By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

29 APRIL 2020

The successful opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan lays the basis for expanding this trade network to Central Asia and Russia via N-CPEC+, which sets a positive example for how BRI-led regionalization can rejuvenate globalization after the coronavirus is finally defeated.

The speculative talk about the coronavirus supposedly signaling the impending end of globalization was thrown into doubt last week after Gwadar Port was opened to Afghanistan. That facility is the terminal point of the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will be used to facilitate trade with the South Asian state’s landlocked neighbor, according to the announcement by Abdul Razak Dawood, the adviser for commerce and investment to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He also said that “16,000 MT of diamonium phosphate and World Food Programme cargo of 500,000 MT of wheat for Afghanistan will arrive next month” and that “Ships from China will also offload at Gwadar.” This development is remarkable in more ways than one and thus deserves to be analyzed a bit more in depth in order for the reader to better understand its grand strategic significance in the context of contemporary geopolitics.

First off, it’s especially important that war-torn Afghanistan will receive much-needed aid through this port. Those supplies will help its people better survive the hardships that they’ve been experiencing for decades already, and they come at a crucial time when the country is struggling to counter COVID-19. Not only could Gwadar become a humanitarian lifeline for Afghanistan, but also an economic one too since it opens up its trade to the rest of the world and can therefore help it rebuild after the war finally ends.

The very fact that CPEC is expanding along the northern vector suggests that a branch corridor prospectively called N-CPEC+ could enter into fruition in the future if the project expands into the Central Asian Republics and even further afield to Russia, thus creating a new North-South connectivity corridor in the Eurasian Heartland. Even in the event that the aforementioned scenario doesn’t unfold right way, it’s still noteworthy that BRI’s flagship project is strengthening regionalization between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This objective observation powerfully refutes the rumors that globalization is destined to die due to the consequences of the world’s uncoordinated lockdowns in response to COVID-19. There will always be a need for countries to import whatever they can’t make at home and export the wares that they produce abroad, which in the Afghan context refers to agricultural imports and prospective mineral exports via CPEC. The present lockdowns will inevitably end, after which globalization will resume, bolstered by regionalization.

Regionalization and globalization are two sides of the same coin since they both involve international trade, albeit to differing geographic extents made obvious by their names. There’s some credence to the claims that regionalization will benefit more in the short term than globalization, though the success of regionalization would strengthen globalization through the creation of more consolidated economic spaces. In the present example, CPEC brings China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan closer together, thus boosting trade between all three.

The successful opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan lays the basis for expanding this trade network to Central Asia and Russia via N-CPEC+, as was earlier explained, which sets a positive example for how BRI-led regionalization can rejuvenate globalization after the coronavirus is finally defeated. Both interconnected trends are pivotal to the world’s economic recovery, and seeing as how they’re being championed by China, it can be said that the People’s Republic is taking the leading role in helping humanity return back to normal.

With all of this in mind, while casual observers might have dismissed the opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan as an unimportant event compared to everything else going on in the world nowadays (if they were even aware of it in the first place, that is), it’s actually one of the most significant non-health-related developments of the year. China showed that its desire to create a Community of Common Destiny through BRI hasn’t slowed down as a result of the virus, which speaks to its commitment to carry through with this noble vision no matter what.

Russia Threatens Massive Response if US Deploys Low-Yield Nukes on Subs

Russia Threatens Massive Response if US Deploys Low-Yield Nukes on Subs

By staff, Agencies

Russia is warning that any US attempt to use a low-yield nuclear weapon against a Russian target would set off a massive nuclear response.

The Russian foreign ministry was reacting to a State Department paper released last week that says placing low-yield nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles launched from submarines would counter what it sees as possible new threats from both Russia and China.

Experts describe a low-yield weapon as the kind the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

The US State Department asserts that the low-yield weapons “reduce the risk of nuclear war by reinforcing extended deterrence and assurance.”

It alleges Russia is considering using such nonstrategic nuclear arms in a limited war. 

Russia denies it is a threat to the US and accuses Washington of “lowering the nuclear threshold.”

“Any attack involving a US submarine-launched ballistic missile [SLBM], regardless of its weapon specifications, would be perceived as a nuclear aggression,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday. “Those who like to theorize about the flexibility of American nuclear potential must understand that in line with the Russian military doctrine such actions are seen as warranting retaliatory use of nuclear weapons by Russia.”

Russia says it wants to extend the 2010 New START treaty limiting the number of deployed nuclear missiles, warheads, and bombers along with strict inspection regimes. The pact is set to expire next year.

The Trump administration says it wants a new arms control agreement that also includes China — which Russia calls impractical.

OPCW’s Own Scientists Say OPCW Is Now Just a U.S.-Propaganda Agency

OPCW’s Own Scientists Say OPCW Is Now Just a U.S.-Propaganda Agency

April 29, 2020

by Eric Zuesse for the Saker Blog

The formerly respected global authority on whether or not a chemical-weapons attack has occurred, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, has now so continuously ignored its own hired expert investigators, so that in an April 28th news-report, at “The Gray Zone” investigative-news site, anonymous “OPCW Insiders” have issued a public statement saying that:

A number of impartial and principled professionals no longer wish to be associated with the politically motivated reports being issued by the OPCW FFM  [Fact-Finding Mission] and now the IIT [Investigation and Identification Team]. Many consider this work and these reports to be procedurally and scientifically flawed. Some of us believe they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all.

The recent publication of the IIT report into alleged chemical attacks at Ltamenah [in Syria — a country whose non-sectarian Government the U.S. regime has been trying since 2009 to overthrow and replace by a fundamentalist-Sunni government that would be controlled by the Saudson March 24, 25 and 30 2017, has highlighted again the misuse of the OPCW by influential state parties to further their political and foreign affairs objectives.

The news-reports that are listed below provide the essential background to this, indicating that the “influential state parties” which are being referred-to are the U.S. and its allied regimes (such as UK).

If the quoted statement is, in fact, a leak by “OPCW Insiders,” as “The Gray Zone” alleges, then it’s yet another nail in the coffin of the OPCW’s international credibility. Coming after a lengthy string of such OPCW scandals as are documented in the below-listed articles, all international funding organizations will then cancel their commitments to OPCW, except for organizations that represent the U.S. regime; and, then, the only international organizations that will continue to publicize the ‘findings’ from the OPCW will be organizations that themselves are agencies of the U.S. regime.

In that case, of course, no national delegations to the United Nations, except ones that represent regimes which themselves likewise front for (are vassals of) the U.S. regime, will continue to cite OPCW ‘findings’, in any other way than to deny the credibility of OPCW reports.

The background on all of this, including an explanation of what the main objectives of the U.S. regime are in Syria — what the purposes of this OPCW propaganda against Syria’s Government are — is provided here.

And, now, following, are the news-reports that describe the events building up to the “OPCW Insiders” statement, that “Some of us believe they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all” (these events will be listed starting with the latest, and working backwards in time, to the earliest):

“As an employee of the OPCW I was horrified” 12 March 2020

“Deluge Of New Leaks Further Shreds The Establishment Syria Narrative” 15 December 2019

“Fresh Evidence that UN Watchdog Suppressed Evidence Casting Doubt on Assad Gas Attack” 15 December 2019

“New WikiLeaks Bombshell: 20 Inspectors Dissent From Syria Chemical Attack Narrative” 14 December 2019

“Newsweek reporter resigns after accusing outlet of SUPPRESSING story about OPCW leak that undermines Syria ‘gas attack’ narrative” 8 December 2019

“Second whistleblower exposes cover-up at OPCW & Syria chemical weapons report (Video)” 16 November 2019

“SUPPRESSED OPCW FINDING: War-Crime Likely Perpetrated by U.S. Against Syria on 14 April 2018 (Update)” 19 May 2019

“A memo from a member of the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Douma to the OPCW Director General Fernando Arais” 14 March 2019

“Douma Videos and Photos” 24 April 2018

“Did Al Qaeda Dupe Trump on Syrian Attack?” 9 November 2017

“The Trumped-Up Syria-Sarin Case” 4 November 2017

“UN On Khan Sheikhoun – Victims Hospitalized BEFORE Claimed Incident Happened” 29 October 2017

“The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels” 17 April 2014

“Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013” 14 January 2014


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Al-Jaafari urges Security Council to adopt deterrent action against the countries supporting terrorism in Syria


Wednesday, 29 April 2020 19:30

NEW YORK’ (ST )-Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari has urged the Security Council to adopt deterrent action against the countries that have been supporting terrorism in Syria and called for backing the Syrian state’s counterterrorism efforts in order to complete the process of restoring security and stability in the country and achieving a Syrian-led political solution.

Al-Jaafari, who was speaking during a UN Security Council session on the situation in Syria via video, said that besides not abiding by its obligations pursuant to Astana and Sochi agreements and supporting the terrorist organizations, the Turkish regime tries to enhance its illegal presence on Syrian territories through sending reinforcements and convoys carrying weapons and heavy military equipment on a daily basis to its occupying forces and to the terrorists.

He referred to the Turkish Defense Minister’s infiltration into Idleb province to hold meetings with leaders of the terrorist groups in an attempt to continue investing in terrorism. 

 In a flagrant violation of international laws, the Turkish regime has deployed Turkish air defense systems in Idleb and supplied its occupying forces with US Hawk anti-aircraft missiles, al-Jaafari went on to say, warning of the threat that may result if the Turkish air defense means fall into the hands of terrorist organizations in Idleb.

Al-Jaafari pointed out that the terrorist organizations took advantage of the period of calm following  the Moscow agreement and the world’s preoccupation with efforts to confront the Corona epidemic, to reorganize its forces with the support of the American and Turkish occupation troops. He pointed out that Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization announced mid-this month that it has reorganized its ranks and formed three new brigades in preparation for  the coming confrontations in the northwest of Syria.

He also said that the Turkish regime is currently expanding its sponsorship of terrorism by openly recruiting foreign and Syrian terrorists and sending them to Libya, pointing out that the regime has transported thousands of terrorists by Turkish planes to Libya. He noted that this Turkish behavior poses a serious threat to the security of Europe and the world.

The senior Syrian diplomat affirmed Syria’s adherence to its sovereignty and territorial integrity, reiterating the country’s determination to liberate its territories from occupation be it the American, the Turkish, or the Israeli occupation or the terrorist organizations.

He reiterated that the presence of any foreign troops on Syrian territories without the permission of the Syrian government is considered as an aggression and occupation and that Syria will deal with this presence in accordance with its national constitution.

Hamda Mustafa

Deadly Afrin Explosion: Fratricide or NATO False Flag?

Rouhani to US: Our Waterway Is Not ‘New York or Washington’ Gulf

Rouhani to US: Our Waterway Is Not ‘New York or Washington’ Gulf

By Staff, Agencies

In light of Washington’s incessant acts of military adventurism in the Gulf region, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has once again reminded the United States to whom the waterway truly belongs.

“The Americans should know that this waterway is called ‘the Persian Gulf.’ It is not called ‘the New York Gulf’ or ‘the Washington Gulf,’” Rouhani told a cabinet session in Tehran on Wednesday, in remarks on the occasion of the National Persian Gulf Day.

“They should understand the circumstances [surrounding the body of water] by taking into consideration both its name and the nation that has preserved it for thousands of years, and, therefore, stop hatching plots against the Iranian nation every day,” Rouhani stated.

The Americans, he added, can clearly witness how the Iranian nation has been and continues to be successful in all areas, including providing security for the maritime area.

The Iranian Armed Forces, including the naval forces serving either the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps [IRGC] or the Army, as well as the forces enlisted with Iran’s Law Enforcement Force and volunteer Basij force have invariably guaranteed the security of the waterways and its coastline, Rouhani explained.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump alleged in a recent tweet that he had ordered the US Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats that “harass” American ships, following a recent confrontation between US warships and Iranian military boats in the waters.

The IRGC denounced the American vessels for their “unprofessional and perilous” behavior in the waterway, and said they had “caused trouble” for one of the elite force’s logistics ships that was on a routine patrol.

رياض سلامة: رجاءً… ارحلْ

رياض سلامة: رجاءً... ارحلْ!

ابراهيم الأمين 

الخميس 30 نيسان 2020

يتعامل رياض سلامة مع الإعلام بكلّ ما يضمن له اللعب ضمن المربّع الذي يريد. فهو، منذ تولّيه منصبه، لم يخرج إلى الإعلام بشروط الإعلام والشفافية، بل وفقاً لشروطه هو. ولطالما كانت مقابلاته التلفزيونية «مهندسة» تماماً، وهامش المفاجأة فيها شبه معدوم. كما بقية مقابلاته الصحافية التي تقع تحت عنوان «مدفوع الأجر».

أمس، هرب سلامة، مجدّداً، من الأسئلة المتراكمة أمامه منذ ربع قرن. الأسئلة التي تحاكي من يفترض به لعب دور تعزيز الاقتصاد المنتج لا الاقتصاد الريعي. وهو واحد من مهندسي الاقتصاد الريعي، وابن أصيل لمدرسة الرأسمال الاستهلاكي الذي قاد العالم منذ ثمانينات القرن الماضي. وكان رفيق الحريري وجهه الشرق أوسطي، وسلامة حيلته النقدية. طار الحريري وطارت معه الرؤوس والحكومات والسلطات، لكنّ سلامة بقي في موقعه. يريدون إقناع العالم بأن الجماهير كانت تتظاهر يومياً لبقائه. ويريدون لنا أن ننسى أنه الركن الثابت في سلطة تمثّل جميع وجوه النظام البائس، وأن نتجاهل كونه ممثل الرأسمالية العالمية في بلادنا، والوديعة الحقيقية للنظام الاقتصادي الاستعماري الذي تقوده أميركا في العالم.

لم يقبل سلامة يوماً المثول أمام لجنة عامة في مناظرة عامة. هو لا يقف في وجه خصم له. ولا يناقش علناً معارضين لسياساته. يُحضّر الأسئلة التي تناسبه ويقدّم الإجابات التي لا مجال لمناقشتها، مثله مثل رجال الدين في عظاتهم وخطبهم الأسبوعية. يقفون على منابر أعلى من الناس المصطفّين للاستماع من دون نقاش. سلامة لا يحبّ إلا هذا النوع من التواصل مع الناس. وهذا ما يوجب عليه معرفة أنه لا مجال لاحتساب ما يقوله. بل يمكن احتساب ما يفعله فقط، وما يصلنا منه على شكل نتائج. وبالتالي، عليه توقّع الأفعال المضادّة لسياساته بالطريقة التي تناسب خصومه، ووفق المسرح الذي يختاره هؤلاء، وبشروطهم، طالما أنه قرّر اللعب بنظام الركلات الترجيحية وعن بُعد.
كان على سلامة الإجابة عن أسئلة حقيقيّة تُطرح في وجهه طوال الوقت، وليس خلال الأشهر الماضية:
– كم كانت كلفة سياسة تثبيت سعر الصرف على الاقتصاد كلياً، وعلى القوة الشرائية للعملة الوطنية؟

كم كانت سياسة الفوائد عامل تنشيط للاقتصاد الحقيقي؟ وكم وفّرت من فرص عمل جدّيّة؟ وكم خفّفت من عجز الميزان التجاري؟

كم كانت مفيدة سياسة تفريخ المصارف مثل النقابات والدكاكين؟ وكم كانت مفيدة سياسة استخدام المال العام لمصلحة مُرابين تخلّوا عن زبائنهم عند أول مفترق؟

كم كانت هندساتك المالية مفيدة في حماية مصارف سقطت بالضربة القاضية، وأفلست حتى ولو رفضت هي وأنت إشهار إفلاسها؟

– كم كانت سياسات الدعم ناجعة في خلق اقتصاد منتج، لا حماية لمنظومة استهلاك تافهة تعرف اليوم أنها لا تفيد في شيء؟

كم كنت أميناً لعمليات التطوير واللحاق بالعصر في مجال العمل المصرفي تحديداً، وكم سهّلت انتقال النظام المصرفي عندنا ليصير شبيهاً بما يجري في دول قريبة لا في العالم الحرّ المتقدّم الذي تعشقه أنت ورفاقك؟

كم مرّة استخدمت صلاحياتك لكبح جماح المُرابين من حولك، على الأقل بالتوازن مع استخدامك المُفرط لصلاحياتك من أجل تعزيز نفوذهم وأرباحهم، إلا إذا كنت شريكاً فعلياً لهم؟

كم مرّة فكّرت أن العمل العام له نظام وإطار زمني، وأنه يجب التقاعد الطوعي لا الإخراج القسري المحتوم – كما هو متوقّع الآن – حيث لا تنفع معك لا مساعي الشركاء من زعماء الطوائف، ولا رشاوى المُرابين من حولك، ولا دعاء رجال الدين المتملّقين لك بصورة مُهينة، ولا ضغوط العم سام.

أمس، هرب سلامة، مجدّداً، من الأسئلة المتراكمة أمامه منذ ربع قرن

رياض سلامة يعرف، ولا يجرؤ على القول، بأنّ أزمة نظامه هو، لا أزمة النظام في لبنان، قد تفاقمت يوم قرّر الأميركيون بالمشاركة مع السعودية ممارسة أقسى الضغوط على لبنان. هو لا يريد أن يقول لنا حجم تأثير اعتقال السعودية لسعد الحريري على التحويلات المالية، ولا كم كلّفتنا عملية التجديد له في منصبه. كما لا يريد القول لنا كم هرّب أترابه في العام الأخير من أموال إلى الخارج بعلمه وتحت رعايته. ولا يريد أن يقول لنا ما هو الحجم الفعلي للقطاع المصرفي اليوم، وما الصالح منه للبقاء. كما أنه لا يريد أن يقول لنا الرقم السحري الخاص بكمية المبالغ التي مرّت عليه خلال ربع قرن، ومن أين أتت وإلى أين ذهبت، لا أن يكتفي بتعداد ما أنفقته الدولة ولو ضمن برامج خاطئة.

رياض سلامة: كل عمليات التجميل لم تعد تنفع، رجاءً… ارحلْ!

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Yemeni Armed Forces Liberate 95% of al-Jawf: Our Strategic Options Will Make the Enemy Regret its Escalation

Yemeni Armed Forces Liberate 95% of al-Jawf: Our Strategic Options Will Make the Enemy Regret its Escalation

Translated by Staff

Yemeni Armed Forces Spokesman Brigadier General Yehya Saree announced the liberation of the 95% of al-Jawf Province.

In an interview with Yemeni al-Masirah network, Brigadier General Saree announced that the latest phase of the “Operation Allah Empowered You over Them” included cleansing several camps in the province, naming al-Labinat, al-Aqsha’, al-Khasf, and nearby areas in al-Maraziq and al-Mahashima.

The spokesman further confirmed that the number of those killed among the aggression forces over the course of the aforementioned operation was 1200 militants.

Saree also explained that the recently liberated area stretches over 3500 square kilometers, which means the entire al-Hazm Desert as well as areas in Khabb and al-Shaaf.

He also pointed out that al-Jawf Desert has been used as the most important hideout of the US-Saudi-Emirati-backed so-called al-Qaeda and Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group].

“The importance of the al-Labinat Camp is that it was the last stronghold of the mercenaries in al-Jawf and it is a key to enter Marib Province,” Saree added.

The Yemeni Armed Forces Spokesman further stated that the forces of aggression have been hugely escalating their attacks in the previous period and the Yemeni Army and Popular Committees have been responding to them.

“We have strategic options that will make the enemy regret its escalation. They have to bear the consequences,” Saree emphasized.

Brigadier General Saree also noted that the aggression’s warplanes have waged more than 256 airstrikes against al-Jawf Province between March and April.

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South Front

U.S. And Russian Economies Shrink, As China Invests Heavily In Infrastructure

The U.S. economy shrunk 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020, this is the biggest slide since 2008 and the first time it has contracted at all since 2014.

This is a direct result of the need to close businesses to fight the spread of COVID-19, as well as the oil market crash.

Consumer spending, which had already begun to cool in the second half of 2019, fell at a 7.6% rate in the first quarter of 2020.

The second quarter is expected to be even worse, with analysts expecting a shrinking of the economy not seen since the 1940s. Bloomberg Economics has projected a 37% annualized contraction, but UniCredit is the most bearish with a 65% estimate.

“It’s kind of incredible when you think about the fact that the economy was running pretty much on a normal footing for over 80% of the first quarter,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC, said.

Early hopes for a rapid rebound have faded with most analysts assuming a jump in activity once the virus passes will be followed by a slower resumption of growth.

While two quarters of contraction is considered by most to constitute a recession, the official call in the U.S. is made by the Business Cycle Dating Committee, a panel of economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Russia, too, is struggling, with analysts estimating a reduction in the income of Russian oil companies by $18–20 billion, or about 40%, due to a drop in oil prices and a decrease in production.

In April 2020, oil exports are moving towards: taking into account taxes, transportation costs and operating expenses, losses will amount to $6–8 per barrel. However, this will be a consequence of high duties on oil exports. In May oil exports will become barely profitable.

As of May 1st, analysts the export duty on oil after the spring collapse will drop by $45.2 and amount to $ 6.8 per ton. In April, it amounted to $52 per ton. At the same time, the duty on highly viscous oil will decrease to $1 from $5.2, for light oil products and oils – to $2, for dark – to $6.8.

International oil companies were initially trying to avoid reducing their production, by circumventing it through producing in countries such as Nigeria, but this also is beginning to prove impossible.

BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Eni showed steady production growth with an additional bonus in the form of attracting investors through generous dividends. Now everything is different. Most likely, the major oil companies expect the largest drop in production in decades. BP will have to share the burden of cuts in Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan is in difficult negotiations with Chevron, Exxon, Shell and Eni. The cuts will exacerbate the damage inflicted by NK on low oil prices and weak fuel sales.

It is not yet possible to determine the exact volumes of production reductions, as the largest oil companies and many countries continue to conduct difficult negotiations. They can reach a record hundreds of thousands of b/d per company, or 5-10% of their level of oil production.

In contrast, China appears to be handling the situation rather well. In 2020, it is expected that Chinese economy will grow, less than 2%, but it will not shrink.

The median estimate for 2020 full-year gross domestic product growth from 56 economists surveyed this month fell to 1.8% from 3.7% in March.

To help mitigate the coronavirus shocks, China will likely raise the annual quota for local government special bonds. The majority of analysts expect the government to sell between 3 trillion yuan ($424 billion) and 4 trillion-yuan worth of debt, higher than last year’s total of 2.15 trillion yuan.

Some economists expect a 4 trillion-yuan ($565 billion) issuance of special bonds, to be spent on infrastructure in an attempt to kick-start the economy.

Key infrastructure projects for 2020 include the build-out of the Sichuan-Tibet railway, a high-speed rail corridor along the Yangtze river and intercity connections in major city clusters. Elsewhere, special bonds are being used to fund toll-road projects from Gansu province in the north west to the rust-belt of Heilongjiang.

“It’s common practice that local governments artificially inflate anticipated revenues of infrastructure projects in order to get approval to issue special bonds,” said Tang Fengchi, a consultant on public-private partnerships to China’s Ministry of Finance. “Special bonds can solve the funding problems, but it is no solution to local governments’ inability to make scientific decisions.”


Pompeo Claims Multiple Labs in China Are Working on Contagious Pathogens

April 29, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that he believes multiple laboratories exist in China that are working on contagious pathogens under “unknown security conditions”.

The US top diplomat also complained that the world was not given access to a virology institute in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic started.

“There are multiple labs that are continuing to conduct work, we think, on contagious pathogens inside of China today. And we don’t know if they are operating at a level of security to prevent this [pandemic] from happening again. Remember this isn’t the first time that we’ve had a virus come out of China”, Pompeo stated.

This is not the first time that the US plays on the unconfirmed theory that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory and was “leaked” due to insufficient safety measures, a notion that was first promoted by the mainstream media.

Earlier, Pompeo called on China “to come clean” and answer for allegedly starting the outbreak. Beijing has vehemently denied the allegations that it was responsible for the pandemic’s start.

Source: Sputnik


Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

In the last several decades, and certainly in the post-9/11 environment in which the previous restrictions on the militarization of the American society largely disappeared, the US national security establishment has expand not only by creating new programs and agencies, but also by co-opting non-state actors. Many a US think-tank is now little more than an extension of some US government agency, conducting research to validate previously arrived-at conclusions in furtherance of a specific institutional agenda. Likewise many corporations have gone beyond being mere defense or intelligence contractors. Rather, their business activities are from the outset designed to be readily weaponizable, meshing seamlessly with the armed services and intelligence agencies.

It is not entirely clear how the process works, for there does not appear to be a system of contract awards for specific deliverables. Rather, it seems these capabilities are developed on the initiative of specific businesses which speculate their efforts will be utilized by the US national security establishment ever on the lookout for technological “game-changers”. Moreover, given the unchecked growth of the US national security budget, these entrepreneurs can operate in high confidence their efforts will also be financially rewarded by the intelligence and defense establishments, even if they are not commercially viable.

There have been numerous examples of initially civilian applications being put to use for the benefit of US national security institutions. Facebook has made its databases available to various agencies to test facial recognition technologies, for example. Google and Amazon make their cloud capabilities available to the Pentagon and the intelligence communities. The opposition to China’s Huawei 5G networks and cell phones appears to be motivated by the concern these systems do not have backdoors installed for the benefit of US national security state.

Elon Musk’s business empire has benefitted from its proximity to the US national security state. Musk, an immigrant from the Republic of South Africa, has made his initial fortune by creating PayPal. While Musk has sold his remaining interest in PayPal in 2002, that entity has since then engaged in furthering US national security agendas by blocking payments to organizations which were critical of US policies. This, however, is probably more of a reflection of the subservience of US tech firms to the US government than of Musk’s original intent.

Nevertheless, the timing of Musk’s departure from PayPal and the entry into the space business is noteworthy. Already in the late 1990s, there were rumblings in the United States about the desirability of militarizing space and building up anti-ballistic missile defenses, ostensibly against the so-called “rogue states” of North Korea and Iran. These initiatives gained considerable impetus in 2001, following the election of the Bush-Cheney administration which promptly moved to end the ABM Treaty as the first step toward the future of weaponization of space.

Space-X’s establishment in 2002, the same year the ABM Treaty collapsed due to the Bush Administration abrogation, seems entirely too convenient to be a mere coincidence, even though the stated aims of the company are mainly commercial. Still, it is easy to imagine why a firm focused on the development of low-cost, possibly reusable, space launch vehicles would be useful to the Pentagon. Creating a government program with the same objective would have attracted unnecessary attention. There would be budget appropriations battles, congressional testimony, various forms of oversight, and the inevitable domestic and international opposition to such destabilizing and provocative initiatives. Providing Space-X with technological assistance, allowing it to hire government specialists, then giving it access to lucrative government space launch orders, is a far more attractive proposition. Moreover, the bypassing of the normal defense contracting system actually meant considerable cost savings, thanks to Musk’s red tape-cutting techniques. Its design bureau functioned in a fashion akin to Lockheed’s famous “skunk works” which developed extremely ambitious projects such as the U-2 and SR-71 in large part thanks to being able to fly “under the radar” (no pun intended). However, since that time Lockheed ballooned into a massive “too big to fail” defense contractor which delivers costly and poorly performing aircraft.

Musk’s fantasies about colonizing Mars and selling seats on orbital space flights proved a very effective cover for the corporation’s core military applications. Moreover, Space-X’s status as a private corporation allows it to defray some of the research and development costs through genuine commercial activities. Yet one has to wonder whether SpaceX success would have been as spectacular if it weren’t for privileged access to government facilities. SpaceX has been able to piggy-back on the massive US government investment in space launch facilities. It is able to operate out of not only Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center, but even from the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The speed with which SpaceX was able to develop, test, and deploy several different new rocket engine design of the Kestrel, Merlin, Raptor, and Draco families also may be due to privileged access to technologies developed for NASA and military space programs.

Even though SpaceX was founded in 2002, it won a $100 million USAF space launch contract in 2005 and the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract in 2006, even though the first orbital mission of the Falcon I rocket would not take place until 2008. USAF awarded another $1 billion contract to SpaceX in early 2008, even before the first Falcon I flight. SpaceX has become the de-facto research and development branch of NASA when it comes to manned spaceflight. The 2014 NASA contract for the Crew Dragon has so far resulted in one successful docking with the International Space Station, though without a crew on board, and was followed by a successful splashdown. The larger Starship reusable heavy manned spacecraft is expected to start flying in the 2020s.

Competition from United Launch Services and even Boeing notwithstanding, there is little doubt SpaceX is to US manned spaceflight what Boeing is to heavy commercial aircraft and Lockheed-Martin to “fifth-generation” fighters. It has become the primary go-to contractor of such systems for both commercial and military US government applications, with the competitors being maintained in existence with occasional contracts largely as insurance against spectacular failure of SpaceX.

SpaceX portfolio of reusable space launch vehicles, manned spacecraft, and most recently also satellites means that the company is well positioned to serve as a one-stop shopping center for the newly created branch of the US armed forces. Given the United States’ desire to weaponize space as part of its effort to undermine strategic nuclear deterrence of rival powers, namely the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, there is every reason to expect SpaceX will be a recipient of considerable financial largesse from the USSF.

Arguably the most intriguing project SpaceX is pursuing is Starlink, a proposed network of over four thousand miniature satellites whose ostensible aim is to provide broadband internet service to the entire planet. However, the interest in Starlink demonstrated by the US military suggests that, once again, this is at the very least a dual-use project. Articles discussing the military’s interest in Starlink cite the possibility of it becoming the replacement for the aging J-STARS airborne ground target acquisition radars, suggesting these satellites’ emissions can be used to track moving land objects.. If that is indeed the case, they could also serve the role of anti-ballistic missile warning satellites, and even be used to track stealth aircraft, since the constellation of satellites would function as a massive distributed multi-static radar array.

The mad pace of SpaceX has not been without mishaps. The Crew Dragon, in particular, suffered a number of embarrassing failures, and it may yet be that the corner-cutting hell-for-leather approach the corporation may yet lead to disaster when applied to the considerably more demanding problem of manned spaceflight. Other private entrepreneurs, such as Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, either suffered fatal accidents that greatly delayed their respective programs or prompted their shut-down. G_7 SpaceX, however, differs from them in that its main customer is the US government that is greatly interested in having the USSF dominate the Earth’s orbit in the same way as the USN dominates the global ocean by establishing large-scale permanent presence of US military personnel in space. The US government has gambled SpaceX will deliver products necessary for such domination. Whether it can do that still remains to be seen.

حزب الله وحسان دياب علاقة “تكنوقراط”!

 روزانا رمّال

بين الحديث عن حكومة مؤيدة لحزب الله واعتبارها جزءاً من نفوذه المترجم محلياً على أثر المتغيرات الإقليمية التي تقدّمت لصالحه خصوصاً في سورية وبين النظر الى السياق العام للموقف الأميركي منها والعلاقة معها يتوقف المشهد السياسي عند ترجمة هذه العلاقة بقرارات تنفيذية يمكن قراءة موقف واشنطن على اساسها.

بأي حال من الأحوال يبدو الموقف الأميركي حيال التعاطي مع حكومة الرئيس حسان دياب «متقدّماً» فقد انتقل من مرحلة «الاعتراف» عشية زيارة «دايفيد هايل» الأخيرة الى بيروت منذ أشهر وسلوكها المسار الطبيعي بين أخذ الثقة والبيان والوزاري ثم «الترقب» وبين إطلاق المواقف الأميركية منها التي لا يشوبها أي نوع من التصويب المباشر عليها وصولاً نحو علاقة رسمية ودبلوماسية «طبيعية» اليوم صار يمكن الحديث عن تطور الموقف الأميركي على أساسها عملاً بعمر الحكومة القصير ليتبين أنها لا «تزعج» إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب ولا تعتبر مساحة تحدٍّ له وإذا كان هذا هو موقف البيت الأبيض فإن الاستنتاج الأساسي هنا يصبح عدم صحة اعتبار أن الأميركيين يصنفون هذه الحكومة حكومة حزب الله. فواشنطن لم تتردد لحظة بتصنيف حكومة الرئيس السابق سعد الحريري حكومة للحزب او لحلفائه بالحد الأدنى؛ اما اليوم فهذا التصريح يغيب عن الادارة الأميركية حتى «اللحظة» مع ان «إسرائيل» تقدمت نحوه.

عملياً لا يمكن لواشنطن أن تؤسس لصيغة حكومية لبنانية أفضل من هذه التي يمثلها فريق حسان دياب فأي صيغة تلك أفضل من صيغة لا تبرز بشكل صريح وزراء حزب الله ضمن الكادر السياسي واصطفافاته؟

وأي صيغة هي الأفضل من حكومة لا تحفظ لحليف حزب الله الأكبر وهو الحليف الاستراتيجي رئيس التيار الوطني الحر جبران باسيل حضوراً مباشراً فيها يعطيه التفوق الصريح على خصومه المحليين وتساعده انتخابياً وهم حلفاء واشنطن بالأعم الأغلب؟

بالعودة إلى مواقف الإدارة الأميركية السابقة من حكومة دياب، فقد حذر مسؤول أميركي كبير في 11 شباط لشبكة «العربية» من أن «ما نراه الآن من حكومة دياب ليس واعداً، ولا يتطابق مع المطلوب ولا مع ما يطالب به اللبنانيون». وأشار المسؤول في الإدارة الأميركية إلى أن «الولايات المتحدة تراجع دائماً موقفها ومساعداتها وهي ستفعل ذلك». وتابع «واشنطن تراقب التطورات وتصرفات حكومة حسّان دياب، وستتصرّف بناء على هذه التصرفات وليس بناء على هوية الوزراء وانتماءاتهم، ولا حتى مضمون البيان الوزاري»، وأكد أن «إدارة ترامب قرّرت عدم التدخّل».

الكلام الأميركي وكذلك الموقف تطور منذ ذلك الوقت وبشكل كبير فقد حرصت السفيرة الأميركية الجديدة «دوروثي شيا» على زيارات بروتوكولية تحوّلت الى زيارات دعم وتعاون، كما كان عنوان الزيارة منذ يومين الى السراي الحكومي فقد عبرت السفيرة لدياب حسب مصادر حكومية «عن اهتمامها باستكمال المساعدات الأخيرة التي تقدمت بها بلادها»، شاجبة ما أسمته «التعديات في الشارع الطرابلسي». وهذا الكلام يؤكد بالنظر الى كلام المسؤول الأميركي في شهر شباط الماضي الذي ربط مساعدات بلاده بسلوك دياب على تطور الموقف. فهذا السلوك على ما يبدو لم يزعج إدارة ترامب حتى الآن. وبالتالي فان التعاون معها بالنسبة لواشنطن يتدرج نحو التعزيز بعد أن أيقنت ان لا سيطرة لنفوذ حزب الله على دياب. فالسلوك المقصود هنا هو الهوية السياسية لهذه الحكومة وأن لا تكون أحد أذرع حزب الله في البلاد او امتداداً لنفوذ إيراني صريح.

أما من جهة حزب الله فيؤكد مصدر متابع لـ»البناء» ان العلاقة بين الطرفين جيدة، لكنها لا تصنف إلا بـ»الطبيعية». فحزب الله الذي انتقل من التعاون مع الرئيس سعد الحريري وهو رئيس لتيار المستقبل والممثل الأقوى في الساحة السنية ليس معنياً اليوم ببعض الحساسيات التي كانت تشوب تلك العلاقة حتى أن الزيارات المتوالية على الرئيس الحريري من قبل «الخليلين» ممثلي الثنائية الشيعية، وهما كل من مساعد امين عام حزب الله السياسي ومعاون الرئيس نبيه بري السياسي، ليست اليوم بمثل هذا الزخم السابق مع بيت الوسط. فما يجمع حزب الله بتيار المستقبل وكثرة الملفات والحساسيات في الساحتين كان يتطلب نوعاً آخر من العلاقة وهي ثلاثية الركائز «سياسية – حزبية –حكومية». الأمر غير الموجود لدى دياب. فحزب الله لا يتعاطى معه لا بعين التحدي للحريري ولا بعين اعتباره زعامة قيد الولادة، بل إن العلاقة بين الطرفين مبنية على «إدارة المرحلة». وهي المهمة التي قبل بها دياب لمواجهة الازمة التي يعيشها لبنان. وعلى هذا الأساس يختم المصدر «يمكن وصف العلاقة بين حزب الله وحسان دياب بـ»التكنوقراط» أي علاقة حزب برئيس حكومة يمثل السلطة التنفيذية غير الآتية من رحم الأحزاب بل الاختصاص.

من ناحية أخرى، لا شك في أن نجاح حكومة دياب يعني لحزب الله نوعاً من الاحتفاظ بموقعه المتقدم في الساحة السياسية. فالحزب وحلفاؤه كانوا عشية 17 تشرين واقعين بين خيارات ضمنها استقالة الحريري او ملء الفراغ ببديل آتٍ من تحالفات أميركية او خلفيات مؤيدة لواشنطن: اما اليوم وبوجود دياب هم بموقع أفضل بل «أضمن»، اذا جاز التعبير، وأبعد عن التحدي وحسابات نقاط النفوذ. الأمر الذي لا تتحمله المنطقة والذي لم تجهز بعد له ساحات المفاوضات وتسجيل النقاط.. فهل ينجح حسان دياب بالاستفادة من المرحلة؟

Pakistan PM Slams US Sanctions on Iran


April 29, 2020

Imran Khan Rouhani

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan condemned the US sanctions and mounting pressures against Iran amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he feels bound to support Tehran in the face of Washington’s illegal sanctions.

In a telephone conversation on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Prime Minister of Pakistan called for efforts to resume trade exchanges between the two neighbors following a halt in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and discussed ways to enhance bilateral economic relations in defiance of the US sanctions, Tasnim news agency reported.

They also stressed the need to share the experiences, knowledge and technology in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and called for the resumption of cross-border trade, reopening of the border markets, and strengthening the trade ties in conformity with health regulations.

The Iranian president and the Pakistani prime minster further condemned any type of discrimination or imposition of pressures against Muslims, and expressed their support for Muslim communities.

Rouhani commended Pakistan for its opposition to the US’ illegal sanctions against Iran, and expressed hope that the two Muslim neighbors could further broaden the trade and economic relations.

He also noted that reopening of the border markets in full compliance with the health and medical instructions would contribute to the promotion of the trade and economic ties between the two countries.

“We are willing to continue the exchange of commodities and border trade with Pakistan in the same way that trading of commodities with a number of the neighboring countries is going on,” Rouhani added.

He also congratulated the Pakistani government and nation on the start of the holy month of Ramadan, and hoped that the joint agreements between Iran and Pakistan would be implemented to benefit the two nations.

For his part, Imran Khan highlighted the necessity of promoting and deepening relations with Iran, particularly the economic and trade ties, and welcomed plans on the resumption of trade activities at the common border and reopening of the border markets by observing the health instructions.

The resumption of commodities exchange between the two countries will greatly help Pakistan’s economy, which has encountered many problems due to the coronavirus, the Pakistani premier added.

Source: Iranian media

السيّد: نطالب الحريري بالإعتذار من الضباط الأربعة كما اعتذر من الأسد


صيدا أون لاين | الحريري: إلى جميل السيد النابغة في الاقتصاد ...

أعلن النائب جميل السيد، في مؤتمر صحافي عقده أمس في مجلس النواب، لممناسبة الذكرى الحادية عشرة لتحرير الضباط الأربعة، أننا «طلبنا من الرئيس سعد الحريري أن يعتذر من الضباط الأربعة، كما اعتذر من الرئيس بشار الأسد عام 2009، والأوْلى أن يعتذر منا وتنتهي القصة، طالبناه بأن يعتذر باعتباره راعياً لشهود الزور، بحسب الملفات التي استندت إليها المحكمة الدولية. مع الأسف، لم يعتذر مثلما اعتذر من الرئيس الأسد. والأوْلى أن يعتذر منا كضباط لبنانيين وتنتهي القضية أدبياً، والرجوع عن الخطأ فضيلة».

وأضاف «أتحداهم والشكوى التي سأقدّمها أصبحت جاهزة لأنهم ما زالوا يتاجرون بدم الشهيد. يكلفك الأمر، يا شيخ سعد، أن تدلي بتصريح أو تقول كما قلت للرئيس الأسد عام 2009، في تصريح أو عبر التلفزيون: نعتذر من الضباط الأربعة لأننا أخطأنا في حقهم في الاعتقال بناء على شهود زور. ونقطة على السطر».

ورأى أن «قانون العفو، واجب وضروري، وفي نظري ونظر كل اللبنانيين سارق البيضة في السجن وسارق الدجاجة في السلطة. الذي قتل شخصاً أو أطلق رصاصة في الهواء في السجن والذين قتلوا الآلاف ودمّروا وهجّروا في الحكم. العدالة نسبية وليست مطلقة، عدا عن الظروف الاجتماعية المحيطة بالموضوع».

وقال «غيري دخل في موضوع الجرائم. أنا قاربت العفو على أساس المدة. تقريباً 99 في المئة من الناس، إذا طبق الحق الشخصي فهو يحتاج إلى تنازل لأننا لا نستطيع أن نتنازل عنه بالعفو، يعني لا نريد أن ننصف القاتل ونظلم القتيل، وبالتالي إذا فعلنا ذلك من دون إجراء مصالحات فلا نريد تزايد تفاعل الجرائم بين العائلات وأخذ الثأر وبالتالي إذا حصل وأتى بإسقاط شخصي مع قانون عفو يخرج، وإذا لم يحصل على إسقاط شخصي يجرون إتصالات بين بعضهم البعض من أجل تقديم إسقاط ويمشي الحال». وأشار إلى أنّ «كلّ مذكرات التوقيف الغيابية والبحث والتحري تسقط وتعطى مهلة 6 اشهر للناس المعنيين جدياً ليتقدموا ولا يتمّ توقيفهم ويُسألوا ويحقق معهم بفترة أشهر ولا يكونون موقوفين إلاّ إذا صدر حكم في حقهم فيفيدوا من العفو».

Nearly 2,000 Syrian mercenaries have fled Libya for Europe: monitor

By News Desk -2020-04-29

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 P.M.) – Nearly 2,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants that were transported to Libya over the last five months have fled the North African nation for Europe, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Wednesday.

“Some of the 2,000 Syrian fighters who were transported to Libya to fight with the UN-supported National Accord Government (GNA) against its competitor Khalifa Haftar have in fact fled to Europe, according to the Libyan National Army (LNA) from Haftar,” the monitor said.

SOHR first reported Syrian mercenaries fleeing Libya for Italy in February, and since then, several reports have surfaced that make similar claims.

Meanwhile, journalist Lindsey Snell of the Investigative Journal interviewed a fighter from Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah that recently returned to Syria after fighting in Libya for a few months.

In the interview, the fighter, who was identified as Zein Ahmed, said that Turkey promised the militants citizenship if they fought in Libya for six months; however, this turned out to be false.

“They told us first that if we stayed and fought for six months, that we would get Turkish citizenship,” he said. “That was lies. They told us if we died fighting in Libya, our families would get Turkish citizenship. Now that so many Syrians have died in Libya, we know this is also a lie.”

Ahmed referenced a case in which an Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah member was killed in February; his family received $8,000 in compensation, but the dead fighter’s family was not given citizenship.

Turkey sent the first batch of Syrian mercenaries to Libya in December and since then, thousands of others have been transported to the North African nation to help the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) forces.

ALSO READ  ISIS takes advantage of coronavirus crisis to launch several attacks against Syrian military


South Front

On April 29, the Houthis concluded their large-scale operation, dubbed “Prevail Over Them,” in the northern Yemeni province of al-Jawf.

A spokesman for the Yemeni group, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, told the al-Masirah TV that the remaining regions of al-Jawf were captured, claiming that 95% of the province is now clear from the Saudi-led coalition and its proxies.

“In the last phase of Operation Prevail Over Them, the al-Labanat Camp, al-Aqsh’a, al-Khasf and the nearby areas in al-Maraziq and al-Mahashmah in al-Jawf were cleared,” the spokesman said.

Brig. Gen. Sari added that the recently cleared areas, which include the al-Hzim desert and areas in the nearby district of Khabb wa al-Sha’af, stretch over 3,500 km2. According to the spokesman, 1,200 Saudi-backed fighters were killed in the last phase of the operation.

Houthis Conclude Large-Scale Operation In Al-Jawf, Claim 95% Of The Province Is Under Control
Red: Houthis control, Yellow: areas cleared by the Houthis during the operation, Green: Saudi control. Click to see full-size map, source: U-News Agency

Earlier this week, the Houthis released a combat video of the final phase of Operation Prevail Over Them, showing the capture of the al-Labanat Camp. The military camp, which was one of the Saudi-led coalition’s last positions in al-Jawf, is a bridgehead to the nearby province of Ma’rib.

By imposing control of vast regions of al-Jawf, the Houthis have solidified their positions on the border with the Saudi province of Najran. Moreover, the Yemeni group has repeatedly demonstrated itself capable of launching cross-border raids from al-Jawf.


In Video: Houthis Hunt Down Saudi-led Forces In Yemen's Al-Jawf Province

The media wing of the Houthis (Ansar Allah) released a new combat video from the Yemeni province of al-Jawf. The video shows the ongoing offensive operations of the Houthis against Saudi-backed forces as well as weapons, equipment and ammunition captured from Saudi proxies.

Never before seen footage of Ansarallah forces destroying multiple enemy vehicles in Yemen

By News Desk -2020-04-29

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:10 P.M.) – The Ansarallah forces released a new video on Wednesday that showed their field operations across Yemen.

In the three-minute-long video released on their YouTube channel, the Ansarallah forces showcase several attacks that they carried out against the Arab Coalition and pro-government troops.

The video footage specifically shows the Ansarallah forces targeting enemy vehicles being hit by their anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) in several areas of Yemen.

The Ansarallah forces have been involved in a series of intense battles in the Al-Jawf, Marib, and Al-Bayda governorates of Yemen, despite the United Nations’ call for a ceasefire among all warring parties.


Zasypkin: Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are above all considerations


Wednesday, 29 April 2020 10:16

BEIRUT, (ST)- Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin has stressed that for Russia, Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are above all considerations, noting the strong and strategic relations between the two countries.

In an interview with “al-Mayadeen TV” last night, Zasypkin said that Russia will continue adopting a principled stance and policy towards Syria, affirming that there is no deal with any party regarding Syria.

He reiterated that Syria’s future is decided only by the Syrians without any foreign interference and that the Syrian government is sparing no effort to solve the crisis in the country.

 Zasypkin made it clear that the recent media forgery that targeted Russia’s stance on developments in Syria was done after hacking the website of the Russian Federal Agency and through showing the personal position of a former Russian diplomat as if it were the official position of Russia. He indicated that it is not the first time that such forgery takes place.

On Tuesday, the Russian embassy in Beirut affirmed that all the fake news recently circulated by some media outlets and social media networks about Russia’s position towards what is happening in Syria are part of a misleading malicious scheme that is doomed to failure.

Hamda Mustafa

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WhatsApp: “Israeli” NSO Deeply Involved in Hacking Our Users

By Staff, Agencies

In new court filings, WhatsApp has revealed that an “Israeli” spyware company used US-based servers and was “deeply involved” in carrying out mobile phone hacks of 1,400 WhatsApp users, including senior government officials, journalists, and human rights activists.

The new revelations about NSO Group state that the “Israeli” company bears responsibility in serious human rights violations, including the hacking of more than a dozen Indian journalists and Rwandan dissidents.

For years, NSO Group has claimed that its spyware is purchased by government clients for the purpose of tracking down “terrorists” and that it had no independent knowledge of how those clients – which in the past have reportedly included Saudi Arabia and Mexico – use its hacking software.

But a lawsuit filed by WhatsApp against NSO Group last year – the first of its kind by a major technology company – is revealing more technical details about how the hacking software, Pegasus, is deployed against targets.

In the court filings last week, WhatsApp said its own investigation into how Pegasus was used against 1,400 users last year showed that servers controlled by NSO Group – not its government clients – were an integral part of how the hacks were executed.

According to WhatsApp’s filing, NSO gained “unauthorized access” to its servers by reverse-engineering the messaging app and then evading the company’s security features that prevent manipulation of the company’s call features. One WhatsApp engineer who investigated the hacks said in a sworn statement submitted to the court that in 720 instances, the IP address of a remote server was included in the malicious code used in the attacks. The remote server, the engineer said, was based in Los Angeles and owned by a company whose data centre was used by NSO.

NSO has said in legal filings that it has no insight into how government clients use its hacking tools, and therefore does not know who governments are targeting.

But one expert, John Scott-Railton of Citizen Lab, who has worked with WhatsApp on the case, said NSO’s control of the servers involved in the hack suggests the company would have had logs, including IP addresses, identifying the users who were being targeted.

“Whether or not NSO looks at those logs, who knows? But the fact that it could be done is contrary to what they say,” Scott-Railton said.

The new developments in the case come as NSO is facing separate questions about the accuracy of a tracking product it has launched following the outbreak of Covid-19. The new program, called Fleming, uses mobile phone data and public health information to identify who individuals infected with coronavirus may have come into contact with. A report by NBC last weekend said NSO’s new tool was being marketed in the US.

But in a Twitter thread, Scott-Railton said his analysis showed it was relying on data that appeared very imprecise.

“When you are working with data with this much built-in inaccuracy, it would be pretty intense to issue alerts each time this happened. Or to require quarantines. Or testing. The rates of false positives here would be through the roof. But … so would false negatives,” he said.

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من جهة يظهر المشهد في الشمال مشبعاً بالغضب الناتج عن اليأس والجوع والشعور بالعجز، والتعرّض للخداع والسرقة، مع بلوغ الدولار سعر الـ 4000 ليرة والمزيد، وتوقف عجلة العمل وتناقص الموارد حتى الجفاف وارتفاع السعار حتى حدود الخيال، والغضب عندما يتفجّر فهو لا يُعقل، ويبحث عن الصخب والضجيج وجذب الأنظار ويصير ساحة مناسبة للشغب الآتي أحياناً من براءة المنتفضين، الذين يعتبرون أنهم لا يكونون قد فعلوا شيئاً إذا عادوا إلى بيوتهم بعد تظاهرات سلمية باردة هادئة، وأن غضبهم لن يؤخذ على محل الجِدّ من دون عمليات تكسير وحرق، ومواجهات بالحجارة وغير الحجارة مع الأجهزة الأمنيّة، من جيش وقوى أمن وسواهما، وهم لا يعتبرون الإنجاز إلا بسماع أنباء من نوع استقالة رئيس أو وزير أو توقيف وإلقاء القبض على مسؤول، أو بإعلان سحري عن تخفيض سعر الدولار وفتح الباب لسحب يسير للودائع بالليرة والدولار، وانخفاض فجائي للأسعار، وما عدا ذلك يعتبرونه تضليلاً وخداعاً وتلاعباً بهم وبـ «ثورتهم «.

من جهة مقابلة، جنود وضباط وعناصر أمنية معنيون بتطبيق صارم لثلاث مهام، مهمة الحظر والعزل والتباعد التي يفرضها زمن كورونا ومخاطر تفشي الوباء الجدّي والذي لا يحتمل مزحاً، ولا يجد أعذاراً للاستثناء، وإذا تفشى هذا الوباء فهو سمّ زعاف وموت يحصد بالجملة ولا يرحم. وثانياً مهمة منع التعدي على الأملاك الخاصة والعامة وأعمال الحرق والتكسير، وهي من صلب واجباتهم القانونية والدستورية. وثالثاً، منع المندسين والمتسللين والعابثين من افتعال الصدام مع الوحدات الأمنية واستهدافها لتفجير علاقة الجسم الشعبي الغاضب بهذه المؤسسات، طلباً لنزف الدماء الذي يريده متربّصون كثر يجدون في اللحظة من التقابل بين المتظاهرين والقوى الأمنيّة فرصة ذهبيّة ليلعبوا لعبتهم.

من جهة ثالثة أمامنا منطقة تختزن كل المشاكل اللبنانية، فالفقر في أعلى نسبه في الشمال، والإهمال في أعلى درجاته في الشمال، والثراء الفاحش للسياسيين كما الفساد الذي نخر الدولة ونهب المال العام، يقدّمان نماذج فاضحة شمالا، والقيادات السياسية شبه مهمّشة شعبياً، لكنها تملك تشكيلات منظمة قادرة على التلاعب بالتظاهرات والاندساس فيها ورفع شعارات وتفجير مواجهات. وهذه القيادات تجد أنها في مواجهة سياسية مصيرية مع الواقع المستجد مع حكومة الرئيس حسان دياب، وفرصتها الوحيدة لتوجيه الرسائل المتفجرة هي بركب موجة الغضب الشمالي. وفي الشمال منظمات ذات طابع أمني لها تاريخ دمويّ مع الجيش اللبناني، ومافيات تهريب منظمة لها مصالح بالفوضى ولها تاريخ كر وفر مع القوى الأمنية. وكل منها تجد في المسرح الذي توفره ساحات الغضب فرصتها المنشودة، وفي الشمال تنافس خليجي تركي قطري، يحضر فيه المال كما تحضر المخابرات، وسباق على ملء فراغات تراجع القيادات السياسية التقليدية بتنمية زعامات صف ثالث ورابع وعاشر، مسرحها هو تعبيرات الغضب الشعبي.

من جهة رابعة، حكومة الرئيس حسان دياب، التي لا تحمل أوزار المرحلة السابقة، خصوصاً برئيسها، الذي يشعر أنه يُعاقَب من الناس الذين يؤمن بأنه يمثلهم، لحساب زعماء يريدون تعطيل مساره الإصلاحي، خصوصاً في مكافحة الفساد، الذي يمثل هؤلاء الزعماء نماذجه الفاقعة، بينما الحكومة التي يترأسها بنظر الناس وقد نجحت في إثبات جدية وفعالية في مواجهة كورونا بدت بطيئة في إخراج أجوبة تمنح الأمل للناس تجاه واقعهم المعيشي الآخذ في التدهور، سواء في قدرتها على لجم ارتفاع سعر الدولار أو مواجهة الغلاء.

في السياسة تقع الفتنة النموذجيّة عندما يتقابل الحق بالحق ويندسّ الباطل بينهما. وهذا ما نحن عليه، ولهذا الخشية من الطريق المسدود، وما يثيره من ذعر ورعب مجرد التفكير بتخيل ما قد يكون آتياً على الطريق. إنها الفتنة، فمن يستطيع الانحدار إلى قعرها بسرعة تشبه انحدار سعر صرف الليرة أمام الدولار؟

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Netanyahu Is Back Yet Again. Israel Will Become Much Bigger

By Philip Giraldi

Global Research, April 28, 2020

Rahm Emanuel, up until recently the mayor of Chicago and before that a top advisor to the president in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama White Houses and still earlier a volunteer in the Israeli Army, famously once commented that a good crisis should never be allowed to go to waste. He meant, of course, that a crisis can be exploited to provide cover for other shenanigans involving politicians. It was an observation that was particularly true when one was working for a sexual predator like Bill, who once attacked a “terrorist” pharmaceutical factory in Sudan to divert attention away from the breaking Monica Lewinski scandal.

To be sure, the United States government is focusing its attention on the coronavirus while also using the cover afforded to heighten the pressure on “enemies” near and far. As the coronavirus continues to spread, the Trump White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have increased the ferocity of their sabre rattling, apparently in part to deter Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela. Ironically, of course, none of the countries being intimidated are actually threatening the United States, but we Americans have long since learned that perceptions are more important than facts when it comes to the current occupant of the oval office and his two predecessors.

The latest bit of mendacity coming out of the White House was a presidential tweet targeting the usual punching bag, Iran. Based on an incident that occurred two weeks ago, Trump threatened “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” Iran’s flying gunboats are clearly a formidable force but it is certainly reassuring to note that naval anti-aircraft fire has been directed to deal with them. The U.S. Navy ships in question are, one might also observe, in a body of water generally referred to as the Persian Gulf, where they are carrying out maneuvers right off of the Iranian coast. Meanwhile, Iranian flying gunboats have not yet been observed off of New Jersey, but they are probably waiting to be transported to the Eastern Seaboard by those huge trans-oceanic gliders that once upon a time were allegedly being constructed by Saddam Hussein.

I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.

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Given the cover provided by the virus, it should surprise no one that Israel is also playing the same game. The Jewish state has been continuing its lethal bombings of Syria, with hardly any notice in the international media. In a recent missile attack, nine people were killed near the historic city of Palmyra. Three of the dead were Syrians while six others were presumed to be Lebanese Shi’ites supporting the Damascus government. Israel de facto regards any Shi’ite as an “Iranian” or an “Iranian proxy” and therefore a “terrorist” eligible to be killed on sight.

But the bigger coronavirus story has to do with Israel’s domestic politics. Benjamin Netanyahu and his principle opponent Benny Gantz have come to an agreement to form a national government, ostensibly to deal with the health crisis. The wily Netanyahu, who will continue to be prime minister in the deal, has thereby retained his power over the government while also putting a halt to bids from the judiciary to try and sentence him on corruption charges. As part of the deal with Gantz, Netanyahu will have veto power over the naming of the new government’s attorney general and state prosecutor, guaranteeing the appointment of individuals who will dismiss the charges.

And more will be coming, with the acquiescence of Washington. U.S. elections are little more than six months away and Donald Trump clearly believes that he needs the political support of Netanyahu to energize his rabid Christian Zionist supporters, as well as the cash coming from Jewish oligarchs Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus and Paul Singer. So, it is time to establish a quid pro quo, which will be Israeli government behind the scenes approaches to powerful and wealthy American Jews on behalf of Trump while the White House will look the other way while Israel annexes most of the remaining Palestinian West Bank. Pompeo has welcomed the new Israeli government and has confirmed that the annexation of the Palestinian land will be “ultimately Israel’s decision to make,” which amounts to a green light for Netanyahu to go ahead.

A vote on West Bank annexation will reportedly be taken by the Knesset at the beginning of July followed immediately by steps to incorporate Jewish settlements into Israel proper. According to the Israeli liberal newspaper Haaretz, the planned annexation has raised some concerns among a few liberal American Jewish organizations because it will convince many progressives in the U.S. that Israel has truly become an apartheid state. J Street warned that annexation “would severely imperil Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, along with the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship” and has even suggested cutting U.S. aid if that step is actually taken. Most other ostensibly liberal groups have adopted the usual Zionist two-step, i.e. condemning the move but not advocating any effective steps to prevent it. And it should also be noted that the largest and most powerful Jewish organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) have not raised any objections at all.

Unaffiliated individual liberal Jews, to include those who consider themselves Zionists, have generally been concerned about the move, though their argument is quite hypocritical, based on their belief that annexation would pari passu destroy any possible two-state solution, damaging both Palestinian rights and “Jewish democracy.” Some have even welcomed the change, noting that it would create a single state de facto which eventually would have to evolve into a modern democracy with equal rights for all. Such thinking is, however, nonsense. Israel under Netanyahu and whichever fascist retread that eventually succeeds him regards itself as a Jewish state and will do whatever it takes to maintain that, even including dispossessing remaining Arabs of their land and possessions, stripping them of their legal status, and forcing them to leave as refugees. That is something that might be referred to as ethnic cleansing, or even genocide.

And those Americans of conscience who are hoping for some change if someone named Joe Biden defeats Trump can also forget about that option. Biden has told the New York Times that “I believe a two-state solution remains the only way to ensure Israel’s long-term security while sustaining its Jewish and democratic identity. It is also the only way to ensure Palestinian dignity and their legitimate interest in national self-determination. And it is a necessary condition to take full advantage of the opening that exists for greater cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors. For all these reasons, encouraging a two-state solution remains in the critical interest of the United States.”

Unfortunately, someone should tell Joe that that particular train has already left the station due to the expansion of the Jewish state’s settlements. Nice words from the man who would be president aside, Biden is bound to the Israel Lobby for its political support and the money it provides as tightly as can be and he will fold before AIPAC and company like a cheap suit. He has famously declared that “You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist – I am a Zionist” and “My Name is Joe Biden, and Everybody Knows I Love Israel.” His vice-presidential candidates’ debate with Sarah Palin in 2008 turned embarrassing when he and Palin both engaged in long soliloquys about how much they cherish Israel. Indeed they do. Every politician on the make loves Israel.


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This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from TURThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Philip Giraldi, Global Research, 2020

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Israel has deployed additional units of the Iron Dome and Patriot air defense systems near the borders of Lebanon and Syria. Pro-Israeli sources claim that the country’s military is preparing to repel possible retaliatory strikes from Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed forces following the recent airstrikes on alleged ‘Iranian targets’ near Damascus.

Over the past year, the Israeli Defense Forces have been steadily increasing their military presence in the area of the occupied Golan Heights under pretext of combating the so-called Iranian threat. Syrian sources describe these developments as a part of preparations for wider aggressive military actions against forces of the Damascus government and its allies in southern Syria.

Late on April 27, Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles dropped leaflets calling on Idlib residents to support actions of the Turkish Army in the area of the M4 highway. Such actions by the Turkish military likely demonstrate that the negotiations with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which were held after a military incident between the sides on April 26, likely ended with no real progress. If the Turkish Army continues its efforts to de-block the part of the M4 highway near Nayrab by force, it may find itself in the state of an open military confrontation with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

2 US soldiers were abducted after an attack on their vehicle near the Omar oil fields, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, Syrian state media said on April 27. Arab media regularly report about security incidents involving US-led coalition forces and their proxies in eastern Syria. Earlier in April, Syria’s SANA claimed that a US soldier and 2 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in an attack near the village of al-Wasia in Deir Ezzor province.

On top of this, ISIS via its news agency Amaq regularly reports successful attacks against personnel of the Syrian Democratic Forces and civilians in the US-controlled area. For example on April 21, Amaq announced that ISIS forces had killed a “sorcerer” in the town of al-Sabhah. The victim was identified as Hassan Ghanem al-Osman. He became the third “sorcerer” killed by ISIS in eastern Deir Ezzor during the last two months.

The US-led coalition prefers to remain silent regarding the ISIS terror campaign, which is ongoing under the nose of its forces. However, it found time to comment on the April 27 report about the supposed casualties among US personnel calling it fake.

The Russian Military Police established a new observation point near the town of Tell Tamir in northeastern Syria. Kurdish sources claim that Turkish-backed militants regularly shelled the town and the surrounding areas during the past few weeks. They expect that the deployment of the Russians there should help to put an end to these regular ceasefire violations.

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