EU Parliamentarian Calls to Sanction Vanessa Beeley and All Observers of Donbass Referendums

Global Research, September 30, 2022

By Max Blumenthal and Anya Parampil

The Grayzone 29 September 2022

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MEP Nathalie Loiseau of France is lobbying for individual sanctions on all observers of the Russian-organized referendums in the Donbass region. She has singled out journalist Vanessa Beeley not only for her coverage of the vote, but for her reporting on the foreign-back war against Syria’s government.

A French Member of European Parliament (MEP), Natalie Loiseau, has delivered a letter to EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell, demanding the European Union place personal sanctions on all international observers of the recent votes in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and certain Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine.

Obtained by The Grayzone from an EU source, the letter is currently being circulated among European parliamentarians in hopes of securing a docket of supportive signatures.

“We, as elected members of the European Parliament, demand that all those who voluntarily assisted in any way the organization of these illegitimate referendums be individually targeted and sanctioned,” Loiseau declared.

The French MEP’s letter came after a group of formally Ukrainian territories held a vote on whether or not to officially incorporate themselves into the Russian Federation in late September. Through the popular referendum, the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which announced their respective successions from Ukraine in 2014 following a foreign-backed coup against the government Kiev, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhia, voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation.

Loiseau singled out Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist who traveled to the region to monitor the vote. Extending her complaint well beyond the referendum, the French MEP accused Beeley of “continuously spreading fake news about Syria and acting as a mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin and Bashar el [sic] Assad for years.”

Loiseau, a close ally of French President Emanuel Macron, specifically demanded Beeley be “included in the list of those sanctioned.”

Beeley responded to Loiseau’s letter in a statement to The Grayzone:

“Imposing sanctions on global citizens for bearing witness to a legal process that reflects the self-determination of the people of Donbass is fascism. Should the EU proceed with this campaign, I believe there will be serious consequences because the essence of freedom of speech and thought is under attack.

Russia’s referendums: drawing a line with NATO

In mid-September 2022, Beeley and around 100 other international delegates traveled to eastern Europe in order to observe a vote to join the Russian Federation in the regions of Kherson, Zaporozhia, and the independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Why did their presence trigger such an outraged response from Western governments? The answer lies in the recent history of these heavily contested areas.

The formally Ukrainian territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia fell under Russian control earlier this year as a result of the military campaign launched by Moscow in February, while the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared their independence from the government in Kiev in 2014.

Russia began its special military campaign in Ukrainian territory on February 24. The operation followed Moscow’s decision that same week to formally recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic (the Donbass Republics) in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass have been embroiled in a bloody trench battle with the US-backed government in Kiev since 2014.

Ukraine’s civil conflict broke out in March 2014, after US and European forces sponsored a coup in the country that installed a decidedly pro-NATO nationalist regime in Kiev which proceeded to declare war on its minority, ethnically Russian population.

Following the 2014 putsch, Ukraine’s government officially marginalized the Russian language while extremist thugs backed by Kiev massacred and intimidated ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine. In response, separatist protests swept Ukraine’s majority-Russian eastern regions.

Russia Recognizes Two Donbass Republics to Stop Ukraine’s Violence

The territory of Crimea formally voted to join Russia in March of that year, while the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region declared their unofficial independence from Kiev that same month. With support from the US military and NATO, Ukraine’s coup government officially declared war on the Donbass in April 2014, launching what it characterized as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” in the region.

Russia trained and equipped separatist militias in Donetsk and Lugansk throughout the territories’ civil campaigns against Kiev, though Moscow did not officially recognize the independence of the Donbass republics until February 2022. By then, United Nations estimates placed the casualty count for Ukraine’s civil war at roughly 13,000 dead. While Moscow offered support to Donbass separatists throughout the 2014-2022 period, US and European governments invested billions to prop up a Ukrainian military that was heavily reliant on army and intelligence factions with direct links to the country’s historic anti-Soviet, pro-Nazi deep state born as a result of World War II.

Russia’s military formally entered the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, following Moscow’s recognition of the Donbass republics. While Russian President Vladimir Putin defined the liberation of the Donbass republics as the primary objective of the military operation, he also listed the “de-nazification” and “de-militarization” of Ukraine as a goals of the campaign. As such, Russian troops have since secured control of Ukrainian territories beyond the Donbass region, including the territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia.

Facing increased Western investment in the Kiev-aligned bloc of Ukraine’s civil war, authorities in the Donbass republics announced a referendum on membership in the Russian Federation in late September 2022, with Moscow-aligned officials in Kherson and Zaporozhia announcing similar ballot initiatives. Citizens in each territory proceeded to approve Russian membership by overwhelming majorities.

The results of the referendum not only threatened the government in Kiev, but its European and US backers. Western-aligned media leapt to characterize the votes as a sham, claiming Moscow’s troops had coerced citizens into joining the Russian Federation at the barrel of a gun. Their narrative would have reigned supreme if not for the hundred or so international observers who physically traveled to the regions in question to observe the referendum process.

Observers like Vanessa Beeley now face the threat of returning home to the West as wanted outlaws. But as Loiseau’s letter made clear, the British journalist was in the crosshairs long before the escalation in Ukraine.

Beeley among European journalists targeted and prosecuted for reporting from Donetsk

Vanessa Beeley was among the first independent journalists to expose the US and UK governments’ sponsorship of the Syrian White Helmets, a so-called “volunteer organization” that played frontline role in promoting the foreign-backed dirty war against Syria’s government through its coordination with Western and Gulf-sponsored media. Beeley also played an instrumental role in revealing the White Helmets’ strong ties to Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, as well as its members’ involvement in atrocities committed by Western-backed insurgents.

Beeley’s work on Syria drew harsh attacks from an array of NATO and arms industry-funded think tanks. In June 2022, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which receives funding from a variety of NATO states, corporations and billionaires, labeled Beeley “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” on Syria prior to 2020. (According to ISD, Beeley was somehow “overtaken” by The Grayzone’s Aaron Mate that year). The group did not provide a single piece of evidence to support its assertions.

Though Beeley has endured waves of smears, French MEP Natalie Loiseau’s call for the EU to sanction the journalist represents the first time a Western official has moved to formally criminalize her work. Indeed, Loiseau made no secret that she is targeting Beeley not only for her role as an observer of the referendum votes, but also on the basis of her opinions and reporting on Syria.

Loiseau’s push to issue personal sanctions against EU and US citizens comes on the heels of the German government’s prosecution of independent journalist Alina Lipp. In March 2020, Berlin launched a formal case against Lipp, who is a German citizen, claiming her reporting from the Donetsk People’s Republic violated newly authorized state speech codes.

Prior to Lipp’s prosecution, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue launched a media campaign portraying her as a disseminator of “disinformation” and “pro-Kremlin content.”

In London, meanwhile, the UK government has imposed individual sanctions on Graham Philips, a British citizen and independent journalist, for his reporting from Donetsk.

And in Brussels, Loiseau’s campaign against Beeley appears to have emerged from a deeply personal vendetta.

Who is Natalie Loiseau?

In April 2021, Beeley published a detailed profile of Loiseau at her personal blog, The Wall Will Fall, painting the French MEP as a regime change ideologue committed to “defending global insecurity and perpetual war.” Beeley noted that Loiseau served as a minister in the government of French President Emanuel Macron when it authorized airstrikes in response to dubious allegations of a Syrian government chemical attack in Douma in April 2018.

Beeley also reported that Loiseau has enjoyed a close relationship with the Syria Campaign, the public relations arm of the White Helmets operation. This same organization, which is backed by British-Syrian billionaire Ayman Asfari, was the sponsor of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report which branded Beeley a “top propagator of disinformation” on Syria.

Loiseau has taken her activism into the heart of the European parliament, using her position as chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defense to silence colleagues who ask to many questions about the Western campaign for regime change in Syria.

During an April 2021 hearing, MEP Mick Wallace attempted to question Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Fernando Arias about allegations he personally aided the censorship of an OPCW investigation which concluded no chemical attack took place in Douma, Syria in April 2018.

Loiseau immediately descended into a fit of rage, interrupting Wallace and preventing him from speaking.

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” Loiseau fulminated.

Wallace responded with indignation, asking, “Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more? Today you are denying me my opinion!”

A year later, Wallace and fellow Irish MEP Clare Daly sued the Irish network RTEfor defamation after it broadcast an interview with Loiseau during which she baselessly branded them as liars who spread disinformation about Syria in parliament.

Now, Loiseau appears to be seeking revenge against Beeley, demanding that she be criminally prosecuted not just for serving as a referendum observer, but for her journalistic output.

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The editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican GomorrahGoliathThe Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

Anya Parampil is a journalist based in Washington, DC. She has produced and reported several documentaries, including on-the-ground reports from the Korean peninsula, Palestine, Venezuela, and Honduras.

Featured image: Left: French MEP Nathalie Loiseau Right: Journalist Vanessa Beeley (Source: The Grayzone)

The original source of this article is The Grayzone

Copyright © Max Blumenthal and Anya ParampilThe Grayzone, 2022

Fake Reporting on the Blown-up Pipelines and Russia’s “Annexation

Open Letter to the New York Times

September 30, 2022

Global Research,

By Peter Koenig

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Dear Editor of the once-upon-a-time Famous-for-truth New York Times,

With headlines like this, Sabotaged Pipelines and a Mystery: Who Did It? (Was It Russia?), even suggesting that Russia may have blown up their own pipeline, the NYT is killing its last vestige of credibility.

You know exactly this is a lie.

The only force that has a vital interest in doing so is the US / NATO conglomerate – to make sure, there is no way Germany could change their mind and go back on their decision to let their people freeze to death this winter, and to economically destroy Germany, THE economic force and leader of Europe.

You, and your analysts know that.

Unfortunately, there is no common people’s influence on our reporting. There are stronger forces that have bought into your mind-bending journalism.

Still, once a supporter of the NYT, I feel I want to tell you.

The Same with this reporting

Enormous U.S. Military Spending, EU Dragged into Abyss of War against Russia. Italy Out of the War!

Russian Proxies in Ukraine Push Moscow to Annex Occupied Regions

and

Vladimir Putin will sign agreements on Friday to take over four Ukrainian regions, the Kremlin said, after votes widely denounced as a sham

Here too, these are not “proxy” Russians who signed a sham petition to be annexed to Russia. You know it very well.

These are real Russians, living in the far Eastern part of Ukraine, the Donbas area mostly, who have been discriminated ever since the US instigated the Maidan coup on 22 February 2014 – when a neo-Nazi government was installed that let the Nazi Asov Battalions literally slaughter Ukraine’s own people in Donbas — at least 14,000 were reported killed – about half of them children – in the eight years since the “Victoria Nuland” (“Fuck Europe”) coup. See this.

We are talking about the same Asov Battalions, that helped Hitler during WWII fight against Russia.

Already in 2014 / 2015 the Donbas districts wanted to join Russia. President Putin did not allow it, because at that time he still believed in the “Minsk” Agreements, sponsored by France and Germany.

These agreements were principally meant to protect the Donbas people, as well as to demilitarize – de-Nazify – Ukraine, and to keep NATO out of Ukraine. None of the conditions of the Minsk Agreements (September 2014 and April 2015) were ever adhered to.

If truth-seeking geopolitical analysts around the globe know the real background, you, Editor-in-chief of the NYT, and your journalists, know the real story too. Still, you report lies and half-truths to further influence and promote people’s opinion against Russia.

The New York Times has become weaponized against Russia and China, by your mere reporting.

Don’t you think that this will eventually backfire?

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Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he worked for over 30 years around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is also is a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Chongyang Institute of Renmin University, Beijing.

Featured image is from FAIR

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Peter Koenig, Global Research, 2022


LPR, DPR, Kherson and Zaporozhye vote for reunification with Russia

Sep 28 2022 00:15

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

All four regions have said their word; they voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia.

A woman voting in a referendum

The results of the referenda on the accession of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), as well as the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to the country, have been released by Moscow.

The head of the regional electoral committee Galina Katyushchenko declared that 93.11% of voters supported reunification with Russia, as 100% of ballots have been counted in the Zaporozhye Region.

Lugansk People’s Republic

In the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), 98.42% of voters backed accession to Russia, as per the head of the regional electoral committee, Elena Kravchenko.

“With 100% of the protocols of precinct commissions processed, 98.42% voted for the republic’s entry into the Russian Federation,” Kravchenko said.

Kherson

In the Kherson region, 87.05% of voters supported reunification with Russia, according to the head of the regional election commission, Marina Zakharova.

“A total of 497,051 (87.05%) participants in the referendum answered ‘Yes’ to the question put forward at the referendum ‘Are for the withdrawal of the Kherson region from Ukraine, the formation of an independent state by the Kherson region and its entry into the Russian Federation as a constituent entity of the Russian Federation?'” she said.

Donetsk People’s Republic

With all referenda counted, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) reported 99.23% of voters in favor of becoming part of Russia.

There were 2,133,326 voters who voted, accounting for 97.51% of the total number of voters, as per the DPR central election commission.

Meanwhile, more than a hundred foreign observers from 40 countries, excluding specialists from Russia, attending the referenda in the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics, as well as in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, on joining the Russian Federation, reported no violations, with the exception of threats and shelling from Ukraine.

The voting in the referenda of DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye, and Kherson’s accession to the Russian Federation has begun early on Friday.

Residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson areas joined the initiative last Tuesday after local public organizations submitted identical demands to their authorities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lately indicated in a televised address last Wednesday that Russia will support the referenda results.

NATO countries came together to condemn the referenda, according to a statement revealed last Thursday.

On his account, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has lately threatened Russia with new sanctions in the event of referenda after White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the US condemned the DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye, and Kherson referenda to join Russia as “sham” actions and asserted that the US would not recognize the results.

The referenda, according to Sullivan, and a reported Russian plan to mobilize more soldiers, reflect Moscow’s recent military defeats, including ceding sizable amounts of land to the Ukrainian military.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military took control of the Azov part of Zaporozhye and Kherson, liberating large cities, such as Kherson, Melitopol, and Berdiansk, and cutting off Kiev from the Sea of Azov.

Related Stories

Referendum in Kherson to continue despite deadly Ukrainian shelling

DPR Referendum NGO observer: UN ‘asleep’ as Ukraine shells civilians

Over 90 percent of voters favor joining Russia: Reports

Putin’s Address: West’s Anti-Russia Policies, Partial Mobilization & Referendums in Ukraine

Putin’s Address: West’s Anti-Russia Policies, Partial Mobilization & Referendums in Ukraine

September 21, 2022

By Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio

by Oleg Burunov – originally published by Sputnik News – All Links to Gospa News articles have been added after

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin focused on a number of pressing issues related to the West’s stance on Russia and Moscow’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.

‘The West Wants to Destroy Russia’

Putin pointed out that the West’s current goal is to destroy Russia, as they say openly that they managed to make the USSR collapse and now it’s time for Russia.

“The purpose of this West is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country. They are already directly saying that in 1991 they were able to split the Soviet Union, and now the time has come for Russia itself, and that it should disintegrate into many mortally warring regions and regions,” the Russian president stressed.

According to him, such plans have been hatched in the West for a long time, as they encouraged gangs of international terrorists in the Caucasus, promoted the installation of NATO’s offensive infrastructure close to Russia’s borders and made total Russophobia their weapon.

Putin said that the Western elites are targeting Russia with their aggressive policy in order to maintain their dominance.

“[We talk] about the aggressive policy of a number of the Western elites, who are striving with all their might to maintain their dominance, and for this purpose they are trying to block or suppress any sovereign independent centers of development in order to further brutally impose their will on other countries and nations, to plant their fake values,” according to the Russian president.

West ‘Crossed Every Line’ in Its Anti-Russian Policy

Putin also said that the West “has crossed every line in its aggressive anti-Russian policy,” adding that “we constantly hear threats against our country and our people.”

“Some irresponsible politicians in the West talk about plans to organize the supply of long-range offensive weapons to Ukraine, systems that are capable of launching strikes against Crimea and other regions of Russia”.

According to the Russian president, such terrorist strikes, including those using Western weapons, are already being carried out on settlements in Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk regions.

“In real time, NATO conducts reconnaissance throughout Russia’s southern areas, using modern systems, aircraft, ships, satellites, and strategic drones,” Putin said.

Partial Mobilization in Russia

Putin announced that in light of the latest developments in Donbass, he had signed a decree on partial mobilization in Russia.

“In this situation, I consider it necessary to take the following decisions, they are fully adequate to the threats we face. Namely: to protect our Motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories, I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff on conducting partial mobilization in Russia,” the Russian president said.

He added that mobilization will begin on Wednesday, noting that only reservists will be subject to conscription, first of all those who have relevant experience and military professions.

Russia to Help Maintain Security at Referendums in Donbass

The Russian president also said that Russia will do everything to ensure security at the upcoming self-determination referendums in Donbass and other Ukrainian regions which have appealed to Moscow, seeking its support.

“The parliaments of the people’s republics in Donbass as well as civil-military administrations of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions have decided to hold the referendums on the destiny of these territories and appealed to Russia, asking to support this step. I stress that we will do everything to ensure security at the referendums for people to express their will,” Putin underscored.

Putin also referred to “the policy of intimidation, terror, and violence” pursued by Kiev with respect to Donbass residents, a policy that Putin said becomes “more massive, terrible and barbaric.”He noted that Kiev’s regime of repressions against its own citizens established shortly after the 2014 armed coup had been strengthened across Ukraine.Putin emphasized that he knows that “the majority of people living in the territories liberated from neo-Nazis, including first of all the historical lands of Novorossiya, do not want to be under the yoke of the neo-Nazi regime.”

“In Zaporozhye, the Kherson region, as well as Lugansk and Donetsk, people have seen and are seeing the atrocities that neo-Nazis conduct in the occupied areas of the Kharkov region. The heirs of Bandera and Nazi punishers kill people, torture, throw them in prison, settle scores, crack down, abuse civilians”, the Russian president said.

He added that up to 7.5 million people lived in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR) and (LPR) as well as the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions before the outbreak of hostilities.

“Many of them were forced to become refugees and leave their homes. Those who remained – about 5 million people – today are subjected to constant artillery and rocket fire from neo-Nazi militants, who hit hospitals and schools and organize terrorist attacks against civilians. We have no moral right to hand over people close to us to be torn to pieces by executioners, and we cannot but respond to their sincere desire to determine their own fate,” Putin underlined.

Russian Forces Act ‘Competently’ in Ukraine

Touching upon Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, Putin said that Russian forces are acting competently, liberating the territory step by step.He noted that the Lugansk People’s Republic had already been almost completely cleared of neo-Nazis, and that fighting in in the Donetsk People’s Republic is underway.

“The Kiev occupation regime has created a deeply echeloned line of long-term fortifications. Directly assaulting them would have resulted in heavy losses, which is why our units, as well as those of the Donbass republics, act competently and use the military in order to protect personnel. They, step by step, are liberating Donetsk land, clearing cities and towns from neo-Nazis, and helping people whom the Kiev regime has turned into hostages and a human shield,” Putin said.

He stressed that the main goal of the Russian special operation in Ukraine remains liberation of Donbass.

Putin announced the special operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine on February 24 following the Donbass republics’ requests to protect them from Kiev attacks.

by Oleg Burunov

originally published by Sputnik News



Disclosure:  Sputnik is a Russian state-owned news agency, news website platform, and radio broadcast service. It was established by the Russian government-owned news agency Rossiya Segodnya on 10 November 2014.

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Lebanese players express pride in withdrawing from matches vs Israelis

16 Sep 2022 00:14

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Ahmad Karakira 

Charbel Abu Daher and Nadia Fawaz, two Lebanese champions who refused to compete against Israeli athletes, tell Al Mayadeen they prefer losing over competing with Israelis.

Lebanese champions Charbel Abu Daher and Nadia Fawaz

Ragheb Harb, the Sheikh of the martyrs of the Islamic Resistance, once said his famous quote, “A handshake (with the enemy) is a recognition.”

During his speech on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Hezbollah, Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, “Our bet is on young people like Charbel Abu Daher and Nadia Fawaz, who refused to compete against Israelis.”

So who are Charbel Abu Daher and Nadia Fawaz?

Charbel Abu Daher, 14, is a Lebanese boxer who withdrew from the World Junior Championships, which took place in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, in rejection of all forms of normalization.

Similarly, Nadia Fawaz, 12, is a Lebanese chess champion who withdrew from the 4th Abu Dhabi International Open Festival after the classification pitted her against an Israeli player in her fourth round, thus following in the footsteps of her fellow Lebanese sports champions who have rejected any normalization with “Israel”.

The father of the Lebanese boxer expressed his pride in what his son had done, thanking Sayyed Nasrallah for the stance that praised the Lebanese player’s decision.

In an exclusive interview for Al Mayadeen Net, both Charbel and Nadia expressed their pride in the honorable decision that they took, affirming that they would rather lose championships over competing with Israeli players; competitions that entail recognition of the Israeli occupation.

Charbel said that from a very young age, his father raised him not to compete against an Israeli opponent, adding that “if a draw places me in the face of an Israeli player, I wouldn’t play the fight out of respect for my country and martyrs.”

What happened?

According to Charbel, the initial championship schedule placed him in a group with a Mexican, an Uzbek, and an American. But an hour before his fight on the next day, his father was shocked to know that an Israeli player was included in the new schedule.

The 14-year-old and his father tried contacting the Lebanese Federation that, in its turn, tried contacting the World Federation, but they couldn’t change anything, prompting Charbel to take the decision to withdraw.

Lebanese player Charbel Abu Daher.

“We knew that this was an intended scheme because someone told my father that only our schedule has changed and an Israeli opponent was included in it,” Charbel told Al Mayadeen Net.

The young champion also revealed that the Israeli coach tried to approach the Lebanese team more than once and attempted to take a picture with Charbel’s father who kept pushing him away.

For Charbel, what matters to him the most is the brave decision that he took, which helped him win people’s hearts, stressing that “from the beginning, I have taken a decision not to compete against an Israeli, even if it costs me practicing the sport. I am proud of the decision that I took.”

Lebanese player Charbel Abu Daher.

“Most of my friends saluted me for my decision to withdraw, while some told me that I could’ve competed against the Israeli opponent and defeated him, but I explained to them that had I faced him, I would have recognized Israel.”

According to the young champion, after his withdrawal from the competition against the Israeli athlete, the Islamic Republic of Iran offered him an academic scholarship and the chance to train with its national team in preparation for the world championship that will be held in three months in Indonesia.

Charbel saluted Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and thanked him for the respect and value that he has honored him with, along with Captain Ali Nehme, Major-General Tony Saliba, the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, and his Excellency Sleiman Frangieh, in addition to everyone who supported him.

“Had I played this round, I would have brought disgrace”

On her part, Nadia, 12, said she did not expect the draw to place her against an Israeli competitor who was 1 out 400 players in the chess championship.

The Lebanese chess champion underlined that as soon as she received the schedule, she called her parents and informed them that she would not compete.

“Had I played this round, I would have brought disgrace to my family and myself, whereas the decision that I have taken brought me dignity and people’s love,” Nadia told Al Mayadeen Net.

Lebanese player Nadia Fawaz.

The chess champion said, “People were proud of me and happy with the decision that I took, and I thank them for their love,” indicating that “my friends encouraged me a lot and were happy with my decision. All of them called me and congratulated me on my stance.”

In a message, the 12-year-old called on the Lebanese youth to love their country, encouraging them to take a decision similar to hers if they ever encounter the same situation.

With their patriotic stance, Abu Daher and Fawaz joined 8-year-old Mark Abou Deeb who withdrew from the World Cadet Chess Championships in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, and Abdullah Miniato, who withdrew from the World Mixed Martial Arts Championship last year in Bulgaria after a draw set them to confront Israeli opponents.

It is noteworthy that for the Israeli occupation, sports has always been a strategy for whitewashing genocide and the violation of human rights that it is committing against the Palestinian people.

For “Israel”, investing in international sports events that attract the attention of billions around the world is a good opportunity to whitewash their crimes and distract people from human rights violations, such as occupying lands and killing people.

Read more: Kuwaiti player refuses to face Israeli opponent in chess championship

Emirati newspaper dissolved over article on fuel cost crisis

September 14 2022

Emirati authorities were reportedly outraged after a renowned newspaper published a report detailing the effects the global fuel crisis has had on low-income residents

(Photo credit: Al Roeya)

ByNews Desk- 

Former employees at the Emirati Al Roeya newspaper say dozens of journalists were sacked and their publication dissolved as a result of a news article detailing the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on low-income residents of the UAE.

The economic report, published in early June, was considered “ordinary” by the editors at Al Roeya, according to eight people with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke with AP.

But its publication caused Emirati authorities to accuse the staff of “harming the reputation and entity of the state” by highlighting the repercussions of a global crisis.

Just hours later, almost 60 journalists and editors were informed by managers that they were fired. Other reports say the number may be as high as 90 journalists.

According to AP, only three employees remain working on the Al Roeya website.

“In the meeting, it was mentioned that the institution will be permanently closed due to a report that should not have been published. More than 60 employees will pay the price and lose their jobs and sit at their home looking for a new opportunity elsewhere,” one of the sacked journalists told Lebanese news outlet Raseef22.

What particularly irked officials were the interviews carried out for the report, in which Emirati citizens said they often drove to Oman to fuel their vehicles as the cost was cheaper.

Al-Roeya – Arabic for ‘The Vision’ – is owned by the Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments (IMI) company, and was considered one of the Emirates’ most established publications.

IMI officials claim the closure is part of the newspaper’s “long-planned transformation” into an Arabic-language business outlet with CNN.

Other publications run by IMI include Sky News Arabia and the English-language newspaper The National. The umbrella company is owned by the deputy prime minister of the UAE, billionaire Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Unlike its Gulf neighbors, the UAE started lifting fuel subsidies in 2015, leading citizens to be shocked at the pump this year in the wake of the global fuel crisis caused by western sanctions on Russia’s energy sector.

Western Propaganda and its Aftermath

August 31, 2022

Source

by Asia Teacher

As President Zelensky attains celebrity media status, revered by western political leaders and Hollywood’s glitterati all jostling for a photo shoot, let’s not forget the propaganda behind it and the consequences now beginning to emerge.

The western propaganda we’re currently experiencing is nothing new. Today’s President Putin joins yesterday’s Middle East “monsters” as current Ukrainian Nazi militias become “freedom fighters” and the Russians become “Nazis.” Likewise, the previous Middle Eastern terrorist groups became “moderate Islamist’s” but only if they were fighting for a US led NATO in Iraq and Syria. Yet such is the power of belief on an already stupefied majority western population that it’s become factual.

In our upside down world, reality has long vanished to 15% of our western leaders who regard themselves as the “international community.” On August 24th, only 54 countries out of 193 supported a UN resolution which condemned Russia for not stopping its intervention in the Ukraine, which begs the question of why, if the majority population loathe today’s western politicians, do they passionately and often even fanatically believe their every word?

Supplying weapons and financial aid to the Ukraine which enables Russia to get bogged down in an endless war with mounting casualties, coupled with sanctions to bring down Russian middle-class living standards is just another attempt at regime change. Moreover, having failed to control the Middle East oil producers, it has not gone unnoticed that Russia is itself a major gas and oil producer.

Bathsheba Crocker, US Ambassador to the UN warned in the New York Times on February 21st before the incursion occurred that Russia had a ‘hit list’ of people destined for arrest, detention and torture including “vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.” How she knew that is not explained, but the inclusion of homosexuals as a vulnerable group now appears mandatory in any media story.

From allegations presented as facts by Ukraine’s Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova and picked up by The British Daily Mail and the US New York Times in May, of multiple repeated child rapes and murders near Kiev. Meanwhile, Newsweek also in May ran the headline “Russians Targeting Kids’ Beds, Rooms With Explosives: Ukrainian Bomb Team”; what kind of sick minds dream this up?! Although written in a news format, both headlines carried disclaimers that the content remained unverified. In which case, why report it as news? One assumes that in time these stories will join Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and the Ghost of Kyiv hoaxes.

The problem with current western propaganda is that it relies on sensationalism and each manufactured story must outdo the last to retain its WOW effect. In today’s world, neighbors Poland and Slovakia propose building an oil “peace pipeline” as opposed to what Polish President Morawiecki refers to as the German Nordstream “war pipeline.” Meanwhile, debate continues to rage over why Russia is shelling itself in the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant with American made missiles and fragments of US HIMARS missiles found in Yelenovka, where 57 Azov prisoners died and 130 were wounded whilst giving testimony for the upcoming War Crimes trials. Getting rid of the evidence?

Who will western politicians blame if the weapons they’re sending to the Ukraine are responsible for another Chernobyl type incident as inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrive at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and before entering suggest the facility be handed back to the Ukrainian authorities. Am I the only one aghast at the thought of a nuclear plant in the hands of the Ukraine armed forces which number Neo-Nazi militia battalions in their ranks?

That the Ukraine is not about freedom and democracy but Russian regime change isn’t a well-kept secret. A year before the 2014 overthrow of Yanukovych, Carl Gershman, Director of US NGO National Endowment for Democracy (NED) had already stated: “Ukraine is the biggest prize … If it could be pulled away from Russia and into the West, Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” More recently, on the first of March 1st 2022, a spokesman for the British Prime Minister said, “but the measures [sanctions] we are introducing, that large parts of the world are introducing, are to bring down the Putin regime.” Or as Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy and Finance stated, “We are going to wage a total economic and financial war on Russia.”

Conversely, the opposite has happened. At the beginning of the intervention the ruble stood at 85 to the dollar. Yet today it’s 61.35; in other words, the ruble is actually strengthening against the dollar. No matter the amount or severity of sanctions, major oil producers, despite what any other calamities befall them, do not go bankrupt.

Yet six months into the incursion, the adverse effects of sanctions on energy and industrial fertilizers are becoming all too visible in the west. Soaring inflation and food prices, record bankruptcies and huge energy price increases as millions of Ukrainian immigrants flood into an already weakened and recession hit Western Europe. Who will blink first?

Although the west is currently in dire social and economic straits, removing President Putin and replacing him with another 1990’s Yeltsin type puppet would be a major boost for the west and Wall Street of course.

In our highly technologically advanced western societies, cheap energy and lots of it is why we exist as first-world societies. The alternative and sustainable green energy myth hasn’t happened as it doesn’t exist. If we take away our lifeblood support, what we’re beginning to experience is a terminal collapse. Despite the political pessimism and hype, when the present situation comes to an end our economies are not going to bounce back, the lost jobs aren’t going to return and inflation will not magically return to near zero. This is it, the final battle of civilizations and personally, I can do without identity politics, the homosexuality agenda, drug and crime epidemics and open borders.

Asia Teacher is a UK citizen, retired teacher of English plus Social and Political Science.

Ukraine: Somewhere between Afghanization and Syrianization

Ukraine is finished as a nation – neither side will rest in this war. The only question is whether it will be an Afghan or Syrian style finale.

August 30 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

One year after the astounding US humiliation in Kabul – and on the verge of another serious comeuppance in Donbass – there is reason to believe Moscow is wary of Washington seeking vengeance: in the form of the ‘Afghanization’ of Ukraine.

With no end in sight to western weapons and finance flowing into Kiev, it must be recognized that the Ukrainian battle is likely to disintegrate into yet another endless war. Like the Afghan jihad in the 1980s which employed US-armed and funded guerrillas to drag Russia into its depths, Ukraine’s backers will employ those war-tested methods to run a protracted battle that can spill into bordering Russian lands.

Yet this US attempt at crypto-Afghanization will at best accelerate the completion of what Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu describes as the “tasks” of its Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine. For Moscow right now, that road leads all the way to Odessa.

It didn’t have to be this way. Until the recent assassination of Darya Dugina at Moscow’s gates, the battlefield in Ukraine was in fact under a ‘Syrianization’ process.

Like the foreign proxy war in Syria this past decade, frontlines around significant Ukrainian cities had roughly stabilized. Losing on the larger battlefields, Kiev had increasingly moved to employ terrorist tactics. Neither side could completely master the immense war theater at hand. So the Russian military opted to keep minimal forces in battle – contrary to the strategy it employed in 1980s Afghanistan.

Let’s remind ourselves of a few Syrian facts: Palmyra was liberated in March 2016, then lost and retaken in 2017. Aleppo was liberated only in December 2016. Deir Ezzor in September 2017. A slice of northern Hama in December and January 2018. The outskirts of Damascus in the Spring of 2018. Idlib – and significantly, over 25 percent of Syrian territory – are still not liberated. That tells a lot about rhythm in a war theater.

The Russian military never made a conscious decision to interrupt the multi-channel flow of western weapons to Kiev. Methodically destroying those weapons once they’re in Ukrainian territory – with plenty of success – is another matter. The same applies to smashing mercenary networks.

Moscow is well aware that any negotiation with those pulling the strings in Washington – and dictating all terms to puppets in Brussels and Kiev – is futile. The fight in Donbass and beyond is a do or die affair.

So the battle will go on, destroying what’s left of Ukraine, just as it destroyed much of Syria. The difference is that economically, much more than in Syria, what’s left of Ukraine will plunge into a black void. Only territory under Russian control will be rebuilt, and that includes, significantly, the bulk of Ukraine’s industrial infrastructure.

What’s left – rump Ukraine – has already been plundered anyway, as Monsanto, Cargill and Dupont have already bagged 17 million hectares of prime, fertile arable land – over half of what Ukraine still possesses. That translates de facto as BlackRock, Blackstone and Vanguard, top agro-business shareholders, owning whatever lands that really matter in non-sovereign Ukraine.

Going forward, by next year the Russians will be applying themselves to cutting off Kiev from NATO weapons supplies. As that unfolds, the Anglo-Americans will eventually move whatever puppet regime remains to Lviv. And Kiev terrorism – conducted by Bandera worshippers – will continue to be the new normal in the capital.

The Kazakh double game

By now it’s abundantly clear this is not a mere war of territorial conquest. It’s certainly part of a War of Economic Corridors – as the US spares no effort to sabotage and smash the multiple connectivity channels of Eurasia’s integration projects, be they Chinese-led (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI) or Russian-led (Eurasian Economic Union, EAEU).

Just like the proxy war in Syria remade large swathes of West Asia (witness, for instance, Erdogan about to meet Assad), the fight in Ukraine, in a microcosm, is a war for the reconfiguration of the current world order, where Europe is a mere self-inflicted victim in a minor subplot. The Big Picture is the emergence of multipolarity.

The proxy war in Syria lasted a decade, and it’s not over yet. The same may happen to the proxy war in Ukraine. As it stands, Russia has taken an area that is roughly equivalent to Hungary and Slovakia combined. That’s still far from “task” fulfillment – and it’s bound to go on until Russia has taken all the land right up to the Dnieper as well as Odessa, connecting it to the breakaway Republic of Transnistria.

It’s enlightening to see how important Eurasian actors are reacting to such geopolitical turbulence. And that brings us to the cases of Kazakhstan and Turkey.

The Telegram channel Rybar (with over 640k followers) and hacker group Beregini revealed in an investigation that Kazakhstan was selling weapons to Ukraine, which translates as de facto treason against their own Russian allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Consider too that Kazakhstan is also part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the EAEU, the two hubs of the Eurasian-led multipolar order.

As a consequence of the scandal, Kazakhstan was forced to officially announce the suspension of all weapons exports until the end of 2023.

It began with hackers unveiling how Technoexport – a Kazakh company – was selling armed personnel carriers, anti-tank systems and munitions to Kiev via Jordanian intermediaries, under the orders of the United Kingdom. The deal itself was supervised by the British military attaché in Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital.

Nur-Sultan predictably tried to dismiss the allegations, arguing that Technoexport had not asked for export licenses. That was essentially false: the Rybar team discovered that Technoexport instead used Blue Water Supplies, a Jordanian firm, for those. And the story gets even juicier. All the contract documents ended up being found in the computers of Ukrainian intel.

Moreover, the hackers found out about another deal involving Kazspetsexport, via a Bulgarian buyer, for the sale of Kazakh Su-27s, airplane turbines and Mi-24 helicopters. These would have been delivered to the US, but their final destination was Ukraine.

The icing on this Central Asian cake is that Kazakhstan also sells significant amounts of Russian – not Kazakh – oil to Kiev.

So it seems that Nur-Sultan, perhaps unofficially, somehow contributes to the ‘Afghanization’ in the war in Ukraine. No diplomatic leaks confirm it, of course, but bets can be made Putin had a few things to say about that to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in their recent – cordial – meeting.

The Sultan’s balancing act

Turkey is a way more complex case. Ankara is not a member of the SCO, the CSTO or the EAEU. It is still hedging its bets, calculating on which terms it will join the high-speed rail of Eurasian integration. And yet, via several schemes, Ankara allows Moscow to evade the avalanche of western sanctions and embargoes.

Turkish businesses – literally all of them with close connections to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) – are making a killing, and relishing their new role as crossroads warehouse between Russia and the west. It’s an open boast in Istanbul that what Russia cannot buy from Germany or France they buy “from us.” And in fact several EU companies are in on it.

Ankara’s balancing act is as sweet as a good baklava. It gathers    economic support from a very important partner right in the middle of the endless, very serious Turkish economic debacle. They agree on nearly everything: Russian gas, S-400 missile systems, the building of the Russian nuclear power plant, tourism – Istanbul is crammed with Russians – Turkish fruits and vegetables.

Ankara-Moscow employ sound textbook geopolitics. They play it openly, in full transparence. That does not mean they are allies. It’s just pragmatic business between states. For instance, an economic response may alleviate a geopolitical problem, and vice-versa.

Obviously the collective west has completely forgotten how that normal state-to-state behavior works. It’s pathetic. Turkey gets “denounced” by the west as traitorous – as much as China.

Of course Erdogan also needs to play to the galleries, so every once in a while he says that Crimea should be retaken by Kiev. After all, his companies also do business with Ukraine – Bayraktar drones and otherwise.

And then there’s proselytizing: Crimea remains theoretically ripe for Turkish influence, where Ankara may exploit the notions of pan-Islamism and mostly pan-Turkism, capitalizing on the historical relations between the peninsula and the Ottoman Empire.

Is Moscow worried? Not really. As for those Bayraktar TB2s sold to Kiev, they will continue to be relentlessly reduced to ashes. Nothing personal. Just business.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Macron Insulted Africans’ Intelligence by Claiming That Multipolar Powers Manipulate Them

Global Research, August 29, 2022

By Andrew Korybko

Region: Europesub-Saharan Africa

Theme: Intelligence

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The shameless ethno-nationalist supremacy associated with his hateful remark will result in Africans doubling down on their anti-imperialist and Pan-Africanism activism since no self-respecting person would ever capitulate in the face of such blatantly racist pressure and thus voluntarily submit themselves to being dominated by their abuser.

French President Macron claimed during his latest trip to Algeria that “Many of the (information) networks that are covertly pushed (in Africa) – … by Turkey… by Russia… by China – have an enemy: France.” This was a supreme insult to all Africans’ intelligence since it channeled the discredited racist trope that they’re supposedly so stupid as to be easily manipulated by multipolar powers. Instead of acknowledging the genuinely grassroots and politically legitimate reasons why many Africans are actively rebelling against French influence in its self-proclaimed “sphere of influence” in so-called “Françafrique” like Turkiye’s Foreign Ministry suggested that he do, Macron chose to once again spew unsubstantiated smears similar in spirit to those malicious ones that it earlier made against Mali.

The reality is that the global systemic transition to multipolarity that unprecedentedly accelerated since the latest US-provoked phase of the Ukrainian Conflict has served to inspire the entire BRICS-led Global South to push back against the US-led West’s Golden Billion at this pivotal moment in the New Cold War between those two polar opposite models of socio-economic and political development. Moreover, many Africans felt emboldened to further intensify their efforts after President Putin unveiled his global revolutionary manifesto in late July that was followed shortly thereafter by Foreign Minister Lavrov pledging that Russia will help Africa fully complete its decolonization processes ahead of his successful trip to the continent.

Video: Freedom Convoy Solidarity in Alberta. Agreement with RCMP

Africa’s Role In The New Cold War” is destined to be that of a major battleground between the Golden Billion and the Global South precisely because its people refuse to be subjugated any longer by the former after having ruthlessly been exploited by them for half a millennium. France, which is among the most powerful of the Golden Billion’s hegemons in Africa and even surpasses the US’ influence in some parts of the continent, isn’t even hiding its neo-colonial intentions anymore after Macron ripped off his mask and started insulting Africans’ intelligence in the extremely racist way that he just did. The so-called “battle for hearts and minds” has already been won by the Global South’s multipolar Great Powers like Russia and China, who are helping to liberate all African countries with no strings attached.

They’d never dare disrespect their partners, let alone in the crude way that Macron just did, especially because they themselves have been victimized by similar forms of verbal abuse. Africans are well aware not only of those two and others’ proud anti-colonial histories, but also of just how sincerely they respect all others in contrast to the behavior exemplified by Western leaders like the French one and his peers. Macron’s racist insult of all Africans’ intelligence isn’t just rude, but also suggests that the Golden Billion is done “playing nice” after having abandoned all pretenses of their faux “politeness” that they unconvincingly attempted to practice in the past. As Western “thought leaders” never tire of reminding everyone, “might makes right” in their eyes, hence why they’re now sowing chaos across Africa.

This isn’t speculation either but documented fact after Mali recently accused France of supporting those Al Qaeda-connected terrorists that declared war on its Russian partner in late June and then the joint US- and Egyptian-led but TPLF-driven Hybrid War of Terror on Ethiopia resumed shortly thereafter on the other side of the continent. In fact, that second-mentioned conflict that first went hot in November 2020 after years of multilateral planning can be seen in hindsight as the new template that the West and its regional vassals like Egypt are employing since it was hatched as punishment for Ethiopia’s principled neutrality in the New Cold War between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the BRICS-led Global South. It therefore follows that similarly multipolar states like Mali and others will be punished too.

Macron made a major mistake though by letting his mask slip after spewing his racist innuendo about Africans supposedly lacking the intelligence to not be manipulated by foreign powers. The shameless ethno-nationalist supremacy associated with his hateful remark will result in Africans doubling down on their anti-imperialist and Pan-Africanism activism since no self-respecting person would ever capitulate in the face of such blatantly racist pressure and thus voluntarily submit themselves to being dominated by their abuser. Far from helping the Golden Billion’s hegemonic cause like his twisted mind imagined that his crude insult would supposedly do, the French leader’s public embrace of racist tropes against Africans will only serve to accelerate the decline of the US-led West’s hegemony over that continent.

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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.

He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorld

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Andrew Korybko, Global Research, 2022


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Pro-Palestine protest outside Zionist conference in Switzerland

29 Aug 2022

Pro-Palestine protesters stand outside the Messe hotel in Basel, Switzerland, chanting against “Israel”.

Hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters outside the Messe hotel hosting a World Zionist Organization in Basel, Switzerland, August 28, 2022

Hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters are demonstrating outside a hotel in Basel, Switzerland, where a large event marking the 125th anniversary of the “First Zionist Congress” is held by the “World Zionist Organization.”

The demonstrators were waving Palestinian flags and signs against Israeli aggression on a bridge located just across the Messe hotel, which is currently under Swiss police protection. 

The conference was said to witness the flocking of over 1,000 Zionist leaders from around the world in time for the event, including Israeli President Isaac Herzog. The anniversary is viewed by Zionists as an important event that led to the establishment of the Israeli entity in 1948.

The demonstrations were planned by BDS – the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement – in Basel in opposition to the anniversary event. 

According to Swiss BDS on Facebook, “This commemorative political event, supported by the Basel government and secured by a massive police and military presence, affirms the supremacy of right-wing organizations over the importance and history of Zionism.”

“We once again urge the Basel government to withdraw from any involvement in the Zionism celebrations and to end any cooperation with official Israeli institutions and state representatives.”

“Along with the WZO, this anniversary is also organized by an organization that plays an important role in illegal settlement building and systematic expropriation of Palestinian land.”

“The history of violence of Zionism is denied at the celebration,” the Facebook post said, adding that “the colonial character of the Zionist occupation in Palestine is obscured and, in continuity with the Zionists of the time, the mere existence of Palestinians made their suffering invisible.”

According to the Swiss BDS website, in a demonstration against the Israeli event, two major events were supposed to take place: The first was Saturday evening where a “panel discussion on Palestine will relate to the critical contributions to the situation in Palestine,” and the second was supposed to be Sunday afternoon in protest against the “Zionist Congress” events. 

“To this day, Israel is characterized by countless laws and practices that discriminate against the Palestinian population. The expulsion of the Palestinian population from more and more parts of the country continues unabated,” the group wrote.

“The Basel government ignores the criticism, instead boasting of Basel’s importance to Zionism and Israel and welcoming Israeli President Isaac Herzog with open arms,” Swiss BDS said, concluding that “we once again urge the Basel government to withdraw from any involvement in the Zionism celebrations and to end any cooperation with official Israeli institutions and state representatives.”

According to the Swiss Basler Zeitung newspaper, the local and federal Swiss governments spent $6 million for this event, mainly on security measures. Airspace over the venue was closed and 700 policemen were deployed. 

See more: Solidarity with Palestine across the world

Two Lives: Victoria and Victorine

August 20, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

Victoria

Victoria Jane Nuland was born in 1961 to Sherwin Nudelman, the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, and a British-born mother, Rhona Goulston. Already in his teens Nudelman had changed his name to Nuland in order to carve out a career. With the British-named Victoria, an Anglo-Zionist was clearly in the making.

Indeed, she duly studied at an elite private boarding school in Connecticut, whose alumni include many US politicians. Then she went to Brown University, where she studied Russian literature, political science and history. She married Robert Kagan, the future leading Jewish neocon.

Her worldview relects exactly the folly of the US since 1990 under the influence of the neo-imperialist neocons and Blairite-Clintonian ‘liberal interventionists’. This has resulted in mass poverty in the USA, as well as 9/11, and millions of deaths in wars and tensions outside the US with the Islamic world, Iran, Russia, China and anyone else that resists US imperialism.

From 2003 to 2005, during the US rape of defenceless Iraq and the theft of its oil and gas, Mrs Kagan was a foreign policy advisor to the notorious Cheney. She must have many deaths on her conscience from that particular mess. The Iraq catastrophe led to terrorism and counterterrorism and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria. Meanwhile, her husband was demanding an ever more warlike foreign policy against the background of US fears of the coming multipolar world, a world which it would no longer be able to dominate.

So Mrs Kagan, who yearned for permanent NATO expansion and the encirclement of Russia, was deeply involved in the US ‘regime-change’, that is, the plot to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically-elected government by violence in 2014. This led to America’s responsibility for the ensuing civil war that had killed at least 14,000 people, women and children among them, even before 24 February 2022 and had left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

Her $5 billion coup in 2014 in the wretched Ukraine, a strategic candidate for NATO on Russia’s border, was implemented through Oleh Tyahnybok’s neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and the new Right Sector militia. We do not forget that it was Tyanhnybok who had delivered a speech praising Ukrainians for fighting Jews and ‘other scum’ during World War II. In February 2014 their protests in Kyiv’s Maidan Square turned into running battles led by neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing forces that the US had financed and orchestrated. A mob led by the Right Sector militia marched on Parliament and the President and others fled for their lives.

Facing the possible loss of its naval base in Sevastopol in the Crimea, Russia accepted the overwhelming result (a 97% majority) of an internationally-observed referendum in which Crimea voted to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia, of which it had been a part from 1783 to 1954. The Russian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, part of Russia until the terrorist Communists had given them away to the Ukraine in 1922, similarly declared independence from Neo-Nazi Kiev. This starting a bloody war between US-backed separatists in Kiev and the local Eastern Ukrainian people.

Mrs Kagan wants an ever-more dangerous War with Russia and China to justify her militarist foreign policy and Pentagon budgets. She relies on her mythical version of Russian aggression and US ‘democratic’ intentions. She claims that Russia’s military budget, one-tenth of that of the US, is proof of ‘Russian confrontation and militarisation’. She wants ‘permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border’ and sees Russia’s desire to defend itself after so many successive (and failed) Western invasions as an obstacle to NATO’s expansionism. In short, the deluded Mrs Kagan has with others unleashed intractable violence, chaos and the risk of nuclear war. How does she sleep at night?

Victorine

The other day I went over from Paris and put flowers on a grave in a small, unheard-of town in Brittany, in the hills near Loudeac. It was the first days of autumn, the trees had begun turning colour and there was a slight chill in the early morning and evening air – in northern France the weather always changes after 15 August.

Tante (Aunt) Victorine had been born in the straw on the dirt floor of a cowshed in a hamlet of six houses, which still bore the name of its Breton founder, Brehan, 1300 years later. Literally. The tiny one-floor home-built house had a dining room/kitchen/bedroom on one side and the cow lived on the other side and was sent out to the field during the day. It had changed but little in 1981 when I first met her. Living in Upper (Eastern) Brittany, she spoke not Breton, but ‘Gallo’, the local dialect of French. Or, as the locals will tell you, French is the local (Parisian) dialect of Gallo.

Victorine had been born on 22 November 1918 and inevitably, after the Armistice of 11 November 1918, she had been named Victorine. So many sturdy Breton peasants had gone out to fight the dirty ‘Boches’ and not come back. The Boches were the German enemy of the Paris elite, the elite who had so depised Bretons as ‘yokels’ (‘ploucs’) in peacetime and had banned their language. The victory, after which Victorine had been named, was not that of France, it was the victory of peace for the peasants who had lost many of their best sons fighting against so many of the best sons of Bavarian and Saxon peasants in the futile quagmires and the deadly trenches of World War I.

That was why, like so many women of her generation, Victorine did not marry: there was no-one to marry. Indeed, in 1941 her sister had had a child by a reluctant German soldier who had been forced to join the German Army and had then been sent to patrol the wilds of Brittany. It was the great taboo of the village, but we will leave the condemnation to the sour-faced village pharisees. The illegitimate child, Jean-Pierre, her great-nephew, was my friend.

Victorine did not go to church very often. She did not much like that hard, stony building where hard, stony faces condemned human-beings for loving life. She preferred the hills and streams, woods and fields of God’s Cathedral, where she passed her life, growing vegetables on her patch in the spring, picking fruit in the little orchard in summer and autumn, for eating, cooking, bottling and jam, chopping logs for winter heating, looking after her cow for milk and the best salted butter you have ever tasted, and the pig at the bottom of the garden, that would be slaughtered by the village-slaughterer, Michel, every December and sold for pork at the village butcher’s.

So Victorine eked out a living. She would have liked to have had a man and children, but it was not to be. She passed away peacefully, a smile on her face, as she went to meet her Maker in November 1989, aged just 71. It had been a hard life, spent in her little house and on its piece of land, whitening her soul, like some early Christian hermit. She had made the best of a life that, on the surface at least, had already in 1914 been wrecked before she had even been born by the war-loving elites of Berlin and Vienna and Paris and London. But if I had to choose between the life of the similarly-named Victoria and Victorine, I would prefer ten thousand times over to have the life and clear conscience of Tante Victorine. God bless her.

20 August 2022

How the US controls Lebanon’s energy supply

Far from helping Lebanon solve its acute energy crisis, the US is leveraging Egypt’s gas supply to pressure Beirut over US-brokered maritime border talks with Israel

August 19 2022

By Yeghia Tashjian

Consider the chaos in Europe today caused by a sudden reduction in Russian gas supplies.

Now imagine the catastrophic state of Lebanon’s energy sector after two years of fuel shortages, limited foreign currency with which to purchase new, urgent supplies, and US-sanctions on Syria impeding Lebanon’s only land route for imports.

US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea intervenes in all of Beirut’s energy decisions Photo Credit: The Cradle

After decades of stalled reforms, Lebanon is running out of time and money.

In June 2021, a lifeline was handed to the country in a deal struck with Baghdad to supply two Lebanese power stations with Iraqi fuel. The agreement, which was due to expire in September 2022, has recently been extended for one year.

But while there are short and long term solutions available to remedy Lebanon’s energy crisis, the two main options are both monopolized by US policymakers with stakes in regional geopolitics.

The first option involves transporting fuel to Lebanon via the Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP), whereby Egypt will supply gas through Syria. Although the proposal was originally an American suggestion, this fuel route requires US sanctions waivers that have not yet been approved by Washington.

The second option is for Lebanon to extract its own gas supply from newly discovered fields off its coastline. This too depends entirely on US-mediated, indirect negotiations with Israel to resolve a maritime dispute over the Karish gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Accessing its own gas supplies will go a long way to guarantee Lebanon’s own energy security, while providing the state with much needed revenues from exports.

However, the success of either project depends largely on the status of US-Lebanese relations at any given moment. The two options are also inextricably linked to each other: Washington is pressuring Beirut to compromise with Tel Aviv on the maritime border dispute before agreeing to “green light” Cairo’s gas exports via Syria, which is in turn heavily sanctioned by the US’s “Caesar Act.”

While Washington is playing a leverage game, Lebanon is slowly collapsing.

Gas from Egypt

Under the agreement signed with Cairo, 650 million cubic meters of natural gas will be exported annually via the AGP. As it turns out, the actual supply of gas, as per the World Bank’s conditions, awaits US approval to exclude Egypt from sanctions imposed on the passage of goods through Syria.

The AGP is already a functioning pipeline that has supplied Lebanon with Egyptian gas in the past, but operations were halted in 2011 when Syrian pipelines were damaged during the country’s armed conflict.

Under the deal, Egypt will pump gas through the pipeline to supply Lebanon’s northern Deir Ammar power plant, which can then produce 450 megawatts of electricity – adding four hours of additional electricity supply per day. It is a modest but necessary improvement over the barely two hours of electricity currently provided by the state.

The World Bank has pledged to finance the deal on the condition that the Lebanese government implements much needed reforms in the electricity sector, which has created tens of billions of dollars in public debt.

The Syrian equation       

For the Syrian government, the arrangement is perceived as a diplomatic victory as it confers ‘legitimacy’ to the state and represents a step toward its international rehabilitation. The AGP deal was also hailed by Syrian Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tohmy as one of the most important joint Arab cooperation projects.

According to Will Todman, a research fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the agreement is “a win for the [Bashar al-]Assad government. The deal represents the first major move toward Syria’s economic integration with the region since Arab Spring protests shook Syria in March 2011, halting previous integration efforts.”

However, due to US Caesar Law restrictions, no concrete progress has been made over the past months. Amman and Cairo have both requested guarantees from Washington that they will not be subject to sanctions – to no avail. US President Joe Biden has yet to make a final decision on whether the plan will be considered a violation of sanctions on Syria.

Linking the Egypt deal with Israel talks

In order to create a certain interdependency in the region to minimize the possibility of new conflicts with Israel, the US is attempting to link the Egyptian gas deal with the ongoing, indirect, maritime negotiations between Tel Aviv and Beirut.

Amos Hochstein, the State Department senior adviser on energy security, who acts as chief mediator on the disputed maritime border between Lebanon and Israel, said after arriving in Beirut on 14 June that the US side will look at the final agreement between Egypt and Lebanon to evaluate the sanctions compliance of the natural gas project.

This means that Washington is linking the fate of the gas deal to the maritime dispute with Israel to exert additional pressure on Lebanon.

On 14 October, 2020 – just two months after the Beirut port blast which severed the primary transportation route for seaborne Lebanese imports – Lebanon and Israel began the long-awaited US-mediated talks to demarcate their maritime borders, under the supervision of the UN.

The framework agreement announced by both countries at the time was the most serious attempt to resolve the maritime dispute and secure gas drilling operations through diplomatic means.

However, there are many challenges that can slow or even derail these negotiations.

According to Lebanese estimates, the country has 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 865 million barrels of oil offshore, and is in urgent need to begin drilling to save its ailing economy.

Israel is also in hurry to resolve this dispute as it wants to finalize the negotiations before September 2022, when the Karish gas rig is expected to begin production. The concern is that if a deal is not signed by then, Hezbollah may take action to halt Israel’s extraction altogether – until Lebanon is able to extract its own fuel from those waters.

Resolution or conflict

Last month, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah reiterated warnings against Tel Aviv in the event that Lebanon is prevented from extracting its own resources in the Med. “When things reach a dead-end, we will not only stand in the face of Karish… Mark these words: we will reach Karish, beyond Karish, and beyond, beyond Karish,” he cautioned.

Initially, Lebanon took a maximalist position on its maritime borders with Israel: the main dispute was around the percentage both countries should share in the disputed 860 square kilometers, which covers Lebanon’s offshore gas Blocks 8, 9 and 10.

It is worth mentioning that Lebanon does not enter these negotiations from a position of strength and is in dire economic need to unlock foreign aid and begin the flow of potential gas revenues.

Meanwhile, the arrival this summer of the British-based Energean, an oil and gas exploration company, which will begin a drilling operation close to the Karish gas field, has sparked tensions between both countries, prompting US envoy Hochstein to race back to the region on 13 June.

In order to provide Lebanon with some much-needed leverage and accelerate negotiations, Hezbollah dispatched three drones towards the Karish gas field on 2 July. The operation sought several results: to test Israeli military responses to the drones, to scare off the private company contractors working on the rig, and to motivate both Tel Aviv and Washington to step up and strike a deal.

The operation achieved its goals. Israel’s military now can’t rule out the possibility that the Lebanese resistance movement will launch additional attacks on the gas field in the near future, or provoke Israel in a different manner – if the maritime dispute is not ironed out, and soon.

Beyond the Mediterranean Sea

The negotiations have also been impacted by international developments, chiefly, the war in Ukraine and the growing energy crisis in Europe. Sweeping western economic sanctions on Moscow’s economic interests have dried up Russian exports to the continent, driving Europe to seek alternative sources of energy, few of which are readily available.

In May 2022, the US and EU unveiled a plan to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and in June, the EU and Israel signed an agreement to export Israeli gas to Europe. These external factors have further motivated the US and Israel to hasten the negotiation process with Lebanon, all of which are overshadowed by the aforementioned US pressure on the Lebanese government.

Energy expert Laury Haytayan believes that linking Lebanon to regional energy projects makes it harder for Lebanon to go to war with Israel. Haytayan told The Cradle: “Lebanon needs gas, Israel needs stability, and the US wants to give both what they want.”

It is important to recognize that a final maritime demarcation agreement also means defusing the tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border, which may require a broader US-Iranian agreement, something that is unlikely in the short term.

If the gas deal is successful and the US approves the Egyptian energy exports, the move will only increase US leverage over Lebanon when it comes to future negotiations on energy security.

It is in Lebanon’s interest to ensure that one party, the US, does not continue to hold all the cards related to its vital fuel needs. A recent offer from Iran to supply the country with monthly free fuel was tacitly accepted by Lebanon’s prime minister and energy minister, but needs work. Other states have offered to build power generation plants to enhance the nation’s infrastructure and efficiency.

But with Lebanon so deeply affected by Washington’s whims – and punishments – it isn’t at all certain that the country can steer itself to these more independent options.

The US and Israel have never been this highly incentivized to solve the maritime dispute. If the deal fails, Hezbollah may proceed with military action, especially before the conclusion of political ally President Michel Aoun’s term this Fall.

Furthermore, the gas issue may turn into a contentious domestic political issue ahead of Israel’s November parliamentary elections. In that instance too, a military conflict between Israel and Hezbollah may be triggered.

The only solution is to strike a deal, get gas flowing, and avert war. Will saner minds prevail, or will the region’s high-stakes geopolitical competition continue to escalate blindly? More importantly, can Washington bear to allow Lebanon the breathing space after three years of severe economic pressure to control Beirut’s political decisions?

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Goodbye, Trafalgar Square: Celebrating Freedom in Europe

August 16, 2022

Source

A Look Forward to 2035 by Batiushka

England

Following the 2034 collapse of Britain and the popular overthrow of its millennial Establishment after nearly two decades of political turmoil, England moves ahead. Last week international arrest warrants were issued by the new People’s Government for the detention of the elderly war criminals Blair (Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq), Cameron (Libya, Syria and the Yemen) and Johnson (the Ukraine), who are all believed to be in hiding, cowering from justice somewhere in Florida, where they are now being hunted down.

As regards internal changes to the English Capital, just today the following changes have been announced by the People’s Government in London, the Capital of England, part of its programme of ‘Re-Englanding England’, also known as ‘Debritainisation’.

England Square

Today, exactly two hundred years after ‘Trafalgar Square’ in London was given the name of an Arabic-named Cape in Spain, the Square is to be renamed ‘England Square’. The statue of Nelson on its column is to be replaced by a statue of the effective founder of England, King Alfred the Great, known as ‘England’s Darling’, ‘The Truthteller’ and ‘The Lawgiver’. It will then be known as ‘Alfred’s Column’. A spokesman for the People’s Government said that it in no way wished to denigrate Nelson, whose tactical genius and personal bravery are undoubted, but Demilitarisation is an inherent part of Debritainisation. The statue will be removed to the English Museum, formerly called ‘The British Museum’. This has plenty of empty space, since so many of its artefacts, looted from around the world by British imperialists mainly since the eighteenth-century, have been returned to their countries of origin.

At the same time the four lions around the base of Alfred’s Column will also be sent to the English Museum as part of the policy of Demilitarisation, that is, as part of the policy of the removal of aggressive symbols of imperialist militarism. They will be replaced by four female figures, personifying Motherhood, Peace, Justice and Freedom. The four plinths for statues on England Square, at present occupied by three statues (the fourth plinth is empty) of the German King George IV and the imperialist militarists, Napier and Havelock, are also to be sent to the English Museum. They will be replaced by statues of literary and social geniuses of English history, known as ‘The Four Williams’: William Langland (1332-1386), William Shakespeare (1564-1616), William Blake (1757-1827) and William Cobbett (1763-1835).

As readers may know, Langland wrote a visionary English-language poem and allegory called ‘Piers Plowman’, in which he denounced the corruption of the medieval Catholic Church and praised the simple faith of the people. As for Shakespeare, he was the most brilliant poet of the English language and a very perceptive psychologist, who described in detail the good and bad in human nature and their motivations. Blake was the visionary poet and artist who opposed the appalling exploitation of his age and wrote the new English National Anthem, ‘Jerusalem’, in which he denounced the ‘dark, satanic mills’ of the so-called ‘Industrial Revolution’, that is, of the mass exploitation of industrial workers. Cobbett was a politician who struggled for social justice and wrote against the collectivisation, or privatisation, that is, just plain theft, of the common land in England, euphemistically called the ‘Enclosures’. He constantly campaigned against corruption and poverty and in favour of rural prosperity and freedom.

As for the busts of the three imperialist Admirals, Jellicoe, Beatty and Cunningham, in England Square, they are also to be sent to the English Museum and be replaced by busts of three well-known poets: a soldier (Wilfred Owen), a merchant sailor (John Masefield) and an airman, John Gillespie Magee (author of ‘High Flight’). They are in memory of the sacrifices of ordinary men, ‘the lions led by donkeys’, in the imperialist wars of the British past. The statue of Charles I on the south side of England Square, usurped and then beheaded by a clique of grasping merchants, will be retained. However, the statues in front of the National Gallery, of the Scottish King James II and of the slave-owning colonist George Washington, will be sent to the English Museum and be replaced by statues of the two Patronal Saints of England, St George and St Edmund.

The Square of the Peoples

Meanwhile, there will also be changes to the statues outside ‘Parliament’, renamed ‘The House of the People’ since the abolition of the House of Lords, to that in the Guildhall, and to the twelve statues in Parliament Square, now renamed ‘The Square of the Peoples’. Outside the House of the People, the statue of Cromwell is to be replaced by a statue of an Irish peasant, at least 200,000 (10% of the population) of whom the brutal thug Cromwell had massacred. In the Guildhall the statue of Thatcher is to be replaced by the statue of a Yorkshire coal-miner. Both old statues are to be taken to the English Museum to protect them from vandalism.

In The Square of the Peoples, nine of the present twelve statues are also to be removed. These are, in anti-clockwise order: the statue of Churchill, replaced by that of an English child orphaned by bombing in the Second World War; that of David Lloyd George by an injured World War One Welsh soldier; that of the South African Prime Minister Smuts by a Boer woman from a British concentration camp during the Boer War; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Palmerston by that of a Russian peasant-soldier from the British invasion of Russia (the so-called ‘Crimean War’); that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Smith-Stanley (the Earl of Derby) by that of a Chinese woman suffering in the so-called, British-caused ‘Opium War’ (Genocide of China); that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Disraeli by that of a Bulgarian peasant-woman, oppressed by the Ottomans whom Disraeli immorally supported; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Peel by that of a starving Irishwoman from the Irish Potato Famine; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Canning by that of a Scottish crofter, removed by force from his land which was stolen from him in the so-called ‘Highland Clearances’; that of Lincoln by that of a Tasmanian Aborigene, representing the treatment of North, Central and South American Natives, Australian Aborigenes, genocided Tasmanians and Maori, all as a result of British ‘colonisation’ (land-theft). The statues of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Millicent Fawcett will remain as symbols of the striving for freedom of Africans, Indians and of women, who were freed from Victorian oppression and the deprivation of rights.

Europe

The new English People’s Government, elected by over 85% of the electorate according to the new proportional democracy, is keen to depose the old tyrants and celebrate the victims of tyranny. It has come to our knowledge that parallel events are about to occur not only in newly-reunited Ireland and newly-independent Scotland and Wales, but also in the newly-freed countries of the former EU. This follows last month’s sacking of the EU headquarters in the Berlaymont building in Brussels. Everywhere in Western Europe the flags of freedom are beginning to flutter defiantly.

In Paris the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is to be renamed ‘L’Arc du Peuple’ (‘The People’s Arch’) and Napoleon’s bloody battles are to be removed from it. Rome, Brussels, Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon – all are reviewing names of streets, statues and monuments. As for the English Government, it has already joined the new Confederation of Free European Nations (CFEN), a loose structure which will meet in various European Capitals. It was originally suggested by the paternal Russian government and has been formed to replace the old centralised EU and its unelected bureaucrats and tyrants.

15 August 2035

Breaking News:

It has just been announced that Antony Blair has been captured by the Free American Police after being found hiding in a hole in the ground near a farmhouse outside Miami. Blair was shown in a photograph with a full beard and hair longer than in his familiar appearance. He was described by police officials as being in good health despite his 82 years. The details of his double trial, which is to take place in Belgrade and then in Baghdad, have not yet been determined. The local police call their prisoner ‘Vic’, which stands for ‘Very Important Criminal’. Officials said that Blair whined to them after his arrest: ‘I am innocent, I did not do anything, I was only following orders from the White House’.

Why is Amnesty apologising for telling the truth about Ukrainian war crimes?

16 August 2022

JONATHAN COOK

Allowing only one side to be criticised for its crimes – reinforcing the loaded western political narrative of good guys versus bad guys – is likely to fuel war rather than resolve it

Middle East Eye – 16 August 2022

Should a human rights organisation apologise for publishing important evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses?

If it does apologise, what does that suggest about its commitment to dispassionately uncovering the truth about the actions of both parties to war? And equally, what message does it send to those who claim to be “distressed” by the publication of such evidence?

Those are questions Amnesty International should have pondered far more carefully than it obviously did before issuing an apology last week over its latest report on the war in Ukraine.

In that report, Amnesty accused Ukrainian forces of committing war crimes by stationing troops and artillery in or near schools, hospitals and residential buildings, thereby using civilians effectively as human shields. Such practices by Ukrainian soldiers were identified in 19 different towns and villages.

These incidents did not just theoretically endanger civilians. There is evidence, according to Amnesty, that return fire by Russian troops on these Ukrainian positions led to non-combatants being killed.

The Israeli army regularly accuses Palestinian factions like Hamas of hiding among civilians in Gaza, while obscuring its own, long-documented practice of using Palestinians as human shields.

But whatever the truth of Israel’s claims, unlike the tiny and massively overcrowded Gaza, which offers few or no hiding places outside of built-up areas for Palestinian fighters to resist Israeli aggression, Amnesty concluded of the situation in Ukraine: “Viable alternatives were available that would not endanger civilians – such as military bases or densely wooded areas nearby, or other structures further away from residential areas.”

In other words, it was a choice made by the Ukrainian army to put its own civilians in harm’s way.

Mounting pressure

Notably, this is the first time a major western human rights organisation has publicly scrutinised the behaviour of Ukraine’s soldiers. Until now, these watchdog bodies have focused exclusively on reports of crimes committed by Russian forces – a position entirely in line with the priorities of their own governments. By its own admission, Amnesty has published dozens of reports condemning Russia.

The pushback against the latest report was relentless, coming even from Amnesty’s own Ukrainian team. Oksana Pokalchuk, its head, quit, explaining that her team “did everything they could to prevent this material from being published”.

Under mounting pressure, Amnesty made a statement last week in which it said it “deeply regrets the distress and anger” caused by its report, while at the same time stating: “We fully stand by our findings.”

The idea that only one side has been committing war crimes in Ukraine was always implausible. In wars, all sides commit crimes. It is in the nature of wars.

Faulty lines of communication mean orders are misunderstood or only partially relayed to those on the front lines. Inevitably, soldiers prioritise their own lives over those of the enemy, including civilians. Terrorising the other side – through human rights violations – can be an effective way to avoid combat, by sending a warning to enemy soldiers to desert their posts and civilians to flee. Sadists and psychopaths, meanwhile, find themselves with plenty of opportunities to exploit during the fighting.

But conversely, parties to wars invariably struggle to acknowledge their own abuses. They prefer simple-minded, self-serving narratives of good and evil: our soldiers are heroes, morally spotless, while their soldiers are barbarians, indifferent to the value of human life.

Western governments and establishment media outlets have readily peddled this foolish line in Ukraine, too, even though neither Europe nor the United States are supposed to be directly involved in the war. They have reflexively amplified Ukrainian claims of Russian war crimes, even when the evidence is lacking or the picture murky, and they have resolutely ignored any evidence of Ukrainian crimes, such as evidence that Russian prisoners of war have been executed or that Ukraine has been using petal cluster bombs in civilian areas.

More self-censorship

In such circumstances, only the human rights community is in a position to provide a more faithful picture of how events are unfolding, and hold to account both sides for their crimes. But until Amnesty stepped out of line, western human rights groups had moved in lockstep with western governments, the same governments that appear to want endless war in Ukraine, to “weaken Russia”, rather than a quick resolution.

Even the author of Amnesty’s new report, Donatella Rovera, has conceded: “I think the level of self-censorship on this issue [Ukrainian war crimes] has been pretty extraordinary.”

Amnesty should not be apologising for providing a rare window on such crimes. It should be emphasising the importance of monitoring both sides for serious breaches of international law. And for very good reason.

Amnesty’s apology sends a message to those partisans trying to shut down scrutiny of Ukrainian crimes of just how easy it is to put the human rights community on the defensive. Efforts to deter reporting of a similar nature in the future will intensify.

Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, Dmytro Kuleba, was among those who lost no time vilifying Amnesty by characterising its report as “Russian disinformation”.

Amnesty’s apology suggests such pressure campaigns have an effect and will lead to increased self-censorship – in a situation where the evidence already indicates that there is a great deal of self-censorship, as Rovera pointed out.

The apology betrays the civilians who have been, and will be, used as human shields – putting them in lethal danger – over the coming months and potentially years of fighting. It means Ukrainian forces will feel even less pressure to rein in behaviour that amounts to a war crime. 

Amnesty would never apologise to Russian partisans offended by a report on Russian war crimes. Its current apology indicates to the victims of Ukrainian human rights abuses that they are less worthy than the victims of Russian abuses.

Flooding the battlefield

Turning a blind eye to Ukrainian crimes also lifts the pressure on western governments. They have been recklessly channelling arms worth many billions of dollars to Ukraine, even though they have little idea where most end up. (In a further worrying sign of self-censorship in the west, CBS recently postponed the broadcast of an investigation suggesting as little as a third of western weapons reach their intended destination in Ukraine.)

That is all the more dangerous because, even before Russia’s invasion in late February, Ukrainian forces – including the neo-Nazi elements now glossed over in western narratives – were engaged in a vicious civil war with ethnic Russian communities in Ukraine’s east. That region, the Donbas, is where Moscow has been focusing its military advances.

Human rights violations by Ukrainians against other Ukrainians were regularly committed during the eight-year civil war, as western monitors documented at the time. Such crimes are almost certainly continuing under cover of the war against Russia, but with the aid now of western arms shipments.

Ignoring abuses by Ukrainian forces gives them a free hand to commit crimes not only against Russian soldiers but also against the large number of Ukrainians who are not seen as loyal to Kyiv.

A failure to closely scrutinise how and where western artillery is being used is almost certain to result in more, not less, of the kind of Ukrainian crimes Amnesty has just highlighted.

Western governments, and publics, need to be confronted with the likely consequences of flooding the battlefield with weapons before they prefer such a policy over pursuing diplomatic solutions.

Ultimately, allowing one side only to be criticised for its crimes – reinforcing the simple-minded narrative of good guys versus bad guys – is likely to fuel the war rather than resolve it.

War-mongering

Amnesty’s conduct over this latest report is not exceptional. It is part of a pattern of behaviour by a western human rights community vulnerable to political and financial pressures that detract from its ostensible mission. 

As the near-exclusive focus on Russian crimes in Ukraine illustrates, international humanitarian law is all too often interpreted through the prism of western political priorities.

There has long been a revolving door between the staff of prominent human rights groups and the US government. And pressure from elite donors – who are invested in these dominant narratives – doubtless plays a part, too.

Anyone departing from the narrow political consensus imposed by western political and media elites is defamed as spreading Russian “disinformation”, or for being apologists for dictators like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad or Libya’s late ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Criticisms of Israel, meanwhile, are demonised as proof of antisemitism. 

Certainly, Russian, Syrian and Libyan leaders have committed war crimes. But the focus on their crimes is all too often an excuse to avoid addressing western war crimes, and thereby enable agendas that advance the interests of the West’s war industries.

I experienced this first hand during the month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. Israel accused Hezbollah of using its own population as “human shields” – framed by the Norwegian politician and United Nations official Jan Egeland as “cowardly blending” – an allegation lapped up by the western media.

Whatever the truth of that claim, it presented a very one-sided picture of what took place during that summer’s fighting. Though no one was allowed to mention it at the time because of Israel’s strict military censorship laws, it was common knowledge among Israel’s minority of Palestinian citizens that many of their own communities in northern Israel were being used as locations for Israeli tanks and artillery to fire into Lebanon.

The Israeli army had forcibly recruited these third-class citizens as human shields, just as the Ukrainian army is now accused by Amnesty of doing to civilians.

I saw for myself a number of the locations where Israel had installed batteries in or next to the minority’s communities. There were later Israeli court cases that confirmed this widespread practice; Palestinian politicians in Israel raised the matter in the Israeli parliament; and a local human rights group later issued a report documenting examples of these war crimes.

But these revelations never gained any traction with either the western media or human rights groups. Western publics were left with an entirely false impression: that Hezbollah alone had endangered its own civilians, even though Israel had undoubtedly done the same or worse.

The reality could not be acknowledged because it conflicted with western political priorities that treat Israel as a valued ally with a moral army and Hezbollah as a depraved, bloodthirsty terrorist organisation.

Saints and sinners

Human rights groups reporting on the 2006 Lebanon war actively echoed these self-serving western narratives that unfairly differentiated between Hezbollah and Israel, as I highlighted at the time.

I found myself in a very public row with Human Rights Watch over comments made by one of its researchers to the New York Times claiming that Hezbollah had intentionally targeted Israeli civilians whereas Israel had avoided targeting Lebanese civilians.

First, it completely failed to fit the known facts of the war. Israel’s strikes on Lebanon had caused a disproportionately large number of civilian deaths, despite the use of precision weapons. Hezbollah, using far more primitive rockets, meanwhile, had killed mostly soldiers, not civilians. 

But more problematic still, HRW had ascribed intentions to each side – good and bad – when it could not possibly know what those intentions were. As I wrote at the time of its researcher’s comments:

Was he or another HRW researcher sitting in one of the military bunkers in northern Israel when army planners pressed the button to unleash the missiles from their spy drones? Was he sitting alongside the air force pilots as they circled over Lebanon dropping their US-made bombs or tens of thousands of ‘cluster munitions’, tiny land mines that are now sprinkled over a vast area of south Lebanon? Did he have intimate conversations with the Israeli chiefs of staff about their war strategy? Of course not. He has no more idea than you or I what Israel’s military planners and its politicians decided was necessary to achieve their war goals.

HRW’s comments made sense only in a political context: that the group faced enormous pressure from US politicians and funders to focus on Hezbollah’s crimes. It also faced a damaging vilification campaign led by Israel lobbyists who wished to shield Israel from scrutiny. They accused the group’s senior staff of antisemitism and spreading a blood libel.

It looked very much like HRW caved into that pressure, just as Amnesty is now effectively doing in apologising for upsetting Ukrainian partisans and those emotionally invested in the one-sided narrative they hear constantly from their politicians and media.

Neither Amnesty nor Human Rights Watch responded to a request for comment. 

The reality is that western publics need more, not less, scrutiny of the crimes committed in wars, if only to tear the facade off narratives designed to paint a picture of saints and sinners – narratives that dehumanise official enemies and fuel more war.

The minimum needed to achieve that is an independent, fearless, vigorous human rights community, not an apologetic one. 

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US base Al-Tanf in Syria targeted with drone attack

15 Aug 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The so-called International Coalition claims it thwarted an unmanned aerial systems attack near a US occupation military base in Syria.

The drone attack on US occupation Al-Tanf base in Syria

The US occupation military base in Al Tanf in Syria, which is located on the Iraq-Syrian border, was targeted with a drone attack, news sources reported on Monday.

The attack was carried out by the Iraqi Resistance drone unit, the Iranian news agency Mehr quoted an Iraqi security source as saying.

The Iraqi source indicated that the Iraqi Resistance targeted the US occupation base in Al Tanf using several bomb-carrying drones, Mehr reported.

The so-called International Coalition said it thwarted an “unmanned aerial systems [UAS]” attack near a US military base in Syria, with no casualties or material damage reported.

“Operation Inherent Resolve forces, in coordination with our Maghaweir al-Thowra [MaT] partners, responded to an attack by multiple unmanned aerial systems in the vicinity of Al-Tanf Garrison at approximately 6:30 a.m.,” the coalition said in a statement.

The so-called coalition claimed that its forces “successfully engaged one UAS preventing its impact. A second UAS detonated within a MaT forces compound resulting in zero casualties or reported damage.”

In response, Major General John Brennan, the commander of the coalition, claimed that “such attacks put the lives of innocent Syrian civilians at risk and undermine the significant efforts by our Partner forces to maintain the lasting defeat of ISIS [Islamic State].”

Brennan added that the “coalition personnel retain the right to self-defense, and we will take appropriate measures to protect our forces.”

According to Rudaw, “There have been at least 11 rocket and drone attacks against sites housing American forces in Iraq and Syria this year.”

Syrian air defenses confront Israeli aggression on Tartus

The attack on the US occupation base in Syria comes hours after the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) confirmed that Syrian air defenses intercepted “hostile targets in the sky of Tartus and in the air of the Qalamoun mountain range near the Lebanese border.”

Earlier, Al Mayadeen correspondent in Damascus reported that three explosions were heard in the sky of the Syrian city of Tartus.

Our correspondent added that the Syrian air defenses engaged Israeli missiles targeting positions in the vicinity of Tartus, noting that the aggression was carried out by Israeli warplanes from over Lebanese territory.

In a statement, a military source said that “the Israeli enemy carried out at 20:50 today a missile aggression, targeting some points in Damascus countryside using southeastern Beirut’s air space and coinciding with another one targeting some points southern Tartous using the Mediterranean airspace.”

“The aggression led to the death of three soldiers, the wounding of three others,” the source indicated.

US reviews Israeli plans for strikes against Iranian targets in Syria

According to current and former US officials, “Israel” secretly coordinates with the US on many of the airstrikes it conducts in Syria.

Behind the curtains, current and former officials say that for several years, many Israeli missions have been reviewed in advance for approval by senior officials at US Central Command and the Pentagon.

This means that the formal coordination was previously unknown, and the secrecy surrounding it demonstrates how Washington has sought to support its Israeli ally.

The US review, according to the Wall Street Journal, mainly focuses on Israeli missions in eastern Syria that pass close to the US occupation’s Al-Tanf base.

What is the US doing in Syria?

Besides being an occupation that backs armed groups for its own operations and agenda in the region, the US occupation forces continue to steal Syrian oil by smuggling it from their bases in Syria to their bases in Iraq.

Convoys of tens of vehicles, including tankers loaded with stolen oil from oil fields occupied by US forces in Syria, are frequently seen crossing toward northern Iraq, in addition to trucks loaded with military equipment.

US troops loot 84 oil tankers from Syria, smuggle them into Iraq

On Sunday, SANA reported that the US occupation forces in Syria looted 89 oil tankers from Syria and smuggled them into Iraq through illegal crossings.

A convoy of 89 oil tanks left from Al-Yaarubiyah, Al-Hasakah Governorate, using the illegal border crossing of Al-Mahmudiyah in northeastern Syria to get to Iraq, SANA also said on Saturday.

The United States has been for years supporting militias against Damascus, and the US-backed forces are currently occupying parts of the provinces of Al-Haskah, Deir Ezzor, and Raqqa, where the largest Syrian oil and gas fields are located.

The actions carried out by the United States constitute state piracy with the aim of plundering Syria’s oil resources and depriving the Syrians of their own resources amid a harsh economic situation caused largely by the occupiers, the Americans themselves.

In late July, a convoy of 35 vehicles with tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil that the US occupation forces control, as well as several covered trucks, traveled through the unauthorized Al-Mahmudiyah crossing, which was allocated by the US occupation forces more than two years ago to steal Syrian oil, one day after they smuggled 14 tankers loaded with Syrian oil.

US Occupation Base Targeted with Drones

August 15, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

News sources reported that the US occupation’s military base of al-Tanf, located along the Iraqi-Syrian border, was targeted by drones on Monday morning.

An Iraqi security source said that the operation was carried out by the Iraqi Resistance drone unit.

The source emphasized that the Iraqi Resistance targeted the US base in al-Tanf using several explosive-laden drones.

No further information has yet been published regarding the possible number of casualties and damages caused by the operation.

This is not the first time that this US occupation base has been targeted.

Biden war criminal, Taiwan part of China: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters

August 9, 2022

Source: CNN

By Al Mayadeen English 

Pink Floyd’s co-founder Roger Waters criticizes the United States over its role in the Ukraine war while underlining that Taiwan is part of China.

British singer-songwriter Roger Waters of Pink Floyd

China is not encircling Taiwan, for the latter is part of China, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters told CNN during an interview on Monday, sparking controversy against the British artist.

In an interview with CNN‘s Michael Smerconish, Waters responded to comments from Smerconish that China was “encircling Taiwan”, saying: “They [the Chinese forces] are not encircling Taiwan! Taiwan is part of China.”

“And that’s been absolutely accepted by the whole international community since 1948, and if you don’t know that, you are not reading enough,” the singer added.

The comments led to a large-scale campaign of hate against the British artist.

China announced carrying out fresh military drills around Taiwan Monday, days after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island escalated tensions between the two powers.

Pelosi’s visit led China to announce ending cooperation with the United States on a number of issues such as climate change, anti-drug efforts, and military talks.

The US official’s visit to Taipei triggered a series of Chinese large-scale military drills east of the Taiwan Strait, as well as massive rows between Beijing and Washington.

“Try and figure out what the United States would do if the Chinese were putting nuclear-armed missiles into Mexico or Canada,” Waters stressed.

Waters responded to questions about his This Is Not a Drill live show, which sees an image of Joe Biden appear among pictures of “war criminals”.

He backed his position by underlining that this was because Biden was “fueling the fire in the Ukraine.”

US President Joe Biden among the “war criminals” in George Waters’ “This Is Not a Drill” live show

It is a “huge crime,” he said. “Why won’t the United States of America encourage [Volodymyr] Zelensky, or whatever his name is, the [Ukrainian] President, to negotiate, obviating the need for this horrific, horrendous war?”

He went on to say that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine was to do with the “action and reaction of NATO pushing right up to the Russian border.”

Waters brought up the ratification of the Minsk agreement, calling on Zelensky to explain why “when he stood on the platform of ratifying the Minsk agreements, which he did when he was elected by 73% of the Ukrainian population that was able to vote.”

“After that, somebody whispered in his ear, or he completely changed his mind about making peace in the Donbass and about solidifying the Minsk agreement and making peace with their Russian neighbors, and obviating the need for this horrific, horrendous war. You’re killing – we don’t know how many Ukrainians,” Waters underscored, holding Zelensky accountable for what has taken place in Ukraine.

His position backs that of Moscow, who had been warning NATO and the European Union against pushing toward the Russian border, but its warnings fell on deaf ears and culminated in the Ukraine war.

Saudi airspace open before Israelis but not Yemenis: Al-Houthi

Aug 9 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Ansar Allah chief Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi underlines Sanaa’s stance in support of the Palestinian cause and condemns “Israel” and the United States.

Ansar Allah leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi during a speech on August 8, 2022 (Ansar Allah’s Website)

There are aggressive steps being taken against those who oppose the Israeli occupation and counter American hegemony and normalization, Ansar Allah leader Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi said on Monday.

“The Americans and the Israelis want to deviate the Ummah from the right path, and the Israeli-US views corrupt human society, especially the Islamic society,” Al-Houthi added.

“The Americans and Israelis cannot accept our nation being independent and rejecting subordination,” he said. “The enemies seek to deviate the Ummah so that  it is loyal, obedient, and submissive to them […] the Saudi airspace is open to the Israelis and closed to the Yemeni people.”

The main goal of the enemies, he said, is normalization, which is an approach they are taking toward many Arab regimes. He also stressed the Sanaa government’s stance in support of the Palestinian cause, calling on the Islamic and Arab countries to take an explicit stance against the Israeli occupation.

Regarding the recent Israeli offensives on Gaza, Al-Houthi said: “The recent Israeli escalation, which was confronted by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is a message that reminds us that the enemy continues to commit its crimes.”

“The Israeli tactic comprising of targeting a Palestinian faction while saying it is not targeting other factions is a means of trickery aimed at driving a wedge between the resistance factions,” Sayyed Al-Houthi underlined.

The Israeli occupation’s aggression on Gaza was conducted under the pretext of “Tel Aviv” targeting high-ranking officials in Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) while murdering dozens of innocent civilians, including children.

“The normalizing regime’s enmity toward the freedom fighters in Palestine is flagrant, so much so that the Saudi regime imprisoned humanitarian workers,” the Yemeni leader explained.

The leader of the Ansar Allah movement called on the Palestinian resistance factions “not to allow this Israeli tactic to succeed,” while urging the Palestinian people “to remain in a state of constant readiness to confront the enemies at any moment during the temporary truce.”

Al Mayadeen‘s source reported that there was a ceasefire agreement reached in the Gaza Strip on late Sunday. The sources noted that the agreement was reached with the Israeli occupation agreeing to the PIJ’s demands in full.

The Israeli occupation began on August 5 with aggression on the Gaza Strip on Friday, and Al-Quds Brigades announced that Tayseer Al-Jaabari, a military commander in the northern Gaza Strip, had been martyred.

Consequently, Al-Quds Brigades launched an operation in response to the Israeli occupation’s aggression on the Gaza Strip, by launching salvoes of rockets toward the occupied Palestinian territories.

Our correspondent reported that the death toll of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip has reached 41 martyrs so far, with 311 others wounded.

Palestine Resists

Kicking off with a brutal Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip that claimed the lives of nearly a dozen civilians, including children, “Tel Aviv” is launching a campaign of aggression on the blockaded strip. This promoted the Palestinian resistance to take up arms against the occupation and resist its barbaric offensives.

Related Stories

US Approves Massive Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

August 3, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The United States has approved massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates worth more than $5 billion, amid criticism of their ongoing military aggression in Yemen which has inflicted heavy civilian casualties.

The notice of approval came on Tuesday, two weeks after US President Joe Biden made a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia and met with Saudi leaders in an effort to reset strained relations with Riyadh.

The State Department said Saudi Arabia would buy 300 Patriot MIM-104E missile systems and related equipment for an estimated $3.05 billion. The missile systems can be used to shoot long-range incoming ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as fighter jets.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Gulf region,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The proposed sale will improve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by replenishing its dwindling stock of PATRIOT GEM-T missiles,” it added.

Separately, the United States will sell Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] System Missiles and related equipment to the UAE for $2.25 billion.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important regional partner. The UAE is a vital US partner for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the State Department said.

Although Tuesday’s approvals are for defensive weapons, they may still draw opposition in Congress, where lawmakers backed the Biden administration’s decision last year to ban US sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE because of their actions in Yemen.

The Biden administration is also considering lifting its ban on US sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Since the beginning of the war in 2015, the use of US weapons by the Saudi-led coalition in airstrikes on civilian targets in Yemen has been well documented.

As a candidate, Biden had vowed to make the Saudi kingdom a “pariah” on the global stage over the war in Yemen as well as the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Soon after taking office, Biden appeared to be delivering on the promise, when he declared in February 2021 a halt to US support for the Saudi military operations in Yemen, including “relevant arms sales.”

His administration also released US intelligence findings that concluded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] personally approved the operation targeting Khashoggi.

Biden, however, has softened his approach in recent months, moving to improve US relations with Saudi Arabia in the hope of getting the world’s top oil exporter to increase oil production in order to offset loss of Russian supplies to the global market and drive down gasoline prices at home.

China Slams Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit As ‘Extremely Dangerous’

 August 1, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

China slammed the visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan as “extremely dangerous,” warning that the trip was a threat to stability in the region.

Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday on a trip she claimed demonstrated the United States’ solidarity with the self-governed island, which China claims as its own.

Washington does not recognize Taiwan as an independent state.

Pelosi explained her reasons for visiting Taiwan in an editorial published in the Washington Post minutes after she arrived on the island.

“We cannot stand by as the CCP [the Chinese Communist Party] proceeds to threaten Taiwan – and democracy itself,” she claimed in the opinion piece.

Pelosi – the highest-ranking US official to travel to Taiwan in 25 years – arrived at Songshan Airport in downtown Taipei on a flight from Malaysia to begin a visit that risks pushing US-Chinese relations to a new low.

Her delegation was greeted by Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, and Sandra Oudkirk, the top US representative in Taiwan.

China immediately condemned Pelosi’s visit, with the foreign ministry saying it seriously damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The visit “has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations, and seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said in a statement.

“These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it,” the statement read.

Chinese warplanes buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait before Pelosi’s arrival. The Chinese military has been put on high alert and will launch “targeted military operations” in response to her visit, the defense ministry said.

The People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command announced that it will conduct joint air and sea drills near Taiwan starting on Tuesday night, and test-launch conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan.

EU finds signs of Israeli spyware use on top official phones: Letter

28 Jul 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders stated in a letter dated July 25 that Apple alerted him in November 2021 of possible hacking of his smartphone by the Israeli Pegasus software.

Israeli cyber firm NSO Group’s exhibition stand at an Israeli security expo in “Tel Aviv” (Reuters)

The European Commission, the EU executive’s arm in Brussels, has discovered indications that the phones of some of its top officials have been targeted with spy software designed by Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders stated in a letter dated July 25 to Dutch MEP Sophie in’t Veld that Apple alerted him in November 2021 of possible hacking of his smartphone by the Israeli Pegasus software.

Pegasus is Israeli spyware that targeted prominent and influential figures all around the globe, including politicians and journalists.

The Israeli NSO Group-developed spyware leaks stated that there are more than 50,000 records of phone numbers that NSO clients selected for surveillance since 2016.

An internal investigation did not “confirm that Pegasus had succeeded in infecting the devices, personal or professional,” of him or other EU employees as per Reynders’ letter.

But “several device checks led to the discovery of indicators of compromise”, the letter said, stressing that “it is impossible to attribute these clues to a specific perpetrator with certainty.”

The letter did not provide further details on the outcome of the Commission’s investigation, which is still ongoing, citing security concerns.

It is worth noting that in ‘t Veld is part of an EU Parliament investigation into Pegasus, which is looking into allegations of Pegasus spyware used by EU governments, including HungaryPoland, and Spain.

After a scandal involving the use of Pegasus to hack top politicians’ mobile phones, Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, vowed last month to tighten oversight of the country’s secret services.

The scandal broke in April, when Citizen Lab, a Canadian cybersecurity watchdog, revealed that the phones of more than 60 people associated with the Catalan separatist movement had been tapped with Pegasus spyware.

Reynders stated that the commission had sent requests for additional information on Pegasus usage to Hungary, Poland, and Spain.

Almost a year now, the world continues to react to the Pegasus spyware scandal as press reports continue to reveal how it aimed to target powerful and prominent figures, including politicians, journalists, and activists.

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