Aletho News


Why Arabs Bolster Energy & Security Cooperation With Russia in Defiance of Western Sanctions

By Ekaterina Blinova – Samizdat – 19.01.2023

Arab countries have not joined the anti-Russian sanctions, despite pressure from the West, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed during his press conference this week. What’s behind the Arab world’s resilience?

“The policy of the West in the East has gone bankrupt,” political analyst Vladimir Ahmedov told Sputnik.

“[Middle Eastern players’] trust in the United States, the leading western European states – the former colonizers who had colonies in this region – has already been largely lost,” the specialist in the modern history of Arab countries and senior research fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences continued.

New major players have entered the global arena: China, India, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, the scholar emphasized.

Ahmedov believes that the sanctions imposed against Russia are dictated by purely political considerations of a narrow circle of the western political elite. Meanwhile, the system of international relations and the world order has been undergoing changes, and the indirect proof of this is the position taken by the Arab countries, according to him.

“Russia’s policy in the East at the present time, and Russia’s policy in the world in general, has changed in comparison with the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s,” the researcher continued. “Now it is a resolute policy aimed at defending [Russia’s] national state interests and the national interests of third countries. It impresses the countries of the East and, above all, the countries of the Middle East, which have been waiting for such a policy for a long time. This policy is in great demand in the East and therefore it meets with approval and understanding.”

In light of this, Russia’s efforts to mediate the Israeli-Palestine conflict as well as those in Syria and Iraq – mentioned by Lavrov during his Wednesday presser – are steps in the right direction, according to the scholar. In addition, Russia’s military presence in Syria serves as a stabilizing factor, he added.

Meanwhile, the West’s Ukraine strategy looks like nothing so much as its previous Middle Eastern policies. The West is using Ukrainians much in exactly the same way it previously used Arabs in order to reach its geopolitical objectives, and Middle Eastern players are well-aware of that, according to the researcher.

“Russia is not fighting against Ukraine or the fraternal Ukrainian people, but against the West, which wants to dismember Russia, belittle its role, minimize it, and so on,” Ahmedov said. “And [the Western policy] does not meet with any approval from the political elites of the East, who themselves suffered from it previously.”

Opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa

“The region of the Middle East and the Arab world in general is of tremendous importance in the world system in terms of geography, demography, a powerful energy market, the world’s oil and gas pantry and as a very important transport artery. Therefore the attention to this region will only grow,” Ahmedov emphasized.

The region develops its position by becoming an influential energy actor, echoed Ramy El Kalyouby, a visiting lecturer at the School of Orientalism of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE).

“Gulf countries profited a lot from oil prices increase, and at some moment the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues jumped to more than $1 billion daily,” El Kalyouby told Sputnik. “Egypt is also getting its chance to become an important gas supplier to the EU after discovering a few huge fields in the Mediterranean.

The academic singled out Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer. According to El Kalyouby, Russia can help Cairo replace a deficit of Ukrainian wheat, open its markets for Egyptian fruits and vegetables, and provide more tourists.

“There is also a project of a Russian industrial zone in Egypt that would help Russia to get around sanctions by changing the origin of products, and also to profit from the African Union free trade zone,” the lecturer highlighted.

Last year, the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant was launched on July 20 in El Dabaa, Matrouh Governorate, by Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom.

The El Dabaa NPP is meant to be the cornerstone of Egypt’s energy diversification policy, allowing Cairo not only to cover its own electricity needs, but also to provide energy to its neighbors. On November 19, the main construction phase for Unit 2 of the NPP began in the northern African country.

“Gulf countries could cooperate with Russia in the regulation of the oil market, although this becomes more difficult, as Russia provides important reductions on Urals oil,” El Kalyouby continued, adding that “Russia also remains a key actor in Syria as a mediator between Damascus and Ankara.”

Regional Security

Nonetheless, the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region is continuing to suffer from local conflicts stemming from the bitter consequences of the Arab Spring, according to Ahmedov. The scientist noted that the reformatting of political systems of these countries is still going on while the common regional security system has not been formed yet.

Russia shares the same “geopolitical space” with the countries of the region and its objectives there include not only maintaining working ties with Middle Eastern players but also to protect its “soft underbelly” from extremist and terrorist elements reinvigorated by the Arab Spring havoc, the researcher explained.

In addition, Russia’s experience as a power broker in the region could come in handy for the West, since the latter has proven incapable of solving regional conflicts on its own, continued the scientist. According to him, European countries have no other alternative but to deal with Russia in the Middle East in the future if they want to ensure their security in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe.

Ahmedov noted that while Moscow cannot ensure a complete comprehensive settlement and stabilization of the situation in the Middle East, it can help regional players reach these goals.

“Russia can make a certain contribution to ensuring the system of regional security with the participation of other states,” he said. “We have excellent relations with Iran. And in this regard, of course, the Arab countries are interested in Russia in terms of softening the Iranian policy towards the Arab countries, which causes concern today in the Arab world. We have excellent relations with Turkey, which also plays a very important role as a major regional actor or player in this region, just like Iran. And therefore, in this case, we have a lot of advantages that we can realize. We have long-standing ties with Palestine since Soviet times. And therefore, in this case, we have a lot of advantages that we can realize.”

Russia has a long and successful record of work in the region, according to the scientist: in the 1960-1980s the USSR provided the primary industrialization of many MENA countries, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, and Yemen. While developing ties with the region, Russia can build upon its expertise and best practices of the past, Ahmedov concluded.

January 19, 2023 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yemen’s medics: Saudi-led coalition using biological weapons in war

By Yousef Mawry – Press TV – January 12, 2023

Sanaa – Doctors and medical experts in Yemen believe that Saudi Arabia and its coalition forces are using biological weapons which are believed to be the reason for the increased cancer and birth defect cases in Yemen. Yousef Mawry has the special story.

Sana is dying. She was born just a few days ago, but because of a rare birth malformation, doctors believe she only has a few days to live.

Sana is one of the thousands of Yemeni babies facing similar fate. Here at the Sabeen Hospital in the Yemeni capital Sana’a doctors say they have been receiving birth defect cases at an alarming rate since 2015. That’s when the Saudi-led coalition launched its war on Yemen. Doctors here are convinced that biological weapons were employed by the Saudis.

Cancer cases are also on the rise. The spokesperson for Yemen’s Ministry of Health says the data and statistics recorded since the war started indicate that biological weapons used by the Saudi-led coalition are the main cause of the steady increase in cancer and birth defects.

We visited the registration office at Yemen’s only oncology center. It was packed with people pushing their way to register for cancer treatment.

According to Yemen’s Ministry of Health, the number of cancer patients increased by more than 50% since the war was launched in 2015.

The Yemeni Ministry of Health says it will form a committee to officially investigate the main cause for the increase in birth defects and cancer cases in the areas that have been hit the most by Saudi airstrikes. Even if it’s evident that prohibited weapons were utilized by Saudi Arabia and its coalition forces, it is unlikely they will face prosecution since most of the weapons used in the war are supplied by the American and British governments.

Doctors and medical experts say the increase in cancer and birth defect cases is rooted in the eight-year Saudi-led war that has polluted Yemen’s air, water and food. They blame the Saudi-led coalition’s use of prohibited weapons such as biological weapons, cluster bombs and toxic gases.

January 12, 2023 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US meddled in Saudi-Yemen peace process

The Cradle | January 6, 2023

Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on 6 January that Saudi Arabia has expressed its readiness to end the status quo in Yemen and withdraw under the conditions set by Ansarallah.

The kingdom agreed to lift the blockade, and pay compensations for the war after retreating under a pledge not to interfere in the country’s political process.

For that, Riyadh demanded the government in Sanaa present a set of “guarantees” that it will not threaten Saudi Arabia and its security, nor allow hostilities to originate from Yemeni soil.

According to Al-Akhbar, these demands were reiterated by Iran and the Sultanate of Oman, who assured the kingdom of Ansarallah’s willingness to meet Riyadh’s demands.

Despite that, no progress has been made to end the current state, which has left Yemen torn between peace and war. This lack of progress has prompted Ansarallah’s leadership to publicly reject that this limbo becomes a permanent reality.

In an interview with Al-Masirah TV on 1 January, Ansarallah’s spokesman and peace envoy, Mohammed Abdel Salam, demanded a permanent ceasefire between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

“We are working to reach a point of clarity in Yemen, in which we move into either a truce or permanent ceasefire, and we have presented our point of view to the Omani mediator,” said Abdel Salam.

He added that this would require opening all ports, airports, and roads, and paying salaries with the revenue generated from Yemen’s oil and gas exports.

A source close to Ansarallah in Sanaa revealed to The Cradle that Saudi Arabia agreed to this demand in October 2022, and was ready – along with Qatar – to finance the salaries of all government employees in northern Yemen.

However, the US sabotaged this agreement and blocked the solution by pressuring Riyadh to cease its efforts.

The leader of Ansarallah, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, has ordered the military to prepare for a scenario in which all prospects for peace diminish, as the status quo is no longer acceptable.

On the other hand, the UN coordinator for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs, Tim Lenderking, met in Riyadh on 5 January, to discuss the developments with the head of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad al-Alimi.

According to local media, the meeting tackled the UN’s efforts to coordinate with the international community to keep the peace process on track and explore ways to end Yemeni suffering.

However, progress has yet to materialize, and no plan has been set to find ways to establish communication with the Sanaa government, as a key to peace.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

More than 3,000 Yemeni civilians killed, injured by Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in 2022

Press TV – January 2, 2023

More than 3,000 civilians, including women and children, were killed or injured in the airstrikes launched by the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen in the year 2022, according to a Yemeni rights group.

The Humanity Eye Center for Rights and Development issued a report on Monday, showing that the total number of casualties was 3,083 during last year’s war on Yemen, which included the death of 643 citizens and the wounding of 2,440 others.

The report said 102 children lost their lives and 353 others sustained injuries, in addition to 27 women killed and 97 others wounded.

The Yemeni rights group confirmed that 514 men were killed and 1,990 others injured.

As for the damage to Yemen’s infrastructure in 2022, the report said the Saudi-led coalition warplanes destroyed 14,367 homes, 134 mosques, 5 tourist facilities, 12 hospitals, 64 educational centers, 1987 agricultural fields and seven media facilities.

The aggression also destroyed 22 power stations, 974 roads and bridges, 46 communication towers and stations, 334 tanks and water stations, and 57 government facilities.

The Humanity Eye Center for Rights and Development also reported that the coalition destroyed many business firms, which amount to 229 business facilities. In addition, the warplanes targeted 1,022 means of transportation, 29 chicken farms, 37 medicine storehouses, 95 food trucks, 21 fuel stations and 13 fuel tankers.

Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states, launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015.

The objective was to crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen, and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to achieve any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

January 3, 2023 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Eighteen civilians injured in Saudi shelling on Sanaa

The Cradle | January 2, 2023

Eighteen civilians were injured in Yemen on the evening of 1 January after Saudi-led coalition border troops launched several rounds of artillery fire into residential areas in the northwestern province of Saada, Yemeni media reported.

According to local sources, 10 people were wounded by coalition artillery fire in the province’s Monabbih district, while eight others sustained injuries in another attack on the district of Shadaa. There were reportedly two African migrants among the injured.

This latest bout of violence follows a significant escalation in tension last week between the Ansarallah resistance movement and UAE-backed coalition troops, which left around 32 people from both sides killed and injured on 29 December.

As Yemen enters its fourth month since the expiration of the UN-brokered humanitarian ceasefire agreement, the Saudi-led coalition has taken no steps to lift the severe economic blockade on the country, continues to loot its natural wealth, and has persistently withheld the salaries of Sanaa-affiliated government employees in blatant violation of the truce terms.

With the persistence of these violations, it seems less likely with each day that a ceasefire extension will be reached.

Just in the last two days, the Saudi-led coalition seized another four UN-inspected humanitarian fuel vessels and barred them from entering the country’s main port of Hodeidah, which has been under Saudi blockade since 2015.

Attempts at UN-sponsored negotiations and regional mediation efforts have – for the most part – failed, and Yemeni officials have repeatedly warned that no truce extension is possible until all demands have been met.

As the prospect of a renewed ceasefire fades, Ansarallah has also persisted with its warnings to the coalition that it is willing to take matters into its own hands.

On 29 December, senior Ansarallah official Ali al-Qahhoum said in a statement that Saudi Arabia and its regional allies in the coalition face “unprecedented retaliatory strikes” should they maintain their war and blockade against Yemen.

January 2, 2023 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Ansarallah seeks ‘permanent ceasefire’ in Yemen

The Cradle | January 1, 2023

Yemen’s Ansarallah movement seeks a “permanent ceasefire,” according to a spokesperson of the resistance group.

Mohammed Abdel Salam, a spokesperson of the Ansarallah movement, said on 1 January that a permanent ceasefire would require the opening of all ports, airports, and roads, and that all government wages are paid from oil and gas revenues.

“We are working to reach a point of clarity in Yemen, in which we move into either a truce or permanent ceasefire, and we have presented our point of view to the Omani mediator,” he said to Almasirah TV station.

“Any solution to Yemen’s crisis must be based on the disbursement of [government] employees’ salaries from oil and gas revenues according to the 2014 budget,” he added.

Meanwhile, an official delegation from the Sultanate of Oman landed in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on 21 December as part of Muscat’s mediation efforts to reach a political solution to the Saudi-led war that has been raging for nearly eight years.

No further details were provided about the meeting, nearly three months after a UN-brokered ceasefire between Sanaa and Riyadh ended.

Since then, Oman has been mediating talks between Saudi and Yemeni officials seeking to end a war that has killed nearly 400,000 Yemenis and pushed the rest of the population into famine.

Since 2015, Yemen has suffered a brutal Saudi-led war and economic blockade that has killed and displaced millions, and destroyed the country’s infrastructure. On top of this, western NGOs have been accused of mishandling billions of dollars in humanitarian aid for Yemenis.

Yemeni officials have also cautioned that US and French troops deployed in provinces controlled by the Saudi-led coalition have arrived to coordinate the looting of Yemen’s natural resources, similar to Washington’s oil trafficking operations in Syria.

The White House’s latest pro-war scheme comes at a time when the Pentagon is expected to receive its highest annual budget ever, as defense spending in the US is on track to reach $1 trillion annually before the decade is out.

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Yemen: Despite truce, Saudi-led coalition killed, injured 900 civilians since April

MEMO | December 29, 2022

More than 900 civilians have been killed and injured by the Saudi-led coalition’s missile strikes in Yemen’s border district of Shada, west of Saada governorate, since the signing of the UN armistice agreement in early April, Abdullah Musraa, the director of the hospital in Razih Al-Rifi said.

Musraa added that since the beginning of the truce Razih Hospital has received 111 dead civilians and 796 wounded, including African immigrants, Al-Mayadeen reported, citing the Houthi-controlled official news agency SABA.

He noted that nothing has changed in the behaviour of the Saudi regime since the signing of the UN humanitarian and military truce.

Musraa stressed that the border areas in Saada governorate are witnessing a continuous escalation by the Saudi-led coalition with the bombing of homes, farms and public and private property, according to Al-Mayadeen.

He added that many cases were transferred to other hospitals across the governorate and the capital, Sanaa, as Razih Hospital could not keep up with the demand or provide the necessary services for critical cases.

truce was agreed on 2 April between the Saudi-led alliance and the Houthis. It was extended twice for two months, however, the second extension ended on 2 October.

Since then, fighting has resumed. The UN has failed to reach an agreement to reinstate the ceasefire.

December 29, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Biden pledged to end the war in Yemen, but is doing the opposite

By Robert Inlakesh | RT | December 27, 2022

Two weeks into his term, US President Joe Biden claimed that he would seek a negotiated peace in Yemen, thus shunning Saudi Arabia. Now he is performing a 180-degree pivot. With such arbitrary foreign policy positions the US is causing instability and weakening its own hand.

On December 13, US Senator Bernie Sanders decided to withdraw a War Powers Resolution on ending US support for Saudi offensive efforts in the war in Yemen. Sanders was supposed to put the resolution to a vote, believing it would have passed. However, owing to pressure mounted against him from the White House, he decided to retreat. Instead, the progressive American senator claimed that he was informed that the Biden administration would “continue working” with his office on ending the conflict.

As revealed by The Intercept, which obtained the key talking points distributed by the White House against the resolution, the Biden administration communicated its position that such a resolution would be counterproductive and further exacerbate the crisis in Yemen. However, the ‘Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft’ says that Sanders’ decision to withdraw the resolution “may embolden the many members of Washington’s foreign policy elite who would like to ensure that the president’s capability to unilaterally wage war remains unchallenged by Congress’s constitutional prerogative over matters of war and peace.”

The biggest problem here for the US government is that the War Powers Resolution essentially aims to force Biden to implement most of the policies that he himself outlined in February of 2021. Despite Biden having announced that the US was halting all “relevant arms sales” to the Saudi-led coalition – which has been at war with Yemen’s Ansarallah, known commonly as the Houthis, since 2015 – this policy position has never been put into practice.

During his 2020 campaign, Biden claimed that he would make longtime American ally Saudi Arabia a global “pariah.” Yet, when it began to sink in that the powerful oil-producing state was a necessary partner in the Middle East, a realization that came months into the West’s sanctions campaign aimed at Russia, the Biden administration quickly decided to change its stance. In July, the president decided to go on a foreign visit to Saudi Arabia, while in the days prior he entered into discussions about beginning to supply the Saudis with offensive weapons again; the framing of this was a little disingenuous because the weapons sales freeze of February 2021 had effectively been ended by April of the same year anyway. Both of these moves came as a clear attempt to get Saudi Arabia to raise oil-production levels, a goal that failed as the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, refused to pander to the US president.

Since then, the US government approved a potential multibillion-dollar deal with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and in August the Biden administration granted the Saudi Crown Prince immunity from a civil lawsuit over his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden was reportedly humiliated earlier this year after allegedly bringing up the Khashoggi killing to the Crown Prince, who fired back by citing the Israeli killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, asking why Jamal Khashoggi mattered more. Notably, the US head of state failed a number of times to even pronounce Shireen Abu Akleh’s name correctly when delivering a speech beside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas just days earlier and did not bring the killing up to Israeli representatives.

The White House insinuated, in its opposition to Senator Bernie Sanders’ resolution on Yemen, that it had a hand in the six-month long ceasefire between the two primary opposing sides in the war. The reality was that it was the United Nations that brokered the ceasefire, which ended on October 2. In the eyes of Ansarallah, the US government is the primary obstacle to peace in Yemen; Abd al-Wahhab al-Mahbashi, a senior member of Ansarallah, recently warned that “the presence of US troops in the Bab al-Mandab and off the coast of Yemen poses a serious threat to maritime navigation.” In fact, Ansarallah views the conflict as a war on behalf of the US, with Saudi Arabia acting as its proxy, a view held by millions in the region.

The day following Sanders’ withdrawal of his War Powers Resolution, two fuel shipments, carrying tons of diesel, were seized by the Saudi-led coalition and prevented from reaching Yemen. The blockade of Yemen is one of the major factors contributing to the resurgence of tensions – Ansarallah accuses Riyadh and Abu Dhabi of stealing the nation’s oil resources and depriving native Yemenis. In addition to this, when the US is clearly attempting to cozy up to Saudi Arabia, this signals to the leadership of Ansarallah that the Biden administration is favoring Riyadh in the conflict.

The Biden administration has so far proven ineffective at bringing the Saudis under its wing in the way it had hoped, indicating that its foreign policy tactics have proven ineffective at best. The reason for this failure likely comes down to the way the current government has dealt not only with Saudi Arabia, but with all the states of the Arabian Peninsula in addition to Iran. The US has shown that it cannot be trusted to keep its word, as was proven by its Iran nuclear deal blunder. More importantly, Saudi Arabia understands that, when it comes to security, Washington is not the most important player anymore. Instead of following the Biden administration into a dangerous anti-Iran coalition, the Saudis would be a lot smarter to engage diplomatically with Tehran, a step that would be especially helpful when it comes to regional security.

For Washington, meanwhile, an escalation in Yemen at this point would prove advantageous, for it could end up pushing Saudi Arabia closer to it, as the latter needs US help to maintain its war effort, although there is a chance that large-scale ballistic and cruise missile strikes against Saudi Arabia’s vital infrastructure could cause the Kingdom to go straight to the negotiating table. Regardless of how things go, it is clear that US influence in the Arabian Peninsula is rapidly declining and part of its legacy will be this brutal war that has cost upwards of 400,000 lives and that the Biden administration has refused to end.

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the Palestinian territories and currently works with Quds News.

December 27, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 4 Comments

Iran, Syria, Yemen: Twitter’s collaboration with the US military in information warfare

The damning exposure of collusion between the Pentagon and Twitter raises further suspicions about Washington’s ongoing online operations in West Asia

By Kit Klarenberg | The Cradle | December 27, 2022

The Cradle has previously deconstructed the Pentagon’s online bot and troll operations targeting Iran. These wide-ranging efforts, over many years, sought to destabilize the Iranian government by disseminating and inciting negative sentiment against it, on a variety of social media platforms.

Their exposure led to the White House demanding an internal audit of all Department of Defense (DoD) “psychological operations online.” Ostensibly, this was triggered by high-level concerns that Washington’s “moral high ground” was potentially compromised by the “manipulation of audiences overseas.”

The audit was revealed in a Washington Post article, the details of which pointed to a very different rationale. One passage noted that representatives of Facebook and Twitter directly informed the Pentagon, repeatedly, over several years, that its psychological warfare efforts on their platforms had been detected and identified as such.

Weaponizing social media

Frustratingly, the focus wasn’t even that these operations were being conducted in the first place, but that the Pentagon got busted doing so.

For example, Facebook’s Director of Global Threat Disruption, David Agranovich, who spent six years at the Pentagon before serving as the US National Security Council’s Director for Intelligence, reportedly reached out to the DoD in the summer of 2020, warning his former colleagues that “if Facebook could sniff them out, so could US adversaries.”

“His point was, ‘Guys, you got caught. That’s a problem,’” an individual “familiar with the conversation” told the Washington Post.

The obvious takeout from this excerpt – unnoticed by any mainstream journalist at the time – was that Facebook and Twitter staffers actively welcome their platforms being weaponized in information warfare campaigns, as long as it’s the US intelligence community doing it, and they don’t get caught in flagrante.

Moreover, in the event they are compromised, those same social network luminaries readily provide intimate insight on how US spooks can improve their operational security, and better conceal their activities from foreign enemies. Unmentioned is that these “foes” include tens of millions of ordinary people who are the ultimate target of such malign initiatives, of which residents of West Asia are preponderant victims.


Internal emails and documents from Twitter, published by journalist Lee Fang, have now confirmed that Twitter executives not only approved of the Pentagon’s network of troll and bot accounts, but also provided significant internal protection for them through “whitelisting.”

This practice allowed these ‘superpower accounts’ to operate with impunity, despite breaking numerous platform rules and behaving egregiously. The “whitelist” status also effectively granted these accounts the algorithmic and amplificatory privileges of Twitter verification without a “blue check.”

As The Cradle previously reported, these accounts over many years sought to influence perceptions and behavior across West Asia, in particular Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. In many cases, users had “deepfake” profile photos – mocked up pictures of realistic human faces generated by artificial intelligence.

Target: West Asia

In respect to Twitter-enabled activities against Tehran, multiple different personae were formed to attack the Iranian government from different ideological and political positions. These were not your standard ‘opposition’ accounts – the ops were more sophisticated. Some posed as ultra-conservative Shia Muslims critical of the administration’s “liberal” policies; others as progressive radicals condemning the extent of the Republic’s enforcement of Islamic code.

Many users amplified Washington’s disinformation, disseminated by US government-funded Voice of America’s Farsi-language service, among a myriad of other US funded and directed propaganda platforms. All along, Twitter higher-ups were aware of these accounts, but did not shut them down and even protected them.

The impact of the collaboration between Twitter and the Pentagon on the tweets that users around the world saw and did not see is unknown, but likely significant. Twitter staff were aware of what they were doing.

For example, in July 2017, an official from the Pentagon’s central command for West Asia and North Africa (CENTCOM) emailed the social media network to request the “blue check” verification of one account and the “whitelisting” of 52 accounts that “we use to amplify certain messages.”

The official was concerned that some of these accounts, “a few” of which “had built a real following,” were no longer “indexing on hashtags.” He moreover requested “priority service” for several accounts, including the since-deleted @YemenCurrent, which broadcast announcements about US drone strikes in Yemen. The account emphasized how “accurate” these attacks were; that they only killed dangerous terrorists, never civilians – a hallmark of US drone war propaganda.

Of course, US drone strikes are anything but precise. In fact, declassified Pentagon documents indicate there was “an institutional acceptance of an inevitable collateral toll,” and that innocent people were killed indiscriminately.

In 2014, it was calculated that, in attempting to slay 41 specific, named individuals, Washington had murdered 1,147 people, among them many children – a rate of 28 deaths for every person targeted.

‘Misleading, deceptive, and spammy’

In June 2020, Twitter spokesperson Nick Pickles testified to the US House Intelligence Committee on the company’s determined efforts to end any and all “coordinated platform manipulation efforts” on the part of hostile enemy states, stating these efforts were his employer’s “top priority.”

“Our goal is to remove bad faith actors and to advance public understanding of these critical topics. Twitter defines state-backed information operations as coordinated platform manipulation efforts that can be attributed with a high degree of confidence to state-affiliated actors,” he declared.

“State-backed information operations are typically associated with misleading, deceptive, and spammy behavior. These behaviors differentiate coordinated manipulative behavior from legitimate speech on behalf of individuals and political parties.”

The following month, however, Twitter executives were invited by the Pentagon to attend classified briefings in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) to discuss the defense of the Pentagon’s “coordinated and manipulative” social media activities.

Then-Twitter lawyer Stacia Cardille noted in an internal email the Pentagon may be seeking to retroactively classify its malign online activities “to obfuscate their activity in this space, and this may represent an overclassification to avoid embarrassment.”

Jim Baker, then-deputy general counsel of Twitter and an FBI veteran, subsequently noted that the DoD had employed “poor tradecraft” in setting up numerous Twitter accounts, and was now covering its tracks in order to prevent anyone finding out multiple users “are linked to each other” or to the US government, one way or another.

“DoD might want to give us a timetable for shutting them down in a more prolonged way that will not compromise any ongoing operations or reveal their connections to DoD,” he speculated.

Free speech absolutism

So it was the compromised accounts that were permitted to stay active, spreading disinformation and distorting the public mind all the while. Some even remain extant to this day.

To say the least, Twitter executives were well-aware that their eager and enthusiastic support of Pentagon psyops would not be received well if publicized. Shortly before the September Washington Post report on the DoD’s audit of these efforts, Twitter lawyers and lobbyists were alerted by a company communications executive about the forthcoming exposé.

After the Post story was published, Twitter staffers congratulated themselves and each other over how effectively the company concealed its role in covering up CENTCOM’s deeds, with one communications official thanking a welter of executives “for doing all that you could to manage this one,” noting with relief the story “didn’t seem to get too much traction.”

Were it not for the series of #TwitterFiles disclosures since Elon Musk controversially took over the company, these dark, shameful secrets would likely have remained buried forever. The full extent of the company’s mephitic collusion with US intelligence agencies, and the comparable, simultaneous collaboration of every major social network, must now be told in full.

December 27, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Twitter pushed the Pentagon’s Middle East war propaganda, and both will likely get away with it

By Daniel Kovalik | RT | December 26, 2022

Information continues to roll out about how Twitter knowingly became a conduit for US propaganda efforts abroad that only serve to produce more violence and chaos. Sadly, this news has seemingly been greeted with a collective yawn by both the US corporate press and the American public.

A recent article by The Intercept details how Twitter facilitated efforts by US Central Command, or CENTCOM, a division of the US Defense Department, to spread propaganda, particularly in and about the Middle East using fake accounts posing as private individuals in the region. These accounts were given special treatment by Twitter, which accorded them the same privileges as ‘blue-checked’ verified accounts, which, as The Intercept article describes, “would have bestowed a number of advantages, such as invulnerability to algorithmic bots that flag accounts for spam or abuse, as well as other strikes that lead to decreased visibility or suspension.” And, of course, this was being done at a time when Twitter was deleting hundreds of accounts it viewed as associated with the Russian government and designating other such accounts as “Russian-state affiliated media” even when, as in the case of some of my friends, such as Fiorella Isabel, these accounts were of private individuals writing in their own, personal capacity.

One example of an account given “priority service” by Twitter was @yemencurrent (now deleted), which, among other things, “had emphasized that U.S. drone strikes were ‘accurate’ and killed terrorists, not civilians, and promoted the U.S. and Saudi-backed assault on Houthi rebels in that country.” Such a whitewashing of the US-Saudi war on Yemen – a war barely covered in the US press and therefore barely known to most Americans – is especially infuriating given that that war has been marked by the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure on a colossal scale and by the US government’s willful failure to even properly account for civilian casualties.

The US’ own Government Accountability Office has, in a restricted-access document reported upon by the New York Times in June, concluded that, since the war began in 2015, “[t]he State Department and the Defense Department have failed to assess civilian casualties caused by a Saudi-led coalition in the catastrophic war in Yemen and the use of American-made weapons in the killings . . . .” The NYT also reported that earlier, “in August 2020, the State Department inspector general issued a report that said the department had failed to take proper measures to reduce civilian deaths.” The result has been an estimated 150,000+ deaths, including nearly 15,000 civilians, and one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises in history.

And yet, Twitter aided and abetted CENTCOM’s misinformation campaign through fake accounts claiming that civilians were somehow not being harmed by US-manufactured weapons – claims that deceive American taxpayers about the war they are bankrolling, and which are designed to prime the government pumps for more aid to this unholy conflict that President Biden had promised to stop funding.

According to The Intercept article, other fake CENTCOM accounts given priority by Twitter “focused on promoting U.S.-supported militias in Syria and anti-Iran messages in Iraq.” Again, few Americans are aware that many of these militia groups the US has backed in Syria, while claiming to be “moderate rebels,” have themselves carried out terrible atrocities against civilians in that country. Fake Twitter accounts promoting such militia groups only further obfuscate this subject.

As for the “anti-Iran messages in Iraq” and elsewhere, The Intercept explains that, as reported earlier by the Stanford Internet Observatory, some of the fake Twitter accounts falsely “accuse Iran of ‘threatening Iraq’s water security and flooding the country with crystal meth,’ while others promoted allegations that Iran was harvesting the organs of Afghan refugees.” Such propaganda has a dual purpose: to gin up tensions and conflict between nations in the Middle East and to manufacture consent in the US for potential armed conflict between the US itself and Iran.

In other words, Twitter has been aiding and abetting the US Defense Department in war propaganda, an act that was established to be a crime in the post-WWII Nuremberg trials. If we had a fair and working system of international law, Twitter and Defense Department officials involved in such offenses would indeed be investigated. However, we do not have such a system. Therefore, it is up to the American people to act, having learned of such misconduct by their government and by the social media companies they so rely upon to hold them accountable. It is also up to Americans to finally realize that, when it comes to matters of war and peace, they are being lied to constantly, and they must withhold their consent for the wars that our government undertakes with the help of traditional and social media alike.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is author of the recently-released No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using “Humanitarian” Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests.

December 26, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter promoted Pentagon propaganda to whitewash occupation, war crimes in West Asia

The Cradle | December 21, 2022

Twitter has reportedly collaborated with the Pentagon for at least five years to wage a secret “PsyOps campaign” across West Asia, in a scheme to sway public opinion in favor of Washington’s military interests in the region.

According to an investigation of Twitter’s archives, emails, and internal tools by The Intercept, the social media giant created a special “whitelist,” exempting accounts run by US Central Command (CENTCOM) from spam and abuse flags, granting them greater visibility on the platform.

According to the findings of investigative journalist Lee Fang, the Pentagon used this network of bots and US government-generated news portals to shape the discourse regarding the wars in Yemen and Syria, as well as the continued presence of US occupation troops across the region.

In particular, Fang revealed that much of the Pentagon’s covert social media ops focused on promoting the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Washington has recently boosted its military presence in the war-torn country, reportedly in a bid to control its natural resources like they do in Syria.

The investigation of the internal Twitter documents also shows that the PsyOps campaign promoted narratives that specifically demonized Russia, China, and Iran.

PsyOps – the military jargon for psychological operations – is defined as targeting foreign adversaries “to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

Twitter reportedly introduced the “whitelist” in 2017 after US military officials asked the company to improve the visibility of 52 Arab language accounts used to “amplify certain messages.”

And while Twitter executives claimed for years that the platform did not allow deceptive state-backed influence operations, the social media company was aware of the Pentagon’s propaganda campaign and tolerated the accounts’ presence until at least May 2022.

Over the same period of time, Twitter suspended or outright banned accounts that reported on Israeli war crimes in Palestine, as well as many that were linked to the governments of IranRussiaCuba, and Venezuela.

The revelations come as part of the so-called “Twitter files” release, which compiles internal company documents provided for journalists following the purchase of the company by billionaire Elon Musk.

The bombshell report comes at a time when the US army and its proxy militias are accused of illegally occupying vast regions of Syria and Yemen, looting oil from both war-torn countries, just over a year after their brutal occupation of Afghanistan ended.

Just last week, the White House succeeded in stopping the senate from voting on a legislation that would have severely restricted their operations in Yemen.

On top of this, last month, the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice issued a report detailing how the Pentagon has been allowed to covertly deploy troops and wage secret wars over the past two decades in dozens of countries across the globe.

Despite the damning revelations, in the coming days, US President Joe Biden is expected to sign into law the biggest annual defense budget in history, allowing the Pentagon to continue spending trillions of dollars despite being the only branch of the US government to have never passed a financial audit.

December 25, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Coalition forced to release detained Yemeni fuel ships

By Yusef Mawry – Press TV – December 25, 2022

Sana’a – Fuel prices have slightly dropped in Yemen after the release of two Yemeni fuel ships that were detained by the Saudi-led coalition earlier this week in the Red Sea.

The Yemeni army issued a stern warning to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that if the ships were not released soon, military action would follow.

Yemeni bus and motorbike drivers in the capital Sana’a who make a living from public transportation welcomed the lowering of fuel prices. They say this is going to help them cope with the fuel price hike caused by the blockade.

Yemeni political experts say the release of the fuel ships by the Saudi-led coalition isn’t enough, as Yemen will continue to struggle until Saudi Arabia and its allies completely lift the blockade and end their illegal involvement in Yemen.

Despite falling oil prices, tensions are rising on all active battlefronts in Yemen for what could soon be a resumption of war if a political solution is not reached soon, as Saudi Arabia and the UAE continue their militarization of strategic Yemeni Islands in the Red and Arabian sea.

The release of fuel ships detained by the Saudi-led coalition marks a big victory for the Yemeni government based in Sana’a and the people living in the areas controlled by Ansarullah. This also indicates that Saudi Arabia and the UAE simply cannot afford to have their oil industries targeted by Yemeni missiles and that’s why they decided to go with a safer option by releasing the fuel vessels.

December 25, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment