Iran at 39 years old: drones in Israel (?), trade with Europe, calm on the streets

Iran at 39 years old: drones in Israel (?), trade with Europe, calm on the streets

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The Iranian Revolution turned 39 on February 11.

It’s about time to get married! At least that’s what people tell me – I recently turned 40.

“Married to the revolution” is indeed a good description for Iranian society at 39…but the fullness of Iran’s marital bliss is a 100% domestic issue – after all, nobody knows what goes on behind a couple’s closed doors (nor do we want to know, LOL).

But looking at this from a foreign perspective, at 39 years old the Islamic Republic of Iran appears closer to than ever to a partial rapprochement with the West, and one based on mutually-beneficial cooperation. Such a rebalancing, everyone must concede, could only have been prompted by a vast and wide-ranging increase in Iranian strength since 1979.

The day before the anniversary, Israel claimed that they shot down an Iranian drone inside Israel…which is obviously preposterous. Even the Israeli military and media admitted they were “puzzled”.

It’s not that Iran should be worried about violating Israel’s sovereignty: Israel is, of course, an illegitimate state which keeps Palestinians in concentration camps, a practice which Israel’s elders leaned from the “legitimate” European states.

But Iran has nothing to gain from risking a drone flight in Israel. My guess is that the drone was captured in Syria and then hauled out in a fake show, but why now?

Just a couple days later police recommended that Netanyahu be indicted on bribery charges – Iran fear-mongering is among Netanyahu’s favourite diversionary tactics. Israel allegedly bombed Iran targets, which sends the message to the Israeli public that Netanyahu is all that stands between them and Iranian-led annihilation (which is also preposterous).

From another perspective, I lumped the fake drone news along with the (latest) unverified US claim of chemical weapons used by the Syrian goverment, France’s deluded assurance that people view their (latest) call for “humanitarian corridors” as not being motivated by neo-imperialism, as well as with the faltering invasion of Syria by NATO ally/ISIL supporter Turkey (which reminds us that bombing is easy, but that Turkey seemingly hasn’t won a ground battle since the Crimean War).

Indeed, things are going very badly for the West in Syria, so the Iranian drone seemed to me like another attempt to turn the tide with propaganda. While propaganda can start and prolong wars, it certainly can’t win them.

But just for fun, let’s play along and say that Israel’s drone claim is correct: It means that 39 years after Iranian Revolution it is Iran who is invading Israel, and not the other way around!

Who would have predicted that in 1979, LOL?

The drone is a stark reminder of just how much things have changed in Middle East foreign policy because of the success Iranian Islamic Revolution: Iran has become so advanced and so powerful that not only have they safeguarded their own popular revolution, but they are so regionally powerful that they are invited to help others resist Western/Israeli attempts to destabilize their own nations.

There is a long way to go, sure, but: my, my, my…Iran is still looking good at 39, no?! A real (Zionist, capitalist, imperialist) heartbreaker!

Europe is taking concrete steps to break with the US on Iran

The pattern is clear, and illustrated by China: a nation has a modern and popular revolution, the West declares open war/foments war by proxy in order to stop it, but that fails so there is a cold war via sanctions for decades in order to destabilise it, and when that fails…finally there is economic cooperation.

(Political cooperation with the West would be a violation of any modern revolution, of course, but diplomacy is always a must while we wait for their political modernization/enlightenment).

It’s a tough timeline which takes decades of revolutionary sacrifices – ask Cuba – but if the capitalists can’t beat them, they will eventually join them: money talks, ideology walks with capitalists.

Iran has 1/28th the weight of China, going by economic size, but capitalists love “untapped” markets….

Did Iran need new airplanes and high-end technology during the Rouhani government’s $100 billion spending spree in continental Europe in 2016? Absolutely, but there was a likely political aim as well: using trade to purchase a political détente with Europe in order to increase Iran’s political security.

And, so far in this young Western year, we have seen a raft of developments which show that Europe is actually moving forward with ending Iran’s political and economic isolation.

Hey, I’m as surprised as you are!

This month began with the news that France will start offering euro-denominated credits to Iranian buyers of its goods later this year. There is no link to the US, either via dollars, individuals or companies, so there is no way they can legally be accused of violating US sanctions. One can imagine that the US is not pleased at such a plan, but other EU countries are working on the same mechanism.

Late last year there was speculation – quite possibly fake news floated by Reuters intended to push it in that direction – that France’s Total would pull out of the South Pars oil deal, which represents the biggest deal between Iran and the West. But this month Total’s CEO said that work was progressing because they have gotten reassurances from French and European authorities regarding, “means to protect investments already made in Iran, even in the case of the return of (US) sanctions”.

Shortly after that was the announcement that the EU is actually threatening to impose “blocking sanctions” to protect European corporations from US sanctions, if Washington unilaterally pulls out of the JCPOA deal on Iran’s nuclear energy program. This “blocking” legislation dates from 1996 and was used to help the EU trade with Cuba, and now it may be dusted off for Iran. (However, such legislation did not prevent Obama from making billion-dollar fines on EU banks for working with Cuba – and such intimidating fines came after hi alleged “thaw” in Havana-Washington relations.)

France’s largest bank BNP Paribas received a $9 billion fine from the US because of working with Iran (and Cuba), while US companies like Apple avoid EU taxes by keeping them in UK dependents like Jersey. The reality is: the EU must be getting sick of these fines. They are clearly used not just to benefit US foreign policy but to advance US economic policy (like how US fines paved the way for GE’s takeover of France’s Alstom Energy), and so they are coming up with ways around the US.

Dare we say it, but: It has taken nearly three years, but it’s possible the JCPOA will finally start to be actually implemented, finally begin the re-integration of Iran into the global business system, and finally start showing Iran some benefits.

I always thought that because of Iran’s strict anti-Zionism the West would never make peace with Iran, but…we have these developments.

European capitalists surely make much more in trade with the US than in unrealised trade with Iran, so it doesn’t seem to fit in with their capitalist logic but…we have these developments.

It’s still early, and there are certainly more levers for Washington pull, but let’s just enjoy the birthday cake for now….

Peace in the streets, sorry to disappoint you

Yes, there was a short period of unrest in Iran over the Western New Year – initially sparked by a private bank failure (capitalism…such a permanent risk and threat) – but there is calm in the streets by the anniversary of the revolution’s victory, and there certainly is no threat of a counter-revolution.

Friends and well-wishers continually tell me how worried they are about an invasion of Iran, and I mostly just listen politely. During the recent economic protests I tried to explain why such fears are unnecessary. and also the democratic, grassroots basis for my beliefs.

My article even led to a reply from the World Socialist Web Site. Interestingly, the World Socialist Web Site has just begun publishing a 3-part series addressing my journalism on Iran and also my view of the WSWS, titled: “A reply to a proponent of ‘Iranian Islamic socialism’”. I am that proponent.

I haven’t had a chance to read Part 1 or Part 2 yet, but the WSWS does good work, mostly. Certainly, the centre and right publish only nonsense on Iran, so I’m glad to see one of the top-English-language leftist daily news sites is going to discuss Iran in-depth. They will filter everything through their Trotskyist lens, as they do for every single news item, but everybody has an editorial line (admitted or not). Certainly, all intelligent debate is welcomed…and hopefully useful to advancing both leftist causes and the appreciation of Iran’s many principled stances and policies.

“Iranian Islamic Socialism” is a phrase which quickly sums up the nature of the Iranian system, and “quickly summing up” is what we daily reporters are supposed to do, after all. The phrase is so obvious and accurate that it seems that if I take credit for it, someone will surely unearth a previous usage. Perhaps not in English media…and certainly not recently, where anything with the adjective “Islamic” is undoubtedly pejorative. But credit is certainly not important.

The Trotskyist WSWS may not be full supporters of Iranian Islamic Socialism…but we’ll have to wait and see. Certainly, they want to push the Trotskyist view of socialism, and will likely insist that Trotskyism is the “only real” socialism. Like many Western leftists, they may reflexively think the term “Islamic socialism” is an oxymoron, but I hope they dig a bit deeper.

Because I obviously disagree, have given have given extensive proofs, and remain unwilling to cede the very broad concept of socialism to a single, universal conception…and that is why I am not a Trotskyist, LOL! Regardless: point-counterpoint, sharing views, elevating the idea over the personal ego – this is not just part of journalism, but part of a functioning society.

The tangible basis for why Iran’s protests did not morph into a Trotskyist revolution are so simple and obvious – and already addressed in my first column – so let’s ask a more difficult question: what is the intangible basis?

That is a serious question: formal societal structures are propelled by an intangible spirit – otherwise they collapse, surely.

Khaste nabasheed – don’t be tired

This is the standard greeting in Iran. Kind of strange, perhaps, but is it any more curious than Italians who say “ready” when they answer a telephone?

At 39, the Iranian people are not tired of the revolution. Since 1979 some societies have gotten tired, although they certainly regret that now: Burkina Faso, Libya, Yugoslavia, the former USSR, even Russia.

It takes an intangible force to make and maintain a revolution, and if there’s one thing Muslims believe it’s that Islam is a force. By force, we can say “law”: something with an unseen gravity, yet which is trusted, verified and widely-observed.

Socialism is also a force, and also rests on a utopian faith (in my view). But I think we all agree that Marx’s writings are not considered divine revelation by anyone: they are simply excellent ideas regarding economics and democracy, and which contain great moral value.

Iran has not gone backwards by basing their revolution around Islam, an ideology which began some 1400 years ago: In the Western year 3418, will socialism be discredited as an economic and democratic ideology because it is old? I highly doubt it, but economic laws certainly change faster than moral ones.

What 1979 undoubtedly did was show that Iran wished to learn from their own history and experience – not from the West: They used what they know and feel in order to make their society better.

And using what they know not only passes the democratic test, but it’s a savvy wager to increase a society’s chances of creating successful progress. Even if one is an Aboriginal Australian living in the Outback, their elders will certainly pass on their history to their young: it’s a transmission of culture, morality, law and the savoir-faire of living in harmony with those around you – it’s essential. I offer no solutions to Australia’s Aborginals – as I am rather ignorant of their values – but I do know that asking Aboriginals to wholly adopt European ideals has been, and will continue to be, a total societal and spiritual disaster for them because they lack authenticity.

This is what Islam is in relation to the 1979 Revolution: a guarantee of democratic authenticity – it came from the People.

Also, as polls repeatedly show, Iranians democratically reject Western secularism in governance – probably because they feel that Islam provides Iran with scientific answers to social problems: the problems of the economy, the basis for whom should govern a society, what role should morality have in society, what are the proper and improper things to worship, etc.

Iran has chosen things which are not the same things Australian Aboriginals would choose, but Australian Aboriginals are certainly confronted by these questions, because they are human beings (despite historical Western opinion).

Indeed, only questions are universal, not answers (sorry Trotsky). Intangible questions will not change by 3418, I would imagine, much more than they have changed since 618….

If we imagine Western countries to be 39 years old, what do we see?

We see countries where humanism has been exposed as a fraud, and then defeated by individualism and materialism.

The West’s crisis is caused by the fact that their 1% claimed it was based on “humanism”, but advances in communication have proven it to be based on mere “individualism”. The whole world now knows that the 18th and 19th century “humanism” of the West was a Potemkin village: Western success is built on unpaid wages, atrocities and genocide, not kindness, spiritual growth or moral achievement.

These realities were hidden during that era due to a lack of communication technology, education and honesty. With the advantage of hindsight we see that humanism was only granted only to those who could pay for it – it’s obviously the same ideology at play now with Western liberalism and neoliberalism. Even more pathetically, across the entire West until the 1960s, human rights were only for those who were of a certain race and gender.

West European Humanism always could only provide dignity for itself, but it failed to provide dignity for the other person. That seems to require the gentle humility of religion, the economic and democratic planning of socialism, or both.

Contrary to the above in the 20th century were the socialist nations of Central and Eastern Europe. Sadly, socialism has become a minority in those countries, and they are blindly following the lead of Western nations. The hopelessly corrupt nature of the Eurozone & the Eurogroup is an article I wrote to discuss the power structure which Europe’s triumphant 1% has forced upon their People.

I have shown how humanism never really existed, but we can say that from around 1970 to 1991 they made an effort, or at least they believed they did – via their opposition to socialism, which they mistakenly claimed was inhumanly totalitarian. But, certainly, the fall of European socialism in 1989 marked the end of this limited humanism and the transition to full-on materialism.

Materialism is not only about happiness through material goods and sensual pleasure, but also biological/psychological determinism, technocratism, Taylorism/scientific management, never-ending moral relativity/political correctness, and whatever systematically erases the intangible from our personal lives and social planning due to a complete rejection of anything humankind broadly calls “the spiritual side”.

In 2018 we see clearly that materialism has defeated humanism in the West: The Eurozone is imperialising their own neighbors, they are waging war on the Muslim world, there is a pathetically hysterical Orwellian war on Russia, etc.

I would suggest that Western materialism simply cannot provide the spiritual fulfilment which the overwhelming majority of humans have craved throughout human history. Socialism can, it seems, but only if the ardent socialist realizes that in his or her own heart…their zeal is religious in its fact-ignoring, immaterial, ethically-based faith in socialist ideology.

But materialist Western socialism? Already gone the way of the dodo….

And the realisation of the spiritual bankruptcy of materialism – whether in capitalist or socialist economic-political form – is perhaps the greatest contribution of Iran’s revolution.

Iran is not alone: Many of the countries on the ascent or successfully holding back capitalist and/or imperialist forces at this arbitrary 1979 birthday date are heavily-influenced by faith-based ideologies: Russia (Russian Orthodox Church and a sizeable communist minority), China & Vietnam (communism, Confucianism/Taoism/Buddhism/folk religion), Cuba (Communism, Catholicism & Santeria), etc.

It is very easy to demonstrate that 2018 Iranians have rejected materialism: in their overwhelming support for our nuclear energy program.

LOL, we only have just one nuclear reactor! We have abundant energy supplies! People leave the tea warming on the stove all day long because energy is so cheap (an extremely wasteful practice)! Iran needs more energy like Goliath needed lifts in his shoes! Why are we going through all this pain over something we don’t even need?!

Western materialists cannot understand why they just can’t buy Iran off because the answer has everything to do with spirit and nothing to do with the materially tangible.

It’s a question of something intangible – morality (right and wrong) and personal dignity (Iran’s sovereignty).

Iranians are not clamouring for nuclear power, but they are incredibly united in their insistence that they should be able to have it if they want to. This is Iran at 39. This is the clear sign of an ideologically-committed nation and not a materialist-committed one.

And good things can only flow from this invisible source…and at least it can never be subject to US sanctions.

God willing, Iran will continue to affect the non-Iranian world positively for the next 39 years, even if that provokes another 39 years of sanctions. Certainly, how can Iran or its government be responsible for the wrongdoing of other nations against us? Supporters of the Iranian Revolution probably regularly apologise to God (because this is a rather prevalent concept in the Koran), but Westerners expecting to extract an apology for 39 years of Islamic Revolution are waiting in vain….

Philosophy aside, the recent developments with Europe are tenuous, but certainly a positive development to report. Maybe the West’s Cold War Against Iran is getting half-thawed, with Europe as Iran’s diplomatic bride?

On this day – the day after the West’s holiday for romance – I hope we have all been well-reminded that a revolution maintains the romance, or the revolution ceases.

As an Iranian that’s about as much as I feel comfortable discussing romance…in public, that is!

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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Trump Administration Planning Pinochet-type Coup in Venezuela

Trump Administration Planning Pinochet-type Coup in Venezuela

WAYNE MADSEN | 05.02.2018 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Trump Administration Planning Pinochet-type Coup in Venezuela

The retrograde Donald Trump administration is planning a military coup in Venezuela to oust the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking at the University of Texas prior to embarking on a multi-nation tour throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, said the military in Latin America has often intervened in Latin American politics during times of serious crises.

Tillerson’s remarks conjured up scenes from America’s dark past in Latin America. To make matters worse, Tillerson invoked the imperialistic Monroe Doctrine of 1823, stressing that it is as “relevant today as it was the day it was written.” The Monroe Doctrine, throughout American history, has been used by the United States to justify military interventions in Latin America, often with the aim of establishing “banana republics” subservient to Washington’s whims.

According to a BBC report, Tillerson prefaced his augmented his remarks by stating that he was “not advocating regime change and that he had no intelligence on any planned action.” Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger made similar remarks before the bloody September 11, 1973 Central Intelligence Agency-backed coup against Chile’s Socialist President Salvador Allende. While publicly rejecting any U.S. involvement in the destabilization of Chile’s democratically-elected government, Kissinger was working behind the scenes with Chile’s armed forces to overthrow and assassinate Allende. Eleven days after the Chilean coup, Kissinger was rewarded by Nixon by being named Secretary of State, along with keeping his National Security Adviser portfolio.

Ever since Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, came to power in 1999, the CIA has attempted at least one military coup — a putsch that was quickly reversed – in 2002, several “color revolution”-style street protests and disruptions, economic warfare, and CIA-initiated general strikes to force both Chavez and Maduro from power.

Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, has long eyed unfettered U.S. control over Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA). Tillerson’s Latin American itinerary betrays his plans for Venezuela. Tillerson will travel to Mexico, a nation that has a troubled relationship with the United States over Trump’s racially-tinged rhetoric. Tillerson and Trump’s National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster have charged Russia, without an iota of proof, with interfering in Mexico’s current presidential election campaign. Leftist MORENA party candidate, front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or “AMLO,” has had to fend off false charges that he has accepted financing from Russian interests. Right-wing candidate Jose Antonio Meade, Washington’s favorite, has charged that AMLO is backed by Russia. AMLO, calling the charges from Meade — who is running on the ticket of the narco-corrupted Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) – ridiculous, often jokingly wears a jacket bearing the name “Andres Manuelovich.”

Besides Mexico, Tillerson is also visiting Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica. Tillerson’s stops belie his actual intentions. Argentina, governed by Mauricio Macri, a real estate developer crony of Trump, and Peru, whose scandal-ridden president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has praised Trump, have led anti-Venezuela actions within the Organization of American States and other international institutions. Colombia has served as a base for CIA-backed paramilitary and intelligence operations against Venezuela. Due to U.S.-led sanctions against Venezuela, Colombia is now home to thousands of Venezuelan economic refugees, fertile ground from which to recruit foot soldiers in a coup against Maduro. All of Tillerson’s stops in Latin America – with the exception of Jamaica — are in countries that are members of the Lima Group, a bloc of nations seeking to peacefully ease Maduro from power in Venezuela.

Tillerson’s stopover in Jamaica is obviously designed to pry away from Venezuela’s orbit, several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) island states that have benefitted from inexpensive oil deliveries from Venezuela. According to the BBC, Tillerson even joked in Texas about Maduro’s ultimate fate: “If the kitchen gets a little too hot for him [Maduro], I am sure that he’s got some friends over in Cuba that could give him a nice hacienda on the beach.” For Venezuelans who support their government, Tillerson’s “joke” was a reminder that Chavez, after temporarily being ousted in the April 2002 coup, was held captive at the Antonio Diaz Naval Air Station on the Venezuelan island of La Orchila. Had the coup not failed, it is believed the United States was going to fly Chavez into exile, possibly to Cuba via the U.S. Naval Station and detainee gulag in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Tillerson, who is apparently still carrying the water for Exxon-Mobil, is reprising the role played by Harold Geneen, the president of International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT). Geneen, working with the CIA, provided $1 million to Allende’s opponent in the 1970 presidential election, Jorge Alessandri. ITT was also discovered to have financially supported the 1973 coup plotters in Chile. In 1964, Geneen and ITT worked with the CIA to overthrow the democratically-elected Brazilian government of Joao Goulart. Today, it is Exxon-Mobil and its plant inside the Trump administration – Tillerson – who are working overtime to play the roles of ITT and Geneen in attempting to overthrow Maduro in Venezuela; imprison on trumped up charges, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the former and possible future presidents of Brazil and Argentina, respectively; and return U.S. “gunboat diplomacy” to the Western hemisphere.

In a news conference in Mexico City, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray rejected Tillerson’s notion of a military coup in Venezuela to oust the Maduro government. Present at the news conference was Canadian External Affair Minister Chrystia Freeland, an outspoken enemy of Venezuela and Russia.

Tillerson has a visceral hatred for Venezuela that transcends Maduro and Chavez. In 1976, a year after Tillerson began working for Exxon, Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez nationalized Venezuela’s oil industry. Among the assets nationalized were Exxon’s holdings in the country. Chavez re-nationalized Exxon-Mobil’s assets in 2007, during Tillerson’s reign over the firm. Exxon-Mobil and Tillerson battled Venezuela over compensation by Caracas. Exxon-Mobil took its case to World Bank arbitration and demanded that Venezuela compensate the company with a $15 billion payment. The bank settled on compensation of only $1.6 billion, an act that ruffled Tillerson’s feathers. Tillerson never forgot that Venezuela won the skirmish over compensation for Exxon-Mobil. Tillerson now intends to even the score by seeking to overthrow Chavez’s successor, Maduro, from power.

In 2015, Exxon-Mobil began oil operations off the coast of Guyana, to Venezuela’s east, in the disputed territory of Essequibo. Although Venezuela and Guyana have sought international arbitration in the case, that did not stop Tillerson, while heading Exxon-Mobil, to order his Guyana subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd., to continue exploring in the disputed region. For Tillerson and his boss, Trump, legal agreements are apparently not worth the paper they are printed on.

While in Jamaica, Tillerson is expected to lean on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to buy out Venezuela’s 49 percent stake in the Jamaican oil refining company, Petrojam. Tillerson wants to subject Caribbean nations, which established cooperative agreements with the Venezuelan oil industry through the PetroCaribe alliance, to cancel those deals to comply with Trump’s punishing Executive Order 13808, which extended “Russia-style” sanctions to Venezuela. Tillerson would like nothing more than to increase Exxon-Mobil’s profits by nixing PetroCaribe agreements with nations like Haiti, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, Honduras, Bahamas, Suriname, St. Kitts-Nevis, and St. Lucia, thus forcing Caribbean nations to purchase more expensive oil and gasoline from Exxon-Mobil.

Tillerson has shown the ugly face of the Trump administration to Latin America. It not only wants to deport millions of undocumented Latin American residents of the United States in a mass movement of displaced persons not seen since World War II, but it wants to change, through bloody coups, governments not to Trump’s pleasing throughout Latin America.

إيران تربح الجولة

Nuclear deal

يناير 13, 2018 

ناصر قنديل

– قبل ثلاثة شهور قرّر الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب تمديد رفع العقوبات عن إيران لتسعين يوماً، وهي مهلة يحدّدها قانون رفع العقوبات ما لم يوقّع الرئيس على تجديد العمل بالتفاهم النووي. وفي نهاية المهلة التي سبقتها توقعات عالية بإعلان الخروج من التفاهم النووي، جدّد الرئيس الأميركي تمديد رفع العقوبات لمرة أخيرة ما يعني وفقاً للقانون الأميركي نفسه الذي أبرم الاتفاق على أساسه، أنّ على الرئيس خلال مئة وعشرين يوماً أن يقرّر البقاء ضمن التفاهم أو الخروج منه.

– كان يمكن للرئيس الأميركي قبل ثلاثة شهور إعلان الخروج من التفاهم الذي وصفه بأنه سيّئ ويعمل ضدّ المصلحة الأميركية. وكان موعد تقرير الرئاسة السنوي للكونغرس مناسبة ليترجم دونالد ترامب وعوده الانتخابية بالخروج من الاتفاق. وها هو مرة بعد مرة يتهرّب من الخروج من التفاهم ويبتكر أسباباً يعلم أنها لن ترتب تغييراً يجيب طلباته، ليدّعي أنه جعل التفاهم مختلفاً ومستجيباً للمصالح الأميركية كما يراها ترامب.

– في المرة الماضية، وهذه المرة أوحى ترامب وإدارته بأنه ذاهب لإلغاء التفاهم ولم يفعل، وفي المرتين قال إنه يريد تعديل التفاهم ووضع بنوداً يعلم أنّ إيران لن تقبلها، فلا دمج للصواريخ البالستية بالاتفاق النووي، ولا لما يسمّى بالنفوذ الإقليمي، ولا استعداد إيرانياً لتعديل بنود دار حولها التفاوض أصلاً، وكاد الرفض الإيراني لما طلبته واشنطن يطيح التفاهم، من دون أن تتراجع إيران، كمثل زيادة مدة التفاهم، أو التفتيش المفتوح.

– يرمي ترامب الكرة في الملعب الأوروبي إعلامياً، لكن الجواب الأوروبي واقعياً بسيط، وهو أنّ أوروبا لا تمانع بجولات تفاوض مع إيران حول الطلبات الأميركية، لكن ماذا لو تتمكّن عملية التفاوض من بلوغ نتائج مرضية للأميركيين والأوروبيين، هل نخرج من الاتفاق الأصلي، والجواب الأوروبي هو النفي بالمطلق، لأنّ الخروج من التفاهم سيعني عودة إيران للتخصيب وسرعة بلوغ عتبة القنبلة النووية، فماذا تفعل أميركا وأوروبا، وهل الذهاب للحرب هو وصفة عاقلة ومفيدة؟

– المعادلة الثانية تنطلق من أنّ سقوط التفاهم النووي يعني عملياً سقوط لغة التفاوض والتفاهمات، التي يشكّل التفاهم النووي إثباتاً لكونها فرضية ممكنة لحلّ المشاكل والقضايا الخلافية وسقوطه يعني إغلاق باب التفاوض والذهاب للتصعيد في قضايا الخلاف الإقليمي والدولي كافة، وأوروبا تشارك أميركا وحلفاءها القلق من برنامج الصواريخ البالستية أو من أشياء أخرى، لكنها تشارك إيران رفض الربط بينها وبين التفاهم على الملف النووي، والدعوة لإعلان تثبيت التفاهم الأصلي كمقدمة لفتح تفاوض منفصل حول ملفات خلافية أخرى.

– ماذا سيفعل ترامب بعد أربعة شهور، هل سيعلن الخروج من التفاهم النووي، وهل ستلتزم أوروبا بنظام العقوبات الأميركية، وكلّ الوقائع الخاصة بالملف معلومة سلفاً، الشهور الأربعة ستكون شهور تصعيد في المنطقة من بوابة فلسطين إلى اليمن إلى سائر الساحات، بما فيها الداخل الإيراني وربما الداخل الروسي أملاً بتغيير المعادلات لترضخ أوروبا لقرار واشنطن بالضغط لتعديل التفاهم النووي تحت طائلة التهديد بإلغائه، لكن الذي جرى في طهران ويجري في القدس واليمن يقول إنّ الزمن المقبل سيكون أسوأ لأميركا، وأنّ إيران التي ربحت الجولة مرتين تتّجه لربح الحرب.

 

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NYT Trumpwashes 70 Years of US Crimes

Source

Trumpwashing—defined as whitewashing, obscuring or rewriting the broader US record by presenting Donald Trump as an aberration (FAIR.org, 6/3/16)—was on full display Thursday in a nominally straight news report from the New York Times’ Mark Landler (12/28/17) on how Trump has reshaped US foreign policy. Buried in the otherwise banal analysis was this gem of US imperial agitprop:

Above all, Mr. Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from a reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable. That is a seminal change from the role the country has played for 70 years, under presidents from both parties, and it has lasting implications for how other countries chart their futures.

There’s lots of ideology to unpack here, but let’s start with the empirically false assertion that the “world” viewed the United States as a “reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order.” Poll (Guardian, 6/15/06) after poll (Pew, 3/14/07) after poll (PRI, 1/3/14) throughout the years has shown that much of the world views the United States as threat to peace, often taking the top spot as the single greatest threat. What evidence Landler has for the world viewing the US as a sort of good-natured global babysitter is unclear, as he cites nothing to support this hugely important claim (since if Trump’s cynical disregard for “human rights” is nothing new, then there’s no real story here). It’s just thrown out with the assumption the Times readership is sufficiently nationalistic and/or amnesiac to either not notice or not care. It’s designed to flatter, not to elucidate.

"Shock and Awe" in Iraq.

The US invasion of Iraq in defiance of international rules.

The second dubious assertion is the idea that the US is “viewed” as being (or, by implication, objectively is) concerned with “liberal, rules-based international order.” Perhaps Landler missed the part where the US runs offshore penal colonies for untried political prisoners, and a decade-long drone war that’s killed thousands—both entirely outside the scope of international law. Or the time the US invaded and destroyed Iraq without any international authorization, killing hundreds of thousands. Or perhaps he missed the part where the United States refuses to sign “liberal, rules-based international order” treaties such as the International Criminal Court or the ban on bombs and or a prohibition on nuclear weapons. Or the part where the US not only doesn’t recognize the International Criminal Court, but has a law on its books (dubbed “the Hague Invasion Act,” passed in 2002) that if an American is ever held by the ICC for committing war crimes, the US is obligated to literally invade the Hague and free them.

And this is just in the past 15 years. Landler, even more laughably, starts the clock in 1947, which would include dozens of non-“liberal,” non-“rules-based” coups, invasions, bombing campaigns, assassinations, extrajudicial murders and so forth. The number of actions carried out by the US not sanctioned by even the thinnest pretext of “international order” is too long to list.

What exactly is this “liberal, rules-based international order,” and when did “the world” view the United States as its most reliable anchor? Landler doesn’t say, he simply asserts this highly contestable and ideological claim, and moves on to pearl-clutch about Trump ruining the US’s hard-won moral authority. He has some 100 percent uncut pro-US ideology to push under the guise of criticizing Trump, and no amount of basic historical facts will get in his way.


h/t @ElwinWay

What Is Happening in Iran? Is Another “Color Revolution” Underway?

Global Research, December 31, 2017

A familiar sight is taking place across Iran tonight and it has been for the last three days. Protests are taking place in numerous cities citing grievances and demanding that the Ayatollah and Iranian President step down. For a few days, the protests remained non-violent but now violence has indeed flared up as protesters have laid waste to a number of government properties and those belonging to “pro-government militias.”

Neo-cons in the American media and the U.S. President are all demanding that Americans stand with the “Iranian people” and the “protesters” in their “fight for freedom.”

The reason this sight is familiar is because we have seen it in Egypt, Libya, and Syria in the past as well as in Iran itself in the late 2000s. Protests that turn violent, a subsequent crackdown that either is violent or is reported as such, and the weight of American propaganda against the target government are all “Arab Spring” repeats that are themselves nothing more than the color revolution/destabilization apparatus that has been used by the West in countries all across the world for decades, particularly in the last twenty years.

What Do The Protesters Want?

The alleged demands of the protesters seem reasonable and legitimate enough. The Western media has, up until this point, been reporting that the main argument being made by the demonstrators center around economic concerns, i.e. falling living standards, unemployment, and rising food prices. However, as the third day of protests took place, the Western media began reporting that the protesters are demanding an end to religious dictatorship and policies of both the Ayatollah Khamenei andPresident Rouhani. According to some reports, female protesters have gone so far as to shout “death to Khamenei” and shed their hijabs in order to construct makeshift flags. Others say the protesters are focused on government corruption.

However, there is much question about these protests. The first question is “Are they organic Iranian protests?” This question has yet to be answered fully. Iran is most certainly a religious dictatorship and many Iranians want freedom from religious rule. However, it should be remembered that the United States and Israel have openly stated a desire to see Iranian influence broken and as recently as 2009, the United States attempted to engineer a color revolution in the country. The first three days of the Green Movement in Iran looked very much like the first three days of this current movement.

Clearly, economic concerns are a major issue in Iran, a country whose economy has been suffering for years under Western sanctions and whose own inability to capitalize on a state-owned National Bank. Official unemployment in Iran is around 12% and it is likely that the real rate is much higher. Despite lifting of some sanctions, there is hardly economic growth in the country, another result of neo-liberal economic and trade policies. Yet, it is also worth noting that Khamenei has also been critical of the poor economy and the handling of economic issues by the government yet Khamenei is being insulted at the protests.

These demands are not unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination. However, the religious protests come at a very odd time. Iran recently liberalized its laws regarding women’s forced head coverings, so why protest now over religious laws?

In addition, special attention must be paid to the concept of “government corruption,” a hallmark of color revolutions since government corruption is often more of a conceptual issue than anything concrete. A step down from power from a few key people, wrist slaps, and token reform can all achieve an “end” to corruption while more concrete demands need concrete applications and thus present a minor loss to those who will taking over the rains of power after the demonstrations have ceased.

There are also more concerning demands that can be found in the slogans being chanted by the demonstrators. First, in case it could be missed, the demonstrators are calling for the Ayatollah and the President to step down. In other words, they are calling for regime change. This is precisely what the United States, GCC, NATO, and Israel also want to see happen.

Second, numerous demonstrators are chanting “Let go of Palestine,” and “Not for Gaza, Not for Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran.” Again, protesters are now chanting foreign policy demands identical to that desired by the United States, NATO, GCC, and Israel. All this in a protest that is supposed to be about economic concerns.

Moon of Alabama, in its article entitled “Iran – Regime Change Agents Hijack Economic Protests,” reveals a number of important reports regarding the beginning of the protests and where they stand currently. MOA writes,

Protests against the (neo-)liberal economic policies of the Rohani government in Iran are justified. Official unemployment in Iran is above 12% and there is hardly any economic growth. The people in the streets are not the only ones who are dissatisfied with this:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly criticized the government’s economic record, said on Wednesday that the nation was struggling with “high prices, inflation and recession”, and asked officials to resolve the problems with determination.

On Thursday and today the slogans of some protesters turned the call for economic relief into a call for regime change.

. . . . .

Today, Friday and the weekly day off in Iran, several more protest took place in other cities. A Reuters report from today:

About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars called a “call by the anti-revolution” and shouted “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, while destroying some public property. Fars did not name any opposition groups.

Footage, which could not be verified, showed protests in other cities including Sari and Rasht in the north, Qom south of Tehran, and Hamadan in the west.

Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a Tehran square and most left after being asked by police, but a few who refused were “temporarily detained”, the ILNA news agency reported.

Some of these protests have genuine economic reasons but get hijacked by other interests:

In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back wages.

“The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” the resident said by telephone.

Purely political protests are rare in Iran […] but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.

Alamolhoda, the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in northeastern Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of Thursday’s protests against rising prices to chant slogans against Iran’s role in regional conflicts.

“Some people had came to express their demands, but suddenly, in a crowd of hundreds, a small group that did not exceed 50 shouted deviant and horrendous slogans such as ‘Let go of Palestine’, ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran’,” Alamolhoda said.

Media and Neo-Con Support

While it is to be expected from a virulently anti-Iran administration and mainstream press in the United States, it is interesting how the U.S. President immediately has latched on the protests, encouraging Americans to stand with the protesters and their demands. This is coming from a man who rarely sees a protest that isn’t directed at him. Meanwhile, Neo-Con organs like FOX News are also repeating calls for Americans to support the brave “freedom fighters” in Iran. It is seldom, if ever, true that evil does good in the world so when Neo-Cons call for support to protests, eyebrows should be raised in skepticism.

It is also important to question just how popular these protests are. While mainstream western media and various terrorist organizations also conveniently supporting them paint them as involving tens of thousands at each demonstration, video and pictures tend to show only dozens to hundreds at the most while others wander about around them.

“A video of that protest in Mashad showed some 50 people chanting slogans with more bystander just milling around,” writes MOA. . . . . “Two videos posted by BBC Persian and others I have seen show only small active protest groups with a dozen or so people while many more are just standing by or film the people who are chanting slogans.”

Trump Administration/Israel Agreement

The protests taking place in Iran are taking place only a month after the White House and Tel Aviv met to discuss a strategy on Iran.

“A delegation led by Israel’s National Security Adviser met with senior American officials in the White House earlier this month for a joint discussion on strategy to counter Iran’s aggression in the Middle East, a senior U.S. official confirmed to Haaretz,” wrote Haaretz agency. (Israeli Delegation Met U.S. Officials to Discuss ‘Iran Strategy,’ Syria)

AXIOS provides a quote from the meeting:

[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.

Could this apparent color revolution be the result of that US/Israeli meeting?

Color Revolution In Iran

The idea that a color revolution could be attempted in Iran is no fantasy. It would be a repeat of history. Remember, in 2009, an attempt at a color revolution deemed the “Green Revolution” was launched but was quickly put down by the iron fist of the Iranian government.

The Path To Persia

The plan for a Western or a Western/Israeli attack on Iran, along with the theatre of alleged US-Israeli tensions leading up to a strike and outright war, has been in the works for some time. For instance, in 2009, the Brookings Institution, a major banking, corporate, and military-industrial firm, released a report entitled “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy For Iran,” in which the authors mapped out a plan which leaves no doubt as to the ultimate desire from the Western financier, corporate, and governing classes.

Screenshot from Brookings report: “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy For Iran,”

The plan involves the description of a number of ways the Western oligarchy would be able to destroy Iran including outright military invasion and occupation (see table of contents above). However, the report attempts to outline a number of methods that might possibly be implemented before direct military invasion would be necessary. The plan included attempting to foment destabilization inside Iran via the color revolution apparatus, violent unrest, proxy terrorism, and “limited airstrikes” conducted by the US, Israel or both.

The report states,

Because the Iranian regime is widely disliked by many Iranians, the most obvious and palatable method of bringing about its demise would be to help foster a popular revolution along the lines of the “velvet revolutions” that toppled many communist governments in Eastern Europe beginning in 1989. For many proponents of regime change, it seems self-evident that the United States should encourage the Iranian people to take power in their own name, and that this would be the most legitimate method of regime change. After all, what Iranian or foreigner could object to helping the Iranian people fulfill their own desires?

Moreover, Iran’s own history would seem to suggest that such an event is plausible. During the 1906 Constitutional Movement, during the late 1930s, arguably during the 1950s, and again during the 1978 Iranian Revolution, coalitions of intellectuals, students, peasants, bazaari merchants, Marxists, constitutionalists, and clerics mobilized against an unpopular regime. In both 1906 and 1978, the revolutionaries secured the support of much of the populace and, in so doing, prevailed. There is evidence that the Islamic regime has antagonized many (perhaps all) of these same factions to the point where they again might be willing to support a change if they feel that it could succeed. This is the foundational belief of those Americans who support regime change, and their hope is that the United States can provide whatever the Iranian people need to believe that another revolution is feasible.

Of course, popular revolutions are incredibly complex and rare events. There is little scholarly consensus on what causes a popular revolution, or even the conditions that facilitate them. Even factors often associated with revolutions, such as military defeat, neglect of the military, economic crises, and splits within the elite have all been regular events across the world and throughout history, but only a very few have resulted in a popular revolution. Consequently, all of the literature on how best to promote a popular revolution— in Iran or anywhere else—is highly speculative. Nevertheless, it is the one policy option that holds out the prospect that the United States might eliminate all of the problems it faces from Iran, do so at a bearable cost, and do so in a manner that is acceptable to the Iranian people and most of the rest of the world.

Conclusion

While the situation in Iran continues to develop, it appears that another color revolution is underway. While many of the demands are legitimate, all signs are pointing toward Western treachery in an attempt to break Iran in the final domino to fall in the Middle East before an even bigger confrontation is ignited. Destroying Iran would also destroy Hezbollah, weaken Syria and Russia, and threaten Israel. Whether or not it will succeed will depend on the level of subversion that has been possible by the United States intelligence apparatus since 2009 and the ability of Iran to squash the revolt. If anything can be learned from the 2009 revolution, Iran will move quickly and will smash the protests with an iron fist. However, if the protests taking place in Iran today are indeed a color revolution and if the West is committed, the Path to Persia will likely see an escalation in activity, violence, and ultimately directly military confrontation by proxy and even by the U.S. military itself.

We will be following these protests in detail over the coming days.

Brandon Turbeville writes for Activist Post – article archive here – He is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The OutcomeTurbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

Hezbollah Is Not a Threat to America

Global Research, November 03, 2017

Featured image: Hezbollah’s supporters at Liberation Day, Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, 25 May 2014. (Source: Shutterstock/Gabirelle Pedrini)

Western-backed militants are in retreat, Bashar al-Assad remains president, Hezbollah has stretched its wings regionally, Israeli power is in decline, and Iran is on the rise. Not a pretty result for Washington’s multi-billion dollar investment in the Syrian conflict, especially if it was intended to change the map of the region to favor U.S. interests.

The Trump administration is therefore moving to hit its regional adversaries on alternative, non-military fronts—mainly, employing the sanctions tool that can cripple economies, besiege communities, and stir up public discontent.

The first step was to decertify the nuclear agreement struck between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), which would open up a pathway to further U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The second step is to resuscitate the Hezbollah “threat” and isolate the organization using legal maneuvers and financial sanctions—what one pro-U.S. Lebanese Central Bank official calls “the new tools of imperialism.”

The U.S. listed Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization” 20 years ago this month. Most other states, as well as the United Nations Security Council, have not.

Two weeks ago, at a State Department briefing on the Hezbollah “threat,” National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas J. Rasmussen tried to paint a picture of an organization that was directing “terrorism acts worldwide” and posing a threat “to U.S. interests” including “here in the homeland.”

“Prior to September 11,” Rasmussen claimed, “I think everybody knows Hezbollah was responsible for the terrorism-related deaths of more U.S. citizens than any other foreign terrorist organization.”

This was news indeed.

A check with a State Department spokesperson confirmed that the “deaths of more U.S. citizens than any other foreign terrorist organization” claim was in reference to the following incidents:

“Hezbollah is responsible for multiple large scale terrorist attacks, including the 1983 suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut; the 1984 attack on the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut; and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem was murdered,” explained the spokesperson in an email.

The 1983 attack on the Beirut barracks took the lives of 241 Americans. The 1983 U.S. embassy bombing killed 17 Americans, and the 1984 attack on the relocated embassy facilities killed two Americans.

Hezbollah has officially and consistently denied involvement in these suicide bombings and was not even established as an organization until 1985. Some write off this important discrepancy by arguing that the bombings would have been conducted by one of Hezbollah’s “precursor organizations,” albeit without providing evidence to prove the point. The U.S. secretary of defense at the time of the bombings, Caspar Weinberger, told PBS almost two decades later, in 2001:

“We still do not have the actual knowledge of who did the bombing of the Marine barracks at the Beirut Airport… and we certainly didn’t then.”

What was the U.S. reaction to the Beirut bombings in 1982? Did it retaliate against this phantom Hezbollah or its “precursor” organizations? No. In what was the heaviest shore bombardment by a U.S. naval vessel since the Korean war, the Americans retreating from Lebanon launched 300 missiles inland, killing hundreds of Druze and Shia non-combatants. In their book Best Laid Plans: The Inside Story of America’s War Against TerrorismDavid C. Martin and John Walcott write about the incident:

In a nine-hour period, the U.S.S. New Jersey fired 288 16-inch rounds, each one weighing as much as a Volkswagen Beetle. In those nine-hours, the ship consumed 40 percent of the 16-inch ammunition available in the entire European theater…in one burst of wretched excess.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Hezbollah was officially fingered in the embassy bombing. In a 30-page decision that resulted from a lawsuit filed by the victims’ families, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said Hezbollah carried out the attack at the behest of Iran and its Ministry of Information and Security. This was based in part with an alleged Hezbollah bomber who said he was directed “to go forward with attacks” in Lebanon at that time. Critics have called this a “show trial,” comparing it to the 2016 U.S. trial that blamed Iran for the September 11 terrorist attacks, despite the fact that 15 Saudis (and no Iranians) were among the hijackers and the U.S. intelligence community has identified links between Saudi officials and some of the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, the Beirut barracks bombing targeted servicemen from the U.S. and France. This was in the context of Israel’s invasion and occupation of Lebanon in 1982. The Israeli military at the time had been heavily armed and outfitted by the United States. The victims were not non-combatants—they were military forces belonging to governments that were perceived by Lebanese as aiding the aggression against sovereign Lebanon.

Whatever the case and whomever the perpetrator, you don’t get to call such an action “terrorism.” It’s an irrational American narrative that time and time again confounds the Middle East: If the U.S. kills you, you are collateral damage. But if you shoot back, you are a terrorist.

Not Hezbollah

“It’s not really Hezbollah’s modus operandi,” mused former UK Ambassador Frances Guy about the massive car bomb that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri along Beirut’s seafront. We were discussing likely perpetrators during my visit to Beirut in 2010, and Guy told me that the Lebanese resistance group doesn’t really “do” high-octane car bombings in public spaces.

Nonetheless, four Hezbollah operatives stand accused of assassinating Hariri by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), a highly politicized UN investigative body that shifted its focus from one western political adversary to another, until finally settling on Hezbollah.

A revealing Wikileaks cable from 2008 shows the STL’s chief investigator begging the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon to provide the names of “leads” to pursue in Syria. “You are the key player,” he implores Ambassador Michele Sison, adding that the U.S. has “a big investment in the Tribunal.”

In a rare candid moment during an off-the-record meeting in 2011, another senior British official dropped this bombshell:

“The [UN] Tribunal is useful for us to keep the Iranians in line. We don’t have too many tools left to do that.”

Shortly after my meeting with Ambassador Guy in 2010, she was raked over the coals for a blog she posted on the passing of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah—a Lebanese Shia cleric the U.S. has consistently, and many believe incorrectly, called “Hezbollah’s spiritual leader.” She wrote:

Frances Guy

When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person…The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints. May he rest in peace.

Israelis were incensed by Guy’s admiration for the Hezbollah-supporting cleric, and her blog post was scrubbed. But the UK nevertheless sent an official to pay condolences at Fadlallah’s Hassanein mosque, followed by a procession of ambassadors from France, Belgium, Poland, and Denmark. The French and Spanish ambassadors and the UN secretary general sent condolences to Hezbollah too.

Foreign Policy magazine published a piece upon Fadlallah’s death, subtitled: “How the United States got Lebanon’s leading Shiite cleric dead wrong—and missed a chance to change the Middle East forever.” That cryptic sentence refers, of course, to the monumentally misguided off-the-books assassination attempt against Ayatollah Fadlallah organized by CIA Director William Casey in the aftermath of the barracks and embassy bombings—despite the fact that the U.S., per Weinberger’s claims, had no clue who did not.

According to an interview Casey gave to the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, the CIA chief arranged for Saudi funding for the covert operation using Lebanese militias to do the dirty work. Fadlallah escaped death, but 80 others died in the southern Beirut suburb that day, including the brother of a young Imad Mughniyeh, who went on to become a leader of Hezbollah’s security operations.

He had been only nine years old in July 1972, when the Israelis set off Beirut’s first car bomb near the southern suburb where he lived, killing Palestinian poet Ghassan Kanafani and others.

Mughniyeh, you may recall, was himself killed in a car bomb in Damascus in February 2008. In the immediate aftermath of that assassination, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell seemed to misdirect reporters:

“There’s some evidence that it may have been internal Hezbollah. It may have been Syria. We don’t know yet, and we’re trying to sort that out.”

No, it wasn’t Hezbollah and it wasn’t Syria. Seven years later, a series of orchestrated leaks to Newsweek and the Washington Post revealed that the Mughniyeh car bombing came courtesy of a joint operation by the CIA and Mossad.

No Threat to Americans

“Hezbollah is not plotting against us,” former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a small group of anti-government Syrians on the sidelines of the UN’s General Assembly plenary session a year ago.

Kerry’s comments were caught on an audio tape acquired by the New York Times. Asked why the U.S. fights extremist Sunni groups and not Shia ones, he replied:

The reason for [airstrikes against the Sunni Extremists] is because they have basically declared war on us, and are plotting against us, and Hezbollah is not plotting against us— Hezbollah is exclusively focused on Israel, who they’re not attacking now, and on Syria, where they are attacking in support of Assad.

Now, a mere year later, Rasmussen wants us to believe:

“We in the Intelligence Community do, in fact, see continued activity on behalf of Hezbollah here inside the homeland.”

So which is it? Is Hezbollah targeting Americans or not? The evidence of this is extremely slim and is peppered with more use of qualifying terms—-“allegedly,” “reportedly,” “assessments,” “linkages”—than any objective journalist can comfortably swallow. So too are U.S. reports of Hezbollah’s “international terrorist activities.”

American investigative reporter Gareth Porter has done deep dives on various allegations of Hezbollah-linked “terrorism” in ArgentinaBulgariaWashington, DCIndiaSaudi Arabia and other places. The State Department lists many of these incidents as evidence of the “global threat” Hezbollah poses, but always, upon further scrutiny, the accusations ring hollow.

If there was compelling evidence of the Lebanese resistance group’s involvement in all these attacks, then why have so few nations clamored onto the Hezbollah-is-a-terrorist-organization bandwagon? Until the conflict in Syria kicked off, it was restricted to a smattering of western states and Israel. But relentless U.S. pressure, and the seismic battle currently underway in the Middle East between pro-U.S. states and pro-Iran states vying for hegemony, have produced a smattering few recent additions.

In early 2016, the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) designated Hezbollah a terrorist group, followed a few days later by the 21-member Arab League, with Lebanon and Iraq voting against the measure.

Both organizations are heavily dominated by the immensely wealthy and sectarian (read: anti-Shia) Saudis, financial patrons to many Sunni leaders in the region, and a country entrenched in existential proxy battles in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Bahrain (against Hezbollah ally and U.S. foe, Iran).

What stands out, instead, is the European Union’s fuzzy position on Hezbollah. Despite U.S. insistence that the group in its entirely is a terrorist organization, the EU lists only Hezbollah’s “military wing” as such—and that designation was made only in 2013, when the Syrian conflict exploded and nations started taking hard sides in the Middle East. The “military wing” caveat is a critical distinction that reveals there are more layers to this onion than we see in State Department sound bites.

For Lebanon, Hezbollah is more than just the first Arab force to militarily expel the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from its territory permanently. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is a political party too, with members of parliament and seats in the cabinet. The group runs a remarkable array of social services across the country, from subsidized schools, hospitals and clinics, to agricultural centers and environmental programs.

Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan introduced a more nuanced image of the group to a Washington think tank audience in 2009:

Hezbollah started out as purely a terrorist organization in the early ’80s and has evolved significantly over time. And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hezbollah organization … And so, quite frankly, I’m pleased to see that a lot of Hezbollah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion.

Furthermore, Hezbollah’s appeal is not limited to Lebanon’s Shia community. Since 2006, Hezbollah has been in a political alliance with the country’s largest Christian-based political party, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), whose leader, General Michel Aoun, is currently president of Lebanon.

Aoun’s close association with Hezbollah is an irritant to Washington, and so the Trump administration is pushing to tighten the sanctions noose on Lebanon, too. In September, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to strengthen the 2015 Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act. Congressmen claim the new measures won’t harm regular Lebanese civilians, but there is a dangerous trend underway to punish anyone who supports Hezbollah’s civic, social, and religious initiatives.

This concern by the Lebanese is fully justified if you listen to State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan A. Sales, who insists:

Money given to a terrorist organization, even for purportedly non-terroristic purposes, ends up assisting the group’s terroristic activities. If you give money to the so-called peaceful side of an organization, money is fungible. And so that frees up resources that can then be used for malign activities that have nothing to do with charitable work or other purposes that we might regard as legitimate. And so it’s important for us to maintain that distinction as false. The distinction between political and terroristic is false.

The Lebanese resistance was formed in reaction to Israel’s illegal invasion and occupation of Lebanon. As Kerry says, that’s where Hezbollah’s real fight is—with Israel.

Washington should leave it to the two to duke it out. This is not America’s fight. Hezbollah has saved Lebanon—and much of the Levant—not once, but twice, from bloody aggressions. In fact, maybe I’ll take them out to lunch in Beirut and pay the bill. I daresay that could be regarded as a financial contribution to Hezbollah, and that would make me a “terrorist,” too.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Mideast geopolitics, based in Beirut.

Irish politician to ST: The West, EU, US aggravate Syrian people’s suffering by sanctions

 Thursday, 02 November 2017 09:54

Irish politician to ST: It is not up to anybody other than the Syrian people to decide their representation

The Irish politician Clare Daly, who recently visited Syria along with European delegation, has affirmed that the West and the European Union are aggravating the Syrian people’s suffering by sanctions and the U.S. support for Saudi Arabia and Israel in the region.

She has spoken for many times before the Irish parliament about the terrible suffering that the Syrian people have had to endure and she pushed her country’s government to argue in the EU to lift sanction imposed on Syria and to oppose the influence of Israel as well as to stop the west’s facilitation to those who are waging war on Syria.

“Ireland is a small country in Europe but internationally we punch well above our weight. Our country is supposed to be neutral and our people are very proud of that position, even though our government bends the rules and facilitates the US military in using one of our airports in the west of Ireland. They say this is only allowed on the basis that the planes are unarmed and not involved in military exercises. This is ridiculous. Why do they keep flying through our airport every day if they are not involved in military exercises in the Middle East? We have used the parliament to highlight these issues, have been arrested breaking into the airport at Shannon to try and search the planes ourselves. This put a lot of attention on the issue and what is going on in the Middle East. We push our government to argue in the EU to lift the sanctions and to oppose the influence of Israel, and for the West to stop facilitating those who are continuing to arm and finance those waging war in Syria,” the politician said in an email sent to the Syriatimes newspaper about the role of the Irish Members of Parliament in explaining the reality of events in Syria.

She underlined that western powers or those they are bolstering, who are arming and financing the ‘rebels’ need to back off and facilitate an agreed negotiated settlement to end the war through the offices of the UN or an agreed international body.

“Pre-conditions to such negotiations like the removal of president Bashar al-Assad are unacceptable. It is not up to anybody other than the Syrian people to decide their representation,” Daly added, indicating that the EU delegation’s members, who recently visited Syria, will do what they can to allow Syria decides its own fate far away from outside interference.

“Incredible experience”

The Irish MP told us that the EU delegation came to Syria to see for themselves what life is like for ordinary Syrian people after seven years of war and their real feelings about what the future should hold.

“We had an incredible experience in a very short time. Syria is obviously a very beautiful country with an almost unrivaled history, wonderful food and friendly people. People have suffered much and the presence or effects of war are very obvious everywhere, but we met so many people who are proud of their country and want the chance to rebuild it, that it was a very humbling experience for us. People proudly spoke of Syria’s mosaic of different religions and traditions but all united by the love of their country,” Daly asserted.

She pointed out that the delegation visited areas that had been secured by the Syrian army after they had experienced terrible destruction of homes, buildings, and families.

“There was a strong determination to get things back to the way they were. The people we met who have been displaced are the most vulnerable, many are deeply traumatized and sad and they will need a lot of help and support to move on with their lives,” Daly underscored.

She concluded by saying: “To witness the resilience of the human spirit in the face of huge challenges was really striking. We look forward to our return and will do what we can to urge the world to allow Syria decides its own fate, free from outside interference.”

By the end of last month [October], a delegation composed of activists from Ireland, Romania, Spain, Norway and Sweden visited Syria.

Since 2011, a foreign-backed terror war has been waged against Syria targeting its people, army, civilization and infrastructures in accordance with US-Zionist plot that aims to fragment the region and to have hegemony over its wealth.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

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