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NATO’s Dead?

If so, who killed it: Obama, Putin, Or Trump?

By Andrew Korbyko – InfoRoss – 06.07.2018

NATO, as the world knew it, is dead, and the organization’s demise is attributable to the combination of President Putin’s deft diplomacy in advancing the Russian-Turkish rapprochement and his American counterpart’s revolutionary reconceptualization of the very essence of the alliance, both of which wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Obama.

NATO, as it was previously conceived of for decades, is dead, and while it might be reborn in a different format sometime in the future, its previous model has exhausted its purpose and is entering into the dustbin of history. The organization still officially exists, but everything about it is changing to the point where it might soon become unrecognizable. The consistently anti-Russian driving force behind the bloc has been decisively neutralized by President Putin’s deft diplomacy in winning over its second-largest military member, Turkey, as Russia’s newest strategic partner, while Trump’s revolutionary reconceptualization of the alliance as an equal collection of states combating the asymmetrical security challenges of terrorism and illegal migration will fundamentally transform what it means to be a NATO member.

The Shadow Of Obama

Before going through the post-mortem in detail, it’s worthwhile to describe how Obama’s shadow hangs heavy in the sense that he orchestrated the three greatest mistakes that inadvertently led to NATO’s demise. The 2011 NATO War on Libya has the chance of being seen in hindsight as the final flash of a fast- fading star, with its “shock-and-awe” destruction of the former Jamahiriya going down in history as perhaps the last real instance of the bloc’s members working in coordination with one another to conventionally wage war against a targeted state. The self-congratulatory pomp that followed this brief military campaign has since been proven to have been premature because of the country’s ongoing civil war and role as a transit state for facilitating the flood of hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe, which sparked its own crisis that has since led to the rise of EuroRealist populists in the continent.

In addition, the Libyan model of Hybrid War destabilization was also applied to Syria, albeit minus the final conventional warfare form, and this exacerbated the Migrant Crisis to the point of no return in guaranteeing the inevitable rise of right-wing politicians in Europe. Taken together, the Wars on Libya and Syria, waged in different manners but nevertheless following the same neo-imperialist regime change form, generated unprecedented humanitarian blowback to the point of triggering far-reaching political changes in NATO’s EU members, making many of them reconsider the official anti-Russian purpose of the bloc when it could be better put to use in defending the organization’s southern shores from swarms of migrants. For as “constructive” of an idea as this may have been, it led to deep divisions within the EU itself between the pro-migrant Western countries, the anti-migrant Central & Eastern European ones, and the anti-Russian Baltic States, Poland, and Romania.

While these intra-NATO disagreements were percolating, Obama made another massive mistake in giving the greenlight for the failed pro-American coup attempt against Turkish President Erdogan in the summer of 2016, and the blowback from this sloppy operation was almost instantaneous in making the bloc’s second-largest military deeply suspicious of US intentions from then on out. Although Turkey had hitherto been mostly focused on facilitating American strategic objectives in the Mideast (which for the most part were disadvantageous to Russia’s long-term regional vision), its unchanging geopolitical position as an irreplaceable part of NATO’s anti-Russian “containment” policy was thought to have retained a consistent function that had been taken completely for granted up until that point. That was a huge error, as will be seen, because President Putin’s deft diplomacy succeeded in its judo-like maneuver to flip Turkey from an enemy into a partner.

Putin’s Judo

Taking advantage of President Erdogan’s understandable distrust of what he had presumed was his country’s closest ally, President Putin reached out to extend his support for the embattled Turkish leader in demonstrating which of the two Great Powers really had Ankara’s best interests in mind. It shouldn’t be forgotten that unconfirmed reports also alleged that Russian intelligence might have tipped President Erdogan off right before a fighter jet flown by one of the coup conspirators was set to bomb his residence, therefore saving his life and sealing a new bond of friendship between both countries. It might never be known whether that actually happened or not, but in any case, the Russian-Turkish rapprochement that followed soon thereafter was swift and even saw Moscow passively accepting Ankara’s limited “Euphrates Shield” incursion into northern Syria later that summer, something that would have been utterly unthinkable just a few months prior.

The revival of the Turkish Stream pipeline project and a related agreement on nuclear energy cooperation served as physical testimonies to the strength of the Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership, which went one dramatic step much further in officially including a military dimension per Ankara’s desire to buy Moscow’s state-of-the-art S-400 air & missile defense system despite Washington’s threats to sanction it if the deal goes through. In the course of less than two years, President Putin’s deft diplomacy flipped the tables on the previous US-Turkish Strategic Partnership by replacing America with Russia and totally changing the overall dynamics of Mideast geopolitics. The de-facto removal of NATO’s second-largest military force from the organization, which is essentially the true state of affairs at the moment given Ankara’s planned S-400 military cooperation with Moscow and Washington’s CAATSA sanction threats, dealt a heavy blow to the bloc from which it has yet to recover.

Decades’ worth of strategic planning that went into using Turkey as a bulwark against the spread of Russian influence towards the Mediterranean are now worthless after Ankara has for all intents and purposes turned its back on the bloc out of protest of the US’ role in the failed summer 2016 coup attempt. The organization can no longer count on the cornerstone of its Mideast, Black Sea, and Eastern Mediterranean policies, and this has inevitably led to the alliance having to reinvent itself. As it happened, this took place concurrent with the rapid politicization of the Migrant Crisis and its resultant intra-NATO/-EU disputes about how best to respond to this civilizational challenge, further exacerbating divisions within the West and making Turkey’s “defection” (brought about through President Putin’s masterful diplomacy) all the more impactful of a destabilizing move for the already confused alliance.

Trump’s Turnaround

The last and most powerful factor that contributed to the death of NATO was Trump himself, who decided to turn everything around and reorient the bloc from its official anti-Russian purpose by transforming it into something entirely different. It’s true that some of the anti-Russian functions will still remain because of the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania’s membership as “frontline states”, but Trump’s vision is to use NATO as a platform for responding more to asymmetrical security threats such as terrorism and illegal immigration instead of conventional ones like Russia was portrayed as being since the organization’s inception. Words are one thing, but transforming them through action is another, and it’s here where Trump is “walking the walk” much more than “talking the talk” like his predecessors did in visibly pressuring his “allies” to contribute their required 2% of GDP towards defense like they were always supposed to do to begin with.

Trump, being the successful businessman that he is, can’t fathom why the US should subsidize the EU’s “socialist welfare states” especially given that the “foreboding challenge” of a “Soviet invasion” no longer makes that necessary like it may have once. Seeing world affairs from an economic perspective and therefore perceiving the EU to be America’s rival in this respect, Trump knows that the best way to “level the playing field” and “get a better deal” is to put pressure on America’s military underlings by compelling them to pay more for defense in order to advance their interests in a reconceptualized NATO, with this being coordinated alongside the US’ campaign to get the EU to lift its anti-American tariffs. The knock-on effect of this “double whammy” could hit the Europeans’ economic growth and possibly compel them into “cutting a deal’ of some sort for relief, one which can only be speculated upon at this time but which would undoubtedly strengthen American influence.

