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The Incident at Benghazi

Tales of the American Empire | July 30, 2020

Chris Stevens was an ambitious US State Department employee who volunteered to participate in the overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011. He covertly arrived in Libya in early 2011 aboard a Greek cargo ship with CIA personnel and set up operations in Benghazi to coordinate illegal shipments of weaponry into Libya and organized attacks on the Libyan army. After Africa’s most prosperous nation was in ruins, Stevens became the US Ambassador to Libya in Tripoli and was given a new mission of shipping tons of arms to Syria to destroy that nation. He traveled to Benghazi in September 2012 to check on progress and was attacked. Stevens was captured, beaten, and killed. The Obama administration hid these facts and proclaimed Chris Stevens an American hero who had traveled to Benghazi to mediate peace among warring factions when he was killed by terrorists.

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“Slain Ambassador Chris Stevens Slipped Into Libya on a Cargo Ship During Revolution”; Amy Bingham; ABC News; September 12, 2012; https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/…

Related Tale: The Destruction of Libya in 2011; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Lh4…

“Operation Timber Sycamore”; the CIA’s semi-secret shipments of tons of weapons to terrorists in Syria; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_…

“CIA Gun—running, Qatar-Libya-Syria”; Phil Greaves; Global Research ; August 9, 2013; https://www.globalresearch.ca/cia-gun…

“The Arming of Benghazi”; Fox News; June 27, 2015; https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/…

Video report: Part I https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/43285…

Part II https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/43284…

“Arms for Libya 2.0”; Wikispooks; https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Arms_for_…

”Obama DOJ drops charges against alleged broker of Libyan weapons”; Ken Vogel; Politico ; October 5, 2016; https://www.politico.com/story/2016/1…

“Hillary’s Secret War”; Andrew Napolitano; July 2, 2015; Antiwar.com ; http://original.antiwar.com/andrew-p-…

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Woke” America is More Asleep to Injustice Than Ever

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By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 06.07.2020

To drive home just how superficial and empty recent protests in America are and how little besides further division and destruction will become of them – take the fate of two fictional characters recently put in the spotlight by baying activists – PepsiCo’s “Aunt Jemima” breakfast food brand and Mars Incorporated’s “Uncle Ben’s” rice products.

Both came into the crosshairs of “woke” America. Both fictional characters will now no longer be used.

It might appear like a huge victory for “woke” America.

CNN in their article, “The Aunt Jemima brand, acknowledging its racist past, will be retired,” would claim:

Quaker Oats is retiring the more than 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand and logo, acknowledging its origins are based on a racial stereotype.

“As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” the Pepsi-owned company said in a statement provided to CNN Business.

And the London Guardian in their article, “Uncle Ben’s rice firm to scrap brand image of black farmer,” would claim:

The rice company Uncle Ben’s is to scrap the image of a black farmer the brand has used since the 1940s and could change its name, as companies react to growing concerns over racial bias and injustice.

The parent company, Mars, said Uncle Ben was a fictional character whose name was first used in 1946 as a reference to an African American Texan rice farmer.

While there is no doubt that both fictional characters represented stereotypes and are rooted in America’s racist past – “woke” America’s belief that somehow this was a priority or some form of victory begs belief. So does the fact that those opposed to expanding mobs and their “cancel culture” have crafted the most anemic counterpoints.

Some claim that the fictional characters were either inspired or portrayed by real African Americans who profited from the branding.

What neither side mentioned was the very real abuses both companies are guilty of – abuses that are both inhumane and rooted in extraordinary, inexcusable, and thus far utterly unaddressed racism.

PepsiCo and Mars Sponsor/Profit From Slavery and Mass Murder 

Both “woke” America as well as those trying to form opposition to it have entirely missed the fact that PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – two multi-billion dollar businesses – are literally engaged in modern day slavery to create their products while sponsoring policy think-tanks that have engineered wars targeting African nations, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands and open-air slave markets where black people – today – are sold into bondage.

This would seem to be a much greater transgression against black people than their crude depictions in company branding and demands much more serious action than merely adjusting marketing strategies – such as demanding boards of directors to resign or full-spectrum, permanent boycotts for these businesses and their many subsidiaries and brands.

Unfortunately for “woke” America, fictional characters are a priority taken head-on all while activists blissfully munch on chocolate bars made by cocoa harvested by African slave labor and sip on drinks made by a corporation which sponsors US wars abroad in which blacks are mass murdered and enslaved.

Your Mars Inc. Chocolate Comes from Slave Labor

If you enjoy chocolate snacks like 3 Musketeers, Snickers, Mars, and Milky Way bars, the chocolate you ate most likely came from a developing nation with dismal working conditions and in many cases, child and slave labor.

Mars Inc. along with Nestle, Hersey, and many other chocolate companies, source cocoa from Africa and especially the nations of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

A Washington Post article published just last year titled, “Cocoa’s child laborers,” would note:

Mars, Nestlé and Hershey pledged nearly two decades ago to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor.

The article elaborated, noting:

About two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa where, according to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 million children were engaged in dangerous labor in cocoa-growing regions.

When asked this spring, representatives of some of the biggest and best-known brands — Hershey, Mars and Nestlé — could not guarantee that any of their chocolates were produced without child labor.

Black children used as labor and under conditions and for wages bordering slavery to produce cocoa Mars Inc. knowingly uses in its products – and makes billions of dollars off of – seems like a much bigger issue than what is undoubtedly offensive labelling practiced by Mars Inc. through its “Uncle Ben’s” brand.

Indicative of the carefully controlled nature of ongoing protests is how the Washington Post has reported on Mars Inc.’s genuinely offensive, even criminal predation on black labor in Africa in the past as well as Mars Inc.’s offensive branding more recently, but failed to link the two in its most recent reporting – thus artfully avoiding a genuinely “woke” readership and any genuine damage real protests and boycotts would have on Mars Inc. and other corporations whose interests Washington Post regularly serves as a voice for.

Big-Biz like PepsiCo and Mars Inc. are an Affront to All

Mars Inc. – alongside PepsiCo, Nestle, and Hersey – was also involved in funding anti-labelling campaigns to prevent legislation from passing that would force food manufacturers to inform consumers their products contained genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Corporations spending money to hide dangerous ingredients from consumers endangers everyone’s health – black and white, left and right.

Mars Inc., PepsiCo, and others defend such campaigning, claiming that such legislation would be “costly” – as would ensuring  all of their ingredients are ethically procured and free of child and/or slave labor.

Yet Mars Inc., PepsiCo, and others are multi-billion dollar businesses. The Mars family which owns Mars Inc. consists mostly of family members who are billionaires – not mere millionaires – but billionaires.

Their daily “concerns” include ensuring their sprawling 82,000 acre ranches have enough water and that they receive the most lenient penalties when crashing their Porsche SUV’s into vans carrying families.

Mars Inc. and other multi-billion dollar businesses can afford to do better, simply at the cost of being slightly less well-off billionaires or perhaps even being demoted to millionaires – yet they simply and deliberately choose to profit off the backs of poorly informed consumers at home and exploited/enslaved labor abroad.

