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In the name of ‘Israel’s security’, retreating US gives it billions more in military aid

By Ramzy Baroud | The Palestine Chronicle | January 21, 2020

Billions of US taxpayers’ dollars will continue to be funnelled into Israel in the next fiscal year, and for many years in the foreseeable future. Republican and Democratic Senators have recently ensured just that, passing a Bill aimed at providing Israel with $3.3 billion in aid every year.

The Bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Chris Coons and Republican Senator Marco Rubio, was passed on 9 January, only one day after Iran struck US positions in Iraq. Enthusiasm to push the Bill forward was meant to be an assurance to Tel Aviv from Washington that the US is committed to Israel’s security and military superiority in the Middle East.

Despite a palpable sense of war fatigue among all Americans, regardless of their political leaning, their country continues to sink deeper into Middle East conflicts simply because it is unable – or perhaps unwilling — to challenge Israel’s benefactors across the US government. “What’s good for Israel is good for America” continues to be the supreme maxim within Washington’s political elites, despite the fact that such irrational thinking has wrought disasters on the Middle East as a whole, and is finally forcing a hasty and humiliating American retreat.

The latest aid package to Israel will officially put into law a “Memorandum of Understanding” that was reached between the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Barack Obama administration in 2016. At the time, Obama had offered Israel the largest military aid package in US history.

Senator Rubio explained the passing of the recent Bill in terms of the “unprecedented threats” that are supposedly faced by Israel. Coons, meanwhile, said that “the events of the past few days [the US-Iran escalation], were a stark reminder of the importance of US assistance to Israel’s security.”

What is particularly odd about Coons’ statement is the fact that it was not Israel, but US positions in Iraq that were struck by Iranian missiles, and that they were fired in response to the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

Yet, the American taxpayers’ funding of Israel’s military adventures continues unabated, despite the rapidly changing political reality in the Middle East, and the shifting US role in the region. This confirms further that the blind US support of Israel is not motivated by a centralised, distinctly American, strategy that aims to serve US interests. Instead, the unconditional – and, often, self-defeating — US government funding of the Israeli war machine is linked largely to domestic American politics and, indeed, the unparalleled power wielded by the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

According to the public policy research institute of the United States Congress, the Congressional Research Centre (CRS), between 1946 and 2019 (including the requested funds for 2020) US aid to Israel has exceeded $142 billion. Most of this immense sum of money — over $101 billion — went directly to the Israeli military budget, while over $34 billion and $7 billion went to Israel in terms of economic aid and missile defence funding respectively.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the US no longer possesses a well-defined and centralised strategy in the Middle East; President Donald Trump changes American priorities from one speech or tweet to the next. However, the one consistent key phrase in whatever political agenda happens to be championed by Washington in the region at any particular time is: “Israel’s security”.

This precarious term seems to be linked to every American action pertaining to the Middle East, as it has for decades under every American administration, without exception. Wars have been launched or funded in the name of Israel’s security; human rights have been violated on a massive scale; the five-decade — and counting — military occupation of Palestine, the protracted siege of the impoverished Gaza Strip and much more, have all been carried out, defended and sustained in the name of Israel’s security.

US aid to Israel — the occupying state — continues, while all American aid to the Palestinians — the people under Israeli occupation — has been cut off, including the $300 million annual donation to the UN Agency responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. The Agency has provided education, healthcare and shelter for millions of refugees since 1949, but is now, bizarrely, seen by both Israel and the US as “an obstacle to peace”.

Inexplicably, Israel receives roughly “one-third of the American foreign-aid budget, even though (it) comprises just .001 percent of the world’s population and already has one of the world’s higher per capita incomes,” wrote Professor Stephen Zunes in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

This massive budget includes much more than the $3.3 billion of annual funding, but the other amounts and perks rarely make headlines. Anywhere between $500 million to $800 million is given to Israel every year as part of a missile defence package; an additional $1 billion benefits Israel in the form of tax-deductible donations, while $500 billion is invested in Israeli bonds.

Then there are the loan guarantees, where the US government assumes the responsibility for billions of dollars that Israel can access as a borrower from international creditors. If Israel defaults on its loans, it is the legal responsibility of the US government to offset the interest on the borrowed money.

Since 1982, Israel has been receiving US aid as a lump sum, as opposed to scheduled payments, as happens with other countries. To fulfil its self-imposed obligations to Israel, the US government borrows the money, and is thus left to pay interest on the loans. “Israel even lends some of this money back through US treasury bills and collects the additional interest,” Zunes explained.

US relations with Israel are not governed by the kind of political wisdom that is predicated on mutual benefit. But they are not entirely irrational either, as the American ruling classes have aligned their interests, their perception of the Middle East and their country’s role in that region with that of Israel, thanks to years of media and official indoctrination.

Despite the fact that the US is retreating from the region, lacking strategy and future vision, lawmakers in Washington are congratulating themselves on passing yet another generous aid package to Israel. They feel proud of their great feat because, in their confused thinking, a ‘secured’ Israel is the only guarantor of US dominance in the Middle East. That is a theory that has been proven false, time and time again.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome, swamp monsters! How Bush-era warmonger David Wurmser is helping Trump take down Iran

By Robert Bridge | RT | January 20, 2020

Despite Trump’s pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ and reduce the US military’s global footprint, a chief architect of the 2003 Iraq War has the ear of the White House on Iran. What could possibly go wrong?

As Donald Trump’s first term dwindles, it appears his new campaign slogan will be “if you can’t beat the swamp, join it.” That much seems evident not only from the Trump administration’s courting of diehard hawks – gung-ho guys like Elliott Abrams and Mike Pompeo – but by the recent news that David Wurmser was offering counsel to John Bolton, former National Security Advisor to the White House.

It should be briefly recalled that Wurmser contributed heavily to the report that argued Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction. That claim was eventually proven to be ‘bad intelligence,’ but not before a whole lot of damage was done.

Wurmser gets another shot  

According to journalist Eli Lake, Wurmser built the case for “regime disruption” against Iran in a series of memos sent to Bolton in May and June 2019, a period when tensions between Tehran and Washington were peaking in the Persian Gulf. Lake, who says he was privy to the memos thanks to a high-level source, provides a glimpse into Wurmser’s hawkish thought processes, revealing he told Bolton that offensive military action against Iran would “rattle the delicate internal balance of forces… which the regime depends for stability and survival.”

On another occasion, after Iran had downed a US drone, Wurmser suggested in a memo (dated June 22) a retaliatory attack “on someone like Soleimani or his top deputies.” Judging by Bolton’s well-known aggressive stance on Iran, however, he probably did not require much convincing from Wurmser to go after Tehran with both guns blazing.

The revelation that Wurmser was feeding Bolton advice sheds a much-needed light – albeit an opaque one – on Trump’s inexplicable decision in early January to “take out” General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force. That high-risk move, carried out on the territory of Iraq, prompted Tehran to respond days later with calibrated strikes on two US military bases inside of Iraq. Today, the situation remains volatile as rhetoric between the two sides has replaced – at least for the time being – outright violence.

Now the question: what could have compelled Trump to place any trust in Wurmser, whose resume reads like that of a bull in a china shop? One possibility is that Trump had no idea Wurmser was feeding Bolton and other members of his administration what amounted to yet more regime change shenanigans in the Middle East. This seems plausible considering the contradictory messages the White House was sending immediately following Soleimani’s cold-blooded murder.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, claimed the US had specific information on “imminent” Iranian attacks “against American facilities, including American embassies [and] military bases.” Trump, meanwhile, didn’t sound any more confident with regards to the “imminent threat” of an Iranian attack when he told Fox News, “probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad.”

Stranger yet, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, perhaps being more forthcoming than is usual for a military man with secrets to protect, admitted “I didn’t see [evidence], with regard to four embassies” being targeted for attack by Iran. Esper eventually came around to saying that he “shared the president’s view” of an imminent attack from Iran.

It seems plausible that the Trump administration could not get its story straight on where the information about Iran and an “imminent attack” had originated, because admitting it had derived from ‘the swamp’ would not have sat well with their voters. That is certainly no small consideration in an election year.

Why court neocons in the first place?

When Trump hired John Bolton as his National Security Advisor in March 2018, he wasn’t just opening the corridors of power to the notorious hawk, as he may have imagined. The US leader opened the door to all of Bolton’s former colleagues and confidants who share Bolton’s dangerous obsession with going to war with Iran. As a side note, it is worth pondering whether Trump was compelled to hire Bolton because he understood he is not at liberty to abandon ‘the swamp’ as it simply wields too much power in Washington.

What is more likely is that Trump overestimated himself, believing that he was smart enough to stay one step ahead of Bolton and his swamp contacts – like the shadowy Washington insider Wurmser, who in 1996 co-authored another report, entitled, ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.’ Drafted specifically for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the paper promoted the idea of preemptive strikes against Iran and Syria.

So why would Trump take on such a risk? Why not bring in some fresh red-blooded conservative policymakers who genuinely want to see US troops extracted from quagmires around the Middle East and North Africa? Why all this talk about ‘draining the swamp’ when the worst of the swamp creatures are awarded such powerful positions? Perhaps Trump imagined that Bolton’s mustachioed scowl would be enough to bring enemies around to the negotiating table – gaining “leverage” before confronting your opponents, as the real estate developer advised in ‘Art of the Deal.’

Whatever the case may be, the US leader seriously underestimates the fact that there are people out there – the John Boltons and David Wurmsers of the world – who are not looking for the ‘deal of the century’. These people have spent their entire careers lobbying for military confrontation and regime change, as General Wesley Clark revealed with the “seven countries in five years” plan. They will pull any trick in the book to get their wars – and all of the lucrative defense contracts that follow.

Although Trump may have squeaked by – so far – without full-blown military confrontation in places like North Korea, Syria and Venezuela, sooner or later he may get a bad roll of the dice. In fact, he may already have gambled wrongly with the warmongers he allowed into his administration, thereby setting Iran and the United States, and possibly the world, on a deadly crash course.  In that case, Trump would have nobody to blame but himself.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , | 2 Comments

Drone Strikes Leave Innocent Widows and Orphans

By Brian Cloughley | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 21, 2020

The killing of Iranian General Soleimani was big news. There were a few points made in the Western mainstream media about its legality being dubious, but nobody seems to be concerned that it contravened international law, in addition to be totally amoral. One wonders if any of the drone operators, the little key-tapping techno-dweebs thousands of miles away, were awarded a medal for their gallantry in prodding buttons to blast human beings to shards of flesh and bone.

It’s not impossible that such awards will be handed out, because there is a notorious precedent. The captain of the warship USS Vincennes which fired a missile that shot down an Iranian airliner killing 254 Iranians and 36 equally innocent citizens of other countries, was awarded the Legion of Merit for “exceptionally meritorious conduct.” And we’ll pass over the fact that those responsible for shooting down the Ukrainian airliner on January 8 are to be punished and that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani declared the incident to have been an “unforgivable error”, while there was never an apology from the United States for killing 254 Iranians, or anyone else. Indeed, Newsweek noted that then-Vice President George HW Bush told an August 1988 election campaign rally a few weeks after the incident that “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are. I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”

GHW Bush has a notable successor in Donald Trump, who is not the kind of guy who apologises for anything. His confused and semi-coherent reasoning for killing Soleimani included such gems as he “was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act” and “We caught a total monster and we took him out.” In a television interview he declared that “plus, he was going after — in our opinion, our very intelligent opinion, he was going after our embassies, and things could have happened.”

But as reported by the Washington Post, “No warnings were issued to staff at the embassy in Iraq or any other unnamed embassies” concerning any “imminent” attack. In other words, Trump was telling yet more lies, and in this case lying to justify an illegal killing.

The murders in Iraq were the latest in a long line of assassinations and collateral killings by US drone-fired missiles all over the world. The worst incidents last year included a video game shoot in September when in Afghanistan, according to Reuters, “a US drone strike intended to hit an Islamic State hideout . . . killed at least 30 civilians resting after a day’s labour in the fields, officials said. The attack also injured 40 people after accidentally targeting farmers and labourers who had just finished collecting pine nuts. Haidar Khan, who owns the pine nut fields, said about 150 workers were there for harvesting, with some still missing as well as the confirmed dead and injured.” There was no inquiry, no explanation, no expression of regret — it was the normal, the usual, the always-expected condescending drivel from a Pentagon spokesman that “we are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts.” Then silence, apart from the grieving of widows and orphans.

On December 1 the New York Times told us that “an American drone strike on a car carrying a woman who had just given birth in south-eastern Afghanistan left five people dead, including the mother, three of her relatives and the driver . . . The woman, Malana, 25, had given birth to a son, her second child, at home. But her health had deteriorated soon after and relatives had been taking her to a clinic. On their way home, their vehicle was hit.” Out trotted the usual hogwash from a US spokesman that “We are aware of the allegations of civilian casualties and working with local authorities to determine the veracity of these claims.” And ever afterwards — silence. The dead woman’s new baby wasn’t in the car that was blasted to bits by the drone-fired missile, and will no doubt grow up a lover of Western culture.

On and on they go, with one of the latest atrocity being on January 8, when “more than 60 civilians were killed or wounded in a US drone attack targeting a top Taliban splinter-group commander in the western Afghanistan province of Herat.” NATO was in on this one, and its spokesman said there had been “a defensive air strike in support of Afghan forces”, confirming it was carried out by a US drone. Nobody apart from local Afghan officials knows anything about it, because it’s too dangerous for western reporters to travel in Afghanistan trying to investigate deception and lies about drone strikes or anything else. Afghanistan’s Khaama Press agency reported that “tribal elders in southern Herat province called on the government to launch an immediate investigation about the attack that took the lives of innocent civilians” but nothing will be done. After all, there are only a few dozen utterly stricken Afghan families, and they don’t matter to the Kabul government any more than they do to the video game missile controllers launching death and hideous destruction from thousands of miles away.

The drone expert Professor Peter Lee of the University of Portsmouth in the UK put it well in early January by observing that “When Reaper [drone] crews have followed someone for days or weeks, their target is not just pixels on a screen but a living human being. Operators watch targets spend time with family and friends and even playing with their children. Crews, commanders and image analysts also continue to watch from above after a missile or bomb strike, conducting battle damage assessment. They see the bits of bodies being collected and taken for burial. They see grieving, devastated family members.”

Trump says he killed Soleimani because he was “the world’s top terrorist” who “viciously wounded and murdered thousands of US troops” which is absolute rubbish. But even if it were true, and there was something in international law that permitted his murder, what about the others who were killed by Trump’s Hellfire missiles? It is said there were nine other people blown to pieces, one of whom was head of Iraq’s militia forces. There was no explanation from Trump or any of his people concerning why these people were killed along with Soleimani, because it could hardly be claimed that they too were planning to blow up US embassies or plotting “imminent attacks”. Some were bodyguards, for example, and while it may be considered wrong that anyone should have worked for General Soleimani in that or any other capacity, their employment did not merit being killed by a US drone strike.

Which brings us to their widows and orphans, because it would be interesting to know what story Trump and his people could come up with that could possibly justify their punishment.

The assassination of Soleimani was a flagrant crime, but the general feeling in the US is that it was vindicated because he was an evil person who hated America. The button-pushing drone assassins most probably feel professionally and even morally satisfied that they carried out the orders of the president to kill him. But how can they — how can anyone — come to terms with the “grieving, devastated family members” of the anonymous people who die as what used to be called “collateral damage”? The innocent widows and orphans are on the conscience of the world, but the drone attacks will continue.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Definition of Warfare

Sanctions can be more deadly than bullets

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 21, 2020

Supporters of Donald Trump often make the point that he has not started any new wars. One might observe that it has not been for lack of trying, as his cruise missile attacks on Syria based on fabricated evidence and his recent assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani have been indisputably acts of war. Trump also has enhanced troop levels both in the Middle East and in Afghanistan while also increasing the frequency and lethality of armed drone attacks worldwide.

Congress has been somewhat unseriously toying around with a tightening of the war powers act of 1973 to make it more difficult for a president to carry out acts of war without any deliberation by or authorization from the legislature. But perhaps the definition of war itself should be expanded. The one area where Trump and his team of narcissistic sociopaths have been most active has been in the imposition of sanctions with lethal intent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been explicit in his explanations that the assertion of “extreme pressure” on countries like Iran and Venezuela is intended to make the people suffer to such an extent that they rise up against their governments and bring about “regime change.” In Pompeo’s twisted reckoning that is how places that Washington disapproves of will again become “normal countries.”

The sanctions can kill. Those imposed by the United States are backed up by the U.S. Treasury which is able to block cash transfers going through the dollar denominated international banking system. Banks that do not comply with America’s imposed rules can themselves be sanctioned, meaning that U.S. sanctions are de facto globally applicable, even if foreign banks and governments do not agree with the policies that drive them. It is well documented how sanctions that have an impact on the importation of medicines have killed thousands of Iranians. In Venezuela, the effect of sanctions has been starvation as food imports have been blocked, forcing a large part of the population to flee the country just to survive.

The latest exercise of United States economic warfare has been directed against Iraq. In the space of one week from December 29th to January 3rd, the American military, which operates out of two major bases in Iraq, killed 25 Iraqi militiamen who were part of the Popular Mobilization Units of the Iraqi Army. The militiamen had most recently been engaged in the successful fight against ISIS. It followed up on that attack by killing Soleimani, Iraqi militia general Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and eight other Iraqis in a drone strike near Baghdad International Airport. As the attacks were not approved in any way by the Iraqi government, it was no surprise that rioting followed and the Iraqi Parliament voted to remove all foreign troops from its soil. The decree was signed off on by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, based on the fact that the U.S. military was in Iraq at the invitation of the country’s government and that invitation had just been revoked by parliament.

That Iraq is to say the least unstable is attributable to the ill-advised U.S. invasion of 2003. The persistence of U.S. forces in the country is ostensibly to aid in the fight against ISIS, but the real reason is to serve as a check on Iranian influence in Iraq, which is a strategic demand made by Israel and not responsive to any actual American interest. Indeed, the Iraqi government is probably closer politically to Tehran than to Washington, though the neocon line that the country is dominated by the Iranians is far from true.

Washington’s response to the legitimate Iraqi demand that its troops should be removed consisted of threats. When Prime Minister Mahdi spoke with Pompeo on the phone and asked for discussions and a time table to create a “withdrawal mechanism” the Secretary of State made it clear that there would be no negotiations. A State Department written response entitled “The U.S. Continued Partnership with Iraq” asserted that American troops are in Iraq to serve as a “force for good” in the Middle East and that it is “our right” to maintain “appropriate force posture” in the region.

The Iraqi position also immediately produced presidential threats and tweets about “sanctions like they have never seen,” with the implication that the U.S. was more than willing to wreck the Iraqi economy if it did not get its way. The latest threat to emerge involves blocking Iraq access to its New York federal reserve bank account, where international oil sale revenue is kept, creating a devastating cash crunch in Iraq’s financial system that might indeed destroy the Iraqi economy. If taking steps to ruin a country economically is not considered warfare by other means it is difficult to discern what might fit that description.

After dealing with Iraq, the Trump Administration turned its guns on one of its oldest and closest allies. Great Britain, like most of the other European signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been reluctant to withdraw from the agreement over concern that Iran will as a result decide to develop nuclear weapons. According to the Guardian, a United States representative from the National Security Council named Richard Goldberg, had visited London recently to make clear to the British government that if it does not follow the American lead and withdraw from the JCPOA and reapply sanctions it just might be difficult to work out a trade agreement with Washington post-Brexit. It is a significant threat as part of the pro-Brexit vote clearly was derived from a Trump pledge to make up for some of the anticipated decline in European trade by increasing U.K. access to the U.S. market. Now the quid pro quo is clear: Britain, which normally does in fact follow the Washington lead in foreign policy, will now be expected to be completely on board all of the time and everywhere, particularly in the Middle East.

During his visit, Goldberg told the BBC: “The question for prime minister Johnson is: ‘As you are moving towards Brexit … what are you going to do post-31 January as you come to Washington to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the United States?’ It’s absolutely in [your] interests and the people of Great Britain’s interests to join with President Trump, with the United States, to realign your foreign policy away from Brussels, and to join the maximum pressure campaign to keep all of us safe.”

And there is an interesting back story on Richard Goldberg, a John Bolton protégé anti-Iran hardliner, who threatened the British on behalf of Trump. James Carden, writing at The Nation, posits “Consider the following scenario: A Washington, DC–based, tax-exempt organization that bills itself as a think tank dedicated to the enhancement of a foreign country’s reputation within the United States, funded by billionaires closely aligned with said foreign country, has one of its high-ranking operatives (often referred to as ‘fellows’) embedded within the White House national security staff in order to further the oft-stated agenda of his home organization, which, as it happens, is also paying his salary during his year-long stint there. As it happens, this is exactly what the pro-Israel think tank the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) reportedly achieved in an arrangement brokered by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.”