Far from representing the “united” West that NATO did during the Old Cold War and the brief period of unipolarity that followed, the New Cold War has seen the bloc weakened from within because of the blowback caused by Obama’s disastrous Wars on Libya & Syria as well as the failed pro-American coup attempt against President Erdogan in summer 2016.

President Putin skillfully exploited the latter in rapidly turning Turkey into a close partner and convincing it that its future interests are best served by keeping the bloc at arm’s length, while Trump dealt the deathblow against the alliance for his own reasons mainly having to do with a different view on contemporary security challenges and his economically driven vision of foreign affairs. While the shell of NATO still exists, its functional capacities are now divided into different regional blocs mostly constituting the new anti-migrant European Intervention Force in Western Europe and the remaining anti-Russian forces in the East, though Turkey’s de-facto “defection” means that the organization will never be the same as before.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Trump, No Clinton, No NATO

By Craig Murray | July 7, 2018

Marina Hyde’s vicious and spiteful attack on Susan Sarandon and the Green Party points to the real danger of anti-Trump protest next week being hijacked by the neo-con warmonger franchise. The idea that those of us who do not want arch warmonger Clinton in power are therefore supporters of Trump is intellectually risible and politically dishonest.

Yesterday the OPCW reported that, contrary to US and UK assertions in the UN security council, there was no nerve agent attack on jihadist-held Douma by the Syrian government, precisely as Robert Fisk was execrated by the entire media establishment for pointing out. The OPCW did find some traces of chlorine compounds, but chlorine is a very commonly used element and you have traces of it all over your house. The US wants your chicken chlorinated. The OPCW said it was “Not clear” if the chlorine was weaponised, and it is plain to me from a career in diplomacy that the almost incidental mention is a diplomatic sop to the UK, US and France, which are important members of the OPCW.

Trump’s reaction to yet more lying claims by the UK government funded White Helmets and Syrian Observatory, a reaction of missile strikes on alleged Syrian facilities producing the non-existent nerve agent, was foolish. May’s leap for British participation was unwise, and the usual queue of Blairites who stood up as always in Parliament to support any bombing action, stand yet again exposed as evil tools of the military industrial complex.

Hillary Clinton, true to form, wanted more aggressive military action than was undertaken by Trump. Hillary has been itching to destroy Syria as she destroyed Libya. Libya was very much Hillary’s war and – almost unreported by the mainstream media – NATO bombers carried out almost 14,000 bombing sorties on Libya and devastated entire cities.

Sirte, Libya, after NATO bombing

The destruction of Libya’s government and infrastructure directly caused the Mediterranean boat migrant crisis, which has poisoned the politics of much of the European Union.

Donald Trump has not started any major war. He has been more restrained in military action than any US President since Jimmy Carter. My own view is (and of course it is impossible to know for sure) that, had Hillary been in power, Syria would already have been totally destroyed, the Cold War with Russia would be at mankind threatening levels, and nuclear tension with North Korea would be escalating.

“He hasn’t destroyed mankind yet” is faint praise for anyone. Being less of an existential danger to mankind than Hillary Clinton is a level achieved by virtually the entire population of the planet. I am not supporting Trump. I am condemning Clinton. I too, like Susan Sarandon, would have voted for Jill Stein were I an American.

So do protest against Trump. But do so under the banner No Trump! No Clinton! No NATO! And if any Clintonite or Blairite gets up to address you, tell them very loudly where to get off. I remember the hijacking of the Make Poverty History campaign by Brown, Darling and Campbell on behalf of their banker friends. Don’t let that happen again.

Or here is an even better idea.

Escape the Trump visit completely. Rather than stand penned in and shouting slogans at a police van parked right in front of you, turn your back on all of that and come join me at the Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival from 13 to 15 July. As our regulars know, this blog has been intimately connected with running the Festival from the start. This year is much bigger, with the Levellers, Akala, Atari Teenage Riot, Peatbog Faeries, and literally scores of other bands, and a great array of other festival activities too, including for kids, who come free and get free drinks.

DTRH has no sponsorship, no advertising, no government money and no rip-offs – beer and cider from £3.50 a pint at the bars. It is very much an alternative lifestyle gathering, and I find spiritual renewal there in the glorious Stirlingshire countryside. (I know that sounds corny, but I do). Tickets are £90 for full weekend including camping, which I think makes it the cheapest festival on this level around. Or you can buy a cheaper day ticket and drop in just for the day. If tickets are too expensive or you fancy a different kind of fun, you can volunteer, including to come and work with me in the bar, though there are a whole range of other tasks to be done if you don’t fancy that. Volunteers get in free and get fed in return for one six hour shift a day.

I really do hope I will see some of you there – it looks set to be a glorious weekend. Forget stress, forget Trump and hang out with nice people!

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYT Examines How History Impacts Korean Talks–but Its Own Memory Is Fuzzy

By Jim Naureckas | FAIR | April 30, 2018

In a New York Times news analysis (4/29/18) examining how the overthrow of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi after he agreed to halt his nuclear program might influence North Korean thinking about disarmament, the TimesPeter Baker writes that “President Barack Obama and European allies launched military action against Libya in 2011 to prevent a threatened massacre of civilians.” Later, Baker recounts that Gadhafi “vowed to crush his opponents, including civilians, prompting Mr. Obama and European allies to intervene to stop him.”

But did Gadhafi actually threaten to massacre civilians? A radio broadcast by the Libyan leader in which he declared he would show “no mercy” in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi was offered as justification for the UN Security Council vote that authorized “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. “Gadhafi Vows ‘No Mercy’ as UN Eyes Action,” was how AP  (3/17/11) reported on the Security Council deliberations.

But when the New York Times (3/17/11) itself reported on the speech, it described it as a threat against rebel combatants, not against civilians: Gadhafi “promised amnesty for those ‘who throw their weapons away’ but ‘no mercy or compassion’ for those who fight,” the Times’ David Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim reported.

The myth that Gadhafi had openly threatened civilians and thus necessitated international military intervention sprang up quickly as the US and its NATO allies launched an attack on Libya’s government. “What obviously changed [Obama’s] mind” about using force, reported the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman (4/3/11), “was the fear that Moammar Gadhafi was bent on mass slaughter — which stemmed from Gadhafi’s March 17 speech vowing ‘no mercy’ for his enemies.” But the claims that Gadhafi was intending to slaughter tens or hundreds of thousands were, wrote Chapman, outlandish scenarios that go beyond any reasonable interpretation of Gadhafi’s words. He said, “We will have no mercy on them”—but by “them,” he plainly was referring to armed rebels (“traitors”) who stand and fight, not all the city’s inhabitants.

