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Is Canada Huawei Arrest Attempt to Sabotage Trump Xi Talks?

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 19.12.2018

The arrest of the CFO of the China’s largest telecoms equipment company, Huawei, carries hallmarks of deep state or behind-the-scenes sabotage designed to rupture recent progress between US President Trump and China President Xi Jinping on strategic issues. Here are some elements of the case that smack of insider sabotage from the US side, with complicity of Five Eyes member Canada.

After months of trade tariff clashes between USA and China, US President Donald Trump met with China President Xi Jinping during the Buenos Aires G-20 Summit. There the two issued a positive joint statement in which it was stated that the US on January 1 will impose a “cease-fire” and freeze current tariffs at 10% on the $200 billion of Chinese imports to the US, not raising it to 25% as scheduled. For his part, Xi agreed to resume buying US soybeans and other agriculture and energy products to cut the trade imbalance. Most interesting and little-discussed in western media coverage, on the US request, Xi also agreed to list the controversial chemical Fentanyl as a Controlled Substance, meaning that people selling Fentanyl to the United States will be subject to China’s maximum penalty under the law.

As well, they agreed to immediately begin negotiations on key US issues including forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture to be completed within 90 days or face resumption of the planned 25% tariff raise.

The offer by Xi to control Fentanyl, one of the most deadly synthetic drugs that has caused tens of thousands of deaths in the USA, was notable. According to U.S. law enforcement and drug investigators, China is the main supplier of fentanyl to the United States. There criminal organizations mix the Fentanyl powder with heroin. Also according to the US DEA, China companies ship Fentanyl to key points in Canada and Mexico. From Mexico it is usually repackaged by the Mexican drug cartels and smuggled into the US.

Canada Surprise?

In other words China had agreed to open strategic issues in bilateral relations that could have major positive implications for resolving the trade conflicts and other issues not public. On December 5 in Vancouver Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO and board member of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. She is also daughter of the founder and CEO.

The arrest, reportedly on charges of illegal activities in regard to US sanctions on Iran, is unprecedented. In August the US President signed an order banning Huawei hardware in US government communications networks on grounds of national security. Huawei is at the heart of China’s vigorous effort to dominate the emerging 5G communications networks. The company is today the world’s second largest smartphone maker after Samsung and ahead of Apple and the world’s largest manufacturer of telecom network equipment with $92 billion in sales. US President Trump in August authorized a ban on the company’s hardware in US government networks, citing national security concerns – particularly in relation to the rollout of 5G networks.

That there have been growing conflicts between China and Washington over Huawei is clear. What is bizarre about the Canadian arrest of Meng, now on bail and awaiting extradition to the US, is the fact that it took place on the same day Trump and Xi in Buenos Aires were engaged in critical trade talks. According to Trump National Security adviser, John Bolton, the President was not informed beforehand of the Canadian arrest plan.

Whatever the case with many charges of hidden espionage devices embedded in Huawei technology, or Iran sanctions violations, the Canadian arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou is having explosive consequences inside China. The CCP People’s Daily, in an editorial, wrote on December 9, “To treat a Chinese citizen like a serious criminal, to roughly trample their basic human rights, and to dishonor their dignity, how is this the method of a civilized country? How can this not make people furious?”

In an unusual step, in the midst of the fray, Donald Trump announced that if necessary to conclude positive China trade talks, he would be ready to intervene with the US Justice Department into the controversy. On December 12 in a Reuters interview Trump stated, “Whatever’s good for this country, I would do. If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

Beijing Response

So far there are more unanswered questions than answers. However, it appears that Beijing is being extremely careful not to allow the affront–ordinarily a huge face loss for the Chinese to have one of their national champion company senior people treated so–to disrupt relations with the Trump Administration. Rather than retaliate by going after the many top US executives in China, it arrested a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing on suspicion of “endangering national security,” as well as a Canadian entrepreneur with business ties to North Korea.

The connections of that former Canadian diplomat are more than interesting.

Michael Kovrig previously worked as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong and the United Nations. Chinese national security police took him into custody on December 10 in Beijing. Kovrig is officially listed as “North East Asia adviser” for something called the International Crisis Group. 

The International Crisis Group is an NGO with a knack for being involved in key conflict zones such as Myanmar. The magazine Third World Quarterly in a peer-reviewed article in 2014 accused the ICG of “manufacturing” crises.

It was founded by Trump nemesis and Hillary Clinton supporter, George Soros. The Trustees of Kovrig’s employer, the International Crisis Group, include some very notable names. One is of course founder and funder, George Soros. Another trustee is a Canadian billionaire, Frank Guistra. Make a note of the name as it is likely to appear in the news in coming weeks as details emerge of FBI and other US investigations into illegal or shady dealings of the tax-exempt Clinton Foundation. Frank Giustra President & CEO, Fiore Financial Corporation, is a big donor to the Clinton Foundation where he also sits on the board.

His Giustra Foundation works with Elevate Social Businesses, formerly Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, the International Crisis Group, Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, and other partners. Guistra’s UrAsia Energy Ltd. appears in the investigation of the infamous Uranium One scandal during Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State, which some believe is the real “Russiagate” scandal. Soon we will know more as litigation in the US proceeds.

In sum, it appears that Xi Jinping has chosen a highly interesting target for retaliation in the Canadian arrest of Huawei’s CFO. To date it appears that, if it were the aim of certain dark networks in US and Canadian governments and intelligence to sabotage any constructive USA-China dialogue by the unprecedented arrest of the Huawei senior executive, it may have backfired. The next weeks will tell more.

December 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overthrowing the Syrian Government: a Joint Criminal Enterprise

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC By 2.0

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC By 2.0
By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | October 4, 2016

Everyone claims to want to end the war in Syria and restore peace to the Middle East.

Well, almost everyone.

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York told the New York Times in June 2013. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here.”

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, stressed the same points in August 2016:

“The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction… Allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys… Moreover, instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change… The American administration does not appear capable of recognizing the fact that IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East.”

Okay, not exactly everyone.

But surely the humanitarian website Avaaz wants to end the war and restore peace.

Or does it?

Avaaz is currently circulating a petition which has gathered over a million signatures and is aiming at a million and a half. It is likely to get them, with words like this:

“100 children have been killed in Aleppo since last Friday.

“Enough is enough!”

Avaaz goes on to declare: “There is no easy way to end this war, but there’s only one way to prevent this terror from the skies — people everywhere demanding a no-fly zone to protect civilians.”

No-fly zone? Doesn’t that sound familiar? That was the ploy that served to destroy Libya’s air defenses and opened the country to regime change in 2011. It was promoted zealously by Hillary Clinton, who is also on record as favoring the same gambit in Syria.

And when the West says “no-fly”, it means that some can fly and others cannot. With the no-fly zone in Libya, France, Britain and the United States flew all they wanted, killing countless civilians, destroying infrastructure and allowing Islamic rebels to help themselves to part of the country.

The Avaaz petition makes the same distinction. Some should fly and others should not.

“Let’s build a resounding global call to Obama and other leaders to stand up to Putin and Assad’s terror. This might be our last, best chance to help end this mass murder of defenseless children. Add your name.”

So it’s all about mass murder of defenseless children, and to stop it, we should call on the drone king, Obama, to end “terror from the skies”.

Not only Obama, but other “good” leaders, members of NATO:

“To President Obama, President Erdogan, President Hollande, PM May, and other world leaders: As citizens around the globe horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Syria, we call on you to enforce an air-exclusion zone in Northern Syria, including Aleppo, to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.”

The timing of this petition is eloquent. It comes exactly when the Syrian government is pushing to end the war by reconquering the eastern part of Aleppo. It is part of the massive current propaganda campaign to reduce public consciousness of the Syrian war to two factors: child victims and humanitarian aid.

In this view, the rebels disappear. So do all their foreign backers, the Saudi money, the Wahhabi fanatics, the ISIS recruits from all over the world, the U.S. arms and French support. The war is only about the strange whim of a “dictator”, who amuses himself by bombing helpless children and blocking humanitarian aid. This view reduces the five-year war in Syria to the situation as it was portrayed in Libya, to justify the no-fly zone: nothing but a wicked dictator bombing his own people.

For the public that likes to consume world events in fairy tale form, this all fits together. Sign a petition on your computer and save the children.

The Avaaz petition does not aim to end the war and restore peace. It clearly aims to obstruct the Syrian government offensive to retake Aleppo. The Syrian army has undergone heavy losses in five years of war, its potential recruits have in effect been invited to avoid dangerous military service by going to Germany. Syria needs air power to reduce its own casualties. The Avaaz petition calls for crippling the Syrian offensive and thus taking the side of the rebels.

Wait – but does that mean they want the rebels to win? Not exactly. The only rebels conceivably strong enough to win are ISIS. Nobody really wants that.

The plain fact is that to end this war, as to end most wars, one side has to come out on top. When it is clear who is the winning side, then there can be fruitful negotiations for things like amnesty. But this war cannot be “ended by negotiations”. That is an outcome that the United States might support only if Washington could use negotiations to impose its own puppets – pardon, pro-democracy exiles living in the West. But as things stand, they would be rejected as traitors by the majority of Syrians who support the government and as apostates by the rebels. So one side has to win to end this war. The least worst outcome would be that the Assad government defeats the rebels, in order to preserve the state. For that, the Syrian armed forces need to retake the eastern part of Aleppo occupied by rebels.

The job of Avaaz is to get public opinion to oppose this military operation, by portraying it as nothing but a joint Russian-Syrian effort to murder civilians, especially children. For that, they call for a NATO military operation to shoot down (that’s what “no-fly” means) Syrian and Russian planes offering air support to the Syrian army offensive.

Even such drastic measures do not aim to end the war. They mean weakening the winning side to prevent it from winning. To prolong a stalemate. It means – to use the absurd expression popular during the Bosnian war – creating an “even playing field”, as if war were a sports event. It means keeping the war going on and on until nothing is left of Syria, and what is left of the Syrian population fills up refugee camps in Europe.

As the New York Times reported from Jerusalem in September 2013, “The synergy between the Israeli and American positions, while not explicitly articulated by the leaders of either country, could be a critical source of support as Mr. Obama seeks Congressional approval for surgical strikes in Syria.” It added that “Israel’s national security concerns have broad, bipartisan support in Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington, weighed in Tuesday in support of Mr. Obama’s approach.” (This was when Obama was planning to “punish President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons without seeking to force him from power” – before Obama decided to join Russia in disarming the Syrian chemical arsenal instead, a decision for which he continues to be condemned by the pro-Israel lobby and the War Party.) AIPAC’s statement “said nothing, however, about the preferred outcome of the civil war…”

Indeed. As the 2013 report from Jerusalem continued, “as hopes have dimmed for the emergence of a moderate, secular rebel force that might forge democratic change and even constructive dialogue, with Israel, a third approach has gained traction: Let the bad guys burn themselves out. ‘The perpetuation of the conflict is absolutely serving Israel’s interest,’ said Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group.”

The plain truth is that Syria is the victim of a long-planned Joint Criminal Enterprise to destroy the last independent secular Arab nationalist state in the Middle East, following the destruction of Iraq in 2003. While attributed to government repression of “peaceful protests” in 2011, the armed uprising had been planned for years and was supported by outside powers: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and France, among others. The French motives remain mysterious, unless linked to those of Israel, which sees the destruction of Syria as a means to weaken its arch rival in the region, Iran. Saudi Arabia has similar intentions to weaken Iran, but with religious motives. Turkey, the former imperial power in the region, has territorial and political ambitions of its own. Carving up Syria can satisfy all of them.

This blatant and perfectly open conspiracy to destroy Syria is a major international crime, and the above-mentioned States are co-conspirators. They are joined in this Joint Criminal Enterprise by ostensibly “humanitarian” organizations like Avaaz that spread war propaganda in the guise of protecting children. This works because most Americans just can’t believe that their government would do such things. Because normal ordinary people have good intentions and hate to see children killed, they imagine that their government must be the same. It is hard to overcome this comforting faith. It is more natural to believe that the criminals are wicked people in a country about which they really understand nothing.

There is no chance that this criminal enterprise will ever arouse the attention of the prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, which like most major international organizations is totally under U.S. control. For example, the United Nations Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, who analyses and frames political issue for the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, is an American diplomat, Jeffrey Feltman, who was a key member of Hillary Clinton’s team when she was carrying out regime change in Libya. And accomplices in this criminal enterprise include all the pro-governmental “non-governmental” organizations such as Avaaz who push hypocrisy to new lengths by exploiting compassion for children in order to justify and perpetuate this major crime against humanity and against peace in the world.

Johnstone-Queen-Cover-ak800--291x450Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

October 4, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Soros Looks to Co-Own Ukraine

By Alex Freeman • TFC • March 30, 2015

Vienna, Austria – Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros has proposed a $1 Billion contribution of a combined $50 Billion investment package in the Ukraine in order to form an economic barrier to Russia’s entry to the war torn nation.  In an interview with an Austrian newspaper, Soros said, “The West can help Ukraine by increasing attractiveness for investors.”  The Hungarian-born economic hitman may be more interested in helping his, and other investor’s, pockets, rather than the people of Ukraine. The speculation here could undermine any truly democratic action in Ukraine.  By using low EU Central Bank interest rates to achieve his investments, Soros’s plans begin to bear marked similarities to speculations that destroyed the British Pound and took severe tolls in places like Argentina.

The business model is nothing new for Soros, who has engaged in similar investment projects in West Africa.  He continues, “There are concrete investment ideas, for example in agriculture and infrastructure projects. I would put in $1 billion. This must generate a profit. My foundation would benefit from this … Private engagement needs strong political leadership.”  In Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda and others, Soros has leveraged his political connections to protect his business interests in those nations.  Revenue Watch International, a Soros firm, assisted Uganda in the development of its fossil fuel drilling regulations.  Open Society Institute, another Soros Non-Governmental Organization, has recently been responsible for setting up and later overthrowing presidents of Senegal and Congo.  Soros maintains significant oil, gold and diamond drilling operations in these nations.  The International Crisis Group, yet another Soros NGO, has repeatedly advised the US Government to provide American military intervention in these fragile societies heavy in natural resources.

The profits would certainly roll in for the relentless investor.  Soros Fund Management, LLC maintains ownership of large share percentages in key corporations that will benefit from investment in Ukraine. Soros owns over 5 million shares of the chemical giant Dow Chemicals, with diversified products and services from industrial to agricultural applications.  Another big agricultural winner would be Monsanto.  Soros owns half a million shares of the bio-tech firm, which has been a part of most Ukraine political discussions since the civil conflict broke out two years ago.  Ukraine has vast supplies of oil and natural gas.  Energen, a natural gas utility, could be a prime developer of Ukraine’s fossil fuel reserves.  Soros owns nearly two million shares of that company. PDC Energy, with one million shares owned, might be another contender for drilling profits.  Soros also owns significant stakes of Citigroup, which stands to be a primary financial intermediary for any investment in Ukraine.

Soros’ investment strategy is not restricted to diversified holdings of major national and international corporations or mutual funds.  A significant tactic is the investment in supportive elements within the US government.  In 2014, Soros ranked 11th on OpenSecrets.org list of “Top Individual Contributors.”  His nearly $4 Million open investment (contributions sourced directly to him and not channeled through 501c4 “dark money” organizations) could potentially amount to $400 Million dollars in returns, if not more.  The Carmen Group, for instance, a lobbying company in Washington, has claimed that for every dollar invested in lobbying, their clients receive $100 in return.  RepresentUs, a campaign finance reform advocacy group, has measured similar extensive gains for political contributions and lobbying expenditures.

United Republic Infographic for Return on Lobbying Investment

United Republic Infographic for Return on Lobbying Investment

If Soros senses a $100 Billion profit, diversified through a number of companies he holds stakes in, he will not mind selling other countries, individual investors, or the IMF to provide the remainder of the $50 Billion total investment he thinks Ukraine needs.  In fact, this was probably a major conversation topic this year at the Davos World Economic Forum meeting.  The majority of these banks and corporations, however, will mine the profits from Ukraine, exporting them to other Western nations.   Meanwhile, these corporations will burden Ukraine with significant loans, even if the rates are near zero.  Even though these practices have devastated countries like Greece and Argentina, as long as the profits keep rolling in, the investments will continue.

April 2, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whitewashing Venezuela’s Right Wing

In the heated media war over Venezuela, studies produced by well-funded NGOs (usually with ties to powerful states) have been regularly cited by the western corporate media to paint a grim picture of the country.

A Venezuela report released by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in May might give some people the impression that it is an even handed account done by authors committed to decreasing political violence in Venezuela.  The report makes a few good recommendations, but it actually reveals that the ICG’s commitment to whitewashing right wing extremists is much stronger than any commitment to sensible analysis or to reducing political violence.

In the crucial section of the report where it discusses protest related violence, the ICG claims that there is only “weak evidence” that any opposition supporters ever used firearms:

In contrast to the abundant evidence linking security forces and pro-government civilians to deaths and injuries, it is unclear whether some in the opposition used firearms. In any case, the evidence on this is weak. The only deaths that appear clearly linked to the protesters are those involving accidents caused by barricades, including the use of barbed wire or other obstacles.

As far as the ICG is concerned, the bodies of several police and other pro government people shot to death while attempting to clear barricades in opposition strongholds are “weak evidence” of firearm use by anyone in the opposition.  It might be argued that “concrete proof” of the exact individuals who shot every one of those victims is lacking. However saying that anti-government protesters are not very strongly implicated in the shootings of any government supporters or police is beyond preposterous.

In an attempt to make the evidence appear weak, the ICG mentions one incident in which a journalist working for a right wing business newspaper, El Universal, claims that a government supporter shot and killed a policeman at an opposition barricade. This kind of counter claim had also been made by government officials about some opposition protesters who have been shot (some government officials claiming the shots were fired by other opposition people), but the ICG wouldn’t dare use these claims to conclude that there is only “weak evidence” that government supporters had ever used firearms. In fact, the ICG discusses the death of opposition protester Génesis Carmona without ever mentioning government claims that she had been shot by another protester.  Such inconsistent and biased standards for assessing evidence cannot possibly lead to a reliable version of events.

In addition to various opposition aligned sources, the ICG defers to the New York City based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to assess responsibility for violence. HRW was very recently sent a letter signed by two Nobel Peace Prize laureates Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire; former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans von Sponeck; current UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Richard Falk; and over 100 scholars all requesting that it take steps to close the revolving door between it and the US government. The letter noted:

In a 2012 letter to President Chávez, HRW criticized the country’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, alleging that Venezuela had fallen “far short of acceptable standards” and questioning its “ability to serve as a credible voice on human rights.” At no point has U.S. membership in the same council merited censure from HRW, despite Washington’s secret, global assassination program, its preservation of renditions, and its illegal detention of individuals at Guantánamo Bay.

Ken Roth, head of HRW, once referred to Venezuela and a few other ALBA countries as the “most abusive” in Latin America – an insane remark as he should know by merely sampling his own organization’s reports about Colombia. Daniel Wilkinson, another HRW official, went so far as to lie about the Venezuelan TV media in an op-ed published in the New York Review of Books. HRW’s responses to the 2002 coup in Venezuela and as well as the 2004 coup in Haiti were disgraceful.  By now, anyone who uncritically cites HRW about any country at odds with the US is, at best, uninformed about HRW’s track record.

The ICG’s report makes no mention of numerous falsified images the opposition has spread through social media to bolster its allegations of repression. Even a corporate outlet like Reuters made mention of this tactic but the ICG ignored it. The ICG also cites the anti-government newspaper El National various times – a newspaper whose dishonesty is so flagrant it has sometimes dismayed opposition people. An atrocious record doesn’t “weaken” El Nacional articles as evidence in the view of the ICG or provoke any statement of caution.

Attempts to put the 2004 recall referendum results under a cloud

The ICG report made the astounding remark that the opposition merely lacked “concrete proof” of fraud in the 2004 recall referendum that was won by Hugo Chavez.  The report stated:

Concrete proof [of fraud] was not presented, though a peer-reviewed statistical analysis of the results later found significant anomalies. Maria M. Febres and Bernardo Márquez, “A Statistical Approach to Assess Referendum Results: The Venezuelan Recall Referendum 2004”, International Statistical Review, vol. 74, no. 3 (2006), p. 379. Jennifer McCoy, Carter Center election observation head in Venezuela, found the anomalies had not affected the referendum outcome.

In fact, elaborate statistical arguments – one of them based on “anomalies” in the distribution of votes – were made immediately after the referendum took place, not years later as the ICG implies. The Carter Center hired a team of very specialized statisticians – not simply Jennifer McCoy as the ICG very sloppily suggests – whose only job was to assess those arguments.  The statisticians explained why the arguments did not substantiate allegations of fraud. The oppositions’ various “statistical analyses” received expert scrutiny that decided something far more important than acceptability for publication (which is what peer-review committees decide for journals) and that required extensive review of the arguments made by both sides. One of the key points made by the Carter Center’s statisticians was that there was no credible explanation how the government could have perpetrated fraud such that the random audit of the results would have failed to expose it.

The government’s victory in the 2004 referendum was subjected to a remarkably severe test. One of the key monitors, the Carter Center, is deeply tied to the US establishment which has been very hostile to Chavista administrations.  In spite of all that, the ICG still pretends that there is reasonable doubt about the results. That will encourage the members of the opposition who allege that Chavista victories are stolen no matter how overwhelming the evidence is against them.

