Monsanto: It Ain’t Glyphosate, it’s the Additives! – By Author: F. William Engdahl


 

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Famously corrupt and unscrupulous, Monsanto Corporation has now been discovered in covering up the highly toxic effects of the secret additives it combines with glyphosate in Roundup, the world’s most-used herbicide. The IARC, an agency of the World Health Organization, released a report in March, 2015 that declared the chemical glyphosate to be “probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A).” They were not provided tests that included the effects of glyphosate combined with specific trade secret additives. Monsanto is desperate to hide the true carcinogen in its Roundup weed-killer.

Glyphosate is the largest component of Monsanto Roundup, the world’s largest weed-killer and the toxin mandated in every Monsanto Genetically Manipulated (GMO) planting. But what Monsanto refuses to disclose is what additives it uses, otherwise termed surfactants or adjuvants, ostensibly to give the glyphosate a “turbo” weed-killer effectiveness boost.

Since late 2016 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has been hearing a case brought by a group of plaintiffs against Monsanto, claiming the firm falsified test results and refused to test the actual commercial mix sold as Roundup, a mix which contains far more deadly chemicals than glyphosate, especially when combined with glyphosate, in order to show its best-selling Roundup to be harmless in recommended doses and non-carcinogenic.

It’s the Surfactants!

On June 30, 2017, attorneys from Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, lawyers for the plaintiffs, released online court documents provided by Monsanto to the Court in the ongoing California case against Monsanto. Those Monsanto secret documents reveal the criminal company collusion to cover up the truth about its Roundup weed-killer.

Among the damning emails from the Monsanto internal documents is an email exchange marked Confidential, dated November 22, 2003, from Donna R. Farmer, PhD., then chief toxicologist at Monsanto responsible for glyphosate products worldwide. Farmer states bluntly, “The terms glyphosate and Roundup cannot be used interchangeably nor can you use “Roundup” for all glyphosate-based herbicides any more. For example, you cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen … we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.” (emphasis added-w.e.)

Another confidential Monsanto email dated December 14, 2010, more than seven years after Donna Farmer’s 2003 admission, states that “With regards to the carcinogenicity of our (Roundup-w.e.) formulations, we don’t have such testing on them directly, but we do have such testing on the glyphosate component.” It’s a bit like telling someone you held an African Black Mamba, the world’s fastest and one of the world’s most toxic snakes, and nothing happened to you, so the Black Mamba can be certified as safe for a household pet.

What Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer refers to as “the formulation” is the major ingredient, glyphosate, in combination with various surfactants or adjuvants, allegedly used to bind the weed-killer Roundup more efficiently to target weeds in the region of spraying of crops such as GMO corn or soybeans. Monsanto calls the component in Roundup called glyphosate the “active ingredient,” implying, falsely, that the added chemicals are merely passive or inert and harmless.

No tests done

To date the entire global public debate on glyphosate in the USA, the EU and in the rest of the world has been a very sly “red herring,” put out by Monsanto to take attention away from the vastly more toxic cocktail that is sold today as Roundup weed-killer, the world’s most widely used weed-killer. Roundup is far more than only glyphosate, as the email from Donna Farmer admits. Monsanto has deliberately turned the public and legal debate to focus only on glyphosate, as if the rest of their toxic cocktail was just some sugar candy. Are their trade secret additives including chemicals such as formaldehyde? We don’t know. Do they include known carcinogens such as N-ethyl-NNG? We don’t know. Monsanto refuses to tell the public.

The Monsanto secret email exchanges, now public as a result of the California court case, reveal dramatically the collusion of senior US Government officials at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Monsanto to conceal the fact that the EPA never was in possession of the other components of Roundup aside from glyphosate.

Those surfactants are mostly classified as “trade secret” by Monsanto and have not even been made known to the US Government agency responsible for guarding the environmental health of the population, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yet EPA officials have never made a public issue of the fact.

Among the Monsanto confidential emails released by attorneys in the California law suit on June 30, 2017 is one dated March 5, 2013. In it Monsanto admits internally, “We do not conduct sub-chronic, chronic or teratogenicity studies with our formulations. The long-term exposure has been assessed according to the regulatory requirements in chronic and carcinogenicity studies conducted with the active ingredient glyphosate.” (emphasis added-w.e.). Teratogenic testing is testing to determine if a drug or chemical contains an agent that can disturb the development of the human embryo or fetus. Teratogens can halt the pregnancy or produce a congenital malformation or birth defect.

On its website, Monsanto gives a picture of serious compliance with government safety testing standards. It states, “Like all pesticides, glyphosate is routinely reviewed by regulatory authorities to ensure it can be used safely. In the U.S., that’s the job of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and like other regulatory authorities around the world, the EPA’s process is comprehensive and based on the best available science.” (emphasis added-w.e.).

Note that they are careful to say “glyphosate,” and not Roundup. As the California EPA and Monsanto email exchanges reveal, Monsanto is being sly here, as they have not managed over 40 years to give detailed information on all the additives or adjuvants contained today or earlier in its Roundup herbicide. Curiously, they state, “Click here to learn more about the EPA’s current “registration review” underway for glyphosate.,” however as of August 28, 2017 there is no link to any EPA “registration review.” Oops, sorry…

In simple English, Monsanto admits its fraud that it only used tests of the possible carcinogenicity of its so-called “active ingredient” glyphosate. Never did they submit tests of the true Roundup cocktail actually used commercially. The entire EU and US EPA “glyphosate debate” is a hoax, a nefarious fraud.

‘Two Thousand times more toxic’ than glyphosate alone

Independent scientific tests by toxicologists have revealed that it is precisely the added ingredients, the so-called surfactants or Roundup’s “formulations,” in chemical combination with the far less toxic glyphosate base, that are highly toxic and probable carcinogen.

In a peer-reviewed scientific paper published on February 26, 2016 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a team of toxicologists led by Gilles-Eric Séralini of the Institute of Biology, University of Caen in Normandy, France and András Székács, Director of the Agro-Environmental Research Institute of Hungary’s National Agricultural Research and Innovation Centre, tested the most commonly used glyphosate-based herbicides including Monsanto Roundup. They tested the complete cocktail, including the co-formulants and formulations used in combination with the glyphosate.

What they found should put our hair on end. Instead, it has been swept under the rug by the US Government and the Commission of the EU as well as by a German government eager perhaps to appease the giant German Bayer AG, the prospective new owner of Monsanto.

The Seralini group study demonstrated for the first time that endocrine disruption by Glyphposate-Based Herbicides (GBH) could not only be due to the declared active ingredient, glyphosate, but also to the co-formulants or additives. But it gets much worse than that.

Seralini’s group tested the endocrine disruption of co-formulants in six glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH), the most used pesticides worldwide including Roundup.

Their study concluded, “The endocrine-disrupting effects of all these compounds were measured on aromatase activity, a key enzyme in the balance of sex hormones, below the toxicity threshold. Aromatase activity was decreased both by the co-formulants alone…and by the formulations, from concentrations 800 times lower than the agricultural dilutions…; while G (glyphosate) exerted an effect only at 1/3 of the agricultural dilution…These results could explain numerous in vivo results with GBHs not seen with G alone; moreover, they challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake (ADI) value for GBHs exposures, currently calculated from toxicity tests of the declared active ingredient alone.

Their tests further concluded that the compounded herbicides using glyphosate as base, but including undisclosed “formulations” or surfactants or co-formulants, were vastly more toxic than glyphosate tested alone. They write, “All co-formulants and formulations were comparably cytotoxic well below the agricultural dilution of 1%.” Depending on the product, the tests revealed that glyphosate, in combination with co-formulants, could be up to 2000 times more toxic to cells than glyphosate alone.

Yet Monsanto has never revealed its trade secret co-formulants, neither to the US Government as it is compelled to by law, nor to the public.

The Seralini study concludes that “The declared active ingredients of pesticide formulations are not applied in their isolated form in agricultural use. Other substances (co-formulants) are also added, in order to modify the physico-chemical properties or to improve penetration or stability of the declared active ingredients. The identity of the co-formulants, declared as inert, is generally kept confidential. Moreover, they are not used in medium or long term in vivo toxicity tests of pesticides on mammals for the establishment of their acceptable daily intake.”

By the criteria used in war crimes tribunals after 1945 Monsanto knew or should have known that its Roundup total formulation products were more toxic that glyphosate alone and that independent, reliable safety studies of Roundup and full disclosure of all of Roundup’s additives, the so-called “inert” ingredients was necessary.

Whatever the legal outcome of the California legal case, the plaintiffs and their attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman have done a major service to mankind by releasing the confidential Monsanto documents.

The attorneys have sent copies of all documents so far to the EPA Office of Inspector General, presently investigating whether there was illegal collusion between EPA and Monsanto; the California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which recently listed glyphosate as a substance known to the state of California to cause cancer and is soliciting comments from Baum Hedlund and others to advise about whether glyphosate should be given a safe-harbor; and to the European Parliament members, who recently sent a letter to the judge overseeing the MDL litigation, requesting documents as the EU considers whether it will renew registration of glyphosate for sale in Europe.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
https://journal-neo.org/2017/08/30/monsanto-it-ain-t-glyphosate-it-s-the-additives/

The Axis of Resistance: Russia, Iran & Syria have reduced the Zionist entity to a ‘quivering wreck’ – By Dr Bouthaina Shaaban ( 21st Century Wire )

© RT
Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Putin.

Never before has a prime minister of the Zionist entity appeared so confused as did Benjamin Netanyahu in his meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu was looking through a set of papers he was holding, as if he’s hoping to find a way out. This is the first time he relied on what was written in his notes in such an important summit meeting.

The viewer did not need to hear what he was saying, because Putin’s stern expressions expressed his suspicion of the repeated Israeli usual dull hyperbolic claims about the Iranian threat, and the Russian President refused Netanyahu’s aggressive schemes. In Pravda’s report on 25 August 2017, entitled “Netanyahu’s nightmare becomes a reality,” the newspaper reveals that Putin answered Netanyahu saying: “Iran is a strategic ally of Russia in the Middle East.” And when the latter exaggerated in describing the Iranian threat, President Putin responded: “Unfortunately, I cannot help you here.”

Pravda reports that Netanyahu failed to convince Putin of the by-now-boring Israeli argument about “Iranian expansion in the Middle East.” Commenting on the Putin-Netanyahu summit, the Israeli newspaper Maariv said in its reports on 23 August 2017: “Israel has become isolated on the international scene.” It’s only friend now is the ruling Wahhabi families in the Gulf, whose media, representatives and hired mercenaries mindlessly repeat Netanyahu’s claims.

But what is behind this Israeli hysteria and the visits by its official to the US and Russia in order to promote these “threats” to Israeli’s security? And what has happened recently that provoked such a reaction from the Zionist entity’s leaders? Does Netanyahu and the ruling clique in Tel Aviv really think that world powers are as stupid and naive as the rulers of Gulf Sheikhdoms?

The main event that provoked these reactions is the change that occurred in the regional balance of power after the Syrian and Iraqi armies and the forces of resistance advanced in several areas, liberating Mosul and reaching an agreement in southern Syria, that gave neither Jordan nor Israel a role in monitoring the deescalation zone.

Both the announced and the unannounced coordination and cooperation between Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, with the presence of Russia and Iran, in commanding this wide front from Iran to the Mediterranean have cost the Zionist entity its decade-long hegemony, which recently expanded to include the Saudi Kingdom and the Gulf States.

The Resistance has proven that breaking the backbone of this Israeli propaganda is not impossible, and that the enemy now needs to recalculate its position according to new realities on the battlefield, and on the regional and international levels. Another factor, no less important than the regional one, is the victory achieved by the forces of resistance and the Arab Army in Syria and Iraq, and in the Qalamoun region, and the rapid collapse of the terrorist groups across the board.

The capture of the strategic Qalamoun mountains, which connects Syria to Lebanon, has eliminated Israel’s terrorist mercenaries from that vital region, to the dismay of Israel’s rulers who reacted in a hysterical manner in front of the whole world. This victory has proven that Israel cannot hold an inch of our land through its terrorist mercenaries.

Also, the forces of resistance and the Arab Army in Syria and Iraq proved that they have reached unprecedented levels of military capabilities, a fact that frightens the Zionist enemy and leads it to alter its plans in any coming battle. The Zionist entity is not only concerned that its terrorist gangs are losing ground, but also it is worried about the future battle against those who seek to liberate the land from its despicable occupation.

No matter how much the Zionists train their army, it remains a theoretical training, as opposed to the field experience of the battle-hardened forces of resistance and the Arab armies in Syria and Iraq. Also, the coordination between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon is a nightmare that the Zionist enemy fears because its power is built on dividing the Arabs, because the Zionists know that when the Arab unite their strategies, plans, and actions, the Zionist entity would collapse as rapidly as its terrorist mercenaries.

Another important factor that concerns the Zionists is that their historic and strategic ally the United States is drowning in internal disputes, and has been losing its credibility as a Great Power both on the internal and international scenes, despite its looting of Saudi and Gulf wealth. So when their main partner couldn’t deliver assurances, the Zionists turned to Russia hoping to sway its decision makers, using the usual lies about their entity being under threat.

But in Russia, the Zionists were met by a strong leader who respects his words and commitments, and does not compromise his country’s fundamental principles. The Zionists realise that the Russian leader has the final word today in all issues in the Middle East, and the word of the United States, the West, and their Wahhabi mercenaries no longer counts.

It is a fact of life today that terrorism that hit Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, destroying their civilisational heritage and killing millions of their citizens is a Zionist terrorism funded by the Saudi royals. Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove admitted in a lecture in London that Saudi Arabia helped ISIS (Daesh) in capturing Mosul and the whole of northern Iraq, and by association eastern Syria, and that the coming days will reveal Saudi Arabia to be a tool in the hands of the Zionists, and that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar paid billions of dollars to destroy Arab countries.

Today, we are in a time in which Zionist tools are collapsing in Syria and Iraq, and the leaders of the Zionist entity are trembling because the unjust war they waged alongside their Saudi mercenaries against our people has only made our armies and our resistance stronger and more competent. So what can our enemies do?

May God have mercy on the souls of our martyred young men who gave their lives for this Nation, and we pray for the wounded, for all of them have given their blood to serve this noble cause, the cause of all Arabs and Muslims, the cause of Palestine and the occupied land, and the rights of our peoples to live freely on their land.

The hysteria that befell the Zionist entity and its poorly calculated actions will only help further reveal its true role and the role of its operatives in the systematic destruction of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. And history will also reveal the truth behind the events we experienced in the past few years. Netanyahu’s visit to Putin and his trembling body language is only the first sign, and there will be many more to come.

Dr Bouthaina Shaaban is Political & Media Advisor to Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad

See Also:

How Western Media Overlook US War Crimes In Raqqa But Decried Syrian Liberation Efforts In Aleppo – By Whitney Webb

The “outcry” surrounding the Syrian government operation to retake Aleppo was created in order to generate the pretext for the military intervention long desired by Western governments, Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Now it’s Raqqa’s turn but, with the U.S. raining death from the sky, the same media shrugs.

 

People inspect damage from US coalition airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, Syria, May 29, 2017. (Aamaq via AP)

DAMASCUS, SYRIA – In late 2016, the Syrian city of Aleppo was the focus of an international “outcry” calling for an end to the Syrian government/Russian air strikes that were aimed at reclaiming the city from terrorist groups — depicted by the Western media as “moderate rebels.” Much of this outcry was fueled by the Western media’s frenzied coverage of the Aleppo siege. A large portion of this coverage relied heavily or exclusively on monitoring groups with close ties to these “rebels” and a vested interest in Western military intervention, such as the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Though many of the reports of airstrikes and many of the images purporting to show injured or dead civilians were later found to be fabricated, the call for foreign intervention to stem the tide of reported civilian deaths was fierce and very nearly successful in bringing about such intervention.

However, the situation in Aleppo is drastically different now, as it is back under Syrian government control and those once forced to flee are returning by the hundreds of thousands to the very government that was supposedly “indiscriminately” bombing them just months before. According to recent figures, over 600,000 civilians have returned to Aleppo since the year began.

 

 

Raqqa under coalition siege, rain of airstrikes

Alleged deployment of white phosphorus munitions in Raqqa, Syria. as reported by ISIS-linked Amaq news. (Photo: YouTube)

While Aleppo is rebuilding, Raqqa, its neighboring city to the east, has taken its place — as U.S.-coalition airstrikes rain down upon the city, claiming nearly a thousand civilian lives since the offensive began in early June. Recently, Amnesty International, along with other human rights groups, raised the alarm about the climbing civilian death count, noting that coalition air strikes are conducted indiscriminately, targeting any building believed to show a “hint” of Daesh (ISIS) activity.

Though the death count is hard to peg down, the airstrike monitoring group AirWars told Reuters that its findings have shown that between 725 and 993 civilians have been killed by coalition airstrikes since the U.S.-backed Kurdish offensive to retake Raqqa began in early June. However, AirWars director Chris Woods noted that hundreds more civilians have reportedly died after being caught in crossfire, attacked by Daesh, or mangled by minefields.

The coalition refutes these claims, having listed only 16 reports of civilian casualties in or near Raqqa since June, according to data obtained by Amnesty. In that same time frame, however, an independent commission found that the coalition had claimed as many as 300 civilian lives. The coalition apparently stopped keeping track of civilian deaths after June 30, as they have turned down journalist requests for updated figures.

Despite coalition assertions to the contrary, and despite minimal direct news coverage, the civilian death count has risen so high that it has garnered international media attention. Last Thursday, the UN called for the U.S. to temporarily halt airstrikes to allow an estimated 20,000 trapped civilians to escape Raqqa, after coalition bombs claimed the lives of over 100 civilians in just 48 hours. U.S. officials, however, have rejected this call. Special Envoy Brett McGurk insisted that the U.S. coalition campaign against Daesh in Raqqa is going very well, adding that the “number one thing that we have to do” to assist Raqqa’s civilians is to continue the war.

Some have seen, in its bombing of the Euphrates River, evidence that the U.S. coalition is intentionally targeting civilians. Civilians who have managed to escape have nearly all done so by crossing the river in small boats, as the bridges were bombed earlier this year and are out of service. General Stephen Townsend, the U.S. commander of the coalition forces, recently stated “we shoot every boat we find,” despite the numerous reports documenting the river as the main path of escape for Raqqa’s civilians, estimated at 220,000 prior the war.

According to Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, Donatella Rovera, this policy is both “extremely worrying and absolutely unacceptable,” as it amounts to an on-the-record policy of indiscriminately bombing civilians.

In addition, the leaflets that have been dropped into Raqqa, supposedly to instruct civilians about how to evacuate, have been found to be in direct conflict with each other, leading to confusion and unnecessary deaths.

Speculation regarding the targeting of civilians has also been fueled by the Syrian Democratic Forces announcement that rule of Raqqa after the offensive will be given to an autonomous, Kurd-dominated “council,” not the Syrian government — allowing the city and its surrounding area to be annexed into the independent Kurdish statelet that has sprouted up in Northern Syria with U.S. assistance, a key step towards the U.S.-backed partition of Syria.

Given that Raqqa’s native population is largely Arab, it has been suggested that Raqqa’s demographic must be drastically altered if the city is to be annexed and ruled by the Kurdish minority.  

 

Aleppo and Raqqa: ‘bad’ and ‘good’ bombardment

Black smoke rises from Raqqa where U.S.-forces are battling ISIS militants, in, northeast Syria, Thursday, July 27, 2017. (AP/Hussein Malla)

The current situation in Raqqa is remarkably similar to Western media characterizations of the Syrian government- and Russia-supported effort to reclaim Aleppo from U.S.-backed “moderate rebel” control. However, the media coverage could not be more different. Consider, for example, the coverage by The New York Times regarding the bombardment of both cities.

Last September, the Times ran a story titled “Syria and Russia Appear Ready to Scorch Aleppo.”

The authors of the piece described the situation as follows:

“Make life intolerable and death likely. Open an escape route, or offer a deal to those who leave or surrender. Let people trickle out. Kill whoever stays. Repeat until a deserted cityscape is yours.

It is a strategy that both the Syrian government and its Russian allies have long embraced to subdue Syrian rebels, largely by crushing the civilian populations that support them.

But in the past few days, as hopes for a revived cease-fire have disintegrated at the United Nations, the Syrians and Russians seem to be mobilizing to apply this kill-all-who-resist strategy to the most ambitious target yet: the rebel-held sections of the divided metropolis of Aleppo.”

This characterization of Aleppo — largely based on the reports of groups such as the discredited and pro-”rebel” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Al-Qaeda-embedded White Helmets — paints the Syrian government as the butchers of its own people

However, months later, we now know that much of the Western reporting regarding the retaking of Aleppo was dishonest, at best.

Reports by independent journalists on the ground in Syria at the time, particularly Vanessa Beeley, highlighted that many of these “moderate rebels” were actually terrorists, who were depriving the civilians in the areas they controlled of water and other basic needs. Many of the civilians who have since returned to Aleppo have confirmed that these so-called “moderate rebels” were anything but, and that many of them shared deep ties with Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, al-Nusra.

In this Tuesday, July 24, 2012 photo, Free Syrian Army soldiers are seen at the border town of Azaz, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Turkpix)

In addition, the most famous photo used to push for intervention, that of the young boy Omran Daqneesh, was found — months after it had been plastered across media outlets throughout the world — to have been partially fabricated. Omran’s father, upon returning to Aleppo following its liberation, told numerous media outlets in Syria and Lebanon, as well as independent Western journalists, that the “rebels” had contrived to use his son to justify foreign intervention.

He also stated that he had not heard a plane above his house before the strike that allegedly was the source of Omran’s injuries captured in the photo. He also said that he had received and rejected offers to leave Syria from parties wishing to damage the reputation of the Syrian government, and had even changed his son’s name and hairstyle to protect him from those who had threatened to kidnap him.

 

Now, with the mounting civilian death toll resulting from U.S. airstrikes in Raqqa, the Times has struck a very different tone in its assessment of the situation. In reporting on the civilian death toll in recent weeks, the Times chronicled the U.S.’ killing of an estimated 170 civilians within a single week, citing war monitors and testimonials of Raqqa refugees.

However, turning a blind eye to the U.S.’ manifest “kill-all-who-resist” strategy, the Times article prominently features the coalition’s official position — informing readers that “The U.S.-led coalition says it is careful to avoid civilian casualties in its bombing runs against Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, and investigates any allegations.” Despite such planted propaganda, however, human rights groups such as Amnesty International have found investigations to be minimal and have also noted that the U.S. is deliberately using munitions that are hardly precise.

In addition, the article failed to associate the suffering of Raqqa’s civilians with the destructive results of U.S coalition bombing. For instance, while noting that “an activist-run group, ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently,’ said it had documented at least 946 civilian deaths since the Raqqa offensive began in June,” it failed to mention that most of these deaths have been the direct result of coalition airstrikes.

Other reports from the Times, such as its coverage of the Amnesty International report, blamed the casualties on the coalition’s “reliance on ordnance” as opposed to its policy of indiscriminate bombing, a major focus of Amnesty’s report.

Other major Western media outlets, such as CNN, have largely been sympathetic to the coalition in their reporting. Many of them have cited the slow pace of the offensive or blamed Daesh for the civilian deaths.

 

Conclusion: geopolitical goals change the propaganda and media lens

The September, 2013 issue of The Economist.

Behind the disparate responses to Aleppo and Raqqa is an interventionist narrative that supports regime change. The “outcry” surrounding the Syrian government operation to retake Aleppo was created in order to generate the pretext for the military intervention long desired by Western governments, Israel and the Gulf monarchies — using the same “humanitarian” justification that led to invasions of nations like Libya, Iraq and others.

As independent journalist Vanessa Beeley noted at the time, after having traveled to Aleppo during the height of the siege, “the Western media is selling the public a humanitarian war” through its biased coverage of the operation to retake Aleppo.

One of the key revelations that has exposed this outcry as having been largely manufactured – aside from those reports and photos later found to be fabricated – is the fact that the refugees who had left Aleppo, supposedly fleeing Assad, were actually fleeing the “moderate rebels” and have since returned by the hundreds of thousands to Aleppo.

This despite the fact that Aleppo is now under full control of the government that allegedly murdered its own civilians with cluster bombs.

The return of civilians to Aleppo has also been notably absent from mainstream Western coverage.

The situation in Raqqa is depicted in stark contrast to that of Aleppo — a reversal of perspective due mainly to the identity of the power conducting the airstrikes. The U.S. largely gets a free pass from the Western press regarding any war crimes it commits. In this case the pass is conferred irrespective of the fact that the U.S. presence in Syria is technically illegal, given that the Syrian government never approved their operations within the country. As another example of this egregious double standard, the U.S.’ indiscriminate use of white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, in Raqqa was hardly the subject of “outrage” it was for the Syrian government’s alleged and now debunked use of chemical weapons on civilians.

There is, however, an underlying motive for the carnage in Raqqa, one that also explains both the Western media’s silence on the climbing civilian death toll as well as the U.S.’ refusal to halt air strikes despite the UN’s pleas. As MintPress previously reported, the ultimate goal of the U.S.’ involvement in Syria is the partition of the country with a large portion of the country’s North, including Raqqa, under the control of an independent Kurdish state.

The Kurds, who dominate the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leading the U.S.-backed invasion of Raqqa, are seeking to bring Raqqa into their fold following the conclusion of the current offensive. The SDF announced months ago that they would hand control of Raqqa to an autonomous “council” largely composed of Kurds.

However, as MintPress has also previously noted, a major obstacle to Raqqa’s inclusion in the Kurdish autonomous region is the population of Raqqa itself, which is predominately Arab. As journalist Andrew Korybko noted, it is highly unlikely that any Arab, or non-Kurd for that matter, living in Raqqa would freely choose to live in a “Kurdish-dominated statelet” as a second-class citizen instead of choosing to have equal standing within the Syrian Arab Republic. Raqqa’s pre-siege population would essentially prevent the annexation of Raqqa by the Kurds.

Yet, now with over 200,000 civilians having fled and nearly 1,000 killed by coalition airstrikes alone, this geopolitical pipe dream is quickly becoming a reality, as only 20,000 of Raqqa’s previous population of 220,000 remain. Though this is ethnic cleansing by any other name, the Western media is busy keeping the focus away from Syria, particularly Raqqa, in order to achieve the long desired partition of Syria — without a peep from the public and without concern for the thousands of innocent Syrian lives lost in the process.

The return of civilians to Aleppo has also been notably absent from mainstream Western coverage.

The situation in Raqqa is depicted in stark contrast to that of Aleppo — a reversal of perspective due mainly to the identity of the power conducting the airstrikes. The U.S. largely gets a free pass from the Western press regarding any war crimes it commits. In this case the pass is conferred irrespective of the fact that the U.S. presence in Syria is technically illegal, given that the Syrian government never approved their operations within the country. As another example of this egregious double standard, the U.S.’ indiscriminate use of white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, in Raqqa was hardly the subject of “outrage” it was for the Syrian government’s alleged and now debunked use of chemical weapons on civilians.

There is, however, an underlying motive for the carnage in Raqqa, one that also explains both the Western media’s silence on the climbing civilian death toll as well as the U.S.’ refusal to halt air strikes despite the UN’s pleas. As MintPress previously reported, the ultimate goal of the U.S.’ involvement in Syria is the partition of the country with a large portion of the country’s North, including Raqqa, under the control of an independent Kurdish state.

The Kurds, who dominate the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leading the U.S.-backed invasion of Raqqa, are seeking to bring Raqqa into their fold following the conclusion of the current offensive. The SDF announced months ago that they would hand control of Raqqa to an autonomous “council” largely composed of Kurds.

However, as MintPress has also previously noted, a major obstacle to Raqqa’s inclusion in the Kurdish autonomous region is the population of Raqqa itself, which is predominately Arab. As journalist Andrew Korybko noted, it is highly unlikely that any Arab, or non-Kurd for that matter, living in Raqqa would freely choose to live in a “Kurdish-dominated statelet” as a second-class citizen instead of choosing to have equal standing within the Syrian Arab Republic. Raqqa’s pre-siege population would essentially prevent the annexation of Raqqa by the Kurds.

Yet, now with over 200,000 civilians having fled and nearly 1,000 killed by coalition airstrikes alone, this geopolitical pipe dream is quickly becoming a reality, as only 20,000 of Raqqa’s previous population of 220,000 remain. Though this is ethnic cleansing by any other name, the Western media is busy keeping the focus away from Syria, particularly Raqqa, in order to achieve the long desired partition of Syria — without a peep from the public and without concern for the thousands of innocent Syrian lives lost in the process.

Let’s Call “Trump’s Generals” What They Are: A Military Junta – By Whitney Webb

Trump is fond of boasting about “his” generals. But over the short course of his presidency’s first months, the possession and control have reversed themselves. Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly have banished all opposition and now pour the neo-con agenda straight into Trump’s ear.

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman attend a joint press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 21, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/AP)

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S., long known for its meddling in the affairs of other nations, also has a long and sordid history of supporting military juntas abroad, many of which it forced into power through bloody coups or behind-the-scenes power grabs. From Greece in the 1960s to Argentina in the 1980s to the current al-Sisi-led junta in Egypt, Washington has actively and repeatedly supported such undemocratic regimes despite casting itself as the world’s greatest promoter of “democracy.”

Finally in 2017, karma appears to have come back to roost, as the current presidential administration has now effectively morphed into what is, by definition, a military junta. Though the military-industrial complex has long directed U.S. foreign policy, in the administration of President Donald Trump a group of military officers has gathered unprecedented power and, for all intents and purposes, rules the country.

 

 

Three generals at the center of power

In a recent article in The Washington Post, titled “Military Leaders Consolidate Power In Trump Administration,” Post reporters Robert Costa and Philip Rucker noted that “At the core of Trump’s circle is a seasoned trio of generals with experience as battlefield commanders: White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The three men have carefully cultivated personal relationships with the president and gained his trust.”

“This is the only time in modern presidential history when we’ve had a small number of people from the uniformed world hold this much influence over the chief executive,” John E. McLaughlin, a former acting director of the CIA who served in seven administrations, told the Post. “They are right now playing an extraordinary role.”

This role, however, appears to reach beyond “extraordinary”. Although Trump is fond of calling them “my generals,” they now, Costa and Rucker report, “manage Trump’s hour-by-hour interactions and whisper in his ear – and those whispers, as with the decision this week to expand U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, often become policy.” Another Washington Post article, published last Tuesday, led with the headline “The Generals Have Trump Surrounded.”

Also notable is the fact that this trio of generals has overseen the firing of more independent, “outsider” voices, notably Derek Harvey and Steve Bannon. Bannon, in particular, was a thorn in the side of the generals, in light primarily of his staunch opposition to the American “empire project” and new wars abroad. Bannon had opposed Trump’s strike against Syria, troop surges in Iraq, and the dropped hint of a ”military option” to deal with the crisis in Venezuela. The New York Times referred to McMaster as Bannon’s “nemesis in the West Wing,” precisely due to McMaster’s commitment to American empire building.

With Bannon’s relatively recent departure, the tone of the Trump administration – now unequivocally ruled by “the generals” – has changed significantly — as illustrated by Trump’s decision to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, a measure both Bannon and Trump himself once opposed.

In addition, last Thursday, Politico published a report detailing the control exercised by Kelly over the president, as he personally vets “everything” that comes across Trump’s desk. Politico referenced two memos that laid out a system “designed to ensure that the president won’t see any external policy documents, internal policy memos, agency reports and even news articles that haven’t been vetted.”

The Hill further noted that Kelly is also “keeping a tight leash” on who gets to meet directly with the President in the Oval Office, which is now strictly appointment-only and also dependent upon Kelly’s approval.

 

How many generals does it take . . . ?

Kelly, however, is a recent arrival. H.R. McMaster, who took control of the National Security Council (NSC) following Flynn’s ouster in February, has been — at least since April — personally controlling the flow of national security information that makes it to the president. McMaster also took control of the Homeland Security Council and had Steve Bannon, known for his strident nationalism and anti-interventionism, removed from the NSC.

“McMaster is trying to put them [NSC staffers] under his control and either removing or downgrading people who had independent linkages to the White House so that advice will flow through him,” Mark Cancian, a national security expert and former White House official, told The Washington Post in April.

McMaster has drawn more ire than any other of “Trump’s generals” from disillusioned members of Trump’s base, many of whom have pejoratively referred to the NSC adviser as “President McMaster.” McMaster has also overridden many of the Trump’s policies, such as asking South Korea to pay for the THAAD missile system, and has actively pushed for a ground war in Syria and a massive 50,000-troop surge in Afghanistan.

The first of the trio of generals to be appointed to a high-ranking position in the Trump administration was Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Neo-cons like Bill Kristol and Elliot Abrams, along with “an anonymous group of conservative billionaires,” had called for Mattis to be drafted into running as a third party candidate in the 2016 election. Though his candidacy did not materialize as such, formal election appears to have been unnecessary.

Mattis began to take power in March. At the time, Defense One noted that Trump’s generals, including Mattis, “increasingly sound like they’re working for a different president altogether.” Trump’s failure to take the general’s advice was soon met with threats of resignation, shortly after which Trump’s tone changed and he gave Mattis “a freer hand to launch time-sensitive missions.”

The new model of command that arose involved “pre-delegating authority to Mattis; …that authority could be pushed much further down the chain of command – all the way down to the three-star general who runs JSOC.” Essentially, the White House, though still informed of military operations, relinquished commanding authority over the U.S. military to Mattis. Since the great “war power giveaway,” Mattis has overseen the expansion of every theater of war Trump inherited from his predecessor.

 

 

President Wolfowitz? The neo-cons back in the saddle and unchallenged

Former Deputy Defense Secretary, and former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, center, attends a farewell ceremony for outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Not surprisingly, the path now being followed by the Trump administration, at the behest of the generals, is a familiar one. This likely owes to both Mattis’ and McMaster’s allegiance to notorious neo-cons and war hawks — such as Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and creator of the Wolfowitz doctrine, and David Petraeus, disgraced general and former director of the CIA. Wolfowitz, in an April interview with Politico, revealed that he was in private email correspondence with both Mattis and McMaster, “in hopes they will pursue a U.S. strategy of stepped-up engagement in the Middle East” and elsewhere.

Though the generals are in control and their junta established, they are not the ones calling the shots — as Wolfowitz’s revelation suggests. The military-industrial complex and the ever-hawkish neoconservatives have taken over, refusing to let the anti-interventionism the American people voted for make itself heard. As Henry Kissinger — the man who installed military juntas throughout the world — once said of the Chilean people, while planning a coup against their democracy: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Over 60 years later, the theater of engagement has come home and the warning against foreign “communism” has been replaced by one against our own “anti-interventionism.” However, the powers-that-be have once again revealed that they will not allow the “irresponsibility” of any group, including American voters, to get in the way of their trillion dollar war racket and their expansion of the U.S. military empire.

Violent “Color Revolution” in America? Attempted overthrow of Trump threatens to shred fabric of American society – By Larry Chin

Manufactured Civil War, Guided Anarchy

© Global Research

What is now unfolding in America is a process of engineered dissent which is controlled by the corporate elites. This process precludes the formation of a real mass movement against racism, social injustice and US led wars.

This article by Larry Chin analyzes how the elite opponents of Donald Trump are manipulating public opinion with the support of the mainstream corporate media. Through staged protest events funded by corporate foundations, the unspoken objective is to create profound divisions within American society. These divisions preclude the formation of a meaningful and united protest movement.

The objective of these staged protest movements against Trump is not to support democracy. Quite the opposite. It is to ensure complete control over the US State apparatus by a competing faction of the corporate establishment. Where is the US antiwar movement? Rarely are these engineered protests against US led wars.

A grassroots and united movement against the Trump presidency and the Neocons, against war and social injustice is what has to be achieved. But this will not occur when several of the organizations which are leading the protest against Trump are supported and funded by Wall Street.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research 2017

***
A race war and a civil war are being incited by the US political establishment and Deep State opponents of Donald Trump, in order to foment violence towards Trump’s removal from the White House. The events in Charlottesville, together with “Russia-Gate” are being used as a “defining moment of crisis” and a pretext to justify Trump’s overthrow.

Turning American streets into war zones

America has never faced chaos of this nature in modern times: manufactured domestic political terrorism disguised as civil unrest, masking a coup. The stated goal of the agitators is “mass insurrection“and “all forms of violence” to make the country “ungovernable”

Just as the global “war on terrorism” is a criminality and treason disguised as “freedom fighting” and “the defense of liberty”, this war against Trump, labelled as the “new Hitler”, is part of an unfolding domestic terror operation, which ironically utilizes the propaganda techniques of Hitler and the Third Reich (Goebbels), not to mention the anarchist playbook of Saul Alinsky (and, by extension, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both of whom are Alinsky disciples). (See also Ben Carson quoted in the Washington Post, “Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky and Lucifer, explained”, July 20, 2015)

From the violence and propaganda brainwashing to the manipulation and destruction of culture and history (statues and monuments, etc.). what is unfolding is a repeat of familiar institutional terror.

Goals are achieved through the weaponization and mobilization of indoctrinated and deceived masses as well as grassroots activists, coupled with mind-controlled authoritarian thugs.

The larger “resistance” features a toxic combination of professional paid anarchists, brainwashed “social justice warriors”, and deluded protestors who are misinformed and invariably ignorant as to who is supporting and funding the “protest movements”. There is no rational conversation to be had, no reasoning, in such an atmosphere of ginned-up hysteria.

This large-scale extortion aims to devastate the United States from within, forcing Trump out of office. An already deeply divided and confused nation with an already shredded social fabric will be torn apart.

The mainstream corporate media, the engineers of delusion and mob-manipulating propaganda, is ginning it up, creating mass hysteria and mental affliction.

What is taking place is not simple protests from supporters of a losing political faction, but a domestic terrorism operation planned and executed by the establishment majority-supported by neoliberals as well as neoconservative Republicans-in defense of their system against perceived existential threat from anti-establishment movements. Mob violence has always been a weapon of the oligarchy. It was inaccurate and tactically stupid for Trump to call this insurrection “Alt-Left”. It is in fact a mainstream establishment operation, which uses “left”, “progressive” and antifa symbols to pursue its political objectives.

The ultimate objective is to create social divisions which prevent the development of a real and independent mass protest movement against the seats of corporate power.

This “chaos agenda”is a “color revolution”. The elites and Deep State figures behind today’s American anarchy are the same ones that funded and orchestrated “color revolutions” around the world, the toppling of Ukraine and the installation of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Svoboda regime, unrest in Turkey, the destabilization of Syria, the European refugee crisis, and the Arab Spring. What worked overseas is now being applied within US borders.

The Purple Revolution began the night Trump won the presidential election that foiled the installation of Hillary Clinton. This warfare has escalated and intensified in the months ever since, culminating with Charlottesville.

The increasingly failing Trump/Russian hack narrative is being replaced by a variation on an old theme: Nazis. “Trump is a Nazi”. Nazis must die.

Trump’s repeated denials and long history of standing against Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists, and having nothing to do with them, are to no avail.

Antifa

The mainstream media predictably fails to report the fact that Antifa anarchist groups are responsible for the majority of the continuing political violence, including Charlottesville, Boston, and the Battle of Berkeley, enabled by police stand-downs and incompetence. Local police forces, university police, and local mainstream media in heavily liberal cities (such as Berkeley) openly back the Democratic Party’s anti-Trump agenda and act in support of the anarchists.

Masked, armed authoritarian anarchists, provocateurs and terrorists are referred to blandly in mainstream media accounts as “counter-protestors”,when in fact they are the instigators and shock troops of the larger national coup, and vastly outnumber Trump supporters (not all of whom are “right-wing). These violent groups, operating under the banners of “peace and justice” in fact embody the opposite.

© CNN
Screenshot, source CNN, August 17, 2017

These supposedly leaderless domestic front groups, including Antifa, Black Bloc, Black Lives Matter, Occupy, Disrupt J20, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and others can all be traced to the Democracy Alliance, elite “civil society” foundations, establishment politicians, Democrats and Republicans, and assets of the Deep State. The connections between the Washington establishment and the myriad anarchist groups are well known. Moreover, these domestic front organizations -many of which include within their ranks grassroots progressive activists- are invariably funded (directly or indirectly) by corporate establishment foundations.

These various groups whose instigators mobilize “a progressive grassroots” have been combined and mobilized into one coordinated anti-Trump agitation apparatus. Like the terrorist networks that they are, they function like any other CIA covert operation, each cell inculcated from the others, with plausible denial in place for the organizers and leadership.

The Justice Department has done virtually nothing about these groups, while CIA-connected media such as CNN devote puff pieces to puff pieces in support of Antifa’s “peace through violence” agenda, and then scrubbing the (accurate) title post-facto for more favorable publicity.

Charlottesville

Charlottesville was not a spontaneous eruption of violence but the new stage of civil war.

The Charlottesville Clash: Protest and Counter-Protest, Politicized Media Propaganda

The white nationalist events were long planned. The removal of Confederate statues led to the incitement. While this was the largest gathering of various white nationalist groups in recent history, these relatively small, fringe, politically insignificant groups are routinely monitored and/or infiltrated by the FBI. The idea that US domestic intelligence and law enforcement, and Virginia and Charlottesville authorities were not fully aware of, and ready for, any possibility of violence is preposterous. Permits were granted.

There is compelling evidence that the police stood down. (Also see here) The venue was turned into trap, a kill zone, with alt-right nationalist participants crammed inside barricades, surrounded at chokepoints by Antifa.

It is no coincidence that Charlottesville was set up in virtually the same fashion as the spring 2017 Battle of Berkeley, where outnumbered Trump supporters gathering for an event were also trapped behind barricades and surrounded by Antifa, and forced to fight off attacking mobs. In Charlottesville as well as Berkeley, hours of open street warfare were allowed to take place unabated by the police.

(See also the following related report White nationalist fires gun into crowd, police do not move (New York Times)

While chaos in Charlottesville erupted on all sides, many accounts strongly suggest that the Antifa forces instigated the violence. Also demanding investigation is evidence of orchestration and staging and other highly suspicious anomalies.

The presence of the FBI and other intelligence agencies must be noted. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe is a notorious long-time Democratic operative and Clinton surrogate. Unite the Right Rally organizer Jason Kessler was a member of Occupy and an Obama supporter. Crisis actors were hired for the event.

The man who drove a car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer, committed an act of terrorism and murder by any definition. But this act of murder occurred after hours of street warfare that was stopped, and allowed to escalate.

It is also not clear who the driver actually was. Was it James Fields, the man who was arrested, or was it someone else? Whoever it was had the skills of a stunt driver. Adding to the confusion are questions about the identity and behavior of those who were attacking the vehicle with baseball bats.

Was Charlottesville a staged false flag operation? Why was this melee allowed to explode? Who gave the orders, and who financed the fighters on both sides?

What is crystal clear is that the entire Washington political establishment, Deep State and mainstream media are benefitting. Trump’s opponents have their pretext and potent new propaganda weapons. They have Heather Heyer as a martyr and symbol of “resistance”.

Charlottesville is shamelessly being used as a fundraising tool. Heather Heyer becomes a symbol and martyr.

Ukraine connection to Charlottesville

As detailed by Lee Stranahan (and on Twitter) there are disturbing connections to Ukraine. These same connections were also noted by Julian Assange.

James Fields, the alleged driver, connected to Ukraine is spotted on videotape chanting “Blood and Soil” and torch-marching, the slogan of Nazi Ukraine Svoboda Party. The Charlottesville torch march was identical to the torch marches in Ukraine. In fact, Ukrainian flags were flown in Charlottesville.

Is it merely a coincidence that elements of the CIA/Obama/Clinton Ukraine coup show up here? The Washington politicians now spewing outrage about racism and Nazis at Trump today, including John McCain are active collaborators with the Ukrainian Nazis.

© Reuters
Former US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland together with leader of Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Party Svoboda Oleh Tyahnybok (left)

Is it also coincidental that these Ukrainian Nazis, working in conjunction with US establishment DNC and Republicans alike, also happen to be the central figures behind the completely false Trump/Russia hack narrative that never seems to die?

Intimidation of thought and ideas

Staged mob violence and authoritarian threats are not limited to the streets. Thought itself is under attack.

Not only Trump supporters, but all opponents and critics of the political establishment cannot express themselves without threat of reprisal, censorship, and violence.

A full-scale assault is being carried out against alternative media.

The campaign against “hate speech” and “hate content” labels any anti-establishment media as “hate”. The attack is so broad-brush that entire networks are branded right-wing or “alt-right”, when in fact, many are not right-wing, and many are non-partisan. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, among others, are engaged in campaigns of censorship and control, including the policing of content, the demonetization and suspension of sites, control of political content, and outright censorship through deletion.

Hypocrisy

While Trump is no “Role Model” of political and moral behavior, he has been branded a Nazi and white racist, despite his disavowal and criticism of white supremacists, Nazis, David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. According to Israel Shamir:

President Trump condemned both sides participating in the brawl’ both white nationalists and Antifa. It is exactly what his opponents were waiting for. His attempt to stay above the brawl was doomed to defeat: liberal hegemonists immediately branded him a racist and neo-Nazi. Trump reminded them that not all defenders of the monument were white racists, but this argument didn’t work. (Global Research, August 26, 2017

Despite the fact that he spoke out forcefully, many times. (Trump spent much of a recent rally in Phoenix detailing his many responses. See here.) The mainstream media offers no quarter.

Similarly, the majority of Trump supporters have no association with extremist groups of any kind, and have long opposed white nationalists and the “Alt-Right”. Violence has been aggressively disavowed by most of Trump’s base, including Mike Cernovich, who has forcefully denounced violence, and Jack Posobiec, who organized anti-violence rallies weeks prior to Charlottesville. The mainstream media refused to report on these events, while continuing to label him a right-wing extremist and Nazi.

Meanwhile, the establishment “Left” has persistently engaged in violence, without disavowing violence. Project Veritas has exposed and proven the fact that violence is a routine method utilized by Democratic Party operatives. Former president Barack Obama openly encouraged the mobs, pushing them to continue “expressing themselves”. Former Attorney G Loretta Lynch called for blood in the streets. Democratic members of Congress openly call for Trump’s assassination.The Alexandria mass shooting was the work of a Bernie Sanders supporter. The mainstream media ignores or refuses to accurately report these stories.

Staged anarchist agitation and violence-“protest culture”-is not only being normalized, but popularized. The masses are being successfully indoctrinated. Witness the pervasiveness and viciousness of Hollywood and sports celebrities, who have not refrained from calling for violence against Trump.

Orwellian madness on steroids

Even as establishment-guided mobs intimidate and commit violence, their victims are blamed for violence and hate crimes.

Trump is vilified as a world-ending Nazi/fascist/racist/misogynist, the symbol of tyranny, while the true tyrants and criminals continue to walk free.

Peace is achieved through violence.

Mob violence is noble and heroic.

Attacked from all sides

Trump is under attack and increasingly isolated.

Glen Greenwald beg’s the question: What’s worse: Trump’s agenda or empowering generals and CIA operatives to subvert it?

In addition to being assaulted from outside (Purple Revolution, Russia/hack, Robert Mueller, impeachment threats, etc.), he is being sabotaged and subverted from inside the White House, and from inside his innermost circle, by the likes of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Dina Habib Powell and the West Wing globalists including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, and Steve Mnuchin.

McMaster has purged the administration of Trump loyalists and populists, and replaced with Bush/Obama/Clinton/Deep State operatives, and runs foreign policy with vice president Mike Pence. Pence routinely issues statements contradictory to Trump’s own ideas. He has not been the focus of any mainstream media criticism. This Bush loyalist is in perfect position to become president in the event of Trump’s removal (by whatever means that occurs).

The neocon generals – Mattis, McMaster, Kelly – “oversee” and control Trump on all matters, treating him like a child. Kelly controls all information to and from Trump.

Trump often seems not to understand what is happening. On the day Charlottesville occurred, Trump applauded the Virginia authorities and Terry McAuliffe, who were more likely involved in causing the disaster. Trump also congratulated the anarchists in Boston-on Ivanka Trump’s urging. Was he oblivious to the fact that the 4,000 Boston protestors were protesting him?

For Trump’s Afghanistan strategy address to the nation, Kelly insisted that Trump walk back the controversy of his remarks on Charlottesville. McMaster and Mattis also insisted, and Trump agreed.

The swamp is not being drained. It is being filled to overflowing. With all of this damage, some of it self-inflicted (why has Trump allowed it?), how will this president hope to deal with a manufactured civil war?

No end in sight

The Summer of Rage is in full swing, but the rage is far from over.

There continue to be anti-Trump events in all major cities in the country, seemingly every weekend. Ginned-up Antifa mobs are being mobilized in response to small pro-Trump “Freedom of Speech” events scheduled to take place in San Francisco and Berkeley on the weekend of August 26. The upcoming clash is already being called the Battle of Berkeley 3.

With the fervent and unanimous support of the San Francisco Bay Area political establishment-all of whom are Democratic Party faithful who (including Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Nancy Pelosi, etc.) are openly calling for Trump’s ouster-it is expected that yet another comparatively small gathering for “prayer, patriotism and free speech”-Trump supporters-will be swarmed and viciously shut down by mobs of Trump-hating Antifa and “social justice warriors”.

The media ignores the fact that the organizers of the pro-Trump rally condemn Nazis and white supremacists, and prohibit them from attending. Headlines continue to brand the event “far right” and”Nazi”, in order to incite.

Comment:

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The Sinister War On Cash As A Means of Eliminating Our Privacy and Autonomy – By F. William Engdahl (New Eastern Outlook)

Has it ever occurred to you that when you have no cash, you have no privacy?

An operation that began as a seemingly obscure academic discussion three years ago is now becoming a full-blown propaganda campaign by some of the most powerful institutions in the industrialized world. This is what rightly should be termed the War on Cash. Like the War on Terror, the War on Cancer or the War on Drugs, its true agenda is sinister and opaque. If we are foolish enough to swallow the propaganda for complete elimination of cash in favor of pure digital bank money, we can pretty much kiss our remaining autonomy and privacy goodbye. George Orwell’s 1984 will be here on steroids.

Let me be clear. Here we discuss not various block-chain digital technologies, so-called crypto-currencies. We are not addressing private payment systems such as China’s WeChat. Nor do we discuss e-banking or use of bank credit cards such as Visa or Master Card or others. These are of an entirely different quality from the goal of the ongoing sinister war on cash. They are all private services not state.

What we are discussing is a plot, and it is a plot, by leading central banks, select governments, the International Monetary Fund in collusion with major international banks to force citizens-in other words, us!-to give up holding cash or using it to pay for purchases. Instead we would be forced to use digital bank credits. The difference, subtle though it may at first seem, is huge. As in India following the mad Modi US-inspired war on cash late in 2016, citizens would forever lose their personal freedom to decide how to pay or their privacy in terms of money. If I want to buy a car and pay cash to avoid bank interest charges, I cannot. My bank will limit the amount of digital money I can withdraw on any given day. If I want to stay in a nice hotel to celebrate a special day and pay cash for reasons of privacy, not possible. But this is just the surface.

Visa joins the war

This July, Visa International rolled out what it calls “The Visa Cashless Challenge.” With select buzz words about how technology has transformed global commerce, Visa announced a program to pay selected small restaurant owners in the USA if they agree to refuse to accept cash from their customers but only credit cards. The official Visa website announces, “Up to $500,000 in awards. 50 eligible food service owners. 100% cashless quest.” Now for a mammoth company such as Visa with annual revenues in the $15 billion range, a paltry $500,000 is chump change. Obviously they believe it will advance use of Visa cards in a market that until now prefers cash-the small family restaurant.

The Visa “challenge” to achieve what it calls the “100% cashless quest” is no casual will-o’-the-wisp. It is part of a very thought-through strategy of not only Visa, but also the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, the International Monetary Fund and the Reserve Bank of India to name just a few.

IMF on Boiling Frogs

In March this year the International Monetary Fund in Washington issued a Working Paper on what they call “de-cashing.” The paper recommends that, “going completely cashless should be phased in steps.” It notes the fact that there already exist “initial and largely uncontested steps, such as the phasing out of large denomination bills, the placement of ceilings on cash transactions, and the reporting of cash moves across the borders. Further steps could include creating economic incentives to reduce the use of cash in transactions, simplifying the opening and use of transferrable deposits, and further computerizing the financial system.”

In France since 2015 the limit a person may pay in cash to a business is a mere €1000 “to tackle money laundering and tax evasion.” Moreover, any deposit or withdrawal of cash from a bank account in excess of €10,000 in a month will automatically be reported to Tracfin, a unit of the French government charged with combating money laundering, “largely uncontested steps” and very ominous portents.

The IMF paper further adds as argument for eliminating cash that “de-cashing should improve tax collection by reducing tax evasion.” Said with other words, if you are forced to use only digital money transfers from a bank, the governments of virtually every OECD country today have legal access to the bank data of their citizens.

In April, a month after the IMF paper on de-cashing, the Brussels EU Commission released a statement that declared, “Payments in cash are widely used in the financing of terrorist activities. In this context, the relevance of potential upper limits to cash payments could also be explored. Several Member States have in place prohibitions for cash payments above a specific threshold.”

Even in Switzerland, as a result of relentless campaigns by Washington, their legendary bank secrecy has been severely compromised under the fallacious argument it hinders financing of terrorist organizations. A glance at recent European press headlines about attacks from Barcelona to Munich to London to Charlottesville exposes this argument as a sham.

Today in the EU, as further result of Washington pressure, under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) banks outside the USA where US citizens hold a deposit are forced to file yearly reports on the assets in those accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the US Treasury. Conveniently for the US as the major emerging tax haven, the US Government has refused, despite it being specified in the Act, to join FACTA itself.

In 2016 the European Central Bank discontinued issuing €500 bills arguing it would hinder organized crime and terrorism, a poor joke to be sure, as if the sophisticated networks of organized crime depend on paper currencies. In the US, leading economists such as former Harvard President Larry Summers advocate eliminating the $100 bill for the same alleged reason.

$10 limit?

The real aim of the war on cash however was outlined in a Wall Street Journal OpEd by Harvard economist and former chief economist at the IMF, Kenneth Rogoff. Rogoff argues that there should be a drastic reduction in the Federal Reserve’s issuance of cash. He calls for all bills above the $10 bill to be removed from circulation, thereby forcing people and businesses to depend on digital or electronic payments solely. He repeats the bogus mantra that his plan would reduce money-laundering, thereby reduce crime while at the same time exposing tax cheats.

However the hidden agenda in this War on Cash is confiscation of our money in the next, inevitable banking crisis, whether in the EU member countries, the United States or developing countries like India.

Already several central banks have employed a policy of negative interest rates alleging, falsely, that this is necessary to stimulate growth following the 2008 financial and banking crisis. In addition to the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Danish National Bank adhere to this bizarre policy. However, their ability to lower interest rates to member banks even more is constrained as long as cash is plentiful.

Here the above cited IMF document lets the proverbial cat out of the sack. It states, “In particular, the negative interest rate policy becomes a feasible option for monetary policy if savings in physical currency are discouraged and substantially reduced. With de-cashing, most money would be stored in the banking system, and, therefore, would be easily affected by negative rates, which could encourage consumer spending…” That’s because your bank will begin to charge you for the “service” of allowing you to park your money with them where they can use it to make more money. To avoid that, we are told, we would spend like there’s no tomorrow. Obviously, this argument is fake.

As German economist Richard Werner points out, negative rates raise banks’ costs of doing business. “The banks respond by passing on this cost to their customers. Due to the already zero deposit rates, this means banks will raise their lending rates.” As Werner further notes, “In countries where a negative interest rate policy has been introduced, such as Denmark or Switzerland, the empirical finding is that it is not effective in stimulating the economy. Quite the opposite. This is because negative rates are imposed by the central bank on the banks – not the borrowing public.

He points out that the negative interest rate policy of the ECB is aimed at destroying the functioning, traditionally conservative EU savings banks such as the German Sparkassen and Volksbanken in favor of covertly bailing out the giant and financially corrupt mega-banks such as Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Societe Generale of France, Royal Bank of Scotland, Alpha Bank of Greece, or Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Italy and many others. The President of the ECB, Mario Draghi is a former partner of the mega bank, Goldman Sachs.

Why Now?

The relevant question is why now, suddenly the urgency of pushing for elimination of cash on the part of central banks and institutions such as the IMF? The drum roll for abolishing cash began markedly following the January 2016 Davos, Switzerland World Economic Summit where the western world’s leading government figures and central bankers and multinational corporations were gathered. The propaganda offensive for the current War on Cash offensive began immediately after the Davos talks.

Several months later, in November, 2016, guided by experts from USAID and, yes, Visa, the Indian government of Narenda Modi announced the immediate demonetization or forced removal of all 500 Rupee (US$8) and 1,000 Rupee (US$16) banknotes on the recommendation of the Reserve Bank of India. The Modi government claimed that the action would curtail the shadow economy and crack down on the use of illicit and counterfeit cash to fund illegal activity and terrorism.

Notably, the Indian Parliament recently made a follow-up study of the effects of the Modi war on cash. The Parliamentary Committee on Demonetization report documented that not a single stated objective was met. No major black money was found and Demonetization had no effect on terror funding, the reasons given by the Government to implement such a drastic policy. The report noted that while India’s central bank was allegedly attacking black money via demonetization, the serious illegal money in offshore tax havens was simply recycled back into India, “laundered” via Foreign Direct Investment by the criminal or corporate groups legally in a practice known as “Round Tripping.”

Yet the Parliament’s report detailed that the real Indian economy was dramatically hit. Industrial Production in April declined by a shocking 10.3 percent over the previous month as thousands of small businesses dependent on cash went under. Major Indian media have reportedly been warned by the Modi government not to publicize the Parliament report.

If we connect the dots on all this, it becomes clearer that the war on cash is a war on our individual freedom and degrees of freedom in our lives. Forcing our cash to become digital is the next step towards confiscation by the governments of the EU or USA or wherever the next major banking crisis such as in 2007-2008 erupts.

In late July this year Estonia as rotating presidency of the EU issued a proposal backed by Germany that would allow EU national regulators to “temporarily” stop people from withdrawing their funds from a troubled bank before depositors were able to create a bank “run.” The EU precedent was already set in Cyprus and in Greece where the government blocked cash withdrawals beyond tiny daily amounts.

As veteran US bank analyst Christopher Whelan points out in a recent analysis of the failure of the EU authorities to effectively clean up their banking mess since the 2008 financial crisis, “the idea that the banking public – who generally fall well-below the maximum deposit insurance limit – would ever be denied access to cash virtually ensures that deposit runs and wider contagion will occur in Europe next time a depository institution gets into trouble.” Whelan points out that nine years after the 2008 crisis, EU banks remain in horrendous condition. “There remains nearly €1 trillion in bad loans within the European banking system. This represents 6.7% of the EU economy. That’s huge. He points out that banks’ bad loans as share of GDP for US and Japan banks are 1.7 and 1.6 percent respectively.

As governments, whether in the EU or in India or elsewhere, refuse to rein in fraudulent practices of its largest banks, forcing people to eliminate use of cash and keep all their liquidity in digital deposits with state regulated banks, sets the stage for the state to confiscate those assets when they declare the next emergency. If we are foolish enough to permit this scam to pass unchallenged perhaps we deserve to lose our vestige of financial autonomy. Fortunately, popular resistance against elimination of cash in countries like Germany is massive. Germans recall the days of the 1920s Weimar Republic and hyperinflation as the 1931 banking crises that led to the Third Reich. The IMF approach is that of the Chinese proverb on boiling frogs slowly. But human beings are not frogs, or?

SYRIA’S ENERGY INDUSTRY REVIVAL – By Ziad Fadel

“Exclusive to SyrPer” by Canthama
 
 
 
 
NATURAL GAS
 
 
Some perspectives on the recent gas fields liberated in Syria and their impact on the future economy of Syria:
 
 
 
 
 
 
From peak production in 2010, prior to the war of aggression against the Syrians, the natural gas production reached 8.9 million(M) cubic(cu) meters(mts) per day in Syria, and it has been in a free fall since then to 3.8M cu mts per day in 2016, 43% of the all time record (this is basically official production under the Government of Syria).
 
 
 
 
Just the mega Tuweinaan gas field, recently liberated in central Homs Province, mostly intact, will be able to produce 3.3M cu mts in 6 months time as per initial plan, which could be intensified so as to reach the milestone of 0.6M cu mts per day production in few weeks, then 1.1M cu mts per day in 2 months and full force in 6 months or 3.3M cu mts per day of natural gas, that would almost, alone, double the country’s 2016 production.
 
 
 
 
Together with Tuweinaan gas field, over two dozens of gas fields were also liberated in the past 2 months, though smaller in size and in production capacity versus Tuweinaan, the Syrian Government believes those liberated gas fields can reach the production level from 2010 in 6 to 12 months. The Palmyra area in central Syria is the site of much of this activity, including the recently liberated Arak gas field, which came on stream at the end of 1995. Other important gas fields in the Palmyra area include Al-Hayl (liberated) and Al Doubayaat (still under ISIS, but not for long) — both of which are “sweet gas” and two “sour gas” fields — and Najeeb (mostly liberated this past Sunday) and Sukhna (fully liberated), which came on stream in 2000. Most of these fields will likely enjoy expansions in output post-conflict.
 
 
The Syrian Government’s herculean effort, during the 7-year conflict, to pump as much gas from the fields that were kept safe under the control of the State, generated much higher output in those individual gas fields versus prior to 2010 output, which helped to minimize the loss in production with the majority of gas fields under the terrorists’ control. On top of that good performance, the newly liberated gas fields, when in full production, can be expected to produce over 10M cu mts per day sometime by 2018, which would by itself be an all-time record for the country and a much needed resource of power and heating.
 
 
It is important to note that it is yet to be seen whether brand new investments to extract natural gas from the shallow waters off the Mediterranean coast of Latakia and Tartous will be forthcoming. There are massive reserves ready for development which will be fairly cheap to extract due to the low depth water and the size of the reserves.  These underwater gas fields are similar to those identified on the Lebanese and Palestinian coasts.
 
 
 
OIL
 
 
 
 
 
Syria was never a major oil player, but it produced more than its internal needs prior to the war of aggression against it.  Syria produced some 400,000 barrels per day in 2010 (all time record of 600,000/day in 1996), exporting 30% of this volume to overseas customers.
 
 
 
 
Different from the natural gas production, the conflict severely affected the Syrian oil production (official), reducing it to a fraction of the 2010 level, 3% of it or 14,000 barrels a day. This number does not take into account the oil smuggled to Turkey/Iraq Kurdistan/Israel by ISIS or Al-Qaeda.
 
 
By far the major oil extraction is located in the Deir El-Zor Province, reaching 60%+ of the total 2010 production level, with ‘Umar field representing 80,000 barrels/day prior to the conflict, or 20% of national share. The oil found in Deir El-Zor back in the 1980s is the light-grade/low-sulphur oil, usually praised as high quality/value oil.
 
 
 
 
On the oil refinery side, Syria’s two oil refineries are located at Baniyas and Homs. Total refinery capacity from these refineries in 2004 was estimated at 239,865 bbl/d (132,725 bbl/d and 107,140 bbl/d, respectively). They survived intact the war of aggression against the Syrians, and this is going to be very important for the future of Syria. The two refineries are using imported oil at the moment, mostly from Russia and Iran. 
 
 
Photo arquive: Baniyas Refinery
 
 
Photo arquive: Homs Refinery
 
 
It is clear that the liberation of all of Deir El-Zor’s oil fields will be vital for Syria’s recovery in 2018-2019 and will help bring new revenues from exports and most likely billions of Rubles, Dinars and Yuans in new construction projects and re-develpment of infrastructure.
In the next weeks the SAA and allies will be approaching the critical point when they will have to storm Deir El-Zor City and cross the Euphrates.  This will be a game changer for the economy of Syria and long-awaited endgame for ISIS.
 

Read more at https://syrianperspective.com/2017/08/syrias-energy-industry-revival.html#DEAbvh258XM2hx0L.99

THE END OF ISIS IS NEARING; RUSSIAN BOMBERS STRIKE LETHAL BLOW NEAR DZ – By Ziad Fadel

PRESIDENTALASSADSYRIA

DAYR EL-ZOR:  I had a beautiful photo showing the devastation wrought by a series of Russian Air Force sorties over a large convoy of ISIS vultures heading from Al-Mayaadeen to Dayr El-Zor City, but, as always, technical problems prevented me from pasting it.  In any case, the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced what amounts to an aerial ambush sprung by the RuAF killing a minimum of 200 ISIS weasels with hundreds reportedly wounded and 20 pickups armed with 23mm cannons destroyed and one lowly tank turned into so much base metal.  This could be the turning point for the doomed Caliphate as more and more of its members sneak out of positions or defect to other groups.  How the mighty have fallen.

The ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorists must sense today that God does not support them or he would have turned the tide against their enemies a long time ago.  They must also know that their leaders were just mini-Hitlers who, having swept away the Iraqi Army early on in the war to establish their counterfeit Caliphate, wound up turning their every fortified citadel into one Berlin after another.  Without allies to pay salaries – their allies having nearly gone broke – the average terrorist thug despairs at his future and the utopian world he dreamed of inhabiting with his noisome, shabby family.  It’s over now – completely over.

As Canthama wrote in the Comments section the day before yesterday, the ISIS position in Lebanon is becoming increasingly desperate.  Nobody is resupplying.  Nobody is paying salaries.  Supporters in Lebanon among the militant Sunnis of Tripoli or Sidon have all figured out that God is not on the side of the jihadists.  That was a fantasy.  And there is no sensible way to resupply the besieged vultures anyways since all roads have been closed by the Lebanese Army.

All that’s left are American dreams of a foothold in Syria.  The dream of two rump states blocking Iranian projections of power has fizzled.  All that’s left is an unsatisfying Kurdish state north of the Baghdad-Damascus Highway.  The army the U.S. was training at Al-Tanf has started to dissolve – no more salaries, no more guns……back to the camps.

 

 

 

 

 

Read more at https://syrianperspective.com/2017/08/the-end-of-isis-is-nearing-russian-bombers-strike-lethal-blow-near-dz.html#moptmTaMokmhMa5B.99

QATARI-SUPPORTED TERRORISTS LOSE GROUND TO SAA IN DAMASCUS; ISIS FALLING APART EVERYWHERE – By Ziad Fadel

SYRIANFORALLSYRIANS

Qatar continues to use its vast stores of money to sponsor terrorism in Syria.  It is, therefore, hard to understand why Iran has not been able to convince the derelicts in Doha to stop their insane and self-destructive policies aimed at “regime change” in Damascus.  With the Saudis leading a coalition of Gulf countries-cum-Egypt that aims to end Qatari connivance with Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood,  one would think that Iran could exploit Qatar’s isolation to bring it around to a more rational pattern of behavior.

Turkey’s rapid move to assist Qatar paralleled Iran’s maneuver to frustrate Saudi Arabia, its chief nemesis in the Gulf.  Turkey is led by a card-carrying MB member, Erdoghan, who jealously protects the interests of Sunni fundamentalist anti-primogeniture movements like the MB, a position not terribly unlike Iran’s anti-royalist attitudes.  But, that’ where all the similarities end.  Iran is committed to a full liberation of Palestine while the Turks are lingering in a world of Zionist appeasement.  Iran is working toward building a Shi’ite Crescent across the northern Near East while Turkey is planning to annex whole parts of it in an effort to interdict Kurkish plans for a new republic on its southern border.

This all makes for great subject matter for rap sessions in college on the weekends.  However, it also represents an intractable problem for those trying to end the carnage in both Syria and Iraq.

Witness events in the South-Eastern Ghoutaa.  Yesterday, the Qatari-funded and armed “Faylaq Al-Rahmaan” initiated a large-scale assault on SAA positions in the area of Waadi ‘Ayn Turma.  The major assault concentrated on the villages of Al-Muhammadiyya and Aftarees and in the area of Al-Lahma Company.  The terrorists came at Syrian soldiers with new TOW anti-tank missile launchers acquired by the terrorist group through MOK, or the formerly U.S.-led terrorist supporting command-control HQ in Jordan.  Their operation was called “Wa Laa Tahzanoo” or “And don’t be sad”, if you can believe it.  ولا تحزنوا

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=33.507407&lon=36.392040&z=14&m=b&search=syria

The TOWs have been rendered useless by Syria’s own domestically developed Saraab 1 Interception Device now found on all SAA tanks.  The device sends out signals to the anti-tank rockets toppling them from their course.  It has had a revolutionary effect on SAA combat operations all over the country.  And, now, with the U.S. backing off its support for all terrorist groups, coupled with Saudi Arabia’s shift in policy over Syria, the terrorists are finding the combat conditions increasingly perilous.  And so, yesterday, Faylaq Al-Rahmaan lost 29 of its rodents with over 120 wounded, some critically.

With terrorists complaining openly about the way the attack was conducted, there is chatter being picked up indicating a complete breakdown in confidence in the group’s leader, ‘Abdul-Naasser Shameer,  a former captain in the Syrian Army who deserted and joined the terrorism inflicted upon Syria sometime in 2012.  Moreover, Faylaq Al-Rahmaan is not a part of the “De-Escalation Agreements” worked out in Astana, Kazakhstan, or by Messrs. Putin and Trump during their tete-a-tete at the last G-20 Summit.

As we wrote before, U.S. CIA terrorist-enablers are leaving the sinking ship, taking back trays of Baklava and souvenir backgammon tables manufactured in Damascus.  What is left behind is a skeleton crew of “independent contractors”, mostly former spooks and mid-level retired army officers who receive their paychecks from Qatar.  This will not augur well for the remnant terrorist groups in the Ghoutaa.  Especially since the Syrian Army has now eradicated the ISIS presence in Al-Suwaydaa` leaving close to 15,000 troops free to return to the Damascus Front with thousands of Iranian-trained volunteers to keep Al-Suwaydaa` Ratten-Rein.

I frankly believe that the operation at Waadi ‘Ayn Turma was meant to please the Qataris – to keep the Qatari money flowing by showing that the group was still operational.  In looking at the way the group carried out its mission, it would seem it had no distinct purpose other than to kill as many SAA soldiers as possible.  As it turned out, no Syrian soldiers were killed in the fighting.  This is probably due to the air force response at key locations which blunted the assault and forced the terrorist rats to cede over more territory in the farm areas to the advancing Syrian Army.  Once can see why the leader of Faylaq Al-Rahmaan might be heading for the chopping block very soon.

ISIS is in even worse shape.  The SAAF pounded them into mush in the Qalamoon area, specifically at Al-Hasheeshaat Heights, Al-Jaraajeer, Qaarra foothills, Meera Crossing, Martabiyya and Shumays where command-control centers were destroyed.  ISIS took a big hit too in Hama, where the SAA liberated all hilltops around the town of Salba.  One would think that somebody in that group could read the handwriting on the walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more at https://syrianperspective.com/2017/08/qatari-supported-terrorists-lose-ground-to-saa-in-damascus-isis-falling-apart-everywhere.html#s1lcCRmoSwLEpPvY.99

When Washington Decides Democracy Is Dangerous: Stoking Opposition In Venezuela And Syria – By Ramiro S. Fúnez

The opposition “movements” in Venezuela and Syria have a great deal in common: both are seeking the demise of democratically-elected governments; both resort to violence and acts of terrorism; both are tools of U.S. and Western imperialism, and both are failing.

A Venezuelan protester holds a poster that reads in Spanish "Against Imperialist aggression, respect Venezuela" during a protest outside the National Assembly in Caracas Venezuela. (AP/Howard Yanes)

QUITO (Analysis)– If you’ve been following international news in recent years, you know that two countries, in particular, have served as punching bags for establishment pundits: Venezuela and Syria.

Sure, other countries on mainstream media’s target list — including Russia, China, Cuba, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — have also been persistently bombarded with hit pieces. But then these sovereign nations have always been under attack since declaring their independence from Washington’s imperialist grip.

What distinguishes recent corporate news attacks against Venezuela and Syria from media treatment of the countries mentioned above, however, is the role of their respective Western-backed opposition “movements.” Claiming to fight for “democracy” and “freedom,” protesters from both countries have participated in violent actions aimed at overthrowing their democratically-elected governments — Venezuela since 2014 and Syria since 2011.

 
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This hasn’t been the case, at least in recent years, in Russia, China, Cuba, Iran and the DPRK.

In Venezuela, right-wing opposition groups have attempted to topple the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro and the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela. They hope to follow the path of Brazil and Argentina, where social programs for the poor have been slashed and neoliberal austerity reigns.

In Syria, Wahhabi-aligned opposition groups have waged relentless war against President Bashar al-Assad and the incumbent Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. They hope to follow the path of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where the rights of religious minorities have been stripped and Western-imposed sectarianism presides.

Though seemingly different in appearance, opposition groups in Venezuela and Syria are much alike in essence. Consider the following four examples of their similarity.

 

Syrian & Venezuelan opposition both blindly unquestioned by Western media

Not a day goes by when corporate news outlets don’t echo the indictments of Venezuelan and Syrian opposition members who claim their governments are “authoritarian regimes.”

A screenshot of a CNN May 6, 2017 report covering opposition protests in Venezuela.

Not only do these publications intentionally ignore the fact that the Venezuelan and Syrian governments were legitimately chosen to lead their nations in internationally recognized elections; they also unquestionably uphold the political positions of the opposition groups as the general sentiment of the entire country, failing to mention that a majority of citizens oppose their violence.

In Venezuela, for example, Maduro fairly defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles during the 2013 presidential election, which U.S. election observer Daniel Kovalik described as “transparent, inherently reliable, well-run and thoroughly audited.” Almost 80 percent of the country’s population participated. Moreover, a May 2017 survey, conducted by Monitor Pais and published by polling firm Hinterlaces, revealed that almost two-thirds of Venezuelans reject opposition protest violence.

And in Syria, Assad resoundingly defeated presidential candidate Hassan al-Nouri during the 2014 presidential election, which several international observers also confirmed was transparent and legitimate. The Baathist leader received 88.7 percent of votes. Over 73 percent of the country’s population participated, along with millions of Syrian refugees around the world.

Firyal Sheikh El-Zour, 50, draws blood from her thumb with a syringe to use to mark a ballot, in Damascus, Syria, June 3, 2014. (AP/Dusan Vranic)

A poll conducted a year later by ORB International found that 47 percent of Syrians believed that Assad had a positive influence in Syria, compared to 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and 26 percent for the Syrian Opposition Coalition, according to analyst Stephen Gowans.

The FSA is a Syrian militant group that claims to be the “armed wing” of the country’s Western-backed opposition. It was formed in 2011 by renegade members of the Syrian Arab Army. The FSA has frequently been accused of supporting Daesh and other Wahhabi terrorist groups.

Yet Venezuelan and Syrian opposition claims that these elections and poll results were “rigged” are uncritically regurgitated by mainstream media, serving the interests of their imperialist overlords in the Global North who seek regime change.

 

Doing the dirty work of Washington and Wall Street

Contrary to popular belief, Venezuelan and Syrian opposition leaders are not impoverished, working-class activists who act on their own will. They are well-funded saboteurs armed and trained by bureaucrats in Washington and their wealthy handlers on Wall Street.

Let’s start with Venezuela.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Marco Rubio meet with Lillian Tintori, wife of US-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. (White House Photo)

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of State has allocated at least $49 million to the South American country’s right-wing opposition, according to publicly-available budget documents released by the State Department.

Washington has claimed the funds support “democracy practitioners” and help “efforts to preserve and expand democratic space through programs that strengthen and promote civil society, citizen participation, independent media, human rights organizations, and democratic political parties.”

Yet almost all of those funds have gone directly to opposition parties like Primero Justicia (Justice First) and Voluntad Popular (Popular Will), both of which helped organized violent protests that resulted in the deaths of at least 43 people in 2014 and 124 people this year.

Now, Syria.

Senator John McCain in Syria with members of the U.S.-backed rebel group Northern Storm.

Four years ago, former U.S. President Barack Obama secretly began funding Wahhabi-linked Syrian opposition militants, whom he described as “moderate rebels.” The allocation of funds, which Obama claimed would be used to “degrade and destroy” the Daesh terrorist group (ISIS), didn’t become public until 2014, when the U.S. Congress gave final approval to train and arm the FSA.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, ironically one of many mainstream media publications that blindly supported the so-called Syrian “revolution,” the United States has spent over $500 million on financing the opposition since Obama took office in 2009.

WikiLeaks, however, reported that Washington has financed Syrian opposition members and institutions since 2006 under former President George W. Bush.

 

Syrian & Venezuelan opposition both engage in terrorism

Perhaps one of the most striking similarities between the Venezuelan and Syrian opposition, and an inconvenient truth for their apologists, is their use of terrorist acts. These acts, intended to strike fear in the minds of those who oppose their interventionist agendas, are rarely reported in corporate news outlets.

Not only has the Venezuelan opposition utilized “guarimbas,” or street blockades created with ignited trash, to wreak havoc in cities across the country; they have also torched public buses, incinerated tons of government-subsidized food intended for hungry citizens, launched grenades over government buildings, attacked hospitals and nurseries, and, perhaps most disturbingly, immolated supporters of the socialist government.

A protester wearing a gas mask and carrying a golf club walks to join fellow protesters, past a burning public transportation bus in Caracas, Venezuela, May 13, 2017. The anti-government protest movement that has drawn masses of people into the streets nearly every day since March, continued on Saturday. (AP/Fernando Llano)

The last example is epitomized by the case of Orlando Figueroa, a 21-year-old Afro-Venezuelan who was drenched in gasoline and lit on fire on May 20 by a white Venezuelan opposition protester for “being Chavista.” Enzo Franchini Oliveros, identified as Figueroa’s murderer, was assisted by other demonstrators who have not yet been detained.

Figueroa, who worked as a parking attendant and came from humble working-class roots, died several days later. At least 23 people have been burned alive by opposition protesters, according to Red58.org, a Venezuelan watchdog media group that exposes right-wing violence.


Related | What The Media Isn’t Telling You About Opposition Leaders In Venezuela


Similar terrorist tactics have also been used in Syria by the Wahhabi-linked militants. Like their Venezuelan counterparts, Syrian opposition protesters have torched public infrastructure and killed civilians accused of “being Assadists.” Their violent military campaigns against pro-government, anti-imperialist citizens have also claimed hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.

Two terrorist acts committed by the Syrian opposition, however, stand out as the most gruesome.

The first involved Abu Sakkar, a former FSA fighter who cut out the heart of a fallen Syrian Arab Army soldier in 2013 and ate it in front of other “moderate rebels.” The incident was recorded on video. The second involved members of the U.S.-funded terrorist group Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, which beheaded a young child near Aleppo in 2016. This act was also recorded on video.

US backed Al-Zenki Syriab rebels display a captured 10 year-old boy shortly before he is decapitated.

These incidents, to the discomfort of pro-imperialist liberals who defend these criminals as “freedom fighters” and “revolutionaries,” demonstrate that both the Venezuelan and Syrian opposition commit acts of terrorism that are largely overlooked.

 

Withering opposition movements

For years, Washington and its propagandists in mainstream media have predicted that Maduro and Assad will eventually be forced out of power through “democratic uprisings” in both countries. This delusional fantasy has yet to come true.

Instead, confident forecasts that both leaders “will step down” have mutated into hopeful suggestions that “they should step down.” U.S. media pundits and policymakers alike remain baffled at the fact that Obama left office before Maduro and Assad did.

What’s the reason for this? It’s not because they have “consolidated their grip on power,” as both liberals and conservatives characterize it. Rather, it’s because millions of Venezuelans and Syrians have recognized that U.S. intervention does not offer them a future. All one needs to do is take a look at Iraq and Afghanistan, which the United States has left in ruins by supporting “pro-democracy efforts.”

An image of President Barack Obama wearing fake ears and the slogan "Obama go home" on a street wall in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro regularly sets social media afire with support, with heavily trending anti-U.S. campaigns such #ObamaYankeeGoHome and #ObamaRepealTheExecutiveOrder, which denounced U.S. sanctions on members of Maduro’s administration. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

Citizens of both Venezuela and Syria have affirmed that they — not bureaucrats in Washington or wealthy elites on Wall Street — will be the molders of their own destiny.

In Venezuela, for example, over eight million people participated in the country’s July 30 National Constituent Assembly vote, electing 545 candidates to help rewrite the Constitution. The democratic process, which was undertaken and implemented in accordance with the country’s laws, is intended to bring together broad sectors of society in order to secure peace and stability.

Since the National Constituent Assembly vote took place, opposition leaders have remained divided on whether to participate in upcoming regional elections. Opposition protests have also lost popularity among swaths of citizens who are tired of violence and yearn for peace and stability.

And in Syria, Assad’s government has successfully liberated dozens of Daesh and rebel-held areas that had been living under the gun for years. The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party has also been able to restore electricity, running water and other important infrastructure in areas that were previously destroyed by the Syrian opposition and Saudi-backed terrorists.

With help from Russia and Iran, Syria has also been able to create four safe zones across the country, which serve as an important first step toward re-establishing peace and unity in the Middle Eastern nation.

What remains clear is this: the Venezuelan and Syrian oppositions, which were born together as twin faces of modern imperialism, are also destined to wither away alongside one another.

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