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Syrian air defense units intercept Israeli missiles near Damascus, thwarting THIRD raid in a week – Russian MoD

RT | July 26, 2021

The Syrian military has intercepted two missiles fired by Israeli fighter jets at Damascus suburb of Sayyidah Zaynab over the weekend, successfully thwarting the third such airstrike in a week, using Russian-made air defense systems.

The airstrike was carried out from outside the Syrian airspace, around 5:40am Sunday morning, when two Israeli F-16 jets fired two guided missiles, targeting unspecified facilities in the town of Set (Sayyidah) Zaynab some 10km south of Damascus.

Syrian air defense units – equipped with Russian-made Buk-M2E systems – successfully intercepted both of them, the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, Rear Admiral Vadim Kulit, said in a daily briefing.

On Wednesday night, two Israeli F-16 jets fired four guided missiles from Lebanese airspace at Syria’s Homs province. All of them were shot down, also using Russian-made Buk-M2Es.

On Monday night, four Israeli jets penetrated Syrian airspace through the area of At-Tanf on the Jordanian border, controlled by the US military, and fired eight missiles into Aleppo province. Seven of them were reportedly shot down by Buk-M2 and Pantsir-S systems, but the remaining one struck a scientific research facility in the town of Safira.

While Israeli officials rarely acknowledge such raids, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warplanes routinely rained down missiles on Syrian territory over the past years, under the pretext of self-defense against the “Iranian threat.”

Damascus has always protested the repeated attacks as blatant acts of aggression, while Russia, Turkey and Iran recently jointly condemned Israeli raids as violations of sovereignty and international humanitarian laws.

July 25, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 6 Comments

US Used Military Bases in Afghanistan to Keep Watch on Entire Region, Russian Diplomat Says

Sputnik – 22.07.2021

MOSCOW – Russia’s special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said on Thursday that nearly half of the US military bases in Afghanistan were used to keep strategic tabs on the wider region.

“Of the 19 [US bases] that we know of, somewhat about seven or eight had nothing to do with Afghanistan and had nothing to do with the situation there”, Kabulov told the Echo of Moscow radio station.

The diplomat emphasised that the American contingents were conveniently placed in Afghanistan to be closer to the Middle East, Russia, Central Asia and China.

“[The US military] kept an eye on the Pakistani and Indian nuclear arsenal”, Kabulov added.

The United States and NATO began pulling their ground forces out of Afghanistan on 1 May. The withdrawal resulted in a flare-up of tensions between the government forces and the Taliban. The radical movement stepped up the territorial advances and is believed to have captured large rural areas in the country’s north.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 7 Comments

Iraqi politicians slam Turkey’s interventionist remarks, vow strong response

Press TV – July 22, 2021 

A number of Iraqi politicians and lawmakers have reacted to recent interventionist remarks by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu during his recent visit to the city of Sirnak in southeastern Turkey, vowing a strong response to any infringement of the Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity.

According to a report by Rudaw news agency on Thursday, during his visit to Sirnak, the Turkish minister claimed that establishing peace in Muslim countries, including Iraq and Syria, was Turkey’s responsibility.

Soylu’s comment reverberated widely through social media platforms, enraging Iraqi people and politicians.

Ra’ad Hussein, representative of Saairun Alliance affiliated with Iraq’s influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said the sovereignty of Iraq is beyond all considerations and the positions of the Sadr movement in this regard are clear.

“The Sadr movement is totally Iraqi and has no links to foreign countries, and it prefers the interests of Iraq over all interests, and to this end, the head of al-Sadr’s bloc decided to withdraw from the elections,” Hussein said.

“Our position is firm, which means that we will sever ties with any of the neighboring or regional countries if they do not have a positive attitude towards Iraq,” he added.

Hussein underlined that such statements, whether made by Turkish or other officials, are unacceptable and no one will ever be able to encroach on a single inch of Iraqi soil.

Iraqi Shia cleric Ammar al-Hakim took to Twitter on Wednesday, calling on neighboring countries to respect Iraq’s sovereignty.

Hakim, who heads Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement political bloc, said, “Achieving peace in the region and the world comes through the interaction of states among themselves in accordance with international covenants and cooperation based on the foundations of mutual relations and common interest.”

He added, “It is not allowed to compromise the sovereignty of Iraq and for its land to be infringed,” without making any direct reference to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Iraqi MP and member of the Law Coalition, Kadhem Finjan al-Hamami, reacted to Turkish minister’s remarks, saying that the Turkish provocations were not the first of its kind in clear reference to Turkey’s deforestation of Kurdish areas and the continuous attacks on the Iraqi territory under the pretext of fighting Kurdish separatists.

“There have been no reactions from the Iraqi government or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) towards all these attacks on Iraqi lands,” he said, adding that the Turkish government believes that “Iraq and the neighboring countries are a subject of the Ottoman Empire.”

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Firm Helped Governments Target Journalists, Activists with 0-Days and Spyware

By Ravie Lakshmanan | The Hacker News | July 16, 2021

Two of the zero-day Windows flaws rectified by Microsoft as part of its Patch Tuesday update earlier this week were weaponized by an Israel-based company called Candiru in a series of “precision attacks” to hack more than 100 journalists, academics, activists, and political dissidents globally.

The spyware vendor was also formally identified as the commercial surveillance company that Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) revealed as exploiting multiple zero-day vulnerabilities in Chrome browser to target victims located in Armenia, according to a report published by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

Candiru‘s apparent widespread presence, and the use of its surveillance technology against global civil society, is a potent reminder that the mercenary spyware industry contains many players and is prone to widespread abuse,” Citizen Lab researchers said. “This case demonstrates, yet again, that in the absence of any international safeguards or strong government export controls, spyware vendors will sell to government clients who will routinely abuse their services.”

Founded in 2014, the private-sector offensive actor (PSOA) — codenamed “Sourgum” by Microsoft — is said to be the developer of an espionage toolkit dubbed DevilsTongue that’s exclusively sold to governments and is capable of infecting and monitoring a broad range of devices across different platforms, including iPhones, Androids, Macs, PCs, and cloud accounts.

Citizen Lab said it was able to recover a copy of Candiru’s Windows spyware after obtaining a hard drive from “a politically active victim in Western Europe,” which was then reverse engineered to identify two never-before-seen Windows zero-day exploits for vulnerabilities tracked as CVE-2021-31979 and CVE-2021-33771 that were leveraged to install malware on victim boxes.

The infection chain relied on a mix of browser and Windows exploits, with the former served via single-use URLs sent to targets on messaging applications such as WhatsApp. Microsoft addressed both the privilege escalation flaws, which enable an adversary to escape browser sandboxes and gain kernel code execution, on July 13.

The intrusions culminated in the deployment of DevilsTongue, a modular C/C++-based backdoor equipped with a number of capabilities, including exfiltrating files, exporting messages saved in the encrypted messaging app Signal, and stealing cookies and passwords from Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera browsers.

Microsoft’s analysis of the digital weapon also found that it could abuse the stolen cookies from logged-in email and social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Yahoo, Mail.ru, Odnoklassniki, and Vkontakte to collect information, read the victim’s messages, retrieve photos, and even send messages on their behalf, thus allowing the threat actor to send malicious links directly from a compromised user’s computer.

Separately, the Citizen Lab report also tied the two Google Chrome vulnerabilities disclosed by the search giant on Wednesday — CVE-2021-21166 and CVE-2021-30551 — to the Tel Aviv company, noting overlaps in the websites that were used to distribute the exploits.

Furthermore, 764 domains linked to Candiru’s spyware infrastructure were uncovered, with many of the domains masquerading as advocacy organizations such as Amnesty International, the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as media companies, and other civil-society themed entities. Some of the systems under their control were operated from Saudi Arabia, Israel, U.A.E., Hungary, and Indonesia.

Over 100 victims of SOURGUM’s malware have been identified to date, with targets located in Palestine, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Spain (Catalonia), United Kingdom, Turkey, Armenia, and Singapore. “These attacks have largely targeted consumer accounts, indicating Sourgum’s customers were pursuing particular individuals,” Microsoft’s General Manager of Digital Security Unit, Cristin Goodwin, said.

The latest report arrives as TAG researchers Maddie Stone and Clement Lecigne noted a surge in attackers using more zero-day exploits in their cyber offensives, in part fueled by more commercial vendors selling access to zero-days than in the early 2010s.

“Private-sector offensive actors are private companies that manufacture and sell cyberweapons in hacking-as-a-service packages, often to government agencies around the world, to hack into their targets’ computers, phones, network infrastructure, and other devices,” Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) said in a technical rundown.

“With these hacking packages, usually the government agencies choose the targets and run the actual operations themselves. The tools, tactics, and procedures used by these companies only adds to the complexity, scale, and sophistication of attacks,” MSTIC added.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Explosion hits Israel’s Ashdod reactor facility

Press TV – July 13, 2021

An explosion has been reported at the Israeli regime’s Ashdod reactor facility in the south of the occupied territories, with reports not providing details on the cause of the blast or the number of possible casualties.

The blast was reported by the Israeli journalist Edy Cohen, who posted a video on his Twitter account on Tuesday and said the explosion had taken place at the Ashdod reactor facility in southern Israel.

Israeli media sources said the blast had rocked the regime’s Ashdod oil refinery and that firefighters had been dispatched to the scene after hearing the sound of the explosion. Hebrew-language sources said the blast caused fuel leaks at the refinery and efforts were underway to stop the leakage.

The sources have not yet mentioned the cause of the explosion and whether there were any casualties.

In recent months, similar incidents have taken place in important facilities run by the Israeli regime.

In April, a powerful explosion rocked a sensitive Israeli missile factory allegedly during a test for advanced weapons in the city of Ramla.

July 13, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 6 Comments

Documents reveal US pressure on ex-Yemeni regime to agree on normalizing ties with Israel

Press TV – July 12, 2021

The interior ministry of Yemen’s National Salvation Government has released a series of confidential documents detailing the United States pressure on the administration of former Yemeni dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to normalize relations with Israel and lift the blockade on products made in the Israeli occupied territories.

According to the documents, the US embassy in Sana’a had asked then-Yemeni authorities to end the economic embargo on Israeli goods, and not to participate in any activities deemed harmful to the Tel Aviv regime, the official Yemeni news agency Saba reported.

The papers expose the level of Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s discontent and frustration with the blockade, and how US officials left no stone unturned to force former Yemeni officials into opening the Arab country’s market to Israeli businesses and their products.

The former US ambassador to Yemen, Thomas C. Krajeski, called on Saleh’s regime to lift sanctions on companies with first-, second- or third-degree ties to Israel, which was not turned down by the Yemeni side.

Then-Yemeni foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, later told the US ambassador that the so-called embargo on US and Israeli goods was not actually being enforced.

The documents go on to reveal that the US embassy urged the Yemeni foreign ministry not to dispatch representatives to an anti-Israel event at the University of Damascus in Syria.

Moreover, the American diplomat described Yemen’s removal of boycott of Israeli products as the fundamental prerequisite for the Arab state’s membership in the World Trade Organization, and its access to free trade and international investment.

Last month, Spokesman for Yemen’s Armed Forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree announced that Yemeni security forces had arrested a man involved in espionage activities on behalf of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Saree said in a tweet at the time that more details on the matter will be provided in a documentary entitled “The Spy of Mossad in Yemen.”

The documentary will shed light on part of Israel’s intervention in the country and “the plan to target Yemen militarily, and other secrets revealed for the first time,” the senior Yemeni military figure pointed out.

The developments come as earlier reports said that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been working to establish a spy base on Yemen’s strategically-located island of Socotra.

The UAE has also been accused of constructing an air base on the Mayyun Island, situated off the Yemeni coast in the Bab el-Mandeb.

Both activities have drawn strong condemnation from the Yemeni government, which has described them as violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and international law, especially following the illegally-run tours to Socotra from Abu Dhabi, some of which included Israeli tourists.

“The transfer of tourists to the Socotra Island reveals the plans and programs of the occupying UAE, which are in line with the Zionist schemes to dominate Yemeni islands as well as the steps towards normalization with the regime,” a statement read back then.

Yemen’s popular Ansaullah resistance movement has previously threatened to attack Israel if it was “involved in any action against Yemeni people.”

The Israeli regime took the threats seriously, and deployed its Iron Dome and Patriot missile systems around the southern city of Eilat early this year.

July 12, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Washington is Progressively Losing the “Match” it is Playing with Tehran

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 06.07.2021

For decades now, under Israeli pressure Washington has been trying to play a “power game” with Tehran to bleed it dry, and prevent it from gaining the upper hand in its regional competition with Tel Aviv. Moreover, in this patently self-defeating confrontation, the United States is facing a mounting number of political defeats every day, and a loss of prestige before the world community.

Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani announced a successful victory in the “economic battle” at the end of the last US presidential elections in December, stressing that the Trump administration, which had previously confidently talked about the collapse of the Iranian economy, was leaving the corridors of power with nothing. He stated that there were many difficulties during the “war between economies”, but that the Iranian nation had successfully overcome them and won, and that the failure of the United States in the “economic war” was one of the reasons why Donald Trump lost the elections.

Iran has already proven to the world that it is a self-sufficient country. The uranium enrichment level of 63% recently announced by Tehran, despite numerous acts of sabotage on the part of Tel Aviv and Washington, has clearly thrown both Israel and the United States off balance, since this means that the country now has a virtually complete nuclear cycle. And since it is extremely difficult to stop Iran from going down this path solely through sanctions and provocations on the part of its intelligence services, Washington was forced to realize that it was necessary to negotiate a return to the nuclear agreement with Tehran.

The United States is experiencing nothing but defeats in its confrontation with Iran in the Middle East. The US “game” in Yemen, where Washington’s regional ally, Saudi Arabia, could not endure the onslaught of the Tehran-backed Houthis, is ending in an unvarnished loss. The US is failing in Jordan as well. Not to mention Syria, where the United States, with active support from the West and a number of Arab states, was never able to achieve dominance and resolve the situation in its favor because Iran and Russia started to coordinate their actions in this country.

In January 2020, the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution that called for the withdrawal of foreign military forces and, above all else, US forces from the republic’s territory, and on April 7 this year Baghdad announced that it would form a technical committee to define the terms and conditions governing the withdrawal of international forces. And for this reason the almost $10 billion that was previously spent on building and fitting out the three military bases in this country that Washington had hoped to use to forever rule not only the Persian Gulf, but also the entire Middle East, can be added to the list of genuine losses for the US.

