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Shocking leaked files once again expose BBC as insidious UK foreign policy tool

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | July 20, 2021

A newly released raft of government papers has revealed the British Broadcasting Corporation’s extensive involvement in spreading pro-London, pro-EU, and pro-NATO messaging across the Balkans.

In February, classified documents revealed that BBC Media Action (BBCMA), the ‘charitable arm’ of the British state broadcaster, was embroiled in a number of clandestine operations to “weaken the Russian state’s influence,” funded by the UK Foreign Office.

The exposure raised serious questions about the BBC’s international reputation as a ‘neutral’, ‘objective’ purveyor of news, and what implications its murky relationship with Whitehall has for its output more widely. A further tranche of leaked files, related to covert UK actions in the Balkans, amply reinforces that the organization serves as a cloak-and-dagger device for achieving London’s foreign policy goals.

The papers indicate that BBCMA has been operating across the region since 1996, conducting a wide variety of “media capacity-building, reform and change management” projects. Cited examples of its initiatives include “reforming [the] institutional structures” of Montenegro’s state broadcaster RTCG, working with Macedonian media to “effectively cover elections” and act as a “watchdog,” and supporting the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Public Broadcasting System.

The organization also targeted youth audiences in five separate Balkan countries with “an innovative multi-platform media project,” which aimed to “build young people’s capacity for civic participation.” The centrepiece was “social media-based educational web drama” #SamoKazem (Just Saying). Strikingly, viewers were directed to “offline activities to translate awareness into action for change,” strongly suggesting stirring teenagers to activism was the program’s ultimate objective.

Details of BBCMA’s extensive meddling in Serbia greatly reinforces the overtly political nature of its Balkan ventures. From 2007 to 2017 alone, it delivered “four large-scale projects” in the country, such as “a challenging undertaking” with Radio Television Serbia (RTS) over the course of two years “to assist in its transition from state to public service broadcaster,” and working to “professionalise” five local radio stations “to develop their capacity to hold local government to account.”

The organization also delivered a huge three-year project for the European Union, which “strengthened media capacities for improving objective public information about all aspects of EU integration” ­– in other words, it assisted in the production of pro-Brussels propaganda.Vital work indeed, considering Serbian citizens remain by far the most skeptical about bloc membership.

Under the program’s auspices, BBCMA distributed a two-million-euro grant to 25 Serbian media platforms, and helped produce a staggering 174 separate TV programs, including the 15-part RTS series ‘What’s in It for Me?’ – which averaged 500,000 viewers per episode and won a national award for best EU-related documentary – and human trafficking docudrama ‘Sisters’, which was shown at the United Nations and won “numerous” awards.

Other files explicitly confirm that there is little meaningful distinction between the BBC and its charitable arm. In service of a Foreign Office effort to counteract allegedly falling levels of independence in Macedonian and Serbian media, which ran from November 2016 to March 2019, BBCMA created “a pool of local media professionals with the skills, knowledge and willingness to ensure digital media plays an effective role in fostering debate and accountability.”

Beneficiaries were said to have benefited from the British state broadcaster’s “wealth of experience and talent in creating quality journalism and compelling programmes,” with BBC journalists embedded in the organizations for which they worked in order to provide “mentoring/on-the job training, production support and co-production.” They were also granted access to the BBC Digital Lab, BBC studios, and BBC Blue Room.

The organization asserted in its Whitehall submissions that it considered the production of content to be a fantastic opportunity to “have [an] impact with Serbian and Macedonian audiences.” The consequences of its machinations aren’t certain, although it could be significant that one veteran BBC journalist assigned to the project was in charge of “masterminding” coverage of UK elections during their many years at the Beeb.

After all, the endeavor concluded not long before North Macedonia’s 2019 presidential vote, which pitted pro-EU, pro-NATO candidate Stevo Pendarovski against Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, a more skeptical, pro-Russian figure. While the first round of the election produced a virtual tie, precipitating a runoff, Pendaraovski was comfortably elected in the second. What’s more, previously leaked files make abundantly clear that the Foreign Office sought to interfere directly in the process in other ways.

That the UK government is engaged in multiple cloak-and-dagger initiatives to influence politics and perceptions in the Balkans is sinister enough, without even considering the covert and overt role played by London in the blood-spattered breakup of Yugoslavia, the non-aligned, independent republic that once comprised most of the region. Given this history, BBCMA’s restructuring of RTS is rendered particularly disquieting.

On April 23, 1999, in the midst of the West’s protracted bombing campaign against Serbia, RTS’ headquarters in Belgrade, along with several radio and electrical installations throughout the country, were targeted for destruction by NATO missiles. In all, 16 journalists were killed in the strike and 16 more wounded, with many trapped in the rubble for days afterward.

In the face of significant international condemnation, high-ranking US and UK officials rushed to declare the bombing entirely justified. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair defended it on the basis the station was part of “the apparatus of dictatorship and power” of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

“The responsibility for every single part of this action lies with the man who has engaged in this policy of ethnic cleansing and must be stopped,” he added.

Of course, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a UN body established to prosecute crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars and their perpetrators, would eventually conclude Yugoslav troops had not in fact pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing, and Milosevic, who died in a UN prison in 2006, was posthumously exonerated of all charges.

The ICTY also considered whether the RTS bombing constituted a war crime, ultimately ruling that while its pro-government transmissions didn’t make the station a military target, as the action aimed to disrupt the state’s communications network, it was still legitimate.

Amnesty International branded the tribunal’s findings a miscarriage of justice, and contradictorily too, the judgment quoted NATO General Wesley Clark, who oversaw the overall campaign, as saying it was well-understood that the attack would only interrupt RTS broadcasts for a brief period, but “we thought it was a good move to strike it and the political leadership agreed with us.” In the event, it was off the air for a mere three hours.

Another motive for the hideous incident unexplored by the ICTY could well be that the station’s reporting on NATO’s almost-daily attacks on civilian and industrial infrastructure in Serbia was overly problematic for the military alliance, given its intervention was sold on humanitarian grounds. Nine days prior to the RTS bombing, as many as 85 innocent civilians were killed when NATO jets bombed a Kosovan refugee convoy.

While spokespeople initially claimed the tragedy was an “accident”, RTS subsequently broadcast a chilling recording of the pilot who delivered the deadly payload being repeatedly ordered to strike the convoy on the basis it was a “completely legitimate” target, despite them protesting that they couldn’t see any tanks or military hardware on the ground, just cars and tractors. If truth is the first casualty of war, purveyors of truth are surely the second.

n a perverse irony, though, the ICTY did record that NATO had warned Yugoslav authorities weeks prior that RTS may be caught in the crossfire, unless it acquiesced to broadcasting six hours of uncensored Western media reports per day to balance its coverage, thus making it an “acceptable instrument of public information.”

With the troublesome socialist federation of Yugoslavia now irrevocably smashed into pieces, Whitehall needn’t threaten the use of military force to compel Balkan media outlets to transmit pro-Western propaganda. It simply dispatches BBC staffers to their offices, under the bogus aegis of promoting media diversity, free expression, democracy, civic participation, and fostering debate, to ensure they remain “acceptable” instruments of public information.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. 

July 20, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Alternative for Germany Party Leader Wants Exit From EU, More Cooperation With Moscow

By Ilya Tsukanov – Sputnik – 12.07.2021

The popularity of the nationalist Alternative for Germany (Alternative fur Deutschland – AfD) party shot up dramatically from a state of virtual obscurity in the mid-2010s as Germans struggled to deal with the migrant crisis of 2015-2016, with the party winning 94 seats and becoming the third largest party in the Bundestag in the 2017 elections.

Germany has no choice but to leave the European Union and to create a “new European space” in which Russia will also have a place, AfD parliamentary group co-chair Tino Chrupalla has said.