Elsewhere in his Times article, Baker refers to the nuclear deal Iran made with the United States:

Iran was not known to have weapons but did have a nuclear program that seemed intended to develop them when it signed an agreement with Mr. Obama’s administration in 2015 to give up its program.

This too contradicts earlier New York Times reporting: “American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb,” wrote James Risen and Mark Mazzetti (2/24/12), under the headline “US Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.” They reported that US intelligence agencies were standing by their 2007 assessment that “Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier.”

Baker’s piece ends with the observation that “each side sees its own very different lessons” from the Libyan history. It’s easier to draw correct lessons from history when the paper of record reports history as it happened.


You can send a message to the New York Times at letters@nytimes.com  (or via Twitter:@NYTimes). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

5 Decades of Lies and War — when will Americans wake up?

Carey Wedler | April 12, 2018

From Vietnam to Syria, if they aren’t lying, they’re grossly incompetent (they’re both). Neither deserves your support.

Find me on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/CareyWedler/
Instagram & Twitter: @CareyWedler

April 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

‘I give you 24 hours to resign’: 1st OPCW chief on how John Bolton bullied him before Iraq War

RT | April 7, 2018

The first OPCW chief, who tried to bring Iraq and Libya into the organization, told RT how US foreign policy hawk John Bolton threatened him over his refusal to resign prior to the 2003 Iraq War.

Jose Bustani, the first director-general of the global chemical weapons watchdog Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), sat down with RT and revealed how John Bolton, a Bush-era official and now Donald Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, bulldozed the way for the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat, led the organization from 1997 until 2002, when he was ousted after falling out of favor with the US. At the time, he was trying to convince Iraq and Libya to join the organization, meaning that the two countries would have been obliged to dispose of all chemical weapons if they had any.

He said that according to reliable intelligence he had as director-general, “it was obvious that during the first Iraq War everything had been destroyed [by Iraq],” and there was “nothing left for Iraq to be accused of possessing chemical weapons.”

In 2001, OPCW inspectors examined Iraqi facilities, and it was “a successful operation,” after which Bustani’s informal dialogue with the Iraqis and Libyans about joining the organization made a breakthrough, he recalled.

But diplomatic efforts and peacemaking did not sit well with Washington, because “they had plans already to take some action – military action – against Iraq,” Bustani claims. Shortly afterwards, the Bush administration began to aggressively lobby for his removal, and it became “a tragic story” for him, he said.

“I got a phone call from John Bolton – it was first time I had contact with him – and he said he had instructions to tell me that I have to resign from the organization, and I asked him why,” Bustani told RT. “He said that [my] management style was not agreeable to Washington.”

He resolutely refused to resign, only to see Bolton again at OPCW headquarters in The Hague several weeks after the phone conversation. “He came to my office and said: ‘You have to resign and I give you 24 hours, this is what we want. You have to leave, you have to resign from your organization, director-general.'”

Bustani said he “owed nothing” to the US, pointing out that he was appointed by all OPCW member states. Striking a more sinister tone, Bolton said: “OK, so there will be retaliation. Prepare to accept the consequences. We know where your kids are.”

According to Bustani, two of his children were in New York at the time, and his daughter was in London. He told Bolton: “My family is aware of what’s going on, so [they’re] prepared to face consequences.” The reply shocked Bolton, who then left the office.

On April 21, 2002, a special meeting was finally held in The Hague, and Bustani’s removal was carried out by a vote of 48–7, with 43 abstentions. The diplomat said those who abstained were from developing countries, and that his own government in Brazil “left me behind.”

“He’s not a man you can have a dialogue with,” Bustani said when asked about his opinion on the newly-appointed National Security Adviser. “On the basis of my own experience, I don’t believe that Mr. Bolton is capable of being a National Security Adviser to any government of the United States.”

Bolton, who was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security in the Bush administration from 2002-2004, and ambassador to the UN, “has prejudices, he made a number of announcements that are worrisome,” including on North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

The latter is critical, Bustani says, “because it could be a new Iraq with much more serious consequences with impact on the whole Middle East today.

“And I believe that, as a result of the Iraqi invasion, for example, you have today Daesh [Arabic acronym for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS)] and… different fanatic Islamic movements” tearing the region apart.

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The UK Government – and Not Russia – is the Real Threat to UK Security

By Neil Clark | Sputnik | April 2, 2018

Here we go again. In the UK government’s latest 52 page ’National Security Capability Review’, guess who’s right there at the top of the threats Britain faces? Yes – those dastardly Russians!

‘The resurgence of state-based threats, intensifying wider state competition and the erosion of the rules-based international order, making it harder to build consensus and tackle global threats’, the report says. ‘The erosion of the rules-based international order’? Excuse me? Didn’t that happen when the UK and its NATO allies bombed Yugoslavia- without UNSC approval in 1999- and when the UK and its allies illegally invaded Iraq — again without UNSC approval- in 2003?

According to the report, those events just didn’t happen. Instead ‘Russian State Aggression’ is the thing we should all be worried about. The long litany of alleged Russian crimes include ‘supporting the Assad regime‘ and the ‘illegal annexation of Crimea’. Never mind that the so-called ‘Assad regime‘ requested Russian assistance in fighting ISIS [Daesh]/al-Qaeda linked jihadists whose co-ideologists have brought terror to the streets of Britain.

Nor that the predominately Russian people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly in a democratic referendum to return to Russia following a western-backed regime change operation in Ukraine in which virulently anti-Russian nationalists and neo-Nazis provided the cutting edge. Let’s not let little things like facts get in the way shall we?

Despite the British government providing no proof that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, or indeed that the Novichok nerve agent was definitely used, the report states boldly: The indiscriminate and reckless use of a military-grade nerve agent on British soil was an unlawful use of force by the Russian State.

The truth is that the official government narrative on Salisbury has more holes in it than a slab of Swiss cheese.

And that was before we were told last week that the oh-so-deadly nerve agent was probably on the Skripal’s front door- the door which police officers had been touching on a regular basis as they came in and out of the house.

As in 2003, with the UK government’s Iraqi WMD claims, a conspiracy theory is being presented as 100% established fact.

Everything is back to front. We’ve entered the ‘Through the Looking Glass’ world of Lewis Carroll- where we‘re being asked by Theresa May and co to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

Far from posing a threat to British security, Russian actions in the Middle East are actually making British citizens safer. It’s the UK government which has been putting our lives at risk- not the ‘evil Putin‘.

The UK‘s neo-conservative foreign policy — which has been followed by Labour and Conservative governments over the past 20-or so years, has involved targeting independently-minded secular states for violent regime change. None of these states threatened Britain or the British public. On the contrary, they were actually opposed to the extremist terror groups who DO pose a threat. By working to destabilise countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria, the UK government has greatly boosted the cause of global terrorism.

Saddam Hussein may have been a dictator but he was never going to attack Britain. By toppling the Iraqi strongman, and dismantling the entire state apparatus, Britain facilitated the rise of the Islamic State [Daesh] — a group whose adherents have carried out attacks against UK citizens.

In Libya, Britain — and NATO acted as the air-force of radical jihadist groups — as part of their strategy to oust Muammar Gaddafi. Members of the so-called Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were able to travel freely between Britain and Libya. ‘The evidence points to the LIFG being seen by the UK as a proxy militia to promote its foreign policy objectives,’ writes Mark Curtis. ‘Both David Cameron, then Prime Minister, and Theresa May — who was Home Secretary in 2011 when Libyan radicals were encouraged to fight Qadafi — clearly have serious questions to answer.’

The first major ‘blowback’ to British citizens of the UK government‘s Libya policy came in 2015, when British tourists were killed by terrorist attacks in neighbouring Tunisia. One was killed in an attack on the Bardo National Museum in March 2015, while three months later, 30 British tourists lost their lives in the holiday resort of Port El Kantaoui. Among those killed was Denis Thwaites, a former professional footballer with Birmingham City. Tunisia had been a safe place for British tourists — before Cameron and co set about ‘regime-changing’ Libya and turning the country into a jihadists playground. It was reported that the Port El Kantaoui terrorist, Seifeddine Rezgui, had trained in an ISIS camp in ‘liberated’ Libya.

Then in May 2017, 22 people were blown up when leaving a pop concert in Manchester by Salman Abedi. The radicalised bomber had only returned from ‘liberated’ Libya a week earlier and is believed to have fought with his father with the LIFG, against Gaddafi — (and on the same side as NATO), six years earlier.

Again, remind me who is the biggest threat to UK security — the UK government — or Russia?

Having ticked off Libya from their ‘To Do’ list, the neocons in the UK government turned their attentions to Syria. Again, here was a country whose secular government posed no threat to the UK. President Bashar al-Assad, who trained as an eye doctor in London and whose wife Asma was born in England and brought up in Acton, could have been an ally, if the UK had been genuinely interested in fighting Islamist terrorism. But instead the UK supported hardcore Islamists, euphemistically referred to as ‘rebels‘ to try and bring down the Assad government.In June 2015, Seumas Milne reported how a trial in London of a man accused of terrorism in Syria had collapsed — when it emerged that British Intelligence had been backing the very same ‘rebel‘ groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

‘Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much,’ Milne noted. But it was not an isolated case.

The government is now talking about a new ‘Fusion Doctrine’ to ‘strengthen our collective approach to national security’. But here’s a better strategy. Let’s change our foreign policy. Let’s stop regime-change wars and destabilisation campaigns against countries which mean us no harm. Let’s stop supporting jihadist ‘rebels’ abroad in pursuance of neo-conservative objectives. Let’s start respecting international law. And let’s stop blaming Russia for problems which have been created at home.

April 3, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Libya: 7 Years since February 17

By Yuriy Zinin – New Eastern Outlook – 17.02.2018

On February 17 it will be 7 years since the start of the events in Libya which led to the overthrow of its leader – Muammar Gaddafi. These years have been full of dramatic and often bloody events, which, according to a number of different indices (effective sovereignty, stability, commercial activity etc.), have left the country much worse off.

Since 2014 the country has been in chaotic situation- divided into two sectors, with opposing capitals in Tripoli and Tobruk, each of which have their own government, parliament, and security services. The balance of power between them is changing.

In the last year the area controlled by the National Army, led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar (i.e. the eastern, or Tobruk, sector) has expanded. That sector includes the ‘oil crescent’ (the oil wells and the main ports for oil exports). The Government of National Accord, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, has an unsteady hold over the country.

For three years the United Nations and a number of neighboring Arab countries have tried, without success, to persuade the two opposing parties to comply with the peace agreement that they signed in Morocco (which called for the creation of unified national transitional state structures, elections to the new parliament etc.) The Shkirat Agreement expired at the end of 2017.

Many experts consider that the negotiators meeting to discuss issues arising from the treaty lack the authority to make any decisions, and the military groups who they represent are heterogenous, each split into a number of camps, divided along regional and tribal lines.

To save the negotiating process, the UN special representative for Libya, Hasan Salam has presented a three-stage plan for the next year. He proposed that the Shkirat Agreement be amended, the Tripoli-based government be restructured, a constitution be drawn up and elections be held in the new parliament.

The question is, how can fair, impartial and democratic elections be held, when there are two governments? And how important are elections to the average Libyan, living in a delicate security situation and suffering from disorder and social and economic problems?

The falling value of the Libyan dinar and annual inflation of 30% are causing a fall in his standard of living. Before the revolution a dinar could be exchanged for three dollars and at its highest level Libyans looked down on the ‘green dollar’ with contempt. Now one dollar can be exchanged in the market for 9 Libyan dinars.

This is genuinely resulting in an increase in prices, as the majority of goods, especially food, are imported. Libyans are faced with the curse of cash shortages, queues in banks, power cuts, deteriorating services etc.

All these problems are the result of the collapse of Libya’s economy and manufacturing sector. According to Mustafa Sanalla, the president of the National Oil Corporation, Libya has lost $180 billion since 2011 because of the actions of various militias in the regions where oil is extracted, refined and transported.

In 2017 Libya received $14 billion from oil sales, three times more than in the previous year. But in 2010, the year before the revolution, oil exports brought approximately $47 billion into the national budget. It is true that recently the amount of ‘black gold’ extracted has increased to 1 million barrels a day, but this is still below the pre-revolution level of 1.6 million barrels a day.

Out of the 150 countries listed in Forbes Magazine’s rating of the ‘Best Countries for Foreign Business’, Libya occupies the last but one position.

As a result of the above situation, people’s attitudes towards the ideals of the February revolution are changing. Today, in Libya’s political and media circles, a clear divide is being observed between so-called ‘Februarists’ and ‘Septemberists’.

The ‘Februarists’ are those who fully support the February 17 revolution, and are convinced that the ‘rebels against a despotic regime’ won a just victory.

Those who support the former Gaddafi regime are known as ‘Septemberists’, as it was the September Revolution that brought Gaddafi to power. The latter camp, shaking their heads in wonder, ask themselves whether it was worth shedding so much blood, losing lives and suffering a huge material loss, merely to end up in Libya’s current fragmented state.

Both of these schools of thought have their own liberal, Islamist, and secular factions. That is why many local political analysts are urging them to find common points of agreement, steer clear of extreme positions, and put the interests of their country above their own selfish political calculations and concerns.

For example, Fatima Hamroush a former minister in Libya’s first post-revolution government, called for the creation of an emergency cabinet made up of politicians with a wide range of affiliations, including former associates of Gaddafi (). That is despite the fact that Dr. Hamroush was at one time a fierce critic of the previous regime.

It appears possible that a political consensus, arrived at in accordance with the law, might be able to fill the current institutional vacuum. But Libyan society is still divided by the powerful shocks it suffered in a war involving NATO and other foreign powers, and during the period of sectarian conflict which followed.

Political circles are pulled apart by disagreement, and are kept hostage by mutual resentments, suspicions and hostilities that have built up over a number of years.

Yury Zinin, Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

The Battle of Khaled Al Hamedi, a Libyan Citizen, Against the Impunity of NATO

Internationalist 360° | January 27, 2108

In 2011, an Alliance bomber exterminated his family in Sorman, Libya.

Speaking at the Rimini meeting in the summer of 2017, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated several times that NATO works for peace and stability, with a shamelessness equal to the impunity enjoyed by the organization and its members.

To which NATO country did the bomber that exterminated the family of Khaled Al Hamedi on June 20, 2011 in Sorman, Libya belong?

“Only the NATO Alliance knows the country in question, and will not reveal it,” replies the Belgian lawyer Jan Fermon who represents Al Hamedi. The lifeless bodies of Khaled Al Hamedi’s pregnant wife, his children and other relatives and friends were removed from the rubble. Seven months – from March to September 2011 – the operation called “Unified Protector,” lasted in Libya, initiated thanks to the strategic use of false news and in the name of a new and instrumental international theory, the “responsibility to protect.”

The joint actions of NATO from the sky and the “rebels”, its allies on the ground, certainly resulted in thousands of dead and wounded among civilians. Think of the siege against Sirte and Bani Walid, the destruction of Tawergha (a city of Libyans of African origin, killed or deported by the armies of Misrata), the sub-Saharan workers who vanished while others were found among the bodies of the dead caught in the vortex of racist violence.

In July 2011, Tripoli presented a list with over a thousand names of victims. The process of assessment and verification of civilian casualties was interrupted by the “rebels” taking power, who then sabotaged all body count efforts.

Material and moral damages suffered by almost all victims would not have recognition or compensation even if international justice actually worked, rather than exempt the powerful as it does. But at least for certain events, legal avenues can be utilized and Khaled Al Hamedi embarked on this path of legal struggle in 2012 – so far without success.

He also created the NATO Victims Association (www.anvwl.com). The latest development was on November 23, 2017 when the Court of Appeal of Brussels (NATO is based in Belgium) responded negatively to the appeal of lawyer Jan Fermon: “The immunity of NATO has been confirmed.

A lost opportunity for a great step forward in the application of international law on human rights and international humanitarian law. But we will go on.” To a Martian, the immunity of an organization that bombards and therefore has the power of life and death throughout the world might seem strange. But so its founders decided with the Ottawa Treaty of 1951.

Immunity is combined with silence, and Fermon can not therefore act against the unknown country responsible for the bombing operation on Sorman. Khaled Al Hamedi called for Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for every citizen the right to access a court. A right, however, that may be subject to limitations, and the Court of Appeal reiterated it.

But would it not be able to raise the illegality of the NATO intervention in Libya, which went far beyond the dubious 1973 resolution of the Security Council that restricted the mandate to protect civilians?

“Yes,” the lawyer answers. “Launching such lawsuit on the political side makes things more difficult than if you stay on the ground of individual right. And then, even if the war were legal, the deliberate bombing of Sorman is still a war crime.”

So why not appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC-CPI), however notoriously partial?

“The Security Council Resolution 1970, in effect, formally entrusted the ICC with all crimes committed in Libya; but it is very clear that it was aimed only at Gaddafi. And then, the prosecutor often does not even initiate the investigation. There are very strong pressures.”

Therefore Khaled will perhaps adhere to the European Court of Human Rights, or try again with Belgian justice. So far, all attempts made to try the winners of the wars of aggression (the “supreme international crime” according to the definition given at Nuremberg) when they are conducted by the NATO-Gulf Axis, have been useless.

At most, and not in many cases, there have been provisions for small compensation for the suffering of the “collateral damage” of war, the surviving victims – in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

This is why, according to Jan Fermon, “the fight against impunity is above all a struggle by the peoples. It is political, even if it has to be translated into juridical principles.”


Note: This article first appeared in Italian in Il Manifesto

Read the Complete Interview: The Association of Victims of NATO in Libya Fights Against Impunity of the Powerful

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

NATO’s Fraudulent War on Behalf of Women

By George Szamuely | CounterPunch | January 9, 2018

In a recent Guardian article titled “Why NATO Must Defend Women’s Rights,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Soltenberg and Hollywood movie star Angelina Jolie assert that “NATO has the responsibility and opportunity to be a leading protector of women’s rights.” NATO, moreover, “can become the global military leader in how to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict.” The two vowed to identify “ways in which NATO can strengthen its contribution to women’s protection and participation in all aspects of conflict-prevention and resolution.”

The pairing of a NATO bureaucrat and a famous movie actress may at first glance appear odd. However, this partnership has been long in the making. Some years ago, NATO, always on the lookout for a reason to justify its continued existence, not to mention its perpetual expansion, came up with a new raison d’être: It would be the global champion of women. “Achieving gender equality is our collective task. And NATO is doing its part,” said Mari Skåre, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, in 2013. In March 2016, on International Women’s Day, NATO held a so-called “Barbershop Conference” on gender equality. Stoltenberg took the opportunity to declare that gender equality was a frightfully important issue for NATO because “NATO is a values-based organization and none of the Alliance’s fundamental values—individual liberties, democracy, human rights and the rule of law—work without equality.” Diversity was a source of strength. “We learned in Afghanistan and in the Balkans that by integrating gender within our operations, we make a tangible difference to the lives of women and children,” Stoltenberg explained. He stressed that NATO is proud of its record in embedding gender perspectives within its work. Last November, Stoltenberg was at it again: “Empowering women is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do: it makes countries safer and more stable. NATO is determined to make a difference.”

NATO has indeed made a difference but not through empowering women. When it isn’t bombing, killing, blowing up bridges and buildings, destroying wedding receptions, empowering jihadis, triggering refugee flows and ruining the lives of countless women, NATO holds unctuous press briefings, organizes self-congratulatory conferences and publishes articles such as the one by Stoltenberg/Jolie seeking to present a gargantuan 29-state military coalition as a do-gooder charity helping out the needy.

This is where Angelina Jolie comes in. Jolie is a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and, in that capacity, wanders around the world berating the “international community” for not doing enough to address humanitarian crises. Her take on these crises is invariably the same as that of NATO. “It is important that we intervene in a timely fashion,” she once explained, “diplomatically if we can, with force if we must.” In October 2011, following seven months of relentless NATO bombing, Jolie rushed to Libya and excitedly hailed the Libyan “revolution”:

I’m… here on behalf of the Libyan people to show them solidarity. I think this revolution on behalf of human rights, which is what I feel these people really have been doing and what they have pushed for, and to help them to implement these new laws and help them with the future of their country.

Sometimes it’s breathless enthusiasm for “revolution,” sometimes it’s tearful pleading for plain, old-fashioned “humanitarian intervention”—Angelina Jolie is nothing if not consistent in her advocacy for Western use of force. When it comes to Syria, Jolie has declared that “some form of intervention is absolutely necessary.” She sneered at the U.N. Security Council permanent members that stood in the way of intervention. “I feel very strongly that the use of a veto when you have financial interests in the country should be questioned and the use of a veto against humanitarian intervention should be questioned,” she said in an interview. Jolie was of course simply echoing the blustery words of the Obama administration. Recall Susan Rice’s tirade following Russia’s and China’s veto of a February 2012 Security Council resolution calling for Bashar al Assad to step aside and for the Syrian army to return to its barracks. Rice, then U.S. permanent representative at the U.N., called the vetoes “disgusting and shameful.” The countries “that have blocked potentially the last effort to resolve this peacefully…will have any future blood spill on their hands.”

This kind of attack on the veto-wielding Security Council members has become a staple of the humanitarian intervention crowd. For example, former French President François Hollande told the U.N. General Assembly in September 2013 that when mass atrocities were taking place, U.N. Security Council permanent members must give up their veto powers:

The U.N. has a responsibility to take action. And whenever our organization proves to be powerless, it’s peace that pays the price. That’s why I am proposing that a code of good conduct be defined by the permanent members of the Security Council, and that in the event of a mass crime they can decide to collectively renounce their veto powers.

Taking action, of course, means taking military action. It never means, say, the lifting of sanctions so that food, oil, medical supplies could get through. To the contrary, if military action is ruled out, the humanitarians immediately resort to demanding the tightening of sanctions. Interventionists such as Hollande, Rice, et al., never explain why it is necessary for U.N. permanent members to give up their veto if the right course of action is so self-evident. The unstated assumption obviously is that any reluctance to sanction the use of force must be motivated by moral failings such as greed, selfishness, political ambition or lack of compassion.

The heartlessness of the so-called international community was the message of the 2011 film she wrote and directed about the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, In the Land of Blood and Honey. The film, she said, points a “finger at the international community, which should have intervened in the Bosnian war was much sooner.” She proudly boasted that among the experts she consulted in making the film were Richard Holbrooke and Wesley Clark, two figures who played prominent roles in the devastation of Bosnia and Kosovo. The film, predictably, features villainous Serbs persecuting innocent Muslims. Asked whether her film should have been a little more balanced, Jolie replied “The fact is that the war was not balanced. I could not make a film where it’s 50-50. It’s inaccurate to what happened.” This is standard NATO stuff, particularly the part about NATO’s military intervention as having finally brought peace to Bosnia.

Jolie is useful to NATO not only because she can be relied on to echo the military alliance’s self-justifying rationales for its favored solution to any problem, namely, the threat to use force. Jolie’s is the glamorous face of NATO’s revamped PR campaign. NATO would have us believe that it’s not only bringing enlightenment to backward societies but also to us, NATO member-state citizens, by informing us about something of which we had hitherto been apparently unaware: sexual violence occurs during wartime. The obvious remedy—doing everything possible to avoid war—is not one that either NATO or Jolie favors. NATO can’t very well be expected to advocate itself out of existence. In NATOspeak you threaten and defend military action even as you bemoan in lachrymose terms its predictable consequences, namely, war crimes, including sexual crimes.

In April 2014, Jolie traipsed around the Balkans with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, visiting the Srebrenica memorial center in Potocari, Bosnia. During the visit, Jolie stated, “The use of rape as a weapon of war is one of the most harrowing and savage of these crimes against civilians. This is rape so brutal, with such extreme violence, that it is even hard to talk about it.” Hague and Jolie jointly launched a campaign called Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, the goal of which was “to address the culture of impunity, ensure more perpetrators are brought to justice and ensure better support for survivors. We’re campaigning to raise awareness, rally global action, promote international coherence and increase the political will and capacity of states to do more.”

Hague earnestly explained, “I started this campaign with Angelina Jolie because foreign policy has got to be about more than just dealing with urgent crises—it has to be about improving the condition of humanity.” Then Hague warmed to his theme: “Tens of thousands of women, girls and men were raped during the war in Bosnia. We are visiting to draw the world’s attention to their search for justice, and to call for global action to end the use of rape as a weapon of war once and for all.” In a BBC interview Hague claimed that sexual violence in conflict was “one of the great mass crimes of the 20th century and the 21st century…. If anything, this is getting worse—war zone rape as a weapon of war, used systematically and deliberately against civilian populations.”

Hague was of course British foreign secretary during NATO’s 2011 Libyan bombing campaign. It hardly needs to be said that NATO did nothing to help Libya’s women. To the contrary: Thousands of women lost their lives as a direct result of NATO and Hague’s humanitarian bombs. NATO destroyed government, law and public order, institutions that before its intervention had protected the women of Libya from sexual crimes. Most striking of all, NATO helped deliver perhaps millions of women into the hands of ISIS. Here is an account of the record of ISIS rule in Libya from Human Rights Watch (a reliably pro-interventionist outfit) in its 2017 country report on Libya: “In the first half of 2016, fighters loyal to ISIS controlled the central coastal town of Sirte and subjected residents to a rigid interpretation of Sharia law that included public floggings, amputation of limbs, and public lynchings, often leaving the victims’ corpses on display.”

Not to worry: In June 2014, Hague and Jolie co-hosted in London a grand three-day Global Summit to End Sexual Violence. Participants included Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. According to one report, the summit cost £5.2 million to host. The food bill alone was more than £299,000, while total expenditure on taxis, hotels and transport reached £576,000. Jolie declared:

We need to shatter that culture of impunity and make justice the norm, not the exception, for these crimes. We need political will, replicated across the world, and we need to treat this subject as a priority. We need to see real commitment and go after the worst perpetrators, to fund proper protection for vulnerable people, and to step in to help the worst-affected countries. We need all armies, peacekeeping troops and police forces to have prevention of sexual violence in conflict as part of their training.

Punishing the perpetrators of sexual violence sounds laudable enough. The trouble is that NATO’s record of making incendiary charges and then failing to back them up with serious evidence is not one that inspires confidence. During the Bosnian war, for example, the media reported obsessively on the use of rape as an instrument of war. In 1992, Dame Ann Warburton’s European parliamentary delegation estimated that 20,000 rapes had already taken place in Bosnia. In January 1993, Newsweek carried a lengthy cover-story charging Serbs with the rape of as many as 50,000 women, mostly Muslim, as part of “deliberate programs to impregnate Muslim women with unwanted Serb babies.”

Systematic research on the subject however resulted in findings that were insufficiently dramatic to make it into the papers. On Jan. 29, 1994, the U.N. secretary-general issued a report on rapes in the former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia and Croatia, based on a study by the U.N. Commission of Experts. The report found “126 victims, 113 incidents, 252 alleged perpetrators, 73 witnesses.” The report also stated “some of the rape cases” were “clearly the result of individual or small-group conduct without evidence of command responsibility. Others may be part of an overall pattern. Because of a variety of factors, such a pattern may lead to a conclusion that a systematic rape policy existed, but this remains to be proved.”

Allegations of mass rape were a key component of NATO’s propaganda campaign during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook regaled the public with lurid tales of Serbs forcing women “to endure ‘systematic rape’ at an army camp at Djakovica.” Clare Short, Britain’s international development secretary, added that the rapes were “deliberately performed in front of children, fathers and brothers.” The British Foreign Office followed up with claims of having discovered three more rape camps: “Refugees reported orchestrated rapes at Globocica, Urosevac and an unidentified point on the Kosovo-Albania border.” Subsequently, when it was too late to matter, the media sheepishly admitted that the rape-camp stories, like most of NATO’s allegations, were a fabrication. The Washington Post reported that “Western accusations that there were Serb-run rape camps in the cities of Djakovica and Pec, and poorly sourced allegations in some publications that the Serbs were engaging in the mutilation of the living and the dead—including castration and decapitation—all proved to be false.” Even Human Rights Watch’s Fred Abrahams, who had worked as an investigator for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, admitted in testimony that he had found no evidence to support the incendiary rape-camp allegations.

Still, NATO remained undeterred. During NATO’s next campaign, the one directed against Libya, rape stories made their appearance within days of the launch of the first bombs. Susan Rice, the U.S. Permanent Representative at the U.N., informed the Security Council that Libya’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, was supplying his troops with Viagra in order to help them commit mass rape. Though Rice offered no evidence to support her claims, her charge was sufficient for the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, to announce that he had “information to confirm that it was a policy in Libya to rape those who were against the Government. Rape is a new aspect of the repression.” Moreno-Ocampo even accepted as confirmed Rice’s Viagra story: “We are finding some elements confirming this issue of acquisition of Viagra-type of medicaments to show a policy. They were buying containers with products to enhance the possibility to rape, and we are getting the information in detail confirming the policy.”

In the end, predictably enough, NATO’s rape allegations turned out to have been made up out of whole cloth. Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty International, reported that the organization had “not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Rovera also dismissed the Viagra story. She said that “rebels dealing with the foreign media in Benghazi started showing journalists packets of Viagra, claiming they came from burned-out tanks, though it is unclear why the packets were not charred.”

Though one allegation after another has proved to be false, NATO will continue to make them, seizing on whatever is the hot-button issue of the moment. NATO does nothing for women and does nothing to stop sexual crimes, whether in NATO member-states or anywhere else in the world. What NATO does do well, thanks to its multimillion dollar sophisticated PR machinery, is seizing on highly emotional issues such as rape and turning them into justifications for bigger budgets, more weaponry, more expansion, more deployments in more countries and, in the end, military action.

George Szamuely, PhD, author of Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia, is Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute of London Metropolitan University.

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Yemen, Afghanistan in focus as landmine casualties spike

Press TV – December 14, 2017

Landmines killed 8,605 people in several countries in 2016, despite an international ban on the deadly device, a monitoring group says.

According to the annual report released Thursday by Landmine Monitor, about three-quarters of the known casualties were civilians, including more than 1,000 children who were injured and nearly 500 who were killed.

The number of the casualties — which were mostly recorded in Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen — showed a 30% surge compared to 2015.

“A few intense conflicts, where utter disregard for civilian safety persists, have resulted in very high numbers of mine casualties for the second year in a row,” Loren Persi, an editor of the Landmine Monitor said.

Persi described the spike as “alarming”, adding that the true number of the victims would be significantly higher if the data gathering were complete.

The surge comes after a 18-year decline in landmine casualties since the Mine Ban Treaty first came into force in 1999.

The treaty bans the use of landmines and other explosive devices placed on or under the ground, designed to blow up when somebody unintentionally steps on them.

These weapons can be continuously deadly weapons for many years, long after the war has ended. About 80% of landmine victims are civilians.

The Mine Ban Treaty, which has been signed by 163 countries, also bans production, stockpiling and transfer of the deadly landmines.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Putin goes to Cairo as Trump ties himself in knots

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | December 9, 2017

The United States’ self-goal on Jerusalem opens for Russia a window of opportunity to strengthen its standing as the most creative and positive player in the Middle East politics. Within four days of President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, President Vladimir Putin is undertaking unscheduled ‘working visits’ to Egypt and Turkey.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry issued a lengthy statement criticizing the US decision on Jerusalem and affirming that

  • We believe a fair and lasting solution to the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be based on international law, including UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that provide for settling all aspects of the final status of the Palestinian territories, including the highly delicate issue of Jerusalem, through direct Palestinian-Israeli talks. The United States’ new position on Jerusalem can further complicate Palestinian-Israeli relations and the situation in the region… Russia sees East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state and West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

Russia has positioned itself appropriately on the Arab Street. But the Jerusalem issue is not what is taking Putin to Cairo. The Kremlin readout flagged the need of “providing stability and security in the Middle East and North Africa.” Which means Libya, Sinai and Syria and to an extent Yemen – in that order, perhaps.

The point is, the ‘Libyan file’ has re-opened. The Islamic State is relocating in Libya after its crushing defeat in Iraq and Syria. Russia and Egypt sense the imperative need to mobilize quickly and confront the extremist groups in Libya. Both are supportive of the Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar who’s ensconced in Benghazi, whom they (rightly) see as a bulwark against violent extremism in Libya. The power vacuum in Libya and the growing insecurity in western Egypt threaten the stability of Egypt and President Sisi’s prestige is at stake. On the other hand, Egyptian involvement in Libya affects the balance of power in the Middle East. Interestingly, the Gulf monarchies are also involved in the Libyan crisis.

Enter Trump. The Libyan PM Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj visited the White House on December 1 and Trump discussed with him “opportunities for future partnerships” while emphasizing “America’s continued commitment to defeating ISIS and other jihadist terrorists in Libya” and “to work together to advance Libyan stability and unity.” On a parallel track, French President Emmanuel Macron had also hosted Sarraj in Paris. (Sarraj has an established reputation as the ‘Ashraf Ghani’ of the Maghreb – a politician imposed by western powers. Keeping Russia out of Libya is a key template of the western strategy (as is the case in Afghanistan.)

But Russia and Egypt have specific interests, too. Libya used to be a Soviet ally and it has a strategic Mediterranean location facing the NATO’s southern tier. As for Egypt, the instability in Libya spills over to Sinai Peninsula, which is already happening. Sisi’s ambition could be to create a sort of Egyptian protectorate in Cyrenaica against extremist groups. No doubt, with 1,200 kilometers of shared border with Libya, Egypt’s security concerns are legitimate.

Egypt is also a net importer of energy. Haftar controls the so-called oil crescent in Libya and the Russian oil giant Rosneft is back in Libya. Clearly, the energy platform provides a potentially lucrative 3-way cooperation between Russia, Haftar and Egypt – although secondary to the military and security dimension.

Prima facie, Moscow is deferring to the UN in key matters and is also engaging Sarraj’s government in Tripoli. Which suggests that Moscow may be positioning itself as a broker between Libya’s rival partners – Sarraj and Haftar, principally – and eventually to manoeuver itself to make up for the financial losses it suffered in 2011 following the regime change which is estimated to be in excess of $10 billion in railway contracts, construction projects, energy deals and arms sales.

But the West will be wary that Putin doesn’t do a Syria on them and checkmate them in Libya too. The Libyan situation has its specific features but big-power rivalry is accelerating. Washington may appear to be better placed in Libya, since the US’ NATO allies are stakeholders. But all bets are off when Putin enters the centre stage. For an effective Russian role in the military and security sphere to stabilize Libya, Moscow needs a regional partner. Putin enjoys excellent rapport with Sisi. Washington will be closely monitoring their talks in Cairo on Monday.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya and the silence of the humanitarian hawks

By Neil Clark  | RT | December 1, 2017

The reports that black Africans are being sold at slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya for as little as $400 is a terrible indictment of the so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’ carried out by NATO to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In March 2011 virtue-signaling Western ‘liberal’ hipsters teamed up with hardcore neocon warmongers to demand action to ‘save’ the Libyan people from the ‘despotic’ leader who had ruled the country since the late 1960s. “Something has to be done!” they cried in unison.

Something was done. Libya was transformed by NATO from the country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of Africa in 2009 into a lawless hell-hole, with rival governments, warlords and terror groups fighting for control of the country.

Under Gaddafi, Libyans enjoyed free health care and education. Literacy rates went up from around 25 percent to almost 90 percent. A UN Human Rights Council report on Libya from January 2011, in which member states praised welfare provision, can be read here.

It was clear that while there were still areas of concern the country was continuing to make progress on a number of fronts.

In the Daily Telegraph – hardly a paper which could be accused of being an ideological supporter of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – Libya was hailed as one of the top six exotic cruise ship destinations in June 2010.

Cruise ships don’t have Libya on their itineraries today. It’s far too dangerous.

The only surprising thing about the return of slave markets (and it’s worth pointing out that before the CNN report, the UN agency, IOM also reported on their existence in Libya earlier this year) is that anyone should be surprised by it. Human rights and social progress usually go back hundreds of years whenever a NATO ‘humanitarian’ intervention takes place. And that’s not accidental. The ‘interventions,’ which purposely involve heavy bombing of the country’s infrastructure and the subsequent dismantling of the state apparatus are designed to reverse decades of social progress. The ‘failure to plan’ is actually the most important part of the plan, as my fellow OpEdger Dan Glazebrook details in his book Divide and Destroy – The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis.

Libya was targeted, like Yugoslavia and Iraq before it, not because of genuine concerns that ‘another Srebrenica’ was about to take place, (note the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee report of September 2016 held that ‘the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence’) but because it was a resource-rich country with an independently-minded government which operated a predominantly state-owned socialistic economy in a strategically important part of the world.

Neither Libya, Iraq or Yugoslavia did the bidding of the West’s endless war lobby, which is why they were earmarked for destruction. The chaos which routinely follows a NATO regime change op is a ghastly experience for the locals, who see their living standards plummet and their risk of violent death in a terrorist attack greatly increase, but great for rapacious Western corporations who then move in to the ‘liberated’ country en masse, taking advantage of the lack of a strong central authority.

Of course, this is never mentioned in NATO-friendly media. The role of the Western elites in turning previously functioning welfare states into failed states is missing from most mainstream reports on the countries post ‘liberation.’

In his recent piece for FAIR, journalist Ben Norton noted how reports “overwhelmingly spoke of slavery in Libya as an apolitical and timeless human rights issue, not as a political problem rooted in very recent history.”

The dominant narrative is that slave markets have re-emerged in Libya ‘as if by magic,’just like Mr. Benn’s shopkeeper. The country’s ’instability’ is mentioned, but not the cause of that instability, namely the violent overthrow of the country’s government in 2011 and the Western backing of extremist, and in some cases blatantly racist, death squads. Everyone is blamed for the mess except the powerful, protected people and lobbyists who are ultimately responsible.

The French government played a leading role in the destruction of Libya in 2011, yet today the French president, the ‘progressive’ Emmanuel Macron blames ‘Africans’ for the country’s slavery problem. “Who are the traffickers? Ask yourselves – being the African youth – that question. You are unbelievable. Who are the traffickers? They are Africans, my friends. They are Africans.”

Macron, like other Western leaders, wants us to see the slavery issue in close-up, and not in long-shot. Because if we do, NATO comes into the picture.

There is similar whitewashing over Iraq and the rise of ISIS. Again, we are supposed to regard the group’s emergence as “just one of those things.” But ISIS was not a force when the secular Baathist Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq; it only grew following his ousting and the chaos which followed the occupiers’ dismantling of the entire state apparatus.

Six-and-a-half years on, it’s revealing to look back at the things the cheerleaders for the ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya were saying in early 2011 and what actually happened as a result of NATO’s 26,500 sorties.

“The price of inaction is too high” was the title of one piece by David Aaronovitch in The Times, dated March 18, 2011. “If we don’t bomb Gadaffi’s tanks, Europe is likely to face a wave of refugees and a new generation of jihadis,” was the synopsis.

Guess what? The West’s military alliance did bomb Gaddafi’s tanks (and a lot more besides) and we got “a wave of refugees” of Biblical proportions and “a new generation of jihadis,” including the Manchester Arena bomber, Salman Abedi.

But there’s been no mea culpa from Aaronovitch, nor from his Times colleague Oliver Kamm – who attacked me after I had penned an article in the Daily Express calling for NATO to halt its action.

In the Telegraph, Matthew d’Ancona wrote a piece entitled ‘Libya is Cameron’s chance to exorcise the ghost of Iraq.’

In fact, the experience of Iraq should have led all genuine humanitarians to oppose the NATO assault. In many ways, as John Wight argues here,

Libya was an even worse crime than the invasion of Iraq because it came afterward. There was really no excuse for anyone seeing how the ‘regime change’ operation of 2003 had turned out, supporting a similar venture in North Africa.

Unsurprisingly the politicians and pundits who couldn’t stop talking about Libya in 2011 and the West’s ‘responsibility to protect’ civilians seem less keen to talk about the country today.

Libya and its problems have vanished from the comment pages. It’s the same after every Western ‘intervention’: saturation coverage before and during the ‘liberation,’ bellicose calls from the totally unaccountable neocon/liberal punditocracy for military action to ‘save the people’ from the latest ‘New Hitler,’ and then silence afterwards as the country hurtles back in time to the Dark Ages.

The ‘liberators’ of Libya have moved on to other more important things in 2017, with Russophobia the current obsession. Anything, in fact, to distract us from the disastrous consequences of their actions.

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

Read more:

Macron urges military action in Libya to fight human trafficking

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments