“IF YOU LIKED WHAT WE DID TO THE MIDDLE EAST, YOU’LL LOVE WHAT WE’RE ABOUT TO DO TO LATIN AMERICA”

“If You Liked What We Did To The Middle East, You’ll LOVE What We’re About To Do To Latin America”

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Latin America in the Crosshairs

Latin America has been regarded as the exclusive stomping ground of US economic interests, US military, and US intelligence services for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, to the point that the US public has grown to view meddling in its neighbors’ domestic politics as some sort of birthright which is still faintly rooted in the 19th century “white man’s burden” racialist policies. That the majority of Democratic Party presidential candidates supports the military coup in Bolivia, the escalating repressions in Chile, and the plundering of Brazil by the Bolsonaro regime is actually unremarkable in that regard. Such policies have long been the norm.

However, if one were to take a quick survey of recent developments in the “information battlefield” in the United States, one would be struck by the rapid elevation of Latin America as a place where direct US military action is needed. It is not just Trump who, in the aftermath of an apparently cartel-related murder of an American Mormon family in Mexico, “offered” Mexico the “help” of the US military in fighting the cartels. The latest boy-wonder of the US Establishment, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg likewise allowed he is “open” to the idea of sending US troops to Mexico. Neither of these statements was seen as in any way controversial by the mainstream media—even though the US public is broadly anti-war and skeptical of additional international entanglements, the Washington Establishment views the sovereignty of other countries as nothing more than legal fiction.

These politicians’ statements do not stand in isolation. Hollywood has long been “joined at the hip” with the US national security establishment and can be always relied upon to propagate the latest set of Washington talking points. While Russian villains remain the staple of US movies and video games, Latin America is gradually reclaiming its role as a battlefield and source of threats to the United States which it lost after 9/11. There are now at least two currently running US TV series which specifically focus on direct US interventions in Latin America. America’s favorite CIA analyst Jack Ryan (who, it should be noted, became President on the pages of Tom Clancy’s novels after the rest of the US government was conveniently eliminated by a Boeing 747 flown into the Capitol  by a suicide pilot) is now bravely thwarting Russian plots in Venezuela. Going considerably further, Last Ship’s current season actually posits the emergence of Gran Colombia, a veritable Latin American empire which launches a Pearl Harbor-style surprise air raid which destroys the just-rebuilt US Navy with the assistance of a cyber-strike. In retaliation, United States employs the full range of its conventional capabilities, starting with CIA covert operatives working with some modern equivalent of the Nicaraguan Contras whose connections to the drug cartels are not even concealed, and ending with US Marines landing on the shores of Latin American countries in order to “liberate” them from their own governments.

There are other indications US establishment is bracing for a major deterioration of the political situation “south of the border”, up to and including a major refugee crisis comparable to what Europe has experienced. While Donald Trump has been roundly condemned for his immigration policies, particularly the deportations of Latin American refugees, the construction of a major barrier on the US-Mexico border, and the efforts to transform Mexico into a holding tank for refugees seeking admission into the United States, no senior Democratic Party politician or candidate has promised to reverse these policies.

From the Shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma?

The rekindling of interest in Latin America is a logical consequences of the drift toward a global multi-polar system. It means, first, a retrenchment in the Middle East due to the demonstrated power of Russia and China which has proved sufficient to thwart not only covert US plots but also overt uses of economic and military capabilities. This power transition has meant that even long-standing US allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are adopting a multi-vector foreign policy no longer wholly centered on their relationship with the United States. It certainly does not help that the United States has proved of limited utility in resolving the many international conflicts and rivalries in that region, not only the obvious Iran-Saudi Arabia one, but also the lower-intensity Saudi Arabia—Turkey one. Since Russia is literally the only international power capable to credibly negotiate with each of these three regional rivals, its reputation as an honest broker backed up by non-trivial “hard power” has elevated its standing in the region to the detriment of the United States.

The second implication is an even closer binding of Latin American states to the United States, with the remarkably compliant Organization of American States (OAS) which has never seen a military coup it did not like, serving as the overt instrument of control. Conversely, regional organizations which have proven resistant to US control such as Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America-Trade between Peoples (ALBA-TCP) and  the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), both of which actually condemned the coup in Bolivia in strong terms, will find themselves the target of US pressure. Post-coup Bolivia’s announced departure from both of these organizations is unlikely to be an aberration, particularly since it follows on the heels of Lenin Moreno’s Ecuador’s departure from ALBA in 2018. The remaining ALBA states include Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela (in addition to several small island states), all of which are continuing targets of US regime change policies.

UNASUR also appears headed for extinction. As many as six countries, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru, suspended their membership in 2018. Chile moreover launched PROSUR, an organization explicitly intended to target Venezuela, with the initial states invited to join the new organization being  Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana and Suriname, none of which can be described as pursuing policies contrary to US wishes.

Good-bye NAFTA, Hello USMC!

Trump Administration’s regional trade war that resulted in the launch of the US, Mexico, Canada (hence the “USMC” abbreviation) intended to replace the North America Free Trade Association (NAFTA) is indicative of the future US policy course. It’s doubtful few in the region failed to note the new trade pact’s abbreviation is exactly the same as that of the US Marine Corps which has a long and dark history of invasions and occupations of Latin American states. Consistent with the plot of “Last Ship”, USMC will find itself once again the final arbiter of trade arrangements in Latin America in the #MAGA era that will not end with Trump.

Economic developments in countries that have suffered right-wing regime shifts in the last few years show the direction in which Latin America will evolve. In Brazil, Boeing was allowed to acquire the commercial aircraft division of EMBRAER which hitherto was able to compete, as an independent actor, against both Boeing and Airbus even in their own home markets. The more strengthens Boeing by making it more competitive against Airbus in certain niches it lacked, and strips Brazil of a major industrial asset. Bolsonaro also aims to privatize another of Brazil’s economic “crown jewels”, the Petrobras energy firm which is all but guaranteed to fall into the hands of Washington-favored energy firms.  US interest in the lithium reserves in Bolivia and neighboring countries has also been well documented. Preventing Morales’ Bolivia from entering into a development deal with China was one of the main motives behind the coup. Like Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Moreno’s Ecuador is pursuing plans to allow oil drilling in the Amazon region.

 The Ghost of Che

The famed Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara suffered a heroic death in Bolivia, attempting to mobilize an indigenous rebellion against the post-conquistador elite. The inevitable backlash to the ever more evident US efforts to ruthlessly exploit Latin America in order to compensate for the loss of influence and business elsewhere in the world means that the United States will find itself with several insurgencies and refugee crises not halfway around the world but in its own geopolitical backyard, whose intensity will eclipse the Cold War-era struggles.  Should United States insist on pursuing its current course, it risks losing power and influence in Latin America in the same way as it did in the Middle East.

The Explosion in Lebanon Has Been Delayed: Until When?

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By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

Europe is concerned about the Lebanese political crisis and its potential spillover consequences in case of a civil confrontation. Even if the European states do not have differing strategic objectives in Lebanon from the US, a civil war will affect Europe directly, as refugees will be flocking from the neighbouring continent.

Reaching an agreement over a new government to prevent further unrest is proving difficult. Sources in Beirut believe it may take several months to form a new government, as was the case in forming the last government. Some wonder if it might not be better to wait for the results of the US elections before forming a new government. Or perhaps a new government will only emerge after a major security event, like the assassination of the late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri which triggered a political tsunami in the country. All indications on the ground point to the prospect of a civilian confrontation arising from the absence of a robust central government that can take in hand the security of the country. Can Lebanon avoid a civil confrontation?

The closure of the main roads and the “deliberate” incompetence and inaction of the security forces – due to US requests to tolerate the closure of main axes linking Lebanon with the capital – is no longer a surprising behaviour.

The main roads now closed have been carefully selected: closed are the roads linking the south of Lebanon to Beirut and linking Baalbek and the road to Damascus with the capital Beirut. These areas are mainly inhabited and used by Shia. The roads are being blocked mainly in certain sectarian areas controlled by Sunni supporters of the caretaker Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Druse ally Walid Joumblat. The closure of other roads in the Christian dominated Dbayeh by the pro-US Christian leader Samir Geagea, leader of the “Lebanese Forces”, and in Tripoli seem to be kind of diversions of attention from the main goal: challenging Hezbollah.

Sources in Beirut believe the objective is to exasperate the Shia who represent the society that protects Hezbollah. The goal is to force the organisation into the streets. Hezbollah is aware of this and is trying to avoid responding to provocations. The closure of these roads is an invitation to Hezbollah to take the situation in hand and direct its weapon against other Lebanese citizens, as indeed happened on the 5th of May 2008.

In 2008, Druse minister Marwan Hamadé – directed by Walid Joumblat – and pro-US Prime Minister Fouad Siniora asked Hezbollah to cut its fibreoptic private communication system linking all corners of the country. Israel never ceased to monitor the Hezbollah cable that, due to its high-security system and regular control, had managed to neutralise all Israeli tapping devices attached to it by Israeli Special forces during their infiltration to Lebanon for this exact purpose. An effort was made by the Lebanese government in May 2008 to cut the cable to break through Hezbollah’s high-security system, the key to its command and control in time of peace and especially in time of war. This insistent attempt – despite repeated warnings – provoked two days later a demonstration of force by Hezbollah occupying the entire capital in a few hours with no serious victims. Lebanese pro-US armed mercenaries who gathered and hid in Beirut to trigger a civil war on this day, anticipating Hezbollah’s possible reaction, were neutralised in no time despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on their supposed readiness for war against Hezbollah in the streets of Beirut.

Today, the goal is to see Hezbollah controlling the streets and arming anti-government Syrians and Lebanese. The goal is to take the Lebanon issue to the United Nations so as to justify a foreign intervention. The aim is not to see Hezbollah defeated by the initial clashes; the firepower, training and military organisation of Hezbollah cannot be defeated by enthusiastic mercenaries and locals. The aim is to deprive Hezbollah of its legitimacy and pay a heavy price for its “unforgivable” victories in Syria and Iraq and its support to the Palestinians and the Yemeni.

Lebanon’s financial problems are not the primary issue. In Congressional testimony, the former US Under Secretary of State and Ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffery Feltman, told the US Congress that “Lebanon’s entire external debt (around $35 billion) is in line with the estimates of what Saudi Arabia is bleeding every year in pursuing a war in Yemen ($25-$40 billion).”

Regional and international financial support to Lebanon will be injected with one purpose: to trigger a civil war in the hope of defeating Hezbollah in the long term. This might also save Israel from a severe political crisis by provoking a war against Lebanon rather than an internal conflict among Israelis, as seems possible after two failed attempts to form a government.

Most Lebanese are aware of the sensitive and critical situation in the country. Most fear a civil war, particularly in view of the behaviour of the Lebanese Army and other security forces who are now standing idle and yet refusing to keep all roads open. These actions by the security forces are greatly contributing to the possibility of an internal conflict.

Sincere protestors with only a domestic agenda have managed to achieve miracles by crossing all sectarian boundaries and carrying one flag: an end to corruption and associated poverty and the return of stolen capital to Lebanon. Protestors are asking the judiciary system to assume its responsibility and for the country to head towards a secular ruling system. But sectarian elements and foreign intervention are managing to divert attention from the real national demands that have been overwhelming the Lebanese since decades.

The foreign intervention is not relying on the justified demands of protestors in its confrontation with Hezbollah. It is relying on sectarian Lebanese who want to contribute to the fall of Hezbollah from the inside. This is not surprising because Lebanon is a platform where the US, EU, and Saudis are strongly present and active against the Axis of Resistance led by Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Hussein Salame warned in his most recent speech that these countries risk “crossing the line”.

Since the “Islamic Revolution” in 1979 Iran has not initiated a military or preventive war on its neighbours, but has limited its action to defending itself and in building its “Axis of Resistance”. Recently, Iran proposed – to no avail – a HOPE (Hormuz Peace Endeavor) to its neighbours, seeking a commitment to the security of the Middle East separately from any US intervention.

Iran defeated the mainstream international community when it helped prevent the fall of the government in Damascus after years of war. It has effectively supported Hezbollah and the Palestinians against Israel, favoured ally of the US; Iran stood next to Iraq and prevented a hostile government reaching power; Iran has also supported the defence of Yemen against Saudi Arabia’s useless and destructive war. Iran’s enemies are numerous and have not given up. They tried but failed to achieve their objectives in 2006 in Lebanon, in 2011 in Syria, in 2014 in Iraq and in 2015 in Yemen. Today a new approach is being implemented to defeat Iran’s allies: the weaponization of domestic unrests, motivated by legitimate anti-corruption demands for reform, at the cost of “incinerating” entire countries, i.e. Lebanon and Iraq.

Protestors have failed to offer a feasible plan themselves and caretaker Prime Minister Hariri is trying to punch above his parliamentary weight by seeking to remove political opponents who control more than half of the parliament. Lebanon has reached a crossroads where an exchange of fire is no longer excluded. The conflict has already claimed lives. Thanks to manipulation, Lebanon seems to be headed towards self-destruction.

Proofread by C.G.B and Maurice Brasher

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Blinded Palestinian Journalist Exposes Israel’s Increasing Violence Against Media

Muath Amarneh Feature photo

Blinded Palestinian Journalist Exposes Israel’s Increasing Violence Against Media

On November 15, Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh covered a demonstration in Surif, a West Bank city where residents were protesting against the theft of their land by Israeli settlers. Wearing a press jacket and helmet, Amarneh was shot in the head by an Israeli bullet while taking pictures on a nearby hill — about 330 feet from the soldiers.

“Everything just changed. I felt the whole world was circling around me. And I felt my whole life flash before me. I felt like I was dying,” Amarneh said, describing his reaction when hit.

With blood dripping from his eye, Amarneh was taken to a hospital in Hebron, West Bank. He was eventually transported to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem where his left eye was removed. He remains there awaiting further operations to have the bullet removed from his head. 

Videos and photos capturing Amarneh after the bullet pierced his eye went viral online. Using the hashtags #MuathEye#EyeofTruth and #MuathAmarneh, “journalists across the world posted images of themselves with an eyepatch or one hand over their eye as a way to stand in solidarity with Amarneh.

Increasing Israeli violations against Palestinian press

After being shot, Israeli soldiers rushed to Amarneh claiming he wasn’t hit by one of their bullets but rather with stones thrown by protesters, but Amarneh was behind a line of demonstrators hurling stones.

“The army told me that, “This is not from us. This is from the people who are protesting and throwing stones. It’s the Palestinian who threw stones at you. It’s not a bullet from us,” Amarneh said.

Israeli police said they used “non-lethal means” to “disperse the rioters.” “The use of the non-lethal means was not directed at all at the photographer, and his injury could have been caused by the violent rioters,” Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police’s foreign press spokesperson, said.

Palestinian journalists take cover from tear gas shot by Israeli police during a solidarity protest on November 17, 2019 in Bethlehem. Photo | Musa Al-Shaer

However, Amarneh believes he was directly attacked by Israeli forces.

Four days before Amarneh lost his eye, Omar al-Badawi was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers during clashes near Hebron. Video captured al-Badawi as he was shot in the chest by Israeli forces. Soldiers claimed they assumed al-Badawi was carrying a molotov cocktail, but he was merely holding a towel to extinguish a fire engulfing a tree near his home. Amarneh was one of the journalists who documented al-Badawi’s murder.

“After what happened, the Israeli army really doesn’t want journalists to show the world what’s going on,” Amarneh said. He feels that since al-Badawi’s killing was broadcast globally, the Israeli army is intensifying its crackdown on Palestinian journalists. He mentioned how an area in Bethlehem designated for journalists for years by the Israeli military is now an unwelcome location.

“This Thursday, they started telling journalists that if you stay in this place, we will arrest you,” Amarneh said, describing how the soldiers pushed the journalists and seized their cameras.

The following Sunday after Amarneh was shot, Palestinian journalists held a sit-in in Bethlehem to express their support. Israel Police dispersed the crowd using tear gas, with dozens of demonstrators suffocating from tear gas inhalation and seven individuals lightly wounded.

Israeli polcie grab a member of The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate during a solidarity protest on November 17, 2019, in Bethlehem. Photo | Musa Al-Shaer

On Wednesday, the Israeli army closed the office of Palestine Television in Jerusalem for six months after storming Al-ArzMedia Services Company which provides services to Palestine TV.

Mousa Rimawi, Director General of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), believes the Israeli army targeted Amarneh.

“I think they are targeting him. Witnesses say that. He said that. This is not the first time they are targeting journalists,” Rimawai said.

We saw it in Gaza, especially last year. When the Israeli army was targeting journalists, killing two of them and injuring tens of journalists by snipers.”

In 2018, Palestinian journalists Yasser Murtaja and Ahmad Hassan Abu Hussein were killed by Israeli snipers just one week apart from each other while covering the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border.

According to The Palestinian Center Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), 455 Israeli violations and 129 Palestinian violations occurred against Palestinian journalists in 2018  — a more than 52 percent increase in the last two years. During the first half of 2019, 330 violations were documented against Palestinian media  — a 19 percent increase from the same period last year. The majority of these violations comprise physical abuse, arrests or detentions, questioning, preventing coverage and shutting down websites and social media accounts.

Palestinian journalists

Palestinian journalists help a colleague injured during a solidarity protest on November 17, 2019 in Bethlehem. Photo | Musa Al-Shaer

“They want to silence this media who is covering the events relating to the Israeli occupation and to cover their crimes and daily practices in Palestine,” Rimawi said.

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) places the number of violations in 2019 higher, at more than 630, with 90 percent of reported attacks executed by Israel. Musa Al-Shaer, a board member of PJS, said MADA’s calculation is lower because they adjust the statistics in order to receive financial aid from the international community.

 

Facebook’s censorship of Palestinian media

Of the 330 documented violations by MADA, 65 of them were committed by Facebook. In 2016, the Israeli government and Facebook announced they were working together to combat incitement on social media. The driving force behind this partnership was Israel’s accusation that Palestinian violence is fueled by incitement online.

“After that announcement, Facebook began to block Palestinian sites for journalists and media outlets,” Rimawi said. He explained that Facebook has adopted Israel’s definition of incitement when deciding what content to censor. But going by Israel’s standards poses a problem for Palestinians.

“If someone posts a picture of a martyr, that’s incitement for Israelis, but for Palestinians that is normal. You could be posting a picture of your cousin who is a martyr,” Rimawi said.

Palestinians call those who died resisting the Israeli occupation “martyrs”, while Israelis refer to them as terrorists. He mentioned that words like Hamas (which literally translates to excitement in Arabic) and Qassam, the name of the military wing of Hamas, are consistently flagged. In some instances, a person named Qassam might end up with a deactivated Facebook account.

Facebook censorship of Palestinian media is increasing, and Israel appears to be the one steering the wheel. In 2017, 85 percent of Israeli government requests to “remove content deemed harmful or dangerous” was approved.

“We know Israel is pressuring other social media sites like Instagram and Twitter, but there are no agreements between them and Israel,” Rimawi said. “But with Facebook there is.”

 

Paving the way for Palestinian freedom of press

Amid a sharp rise in violations against Palestinian journalists, MADA is working with other civil society organizations to build a coalition to defend freedom of expression and digital freedom in Palestine. The coalition plans to tackle legislation, government policies, monitoring press freedom, Israeli violations and Facebook restrictions.

“It’s a good thing when people will not be silent, when countries will not be silent when there’s killing of journalists. But it must be linked with policies,” Rimawi said.

Muath Amarneh

Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh lies injured in his hospital bed in Jerusalem. Photo | Delilah Boxstein

Amarneh has frequently experienced Israeli abuse in his ten years of working as a journalist. He was previously shot multiple times by rubber bullets on the lower parts of his body and fired at by water cannons. But this recent attack was the most severe.

Amarneh is currently focused on his recovery but asserts he will seek legal action when he is healed. Despite the trauma of losing his eye, he still plans to continue reporting.

“I won’t stop being a journalist but now I feel unsafe,” Amarneh said. “They could attack my other eye. It will be harder for me to continue what I am doing.”

Feature photo | Palestinian photojournalist Mu’ath Amarneh, seated on the left, moments after being shot in the left eye by an Israeli soldier in Surif, West Bank on November 15, 2019. Photo | Palestinian Information Center

Trump Accepts Israeli ‘Realities on Ground’ – Realities Funded by His Administration

Image result for Trump Accepts Israeli ‘Realities on Ground’ – Realities Funded by His Administration
Finian Cunningham 
November 21, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week announced yet another radical shift in Washington’s policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by way of saying that the United States “was accepting realities on the ground”.

What the mendacious and cynical Pompeo omits to add is that the Trump administration has been dramatically fueling the change in “realities” – specifically the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory and the demolition of Palestinian homes.

This week the top US diplomat declared that Washington would no longer adopt the international consensus position, backed by several UN resolutions, that Israeli settlement-building and occupation of Palestinian territory was a violation of international law. Washington is henceforth recognizing Israeli settlements as legitimate.

The move overturns more than four decades of official US policy which adhered to the UN-backed position of condemning Israeli occupation in the Palestinian West Bank and in East Jerusalem as illegal and a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Since the 1967 Six War, successive Israeli governments have overseen a relentless process of annexing Palestinian territory. Over that period, Palestinian lands have diminished and become increasingly fragmented with little contiguity that would be normal for a future state. There are estimated to be around 200 Israeli new-build settlements of towns and villages with a population of 600,000 Jewish settlers who have usurped Palestinian land and properties. The UN has repeatedly condemned the annexation and occupation as illegal, to no avail.

The latest move by the Trump administration is a flagrant repudiation of UN resolutions and international law. It follows previous declarations by President Trump recognizing Israeli claims to Jerusalem as its capital, as well as Israel’s annexation of Syrian territory in the Golan Heights.

“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” said Pompeo on Monday. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”

That is an astounding dereliction of international law by the American government. The “hard truth” that Pompeo ignores is that US administrations have constantly undermined “judicial resolution of the conflict” because they have, to varying degrees, over the decades pandered to Israeli criminal occupation of Palestinian lands.

What the Trump administration is doing is not entirely unprecedented. Successive American presidents have merely paid lip service to a supposed peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, declaring their support for a “two-state solution” and presenting Washington as some kind of “honest broker”. The reality is that Washington has consistently undermined Palestinian national rights by its systematic bias towards Israel, indulging the latter’s criminal policies of occupation and military aggression towards Palestinian population.

However, Trump and his coterie of Middle East aides have taken the American bias and complicity with Israel to naked levels. Part of that is no doubt payback for the multi-million-dollar funding of Trump’s 2016 election campaign by Jewish-American billionaire and arch-Zionist Sheldon Adelson.

Israeli peace groups have recorded a surge in Israeli expansion of settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past three years of the Trump administration. Demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli bulldozers are at a record high.

There is an imperative business reason for this. President Donald Trump has personally invested in Israeli settlements, as have his ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and the White House’s special envoy to the region, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

One of those settlements is at Beit El which is described as “one of the most aggressive” in terms of expansionist scope. It overlooks the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank which is supposed to be the administrative seat of the Palestinian Authority.

Trump, Friedman and the Kushner family have in the past funneled millions of dollars into Beit El and other Israeli settlements. In return, Israeli financial companies have made huge investments in Jared Kushner’s family real-estate business back in the US. For example, Menora Mivtachim, a pension and insurance firm, invested $30 million in apartments in Maryland owned by the Kushner family.

Jared Kushner officially stepped away from his family’s property conglomerate when he was appointed by his father-in-law as special envoy on the Middle East “peace process”. But few would believe his future wealth will not benefit from investments in and from Israel. He is still a beneficiary of trusts that have holdings in Kushner properties, notes Haaretz newspaper.

It seems incredible given this blatant conflict of interest that Kushner has been tasked with producing a “peace plan” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which Trump had previously boasted about as being the “deal of the century”. That plan has since wilted to non-existence. The media don’t even talk about its expected publication, so far off the radar is it.

The latest move by the Trump administration to effectively reward and accelerate further Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory has American self-interest and profit written all over it. It mirrors Trump’s declaration in March this year recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, where there is irrefutable evidence that Trump and the Zionist clique in the White House have major business interests in oil exploration and production in that contested region.

Russia warned this week that Washington’s policy is inflaming further conflict amid an intensification of air strikes by Israel on Gaza where more than 30 people have been killed over the past week, including one Palestinian family of three adults and five children. The bloodshed makes Pompeo’s announcement all the more repulsive.

The Arab League and the European Union have also condemned the unilateral rejection of international law by the US. Jordan, Egypt and other Arab states said the United States has forfeited its right to act as a peace broker in the region.

The “reality on the ground” – to use a talking point favored by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and now Mike Pompeo – is that the US is an accomplice in Israel’s illegal occupation and war crimes. Even more heinous, the US policy is being driven by Trump’s family business profits.

The Lebanese Color Revolution Is a Defining Moment for the Resistance

Global Research, November 21, 2019
Image result for feltman march 14 movement

What originally began as an expression of legitimate outrage at the Mideast country’s dysfunctional government and endemic corruption quickly transformed into a Color Revolution aimed at carrying out regime change in Lebanon through the removal of Hezbollah from its government, the threat of which makes this a defining moment for the Resistance because its supporters’ loyalty is being tested to the core.

Lebanon is undoubtedly in the throes of an ongoing Color Revolution that’s already succeeded in securing the resignation of Prime Minister Hariri in response to large-scale protests against the Mideast country’s dysfunctional government and endemic corruption, sparked as they were by a proposed tax on WhatsApp calls that served as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The unrest has been condemned by two key members of the Resistance, Ayatollah Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, who warned against the participants becoming useful idiots in the US, “Israel“, and the GCC’s plot against their homeland. The first-mentioned tweeted that “I recommend those who care in #Iraq and #Lebanon remedy the insecurity and turmoil created in their countries by the U.S., the Zionist regime, some western countries, and the money of some reactionary countries. The people have justifiable demands, but they should know their demands can only be fulfilled within the legal structure and framework of their country. When the legal structure is disrupted in a country, no action can be carried out”, while the second urged his supporters to stay away from the scene of the disturbances and emphasized how much the government’s fall could destabilize their fragile country.

Nevertheless, the situation still remains unresolved despite Hariri’s resignation, and ever-louder demands have made within Lebanon and through some Alt-Media outlets that Hezbollah should leave the government in order to resolve the crisis. The Resistance group, which functions as a socio-political and military force, had nothing to do with the trigger event that sparked this explosion of unrest, though the very fact that it’s now increasingly being targeted for removal from its elected positions in the government proves that there are forces that had intended for this to be the outcome all along when they encouraged the unfolding of events there. It shouldn’t be forgotten that US Secretary of State Pompeo ominously hinted at an ultimatum being made to Lebanon during his visit there in March when he thundered that “Lebanon faces a choice; bravely move forward as an independent and proud nation or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your future”, which strongly suggests that the US at the very least tacitly has a hand in guiding developments to that aforementioned end. What’s so disturbing about the latest narrative twist is that it appears to have the support of a critical mass of protesters, including those who have outwardly supported Hezbollah prior to this moment but evidently harbored deep feelings of antipathy towards it that are only now being publicly expressed through this “anti-corruption” “populist” pretext.

It’s impossible to accurately generalize every one of these supposed Resistance supporters feels this way, though sharing some plausible explanations could nevertheless still help to make sense of this previously unexpected trend. Hezbollah’s military might is appreciated by most patriotic Lebanese after it liberated their country from “Israeli” occupation in 2000 and prevented a second such occupation in 2006, though some look suspiciously upon its social activities because they wrongly interpret them through a sectarian lense. In addition, the group’s involvement in fighting terrorism in Syria side-by-side with the IRGC reinforced the weaponzied fake news perception among some that Hezbollah is just an “Iranian proxy”. These growing doubts about the group’s long-term strategic intentions might not have been able to be publicly expressed in such a direct way without risk of receiving accusations that the person voicing such views is unpatriotic, hence why they may have hitherto been outwardly supportive of Hezbollah despite internally cultivating hatred towards the organization and waiting for the “opportune” moment to express it in a way that couldn’t be as easily framed as part of a self-serving sectarian agenda on their part. That chance arrived when the proposed WhatsApp tax served as the catalyst for large-scale protests against the government as a whole, during which time it became “acceptable” among some to attack Hezbollah for its supposedly “corrupt” alliance with certain political forces.

It should be said at this point that Hezbollah is a responsible stakeholder in Lebanon’s stability and therefore understands the need to make tactical decisions in pursuit of the larger strategic end of preventing external forces from driving wedges between the country’s cosmopolitan socio-religious groups, hence why it’s entered into the certain political partnerships that it’s had out of its interest in working within the legal system to carry out responsible reforms to the best of its ability. These noble intentions have been deliberately misportrayed by those who have wanted to remove Hezbollah from the government for some time already as part of their never-ending campaign to delegitimize it, after which they believe that it’ll become more susceptible to the joint US-“Israeli”-GCC Hybrid War against it. A similar modus operandi is being pursued in nearby Iraq, where Resistance forces also hold considerable sway within the government but are plagued by the same accusations of allying themselves with corrupt figures, which is being used by agenda-driven forces to misportray them as “guilty by association” despite the reason for these tactical partnerships being the same as Hezbollah’s. Even worse, the similar events in both countries are being described by Mainstream Media as a “new Arab Spring“.

There’s no question at this point that legitimate anti-corruption protests have been hijacked for regime change ends aimed at removing Resistance forces from power in those countries, especially since both the Ayatollah and Nasrallah touched upon this in their recent statements on this topic, though there are still those who outwardly profess to support the Resistance’s broader mission but refuse to stop participating in the unrest there. This represents a true moment of reckoning for the Resistance that will ultimately separate its true supporters who have faith in this movement’s leaders from the opportunistically fraudulent ones who betrayed the cause as soon as they “conveniently” saw the “publicly plausible pretext” to do so. It doesn’t help any either that many Alt-Media outlets that used to have Resistance-friendly editorial lines are portraying the protests in a positive light despite the Iranian and Hezbollah leaders warning against the credible risk that they could spiral out of control and end up advancing the strategic goals of the Resistance’s enemies, which further confuses the audience at large who can’t countenance how or why this is happening, preferring instead to put their faith in those media forces instead of the leaders whose movement they had previously professed to support. As the situation remains unresolved, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next, but it certainly doesn’t look good.

*

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorld

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Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights as Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent

Mnar Muhawesh speaks with journalist Daniel McAdams about being permanently banned from Twitter, social media censorship and more.

Most recently, it was revealed that Twitter’s senior editorial executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is an active officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations.

In other words: he specializes in disseminating propaganda.

The news left many wondering how a member of the British Armed Forces secured such an influential job in the media.

The bombshell that one of the world’s most influential social networks is controlled in part by an active psychological warfare officer was not covered at all in the New York TimesCNNCNBCMSNBC or Fox News, who appear to have found the news unremarkable.

But for those paying attention and for those who have been following ’MintPress News’ extensive coverage of social media censorship, this revelation was merely another example of the increasing closeness between the deep state and the fourth estate.

Amazon owner, and world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos was paid $600 million by the CIA to develop software and media for the agency, that’s more than twice as much as Bezos bought the Washington Post for, and a move media critics warn spells the end of journalistic independence for the Post.

Meanwhile, Google has a very close relationship with the State Department, its former CEO Eric Schmidt’s book on technological imperialism was heartily endorsed by deep state warmongers like Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair.

In their book titled, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, Eric Schmidt and fellow Google executive Jared Cohen wrote:

What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century…technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first.”

Another social media giant partnering with the military-industrial complex is Facebook. The California-based company announced last year it was working closely with the neoconservative think tank, The Atlantic Council, which is largely funded by Saudi Arabia, Israel and weapons manufacturers to supposedly fight foreign “fake news.”

The Atlantic Council is a NATO offshoot and its board of directors reads like a rogue’s gallery of warmongers, including the notorious Henry Kissinger, Bush-era hawks like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, James Baker, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and author of the PATRIOT Act, Michael Chertoff, a number of former Army Generals including David Petraeus and Wesley Clark and former heads of the CIA Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta and Michael Morell.

39 percent of Americans, and similar numbers of people in other countries, get their news from Facebook, so when an organization like the Atlantic Council is controlling what the world sees in their Facebook news feeds, it can only be described as state censorship on a global level.

After working with the council, Facebook immediately began banning and removing accounts linked to media in official enemy states like Iran, Russia and Venezuela, ensuring the world would not be exposed to competing ideas and purging dissident voices under the guise of fighting “fake news” and “Russian bots.”

Meanwhile, the social media platform has been partnering with the U.S. and Israeli governments to silence Palestinian voices that show the reality of life under Israeli apartheid and occupation. The Israeli Justice Minister proudly revealed that Facebook complied with 95 percent of Israeli government requests to delete Palestinian pages. At the same time, Google deleted dozens of YouTube and blog accounts supposedly connected to the government of Iran.

In the last week alone, Twitter has purged several Palestinian news pages, including Quds News Network — without warning or explanation.

Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah wrote, 

This alarming act of censorship is another indication of the complicity of major social media firms in Israel’s efforts to suppress news and information about its abuses of Palestinian rights.”

 

Alternative voices not welcome

The vast online purge of alternative voices has also been directed at internal “enemies.”

Publishers like Julian Assange and whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning are still being held in solitary confinement in conditions that international bodies and human rights groups call torture, for their crime of revealing the extent of the global surveillance network and the control over the media that Western governments have built.

As attempts to re-tighten the state and corporate grip over our means of communication increases, high-quality alternative media are being hit the hardest, as algorithm changes from the media monoliths have deranked, demoted, deleted and disincentivized outlets that question official narratives, leading to huge falls in traffic and revenue.

The message from social media giants is clear: independent and alternative voices are not welcome.

One causality in this propaganda war is Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, a public advocacy group that argues that a non-interventionist foreign policy is crucial to securing a prosperous society at home. McAdams served as Senator Paul’s foreign affairs advisor between 2001 and 2012. Before that, he was a journalist and editor for the Budapest Sun and a human rights monitor across Eastern Europe.

McAdams, who spent much of his time on Twitter calling out the war machine supported by both parties, was recently permanently banned from the platform for so-called “hateful conduct.” His crime? Challenging Fox News anchor Sean Hannity over his hour-long segment claiming to be against the “deep state,” while simultaneously wearing a CIA lapel pin. In the exchange, McAdams called Hannity “retarded,” claiming he was becoming stupider every time he watched him.

Yes, despite that word and its derivatives having been used on Twitter over ten times in the previous minute, and often much more aggressively than McAdams used it – only McAdams fell victim to Twitter’s ban hammer. Something didn’t make sense about this ban. One only needs to read the replies under any of President Trump’s tweets to see far more hateful speech than what McAdams displayed to suspect foul play.

I spoke with McAdams about the ban and began by asking him if he accepts the premise of the ban, or if he believes something else was afoot.

Feature photo | Spirit Boom Cat | Shutterstock

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

A History of U.S. Economic Warfare, from WWII to the Present

A Conversation with Michael Hudson

Global Research, November 18, 2019

On the Global Research News Hour we do our best to cover a wide spectrum of topics from the environmental crisis to economic and geopolitical analysis to debunking war pre-text narratives.

We welcome listener support to maintain and improve the quality of our regular broadcasts. Please consider a donation. Go to Global Research’s main donation page and tag your gift ‘GRNH.’

“Michael Hudson is the best economist in the world. Indeed, I could almost say that he is the only economist in the world. …If you have not heard of Michael Hudson it merely shows the power of the Matrix. Hudson should have won several Nobel prizes in economics, but he will never get one.” – Paul Craig Roberts (February, 2016) [1] .

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

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While many people understandably look to military force as the factor that maintains an empire’s grip on the territories in its domain, there are some seemingly more subtle ways in which power can be sustained.

Throughout the post World War II period a number of former colonies established independence, yet thanks to financial instruments, these seemingly autonomous districts would find themselves serving the interests of far away economies at the expense of their own citizens.

Key tools by which the United States in particular came to dominate the post-war world was through the Bretton Woods institutions, namely the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).[2]

In the last two decades and particularly since the stock market crisis of 2008, the pre-eminent global super-power is in crisis, with collapse on the horizon. This coinciding with the rise of China which is becoming an influential player threatening the autonomy of the U.S. superstate. [3]

To provide a primer on the historical trajectory that has taken the world to the current set of economic relations and options for alternative economic modes, the Global Research News Hour is privileged to benefit form the expertise and understanding of pre-eminent financial economist Michael Hudson.

Having built up his understanding based not only on his academic research, but on years of experience as a Wall Street analyst and as a balance of payments economist for both Chase Manhattan Bank and Arthur Andersen, he is among the most highly respected economic thinkers in the world. In his 1972 book  Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire, he became the first writer in the world to explain the impact of America’s departure from the gold-standard, and the use of U.S. Treasury bonds in foreign central bank reserves to finance U.S, military adventures in Vietnam and elsewhere.  [4]

In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview, recorded in the summer of 2019 while visiting Winnipeg, Canada, Professor Hudson explains how the Bretton Woods institutions came to be an instrument of the U.S. empire, the similarities and differences behind the paths to Chinese and US economic prosperity, the virtual impossibility of electing a genuine reformer to the White House, the case of Canada, and more.

A transcript of this interview can be found here.

This program includes an excerpt from a talk given at the University of Manitoba as part of the  14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy (WAPE).

(video credit Paul S Graham)

Michael Hudson is a prominent U.S. critical economist and President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET). A Wall Street Financial Analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Dr. Hudson has acted as an economic adviser to governments worldwide, including Iceland, China, Latvia and Canada.

Dr. Hudson’s books include Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy (2015), J Is for Junk Economics – A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception (2017), and his seminal work – Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972), a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank. His website is www.michael-hudson.com

(Global Research News Hour Episode 277)

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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM out of the University of Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The Global Research News Hour now airs Fridays at 6pm PST, 8pm CST and 9pm EST on Alternative Current Radio (alternativecurrentradio.com)

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia, Canada. – Tune in  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

Radio station CFUV 101.9FM based at the University of Victoria airs the Global Research News Hour every Sunday from 7 to 8am PT.

CORTES COMMUNITY RADIO CKTZ  89.5 out of Manson’s Landing, B.C airs the show Tuesday mornings at 10am Pacific time.

Cowichan Valley Community Radio CICV 98.7 FM serving the Cowichan Lake area of Vancouver Island, BC airs the program Thursdays at 6am pacific time.

Campus and community radio CFMH 107.3fm in  Saint John, N.B. airs the Global Research News Hour Fridays at 10am.

Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday Morning from 8:00 to 9:00am. Find more details at www.caperradio.ca

RIOT RADIO, the visual radio station based out of Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario has begun airing the Global Research News Hour on an occasional basis. Tune in at dcstudentsinc.ca/services/riot-radio/

Radio Fanshawe: Fanshawe’s 106.9 The X (CIXX-FM) out of London, Ontario airs the Global Research News Hour Sundays at 6am with an encore at 3pm.

Los Angeles, California based Thepowerofvoices.com airs the Global Research News Hour every Monday from 6-7pm Pacific time.

Notes:

  1. https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/03/why-michael-hudson-is-the-worlds-best-economist/
  2. Michael Hudson (2003), p. 31, ‘Superimperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire’, 2nd ed., published by Pluto Press
  3. https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-new-global-economy-rise-of-china-decline-of-the-united-states/5426933
  4. https://www.famouseconomists.net/michael-hudson
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