Among the 1.5 billion Muslims of the world, there are about 130 million Shiites. Most of them inhabit Iran (more than 75 million), Iraq (more than 20 million), and Azerbaijan (about 10 million), where Shiites dominate both numerically, culturally, and politically. There are sizeable Shiite minorities in a number of Arab countries, such as Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. Shiites inhabit the central, mountainous area of Afghanistan (the Hazaras and others number about 4 million) and some parts of Pakistan. There are Shiite communities in India, even though there are many more Sunnis there. In the southern part of India, so-called “black Shiites” live among the Hinduists.

In recent decades in different countries (Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, etc.) Shiites have become more actively involved in the struggle for power, as well as in internal conflicts, turning to Tehran in particular for help. The Shiites, perceiving Iran as their own kind of Mecca, are monitoring the confrontation between Washington, Tel Aviv, and Tehran very closely, with each Iranian victory replenishing the ranks of US opponents and, accordingly, strengthening the position of those in the camp that supports Iran. The Shiite community of Muslim peoples is not a union of nations (ethnicities), but a spiritual and political community formed from confessional Shiite groups within the Islamic world. And it is emerging as an increasingly significant factor in cultural and political life.

In the recent confrontation between the United States, Israel, and Iran, the sides involved regularly put out feelers to see how “tough” their opponents are, actively using the capabilities possessed by their intelligence services. Moreover, these services have been used most vigorously in recent years by Tel Aviv to set up multiple covert operations, up to and including economic sabotage and physically killing prominent Iranian figures. The result of this is that the world has witnessed a number of major operations, specifically including inciting separatist sentiments in Iran – both in provinces where Kurds live packed tightly together and in Sistan and Balochistan Province. Fearing the emergence of nuclear weapons in Iran, which, according to Tel Aviv, could pose an objective threat to the very existence of the Jewish state, Israeli operations in this area have long become a kind of fixation. After the Stuxnet computer virus caused more than one thousand centrifuges to malfunction at Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010, cyber warfare between Iran and Israel has become increasingly earnest. “High-profile” special operations against Iranian nuclear scientists were thrown into this mix back in 2007, then followed a series of murders committed against Iranian physicists in 2010 and 2012. On November 27, 2020, a leading Iranian nuclear physicist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed in a Tehran suburb.

In January 2020, Israeli and US intelligence agencies assassinated General Qasem Soleimani, nicknamed “The Shadow” because he directed all covert operations outside the country, and since he was in charge of the Quds Force, the most secretive elite unit in the Iranian army.

Tehran was forced to accept the rules of the game imposed on it by the United States and Israel, through whose efforts terrorism, and the assassination of political and important public figures, are increasingly becoming the norm. During the night of January 8, 2020, Iran launched a missile attack on the American base Ayn al Asad in western Iraq, sending a warning that this was just a strong “slap in the face” of the United States for shedding the blood of Qasem Soleimani, Iranian national hero and the commander of IRGC Quds Force – and that the real vendetta lies in store.

On December 3, Fahmi Hinawi, one of the heads of the Mossad who was involved in killing Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed in his car near Tel Aviv. The scenario for his assassination followed the same pattern that the Israelis had used: Hinawi’s car had stopped at a red traffic light and was then riddled with bullets from automatic weapons.

In late January, a “strange” plane crash in Afghanistan killed a high-ranking American CIA officer, Michael D’Andrea, who was in charge of operations in the Middle East and was involved in setting up the assassination of the Qasem Soleimani, head of the IRGC Quds special forces.

And on June 26 at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, US Air Force officer and Red Horse Squadron commander James Willis was found dead. The Air Force Times reported that the death of the 55-year-old US Air Force lieutenant colonel was not related to any hostilities. Previously, Iranian intelligence services had affirmed that Willis was involved in murdering the IRGC Quds special forces commander Qasem Soleimani on the night of January 3.

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Where the Abraham Accords are (and aren’t) going

Israel has improved its relationship with the UAE, but what about other Gulf countries?

By Giorgio Cafiero and Kristian Coates Ulrichsen | Responsible Statecraft | July 7, 2021

On June 29, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrived in the United Arab Emirates, marking the first official trip by any chief Israeli diplomat to the Gulf country. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had wanted to visit Abu Dhabi while in office, so the timing of the visit so soon after the new Netanyahu-less government was sworn in was notable.

While Lapid was in the UAE, Israel inaugurated an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai, representing an important milestone in Emirati-Israeli relations nine months after the Abraham Accords were signed in Washington last September.

Lapid’s trip highlighted how the bilateral relationship has overcome challenges posed by the recent 11-day Gaza-Israel war. Although Emirati officialdom publicly condemned Israel’s conduct in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and called on both Hamas and Israel to halt attacks (which notably did not single out Israel) in May, the UAE is not cooling its relations with Israel. To the contrary, Abu Dhabi is keen to find ways to build on the Abraham Accords and enhance its ties with the Israelis notwithstanding the unresolved question of Palestine.

