Trump’s Drastic Cuts to UNRWA Spell More Poverty, Hopelessness, and Radicalization in Palestine – By Hisham H. Ahmed, Ph.D (MINT PRESS)

In an attempt to pressure the Palestinian people to accept his “deal of the century,” Trump decided to drastically cut the annual U.S. contribution to UNRWA from abut $350 million to $65 million and pressured other countries, including Britain and Australia, to reduce their contributions as well.

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees, was established in December 1949 by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 to address the basic humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who became refugees in the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948.

As its name reveals, UNRWA’s mission was centered on providing relief rations, basic healthcare, education and employment opportunities for the refugees who lost all of their livelihood. Underlying UNRWA’s establishment was the goal to integrate refugees into the neighboring Arab host countries, so as to diffuse tensions and promote regional peace and stability.

Motivated by political objectives, the United States and Britain have been the biggest contributors to UNRWA’s budget. This has remained the case until recently when U.S. President Donald Trump announced in February of this year his decision to drastically cut U.S. contributions to UNRWA. Over the years, these two big powers saw in this humanitarian agency an effective vehicle for containing frustration and despair among the refugees.

 

Indeed, in spite of some of its shortcomings, UNRWA has been able to provide badly needed services, particularly for destitute refugee families. UNRWA became an important apparatus of employment for many skilled refugees.

Until it began in the past few years to introduce reductions in its services, UNRWA’s schools once provided the best education to be had in their communities, employing the most talented Palestinian teachers and graduating very successful students who excelled in various fields of knowledge and expertise.

School girls listen to Mr. Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, during the launch of a global campaign to support UNRWA, at the UNRWA Rimal Girls Preparatory School in Gaza. Adel Hana | AP

In an attempt to pressure the Palestinian people to accept his “deal of the century,” Trump decided to drastically cut the annual U.S. contribution to UNRWA from about $350 million to $65 million and, against all advice from his former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, he pressured some other countries, including Britain and Australia, to reduce their contributions as well.

 

The first impact of Trump’s drastic cuts

UNRWA, which had already been struggling financially to meet its increasing demands, owing to the influx of more Palestinian refugees as a result of the Syrian crisis, found its operations severely hampered at a most critical time for so many Palestinian refugees. Supposedly compelled by the financial constraints, UNRWA recently decided to further shrink most of its modest services. Then, more worrisome for the refugees, it dismissed more than 1,000 Palestinian refugee employees from work in the Gaza, which has been lingering under siege for about 12 years.

Gaza, where unemployment has exceeded 80 percent, is considered one of the most troubled places on earth for human survival. Due to the tight siege, clean water is very scarce; Gazans get fewer than four hours of electricity per day; and the healthcare system has practically crumbled, as medical supplies are not coming in. On the whole, people are tormented by, on the one hand,  the ongoing contest of powers between Hamas, which has unilaterally controlled the strip since 2007, and the Palestinian Authority, and, on the other, the Israeli occupation that dominates the airspace and sea as well as all entry points by land.

A Palestinian employee sits during a protest at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza City, July 25, 2018. UNWRA staff are protesting the agency's decision to fire dozens of Palestinian staff in Gaza in the Gaza Strip. Khalil Hamra | AP

UNRWA’s decision, which seems to be the product of financial considerations, is nonetheless interpreted by many Palestinians as a politically-motivated move, owing to its timing and place of execution. Palestinians maintain that of all places where UNRWA operates, Gaza cannot be the first where such severe austerity measures should be introduced. The agony in the Gaza Strip is incalculable, especially as people have endured three wars with Israel in the past decade alone.

The new measures by UNRWA fell like a thunderbolt on refugee employees who have been dismissed, as no other opportunities for employment are available. Such measures led one of the dismissed employees, caught in despair and anguish, to try to set himself on fire in protest. Employees whose jobs were terminated have carried out an open-ended hunger strike with their families inside UNRWA headquarters.

 

Hopelessness and frustration: the breeding ground for extremism

Especially in a troubled area like the Middle East, the many crises that have developed over the years have contributed to the deepening of extremist tendencies among some groups and organizations.

By all accounts, the displacement of many refugees in the most recent conflicts during the past few years has widened the base of radicalization in the region. Radicalization becomes inevitable during times of total despair and profound frustration unless alternative creative, innovative solutions are introduced — i.e., unless some robust, systematic international programs of aid to alleviate the suffering of the refugees and to replace despair with hope are instituted.

In essence, radicalization of individuals can be viewed as a factor that leads to abnormalizing the behavior of those who fall victims to this tendency. More broadly, when radicalization spreads in a group or community, it can deform the social structure and lead to behavior that lacks balance — this may be called “the imbalancing” of communities. Creative and innovative policies are required to tackle the underlying root causes of radicalization.

Palestinian children sit next to hanged clothes, on the First day of Eid al-Fitr in a United Nations school where dozens of families have sought refuge after fleeing their homes in fear of Israeli airstrikes, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip. A U.N. inquiry has found that at least 44 Palestinians were killed and at least 227 injured by "Israeli actions" while sheltering at U.N. locations during last year's Gaza war. Secretary Ban Ki-moon said Monday, April 27, 2015, he deplores the deaths and calls U.N. locations "inviolable."

UNRWA’s measures of cutting its services and dismissing close to 10 percent of its Palestinian workforce in Gaza are bound to hamper the educational process for hundreds of thousands of students, especially as other Palestinian employees in other locations feel quite vulnerable and may, as a result, resort to protesting such measures. In effect, the learning process of Palestinian students will be impacted and their educational rights violated.

The implications of violating the educational rights of refugees cannot be overlooked. Radicalization usually finds its way among disgruntled and frustrated young people, those who believe that their future offers them nothing more than despair and anguish. The Gaza Strip has been in a state of war and under total siege for many years — thus, to begin with, services are limited if provided at all. Dismissing of employees in the thousands by the organization in whose name and for whom it was created adds insult to injury, as it threatens the very livelihood of tens of thousands of people, when accounting for the members of the families of those who are dismissed and whom they support.

 

An impact that rolls on into a darkened future

Wars, especially when compounded by chronic despair and frustration, usually affect societies both in the present and the future: while present effects might be measurable, those that might occur in the future are often accompanied by surprise. With the continuation of such measures by UNRWA, entire generations may be expected to be kept without formal education. These may be easily subjected to some kind of informal, unstructured education — i.e., indoctrination and radicalized mobilization by a number of organizations that generally thrive in an environment of chaos and anarchy.

Some scholars have studied the interplay between radicalization and feelings of deprivation. For example, Fathali M. Moghaddam (2005) has stressed the need for education to nurture feelings of tolerance and equality among different groups. Ervin Staub (2007) has focused on preventive measures against radicalization, mainly through teaching, learning and education. More recently, however, Kartika Bhatia and Hafez Ghanem (2017) drew the link between the decline in education, rise of unemployment and empowerment of radicalization.

By writing this article, the author hopes to shed light on such an important underlying problem faced by Palestinian refugees. Coming to terms with this problem now, policy-makers and strategists can avert crucial problems in the future, mainly the deepening of frustration and the potential rise of radicalization in the region.

School girls look while pass the house morning of Mohammed Ayyoub, 14, who was killed by Israeli soldiers during a protest on Gaza's border with Israel, east of Jebaliya,, April 21, 2018. Adel Hana | AP

The recent waves of hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding a number of European countries could have been averted with sound, foresighted policies. In writing this article, the author is motivated by the sense of urgency to highlight the ramifications of the ferocious assault of displacement on the rights of the refugees, particularly those pertaining to education. At the same time, the author is also motivated by his own background as a Palestinian refugee who was born and grew up in a refugee camp, Dheisheh near Bethlehem: every time I read about the plight and the agony of new refugees, I cannot help reflecting on my own upbringing and observation of the effect of deprivation on the lives of so many people around me.

Palestinian refugees have been subjected to serious injustice everywhere they went. UNRWA’s recent measures of reducing the already modest services it provides to the refugees, and its termination of thousands of jobs solely for Palestinian employees, raise a number of compelling moral and legal questions. The international community is responsible for the catastrophe endured by Palestinians. Thus, even if the United States under Trump resorts to punitive financial measures to achieve political ends, the world community should not allow UNRWA to crumble. Cutting services and dismissing Palestinian employees from their jobs is not the answer, nor is it the solution to the worsening financial problem.

 

Constructive reforms, not drastic and destructive cuts, are needed

A comprehensive assessment of UNRWA’s structure needs to be carried out, as its bureaucracy has massively expanded. It is a well-documented fact that the average salary of a foreign employee in UNRWA is about 10 times that of a Palestinian employee. UNRWA was created to serve Palestinian refugees and to employ them, as its mandate stipulates.

Attempts by the U.S. Congress to redefine the refugee status for Palestinians — i.e., to exclude all descendants from the current UNRWA definition of Palestinian refugees — aim at liquidating the problem of those refugees in time by dissolving UNRWA. The specific goal is to limit the definition to fewer than 40,000 Palestinian refugees, rather than the current 5.3 million. The calculation is that even the new limited number will further shrink, as elderly refugees will die and the definition will not apply to their descendants.

This can only exacerbate the already fragile security environment in the Middle East. Such attempts stem from many concerted efforts by Israel and its lobbying groups in the U.S. to influence American decision-makers. For example, in its annual conference in the last week of July, CUFI, Christians United For Israel in the United States, an organization that has become synonymous with AIPAC, lobbied members of Congress for redefining the status of Palestinian refugees. This is quite short-sighted, as it completely evades the political, legal and humanitarian consequences of this action. From a cost-benefit analysis, securing the necessary funds for UNRWA to maintain its operations, and actually to enhance them, is less costly than having to deal with increasing instability, deepening frustration and the resultant growing radicalization.

The High Commissioner of UNRWA, Pierre Krahenbuhl, has reflected an excellent understanding of the potential ramifications of cutting services and terminating jobs for Palestinian refugees. In a number of interviews he gave to the media, especially after Trump announced that he will be reducing U.S. contributions to UNRWA’s budget, Krahenbuhl clearly spoke of the impending radicalization among young refugees. Therefore, it is inconceivable to allow the dissolution of UNRWA to happen under his supervision. This stands in total contradiction with the reputable record he has.

With a comprehensive assessment, serious reform, and reliance on more skilled Palestinian expertise, UNRWA can be enabled to cross this threshold and continue to fulfill its humanitarian mission. Sadly, the Palestinian problem is not over, and no just settlement for the refugees has been achieved. Therefore, the outcry of Palestinian refugees should be heard at the highest level of decision-making in the UN, including that of the office of the Secretary-General himself, Antonio Guterres.

This is the time to heed the call for human justice and dignity for Palestine’s refugees. This is the time when perspicacity should override narrow political considerations. This is the time to prevent more seeds of radicalization from being planted.

Top Photo | A wall painting made by Palestinian employees is seen at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza City. July 25,2018. UNWRA staff were protesting the agency’s decision to fire dozens of Palestinian staff in Gaza in the Gaza Strip. Khalil Hamra | AP

Hisham H. Ahmed, Ph.D. was Chair of the Academic Senate and Chair of the Politics Department at Saint Mary’s College of California, he was a Fulbright scholar in Palestine, where he wrote his book: From Religious Salvation to political transformation: the rise of Hamas in Palestinian Society. Ahmed is the author of numerous studies dealing with the Middle East. Ahmed is frequently called upon by the local and international media for analyses of various political issues pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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The reasons why confronting Israel is important – By Philip Giraldi The Unz Review – (SOTT)

NetanyahuCongress

© Unknown
Netanyahu and US Congress

The Jewish state is no friend.

I am often asked why I have this “thing” about Israel, with friends suggesting that I would be much more respected as a pundit if I were to instead concentrate on national security and political corruption. The problem with that formulation is that the so-called “special relationship” with Israel is itself the result of terrible national security and foreign policy choices that is sustained by pervasive political and media corruption, so any honest attempt to examine the one inevitably leads to the other. Most talking heads in the media avoid that dilemma by choosing to completely ignore the dark side of Israel.

Israel – not Russia – is the one foreign country that can interfere with impunity with the political processes in the United States yet it is immune from criticism. It is also the single most significant threat to genuine national security as it and its powerful domestic lobby have been major advocates for the continuation of America’s interventionist warfare state. The decision to go to war on false pretenses against Iraq, largely promoted by a cabal of prominent American Jews in the Pentagon and in the media, killed 4,424 Americans as well as hundreds of thousands Iraqis and will wind up costing the American taxpayer $7 trillion dollars when all the bills are paid. That same group of mostly Jewish neocons more-or-less is now agitating to go to war with Iran using a game plan for escalation prepared by Israel which will, if anything, prove even more catastrophic.

And I can go on from there. According to the FBI, Israel runs the most aggressive spying operations against the U.S. among ostensibly “friendly” nations, frequently stealing our military technology for resale by its own arms merchants. Its notable successes in espionage have included the most devastating spy in U.S. history Jonathan Pollard, while it has also penetrated American communications systems and illegally obtained both the fuel and the triggers for its own secret nuclear weapons arsenal.

Israel cares little for American sovereignty. It’s prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu have both boasted how they control the United States. In 2001, Israel was running a massive secret spying operation directed against Arabs in the U.S. Many in the intelligence and law enforcement communities suspect that it had considerable prior intelligence regarding the 9/11 plot but did not share it with Washington. There was the spectacle of the “dancing Shlomos,” Israeli “movers” from a company in New Jersey who apparently had advanced knowledge of the terrorist attack and danced and celebrated as they watched the Twin Towers go down.

Comment: 9/11 is the Israeli leverage on America that keeps on giving. It shares secrets being kept from the US public about this horrific event.

Jewish power, both in terms of money and of access to people and mechanisms that really matter, is what allows Israel to act with impunity, making the United States both poorer and more insecure. A well-funded massive lobbying effort involving hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals in the U.S. has worked to the detriment of actual American interests, in part by creating a permanent annual gift of billions of dollars to Israel for no other reason but that it is Israel and can get anything it wants from a servile Congress and White House without any objection from a controlled media.

Israel has also obtained carte blanche political protection from the U.S. in fora like the United Nations, which is damaging to America’s reputation and its actual interests. This protection now extends to the basing of U.S. troops in Israel to serve as a tripwire, guaranteeing that Washington will become involved if Israel is ever attacked or even if Israel itself starts a war. The current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is little more than a shill for Israel while America’s Ambassador in Israel David Friedman is an open supporter of Israel’s illegal settlements, which the U.S. opposes, who spends much of his time defending Israeli war crimes.

And here on the home front Israel is doing damage that might be viewed as even more grave in Senator Ben Cardin’s attempt to destroy First Amendment rights by making any criticism of Israel illegal. The non-violent Israel Boycott movement (BDS) has already been sanctioned in many states, the result of intensive and successful lobbying by the Israeli government and its powerful friends.

So if there is a real enemy of the United States in terms of the actual damage being inflicted by a foreign power, it is Israel. In the recent Russiagate investigations it was revealed that it was Israel, not Russia, that sought favors from Michael Flynn and the incoming Trump Administration yet Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidently not chosen to go down that road with his investigations, which should surprise no one.

Noam Chomsky, iconic progressive intellectual, has finally come around on the issue of Israel and what it means. He has always argued somewhat incoherently that Israeli misbehavior has been due to its role as a tool of American imperialism and capitalism. At age 89, he has finally figured out that it is actually all about what a parasitic Israel wants without any regard for its American host, observing on Democracy Now that

…take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done… I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies – what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015….

Politicians are terrified of crossing the Jewish lobby by saying anything negative about Israel, which means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always gets a pass from the American government, even when he starves civilians and bombs hospitals and schools. Netanyahu uses snipers to shoot dead scores of unarmed demonstrators and the snipers themselves joke about their kills without a peep from Washington, which styles itself the “leader of the free world.”

Just recently, Israel has declared itself a Jewish State with all that implies. To be sure, Israeli Christians and Muslims were already subject to a battery of laws and regulations that empowered Jews at their expense but now it is the guiding principle that Israel will be run for the benefit of Jews and Jews alone. And it still likes to call itself a “democracy.”

A recent television program illustrates just how far the subjugation of America’s elected leaders by Israel has gone. British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is featured on a new show called Who is America? in which he uses disguises and aliases to engage politicians and other luminaries in unscripted interviews that reveal just how ignorant or mendacious they actually are. Several recent episodes remind one of a February 2013 Saturday Night Live skit on the impending confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. A Senator asks Hagel. “It is vital to Israel’s security for you to go on national television and perform oral sex on a donkey… Would you do THAT for Israel?” A “yes” answer was, of course, expected from Hagel. The skit was never aired after objections from the usual suspects.

Baron Cohen, who confronted several GOP notables in the guise of Colonel Erran Morad, an Israeli security specialist, provided a number of clues that his interview was a sham but none of the victims were smart enough to pick up on them. Cohen, wearing an Israeli military uniform and calling himself a colonel, clearly displayed sergeant’s stripes. Hinting that he might actually be a Mossad agent, Cohen also sported a T-shirt on which the Hebrew text was printed backwards and he claimed that the Israeli spy agency’s motto was “if you want to win, show some skin.”

Cohen set up Dick Cheney by complimenting him on being the “the king of terrorist killers” before commenting that “my neighbor in Tel Aviv is in jail for murder, or, as we call it, enhanced tickling.” Morad went on to tell Cheney that he once waterboarded his wife to check for infidelity and then convinced the former Vice President to sign a “waterboarding kit” that “already had” the signatures of Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and Demi Lovato.

Another more spectacular sketch included a Georgia state senator Jason Spencer who was convinced to shout out the n-word as part of an alleged video being made to fight terrorism. After Cohen told Spencer that it was necessary to incite fear in homophobic jihadists, Spencer dropped his pants and underwear, before backing up with his exposed rear end while shouting “USA!” and “America!” Spencer also spoke with a phony Asian accent while simulating using a selfie-stick to secretly insert a camera phone inside a Muslim woman’s burqa.

In another series of encounters, Cohen as Morad managed to convince current and ex-Republican members of Congress – to include former Senate majority leader Trent Lott – to endorse a fictional Israeli program to arm grade school children for self-defense.

Cohen’s footage included a former Illinois congressman and talk radio host named Joe Walsh saying:

“The intensive three-week ‘Kinderguardian’ course introduces specially selected children from 12 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semiautomatics and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars. In less than a month – less than a month – a first-grader can become a first grenade-er.”

Both controversial Alabama judge Roy Moore and Walsh were fooled into meeting Cohen to attend a non-existent pro-Israel conference to accept an award for “significant contributions to the state of Israel.” Representative Dana Rohrabacher, meanwhile, also was interviewed and he commented that,

“Maybe having young people trained and understand how to defend themselves and their school might actually make us safer here.”

And Congressman Joe Wilson observed that

“A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a ‘Hello Kitty’ pencil case at it.”

Cohen’s performance is instructive. A man shows up in Israeli uniform, claims to be a terrorism expert or even a Mossad agent, and he gains access to powerful Americans who are willing to do anything he says. How Cohen did it says a lot about the reflexive and completely uncritical support for Israel that many American politicians – particularly Republicans – now embrace.

This, in a nutshell, is the damage that Israel and its Lobby have done to the United States. Israel is always right for many policymakers and even palpably phony Jews like Colonel Morad are instantly perceived as smarter than the rest of us so we’d better do what they say. That kind of thinking has brought us Iraq, Libya, Syria and the possibility of something far worse with Iran.

Israel routinely interferes in American politics and corrupts our institutions without any cost to itself and that is why I write and speak frequently regarding the danger to our Republic that it poses. It is past time to change the essentially phony narrative. Israel is nothing but trouble. It has the right to defend itself and protect its interests but that should not involve the United States. One can only hope that eventually a majority of my fellow American citizens will also figure things out. It might take a while, but the ruthless way Israel openly operates with no concern for anyone but itself provides a measure of optimism that that day is surely coming.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org.

Comment: With Congress, the president and intel agencies in its pocket, who is going to confront Israel?

See Also:

World moral authority? Exposing the US role in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen – By Tony Cartalucci (New Eastern Outlook) (SOTT)

mattis

As atrocities and scandal begin to mount regarding the US-backed Saudi-led war on the impoverished nation of Yemen, the involvement and hypocrisy of the United States and other Western backers is coming to full light.

Global condemnation of Saudi airstrikes on civilian targets has brought public attention to Washington’s role in the conflict – a role the Western media has attempted to downplay for years. It is ironic, or perhaps telling, that alternative media outlets targeted as “Russian influence” are leading coverage of Yemen’s growing humanitarian catastrophe.

US Denies Role in Proxy War That Couldn’t be Fought Without It

In a recent press conference, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis – when asked about the US role in the Yemeni conflict in regards to Saudi atrocities – would claim:

We are not engaged in the civil war. We will help to prevent, you know, the killing of innocent people.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Mattis himself would lobby US Congress earlier this year to continue US support for Saudi-led operations in Yemen.

A March 2018 Washington Post article titled, “Mattis asks Congress not to restrict US support for Saudi bombing in Yemen,” would admit:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a personal appeal to Congress on Wednesday not to restrict the United States’ support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, as the sponsors of a privileged resolution to end Washington’s involvement announced that the Senate would vote on the matter next week.

Support includes US intelligence gathering for Saudi operations, the sale of of US weapons to the Saudi regime, and even US aerial refueling for US-made Saudi warplanes dropping US-made munitions on Yemeni targets selected with the aid of US planners.

In essence, the US is all but directly fighting the “civil war” itself.

Abetting War Crimes, Sponsoring Terrorists to What End?

As to why the US believes it must continue supporting a proxy war Saudi Arabia is fighting on its behalf – beginning under US President Barack Obama and continuing in earnest under current US President Donald Trump – the Washington Post could conclude (emphasis added):

The war in Yemen has inspired much controversy in Congress, as lawmakers have questioned why the United States has involved itself so closely on the Saudi-backed side of a civil war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel forces. Successive presidential administrations have presented the campaign as a necessary component of the fight against terrorism and to preserve stability in the region. As Mattis put it in his letter to congressional leaders Wednesday, “withdrawing US support would embolden Iran to increase its support to the Houthis, enabling further ballistic missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and threatening vital shipping lanes in the Red Sea, thereby raising the risk of a regional conflict.”

However, Mattis, his colleagues, and his predecessors have categorically failed to explain how Iran constitutes a greater threat to either US or global security than Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a nation admittedly sponsoring Al-Qaeda worldwide, including in Yemen as revealed by a recent Associated Press investigation, and the nation which both radicalized the supposed perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York City and Washington D.C. and from which most of the supposed hijackers originated from.

If Iran is indeed waging war against Saudi Arabia and its terrorist proxies in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, the real question is – why isn’t the United States backing Tehran instead?

The obvious answer to this question reveals the crumbling moral authority of the United States as the principled facade it has used for decades falls away from its hegemony-driven agenda worldwide.

The US and its allies created the “War on Terror” and intentionally perpetuated it as a pretext to expand militarily around the globe in an attempt to preserve its post-Cold War primacy and prevent the rise of a multipolar alternative to its unipolar “international order.” It has done this not only at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives across the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, it has done it at the cost of trillions of taxpayers’ dollars and the lives of thousands of America’s own soldiers, sailors, aviators, and Marines.

Canada Too

A recent row between Canada and Saudi Arabia over supposed “human rights” concerns appears to be a vain attempt to salvage the credibility of at least some nations involved in the now 7 year long war – the last 3 years of which has seen direct military intervention by Saudi Arabia, its partners, and its backers – including Canada.

The Guardian in an article titled, “‘We don’t have a single friend’: Canada’s Saudi spat reveals country is alone,” attempts to portray Canada as taking a lone, principled stance against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia – abandoned even by Washington.

The article would claim:

The spat appeared to have been sparked last week when Canada’s foreign ministry expressed its concern over the arrest of Saudi civil society and women’s rights activists, in a tweet that echoed concerns previously voiced by the United Nations.

Saudi Arabia swiftly shot back, making plans to remove thousands of Saudi students and medical patients from Canada, and suspending the state airline’s flights to and from Canada, among other actions.

The Guardian would also claim:

…the US said it would remain on the sidelines while Saudi officials lashed out at Canada over its call to release jailed civil rights activists.

Canada’s feigned concern for “human rights” in Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the Canadian government continues approving of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms sales to Riyadh. This includes small arms and armored personnel carriers Saudi forces are using in their ongoing invasion and occupation of neighboring Yemen.

The feigned divide between Ottawa and Washington over Saudi human rights violations is overshadowed by years of commitment by both North American nations in propping up the Saudi regime, and aiding and abetting the very worst of Riyadh’s human rights abuses unfolding amid the Yemeni conflict.

Canada’s apparent role is to help compartmentalize the worst of the West’s decaying moral authority, containing it with the US, and taking up a more prominent role in the West’s industrialized “human rights” and “democracy” leveraging racket.

While Canadian armaments help fuel genocide in Yemen – Canadian diplomats around the world fund agitators and directly meddle in the internal political affairs of foreign nations predicated on promoting “human rights” and “democracy.”

In Thailand for example, the US has receded into the shadows, allowing Canada, the UK, and other European nations to openly engage in political meddling on their behalf. US funding and support continues, but the public face of Western “outrage” is increasingly becoming Canadian, British, and Northern European.

However, Canada faces the same problem that has permanently eroded American credibility. And as its role in perpetuating real human rights abuses worldwide continues to be exposed, its feigned concern over token or even manufactured human rights concerns will increasingly appear hypocritical and hollow, undermining the West’s collective ability to leverage and hide behind human rights and democracy to advance their self-serving agendas.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Comment: See also:

The Deal: Smelling a Rat, Arabs Sense a Coming Humiliation – By Alastair CROOKE (Strategic Culture Foundation)

 

 

The Deal: Smelling a Rat, Arabs Sense a Coming Humiliation

“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

What on earth does this tweet from President Trump – “I am asking for World Peace” – mean? It does not at all gel with NY businessman pragmatism: that he wants to diss Obama; or, that he wants to implode Iran in order to recover US energy dominance; or, that with Iran’s implosion, the hitherto obstructed path, would thus be cleared for all Sunni Arab states desirous of normalising and trading with Israel – so to do.

But the extravagant capitalisation of WORLD PEACE implies that Trump has some wider vision, behind this new American ‘war of choice’ on Iran. ‘WORLD PEACE’: It strongly suggests Trump leading us toward a definite destiny: not just for America, but for all humanity (‘no less’). It is an apocalyptic vision. (i.e. an event that implies something not bad, but rather that the implosion of Revolutionary Iran, somehow will bring human Salvation). 

The conviction that the crimes and follies of the past can be left behind in some all-encompassing transformation of human life is a secular reincarnation of early Christian beliefs. The very idea of ‘an event’ which transforms humanity and leads to ‘Salvation’ owes to religious conviction – in this case the Jewish apocalyptic current (of which Jesus was an adherent) that was assimilated into early Christianity.

Is this religious eruption Trump’s own? Or, did he absorb it from Ivanka’s conversion to Orthodox Judaism; or, has it emerged out from Trump and Pence’s Evangelical base?

We do not know. But once we move into the domain of human salvation, we need to re-calibrate our understanding of what is afoot here. We may need – when we try to understand Trump and Israel, in particular – to set aside the standard image of a hard-nosed, real-estate negotiator, and instead at least consider if there is religious impulse lurking here. Here, we must go to US [Evangelical] Pastor Robert Jeffress, who was specifically tasked by Trump and his family to travel to Jerusalem in order to Preside at the ceremony marking the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem for clues to what may lie behind Trump’s exotic tweet. Jeffress states:

“Jerusalem has been the object of the affection of both Jews and Christians down through history and [constitutes] the touchstone of prophecy [that God gave the Holy Land to the Jews in eternity];

Let us unpack and be a little clearer about the religiosity that lies behind Jeffress’ quite strong language: Dating from Exodus, Israel formed a separate, chosen people. In this way, through choosing his people, and with his Covenant, Yahweh constitutes them as a people. This boils down to saying that Israel will exist as people for only so long as it recognises Yahwey as its God. What is true for the people is true also for the land, for it is only in Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) that the Torah can be perfectly fulfilled – and conversely, Eretz Israel only has (religious) ‘meaning’ as long as the Torah is observed there. Hence the particularity of the Land – as of the people.

As we said, this was the voice elected by the Trump family to officiate at the Jerusalem ceremony. This choice signifies something, perhaps. Otherwise, as John Limbert, a retired professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the US Naval Academy and former deputy secretary for Iran (and an veteran of the US Embassy siege in Tehran) writes: nothing makes sense:

“What has President Trump done? Obsessed with Obama and a sucker for Israeli and Saudi flattery, he has rejected the idea that diplomacy might accomplish more with the Islamic Republic, than forty years of futile, mutual chest-beating.

He has chosen an approach that combines bullying, threats, accusations, and unrealistic demands, with an offer to talk. In doing so, Trump has led with his chin and given the Iranians a gift: the opportunity to say “no”, and defy a strong and threatening foreign power.

In Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s words of three decades ago still resonate. Asked about negotiating with the United States, he famously said, “Why should the sheep negotiate with the wolf?” In other words, the Americans have no interest in reaching an agreement with us: They want to eat us.

Trump has filled his administration with shills for the widely-hated Iranian dissident group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a Jonestown-like cult with a dubious past and a more dubious present … Iranians know that, as bad as the present regime is, MEK rule will be much worse—an Iranian version of the Khmer Rouge.

Trump has threatened to punish any country or company doing business with Iran and to stop Tehran from selling its crude oil. These tactics repeat those of the British during1951 – 1953 before they joined the CIA to stage a coup d’état to remove the nationalist Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Trump has issued an all-caps threat to annihilate millions of Iranians followed by an offer to talk with anyone, anywhere, anytime, without preconditions.

In the meantime, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has further muddled the message—whatever it is. In his recent speech to an Iranian-American audience in Los Angeles, Pompeo referred to Iran as “that country” and denounced the entire Islamic revolution, thus denigrating the sacrifices of millions of Iranians who fought and died to overthrow the monarchy and defend their country against Iraqi invaders. With such statements, his professions of respect for individual Iranians and for the country’s ancient culture lack any shred of sincerity”.”

Plainly a deeply frustrated and confused US Iran expert. (Perhaps that is in part owing to reading events from the standard secular, US foreign policy perspective.)

Professor Elizabeth Oldmixon however explains that for a subset of the US [Christian] evangelical community, “the status of Israel is really, really important because of the way they understand the end of time “. She continues: “When we talk about the Holy Land, God’s promise of the Holy Land, we’re talking about real estate on both sides of the Jordan River. So the sense of Greater Israel, and expansionism, is really important to this community. Jerusalem is just central to that. It’s viewed as a historical and biblical capital… These are the folks who believe that there will be a millennium in the future, a golden age, where Christ reigns on Earth, [and] they believe that before Christ will return, there will be a tribulation where Christ defeats evil.”

And how big is that subset? “Roughly a third of the American evangelical population, which is something like 15 million people.”

So, we have a triumvirate of US religious Orthodox envoys (all Trump family members, or former family retainers) – who are charged with the mission of ‘WORLD PEACE’. What can this possibly mean – when said so emphatically (all capitals) by Trump, and included within the context of his imposing ‘crushing’ sanctions on Iran – other than a desire finally to instantiate “the promised Holy Land, for the Jews” – and thus bring to a close the long running Middle East conflict? The theology also suggests that with Salvation, ‘peace’ will be established.

“There’s something that these Christians have in common with religious Zionists in Israel” Prof. Oldmixon adds, as something of a footnote – though it is crucial: “The founding generation in Israel was fairly secular. Their support for a Jewish state wasn’t about biblical prophecy. Religious Jews were always unhappy that the founding generation wasn’t really motivated by a religious understanding of the Jewish people in the world. That’s something that evangelicals in this country share. They support Israel for religious reasons.”

Well let’s look what’s actually happening? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a “defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the annals of the state of Israel”, when the Knesset enacted last month, a basic law [named – tellingly – ‘the nation-state law’], which specifies that “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people – in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious and historic right to self-determination.”

The law further enshrined religiously based differentiation, including a clause that points to priority for Jewish-only communities by declaring “the development of Jewish settlement as a national value” and promising “to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.”

The law has been a subject of controversy in Israel. It passed the Knesset by the narrow margin of 62 to 55. Opponents argue that it constitutes a step away from democracy and from equality of citizenship. However, just to be clear, the new basic law changes nothing – for now.

Differentiated political and legal rights already exists in Israel, and legal ways to create segregated communities in Israel also exist. There is no ‘right’ to equality, and Israel is not a state of all its citizens.

The point here is not so much the issue of discrimination which is occupying the media, but rather the shift from a secular state, as the original Zionists conceived it, to a state operating to a religious impulse. In a sense, Israel moves towards a constitution based on the first books of the Old Testament, which constitute the Torah. (Much in the way that Saudi Arabia simply asserts the Qur’an to be its constitution.)

So, in what way has the Trump family been acting? What does that tell us? Well, firstly, Trump has ‘gifted’ Jerusalem to Israel – the other prophetically mandatory element (apart from occupying all Eretz Israel), for the instantiation of a Jewish Holy Land. Kushner, meanwhile, has been working away to take the refugee status of 1948 Palestinians and their descendants, ‘off-the-table’, by proposing to subsidize recipient states to assimilate their Palestinian refugees, in loco. And Trump too has now committed to ‘undoing’ Iran, the ‘demon’ threatening the Jewish project, and has committed to publishing his Deal of the Century.

Of course we do not know what is in the ‘deal’, but Netanyahu has just slipped into place the legal framework (the Nation-State law) that might facilitate the present Israeli state becoming a ‘unitary’, religiously Jewish state. It cannot be a coincidence that this comes after the IDF recently informed the Knesset that the populations of Jews and non-Jews, between the River (Jordan) and the Sea (the Mediterranean) are now equal – at 6.5 million, each. The nation-state law effectively forecloses on the risk of political pluralism and equality of political rights.

Reports suggest that in Trump’s plan, the US acting alone might acknowledge a Palestinian state by declaration, but without specifying where situate, and with effectively no attributes of a state. A state ‘in name only’, in other words. No Jerusalem as its capital, and plainly no right of return for refugees – and no refugee status for the 1948 Palestinians (so-called because of their dispossession of homes in 1948); and likely no mention of settlements. (We understand that the Deal is currently in limbo, as religious parties in Netanyahu’s coalition want no mention of any Palestinian state at all – not even ‘in name only’).

White House officials say furthermore that if the Palestinians continue to refuse to engage with the plan, that the US will publish it anyway – which, effectively will be an invitation for the Israeli Religious Right to impose those parts that if favours (annexation of land in the West Bank, and further expansion under the rubric of consolidating Jewish communities – as per the Nation-State Act).

Well, it seems that the Arab world is waking up. It is dawning on them that The Deal of the Century will be as humiliating to their prestige – as was the outcome to the Six Day War. Has this been Trump’s objective all along: to instantiate a State of the Jews? Perhaps Limbert has it back to front? Rather than that the Saudis suckering Trump, Trump has been playing to the flaws in MbS’ character: drawing the Arabs into a project whose theological foundation and import they never grasped?

In any event, the wind is now blowing in another direction: King Salman has yanked the Palestinian file from out of the hands of MbS – and, after a year of secrecy surrounding the Deal, disquiet amongst Arab leaders is growing. Their acquiescence is no longer assured. They smell a rat.

The bottom line? Iran will not be crippled by sanctions, and whatever becomes of Trump’s Deal, an introverted, fortress Israel will find itself in a region in which the locus of politics is slowly, but surely, drifting towards the alliance of forces who prevailed in the epic struggle over Syria. Today it is Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey who are turning their face to the East. Tomorrow, when the Iran siege turns out to be a flop, and the Deal stands naked, it may be that parts of the Gulf (Dubai, Kuwait and Oman) will be drifting, together with Qatar, towards the Russia-China axis.

Ten Years After Georgia, NATO Still Pushes War – By Strategic Culture Foundation

Ten Years After Georgia, NATO Still Pushes War

On the tenth anniversary this week of the Russo-Georgian War, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a serious, albeit commonsensical, warning. He said the proposed membership of Georgia in the US-led NATO military alliance could result in a “horrible conflict”.

However, Western news media sought to portray Medvedev’s cautionary words as conveying a sinister intent. Britain’s Independent headlined: “Russia threatens [sic] ‘horrible’ conflict if Georgia joins NATO”.

Other news outlets, such as Reuters and Associated Press, did not go as far as using the word “threatens”. But their implied tone relaying Medvedev’s remarks was one of Russia flexing its muscles with intimidation towards the South Caucasus state.

That mischievous insinuation fits in with the wider Western narrative of Russia’s alleged “malign activity” and “threatening posture” towards Eastern European countries in the Baltic, Balkans and Ukraine.

Both the United States and European Union this week reiterated accusations that Russia was illegally occupying Georgian territory owing to Moscow’s support for the two breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which border with Georgia in the South Caucasus region.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the five-day war in August 2008, the foreign ministers from Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine’s Kiev regime were reportedly in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to demonstrate their solidarity over what they called “Russian aggression”.

Georgia is continually cited – along with Ukraine – by American and European politicians as two examples that purportedly prove Russian malfeasance, and thereby justify the relentless buildup of NATO forces along Russia’s Western flank. In other words, Georgia and Ukraine are cause célèbre for NATO’s existence, and for the American and European policy of sanctions against Russia.

Indeed, both Georgia and Ukraine have been cordially invited to join the NATO alliance. The fast-track invitation was reiterated at the NATO summit in Brussels last month where the two countries were hosted as guests of honor by the 29-member bloc.

Subsequently, following the NATO summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated Russia’s well-known opposition to such a further expansion of the US-led military alliance. The proposed additions of Ukraine and Georgia could potentially lead to the installation of American missiles and warplanes smack on Russia’s borders. Putin said that Russia would respond vigorously to such a move, although he did not specify what the “consequences” would entail.

Similarly, Dmitry Medvedev issued a warning this week regarding Georgia and NATO.

Nevertheless, Russia’s reasonable position of perceiving NATO’s expansion as an offensive threat is bizarrely distorted and turned on its head by Western governments and media.

By merely pointing out its grievance stemming from US-led military forces moving ever-closer to its national territory, astoundingly, Russia is portrayed in Western media as the one that is making the threats. It’s quite a feat of mental engineering.

If we listen to Medvedev’s words, he is patently not conveying any sinister intent, as Western media tried to make out.

“There is an unresolved territorial conflict… and would they bring such a country [Georgia] into the [NATO] military alliance?” said Medvedev. “Do they understand the possible implications? It could provoke a horrible conflict.” 

The Russian premier is simply stating what should be an obvious fact: namely, that NATO membership by Georgia in the midst of a territorial dispute with its pro-Russian neighbors, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, would lead to a dangerous conflict.

What Western governments and news media need to do is critically examine the whole premise of NATO’s eastwards expansion since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

That expansion violated commitments given by American leaders to Russian counterparts at the end of the Cold War, first by George Bush Senior and later Bill Clinton.

It is precisely the doubling membership of NATO based mainly on the absorption of former Soviet countries that has so alarmed Russia about military encirclement. Given the relentless anti-Russian rhetoric out of Washington and some of its European allies casting Russia as an enemy it is by no means alarmist that Moscow sees the entire trajectory over the past two decades as a strategic offensive.

Recall too that existential threats to Russia over the past two centuries have come from an eastward expansion of armies out of Europe, under Napoleon and then Nazi Germany. Given the loss of up to 30 million of its people from Nazi imperialist aggression, it is perfectly understandable that Russia today is deeply wary of any military advancement on its territory. And NATO fits that nefarious pattern.

On the specific cases of Ukraine and Georgia, NATO has been very much the instigator of conflicts there, yet it is NATO that poses now as a defender. That inversion of reality is made possible in part because of Western news media distorting historical events, just as they did again this week with regard to reporting Medvedev’s comments on NATO and Georgia.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Georgia have been solicited by Washington, the EU and NATO, as with other former Soviet states. That soliciting has created tensions and instability, not least because that was supposed to be what American leaders said they wouldn’t do.

The conflict in Ukraine came about from American and European Union support for a coup against an elected government in February 2014. The CIA and NATO were also instrumental. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine between the NATO-backed Kiev regime and pro-Russian separatists in the Eastern self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk is not due to Russian aggression; it is a result of the irresponsible and provocative intervention by Washington and its European allies.

The West accuses Russia of “annexing” Crimea, an historical part of Russia, whenever it was the West that allowed a faction of Neo-Nazi Ukrainians to annex Kiev and its government. The ongoing four-year conflict in Ukraine which has killed over 10,000 people is a direct result of NATO imperialist meddling.

On Georgia, after the Western-backed so-called Rose Revolution in 2004 which brought the mercurial Mikhail Saakashvili to power, the former Soviet Republic suddenly became a staunch proponent of NATO. Saakashvili was enthusiastically supported by Washington with weapons and finance. He also made the retaking of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Georgian territory his big mission. The three neighboring states broke up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia requested the Russian Federation to recognize their statehoods in March 2008, prompted by the American and European recognition of Kosovo in the Balkans as a self-declared state during the previous month in February 2008. Kosovo broke away from Serbia largely as a result of the military intervention of NATO. Again, NATO was setting the precedent, not Russia.

At Washington’s bidding, Georgian leader Saakashvili sent NATO-backed troops to attack Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia on August 8, 10 years ago this week. The rapid intervention by Russian troops along with Abkhaz forces repelled the Georgian offensive. Wisely, NATO declined to push its support for Saakashvili any further. The war was over in five days, resulting in the formal recognition by Russia of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Today, the US and Europe continue to accuse Russia of illegally occupying Abkhazia and South Ossetia and of violating Georgia’s sovereignty.

Western media make an upside-down analogy with Ukraine. The real analogy is that both Georgia and Ukraine have been destabilized by NATO expansionism, not Russian.

But such are the lies, distortions and self-serving propaganda churned out over and over by Western media in the service of their governments and NATO, there is an appalling failure in the West to learn from history.

When Russia warns that NATO’s expansion is risking horrible conflict that is a straightforward, reasonable observation which is borne out by history. Tragically, thousands of lives have been destroyed by not heeding this warning.

And thousands more – perhaps millions – continue to be put in danger because the Western media willfully misinterpret and misrepresent Russia.

Photo: Twitter

Trump’s Talk of Isolating Iran Speaks More to US Global Isolation – By Finian CUNNINGHAM (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Trump’s Talk of Isolating Iran Speaks More to US Global Isolation

The Trump administration re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran this week, but the move risks further isolating Washington, not Tehran, in the eyes of the world.

President Donald Trump issued a statement to accompany the sweeping sanctions reinstated by Washington. “The Iranian regime faces a choice,” he said. “Either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.”

Ironically, the same words uttered by Trump could apply more so to the United States.

This increasingly unhinged US regime needs to back off its “threatening, destabilizing behavior” and begin to respect multilateral rules like other nations. Otherwise, the US and its unilateral bullying is leading to its “continuing down the path of economic isolation”.

Trump also warned this week that, “Anybody doing business with Iran won’t be doing business with the US”. Careful what you wish for Donald! That very warning over Iran could end up much worse for your country.

The American president is in danger of recklessly overplaying his hand. His truculent demands that the rest of the world join in US efforts to isolate Iran economically are likely to backfire badly.

In particular, Trump is reinforcing the historic direction underway by Russia, China and others to shift their international trading relations away from relying on the US dollar as reserve currency. Without that privileged status as reserve currency, the US dollar would tank, and so would the entire American economy, based as it is on endless, unaccountable printing of greenbacks.

Russia, China and India are understood to be not willing to comply with Washington’s high-handed demands that they cut business ties with Iran.

Both China and India – Iran’s biggest export markets for its oil industry – have said they are not going to defer to Trump’s sanctions.

The resistance to American diktat is inevitably leading to the rest of the world coming up with new financing mechanisms for conducting trade. That, in turn, is hastening the demise of the US dollar’s international status.

Even the European Union this week pushed back against Trump’s policy to unduly antagonize Iran by trashing the international nuclear accord.

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran,” said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in a statement co-signed by the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.

The 28-member EU is introducing a Blocking Statute which will afford legal protection to its commercial ties with Iran from so-called “secondary sanctions” planned by the Trump administration to hit nations continuing to do business with Tehran.

Washington’s sanctions reimposed this week are aimed at cutting off Iran’s ability to conduct international trade using US dollar payments. But if other nations hold firm to commercial ties with Iran, they will circumvent the American restrictions by necessarily using bilateral currency deals transacted with euro, renminbi, rupee or ruble.

This is a transition already underway due to several overlapping factors, including the growing strategic importance of Russia-China bilateral relations, China’s global economic vision of its One Belt One Road initiative, Eurasian economic integration, and the increasing importance of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in shaping a multipolar world.

The BRICS represent some 40 per cent of the world economy, and the grouping is signing up new associate nations, such as Turkey and Iran.

That inevitably means the once mighty dominance of the US dollar governing international trade is waning. Its days are numbered. Trump’s bullying towards Iran, and towards others through unilateral wielding of sanctions, is only hastening the global direction of dropping the American dollar as the world reserve currency.

A nation’s currency is all about its ability to command respect or trust from other nations. Washington, under Trump, is fast squandering those values.

President Trump’s policy towards Iran has no legitimate foundation. It is a blatant attempt to destabilize that nation for regime change in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. The rest of the world can see through Washington’s vile mask and its pompous rhetoric. What they see is a thuggish regime that selfishly and arbitrarily makes up its own rules as it goes along.

American power is as unscrupulous as it is riven with hypocrisy. Accusing Iran of “malign behavior” in the Middle East makes Washington sound ridiculous given its record in recent years of destroying whole nations and millions of innocent lives from illegal wars. As well as sponsoring terrorist jihadists to do its dirty work.

Trump’s walking away from the UN-backed international nuclear accord with Iran back in May, which has paved the way for the reimposition of US sanctions, is typical of Washington’s repudiation of multilateral norms for its own unilateral gratification. All signatories to the 2015 nuclear accord, including the EU, Russia and China, have expressed their support for the deal.

UN monitors have confirmed in nearly a dozen reports that Iran has complied fully with the terms of the agreement to restrict its development of nuclear weapons. Honoring its side of the bargain, Iran is fully entitled to sanctions relief mandated by the nuclear accord.

American dishonoring of the deal is solely based on its baseless and pejorative claims alleging Iranian “malign activity”. This is the same faulty American propagandistic mentality that accuses Russia of “election meddling” or China of “military expansionism”.

But what’s even more contemptible is the utter lack of principle even in the Trump administration’s own flawed claims about Iran. While denouncing Iran as an international pariah, Trump has also incongruously offered to negotiate with the Iranian leadership.

Speaking just as the renewed sanctions were coming into force, Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, told Fox News: “They [Iran’s leaders] could take up the president’s offer to negotiate with them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs fully and really verifiably.”

Where’s the principle in Trump’s logic? If the “Iranian regime” is the “world biggest sponsor of terrorism”, as the Trump administration dubiously claims, thereby justifying its abrogation of the nuclear accord, then how is it ethically acceptable to offer talks to such a supposed pariah?

Clearly, the Trump administration has no principled objection to talking with the Iranians. Just like it has no principled objection to the nuclear agreement itself. Bolton’s assertion that Iran must “give up its ballistic missile program” is an add-on demand that was never covered by the original nuclear negotiations. Bolton’s second claim that Iran “must give up its nuclear weapons program fully and verifiably” is simply a baseless assertion, that is, American propaganda.

Every other party to the nuclear accord, and the competent UN technical monitors, have confirmed that Iran has been in full compliance for the past three years.

Trump’s evident bad faith and lies towards Iran and his outrageous dictate to the international community on how it conducts sovereign business are ensuring that Washington will become further isolated as a rogue state, which is viewed as being beyond the pale of international norms and diplomacy. US global standing is in free fall, soon to be followed by the status of the dollar.

The Trump administration’s attempt at playing hardball over Iran is like the spoilt brat picking up the ball, stomping his feet and threatening the others that he is going away. In the case of the US, the others are saying, “Go ahead, good riddance.”

Israeli air force pound Gaza, kill pregnant Palestinian woman and 18-month-old daughter, destroy city infrastructure – By Yumna Patel Mondoweiss (SOTT)

Israel pregnant mother toddler house

© Ashraf Amra
Palestinians inspect a house that was damaged in an Israeli airstrike on Dair al Balah in the center of Gaza Strip on August 9, 2018.

Three Palestinians were killed during pre dawn Israeli airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip Thursday. Among the dead were a woman, who was nine months pregnant, and her 18-month-old daughter.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza identified the pregnant woman as 23-year-old Inas Khamash, and her 18-month-old daughter as Bayan Khamash.

The two were killed when an Israeli airstrike hit their home in the Jaafari area of central Gaza. Khamash’s husband, Muhammad, was severely injured during the strike.

While some local media outlets were reporting that Muhammad succumbed to his wounds early Thursday afternoon, the Gaza Ministry of Health has maintained that he is still in critical condition and being treated in the ICU.

funeral toddler killed gaza

© Ashram Amra/ APA
Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinian Enas Khammash 23, and her 18-month-daughter Bayan, during their funeral in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on August 9, 2018.

The third slain Palestinian, reportedly a Hamas fighter, was killed in an airstrike in northern Gaza. He was identified as 30-year-old Ali al-Ghandour.

The health ministry added that around 12 Palestinians were injured, two critically, and were transferred to the hospital for treatment.

Israeli air forces pounded the Gaza Strip overnight, targeting over 100 sites in the besieged coastal enclave. The Israeli army said in a statement that forces struck 150 “terror targets.”

In a statement on Twitter, the army said the strikes were “conducted in response to the rockets launched from Gaza at Israel throughout the night,” adding that 180 rockets – at least 30 of which were intercepted by Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense system – were fired from the Gaza Strip.

air strike gaza 2018

© Dawoud Abo Alkas/ APA
A picture taken on August 8, 2018 shows a fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City.

Israeli media outlets reported that 11 Israelis were injured in the town of Sderot. One woman was reported to be in serious condition, while nine others were taken to the hospital. Thirteen other Israelis were reportedly treated for “shock.”

An Israeli army spokesperson told Mondoweiss that they could not confirm the number of Israelis reportedly injured.

The Israeli army said they held Hamas “fully responsible” for the escalation in violence, and that it was “determined to secure the safety of Israelis, is on high alert, & prepared for a variety of scenarios.”

“Hamas is responsible & bears the consequences for the ongoing events,” the army said on Twitter.

The army’s rhetoric has been echoed by Israeli politicians and government bodies over the course of Thursday, with the Foreign Ministry saying that Israel was “defending itself from from Hamas’ aggression.”

The US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt released the following statement on Twitter: “Hamas regime again is launching rockets at Israeli communities. Another night of terror & families huddling in fear as Israel defends itself. This is the Hamas regime’s choice. Hamas is subjecting people to the terrifying conditions of war again.”

Neither Greenblatt, the foreign ministry, nor the army made any mention of the killing of Inas Khimash and her daughter Bayan.

The family’s neighbor told RT that he heard “a huge explosion” and then rushed onto the street. He saw “big huge smoke” coming from the Khammash’s house. When he entered the house, he said he saw the bodies. “We found the woman’s body shattered into pieces, her little daughter too,” he said, adding that the woman’s husband was injured in the leg, stomach, and head.
Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that it was Israel who was responsible for the violence, and that “in the event of continued aggression, shelling and killing of the Palestinian people in Gaza, the resistance will not be silent. It’s duty to respond and break the occupation.”

On Twitter, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri echoed similar sentiments, and called on the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities towards Israel’s aggression and siege.”

Thursday’s events are the latest in a series of severe flare ups over the past few months in Gaza, leading many local and international officials to speculate that another large-scale Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory could be imminent.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an unnamed senior Israeli commander as saying that the military is “nearing launching an operation in the Gaza Strip” if the current situation persists.

The official told Haaretz that Hamas “will pay the price for its violations in the last four months,” seemingly referring to the ongoing Great March of Return protests that began on March 30th, over which time Israeli forces have killed at least 160 Palestinians and injured 17,000 more.

“Hamas must go back to the understandings after the [2014 Gaza war], and if it doesn’t, it will understand the hard way,” Haaretz quoted the officer as saying.

gaza water plant destroyed

© Mohamed Mosleh/Facebook
Retaliation: Gaza’s Water & Sanitation Plant of al-Mughraqa city in central Gaza. The plant was completely destroyed by several Israeli air strikes.

With fears of a new Israeli onslaught on the horizon, reports have emerged of the UN scrambling to negotiate a ceasefire.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, said in a statement issued on early Thursday that he was “deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence.”

“For months I have been warning that the humanitarian, security and political crisis in Gaza risk a devastating conflict that nobody wants. The UN has engaged with Egypt and all concerned parties in an unprecedented effort to avoid such a development,” he said.

Mladenov added that “if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.”

The Gaza Strip is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, over 70% of which are refugees who were forcibly expelled from their homes in present-day Israel when the state was established in 1948.

A more than decade-long Israeli air, land, and sea blockade has crippled Gaza’s economy, which boasts one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 44 percent, leaving an estimated 80 percent of the territory’s population dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Gaza has often been compared to an “open air prison,” and in 2015, the UN warned that the it could become “unlivable” by 2020 if nothing was done to improve the situation.

Yumna Patel is a multimedia freelance journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. You can find her on twitter @yumna_patel.

Comment:

Trump’s Sanctions Admit the End of US Military Dominance – By Tom LUONGO – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Trump’s Sanctions Admit the End of US Military Dominance
Tom LUONGO | 08.08.2018 | FEATURED STORY

On March 1st Russian President Vladimir Putin changed the geopolitical game. During his speech he unveiled new weapons which instantly made obsolete much of the U.S military’s physical arsenal.

And the panic in Washington was palpable.

Since that speech everything geopolitical has accelerated. The US government under Trump has shifted its strategies in response to this. No longer were we threatening North Korea with military invasion.

No, Trump sat down with Kim Jong-un to negotiate peace.

On Russia, Iran, China, Turkey, Venezuela and even Europe Trump’s war rhetoric has intensified. Trump is only talking about economic sanctions and tariffs, however, leveraging the dollar as his primary weapon to bring countries to heel.

There’s no hint of US invasion, no matter how much John Bolton whispers in his ear or Bibi Netanyahu bangs his shoe on the table.

Why?

Because US military dominance has always been enforced not by technology but by logistics. Those bases, while expensive, are also the real strength of the US military. They are a financial albatross which the ‘Axis of Resistance’ is using to win a war of attrition against US hegemony.

And now, Putin’s new weapons rendered them obsolete in a moment’s time. Once fully deployed there will be no going back to the old world order.

So, that’s why Trump talked to North Korea yesterday and why he will talk with Iran tomorrow.

The End of Leverage

With his latest escalation — “Anyone doing business with Iran will not do business with the US” – Trump is waving the White Flag on using the military to enforce his vision of world order.

This is the Nuclear Option of Financial Warfare. Going nuclear is a losing strategy because you have to back it up.

In the same way Trump threatened fire and brimstone on North Korea, but ultimately went to Singapore.

So, what’s he going to do? Sanction Apple for selling an iPhone in Tehran?

Because that’s what’s implied in that statement.

The cost of compliance to these sanctions will cripple banks and businesses the world over. We saw a preview of it in April when Trump tried to cut Rusal from the aluminum market.

In that same tweet, though, he revealed his hand, finally, that he wants world peace.

But, like the Beauty Queens he used to manage, Trump says a lot of things people want to hear, but does he really know how to go about bringing that dream to reality.

Financial warfare is just as devastating as physical warfare. And a peace won through subjugation via the sword or the futures contract is still a false one. It wasn’t won through respect and acquiescence to all parties’ needs, it was done through the worst kind of bullying.

It will have blowback.

At this point it is hard to tell whether Trump understands this or not.

Of course, this erratic behavior is exactly his plan. It is the Art of the Deal on the geopolitical stage.

But, the Art of the Deal requires leverage and Trump has only financial leverage.

And financial leverage can only erode over time. Every transaction made in another currency, every bank that survives being sanctioned by the US erodes that leverage a little more.

By going nuclear Trump has told the entire world he will destroy it to save it.

And if he’s serious it means today everyone with three brain cells to rub together is making alternate plans.

What looks invincible today, the dollar, is obsolete tomorrow. Currencies are fungible. They are easily cross-shopped in the end.

What most geopolitical commentators choose to forget in their strategic calculations is that the post-WWII institutional order has been maintained by the interplay between US financial dominance via the IMF, the BIS and the World Bank and the military logistical archipelago of bases and carrier strike groups circling the globe.

Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela is trying to rebuild his country without resorting to the extortion rackets of the global banking system via the Petro and Sovereign Bolivar. The jury is out whether he’ll be successful. If he is, expect the US to put more sanctions on Venezuela. But, since there are no dollars in country, what would be the point?

Again, you can’t force someone to use your currency.

Trump realizes the military portion of this system is aligned all wrong. It’s wasteful and it has destroyed the US back home. He wants it to end.

But, at the same time, he wants America to win in all deals and retain financial dominance through the energy trade. So, destroy Venezuela, Iran and stymie Russia to allow the US to keep control of the oil and gas trade via the petrodollar.

Moreover, I agree The problem is no one else in Washington D.C., Tel Aviv, New York, the City of London or Brussels has.

So, how does he make everyone happy while tearing down the parts of the world order he doesn’t like while using its remnants to shore up those he does?

By backing every demand Israel makes on Iran, that’s how. He placates the neocons in D.C. and Tel Aviv this way. But, he’s not fooling anyone really.

They are still convinced he’s not on their side and use independent means to put more pressure on Russia and him. They want control of the Congress after the mid-terms and need the narratives to hold through November.

Case in point, the recent announcement that the British government will demand extradition of the mythical Russian agents who poisoned the Skripals earlier in the year. There’s no proof, but the British Deep State continues on, to distract from reality.

The cries of treason for Donald Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin. The new sanctions bill introduced by Senator Lindsay Graham, said to throw everything at Putin to make him know the US is serious.

Like Putin hasn’t gotten that idea yet?

Trump is still being targeted for impeachment by shutting down dissent domestically (Alex Jones, Ron Paul) while he attempts to pursue a somewhat independent foreign policy.

And that’s why he has to go nuclear in his use of sanctions because Trump, despite all appearances, is not interested in any more Americans dying overseas for the dreams of the Empire. And he knows that’s what will happen if any military option is on the table with Iran.

There is little hope of the kind of makeover of US and European leadership Mr. Crooke feels is necessary to change the dynamic between the US and its geopolitical rivals. So, Trump will pursue this sanctions strategy to the bitter end.

Because, Iran, like Venezuela, Russia and China will not negotiate with someone who has nothing to offer except the back of his hand.

Syrian Authorities Discover Cache of Western, Israeli Weapons in Homs – Report – By SPUTNIK

 

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The Syrian army has on multiple occasions stumbled upon caches of weapons and ammunition made in western countries and Israel while performing sweeping operations in provinces, liberated from terrorist and militant groups.

While performing a mop up operation in the northern part of Homs, Syrian authorities discovered a weapons cache, which contained various weaponry and ammunition, Syrian news agency Sana reported. According to the media outlet, the cache was left behind by “terrorists” and contained 14.5mm machine guns, sniper modifications of FAL rifles produced in unspecified western countries, assault rifles, Israeli-made grenades and different types of ammunition.

READ MORE: WATCH as Syrian Army Uncovers Massive Haul of Western-Made Weapons for Rebels

This is not the first time Syrian authorities have found caches full of foreign-made weapons left behind by terrorists and militants. In July the Syrian Army reportedly found RPG launchers, shells, gasmasks, minesweepers, mortars, heavy machine gun emplacements and TOW launchers produced in the US among the weapons that fighters in Daraa province handed over under a reconciliation agreement. These weapons were reportedly supplied by the US to the Free Syrian Army.

READ MORE: Syrian Army Reportedly Finds NATO, Israeli-Made Weapons in Daesh Arsenal (VIDEO)

Among the weapons handed over in May by terrorists from towns south of Damascus Syrian authorities found models produced in Israel. The Syrian Army also found NATO and Israeli-made weapons in former Daesh* depos discovered in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate.

The psychopaths celebrate: Israel ‘welcomes’ assassination of Syrian scientist – but deny any ‘involvement’ – By RT

netanyahu lieberman

© Menahem Kahana / Reuters
Pair of scum: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L).

Israel’s minister of intelligence says he “welcomes” news that a Syrian scientist was killed by a car bomb, even as Tel Aviv denies any part in the murder. The New York Times reported that Israel’s Mossad was behind the attack.

Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz weighed in on allegations that Israeli Mossad agents killed Dr. Aziz Asbar near the northwestern Syrian city of Masyaf, commenting that “assuming that [Asbar] was indeed involved in terrorist activity, I welcome his departure from the world.”

Asbar, the research director at Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, was believed to be developing a secret weapons manufacturing facility with the help of Iran, which was to be used to manufacture precision-guided missiles in Syria. He was killed on Saturday by an explosive device planted on his car.

Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz

Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz

Tel Aviv has remained tight-lipped about any involvement in Asbar’s murder. “Every day in the Middle East there are hundreds of explosions and settling of scores,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel’s Channel 2 News. “Every time, they try to place the blame on us. So we won’t take this too seriously.”

Citing an unnamed official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency, the New York Times reported Monday that Israeli agents were behind Asbar’s murder, claiming that “the Mossad had been tracking Mr Asbar for a long time.” According to unnamed officials cited by the Times, Asbar was targeted by Israel because he was helping Syria to develop long-range missiles accurate enough to target Israeli cities hundreds of miles away.

Syria’s al-Watan daily newspaper said that Asbar was killed because of his “important” work on Syrian defense systems, writing in a commentary published on Tuesday that “yet again the Israeli enemy has assassinated one of the greatest Syrian minds.”

Comment: Does anyone actually believe Israel’s claim that it was not behind Asbar’s summary execution? Assassination is a Mossad speciality.

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