If what Mars Inc. and PepsiCo contributed to was only limited to cultivating ignorant consumers at home and using slave labor abroad it would be bad enough. And if America’s “woke revolution” was serious about justice, Mars Inc. and PepsiCo would be on the chopping block for much more than their crude, racist marketing, and would have more demanded of them.

But that is not all Mars Inc. and PepsiCo are contributing to.

Sponsoring Warmongering and Mass Murder in Africa (and everywhere else)

Both PepsiCo and Mars Inc. are sponsors of policy think tanks like the Brookings Institution whose “scholars” and “fellows” churn out the blueprints for US wars which are then rubber stamped by the US Congress and sold to the public by the corporate media.

Brooking Institution’s 2019 annual report (PDF) lists both companies – PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – as sponsors as were both companies in 2011 (PDF).

Brookings and its corporate-sponsored staff worked diligently in 2011 to help sell the US military intervention in the North African nation of Libya. It was a key institution involved in creating and spreading the notion of “R2P” or the “responsibility to protect” used as flimsy cover for a long-planned US desire to effect regime change in Libya.

As early as February 2011, the Brookings Institution published articles and papers like, “United States Must Take Lead on Libya,” in which Brookings “Senior Fellows” – funded by the likes of PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – made the nascent calls for US military intervention that would eventually lead to the US arming militants openly and carrying out air strikes across the nation.

Indeed, the US armed militants in eastern Libya – a hotbed for racism and extremism and the epicenters of Al Qaeda in the country – as well as provided roving bands of armed gangs air support as they swept the nation.

When Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was violently swept from power later that year, the estimated 2.5 million Africans from across the continent he took in, providing housing and living wages to, found themselves being hunted by US-backed militants.

To explain the blatant and explosive racism that predictably swept Libya in the wake of the US-backed war, articles like the CS Monitor’s “How Qaddafi helped fuel fury toward Africans in Libya,” would claim:

Many experts – and African migrant workers themselves – say the animosity stems from anti-African racism found throughout the Arab world. But some say the anger has been made much worse by Mr. Qaddafi’s moves to buy the loyalty of black Libyans from the south of the country as well as his decades-long efforts to build Africa-wide patronage networks at great cost to the country’s Arab majority.

In other words – the CS Monitor and the Western “experts” it cited claim Qaddafi “fueled fury toward Africans” by merely spending resources to help them. It is an oblique attempt to justify the racism-driven genocide US-backed militants carried out during their “victory lap” in Libya.

Black Africans living in Libya were either driven out of the country, across the Mediterranean and into Europe to face hardship and racism there or either mass murdered in Libya or rounded up and enslaved.

The Western media – partners with institutions like Brookings – denied this at first – or attempted to excuse it like the CS Monitor – but eventually covered the fallout US military intervention in Libya and its long-planned regime change agenda triggered.

Reuters in their article, “African workers live in fear after Gaddafi overthrow,” would admit:

Tens of thousands of foreign workers have fled Libya since the armed revolt against Gaddafi’s 42-year-rule began in February, with Africans afraid they have become targets for fighters who accuse them of being mercenaries for Gaddafi.

This antipathy appears to have spread to all Africans, leaving them vulnerable to attacks, robbery and other abuse by the gun-toting, mostly young, fighters who ousted Gaddafi.

Identity cards of nationals from Chad, Niger, Mali, Sudan and other African states have been found on the bodies of gunmen who anti-Gaddafi fighters say were paid to confront them.

The BBC in its article, “Libya migrant ‘slave market’ footage sparks outrage,” would admit:

Migrants trying to reach Europe have spoken of being held by smugglers and forced to work for little or no money.

The footage released by CNN appears to show youths from Niger and other sub-Saharan countries being sold to buyers for about $400 (£300) at undisclosed locations in Libya.

While these media sources covered the fallout of the 2011 US military intervention, they were careful not to link the fallout directly to the intervention.

The US war against Libya was a humanitarian catastrophe deliberately engineered by Western think tanks funded by big-business like PepsiCo, Mars Inc., and many others, rubber stamped by politicians in Washington – both Democrat and Republican – and eagerly sold to the public by the corporate media.

And even as recently as 2016, Brookings “Senior Fellow” Shadi Hamid in a piece published on Brookings’ site titled, “Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure. They’re wrong,” would remain insistent in defending the US-led war and the decimated, racist, and dysfunctional Libya left in its wake.

He argues that if the US didn’t intervene, Qaddafi would have successfully eliminated the racist extremists in eastern Libya and particularly in Benghazi who would eventually carry out genocide against Libya’s black population. Hamid simply omits any mention of this or who actually was based in Benghazi and instead refers to them merely as “protesters.”

Thus, PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – alongside oil corporations and weapons manufacturers – are funding an institution that not only engineers and eagerly promotes wars, they fund an institution that is utterly unapologetic about the calamity these wars cause – including wars like in Libya ending tragically for 2.5 million black Africans.

“Woke” America needs to be conscious enough to recognize the true injustice underpinning American society. It is very likely that as protesters in America and online around the globe rail against “Aunt Jemima” and “Uncle Ben’s” many activists are eagerly enjoying many of the other products produced by and profiting PepsiCo and Mars Inc. – oblivious to the fact that the ingredients are procured through child and slave labor in Africa and the profits are directed into promoting wars that leave blacks abroad dead, displaced, or enslaved. And as long as this is the case, nothing of any genuine substance will ever change in America or across the wider Western World.

If real justice is what Americans – all Americans – want, they need to truly wake up to this fact first.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 3 Comments

Libyan war escalates as regional powers attempt to gain stronger influence

By Paul Antonopoulos | June 1, 2020

Alarms are sounding in Europe as Turkey, Russia and Arab states could potentially agree on shared influence in Libya, and therefore the entirety of the eastern Mediterranean, according to some experts. This comes as European states have no influence over the war in Libya despite it occurring on its southern doorstep and Turkey, Russia and Arab states continue to gain influence.

The direct intervention of Turkey in Libya, who has sent its own intelligence officers, military advisers and thousands of Syrian jihadists to support the Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accords (GNA), based in Tripoli and led by the ethnic Turk Fayez al-Sarraj, has limited further gains by the Libyan National Army (LNA). The mobilization of thousands of Turkish and Syrian jihadists and the massive shipment of weapons to Tripoli has slowed down the offensive of the LNA, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar. Haftar was proclaimed on April 27 as the only leader of the country, in which most of the international community found to be a provocative move as they believe it limited the likelihood of a political settlement to the conflict.

Confident of his past military superiority and assured in the determination that the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have to counter Turkey’s efforts to create hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean, Haftar continues to ignore calls for a political solution to the war. Sarraj also ignores such calls confident in the backing he has from Turkey.

Russia also condemned Haftar’s offensive and called for negotiations on peace. However, the U.S. claims that Russian fighter jets arrived in Libya to protect the withdrawal of volunteers from the Russian Wagner group in a decision agreed upon with Ankara, something that Moscow denies. Both Europe and the U.S. fear that Russia may obtain the use of a naval base in eastern Libya, that the LNA securely controls, in the future.

Despite these potentialities, it is unlikely the war between GNA-backed jihadists and the LNA will come to a conclusion anytime soon, unless there is a drastic change caused by external forces. Turkey in the midst of an economic crisis is unwilling to use the full force of its military in Libya and is rather acting as a conduit between the GNA and Qatari-funded but Turkish-trained Syrian jihadists. Egypt is contemplating using its military in Libya to “fight against Libyan extremists and terrorists supported by Turkey.” This too could be a game changer since Egypt has the means, logistics and capabilities to successfully intervene in Libya in favour of the LNA.

France has also not hidden away with its support for Haftar, finding him to be a leader that would advance French interests in the Mediterranean that is in direct conflict with Turkey. The GNA has also signed a memorandum with the Muslim Brotherhood government to cut through Greece’s maritime space for the exploitation of gas in that area of ​​the Mediterranean, forcing Greece to get embroiled in the Libyan mess. Meanwhile, Italy has backed the GNA while Germany is trying to act as referee, showing once again there is no common European position.

The European ‘Irini’ (meaning peace in Greek) operation is committed to prevent maritime-bound arms delivery to Libya, i.e. Turkish arms to Libya. This is a maritime surveillance operation to enforce the United Nations-imposed arms embargo on Libya, but in reality, it has not prevented Turkey’s deliveries to the GNA while Egypt continues to supply the LNA over the land border.

The situation shows that the European Union is unable to establish itself as a main actor in a conflict that brings together strategic political and economic interests a few nautical miles from its southern coast. With the U.S. realistically absent, Turkey backing the GNA and Russia and the Arab + Greece alliance backing the LNA, these are the main protagonists.

In Paris, and seeing the failure of his diplomacy parallel to the EU, the Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, warns about the “Syrianization of Libya,” while spokesman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s gloats: “France and other European countries supporting Haftar are on the wrong side of history.” Seen in this light, the balancing role Russia can play in Libya to contain Ankara could even be positive for Europeans.

However, the main reason that shared influence will not be agreed upon is because the GNA-Turkish deal to steal Greece’s maritime space relies on a supposed share maritime space between Libya and Turkey. And therein lays the problem – it is the LNA, who has rejected the memorandum, that controls the eastern Libyan coast that supposedly shares a maritime border with Turkey. So long as the LNA controls eastern Libya, Turkey will always strive for a GNA victory to legitimize the memorandum. Once again, the European Union remains divided on Libya, despite the Muslim Brotherhood government aiming to carve out the maritime space of a member state.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

June 1, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘US statements are fake, not Libyan money’: Moscow rebuffs accusations of printing counterfeit dinars

RT | May 30, 2020

Moscow printed dinars for Libya in accordance with a government contract, so Washington’s claims of it being fake money have nothing to do with reality, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

The US State Department announced on Friday that $1.1 billion worth of “counterfeit, Russian-printed Libyan currency” was seized in Malta earlier this week.

Moscow confirmed the dinars were indeed printed by Russian state-owned company Goznak, but it was done in accordance with a contract it signed with the Central Bank of Libya in 2015. The order was fully paid for by the Libyan side, it was announced.

Following the NATO-backed removal of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and years of chaos, Libya is now run by two rival governments, which both have their own central banks. Moscow said it sent money to Benghazi, which is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar, because the head of the local bank was appointed by the democratically elected parliament. The seized money was essential for stabilizing the troubled Libyan economy, the ministry added. “Therefore, it’s the American statements that are false, but not the Libyan dinars.”

Washington, which backs the UN recognized Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), has labeled the LNA and its bank “an illegal parallel entity.”

Moscow reiterated its stance that the conflict in Libya should only be solved behind the negotiations table, calling upon the sides to lay down arms and start talking.

May 30, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

The Destruction of Libya in 2011

Tales of the American Empire | May 28, 2020

The American empire wanted to oust Muammar Gaddafi for decades. He remained in power as he carefully balanced interests in Libya’s complex tribal society and kept the military under control. Gaddafi was popular since he invested Libya’s oil wealth improving the lives of Libyans rather than in Western banks. Before its 2011 destruction, Libyans were the wealthiest in all of Africa. President Obama chose to destroy Libya despite meeting with Gaddafi after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. His Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the strongest advocate for this war crime. When later asked about Gaddafi’s death, she laughed and exclaimed: “We came, we saw, he died.”

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“General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned – Seven Countries in Five Years”; Democracy Now; March 2007; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1M…

“Goldman Sachs Lost 98% of Libya’s $1.3B Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment”; Agustino Fontevecchia; Forbes ; May 31, 2011; https://www.forbes.com/sites/afonteve…

“Hillary Emails Reveal True Motive for Libyan Intervention”; Brad Hoff; Foreign Policy Journal ; Jan 6, 2016; https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/…

“French President Emmanuel Macron says destroying Libya was a mistake”; CGTN Africa; 2017; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMjOJ…

“The Obama Administration Destroyed Libya”; Ted Carpenter; The National Interest ; Sept 16, 2019; https://nationalinterest.org/blog/ske…

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Failures in Syria and Libya fuel coup speculations against Erdogan

By Paul Antonopoulos | May 20, 2020

Turkish media has been full of speculation of a potential coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, including from state-run Anadolu Agency, and other major outlets like Sabah and Haberturk. Erdoğan already survived a 2016 coup attempt against him that he blames on his ex-ally, Fethullah Gülen, who leads the FETÖ Islamic movement. It is likely that Erdoğan will conduct another purge of the Turkish military.

Although the 2016 coup was orchestrated mostly by the Air Force, it appears that one of the first victims could have been Rear Admiral Cihat Yaycı. On May 15, Yaycı was demoted from the Chief of Staff’s to the General Staff, prompting him to resign from the military completely on Monday. Although some speculated it could have been because of the coup rumors circulating, Yaycı proved to be one of the most loyal Chief of Staff’s to Erdoğan and played a significant role in purging so-called FETÖ elements from the Turkish military.

It is likely that Yaycı was actually demoted because of Turkey’s complete failure to project its power in the Eastern Mediterranean. Yaycı is known as the architect of Turkey’s “Blue Homeland” theory that aims to annex Greece’s Eastern Aegean islands and maritime space. To achieve the “Blue Homeland,” Ankara in November 2019, with recommendation from Yaycı, sealed the “Marine Jurisdictions” maritime boundary delimitation deal with Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accords (GNA) to split Greek maritime space between Turkey and Libya.

However, since the signing of the deal with the Tripoli-based GNA, Ankara’s power projections in the Eastern Mediterranean have only weakened Turkish influence. Turkey had not expected for Greece to expel the GNA ambassador from Athens, one of the first NATO and EU countries to do so. In reaction, Greece recognised the GNA’s rival, the Tobruk-based Libyan House of Representatives who appointed Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar to command the Libyan National Army against Turkish-backed jihadists who fight for the GNA.

Greece’s shift in recognition shows another flashpoint in rivalry with so-called NATO ally Turkey and rapidly changed dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean. Haftar currently controls about 90% of territory and 60% of the population, prompting Turkey to send 5,000 Syrian jihadists to support the GNA, who have regained some lost territory in recent weeks.

But this is going to change as it appears massive simultaneous operations against the GNA and Turkish-backed jihadists in Syria’s Idlib province are set to begin in the coming weeks. Turkey as the sole backers of jihadist forces in Libya and Idlib will find this extremely difficult to deal with as it faces an economic crisis.

A detailed report by New Economy found that “Turkey’s probability of bankruptcy is extremely high,” along with its three big banks of Garanti, Akbank and the Mustafa Kemal Atatürk-founded İşbank. “The country’s commercial banks, its last stronghold, have dried up from foreign exchange currency,” meaning that Turkey has nearly no money for its import and export companies.

Another report found that failed wars against Libya and Syria have been a major problem for its economy, making Turkey’s bankruptcy probability over 30% in the forthcoming period, putting them behind only Venezuela and Argentina, but “without having the US embargo that Venezuela has, nor the vast debt that Argentina brings.”

Most startling however for Turkey is that it has to find $80 billion by August, according to New Economy, or else it faces bankruptcy.

“There is also the additional 0.5-1 billion dollar cost per month for the wars in Syria and Libya, which seems to exacerbate the existing situation, leading to a huge state budget hole and escalating the probabilities of bankruptcy,” the report said.

With major economic problems in Turkey, Ankara paid Syrian jihadists in Libya only one month’s worth of wages and then ended all payments. This has prompted the jihadists to make videos urging other Syrians not to go to Libya and fight. Meanwhile, Turkey’s aggression has prompted Greece to renew diplomatic relations with Syria, become actively involved in Libya, and strengthen relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who oppose Turkish influence in the Arab world.

Yaycı’s ambitious “Blue Homeland” project forced Greece to become involved in Libya and Syria that it previously had no interest in, and it is now actively a part of an alliance that is opposing Turkish influence in the region. With Greece actively opposing Turkish influence in Libya, France has also taken a stronger interest and openly opposes the GNA now. What began as a plan to carve up Greece’s maritime space has now turned into a debacle that sees French involvement against the GNA and EU recognition of the Muslim Brotherhood government waning.

Egypt is now threatening to directly use its military to defeat the GNA rather than just supply Haftar’s forces. The UAE has promised to continue airstrikes against the GNA and funding mercenaries for Haftar. Saudi Arabia is also funding mercenaries. Greece and France are involved in the EU’s Operation Irini to stop maritime deliveries of arms to Libya. In March, Haftar’s political representatives signed with Syria a Memorandum of Understanding to start diplomatic relations. Syria and the Libyan National Army are also preparing likely simultaneous operations against jihadists in their respective countries.

This is all happening while Turkey faces a very serious threat of bankruptcy and rumors of a coup attempt. Therefore, it is likely that Yaycı was demoted by Erdoğan for masterminding and pushing for the “Blue Homeland” that has ended in catastrophic failure for Turkey.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Greece’s Renewed Relations with Syria Further Isolates Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean

By Paul Antonopoulos | May 7, 2020

On Tuesday, the Greek Foreign Ministry finally announced a restoration of relations between Greece and Syria and assigned former ambassador to Syria and Russia, Tasia Athanassiou, as a Special Envoy of Greece’s Foreign Ministry for Syria. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias confirmed this from his Twitter. The appointment of Athanassiou is extremely strategic as she was Greece’s ambassador to Damascus from 2009 to 2012, meaning she is already familiar with Syria and their authorities.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said that contacts will be made for the “international aspects of Syria and related humanitarian action, as well as coordination of actions in view of the ongoing efforts to rebuild Syria.”

Although the Foreign Ministry claims that the suspension of diplomatic relations “was dictated by the security conditions,” we know it was ordered by former Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in December 2012 under orders from NATO and the European Union who were, and in some instances, still are backing jihadists against the secular government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Greece became a country ruled by European banker, EU, and NATO puppets from 2010 onwards when on May 2 of that year, the so-called socialist government of George Papandreou signed the first of three bailout packages with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF. This caused a 25% contraction of the Greek economy, an unemployment rate of 27% and skyrocketed poverty. Any semblance of Greek independence in domestic and foreign policy was lost.

However, moving to 2020, the economic and geopolitical situation in Greece and its surrounding region has drastically changed. Diplomatic sources quoted by Kathemirini, one of Greece’s oldest and most respected newspaper, said that the decision to appoint a Special Envoy for Syria is part of Greece’s steady activity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region. According to the sources, Greece’s increased desire in contributing to efforts in resolving the Syrian crisis was stated by Dendias in his meetings with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Otto Pedersen.

Therefore, a major reason for the reopening of relations with Syria is to further tilt the balance of power in the East Mediterranean in Greece’s favor against Turkey, especially at a time when Ankara does not have a single ally in the region, with the exception of the besieged Muslim Brotherhood government in Libya that is nearly collapsed because of the Libyan National Army’s assault.

The reopening of relations between Athens and Damascus comes at a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is making a strong push for a “Blue Homeland” that aims to annex Greece’s Eastern Aegean islands and maritime space. Turkey for nine years attempted to oust Assad from power through various means, including an unsuccessful invasion attempt of Idlib province earlier this year, as well as its continued support for terrorist organisations. In addition, Erdoğan is propping up the Muslim Brotherhood government in Libya by importing jihadists from Syria to the North African country.

Although Erdoğan has failed in all of these endeavours, Turkey still remains a major threat, even at a time when it is facing economic catastrophe with the Turkish lira at a near record low to the U.S. dollar and Turkey’s three largest banks, Garanti, Akbank and İşbank, on the verge of bankruptcy. Even with this looming economic disaster, Turkey still manages to find the funds to violate Greek airspace on a daily basis, send weapons to Libya and fund terrorist organizations in Syria.

As the Eastern Mediterranean becomes a potential major warzone because of Turkey’s aggression, Greece is now renewing relations with old friends. Hafez al-Assad, previous president of Syria and father to Bashar al-Assad, pledged that if Turkey was ever to go to war with Greece, Syria would automatically open a new front in southern Turkey in support of Greece.

Athens however is not completely independent from NATO and the EU. This suggests that although renewing relations with Syria is absolutely critical in protecting its sovereignty, perhaps Greece has gotten approval from the EU and/or NATO to do this.  Greece is perhaps the most important of the very few European countries that have maintained or reopened relations with Syria because of its history of friendly relations, as well as thousands of years of religious, cultural, financial and ethnic ties.

It can be suggested that as the war in Syria begins to end, continued only by Turkey’s refusal to stop backing terrorist organizations in Idlib, the EU wants to try and take advantage of lucrative reconstruction contracts that will be on offer and investment opportunities. It is unlikely that European companies will win reconstruction contracts, but the reality is that Assad has survived the near 10-year efforts to have him removed, and is not going anywhere. Greece could be used as an outlet for the EU to open dialogue and relations with Damascus again.