While with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Lapid signed an economic and commercial cooperation agreement. The two also co-authored a highly optimistic article in Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper where they outlined their outlook for the Emirati-Israeli relationship as well as for “peace” across the greater region: “Peace isn’t an agreement you sign – it’s a way of life. The ceremonies we held this week aren’t the end of the road. They are just the beginning.” (Technically, the UAE-Israel accord is not a “peace” agreement because the UAE, which gained its independence in 1971, has never been at war with Israel.)

Beyond the rhetoric and the symbolism, what are this relationship’s substantive elements and what does this partnership truly mean in practice nine months after the accord’s signing?

Bilateral trade since September 2020 has reached around $675 million. The two countries have signed a long list of trade and cooperation agreements. Mediaeducation, and tourism are all promising sectors that are starting to take off. It is significant that amid the global pandemic, which greatly harmed the UAE and all other Gulf Cooperation Council states’ tourism sectors, 200,000 Israeli tourists visited the UAE with most flying to Dubai.

Technology may be the area where the Emiratis have the highest hopes for this relationship. The potential benefits of formalized ties with the region’s most technologically innovative and advanced country are clear to the UAE. This is particularly true with respect to cybersecurity and to the potential acquisition of offensive cyber-capabilities by the UAE. As Sheikh Abdullah stated, the Emiratis are pleased that the Israelis will participate in Expo2020, an event to be held later this year in Dubai that will bring 192 countries together through technology, innovation, science, and art.

Nonetheless, the Emirati-Israeli trade relationship has thus far not lived up to its expectations. There has also been a degree of disappointment among those who were expecting the partnership to take off much faster following then-President Donald Trump’s announcement of the Abraham Accords.

Some anticipated deals have not taken place. For example, there was the suspension of the 50 percent sale of Beitar Jerusalem (a Jerusalem-based professional football club with an anti-Arab image) to a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. In addition, an Israeli energy firm that planned to sell its share of a gas field to Mubadala Petroleum (a subsidiary of the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Investment Company) missed a deadline for completing the agreement, although, according to the UAE’s side, the deal remains set to proceed. Time will tell how many and how soon major government-to-government and private sector transactions will indeed take place.

Abraham Accords, the Gulf, and Africa

Despite the political risks for any Arab state that normalizes relations with Israel, the UAE has vocally stood by the Abraham Accords, which, in the words of its ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, “move the region beyond a troubled legacy of hostility and strife to a more hopeful destiny of peace and prosperity.” But Abu Dhabi at this point does not appear to be leading any trend within the Gulf region toward the formalization of relations with Israel.

In Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative remains popular and the only viable means of reaching a fair and lasting settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. This is true at the highest levels of government and among these countries’ general publics. But Tel Aviv almost certainly will not under any foreseeable circumstances agree to the API’s terms, which require Israel to return to the 1949-1967 borders and permit the Palestinians to have an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital in exchange for opening diplomatic relations. Therefore, among GCC states, the UAE, along with Bahrain, will probably stand alone on the normalization question for some time.

As the GCC state with the most pro-Palestinian stance, Kuwait is most strongly opposed to normalization and unlikely to change its position. Oman maintains pragmatic, albeit unofficial, relations with Israel as highlighted by Lapid’s phone call with Oman’s foreign minister Badr al Busaidi on June 24, plus Netanyahu and other Israeli prime ministers’ visits to Muscat since the 1990s. But Oman remains committed to the API, as affirmed by Muscat’s chief diplomat at an Atlantic Council event held on February 11.

Qatar has a special role to play in Gaza that would be jeopardized by “abandoning” the Palestinians in exchange for normalization with Israel. Through Al Jazeera, which focuses heavily on the plight of Palestinians, and the tendency of Qatari diplomats to advocate on behalf of Palestinians in international forums, Doha’s regional and global image has much to do with its ability to take firm positions on certain international issues that contribute to the image of a pro-human rights foreign policy.

Finally, Saudi Arabia, due to its special role across the wider Islamic world, its authorship of the API, and its own internal dynamics that are fundamentally different than the smaller GCC states, will likely continue seeing normalization of relations with Israel as too risky, at least so long as King Salman remains on the throne.

Within this context, Israel will likely have its next diplomatic openings in the Islamic world not in the Persian Gulf, but instead in impoverished parts of sub-Saharan Africa where countries such as Niger, Mali, and Mauritania could have their economic interests advanced by joining the Abraham Accords. It will be important to see what actions Abu Dhabi might take to incentivize these African countries, many of which are major recipients of Emirati aid, to formalize ties with Israel. Enhanced Emirati assistance in exchange for normalization with Israel was already evident in Sudan’s decision to normalize ties with Israel, and the UAE may take a similar approach with these and other predominantly Muslim and poor African states.

July 8, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US neocons Bolton & PNAC lay down weapons of war for protest signs with their new ‘Turkish Democracy Project’

By Helen Buyniski | RT | July 5, 2021

The aging neocons who have been practicing regime change ops in the Middle East for decades are now launching a project targeting Turkey – perhaps in honor of the deceased Don Rumsfeld.

Erdogan’s Turkey has long been something of a thorn in Washington’s paw, given its ongoing refusal to buy inferior US military equipment (it was booted from the US’ F-35 program for insisting on buying Russian S-400 missiles, making the Americans who still store their nukes at Incirlik somewhat nervous), its refusal to place the good of Israel above its own benefit, and its rumblings of discontent regarding the US’ pleas for support (or at least safe passage) to its Syrian ‘moderate rebel’ militant groups, which Ankara considers to be little more than terrorists.

Under the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has become quite recalcitrant indeed, far from the ideal domesticated state keen to babysit American nukes and stage American missiles in exchange for coveted membership in the deteriorating NATO structure (not long ago fetchingly described by French President Emmanuel Macron as “brain dead”). Clearly what it needs is a shot in the bottom from that great big needle marked ‘Democracy’ – and who better to deliver that than the good old boys from the Project for a New American Century, many of them the old same men who led and lied the US, blindfolded, into the chaos of Iraq.

Enter the Turkish Democracy Project, a non-profit organization which – it should be clear from the name – has nothing to do with democracy or, really, Turkishness. The group’s website is about as subtle as a nuclear bomb, blaming President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for “dramatically alter[ing] Turkey’s position in the international community and its status as a free and liberal democracy” and calling for “a nonprofit, non-partisan, international policy organization that opposes its destabilizing behavior, supports genuine democratic reform, and holds the forces of corruption and oppression within Turkey to account.” In other words: “We want a piece of your country. Resist and be annihilated.”

It’s not that the US thinks Turkey is stupid. But they believe, and are likely correct, that the US will never have as good a time as now to strike. With its military still feared by many parts of the world (even though its bark is at this point far worse than its bite, and its image still suitably ferocious to put much of the actual war-fighting business to fleeing instead of fighting), the main business must be – if the US expects to do something other than flee home with its tail between its legs – “shock and awe.”

But given that these shock and awe tactics will be taking place in the Middle East, an area which has seen the worst the US can throw at its enemies over the last 20 years of perpetual warfare and realizes all the money in the world can’t give even the largest military on Earth the stamina of the gods, it’s likely these dyed-in-the-wool bloodshed-artists will have to change with the times. To invade a militarily competent nation like Turkey – especially one which, inconveniently, happens to be backed by NATO – is unlikely to be a walk in the park, no matter how many phony war crimes the PNAC crew manage to cook up. Gas attacks have become cliche, and any talk of “weapons of mass destruction” will elicit a chortle at best.

So the TDS, if recent events are any indication, has instead gotten to work with the kind of color revolution-style events that have largely replaced shock and awe in other regime-change hotspots. They’re cheap, they’re easy, and in this case – a protest in Istanbul against Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention? – they require exactly zero imagination. It’s much easier to con the rest of NATO if you don’t have to make them think.

Thousands of activists took to the streets on Thursday, either on their own or hailing from various NGOs, denouncing Turkey’s withdrawal from the European human rights treaty known as the Istanbul Convention. Erdogan’s executive order removing Turkey from the treaty, first adopted back in March, argued the country’s women are protected by domestic laws rather than the international human rights treaty – which he argued had been “hijacked” by the LGBTQ+ community.

The hoary old PNAC boys behind the TDS likely couldn’t believe their luck when something like this fell into their lap. But will they be able to modernize?

The group’s CEO is Mark Wallace, who’s also the CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran – another unsubtly named regime-change operation (and a regime change that has failed repeatedly). An old hand at overthrowing Middle Eastern nations the old-fashioned way, Wallace held several positions with the George W. Bush administration while the nation was attempting to crush Iraq (apparently shocked the children had run forward with IEDs instead of handfuls of wildflowers to welcome their new rulers).

Indeed, numerous fellow veterans of the Iraq regime change effort and abortive attempts to overthrow Iran have bubbled up in the swamp gas to give regime change in Turkey a go. Wallace is joined by other bottom-feeders like former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman and UANI intel chief Norman Roule, as well as glorified mustache-carrier, would-be thug, and former Trump national security adviser John Bolton. Former Bush adviser Frances Townsend is there, as is former associate deputy director of operations for the CIA (and Blackwater vet) Robert Richer. At least a few members of the shadowy pro-Israel Foundation for the Defense of Democracies were listed and then memory-holed, and Bush’s brother Jeb is there, a speech bubble forever hovering above his head reading “please clap.”

Oddly enough, however, the only currently listed actual employee aside from CEO Wallace is a (presumably) former assistant English professor at Princeton University. No, that’s not suspicious at all. Carry on, I’m sure Turkey will welcome you (and your desired partitioning of the country) with open arms!

With Erdogan still trustingly paying his country’s NATO dues, Ankara is unlikely to expect any sort of real attack, though the leader is likely on guard, given former President Trump’s on-again, off-again announcement to clear out US soldiers from Syria. He is likely to be on the lookout for foreign meddlers among the protesters, however. And Erdogan’s allies with their ears to the ground both inside and outside Turkey have already pegged this absurd attempt at bringing back ‘democracy’ for what it really is. While some have linked it to the infamous Gulen movement, referring to the cleric who most recently was accused of trying to overthrow Erdogan in 2016, Gulen’s movement itself seems to have ties to the same ‘Greater Israel’ plan to redraw the lines on the map of the Middle East, a plan Israeli military strategist Oded Yinon devised decades ago (and which the neocons appear to have used as their foreign policy guide ever since). Former Turkish opposition lawmaker Aykan Erdemir, senior director for Turkey at the FDD, was accused of being connected to Gulen in 2017 and had his assets seized, strengthening the case for the connection between Gulen’s organization and the notoriously pro-Israel FDD.

But with all of NATO’s heads turned to this human rights drama, surely the other countries in the alliance also participating in the drawing-and-quartering of Syria won’t expect a military attack on Turkey as well – not without some warning. The map of Greater Israel shows Turkey losing a mere corner of their land compared to Syria, which takes quite a beating – one which Turkey clearly expects to be a part of, having already staked its claim effectively to certain border regions of Syria under the logic of keeping the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) away. But this is all temporary, and eventually the region must settle into its new form. An Israel-first arrangement will not go down well with any of the other combatants, and, unlike the US and its European partners, Turkey won’t just sit on its hands and sigh wistfully while its share of the Syrian pie is handed to the US by way of Tel Aviv.

Because that’s who the ultimate beneficiary of this mess is supposed to be. Named after the Israeli military strategist who devised it, the Yinon project hopes to balkanize the Middle East and assemble the shards into a single nation consisting of the choicest morsels of those countries in between the Euphrates and the Nile rivers. Iraq has already been cut in half, Syria has shrunk dramatically even as the war goes on, and Egypt is run by a pliant leader who will do what the US and Israel tell him – as General Wesley Clark said over a decade ago, the plan was to take out seven countries in five years. They’re running a bit behind, but never underestimate the abilities of a bunch of old war criminals with nothing to lose.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Telegram.

July 5, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Envoy Rejects US Accusations against Iran as Baseless

Al-Manar | July 3, 2021

A top Iranian diplomat penned a letter to the UNSC, strongly rejecting allegations of the United States against Tehran over a recent attack near the Iraq-Syria border.

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote a letter to the president of the UN Security Council, to react to anti-Iranian accusations of Washington.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly announced that it has not had any direct or indirect role in attacks against US facilities or personnel in Iraq, reads the letter. Therefore, the letter continues, any attempt to attribute such allegations to Iran, either explicitly or implicitly, is false and baseless and lacks the most basic credible information. Tehran strongly rejects such claims and considers them legally invalid, added the envoy.

Iran vehemently rejects the arbitrary interpretation of the US of Article 51 of the UN Charter to justify its illegal June 27 attack on Syria and Iraq, said the envoy, adding that Tehran strongly condemns the aggression as violation of sovereignty of the two countries.

The US argument that such attacks were carried out to “deter” the Islamic Republic of Iran and so-called “Iranian-backed militias” from further attacks on US personnel or facilities in Iraq has no real or legal basis as it is based solely on an arbitrary interpretation of Article 51 of the UN Charter, added the diplomat.

Recent US attempts to accuse others to cover up its irresponsible and destabilizing activities and adventurous military actions in the region are doomed to failure, noted Takht-Ravanchi.

Earlier, the US representative to the UN had sent a letter to the UNSC, making accusations against Iran and claiming that the decision for attack was taken after it was proved that non-military measures were not enough.

July 4, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Syrian Kurds say ready to talk with Damascus government

Press TV – July 4, 2021 

The so-called Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, commonly known as Rojava, has said it is open to negotiations with the Syrian government which is in the final stages of purging foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants.

The foreign relations department of Rojava, in a statement issued on Saturday, responded positively to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s request for negotiations with the Damascus government, Kurdish Hawar news agency reported.

“The Syrian crisis can only be resolved through dialogue and a Syrian-Syrian understanding,” the statement read, adding that Syrian Kurds will make every effort to achieve such a goal, including talks with Damascus.

The report came a day after Lavrov said Moscow is ready to facilitate dialogue between Damascus and the Syrian Kurds provided that both sides stick to coherent positions.

“We are ready to encourage contacts and consultations but the sides need to have coherent positions,” he said on Friday, while warning that the Americans were pushing a considerable part of the Syrian Kurds towards separatism.

“I hope very much that those Kurds, who are interested in normalizing relations with Damascus, understand the provocative nature and see a big danger here,” the top Russian diplomat noted.

“Throughout the entire period of the crisis, especially after our military contingent was dispatched to Syria at the request of the legitimate government, we have been encouraging, even through our contacts on the ground, direct relations between Kurdish representatives and Damascus so that they could begin talks on how to live together in their country,” Lavrov said.

MEP: EU sanctions against Syria crime against humanity

Separately, a member of the European Parliament condemned EU sanctions against Syrian government officials, businesses and entities, terming the restrictive measures as a punishment against ordinary people in the war-battered Arab country.

Independent Irish politician Mick Wallace wrote in a post published on his official Twitter page on Saturday that the EU sanctions, with their main aim to change the Damascus government, are a crime against humanity.

“EU [countries] must end their illegal regime change sanctions on Syria. They are a collective punishment against the people; they are a crime against humanity,” Wallace said.

The MEP called upon European countries to observe international law, and respect Syria’s sovereignty.

The EU imposed the first round of its sanctions against Syria in May 2011. They include travel bans, asset freezes and measures targeting operations like oil imports, certain investments as well as technology transfer.

The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the US and the EU for waging economic terrorism on the country through their unilateral sanctions, holding them responsible for the suffering of the Syrian people, especially now that the country is grappling with a deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Damascus has also been critical of the United Nations for keeping silent on the destructive role of the US and EU, among other parties supporting terrorism in Syria.

July 4, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Hezbollah, Iraqi anti-terror group slam US seizure of website domains tied to pro-resistance media

Press TV – June 24, 2021

Lebanon’s Hezbollah pro-resistance movement and Iraq’s anti-terror Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq have strongly condemned the US government’s decision to seize and block dozens of website domains connected to Iranian and regional media outlets, describing the measure as a “criminal act” and a convincing proof of  Washington’s policy of repression.

“Hezbollah condemns in the strongest terms the seizure of a large number of free media sites by the US administration [of President Joe Biden]. The move confirms Washington’s pursuit of suppressing freedom under false allegations and lurid headlines,” Mohammad Afif, Hezbollah’s head of public relations office, said in a statement on Thursday.

He added, “Through such an outrageous move, the US administration sought to cover up truth about crimes and atrocities committed by itself and its allies against the oppressed nations of our region, especially in Palestine and Yemen, where people are subjected to the worst forms of abuse and blockade.”

“Hezbollah expresses its solidarity with these honorable sites, whose reflection of truth cannot be hidden away at all. We call for a major campaign of solidarity with these media institutions so they can continue to perform their sincere and humanitarian missions,” the statement concluded.

‘US seizure of website domains tied to resistance out of despair’

Qais Khazali, who leads the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group, also reacted to the US seizure of pro-resistance news website domains.

“Day by day, the West’s hollow claims about advocating human rights and freedom of expression are becoming further exposed,” he said in a statement carried by the Iraqi News Agency said, citing the removal of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen and the Israeli regime from a list of groups violating children’s rights, and the recent seizure of “the media websites that oppose American, British, Israeli, Saudi and Emirati schemes.”

“This is a sufficient justification… the United States, having failed in its military plans, desperately opted to seize websites whose sole weapons are words and ideas,” Khazali continued.

“The seizure shows its defeat in the field of media war. The pro-resistance media outlets exposed Washington’s hideous nature and its conspiracies,” he pointed out.

On Tuesday, the US seized the websites of Press TV and al-Alam, Iran’s English-language and Arabic-language newscasters, as well as al-Masirah TV of Yemen.

Other web domains, including Palestine al-Youm, a Palestinian-directed broadcaster, Karbala TV – the official television of the Imam Hussein (PBUH) shrine in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala, Iraqi Afaq TV, Asia TV and al-Naeem TV satellite television channels, as well as Nabaa TV which reports the latest stories about Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, were also seized.

Bahrain’s LuaLua TV, a channel run by opposition groups with offices in London and Beirut, was also closed, according to AFP.

Press TV website was back online within hours with the new .ir domain address. Al-Alam TV also quickly announced that its website will be available on .ir domain.

Al-Masirah TV established a new website, using its name but swapping the .net domain for .com.

The US Justice Department said Wednesday it had seized 33 media websites used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), as well as three of the Iraqi anti-terror Kata’ib Hezbollah group, which it said were hosted on US-owned domains in violation of sanctions.

Over the past years, the United States has for several times taken similar measures against Iranian media outlets.

The US tech giant Google has recurrently taken on Press TV more than any other Iranian outlet given the expanse of its viewership and readership.

In March, Google for the seventh time blocked the English-language news network’s access to its official YouTube account without any prior notice, citing “violations of community guidelines.”

The US-based social media giant Facebook also informed Press TV in the same month that its account had been shut down for what it claimed to be the Iranian news channel’s failure to “follow our Community Standards.” The page was reinstated a few days later.

The Tehran-based network has also fallen victim to censorship on Twitter and Instagram.

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment