Fueling murder: Britain to send £100mn in aid to war-torn Yemen while also selling £3bn in arms to Saudis – BY RT

© Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
Workers and journalists inspect damage at the Alsonidar Group’s water pumps and pipes factory one day after it was hit for the second time by Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen September 22, 2016.

Britain is to increase spending on humanitarian aid to war-torn Yemen while at the same time signing off multibillion-pound arms deals to Saudi Arabia, which stands accused of war crimes.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel announced Britain will send an additional £37 million (US$48 million) in aid to Yemen this year, bringing the total package to £100 million.

It comes as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson faces calls from two senior MPs to support an independent investigation into whether war crimes have been committed in the Yemen conflict.

Johnson has refused to block UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the government has rejected calls for a vote in Parliament on the matter.

The foreign secretary maintains there is no evidence international law has been violated in the Yemen conflict, where Saudi Arabia has led a coalition of nations fighting Houthi rebels since March last year.

Patel defended the UK’s weapons exports to Saudi Arabia – which totaled £3 billion last year – saying the government has a “robust policy and position” on arms controls.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Patel said: “People are suffering. There’s no water or clean sanitation, there is a public health crisis, children are dying, there is a need for food and shelter.”

She added that 19 million people lack access to water or sanitation, while 80 percent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The gesture was quickly criticized by Shadow International Development Secretary Kate Osamor, who said Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia “negate” development work in the region.

She called on the government to suspend arms sales to Riyadh until a full investigation has been carried out.

Her call has been echoed by two senior MPs who have urged Johnson to “to seize this opportunity and support the establishment of an international, independent mechanism under the auspices of the UN.”

Chris White, chairman of the Committees on Arms Export Controls, and International Development Committee Chair Stephen Twigg expressed hope an inquiry will “deter future violations of international humanitarian law as well as providing independent and conclusive evidence in relation to allegations that have been leveled at both sides of the conflict.”

The MPs say an inquiry is needed because of the staggering death toll in the conflict. Some 7,000 people are thought to have died, 1,100 of them children.

Comment: The US is also helping the Saudis: Human rights be damned: US Senate green lights $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia

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America’s Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953 – By Nicolas J.S. Davies / AlterNet

19 September 2016
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America’s Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953

U.S. efforts to overthrow foreign governments leave the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful.

Soon after the 2004 U.S. coup to depose President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, I heard Aristide’s lawyer Ira Kurzban speaking in Miami.  He began his talk with a riddle: “Why has there never been a coup in Washington D.C.?”  The answer: “Because there is no U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C.”  This introduction was greeted with wild applause by a mostly Haitian-American audience who understood it only too well.
Ukraine’s former security chief, Aleksandr Yakimenko, has reported that the coup-plotters who overthrew the elected government in Ukraine, “basically lived in the (U.S.) Embassy.  They were there every day.”  We also know from a leaked Russian intercept that they were in close contact with Ambassador Pyatt and the senior U.S. official in charge of the coup, former Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland, officially the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.  And we can assume that many of their days in the Embassy were spent in strategy and training sessions with their individual CIA case officers.
To place the coup in Ukraine in historical context, this is at least the 80th time the United States has organized a coup or a failed coup in a foreign country since 1953.  That was when President Eisenhower discovered in Iran that the CIA could overthrow elected governments who refused to sacrifice the future of their people to Western commercial and geopolitical interests.  Most U.S. coups have led to severe repression, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture, corruption, extreme poverty and inequality, and prolonged setbacks for the democratic aspirations of people in the countries affected.  The plutocratic and ultra-conservative nature of the forces the U.S. has brought to power in Ukraine make it unlikely to be an exception.
Noam Chomsky calls William Blum’s classic, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, “Far and away the best book on the topic.”  If you’re looking for historical context for what you are reading or watching on TV about the coup in Ukraine, Killing Hope will provide it.  The title has never been more apt as we watch the hopes of people from all regions of Ukraine being sacrificed on the same altar as those of people in Iran (1953); Guatemala(1954); Thailand (1957); Laos (1958-60); the Congo (1960); Turkey (1960, 1971 & 1980); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); South Vietnam (1963); Brazil (1964); the Dominican Republic (1963); Argentina (1963); Honduras (1963 & 2009); Iraq (1963 & 2003); Bolivia (1964, 1971 & 1980); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); Greece (1967); Panama (1968 & 1989); Cambodia (1970); Chile (1973); Bangladesh (1975); Pakistan (1977); Grenada (1983); Mauritania (1984); Guinea (1984); Burkina Faso (1987); Paraguay (1989); Haiti (1991 & 2004); Russia (1993); Uganda (1996);and Libya (2011).  This list does not include a roughly equal number of failed coups, nor coups in Africa and elsewhere in which a U.S. role is suspected but unproven.
The disquieting reality of the world we live in is that American efforts to destroy democracy, even as it pretends to champion it, have left the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful.  When Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, at the height of the genocidal American war on Iraq, he devoted much of his acceptance speech to an analysis of this dichotomy.  He said of the U.S., “It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good.  It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis… Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever.”
The basic framework of U.S. coups has hardly evolved since 1953.  The main variables between coups in different places and times have been the scale and openness of the U.S. role and the level of violence used.  There is a strong correlation between the extent of U.S. involvement and the level of violence.  At one extreme, the U.S. war on Iraq was a form of regime change that involved hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and killed hundreds of thousands of people.  On the other hand, the U.S. role in General Suharto’s coup in Indonesia in 1965 remained covert even as he killed almost as many people.  Only long after the fact didU.S. officials take credit for their role in Suharto’s campaign of mass murder, and it will be some time before they brag publicly about their roles in Ukraine.
But as Harold Pinter explained, the U.S. has always preferred “low-intensity conflict” to full-scale invasions and occupations.  The CIA and U.S. special forces use proxies and covert operations to overthrow governments and suppress movements that challenge America’s insatiable quest for global power.  A coup is the climax of such operations, and it is usually only when these “low-intensity” methods fail that a country becomes a target for direct U.S. military aggression.  Iraq only became a target for U.S. invasion and occupation after a failed CIA coup in June 1996.  The U.S. attacked Panama in 1989 only after five CIA coup attempts failed to remove General Noriega from power.  After long careers as CIA agents, both Hussein and Noriega had exceptional knowledge of U.S. operations and methods that enabled them to resist regime change by anything less than overwhelming U.S. military force.
But most U.S. coups follow a model that has hardly changed between 1953 and the latest coup in Ukraine in 2014.  This model has three stages:

1) Creating and strengthening opposition forces

In the early stages of a U.S. plan for regime change, there is little difference between the methods used to achieve it at the ballot box or by an anti-constitutional coup.  Many of these tools and methods were developed to install right-wing governments in occupied countries in Europe and Asia after World War II.  They include forming and funding conservative political parties, student groups, trade unions and media outlets, and running well-oiled propaganda campaigns both in the country being targeted and in regional, international and U.S. media.
Post-WWII Italy is a case in point.  At the end of the war, the U.S. used the American Federation of Labor’s agents in France and Italy to funnel money through non-communist trade unions to conservative candidates and political parties.  But socialists and communists won a plurality of votes in the 1946 election in Italy, and then joined forces to form the Popular Democratic Front for the next election in 1948.  The U.S. worked with the Catholic Church, conducted a massive propaganda campaign using Italian-American celebrities like Frank Sinatra, and printed 10 million letters for Italian-Americans to mail to their relatives in Italy.  The U.S. threatened a total cut-off of aid to the war-ravaged country, where allied bombing had killed 50,000 civilians and left much of the country in ruins.
The FDP was reduced from a combined 40% of the votes in 1946 to 31% in 1948, leaving Italy in the hands of increasingly corrupt U.S.-backed coalitions led by the Christian Democrats for the next 46 years.  Italy was saved from an imaginary communist dictatorship, but more importantly from an independent democratic socialist program committed to workers’ rights and to protecting small and medium-sized Italian businesses against competition from U.S. multinationals.
The U.S. employed similar tactics in Chile in the 1960s to prevent the election of Salvador Allende.  He came within 3% of winning the presidency in 1958, so the Kennedy administration sent a team of 100 State Department and CIA officers to Chile in what one of them later called a “blatant and almost obscene” effort to subvert the next election in 1964.  The CIA provided more than half the Christian Democrats’ campaign funds and launched a multimedia propaganda campaign on film, TV, radio, newspapers, posters and flyers.  This classic “red scare” campaign, dominated by images of firing squads and Soviet tanks, was designed mainly to terrify women.  The CIA produced 20 radio spots per day that were broadcast on at least 45 stations, as well as dozens of fabricated daily “news” broadcasts.  Thousands of posters depicted children with hammers and sickles stamped on their foreheads.  The Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei defeated Allende by 17%, with a huge majority among women.
But despite the U.S. propaganda campaign, Allende was finally elected in 1970.  When he consolidated his position in Congressional elections in 1973 despite a virtual U.S. economic embargo and an ever-escalating destabilization campaign, his fate was sealed, at the hands of the CIA and the U.S.-backed military, led by General Pinochet.
In Ukraine, the U.S. has worked since independence in 1991 to promote pro-Western parties and candidates, climaxing in the “Orange Revolution” in 2004.  But the Western-backed governments of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko became just as corrupt and unpopular as previous ones, and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was elected President in 2010.
The U.S. employed all its traditional tactics leading up to the coup in 2014.  The U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has partially taken over the CIA’s role in grooming opposition candidates, parties and political movements, with an annual budget of $100 million to spend in countries around the world.  The NED made no secret of targeting Ukraine as a top priority, funding 65 projects there, more than in any other country.  The NED’s neoconservative president, Carl Gershman, called Ukraine “the biggest prize” in a Washington Post op-ed in September 2013, as the U.S. operation there prepared to move into its next phase.

2) Violent street demonstrations

In November 2013, the European Union presented President Yanukovich with a 1,500 page “free trade agreement,” similar to NAFTA or the TPP, but which withheld actual EU membership from Ukraine.  The agreement would have opened Ukraine’s borders to Western exports and investment without a reciprocal opening of the EU’s borders. Ukraine, a major producer of cheese and poultry, would have been allowed to export only 5% of its cheese and 1% of its poultry to the EU.  Meanwhile Western firms could have used Ukraine as a gateway to flood Russia with cheap products from Asia. This would have forced Russia to close its borders to Ukraine, shattering the industrial economy of Eastern Ukraine.
Understandably, and for perfectly sound reasons as a Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich rejected the EU agreement.  This was the signal for pro-Western and right-wing groups in Kiev to take to the street.  In the West, we tend to interpret street demonstrations as representing surges of populism and democracy.  But we should distinguish left-wing demonstrations against right-wing governments from the kind of violent right-wing demonstrations that have always been part of U.S. regime change strategy.
In Tehran in 1953, the CIA spent a million dollars to hire gangsters and “extremely competent professional organizers”, as the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt called them, to stage increasingly violent demonstrations, until loyal and rebel army units were fighting in the streets of Tehran and at least 300 people were killed.  The CIA spent millions more to bribe members of parliament and other influential Iranians.  Mossadegh was forced to resign, and the Shah restored Western ownership of the oil industry.  BP divided the spoils with American firms, until the Shah was overthrown 26 years later by the Iranian Revolution and the oil industry was re-nationalized.  This pattern of short-term success followed by eventual independence from U.S. interests is a common result of CIA coups, most notably in Latin America, where they have led many of our closest neighbors to become increasingly committed to political and economic independence from the United States.
In Haiti in 2004, 200 U.S. special forces trained 600 FRAPH militiamen and other anti-Lavalas forces at a training camp across the border in the Dominican Republic.  These forces then invaded northern Haiti and gradually spread violence and chaos across the country to set the stage for the overthrow of President Aristide.
In Ukraine, street protests turned violent in January 2014 as the neo-NaziSvoboda Party and the Right Sector militia took charge of the crowds in the streets.  The Right Sector militia only appeared in Ukraine in the past 6 months, although it incorporated existing extreme-right groups and gangs.  It is partly funded by Ukrainian exiles in the U.S. and Europe, and may be a creation of the CIA.  After Right Sector seized government buildings, parliament outlawed the protests and the police reoccupied part of Independence Square, killing two protesters.
On February 7th, the Russians published an intercepted phone callbetweenAssistant Secretary of State Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.  The intercept revealed that U.S. officials were preparing to seize the moment for a coup in Ukraine.  The transcript reads like a page from a John Le Carre novel: “I think we’re in play… we could land jelly-side up on this one if we move fast.”  Their main concern was to marginalize heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who had become the popular face of the “revolution” and was favored by the European Union, and to ensure that U.S. favorite Arseniy Yatsenyuk ended up in the Prime Minister’s office.
On the night of February 17th, Right Sector announced a march from Independence Square to the parliament building on the 18th.  This ignited several days of escalating violence in which the death toll rose to 110 people killed, including protesters, government supporters and 16 police officers.  More than a thousand people were wounded. Vyacheslav Veremyi, a well-known reporter for a pro-government newspaper, was dragged out of a taxi near Independence Square and shot to death in front of a crowd of onlookers.  Right Sector broke into an armory near Lviv and seized military weapons, and there is evidence of both sides using snipers to fire from buildings in Kiev at protesters and police in the streets and the square below.  Former security chief Yakimenkobelieves that snipers firing from the Philharmonic building were U.S.-paid foreign mercenaries, like the snipers from the former Yugoslavia who earn up to $2,000 per day shooting soldiers in Syria.
As violence raged in the streets, the government and opposition parties held emergency meetings and reached two truce agreements, one on the night of February 19th and another on the 21st, brokered by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland.  But Right Sector rejected both truces and called for the “people’s revolution” to continue until Yanukovich resigned and the government was completely removed from power.

3) The coup d’etat.

The creation and grooming of opposition forces and the spread of violence in the streets are deliberate strategies to create a state of emergency as a pretext for removing an elected or constitutional government and seizing power.  Once the coup leaders have been trained and prepared by their CIA case officers, U.S. officials have laid their plans and street violence has broken down law and order and the functioning of state institutions, all that remains is to strike decisively at the right moment to remove the government and install the coup leaders in its place.  In Iran, faced with hundreds of people being killed in the streets, Mohammad Mosaddegh resigned to end the bloodshed. In Chile, General Pinochet launched air strikes on the presidential palace.  In Haiti in 2004, U.S. forces landed to remove President Aristide and occupy the country.
In Ukraine, Vitaly Klitschko announced that parliament would open impeachment proceedings against Yanukovich, but, later that day, lacking the 338 votes required for impeachment, a smaller number of members simply approved a declaration that Yanukovich “withdrew from his duties in an unconstitutional manner,” and appointed Oleksandr Turchynov of the opposition Fatherland Party as Acting President.  Right Sector seized control of government buildings and patrolled the streets.  Yanukovich refused to resign, calling this an illegal coup d’etat.  The coup leaders vowed to prosecute him for the deaths of protesters, but he escaped to Russia.  Arseniy Yatsenyuk was appointed Prime Minister on February 27th, exactly as Nuland and Pyatt had planned.
The main thing that distinguishes the U.S. coup in Ukraine from the majority of previous U.S. coups was the minimal role played by the Ukrainian military.  Since 1953, most U.S. coups have involved using local senior military officers to deliver the final blow to remove the elected or ruling leader.  The officers have then been rewarded with presidencies, dictatorships or other senior positions in new U.S.-backed regimes. The U.S. military cultivates military-to-military relationships to identify and groom future coup leaders, and President Obama’s expansion of U.S. special forces operations to 134 countries around the world suggests that this process is ongoing and expanding, not contracting.
But the neutral or pro-Russian position of the Ukrainian military since it was separated from the Soviet Red Army in 1991 made it an impractical tool for an anti-Russian coup. So Nuland and Pyatt’s signal innovation in Ukraine was to use the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and Right Sector as a strike force to unleash escalating violence and seize power. This also required managing Svoboda and Right Sector’s uneasy alliance with Fatherland and UDAR, the two pro-Western opposition parties who won 40% between them in the 2012 parliamentary election.
Historically, about half of all U.S. coups have failed, and success is never guaranteed.  But few Americans have ended up dead or destitute in the wake of a failed coup.  It is always the people of the target country who pay the price in violence, chaos, poverty and instability, while U.S. coup leaders like Nuland and Pyatt often get a second – or 3rd or 4th or 5th – bite at the apple, and will keep rising through the ranks of the State Department and the CIA.  Direct U.S. military intervention in Ukraine was not an option before the coup, but now the coup itself may destabilize the country and plunge it into economic collapse, regional disintegration or conflict with Russia, creating new and unpredictable conditions in which NATO intervention could become feasible.
Russia has proposed a reasonable solution to the crisis. To resolve the tensions between Eastern and Western Ukraine over their respective political and economic links with Russia and the West, the Russians have proposed a federal system in which both Eastern and Western Ukraine would have much greater autonomy.  This would be more stable that the present system in which each tries to dominate the other with the support of their external allies, turning Ukraine and all its people into pawns of Western-NATO expansion and Russia’s efforts to limit it.  The Russian proposal includes a binding commitment that Ukraine would remain neutral and not join NATO.  A few weeks ago, Obama and Kerry seemed to be ready to take this off-ramp from the crisis.  The delay in agreeing to Russia’s seemingly reasonable proposal may be only an effort to save face, or it may mean that theneocons who engineered the coupare still dictating policy in Washington and that Obama and Kerry may be ready to risk a further escalation of the crisis.
The U.S. coup machine has also been at work in Venezuela, where it already failed once in 2002.  Raul Capote, a former Cuban double agent who worked with the CIA in Cuba and Venezuela, recently described its long-term project to build right-wing opposition movements among upper- and middle-class students in Venezuelan universities, which are now bearing fruit in increasingly violent street protests and vigilantism.  Thirty-six people have been killed, including six police officers and at least 5 opposition protesters.  The protests began exactly a month after municipal elections in December, in which the government won the popular vote by almost 10%, far more than the 1.5% margin in the presidential election last April.  As in Chile in 1973, electoral success by an elected government is often the cue for the CIA to step up its efforts, moving beyond propaganda and right-wing politics to violence in the streets, and the popularity of the Venezuelan government seems to have provoked precisely that reaction.
Another feature of U.S. coups is the role of the Western media in publicizing official cover stories and suppressing factual journalism.  This role has also been consistent since 1953, but it has evolved as corporate media have consolidated their monopoly power.  By their very nature, coups are secret operations and U.S. media are prohibited from revealing “national security” secrets about them, such as the names of CIA officers involved.  By only reporting official cover stories, they become unwitting co conspirators in the critical propaganda component of these operations.  But the U.S. corporate media have turned vice into virtue, relishing their role in the demonization of America’s chosen enemies and cheerleading U.S. efforts to do them in.  They brush U.S. responsibility for violence and chaos under the carpet, and sympathetically present U.S. policy as a well-meaning effort to respond to the irrational and dangerous behavior of others.
This is far more than is required by strict observance of secrecy laws, and it reveals a great deal about the nature of the media environment we live in.  The Western media as it exists today under near-monopoly corporate ownership is a more sophisticated and total propaganda system than early 20th century propagandists ever dreamed of.  As media corporations profit from Western geopolitical and commercial expansion, the propaganda function that supports that expansion is an integrated part of their business model, not something exceptional they do under duress from the state.  But to expect factual journalism about U.S. coups from such firms is to misunderstand who and what they are.
Recent studies have found that people gain a better grasp of current affairs from John Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central than from watching “news” networks.  People who watch no “news” at all have more knowledge of international affairs than people who watch MSNBC or Fox News.  A previous survey conducted 3 months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq found that 52% of Americans believed that U.S. forces in Iraq had found clear evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.  Among Republicans who said they were following “news on Iraq very closely”, the figure was 78%, compared with only 68% among Republicans at large.
If the role of the corporate media was to provide factual journalism, these studies would be a terrible indictment of their performance.  But once we acknowledge their actual role as the propaganda arm of an expansionist political and economic system, then we can understand that promoting the myths and misinformation that sustain it are a central part of what they do.  In that light, they are doing a brilliant job on Ukraine as they did on Iraq, suppressing any mention of the U.S. role in the coup and pivoting swiftly away from the unfolding crisis in post-coup Ukraine to focus entirely on attacking President Putin for reclaiming Crimea.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for factual journalism about the U.S. coup machine, you should probably turn off your TV and keep reading reliable sources like Alternet,Consortium News and Venezuela Analysis.
Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of “Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.” Davies also wrote the chapter on “Obama At War” for the book, “Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.”
This publication first appeared in: Alternet
 
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    Psychopath or comic genius Tony Blair may not go to jail, but he’s definitely going to hell! (VIDEO) – By JONATHAN PIE

    © n/a
    Henry Kissenger and Tony Blair, culpable in war crimes that killed hundreds of thousands, from Cambodia to Iraq.

    Remember Tony Blair? “He’s like a gag reflex” says Jonathan Pie. “He may not go to prison but he’s definitely going to hell.” As usual, Pie nails it, pulling no punches. Blair is responsible for more than 500,000 deaths. Yet, lying psychopath that he is, he has the gall to call Corbyn “dangerous”.

    BRITISH-SUPPORTED TERRORIST RODENTS REEL IN IDLIB UNDER PRECISE BOMBARDMENT; THE BUILD-UP TO ALEPPO’S LIBERATION ALMOST COMPLETE – By Ziad Fadel

    image: http://jpnews-sy.com/ar/images/news/big/104115.jpg

    مقتل وإصابة العشرات من IDLIB:  Evidence is mounting that the rodents allied to Jaysh Al-Fath have been ordered to abandon the provincial capital in anticipation of a frontal assault by the Syrian Army, air force, RuAF and HZB with major roles played by Afghan and Iranian militias.  The terrorist sponsors, like Arabia, are themselves exhibiting public anxiety mostly through hilariously inept reports about civilian casualties which no even the terrorists are announcing.  The SOHR, arguably the most incompetent and mercenary of all the fake news sites, is blurting out completely erroneous reports about Russian aircraft striking hospitals.  The reports are so skewed and preposterous, even Kerry is not bringing them up with Lavrov.  Below, you see a photo of an airstrike on an area in Idlib City which resulted, supposedly, in the deaths of women and children seeking medical treatment at some unnamed facility.  Boy, in looking at the photo, I’m finding only military-aged young men, with beards and camo outfits.

     

    image: https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/13346982_10209848191706079_5835173359821423633_n.jpg?oh=f986d1cc09cc585a796ea563547d5966&oe=57CE73B3

    (Gee, I don’t see any women or children in this photo of dead rodents killed by super-precise Russian bombers.  That SOHR is a lie-factory)

     

    Al-Shaykh Tallat:  The Syrian Air Force, destroyed Ahraar Al-Shaam bases in a dawn raid yesterday that caught the terrorists with their pants down.  According to several sources, including Wael, in Latakia, 38 terrorists were killed with over 90 wounded.

    _____________________________________________________

    DAMASCUS:

    image: http://albaathmedia.sy/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B4.jpg

    جيشKhaan Al-Shaykh Area:  The SAA has discovered a massive tunnel complex extending, unbelievably, from Harastaa Farms to Qantara and to Marj Al-Sultaan.  The tunnel eventually, and appropriately ended in the desert where terrorists operating in Jordan were able to smuggle weapons, medicine and foodstuffs into the area for both Jaysh Al-Islam and Alqaeda.  This kind of cooperation proves that Jaysh Al-Islam is a terrorist group no different from the Alqaeda terrorist organization.  The groups using this tunnel complex were identified by a raft of documents unearthed by seasoned SAA engineers.

    Amazingly, there were 26 other tunnels radiating out from the main one.  All the ancillary ones were rigged with IEDs and mines such that it is going to take some time dismantling the webbed and interconnected defenses of this network.  Inside, the SAA found command-and-control centers, unused IEDs, mines and lots of TNT from both the Zionist Settler State and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

     

    Harfa Village:  In the area of the forest, the SAA and PDC foiled a Nusra/Alqaeda attack on a military strongpoint.  According to our source, 9 rodents were killed and many wounded.  As the living vermin were escaping death,  they deliberately fired  their weapons at the homes of innocent civilians.

     

    image: https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/13319871_10209841164570405_1537002113415408559_n.jpg?oh=9013ed4f2619b165a112e719c5b3f2d2&oe=57D7CA7B

    (Thanks, Khaled)

     

    _______________________________________________________

    HAMA:  The move to Al-Raqqa and Tabqa has begun.  The Syrian Army has today taken control over the Al-Zayn Mountains in the  area of Atharyaa.  The battle started on Thursday at dawn and continued until 3:00 p.m. Damascus time.  The Syrian Army also expelled all ISIS rodents from the area of the Swimming Park killing a reported 11 ISIS vultures.  This is a huge operation intended to see its consummation at the borders of the city of Al-Raqqa.  It is clear that the Syrian High Command will not let anyone liberate Al-Raqqa other than the people and army of Syria.

    image: http://albaathmedia.sy/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B41.jpg

    الجيش 

     

    image: https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/13307224_10209841136689708_5200643723308977969_n.jpg?oh=3df9460625ecc011a80efaeb631be6a3&oe=57CECF91

    Liwaa` Al-Faatimiyyeen in this photo.  It is an Afghan group fighting on the side of our government in Aleppo. (Thanks, Khaled)

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    SELFIE OF THE DAY:

     

    image: https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/12998592_10153661835029422_3999269022087208293_n.jpg?oh=ddf9a61e023a6d69df2b5aa74c5abb9c&oe=57CA764E

    (Ziad’s daughter, Mariam, A Syrian beauty, without her loyal and ubiquitous dog, Bella)

     

    ________________________________________________________

    NEWS AND COMMENTARY:

    Iyad Khodher sends this nice and short report about Syrian secularism:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_XENH979oQ&feature=youtu.be

    Brandon studies the cannibals and the diseases they have brought into Syria:

    http://www.naturalblaze.com/2016/06/new-flesh-eating-disease-spreading-across-syria-and-the-middle-east.html

    The Saudi debt situation in the U.S. sent by Murf the Surf:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-05-30/the-untold-story-behind-saudi-arabia-s-41-year-u-s-debt-secret

    Many more great articles from Brandon:

    http://www.activistpost.com/2016/05/obama-says-big-nations-should-not-bully-small-ones-as-u-s-bullies-small-nations-across-the-world.html

    http://www.activistpost.com/2016/05/u-s-special-forces-seen-wearing-ypg-badges-in-syria.html

    http://www.activistpost.com/2016/05/blackwateracademi-mercenaries-procured-by-united-arab-emirates-are-now-fighting-in-yemen.html

    Read more at http://syrianperspective.com/2016/06/british-supported-terrorist-rodents-reel-in-idlib-under-precise-bombardment-the-build-up-to-aleppos-liberation-almost-complete.html#0OiwhYweyO4Cevjs.99

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    Syria, ’ISIS’, and the US-UK Propaganda War – By ERIC DRAITSER

    Eric Draitser

    With the war in Syria raging in its fifth year, and “ISIS” wreaking havoc throughout the Middle East and North Africa, it’s clear that the entire region has been made into one large theater of conflict. But the battlefield must not be understood solely as a physical place located on a map; it is equally a social and cultural space where the forces of the US-UK-NATO Empire employ a variety of tactics to influence the course of events and create an outcome amenable to their agenda. And none to greater effect than propaganda.

    Syria, ’ISIS’, and the US-UK Propaganda War

    Indeed, if the ongoing war in Syria, and the conflicts of the post-Arab Spring period generally, have taught us anything, it is the power of propaganda and public relations to shape narratives which in turn impact political events. Given the awesome power of information in the postmodern political landscape, it should come as no surprise that both the US and UK have become world leaders in government-sponsored propaganda masquerading as legitimate, grassroots political and social expression.

    London, Washington, and the Power of Manipulation

    The Guardian recently revealed how the UK Government’s Research, Information, and Communications Unit [RICU] is involved in surveillance, information dissemination, and promotion of individuals and groups as part of what it describes as an attempt at “attitudinal and behavioral change” among its Muslim youth population. This sort of counter-messaging is nothing new, and has been much discussed for years. However, the Guardian piece actually exposed the much deeper connections between RICU and various grassroots organizations, online campaigns, and social media penetration.

    The article outlined the relationship between the UK Government’s RICU and a London-based communications company called Breakthrough Media Network which “has produced dozens of websites, leaflets, videos, films, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and online radio content, with titles such as The Truth about “ISIS” and Help for Syria.” Considering the nature of social media, and the manner in which information [or disinformation] is spread online, it should come as no surprise that a number of the viral videos, popular twitter feeds, and other materials that seemingly align with the anti-Assad line of London and Washington are, in fact, the direct products of a government-sponsored propaganda campaign.

    In fact, as the authors of the story noted:

    One Ricu initiative, which advertises itself as a campaign providing advice on how to raise funds for Syrian refugees, has had face-to-face conversations with thousands of students at university freshers’ fairs without any students realizing they were engaging with a government program. That campaign, called Help for Syria, has distributed leaflets to 760,000 homes without the recipients realizing they were government communications.

    It’s not hard to see what the British Government is trying to do with such efforts; they are an attempt to control the messaging of the war on Syria, and to redirect grassroots anti-war activism to channels deemed acceptable to the political establishment. Imagine for a moment the impact on an 18-year-old college freshman just stepping into the political arena, and immediately encountering seasoned veteran activists who influence his/her thinking on the nature of the war, who the good guys and bad guys are, and what should be done. Now multiply that by thousands and thousands of students. The impact of such efforts is profound.

    But it is much more than simply interactions with prospective activists and the creation of propaganda materials; it is also about surveillance and social media penetration. According to the article, “One of Ricu’s primary tasks is to monitor online conversations among what it describes as vulnerable communities. After products are released, Ricu staff monitor ‘key forums’ for online conversations to ‘track shifting narratives,’ one of the documents [obtained by The Guardian] shows.” It is clear that such efforts are really about online penetration, especially via social media.

    By monitoring and manipulating in this way, the British Government is able to influence, in a precise and highly targeted way, the narrative about the war on Syria, “ISIS”, and a host of issues relevant to both its domestic politics and the geopolitical and strategic interests of the British state. Herein lies the nexus between surveillance, propaganda, and politics.

    But of course the UK is not alone in this effort, as the US has a similar program with its Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications [CSCC] which describes its mission as being:

    … [to] coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism and violent extremism… CSCC is comprised of three interactive components. The integrated analysis component leverages the Intelligence Community and other substantive experts to ensure CSCC communicators benefit from the best information and analysis available. The plans and operations component draws on this input to devise effective ways to counter the terrorist narrative. The Digital Outreach Team actively and openly engages in Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, and Somali.

    Notice that the CSCC is, in effect, an intelligence hub acting to coordinate propaganda for CIA, DIA, DHS, and NSA, among others. This mission, of course, is shrouded in terminology like “integrated analysis” and “plans and operations” – terms used to designate the various components of the overall CSCC mission. Like RICU, the CSCC is focused on shaping narratives online under the pretext of counter-radicalization.

    It should be noted too that CSCC becomes a propaganda clearinghouse of sorts not just for the US Government, but also for its key foreign allies [think Israel, Saudi Arabia, Britain], as well as perhaps favored NGOs like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or Doctors Without Borders [MSF]. As the New York Times noted:

    [The CSCC will] harness all the existing attempts at counter messaging by much larger federal departments, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies. The center would also coordinate and amplify similar messaging by foreign allies and nongovernment agencies, as well as by prominent Muslim academics, community leaders and religious scholars who oppose “ISIS”.

    But taking this information one step further, it calls into question yet again the veracity of much of the dominant narrative about Syria, Libya, “ISIS”, and related topics. With social media and “citizen journalism” having become so influential in how ordinary people think about these issues, one is yet again forced to consider the degree of manipulation of these phenomena.

    Manufacturing Social Media Narratives

    It is by now well documented the myriad ways in which Western governments have been investing heavily in tools for manipulating social media in order to shape narratives. In fact, the US CIA alone has invested millions in literally dozens of social media-related startups via its investment arm known as In-Q-Tel. The CIA is spending the tens of millions of dollars providing seed money to these companies in order to have the ability to do everything from data mining to real-time surveillance.

    The truth is that we’ve known about the government’s desire to manipulate social media for years. Back in February 2011, just as the wars on Libya and Syria were beginning, an interesting story was published by PC World under the title Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda which explained in very mundane language that:

    …the US government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn’t like. It could then potentially have their “fake” people run smear campaigns against those “real” people.

    Close observers of the US-NATO war on Libya will recall just how many twitter accounts miraculously surfaced, with tens of thousands of followers each, to “report” on the “atrocities” carried out by Muammar Gaddafi’s armed forces, and call for a No Fly Zone and regime change. Certainly one is left to wonder now, as many of us did at the time, whether those accounts weren’t simply fakes created by either a Pentagon computer program, or by paid trolls.

    A recent example of the sort of social media disinformation that has been [and will continue to be] employed in the war on Syria/”ISIS” came in December 2014 when a prominent “”ISIS” twitter propagandist” known as Shami Witness [@ShamiWitness] was exposed as a man named “Mehdi,” [later confirmed as Mehdi Biswas] described as “an advertising executive” based in Bangalore, India.

    @ShamiWitness had been cited as an authoritative source – a veritable “wealth of information” – about “ISIS” and Syria by corporate media outfits, as well as ostensibly “reliable and independent” bloggers such as the ubiquitous Eliot Higgins [aka Brown Moses] who cited Shami repeatedly. This former “expert” on “ISIS” has now been charged in India with crimes including “supporting a terrorist organization, waging war against the State, unlawful activities, conspiracy, sedition and promoting enmity.”

    And this last point is perhaps the key: online manipulation is designed to control narratives. While the war may be fought on the battlefield, it is equally fought for the hearts and minds of activists, news consumers, and ordinary citizens in the West. The UK and US both have extensive information war capabilities, and they’re not afraid to use them. And so, we should not be afraid to expose them.

     

    Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

    12-05-2016 | 10:01

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