This is only speculative, but what is for certain is that by reopening relations with Syria, Greece is consolidating the emerging East Mediterranean order and opposes Turkish hegemony in the region. Greece will always have close relations with Cyprus, and has also entered a military alliance with Egypt, supports the Libyan National Army against Turkish-backed forces, and has strong military and energy ties with Israel. Relations with Syria have essentially finalized the strangulation of Turkey’s attempted hegemony of the Eastern Mediterranean and made it the most isolated country in the region – despite Athens’ insistence on improving ties with Ankara if it finally abandons its aggressive foreign policy.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

May 7, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

“Turkey lied to us.” Syrian Mercenaries in Libya are Desperate to Leave

By Lindsey Snell | The Investigative Journal | April 27, 2020

“I just got back from Libya yesterday,” said Zein Ahmad*, a Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) militant in Afrin. “But I had been trying to leave for more than a month.” When the Libyan National Army (LNA) neared Tripoli in April 2019, the rival UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli called on Turkey for military support.

Turkish forces began heavily recruiting militants from SNA factions in Syria to fight on their behalf, and began flying hundreds to Libya every week. The exact number of Syrian militants Turkey has sent is unknown, but estimates range from 5,000 to 17,000. Flights carrying Syrians to Libya continue, despite the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ahmad is a member of Ahrar al-Sharqiya, an SNA faction notorious for its bad treatment of civilians and a tendency to fight other SNA factions in the areas they invade. Ahmad had been based in Afrin with the faction since Turkey’s Operation “Olive Branch” in 2018. The Turkish invasion of Afrin led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the displacement of hundreds of thousands. Ahrar al-Sharqiya has been accused of widespread war crimes in the city, including looting, murder, kidnapping, and serial rape.

When asked if he believed in Turkey’s mission in Afrin, Ahmad laughed. “I was a mercenary going to Afrin, and I was a mercenary going to Libya. There is no jihad. The jihad ended when [the Syrian opposition] lost Aleppo to Assad in 2016. Since Aleppo, it has been just money for us. We don’t care who we are fighting.”

Ahrar al-Sharqiya’s atrocities spread beyond Afrin when, in October 2019, Turkey launched Operation “Peace Spring” on North and East Syria. Ahrar al-Sharqiya militants stopped the vehicle of Syrian Future Party leader Hevrin Khalaf at a checkpoint they’d constructed along Syria’s M4 highway. The militants pulled Khalaf from her car, bludgeoned her, dragged her by her hair, and shot her five times. They posted video of the attack on their social media accounts.

Ahmad won’t comment on the assassination of Hevrin Khalaf or any of the other war crimes his and other Turkish-backed factions have been accused of in recent times. “I know the groups did bad things in Afrin when we entered the city,” Ahmad said. “But I never did, personally. I never looted when I was in Afrin. But I did loot when I was in Libya. We all did. They stopped paying us.”

The Syrian militants in Libya were promised salaries ranging from $2000-3000 per month, but reports from militants in several factions suggest the GNA has not kept up with payments as promised. One Hamza Division member said he’s been paid $2000 every month and a half rather than every month. Some Faylaq al-Majd members who have been in Libya for more than three months say they were paid once and never again.

“They told us we would be paid $3000 a month. That never happened. The first month we got $2000. The second month, they gave us $1400. The third month, we weren’t paid at all,” Ahmad said. “So we looted. We took copper from the homes, anything gold we could find, anything valuable we could find. And the Libyans with us would take the items and sell them for us.”

A militant from the Hamza Division says that a GNA-affiliated Libyan militant assigned to his group takes the Syrians into shops in Tripoli so they can sell their stolen wares. “Some fighters were looting instead of fighting,” he said. “In fact, many of our fighters were killed because they would steal from homes near the frontlines, and Haftar’s forces would ambush them and kill them.”

Hilal Hesham*, a businessman in Tripoli, has two friends who own shops frequented by the Syrian militants. “One shop owner tried to call the police when the Syrians came in the first time,” he said. “It was obvious the items they had were stolen. But of course, the police did nothing. It is militia rule in Tripoli. The shop owners aren’t happy with their presence, but they are required to do business with them.”

Hesham says he isn’t aware of the Syrian militants physically harming any civilians. “Maybe they realize that in Tripoli, we are all armed,” he said. “But in my mind, these [Syrian] men are extremists, are terrorists, are ISIS. I want to make it clear that I, and many other civilians here, are waiting for the [Libyan National] Army to enter Tripoli.”

***

Zein Ahmad says most of the other promises Turkish forces made to the SNA militants failed to materialize. “They told us first that if we stayed and fought for six months, that we would get Turkish citizenship,” he said. “That was lies. They told us if we died fighting in Libya, our families would get Turkish citizenship. Now that so many Syrians have died in Libya, we know this is also a lie.”

Ahmad says that when a fellow Ahrar al-Sharqiya member was killed in a battle in February, his widow in Afrin was given around $8000. “Of course, she did not get the Turkish citizenship,” he said. “She’s living in a camp in Syria with no husband now.”

Ahmad says the Turkish commanders who briefed them on the Libya mission grossly misrepresented the dangers they’d be facing. “They told us it would be minor combat. They said it was safer and easier than fighting in Syria,” he said. “And for the first month, it was. It was great.”

After arriving in Libya, Ahmad stayed in a house in Tripoli with ten other Syrian militants and a Libyan militant who accompanied them whenever they left the house. The house was a well-appointed villa, almost certainly abandoned by its rightful owners when clashes intensified and drew closer.

“Then, after some weeks, heavy battles began. We moved to Salah al-Din. It was worse than in Syria,” Ahmad said. “Bodies fell in the street and no one picked them up. So many Syrians have died.” Ahmad isn’t sure exactly how many Syrians have died in Libya, but says he personally saw more than a dozen killed in battle.

“It was nothing like we are used to in Syria,” Ahmad said. “It’s urban street combat. We don’t have the right weapons or the right skills. We are being slaughtered. And so, many of us started to refuse to fight. Or we’d be taken to the frontlines and hide there.”

Ahmad says that when the Syrian militants began defying orders, Libyan soldiers aligned with the GNA would come and beat them. He says once, when a Syrian had refused to fight three times in a row, a Libyan militiant shot him in the leg.

The number of Syrians desperate to leave Libya is growing by the day. “The last lie that Turkey told us was that we would only have to stay for two months, or three months,” Ahmad said. “But more than three months had passed for my group, and they weren’t letting us back.”

Ultimately, Ahmad was forced to pay his Syrian commander $700 to fly home to Syria. “There were around 100 of us,” he said. “Some paid $500, and some as much as $1000, but then they put us on a plane with the dead and injured and allowed us to return to Syria.”

Ahmad plans to resign from his faction. When asked what he thought the future held for him, he scoffed. “You shouldn’t ask me that. Don’t ask any of us that,” he said. “I don’t even know what the present is going to be for me.”

A Turkish soldier in Tripoli reports a markedly different Libya experience. “Look, everyone is happy,” he said. “All Turkish military here have good morale. And we’re getting good money.” When asked about the situation the Syrian militants are facing in Libya, the Turkish soldier said he didn’t know. “But I heard if they want to return to Syria, they can,” he said.


*an alias

Lindsey Snell is a print and video journalist specializing in conflict and humanitarian crises. She has produced documentary-style videos for MSNBC, VICE, Vocativ, ABC News, Ozy, Yahoo News, and Discovery Digital Networks. Her print work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Daily Beast, al Araby and others. One of her pieces, on Aleppo schools hit by airstrikes, won an Edward R. Murrow award in 2016.

May 2, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

UAE’s Rapprochement With Syria Aimed Against Turkey

By Paul Antonopoulos | March 31, 2020

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the head of United Arab Emirates (UAE), spoke by phone on Friday in the first such communication since the Syrian War began in 2011. This shows a metamorphosis of alliances and geopolitics in the Middle East and the wider region considering the UAE was one of the main backers of terrorist organizations who fought to remove Assad from power. However, for more than a year, the UAE has been sending signals showing a change in policy towards Syria. The phone call was after a long series of rapprochement that began in late 2018 with the reopening of the Emirati embassy in Damascus.

“I have discussed with the Syrian president… updates on the coronavirus. I assured him of the support of the UAE and its willingness to help the Syrian people,” Prince Mohammed said on Twitter. “Humanitarian solidarity during trying times supersedes all matters, and Syria and her people will not stand alone.”

A diplomatic source close to the case was quoted by the Lebanese daily L’Orient-Le Jour as saying the “Westerners, the Americans and French particularly, were against” a Syrian-Emirati rapprochement. According to the diplomatic source, the UAE is trying to gain favours from Moscow and has already won dozens of contracts, including in armaments, gas and infrastructure, but also with space cooperation. This is part of a broader geostrategic context and the stakes go far beyond Syria and the UAE. Rather, the UAE has acknowledged that Russia has taken a greater interest in the region, in particular in Syria and Libya.

Relations between the Gulf monarchies and the United States, traditional allies, have greatly deteriorated in recent years. The gradual disengagement of American forces from the region, but especially the lack of support from Washington against Turkey, made the monarchies with the exception of Qatar, lose the confidence they once had in the United States. According to the diplomatic source quoted by L’Orient-Le Jour, the UAE is trying to get closer to Beijing and Moscow, and the Crown Prince’s phone call to Assad is evidence of that. The call also comes as relations with Iran softened, especially seen with the many Emirati delegations who visited Iran last year, however this has not softened the UAE’s brutal Yemeni policy. None-the-less, this suggests a change in foreign policy that appeals to Moscow.

It appears then that the UAE’s turn around in its Syria policy serves two purposes: first – to strengthen relations with Russia, second – to form an anti-Turkish bloc.

As Turkey actively pursues the establishment of a neo-Ottoman Empire, the UAE is aggressively undermining the project as it opposes the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has openly supported and backed in Syria, Libya and Egypt. The UAE recognized the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in 2014 after the fundamentalist group made plans to infiltrate and destabilize the Gulf country to take control – the main reason for the ever-increasing deterioration in relations between the UAE and Turkey.

Since then, the UAE has been actively countering Turkish influence across the region. As part of its efforts to create an anti-Turkish block, the UAE have strengthened their relations with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt fear being taken over by Muslim Brotherhood rule. However, the UAE’s pursuit of countering Turkey has not been reduced to only the Islamic world.

Greece, considered the “Old Enemy” by the Turks, received 11 tons of medical aid from the UAE on Thursday, with a Greek government press release stating that relations “began as economic cooperation, but thanks to the trust that was developed, it evolved into a strong bond.” This came as a working meeting of the Greece-UAE Broader Strategic Cooperation Forum was held in Athens on February 19 following the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to UAE. In 2019 and 2020, the UAE and Greece has conducted joint military drills and military heads have been meeting each other often in a clear directive against Turkey.

In Libya, the UAE has not held back in supporting the Libyan National Army in their struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood government in Tripoli, headed by the ethnic Turk Fayez al-Sarraj who has the full backing of Erdoğan. The UAE’s material assistance has been crucial in the success of the Libyan National Army’s battle against Muslim Brotherhood forces, a clear demonstration that the UAE are willing to directly check Turkey’s ambitions to exert its influence and power across the region.

By securing close relations with Greece and directly countering Turkey in Libya, the UAE’s rapprochement with Syria is another step in formulating an anti-Turkish bloc, with itself at the head. While Turkey has acted to strangulate countries who oppose its hegemony in the region, it now appears that it is the UAE who is pressurizing Turkey and isolating it. There is every chance that the UAE will begin sending material aid to Syria that will be crucial in its future battles to expel the Turkish military and their jihadist proxies from Syrian territory. This will once again undermine Turkey’s efforts to dominate Syria and be the main power in the region, a move that Erdoğan would not have expected.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

March 31, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coronavirus hastens an Arab rapprochement

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | March 28, 2020

A phone call by the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday signifies in many ways a major development in regional politics.

The official UAE news agency WAM modestly placed the UAE initiative “within the framework of Sheikh Mohamed’s contacts to follow up the humanitarian conditions in sisterly and friendly countries” in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the region.

The agency said the two leader “reviewed precautionary and preventive measures… and the possibility of helping sisterly Syria to fight the virus.” But it added that “Sheikh Mohamed stressed the need for countries to place the humanitarian solidarity over political issues during this common challenge …. [and] affirmed that Syrian – the sisterly Arab country – will not be left alone during these delicate and critical circumstances.”

The report ended by taking note that Assad welcomed the Crown Prince’s “collaborative initiative while praising the UAE humanitarian stance.”

The Syrian news agency SANA succinctly highlighted that the UAE Crown Prince “affirmed that the UAE supports the Syrian people during these extraordinary circumstances, saying that Syria will not remain alone in these critical circumstances.”

Clearly, a serious normalisation process has begun between Abu Dhabi and Damascus and this must be counted as one of the geopolitical fallouts of rampage of coronavirus.

The UAE was one of the main backers of the “regime change” project in Syria and a key promoter of jihadi groups. But a rethink apparently began sometime around late 2016 following the Russian intervention in Syria the previous year, which swung the military balance dramatically in favour of Assad’s government.

The UAE made a course correction once it became apparent that the regime change project had floundered. Its support for the extremist Islamist groups tapered off. Cool realism, which is UAE’s trademark, prevailed. (We see the realism also in the UAE’s disengagement from the Saudi-led war in Yemen.)

Most certainly, President Trump’s detached attitude toward the Syrian conflict would have played its part in the UAE rethink. Among other factors, the UAE’s growing rapport with Russia, involving the two leaderships at a personal level, encouraged the UAE to reassess the Syrian situation from a new perspective. At any rate, the UAE reopened its mission in Damascus in 2018.

Without doubt, one major consideration for the UAE has been the proactive and repeated Turkish military interventions in northern Syria in the period since 2016 starting with Operation Euphrates Shield, which steadily evolved into a Turkish occupation in northern Syria.

The Turkish-Emirati relations have been very poor in the recent years following President Recep Erdogan’s accusation that the UAE had a hand in the 2016 failed coup attempt to overthrow him. Basically, the leitmotif of this discord lies in Erdogan’s kinship with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the UAE regards as an existential threat.

To be sure, the antipathy toward the Brothers, whom Turkey (and its regional ally Qatar) promotes as the vehicle of the Arab Spring, has been a key factor in the budding UAE-Syria rapprochement — as indeed in the growing rapport between Damascus and Cairo.

Interestingly, Syria finds itself on the same page as the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Russia in opposing the Turkish intervention in Libya as well. Recently, the Libyan warlord General Khalifa Haftar’s faction (which opposes the Turkey-backed government in Tripoli) was allowed to take over the Libyan embassy in Damascus.

Indeed, the UAE is playing a long game to isolate Turkey (under Erdogan) in the Middle East by drawing together forces in the region that abhor political Islam — Muslim Brotherhood in particular. How far Russia encourages such an alignment in regional politics is anybody’s guess but it won’t be a surprise, given the difficulties Moscow is currently facing in managing the mercurial personality of Erdogan and a possibility that Russian-Turkish relations could be on a collision course any day over northern Syria if a Turkish-Syrian military confrontation in Idlib erupts.

Interestingly, the UAE Crown Prince’s overture to Assad comes within six weeks of a visit by the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, a top Kremlin official close to President Vladimir Putin, to Dubai. Tass news agency reported that “that the approaches assessing regional crises and solutions to them (Russia and UAE) are similar or close.”

Interestingly, both Russia and the UAE have direct dealings with the Kurdish separatist groups that operate in Syria and Turkey. No doubt, Russia will view with satisfaction the acceleration of the UAE-Syrian rapprochement. Emirati assistance in Syria’s reconstruction and rehabilitation will come as a big relief to Moscow.

Also, the return of Syria to the Arab family can only enhance Russia’s room for manoeuvre, apart from giving Assad much-needed “strategic depth”. All this helps in the stabilisation of the Syrian situation. Can we expect Syria’s readmission to the Arab League? It’s entirely conceivable.

The bottom line is that the UAE-Syrian normalisation holds the potential to redraw regional alignments. Despite the calamities of the 9-year old conflict, Syria still remains the throbbing heart of Arab nationalism, although, tragically, it came to symbolise in the recent years the deep divisions across the Middle East.

On the ground, besides the tragic loss of lives, Syria has gone through destruction on a colossal scale that would take decades to reverse. Nonetheless, a nascent opportunity arises here for Syria to climb out of the deep divisions and regain its regional standing.

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Lockerbie’s only convict may be exonerated posthumously

By Dr Mustafa Fetouri | MEMO | March 26, 2020

The only man to be convicted of the infamous Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, died in 2012 and protested his innocence until his final breath. His fellow Libyan and co-defendant, Lamin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted and is still living in Libya. The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988 killed all 259 passengers and crew on board as well as 11 people on the ground in the small Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Al-Megrahi was not alone in believing that he and his country were innocent of the crime. His family members are determined to clear his name if not prove his complete innocence. His son Ali is leading the family mission and told the BBC that his father was “innocent and had cared more about the victims than himself.”

The family has just won a huge victory with the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC) decision on 11 March that an appeal can be made to the High Court of Justiciary, Scotland’s highest criminal court. The SCCRC had to decide if there are grounds for a posthumous appeal on the basis of a possible miscarriage of justice, among other possibilities. The commission found sufficient grounds to question the 2001 trial that convicted Al-Megrahi. Six grounds for review were considered before it was concluded that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred by reason of “unreasonable verdict” and “non-disclosure”.

This specifically raised serious doubts about the process by which Al-Megrahi was identified and linked to clothes found in the suitcase said to have contained the bomb. According to the SCCRC, “No reasonable trial court could have accepted that Mr. Megrahi was identified as the purchaser.”

The only witness to link Al-Megrahi to the clothes was a Maltese shop keeper named Toni Gauci, who died in 2016. He was a co-owner of a clothes shop in Malta and he testified that he sold the clothes to Al-Megrahi, who denied vehemently that he had ever been to the shop let alone bought anything from the witness. During the trial, this testimony was central to Al-Megrahi’s conviction, although the crown prosecutor, Lord Advocate Peter Frasier, later completely dismissed Gauci as “an apple short of a picnic” and “not quite the full shilling”. Why he accepted his testimony at the special court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in the first place is still a mystery. Could it have been a conspiracy against Muammar Gaddafi and Libya, as the late Libyan leader always claimed? He is not alone in thinking so.

Law Professor Robert Black, who came up with the idea of holding Al-Megrahi’s trial in a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands — the first such occasion in history – now talks of a wider conspiracy to frame Libya. “I think the Scottish prosecution was from the start excessively influenced by the US Department of Justice, FBI and CIA,” Black told me this week when I asked about this possibility. In the late eighties, the US hated Gaddafi for his unrelenting opposition to America’s policies in the Arab world and beyond. He was accused of so many terrorist acts around the world that adding Lockerbie to the list would have been neither difficult to do nor easy to dispute; western media and politicians already projected Gaddafi as a monster capable of any and every evil.

Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, 23 April 2017 [Twitter]

It later emerged that Toni Gauci received $2 million in return for his testimony against Al-Megrahi before he disappeared from Malta altogether. Many experts think that he was coached on his story to be as convincing as possible. Under Scottish law, it is illegal to reward or coach witnesses in any legal proceedings.

According to Professor Black, the High Court of Judiciary could return its verdict before the 32nd anniversaries of the atrocity on 21 December this year. Meticulous as ever, the now retired professor thinks the court is likely to quash the original verdict and thus exonerate the late Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi posthumously. If that happens, he believes that Al-Megrahi’s family would be “entitled to claim compensation for wrongful imprisonment.” The convicted man spent eight years in prison after his conviction on 31 January 2001 before being released in 2009 on compassionate grounds as he was terminally ill with prostate cancer. However, warned Black, any such claim is likely to be resisted strongly.

At this stage we might feel entitled to ask what should happen to Libya if the verdict goes the way that Al-Megrahi’s family hope. The North African country had to endure crippling economic sanctions imposed by a series of UN Security Council resolutions starting with Resolution 731 passed on 21 March 1992. If Al-Megrahi is vindicated, might Libya also be vindicated and possibly claim compensation for the damage caused by the sanctions? Can it ask for the reimbursement of $2.7 billion paid to victims’ families? Even though the country accepted responsibility for the actions of its “officials” — Al-Megrahi and Fhimah, who was station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines in Malta at the time of the bombing — the money was paid as part of the requirements of the UN Resolutions.

Whatever the Scottish High Court of Justiciary decides later this year, many think that Al-Megrahi and Libya are already exonerated by the fact that the SCCRC has raised serious doubts about the trial and its verdict. Given the obvious US links to the case, it is interesting to note that current US Attorney General William Barr was the acting Attorney General who indicted the two Libyans in 1991. What will he have to say when the Court in Scotland returns its verdict?

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , | 1 Comment

Sanders tells New York Times he would consider a preemptive strike against Iran or North Korea

By Jacob Crosse and Barry Grey | WSWS | February 14, 2020

Bernie Sanders has won the popular vote in both the New Hampshire and Iowa presidential primary contests in considerable part by presenting himself as an opponent of war. Following the criminal assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani last month, Sanders was the most vocal of the Democratic presidential aspirants in criticizing Trump’s action. His poll numbers have risen in tandem with his stepped-up anti-war rhetoric.

He has repeatedly stressed his vote against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, reminding voters in the Iowa presidential debate last month, “I not only voted against that war, I helped lead the effort against that war.”

However, when speaking to the foremost newspaper of the American ruling class, the New York Times, the Sanders campaign adopts a very different tone than that employed by the candidate when addressing the public in campaign stump speeches or TV interviews.

The answers provided by Sanders’ campaign to a foreign policy survey of the Democratic presidential candidates published this month by the Times provide a very different picture of the attitude of the self-styled “democratic socialist” to American imperialism and war. In the course of the survey, the Sanders campaign is at pains to reassure the military/intelligence establishment and the financial elite of the senator’s loyalty to US imperialism and his readiness to deploy its military machine.

Perhaps most significant and chilling is the response to the third question in the Times’ survey.

Question: Would you consider military force to pre-empt an Iranian or North Korean nuclear or missile test?

Answer: Yes.

A Sanders White House, according to his campaign, would be open to launching a military strike against Iran or nuclear-armed North Korea to prevent (not respond to) not even a threatened missile or nuclear strike against the United States, but a mere weapons test. This is a breathtakingly reckless position no less incendiary than those advanced by the Trump administration.

Sanders would risk a war that could easily involve the major powers and lead to a nuclear Armageddon in order to block a weapons test by countries that have been subjected to devastating US sanctions and diplomatic, economic and military provocations for decades.

Moreover, as Sanders’ response to the Times makes clear, the so-called progressive, anti-war candidate fully subscribes to the doctrine of “preemptive war” declared to be official US policy in 2002 by the administration of George W. Bush. An illegal assertion of aggressive war as an instrument of foreign policy, this doctrine violates the principles laid down at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi officials after World War II, the United Nations charter and other international laws and conventions on war. Sanders’ embrace of the doctrine, following in the footsteps of the Obama administration, shows that his opposition to the Iraq war was purely a question of tactics, not a principled opposition to imperialist war.

The above question is preceded by another that evokes a response fully in line with the war policies of the Obama administration, the first two-term administration in US history to preside over uninterrupted war.

Question: Would you consider military force for a humanitarian intervention?

Answer: Yes.

Among the criminal wars carried out by the United States in the name of defending “human rights” are the war in Bosnia and the bombing of Serbia in the 1990s, the 2011 air war against Libya that ended with the lynching of deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi, and the civil war in Syria that was fomented by Washington and conducted by its Al Qaeda-linked proxy militias.

The fraudulent humanitarian pretexts for US aggression were no more legitimate than the lie of “weapons of mass destruction” used in the neo-colonial invasion of Iraq. The result of these war crimes has been the destruction of entire societies, the death of millions and dislocation of tens of millions more, along with the transformation of the Middle East into a cauldron of great power intervention and intrigue that threatens to erupt into a new world war.

Sanders fully subscribes to this doctrine of “humanitarian war” that has been particularly associated with Democratic administrations.

In response to a question from the Times on the assassination of Suleimani, the Sanders campaign calls Trump’s action illegal, but refuses to take a principled stand against targeted assassinations in general and associates itself with the attacks on Suleimani as a terrorist.

The reply states:

Clearly there is evidence that Suleimani was involved in acts of terror. He also supported attacks on US troops in Iraq. But the right question isn’t ‘was this a bad guy,’ but rather ‘does assassinating him make Americans safer?’ The answer is clearly no.

In other words, the extra-judicial killing of people by the US government is justified if it makes Americans “safer.” This is a tacit endorsement of the policy of drone assassinations that was vastly expanded under the Obama administration—a policy that included the murder of US citizens.

At another point, the Times asks:

Would you agree to begin withdrawing American troops from the Korean peninsula?

The reply is:

No, not immediately. We would work closely with our South Korean partners to move toward peace on the Korean peninsula, which is the only way we will ultimately deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.

Sanders thus supports the continued presence of tens of thousands of US troops on the Korean peninsula, just as he supports the deployment of US forces more generally to assert the global interests of the American ruling class.

On Israel, Sanders calls for a continuation of the current level of US military and civilian aid and opposes the immediate return of the US embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

On Russia, he entirely supports the Democratic Party’s McCarthyite anti-Russia campaign and lines up behind the right-wing basis of the Democrats’ failed impeachment drive against Trump:

Question: If Russia continues on its current course in Ukraine and other former Soviet states, should the United States regard it as an adversary, or even an enemy?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Should Russia be required to return Crimea to Ukraine before it is allowed back into the G-7?

Answer: Yes.

Finally, the Times asks the Sanders campaign its position on the National Security Strategy announced by the Trump administration at the beginning of 2018. The new doctrine declares that the focus of American foreign and military strategy has shifted from the “war on terror” to the preparation for war against its major rivals, naming in particular Russia and China.

In the following exchange, Sanders tacitly accepts the great power conflict framework of the National Security Strategy, attacking Trump from the right for failing to aggressively prosecute the conflict with Russia and China:

Question: President Trump’s national security strategy calls for shifting the focus of American foreign policy away from the Middle East and Afghanistan, and back to what it refers to as the ‘revisionist’ superpowers, Russia and China. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Answer: Despite its stated strategy, the Trump administration has never followed a coherent national security strategy. In fact, Trump has escalated tensions in the Middle East and put us on the brink of war with Iran, refused to hold Russia accountable for its interference in our elections and human rights abuses, has done nothing to address our unfair trade agreement with China that only benefits wealthy corporations, and has ignored China’s mass internment of Uighurs and its brutal repression of protesters in Hong Kong. Clearly, Trump is not a president we should be taking notes from. [Emphasis added].

In a recent interview Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressman and national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, assured Atlantic writer Uri Friedman that Sanders would continue provocative “freedom of the seas” navigation operations in the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea, while committing a Sanders administration to “maintain some [troop] presence” on the multitude of bases dotting “allied” countries from Japan to Germany.

Millions of workers, students and young people are presently attracted to Sanders because they have come to despise and oppose the vast social inequality, brutality and militarism of American society and correctly associate these evils with capitalism. However, they will soon learn through bitter experience that Sanders’s opposition to the “billionaire class” is no more real than his supposed opposition to war. His foreign policy is imperialist through and through, in line with the aggressive and militaristic policy of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration.

The Democrats’ differences with Trump on foreign policy, though bitter, are tactical. Both parties share the strategic orientation of asserting US global hegemony above all through force of arms.

No matter how much Sanders blusters about inequality, it is impossible to oppose the depredations of the ruling class at home while supporting its plunder and oppression abroad.

Sanders is no more an apostle of peace than he is a representative of the working class. Both in foreign and domestic policy, he is an instrument of the ruling class for channeling the growing movement of the working class and opposition to capitalism back behind the Democratic Party and the two-party system of capitalist rule in America.

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , , , , | 6 Comments