UN predictions fall short: Gaza uninhabitable today

The coastal road bridge linking central Gaza to Gaza City, targeted again in Nov 2012. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
Dec 21, 2014, RT Op-Edge
By Eva Bartlett
Five months ago the world watched in horror as the bully of the Middle East, Israel, launched the most brutal massacre on the Palestinians of Gaza since the Nakba (perhaps more brutal, Palestinian friends in Gaza have said).
Lasting over twice as long as the 2008-09 war on Gaza (formerly the most-brutal massacre since the Nakba), and killing over 800 more Palestinians than in the attack six years ago, the July-August 51-day offensive killed 2,131 Palestinians and injured over 11,000, and destroyed tens of thousands of homes, buildings, businesses, hospitals, Gaza’s only power plant and other key components of Gaza’s infrastructure.
Palestinian and foreign activists and journalists within the 40 kilometer-long strip of open-air prison tweeted and live-streamed images more horrific than the best Hollywood productions. Weathered journalists broke down sobbing at the sight of Palestinian civilians, especially childrenbeing targeted like prey by one of the world’s most wickedly powerful armies and navies. Doctors who have seen the mutilated corpses and scarcely-living bodies of Palestinian elderly, men, women and children many times before were yet still appalled by the brutality of these latest attacks.
Worldwide, protesters, journalists of integrity called the bombardment of Gaza genocidal(asIsraeli officials and politicians called for genocide). One of the most shocking of many images was that of 4-year-old Saher Abu Namous‘s half blown-off head, his father cradling him and wailing.Entire families were murdered in this latest Israeli offensive. Not for the first time, the Israeli army bombed schools hosting internally displacedhospitals (includinga rehabilitation hospital for disabled and invalid), and entire neighborhoods.
As with prior military operations, the Israelis in 2014 targeted water and sewage lines, electricity networks, hospitals, primary health centersambulances and medics, bridges and major roads, key governmental buildings, schools and universities.They went further and attacked water, electricity and sanitation personnel, killing at least 14, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted. The resulting electricity, water and sanitation crises are such that until November, power was out 18 hours a day, and just 10 percent of the 1.8 million Palestinians get water once a day (for a matter of hours). As of mid-November, Oxfam reported, power cuts were 12 hours per day in some areas.
While the bombs rained down, some Israelis pulled up seats to watch the bloodshed, as21st Century Wire noted“Old sofas, garden chairs, battered car seats and upturned crates provide seating for the spectators. …Some bring bottles of beer or soft drinks and snacks. …Nearly all hold up smartphones to record the explosions or to pose grinning, perhaps with thumbs up, for selfies against a backdrop of black smoke.”
The Israeli army used the same banned weapons on Palestinians this summer that they’ve used in the past two massacres, as well as “armour piercing bombs” which have “high explosive capabilities” and were used on Palestinian homes. Weapons-seekers flocked to Israel after seeing the effects of its weaponry and technology. Israel’s weapons industry thrives with each massacre of the Gaza testing ground.

Strangling and starving Gaza

In September 2005, the 8,500 Israeli colonists finally, unwillingly leave their homes on stolen land. With no Jewish colonists in Gaza, Israel has since been free to lock-down all of Gaza and bomb whenever the whim occurs, with no fear of any Israeli loss of life. The Israelis have waged wars against Gaza every year or two since pulling their colonists out.
Since the June 28, 2006 Israeli repeating bombing of Gaza’s sole power plant—destroying all six transformers – Palestinians in Gaza have neither been allowed to import the transformers and materials needed to rehabilitate the plant, nor offered an alternative solution. Through the now-destroyed tunnels, Palestinians did import smaller transformers and got the power plant hobbling again, but never to full capacity.
In a 2006 report on Israel’s bombing of Gaza’s power plant, B’Tselem called for Israel to:
Cover the expenses needed to return the power plant to full capacity; Finance the upgrading of the infrastructure to transfer electricity from Israel to the Gaza Strip; Permit the entry of the equipment needed to rehabilitate the power plant, without delay.
However, Israel did none of the obliged, nor has it ever paid (in any sense of the word) for the reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure it has repeatedly targeted over the years.
The supply of electricity bought from Israel and Egypt doesn’t suffice for Gaza’s now 1.8 million Palestinians. The crisis impacts on every facet of life: hospital functions, sanitation, water supply, refrigerators and appliances, and education.

Palestinian fishing boat machine-gunned then shelled by Israeli navy. The boat was destroyed. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
In 2006, B’Tselem noted: “The sewage system is on the verge of collapse.” Mohammed Omer’s photos of the village of Um al-Nasser, flooded with overflown sewage in 2007, should have been a wakeup-call if official institutional and NGO warnings are not. At least five drowned in their own sewage, including an infant. A year ago, reports from Gaza showed the misery of Palestinians’ homes flooded with a combination of that same overflown sewage compounded by heavy rains. Kids waded through sewage to get to school; elderly were, if lucky, paddled by small fishing boats. This, save the rains, was entirely preventable…if the UN and influential world bodies and leaders truly cared and dared to face up to the Israeli lobby.
In 2010, it was revealed that the Israeli authorities were implementing a plan to starve Palestinians. “The security establishment had calculated the number of calories consumed by Gaza residents and used it to establish a ‘humanitarian minimum’, a bottom line to which it was possible to reduce food supply to Gaza without causing hunger or malnutrition….These procedures included mathematical formulas for calculating the quantities of food and the basic products Israel would allow into the Gaza Strip.” The idea was mentioned back in 2006, when Dov Weissglass said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.
Power outages, 95 percent undrinkable water, constant fuel and cooking gas shortages, sewage andsanitation crises, a shattered economy (unemployment at 45 percent) and manufactured poverty rendering 80 percent of the population dependent on inadequate and dignity-shattering food aid hand-outs (no vegetables or fruit, high carb, almost no protein); food insecurity (72 percent insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity), stunting (31.4 percent) and anemia (72.8 percent) among children. This is Gaza, and with each passing month, even each day, life is less and less tolerable. In August, 2012, UNRWA questioned if by 2020 Gaza would be a livable place. We don’t have to wait till 2020 for Gaza to be declared unlivable: it already is unlivable by any standards.

No crossing them

Since 2008, Israel has incrementally closed down three of Gaza’s four commercial crossings, depriving Palestinians of adequate means for import and export. At present, the only operating (I use that term lightly) crossings are: Karem Abu Salem (commercial), Erez (transit), and Rafah (transit). The closure of Karni crossing, closed in March 2011, dramatically impacted on Gaza’s economy. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) noted that Karni “is the biggest crossing in the Gaza Strip, in terms of its capacity to absorb the flow of imports and exports.Gisha noted that Karni, the “main transit point (via truck) for goods” was “partially closed in 2007 save for the movement of grain and animal feed via conveyer belt. The conveyer belt was shut down in 2011.”
Nahal Oz crossing, closed in 2010, was the primary point for entry of gas and other fuel. And the closed Sufa crossing was notably the main point of entry of construction materials. The sole remaining commercial crossing, Karem Abu Salem, does not have the capacity to allow in the amount of goods needed, assuming the Israelis were to allow them entrance in the first place.
Al Akhbar reported: “Karm Abu Salem crossing has a maximum capacity to receive 450 trucks a day while the Gaza Strip needs a total of 1,000 trucks every day of the year without any interruptions. Today, the crossing is not working in full capacity, allowing only about 320 trucks to pass through each day. …According to the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, the crossing closed down for 130 days in 2014, which means it was not operational for 35 per cent of the year.”
PCHR noted that closure of Karem Abu Salem has meant a cooking gas crisis. “Israeli authorities only allow an average of 98 tons of cooking gas into Gaza per day. This limited quantity is less than half of the daily needs, which is 200 tons per day of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip during winter. The crisis has unprecedentedly aggravated for around six weeks due to cold weather and overconsumption in addition to the power outage and using gas as an alternative in many instances of electricity. The lack of diesel and benzene led to the aggravation of the crisis as a result of using the gas cylinder for cars or as an alternative for benzene to run generators.
Before ever visiting Gaza, I recall reading on how Palestinians overcame these fuel crises. At one point, they used cooking oil as fuel for their vehicles (“Gaza smelled like one big falafel shop,” I was told). They also used their kerosene lanterns (baboor) to cook over, that one I saw. The Israelis learned of their ingenuity and added kerosene to the banned items list.
Palestinian farmland, bulldozed endlessly by Israeli military bulldozers, destroying crops and livelihoods. Photo by Eva Bartlett
ingaza.wordpress.com
Israel has shattered Gaza’s economy in a variety of clever ways: firing on farmers and bulldozing and burning their land; firing on fishers and stealing their fishing boats and equipment; bombing businesses and factories and preventing the materials needed to rebuild; drastically restricting imports. And banning exports save a token few trucks when Israelis need palm leaves for Jewish holidays. Oxfam in December 2014 noted: “Under the blockade, exports from Gaza have fallen to around 2 percent of pre-blockade levels, with devastating impact on the economy. While some extremely limited exports to international markets have been approved, the transfer of produce to Palestinian markets in the West Bank – and markets in Israel – has been banned since 2007. These were traditionally the most important markets for producers in Gaza.” And it isn’t only produce. Furniture, clothing, and a surprising number of other goods which once flowed from Gaza’s borders are banned from being exported.

Art of war

Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert has shared the last three major wars with the Palestinians in Gaza. Recently, Israeli authorities banned him from entering Gaza, in spite of him maintaining a professional neutrality. Gilbert said: “I think the truth is the security risk because when I, as a white medical doctor with blue eyes and white hair, tell the real story of the realities in the sharp end of the Israeli attacks, the Palestinians change from being terrorists to being humans, the numbers change from being numbers to being people, and the children appear as yours and my children. …this is actually a danger to the Israeli narrative and, in a way, the global reputation of Israel, which is partially falling apart now.
Aside from Gilbert’s heart-breaking observations on the slaughter of Palestinians, he notes poignantly, “The average age is 17.6 years, …a child ghetto of 1.2 million children and young people are being denied the right to escape the bombs, to fly, because they cannot get out.” This, incidentally, was the third major massacre for Palestinians six years or older in Gaza since December 2008.

Omar Mukthar police station, bombed in first minutes of Israeli bombings at mid-day Dec 27, 2008.  Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
Six years ago, I was a month into what would be a year and a half stay in Gaza (followed by another cumulative year and a half over the years). In December 2008, the situation in Gaza was already desperate. Back then, Palestinians in Gaza were already feeling the choke of closed borders, no exports, sadistically-limited imports (between 30-40 items), and the beginning of cold winter months during which they would suffer in darkness without the means to even heat water.
The 23-day in 2008-09 offensive killed over 1,400 Palestinians. I shared the three plus weeks of hell, losing my own fiends to Israeli bombs and bullets, meeting tortured parents and families whose children had been shot dead point blank by Israeli soldiers. Like Amer al Helu’s infant daughter Farah; like 4-year-old Ahmed al-Samouni with two bullets to his chest; like KhaledAbed Rabbo’s 2 and 7 year old children, shot dead by soldiers casually snacking on junk food.
Canada’s CBC interviewed then-frantic me some days after my medic friend Arafa was murdered by an Israeli dart-bomb shot directly at his ambulance, after the media building I was in was bombed, and after I had seen more mutilated bodies and white-phosphorous-charred skin than I could have imagined. My interview-balancing counterpart, a Canadian volunteering at an Israeli base, gushed about the weather and what a relaxed time he was having… and, oh yes (to the prompting of the CBC host), he did have to run down to the bomb shelter the other day. I’d just finished saying there were no bomb shelters in Gaza, everything was a target, the Israelis were even bombing schools, kindergartens, hospitals.

Arafa Abd el-Dayem, murdered by Israeli dart-bomb targeting his ambulance. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
The white phosphorus was a first for Gaza. The flechette bombs (shells packed with thousands of razor-sharp dart-nails) were old news. Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana was martyred by such a shell while filming victims of Israeli shelling in Johr ad-Dik in April 2008. Shana, like other Palestinian journalist maimed and martyred by Israeli attacks, wore the markings of a journalist when targeted.
Post-massacre, as I’d walked through the ruins of Ezbet Abed Rabbo to the east of Jabaliya, my friend from the neighborhood (whose mother was killed in the very first minutes of bombings as she walked to buy bread), joked in the way oppressed people do when getting on with life, “they make like art here,” gesturing to the graveyard of houses surrounding us.
In November 2012, the Israelis “mowed the law” again, murdering over 170 Palestinians. During the 8 days of slaughter, Israeli figures called to “blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water,” and to “Flatten all of Gaza. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing,” said the deputy Israeli Prime Minister Eli Yishai and Gilad Sharon respectively.
But these massacres haven’t been without a fight. In spite of the massive power imbalance, Palestinian resistance have fought back by any means possible, as is their right, as noted in the UN General Assembly. For those who call for Palestinians to be non-violent (they are, the media just doesn’t speak of the murdered, Bassem Abu Rahmes of Palestine), I quote political analyst Sukant Chandan:
What we have is a largely defenseless population who has been usurped historically, who have been boxed into a ghetto of nearly 2 million people, in a tiny strip of land… and these people haven’t got the right to resist? Absolutely Palestinians have the right to resist, and they should have more rockets, they should have better rockets, and they should have a Resistance that can match conventionally one of the biggest genocidal entities on the planet, which is the white, colonial state of ‘Israel’.”

Status Quo and 2015?

There are daily mini-massacres that go largely unnoticed, whether on the sea, in the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” or by denying Palestinians the right to exit for health care unattainable within the confines of Gaza.
On December 6, Israeli gunboats machine-gunned Palestinian fishers 2-3 miles off the coast, surrounded and abducted 12 fishers, and stole their boats. A few days prior On Dec 3, a Palestinian fisherman was critically injured by shrapnel to his head after Israeli navy shelling, Maan News reported.
On November 22, an Israeli soldier shot and killed a Palestinian bird hunter 500 metres from the border, east of Jabaliya, shooting him in the back. The same day, in southeastern Gaza, an Israeli soldier shot a 17-year-old Palestinian in the chest. He was 1500 meters from the border. The combination of Israeli jeeps present at the border and the remotely-controlled machine gun towers make Gaza’s border region – the most fertile area of Gaza – a killing field.
Naturally, these incidents, daily realities for Palestinians, didn’t make the headlines.
Now, nearing the end of 2014, the reports coming out of Gaza are even more dismal than one could imagine. After lofty 5.4 billion pledges of rebuilding Gaza, virtually none of the 20, 000 homes destroyed or badly damaged, including entire neighborhoods like Sheyjaiyee, have been rebuilt. Palestinians stand blinking, wondering when and if that promise will materialize. At the end of October, the NY Times reported, “Officials say they have yet to collect a dime of the $5.4 billion that international donors have pledged to the effort.
Photo by Eva Bartlett

Third time the Israeli army has destroyed Jaber Rjila’s chicken farm and land. 2010. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
The 106,000 Palestinians rendered homeless (40,000 of whom are staying in emergency shelters; many others living in the shells of their homes or in ramshackle tents) face cold rains and flooding. In its latest situation report, UNRWA noted extreme weather in Gaza and said a state of emergency was declared on November 27 “in Gaza City after severe flooding over a 48 hour period,” noting the evacuation of hundreds in flooded areas in Sheikh Radwan district.
Sara Roy notes the insidious nature of what rebuilding plans there are: Israel gets to decide who (if any) receive cement and building materials, and a “permanent and complex permit and planning system similar to the one Israel uses in Area C of the West Bank, which is under total Israeli control,” is being planned for Gaza.
Oxfam’s December 2014 report notes that Gaza needs “at least 89,000 new homes, 226 new schools, as well as massive repairs to other infrastructure.” Even prior to the summer IDF military operation, Gaza faced a deficit of 71,000 housing units, OCHA notedGisha reported that “around 5 million tons of construction materials are required just for the most immediate needs. With 52,351 tons – or 1% – entering since the ceasefire, at this rate it would take more than 23 years to meet “immediate” needs alone.” According to PCHR, “For almost 8 consecutive years, Israeli forces have continued to prevent the delivery of construction materials to the Gaza Strip.
Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing closed since October 25, justifying this after a suicide bomb killed 33 Egyptian soldiers, even though there is no evidence linking the bombing and Gaza. Only as of November 26 was the crossing briefly opened (for 2 days), allowing just 300 Palestinians in Egypt to return to Gaza, and briefly again from November 30 to December 2. A reported 6,000 more Palestinians remain stranded in Egypt or third countries. In early December, OCHA reportedthat 10,000 Palestinians wait to exit Gaza, including over 1,000 medical patients.
Photo by Eva Bartlett

Aftermath of Israeli massacre of Gaza 2008/9. Ezbet Abed Rabbo. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
Egypt has also long-since destroyed the network of tunnels which were known as Gaza’s “lifeline” for a very good reason: they imported the goods, including building materials, that Palestinians needed and Israel bans. They also served as an alternative conduit to the normally closed Rafah crossing, and having seen them I can attest they were far more efficient than the bureaucracy of the Egyptians’ border crossing terminal. But they are largely extinct, and reports have Egypt creating a buffer zone extending 1 km to ensure the tunnels don’t re-manifest, and to tighten the already strangling noose on Palestinians in Gaza.
During the summer Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, protests raged around the world. Indian peace activist and journalist, Feroze Mithiborwali, noted at a recent Beirut conference in solidarity with Palestine, “In practically every town and city across India, there were pro-Gaza, pro-Palestine demonstrations. There was a continuous spate of protests across India.”South African delegate Firoz Osman, of Media Review Networksaid, “Two hundred thousand people came out to demonstrations to support Gaza. That’s even more than when Mandela was released.”
So there is an increased awareness of the unjust plight of Palestinians in Gaza and throughout occupied Palestine. But as we approach the end of the year, a time when much of the West will be preoccupied by holiday shopping and celebrations, will this awareness be enough to sustain pressure on Israel and prevent a new massacre of Gaza? Will it be enough to pressure both Israel and Egypt into allowing building materials into Gaza and opening the Rafah crossing to Palestinians needing to re-enter or to exit Gaza? Will it be enough for American citizens to call for an end to the billions of dollars of aid given to Israel, let alone munitions, including a reported 3,000 more precision-guided munitions of the type used over the summer? Or for British citizens to demand Britain endarms export to Israel?
Mads Gilbert said it spot on: “As a doctor, I say don’t send more bandages, don’t send more drugs, and don’t send equipment. Stop the bombing, lift the siege, treat the Palestinians as humans, include them in the human family, protect them by international law and find a peaceful political solution to the occupation of Palestine. That’s the preventative medicine of this mayhem that is going on.”
The status quo of Palestinian suffering in Gaza cannot continue as it has these past 8 years.
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Ayatollah Khamenei’s 6 reasons to prove ISIS serves the U.S. and Israel

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ISIS HAS EXECUTED 100 FOREIGNERS TRYING TO QUIT: REPORT

isis nuts

DECEMBER 20, 2014

LONDON (The Daily Star): ISIS has executed 100 of its own foreign fighters who tried to flee their headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Financial Times newspaper said Saturday.

An activist opposed to both ISIS and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is well-known to the British business broadsheet, said he had “verified 100 executions” of foreign ISIS fighters trying to leave the Takfiri group’s de facto capital.

ISIS fighters in Raqqa said the group had created a military police to clamp down on foreign fighters who do not report for duty. Dozens of homes have been raided and many Takfiris have been arrested, the FT reported.

Some Takfiris have become disillusioned with the realities of fighting in Syria, reports have said.

According to the British press in October, five Britons, three French, two Germans and two Belgians wanted to return home after complaining that they ended up fighting against other rebel groups rather than Assad’s regime. They were being held prisoner by ISIS.

In total, between 30 and 50 Britons want to return but fear they face jail, according to researchers at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, which had been contacted by one of the Takfiris speaking on their behalf.

Since a U.S.-led coalition began a campaign of airstrikes against ISIS in August, the extremist group has lost ground to local forces and seen the number of its fighters killed rise significantly.

There have been a string of apparent setbacks for ISIS in recent weeks.

Iraqi Kurds claimed Thursday to have broken a siege on a mountain where Yazidi civilians and fighters have long been trapped.

The Kurdish advances came during a two-day blitz in the Sinjar region involving 8,000 peshmerga fighters and some of the heaviest air strikes since a U.S.-led coalition started an air campaign four months ago.

Meanwhile Thursday, the Pentagon said several ISIS leaders had been killed in US air strikes.

In 40 days across October and November, some 2,000 air raids killed more than 500 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.

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US Attempted Color Revolution in Russia?

by Stephen Lendman

America seeks unipolar/New World Order dominance. All nations bowing to its will. Russia is in the eye of the storm.

Longstanding US policy calls for regime change. Eliminating its sovereign independence.

Replacing it with pro-Western stooge governance. Puppet rule Washington controls. Color revolutions are a US specialty.

Tactics developed earlier. Through years of trial and error. Largely perfected. Successful most often.

Twice ousting sitting Ukrainian governments. Ordinary people lost out both times. Much more so now than earlier. In 2004.

US-installed neo-Nazi fascists run things today. Destroying fundamental freedoms. Waging dirty war on their own people.

Impoverishing an entire nation. Bankrupting it. Goading Russia irresponsibly. Risking open conflict. With full US support and encouragement.

Color revolutions mask dark intentions. Ordinary people are manipulated like pawns. The usual suspects are involved.

Including CIA elements. The National Endowment of Democracy (NED). International Republican Institute (IRI). National Democratic Institute (NDI).

USAID. Freedom House. Soros Foundation. Anti-democracy NGOs. Right-wing think tanks. Various corporate groups. More below on how color revolutions work.

Russia is mindful of America’s intentions. Putin blamed illegal sanctions and manipulated oil prices for Russia’s economic woes.

“They will always try to chain the bear,” he said. “And once it’s chained, they’ll rip out its teeth and claws.”

“They’ll stuff it. And start to put their hands on its Taiga (Siberian forest belt). We’ve heard statements from Western officials that Russia owning Siberia (isn’t) fair.”

Today’s problem is that US-led Western nations “refuse to stop. They think they have won.”

They want Russia co-opted. Contained. Isolated. Weakened. Decapitated. Controlled. Balkanized. Plundered.

“Do we want relations on an equal basis,” asked Putin? “Yes, we do, but on the condition that our national interests are respected, in the sphere of security and in the sphere of economy.”

Peace requires building common humanitarian space. Not walls, he stressed. “Russia pays the cost of remaining a nation, a civilization and a state.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on 2014 events. Saying relations with Western countries “reached the point (where) goodwill gestures (don’t) produce required results.”

Russia is irresponsibly blamed for Ukrainian crisis conditions, said Lavrov. Illegal sanctions are imposed.

“We have repeatedly stressed that attempts to speak to Russia using the language of ultimatums is totally unacceptable and will yield no results,” Lavrov stressed.

“(I)n cases when governments of some countries try to isolate Moscow, Russia will actively foster cooperation, strengthen business, humanitarian, scientific, educational and cultural ties.”

“Our country is pursuing a multi-vector foreign policy…” Approved by Putin in 2013.

“We are ready to develop mutual and equal relations with all those who show an oncoming willingness to do that.”

“Putin has repeatedly stated that interaction with the Asia-Pacific region is a strategic priority for us throughout the 21 century, and that Russia, as an Asia-Pacific power, will take full advantage of the enormous potential of the region’s rapid development, including the development of the Far East and Eastern Siberia.”

“…(E)very nation has the inalienable right to self-determination and the sovereign right to choose its own path of development.” Russia respects this choice.

Containment wasn’t “invented yesterday. (E)very time someone thinks that Russia becomes too strong,” policies to contain it are implemented.

“Problems in our relations with the US had started to accrue before the Ukrainian crisis, what is more – not through our fault.”

“The White House has set a course for confrontation, blaming Russia for all sins in connection with the Ukrainian crisis that they had provoked to a significant extent.”

“Washington wound down bilateral dialogue” on numerous issues. “(A)ttempts to isolate some (world) leaders impose one’s own unilateral recipes from a position of ‘exceptionalism.’ which the US has taken, is futile.”

“(T)alking with Russia from a position of strength is futile.” Russophobia rages today.

US-led NATO “continues its course toward containing Russia. Steps are taken to strengthen (its) military capacity at Russia’s borders.”

Hostile actions stoke tensions. Undermine stability. Risk conflict. Obama irresponsibly includes Russia on his list of global threats.

US policies include NATO’s increased Eastern European presence. Provocative military exercises close to Russia’s borders.

Thousands of missions near its airspace. American ships in Black Sea waters.

US-manipulated oil wars. Targeting Russia’s economy. Weakening it. Making it scream. Hammering the ruble.

On December 19, Obama embargoed Russia’s Republic of Crimea. Illegally.

By executive order “prohibit(ing) the export of goods, technology, or services to Crimea and prohibits the import of goods, technology, or services from Crimea, as well as new investments in Crimea.”

(A)uthoriz(ing) the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities operating in Crimea.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called his action “politicized discrimination.” Against Russia and its people.

On December 20, Zero Hedge reported federal Judge Arthur Schwab ruling Obama’s executive orders “unconstitutional.” In a  deportation case. Schwab saying:

“President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore, is unconstitutional.”

A previous article said rule by executive order diktats raises questions. No constitutional authority permits them.

Other than stating “executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America (Article 2, Section 1).”

Abused by bypassing Congress. “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 1.).”

Constitutional checks and balances prevent empowering one governmental branch over another.

Diktat power reflects tyranny. Not how democracy is supposed to work. In America, it’s pure fantasy. None whatever exists.

Washington’s anti-Russian “Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (UFSA) authorizes lethal aid for Ukraine. Including heavy weapons.

More sanctions on Russia. Intensified US propaganda. Through Voice of America. Radio Free Europe. Radio Liberty.

Washington’s global propaganda bullhorn. Suppressing hard truths. Featuring Big Lies. Turning reality on its head.

Obama may be headed for direct confrontation with Russia. Aimed at toppling its government. By war, color revolution, or combination of both.

A previous article explained how color revolutions work. In 1997, RAND Corporation researchers John Arquilla and David Ronfeld developed the concept of “Swarming & the Future of Conflict.”

Based on communication patterns and movements of bees and other insects. Applied to military conflicts and street protests.

War by other means. Exploiting the information revolution. Taking full advantage of “network-based organizations linked via email and mobile phones to enhance the potential of swarming.”

In 1993, Arquilla and Ronfeldt prepared an earlier document. Titled “Cyberwar Is Coming!”

Saying “warfare is no longer primarily a function of who puts the most capital, labor and technology on the battlefield, but of who has the best information” and uses it advantageously.

State-of-the art IT techniques use “advanced computerized information and communications technologies and related innovations in organization and management theory,” they explained.

Information technologies “communicate, consult, coordinate, and operate together across greater distances.”

Cyberwar today is what blitzkrieg was to 20th century warfare. In 1993, Arquilla and Ronfeldt focused on military conflicts.

In 1996, studying net and cyberwar. Examining “irregular modes of conflict, including terror, crime, and militant social activism.”

In 1997, developing the concept of swarming. Suggesting it might “emerge as a definitive doctrine that will encompass and enliven both cyberwar and net war.”

Envisioning “how to prepare for information-age conflict.” Calling swarming a way to strike from all directions.

Effectiveness depends on various elements able to interconnect. Using revolutionary communication technology.

What works on battlefields proved effective on city streets. US-instigated color revolutions achieved regime change in Serbia (2000/2001).

Georgia (2003). Ukraine (2004). Kyrgyzstan (2005). Ukraine (2014). Other efforts fell short.

Color revolutions reflect America’s modern day New World Order strategy. Following Soviet Russia’s dissolution. Direct and proxy hot wars rage at the same time.

US strategy is multi-faceted. Including subversion. Destabilization. Mass surveillance. Blitzkrieg propaganda.  Successful swarming tactics accomplish coup d’etats by other means.

Washington openly backs Russian hard right extremists. Figures like Boris Nemtsov. Garry Kasparov. Alexei Navalny. A convicted embezzler.

Masquerading as an anti-corruption activist. A relentless Putin basher. Accusing him of aggression.

In March, New York Times editors featured his op-ed headlined “How to Punish Putin.” Irresponsibly accusing him of empty promises.

Lying about invading Ukraine. Wanting to rule for life. With “powers on par with the czars.”

Russian democracy shames America’s sham version. Navalny didn’t explain. Or New York Times editors featuring his rubbish.

It bears repeating. Russia is in the eye of the storm. Regime change is longstanding US policy. Obama is going all-out to topple its government.

Putin is a master chess player. A world-class geopolitical leader. On the right side of history. Besting his Western counterparts.

Making Obama look amateurish by comparison. Buffoon-like. Don’t bet against him coming out on top in the end.

Our best chance for world peace and stability. By beating America’s dirty game.

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Assad Praises Iran, Says Syria Determined to Eradicate Terrorism

 As he received Iranian Shura Council Ali Larijani on Sunday, President Bashar al-Assad praised Tehran and stressed Damascus’ determination to eradicate terrorism.

Syrians are determined to “eradicate terrorism and extremist thoughts that are menacing the region and the world,” official news agency, SANA quoted the Syrian leader as saying when he met Larijani and the the accompanying Iranian delegation.

Assad receives Larijani

“The President affirmed that the Syrians are also keen to proceed with and boost national reconciliations across Syria on a parallel track with combating terrorism,” SANA added.

 Assad also said that Iran’s stance on Syria is of high appreciation, noting that Damascus’ “keenness to further bolster cooperation with the Iranian side in all domains in a way that serves the common interests shared by the two countries and the establishment of security and stability in the region,” according to SANA.

For his part, the Iranian speaker hailed the Syrian people for their steadfastness in countering the terrorist war targeting their security and stability.

Larijani made it clear that the people of Iran will not hesitate to provide all forms of support to Syria to the effect of further consolidating the requirements of this steadfastness and fighting terrorism and its backers, SANA reported.

The Iranian official also underscored Tehran’s support for the efforts seeking to push forward holding a national dialogue among the Syrians, which he said would maintain Syria’s sovereignty and national unity away from external interferences.

The meeting between Assad and Larijani was attended by People’s Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdullahian, the delegation accompanying Larijani and Iran’s Ambassador in Damascus.

Source: Agencies

21-12-2014 – 16:14 Last updated 21-12-2014 – 16:14

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Ending the Cold War on Cuba? From the Freezer to the Chiller

Finian CUNNINGHAM | 19.12.2014 | 00:00

As US President Barack Obama announced his surprise «historic» bid to normalise relations with Cuba this week, the New York Times swooned with glowing news. ‘US to Restore Full Relations With Cuba, Erasing a Last Trace of Cold War Hostility’ was how its top headline put it. Welcoming the development, the American «newspaper of record» said Obama vowed to «cut loose the shackles of the past» and to «sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War».

But, purple prose aside, the hard detail is that the ongoing illegal American embargo on Cuba will stay in place. Moreover, the move comes as Washington slaps on more sanctions against Russia and unleashes new sanctions on Venezuela.

End of the Cold War? Well, possibly, if we are thinking in a narrow way about historic US-Soviet relations. But in terms of ongoing American hegemonic attitude towards other nations, the Cold War has never stopped and will never stop as long as America sees itself as entitled to dictate to others in order to advance its political and economic interests.

After 54 years of imposing a unilateral vicious trade and diplomatic blockade on the small Caribbean island country, the US move is significant. But not for the blithe reasons that the NY Times and other Western media outlets have presumed and would have the rest of us believe.

The first thing to note is that the apparent change in policy by the White House is not a move that in itself should be hailed as virtuous, as much of the Western media coverage infers.

When US President Dwight Eisenhower first slapped on the trade sanctions in 1960 followed by the severance of diplomatic relations the following year, no less than 11 subsequent presidencies have continued the policy of illegal aggression towards Cuba. The American political and economic stranglehold on Cuba has been denounced across the world as a relentlessly criminal policy and a violation of the United Nations charter.

Cuban President Raul Castro, who in 2010 took over from his ageing brother Fidel as leader of the revolution, was cordial in welcoming Obama’s announcement this week. But he rightly noted that the fundamental US-imposed problems on his nation remained.

«This in no way means that the heart of the matter has been resolved», Castro told Cubans in a televised broadcast. «The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damage to our country, must cease».

Remember, too, that «hostility between the two nations» has been pretty much all one way – from the US. When the young socialist revolutionary leader Fidel Castro visited Washington in 1959 following the overthrow earlier that year of the US-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, it was clearly an appeal back then for peaceful relations. 

That appeal fell on deaf ears among Washington’s ruling circles. The Eisenhower presidency initiated aggression through sanctions and a total trade embargo within months of Castro’s visit. When John F Kennedy took over the White House in early 1961, he then oversaw the invasion of Cuba by CIA-backed mercenaries in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Kennedy may have balked at ordering a full US air force bombing of Cuba, but the invasion was nevertheless an illegal act of war against a small, impoverished nation.

Later that year, Kennedy signed off on Operation Mongoose. It was a covert operations program, headed up by General Edward Lansdale, which involved plots to assassinate Castro and the Cuban leadership, as well as conduct sabotage and terrorism against civilians. The program remained in place for years, even after Kennedy’s own assassination in late 1963, the latter most likely at the hands of the CIA and the US military-industrial complex, who viewed his criminal policies as being «too soft». Ironically, Cuban exiled supporters of the ousted Batista regime are implicated as being part of the CIA sniper teams that took Kennedy out in Dallas.

The Cuban missile crisis during October 1962, sparked after Soviet nuclear weapons were installed on the island, less than 90 miles from the US mainland, is invoked in the Western mainstream media as evidence of Cuba’s «rogue status». But that caricature is invariably denuded of the context of American aggression and acts of war against Cuba – aggression that continues to this day in the form Washington’s ironclad blockade.

In viewing the latest apparent White House reversal over Cuba, the words of President Obama are worth closer attention.

Speaking on nationwide TV, Obama described it as the most «historic» development in more than 50 years of US-Cuba relations. As Obama heads into the twilight years of his second administration, he is no doubt mindful of his «legacy», along with his dubious Nobel Peace Prize, as a way of burnishing other controversial aspects of his eight years in office, from assassination drone strikes, to illegal government surveillance of American citizens and world leaders, to overseeing police state powers, covering up Bush-era systematic torture, and to disastrous overseas wars in the Middle East.

But the following words from Obama are perhaps the key to appraising the shift on Cuba.

«We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalise relations between our two countries».

Obama added:

«These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach».

The failure to «advance our interests» and the need for a «new approach» is not an admission of a long-overdue change in fundamental US policy towards Cuba. It is simply a change in tactics to achieve the underlying American goal of regime change in that country. In case we need reminding, such a goal and the interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country are illegal under international law.

The concessions that Obama is offering to Cuba are minimal. The putative easing of banking and travel restrictions and the re-opening of an American embassy in Havana (spying facilities) are conditional on the Cuban government embracing «free elections» and opening up investment for American capital and communications.

With a hawkish Republican-controlled Congress already pouring scorn on Obama’s tentative overtures as a «capitulation» we can be sure that the main planks of Washington’s decades-long embargo on Cuba will remain ironclad.

If, for argument’s sake, Obama had this week declared a unilateral end to the embargo and the unequivocal recognition of Cuban sovereignty, as well as billions of dollars of reparations for decades of US hostility, then perhaps the «new policy» might herald a genuine shift towards normalisation.

As it is, Obama’s «historic» move is just empty rhetoric that we have grown accustomed to with this president. The underlying premise in Washington is still one of a hegemonic power that is seeking to assert its strategic interests over the Cuban nation. Again, that policy is illegal and should be prosecuted in an international court of law.

Removing the «last vestiges of the Cold War», as the New York Times gushes with florid prose, must be set against the geopolitical reality of how the «exceptional, indispensable nation» of America continues to view itself as having the prerogative to dictate to other countries under duress.

While Obama talks about removing «shackles of the past», the president just last week signed off on new sanctions against Venezuela and this week has given approval for tightening further sanctions on Russia. 

The Cold War, understood properly as a manifestation of American power projection, is far from over. It is an ongoing condition of American hegemonic policy. In that regard, Cuba is therefore merely being removed from the freezer into a chilled container, while other nations, Venezuela and Russia, are being placed back into the American freezer.

The move this week by Obama on Cuba is no more than a public relations manoeuvre, a change in failed US tactics to achieve its illegitimate desire for control over Cuba. If Washington ended its economic aggression against Cuba and others then it might just be a signal of real change. Otherwise it’s just more of the same imperialist policy that is the bedrock of American power.

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After Oil, ISIL Has New Source of Funding: Organ Trafficking

ISIL militants

Local Editor

It has been well known that the Takfiri group operating in Iraq and Syria, ISIL relies on oil sales as a source of funding.

However, it seems there are other sources to fund the terrorist group, including trafficking human organs, the US-based media website Al-Monitor reported earlier this month.

 

The website quoted an otolaryngologist, Siruwan al-Mosuli, as saying that he lately noticed unusual movement within medical facilities in Mosul.

“Information then leaked about organ selling. Surgeries take place within a hospital and organs are quickly transported through networks specialized in trafficking human organs,” Al-Monitor cited Mosuli as saying.

He said that the organs come from fallen fighters who were quickly transported to the hospital, injured people who were abandoned or individuals who were kidnapped.

Organ sales yield large profits, Mosuli added, noting that a specialized mafia is engaged in these operations, in addition to medical institutions working in other countries.

Without coordination among these parties, such a trade cannot be sustained, he said.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the organization sells bodies and organs of injured people they arrest.

The ISIL terrorists control some parts of Syria and Iraq. They are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control. ISIL militants have terrorized and killed people of all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians.

The US-based media website also reported other sources of funding, including imposing taxes on residents, drug trafficking, selling humans and human smuggling rings.

Source: Websites

21-12-2014 – 13:17 Last updated 21-12-2014 – 13:17
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