The FDD senior adviser in question, who was placed on the National Security Council, was Richard Goldberg. FDD is largely funded by Jewish American billionaires including vulture fund capitalist Paul Singer and Home Depot partner Bernard Marcus. Its officers meet regularly with Israeli government officials and the organization is best known for its unrelenting effort to bring about war with Iran. It has relentlessly pushed for a recklessly militaristic U.S. policy directed against Iran and also more generally in the Middle East. It is a reliable mouthpiece for Israel and, inevitably, it has never been required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.

To be sure, Trump also has other neocons advising him on Iran, including David Wurmser, another Bolton associate, who has the president’s ear and is a consultant to the National Security Council. Wurmser has recently submitted a series of memos to the White House advocating a policy of “regime disruption” with the Islamic Republic that will destabilize it and eventually lead to a change of government. He may have played a key role in giving the green light to the assassination of Soleimani.

The good news, if there is any, is that Goldberg resigned on January 3rd, allegedly because the war against Iran was not developing fast enough to suit him and FDD, but he is symptomatic of the many neoconservative hawks who have infiltrated the Trump Administration at secondary and tertiary levels, where much of the development and implementation of policy actually takes place. It also explains that when it comes to Iran and the irrational continuation of a significant U.S. military presence in the Middle East, it is Israel and its Lobby that are steering the ship of state.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel participation in Expo 2020 Dubai amounts to normalization: Hamas

Press TV – January 20, 2020

Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas has censured Israel’s presence in the Expo 2020, which is to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates’ city of Dubai, as a form of normalization between the Persian Gulf state and the Tel Aviv regime.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, in a written statement released on Monday, slammed attempts by a number of Arab countries, particularly Persian Gulf littoral states, to bring out in the open their clandestine relations with the Israeli regime, calling on them to put an end to such efforts.

“Such a behavior encourages the Occupation to increase the level of its crimes against Palestinian people, and to step up its violations against the sanctities of our nation,” the statement added.

“The Zionist regime must remain the principal enemy of the [Palestinian] nation. The campaign against the regime and its policies, which aim to dent all opportunities for the nation’s awakening and development, must continue,” Qassem pointed out.

Israeli authorities are hoping to reach out to Arab peoples through participation in the Expo 2020 Dubai.

“To us, the added value is in the Arab and Muslim visitor,” Elazar Cohen, the Israeli foreign ministry’s point man for the expo, which is organized by the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), said on December 15 last year.

An auditorium below the pavilion will offer visitors an interactive multimedia experience, the ministry’s director general Yuval Rotem told AFP at the time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the Israeli expo pavilion as part of “the continued progress of normalization with the Arab states,” alleging that building relations with Arab countries will push the Palestinians toward a ‘peace deal’ with the Israeli regime.

Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on November 6 that the UAE is expected to allow tourists holding Israeli passports to take part in the expo.

“Israeli and the UAE’s authorities have been in talks for a while in order to allow those with Israeli passports to attend the expo in Dubai,” an unnamed source within the expo’s management team told the daily at the time, adding, “These talks are happening because both sides want to see the expo turn into the biggest exhibition in the world.”

Another source said the event in Dubai could be a great pilot run during which Israeli tourists would be allowed into the country, and it can be a signal that the UAE “might leave its doors open to Israeli tourists permanently.”

Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, told a ministerial meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on August 6 last year that he was working toward “transparent normalization and signed agreements” with a number of Arab Persian Gulf littoral states.

Arab countries — except for Jordan and Egypt — have no formal relations with the Israeli regime.

Israel’s trade with Persian Gulf states is estimated to stand at about $1 billion annually, according to a study published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in August 2018.

Jamal al-Suwaidi, founder of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, told the British newspaper The Guardian in an interview in March that the Palestinian issue is no longer at the top of the agenda among the Arab Persian Gulf states.

“The Palestinian cause is no longer at the forefront of Arabs’ interests, as it used to be for long decades,” he said. “It has sharply lost priority in light of the challenges, threats and problems that face countries of the region.”

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jordanian lawmakers vote to prohibit natural gas imports from Israel

Press TV – January 19, 2020

Jordan’s parliament has voted in favor of a motion to ban natural gas imports from the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the wake of mass protests against the government’s multi-billion-dollar agreement with the Tel Aviv regime.

“The majority has voted to send the urgent motion to the government” requesting a law banning Israeli gas imports to Jordan, said Speaker of the House of Representatives Atef Tarawneh in remarks carried live by state television network on Sunday.

The text states that “the government, its ministries and state institutions and companies are prohibited from importing gas from Israel.”

Video footage showed a majority of legislators in the lower house stand up to back the motion.

The move came after 58 lawmakers out of the 130-strong legislature demanded such a ban in a letter to the parliament last month.

The motion will be passed to the government for approval, and must be sent back to the legislature for a formal vote at the upper house of the parliament.

Earlier this month, Jordan’s National Electric Power Co. said gas pumping from the Occupied Territories had started as part of a ten-billion-dollar deal.

The cash-strapped desert kingdom has defended the agreement, alleging it would cut $600 million a year from the state’s energy bill.

On Friday, hundreds of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman in a demonstration organized by the Jordanian National Campaign Against the Gas Agreement with the Zionist Entity to express their resentment over the “shameful” deal with the Israeli regime.

They called on the government to scrap the gas import agreement, and demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz.

Last week, hundreds of people protested in the northeastern Jordanian city of Zarqa against the import of natural gas from Israel.

The mayor of Zarqa, Imad al-Momani, called on the authorities to “cancel this humiliating agreement” while speaking to the demonstrators.

On September 26, 2016, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company signed a 10-billion-dollar deal with US-based Noble Energy and Israeli partners in order to tap the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel for the supply of approximately 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or 300 million cubic feet per day (mcf/d), over a 15-year term.

On March 26 last year, members of Jordan’s parliament called for the cancellation of the gas deal with Israel during a parliamentary session closed to the public.

Tarawneh stated at the time that all sectors of the society and members of parliament utterly reject Jordanian electricity company agreement to buy Israeli natural gas.

Several legislators argued that the multi-billion-dollar deal violates Article 33, section two of the Jordanian constitution, which states, “Treaties and agreements which entail any expenditures to the Treasury of the State or affect the public or private rights of Jordanians shall not be valid unless approved by the parliament; and in no case shall the secret terms in a treaty or agreement be contrary to the overt terms.”

Lawmaker Saddah al-Habashneh said the deal was unconstitutional, stressing that members of parliament were not given access to read what he called the “secret” deal.

“Why are they hiding it? It’s a clue that there is something. It is totally rejected,” he commented.

Habashneh then demanded the deal be scrapped along with Jordan’s peace accord with Israel – known as Wadi Araba Treaty and signed on October 26, 1994.

“We are calling for the Wadi Araba agreement to be dropped. What is peace when they’re attacking Gaza?” the parliamentarian said.

“And with yesterday’s recognition of the Golan Heights, what’s left? We want dignity,” he said.

On March 25, 2019, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation, formally recognizing Israel’s ‘sovereignty’ over the Golan Heights. The announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in a statement, called the decision a “blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria.

“The liberation of the Golan by all available means and its return to the Syrian motherland is an inalienable right,” according to the statement carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA, which added, “The decision … makes the United States the main enemy of the Arabs.”

The Arab League also condemned the move, saying “Trump’s recognition does not change the area’s status.”

Iran, Iraq, Russia and Turkey also condemned Washington’s move.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. The regime has built dozens of settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 4 Comments

Is It an Act of War to Designate Iran’s IRGC as a Terrorist Organization?

The Israel Lobby’s Relationship to Trudeau, Trump and NATO

By Prof. Anthony Hall | American Herald Tribune | January 19, 2020

The Israel Lobby in Canada is demanding that the government of Justin Trudeau follow the lead of Netanyahu and Trump, the notorious duo of anti-Iranian warmongers. Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, has been leading the drive to have Canadian law brought into conformity with US and Israeli prototypes of post-9/11 terrorist designations.

At a press conference on January 13 in Canada’s Parliament, the Canadian branch of the US and Israeli-based ADL, demanded that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) be designated as a terrorist organization. Canada has already designated the Quds division of the IRCG as a terrorist group. Iranian General Qassem Suleimani was the leader of the Quds force until he was assassinated on January 2 of this year.

Mr. Mostryn presented the Canadian government with something of an ultimatum with the following comment. “We are asking for the IRGC to be designated as a terrorist group in Canada within the next 30 days. No further delays will be accepted by Canadians on this important public safety issue.”

There is a large body of evidence that demonstrates that Mr. Mostyn does not speak for all Jews in Canada or even for most of them. Certainly, this well paid functionary of the Israel Lobby does not speak for all Canadians when it comes to the issue of Canada’s relations with Iran. After the assassination of General Suleimani, Canadians have added cause to be skeptical about adopting the extravagant language and principles of the Israel Lobby as elevated to pre-eminence following 9/11.

After January 2, Canadian citizens and members of the global community generally are coming to understand better the lethal booby traps attached to pinning the status of “terrorist” on individuals and organizations without any due process whatsoever. The post-9/11 adoption of the principles of pre-emptive warfare promotes the ethos of shoot to kill first, worry later (if at all) about proof, justification and adherence to the older principles of international law. This ethos of kill first, deal with proof later, has essentially eliminated the legal principle that people, whether they be princes or paupers, are innocent until proven guilty.

The Displacement of Well-Founded Principles of International Law with the Pseudo-Laws of the Global War on Terror

The kind of agenda that Mr. Mostyn wants to import into Canada from Israel and the United States undermines the integrity and enforceability of international law. The United Nations and the International Criminal Court at the Hague are basically sidelined as credible organizations. The result is that officials effectively lack the capacity to command accountability from war criminals at the highest level.

The still-misrepresented events of 9/11 ushered in many transformations dramatically for the worse in the global community. These transformations include the negation of much of the juridical inheritance emanating from centuries of evolutionary progress in the community of nations. For the time being this juridical inheritance has been pretty much swept into the garbage bin leaving the world a much more dangerous place. Atrocities like the Israeli treatment of indigenous Palestinians or the extrajudicial Baghdad drone strikes of 2 January 2020 epitomize the subordination of the rule of law to the law of the jungle.

Benjamin Netanyahu has continued the longstanding Israeli practice of trying to push the United States and its supposed allies into invading Iran in order to conduct regime change. That priority was emphasized immediately after 9/11 when the Canadian Zionist neocon, David Frum, wrote the words of a pivotal speech for US President George Bush. Frum had Bush refer to Iran as part of the “axis of evil.” David Frum’ sister, now a Canadian Senator, has continued her brother’s preoccupation. She has long been working with Michael Mostyn and Benjamin Netanyahu “in advocating for the listing of the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist organization.”

Setting Up NATO Soldiers and Iranian Soldiers to Kill Each Other to Advance Israel’s Expansionary Ambitions

The decades-old Israeli push to pressure the United States and its “allies” into war with Iran was renewed in April of 2019. As reported in The Times of Israel, just days before an Israeli general election, Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Donald Trump for increasing his chances of being re-elected. Netanyahu’s thank you was for Trump’s political decision to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. In a Hebrew language tweet Netanyahu thanked Trump for “acceding to another one of my important requests.”

As Tamar Pileggi reported in The Times of Israel

Trump said his administration’s “unprecedented” designation “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”…. Since taking office, Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, slashed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians, and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

There is cause to be suspicious about the deadline announced for the Trudeau government’s ratification of the B’nai Brith Canada’s demand. To designate the whole armed forces of a foreign country as a “terrorist organization” is basically to declare war on the host country of that military organization. How is it in Canada’s interests or in the interests of the United States for that matter to give way to Israeli pressure pushing North America into a war with Iran?

The issue of time comes up because of recent announcements from the White House that Trump and Pompeo want to see NATO troops, including those of Canada, take over from US troops in Iraq. Trump needs this concession from NATO countries to meet an election promise. He has to have some symbolic bringing of US soldiers home from the Middle East prior to the US presidential election later this year.

Is it the goal of the Israel Lobby to push Canada and other NATO countries into a war posture with Iran after Trump bragged about assassinating “the number one terrorist anywhere in the world.” At the bidding of Trump, the NATO countries are pushed to enter a Middle East after it has been transformed by the criminal drone strike on the Iranian people’s most popular and beloved war hero?

Indeed, the admiration of General Suleimani, a real foe, not a pretend foe, of the Daesh proxy army is not limited to Iran, to the Muslim world or the Middle East. I can think of no military figure in the Western world that commands anything like the degree of respectful recognition that General Suleimani earned even from some that consider themselves enemies of the polities that the Quds force fought to help.

Is the issuing of the 30-day time limit by B’nai Brith Canada based on insider knowledge? Does the Israel Lobby in Canada know that there will soon be an influx of Canadian soldiers to replace US soldiers in Iraq? After the events of January 2, these US soldiers in Iraq and throughout the Middle East have had targets painted on their back by the war mongering of their Israeli-puppet Commander In Chief in the White House.

Is the rush to get the Canadian government to accept the terrorist designation part of a plan to encourage young NATO soldiers to kill young Iranian soldiers if they encounter one another in Iraq? Are we witnessing a plan to assemble NATO fighting forces in Iraq with the view that they would then be in a more strategic position to invade neighboring Iran?


Anthony James Hall has been Editor In Chief of the American Herald Tribune since its inception. Between 1990 and 2018 Dr. Hall was Professor of Globalization Studies and Liberal Education at the University of Lethbridge where he is now Professor Emeritus. The focus of Dr. Hall’s teaching, research, and community service came to highlight the conditions of the colonization of Indigenous peoples in imperial globalization since 1492.

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What’s the Point of NATO If You Are Not Prepared to Use It Against Iran?

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 16, 2020

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance commits all members to participate in the defense of any single member that is attacked. An attack on one is an attack on all. Forged in the early stages of the cold war, the alliance originally included most of the leading non-communist states in Western Europe, as well as Turkey. It was intended to deter any attacks orchestrated by the Soviet Union and was defensive in nature.

Currently NATO is an anachronism as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the desire to continue to play soldier on an international stage has granted it a measure of life support. Indeed, the alliance is regularly auditioning for new members. Its latest addition is Montenegro, which has a military consisting of 2,000 men and women, roughly one brigade. If Montenegro should be attacked, the United States is obligated to come to its assistance.

