Russia and China Challenge Dollar Domination – By F. William Engdahl

Author: F. William Engdahl




The Russian government has recently announced it will issue nearly $1 billion equivalent in state bonds, but denominated not in US dollars as is mostly the case. Rather it will be the first sale of Russian bonds in China’s yuan. While $1 billion may not sound like much when compared with the Peoples’ Bank of China total holdings of US Government debt of more than $1 trillion or to the US Federal debt today of over $20 trillion, it’s significance lies beyond the nominal amount. It’s a test run by both governments of the potential for state financing of infrastructure and other projects independent of dollar risk from such events as US Treasury financial sanctions.

Russian Debt and China Yuan

Since the August 1998 sovereign default triggered by the West, Russian state finances have been prudent to almost a fault. The size of the national government debt is the lowest of any major industrial country, a mere 10.6% of GDP for the current year. This has enabled Russia to withstand the US financial warfare sanctions imposed since 2014, and forced the country to turn elsewhere for their financial stability. That “elsewhere” is increasingly called the Peoples’ Republic of China.

Now the Russian Ministry of Finance is reportedly planning the first sale of Russian debt in the form of bonds denominated in Chinese yuan currency. The size of the first offering, a testing of the market, will be 6 billion yuan or just under $1 billion. The sale is being organized by the state-owned Russian Gazprombank, the Bank of China Ltd., and China’s largest state bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. The move is being accelerated by reports that the US Treasury is examining potential consequences of extending penalties, until now concentrated on Russian oil and gas projects, to include Russian sovereign debt in its sanctions warfare. The new yuan bond will be traded on the Moscow Exchange and will aim to sell to mainland Chinese investors as well as international and Russian borrowers at attractive interest rates.

Western sanctions or threats of sanctions are forcing Russia and China to cooperate more strategically on what is becoming the seed of a genuine alternative to the dollar system. The Russian yuan debt offerings will also give a significant boost to China’s desire to build the yuan as an accepted international currency.

China Petro-Yuan

The steps to begin issuing Russian state debt in yuan are paralleled by another major development towards broader international yuan acceptance vis a vis the US dollar. On December 13, Chinese regulators completed final testing in preparation for launch of not a dollar-backed, but rather, a yuan-backed oil futures contract to be traded on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. The implications are potentially large.

China is the world’s largest oil importing country. Control of financial oil futures markets until now has been the tightly-guarded province of Wall Street banks and the New York, London and other futures exchanges they control. Emergence of Shanghai as a major yuan-based oil futures center could significantly weaken dollar domination of oil trade.

Since the 1970’s oil shock and the 400% rise in the oil price from OPEC countries, Washington has maintained a strict regime in which the world’s most valuable commodity, oil, would be traded in US dollars alone. In December 1974, the US Treasury signed a secret agreement in Riyadh with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, “to establish a new relationship through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with the US Treasury borrowing operation” to buy US government debt with surplus petrodollars.

The Saudis agreed to enforce OPEC dollar-only oil sales in return for US sales of advanced military equipment (purchased for dollars of course) and a guarantee of protection from possible Israeli attack. This was the beginning of what then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called recycling the petro-dollar. To the present, only two oil export country leaders, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Qaddafi, have tried to change the system and sell oil for euros or gold dinars. Now China is challenging the petro-dollar system in a different way with the petro-yuan.

The difference between Saddam Hussein or Qaddafi is that far more influential countries, Russia and now Iran, with China’s implicit support, are cooperating to avoid the dollar out of necessity forced by US pressure. That is a far stronger challenge to the US dollar than Iraq or Libya could ever manage.

The China yuan oil futures contract now will allow China’s trading partners to pay with gold or to convert yuan into gold without the necessity to keep money in Chinese assets or turn it into US dollars. Oil exporters such as Russia or Iran or Venezuela—all targets of US sanctions—can avoid those US sanctions by avoiding oil trades in dollars now. This past September Venezuela responded to US sanctions by ordering the state oil company and traders to make oil sale contracts into euro and not to pay or be paid in US dollars any longer.

Gold for oil?

The Shanghai International Energy Exchange will soon launch their crude-oil futures contract denominated in yuan. The Shanghai International Energy Exchange futures contract will streamline and solidify the process of selling oil to China for yuan that Russia began after sanctions in 2014. This will also allow other oil producers around the world to sell their oil for yuan instead of dollars. The crude oil futures contract will be the first commodity contract in China open to foreign investment funds, trading houses, and oil firms. The circumvention of US dollar trade could allow oil exporters such as Russia and Iran, for example, to bypass US sanctions.

To make the offer more attractive, China has linked the crude-oil futures contract with the option to efficiently convert yuan into physical gold through gold exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong. According to Wang Zhimin, director of the Center for Globalization and Modernization at China’s Institute of Foreign Economy and Trade, the possibility of converting the yuan oil futures into gold will give the Chinese futures a competitive advantage over Brent and West Texas Intermediate benchmarks.

Now Russia or Iran or other oil producers are in a position to sell oil to China for yuan or rubles, bypassing the dollar entirely. The shift is about to take place in the coming weeks as the yuan oil futures contract is officially launched. Further in October China and Russia launched what is called a payment versus payment (PVP) system for Chinese yuan and Russian ruble transactions that will reduce settlement risk for oil and other trades.

Already reportedly Russian oil and gas sales to China are being conducted in Ruble and Yuan and since the foolish US effort to isolate Qatar in the Persian Gulf, Qatar, a major LNG gas supplier to China has switched to pricing in yuan. Pressure is growing that at some point Saudi Arabia breaks its 1974 pact with Washington and sells its oil to China also for yuan.

Iran to Join EEU

A new element is about to be added to the growing cooperation across Eurasia centered around China and Russia, namely Iran. According to Behrouz Hassanolfat of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, in a statement carried on Iranian state-owned Press-TV, as early as February, 2018 Iran is set to become a member of Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Presently the EEU, created in 2015, includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan to create a large zone for free transit of goods, services, capital and workers among member states. Presently the EEU is a market of 183 million people. Addition of Iran with its more than 80 million citizens would give a major boost to the economies of the EEU and to its economic importance, creating a common market of more than 263 million, with skilled labor, engineers, scientists and industrial know-how.

Iran has already announced, in face of escalating threats from Washington, that it seeks ways to sell its oil for non-dollar currencies. Integration into the EEU could bring a solution to this as Iran, Russia and China inevitably draw closer in face of relentless US pressures on all three.

Increasingly in proportion to the pressure from the West the nations of Eurasia are developing modes of growing their economies independent of US Treasury financial sanctions. In retrospect, it’s likely that those US sanctions will be seen as one of the more stupid attempts of Washington to dominate the economies of Eurasia.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

Terrorists leave Homs as the Syrian Army regains control – By SPUTNIK

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on the organized withdrawal of more than 400 terrorists and members of their families from the northwestern suburb of Syrian Homs. The al-Wyer district remains, in fact, the last stronghold of the armed opposition in this administrative center of the country’s largest province.

Withdrawal was preceded by almost a month of tense negotiations because the terrorists put forward their conditions while the Reconciliation Center and Syrian side put forward others,” said Lieutenant General Aleksey Kim, head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria.

He added that it was necessary to come to a common denominator so that both sides were satisfied with the fulfillment of these requirements. The negotiation process was very difficult.

According to the center, the terrorists who have not yet left al-Wayer are also preparing to lay down their arms. Many of them will go to militia or replenish the ranks of the Syrian police in the framework of amnesty announced by the Syrian president.

The military experts have said that total control by Damascus over this city is a major strategic success for Bashar al-Assad and diplomatic for the Russian negotiators.

Importance of Homs

Only a glance on the map is enough to understand the geographical importance of Homs, the third largest city in Syria with a pre-war population of 900,000 people.

It occupies a strategically important intersection at the crossing of major highways. These traffic routes connect Damascus (in the south), the Hama province, Idlib and Aleppo (in the north), the Tartus and Latakia provinces (in the west), and Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor (in the east).

“Full control over Homs will significantly protect the movement of humanitarian and military convoys all along the Damascus-Aleppo road which is more than 350 kilometers from north to south,” Anatoly Tsyganok, the head of Center for Military Forecasting told Sputnik.

The militants present in al-Wayer had an opportunity to conduct sabotage activities against government troops both in the city and on the highway. The Syrian military forces going north repeatedly moved through this site and were killed in an ambush because of such improvised explosive devices.

Homs has great value not only as an important transportation hub. This city is a large industrial center. It houses an oil refinery and several oil storage facilities. From Homs to Damascus and from Aleppo to Latakia there are pipelines.

In addition, before the war the city was one of the largest agricultural centers of Syria. Corn, cotton, wheat, vegetables and fruits were grown here. Right now most of the infrastructure is destroyed but its restoration is the key to economic, food and fuel-energy security of the whole country.

City of revolution

Homs also has strong political significance. It was one of the first cities where in July 2011 clashes with government forces broke out and therefore the city received a nickname: “capital of the revolution.”

The terrorists had planned to use Homs as a main platform for attacking Damascus from the north. Full-scale fighting in this city did not cease for years and became one of the most violent during the Syrian civil war.

The city lies in ruins as the majority of its residents escaped the war zone. In particular, Christian communities left the city with more than 138,000 people. Government forces managed to take Homs under control only in May 2014 but in a number of areas (including al-Wayer) the terrorists continued to be active in the years to come.

Anatoly Tsyganok said that fighting in Homs with varying degrees of intensity has been going on for six years now and the fact that the remaining members of the armed opposition in the city voluntarily left is a great success for the negotiating group which consists of Russian officers.

“This is an achievement for our diplomats as well and it became known right after the third round of talks on the Syrian settlement in Astana in mid-March regarding the withdrawal of 400 militants from Homs. Although there was no opposition it is obvious that they reached a number of agreements with them,” Tsyganok said.

According to the head, the general situation in Syria gives cautious optimism. As the expert stressed, in recent years support of the so-called “moderate opposition” from European states has noticeably weakened.

In turn, interaction on the Syrian issue between Russia, Turkey and Iran is strengthening. The government troops that took Aleppo and regained control over Palmyra received a break and were able to free up considerable forces and resources for possible actions in other directions.

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‘The State Cannot Convict Itself’: Operation ‘Gladio’ & the Crimes of U.S. Empire – By Gary Weglarz (Global Research)

The key institutions of Western societies have lost their credibility. They fail to merit either the respect or loyalty of the domestic populations they purport to serve.

Testing the validity of this assertion requires examination of Western institutions from a holistic rather than fragmentary perspective. This is easier said than done.

There exists a massive amount of near real-time web based information available for us to process daily if we are attempting to keep abreast of world events. This often leaves us diligently evaluating recent events, while lacking the opportunity to step back and assemble these discrete events into a more comprehensible whole.

The assassinations of the entire elite level of progressive leadership in the United States during the 1960s (JFK, Malcolm X (image left), MLK & RFK within a 5 year period).In Europe this includes the later assassinations of Aldo Moro and Olaf Palme.

Following is but a partial list of the crimes of the U.S. empire (with the routine complicity of many Western European governments) over the decades since the end of WWII. It is important to briefly review them as the intersection of these orchestrated criminal actions casts light on the lack of legitimacy of Western governments and institutions:

This litany of institutionally based criminality has taken place in service to the larger foreign and domestic policy agendas of the U.S. and allied Western European governments. The United States has played the primary coordinating and leadership role among Western nations and intersecting institutions since the end of WWII.

This is of course but a very partial list of the crimes of the U.S. empire and Western Europe since the end of WWII. However, it is clear by the breadth of this subject matter that any one, or even several subject areas, will provide only a partial view of the larger puzzle that depicts the institutional structures and behaviors by which the West dominates and controls the entire planet.

We are fortunate to have a global community which includes researchers who have focused in great depth on the various aforementioned crimes sponsored by Western governments and their institutions. Many such individuals have sacrificed a great deal personally to do so. Some have given their lives in the pursuit of truths that powerful violent institutions prefer be kept hidden from public view. Their efforts provide exhaustive detail regarding particular historical actions and policies of Western institutions. However, it is critical that we assemble these discreet puzzle pieces into a discernible image that can unify and shed light upon the whole.

Let us return to the assertion that Western governments and institutions by simple objective evaluation of this history currently lack all legitimacy.

While the intersection of institutionalized Western criminality and war crimes cited in our partial list should be enough to persuade an impartial observer, one particular example from our list can stand alone. Operation Gladio is an individual puzzle piece that helps unite and shed light upon many other disparate pieces. This is precisely why it is seldom acknowledged, much less discussed in Western MSM or academia. Even a cursory examination of Operation Gladio offers us a much more comprehensible image of the essentially illegal and amoral nature of many important Western institutions.

Gladio offers us a rather frightening glimpse into the thought processes and ethics of the assemblage of oligarchic Western elites and institutions that continue to literally rule our world. These powerful Western hierarchical institutional structures evolved over many centuries.

They evolved from control situated in earlier periods under the auspices of popes and feudal monarchies.

They evolved through various forms of parliamentary and dictatorial rule.

Their current manifestation today is one in which massive global corporations rule in tandem with entrenched Western military, intelligence and economic institutions, all of which function beyond any practical popular input much less control. Oligarchic rule, carried out through these institutional structures is the reality, in spite of the West’s much publicized devotion to liberal democracy. Examination of Operation Gladio exposes the rot at the very core of the structures of Western rule.

Operating under the aegis of NATO with CIA input/supervision, Operation Gladio utilized false flag terrorism, mainly bombings but also shootings, in service to what it defined as the “strategy of tension.” This “strategy” was seen as a way to manipulate European public perception, thought, opinion and voting behavior away from progressive political parties and leadership, and toward the conservative pole of the political spectrum. Some Gladio operatives have testified that the intent was to force the public to seek a stronger more authoritarian police and State presence in order to protect citizens from political violence.

Critically important is the fact that the violence carried out by Operation Gladio operatives was routinely blamed on the left, on communist or socialist political parties, and/or on groups advocating progressive or revolutionary change. However, the many decades of violence were in actuality carried out by right wing cells within NATO’s Gladio stay-behind army units. Thus Operation Gladio was by definition orchestrated false flag terrorism carried out not by “leftists,” but rather by a multiplicity of Western institutional structures in Europe in coordination with the CIA.

The Gladio units were originally organized under the supervision of the CIA and NATO, ostensibly as a way to respond in guerrilla warfare fashion to a possible future Soviet invasion of Western Europe. However, lacking cooperative Soviet troops to kill and terrorize the population of Western Europe, the CIA and NATO took up the task of doing the killing and terrorizing themselves.

Gladio’s terrorism was conducted in order to shape the minds of the European public, and thus manipulate the political landscape in favor of the goals of U.S. and European elites. This is the reality of Operation Gladio, and it is also why knowledge of its actions is critical to our understanding of present day terrorism.

In the process of authorizing and conducting false flag bombing attacks, Western elites and institutions intentionally killed, maimed and/or psychologically terrorized thousands of European citizens. This violence was carried out with the top-secret collusion of select members of Western European governments, as well as through loyal right-wing cadres within their intelligence agencies, judicial branches, and various police services. Operation Gladio was of course hidden from the public, since it constitutes both treason as well as murder conducted by the very Western government institutional structures sworn by law to protect their citizenry from such crimes.

Although its false flag violence was based in Western Europe, Operation Gladio offered a domestic propaganda benefit to CIA operations in the United States. Mass protests and progressive groups in the United States were tarred in the public mind through guilt by association with the Gladio terror events in Europe. The false reality created by Gladio intentionally portrayed leftists in Europe as “violent murderers of innocent civilians.” This narrative was endlessly amplified by corporate media in the U.S. where it meshed rather seamlessly with both the FBI’s COINTELPRO activities and the CIA’s Operation Chaos program on the domestic front.

The critical conclusion we arrive at from reviewing the history of Operation Gladio is that Western elites used a great many institutions of State to intentionally target and kill their own citizens for political purposes, and then conspired to hide that fact. The importance of this reality cannot be overstated. Failing to widely publicly expose and discuss the history of Operation Gladio has left all citizens of Western nations vulnerable to the continued use of State sponsored false flag terrorism in new and varied manifestations.

When we examine Operation Gladio from a more macro perspective we must remain cognizant of both past and ongoing U.S. and Western European assaults on Third World governments. That people of color around the globe have been the targets of Western imperial violence for over 500 years is simple historical reality. What Operation Gladio demonstrates decisively is that Western elites saw the cold blooded murder of their own citizens as no more an obstacle to their plans for global control than the murder of countless residents of the many Third World nations which were still struggling to free themselves from Western domination.

Consider that Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Northwoods document requested authorization to conduct false flag terror operations in the U.S. in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. Only JFK’s fateful refusal to comply stopped those proposed Gladio-style false flag operations from occurring on U.S. soil.

Historical knowledge of both Operation Gladio and the Northwoods document should be at the forefront as we attempt to analyze the numerous false flag terror events in Western Europe and the United States that have occurred since the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Official narratives often leave us with rather disturbing questions regarding the true nature of such attacks. With the loss of the Soviet Union as a military danger and its replacement by Islamic terrorism, the identity of the official enemy changed. However, we would be remiss if do not question whether the dynamic of false flag terrorism might continue as a tool to manipulate the public mind.

The perceptions, thinking and consciousness of the citizens of Western Europe and the US have been powerfully shaped by the new narratives emanating from events of 9/11, and from subsequent terror attacks. Although these events are routinely blamed upon Islamic jihadist groups, knowledgeable observers find that numerous questions remain unanswered regarding the true identity of the perpetrators, often including the nature of their connections to Western intelligence structures.

Yet in spite of the historical reality of Gladio never has NATO been subjected to legal action and criminal prosecution for conducting the false flag bombings and murders of civilians in Western Europe. Unaccountable and unpunished, with its Gladio units still possibly in place, NATO instead offers possible cover for the continuing conduct of false flag terrorism in Europe. On the US domestic front the CIA also has never been subjected to legal action and criminal prosecution for its role in advising/coordinating Operation Gladio bombings and terrorism. Nor has the Northwoods document been treated to widespread public discussion and analysis.

The total impunity enjoyed by NATO, the CIA and all the interconnected Western institutional structures of police, military, politicians and judiciary exists for a very specific reason.

In the words of convicted Operation Gladio bomber Vincente Vinciguerra, the reason is simple:

” . . . because the state cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened.”

This is because, as Vinciguerra openly acknowledges, it was the institutions of the State itself who were responsible for the Gladio bombings and for hiding the truth of those bombings.

For the State to investigate, prosecute and punish itself for terrorism is of course unimaginable. To do so would be an admission that Western institutions have in fact been for many decades morally and legally bankrupt, and have been operating to systematically murder their own citizens while engaging in a cover-up. Such an admission would validate my contention that the institutions of the West currently lack all moral and legal legitimacy, therefore such an admission cannot occur.

It is clear from this history that what is required to move toward the restoration of any semblance of legitimacy to Western institutions would be the investigation and criminal prosecution on charges of murder, treason and cover-up for all parties, individual and institutional, involved in Operation Gladio. This would need to take place in every country in which it operated in Europe, and would need to also address the organizational and operational support of the CIA.

This is not about some obscure ancient history from the 1970’s and 1980’s. The link between Operation Gladio and present day terrorism is as disturbing as it is clear. Today NATO, multiple Western European governments and the government of the U.S. are suspected by increasing numbers of the world’s citizens of continuing to use false flag terrorism in order to validate their ongoing “war on terror.”

This war is at least in part designed to destroy the remaining secular governments of the Middle East while manipulating the control of petroleum and the resources of the region. In the course of pursuing such policies Western governments and institutions have now maneuvered the entire planet to the brink of nuclear war between the West and Russia. Yet in spite of the danger posed to all of humanity the U.S. continues a publicly stated quest to achieve full spectrum dominance. Given post-WWII history and our current state of affairs Western governments and institutions clearly exist as criminal entities which function outside the rule of all recognized morality and law, domestic and international.

Even the limited amount we know of the history of Operation Gladio should destroy in the mind of any thinking person the utter and complete fantasy that Western leaders would “never harm their own people” to achieve their larger strategic goals. Western elites in fact did so for many decades. They systematically killed their own citizens and they lied about it. There is a great deal of evidence that they continue to do both while hiding behind the mask of false flag terrorism. Our failure to adequately investigate and prosecute Operation Gladio paved the way for our current wave of false flag events used to manipulate Western public perception and behavior in support of endless war in the Middle East.

From the U.S. government’s official account of 9/11, which requires belief in the temporary suspension of the laws of physics in conjunction with the magical suspension of fighter jet intercept protocols, 9/11 can be seen as a logical continuation of Operation Gladio’s “strategy of tension.” 9/11 is

Nato-Terror: Gladio

false flag State terrorism writ large. It is by definition the “big lie.” It makes both the Reichstag fire, and Operation Himmler look like the work of small time amateurs. It is perhaps more than simply ironic that so many former Nazis made their way into U.S. intelligence services after WWII, given the many decades of politically useful false flag events in the West that have followed.

The State kills its own citizens and blames a foreign or domestic enemy. The population looks to the state for protection and surrenders their democratic rights to an ever more militaristic, invasive and repressive State. State power increases along with corporate profits in many sectors of the permanent wartime economy of the U.S. The bewildered populace lives in fear and is psychologically vulnerable to the next false flag terror event which in truth the government, rather than “terrorists,” actually control. In the instance of the 9/11 attacks it is the State itself that is the terrorist entity. The official Islamic enemies exist very simply as Oswald explained his own role, that of the designated “patsy.”

Since we have mentioned Oswald, the puzzle piece that is the JFK assassination, carried out by our deep state, fits quite well alongside the later false flag operations of Operation Gladio and 9/11, as well as intersecting the assassinations of European leaders such as Aldo Moro and Olaf Palme. These assassinations all appear to be activities of the unaccountable deep state institutional structures which exist outside of view, law and morality, and which serve to connect elites in Western Europe and the United States.

One cannot admit this information into one’s consciousness, without reaching the logical conclusion that Western governments and institutions have become quite literally massive criminal enterprises which routinely violate the very laws, international and domestic, they ostensibly exist to enforce. Given this state of affairs, it is rather difficult to view electoral politics as the way forward if justice, meaningful institutional change and a planet not rendered uninhabitable by nuclear war are our goals. Our institutional structures have shown themselves to be irredeemably corrupt.

The recent election cycle in the United States has writ this large into the consciousness of anyone with a pulse. If the two nominees of this past election are the “best candidates” with the “best platforms” the two major political parties can field, it is without doubt an absolutely definitive indictment regarding the deadly gangrenous condition of our electoral charade. Cognitively amoral and behaviorally psychopathic elite policies are hardly a new phenomenon.

For centuries such behavior has typified Western elites regardless of how polished their public personas. Such are the political scoundrels we peasants are graciously allowed to choose between every four years. There does appear to be a silver lining to the recent Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton carnival of the absurd. It would appear that for growing numbers of Americans of all persuasions the ability to continue to believe in the fairy tale that is the U.S. electoral process has finally been shattered beyond repair.

Before closing let us step back for a moment and imagine a world that might have been. A world in which progressive leaders in the U.S. and abroad had not been assassinated or overthrown in favor of fascists; dictators hadn’t been armed, taught torture techniques and supported against the interests of their own people decade after decade; and the CIA prevented rather than facilitated the international drug trade.

Imagine a world in which corporations and oligarchs weren’t allowed to own the mass media and so were not allowed to weaponize the news, reducing it to simplistic pro-war mass culture propaganda, all while buying the services of the political candidates who will support their ongoing war profiteering. Imagine a world that could have been in which the political organizing of the masses wasn’t systematically infiltrated, disrupted and shut down by the institutions of State; Third World nations were allowed to develop independently of Western subversion and control; and the massive amounts of Western taxpayer money spent on war and violence went instead toward the public good. This is the world that has been stolen from humanity by violent unaccountable oligarchic interests ruling through long discredited and massively corrupt Western institutional structures.

The history of Operation Gladio, including the failure of Western institutions to publicize and prosecute its murderous activities, unmasks our elites as capable of “doing literally anything” in their quest for power and domination. However, we are ourselves complicit. A public that can find any legitimacy whatsoever in economic and political institutions that systematically engage in and profit from endless war, while the 8 richest people possess as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire earth’s population, one fears, can make themselves believe literally anything.”

Gary Weglarz recently retired from practice as a clinical social worker. He worked with, and learned from, Alaskan Native peoples who were attempting to heal the damage inflicted by the collective intergenerational trauma of colonization. Currently he is engaged in research and writing regarding the relationship between past mass trauma in Western societies, and the subsequent colonial violence that has characterized Europe and her colonies.

He was actively involved in Central American solidarity efforts throughout the 1990’s, traveling with human rights delegations to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Colombia. He currently lives in France.

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Amnesty International to President Trump: ‘Arming Saudi Arabia & Bahrain risks complicity with war crimes’- By RT

© Anees Mahyoub / Reuters
A view of destruction in a street in the southwestern city of Taiz, Yemen March 16, 2017

US President Donald Trump should cancel impending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, since this could put civilians in even greater danger and implicate the US in war crimes, Amnesty International said in a letter sent to the president.

“The deals would arm members of a military coalition that has attacked thousands of civilians in Yemen and violated international humanitarian law,” the human rights group said in a press release published on Tuesday.

The organization noted that its experts found unexploded US bombs and “identifiable fragments of exploded US bombs” among the destroyed civilian buildings in Yemen.

If the US approves the deals while banning Yemenis from coming to the US, it would be like “throwing gasoline on a house fire and locking the door on [the] way out,” according to Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA executive director.

“The US should not continue to arm governments that violate international human rights and humanitarian law and simultaneously shut its doors to those fleeing the violence it escalates,” she said.

“Arming the Saudi Arabia and Bahrain governments risks complicity with war crimes, and doing so while simultaneously banning travel to the US from Yemen would be even more unconscionable. President Trump must not approve this arms deal,” she said.

On Wednesday, President Trump held a meeting with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi delegation hailed the meeting as a “historical turning point” in US-Saudi relations, “which had passed through a period of divergence of views on many issues.”

Speaking to RT last week, Ahmed Benchemsi, communications and advocacy director at Human Rights Watch’s Middle East & North Africa division, said that the US, UK, and France should stop selling weapons to Riyadh.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is “increasingly unsustainable” and urgent action must be taken by both sides in the conflict, he said, adding that the situation is turning into a “deep humanitarian catastrophe.”

Saudi Arabia’s coalition, which also includes Bahrain, began the military operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to bring the ousted government back to power.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the impoverished country, the UN reported in late February, while seven million people are close to starvation.

Comment: Further reading:

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The Crumbling American Superpower – Author: F. William Engdahl

14.03.2017 Author: F. William Engdahl



5463423232The catastrophic events around the California Oroville Dam in recent weeks underscores a far more urgent problem. The American Society of Civil Engineers has just released their quadrennial assessment of United States essential infrastructure–roads, clean water supplies, levees, ports, dams, bridges, electric grid. The report gives the nation a near-failing D+ grade. America is coming to resemble the economic infrastructure in the Soviet Union domestically at the collapse of communism during the late 1980’s. The recently-announced Donald Trump proposal to invest $1 trillion over ten years to address the problem, mainly building high-speed trains (to date the USA has not one) doesn’t even come close to the scope of the problem.

A Wall Street-driven agenda of globalization of US manufacturing and out-sourcing of production has left America a hollowed-out, crumbling Superpower. Since the 1980’s the United States has significantly under-invested in both new infrastructure and in renewing old. As US multinational corporations moved their factories overseas to cheap labor production in Mexico, then in Asia, especially China, and elsewhere, they found tax loopholes that allowed them to walk away from supporting the country that as recently as the 1960’s was the world industrial economic leading nation. Today US corporations hold $2.4 trillion in overseas profits that they keep abroad to avoid US taxes.

The result of all this neglect is that over the past three decades since the end of the 1980s, federal funding of major infrastructure projects such as dams has dropped by half, from 1 percent to 0.5 percent of GDP.

Infrastructure Report Card

On March 9, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2017 “Infrastructure Report Card.” They review the state of national infrastructure every four years. Since their 2013 report, despite four years of an alleged Obama economic recovery, the state of affairs is unchanged at a near-failing D+ with F being fail.

The US President just met with leading industry representatives to discuss his proposal for spending $1 trillion in a combination of public-private funds over 10 years, most apparently on roads and high-speed rail. The ASCE estimates that almost five times that, or $4.59 trillion, is urgently needed over the next 8 years only to bring the situation to a level of “adequate” or B grade by 2025. The economic cost to the national economy of the crumbling infrastructure is calculated annually in the hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted economic inefficiency.

Yet even that modest Trump proposal to spend $1 trillion in infrastructure is likely to be “dead on arrival” according to Wall Street analyst Randall Forsyth in a report in Barrons. One effect of more than eight years of abnormally low Federal Reserve interest rates have left the various state pension funds seriously underfunded, requiring them to draw more from state general budget funds. States will not have the money to join with the Trump national plan even were that to be passed by Congress, which itself is not at all clear. Forsyth notes, “In the United States, state and local governments count infrastructure projects as current spending—as opposed to investments, capitalized over the life of the projects, as with private corporations—budget constraints hampered their ability to fund projects.”

In addition, Trump has promised another Federal tax cut at the same time. In short, The Donald’s economic team don’t even have their infrastructure ducks in the pond, let alone in a row with reality.

Third World-Style Blackouts

Some of the report highlights are instructive and alarming. The nation’s basic electric grid is in dire straits. Most USA electric transmission and distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, with a 50-year life expectancy. Lines built in 1967 are today at their life end, yet still being used.

The increasing demand for electricity also means that the 640,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the power grids of the nation are at full capacityGiven the lack of investment in the power grid, aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks, and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, third world-style blackouts or power failures are in store for the nation unless urgently-needed investment is made.

Highway Arteries in Dire Condition

The nation’s highways are in dire condition. Sixty years ago the US Congress passed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 during the Eisenhower Administration, the National Defense Highway Act as it was also called. The Act authorized the then-huge sum of $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles (66,000 km) of the Interstate Highway System over a 10-year period. It was the largest public works infrastructure project in American history until then, comparable to spending $218 billion today. The US freight economy was deliberately being moved from rails as it had been before World War II, to large tractor-trailer truck transport and the Interstate Highway Act created a huge economic gain in time and efficiency for that transformation. The flexibility of truck freight over rail was significant and the financing was paid 90% by the Federal Government through a Highway Trust Fund paid for by federal fuel taxes to be used exclusively for highway construction and maintenance. The states paid 10%.

Since about 2007-2008 and the financial and economic crisis, the Federal Highway Trust Fund has been seriously underfunded, requiring emergency injections from the General Budget to maintain solvency. Because of the repeated refusal of the US Congress to raise national gasoline or fuel taxes to insure adequate repair of the Interstate Highway System, present condition of the nation’s roads is abysmal to put it politely. The current Federal fuel tax for the Highway Trust Fund has been set at $0.184 per US gallon, a level where it has remained since 1993. In Germany the Federal fuel tax is $6.14 per US gallon.

In addition, states that finance the maintenance of their roads with a state fuel tax have severely underfunded taxes there as well. As of July 2016, twenty one states out of fifty had gone ten years or more without an increase in their state per-gallon gasoline tax rate.

The result of this severe and chronic underfunding of Federal and state highway funds, according to the ASCE infrastructure report, is that more than 40% of America’s urban Interstate highways are congested and traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2014. One out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition.

Bridges to Oblivion

The United States is a vast expanse of land from New York to California in the so-called Lower 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Along Interstate I-80 you drive almost 3000 miles by car or 4800 kilometers. Many bridges make that national transportation possible.

The infrastructure report of the ASCE notes that of the 614,387 bridges, almost four in 10 are 50 years or older. Not just ageing, but 56,007 — 9.1% — of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2016. They calculate that daily on average there were 188 million trips across one or another structurally deficient bridges. They estimate a cost of $123 billion needed to rehabilitate those structural deficiencies.

Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink…

In the early 1960’s the clean water status of United States water supplies was world class. As an example, the water management practices of Dallas, Texas where I grew up, were under the direction of Henry J. Graeser, father of a close high school friend. Graeser went on to become president of the American Water Works Association. His consulting on clean water management engineering was in demand around the world. That’s merely one personal anecdote of the high quality of American water management just five or so decades ago. That’s no longer the case.

The report of the American Society of Civil Engineers states that in 2017 drinking water across the United States is delivered through some 1.8 million miles of pipes. Many of those water pipes were laid between World War I and World War II. Since they were laid, total US population has increased by two to three times from 100 million citizens in 1914, 140 million in 1945 to more than 310 million today.

The infrastructure to provide water to the significantly larger US population today includes dams and reservoirs, well fields, pumping stations, aqueducts for transport of large quantities of water over long distances, water treatment plants, reservoirs in the distribution system.

The water pipelines were designed with a lifespan of between 75 and 100 years. As one result of the deteriorating drinking water pipeline grid, the US undergoes an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year. Over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water annually is wasted as a result. That equals about half of total national water consumption for an entire month. According to the American Water Works Association, an estimated $1 trillion is necessary to maintain and expand service to meet demands over the next 25 years.

The report of the engineers’ society on infrastructure goes on to report similar alarming results for the US airports, as with the nation’s dams such as the still-endangered California Oroville Dam. The USA today has an estimated 2,170 deficient high-hazard-potential dams as a result of the lack of investment. Similar grim results are reported for America’s Inland Waterways, Levees, Ports, Rail, Schools, and Wastewater treatment plants.

During the Vietnam War era of the late 1960’s President Lyndon Johnson spoke of “guns and butter.” It did not work then.

Given the vastly higher level of National debt, and the far worse state of basic economic infrastructure today compared with the 1960’s, the guns and butter fantasies of the Trump Agenda have even less chance to work to restore the national economy.

Today, the sincerity of the Trump claim he wants to “make America great again,” rises or falls on the determination to prioritize the serious rebuilding of the economic infrastructure of the nation. That would actually return national economic value in form of increased jobs and increased economic efficiency and profitability. The wars with China, with Iran, with Syria and seemingly also with Russia that Trump’s team of warriors is intent on pursuing, are worse than a stupid waste of scarce national resources. Building up nations is far more appropriate and gratifying than destroying them.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”





Russia: Moderate Islam’s strong ally against a faltering and malevolent West – By Shihan Sazid (The Duran)

Russia has a new role both as the ally of moderate Islam against Western aggression, and as a factor for reconciliation between Islam and the West

How will a future historian will define this present era of human civilization?

Even though it is unusual to begin an article with a question, the present state of international affairs obliges it.

The occupation of Palestine and Kashmir, the endless war in the Middle East, the refugee crisis, the crisis of the fraudulent world monetary system, the unequal distribution of wealth, widespread poverty and malnutrition, the monster carbon footprint of the world’s developed economies, right wing extremism and the extremism of the far left, and last but not the least terrorism – will these be the topics that give titles to the chapters of the history of our present era ?

Comment: Yes to all but the carbon footprint.

The West’s Democracy God

The post colonial world gave rise to republican states. In the name of securing sovereignty and national security artificial borders were imposed, originally drawn up by the ex-colonial powers.

Developing and under developed nations are continuously pressured to meet the criteria of standard Western development. In the political arena the West assesses and defines the world according to its ideas of human rights, feminism, globalisation and most importantly democracy.

On the one hand the West dictates to the world the parables of Western values – which it insists the world must adopt – whilst on the other hand they use war and economic sanctions to punish any deviation from any of these ‘values’.

Among all the values which the West is imposing, democracy has come to serve the purpose of God.

This God is a jealous God, who takes no partner. This new God only appears in suit and tie and dictates his revelations in English. The theology of this God has “enriched” rituals of capitalism and of the free market economy.

Comment: The theology more closely resembles monopoly capitalism and fascism.

Which of course leads inexorably to the next step: in the name of this sacralised capitalism and free market economy big Western corporations exploit the national recourses of under developed and developing nations.

Nations who oppose this Western democracy commit blasphemy and must therefore sponsor terror.

The punishment for blasphemy against this new God is severe: bombing, sanctions, ‘nation building’ and ‘democracy promotion’.

So the result in the end of this Western superiority complex is the West’s constant threatening of the East and the invention of the idea of the ‘Clash of Civilisations’, leading to East and West being eternally divided from each other.

In other words the end result of any US and Western dominated unipolar world is the division of humanity amidst ‘Clash of Civilisations’ rhetoric.

In reality any true democracy should make space for both true conservatives and true leftists. That way genuine extremism can be avoided and replaced by valid and purposeful argument.

That of course is not the sort of democracy the West ‘promotes’ any more.

The result is that in the West today, instead of the historic division between true conservatives and true leftists, there is dominance of neo-conservatism and radical neo-liberals.

The clash between what are in reality simply two extreme forms of the same political ideology has closed the space for moderate voices. The result is the destruction of basic ideals of morality within the Western political establishment.

The role of the West in the Syrian war is a good example of what comes from this moral quagmire. In the name of arming the so called “moderates” the West has actually been arming and funding the throat and head cutting fanatics of ISIS/Daesh.

Today however the global dominance of the United States is being challenged by the re-emergence of Russia.

The New Russia

This is not the first time that Russia has set out an alternative vision for the world.

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 Russia became the centre of Orthodox Christianity, which helped Russia to develop its own identity as a separate civilisation different from the West.

Whilst the Vatican sponsored relentless wars in a crusade against the Muslim world to seize tiny pieces of land on the east Mediterranean coast, Russia preached the value of a completely different pacific non-crusading Christianity. From east to west, the vast territory of the Russian empire welcomed people from all walks of life and all types of belief.

Russia’s identify was lost following the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. In the name of establishing the rule of the proletariat Russians were forced to reject the core of their own civilization: Orthodox Christianity. That gave rise to the Soviet Union, which however fought two world wars, saving Europe from its own hubris of colonial and self destructive racial pride, and facilitated the struggle of the colonially oppressed peoples for freedom and nationhood.

The current re-emergence of Russia as a superpower has finally come to the notice of the world community as a result of the Syrian War. Russia’s bold stand in defence of the legitimate government of Syria challenged the entire system of chaos which the West’s unipolar world order has created.

But what is this Russian superpower which is now re-emerging? This is obviously a vital question of huge importance in determining the shape of the modern world.

The answer to this question in my opinion highlights the sources of Russian strength, showing why the new re-emerging Russian superpower has been able to face down the US hyperpower, and why it will also succeed in sustaining itself.

The key to Russian strength is its return to moderate values. As the Russians regain their faith a true conservatism now balances the former one sided extreme leftism of the Soviet Union.

As a result whilst the West has adopted a flawed neo-conservative/neo-liberalism model of fake democracy as its religion, Russia has become the beacon of true religion and true democracy for moderate faithful religious people everywhere.

The result is that the Western sponsored war in Syria has created a new window of opportunity for unity between two different world systems: Islam and Russia.

The State of the Muslim World

Let us now turn to look at the Muslim world.

Divisions between Muslims are uncountable today. The endless war in the Middle East gives grounds for feelings of hopelessness. Muslims are betrayed by their own leaders in these most difficult times. The plutocratic states of the Gulf and the House of Saud are in the pocket of the Western ruling elite. The extreme ideology of Wahhabism and Salafism wants to destroy every other sect of Islam.

These conditions create opportunities for the West to create more chaos, which ultimately results in even more wars.

The Syrian War

On the other hand, following the fall of the Soviet Union and Russia’s re-embrace of its Orthodox Christian roots, the political establishment in Russia has successfully reconciled moderate conservatism with the country’s leftist tradition. We can see the positive impact of this reconciliation and adaption of the Russian nation’s two values in the rational and balanced method of contemporary Russian governance and policy making.

In the Syrian war we have observed for the first time in the history of Islam a Sunni majority population stand in support of a Shi’a led government to defeat a Western intervention.

Here it is important to stress the wisdom of the Syrian Arab Army, which grasped what the results would be if the Assad government were to fall as a result of the attack orchestrated upon it by the Western powers. Perhaps the Syrian Arab Army learnt the lesson from the mistake the Iraqi Army when it abandoned Saddam Hussein during the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

There are some independent Western think tanks, which remain “relatively” free from the influence of the mainstream ‘warhawks’, but which still demand the removal of President Assad for various debatable reasons in order to achieve a political settlement in Syria. However there are two fundamental problems with this approach.

Firstly, in light of the war going on in Syria, any effort to change the government of Syria at a time of existential crisis for the country would create a power vacuum, just as previously happened in Iraq and as is now the case in Libya. Given the conditions on the ground in Syria, that would be bound to turn Syria into a safe haven for terrorist groups like ISIS/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra.

Secondly, no matter what happens in Syria, it should be a fundamental principle that only the Syrian people have the right choose their government. In the chaotic and violent environment which now exists, there is no chance of the Syrian people being able to express their view through nationwide election.

Russia’s intervention in Syria

Russia’s involvement in the Syrian war is strategically unique, and has been very effective in terms of achieving quickly a positive outcome.

President Putin extended Russia’s hand by providing Syria with military help in response to an official request from the Syrian government. Politically and diplomatically the fact that Russia was responding to a formal request for help from the legitimate government of Syria helped Russia counter Western propaganda that might have sought to portray Russian intervention in Syria as an invasion of Syria.

Russia also took the completely correct decision of not putting ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria.

If Russia had sent infantry brigades to Syria, then it would have created opportunities for the West to intensify the war into a broad regional conflict so as to trap the Russians into a never ending war; just as the US is trapped in precisely such a war in Afghanistan today.

So Russia maintained a controlled approach to help the Syrian Arab Army that kept the door open for Russia to withdraw.

Of course both the Russian military and the Syrian Arab Army must be given credit for the successful use they made of this controlled approach. Accurate intelligence sharing between the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Air force played the key role in achieving success, ensuring that the aerial bombing by the Russian Air force was effective, thereby creating the opportunities for the Syrian Arab Army to go onto the offensive and regain territory from ISIS/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra.

The Role of Iran

This controlled approach also created space for regional players like Iran to involve themselves in the conflict on the side of the Syrian government and share in the successful outcome of the war.

The Syrian Arab Army’s victory also makes the position of Iran stronger diplomatically and politically. The result is that the West, especially US, can no longer ignore or overlook the role of Iran if they genuinely seek an end to the conflict.

The US along with its Western allies has already been forced to compromise with Iran in the recent Nuclear Deal. Now the West is being forced to compromise with Iran in Iraq and Syria because of Iran’s growing local influence as the regional superpower.

Syria’s – Not Russia’s – ‘Mission to Accomplish’

Lastly Russia’s timing in scaling down its massive but successful bombing campaign was also strategically unique.

The most important thing the Russians have never done in Syria is declare “Mission Accomplished”. Accomplishment of the mission has to come from the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army, not from Russia, because it is the Syrian people who are the ones who are principally fighting this war, for their own and for Syria’s survival against Western backed terrorists.

The real accomplishment of the mission will anyway not be achieved after the end of the fighting because though it obviously has to include a military victory such a victory can only be firmly consolidated by a political and diplomatic settlement.

The battlefield victories of the Syrian Arab Army have created the opportunity to bring the other side to the table at the talks underway in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Right now in Astana the opposition has no option but to talk with the Syrian government directly, something it has always resisted doing until now.

The Role of Turkey

The positive role Turkey is playing in favor of a peaceful settlement is also a major development. Turkey is a major military power in this region and is Syria’s largest and most powerful neighbor. The Turkish government can therefore be expected to play a decisive role in influencing the outcome of the negotiations which will bring an eventual end to the war.

The most important point to emphasise here is that the negotiations in Astana is the result of a joint Turkish-Russian diplomatic initiative. Russia had to make a major political and diplomatic effort to achieve this.

When Turkey shot down the Russian SU24 bomber near the Turkish border in November 2015 Russia could have retaliated against Turkey in kind. However that would have merely escalated the situation, bringing relations between Russia and Turkey to the point of crisis.

Instead President Putin showed great forbearance and patience, refusing to provide the West with a chance to trap Russia into a direct confrontation with Turkey which might have involved NATO and which might have threatened to turn the Syrian war into a global war for which Russia is unprepared and in which it would have been at a severe disadvantage.

President Putin also showed clarity and strength in decision making during the military coup in Turkey, giving support to the Erdogan government whilst the attempted coup was still underway.

For his part, after securing his government’s survival by defeating the coup, Turkish President Erdogan wasted no time visiting Moscow, where he gave the signal for a revision of Turkish foreign policy towards Russia.

This has had important consequences. Despite being a member of NATO Turkey is refusing to participate in the recent military buildup by NATO around Russia’s eastern border. Moreover the new Turkish-Russian relationship is becoming even stronger through the establishment of joint economic projects like the Turk Stream pipeline, growing Russian investments in Turkey, and Russia’s phased withdrawal of the economic sanctions it had previously imposed on Turkey.

Conclusion: The Emerging Alliance of Russia and Islam

Now let us review all these developments from a civilisational perspective.

In these dark times of internal division in the world of Islam, the Syrian people – Shi’a, and Sunni, together with all the other sects of Islam living in Syria – united together to defend their country against foreign aggression. They found their ally in moderate Russia.

The Muslim world is in fact edging closer to an alliance with Russia precisely because of its betrayal by its own self-appointed rich Gulf “leaders”, who have been trying to dominate the Muslim community through their version of pseudo Islam, which is destroying the image of Islam as a religion of peace, and which is destroying the voice of the moderate Islamic establishment.

The good news is that this alliance between Muslims and Russians is getting bigger and stronger. The new role Turkey has adopted can only have a positive impact on the development of this new alliance.

Moreover the only nuclear powered Muslim nation, Pakistan, is also getting closer to this alliance.

In November 2016 Russia and Pakistan conducted their first ever joint military exercise despite huge objections from India. Further building up Pakistan’s confidence is the fact that Russia and China at the recent BRICS summit jointly rejected India’s effort to have Pakistan declared a terrorist state.

A Possible Rebirth for the West?

What impact will this new emerging alliance have on the West?

After fighting two world wars the West is still in crisis, having failed to develop a political philosophy that can embrace new emerging nations from the east as equal partners. As a result the chances of new global conflicts are increasing in a way which could be suicidal for the whole of humanity.

Russia’s role in its new emerging alliance with the Muslim world will be not to fight this global conflict. It will be to prevent it and by doing so to help the West in its quest to find a political soul that reflects humanity first, and which decisively rejects war, because in war there are no winners, war being first and foremost about the destruction of the human spirit.

Comment: The US Deep State (even with Trump in office and working to subdue it) is so entrenched, and so malevolent in its intent – that saving its “political soul that reflects humanity” – may be close to impossible at this point. But seeing this dynamic in just such a framework may go a long way towards helping individuals of the US and elsewhere to help strengthen their own humanity, and their own souls; our own souls.



Syrian Army Liberates Aleppo Water-pumping Station from ISIL Terrorists – By Chris Tomson



BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:15 A.M.) – Unprecedented gains were acchieved in the eastern Aleppo countryside on Tuesday as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) wrestled control of over 30 villages from ISIS in less than 24 hours.

Moments ago, the SAA’s Tiger Forces also captured the town of Al-Sukhny, thus setting foot on the western bank of Lake Assad (Euphrates River) for the first time in five years.

Effectively, the SAA’s offensive has almost entirely expelled ISIS from Aleppo province. In addition, the advances cancel any plans by the Kurdish-led ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ about advancing towards Raqqa city from the western bank of the Euphrates River.

As a token of appreciation, the SAA brought two bottles of Euphrates water to Russian generals at Kuweiris Airbase in show of gratitude for their air support. According to AMN correspondent Yusha Yuseef, the symbolic bottles will be flown to Moscow shortly.

Next up, the Tiger Forces will strike southwards along Lake Assad until they encountered ISIS’ last defensive line on the axis between Jirah Airbase and Deir Hafer.

Due to today’s SAA advancements, the Tiger Forces have not only lived up to their reputation as fearsome assault troops, but also arguably proven to be the most effective fighting force in the fight to defeat the Islamic State.

HD map version here.

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Steve Bannon: Israel First, America Second – By MintPress News Desk

In painting chief White House strategist and head of the National Security Council as an anti-Semitic white supremacist and fascist, the mainstream media ignores the real danger posed by Steve Bannon, who is poised to further expand the power of the executive branch.

Steve Bannon, chief strategist for U.S. President Donald Trump, and head of the National Security Council, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 7, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/CNP/MediaPunch/IPX)

WASHINGTON — (Analysis) Though President Donald Trump, his inner circle, and new political appointees have been no strangers to controversy in recent years, perhaps no figure has been more contentious than Trump’s chief strategist and former campaign chairman.

Steve Bannon has figured prominently in numerous recent headlines, in part due to his promotion to a top position in the National Security Council earlier this month. The unprecedented move has met with fierce criticism by many on the establishment left.

Yet nearly all of the “mainstream” news coverage surrounding Bannon has been identical in their analysis of the man: Accusations of racism, white supremacy, and fascism abound, as does the characterization of Bannon as the real power broker behind the president.

However, as Bannon has noted on more than one occasion, the media has gotten it all wrong.

That’s not to say that Bannon isn’t dangerous, but rather that the media’s attacks against him — much like their continued invectives against Trump — are focused on accusations along racial lines. Such arguments are somewhat true, but more often than not, they serve as a distraction from the true dangers Bannon poses in his new position as director of the National Security Council.  

In addition, these assertions, in part due to their flimsy basis, are easily debunked by the conservative news organizations that Trump’s base largely rely on, furthering populist anger at the “liberal media” and improving the standing of these outlets in the eyes of their readers.

These attacks play right into Bannon’s hands, notably because they ignore the real danger that he presents.


A Walking Contradiction: Bannon as both an Anti-Semite and Zionist

Steve Bannon poses with outspoken Zionist Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. This image was tweeted by Boateach after their meeting. (Photo: Twitter screenshot)

More often than not, mainstream media accounts of Bannon often include accusations of anti-Semitism and allegations that he is sympathetic toward white nationalist ideology.

Some of the key evidence cited to justify these views come from divorce court proceedings, in which his now ex-wife accused him of not wanting to send their daughter to a particular school due to the high number of Jewish students in attendance. Other examples include articles published by Breitbart News, which Bannon has controlled since Andrew Breitbart’s death in 2012.

For example, in early 2016, Breitbart ran an article, co-authored by Milo Yiannopoulos, titled “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” Though the article said that the “alt-right” had little to do with white nationalism, it went on to cite Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader of the National Policy Institute, as an intellectual leader of the movement and also attempted to excuse the white nationalist cause along with truly anti-Semitic memes, particularly those involving “Shlomo Shekelberg.” While some could argue that Bannon can’t be personally responsible for everything Breitbart publishes, this piece — which defended the worst excesses of the decentralized “alt-right” movement — was essentially an endorsement of these elements.

Considering Bannon once boasted that Breitbart was the “platform for the alt-right” this article — an article Bannon was obviously aware of due to the controversy it generated — is more or less, a tacit endorsement of certain elements of Spencer’s dangerous ideology. Though Bannon has not publicly spoken about his opinions of Spencer, his silence following the publication of this particular article speaks volumes.

Yet, despite his allegedly anti-Semitic leanings, Bannon has been widely embraced by prominent Zionists in American and Israeli politics. Bernie Marcus, a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, issued a statement saying, “I have known Steve to be a passionate Zionist and supporter of Israel who felt so strongly about this that he opened a Breitbart office in Israel to ensure that the true pro-Israel story would get out.”

Even Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, echoed this sentiment, saying:

“Israel has no doubt that President-Elect Trump is a true friend of Israel. […] We look forward to working with the Trump administration, with all of the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, and making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”

It may seem strange to suggest that one could be simultaneously anti-Semitic and pro-Israel.

A sign hangs on a building under construction in Jerusalem congratulating U.S. President Donald Trump, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Trump has vowed to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

However, Bannon’s ties to white nationalism hold the key to interpreting this conundrum. White nationalism and Zionism are both based on the formation of “ethno-states,” nations that serve the interests and culture of one particular ethnic group. Thus, recognizing the legitimacy of a Zionist state and its geopolitical goals serves to legitimize the white nationalism that often expresses anti-Semitic sentiments.

Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and cultural commentator, elaborated on this point when he told the Forward in November that this seemingly contradictory mix of anti-Semitism and Zionism are actually perfectly compatible thanks to their underlying nationalism. He explained:

“Anti-Semitism and right-wing Zionism are varieties of ultra nationalism, or, to put it more pejoratively (as it deserves to be put) tribalism. They both presume that the embattled righteous ones need to bristle at, wall off, and punish the damned outsiders. They hate and fear cosmopolitan mixtures. They make a fetish of purity. They have the same soul. They rhyme.”

Bannon’s allegiance to Zionism manifested in key ways since his appointment to the top position in the Trump campaign in August. Coincidentally, around that same time, Trump pivoted much closer to Israel — a pivot that truly came into its own when Trump vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem in his first week in office (a move that the administration apparently quickly moved to downplay).

It is Bannon’s commitment to the Jewish ethno-state of Israel, not his alleged connections to white nationalism or anti-Semitism, that presents one of the real dangers inherent in Bannon’s prominence in the Trump administration.


America or Israel First?: Bannon’s likely influence on the National Security Council

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens as President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP/Evan Vucci)

As Bannon and other Zionists in the Trump administration are surely aware, it is a difficult game putting “America first” while also faithfully serving the Zionist agenda, which inherently requires prioritizing the needs of Israel.

While mainstream media outlets have decried Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council, citing claims of white nationalism and racist ideology, they are missing the point.

Supporting the state of Israel also means supporting its geopolitical goals — goals which benefit the Israeli people much more than their American counterparts. Despite the incongruence, it is often the American people who foot the bill.

Many of Israel’s recently stated goals focus on Iran and its “containment,” and the Trump administration has already readily embraced this stance. From a missile defense system targeting Iran to his vow to dismantle the Iranian nuclear deal, Trump and his right-hand man Bannon have clearly aligned themselves with Israel’s foreign policy goals despite the fact that these latest actions are likely to result in war with Iran.

Although starting a war with Iran does little to benefit the American people, it would go a long way toward furthering Israel’s “supreme goal” of maintaining hegemony in the Middle East. This view has recently gained greater traction following the Trump administration’s “Muslim ban,” which conveniently only targets those Middle Eastern countries that the United States and Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, marked for regime change following the 9/11 attacks.

With his new post on the National Security Council, Bannon now has the power to guide national security policy in favor of his Zionist ideological leanings.

Yet Bannon’s new role is about more than advancing a particular agenda. His position on the National Security Council and the removal of key intelligence establishment figures from that council, as independent geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser noted in an interview with MintPress News, is “first and foremost, a centralization of power.”

“This is part of the mechanics of empire,” Draitser said. “They don’t want checks and balances, they want to bring the power to themselves and centralize it. They are doing that by purging the joint chief of staffs and those in the upper echelons of power.”

Indeed, the timing of Bannon’s promotion has all the markings of his hallmark political strategy, occurring at roughly the same time as the controversial “Muslim ban,” which has dominated the news cycle. This has resulted in little time and attention being paid to the unprecedented move that Bannon’s inclusion on the National Security Council represents — the further consolidation of the power of the executive branch.

Augmenting the power of the executive branch is nothing new. This trend has been a continuous feature of all recent presidencies, most notably under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Both administrations, as noted by Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, used executive privilege as a strategy for national security at the cost of Americans’ civil liberties, particularly the expansion of the surveillance state.

Throughout the past two administrations, the National Security Council also took on broader powers, particularly with regard to the management of the government’s secretive “kill list.” This list allows the government to order the death of any person, including American citizens, who are “suspected” of terrorism.

The National Security Council is not required to keep a record of the decision to include a particular individual on the list nor a record of the operation used to kill those listed. Even before Bannon’s appointment to the body, Trump had made use of this list. Within his first week in office, Trump’s administration oversaw the “kill list” murder of the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was killed extrajudicially via this list. His American teenage son was also killed extrajudicially under Obama. This suggests that Trump’s use of these broad powers will continue to bring more of the same.

Watch “The Bizarre Far-Right Billionaire Behind Trump’s Presidency


Bannon: The anti-establishment strategist of the establishment

Bannon’s name is one of the most notorious in U.S. politics today, but it wasn’t always that way. Even Bannon admits that he wasn’t at all political up until his military service, when Jimmy Carter’s policies turned him against the Democrats and led to his enduring admiration for Ronald Reagan.

Though Bannon’s brand of conservatism has guided him for decades, his foray into the U.S. political landscape is relatively recent, beginning more or less with the rise of the tea party movement, which he helped to coordinate and bring to prominence.

Bannon’s work with the tea party and his subsequent role as a founder and executive chairman of the popular conservative news website Breitbart has painted him as decidedly anti-establishment, a characteristic Bannon himself touts as a major driver of his strategy and political vision.

However, an examination of his past brings Bannon’s establishment ties into sharp focus. It also shows that these connections have helped to shape his acumen for political strategy as well as his ideology.

In the early 1980s, Bannon became special assistant to the chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon, and he obtained a master’s degree in National Security Studies from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service a few years later.

Enticed by Wall Street’s resurgence in the Reagan era, Bannon sought to join the ranks of the nation’s elite bankers, prompting him to enroll at Harvard Business School in 1983. Though successful in his studies, Bannon had difficulty gaining access to top firms due to his military background and his blue-collar roots.

However, a chance encounter led him to rub elbows with key Goldman Sachs operatives, which ultimately granted him a spot within one of the world’s most controversial and powerful banks, sealing Bannon’s deep connections to the very establishment he professes to stand against.

Beginning his work at Goldman Sachs during the height of the hostile takeover boom, he eventually left to specialize in media and entertainment acquisitions — a move that made him a small fortune. However, he learned a lot in his time at Goldman Sachs.

“One of the things Goldman Sachs teaches you, don’t be the first guy through the door because you’re going to get all the arrows,” Bannon told Bloomberg in October of 2015, illustrating the origins of his “behind the scenes” approach to shaping policy.

Bannon continued: “Goldman would never lead in any product. Find a business partner.”

Now, Bannon’s latest partner, the president of the United States, has bestowed upon him the ability to guide the policy of the entire country.


‘No fundamental change … just a recalibration’

Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, looks on as Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Due to the groundwork set under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Trump and his closest advisors have inherited an executive branch complete with sweeping powers, many of which are arguably unconstitutional.

With a clear disdain for establishment politicians in Congress and other branches of government, the current administration will only seek to expand this.

Now, Bannon is set to help determine the direction of the country’s national security policy.

Given his disdain for the other branches and agencies of the federal government, it’s all but guaranteed that he will also seek to expand the power of the executive branch.

As Draitser noted, Bannon’s ascent to the National Security Council and the expansion of power this means for the president, brings “no fundamental change to U.S. policy, just a recalibration.”






el valle del río Barada

Baradaa River Valley where all the water is.  (Thanks, Silvia)

Ayn Al-Feeja:  With 5.5 million citizens crying for water, you would think there would be anger against the Syrian government.  Not so, says Monzer, who lives in Damascus.  He writes to me about how the hatred is not directed at the government, but, at the engineers of this catastrophe – the devil-worshipers of Nusra/Alqaeda and the defected vultures of Ahraar Al-Shaam.  All venom is spat out at the rats and only them.

This morning, the SAA and allied forces (HZB) rushed JN positions who were dug in around apartment buildings in the north of the town and stunned the sleeping, huddled, cringing rodents with artillery fire, then infantry assault and then paratroop drops forcing the enemy to try and regroup, and failing that, speed away to temporary safety in the east of the town.   As the SAA pursued the fleeing vermin, there were some who tried to hold ground and the fighting became quite violent and bloody for the rats.  By the time it was over, 14 carcasses were counted and an estimated 40+ would need medical care that was not available.





الجيش السوري يسيطر على الأبنية الشمالية المحيطة بنبع الفيجة

Cemeteries:  The SAA was able to liberate an important hill overlooking the cemeteries today.  All told, 12 ISIS rat carcasses were counted, a PKC cannon destroyed and a whole arsenal of side arms were seized after a field assessment was accomplished.

Panorama Roundabout:  Rodents trying to infiltrate to an area filled with trenches at the southeast entrance to the provincial capital were foiled and pushed back with 11 dead one of whom was called:

“Abu Yusuf”

Muhassan Town:  The SAAF targeted a command-control center here near the Al-Busayyid Mosque killing 12 rodents:

Raaghib Ahmad Al-Hammaad

Badr Hameed Al-‘Alyawi

‘Abbood Al-‘Alyawi

Raaghib Al-‘Areef

Salaah Al-Mahmoud Al-Turki Al-Saalim


comment image

(Thanks, Daniel Rich)


6 TU-22-3M intercontinental bombers flying out of Russian airbases fired missiles at ISIS warehouses and arsenals destroying all their targets.


(Photo courtesy: SANA)

Al-Qooriyya Village:  The day before yesterday, near the Al-Bu’awwaad Mosque, the Syrian Army killed 2 ISIS rats:

Kassaar Al-Haddaawi

and his adjutant.




وفد الجمهورية العربية السورية يغادر إلى الأستانة

Dr. Bashar Al-Ja’afari leaves Damascus International Airport with the Syrian delegation after consultations with his principals and heads for the Kazakh capital of Astana to begin the Russian and Iranian sponsored talks with the opposition.  


The Syrian delegation was made up the following individuals besides Dr. Al-Ja’afari:

Ahmad ‘Arnoos (Advisor to the Foreign Minister)

Dr. Riyaadh Haddaad (Syrian Ambassador to Moscow)

Ahmad Kusayri (Member of the People’s Assembly)

Haydar ‘Ali Ahmad

Usaamaa ‘Ali

Amjad ‘Issa

Brig. Gen. Saleem Harbaa (frequently seen commentator on military matters)

Brig. Gen. ‘Adnaan Hulwa

Col. Saamer Buraydi

This is one conference where nothing is going to happen.  The rodent opposition is represented by none other than Jaysh Al-Islam’s disgraced former leader, Muhammad ‘Alloosh.  His approach is so diplomatic and appropriate that Dr. Al-Ja’afari had to point to it as some kind of deviation from ordinary civilized speech.  This murdering criminal ‘Alloosh should not even be allowed to sit with dying hyenas.  He demanded a resolution to label all foreign groups in Syria, including HZB, as terrorists.  I am told the Syrian delegation could hardly keep from laughing out loud at that suggestion by a declared child molester and rapist.

So far, the proceedings are largely ceremonial.  Dr. Al-Ja’afari, in his opening statement mentioned that Kazakhstan was the tomb of the great Mameluke King and general, Al-Malik Al-Zhaaher Ruknuddeen Baybars Al-Bunduqdaari.  In truth, Baybars is buried in Damascus at the Al-Zhaahiriyya Library.  That’s about all we can think of in terms of remarkable events.

It is the purpose of this meeting to strengthen the cease fire which has really not taken a hold over all Syria.  One of the reasons is that Jaysh Al-Islam, a Saudi creation, continues to violate the agreement by opening fire on Syrian ground forces trigering a response.  This is all a waste of time and money.


RETIRED ARMY NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER SFC STEVEN M BARRY (USA Ret) rails against U.S. machinations: (Sent to Ziad via email. Edited by Ziad only for grammar)

What if another Country did to the United States what the United States has been doing to other countries for the past thirty years? Or, to more tightly focus on the subject: what if another Country did to the United States what the US has done to Syria?

Another country’s equivalent of USAID, and its satellite “NGOs” work for a decade to undermine and subvert government by organizing and training “activists” — of whatever stripe — and then stage a “populist” “color revolution” out of which “suddenly” and “spontaneously” springs an armed opposition. Then, when the legitimate government cracks down on the “activist” and armed “opposition” that government is denounced as “tyrannical” and “oppressive,” a regime that must be changed. In order to ensure regime change in the US that Other Country translates into mercenary armies (that it trained and organized — and leads) of hundreds of thousands to the US in support of the “activists” and when the US Army (justly) responds the US regime is accused in the Other Country’s press of “killing its own people.”

It gets better.

Then, in response to the armed opposition that the Other Country created and set in motion, the Other Country declares a “war on…(fill in the blank)” and grants itself the “responsibility to protect (R2P)” the people of the United States who are being terrorized and murdered by the Other County’s own armed opposition mercenary army (which of course is blamed on the US Army). The Other Country then begins a bombing campaign in the US; nominally against its own armed opposition mercenary army — so the story hangs together in the media — but in reality bombing US civilian infrastructure and occasionally (by “accident” of course) the US Army. The civilian infrastructure soon laid waste, large portions of the population, desperate to escape the Other Country’s R2P, find themselves in the unhappy condition of refugee. (Real refugees, not so called “migrants” the US wrings its hands about.)

There is no need to amplify.

Syria is being saved from the malice of the United States by its friend and long term ally, Russia — much to the white-hot fury of the United States. But here is something to consider. What sane country would come to the assistance of the US (given its history of regime change) if it were the victim of regime change by an Other Country acting like the United States? What sane country would succor American refugees?

Justice is defined as rendering to another what is his due. The United States is owed justice – in spades.



Hans Hilffer sends us this Al-Mayaadeen video interview with Vanessa Beeley about the White Helmets:

Read about a 3 year old girl in Al-Faw’ah murdered by Obama’s cannibals.  (From Waf Halabi)

Here’s Eva Bartlett’s coverage of the children of Faw’ah and Kafarayyaa:  (From Patrick Henningsen)



One sunny day in January, 2017, an old man approaches the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue where he’d been sitting on a park bench. He speaks to the U.S. Marine standing guard and says,

“I would like to go in and meet with President Obama.”

The Marine looks at the man and says,

“Sir, Mr. Obama is no longer president and no longer resides here.”

The old man says,

“Okay,” and walks away.

The following day the same man approaches the White House and says to the same Marine,

“I would like to go in and meet with President Obama.”

The Marine again tells the man,

“Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Obama is no longer president and no longer resides here.”

The man thanks him and again walks away.

On the third day, the same man approaches the White House and speaks to the very same U.S. Marine, saying,

“I would like to go in and meet with President Obama.”

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looks at the man and says,

“Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Obama. I’ve told you already that Mr. Obama is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don’t you understand?”

The old man looks at the Marine and says,

“Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.”

The Marine snaps to attention, salutes, and says,

“See you tomorrow, Sir!”




ISIS, al-Qaeda, U.S. Air Force waging coordinated war on Syria’s public infrastructure – By Bernhard

The idea of the Islamic State was “born” in the U.S. military prison camp Bucca in Iraq. Many of its future leader were interned there and had time and space to develop their philosophy and to plan their future operations.

In 2012 the Defense Intelligence Agency warned of the rise of an Islamic State entity in Syria and Iraq:


In an August 2014 NYT interview with Thomas Friedman, President Obama said that the U.S. knew about the dangers of ISIS but did nothing to stop its expansion in Iraq because it could be used to oust then Prime Minister Maliki:

The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.

In a recent talk with some U.S. paid members of the Syrian opposition Secretary of State Kerry (video – 25:50) made a similar point but with regard to Syria:

“And we know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that DAESH was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened” Kerry told the Syrians. “(We) thought, however,” he continued. “we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate. But instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him.”

There are doubts that the U.S. was only watching from afar. The beginning and growth of ISIS was financed by U.S. Gulf “allies” which are subordinated to U.S. wishes. When the Obama administration had to start bombing ISIS after it killed a U.S. journalist the few bombs its airforce dropped were hitting an “ISIS fighting position” or an “ISIS excavator”. That wasn’t a serious campaign. Meanwhile thousands of Turkish tanker trucks were waiting in the deserts to load oil from ISIS-controlled wells to sell it to Turkey. Only after the Russian President Putin showed satellite pictures of those huge truck columns to his colleagues at a G20 meeting did the U.S. start to attack this major source of ISIS finances.

At the end of last year the U.S. military bombed a Syrian government position in Deir Ezzor where some 100,000 Syrians are besieged by ISIS. It killed more than Syrian 100 troops and enabled ISIS to take important hill positions that may eventually help it to conquer the city. This was an intentional strike.

Currently a campaign is waged by the Takfiri forces opposing the Syrian government and by the U.S. to deprive the people under its protection of all public utilities – water, gas and electricity. After the start of the current blocking of the water supplies to Damascus and its 5-6 million inhabitants we noted:

This shut-down is part of a wider, seemingly coordinated strategy to deprive all government-held areas of utility supplies. Two days ago the Islamic State shut down a major water intake for Aleppo from the Euphrates. High voltage electricity masts on lines feeding Damascus have been destroyed and repair teams, unlike before, denied access. Gas supplies to parts of Damascus are also cut.

This campaign against basic infrastructure has since continued. U.S.-supported “rebel” groups take part in it. Al-Qaeda in Syria, aka Jabhat al Nusra, does its share in Wadi Barada. The U.S. military just bombed another Syrian power station. In 2015 it had already waged a campaign against such installations creating huge material damages. Since three days Deir Ezzor and surroundings have no electricity at all. Yesterday ISIS again joined the campaign and blew up a huge gas processing facility in Hayyan in east Homs. Hayyan is the largest such station in Syria and provided electricity, heating gas and cooking gas for all of south Syria including the capital Damascus.

This is a systematic, wide ranging campaign against Syrian infrastructure designed to deprive the people living under government protection of the basic necessities.

If you would ask the U.S. government it would of course say that such a campaign does not exist and is totally not coordinated by the U.S. and its Gulf proxies. It is just coincidence that U.S.-supported “rebels”, al-Qaeda, ISIS and the U.S. airforce all hit the same category of targets in Syria at the very same moment of their war against the Syrian people.

In knowledge of the top U.S. sources quoted above I would be inclined to doubt such an assertion.

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