“AN AIRPORT FOR AN AIRPORT,” SYRIAN ARMY TO RESPOND TO ANY FUTURE ISRAELI ATTACKS – REPORT

South Front

16.12.2018

“An Airport For An Airport,” Syrian Army To Respond To Any Future Israeli Attacks – Report

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) will respond to any Israeli attack on its bases as a part of a new policy, which was adopted by the Syrian leadership following the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane last September, the Kuwaiti al-Ra’i newspaper reported on December 15 citing a high-ranked Syrian official.

“Damascus is waiting for any Israeli strike on specific military targets to retaliate with a similar strike, this means that a strike on an airport in Syria will be met with a strike on an airport in Israel and so on,” the unnamed official told al-Ra’i.

According to the official, Moscow has given Damascus a green light to respond to any Israeli strike that would destroy Syrian military capabilities or kill foreign advisers supporting the SAA. Tel Aviv was reportedly warned of this new policy.

“Any strikes against Syrian or an Iranian targets will be targeting Russian forces, which will not allow Israel to kill its soldiers and officers directly or indirectly,” the official said describing the Russian warning to Israel.

The source went on to deny Israel’s claims regarding the destruction of the Syrian missile capabilities and revealed that Syria had received medium and long range missiles guided with the Russian satellite navigation system, GLONASS. The SAA will use these missiles to respond to any Israeli attack.

On November 29, Israel made its first attempt to hit targets inside Syria since the downing of the Il-20. However, Syria said that all Israeli missiles were successfully intercepted. To this day, there is not evidence that any position was hit in the Israeli attack.

The Ministry of Defense of Syria will not likely confirm or deny al-Ra’i’s report, as Damascus don’t reveal such strategic decisions usually.

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Palestine Flag Flies near Lebanese Border in Solidarity with Resistance

Palestinian flag

December 16, 2018

Palestine’s flag flew near the border between Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories on Sunday in solidarity with Palestinian resistance in West Bank and Gaza.

Al-Manar reporter in Lebanon’s south, Ali Shoeib, posted a video and a photo of the Palestinian flag raised near the occupied territories in the southern town of Maiss Al-Jabal.

The flag was raised by Lebanese youths in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance which has been for days engaged in heroic confrontations with the Israeli enemy in the West Bank and at the border with Gaza.

Lebanese and Hezbollah flags were also raised near the border as shown in the photo.

علي شعيب 🇱🇧@ali_shoeib1

رفع العلم الفلسطيني في كروم العز في ميس الجبل تحية للمقاومة الفلسطينية https://www.pscp.tv/w/buYDCTFxTGpHVlhQQURXS0p8MU9kS3JSbWFabndLWKXfxmeiN-y7_0FoGFB9bNBi-r_YAcqg_N1B174IliIN 

علي شعيب @ali_shoeib1

رفع العلم الفلسطيني في كروم العز في ميس الجبل تحية للمقاومة الفلسطينية

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The photo posted by Al-Manar reporter in south Lebanon, Ali Shoeib, of Hezbollah flag flying at the border with the Palestinian occupied territories. Israeli occupation forces, who are positioned in the Palestinian side of the border, appear in the photo.

France: Thousands of ’Yellow Vests’ Hit French Streets in 5th Week of Protests

Local Editor

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of French cities on Saturday in the fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, despite calls to hold off after a gun attack in Strasbourg earlier this week.

In Paris, police were out in force to contain possible outbursts of violence.

Numbers were down compared to Saturday last week, a police source said.

Teargas was fired at small groups of protesters in brief clashes with riot police near the Champs-Elysees.

The ‘yellow vest’ movement started in mid-November with protests at junctions and roundabouts against fuel tax increases, but quickly became a wider mobilization against Macron’s economic policies.

Successive weekends of protests in Paris have led to vandalism and violent clashes with security forces.

The Interior Minister said around 69,000 police were active on Saturday with a reinforced presence in the cities of Toulouse, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne.

A police source told Reuters some 16,000 protesters had been counted in France, excluding Paris, by 1100 GMT, compared to 22,000 at the same time on Dec. 8.

In Paris, where groups of hundreds of protesters marched in splintered groups in several neighborhoods, 85 had been arrested by around midday, according to a Paris police official.

On Friday, Macron called for a return to calm in France after nearly a month of protests by the so-called ‘yellow vest’ movement against his government’s policies. The demonstrations have hit growth and caused widespread disruption.

“France needs calm, order and a return to normal,” Macron said, after a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.

In a televised address to the nation earlier on Monday, Macron announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners in further concessions meant to end the movement but many said they would maintain pressure.

The French government, as well as several unions and opposition politicians called on protesters to stay off the streets on Saturday, after four people were killed in a gun attack at a Christmas market in the historic city of Strasbourg.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

Global Research, December 15, 2018
Global Research 8 January 2009

Almost ten years ago, Israel invaded Gaza under “Operation Cast Lead”.

The following article was first published by Global Research in January 2009 at the height of the Israeli bombing and invasion under Operation Cast Lead.

In the wake of the invasion, Palestinian gas fields were de facto confiscated by Israel in derogation of international law.

A year following “Operation Cast Lead”,  Tel Aviv announced the discovery of  the Leviathan natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean “off the coast of Israel.”

At the time the gas field was: “ … the most prominent field ever found in the sub-explored area of the Levantine Basin, which covers about 83,000 square kilometres of the eastern Mediterranean region.” (i)

Coupled with Tamar field, in the same location, discovered in 2009, the prospects are for an energy bonanza for Israel, for Houston, Texas based Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration. (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Israel: Gas, Oil and Trouble in the Levant, Global Research, December 30, 2013

The Gazan gas fields are part of the broader Levant assessment area.

What is now unfolding is the integration of these adjoining gas fields including those belonging to Palestine into the orbit of Israel. (see map below).

It should be noted that the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline extending from Egypt’s Sinai to Syria constitutes an area encompassing large gas as well as oil reserves.

It is important to relate issue of Gaza’s offshore gas reserves to the recent massacres undertaken by IDF forces directed against the People of Palestine who own the offshore gas fields.

Michel Chossudovsky, June 12, 2018


War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

by Michel Chossudovsky

January 8, 2009

The December 2008 military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.


Map 1

Map 2

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

 “Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security?  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics 

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine’s Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or “peacekeeping” troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)


Map 3

The Ukrainian Aspect of the Information War – Russian Perspective

 

By Rostislav IshchenkoThe Ukrainian Aspect of the Information War – Russian Perspective
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with
 www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-ukrainian-aspect-information-war/
source: ukraina.ru/opinion/20181214/1022085102.html

The joke about two tankmen on the Champs Elysée lamenting Russia’s defeat in the information war very accurately reflects the main national sport of Russians – sprinkling ashes on their heads for no reason and announcing their own successes as failures.

Moreover, this national entertainment is in demand at all levels — from taxi drivers to ministers. Sometimes it seems to me that Russia is indeed governed not by elected authorities, but directly by God, because everyone around is sure that during decades everything is being done incorrectly and the “information war is lost”, and as a result Russia in 20 years returned from the political garbage can that it was firmly entrenched in by the end of the 90’s to the category of world powers of the first rank. And this was achieved mainly due to the jewellery work of the diplomatic department and accomplishments on the information front comparable only with the great Persian campaign of the invincible Alexander III of Macedon.

It is possible to know nothing about the successes of the Russia Today channel, but the attempts to illegally block it that are periodically undertaken in the US and the EU, as well as the campaign of persecution against Margarita Simonyan – concerning who attempts are being made with enviable persistence not for the first year to try to promote her on the Russian Internet and social networks – is vivid evidence of the absolute successfulness of the information project that is purposefully working with the audiences of a probable, as was said earlier, and, as is customary to now say, hybrid opponent.

In the western information field RT feels as free as German tanks in the French rear in May, 1940. The West simply can’t do anything to oppose it.

The constant hysterics concerning “Russian propaganda”, “Russian hackers”, and “Russian interference in elections” are the best confirmation that the western information front has been penetrated and the units of its information army disperse in panic. In order to at least somehow stabilise the situation, the West is obliged to resort to non-conventional actions in the form of a physical ban on the Russian media. This is approximately like a nuclear weapon being used against a chess opponent for the sake of winning the World Championship.

And so in conditions when it is possible to discuss only the brand of champagne that should be opened during celebrations after the parade of information victory, it turns out that, according to the opinion of many, we lost the information war not only to the West, but also to Ukraine. And this is despite the fact that Ukraine prohibited the dissemination on its territory not only of Russian media, but also practically any printed materials; it doesn’t allow Russian journalists on its territory; and it represses its own journalists should they dare to express a point of view that is different to the officially approved one.

Whereas in Russia the Ukrainian propagandists who come to speak on the leading TV channels are even paid extra so that they aren’t too ashamed to show to the Russian viewer the brutal grin of “victorious democracy”. I.e., Ukraine, which lost the information fight, having switched to a deaf defense, tries via police measures to fence off at least its own population from the Russian media. Working with a Russian audience simply isn’t an option at all.

So where is this “defeat”?

I have such an impression that Russian people and many Russian politicians confuse the information and political front. They see that a Nazi-oligarchical regime still sits in Kiev, and understand that even Poroshenko’s departure won’t change anything in this regard – and if something changes, then it will only be for the worst, and for some reason consider this to be an information defeat.

But in reality this isn’t even a defeat political, but it isn’t yet a victory. A full and absolute victory in the Ukrainian direction today is unattainable for objective circumstances of a geopolitical nature.

Let’s look at things step by step.

Firstly, in the geopolitical arena Russia is withstanding not the incidental historical misunderstanding known as Ukraine, but the United States of America — a country that was recognised as a global hegemon only five years ago and consolidated the resources of the collective West and two-thirds of the planet controlled by it in its fight against Moscow.

As of the current moment the situation has changed for the better. Russia obtained numerous allies; the unity in the ranks of the opponent has been undermined and its seemingly inexhaustible resource base has seriously evaporated. But anyway,  the US’ total amount of resources available for mobilisation still considerably surpasses Russia’s.

Secondly, being objectively weaker, in order to not lose and be torn into pieces Russia had to define really important strategic points with an absolute precision and concentrate its limited resources exactly there, trying to achieve local superiority over the opponent.

Over the past 10 years Moscow has outplayed Washington in three such local campaigns:

  1. It landed a knockout blow in the Caucasus in August, 2008, having literally dispersed the Georgian army in only a few hours and having put the Georgian state, which was carefully created by the US, on the edge of collapse. In addition, it didn’t finish it off, not allowing the US to palm off its former active asset, which turned into a passive one, onto Russia.
  2. It operatively transferred Crimea to the Russian jurisdiction in 2014, having deprived the US of the main planned dividend from the Ukrainian putsch and having turned Ukraine, which was planned as a strategic active asset, into a passive one (moreover, in such a way that the US didn’t even understand immediately that there is nothing for them to gain in this direction and thus senselessly pumped resources into the Ukrainian black hole for 2 more years).
  3. It finishes the Syrian campaign not simply with tactical success in the form of keeping Assad in power and blocking the idea of the Qatar-Saudi gas pipeline to the Mediterranean Sea (which would give Russia serious competition in the European gas market by disrupting as a result Russian-European political-economic rapprochement), but by strategically squeezing the US out of the Big Middle East and filling the void left by the Americans there.

Thirdly, militarily-politically solving the Ukrainian crisis demanded from Russia at this stage to longly freeze a huge number of resources that, unfortunately, aren’t elastic. Russia would lose the possibility to pursue an active foreign policy in all other regions of the planet. It’s not a coincidence that the Russian pseudo-patriotic fifth column initially demanded to withdraw troops from Syria and send them to Ukraine. The best way to lose a war is to tie one’s resources down to a secondary direction, having handed over strategically important positions to the opponent.

The problem with Ukraine is that Russia initially has nobody to lean on there. Local elites differ from each other only by their degree of hostility towards Moscow. Some of them are overt about it, and others are more covert for a certain period of time but always betray.

I will remind that Yanukovych and all his government – half of which is now in Russia in exile, and the other half regularly serves the putschists in Ukraine – pursued the policy of European integration considerably more effectively than Poroshenko (by the way, more effectively than Yushchenko too), and in this regard was much more dangerous to Russia, although he was considered in Ukraine as a pro-Russian politician.

Not having the local elite to lean on, Russia would be obliged to assume the governance of Ukraine, which, proceeding from the sizes of the Ukrainian state and the population, is simply technically impracticable.

Fourthly, not having the opportunity at this stage to achieve an absolute victory in the Ukrainian direction, Russia frosted [partially froze – ed] the situation. Kiev is already not ours, but it’s not the West’s either. A wishy-washy regime is sat there, capable of surviving only at the expense of the West, compromising by the fact of its very existence the idea of the “western paradise” in the opinion of Ukrainians.

The actual state of affairs incontestably proves to most of the population: it was a nourishing, cheerful, and safe in the conditions of friendship with Russia, and the “breakthrough” towards the west turned the once prospering country into a bandit reserve, to live in which becomes more and more famishing, cold, and frightening year after year.

Fifthly, the information war is ensuring in relation to military-political operations. Its purpose can’t differ from military-political purposes. At this stage the task of militarily-politically destroying Ukraine hasn’t been set. On the contrary, there is a need to preserve its frosted [a partially frozen battlefield – ed] condition, which gives Russia the chance to reactivate the Ukrainian crisis when it will be favourable to it, but which in the meantime lets the Ukrainian regime remain on the balance sheet of the West. Therefore, efforts on the information front are also directed at this.

And should the need to shake-up the situation arise, then we will do it instantly.

The U.S. Has Always Backed Dictators. Trump’s Support for MBS is no Different

In his steadfast support for MBS, Trump is following a long tradition of US support for Arab autocrats, which in turn is used as the reason for violent terrorist organisations to target the US

By Madawi Al-Rasheed

December 14, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –   Last week, US President Donald Trump announced that the close US-Saudi partnership will continue, even after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and a CIA report that pointed the finger at Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) as the one who ordered the killing.

A longstanding US tradition

The president’s statement cited a combination of geostrategic and economic reasons to justify continuing his close alliance with a regime that had practised utter brutality at home and abroad. Trump highlighted the lucrative financial dividends of this partnership to the US economy, based on MBS’s promise of $450bn investment, including $100bn-plus of arms purchases.

The president also asserted that Saudi Arabia was central to containing Iran’s expansion in the Middle East and achieving peace with Israel.

Despite its shockingly frank nature, the president’s statement does not represent a major departure from previous US foreign policy but rather maintains a longstanding principle of supporting Arab dictators for specific strategic and economic reasons. What is different from previous US presidents is Trump’s uncomfortably explicit calculus.

No previous US president has flagged hard cash as the rationale for maintaining close ties with and even support for the Saudi leadership.

But rhetoric aside, Trump is remaining faithful to a longstanding tradition of US foreign policy that privileges economic and strategic interests over moral and ethical issues, sometimes referred to as realpolitik.

In the past, the US has occasionally expressed concern over severe human rights violations by their proteges but few would seriously expect President Trump to be troubled by the crimes of the Saudi regime.

Even if he admits that no one should condone such a murder, he was apparently comfortable endorsing the far-from-credible Saudi explanation for what happened at the consulate. He even provided a possible exit strategy for the Saudis when he said that the murder could be the work of“rogue killers”, thus providing a potential out for MBS, the de facto head of state and the security apparatus in Saudi Arabia.

Empowering dictators

Trump’s latest statement, that business as usual with Saudi Arabia is to be maintained, even if MBS “may or may not” have ordered the murder of Khashoggi, is certainly shocking for some American audiences. But for Arabs in general and Saudis in particular, the statement was expected, to say the least.

It confirmed their strong belief that the US prefers to work with autocrats than encourage them to democratise or at least restrain themselves from suffocating their people with draconian measures ranging from detention to murder.

US support for Arab dictators has been asserted as the casus belli by the most violent terrorist organisations to target the US. Osama bin Laden’s justification for hitting the “far enemy”, namely the US that supports the Saudi regime only echoed previous slogans of Arab nationalists, socialists and pro-democracy forces that blamed the US for the excesses of their regimes.

In their logic, US support empowers dictators not only through the transfer of the technology of death, surveillance and torture, but also morally and globally.

Even Trump himself admitted that without US support, the Saudi regime will collapse in two weeks. Former US intelligence officer Bruce Riedel confirmed that without US and UK support, the Saudis will not be able to continue the war in Yemen.

The likes of Bin Laden strongly believed this narrative long before it was uttered by the US president. Consequently, his network diverted its struggle against the near enemy to the far one and precipitated a global terrorist crisis that keeps resurfacing under different names. The Islamic State group (IS) was the most recent incarnation of this phenomenon but may not be the last.

Many Americans understandably feel uncomfortable with the president’s blunt words as they cling to a myth that American foreign policy should reflect American values, especially when a high-profile murder by a close partner is concerned.

However, like so-called ‘American exceptionalism’, American values, in the form of respect of civil, political and human rights, have not been an obvious principle guiding American foreign policy in the Arab world.

Also, such values are being eroded and undermined in the US itself under the ultra-nationalist and populist rhetoric of the current president.

The wrath of the people

Previous US presidents may not have liked Arab dictators but nonetheless lent them support, often in the form of military sales and assistance. The list is long.

Many Arab autocrats had the full support of previous American administrations despite the fact that domestically they violated their own peoples’ rights, including Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Zine Abedine Ben Ali of Tunisia, King Hamad bin Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, and at one moment Muammar Qaddafi of Libya came close to being an ally just before he faced an uprising in 2011

Until his fall in 1979, the US granted the Shah of Iran its ultimate support by making him the “policeman of the Gulf” to ward off and contain the spread of communism and nationalism at the time. His dramatic fall at the hands of his own people was shocking for both the US and its Western allies.

The message to the US at the time could not have been clearer: no amount of US support can protect a dictator from the wrath of his own people when the right moment comes. In fact, the US could not even protect its own Tehran Embassy where over 50 diplomats were held hostage for 444 days, an incident that four decades later still shapes and haunts US thinking about Iran.

Yet unconditional US support had always been the privilege of Saudi monarchs. The love affair with Saudi kings is based on expediency and interest rather than passionate conviction. US support was neither shaken nor reconsidered, at least in public, even after 15 Saudi hijackers attacked the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11

The US administration at the time meandered and left it to the US media and civil society to pressure the Saudi regime to change its policy of spreading lethal religious interpretations that had inspired a whole generation of Muslims across the globe and justified terrorism.

It is a cruel irony for the victims of this attack that Trump now considers the Saudi regime an indispensable partner against terrorism.

The face of Saudi Arabia

Even if Americans are not entirely comfortable with their government’s foreign policy of complete neglect for human rights and even direct support for MBS, despite his latest murderous adventure abroad, this is as nothing compared with Saudis living under the reality of one-man rule.

As MBS became the sole face of Saudi Arabia, in control of economic, military, security and social dimensions of government, he has exhibited complete disrespect for the basic semblance of tolerance towards critics, dissidents and activists.

Saudi Arabia has hardly been a safe haven for dissent but the magnitude of MBS’s ambition to reach the top of the royal hierarchy has turned Saudi Arabia into a murderous nightmare for anyone associated with dissent.

Under his orders, potential rival princes were detained, and a nascent feminist movement was stifled and its remaining advocates imprisoned and tortured according to a recent Amnesty report. Intellectuals and religious clerics were also imprisoned.

Prisoners of Conscie@m3takl_en

SEVERE TORTURE in the prison has caused lately the death of:
Shiekh Suleiman al-Dweesh
Journalist Turki al-Jasser
We warn of a possible deterioration and a possible death of one of the female activists who were tortured and sexually harassed !

97 people are talking about this
Vague charges such as communicating with foreign agents, treason, and undermining the image of the state are mentioned as justification for detention. These charges are more reminiscent of Stalin’s terror than a benevolent monarchy that Saudi propaganda would have us believe it is.

Almost all detained Saudi intellectuals are charged with treason and of being agents of foreign governments. From Salman al-Odah to economist Essam al-Zamil and feminist Lujain al-Huthloul, the word treason looms large and may lead to the death penalty. In fact, the Saudi public prosecutor called for such punishment to be inflicted on those detainees. The infamous office of the public prosecutor is also in charge of the investigation of Khashoggi’s murder.

Seeds of terror

Being “an enemy of the state” – to use Trump’s reiteration of what Saudi officials had told him about Khashoggi – is now a common crime investigated by appointed judges who enjoy no independence whatsoever. Trump seems comfortable with such a statement. Perhaps “enemy of the state” reflects or mirrors his own thinking about anybody who criticises a president, a king or a crown prince.

Saudis know very well that US support for MBS will not waiver as they are fed on propaganda that money buys everything – from mighty fighter jets used against their poorest Yemeni neighbours, to the US president’s silence over one of the most horrific crimes committed against a journalist.

Trump will cling to MBS even if the latter becomes more burdensome. If there is a chance for so-called “American values” to become relevant to foreign policy, it is the US Congress that will have to push for a reconsideration of the age-old US support for dictators. This should spring not out of concern for the safety and security of the Saudi people, but for their own American national security.

Congress must know that under the dark and repressive cloak of MBS, the flamboyant and illusory economic plans, and the veneer of social liberalisation, the seeds of terror are sown. In the past this terror has spilled over and reached the US itself. For the present, there is little to assure the American public that it won’t happen again.

– Professor Madawi al-Rasheed is a visiting professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics. She has written extensively about the Arabian Peninsula, Arab migration, globalisation, religious transnationalism and gender. On Twitter: @MadawiDr

This article was originally published by Middle East Eye” 

‘New World Order’ Wine Pompoured into a Pro-‘Sovereignty’ Rhetorical Bottle

‘New World Order’ Wine Pompoured into a Pro-‘Sovereignty’ Rhetorical Bottle

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS | 15.12.2018

‘New World Order’ Wine Pompoured into a Pro-‘Sovereignty’ Rhetorical Bottle

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began his December 4 speech in Brussels at the German Marshall Fund with “a well-deserved tribute to America’s 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush,” whom he praised as “an unyielding champion of freedom around the world.” It was fitting that he did so. The heart and soul of Pompeo’s remarks extolling the return of “the United States to its traditional, central leadership role in the world” were little more than a rehash of Bush the Elder’s aggressive internationalism.

Pompeo (or his speechwriter) should be given credit for a masterpiece of misdirection. While the substance of his speech was a blast of stale air from the 1990s, the rhetoric was all Trumpism and national sovereignty – but only for countries obedient to Washington: “Our mission is to reassert our sovereignty, reform the liberal international order, and we want our friends to help us and to exert their sovereignty as well.”

What about the sovereignty of countries the US doesn’t count as “friends”? Well, that’s a different story: “Every nation – every nation – must honestly acknowledge its responsibilities to its citizens and ask if the current international order serves the good of its people as well as it could. And if not, we must ask how we can right it.” [emphasis added]

So according to Pompeo, the United States and our vassals (“we”) have an obligation (“must”) to fix international actors that in our infinite wisdom are not serving “the good of their people.” For example, “Russia hasn’t embraced Western values of freedom and international cooperation.” (Why should Russia care what “we” think of its values – and why should its values be “western,” anyway? Never mind! We “must” do something about it!)

This assertion constitutes not only a right but a duty of the US to dictate not only the external policies of every country on the planet but even their internal order as well if judged by all-knowing Washington to be insufficiently serving the good of their people. This means that some countries (the US and our “friends”) are sovereign, but countries we deem to be failing their people are not. Even Leon Trotsky would shrink from making such a declaration.

This alone gives the lie to the claims of the Swamp-critters Trump has put in charge of his administration that the US is “only” trying to impact behavior. (As in Pompeo’s “We welcomed China into the liberal order, but never policed its behavior.” So now we’re the police too.)

Would the Russians meet Pompeo’s standard if, say, they returned Crimea to Ukraine (presumably over the strong objections of the large majority of its residents who voted to join Russia)? Of course not. Russia would still be our No. 1 enemy.

What if the Russians “admitted” to Pompeo’s self-certifying accusations of violations of the INF Treaty and Chemical Weapons Convention, and then took the actions the US demands? Not good enough.

Maybe a gay parade through Red Square to show love of “Western values”? Getting warmer, but still no …

Admittedly, this arrogant attitude of being both the big player on the geopolitical field as well as the globocop referee (and enforcer) didn’t originate with Pompeo. Let’s recall how George H. W. Bush described America’s mission in his 1991 State of the Union:

‘What is at stake is more than one small country [.i.e., Kuwait], it is a big idea – a new world order, where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind: peace and security, freedom, and the rule of law. Such is a world worthy of our struggle, and worthy of our children’s future. … The world can therefore seize this opportunity to fulfill the long-held promise of a new world order – where brutality will go unrewarded, and aggression will meet collective resistance. Yes, the United States bears a major share of leadership in this effort. Among the nations of the world, only the United States of America has had both the moral standing, and the means to back it up. We are the only nation on this earth that could assemble the forces of peace.’

Notably missing is any concern about the United States itself, the security of our own borders and territory, and the welfare and prosperity of the American people. Instead American “leadership” is needed to usher in a globalist utopia defined by Goodthink “universal aspirations of mankind: peace and security, freedom, and the rule of law.”

One would think that at this point in the 21st century people would be wary of regurgitated Leninist claptrap, especially since it has dominated US policy for almost three decades. It’s all here:

  • Democratic centralism (which is NATO’s operating principle: there’s democratic debate until the US decides, after which there’s centralism; US “allies” in NATO have less independence than members of the Warsaw Pact did).
  • The bipartisan establishment would never admit that killing millions of people is a valid way to bring about utopia, but they have been willing to do just that in wars of choice in the Greater Middle East (including the Balkans and Afghanistan) and willing to risk far, far more deaths by pushing Russia (and China) to the brink. This is facilitated by sophisticated information control with features such as “atrocity porn” that acts as a transmission belt.

Not only is all of this Bolshevik to the core, much of it is specifically Trotskyite. That’s literally true at least for the influence of the neoconservative movement as it developed originally out of the exodus of Max Schachtman and his followers, who were expelled from the official US communist party in 1928, and then went through several party name changes, finally ending up as Social Democrats USA. As Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com summarizes it:

‘ …[T]here is plenty to see, first and foremost the Trotskyist DNA embedded in the neocon foreign policy prescription… The Trotskyists argued that the Communist Revolution of 1917 could not and should not be contained within the borders of the Soviet Union. Today’s neocons make the same argument about the need to spread the American system until the U.S. becomes a “global hegemon,” as Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol puts it. Trotsky argued that socialism in one country was impossible, and doomed to failure: encircled by capitalism, surrounded by enemies constantly plotting its downfall, the “workers state” would not survive if it didn’t expand. The neocons are making a similar argument when it comes to liberal democracy. Confronted by an Islamic world wholly opposed to modernity, Western liberal democracy must implant itself in the Middle East by force – or else face defeat in the “war on terrorism.” Expand or die is the operative principle, and the neocons brought this Trotskyist mindset with them from the left.’

Very few Americans who don’t themselves come from far-left and émigré fever swamps have much of an idea of any this to this very day. Starting in earnest in the 1980s under Reagan, large numbers of neocons, who had previously styled themselves Henry “Scoop” Jackson Democrats, began to enter the governing apparatus on the strength of their intellectual and academic credentials and their strong anti-Sovietism. Regarding the neocons’s hostility to the USSR, originally an expression of their anti-Stalinism, “regular” Americans conservatives, whose own moral views were closer to ordinary Americans’, mistook it for simple anti-communism. Little did most of them suspect that the neocons were even more devoted to world revolution than was Brezhnev’s Politburo, and that to them the US was little more than a base of operations, just as the Bolsheviks had earlier viewed Russia.

The neocons’ influence leveled out but did not disappear under the presidency of George H.W. Bush (1989-1993), to whose credit also has some balance from relative “realists” like Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker. However, neocons were able to make major gains under Bill Clinton (1993-2001) in alliance with so-called “liberal internationalists” like Madeleine Albright, Strobe Talbott, Richard Holbrooke – and of course Hillary Clinton. While reflecting somewhat different priorities (notably on the mix between America as the engine of world revolution vs. the role of the United Nations), the neocons and liberal internationalists found common ground in so-called “humanitarian interventionism,” notably in the Balkans. The neocons’ only criticism of Clinton’s in Bosnia and Kosovo (and later of Obama’s in Libya and Syria) was not being militant enough; accordingly the neocons (mostly outside of the Executive Branch in those years but well-represented on Capitol Hill and in think tanks) helped the liberal internationalists beat back partisan Republican and residual realist skepticism for Clinton’s wars.

When the GOP again controlled the White House under George W. Bush (2001-2009), the liberal internationalists returned the favor by whipping up Democratic support for the invasion of Iraq. By that time the neocons were in virtually total control of the Republican’s foreign policy in powerful alliance with representatives of the Deep State complex centered on the Pentagon and military industries. This latter group, known as the “Vulcans,” included people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, and Condoleezza Rice. Then, when the Democrats took over again under Barack Hussein Obama (2009-2017), the liberal internationalists’ militancy was championed by a “triumfeminate” of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power (known as the “genocide chick”), under whom “responsibility to protect” (R2P) became a dominant principle of US policy, again with vocal neocon support.

With Donald Trump’s election, it was hoped by many of his supporters that his “America First” views and stated desire to get along with Russia and to get the US out of places like Afghanistan and Syria, as well as his criticism of NATO, signaled a sharp departure from the influence of the neocons and their liberal interventionist and Vulcan allies. Alas, that was not to be. As Pompeo’s Max-Schachtman-masquerading-as-Pat-Buchanan speech shows, the neocon/Deep State lock remains on a policy that hurtles heedlessly forward towards disaster.

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