Does the US provide military assistance to 73% of world’s dictatorships – truth or narrative? – By Rich Whitney – Truthout – (Sott)

US boots

© Sputnik News.com
US boots on the ground.

For decades, the American people have been repeatedly told by their government and corporate-run media that acts of war ordered by their president have been largely motivated by the need to counter acts of aggression or oppression by “evil dictators.” We were told we had to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator. We had to bomb Libya because Muammar Gaddafi was an evil dictator, bent on unleashing a “bloodbath” on his own people. Today, of course, we are told that we should support insurgents in Syria because Bashar al-Assad is an evil dictator, and we must repeatedly rattle our sabers at North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin because they, too, are evil dictators.

This is part of the larger, usually unquestioned mainstream corporate media narrative that the US leads the “Western democracies” in a global struggle to combat terrorism and totalitarianism and promote democracy.

I set out to answer a simple question: Is it true? Does the US government actually oppose dictatorships and champion democracy around the world, as we are repeatedly told?

The truth is not easy to find, but federal sources do provide an answer: No. According to Freedom House‘s rating system of political rights around the world, there were 49 nations in the world, as of 2015, that can be fairly categorized as “dictatorships.” As of fiscal year 2015, the last year for which we have publicly available data, the federal government of the United States had been providing military assistance to 36 of them, courtesy of your tax dollars. The United States currently supports over 73 percent of the world’s dictatorships!

Most politically aware people know of some of the more highly publicized instances of this, such as the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of US military assistance provided to the beheading capital of the world, the misogynistic monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and the repressive military dictatorship now in power in Egypt. But apologists for our nation’s imperialistic foreign policy may try to rationalize such support, arguing that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are exceptions to the rule. They may argue that our broader national interests in the Middle East require temporarily overlooking the oppressive nature of those particular states, in order to serve a broader, pro-democratic endgame.

Such hogwash could be critiqued on many counts, of course, beginning with its class-biased presumptions about what constitutes US “national interests.” But my survey of US support for dictatorships around the world demonstrates that our government’s support for Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not exceptions to the rule at all. They are the rule.

Sources and Methods

It was not easy to find out how many of the world’s dictatorships are being supported by the United States. No one else seems to be compiling or maintaining a list, so I had to go at it by myself. Here is how I came up with my answer.

Step 1: Determine how many of the world’s governments may be fairly characterized as dictatorships.

A commonly accepted definition of a “dictatorship” is a system of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute state power, thereby directing all national policies and major acts – leaving the people powerless to alter those decisions or replace those in power by any method short of revolution or coup. I examined a number of websites and organizations that claimed to maintain lists of the world’s dictatorships, but most of them were either dated, listed only the world’s “worst dictators” or had similar limitations, and/or failed to describe their methodology. I ultimately was left with the annual Freedom in the World reports published by Freedom House as the best source for providing a comprehensive list.

This was not entirely satisfactory, as Freedom House has a decidedly pro-US-ruling-class bias. For example, it categorizes Russia as a dictatorship. In the introduction to its 2017 Freedom In the World report, it opines that

“Russia, in stunning displays of hubris and hostility, interfered in the political processes of the United States and other democracies, escalated its military support for the Assad dictatorship in Syria, and solidified its illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory.”

A more objective view would note that claims of interference in the US election by the Russian government have not been proven (unless one is inclined to take certain US intelligence agencies at their word); that Russia was asked by the UN-recognized Syrian government for assistance, in compliance with international law (unlike US acts of aggression and support for insurrection there); and would at least acknowledge that any Russian intervention in Ukraine occurred in the context of the United States’ brazen support for a coup in that nation.

Nonetheless, the Freedom House reports appear to be the best (if not the only) comprehensive gauge of political rights and freedoms covering every nation in the world. It utilizes a team of about 130 in-house and external analysts and expert advisers from the academic, think tank and human rights communities who purportedly use a broad range of sources, including news articles, academic analyses, reports from nongovernmental organizations and individual professional contacts. The analysts’ proposed scores are discussed and defended at annual review meetings, organized by region and attended by Freedom House staff and a panel of expert advisers. The final scores represent the consensus of the analysts, advisers and staff, and are intended to be comparable from year-to-year and across countries and regions. Freedom House concedes that, “although an element of subjectivity is unavoidable in such an enterprise, the ratings process emphasizes methodological consistency, intellectual rigor, and balanced and unbiased judgments.”

One can remain skeptical, but a key consideration is that Freedom House’s pronounced pro-US bias is actually a plus for purposes of this project. If its team of experts tilts toward a pro-US-government perspective, this means that it would indulge every presumption in favor of not categorizing nations supported by the United States as dictatorships. In other words, if even Freedom House categorizes a government backed by the United States as a dictatorship, one can be fairly confident that its assessment, in that instance, is accurate.

For purposes of the present assessment, I used Freedom House’s 2016 Freedom in the World report, even though its 2017 report is now available. I did so because the 2016 report reflects its assessment of political rights and civil liberties as they existed in 2015, which would roughly correspond with the military assistance and arms sales data that I had available for federal fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015) and calendar year 2015. (I will work on a new report when such data for fiscal year 2016 becomes available.)

Freedom House uses a scoring system to gauge a nation’s “political rights” and “civil liberties,” in order to rate each country as “free,” “partly free” or “not free,” with a range of scores for each category. It describes its scoring system as follows:

“A country or territory is assigned two ratings (7 to 1) – one for political rights and one for civil liberties – based on its total scores for the political rights and civil liberties questions. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the greatest degree of freedom and 7 the smallest degree of freedom, corresponds to a specific range of total scores.”

For purposes of deciding whether a nation could be categorized as a “dictatorship,” however, I focused only on the “political rights” scores, classifying nations with a political rights score of 6 or 7 as a dictatorship. This does not mean that civil liberties are unimportant, of course, but the objective here is to assess the degree of absolutism of the political leadership, not freedom of expression, press, etc. Of course, in the overwhelming majority of cases, nations with low political rights scores also have low civil liberties scores. However, a political rights score of 6 or 7 corresponds most closely with our definition of dictatorship, based on Freedom House’s characterization:

6 – Countries and territories with a rating of 6 have very restricted political rights. They are ruled by one-party or military dictatorships, religious hierarchies, or autocrats. They may allow a few political rights, such as some representation or autonomy for minority groups, and a few are traditional monarchies that tolerate political discussion and accept public petitions.

7 – Countries and territories with a rating of 7 have few or no political rights because of severe government oppression, sometimes in combination with civil war. They may also lack an authoritative and functioning central government and suffer from extreme violence or rule by regional warlords.

While it may be debatable whether it is appropriate to consider a country with no “functioning central government” as a dictatorship, I would submit that the label is appropriate if that nation is ruled de facto by warlords or rival armies or militias. In effect, that simply means that it is ruled by two or more dictators instead of one.

By Freedom House’s measure, then, there were 49 nation-states that could be fairly characterized as dictatorships in 2015, as follows:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Brunei, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa), Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Mauritania, Myanmar, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.

It should be noted that Freedom House included in its ratings several other entities with a political rights score of 6 or 7 whose status as an independent state was itself disputed:

Crimea, the Gaza Strip, Pakistani Kashmir, South Ossetia, Tibet, Transnistria, the West Bank and Western Sahara.

My count of 49 dictatorships in the world in 2015 excludes these subordinated or disputed state territories.

Step 2: Determine which of the world’s dictatorships received US-funded military or weapons training, military arms financing or authorized sales of military weapons from the United States in 2015.

For this step, I relied on four sources, the first two of which took considerable digging to locate:

A. Foreign Military Training in Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016 Volume I and Volume II (Country Training Activities), US Department of Defense and US Department of State Joint Report to Congress.

This is the most recent annual report, required by section 656 of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, as amended (22 U.S.C. § 2416), and section 652 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161), which requires

“a report on all military training provided to foreign military personnel by the Department of Defense and the Department of State during the previous fiscal year and all such training proposed for the current fiscal year,” excluding NATO countries, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

This report provides data on US expenditures for military training programs under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants, the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, the Section 2282 Global Train and Equip (GT&E) program, the Aviation Leadership Program to provide pilot training (ALP), and the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) drawdown program, which authorizes the president to direct the drawdown of defense articles, services and training if an “unforeseen emergency exists that requires immediate military assistance to a foreign country” that cannot be met by other means. Such expenditures are listed by recipient country, in some detail. For purposes of this study, I include expenditures under these programs as US-funded military training.

The report also provides data on US expenditures for narcotics and law enforcement, global peace operations, centers for security studies, drug interdiction and counter-drug activities, mine removal assistance, disaster response, non-lethal anti-terrorism training and other programs that I did not count as military assistance or training for purposes of this survey. It is certainly more than possible that US assistance under these programs could play a role in providing de facto military assistance to recipient countries, but I err on the side of caution.

The report describes the IMET program as including civilian participants, and including training on “elements of U.S. democracy such as the judicial system, legislative oversight, free speech, equality issues, and commitment to human rights.” One could conceivably criticize my inclusion of IMET training, therefore, on the ground that it actually trains foreign civilians and soldiers in democratic, anti-dictatorial values. However, the IMET program is presumably called “military” training and education for a reason. It trains students in “increased understanding of security issues and the means to address them,” and provides “training that augments the capabilities of participant nations’ military forces to support combined operations and interoperability with U.S. forces.” Accordingly, I think it is fair to count IMET as a form of military assistance, while acknowledging that it arguably might, at times, play a pro-democracy role.

B. US Department of State, “Congressional Budget Justification FOREIGN ASSISTANCE SUMMARY TABLES, Fiscal Year 2017.”

Table 3a of this publication provides the actual fiscal year allocations for foreign assistance programs, by country and by account, including the two programs that interest us here, Foreign Military Financing and IMET. In that regard, it is somewhat duplicative of the previous source, but I reviewed it as a check.

C. Department of Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Financial Policy And Analysis Business Operations, “Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales And Other Security Cooperation Historical Facts As of September 30, 2015.”

This source provides the total dollar value of military articles and services sold to foreign governments for FY 2015, including the value of agreements for future deliveries and the value of actual deliveries, which I have provided in the table below. It also includes other data on foreign military financing (credit or grants) extended to foreign governments and provides yet another source on IMET training.

D. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI),Transfer of major conventional weapons: sorted by recipient. Deals with deliveries or orders made for year range 2015 to 2016.”

SIPRI provides an interactive tool by which the user can generate a list of major weapons transfers by supplier, all or some recipients, and the year. Although it only counts “major” conventional weapons transfers, I reviewed it as an additional check on the accuracy of the chart. It essentially affirmed the accuracy of the DSCA report but there were some possible anomalies. For example, the DSCA reports only $8,000 worth of military sales to Uganda in FY 2015 but SIPRI reports the transfer of 10 RG-33 armored vehicles, two Cessna-208 Caravan light transport planes, and 15 Cougar armored vehicles in 2015. The discrepancy may be due to the three-month difference between fiscal year 2015 and calendar year 2105, different methods of dating the transfer, differences in valuation or some unknown factor.

Step 3: Generate the Chart

The first column in the chart below lists the 49 countries classified by Freedom House as dictatorial in nature.

The second column shows those nations that received some US military training in FY 2015, relying primarily on source B, but also checking source C.

The third column shows those nations that received an agreement for future military sales or transfers from the United States in FY 2015, with the dollar value of the military articles listed, based on source C, but also checking source D.

The fourth column shows those nations that received an actual delivery of military articles from the United States in FY 2015, with the dollar value of the military articles listed, based on source C, but also checking source D.

whitney chart
Whitney chart 2

© Rich Whitney

I plan on providing similar reports on US support for dictatorships around the world on an annual basis. I will begin work on a report covering Fiscal Year 2016 as soon as the relevant data becomes available.

Rich Whitney is an attorney, actor, radio commentator and disk jockey, Illinois Green Party activist and former Green Party candidate for governor.

Comment: Military sales of equipment and services represent a very lucrative business (see the chart for 2015 which represents ‘dictatorship’ remunerations only). Peace and minding US’ own business, in this sense, has no ‘value’.

Deal of the century? No peace in sight as Israel carries on lying, stealing and killing with US approval – By Jonathan Cook /Middle East Eye – (Sott)

trump protest palestine

© AFP
‘He will be given free rein to do what he likes,’ Israeli analysts tells MEE

There are mounting signals that Donald Trump’s much-delayed Middle East peace plan – billed as the “deal of the century” – is about to be unveiled.

Even though Trump’s officials have given away nothing publicly, the plan’s contours are already evident, according to analysts.

They note that Israel has already started implementing the deal – entrenching “apartheid” rule over Palestinians – while Washington has spent the past six months dragging its heels on publishing the document.

“Netanyahu has simply got on with deepening his hold on the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and he knows the Americans aren’t going to stand in his way,” said Michel Warschawski, an Israeli analyst and head of the Alternative Information Centre in Jerusalem.

“He will be given free rein to do what he likes, whether they publish the plan or, in the end, it never sees the light of day,” he told Middle East Eye.

Eran Etzion, a former Israeli foreign ministry official, agreed: “Israel has a much freer hand than it did in the past. It feels confident enough to continue its existing policies, knowing Trump won’t stand in the way.”

Netanyahu ‘the winner’

According to the latest reports, the Americans may present their plan within days, soon after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Yossi Alpher, a former aide to Ehud Barak during his premiership in the late 90s, said it was clear Netanyahu was being “kept in the loop” by Trump officials. He told MEE: “He is being apprised of what is coming. There won’t be any surprises for him.”

Analysts are agreed that Netanyahu will emerge the winner from any Trump initiative.

Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli politician who was a pivotal figure in the Oslo peace process of the early 90s, said Netanyahu would cynically manipulate the plan to his advantage.

“He knows the Palestinians will not accept the terms they are being offered,” he told MEE. “So he can appear reasonable and agree to it – even if there are things he is unhappy with – knowing that the Palestinians will reject it and then be blamed for its failure.”

Alpher agreed. “If the plan is rejected, Trump will say he did his best, he offered the parties the greatest deal ever, and that they must now be left to settle the issues on their own.”

He added that the only obstacle to Washington presenting the plan were fears about Abbas’s waning health. Trump’s team might then prefer to shelve it.

Even then, he said, Netanyahu would profit.

“He can then continue with what he’s been doing for the past 10 years. He will expand the settlements, and suppress the rights of Israelis who oppose him. He will move Israel towards a situation of apartheid.”

Fragments of land

In an early effort to win Trump’s favour, reported by MEE a year ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas proposed a land swap ceding 6.5 percent of the occupied territories to Israel. That was more than three times what had been accepted by the Palestinians in previous peace talks.

But the Palestinians appear to have lost the battle and are now braced for the worst. Abbas has derided the plan as “the slap of the century”, and has said he will not commit “treason” by agreeing to it.

According to Palestinian officials, they are likely to be offered provisional borders over fragments of land comprising about half the occupied territories – or just 11 percent of what was recognised as Palestine under the British mandate.

The Palestinian areas would be demilitarised, and Israel would have control over the borders and airspace.

Israel and the Palestinians would then be left to “negotiate” over the status of Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with Trump likely to back Netanyahu to the hilt, according to the analysts.

It is widely assumed that the Americans have rejected any principle of a right of return for Palestinian refugees, either to Israel or to the areas of the occupied territories that Israel wins US approval to seize.

Gaza and Golan windfalls

The US embassy’s move to Jerusalem last month appears to signal that the Trump administration will recognise all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That would deny Palestinians East Jerusalem, long assumed to be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

And separate reports this month suggest that the announcement of the peace plan may be timed to coincide with new measures for Gaza and the Golan Heights. There have been rumours for several years that Washington and Israel have been pressuring Cairo to let Palestinians in Gaza settle in Sinai.

According to Israeli reports, Washington may be close to unveiling a scheme that would weaken the border between Gaza and Egypt, and allow Palestinians to work and maybe live in northern Sinai.

The aim would be to gradually shift responsibility for the enclave away from Israel on to Egypt and further undermine prospects for a Palestinian state in historic Palestine.

golan map

And in a separate move that would complete Netanyahu’s windfall, an Israeli government minister claimed late last month that the Trump administration may be ready to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

The Heights were seized by Israel from Syria during the 1967 war and annexed in violation of international law in 1981.

No longer ‘occupied’

A Jerusalem Post report last month suggested that the White House document would be unlikely to include a commitment to a “two-state solution”, reflecting previous comments from Trump.

That would free Israel’s hand to seize areas of the West Bank it has colonised with its ever-expanding settlements.

Noticeably, the latest annual report from the US State Department on the human rights situation by country, published in April, drops for the first time the term “occupied Palestinian territories”, implying that the Trump team no longer views much of the West Bank as under occupation.

Netanyahu told a recent meeting of his Likud faction: “Our successes are still to come. Our policies are not based on weakness. They are not based on concessions that will endanger us.”

So given Israel’s recent moves, what can we infer about the likely terms of Trump’s peace plan?

1. Gerrymandering Jerusalem

The most sensitive of the final-status issues is Jerusalem, which includes the incendiary Muslim holy site of al-Aqsa. Trump appears to have effectively recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by relocating the US embassy there last month.

The embassy move is likely to be interpreted by Netanyahu as a retroactive seal of approval from the US for a series of Israeli measures over recent months designed to engineer a Greater Jewish Jerusalem.

jerusalem map

The main thrust are two legislative proposals to gerrymander the city’s boundaries and its population to create an unassailable Jewish majority. Both have been put on hold by Netanyahu until the announcement of the peace plan.

The first – called the Greater Jerusalem Bill – is intended to annex several large Jewish settlements close by in the occupied West Bank to the Jerusalem municipality. Overnight that would transform some 150,000 West Bank settlers into Jerusalem residents, as well as effectively annexing their lands to Israel.

In a sign of the impatience of members of Netanyahu’s cabinet to press on with such a move, the bill is due to come up for consideration again on Sunday.

A separate bill would strip residency in the city from some 100,000 Palestinians who are on the “wrong side” of a wall Israel began building through Jerusalem 15 years ago. Those Palestinians will be all but barred from Jerusalem and assigned to a separate council.

In addition, Israel has intensified harsh measures against Palestinians still inside East Jerusalem, including night arrests, house demolitions, the closing down of businesses, the creation of “national parks” in Palestinian neighbourhoods, and the denial of basic services. The barely veiled aim is to encourage residents to relocate outside the wall.

Experts have noted too that Palestinian schools inside the wall are being pressured to adopt the Israeli curriculum to erode a Palestinian identity among pupils.

2. Abu Dis: a Palestinian capital?

With Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive capital, Trump’s team is reported to be seeking a face-saving alternative location for a future Palestinian “capital” outside Jerusalem’s municipal borders.

According to rumours, they have selected the town of Abu Dis, 4km east of Jerusalem and cut off from the city by Israel’s wall more than a decade ago.

east jerusalem

The Abu Dis plan is not new. At the end of the 90s, the US administration of Bill Clinton proposed renaming Abu Dis “al-Quds” – Arabic for “the Holy”, the traditional name of Jerusalem because of its holy places. That was seen as a prelude to designating it the future capital of a Palestinian state.

Reports about the elevation of Abu Dis in the new peace plan have been circulating since late last year. In January, Abbas rejected the idea outright.

Only last month Yair Lapid, leader of Israel’s centre-right Yesh Atid party, highlighted reports about the imminent change of Abu Dis’s status in comments directed at Netanyahu.

Abu Dis is a densely populated village home to 13,000 Palestinians. In practice, it is all but impossible to imagine how it could function meaningfully as the capital of a Palestinian state – something that makes it an attractive proposition for most of Netanyahu’s coalition.

Currently, most of Abu Dis’s lands are under Israeli control, and it is hemmed in by the wall and Jewish settlements, including the 40,000 inhabitants of Maale Adumim.

Palestinian protester

© Reuters
A Palestinian protester hits the Israeli separation barrier with a hammer in Abu Dis in October 2015

Several government ministers have made Israel’s annexation of Maale Adumim a priority. Netanyahu has delayed such a move, again citing the need to wait for the announcement of the Trump peace plan.

Beilin said it was mistakenly believed that he and Abbas agreed on Abu Dis as a Palestinian capital back in the 90s.

“It wasn’t credible as an idea then, and the map looks very different now,” he said. “The Palestinian capital has to be in East Jerusalem. Nothing else will work.”

3. Access to al-Aqsa

There has also been talk of a plan to create a narrow land corridor from Abu Dis to the al-Aqsa mosque, so Palestinians can reach it to pray.

However, Israel has been allowing ever larger numbers of settlers into al-Aqsa, which is reputedly built over two long-destroyed Jewish temples.

aqsa settlers

© AFP
Settlers accompanied by Israeli security guards pose for a photo during a visit to al-Aqsa

Meanwhile, Israel has been tightly restricting access to the site for most Palestinians. There have been long-standing Palestinian fears that Israel is seeking to engineer a situation where it can impose its sovereignty over the mosque.

David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel and a benefactor to the settlements, only heightened such fears last month when he was pictured apparently accepting a photo doctored by religious settlers that showed al-Aqsa mosque replaced by a new Jewish temple.

4. Jordan Valley

Under the Oslo accords, some 62 percent of the occupied West Bank was classified as Area C, under temporary Israeli control. It includes much of the Palestinians’ best agricultural land and would be the heartland of any future Palestinian state.

Israel never carried out the withdrawals from Area C intended in the Oslo process. Instead, it has been accelerating the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements there, and making life as hard as possible for Palestinians to force them into the confines of the more densely populated Areas A and B.

The Trump plan is reported to offer recognition of provisional Palestinian borders on about half of the West Bank – effectively awarding most of Area C to Israel. Much of that land will be in the Jordan Valley, the long spine of the West Bank that Israel has been colonising for decades.

Last December, as the Trump plan took shape, Israel announced a massive programme of settlement expansion in the Jordan Valley, designed to more than double the settler population there. Three new settlements will be the first to be built in the valley in nearly 30 years.

At the same time, Israel has lately been intensifying the harassment of the ever-shrinking Palestinian population in the Jordan Valley, as well as other parts of Area C.

In addition to denying Palestinians access to 85 percent of the Valley, Israel has declared military firing zones over nearly half of the area. That has justified the regular eviction of families on the pretext of ensuring their safety.

Israel has also been developing accelerated procedures to demolish Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley.

5. The rest of Area C

Israel has been speeding up efforts to expand the settlements in other parts of Area C. On 30 May, it announced nearly 2,000 new homes, the great majority of them in isolated settlements that it was previously assumed would be dismantled in any peace deal.

Additionally, Israel has been quietly preparing to “legalise” what are termed “outposts” – settlements, usually built on private Palestinian land, that violate a “no new settlements” agreement with the US dating from the 90s.

At the same time, Israel has been destroying Palestinian communities in Area C, especially those that stand in the way of efforts to create territorial continuity between large settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Late last month, France objected after Israel’s supreme court approved a plan to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, next to Maale Adumim. The families are supposed to be moved to a garbage dump in Abu Dis.

The French statement warned that Israeli actions were threatening “a zone of strategic importance to the two-state solution and the contiguity of a future Palestinian state”.

In its place, it was recently revealed, Israel is planning to build a new settlement neighbourhood called Nofei Bereishit.

In another sign of mounting international concern, some 70 Democratic members of the US Congress appealed last month to Netanyahu to stop the destruction of the Palestinian community of Sussiya, between the Gush Etzion settlements and Jerusalem.

US lawmakers expressed concern that the move was designed to “jeopardise the prospects for a two-state solution”.

6. Gaza and Sinai

It is becoming hard for the Trump administration and Israel to ignore the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza – one Israel helped to engineer with an 11-year blockade and intermittent military attacks. The United Nations warned some time ago that Gaza would soon be “uninhabitable”.

Seeking a solution, the White House hosted 19 countries at a meeting in March to consider the situation in Gaza. The PA boycotted the meeting.

gaza sinai

At the time, Arab media reported that the Trump peace plan might include a commitment from Egypt to free up northern Sinai for a future Palestinian state. According to a Hamas official, Cairo offered reassurances that it was opposed to “settling Palestinians in Sinai”.

But a report in Haaretz has revived concerns that the White House may try to achieve a similar end by other means, by launching a Gaza initiative to coincide with the peace plan.

The paper noted that the Trump team had picked up proposals from an Israeli general, Yoav Mordechai, who participated in the White House meeting in March.

A reported initial stage would see Palestinians from Gaza recruited to work on $1.5bn worth of long-term projects in northern Sinai, funded by the international community. The projects would include an industrial zone, a desalination plant and a power station.

Egyptian opposition to such an initiative is reported to be weakening, presumably in the face of strenuous pressure from Washington and Arab allies.

Palestinian protests

The Palestinians are doing their best to try to halt the peace plan in its tracks. They are currently boycotting the Trump administration to show their displeasure.

Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called last month on Arab states to recall their ambassadors from the United States in protest.

And an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has proposed that an international peacekeeping force, modelled those used in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 90s, be deployed to protect Palestinians.

In another sign of anger at the Trump initiative, the Palestinians defied the US by submitting a referral for the International Criminal Court at the Hague to investigate Israel for war crimes last month.

Etzion, the former Israeli foreign ministry official, however, warned that a turning point could be on the horizon.

“A Palestinian implosion is coming and that could change the situation in unexpected ways,” he told MEE. “The question is which implosion comes first: the humanitarian catastrophe about to engulf Gaza, or the political vacuum created when Abbas leaves.”

Arab pressure

Nonetheless, the Palestinians are facing huge pressure to give in to the peace plan.

The Trump administration has already cut funding to the UN refugee agency, UNRWA, which cares for more than two million refugees in the occupied territories. It is also poised to pull more than $200m of funding to the Palestinian Authority this summer.

Trump has also sought to recruit the Arab states to lean on Abbas. According to reports, the Palestinian leader was presented with a 35-page document originating from the Americans when he visited Saudi Arabia last November, and told to accept it or resign.

In recent years the Saudis have increased their aid to the Palestinian Authority, giving them greater leverage over the Palestinian leader.

In exchange for the Arab states acceding to Trump’s plan, Washington appears to be rolling out a more draconian policy towards Iran to limit its influence in the region.

The Arab states understand that they need to first defuse the Palestinian issue before they can be seen to coordinate closely with Israel and the US in dealing with Tehran.

Beyond Racism, Immigrant Mass Detention Is All About Profit – By Gabriel – (MINT PRESS)

A mural at the Casa Padre migrant children’s shelter in Brownsville, Texas, with a quote – in English and Spanish – from Donald Trump’s 1987 book, The Art of the Deal. Source | Department of Health and Human Services

Trump’s “Make America Great” policies have resulted in misery for thousands of poor migrants, but the rise in human suffering has resulted in jackpot prizes for players at the New York Stock Exchange.

Trump’s “Make America Great” policies have resulted in misery for thousands of poor migrants, but the rise in human suffering has resulted in jackpot prizes for players at the New York Stock Exchange.

BELLINGHAM, WA – While Donald Trump’s stepped-up repression of unauthorized migrants has been touted as a “get tough” policy meant to stem a flood of “animals” affiliated with transnational criminal groups, his draconian policies remain unlikely to deter desperate asylum-seekers from seeking entry to the United States. Instead, family separations and arbitrary prosecution and incarcerations are upping the scale of trauma suffered by refugees while asylum claims and border-crossings continue to increase.

Trump’s “Make America Great” policies may have resulted in misery for thousands of poor migrants, yet the rise in human suffering has resulted in jackpot prizes for some players at the New York Stock Exchange.

For Tomás A. Madrigal, a food systems researcher at Community to Community Development in Bellingham, Washington, these inhumane policies are all about dollars and cents.

“Under the Trump Administration, there are no ifs, ands, or buts – this is a class war,” Madrigal told MintPress News.

New York Times Immigration

Just as White House policies on taxes, land-use, military expenditures and foreign trade have overwhelmingly favored the financial sector, the Trump-era immigration enforcement regime has directly translated into a huge boost in dividends for those invested in industries reliant on the exploitation of immigrants, and especially the commercial prison industry.

It’s the latest sequel in a franchise that began with the War on Drugs, continued with the War on Terror, and found renewed purpose with the rise of a new super-villain: the MS-13 “animals” from El Salvador, whose mantra – we’re told – is “kill, rape, control.”

The political economy of the U.S. immigrant enforcement regime shows how white nationalist or “nativist” populism, the criminalization of immigrants, the “swamp” of private interest lobbyists, the national security state, and neoliberalism – the corporate takeover of public services by monopolistic capital – have combined to fuel an expanding model of profit-driven trade based on mass punishment, mass confinement, and the exploitation of poor people.

“The tearing apart of families, we see as a terror tactic in a desperate attempt by the Trump administration to force down poverty wages for immigrants across multiple industries,” Madrigal said.

 

“Prison-Industrial Complex”: cliché buzzword or apt description?

While the term “prison-industrial complex” smacks of an activist catch-phrase or academic buzzword, the term is an accurate descriptor of the manner in which the growth of the U.S. prison population has multiplied, spawning lucrative public-private partnerships benefiting public officials and for-profit entities alike.

The prison-industrial complex is the natural byproduct of neoliberalism, which became the ruling doctrine of the West in the 1970s amid sharp crises in the capitalist world-system. Uninhibited capitalism or the “free market” was depicted as the purest form of liberty, resulting in monopoly enterprises and multinational corporations being given the freedom not only to stifle smaller companies but also to shatter unions, stifle workers’ wages, and destroy large swathes of the public sector.

By the late ‘70s, governments on the state and federal level coped with prison overcrowding caused by mass incarceration through legislation allowing private companies to contract with public prisons for the sake of cutting costs and tapping into incarcerated inmate labor.

As Cristoph Scherrer and Anil Shah noted in an article for The Bullet & Global Labour Forum published last April:

From there it was only a small step to propose using prisoners’ labor power as a source of income. The discourse on financing prisons and detainees moved from ‘public assistance’ to ‘self-financing’. Under neoliberalism, detention itself is becoming a self-inflicted penalty for which the prisoner and the prisoner’s relatives literally have to pay: processing charges for visits, rents for beds, and co-financing for medical care. In many cases, prisoners are released with bills for prison services of several thousand dollars.”

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch tours the prison factory at the Talladega Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Ala., Friday, April 29, 2016. Evan Vucci | AP

This has resulted, over the past decades, in the growth of a trend in profit accumulation where captive workforces face highly exploitative conditions where labor is deprived of the right to organize to better their conditions.

From Victoria’s Secret to Nintendo, Wisconsin cheese to Hawaiian papayas – as well as telecommunications and military industries – the prison economy has proven to be a boon to investors thanks to generous contracts from government and the extremely low cost of prison labor, which amounts to around $1 per hour for migrant detainees.

In the 2009 book The Prison-Industrial Complex & The Global Economy, authors Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans note:

For private business, prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation to pay … New leviathan prisons are being built with thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. … All at a fraction of the cost of ‘free labor’ … Even the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery, excludes prisoners from its protections.”

As was the case under slavery, for-profit prisons thrive on the capture of masses of people and their exploitation within the walls of the prison industry. For those immigrants who speak up against their mistreatment or who demand basic rights, the punishment is severe.

Madrigal sees a direct parallel to trends in the agricultural industry, where growers are increasingly relying on guestworkers – unfree laborers, primarily from rural and indigenous parts of Mexico, whose residence in the U.S. relies on the good graces of employers who are in regular contact with the Department of Homeland Security. Given the instantly revocable nature of guestworker visas, workers are effectively prevented from organizing, creating a coercive labor regime that has been compared to slavery.

“Slaving is a lucrative business and … the legalization of slavery is happening before our very eyes under the Trump administration,” Madrigal said.

“It is a bifurcated system that special interest groups seek to streamline and automate, with the support of both major parties domestically,” he added, describing these policies as a form of “Trumpian capitalism.”

 

Immigrants for Sale

U.S. private prisons are largely controlled by a handful of monopolistic firms or real estate investment trusts, with GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, CCA) standing at the helm of the industry. For-profit prison operators threw their weight behind Trump’s “law and order” campaign in 2016. Following his election victory, both GEO and CoreCivic continued pouring cash into his till and each gave $250,000 toward the inauguration celebrations.

The two companies enjoyed contracts with the federal government to build and operate detention facilities under Obama, yet the companies’ stock took a sharp hit in 2016 after the outgoing administration announced plans to scale back government reliance on private prisons. Washington had been plagued with public pressure over abuses at private prisons and migrant detention centers, and headlines covering hunger strikes, suicides, sexual abuse and pitiful medical care filled newspapers on an alarmingly regular basis.

A holding area for mostly Central American immigrant children at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz. July 17, 2014. Ross D. Franklin | AP

The private prison corporations’ investments in the Trump campaign were lucrative, to say the least. Upon coming to power, Trump swiftly followed through on his campaign promises to vastly boost ICE operations, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice quickly implementing a “zero-tolerance policy” requiring an increase in immigration and border agents along with a funding surge for detention facilities.

By late February, 2017 – scarcely a month after Trump’s inauguration ball – the prison companies’ stock prices rallied to previously unheard-of heights, nearly doubling in  market value. Their profitability has continued to rise as market speculation and new influxes of taxpayer dollars, driven by overcrowding resulting from the exponential boost in migrant incarceration, fuels profits extracted from largely Latin American refugees fleeing conditions primarily created by U.S. imperialist policies in their home regions.

“The new regime is expanding quickly and utilizing all the tools left behind by the Obama administration,” immigrant rights activist and undocumented Bellingham-based community leader Maru Mora-Villalpando told MintPress News.

“They have made it easier for jails and now prisons to start detaining immigrants, plus [they are] looking at expanding or creating new private detentions centers for adults and children,” she added.

Watch | Private Prisons Back Trump

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/YXIo0fVxd6E?rel=0&showinfo=0

 

Janus-Faced Obama or the “Deporter-In-Chief”

During the mid-2010s, crime rates in the U.S. had dropped as social movements clamored for criminal justice reforms and the reduction of the racialized, disproportionate mass incarceration of primarily black and brown poor people. Increasingly, voters in states like California passed laws reducing sentences and reversing draconian laws like the “Three-Strikes” law. As a result, black communities have seen a modest decline in imprisonment rates.

However, the restive unauthorized migrant population – estimated to number anywhere between 11-12 million – had largely grown quiet in their demands for full rights following a period of intense political activity and mass mobilization in 2006 to resist the Sensenbrenner Bill, which sought to criminalize migrants and seek their wholesale removal.

This was a community that was on the receiving end of what Professor William I. Robinson called an “undeclared war” – and offshoot of the post-9/11 “war on terror” which, in the name of national security and anti-terrorism, sought to clamp down on migrant rights and install a militarized regime of immigrant detention and deportation.

Largely Latino and overwhelmingly Mexican and Central American, the immigrant community was also the most lucrative motor force for the U.S. economy, be it in agriculture, the hospitality industry, food service, childcare, domestic labor, retail, manufacturing, and so on.

As Robinson noted:

The super-exploitation of an immigrant workforce would not be possible if that workforce had the same rights as citizens, if it did not face the insecurities and vulnerabilities of being undocumented or ‘illegal.’ Granting full citizenship rights to the tens of millions of immigrants in the United States would undermine the division of the United States – and by extension, the global – working class into immigrants and citizens. That division is a central component of the new class relations of global capitalism, predicated on a “flexible” mass of workers who can be hired and fired at will, are de-unionized, and face precarious work conditions, job instability, a rollback of benefits and downward pressure on wages.

Watch | Immigrants For Sale

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/qJ20tIYirKg?rel=0&showinfo=0

While Democrat politicians expressed sympathies for migrants with honeyed slogans like “No Human Being Is Illegal,” the Obama administration continued to fuel the ICE dragnet mass deportation apparatus. Contracts with private prison corporations were renewed while the administration issued forms of administrative relief like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

Amid these contradictions, the administration of Obama – whom many began to describe as the “Deporter-In-Chief” – remained somewhat open to popular pressure.

“The main difference is that the Obama administration had shame, the Trump administration has no shame,” Madrigal said, noting that his group had some degree of success “speaking truth to power” and preventing local law enforcement from enforcing immigration law.

In Madrigal’s opinion, the “rule of law” as overseen by Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder at least allowed advocates the space to successfully fight for gains. He added:

If you pay close attention, the Trump administration are replacing rule of law with what they desperately plead is the ‘moral authority’ of nationalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. But their true moral authority is the death and premature death that they produce through war and incarceration.”

 

Enter the white supremacist “nativists”

When Trump unleashed his campaign on the U.S. through loud promises to “Build the Wall” and keep Mexican “rapists” out of the country, it became clear that he was aiming to win the votes of white nativists, whose ideological aims coincided with the interests for-profit prison operators.

Indeed, Trump began to repeat dubious talking points from Breitbart that originated in the Washington, D.C. offices of anti-immigrant groups affiliated with the no-holds-barred white racialist far-right.

Such groups – NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and think-tank offshoot the Center for Immigration Studies – were founded either directly or indirectly by white nationalist leader John Tanton.

Barbie Miller, left, yells as she joins demonstrators outside the Mexican Consulate, July 18, 2014, in Houston, Texas. David J. Phillip | AP

Since 1979, these groups – known as the Tanton network – began embedding themselves in the Republican Party through the use of savvy demagogic talking-points that radicalized discourse over immigration policy. The groups’ messaging simultaneously played on white American insecurities over falling standards of living and unemployment resulting from neoliberal policies, as well as dog-whistles that played on the time-honored U.S. tradition of scapegoating communities of color and recently-arrived immigrants from the Global South.

In 1993, the population control-obsessed Tanton argued that a “European-American majority” was needed “for European-American society and culture to persist.” In his essay “Alien Invasion,” Tanton further described migrants as a parasitic, amoeba-like entity “that reproduces rapidly and eats everything in sight.” By 1997, Tanton said that the urgent closure of the border was needed to prevent immigrants “defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs.”

Without using old-school racist slurs – at least not publicly – Tanton was clearly positioning non-European “aliens” as a threat to Judeo-Christian civilization and white “natives” in the U.S. Tanton and his network of groups like FAIR issued constant bulletins and studies reinforcing his lurid, dehumanizing depictions of feces-flinging migrants laying waste to the U.S., a precursor to Trump’s description of “American Carnage,” where Central American MS-13 hoodlums and their non-criminal relatives or “animals” run rampant in the U.S.

By 2016, Tanton network white nationalists had metastasized across the G.O.P. and were especially well-represented in the Trump campaign. Officials like then-Senator and now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his close comrade Stephen Miller were among the most prominent FAIR affiliates in Trump’s team.

Sessions had successfully led fights against modest immigration reform attempts under the Bush and Obama administrations and was a fierce proponent of integrating the federal immigration enforcement apparatus with state and local law enforcement agencies. He also demanded an end to the “catch and release” policy of President Obama, which allowed unauthorized migrants apprehended by ICE to reside in the U.S. free of incarceration until they could have their day in immigration court.

Upon coming to power, Trump and Sessions unleashed the floodgates of the Tanton network upon his cabinet while undoing Obama administration controls on ICE. Formerly considered the lunatic – perhaps neo-fascist – fringe of the conservative movement, these white nationalists instead grew to dominate policy discussions inside the Republican Party and their implementation by the executive branch.

As recently as last month, Trump tapped Ronald Mortensen – a notorious anti-immigrant extremist and fellow from the Center for Immigration Studies – to head the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Prior to being picked, Mortensen had accused undocumented migrants of “serious felonies that impact American men, women and children.”

Immigrant crime rate graphMortensen also claimed that “even the strongest supporters of illegal aliens acknowledge that 75 percent of illegal aliens routinely commit felonies” – a completely fabricated figure that flies in the face of reputable studies showing that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than U.S. citizens.

Under Sessions and his Tanton-affiliated colleagues, the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security have vastly expanded the mandate of federal immigration agents to clamp down on dissent, as Mora-Villalpando found out in May when she received a deportation order after a Washington Department of Licensing employee sent her information to ICE.  The targeting of Mora-Villalpando caused a huge national uproar that ultimately resulted in the resignation of the department’s head.

Mora-Villalpando told MintPress News:

DOJ’s role is critical is criminalizing our immigrant communities and making it easier for ICE to detain and excuse deportations. It’s a clear attack on anyone that is an immigrant with or without papers, anyone having to flee and migrate, and anyone that dare speak against these practices.”

The new policies have also chilled popular dissent in immigrant communities, yet Mora-Villalpando stresses that the resistance won’t end.

“While many are more scared than before, there are some that will continue speaking up and organizing,” she said.

 

“There is hope as long as we continue fighting”

Continuing, Mora-Villalpando observed that not only Trump officials but the rank-and-file of ICE and the DHS Customs and Border Protection agency are of like mind with the present administration, and can be expected to use their powers for the purpose of stifling immigrant rights advocate.

She commented:

ICE has become a full political repression machine, and it wasn’t that difficult since they are already an agency intended to destroy our communities. They, along with CBP, jumped on the political anti-immigrant racist xenophobic wagon since the electoral year in 2016 by endorsing trump during his campaign.”

“What they didn’t expect after they started targeting us for our political work was that the community would fight back,” she added.

Mora-Villalpando doesn’t think that minor reforms or protections such as DACA or a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform can come close to ending the increasing use of private prisons or suffering her community has undergone following the targeting of immigrants following September 11, 2001.

For that very reason, she and like-minded organizers aren’t soft-stepping around the issue but are aiming at the heart of state terror and the campaign of mass confinement aimed at millions of undocumented U.S. residents.

When asked about her demands, Mora-Villalpando cuts to the chase:

The demand is simple: abolish ICE.

By doing so, the entire machine will fall apart – the private sector that benefits off criminalization [and] even the non-profits that also live off immigrants’ misery.

The agency has only been around for 15 years. It’s time for them to be gone and all the millions and millions of dollars that have been used to exploit and oppress our communities should be invested in education, housing, and healthcare.”

Mora-Villalpando doesn’t see the demand as unrealistic, nor does she see the Trump administration as capable of stifling migrant communities’ aspiration for dignified and just treatment rather than an open-ended war against them.

There is hope, as long as we continue fighting. Regardless of the retaliation and intimidation tactics [the government] uses against us, we won’t give up.”

Top Photo | A mural at the Casa Padre migrant children’s shelter in Brownsville, Texas, with a quote – in English and Spanish – from Donald Trump’s 1987 book, The Art of the Deal. Source | Department of Health and Human Services

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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‘Thank God for Russia!’ Remembering when London and Moscow were allies – By RT

1941 British newspaper

© Neil Clark

In the present geopolitical climate, the idea of a pact between the UK and Russia seems far-fetched to say the least. But in the summer of 1941 the two did come together against a common foe.

What lessons can be learned from the ‘Anglo-Russian agreement’ which played a key part in the defeat of Nazi Germany?

The date: Monday, July 14, 1941. The headline of the News Chronicle (price, one penny), states: ‘Britain and Soviet Sign Pact.’ Such a headline would have been unthinkable a few years previously. The British Conservative Party, the dominant member of the ‘National’ government which ruled Britain from 1931-1940, had been fiercely opposed on ideological grounds to the Bolshevik government in Moscow.

It was Tory leader and Prime Minister Winston Churchill who, 13 years earlier, had supported giving aid to the Russian armies who were fighting what he called “the foul baboonery of Bolshevism.”

When it came to expressing his views on Soviet communism, it’s fair to say that Churchill didn’t hold back. He compared Lenin, the father of the Russian revolution, to “a culture of typhoid or of cholera.” Yet here, in 1941, the British – led by Churchill, and the Soviets, were sinking their ideological differences and agreeing to support each other in every possible way against ‘Hitlerite Germany’ – and undertaking that neither would negotiate nor conclude an armistice or peace treaty except by mutual agreement.

Churchill had shown commendable pragmatism, something which too many of today’s leaders seem to lack. “No one has been a more consistent opponent of communism for the last 25 years,” he declared in a broadcast on June 22, the date on which the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. “But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding…The Russian danger is therefore our danger, and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for hearth and house is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe.”

Could you imagine a neocon politician uttering words such as these today?

The historic agreement of July 12 was signed in Moscow by the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the UK Ambassador to the USSR, the Old Wykehamist Sir Stafford Cripps. One Joseph Stalin, and leading representatives of the British armed forces, were also present at the ceremony.

The agreement came at a time when the Soviets were in desperate need for assistance, as German forces continued to advance rapidly towards Moscow. Cripps urged Churchill to send supplies as soon as possible. Friction soon developed between Sir Stafford, who wanted more done to help the Soviet Union, and Churchill, who believed in prioritizing the Middle Eastern front.

The calls for a ‘second front’ in Europe to be opened up to take the pressure off the Soviets, and which Stalin himself had demanded, steadily grew.

The Soviet Union became very popular in Britain, and indeed in the neutral US – where the News Chronicle reported that 72 percent hoped that the Russians would win.

In his book, The Road to 1945, Paul Addison notes how the German invasion of the Soviet Union came at a time when it was difficult for the British, who had stood alone against the Nazis during the Blitz of 1940/1, to see how victory could be achieved. But that all changed when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa. Addison records how ‘Home Intelligence’ captured the national mood on February 3, 1942: “Thank God for Russia’ is a frequent expression of the very deep and fervent feeling for that country which permeates wide sections of the public.”

Churchill, while welcoming the fact that Britain had a ‘co-belligerent,’ was, however, worried that the people’s admiration for the gallant Soviet war effort would go too far and lead to increased support for communist ideas at home.

He instructed the Ministry of Information “to consider what action was required to counter the present tendency of the British public to forget the dangers of Communism in their enthusiasm over the resistance of Russia.”

“The official authorities would have liked to depoliticise enthusiasm for Russia by concentrating on the military, patriotic and anodyne aspects of Russian life, but in practice this was very difficult,” says Addison. “The two politicians who presented themselves to the public in 1942 as champions of Russia, Cripps and (Lord) Beaverbrook, were both convinced anti-communists. But both found themselves singing the praises of the Soviet system.”

As I noted in an earlier OpEd, Lord Beaverbrook, a right-wing newspaper magnate, could not have been more effusive in his praise for the Soviet Union and its leader.

“Communism under Stalin has produced the most valiant fighting army in Europe. Communism under Stalin has provided us with examples of patriotism equal to the finest annals of history. Communism under Stalin has won the applause and admiration of all the Western nations. Communism under Stalin has produced the best generals in this war,” Beaverbook wrote.

Can you imagine Rupert Murdoch or Lord Rothermere saying the same things about Putin and Russia, today?

It’s worth noting too that the US, when it was still neutral, was urging Britain to improve supplies to Russia. Was anyone claiming then that FDR was a secret Kremlin agent, as they say about Trump in 2018?

In the end, British supplies to the Soviet Union in the second half of 1941 and 1942, transported via the dangerous Arctic shipping routes, did play an important part in checking the seemingly unstoppable Nazi advance. Britain supplied urgently needed tanks, aircraft and machine tools. Overall between 3.5 and 4 million tons of cargo were delivered, greatly boosting the Soviet war effort. In May 1942, the Anglo-Soviet agreement was strengthened still further with the signing of an Anglo-Soviet Treaty, which established a formal military and political alliance.

Those who served on the ‘front line’ of this alliance have not been forgotten. In May 2015, Russian medals were presented to the Scottish veterans of the Arctic convoys on Victory Day. “The Russians have always been so kind to us. I spent two months in Russia, and your people shared everything they had with me, although they didn’t have much for themselves. I would be ready to do something for you again, whatever you ask,”said veteran James Osler.

In August 2016, five more British Arctic convoy veterans were honored by Russia.

While in October that year, the 75th anniversary of the Arctic convoys was marked at a special event in Liverpool.

Looking back at the World War II co-operation between Britain and the Soviet Union, and the positive difference it made to the course of world history, should make us ask the question: If then, why not now?

Why can’t British politicians chart a new course in relations with Russia and seek to work together with Moscow on areas which should be of common concern, such as countering terrorism, dealing with climate change and bringing a lasting peace to the Middle East? Do we really need a Nazi threat to make our leaders come to their senses and drop their old hostilities?

Let’s leave the last word to the News Chronicle, a newspaper whose humane and common sense approach to world affairs, is greatly missed today. In its editorial of July 14, 1941, entitled ‘Pray Silence,’ it declared: “So, by the devious and paradoxical routes which current history has adopted, what many of us hoped two years ago would happen and some hoped, successfully, might be avoided, has now come to pass. It is a miraculous gift. The unexpected has happened…No question of ideologies is relevant. Two great peoples find themselves fighting for their lives against the same ruthless enemy. That is the only thing that matters and it is tremendous.”

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

Strategic partnership between Russia and Indonesia in the Asia Pacific – Dmitry Bokarev Oriental Review (SOTT)

Russian jets

For some time now, Russia has been strengthening its position in Southeast Asia by developing partnerships with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states, including Indonesia.

The Republic of Indonesia is a country with a number of unique characteristics. It is the largest island nation surrounded by both the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Indonesia is located on a strategically important part of the shipping route between Europe and Asia: between the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula lies the Strait of Malacca, used to transport up to a quarter of all the goods shipped by sea in the world. Besides, Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, which facilitates ties in the Islamic world. Hence, Russia benefits from a partnership with Indonesia in a number of ways, even outside the scope of its cooperation with ASEAN as a whole.

Russia and Indonesia have had friendly relations since the times of the USSR. Soviet – Indonesian diplomatic relations were established in 1950 when the Soviet Union provided development aid to the newly established Republic of Indonesia. In the 1950s and 1960s, the USSR supplied the Indonesian army with weapons and military equipment, including dozens of war ships, submarines, airplanes, helicopters, tanks, missiles and ammunition exceeding $1 billion in value. Aside from this, at the end of the 1950s, thousands of Soviet military servicemen visited Indonesia with the aim of training their Indonesian counterparts on the use of the delivered military supplies. In the 1960s, the USSR helped Indonesia win its territorial dispute with its former colonial power, Holland. Despite help from other Western nations, the Netherlands had to cede part of the New Guinea island to Indonesia.

map of Indonesia

© Google Maps

After a military coup and a subsequent change of leadership in Indonesia in 1965, the relationship between the Republic of Indonesia and the USSR took a long-term turn for the worse. At the end of the 1980s, the relations improved once again, but the collapse of the USSR that followed decreased the levels of cooperation. Russia and Indonesia started to restore their ties in full in the nineties.

In 2003, Indonesia and Russia signed the Joint Declaration of Friendship and Partnership in the 21st century. After this, frequency in the high-level exchanges between them increased, and the two sides have continued to strengthen their cooperation in various spheres, such as agriculture, tourism, education, science, technology, construction, space exploration, resource extraction, energy production and security. Bilateral trade is also growing in volume. In 2017, it reached more than $3.2 billion, which is 25% higher than that in 2016. Negotiations are ongoing on establishing a free trade zone between Indonesia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU or EAEU), whose key member is the Russian Federation.

The level of cooperation between the two nations is especially noteworthy in the sphere of military technology and security. Russia and Indonesia are actively engaged in a dialogue on terrorism and piracy in the region. They have conducted joint military exercises on several occasions aimed at refining the necessary skills for resolving these issues. Large stable shipments of Russian weapons and military hardware to Indonesia resumed in 1997. In 2007, Russia and the Republic of Indonesia signed a long-term agreement on supplying Russian weaponry to the Indonesian military. Soon after, in 2008, the Russian Federation provided a credit line to Indonesia for the purchase of weaponry exceeding $1 billion in value. Currently Russia, as in the Soviet times, is Indonesia’s main military equipment supplier.

In August 2017, the Russian Federation and Indonesia signed an agreement laying out the terms for the future contract on the purchase of a batch of Russian Su-35 fighter jets by Indonesia. According to the agreement, Russia is prepared to supply Indonesia with 11 air planes exceeding $1 billion in value. Indonesia will pay for part of the purchase in cash and the remainder in raw materials, such as tea, coffee and palm oil. Both sides are satisfied with the terms of the deal and are ready to sign the final contract.

During the same month, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, and Retno Marsudi, Head of Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took part in a meeting resulting in the decision to increase collaboration between the Russian and Indonesian security forces to combat the threat from the Islamic terrorist organization Daesh (banned in the RF).

A collaboration on issues of security and military hardware is a clear sign of a high degree of trust between the two nations. If this is indeed true, the length and scope of the Russia – Indonesia cooperation in these spheres points to an enormous level of mutual understanding and trust between these two nations.

In December 2017, two strategic Russian bombers TU-95MS landed at the Indonesian airport in Biak on completion of their patrol of the neutral waters of the Pacific ocean. Many experts viewed this event as a signal, sent by the two nations to the rest of the world, that cooperation between Russia and Indonesia reached new heights. Aside from this, it is a sign of Russia’s increasing presence in Southeast Asia.

A new meeting between Lavrov and his Indonesian counterpart Marsudi took place on 13 March in 2018. The Russian minister said that the talks were constructive and covered a range of bilateral issues including topics that are global and regional in nature. He also stated that the meeting included a discussion about Russia’s and Indonesia’s willingness to transform their cooperation into a strategic partnership and that the countries are in the process of working on the declaration to that effect.

Unquestionably, the issues of Russia – Indonesia cooperation is crucial for the whole Asia Pacific. Malacca Strait’s western coastline belongs to Indonesia, a large powerful nation, which receives significant financial benefits from regional shipping traffic. In turn, the Republic of Indonesia (along with both Malaysia and Singapore, also located on the strait’s coastline) is responsible for maintaining security along this sea route, which is a key maritime passage on our planet.

One of the main problems this region has faced for the longest time is piracy. Recently, some experts have also started talking about the increasing terrorist threat around the Strait of Malacca. The USA hopes to control the Malacca Strait under the pretext of ensuring security along its shipping routes. As far back as 2004, the US received a brusque rejection from Malaysia and Indonesia in response to its offer to station US military personnel in the strait. Currently, at a time of substantial escalation in the confrontation between the US and China over control of the Asia Pacific region, the role of the Malacca Strait has increased in importance. Just as the US, PRC wishes to see its naval forces there. In the meantime, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are determined to defend their territorial waters. Fortunately, an armed confrontation is out of the question; however, supplying Indonesia with modern Russian equipment and training its military by RF personnel make a substantial contribution to Indonesia’s as well as the rest of the region’s peace of mind. Russia, thanks to its cooperation with countries such as Indonesia, India, Laos and Vietnam, is in turn becoming a powerful player in the Asia Pacific region and holds a beneficial position in strategically important regions for global trade and transport.

Dmitry Bokarev, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

Comment: New power structures rising to challenge Western dominance: How Singapore, Astana and St. Petersburg view a new world order

The Elite: Not on your side now and never will be – By Kurt Schlichter -Townhall (SOTT)

trump group of 7 summit G7

I guess I should just be quiet and let the liberal establishment continue to attack President Trump for refusing to submit to the demands of a bunch of foreigners. As Napoleon warned, perhaps apocryphally but accurately, never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. And it is crazy to think that the American people are going to punish a president who sides with them over that schnitzel-snarfing frau, Monsieur les Eyebrows, and the rest of the globalist twits.

Oh, and let’s not even get started on how they can’t help but manufacture reasons why Trump shouldn’t take a chance on avoiding a war that would lead to thousands of Normal American families burying sons and daughters. Yeah, shaking Rocket Man’s hand is pretty much Munich 2: The EnNorkening.

But I shouldn’t complain. It’s getting so the elite needs to register their activities as in-kind contributions to the Trump 2020 campaign.

Who thinks Normal Americans will be mad about Trump fulminating over how we are putting our cash and our blood on the line against Putin for the Europeans and they won’t even meet the piddly 2% defense spending level they promised? One of the elite’s favorite fallbacks is that demanding our allies carry their own rucksacks for once is totally playing into Vlad’s hands. How? Reasons. And because.

Putin is the all-purpose boogie man now, though the transnational liberal elite was perfectly happy to suck up to him until he became more useful as a pumped-up threat than as a cash cow. A half mil for a speech? Seems legit. Uranium One, anybody? Cool. Weird how the fussbudgets who were AWOL during the real Cold War don’t seem upset about that stuff, only about stuff that involves taking America’s side.

Who does the elite side with?

Not America.

Never America.

I say we should side with ourselves. So does the president.

I keep asking the establishment shills why America has some moral obligation to tolerate foreign countries imposing higher tariffs upon us than we impose upon them. Seems facially unfair, right? So, there’s got to be a really good reason because how can you support our working people facing a higher obstacle to trade than the foreigners do? I’m just wondering what’s wrong with a level playing field. Fair is fair, right? But I never get a good answer.

Oh, I do get responses. Most of them are weakly snarky tweets informing me that I don’t know anything about economics. The rest are a smorgasbord of puny personal attacks. But no one can seem to tell me why we have some sort of moral duty to engage in trade relationships with other countries that are not precisely equal. Maybe I am an idiot like they say, but calling me one doesn’t answer the question.

I don’t like tariffs. I like free trade. But in what world is free trade free when we are only free to face higher tariffs than our competitor countries? Apparently, in the world of the liberal transnational globalist elite. They are citizens of the world, you know.

I’m a citizen of the United States. How about you?

And I thought collusion with foreign leaders to influence American policy was wrong. Yet all I see are liberals, their Fredocon travelers, and their media minions commiserating with outsiders, with foreigners, against the guy who Normal Americans elected as the president. Collusion, if you will, to change American policy to what foreigners want. Gosh, it’s almost as if all this talk about collusion was a bunch of baloney from the word go.

No wonder the Normals are getting militant.

Actually, the elite doesn’t think they are really colluding with outsiders. They are colluding with insiders, their real constituency, the like-minded elites across the globe. They don’t represent the United States. They don’t care about the United States. And they don’t care about the people of the United States. That is not whose interests they are seeking to protect.

When your job gets shipped to Oaxaca so somebody who looks like Mitt Romney can import the products you used to make back into the USA, don’t look to the elite to care. Care? They’ll applaud.

They are seeking to ensure their own gravy train doesn’t get derailed. This is why they tell you, in between informing you how stupid you are, that there are only a few tariffs out there and they don’t matter. Well, they sure as heck don’t matter to these think tank jockeys and media scribblers. They are not the guys getting up at 4 a.m. to milk the cows or to harvest the soybeans the tariffs target. They’ve never worked on a vehicle assembly line in their lives, so what’s it matter to them if Germany’s tariff on US cars is four times ours to theirs? Of course, the tariffs on US products don’t matter to the elite. They aren’t the guys who lose their jobs when their company picks up and moves to Vietnam.

I don’t like tariffs. I’d tear them all down, everywhere, just like Trump proposed. But the elite isn’t for that. It’s only against tariffs we impose to retaliate for the tariffs the foreigners impose.

And the elite are now apparently against peace talks, but they aren’t the ones who would fight the war Donald Trump is trying to prevent in North Korea. Turns out peace talks have been terrible since January 2017. Who knew?

Donald Trump is a disruptor. He is disrupting the fat, arrogant, and corrupt elite and the web of self-dealing it has spun over the last seven decades. Is Trump putting at risk everything that’s been built in the last 70 years? I sure hope so. Because the system that was built over the last 70 years is no longer working for all of us. It’s working really well for a few of us, but that’s just not enough anymore.

We’re woke. We’re militant. And the tan, tweeting reckoning that is Donald Trump is at hand.

Kurt Schlichter (Twitter: @KurtSchlichter) was personally recruited to write conservative commentary by Andrew Breitbart. He is a successful Los Angeles trial lawyer, a veteran with a masters in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College, and a former stand-up comic.

Concerning the persecution and censorship against Santiago Cúneo: DAIA-AMIA as devices of the Anglo-Zionist invasion of Argentina – by Leo del Grosso for the Latin American Saker blog


by  Leo del Grosso for the Latin American Saker blog

translated from the original Spanish by Ana for the Saker blog

On May 5, the following statement was distributed to the public opinion in Buenos Aires, Argentina: “The DAIA, Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations, reports that its Board of Directors has requested the resignation of its president, Ariel Cohen Sabban, due to facts of public knowledge. The 1st Vice-president, Dr. Alberto Indij, will assume the presidency of the entity “. Signature: Board of Directors of DAIA.

What are these facts of “public knowledge”? An attempt of extortion and sexual abuse, in the best style of the Anglo-American Harvey Weinstein, against the daughter of the editor of the newspaper La Nación, Esmeralda Miter. The newspaper La Nación is a traditional member of the well-known “prostitute press”, which acts as a bishop of the Anglo-Saxon Empire interests and, obviously, has been part of the main supporters, together with Clarín and Infobae, of the Mauricio Macri’s sepoy government. It happened that Esmeralda Miter, a “good girl”, macrist (for Macri supporter, NdT), on her way of becoming a ” TV star”, made some statements questioning the number of Jews executed by the Nazi regime. Textually, she said: “It’s like what happened with the Holocaust, they said it was 6 million but maybe it was not so many”. Unlike her ex-husband, former macrista official Darío Lopérfido, who was immediately summoned by the Inquisition Court of Holocaust Church *Merchants of the Temple*, aka the DAIA, so that he could retract as soon as he questioned the number of missing people during Videla’s sepoy and vendetta dictatorship. The squeeze, because that’s what the meeting behind closed doors was about between Esmeralda Miter and the DAIA, lasted for an hour and a half and, according to her own statements she sat on the bench of the accused, and it was “very hard.” Afterwards, as reported by a TV show, the level of disorientation of Miter Esmeralda was remarkable: it was evident that she repeated, over and ovevr, the script that was forced on her by the inquisitors. But this was not nearly all: the president of the DAIA at that time (mid April), Ariel Cohen Sabban, veteran satyr always alert to abuse women, saw in Esmeralda Miter, who was recently separated from Lopérfido, a vulnerable prey he could extort economically and abuse sexually. This is how he asked Esmeralda for a private meeting, in her apartment, in order to “comfort her”.

Here is what Miter denounced to have happened during that meeting: ​​”He touched my chest and he wanted to kiss me.” First in the neck and then on the mouth, so I just run away and eluded him. Then I stood up from the armchair and told him he should leave, because I had another meeting agreed in my house too “. Later on, she added: “The situation had become violent and at some point he said ‘stay calm, that I’m not going to catch you.’ A very unpleasant situation.” But the worst thing of all is not this eschatological situation, but how it is evident that the Zionists trade with the victims of the Nazi regime: “He told me that as payback for the damage of my statements I had to travel to Germany with 10 or 12 students to go visit concentration camps and additionally visit the Holocaust Museum. He said it would cost me about 80 thousand dollars to which I replied that I did not have that money. He then replied that I could pay in installments “. I have transcripted the statements of Esmeralda Miter literally because they are irreplaceably and illustrative of the level of indignity and vileness exercised by these “temple merchants”, the Anglo-Saxons, not only in Argentina, but throughout the world, since their modus operandi is always and everywhere the same.

This decadent saga shows the rottenness of an institution that is holder of the Jewish Argentine Appeal described as follows by former executive director of the DAIA, Jorge Elbaum: “the descending paths do not express themselves only in scandalous cases (such as the Cohen Sabbán) in which a pretended Alpha male takes advantage of the vulnerability of a woman who comes from being subjected to public derision as a result of her ignorance and oligarchic training. This marks the make-up and farsighted continuity of an institution that claims to be what it is not (representative of Argentine-Jews), which claims to do what it does not do (fight against all forms of discrimination) and claims to be apolitical when it is a clear boxcar of tail (sometimes locomotive) of the current version of the Argentine right, the PRO “.

But Elbaum falls short and Santiago Cúneo – who also has, same as Elbaum as former executive director of the DAIA, a past with spots he cannot be proud of (i.e. Cuneo was intimately related to Menem, , for business reasons and propagandizes the unprovable hypothesis that Nisman was assassinated, he also called to vote for Macri and recently participated in defamation against North Korea, among other reprehensible performances) – puts things in place by drawing attention to the members of the DAIA as agents of a foreign State such as the Racist State of Israel. Basically, saying “Argentinian right” or “agents of foreign governments”, comes to be the same, in practice. Or, can anyone deny that the Argentinian right has always been the executor, beyond patriotic words, of policies for the benefit of imperialism? But, what comes to be the same in practice, does not exactly mean the same, as it is much clearer and stronger what Cúneo is saying than what Elbaum said: those who are part of DAIA, like everyone in Macri’s government, are agents of an occupation government, of a government totally at the service of other States, for the destruction of Argentinian Nation. That is true, appropriate and essential to say, because it marks the true terms of the main contradiction faced by Argentinians today.

And these foreign agents, forced to face Santiago Cúneo’s correctly incendiary diatribes (in a language often coarse but not deceptive for that matter) have acted as they have been acting with everyone: with tightening, with extortion, with threat, in the same way that the directive council of the DAIA did against Esmeralda Miter, who is a macrista, just like they are and who, in addition, in its eagerness to ingratiate herself with these swine torturers, reached the pathetic point of overacting by saying: “In my opinion, the Jewish community is superior and I wish these were my origins “. This is how the DAIA, a few days after being well represented by the satyr Cohen Sabban (who was asked to resign only to save face), announces that he will initiate criminal proceedings against Santiago Cúneo, whom they obviously accuse of anti-Semitism (what else?) and of pursue of demonizing the Racist State of Israel (as if at all necessary to “demonize”, and as if their diabolical crimes were not already disclosed by themselves), of associating Jews with money and imperialist intentions (Israel , its tentacles like DAIA in Argentina and men as “Satyr” Sabban are the worst possible advertising for Jews – more information on Cohen Sabban and DAIA in this link), of reinstating the denunciation of the “Andinia Plan “(a plan for Anglo-Israeli colonization of whole Patagonia, part of which is proven that the Racist State of Israel pays vacation is Patagonia to its soldiers after they finish military service), of accusing double loyalty in the case of bombings of AMIA premises (DAIA and AMIA always acted as cover-up for the perpetrators of the attacks against the Israeli embassy and against the DAIA-AMIA building, a cover-up denounced by all associations of relatives of the victims of the attacks and the legal cases in which the former directors of the DAIA, such as Rubén Beraja, financial delinquent who bankrupted Banco Mayo and defrauded all its depositors) are completely ingrate and of “impairment of the dignity of an entire community”.

To DAIA, it is not the behavior of Israel what generates hatred against Jews. To DAIA, not the proceeding of Macri, a pawn of the Anglo-Saxon Empire and agent of international usury who has among his most prominent bankers many Jews, are what generates hatred against Jews. To DAIA, it is not the behavior of the DAIA and AMIA members themselves what generate hatred against Jew, although both were masqueraders of massacres against Argentines largely belonging to the “community” (“and what disguise will we use if the judge checks that they have nothing to do?” asked a few years ago a frightened Guillermo Borger, acting president of the AMIA at that time, to Héctor Timerman, former chancellor of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, facing the perspective that out of the memorandum signed between Argentina and Iran it was demonstrated that the Persian nation had nothing what to do with the attacks in Buenos Aires).

Of course, all honest and well-intentioned people are not to make easy generalizations, nor are they indifferent to punishing innocents instead of true culprits. The DAIA and Macri and the IMF, because they are all part of the same conspiracy, constitute an occupation government that seeks to subject the Argentines to imperialist domination, to tear the country apart and plunder its immense natural resources (Islas Malvinas, Atlántico Sur, Patagonia, Guaraní Aquifer , Antarctica Argentina, etc.), all of which Santiago Cúneo argues very well, an occupation government that does not care about Argentines, Jews, or Esmeralda Miter, or anyone else; an occupation government with a war plan that has to come into execution.

And because of saying this, with clarity, with reasoning, with irrefutable arguments, and also with anger, the anger of those who have totally lost patience, that Santiago Cuneo today is being threatened by DAIA, and that Santiago Cuneo had to leave his program in Crónica TV and has had to start transmitting from his own channel on the web, in order to continue expressing himself, running the same fate also ran by journalists like Roberto Navarro, Víctor Hugo Morales, and many more. But the world is getting tired of Anglo-Saxon supramacists: more and more are joining against them, as was seen in Buenos Aires with the one million people who, on May 25th, attended the politico-cultural act of vindication of the May Revolution under the slogan “the Homeland is in danger, not the IMF.” They were present there, from Jorge Elbaum to Santiago Cúneo, from the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo to the general secretaries of several workers’ union organizations that are preparing a general strike, from the youngest without work to the retired ones that do not have enough to pay for their medicines. It is true. Argentina is in danger. Anglos are attacking her with the tactic of the trojan horse, hiding behind any mask, be it religious, cultural, or pseudo-nationalist. Unmasking them is fundamental. This is what Cúneo did in an absolutely frontal and raw way and that is why, beyond differences or coincidences, he deserves decided solidarity.

Here is the original video in Spanish: (alas, no English subtitles available, sorry!)

Afterword by The Saker: Santiago Cúneo’s case is very interesting because I strongly believe that cases like this one will happen again and again and in other countries.  The reason for that is simple: the infinite arrogance of the pro-Israeli lobbies is truly pissing people off who eventually don’t care and simply blow up in anger against this arrogance.  Think of it this way: the Israeli propaganda machine is engaged in truly herculean efforts to make everybody cheer Israel or silence them by by hook or by crook.  We see that in every western country for sure, and in many others too.  Just check out this completely Orwellian story from Myanmar: https://www.rt.com/news/428267-israel-myanmar-education-antisemitism/.  Of course, in their hubris and arrogance the Zionists completely failed to realize that they provoke the exact opposite effect: eventually people, especially those capable of critical thinking, begin loathing Israel and Zionism, and then the latter appeal to “anti-Semitism” or the “Holocaust” they just make everybody even more angry.

For all their external successes, I think that the Israelis and their Zionist supporters are already losing the battle due to their arrogance and total inability to understand the human nature.  The only question is, as always, the violence and horrors they will inflict on the world before their inevitable downfall.

But in the meantime, heed my words, other “Santiago Cúneo” will pop-up in other countries, like mushrooms after the rain.

The Saker

Israel’s secret assassinations – By Rod Such (The Electronic Intifada)

Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations by Ronen Bergman, Random House (2018)

Israeli television recently aired a video of two Israeli soldiers filming themselves in the act of shooting a Palestinian protester at the Gaza boundary while cheering. Filming one’s own crimes against humanity – shooting Palestinians for sport – suggests a sense of security in never being held accountable.

Even more evidence of this impunity is apparent in Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations by veteran Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, staff writer for The New York Times Magazine.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court might want to consider this book Exhibit A if Israeli government and military officials are ever indicted for war crimes. It contains open admissions of guilt in plotting and executing extralegal assassinations in violation of international law.

“Since World War II, Israel has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world,” Bergman writes. In many cases, these so-called targeted killings over the last two decades also involved the deaths of nearly a thousand bystanders, according to Bergman’s calculations – those numbers, however, fail to include the tens of thousands killed in overt acts of war and collective punishment that mostly go unmentioned in this book.

That Israeli officials were willing to be quoted and identify others by name implies a certainty of never being held accountable in a court of law. Consider, for example, the instruction given by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Avi Dichter, at that time Shin Bet’s director, in reference to Hamas. Sharon, in an open admission of intent to commit genocide, stated: “Go for it. Kill them all.”

It was not just assassinations. Bergman writes, “‘state security’ was used to justify a large number of actions and operations that, in the visible world, would have been subject to criminal prosecution and long prison terms: constant surveillance of citizens because of their ethnic or political affiliations; interrogation methods that included prolonged detention without judicial sanction, and torture; perjury in the courts and concealment of the truth from counsel and judges.”

Rise and Kill First details the lengthy history of Israeli political assassination, dating back to British Mandate Palestine. It includes the period of the so-called Border Wars (a term used by historian Benny Morris in his book Israel’s Border Wars, 1949-1956), the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1960s, the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon in the 1970s, the first and second intifadas in the occupied territories beginning in the 1980s and the ongoing military campaigns against Hizballah, Syria and Iran (the so-called Radical Front) that continue today.

As the decades went on, assassinations became increasingly frequent, in part due to improved surveillance through drones and computer technology, enabling intelligence agencies to carry out hundreds of operations per year as opposed to only a few previously.

“Collateral damage”

The book’s title derives from the Talmudic command that a person has the right to “rise and kill first” as a preemptive measure.

This concept formed both the moral and legal basis for the policy, which many human rights groups consider invalid under international law because execution without trial makes a mockery of due process and erases the distinction between combatants and civilians. Many of the victims were political and even religious figures who were most likely not involved in planning attacks against Israel, Bergman asserts.

The Haganah – the paramilitary precursor to the Israeli army – defined assassinations as “personal terror operations,” targeting leaders of the Palestinian national movement. After 1948 all of Israel’s intelligence agencies, including the military intelligence department Aman, the Mossad and Shin Bet, became involved in extralegal killings.

The assassination policy allowed for the murders of Palestinians and other Arabs simply because they were part of the resistance against Israeli settler colonialism.

The people killed to avenge the holding of hostages and deaths of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, for example, indicate that Israeli intelligence simply picked out leaders or representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization, not those directly involved in the Black September group that planned the abduction. Palestinian Wael Zuaiter, who was translating One Thousand and One Nights from Arabic to Italian while living in Rome and serving as a local PLO representative, was one of the murder victims, as was a misidentified Moroccan waiter living in Lillehammer, Norway.

That a racist code existed is undeniable, particularly given the distinction Israeli intelligence officials often made between “collateral damage” involving Arabs and non-Arabs: If Arab bystanders or family members might be killed, the operation was still likely to be given the go-ahead; if non-Arab bystanders might die, it was to be avoided. As Bergman notes, “as long as the targets were located in enemy countries, and as long as the innocent civilians were Arabs, the finger on the trigger became quicker.”

Israeli government and intelligence officials even planned the downing of commercial airliners in the hope of assassinating leading PLO officials. Although the plan was never implemented, Israeli officials developed an elaborate scheme to shoot down such aircraft in radar-free zones over the Mediterranean Sea so that discovery of the wreckage would be more difficult and the crime conceivably concealed.

News accounts seized on a separate incident detailed by Bergman in which the planned downing of an aircraft believed to be carrying PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat was narrowly averted in 1982. The plane was carrying wounded Palestinian children, and Arafat was not aboard.

Missing the point

Many of Bergman’s revelations are so shocking that one wonders why an apparently loyal Israeli journalist would expose them. But he is hardly the first reporter to venture into the realm of exposing the secrets of intelligence agencies, even if they tarnish the state’s carefully cultivated image.

The rationale is usually that the documented crimes represent “mistakes” that the exposé hopefully corrects without fundamentally challenging the nature of the state that carries them out. This journalistic genre largely misses the point. Intelligence agencies are not gatherers of information to protect state security, but are rather covert actors engaged in implementing the state’s hegemonic ambitions by any means necessary.

Intelligence agencies protect their secrets. It’s the rare journalist who can ferret them out by diligent investigation.

Most often, intelligence or government officials themselves leak secrets because of policy disagreements, splits within ruling factions or political ambitions. Bergman acknowledges this fact and makes it obvious that his principal source was the late Meir Dagan, an army general who became head of the Mossad under Israeli prime ministers Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Unfortunately, Bergman is little more than a transcriber, bringing minimal analysis or historical background. For example, Dagan’s covert program to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists is cited as a better method than overt military action to halt Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. The diplomatic negotiations that resulted in an international agreement and a rigorous inspections regime for Iran’s nuclear program are simply ignored.

The book has numerous other failings as well, including giving short shrift to the efforts of Israeli human rights organizations to halt extrajudicial killings and framing the Israeli narrative in a way that omits the numerous acts of collective punishment carried out against the Palestinian people since 1948. The words “collective punishment” appear only once in its 784 pages in reference to a home demolition.

Omitted are references to Deir Yassin and the dozens of other massacres that occurred during the Nakba of 1948-49, the massacre at Khan Younis in 1956, the numerous military provocations Israel carried out in Syria’s Golan Heights prior to the 1967 war and Israel’s flagrant violations of the ceasefires with Hamas in Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014 that resulted in the deaths of thousands, including children.

Rendition and torture

To his credit, however, Bergman does delineate the similarities between the Israeli and US intelligence agencies, including recruiting journalists as spies, setting up false-front organizations to interfere in other countries, working with ex-Nazis and helping identify left-wing political activists under authoritarian regimes for the purpose of having them tortured or murdered.

Aman’s Unit 504, which engaged in kidnappings, anticipated the CIA’s rendition and torture program following the 11 September 2001 attacks. And Bergman makes it clear that both former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley under President George W. Bush approved and supported the Israeli assassination policy.

Ultimately, the belief in the effectiveness of extrajudicial executions rests on the idea that individuals, not social forces, make history: Eliminate a single person and history is changed. Following the killing of a Hizballah leader, Bergman reports that some in Israeli intelligence came to recognize that “Hizballah wasn’t one-man’s guerrilla force – it was a movement … a legitimate grassroots social movement.”

Bergman makes the dramatic claim that Israel’s intelligence agencies, having come to realize the futility of an assassination policy against Palestinian resistance, embrace the two-state solution, leaving them at odds (though “quietly”) with the current Netanyahu government. Dagan, in particular, appeared to have been motivated to leak some of Israel’s most damaging secrets due to a rift with Netanyahu over his opposition to a Palestinian state.

The likelihood of an eventual binational state if the two-state solution failed was an outcome that Dagan feared more than anything. In one of his last remarks at an Israeli political rally, Dagan explained his worries: “I do not want a binational state. I do not want an apartheid state. I do not want to rule over three million Arabs. I do not want us to be hostages of fear, despair and deadlock.”

After reading Rise and Kill First, one wonders: Had Dagan lived, would he have ordered the assassinations of those advocating a binational democratic state?

Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is active with the Occupation-Free Portland campaign.

 

In Yemen, Selling, Borrowing, Begging To Save Loved-Ones as Cholera Rages – By Ahmed Abdulkareem (MINT PRESS)

A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

What is taking shape across this Texas-sized nation at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula is an awful, perfect storm, a disastrous collaboration between nature and man that has caused a cataclysm unlike anything the world has ever seen.

SANA’A, YEMEN — When his wife’s vomiting and diarrhea simply wouldn’t stop, 40-year-old Ali Sherwaid, an English teacher, did a quick accounting in his head, calibrating the catastrophe that had befallen him. With cholera ravaging his wife, 28 years-old and nine-months pregnant with the couple’s first child, Sherwaid needed to get her medical treatment. Problem was, the constant Saudi airstrikes had decimated the healthcare infrastructure in Yemen’s northern Sa’ada province, and his village of Fudh was at least 6 hours drive, on bad country roads, to the nearest hospital.

Compounding the crisis was the fact that Sherwaid had no money — Yemen’s civil servants haven’t been paid in months — and he had nothing to pay a doctor to treat his wife, Fatimah.

And so Sherwaid auctioned off his wife’s jewelry, borrowed money from neighbors, bundled his wife’s doubled-over frame into his car, and sped off in the night, headed for al Jomuri Hospital in the city of Sa’ada, some 80 miles away. Days later, as her health continued to break down, his wife was taken to Al Sabeen Hospital in Sana’a, the capital.

In an interview, Sherwaid told MintPress News:

When we finally reached the hospital, my wife was inching towards death.”

What is taking shape across this Texas-sized nation at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula is an awful, perfect storm, a disastrous collaboration between nature and man that has caused a cataclysm, unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Yemen’s is the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis and, when measured by the proportion of the population affected, it might well be the worst in a century. Since the armed conflict erupted in March of 2015, more than 10,000 Yemenis have died, and 22.2 million people — out of a total population of just under 28 million — are now in need of food, medicine, water and shelter. Of that number, 11.3 million — mostly women, children, and the elderly — are at risk of dying, according to international relief agencies.

A nurse cares for a malnourished boy at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

In addition to an aggressive bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and supported by the United States and the United Kingdom — targeting Yemen’s civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and clinics — the coalition’s blockade of Yemen’s land, sea and air routes has left more than 12 million people without wheat and other food staples. The combination of the blockade and bombing of Yemen’s electrical grid has left nearly 15 million Yemenis without access to health care, and 10 million are in jeopardy of losing access to potable water.

The shortage of potable water has driven Yemenis to drink from water sources polluted with their neighbors’ feces and urine, resulting in a cholera outbreak that is believed to have infected more people than any cholera epidemic in modern history. Since the spring of 2011,”nearly 1,490,000 cases of a particularly aggressive strain of the waterborne disease have been reported in Yemen,” Abdul Hakeem al-Kuhlani, general manager of the cholera observation unit in Sana’a said to a Journalist for MintPress; “tens of thousands have proven fatal.”

Even before the war, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East. The war has deepened poverty; millions of public-sector employees have gone months without a paycheck.

“Everything in Sa`ada has been destroyed by Saudi airstrikes,” Sherwaid told MintPress. “My wife, who is pregnant with our first child, contracted cholera; I didn’t have money and was forced to sell everything to save my wife and child.”  

 

The room of horrors

The cholera ward at Al Sabeen Hospital is a room of horrors. A dozen patients lie motionless in their beds; a couple watches their child take his last breath. A man vomits into a pan, his eyes dry and dazed. Patients’ families kneel in prayer to Allah. When Sherwaid arrived at the camp, the families welcomed him and helped his wife find a new bed. Saeed — a father of two children, ages six and nine, who are infected with cholera — whispers to Sherwaid: “I only want to see my two sons recover from cholera, and then we can celebrate.” He tells MintPress, “My youngest son Salem, six, was first infected, and then he transmitted the disease to his brother.”

“We expect to see a surge of cases during the rainy season,” Anton Camacho, lead author of a study on the epidemic published in The Lancet Global Health journal, told Reuters.

MSF`s cholera treatment center in Hajjah’s Abs, destroyed by Saudi airstrikes on June 11, 2018. Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News

The Saudi-led coalition targeted this particular center for the second time, and facilities managed by Doctors Without Borders have been targeted on six different occasions. According to a statement by the Ministry of Public Health and Population in Sana`a: “The U.S.-Saudi-led coalition deliberately undermines the health system,” in Yemen, and the “United States of America bears responsibility for these attacks.”

 

After attack on Hodeida, the humanitarian situation worsens

The Saudi-led coalition escalated its airstrikes on the city of Hodeida in western Yemen, which is the lone remaining supply line for the millions of Yemenis in the north who rely on foreign aid for food, fuel, medicine for cholera, and other necessities. The number of Yemenis in danger of starving to death could rise from 8.4 million currently to 18.4 million by December of this year, according to UN officials.

On May 6, 2018, national health authorities launched an oral cholera vaccination (OCV) campaign in cooperation with the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Almost 275,000 doses of OCV were administered in May across five priority districts in Aden, reaching nearly 70 percent of the target population.

A billboard raising awareness of the environmental campaign against cholera in the Tahrir district of Sanaa, June 11, 2018. Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News

For his part, Sherwaid gets a double-dose of horrible news: His unborn child died and his wife has an incurable kidney disease and will need dialysis for the rest of her life. Realizing it could be worse, Sherwaid says almost jubilantly: “Praise Allah.”

Top Photo | A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

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America’s Genocide in Yemen Starts Tuesday – By Eric ZUESSE (STRATEGIC ORDER FOUNDATION)

America’s Genocide in Yemen Starts Tuesday
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 12.06.2018

Eric ZUESSE

The Houthis in Yemen are expected to start being slaughtered en-masse on June 12th. The U.S.-Saudi-UAE plan is to destroy the Yemenese port city of Al Hudaydah, which is the only entry-way by which food reaches approximately seven million Shiites, members of the Houthi tribe, who occupy the western third of Yemen, and who had recently ruled all of Yemen. The U.S. provides the weapons and the training, and the United Arab Emirates supplies the pilots for this operation, which is financed mainly by the Saudis. The objective is to establish a joint UAE-Saudi-run government of Yemen.

On Monday, June 11th, the New York Times bannered “U.N. Pulls Out of City in Yemen, Fearing Bloody Assault by Arab Coalition”. That report didn’t mention that this is America’s fundamentalist-Sunni coalition of Arab monarchies, using American weapons, in order to bomb and blockade, and now starve to death, approximately seven million Houthis, and that it’s part of a broader war in which the U.S. and Israel are allied with fundamentalist-Sunni monarchies, which are trying to conquer Shiite-run countries, especially Yemen, Syria, and ultimately Iran. The Houthis are Shia, not Sunni. On 24 October 2014, a Houthi leader was interviewed in Yemen Times, which reported: “Al-Bukhaiti does not think that ‘the Iranian system’ [a Shia theocracy] could ever be implemented in the country. Neither do the Houthis have any interest in bringing back the Imamate. Instead, he describes the Zaydi [their Shia] doctrine as ‘republican’ and the Houthi group as ‘liberal’.” None of America’s Islamic allies is even remotely like that description.

America’s alliance of fundamentalist-Sunni Arab monarchies call Iran especially an “existential threat” to themselves, because Iran, and Shiites generally, are opposed to monarchical governments, especially after 1979, when Iranians overthrew the U.S. CIA-installed (in 1953) Shah. And all of America’s allies in the Middle East, other than theocratic-Jewish apartheid Israel, are fundamentalist-Sunni monarchies.

The reason the U.N. is pulling out is to avoid being killed by these American missiles and bombs, which are expected to produce, by means of these UAE and Saudi proxy-fighters, a rare American victory in the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates are providing the U.S.-trained pilots, who will drop U.S. bombs from U.S. planes, so as to destroy Al Hudaydah, and thereby completely block any food from reaching the seven-to eight million food-stranded Houthi Shiites.

The New York Times report said, “Diplomats involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations say that the United Arab Emirates officially warned the British government on Friday that an attack on Al Hudaydah was imminent. The Emiratis said they would give three days for humanitarian workers and nongovernmental organizations to flee the city. The International Committee for the Red Cross removed its staff from the city over the weekend. … [The U.S. Secretary of State,] Mr. Pompeo said that in his conversation with the Emiratis he had made clear the United States’ ‘desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports,’ the statement said.”

On June 5th, Agence France Presse reported that, “More than 22 million people are now in serious need of aid, with 8.4 million on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.”

So, while the U.S. has approved this operation, the U.S. also has a “desire” to be “preserving the free flow of” food, and this suggests that the U.S. Government intends that the blame for the expected genocide will fall only upon America’s fundamentalist-Sunni royal partners, who are expected to be running Yemen afterward. Whatever “concerns” for “preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports” that the U.S. might have had, will, no doubt, show up during the starvation-operation, which will follow the bombardment of Al Hudaydah.

This mission is clearly important to the Trump Administration. The New York Times report closes: “American military officials do not want Congress to prevent military aid to the two nations [UAE and Saudi Arabia], both of which are crucial allies in counterterrorism, nor do they want a vacuum of power in Yemen to result in a new incubator for extremist groups like the Islamic State [which group is fundamentalist-Sunni, like America’s allies, the monarchs in UAE and Saudi Arabia, are] and Al Qaeda [which also is fundamentalist-Sunni]. Diplomats in the region say they believe that only more pressure from Washington will stop the planned assault.” The U.S. has instead given its allies the go-ahead to proceed.

Trump had said, when he campaigned for the Presidency in 2016, that he had opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, no record existed confirming that that had been so. In any case, there has been no indication of anything like such sentiments from him since he became President, and all of the people whom he has appointed to diplomatic and military posts have been consistent supporters of American invasions, including of Iraq. But this time around, the U.S. is not providing any of the actual troops.

Thus far in his Presidency, Trump has sold to the royal family of Saudi Arabia $400 billion in U.S.-made weapons and training. Additional billions have been sold to UAE. So, the war in Yemen is profitable for American firms such as Lockheed Martin. And no American is likely to get the blame. Perhaps Trump has learned something, after all, from the experience of George W. Bush. Trump is aspiring to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, had won. (After winning that, Obama bombed Libya in 2011, but Obama’s Prize was never retracted.) Perhaps Trump has sound reason to be optimistic.

washingtonsblog.com

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