Notably, the US invasion of Afghanistan invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which stipulates that an attack on a NATO member state constitutes an attack on all member states.

“For NATO-UN cooperation and dialogue to remain meaningful, it must continue to evolve.” The statement on NATO’s website is a bureaucratic approach which detaches itself from the human rights violations created and maintained by both parties, which form the premise of such collaboration.

UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), upon which NATO based its collaboration with the UN, reaffirms, “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence as recognised by the Charter of the United Nations.” The resolution provides impunity for member-states and other collaborators with the UN, including NATO, to define what constitutes terrorism while eliminating foreign intervention as a terror act, despite the ramifications which last long after the aggression has been terminated or minimised.

The UN-NATO duplicity is exposed in Stoltenberg’s speech when he states, “NATO has also contributed to developing UN disposal standards to counter improvised explosive devices, which remain one of the greatest threats to peacekeepers.” Why are the UN and NATO selecting rudimentary forms of warfare over precision bombing which has killed thousands of civilians in the name of fighting terror or bringing democracy?

In 2011, the UNSC’s arms embargo was supposed to prevent the proliferation of weapons to the rebels in Libya – a contradiction given the UNSC’s authorisation for NATO to bomb Libya. France, however, defied the resolution by publicly declaring its proliferation of weapons to rebels in Libya, on the pretext of their necessity to protect Libyan civilians. NATO denied its involvement as an organisation in providing arms to the rebels, despite the fact that action was taken by a NATO member. With the UN endorsing foreign intervention and NATO implementing the atrocities, the UN can fall back on its alleged peace-building and humanitarian roles, of which there is never a decline due to the irreparable damage both organisations have wreaked upon exploited, colonised and ravaged countries. The cooperation lauded by NATO does not rest on a division of roles but rather on blurring the differentiation between war and humanitarianism, in order to generate both as a duplicitous agenda.

NATO maintains that the UNSC holds “primary responsibility” for maintaining international peace and security. What the statement evades is the individual interest of each member, as well as their collective framework as NATO members. To satisfy the UNSC, individual interests and NATO membership, a common denominator is imperative. For the perpetrators of foreign intervention, war constitutes the binding legacy.

October 4, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US and EU Gang up to Demonize Iran Over Saudi Airstrikes

Strategic Culture Foundation | September 27, 2019

The European Union’s statement this week condemning Iran over the recent airstrikes on Saudi Arabia’s key oil industry sites was a tawdry piece of political cowardice. Not only tawdry, but dangerous as well.

For the EU is giving credence to Washington’s intensified attempts to demonize Iran, imposing ever-harsher economic sanctions and escalating tensions that could explode into an all-out war. Ironically, this is in spite of the EU claiming to be facilitating diplomacy to promote peace and security in the Middle East.

To be more precise, it wasn’t an EU joint statement issued at the United Nations general assembly this week. It was a statement formulated by only three members of the bloc: Britain, France and Germany. In practice, however, the biggest members of the EU were speaking on behalf of the others. (Full statement here.)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated the following:

“We condemn in the strongest terms the attacks on oil facilities on Saudi territory on September 14, 2019 in Abqaiq and Khurais, and reaffirm in this context our full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its population. It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.”

Thus, the Europeans are repeating assertions made by the United States and Saudi Arabia by which they accuse Iran of being responsible for firing drones and cruise missiles at the vital Saudi oil installations. No credible proof has so far been presented to support such an assertion.

The European powers are engaging in a reprehensible blame game which will only embolden further Washington’s reckless aggression against Iran.

Tehran has categorically rejected all accusations that it was in some way involved in the airstrikes against Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni Houthi rebels have from the outset following the attacks claimed full responsibility.

Iran may support the Yemeni rebels and have at some time provided weapon technology, but the Houthis are capable of developing and deploying their own fire power.

By blaming Iran, the US and Europeans are giving political cover to Saudi Arabia and its nefarious role in starting and waging a genocidal war against Yemen for the past four years. It is arguably the right of the Yemenis to retaliate against Saudi Arabia in acts of self-defense. And it is in Iran’s right to support the Yemenis, just as the US, British and French support Saudi Arabia. Why should there be a double standard?

What is even more despicable is that the European trio (the so-called E3) have been massive weapons suppliers to Saudi Arabia, in particular Britain and France. The British and French (and Americans, of course) have made hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years from weaponizing the Saudi war on Yemen, even though that has led to nearly 100,000 civilian deaths. Why doesn’t the E3 issue condemnation, rather than “solidarity” to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, over this genocidal slaughter?

A further aspect to the joint statement issued by Britain, France and Germany is that these powers are signaling their support for US President Donald Trump’s efforts at sabotaging the international nuclear accord with Iran. That landmark deal was co-signed by the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China back in July 2015.

Trump reneged on the UN-endorsed treaty when he unilaterally walked away from it in May 2018. It was typical American bad faith and backsliding whenever international agreements don’t suit their selfish interests.

Russia and China continue to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, as the nuclear deal is known formally as). Iran has recently begun to suspend certain commitments, such as increasing stocks of enriched uranium. The Iranian position of partial non-compliance is understandable. The US has trashed its obligations to the deal, and the Europeans have barely stepped up to the plate to implement sanctions relief for Iran, which is mandated by the JCPOA. Four years after the deal was done!

Britain, France and Germany claim to be still committed to the nuclear deal, according to a press statement by EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Federica Mogherini at the UN this week.

But it is evident that, on the contrary, the E3 troika is instead moving to undermine the JCPOA. Blaming Iran with groundless accusations of attacking Saudi Arabia is part of the sinister shift by stealth. The day before the E3 issued their joint statement, Britain’s Boris Johnson was disparaging the nuclear as a “bad deal” and urged a renegotiation for what he sycophantically called a “Trump deal”.

Here is another weasel-worded section from the EU joint statement:

“Conscious of the importance of collective efforts to guarantee regional stability and security, we reiterate our conviction that the time has come for Iran to accept negotiation [sic] on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery… We urge Iran to engage in such a dialogue and refrain from further provocation and escalation.”

That is a clear – albeit with backhanded verbosity – attempt to pressure Iran into accepting Trump’s demand for the JCPOA to be replaced by further restrictions on Iran’s rights to pursue self-defense and normal regional and international relations. In weak-kneed fashion, the EU is augmenting Trump’s agenda of demonizing and criminalizing Iran so that it might succumb to subjugation.

Why the Europeans are acting with such cynicism is to conceal the glaring fact of their own weakness vis-a-vis Washington’s dictates and imperialist bullying. They should be admonishing the Americans for bad faith and reckless aggression; they should be condemning Saudi Arabia for a merciless slaughter in Yemen; they should be with-holding lucrative weapons sales to Saudi Arabia if they were really interested in peace; and if the Europeans really were genuine about non-proliferation and Middle Eastern stability, they should be whole-heartedly implementing the nuclear accord with Iran and providing the country the normalized economic trade that it is entitled to – just as Russia and China have done.

But no. And so to cover up their spinelessness, the Europeans are obliged to gang up with Washington to blame the victim of imperialist abuse – Iran. Such European cowardice is leading to more conflict.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alain Soral Sentenced to 2 Years Jail for Sharing “Gilets-Jaunes” Anti-Rothschild Rap Video

He Could Pay Over €170,000 in Fines and Compensation

A French writer and publisher will be jailed for sharing this meme
By Guillaume Durocher • Unz Review • September 26, 2019

The French civic-nationalist and anti-Zionist intellectual Alain Soral was sentenced to two years prison last week for sharing a rap video entitled “Gilets-Jaunes.”

The music clip (watch it while you still can) is typical of the Yellow Vests in denouncing French media, political, and financial elites, and making a plea for direct democracy, notably the famous proposed Citizen’s Initiative Referendum (Référendum d’Initiative Populaire or RIC).

The video also argues for the abrogation of the banking law of June 1973 – known as the “Pompidou-Rothschild Act,” after the then French president and the investment bank he used to work for. Critics claim the law has reduced France to debt slavery by making her dependent on financial markets for loans rather than self-finance through the national bank.

The video also features a pyre where various figures are symbolically burned: President Emmanuel Macron, various media (TF1, Le Monde, BFMTV . . .), the Rothschild bank, and, most problematically, powerful elite Jews (Jacques Attali, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Patrick Drahi).

The rapper points out: “And if we talk about the media and Macron, we’ll have to talk about Drahi. His bank account is in Israel and he pays no taxes here.” Drahi, a Franco-Israeli-Portuguese oligarch born in Morocco and residing in Switzerland, has bought up large swathes of French media in recent years.

In case the denunciation of Jewish-globalist and Jewish-Zionist power elites in the financial and media spheres were not explicit enough, the video also states: “We’re not talking about a so-called oppressed minority. We’re talking about the deliberately neglected majority [of workers, farmers, and pensioners] . . . France has decided to free itself from the Rothschilds.”

President Macron speaking before the powerless lobby you will be destroyed for criticizing

As the words “so-called oppressed minority” are uttered, images are flashed of the annual dinner of the CRIF – the influential official French Jewish lobbying organization – an event where the crème de la crème of the French politico-media elite regularly come to genuflect.

The rapper lauds the “prolo patriotes” (patriotic workers) who are rising up and denounces the oligarchic “parasites” who are enriching themselves all the while demanding austerity from the masses. The song concludes: “The French are fed up with these parasites. The French are fed up, it ain’t racist. National uprising!” The author is a certain “Rude Goy.”

There are various pro-Arab and pro-Muslim symbols included. Drahi is mentioned while a pro-Palestine hoody is flashed. The rapper wears a fashionable keffiyeh. As a mainstream journalist anxiously warns that the French State is bordering on collapse in the face of the protesters, the rapper answers: “Inshallah” (God willing in Arabic).

The video then artfully interweaves mainstream yellow-vest concerns about French democracy’s subversion by high finance with a denunciation of the specific role of Jewish elite power in this process. There is no blanket anti-Semitism or attack on day-to-day Jews.

The images of Jewish oligarchs and intellectuals being symbolically burned – along side mainstream media and the French president, mind you – angered a certain number of Jewish activist and (mostly Jewish-run) “anti-racist” organizations. I imagine these images felt downright Auschwitzian to them.

The groups sued Soral for “granting enormous visibility to this video by publishing it on his website” and thus promoting the anti-Semitic theory of a “Jewish conspiracy.”

Note Soral did not create the video: he merely shared it on his website, as he did innumerable other yellow-vest videos. One wonders if linking to the video is also considered a criminal act. Probably not, or only if your name is Alain Soral. This tells you something about the legal arbitrariness of these censorious laws and liberticidal ethnic lobbies.

Soral will also be required to pay a 45,000-euro fine and tens of thousands of euros in “compensation” to the various aggrieved Jewish and/or professional “anti-racist” activist organizations. That’s called good business.

Coincidentally, or not, the bank BNP Paribas simply closed the bank account of Égalité & Réconciliation, Alain Soral’s influential counter-cultural organization.

Presumably the court decision will be appealed. However, the noose is apparently tightening around Soral. Earlier this year, he was also sentenced to a year in jail for sharing a cartoon highlighting various holocaust hoaxes (lampshades, soap, etc).

Soral has always said that true intellectuals must inevitably come up against the authorities sooner or later. An intellectual who really stands up for his ideals “passera par la case prison” (will go to jail, do not pass-go), as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Charles Maurras did.

Whatever happens, more people than ever are being sensitized to a certain ethnic group’s considerable power and privilege by the very fact of jailing a French intellectual on their lobbying organizations’ behalf.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | 2 Comments

Iran’s tango with Europe is rooted in its traditions and culture

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 24, 2019

The joint statement issued by the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom on September 23 indicting Iran for the attacks on the Saudi Aramco plants two weeks ago is at once consequential and declaratory.

The joint statement may seem a serious diplomatic setback for Tehran, as the joint French-German-UK (E3) stance may transform as the European Union position. If that were to happen, only Russia and China, among world powers who are signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, continue to maintain that there isn’t evidence yet to establish Iran’s culpability.

Prima facie, Iran’s dependence on Russian and Chinese goodwill would further increase. Both Moscow and Beijing harbour misgivings about Iran’s nuclear and missile development programmes and some of its regional policies, and have so far played coy refraining from frontally assaulting the US sanctions against Iran, while rhetorically critical. It’s a set pattern.   

Secondly, Iran’s diplomatic thrust projecting itself as a factor of regional stability suffers a PR setback if it is perceived as undermining regional security and risking a major conflict involving the US. Thirdly, the joint statement brings on board other related issues. These are, principally three.

One, the three E3 have repeated their call on Iran “to reverse its decisions to reduce compliance with the deal and to adhere fully to its commitments under it… [and] to cooperate fully with the IAEA.”

Two, the E3 underscored that Iran should “accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear programme as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles programme and other means of delivery.” Three, they have urged Iran to engage in “with all relevant partners interested in de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East” and “refrain from further provocation and escalation.”

Clearly, this is a one-sided statement.  Tehran insists that its compliance with the 2015 deal is part of mutual commitments, but not only the US but also the E3 failed to fulfil their part of the commitments, which in turn compelled Iran to react in accordance with the stipulated provisions of the deal (which allow Tehran to take steps if other parties are defaulting.)

Again, Tehran has also repeatedly stated that its missile programme constitutes a “red line” and it is not open to discussions / negotiations. Suffice to say, the joint statement marks a calibrated distancing from Iran on the part of the European powers.

The joint statement smacks of the “Boris Johnson effect” — London acting as the US’ junior partner. It cannot be a coincidence that Britain pushed for a European stance critical of Iran at a juncture when the US and UK are stepping up efforts to assemble a politico-military coalition to address maritime security in the Persian Gulf (basically, to isolate and provoke Iran in its backyard.)

Britain is considering participation in the US-led military coalition alongside Saudi Arabia and the UAE. France and Germany remain lukewarm about the Anglo-American enterprise.

Having said that, the E3 are also highly vulnerable to pressure from petrodollar states of the Persian Gulf, and in this case Saudi Arabia and UAE have high stakes.

Conceivably, the Trump administration can derive satisfaction that the European stance on the Iran question has edged closer to its policies (although E3 do not subscribe to the maximum pressure approach.)

How Tehran perceives this E3 shift is important. Iran’s diplomacy is supple and Tehran will unlikely deny itself the diplomatic usages of the European conduit.

The point is, Iran greatly values its strategic autonomy and factors in that Russian and Chinese support comes with strings attached. Besides, Iran’s ambitions as a regional power demand the creation of an advanced economy with innovation, which is only possible if it has access to western technology and capital.

Therefore, while the “Look East” and multipolarity of the world order remain key templates of Iran’s world view, that cannot come at the cost of Iran’s integration into the western world.

Arguably, the mildly worded European statement leaves the door open still for further cogitations between France and Iran over the diplomatic negotiations initiated on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz recently.

Just a few hours before releasing the E-3 statement, French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that “one must be very careful in attributing responsibility” for the Aramco attacks.

“There are clusters of clues, but this bombardment is a new military event that changes the region’s ecosystem,” he said, stressing that caution was needed in apportioning blame for the attack. Since then, Macron also has had a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York on September 23.

Given the “westernism” in Iran’s psyche and considering the European powers’ manifest keenness to have a productive relationship with Iran, both Iran and the E3 will ensure that life moves on.

Historically, Britain has a profound understanding of Iran’s politics, culture and traditions and it is hard to see even PM Boris Johnson identifying with US’ maximum pressure approach, although he has taken a position closer to Trump.

For the present, London feels somewhat humiliated over the “tanker war” with Iran, but it cannot be the new normal. Johnson is due to meet Rouhani today and may even be transmitting messages from Trump.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Damascus strongly condemns US-Turkish joint military patrols in northeastern Syria

By Sarah Abed | September 10, 2019

On Sunday, six military vehicles from Akcakale district in southeast Sanliurfa in Turkey, crossed the border into Syria and joined a US military convoy in carrying out joint military ground patrols from Tel Abyad, Al Raqqa governorate to Ras Al Ain, Al Hassaka governorate. Two helicopters flew overhead, and unmanned aerial vehicles were also used according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are leaving areas on Turkey’s border and uprooting fortifications as part of the US-Turkey “safe zone” agreement, which was the result of relentless pressure from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had threatened to unilaterally proceed with his plans if the US dragged its feet. Turkey also threatened to carry out a military operation last month, against Kurdish militias east of the Euphrates, but US officials stopped the operation.

Under the “safe zone” initiative Erdogan wants to establish a “peace corridor” through which he can send back a million of the four to five million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey. Refugees would be forced to resettle in northern Syria on Turkey’s borders to create a buffer zone thereby changing the demographics of the area. It’s worth noting that many of these displaced refugees are not from the northern Syria.

Erdogan has threatened to “open the gates” and allow millions of refugees currently residing in Turkey to flood Europe and specifically Greece, if his requests are not met in Syria. Some have noted that these refugees are not even Syrian and came from dozens of other countries to fight alongside foreign-funded extremist groups in Syria.

Ankara has also been looking into Russian military equipment and threatened to build nuclear weapons.

In a statement made to the Syrian national news agency SANA an official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry stated, “The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms launching joint patrols by the US administration and the Turkish regime in the Syrian al-Jazeera region in a flagrant violation of international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Syria sees this as a form of aggression which is aimed at complicating and prolonging the crisis in Syria and to hinder significant progress made by the Syrian Arab Army against the remaining terrorist groups. Syria absolutely rejects the creation of a “safe zone” and affirms its determination to counter any attempts that put its safety and territorial integrity at risk.

The Syrian government has highlighted previously that Erdogan’s true intentions include “expansionist ambitions” and reviving the Ottoman empire, under the façade of protecting his borders from Kurdish terrorist groups.

In January 2018, Erdogan carried out Operation Olive Branch by invading Afrin and effortlessly defeating the YPG. In a matter of months more than 150,000 Kurds were displaced when they fled to neighboring areas and were replaced with refugees that had fled to Turkey. The demographics were changed and many of the residents who did stay complained about living under harsh extremist conditions enforced by the Turkish-aligned resettled refugees.

At that time, the Kurdish population in Afrin realized that the US will not defend them against an onslaught by NATO ally Turkey and had left them to fend for themselves. The mistake that separatist Kurds have made for the past four years during this war is relying on the United States to save and protect them. Thinking that Washington cares about their independence or political ambitions has put them in several embarrassing situations, including the one they are in now, east of the Euphrates river.

Ultimately, separatist Kurds are responsible for the illegal presence of foreign armed forces from the United States, France, Britain, and coming in at the eleventh hour, Denmark in northern Syria. Had they not turned against the Syrian government and sold their dignity for weaponry, training, and funds from the US led coalition, Turkey would not have had an excuse to invade. This does not take away from the blame that should be placed on all other parties that are impeding the Syrian military progress.

Before the war, Kurdish minorities lived peacefully alongside their fellow Syrian brothers and sisters and many were enlisted in the Syrian army fighting against terrorists. It was only when the United States started backing and providing them with funds, supplies, training, etc. did they turn to treason and treachery. This sort of behavior is not uncommon, Kurds with separatist ambitions have previously been used to create division and instability in the region, including during the Iraq/Iran war. They are closely allied with Israel and have worked with several terrorist groups during the eight-year war in Syria.

The SDF/YPG are seen by Turkey as the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) with whom they have been in conflict for over three decades.

The hostile environment created by the self-declared autonomous Kurdish administration has been rejected by not only the Syrian government and the non-Kurdish Syrian majority in Al Hassaka governorate but by Russia, Iran, and Turkey who’ve issued joint statements declaring their opposition to the autonomous regions set by the Kurdish-led SDF and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in northern Syria saying they “reject… all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism.” On Sunday, Syrians held a massive rally in Deir Ezzor against the US-backed Kurdish militias calling for their expulsion from the area.

Last December, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, separatist Kurds turned to Damascus for talks, but when Washington didn’t follow through with the withdrawal, the talks turned stale. There has been mention that talks are now resuming but as long as the Kurdish militias and their political mouthpieces continue receiving handouts from Western nations and direction from the US/Israel, negotiations will be futile.

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and analyst.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Revisiting Stuxnet: The Israeli-American Computer Virus That Started Cyber-Warfare

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | September 8, 2019

New evidence has surfaced to demonstrate how both American and Israeli intelligence services, aided by European partners, have long been targeting Iran in spite of clear evidence that it constituted no threat. The story involves the Stuxnet virus or “worm,” which was first employed in 2007 and eventually identified and exposed by cybersecurity experts in 2010. It constituted one of the first effective uses of a cyber-weapon, carried out in secret by two countries against a third country with which the two were not at war.

Stuxnet was one of a series of viruses developed by Israel and the United States shortly after the turn of the century to target and disrupt specific operating systems in computers by accessing what are referred to as the programmable logic controllers, which operate and manage machinery, to include the centrifuges that are employed in separating and enriching nuclear material. The systems are accessed through Microsoft Windows operating systems and networks, which in turn provide access to the Siemens software that was in use at the Iranian nuclear research facility at Natanz. The centrifuges themselves could be ordered by the virus to speed up and spin wildly, causing them in many cases to tear themselves apart.

The insertion of Stuxnet in the Iranian computers in 2007 by means of a thumb drive reportedly ruined twenty percent of Iran’s existing centrifuges, more than 1,000 machines, but it also spread and infected several hundred thousand computers using Microsoft and Siemens software and eventually wound up in large numbers of machines outside Iran. Though the Stuxnet virus had been designed with safeguards to prevent its spread, it did eventually infect other computers and propagate worldwide. Its use by its developers was regarded as particularly reckless after it was discovered and identified.

Ironically, two comprehensive studies by the American Government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted in 2007 and 2012 determined that no Iranian nuclear weapons program existed and that Iran had never taken any serious steps to initiate such research. Israel was also aware that there was no program but it was active in planting fabricated information suggesting that a secret facility existed that was engaged in weapon development. It has frequently been observed that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been warning for twenty years that Iran is “six months away” from having an atomic bomb.

Nevertheless, even though the Iranian nuclear threat was known to be a fantasy by 2007 at the latest, the Israeli government, sometimes working in collusion with American intelligence agencies, took steps to interfere with Iran’s existing and completely legal and open to inspection civilian atomic energy program. A multifaceted plan was developed and executed that included using surrogates to identify then kill Iranian scientists and technicians while also developing and introducing viruses into the country’s computer systems. This was in spite of the fact that Iran was fully compliant with international norms on nuclear research and had its facilities regularly inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran was also a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Israel, possessing its own nuclear arsenal consisting of as many as 200 weapons, had refused to sign.

All of the background to Stuxnet has been known for some time, but one mystery remained: how did the virus get introduced into the Natanz computers as the research center was “quarantined” and not connected to the internet so that it could not be attacked from outside? That question has now been answered.

The Dutch external intelligence service AIVD had been approached by the U.S. and Israel in 2004 to provide help in locating a suitable Iranian to be groomed for the project. At that time, Holland had a large expat Iranian community and it was a relatively easy country for Iranian travelers to enter. Eventually, an Iranian engineer was identified, recruited and trained to plant the Stuxnet virus at the Natanz Iranian nuclear research site in 2007, with the objective of sabotaging the uranium enrichment centrifuges in what was to be the first-ever major use of a cyber-weapon.

The actual insertion of the thumb drive was part of a broader operation which began with a thorough debriefing of the engineer, who had previously been a contractor at Natanz, regarding the location of the centrifuges and other hardware within the facility, making it possible to write code that could target the centrifuges and their control systems specifically.

The Israeli-American-Dutch agent/mole, who was responding to an offer of considerable money and resettlement in the West, set up a computer systems maintenance and repair company in Iran that eventually was able to obtain contract work at Natanz. The agent made several visits to the facility to fine-tune his approach to installing the virus prior to actually doing so.

According to the media report, the operation was called the “Olympic Games” after the five-ring Olympian symbol because it wound up including the intelligence agencies of five countries after Germany and France joined in on the effort. It should be noted that Holland, Germany and France all had nominally friendly relations with Iran at the time. Then U.S. President George W. Bush personally approved the attack after his concerns that the virus might escape from Iran and cause a major international crisis were addressed by technical experts.

There were several arrests and executions at Natanz after the virus was discovered and it is not known if the Dutch mole ever collected on his money and the promised resettlement. More recently, Iran entered into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the U.S., the United Nations, Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia in 2015. President Donald Trump withdrew from the arrangement last year for reasons best described a fatuous and, as of now, JCPOA is still in place but under considerable strain from all sides.

One might argue that the continuing Iran nuclear crisis all started with the reckless deployment of Stuxnet, which was based on a flawed assessment, did not have to be done, and was executed for all the wrong reasons, primarily consisting of pressure from Israel on Washington to “do something.” It also demonstrated that cyber-warfare was for real and could do great damage to infrastructure, a genie that has been let out of the bottle and has made the world a much less safe place. It has, in fact, become a global problem that continues to vex politicians and national security experts worldwide.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rights groups call for France to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

A destroyed prison, in which Houthi Ansarullah movement members held its prisoners, is seen after coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia organised an airstrike over it in Dhamar, Yemen on September 01, 2019 [Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency]

A destroyed prison, in which the Ansarullah movement held prisoners, is seen after Saudi led coalition forces organised an airstrike on September 1, 2019
[Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency]
MEMO | September 7, 2019

Some 17 rights groups have renewed their call for France to immediately stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, after a new UN report confirmed their involvement in the killing of civilians in Yemen, Alkhaleejonline.net reported on Friday.

The 17 NGOs renewed their call for France to stop arming Saudi Arabia and the UAE, based on two incidents that took place last week.

“On Sunday, more than 100 inmates were killed in an airstrike in the west of Yemen,” the rights groups affirmed in a statement.

They also claimed that a reported issued by a group of UN experts found that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are carrying out violent attacks against civilian residents in Yemen.

The experts emphasised the importance of the countries selling arms to these two Arab states to stop their sales, in order to inhibit the encouragement of this conflict.

The group of UN experts which was formed in 2017, confirmed that there have been “many war crimes” throughout the year.

September 7, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Macron starts pension rollback despite protests

By Ramin Mazaheri – Press TV – September 6, 2019

Paris – After being forced to delay because of the Yellow Vest anti-austerity movement, French President Emmanuel Macron has begun his right-wing pension reform which is already certain to provoke major protests this month.

Macron is pushing for a one-size-fits-all, universal system, to force workers to pay more and for employers to pay less, and to effectively raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old for many workers.

Every major union except one is opposed to the major change, and a poll this week showed nearly 70% of France has ‘no confidence’ in Macron’s reform. However, Macron has repeatedly ignored public opinion and even bypassed Parliament to force through neoliberal reforms by executive order.

Many say a universal pension system favors the highly educated and is inherently unjust to manual laborers. For example, how can a railway worker who has straightened train tracks in all types of weather since the age of 18 be compared with someone with an upper-level university degree who didn’t start their air-conditioned office job until the age of 26?

As has been the case since 2010, France’s government says the reforms are necessary for investor confidence and that they will eventually bear fruit.

France and the entire Eurozone has already endured a lost decade of economic growth, as their economies remained burdened by debt and compound interest in order to pay off the failures by corporate bankers in the previous decade.

September 6, 2019 Posted by | Economics | | 2 Comments

New U.N. Report Highlights Human Rights Violations and Abuses in Yemen since 2014

By Sarah Abed | September 5, 2019

The second largest sovereign state in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, has been ravaged by war, deliberate starvation, and cholera for over four years. A 274 page U.N. report released on Tuesday, highlights the human rights situation including violations and abuses since September 2014.

According to the report, which took two years to complete, the United States, France, and Britain may be complicit in war crimes for their involvement in the war in Yemen by not only supplying the weapons being used by the Saudi and United Arab Emirate coalitions, but also providing them with intelligence and logistics support.

The report details the findings of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen. It was submitted as a supplement to A/HR/42/17. U.N. investigators are recommending that all states impose a ban on arms transfers to the warring parties in order to prevent them from being used to commit serious violations and war crimes.

“It is clear that the continued supply of weapons to parties to the conflict is perpetuating the conflict and prolonging the suffering of the Yemeni people,” Melissa Parke, an expert on the independent U.N. panel, told a news conference. Parke continued, “That is why we are urging member states to no longer supply weapons to parties to the conflict.”

The report states, “The Group of Experts reiterates that steps required to address the human rights and international law violations in Yemen have been continually discussed, and there can no longer be any excuses made for failure to take meaningful steps to address them. The best way to protect the Yemeni population is to stop the fighting by reaching a political settlement which includes measures for accountability.”

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are two of the largest purchasers of U.S. British and French weapons. These weapons are being used to fight against the homegrown Houthi movement which controls Yemen’s capital. The report states, “The legality of arms transfers by France, the United Kingdom, the United States and other States remains questionable, and is the subject of various domestic court proceedings.”

According to the U.N. report, Saudi and UAE coalitions are killing civilians in air strikes, and deliberately denying them food. The report put blame on all sides of the conflict, saying that no one has clean hands.

Kamel Jendoubi, chairperson of the Group of Experts on Yemen a creation of the U.N. Human Rights Council stated, “Five years into the conflict, violations against Yemeni civilians continue unabated, with total disregard for the plight of the people and a lack of international action to hold parties to the conflict accountable.” He also stated “This endemic impunity—for violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict—cannot be tolerated anymore.” Jendoubi concluded, “Impartial and independent inquiries must be empowered to hold accountable those who disrespect the rights of the Yemeni people. The international community must stop turning a blind eye to these violations and the intolerable humanitarian situation.”

Allegations of torture, rape, and murder of suspected political opponents detained in secret facilities by Emirati and affiliated forces have been received by the U.N. panel.

A secret list was sent by an independent panel to U.N. human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, identifying “individuals who may be responsible for international crimes” the U.N. report states.

In the appendix, was a separate list identifying more than 160 “main actors” among Saudi, Emirati and Yemeni government and Houthi officials.

Concerns have been raised as to the impartiality and legitimacy of a Joint Incidents Assessment Team set up by Saudi Arabia to review alleged coalition violations, after it failed to hold anyone accountable for air strikes that killed civilians.

The U.N. report comes just a few days after a recent airstrike by the Saudi-led military coalition on a detention center in Yemen on Sunday, killed more than 100 people. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the attack may have amounted to a war crime. The coalition said it was targeting a drones and missiles facility but instead they leveled a building being used as a prison, in the city of Dhamar.

“The location that was hit has been visited by ICRC before,” Franz Rauchenstein, its head of delegation for Yemen, told AFP from Dhamar. “It’s a college building that has been empty and has been used as a detention facility for a while.” Rauchenstein continued, “What is most disturbing is that (the attack was) on a prison. To hit such a building is shocking and saddening – prisoners are protected by international law.” The remaining forty survivors are being treated in hospitals in the city south of the capital Sanaa for their injuries.

Last Thursday, airstrikes hit Yemeni government forces heading to Aden a southern port city, to fight UAE backed separatists. At least 30 troops were killed according to a government commander. The UAE has been known to arm and train separatist militias in southern Yemen. For weeks now, a rift between Saudi and UAE proxies has further complicated matters and civilians are paying the price.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers launched a new effort to end the U.S. government’s involvement in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen, shortly after the latest attacks. Lawmakers are also calling on the Senate to not remove an amendment to the annual defense policy legislation which would prohibit the U.S. from cooperating with Saudi airstrikes. Sanders stated, “We must use Congress’s power of the purse to block every nickel of taxpayer money from going to assist the Saudi dictatorship as it bombs and starves civilians in Yemen.”

Unfortunately, even with the release of this new U.N. report, the likelihood that nations perpetrating war crimes against innocent Yemeni civilians will be held accountable is highly unlikely.

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and analyst.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

UN calls out US, UK & France for complicity in Yemen war crimes

RT | September 4, 2019

The UN Human Rights Council slammed the US, UK and France for their complicity in alleged war crimes in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition, warning that abetting such crimes by selling arms or other aid is also illegal.

“States that knowingly aid or assist parties to the conflict in Yemen in the commission of violations would be responsible for complicity in the relevant international humanitarian law violations,” the UNHRC’s Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen declared in a lengthy report published on Tuesday.

“With the number of public reports alleging and often establishing serious violations of international humanitarian law no State can claim not to be aware of such violations being perpetrated in Yemen.”

The 274-page report enumerated possible war crimes committed by both sides in the conflict, including airstrikes and shelling, landmines, “siege-like tactics,” attacks on hospitals and other vital infrastructure, arbitrary arrests and executions, torture, and forced conscription of children into combat. The writers claimed to have forwarded the names of top military and political individuals from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the Houthi movement to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for further investigation and possible prosecution.

The UK and France fall under special scrutiny as signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty, which bars the sale of weapons if a country believes they will be used to commit “mass atrocities.” However, even non-parties to the ATT may face “criminal responsibility for aiding and abetting war crimes” since after five years of fighting “there can no longer be any excuses made for failure to take meaningful steps to address” the humanitarian crisis and international law violations taking place in Yemen.

The UK Court of Appeal ruled in June that the government had “made no attempt” to determine whether Saudi Arabia was using its weapons to violate international law, and while Secretary of State Liam Fox said he would suspend licenses for export to the Saudi coalition, the Department for International Trade said it would appeal the ruling. A rare bipartisan-supported bill to end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia by the US was vetoed in July by President Donald Trump, who complained it would “weaken America’s global competitiveness” and damage relationships with allies. And the French government hid the arms sales from its people entirely, then threatened the journalists who exposed the sales with arrest for publishing confidential information.

The UNHRC report also provided an update on the shocking scale of the humanitarian crisis, revealing that nearly a quarter of the Yemeni population was malnourished at the start of 2019, according to the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, with 230 of 333 districts at risk of famine and 24.1 million people in need of assistance merely to survive.

Also on rt.com:

‘Comical & tragic’ when US officials say arms sales to Saudis are about ‘exporting human rights’

September 4, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moratorium on US oil sanctions to open talks with Iran

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 2, 2019

The diplomatic manoeuvrings over the situation around Iran are entering a crucial phase with an Iranian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi leaving from Tehran for Paris today to pick up the threads of the 3-way discussions involving France, Iran and the United States at Biarritz a week ago on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

Araqchi is Iran’s chief negotiator with the E3 — France, UK and Germany — on the nuclear issue. Interestingly, Araqchi openly acknowledged on Saturday that the US has “shown some flexibility on the licensing of Iranian oil sales.”

The formula that was tossed around in Biarritz that the US will not oppose income being generated for Iran through oil sales is being finessed and linked to the working of the European Union’s trade mechanism for legitimate trade with Iran known as INSTEX. In essence, the formula is based on the French proposal of “freeze for freeze” — US freezing oil sanctions against Iran while Iran will freeze its steady pullback from the JCPOA commitments.

Araqchi said Iran and its European partners in the nuclear deal faced “difficult and complex” talks towards salvaging the pact. But a note of cautious optimism is apparent in Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s remark in Tehran following a meeting of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee at the Iranian parliament on Sunday afternoon that Iran may review the decision to further reduce JCPOA commitments if the European countries take action on INSTEX to live up to their own obligations. Tehran expects the Europeans to take a final decision by Thursday.

In the above backdrop, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani telephoned French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday to convey Tehran’s interest in resuming the discussions under the latter’s mediation. Macron welcomed the move. Rouhani also assured Macron that Iran is supportive of a political settlement in Yemen and is willing to guarantee the security of the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

Perhaps, in an indirect alert to the US President Trump, Rouhani conveyed to Macron Iran’s misgivings that Israel is pulling all stops to derail the current negotiations which are at a delicate stage. Rouhani specifically referred to the Israeli attempt to provoke a flare-up involving Iran somehow, as evident in its recent air attacks on Lebanon, Syria and Iraq successively. The Hezbollah retaliated on Sunday by attacking Israel’s military vehicles, leaving a number of Israeli forces reportedly dead or injured.

In a sure sign that a broad settlement of the situation around Iran is under discussion, Zarif has travelled to Moscow with a high-level delegation aimed at coordinating the Iranian and Russian positions. Iran’s special envoys for Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria are accompanying him. (Interestingly, Zarif referred to “serious developments” in Afghanistan, hinting at imminent US-Taliban deal this week.) Indeed, Iran is across the board addressing the western disquiet over Iran’s role in the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. Tehran’s diplomatic priority will be to underscore that it can be a factor of regional security and stability.

From all appearance, Macron is steering the negotiations along three parallel tracks: a) forestall any precipitate crisis in the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal by enabling Tehran to generate income out of oil sales that helps alleviate the hardships in the Iranian economy; b) persuade the Trump administration to concede Iran’s prerogative to resume trade relations with Europe and generate income through oil sales; and, c) defuse and de-escalate the various ‘hotspots’ in the Middle East where Iran’s role is regarded as critical — principally, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan.

A convergence of the three tracks can be expected to lead to a new understanding between Tehran and Washington, possibly even a near-future summit involving the US and Iranian presidents. The clock is ticking and there is urgency to generate momentum for Macron’s efforts, as Trump and Rouhani are due to attend the UN General Assembly in September. A meeting is entirely conceivable as things stand.

Indeed, a deeply troubled relationship such as the Iranian-American is bedeviled with a lot of signalling and grandstanding, especially on the part of Tehran where Rouhani has to overcome significant resistance to the very idea of engaging with the US. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has not said a word so far on Zarif’s visit to Biarritz or the 3-way France-Iran-US discussions under way. Tehran keeps repeating the demand on the lifting of the US sanctions as a pre-requisite for a face-to-face meeting between Rouhani and Trump.

However, it is possible to discern that Tehran is open to negotiations without preconditions and to strive for a meaningful breakthrough by optimally resorting to creative and flexible diplomacy. This flexibility factors in the assessment that Washington too is in a chastened mood.

Trump will not brook disruption by “hardliners”. Several Israeli attempts to have a phone conversation between PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump at Biarritz failed to materialise. Trump understands that all attempts by the US to create an international coalition against Iran have failed.

The law of diminishing returns is at work. The maximum pressure strategy against Iran is opening the window for an unprecedented expansion of Russian and Chinese influence in Tehran which may damage American regional interests in the long-term. The planned first-ever naval exercises between Iran and Russia in the Persian Gulf has rattled the US.

All in all, we may expect a moratorium on US oil sanctions in exchange for Iran’s compliance with its JCPOA obligations, which would be followed by direct negotiations for a historic thaw in the US-Iran relations.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Washington’s Nord Stream 2 Sanctions May Have Boomerang Effect on US Interests – German Media Reports

By Svetlana Ekimenko – Sputnik – 27.08.2019

The US Congress has moved forward with legislation to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in defiance of criticism from Washington’s allies in Europe, as the joint venture brings together Russia’s Gazprom, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.

Possible US sanctions against companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline could potentially harm US oil and gas projects in the Gulf of Mexico, writes the German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

“From the point of view of Germany, the name of the US proposed sanctions bill, ‘Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act’, is in itself an insolence”, writes the author.

The US is pushing to impose sanctions against Nord Stream 2 despite likely consequences that such restrictions may have.

Thus, European companies involved in laying the pipeline and targeted by Washington’s sanctions play a key role in the global energy market.

For a long time, these companies worked in the Gulf of Mexico as subcontractors of the American corporations Chevron and Exxon Mobil, recalls Handelsblatt.

Therefore, if they are included in the sanctions lists, projects in the Gulf of Mexico will be disrupted, since it is impossible to quickly replace such highly specialised firms.

Overall, the US economy views the proposed sanctions against Nord Stream 2 critically, the author points out. Such restrictions would also be likely to harm US gas exporters, prompting European buyers to reduce LNG imports from the United States and increase supplies from other countries.

Proposed US Sanctions on Nord Stream 2

The Nord Stream 2 project has long drawn opposition from a number of countries, with the United States, which is trying to sell more of its own liquefied natural gas to overseas allies, insisting that the project will make Europe dependent on Moscow – claims that Russia has repeatedly rebuffed.

Moscow has insisted that the pipeline project is strictly commercial, ultimately seeking to boost Europe’s energy security.

Nevertheless, in early August, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill on sanctions against companies providing vessels for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

The document prohibits entry into the US for anyone involved in the “sale, lease, provision or assistance in providing” ships for laying Russian offshore pipelines at a depth of 30 metres or more, as well as the freezing of their assets in US jurisdiction.

Companies from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Finland, and Sweden may fall under the sanctions.

The project is being implemented by Nord Stream 2 AG, with Gazprom investing half of the funds, and the remainder being contributed by European partners: Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.

Germany has been strongly behind Nord Stream 2, emphasizing the commercial focus of the project.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she supported the BDI’s (Federation of German Industries) stance that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for delivering Russian natural gas to Europe is necessary given the German initiative to stop using nuclear and coal energy.

Austria, which is interested in reliable supplies of fuel, and Norway, whose government owns 30 percent of the shares of Kvaerner, one of the gas pipeline construction contractors, also spoke in favor of the project.

Nord Stream 2 Project

The 745-mile-long (1,200 km) Nord Stream 2 twin pipeline is set to run from Russia to Germany through the territorial waters or exclusive economic zones of Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, and Sweden to deliver Russian gas to European consumers.

The completed project will double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline network, allowing a total of up to 110 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas to be transported to Western Europe via pipelines at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

According to a statement made by project operator Nord Stream 2 AG on 26 August, the pipeline is 75 percent complete.

August 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment