Dangerous Drivel from Pompeo Confirms America Is No Peace Broker

By Stuart Littlewood

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Pretence not to understand 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention perpetuates Israel’s impunity

Pompeo visits the Western Wall and Tunnel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu edfc9

Before our American friends run away with the idea that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authority to say that planting Israeli civilian settlements in Occupied Palestine “is not, per se, inconsistent with international law”, and that the Trump Administration is only recognizing the reality on the ground, they might like to hear the authoritative opinion of John McHugo, International lawyer and Balfour Project trustee:

Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 provides that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Article 49(6) was considered by the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2004. It stated, at para. 120 of the Advisory Opinion, that Article 49(6) “prohibits not only deportations or forced transfers of population…but also any measures taken by an occupying Power in order to organize or encourage transfers of parts of its own population into the occupied territory.”

All judges of the court subscribed to this with the sole exception of Judge Buergenthal, the American judge, who is a Holocaust survivor and who lost toes to frostbite as a child in Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. He took the view that the Court should have declined to exercise its jurisdiction. Yet he issued his own Separate Declaration to the Advisory Opinion in which he expressly stated at Para. 9: “I agree that [Article 49(6)] applies to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and that their existence violates Article 49, paragraph 6”. The view that Israeli civilian settlements violated Article 49(6) was thus the unanimous view of the judges.

More recently, the fact that this is the law was reiterated by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2334 of 23 December 2016 at operative paragraph 1: “The Security Council Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

It is not for any State, however mighty and powerful, to rewrite the rules of international law. Realities on the ground are subject to the rule of law, just as all other realities are.

For good measure Article 85(4)(a) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides that “the transfer by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” is a grave breach of the Protocol. And under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the 1998 ICC Statute “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.

And, by the way, in 1992, in its final report to Congress on the conduct of the Gulf War, the US Department of Defence declared that it regarded the transfer of the Iraqi population into occupied Kuwait in violation of Article 49 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV as a war crime. So, happy with the Convention then.

As usual, the US and its allies (including the UK), will observe international law when it suits them. But not if it upsets their bosom-pals in Israel.

Pompeo’s two cents’ worth follows Trump’s presidential declaration earlier this year recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria. When will Washington understand that Trump’s capricious shifts in policy don’t alter international law, don’t impress other nations, and endanger world peace?

As a product of Harvard Law School Pompeo should be ashamed of his fatuous pronouncement.

McHugo points out that British government policy is to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state “when it best serves the interests of peace”. In view of Pompeo’s and Trump’s dangerous remarks that moment is now.

Norman Finkelstein: Fatou Bensouda Has Done Everything in Her Power to Prevent an Investigation of the Israeli Crimes by the ICC

By Slava Zilber

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Norman Finkelstein bd369

Slava Zilber: I would like to interview you about your new book. Could you please explain the title: “I Accuse!: Herewith A Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt That ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda Whitewashed Israel

Norman Finkelstein: As you know, Israel has been occupying Gaza since 1967, which is more now than a half-century. Israel has imposed an illegal, immoral, and inhumane blockade on Gaza since January 2006, and Gaza is rapidly becoming – it might have already become – physically an unlivable space. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that the population of Gaza is more than half children. And 70 percent of the population consists of refugees and children of refugees and successive generations of refugees.

So you have a population more than half of which is children, 70 percent of which is refugees and successive generations which for more than half a century has been living under a brutal Israeli occupation and since 2006 has been living under an illegal, an immoral, an inhuman blockade that has rendered Gaza, in effect, physicallyunlivable.

Now, in the course of the occupation and the blockade, there have been several incidents as they are called in international law jargon. They have been referred to the International Criminal Court, the ICC. And the chief prosecutor is named Fatou Bensouda. And Fatou Bensouda has been desperately trying to quash these complaints – the technical term is referrals – to the ICC.

And on one of the two complaints, there have been proceedings that have gone on since 2013, which is more than six years ago now. A complaint was filed with her office. And Bensouda has repeatedly declared that she will not launch an investigation of the complaint filed with the ICC. And the case is closed. She said that twice now. But there are forces within the ICC which have been pushing back against her clear whitewash of Israel. And so she declares the case closed, then other forces say ‘not so fast,’ and other forces within the ICC say Bensouda has to reopen the case. And it has been going back and forth. Now, there is supposed to be an important intervention by Bensouda on December 2nd. And I wrote the book with one, very specific purpose in mind and that is to expose Bensouda’s lies, her falsifications, her fabrications, her misrepresentations in this systematic and methodical whitewash of Israel and to force her to either investigate Israeli crimes which to date she refuses to do or to step down from office.

Why does the International Criminal Court whitewash these crimes? To what extent is it about Bensouda? You have spoken very critically about her predecessor, Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo. To what extent is it about the ICC? Has there been outside influence? You spoke about the retraction of the Goldstone Report.

Richard Goldstone was the South African judge who was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity after Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9. After Goldstone issued a devastating report on Israel’s crimes during Operation Cast Lead, he came under a vicious attack by Israel and its apologists. And, for reasons which aren’t entirely clear, he then was forced to retract the report, whether he succumbed to the pressures that were exerted on him or he was blackmailed. I am inclined to believe the latter. Whether it was external pressures or internal blackmail, he succumbed. At that point, a lot of the human rights community got very nervous that, if you attack Israel, the Mossad and various other Israeli agencies are going to dig deep into your closet in order to find skeletons that can tarnish and, worse, destroy your reputation. So I think part of the reason Bensouda has been lying, fabricating, falsifying is the fear that she will become the target of the very same agencies that brought down Richard Goldstone. And also the US has made plain under the Trump administration – they have said literally, in no subtle language: If the ICC investigates the United States or Israel, the US will destroy the ICC.

So there are both personal motives, the fear that the many skeletons in Bensouda’s closet will be exposed to public view, and the institutional fear that the ICC itself will be under attack. On both those grounds, she has done everything in her power to prevent an investigation of the Israeli crimes by the ICC.

Recently, there has been a scandal regarding the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. There was an official report and then another report [an engineering assessment] was leaked. And now two whistleblowers have come forward. 

Is there an organization that still has integrity on the issue of Israel/Palestine, which is not just a puppet of outside powers and can be objectively trusted to report on the human rights abuses?

It’s a question of degrees and gradations. Amnesty International can be very good, but it can be very bad. Human Rights Watch can be very bad, but occasionally it can be quite good. B’Tselem under its previous leadership – the executive director was Jessica Montell – was quite bad, but under its current leadership, [Hagai] ElAd, the Israeli physicist, its record has been very good. So these kinds of organizations are subject to – always – a lot of external pressure. Sometimes they resist, and sometimes they succumb.

Have you contacted the people involved in this process at the International Criminal Court? Can people write petitions? Can people reach out and make a plea?

I have tried to contact a few of the individuals, not many. However, we have an expression in English: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” And I rather then see the finished product. Quite a few of them are serious. They don’t just read the cover and the blurb. And so I am hoping once they read the book, they will be convinced that I’ve made an overwhelming case and then hopefully will act on it. So it is a little bit premature to expect any action. They have to read my argument. And then we will see what they say. And we will see what they do.     

What would the symbolic and the practical value of the indictment be?

It depends. Sometimes, symbolism can have a real, material impact. If the prosecutor is sufficiently embarrassed that she has to press ahead with an investigation, then a diplomatic conflict will erupt, and then we will have to wait and see what comes of it. The US, along with Israel, will push hard against the ICC. And then we’ll have to see how hard the ICC pushes back or whether it succumbs. It’s a battle, but it’s a battle about to cast light on Israeli crimes against Gaza. And that would be a good thing.

Is there a realistic prospect of somebody being put on trial and possibly convicted?

No, it’s not a realistic prospect. A realistic prospect is [that] pressure will be exerted on Israel to lift the blockade in order to avoid an investigation. It will be quiet backroom discussions: ‘You know, this guy makes a big case. A lot of people are very angry. They are calling me a liar. They are calling me a whitewasher. So maybe you can just lift the blockade so we can avoid this mess because I really don’t want to investigate you, you know. I don’t really have a choice now.’ So maybe it’ll put pressure on Israel to lift the blockade. But no indictments. That’s not possible. The ICC only indicts Africans. That’s why they call it the International Caucasian Court.

One could argue that this whitewashing by Ms. Bensouda and her predecessors is basically the function of this court. It’s fulfilling its function as International Caucasian Court.

I know a very good jurist, one of the leading international law jurists in the world. He is very respected. And I talk to him privately. He says the ICC is not a court; it’s a joke. It’s so corrupt. It’s so contemptible, just put into power to prosecute war criminals, for sure, but criminals in the great scheme of things who don’t really compare to, say, a Tony Blair, a George Bush or any of the others who are culpable for massive war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In recent years and now during the presidential election, do you see a shift when it comes to discourse about Israel and Palestine and the issue you address in your book? Are reactions different now?

We could see of the leading candidates it is pretty much down the middle. Two candidates, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, are of the old world, 100 percent support for Israel, basically abetters and appeasers of war crimes. And two candidates, Elizabeth Warren and in particular Bernie Sanders, have adopted a much more critical approach towards Israel. Elizabeth Warren is still pretty weak, but she issued a good statement on the recent Israeli massacres in Gaza. Bernie Sanders has, in general, been very decent.

So you see within the leading presidential candidates a manifestation in their statements of the split within the Democratic Party between the old guard, blind supporters of Israel, and the new constituencies in the Democratic Party which are more willing to out the Israeli criminality.

What is next for you, Prof. Finkelstein?

I don’t know. It depends on what happens in the world. For the moment, I am focused on the Bernie Sanders candidacy. If he wins, it’s a game changer. We will be living in a new country. I should amend that. We will be living in a country in which the left will have the potential to exercise serious institutional power and that would be a very good change. So let’s wait and see what happens.

Our Threshing Floors Are A Resistance

Our Threshing Floors Are A Resistance

By Samer al-Hajj Ali

Beirut – The martyrdom of Hussein Shalhoub and Sanaa al-Jundi might be just another terminal on the road to bringing down an entire society to its knees. It could be a “mercy shot” against a shrewd project aimed at destroying Lebanon and eliminating its pluralism and civil peace. But the project, which is designed to subjugate Lebanon and force it into taking deals, will not succeed. It will follow in the footsteps of the starvation projects undertaken by the US against the resistance community and implemented by Washington’s proxies in Lebanon and abroad.

From the chaos of stupidity and the mobs, the resistance community emerges. It is as if it has learned lessons after a weeks-long silence during which it watched and analyzed developments in Lebanon and the region. These regional developments and those unfolding in the streets of Beirut and across Lebanon cannot be separated. This is especially true when it comes to the lines of isolation, which are referred to as points of banditry by those taking advantage of the revolution. For those who lived under the “Israeli” occupation, these roadblocks brought back memories of the former security belt crossings, in particular the Beit Yahoun and Hamra ones. They also provoked those who are racing to find solutions to developments in this open battle, which has taken the economic sanctions as its banner.

“The American conspiracy has been exposed,” social activist Hussein Abbas tells al-Ahed news website. “They want to hit the environment of the resistance in Lebanon by relying on the policies of oppression and starvation after they failed to eliminate it during the decades-long wars and military operations. Today, they are rushing to impose an economic blockade on us, to starve us without paying attention to the fact that we are the followers of an Imam who died hungry and thirsty and did not surrender. His banner still flies.

‘I am the resistance, I am the farmer’

Hussein’s position was articulated through his collaboration with a group of young people in Tyre, which led to the launch of an initiative called ‘I am the Resistance, I am the Farmer’. It urges people to return to cultivating their land that they left behind due to the economic policies prevailing in Lebanon starting in the 1990s. The campaign does more than advocate. It also organizes awareness seminars and educational meetings to re-train people on the correct methods of agriculture and varieties of agriculture that can be used during these circumstances.

Abbas points out that the campaign’s follow-up committee produced many brochures, raising awareness about winter cultivars and their suitability with different soil types in the region.

While the campaign focuses on advocating the cultivation of leaf vegetables and vegetables people consume on a daily basis, Abbas puts the campaign’s capabilities at the disposal of anyone wishing to plow lands and orchards and equip them for agriculture. Volunteer agricultural engineers can provide guidance and follow-up.

While the campaign ‘I am the resistance, I am the farmer’ was launched along the coastal area of southern Lebanon, other campaigns launched by southern municipalities were paving their way to the fields, especially the threshing floors of the town of Ainata in the district of Bint Jbeil. The town’s municipality became the headquarters of a group of farmers and specialists in agriculture and the economy who prepared for a long battle against all forms of siege.

Our Threshing Floors Are A Resistance

‘Our Threshing Floors Are A Resistance’ [Bayaderona Moqawema], is a project born out of an idea the municipality of Ainata got from the local community. It is meant to facilitate a return to the roots and the cultivation of lands that were occupied by the “Israeli” enemy and are still under a masked occupation in the form of cluster bombs, desertification and neglect. The head of the Ainata Municipality, Dr. Riad Fadlallah, points out to al-Ahed that the initiative comes at a time of stressful economic conditions marred by fears of staple food shortages.

“This has forced us to seek other sources to secure these staples and to assure our people that we stand by them,” Fadlallah explains.

“The residents suggested planting a variety of grains, mainly wheat, as the main staple of flour. But the municipal council failed to convene, so a decision was made to adopt the idea but with no financial profit,” Fadlallah tells al-Ahed. “Thus, we launched an appeal asking residents to lend their land free of charge for the project. There was a high turnout. This provided us with an incentive to complete the remainder of the main steps, including designating the land that can be used for planting and divided according to the types of agriculture required pending the start of planting season with the first rains.”

“We want to fight desertification, the high cost of living and the possibility of grain shortages,” Fadlallah adds.

“We will turn the threat into opportunity. And we will go back to our roots represented by agriculture with the help of our people, for those who have been accustomed to giving blood will surely give you land to cultivate, let alone material support. This is an incentive to move forward with this project.”

Sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture

Amid the threats and opportunities, Ainata has the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, which is supposed to be the “mother of the boy” in every sense when it comes to agriculture in Lebanon. Hussein al-Saqqa, director of the Agriculture Department in the Nabatieh governorate, believes the town to be a pioneer, since people used to grow on its plantations and eat from its animal products, such as chickens. Today our villages are full of land that is not being utilized. It sits empty all the time. If each person took care of his land and cultivated it, he will be able to secure his annual provisions and save from the household income.

Al-Saqqa calls on people to return to the land for food security. But he also points out that the ministry stands by the experience and the farmers in Lebanon as it has always done through the projects it launched, the projects it took part in with donors or the projects submitted to it by the municipalities.

Ainata’s initiative was soon adopted by surrounding villages and towns, which are fully aware of how to resist and overcome difficult circumstances. Some municipalities have been working for years on a comprehensive development plan with agriculture as a central tool.

The Federation of Jabal Aamel Municipalities is one of those. It did not hesitate in the past to support this sector. It did so through summer agricultural projects, which distribute seedlings free of charge to farmers and other people. It also did it through the launch of projects of thyme and aromatic plants, laying hens and bees, reviving the cultivation of figs and cactus and taking care of olive groves, tobacco and others in various towns and villages.

Ali Taher Yassin, the president of the federation reveals that the union today is introducing to its annual program the cultivation of different types of grains, including wheat. Both types of wheat are being introduced – the kind used for provisions like Burghul and Freek, and the kind used for flour.

“The agricultural department in the federation is preparing a detailed study that will be completed in the coming days to launch the process of planting grain and wheat in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and securing seeds that will contribute to increasing production and achieving economic feasibility,” Yassin said hoping for help from the people and farmers by raising interest in this topic.

Yassin points out that the federation and its municipalities have been able to increase local agricultural production by over 40% in the last ten years. It does not only provide provisions that the people need, but it also maintains health and food security through the consumption of controlled and disease-free organic product.

Yassin concludes by pointing out that while some supporting bodies and organizations stopped their aid to the municipalities, we declare our readiness to provide everything necessary in this regard. Let the whole world see that this nation which triumphed through its resistance with the least available means, will reaffirm its capability to achieve self-sufficiency, again with the least available means.

While the state of readiness is raised before we enter the rainy season, and before the phase of sowing the land with grain begins, the agricultural services center in the town of At Tiri – affiliated to the Federation of Bint Jbeil – continued to distribute wheat seeds for making flour to farmers in various municipalities. By next summer, they will be flour-producing municipalities and seeking self-sufficiency. This will save resistance communities from waiting in queues at bakeries in search for breadcrumbs that the US and its puppets in and outside of Lebanon are trying to take away from those who gave glory to the Cedar country with their blood and did not kneel.

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US ‘Regime Changes’: The Historical Record

Global Research, November 29, 2019

First published on February 5, 2019

As the US strives to overthrow the democratic and independent Venezuelan government, the historical record regarding the short, middle and long-term consequences are mixed.

We will proceed to examine the consequences and impact of US intervention in Venezuela over the past half century.

We will then turn to examine the success and failure of US ‘regime changes’ throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Venezuela: Results and Perspectives 1950-2019

During the post WWII decade, the US, working through the CIA and the Pentagon, brought to power authoritarian client regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and several other countries.

In the case of Venezuela, the US backed a near decade long military dictatorship (Perez Jimenez ) roughly between 1951-58. The dictatorship was overthrown in 1958 and replaced by a left-center coalition during a brief interim period. Subsequently, the US reshuffled its policy, and embraced and promoted center-right regimes led by social and christian democrats which alternated rule for nearly forty years.

In the 1990’s US client regimes riddled with corruption and facing a deepening socio-economic crises were voted out of power and replaced by the independent, anti-imperialist government led by President Chavez.

Image on the right: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2005 (Source: Public Domain)

The free and democratic election of President Chavez withstood and defeated several US led ‘regime changes’ over the following two decades.

Following the election of President Maduro, under US direction,Washington mounted the political machinery for a new regime change. Washington launched, in full throttle, a coup by the winter of 2019.

The record of US intervention in Venezuela is mixed: a middle term military coup lasted less than a decade; US directed electoral regimes were in power for forty years; its replacement by an elected anti-imperialist populist government has been in power for nearly 20 years. A virulent US directed coup is underfoot today.

The Venezuela experience with ‘regime change’ speaks to US capacity to consummate long-term control if it can reshuffle its power base from a military dictatorship into an electoral regime, financed through the pillage of oil, backed by a reliable military and ‘legitimated’ by alternating client political parties which accept submission to Washington.

US client regimes are ruled by oligarchic elites, with little entrepreneurial capacity, living off of state rents (oil revenues).

Tied closely to the US, the ruling elites are unable to secure popular loyalty. Client regimes depend on the military strength of the Pentagon — but that is also their weakness.

Regime Change in Regional-Historical Perspective

Puppet-building is an essential strategic goal of the US imperial state.

The results vary over time depending on the capacity of independent governments to succeed in nation-building.

US long-term puppet-building has been most successful in small nations with vulnerable economies.

Image below: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the advocate of the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état that installed the right-wing dictatorship (Source: Public Domain)

The US directed coup in Guatemala has lasted over sixty-years – from 1954 -2019. Major popular indigenous insurgencies have been repressed via US military advisers and aid.

Similar successful US puppet-building has occurred in Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Being small and poor and having weak military forces, the US is willing to directly invade and occupy the countries quickly and at small cost in military lives and economic costs.

In the above countries Washington succeeded in imposing and maintaining puppet regimes for prolonged periods of time.

The US has directed military coups over the past half century with contradictory results.

In the case of Honduras, the Pentagon was able to overturn a progressive liberal democratic government of very short duration. The Honduran army was under US direction, and elected President Manual Zelaya depended on an unarmed electoral popular majority.Following the successful coup the Honduran puppet-regime remained under US rule for the next decade and likely beyond.

Chile has been under US tutelage for the better part of the 20th century with a brief respite during a Popular Front government between 1937-41 and a democratc socialist government between 1970-73. The US military directed coup in 1973 imposed the Pinochet dictatorship which lasted for seventeen years. It was followed by an electoral regime which continued the Pinochet-US neo-liberal agenda, including the reversal of all the popular national and social reforms. In a word, Chile remained within the US political orbit for the better part of a half-century.

Chile’s democratic-socialist regime (1970-73) never armed its people nor established overseas economic linkage to sustain an independent foreign policy.

It is not surprising that in recent times Chile followed US commands calling for the overthrow of Venezuela’s President Maduro.

Contradictory Puppet-Building

Several US coups were reversed, for the longer or shorter duration.

The classical case of a successful defeat of a client regime is Cuba which overthrew a ten-year old US client, the Batista dictatorship, and proceeded to successfully resist a CIA directed invasion and economic blockade for the better part of a half century (up to the present day).

Cuba’s defeat of puppet restorationist policy was a result of the Castro leadership’s decision to arm the people, expropriate and take control of hostile US and multinational corporations and establish strategic overseas allies – USSR , China and more recently Venezuela.

In contrast, a US military backed military coup in Brazil (1964) endured for over two decades, before electoral politics were partially restored under elite leadership.

Twenty years of failed neo-liberal economic policies led to the election of the social reformist Workers Party (WP) which proceeded to implement extensive anti-poverty programs within the context of neo-liberal policies.

After a decade and a half of social reforms and a relatively independent foreign policy, the WP succumbed to a downturn of the commodity dependent economy and a hostile state (namely judiciary and military) and was replaced by a pair of far-right US client regimes which functioned under Wall Street and Pentagon direction.

The US frequently intervened in Bolivia, backing military coups and client regimes against short-term national populist regimes (1954, 1970 and 2001).

Morales 20060113 02.jpg

In 2005 a popular uprising led to free elections and the election of Evo Morales, the leader of the coca farmers movements. Between 2005 – 2019 (the present period) President Morales led a moderate left-of-center anti imperialist government.

Unsuccessful efforts by the US to overthrow the Morales government were a result of several factors: Morales organized and mobilized a coalition of peasants and workers (especially miners and coca farmers). He secured the loyalty of the military, expelled US Trojan Horse “aid agencies’ and extended control over oil and gas and promoted ties with agro business.

The combination of an independent foreign policy, a mixed economy , high growth and moderate reforms neutralized US puppet-building.

Not so the case in Argentina. Following a bloody coup (1976) in which the US backed military murdered 30,000 citizens, the military was defeated by the British army in the Malvinas war and withdrew after seven years in power.

The post military puppet regime ruled and plundered for a decade before collapsing in 2001. They were overthrown by a popular insurrection. However, the radical left lacking cohesion was replaced by center-left (Kirchner-Fernandez) regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade (2003 – 15).

The progressive social welfare – neo-liberal regimes entered in crises and were ousted by a US backed puppet regime (Macri) in 2015 which proceeded to reverse reforms, privatize the economy and subordinate the state to US bankers and speculators.

After two years in power, the puppet regime faltered, the economy spiraled downward and another cycle of repression and mass protest emerged. The US puppet regime’s rule is tenuous, the populace fills the streets, while the Pentagon sharpens its knives and prepares puppets to replace their current client regime.

Conclusion

The US has not succeeded in consolidating regime changes among the large countries with mass organizations and military supporters.

Washington has succeeded in overthrowing popular – national regimes in Brazil, and Argentina. However, over time puppet regimes have been reversed.

While the US resorts to largely a single ‘track’ (military coups and invasions) in overwhelming smaller and more vulnerable popular governments, it relies on ‘multiple tracks’ strategy with regard to large and more formidable countries.

In the former cases, usually a call to the military or the dispatch of the marines is enough to snuff an electoral democracy.

In the latter case, the US relies on a multi-proxy strategy which includes a mass media blitz, labeling democrats as dictatorships, extremists, corrupt, security threats, etc.

As the tension mounts, regional client and European states are organized to back the local puppets.

Phony “Presidents” are crowned by the US President whose index finger counters the vote of millions of voters. Street demonstrations and violence paid and organized by the CIA destabilize the economy; business elites boycott and paralyze production and distribution… Millions are spent in bribing judges and military officials.

If the regime change can be accomplished by local military satraps, the US refrains from direct military intervention.

Regime changes among larger and wealthier countries have between one or two decades duration. However, the switch to an electoral puppet regime may consolidate imperial power over a longer period – as was the case of Chile.

Where there is powerful popular support for a democratic regime, the US will provide the ideological and military support for a large-scale massacre, as was the case in Argentina.

The coming showdown in Venezuela will be a case of a bloody regime change as the US will have to murder hundreds of thousands to destroy the millions who have life-long and deep commitments to their social gains , their loyalty to the nation and their dignity.

In contrast the bourgeoisie, and their followers among political traitors, will seek revenge and resort to the vilest forms of violence in order to strip the poor of their social advances and their memories of freedom and dignity.

It is no wonder that the Venezuela masses are girding for a prolonged and decisive struggle: everything can be won or lost in this final confrontation with the Empire and its puppets.

*

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Award winning author Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from Images.com/Corbis

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Anger over India’s diplomat calling for ‘Israel model’ in Kashmir

Al-Jazeera With inputs from Bilal Kuchay in New Delhi

In video posted by filmmaker, India’s consul general to US seems to advocate Israel-like settlements of Kashmiri Hindus.

 

Kashmir is reeling under a crippling military lockdown and internet blackout for nearly four months [Danish Ismail/Reuters]
Kashmir is reeling under a crippling military lockdown and internet blackout for nearly four months [Danish Ismail/Reuters]

Israel Commemorates the Assassination of Rabin with Another Massacre in Gaza

By Miko Peled

Source

Fresh on the heels of commemorating the killing of Israeli icon Yitzhak Rabin, Israel launched a series of attacks and assassinations on Palestinians.

Jerusalem, Palestine — My short visit to Palestine in early November began around the time of the commemoration of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, went through the assassination by Israel of Islamic Jihad leader, Bahaa Abu Al-Atta and his wife in Gaza, and ended as Prime Minister Netanyahu, who should be indicted for his countless crimes against the Palestinian people, was indicted for low grade corruption (valued at about $200,000), pulling strings and lying. And as always, Palestinians continue to bury their dead as Israelis bury their heads in the sand.

In a tweet following the assassination of Al-Atta, Dr. Basem Naim, Head of Council on International Relations, correctly wrote that the Israeli leadership is “pushing the area into war to escape its internal failures.” Not long after that Israel bombed both Gaza and Syria.

Commemorating Rabin’s Death

While it is wrong to speak ill of the dead, when the deceased is a man who represented an entire nation for over half a century, it would also be wrong to allow lies about the deceased to stand uncorrected. Contrary to common belief, Rabin did not die for peace. He spent his entire life destroying Palestine and making the lives of Palestinians unliveable.

Rabin agreed to go along with the Oslo “Peace” Plan only because it all but ensured that Palestinians would never be able to establish a state of their own. The Oslo Accords secured Israeli control over the entire length and breadth of Palestine. Peace, so it was assumed, would be a by-product of this agreement.

Rabin was the iconic Israeli and he represented Israel’s privileged elite: he was Ashkenazi, he fought in 1948, became a general, lead the IDF, he was Minister of Defense and Prime Minister. Being an iconic Israeli, Rabin was despised and envied by everything that his assassin represented: Yigal Amir was not-Ashkenazi but rather an Arab Jew, non-privileged, he was part of the national-religious movement which makes up the West Bank settler community. It is a community that did not have any part in the “myth of the creation,” the legacy of 1948 and the founding of the state and the military but pushed forward the settlement project in the West Bank.

No two groups could be more different and despise each other more than these two.

Israelis like to believe that Rabin’s assassination was caused by his handshake with Yasser Arafat. That the signing of the Oslo Accords, which allowed Palestinians to govern themselves, albeit to a very limited degree, is why he was killed. That his death represents the sacrifice all Israelis were willing to make for peace. However, in reality, his assassination was not about that at all. It was a climactic point in the tension between the two groups represented by the assassin and his victim.

At the public ceremony commemorating the assassination, the only major figure who spoke was also a retired general, former IDF Chief, head of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz. He is the heir apparent to the Rabin legacy of liberal Zionism which promises to continue killing Palestinians while claiming to want peace.

Gaza

What can be said about Gaza that hasn’t already been said? Well, all one has to do is to listen to the commentary on Israeli television news shows to find out. Set up like CNN, a panel of mostly men, naturally all Jewish Israeli, discuss the relations between Hamas and Islamic Jihad. One expert explained how Hamas was pleased that Israel “took out” Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu al-Atta in Gaza as this helped Hamas in the competition between the two.

Comments that were tweeted by Dr. Basem Naim, former minister of health and the Head of Council on International Relations, showed a different story. The assumptions made by Israeli commentators suggesting that Palestinians would see an Israeli assassination of a Palestinian fighter as a cause for relief is indicative of the ignorance and arrogance of the Israeli media.

Abu-Atta was murdered in his bed, his wife was murdered alongside him and their children were seriously injured. There is no inquiry into the legality of the assassination, the murder of Abu-Atta’s wife, or the injuries to his children. In fact, a piece in Ha’aretz, a Liberal Zionist mouthpiece, by Amos Har’el stated that “Israel had a good week,” as a result of the assassination and the massacre that followed.

The assassination was followed by a brutal attack on Gaza in which a total of 34 people were killed, including eight children. Over one hundred people were injured, among them fifty-one children. Indeed a successful week for Israel.

All Around Palestine

In order to get an understanding of the situation in Palestine, one must visit all of Palestine. In the South, Naqab Palestinian Bedouin activists are struggling under daily repression, dispossession, and arrests of activists. In a recent visit to what used to be the village of Al-Araqib, I saw Sheikh Sayagh A-Turi again for the first time since he was released from prison. With each visit, there is less and less of a village. Last time I was there at the end of 2018 there were still a few tents there. This time we sat on a blanket on the ground, under a tree.

The Israeli police have a special terrorist squad called the “Yoav Brigade.” It is a specially trained storm trooper brigade that deals with the unarmed, poor Beduin community. “They come every day and they destroy everything in sight.” I was told by village activists. “If they see a blanket they take it throwing everything on the ground, tea, coffee, water, anything they find.” The Sheikh is not permitted to be there, in his village on his land, at all.

Bedouin Israel

Sheikh Ra’d Salah, from the 1948 Palestinian town of Umm El-Fahm is known as the leader of the currently outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic movement. Israel outlawed the organization, known as “The Northern Branch,” in 2015. A piece by Lawrence Rubin in the Brookings Press claims, “the decision to outlaw the Northern Branch seems to have been based on political calculations, not necessarily security interests.”  Middle East Monitor reports that an Israeli court “convicted Sheikh Salah for incitement to commit terrorism. Magistrates also convicted Salah of illegal incorporation, citing his role as the leader of the Islamic Movement, which Israel outlawed for allegedly engaging in “anti-Israel activities.”

From the Naqab in the South to El-Jaleel in the north, from the Jordan Valley in the East to Yafa in the West, Palestine is occupied and Palestinians are subjected to inhumane treatment by the apartheid regime known as Israel. There was never a more important time to demand that Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) be enacted against Israel, and without delay.

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Mirvis Is Helping to Stoke Antisemitism against Corbyn

By Jonathan Cook

Source

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Chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has not only misrepresented the known facts about Labour and its supposed antisemitism crisis. He has not only interfered in an overtly, politically partisan manner in the December 12 election campaign by suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn – against all evidence – is an antisemite.

By speaking out as the voice of British Jews – a false claim he has allowed the UK media to promote – his unprecedented meddling in the election of Britain’s next leader has actually made the wider Jewish community in the UK much less safe. Mirvis is contributing to the very antisemitism he says he wants to eradicate.

Mirvis’ intervention in the election campaign makes sense only if he believes in one of two highly improbable scenarios.

The first requires several demonstrably untrue things to be true. It needs for Corbyn to be a proven antisemite – and not just of the variety that occasionally or accidentally lets slip an antisemitic trope or is susceptible to the unthinking prejudice most of us occasionally display, including (as we shall see) Rabbi Mirvis.

No, for Mirvis to have interfered in the election campaign he would need to believe that Corbyn intends actively as prime minister to inflame a wider antisemitism in British society or implement policies designed to harm the Jewish community. And in addition, the chief rabbi would have to believe that Corbyn presides over a Labour party that will willingly indulge race-hate speeches or stand by impassively as Corbyn carries out racist policies.

If Mirvis really believes any of that, I have a bridge to sell him. Corbyn has spent his entire political career as an anti-racism campaigner, and his anti-racism activism as a backbencher was especially prominent inside a party that itself has traditionally taken the political lead in tackling racism.

Rising tide of nationalism

The second possibility is that Mirvis doesn’t really believe that Corbyn is a Goebbels in the making. But if that is so, then his decision to intercede in the election campaign to influence British voters must be based on an equally fanciful notion: that there is no significant threat posed by antisemitism from the right or the rapidly emerging far right.

Because if antisemitism is not an issue on the right – the same nationalistic right that has persecuted Jews throughout modern history, culminating in the Nazi atrocities – then Mirvis may feel he can risk playing politics in the name of the Jewish community without serious consequence.

If there is no perceptible populist tide of white nationalism sweeping Europe and the globe, one that hates immigrants and minorities, then making a fuss about Corbyn might seem to make sense for a prominent Jewish community leader. In those circumstances, it might appear to be worth disrupting the national conversation to highlight the fact that Corbyn once sat with Hamas politicians – just as Tony Blair once sat with Sinn Fein leaders – and that Corbyn’s party has promised in the latest manifesto to stop selling weapons to Israel (and Saudi Arabia) of the kind that have been used to butcher children in Gaza. Mirvis might believe that by wounding Corbyn he can help into power a supposedly benevolent, or at least inoffensive, Tory party.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis

@chiefrabbi

CR: “I am delighted to congratulate Boris Johnson on becoming the next leader of the Conservative Party & our next PM. May he be blessed with the wisdom to successfully navigate the political uncertainties we face & bring healing & prosperity to our great country.”

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But if he is wrong about the re-emergence of a white nationalism and its growing entry into the mainstream – and all the evidence suggests he would be deeply wrong, if this is what he thinks – then undermining Corbyn and the Labour party is self-destructiveness of the first order.

It would amount to self-harm not only because attacking Corbyn inevitably strengthens the electoral chances of Boris “watermelon smiles” Johnson. It plays with fire because Mirvis’ flagrant intervention in the election campaign actually bolsters a key part of the antisemitic discourse of the far right that is rapidly making inroads into the Conservative party.

Succour to white nationalists

White nationalists are all over social media warning of supposed Jewish global conspiracies, of supposed Jewish control of the media, of supposed Jewish subversion of “white rights”. It was precisely this kind of thinking that drove European politics a century ago. It was arch-antisemite Arthur Balfour who signed off the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that sought to end Britain’s “Jewish problem” by encouraging European Jews to move far away, to a part of the Middle East then known as Palestine.

That is, of course, why today’s white supremacists love Israel, why they see it as a model, why they call themselves “white Zionists“. In creating a tribal democracy, and one heavily fortified, land hungry, belligerent and nuclear-armed, Israel has done for Jews exactly what white nationalists hope to do again for their white compatriots. The white supremacists’ love of Israel is intimately bound up with their hatred and fear of Jews.

Mirvis has given succour to white nationalist discourse both because he has spoken out against Corbyn without offering evidence for his claims and because those entirely unsubstantiated claims have been echoed across the media.

There is good reason why the billionaire-owned print media and the Establishment-dominated BBC are happy to exploit the antisemitism smears – and it has nothing to do with concern for the safety of Jews. The corporate media don’t want a Labour leader in power who is going to roll back the corporate free-for-all unleashed by Margaret Thatcher 40 years ago that nearly bankrupted the rest of us in 2008.

But that is not what those flirting with or embracing white nationalism will take away from the relentless media chorus over evidence-free antisemitism claims.

Mirvis’ intervention in the democratic process will drive them more quickly and more deeply into the arms of the far-right. It will persuade them once again that “the Jews” are a “problem”. They will conclude that – though the Jews are now helping the right by destroying Corbyn – once the left has been dealt with, those same Jews will then subvert their white state. Like Balfour before them, they will start thinking of how to rid Britain and Europe of these supposed interlopers.

This is why Mirvis was irresponsible in the extreme for meddling. Because the standard of proof required before making such an intervention – proof either that Cobyn is an outright Jew hater, or that white nationalism is no threat to the UK – is not even close to being met.

The left’s anti-imperialism

In fact much worse, all the evidence shows the exact reverse. That was neatly summed up in a survey this month published by The Economist, a weekly magazine that is no friend to Corbyn or the Labour party.

It showed that those identifying as “very left-wing” – the section of the public that supports Corbyn – were among the least likely to express antisemitic attitudes. Those identifying as “very right-wing”, on the other hand – those likely to support Boris “piccaninnies” Johnson – were three and a half times more likely to express hostile attitudes towards Jews. Other surveys show even worse racism among Conservatives towards more obviously non-white minorities, such as Muslims and black people. That, after all, is the very reason Boris “letterbox-looking Muslim women” Johnson now heads the Tory party.

The Economist findings reveal something else of relevance in assessing Mirvis’ meddling. Not only is the real left (as distinguished from the phoney, centrist left represented by Labour’s Blairites) much less antisemitic than the right, it is also much more critical of Israel than any other section of the British public.

That is easily explained. The real left has always been anti-imperialist. Israel is a particularly problematic part of Britain’s colonial legacy.

Elsewhere, the peoples who gained independence from Britain found themselves inside ruined, impoverished states, often with borders imposed out of naked imperial interest that left them divided and feuding. Internal struggles over the crumbs Britain and other imperial powers left behind were the norm.

But in a very real sense, Britain – or at least the west – never really left Israel. In line with the Balfour Declaration, Britain helped to establish the institutions of a “Jewish home” on the Palestinians’ homeland. British troops may have departed in 1948, but waves of European Jewish immigrants were either encouraged or compelled to come to the newly created state of Israel by racist immigration quotas designed to prevent them fleeing elsewhere, most especially to the United States.

The west helped engineer both the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and Israel’s creation to solve Europe’s “Jewish problem”. It provided the components necessary for Israel to build a nuclear bomb that won it a place at the international top table and ensured the Palestinians were made Israel’s serfs in perpetuity. Ever since, the west has provided Israel with diplomatic cover, military aid and special trading status, even as Israel has worked relentlessly to disappear the Palestinian people from their homeland.

Even now, our most prized rights, such as free speech, are being eroded and subverted to protect Israel from criticism. In the US, the only infringements on the American public’s First Amendment rights have been legislated to silence those seeking to pressure Israel over its crimes against the Palestinians with a boycott – similar to the campaign against apartheid South Africa. In the UK, the Conservative manifesto similarly promises to bar local councils from upholding international law and boycotting products from Israel’s illegal settlements.

Rewarding war crimes

The real left focuses on this continuing colonial crime against the Palestinians not because it is antisemitic (a claim the Economist survey amply refutes), but because the left treats Israel as emblematic of British and western bad faith and hypocrisy. Israel is the imperial west’s Achilles’ heel, the proof that war crimes, massacres and ethnic cleansing are not only not punished but actively rewarded if these crimes accord with western imperial interests.

But ardent friends of Israel such as Mirvis are blind to these arguments. For them, one western antisemitic crime – the Holocaust – entirely obscures another western antisemitic crime: seeking to rid Europe of Jews by forcing them into the Middle East, serving as pawns on an imperial chessboard that paid no regard to the Palestinians whose homeland was being sacrificed.

In his state of historical and political myopia, Mirvis cannot begin to understand that there might be political activists who, in defending the Palestinian people, are also defending Jews. That they, unlike him, understand that Israel was created not out of western benevolence towards Jews, but out of western malevolence towards “lesser peoples”. The real left in Britain speaks out against Israel not because it hates Jews but because it holds dear a commitment to justice and a compassion for all.

Mirvis, on the other hand, is the Zionist equivalent of a little Englander. He prefers particularist, short-term interests over universalist, long-term ones.

It was he, remember, who threw his full support behind Israel in 2014 as it indiscriminately bombed Gaza, killing some 550 children – a bombing campaign that came after years of an Israeli blockade on the Palestinian population there. That siege has led the United Nations to warn that the enclave will be uninhabitable by next year.

It was Mirvis, along with his predecessor Jonathan Sacks, who in 2017 endorsed the fanatical Jewish settlers – Israel’s equivalent of white supremacists – on their annual march through the occupied Old City of Jerusalem. This is the march where the majority of the participants are recorded every year waving masses of Israeli flags at Palestinians and chanting “Death to the Arabs”. One Israeli newspaper columnist has described the Jerusalem Day march as a “religious carnival of hatred”.

It was Mirvis and Sacks that encouraged British Jews to join them on this tub-thumping trip to Israel, which they suggested would provide an opportunity to spend time “dancing with our brave soldiers”. Those soldiers – Israeli, not British – occupy West Bank cities like Hebron where they have locked down life for some 200,000 Palestinians so that a handful of crazed religious Jewish bigots can live undisturbed in their midst.

What is so appalling is that Mirvis is blind to the very obvious parallels between the fearful Palestinians who hastily have to board up their shops as a Jewish mob parades through their neighbourhood and today’s white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the west who seek to march provocatively through ethnic minority communities, including Jewish neighbourhoods, in places like Charlottesville.

Mirvis has no lessons to teach Corbyn or the Labour party about racism. In fact, it is his own, small-minded prejudice that blinds him to the anti-racist politics of the left. His ugly message is now being loudly amplified by a corporate media keen to use any weapon it can, antisemitism included, to keep Corbyn and the left out of power – and preserve a status quo that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Iran Unrest: Protests and Provocations

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Source

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When protests in Hong KongIraq, and Lebanon erupted, I was fully anticipating protests in Iran to follow. In 2018 alone, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) had spent millions of dollars in these countries (and elsewhere) to promote America’s agenda. However, I did not expect unrest in Iran to take place while I was visiting the country. In retrospect, I am glad that I was here to be witness to these latest events.

On Thursday, November 21st, friends took me to a very charming Iranian restaurant in the heart of the city. During our lunch, they talked about there being a price hike in gasoline. After lunch, we walked around the charming downtown area of Tehran, visited shops, and exhausted climbed into a cab. We asked the cab driver if he had heard anything about prices going up. He told us that this was just a rumor. As such, the increase in the price of gasoline took Iranians by surprise. Regrettably, the government of President Rohani had not explained the rationale behind the price increase PRIOR to the increase itself. In several parts of Iran, protests erupted. Perhaps justified, and they were peaceful. One could argue they were disruptive in that cars blocked roads, making it difficult for others, causing traffic jams, but there was no vandalism on the first day – not to my knowledge.

But calm soon gave way to violence. A friend who lives in the suburbs of Tehran, in Karaj, told me that on a single street in that sleepy suburb, protestors had set 4 banks on fire. Elsewhere, police stations were attacked, banks and gas stations set on fire. Businesses were set on fire and destroyed. People were sending text messages to each other giving locations of alleged protests in the hopes of gathering people in one spot or another.

This did not surprise me. I was certain that “swarming” tactic was being implemented (as I believe it was elsewhere mentioned above). First developed by RAND as a military and tactical tool, RAND’s publication “Swarming & The Future of Conflict” states:

In Athena’s Camp, we speculated that swarming is already emerging as an appropriate doctrine for networked forces to wage information-age conflict. This nascent doctrine derives from the fact that robust connectivity allows for the creation of a multitude of small units of maneuver, networked in such a fashion that, although they might be widely distributed, they can still come together, at will and repeatedly, to deal resounding blows to their adversaries. This study builds on these earlier findings by inquiring at length into why and how swarming might be emerging as a preferred mode of conflict for small, dispersed, internetted units. In our view, swarming will likely be the future of conflict.”

“Social conflict also features pack-like organizations, as exemplified by modern-day “soccer hooligans.” They generally operate in a loosely dispersed fashion, then swarm against targets of opportunity who are “cut out” from a larger group of people. The use of modern information technologies—from the Internet to cell phones—has facilitated plans and operations by such gangs (see Sullivan, 1997)”.

Swarming depends on robust information flow and is a necessary condition for successful swarming. In other words, by controlling communication and sending texts to ‘protestors,’ random groups are mobilized together in one or various spots. Chaos ensues, which naturally draws reaction. One is never aware of the origin of the messages. In one of her talks, Suzanne Maloney of Brookings seemed to know the exact number of cell phones in use in Iran. These messages increased in number, as did the vandalism and reaction to the destructive behavior. This was not the first time that this tactic had been used in Iran. But it was the first time that Iran’s adversaries were surprised, shocked even, to see that Iran was capable of shutting down the Internet so quickly in order to put a stop to the spread of violence and restore calm.

I drove around in Tehran from end to end, either with friends or in a cab, and took note of the streets. I watched both Iranian TV news and foreign media such as BBC Persian, VOA, Radio Farda, Saudi funded Iran International broadcasted into Iran through satellite (at times jammed) to encourage people to get out on the streets and to protest. Iran was covered under a blanket of snow. With freezing temperatures, I was amused to see BBC Persian show pictures of ‘demonstrators’ in T-shirts. I was angry to see Reza Pahlavi, the deposed Shah of Iran appear on Iran International encouraging people to get out onto the streets. I felt insulted on behalf of every Iranian when Secretary Pompeo retweeted an old tweet and then tweeted again that ‘he was with the Iranian people’ – not to eat, not to receive medicinal goods, not to address their desire for peace and security, but to endure all kinds of hardship and to be subjected to American terrorism (sanctions) and go out on the streets to protest in order to promote America’s agenda.

The hostile foreign media even showed pictures of a ‘protestor’ handing out flowers to security personnel – a symbol first used against the Pentagon in 1967 by a woman protesting the war in Vietnam (and later in the 2014 US-backed coup in Ukraine). Except I could not tell if the picture I saw streaming through the foreign media’s satellite television was Iran or not. The viewer was told it was. The symbol was powerful, but I doubt very much that it was an indigenous one.

With the Internet disconnected, foreign media propaganda then had its viewers believe people were calling from inside Iran; eyewitnesses were reporting events. A voice telling BBC, or Iran International, or …… what was going on. Just a voice which would not doubt then be picked up as eyewitness testimony and shared in all media outlets. The ease with which individuals in various target countries always manage to get directly through television stations has always fascinated me. No automated answer – just straight to the newsroom.

In all this, I can’t help but ask why it was that none of the banks and gas stations set on fire, buildings burnt and businesses ruined, were not located in the pro-West parts of Tehran. Their life continued without a hitch – homes safe, business safe. After all, the main reason for the gasoline price increase was to help the less affluent and the poor. Perhaps as Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute said of the CIA’s role behind the uprisings, Michael D’Andrea, aka “Ayatollah Mike” wanted them safe. Regardless of the reason, CIA/NED spent millions and failed – again.

سلامة شريك كارتيل النفط جنبلاط والبساتنة وشمّاس ويمّين وتوتال يبتزّون الناس

ابراهيم الأمين

السبت 30 تشرين الثاني 2019

لم يكتفِ رياض سلامة بكل ما فعله خلال ربع قرن من سياسات نقدية ومالية أفقرت الشعب اللبناني. ولم يقبل التواضع والخروج من الساحة، وقاتل لأجل ذلك مستخدماً أموال الدولة والمودعين، مانعاً تغييره منذ عام 2005. ولم يكتفِ بما جعل لبنان يدفع كلفة بقائه حاكماً قبل ثلاث سنوات. كذلك لم يكتفِ بالسماح بتهريب أموال كبار أثرياء الحرب الأهلية والحرب الاقتصادية وسارقي الدولة والناس في الأشهر الماضية، بل هو يواصل كذبه على الناس، ويتحدث عن صلابة وسلامة النقد والقطاع المصرفي. ولا يزال يصرّ على سياسات هدفها الأول والأخير المحافظة على أرباح كارتيلات البلاد المنتشرة في كل القطاعات، من المصارف الى النفط والمواد الاستهلاكية وتجّار العملة أيضاً.

الأمر لا يقف عند هذا الحد، بل إن شركاء سلامة، في جولة اليوم، هم من أبناء الطبقة الحاكمة، من رجال أعمال يخدمون سياسيين كباراً بغية المحافظة على نفوذهم وقوّتهم. وبعض هؤلاء يحاولون ركوب موجة الحراك، وتراهم يتحدثون عن الثورة ونظافتها، مثل تاجر الدم والنهب وليد جنبلاط، الذي لم يكتفِ بإرسال زعرانه لقطع طريقَي الساحل والبقاع، وقتل متمرد عليه هو علاء أبو فخر برصاص الموالين له، بل هو اليوم يشارك في تصعيد مفتعل يقف خلفه كارتيل المحروقات، وهو أحدهم، من أجل جباية المزيد من الأرباح، والتي لا نعرف إن كان يضمن مسبقاً تهريبها الى خارج لبنان. وهو يفعل ذلك مطمئناً الى أن جماعة أميركا والـ«ان جي أوز» في الحراك، يمنعون أي كلمة ضده، وأي اعتصام في مواجهته، وأي تحرك تجاه منزله في بيروت أو المختارة، وأي اعتصام ضده في إمارة الشوف وعاليه، وأي بيان يجعله، فعلاً، واحداً من «كلن يعني كلن».

عنوانان احتلّا مشهد البلاد أمس، الى جانب البحث المملّ بشأن الوضع الحكومي، والذي لا يبشّر بخير، حتى ولو تحدد موعد الاستشارات، لأن الذين يريدون تأليف الحكومة هم أنفسهم الذين يرفض الشارع بقاءهم في مناصبهم. والعنوان الأول، هو استمرار التلاعب بسعر الليرة اللبنانية، وتواصل عملية ابتزاز المواطنين الساعين الى استعادة أموالهم المودعة في المصارف. والعنوان الثاني يتعلق بإضراب أصحاب محطات البنزين، وهم شبكة من كبار تجار النفط وموزعيه، والذين حصدوا أموالاً طائلة من الأرباح طوال الفترة الماضية، ويقف جنبلاط في مقدمهم، من أعمال «كوجيكو»، (بالإضافة الى نشاطه في قطاع الغاز والاسمنت)، الى الفرنسيين من خلال شركة «توتال»، الى أبناء البساتنة الذين صاروا يملكون عدداً هائلاً من محطات الوقود، ويتشاركون مع الأخوَين ريمون وتيدي رحمة في استيراد النفط والفيول من الخارج، الى أصحاب المحطات الأخرى من مارون شمّاس وأوسكار يمّين وآل رمضان، وغيرهم من الذين لا يريدون التنازل عن 5 بالمئة من أرباحهم في هذه الأزمة، ويتحدثون عن صعوبات تواجه عمليات الاستيراد.

لكن سلامة يعود ليقف على رأس فرقة إنقاذ هؤلاء. إذ عندما قررت وزارة الطاقة القيام بمبادرة كان يجب أن تكون سياسة عامة منذ وقت طويل، وقررت استيراد البنزين عبر «منشآت النفط»، لتضع ما ستستورده في خزانات تتسع لكميات تكفي البلاد لثلاثة أشهر على الأقل… عندما قررت الوزارة ذلك، قرر أصحاب المحطات الإضراب، بينما يعرقل سلامة إقرار الاعتمادات المالية للوزارة، مؤخِّراً عملية الاستيراد، ومتصرّفاً مع الدولة بطريقة لا تأخذ بالحسبان الأزمة القائمة. يريد منها اتخاذ إجراءات ستنعكس حكماً على المواطنين من خلال رفع أسعار الوقود الآن، من البنزين الى المازوت الذي سيرتفع الطلب عليه في فصل الشتاء والبرد.

اجتماع بعبدا يطالب مصرف لبنان بخفض الفوائد وبتسهيل متطلّبات المودعين

وإلى جانب هذا المسار، لا يزال سلامة يكذب على الناس في شأن الوضع المالي. هو أعلن بلسانه أن الودائع محميّة، وأنه يرفض إقرار قانون لتقييد السحوبات والتحويلات (capital control)، وأنه لن يمسّ بحرية التحويلات المالية الى الخارج. لكنه لم يلزم المصارف بهذا التوجه، بل تركها تتصرف كما لو أن القرار موجود. ثم لم يناقش المصارف في الإجراءات التي تقوم بها لمواجهة طلبات الزبائن. وبينما أعلنت جمعية المصارف برنامج عملها، عادت ولم تلتزم به، وفرضت على الناس البرنامج الذي يناسبها، وهي التي حددت سقف السحب اليومي أو الأسبوعي من العملات المحلية أو الأجنبية. وفوق ذلك، فإن سلامة يترك قطاع الصرّافين يعمل بلا رقيب أو حسيب، علماً بأنه من مسؤولياته، كما هي حال شركات شحن الأموال، التي يرفع أصحابها لواء «ثورة الفقراء»، لكنهم غير مستعدين لخسارة واحد في المئة من أرباحهم.

في القصر الجمهوري، انعقد اجتماع مالي هو الثاني منذ اندلاع الأزمة. وغاب عنه رئيس حكومة تصريف الأعمال سعد الحريري، المهتم بتأليف حكومة يديرها من دون أن يترأّسها. وخلال الاجتماع، جرت مراجعة حاكم مصرف لبنان وجمعية المصارف في الإجراءات المتخذة في سوق القطع وكيفية التعامل مع المودعين. وبحسب معلومات مشاركين في الاجتماع، من المفترض أن يبادر رياض سلامة ــــ ولا أحد يثق بأنه سيفعل شيئاً ــــ إلى إلزام المصارف بسياسات تسهّل للناس الحصول على حاجتهم من أموالهم المودعة، وكذلك تسهيل التحويلات الضرورية للناس وللأعمال إلى الخارج. لكن النقطة الجديدة التي أثيرت في اجتماع أمس، هي دفع القطاع المصرفي الى خفض الفوائد المعتمدة على العملات المحلية والأجنبية الى النصف، باعتبار أن سبب رفعها سابقاً لم يعد موجوداً، إذ كان سلامة يبرّر رفع الفوائد بالحاجة الى جذب أموال من الخارج، وهو ما لا يحصل الآن. ويفترض أن يصدر عن حاكم مصرف لبنان وجمعية المصارف مجموعة من القرارات والتعاميم في هذا السياق.

أما في جانب عمل الصرّافين، فالصورة تبدو قاتمة، حيث لا يضمن أحد من المسؤولين تغييرات حقيقية. وبينما ارتفع سعر الليرة مساء أول من أمس، عاد وانهار أمس ليبقى متداولاً بين 2100 و2250 ليرة لكل دولار.

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Bennett Says ‘Israel’ Must Take Advantage of Protests to Strike Iranian Troops in Syria: Hezbollah Can’t Engage in War Now

Capture

November 29, 2019

The Zionist Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said that ‘Israel’ had to seize the chance of the ongoing protests in Tehran, Baghdad and Beirut in order to strike the Iranian troops in Syria, considering that those disturbances can mitigate the axis of resistance.

Bennet added that the Israeli army must launch a continuous campaign till driving the Iranian troops out of Syria, estimating that Hezbollah cannot engage in such a confrontation because of its involvement in the domestic issues.

The Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that ‘Israel’ had to move against the Iranian troops in Syrian in order to prevent Hezbollah from repeating the same experience of accumulating dozens of thousands of missiles on the occupation entity’s border.

Yedioth Ahronoth also revealed that the Institute for the Zionist National Security Studies simulated a large scale military confrontation with Hezbollah after trading fire on border.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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آخر الاقطاعيين حين يغضب

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سامي كليب

ما أن انتهت مقابلتي أمس على قناة ” أم تي في” اللبنانية، حتى نشر وليد جنبلاط رسالة حاقدة يتهمني فيها بأني نشرت كتابا عن بشار الأسد واني مدسوس في الثورة. احتراما لتاريخ كمال جنبلاط قائد الحركة الوطنية والرجل النبيل الذي استشهد لأجل مبادئه واحتراما لرفاق آخيتهم سابقا في الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي في عز الحركة الوطنية. يهمني أن أوضح التالي:

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أولا: ان هجوم جنبلاط عليّ هو خشيته من امتداد الثورة التي أدعمها الى عقر داره، وهي خشية تفاقمت حين سُئلت على الشاشة هل عُرضت علي وزارة، فهو يعتبر ان الناس من حوله قطيع. هو الذي يختار من يرضى عنه ويسحق من يعاديه، ان لم يقتله، أو يهجّر عائلته. هاله جدا ان يصبح اسمي متدولا، فهو ككل الاقطاعيين يخشى العلم والثقافة، ولا يزعجه اكثر من مثقف لم يقبل يوما بالخضوع لبطشه.

ثانيا: ان كتابي عن سوريا، جاء بناء على قناعاتي بعروبة صادقة، وبأن بلدا عزيزا علينا يُدمّر ويغزوه الإرهاب والحقد وتتقاطع فوقه مصالح العالم، كان يفترض منا كمثقفين ان نكتب حقيقة هذه الحرب التي دمرت قلب العروبة النابض. وهي حقيقة كتبها الكثير من الكتّاب غيري وبينهم مثلا السفير الفرنسي السابق ميشال ريمبو، والكتاب الغربيين مثل فريديريك بيشون،وجان بيار استيفال وروبرت فيسك وغيرهم… بينما كان جنبلاط يضحك على ناسه وشعبه بأن لديه معلومات من مخابرات عالمية بان النظام السوري سيسقط بعد شهر. لم اجامل في الكتاب ولم احابي، وانما توقعت ما حصل تماما وما عاد واعترف به معظم رموز المعارض السورية. اتحداك ان تكشف ان لي أي علاقة مع أي دولة عربية غير علاقة عروبية صادقة صافية منطلقة من مباديء ثابتة.

ثالثا: تعلّمنا من القائد كمال جنبلاط ورفاقه في الحركة الوطنية، ان إسرائيل عدوة، وسرنا على هذا الدرب الذي لأجله استشهد والدي في خلال الاجتياح الإسرائيلي واصيبت امي بجروح حملتها حتى وفاتها. وناصرنا منذ شبابنا من يقاوم مُحتلَّ ارضنا، فكان طبيعيا ان يكون هذا خطنا، بينما ضاعت خطوط جنبلاط، وتاه وصار يضيع بين عواصم العالم باحثا عمن يطمئنه بان حزب الله الذي طرد إسرائيل زائل لا محالة. هو وسام على صدري ان أكون الى جانب من قاوم المحتل من فلسطين ولبنان حتى الجزائر والمغرب.

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رابعا: حين استشهد كمال جنبلاط، وبطش الأستاذ وليد بمسيحيي الجبل انتقاما وهم أهلنا واخواننا الذين عشنا واياهم حياة هانئة جميلة في قرانا الساحرة ، ثم ذهب لعقد تحالف تاريخي مع الرئيس الراحل حافظ الأسد بعد ٤٠ يوما من استشهاد والده، ضاعت البوصلة أكثر، وما عاد “الدروز” يعرفون من قتل من ومن المسؤول والمنفذ حتى عاد جنبلاط يتهم سوريا حين ضعفت بأنها هي التي قتلت والده.

خامسا: صال البيك وجال في توصيف الرئيس بشار الأسد بأقسى النعوت في “ثورة الأرز”، وهو الذي افاد حتى الثمالة من الوجود السوري في لبنان من مصالح تجارية وتعيينات وزارية، لا بل انهم وضعوا له قانونا انتخابيا خاصا به كي تبقى زعامته . وبعد ان نعت جنبلاط الرئيس الأسد باوصاف ……………………”، عاد وذهب مطأطأ الرأس للتصالح معه والاعتذار منه، وحمل له في يده كتابا هدية، وأدلى بتصريحات لا يدلي بها …….،. دائما المصالح اهم من المباديء عند نجل رجل المباديء. يا رجل، لو فُتحت ملفاتك مع النظام السوري لما اكتفينا على مدى سنوات من نشر ما فعلته وما افدت منه.

سادسا: الأستاذ وليد الذي اعلن وقوفه الى جانب خيار مناهض للمقاومة، روّج كثيرا حبه لأهل الخليج والعرب ولحليفه سمير جعجع، فلماذا اذا راح يصف قادة الخليج ” بالمخرّفين” ويعتبر جعجع في جلساته الخاصة بانه ” حاقد تقسيمي” ؟ الجواب ؟ لان المصالح اهم من المباديء.

سادسا: يا وليد جنبلاط المحترم، انا ابن عائلة متواضعة، فقدت أهلي بسبب إسرائيل، تعبت وتعلمت وهاجرت وكافحت في حياة صعبة حتى وصلت الى ما وصلت اليه برضى الله والاهل وبتعبي وعرق جبيني، أنت ماذا فعلت؟ ماذا عملت؟ من أين لك ولمن معك كل هذه الثروة؟ هل تعرف ماذا يعني أصلا عرق الجبين؟ هل تعتقد ان من تحقّرهم كل أسبوع حين تستقبلهم يحبونك فعلا؟ الا تعتقد ان الناقمين عليك داخل طائفتك العريقة الكريمة اهل التوحيد، هم الغالبية اليوم؟ قل لي بالله عليك، كم مصنعا ومؤسسة ومعملا اقمت في منطقتك كي تساعد الفقراء؟ انظر الى ما فعلته مثلا النائبة نايلة معوض في منطقتها للمزارعين…

سابعا: ترفع اليوم شعارات ضد السلطة، كن واثقا ان الرئيس ميشال عون اكثر صدقا وشرفا وشفافية منك. كفاك ضحكا على الناس. وكن واثقا انه لولا اخلاص رئيس حركة امل الرئيس نبيه بري لصداقته معك ودفاعه عنه احتراما لما كان بينكما، لما كان لك اليوم موقع في السياسة، فالجميع فاقد الثقة بك. حبذا لو ان السيد حسن نصرالله الذي راعاك مرارا احتراما لطائفة الموحدين ومنعا للفتنة، يقول يوما ما كنت تقوله له في السر وما تعلنه في العلن.

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ثامنا: أنت اقوى مني بطشا. يمكنك ان تقتلني كما كنت تفعل، يمكنك ان تضيّق على اهلي في الجبل، يمكنك ان ترسلي لي قطّاع طرق، يمكنك ان ” تهوّش” ضد الخائفين منك والمنتفعين منك كي يشتموني على صفحات التواصل الاجتماعي، لكن تأكد ان كل ذلك لن ينفع، فانت آخر الاقطاعيين الزائلين بثورة الناس. فمن نكّل بالناس مثل وساهم بإفقارهم لا يمكنه ان يصبح اليوم ثائرا.

   ( الأربعاء 2019/11/27 SyriaNow)

Syrian Military Bombs Oil Smuggling Infrastructure In Turkish-Occupied Areas, War Report

South Front

On November 26, Kurdish rebels from the so-called Afrin Liberation Forces announced that their forces had eliminated 5 Turkish-backed militants and injured 6 others in an attack near Tuweys in northern Aleppo. The killed and injured militants were reportedly belonging to the al-Waqqas Brigade, which is involved in Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring as a part of the Syrian National Army.

On November 27, Kurdish rebels launched at least 6 rockets at the Turkish-occupied town of Azaz. The shelling reportedly hit a prison run by Turkish proxies injuring at least 3 people.

On November 27 and 28, clashes between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces and Turkish-led forces were ongoing near the village of Abduki in northern Raqqa. According to pro-Kurdish sources, the Syrian National Army advanced on their positions backed up by the Turkish Army. However, the attack was repelled.

Additionally, 2 Turkish soldiers were killed in a mortar attack that targeted their position in the vicinity of the town of Akcakale on the Syrian border, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry.

19 people were killed and 45 others were injured in a car bomb explosion in the Turkish-occupied town of Tell Halaf on November 26. The explosion took place at the town’s main market, which was crowded by civilians and Turkish-backed militants. Turkish sources immediately accused Kurdish armed groups of being behind the attack.

On November 26, unidentified warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on oil tankers and facilities belonging to Turkish-backed militant groups north and northeast of Al-Bab, and near Jarabulus. On November 27, the Syrian army took responsibility for the attack and announced that it will take measures to put an end to oil smuggling from the eastern bank of the Euphrates to Turkey. Oil looted by US forces at the Syrian oil fields are being smuggled with help of the SDF/YPG leadership to Turkey through northern Aleppo and Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. It is unlikely that Damascus even with help from Iran and Russia will be able to kill this business in the near future. Nonetheless, efforts in this field could create some obstacles for the sides involved.

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مسؤولية الكبار

 ابراهيم الأمين

الجمعة 29 تشرين الثاني 2019

كلّ تفصيل إضافي نسمعه عن سلوك أهل السلطة في الملفّ الحكومي يؤكّد، مرة جديدة، أن هؤلاء ليسوا في وارد التنازل الجدّي، بل يفكّرون في شكليات يعتقدون بأنها تناسب ذوق الجمهور. البحث عن رئيس جديد للحكومة، أو عن وزراء، يجري على قاعدة الإبقاء على جوهر المقاربات والسياسات نفسها، مع البحث عن طريقة لاستهبال الناس والاعتقاد بأن تغييراً في أسماء وزراء والإتيان بحزبيين مقنّعين بدل آخرين مكشوفي الوجوه، من شأنه إقناع الشارع بوقف غضبه، علماً بأنه يمكن للسلطة أن تقول كلاماً واضحاً حول ضرورة التمثيل السياسي في أي حكومة، على أن تبحث في برنامج العمل وفي الأهداف، وهو ما لا يجري مطلقاً.

أكثر من ذلك، يبدو من النقاش أن القوى الرئيسية لا تزال تتصرّف على أن ما حصل في الشارع لا يُلزمها بتغييرات كبيرة. لذلك، يتردد في مداولات تشكيل الحكومة كلام عن تمسك التيار الوطني الحر بحقائب معينة، وحتى بوزراء حاليين. والحال نفسها بالنسبة إلى الرئيس نبيه بري والنائب السابق وليد جنبلاط، فيما تعتبر القوات اللبنانية أنها حققت نجاحات حيث انتشر وزراء التكنوقراط، وتريد مزيداً من هذا الصنف. أما حزب الله فلا يظهر حماسة للضرب على الطاولة وإلزام اللاعبين حوله بضرورة مغادرة هذه العقلية، بل يبدو مهتماً بتقليص مسافة الخلافات بين القوى المفترض بها تشكيل الحكومة ولو على حساب البرامج، علماً بأن الرئيس سعد الحريري الذي يعلن عزوفه عن ترؤس الحكومة الجديدة، يتصرف على أنه الرئيس الفعلي للحكومة ولو من خلف الستار، ويتشاطر في طرح أفكار على المرشحين الآخرين تمثل طموحاته، إلا إذا كان الحريري ــــ كما يعتقد البعض ــــ في حالة أسر، وسجيناً بقرار أميركي ــــ سعودي، لكن في بيروت لا في السعودية.

مطالب الحريري تتركز على سبل عدم إحداث أي تغيير. ففي توصياته للمرشحين أنه لا يمكن الموافقة على إقالة حاكم مصرف لبنان رياض سلامة أو قائد الجيش العماد جوزيف عون ومدير المخابرات العميد طوني منصور أو قيادة قوى الأمن الداخلي، ورؤساء بعض المؤسسات العامة مثل مجلس الإنماء والإعمار والميدل إيست وغيرها. فيما يشدّد في المقابل على ضرورة إبعاد ممثلي حزب الله والتيار الوطني الحر وحركة أمل عن وزارات أساسية، ولا ينسى تشجيع المرشحين لخلافته على انتزاع تعهّد بإجراء انتخابات نيابية مبكرة خلال ستة أشهر.

كل هذا ــــ وتفاصيل أخرى أكثر مأسوية تتعلّق بمقاربة الأزمة المالية والنقدية ــــ يدل بصورة مباشرة على أن من في السلطة ليس في وارد التغيير. فهذه السلطة لو كانت مهتمة أصلاً بمنع الانهيار، لكانت عدّلت في سياسات المحاصصة التي اعتمدتها منذ توقف الحرب الأهلية. وبالتالي، من المفترض باللبنانيين عموماً، وقوى الحراك الوطنية الساعية الى تغييرات جوهرية، لا الى احتلال مقاعد في السلطة، ألّا يراهنوا على تغييرات جوهرية مقبلة. ما يعني أن أي حكومة ستتشكّل لن تلبّي الحد الأدنى من الطموحات. لكن السؤال الذي سيطرح أمام الحراك هو: كيف نواصل الضغط من أجل التغيير الجدي؟ وكيف نجذب قوى اجتماعية وشعبية أكبر نحو الحراك لخلق نمو متين في جسم الحراك، لا البقاء في دائرة النفخ الجارية الآن؟
إذا كان كبار البلاد في السلطة على هذه الحال، فكيف يتصرف بقية «الكبار» من أهل البلاد، أي كبار السلطة المالية والنقدية بكل أركانها، وكبار المؤسسات الدينية الغنية، وكبار القوم من الأغنياء والمتمولين؟

التبسيط يساعد كثيراً في فهم الغاية من العمل المطلوب. والتبسيط يقول إن لبنان يواجه مشكلات كبيرة؛ أبرزها، اليوم، الملف المالي والنقدي. والمشكلة هنا أيضاً بسيطة لناحية التوصيف: هناك عجز مالي كبير في الموازنة العامة للدولة، وهناك دين كبير جداً على الدولة، ودين كبير على المواطنين للمصارف، وعجز كبير في الميزان التجاري، وعجز أكبر في ميزان المدفوعات. وهناك نقص في سيولة المصارف بالعملات الأجنبية، وشكوك حول قدرة القطاع المصرفي على ضمان ودائع المواطنين، وتراجع سريع في قيمة الليرة اللبنانية أمام الدولار الأميركي، ونقص تدريجي في قدرة الناس على الإنفاق العادي، وتراجع في القوة الشرائية لمداخيلهم، وهذا يؤدي الى تراجع في الاقتصاد وفي عمل القطاعات كافة، ويقود الى تقليص المداخيل وتراجع القدرة على توفير وظائف، ومن ثم إغلاق لمؤسسات وزيادة نسبة البطالة… الخ!

هذا أمر ليس بسيطاً على الإطلاق. لكن علاجه، في هذه اللحظة، يتطلب من كبار السلطة الموازية، المالية والاقتصادية والدينية، المبادرة الى تحمل المسؤولية. والمبادرة تستوجب منهم التنازل عن جزء مما جمعوه خلال ثلاثين سنة وأكثر من أموال وقدرات وأملاك بسبب سياسات الحكومات المتعاقبة. وهذا التنازل إما أن يحصل طوعاً، وإما أنه سيحصل عملياً بسبب الأزمة!

ببساطة أكبر، يجب أن يتخلى كبار المودعين، الذين نمت ودائعهم جراء السياسات النقدية وبرامج الفوائد، عن جزء حقيقي ووازن من هذه الثروات لتقليص حجم الدين العام على الدولة.
وببساطة أكبر، أيضاً، يجب إلزام كبار المالكين بدفع بدلات ضريبية على ما يملكون أو ما تملّكوه، سواء بفعل أعمال المضاربة العقارية أو بفعل تراكم الثروات غير الواضحة المصدر، من أجل تغذية الخزينة بما يقلّص قيمة العجز.

ببساطة أكبر، يجب على الشركات الكبيرة، مالية أو تجارية أو خلافه، أن تقلص حجم أرباحها بما يقلّص كلفة الاستهلاك العام على الناس، وبالتالي، على هذه الشركات أن تقبل بتعديلات جوهرية في طريقة عملها، وهو أمر سينعكس حكماً على واقع أصحابها ومالكيها،
ببساطة أكبر، يجب على المرجعيات والمؤسسات الدينية (أوقاف وخلافه) أن تدرك أن ما تملك باسم الله يجب أن يعود إلى الناس. وعودته الى الناس ليس وفق هوى هذه المرجعيات، حتى لو قررت أن تمنحه لرعاياها دون غيرهم. هذه المرجعيات تملك ثروة عقارية ومالية كبيرة، واستثمارات مالية وتجارية كبرى، وجيشاً من العاطلين عن العمل يجري تمويه توصيفهم بدور الراعي والمبشّر والمبلّغ. وإذا كان هناك من مدخل لتعديل الواقع الاجتماعي للناس، فإن لهذه المرجعيات دورها الأساسي الإلزامي، وهو أمر لا يتمّ من دون تعديلات في القوانين الراعية لعمل هذه المرجعيات التي تتصرّف عملياً على أنها فوق القانون وفوق المؤسسات والسلطات.

مطالب الحريري: الابقاء على سلامة وجوزيف عون ورؤساء الأجهزة والمؤسسات العامة التابعين له

ببساطة أكبر، يجب على السلطة، أيّ سلطة حكيمة، أن تبادر الى التعامل مع ملف الدَّين العام بطريقة مختلفة، وأن تبادر الى خطوات سلبية باتجاه دائنين، سواء كانوا أفراداً أو مؤسسات أو حكومات، تقوم على أساس وقف خدمة هذا الدين، والتفاوض لتقليص المتوجبات مهما كانت الكلفة، علماً بأن البعض يتحدث كثيراً عن مصادرة أملاك الدولة خارجياً وملاحقتها قضائياً داخلياً.

وببساطة أكبر، من المفيد تذكير أصحاب المصارف وكبار المساهمين، وحتى كبار المودعين الذين يتحوّلون مع الوقت الى مساهمين ولو من دون عضوية، المبادرة من تلقاء أنفسهم الى مساعدة الناس على تحمل كلفة الأزمة، وأن يتم شطب الكثير من الديون، وخصوصاً المتعلقة بالتعليم والسكن الصغير والطبابة والمشاريع الإنتاجية الصغيرة الحجم، وهو شطب يجب أن يفهم من قبل أصحاب المصارف وكبار المساهمين وكبار المودعين على أنه خطوة تضامنية عادلة، لا مقابل لها سوى استعادة الاستقرار العام ومنع الانهيار الذي سيصيب عائلات كثيرة لو ألزمت على سداد هذه الديون مع تراجع المداخيل وتراجع القدرة الشرائية لمداخيلهم.

نحن أمام مشكلات متنوعة، والكل يعرف أن من الواجب إعادة النظر في واقع القطاع العام. ولكن، كل آلية لـ«تطهير» القطاع العام ومؤسساته، من الفاسدين أو العاطلين، أو الذين وظّفتهم مرجعيات ولا يحترمون واجبهم في العمل، يجب أن تأخذ في الحسبان أن تعاظم جيش العاطلين عن العمل سيتحوّل عبئاً على البلد كله، وليس على فئة دون غيرها. لكن اللبنانيين، الذين يعانون من شراهة القطاع الخاص، لن يتعايشوا طويلاً مع كسل قسم من القطاع العام وغياب الجدوى منه.

مرة جديدة، الأزمة لن تحلّ بحكومة كالتي يجري العمل على تشكيلها، ولن تحل بفوضى الشعارات عند لصوص الحراك من جماعة أميركا والقوى السلطوية. الحلّ لن يكون من دون مشاركة الجميع في تحمل مسؤولية كبيرة وصعبة ستفرض سلوكاً جديداً على الناس، قد يدفعهم الى اكتئاب وإحباط، لكنه السلوك المتناسب مع واقعهم الحقيقي، وليس مع واقعهم الافتراضي.

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Occupied Palestine: The Most Enduring Media Cover-up

Global Research, November 28, 2019

Clearing the FOG hosts Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese interviewed Alison Weir, journalist and founder of If Americans Knew, a website that provides factual information about the Israeli State and Palestine. Weir describes how she learned firsthand that US media provide a false and one-sided narrative about Occupied Palestine and why she has dedicated the past twenty years to counter that. She also explains some of the most common myths and what she learned as she did research for her book, “Against Our Better Judgment.” Weir is a very clear thinker on the issue of Palestine-Israel and provides the data and language we need to speak to a propagandized population. You can listen to the entire interview and the week’s news analysis on Clearing the FOG.

Interview

Clearing the FOG (CtF): Alison, your website is a great source of information. Before we get into the site, why don’t you tell us about how you got involved in this issue.

Alison Weir (AW): People always wonder that because I don’t happen to be Jewish or Arab or Muslim or Palestinian and like most Americans 20 years ago, I knew very little about this issue. I had been active on other issues, anti-war during the Vietnam war, civil rights, that type of thing but I had never focused on Israel-Palestine until the Second Intifada began in the Fall of 2000. I’m sure you know intifada just means “Uprising,” a Palestinian Uprising. When that began, in Fall of 2000, I got curious about it.

My background is journalism. At that time, I was the editor of a very small weekly newspaper in Northern California. This wasn’t for my job, it was just my personal curiosity. I started to follow the news coverage on this uprising and I quickly noticed that it was very one-sided, that we were hearing from and about Israelis in great detail, but we got very little information from and about Palestinians.

I went on the internet and discovered a great deal of information from the region itself, from humanitarian agencies that were there, Israeli media in English, Palestinian media. And I discovered that Israeli forces were shooting Palestinians every day in large quantities, including many children and I noticed this reality was not being reported on the news sites that I usually looked at. The San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, especially NPR, seemed to be covering that up.

So the more I looked into it, the more I felt this was a truly significant cover-up. I felt and I do feel now that this was the longest-lasting and most enduring cover-up I had ever seen and that it was occurring across the political spectrum. After a few months of looking into that, I decided, it seemed so significant that I quit my job in Sausalito and traveled as a freelance reporter throughout Gaza and the West Bank. It was a very intense trip, I was not part of any delegation. There really weren’t any delegations at that time.

When I came back, I started the organization, If Americans Knew. The goal has been to be very factual, to show the sources of our information. It’s very transparent. It gives Americans without ideological slant the facts on Israel-Palestine and especially the American connection, the fact that we are in many ways responsible for what Israel does because our tax money goes to Israel. It’s now over 10 million dollars per day. We’ve given Israel far more than we’ve given anybody else.

Most Americans, I think, are the way I was. I felt I had no connection to this confusing issue on the other side of the world, but I learned I have a very direct connection to it and therefore it’s my responsibility to know about it and to act in ways that I feel are morally required. In a nutshell, that’s how I ended up 20 years later still working on this issue.

CtF: That was a very courageous thing to do. Of course, the US also provides cover for Israel in the United Nations or when the International Criminal Court wants to investigate Israel. How were you received by Palestinians when you went there to cover the Intifada?

AW: The perception was and is that you will be in great danger from Palestinians. But I discovered it was the opposite. I was welcomed. I was invited to stay in people’s homes, which I often did. People were very excited to learn that an American journalist was there. I told people I’m here to see what’s going on and people would smile at me in places like Gaza where there were really very few Americans at that time. I didn’t see any other journalists traveling around.

Crowds of people would come up to me and they wanted to show me their bullet-riddled homes and show me what was happening to them. So I found it then and on my other trips there since, people are very welcoming, very friendly. Often they’re very aware of how much money the US gives to Israel. Even though most Americans don’t know that, it is known in the region. Despite their knowledge of that and despite their knowledge of how the US has supported Israel in so many ways, they’re still very welcoming to Americans and very willing to not blame us for what our government is doing. So it’s really the opposite of what people have been led to believe it would be like.

CtF: We were just in Occupied Palestine recently and what you describe is very consistent with our experience as well. Your website focuses on correcting the misconceptions. What are some of the most important misconceptions that people in the United States have about the situation in Occupied Palestine?

AW: That’s at the heart of the problem because there are so many that it’s hard to make people realize it’s really as different as they expect. If there were only one or two, people can accept that. It’s harder for them to realize that almost everything they thought was true is not accurate. And that is what I am often telling them.

One of the main things is that we are directly related to the conflict. We give Israel massive amounts of money. This is per capita on average 7,000 times more than we give other people. One of the other things is that many people are unaware that Israel was established in my lifetime, that when I was born there was no Israel. There was a region called Palestine that had been there called Palestine for really millennia.

Many intelligent and knowledgeable people are not aware of what Israel Palestine is about, that basically Israel was established through warfare. It was not established by the United Nations, another misconception. It was established by a war of ethnic cleansing. That’s what we now term that type of war. It’s the title of an excellent book by an Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, so, the very foundation of Israel is very different than people realize.

This was an intentional dispossession of the indigenous population. It started with the beginning of the establishment of the modern state of Israel and continues through today. Constantly Israel is confiscating additional Palestinian land and taking it over for Jewish-only settlements, as they’re called. Many people are unaware that many Palestinians are Christians. This is where Christianity began. It’s rarely mentioned in the US media.

The other thing people are often unaware of these days is media coverage always focuses on “rockets from Gaza.” Every news report mentions rockets from Gaza. The fact is that I was there traveling around by myself as a reporter before any rockets had been fired and I saw already at that time in early 2001 extreme devastation. I saw neighborhoods in Gaza that were bullet-riddled, that looked like the pictures you see of World War II ruins. In the West Bank too shelling was going on. This was before any rockets had been fired.

People think Israel is defending itself from rockets, but the rockets were actually resistance groups in Gaza trying to fight back with really very ineffectual rockets. In the whole time they’ve been used, they’ve killed at most a few dozen Israelis. Meanwhile, Israeli forces have killed many thousands of Gazans. The only statistic we get in the typical news report is thousands of rockets have been fired from Gaza. They never tell that the total number of Israelis who have been killed is perhaps by now, maybe 50, perhaps not even that high and they never tell that during that time about 5,000 Gazans have been killed. We don’t hear about the massive bombardment of Gaza that’s been going on for a very long time and that has killed thousands of Gazans. And of course, killed many people in the West Bank also.

CtF: When we were there, we saw fighter planes flying over Jerusalem on their way to bomb Gaza. Over 30 Gazans were killed, including a family. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homes in the recent siege of Gaza. And these so-called rocket attacks, they’re like little pipsqueak rockets. These rockets were a response to an Israeli assassination in Gaza. It’s really amazing they use that as an excuse, but they do.

AW: They get away with it because the media only tell about the response and don’t tell about what came before. The American population is completely misled. Most of these are small homemade projectiles, but media will report them as missiles and people are imagining a Nike missile or something. That’s just not what’s going on.

There have been studies of the chronology of the violence in the conflict. There was one excellent study by an MIT professor who looked at periods of calm, at various truces through the years. Her study showed that it was something like 96% of the time in the shorter truces it was Israel that had first resumed violence against Palestinians and in the longer truces, it was 100% of the time that Israeli forces resumed the violence. This is just not known to the American public because it’s very filtered news coverage that people are getting.

Your point of hearing jets flying over to bomb Gaza is very significant. People don’t know that here we have one of the most powerful militaries on the planet, largely due to our tax money and often US weaponry, fighting against a population that has no Air Force, no Navy, no aircraft, no helicopter gunships. The disparity is astounding and the media try to call it a war. A war is between two military forces. That’s not what we have when we look at Gaza and Israeli forces.

CtF: It’s such an asymmetric situation. Palestinians have been forced from their homes, living in an apartheid state and have the right under international law to defend themselves. But the Palestinians we met with while we were there, activists, said we are nonviolent, we believe in using non-violence and talked about teaching their children not to hate other people, how giving in to that was destructive. One of the things that people push back in the United States is they say that there never really was a Palestine, that Palestinian nationality didn’t start until the 20th century. Can you comment on that?

AW: Yes. This is one of the Israeli talking points that many people have fallen for. You see this on Facebook and Twitter and various places. It’s a nonsensical argument. It’s true, there was not a state of Palestine. There was not a state of Israel. There was a region called Palestine. You can look at old maps.

Palestine was a region back in biblical times. It was talked about in more recent times. It was talked about in more recent centuries. It was under the Ottoman Empire. It was what we call multicultural. Around 1900, the population was about 80 percent Muslim, about 15 percent Christian and a little under five percent Jewish. This was a region. It was not a nation-state, as we know nation-states came relatively late to the world. Germany wasn’t a nation-state for many years. The United States did not used to be a nation-state. Palestine was a region. Palestinians have existed.

There was a book published some years ago by an Israel partisan who went by the name Joan Peters claiming the Palestinians did not exist, that they were just nomads that had come in because the Zionists’ wonderful entrepreneurial spirit had created jobs for these nomads to join them. This is the thesis of her book called “From Time Immemorial.” Many people read it. It was praised by pretty much every book review in the United States.

People like Barbara Tuchman, an Israel partisan, but known as a historian, praised it. It turned out to be a complete hoax.  Some very good historians and analysts including some Jewish Americans looked into the book and found out that these many footnotes were often fraudulent. They were actually coming from Zionist propaganda. In Israel itself, it was exposed as non-factual. In Britain, it was exposed as non-factual. In the United States, it eventually was, but I don’t think any of the people that gave it a positive review and that endorsed it then had the honesty or principle to retract their erroneous reviews.

Many people, especially many Jewish Americans, read that book and were taken in by it and then repeat the myth that there were no such thing as Palestinians. Even Golda Meir, the famous Israeli Prime Minister, said at one point that quote there were no Palestinians. That’s like Americans trying to say well there were no Native Americans here. Of course, there was.

CtF: Even in the country itself Israeli Jews seem oblivious to the reality in their own country. Home demolitions and the settlers putting settlements on Palestinian communities and on Palestinian lands. We drove on Jewish-only roads. If I Google “Jewish only roads,” I find an article about “Jewish only roads don’t exist.” One of the challenges we have in talking to people in the United States, and even in Israel, Occupied Palestine, is they don’t want to see reality. How do you communicate to people who just seem oblivious whether unintentionally or intentionally?

AW: Certainly, Israelis have been brought up to be just the way you’re describing. Nurit Peled, an academic, has done excellent work showing that Israeli textbooks are very propagandistic in the way that they depict Palestinians. They’re not even called Palestinians. They call them Israeli Arabs. So this is deeply embedded in many portions of the Israeli population.

Fortunately, there are many people in Israel that are dissenting from that and they’re trying to reach their fellow Israelis. There are Israelis Against Torture and Israelis Against Home Demolition. There are a number of Israeli groups within the society, a small fraction, but they’re doing really wonderful work in trying to expose what’s actually going on. There are some Israeli journalists, especially Gideon Levy, who write every week in the Israeli media about some of the latest atrocities being committed by Israel against Palestinians.

I would love to reach everybody. I’d love to reach every Israeli. I’d love to reach every American who’s taken in by Israeli talking points. What I focus on is the really fairly promising reality that about three-quarters of the American population, despite the pro-Israel media coverage that we’ve been getting for decades and despite Hollywood, really does not have a strong view on this issue. And general surveys will show that they say something like we shouldn’t take sides, which is sensible. If you don’t know much about an issue, you just don’t take sides.

That sounds like a fairly wimpy approach to those of us who know what’s going on there, but what that would mean if you don’t take sides is we would stop giving Israel 10 million dollars per day. We would stop vetoing UN resolutions to protect Israel from world condemnation of its violence. So it’s actually quite a good stand if we did what the majority of Americans already say we should do.

I try to focus on giving the general public the facts on this issue and the importance of making their wishes known to their elected representatives that it’s time to stop this massive aid to Israel. It prevents peace. Israeli militarists think they have a blank check from the most powerful nation on the planet, which they do right now. So my view is we give voters factual information on this. We show how extremely tragic the situation is because of what we’re funding and the fact that it hurts us as well and emphasize how important it is to tell our elected representatives that we want them to change these misguided destructive US policies of a blank check to Israel.

It’s time for us to vote and to work on the issue of Israel Palestine. Not only because of what it’s doing to Palestinians, not only because of what it then does to the US but because our support of Israel has led to our wars in the region. It has led to much of the violence in the region that has since spilled over elsewhere. It’s the core issue of the Middle East and it’s the time for us to focus on it and to address it.

CtF: I want to ask you about a topic that you’ve been writing about recently. And that is the criticism that people who question or criticize the Israeli state are anti-semitic. Can you talk about that?

AW: Yes, that’s used all the time and most of us are profoundly opposed to bigotry of all kinds. We don’t want to be splattered with such mudslinging. We don’t want to be called anti-Semitic. We don’t want to be anti-Semitic and we’re not being anti-Semitic when we speak out for justice as a principal, but that’s the attack that they try to use.

A member of the Israeli Parliament some years ago on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now said, and I’m paraphrasing, she said this is a trick. We always use it when somebody is critical of Israel, we call them anti-Semitic and that is exactly what going on. Nobody should be anti-Semitic. Nobody should be against any population, should be hostile and prejudiced against people. Bigotry is wrong. So that’s what they try to use.

What’s gotten worse is that not only do they try to claim somebody’s anti-Semitic when we’re talking about a nation-state and talking about injustice and trying to support principles of justice for all people, there is an effort to change the definition of anti-Semitism to include criticisms of Israel. This is extremely insidious.

It’s been going on for a number of years. There’s a new formulation in which certain criticisms of Israel, factual statements about Israel, will now be defined as anti-Semitism. Therefore it will be defined as hate speech, etc. This effort was begun by an Israeli Minister named Natan Sharansky. It has now been embedded in the US State Department and it’s being embedded elsewhere around the world. We need to learn about that and we need to oppose it. We need to stick with the traditional definition of anti-Semitism and we should oppose all anti-Semitism just as we oppose all racism, but we should not allow that incorrect epithet to be used to silence us or to prevent us from working for justice and human rights for all people including Palestinians.

CtF: One of the people we visited with when we were recently in Occupied Palestine was Rabbi Hirsh, who is with an ultra-orthodox Jew, and he makes a very strong case that Zionism is inconsistent with Judaism, that it violates the Torah. That makes the state of Israel really under his religious analysis to be against Judaism. A growing group of Jews in the United States is getting active in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. A number of Jewish groups are actually beginning to criticize Zionism and Israel. It’s really is an absurd claim that people who criticize Israel or Zionism are anti-Semitic. It just shows the weakness of their arguments.

AW: It does and I’m glad you brought that up because when Zionism, political Zionism, began with Theodore Herzl and some conferences in Switzerland in the late 1800s, the majority of Jews around the world did not join that movement. They said we’re Americans, we’re British etcetera. Even a Jewish population in Palestine was opposed to it, especially observant Jews were opposed to it and considered it a heretical move. There are many Jews who for religious reasons oppose Zionism saying this is against the Bible. It’s against God’s will. That’s part of what people don’t know. And in my book, in the research I did, it was very interesting to see how Zionists were very upset that Jewish-Americans were not embracing Zionism in the early years. In fact, for a number of decades, there were groups such as the American Council on Judaism that actively and strenuously opposed Zionism.

CTF: Finally, how can people learn more about the work that you do?

AW: The first thing would be to go to our website: IfAmericansKnew.org. From there, you will also go to our blog, the If Americans Knew blog. Between those two resources, I believe there’s a lot of information that will be useful to people. My book is available on Amazon. The short title is “Against Our Better Judgment.” It can be read very quickly. It’s one of the selling points and it’s thoroughly cited. It turned out that the book is half citations. So every statement in it, you can find the source for that statement. It contains a great deal of information that many people, even experts on the issue, did not know about before because when I started researching it, I was starting from scratch. I read a huge number of books. We’re also working to encourage people to join the effort to work within their congressional district to inform the people in your community about what’s going on. You can email us at contact@IfAmericansKnew.org and help get this information off the internet and into the hands of people in your community. We also have a very active Facebook page, If Americans Knew Facebook page, where we post things every day. I especially encourage people to join our email list. We should not rely on Facebook for our communication. That is a private company and they could turn it off whenever they want to so, please join our email list also.

CtF: If you haven’t visited If Americans Knew, it’s a very deep website. If you ever want to understand a particular aspect of Israel or Occupied Palestine, you’ll find a lot of the facts right there. If you’re ever writing about it, debating it, trying to understand and discuss it with others, it’s a very fact-based and deep web site that serves a very useful purpose for engaging on this issue.

AW: We’ve certainly tried and the websites been live about 15 or 16 years. There’s really a depth of content there. We’re trying to upgrade it to a more modern look but there’s so much content, we just haven’t been able to do that yet. So it’s an old-school look but the content is there for people to find and it’s all sourced. We try to make sure that our material is factual and show people that that’s the case.

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Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese co-direct Popular Resistance where this article was originally published.

Featured image is PressTV

The UK Chief Rabbi and the Rest of the Nation – Gilad Atzmon on Richie Allen Show

 

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The UK’s chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has claimed “a new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root” in the Labour party. In an astonishing personal attack in the Times, the Rabbi said that Jeremy Corbyn was unfit to lead the country. Jazz artist, author and geopolitical analyst Gilad Atzmon joins Richie Allen to discuss the above (21 min, 18 sec).

My battle for truth and freedom involves some expensive legal and security services. I hope that you will consider committing to a monthly donation in whatever amount you can give. Regular contributions will enable me to avoid being pushed against a wall and to stay on top of the endless harassment by Zionist operators attempting to silence me and others.

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Yemeni Army Downs Hostile Helicopter off Asir, Killing its Crew

Source

Air Defenses of the Army and Popular Committees downed on Friday morning a hostile Apache helicopter, run by the US-Saudi aggression, across from Asir.

“Yemeni air defenses have been able, thanks to God, to shoot down a Saudi Apache aircraft with a new surface-to-air missile, which we will reveal later,” Armed forces spokesman Brigadier-General Yahya Sare’e said in a brief statement.

He explained that the helicopter was shot down this morning in Majaza area across from Asir while carrying out hostilities. “it completely burned and the crew of two Saudis were killed,” he added.

“The operation is documented by sound and image lens of the Military Media Documentation Unit.”

“Yemeni Armed Forces confirm that approaching the airspace of Yemen is prohibited and will not be a place for a picnic for anyone and that it will address all attempts by enemies until it reaches full protection of Yemeni airspace,” he added.

The shootings come three months after the Yemeni Armed Forces unveiled two types of air defense systems, Fater1 and Thaqib1, which entered the battle in 2017 and managed to confront warplanes of aggression.

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EDITORIAL Henry Kissinger Gets It… US ‘Exceptionalism’ Is Over

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November 29, 2019

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made prudent remarks recently when he said the United States is no longer a uni-power and that it must recognize the reality of China as an equal rival.

The furor over a new law passed by the US this week regarding Hong Kong and undermining Beijing’s authority underlines Kissinger’s warning.

If the US cannot find some modus vivendi with China, then the outcome could be a catastrophic conflict worst than any previous world war, he admonished.

Speaking publicly in New York on November 14, the veteran diplomat urged the US and China to resolve their ongoing economic tensions cooperatively and mutually, adding: “It is no longer possible to think that one side can dominate the other.”

A key remark made by Kissinger was the following: “So those countries that used to be exceptional and used to be unique, have to get used to the fact that they have a rival.”

In other words, he is negating the erroneous consensus held in Washington which asserts that the US is somehow “exceptional”, a “uni-power” and the “indispensable nation”. This consensus has grown since the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the US viewed itself as the sole super-power. That morphed into a more virulent ideology of “full-spectrum dominance”. Thence, the past three decades of unrelenting US criminal wars and regime-change operations across the planet, throwing the whole world into chaos.

Kissinger’s frank assessment is a breath of fresh air amid the stale and impossibly arrogant self-regard held by too many American politicians who view their nation as an unparalleled power which brooks no other.

The seasoned statesman, who is 96-years-old and retains an admirable acumen for international politics, ended his remarks on an optimistic note by saying: “I am confident the leaders on both sides [US and China] will realize the future of the world depends on the two sides working out solutions and managing the inevitable difficulties.”

Aptly, Kissinger’s caution about danger of conflict was reiterated separately by veteran journalist John Pilger, who warned in an exclusive interview for Strategic Culture Foundation this week that, presumed “American exceptionalism is driving the world to war.”

Henry Kissinger is indeed a controversial figure. Many US scholars regard him as one of the most outstanding Secretaries of State during the post-Second World War period. He served in the Nixon and Ford administrations during the 1970s and went on to write tomes about geopolitics and international relations. Against that, his reputation was badly tarnished by the US war in Vietnam and the horrendous civilian death toll from relentless aerial bombing across Indochina, believed to have been countenanced by Kissinger.

Kissinger has also been accused of supporting the military coup in Chile in 1973 against elected President Allende, and for backing the dirty war by Argentina’s fascist generals during the 1970s against workers and leftists.

To his credit, however, Kissinger was and is a practitioner of “realpolitik” which views international relations through a pragmatic lens. Another realpolitik US state planner was the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, who died in 2017 at the age of 89. Both advocated a policy of detente with the Soviet Union and China.

President Richard Nixon’s groundbreaking visit to China in 1972 is credited to the advice given by Kissinger who was then National Security Advisor to the White House.

That same year, the US and the Soviet Union signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, also under the guidance of Kissinger on the American side. The US would later withdrew from the treaty in 2002, a move which has presaged a long deterioration in bilateral relations between the US and Russia to the present day.

For all their faults, at least people like Kissinger and Brzezinski were motivated by practical goal-orientated policy. They were willing to engage with adversaries to find some modus vivendi. Such an attitude is too often missing in recent Washington administrations which seem to be guided by an ideology of unipolar dominance by the US over the rest of the world. The current Washington consensus is one of hyper-ideological unrealism and hubris, which leads to a zero-sum mentality of antagonism towards China and Russia.

At times, President Donald Trump appears to subscribe to realpolitik pragmatism. At other times, he swings to the hyper-ideological mentality as expressed by his Vice President Mike Pence, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mike Esper. The latter has labeled China as the US’s “greatest long-term threat”.

This week President Trump signed into law “The Human Rights and Democracy Bill”, which will impose sanctions on China over alleged repression in its Hong Kong territory. Beijing has reacted furiously to the legislation, condemning it as a violation of its sovereignty.

This is exactly the kind of baleful move that Kissinger warned against in order to avoid a further poisoning in bilateral relations already tense from the past 16 months of US-China trade war.

One discerns the difference between Kissinger and more recent US politicians: the former has copious historical knowledge and appreciation of other cultures. His shrewd, wily, maybe even Machiavellian streak, informs Kissinger to acknowledge and respect other powers in a complex world. That is contrasted with the puritanical banality and ignorance manifest in Trump’s administration and in the Congress.

Greeting Kissinger last Friday, November 22, during a visit to Beijing, President Xi Jinping thanked him for his historic contribution in normalizing US-China relations during 1970s.

“At present, Sino-US relations are at a critical juncture facing some difficulties and challenges,” said Xi, calling on the two countries to deepen communication on strategic issues. It was an echo of the realpolitik views Kissinger had enunciated the week before.

While sharing a public stage with Kissinger, the Chinese leader added: “The two sides should proceed from the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the people of the world, respect each other, seek common ground while reserving differences, pursue win-win results in cooperation, and promote bilateral ties to develop in the right direction.”

Likewise, China and Russia have continually urged for a multipolar world order for cooperation and partnership in development. But the present and recent US governments refuse to contemplate any other order other than a presumed unipolar dominance. Hence the ongoing US trade strife with China and Washington’s relentless demonization of Russia.

This “exceptional” ideological mantra of the US is leading to more tensions, and ultimately is a path to the abyss.

Henry Kissinger gets it. It’s a pity America’s present crop of politicians and thinkers are so impoverished in their intellect.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Bolivia Says It Plans to Renew Diplomatic Ties with Israel

New interim government in La Paz has made major foreign policy changes since former president Evo Morales was ousted

Global Research, November 29, 2019
Middle East Eye 28 November 2019

Bolivia announced that it will restore diplomatic ties with Israel, two days after the South American country’s new interim government appointed its first ambassador to the United States since 2008. 

The new government’s foreign policy shake-up comes after former president Evo Morales was ousted on 10 November.

Speaking to international media on Thursday, Foreign Minister Karen Longaric said Bolivia plans “to restore relations with Israel”, Haaretz newspaper reported.

Morales cut diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv in 2009 over Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed at least 1,383 Palestinians, including 333 children.

At the time, Morales said he would ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring genocide charges against top Israeli officials.

Following his resignation last month under pressure from the military following his contested re-election, Morales has taken exile in Mexico.

On Thursday, Longaric said she planned to re-establish diplomatic ties with Israel “out of respect for the sovereignty of the state”, Haaretz reported.

She said she hoped “that relations could lead to positive aspects for both sides and contribute to Bolivian tourism”.

Israel’s foreign ministry welcomed the move.

“This will contribute to the strengthening of the State of Israel’s foreign relations and its standing in the world,” Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz said in a statement.

“The departure of President Morales, who was hostile to Israel, and his replacement by a government friendly to Israel, allows the fruition of the process.”

Bolivia’s foreign policy change comes after the country’s self-appointed interim president, Jeanine Anez, was accused of cracking down on human rights in the country.

Last week, Human Rights Watch said Anez’s government had adopted “alarming measures that run counter to fundamental human rights standards”. More than 30 have died in protests against the new government.

Several countries in Central and South America have adopted more pro-Israel positions in recent years, as well, putting them in line with US President Donald Trump‘s policies.

In August, Honduras recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said it intended to open a diplomatic office there.

In May 2018, Guatemala opened a new embassy in Jerusalem, just two days after the American embassy was inaugurated in the holy city, a widely criticised move that infuriated Palestinians.

The Trump administration, which has taken a staunchly pro-Israel line, recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in December 2017 and urged other countries to do the same.

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Featured image: Jeanine Anez receiving the presidential sash from a representative of the Bolivian military (photo: EFE).

فؤاد السنيورة متّهَماً: أين الـ3 مليارات دولار؟

فؤاد السنيورة متّهَماً: أين الـ3 مليارات دولار؟

كان السنيورة يتحكّم بكل الهبات بدلاً من اعتبارها إيرادات للخزينة (هيثم الموسوي)

رضوان مرتضى

الجمعة 29 تشرين الثاني 2019

مزاريبُ الهدر والسرقة كثيرة في لبنان، إلّا أنّ أعظمها فساداً ثلاثة: إدارةُ خدمة ديون الدولة اللبنانية، تلزيم الصفقات لمتعهّدي الدولة المعروفين وإدارة الحسابات المالية في وزارة المالية. بالمليارات، قد يكون الهدر الناتج عن الملف الأخير هو الأقل نسبة، إلا أنّ الثابت أنّه أضاع على خزينة الدولة اللبنانية أموالاً طائلة، ومنها ثلاثة مليارات دولار على الأقل هبات لم تدخل إلى الخزينة. في هذا الملف، يحضر بقوّة اسم فؤاد السنيورة، رئيس الحكومة ووزير المالية الأسبق

اختفت ثلاثة مليارات ومئة مليون دولار من «جَيب» الدولة اللبنانية. هذه المليارات الثلاثة التي وصلت على شكل هبات، كانت قد مُنِحت للدولة اللبنانية بين عامي 2005 و2007. ومن ضمنها، كانت مساعدات «حرب تموز» التي تُعادل ثُلث المبلغ تقريباً. غير أنّ ما أثار الشبهة أنّ هذه المبالغ وُضِعت في حسابٍ خاص، مستقل عن حساب خزينة الدولة، يُحرَّك حصراً بقرار من رئيس الحكومة، عوضاً من وضعها في خزينة الدولة. أما الذريعة التي بُررت فيها هذه «الفِعلة» فهي «رغبة الواهب».

لم يكتف رئيس الحكومة الأسبق فؤاد السنيورة بذلك، بل لم يسمح لأحد بأن يطّلع على كيفية صرف هذه المبالغ. حتى المدراء المعنيون في وزارة المالية لم يُسمح لهم بالاطّلاع على كيفية صرف أموال الهبات. وبناءً على ذلك، وتبعاً للشبهات التي أُثيرت بشأن مصير المليارات الثلاثة، تقدّم النائب حسن فضل الله بإخبار لدى النائب العام المالي القاضي علي ابراهيم الذي رغم أنّه بدأ بتحقيقاته القضائية منذ تسعة أشهر، إلا أنّه لم يتوصّل إلى أي نتيجة تُذكر بعد. ولم يُعرف إذا كان القاضي ابراهيم قد طلب أصلاً من مصرف لبنان رفع السرية المصرفية عن حساب الهيئة العليا للإغاثة لكشف مسار الأموال ومصيرها. طريقة صرف تلك الأموال لم تثر الشبهة محلياً فقط. حتى السعودية أرسلت في الأعوام التي تلت موفداً لمعرفة مصير 500 مليون دولار كانت قد تبرّعت بها، ووجهة صرفها.

المدير العام لوزارة المالية، ألان بيفاني، وضع تقريراً مفصّلاً من نحو 300 صفحة، مدعّماً بآلاف الصفحات من المستندات، يخلُص فيها، في ملف الهبات، إلى وجود 3 مليارات و100 مليون دولار لم يُعرف مصيرها لكونها لم تدخل حسب الأصول إلى حسابات المالية العامة. وبحسب المتابعين لهذا الملف، رغم مرور 12 عاماً على تسلّم الهبات، لم يُعرف كيف صُرفت هذه الأموال أو أين ذهبت أو من استفاد منها، وسط تداول معلومات عن صرف جزء منها لغير المستحقّين عبر دفعها على هيئة مال سياسي خلال الانتخابات النيابية. في هذا الملف، اطّلعت «الأخبار» على مستندات جديدة على شكل تقارير مرفوعة إلى وزير المال أحيلت على القضاء، تبيّن حجم الهبات التي قبِلتها الحكومة اللبنانية آنذاك. ففي أحد المستندات، يُذكر أنه قد تبين أنّ «الواردات الإضافية المقدّرة من الهبات بلغت ٢٨١،٤٣٣،٨٦٠ ليرة لبنانية، علماً أنّ المحصّل منها يبلغ ١٥،٠٧٥،٠٠٠ ليرة لبنانية. غير أنّ كاتب التقرير يُشير في المستند المذكور إلى أنّ «التدقيق في المستنذات ذات الصلة بالهبات أظهر بأنّ الهبات التي قُبلت بمراسيم أو قرارات صادرة عن مجلس الوزراء بلغت قيمتها ١٢٧،١٨٢،٥٦٧،١٠٦ ليرة لبنانية، وذلك وفقاً لكتاب رئيس المحاسبة في وزارة المحاسبة المالية خليل يوسف المسجّل في تشرين الأول عام ٢٠٠٩. هذا يُظهر حجم التلاعب أو ما يمكن أن يُصطلح على تسميته بالفوضى المنظّمة لتضييع حقيقة حجم الهبات التي لم تُدوّن على أنّها واردات إلى الخزينة العامة.

كذلك تُشير المستندات إلى أنّ الهبات المحقّقة لا تتضمن قيمة الهبات النقدية التي تمّ قبولها فعلياً بموجب مراسيم أو قرارات صادرة عن مجلس الوزراء، إذ «لم تقم مديرية الخزينة بإيداعنا بيانات الواردات المحققة وتحصيلاتها». ويظهر من المستند أنّ هذا الملف أثير مراراً خلال الاجتماعات التي كانت تُعقد في مديرية المالية العامة، فضلاً عن أنّه قد أُرسلت عدة طلبات متكررة بشأن الإفادة عن مصير الهبات النقدية التالية: ٤٥٠،٩٣٣،٨٦٠ ليرة لبنانية وهبة بقيمة ٧١،١٥٤،٠٥١ يورو، وهبة بقيمة ٦،٧٩٣،٨١٤ ملايين دولار أميركي، وهبة بقيمة٤٠،٠٠٠،٠٠٠ يوان صيني.

هل تُرفَع السريّة المصرفية عن حسابات الهيئة العليا للإغاثة؟

الخطير في المسألة أنّ التقاير التي أُنجزت بشأن المخالفات المتعلّقة بكيفية صرف أموال الهبات سرّاً تخلُص إلى أنّ الهبات صُرفت ودُفعت خارج إطار القانون ودون أي إمكانية لإجراء الرقابة عليها، لافتة إلى أنّ مجلس الوزراء استمرّ في اعتماد هذا النهج المخالف للقانون، بذريعة أنّ الجهة المانحة تُريد ذلك. وإذ ينطلق أحد التقارير من فرضية الرضوخ لشروط الجهة المانحة، فإنه يخلص إلى أنّ هذه الشروط لا تبرّر عدم قيد أموال هذه الهبات في الواردات والنفقات. ولهذه الغاية جرى اقتراح مشروع تعميم صدر عن رئيس مجلس الوزراء عام ٢٠١١ يفرض التقيّد بأحكام القانون لجهة قيد الهبات كإيرادات. وقد اعتُمد ذلك بموافقة الجهات المانحة.

وفي الختام، واستناداً إلى المواد ٥١ و٥٢و ٥٣ من قانون المحاسبة العمومية والمادتين ٢٤٢ و٢٤٣ معدّلة وفقاً للقانون ٦٦/٥٥، يتبين أنّه كان يجب أن تسجّل وزارة المالية القيود في وارداتها. وفي حال كانت الهبة محصورة لنفقة معيّنة، وجب ذكر تنسيبها كإيراد ونفقة في مرسوم القبول. كما يُشار في التقرير إلى أنّ مجلس الوزراء أصدر القليل من المراسيم والقرارات التي تتعلّق بقبول الهبات النقدية مع تحديد التنسيب للواردات والنفقات، لكن وزارة المالية أوردت قيم هذه الهبات في خانة التحقّقات، إلا أنّها أغفلت قيدها في خانة التحصيل، علماً أنّه تمّ صرفها خلال تنفيذ الموازنة على التناسيب المقرّرة لها. أما مئات المراسيم والقرارات التي صدرت من دون تنسيب، فقد أدت إلى إغفال قيود جميع الهبات النقدية العائدة إليها، فكيف يُدقق بعد ذلك بطريقة صرفها؟ لا سيما أنّه بعد مراجعة حساب الصندوق ومصرف لبنان لدى مديرية الخزينة، تبين أنّه لا توجد قيود لهذه الواردات المحصّلة، بحسب إفادة مديرية المحاسبة العامة. أما في مسألة فتح حساب خاص للهبة مستقل عن حساب الخزينة، فالسرية المصرفية كفيلة بإخفاء كيفية صرف الهبة.

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