It would all be something like comic opera featuring the Duke of Plaza Toro but for the fact that there are certain things that NATO does that are not really defensive in nature but are rather destabilizing. Having expanded NATO right up to the border with Russia, which the U.S. promised not to do and then reneged, military exercises staged by the alliance currently occur right next to Russian airspace and coastal waters. To support the incursions, the myth that Moscow is expansionistic (while also seeking to destroy what passes for democracy in the West) is constantly cited. According to the current version, Russian President Vladimir Putin is just waiting to resume control over Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and the Baltic States in an effort to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. This has led to demands from the usual suspects in the U.S. Congress that Georgia and Ukraine be admitted into the alliance, which would really create an existential threat for Russia that it would have to respond to. There have also been some suggestions that Israel might join NATO. A war that no one wants either in the Middle East or in Europe could be the result if the expansion plans bear fruit.

Having nothing to do beyond aggravating the Russians, the alliance has gone along with some of the transnational abominations initially created by virtue of the Global War on Terror initiated by the loosely wrapped American president George W. Bush. The NATO alliance currently has 8,000 service members participating in a training mission in Afghanistan and its key member states have also been parts of the various coalitions that Washington has bribed or coerced into being. NATO was also actively involved in the fiasco that turned Libya into a gangster state. It had previously been the most developed nation in Africa. Currently French and British soldiers are part of the Operation Inherent Resolve (don’t you love the names!) in Syria and NATO itself is part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

NATO will now be doing its part to help defend the United States against terrorist attack. Last Wednesday the alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with President Donald Trump on the phone in the wake of the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport. The killing was apparently carried out using missiles fired by a U.S. Reaper drone and was justified by the U.S. by claiming that Soleimani was a terrorist due to his affiliation with the listed terrorist Quds Force. It was also asserted that Soleimani was planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and would have killed “hundreds” of Americans. Evidence supporting the claims was so flimsy that even some Republicans balked at approving the chain of events.

Nine Iraqis also died in the attack, including the Iraqi General who headed the Kata’Ib Hezbollah Militia, which had been incorporated into the Iraqi Army to fight against the terrorist group ISIS. During the week preceding the execution of Soleimani, the U.S. had staged an air attack that killed 25 Iraqi members of Kata’Ib, the incident that then sparked the rioting at the American Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

Bearing in mind that the alleged thwarted terrorist attacks took place seven thousand miles away from the United States, it is hard to make the case that the U.S. was directly threatened requiring a response from NATO under Article 5. No doubt the Mike Pompeo State Department will claim that its Embassy is sovereign territory and therefor part of the United States. It is a bullshit argument, but it will no doubt be made. The White House has already made a similar sovereignty claim vis-à-vis the two U.S. bases in Iraq that were hit by a barrage of a dozen Iranian missiles a day after the killing of Soleimani. Unlike the case of Soleimani and his party, no one was killed by the Iranian attacks, quite possibly a deliberate mis-targeting to avoid an escalation in the conflict.

In spite of the fact that there was no actual threat and no factual basis for a call to arms, last Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke by phone with President Donald Trump “on developments in the Middle East.” A NATO press release stated that the two men discussed “the situation in the region and NATO’s role.”

According to the press release “The President asked the Secretary General for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East. They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.” A tweet by White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere later confirmed that Trump had “emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East.” Prior to the phone call, Trump had announced that he would ask NATO “to become much more involved in the Middle East process.”

As the Trumpean concept of a peace process is total surrender on the part of the targeted parties, be they Palestinians or Iranians, it will be interesting to see just how the new arrangement works. Sending soldiers into unstable places to do unnecessary things as part of a non-existent strategy will not sit well with many Europeans. It should not sit well with Americans either.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Reading Sun Tzu in Tehran

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 15, 2020

Iran is not done. General Hajizadeh, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, said in a briefing yesterday that the strike “was the starting point of a great operation”. He also underlined that “the strikes were not meant to cause fatalities: We intended [rather] to deliver a blow to the enemy’s military machine”. And the Pentagon is saying, too, that Iran intentionally missed US troops at the bases. This is tantamount to the Pentagon admitting that Iran can land missiles with extreme accuracy over a distance of several hundred miles – and further, this occurred with not one missile being intercepted by the US forces. To completely avoid targeting soldiers at a large military base is no mean feat – it suggests an accuracy within a meter or two – not ten meters – for Iranian missiles.

Isn’t this the point? It suggests that advances in Iran’s guidance systems can land missiles with extreme precision. Haven’t we seen something similar happen recently in Saudi Arabia (Abqaiq)? And was it not clear from Abqaiq that highly expensive US air defence systems do not work? The IRGC satisfactorily have demonstrated that they and their allies can penetrate US manufactured air defence systems, using domestically produced ‘smart’ missiles, and by using their electronic warfare systems.

The US bases around the region – in short – now represent vulnerable US infrastructure – and not strength. Ditto for those expensive carrier battle fleets. The Iranian message was clear and very pertinent to those who understand (or want to understand). To others, less strategically aware, it might seem that Iran pulled its military punch, and showed weakness. Actually, when you have just demonstrated the ability to upend the military status quo, there is no need for a hail of trumpets. The landing of the message itself is the ‘blow’ to a ‘military machine’. Neatly calibrated: it avoided head to head-on war. Trump stood down (and claimed success).

So then, is it all over – all done and dusted? Finished with? Not at all. Both the Supreme Leader and Gen. Hajizadeh said (effectively) that the strike represented an outset – ‘a beginning’. But much of the MSM – both in the West and some in Israel – lend a cultural ‘tin ear’ towards how Iran manages asymmetric war – even when it is spelled out explicitly.

Asymmetric warfare is not a ‘dick swinging’ exercise. It is more David and Goliath. Goliath can crush David with a blow from his clenched fist, but the latter is nimble; quick on his feet, dancing around the giant – just out of his reach. David has stamina, but the giant lumbers heavily around, and is easily angered and exhausted. Eventually, even a well-aimed pebble – not even a Howitzer – brings him down.

Listen closely to the Iranian message: Should the US withdraw from Iraq, as requested by the Iraqi Parliament, and in accordance with its agreement with the government of Baghdad, and then ‘go’ from the region, the military situation will ease. However, should US insist on staying in Iraq, US forces will come under political and military pressure to quit – but not from the state of Iran. It will come from the inhabitants of those states in which the US forces presently are deployed. At this point, US soldiers may be killed (though not by Iranian missiles). It is America’s choice. Iran holds the initiative.

Iranian leaders have been very explicit: The ‘slap’ of the strike at the Ain al-Assad base is not the pay-back for General Soleimani’s targeted assassination. Rather, it is the campaign consisting of the amorphous, quasi-political, quasi-military, asymmetrical war on America’s presence in the Middle East that has been dedicated as fitting to his memory.

This is David dancing around Goliath. Soleimani’s assassination has energised and mobilised millions in a new fervour of resistance (and not just the Shi’a, by the way). And the trashing of Iraq’s sovereignty by President Trump’s response to the vote in the Iraqi parliament (calling for foreign forces to leave Iraq), has created a new political paradigm which even the most pro-American of Iraqis cannot easily ignore. It is – notably – a non-sectarian mission (removing foreign forces).

And Israel, after initial self-congratulation (amongst the Netanyahuists) has understood that Iran has ‘stepped-up’, and not ‘stepped back’. Veteran Israeli security corresponded Ben Caspit writes:

“The letter of Gen. William H. Sili, commander of US military operations in Iraq, was leaked and then rapidly disseminated among Israel’s most senior security figures on Jan 6 … The content of the letter — that the Americans were preparing to withdraw from Iraq immediately — turned on all the alarm systems throughout the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. More so, the publication was about to set in motion an Israeli “nightmare scenario” in which ahead of the upcoming US elections, President Donald Trump would rapidly evacuate all US forces from Iraq and Syria.

“Simultaneously, Iran announced that it is immediately halting its various commitments regarding its nuclear agreement with the superpowers, returning to high-level uranium enrichment of unlimited amounts and renewing its accelerated push for achieving military nuclear abilities. “Under such circumstances,” a senior Israeli defense source told [Caspit], “We truly remain alone at this most critical period. There is no worse scenario than this, for Israel’s national security … It is not clear how this letter was written, it is not clear why it was leaked, it is not clear why it was ever written to begin with. In general, nothing is clear with regard to American conduct in the Middle East. We get up every morning to new uncertainty.””

The impeachment of the US President launched by the House, has left Trump very vulnerable to the Zionist and Evangelical rump in the US Senate, whose votes nonetheless will be essential to Trump’s bid to remain in office when the articles of impeachment move to the Senate. And to a trial where Trump must block the Democrats allying with any Republican rebels in order to achieve a two-thirds ‘guilty’ vote. The Impeachment leverage has been used several times to push Trump to act in the Middle-East directly contrary to his electoral interest – which remains contingent on keeping soaring markets – and in talk of a China Trade deal.

What Trump needs most now (in electoral campaign terms) is a de-escalation with Iran – one that would mitigate political pressure from the neo-con and Evangelical quarters, and allow him to show-case the inflated asset markets.

But this is precisely what he will not get.

Trumps’ attempts to contain the Iranian response to the Soleimani killing were unreservedly rebuffed by Tehran. The missives were never opened, nor allowed for them to be spoken by the mediators. There is no room for talks, unless Trump lifts sanctions and the US re-commits to the JCPOA. This will never happen. There will now be immense pressure from all the Israel lobbies for America to remain in Iraq and Syria (pace Caspit’s comments). And the ghost of Soleimani’s ‘revenge’ will haunt America’s forces in the region for months, if not years, to come.

Iran – wisely – has eschewed direct, state-to-state military conflict, for a more subtle, and pernicious war on the US presence in the Middle East – a war, which if successful, will re-cast the region.

No, it’s not over. Its set to escalate (but in an asymmetrical way). Trump will remain squeezed in the rogue Senators’ vice.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraqis must resort to resistance if US forces refuse to pull out: Senior Nujaba official

Press TV – January 14, 2020

The deputy secretary general of Iraq’s al-Nujaba Movement says the Iraqi nation must choose the path of resistance in case the parliamentary bill demanding the withdrawal of all US-led foreign military forces from the country is not implemented.

“The Iraqi people must opt for the path of resistance unless the parliament’s decision on the pullout of foreign forces is carried out,” Nasr al-Shammari said in an exclusive interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on Tuesday.

He added that the decision to expel foreign forces from Iraq does not need a parliamentary mandate, stating that the US-led military coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh terrorist group entered Iraq at the request of Baghdad government and can be removed by a letter from the government as well.

“The decision concerning the removal of foreign forces from Iraq is the only decision taken away from sectarian fault lines. A person of sound mind cannot accept the presence of a foreign state that imposes its own authority on a sovereign country. If getting foreign forces out of Iraq is a charge, then we consider it as an honor for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren,” Shammari pointed out.

He then noted that all Iraqi resistance factions are united to end the presence of foreign troops in the country, saying, “The United States must respect the sovereignty of states and decisions of peoples, and adhere to them.”

“Iraq will not accept being ruled by any country. Any failure to implement the parliament decision on the withdrawal of foreign forces will give the green light for the start of resistance operations,” Shammari highlighted.

The Nujaba official went on to say that Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi, have become more coherent and solid in the wake of the recent US assassination of the second-in-command of PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

“The death of Muhandis does not mean the end of Hashd al-Sha’abi and its role in the region,” Shammari said.

He added that Iraqi resistance groups are indebted to Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

“The resistance against US forces will soon attain its goal of removing foreign troops from the Iraqi soil. The blood of martyrs will finally bring about the demise of the Zionist entity, and the end of its occupation of Arab lands,” Shammari concluded.

Baghdad moving to internationally prosecute US for crimes in Iraq

Meanwhile, a member of the Iraqi Parliamentary Human Rights Committee said the Baghdad government was preparing to prosecute the United States at international courts of law for its crimes in Iraq, noting that the offenses amount to genocide.

“The United States has been committing the most heinous war crimes since 2003 up until now. The invasion of Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, the Nisour Square massacre and the emergence of Daesh (Takfiri terrorist group) besides the attack on the leaders of Hashd al-Sha’abi are all crimes classified as genocide,” Ahmed al-Kanani said in a statement on Tuesday.

Kanani added, “All the crimes that America has perpetrated against the Iraqi nation are documented, and that there are bids to prosecute Washington for its crimes against Iraqis before international courts.”

On January 5, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

Late on January 9, Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

According to a statement released by the Iraqi premier’s office, Abdul-Mahdi “requested that delegates be sent to Iraq to set the mechanisms to implement the parliament’s decision for the secure withdrawal of (foreign) forces from Iraq” in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The prime minister said Iraq rejects violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military’s violation of Iraqi airspace in the airstrike that assassinated Lt. Gen. Soleimani, Muhandis and their companions.

Abdul-Mahdi asked Pompeo to “send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism to carry out the parliament’s resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq,” the statement said.

“The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements,” the statement added.

The US State Department bluntly rejected the request the following day.

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump and Congress Double Down on Demonizing Iran

Will the national security nightmare ever end?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 14, 2020

If one seriously seeks to understand how delusional policymakers in Washington are it is only necessary to examine the responses by the president and Congress to the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani. The first response came in the form of a Donald Trump largely incoherent nine-minute self-applauding speech explaining what he had done and why. It was followed by a House of Representatives War Powers non-binding resolution that was all theater and did nothing to limit the president’s unilateral ability to go to war with the Islamic Republic.

It was reported that the Trump speech had been hurriedly written by aides the night before it was given and that it existed in several competing drafts. It was full of out-and-out lies and half truths and intended to reassure the American people that the president was keeping them safe. The opening line might well be regarded as some kind of joke: “As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.” Trump has in fact done more to ensure that Iran will have a nuclear weapon than any other president through his abrupt withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and his assassination of Soleimani, which together have convinced the Iranian leadership that there is no possibility of a reasonable negotiated solution when dealing with the American president, even when he claims he wants to “talk.”

Trump then went on characteristically to eulogize our brave soldiers on far flung battlefields before lying again, saying “For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.” Lie one is that the “destructive and destabilizing behavior” actually has Made in U.S.A. stamped all over it. Lie two is “leading sponsor of terrorism,” an honor that belongs to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States, in that order. And lie three is that Iran “pursued” nuclear weapons. It has never done so.

Trump them boasted that “Last week, we took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives. At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qasem Soleimani. As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.” Trump’s preening was again wrong on every count: Soleimani is no terrorist by any reasonable definition, nor is there any evidence that he threatened American lives. And Trump and his chorus of neocons cannot name a single “atrocity” committed by the man

The president claimed that Soleimani “… viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims,” a particularly absurd charge suggesting that Trump believes that any American soldier who died in Iraq or Afghanistan did so at the hands of the Iranian Major General. By the same logic, the musical chairs series of American generals that have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have murdered hundreds of thousands of people. If Trump wants to start counting fatalities he should perhaps start with David Petraeus.

Piling Ossa on Pelion, Trump declared that Soleimani “… orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him.” There is no evidence whatsoever to support either assertion and Trump then goes on to ascribe all the problems of the Middle East to Iran, ignoring the roles played by others, most notably Washington, Israel and the Saudis. He also roundly condemned the JCPOA before asserting falsely that “Three months ago, after destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi…” In reality, ISIS was defeated by the Syrian Army and its allies Russia and Iran, the very countries that Trump has continued to vilify even as he struts his anti-terrorist credentials. Qassem Soleimani played a major role in the destruction of ISIS.

The only good things in the Trump speech were that it was short and the president did not find it necessary to say a whole lot of good things about Israel. Interestingly, no one in the mainstream media or in the political chattering class made much effort to challenged Trump on the “facts” he cited, though there was some pushback from mostly Democratic congressmen who stated that they could not see any “imminent threat” in the evidence that the Administration produced during a classified briefing. The actual war powers concurrent resolution that passed in the House last Thursday was symptomatic of the unwillingness of the political opposition to take on the illegal and immoral wars in the Middle East themselves – it had no teeth and will not change anything.

The resolution’s subject line “Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” actually is misleading. And the first thing the text does do is slam Iran with the same dubious “facts” employed by Trump, including that “The Government of Iran is a leading state sponsor of terrorism and engages in a range of destabilizing activities across the Middle East. Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was the lead architect of much of Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the world.”

The resolution includes “In matters of imminent armed attacks, the executive branch should indicate to Congress why military action was necessary within a certain window of opportunity, the possible harm that missing the window would cause, and why the action was likely to prevent future disastrous attacks against the United States.” It then goes on to explain that “When the United States uses military force, the American people and members of the United States Armed Forces deserve a credible explanation regarding such use of military force…” because “The War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.) requires the President to consult with Congress ‘in every possible instance’ before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities.” It concludes with “Congress has not authorized the President to use military force against Iran.”

It would seem to be a devastating critique of the Trump Art of War but then comes the wiggle room “… Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military, unless Congress has declared war or enacted specific statutory authorization for such use of the Armed Forces; or such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces, consistent with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. Nothing in this section may be construed to prevent the President from using military force against al Qaeda or associated forces…” In other words, all Trump has to do is claim “imminent threat” or that he is attacking “terrorist associated forces” and he is home free no matter what he does, particularly as the resolution itself is non-binding.

The sheer ignorance and arrogance of elites in Washington combined with a colonialist mentality that dismisses Asians and Africans as unthinking “wogs” who will do one’s bidding if they are confronted with punishment is currently on display. It was inevitable that Iraq would demand the departure of U.S. troops after thirty-four Iraqi militiamen were killed by American drone and air strikes, but many in Washington just didn’t get it. Trump threatened, in characteristic fashion, to respond with sanctions, but now Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has made it official in a phone call to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding a plan and timetable for the removal of the American soldiers. The State Department has indicated that it is not prepared to discuss the matter.

Some pundits who should know better have predicted that the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers will not take place because Iraq somehow “needs” the United States. And besides, there will be economic consequences if Iraq does go ahead to insist on an American withdrawal. But sometimes abstractions prove to be more powerful than material incentives. The United States violated Iraqi sovereignty not once but twice and murdered 30 Iraqis in the process. Pompeo can huff and puff all he wants and Trump can mouth his illiteracies, but nothing changes the fact that the United States did things it did not have to do based on a delusional view of the Middle East and will have to pay a price. Minus a presence in Iraq, Syria will be untenable and one might hope that once the U.S. loses its ability to directly confront Iran on the ground the whole house of cards just might collapse, leading to Washington’s gradual departure from the region. That would be good for the region and also for the United States even if Israel and the Saudis, who prefer to have Americans fight and die in their wars, might object.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

US to Iraq: ‘Vote All You Want, We’re Not Leaving!’

By Ron Paul | January 13, 2020

President Trump’s decision earlier this month to assassinate Iran’s top military general on Iraqi soil – over the objection of the Iraqi government – has damaged the US relationship with its “ally” Iraq and set the region on the brink of war. Iran’s measured response – a few missiles fired on an Iraqi base after advance warning was given – is the only reason the US is not mired in another Middle East war.

Trump said his decision to assassinate Gen. Qassim Soleimani was intended to prevent a war, not start a war. But no one in his right mind would think that killing another country’s top military leader would not leave that country annoyed, to say the least. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said the Trump Administration’s briefing to Congress on its evidence to back up claims that Soleimani was about to launch attacks against the US was among the worst briefings they’d ever attended.

After initially claiming that Soleimani had to be taken out immediately because of “imminent” attacks he was launching against the US, Trump Administration officials including Secretary of State Pompeo and Defense Secretary Esper have been busy walking back those claims. Esper claimed over the weekend that he had not seen the intelligence suggesting an attack on US embassies was in the works. If the Secretary of Defense did not seen the intelligence, then who did?

No doubt the Iraqi leadership recognized these kinds of deceptions: the same kinds of lies were used to push the US into attacking their own country in 2003. So it should not have come as a big surprise that the Iraqi government met last week and voted that all foreign military personnel should leave Iraqi soil.

Then a funny thing happened when the Iraqi prime minister attempted to communicate to the US government the will of the Iraqi people through their democratically-elected officials. On Thursday Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi phoned Pompeo to urgently request that Washington enact a US troop “withdrawal mechanism” in Iraq. American troops are in Iraq by invitation of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi government had just voted to revoke that invitation.

The State Department responded with a statement titled “The US Continued Partnership with Iraq,” in which it essentially said that the US would not abide by the request of its Iraqi partners because the US military is a “force for good” in the Middle East and that as such it is “our right” to maintain “appropriate force posture” in the region.

The US invaded Iraq based on Bush Administration lies and a million Iraqis died as a result. Later, President Obama ramped up the drone program and also backed al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists to overthrow the secular Syrian government. Obama also attacked Libya based on lies, leaving the country totally destroyed. Trump is assassinating foreign officials and threatening destruction of Iran.

And the State Department calls that a “force for good”?

The United States can be a true force for good, however. End the military occupation of the Middle East, end foreign military aid, stop using the CIA to overthrow governments. Allow Americans to travel and do business in any country they wish. Lead by example and demonstrate how free markets and peace benefit all. A “force for good” means not forcing others to bow to your will.

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments