All Watched Over by The Anglosphere of Loving Grace: Big Brother is keeping ‘Five Eyes’ on you – By Darius Shahtahmasebi – – RT

five eyes surveillance

Just last week, the world’s leading snooping powers quietly and without notice issued a disturbing warning to tech giants, telling them to surrender unprecedented backdoor access to their citizens’ data.

Not many people know this, but the United Kingdom has some of the most extreme spying powers in the developed world. At the end of 2016, passing what some people called the “Snooper’s Charter,” the UK put into law some of the most draconian anti-privacy laws that we have ever known, allowing its government to compel companies to break their own encryption.

The UK plays a pivotal part in the so-called Five Eyes alliance, which also includes the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Nobody knew it at the time, but the American military base which my family and I grew up next to has played a crucial role in delivering US drone strikes across the Middle East and beyond. America’s drone-strike regime, largely considered illegal for numerous reasons, is not something that countries should willingly participate in lightly and without public scrutiny.

Why am I mentioning this? Because it goes to the very heart of my point: the extent to which we know or do not know what our governments are doing behind closed doors is quite literally a matter of life and death.

Now, it has been revealed that the Five Eyes alliance, dedicated to a global “collect-it-all” surveillance task, has issued a memo calling on their governments to demand that tech companies build backdoor access for states to access users’ encrypted data or face measures that will force companies to comply.

The memo was released quietly with little media coverage last week by the Australian Department of Home Affairs, and essentially demanded that providers “create customized solutions, tailored to their individual system architectures that are capable of meeting lawful access requirements.” The memo was reportedly released after ministers for the intelligence agencies of the Five Eyes nations met on Australia’s Gold Coast last week.

The most laughable aspect, of course, was the opening sentence, which ironically reads: the “governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are committed to personal rights and privacy, and support the role of encryption in protecting those rights.”

Yes, of course. Also worthy of note is the order in which those countries appear in the memo, clearly ranking from biggest bully in the playground to the push-over child at school who is just happy and content to be a part of the “club.”

If we are to take the memo at its face value, end-to-end encryption is potentially our best friend. The memo itself admits that some encrypted data is nearly impossible for intelligence agencies to crack on their own, as they are struggling to make sense of the data they are currently intercepting. This is why they are forcibly calling on the world’s leading tech providers to do their work for them.

Will those tech companies cave in to these government’s demands? You can bet your bottom dollar that eventually, yes, they very well might. While Facebook did not comment directly on the memo, instead attempting to refer questions to a public blog that the social media giant published in May explaining its policies on encryption, there is one important ingredient missing from the future of these policies.

After Donald Trump was elected in 2016, the US establishment and its media cohorts went into a “fake news” frenzy that saw Barack Obama deliver a stern attack on Facebook directly, supposedly being one of the main disseminators of fake news. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and founder, completely dismissed the idea that Facebook played a substantial role in this, stating:

“Voters make decisions based on their lived experience. We really believe in people. You don’t generally go wrong when you trust that people understand what they care about, and you build systems that reflect that.”

Despite this statement, hoping no one had noticed, barely a few days later, Facebook then announced it was adopting a string of measures to fight “fake news” after all.

Why the sudden change in heart? Could it be that, according to the Washington Post, in that trivial space of time, Barack Obama personally pulled aside Zuckerberg in a private room, on the sidelines of a meeting of world leaders in Peru, so that the president could make a personal appeal to Zuckerberg to take the threat of “fake news” more seriously?

Comment: More likely, the same people who controlled Obama ‘let Zuckerberg know’ which side his bread was buttered on. They can regulate FB, destroy it, take it out of the Zuck’s hands, or simply have him ‘have an accident’. As should be patently clear to everyone now, real power is exercised from the shadows…

In other words, these big companies will always inevitably cave to government pressure whether or not they even agree with what these governments are saying. According to the New York Times, one Facebook official said that the Australian memo had “no teeth,” but was in fact “part of an escalating war between governments and Silicon Valley tech giants over access to people’s private data.”

Comment: ‘Silicon Valley’ is the US deep state military-industrial complex ‘in the flesh’. All of it began with, and is thus still founded on, DARPA, i.e. the Pentagon and ‘the intelligence community’.’Silicon Valley’ IS the government. Together they form CorpGov.

In that context, the warnings speak for themselves. The companies who do not comply with these nations’ demands will be hit with “technological, enforcement, legislative, or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions,” according to the memo, which does not detail what sort of measures these will be. Also unclear is how much access and to what, exactly, the governments of the Five Eyes are proposing. However, it seems likely that the least it would allow each government is access to encrypted call and message data relating to their citizens.

Given that Facebook has been breaching our privacy in favor of government agencies for a long time now, you can rest assured that Zuckerberg will not put up any meaningful resistance to this new decree issued by the Five Eyes network.

This idea of “fake news” and still-unsubstantiated claims of extensive foreign interference in Western democracies more or less set the tone for the Five Eyes gathering in Australia. Perhaps, just perhaps, the aim of these governments was not to discuss what to do about child-trafficking or international crime as they claim, but actually something more broadly related to containing these powers’ number-one adversary (here are two clues).

It is worth noting that there has been next to no criticism of these Five Eyes powers for delivering such a blatant attack on our right to privacy. Remember that, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to “wrest control of the internet,” as the Guardian wrote approximately three years ago. But these same Western media companies are awkwardly silent about what their own governments are proposing to do, something which other nations could only dream about achieving on such a global scale.

It needs to be said that now is the time to start paying attention. If you think the same governments that facilitate terrorism all over the planet want to access your data to in good faith to do nothing other than foil terrorist plots, you are nothing short of naïve.

Privacy matters, whether you think you matter or not; and if you don’t believe me, who better to demonstrate this point than Mark Zuckerberg himself?

“This same division can be seen with the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, who in an infamous interview in 2010 pronounced that privacy is no longer a ‘social norm,'” journalist Glenn Greenwald noted in his TEDtalk, “Why Privacy Matters.”

“Last year, Mark Zuckerberg and his new wife purchased not only their own house but also all four adjacent houses in Palo Alto for a total of $30 million in order to ensure that they enjoyed a zone of privacy that prevented other people from monitoring what they do in their personal lives,” Greenwald continued.

So, why does all of this matter anyway? If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, am I right?

Firstly, security researchers and other critics of these backdoor access proposals have stated time and time again that there is no workable way to create a “secure backdoor” that would not be vulnerable to intercept by hackers who have not been sanctioned access to the data.

Secondly, this line of nonsensical thinking was graciously debunked and tossed into the fire, never to be seen again, by none other than infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden, who stated:

“…privacy isn’t about something to hide. Privacy is about something to protect. That’s who you are. Privacy is baked into our language, our core concepts of government and self in every way. It’s why we call it ‘private property.’ Without privacy you don’t have anything for yourself.”

“Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing that you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

For those of us who have plenty to say, the memo is nothing but an attack on all our fundamental rights and freedoms, and should be rejected in the same manner in which the media has chosen to ignore it.

About the author

Darius Shahtahmasebi is a New Zealand-based legal and political analyst, currently specialising in immigration, refugee and humanitarian law.

Comment: ‘All watched over by machines of loving grace’ was a Californian hippy’s poem from the 1960s, envisioning a computing/digital utopia. British docu-maker Adam Curtis named his 2011 series after it, in which he explored how the computing/internet age enslaved rather than liberated people. The original techie innovators and gurus predicted that politics-as-usual would disappear. Instead, everything has become intensely political, and the predominantly anglophone structure of world power is arguably more entrenched and brutal than ever before.

See Also:

“Nowhere to Run”: Chaotic Exodus as Yemenis Flee Saudi-UAE Bombardment of Hodeida – By Ahmed Abdulkareem (MINT PRESS)

Displaced Yemenis, who fled their homes amid a deadly Saudi/UAE invasion of the port city of Hodeida, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

Thousands of Yemenis have fled the port city of Hodeida amid a deadly Saudi/UAE invasion causing a mass exodus of internally displaced people in the already war

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Mohammed Mousa, 31, has sharp wide eyes. Enthusiastic and angry, he shouts slogans against Yemen’s latest invaders while in the midst of a huge rally in Hodeida. Mousa was one of the thousands of Yemeni residents of the Tihamah region to take to the streets on Friday to protest the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition’s assault on their city. Carrying banners, Kalashnikovs, and Yemeni flags, they chanted lyrics from Yemen’s national anthem “my heartbeat shall remain that of a Yemeni … no foreigner shall ever hold dominion over Yemen.”

The protesters hold the United States responsible for crimes committed in the war and for the consequences of the U.S.-backed Saudi-coalition blockade, welcoming fighters from across Yemen who have descended upon Hodeida to help in the defense of their city. They also condemn the United Nations for its inaction, calling on it to shoulder its responsibility to protect civilians and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Mousa, who lives only 300 meters from the embattled Hodeida airport, is one the many residents of Tihamah who fled home days ago. Family in tow, he walked six kilometers, hiding behind walls and under trees to avoid Saudi airstrikes before finding shelter at a school inside the city.

“They told us that buses could not come in or out so we started walking, carrying our children and stopping every once in a while to rest while Apaches hovered above,” Mousa told MintPress. “We were scared; we saw dead bodies in al-Gharasi.” Six civilians, including four women, had been killed by an airstrike that targeted a bus full of displaced residents near al-Gharasi earlier that week.

“Now we’re in this school, no mattresses, no electricity, no water, no bathrooms, nothing, and we have children who need food and medicine” Mousa said, sitting on the floor of an empty classroom housing those displaced by Saudi and UAE attacks. Dozens of families have sought shelter in local schools, unable to secure assistance elsewhere thanks to a coalition blockade of the city’s port, the sole entry point for up to 80 percent of the country’s humanitarian aid.

A Yemeni mother and her child, displaced by a deadly Saudi/UAE invasion, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has warned that the U.S.-backed Saudi-coalition attacks on Hodeida could endanger the lives of millions, forcing civilians to seek shelter in schools further away from the fighting. He added, “the Saudi and Emirati coalition’s ongoing attacks on Hodeida could cause enormous civilian casualties and have a disastrous impact on the life-saving humanitarian aid to millions of people, which comes through the port.”


They chose to die on their land

Just as al-Hussein warned, thousands of families have fled the intense fighting near Hodeida’s contested airport, as coalition forces ramp-up indiscriminate airstrikes in a bid to wrest control from Houthi forces. UAE Apache helicopters have been striking schools and homes in the neighborhood of Manzar abutting the airport and at least four civilians were killed and a girl injured when an airstrike targeted their home in the Hawk district, a neighborhood near the airport.

Read more of MintPress’ exclusive reporting from Yemen

A family member, speaking on condition of anonymity, told MintPress:

They refused to be displaced from their home or farm, they preferred to die on their land instead of leaving it to foreign mercenaries.”


“What are we going to do now?”

Other residents in the area have fled to cities further from the fighting, seeking shelter inland in Sanaa, or northeast to the mountainous city of Hajjah. Days ago, Sanaa’s southern entrance, which links Sanaa to Hodeida, was packed with buses and cars fleeing Hodeida. Traffic was at a virtual standstill as cars — some packed with up to 20 people, mostly women and children — entered the city.

Samah, a 19-year-old resident of Hodeida, fled to Sanaa with 20 other displaced families, hoping it would be safer than Hodeida. “We didn’t have time to gather our clothes; we lived in hell in a school, and I knew warplanes would target us,” Samah told MintPress from behind a torn burqa.  Samah lost her aunt and her aunt`s family when two Saudi airstrikes targeted a camp for internally displaced people in al-Hali on April 2, 2018, killing more than 20 refugees, mostly women and children.

Displaced Yemenis, who fled their homes amid a deadly Saudi, UAE invasion of the port city of Hodeida, arrive in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

Since March of 2015, when the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition began its military campaign against Yemen, several camps for the internally displaced have been targeted by coalition forces. Last July, at least 20 civilians, including women and children, were killed in a Saudi-coalition airstrike in the village of al-Atera in the Taiz province.

At the Abu Bakr Center for internally displaced people located in southwest Sanaa, men, women, and children stood in long lines under the blazing sun waiting to register their names before being transferred to schools in other regions. Anxious, exhausted and gripped by fear, they carry the few personal belongings they were able to secure before fleeing Hodeida.

There, a woman can be overheard telling her husband “our numbers are very large, what are we going to do now? I’m scared for my kids; we don’t even have blankets, maybe we’ll stay here tonight.” He replied simply, “God will help us.”

Abdul-Wahab al-Sharif, director of the National Commission for Humanitarian Affairs, told MintPress that as of Saturday about 300 families had reached Sanaa. “We have 47 centers for the displaced and only three of them are ready to receive people, with only simple accommodations.” Many of the displaced suffer from malaria, rashes, diarrhea and some are suspected to have cholera, but al-Sharif says there is no medicine or medical care: “We are already in a humanitarian crisis.”

A Yemeni mother and her children, displaced by a deadly Saudi, UAE invasion, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP


No place to run

The suffering of Yemen’s internally displaced people is severe. Some have relatives in Sanaa and other places outside of Hodeida, but many do not, forcing families to seek shelter in small makeshift tents inside of unfinished buildings, on the edges of roads, and sometimes even in waste dumps.

Most of them spend their time begging for food in the street, oftentimes relying on remnants of bread and rice to satisfy their children’s hunger. As the situation continues to deteriorate, most are unable to find jobs or secure a regular source of income.

Others, deciding their prospects are bleak anywhere they go, have entrenched themselves in their homes. Sauad, a 50-year-old mother of six living in Hodeida, has been unable to flee her home. Her husband died from cholera last year and she now faces constant bombardment, a lack of clean water, and power cuts. She told MintPress,

We have lived in a state of terror for three days because of the warplanes and Apaches. We couldn’t escape, I have children and no place to run.  We haven’t even had water for 28 hours.”

Top Photo | Displaced Yemenis, who fled their homes amid a deadly Saudi/UAE invasion of the port city of Hodeida, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 23, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

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

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Syrian military takes full control over Eastern Ghouta – By TASS

April 12, 8:15 UTC+3

Russian military police units will be deployed in Douma to maintain law and order during its transition under control of Syria’s legitimate government

© REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

DAMASCUS, April 12. /TASS/. The Syrian government army has taken full control over the city of Douma that was held by the Jaysh al-Islam group and now all of Eastern Ghouta is under the control of the government forces, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing parties in Syria Yuri Yevtushenko said on Thursday.

“Today marked a landmark event in Syria’s history. The state flag was hoisted on the Douma building which signaled [Damascus’] control over this settlement and, hence, over all of Eastern Ghouta,” he said.

According to Yevtushenko, Russian military police units will be deployed in Douma following its liberation from the terrorists to maintain law and order during its transitional period to come under control of Syria’s legitimate government.

The Russian reconciliation center said earlier that it was wrapping up the evacuation of militants and their families from Douma. Yevtushenko said on Wednesday about 4,000 militants and their family members had left the city during the past day, surrendering more than 400 pieces of weaponry, including large-caliber machine-guns, grenade launchers, sniper and assault rifles.


Since late February, more than 41,000 people have left Douma, and more than 165,000 have fled from Eastern Ghouta. As many as 250 hostages held by militants have been released.




Thousands evacuated as families, injured leave E. Ghouta during ceasefire (PHOTOS, VIDEO) – By RT

Thousands evacuated as families, injured leave E. Ghouta during ceasefire (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Thousands of Eastern Ghouta residents – the biggest number leaving the area so far – have embarked on a journey to escape the shattered suburb during a humanitarian pause.

Almost 11,000 civilians have been safely evacuated, the Russian military said.

Some 800 civilians were leaving the area every hour through a humanitarian corridor established by the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria and the governmental forces, the footage taken on the ground was showing crowds of civilians moving through the corridor. While some of them go by car, most still travel over this long distance on foot. Entire families are seen leaving the area, with the people often carrying their children. Some are also seen carrying stretchers with injured or sick relatives.

READ MORE: Militant groups split & clash in E. Ghouta, civilians seek shelter – Russian MoD

The people who managed to flee the areas controlled by the armed groups told RT that militants continue to use civilians as human shields and commit various atrocities against the locals, preventing them from leaving. “The terrorists did not let us leave. They hid behind our backs,” a young man who came from the militant-held territory told RT. He went on to say that “the situation there [in the areas controlled by the armed groups] is dire,” adding that the locals are being “exploited and starved” by the militants.

The extremists do not give food to the locals, supplying only those who help them, the man said, adding that their own warehouses are “full of foodstuff.” An old man, who also left eastern Ghouta through the humanitarian corridor on Thursday, said that there are no locals among the militants that control the region. He also said that they kill every local who dares to “say something against them.”

Earlier, evacuees also provided accounts of how militants controlling Eastern Ghouta drove up food prices and imposed harsh punishments for even the slightest transgressions.


The mass exodus has been facilitated by the fact that hostilities in some parts of eastern Ghouta have nearly ceased. The situation in Douma, the biggest town in the region, which is still held by various armed groups, has “significantly stabilized,” the Russian military said.

The humanitarian pause also allowed aid to be provided to civilians, according to an earlier statement from the Russian Reconciliation Center, which added that the ceasefire between the warring parties in the area held for three days in a row. The center sent two humanitarian convoys last week, delivering 318 tons of food and medicine to Douma. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also said on Thursday that a joint UN-Syrian Red Crescent convoy of 25 trucks with humanitarian aid has entered a militant-held area in eastern Ghouta.

The militant-held suburb of Damascus has been the scene of intense fighting since Syrian government forces launched an offensive in February in a bid to dislodge rebel fighters from their last bastion outside Damascus. Russia has been assisting Damascus in an effort to help evacuate civilians via humanitarian corridors and bring in the vital aid and supplies.

Reporting what the mainstream media won’t: Follow RT’s Twitter account

We Have Independent Evidence That al-Nusra Was Arrested With Sarin Gas – Author – By SPUTNIK

A picture taken on February 28, 2018 shows flames erupting in the horizon following a reported rocket attack in al-Shaffuniyah, in the enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus

© AFP 2018/ Ammar SULEIMAN

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Washington is looking into the possibility of launching new attacks against Syria, according to US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, as the new strikes could come as a response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Radio Sputnik spoke with senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, Dr. Tim Anderson.

Sputnik: In your view, how likely is it that a new US attack against Syria is going to happen?

Dr. Tim Anderson: Well it’s unpredictable because the rationales keep changing and the US commitment to this war is uncertain at the moment because they have steadily been losing for the last couple of years, but these sorts of threats have become rather routine. 

It might sound a little bit different because we have a new intelligence spokesperson here appointed by President Trump last year but he has been in their intelligence committee since the beginning of the conflict, so he is really part of the establishment of this war. But it’s a repetition of what we have seen several times before.

READ MORE: Anti-Militant Protests Erupt in Syria’s East Ghouta in Support of Syrian Army

Sputnik: Last year when President Trump ordered these strikes the world was very negative, it was a very divisive action that happened and probably a bit out of surprise in terms of what he was talking about before. So if these new strikes do happen, what are the repercussions that may happen and bring for the Syrian government as it stands at the moment and for the peace process in the country? It certainly looks like it’s going to go backwards, by the sound of things.

Dr. Tim Anderson: Well if you listen to the rhetoric, I suppose, coming out of Washington, that’s the problem that the rhetoric is at a very high level. In some ways it’s at a high level because they are running out of options and really they have been losing for quite some time, as I said. 

Remember that it was US intelligence back six years ago that said they knew that extremists were in the insurgency and that is exactly what they wanted. Only just a few weeks ago, Defense Secretary Mattis said that, well, they didn’t have any evidence directly of use of sarin gas in Syria. 

READ MORE: Israeli PM Calls US Envoy to UN ‘Hurricane Haley’

We know, however, from independent evidence that Jabhat al-Nusra*, the group you just mentioned, was arrested in Turkey with sarin gas and that the UN investigated the use of sarin gas early in 2013. So if you look at the facts, the independent evidence has said that the al-Qaeda** groups have used sarin gas and the Syrian government has not. But it doesn’t stop the US from keeping using that rhetoric to try and heat up things and try to undermine the possibilities of a political settlement. 

Sputnik: As the rhetoric continues it is very confusing what the end game is, as I mentioned before; what comes next for the Syrian peace process from your point of view, what can you share with our listeners?

Dr. Tim Anderson: The local on the ground military solutions in many respects have been very important and also the reconciliation, let’s not forget that since 2012 there has been this process of trying to reintegrate fighters who didn’t have blood on their hands, who weren’t directly involved in killing people. 

READ MORE: AfD MPs in Damascus: Media Coverage of Syrian Conflict is Fundamentally Untrue

People who have assisted those groups or those who have been bought over with Saudi money and so on, and that has led to more than ten thousand people, I can’t give you an exact figure on that. So there has been some process inside the country and then there was a process in Sochi just recently after the Astana talks, where significant number of groups, internal opposition as well as external opposition, which is important, agreed to adoptive framework of leading to a new constitution. 

I think the US is really upset with that it doesn’t have a say in that and it’s been taken out of its hands by the regional players and Russia and perhaps a lot of these recent provocations have been trying to undermine the fact that, not only on the military level but at a diplomatic level and political level, there is movement towards a resolution here.

*Jabhat al-Nusra is a terrorist group banned in Russia

** al-Qaeda is a terrorist group banned in Russia


The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Tim Anderson are those of the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

USS Carl Vinson in Vietnam port: Americans hammer out new scheme to deter China – By RT

USS Carl Vinson in Vietnam port: Americans hammer out new scheme to deter China
The arrival of an American aircraft carrier in Vietnam indicates Washington’s intention to make the country a part of its new anti-Chinese block, which also includes Japan, Australia and India, an expert on Asia told RT.

USS Carl Vinson and two other US Navy vessels were greeted in the port of Danang on Monday, marking the largest American military presence in the country since the Vietnam War in 1955-1975.

The five-day visit of the 103,000-ton aircraft carrier is “a minor provocation against China…aimed at inciting or strengthening the anti-Chinese moods among the Vietnamese,” said Yury Tavrovsky, a professor at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. 

He added that the countries have overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea and a history of military conflicts, including the Sino-Vietnamese border war of 1979, in which both sides claim victory. “By letting the US battle group in its port, the Vietnamese are telling China that it should take Vietnam into account otherwise it may switch to the American side.”

“The Americans have begun hammering together a new scheme of deterring China, called the ‘Quad.’ It includes the US, Japan, Australia and India… It seems that they’re hoping to pull in Vietnam into this quadrangle, turning it into a kind of an anti-Chinese star,” he said. The leaders of the ‘Quad’ countries have held their first talks during an ASEAN summit in Manila, Philippines in November last year, among other things, discussing such issues as “upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and respect for international law, freedom of navigation and overflight.”

However, the expert was skeptical of the US’ ability to actually make Hanoi one of the ‘Quad’ members. “I don’t think that this’ll work out for purely economic reasons. China is currently the largest export market for Vietnam. And the successful economic development is now more important for the Vietnamese than any prejudice, memories of the 1979 war and even territorial disputes.”

READ MORE: ‘Chinese province of the Philippines?’ Duterte says Beijing’s military bases only threaten the US

“By spoiling relations with China, Vietnam will get nothing. Besides, the Americans have a habit of screwing up their allies as they did to the South Vietnamese authorities in the end of the Vietnam War,” he added.

Tavrovsky said the US has constantly made attempts to encourage various countries in the Asia-Pacific to “bark at China or even try to bite it.”

“They had high hopes for the Philippines in this regard because there are disputed islands between Beijing and Manila. But it didn’t work out… Philippine president, [Rodrigo] Duterte, who came to power [in 2016] said: ‘No, we’ll maintain good relations with China.’ He went to Beijing and returned with billions of dollars in trade deals and aid packages.”

“When the bet on Duterte failed, the US decided to try it with Vietnam. If this also doesn’t play out, they’ll try it with Laos, Burma or even South Korea. The Americans are playing their usual games,” he added.

According to the expert, the Chinese are taking notice of the US’ steps and are likely to respond by building more weaponized artificial islands in the South China Sea.

“The deterrence of China is a part of larger American strategy of chaotization of the world,” Tavrovsky said. “The more tension there is in relations between countries, the better it is for the US, which will take the role of a referee in those disputes and extend its existence as a sole superpower, which is currently hanging in the balance due of the economic and domestic political reasons as well as the increasingly evident pushback from China and Russia.”

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How Come Thousands of ISIS Militants Have Suddenly Gone Missing? – By Martin Berger (New Eastern Outlook)

Author: Martin Berger




In recent months, American politicians have presented the public with a constant barrage of statements about various Islamic State (ISIS) strongholds in Iraq and Syria falling in their hands one after another. One can recall that last year the so-called Islamic State lost both of its capitals: the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the Syrian city of al-Raqqah. In fact the above mentioned radical Wahhabi formation has already lost all of its territorial claims in the Levant. The speed with which ISIS has been surrendering its territories may lead a casual observer to the conclusion that its militants have simply vanished in the dim morning mist.

It’s worth mentioning that as early as 2016, ISIS warlords began arriving in Libya from both Syria and Iraq to assess the dire situation this country was in, with it virtually unchanged since the toppling of Muammar Qadaffi. The rationale behind their decision to move the better part of their assets to Libya is rather simple, since there’s been no real government to speak for seven years. The Western media has suggested that ISIS militants would likely ravage Libya if pushed out of Iraq and Syria.

At the same time, there’s been quite a few reports about ISIS operations being carried out in Afghanistan with rapidly increasing frequency. At the senior levels of leadership within the terrorist organization, orders to begin a campaign of asymmetric warfare have been made in the event that ISIS suffers catastrophic defeat on the battlefield.

Before such a campaign can begin, however, ISIS sympathizers must reach distant regions in both Syria and Iraq to begin forming partisan detachments there.

Additionally, ISIS militants were supposed to disperse themselves inconspicuously among local populations, creating sleeper cells in order to resume hostilities when “the time is right”.

It is possible for fleeing ISIS militants to also escape the region entirely – to Central Asia or Europe under the cover of refugee status, creating similar sleeper cells abroad and creating an enduring security threat as seen in Europe.

We have also heard that many ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria have died in battle or were executed, that some surrendered, and some taken prisoner. But what is disturbing is that there’s no exact figures whatsoever. The only thing one can state with certainty is that the absolute majority of them have managed to escape retribution. So, where are they now?

Mind you that four years ago the CIA would announce that there were approximately 50,000 ISIS militants operating in Iraq and Syria. Other governmental bodies would state figures twice as high. As for local Kurdish leaders, they have claimed the number was as high as 200,000.

According to a report issued by the Iraqi military in August 2017, there was at least 30,000 foreign mercenaries fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq, including 8,000 Europeans and 6,000 Tunisians. Allegedly, some 28,000 were killed.

In December 2016, the Pentagon would announce the figure of 50,000 ISIS fighters killed in Iraq and Syria over a two year period. Next year it would announce than 40,000 foreign mercenaries were neutralized in Syria alone.

Of course, none of the above mentioned figures can be verified, however it is clear that the casualties that ISIS allegedly suffered are greatly exaggerated. After all, without those nonexistent deceased militants being counted in the tens of thousands, Washington would have no justification for its ongoing presence in Iraq and Syria, as its contribution to the actual fight against terrorism is negligible. It is also worth asking that if such a large number of militants have been killed, why hasn’t evidence regarding mass graves turned up?

In addition, we must not forget that thousands of people who were captured by ISIS militants are still reported as missing. Their relatives are trying to establish their fate, assuming they escaped custody after ISIS’ defeat in Iraq and Syria. Therefore, even if some graves are to be found in the cities that were occupied in Syria and Iraq, it is most likely that those would be the graves of the hostages taken for slave labor by ISIS, since it is unlikely that those militants would try to transport them to other regions of the world.

The EU Coordinator for Combating Terrorism, Giles de Kerchove, announced last August that some 5,000 European militants were trained in Syria and Iraq, and that a third of them returned home. If this statement is true, have European security services identified them, especially considering only 1% of those who returned home were immediately arrested upon arrival?

It turns out that ISIS militants who have escaped death and remain at large are now fighting Syrian armed forces in a bid to destroy Syria. Somehow American officials are always able to find a common language with terrorists when it suits their interests.

The mystery of the “disappearing” militants is solved as Syrian SANA news agency reported on yet another “CIA operation”, filming Western military helicopters coming to rescue ISIS militants they were supposed to be fighting. In broad daylight the US-led coalition aircraft were seen evacuating their sworn enemies, which was later confirmed by the British BBC. A month earlier, the British reported that more than 250 field commanders and 3,500 members of their families were evacuated from liberated al-Raqqa to the north of the country by the same US-led coalition. From there, some militants were able to travel across the border to Turkey or disappear by blending into local populations.

And here the truth of pro-Western “freedom fighters” is exposed. Their cause shifts with the whims of its foreign sponsors, and when sponsorship is no longer feasible, the narrative collapses completely, exposing them as the mercenaries and terrorists they were from the beginning. And despite this fact, the US and its partners are still attempting to salvage them for future use.

Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”


‘Made in America’: El Salvador’s mass graves are the worst “shitholes” – By Roberto Lovato (Latino Rebels)

Victims of the El Mozote Massacre

© Magnum Photos/CC
Victims of the El Mozote Massacre

My journalist’s hiking boots still have leftover feces and dirt from the ultimate shitholes of El Salvador: its mass graves. Many of the thousands of graves that my sources there have mapped were dug by U.S.-trained and funded security forces in the 80s. Most of the rest were dug more recently by L.A.based-gangs steadily deported to El Salvador by U.S. immigration authorities since the 90s.

President Trump’s characterization of Africa, Haiti and El Salvador as “shitholes” disturbed me, but I wasn’t sure why. The comments were made during a discussion about the temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of Salvadoran, Haitian and other immigrants Trump had just rescinded. In search for an answer, I went home and pulled out and studied my boots , which were tattered after too many visits to mass graves, mass graves with the remains of Salvadorans-in El Salvador, in Mexico and in the deserts of south Texas. Wearing my hiking boots during visits to numerous sites along this chain of devalued life led me to the conclusion that mass graves were the ultimate shitholes.

What made me most uncomfortable was less about Mr. Trump’s choice of word than how he used it: he mistook the shithole part for the whole country. Trump’s rhetorical fallacy feels like a cover-up, a distraction from the fact that El Salvador’s mass graves contain fingerprints and other evidence that point to the United States as an accomplice to the mass murder and violence that created them. Viewed from this perspective, Trump’s “shithole” comment said in words what all US presidents have said with their policies towards countries like Haiti and El Salvador.

Consider, for example, the Salvadoran case of El Mozote, the site of the massacre of almost a thousand peasants, a crime whose irresolution still haunts many. Some 37 years after the mass massacre, forensic evidence from mass graves proved that 553 of those victims were children, many of them under six years old.

Protest against US involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War in Chicago, Illinois, in March 1989

© Linda Hess Miller/ Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
Protest against US involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War in Chicago, Illinois, in March 1989

El Mozote is the best documented of El Salvador’s thousands of mass graves, many of which remain unexcavated. Forensic experts with El Salvador’s Institute for Legal Medicine and the world renown Argentine forensic team told me that their evidence -bones, shoe marks, hair samples, bullet shells- of the mass killing at El Mozote pointed to elite Salvadoran soldiers trained in places like Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, Georgia, formerly known as the notorious “School of the Americas.” Evidence from recent Salvadoran and international court cases corroborates this. The boots, bullets, weapons, helicopters and uniforms used during the massacre were all Made in the U.S.A. And the evidence trail isn’t limited to El Mozote.

A United Nations Truth Commission established by agreement between the Salvadoran government and the FMLN guerrillas at the end of the civil war in 1992 concluded that U.S. trained security forces had perpetrated 85% of the killings of innocents during the war that left over 75,000 dead. Most of the perpetrators remain free. The forensic evidence left by El Salvador’s US-trained and funded military is undeniable at El Mozote, in the murder of El Salvador’s only saint, Monseñor Romero, in the case of the 4 Maryknoll nuns raped and killed in 1980, just as it is in the cases of the tens of thousands of other, lesser-known slaughtered innocents.

The war-era mass graves I visited around an area called Panchimalco are located right next to the more recent mass graves dug by gangs in the area. Like the weapons and training used by the Salvadoran military, the gangs themselves were also born in the United States, specifically Los Angeles’ Pico Union neighborhood. I remember because I was there in the early 90s, when police of the Rampart police division -the site of the worst police scandal in U.S. history- started pushing the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs to escalate the warfare between them. The Rampart division’s well-documented tactics -planting guns for false arrests, taking a young man in gang from one neighborhood into the hostile territory of rival gangs, shooting and even killing gang members and make it seem like rival gangs did it- did much to foment violence among the gangs.

Most damaging for El Salvador and its shitholes was the way LAPD then broke sanctuary laws designed to protect people fleeing extreme violence and other disasters from deportation. In the early 90s, the LAPD and INS began the fatal practice of handing the young gang members over to the then Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for deportation. In the process, these agents of US policy helped create a gang culture in a country with no history of U.S.-style gangs and gang warfare. These gangs have since gone on to fill the mass graves that mark El Salvador as one of the most violent countries on earth.

In immigration terms, the shithole is a distraction. Calling the countries shitholes, but also designating them as counties ready to both receive hundreds of thousands of deportees and lose billions of dollars sent home by them is also a logical -and tragic- fallacy, another policy failure. But if the President is going to use such language, he should back up his words with policy that recognizes U.S. responsibility for the foreign war and immigration policies that create catastrophes. In other words, I would prefer Trump walk the shithole talk-and can give him the hiking boots to do it with.

Comment: See: Senators Cotton and Perdue: “Trump didn’t say shithole”For more on the supposed Trump comment and it’s relevance to the state of world affairs, check out SOTT radio’s: The Truth Perspective: Left by the Wayside on a Right-hand Turn: What Happened to

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Russia defeated ISIS in Syria so what was the US doing? – By David William Pear Op – Ed News

Russia army military

Who defeated the Islamic State In Syria?

With a $1 trillion annual military budget why did it take the US six years to ‘beat’ a ragtag militia?

Before answering that question. What is the ISIS? Can the public overcome its chronic amnesia and think back to the sudden appearance of ISIS dressed in brand new black uniforms, gleaming white NIKE’s and driving Toyota trunks? They seemed to appear out of nowhere in 2014. ISIS looked as if it were a mirage when it appeared, or more likely a CIA staged scene from Hollywood.

No sooner had ISIS appeared than it went on a head chopping binge that repulsed and frightened the US public. Washington officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry rang the alarm that this hoard of Islamic crazies wanted to invade the US and “kill us all”. A well-compliant mainstream media swallowed Washington’s script and regurgitated it to frighten a US public. The public gave its silent consent for more war really aimed at Bashar al-Assad.

The next question is who created ISIS? ISIS “can trace its roots back to the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian. In 2004, a year after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden and formed al-Qaeda in Iraq” [BBC News December 2, 2016]. Al-Qaeda in Iraq did not exist until after the US invasion by the Bush-Cheney administration.

The US invasion of Iraq was based on pure unadulterated lies that Saddam Hussein supported al-Qaeda, was involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US and had weapons of mass destruction. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was predictable blowback, resistance against a US illegal invasion. Bush who admitted that he creates his own reality, had hallucinations of a grateful Iraqi people, who had just been bombed back to the Stone Age with Shock and Awe, throwing kisses and flowers at the US expeditionary force as liberators.

Then came the failed Surge in 2007 [The Nation], when the US allied with Sunnis to defeat the remnants of the Iraqi Ba’ath Party, which was an Arab Nationalist Party neither Sunni nor Shia. The cynical sponsoring and siding with radical Islam goes back to the British “Great Game” of the early 1900’s. It was the British double-dealing with both Sunnis and Shias to supplant the Ottoman Empire, and turn Sunni against Shia to divide and conquer Southwest Asia. It is the story of Lawrence of Arabia, Winston Churchill and World War One.

One could then pick up the story after World War Two when the US was opposing Arab anti-colonial nationalism and communism during the Cold War. It was the “Grand Chessboard” strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski who convinced Jimmy Carter in 1980’s to back the Islamic radical mujahideen mercenaries and destroy Afghanistan in order to lure the Soviet Union into a Vietnam-type trap. Brzezinski was so proud of his success that he would later rhetorically ask to his shame, which is more important “Some stirred-up Moslems” or winning the Cold War.

If Brzezinski was so clever he would have learned from the British early 1900’s Southwest Asia super spy Gertrude Bell. As she would later say, the British Empire encouraging and sponsoring of radical Islam backfired into a big failure. But the US does not know history, even its own history of repeated blunders of encouraging and sponsoring radical Islam against Arab anti-colonial nationalism.

So instead the US enlisted the most radical right-wing fascist regime in the history of the world, the Absolute Monarchy of Saudi Arabia to bankroll Sunnis against Arab nationalism. They gladly funded US regime change projects against secular Arab states. The US flush with cash from the Saudis went about encouraging, training and paying mercenaries from all over Southwest Asia to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Assad did not share the US role as the world leader of capitalist globalization. Instead Assad was using Syria’s wealth for the benefit of the Syrian people, just as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. “Assad must go”, chanted Obama, Clinton, Kerry and Saudi Wahhabis. To the US it did not matter how many Syrians, Libyan or Iraqis died. As Madeleine Albright had said, “500,000 dead Iraqi children are worth it”.

It was the US and its allies the Absolute Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States that created ISIS. Mercenaries from all over the Muslim world were recruited and even supported with their own air force, the United States Airforce. The mainstream media gave the US the cover story the US was backing “well-vetted moderate [‘Jeffersonian democrats’ really] Islamists”. The mainstream media are criminal coconspirators for spreading war propaganda, the Guardian being one of the worst offenders, with a few rare exceptions, such as Trevor Timm’s reporting.

Now with the ringing in of the 2018 New Year, we can expect the US to be patting itself on the back for defeating ISIS in 2017 . The real story is that it was Assad, Russia, Hezbollah and Iran that defeated ISIS (so far). For those without amnesia they may remember back to when Russia released videos of endless convoys of black-market ISIS oil tankers heading into Turkey. ISIS was partially funding itself with stolen oil and enriching black marketeers of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Somehow, the US with all of its technology and thousands of bombing missions in Syria never saw all those tankers. Nor could they find ISIS fighters, so instead they bombed the Syrian army. The US only saw what it wanted to see and what it wanted to bomb. It was not ISIS. Here are the videos of Russian jets taking out ISIS oil tankers:

Some of the mainstream media grudgingly acknowledges that Russia had a hand in rolling back ISIS. Even then the mainstream media downplays the Russian contribution to a support roll, rather than the primary force. Instead the US mainstream media gives the credit to ” the US and 67 other nations from around the world”. It was, they say the US that “trained, supported and provided air support” to local Syrian rebel good-guys, the mythical democratic moderates, that the US was supporting that defeated ISIS. City after city, and village after village were destroyed by ISIS, US bombing and an invisible US moderate rebel force as it created hundreds of thousands of Syrian casualties and refugees.

According to the mainstream media, the Russians stepped in late “to provide air support for the Syrian government” backing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against rebels threatening his rule, but also targeting some ISIS territory”. Unmentioned is that Russia was legally “invited” by the legitimate government of Syria, while the US and its coalition are committing a war crime of aggression against a fellow member country of the United Nations.

Now we are going to be hearing that one year of Trump did what 8 years of Obama could not do. We are going to be hearing more of how in just one year “ISIS went from attracting thousands of foreign fighters to its anti-Western cause and plotting devastating terror attacks all over the world, to surrendering en masse”. It was the “US-led bombing campaign and US-backed and trained forces” that defeated ISIS, supposedly.

Yes, after six plus years of the most powerful military force in the history of the world, with the most technologically advanced weapons ever invented, and an annual military budget of $1 Trillion the US finally defeated a rag-tag mercenary paramilitary of about 30,000 fighters.

The whole story of the US war on terrorism is an incredible and unbelievable tale of pabulum that Washington and its mainstream repeaters have been feeding to the US public since 9-11. It stinks.

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Trump Claims US Defeated ISIS, But Terrorists Still emerging from US bases in Syria – By Andrés Perezalonso

US supplied Syrian rebels

© Associated Press/Hammurabi’s Justice News
Dodgy alliance: Syrian ‘rebels’ side-by-side US troops

Last Thursday, US president Donald Trump posted what appeared to be a self-congratulatory tweet on the achievements of the US military in the war against ISIS:

These numbers may or may not be accurate, but the implicit message is that they are the result of the efforts of the US-led coalition rather than the combined Russian, Iranian/Hezbollah and Syrian/Iraqi forces.

Trump’s Pentagon numbers conflate the operations against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, thereby overwriting the more specific numbers produced by the Russian military intervention in Syria alone, which changed the tide of the war in both countries: 60,318 jihadists killed, including 813 commanders; the destruction of 718 clandestine arms factories; and the liberation of 1,024 cities and settlements.

In pursuing its goals of eliminating Western-backed jihadist mercenaries in Syria, Russian forces took extreme care to safeguard civilian lives and minimize damage to infrastructure. This was in stark contrast to US policy in both Syria and Iraq, which involved little if any attacks on ISIS forces in the field, concentrating instead on ‘liberating’ strategic cities like Mosul and Raqqa by way of massive and indiscriminate bombing (compare the painstaking liberation of Aleppo with the flattening of Mosul). This difference in military strategy was, of course, to be expected given that Russia has a vested interest in maintaining Syria as a viable and independent nation state under Assad, while the US, from the very onset of the conflict, was interested only in the ruin of Syria and the overthrow of Assad.

While there is little hard evidence of the US real intentions in Syria, there have been many strong indications that supporting ISIS was (and still is) US policy, ranging from providing safe passage to terrorist groups, airlifting their senior members, providing air cover against the Syrian Army, delivering weapons, and even an admission from former Secretary of State John Kerry that the US allowed ISIS to grow as a way of putting pressure on Assad.

At the very least it is clear that the US preferred to see criminal groups of fanatics ruling Syria than a democratically-elected secular government such as Assad’s, even if the extent to which it actively sought to ‘make this a reality’ can be disputed.

Strictly-speaking, Trump is correct that ISIS collapsed on his watch. But how much, if any, of that progress – with respect to Syria anyway – is due to US action in the country? The terrorist front in Syria disintegrated over the course of 2017 once the siege of Aleppo was ended by Syrian forces in December 2016, enabling them to begin methodically liberating the country from west to east.

That Trump was president-elect, then president, during this timeframe is coincidental, not causal. He may wish to see the scourge of ISIS gone from the face of the Earth, and win the US some of the glory in delivering its ignominious retreat, but since becoming president Trump has had ample opportunity to learn what US forces are really up to.

The day before Trump’s tweet, Russia’s Chief of General Staff Valeri Gerasimov revealed in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda that US forces had turned their illegitimate base in Al-Tanf, in the southeast of Syria and conveniently located within the 55 km ‘de-confliction’ buffer zone, into a training camp for the remnants of ISIS – a group which he described as a de facto regular army, given their weaponry, training and tactics.

“According to satellite and other surveillance data, terrorist squads are stationed there. They are effectively training there,” Gerasimov said, when asked about what’s going on at the base.

The general also said the US has been using a refugee camp in northeast Syria, outside the town of Al-Shaddadah in Al-Hasakah province, as a training camp for the remnants of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group, including those evacuated from Raqqa, and other militants.

“This is essentially ISIS,” Gerasimov said. “They change their colors, take different names – the ‘New Syrian Army’ and others. They are tasked with destabilizing the situation.”

Gerasimov says that there are currently some 750 militants in Al-Shaddadah and 350 in Al-Tanf. We are left to wonder if those are the same 1,000 ISIS fighters that the Pentagon estimates are left in Syria, as per Trump’s tweet.

Syria map Al-Tanf

The New Syrian Army, aka the Revolutionary Commando Army, is, according to the ‘fact-checkers’ at Wikipedia, a “Syrian rebel group” consisting of army defectors and other ‘rebels’ who “sought to expel ISIS” from eastern Syria. They claim to have received training and weapons from Saudi-backed ‘rebel’ groups and the CIA. But if their goal is to ‘fight ISIS’, why then does Gerasimov report that they have launched offensives on Syrian forces from the eastern bank of the Euphrates after ISIS militants were previously routed there?

In early October, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov described the US base in Al-Tanf as a “black hole” protected by a “human shield” of refugees from where ISIS carried out sabotage and terror attacks. He pointed out:

“The Pentagon’s representatives have repeatedly stated that instructors from the US, the UK and Norway staying there under the cover of tactical aviation and multiple-launch rocket systems are training New Syrian Army militants. However, in actual fact, al-Tanf has turned into a 100-kilometer ‘black hole’ on the Syrian-Jordanian state border. Instead of the New Syrian Army, mobile ISIL groups, like a jack-in-the-box, carry out sabotage and terrorist attacks against Syrian troops and civilians from there.”

Konashenkov added that the illegal US base in Al-Tanf was publicly justified “by the need to conduct operations against ISIL”; however, no public information has been received of any US operations against ISIS during the six months of its existence. Indeed, the Pentagon and Trump can make all the claims they want about ‘fighting ISIS’ in Syria, but in stark contrast with the Russians, who publish videos, satellite images, war maps, and send journalists to front lines, the Americans have almost no documentary evidence to show for it.

Just yesterday, local residents told Syrian media that US helicopters evacuated ISIS commanders from several districts of Deir ez-Zor province. Earlier this week, the Syrian government sent a communiqué to the United Nations accusing the US-led coalition of dealing and coordinating with ISIS.

Significantly, on the same day as the publication of Gerasimov’s interview, militants shot “several missiles” from Bdama at Latakia International Airport and the Russian Aerospace Forces’ deployment site at Hmeymim airbase. No damage was caused as two of the missiles were shot down and at least one landed off-site. While Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speculated that the provocation was “aimed at disrupting the positive trends in the development of the situation in Syria and, in particular, at creating obstacles to convening and holding the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi on January 29-30,” it is also possible that this heralds an attempt to bring ISIS back from the dead – either under that name or a different one. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but the explosion at a supermarket in St. Petersburg which injured thirteen people – an event Putin described as a terrorist attack – also occurred on the same day. Is someone sending Russia a message?

Imperial Wishful Thinking

The New York Times published an op-ed article written by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – also that same day – which summarized current US foreign policy positions with respect to North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, China and Iran. What Tillerson wrote about Syria was in line with Trump’s triumphant tweet:

Defeating terrorism remains one of the president’s highest priorities. The administration’s aggressive strategy to counter the Islamic State delegates greater authority to American military commanders on the battlefield, giving our forces more freedom and speed to do what they do best, in partnership with indigenous fighting forces. As a result, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS has accelerated operations and has recaptured virtually all of previously-held Islamic State territory in Iraq and Syria. While our military was helping clear Iraq and Syria of Islamic State forces, our diplomats were following up with humanitarian aid and assistance, such as clearing land mines, restoring water and power, and getting children back in school.

Tillerson is naturally counting on the fact that Western audiences almost exclusively consume the narrative Western media tells them – that the US was fighting ISIS instead of aiding them. It’s a great story, one anyone would want to own, but it’s not the US’ to tell. The US has not been clearing land mines, providing humanitarian aid, restoring water and power and getting children back to school: Russia has.

Despite earlier reports that the White House had finally accepted he would stay in power until, at least, Syria’s next-scheduled elections in 2021, Tillerson went on to recite the litany of Russian Evils before segueing into a resurrection of the “Assad must go” mantra:

On Russia, we have no illusions about the regime we are dealing with. The United States today has a poor relationship with a resurgent Russia that has invaded its neighbors Georgia and Ukraine in the last decade and undermined the sovereignty of Western nations by meddling in our election and others’. The appointment of Kurt Volker, a former NATO ambassador, as special representative for Ukraine reflects our commitment to restoring the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Absent a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine situation, which must begin with Russia’s adherence to the Minsk agreements, there cannot be business as usual with Russia.

While we are on guard against Russian aggression, we recognize the need to work with Russia where mutual interests intersect. Nowhere is that more evident than in Syria. Now that President Vladimir Putin has committed to the United Nations-backed Geneva political process for providing a new future for Syria, we expect Russia to follow through. We are confident that the fulfillment of these talks will produce a Syria that is free of Bashar al-Assad and his family.

Aside from the fact that there was no Russian aggression in Georgia or Ukraine, nor any evidence of election-meddling in the US or elsewhere, and that it is Kiev which regularly violates the Minsk agreements, it’s interesting that Tillerson sneaked in that threat to Assad: “This is not over!” If you read Tillerson’s entire NYT op-ed, see how many veiled or open threats you can spot. If this tone is anything to go by, 2018 doesn’t look promising as far as conflict-resolution goes.

However, we can perhaps take solace in the knowledge that the US has failed, especially in Syria, and there is no reason they should succeed in the future if tried again. As the popular saying goes:

Insanity quote doing the same thing over and over again

Andrés Perezalonso

Andrés Perezalonso has been a contributing editor for Signs of the Times in both its English and Spanish versions since 2007. He holds a PhD in Politics, an MA in International Studies, a first degree in Communication, and has a professional background in Media Analysis. He thinks that understanding world events is not unlike detective work – paying attention to often ignored details and connections, and thinking outside of the box. He was born and raised in Mexico and currently resides in Europe.


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