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Stratfor: Ukraine Coup Plotted by US Over Russian Stance on Syria

Stratfor: Ukraine Coup Plotted by US Over Russian Stance on Syria

The United States plotted the coup which took place in Ukraine in February 2014 in response to Russia’s policy in Syria, says George Friedman, the founder and CEO of Stratfor, known as “Shadow CIA”.

MOSCOW, December 19 (Sputnik) – The United States is behind the February coup in Kiev, which came in response to Russia’s stance on Syria, said George Friedman, the founder and CEO of Stratfor, a global intelligence company.Russia has repeatedly said that the coup in Kiev was organized by the US, Friedman told Kommersant newspaper. Indeed, it was the most overt coup in history, the political analyst stressed.

The United States decided to act following Russia’s successes in the Middle East, a key region for the US. Americans saw that Russians could influence what was happening in the Middle East, Friedman said. Russians are one of the many challenges in the region that the US faces, he stated. The US thought Russia’s activities were an attempt to harm Washington, the political analyst told the newspaper, adding that events in Ukraine should be viewed in this context.

Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey R. Pyatt at the Maidan Square in Kiev
© Sputnik/ Petr Zadorozhny
Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey R. Pyatt at the Maidan Square in Kiev

Russians seem to have underestimated how seriously the US would react to Moscow’s activities in the region and that they would easily respond, Friedman said. The US understood that the thing Russia wants the least is instability in Ukraine, he added.

The head of Stratfor, also known as “The Shadow CIA,” insisted that Russia’s involvement in Syria was not the only reason for the Ukrainian crisis. However, many in Washington started to perceive Russia as a problem, the expert told the newspaper, adding that at that time the US decided to divert Russia’s attention away from the Middle East.Syria has been in a civil war since March 2011. Over 100,000 people have died as a result of the armed conflict. Russia repeatedly stated that the election of Syria’s president Bashar Assad was legitimate, and that the people of Syria should control their future. From the beginning of the war the US supported the opposition and stated that the conflict would not be over with Assad in power.

489 Palestinian females were murdered, 3,537 injured by Israel during “Operation Protective Edge”

 

http://www.euromid.org/en/article/642/Crushing-Flowers:-A-Report-Documenting-Human-Rights-Violations-against-Palestinian-Women-During-Israel’s-“Operation-Protective-Edge”

Author: Euromid Observer

Geneva – Dozens of cases in which civilian women in the Gaza Strip were targeted during Israel’s 50-Day “Operation Protective Edge” are documented in a new report issued today by the nonprofit Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights. Titled “Crushing Flowers,” the report revealed that 489 females were killed by Israeli forces – 23 percent of the total number of victims. Likewise, 3,537 females (31.5 percent of the number of wounded) were injured during the 8 July-26 August assault.

“It is clear from the evidence we collected, including numerous eyewitness accounts, that no effective method was used by Israeli troops to avoid civilian casualties, including women and girls, and that excessive force was rampant,” said Ramy Abdu, chair of Euro-Mid. “Meanwhile, many women are now dealing with the trauma of losing large numbers of their families.”

The 30-page report also documented 100 cases of pregnant women directly affected by the attack, with Israel failing to provide protection or safe corridors for hospital transport – in blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In addition, about 23,184 internally displaced people, including 11,314 females, are currently staying at United Nations-run schools and other government schools that are serving as shelters for those whose houses were destroyed or severely damaged.

“Women have endured cruel and inhumane life conditions in shelters that lack the minimum necessities of life. Many women are suffering from depression and stress as a result of living in schools that do not afford them even rudimentary privacy,” said Abdu.

The attacks described in the report violate the Geneva Conventions (including Article 76 of the Additional Protocol, which states that “women shall be the object of special respect “) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,” charged Ihsan Adel, Euro-Mid legal adviser.

Euro-Mid called for a serious and credible investigation into the incidents and urged Israeli authorities to respect the rules of international law, especially those concerning the protection of women during armed conflict, and to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations.

USA’s motive for destabilising Ukraine is to sell Europe expensive energy supplies

Europe to Pay More for US Gas Rather Than Russian: Energy Agency

Europe’s plans to diversify energy supplies away from Russian sources towards American liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports should not be exaggerated as price and availability remain problems for the importers, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) told Sputnik News Agency.

“We [Europe] have LNG that might be coming from the United States, but it won’t be before 2016, and at this moment we know that LNG comes at a price, and the price of LNG is higher than piped Russian gas,” Maria van der Hoeven commented Thursday on European plans to diversify away from Russian energy sources.

“So let’s not make a dramatized picture more than it is,” she added.

Nearly 30 percent of European’s natural gas supplies come from Russia, the IEA director said. While all countries are interested in diversifying energy supplies and energy routes, “there will always, for a long time, be gas coming from Russia to Europe,” van der Hoeven added.

Due to the price and availability of American LNG, the LNG import terminals of a number of European countries are “underutilized” and are prepared for only 25 percent use, van der Hoeven said.

The conflict in Ukraine has led Europe to more seriously consider the degree to which they rely on Russian imports of oil and natural gas, as the European Commission discussed the issue on a summit in June.

According to the US government’s Energy Information Association, approximately 16 percent of the total natural gas, consumed by Europeans, traveled through the network of Ukrainian pipelines.

The boom in US oil and natural gas has resulted in foreign export contracts and led the US Department of Energy (DOE) to authorize a number of new LNG export terminals across the United States. According to DOE estimates, US LNG exports will begin in 2016.

Sputnik

Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal www.strategic-culture.org.

UN rights watchdog accuses Kiev forces of torture

UN rights watchdog accuses Kiev forces of torture

Inhumane treatment of civilians

RT 

Azov battalion soldiers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine in Kiev's Sophia Square before being sent to the Donbass region. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

Azov battalion soldiers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine in Kiev’s Sophia Square before being sent to the Donbass region. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

Kiev-controlled volunteer battalions and the Ukrainian Security Service are involved in an increasing number of human rights violations including torture and forced disappearances of those suspected of “separatism,” according to a UN OHCHR report.

The report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says that Kiev’s actions in eastern Ukraine to “restore order” have led to “arbitrary detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances of people suspected of ‘separatism and terrorism’. Most of such human rights violations appear to have been perpetrated by certain voluntary battalions or by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).”

The eighth OHCHR report on the human rights situation in Ukraine released on Monday added that the procedural rights of people have not always been observed, with reports of ill-treatment and reprisals upon release.

The report, which covers from November 1-30, says the Office of the Military Prosecutor has not taken any actions to investigate the “considerable” number of allegations of human rights violations, “including looting, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by members of certain voluntary battalions such as Aidar, Azov, Slobozhanshchina and Shakhtarsk.”

For instance, OHCHR says that raids carried out by armed masked men in uniforms without insignia on 85 homes in the district of Krasnyi Lyman have led to a large number of forced disappearances. Those interviewed by UN staff reported being beaten and intimidated to “confess to participation in the armed groups.”

Recruits are sworn in for Azov Battalion in Kiev's Sophia Square. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

Recruits are sworn in for Azov Battalion in Kiev’s Sophia Square. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

In another instance, the UN report cites an interview of a man who claims to have been arbitrarily detained by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and kept incommunicado for two months in the SBU building in Kharkov.

Furthermore, the report notes that authorities are also lagging behind investigating more than 300 cases of shelling civilian areas.

“The indiscriminate shelling of built-up areas continued with over 100 incidents reported in November alone,”the report highlights.

In regards to a number of mass graves found in the conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, the report says that “no clear evidence of mass summary executions either by the armed groups or by the Ukrainian armed forces have been revealed to the public so far.”

The UN says that 4,707 people have died and another 10,322 have been wounded in the Ukraine conflict over the past nine months.

Free Fall of the Ruble – A brilliant ploy of Russian economic Wizards? Who’s chess game?

by Peter Koenig

The world is still hell-bent for hydrocarbon-based energy. Russia is the world’s largest producer of energy. Russia has recently announced that in the future she will no longer trade energy in US dollars, but in rubles and currencies of the trading partners. In fact, this rule will apply to all trading. Russia and China are detaching their economies from that of the West. To confirm this decision, in July 2014 Russia’s Gazprom concluded a 400 billion gas deal with China, and in November this year they signed an additional slightly smaller contract – all to be nominated in rubles and yuan.

The remaining BRICS – Brazil, India and South Africa – plus the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan, Uzbekistan and considered for membership since September 2014 are also India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia, with Turkey also waiting in the wings – will also trade in their local currencies, detached from the dollar-based western casino scheme. A host of other nations increasingly weary of the decay of the western financial system which they are locked into are just waiting for a new monetary scheme to emerge. So far their governments may have been afraid of the emperor’s wrath – but gradually they are seeing the light. They are sensing the sham and weakness behind Obama’s boisterous noise. They don’t want to be sucked into the black hole, when the casino goes down the drain.

To punish Russia for Ukraine, Obama is about to sign into law major new sanctions against Russia, following Congress’s unanimous passing of a recent motion to this effect. – That is what the MSM would like you to believe. It is amazing that ten months after the Washington instigated Maidan slaughter and coup where a Washington selected Nazi Government was put in place, the MSM still lies high about the origins of this government and the massacres it is committing in the eastern Ukraine Donbass area.

Congress’s unanimity – what Congress and what unanimity?

– Out of 425 lawmakers, only 3 were present for the vote  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40489.htm.

The others may have already taken off for their year-end recess, or simply were ‘ashamed’ or rather afraid to object to the bill. As a matter of fact, of the three who were present to vote, two at first objected. Only after a bit of arm-twisting and what not, they were willing to say yes. This is how the ‘unanimous’ vote came to be, as trumpeted by the MSM – unanimous by three votes! The public at large is duped again into believing what is not.

What new sanctions does this repeatedly propagated bill entail?

– It addresses mostly Russian energy companies and defense industry with regard to sales to Syria, as well more anti-Russia propaganda and ‘democratization’ programs in Ukraine – and Russia; all countries with the objective for regime change.

How do these sanctions affect Russia, especially since all Russian energy sales are no longer dollar denominated?

– Sheer propaganda. The naked emperor once more is calling an unsubstantiated bluff. To show his western stooges who is in power. It’s an ever weaker showoff.

Now – as a consequence of declining oil prices and of western ‘sanctions’ – of course, what else? – Russia’s economy is suffering and the ruble is in free fall. Since the beginning of the year it lost about 60%; last week alone 20%. As a result and after serious consideration, says MSM, the Russian Central Bank decided a few days ago to increase the interest of reference from 10.5% to 17% to make the ruble more attractive for foreign investors. It worked only for a few hours. Raising the interbank interest was Putin’s reply to Obama’s bluff – feeding at the same time western illusion about Russia’s decline.

The propaganda drums tell you Russia is helpless because the world has lost the last bit of confidence in President Putin – of course. Regime change is on the agenda. Mr. Putin must be blamed as the culprit, hoping to discredit him with his people. He is leading Russia into a deep recession; the worst since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The mainstream media show you interviews with average mainstreet Russians saying they have lost all their savings, their salaries and pensions are worth nothing anymore and they don’t know how to survive this coming calamity.

In reality, at least 80% of the Russian population stands solidly behind Vladimir Putin. He has brought them universal education, health care and fixed infrastructure that was decaying after the fall of the Soviet Union.

President Putin is literally revered as a hero by the vast majority of Russians – including the country’s oligarchy.

In fact, nobody in the western economic system these days is dealing in rubles. In short-sighted connivance with Washington, the treasuries of the western vassals are releasing their ruble reserves – which Russia does not buy, thereby flooding the market. Russia not only has large dollar reserves, plus the ruble is backed by gold, a fact consistently omitted in the MSM. For now, Russia prefers to let the ruble plummet.

Under another ‘arrangement’ by bully Obama, Middle Eastern oil producing puppets like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are overproducing and flooding the market with petrol and gas, thereby driving the price down to the ostensible detriment of Russia and Venezuela, both countries where Washington vies for regime change. A double whammy thinks Washington, buying kudos with the stooges. The sheiks that control their energy output apparently have been promised enough goodies from Washington to bite the bullet and take their own losses.

Russia needs rubles. That’s her currency. That is the currency Russia needs for future trading – detached from the western monetary system.

When Russia deems that her currency has reached rock-bottom, she will buy back cheap rubles in the market with massive amounts of dollars. Russia may then flood the western market – with dollars, and by now we know what that does to a currency – and simultaneously buy back rubles from the West. A brilliant move to reestablish Russia’s currency in a new emerging monetary system – which Europe would be welcome to join, but willingly, no by Washington style arm-twisting.

Is this another precursor to war? A nuclear confrontation or Cold War II?

– Precursor to a false flag attempting Moscow to fall into the trap?

 

- Not necessarily. Russia is playing a clever chess game, diplomacy at its best. Instead of sabre rattling – Russia is coin rattling. It might lead to a western financial fiasco early in 2015 for the dollar and euro denominated economies. And the winner is…?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, the Voice of Russia, now Ria Novosti, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

Israel lends the al-Nusra terrorists a hand in Syria

Israel lends al-Nusra a hand in Syria

Overtly, the Israeli superpower of the Middle East has been keen to posture as having no role whatsoever in the four-year old devastating conflict in Syria, where all major regional and international powers are politically and militarily deeply involved and settling scores by Syrian blood.

In his geopolitical weekly analysis, entitled “The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East”, on November 25 Stratfor’s George Friedman raised eyebrows when he reviewed the effects which the terrorist group had on all regional powers, but seemed unaware of the existence of the Israeli regional superpower.

It was an instructive omission that says a lot about the no more discreet role Israel is playing to maintain what the Israeli commentator Amos Harel described as the “stable instability” in Syria and the region, from the Israeli perspective of course.

Friedman in fact was reflecting a similar official omission by the US administration. When President Barak Obama appealed for a “broad international coalition” to fight the Islamic State (IS), Israel – the strongest military power in the region and the well – positioned logistically to fight it – was not asked to join. The Obama administration explained later that Israel’s contribution would reflect negatively on the Arab partners in the coalition.

“Highlighting Israel’s contributions could be problematic in terms of complicating efforts to enlist Muslim allies” in the coalition, said Michael Eisenstadt, a senior fellow at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s arm, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Covertly however Israel is a key player in prolonging the depleting war on Syria and the major beneficiary of neutralizing the military of the only immediate Arab neighbor that has so far eluded yielding to the terms dictated by the US-backed Israeli regional force majeure for making peace with the Hebrew state.

Several recent developments however have brought the Israeli role into the open.

First the latest bombing of Syrian targets near the Damascus international civilian airport on December 7 was the seventh major unprovoked air strike of its kind since 2011 and the fifth in the past 18 months on Syrian defenses. Syrian scientific research centers, missile depots, air defense sites, radar and electronic monitoring stations and the Republican Guards were targeted by Israel.

Facilitating the Israeli mission and complementing it, the terrorist organizations operating in the country tried several times to hit the same targets. They succeeded in killing several military pilots and experts whom Israeli intelligence services would have paid dearly to hunt down.

Foreign Policy on last June 14 quoted a report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as saying that the “battle-hardened Syrian rebels … once in Israel, they receive medical treatment in a field clinic before being sent back to Syria”, describing the arrangement as a “gentleman’s agreement”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February this year visited this “military field hospital” and shook hands with some of the more than 1,000 rebels treated in Israeli hospitals, according to Lt Col Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

Foreign Policy quoted also Ehud Yaari, an Israeli fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as saying that Israel was supplying the rebel – controlled Syrian villages with medicines, heaters, and other humanitarian supplies. The assistance, he said, has benefited civilians and “insurgents”. Yaari ignored the reports about the Israeli intelligence services to those “insurgents”.

Israel facilitates war on UNDOF
Second, the latest quarterly report by the UN Disengagement Force (UNDOF) to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on December 1 confirmed what eight previous similar reports had stated about the “interaction across the [Syrian – Israeli] ceasefire line” between the IOF and the “armed members of the [Syrian] opposition”, in the words of Ban Ki-Moon’s report to the Security Council on December 4.

Third, Ki-moon in his report confirmed that the UNDOF “was forced to relocate its troops” to the Israeli side of the ceasefire line, leaving the Syrian side a safe haven zone for the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, which the UNSC had designated a “terrorist group”.

UNDOF’s commander, Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha, told the UNSC on October 9 that his troops were “under fire, been abducted, hijacked, had weapons snatched and offices vandalized”. Australia was the latest among the troop contributing countries to pull out its forces from UNDOF.

UNDOF and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) operate in the buffer zone of about 80 kilometers long and between 0.5 to 10 km wide, forming an area of 235 square km. The zone borders the Lebanon Blue Line to the north and forms a border of less than 1 km with Jordan to the south. It straddles the Purple Line which separates the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from Syria. The west Israeli side of this line is known as “Alpha” and the east Syrian side as “Bravo”.

Speaking at the US military base Fort Dix on Monday, President Obama warned those who “threaten America” that they “will have no safe haven”, but that is exactly what Israel is providing them.

Israeli “interaction” has practically helped the UNDOF “to relocate” from Bravo to Alpha and to hand Bravo as a safe haven over to an al-Nusra Front-led coalition of terrorist groups.

Al-Nusra Front is officially the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Committee on Foreign relations on this December 9 that his administration considers the IS to be a branch of al-Qaeda operating under a different name. Both terrorist groups were one under the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and only recently separated. Whoever accommodates either one is in fact courting the other.

“The 1,200-strong UN force is now mostly huddled inside Camp Ziouani, a drab base just inside the Israeli – controlled side of the Golan Heights. Its patrols along the de facto border have all but ceased,” the Associated Press (AP) reported on last September 18.

Israeli air force and artillery intervened several times to protect the al-Nusra Front’s “safe haven” against fire power from Syria, which is still committed to its ceasefire agreement of 1974 with Israel. Last September for example, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that was bombing the Front’s positions, only three weeks after shooting down a Syrian drone over the area.

Israel is not only violating Syrian sovereignty, but violating also the UN-sponsored ceasefire agreement and the UNSC anti-terror resolutions. More important, Israel is in fact undermining the UNDOF mandate on the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

This situation could only be interpreted as an Israeli premeditated war by proxy on the UN presence on the Golan Heights.

“Israel is the most interested in having [UN] peacekeepers evacuated from the occupied Golan so as to be left without international monitoring,” Syria’s permanent envoy to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari, told reporters on September 17.

The UNSC seems helpless or uninterested in defending the UNDOF mandate on the Golan against Israeli violations, which risk the collapse of the 1974 ceasefire arrangements.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry was on record condemning these violations as a “declaration of war”, asserting that Syria reserves its right to retaliate “at the right moment and the right place”. Obviously a regional outbreak is at stake here without the UN presence as a buffer.

Upgrading unanimously Israel’s status from a “major non-NATO ally” to a “major strategic partner” of the United States by the US Congress on December 3 could explain the UNSC inaction.

The undeclared understanding between the Syrian government and the US-led coalition against the self-declared “Islamic State” (IS) not to target the latter’s forces seems to have left this mission to Israel, who could not join the coalition publicly for subjective as well as objective reasons.

The AP on September 18 did not hesitate to announce that the “collapse of UN peacekeeping mission on Golan Heights marks a new era on Israel-Syria front”. Aron Heller, the writer of the AP report, quoted the former Israeli military liaison officer with UNDOF, Stephane Cohen, as saying: “Their mandate is just not relevant anymore.” Heller concluded that this situation “endangers” the “status quo”, which indeed has become a status quo ante.

Israeli strategic gains
The emerging fait accompli seems very convenient to Israel, creating positive strategic benefits for the Hebrew state and arming it with a pretext not to withdraw the IOF from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Palestinian territories.

In an analysis paper published by The Saban Center at Brookings in November 2012, Itamar Rabinovich wrote that, “Clearly, the uncertainty in Syria has put the question of the Golan Heights on hold indefinitely. It may be a long time until Israel can readdress the prospect of giving the Golan back to Damascus.”

Moreover, according to Rabinovich, “the Syrian conflict has the potential to bring the damaged Israeli – Turkish relationship closer to normalcy ? they can find common ground in seeking to foster a stable post – Assad government in Syria.”

The hostile Turkish insistence on toppling the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, the concentration of the IS and other rebel forces in the north of the country and in central, eastern and southern Syria are diverting the potential and focus of the Syrian Arab Army northward and inward, away from the western front with the Israeli occupying power on the Golan Heights.

The protracted war on the Syrian government is depleting its army in manpower and materially. Rebuilding the Syrian army and the devastated Syrian infrastructure will preoccupy the country for a long time to come and defuse any military threat to Israel for an extended time span.

On the Palestinian front, the rise of the IS has made fighting it the top US priority in the Middle East, which led Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to several US administrations on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, to warn in Foreign Policy early in September that the rise of the IS would pose “a serious setback to Palestinian hopes of statehood”.

The expected fallback internally of the post-war Syria would “hopefully” relieve Israel of the Syrian historical support for the Palestinian anti – Israeli occupation movements, at least temporarily.

Netanyahu on Sunday opened a cabinet meeting by explicitly using the IS as a pretext to evade the prerequisites of making peace. Israel “stands … as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism washing over the entire Middle East”, he said, adding that “to force upon us” a timeframe for a withdrawal from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, as proposed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the UN Security Council, “will bring the radical Islamic elements to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this.”

Israel is also capitalizing on the war on the IS to misleadingly align it with the Palestinian “Islamic” resistance movements. “When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas,” Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on September 29.

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online’s regular contributors.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (nassernicola@ymail.com). 

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