“Germany should exit today’s European Union, which simply cannot be reformed, and establish a new European economic and interest group,” Chrupalla said in an interview with Welt published on Sunday.

The politician lamented that Germany’s post-World War 2 national identity and culture had been heavily influenced by the “psychological warfare of the Allies, especially the Americans,” which he compared to the Nazis. As an example of such malign influence, the politician cited Washington’s strategy of trying to torpedo the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Germany and Russia, suggesting that the US was pursuing “strategic interests” via a “deliberate strategy of disinformation and the manipulation of public opinion” in Germany.

Chrupalla went into greater detail on his party’s vision of a new association of European nations to replace the EU in an op-ed in the Junge Freiheit newspaper, rejecting the concept of an EU “superstate” in favour of a ‘Europe of fatherlands’. The EU, he suggested, had failed utterly in tackling several major emergencies, including the euro crisis, and the migrant and coronavirus crises.

The politician also clarified that instead of the concept of a UK-style ‘Gexit’, AfD’s policy was to support ‘Neustart’, or ‘Reset’ – a “common reset for Europe” which includes an invitation for all AfD’s European sister parties “to join us.”

On the prospect of improved ties with Moscow, Chrupalla emphasized in his op-ed that “a good relationship with Russia is not negotiable,” and that Russia is “an integral part” of Europe economically, politically and culturally.

The politician accused EU elites of “sticking to old Cold War thought patterns” about Russia, and noted that while “communism in Eastern Europe has long been defeated, European opinion leaders were importing new Western ideologies from the US ‘New Left’,” such as identity politics and its promotion of positive discrimination, resulting in social unrest which he stressed “must be overcome.”

“With Russia, a large European state and an important trade partner has been excluded from the European Union. Furthermore, at the insistence of our US partners, we are constantly imposing new trade sanctions on the Russians for new reasons,” Chrupalla wrote.

According to the politician, these restrictions ultimately come back and hit the German economy and medium-sized businesses, causing them to lose out as Russia replaces its imports from Germany with new trade ties with Asia. “Trade between Germany and Russia fell by 25 percent between 2013 and 2019, and in Saxony by 70 percent. It cannot go on like this!” Chrupalla argued.

Ultimately, the politician suggested that both countries would benefit if sanctions are lifted and new ones are ruled out. “Russia is also an integral part of Europe culturally and politically, and Germany always does well when it has good relations with Russia,” Chrupalla stressed.

Chrupalla’s views on foreign policy aren’t representative of the AfD as a whole, with party co-chair Jorg Meuthen recently suggesting that a German exit from the EU is a “poorly thought out idea.” The party is also traditionally in favour of close ties to the US and Israel, and of keeping Germany a member of NATO. Since its emergence as a major political force in the Bundestag following the 2017 elections, the party has experienced an intense internal debate regarding these and other policies.

Germans will go to the polls on 26 September for general elections to the Bundestag and multiple state parliaments. Longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to retire after the elections. A recent INSA/YouGov poll indicated that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union alliance enjoys a plurality of 28 percent support at the moment, with the Social Democratic Party and the Greens second with 17 percent support each. 12 percent of respondents said they plan to support the Free Democratic Party, 11 percent said they would vote for the AfD, and 8 percent said they plan to give their vote to the democratic socialist Die Linke. Like the AfD, Die Linke supports an improvement in Germany’s relations with Russia. The party also has a firm policy of opposition to NATO and proposes to replace the alliance with a new collective security system for Europe with Russia as a member. Despite their ideological differences, AfD and Die Linke occasionally cooperate on certain issues.

July 13, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

The Danger that NATO Poses to Americans

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | July 9, 2021

Imagine a massive nuclear exchange between the United States and China. That obviously would not be a pretty sight for the people of either nation. As the mushroom clouds arose over both nations, imagine thinking to yourself: “All this because of a socialist road.”

According to an article in the London Daily Mail, the governments of China and Montenegro entered into an agreement in which China agreed to build a road for Montenegro that would extend to the Serbian capital of Belgrade. The road is only partially built and is now being called the “road to nowhere.”

China financed the road with a $1 billion loan to Montenegro. The first installment on the loan is due this month. But there is a good chance that Montenegro, “whose debt has soared to more than double its GDP,” will have to default.

The loan agreement entitles China to seize land within Montenegro, so long as it isn’t owned by the military or used for diplomatic purposes.

What does all this have to do with a nuclear war between the United States and China? 

If Montenegro defaults and, for whatever reason, refuses to permit China to seize its collateral, China might well invade the country to enforce its loan agreement. 

What does that have to do with the United States?

In 2017, Montenegro became a member of NATO. Under NATO’s membership rules, NATO members, including the United States, are bound to come to the defense of other NATO members in the event that a non-NATO nation attacks them. 

I can’t help but wonder how many Americans realize that they have had their lives and fortunes pledged to the defense of Montenegro. For that matter, the same holds true with respect to all the other members of NATO, which are as follows: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and United Kingdom.

What’s amazing is how this process works. No one came to Congress and asked whether the American people were willing to sign a treaty with Montenegro that committed American lives and fortunes to the defense of Montenegro in some future war. My hunch is that if that had happened, enough Americans would have risen up to successfully oppose such a treaty.

Instead, all that had to be done was to have NATO bureaucrats approve Montenegro as a new NATO member. No approval of the American people was needed at all. The lives and fortunes of the American people are determined by bureaucrats in Brussels, Belgium, where NATO headquarters are located.

This is nuts! As recently as 2020, NATO bureaucrats agreed to admit North Macedonia into the organization. North Macedonia? Where the heck is North Macedonia?

Why do the American people continue to go along with this junk? Do they have such low regard for their own lives and fortunes that they are willing to subject themselves, their families, and their money to the whims of faraway foreign bureaucrats? Or do they just feel too helpless to stand up and say no? Or is their passivity just part of the overall deference-to-authority mindset that is inculcated into Americans in public (i.e., government) schools?

Let’s assume that there was no NATO and that China then attacked Montenegro to enforce its road loan agreement. How many Americans would travel to Montenegro to give their lives in the defense of Montenegro? 

Answer: None! Not one single American, including the most ardent interventionists and anti-communists and including every member of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, would go to Montenegro to defend the country, 

Why should the United States be part of an organization in which foreign bureaucrats are deciding when and under what conditions the American people are going to war? Why shouldn’t Americans be free to decide which wars to enter on an individual war-by-war basis?

Our nation’s Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, warned against these types of “entangling alliances.” Today’s Americans would be wise to heed their words and withdraw the United States from NATO, that old Cold War dinosaur, before it’s too late.

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 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

Serbia Leads in Cancer Deaths in Europe After NATO Strikes, Oncology Institute Director Says

Sputnik – 29.06.2021

BELGRADE – The use of depleted uranium bombs by NATO in 1999 and the destruction of environmentally hazardous facilities during air strikes led to Serbia currently leading in cancer deaths across Europe, Danica Grujicic, director of the Institute for Oncology and Radiology of Serbia (IORS), told Sputnik.

“There are more and more children with oncological disorders, cancer appears in previously uncharacteristic age groups. In patients, including children, the growths react weaker to therapy. Despite all necessary tests, it is increasingly difficult to predict the behavior of tumors. Serbia is now first place in Europe in mortality from cancer,” Grujicic said.

She stressed that the consequences of the use of uranium and chemicals during the bombings of Yugoslavia by NATO will be felt for a long time, especially taking into account what the UN Environment Program described as an “ecocide” and a “regional environmental disaster in April 1999.”

The oncologist noted that the first results of the bombings, which may be called the “acute phase” in the medial field, are death, destruction of infrastructure, and pollution of the air, rivers and soil. The next stage, according to Grujicic, is the “chronic phase,” which was first noticed by veterinarians in the south of central Serbia after domestic animals began bearing abnormal offspring.

