You Only Hate Assad Because Your TV Told You To

By Caitlin Johnstone

“Whame paintt we’ve been undergoing to a large extent is a form of psychological abuse, actually, by very narcissistic, hegemonic governments and officials for a very long time. It’s a form of gas lighting where actually our own faith in our ability to judge a situation, and to some extent even our own identity, has been eroded and damaged to the point where we’re effectively accepting their version of reality.” ~ Vanessa Beeley

May 27, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The only thing keeping westerners from seeing through the lies that they’ve been told about Syria is the unquestioned assumption that their own government could not possibly be that evil. They have no trouble believing that a foreigner from a Muslim-majority country could be gratuitously using chemical weapons on children at the most strategically disastrous time possible and bombing his own civilians for no discernible reason other than perhaps sheer sexual sadism, but the possibility that their government is making those things up in order to manufacture consent for regime change is ruled out before any critical analysis of the situation even begins.

Despite the evil and unforgivable invasion of Iraq having happened a mere fourteen years ago, sold to the public based on nothing but lies and mass media propaganda, mainstream America is unwilling to consider the possibility that this is happening again. Unwilling to turn and face the implications of what this would mean for their worldview, their self-image, and the entire system they’ve developed for examining and interpreting their experience of their lives up until this point.

Independent investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley has emerged from her latest trip to Syria burning with a new kind of fire. There’s something in her voice and the posture she now takes which conveys a new kind of authority, a sense that she has now seen enough and gathered enough evidence to observe unmasked the full picture of this monster of deceit she’s been fighting.

In her recent phenomenal interview on The Sane Progressive, Beeley shreds the entire work of fiction we’re being fed, from small details which show that the “White Helmets” are literally nothing other than Al-Qaeda members wearing special hats, to a breakdown of the way NGOs are used by government foundations and plutocrats to help construct propaganda narratives, all the way up to a big-picture analysis of the general unwholesome dynamic that gave rise to these despicable manipulations in the first place.

If you can set aside one hour of free time in the next few days, please give it to this important interview. If you have more time, watch it again, take notes, pause frequently, and research what she’s saying. You’ll never find such a densely-packed arsenal of weaponry for use in our media war against America’s unelected power establishment.

Beeley’s statements about the White Helmets (who, despite their ubiquitous image in the west, nobody in East Aleppo had even heard of during her time there last year) have now been backed by none other than award-winning journalist John Pilger, who called them “a complete propaganda construct” in a recent interview.

I have lost all patience with people who involve themselves in the conversation about the current Syrian administration by acknowledging the existence of western lies and propaganda about Syria and yet still maintaining that Assad is an evil dictator who needs to be deposed somehow.

This is an astonishingly common perspective in online discourse about Syria even among people who are relatively woke to what’s going on; they see it as the more moderate and well-reasoned position to simultaneously acknowledge that the US power establishment is known to use lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture public consent for devastating acts of military violence, and also that Assad is horrible and evil.

There’s this odd, unquestioned assumption that the most honest position to espouse when two narratives contradict each other is to stand right in between them. This is a logic fail; it is a result of bad thinking. The midway point between two positions is not always the most truthful ground; when slavery was being debated, the correct position between “slavery is great” and “slavery is evil” was not “slavery is okay sometimes”. The correct position between “kill all Jews” and “don’t kill any Jews” is not “kill some of the Jews”. The correct position between “Our leaders are lying to us about Syria to manufacture consent for a regime change invasion” and “Assad is an evil dictator who needs to be deposed” is not “Well they’re both kinda true, it’s complicated.”

In reality, we cannot know with any degree of certainty how good or bad a leader Assad is. There’s too much smoke in the air, too much propaganda and deliberate deceit clouding our vision to get a clear picture of the complete political dynamic of an entire government. No reasonable, clear-thinking person can justifiably say with any degree of confidence that Assad is an evil dictator. There is no way to know.

What we can know with absolute certainty is that we are being lied to about Syria by western governments and the mass media propaganda machines which promote their oligarchic agendas. The mountains of evidence that are coming out against the White Helmets, the fact that Amnesty International is the same organization that promoted the false Nayirah testimony which was used to manufacture consent for the Gulf War, the fact that CNN recently staged a fake interview featuring a seven year-old girl who can’t speak English reading scripted anti-Assad propaganda to an unsuspecting audience; there is enough there to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the same power establishment that lied to us about Iraq is now lying to us about its neighbor Syria.

The only question is whether or not you have the emotional and intellectual integrity to face this reality.

We can also know that Assad is neither stupid nor insane. If you haven’t seen the interview he gave last month, check out the above video in which he tells his side of the story in perfect English. This is not the slobbering madman we’re asked to believe launched a sarin gas attack on his own civilians for no reason at the most inopportune time possible. Nor is he the strategic brute who gasses children to keep his citizenry fearing that there’s no limit to the savagery he’ll inflict upon them as in the narrative being promulgated by corporate media, since he tells them that he’d ever do such a thing in the interview.

It is possible that he is corrupt, it is possible that he has been needlessly oppressive in some ways; there’s no way to know in the current environment. But he is definitely neither stupid nor insane, as he would have needed to have been to have launched the Idlib gas attacks when he is alleged to have.

As the interviewer Debbie Lusignan said to Beeley

“Even if people are having a hard time because there is such a bombardment of disinformation and it’s very hard to sort it out and the alternative media is being suppressed and censored, basic common sense says that these are the same media outlets and the same political establishment structures that have been lying to us for all these other atrocities that we always find out after the fact were based on disinformation and manipulation and false information,” said Debbie. “So at this point, the American people themselves need to take some responsibility in terms of understanding that we have had such a history of this being the status quo, the way that the United States justifies and launches wars.”

“Our premise should be — they’re going to lie to us. And our burden of real proof should be through the roof.”

Is it possible that there is a power establishment governing your country which is so evil that it would engineer the deaths of children in a false flag attack to manufacture consent for a strategically valuable regime change it’s been seeking for decades? It’s uncomfortable to consider this possibility.

Much easier to believe there’s a depraved nutcase foreigner hurling chemical weapons and barrel bombs at civilians willy nilly who needs to be taken out by Good Guys. Much more difficult to do the rigorous intellectual and emotional work needed to escape from the institutional brainwashing Vanessa Beeley describes in her article “Gaslighting: State Mind Control and Abusive Narcissism” and do the necessary research to get a clear picture of what is going on. But you undeniably have the ability to make that choice, here and now as you finish this article.

Are you the sort of person who can face uncomfortable truths and revise their worldview accordingly, or the type who compartmentalizes and avoids them for the sake of cognitive comfort?

Step into the light.

This article was first published by 21wire

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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Interview with Parents of Venezuelan Man Set on Fire by Anti-Government Mob

The US regime change effort in Venezuela seems to be going full steam. On Saturday, May 20, a government supporter, 21-year-old Orlando Jose Figuera, was set on fire by a mob, most likely of the protestor-for-hire variety. The video above features an interview with his parents.

An RT report posted today contains the following:

Horrifying images from the scene show Figuera running while nearly naked with flames on his back. “A person was set on fire, beaten up, stabbed… They nearly lynched him, just because he shouted out that he was a ‘Chavista,’” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, referring to supporters of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela established by late leader Hugo Chavez.

Speaking on state TV, Maduro described the torching as “a hate crime and a crime against humanity.” The 21-year-old victim, who sustained heavy injuries, severe burns, and stab wounds, was taken to intense care.

Amazingly Figuera survived, or at least he’s still alive for the moment.

The Washington Post seems to be doing its faithful best to promote the regime-change effort. An article published today, headlined “Venezuela is Sliding into Anarchy,” says  Figuera was attacked by a “lynch mob,” but not until much further down in the story (a total of 13 paragraphs) do the writers finally get around to mentioning that the victim was a supporter of the government–and then the information is given in such a back-handed manner it is almost as if they are seeking to provide moral justification for what happened to him:

He was suspected of being a pro-government spy, according to some versions. Others alleged he was a thief.

The story also portrays anti-government protest leaders as nonviolent, while including the customary comments on the situation from a Western think tank–in this case the International Crisis Group

Gunson, of the International Crisis Group, said he did not think Venezuela’s opposition leaders could control the spreading turmoil or turn down the temperature. “Only a decision by the government to de-escalate would do it, and there is no sign of that,” he said. “Quite the contrary.”

“I think we will start to see curfews, mass arrests, a higher daily death rate and even worse violations of human rights,” said Gunson.

In other words, if the protests grow even more violent, it’s the government’s fault. The International Crisis Group, by the way, was co-founded by George Soros, who is today listed as a member of the Board of Trustees, according to Wikipedia. Other Jews on the board include former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, and Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea. And if all thls isn’t enough, the Wikipedia article also includes the following tidbit which would strongly suggest the International Crisis Group cannot possibly be an objective observer of events in Venezuela:

Moisés Naím, a member of the board of directors of the International Crisis Group served as the Venezuelan Minister for Development for the centrist government of Carlos Andrés Pérez. In 2011 the International Crisis Group released a report intimating that the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez might suffer “unpredictable, possibly violent consequences” if it did not audit the election results in which Chávez won.[15] The election results have been recognized as valid by 170 neutral international observers with the exception of the United States government, who along with allied governments, provides half of the funding for the International Crisis Group. (emphasis added)

None of this, of course, is mentioned in the Washington Post story.

By the way, former Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez survived a coup attempt by Hugo Chavez in 1992, but later was ousted after the Venezuelan Supreme Court found him guilty of embezzling 250 million bolivars.

Of this past Saturday’s events, Venezuela Analysis is reporting as follows:

The incident occurred during another day of anti-government protest that saw opposition supporters attempt to march on the Ministry of the Interior in downtown Caracas, despite lacking a permit for the route.

The march was preceded by a speech by Miranda Governor and former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles in which he called Maduro the “the biggest m—–f–cker in the country”.

“We will remain firm until this corrupt narco-dictatorship leaves Venezuela, until we have the change we want… If we have to risk our skin, we will risk it!” he told the crowds.

Although the march began peacefully, the mobilization later devolved into violent clashes as demonstrators tried to penetrate police lines around the western Caracas municipality of El Libertador.

It seems the Trump administration is fully on board with the regime change effort, and apparently Exxon-Mobil, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s former employer, has a particular interest at stake. This at any rate is the assessment in an article published several days ago by Eric Draitser:

There is a misconception spreading through the Beltway like an airborne virus, infectious in its obliviousness to reality: the idea that the administration of President Donald Trump is so bogged down by scandal and controversy that it cannot achieve any geopolitical and strategic objectives. In fact, the opposite is true. Like a cornered animal, Trump and his team are exceedingly dangerous, both in their unpredictability and, strangely enough, also in their predictability.

And when it comes to Venezuela, their strategy is transparent.

Oil reigns supreme in the minds of Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the rest of the administration. In the case of Venezuela, oil remains the lifeblood of its economy.  So in a very real sense, the White House and State Department’s interests converge with the economic imperatives of corporate America in the Bolivarian Republic.

Tillerson represents perhaps the perfect embodiment of U.S. government attitudes toward Venezuela. A slick oil man through and through, Tillerson has long sought to destabilize Venezuela in an attempt to reassert ExxonMobil’s supremacy in the country.

Venezuela’s recent rocky history begins with Chavez’s nationalization of the oil sector under the state oil company PDVSA in 2007. The Chavez government offered ExxonMobil book value for assets that it intended to assume control over, while the Tillerson-led company demanded market value, which they priced at roughly $15 billion.  Eventually, the World Bank’s arbitration court ordered Venezuela to pay $1.6 billion to ExxonMobil.

But ExxonMobil’s anger at Caracas was certainly not assuaged with that settlement agreement. In fact, the following decade saw ExxonMobil step up efforts to destabilize Venezuela’s socialist government using a variety of tactics.

The Atlantic Alliance’s “Holy War” against the Islamic State (ISIS): NATO’s Role in the Recruitment of Islamic Terrorists

According to Israeli Intelligence News Source

Global Research, May 22, 2017

This article was first published in September 2014.

Evidence amply confirms that NATO is behind the recruitment of “jihadist” terrorists.

The same Western governments which are waging a “war on terrorism” are the unspoken State Sponsors of Terrorism involved directly or indirectly in the financing, recruitment and training of “jihadists”.

While NATO leaders in Newport Wales [September 2014] debate the Atlantic Alliance’s role “in containing a mounting militant threat in the Middle East”, it is worth recalling that in 2011 at the outset of the war in Syria,  NATO became actively involved in the recruitment of Islamic fighters.

Reminiscent of the enlistment of the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO headquarters in Brussels in liaison with the Turkish High command, according to Israeli intelligence sources, was involved in the enlisting of thousands of terrorists:

“Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (Debkafile, August 31, 2011 emphasis added).

Confirmed by Israeli intelligence News, NATO played a key role in the delivery of weapons to Al Qaeda affiliated rebels in the Aleppo region bordering onto Turkey:

NATO and a number of European governments, most significantly the UK, have started airlifting heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels poised in Aleppo to fend off a major Syrian army offensive, according to debkafile’s exclusive military sources. They disclose that the first shipments were landed Monday night, June 17 [2013], and early Tuesday in Turkey and Jordan. They contained anti-air and tank missiles as well as recoilless 120 mm cannons mounted on jeeps. From there, they were transferred to rebel forces in southern Syria and Aleppo in the northwest. (Debkafile, June 18, 2013)

“Terrorists R Us”

Ironically, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron (who is hosting the NATO Summit in Wales), have asserted that they “will not be cowed by barbaric killers”:

“We will not waver in our determination to confront the Islamic State If terrorists think we will weaken in the face of their threats they could not be more wrong.” (Barack Obama and David Cameron, Strengthening the NATO alliance, op ed published in the London Times, September 4, 2014, emphasis added)

But these “Barbaric Killers” were created by the Western military alliance. They are serving the strategic interests of the U.S., Britain, not to mention Israel.

[file photo]

“They are Our Terrorists“. Without the terrorists, the “Global War on Terrorism” would fall flat. 

The Obama-Cameron narrative borders on ridicule. It is not only absurd, it is criminal.

What they are proposing is an all encompassing NATO mandate to “Go after Terrorist Entities” which they themselves created as part of an insidious intelligence operation to destabilize and destroy both Syria and Iraq.Inline images 1

British and French Special Forces have been actively training Syria opposition rebels from a base in Turkey.

Israel has provided a safe haven to Al Qaeda affiliated rebels including ISIS and Al Nusrah rebels in the occupied Golan Heights.

Netanyahu has met up with jihadist leaders in the Golan Heights. The IDF top brass acknowledges that  there are “global jihad elements inside Syria” supported by Israel.

Image left: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Shakes Hand with a wounded Al Qaeda Terrorist in occupied Golan.

Lest we forget, Al Qaeda was at the outset a creation of the CIA. Who is behind the ISIS terrorists?  The mainstream media is mum on the subject, despite mountains of evidence that they are creations of the Western military alliance.

 

Islamic State funded by Saudi Arabia enters Iraq

NATO’s Criminal Agenda

What we are dealing with is a criminal agenda under NATO auspices. The evidence amply confirms that the US and Britain in liaison with the Atlantic Alliance have relentlessly supported both the creation as well as development of an Islamic Terror Network which now extends from the Middle East and North Africa into sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia.

And now Obama and Cameron, whose governments are the architects of the Islamic State, are calling upon the Atlantic Alliance as well all on the governments of the 28 NATO member states to endorse the bombing campaign on Iraq and Syria as part of “counter-terrorism” operation.

The ISIS brigades are “intelligence assets” supported by US-NATO-Israel. They will not be the object of the bombings. Quite the opposite.

What is envisaged as part of the propaganda campaign is to use the “threat of the Islamic State” as a pretext and justification to intervene militarily under a “humanitarian” “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) mandate. The civilian population will not be protected.  Under this diabolical military-intelligence operation, The Islamic State (ISIS) brigades with Western Special Forces within their ranks are slated to be “protected”.

The War on Syria

From the outset of the war on Syria in March 2011, member states of the Atlantic Alliance as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have  (covertly) supported the terrorists –including al Nusrah and the ISIS– with a view to destabilizing Syria as a nation state. These actions were implemented in liaison with NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The process of recruitment and training of mercenaries had been sub-contracted to private security companies operating out of the Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Reports point to the creation of training camps in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Zayed Military City (UAE), “a secret army is in the making” was operated by Xe Services, formerly Blackwater. The UAE deal to establish a military camp for the training of mercenaries was signed in July 2010, nine months before the onslaught of the wars in Libya and Syria. (See Manlio Dinucci, A Secret Army of Mercenaries for the Middle East and North Africa, Il Manifesto. 18 May 2011)

Moreover, confirmed by CNN, security companies on contract to NATO member states were involved in training  Syria “opposition” death squads in the use of chemical weapons:

“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

NATO Supported the Terrorists in Libya

From the outset of NATO’s  2011 “humanitarian war” on Libya, the Atlantic alliance was working in close liaison with the “pro-Al Qaeda brigades” led by “former” Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leader Abdul Hakim Belhhadj  (Debka, Pro-Al Qaeda brigades control Qaddafi Tripoli strongholds seized by rebels, August 28, 2011 )

Abdul Hakim Belhhadj  received his military training in a CIA sponsored guerrilla camp in Afghanistan. He constitutes a CIA “intelligence asset” operating in the Libyan war theater. A 2011 report suggested that he had some 1,000 men under his command. (Libyan rebels at pains to distance themselves from extremists – The Globe and Mail, March 12, 2011)

The US-NATO coalition is arming the Jihadists. Weapons are being channeled to the LIFG from Saudi Arabia, which historically, since the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war, has covertly supported Al Qaeda. The Saudis are now providing the rebels, in liaison with Washington and Brussels, with anti-tank rockets and ground-to-air missiles. (See Michel Chossudovsky  “Our Man in Tripoli”: US-NATO Sponsored Islamic Terrorists Integrate Libya’s Pro-Democracy Opposition, Global Research, 3 April 2011)

 

“The Coup d’état Has Begun Which Will Divide America” [X22Report]

Source

There is a special investigator to investigate the Russian collusion fantasy. ~/~ Trump responds and says he has nothing to hide. ~/~ On May 3rd, Comey admits that there was no obstruction of justice and nobody asked him to stop the investigation. ~/~ 60% of the positions in government have been filled by Obama. ~/~ The deep state is dividing the US and they are pushing their agenda to remove Trump. ~/~ Venezuela crisis is worsening and the deep state wants to interfere via the UN. ~/~ Trump and South Korea agree that they would talk to Kim Jong Un. ~/~ Trump advisers want 50,000 troops in Afghanistan. ~/~ US coalition forces violate the de-escalation zone and fire upon the Syrian Army. ~/~ There is another piece of malware that is worse than wannacry.

All source links to the report can be found on the x22report.com site

The US-Iran Tussle over Iraq

The US-Iran Tussle over Iraq

Darko Lazar

Iraq has always been central to Washington’s pursuit of the ‘new Middle East’.

In a frantic search for alternatives, following the realization that the toppling of the Damascus government was no longer a realistic objective, Iraq has become even more important. Washington desperately needs to cut Iran off from Syria, and the road from Tehran to Damascus runs through Baghdad.

Speculation over the future of Iraq is coming into sharper focus with the approaching demise of the Daesh terror group.

The most advanced terrorist organization in history has played its part in reshaping the region. Now, the time has come to build the ‘new Middle East’ out of the ashes.

In this context, one of the more commonly asked questions is whether Iraq can be preserved as a unified state, or what Baghdad’s future foreign policy will look like.

In an effort to answer such questions, analysts are increasingly looking at Iraq as a battleground between the US and Iran – the two countries that wield the most influence among Baghdad’s political elites and Iraq’s military formations.

Severing the resistance axis

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Barack Obama pulled US troops out of Iraq in 2011. But the Americans made sure to leave behind a country devastated, and divided along sectarian lines. What’s more, Washington essentially set the stage for the creation of an entity that would morph into one that more resembles a state than a conventional terror group.

Thanks to Daesh, the Americans were quickly back in Iraq. By 2014, the number of US forces began to rise rapidly, currently estimated to be at just over 5,000 soldiers.

With billions invested in the sideshow operation against Daesh, the Americans needed boots on the ground in order to be able to exert their influence. Without military bases on Iraqi soil, Washington would be unable to challenge the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). These are better armed, trained and more motivated than any of the regular army formations, which are propped up by the US.

Naturally, after saving Baghdad from falling into the hands of Daesh, Tehran cannot afford to be indifferent about US regional ambitions, which are compatible with regimes supportive of terrorist groups, namely Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

The Iranians are equally mindful of agendas seeking to sever the resistance axis, which runs from Tehran to the Mediterranean.

These schemes also involve the possible opening of a new front in Syria’s remote southeastern desert, near the borders with Iraq and Jordan.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon ordered US fighter jets to strike a pro-Damascus militia heading towards the border town of al-Tanf. The attack comes just days after satellite images exposed a major US-Jordanian military build up along the border.

In fact, eastern Syria is a key strategic point in Damascus’ struggle to regain lost territory and keep an open frontier with Iraq and, by extension, toward Iran.

This is one of the main reasons why the Syrians and their allies have fought so hard to defend the biggest city in the east, Deir ez-Zor, which has recently come under a fresh wave of attacks, as the battles for Mosul and Raqqa have intensified.

Aside from American operations in Syria, Iran’s national security interests are threatened by pressures on Baghdad, and the prospects of US military bases right on the country’s doorstep.

The Trump administration has already started courting Iraqi Premier Haidar al-Abadi. Washington is lobbying for the Iraqi leader to sign off on a permanent American military presence in his country, as well as the construction of additional US bases.

According to Sheikh Qais al-Khazali, who heads the League of the Righteous – a faction under the PMU umbrella – “The US aims to strengthen its influence in the areas west of Iraq and east of Syria and to start the partition project.”

Al-Abadi is reportedly being pushed into a treaty that resembles the so-called ‘bilateral security agreement’ between the US and Afghanistan, which permitted nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in that country, after the international combat mission formally ended in 2014.

The American initiative, designed to undermine Iran’s regional influence, also calls for bringing Baghdad closer to the government in Riyadh.

Political scientist Mohammed Naanaa believes that this puts al-Abadi in an awkward position.

“Abadi will try to convince Iraq’s Shiite parties that he has taken the position of mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran to maintain American support, which is the role he can actually play. Abadi cannot afford to turn his back on Tehran or lose US support,” Naanaa said.

The Iranian response

Tehran recently appointed a new envoy to Baghdad. Iraj Masjedi is a brigadier general from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and had previously worked as an adviser for the Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani.

Upon taking up his post, Masjedi stated, “Iran wants an advanced, powerful, secure and unified Iraq.”

Meanwhile, General Soleimani reportedly applauded the appointment of Moustafa al-Kazemi as the head of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS), during the summer of last year.

Al-Kazemi is widely seen as an ally of Tehran, and his rise to the top of Iraq’s intelligence apparatus is appreciated significantly more by the Iranians than the Americans.

While the US remains obsessed with shaping the Iraqi army in a way that adheres to its aspirations, Iranian cooperation with Baghdad revolves primarily around the PMU – modeled on the Revolutionary Guards, and now an official component of Iraq’s security forces.

Following the PMU’s successes on the battlefield, the military formation has gained the status of both a respected and feared adversary. It now has the potential to be transformed into a major political force in a country that it helped to liberate.

For the Iranians, whose two main strategic objectives in Iraq include keeping American troops away from the Iranian border and defending Shiite bastions like Najaf and Karbala, this is a very welcome outcome in the battle against Daesh.

What happens to Iraq?

Amid joy and relief over the imminent defeat of Daesh, Iraqis are increasingly anxious over what the future holds.

The defeat of Daesh in Mosul in no way spells the end of Wahabi-fueled terrorism across Iraq, and American efforts to undercut Tehran’s alliance with Baghdad can only spell more trouble.

Although the US is likely to attempt to expand its military presence across western Iraq and eastern Syria in the hope of pressuring the resistance axis, this is unlikely to threaten the future of the Iraqi state.

Instead, Washington reserves the option of manipulating the Kurdish issue. If Erbil gets the green light from the Americans to secede from Iraq, Baghdad can do absolutely nothing to stop it.

As such, Abadi has to walk a fine line, fostering good relations with the Trump White House, while maintaining the strategic partnership with Tehran. And if that wasn’t tough enough, the Iraqis will also be expected to normalize ties with the Saudis, the puppet masters behind Daesh.

Source: Al-Ahed news

20-05-2017 | 13:46

Towards a « Latino Spring »?

by Thierry Meyssan

Anxiety is growing in Latin America – the United States and the United Kingdom are preparing a « Spring » for them on the model of the « Arab Springs ». Of course, this time, it will not be a case of spreading war and dividing the populations along religious lines – Latino citizens are practically all Christians – but by using elements of their local identities. The objective will, however, be the same – not to replace the governments with other governments, but to destroy the States in order to eradicate any possibility of resistance to imperialism.

| CARACAS (VENEZUELA) | 16 MAY 2017

JPEG - 42 kb

With time, many political leaders throughout the world have reinterpreted the « Arab Springs ». What at first seemed to be spontaneous revolutions against authoritarian governements is today perceived for what it is – an Anglo-Saxon plan for the destabilisation of an entire region of the world in order to put the Muslim Brotherhood into power. The memory of the « Arab Revolt of 1916 » – during which Lawrence of Arabia raised the whole region against the Ottoman Empire by feeding the People dreams of liberty in order, finally, to submit them to the British Empire – shows that London has the know-how.

It seems that the Anglo-Saxons are preparing a new wave of pseudo-revolutions in Latin America. Everything began with a decree by Barack Obama, on 9 March 2015, declaring a state of emergency in view of the extraordiary menace that the situation in Venezuela could bring to bear on the United States. This document caused an upsurge of indignation on the continent, forcing the US President to apologise during an international summit. But the decree was not cancelled, and the preparations for a new war continue.

Different from the Syrian Accountabilty Act by George W. Bush (2003), the text by Obama on Venezuela is a presidential decree, not a law. Consequently, the Executive does not need to account for the preparations to the Legislative body. It took eight years for the Anglo-Saxons to pass this act in the Arab world in general, but numerous elements lead us to believe that it will not take them as long to launch a programme for the destruction of Latin America.

At the time of the Olympic Games, trouble broke out in Brazil, aimed against President Dilma Rousseff. She was destituted after a parliamentary procedure which, although it was perfectly legal, was totally contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. This coup d’Etat was carried out under the control of the Central Bank – whose n°2 was a Brazilo-Israëlian – by deputies, many of whom have been shown to be guilty of corruption. The State security services remained curiously passive during the coup. This may be because, during the Olympic Games, they had been placed under the coordination… of Israëli experts. Currently, the new President, Brazilo-Lebanese Michel Temer, is now widely contested.

The situation in Mexico is hardly any better. The country is currently divided, de facto, into four. The North is enjoying strong expansion, while the South is in full recession. The political leaders have sold the national oil company, Pemex, and all its reserves, to the United States, who therefore have no further need of Middle East oil. Only the army seems to persist in believing in their homeland.

Exploiting the economic errors of the government, the Venezuelian opposition has managed to organise a few major peaceful demonstrations. Simultaneously, it also organised some small and extremely violent demonstrations during which several police officers and demonstrators were killed. Creating confusion, the international Press agencies are giving the impression that an anti-Chavez revolution has now begun, which is not the case at all.

Thus, the three main Latin-American states are destabilised at the same time. It seems that the US neoconservatives are anticipating the possibility of peace in Syria, and are pushing forward their Latin-American projects.

On Friday, during a televised speech, Venezuelian President Nicolás Maduro warned his people about the Anglo-Saxon project for a « Latin Spring ». He frequently mentioned and repeated the previous cases of Libya and Syria, speaking before an audience of intellectuals from the region, with whom, Syrian of heart, I was associated.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

Source
Al-Watan (Syria)

Thierry Meyssan

Thierry MeyssanPolitical consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in French – Sous nos Yeux. Du 11-Septembre à Donald Trump(Right Before our Eyes. From 9/11 to Donald Trump).

How U.S. Military Bases Back Dictators, Autocrats, and Military Regimes

How U.S. Military Bases Back Dictators, Autocrats, and Military Regimes

By David Vine

Information Clearing House” –  Much outrage has been expressed in recent weeks over President Donald Trump’s invitation for a White House visit to Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, whose “war on drugs” has led to thousands of extrajudicial killings. Criticism of Trump was especially intense given his similarly warm public support for other authoritarian rulers like Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (who visited the Oval Office to much praise only weeks earlier), Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan (who got a congratulatory phone call from President Trump on his recent referendum victory, granting him increasingly unchecked powers), and Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-ocha (who also received a White House invitation).

But here’s the strange thing: the critics generally ignored the far more substantial and long-standing bipartisan support U.S. presidents have offered these and dozens of other repressive regimes over the decades. After all, such autocratic countries share one striking thing in common. They are among at least 45 less-than-democratic nations and territories that today host scores of U.S. military bases, from ones the size of not-so-small American towns to tiny outposts. Together, these bases are homes to tens of thousands of U.S. troops.

“This pattern of daily support for dictatorship and repression around the world should be a national scandal in a country supposedly committed to democracy.”

To ensure basing access from Central America to Africa, Asia to the Middle East, U.S. officials have repeatedly collaborated with fiercely anti-democratic regimes and militaries implicated in torture, murder, the suppression of democratic rights, the systematic oppression of women and minorities, and numerous other human rights abuses. Forget the recent White House invitations and Trump’s public compliments. For nearly three quarters of a century, the United States has invested tens of billions of dollars in maintaining bases and troops in such repressive states. From Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have, since World War II, regularly shown a preference for maintaining bases in undemocratic and often despotic states, including Spain under Generalissimo Francisco Franco, South Korea under Park Chung-hee, Bahrain under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, and Djibouti under four-term President Ismail Omar Guelleh, to name just four.

Many of the 45 present-day undemocratic U.S. base hosts qualify as fully “authoritarian regimes,” according to the Economist Democracy Index. In such cases, American installations and the troops stationed on them are effectively helping block the spread of democracy in countries like Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kuwait, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

This pattern of daily support for dictatorship and repression around the world should be a national scandal in a country supposedly committed to democracy. It should trouble Americans ranging from religious conservatives and libertarians to leftists — anyone, in fact, who believes in the democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. After all, one of the long-articulated justifications for maintaining military bases abroad has been that the U.S. military’s presence protects and spreads democracy.

Far from bringing democracy to these lands, however, such bases tend to provide legitimacy for and prop up undemocratic regimes of all sorts, while often interfering with genuine efforts to encourage political and democratic reform. The silencing of the critics of human rights abuses in base hosts like Bahrain, which has violently cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators since 2011, has left the United States complicit in these states’ crimes.

During the Cold War, bases in undemocratic countries were often justified as the unfortunate but necessary consequence of confronting the “communist menace” of the Soviet Union. But here’s the curious thing: in the quarter century since the Cold War ended with that empire’s implosion, few of those bases have closed. Today, while a White House visit from an autocrat may generate indignation, the presence of such installations in countries run by repressive or military rulers receives little notice at all.

Befriending Dictators

The 45 nations and territories with little or no democratic rule represent more than half of the roughly 80 countries now hosting U.S. bases (who often lack the power to ask their “guests” to leave).  They are part of a historically unprecedented global network of military installations the United States has built or occupied since World War II.

Today, while there are no foreign bases in the United States, there are around 800 U.S. bases in foreign countries. That number was recently even higher, but it still almost certainly represents a record for any nation or empire in history. More than 70 years after World War II and 64 years after the Korean War, there are, according to the Pentagon, 181 U.S. “base sites” in Germany, 122 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea. Hundreds more dot the planet from Aruba to Australia, Belgium to Bulgaria, Colombia to Qatar. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, civilians, and family members occupy these installations. By my conservative estimate, to maintain such a level of bases and troops abroad, U.S. taxpayers spend at least $150 billion annually — more than the budget of any government agency except the Pentagon itself.

For decades, leaders in Washington have insisted that bases abroad spread our values and democracy — and that may have been true to some extent in occupied Germany, Japan, and Italy after World War II. However, as base expert Catherine Lutz suggests, the subsequent historical record shows that “gaining and maintaining access for U.S. bases has often involved close collaboration with despotic governments.”

The bases in the countries whose leaders President Trump has recently lauded illustrate the broader pattern. The United States has maintained military facilities in the Philippines almost continuously since seizing that archipelago from Spain in 1898. It only granted the colony independence in 1946, conditioned on the local government’s agreement that the U.S. would retain access to more than a dozen installations there.

After independence, a succession of U.S. administrations supported two decades of Ferdinand Marcos’s autocratic rule, ensuring the continued use of Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base, two of the largest U.S. bases abroad. After the Filipino people finally ousted Marcos in 1986 and then made the U.S. military leave in 1991, the Pentagon quietly returned in 1996. With the help of a “visiting forces agreement” and a growing stream of military exercises and training programs, it began to set up surreptitious, small-scale bases once more. A desire to solidify this renewed base presence, while also checking Chinese influence, undoubtedly drove Trump’s recent White House invitation to Duterte. It came despite the Filipino president’s record of joking about rape, swearing he would be “happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts just as “Hitler massacred [six] million Jews,” and bragging, “I don’t care about human rights.”

 

In Turkey, President Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic rule is only the latest episode in a pattern of military coups and undemocratic regimes interrupting periods of democracy. U.S. bases have, however, been a constant presence in the country since 1943. They repeatedly caused controversy and sparked protest — first throughout the 1960s and 1970s, before the Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, and more recently after U.S. forces began using them to launch attacks in Syria.

Although Egypt has a relatively small U.S. base presence, its military has enjoyed deep and lucrative ties with the U.S. military since the signing of the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1979. After a 2013 military coup ousted a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, the Obama administration took months to withhold some forms of military and economic aid, despite more than 1,300 killings by security forces and the arrest of more than 3,500 members of the Brotherhood. According to Human Rights Watch, “Little was said about ongoing abuses,” which have continued to this day.

In Thailand, the U.S. has maintained deep connections with the Thai military, which has carried out 12 coups since 1932. Both countries have been able to deny that they have a basing relationship of any sort, thanks to a rental agreement between a private contractor and U.S. forces at Thailand’s Utapao Naval Air Base. “Because of [contractor] Delta Golf Global,” writes journalist Robert Kaplan, “the U.S. military was here, but it was not here. After all, the Thais did no business with the U.S. Air Force. They dealt only with a private contractor.”

Elsewhere, the record is similar. In monarchical Bahrain, which has had a U.S. military presence since 1949 and now hosts the Navy’s 5th Fleet, the Obama administration offered only the most tepid criticism of the government despite an ongoing, often violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. According to Human Rights Watch and others (including an independent commission of inquiry appointed by the Bahraini king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa), the government has been responsible for widespread abuses including the arbitrary arrest of protesters, ill treatment during detention, torture-related deaths, and growing restrictions on freedoms of speech, association, and assembly. The Trump administration has already signaled its desire to protect the military-to-military ties of the two countries by approving a sale of F-16 fighters to Bahrain without demanding improvements in its human rights record.

And that’s typical of what base expert Chalmers Johnson once called the American “baseworld.” Research by political scientist Kent Calder confirms what’s come to be known as the “dictatorship hypothesis”: “The United States tends to support dictators [and other undemocratic regimes] in nations where it enjoys basing facilities.” Another large-scale study similarly shows that autocratic states have been “consistently attractive” as base sites. “Due to the unpredictability of elections,” it added bluntly, democratic states prove “less attractive in terms [of] sustainability and duration.”

Even within what are technically U.S. borders, democratic rule has regularly proved “less attractive” than preserving colonialism into the twenty-first century. The presence of scores of bases in Puerto Rico and the Pacific island of Guam has been a major motivation for keeping these and other U.S. “territories” — American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands — in varying degrees of colonial subordination. Conveniently for military leaders, they have neither full independence nor the full democratic rights that would come with incorporation into the U.S. as states, including voting representation in Congress and the presidential vote.  Installations in at least five of Europe’s remaining colonies have proven equally attractive, as has the base that U.S. troops have forcibly occupied in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, since shortly after the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Backing Dictators

Authoritarian rulers tend to be well aware of the desire of U.S. officials to maintain the status quo when it comes to bases. As a result, they often capitalize on a base presence to extract benefits or help ensure their own political survival.

The Philippines’ Marcos, former South Korean dictator Syngman Rhee, and more recently Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh have been typical in the way they used bases to extract economic assistance from Washington, which they then lavished on political allies to shore up their power. Others have relied on such bases to bolster their international prestige and legitimacy or to justify violence against domestic political opponents. After the 1980 Kwangju massacre in which the South Korean government killed hundreds, if not thousands, of pro-democracy demonstrators, strongman General Chun Doo-hwan explicitly cited the presence of U.S. bases and troops to suggest that his actions enjoyed Washington’s support. Whether or not that was true is still a matter of historical debate. What’s clear, however, is that American leaders have regularly muted their criticism of repressive regimes lest they imperil bases in these countries. In addition, such a presence tends to strengthen military, rather than civilian, institutions in countries because of the military-to-military ties, arms sales, and training missions that generally accompany basing agreements.

Meanwhile, opponents of repressive regimes often use the bases as a tool to rally nationalist sentiment, anger, and protest against both ruling elites and the United States. That, in turn, tends to fuel fears in Washington that a transition to democracy might lead to base eviction, often leading to a doubling down on support for undemocratic rulers. The result can be an escalating cycle of opposition and U.S.-backed repression.

Blowback

While some defend the presence of bases in undemocratic countries as necessary to deter “bad actors” and support “U.S. interests” (primarily corporate ones), backing dictators and autocrats frequently leads to harm not just for the citizens of host nations but for U.S. citizens as well. The base build-up in the Middle East has proven the most prominent example of this. Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution, which both unfolded in 1979, the Pentagon has built up scores of bases across the Middle East at a cost of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. According to former West Point professor Bradley Bowman, such bases and the troops that go with them have been a “major catalyst for anti-Americanism and radicalization.” Research has similarly revealed a correlation between the bases and al-Qaeda recruitment.

Most catastrophically, outposts in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have helped generate and fuel the radical militancy that has spread throughout the Greater Middle East and led to terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States. The presence of such bases and troops in Muslim holy lands was, after all, a major recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and part of Osama bin Laden’s professed motivation for the 9/11 attacks.

With the Trump administration seeking to entrench its renewed base presence in the Philippines and the president commending Duterte and similarly authoritarian leaders in Bahrain and Egypt, Turkey and Thailand, human rights violations are likely to escalate, fueling unknown brutality and baseworld blowback for years to come.

David Vine, a TomDispatch regular, is associate professor of anthropology at American University in Washington, D.C. His latest book is Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World

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