It’s unsurprising, given the ICG’s willingness to smear the 2004 referendum which was very far from close, that it also published a hopelessly one-sided account of the dispute surrounding the vastly closer presidential election of April 2013. The ICG absolved the opposition in advance for any act of violence by stating that the government must “clarify” the validity of the results or face “violent consequences”.  In reality, the Election Day audit of the results, as CEPR has reported, already proved that the odds of a Capriles victory were less than one in 25 thousand trillion. The audit was, nevertheless, expanded.

It is quite clear to anyone who has been paying attention that opposition claims of electoral fraud are not driven by the facts but by the level of support they expect from the US government, foreign media and groups like the ICG.

Speaking the opposition’s language

In section IX of the report the ICG contrasts the “left leaning regimes” of the Bolivarian Alliance for our America (ALBA) with “those representing more market-friendly, centre and right-leaning governments”. On the left the ICG describes “regimes” while elsewhere on the political spectrum it describes “governments”.

Some political scientists use the word “regime” in a neutral way, but it is most commonly used to describe an oppressive and undemocratic government.  I can find no example of the ICG ever referring to US government as a “regime” despite its abysmal human rights record and money-dominated political process. However it is very easy to find ICG reports replete with the word “regime” to describe states that the US government opposes.

The ICG also adopts the use of the word “coletivo” to mean an armed government supporter. It acknowledges that this is highly partisan usage by noting that it “is a term that covers pro-government community organisations of various kinds, most of them non-violent. But it has come to be used in particular for armed groups of the revolutionary left that have proliferated under chavista governments.”

In short, the opposition media (whom the ICG attempts to hide through the use of passive voice “has come to be used”) has demonized the word “colectivo” and the ICG reflexively follows suit.

Tamara Pearson, a proud colectivo member who has been living and working in Venezuela for several years, remarked about the media vilification campaign:

Where previously everything, even the drought or the actions of big business, were Chavez’s fault, now it must be “the collectives”. Now that Chavez is gone and the opposition still hasn’t got its electoral victory, they have realised it’s not enough to call the current president a “dictator” and belittle him because of his lack of formal university education, they need to demonise the active and organising people too. Because they aren’t going away.

A few good suggestions completely undermined

The ICG said that “the opposition can, and should, drop calls for the Maduro administration to step down “. This is a  sound suggestion, no doubt, but one that is hypocritical and ineffective coming from the ICG. Whitewashing opposition violence and impugning clean elections, as the ICG does, is a propaganda gift to the “regime change” crowd.

The ICG recommends that Venezuela’s “international partners” should “help de-escalate the violence by sending clear messages that only peaceful methods will be tolerated.” UNASUR, and even the OAS which has traditionally towed Washington’s line, have already sent that message. The ICG is sending the opposite message.

Written for teleSUR English, which will launch on July 24

July 8, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mali coup leader seeks foreign help against advancing rebels

Press TV – March 31, 2012

Facing strong international criticism for toppling the legitimate government of Mali, the leader of the recent coup d’état in the African country has called for foreign help.

The plea comes hours after Tuareg separatist rebels entered the strategic town of Kidal, 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the capital.

Speaking to the media outlets at a military barrack, which has now become the junta’s headquarters, the leader of the coup, Amadou Haya Sanogo, claimed, “Our army needs the help of Mali’s friends to save the civilian population and Mali’s territorial integrity.”

The coup junta is likely to face potential risk of being frozen out by the country’s foreign allies as the neighboring countries have threatened to impose possible economic sanctions on the landlocked country.

On March 22, renegade Malian soldiers led by Amadou Haya Sanogo toppled Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup and took control of government institutions.

The coup leaders said they mounted the coup out of anger at the government’s inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in north of the country.

Mali has been scene of rebellion by some separatist elements, namely Tuareg fighters in the north of the country, fighting the government to, in their terms “protect and progressively re-occupy the Azawad territory.”

Azawad is the tuareg name for the northern region of the country, covering the areas of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao.

The coup drew international condemnation. The African Union, the ECOWAS, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the International Crisis Group, and the United Nations have all denounced the military takeover of the government in the West African country.

March 31, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Veteran US Diplomat Questions Syria Storyline

By Sharmine Narwani | Al Akhbar | 2012-02-10

The problem with US policy in the Middle East is that it now operates almost entirely at the political level: gone are the days when area experts were the heavyweights in the command center, weaving historical context, relationships and nuance into vital policy decisions.

Today you are more likely to have single-issue interest groups, commercial projects and election cycles impact key deliberations. It’s a short-term view: tactical more than strategic and black and white in its approach. Like a high-octane marketing campaign, it is heavily focused on key phrases, scene-setting, and narrative building.

The spotlight on Syria in recent weeks has been intense and the propaganda has been incessant: Regime massacres in Homs, evil Russia and China, a benevolent UN Security Council trying to save Syria, 1982’s Hama slaughter resuscitated, and an American ambassador left “disgusted” at the gall of others using veto power.

But take the hysteria down a notch or two, bring the debate back into the hands of measured, experienced observers, and the storyline may be tangibly different. Over the weekend, I had the privilege of receiving an email that reminded me of a time when area experts at the US State Department delivered honest assessments of events so that wiser decisions could be taken.

The missive was from a former US diplomat with service experience in Syria who has asked to remain unnamed. I am publishing the email below in its entirety for the benefit of readers:

I have serious problems with all the talk about military intervention in Syria. Everyone, especially the media, seems to be relying solely on anti-regime activists for their information. How do we know 260 people were killed by the regime in Homs yesterday? That number seems based solely on claims by anti-regime figures and I seriously doubt its accuracy.

I served over three years in Damascus at the US Embassy and I know how difficult it is to sort fact from rumor in that closed political society. We were constantly trying to verify rumors that we had heard about assassinations, regime arrests, etc., and that included the Agency, which was just as much in the dark as everyone else. Today, we have a skeleton embassy which I am sure is under constant surveillance and with very few personnel to go out and report on what is happening. When I was in Damascus over two years ago, I was less than impressed with the Embassy’s sources and with its understanding of the dynamics of what was going on Syria. And the same is true when I talk to officials at the State Department.

The media, and to an extent the Administration, have personalized the conflict in Syria as being about Bashar Assad and his family. They have consistently underestimated the sectarian nature of the conflict there. It is not just Bashar Assad and his family that are hanging onto power at all costs, it is the entire Alawi system of control of the country, including the military, the security services and the Baath Party. I believe that Alawites firmly think that if they lose power, the Sunnis will slaughter them, That was one reason Hafez and his brother Rifaat were so ruthless in Hama thirty years ago. And everyone in the West conveniently forgets the campaign of assassinations and suicide bombings carried out in the three or four years before Hama by the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the country. I personally witnessed the aftermath of such bombings in which several hundred people were killed. While the State Department, the CIA and other organs of government may have short historical memories, the people in Syria do not.

There have been few good analyses of the conflict in Syria. With the exception of the journalist Nir Rosen and the International Crisis Group, most reporting has been superficial and biased in favor of opponents of the regime. This is no basis on which to base policy, especially if officials in Washington are contemplating some form of military intervention. We would be opening a Pandora’s box of sectarian conflict that could easily spread to Lebanon, Israel, Kurdish areas of Iraq and elsewhere.

One irony of the current situation compared to thirty years ago is Iraq’s role. Then, we had reasonably good information that Saddam Hussein was supporting the Brotherhood with arms, explosives and facilitating the smuggling of both across the Syrian-Iraqi border. Today, the Maliki government in Baghdad appears to be supporting the Assad regime. And thirty years ago, we also had information that the Brotherhood leadership was given sanctuary in Jordan by King Hussein and in Saudi Arabia.

I don’t think we know how to play in this arena, just as we don’t understand how to play in the Afghanistan-Pakistan arena. US military intervention, whether under the guise of NATO or some other umbrella, could have serious unforeseen consequences for the US, Europe and the region. Officials in Washington should have the law of unforeseen consequences hammered into their heads every morning.

These thoughts are from a US diplomat with direct and fairly recent experience in Syria. Why don’t we ever hear similarly sober assessments from the figures in Washington? Part of the reason, of course, is the over-politicization of the policy-making process, which has long been wrested from the hands of able area experts and delivered into the arms of hawks, ideologues and politicians building campaign warchests.

It is worth mentioning that much of the US administration’s focus on Syria derives from its unhealthy fixation on Iran. In supporting Iran’s worldview that US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East must end, Syria has put itself in the crosshairs of American policy priorities.

The New York Times’ David Sanger wrote shortly after the Arab Awakening had devoured its first two dictators, Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak:

“Every decision — from Libya to Yemen to Bahrain to Syria — is being examined under the prism of how it will affect what was, until mid-January, the dominating calculus in the Obama administration’s regional strategy: how to slow Iran’s nuclear progress, and speed the arrival of opportunities for a successful uprising there.”

Efforts to undermine Bashar Assad’s government were a longstanding policy objective, even in the years before popular revolts hit the wider Middle East in 2011. WikiLeaks has revealed a veritable goldmine of information about Washington’s interventions in Syria, which include direct US financial assistance to opposition groups.

Dirty politics and geopolitical mudslinging aside, at the heart of this matter rests an issue that is fundamental to good policy-making: When do handy narratives simply become lies that spawn bad policies?

This WikiLeaks cable from 2006 illustrates Washington’s efforts to identify “opportunities” to expose “vulnerabilities” in the Syrian regime and cause sectarian/ethnic division, discord within the military/security apparatus and economic hardship. How will the US achieve this? The cable lists a whole host of Syrian vulnerabilities to be exploited, and then recommends:

“These proposals will need to be fleshed out and converted into real actions and we need to be ready to move quickly to take advantage of such opportunities. Many of our suggestions underline using Public Diplomacy and more indirect means to send messages that influence the inner circle.”

Propagandizing the American Public

Public Diplomacy, in effect, means propaganda – which under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 specifies the terms in which the US government can disseminate information to foreign audiences. In 1972, the Act prohibited domestic access to information intended for foreign audiences – in other words, it became illegal for the US government to propagandize Americans.

But Washington has found many ways around this. After all, US citizens need to be “on board” the myriad overseas military adventures undertaken by successive administrations. How, then, does government stay within the confines of the law while propagandizing Americans so that they are pumped up for wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, maybe Iran), weapons sales to questionable allies (Saudi Arabia and Israel), and human rights violations (Guantanamo, drones)?

The fake story of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) targeting the US and its allies was an essential narrative in the build-up to military intervention in Iraq. Recall then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s testimony about evidence of Saddam’s WMD activities and President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech when he falsely accused Iraq of procuring yellowcake uranium from Niger – the media scrutiny of these statements was wholly justified: it is illegal to lie to the American people.

Officials are careful about how they circumvent the restrictions of Smith-Mundt. The quickest way to feed Americans inaccurate, tainted or sometimes entirely false information is through “leaks.” Peruse any newspaper of record in Washington, New York or Los Angeles and you will see the foreign news sections chock full of leaks from “officials.”

The internet, too, is a natural playground for the dissemination of disinformation. Its vast reach across the globe, its millions of blogs with varying credibility – these lend themselves well to the game of public diplomacy.

Powell’s former Chief of Staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson – another ex-official who has spoken candidly about policy and process shortcomings since leaving his post – told me in April 2010: “(Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and others, for example, just ignored the law. They would put a story in a Sydney newspaper, for example, and then ‘internet it’ back to the United States. So you’re propagandizing the American people.”

Wilkerson insists: “we have a statutory divergence that needs to be fixed first – legislation that says you can’t mix public affairs, which is aimed at the American people, and public diplomacy, which is aimed at the international audience. We need to stop propaganda, period. We need to tell the truth. I understand we don’t give out state secrets, but why don’t we tell the truth?”

The problem with foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, is ultimately about the kinds of people making the decisions – ideologues with clear agendas: against Iran and for Israel; against the Syrian “dictator” but in favor of the Saudi, Bahraini, Yemeni, Qatari ones; against Iranian nuclear capability, defending 200 nukes in Israel; abusing UN veto power (80+ times), deriding others for exercising a veto (Russia, China), and so on and so forth.

“It’s broken – it’s utterly dysfunctional,” Wilkerson says about the decision-making process in government: “They put ideologues in to corral, corner, orchestrate, cajole, push, wheedle the civil servants into doing something that they think ought to be done.”

Back to Syria.

A reporter from a major western cable news network just emailed me about his visit to Syria: “I got back from Homs last month unconvinced that the country was rising up against the Assad regime, and far from convinced that there are any good guys.”

Very little is known about what’s going on in the country. And it is not necessarily because there is limited media there: the Arab League mission report lists 147 foreign and Arab media organizations in Syria. The reason we still do not know what is taking place in Homs is because there is a ferocious battle for narratives between two rigid political mindsets. And the current dominant narrative is the one coming out of Washington – which, according to Wikileaks, has been waiting for “opportunities” to seize upon “vulnerabilities” to undermine the regime of Bashar Assad.

Not give us the truth, mind you. But to pursue a policy objective that US citizens have not agreed upon because they are unaware of the facts.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow Sharmine on twitter @snarwani.

February 10, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Veteran US Diplomat Questions Syria Storyline