Medics then started observing more cases, as benign growths develop unpredictably and aggressively in humans, Grujicic noted.In 2018, there were almost 30,000 new cancer patients registered in central Serbia, without including the autonomous regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina, compared to 19,000 in 1999. The death toll in 2018 reached 15,500, as opposed 12,000 in 1999, despite better treatment available, the oncologist stated. Within the country there have been some 58,000 new cancer cases reported in one year, out of a population of seven million.

A group of some one hundred scientists and medical experts previously suggested that the Serbian government conduct a detailed study on the consequences of the 1999 NATO strikes. The half-life of uranium is about 4.5 billion years.

NATO airstrikes in Yugoslavia continued from March 24 to June 10, 1999. The exact number of victims of the airstrikes is unknown. Serbian authorities suggest that as many as 2,500 people, including 89 children, were killed and about 12,500 people were injured in the bombings. According to various sources, the material damage is assessed at between $30 billion and $100 billion.

The military operation was conducted without the approval of the UN Security Council and on the basis of Western countries’ allegations that Yugoslavian authorities had carried out ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and provoked a humanitarian catastrophe.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Britain wants to turn Ukraine into its stronghold but now realizes its limitations in the Black Sea

By Paul Antonopoulos, | June 28, 2021

Kiev and London have signed a Memorandum of Intent in the field of military shipbuilding. The partnership envisions joint design, as well as the construction of ships and naval bases in Ukraine. If the plan comes to fruition, this could maybe pose as a security risk for Russia in the Black Sea as NATO countries will have access to newly constructed naval bases, but after last week’s incident, London has likely come to the realization that its power is limited.

The memorandum was signed on the British Royal Navy HMS Defender frigate in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, just two days before the UK provoked a near-crisis by violating Russian territorial waters. The “Defender” intentionally violated Russian borders, resulting in the Russian military firing warning shots and forcing the British warship to change its course. The incident was such an embarrassment for the British that they are still denying Russia’s strong reaction.

If new naval bases are built in Ukraine, it would be to serve the ships of non-Black Sea NATO countries, such as the U.S. and the UK. It must be stressed though that for now this is a memorandum, which is not binding, and thus it calls into question its implementation.

Signing the memorandum on behalf of the UK, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin said: “The UK and Ukraine have a close defence relationship, and we continue to strengthen this partnership to help deter shared threats” and “I am delighted that British and Ukrainian industry will work together on these projects, which will provide world-leading capabilities and provide opportunities for both our nations to boost our shipbuilding enterprises.”

London has long been strengthening cooperation with Kiev in the defense sector in its attempt to create a stronghold for itself in the region – this is to spread its influence and spy on Russia. With UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempting to build a “Global Britain”, creating a stronghold in Ukraine is part of its long-term strategy given London’s belief that it is a powerbroker all across Europe. London sees the post-Soviet space as one of the regions where British influence should expand. However, as last week’s incident between the Russian and British Navies demonstrated, the UK is not even remotely close to achieving a “Global Britain.”

The main message of the memorandum is to demonstrate Britain’s power. However, Russia, as another global player, is perceived as a direct competitor and this is why British authorities are attempting to weaken it. Ukraine is a suitable stronghold for British ambitions against Russia given the pervasive and obsessive Russophobic ideology that permeates Kiev. Therefore, London is just merely using Kiev for its own interests.

The British provocation in Russian territorial waters last week was an attempt to portray the British Navy as a global power in the 21st century. However, even U.S. President Joe Biden was not impressed with London’s action, but none-the-less, was still accused of emboldening Russia. Sources told The Telegraph that the U.S. decided against sailing close to Crimea alongside the British.

According to media reports, London and Kiev plan to build eight missile boats. In addition, the Ukrainian Navy could get two modern British minesweepers in a joint project with Ukrainian companies. It was announced that the work will be financed by Britain, and Kiev hopes that British experts will complete the “Vladimir the Great” corvette. The parties expect to confirm the agreements in August.

When it comes to bases, it is assumed that one could be built on the Sea of ​​Azov, and the other on the Black Sea. Keeping in mind the condition of the Ukrainian fleet, experts estimate that Ukraine does not need two new military bases, especially since serious military shipbuilding has not existed in the country since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian fleet is nearly obsolete, with most vessels stemming back to the Soviet era, along with only a few gunboats from the U.S.

The signing of the memorandum was done in order to strengthen the general impression that Britain is not only an independent player, but also an important ally of Ukraine. However, London would be seriously considering their capabilities in the Black Sea, especially since the signing of the memorandum was done before their provocations against Russia spectacularly failed and embarrassed the country to the extent that they had to deny that such an event occurred.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

HMS Defender Versus The Russian Military: The Danger of Believing Your Own Propaganda

By Ron Paul | June 28, 2021

Less than two weeks after NATO members reaffirmed allegiance to Article 5 – that an attack on one member was an attack on all members – the UK nearly put that pledge to the test. In a shockingly provocative move, the UK’s HMS Defender purposely sailed into Crimean territorial waters on its way to Georgia.

Press reports suggest that there was a dispute between the UK defense and foreign ministries over whether to violate Russia’s claimed territorial waters with a heavily armed warship. According to reports, Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself jumped in to over-rule the more cautious Foreign Office in favor of confrontation.

As Johnson later claimed, because the UK (and the US) does not recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the UK was actually sailing through Ukrainian waters. It was an in-your-face move toward Russia just weeks after the US and NATO were forced to back down from a major clash with Russia in eastern Ukraine

This time, as was the case in eastern Ukraine, the Russians took a different view of the situation. Russian coast guard vessels ordered the HMS Defender to exit Russian territorial waters – an order they punctuated with rare live fire of cannon and dropping of bombs.

Having had their bluff called, the UK government did what all governments do best: it lied. The Russians did not shoot at a UK warship, they claimed. It was a previously-scheduled Russian military exercise in the area.

Unfortunately for the UK government, in its haste to create good propaganda about standing up to Russia, they had a BBC reporter on-board the Defender who spilled the beans: Yes, the Russian military did issue several warnings, yes it did buzz the HMS Defender multiple times, and yes there were shots fired in the Defender’s direction.

Similarly, in the spring, Russia rapidly deployed 75,000 troops on the border with Ukraine in response to a US-backed Ukrainian military build-up. The message was clear: Russia would no longer sit by as the US government and its allies intervened next door.

Russia now has demonstrated that it will protect Crimea, which voted in a 2014 referendum to re-join Russia. The Crimean vote was triggered by the US-backed coup in Ukraine. That is called “unintended consequences” of foreign interventionism.

The problem with the UK, the US, and their NATO allies is that they believe their own propaganda and they act accordingly. A famous 2004 quote attributed to George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, clearly spelled out this line of thinking. Said Rove, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

These two recent near-clashes with Russia demonstrate that the “reality” created by an almost religious belief in American or NATO exceptionalism can often crash hard against the reality of 75,000 troops or the Black Sea Fleet

The anti-Russia propaganda endlessly repeated by both political parties in Washington and amplified by the anti-Trump media for more than four years has completely saturated the Beltway and beyond. Even as the Russiagate conspiracy was proven to be a lie, the propaganda it spawned lives on.

Blustering Boris Johnson almost provoked a major war over an infantile desire to continue poking and prodding Russia in its own backyard. This time the war was averted, but what about next time? Will the adults ever be in charge?

Copyright © 2021 by RonPaul Institute.

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Russophobia | , | 5 Comments

Afghan Ghani makes farewell call on Biden

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | JUNE 25, 2021

When the anointed king receives his vassal formally at his durbar for the first time, it is a moment of truth conveying that the latter’s obeisance is noted, while the vassal hopes to claim legitimacy.

A US president is due to receive Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in the White House on Friday after a gap of some 6 years. The symbolism is profound: Ghani is in Washington, as the Taliban is tightening its noose on Kabul. On Thursday, Ghani was closeted with the CIA Director William Burns for a two and half hour meeting. 

Yet in April, when President [sic] Joe Biden announced the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, he didn’t think it necessary to speak to Ghani beforehand. The troop withdrawal is now more than half completed. 

The expectations are low as Biden receives Ghani. But then, all is not well in Biden’s camp. The Pentagon and the CIA were never really on board his withdrawal decision. They sought an open-ended presence in Afghanistan.

They have now seized the worsening security situation in Afghanistan to present an apocalyptic scenario and make out a case for some sort of continued US military and intelligence presence in Afghanistan, although Biden claims to have ended the “forever war”. 

Ghani is also to meet at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and possibly other administration officials. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is exploring how American contractors (mercenaries) could perk up Ghani’s demoralised army. 

To be sure, by getting an audience at the Oval Office, Ghani hopes to boost his standing in the Afghan bazaar. But that may not salvage his precarious position in Kabul. The obstreperous Afghan warlords are gathering behind the gates of Kabul.  

Ghani has no power base and his whimsical behaviour has alienated most power brokers in Afghanistan. Only two days ago, the prominent Mujahideen leader Ismail Khan (“Amir of Herat”) accused Ghani of being the main obstacle to forming a national consensus. read more

In an interview with The Associated Press a week ago, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said, “The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear objective of fighting extremism and bringing stability … but extremism is at the highest point today. So they have failed… Where are they leaving us now? In total disgrace and disaster.”  

Karzai added, “We will be better off without their military presence. I think we should defend our own country and look after our own lives. … Their presence (has given us) what we have now. … We don’t want to continue with this misery and indignity that we are facing. It is better for Afghanistan that they leave.” 

Evidently, the least that the US can do now is to just go away. Washington’s earlier expectation was that the Taliban would be amenable to some form of continued US presence in Afghanistan, and that Pakistan might also see advantages in it. But that turned out to be a delusional hope. 

Thus, the Biden administration has drifted away from Islamabad lately, once it dawned that Islamabad is averse to identifying with the war in Afghanistan.

Since no regional capital is willing to collaborate, Washington has zeroed in on Ankara as its newest indispensable partner. A US team landed in Ankara on Thursday to flesh out how a Turkish military contingent at Kabul Airport could provide underpinning for the security operations in Afghanistan.

Washington is pandering to President Erdogan’s Neo-Ottomanism. Turkey already has bases in Iraq, Syria, Qatar and Libya, and plans to open a new base in Azerbaijan. But Pakistan will have mixed feelings about a Turkish military presence next door. And the Taliban has criticised Ankara for messing around in Afghanistan. 

The Taliban’s morale is skyrocketing, as it senses victory. A circular to Taliban military commanders from Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy head of the movement’s shura, said on Thursday, “The situation was military and jihadi, but now you are entering a civilian situation… The political process that has been continuing on the side for the past 14 months has been very meaningful… Good governance is the need of the hour… This is a very sensitive phase.” 

Again on Friday, coinciding with Ghani’s visit to the White House, Taliban has issued a second statement with guidelines on treating all ethnic groups in a non-discriminatory manner, how to secure liberated districts and protect government buildings, allow trade, reopen schools and hospitals, etc.

Clearly, there is little the Americans can do now. The seasoned military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington Anthony Cordesman hit the nail on the head when he wrote this week, “The time has come to write off Afghanistan. There are no signs that a strong, unified, and effective Afghan government is emerging.” 

According to Cordesman, who has served as a consultant at the Pentagon, “Brutal as it may be to say so, it is simply too late to reverse the departure of U.S. and allied forces… The U.S. has already withdrawn and closed too much. Too many forces and bases are gone, too many capabilities are lost, and the Taliban has already made too many gains.”

“Measures like keeping small numbers of U.S. military advisors in or near Afghanistan, finding some way to keep military contractors in the country, providing limited advisory and maintenance support from the outside, boosting intelligence cadres in Kabul and near Afghanistan – and all the other ‘forlorn hope’ approaches to provide support after September 1, 2021, are token measures that at best provide a political cloak for withdrawal.” read more

June 26, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Uyghur Tribunal: Inciting Hatred Against China

By Christopher Black – New Eastern Outlook – 22.06.2021

The fascists are very active these days and one of the proofs of this dark shadow looming over the world is the recent so-called “peoples’ tribunal” put on in London over three days in early June. Otherwise called the “Uyghur Tribunal,” it is headed by Sir Geoffrey Nice, Q.C, the Machiavellian British barrister, knighted by the Queen for his services to Britain, who became notorious for trying to frame-up Yugoslavia’s President Milosevic at the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal.

This new ‘tribunal’ follows on the China Tribunal also headed by Nice and also based in London, which focused on fabricated allegations of forced organ trafficking by China. This second tribunal focuses on fabricated allegations against China concerning the treatment of Uyghurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The allegations before both of these ‘tribunals’ have one objective; to slander the Communist Party of China and to undermine China as a developing and sovereign nation.

The ‘tribunal’ is part of the propaganda matrix being constructed by NATO, led by the USA and UK, which has the objective of manipulating people’s minds to generate hatred and hostility towards China to, at the least, hinder its trade and development, at worst, to prepare the minds of people for war. In that sense this ‘tribunal’ is nothing less than a part of the preparation for war, and can be seen, under international criminal law, as part of a conspiracy to engage in the supreme war crime, the crime of aggression.

The same tactics are being applied to Russia with all the false allegations being made by the Americans against Russia, allegations that Joe Biden shamefully repeated in his meeting with President Putin in Geneva, as if he was king of the world dressing down a wayward vassal. No wonder that meeting was cut short. Only a fly on the wall can tell us what was really said and happened in Geneva, but who can imagine the Russians sitting there for long having to listen to a lecture on how they should stop doing what they are not doing “or face the consequences.” How can any serious person sit there and not either laugh out loud or become angry at the absurdity of it? But of course that is the spin in the western media, the spin that Biden put on the meeting; that he “talked tough to Putin.” Bluster and lies is the American way.

The bluster and lies continued at the Uyghur tribunal over the three days of “hearings” that took place from June 4 to 7 which were staged as a piece of theatre, even to the extent of the organisers selling tickets to attend. It was all acted out by a company of roaming players who go from one forum to another playing their roles, speaking their lines on cue from a script written by shadowy men and women in shadowy rooms in London and Washington.

Geoffrey Nice not only is chair of the two tribunals dealing with China and persecutor of President Milosevic, he is also a co-author of the Caesar Report on Syria, produced by the NATO backed Centre For Justice and Accountability so-called, another propaganda outfit focused on slandering Syria, along with his friend, former US Ambassador For War Crimes, Stephen Rapp. He seems to be NATO’s ever eager go-to lawyer when they need some propaganda put out to justify their wars

One of Nice’s most notorious crimes in the Milosevic show trial at the ICTY was to deliberately mislead the judges and the world by stating that the Kosovo Field speech made by Milosevic proved Milosevic was for a Greater Serbia. But Milosevic produced the real speech proving that he had said the exact opposite of what Nice claimed, that he had called for inter-ethnic tolerance. Nice was proved to be a liar. But the judges did nothing to him. He was allowed to continue spewing lies day after day throughout that show trial because NATO wanted the show to go on and Nice was their chosen circus ringmaster. So, it is no surprise that he was chosen to be ringmaster of this new propaganda circus.

This ‘tribunal’ claims to be independent. Yet it is neither a “tribunal’ nor independent. It has no legal or other authority. It certainly has no moral authority when we look at its funding and the experts called upon to give their ‘evidence,’ for we see clearly the connections between it, the NATO governments and western financial interests.

Much of its funding comes from the World Uyghur Congress whose affiliations with the CIA and funding by the National Endowment For Democracy are well known. In fact it was the World Uyghur Congress that asked Geoffrey Nice to set up the tribunal, according to him, and it provided the initial funding, so that we see right at the beginning, that the US government, through the CIA and NED, is directly involved with the Nice tribunal. Let us look at some of the others involved.

There is Nick Vetch, an extremely rich British businessman, who is founder and CEO of BigYellow a large UK storage company, which, in turn, has some of its shares owned by US financial companies such as Blackrock Inc, Standard Life Aberdeen, American Financial Group and others. Vetch is also a director of the Global Human Rights Fund, a UK “human rights’ organisation, which appears to provide some funding to the Nice tribunal. He is also a member of Nice’s China Tribunal.

Vetch’s connection to the Fund indicates who is behind his activities since the Global Human Rights Fund in turn gets its funding from the European Union, the Swedish Government, the Ford Foundation, George Soros, The Rockefeller Foundation, and other US corporate-backed foundations. The Chair of the Fund is Chris Canavan, managing director of Lion’s Head Global Partners, formerly Director of Global Policy Development for the Soros Fund, formerly senior official with Goldman Sachs Bank in New York and a lifetime member of the US Council on Foreign Relations.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Other members of the ‘tribunal’ are members of the British Establishment, and aside from anti-China credentials seem to be brought in to add some credibility to the proceedings. They include Dame Parveen Kumar, a UK doctor and member of the British Establishment, Ambreeana Manji, UK law professor who once worked for the British Institute in East Africa, Tim Clark, a UK lawyer and senior director of Vetch’s company Big Yellow and who is also an adviser to G3, which claims to be ‘one of the leading international strategic advisory groups’. Based in London, G3 seems to be an intelligence group with murky connections.

The list includes Ramindar Kaur, social anthropologist, writer, and “human rights” activist who is also deeply immersed in the British establishment. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and head of a number of government studies on UK social issues. There is Dr. David Lynch, a specialist on cancer at University College London, Audrey Osler, Professor of education and human rights, University of Leeds, an advocate of using human rights education to achieve changes in world societies, and Catherine Roe, who began her career as a British diplomat, specialising in multilateral negotiations and who is now a Trustee of the Institute of International Strategic Studies.

Hamid Sabi, is styled as “counsel to the tribunal.” He is a British lawyer, active in the service of the western powers. He is, among other things, a director of Justice For Iran, an organisation accusing Iran of human rights violations, whose recommendations for sanctions against Iranian officials and Press TV are followed by the US and EU and UK governments and who has a history of attacking China.

He is assisted by Aarif Abraham, another UK lawyer, and former lawyer for the NATO tribunal for Yugoslavia, (ICTY) another very anti-China, pro-foreign intervention type who wrote a paper on the Uighurs accusing China of all sorts of crimes. Another assistant is Aldo Samit Borda, a Maltese, but now a lawyer in the UK involved in human rights, who has connections with the British government as he once worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat. The NATO-ICTY connection continues with Marilena Stegbauer, their general assistant, a German, and former intern for the NATO prosecutor at the ICTY, former researcher at Human Rights Institute in the UK, then a writer for The German Diplomat in Germany, who now calls herself a “human rights consultant”.

There is Frankie Vetch, production assistant, son of the Vetch senior, making the tribunal a bit of a Vetch family affair, and Nevenka Tromp, another NATO asset who also worked at the ICTY as a researcher for prosecution in the Milosevic and Karadzic trials. The group is rounded off with Baroness Helena Kennedy, adviser and member of the British House of Lords, Queen’s Counsel, also member of the International Bar Association Institute of Human Rights who in 2020, worked with the Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith and “democracy activist” with Hong Kong Watch, Luke de Pulford, to create the global pressure group the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, in March 2021,

The Coalition for Genocide Response is a supporter of the tribunal. It is the project of John Luke de Pulford mentioned above who is a prominent London establishment anti-communist, anti Chinese Government figure and a supporter of Nathan Law, the Hong Kong fifth columnist working for British interests in Hong Kong, now fled to London. In fact the tribunal has also revealed that it was launched on 3 September 2020, with assistance from the Coalition for Genocide Response that was founded by John Luke de Pulford, the protégé of British journalist turned activist, Benedict Rogers, and Hong Kong Watch functionary, who also has close links to Stand with Hong Kong. Benedict Rogers is the founder of Hong Kong Watch, a notorious propaganda outfit that specializes in churning out fallacies about China. Rogers also has put out false claims about North Korea, works with governments from the UK to Canada and USA and is a leader of the anti-communist Christian Solidarity Worldwide. He states that he introduced Nice to the Uyghurs a couple of years ago. Rogers recently appointed Nice to Hong Kong Watch as a patron, joining the former British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. Another of its patrons is Lord David Alton, who is linked with the concocted report on the Hong Kong Police Force, which the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, of which he is a vice-chair, produced in 2020.

On Sept 23, 2020, in the House of Lords, Alton asked the British foreign office minister, Lord Ahmad, if the government would “welcome” the initiative to set up the “Uyghur Tribunal”, and “cooperate” with it. The minister did not give a clear reply but the tribunal has since thanked the British government for fast-tracking visas for foreign nationals to attend the tribunal. In view of Alton’s links with Hong Kong Watch, the extent to which it is covertly involved in the tribunal cannot be underestimated as Benedict Rogers is also an adviser to the World Uyghur Congress. The circle of interconnections is complete.

Those are the people behind the tribunal. Some, like Nice, are clearly NATO assets. None of them are independent or objective.

Since this is supposedly a tribunal they had to produce witnesses. These fit into two categories, expert witnesses and witnesses of fact, that is, people who claim to have observed things.

These were duly paraded before the tribunal, one after one, made statements without offering any proof of their claims and then retired with none of them cross-examined on their statements. Their claims were not tested at all; not by the ‘judges’ who are also in fact the “prosecutors” nor by anyone else. Instead the statements were accepted as true without any examination and when the ‘witnesses’ faltered in reading their lines, the ‘judges’ assisted them. This is not the procedure of a trial or even a hearing. It is more closely associated with an Inquisition. Nice and company are not interested in the truth or falsity of the claims being made. Their only interest is in making sure the statements they require to make effective anti-Chinese propaganda are supplied.

The so-called ‘expert witnesses’ included Ethan Guttman, a Senior fellow at the anticommunist “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an American organisation funded by the US Congress to “educate people on the evils of communism,” who has made many wild claims about China in particular on allegations of “organ harvesting” and Adrian Zenz, also a fellow at the same anti-communist organisation. His propaganda work is notorious.

It incudes Laura Murphy, trained as a literature scholar, who became a “human rights” professor at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, University of Sheffield. Harvard educated, she seems to be a professional witness and has worked for US Government Office of Victims of Crime, and other US government agencies, has put out propaganda on the BBC about “forced labour” in China and received an award for her propaganda work from the US government agency the National Endowment For Humanities, and grants from their National Humanities Centre. She also received grants from the British Academy.

Finally there is Dr. Darren Byler, of the University of Colorado, who is engaged in post doctoral work with the ChinaProject, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, a famous, anti-communist organisation founded by Henry Luce, and, Nathan Ruser, an Australian researcher with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who is an expert in satellite data and surveillance who has written a number of anti-Chinese propaganda articles. There are a few others of the same type.

The factual witnesses are a travelling troupe of players many of whom have given statements in other venues, often contradicting their claims at the tribunal. The Chinese government has exposed the lies of several of these witnesses who travel the world as professional witnesses-earning their keep by telling stories which do not bear up under any scrutiny. But none of the witnesses testified under a real oath, none were questioned on the contents of their statements or how they came to the attention of the organisers, apart from being recruited by the World Uyghur Congress.

Having myself experienced how Nice and the other prosecutors at the Yugoslav and Rwanda tribunals got people to be witnesses, and how they coerced them into given false testimony when required makes it impossible to accept any of the statements made by these alleged witnesses with anything less than complete disbelief. Not that it matters in legal terms. Despite Nice spouting platitudes about “reasonable doubt” and “assessing the evidence” we all know what the outcome of the hearings, to be continued in September, will be; the condemnation of China.

So there we have it, another propaganda exercise masquerading as a search for justice and accountability, But it is about time these propagandists be held accountable for their actions, for manufacturing hatred and hostility towards a nation that has brought its people out of the poverty imposed on them by the west during the colonial period and which the west wants to impose again.

At the Nuremberg Trials the Nazi propagandist, Julius Streicher, was hanged for putting out propaganda about Jews and inciting hatred leading to genocide. At the Rwanda Tribunal the members of a radio station were convicted of genocide for allegedly making false reports on events that the prosecutors claimed instigated hatred that led to genocide. Hate speech is proscribed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other treaties. Is this not what Nice and his players are doing, trying to instigate hatred and hostility to justify war, to justify harming and killing Chinese? Is this not where it all leads? Is this not a crime against humanity? Are not they the real criminals?

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds.

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Biden agreed to Turkey defending Kabul airport, says US official

MEMO | June 18, 2021

US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed on Turkey’s offer to take a leading role in the defence of Afghanistan’s Kabul Airport, the US National Security Advisor has revealed.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Jake Sullivan said that the two leaders discussed the situation in Afghanistan during their meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit on Monday. According to Sullivan, Erdogan sought certain unspecified US assistance for Turkey in return for the deployment of Turkish troops at the airport following the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country. Biden apparently accepted this.

“The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport,” explained Sullivan. “And we are now working through how to execute to get to that.”

The security of the airport in Kabul is seen as vital for the operation and continuation of diplomatic missions to Afghanistan. It would serve as the safest exit point for diplomats in the event of a potential security breakdown in the country, such as the Taliban’s defeat of Afghan government forces.

Last week, however, the Taliban also warned Turkey to withdraw its troops and said that its military presence at the airport would not be welcome. “Obviously we take seriously the concern that the Taliban or other elements in Afghanistan will attack the Western or the international presence,” said Sullivan. “We do not believe that what the Taliban has said publicly should or will deter the efforts underway right now to establish that security presence.”

The agreement between Ankara and Washington comes after years of strained relations between the two over a myriad of issues. A primary dispute remains Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system, which the US and other NATO members condemned due to the system’s potential breach of the alliance’s security.

Sullivan addressed that issue, revealing that there was no progress and the two leaders maintained their respective positions. “They discussed it. There was not a resolution of the issue. There was a commitment to continue the dialogue on the S-400 and the two teams will be following up on that coming out of the meeting.”

June 18, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Jessica Ashooh: The Taming of Reddit and the National Security State Plant Tabbed to Do It

How and why did a hawkish young mandarin hothoused at elite universities and in the halls of state power end up an executive at an anarchic messageboard site with an anti-establishment reputation?

Photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera
By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | June 11, 2021

Reddit is one of the world’s most influential news and social media platforms. The website attracted over 1.2 billion visits in April 2021 alone, making it the United States’ eighth most visited site, ahead of other leviathans like Twitter, Instagram and eBay. Now majority-owned by a much larger corporate publishing empire, Reddit is also far ahead of more established news sites, garnering three times the numbers of Fox News and five times those of The New York Times.

That is why it was so surprising that so little was made of the company’s decision to appoint foreign policy hawk Jessica Ashooh to the position of Director of Policy in 2017, at which time it was also the eight most visited site in the U.S. Ashooh, who had been a Middle East foreign policy wonk at NATO’s think tank the Atlantic Council, was appointed at around the same time that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee was demanding more control over the popular website, on the grounds that it was being used to spread disinformation. In her role as Director of Policy, she oversees all government relations and public policy for the company, in addition to managing content, product and advertising. Yet a Google search for “Jessica Ashooh Reddit” filtered between late 2016 and early 2017 (after she was appointed) elicits zero relevant results, meaning not one media outlet even mentioned the questionable appointment.

This is all the more hair-raising, given her resume as a high state official — all of which raises serious questions about the extent of collaboration between Silicon Valley and the national security state.

A hawk’s talons on Syria

The Atlantic Council is the de-facto brains of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and takes funding from the military alliance, as well as from the U.S. government, the U.S. military, Middle Eastern dictatorships, other Western governments, big tech companies, and weapons manufacturers. Its board of directors has been and continues to be a who’s who of high U.S. statespeople like Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, as well as senior military commanders such as retired generals Wesley Clark, David Petraeus, H.R. McMaster, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the late Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, and Admiral James Stavridis. At least seven former CIA directors are also on the board. As such, the council chooses to represent both political wings of the national security state.

Ashooh’s LinkedIn resume epitomizes the troubling relantionship between think tanks and big tech.

Between 2015 and 2017, Ashooh was Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Strategy Task Force, working directly with and under Madeline Albright and Stephen Hadley. This is particularly noteworthy, given both these individuals’ roles in the region. As Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Albright oversaw the Iraq sanctions and the Oil for Food Program, denounced as “genocide” by the successive United Nations diplomats charged with carrying them out. In an infamous interview with 60 Minutes, Albright casually brushed off a question about her role in the killing of half a million children, stating “the price is worth it.” Meanwhile, Hadley was deputy or senior national security advisor to the government of George W. Bush throughout the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, surely the greatest crimes against humanity thus far in the 21st century.

Ashooh appears to be as hawkish as her bosses. Her particular area of expertise is the war in Syria, regarding which she has been among the most belligerent voices, constantly calling for more American intervention to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. In a 2015 interview with Al Jazeera, she praised the U.K. government’s decision to bomb the country, claiming that the British public was “coming around” to the idea of war. A shocked interviewer asked “how will the British airstrikes [on] Syria… make the British public any safer?” Ashooh replied that it was “generally a positive decision” because “it goes a long way in improving international consensus on the way forward on Syria,” although she lamented that there wouldn’t be “much improvement in the situation without ground troops.” There will be “no political solution without a military element,” she predicted, essentially making the pitch for war.

Ashooh has also constantly praised and supported Syria’s opposition forces. In 2016, she said that she was very happy that “fighters on the ground from a number of key factions” were uniting against the “Assad regime.” She condemned Russia for claiming these opposition forces were members of terrorist groups like Al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Islam or ISIS, insisting that these were “moderate” rebels.

Of course, the idea that there was still any measurable distance between “moderate” rebels and outright militant jihadists by 2016 was hard to maintain. Even The Washington Post by this time was admitting as much, noting that so-called moderates were now so “intermingled” with al-Nusra that it was difficult to tell them apart.

Nevertheless, the New Hampshire native took to the pages of The New York Times to demand that the U.S. arm the opposition. Of course, it was already doing so, the CIA spending $1 billion per year fielding rebel mercenary armies in the conflict — with one in every 15 dollars the agency spent going to this endeavor. All of this Ashooh surely knew, yet she maintained that the West must continue to “jack up the price” of Russia defending Assad. “As long as [Assad] remains in power and remains the figurehead of the Syrian government… this conflict won’t end,” she said, laying out her regime-change-or-bust position. Just weeks before unexpectedly taking over at Reddit, Ashooh seemed to still be in full foreign-policy-hawk mode, condemning Obama in the pages of The Washington Post for his apparent softness on Syria and demanding that Trump “restore U.S. credibility” by “order[ing] targeted, punitive strikes against the Assad regime.”

Jessica Ashooh

Ashooh attends British Polo Day at Abu Dhabi’s Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club. Photo | Ahlan

Dirty war, dirty warrior

Ashooh is actually even more involved in the Syrian conflict than one might realize from her hawkish opinions alone. Between 2011 and 2015, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, in her own words, “[p]rovid[ing] senior decision makers with policy analysis and strategic advice, with a particular focus on Syria.”

At that time the UAE was using its enormous financial clout to arm and fund a myriad of jihadist groups attempting to overthow the secular strongman Assad and establish some kind of Islamic state. Far from a conspiracy theory, this comes straight from the horse’s mouth, as then-Vice President Joe Biden revealed in a Q&A session in 2014. The future president frankly stated:

The Saudis, the Emiratis, what were they doing?… They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. “

Under pressure, he later apologized for his loose lips.

MintPress News asked the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment on precisely what Ashooh’s role was, but they failed to respond.

Jessica Ashooh Kurdistan

Ashooh is pictured during her time as a “consultant” in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo | Academyalumni

Ashooh herself appears to have been a relatively major player in the Syrian Civil War. In her previously mentioned Washington Post article, she notes that her boss was a former Emirati Air Force General and that she was flown to Istanbul in 2013 to attend an emergency meeting with leaders of the Syrian opposition, as well as ambassadors from unnamed Arab and Western states, in order to plan a response to a reported chemical weapons attack and to help the U.S. “coordinate with the Syrian opposition.”

At the same time as she was advising the nation on Middle Eastern affairs, the UAE was widely accused of flying ISIS and al-Qaeda leaders into Yemen to help them intensify the Saudi-led onslaught on the impoverished nation and of smuggling U.S.-made weaponry — including small arms, TOW missiles and Oshkosh fighting vehicles — to the jihadist groups. While Ashooh’s writing is careful to maintain a distinction between the “moderate” rebels she supports and the fundamentalist radicals she does not, it certainly is noteworthy that the entities she worked for consistently seem to end up in league with the most regressive forces in the region. MintPress also reached out to Reddit for comment on why they appointed Ashooh, given her past history, and on the wider phenomenon of government penetration of social media. The company initially promised to issue a response to the inquiry but has not followed through with it.

Opposing some dictatorships, supporting others

Regime change is on the table for more than just one Middle Eastern nation. In a 2017 paper for the Center for the National Interest — a think tank established by former Republican President Richard Nixon and the “Godfather of Neoconservatism,” Irving Kristol — Ashooh explores the different options for forcing regime change in Iran, but concludes that overthrowing the “odious regime” is an impossible task right now, and criticizes the idea as a quixotic dream.

Nevertheless, she is far from an Iran dove. An Atlantic Council report she co-wrote insists that “Iranian interference in the Arab world must be deterred,” and that “America’s friends and partners must be reassured that the U.S. opposes Iranian hegemony and will work with them to prevent it.”

Ashooh’s commitment to fighting against Middle Eastern dictatorships might seem more principled if she did not appear so enamored of the least democratic one of them all. In 2016, she accompanied Albright and Hadley to Saudi Arabia and praised the monarchy’s dynamic leadership on the economy and its nurturing of a new generation. “It was really really exciting to see that level of energy and the level of government support for these young people who were interested in shaping their own futures… it was just wonderful,” she said. In an article about her experience for business news website Market Watch, she waxed lyrical about how forward-thinking the Saudi government is and how the country has become “a hub for the dynamic and positive change that is swelling up throughout the region.” Presumably, this excludes Yemen, a nation they were bombing relentlessly. In a 2020 interview, Ashooh revealed that her dream job would be U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. One of her earliest comments on her public Reddit page (made before she began working there) is deflecting the Kingdom from criticism of its dreadful treatment of women.

As part of the Atlantic Council, Ashooh was tasked with envisaging a new Middle East for the 21st century. Given her output, it seems that she advocates for a transition towards a more privatized, free-market economic setup, not completely unlike the shock therapy tried in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. “We have to “encourage states to make the reforms that move economies from state-based to ones that support entrepreneurship, because the age of state-based economies is over,” she said at a talk at New York University in 2015, adding:

You’ve got to move to support entrepreneurship in the region and let people take advantage of the natural industrial tendencies of people in the Middle East. My God, if you’ve ever been to a Turkish bazaar or a market in Cairo you know that these countries are perfectly capable of having functioning market economies. But the state has gotten in the way.

Ashooh’s LinkedIn profile also notes that in 2010, she worked as an advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Planning “on a variety of strategic and economic development issues,” but does not go into any more detail about what those issues were. A further biography merely states that her consultancy agency “provid[ed] strategic and management consulting services to the Ministry of Planning of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq.” Unsurprisingly, the organization has links to the U.S. military; the agency’s lead partner being a former Army captain.

Think Tankie

Ashooh comes from a relatively prominent New Hampshire family of Lebanese descent, the most notable of which is probably her uncle Richard. Richard Ashooh was Donald Trump’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and a former executive at weapons manufacturer BAE Systems. Unlike her uncle, Jessica appears to lean more Democratic, having donated money to a number of local politicians, as well as to anti-Trump Republican groups aimed at convincing them to vote blue, such as Right Side PAC and the now infamous Lincoln Project. However, she also appears to have great respect for many Republicans, having written her doctoral thesis at Oxford University on the Middle East policy of the George W. Bush administration. She also stated that the person she would have most liked to have met was 41st President George Bush Senior, describing him as possessing “incredible amounts of strategy, finesse and restraint.” Thus, her political views appear to be exactly in the center of the neoliberal “blob” in Washington.

Ashooh also worked for the right-wing think tank the CATO Institute and is a Term Member of the more Democratic-aligned Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR’s term member program is intended to, in its own words, “cultivate the next generation of foreign policy leaders.”

Surveillance Valley

How and why, then, did a hawkish young mandarin hothoused at elite universities and in the halls of state power end up an executive at an anarchic messageboard site with an anti-establishment reputation? Virtually everyone else in senior roles at Reddit has relevant backgrounds in marketing or tech, having worked with comparable companies such as Yelp, Expedia and Snapchat.

Tom Secker — a journalist, podcaster and researcher who runs SpyCulture.com, an online archive about government involvement in the entertainment industry — was deeply skeptical. “That someone whose entire career has been in international relations and foreign affairs is now the senior policy wonk at Reddit is simply bizarre. Given her ties to the CFR, Atlantic Council and the like, it’s downright suspicious,” Secker told MintPress.

Underneath the surface, however, the Atlantic Council has been rapidly expanding its influence and control over big social media companies. In 2018, it announced that it would be partnering with Facebook to promote trustworthy sources and derank, demote and even delete low quality or fake news, thus effectively curating what the platform’s 2.85 billion worldwide users see in their news feeds. But the effect of recent algorithmic changes has been to throttle alternative media traffic in favor of establishment sources such as CNNFox News and The New York Times. Even such more mainstream liberal sites as Mother Jones have seen their numbers crater. Facebook later admitted that they were directly targeting Mother Jones because of its left-leaning content, raising the question that if such a middle-of-the-road liberal outlet was being penalized, wasn’t the collapse in traffic to more radical publications surely deliberate? Given the Atlantic Council’s funding and the identities of those on its board, their control over social media is tantamount to state censorship on a global level.

Earlier this year, Facebook also hired NATO press officer Ben Nimmo to be its intelligence chief, in another move that dismayed free-speech advocates. In the past, Nimmo has identified a Welsh pensioner and an internationally known Ukranian pianist as Russian bots, raising more questions about the suitability of the Atlantic Council to be an arbiter of truth online.

The Facebook-Atlantic Council link mirrors that of Microsoft with NewsGuard, a new piece of software purportedly trying to fight fake news by placing either green shields or red warning logos, corresponding to an outlet’s credibility, beside all links in its browser, Microsoft Edge — this credibility being decided entirely by NewsGuard itself. Newsguard pushed Microsoft to install the software on all its products as standard. Again, however, NewsGuard’s system rated establishment websites like Fox News and CNN as trustworthy but independent media as suspect. And again, a glance at its advisory board makes it clear that this is a state operation. Those in key positions included George W. Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security and former NSA and CIA Director General Michael Hayden; ex-White House Communications Director Don Baer; and former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Worse still, NewsGuard is also linked to a PR agency employed in whitewashing the Saudi government’s human-rights record and its role in the carnage in Yemen.

Twitter, too, has some extremely troubling links with state power. In 2019 Gordon MacMillan, a senior Twitter executive responsible for the Middle East region, was outed as an active duty officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online operations and psychological warfare. Far from causing a scandal, only one major U.S. outlet even mentioned the story, and the journalist in question resigned from the profession weeks later, claiming the existence of a network of top-down state censors who quash stories that threaten the power and prestige of the national security state. To this day, MacMillan remains in his post at Twitter, strongly suggesting the social media company knew of his role before he was hired.

Over the past few years, Twitter, Reddit and Facebook have announced the deletion of hundreds of thousands of accounts linked to sources in Russia, Iran, China and other enemy states, often on the recommendation of Western governments or state-sponsored intelligence organizations. However, they never seem willing or able to find any manipulation of their platforms by Western governments. Thus, the upshot of this has been to slowly dissuade critics of Western foreign policy from using their services.

“The mainstream media-politik establishment has managed to get a hold over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — shadow-banning and downrating posts considered ‘Russian propaganda’ or whatever other excuse they use to marginalize perspectives and content outside of the mainstream,” Secker told MintPress. “Audiences for this sort of content are increasingly pissed off and alienated by the major social media sites.”

Increasingly, unwelcome political voices are either brushed off by centrist pundits as repeating Russian talking points or smeared as being amplified by Kremlin-based bot farms. The popularity of movements on the left like Black Lives Matter or the Bernie Sanders’ campaign were written off as partially linked to Russia, while others suggested that the January 6 insurrection in Washington was essentially a Russian operation.

The irony is that many of the wildest accusations against Putin that have fed this climate of suspicion began life in Atlantic Council documents. For example, the organization has published a series of studies that suggest that virtually every European political party challenging the neoliberal status quo in some way — from Labour and UKIP in the U.K. to Syriza and Golden Dawn in Greece and PODEMOS and Vox in Spain — are secretly controlled by Russia, functioning as the “Kremlin’s Trojan Horses,” in its words.

The Atlantic Council is also deeply intertwined with a U.K. government-funded organization called the Integrity Initiative, something that purports to be a group defending democracy from disinformation. However, in practice, it appears to be doing the opposite: planting disinformation about politicians’ supposed links to Russia in order to undermine them. The Integrity Initiative is a government-backed cluster of journalists who operate in unison to conduct propaganda blitzes on unsuspecting publics. In 2018, it launched a successful operation to prevent Colonel Pedro Baños being appointed Spain’s head of national security. Considering Baños too soft on Russia for the Atlantic Council and other hawks’ liking, the initiative sprung into action, creating a storm of protest that led to another individual being chosen.

Reddit actually played a key role in a 2019 propaganda blitz against anti-war Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. A few days before the U.K.’s general election, Corbyn promoted documents leaked on the platform that showed that Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson was negotiating with American companies, putting much of the country’s National Health Service up for sale. With just days to go before polls opened, it could have proved a game changer. Reddit quickly came to Johnson’s rescue, however, asserting that the documents were part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The story in the pliant British press switched from “Boris Johnson is selling off the NHS” to “Corbyn promotes Russian disinfo,” thus greasing the skids for an easy victory for the hardline anti-Russia Conservative Party, an outcome the hawks at the Atlantic Council were no doubt relieved by, given Corbyn’s open skepticism about war, empire and nuclear weapons. The veracity of the documents was not challenged.

For a while…

Founded in 2005, Reddit has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most influential websites. However, it began life as an anarchistic messageboard whose culture was profoundly libertarian and anti-establishment. For years, the company’s administrators took a near free speech absolutist position. Aaron Swartz, Reddit’s co-founder, was an open source hacktivist and even attempted to download and publish the entirety of academic publisher Jstor’s library. When authorities got wind of what he was doing, they threatened him with 40 years in prison, an action that caused him to take his own life in 2013.

Reddit’s own position on free information and free speech was often so extreme it caused huge controversy. The site became the internet’s largest source of child pornography. It was only after CNN began reporting on it to a nationwide audience that things began to change. Other, grossly offensive communities like /r/BeatingWomen and /r/CoonTown were also protected.

Nevertheless, the culture established by anarchistic tech bros remained for some years, with the site resembling darker corners of the internet like 4Chan and 8Chan as much as more family-friendly mainstream social media like Facebook.

Ashooh’s arrival in 2017 coincided with a new era in the site’s history. Gone were the days of protecting communities that would bring in bad publicity. Her team quickly brought in a new content policy and began to delete communities that violated it. Last year, she oversaw the banning of over 2,000 communities in a single day, including /r/The_Donald, the main Donald Trump subreddit, and /r/ChapoTrapHouse, the most active left-wing community. These decisions have helped the money flow in; since 2017 revenue has more than tripled.

However, what has been lost across the internet is the liberatory potential of these technologies. In the 1990s and 2000s, many predicted that the internet would usher in a new era of egalitarianism and genuine democracy, helping even to reduce barriers and tensions between nations. For a while, the new medium allowed political actors to challenge the status quo and gain huge followings quickly. Alternative media was easily outperforming legacy media, and challenging the status quo when it came to news. Seeing that, the reaction since 2016 has been swift, as the elite have moved to retighten their grip over the means of communication. Ashooh’s jump from national security state official to Reddit Director of Policy is just one more point of reference on that chart.

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles

June 13, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ahead of crucial Putin-Biden summit, Washington raises stakes by announcing $150 million in additional military aid for Ukraine

RT | June 12, 2021

The Pentagon has announced a new $150 million military aid package for Ukraine, potentially raising tensions with Moscow just days before President Joe Biden’s summit meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The latest gift from Washington aims to boost the “lethality, command and control, and situational awareness” of Kiev’s forces, the Pentagon said in a statement on Friday. In practice, that translates into counter-artillery radars, counter-drone systems, secure communications technology and electronic warfare equipment.

Ukraine will also receive medical evacuation gear, as well as training and equipment to improve the safety and capacity of its air force bases. The new systems are meant to complement a $125 million aid package that was announced in March, which included counter-artillery radars and Mark VI patrol boats the US is phasing out.

Washington has pledged more than $2.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since 2014, when the government in Kiev was overthrown with the assistance of far-right nationalists. The fallout from the US-backed ‘Maidan’ triggered a chain of events which led to the Crimean peninsula seceding and voting to rejoin Russia. A situation which US refuses to recognize to this day.

The two aid packages have been authorized by the US Congress as part of the defense funding bill, but it was contingent upon the Pentagon certifying that Kiev was making sufficient progress on recommended reforms.

The two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbass area of east Ukraine also rebelled, and defeated two attempts to crush them by force. Kiev claims this amounts to “Russian aggression.” However, Moscow also doesn’t recognise the two self-declared states.

Tensions have risen in recent months, with fighting in the Donbass region escalating and both Russia and NATO conducting large-scale military exercises in Europe.

Biden is scheduled to meet with Putin on June 16. Ukraine is expected to be on the agenda, along with issues such as arms control, cybersecurity and nuclear cooperation.

June 13, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment